فصل 09

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فصل 09

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CHAPTER NINE

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.

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