“And Genevieve is twenty. Mr. Westover, may I trust you with something?”
“With everything, I hope, Mrs. Vostrand.”
“It’s about Genevieve. Her father is so opposed to her making a foreign marriage. It seems to be his one great dread. And, of course, she’s very much exposed to it, living abroad so much with me, and I feel doubly bound on that account to respect her father’s opinions, or even prejudices. Before we left Florence—in fact, last winter—there was a most delightful young officer wished to marry her. I don’t know that she cared anything for him, though he was everything that I could have wished: handsome, brilliant, accomplished, good family; everything but rich, and that was what Mr. Vostrand objected to; or, rather, he objected to putting up, as he called it, the sum that Captain Grassi would have had to deposit with the government before he was allowed to marry. You know how it is with the poor fellows in the army, there; I don’t understand the process exactly, but the sum is something like sixty thousand francs, I believe; and poor Gigi hadn’t it: I always called him Gigi, but his name is Count Luigi de’ Popolani Grassi; and he is descended from one of the old republican families of Florence. He is so nice! Mr. Vostrand was opposed to him from the beginning, and as soon as he heard of the sixty thousand francs, he utterly refused. He called it buying a son-in-law, but I don’t see why he need have looked at it in that light. However, it was broken off, and we left Florence—more for poor Gigi’s sake than for Genevieve’s, I must say. He was quite heart-broken; I pitied him.”
Her voice had a tender fall in the closing words, and Westover could fancy how sweet she would make her compassion to the young man. She began several sentences aimlessly, and he suggested, to supply the broken thread of her discourse rather than to offer consolation, while her eyes seemed to wander with her mind, and ranged the avenue up and down: “Those foreign marriages are not always successful.”
“No, they are not,” she assented. “But don’t you think they’re better with Italians than with Germans, for instance.”
“I don’t suppose the Italians expect their wives to black their boots, but I’ve heard that they beat them, sometimes.”
“In exaggerated cases, perhaps they do,” Mrs. Vostrand admitted. “And, of course,” she added, thoughtfully, “there is nothing like a purely American marriage for happiness.”
Westover wondered how she really regarded her own marriage, but she never betrayed any consciousness of its variance from the type.
A young couple came strolling down the avenue who to Westover’s artistic eye first typified grace and strength, and then to his more personal perception identified themselves as Genevieve Vostrand and Jeff Durgin.