Study Guide

The Wings of the Dove Volume 2, Book 10, Chapter 3

By Henry James

Volume 2, Book 10, Chapter 3

  • After Kate and Merton part ways, Merton racks his brain to figure out what has happened to him that makes it appropriate for him and Kate to get married right away.
  • With that, he follows a whim to head over to Sir Luke's house. He sees that Sir Luke is there and that Mrs. Lowder's carriage is outside. That must mean that Sir Luke is back from Venice and that Milly is dead. Surprisingly enough, Lord Mark is also there, sitting in Mrs. Lowder's carriage. Mrs. Lowder sees Merton and says that Sir Luke will be back in London the next morning.
  • Aunt Maud asks him whether he has received his message yet. Merton doesn't know what she's talking about, but more or less says "yeah."
  • Aunt Maud confirms that Milly has died. Or as she nicely puts it, "Our dear dove then […] has folded her wonderful wings" (2.10.3.9). Title alert! But it's okay, Maud says, because Milly is in a better place now. Seriously. Any place away from these schemers is "a better place."
  • Aunt Maud says she feels that Merton is entitled to hear direct news of what's happened. She says she'll be alone that evening and asks Merton if he'll come dine with her.
  • Merton says that he can't say yes or no right away, since he's still a bit overwhelmed by the news about Milly.
  • It also turns out that Kate has decided to spend Christmas at her sister Marian's place, which means she has abandoned Aunt Maud for the holidays. Aunt Maud says that Kate left without her approval. It turns out there is some fresh crisis in Marian's house that Aunt Maud would be happy enough to leave alone. But Kate felt the duty to go to her sister.
  • Aunt Maud also mentions to Merton that Kate and Marian have the misfortune of having a terrible father. Merton reacts to this as if he knows nothing about it, and really, he doesn't know much more than the few bits of info Kate has told him.
  • Merton says he'll be off, and Aunt Maud assumes that he's going to church to pray for Milly's soul. Merton is all like, "Uh yeah, that's what I'm going to do…" and he walks away.
  • But as he wanders away from Sir Luke's house, Merton actually does decide to go to a church service after all.