Study Guide

The Wings of the Dove Volume 2, Book 9, Chapter 1

By Henry James

Volume 2, Book 9, Chapter 1

  • Kate and Maud have left Venice, and Merton can feel something different about his rented rooms—probably because he has now had sex with Kate in them. Yup, that totally happened, and all he can do now is imagine the scene of him and Kate having sex over and over. But the more he thinks about this, the more he feels that he can never marry Milly or do the nasty with her.
  • Merton visits Milly to tell her that he plans on working on a book in Venice. In other words, he's going to stay with her even though everyone else (except Susan) has left. It makes it seem as if Merton has created an excuse to stay in Venice and be with Milly. He also says that he plans on writing at night so that he can spend his days with her.
  • Milly tells him that she and Susan plan on visiting him in his rented rooms. Merton hates this idea though, because he now thinks of those rooms as an intimate place for just him and Kate. He tries to say no by asking Milly if she's really well enough to leave her place.
  • Uh oh, Merton isn't supposed to let it slip that he actually knows about Milly's illness, because it will make her suspicious about him only wanting her money.
  • Milly keeps insisting that she wants to come visit him in his rooms, but he keeps deflecting and putting off answering the question. Finally, Milly realizes that he doesn't want her coming over and gives up.
  • It's clear that this has been a big blow to their bond. But Merton simply can't have her in the same place where he's been knockin' boots with Kate.
  • She asks him again about his book, and he confesses that there is no book, and that he doesn't know what he's talking about. He's super flustered, and the whole scheme to marry Milly is going down the tubes.
  • If there's no book, Milly asks, then why is he still in Venice? The right answer to this question is "For you, Milly!" but Merton can't bring himself to tell a baldfaced lie.

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