How well I [Sir Osbert Sitwell] recall that talk in the low voice which one was always compelled to ask her to raise. . . . Naturally low, the expression of a diffident and gentle disposition, it was the true vehicle of her personality. And she told me, some years after I first met her — and it proves, I think, that she had always been inclined to speak in this manner — that on the first occasion she had sat next Henry James at dinner, she had not been able to resist putting to him certain questions about his books, for she had been a lifelong admirer of them, and that, at last, after he had answered some of these murmured inquiries, he had turned his melancholy gaze upon her, and had said to her,
`Can it be — it must be — that you are that embodiment of the incorporeal, that elusive and ineluctable being to whom through the generations novelists have so unavailingly made invocation; in short, the Gentle Reader? I have often wondered in what guise you would appear or, as it were, what incarnation you would assume.'
From Sitwell, Noble Essences, pp. 130-131.
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