The mother's eagerness with which Madame de Vionnet jumped at this was to come back to him later as beautiful in its grace. "The dear thing DID please you?" Then as he met it with the largest "Oh!" of enthusiasm: "She's perfect. She's my joy."
"Well, I'm sure that — if one were near her and saw more of her — she'd be mine."
"Then," said Madame de Vionnet, "tell Mrs. Newsome that!"
He wondered the more. "What good will that do you?" As she appeared unable at once to say, however, he brought out something else. "Is your daughter in love with our friend?"
"Ah," she rather startlingly answered, "I wish you'd find out!"
He showed his surprise. "I? A stranger?"
"Oh you won't be a stranger — presently. You shall see her quite, I assure you, as if you weren't."
It remained for him none the less an extraordinary notion. "It seems to me surely that if her mother can't — "
"Ah little girls and their mothers to-day!" she rather inconsequently broke in. But she checked herself with something she seemed to give out as after all more to the point. "Tell her I've been good for him. Don't you think I have?"
It had its effect on him — more than at the moment he quite measured. Yet he was consciously enough touched. "Oh if it's all you — !"
"Well, it may not be 'all,'" she interrupted, "but it's to a great extent. Really and truly," she added in a tone that was to take its place with him among things remembered.
"Then it's very wonderful." He smiled at her from a face that he felt as strained, and her own face for a moment kept him so. At last she also got up. "Well, don't you think that for that — "
"I ought to save you?" So it was that the way to meet her — and the way, as well, in a manner, to get off — came over him. He heard himself use the exorbitant word, the very sound of which helped to determine his flight. "I'll save you if I can."