Daisy Miller by James Henry



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Chapter 1: Veney, Switzerland

Vevey is a beautiful little town on the shore of a very blue lake in Switzerland. Tourism is the business of the place, and there are many hotels. American tourists particularly like the hotel called the Trois Couronnes. Two years ago, a young American named Frederick Winterbourne spent a few days there. He had come from Geneva to see his aunt, Mrs Costello, who was staying at the Trois Couronnes. The morning after Winterbourne arrived in Vevey, his aunt had a headache, so he was free to sit in the garden of the hotel and enjoy its beauties. He sat by the wall, looking out at the Castle of Chillon, which stood on a small island in the lake.

Winterbourne was twenty-seven years old and had lived in Geneva for a long time. He had been at school and university there. When his friends spoke of him, they usually said that he was at Geneva ‘studying’. When certain other people spoke of him they said that he spent so much time in Geneva because he was very attached to a lady who lived there – a European lady – a person older than himself. None of his American friends had ever met this lady.

As Winterbourne was drinking his coffee in the garden of the Trois Couronnes, a small boy came up to him and said, ‘Can you give me a lump of sugar?’

Winterbourne noticed that the boy spoke with an American accent. He pointed to the bowl of sugar and said, ‘Take one, but I don’t think sugar is good for little boys.’

The boy took three lumps of sugar. He put two in his pocket and one in his mouth. ‘I eat sugar lumps,’ he said, ‘because I can’t get any candy here. American candy is the best.’

‘And are American boys the best?’ asked Winterbourne.

‘I don’t know,’ said the child. ‘I am an American boy. Are you an American man?’

‘Yes.’

‘American men are the best!’ said the boy. Then, looking round, he added, ‘Here comes my sister!’

Winterbourne looked up and saw a beautiful young lady coming towards them. ‘American girls are the best!’ he said cheerfully to his companion.

‘My sister isn’t the best,’ said the boy. ‘She’s always criticising me.’

‘That’s probably your fault, not hers,’ said Winterbourne. The young lady was dressed very elegantly in white. ‘How pretty they are!’ thought Winterbourne, preparing to get up.

The young lady stopped in front of him. She looked out over the blue lake. ‘Randolph!’ she said. ‘What are you doing?’

‘I’m talking to this man,’ said Randolph. ‘He’s an American.’

Winterbourne stood up and said, ‘Your brother and I have been discussing America.’ He felt a little embarrassed: in Geneva, a gentleman could not speak to a young lady without being formally introduced. The young lady looked at him quickly then looked back at the lake.

‘We’ve been talking about American candy,’ said the boy. ‘I don’t want to go to Italy. I want to go home to America!’

‘Are you going to Italy?’ asked Winterbourne.

‘Yes,’ replied the young lady.

‘Italy is a beautiful place.’

‘But can you get any candy there?’ asked Randolph.

‘I think you’ve had enough candy,’ said his sister, ‘and Mother thinks so too.’

‘Isn’t this a splendid lake?’ said Winterbourne. He no longer felt embarrassed, because he realised that the young lady did not feel embarrassed. When she looked at him, her eyes were honest and fresh. They were very pretty eyes. In fact, she was the prettiest girl he had seen for a long time. Her face was delicate but perhaps a little vulgar; it was bright, sweet, and superficial. He thought that she might be a flirt, but her expression was too innocent. Before long, she was speaking to him freely. She told him that she was going to Rome for the winter with her mother and Randolph. She told him that she was from New York State.

‘Her name’s Daisy Miller,’ said Randolph. ‘But that isn’t her real name. Her real name is Annie P. Miller. And my father’s name is Ezra B. Miller. He’s back in New York State. He’s got a big business. My father’s rich.’

Miss Miller sat down and talked to Winterbourne while Randolph ran round the garden. She talked a lot – about her family, about her travels in Europe, about the hotels and the trains. Sometimes she looked at Winterbourne, and sometimes she looked out at the lake.

‘The hotels are very good,’ said Miss Daisy Miller. ‘And I think Europe is perfectly sweet. I’m not disappointed – not at all. I knew a lot about Europe before I came here. I have lots of friends at home who have travelled in Europe, and they told me all about it. And back home I have lots of dresses from Paris…’

Winterbourne enjoyed this conversation. It was many years since he had heard a young girl talk so much.

‘The only thing I don’t like about Europe is the society,’ said Miss Miller. ‘I like society. Last winter seventeen dinners were given in my honour, three of them by gentlemen.’ She looked at him with her slightly monotonous smile and said, ‘I’ve always had a lot of gentlemen friends.’

Winterbourne was amused, perplexed, and charmed. He felt that he had lived too long in Geneva and therefore could no longer understand young American girls. He had never met a girl like this before. Was she simply a pretty girl from New York – were they all like that? Or was she an immoral young woman? She looked extremely innocent. Winterbourne decided that she was just a pretty American flirt. He was happy to have found a formula to describe Miss Daisy Miller.

‘Have you been to that old castle?’ asked Miss Miller, pointing to the Castle of Chillon.

‘Yes.’

‘I want to go there, but Randolph doesn’t want to go.’

‘You could ask someone to stay with Randolph at the hotel.’

‘Will you stay with him?’

‘Can’t I come to the Castle of Chillon with you?’ asked Winterbourne. He was afraid that he had offended her, but she did not blush. ‘And your mother, of course,’ he said very respectfully.

‘Oh, Mother won’t come,’ said Miss Daisy Miller. ‘She’ll stay with Randolph, and Eugenio will stay too – he’s our courier – so we can go to the castle.’

Winterbourne thought, ‘”We” can only mean Miss Miller and I, it’s too good to be true!’

At that moment Eugenio came up to them. He looked at Winterbourne with suspicion then said, ‘Lunch is ready, mademoiselle.’

‘Oh, Eugenio!’ Daisy Miller replied, ‘I’m going to that old castle anyway.’

‘Really?’ said Eugenio. He looked at Winterbourne disrespectfully.

Miss Miller blushed a little. ‘We are going, aren’t we?’ she asked Winterbourne.

‘I won’t be happy until we go!’ he said.

‘And you are staying at this hotel?’ she continued. ‘And you really are an American?’

‘I’ll introduce you to my aunt, Mrs Costello. She can tell you all about me.’

‘Oh, well,’ said Daisy Miller, ‘we’ll go some day.’ She smiled at Winterbourne and walked back to the hotel with Eugenio.

 

 

CHAPTER 2: Mrs Costello

The next day, Winterbourne went to see his aunt in her room.

‘I hope you’re feeling better,’ he said.

‘A little,’ replied Mrs Costello. She was a rich widow and an important figure of New York society. She had a long pale face and a lot of white hair. She had two married sons in New York and a third son who was travelling in Europe but had not come to see her. Winterbourne had come to Vevey just to see his aunt. She often told him that he paid more attention to her than her own sons did.

‘Have you noticed an American family here at the hotel?’ asked Winterbourne. ‘A family called Miller?’

‘A mother, a daughter, a little boy, and a courier? Oh, yes! I’ve noticed them!’ said Mrs Costello. ‘I confess I’m very exclusive, but in New York you have to be. There are so many vulgar people in society these days. That Miller family is a perfect example.’

‘The young girl is very pretty,’ said Winterbourne.

‘Of course she’s pretty, but she’s very vulgar. She’s too friendly with the courier. Her mother is just as bad. They treat the courier like a family friend. He probably eats dinner with them. I’m sure they’ve never seen a man with such good manners, such fine clothes, so like a gentleman! He sits with them in the garden and smokes cigars.’

‘I see what you mean, of course,’ said the young man, ‘but I met the young lady in the garden. I’d like to introduce her to you.’

‘I’m afraid I can’t meet her! Why do you want to introduce her to me?’

‘To guarantee my respectability.’

‘But who’ll guarantee hers?’

‘Ah, you’re cruel!’ said the young man. ‘She’s a very nice girl and completely unsophisticated. I’m going to take her to the Castle of Chillon.’

‘Really? And how long had you known her when this plan was formed?’ asked Mrs Costello in surprise.

‘Half an hour!’ said Winterbourne, smiling.

‘Oh, what a terrible girl!’ cried Mrs Costello. ‘My dear Frederick, you’ve been away from America too long. You’re too innocent. You’ll make some great mistake.’

‘I’m not so innocent!’

‘You’re too guilty, then!’

Winterbourne sat in silence for a while then said, ‘So I can’t introduce her to you?’

‘No. I can’t accept a girl who talks to strangers in hotels.’

‘But don’t all the young girls in America do that sort of thing?’

‘My grand-daughters don’t do that sort of thing!’ said Mrs Costello.

Winterbourne had heard his pretty cousins in New York described as ‘terrible flirts’. If Miss Daisy Miller did things that his cousins did not do, she must be very unconventional indeed. Winterbourne was impatient to see her again.

That evening, he met Miss Daisy Miller walking in the garden. She seemed very pleased to see him.

‘Have you been walking here all alone?’ he asked.

‘No,’ she replied. ‘I’ve been walking with Mother, but she’s gone to find Randolph. She wants him to go to bed. He doesn’t like to go to bed before eleven.’

Winterbourne and Daisy walked in the garden together. ‘I hear that your aunt is very exclusive,’ said Daisy. ‘I want to meet her. I know I’ll like her.’

Winterbourne was embarrassed. ‘I’m afraid she often has headaches,’ he said.

Daisy looked at him for a moment then said, ‘She doesn’t want to meet me! Why don’t you just say so? You needn’t be afraid. I’m not afraid!’ She gave a little nervous laugh.

Winterbourne wanted to comfort her. He wanted to tell her that his aunt was a snob and that her opinion was not important. But just then a lady came into the garden and stood at a distance from them, looking out at the lake.

‘Oh. There’s Mother,’ said Daisy Miller.

Mrs Miller was a small nervous-looking person, very elegantly dressed, with enormous diamonds in her ears.

‘I should go,’ said Winterbourne.

‘No, no,’ replied Daisy. ‘I want to introduce you to Mother. I always introduce my gentlemen friends to Mother.’

‘She doesn’t seem to want to be introduced to me,’ said Winterbourne, since Mrs Miller still had not looked at him.

‘She’s very shy,’ Daisy explained, then she took Winterbourne over to meet her mother. ‘Mother, this is Mr Winterbourne,’ said Daisy very prettily. Yes, Miss Daisy Miller was vulgar, as Mrs Costello had said, but Winterbourne thought she also had an unusual and delicate grace.

‘Did you convince Randolph to go to bed?’ asked Daisy.

‘No,’ replied Mrs Miller. ‘He won’t go.’

‘He won’t do what he’s told,’ said Daisy. ‘He won’t go to that castle either, so I’m going with Mr Winterbourne.’

‘It’s a beautiful castle, Mrs Miller,’ said Winterbourne. ‘Don’t you want to see it?’

‘No, thank you,’ said Mrs Miller. ‘Daisy will go, though.’ Winterbourne thought how very different Mrs Miller was from the vigilant mothers of Geneva. They never let their daughters go anywhere unprotected.

‘Mr Winterbourne,’ said Daisy suddenly. ‘Will you take me out in a boat?’

‘Now?’

‘Yes, now.’

‘Well, Annie Miller!’ cried her mother.

‘I’m sure that Mr Winterbourne wants to take me out in a boat!’ said Daisy, laughing.

‘But what time is it? I’m sure it’s time to go to bed!’ said Mrs Miller.

‘It’s eleven o’clock, madam,’ said a voice from the darkness. ‘Oh, Eugenio,’ said Daisy. ‘I’m going out in a boat!’

‘At eleven o’clock, mademoiselle?’

‘Please tell her she can’t go,’ said Mrs Miller to the courier. ‘Does mademoiselle want to go alone?’ asked Eugenio.

‘No,’ Mrs Miller replied. ‘She wants to go with this gentleman!’ Eugenio looked at Winterbourne, then he said, ‘As mademoiselle pleases.’

‘Why don’t you say no?’ said Daisy to the courier. ‘I don’t want to go now.’ She turned to Winterbourne, smiled, and said, ‘Good night. I hope you’re disgusted or disappointed or something.’

‘I’m confused,’ said Winterbourne. He stood and watched the two ladies and their courier as they walked back into the hotel.

CHAPTER 3: The Castle of Chillon

Two days later, Winterbourne and Miss Miller went to the Castle of Chillon. They met by the main door of the hotel. Daisy ran down the stairs, with a bright smile on her face. She was simply but elegantly dressed. All the couriers, servants, and foreign tourists in the main hall stared at her. To Winterbourne their trip to the castle seemed romantic: he thought of it as an adventure, and he hoped that she did too, but in this respect he was disappointed. She seemed happy but not excited. She did not blush when she looked at him or when she saw that other people were looking at her. Winterbourne wanted to go to the castle in a carriage, over the wooden bridge that connected the island to the shore, but Daisy said that she preferred to go in the little steamboat. She liked the breeze on the lake.

The steamboat was very crowded, and the people stared at Miss Daisy Miller. Winterbourne thought, ‘Will she embarrass me by talking too loudly or laughing too much?’ But soon he forgot those anxieties. He stood smiling at her and listening to her conversation. He had agreed with his aunt when she had said that Miss Daisy Miller was vulgar, but now he felt uncertain. ‘Is she really vulgar?’ he asked himself, watching her pretty face. Winterbourne did not feel embarrassed by her at all. In fact, he felt rather proud to be with such a beautiful and elegant young lady.

She talked a lot, and most of her conversation was about the things she had seen and done. She asked him many questions about his life and opinions, and she told him about herself and her family. At one point, she turned to him and said, ‘Why are you so serious?’

‘Serious?’ asked the young man in surprise. ‘I thought I was grinning from ear to ear!’

‘You look as if you were taking me to a funeral. If that’s a grin, your ears are very close together!’

‘I’m having the time of my life,’ said Winterbourne quietly.

She looked at him for a moment then laughed: ‘I like to make you say those things! You’re a strange mixture!’

It was a beautiful sunny day. At the castle, they walked around alone except for the guide. Winterbourne asked the guide not to hurry, to let them pause wherever they pleased. He gave the guide a generous tip as he said this. The guide thought he was being paid to leave them in peace, and he did so.

Daisy ran up the stairs and looked out of the little windows with great enthusiasm, but Winterbourne could see that she was not really interested in the old castle. She asked him about the history of the place, and when he had explained it, she said, ‘You certainly know a lot. Do you want to come travelling with us and teach Randolph?’

‘I’m afraid I can’t,’ Winterbourne replied.

‘Why not? You don’t work. You’re not in business. Why can’t you do what you want?’

‘There are things I must do in Geneva. In fact, I must go back there tomorrow.’

‘I don’t believe it!’ cried Miss Daisy Miller.

‘I’m afraid it’s true.’

‘Well, Mr Winterbourne, I think you’re horrible!’ For the next ten minutes she kept repeating that he was horrible. Poor Winterbourne was confused. No young lady had ever done him the honour of being so agitated by his departure.

‘I suppose you must be going to see a lady there!’ said Daisy.

‘No, I’m not!’ protested Winterbourne, but he thought, ‘How does she know about the lady?’ He was surprised by her insight and by the honest way she confronted him about the lady in Geneva. Miss Daisy Miller seemed to him an extraordinary mixture of innocence and vulgarity.

‘Does she never allow you out for more than three days?’ asked Daisy sarcastically. ‘Doesn’t she give you a vacation in the summer? But never mind. I’ll forgive you if you promise to come to Rome in the winter.’

‘Certainly I’ll come,’ said Winterbourne. ‘My aunt has a house in Rome, and I’ve promised to visit her there this winter.’

‘I don’t want you to come for your aunt,’ said Miss Daisy Miller. ‘I want you to come for me.’

After this, Daisy lost all interest in the castle and the lake. Winterbourne found a carriage to take them back to the hotel. On the journey back, she was very quiet.

 

 

CHAPTER 4: Meeting in rome

The next day, Winterbourne returned to Geneva, but in January he went to Rome, as promised. On his first evening there, his aunt said to him, ‘That Miller family is here. The girl goes out alone with Italian men – well-known Roman fortune-hunters. And she takes them to respectable people’s houses! It’s a great scandal. When she comes to a party, she brings with her a gentleman with elegant manners and a splendid moustache.’

‘And where’s her mother?’ asked Winterbourne.

‘I’ve no idea,’ Mrs Costello replied. ‘They’re terrible people.’ Winterbourne thought for a moment. ‘They’re just very ignorant and innocent. I really don’t believe that they’re bad people.’

‘They’re very vulgar,’ said his aunt. ‘You may say that being vulgar is different from being bad, but I don’t see the difference.’ Winterbourne had imagined Miss Daisy Miller looking out of her window in a Roman hotel rather sadly, waiting for him to arrive. This new picture of her surrounded by Roman fortune-hunters did not please him, so he did not go to visit her on his first day in Rome. Instead he went to the house of Mrs Walker, an American lady he knew from Geneva, where her children were at school. She lived in the Via Gregoriana. Winterbourne found her in a little red drawing-room full of afternoon sunshine. As he was talking to Mrs Walker, the servant came in and announced, ‘Mrs Miller!’. Then Randolph entered the room, followed by Daisy and her mother.

‘Well!’ said Daisy in surprise. ‘I didn’t know you were in Rome! Why didn’t you come to see me?’

‘I only arrived yesterday,’ replied Winterbourne.

Randolph looked around the room and said, ‘We’ve got a bigger place than this. The walls are all gold.’

‘Oh, Randolph!’ said Mrs Miller nervously.

‘Are you enjoying Rome?’ Winterbourne asked her.

‘Well, I’m rather disappointed,’ she replied. ‘We’d heard so much about it, but we’ve seen other places I like much better.’

‘Really? Which places?’

‘For example, Zurich,’ said Mrs Miller. ‘I think Zurich is lovely, and we hadn’t heard much about it.’

‘The best place we’ve been is the City of Richmond,’ said Randolph.

‘He means the ship that brought us to Europe,’ Mrs Miller explained. ‘Randolph enjoyed the City of Richmond.’

‘It’s the best place I’ve seen,’ said Randolph, ‘but it was going the wrong way.’

‘I hope Miss Miller is enjoying Rome,’ said Winterbourne.

‘Oh, yes,’ replied Mrs Miller. ‘Daisy loves Rome. The society is splendid. She’s invited to many people’s houses. She goes out much more frequently than I do. And she knows a lot of gentlemen here. Yes, she loves Rome. Of course, young ladies are always happier in a place if they know a lot of gentlemen there.’

Daisy had been talking to Mrs Walker, but now she turned to Winterbourne and said, ‘I’ve been telling Mrs Walker how horrible you were to me in Vevey.’

Winterbourne was rather irritated. She did not seem to appreciate the fact that he had travelled from Geneva without stopping at Bologna or Florence, simply because he was impatient to see her. He remembered an American friend of his who had told him that American women – the pretty ones – were the most demanding and least grateful women in the world.

‘My dear young lady!’ cried Winterbourne. ‘Have I come all the way to Rome just to hear you criticise me?’

But Daisy ignored him. She turned back to Mrs Walker and said, ‘Thank you for inviting us to your party. We gladly accept the invitation.’

‘I’m delighted to hear it,’ replied Mrs Walker.

‘I’ve got a lovely dress.’

‘I’m very sure of that.’

‘But I want to ask you a favour: can I please bring a friend?’

‘Certainly,’ said Mrs Walker, smiling at Mrs Miller. ‘Any friend of yours is welcome.’

‘Oh, they’re not my friends,’ said Mrs Miller with a nervous smile. ‘I’ve never met them!’

‘He’s a very close friend of mine,’ said Daisy. ‘Mr Giovanelli.’

Mrs Walker was silent for a moment. She looked quickly at Winterbourne then said, ‘Mr Giovanelli is welcome to come to the party.’

‘He’s an Italian,’ continued Daisy serenely. ‘He’s the most handsome man in the world, except for Mr Winterbourne. He knows lots of Italians, but he wants to meet some Americans. He’s very clever and perfectly lovely!’

‘Daisy,’ said Mrs Miller. ‘It’s time to go back to the hotel.’

‘You go,’ Daisy replied with a smile. ‘I’m going to the Pincio for a walk.’

‘She’s going to walk with Mr Giovanelli,’ said Randolph.

‘Alone, my dear?’ asked Mrs Walker. ‘And at this hour? I don’t think it’s safe.’

‘Neither do I,’ said Mrs Miller. ‘You’ll get the fever!’

‘I’m not going alone,’ said Daisy to Mrs Walker. ‘I’m going with the beautiful Mr Giovanelli.’

‘My dear young friend,’ said Mrs Walker. ‘Don’t go to the Pincio at this hour to meet a beautiful Italian.’

‘Oh!’ said Daisy. ‘I don’t want to do anything improper. Perhaps Mr Winterbourne will walk to the Pincio with me. That’ll solve the problem.’

Winterbourne agreed, and they walked together down the stairs and past Mrs Miller’s carriage, in which Eugenio was waiting.

‘Goodbye, Eugenio,’ cried Daisy. ‘I’m going for a walk.’

Chapter 5: Introducing Mr Giovanelli

As they walked, Daisy told Winterbourne all about her  experiences in Rome. ‘We have very beautiful rooms at the hotel,’ she said. ‘We’ll stay here all winter, unless we die of the fever, and in that case we’ll stay even longer! I’m enjoying Rome very much. I know lots of charming people here…’ She talked like this for some time, then she turned to him and asked, ‘Why didn’t you come to visit me?’

‘I’ve already told you,’ Winterbourne replied. ‘I’ve only just got off the train.’

‘You must have stayed on the train a long time after it stopped!’ said Daisy, with a little laugh. ‘Anyway, you’ve had time to go and visit Mrs Walker.’

‘I know Mrs Walker from Geneva-‘

‘I know. She told me. Well, you know me from Vevey. That’s just as good. So you ought to have come to visit me.’

When they reached the Pincio, Daisy saw Mr Giovanelli. He was standing by a tree, looking at the women in their carriages. He was a handsome little man, very elegantly dressed, with a flower in his buttonhole.

‘Are you going to speak to that man?’ asked Winterbourne.

‘Of course!’ said Daisy.

‘Then I’m staying with you.’

Daisy stopped and looked at him for a moment in silence, but the expression on her face was still serene. ‘I don’t like the way you say that,’ she said with a smile, ‘I never allow gentlemen to tell me what to do.’

‘I think you’ve made a mistake,’ Winterbourne replied. ‘You should sometimes listen to a gentleman – the right one.’

She looked at him again, more seriously this time, with her pretty eyes, then she laughed and said, ‘I do nothing but listen to gentlemen! Is Mr Giovanelli the right one?’

Just then, Giovanelli saw them and walked up to them. He had a brilliant smile and intelligent eyes.

‘No, he isn’t the right one,’ said Winterbourne.

Daisy introduced Giovanelli to Winterbourne, and they walked along, one gentleman on each side of Daisy. Mr Giovanelli spoke English very well. He made pleasant conversation with Winterbourne and Daisy. He was disappointed that Daisy had not come alone, but he did not show his disappointment. ‘He’s not a gentleman,’ thought Winterbourne. ‘He’s a good imitation of one, but a nice girl ought to know the difference!’ But was Miss Daisy Miller a nice girl? That was the question. She had no delicacy, and yet she did not seem impatient for Winterbourne to go: she did not seem to want to be alone with her lover. She was a strange combination of audacity and innocence.

Fifteen minutes later, Winterbourne noticed Mrs Walker sitting in her carriage at the side of the road. She waved to him. He left Miss Miller with Mr Giovanelli and went to Mrs Walker, who looked agitated. ‘This is terrible!’ said Mrs Walker. ‘That girl mustn’t do this kind of thing. She mustn’t walk here with you two men. Fifty people have noticed her!’

‘Is it really that important?’ asked Winterbourne. ‘She’s very innocent.’

‘She’s very crazy!’ cried Mrs Walker. ‘And her mother is an absolute fool! When you left, I thought that, since her mother won’t warn her, I should, so I came here to find her. Tell her I want to speak to her.’

‘I don’t think it’s a good idea,’ said Winterbourne, ‘but you can try.’

When Winterbourne gave Daisy this message, the young lady walked serenely to Mrs Walker’s carriage with Mr Giovanelli at her side.

‘Mrs Walker, this is Mr Giovanelli,’ said Daisy prettily.

Mrs Walker nodded to the Italian then turned to Daisy and said, ‘Will you get in the carriage and drive with me?’

‘No, thank you,’ said Daisy. ‘I’m perfectly happy as I am.’ And she smiled at her two gentlemen.

‘You may be perfectly happy, dear child, but it isn’t the custom here for a young lady to walk alone with gentlemen.’

‘Well, it ought to be!’ said Daisy. ‘I love walking!’

‘You should walk with your mother, dear,’ said Mrs Walker.

‘My mother never goes for a walk. And I’m not five years old!’

‘You’re old enough to be more reasonable,’ said Mrs Walker. ‘You’re old enough, my dear Miss Miller, to cause a scandal.’

‘What do you mean?’ asked Daisy, smiling intensely.

‘Come into my carriage, and I’ll explain it to you,’ Mrs Walker replied.

Daisy looked at Giovanelli then at Winterbourne. ‘I don’t think I want to know what you mean!’ She blushed, and Winterbourne thought she was extremely pretty. She looked at Winterbourne and said, ‘Do you think that – to save my reputation – I should get into the carriage?’

Winterbourne blushed a little and hesitated. It seemed so strange to hear her talk that way of her ‘reputation’. He wanted to give the reply that was best for Daisy herself. He felt that it was in Daisy’s best interest to hear the truth, and the truth, Winterbourne thought, was that she should do what Mrs Walker had asked her to do. He looked at her exquisite prettiness and then said, very gently, ‘I think you should get into the carriage’.

Daisy gave a violent laugh. ‘How ridiculous! If this is improper, Mrs Walker, then I am improper. Goodbye!’ Then she turned and walked away with Mr Giovanelli.

Mrs Walker watched her go with tears in her eyes. ‘Get in the carriage,’ she said to Winterbourne.

‘I think I should accompany Miss Miller.’

‘If you don’t get into this carriage, I’ll never speak to you again!’ cried Mrs Walker.

Winterbourne said goodbye to Daisy and Giovanelli and got into the carriage. ‘That wasn’t very clever of you,’ he said.

‘I’m not trying to be clever; I’m trying to be honest,’ replied Mrs Walker. ‘She’s causing a great scandal. Italian men come to see her at her hotel late at night, when her mother has already gone to bed.’

‘She’s just unsophisticated,’ said Winterbourne impatiently.

‘She has no natural delicacy,’ replied Mrs Walker. ‘You must stop seeing her, stop flirting with her: leave her alone!’

‘I can’t do that. I like her very much.’

‘Then you should want to protect her from scandal.’ Winterbourne got out of the carriage and said goodbye to Mrs Walker. He saw Daisy and Giovanelli standing by the wall, looking at the beautiful Villa Borghese. Giovanelli took Daisy’s parasol and opened it. He rested the parasol on her shoulder so that both their heads were hidden behind it. Winterbourne hesitated a moment, then he turned and walked away, towards his aunt’s house.

 

 

Chapter 6: Mrs Walker’s party

Mrs Walker’s party was a few days later. Mrs Miller came alone. The poor lady was very nervous. ‘I’ve never been to a party alone before, especially in this country!’ she told Mrs Walker, ‘I wanted to bring Randolph or Eugenio, but Daisy told me to go alone!’

‘Is your daughter going to favour us with her company?’ asked Mrs Walker, but Mrs Miller did not notice her sarcasm.

‘Well, she’s dressed for the party. She got dressed before dinner. But her friend is there – the Italian gentleman. Daisy’s playing the piano and Mr Giovanelli’s singing. He sings splendidly. But I think they’ll come soon,’ said Mrs Miller hopefully.

Mrs Walker turned to Winterbourne and said, ‘This is horrible! Miss Miller is trying to punish me for criticising her in the Pincio the other day. When she comes, I won’t speak to her!’

Daisy came after eleven o’clock. ‘I’m sorry I’m late,’ she said to Mrs Walker with a smile. ‘Mr Giovanelli and I were practicing his songs so that he can sing for your guests. He has such a beautiful voice.’ Daisy looked very lovely as she said this in her sweet, bright voice. ‘Is there anyone here I know?’ she asked, looking around with interest at the other guests.

‘I think everyone knows who you are!’ said Mrs Walker coldly. Mr Giovanelli sang his songs very well, although no one had asked him to do so. Daisy talked as he sang. ‘I’d love to dance,’ she said to Winterbourne, ‘but these rooms are too small.’

‘I don’t want to dance,’ Winterbourne replied. ‘I can’t dance.’

‘Of course you can’t dance; you’re too stiff.’ said Miss Daisy. ‘I hope you enjoyed your ride in Mrs Walker’s carriage.’

‘No, I didn’t enjoy it. I preferred walking with you.’

‘You went with your friend, and I went with mine. That was much better. But really, Mrs Walker has such strange ideas!’ continued Daisy. ‘How could I get into her carriage and leave poor Mr Giovanelli?’

‘Mr Giovanelli was wrong to ask you to walk with him. No young Italian lady walks with gentlemen in the streets.’

‘In the streets?’ cried Daisy. ‘The Pincio is not “the streets”! And fortunately I’m not a young Italian lady! It seems to me they have a miserable time!’

‘People here think you’re a flirt,’ said Winterbourne seriously. ‘Of course I am!’ said Daisy with a smile. ‘All nice girls are flirts! But I suppose you’ll say that I’m not a nice girl.’

‘You’re a very nice girl,’ said Winterbourne, ‘but I want you to flirt with me and nobody else.’

‘Thank you!’ replied Daisy. ‘But I don’t want to flirt with you: you’re too stiff!’

‘Well, at least stop flirting with Giovanelli. They don’t understand that sort of thing here.’

‘I thought they understood nothing else!’ said Daisy.

‘Not in young unmarried women.’

‘It seems to me much more proper in young unmarried women than in old married ones,’ cried Daisy.

‘Well,’ said Winterbourne, ‘you must obey the customs of the place. Flirting is a purely American custom; it doesn’t exist here. So when you go out in public with Mr Giovanelli and without your mother, people are shocked.’

‘Poor Mother!’ said Daisy.

‘You are flirting, but Mr Giovanelli isn’t: he’s quite serious.’

‘At least he doesn’t tell me what to do!’ cried Daisy. ‘Anyway, I’m not flirting with Mr Giovanelli. We’re good friends, very intimate friends.’

‘Ah,’ replied Winterbourne, ‘it’s different if you’re in love with each other.’

To Winterbourne’s surprise, Daisy blushed and stood up angrily. ‘At least Mr Giovanelli never says such horrible things!’ she cried.

Daisy spent the rest of the evening sitting with Mr Giovanelli in a quiet corner of the room. When she came back to say goodbye to Mrs Walker, the lady ignored her. Daisy went pale and looked anxiously at her mother. Winterbourne felt very sorry for her.

‘That was very cruel,’ he said to Mrs Walker, after Daisy had left.

‘I’ll never invite her here again!’ Mrs Walker replied.

In the weeks that followed, Winterbourne often went to visit Daisy at her hotel. Giovanelli was always there, but Daisy did not seem disturbed by Winterbourne’s presence. It seemed that she could talk as happily with one gentleman or two.

One Sunday afternoon, Winterbourne went to St Peter’s with his aunt. When he saw Daisy and Giovanelli walking together in the great church, he said to his aunt, ‘There’s Miss Miller!’

Mrs Costello looked at Daisy for a moment then said, ‘Is that what makes you so distracted these days?’

‘I’m not distracted,’ replied Winterbourne.

‘You seem very preoccupied: you’re thinking of something.’

‘And what do you think I’m thinking of?’

‘Of Miss Miller’s intimacy with that ridiculous Italian,’ said Mrs Costello, indicating Giovanelli.

‘I don’t think it’s an “intimacy” in the sense you mean.’

‘Everyone else does. He’s very handsome, and she’s very vulgar. She thinks he’s the most elegant gentleman in the world. He’s even better than the courier! The courier probably introduced them, and when they’re married this man will give the courier a lot of money. Yes, I see how it is.’

‘I don’t believe she’s thinking of marrying him,’ said Winterbourne, ‘and I don’t think he hopes to marry her.’

‘She’s so vulgar that she probably doesn’t think at all,’ said Mrs Costello. ‘But believe me, very soon she’ll tell you that she’s engaged.’

‘I don’t think so,’ Winterbourne replied. ‘I’ve asked some questions about him. He’s a perfectly respectable little man, but he’s not from the best Italian society. He has no money and no title – he’s not a count or a marchese – so he knows that he cannot hope to marry her. He probably doesn’t realise that Daisy and her mother aren’t sophisticated enough to want to catch a count or a marchese.’

‘He thinks he can win her with his handsome face,’ said Mrs Costello.

‘No,’ replied Winterbourne. ‘He knows that he has nothing but his handsome face, and he knows that Mr Miller, in the mysterious land of dollars, will want his daughter to marry someone with more than that.’

Some of Mrs Costello’s American friends joined them then, and Winterbourne heard a lot of talk about the scandalous Miss Daisy Miller. He felt sorry for her. He was sorry to hear them talking about her like that: to him she seemed just pretty and unprotected and natural.

Chapter 7: Innocent or Immoral?

A few days later, Winterbourne went to see Mrs Miller at her hotel, hoping to persuade her to take better care of her daughter.

‘I’m sorry, Daisy isn’t here,’ said Mrs Miller. ‘She’s gone somewhere with Mr Giovanelli. She’s always going somewhere with Mr Giovanelli.’

‘I’ve noticed that they’re very intimate,’ said Winterbourne.

‘Oh! It seems as if they couldn’t live without each other!’ said Mrs Miller. ‘Well, at least he’s a real gentleman. I keep telling Daisy that she’s engaged!’

‘And what does Daisy say?’

‘Oh, she says she isn’t engaged, but she acts as if she is! I asked Mr Giovanelli to tell me if they get engaged, so that I can write and tell Mr Miller.’

Winterbourne had never heard a parent speak of a daughter’s behaviour in such a distant way. He found Mrs Miller’s attitude so strange and confusing that he gave up the idea of warning her.

After that, Winterbourne noticed that Daisy was no longer invited to people’s houses. Society had decided that Miss Daisy Miller had gone too far. How did she feel about that? Sometimes he thought she did not care: she was too childish and superficial to notice what people thought of her. At other moments he thought she knew perfectly well the impression she produced, but she refused to change because she knew that she was innocent. But then he thought perhaps she refused to change because she was irresponsible. It was becoming more and more difficult for him to believe in her innocence.

He was angry with himself because he could not decide what kind of young lady Miss Daisy Miller was. He had no idea whether her eccentricities were personal or national. By not inviting her to their parties, the other American residents in Rome were sending a clear message to their Italian friends, who were all aristocrats. They were telling the Italians that, though Miss Daisy Miller was an American young lady, she was not typical. So perhaps Daisy’s eccentricities were purely personal. But was she innocent or immoral? Did she understand the consequences of her actions, or was she ignorant of them? Was she simply a child, or was she a rebellious young woman?

One day, he met her in the Palace of the Caesars. She was walking through the flowers in the beautiful deserted gardens with Mr Giovanelli.

‘Aren’t you lonely?’ asked Daisy.

‘Lonely?’

‘Yes. You’re always walking around alone. Can’t you find anyone to walk with you?’

‘I’m not as fortunate as your companion,’ replied Winterbourne.

From the first, Giovanelli had treated Winterbourne with great courtesy and respect. He had listened to Winterbourne s conversation and laughed whenever Winterbourne said something amusing. He gave the impression that he considered Winterbourne a superior young man. He did not act like a jealous lover. Obviously, Giovanelli was very diplomatic. He did not mind showing a little humility in front of the American. At times, it even seemed to Winterbourne that Giovanelli wanted to talk to him privately – to explain that of course he, Giovanelli, knew that this young lady was too good for him. On this occasion, he walked away from his companions and went to pick some flowers for his buttonhole.

‘I know why you say that,’ said Daisy. ‘You think I spend too much time with Mr Giovanelli.’

‘Everyone thinks so.’

‘They don’t really care what I do,’ Daisy replied.

‘Oh yes, they do, and they’ll be very unpleasant to you. They’re already being unpleasant to you. Haven’t you noticed?’

‘I’ve noticed you,’ said Daisy. ‘But I noticed that you were very stiff and conventional the first time I saw you!’

‘I’m not as stiff as some of the others,’ said Winterbourne, smiling. ‘Haven’t you noticed that they don’t invite you to their houses anymore?’

‘Why do you let people be so unkind?’ cried Daisy.

‘What can I do?’ replied Winterbourne.

‘You could say something to them.’

‘I do say something. I say that your mother thinks you’re engaged.’

‘Well, she does,’ said Daisy very simply.

‘And does Randolph believe it?’ asked Winterbourne, laughing.

‘I don’t know. I don’t think he believes anything,’ she replied, ‘and since you’ve mentioned it, I am engaged.’

Winterbourne stopped laughing and looked at her in surprise. ‘You don’t believe it!’ cried Daisy.

He was silent a moment and then said, ‘Yes, I believe it.’

‘Oh no, you don’t!’ she replied. ‘Well, then – I’m not!’

 

 

Chapter 8: A night at the Golosseum

A week later, Winterbourne was walking home alone at eleven o’clock at night after dinner with friends. He decided to go into the Colosseum. Outside, he noticed a carriage was waiting. He walked into the silent arena in the moonlight. One half of the gigantic circus was in the shadow. The place had never seemed more splendid, and he remembered Byron’s famous lines. But then he thought, ‘The poets love the Colosseum by night, but the doctors say it’s dangerous because of the risk of getting malaria. I should go soon.’

As he walked towards the great cross in the centre of the arena, he saw that two people were on the steps at its base. One, a woman, was sitting on a step; her companion was standing beside her. Then Winterbourne heard the woman’s voice: ‘He looks at us as one of those old lions must have looked at the Christians!’ It was the voice of Miss Daisy Miller.

‘Let’s hope he’s not very hungry,’ Giovanelli replied with a laugh.

Winterbourne stopped. He felt a combination of horror and relief. Now at last he knew what to think of Miss Daisy Miller: she was not a respectable young lady. He felt angry with himself for having spent so much time trying to decide what to think of her. He turned to walk out of the Colosseum, but then she spoke again: ‘It’s Mr Winterbourne! He saw me, and he didn’t say hello!’ How cleverly she played the part of the innocent! But he could not just ignore her. As he walked towards the great cross, Daisy stood up and Giovanelli raised his hat. Winterbourne now began to think how crazy she was to be there. A delicate young girl should not spend the evening in the Colosseum: she might get Roman fever. ‘It’s now clear,’ thought Winterbourne, ‘that she’s an immoral young woman, but even so I don’t want her to die of malaria.’

‘How long have you been here?’ he asked angrily.

Daisy, lovely in the moonlight, looked at him for a moment then said gently, ‘We’ve been here all evening. Isn’t it pretty?’

‘You could get malaria! You won’t think that’s pretty!’ cried Winterbourne. Then, turning to Giovanelli, he’s said, ‘You’re a Roman. You know about Roman fever. Why did you bring her here?’

‘Ah,’ said the handsome Roman, ‘I’m not afraid of getting malaria myself.’

‘But what about this young lady?’

‘I told the Signorina that it was dangerous, but she’s never cautious.’

‘I’ve never been ill a day in my life!’ said Daisy. ‘I wanted to see the Colosseum by moonlight, and we’ve had a lovely time. When I get home, Eugenio will give me some of his medicine against malaria. He has some splendid pills.’

‘Well, go home now and take one!’ cried Winterbourne.

Giovanelli went out to find the carriage. Daisy followed with Winterbourne. She did not seem at all embarrassed. She talked about the beauty of the place and how glad she was to seen it by moonlight. Then she noticed that Winterbourne was silent.

‘Why are you so quiet?’ she asked.

Winterbourne did not reply but began to laugh.

‘Did you believe that I was engaged the other day?’ she asked.

‘It doesn’t matter what I believed the other day?’ replied Winterbourne, still laughing. ‘Now I believe it makes very little difference whether you’re engaged or not!’

Daisy looked at him, but in the darkness he could not see her face. Then Giovanelli came to say that the carriage was ready.

‘Don’t forget to take Eugenio’s pills!’ said Winterbourne.

Daisy replied in a trembling voice, ‘I don’t care whether I get Roman fever or not!’ Then she got into the carriage, and it drove off.

Chapter 9: Daisy becomes ill

Winterbourne told no one that he had met Miss Miller at eleven o’clock in the Colosseum with a gentleman. Nevertheless, two days later, all the American residents in Rome knew about it and were talking about ‘the little American flirt’. Winterbourne found that he no longer cared that people were saying unkind things about Daisy Miller.

Then he heard that Daisy was very ill. He went to the hotel to ask how she was. There he met three other visitors who said that Daisy was dangerously ill: she had a terrible case of malaria. He did not see Mrs Miller: finally that lady was where she should always have been – at her daughter’s side.

Winterbourne went to the hotel often to ask for news of Daisy. One time he saw Mrs Miller. ‘Daisy spoke of you the other day,’ said Daisy’s mother. ‘Half the time she’s delirious from the fever and she doesn’t know what she’s saying, but that time I think she did. She told me to tell you that she was never engaged to that handsome Italian. I was very glad to hear that: Mr Giovanelli hasn’t been to see us since she got ill. A lady told me that he’s afraid that I’m angry with him for taking Daisy out at night. Well, I am angry with him, but I’m a lady: even when I’m angry I can be polite to guests. Anyway, Daisy said she’s not engaged. I don’t know why she wanted you to know. She told me three times. “Be sure to tell Mr Winterbourne” she said. And then she told me to ask if you remember the time you went to that castle in Switzerland.’

A week later, the poor girl died. Daisy’s grave was in the little Protestant cemetery by the wall of imperial Rome, beneath the cypress trees and the spring flowers. Winterbourne was surprised by the number of people present at the funeral. Many people who had been unkind to her when she was alive came to pay their last respects now that she was dead. Giovanelli stood near Winterbourne. He was very pale. On this occasion he had no flower in his buttonhole.

When the funeral was over, Giovanelli turned to Winterbourne and said, ‘She was the most beautiful young lady I ever saw, and the nicest.’ He was silent for a moment, then he said, ‘And she was the most innocent.’

Winterbourne looked at him then repeated his words, ‘And the most innocent?’

‘The most innocent!’

Winterbourne felt very angry. ‘Why the devil,’ he asked, ‘did you take her to that fatal place?’

Mr Giovanelli was silent for a moment, then he said, ‘I had no fear for myself, and she wanted to go.’

‘That’s no reason!’ cried Winterbourne.

Giovanelli was silent again, and then he said, ‘She didn’t want to marry me. For a while I hoped, but now I’m sure that she didn’t want to.’

Winterbourne listened to him. He looked down at the new grave surrounded by April flowers. When he looked up again, Mr Giovanelli had gone.

Winterbourne left Rome soon afterwards. In the months that followed, he often thought about Daisy Miller and her mysterious manners. The following summer, he went to see his aunt Mrs Costello in Vevey. One day he spoke to her about Daisy.

‘I think I treated her unfairly,’ he said. ‘She sent me a message before her death which I didn’t understand at the time. But I have thought about it since, and now I understand. She wanted me to respect her.’

‘Is that a modest way of saying she wanted you to love her?’ asked Mrs Costello.

Winterbourne did not reply to this question. After a short silence, he continued: ‘What you said last summer was true: I did make a great mistake. I’ve lived too long in foreign countries.’

Nevertheless, he went back to Geneva. His friends say that he is ‘studying’ there. Other people say that he is interested in a very clever foreign lady.

 

– THE END –




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