This seemed a strange event after twelve years’ stay in Europe for the education of her children, but Westover did not feel authorized to make any comment upon it. He fell rather to thinking how very pleasant both mother and daughter were, and to wondering how much wisdom they had between them. He reflected that men had very little wisdom, as far as he knew them, and he questioned whether, after all, the main difference between men and women might not be that women talked their follies and men acted theirs. Probably Mrs. Vostrand, with all her babble, had done fewer foolish things than her husband, but here Westover felt his judgment disabled by the fact that he had never met her husband; and his mind began to wander to a question of her daughter, whom he had there before him. He found himself bent upon knowing more of the girl, and trying to eliminate her mother from the talk, or, at least, to make Genevieve lead in it. But apparently she was not one of the natures that like to lead; at any rate, she remained discreetly in abeyance, and Westover fancied she even respected her mother’s opinions and ideas. He thought this very well for both of them, whether it was the effect of Mrs. Vostrand’s merit or Miss Vostrand’s training. They seemed both of one exquisite gentleness, and of one sweet manner, which was rather elaborate and formal in expression. They deferred to each other as politely as they deferred to him, but, if anything, the daughter deferred most.
The Vostrands did not stay long at Lion’s Head. Before the week was out Mrs. Vostrand had a letter summoning them to meet her husband at Montreal, where that mysterious man, who never came into the range of Westover’s vision, somehow, was kept by business from joining them in the mountains.
Early in October the painter received Mrs. Vostrand’s card at his studio in Boston, and learned from the scribble which covered it that she was with her daughter at the Hotel Vendome. He went at once to see them there, and was met, almost before the greetings were past, with a prayer for his opinion.
“Favorable opinion?” he asked.
“Favorable? Oh yes; of course. It’s simply this. When I sent you my card, we were merely birds of passage, and now I don’t know but we are—What is the opposite of birds of passage?”
Westover could not think, and said so.
“Well, it doesn’t matter. We were walking down the street, here, this morning, and we saw the sign of an apartment to let, in a window, and we thought, just for amusement, we would go in and look at it.”
“And you took it?”
“No, not quite so rapid as that. But it was lovely; in such a pretty ‘hotel garni’, and so exquisitely furnished! We didn’t really think of staying in Boston; we’d quite made up our minds on New York; but this apartment is a temptation.”
“Why not yield, then?” said Westover. “That’s the easiest way with a temptation. Confess, now, that you’ve taken the apartment already!”