54. CHAPTER LIV
"I've kept you waiting because I've been sitting with Ralph,"
Mrs. Touchett said. "The nurse had gone to luncheon and I had
taken her place. He has a man who's supposed to look after him,
but the man's good for nothing; he's always looking out of the
window--as if there were anything to see! I didn't wish to move,
because Ralph seemed to be sleeping and I was afraid the sound
would disturb him. I waited till the nurse came back. I remembered
you knew the house."
"I find I know it better even than I thought; I've been walking
everywhere," Isabel answered. And then she asked if Ralph slept
"He lies with his eyes closed; he doesn't move. But I'm not sure
that it's always sleep."
"Will he see me? Can he speak to me?"
Mrs. Touchett declined the office of saying. "You can try him,"
was the limit of her extravagance. And then she offered to
conduct Isabel to her room. "I thought they had taken you there;
but it's not my house, it's Ralph's; and I don't know what they
do. They must at least have taken your luggage; I don't suppose
you've brought much. Not that I care, however. I believe they've
given you the same room you had before; when Ralph heard you were
coming he said you must have that one."
"Did he say anything else?"
"Ah, my dear, he doesn't chatter as he used!" cried Mrs. Touchett
as she preceded her niece up the staircase.
It was the same room, and something told Isabel it had not been
slept in since she occupied it. Her luggage was there and was not
voluminous; Mrs. Touchett sat down a moment with her eyes upon
it. "Is there really no hope?" our young woman asked as she stood
"None whatever. There never has been. It has not been a