Book 2, Chapters 6-7 Summary
Adam Verver takes Charlotte Stant to the seaside resort town of Brighton. There they meet Mr. Gutermann-Seuss, a gentleman who has longed to meet the famous antiques collector. Mr. Gutermann-Seuss is delighted with Charlotte, though he assumes she is Mrs. Verver because she and Mr. Verver are evidently a couple.
On one of their daily walks, Mr. Verver and Charlotte sit on a bench overlooking the town. Mr. Verver tells her that he hopes she could regard him with any satisfaction as a husband. He realizes that he is older than she is and that she has long regarded him as the father of her friend. Charlotte disagrees, saying it is she who seems old. Charlotte confesses that his proposal appeals to her mainly because she wants to be married and thus avoid being a stereotypical “English old maid.” Mr. Verver is taken aback, unsure of her meaning. He thinks she is turning him down because, though she wants to be married, she does not want to be married to him. She corrects him, saying that she fears that she is unable to fulfill his expectations because she is poor. She also wonders whether, having given his daughter in marriage, he now wants another “daughter.” Mr. Verver laments that a man cannot be anything but a father. He tells Charlotte that Maggie would be the first to welcome her into the family. She is reluctant to believe this, so he suggests they go to Paris and ask her in person. They agree to abide by whatever decision Maggie makes concerning their marrying.
Charlotte and Mr. Verver return to Fawns, where Mr. Verver writes to Maggie of his proposal of marriage to Charlotte. When they arrive in Paris, Mr. Verver receives a telegram from Maggie (now in Rome) giving her approval and stating that they are on their way to Paris to congratulate them. Charlotte worries that the Prince and Maggie have cut their trip short; she is sure the Prince would not like this. Mr. Verver tries to convince her that this is a sign of the Prince and Maggie’s mutual agreement. Charlotte (and silently Mr. Verver) is disturbed that she has not personally heard from Maggie. It is not long, however, until she receives a telegram. However, it is not from Charlotte but from the Prince. Mr. Verver can see she is bothered by it, but he will not read it when she offers it to him. She crumples the telegram and puts it in the pocket of her coat.