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MonkeyNotes-Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
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Chapter 44

The bored Countess Gemini is happily surprised with a visit from Henrietta Stackpole whom she remembered from her connection to Isabel. She has just received an invitation to visit her brother and Isabel in Rome. Since she is always eager to visit Rome and sad to be kept away from it by reason of a lack of funds, she is very excited about the trip. Henrietta tells her she plans to go see Isabel in Rome because she has been alarmed by Isabel’s letters. Her letters say nothing much and it is in their emptiness that Henrietta reads Isabel’s unhappiness. She is shocked when the Countess relates the gossip to her that Lord Warburton is hanging around Isabel in Rome with a romantic interest. After a short time of conversation, both women realize they don’t like the other very much.

Henrietta leaves the Countess’s house and goes to leave a note at Caspar Goodwood’s hotel that he should meet her that evening. She then goes to the Tribune to see her favorite work of art, a Corregio of Mary playing with the baby Jesus. At the door, she is surprised to find Caspar Goodwood. She tells him she wants to ask him a favor. He is reluctant to talk to her since she always brings up Mrs. Osmond, but he is too much of a gentleman to deny her. She asks him to reconsider if it is a good idea that he go to Rome to see Isabel. She asks him to be a true friend, not a selfish friend. He says he will go to Rome. She tells him she’s leaving the next day. He doesn’t want to travel with her, but he is too much of a gentleman to "insult an unprotected woman" by not putting himself out for her. He offers to accompany her and she takes this as a matter of course.


Notes

It seems that whenever James wants to bring out all of Isabel’s qualities or send her into action, he gathers around her a cast of characters who are conducive to action. These are, firstly, Henrietta Stackpole, Caspar Goodwood, but also Lord Warburton and Ralph Touchett. This chapter serves mainly as a set-up for further action. In it we learn that Caspar Goodwood still thinks a good deal of Isabel, though he doesn’t like to admit it, that Henrietta Stackpole also thinks a good deal of Isabel and has now proposed to save her in some way.

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