The Ambassadors

        Characters 

 

Lewis Lambert       Strether 

 

 

 

 

 

A 55-year-old editor of an intellectual magazine in Woollett, Massachusetts, Strether is engaged to Mrs. Newsome, a wealthy widow who funds the magazine he edits.Mrs. Newsome has sent Strether to Paris to find her son, Chad Newsome, and bring him back to Massachusetts.If he were to marry Mrs. Newsome, Strether would come into a great fortune and secure his status in the upper-class community in Woollett. To some degree, Mrs. Newsome wants to make sure that Strether is worthy of both the wealth and the social status. Compulsively self-reflexive, Strether quickly realizes that his life in Woollett has entrenched him in boring routine. As he travels, Strether comes to appreciate the freedom and openness he finds in Europe, and he begins to feel as if his new, full European life makes up for many years of personal stagnation.

 

Chadwick Newsome

Handsome, debonair, and independently wealthy bachelor currently involved in a love affair with the older Madame Marie de Vionnet. At first, it seems that Paris affects Chad in only positive ways: Chad has grown from the callow, immature boy he was in Woollett into a polished, gentleman, comfortable in Parisian high society and often host to a wide, interesting group of friends. But Chad has no real attachment to Europe or to his lover. Instead, Chad subscribes to the American ideals of monetary success and to the social status that comes along with it. He wants to return to the United States to take over the family business, even after Strether encourages him to stay in Europe. Paris affects Chad only superficially, and he looks forward to returning home to Woollett after his enjoyable, but not profound, experience in Europe.

 

Maria Gostrey

A 33-year-old, unmarried expatriate who lives in Paris and works as an informal “guide” to Europe for American visitors. Miss Gostrey takes an immediate liking to Strether when they first meet in England. Separate from the Woollett society, she offers Strether keen and objective analysis of situations and people, and Strether relies on her wise counsel. Although she is young and sprightly, she is more world-weary, more socially skeptical, and warier of people’s motives than Strether.

 

Madame Marie de Vionnet

The older woman with whom Chad Newsome has become involved in a love affair. Madame de Vionnet has lived apart from her “brute” husband for years. At age 15, she attended school with Maria Gostrey, but they have not seen each other for a long time and Maria avoids contact with her. Now, at around age 38, Madame de Vionnet has become socially distinguished, handsome, and so cultured that she casts a shadow on Strether’s memory of Mrs. Newsome. Deeply in love with Chad, Madame de Vionnet resolves to keep Chad in Europe--and in her life. She captivates Strether, and he believes that her effect on Chad has been only positive. He vows to help her by trying to convince Chad to stay in Europe, even after Strether learns that Chad and Madame de Vionnet have misled him about the nature of their relationship.

 

Mrs. Newsome

An older, widowed, wealthy matriarch to whom Strether is engaged. Even though Mrs. Newsome never actually appears in the novel, she drives the novel’s action and its significant events. She sends Strether to Europe to collect her son, Chad, and return him to the family business in the United States. When Strether fails in his ambassadorial mission, she sends new ambassadors: her daughter, Sarah; her daughter’s husband, Jim; and Jim’s sister, Mamie. Mrs. Newsome represents the world of Woollett, Massachusetts, and the life that Strether has left behind. Strether thinks constantly about Mrs. Newsome, and she occupies a large place in his conscience, since she asked Strether to carry out her wishes in Europe and Strether has failed to do so for complicated reasons. Through Strether’s eyes, Mrs. Newsome is beautiful but deliberately so, wise but incredibly stubborn, and kind but undeniably dominant in relation to him. The interplay between Mrs. Newsome’s wishes and Strether’s evolving needs often drives the novel.



 Waymarsh

An old friend of Strether’s who has been living, unhappily, in Europe for an unspecified amount of time. Waymarsh is married but has long lived away from his wife. He is impulsive and curmudgeonly and finds nothing in Europe to his liking. He maintains close ties to Woollett and reveals himself as a close friend of and consistent ally to Sarah Pocock when she comes to Paris to fetch Chad.

 

John Little Bilham

 

 

 

An expatriate artist and one of Chad’s closest friends in Paris. Because he is physically small, he uses both of his last names and goes by “little Bilham.” A friendly, unpretentious young man, he maintains his loyalty to Chad even as he develops a close bond with Strether. Ultimately, little Bilham lies to Strether about the nature of Chad’s relationship with Madame de Vionnet to protect Chad. Strether finds Bilham to be gentle and treats him like the adult son he never had. Their conversations prompt Strether to articulate some of the most profound life lessons he has learned in Europe.

 

Jeanne de Vionnet

 

 

 

Madame Marie de Vionnet’s charming and beautiful daughter. Jeanne is impressively refined but lacks maturity. She has great fondness for Chad, but not romantic love. He and Madame de Vionnet play up Jeanne’s merits in an effort to distract Strether from the truth of their relationship. Strether sees the well-raised Jeanne as proof of Madame de Vionnet’s virtue and suitability.

 

Sarah Pocock

 

 

Chad’s older, married sister. Sarah is in charge of the second batch of ambassadors sent to retrieve Chad from Europe. According to Strether, Sarah has less charm and less beauty than her mother, but she is still amiable and pretty. To a great degree, Sarah stands in for Mrs. Newsome, who never appears in the novel. Sarah arrives in Europe with her mother’s wishes firmly in mind and finds fault with much of what has impressed Strether about European life. They clash almost immediately.

 

Mamie Pocock

 

 

The “of-the-minute” society girl in Woollett, Massachusetts. Strether finds Mamie to be as physically beautiful as the girls in Europe, as well as more sincere and sociable than most Woollett society girls. Mrs. Newsome hopes Mamie will marry Chad. To Mrs. Newsome, the fact that Mamie is Jim Pocock’s sister, and thus already technically part of the family, only makes her more desirable. Mamie has known Chad since childhood, but no romance exists between them. While in Europe, Mamie falls for little Bilham.

 

Jim Pocock 

 

 

 


A leading Woollett businessman who is married to Sarah Pocock (nee Newsome). Even though Jim is a prominent figure in Woollett, he is only technically a member of high society. Casual and relatively simple, he takes no interest in the social maneuverings of the women and wants only to enjoy himself as much as possible, especially in Paris.

 

Miss Barrace 


A friend of Chad and little Bilham. Miss Barrace is a proper American socialite, and she helps present Chad in a good light by virtue of her own elegance. Later Miss Barrace befriends Waymarsh as well.

 

Gloriani


A famous French sculptor, Gloriani is part of Chad’s social set in Paris. His grace impresses Strether, but he fails to connect with Strether on a personal level. Little Bilham admires Gloriani’s fame, artistic talent, and status in society.  

Monsieur de Montbron 

The man who is to marry Jeanne de Vionnet 

 

           Book 1


I


Strether's first question, when he reached the hotel, was about his
friend; yet on his learning that Waymarsh was apparently not to
arrive till evening he was not wholly disconcerted. A telegram from
him bespeaking a room "only if not noisy," reply paid, was produced
for the enquirer at the office, so that the understanding they
should meet at Chester rather than at Liverpool remained to that
extent
sound. The same secret principle, however, that had prompted
Strether not absolutely to desire Waymarsh's presence at the dock,
that had led him thus to postpone for a few hours his enjoyment of
it, now operated to make him feel he could still wait without
disappointment. They would dine together at the worst, and, with
all respect to dear old Waymarsh--if not even, for that matter, to
himself--there was little fear that in the sequel they shouldn't
see enough of each other. The principle I have just mentioned as
operating had been, with the most newly disembarked of the two
men, wholly instinctive--the fruit of a sharp sense that, delightful
as it would be to find himself looking, after so much separation,
into his comrade's face, his business would be a trifle bungled
should he simply arrange for this countenance to present itself
to the nearing steamer as the first "note," of Europe
. Mixed
with everything was the apprehension, already, on Strether's part,
that it would, at best, throughout, prove the note of Europe in
quite a sufficient degree.
   That note had been meanwhile--since the previous afternoon,
thanks to this happier device-- such a consciousness of personal
freedom
as he hadn't known for years; such a deep taste of change
and of having above all for the moment nobody and nothing to
consider, as promised already, if headlong hope were not too foolish,
to colour his adventure with cool success.






but he had stolen away from every one alike, had kept no
appointment
and renewed no acquaintance, had been indifferently
aware of the number of persons who esteemed themselves fortunate
in being, unlike himself, "met,"
and had even independently,
unsociably, alone, without
encounter or relapse and by mere quiet
evasion, given his afternoon and evening to the immediate and the
sensible. They formed a qualified draught of Europe
, an afternoon
and an evening on the banks of the Mersey
, but such as it was he
took his potion at least undiluted.





He was burdened, poor Strether--it had better be confessed at the
outset--with the oddity of a double consciousness. There was detachment
in his zeal and curiosity in his indifference
.





But he didn't, it happened, know the Munsters well enough to give
the case much of a
lift; so that they were left together as if over
the mere laid table of conversation
. Her qualification of the
mentioned connexion had rather removed than placed a dish, and
there seemed nothing else to serve. Their attitude remained, none
the less, that of not forsaking the board; and the effect of this
in turn was to give them the appearance of having accepted each
other with an absence of preliminaries practically
complete.





a man of five-and-fifty, whose most immediate signs were a marked
bloodless brownness of face
, a thick dark moustache, of
characteristically American cut, growing strong and falling low, a
head of hair still
abundant but irregularly streaked with grey, and
a nose of bold free prominence, the even line, the high finish, as
it might have been called, of which, had a certain effect of
mitigation. A perpetual pair of glasses astride of this fine ridge,
and a line, unusually deep and drawn, the prolonged pen-stroke
of time, accompanying the curve of the moustache from nostril to
chin, did something to complete the facial furniture
that an attentive
observer would have seen catalogued, on the spot, in the vision of
the other party to Strether's appointment.





She had, this lady, a perfect plain propriety, an expensive subdued
suitability
, that her companion was not free to analyse, but that
struck him, so that his consciousness of it was instantly acute,
as a quality quite
new to him.





It had begun in fact already upstairs and before the dressing glass
that struck him as blocking further, so strangely, the dimness of
the window of his dull bedroom; begun with a sharper survey of the
elements of Appearance than he had for a long time been moved to
make. He had during those moments
felt these elements to be not so
much to his hand as he should have liked
, and then had fallen back
on the thought that they were precisely a matter as to which help
was supposed to come from what he was about to do. He was about to
go up to London, so that hat and necktie might wait. What had come
as straight to him as a ball in a well-played game--and caught
moreover not less neatly--was just the air, in the person of his
friend, of having seen and chosen, the air of achieved possession
of those vague qualities and quantities that collectively figured
to him as the advantage snatched from lucky chances.






The amusement, at all events, of a civilisation intenser was what--
familiar compatriot as she was, with the full tone of the
compatriot and the rattling link not with mystery but only with
dear dyspeptic Waymarsh
--she appeared distinctly to promise.





It wouldn't for such a spectator have been altogether insupposable
that, each so finely brown and so sharply spare, each confessing so
to dents of surface and aids to sight, to a disproportionate nose
and a head delicately or grossly grizzled, they might have been
brother and sister.





Surprise, it was true, was not on the other hand what the eyes of
Strether's friend most showed him while she gave him, stroking
her gloves smoother, the time he appreciated. They had taken hold
of him straightway measuring him up and down as if they knew how;
as if he were human material they had already in some sort handled.
Their possessor was in truth, it may be communicated, the mistress
of a hundred cases or categories, receptacles of the mind, subdivisions
for convenience, in which, from a full experience, she pigeon-holed
her fellow mortals with a hand as free as that of a compositor
scattering type.






He joined his guide in an instant, and then felt she had profited still
better than he by his having been for the moments just mentioned,
so at the disposal of her intelligence. She knew even intimate things
about him that he hadn't yet told her and perhaps never would. He
wasn't unaware that he had told her rather remarkably many for the
time, but these were not the real ones. Some of the real ones,
however, precisely, were what she knew.





He wondered. "Find out who you are?--after the uplifted young woman
there has seen us thus scrape acquaintance!"





She laughed on her side now at the shade of alarm in his amusement.
"Isn't it a reason the more? If what you're afraid of is the injury
for me--my being seen to walk off with a gentleman who has to ask
who I am--l assure you I don't in the least mind.





He read thus the simple designation "Maria Gostrey," to which was
attached, in a corner of the card, with a number, the name of a street,
presumably in Paris, without other appreciable identity than its
foreignness. He put the card into his waistcoat pocket, keeping his
own meanwhile in evidence; and as he leaned against the door-post
he met with the smile of a straying thought what the expanse before
the hotel offered to his view. It was positively droll to him that
he should already have Maria Gostrey
, whoever she was--of which he
hadn't really the least idea--in a place of safe keeping. He had
somehow an assurance that he should carefully preserve the little
token he had just
tucked in. He gazed with unseeing lingering eyes
as he followed some of the
implications of his act, asking himself
if he really felt
admonished to qualify it as disloyal. It was
prompt, it was possibly even premature, and there was little doubt
of the expression of face the sight of it would have produced in a
certain person. But if it was "wrong"--why then he had better not
have come out at all.





He had believed he had a limit, but the limit had been transcended
within thirty-six hours.
By how long a space on the plane of manners
or even of morals
, moreover, he felt still more sharply after Maria
Gostrey had come back to him and with a gay
decisive "So now--!"
led him forth into the world. This counted, it struck him as he
walked beside her with his overcoat on an arm, his umbrella under
another and his personal pasteboard a little stiffly
retained between
forefinger and thumb, this struck him as really, in comparison his
introduction to things. It hadn't been "Europe" at Liverpool no--
not even in
the dreadful delightful impressive streets the night
before--to the extent his present companion made it so. She
hadn't yet done that so much as when, after their walk had
lasted a few minutes and he had had time to wonder if a couple
of sidelong glances from her meant that he had best have put
on gloves she almost pulled him up with an amused challenge.
"But why--fondly as it's so easy to imagine your clinging to
it
--don't you put it away? Or if it's an inconvenience to you
to carry it, one's often glad to have one's card back. The
fortune one spends in them!"





-------------------------------------------------------------
She read it over again as one who had never seen it. "'Mr. Lewis
Lambert Strether'"--she sounded it almost as freely as for any
stranger.
She repeated however that she liked it--"particularly
the Lewis Lambert. It's the name of a novel of Balzac's."

"Oh I know that!" said Strether.

"But the novel's an awfully bad one."

"I know that too," Strether smiled. To which he added with an
irrelevance that was only superficial: "I come from Woollett
Massachusetts." It made her for some reason--the irrelevance or
whatever--
laugh. Balzac had described many cities, but hadn't
described Woollett Massachusetts. "You say that," she returned,
"as if you wanted one
immediately to know the worst."
"Oh I think it's a thing," he said, "that you must already have
made out. I feel it so that I certainly must look it, speak it,
and, as people say there, 'act' it. It sticks out of me, and you
knew surely for yourself as soon as you looked at me."

"The worst, you mean?"

"Well, the fact of where I come from. There at any rate it IS; so
that you won't be able, if anything happens, to say I've not been
straight with you."

"I see"--and Miss Gostrey looked really interested in the point he
had made. "But what do you think of as happening?"

Though he wasn't shy--which was rather anomalous--Strether gazed
about without meeting her eyes
; a motion that was frequent with him
in talk, yet of which his words often seemed not at all the effect.
"Why that you should find me too hopeless." With which they walked
on again together while she answered, as they went, that the most
"
hopeless" of her countryfolk were in general precisely those she
liked best. All sorts of other pleasant small things-small things
that were yet large for him--flowered in the air of the occasion
,
but the bearing of the occasion itself on matters still remote
concerns us too closely to permit us to multiply our illustrations.
Two or three, however, in truth, we should perhaps regret to lose.
The tortuous wall--girdle, long since snapped, of the little
swollen city, half held in place by careful civic hands--wanders in
narrow file between parapets smoothed by peaceful generations,
pausing here and there for a dismantled gate or a bridged gap, with
rises and drops, steps up and steps down, queer twists, queer
contacts, peeps into homely streets and under the brows of gables,
views of cathedral tower and waterside fields, of huddled English
town and ordered English country. Too deep almost for words was the
delight of these things to Strether; yet as deeply mixed with it
were certain images of his inward picture. He had trod this walks
in the far-off time, at twenty-five; but that, instead of spoiling
it, only enriched it for present feeling and marked his renewal as
a thing substantial enough to share.

-------------------------------------------------------------





-------------------------------------------------------------
"You're doing something that you think not right."

It so touched the place that he quite changed colour and his laugh
grew almost awkward. "Am I enjoying it as much as THAT?"

"You're not enjoying it, I think, so much as you ought."

"I see"--he appeared thoughtfully to agree. "Great is my privilege."

"Oh it's not your privilege! It has nothing to do with me. It has
to do with yourself. Your failure's general."

"Ah there you are!" he laughed. "It's the failure of Woollett.
THAT'S general."

"The failure to enjoy," Miss Gostrey explained, "is what I mean."

"Precisely. Woollett isn't sure it ought to enjoy. If it were it
would. But it hasn't, poor thing," Strether continued, "any one to
show it how. It's not like me. I have somebody."

They had stopped, in the afternoon sunshine--constantly pausing, in
their stroll, for the sharper sense of what they saw
--and Strether
rested on one of the high sides of the old stony groove of the
little rampart. He leaned back on this support with his face to the
tower of the cathedral, now admirably commanded by their station,
the high red-brown mass, square and subordinately spired and
crocketed, retouched and restored, but charming to his long-sealed
eyes and with the first swallows of the year weaving their flight
all round it.
Miss Gostrey lingered near him, full of an air, to
which she more and more
justified her right, of understanding the
effect of things
. She quite concurred. "You've indeed somebody."
And she added: "I wish you WOULD let me show you how!"

"Oh I'm afraid of you!" he cheerfully pleaded.

She kept on him a moment, through her glasses and through his own,
a certain pleasant pointedness
. "Ah no, you're not! You're not in
the least, thank goodness! If you had been we shouldn't so soon
have found ourselves here together. I think," she comfortably
concluded, "you trust me."

"I think I do!--but that's exactly what I'm afraid of. I shouldn't
mind if I didn't. It's falling thus in twenty minutes so utterly
into your hands.
I dare say," Strether continued, "it's a sort of
thing you're thoroughly familiar with; but nothing more
extraordinary has ever happened to me.
"

She watched him with all her kindness. "That means simply that
you've
recognised me--which IS rather beautiful and rare. You see
what I am." As on this, however, he protested, with a good-humoured
headshake, a resignation of any such claim, she had a moment of
explanation. "If you'll only come on further as you HAVE come
you'll at any rate make out. My own fate has been too many for me,
and I've
succumbed to it. I'm a general guide--to 'Europe,' don't
you know? I wait for people
--l put them through. I pick them up--
I set them down. I'm a sort of superior 'courier-maid
.' I'm a
companion at large. I take people, as I've told you, about. I never
sought it--it has come to me. It has been my fate, and one's fate
one accepts. It's a dreadful thing to have to say, in so wicked a
world
, but I verily believe that, such as you see me, there's
nothing I don't know. I know all the shops and the prices--but I
know worse things still. I bear on my back the huge load of our
national consciousness, or, in other words--for it comes to that--
of our nation itself. Of what is our nation composed but of the men
and women individually on my shoulders? I don't do it, you know,
for any particular advantage. I don't do it, for instance--some
people do, you know--for money."


Strether could only listen and wonder and weigh his chance. "And
yet, affected as you are then to so many of your clients, you can
scarcely be said to do it for love." He waited a moment. "How do we
reward you?"

She had her own hesitation, but "You don't!" she finally returned,
setting
him again in motion. They went on, but in a few minutes,
though while still thinking over what she had said, he once more
took out his watch; mechanically, unconsciously and as if made
nervous by the mere exhilaration of what struck him as her strange
and
cynical wit. He looked at the hour without seeing it, and then,
on something again said by his companion, had another pause.
"You're really in terror of him."

He smiled a smile that he almost felt to be sickly. "Now you can
see why I'm afraid of you."

"Because I've such illuminations? Why they're all for your help!
It's what I told you," she added, "just now. You feel as if this
were wrong."

He fell back once more, settling himself against the parapet as if
to
hear more about it. "Then get me out!"

Her face fairly
brightened for the joy of the appeal, but, as if it
were a question of
immediate action, she visibly considered. "Out
of waiting for him?--of seeing him at all?"

"Oh no--not that," said poor Strether, looking grave. "I've got to
wait for him--and I want very much to see him. But out of the
terror. You did
put your finger on it a few minutes ago. It's
general, but it
avails itself of particular occasions. That's what
it's doing for me now. I'm always
considering something else;
something else, I mean, than the thing of the moment
. The obsession
of the other thing is the terror. I'm considering at present for
instance something else than YOU."

She listened with
charming earnestness. "Oh you oughtn't to do
that!"


"It's what I admit. Make it then impossible."


She continued to think. "Is it really an 'order' from you?--that I
shall take the job? WILL you give yourself up?"


Poor Strether heaved his sigh. "If I only could! But that's the
deuce of it--that I never can. No--I can't."

She wasn't, however, discouraged. "But you want to at least?"

"Oh unspeakably!"

"Ah then, if you'll try!
"--and she took over the job, as she had
called it, on the spot. "Trust me!" she exclaimed, and the action
of this, as they retraced their steps, was presently to make him
pass his hand into her arm in the manner of a benign dependent
paternal old
person who wishes to be "nice" to a younger one. If he
drew it out again indeed as they approached the inn this may have
been because, after more talk had passed between them, the relation
of age, or at least of experience--which, for that matter, had
already played to and fro with some freedom--affected him as
incurring a readjustment.

-------------------------------------------------------------



II



He struck his visitor as extremely, as almost wilfully uncomfortable;
yet what had this been for Strether, from that first glimpse of him
disconcerted in the porch of the hotel, but the predominant notes.
The discomfort was in a manner contagious, as well as also in a
manner
inconsequent and unfounded; the visitor felt that unless
he should get used to it--or unless Waymarsh himself should--it
would constitute a menace for his own prepared, his own already
confirmed, consciousness of the agreeable. On their first going
up together to the room Strether had selected for him Waymarsh
had looked it over in silence and with a sigh that represented
for his companion, if not the habit of disapprobation, at least
the despair of felicity
; and this look had recurred to Strether
as the key of much he had since observed. "Europe," he had begun
to gather from these things, had up to now rather failed of its
message to him; he hadn't got into tune with it and had at the
end of three months almost renounced any such expectation.





He really appeared at present to insist on that by just perching
there with the gas in his eyes. This of itself somehow conveyed the
futility of single rectifications in a multiform failure. He had a
large handsome head and a large sallow seamed face--a striking
significant physiognomic total, the upper range of which, the great
political brow, the thick loose hair, the dark fuliginous eyes,

recalled even to a generation whose standard had dreadfully
deviated the impressive image, familiar by engravings and busts, of
some great national worthy of the earlier part of the mid-century.





He shook his mane; he fixed, with his admirable eyes, his
auditor or his observer
; he wore no glasses and had a way, partly
formidable, yet also partly encouraging, as from a representative
to a constituent, of looking very hard at those who approached him.
He met you as if you had knocked and he had bidden you enter.
Strether, who hadn't seen him for so long an interval, apprehended
him now with a
freshness of taste, and had perhaps never done him
such
ideal justice. The head was bigger, the eyes finer, than they
need have been for the career; but that only meant, after all, that
the career was itself expressive. What it expressed at midnight in
the gas-
glaring bedroom at Chester was that the subject of it had,
at the end of years, barely
escaped, by flight in time, a general
nervous collapse. But this very proof of the full life, as the full
life was understood at Milrose, would have made to Strether's
imagination an element in which Waymarsh could have floated easily
had he only consented to float. Alas nothing so little resembled
floating as the rigour with which, on the edge of his bed, he
hugged his posture of prolonged impermanence
. It suggested to his
comrade something that always, when kept up, worried him--a person
established in a railway-coach with a forward inclination. It
represented the angle at which poor Waymarsh was to sit through the
ordeal of Europe.


Thanks to the stress of occupation, the strain of professions, the
absorption and embarrassment of each, they had not, at home, during
years before this sudden brief and almost bewildering reign of
comparative ease, found so much as a day for a meeting; a fact that
was in some degree an explanation of the sharpness with which most
of his friend's features stood out to Strether. Those he had lost
sight of since the early time came back to him; others that it was
never possible to forget
struck him now as sitting, clustered and
expectant, like a somewhat defiant family-group, on the doorstep of
their residence
. The room was narrow for its length, and the
occupant of the bed thrust so far a pair of slippered feet that the
visitor had almost to step over them in his recurrent rebounds from
his chair to
fidget back and forth.





He knew they were still separate and that she lived at hotels,
travelled in Europe, painted her face and wrote her husband
abusive letters, of not one of which, to a certainty, that
sufferer spared himself the perusal
; but he respected without
difficulty the cold twilight that had settled on this side of
his companion's life
. It was a province in which mystery reigned
and as to which Waymarsh had never spoken the informing word.
Strether, who wanted to do him the highest justice wherever he
COULD do it, singularly admired him for the dignity of this
reserve, and even
counted it as one of the grounds--grounds
all handled and numbered
--for ranking him, in the range of their
acquaintance, as a success. He WAS a success, Waymarsh, in spite of
overwork, or prostration, of sensible shrinkage, of his wife's
letters and of his not liking Europe. Strether would have reckoned
his own career less futile had he been able to put into it anything
so handsome as so much fine silence
.





-------------------------------------------------------------
"I don't know as I quite see what you require it for. You don't
appear sick to speak of." It was of Europe Waymarsh thus finally
spoke.

"Well," said Strether, who fell as much as possible into step, "I
guess I don't FEEL sick now that I've started. But I had pretty
well run down before I did start."

Waymarsh raised his melancholy look. "Ain't you about up to your
usual average?"

It was not quite pointedly sceptical, but it seemed somehow a plea
for the
purest veracity, and it thereby affected our friend as the
very voice of Milrose. He had long since made a mental distinction--
though never in truth daring to betray it--between the voice of
Milrose and the voice even of Woollett.
It was the former he felt,
that was most in the real tradition. There had been occasions in
his past when the sound of it had reduced him to temporary
confusion, and the present, for some reason, suddenly became such
another. It was nevertheless no light matter that the very effect
of his confusion should be to make him again prevaricate. "That
description hardly does justice to a man to whom it has done such a
lot of good to see YOU."

Waymarsh fixed on his washing-stand the silent detached stare with
which Milrose in person, as it were, might have
marked the
unexpectedness of a compliment from Woollett, and Strether for his
part, felt once more like Woollett in person
. "I mean," his friend
presently continued, "that your appearance isn't as bad as I've
seen it: it compares favourably with what it was when I last
noticed it." On this appearance Waymarsh's eyes yet failed to rest;
it was almost as if they obeyed an instinct of propriety, and the
effect was still stronger when, always considering the basin and
jug, he added: "You've filled out some since then."
-------------------------------------------------------------




-------------------------------------------------------------
"I was dog-tired," his companion returned, "when I arrived, and it's
this wild hunt for rest that takes all the life out of me
. The fact
is, Strether--and it's a comfort to have you here at last to say it to;
though I don't know, after all, that I've really waited; I've told
it to people I've met in the cars--the fact is, such a country as this
ain't my KIND of country anyway. There ain't a country I've seen over
here that DOES seem my kind.
Oh I don't say but what there are plenty
of pretty places and remarkable old things; but the trouble is that I
don't seem to feel anywhere in tune. That's one of the reasons why I
suppose I've gained so little. I haven't had the first sign of that
lift I was led to expect."
With this he broke out more earnestly.
"Look here--I want to go back."

His eyes were all attached to Strether's now, for he was one of the
men who fully face you when they talk of themselves. This enabled
his friend to look at him hard and immediately to appear to the
highest advantage in his eyes by doing so. "That's a genial thing
to
say to a fellow who has come out on purpose to meet you!"

Nothing could have been finer, on this, than Waymarsh's sombre
glow
. "HAVE you come out on purpose?"

"Well--very largely."

"I thought from the way you wrote there was something back of it."

Strether
hesitated. "Back of my desire to be with you?"

"Back of your
prostration."
-------------------------------------------------------------




-------------------------------------------------------------
"Oh you shall have the whole thing. But not tonight."

Waymarsh seemed to sit stiffer and to hold his elbows tighter. "Why
not--if I can't sleep?"

"Because, my dear man, I CAN!"

"Then where's your prostration?"

"Just in that--that I can put in eight hours." And Strether brought
it out that if Waymarsh didn't "gain" it was because he didn't go
to bed: the result of which was, in its order, that, to do the
latter justice, he permitted his friend to insist on his really
getting settled. Strether, with a kind coercive hand for it,
assisted him to this consummation, and again found his own part in
their relation auspiciously enlarged by the smaller touches of
lowering the lamp and seeing to a sufficiency of blanket. It
somehow ministered for him to indulgence to feel Waymarsh, who
looked unnaturally big and black in bed, as much tucked in as a
patient in a hospital and, with his covering up to his chin, as
much simplified by it He hovered in vague pity,
to be brief, while
his companion challenged him out of the bedclothes. "Is she really
after you? Is that what's behind?"

Strether took another turn about the room, giving a twitch to his
companion's blanket
and finally gaining the door. His feeling was
that of a nurse who had earned personal rest by having made
everything straight. "Involving more things than I can think of
breaking ground on now. But don't be afraid--you shall have them
from me: you'll probably find yourself having quite as much of them
as you can do with. I shall--if we keep together--very much depend
on your impression of some of them."

Waymarsh's acknowledgement of this tribute was characteristically
indirect. "You mean to say you don't believe we WILL keep
together?"

"I only glance at the danger," Strether paternally said, "because
when I hear you wail to go back I seem to see you open up such
possibilities of
folly."

Waymarsh took it--silent a little--like a large snubbed child "What
are you going to do with me?
"

It was the very question Strether himself had put to Miss Gostrey,
and he wondered if he had sounded like that. But HE at least could
be more definite. "I'm going to take you right down to London."

"Oh I've been down to London!" Waymarsh more softly moaned. "I've
no use, Strether, for anything down there."

"Well," said Strether, good-humouredly, "I guess you've some use
for me."

"So I've got to go?"

"Oh you've got to go further yet."

"Well," Waymarsh sighed, "do your damnedest! Only you WILL tell me
before you lead me on all the way--?"

Our friend had again so lost himself, both for amusement and for
contrition, in the wonder of whether he had made, in his own
challenge that afternoon, such another figure, that he for an
instant missed the thread. "Tell you--?"

"Why what you've got on hand."

Strether hesitated. "Why it's such a matter as that even if I
positively wanted I shouldn't be able to keep it from you."

Waymarsh gloomily gazed. "What does that mean then but that your
trip is just FOR her?"

"For Mrs. Newsome? Oh it certainly is, as I say. Very much."

"Then why do you also say it's for me?"

Strether, in impatience, violently played with his latch. "It's
simple enough. It's for both of you."

Waymarsh at last turned over with a groan. "Well, I won't marry
you!"


"Neither, when it comes to that--!" But the visitor had already
laughed and escaped.
-------------------------------------------------------------



III



He had told Miss Gostrey he should probably take, for departure
with Waymarsh, some afternoon train, and it thereupon in the
morning appeared that this lady had made her own plan for an
earlier one. She had breakfasted when Strether came into the
coffee-room; but, Waymarsh not having yet emerged, he was in time
to recall her to the terms of their understanding and to pronounce
her discretion overdone. She was surely not to break away at the
very moment she had created a want
.





The latter had laid upon his friend, by desperate sounds through
the door of his room, dreadful divined responsibilities in respect
to beefsteak and oranges
--responsibilities which Miss Gostrey took
over with an alertness of action that matched her quick intelligence.
She had before this weaned the expatriated from traditions compared
with which the matutinal beefsteak was but the creature of an hour
,
and it was not for her, with some of her memories, to falter in the
path;




-------------------------------------------------------------
"I've my way of putting them through. That's my little system;
and, if you want to know," said Maria Gostrey, "it's my real
secret, my
innermost mission and use. I only seem, you see,
to beguile and approve; but I've thought it all out and I'm
working all the while underground. I can't perhaps quite give
you my formula, but I think that practically I
succeed. I send
you back
spent. So you stay back. Passed through my hands--"

"We don't turn up again?" The further she went the further he
always saw himself able to follow. "I don't want your formula--I
feel quite enough, as I hinted yesterday, your abysses.
Spent!" he
echoed. "If that's how you're arranging so subtly to send me I
thank you for the warning."

For a minute, amid the pleasantness--poetry in tariffed items, but
all the more, for guests already convicted, a challenge to
consumption--they smiled at each other in confirmed fellowship. "Do
you call it subtly? It's a plain poor tale. Besides, you're a
special case."

"Oh special cases--that's weak!" She was weak enough, further
still, to defer her journey and agree to accompany the gentlemen on
their own, might a separate carriage mark her independence; though
it was in spite of this to befall after luncheon that she went off
alone and that, with a tryst taken for a day of her company in
London, they lingered another night. She had, during the morning--
spent in a way that he was to remember later on as the very climax
of his foretaste, as warm with presentiments, with what he would
have called collapses
--had all sorts of things out with Strether;
and among them the fact that though there was never a moment of her
life when she wasn't "due" somewhere, there was yet scarce a
perfidy to others of which she wasn't capable for his sake. She
explained moreover that wherever she happened to be she found
a
dropped thread to pick up, a ragged edge to repair, some familiar
appetite in ambush, jumping out as she approached, yet appeasable
with a temporary biscuit
. It became, on her taking the risk of the
deviation imposed on him by her insidious arrangement of his
morning meal
, a point of honour for her not to fail with Waymarsh
of the
larger success too; and her subsequent boast to Strether was
that she had made their friend fare--and quite without his knowing
what was the matter--as Major Pendennis would have fared at the
Megatherium. She had made him breakfast like a gentleman, and it
was nothing, she forcibly asserted, to what she would yet make him
do. She made him participate in the slow reiterated ramble with
which, for Strether, the new day amply filled itself
; and it was by
her art that he
somehow had the air, on the ramparts and in the
Rows, of
carrying a point of his own.

The three strolled and stared and gossiped, or at least the
two did; the case really yielding for their comrade, if analysed,
but the element of stricken silence. This element indeed affected
Strether as charged with audible rumblings, but he was conscious of
the care of taking it explicitly as a sign of pleasant peace
. He
wouldn't appeal too much, for that provoked stiffness; yet he
wouldn't be too freely tacit, for that suggested giving up.
Waymarsh himself adhered to an ambiguous dumbness that might have
represented either the growth of a perception or the despair of
one; and at times and in places--where the low-browed galleries
were darkest, the opposite gables queerest, the solicitations of
every kind densest--the others caught him fixing hard some object
of minor interest, fixing even at moments nothing discernible, as
if he were indulging it with a truce. When he met Strether's eye on
such occasions he looked guilty and furtive, fell the next minute
into some attitude of retractation.
Our friend couldn't show him
the right things for fear of
provoking some total renouncement, and
was tempted even to show him the wrong in order to make him differ
with triumph. There were moments when he himself felt shy of
professing the full sweetness of the taste of leisure
, and there
were others when he found himself feeling as if his passages of
interchange with the lady
at his side might fall upon the third
member of their party very much as Mr. Burchell, at Dr. Primrose's
fireside, was influenced by the high flights of the visitors from
London. The smallest things so arrested and amused him that he
repeatedly almost apologised--brought up afresh in explanation his
plea of a previous grind. He was aware at the same time that his
grind had been as nothing to Waymarsh's, and he repeatedly
confessed that, to cover his frivolity, he was doing his best for
his previous
virtue. Do what he might, in any case, his previous
virtue was still there, and it seemed fairly to stare at him out of
the windows of shops
that were not as the shops of Woollett, fairly
to make him want things that he shouldn't know what to do with. It
was by the oddest, the least admissible of laws demoralising him
now; and the way it boldly took was to make him want more wants.
These first walks in Europe were in fact a kind of finely lurid
intimation of what one might find at the end of that process. Had
he come back after long years, in something already so like the
evening of life, only to be exposed to it?
It was at all events
over the shop-windows that he
made, with Waymarsh, most free;
though it would have been easier had not the latter most
sensibly
yielded
to the appeal of the merely useful trades. He pierced with
his sombre detachment the plate-glass of ironmongers and saddlers,
while Strether flaunted an affinity with the dealers in stamped
letter-paper and in smart neckties.

-------------------------------------------------------------





Was what was happening to himself then, was what already HAD
happened, really that a woman of fashion was floating him into
society
and that an old friend deserted on the brink was watching
the force of the current
? When the woman of fashion permitted
Strether--as she permitted him at the most--the purchase of a pair
of gloves, the terms she made about it, the prohibition of neckties
and other items till she should be able to guide him through the
Burlington Arcade, were such as to fall upon a sensitive ear as a
challenge to just imputations.





The Catholic Church, for Waymarsh-that was to say the
enemy, the monster of
bulging eyes and far-reaching quivering
groping
tentacles--was exactly society, exactly the multiplication
of shibboleths, exactly the
discrimination of types and tones,
exactly the wicked old Rows of Chester, rank with feudalism;
exactly in short Europe.






There was light for observation, however, in an incident that
occurred just before they turned back to luncheon. Waymarsh had
been for a quarter of an hour exceptionally mute and distant, and
something, or other--Strether was never to make out exactly what--
proved, as it were, too much for him after his comrades had stood
for three minutes taking in, while they leaned on an old balustrade
that guarded the edge of the Row, a particularly crooked and
huddled street-view. "He thinks us sophisticated, he thinks us
worldly, he thinks us wicked, he thinks us all sorts of queer
things," Strether
reflected; for wondrous were the vague quantities
our friend had within a couple of short days acquired the habit of
conveniently and conclusively lumping together. There seemed
moreover a direct connexion between some such inference and a
sudden grim dash
taken by Waymarsh to the opposite side. This
movement was startlingly sudden, and his companions at first
supposed him to have espied, to be pursuing, the glimpse of an
acquaintance. They next made out, however, that an open door had
instantly received him, and they then
recognised him as engulfed in
the establishment of a jeweller, behind whose
glittering front he
was lost to view. The fact had somehow the note of a
demonstration,





-------------------------------------------------------------
"Well," said Strether, "he can't stand it."

"But can't stand what?"

"Anything. Europe."

"Then how will that jeweller help him?"

Strether seemed to make it out, from their position, between the
interstices of arrayed watches, of close-hung dangling gewgaws.
"You'll see."

"Ah that's just what--if he buys anything--I'm afraid of: that I
shall see something rather dreadful."

Strether studied the finer appearances. "He may buy everything."

"Then don't you think we ought to follow him?"

"Not for worlds. Besides we can't. We're paralysed. We exchange a
long scared look, we publicly tremble. The thing is, you see, we
'
realise.' He has struck for freedom."

She wondered but she laughed. "Ah what a price to pay! And I was
preparing some for him so cheap."

"No, no," Strether went on, frankly amused now; "don't call it
that: the kind of freedom you deal in is dear." Then as to justify
himself: "Am I not in MY way trying it? It's this."

"Being here, you mean, with me?''

"Yes, and talking to you as I do. I've known you a few hours, and
I've known HIM all my life;
-------------------------------------------------------------




-------------------------------------------------------------
"The equivalent would be Waymarsh's himself serving me up--
his
remorseless analysis of me. And he'll never do that"--
he was sadly clear. "He'll never remorselessly analyse me."
He quite held her with the authority of this. "He'll never
say a word to you about me."

She took it in; she did it justice; yet after an instant her
reason, her
restless irony, disposed of it. "Of course he won't.
For what do you take people, that they're able to say words about
anything, able remorselessly to analyse? There are not many like
you and me. It will be only because he's too stupid."

It stirred in her friend a sceptical echo which was at the same
time the protest of the faith of years. "Waymarsh stupid?"

"Compared with you."
-------------------------------------------------------------




If Waymarsh was sombre he was also indeed almost sublime. He told
them nothing, left his absence unexplained, and though they were
convinced he had made some extraordinary purchase they were never
to learn its nature. He only glowered grandly at the tops of the
old gables. "It's the sacred rage,"
Strether had had further time
to say; and this sacred rage was to become between them, for
convenient comprehension, the description of one of his periodical
necessities. It was Strether who eventually contended that it did
make him better than they. But by that time Miss Gostrey was
convinced that she didn't want to be better than Strether.



    

     Book 2


I


Those occasions on which Strether was, in association with the
exile from Milrose, to see the sacred rage glimmer through would
doubtless have their due periodicity; but our friend had meanwhile
to find names for many other matters. On no evening of his life
perhaps, as he
reflected, had he had to supply so many as on the
third of his short stay in London; an evening spent by Miss
Gostrey's side at one of the theatres, to which he had found
himself
transported, without his own hand raised, on the mere
expression of a conscientious wonder. She knew her theatre, she
knew her play, as she had
triumphantly known, three days running,
everything else, and the moment
filled to the brim, for her
companion, that
apprehension of the interesting which, whether or
no the interesting happened to
filter through his guide, strained
now to its limits his
brief opportunity.





Miss Gostrey had dined with him at his hotel, face to face over a
small table on which the lighted candles had rose-coloured shades;
and the rose-coloured shades and the small table and the soft
fragrance of the lady--had anything to his mere sense ever been so
soft?--were so many touches in he scarce knew what positive high
picture
. He had been to the theatre, even to the opera, in Boston,
with Mrs. Newsome, more than once acting as her only escort; but

there had been no little confronted dinner, no pink lights, no
whiff of vague sweetness, as a preliminary: one of the results of
which was that at present, mildly rueful, though with a sharpish
accent, he actually asked himself WHY there hadn't
. There was much
the same difference in his impression of the noticed state of his
companion, whose dress was "cut down," as he believed the term to
be, in respect to shoulders and bosom, in a manner quite other than
Mrs. Newsome's, and who wore round her throat a broad red velvet
band with an antique jewel--he was rather complacently sure it was
antique--attached to it in front. Mrs. Newsome's dress was never in
any degree "cut down,"
and she never wore round her throat a broad
red velvet band: if she had, moreover,
would it ever have served so
to carry on and complicate, as he now almost felt, his vision?

It would have been absurd of him to trace into ramifications the
effect of the ribbon from which Miss Gostrey's trinket depended,
had he not for the hour, at the best, been so given over to
uncontrolled perceptions. What was it but an uncontrolled
perception that his friend's velvet band somehow added, in her
appearance, to the value of every other item--to that of her smile
and of the way she carried her head, to that of her complexion, of
her lips, her teeth, her eyes, her hair?
What, certainly, had a man
conscious of a man's work in the world to do with red velvet bands?
He wouldn't for anything have so
exposed himself as to tell Miss
Gostrey how much he liked hers, yet he HAD none the less not only
caught himself in the act--
frivolous, no doubt, idiotic, and above
all
unexpected--of liking it: he had in addition taken it as a
starting-point for fresh backward, fresh forward, fresh lateral
flights. The manner in which Mrs. Newsome's throat WAS encircled
suddenly represented for him, in an alien order, almost as many
things as the manner in which Miss Gostrey's was. Mrs. Newsome
wore, at operatic hours, a black silk dress--very handsome, he knew
it was "handsome"
--and an ornament that his memory was able further
to identify as a ruche. He had his association indeed with the
ruche, but it was rather
imperfectly romantic. He had once said to
the wearer--and it was as
"free" a remark as he had ever made to
her--that she looked, with her ruff and other matters, like Queen
Elizabeth; and it had after this in truth been his fancy that, as a
consequence of that
tenderness and an acceptance of the idea, the
form of this special tribute to the "frill" had grown slightly more
marked.
The connexion, as he sat there and let his imagination
roam, was to strike him as vaguely pathetic;






It came over him for instance that Miss Gostrey looked
perhaps like Mary Stuart
: Lambert Strether had a candour of fancy
which could rest for an instant gratified in such an antithesis
. It
came over him that never before--no, literally never--had a lady
dined with him at a public place before going to the play. The
publicity of the place was just, in the matter, for Strether, the
rare strange thing; it affected him almost as the achievement of
privacy might have affected a man of a different experience. He had
married, in the far-away years, so young as to have missed the time
natural in Boston for taking girls to the Museum; and it was
absolutely true of him that--even after the close of the period of
conscious detachment occupying the centre of his life, the grey
middle desert of the two deaths
, that of his wife and that, ten
years later, of his boy
--he had never taken any one anywhere. It
came over him in especial--though the monition had, as happened,
already sounded, fitfully gleamed
, in other forms--that the
business he had come out on hadn't yet been so brought home to him
as by the sight of the people about him. She gave him the
impression, his friend, at first, more straight than he got it for
himself--gave it simply by saying with off-hand illumination: "Oh
yes, they're types!"
--but after he had taken it he made to the full
his own use of it; both while he kept silence for the four acts and
while he talked in the intervals. It was an evening, it was a world
of types, and this was a connexion above all in which the figures
and faces in the stalls were interchangeable with those on the
stage.

He felt as if the play itself penetrated him with the naked elbow
of his neighbour, a great stripped handsome red-haired lady who
conversed with a gentleman on her other side in stray dissyllables
which had for his ear, in the oddest way in the world, so much
sound that he wondered they hadn't more sense;
and he recognised by
the same law, beyond the footlights, what he was pleased to take
for the very flush of English life
. He had distracted drops in
which he couldn't have said if it were actors or auditors who were
most true, and the upshot of which, each time, was the consciousness
of new contacts
. However he viewed his job it was "types" he should
have to
tackle. Those before him and around him were not as the
types of Woollett, where, for that matter, it had begun to seem to
him that there must only have been the male and the female.
These made two exactly, even with the
individual varieties. Here,
on the other hand, apart from the
personal and the sexual range--
which might be greater or less--a series of strong stamps had been
applied, as it were, from without; stamps that his observation
played with as, before a glass case on a table, it might have
passed from medal to medal and from copper to gold. It befell that
in the drama precisely there was
a bad woman in a yellow frock who
made a pleasant weak good-looking young man in perpetual evening
dress do the most
dreadful things. Strether felt himself on the
whole not afraid of the
yellow frock, but he was vaguely anxious
over a certain kindness into which he found himself drifting for
its victim. He hadn't come out, he reminded himself, to be too
kind, or indeed to be kind at all, to Chadwick Newsome. Would Chad
also be in
perpetual evening dress? He somehow rather hoped it--it
seemed so to add to THIS young man's general
amenability; though he
wondered too if, to fight him with his own weapons, he himself (a
thought almost startling) would have likewise to be.
This young man
furthermore would have been much more easy to handle--at least for
HIM--than appeared probable in respect to Chad.





-------------------------------------------------------------
She may be charming--his life!"

"Charming?"--Strether stared before him. "She's
base, venal-out of
the streets."


"I see. And HE--?"

"Chad, wretched boy?"

"Of what type and temper is he?" she went on as Strether had
lapsed.

"Well--the obstinate." It was as if for a moment he had been going
to say more and had then controlled himself.

That was scarce what she wished. "Do you like him?"

This time he was prompt. "No. How CAN I?"

"Do you mean because of your being so saddled with him?"

"I'm thinking of his mother," said Strether after a moment. "He has
darkened her admirable life." He spoke with austerity
. "He has
worried her half to death."

"Oh that's of course odious." She had a pause as if for renewed
emphasis of this truth, but it ended on another note. "Is her life
very admirable?"

"Extraordinarily."

There was so much in the tone that Miss Gostrey had to devote
another
pause to the appreciation of it. "And has he only HER? I
don't mean the bad woman in Paris," she quickly added--"for I
assure you I shouldn't even at the best be disposed to allow him
more than one. But has he only his mother?"

"He has also a sister, older than himself and married; and they're
both remarkably fine women."

"Very handsome, you mean?"

This promptitude--almost, as he might have thought, this
precipitation, gave him a brief drop
; but he came up again.
"Mrs. Newsome, I think, is handsome, though she's not of course,
with a son of twenty-eight and a daughter of thirty, in her very
first youth. She married, however, extremely young."

"And is wonderful," Miss Gostrey asked, "for her age?"

Strether seemed to feel with a certain disquiet the pressure of it.
"I don't say she's wonderful. Or rather," he went on the next moment,
"I do say it. It's exactly what she IS--wonderful. But I wasn't
thinking of her appearance," he explained--"striking as that doubtless
is. I was thinking--well, of many other things." He seemed to look at
these as if to mention some of them; then took, pulling himself up,
another turn. "About Mrs. Pocock people may differ."

"Is that the daughter's name--'Pocock'?"

"That's the daughter's name," Strether sturdily confessed.

"And people may differ, you mean, about HER beauty?"

"About everything."

"But YOU admire her?"

He gave his friend a glance as to show how he could bear this "I'm
perhaps a little afraid of her."

"Oh," said Miss Gostrey, "I see her from here! You may say then I
see very
fast and very far, but I've already shown you I do. The
young man and the two ladies," she went on, "are at any rate all
the family?"

"Quite all. His father has been dead ten years, and there's no
brother, nor any other sister. They'd do," said Strether, "anything
in the world for him."

"And you'd do anything in the world for THEM?"

He shifted again; she had made it perhaps just a shade too affirmative
for his nerves.
"Oh I don't know!"
-------------------------------------------------------------




-------------------------------------------------------------
She's at any rate delicate sensitive high-strung. She puts so
much of herself into everything--"

Ah Maria knew these things! "That she has nothing left for anything
else? Of course she hasn't. To whom do you say it? High-strung?
Don't I spend my life, for them, jamming down the pedal? I see
moreover how it has told on you."

Strether
took this more lightly. "Oh I jam down the pedal too!"

"Well," she lucidly returned, "we must from this moment bear on it
together with all our might." And she forged ahead. "Have they
money?"

But it was as if, while her energetic image still held him, her
enquiry fell short
. "Mrs. Newsome," he wished further to explain,
"hasn't moreover your courage on the question of contact. If she
had come it would have been to see the person herself."

"The woman? Ah but that's courage."

"No--it's exaltation, which is a very different thing. Courage,"
he, however, accommodatingly threw out, "is what YOU have."

She shook her head. "You say that only to patch me up--to cover the
nudity of my want of exaltation.
I've neither the one nor the
other.
I've mere battered indifference. I see that what you mean,"
Miss Gostrey pursued, "is that if your friend HAD come she would
take great views, and the great views, to put it simply, would be
too much for her."

Strether looked amused at her notion of the simple, but he adopted
her formula. "Everything's too much for her."
-------------------------------------------------------------




-------------------------------------------------------------
"Is there a business?"

"Lord, yes--a big brave bouncing business. A roaring trade."

"A great shop?"

"Yes--a workshop; a great production, a great industry. The
concern's a manufacture--and a manufacture that, if it's only
properly looked after, may well be on the way to become a monopoly.
It's a little thing they make--make better, it appears, than other
people can, or than other people, at any rate, do. Mr. Newsome,
being a man of ideas, at least in that particular line," Strether
explained, "put them on it with great effect, and gave the place
altogether, in his time, an immense lift."

"It's a place in itself?"

"Well, quite a number of buildings; almost a little industrial
colony.
But above all it's a thing. The article produced."

"And what IS the article produced?"

Strether looked about him as in slight reluctance to say; then the
curtain, which he saw about to rise, came to his aid. "I'll tell
you next time." But when the next time came he only said he'd tell
her later on--after they should have left the theatre; for she had
immediately reverted to their topic, and even for himself the
picture of the stage was now overlaid with another image. His
postponements, however, made her wonder--wonder if the article
referred to were anything bad. And she explained that she meant
improper or ridiculous or wrong. But Strether, so far as that went,
could satisfy her. "Unmentionable? Oh no, we constantly talk of it;
we are quite familiar and brazen about it. Only, as a small,
trivial, rather ridiculous object of the commonest domestic use,
it's just wanting in-what shall I say? Well, dignity, or the least
approach to
distinction. Right here therefore, with everything
about us so grand--!" In short he shrank.

"It's a false note?"

"Sadly. It's vulgar."

"But surely not vulgarer than this." Then on his wondering as she
herself had done: "Than everything about us." She seemed a trifle
irritated. "What do you take this for?"

"Why for--comparatively--divine! "

"This dreadful London theatre? It's impossible, if you really want
to know."

"Oh then," laughed Strether, "I DON'T really want to know!"

It made between them a pause, which she, however, still fascinated
by the mystery of the production at Woollett, presently broke.
"'Rather ridiculous'? Clothes-pins? Saleratus? Shoe-polish?"
-------------------------------------------------------------




-------------------------------------------------------------
In ignorance she could humour her fancy, and that proved a
useful freedom. She could treat the little nameless object
as indeed unnameable--she could make their abstention
enormously definite. There might indeed have been for
Strether the portent of this in what she next said.

"Is it perhaps then because it's so bad--because your industry as
you call it, IS so vulgar--that Mr. Chad won't come back? Does he
feel thetaint? Is he staying away not to be mixed up in it?"

"Oh," Strether laughed, "it wouldn't appear--would it?--that he
feels 'taints'!
He's glad enough of the money from it, and the
money's his whole basis
. There's appreciation in that--I mean as to
the allowance his mother has hitherto made him. She has of course
the resource of cutting this allowance off; but even then he has
unfortunately, and on no small scale, his independent supply--money
left him by his grandfather, her own father."

"Wouldn't the fact you mention then," Miss Gostrey asked, "make it
just more easy for him to be particular? Isn't he conceivable as
fastidious about the source--the apparent and public source--of his
income?"

Strether was able quite good-humouredly to entertain the
proposition. "The source of his grandfather's wealth--and thereby
of his own share in it--was not particularly noble."

"And what source was it?"

Strether cast about. "Well--practices."

"In business?
Infamies? He was an old swindler?"

"Oh," he said with more
emphasis than spirit, "I shan't describe
HIM nor
narrate his exploits."

"Lord, what abysses!"
-------------------------------------------------------------




-------------------------------------------------------------
"Oh I can't talk of her!" Strether said.

"I thought she was just what you COULD talk of. You DON'T trust
me," Miss Gostrey after a moment declared.

It had its effect. "Well, her money is spent, her life conceived
and
carried on with a large beneficence--"

"That's a kind of expiation of wrongs? Gracious," she added before
he could speak, "how
intensely you make me see her!"
-------------------------------------------------------------




-------------------------------------------------------------
"The Review?--you have a Review?"

"Certainly. Woollett has a Review--which Mrs. Newsome, for the
most part, magnificently pays for and which I, not at all
magnificently, edit. My name's on the cover," Strether pursued,
"and I'm really rather disappointed and hurt that you seem never
to have heard of it."

She neglected for a moment this grievance. "And what kind of a
Review is it?"

His serenity was now completely restored. "Well, it's green."

"Do you mean in political colour as they say here--in thought?"

"No; I mean the cover's green--of the most lovely shade."


"And with Mrs. Newsome's name on it too?"

He waited a little. "Oh as for that you must judge if she peeps
out. She's behind the whole thing; but she's of a delicacy and a
discretion--!"

Miss Gostrey took it all. "I'm sure. She WOULD be. I don't
underrate her. She must be rather a swell."

"Oh yes, she's rather a swell!"

"A Woollett swell--bon! I like the idea of a Woollett swell. And
you must be rather one too, to be so mixed up with her."

"Ah no," said Strether, "that's not the way it
works."

But she had already taken him up. "The way it works--you needn't
tell me!--is of course that you efface yourself."

"With my name on the cover?" he lucidly objected.

"Ah but you don't put it on for yourself."

"I beg your pardon--that's exactly what I do put it on for. It's
exactly the thing that I'm
reduced to doing for myself. It seems
to rescue a little, you see, from the wreck of hopes and ambitions,
the refuse-heap of disappointments and failures, my one presentable
little scrap of an identity."

-------------------------------------------------------------




-------------------------------------------------------------
"Well, she very far. I much less. I don't begin to have her faith.
She provides," said Strether, "three fourths of that. And she
provides, as I've confided to you, ALL the money."

It evoked somehow a vision of gold that held for a little Miss
Gostrey's eyes, and she looked as if she heard the
bright dollars
shovelled in. "I hope then you make a good thing--"

"I NEVER made a good thing!" he at once returned.

She just waited. "Don't you call it a good thing to be loved?"

"Oh we're not loved. We're not even hated. We're only just sweetly
ignored
."

She had another pause. "You don't trust me!" she once more repeated.

"Don't I when I lift the last veil?--tell you the very secret of
the prison-house?
"


Again she met his eyes, but to the result that after an instant
her own turned away with impatience. "You don't sell? Oh I'm glad
of THAT!" After which however, and before he could protest, she was
off again. "She's just a MORAL swell."

He accepted gaily enough the definition. "Yes--I really think that
describes her."

But it had for his friend the oddest connexion. "How does she do
her hair?"

He laughed out. "Beautifully!"

"Ah that doesn't tell me. However, it doesn't matter--I know. It's
tremendously neat--a real reproach; quite remarkably thick and
without, as yet, a single strand of white. There!"


He blushed for her realism, but gaped at her truth. "You're the
very deuce."

-------------------------------------------------------------




-------------------------------------------------------------
Miss Gostrey let her friend know that he wasn't to see her home.
He was simply to put her, by herself, into a four-wheeler; she
liked so in London, of wet nights after wild pleasures, thinking
things over, on the return, in lonely four-wheelers. This was
her great time, she intimated, for pulling herself together.
The delays caused by the weather, the struggle for vehicles at
the door, gave them occasion to subside on a divan at the back
of the vestibule and just beyond the reach of the
fresh damp
gusts from the street. Here Strether's comrade resumed that
free handling of the subject to which his own imagination of
it already owed so much
. "Does your young friend in Paris like
you?"

It had almost, after the interval, startled him. "Oh I hope not!
Why SHOULD he?"

"Why shouldn't he?" Miss Gostrey asked. "That you're coming down on
him need have nothing to do with it."

"You see more in it," he presently returned, "than I."

"Of course I see you in it."

"Well then you see more in 'me'!"

"Than you see in yourself? Very likely. That's always one's right.
What I was thinking of," she explained, "is the possible particular
effect on him of his milieu."

"Oh his milieu--!" Strether really felt he could imagine it better
now than three hours before.


"Do you mean it can only have been so lowering?"

"Why that's my very starting-point."

"Yes, but you start so far back. What do his letters say?"

"Nothing. He practically ignores us--or spares us. He doesn't
write."

"I see. But there are all the same," she went on, "two quite
distinct things that--given the wonderful place he's in--may have
happened to him. One is that he may have got
brutalised. The other
is that he may have got
refined."

Strether stared--this WAS a novelty. "Refined?"

"Oh," she said quietly, "there ARE refinements."
-------------------------------------------------------------




-------------------------------------------------------------
I'm acting with a sense for him of other things too.
Consideration and comfort and security--the general safety of
being anchored by a strong chain. He wants, as I see him, to be
protected. Protected I mean from life."

"Ah voila!"--her thought
fitted with a click. "From life. What you
REALLY want to get him home for is to marry him."

"Well, that's about the size of it."

"Of course," she said, "it's rudimentary. But to any one in
particular?"

He smiled at this, looking a little more conscious. "You get
everything out."

For a moment again their eyes met. "You put everything in!"

He acknowledged the tribute by telling her. "To Mamie Pocock."

She wondered; then gravely, even exquisitely, as if to make the
oddity also fit: "His own niece?"

"Oh you must yourself find a name for the relation. His
brother-in-law's sister. Mrs. Jim's sister-in-law."

It seemed to have on Miss Gostrey a certain hardening effect. "And
who in the world's Mrs. Jim?"

"Chad's sister--who was Sarah Newsome. She's married--didn't I
mention it?--to Jim Pocock."

"Ah yes," she tacitly replied; but he had mentioned things--!
Then, however, with all the sound it could have, "Who in the
world's Jim Pocock?" she asked.

"Why Sally's husband. That's the only way we distinguish people at
Woollett," he good-humoredly explained.

"And is it a great distinction--being Sally's husband?"

He considered. "I think there can be scarcely a greater--unless it
may become one, in the future, to be Chad's wife."

"Then how do they distinguish YOU?"

"They DON'T--except, as I've told you, by the green cover."

Once more their eyes met on it, and she held him an instant. "The
green cover won't--nor will ANY cover--avail you with ME. You're
of a depth of
duplicity!" Still, she could in her own large grasp
of the real condone it. "Is Mamie a great parti?"

"Oh the greatest we have--our prettiest brightest girl."

Miss Gostrey seemed to fix the poor child. "I know what they CAN
be.
-------------------------------------------------------------




-------------------------------------------------------------
The depletion of the place, the shrinkage of the crowd and now
comparatively quiet withdrawal of its last elements had already
brought them nearer the door and put them in relation with a
messenger of whom he bespoke Miss Gostrey's cab. But this left
them a few minutes more, which she was clearly in no mood not to
use. "You've spoken to me of what--by your success--Mr. Chad
stands to gain. But you've not spoken to me of what you do."

"Oh I've nothing more to gain," said Strether very simply.

She took it as even quite too simple. "You mean you've got it all
'down'? You've been paid in advance?"

"Ah don't talk about payment!" he groaned.

Something in the tone of it pulled her up, but as their messenger
still delayed she had another chance and she put it in another
way. "What--by failure--do you stand to lose?"

He still, however, wouldn't have it. "Nothing!" he exclaimed, and
on the messenger's at this instant reappearing he was able to sink
the subject in their
responsive advance.
-------------------------------------------------------------




-------------------------------------------------------------
She kept him a moment, while his hand was on the door, by not
answering; after which she answered by repeating her question.
"What do you stand to lose?"

Why the question now affected him as other he couldn't have said;
he could only this time meet it otherwise. "Everything."

"So I thought. Then you shall succeed. And to that end I'm yours--"

"Ah,
dear lady!" he kindly breathed.

"Till death!" said Maria Gostrey. "Good-night."

-------------------------------------------------------------


II


A single day to feel his feet--he had felt them as yet only at
Chester and in London--was he could consider, none too much;
and having, as he had often privately expressed it, Paris to
reckon with, he threw these hours of freshness consciously
into the
reckoning. They made it continually greater, but
that was what it had best be if it was to be anything at
all, and he gave himself up till far into the evening, at
the theatre and on the return, after the theatre, along the
bright congested Boulevard, to feeling it grow. Waymarsh
had accompanied him this time to the play, and the two men had
walked together, as a first stage, from the Gymnase to the Cafe
Riche, into the crowded "terrace" of which establishment--the
night, or rather the morning, for midnight had struck, being bland
and populous--they had wedged themselves for refreshment.
Waymarsh, as a result of some discussion with his friend, had made
a marked virtue of his having now let himself go; and there had
been elements of impression in their half-hour over their watered
beer-glasses that gave him his occasion for conveying that he held
this
compromise with his stiffer self to have become extreme. He
conveyed it--for it was still, after all, his stiffer self who
gloomed out of the glare of the terrace
--in solemn silence; and
there was indeed a great deal of critical silence, every way,
between the companions, even till they gained the Place de l'Opera,
as to the character of their nocturnal progress.





Strether had left him there yesterday; he wanted to see the
papers, and he had spent, by what his friend could make out,
a succession of hours with the papers. He spoke of the
establishment, with emphasis, as a post of superior
observation; just as he spoke generally of his actual
damnable doom
as a device for hiding from him what was
going on.
Europe was best described, to his mind, as an
elaborate engine for dissociating the confined American from
that indispensable knowledge, and was accordingly only rendered
bearable by these occasional stations of relief, traps for the
arrest of wandering western airs
. Strether, on his side, set
himself to walk again--he had his relief in his pocket; and
indeed, much as he had desired his budget, the growth of
restlessness might have been marked in him from the moment
he had assured himself of the superscription of most of
the missives it contained. This restlessness became therefore
his temporary law;





In the garden of the Tuileries he had lingered, on two or three
spots, to look; it was as if the wonderful Paris spring had
stayed him as he roamed. The prompt Paris morning struck its
cheerful notes--in a soft breeze and a sprinkled smell, in the
light flit, over the garden-floor, of bareheaded girls with
the buckled strap of oblong boxes, in the type of ancient
thrifty persons basking betimes where terrace-walls were warm,
in the blue-frocked brass-labelled officialism of humble rakers
and scrapers, in the deep references of a straight-pacing priest
or the sharp ones of a white-gaitered red-legged soldier. He
watched little brisk figures, figures whose movement was as
the tick of the great Paris clock, take their smooth diagonal
from point to point; the air had a taste as of something mixed
with art, something that presented nature as a white-capped
master-chef.
The palace was gone, Strether remembered the
palace; and when he gazed into the irremediable void of its
site the historic sense in him might have been freely at play--
the play under which in Paris indeed it so often winces like a
touched nerve. He filled out spaces with dim symbols of scenes;
he caught the gleam of white statues
at the base of which, with
his letters out, he could tilt back a straw-bottomed chair. But
his drift was, for reasons, to the other side, and
it floated
him unspent up the Rue de Seine and as far as the Luxembourg
.
In the Luxembourg Gardens he pulled up; here at last he found
his nook, and here, on a penny chair from which terraces, alleys,
vistas, fountains, little trees in green tubs, little women in
white caps and shrill little girls at play all sunnily "composed"
together, he passed an hour in which the cup of his impressions
seemed truly to overflow.
But a week had elapsed since he quitted
the ship, and there were more things in his mind than so few days
could account for. More than once, during the time, he had regarded
himself as admonished; but the admonition this morning was
formidably sharp. It took as it hadn't done yet the form of a
question--the question of what he was doing with such an
extraordinary sense of escape.





He read the letters successively and slowly, putting others
back into his pocket but keeping these for a long time afterwards
gathered in his lap. He held them there, lost in thought, as if
to prolong the presence of what they gave him; or as if at the
least
to assure them their part in the constitution of some
lucidity.
His friend wrote admirably, and her tone was even
more in her style than in her voice--he might almost, for the
hour, have
had to come this distance to get its full carrying
quality; yet the plentitude of his consciousness of difference
consorted perfectly with the deepened intensity of the
connexion.
It was the difference, the difference of being just
where he was and AS he was, that formed the escape--this
difference was so much greater than he had dreamed it would be;





It all sprang at bottom from the beauty of Mrs. Newsome's desire
that he should be worried with nothing that was not of the essence
of his task
; by insisting that he should thoroughly intermit and
break she had so provided for his freedom that she would, as it
were, have only herself to
thank. Strether could not at this point
indeed have completed his thought by the image of what she might
have to thank herself FOR: the image, at best, of his own
likeness-poor Lambert Strether washed up on the sunny strand by
the waves of a single day, poor Lambert Strether thankful for
breathing-time and stiffening himself while he gasped.






She abounded in news of the situation at home, proved to
how
perfectly she was arranging for his absence, told him who
would take up this and who take up that exactly where he had
left it, gave him in fact chapter and verse for the moral that
nothing would
suffer. It filled for him, this tone of hers,
all the air; yet it
struck him at the same time as the hum of
vain things
. This latter effect was what he tried to justify--
and with the success that, grave though the
appearance, he at
last
lighted on a form that was happy. He arrived at it by
the inevitable
recognition of his having been a fortnight before
one of the
weariest of men. If ever a man had come off tired
Lambert Strether was that man; and hadn't it been distinctly on
the ground of his
fatigue that his wonderful friend at home had so
felt for him and so contrived? It seemed to him somehow at these
instants that, could he only
maintain with sufficient firmness his
grasp of that truth, it might become in a manner his compass and
his helm. What he wanted most was some idea that would
simplify,
and nothing would do this so much as the fact that he was done for
and finished. If it had been in such a light that he had just
detected in his cup the dregs of youth, that was a mere flaw of
the surface of his scheme.
He was so distinctly fagged-out that it
must serve precisely as his convenience, and if he could but
consistently be good for little enough he might do everything he
wanted.

Everything he wanted was comprised moreover in a single boon--the
common unattainable art of taking things as they came. He appeared
to himself to have given his best years to
an active appreciation
of the way they didn't come;
but perhaps--as they would seemingly
here be things quite other--this long ache might at last drop to
rest
. He could easily see that from the moment he should accept
the notion of his foredoomed collapse the last thing he would lack
would be reasons and memories
. Oh if he SHOULD do the sum no slate
would hold the figures!
The fact that he had failed, as he
considered, in everything, in each relation and in half a
dozen
trades
, as he liked luxuriously to put it, might have made, might
still make, for
an empty present; but it stood solidly for a
crowded past
. It had not been, so much achievement missed, a light
yoke nor a short load.[sic] It was at present as if
the backward
picture had hung there, the long crooked course, grey in the
shadow of his solitude.
It had been a dreadful cheerful sociable
solitude
, a solitude of life or choice, of community; but though
there had been people enough all round it there had been but three
or four persons IN it. Waymarsh was one of these, and the fact
struck him just now as marking the record. Mrs. Newsome was
another, and Miss Gostrey had of a sudden shown signs of becoming
a third.
Beyond, behind them was the pale figure of his real
youth, which held against its breast the two presences paler than
itself--the young wife he had early lost and the young son he had
stupidly sacrificed
. He had again and again made out for himself
that he might have kept his little boy, his little dull boy who
had
died at school of rapid diphtheria, if he had not in those
years so
insanely given himself to merely missing the mother. It
was the
soreness of his remorse that the child had in all
likelihood not really been
dull--had been dull, as he had been
banished and neglected, mainly because the father had been
unwittingly selfish. This was doubtless but the secret habit of
sorrow, which had slowly given way to time; yet there remained an
ache sharp enough to make the spirit, at the sight now and again
of some fair young man just growing up, wince with the thought of
an opportunity lost. Had ever a man, he had finally fallen into
the way of asking himself, lost so much and even done so much for
so little?
There had been particular reasons why all yesterday,
beyond other days, he should have had in one ear this cold
enquiry
. His name on the green cover, where he had put it for Mrs.
Newsome,
expressed him doubtless just enough to make the world--
the world as distinguished, both for more and for less, from
Woollett--ask who he was
. He had incurred the ridicule of having
to have his explanation explained
. He was Lambert Strether because
he was on the cover, whereas it should have been, for anything
like glory, that he was on the cover because he was Lambert
Strether
. He would have done anything for Mrs. Newsome, have been
still more ridiculous--as he might, for that matter, have occasion
to be yet; which came to saying that this
acceptance of fate was
all he had to show at fifty-five
.

He judged the quantity as small because it WAS small, and all the
more egregiously since it couldn't, as he saw the case, so much as
thinkably have been larger. He hadn't had the gift of making the
most of what he tried, and if he had tried and tried again--no one
but himself knew how often--it appeared to have been that he might
demonstrate what else, in default of that, COULD be made. Old
ghosts of experiments came back to him, old drudgeries and
delusions, and disgusts, old recoveries with their relapses, old
fevers with their chills, broken moments of good faith, others of
still better doubt;
adventures, for the most part, of the sort
qualified as lessons. The special spring that had constantly
played for him the day before was the recognition--frequent enough
to surprise him--of the promises to himself that he had after his
other visit never kept. The reminiscence to-day most quickened for
him was that of the vow taken in the course of the pilgrimage
that, newly-married, with the War just over, and helplessly young
in spite of it, he had recklessly made with the creature who was
so much younger still. It had been a bold dash, for which they had
taken money set apart for necessities, but
kept sacred at the
moment in a hundred ways,
and in none more so than by this private
pledge of his own to treat the occasion as a relation formed with
the higher culture
and see that, as they said at Woollett, it
should bear a good harvest.
He had believed, sailing home again,
that he had gained something great, and his theory--with an
elaborate innocent plan of reading, digesting, coming back even,
every few years--had then been to preserve, cherish and extend it.

As such plans as these had come to nothing, however, in respect to
acquisitions still more precious, it was doubtless little enough
of a marvel
that he should have lost account of that handful of
seed. Buried for long years in dark corners at any rate these few
germs had sprouted again under forty-eight hours of Paris. The
process of yesterday had really been the process of feeling the
general stirred life of connexions long since individually
dropped. Strether had become acquainted even on this ground with
short gusts of speculation--sudden flights of fancy in Louvre
galleries, hungry gazes through clear plates behind which
lemon-coloured volumes were as fresh as fruit on the tree
.

There were instants at which he could ask whether, since there had
been fundamentally so little question of his keeping anything, the
fate after all decreed for him hadn't been only to BE kept. Kept
for something, in that event, that he didn't pretend, didn't
possibly
dare as yet to divine; something that made him hover and
wonder and laugh and sigh, made him advance and retreat, feeling
half ashamed of his impulse to plunge and more than half afraid of
his impulse to
wait. He remembered for instance how he had gone
back in the sixties with lemon-coloured volumes in general on the
brain as well as with a dozen--selected for his wife too--in his
trunk; and nothing had at the moment shown more confidence than
this invocation of the finer taste. They were still somewhere at
home, the dozen--stale and soiled and never sent to the binder;
but what had become of the sharp initiation they represented? They
represented now the mere sallow paint on the door of the temple of
taste that he had dreamed of raising up
--a structure he had
practically never carried further. Strether's present highest
flights were perhaps those in which this particular lapse figured
to him as a symbol, a symbol of his long grind and his want of odd
moments, his want moreover of money, of opportunity, of positive
dignity. That the memory of the vow of his youth should, in order
to throb again,
have had to wait for this last, as he felt it, of
all his accidents--that was surely proof enough of how his
conscience had been
encumbered. If any further proof were needed
it would have been to be found in the fact that, as he perfectly
now saw, he had ceased even to measure his meagreness, a
meagreness that sprawled, in this retrospect, vague and
comprehensive, stretching back like some unmapped Hinterland from
a rough coast-settlement
. His conscience had been amusing itself
for the forty-eight hours by
forbidding him the purchase of a
book; he
held off from that, held off from everything; from the
moment he didn't yet call on Chad he wouldn't for the world have
taken any other step. On this evidence, however, of the way they
actually affected himhe glared at the lemon-coloured covers in
confession of the subconsciousness that, all the same, in the
great desert of the years, he must have had of them. The green
covers at home comprised, by the law of their purpose,
no tribute
to letters; it was of a mere rich kernel of economics, politics,
ethics that, glazed and, as Mrs. Newsome maintained rather against
HIS view, pre-eminently pleasant to touch, they formed the
specious shell
.





Was he to renounce all amusement for the sweet sake of that
authority? and WOULD such renouncement give him for Chad
a
moral glamour? The little problem bristled the more by
reason of poor Strether's fairly open sense of the irony of
things.
Were there then sides on which his predicament threatened
to look rather droll to him? Should he have to pretend to believe--
either to himself or the wretched boy--that there was anything
that could make the latter worse? Wasn't some such pretence on the
other hand involved in the assumption of possible processes that
would make him better? His greatest uneasiness seemed to peep at
him out of the
imminent impression that almost any acceptance of
Paris might give one's authority away.
It hung before him this
morning, the vast bright Babylon, like some huge iridescent
object, a jewel brilliant and hard, in which parts were not to be
discriminated nor differences comfortably marked. It twinkled and
trembled and melted together, and what seemed all surface one
moment seemed all depth the next.
It was a place of which,
unmistakeably, Chad was fond; wherefore if he, Strether, should
like it too much, what on earth, with such a bond, would become of
either of them?





He was now quite out of it, with his "home," as Strether figured
the place, in the Boulevard Malesherbes; which was perhaps why,
repairing, not to fail of justice either, to the elder
neighbourhood, our friend had felt he could allow for the element
of the
usual, the immemorial, without courting perturbation. He
was not at least in danger of seeing the youth and the particular
Person flaunt by together; and yet he was in the very air of
which--just to feel what the early natural note must have been--he
wished most to take counsel. It became at once vivid to him that
he had originally had, for a few days, an almost envious vision of
the boy's
romantic privilege. Melancholy Murger, with Francine and
Musette and Rodolphe, at home, in the company of the tattered,
one--if he not in his single self two or three--of the unbound,
the
paper-covered dozen on the shelf; and when Chad had written,
five years ago, after a sojourn then already prolonged to six
months, that he had decided to go in for economy and the real
thing, Strether's fancy had quite
fondly accompanied him in this
migration, which was to convey him, as they somewhat confusedly
learned at Woollett, across the bridges and up the Montagne
Sainte-Genevieve. This was the region--Chad had been quite
distinct about it--in which the best French, and many other
things, were to be learned at least cost, and in which all sorts
of
clever fellows, compatriots there for a purpose, formed an
awfully pleasant set. The clever fellows, the friendly countrymen
were mainly young painters, sculptors, architects, medical
students; but they were, Chad
sagely opined, a much more
profitable lot to be with--even on the footing of not being quite
one of them--than the "
terrible toughs" (Strether remembered the
edifying discrimination) of the American bars and banks
roundabout the Opera.






The season had been one at which Mrs. Newsome was moved
to
gratitude for small mercies; it had broken on them all as a
blessing that their absentee HAD perhaps a conscience--that he was
sated in fine with idleness, was ambitious of variety.
The
exhibition was doubtless as yet not brilliant, but Strether
himself, even by that time much enlisted and immersed, had
determined, on the part of the two ladies, a temperate approval
and in fact, as he now recollected, a certain austere enthusiasm.

But the very next thing that happened had been a dark drop of the
curtain
. The son and brother had not browsed long on the Montagne
Sainte-Genevieve--his effective little use of the name of which,
like his allusion to the best French,
appeared to have been but
one of the notes of his
rough cunning. The light refreshment of
these
vain appearances had not accordingly carried any of them
very far.
On the other hand it had gained Chad time; it had given
him a chance,
unchecked, to strike his roots, had paved the way
for
initiations more direct and more deep. It was Strether's
belief that he had been comparatively
innocent before this first
migration, and even that the first effects of the migration would
not have been, without some particular bad accident, to have been
deplored. There had been three months--he had sufficiently figured
it out--in which Chad had wanted to try. He HAD tried, though not
very hard--he had had his little hour of good faith. The weakness
of this principle in him was that almost any accident attestedly
bad enough was stronger. Such had at any rate markedly been the
case for the
precipitation of a special series of impressions.
They had proved, successively, these
impressions--all of Musette
and Francine, but Musette and Francine
vulgarised by the larger
evolution of the type--irresistibly sharp: he had "taken up," by
what was at the time to be
shrinkingly gathered, as it was scantly
mentioned, with one ferociously "interested" little person after
another. Strether had read somewhere of a Latin motto, a
description of the hours, observed on a clock by a traveller in
Spain; and he had been led to apply it in thought to Chad's number
one, number two, number three. Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat--they
had all morally wounded, the last had morally killed. The last had
been longest in possession--in possession, that is, of whatever
was left of the poor boy's finer mortality
. And it hadn't been
she, it had been one of her early predecessors, who had determined
the second migration, the expensive return and relapse, the
exchange again, as was fairly to be presumed, of the vaunted best
French for some
special variety of the worst.





He had wanted to put himself in relation, and he would be
hanged if he were NOT in relation. He was that at no moment
so much as while, under the old arches of the Odeon, he
lingered before the charming open-air array of literature
classic and casual. He found the effect of tone and tint,
in the long charged tables and shelves,
delicate and
appetising ;the impression--substituting one kind of low-priced
consommation for another
--might have been that of one of the
pleasant cafes that overlapped, under an awning, to the pavement;
but he edged along, grazing the tables, with his hands firmly
behind him. He wasn't there to dip, to consume--he was there to
reconstruct. He wasn't there for his own profit--not, that is, the
direct;
he was there on some chance of feeling the brush of the
wing of the stray spirit of youth. He felt it in fact, he had it
beside him; the old arcade indeed, as his inner sense listened,
gave out the faint sound, as from far off, of the wild waving of
wings. They were folded now over the breasts of buried generations;
but a flutter or two lived again in the turned page of shock-headed
slouch-hatted loiterers whose young intensity of type, in the direction
of pale acuteness, deepened his vision, and even his appreciation,
of racial differences,
and whose manipulation of the uncut volume was
too often, however, but a listening at closed doors. He
reconstructed
a possible
groping Chad of three or four years before, a Chad who had,
after all, simply--for that was the only way to see it--been too vulgar
for his
privilege. Surely it WAS a privilege to have been young and
happy just there. Well, the best thing Strether knew of him was that
he had had such a dream.





There were points as to which he had quite made up his mind,
and one of these bore precisely on the wisdom of the abruptness
to which events had finally
committed him, a policy that he was
pleased to find not at all shaken as he now looked at his watch
and wondered. He HAD announced himself--six months before; had
written out at least that Chad wasn't to be surprised should
he see him some day turn up. Chad had thereupon, in a few words
of rather carefully colourless answer, offered him a general
welcome; and Strether, ruefully reflecting that he might have
understood the warning as a
hint to hospitality, a bid for an
invitation, had fallen back upon silence as the corrective most to
his own
taste. He had asked Mrs. Newsome moreover not to announce
him again; he had so distinct an opinion on his attacking his job,
should he attack it at all, in his own way. Not the least of this
lady's
high merits for him was that he could absolutely rest on her
word
. She was the only woman he had known, even at Woollett, as to
whom his conviction was positive that to lie was beyond her art.
Sarah Pocock, for instance, her own daughter, though with social
ideals, as they said, in some respects different--Sarah who WAS, in
her way, aesthetic, had never refused to human commerce that
mitigation of rigour;
there were occasions when he had distinctly
seen her
apply it. Since, accordingly, at all events, he had had it
from Mrs. Newsome that she had, at whatever cost to her more
strenuous view, conformed, in the matter of preparing Chad, wholly
to his restrictions, he now looked up at the fine continuous
balcony with a safe sense that if the case had been bungled the
mistake was at least his property.
Was there perhaps just a
suspicion of that in his present pause on the edge of the Boulevard
and well in the
pleasant light?

Many things came over him here, and one of them was that he should
doubtless presently know whether he had been shallow or sharp.
Another was that the balcony in question didn't somehow show as a
convenience
easy to surrender. Poor Strether had at this very
moment to recognise the truth that wherever one paused in Paris the
imagination reacted before one could stop it. This perpetual
reaction put a price, if one would, on pauses; but it piled up
consequences till there was scarce room to pick one's steps among
them.
What call had he, at such a juncture, for example, to like
Chad's very house?
High broad clear--he was expert enough to make
out in a moment that it was
admirably built--it fairly embarrassed
our friend by the quality that, as he would have said, it
"sprang"
on him.
He had struck off the fancy that it might, as a
preliminary, be of service to him to be seen, by a happy accident,
from the third-story windows, which took all the March sun, but of
what service was it to find himself making out after a moment that
the quality "sprung," the quality produced by measure and balance,
the fine relation of part to part and space to space, was probably--
aided by the presence of ornament as positive as it was discreet,
and by the complexion of the stone, a cold fair grey, warmed and
polished a little by life--neither more nor less than a case of
distinction, such a case as he could only feel unexpectedly as a
sort of delivered challenge?
Meanwhile, however, the chance he had
allowed for--the chance of being seen in time from the balcony--had
become a fact. Two or three of the windows stood open to the violet
air; and, before Strether had
cut the knot by crossing, a young man
had come out and
looked about him, had lighted a cigarette and
tossed the match over, and then, resting on the rail, had given
himself up to watching
the life below while he smoked. His arrival
contributed, in its order, to
keeping Strether in position; the
result of which in turn was that Strether soon
felt himself
noticed
. The young man began to look at him as in acknowledgement
of his being himself in
observation.

This was interesting so far as it went, but the interest was
affected by the young man's not being Chad. Strether wondered at
first if he were perhaps Chad altered, and then saw that this was
asking too much of alteration. The young man was light bright and
alert--with an air too pleasant to have been arrived at by
patching
. Strether had conceived Chad as patched, but not beyond
recognition. He was in presence, he felt, of amendments enough as
they stood; it was a sufficient amendment that the gentleman up
there should be Chad's friend. He was young too then, the gentleman
up there--he was very young; young enough apparently to be amused
at an elderly watcher, to be
curious even to see what the elderly
watcher would do on
finding himself watched. There was youth in
that, there was youth in the surrender to the balcony, there was
youth for Strether at this moment in everything but his own
business; and
Chad's thus pronounced association with youth had
given the next instant an extraordinary quick lift to the issue.
The balcony, the distinguished front, testified suddenly, for
Strether's fancy, to something that was up and up; they placed the
whole case materially, and as by an admirable image, on a level
that he found himself at the end of another moment rejoicing to
think he might reach
. The young man looked at him still, he looked
at the young man; and the issue, by a
rapid process, was that this
knowledge of a perched privacy appeared to him the last of
luxuries. To him too the perched privacy was open, and he saw it
now but in one light--that of the only domicile, the only fireside,
in the great ironic city, on which he had the shadow of a claim.

Miss Gostrey had a fireside; she had told him of it, and it was
something that doubtless awaited him
; but Miss Gostrey hadn't yet
arrived--she mightn't arrive for days; and the sole attenuation of
his excluded state
was his vision of the small, the admittedly
secondary hotel in the bye-street from the Rue de la Paix, in which
her
solicitude for his purse had placed him, which affected him
somehow as all
indoor chill, glass-roofed court and slippery
staircase, and which, by the same token,
expressed the presence of
Waymarsh
even at times when Waymarsh might have been certain to be
round at the bank. It came to pass before he moved that Waymarsh,
and Waymarsh alone, Waymarsh not only undiluted but positively
strengthened, struck him as the present alternative to the young
man in the balcony.
When he did move it was fairly to escape that
alternative. Taking his way over the street at last and passing
through the porte-cochere of the house was like consciously leaving
Waymarsh out. However, he would tell him all about it.



               Book 3

I


Strether told Waymarsh all about it that very evening, on their
dining together at the hotel; which needn't have happened, he was
all the while aware, hadn't he chosen to sacrifice to this occasion
a
rarer opportunity. The mention to his companion of the sacrifice
was moreover exactly what introduced his recital--or, as he would
have called it with more confidence in his interlocutor, his
confession. His confession was that he had been captured and that
one of the features of the affair had just failed to be his
engaging himself on the spot to dinner. As by such a freedom
Waymarsh would have lost him he had obeyed his scruple; and he had
likewise obeyed another scruple--which bore on the question of his
himself bringing a guest.

Waymarsh looked gravely ardent, over the finished soup, at this
array of scruples;
Strether hadn't yet got quite used to being so
unprepared for the consequences of the impression he produced.





He waited for his fish, he drank of his wine, he wiped his
long moustache, he
leaned back in his chair, he took in the two
English ladies who had just creaked past them
and whom he would
even have
articulately greeted if they hadn't rather chilled the
impulse
; so that all he could do was--by way of doing something--to
say "Merci, Francois!" out quite loud when his fish was brought.
Everything was there that he
wanted, everything that could make the
moment an occasion, that would
do beautifully--everything but what
Waymarsh might give.
The little waxed salle-a-manger was sallow and
sociable;
Francois, dancing over it, all smiles, was a man and a
brother; the high-shouldered patronne, with her high-held,
much-rubbed hands, seemed always assenting exuberantly to something
unsaid;
the Paris evening in short was, for Strether, in the very
taste of the soup, in the goodness, as he was innocently pleased to
think it, of the wine, in the pleasant coarse texture of the napkin
and the crunch of the thick-crusted bread
.

"But I beat no retreat; I did the opposite; I stayed, I dawdled,
I
trifled; above all I looked round. I saw, in fine; and--
I don't know what to call it--I sniffed. It's a detail, but
it's as if there were something
--something very good--TO sniff."

Waymarsh's face had shown his friend an attention apparently so
remote that the latter was slightly surprised to find it at this
point abreast with him. "Do you mean a smell? What of?"

"A charming scent. But I don't know."

Waymarsh gave an inferential grunt. "Does he live there with a
woman?"

"I don't know."

Waymarsh waited an instant for more, then resumed. "Has he taken
her off with him?"

"And will he bring her back?"--Strether fell into the enquiry. But
he wound it up as before. "I don't know."

The way he wound it up, accompanied as this was with another drop
back, another degustation of the Leoville, another wipe of his
moustache and another good word for Francois
, seemed to produce in
his companion a slight irritation. "Then what the devil DO you
know?"

"Well," said Strether almost gaily, "I guess I don't know anything!"
His gaiety might have been a tribute to the fact that the state he
had been
reduced to did for him again what had been done by his talk
of the matter with Miss Gostrey at the London theatre. It was somehow
enlarging; and the air of that amplitude was now doubtless more or
less--and all for Waymarsh to
feel--in his further response. "That's
what I found out from the young man."
-------------------------------------------------------------




-------------------------------------------------------------
"His account of himself is that he's 'only a little artist-man.'
That seemed to me
perfectly to describe him. But he's yet in the
phase of study; this, you know, is the great art-school--to pass a
certain number of years in which he came over. And he's a great
friend of Chad's, and occupying Chad's rooms just now because
they're so pleasant. HE'S very pleasant and curious too," Strether
added--"though he's not from Boston."

Waymarsh looked already rather sick of him. "Where is he from?"

Strether thought. "I don't know that, either. But he's
'notoriously,' as he put it himself, not from Boston."

"Well," Waymarsh moralised from dry depths, "every one can't
notoriously be from Boston
. Why," he continued, "is he curious?"

"Perhaps just for THAT--for one thing! But really," Strether added,
"for everything. When you meet him you'll see."

"Oh I don't want to meet him," Waymarsh impatiently growled. "Why
don't he go home?"

-------------------------------------------------------------




-------------------------------------------------------------
Waymarsh helped himself to the next course, which, however proving
not the dish he had just
noted as supplied to the English ladies,
had the effect of causing his imagination temporarily to wander.
But it presently broke out at a softer spot. "Have they got a
handsome place up there?"

"Oh a charming place; full of beautiful and valuable things. I
never saw such a place"--and Strether's thought went back to it.
"For a little artist-man--!" He could in fact scarce express it.

But his companion, who appeared now to have a view, insisted.
"Well?"

"Well, life can hold nothing better. Besides, they're things of
which he's in charge."

"So that he does doorkeeper for your precious pair? Can life,"
Waymarsh
enquired, "hold nothing better than THAT?" Then as
Strether, silent, seemed even yet to wonder, "Doesn't he know what
SHE is?" he went on.
-------------------------------------------------------------




-------------------------------------------------------------
Waymarsh presently said: "Look here, Strether. Quit this."

Our friend smiled with a doubt of his own. "Do you mean my tone?"

"No--damn your tone. I mean your nosing round. Quit the whole job.
Let them
stew in their juice. You're being used for a thing you
ain't fit for. People don't take a fine-tooth comb to groom a
horse."

"Am I a fine-tooth comb?" Strether laughed. "It's something I never
called myself!"

"It's what you are, all the same. You ain't so young as you were,
but you've
kept your teeth."

He acknowledged his friend's humour. "Take care I don't get them
into
YOU! You'd like them, my friends at home, Waymarsh," he
declared; "you'd really particularly like them. And I know"--it was
slightly
irrelevant, but he gave it sudden and singular force--"I
know they'd like you!"

"Oh don't
work them off on ME!" Waymarsh groaned.
-------------------------------------------------------------




-------------------------------------------------------------
"Because if you get him you also get Mrs. Newsome?"

Strether faced it. "Yes."

"And if you don't get him you don't get her?"

It might be merciless, but he continued not to flinch. "I think it
might have some effect on our personal understanding. Chad's of
real importance--or can easily become so if he will--to the
business."

"And the business is of real importance to his mother's husband?"

"Well, I naturally want what my future wife wants. And the thing
will be much better if we have our own man in it."
-------------------------------------------------------------




-------------------------------------------------------------
Oh well, Waymarsh seemed to indicate with a shake of his mane, THAT
didn't matter! "You're fierce for the boom anyway."

His friend weighed a moment in silence the justice of the charge.
"I can scarcely be called fierce, I think, when I so freely take my
chance of the possibility, the danger, of being influenced in a
sense
counter to Mrs. Newsome's own feelings."

Waymarsh gave this proposition a long hard look. "I see. You're
afraid yourself of being
squared. But you're a humbug," he added,
all the same."

"Oh!" Strether quickly protested.
-------------------------------------------------------------





He breakfasted with Mr. Bilham on the morrow, and, as
inconsequently befell, with Waymarsh massively of the party. The
latter announced, at the eleventh hour and much to his friend's
surprise, that, damn it, he would as soon join him as do anything
else; on which they proceeded together, strolling in a state of
detachment practically luxurious for them to the Boulevard
Malesherbes, a couple engaged that day with the sharp spell of
Paris as confessedly, it might have been seen, as any couple
among the daily thousands so compromised. They walked, wandered,
wondered and, a little, lost themselves; Strether hadn't had for
years so rich a consciousness of time--a bag of gold into which
he constantly dipped for a handful.
It was present to him that
when the little business with Mr. Bilham should be over he would
still have shining hours to use absolutely as he liked
. There was
no great pulse of haste yet in this process of saving Chad; nor
was that effect a bit more marked as he sat, half an hour later,
with his legs under Chad's mahogany, with Mr. Bilham on one side,
with a friend of Mr. Bilham's on the other, with Waymarsh
stupendously opposite, and with the great hum of Paris coming up
in softness, vagueness--for Strether himself indeed already
positive sweetness--through the sunny windows toward which, the
day before, his curiosity had raised its wings from below. The
feeling strongest with him at that moment had borne fruit almost
faster than he could taste it, and Strether literally felt at the
present hour that there was a precipitation in his fate. He had
known nothing and nobody as he stood in the street; but hadn't
his view now taken a bound in the direction of every one and of
every thing?






The lady on his left, the lady thus promptly and ingeniously
invited to "meet" Mr. Strether and Mr. Waymarsh--it was the
way she herself expressed her case--was a very marked person,
a person who had much to do with our friend's asking himself
if the occasion weren't in its essence the most baited, the
most
gilded of traps. Baited it could properly be called
when the repast was of so wise a savour, and gilded
surrounding objects seemed inevitably to need to be when
Miss Barrace--which was the lady's name--looked at them with
convex Parisian eyes
and through a glass with a remarkably long
tortoise-shell
handle. Why Miss Barrace, mature meagre erect and
eminently gay, highly adorned, perfectly familiar, freely
contradictious
and reminding him of some last-century portrait of
a clever head without powder--why Miss Barrace should have been
in particular the note of a "trap" Strether couldn't on the spot
have
explained; he blinked in the light of a conviction that he
should know later on, and know well--as it came over him, for
that matter, with force, that he should need to.






"Oh your friend's a type, the grand old American--what shall
one call it? The Hebrew prophet, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, who used
when I was a little girl in the Rue Montaigne to come to see
my father and who was usually the American Minister to the
Tuileries
or some other court. I haven't seen one these ever
so many years; the sight of it warms my poor old chilled
heart; this specimen is
wonderful; in the right quarter,
you know, he'll have a succes fou." Strether hadn't failed
to ask what the right quarter might be, much as he required
his presence of mind to
meet such a change in their scheme.
"Oh the artist-quarter and that kind of thing; HERE
already, for instance, as you see." He had been on the point of
echoing "'Here'?--is THIS the artist-quarter?" but she had
already disposed of the question with a wave of all her
tortoise-shell and an
easy "Bring him to ME!" He knew on
the spot how little he should be able to bring him, for
the very air was by this time, to his sense, thick and
hot with poor Waymarsh's judgement of it
. He was in the
trap still more than his companion and, unlike his
companion, not making the best of it; which was
precisely
what
doubtless gave him his admirable sombre glow. Little
did Miss Barrace know that what was behind it was his
grave estimate of her own laxity.





Strether was conscious across the table of what worked in
him,
conscious when they passed back to the small salon to
which, the previous evening, he himself had made so rich
a
reference; conscious most of all as they stepped out to the
balcony in which one would have had to be an ogre not to
recognise the perfect place for easy aftertastes. These things
were
enhanced for Miss Barrace by a succession of excellent
cigarettes--
acknowledged, acclaimed, as a part of the wonderful
supply left behind him by Chad--in an almost equal
absorption of
which Strether found himself
blindly, almost wildly pushing
forward.
He might perish by the sword as well as by famine, and
he knew that his having
abetted the lady by an excess that was
rare with him would
count for little in the sum--as Waymarsh
might so easily
add it up--of her licence. Waymarsh had smoked of
old, smoked hugely
; but Waymarsh did nothing now, and that gave
him his advantage over people who took things up lightly just
when others had laid them heavily down
. Strether had never
smoked, and he felt as if he flaunted at his friend that this had
been only because of a reason. The reason, it now began to appear
even to himself, was that he had never had a lady to smoke with.





The central fact of the place was neither more nor less,
when analysed--and a pressure superficial sufficed--than
the fundamental impropriety of Chad's situation, round
about which they thus seemed
cynically clustered. Accordingly,
since they took it for granted, they took for granted all
that was in connexion with it taken for granted at Woollett--
matters as to which, verily, he had been reduced with
Mrs. Newsome
to the last intensity of silence. That was the
consequence of their being too
bad to be talked about, and was
the accompaniment, by the same token, of a
deep conception of
their
badness. It befell therefore that when poor Strether put it
to himself that their
badness was ultimately, or perhaps even
i
nsolently, what such a scene as the one before him was, so to
speak,
built upon, he could scarce shirk the dilemma of reading a
roundabout echo of them into almost anything that came up
. This,
he was well aware, was a dreadful necessity; but such was the
stern logic, he could only gather, of a relation to the irregular
life.

It was the way the irregular life sat upon Bilham and Miss
Barrace that was the insidious, the delicate marvel.
He was eager
to concede that their relation to it was all indirect, for
anything else in him would have shown the grossness of bad
manners; but the indirectness was none the less consonant--THAT
was striking-with a grateful enjoyment of everything that was
Chad's. They spoke of him repeatedly, invoking his good name and
good nature, and the worst confusion of mind for Strether was
that all their
mention of him was of a kind to do him honour.
They
commended his munificence and approved his taste, and in
doing so
sat down, as it seemed to Strether, in the very soil out
of which these things flowered.
Our friend's final predicament
was that he himself was sitting down, for the time, WITH them,
and there was a supreme moment at which, compared with his
collapse, Waymarsh's erectness affected him as really high. One
thing was certain--he saw he must make up his mind. He must
approach Chad, must wait for him, deal with him, master him, but
he mustn't
dispossess himself of the faculty of seeing things as
they were
. He must bring him to HIM--not go himself, as it were,
so much of the way. He must at any rate be clearer as to what--
should he continue to do that for convenience--he was still
condoning. It was on the detail of this quantity--and what could
the fact be but mystifying?-that Bilham and Miss Barrace threw so
little light. So there they were.



II


When Miss Gostrey arrived, at the end of a week, she made him a
sign; he went immediately to see her, and it wasn't till then
that he could again close his grasp on the idea of a corrective.
This idea however was luckily all before him again from the
moment he crossed the threshold of the little entresol of the
Quartier Marboeuf into which
she had gathered, as she said,
picking them up in a thousand flights and funny little passionate
pounces, the makings of a final nest
. He recognised in an instant
that there really, there only, he should
find the boon with the
vision of which he had first mounted Chad's stairs
. He might have
been a little scared at the picture of how much more, in this
place, he should know himself "in" hadn't his friend been on the
spot to measure the amount to his appetite. Her compact and
crowded little chambers, almost dusky, as they at first struck
him, with accumulations,
represented a supreme general adjustment
to opportunities and conditions. Wherever he looked he saw an old
ivory or an old brocade, and he
scarce knew where to sit for fear
of a
misappliance. The life of the occupant struck him of a
sudden as more
charged with possession even than Chad's or than
Miss Barrace's;
wide as his glimpse had lately become of the
empire of "things," what was before him still enlarged it; the
lust of the eyes and the pride of life had indeed thus their
temple. It was the innermost nook of the shrine--as brown as a
pirate's cave. In the brownness were glints of gold; patches of
purple were in the gloom; objects all that caught, through the
muslin, with their high rarity, the light of the low windows.

Nothing was clear about them but that they were precious, and
they brushed his ignorance with their contempt as a flower, in a
liberty taken with him, might have been whisked under his nose
.
But after a full look at his hostess he knew none the less what
most concerned him. The circle in which they stood together was
warm with life, and every question between them would live there
as nowhere else.
A question came up as soon as they had spoken,
for his answer, with a laugh, was quickly: "Well, they've got
hold of me!" Much of their talk on this first occasion was his
development of that truth. He was extraordinarily glad to see
her,
expressing to her frankly what she most showed him, that one
might live for years without a
blessing unsuspected, but that to
know it at last for no more than three days was to need it or
miss it for ever.She was the blessing that had now become his
need, and what could
prove it better than that without her he had
lost himself?





-------------------------------------------------------------
"Isn't there any one WITH him then?"

"Of the sort I came out about?" Strether took a moment. "How do I
know? And what do I care?"

"Oh oh!"--and her laughter spread. He was struck in fact by the
effect on her of his joke
. He saw now how he meant it as a joke.
SHE saw, however, still other things, though in an instant she
had hidden them. "You've got at no facts at all?"

He tried to muster them. "Well, he has a lovely home."

"Ah that, in Paris," she quickly returned, "proves nothing. That
is rather it DISproves nothing. They may very well, you see, the
people your mission is concerned with, have done it FOR him."

"Exactly. And it was on the scene of their doings then that
Waymarsh and I sat guzzling."

"Oh if you forbore to guzzle here on scenes of doings," she
replied, "you might easily die of starvation."
With which she
smiled at him. "You've worse before you."

"Ah I've EVERYTHING before me. But on our hypothesis, you know,
they must be wonderful."

"They ARE!" said Miss Gostrey. "You're not therefore, you see,"
she added, "wholly without facts. They've BEEN, in effect,
wonderful."

To have got at something comparatively definite appeared at last a
little to help--a wave by which moreover, the next moment,
recollection was washed.
-------------------------------------------------------------




-------------------------------------------------------------
"But it is all the same as if they wished to let me have it
between the eyes
."

She wondered. "Quoi donc?"

"Why what I speak of. The amenity. They can stun you with that as
well as with anything else."

"Oh," she answered, "you'll come round! I must see them each," she
went on, "for myself. I mean Mr. Bilham and Mr. Newsome--Mr.
Bilham naturally first. Once only--once for each; that will do.
But face to face--for half an hour. What's Mr. Chad," she
immediately pursued, "doing at Cannes? Decent men don't go to
Cannes
with the--well, with the kind of ladies you mean."

"Don't they?" Strether asked with an interest in decent men that
amused her.
-------------------------------------------------------------




-------------------------------------------------------------
The meeting with little Bilham took place, by easy arrangement,
in the great gallery of the Louvre; and when, standing with his
fellow visitor before one of the splendid Titians--the
overwhelming portrait of the young man with the strangely-
shaped glove and the blue-grey eyes--he turned to see the
third member of their party advance from the end of the
waxed and gilded vista, he had a sense of having at last
taken hold. He had agreed with Miss Gostrey--it dated even from
Chester--for a morning at the Louvre, and he had embraced
independently
the same idea as thrown out by little Bilham, whom
he had already
accompanied to the museum of the Luxembourg. The
fusion of these schemes presented no difficulty, and it was to
strike him again thatin little Bilham's company contrarieties in
general dropped
.

"Oh he's all right--he's one of US!" Miss Gostrey, after the first
exchange, soon found a chance to murmur to her companion; and
Strether, as they
proceeded and paused and while a quick unanimity
between the two appeared to have
phrased itself in half a dozen
remarks--Strether knew that he knew almost immediately what she
meant, and took it as still another sign that he had
got his job
in hand. This was the more grateful to him that he could think of
the intelligence now
serving him as an acquisition positively new.
He wouldn't have known even the day before what she meant--that
is if she meant, what he
assumed, that they were intense Americans
together.
He had just worked round--and with a sharper turn of the
screw than any yet--to the conception of an American intense as
little Bilham was intense
. The young man was his first specimen;
the specimen had
profoundly perplexed him; at present however
there was light. It was by little Bilham's
amazing serenity that
he had at first been
affected, but he had inevitably, in his
circumspection, felt it as the trail of the serpent, the
corruption, as he might conveniently have said, of Europe; whereas
the
promptness with which it came up for Miss Gostrey but as a
special little form of the oldest thing they knew justified it at
once to his own vision as well.






The amiable youth then looked out, as it had first struck
Strether, at a world in respect to which he hadn't a prejudice.
The one our friend most instantly missed was the usual one in
favour of an occupation
accepted. Little Bilham had an occupation,
but it was only an occupation
declined; and it was by his general
exemption from alarm, anxiety or remorse on this score that the
impression of his serenity was made. He had come out to Paris to
paint--to fathom, that is, at large, that mystery; but study had
been fatal to him so far as anything COULD be fatal
, and his
productive power faltered in proportion as his knowledge grew.
Strether had gathered from him that at the moment of his finding
him in Chad's rooms he hadn't saved from his shipwreck a scrap of
anything but his beautiful intelligence and his confirmed habit of
Paris.
He referred to these things with an equal fond familiarity,
and it was sufficiently clear that, as an outfit, they still
served him. They were charming to Strether through the hour spent
at the Louvre, where indeed they figured for him as an unseparated
part of the charged iridescent air, the glamour of the name, the
splendour of the space, the colour of the masters.
Yet they were
present too wherever the young man led, and the day after the
visit to the Louvre they hung, in a different walk, about the
steps of our party
. He had invited his companions to cross the
river with him, offering to show them his own poor place; and his
own poor place, which was very poor, gave to his idiosyncrasies,
for Strether--the small sublime indifferences and independences
that had struck the latter as fresh--an odd and engaging dignity
.
He lived at the end of an alley that went out of an old short
cobbled street, a street that went in turn out of a new long
smooth
avenue--street and avenue and alley having, however, in
common a sort of social shabbiness; and he introduced them to the
rather
cold and blank little studio which he had lent to a comrade
for the term of his elegant absence
. The comrade was another
ingenuous compatriot, to whom he had wired that tea was to await
them "regardless," and this reckless repast, and the second
ingenuous compatriot, and the faraway makeshift life, with its
jokes and its gaps, its delicate daubs and its three or four
chairs, its overflow of taste and conviction and its lack of
nearly all else--these things wove round the occasion a spell to
which our hero unreservedly surrendered
.

He liked the ingenuous compatriots--for two or three others soon
gathered; he liked the delicate daubs and the free
discriminations
--involving references indeed, involving
enthusiasms and execrations that made him, as they said, sit up;
he liked above all
the legend of good-humoured poverty, of mutual
accommodation fairly raised to the romantic, that he soon read
into the scene. The
ingenuous compatriots showed a candour, he
thought,
surpassing even the candour of Woollett; they were
red-haired and long-legged, they were quaint and queer and dear
and droll; they made the place resound with the vernacular, which
he had never known so marked as when figuring for the chosen
language, he must suppose, of contemporary art. They twanged with
a vengeance the aesthetic lyre--they drew from it wonderful airs.

This aspect of their life had an admirable innocence; and he
looked on occasion at Maria Gostrey to see to what extent that
element
reached her. She gave him however for the hour, as she had
given him the previous day, no further sign than to show how she
dealt with boys; meeting them with the air of old Parisian
practice
that she had for every one, for everything, in turn.
Wonderful about the delicate daubs, masterful about the way to
make tea, trustful about the legs of chairs and familiarly
reminiscent of those, in the other time, the named, the numbered
or the caricatured, who had flourished or failed, disappeared or
arrived, she had accepted with the best grace her second course of
little Bilham,






He endeavoured even now to keep it a little straight by
arranging that if he accepted her invitation she should
dine with him first; but the upshot of this scruple was
that at eight o'clock on the morrow he
awaited her with Waymarsh
under the
pillared portico. She hadn't dined with him, and it was
characteristic of their relation that she had made him embrace her
refusal without in the least understanding it. She ever caused her
rearrangements to affect him as her tenderest touches. It was on
that principle for instance that, giving him the opportunity to be
amiable again to little Bilham, she had suggested his offering the
young man a seat in their box.





"He either won't have got your note," she said, "or you
won't have got his: he has had some kind of hindrance,
and, of course, for that matter, you know, a man never writes
about coming to a box." She spoke as if, with her look, it might
have been Waymarsh who had written to the youth, and the latter's
face showed a
mixture of austerity and anguish. She went on
however as if to meet this. "He's far and away, you know, the best
of them."

"The best of whom, ma'am?"

"Why of all the long procession--the boys, the girls, or the old
men and old women as they sometimes really are; the hope, as one
may say, of our country. They've all passed, year after year; but
there has been no one in
particular I've ever wanted to stop. I
feel--don't YOU?--that I want to stop little Bilham; he's so
exactly right as he is." She continued to talk to Waymarsh. "He's
too delightful. If he'll only not spoil it! But they always WILL;
they always do; they always have."


"I don't think Waymarsh knows," Strether said after a moment,
"quite what it's open to Bilham to
spoil."

"It can't be a good American," Waymarsh
lucidly enough replied;
"for it didn't
strike me the young man had developed much in THAT
shape."


"Ah," Miss Gostrey sighed, "the name of the good American is as
easily
given as taken away! What IS it, to begin with, to BE one,
and what's the extraordinary
hurry? Surely nothing that's so
pressing was ever so little defined. It's such an order, really,
that before we cook you the dish we must at least have your
receipt. Besides the poor chicks have time! What I've seen so
often
spoiled," she pursued, "is the happy attitude itself, the
state of
faith and--what shall I call it?--the sense of beauty.
You're right about him"--she now took in Strether; "little Bilham
has them to a charm, we must keep little Bilham along." Then she
was all again for Waymarsh. "The others have all wanted so
dreadfully to do something, and they've gone and done it in too
many cases indeed. It leaves them never the same afterwards; the
charm's always somehow broken. Now HE, I think, you know, really
won't. He won't do the
least dreadful little thing. We shall
continue to enjoy him just as he is. No--he's quite beautiful. He
sees everything. He isn't a bit
ashamed. He has every scrap of
the
courage of it that one could ask. Only think what he MIGHT do.
One wants really--for fear of some accident--to keep him in view.
At this very moment perhaps what mayn't he be up to? I've had my
disappointments--the poor things are never really safe; or only at
least when you have them under your eye. One can never completely
trust them. One's uneasy, and I think that's why I most miss him
now."

She had wound up with a laugh of enjoyment over her embroidery of
her idea--an
enjoyment that her face communicated to Strether, who
almost
wished none the less at this moment that she would let poor
Waymarsh alone. HE knew more or less what she meant; but the fact
wasn't a reason for her not
pretending to Waymarsh that he
didn't. It was
craven of him perhaps, but he would, for the high
amenity
of the occasion, have liked Waymarsh not to be so sure of
his wit
. Her recognition of it gave him away and, before she had
done with him or with that article, would give him worse. What was
he, all the same, to do? He looked across the box at his friend;
their eyes met; something
queer and stiff, something that bore on
the situation but that it was better not to
touch, passed in
silence between them. Well, the effect of it for Strether was an
abrupt reaction, a final impatience of his own tendency to
temporise. Where was that taking him anyway? It was one of the
quiet instants that sometimes settle more matters than the
outbreaks dear to the
historic muse. The only qualification of the
quietness was the synthetic "Oh hang it!" into which Strether's
share of the silence soundlessly flowered
. It represented, this
mute ejaculation, a final impulse to burn his ships. These ships,
to the
historic muse, may seem of course mere cockles, but when he
presently spoke to Miss Gostrey it was with the sense at least of
applying the torch.




--------------------------------------------------------------

"Between the two young men? Well, I don't pretend to be a seer or
a prophetess
," she presently replied; "but if I'm simply a woman
of
sense he's working for you to-night. I don't quite know how--
but it's in my bones." And she looked at him at last as if, little
material as she yet gave him, he'd really understand. "For an
opinion THAT'S my opinion. He makes you out too well not to."

"Not to work for me to-night?" Strether wondered. "Then I hope he
isn't doing anything very bad."

"They've got you," she portentously answered.

"Do you mean he IS--?"

"They've got you," she merely repeated. Though she disclaimed the
prophetic vision she was at this instant the nearest approach he
had ever met to the priestess of the oracle. The light was in her
eyes. "You must face it now.
"

He faced it on the spot. "They HAD arranged--?"

"Every move in the game. And they've been arranging ever since. He
has had every day his little telegram from Cannes."

It made Strether open his eyes. "Do you KNOW that?"

"I do better. I see it. This was, before I met him, what I
wondered whether I WAS to see. But as soon as I met him I ceased
to wonder,
and our second meeting made me sure. I took him all in.
He was acting--he is still--on his daily instructions."

"So that Chad has done the whole thing?"

"Oh no--not the whole. WE'VE done some of it. You and I and
'Europe.'
"

"Europe--yes," Strether mused.

"Dear old Paris," she seemed to explain. But there was more, and,
with one of her
turns, she risked it. "And dear old Waymarsh.
You," she
declared, "have been a good bit of it."

He sat massive. "A good bit of what, ma'am?"

"Why of the wonderful
consciousness of our friend here. You've
helped too in your way to
float him to where he is."

"And where the devil IS he?"


--------------------------------------------------------------


Our friend was to go over it afterwards again and again--he was
going over it much of the time that they were together, and they
were together constantly for three or four days: the note had been
so strongly struck during that first half-hour that everything
happening since was comparatively a minor development. The fact
was that his
perception of the young man's identity--so absolutely
checked for a minute--had been quite one of the sensations that
count in life; he certainly had never known one that had acted, as
he might have said, with more of a crowded
rush. And the rush
though both
vague and multitudinous, had lasted a long time,
protected, as it were, yet at the same time aggravated, by the
circumstance of its
coinciding with a stretch of decorous silence.
They couldn't talk without
disturbing the spectators in the part
of the balcony just below them; and it, for that matter, came to
Strether--being a thing of the sort that did come to him--that
these were the accidents of a
high civilisation; the imposed
tribute to
propriety, the frequent exposure to conditions, usually
brilliant, in which relief has to await its time.




The phenomenon that had suddenly sat down there with him was
a phenomenon of
change so complete that his imagination,
which had
worked so beforehand, felt itself, in the connexion,
without margin or
allowance. It had faced every contingency
but that Chad should not BE Chad, and this was what it now
had to face with a mere
strained smile and an uncomfortable
flush.

He asked himself if, by any chance, before he should have in some
way to
commit himself, he might feel his mind settled to the new
vision, might
habituate it, so to speak, to the remarkable truth.
But oh it was too
remarkable, the truth; for what could be more
remarkable than this sharp rupture of an identity? You could deal
with a man as himself--you couldn't
deal with him as somebody
else. It was a
small source of peace moreover to be reduced to
wondering how little he might know in such an event what a sum he
was setting you
. He couldn't absolutely not know, for you couldn't
absolutely not let him. It was a CASE then simply, a strong
case, as people nowadays called such things,' a case of
transformation unsurpassed, and the hope was but in the general
law that strong cases were liable to control from without. Perhaps
he, Strether himself, was the only person after all
aware of it.
Even Miss Gostrey, with all her science, wouldn't be, would she?
--and he had never seen any one less aware of anything than
Waymarsh as he
glowered at Chad. The social sightlessness of his
old friend's
survey marked for him afresh, and almost in an
humiliating way, the inevitable limits of direct aid from this
source. He was not certain, however, of not
drawing a shade of
compensation from the privilege, as yet untasted, of knowing more
about something in particular than Miss Gostrey did.
His situation
too was a case, for that matter, and he was now so interested,
quite so privately agog, about it, that he had already an eye to
the fun it would be to open up to her afterwards. He derived
during his half-hour no assistance from her, and just this fact of
her not meeting his eyes played a little, it must be confessed,
into his predicament.

He had introduced Chad, in the first minutes, under his breath,
and there was never the primness in her of the person
unacquainted; but she had none the less betrayed at first no
vision but of the stage, where she occasionally found a pretext
for an
appreciative moment that she invited Waymarsh to share. The
latter's faculty of
participation had never had, all round, such
an
assault to meet; the pressure on him being the sharper for this
chosen attitude in her, as Strether judged it, of isolating, for
their
natural intercourse, Chad and himself. This intercourse was
meanwhile
restricted to a frank friendly look from the young man,
something
markedly like a smile, but falling far short of a grin,
and to the
vivacity of Strether's private speculation as to
whether HE carried himself like a fool.






He was modestly benevolent, the boy--that was at least what he
had been capable of the superiority of making out his chance to
be; and one had one's self literally not had the gumption to
get in ahead of him
. If we should go into all that occupied
our friend in the watches of the night we should have to mend
our pen
; but an instance or two may mark for us the vividness
with which he could remember. He remembered the two absurdities
that, if his presence of mind HAD failed, were the things that
had had most to do with it. He had never in his life seen a
young man come into a box at ten o'clock at night, and would,
if
challenged on the question in advance, have scarce been
ready to
pronounce as to different ways of doing so. But it
was in spite of this
definite to him that Chad had had a way
that was
wonderful: a fact carrying with it an implication
that, as one might
imagine it, he knew, he had learned, how.

Here already then were abounding results; he had on the spot and
without the least trouble of intention taught Strether that even
in so small a thing as that there were different ways. He had
done in the same line still more than this; had by a mere shake or
two of the head made his old friend observe that the change in him
was perhaps more than anything else, for the eye, a matter of the
marked streaks of grey, extraordinary at his age, in his thick
black
hair; as well as that this new feature was curiously
becoming to him, did something for him, as
characterisation, also
even--of all things in the world--as
refinement, that had been a
good deal wanted. Strether felt, however, he would have had to
confess, that it wouldn't have been easy just now, on this and
other counts, in the presence of what had been
supplied, to be
quite
clear as to what had been missed. A reflexion a candid
critic might have made of old, for instance, was that it would
have been
happier for the son to look more like the mother; but
this was a
reflexion that at present would never occur. The ground
had quite fallen away from it, yet no resemblance whatever to the
mother had supervened. It would have been hard for a young man's
face and air to disconnect themselves more completely than Chad's
at this juncture from any discerned, from any imaginable aspect of
a New England female parent.
That of course was no more than had
been on the cards; but it produced in Strether none the less one
of those frequent phenomena of mental reference with which all
judgement in him was actually beset.

Again and again as the days passed he had had a sense of the
pertinence of communicating quickly with Woollett--communicating
with a
quickness with which telegraphy alone would rhyme; the
fruit really of a
fine fancy in him for keeping things straight,
for the
happy forestalment of error. No one could explain better
when
needful, nor put more conscience into an account or a report;
which
burden of conscience is perhaps exactly the reason why his
heart always sank when the clouds of explanation gathered. His
highest ingenuity was in keeping the sky of life clear of them
.
Whether or no he had a grand idea of the lucid, he held that nothing
ever was in fact--for any one else--
explained. One went through
the
vain motions, but it was mostly a waste of life. A personal
relation was a relation only so long as people either
perfectly
understood or, better still, didn't care if they didn't. From
the moment they cared if they didn't it was living by the sweat
of one's brow; and the sweat of one's brow was just what one
might buy one's self off from by keeping the ground free of the
wild weed of delusion. It easily grew too fast, and the Atlantic
cable now alone could race with it.






If he might do so more luminously and cheaply he would tick out
in four words: "
Awfully old--grey hair." To this particular
item in Chad's appearance he constantly, during their mute
half-hour,
reverted; as if so very much more than he could
have said had been
involved in it. The most he could have
said would have been: "If he's going to make me feel young--!"
which indeed, however, carried with it quite enough. If Strether
was to
feel young, that is, it would be because Chad was to feel
old; and an
aged and hoary sinner had been no part of the scheme.





Chad opposite to him at a small table in the brilliant halls
that his companion
straightway selected, sharply and easily
discriminated from others, it was quite, to his mind, as if
she heard him speak; as if, sitting up, a mile away, in the
little apartment he knew, she would listen hard enough to
catch. He found too that he liked that idea, and he wished
that, by the same token, Mrs. Newsome might have caught as
well. For what had above all been determined in him as a necessity
of the first order was not to
lose another hour, nor a fraction of
one; was to
advance, to overwhelm, with a rush. This was how he
would
anticipate--by a night-attack, as might be--any forced
maturity that a crammed consciousness of Paris was likely to take
upon itself to assert on behalf of the boy.
He knew to the full,
on what he had just
extracted from Miss Gostrey, Chad's marks of
alertness; but they were a reason the more for not dawdling. If he
was himself moreover to be treated as young he wouldn't at all
events be so treated before he should have struck out at least
once. His arms might be pinioned afterwards, but it would have
been left on record that he was fifty. The importance of this he
had indeed begun to feel before they left the theatre; it had
become a wild unrest, urging him to seize his chance. He could
scarcely wait for it as they went; he was on the verge of the
indecency of bringing up the question in the street; he fairly
caught
himself going on--so he afterwards invidiously named it--as
if there would be for him no second chance should the present be
lost. Not till, on the purple divan before the perfunctory bock,
he had brought out the words themselves, was he sure, for that
matter, that the present would be
saved.



               Book 4


I


"I've come, you know, to make you break with everything, neither
more nor less, and take you
straight home; so you'll be so good as
immediately and favourably to consider it!"--Strether, face to
face with Chad after the play, had
sounded these words almost
breathlessly, and with an effect at first positively disconcerting
to himself alone. For Chad's
receptive attitude was that of a
person who had been
gracefully quiet while the messenger at last
reaching him has run a mile through the dust. During some seconds
after he had spoken Strether felt as if HE had made some such
exertion; he was not even certain that the perspiration wasn't on
his brow. It was the kind of
consciousness for which he had to
thank the look that, while the
strain lasted, the young man's eyes
gave him. They reflected--and the deuce of the thing was that they
reflected really with a sort of shyness of kindness--his
momentarily disordered state; which fact brought on in its turn
for our friend the
dawn of a fear that Chad might simply "take it
out"--take everything out--in being
sorry for him. Such a fear,
any
fear, was unpleasant. But everything was unpleasant; it was
odd how everything had suddenly turned so.
This however was no
reason for letting the least thing go. Strether had the next
minute proceeded as roundly as if with an advantage to follow up.
"Of course I'm a busybody, if you want to fight the case to the
death; but after all mainly in the sense of having known you and
having given you such attention as you kindly permitted when you
were in jackets and knickerbockers. Yes--it was knickerbockers,
I'm busybody enough to remember that; and that you had, for your
age--I speak of the first far-away time--tremendously stout legs.
Well, we want you to
break. Your mother's heart's passionately set
upon it, but she has above and beyond that
excellent arguments and
reasons. I've not put them into her head--I needn't remind you how
little she's a person who needs that. But they
exist--you must
take it from me as a friend both of hers and yours--for myself as
well. I didn't
invent them, I didn't originally work them out; but
I understand them, I think I can
explain them--by which I mean
make you
actively do them justice; and that's why you see me here.
You had better know the worst at once. It's a question of an
immediate rupture and an immediate return. I've been conceited
enough to dream I can sugar that pill. I take at any rate the
greatest interest in the question. I took it already before I left
home, and I don't mind telling you that, altered as you are, I
take it still more now that I've seen you. You're older and--I
don't know what to call it!--more of a
handful; but you're by so
much the more, I seem to make out, to our purpose."

"Do I strike you as
improved?" Strether was to recall that Chad
had at this point
enquired.

-------------------------------------------------------------


Not only his moral, but also, as it were, his aesthetic sense
had a little to
pay for this, Chad being unmistakeably--and
wasn't it a matter of the
confounded grey hair again?--
handsomer than he had ever promised. That however fell in
perfectly with what Strether had said. They had no desire to keep
down his
proper expansion, and he wouldn't be less to their
purpose for not looking, as he had too often done of old, only
bold and wild. There was indeed a signal particular in which he
would
distinctly be more so. Strether didn't, as he talked,
absolutely
follow himself; he only knew he was clutching his
thread and that he held it from moment to moment a little
tighter;
his mere
uninterruptedness during the few minutes helped him to do
that.
He had frequently for a month, turned over what he should
say on this very occasion, and he seemed at last to have said
nothing he had thought of--everything was so totally different.

But in spite of all he had put the flag at the window. This was
what he had done, and there was a minute during which he
affected
himself as having
shaken it hard, flapped it with a mighty
flutter
, straight in front of his companion's nose. It gave him
really almost the sense of having already acted his part. The
momentary relief--as if from the knowledge that nothing of THAT
at least could be
undone--sprang from a particular cause, the
cause that had flashed into operation, in Miss Gostrey's box, with
direct apprehension, with amazed recognition, and that had been
concerned since then in every
throb of his consciousness. What it
came to was that with an
absolutely new quantity to deal with one
simply couldn't know. The new quantity was
represented by the fact
that Chad had been
made over. That was all; whatever it was it was
everything. Strether had never
seen the thing so done before--it
was perhaps a
speciality of Paris.





-------------------------------------------------------------

"Your engagement to my mother has become then what they
call here a fait accompli?"--it had consisted, the determinant
touch, in nothing more than that.

Well, that was enough, Strether had felt while his answer hung
fire
. He had felt at the same time, however, that nothing could
less become him than that it should hang fire too long. "Yes," he
said brightly, "it was on the happy settlement of the question
that I started. You see therefore to what tune I'm in your family.
Moreover," he added, "I've been supposing you'd suppose it."

"Oh I've been supposing it for a long time, and what you tell me
helps me to understand that you should want to do something. To do
something, I mean," said Chad, "to
commemorate an event so--what
do they call it?--so
auspicious. I see you make out, and not
unnaturally," he continued, "that bringing me home in triumph as a
sort of wedding-present to Mother would
commemorate it better than
anything else
. You want to make a bonfire in fact," he laughed,
"and you pitch me on. Thank you, thank you!" he laughed again.


He was altogether easy about it, and this made Strether now see
how at bottom, and in spite of the shade of
shyness that really
cost him nothing, he had from the first moment been easy about
everything. The shade of
shyness was mere good taste. People with
manners
formed could apparently have, as one of their best cards,
the shade of
shyness too. He had leaned a little forward to speak;
his elbows were on the table; and the
inscrutable new face that he
had got somewhere and somehow was
brought by the movement nearer
to his critics There was a
fascination for that critic in its not
being, this
ripe physiognomy, the face that, under observation at
least, he had originally
carried away from Woollett. Strether
found a certain
freedom on his own side in defining it as that of
a man of the world--a formula that indeed seemed to come now in
some degree to his
relief; that of a man to whom things had
happened and were variously known
. In gleams, in glances, the past
did perhaps peep out of it; but such lights were faint and
instantly merged. Chad was brown and thick and strong, and of old
Chad had been rough. Was all the difference therefore that he was
actually smooth? Possibly; for that he WAS smooth was as marked as
in the taste of a sauce or in the rub of a hand. The effect of it
was general--it had retouched his features, drawn them with a
cleaner line. It had cleared his eyes and settled his colour and
polished his fine square teeth--the main ornament of his face; and
at the same time that it had given him a form and a surface,
almost a design, it had toned his voice, established his accent,
encouraged his smile to more play and his other motions to less.
He had formerly, with a great deal of action, expressed very
little; and he now expressed whatever was necessary with almost
none at all. It was as if in short he had really, copious perhaps
but shapeless, been put into a firm mould and turned successfully
out. The phenomenon--Strether kept eyeing it as a phenomenon, an
eminent case--was marked enough to be touched by the finger.





Chad again fell back at this and, his hands pocketed, settled
himself a little; in which posture he looked, though he rather
anxiously smiled, only the more earnest. Then Strether seemed to
see that he was really
nervous, and he took that as what he would
have called a
wholesome sign. The only mark of it hitherto had
been his more than once taking off and putting on his
wide-brimmed
crush hat. He had at this moment made the motion again to
remove
it, then had only
pushed it back, so that it hung informally on
his strong young
grizzled crop. It was a touch that gave the note
of the
familiar--the intimate and the belated--to their quiet
colloquy; and it was indeed by some such trivial aid that Strether
became aware at the same moment of something else. The observation
was at any rate determined in him by some light too fine to
distinguish from so many others, but it was none the less sharply
determined. Chad
looked unmistakeably during these instants--
well, as Strether put it to himself,
all he was worth. Our friend
had a
sudden apprehension of what that would on certain sides be.
He saw him in a
flash as the young man marked out by women; and
for a
concentrated minute the dignity, the comparative austerity,
as he
funnily fancied it, of this character affected him almost
with
awe. There was an experience on his interlocutor's part that
looked out at him from under the
displaced hat, and that looked
out moreover by a force of its own, the
deep fact of its quantity
and quality, and not through Chad's
intending bravado or swagger.
That was then the way men marked out by women WERE--and also the
men by whom the women were doubtless in turn sufficiently
distinguished. It affected Strether for thirty seconds as a
relevant truth, a truth which, however, the next minute, had
fallen into its relation. "Can't you imagine there being some
questions," Chad asked, "that a fellow--however much impressed by
your charming way of stating things--would like to put to you
first?"

"Oh yes--easily. I'm here to answer everything. I think I can even
tell you things, of the greatest
interest to you, that you won't
know enough to ask me. We'll take as many days to it as you like.
But I want," Strether
wound up, "to go to bed now."

"Really?"

Chad had spoken in such
surprise that he was amused. "Can't you
believe it?--with what you put me through?"

The young man seemed to
consider. "Oh I haven't put you through
much--yet."

"Do you mean there's so much more to
come?" Strether laughed. "All
the more reason then that I should
gird myself." And as if to mark
what he felt he could by this time count on he was already on his
feet.

Chad, still
seated, stayed him, with a hand against him, as he
passed between their table and the next. "Oh we shall get on!"

The tone was, as who should say, everything Strether could have
desired; and quite as good the expression of face with which the
speaker had
looked up at him and kindly held him. All these things
lacked was their not showing quite so much as the fruit of
experience. Yes, experience was what Chad did play on him, if he
didn't play any
grossness of defiance. Of course experience was in
a manner defiance; but it wasn't, at any rate--rather indeed quite
the contrary!--
grossness; which was so much gained. He fairly grew
older, Strether thought, while he himself so reasoned.



-------------------------------------------------------------

There were people, expressive sound, projected light, still
abroad, and after they had taken in for a moment, through
everything, the
great clear architectural street, they
turned off in
tacit union to the quarter of Strether's hotel.
"Of course," Chad here abruptly began, "of course Mother's
making things out with you about me has been natural--and
of course also you've had a good deal to go upon. Still,
you must have filled out."

He had stopped, leaving his friend to wonder a little what point
he wished to make; and this it was that enabled Strether meanwhile
to make one. "Oh we've never pretended to go into detail. We
weren't in the least
bound to THAT. It was 'filling out' enough to
miss you as we did."

But Chad rather
oddly insisted, though under the high lamp at
their corner, where they
paused, he had at first looked as if
touched by Strether's allusion to the long sense, at home, of his
absence. "What I mean is you must have
imagined."

"Imagined what?"

"Well--horrors."

It affected Strether: horrors were so little--superficially at
least--in this robust and reasoning image. But he was none the
less there to be veracious. "Yes, I dare say we HAVE imagined
horrors
. But where's the harm if we haven't been wrong?"

Chad raised his face to the lamp, and it was one of the moments at
which he had, in his extraordinary way, most his air of designedly
showing himself. It was as if at these instants he just presented
himself, his identity so rounded off, his palpable presence and
his massive young manhood, as such a link in the chain as might
practically amount to a kind of demonstration.
It was as if--and
how but anomalously?--he couldn't after all help thinking
sufficiently well of these things to let them go for what they
were worth. What could there be in this for Strether but the hint
of some self-respect, some sense of power, oddly perverted;
something latent and beyond access, ominous and perhaps enviable
?
The intimation had the next thing, in a flash, taken on a name--a
name on which our friend
seized as he asked himself if he weren't
perhaps really
dealing with an irreducible young Pagan. This
description--he quite jumped at it--had a sound that gratified his
mental ear, so that of a sudden he had already adopted it. Pagan--
yes, that was, wasn't it? what Chad WOULD
logically be. It was
what he must be. It was what he was. The idea was a clue and,
instead of
darkening the prospect, projected a certain clearness.
Strether made out in this quick ray that a Pagan was perhaps, at
the pass they had come to, the thing most wanted at Woollett.
They'd be able to do with one
--a good one; he'd find an opening--
yes; and
Strether's imagination even now prefigured and
accompanied the first appearance there of the rousing personage
.
He had only the slight discomfort of feeling, as the young man
turned away from the lamp, that his thought had in the momentary
silence
possibly been guessed. "Well, I've no doubt," said Chad,
"you've come near enough. The details, as you say, don't matter.
It HAS been generally the case that I've let myself go. But I'm
coming round--I'm not so bad now." With which they walked on again
to Strether's hotel.

"Do you mean," the latter asked as they approached the door, "that
there isn't any woman with you now?"

"But pray what has that to do with it?"

"Why it's the
whole question."

"Of my going home?" Chad was clearly surprised. "Oh not much! Do
you think that when I want to go any one will have any power--"

"To keep you"--Strether took him straight up--"from carrying out
your wish?
Well, our idea has been that somebody has hitherto--or
a good many persons perhaps--kept you pretty well from 'wanting.'
That's what--if you're in anybody's hands--may again happen. You
don't answer my question"--he kept it up; "but if you aren't in
anybody's hands so much the better. There's nothing then but what
makes for your going."

-------------------------------------------------------------

"Don't you know how I like Paris itself?"

The upshot was indeed to make our friend marvel. "Oh if THAT'S all
that's the matter with you--!" It was HE who almost showed
resentment.


Chad's smile of a truth more than met it. "But isn't that enough?"

Strether hesitated, but it came out. "Not enough for your mother!"
Spoken, however, it sounded a trifle odd--the effect of which was
that Chad broke into a laugh. Strether, at this, succumbed as
well, though with extreme brevity. "Permit us to have still our
theory. But if you ARE so free and so strong you're inexcusable.
I'll write in the morning," he added with decision. "I'll say I've
got you."


This appeared to open for Chad a new interest. "How often do you
write?"

"Oh perpetually."

"And at great length?"

Strether had become a little impatient. "I hope it's not found too
great."

"Oh I'm sure not. And you hear as often?"

Again Strether paused. "As often as I deserve."

"Mother
writes," said Chad, "a lovely letter."

Strether, before the closed porte-cochere,
fixed him a moment.
"It's more, my boy, than YOU do! But our
suppositions don't
matter," he added, "if you're
actually not entangled."

Chad's
pride seemed none the less a little touched. "I never WAS
that--let me
insist. I always had my own way." With which he
pursued: "And I have it at present."

"Then what are you here for? What has kept you," Strether asked,
"if you HAVE been able to leave?"

It made Chad, after a stare, throw himself back. "Do you think
one's
kept only by women?" His surprise and his verbal emphasis
rang out
so clear in the still street that Strether winced till he
remembered the
safety of their English speech. "Is that," the
young man
demanded, "what they think at Woollett?" At the good
faith
in the question Strether had changed colour, feeling that,
as he would have said, he had
put his foot in it. He had appeared
stupidly to misrepresent what they thought at Woollett; but before
he had time to
rectify Chad again was upon him. "I must say then
you
show a low mind!"

It so
fell in, unhappily for Strether, with that reflexion of his
own
prompted in him by the pleasant air of the Boulevard
Malesherbes, that
its disconcerting force was rather unfairly
great. It was a dig that, administered by himself--and
administered even to poor Mrs. Newsome--was no more than salutary;
but administered by Chad--and quite logically--it came nearer
drawing blood.
They HADn't a low mind--nor any approach to one;
yet
incontestably they had worked, and with a certain smugness, on
a basis that might be
turned against them. Chad had at any rate
pulled his visitor up; he had even pulled up his
admirable mother;
he had absolutely, by a turn of the wrist and a jerk of the far-flung
noose, pulled up, in a bunch, Woollett browsing in its pride. There
was no doubt Woollett HAD insisted on his coarseness; and what
he at present stood there for in the sleeping street was, by his
manner of striking the other note, to make of such insistence a
preoccupation compromising to the insisters.
It was exactly as
if they had
imputed to him a vulgarity that he had by a mere
gesture caused to fall from him. The devil of the case was that
Strether felt it, by the same
stroke, as falling straight upon
himself. He had been
wondering a minute ago if the boy weren't a
Pagan, and he found himself
wondering now if he weren't by chance
a gentleman. It didn't in the least, on the spot,
spring up
helpfully
for him that a person couldn't at the same time be both.
There was nothing at this moment in the air to
challenge the
combination; there was everything to give it on the contrary
something of a
flourish. It struck Strether into the bargain as
doing something to meet the most difficult of the questions;
though perhaps indeed only by substituting another. Wouldn't it be
precisely by having learned to be a gentleman that he had
mastered
the
consequent trick of looking so well that one could scarce
speak to him straight? But what in the world was the clue to such
a
prime producing cause? There were too many clues then that
Strether still
lacked, and these clues to clues were among them.
What it
accordingly amounted to for him was that he had to take
full in the face a fresh attribution of ignorance.
He had grown
used by this time to reminders, especially from his own lips, of
what he didn't know; but he had
borne them because in the first
place they were
private and because in the second they practically
conveyed a tribute. He didn't know what was bad, and--as others
didn't know how little he knew it--he could
put up with his state.
But if he didn't know, in so important a particular, what was
good, Chad at least was now aware he didn't; and that, for some
reason, affected our friend as curiously public. It was in fact an
exposed condition that the young man left him in long enough for
him to feel its chill--till he saw fit, in a word, generously
again to cover him
. This last was in truth what Chad quite
gracefully did. But he did it as with a simple thought that met
the whole of the case. "Oh I'm all right!" It was what Strether
had rather
bewilderedly to go to bed on.



II



It wouldn't at all do, he saw, that anything should come up
for him at Chad's hand but what specifically was to have
come; the greatest divergence from which would be precisely
the element of any
lubrication of their intercourse by levity
It was accordingly to
forestall such an accident that he
frankly put before the young man the several facts, just as
they had occurred, of his
funny alliance. He spoke of these
facts,
pleasantly and obligingly, as "the whole story,"
and felt that he might
qualify the alliance as funny if he
remained
sufficiently grave about it. He flattered himself that he
even
exaggerated the wild freedom of his original encounter with
the
wonderful lady; he was scrupulously definite about the absurd
conditions in which they had made
acquaintance--their having
picked each other up almost in the street; and he had (finest
inspiration of all!) a conception of carrying the war into the
enemy's country by showing
surprise at the enemy's ignorance.





That seemed at the end of ten days the upshot of the abundant,
the
recurrent talk through which Strether poured into him all
it concerned him to know, put him in full
possession of facts
and figures
. Never cutting these colloquies short by a minute,
Chad behaved, looked and spoke as if he were rather heavily,
perhaps even a
trifle gloomily, but none the less fundamentally
and
comfortably free. He made no crude profession of eagerness
to
yield, but he asked the most intelligent questions, probed,
at moments,
abruptly, even deeper than his friend's layer of
information,
justified by these touches the native estimate of
his
latent stuff, and had in every way the air of trying to live,
reflectively, into the square bright picture. He walked up and
down in front of this production, sociably took Strether's arm at
the points at which he stopped, surveyed it repeatedly from the
right and from the left, inclined a critical head to either
quarter
, and, while he puffed a still more critical cigarette,
animadverted to his companion on this passage and that. Strether
sought relief--there were hours when he required it--in repeating
himself; it was in truth not to be blinked that Chad had a way.
The main question as yet was of what it was a way TO. It made
vulgar questions no more easy; but that was unimportant when all
questions save those of his own asking had dropped. That he was
free was answer enough, and it wasn't quite ridiculous that this
freedom should end by presenting itself as what was difficult to
move. His changed state, his lovely home, his beautiful things,
his
easy talk, his very appetite for Strether, insatiable and,
when all was said,
flattering--what were such marked matters all
but the notes of his
freedom?





He couldn't quite yet force it upon Woollett that such a career,
such a
perverted young life, showed after all a certain plausible
side, DID in the case before them
flaunt something like an
impunity for the social man; but he could at least treat himself
to the statement that would prepare him for
the sharpest echo.
This echo--as distinct over there in the dry thin air as some
shrill "heading" above a column of print
--seemed to reach him even
as he wrote. "He says there's no woman," he could
hear Mrs.
Newsome
report, in capitals almost of newspaper size, to Mrs.
Pocock; and he could
focus in Mrs. Pocock the response of the
reader of the journal. He could see in the younger lady's face the
earnestness of her attention and catch the full scepticism of her
but
slightly delayed "What is there then?" Just so he could again
as little miss the mother's
clear decision: "There's plenty of
disposition, no doubt, to pretend there isn't." Strether had,
after posting his letter, the whole scene out; and it was a scene
during which, coming and going, as befell, he kept his eye not
least upon the daughter. He had his fine sense of the conviction
Mrs. Pocock would take occasion to
reaffirm--a conviction bearing,
as he had from the
first deeply divined it to bear, on Mr.
Strether's
essential inaptitude. She had looked him in his
conscious eyes even before he sailed, and that she didn't believe
HE would find the woman had been written in her look.
Hadn't she at the best but a scant faith in his ability to find women?
It wasn't even as if he had
found her mother--so much more, to her
discrimination, had her mother performed the finding. Her mother
had, in a case her
private judgement of which remained educative
of Mrs. Pocock's
critical sense, found the man. The man owed his
unchallenged state, in general, to the fact that Mrs. Newsome's
discoveries were accepted at Woollett; but he knew in his bones,
our friend did, how
almost irresistibly Mrs. Pocock would now be
moved to show what she thought of his own. Give HER a free hand,
would be the
moral, and the woman would soon be found.





It sifted and settled nothing to put to her,
tout betement, as
she often said, "Do you like him, eh?"--thanks to his feeling
it actually the least of his needs to
heap up the evidence in
the young man's
favour. He repeatedly knocked at her door to
let her have it
afresh that Chad's case--whatever else of minor
interest it might yield--was first and foremost a miracle almost
monstrous. It was the alteration of the entire man, and was so
signal an instance that nothing else, for the intelligent
observer, could--COULD it?--
signify. "It's a plot," he declared--
"there's more in it than meets the eye." He
gave the rein to his
fancy. "It's a plant!"

His
fancy seemed to please her. "Whose then?"

"Well, the party
responsible is, I suppose, the fate that waits
for one, the dark doom that rides
. What I mean is that with such
elements one can't
count. I've but my poor individual, my modest
human
means. It isn't playing the game to turn on the uncanny. All
one's energy goes to
facing it, to tracking it. One wants, confound
it, don't you see?" he confessed with a
queer face--"one wants to
enjoy anything so rare. Call it then life"--he puzzled it out--
"call it
poor dear old life simply that springs the surprise.
Nothing
alters the fact that the surprise is paralysing, or at any
rate
engrossing--all, practically, hang it, that one sees, that
one CAN see."

Her silences were never barren, nor even dull. "Is that what
you've written home?"

He
tossed it off. "Oh dear, yes!"

She had another pause while, across her carpets, he had another
walk. "If you don't look out you'll have them straight over."

"Oh but I've said he'll go back."

"And WILL he?" Miss Gostrey asked.

The special tone of it made him, pulling up, look at her long.
"What's that but just the question I've
spent treasures of
patience and ingenuity in giving you, by the sight of him--after
everything had led up--every facility to
answer? What is it but
just the thing I came here to-day to get out of you? Will he?"

"No--he won't," she said at last. "He's not
free."

The air of it
held him. "Then you've all the while known--?"

"I've known nothing but what I've seen; and I wonder," she
declared with some impatience, that you didn't see as much. It was
enough to be with him there--"

"In the box? Yes," he rather blankly urged.

"Well--to feel sure."

"Sure of what?"

She got up from her chair, at this, with a nearer approach than
she had ever yet shown to
dismay at his dimness. She even, fairly
pausing
for it, spoke with a shade of pity. "Guess!"

It was a
shade, fairly, that brought a flush into his face; so
that for a moment, as they waited together, their difference was
between them.
"You mean that just your hour with him told you so
much of his story? Very good; I'm not such a fool, on my side, as
that I don't understand you, or as that I didn't in some degree
understand HIM. That he has done what he liked most isn't, among
any of us, a matter the least in
dispute. There's equally little
question at this time of day of what it is he does like most. But
I'm not talking," he
reasonably explained, "of any mere wretch he
may still pick up. I'm talking of some person who in his present
situation may have
held her own, may really have counted."

"That's exactly what I am!" said Miss Gostrey. But she as quickly
made her point. "I thought you thought--or that they think at
Woollett--that that's what mere wretches necessarily
do. Mere
wretches necessarily
DON'T!" she declared with spirit. "There
must, behind every appearance to the contrary, still be somebody--
somebody who's not a
mere wretch, since we accept the miracle.
What else but such a somebody can such a miracle be?"






"Ah then you're speaking now," Strether said, "of people who are
NOT nice."

"I delight," she replied, "in your classifications. But do you
want me," she asked, "to give you in the matter, on this ground,
the
wisest advice I'm capable of? Don't consider her, don't judge
her at all in herself.
Consider her and judge her only in Chad."

He had the
courage at least of his companion's logic. "Because
then I shall
like her?" He almost looked, with his quick imagination
as if he already did, though seeing at once also the full extent
of how little it would
suit his book. "But is that what I came
out for?"


She had to confess indeed that it wasn't. But there was something
else. "Don't make up your mind. There are all sorts of things. You
haven't seen him all."

This on his side Strether recognised; but his acuteness none the
less showed him the
danger. "Yes, but if the more I see the better
he
seems?"

Well, she found something. "That may be--but his
disavowal of her
isn't, all the same,
pure consideration. There's a hitch." She
made it out. "It's the effort to
sink her."

Strether
winced at the image. "To 'sink'--?"

"Well, I mean there's a struggle, and a part of it is just what he
hides. Take time--that's the only way not to make some mistake
that you'll regret. Then you'll see. He does really want to shake
her off
."

Our friend had by this time so got into the vision that he almost
gasped. "After all she has done for him?"

Miss Gostrey gave him a look which
broke the next moment into a
wonderful smile. "He's not so good as you think!"

They remained with him, these words,
promising him, in their
character of
warning, considerable help;






Waymarsh himself, for the occasion, was drawn into the eddy;
it absolutely, though but
temporarily, swallowed him down,
and there were days when
Strether seemed to bump against him
as a sinking swimmer might brush a submarine object. The
fathomless medium held them--Chad's manner was the fathomless
medium; and our friend felt as if they passed each other, in their
deep immersion, with the round impersonal eye of silent fish
. It
was
practically produced between them that Waymarsh was giving him
then his chance; and the shade of
discomfort that Strether drew
from the allowance
resembled not a little the embarrassment he had
known at school, as a boy, when members of his family had been
present at
exhibitions. He could perform before strangers, but
relatives were
fatal, and it was now as if, comparatively,
Waymarsh were a relative. He seemed to hear him say "Strike up
then!" and to enjoy a foretaste of
conscientious domestic
criticism. He HAD struck up, so far as he actually could; Chad
knew by this time in
profusion what he wanted; and what vulgar
violence did his fellow pilgrim expect
of him when he had really
emptied his mind? It went somehow to and fro that what poor
Waymarsh meant was "I told you so--that you'd
lose your immortal
soul!"
but it was also fairly explicit that Strether had his own
challenge and that, since they must go to the bottom of things, he
wasted no more virtue in watching Chad than Chad wasted in
watching him. His dip for duty's sake--where was it worse than
Waymarsh's own? For HE needn't have stopped resisting and
refusing, needn't have parleyed, at that rate, with the foe.

The
strolls over Paris to see something or call somewhere were
accordingly
inevitable and natural, and the late sessions in
the
wondrous
troisieme, the lovely home, when men dropped in and the
picture composed more suggestively through the haze of tobacco, of
music more or less good and of talk more or less polyglot
, were on
a principle not to be distinguished from that of the mornings and
the afternoons. Nothing, Strether had to recognise as he leaned
back
and smoked, could well less resemble a scene of violence than
even the liveliest of these occasions. They were occasions of
discussion, none the less, and Strether had never in his life
heard so many opinions on so many subjects. There were opinions at
Woollett, but only on three or four. The differences were there to
match; if they were doubtless deep, though few, they were quiet--
they were, as might be said, almost as
shy as if people had been
ashamed of them. People showed little diffidence about such
things, on the other hand, in the Boulevard Malesherbes, and were
so far from being
ashamed of them--or indeed of anything else--
that they often
seemed to have invented them to avert those
agreements that destroy the taste of talk
. No one had ever done that
at Woollett, though Strether could remember times when he himself had
been
tempted to it without quite knowing why. He saw why at present
--he had but wanted to
promote intercourse.

These, however, were but parenthetic memories, and the turn taken
by his affair on the whole was positively that if his nerves were
on the
stretch it was because he missed violence. When he asked
himself if none would then, in connexion with it, ever come at
all, he might almost have passed as wondering how to
provoke it.
It would be too
absurd if such a vision as THAT should have to be
invoked for relief; it was already marked enough as absurd that he
should actually have begun with
flutters and dignities on the
score of a single accepted meal
. What sort of a brute had he
expected Chad to be, anyway?--Strether had occasion to make the
enquiry but was careful to make it in private. He could himself,
comparatively recent as it was--it was truly but the fact of a few
days since--focus his primal crudity; but he would on the
approach of an observer, as if
handling an illicit possession,
have
slipped the reminiscence out of sight. There were echoes of
it still in Mrs. Newsome's letters, and there were moments when
these
echoes made him exclaim on her want of tact. He blushed of
course, at once, still more for the explanation than for the
ground of it: it came to him in time to save his manners that she
couldn't at the best become
tactful as quickly as he. Her tact had
to reckon with the Atlantic Ocean, the General Post-Office and the
extravagant curve of the globe.





He had passed no more crowded hour in Chad's society than the
one just ended; he had talked with Miss Barrace, who had
reproached him with not having come to see her, and he had
above all
hit on a happy thought for causing Waymarsh's
tension to relax. Something might possibly be extracted for the
latter from the idea of his
success with that lady, whose quick
apprehension of what might amuse her had given Strether a free
hand. What had she meant if not to ask whether she couldn't help
him with his
splendid encumbrance, and mightn't the sacred rage at
any rate be
kept a little in abeyance by thus creating for his
comrade's mind even in a world of
irrelevance the possibility of a
relation? What was it but a relation to be
regarded as so
decorative and, in especial, on the strength of it, to be whirled
away, amid flounces and feathers,
in a coupe lined, by what
Strether could make out, with
dark blue brocade? He himself had
never been whirled away--never at least in a coupe and behind a
footman; he had driven with Miss Gostrey in cabs, with Mrs.
Pocock, a few times, in an open buggy, with Mrs. Newsome in a
four-seated cart and, occasionally up at the mountains, on a
buckboard; but his friend's actual adventure transcended his
personal experience. He now showed his companion soon enough
indeed
how inadequate, as a general monitor, this last queer
quantity could once more feel itself
.





Little Bilham, in meditation, looked at him with a kindness
almost
paternal. "Don't you like it over here?"

Strether
laughed out--for the tone was indeed droll; he let
himself go. "What has that to do with it? The only thing I've
any business to
like is to feel that I'm moving him. That's
why I ask you whether you believe I AM? Is the creature"--
and he did his best to show that he simply wished to ascertain--
"honest?"

His companion looked responsible, but looked it through a small
dim smile
. "What creature do you mean?"

It was on this that they did have for a little a
mute interchange.
"Is it untrue that he's free? How then," Strether asked wondering
"does he arrange his life?"

"Is the creature you mean Chad himself?" little Bilham said.

Strether here, with a rising hope, just thought, "We must take one
of them at a time." But his
coherence lapsed. "IS there some
woman? Of whom he's really afraid of course I mean--or who does
with him what she likes."

"It's
awfully charming of you," Bilham presently remarked, "not to
have asked me that before."

"Oh I'm not
fit for my job!"

The
exclamation had escaped our friend, but it made little Bilham
more
deliberate. "Chad's a rare case!" he luminously observed.
"He's
awfully changed," he added.





"I'm not sure he was really meant by nature to be quite so good.
It's like the new edition of an old book that one has been fond
of--
revised and amended, brought up to date, but not quite the
thing one knew and loved
. However that may be at all events,"
he pursued, "I don't think, you know, that he's really playing,
as you call it, any game. I believe he really wants to go back
and take up a career. He's capable of one, you know, that will
improve and enlarge him still more. He won't then," little Bilham
continued to remark, "be
my pleasant well-rubbed old-fashioned
volume
at all. But of course I'm beastly immoral. I'm afraid it
would be a
funny world altogether--a world with things the way
I
like them. I ought, I dare say, to go home and go into business
myself. Only I'd
simply rather die--simply. And I've not the
least
difficulty in making up my mind not to, and in knowing
exactly why, and in
defending my ground against all comers.
All the same," he wound up, "I assure you I don't say a word
against it--for himself, I mean--to Chad. I seem to see it as
much the best thing for him. You see he's not happy."

"DO I?"--Strether stared. "I've been supposing I see just the
opposite--an extraordinary case of the equilibrium arrived at and
assured."

"Oh there's a lot behind it."

"Ah there you are!" Strether exclaimed. "That's just what I want
to get at. You speak of your
familiar volume altered out of
recognition. Well, who's the editor?"

Little Bilham looked before him a minute in silence. "He ought to
get married. THAT would do it. And he wants to."

"Wants to marry her?"

Again little Bilham waited, and, with a sense that he had
information, Strether
scarce knew what was coming. "He wants to be
free. He isn't used, you see," the young man explained in his
lucid way, "to being so good."

Strether
hesitated. "Then I may take it from you that he IS good?"

His companion
matched his pause, but making it up with a quiet
fulness
. "DO take it from me."





Little Bilham had got up as if the transaction with the waiter had
been a signal, and had already edged out between the table and the
divan. The effect of this was that a minute later they had quitted
the place, the gratified waiter alert again at the open door.
Strether had found himself deferring to his companion's abruptness
as to a
hint that he should be answered as soon as they were more
isolated. This happened when after a few steps in the outer air
they had turned the next comer. There our friend had
kept it up.
"Why isn't he free if he's
good?"

Little Bilham
looked him full in the face. "Because it's a
virtuous attachment."

This had
settled the question so effectually for the time--that is
for the next few days--that it had given Strether almost a new
lease of life. It must be added however that,thanks to his
constant habit of
shaking the bottle in which life handed him the
wine of experience, he presently found the taste of the lees
rising as usual into his draught.






"They're dying to see you?" Miss Gostrey asked.

"Dying. Of course," said Strether, "they're the virtuous attachment."
He had already told her about that--had seen her the day after
his talk with little Bilham; and they had then threshed out
together the
bearing of the revelation. She had helped him to put
into it the
logic in which little Bilham had left it slightly
deficient
Strether hadn't pressed him as to the object of the
preference so unexpectedly described; feeling in the presence of
it, with one of his
irrepressible scruples, a delicacy from which
he had in the
quest of the quite other article worked himself
sufficiently free. He had held off, as on a small principle of
pride, from permitting his young friend to mention a name; wishing
to make with this the great point that Chad's virtuous attachments
were none of his business. He had wanted from the first not to
think too much of his dignity, but that was no reason for not
allowing it any little benefit that might turn up. He had often
enough
wondered to what degree his interference might pass for
interested; so that there was no want of luxury in letting it be
seen whenever he could that he didn't interfere. That had of
course at the same time not
deprived him of the further luxury of
much private astonishment
;





She showed at first none the less as only amused. "You say there
are two? An attachment to them both then would, I suppose, almost
necessarily be
innocent."

Our friend took the point, but he had his clue. "Mayn't he be
still in the stage of not quite knowing which of them, mother or
daughter, he likes best?"

She gave it more thought. "Oh it must be the daughter--at his
age."

"Possibly. Yet what do we know," Strether asked, "about hers? She
may be old enough."

"Old enough for what?"

"Why to marry Chad. That may be, you know, what they want. And if
Chad
wants it too, and little Bilham wants it, and even we, at a
pinch
, could do with it--that is if she doesn't prevent repatriation
--why it may be
plain sailing yet."

It was always the case for him in these
counsels that each of his
remarks, as it came, seemed to drop into a deeper well. He had at
all events to wait a moment to hear the slight splash of this one.

"I don't see why if Mr. Newsome wants to marry the young lady he
hasn't already done it or hasn't been
prepared with some statement
to you about it. And if he both wants to marry her and is on
good
terms with them why isn't he 'free'?"

Strether,
responsively, wondered indeed. "Perhaps the girl herself
doesn't like him."

"Then why does he speak of them to you as he does?"

Strether's mind echoed the question, but also again met it. "Perhaps
it's with the mother he's on good terms."





"Oh yes," he mused--"there's always dear old Woollett itself."

She waited a moment. "The
young lady mayn't find herself able to
swallow THAT quantity. She may think it's paying too much; she may
weigh one thing against another."

Strether, ever
restless in such debates, took a vague turn "It
will all depend on who she is. That of course--the
proved ability
to
deal with dear old Woollett, since I'm sure she does deal with
it--is what makes so
strongly for Mamie."

"Mamie?"

He
stopped short, at her tone, before her; then, though seeing
that it
represented not vagueness, but a momentary embarrassed
fulness
, let his exclamation come. "You surely haven't forgotten
about Mamie!"

"No, I haven't forgotten about Mamie," she
smiled. "There's no
doubt whatever that there's ever so much to be said for her.
Mamie's MY girl!" she
roundly declared.






"Why that there must be a lot between them--and that it has been
going on from the first; even from before I came."

She took a minute to answer. "Who are they then--if it's so
grave?"

"It mayn't be
grave--it may be gay. But at any rate it's marked.
Only I don't know," Strether had to
confess, "anything about them.
Their name for instance was a thing that, after little Bilham's
information, I found it a kind of
refreshment not to feel obliged
to
follow up."

"Oh," she returned, "if you think you've
got off--!"

Her laugh produced in him a
momentary gloom. "I don't think I've
got off. I only think I'm breathing for about five minutes. I dare
say I SHALL have, at the best, still to
get on." A look, over it
all, passed between them, and the next minute he had come back to
good humour. "I don't meanwhile take the smallest interest in
their name."

"Nor in their nationality?--American, French, English, Polish?"

"I don't
care the least little 'hang,'" he smiled, "for their
nationality. It would be nice if they're Polish!" he almost
immediately added.

"Very nice indeed." The transition
kept up her spirits. "So you
see you do care."

He did this
contention a modified justice. "I think I should if
they WERE Polish. Yes," he thought--"there might be
joy in THAT."

"Let us then hope for it." But she came after this nearer to the
question. "If the girl's of the right age of course the mother
can't be. I mean for the virtuous attachment. If the girl's
twenty--and she can't be less--the mother must be at least forty.
So it puts the mother out. SHE'S too old for him."

Strether, arrested again, considered and demurred. "Do you think
so? Do you think any one would be too
old for him? I'M eighty, and
I'm too
young. But perhaps the girl," he continued, "ISn't twenty.
Perhaps she's only ten--but such a little dear that Chad finds
himself
counting her in as an attraction of the acquaintance.
Perhaps she's only five. Perhaps the mother's but five-and-twenty
--a
charming young widow."

Miss Gostrey entertained the suggestion. "She IS a widow then?"

"I haven't the least idea!" They once more, in spite of this
vagueness, exchanged a look--a look that was perhaps the longest
yet.
It seemed in fact, the next thing, to require to explain
itself; which it did as it could. "I only feel what I've told you
--that he has some reason."

Miss Gostrey's imagination had taken its own flight. "Perhaps
she's NOT a widow."

Strether seemed to accept the possibility with reserve. Still he
accepted it. "Then that's why the attachment--if it's to her--is
virtuous."





Strether meanwhile had had time to think more. "Then where's his
straightness?"

"Well, as we say, it's
struggling up, breaking out, asserting itself
as it can. We can be on the side, you see, of his
straightness.
We can help him. But he has made out," said Miss Gostrey, "that
you'll
do."

"
Do for what?"

"Why, for THEM--for ces dames. He has
watched you, studied you,
liked you--and recognised that THEY must. It's a great compliment
to you, my
dear man; for I'm sure they're particular. You came out
for a
success. Well," she gaily declared, "you're having it!"

He took it from her with
momentary patience and then turned
abruptly
away. It was always convenient to him that there were so
many fine things in her room to look at.
But the examination of
two or three of them appeared soon to have determined a speech
that had little to do with them. "You don't believe in it!"

"In what?"

"In the character of the attachment. In its innocence."

But she defended herself. "I don't pretend to know anything about
it. Everything's possible. We must see."

"See?" he echoed with a groan. "Haven't we seen enough?"

"I haven't," she smiled.

"But do you suppose then little Bilham has lied?"

"You must find out."

It made him almost
turn pale. "Find out any MORE?"

He had
dropped on a sofa for dismay; but she seemed, as she stood
over him, to have the last word. "Wasn't what you came out for to
find out ALL?"



               Book 5


I


The Sunday of the next week was a wonderful day, and Chad Newsome
had let his friend know in advance that he had provided for it.
There had already been a question of his taking him to see the
great Gloriani, who was at home on Sunday afternoons and at whose
house, for the most part, fewer bores were to be met than
elsewhere; but the project, through some accident, had not had
instant effect, and now revived in happier conditions. Chad had
made the point that the
celebrated sculptor had a queer old
garden, for which the weather--spring at last
frank and fair--was
propitious; and two or three of his other allusions had confirmed
for Strether the
expectation of something special. He had by this
time, for all introductions and adventures,
let himself recklessly
go, cherishing the sense that whatever the young man showed him he
was showing at least himself. He could have wished indeed, so far
as this went, that Chad were less of a
mere cicerone; for he was
not without the impression--now that the vision of his game, his
plan,
his deep diplomacy, did recurrently assert itself--of his
taking refuge from the realities of their intercourse in profusely
dispensing, as our friend mentally phrased et panem et circenses
.
Our friend continued to
feel rather smothered in flowers, though
he made in his other moments the almost
angry inference that this
was only because of
his odious ascetic suspicion of any form of
beauty
. He periodically assured himself--for his reactions were
sharp--that he shouldn't reach the truth of anything till he had
at least got rid of that.






The effect of Strether's talk about them with Miss Gostrey had
been quite to
consecrate his reluctance to pry; something in
the very air of Chad's
silence--judged in the light of that
talk--offered it to him as a
reserve he could markedly match.
It
shrouded them about with he scarce knew what, a consideration,
a
distinction; he was in presence at any rate--so far as it
placed him there--of ladies; and the one thing that was definite
for him was that they themselves should be, to the extent of his
responsibility, in presence of a gentleman. Was it because they
were very
beautiful, very clever, or even very good--was it
for one of these reasons that Chad was, so to speak,
nursing his
effect? Did he wish to
spring them, in the Woollett phrase, with a
fuller force--to confound his critic, slight though as yet the
criticism, with some form of
merit exquisitely incalculable?





His fellow guests were multiplying, and these things, their liberty,
their intensity, their variety, their conditions at large, were in
fusion in the admirable medium of the scene.


The place itself was a great
impression--a small pavilion, clear-
faced and sequestered, an effect of polished parquet, of fine white
panel and spare sallow gilt, of decoration delicate and rare
, in
the heart of the Faubourg Saint-Germain and on the edge of a cluster
of gardens attached to
old noble houses. Far back from streets and
unsuspected by crowds, reached by a long passage and a quiet court,
it was as striking to the
unprepared mind, he immediately saw,
as a treasure dug up; giving him too, more than anything yet,

the note of the range of the immeasurable town and sweeping away,
as by a last brave brush, his usual landmarks and terms
.
It was in the garden, a spacious cherished remnant, out of
which a dozen persons had already passed, that Chad's host
presently met them while
the tall bird-haunted trees, all of a
twitter with the spring
and the weather, and the high party-walls,
on the other side of which grave hotels stood off for privacy,

spoke of survival, transmission, association, a strong indifferent
persistent order
. The day was so soft that the little party had
practically
adjourned to the open air but the open air was in such
conditions all a chamber of state. Strether had presently the
sense of a great convent, a convent of missions, famous for he
scarce knew what,
a nursery of young priests, of scattered shade,
of straight alleys and chapel-bells, that spread its mass in one
quarter; he had the sense of names in the air, of ghosts at the
windows, of signs and tokens, a whole range of expression, all
about him, too thick for prompt discrimination.


This assault of images became for a moment, in the address of the
distinguished sculptor, almost
formidable: Gloriani showed him,
in such
perfect confidence, on Chad's introduction of him, a fine
worn handsome face, a face that was like an open letter in a
foreign tongue. With his genius in his eyes, his manners on his
lips, his long career behind him and his honours and rewards all
round, the great artist, in the course of a single sustained look
and a few words of delight at receiving him, affected our friend
as a dazzling prodigy of type.
Strether had seen in museums--in
the Luxembourg as well as, more
reverently, later on, in the New
York of the billionaires--the work of his hand; knowing too that
after an earlier time in his native Rome he had
migrated, in
mid-career, to Paris, where,
with a personal lustre almost violent,
he shone in a constellation: all of which was more than enough
to crown him, for his guest, with the light, with the romance,
of glory. Strether, in contact with that element as he had never
yet so intimately been, had the consciousness of opening to it,
for the happy instant, all the windows of his mind, of letting this
rather grey interior drink in for once the sun of a clime not
marked in his old geography. He was to remember again repeatedly
the medal-like Italian face, in which every line was an artist's
own, in which time told only as tone and consecration; and he was
to recall in especial, as the penetrating radiance, as the
communication of the illustrious spirit itself, the manner in
which, while they stood briefly, in welcome and response, face to
face, he was held by the sculptor's eyes. He wasn't soon to forget
them, was to think of them, all unconscious, unintending,
preoccupied though they were, as the source of the deepest
intellectual sounding to which he had ever been exposed. He was in
fact quite to cherish his vision of it, to play with it in idle
hours;
only speaking of it to no one and quite aware he couldn't
have spoken without appearing to talk nonsense.
Was what it had
told him or what it had asked him the greater of the mysteries?
Was it the most special flare, unequalled, supreme, of the
aesthetic torch, lighting that wondrous world for ever, or was it
above all the long straight shaft sunk by a personal acuteness
that life had seasoned to steel?
Nothing on earth could have been
stranger and no one doubtless more surprised than the artist
himself, but it was for all the world to Strether just then as if
in the matter of his
accepted duty he had positively been on trial.
The deep human expertness in Gloriani's charming smile--oh the
terrible life behind it!--was flashed upon him as a test of his stuff.






He was as easy, clever Chad, with the great artist as with his
obscure compatriot, and as easy with every one else as with either:
this fell into its place for Strether and made almost a new light,
giving him, as a concatenation, something more he could enjoy.
He liked Gloriani, but should never see him again; of that he was
sufficiently sure.
Chad accordingly, who was wonderful with both
of them, was a kind of link for hopeless fancy, an implication of
possibilities
--oh if everything had been different! Strether noted
at all events
that he was thus on terms with illustrious spirits,
and also that--yes, distinctly--he hadn't in the least swaggered
about it.
Our friend hadn't come there only for this figure of Abel
Newsome's son, but that presence threatened to affect the observant
mind as positively central.
Gloriani indeed, remembering something
and excusing himself, pursued Chad to speak to him, and Strether was
left musing on many things. One of them was the question of whether,
since he had been tested, he had passed. Did the artist drop him
from having made out that he wouldn't do? He really felt just to-day
that he might do better than usual.
Hadn't he done well enough,
so far as that went, in being exactly so dazzled?
and in not having
too, as he almost believed, wholly hidden from his host that he felt
the latter's plummet? Suddenly, across the garden, he saw little
Bilham approach, and it was a part of the fit that was on him that
as their eyes met he guessed also HIS knowledge. If he had said to
him on the instant what was uppermost he would have said: "HAVE I
passed?--for of course I know one has to pass here."






"Oh they're every one--all sorts and sizes; of course I mean
within limits, though limits down perhaps rather more than limits
up. There are always artists--he's beautiful and inimitable to the
cher confrere; and then gros bonnets of many kinds--ambassadors,
cabinet ministers, bankers, generals, what do I know? even Jews.
Above all always some awfully nice women--and not too many;
sometimes an actress, an artist, a great performer--but only when
they're not monsters; and in particular the right femmes du monde.
You can fancy his history on that side--I believe it's fabulous:
they NEVER give him up. Yet he keeps them down: no one knows how
he manages; it's too beautiful and bland.
Never too many--and a
mighty good thing too; just a perfect choice. But there are not in
any way many bores; it has always been so; he has some secret.
It's extraordinary. And you don't find it out. He's the same to
every one."





This was a category our friend had a feeling for; a light,
romantic and mysterious, on the feminine element, in which he
enjoyed for a little watching it. "Are there any Poles?"

His companion considered. "I think I make out a 'Portuguee.' But
I've seen Turks."

Strether wondered, desiring justice. "They seem--all the women--
very harmonious."

"Oh in closer quarters they come out!" And then, while Strether
was aware of fearing closer quarters, though giving himself again
to the harmonies,
"Well," little Bilham went on, "it IS at the
worst rather good, you know. If you like it, you feel it, this
way, that shows you're not in the least out But you always know
things," he handsomely added, "immediately."

Strether liked it and felt it only too much; so "I say, don't lay
traps for me!" he rather helplessly murmured.

"Well," his companion returned, "he's wonderfully kind to us."

"To us Americans you mean?"

"Oh no--he doesn't know anything about THAT. That's half the
battle here--that you can never hear politics. We don't talk them.
I mean to poor young wretches of all sorts. And yet it's always as
charming as this;
it's as if, by something in the air, our squalor
didn't show.
It puts us all back--into the last century."

"I'm afraid," Strether said, amused, "that it puts me rather
forward: oh ever so far!"

"Into the next? But isn't that only," little Bilham asked,
"because you're really of the century before?"

"The century before the last? Thank you!" Strether laughed. "If I
ask you about some of the ladies it can't be then that I may hope,
as such
a specimen of the rococo, to please them."

"On the contrary they adore--we all adore here--the rococo, and
where is there a better setting for it than the whole thing, the
pavilion and the garden, together? There are lots of people with
collections," little Bilham smiled as he glanced round.
"You'll be
secured!"






This, accordingly," little Bilham went on, "will be--if they
ARE here--their first appearance after their return."

Strether, very quickly, turned these things over. "Chad told you
last night? To me, on our way here, he said nothing about it."

"But did you ask him?"

Strether did him the justice. "I dare say not."

"Well," said little Bilham, "you're not a person to whom it's easy
to tell things you don't want to know. Though it is easy, I admit--
it's quite beautiful," he benevolently added, "when you do want to."

Strether looked at him with an indulgence that matched his
intelligence. "Is that the deep reasoning on which--about these
ladies--you've been yourself so silent?"

Little Bilham considered the depth of his reasoning. "I haven't
been silent. I spoke of them to you the other day, the day we sat
together after Chad's tea-party."

Strether came round to it.
"They then are the virtuous attachment?"

"I can only tell you that it's what they pass for. But isn't that
enough? What more than a vain appearance does the wisest of us
know? I commend you," the young man declared with a pleasant
emphasis, "the vain appearance."


Strether looked more widely round, and what he saw, from face to face,
deepened the effect of his young friend's words. "Is it so good?"

"Magnificent."

Strether had a pause. "The husband's dead?"

"Dear no. Alive."

"Oh!" said Strether. After which, as his companion laughed:
"How then can it be so good?"

"You'll see for yourself. One does see."


"Chad's in love with the daughter?"

"That's what I mean."

Strether wondered. "Then where's the difficulty?"

"Why, aren't you and I--with our grander bolder ideas?"

"Oh mine--!" Strether said rather strangely. But then as if to
attenuate: "You mean they won't hear of Woollett?"

Little Bilham smiled. "Isn't that just what you must see about?"

It had brought them, as she caught the last words, into relation
with Miss Barrace, whom Strether had already observed--as he had
never before seen a lady at a party--moving about alone. Coming
within sound of them she had already spoken, and
she took again,
through her long-handled glass, all her amused and amusing
possession
. "How much, poor Mr. Strether, you seem to have to see
about! But you can't say," she gaily declared, "that I don't do
what I can to help you. Mr. Waymarsh is placed. I've left him in
the house with Miss Gostrey."


"The way," little Bilham exclaimed, "Mr. Strether gets the ladies
to work for him! He's just preparing to draw in another; to
pounce--don't you see him?--on Madame de Vionnet."

"Madame de Vionnet? Oh, oh, oh!" Miss Barrace cried in a wonderful
crescendo. There was more in it, our friend made out, than met the
ear. Was it after all a joke that he should be serious about
anything? He envied Miss Barrace at any rate her power of not
being.
She seemed, with little cries and protests and quick
recognitions, movements like the darts of some fine high-feathered
free-pecking bird, to stand before life as before some full
shop-window. You could fairly hear, as she selected and pointed,
the tap of her tortoise-shell against the glass
. "It's certain that
we do need seeing about; only I'm glad it's not I who have to do it.
One does, no doubt, begin that way; then suddenly one finds that
one has given it up. It's too much, it's too difficult. You're
wonderful, you people," she continued to Strether, "for not feeling
those things--by which I mean impossibilities. You never feel them.
You face them with a fortitude that makes it a lesson to watch you."


"Ah but"--little Bilham put it with discouragement--"what do we
achieve after all? We see about you and report--when we even go so
far as reporting. But nothing's done."

"Oh you, Mr. Bilham," she replied as with an impatient rap on the
glass, "you're not worth sixpence! You come over to convert the
savages--for I know you verily did, I remember you--and the
savages simply convert YOU."

"Not even!" the young man woefully confessed: "they haven't gone
through that form. They've simply--the cannibals!--eaten me;
converted me if you like, but converted me into food. I'm but the
bleached bones of a Christian."


"Well then there we are! Only"--and Miss Barrace appealed again to
Strether--"don't let it discourage you. You'll break down soon
enough, but you'll meanwhile have had your moments. Il faut en
avoir. I always like to see you while you last. And I'll tell you
who WILL last."

"Waymarsh?"--he had already taken her up.

She laughed out as at the alarm of it. "He'll resist even Miss
Gostrey: so grand is it not to understand. He's wonderful."


"He is indeed," Strether conceded. "He wouldn't tell me of this
affair--only said he had an engagement; but with such a gloom, you
must let me insist, as if it had been an engagement to be hanged.
Then silently and secretly he turns up here with you. Do you call
THAT 'lasting'?"

"Oh I hope it's lasting!" Miss Barrace said. "But he only, at the
best, bears with me. He doesn't understand--not one little scrap.
He's delightful. He's wonderful," she repeated.


"Michelangelesque!"--little Bilham completed her meaning. "He IS
a success.
Moses, on the ceiling, brought down to the floor;
overwhelming, colossal, but somehow portable."


"Certainly, if you mean by portable," she returned, "looking so
well in one's carriage. He's too funny beside me in his comer; he
looks like somebody, somebody foreign and famous, en exil; so that
people wonder--it's very amusing--whom I'm taking about. I show
him Paris, show him everything, and he never turns a hair. He's
like the Indian chief one reads about, who, when he comes up to
Washington to see the Great Father, stands wrapt in his blanket
and gives no sign. I might be the Great Father--from the way he
takes everything."
She was delighted at this hit of her identity
with that personage--it fitted so her character; she declared it
was the title she meant henceforth to adopt. "And the way he sits,
too, in the corner of my room, only looking at my visitors very
hard and as if he wanted to start something! They wonder what he
does want to start. But he's wonderful," Miss Barrace once more
insisted. "He has never started anything yet."


It presented him none the less, in truth, to her actual friends,
who looked at each other in intelligence, with frank amusement on
Bilham's part and a shade of sadness on Strether's. Strether's
sadness sprang--for the image had its grandeur--from his thinking
how little he himself was wrapt in his blanket, how little, in
marble halls, all too oblivious of the Great Father, he resembled
a really majestic aboriginal. But he had also another reflexion.

"You've all of you here so much visual sense that you've somehow
all 'run' to it.
There are moments when it strikes one that you
haven't any other."

"Any moral," little Bilham explained, watching serenely, across
the garden, the several femmes du monde. "But Miss Barrace has a
moral distinction," he kindly continued; speaking as if for Strether's
benefit not less than for her own.

"HAVE you?" Strether, scarce knowing what he was about, asked of
her almost eagerly.

"Oh not a distinction"--she was mightily amused at his tone--"Mr. Bilham's
too good. But I think I may say a sufficiency. Yes, a sufficiency.

Have you supposed strange things of me?"--and she fixed him again,
through all her tortoise-shell, with the droll interest of it.

"You ARE all indeed wonderful. I should awfully disappoint you.
I do take my stand on my sufficiency. But I know, I confess,"
she went on, "strange people. I don't know how it happens;
I don't do it on purpose; it seems to be my doom--as if I were
always one of their habits: it's wonderful! I dare say moreover,"
she pursued with an interested gravity, "that I do, that
we all
do here, run too much to mere eye. But how can it be helped?
We're all looking at each other--and in the light of Paris one
sees what things resemble. That's what the light of Paris seems
always to show. It's the fault of the light of Paris--dear old light!"


"Dear old Paris!" little Bilham echoed.



II



The moment concerned him, he felt, more deeply than he could
have explained, and he had a subsequent passage of speculation
as to whether, on walking off with Chad, he hadn't looked either
pale or red. The only thing he was clear about was that, luckily,
nothing indiscreet had in fact been said and that Chad himself
was more than ever, in Miss Barrace's great sense, wonderful.

It was one of the connexions--though really why it should be,
after all, was none so apparent--in which the whole change in
him came out as most striking. Strether recalled as they
approached the house that he had impressed him that first night as
knowing how to enter a box. Well, he impressed him scarce less now
as knowing how to make a presentation.
It did something for
Strether's own quality--marked it as estimated;
so that our poor
friend, conscious and passive, really seemed to feel himself quite
handed over and delivered; absolutely, as he would have said, made
a present of, given away.
As they reached the house a young woman,
about to come forth, appeared, unaccompanied, on the steps; at the
exchange with whom of a word on Chad's part Strether immediately
perceived that, obligingly, kindly, she was there to meet them.
Chad had left her in the house, but she had afterwards come
halfway and then the next moment had joined them in the garden.
Her air of youth, for Strether, was at first almost disconcerting,
while his second impression was, not less sharply, a degree of
relief at
there not having just been, with the others, any freedom
used about her. It was upon him at a touch that she was no subject
for that,
and meanwhile, on Chad's introducing him, she had spoken
to him, very simply and gently, in an English clearly of the
easiest to her, yet unlike any other he had ever heard. It wasn't
as if she tried; nothing, he could see after they had been a few
minutes together, was as if she tried; but her speech, charming
correct and odd, was like a precaution against her passing for a
Pole. There were precautions, he seemed indeed to see, only when
there were really dangers.

Later on he was to feel many more of them, but by that time he was
to feel other things besides.
She was dressed in black, but in
black that struck him as light and transparent; she was
exceedingly fair, and, though she was as markedly slim, her face
had a roundness, with eyes far apart and a little strange.
Her smile was natural and dim; her hat not extravagant; he had only
perhaps a sense of the clink, beneath her fine black sleeves, of
more gold bracelets and bangles than he had ever seen a lady wear.

Chad was excellently free and light about their encounter; it was
one of the occasions on which Strether most wished he himself
might have arrived at such ease and such humour: "Here you are
then, face to face at last; you're made for each other--vous allez
voir; and I bless your union."






The evidence as yet in truth was meagre; which, for that matter,
was perhaps a little why his expectation had had a drop. There was
somehow not quite a wealth in her; and a wealth was all that, in
his simplicity, he had definitely prefigured. Still, it was too
much to be sure already that there was but a poverty.
They moved
away from the house, and, with eyes on a bench at some distance,
he proposed that they should sit down. "I've heard a great deal
about you," she said as they went; but he had an answer to it that
made her stop short. "Well, about YOU, Madame de Vionnet, I've
heard, I'm bound to say, almost nothing"--those struck him as the
only words he himself could utter with any lucidity; conscious as
he was, and as with more reason, of the determination to be in
respect to the rest of his business perfectly plain and go
perfectly straight. It hadn't at any rate been in the least his
idea to spy on Chad's proper freedom. It was possibly, however, at
this very instant and under the impression of Madame de Vionnet's
pause, that going straight began to announce itself as a matter
for care. She had only after all to smile at him ever so gently in
order to make him ask himself if he weren't already going crooked.
It might be going crooked to find it of a sudden just only clear
that she intended very definitely to be what he would have called
nice to him. This was what passed between them while, for another
instant, they stood still; he couldn't at least remember
afterwards what else it might have been. The thing indeed really
unmistakeable was its rolling over him as a wave that he had been,
in conditions incalculable and unimaginable, a subject of
discussion.
He had been, on some ground that concerned her,
answered for; which gave her an advantage he should never be able
to match.





One of the others was, at the end of five minutes, that she--oh
incontestably, yes--DIFFERED less; differed, that is, scarcely at
all--well, superficially speaking, from Mrs. Newsome or even from
Mrs. Pocock. She was ever so much younger than the one and not
so young as the other; but what WAS there in her, if anything,
that would have made it impossible he should meet her at Woollett?

And wherein was her talk during their moments on the bench together
not the same as would have been found adequate for a Woollett
garden-party?--unless perhaps truly in not being quite so bright.
She observed to him that Mr. Newsome had, to her knowledge, taken
extraordinary pleasure in his visit; but there was no good lady
at Woollett who wouldn't have been at least up to that. Was there
in Chad, by chance, after all, deep down, a principle of aboriginal
loyalty that had made him, for sentimental ends, attach himself
to elements, happily encountered, that would remind him most
of the old air and the old soil? Why accordingly be in a flutter--
Strether could even put it that way--about this unfamiliar
phenomenon of the femme du monde?
On these terms Mrs. Newsome
herself was as much of one. Little Bilham verily had testified
that they came out, the ladies of the type, in close quarters; but
it was just in these quarters--now comparatively close--that he
felt Madame de Vionnet's common humanity. She did come out, and
certainly to his relief, but she came out as the usual thing.
There might be motives behind, but so could there often be even at
Woollett. The only thing was that if she showed him she wished to
like him--as the motives behind might conceivably prompt--it
would possibly have been more thrilling for him that she should
have shown as more vividly alien. Ah she was neither Turk nor
Pole!--which would be indeed flat once more for Mrs. Newsome and
Mrs. Pocock.






Madame de Vionnet greeted her as "Duchesse" and was greeted in
turn, while talk started in French, as "Ma toute-belle"; little
facts that had their due, their vivid interest for Strether.
Madame de Vionnet didn't, none the less, introduce him--a note
he was conscious of as false to the Woollett scale and the
Woollett humanity; though it didn't prevent the Duchess, who
struck him as confident and free, very much what he had obscurely
supposed duchesses, from
looking at him as straight and as
hard--for it WAS hard--as if she would have liked, all the same,
to know him. "Oh yes, my dear, it's all right, it's ME; and who
are YOU, with your interesting wrinkles and your most effective
(is it the handsomest, is it the ugliest?) of noses?"--some such
loose handful of bright flowers she seemed, fragrantly enough,
to fling at him.
Strether almost wondered--at such a pace was
he going--if some divination of the influence of either party
were what determined Madame de Vionnet's abstention. One of
the gentlemen, in any case, succeeded in placing himself in
close relation with our friend's companion;
a gentleman rather
stout and importantly short, in a hat with a wonderful wide
curl to its brim and a frock coat buttoned with an effect of
superlative decision
.  





He sank again upon his bench and, while his eyes followed the
party,
reflected, as he had done before, on Chad's strange
communities. He sat there alone for five minutes, with plenty to
think of; above all
with his sense of having suddenly been dropped
by a charming woman overlaid now by other impressions and in fact
quite
cleared and indifferent. He hadn't yet had so quiet a
surrender;
he didn't in the least care if nobody spoke to him
more. He might have been, by his attitude, in for something of a
march so broad that the want of ceremony with which he had just
been used could fall into its place as but a minor incident of the
procession. Besides, there would be incidents enough, as he felt
when this term of
contemplation was closed by the reappearance of
little Bilham, who stood before him a moment with
a suggestive
"Well?" in which he saw himself reflected as disorganised, as
possibly floored.
He replied with a "Well!" intended to show that
he wasn't
floored in the least. No indeed; he gave it out, as the
young man sat down beside him, that
if, at the worst, he had been
overturned at all, he had been overturned into the upper air, the
sublimer element with which he had an affinity and in which he
might be trusted a while to float.
It wasn't a descent to earth to
say after an instant and in
sustained response to the reference:
"You're quite sure her husband's living?"






And when after this little Bilham, submissive and responsive, but
with an eye to the consolation nearest, easily threw off some
"Better late than never!" all he got in return for it was a sharp
"Better early than late!"
This note indeed the next thing
overflowed for Strether into a quiet stream of demonstration that
as soon as he had let himself go he felt as the real relief. It
had consciously gathered to a head, but the reservoir had filled
sooner than he knew, and his companion's touch was to make the
waters spread.
There were some things that had to come in time if
they were to come at all. If they didn't come in time they were
lost for ever. It was the general sense of them that had
overwhelmed him with its long slow rush.

"It's not too late for YOU, on any side, and you don't strike me
as in danger of missing the train; besides which people can be in
general pretty well trusted, of course--
with the clock of their
freedom ticking as loud as it seems to do here--to keep an eye on
the fleeting hour
. All the same don't forget that you're young--
blessedly young; be glad of it on the contrary and live up to it.
Live all you can; it's a mistake not to. It doesn't so much matter
what you do in particular, so long as you have your life. If you
haven't had that what HAVE you had? This place and these
impressions--mild as you may find them to wind a man up so; all my
impressions of Chad and of people I've seen at HIS place--well,
have had their abundant message for me, have just dropped THAT
into my mind. I see it now. I haven't done so enough before--
and now I'm old; too old at any rate for what I see. Oh I DO see,
at least; and more than you'd believe or I can express. It's too late.
And it's as if the train had fairly waited at the station for me
without my having had the gumption to know it was there.
Now I hear its faint receding whistle miles and miles down the line.
What one loses one loses; make no mistake about that. The affair--
I mean the affair of life--couldn't, no doubt, have been different
for me; for
it's at the best a tin mould, either fluted and embossed,
with ornamental excrescences, or else smooth and dreadfully plain,
into which, a helpless jelly, one's consciousness is poured--
so that one 'takes' the form as the great cook says, and is more
or less compactly held by it:
one lives in fine as one can.
Still, one has the illusion of freedom; therefore don't be, like me,
without the memory of that illusion. I was either, at the right time,
too stupid or too intelligent to have it; I don't quite know which.
Of course at present I'm a case of reaction against the mistake;
and the voice of reaction should, no doubt, always be taken with
an allowance. But that doesn't affect the point that the right time
is now yours. The right time is ANY time that one is still so lucky
as to have. You've plenty; that's the great thing;
you're, as I say,
damn you, so happily and hatefully young
. Don't at any rate miss things
out of stupidity. Of course I don't take you for a fool, or I
shouldn't be addressing you thus awfully. Do what you like so long
as you don't make MY mistake. For it was a mistake. Live!" . . .
Slowly and sociably, with full pauses and straight dashes,
Strether had so delivered himself; holding little Bilham
from step to step deeply and gravely attentive. The end of all was
that the young man had turned quite solemn, and that this was a
contradiction of the innocent gaiety the speaker had wished to
promote. He watched for a moment the consequence of his words,
and then, laying a hand on his listener's knee and as if to end
with the proper joke:
"And now for the eye I shall keep on you!"





"Impayable, as you say, no doubt. But what am I to myself?"
Strether had risen with this, giving his attention now to an
encounter that, in the middle of the garden, was in the act of
taking place between their host and the lady at whose side Madame
de Vionnet had quitted him. This lady, who appeared within a few
minutes to have left her friends, awaited Gloriani's eager
approach
with words on her lips that Strether couldn't catch, but
of which her interesting witty face seemed to give him the echo.
He was sure she was prompt and fine, but also that she had met her
match, and he liked--in the light of what he was quite sure was
the Duchess's latent insolence--the good humour with which the
great artist asserted equal resources. Were they, this pair, of
the "great world"?--and was he himself, for the moment and thus
related to them by his observation, IN it? Then there was
something in the great world covertly tigerish, which came to him
across the lawn and in the charming air as a waft from the jungle.
Yet it made him admire most of the two, made him envy, the glossy
male tiger, magnificently marked. These absurdities of the stirred
sense, fruits of suggestion ripening on the instant,
were all
reflected in his next words to little Bilham. "I know--if we talk
of that--whom I should enjoy being like!"


Little Bilham followed his eyes; but then as with a shade of knowing
surprise: "Gloriani?"

Our friend had in fact already hesitated, though not on the hint
of his companion's doubt, in which there were depths of critical
reserve. He had just made out, in the now full picture, something
and somebody else; another impression had been superimposed. A
young girl in a white dress and a softly plumed white hat had
suddenly come into view, and what was presently clear was that her
course was toward them. What was clearer still was that the
handsome young man at her side was Chad Newsome, and what was
clearest of all was that she was therefore Mademoiselle de Vionnet,
that
she was unmistakeably pretty--bright gentle shy happy
wonderful
--and that Chad now, with a consummate calculation
of effect, was about to present her to his old friend's vision.
What was clearest of all indeed was something much more than this,

something at the single stroke of which--and wasn't it simply
juxtaposition?--all vagueness vanished. It was the click of a
spring--he saw the truth.
He had by this time also met Chad's
look; there was more of it in that; and the truth, accordingly, so
far as Bilham's enquiry was concerned, had thrust in the answer.
"Oh Chad!"--it was that rare youth he should have enjoyed being
"like." The virtuous attachment would be all there before him; the
virtuous attachment would be in the very act of appeal for his blessing;
Jeanne de Vionnet, this charming creature, would be exquisitely,
intensely now--the object of it. Chad brought her straight up to him,
and Chad was, oh yes, at this moment--for the glory of Woollett or
whatever--better still even than Gloriani.
He had plucked this
blossom; he had kept it over-night in water; and at last as he held
it up to wonder he did enjoy his effect.
That was why Strether had
felt at first
the breath of calculation--and why moreover, as he
now knew, his look at the girl would be, for the young man, a sign
of the latter's success. What young man had ever paraded about that
way, without a reason, a maiden in her flower?
And there was
nothing in his reason at present obscure. Her type sufficiently
told of it--they wouldn't, they couldn't, want her to go to
Woollett. Poor Woollett, and what it might miss!--though brave Chad
indeed too, and what it might gain! Brave Chad however had just
excellently spoken. "This is a good little friend of mine who knows
all about you and has moreover a message for you. And this, my
dear"--he had turned to the child herself--"is the best man in the
world, who has it in his power to do a great deal for us and whom I
want you to like and revere as nearly as possible as much as I do."


She stood there quite pink, a little frightened, prettier and
prettier
and not a bit like her mother. There was in this last
particular no resemblance but that of youth to youth; and here was
in fact suddenly Strether's sharpest impression. It went wondering,
dazed, embarrassed, back to the woman he had just been talking
with; it was a revelation in the light of which he already saw she
would become more interesting.
So slim and fresh and fair, she had
yet put forth this perfection;
so that for really believing it of
her, for seeing her to any such developed degree as a mother,
comparison would be urgent. Well, what was it now but fairly thrust
upon him? "Mamma wishes me to tell you before we go," the girl
said, "that she hopes very much you'll come to see us very soon.
She has something important to say to you."






Strether himself almost held his breath. What was in the girl
was indeed too soft, too unknown for direct dealing; so that
one could only gaze at it as at a picture, quite staying one's
own hand.
But with Chad he was now on ground--Chad he could
meet;
so pleasant a confidence in that and in everything did
the young man freely exhale
. There was the whole of a story
in his tone to his companion, and he spoke indeed as if already
of the family. It made Strether guess the more quickly what
it might be about which Madame de Vionnet was so urgent. Having
seen him then she had found him easy; she wished to have it out
with him that some way for the young people must be discovered,
some way that would not impose as a condition the transplantation
of her daughter.
He already saw himself discussing with this lady
the attractions of Woollett as a residence for Chad's companion.
Was that youth going now to trust her with the affair--so that it
would be after all with one of his "lady-friends" that his mother's
missionary should be condemned to deal? It was quite as if for an
instant the two men looked at each other on this question.





He took the girl off as he had brought her, and Strether,
with
the faint sweet foreignness of her "Au revoir, monsieur!"
in his ears as a note almost unprecedented,
watched them
recede side by side and felt how, once more, her companion's
relation to her got an accent from it.



III


He had dropped back on his bench, alone again for a time, and
the more conscious for little Bilham's defection of his
unexpressed thought; in respect to which however
this next
converser was a still more capacious vessel
. "It's the child!"
he had exclaimed to her almost as soon as she appeared; and
though her direct response was for some time delayed he could feel
in her meanwhile the working of this truth. It might have been
simply, as she waited, that
they were now in presence altogether of
truth spreading like a flood and not for the moment to be offered
her in the mere cupful
;





It was a relief, Miss Gostrey hinted, to feel herself no longer
groping; she was unaccustomed to grope and as a general thing,
he might well have seen, made straight enough for her clue.
With the one she had now picked up in her hands
there need
be at least no waste of wonder
. "She's coming to see me--
that's for YOU," Strether's counsellor continued; "but I
don't require it to know where I am."

The waste of wonder might be proscribed; but Strether,
characteristically, was even by this time in the immensity of
space
. "By which you mean that you know where SHE is?"

She just hesitated. "I mean that if she comes to see me I shall--
now that I've pulled myself round a bit after the shock--not be at
home."


Strether hung poised. "You call it--your recognition--a shock?"

She gave one of her rare flickers of impatience. "It was a
surprise, an emotion. Don't be so literal. I wash my hands of her."


Poor Strether's face lengthened. "She's impossible--?"

"She's even more charming than I remembered her."

"Then what's the matter?"

She had to think how to put it. "Well, I'M impossible. It's
impossible. Everything's impossible."

He looked at her an instant. "I see where you're coming out.
Everything's possible." Their eyes had on it in fact an exchange of
some duration; after which he pursued: "Isn't it that beautiful
child?" Then as she still said nothing: "Why don't you mean to
receive her?"


Her answer in an instant rang clear. "Because I wish to keep out of
the business."

It provoked in him
a weak wail. "You're going to abandon me NOW?"

"No, I'm only going to abandon HER. She'll want me to help her with
you. And I won't."

"You'll only help me with her? Well then--!" Most of the persons
previously gathered had, in the interest of tea, passed into the
house, and they had the gardens mainly to themselves. The shadows
were long, the last call of the birds, who had made a home of their
own in
the noble interspaced quarter, sounded from the high trees
in the other gardens as well, those of the old convent and of the
old hotels; it was as if our friends had waited for the full charm
to come out. Strether's impressions were still present; it was as
if
something had happened that "nailed" them, made them more
intense
; but he was to ask himself soon afterwards, that evening,
what really HAD happened--conscious as he could after all remain
that for a gentleman taken, and taken the first time, into the
"great world," the world of ambassadors and duchesses,
the items
made a meagre total
. It was nothing new to him, however, as we
know, that a man might have--at all events such a man as he--an
amount of experience out of any proportion to his adventures; so
that, though it was doubtless no great adventure to sit on there
with Miss Gostrey and hear about Madame de Vionnet,
the hour, the
picture, the immediate, the recent, the possible--as well as the
communication itself, not a note of which failed to reverberate--
only gave the moments more of the taste of history
.





She would be of all mothers-in-law the most charming; unless indeed,
through some perversity as yet insupposeable, she should utterly
belie herself in that relation. There was none surely in which,
as Maria remembered her, she mustn't be charming; and this frankly
in spite of the stigma of failure in the tie where failure always
most showed. It was no test there--when indeed WAS it a test
there?--for Monsieur de Vionnet had been a brute. She had lived
for years apart from him--which was of course always a horrid
position; but Miss Gostrey's impression of the matter had been
that she could scarce have made a better thing of it had she
done it on purpose to show she was amiable. She was so amiable
that nobody had had a word to say; which was luckily not the
case for her husband. He was so impossible that she had the
advantage of all her merits.

It was still history for Strether that the Comte de Vionnet--it
being also history that the lady in question was a Countess--should
now,
under Miss Gostrey's sharp touch, rise before him as a high
distinguished polished impertinent reprobate
, the product of a
mysterious order; it was history, further, that the charming girl
so freely sketched by his companion should have been married out of
hand by a mother, another
figure of striking outline, full of dark
personal motive;
it was perhaps history most of all that this
company was, as a matter of course, governed by such considerations
as put divorce out of the question.
"Ces gens-la don't divorce, you
know, any more than they emigrate or abjure--they think it impious
and vulgar"
; a fact in the light of which they seemed but the more
richly special. It was all special; it was all, for Strether's
imagination, more or less rich. The girl at the Genevese school,
an
isolated interesting attaching creature, then both sensitive and
violent, audacious but always forgiven,
was the daughter of a
French father and an English mother who, early left a widow, had
married again--tried afresh with a foreigner; in her career with
whom she had apparently given her child no example of comfort. All
these people--the people of the English mother's side--had been of
condition more or less eminent; yet
with oddities and disparities
that had often since made Maria, thinking them over, wonder what
they really quite rhymed to
. It was in any case her belief that the
mother, interested and prone to adventure, had been without
conscience, had only thought of ridding herself most quickly of a
possible, an actual encumbrance. The father, by her impression, a
Frenchman with a name one knew, had been a different matter,
leaving his child, she clearly recalled, a memory all fondness, as
well as an assured little fortune which was unluckily to make her
more or less of a prey later on. She had been in particular, at
school,
dazzlingly, though quite booklessly, clever; as polyglot
as a little Jewess
(which she wasn't, oh no!) and chattering French,
English, German, Italian, anything one would, in a way that made a
clean sweep, if not of prizes and parchments, at least of every
"part," whether memorised or improvised, in the curtained costumed
school repertory, and in especial of all mysteries of race and
vagueness of reference, all swagger about "home," among their
variegated mates.


It would doubtless be difficult to-day, as between French and
English, to name her and place her; she would certainly show, on
knowledge, Miss Gostrey felt, as one of those convenient types who
don't keep you explaining--minds with doors as numerous as the
many-tongued cluster of confessionals at Saint Peter's
. You might
confess to her with confidence in Roumelian, and even Roumelian
sins. Therefore--! But Strether's narrator covered her implication
with a laugh; a laugh by which his betrayal of a sense of the lurid
in the picture was also perhaps sufficiently protected. He had a
moment of wondering, while his friend went on, what sins might be
especially Roumelian. She went on at all events to the mention of
her having met the young thing--again by some Swiss lake--in her
first married state, which had appeared for the few intermediate
years not at least violently disturbed. She had been lovely at that
moment, delightful to HER,
full of responsive emotion, of amused
recognitions and amusing reminders,
and then once more, much later,
after a long interval, equally but differently charming--touching
and rather mystifying for the five minutes of an encounter at a
railway-station en province, during which it had come out that her
life was all changed. Miss Gostrey had understood enough to see,
essentially, what had happened, and yet had beautifully dreamed
that she was herself faultless. There were doubtless depths in her,
but she was all right;






Miss Gostrey was on her feet; it was time for them to go. "She has
brought him up for her daughter."


Their eyes, as so often, in candid conference, through their
settled glasses, met over it long;
after which Strether's again
took in the whole place. They were quite alone there now. "Mustn't
she rather--in the time then--have rushed it?"

"Ah she won't of course have lost an hour. But that's just the good
mother--the good French one. You must remember that of her--that as
a mother she's French, and that for them there's a special
providence. It precisely however--that she mayn't have been able to
begin as far back as she'd have liked--makes her grateful for aid."


Strether took this in as they slowly moved to the house on their
way out. "She counts on me then to put the thing through?"

"Yes--she counts on you. Oh and first of all of course," Miss
Gostrey added, "on her--well, convincing you."

"Ah," her friend returned, "she caught Chad young!"

"Yes, but there are women who are for all your 'times of life.'
They're the most wonderful sort."

She had laughed the words out, but they brought her companion, the
next thing, to a stand. "Is what you mean that she'll try to make a
fool of me?"

"Well, I'm wondering what she WILL--with an opportunity--make."

"What do you call," Strether asked, "an opportunity? My going to
see her?"

"Ah you must go to see her"--Miss Gostrey was a trifle evasive.
"You can't not do that. You'd have gone to see the other woman. I
mean if there had been one--a different sort. It's what you came
out for."

It might be; but Strether distinguished. "I didn't come out to see
THIS sort."

She had a wonderful look at him now. "Are you disappointed she
isn't worse?"

He for a moment entertained the question, then found for it the
frankest of answers. "Yes. If she were worse she'd be better for
our purpose. It would be simpler."

"Perhaps," she admitted. "But won't this be pleasanter?"

"Ah you know," he promptly replied, "I didn't come out--wasn't that
just what you originally reproached me with?--for the pleasant."


"Precisely. Therefore I say again what I said at first. You must
take things as they come. Besides," Miss Gostrey added, "I'm not
afraid for myself."

"For yourself--?"

"Of your seeing her. I trust her. There's nothing she'll say about
me. In fact there's nothing she CAN."

Strether wondered--little as he had thought of this. Then he broke
out. "Oh you women!"

There was something in it at which she flushed. "Yes--there we are.

We're abysses." At last she smiled. "But I risk her!"





Our friend saw in his companion's move a fear of the advent of
Waymarsh. It was the first time Chad had to that extent given
this personage "away"; and Strether found himself wondering of
what it was symptomatic. He made out in a moment that the youth
was in earnest as he hadn't yet seen him; which in its turn
threw a ray perhaps a trifle startling on what they had each
up to that time been treating as earnestness. It was sufficiently
flattering however that the real thing--if this WAS at last the
real thing--should have been determined, as appeared, precisely
by an accretion of Strether's importance.
For this was what it
quickly enough came to--that Chad, rising with the lark, had
rushed down to let him know while his morning consciousness
was yet young that he had literally made the afternoon before
a tremendous impression. Madame de Vionnet wouldn't, couldn't
rest till she should have some assurance from him that he
WOULD consent again to see her. The announcement was
made,
across their marble-topped table, while the foam of the hot
milk was in their cups and its plash still in the air, with the
smile of Chad's easiest urbanity; and this expression of his face
caused our friend's doubts to gather on the spot into a challenge
of the lips. "See here"
--that was all; he only for the moment said
again "See here." Chad met it with all his air of straight
intelligence, while Strether remembered again that fancy of the
first impression of him,
the happy young Pagan, handsome and hard
but oddly indulgent, whose mysterious measure he had under the
street-lamp tried mentally to take.
The young Pagan, while a long
look passed between them, sufficiently understood. Strether scarce
needed at last to say the rest--"I want to know where I am." But he
said it, adding before any answer something more. "Are you engaged
to be married--is that your secret?--to the young lady?"

Chad shook his head with the slow amenity that was one of his ways
of conveying that there was time for everything.
"I have no secret--
though I may have secrets! I haven't at any rate that one. We're
not engaged. No."

"Then where's the hitch?"

"Do you mean why I haven't already started with you?" Chad,
beginning his coffee and buttering his roll, was quite ready to
explain. "Nothing would have induced me--nothing will still induce
me--not to try to keep you here as long as you can be made to stay.
It's too visibly good for you." Strether had himself plenty to say
about this, but
it was amusing also to measure the march of Chad's
tone.
He had never been more a man of the world, and it was always
in his company present to our friend that one was seeing how in
successive connexions a man of the world acquitted himself. Chad
kept it up beautifully. "My idea--voyons!--is simply that you
should let Madame de Vionnet know you, simply that you should
consent to know HER.
I don't in the least mind telling you that,
clever and charming as she is, she's ever so much in my confidence.
All I ask of you is to let her talk to you. You've asked me about
what you call my hitch, and so far as it goes she'll explain it to
you. She's herself my hitch, hang it--if you must really have it
all out. But in a sense," he hastened in the most wonderful manner
to add, "that you'll quite make out for yourself. She's too good a
friend, confound her. Too good, I mean, for me to leave without--
without--" It was his first hesitation.

"Without what?"

"Well, without my
arranging somehow or other the damnable terms of
my sacrifice."


"It WILL be a sacrifice then?"

"It will be the greatest loss I ever suffered. I owe her so much."

It was beautiful, the way Chad said these things, and his plea was
now confessedly--oh quite flagrantly and publicly--interesting. The
moment really took on for Strether an intensity. Chad owed Madame
de Vionnet so much? What DID that do then but clear up the whole
mystery?
He was indebted for alterations, and she was thereby in a
position to have sent in her bill for expenses incurred in
reconstruction
. What was this at bottom but what had been to be
arrived at?
Strether sat there arriving at it while he munched
toast and stirred his second cup
. To do this with the aid of Chad's
pleasant earnest face was also to do more besides. No, never before
had he been so ready to take him as he was. What was it that had
suddenly so cleared up? It was just everybody's character; that is
everybody's but--in a measure--his own.
Strether felt HIS character
receive for the instant a smutch from all the wrong things he had
suspected or believed
. The person to whom Chad owed it that he
could positively turn out such a comfort to other persons--such a
person was sufficiently raised above any "breath" by the nature of
her work and the young man's steady light.
All of which was vivid
enough to come and go quickly; though indeed in the midst of it
Strether could utter a question. "Have I your word of honour that
if I surrender myself to Madame de Vionnet you'll surrender
yourself to me?"

Chad laid his hand firmly on his friend's. "My dear man, you have
it."

There was finally something in his felicity almost embarrassing and
oppressive--Strether had begun to fidget under it for the open air
and the erect posture.
He had signed to the waiter that he wished
to pay, and this transaction took some moments, during which he
thoroughly felt, while he put down money and pretended--it was
quite hollow--to estimate change, that
Chad's higher spirit, his
youth, his practice, his paganism, his felicity, his assurance, his
impudence, whatever it might be, had consciously scored a success.

Well, that was all right so far as it went; his sense of the thing
in question covered our friend for a minute like a veil through
which--as if he had been muffled--he heard his interlocutor ask him
if he mightn't take him over about five. "Over" was over the river,
and over the river was where Madame de Vionnet lived, and five was
that very afternoon.





"And what is it that makes them so good?"

"What? Well, that's exactly what you'll make out if you'll only go,
as I'm supplicating you, to see her."

Strether stared at him with a little of the wanness, no doubt, that
the vision of more to "make out" could scarce help producing
. "I
mean HOW good are they?"

"Oh awfully good."

Again Strether had faltered, but it was brief. It was all very
well, but there was nothing now he wouldn't risk. "Excuse me, but I
must really--as I began by telling you--know where I am. Is she
bad?"

"'Bad'?"--Chad echoed it, but without a shock. "Is that what's
implied--?"

"When relations are good?" Strether felt a little silly, and was
even conscious of a foolish laugh, at having it imposed on him to
have appeared to speak so. What indeed was he talking about? His
stare had relaxed; he looked now all round him. But something in
him brought him back, though he still didn't know quite how to turn
it. The two or three ways he thought of, and one of them in
particular, were, even with scruples dismissed, too ugly. He none
the less at last found something. "Is her life without reproach?"

It struck him, directly he had found it, as pompous and priggish;
so much so that he was thankful to Chad for taking it only in the
right spirit. The young man spoke so immensely to the point that
the effect was practically of positive blandness. "Absolutely
without reproach. A beautiful life. Allez donc voir!"

These last words were, in the liberality of their confidence, so
imperative that Strether went through no form of assent;




               Book 6


I


She occupied, his hostess, in the Rue de Bellechasse, the first
floor of an old house to which our visitors had had access from
an old clean court.
The court was large and open, full of
revelations, for our friend, of the habit of privacy, the peace
of intervals, the dignity of distances and approaches; the house,
to his restless sense, was in the high homely style of an elder
day, and the ancient Paris that he was always looking for--
sometimes intensely felt, sometimes more acutely missed--was
in the immemorial polish of the wide waxed staircase and in the
fine boiseries, the medallions, mouldings, mirrors, great clear
spaces, of the greyish-white salon
into which he had been shown.
He seemed at the very outset to see her in the midst of

possessions not vulgarly numerous, but hereditary cherished
charming
. While his eyes turned after a little from those
of his hostess and Chad freely talked--not in the least about HIM,
but about other people, people he didn't know, and quite as if he
did know them--he found himself
making out, as a background of the
occupant, some glory, some prosperity of the First Empire, some
Napoleonic glamour, some dim lustre of the great legend; elements
clinging still to all the consular chairs and mythological brasses
and sphinxes' heads and faded surfaces of satin striped with
alternate silk.


The place itself went further back--that he guessed, and how old
Paris continued in a manner to echo there; but the post-revolutionary
period, the world he vaguely thought of as
the world of Chateaubriand,
of Madame de Stael, even of the young Lamartine, had left its stamp of
harps and urns and torches, a stamp impressed on sundry small objects,
ornaments and relics. He had never before, to his knowledge, had
present to him relics, of any special dignity, of a private order--
little old miniatures, medallions, pictures, books; books in leather
bindings, pinkish and greenish, with gilt garlands on the back, ranged,
together with other promiscuous properties, under the glass of
brass-mounted cabinets. His attention took them all tenderly into account
.
They were among the matters that marked Madame de Vionnet's
apartment as something quite different from Miss Gostrey's little museum
of bargains and from Chad's lovely home; he recognised it as
founded
much more on old accumulations that had possibly from time to time
shrunken than on any contemporary method of acquisition or form of
curiosity. Chad and Miss Gostrey had rummaged and purchased and picked
up and exchanged, sifting, selecting, comparing; whereas the mistress of
the scene before him, beautifully passive under the spell of
transmission--transmission from her father's line, he quite made up
his mind--had only received, accepted and been quiet.
When she
hadn't been quiet she had been moved at the most to some occult
charity for some fallen fortune. There had been objects she or her
predecessors might even conceivably have parted with under need,
but Strether couldn't suspect them of having sold old pieces to get
"better" ones. They would have felt no difference as to better or
worse. He could but imagine their having felt--perhaps in
emigration, in proscription, for his sketch was slight and
confused--the pressure of want or the obligation of sacrifice.


The pressure of want--whatever might be the case with the other
force--was, however, presumably not active now, for
the tokens of a
chastened ease
still abounded after all, many marks of a taste
whose discriminations might perhaps have been called eccentric. He
guessed at
intense little preferences and sharp little exclusions,
a deep suspicion of the vulgar and a personal view of the right.
The general result of this was something for which he had no name
on the spot quite ready, but something he would have come nearest
to naming in speaking of it as the air of supreme respectability,
the consciousness, small, still, reserved, but none the less
distinct and diffused, of private honour. The air of supreme
respectability--that was a strange blank wall for his adventure to
have brought him to break his nose against. It had in fact, as he
was now aware, filled all the approaches, hovered in the court as
he passed, hung on the staircase as he mounted, sounded in the
grave rumble of the old bell, as little electric as possible, of
which Chad, at the door, had pulled the ancient but neatly-kept
tassel; it formed in short the clearest medium of its particular
kind that he had ever breathed.
He would have answered for it at
the end of a quarter of an hour that some of the
glass cases
contained swords and epaulettes of ancient colonels and generals;
medals and orders once
pinned over hearts that had long since
ceased to beat; snuff-boxes bestowed on ministers and envoys;
copies of works
presented, with inscriptions, by authors now
classic. At bottom of it all for him was the sense of her rare
unlikeness
to the women he had known. This sense had grown, since
the day before, the more he
recalled her, and had been above all
singularly fed by his talk with Chad in the morning. Everything in
fine
made her immeasurably new, and nothing so new as the old house
and the
old objects. There were books, two or three, on a small
table near his chair, but they hadn't the
lemon-coloured covers
with which his eye had begun to
dally from the hour of his arrival
and to the opportunity of a
further acquaintance with which he had
for a fortnight now
altogether succumbed. On another table, across
the room, he made out the great Revue; but even that familiar face,
conspicuous in Mrs. Newsome's parlours, scarce counted here as a
modern note. He was sure on the spot--and he afterwards knew he was
right--that this was a touch of Chad's own hand. What would Mrs.
Newsome say to the circumstance that Chad's interested "influence"
kept her paper-knife in the Revue? The interested influence at any
rate had, as we say, gone straight to the point--had in fact soon
left it quite behind.

She was seated, near the fire, on a small stuffed and fringed chair
one of the few
modern articles in the room, and she leaned back in
it with her hands
clasped in her lap and no movement, in all her
person, but
the fine prompt play of her deep young face. The fire,
under the
low white marble, undraped and academic, had burnt down
to the
silver ashes of light wood, one of the windows, at a
distance,
stood open to the mildness and stillness, out of which,
in the short
pauses, came the faint sound, pleasant and homely,
almost
rustic, of a plash and a clatter of sabots from some
coach-house on the other side of the court.
Madame de Vionnet,
while Strether sat there, wasn't to shift her posture by an inch.
"I don't think you seriously believe in what you're doing," she
said; "but all the same, you know, I'm going to treat you quite as
if I did."

"By which you mean," Strether directly replied, "quite as if you
didn't! I assure you it won't make the least difference with me how
you treat me."

"Well," she said, taking that menace bravely and philosophically enough,
"the only thing that really matters is that you shall get on with me."

"Ah but I don't!" he immediately returned.

It gave her another pause; which, however, she happily enough shook
off
. "Will you consent to go on with me a little--provisionally--
as if you did?"

Then it was that he saw how she had decidedly come all the way; and
there accompanied it an extraordinary sense of her raising from
somewhere below him
her beautiful suppliant eyes. He might have
been
perched at his door-step or at his window and she standing in
the road. For a moment he let her stand and couldn't moreover have
spoken. It had been sad, of a sudden, with a sadness that was like
a cold breath in his face
. "What can I do," he finally asked, "but
listen to you as I promised Chadwick?"

"Ah but what I'm asking you," she quickly said, "isn't what Mr.
Newsome had in mind." She spoke at present, he saw, as if to take
courageously ALL her risk. "This is my own idea and a different
thing."

It gave poor Strether in truth--
uneasy as it made him too--
something of
the thrill of a bold perception justified. "Well," he
answered
kindly enough, "I was sure a moment since that some idea
of your own had come to you."

She seemed
still to look up at him, but now more serenely. "I made
out
you were sure--and that helped it to come. So you see," she
continued, "we do
get on."

"Oh but it appears to me I don't at all meet your request. How can
I when I don't understand it?"

"It isn't at all necessary you should understand; it will do quite
well enough if you simply remember it.
Only feel I trust you--and
for nothing so tremendous after all. Just," she said with a
wonderful smile, "for common civility."


Strether had a long pause while they sat again face to face, as
they had sat, scarce less conscious, before the poor lady had
crossed the stream. She was the poor lady for Strether now because
clearly she had some trouble, and her appeal to him could only mean
that her trouble was deep
. He couldn't help it; it wasn't his
fault; he had done nothing; but by a turn of the hand she had
somehow made their encounter a relation. And
the relation profited
by a mass of things that were not strictly in it or of it; by the
very air in which they sat, by the high cold delicate room, by the
world outside and the little plash in the court, by the First
Empire and the relics in the stiff cabinets, by matters as far off
as those and by others as near as the unbroken clasp of her hands
in her lap and the look her expression had of being most natural
when her eyes were most fixed.
"You count upon me of course for
something really much greater than it sounds."

"Oh it sounds great enough too!" she laughed at this.

He found himself in time on the point of telling her that she was,
as Miss Barrace called it, wonderful; but, catching himself up, he
said something else instead. "What was it Chad's idea then that you
should say to me?"

"Ah his idea was simply what a man's idea always is--to put every
effort off on the woman."

"The 'woman'--?" Strether slowly echoed.

"The woman he likes--and just in proportion as he likes her. In
proportion too--for shifting the trouble--as she likes HIM."

Strether
followed it; then with an abruptness of his own:
"How much do you like Chad?"

"Just as much as THAT--to take all, with you, on myself."
But she
got at once again away from this. "I've been trembling as if we
were to
stand or fall by what you may think of me; and I'm even
now," she
went on wonderfully, "drawing a long breath--and, yes,
truly
taking a great courage--from the hope that I don't in fact
strike you as impossible."

"That's at all events, clearly," he observed after an instant, "the
way I don't
strike YOU."

"Well," she so far assented, "as you haven't yet said you WON'T
have the little patience with me I ask for--"

"You draw splendid conclusions? Perfectly. But I don't understand
them," Strether pursued. "You seem to me to ask for much more than
you need. What, at the worst for you, what at the best for myself,
can I after all do? I can use no pressure that I haven't used. You
come really late with your
request. I've already done all that for
myself the case
admits of. I've said my say, and here I am."

"Yes, here you are, fortunately!" Madame de Vionnet laughed. "Mrs.
Newsome," she
added in another tone, "didn't think you can do so
little."

He had an
hesitation, but he brought the words out. "Well, she
thinks so now."

"Do you mean by that--?" But she also
hung fire.

"Do I mean what?"

She still rather
faltered. "Pardon me if I touch on it, but if I'm
saying extraordinary things, why, perhaps, mayn't I? Besides,
doesn't it properly
concern us to know?"

"To know what?" he
insisted as after thus beating about the bush
she had again
dropped.

She
made the effort. "Has she given you up?"

He was
amazed afterwards to think how simply and quietly he had met
it. "Not yet." It was almost as if he were a
trifle disappointed--
had
expected still more of her freedom. But he went straight on.
"Is that what Chad has told you will happen to me?"

She was evidently charmed with the way he took it. "If you mean if
we've talked of it--most certainly. And the question's not what has
had least to do with my
wishing to see you."

"To judge if I'm the sort of man a woman CAN--?"

"Precisely," she exclaimed--"you wonderful gentleman! I do judge--I
HAVE judged. A woman can't. You're safe--with every right to be.

You'd be much happier if you'd only believe it."

Strether was silent a little; then he found himself speaking with a
cynicism of confidence of which even at the moment the sources were
strange to him. "I try to believe it. But it's a marvel," he
exclaimed, "how YOU already get at it!"

-------------------------------------------------------------

At the back of his head, behind everything, was the sense that
she was--there, before him, close to him, in
vivid imperative
form--one of the
rare women he had so often heard of, read of,
thought of, but never met, whose very presence, look, voice,
the mere contemporaneous FACT of whom, from the moment it was
at all presented, made a relation of mere recognition
. That was
not the kind of woman he had ever found Mrs. Newsome,
a
contemporaneous fact who had been distinctly slow to establish
herself
; and at present, confronted with Madame de Vionnet, he
felt the
simplicity of his original impression of Miss Gostrey.
She certainly had been a fact of
rapid growth; but the world
was wide, each day was more and more a new lesson. There were
at any rate even among the stranger ones relations and relations.
"Of course I suit Chad's grand way," he quickly added. "He hasn't
had much difficulty in working me in."

She seemed to deny a little, on the young man's behalf, by the rise
of her eyebrows, an
intention of any process at all inconsiderate.
"You must know how
grieved he'd be if you were to lose anything. He
believes you can
keep his mother patient."

Strether wondered with his eyes on her. "I see. THAT'S then what
you really want of me. And how am I to do it? Perhaps you'll tell
me that."

"Simply tell her the truth."

"And what do you call the
truth?"

"Well, any truth--about us all--that you
see yourself. I leave it
to you."

"Thank you very much. I
like," Strether laughed with a slight
harshness
, "the way you leave things!"

But she
insisted kindly, gently, as if it wasn't so bad. "Be
perfectly honest. Tell her all."

"All?" he oddly echoed.

"Tell her the simple truth," Madame de Vionnet again pleaded.

"But what is the simple truth? The simple truth is exactly what I'm
trying to discover."

She looked about a while, but presently she came back to him. "Tell
her, fully and clearly, about US."

Strether meanwhile had been staring. "You and your daughter?"

"Yes--little Jeanne and me. Tell her," she just slightly quavered,
"you like us."

"And what good will that do me? Or rather"--he
caught himself up--
"what good will it do YOU?"

She
looked graver. "None, you believe, really?"

Strether
debated. "She didn't send me out to 'like' you."

"Oh," she
charmingly contended, "she sent you out to face the
facts."


He admitted after an instant that there was something in that. "But
how can I face them till I know what they are? Do you want him," he
then braced himself to ask, "to marry your daughter?"

She gave a headshake as noble as it was prompt. "No--not that."

"And he really doesn't want to himself?"

She repeated the movement, but now with a strange light in her
face
. "He likes her too much."

Strether wondered. "To be willing to consider, you mean, the
question of taking her to America?"

"To be willing to do anything with her but be immensely kind and
nice--really tender of her. We watch over her, and you must help
us. You must see her again."

Strether felt awkward. "Ah with pleasure--she's so remarkably
attractive."

The mother's eagerness with which Madame de Vionnet jumped at this
was to come back to him later as
beautiful in its grace. "The dear
thing DID please you?"
Then as he met it with the largest "Oh!" of
enthusiasm: "She's perfect. She's my joy."

-------------------------------------------------------------

"Tell her I've been good for him. Don't you think I have?"

It had its effect on him--more than at the moment he quite measured.
Yet he was
consciously enough touched. "Oh if it's all you--!"

"Well, it may not be 'all,'" she
interrupted, "but it's to a great
extent.
Really and truly," she added in a tone that was to take its
place with him among things remembered.

"Then it's very
wonderful." He smiled at her from a face that he
felt as
strained, and her own face for a moment kept him so. At
last she also got up. "Well, don't you think that for that--"

"I ought to save you?" So it was that the way to meet her--and the
way, as well, in a manner, to
get off--came over him. He heard
himself use the
exorbitant word, the very sound of which helped to
determine his flight. "I'll save you if I can."



II



Strether knew well enough with what Chad wished him to compare it,
and though he entirely assented he hadn't yet somehow been so
deeply reminded that he was being, as he constantly though mutely
expressed it, used. He was as far as ever from making out exactly
to what end; but he was none the less constantly accompanied by a
sense of the service he rendered. He conceived only that this
service was highly agreeable to those who profited by it; and he
was indeed still waiting for the moment at which he should catch it
in the act of proving disagreeable, proving in some degree
intolerable, to himself. He failed quite to see how his situation
could clear up at all logically except by some turn of events that
would
give him the pretext of disgust. He was building from day to
day on the possibility of disgust
, but each day brought forth
meanwhile a new and more engaging bend of the road.
That
possibility was now ever so much further from sight than on the eve
of his arrival, and he perfectly felt that, should it come at all,
it would have to be at best inconsequent and violent. He struck
himself as a little nearer to it only when he asked himself what
service, in such a life of utility, he was after all rendering
Mrs. Newsome. When he wished to help himself to believe that he was
still all right he reflected--and in fact with wonder--on the
unimpaired frequency of their correspondence; in relation to which
what was after all more natural than that it should become more
frequent just in proportion as their problem became more complicated?

Certain it is at any rate that he now often brought himself balm by
the question, with the rich consciousness of yesterday's letter,
"Well, what can I do more than that--what can I do more than tell
her everything?" To persuade himself that he did tell her, had told
her, everything, he used to try to think of particular things he
hadn't told her.
When at rare moments and in the watches of the
night he pounced on one it generally showed itself to be--to a
deeper scrutiny--not quite truly of the essence.
When anything new
struck him as coming up, or anything already noted as reappearing,
he always immediately wrote, as if for fear that if he didn't he
would miss something; and also that he might be able to say to
himself from time to time "She knows it NOW--even while I worry."
It was a great comfort to him in general
not to have left past
things to be dragged to light and explained
; not to have to produce
at so late a stage anything not produced,
or anything even veiled
and attenuated
, at the moment. She knew it now: that was what he
said to himself to-night in relation to the fresh fact of Chad's
acquaintance with the two ladies--not to speak of the fresher one
of his own. Mrs. Newsome knew in other words that very night at
Woollett that he himself knew Madame de Vionnet and that he had
conscientiously been to see her; also that he had found her
remarkably attractive and that there would probably be a good deal
more to tell. But she further knew, or would know very soon, that,
again conscientiously, he hadn't repeated his visit;




"Oh but I'm not a little foreign girl; I'm just as English as I can be,"
Jeanne de Vionnet had said to him as soon as, in the petit salon,

he sank, shyly enough on his own side, into the place near her
vacated by Madame Gloriani at his approach. Madame Gloriani,
who was in black velvet, with
white lace and powdered hair, and
whose somewhat massive majesty melted, at any contact, into the
graciousness of some incomprehensible tongue,
moved away to make
room for the
vague gentleman, after benevolent greetings to him
which
embodied, as he believed, in baffling accents, some
recognition of his face from a couple of Sundays before. Then he
had remarked--making the most of the advantage of his years--that
it frightened him quite enough to find himself dedicated to the
entertainment of a little foreign girl. There were girls he wasn't
afraid of--he was quite bold with little Americans. Thus it was
that she had defended herself to the end--"Oh but I'm almost
American too. That's what mamma has wanted me to be--I mean LIKE
that; for she has wanted me to have lots of freedom. She has known
such good results from it."


She was fairly beautiful to him--a faint pastel in an oval frame:
he thought of her already as of some lurking image in a long
gallery,
the portrait of a small old-time princess of whom nothing
was known but that she had
died young. Little Jeanne wasn't,
doubtless, to die young, but one couldn't, all the same, bear on
her lightly enough.
It was bearing hard, it was bearing as HE, in
any case, wouldn't bear, to
concern himself, in relation to her,
with the question of a
young man. Odious really the question of a
young man; one didn't treat such a person as a maid-servant
suspected of a "follower." And then young men, young men--well, the
thing was their business simply, or was at all events hers.
She was
fluttered, fairly fevered--to the point of a little glitter that
came and went in her eyes and a pair of pink spots that stayed in
her cheeks
--with the great adventure of dining out and with the
greater one still, possibly, of finding a gentleman whom she must
think of as
very, very old, a gentleman with eye-glasses, wrinkles,
a long grizzled moustache. She spoke the prettiest English, our
friend thought, that he had ever heard spoken, just as he had
believed her a few minutes before to be speaking the
prettiest
French.
He wondered almost wistfully if such a sweep of the lyre
didn't react on the spirit itself;
and his fancy had in fact,
before he knew it, begun so to stray and embroider that he finally
found himself, absent and extravagant, sitting with the child in a
friendly silence. Only by this time he felt her flutter to have
fortunately dropped and that she was more at her ease. She trusted
him, liked him, and it was to come back to him afterwards that she
had told him things.
She had dipped into the waiting medium at last
and found neither surge nor chill--nothing but the small splash she
could herself make in the pleasant warmth, nothing but the safety
of dipping and dipping again.
At the end of the ten minutes he was
to spend with her his
impression--with all it had thrown off and
all it had
taken in--was complete. She had been free, as she knew
freedom, partly to show him that, unlike other little persons she
knew, she had
imbibed that ideal. She was delightfully quaint about
herself, but the vision of what she had
imbibed was what most held
him. It really consisted, he was soon enough to feel, in just one
great little matter, the fact that, whatever her nature, she was
thoroughly--he had to cast about for the word, but it came--bred
.
He couldn't of course on so short an acquaintance speak for her
nature, but the idea of breeding was what she had meanwhile dropped
into his mind. He had never yet known it so sharply presented. Her
mother gave it, no doubt; but her mother, to make that less sensible,
gave so much else besides, and on neither of the two previous occasions,
extraordinary woman, Strether felt, anything like what she was giving
tonight. Little Jeanne was a case, an exquisite case of education;
whereas the Countess, whom it so amused him to think of by that
denomination, was a case, also exquisite, of--well, he didn't know what.




The artist used that word the next moment smiling courteously,
wiping his nippers and looking round him further--paying the
place in short by the very manner of his presence and by
something Strether fancied he could make out in this particular
glance, such a tribute as, to the latter's sense, settled many
things once for all. Strether was conscious at this instant,
for that matter, as he hadn't yet been, of how, round about
him, quite without him, they WERE consistently settled.
Gloriani's smile, deeply Italian, he considered, and finely
inscrutable, had had for him, during dinner, at which they
were not neighbours, an indefinite greeting; but the quality in
it was gone that had appeared on the other occasion to turn him
inside out; it was as if even the momentary link supplied by
the doubt between them had snapped. He was conscious now of
the final reality, which was that there wasn't so much a doubt
as a difference altogether; all the more that over the difference
the famous sculptor
seemed to signal almost condolingly, yet oh how
vacantly! as across some great flat sheet of water. He threw out
the bridge of a charming hollow civility on which Strether wouldn't
have trusted his own full weight a moment.
That idea, even though
but transient and perhaps belated, had performed the office of
putting Strether more at his ease, and the blurred picture had
already dropped--dropped with the sound of something else said and
with his becoming aware, by another quick turn, that Gloriani was
now on the sofa talking with Jeanne, while he himself
had in his
ears again the familiar friendliness and the elusive meaning of the
"Oh, oh, oh!"
that had made him, a fortnight before, challenge Miss
Barrace in vain.
She had always the air, this picturesque and
original lady, who struck him, so oddly, as both antique and
modern--she had always the air of taking up some joke that one had
already had out with her
. The point itself, no doubt, was what was
antique, and the use she made of it what was modern. He felt just
now that her good-natured irony did bear on something, and it
troubled him a little that she wouldn't be more explicit
only
assuring him, with the pleasure of observation so visible in her,
that she wouldn't tell him more for the world
. He could take refuge
but in asking her what she had done with Waymarsh, though it must
be added that he felt himself a little on the way to a clue after
she had answered that this personage was, in the other room,
engaged in conversation with Madame de Vionnet.
He stared a moment
at the image of such a conjunction;



-------------------------------------------------------------

Strether understood, so far as that went; but he was feeling for
his clue. "She strikes you to-night as particularly magnificent?"

"Surely. Almost as I've never seen her. Doesn't she you?
Why it's FOR you."

He persisted in his candour. "'For' me--?"

"Oh, oh, oh!" cried Miss Barrace, who persisted in the opposite of
that quality.

"Well," he acutely admitted, "she IS different. She's gay. "

"She's gay!" Miss Barrace laughed. "And she has beautiful
shoulders--though there's nothing different in that."

"No," said Strether,
"one was sure of her shoulders.
It isn't her shoulders."

His companion, with renewed mirth and the finest sense, between
the puffs of her cigarette, of the drollery of things, appeared to
find their conversation highly delightful.
"Yes, it isn't
her shoulders ."

"What then is it?" Strether earnestly enquired.

"Why, it's SHE--simply. It's her mood. It's her charm."

"Of course it's her charm, but we're speaking of the difference."
"Well," Miss Barrace explained, "she's just brilliant, as we used
to say. That's all.
She's various. She's fifty women."

"Ah but only one"--Strether kept it clear--"at a time."

"Perhaps. But in fifty times--!"

"Oh we shan't come to that," our friend declared; and the next
moment he had moved in another direction. "Will you answer me a
plain question? Will she ever divorce?"

Miss Barrace looked at him through all her tortoise-shell. "Why
should she?"

It wasn't what he had asked for, he signified; but he met it well
enough. "To marry Chad."

"Why should she marry Chad?"

"Because I'm convinced she's very fond of him. She has done wonders
for him."

"Well then, how could she do more? Marrying a man, or woman
either," Miss Barrace sagely went on, "is never the wonder for any
Jack and Jill can bring THAT off. The wonder is their doing such
things without marrying."


Strether considered a moment this proposition. "You mean it's so
beautiful for our friends simply to go on so?"

But whatever he said made her laugh. "Beautiful."

-------------------------------------------------------------

"I hope you at any rate," she pursued with a quick change,
"appreciate the care I take of Mr. Waymarsh."

"Oh immensely." But Strether was not yet in line. "At all events,"
he roundly brought out, "the attachment's an innocent one."

"Mine and his? Ah," she laughed, "don't rob it of ALL interest!"

"I mean our friend's here--to the lady we've been speaking of."
That was what he had settled to as an indirect but none the less
closely involved consequence of his impression of Jeanne. That was
where he meant to stay. "It's innocent," he repeated--"I see the
whole thing."

Mystified by his abrupt declaration, she had glanced over at
Gloriani as at the unnamed subject of his allusion, but the next
moment she had understood; though indeed not before Strether had
noticed her momentary mistake and wondered what might possibly be
behind that too. He already knew that the sculptor admired Madame
de Vionnet; but did this admiration also represent an attachment of
which the innocence was discussable? He was moving verily in a
strange air and on ground not of the firmest. He looked hard for an
instant at Miss Barrace, but she had already gone on. "All right
with Mr. Newsome? Why of course she is!"--and she got gaily back
to the question of her own good friend. "I dare say you're
surprised that I'm not worn out with all I see--it being so much!--
of Sitting Bull. But I'm not, you know--I don't mind him; I bear
up
, and we get on beautifully. I'm very strange; I'm like that; and
often I can't explain. There are people who are supposed
interesting or remarkable or whatever, and who bore me to death;
and then there are others as to whom nobody can understand what
anybody sees in them--in whom I see no end of things." Then after
she had smoked a moment, "He's touching, you know," she said.

"'Know'?" Strether echoed--"don't I, indeed? We must move you
almost to tears."

"Oh but I don't mean YOU!" she
laughed.

"You ought to then, for the worst sign of all--as I must have it
for you--is that you can't help me. That's when a woman pities."

"Ah but I do help you!" she cheerfully insisted.

Again he looked at her hard, and then after a pause: "No you
don't!"

Her tortoise-shell, on its long chain, rattled down. "I help you
with Sitting Bull. That's a good deal."

"Oh that, yes." But Strether hesitated. "Do you mean he talks of
me?"

"So that I have to defend you? No, never.'

"I see," Strether mused. "It's too deep."

"That's his only fault," she returned--"that everything, with him,
is too
deep. He has depths of silence--which he breaks only at the
longest intervals by a remark. And when the remark comes it's
always something he has
seen or felt for himself--never a bit banal
THAT would be what one might have
feared and what would kill me But
never." She
smoked again as she thus, with amused complacency,
appreciated her acquisition. "And never about you. We keep clear of
you. We're wonderful. But I'll tell you what he does do," she
continued: "he tries to make me presents."

"Presents?" poor Strether echoed, conscious with a pang that HE
hadn't yet tried that in any quarter.

"Why you see," she explained, "he's as fine as ever in the
victoria; so that when I leave him, as I often do almost for hours
--he likes it so--at the doors of shops, the sight of him there
helps me, when I come out, to know my carriage away off in the
rank. But sometimes, for a change, he goes with me into the shops,
and then I've all I can do to prevent his buying me things."

"He wants to 'treat' you?" Strether almost gasped at all he himself
hadn't thought of. He had a sense of admiration. "Oh he's much more
in the real tradition than I. Yes," he mused, "it's the sacred rage."

"The sacred rage, exactly!"--and Miss Barrace, who hadn't before
heard this term
applied, recognised its bearing with a clap of her
gemmed hands. "Now I do know why he's not banal. But I do prevent
him all the same--and if you saw what he sometimes selects--from
buying. I save him hundreds and hundreds. I only take flowers."

"Flowers?" Strether echoed again with a rueful reflexion. How many
nosegays had her present converser sent?

"Innocent flowers," she pursued, "as much as he likes. And he sends
me splendours; he knows all the best places--he has found them for
himself; he's wonderful."



III



Madame de Vionnet, having meanwhile come in, was at present
close to them, and Miss Barrace hereupon, instead of risking a
rejoinder, became again with a look that measured her from top to
toe all mere long-handled appreciative tortoise-shell
. She had
struck our friend, from the first of her appearing, as dressed for
a
great occasion, and she met still more than on either of the
others the c
onception reawakened in him at their garden-party, the
idea of the femme du monde in her habit as she lived.
Her bare
shoulders and arms were white and beautiful; the materials of her
dress, a mixture, as he supposed, of silk and crape, were of a
silvery grey so artfully composed as to give an impression of warm
splendour; and round her neck she wore a collar of large old
emeralds, the green note of which was more dimly repeated, at other
points of her apparel, in embroidery, in enamel, in satin, in
substances and textures vaguely rich. Her head, extremely fair and
exquisitely festal, was like a happy fancy, a notion of the
antique, on an old precious medal, some silver coin of the
Renaissance; while her slim lightness and brightness, her gaiety,
her expression, her decision, contributed to an effect that might
have been felt by a poet as half mythological and half conventional.
He could have compared her to a goddess still partly engaged
in a morning cloud, or to a sea-nymph waist-high in the summer surge.

Above all she suggested to him the reflexion that the femme du monde--
in these
finest developments of the type--was, like Cleopatra
in the play, indeed various and multifold. She had aspects, characters,
days, nights
--or had them at least, showed them by a mysterious law
of her own, when in addition to everything she happened also to be
a woman of
genius. She was an obscure person, a muffled person one day,
and a showy person, an uncovered person the next
. He thought of
Madame de Vionnet to-night as
showy and uncovered, though he felt
the formula
rough, because, thanks to one of the short-cuts of genius,
she had taken all his categories by surprise. Twice during dinner
he had
met Chad's eyes in a longish look; but these communications
had in truth only
stirred up again old ambiguities--so little was it
clear from them whether they were an appeal or an admonition.
"You
see how I'm fixed," was what they appeared to convey; yet how
he was
fixed was exactly what Strether didn't see. However, perhaps
he should see now.




Madame de Vionnet listened with interest and with her eyes on
Strether's face; then her delicately decorated head had a small
melancholy motion
. "She didn't write to ME. I went to see her," she
added, "almost immediately after I had seen you, and as I assured
her I would do when I met her at Gloriani's. She hadn't then told
me she was to be absent, and I felt at her door as if I understood.
She's absent--with all respect to her sick friend, though I know
indeed she has
plenty--so that I may not see her. She doesn't want
to meet me again. Well," she continued with a
beautiful conscious
mildness
, "I liked and admired her beyond every one in the old
time, and she knew it--perhaps that's
precisely what has made her go--
and I dare say I haven't
lost her for ever." Strether still said
nothing; he had a
horror, as he now thought of himself, of being
in question between women--was in fact already quite enough on his
way to that, and there was moreover, as it came to him,
perceptibly,
something behind these
allusions and professions that, should he
take it in, would
square but ill with his present resolve to simplify.
It was as if, for him, all the same,
her softness and sadness
were sincere
. He felt that not less when she soon went on:
"I'm extremely
glad of her happiness." But it also left him mute--
sharp and fine though the imputation it conveyed. What it conveyed
was that HE was Maria Gostrey's
happiness, and for the least little
instant he had the impulse to
challenge the thought. He could have
done so however only by saying "What then do you
suppose to be
between us?" and he was
wonderfully glad a moment later not to have
spoken. He would rather seem
stupid any day than fatuous, and he
drew back as well, with a smothered inward shudder, from the
consideration of what women--of highly-developed type in particular--
might think of each other. Whatever he had come out for he hadn't
come to
go into that; so that he absolutely took up nothing his
interlocutress had now
let drop. Yet, though he had kept away from her
for days, had laid wholly on herself the burden of their meeting again,
she
hadn't a gleam of irritation to show him. "Well, about Jeanne now?"
she smiled--it had the gaiety with which she had originally come in.
He felt it on the instant to represent her motive and real errand.
But he had been schooling her of a truth to say much in proportion to
his little. "Do you make out that she has a sentiment? I mean for
Mr. Newsome."

Almost
resentful, Strether could at last be prompt. "How can I make
out
such things?"

She
remained perfectly good-natured. "Ah but they're beautiful
little things, and you make out--don't pretend--everything in the
world. Haven't you,"
she asked, "been talking with her?"

"Yes, but not about Chad. At least not much."

"Oh you don't require 'much'!" she reassuringly declared. But she
immediately changed her ground. "I hope you remember your promise
of the other day."

"To 'save' you, as you called it?"

"I call it so still. You WILL?" she insisted. "You haven't repented?"

He wondered. "No--but I've been thinking what I meant."

She kept it up. "And not, a little, what I did?"

"No--that's not necessary. It will be enough if I know what I
meant myself."

"And don't you know," she asked, "by this time?"

Again he had a pause. "I think you ought to leave it to me.
But how long," he added, "do you give me?"

"It seems to me much more a question of how long you give ME.
Doesn't our friend here himself, at any rate," she went on,
"perpetually make me present to you?"

"Not," Strether replied, "by ever speaking of you to me."

"He never does that?"

"Never."

She considered, and, if the fact was disconcerting to her,
effectually concealed it. The next minute indeed she had recovered.
"No, he wouldn't. But do you NEED that?"

Her emphasis was wonderful, and though his eyes had been wandering
he looked at her longer now. "I see what you mean."


"Of course you see what I mean."

Her triumph was gentle, and she really had tones to make justice
weep.
"I've before me what he owes you."

-------------------------------------------------------------

She raised and dropped her linked hands. "It doesn't matter. If I
trust you why can't you a little trust me too? And why can't you
also," she asked in another tone, "trust yourself?" But she gave
him no time to reply. "Oh I shall be so easy for you! And I'm glad
at any rate you've seen my child."

"I'm glad too," he said; "but she does you no good."

"No good?"--Madame de Vionnet had a clear stare. "Why she's an
angel of light."


"That's precisely the reason. Leave her alone. Don't try to find
out. I mean," he explained, "about what you spoke to me of--
the way she feels."


His companion wondered. "Because one really won't?"

"Well, because I ask you, as a favour to myself, not to. She's the
most charming creature I've ever seen. Therefore don't touch her.
Don't know--don't want to know. And moreover--yes--you won't."


It was an appeal, of a sudden, and she took it in. "As a favour to you?"

"Well--since you ask me."

"Anything, everything you ask," she smiled. "I shan't know then--never.
Thank you," she added with peculiar gentleness as she turned away.

The sound of it lingered with him, making him fairly feel as if he
had been tripped up and had a fall. In the very act of arranging
with her for his independence he had, under pressure from a
particular perception, inconsistently, quite stupidly, committed
himself, and, with her subtlety sensitive on the spot to an
advantage, she had driven in by a single word a little golden nail,
the sharp intention of which he signally felt. He hadn't detached,
he had more closely connected himself, and his eyes, as he
considered with some intensity this circumstance, met another pair
which had just come within their range and which struck him as
reflecting his sense of what he had done.
He recognised them at the
same moment as those of little Bilham, who had apparently
drawn
near on purpose to speak to him, and little Bilham wasn't, in the
conditions, the person to whom his heart would be most
closed.
They were seated together a minute later at the angle of the room
obliquely opposite the corner in which Gloriani was still engaged
with Jeanne de Vionnet, to whom at first and in silence their
attention had been benevolently given. "I can't see for my life,"
Strether had then observed, "how a young fellow of any spirit--such
a one as you for instance--can be admitted to the sight of that
young lady without being hard hit
. Why don't you go in, little
Bilham?" He remembered the tone into which he had been betrayed on
the garden-bench at the sculptor's reception, and this might make
up for that by being much more the right sort of thing to say to a
young man worthy of any advice at all. "There WOULD be some
reason."

"Some reason for what?"

"Why for hanging on here."

"To offer my hand and fortune to Mademoiselle de Vionnet?"

"Well," Strether asked, "to what lovelier apparition COULD you
offer them?
She's the sweetest little thing I've ever seen."

"She's certainly
immense. I mean she's the real thing. I believe
the pale pink petals are folded up there for some wondrous
efflorescence in time; to open, that is, to some great golden sun.
I'M unfortunately but a small farthing candle. What chance in such
a field for a poor little painter-man?"


"Oh you're good enough," Strether threw out.

"Certainly I'm good enough. We're good enough, I consider, nous
autres, for anything. But she's TOO good. There's the difference.
They wouldn't look at me."

Strether, lounging on his divan and still charmed by the young
girl, whose eyes had
consciously strayed to him, he fancied, with a
vague smile--Strether, enjoying the whole occasion as with dormant
pulses at last awake and in spite of new material thrust upon him
,
thought over his companion's words. "Whom do you mean by 'they'?
She and her mother?"

"She and her mother. And she has a father too, who, whatever else
he may be, certainly can't be indifferent to the possibilities she
represents. Besides, there's Chad."

Strether was silent a little. "Ah but he doesn't care for her--not,
I mean, it appears, after all, in the sense I'm speaking of. He's
NOT in
love with her."

"No--but he's her best friend; after her mother. He's very fond
of her. He has his ideas about what can be done for her."

"Well, it's very
strange!" Strether presently remarked with a
sighing sense of fulness.

"Very
strange indeed. That's just the beauty of it. Isn't it very
much the kind of
beauty you had in mind," little Bilham went on,
"when you were so
wonderful and so inspiring to me the other day?
Didn't you
adjure me, in accents I shall never forget, to see,
while I've a chance, everything I can?--and REALLY to see, for it
must have been that only you
meant. Well, you did me no end of
good, and I'm doing my best. I DO make it out a situation."

"So do I!" Strether went on after a moment. But he had the next minute
an
inconsequent question. "How comes Chad so mixed up, anyway?"

"Ah, ah, ah!"--and little Bilham
fell back on his cushions.

It
reminded our friend of Miss Barrace, and he felt again the brush
of his sense of moving in a maze of mystic closed allusions
. Yet he
kept hold of his thread. "Of course I understand really; only the
general transformation makes me occasionally gasp. Chad with such a
voice in the settlement of the future of a little countess--no,"
he declared, "it takes more time! You say moreover," he resumed, "that
we're inevitably, people like you and me, out of the running. The
curious fact remains that Chad himself isn't. The situation doesn't
make for it, but in a different one he could have her if he would."

"Yes, but that's only because he's rich and because there's a
possibility of his being richer. They won't think of anything but a
great name or a great fortune."

"Well," said Strether, "he'll have no great fortune on THESE lines.
He must
stir his stumps."

"Is that," little Bilham enquired, "what you were saying to
Madame de Vionnet?"

"No--I don't say much to her. Of course, however," Strether
continued, "he can make sacrifices if he likes."

Little Bilham had a pause. "Oh he's not keen for sacrifices; or
thinks, that is, possibly, that he has made enough."

"Well, it IS
virtuous," his companion observed with some decision.

"That's exactly," the young man
dropped after a moment, "what I mean."

It kept Strether himself
silent a little. "I've made it out for
myself," he then went on; "I've really, within the last half-hour,
got hold of it. I understand it in short at last; which at first--
when you originally spoke to me--I didn't. Nor when Chad originally
spoke to me either."

"Oh," said little Bilham, "I don't think that at that time you
believed me."

"Yes--I did; and I believed Chad too. It would have been odious and
unmannerly--as well as quite perverse--if I hadn't. What interest
have you in deceiving me?"

The young man cast about. "What interest have I?"

"Yes. Chad MIGHT have. But you?"

"Ah, ah, ah!" little Bilham exclaimed.

It might, on repetition, as a mystification, have irritated our
friend a little, but he knew, once more, as we have seen, where he
was, and his being
proof against everything was only another
attestation that he meant to stay there. "I couldn't, without my
own
impression, realise. She's a tremendously clever brilliant
capable
woman, and with an extraordinary charm on top of it all--
the
charm we surely all of us this evening know what to think of.
It isn't every
clever brilliant capable woman that has it. In fact
it's
rare with any woman. So there you are," Strether proceeded as
if not for little Bilham's
benefit alone. "I understand what a
relation with such a woman--what such a
high fine friendship--
may be. It can't be
vulgar or coarse, anyway--and that's the point."

"Yes, that's the point," said little Bilham. "It can't be
vulgar or
coarse. And, bless us and save us, it ISn't! It's, upon my word,
the very
finest thing I ever saw in my life, and the most
distinguished."

-------------------------------------------------------------

"She began, that is, to care--to care very much. Alone, and in her
horrid position, she found it, when once she had started, an
interest. It was, it is, an interest, and it did--it continues to
do--a lot for herself as well. So she still cares. She cares in
fact," said little Bilham thoughtfully "more."

Strether's theory that it was none of his business was somehow not
damaged by the way he took this. "More, you mean, than he?" On
which his companion looked round at him, and now for an instant
their eyes met. "More than he?" he repeated.

Little Bilham, for as long, hung fire. "Will you never tell any
one?"

Strether thought. "Whom should I tell?"

"Why I supposed you reported regularly--"

"To people at home?"--Strether took him up. "Well, I won't tell
them this."

The young man at last looked away. "Then she does now care more
than he."

"Oh!" Strether oddly exclaimed.

But his companion immediately met it. "Haven't you after all had
your impression of it? That's how you've got hold of him."


"Ah but I haven't got hold of him!"

"Oh I say!" But it was all little Bilham said.

"It's at any rate none of my business. I mean," Strether explained,
"nothing else than getting hold of him is." It appeared, however,
to strike him as his business to add: "The fact remains
nevertheless that she has saved him."

Little Bilham just waited. "I thought that was what you were to do."

But Strether had his answer ready. "I'm speaking--in connexion with
her--of his manners and morals, his character and life. I'm
speaking of him as a person to deal with and talk with and live
with--speaking of him as a social animal."


"And isn't it as a social animal that you also want him?"

"Certainly; so that it's as if she had saved him FOR us."

"It strikes you accordingly then," the young man threw out, "as for
you all to save HER?"

"Oh for us 'all'--!" Strether could but laugh at that. It brought
him back, however, to the point he had really wished to make.
"They've accepted their situation--hard as it is. They're not free
--at least she's not; but they take what's left to them. It's a
friendship, of a beautiful sort; and that's what makes them so
strong. They're straight, they feel; and they keep each other up.
It's doubtless she, however, who, as you yourself have hinted,
feels it most."

Little Bilham appeared to wonder what he had hinted. "Feels most
that they're straight?"

"Well, feels that SHE is, and the strength that comes from it. She
keeps HIM up--she keeps the whole thing up. When people are able to
it's fine. She's wonderful, wonderful, as Miss Barrace says; and he
is, in his way, too; however, as a mere man, he may sometimes rebel
and not feel that he finds his account in it.
She has simply given
him an immense moral lift, and what that can explain is prodigious.

That's why I speak of it as a situation. It IS one, if there ever
was." And Strether, with his head back and his eyes on the ceiling,
seemed to lose himself in the vision of it.


His companion attended deeply. "You state it much better than I
could."

"Oh you see it doesn't concern you."

-------------------------------------------------------------

"So that they can't marry?"

The young man waited a moment. "Not being able to marry is all
they've with any confidence to look forward to.
A woman--a
particular woman--may stand that strain. But can a man?" he
propounded.

Strether's answer was as prompt as if he had already, for himself,
worked it out. "Not without a very high ideal of conduct. But
that's just what we're attributing to Chad. And how, for that
matter," he mused, "does his going to America diminish the
particular strain? Wouldn't it seem rather to add to it?"

"Out of sight out of mind!" his companion laughed. Then more
bravely: "Wouldn't distance lessen the torment?" But before
Strether could reply, "The thing is, you see, Chad ought to marry!"

he wound up.

Strether, for a little, appeared to think of it. "If you talk of
torments you don't diminish mine!" he then broke out. The next
moment he was on his feet with a question. "He ought to marry
whom?"

Little Bilham rose more slowly. "Well, some one he CAN--some
thoroughly nice girl "

Strether's eyes, as they stood together, turned again to Jeanne.
"Do you mean HER?"

His friend made a sudden strange face. "After being in love with
her mother? No."


"But isn't it exactly your idea that he ISn't in love with her
mother?"

His friend once more had a pause. "Well, he isn't at any rate in
love with Jeanne."

"I dare say not."

"How CAN he be with any other woman?"

"Oh that I admit. But being in love isn't, you know, here"--little
Bilham spoke in friendly reminder--"thought necessary, in strictness,
for marriage."

"And what torment--to call a torment--can there ever possibly be
with a woman like that?" As if from the interest of his own
question Strether had gone on without hearing. "Is it for her to
have turned a man out so wonderfully, too, only for somebody else?"
He appeared to make a point of this, and little Bilham looked at
him now. "When it's for each other that people give things up they
don't miss them." Then he threw off as with an extravagance of
which he was conscious: "Let them face the future together!"

Little Bilham looked at him indeed. "You mean that after all he
shouldn't go back?"

"I mean that if he gives her up--!"

"Yes?"

"Well, he ought to be ashamed of himself." But Strether spoke with
a sound that might have passed for a laugh.





               Book 7


I


It wasn't the first time Strether had sat alone in the great dim
church--still less was it the first of his giving himself up, so
far as conditions permitted, to its beneficent action on his
nerves. He had been to Notre Dame with Waymarsh, he had been there
with Miss Gostrey, he had been there with Chad Newsome, and had
found the place, even in company, such a refuge from the obsession
of his problem that, with renewed pressure from that source, he had
not unnaturally recurred to a remedy meeting the case, for the
moment, so indirectly, no doubt, but so relievingly. He was
conscious enough that
it was only for the moment, but good moments--
if he could call them good--still had their value for a man who by
this time struck himself as living almost disgracefully from hand
to mouth.
Having so well learnt the way, he had lately made the
pilgrimage more than once by himself--had quite stolen off, taking
an unnoticed chance and making no point of speaking of the
adventure when restored to his friends.

His great friend, for that matter, was still absent, as well as
remarkably silent; even at the end of three weeks Miss Gostrey
hadn't come back. She wrote to him from Mentone, admitting that he
must judge her grossly inconsequent--perhaps in fact for the time
odiously faithless; but asking for patience, for a deferred
sentence, throwing herself in short on his generosity.
For her too,
she could assure him, life was complicated--more complicated than
he could have guessed; she had moreover made certain of him--
certain of not wholly missing him on her return--before her
disappearance. If furthermore she didn't burden him with letters it
was frankly because of her sense of the other great commerce he had
to carry on. He himself, at the end of a fortnight, had written
twice, to show how his generosity could be trusted; but he reminded
himself in each case of Mrs. Newsome's epistolary manner at the
times when Mrs. Newsome kept off delicate ground.





This small struggle sprang not a little, in its way, from the same
impulse that had now carried him across to Notre Dame; the impulse
to let things be, to give them time to justify themselves or at
least to pass. He was aware of having no errand in such a place but
the desire not to be, for the hour, in certain other places; a
sense of safety, of simplification, which each time he yielded to
it he amused himself by thinking of as a private concession to
cowardice. The great church had no altar for his worship, no direct
voice for his soul; but it was none the less soothing even to
sanctity; for he could feel while there what he couldn't elsewhere,
that he was a plain tired man taking the holiday he had earned. He
was tired, but he wasn't plain--that was the pity and the trouble
of it; he was able, however, to drop his problem at the door very
much as if it had been the copper piece that he deposited, on the
threshold, in the receptacle of the inveterate blind beggar.
He
trod the long dim nave, sat in the splendid choir, paused before
the cluttered chapels of the east end, and the mighty monument laid
upon him its spell.
He might have been a student under the charm of
a museum--which was exactly what, in a foreign town, in the
afternoon of life, he would have liked to be free to be. This form
of sacrifice did at any rate for the occasion as well as another;
it made him quite sufficiently understand
how, within the precinct,
for the real refugee, the things of the world could fall into
abeyance. That was the cowardice, probably--to dodge them, to beg
the question, not to deal with it in the hard outer light; but his
own oblivions were too brief, too vain, to hurt any one but
himself,
and he had a vague and fanciful kindness for certain
persons whom he met, figures of mystery and anxiety, and whom, with
observation for his pastime, he ranked as those who were fleeing
from justice.
Justice was outside, in the hard light, and injustice
too; but one was as absent as the other from the air of the long
aisles and the brightness of the many altars.


Thus it was at all events that, one morning some dozen days after
the dinner in the Boulevard Malesherbes at which Madame de Vionnet
had been present with her daughter, he was called upon to play his
part in an encounter that deeply stirred his imagination. He had
the habit, in these contemplations, of watching a fellow visitant,
here and there, from a respectable distance,
remarking some note of
behaviour, of penitence, of prostration, of the absolved, relieved
state; this was the manner in which his vague tenderness took its
course,
the degree of demonstration to which it naturally had to
confine itself. It hadn't indeed so felt its responsibility as when
on this occasion he suddenly
measured the suggestive effect of a
lady whose supreme stillness, in the shade of one of the chapels,
he had two or three times noticed as he made, and made once more,
his slow circuit. She wasn't prostrate--not in any degree bowed,
but she was strangely fixed, and her prolonged immobility showed
her, while he passed and paused, as wholly given up to the need,

whatever it was, that had brought her there. She only sat and gazed
before her, as he himself often sat; but she had
placed herself, as
he never did, within the
focus of the shrine, and she had lost
herself, he could easily see, as he would only have liked to do.
She was not a
wandering alien, keeping back more than she gave, but
one of the
familiar, the intimate, the fortunate, for whom these
dealings had a method and a meaning. She reminded our friend--since
it was the way of nine tenths of his current impressions to act as
recalls of things imagined--of
some fine firm concentrated heroine
of an old story, something he had heard, read, something that, had
he had a hand for drama, he might himself have written,
renewing
her courage, renewing her clearness, in splendidly-protected
meditation.
Her back, as she sat, was turned to him, but his
impression absolutely required that she should be
young and
interesting, and she carried her head moreover, even in the sacred
shade
, with a discernible faith in herself, a kind of implied
conviction
of consistency, security, impunity. But what had such a
woman come for if she hadn't come to pray? Strether's reading of
such matters was, it must be owned, confused; but he wondered
if
her attitude were some congruous fruit of absolution, of
"indulgence." He knew but dimly what indulgence, in such a place,
might mean; yet he had, as with a soft sweep, a vision of how it
might indeed add to the zest of active rites. All this was a good
deal to have been denoted by a mere lurking figure
who was nothing
to him; but, the last thing before leaving the church, he had the

surprise of a still deeper quickening.

He had dropped upon a seat halfway down the nave and, again in the
museum mood, was trying with head thrown back and eyes aloft,
to reconstitute a past
, to reduce it in fact to the convenient terms
of Victor Hugo, whom, a few days before,
giving the rein for once
in a way to the joy of life, he had
purchased in seventy bound volumes,
a miracle of cheapness, parted with, he was assured by the shopman,
at the price of the red-and-gold alone.
He looked, doubtless, while he
played his eternal nippers over Gothic glooms, sufficiently rapt in
reverence; but what his thought had finally bumped against was the
question of where, among packed accumulations, so multiform a wedge
would be able to enter
. Were seventy volumes in red-and-gold to be
perhaps what he should most
substantially have to show at Woollett
as the fruit of his mission? It was a possibility that
held him a
minute--held him till he happened to feel that some one,
unnoticed,
had
approached him and paused. Turning, he saw that a lady stood
there as for a greeting, and he
sprang up as he next took her,
securely, for Madame de Vionnet, who appeared to have recognised
him as she passed near him on her way to the door. She
checked,
quickly and gaily, a certain confusion in him, came to meet it,
turned it back, by an art of her own; the confusion having
threatened him as he knew her for the person he had lately been
observing. She was the lurking figure of the dim chapel; she had
occupied him more than she guessed; but it came to him in time,
luckily, that he needn't tell her and that no harm, after all, had
been done. She herself, for that matter,
straightway showing she
felt their
encounter as the happiest of accidents, had for him a
"You come here too?" that
despoiled surprise of every awkwardness.

"I come often," she said. "I love this place, but I'm terrible, in
general, for churches. The old women who live in them all know me;
in fact I'm already myself one of the old women. It's like that, at
all events, that I foresee I shall end." Looking about for a chair,
so that he instantly pulled one nearer, she sat down with him again
to the sound of an "Oh, I
like so much your also being fond--!"

He
confessed the extent of his feeling, though she left the object
vague; and he was struck with the tact, the taste of her vagueness,
which simply took for granted in him a sense of beautiful things.
He was conscious of how much it was affected, this sense, by
something subdued and discreet in the way she had arranged herself
for her special object and her morning walk--he believed her to
have come on foot; the way her slightly thicker veil was drawn--a
mere touch, but everything; the composed gravity of her dress, in
which, here and there, a dull wine-colour seemed to gleam faintly
through black; the charming discretion of her small compact head;
the quiet note, as she sat, of her folded, grey-gloved hands. It
was, to Strether's mind, as if she sat on her own ground, the light
honours of which, at an open gate, she thus easily did him, while
all the vastness and mystery of the domain stretched off behind.
When people were so completely in possession they could be
extraordinarily civil; and our friend had indeed at this hour a
kind of revelation of her heritage.
She was romantic for him far
beyond what she could have guessed, and again he found his small
comfort in the conviction that, subtle though she was, his
impression must remain a secret from her. The thing that, once
more, made him uneasy for secrets in general was this particular
patience she could have with his own want of colour; albeit that on
the other hand his
uneasiness pretty well dropped after he had been
for ten minutes as
colourless as possible and at the same time as
responsive.

The moments had already, for that matter, drawn their deepest tinge
from the special interest excited in him by his vision of his
companion's identity with the person whose attitude before the
glimmering altar had so impressed him.
This attitude fitted
admirably into the stand he had privately taken about her connexion
with Chad on the last occasion of his seeing them together. It
helped him to stick fast at the point he had then reached; it was
there he had resolved that he WOULD stick, and at no moment since
had it seemed as easy to do so. Unassailably innocent was a
relation that could make one of the parties to it so
carry herself.
If it wasn't
innocent why did she haunt the churches?--into which,
given the woman he could believe he made out, she would never have
come to
flaunt an insolence of guilt. She haunted them for
continued help, for
strength, for peace--sublime support which, if
one were able to look at it so, she found from day to day
. They
talked, in low easy tones and with lifted lingering looks,
about
the great monument and its history and its beauty--all of which,
Madame de Vionnet professed, came to her most in the other, the
outer view. "We'll presently, after we go," she said, "walk round
it again if you like. I'm not in a particular hurry, and it will be
pleasant to look at it well with you." He had spoken of the great
romancer and the great romance, and of what, to his imagination,
they had done for the whole,
mentioning to her moreover the
exorbitance of his purchase, the seventy blazing volumes that were
so
out of proportion.

"
Out of proportion to what?"

"Well, to any other
plunge." Yet he felt even as he spoke how at
that instant he was
plunging. He had made up his mind and was
impatient to get into the air; for his purpose was a purpose to be
uttered outside, and he had a fear that it might with delay still
slip away from him. She however took her time; she drew out their
quiet gossip as if she had wished to profit by their meeting, and
this
confirmed precisely an interpretation of her manner, of her
mystery. While she rose, as he would have called it, to the
question of Victor Hugo, her voice itself,
the light low quaver of
her deference to the solemnity about them,
seemed to make her words
mean something that they didn't mean openly. Help, strength, peace,
a sublime support--she hadn't found so much of these things as that
the amount wouldn't be sensibly greater for any scrap his
appearance of faith in her might enable her to feel in her hand.
Every little, in a long strain, helped, and if he happened to
affect her as a firm object she could hold on by, he wouldn't jerk
himself out of her reach.
People in difficulties held on by what
was
nearest, and he was perhaps after all not further off than
sources of
comfort more abstract. It was as to this he had made up
his
mind; he had made it up, that is, to give her a sign. The sign
would be that--though it was her own affair--he
understood; the
sign would be that--though it was her own affair--she was
free to
clutch. Since she took him for a firm object--much as he might to
his own sense appear at times to rock--he would do his best to BE one.


The end of it was that half an hour later they were seated together
for an early luncheon at a
wonderful, a delightful house of
entertainment on the left bank--a place of pilgrimage for the
knowing, they were both aware, the knowing who came, for its great
renown
, the homage of restless days, from the other end of the
town.
Strether had already been there three times--first with Miss
Gostrey, then with Chad, then with Chad again and with Waymarsh and
little Bilham, all of whom he had himself sagaciously entertained;
and his
pleasure was deep now on learning that Madame de Vionnet
hadn't yet been
initiated.




"Ah, let me explain," she smiled, "that I don't go about with him
in public; I never have such chances--not having them otherwise--
and it's just the sort of thing that, as a quiet creature living in
my hole
, I adore." It was more than kind of him to have thought of
it--though, frankly, if he asked whether she had time she hadn't a
single minute. That however made no difference--she'd throw
everything
over. Every duty at home, domestic, maternal, social,
awaited her; but it was a case for a high line. Her affairs would
go to smash, but hadn't one a right to one's snatch of scandal when
one was prepared to pay? It was on this pleasant basis of costly
disorder, consequently, that they eventually seated themselves, on
either side of a small table, at a window adjusted to the busy quay
and the shining barge-burdened Seine; where, for an hour, in the
matter of letting himself go, of diving deep, Strether was to feel
he had touched bottom.
He was to feel many things on this occasion,
and one of the first of them was that he had
travelled far since
that evening in London, before the theatre, when his dinner with
Maria Gostrey, between the
pink-shaded candles, had struck him as
requiring so many explanations. He had at that time gathered them
in, the explanations--he had stored them up; but it was at present
as if he had either soared above or sunk below them--he couldn't
tell which; he could somehow think of none that didn't seem to
leave the appearance of collapse and cynicism easier for him than
lucidity. How could he wish it to be lucid for others, for any one,
that he, for the hour, saw reasons enough in the mere way the
bright clean ordered water-side life came in at the open window?--
the mere way Madame de Vionnet, opposite him over their intensely
white table-linen, their omelette aux tomates, their bottle of
straw-coloured Chablis, thanked him for everything almost with the
smile of a child, while her grey eyes moved in and out of their
talk, back to the quarter of the warm spring air, in which early
summer had already begun to throb, and then back again to his face
and their human questions.


Their human questions became many before they had done--many more,
as one after the other came up, than our friend's free fancy had at
all foreseen. The sense he had had before, the sense he had had
repeatedly, the sense that the situation was running away with him,
had never been so sharp as now; and all the more that he could
perfectly put his finger on the moment it had taken the bit in its
teeth.
That accident had definitely occurred, the other evening,
after Chad's dinner; it had occurred, as he fully knew, at the
moment when he interposed between this lady and her child, when he
suffered himself so to discuss with her a matter closely concerning
them that her own
subtlety, marked by its significant "Thank you!"
instantly sealed the occasion in her favour. Again he had held off
for ten days, but the situation had continued out of hand in spite
of that; the fact that it was running so fast being indeed just WHY
he had held off. What had come over him as he recognised her in the
nave of the church was that
holding off could be but a losing game
from the instant she
was worked for not only by her subtlety, but
by the hand of fate itself. If all the accidents were to
fight on
her side--and by the
actual showing they loomed large--he could
only
give himself up. This was what he had done in privately
deciding then and there to propose she should breakfast with him.
What did the
success of his proposal in fact resemble but the smash
in which a
regular runaway properly ends? The smash was their walk,
their dejeuner, their omelette, the Chablis, the place, the view,
their present talk and his present pleasure in it--to say nothing,
wonder of wonders, of her own. To this tune and nothing less,
accordingly, was his surrender made good. It sufficiently lighted
up at least the folly of holding off. Ancient proverbs sounded, for
his memory, in the tone of their words and the clink of their
glasses, in the hum of the town and the plash of the river. It WAS
clearly better to suffer as a sheep than as a lamb. One might as
well perish by the sword as by famine.


"Maria's still away?"--that was the first thing she had asked him;
and when he had found the frankness to be cheerful about it in
spite of the meaning he knew her to attach to Miss Gostrey's
absence, she had gone on to enquire if he didn't tremendously miss
her. There were reasons that made him by no means sure, yet he
nevertheless answered "Tremendously"; which she took in as if it
were all she had wished to prove. Then, "A man in trouble MUST be
possessed somehow of a woman," she said; "if she doesn't come in
one way she comes in another."

"Why do you call me a man in trouble?"

"Ah because that's the way you
strike me." She spoke ever so gently
and as if with all fear of wounding him while she sat partaking of
his bounty. "AREn't you in trouble?"

He felt himself colour at the question, and then hated that--hated
to pass for anything so idiotic as woundable. Woundable by Chad's
lady, in respect to whom he had come out with such a fund of
indifference--was he already at that point?
Perversely, none the
less, his
pause gave a strange air of truth to her supposition; and
what was he in fact but
disconcerted at having struck her just in
the way he had most
dreamed of not doing? "I'm not in trouble yet,"
he at last
smiled. "I'm not in trouble now."

"Well, I'm always so. But that you
sufficiently know." She was a
woman who, between courses, could be
graceful with her elbows
on the table. It was a posture unknown to Mrs. Newsome, but it was
easy for a femme du monde. "Yes--I am 'now'!"

"There was a question you put to me," he presently returned, "the
night of Chad's dinner. I didn't answer it then, and it has been
very
handsome of you not to have sought an occasion for pressing me
about it since."

She was
instantly all there. "Of course I know what you allude to.
I asked you what you had
meant by saying, the day you came to see
me, just before you
left me, that you'd save me. And you then said
--at our friend's--that you'd have really to wait to see, for
yourself, what you did
mean."

"Yes, I
asked for time," said Strether. "And it sounds now, as you
put it, like a very ridiculous speech."

"Oh!" she
murmured--she was full of attenuation. But she had
another thought. "If it does
sound ridiculous why do you deny that
you're in trouble?"

"Ah if I were," he replied, "it wouldn't be the
trouble of fearing
ridicule
. I don't fear it."

"What then do you?"


"Nothing--now." And he leaned back in his chair.

"I like your 'now'!" she laughed across at him
.

-------------------------------------------------------------

"Yes; I see that, practically, I've done for you--had done for you
when you put me your question--all that it's as yet possible to me
to do. I feel now," he went on, "that it may go further than I
thought. What I did after my visit to you," he explained, "was to
write straight off to Mrs. Newsome about you, and I'm at last, from
one day to the other,
expecting her answer. It's this answer that
will
represent, as I believe, the consequences."

Patient and beautiful was her interest. "I see--the consequences of
your
speaking for me." And she waited as if not to hustle him.

He
acknowledged it by immediately going on. "The question, you
understand, was HOW I should
save you. Well, I'm trying it by thus
letting her know that I
consider you worth saving."

"I see--I see." Her
eagerness broke through.

"How can I thank you enough?" He couldn't tell her that, however,
and she quickly pursued. "You do really, for yourself, consider
it?"

His only answer at first was to help her to the dish that had been
freshly put before them. "I've written to her again since then--
I've left her in no doubt of what I think. I've told her all about
you."

"Thanks--not so much. 'All about' me," she went on--"yes."

"All it seems to me you've done for him."

"Ah and you might have added all it seems to ME!" She laughed
again, while she took up her knife and fork, as in the cheer of
these assurances. "But you're not sure how she'll take it."

"No, I'll not pretend I'm sure."

"Voila." And she waited a moment. "I wish you'd tell me about her."

"Oh," said Strether with a slightly strained smile, "all that
need concern you about her is that she's really a grand person."

Madame de Vionnet seemed to demur. "Is that all that need concern
me about her?"


But Strether neglected the question. "Hasn't Chad talked to you?"

"Of his mother? Yes, a great deal--immensely. But not from your
point of view."

"He can't," our friend returned, "have said any ill of her."

"Not the least bit. He has given me, like you, the assurance that
she's really
grand. But her being really grand is somehow just what
hasn't seemed to
simplify our case. Nothing," she continued, "is
further from me than to wish to say a word against her; but of
course I feel how little she can like being told of her owing me
anything. No woman ever
enjoys such an obligation to another
woman."


-------------------------------------------------------------

It instantly made her graver. "And are you thinking of that?"

"Oh all the while, naturally."

"Stay with us--stay with us!" she exclaimed on this. "That's your
only way to make sure."

"To make sure of what?"

"Why that he doesn't break up. You didn't come out to do that to
him."

"Doesn't it depend," Strether returned after a moment, "on what you
mean by breaking up?"

"Oh you know well enough what I mean!"

His silence seemed again for a little to denote an understanding.
"You
take for granted remarkable things."

"Yes, I do--to the extent that I don't
take for granted vulgar
ones. You're
perfectly capable of seeing that what you came out for
wasn't really at all to do what you'd now have to do."

"Ah it's
perfectly simple," Strether good-humouredly pleaded. "I've
had but one thing to do--to put our case before him. To put it as
it could only be put here on the spot--by
personal pressure. My
dear lady," he lucidly pursued, "my work, you see, is really done,
and my reasons for staying on even another day are none of the
best. Chad's in
possession of our case and professes to do it full
justice. What remains is with himself. I've had my rest, my
amusement and refreshment; I've had, as we say at Woollett, a
lovely time. Nothing in it has been more lovely than this happy
meeting
with you--in these fantastic conditions to which you've so
delightfully consented. I've a sense of success. It's what I
wanted. My getting all this good is what Chad has waited for, and I
gather that if I'm ready to go he's the same."


She shook her head with a finer deeper wisdom. "You're not ready.
If you're ready why did you write to Mrs. Newsome in the sense
you've mentioned to me?"

Strether considered. "I shan't go before I hear from her. You're
too much afraid of her," he added.

It produced between them a long look from which neither shrank. "I
don't think you
believe that--believe I've not really reason to
fear her."

"She's capable of great generosity," Strether presently stated.

"Well then let her trust me a little. That's all I ask. Let her
recognise in spite of everything what I've done."

"Ah remember," our friend replied, "that she can't effectually
recognise it without seeing it for herself. Let Chad go over and
show her what you've done, and let him plead with her there for it
and, as it were, for YOU."

She measured the depth of this suggestion. "Do you give me your
word of honour that if she once has him there she won't do her best
to marry him?"

It made her companion, this
enquiry, look again a while out at the
view; after which he
spoke without sharpness. "When she sees for
herself what he is--"

But she had already
broken in. "It's when she sees for herself what
he is that she'll want to marry him most."

Strether's attitude, that of due
deference to what she said,
permitted him to attend for a minute to his luncheon.
"I doubt if
that will come off. It won't be easy to make it."

"It will be easy if he remains there--and he'll remain for the
money. The money appears to be, as a probability, so hideously
much
."

"Well," Strether
presently concluded, "nothing COULD really hurt
you but his marrying."

She gave a
strange light laugh. "Putting aside what may really hurt
HIM."


But her friend looked at her as if he had thought of that too.
"The question will come up, of course, of the future that you
yourself
offer him."

She was
leaning back now, but she fully faced him. "Well, let it
come up!"

"The point is that it's for Chad to make of it what he can. His
being
proof against marriage will show what he does make."

"If he IS
proof, yes"--she accepted the proposition. "But for
myself," she added, "the question is what YOU make."


"Ah I make nothing. It's not my affair."

"I beg your pardon. It's just there that, since you've taken it up
and are
committed to it, it most intensely becomes yours. You're
not
saving me, I take it, for your interest in myself, but for your
interest in our friend. The one's at any rate wholly dependent on
the other. You can't in
honour not see me through," she wound up,
"because you can't in
honour not see HIM."

Strange and beautiful to him was her quiet soft acuteness. The thing
that most
moved him was really that she was so deeply serious. She had
none of the portentous forms of it, but he had never come in contact,
it struck him, with
a force brought to so fine a head. Mrs. Newsome,
goodness knew, was
serious; but it was nothing to this. He took it
all in, he saw it all together. "No," he mused, "I can't in
honour
not see him."


Her face affected him as with an exquisite light. "You WILL then?"

"I will."

At this she pushed back her chair and was the next moment on her
feet. "Thank you!" she said with her hand
held out to him across
the table and with no less a
meaning in the words than her lips had
so
particularly given them after Chad's dinner. The golden nail she
had then driven in pierced a good inch deeper.
Yet he reflected
that he himself had only meanwhile done what he had
made up his mind to
on the same occasion. So far as the essence of the matter went he had
simply stood fast on the spot on which he had then planted his feet.



II



He received three days after this a communication from America, in
the form of a scrap of blue paper folded and gummed, not reaching
him through his bankers, but delivered at his hotel by a small boy
in uniform, who, under instructions from the concierge, approached
him as he slowly paced the little court. It was the evening hour,
but daylight was long now and Paris more than ever penetrating. The
scent of flowers was in the streets, he had the whiff of violets
perpetually in his nose; and he had attached himself to sounds and
suggestions, vibrations of the air, human and dramatic, he
imagined, as they were not in other places, that came out for him
more and more as the mild afternoons deepened--a far-off hum, a
sharp near click on the asphalt, a voice calling, replying,
somewhere and as full of tone as an actor's in a play.
He was to
dine at home, as usual, with Waymarsh--they had settled to that for
thrift and simplicity; and he now hung about before his friend came
down.

He read his telegram in the court, standing still a long time where
he had opened it and giving five minutes afterwards to the
renewed
study
of it. At last, quickly, he crumpled it up as if to get it
out of the way; in spite of which, however, he kept it there--
still kept it when, at the end of another turn, he had dropped into
a chair placed near a small table. Here, with his scrap of paper
compressed in his fist and further concealed by his folding his
arms tight, he sat for some time in thought, gazed before him so
straight
that Waymarsh appeared and approached him without catching
his eye. The latter in fact,
struck with his appearance, looked at
him
hard for a single instant and then, as if determined to that
course by some
special vividness in it, dropped back into the salon
de lecture without
addressing him. But the pilgrim from Milrose
permitted himself still to observe the scene from behind the clear
glass
plate of that retreat. Strether ended, as he sat, by a fresh
scrutiny of his
compressed missive, which he smoothed out carefully
again as he
placed it on his table. There it remained for some
minutes, until, at last looking up, he saw Waymarsh watching him
from within. It was on this that their eyes met--met for a moment
during which neither moved. But Strether then got up, folding his
telegram more carefully and putting it into his waistcoat pocket

A few minutes later the friends were seated together at dinner; but
Strether had meanwhile said nothing about it, and they eventually
parted, after coffee in the court, with nothing said on either
side. Our friend had moreover the consciousness that even less than
usual was on this occasion said between them, so that it was almost
as if each had been waiting for something from the other. Waymarsh
had always more or less the air of
sitting at the door of his tent,
and
silence, after so many weeks, had come to play its part in
their concert
. This note indeed, to Strether's sense, had lately
taken a
fuller tone, and it was his fancy to-night that they had
never quite so
drawn it out. Yet it befell, none the less that he
closed the door to confidence when his companion finally asked him
if there were anything particular the matter with him. "Nothing,"
he replied, "more than usual."




He had taken a long vague walk, and one o'clock had struck before
his return and his re-ascent to his room by the aid of the glimmering
candle-end left for him on the shelf outside the porter's lodge. He
had
possessed himself, on closing his door, of the numerous loose
sheets of his
unfinished composition, and then, without reading
them over, had
torn them into small pieces. He had thereupon slept--
as if it had been in some measure thanks to that
sacrifice--the
sleep of the just, and had prolonged his rest considerably beyond
his custom.
Thus it was that when, between nine and ten, the tap of
the knob of a
walking-stick sounded on his door, he had not yet
made himself altogether presentable. Chad Newsome's bright deep
voice
determined quickly enough none the less the admission of the
visitor.
The little blue paper of the evening before, plainly an
object the more precious for its escape from premature destruction,
now lay on the sill of the open window, smoothed out afresh and
kept from blowing away by the superincumbent weight of his watch.
Chad, looking about with careless and competent criticism, as he
looked wherever he went immediately espied it and permitted himself
to fix it for a moment rather hard
. After which he turned his eyes
to his host. "It has
come then at last?"

Strether paused in the act of pinning his necktie. "Then you know--?
You've had one too?"

"No, I've had nothing, and I only know what I see. I see that thing
and I
guess. Well," he added, "it comes as pat as in a play, for
I've
precisely turned up this morning--as I would have done
yesterday, but it was
impossible--to take you."

"To take me?" Strether had turned again to his glass.

"Back, at last, as I promised. I'm ready--I've really been ready
this month. I've only been waiting for you--as was perfectly right.
But you're better now; you're safe--I see that for myself; you've
got all your good. You're looking, this morning, as fit as a flea."

Strether, at his glass, finished dressing; consulting that witness
moreover on this last opinion. WAS he
looking preternaturally fit?
There was something in it perhaps for Chad's
wonderful eye, but he
had felt himself for hours rather in pieces
. Such a judgement,
however, was after all but a contribution to his resolve; it
testified unwittingly to his wisdom. He was still firmer,
apparently--since it
shone in him as a light--than he had flattered
himself. His
firmness indeed was slightly compromised, as he faced
about to his friend, by the way this very personage looked--though
the case would of course have been worse hadn't the secret of
personal magnificence been at every hour Chad's unfailing
possession. There he was in all the pleasant morning freshness of
it--strong and sleek and gay, easy and fragrant and fathomless,
with happy health in his colour, and pleasant silver in his thick
young hair, and the right word for everything on the lips that his
clear brownness caused to show as red. He had never struck Strether
as personally such a success; it was as if now, for his definite
surrender, he had gathered himself vividly together.
This, sharply
and rather
strangely, was the form in which he was to be presented
to Woollett.
Our friend took him in again--he was always taking him
in and yet finding that parts of him still remained out; though
even thus his image showed through a mist of other things. "I've
had a cable," Strether said, "from your mother."

"I dare say, my dear man. I hope she's well."

Strether hesitated. "No--she's not well, I'm sorry to have to tell
you."

"Ah," said Chad, "I must have had the instinct of it. All the more
reason then that we should
start straight off."

Strether had now got together hat, gloves and stick, but Chad had
dropped on the sofa as if to show where he wished to make his
point
. He kept observing his companion's things; he might have been
judging how quickly they could be packed. He might even have wished
to hint that he'd send his own servant to assist.

-------------------------------------------------------------

But when Strether presently spoke it wasn't in answer. "It's not, I
gather, that your mother's
physically ill; her health, on the
whole, this spring, seems to have been better than usual. But she's
worried, she's anxious, and it appears to have risen within the
last few days to a climax. We've
tired out, between us, her
patience."

"Oh it isn't YOU!" Chad
generously protested.

"I beg your pardon--it IS me." Strether was
mild and melancholy,
but
firm. He saw it far away and over his companion's head. "It's
very particularly me."

"Well then all the more reason. Marchons, marchons!" said the young
man gaily. His host, however, at this, but continued to stand
agaze
; and he had the next thing repeated his question of a moment
before. "Has Miss Gostrey come back?"

"Yes, two days ago."

"Then you've seen her?"

"No--I'm to see her to-day." But Strether wouldn't linger now on
Miss Gostrey. "Your mother
sends me an ultimatum. If I can't bring
you I'm to leave you; I'm to come at any rate myself."

"Ah but you
CAN bring me now," Chad, from his sofa, reassuringly
replied.

Strether had a pause. "I don't think I understand you. Why was it
that, more than a month ago, you put it to me so urgently to let
Madame de Vionnet speak for you?"

"'Why'?" Chad considered, but he had it at his fingers' ends. "Why
but because I knew how well she'd do it? It was the way to keep you
quiet and, to that extent, do you good. Besides," he happily and
comfortably explained, "I wanted you really to know her and to get
the
impression of her--and you see the good that HAS done you."

"Well," said Strether, "the way she has spoken for you, all the
same--so far as I've given her a chance--has only made me feel how
much she
wishes to keep you. If you make nothing of that I don't
see why you wanted me to listen to her."

"Why my dear man," Chad
exclaimed, "I make everything of it! How
can you
doubt--?"

"I doubt only because you come to me this morning with your signal
to start."

Chad stared, then gave a laugh. "And isn't my signal to start just
what you've been
waiting for?"

Strether debated; he took another turn. "This last month I've been
awaiting, I think, more than anything else, the message I have
here."

"You mean you've been afraid of it?"

"Well, I was doing my business in my own way. And I suppose your
present announcement," Strether went on, "isn't merely the result
of your sense of what I've expected. Otherwise you wouldn't have
put me in relation--" But he paused, pulling up.

At this Chad rose. "Ah HER wanting me not to go has nothing to do
with it! It's only because she's
afraid--afraid of the way that,
over there, I may
get caught. But her fear's groundless."

He had met again his companion's sufficiently searching look. "Are
you tired of her?"

Chad gave him in reply to this, with a movement of the head, the
strangest slow smile he had ever had from him. "Never."

It had immediately, on Strether's imagination, so deep and soft an
effect
that our friend could only for the moment keep it before
him. "Never?"

"Never," Chad
obligingly and serenely repeated.

It made his companion take several more steps. "Then YOU'RE not
afraid."

"Afraid to go?"

Strether
pulled up again. "Afraid to stay."

The young man looked
brightly amazed. "You want me now to 'stay'?"

"If I don't
immediately sail the Pococks will immediately come out.
That's what I mean," said Strether, "by your mother's ultimatum ."

Chad
showed a still livelier, but not an alarmed interest. "She has
turned on Sarah and Jim?"

Strether
joined him for an instant in the vision. "Oh and you may
be
sure Mamie. THAT'S whom she's turning on."

This also Chad saw--he
laughed out. "Mamie--to corrupt me?"

"Ah," said Strether, "she's very
charming."

"So you've already more than once told me. I should like to see
her."

Something
happy and easy, something above all unconscious, in the
way he said this, brought home again to his companion the
facility
of his attitude and the
enviability of his state.

-------------------------------------------------------------

"No--not even Miss Gostrey. I wasn't waiting to see any one. I had
only waited, till now, to make up my mind--in complete solitude;
and, since I of course
absolutely owe you the information, was on
the point of going out with it quite made up.
Have therefore a
little more
patience with me. Remember," Strether went on, "that
that's what you
originally asked ME to have. I've had it, you see,
and you see what has come of it.
Stay on with me."

Chad looked grave. "How much longer?"

"Well, till I make you a sign. I can't myself, you know, at the
best, or at the worst, stay for ever. Let the Pococks come,"
Strether repeated.

"Because it gains you time?"

"Yes--it gains me time."

Chad, as if it still puzzled him, waited a minute. "You don't want
to get back to Mother?"

"Not just yet. I'm not ready."

"You feel," Chad asked in a tone of his own, "the charm of life
over here?"

"Immensely." Strether faced it. "You've helped me so to feel it
that that surely needn't
surprise you."

"No, it doesn't
surprise me, and I'm delighted. But what, my dear
man," Chad went on
with conscious queerness, "does it all lead to
for you?"

The
change of position and of relation, for each, was so oddly
betrayed
in the question that Chad laughed out as soon as he had
uttered it--which made Strether also laugh. "Well, to my having a
certitude that has been tested--that has passed through the fire.
But oh," he couldn't help breaking out, "if within my first month
here you had been willing to move with me--!"

"Well?" said Chad, while he broke down as for weight of thought.

"Well, we should have been over there by now."

"Ah but you wouldn't have had your fun!"

"I should have had a month of it; and I'm having now, if you want
to know," Strether continued, "enough to last me for the rest of my
days."


Chad looked amused and interested, yet still somewhat in the dark;
partly perhaps because Strether's
estimate of fun had required of
him from the first a good deal of
elucidation. "It wouldn't do if
I left you--?"

"Left me?"--Strether
remained blank.

"Only for a month or two--time to go and come. Madame de Vionnet,"
Chad smiled, "would look after you in the interval."

"To go back by yourself, I remaining here?" Again for an instant
their eyes had the question out; after which Strether said:
"Grotesque!"

"But I want to see Mother," Chad presently returned. "Remember how
long it is since I've seen Mother."

"Long indeed; and that's exactly why I was originally so keen for
moving you. Hadn't you shown us enough how beautifully you could do
without
it?"

"Oh but,"
said Chad wonderfully, "I'm better now."

There was an
easy triumph in it that made his friend laugh out
again. "Oh if you were
worse I SHOULD know what to do with you. In
that case I believe I'd have you
gagged and strapped down, carried
on board
resisting, kicking. How MUCH," Strether asked, "do you
want to see Mother?"

"How much?"--Chad seemed to find it in fact difficult to say.

"How much."

"Why as much as you've made me. I'd give anything to see her. And
you've left me," Chad went on, "in little enough doubt as to how
much SHE wants it."

Strether thought a minute. "Well then if those things are really
your motive
catch the French steamer and sail to-morrow. Of course,
when it comes to that, you're
absolutely free to do as you choose.
From the moment you
can't hold yourself I can only accept your
flight."

"I'll fly in a minute then," said Chad, "if you'll stay here."

"I'll stay here till the next steamer--then I'll follow you."

"And do you call that," Chad asked, "accepting my flight?"

"Certainly--it's the only thing to call it. The only way to keep me
here, accordingly," Strether explained, "is by staying yourself."

Chad took it in. "All the more that I've really dished you, eh?"

"
Dished me?" Strether echoed as inexpressively as possible.

"Why if she sends out the Pococks it will be that she doesn't
trust
you, and if she doesn't
trust you, that bears upon--well, you know
what."

Strether decided after a moment that he did know what, and in
consonance with this he spoke. "You see then all the more what you
owe me."

"Well, if I do
see, how can I pay?"

"By not
deserting me. By standing by me."

"Oh I say--!" But Chad, as they went downstairs,
clapped a firm
hand, in the manner of a
pledge, upon his shoulder. They descended
slowly together and had, in the court of the hotel, some further
talk, of which the
upshot was that they presently separated. Chad
Newsome
departed, and Strether, left alone, looked about, superficially,
for Waymarsh. But Waymarsh hadn't yet, it appeared, come down, and
our friend finally
went forth without sight of him.



III



At four o'clock that afternoon he had still not seen him, but he
was then, as to make up for this, engaged in talk about him with
Miss Gostrey. Strether had kept away from home all day, given
himself up to the town and to his thoughts,
wandered and mused,
been at once
restless and absorbed--and all with the present climax
of a
rich little welcome in the Quartier Marboeuf. "Waymarsh has
been, 'unbeknown' to me, I'm convinced"--for Miss Gostrey had
enquired--"in communication with Woollett: the consequence of which
was, last night, the
loudest possible call for me."

"Do you mean a letter to bring you home?"

"No--a cable, which I have at this moment in my pocket: a '
Come
back
by the first ship.'"

Strether's hostess, it might have been made out, just
escaped
changing
colour. Reflexion arrived but in time and established a
provisional serenity. It was perhaps exactly this that enabled her
to say with
duplicity: "And you're going--?"

"You almost
deserve it when you abandon me so."

She
shook her head as if this were not worth taking up. "My absence
has helped you--as I've only to look at you to see. It was my
calculation, and I'm justified. You're not where you were. And the
thing," she
smiled, "was for me not to be there either. You can go
of yourself."

"Oh but I feel to-day," he
comfortably declared, "that I shall want
you yet."

She took him all in again. "Well, I promise you not again to leave
you, but it will only be to
follow you. You've got your momentum
and can
toddle alone."

He intelligently accepted it. "Yes--I suppose I can toddle. It's
the sight of that in fact that has
upset Waymarsh. He can bear it--
the way I strike him as going--no longer. That's only the climax
of his original feeling. He wants me to
quit; and he must have
written to Woollett that I'm in
peril of perdition."

"Ah good!" she murmured. "But is it only your supposition?"

"I make it out--it explains."

"Then he denies?--or you haven't asked him?"

"I've not had time," Strether said; "I made it out but last night,
putting various things together, and I've not been since then face
to face with him."

She wondered. "Because you're too disgusted? You can't trust
yourself?"

He settled his glasses on his nose. "Do I look in a
great rage?"

"You look
divine!"

"There's nothing," he went on, "to be
angry about. He has done me
on the contrary a service."

She made it out. "By
bringing things to a head?"

"How well you
understand!" he almost groaned. "Waymarsh won't in
the least, at any rate, when I have it out with him,
deny or
extenuate. He has acted from the deepest conviction, with the best
conscience and after
wakeful nights. He'll recognise that he's
fully
responsible, and will consider that he has been highly
successful; so that any discussion we may have will bring us quite
together again--
bridge the dark stream that has kept us so
thoroughly apart. We shall have at last, in the consequences of his
act, something we can definitely talk about."

She was silent a little. "How wonderfully you take it! But you're
always wonderful."

He had a pause that matched her own; then he had, with an adequate
spirit, a complete admission. "It's quite true. I'm extremely
wonderful just now. I dare say in fact I'm quite fantastic, and I
shouldn't be at all surprised if I were mad."


-------------------------------------------------------------

Miss Gostrey followed with intensity. "Then you've STOPPED him?"

Strether settled himself afresh in his chair. "I've stopped him.
That is for the time. That"--he gave it to her more vividly--"is
where I am."

"I see, I see
. But where's Mr. Newsome? He was ready," she asked,
"to go?"

"All ready."

"And sincerely--believing YOU'D be?"

"Perfectly, I think; so that he was amazed to find the hand I had
laid on him to pull him over suddenly converted into an engine for
keeping him still.
"

It was an account of the matter Miss Gostrey could weigh. "Does he
think the conversion sudden?"


"Well," said Strether, "I'm not altogether sure what he thinks. I'm
not sure of anything that concerns him, except that the more I've
seen of him the less I've found him what I originally expected.
He's obscure, and that's why I'm waiting."

She wondered. "But for what in particular?"

"For the answer to his cable."

"And what was his cable?"

"I don't know," Strether replied; "it was to be, when he left me,
according to his own taste. I simply said to him: 'I want to stay,
and the only way for me to do so is for you to.' That I wanted to
stay seemed to interest him, and he acted on that."

Miss Gostrey turned it over. "He wants then himself to stay."

"He half wants it. That is he half wants to go. My original appeal
has to that extent worked in him. Nevertheless," Strether pursued,
"he won't go. Not, at least, so long as I'm here."

"But you can't," his companion suggested, "stay here always. I wish
you could."

"By no means. Still, I want to see him a little further. He's not
in the least the case I supposed, he's quite another case. And it's
as such that he interests me." It was almost as if for his own
intelligence that, deliberate and lucid, our friend thus expressed
the matter. "I don't want to give him up."

Miss Gostrey but desired to help his lucidity. She had however to
be light and tactful. "Up, you mean--a--to his mother?"

"Well, I'm not thinking of his mother now.
I'm thinking of the plan
of which I was the mouthpiece
, which, as soon as we met, I put
before him as persuasively as I knew how, and which was drawn up,
as it were, in complete ignorance of all that, in this last long
period, has been happening to him. It took no account whatever of
the impression I was here on the spot immediately to begin to
receive from him--impressions of which I feel sure I'm far from
having had the last."

Miss Gostrey had a smile of the most genial criticism. "So your
idea is--more or less--to stay out of curiosity?"


"Call it what you like! I don't care what it's called--"

"So long as you do stay? Certainly not then. I call it, all the
same,
immense fun," Maria Gostrey declared; "and to see you work it
out will be one of the sensations of my life. It IS clear you can
toddle alone!"

He
received this tribute without elation. "I shan't be alone when
the Pococks have come."

Her eyebrows went up. "The Pococks are coming?"

"That, I mean, is what will happen--and happen as quickly as
possible--in consequence of Chad's cable. They'll simply
embark.
Sarah will come to speak for her mother--with an effect different
from MY muddle."


Miss Gostrey more
gravely wondered. "SHE then will take him back?"

"Very possibly--and we shall see. She must at any rate have the
chance, and she may be trusted to do all she can."

"And do you WANT that?"

"Of course," said Strether, "I want it. I want to
play fair "

But she had lost for a moment the thread. "If it
devolves on the
Pococks why do you stay?"

"Just to see that I DO play fair--and a little also, no doubt, that
they do." Strether was
luminous as he had never been. "I came out
to find myself in presence of
new facts--facts that have kept
striking me as less and less
met by our old reasons. The matter's
perfectly simple.
New reasons--reasons as new as the facts
themselves--are wanted; and of this our friends at Woollett--Chad's
and mine--were at the earliest moment
definitely notified. If any
are producible Mrs. Pocock will produce them; she'll bring over the
whole collection. They'll be," he added with a
pensive smile "a
part of the 'fun' you speak of."

She was quite in the current now and floating by his side
. "It's
Mamie--so far as I've had it from you--who'll be their great card."
And then as his contemplative silence wasn't a denial she
significantly added: "I think I'm sorry for her."

"I think I am!"--and Strether sprang up, moving about a little as
her eyes followed him. "But it can't be helped."

"You mean her coming out can't be?"

He explained after another turn what he meant. "The only way for
her not to come is for me to go home--as I believe that on the spot
I could prevent it. But the difficulty as to that is that if I do
go home--"

"I see, I see"--she had easily understood. "Mr. Newsome will do the
same, and that's not"--she laughed out now--"to be thought of."

Strether had no laugh; he had only a quiet comparatively placid
look that might have shown him as proof against ridicule. "Strange,
isn't it?"

They had, in the matter that so much interested them, come so far
as this without sounding another name--to which however their
present momentary silence was full of a conscious reference.
Strether's question was a sufficient implication of the weight it
had gained with him during the absence of his hostess; and just for
that reason a single gesture from her could pass for him as a vivid
answer. Yet he was answered still better when she said in a moment:
"Will Mr. Newsome introduce his sister--?"

"To Madame de Vionnet?" Strether spoke the name at last. "I shall
be greatly surprised if he doesn't."

She seemed to gaze at the possibility. "You mean you've thought of
it and you're prepared."

"I've thought of it and I'm prepared."

It was to her visitor now that she applied her consideration. "Bon!
You ARE magnificent!"

"Well," he answered after a pause and a little wearily, but still
standing there before her--
"well, that's what, just once in all my
dull days, I think I shall like to have been!"


-------------------------------------------------------------


His message to Mrs. Newsome, in answer to her own, had consisted
of the words: "Judge best to take another month, but with full
appreciation of all re-enforcements." He had added that he was
writing, but he was of course always writing; it was a practice
that continued,
oddly enough, to relieve him, to make him come
nearer than anything else to the consciousness of doing something:
so that
he often wondered if he hadn't really, under his recent
stress, acquired some hollow trick, one of the specious arts of
make-believe. Wouldn't the pages he still so freely dispatched by
the American post have been worthy of a showy journalist, some
master of the great new science of beating the sense out of words
?
Wasn't he writing against time, and mainly to show he was kind?--
since it had become quite his habit not to like to read himself
over. On those lines he could still be liberal, yet it was at best
a sort of
whistling in the dark. It was unmistakeable moreover that
the sense of being in the dark now pressed on him more sharply--
creating thereby the need for a louder and livelier whistle.
He
whistled long and hard after sending his message; he whistled again
and again in
celebration of Chad's news; there was an interval of a
fortnight in which this exercise helped him. He had no great notion
of what, on the spot, Sarah Pocock would have to say, though he had
indeed
confused premonitions; but it shouldn't be in her power to
say--it shouldn't be in any one's anywhere to say--that he was
neglecting her mother. He might have written before more freely,
but he had never
written more copiously; and he frankly gave for a
reason at Woollett that he wished to fill the void created there by
Sarah's departure.

The increase of his darkness, however, and the quickening, as I
have called it, of his tune,
resided in the fact that he was
hearing almost nothing.
He had for some time been aware that he was
hearing less than before, and he was now clearly following a
process by which Mrs. Newsome's letters could but logically stop.
He hadn't had a line for many days, and he needed no proof--though
he was, in time, to have plenty--that she wouldn't have put pen to
paper after receiving the hint that had determined her telegram.
She wouldn't write till Sarah should have seen him and reported on
him. It was strange, though it might well be less so than his own
behaviour appeared at Woollett. It was at any rate significant, and
what WAS
remarkable was the way his friend's nature and manner put
on for him, through this very
drop of demonstration, a greater
intensity. It struck him really that he had never so lived with her
as during this period of her silence; the silence was a sacred
hush, a finer clearer medium, in which her idiosyncrasies showed.
He walked about with her, sat with her, drove with her and dined
face-to-face with her--a rare treat "in his life," as he could
perhaps have scarce escaped phrasing it; and if he had never seen
her so soundless he had never, on the other hand, felt her so
highly, so almost austerely, herself: pure and by the vulgar
estimate "cold," but deep devoted delicate sensitive noble.
Her
vividness in these respects became for him, in the special
conditions, almost an obsession; and
though the obsession sharpened
his pulses, adding really to the excitement of life, there were
hours at which, to be less on the stretch, he directly sought
forgetfulness.
He knew it for the queerest of adventures--a
circumstance
capable of playing such a part only for Lambert
Strether--
that in Paris itself, of all places, he should find this
ghost of the lady of Woollett more importunate than any other
presence
.




His relation with Maria as well was, strangely enough, no longer
quite the same; this truth--though not too
disconcertingly--had
come up between them on the
renewal of their meetings. It was all
contained in what she had then almost immediately said to him; it
was
represented by the remark she had needed but ten minutes to
make and that he hadn't been
disposed to gainsay. He could toddle
alone
, and the difference that showed was extraordinary. The turn
taken by their talk had
promptly confirmed this difference; his
larger confidence on the score of Mrs. Newsome did the rest; and

the time seemed already far off when he had held out his small
thirsty cup to the spout of her pail. Her pail was scarce touched
now, and other fountains had flowed for him; she fell into her
place as but one of his tributaries; and there was a strange
sweetness--a melancholy mildness that touched him--in her
acceptance of the altered order.


It marked for himself the flight of time, or at any rate what he
was pleased to think of with
irony and pity as the rush of experience;
it having been but the day before yesterday that he sat at her feet
and
held on by her garment and was fed by her hand. It was the
proportions that were changed, and the proportions were at all
times, he
philosophised, the very conditions of perception, the
terms of thought. It was as if, with her effective little entresol and
and her
wide acquaintance, her activities, varieties, promiscuities,
the duties and devotions that took up nine tenths of her time and
of which he got, guardedly, but the side-wind--it was as if she had
shrunk to a secondary element and had consented to the shrinkage
with the perfection of tact. This perfection had never failed
her; it had originally been greater than his prime measure for it;
it had kept him quite apart, kept him out of the shop, as she
called her huge general acquaintance, made their commerce as
quiet, as much a thing of the home alone--the opposite of the
shop
--as if she had never another customer. She had been wonderful
to him at first, with the memory of her little entresol, the image
to which, on most mornings at that time, his eyes directly opened;
but now she mainly figured for him as
but part of the bristling
total
--though of course always as a person to whom he should never
cease to be indebted. It would never be given to him certainly
to inspire a greater kindness. She had decked him out for others,
and he saw at this point at least nothing she would ever ask for.
She only wondered and questioned and listened, rendering him the
homage of a wistful
speculation. She expressed it repeatedly;
he was already far beyond her, and she must
prepare herself to
lose him. There was but one little chance for her.

Often as she had said it he met it--for it was a touch he liked--
each time the same way. "My coming to grief?"

"Yes--then I might
patch you up."

"Oh for my
real smash, if it takes place, there will be no
patching."

"But you surely don't mean it will kill you."

"No--worse. It will make me old."

"Ah nothing can do that! The wonderful and special thing about you
is that you ARE, at this time of day, youth."

-------------------------------------------------------------

"It's a benefit that would make a poor show for many people; and
I don't know who else but you and I, frankly, could begin to
see in it what I feel. I don't get drunk; I don't pursue the
ladies; I don't spend money; I don't even write sonnets. But
nevertheless I'm making up late for what I didn't have early. I
cultivate my little benefit in my own little way. It amuses me more
than anything that has happened to me in all my life. They may say
what they like--
it's my surrender, it's my tribute, to youth. One
puts that in where one can--it has to come in somewhere, if only
out of the lives, the conditions, the feelings of other persons.

Chad gives me the sense of it, for all his grey hairs, which merely
make it solid in him and safe and serene; and SHE does the same,
for all her being older than he, for all her marriageable daughter,
her separated husband, her agitated history. Though they're young
enough, my pair, I don't say they're, in the freshest way, their
own absolutely prime adolescence; for that has nothing to do with
it. The point is that they're mine. Yes, they're my youth; since
somehow at the right time nothing else ever was. What I meant just
now therefore is that it would all go--go before doing its work--
if they were to fail me."


On which, just here, Miss Gostrey inveterately questioned. "What do
you, in particular, call its work?"

"Well, to see me through."

"But through what?"--she liked to get it all out of him.

"Why through this experience." That was all that would come.

It regularly gave her none the less the last word. "Don't you
remember how in those first days of our meeting it was I who was to
see you through?"

"Remember? Tenderly, deeply"--he always rose to it. "You're just
doing your part in letting me maunder to you thus."

"Ah don't speak as if my part were small; since whatever else fails
you--"

"YOU won't, ever, ever, ever?"--he thus took her up. "Oh I beg your
pardon; you necessarily, you inevitably WILL. Your conditions--that's
what I mean--won't allow me anything to do for you."

"Let alone--I see what you mean--that I'm drearily dreadfully old.
I AM, but there's a service--possible for you to render--that I know,
all the same, I shall think of."

"And what will it be?"

This, in fine, however, she would never tell him. "You shall hear
only if your smash takes place. As that's really out of the
question, I won't expose myself''--a point at which, for reasons of
his own, Strether ceased to press.

He came round, for publicity--it was the easiest thing--to the idea
that his smash WAS out of the question, and this rendered idle the
discussion of what might follow it. He attached an added
importance, as the days elapsed, to the arrival of the Pococks; he
had even a shameful sense of waiting for it insincerely and
incorrectly. He accused himself of making believe to his own mind
that Sarah's presence, her impression, her judgement would simplify
and harmonise, he accused himself of being so afraid of what they
MIGHT do that he sought refuge, to beg the whole question, in a
vain fury. He had abundantly seen at home what they were in the
habit of doing, and he had not at present the smallest ground. His
clearest vision was when he made out that what he most desired was
an account more full and free of Mrs. Newsome's state of mind than
any he felt he could now expect from herself; that calculation at
least went hand in hand with the sharp consciousness of wishing to
prove to himself that he was not afraid to look his behaviour in
the face. If he was by an inexorable logic to pay for it he was
literally impatient to know the cost, and he held himself ready to
pay in instalments. The first instalment would be precisely this
entertainment of Sarah; as a consequence of which moreover. he
should know vastly better how he stood.





               Book 8


I



Strether rambled alone during these few days, the effect of the
incident of the previous week having been to
simplify in a marked
fashion his
mixed relations with Waymarsh. Nothing had passed
between them in reference to Mrs. Newsome's summons but that our
friend had mentioned to his own the departure of the deputation
actually at sea--giving him thus an opportunity to confess to the
occult intervention he imputed to him. Waymarsh however in the
event
confessed to nothing; and though this falsified in some
degree Strether's
forecast the latter amusedly saw in it the same
depth of
good conscience out of which the dear man's impertinence
had originally
sprung. He was patient with the dear man now and
delighted to observe how unmistakeably he had put on flesh; he felt
his own holiday so successfully large and free that he was full of
allowances and charities in respect to those cabined and confined'
his instinct toward a spirit so strapped down as Waymarsh's was to
walk round it on tiptoe for fear of waking it up to a sense of
losses by this time irretrievable.
It was all very funny he knew,
and but the difference, as he often said to himself, of tweedledum
and tweedledee--an
emancipation so purely comparative that it was
like the
advance of the door-mat on the scraper; yet the present
crisis was happily to profit by it and the pilgrim from Milrose to
know himself more than ever in the right.

Strether felt that when he heard of the approach of the Pococks the
impulse of pity quite sprang up in him beside the impulse of
triumph. That was exactly why Waymarsh had looked at him with eyes
in which the heat of justice was measured and shaded.
He had looked
very
hard, as if affectionately sorry for the friend--the friend of
fifty-five--whose
frivolity had had thus to be recorded; becoming,
however, but
obscurely sententious and leaving his companion to
formulate a charge. It was in this general attitude that he had of
late altogether
taken refuge; with the drop of discussion they were
solemnly sadly superficial; Strether recognised in him the mere
portentous rumination
to which Miss Barrace had so good-humouredly
described herself as assigning a corner of her salon. It was quite
as if he knew his surreptitious step had been divined, and it was
also as if he missed the chance to explain the purity of his
motive; but this privation of relief should be precisely his small
penance:
it was not amiss for Strether that he should find himself
to that degree uneasy. If he had been
challenged or accused,
rebuked for meddling or otherwise pulled up, he would probably have
shown, on his own system, all the height of his
consistency, all
the depth of his
good faith. Explicit resentment of his course
would have made him
take the floor, and the thump of his fist on
the table would have
affirmed him as consciously incorruptible. Had
what now really
prevailed with Strether been but a dread of that
thump--a dread of wincing a little painfully at what it might
invidiously demonstrate
? However this might be, at any rate, one of
the marks of the crisis was
a visible, a studied lapse, in
Waymarsh, of
betrayed concern. As if to make up to his comrade for
the
stroke by which he had played providence he now conspicuously
ignored
his movements, withdrew himself from the pretension to
share them,
stiffened up his sensibility to neglect, and, clasping
his large empty hands and swinging his large restless foot
, clearly
looked to another quarter for
justice.

This made for independence on Strether's part, and he had in truth
at no moment of his stay been so free to
go and come. The early
summer brushed the picture over and blurred everything but the
near; it made a vast warm fragrant medium in which the elements
floated together on the best of terms, in which rewards were
immediate and reckonings postponed.
Chad was out of town again, for
the first time since his visitor's first view of him; he had
explained this necessity--without detail, yet also without
embarrassment, the circumstance was one of those which, in the
young man's life, testified to the variety of his ties. Strether
wasn't otherwise
concerned with it than for its so testifying--a
pleasant multitudinous image in which he took comfort. He took
comfort, by the same stroke, in the swing of Chad's pendulum back
from that other swing, the sharp jerk towards Woollett, so stayed
by his own hand. He had the entertainment of thinking that if he
had for that moment stopped the clock it was to
promote the next
minute this
still livelier motion. He himself did what he hadn't
done before; he took two or three times whole days off--
irrespective of others, of two or three taken with Miss Gostrey,
two or three taken with little Bilham: he went to Chartres and
cultivated, before the front of the cathedral, a general easy
beatitude
; he went to Fontainebleau and imagined himself on the way
to Italy; he went to Rouen with a little handbag and inordinately
spent the night.




Suddenly, however, on this particular day, he felt a particular
fear under which everything collapsed. He knew abruptly that he was
afraid of himself--and yet not in relation to the effect on his
sensibilities of another hour of Madame de Vionnet. What he dreaded
was the effect of a single hour of Sarah Pocock, as to whom he was
visited, in troubled nights, with fantastic waking dreams. She
loomed at him larger than life; she increased in volume as she drew
nearer;
she so met his eyes that, his imagination taking, after the
first step, all, and more than all, the
strides, he already felt
her
come down on him, already burned, under her reprobation, with
the
blush of guilt, already consented, by way of penance, to the
instant forfeiture of everything. He saw himself, under her
direction, recommitted to Woollett as juvenile offenders are
committed to reformatories.
It wasn't of course that Woollett was
really a place of discipline; but he knew in advance that Sarah's
salon at the hotel would be. His danger, at any rate, in such moods
of
alarm, was some concession, on this ground, that would involve a
sharp rupture with the actual
; therefore if he waited to take leave
of that actual he might wholly miss his chance. It was represented
with
supreme vividness by Madame de Vionnet, and that is why, in a
word, he waited no longer. He had seen in a
flash that he must
anticipate Mrs. Pocock.




He hastily picked up Strether, at the hotel, for this purpose, and he
even, with
easy pleasantry, suggested the attendance of Waymarsh as
well--
Waymarsh, at the moment his cab rattled up, being engaged,
under Strether's contemplative range, in a grave perambulation of the
familiar court
. Waymarsh had learned from his companion, who had
already had a note, delivered by hand, from Chad, that the Pococks
were due, and had ambiguously, though, as always, impressively,
glowered at him over the circumstance
; carrying himself in a manner
in which Strether was now expert enough to
recognise his uncertainty,
in the premises, as to the
best tone. The only tone he aimed at with
confidence was a full tone--which was necessarily difficult in the
absence of a
full knowledge. The Pococks were a quantity as yet
unmeasured, and, as he had practically brought them over, so this
witness had to that extent
exposed himself. He wanted to feel right
about it, but could only, at the best, for the time,
feel vague.
"I shall
look to you, you know, immensely," our friend had said,
"to
help me with them," and he had been quite conscious of the
effect of the
remark, and of others of the same sort, on his
comrade's
sombre sensibility. He had insisted on the fact that
Waymarsh would quite like Mrs. Pocock--one could be certain he
would: he would be with her about everything, and she would also be
with HIM, and Miss Barrace's nose, in short, would
find itself out
of joint
.

Strether had woven this web of cheerfulness while they waited in
the court for Chad; he had sat
smoking cigarettes to keep himself
quiet while, caged and leonine, his fellow traveller paced and
turned before him. Chad Newsome was doubtless to be struck, when he
arrived, with the
sharpness of their opposition at this particular
hour; he was to remember, as a part of it, how Waymarsh came with
him and with Strether to the street and
stood there with a face
half-wistful and half-rueful. They talked of him, the two others, as
they
drove, and Strether put Chad in possession of much of his own
strained sense of things. He had already, a few days before, named
to him the wire he was convinced their friend had pulled--a
confidence that had made on the young man's part quite hugely for
curiosity and diversion. The action of the matter, moreover,
Strether could see, was to penetrate; he saw that is, how Chad
judged a system of influence in which Waymarsh had served as a
determinant--an impression just now quickened again; with the whole
bearing of such a fact on the youth's view of his relatives. As it
came up between them that they might now take their friend for a
feature of the control of these latter now sought to be exerted
from Woollett, Strether felt indeed how it would be stamped all
over him, half an hour later for Sarah Pocock's eyes, that he was
as much on Chad's "side" as Waymarsh had probably
described him. He
was
letting himself at present, go; there was no denying it; it
might be
desperation, it might be confidence; he should offer
himself to the arriving travellers
bristling with all the lucidity
he had
cultivated.





"Ah," said Chad, "Mother's worth fifty of Sally!"

"A thousand; but when you presently meet her, all the same you'll
be
meeting your mother's representative--just as I shall. I feel
like the
outgoing ambassador," said Strether, "doing honour to his
appointed successor." A moment after speaking as he had just done
he felt he had
inadvertently rather cheapened Mrs. Newsome to her
son; an impression
audibly reflected, as at first seen, in Chad's
prompt protest. He had recently rather failed of apprehension of
the young man's attitude and temper--remaining principally
conscious of how little worry, at the worst, he wasted, and he
studied him at this critical hour with
renewed interest. Chad had
done exactly what he had promised him a fortnight previous--had
accepted without another question his plea for delay.
He was
waiting cheerfully and handsomely, but also inscrutably and with a
slight increase perhaps of the hardness originally involved in his
acquired high polish. He was neither excited nor depressed; was
easy and acute and deliberate--unhurried unflurried unworried, only
at most a little less amused than usual. Strether felt him more
than ever a justification of the extraordinary process of which his
own absurd spirit had been the arena;
he knew as their cab rolled
along, knew as he hadn't even yet known, that nothing else than
what Chad had done and had been would have led to his present
showing. They had made him, these things, what he was, and the
business hadn't been
easy; it had taken time and trouble, it had
cost, above all, a price. The result at any rate was now to be
offered to Sally; which Strether, so far as that was concerned, was
glad to be there to witness. Would she in the least make it out or
take it in, the result, or would she in the least care for it if
she did? He
scratched his chin as he asked himself by what name,
when
challenged--as he was sure he should be--he could call it for
her. Oh those were
determinations she must herself arrive at; since
she wanted so much to see, let her see then and welcome. She had
come out in the
pride of her competence, yet it hummed in
Strether's
inner sense that she practically wouldn't see.





Strether was still more sharply struck, hereupon, with Chad's
lucidity. "Why, isn't that exactly--to get a sight of the company
I keep--what she has come out for?"

"Yes--I'm afraid it is," Strether
unguardedly replied.

Chad's
quick rejoinder lighted his precipitation. "Why do you say
you're afraid?"

"Well, because I
feel a certain responsibility. It's my testimony,
I
imagine, that will have been at the bottom of Mrs. Pocock's
curiosity. My letters, as I've supposed you to understand from the
beginning, have
spoken freely. I've certainly said my little say
about Madame de Vionnet."

All that, for Chad, was
beautifully obvious. "Yes, but you've only
spoken
handsomely."

"Never more
handsomely of any woman. But it's just that tone--!"

"That tone," said Chad, "that has
fetched her? I dare say; but I've
no
quarrel with you about it. And no more has Madame de Vionnet.
Don't you know by this time how she likes you?"

"Oh!"--and Strether had, with his
groan, a real pang of melancholy.
"For all I've done for her!"

"Ah you've
done a great deal."

Chad's
urbanity fairly shamed him, and he was at this moment
absolutely impatient to see the face Sarah Pocock would present to
a sort of thing, as he
synthetically phrased it to himself, with no
adequate forecast of which, despite his admonitions, she would
certainly arrive. "I've done THIS!"





Strether took it in; then as if an echo of Miss Barrace were in the
air: "She's
wonderful."

"You don't begin to
know HOW wonderful!"

There was a depth in it, to Strether's ear, of confirmed luxury--
almost a kind of unconscious insolence of proprietorship;
but the
effect of the
glimpse was not at this moment to foster speculation:
there was something so
conclusive in so much graceful and generous
assurance. It was in fact a fresh evocation; and the evocation had
before many minutes another consequence. "Well, I shall
see her
oftener now. I shall
see her as much as I like--by your leave;
which is what I hitherto haven't done."

"It has been," said Chad, but without
reproach, "only your own
fault. I tried to
bring you together, and SHE, my dear fellow--I
never saw her more
charming to any man. But you've got your
extraordinary ideas."

"Well, I DID
have," Strether murmured, while he felt both how they
had
possessed him and how they had now lost their authority. He
couldn't have
traced the sequence to the end, but it was all
because of Mrs. Pocock. Mrs. Pocock might be because of Mrs. Newsome,
but that was still to be proved. What came over him was the sense
of having stupidly failed to profit where profit would have been
precious.
It had been open to him to see so much more of her, and
he had but
let the good days pass. Fierce in him almost was the
resolve to lose no more of them,
and he whimsically reflected,
while at Chad's side he
drew nearer to his destination, that it
was after all Sarah who would have
quickened his chance.What
her visit of
inquisition might achieve in other directions was
as yet all
obscure--only not obscure that it would do supremely
much to
bring two earnest persons together. He had but to listen
to Chad at this moment to feel it; for Chad was in the act of
remarking to him that they of course both
counted on him--he
himself and the other earnest person--for
cheer and support. It was
brave to Strether to hear him talk as if the line of wisdom they
had
struck out was to make things ravishing to the Pococks. No, if
Madame de Vionnet compassed THAT, compassed the ravishment of the
Pococks, Madame de Vionnet would be prodigious.
It would be a
beautiful plan if it succeeded, and it all came to the question of
Sarah's being really
bribeable. The precedent of his own case
helped Strether perhaps but little to consider she might prove so;
it being distinct that her character would rather make for every
possible difference. This idea of his own bribeability set him
apart for himself; with the further mark in fact that his case was
absolutely proved. He liked always, where Lambert Strether was
concerned, to know the worst, and what he now seemed to know was
not only that he was
bribeable, but that he had been effectually
bribed
. The only difficulty was that he couldn't quite have said
with what. It was as if he
had sold himself, but hadn't somehow got
the cash
. That, however, was what, characteristically, WOULD happen
to him.
It would naturally be his kind of traffic. While he thought
of these things he
reminded Chad of the truth they mustn't lose
sight of
--the truth that, with all deference to her susceptibility
to new interests, Sarah would have
come out with a high firm
definite
purpose. "She hasn't come out, you know, to be bamboozled.
We may all be
ravishing--nothing perhaps can be more easy for us;
but she hasn't come out to be
ravished. She has come out just
simply to take you home."

"Oh well, with HER I'll go," said Chad
good-humouredly. "I suppose
you'll
allow THAT." And then as for a minute Strether said nothing:
"Or is your idea that when I've seen her I
shan't want to go?" As
this question, however, again left his friend
silent he presently went
on: "My own idea at any rate is that they shall have while they're here
the best sort of time."


It was at this that Strether spoke. "Ah there you are! I think if
you really wanted to go--!"

"Well?" said Chad to bring it out.

"Well, you wouldn't trouble about our good time. You wouldn't care
what sort of a time we have."

Chad could always take in the easiest way in the world any
ingenious suggestion. "I see. But can I help it? I'm too decent."

"Yes, you're too
decent!" Strether heavily sighed. And he felt for
the moment as if it were the
preposterous end of his mission.

It
ministered for the time to this temporary effect that Chad made
no rejoinder. But he spoke again as they came in sight of the
station. "Do you
mean to introduce her to Miss Gostrey?"

As to this Strether was ready. "No."

"But haven't you told me they
know about her?"

"I think I've told you your mother
knows."

"And won't she have
told Sally?"

"That's one of the things I want to
see."

"And if you find she HAS--?"

"Will I then, you mean,
bring them together?"

"Yes," said Chad with his
pleasant promptness: "to show her there's
nothing in it."

Strether
hesitated. "I don't know that I care very much what she
may
think there's in it."

"Not if it
represents what Mother thinks?"

"Ah what DOES your mother think?" There was in this some sound of
bewilderment.

But they were just
driving up, and help, of a sort, might after all
be
quite at hand. "Isn't that, my dear man, what we're both just
going to
make out?"



II



A strange new feeling had come over Strether, in consequence of
which his spirits had
risen; it was as if what had occurred on
the
alighting of his critics had been something other than his
fear, though his fear had vet not been of an instant scene of
violence. His impression had been nothing but what was inevitable
--he said that to himself; yet
relief and reassurance had softly
dropped upon him. Nothing could be so odd as to be indebted for
these things to the look of faces and the sound of voices that
had been with him to satiety,
as he might have said, for years;
but he now knew, all the same, how
uneasy he had felt; that was
brought home to him by his present
sense of a respite. It had
come moreover in the flash of an eye, it had come in the smile
with which Sarah, whom, at the window of her compartment, they
had effusively greeted from the platform, rustled down to them
a moment later, fresh and handsome from her cool June progress
through the charming land. It was only a sign, but enough: she
was going to be gracious and unallusive, she was going to play
the larger game
--which was still more apparent, after she had
emerged from Chad's arms, in her direct greeting to the valued
friend of her family.

Strether WAS then as much as ever the
valued friend of her family,
it was something he could at all events
go on with; and the manner
of his
response to it expressed even for himself how little he had
enjoyed the prospect of ceasing to figure in that likeness. He had
always seen Sarah gracious--had in fact rarely seen her shy or dry,
her marked thin-lipped smile, intense without brightness and as
prompt to act as the scrape of a safety-match; the protrusion of
her rather remarkably long chin, which in her case represented
invitation and urbanity, and not, as in most others, pugnacity and
defiance;
the penetration of her voice to a distance, the general
encouragement and approval of her manner, were all elements with
which
intercourse had made him familiar, but which he noted today
almost as if she had been a
new acquaintance. This first glimpse of
her had given a
brief but vivid accent to her resemblance to her
mother; he could have taken her for Mrs. Newsome while she met his
eyes as the train rolled into the station. It was an
impression
that
quickly dropped; Mrs. Newsome was much handsomer, and while
Sarah inclined to the
massive her mother had, at an age, still the
girdle of a maid; also the latter's chin was rather short, than
long, and
her smile, by good fortune, much more, oh ever so much
more, mercifully vague. Strether had seen Mrs. Newsome reserved; he
had literally heard her silent, though he had never known her
unpleasant.
It was the case with Mrs. Pocock that he had known HER
unpleasant, even though he had never known her not affable. She had
forms of affability that were in a high degree assertive;
nothing
for instance had ever been more
striking than that she was affable
to Jim.


What had told in any case at the window of the train was her high
clear
forehead, that forehead which her friends, for some reason,
always thought of as a "brow"; the
long reach of her eyes--it came
out at this juncture in such a manner as to remind him,
oddly
enough, also of that of Waymarsh's; and the
unusual gloss of her
dark hair, dressed and hatted, after her mother's refined example,
with such an avoidance of extremes that it was always spoken of at
Woollett as "their own." Though this analogy dropped as soon as she
was on the platform it had lasted long enough to make him feel all
the advantage, as it were, of his relief.
The woman at home, the
woman to whom he was attached, was before him just long enough to
give him again the measure of the wretchedness, in fact really of
the shame, of their having to recognise the formation, between
them, of a "split." He had taken this measure in solitude and
meditation: but the catastrophe, as Sarah steamed up, looked for
its seconds unprecedentedly dreadful--or proved, more exactly,
altogether unthinkable; so that his finding something free and
familiar to respond to brought with it an instant renewal of his
loyalty. He had suddenly sounded the whole depth, had gasped at
what he might have lost.


Well, he could now, for the quarter of an hour of their detention
hover
about the travellers as soothingly as if their direct message
to him was that he had
lost nothing. He wasn't going to have Sarah
write to her mother that night that he was in any way
altered or
strange. There had been times enough for a month when it had seemed
to him that he was
strange, that he was altered, in every way; but
that was a matter for himself; he knew at least whose business it
was not;
it was not at all events such a circumstance as Sarah's
own unaided lights would help her to. Even if she had come out to
flash those lights more than yet appeared she wouldn't make much
headway against mere pleasantness
. He counted on being able to be
merely pleasant to the end, and if only from incapacity moreover to
formulate anything different. He couldn't even formulate to himself
his being changed and queer; it had taken place, the process,
somewhere deep down; Maria Gostrey had caught glimpses of it; but
how was he to fish it up, even if he desired, for Mrs. Pocock?
This
was then the spirit in which he
hovered, and with the easier throb
in it much
indebted furthermore to the impression of high and
established adequacy as a pretty girl promptly produced in him by
Mamie. He had wondered vaguely--turning over many things in the
fidget of his thoughts--if Mamie WERE as pretty as Woollett
published her; as to which issue seeing her now again was to be so
swept away by Woollett's opinion that this consequence really let
loose for the
imagination an avalanche of others. There were
positively five minutes in which the last word seemed of necessity
to abide with a Woollett represented by a Mamie. This was the sort
of truth the place itself would feel; it would send her forth in
confidence; it would point to her with triumph; it would take its
stand on her with assurance; it would be conscious of no
requirements she didn't meet, of no question she couldn't answer.

Well, it was right, Strether slipped smoothly enough into the
cheerfulness of saying: granted that a community MIGHT be best
represented by a young lady of twenty-two, Mamie perfectly played
the part, played it as if she were used to it, and looked and spoke
and dressed the character. He wondered if she mightn't, in the high
light of Paris, a cool full studio-light, becoming yet treacherous,
show as too conscious of these matters; but the next moment he felt
satisfied that her consciousness was after all empty for its size,
rather too simple than too mixed, and that the kind way with her
would be not to take many things out of it, but to put as many as
possible in. She was robust and conveniently tall; just a trifle
too bloodlessly fair perhaps, but with a pleasant public familiar
radiance that affirmed her vitality. She might have been
"receiving" for Woollett, wherever she found herself, and there was
something in her manner, her tone, her motion, her pretty blue
eyes, her pretty perfect teeth and her very small, too small, nose,
that immediately placed her, to the fancy, between the windows of a
hot bright room in which voices were high--up at that end to which
people were brought to be "presented." They were there to
congratulate, these images, and Strether's renewed vision, on this
hint, completed the idea. What Mamie was like was the happy bride,
the bride after the church and just before going away. She wasn't
the mere maiden, and yet was only as much married as that quantity
came to. She was in the brilliant acclaimed festal stage
. Well,
might it last her long!






Strether remembered how he had seen him come up with Jeanne de
Vionnet in Gloriani's garden, and the fancy he had had about
that--the fancy obscured now, thickly overlaid with others;
the
recollection was during these minutes his only note of
trouble. He had often, in spite of himself,
wondered if Chad
but too probably were not with Jeanne
the object of a still
and shaded flame.
It was on the cards that the child MIGHT be
tremulously in love, and this conviction now flickered up not a bit
the less for his
disliking to think of it, for its being, in a
complicated situation, a complication the more, and for something
indescribable in Mamie, something at all events straightway
lent
her by his own mind, something that gave her
value, gave her
intensity and purpose, as the symbol of an opposition. Little
Jeanne wasn't really at all in question--how COULD she be?--yet
from the moment Miss Pocock had shaken her skirts on the platform,
touched up the immense bows of her hat and settled properly over
her shoulder the strap of her morocco-and-gilt travelling-satchel,
from that moment little Jeanne was
opposed.

It was in the cab with Jim that impressions really crowded on
Strether, giving him the strangest sense of length of absence from
people among whom he had lived for years. Having them thus come out
to him was as if he had returned to find them: and the droll
promptitude of Jim's mental reaction threw his own initiation far
back into the past. Whoever might or mightn't be suited by what was
going on among them, Jim, for one, would certainly be: his instant
recognition--frank and whimsical--of what the affair was for HIM
gave Strether a glow of pleasure. "I say, you know, this IS about
my shape, and if it hadn't been for YOU--!" so he broke out as the
charming streets met his healthy appetite;
and he wound up, after
an expressive nudge, with a clap of his companion's knee and an "Oh
you, you--you ARE doing it!" that was
charged with rich meaning.
Strether felt in it the
intention of homage, but, with a curiosity
otherwise occupied, postponed taking it up.






It was queer to him that he had that noiseless brush with Chad; an
ironic intelligence with this youth on the subject of his
relatives, an intelligence carried on under their nose and, as
might be said, at their expense
--such a matter marked again for him
strongly the number of stages he had come; albeit that if the
number seemed great the time taken for the final one was but the
turn of a hand. He had before this had many moments of
wondering if
he himself weren't perhaps
changed even as Chad was changed. Only
what in Chad was conspicuous improvement--well, he had no name
ready for the working, in his own organism, of his own more timid
dose.
He should have to see first what this action would amount to.
And for his
occult passage with the young man, after all, the
directness of it had no greater
oddity than the fact that the young
man's way with the three travellers should have been so happy a
manifestation. Strether liked him for it, on the spot, as he hadn't
yet
liked him; it affected him while it lasted as he might have
been
affected by some light pleasant perfect work of art: to that
degree that he
wondered if they were really worthy of it, took it
in and did it
justice; to that degree that it would have been
scarce a miracle if, there in the luggage-room, while they waited
for their things, Sarah had
pulled his sleeve and drawn him aside.
"You're right; we haven't quite known what you mean, Mother and I,
but now we see. Chad's
magnificent; what can one want more? If THIS
is the kind of thing--!" On which they might, as it were, have
embraced and begun to work together.

Ah how much, as it was, for all her bridling brightness--which was
merely
general and noticed nothing--WOULD they work together?
Strether knew he was
unreasonable; he set it down to his being
nervous: people couldn't notice everything and speak of everything
in a quarter of an hour. Possibly, no doubt, also, he made too much
of Chad's display. Yet, none the less, when, at the end of five
minutes, in the cab, Jim Pocock had said nothing either--hadn't
said, that is, what Strether wanted, though he had said much else--
it all suddenly
bounced back to their being either stupid or
wilful. It was more probably on the whole the former; so that that
would be the drawback of the
bridling brightness. Yes, they would
bridle and be bright; they would make the best of what was before
them, but their observation would fail;
it would be beyond them;
they simply wouldn't understand. Of what use would it be then that
they had come?--if they weren't to be intelligent up to THAT point:
unless indeed he himself were utterly deluded and extravagant?
Was
he, on this question of Chad's improvement, fantastic and away from
the truth? Did he live in a false world, a world that had grown
simply to suit him, and was his present slight irritation--in the
face now of Jim's silence in particular--but the alarm of the vain
thing menaced by the touch of the real? Was this contribution of
the real possibly the mission of the Pococks?--had they come to
make the work of observation, as HE had practised observation,
crack and crumble, and to reduce Chad to the plain terms in which
honest minds could deal with him? Had they come in short to be sane
where Strether was destined to feel that he himself had only been
silly?


He glanced at such a contingency, but it failed to hold him long
when once he had
reflected that he would have been silly, in this
case, with Maria Gostrey and little Bilham, with Madame de Vionnet
and little Jeanne, with Lambert Strether, in fine, and above all
with Chad Newsome himself.
Wouldn't it be found to have made more
for reality to be silly with these persons than sane with Sarah and
Jim?
Jim in fact, he presently made up his mind, was individually
out of it; Jim didn't care; Jim hadn't come out either for Chad or
for him; Jim in short left the moral side to Sally and indeed
simply availed himself now, for the sense of recreation, of the
fact that he left almost everything to Sally. He was nothing
compared to Sally, and not so much by reason of Sally's temper and
will as by that of her more developed type and greater acquaintance
with the world. He quite
frankly and serenely confessed, as he sat
there with Strether, that he felt his type hang far in the rear of
his wife's and still further, if possible, in the rear of his
sister's. Their types, he well knew, were
recognised and acclaimed;
whereas the most a leading Woollett business-man could
hope to
achieve socially, and for that matter industrially, was a certain
freedom to
play into this general glamour.





What none the less came home to him, however, at this hour,
was that the society over there, that of which Sarah and Mamie--
and, in a more
eminent way, Mrs. Newsome herself--were specimens,
was essentially a society of women, and that poor Jim wasn't in
it. He himself Lambert Strether, WAS as yet in some degree--which
was an
odd situation for a man; but it kept coming back to him
in a
whimsical way that he should perhaps find his marriage had
cost him his place. This occasion indeed, whatever that fancy
represented, was not a time of sensible exclusion for Jim, who
was in a state of manifest response to the charm of his adventure.
Small and fat and constantly facetious, straw-coloured and
destitute of marks, he would have been practically
indistinguishable hadn't his constant preference for light-grey
clothes, for white hats, for very big cigars and very little
stories, done what it could for his identity.
There were signs
in him, though none of them
plaintive, of always paying for
others; and the principal one perhaps was just this
failure of
type. It was with this that he
paid, rather than with fatigue or
waste; and also doubtless a little with the effort of humour--never
irrelevant to the conditions, to the relations, with which he was
acquainted.

He gurgled his joy as they rolled through the happy streets; he
declared that his trip was a regular windfall, and that he wasn't
there, he was
eager to remark, to hang back from anything: he
didn't know quite what Sally had come for, but HE had come for a
good time.
Strether indulged him even while wondering if what Sally
wanted her brother to go back for was to become like her husband.
He trusted that a good time was to be, out and out, the programme
for all of them; and he assented liberally to Jim's proposal that,
disencumbered and irresponsible--his things were in the omnibus
with those of the others--they should take a further turn round
before going to the hotel. It wasn't for HIM to tackle Chad--it was
Sally's job; and as it would be like her, he felt, to
open fire on
the spot, it wouldn't be
amiss of them to hold off and give her
time. Strether, on his side, only asked to give her time;
so he
jogged with his companion along boulevards and avenues, trying to
extract from meagre material some forecast of his catastrophe
. He
was quick enough to see that Jim Pocock
declined judgement, had
hovered quite round the outer edge of discussion and anxiety,
leaving all
analysis of their question to the ladies alone and now
only feeling his way toward some small droll cynicism. It broke out
afresh
, the cynicism--it had already shown a flicker--in a but
slightly deferred: "Well, hanged if I would if I were he!"

"You mean you wouldn't in Chad's place--?"

"Give up this to go back and boss the advertising!" Poor Jim, with
his arms folded and his little legs out in the open fiacre, drank
in the sparkling Paris noon and carried his eyes from one side of
their vista to the other.
"Why I want to come right out and live
here myself. And I want to live while I AM here too. I feel with
YOU--oh you've been
grand, old man, and I've twigged--that it ain't
right to
worry Chad. I don't mean to persecute him; I couldn't in
conscience. It's thanks to you at any rate that I'm here, and I'm
sure I'm much
obliged. You're a lovely pair."

There were things in this speech that Strether let pass for the
time. "Don't you then think it important the advertising should be
thoroughly taken in hand? Chad WILL be, so far as capacity is
concerned," he went on, "the man to do it."

"Where did he get his capacity," Jim asked, "over here?"

"He didn't get it over here, and the wonderful thing is that over
here he hasn't inevitably lost it. He has a
natural turn for
business, an
extraordinary head. He comes by that," Strether
explained, "honestly enough. He's in that respect his father's son,
and also--for she's wonderful in her way too--his mother's. He has
other
tastes and other tendencies; but Mrs. Newsome and your wife
are quite right about his having that. He's very remarkable."

"Well, I guess he is!" Jim Pocock
comfortably sighed. "But if
you've believed so in his making us hum
, why have you so prolonged
the
discussion? Don't you know we've been quite anxious about you?"

These questions were not
informed with earnestness, but Strether
saw he must none the less make a choice and take a line. "Because,
you see, I've
greatly liked it. I've liked my Paris, I dare say
I've liked it too much."

"Oh you old wretch!" Jim
gaily exclaimed.

"But nothing's
concluded," Strether went on. "The case is more
complex than it looks from Woollett."

"Oh well, it looks
bad enough from Woollett!" Jim declared.

"Even after all I've written?"

Jim bethought himself. "Isn't it what you've written that has made
Mrs. Newsome pack us off? That at least and Chad's not turning up?"

Strether made a reflexion of his own. "I see. That she should do
something was, no doubt, inevitable, and your wife has therefore of
course come out to
act."

"Oh yes," Jim concurred--"to act. But Sally comes out to act, you
know," he
lucidly added, "every time she leaves the house. She
never comes out but she DOES
act. She's acting moreover now for her
mother, and that
fixes the scale." Then he wound up, opening all
his senses to it, with a renewed embrace of pleasant Paris
. "We
haven't all the same at Woollett got anything like this."

Strether continued to consider. "I'm bound to say for you all that
you
strike me as having arrived in a very mild and reasonable frame
of mind. You don't
show your claws. I felt just now in Mrs. Pocock
no symptom of that. She isn't
fierce," he went on. "I'm such a
nervous idiot that I thought she might be."

"Oh don't you know her well enough," Pocock asked, "to have noticed
that she never gives herself away, any more than her mother ever
does? They ain't
fierce, either of 'em; they let you come quite
close
. They wear their fur the smooth side out--the warm side in.
Do you know what they are?" Jim pursued as he looked about him,
giving the question, as Strether felt, but half his care--"do you
know what they are? They're about as intense as they can live."

"Yes"--and Strether's
concurrence had a positive precipitation;
"they're about as
intense as they can live."

"They don't
lash about and shake the cage," said Jim, who seemed
pleased with his analogy; "and it's at
feeding-time that they're
quietest. But they always get there."

"They do indeed--they always
get there!" Strether replied with a
laugh that
justified his confession of nervousness. He disliked to
be
talking sincerely of Mrs. Newsome with Pocock; he could have
talked insincerely. But there was something he wanted to know, a
need created in him by her recent intermission, by
his having
given from the first so much, as now more than ever appeared to
him, and got so little. It was as if a queer truth in his
companion's metaphor had rolled over him with a rush. She HAD been
quiet at feeding-time; she had fed, and Sarah had fed with her,
out of the big bowl of all his recent free communication, his
vividness and pleasantness, his ingenuity and even his eloquence,
while the current of her response had steadily run thin.
Jim
meanwhile however, it was true, slipped characteristically into
shallowness from the moment he ceased to speak out of the
experience of a husband.

"But of course Chad has now the advantage of being there before
her. If he doesn't work that for all it's worth--!" He sighed with
contingent pity at his brother-in-law's possible want of resource.
"He has worked it on YOU, pretty well, eh?" and he asked the next
moment if there were anything new at the Varieties, which he
pronounced in the American manner. They talked about the
Varieties--Strether confessing to a knowledge which produced again
on Pocock's part a play of innuendo as vague as a nursery-rhyme,
yet as aggressive as an elbow in his side
; and they finished their
drive under the
protection of easy themes. Strether waited to the
end, but still in vain, for any show that Jim had seen Chad as
different; and he could scarce have explained the
discouragement
he
drew from the absence of this testimony. It was what he had
taken his own stand on, so far as he had taken a stand; and if
they were all only going to see nothing he had only
wasted his
time
. He gave his friend till the very last moment, till they had
come into sight of the hotel; and when poor Pocock only continued
cheerful and envious and funny he fairly grew to dislike him, to
feel him extravagantly common. If they were ALL going to see
nothing!--Strether knew, as this came back to him, that he was
also letting Pocock represent for him what Mrs. Newsome wouldn't
see. He went on disliking, in the light of Jim's commonness, to
talk to him about that lady; yet just before the cab pulled up he
knew the extent of his desire for the real word from Woollett.

"Has Mrs. Newsome at all given way--?"

"
'Given way'?"--Jim echoed it with the practical derision of his
sense of a
long past.

"Under the
strain, I mean, of hope deferred, of disappointment
repeated and thereby intensified."

"Oh is she
prostrate, you mean?"--he had his categories in hand.
"Why yes, she's
prostrate--just as Sally is. But they're never so
lively, you know, as when they're prostrate."

"Ah Sarah's
prostrate?" Strether vaguely murmured.

"It's when they're prostrate that they most sit up."

"And Mrs. Newsome's sitting up?"

"All night, my boy--for YOU!" And
Jim fetched him, with a vulgar
little guffaw, a thrust that gave relief to the picture
. But he
had got what he wanted. He
felt on the spot that this WAS the real
word from Woollett. "So don't you go home!" Jim
added while he
alighted and while his friend, letting him profusely pay the
cabman, sat on in a
momentary muse. Strether wondered if that
were the real word too.




III



She was alone, he found himself assuming, with Sarah, and there
was a bearing in that--somehow beyond his control--on his
personal fate. Yet she was only saying something quite easy
and independent--the thing she had come, as a good friend of
Chad's, on purpose to say. "There isn't anything at all--? I
should be so delighted."

It was clear enough, when they were there before him, how she had
been
received. He saw this, as Sarah got up to greet him, from
something
fairly hectic in Sarah's face. He saw furthermore that
they weren't, as had first come to him, alone together; he was at
no loss as to the identity of the
broad high back presented to
him in the embrasure of the window furthest from the door.
Waymarsh,
whom he had to-day not yet seen, whom he only knew to
have left the hotel before him, and who had taken part, the night
previous, on Mrs. Pocock's kind invitation, conveyed by Chad, in
the entertainment, informal but cordial, promptly offered by that
lady--Waymarsh had anticipated him even as Madame de Vionnet had
done, and, with his hands in his pockets and his attitude
unaffected by Strether's entrance, was looking out, in marked
detachment, at the Rue de Rivoli. The latter felt it in the air--
it was
immense how Waymarsh could mark things---that he had remained
deeply dissociated from the overture to their hostess that we have
recorded on Madame de Vionnet's side. He had,
conspicuously, tact,
besides a
stiff general view; and this was why he had left Mrs.
Pocock to
struggle alone. He would outstay the visitor; he would
unmistakeably wait; to what had he been doomed for months past but
waiting? Therefore she was to feel that she had him in reserve.
What support she drew from this was still to be seen, for, although
Sarah was vividly bright, she had given herself up for the moment
to an ambiguous flushed formalism
. She had had to reckon more
quickly than she expected; but it concerned her first of all to
signify that she was not to be taken unawares. Strether arrived
precisely in time for her showing it. "Oh you're too
good; but I
don't think I feel quite
helpless. I have my brother--and these
American friends.
And then you know I've been to Paris. I KNOW
Paris," said Sally Pocock in a tone that breathed a certain chill
on Strether's heart.


"Ah but a woman, in this tiresome place where everything's always
changing, a woman of good will," Madame de Vionnet
threw off, "can
always help a woman. I'm sure you
'know'--but we know perhaps
different things." She too, visibly, wished to make no mistake; but
it was a fear of a different order and more kept out of sight. She
smiled in welcome at Strether; she greeted him more familiarly than
Mrs. Pocock; she put out her hand to him without moving from her
place; and
it came to him in the course of a minute and in the
oddest way that--yes, positively--she was giving him over to ruin.
She was all kindness and ease, but she couldn't help so giving him;
she was exquisite, and her being just as she was poured for Sarah a
sudden rush of meaning into his own equivocations.
How could she
know how she was
hurting him? She wanted to show as simple and
humble--in the degree compatible with operative charm; but it was
just this that seemed to put him on her side. She struck him as
dressed, as arranged, as prepared infinitely to conciliate--with
the very
poetry of good taste in her view of the conditions of her
early call
. She was ready to advise about dressmakers and shops;
she held herself wholly at the disposition of Chad's family.
Strether noticed her card on the table--her coronet and her
"Comtesse"--and the imagination was sharp in him of certain private
adjustments in Sarah's mind
. She had never, he was sure, sat with a
"Comtesse" before, and such was the specimen of that class he had
been keeping to play on her. She had crossed the sea very
particularly for a look at her; but he read in Madame de Vionnet's
own eyes that this curiosity hadn't been so successfully met as
that she herself wouldn't now have more than ever need of him. She
looked much as she had looked to him that morning at Notre Dame; he
noted in fact the suggestive sameness of her discreet and delicate
dress. It seemed to speak--perhaps a little prematurely or too
finely--of the sense in which she would help Mrs. Pocock with the
shops. The way that lady took her in, moreover, added depth to his
impression of what Miss Gostrey, by their common wisdom, had
escaped. He winced as he saw himself but for that timely prudence
ushering in Maria as a guide and an example. There was however a
touch of relief for him in his glimpse, so far as he had got it, of
Sarah's line.
She "knew Paris." Madame de Vionnet had, for that
matter, lightly taken this up. "Ah then you've a turn for that, an
affinity that belongs to your family. Your brother, though his long
experience makes a difference, I admit, has become one of us in a
marvellous way." And she appealed to Strether in the manner of a
woman who could always glide off with smoothness into another
subject. Wasn't HE struck with the way Mr. Newsome had made the
place his own, and hadn't he been in a position to profit by his
friend's wondrous expertness
?

Strether felt the bravery, at the least, of her presenting herself
so promptly to sound that note,
and yet asked himself what other
note, after all, she COULD
strike from the moment she presented
herself at all. She could meet Mrs. Pocock only on the ground of
the obvious, and what feature of Chad's situation was more
eminent
than the fact that he had
created for himself a new set of
circumstances? Unless she hid herself altogether she could show but
as one of these, an
illustration of his domiciled and indeed of his
confirmed condition. And the consciousness of all this in her
charming eyes was so clear and fine that as she thus publicly drew
him into her boat she produced in him such a silent agitation as he
was not to fail afterwards to denounce as pusillanimous.
"Ah don't
be so
charming to me!--for it makes us intimate, and after all what
IS between us when I've been so
tremendously on my guard and have
seen you but half a dozen times?" He
recognised once more the
perverse law that so inveterately governed his poor personal
aspects
: it would be exactly LIKE the way things always turned out
for him that he should
affect Mrs. Pocock and Waymarsh as launched
in a relation in which he had really never been
launched at all.
They were at this very moment--they could only be--attributing to
him the full licence of it, and all by the operation of her own
tone with him; whereas his sole licence had been to cling with
intensity to the brink, not to dip so much as a toe into the flood.

But the flicker of his fear on this occasion was not, as may be
added, to repeat itself; it
sprang up, for its moment, only to die
down
and then go out for ever. To meet his fellow visitor's
invocation and, with Sarah's brilliant eyes on him, answer, WAS
quite sufficiently to step into her boat. During the rest of the
time her visit lasted
he felt himself proceed to each of the proper
offices, successively, for helping to keep the adventurous skiff
afloat. It rocked beneath him, but he settled himself in his place.
He took up an oar and, since he was to have the credit of pulling,
pulled.






"It's he, I gather, who has learnt to know his Paris, and to love
it, better than any one ever before in so short a time; so that
between him and your brother, when it comes to the point, how
can you possibly want for good
guidance? The great thing, Mr.
Strether will show you," she
smiled, "is just to let one's self go."

"Oh I've
not let myself go very far," Strether answered, feeling
quite as if he had been called upon to hint to Mrs. Pocock how
Parisians could talk. "I'm only afraid of showing I haven't
let
myself go
far enough. I've taken a good deal of time, but I must
quite have had the air of
not budging from one spot." He looked at
Sarah in a manner that he thought she might take as engaging, and
he made, under Madame de Vionnet's protection, as it were, his
first personal point. "What has really happened has been that, all
the while, I've done what I came out for."

Yet it only at first gave Madame de Vionnet a chance immediately to
take him up. "You've renewed acquaintance with your friend--you've
learnt to know him again." She spoke with such cheerful helpfulness
that they might, in a common cause, have been calling together and
pledged to mutual aid.

Waymarsh, at this, as if he had been in question, straightway
turned
from the window. "Oh yes, Countess--he has renewed
acquaintance
with ME, and he HAS, I guess, learnt something about
me, though I don't know how much he has
liked it. It's for Strether
himself to say whether he has felt it
justifies his course."

"Oh but YOU," said the Countess
gaily, "are not in the least what
he came out for--is he really, Strether? and I hadn't you at all in
my mind. I was thinking of Mr. Newsome, of whom we think so much
and with whom, precisely,
Mrs. Pocock has given herself the
opportunity to take up threads. What a pleasure for you both!"

Madame de Vionnet, with her eyes on Sarah, bravely continued.

Mrs. Pocock
met her handsomely, but Strether quickly saw she meant
to
accept no version of her movements or plans from any other lips.
She required no patronage and no support, which were but other
names for a false position; she would show in her own way what she
chose to show, and this she expressed with a dry glitter that
recalled to him a fine Woollett winter morning.
"I've never wanted
for opportunities to
see my brother. We've many things to think of
at home, and
great responsibilities and occupations, and our home's
not an
impossible place. We've plenty of reasons," Sarah continued
a little piercingly
, "for everything we do"--and in short she
wouldn't give herself the least little scrap away. But she added as
one who was always
bland and who could afford a concession: "I've
come because--well, because we do come."

"Ah then
fortunately!"--Madame de Vionnet breathed it to the air.
Five minutes later they were on their feet for her to take leave,
standing together in an affability that had succeeded in surviving
a further
exchange of remarks; only with the emphasised appearance
on Waymarsh's part of a tendency to
revert, in a ruminating manner
and as
with an instinctive or a precautionary lightening of his
tread,
to an open window and his point of vantage. The glazed and
gilded room, all red damask, ormolu, mirrors, clocks, looked south,
and the shutters were bowed upon the summer morning; but the
Tuileries garden and what was beyond it, over which the whole place
hung, were things visible through gaps; so that the far-spreading
presence of Paris came up in coolness, dimness and invitation, in
the twinkle of gilt-tipped palings, the crunch of gravel, the click
of hoofs, the crack of whips, things that suggested some parade of
the circus
. "I think it probable," said Mrs. Pocock, "that I shall
have the opportunity of going to my brother's I've no doubt it's
very
pleasant indeed." She spoke as to Strether, but her face was
turned
with an intensity of brightness to Madame de Vionnet, and
there was a moment during which, while she thus
fronted her, our
friend
expected to hear her add: "I'm much obliged to you, I'm
sure, for
inviting me there." He guessed that for five seconds
these words were on the point of
coming; he heard them as clearly
as if they had
been spoken; but he presently knew they had just
failed--knew it by a glance, quick and fine, from Madame de
Vionnet, which told him that she too had
felt them in the air, but
that the point had luckily not been made in any manner requiring
notice. This left her free to reply only to what had been said.

"That the Boulevard Malesherbes may be common ground for us offers
me the best prospect I see for the pleasure of meeting you again."

"Oh I shall come to see you, since you've been so good": and Mrs.
Pocock looked her invader well in the eyes. The flush in Sarah's
cheeks had by this time settled to a small definite crimson spot
that was not without its own bravery;
she held her head a good deal
up, and it came to Strether that of the two, at this moment, she
was the one who most carried out the idea of a Countess. He quite
took in, however, that she would really return her visitor's
civility: she wouldn't report again at Woollett without at least so
much
producible history as that in her pocket.

"I want extremely to be able to show you my little daughter."
Madame de Vionnet went on; "and I should have brought her with me
if I hadn't wished first to
ask your leave. I was in hopes I should
perhaps find Miss Pocock, of whose being with you I've heard from
Mr. Newsome and whose acquaintance I should so much like my child
to make. If I have the pleasure of seeing her and you do permit it
I shall venture to ask her to be kind to Jeanne. Mr. Strether will
tell you"--she beautifully kept it up--"that my poor girl is gentle
and
good and rather lonely. They've made friends, he and she, ever
so
happily, and he doesn't, I believe, think ill of her. As for
Jeanne herself he has had the same success with her that I know he
has had here wherever he has turned." She seemed to ask him for
permission to say these things, or seemed rather to take it, softly
and
happily, with the ease of intimacy, for granted, and he had
quite the consciousness now that not to
meet her at any point more
than halfway would be
odiously, basely to abandon her. Yes, he was
WITH her, and, opposed even in this
covert, this semi-safe fashion
to those who were not, he felt,
strangely and confusedly, but
excitedly, inspiringly, how much and how far.





"As his success is a matter that I'm sure he'll never mention
for himself, I feel, you see, the less scruple; which it's very
good of me to say, you know, by the way," she added as she
addressed herself to him; "considering how little direct
advantage
I've gained from your triumphs with ME. When does one
ever see you? I wait at home and I
languish. You'll have rendered
me the service, Mrs. Pocock, at least," she wound up, "of giving
me one of my
much-too-rare glimpses of this gentleman."

"I certainly should be sorry to
deprive you of anything that seems
so much, as you
describe it, your natural due. Mr. Strether and I
are very old friends," Sarah
allowed, "but the privilege of his
society isn't a thing I shall quarrel about with any one."

"And yet, dear Sarah," he freely broke in, "I feel, when I hear you
say that, that you don't quite do justice to the important truth of
the extent to which--as you're also mine--I'm your natural due. I
should like much better," he laughed, "to see you fight for me."

She met him, Mrs. Pocock, on this, with an arrest of speech--with a
certain breathlessness, as he immediately fancied, on the score of
a freedom for which she wasn't quite prepared.
It had flared up--
for all the
harm he had intended by it--because, confoundedly, he
didn't want any more to be
afraid about her than he wanted to be
afraid about Madame de Vionnet. He had never, naturally, called her
anything but Sarah at home, and though he had perhaps never quite
so
markedly invoked her as his "dear," that was somehow partly
because no occasion had hitherto
laid so effective a trap for it.
But something
admonished him now that it was too late--unless
indeed it were possibly too early; and that he at any rate
shouldn't have
pleased Mrs. Pocock the more by it. "Well, Mr.
Strether--!" she murmured with vagueness, yet with sharpness, while
her crimson spot burned a trifle brighter
and he was aware that
this must be for the present the
limit of her response. Madame de
Vionnet had already, however,
come to his aid, and Waymarsh, as if
for further
participation, moved again back to them. It was true
that the
aid rendered by Madame de Vionnet was questionable; it was
a sign that, for all one might
confess to with her, and for all she
might
complain of not enjoying, she could still insidiously show
how much of the material of conversation had accumulated between
them.


"The real truth is, you know, that you sacrifice one without mercy
to
dear old Maria. She leaves no room in your life for anybody
else. Do you know," she enquired of Mrs. Pocock, "about dear old
Maria? The worst is that Miss Gostrey is really a wonderful woman."

"Oh yes indeed," Strether answered for her, "Mrs. Pocock knows
about Miss Gostrey. Your mother, Sarah, must have told you about
her; your mother knows everything," he
sturdily pursued. "And I
cordially admit," he added with his conscious gaiety of courage,
"that she's as wonderful a woman as you like."

"Ah it isn't I who 'like,' dear Mr. Strether, anything to do with
the matter!" Sarah Pocock promptly protested;
"and I'm by no means
sure I have--from my mother or from any one else--a notion of whom
you're talking about."

"Well, he won't let you see her, you know," Madame de Vionnet
sympathetically threw in. "He never lets me--old friends as we are:
I mean as I am with Maria.
He reserves her for his best hours;
keeps her consummately to himself; only gives us others the crumbs
of the feast."

"Well, Countess, I'VE had some of the crumbs," Waymarsh observed
with weight and covering her with his large look;
which led her to
break in before he could go on.

"
Comment donc, he shares her with YOU?" she exclaimed in droll
stupefaction
. "Take care you don't have, before you go much
further, rather more of all ces dames than you may know what to do
with!"

But he only continued in his massive way. "I can post you about the
lady, Mrs. Pocock, so far as you may care to hear. I've seen her
quite a number of times, and I was practically present when they
made acquaintance. I've kept my eye on her right along, but I don't
know as there's any real
harm in her."

"
'Harm'?" Madame de Vionnet quickly echoed. "Why she's the dearest
and
cleverest of all the clever and dear."

"Well, you run her pretty close, Countess," Waymarsh returned with
spirit
; "though there's no doubt she's pretty well up in things.
She knows her way round Europe. Above all there's no doubt she does
love Strether."

"Ah but we all do that--we all love Strether: it isn't a merit!"
their fellow visitor laughed, keeping to her idea with a good
conscience at which our friend was aware that he
marvelled, though
he
trusted also for it, as he met her exquisitely expressive eyes,
to some later light.

The prime effect of her tone, however--and it was a truth which
his
own eyes gave back to her in sad ironic play
--could only be to make
him feel that, to say such things to a man in public, a woman must
practically think of him as ninety years old. He had
turned
awkwardly, responsively red,
he knew, at her mention of Maria
Gostrey; Sarah Pocock's presence--the
particular quality of it--had
made this
inevitable; and then he had grown still redder in
proportion as he hated to have shown anything at all.
He felt
indeed that he was
showing much, as, uncomfortably and almost in
pain, he offered up his redness to Waymarsh, who, strangely enough,
seemed now to be looking at him with a certain explanatory
yearning. Something deep--something built on their old old
relation--passed, in this complexity, between them; he got the
side-wind of a loyalty that stood behind all actual queer
questions. Waymarsh's dry bare humour--as it gave itself to be
taken--gloomed out to demand justice. "Well, if you talk of Miss
Barrace I've MY chance too," it appeared stiffly to nod,
and it
granted that it was giving him away, but struggled to add that it
did so only to
save him. The sombre glow stared it at him till it
fairly sounded out
--"to save you, poor old man, to save you; to
save
you in spite of yourself." Yet it was somehow just this
communication that showed him to himself as more than ever
lost.
Still another result of it was to put before him as never yet that
between his comrade and the
interest represented by Sarah there was
already a basis. Beyond all question now, yes: Waymarsh had been in
occult relation with Mrs. Newsome--out, out it all came in the very
effort of his face. "Yes, you're
feeling my hand"--he as good as
proclaimed it; "but only because this at least I SHALL have got out
of the damned Old World: that I shall have picked up the pieces
into which it has caused you to crumble
." It was as if in short,
after an instant, Strether had not only had it from him, but had
recognised that so far as this went the instant had cleared the
air
. Our friend understood and approved; he had the sense that they
wouldn't otherwise speak of it. This would be all, and it would
mark in himself a kind of
intelligent generosity. It was with grim
Sarah then--Sarah grim for all her grace--that Waymarsh had begun
at ten o'clock in the morning to save him. Well--if he COULD, poor
dear man, with his big bleak kindness!
The upshot of which crowded
perception was that Strether, on his own side, still showed no more
than he absolutely had to. He showed the least possible by saying
to Mrs. Pocock after an interval much
briefer than our glance at
the picture
reflected in him: "Oh it's as true as they please!--
There's no Miss Gostrey for any one but me--not the least little
peep. I keep her to myself."

"Well, it's very good of you to
notify me," Sarah replied without
looking at him and thrown for a moment by this
discrimination, as
the direction of her eyes showed, upon a dimly desperate little
community with Madame de Vionnet
. "But I hope I shan't miss her too
much."





"That vow needn't keep you long, fortunately," Sarah observed with
reasserted suavity
. "I shall be at present but a short time in
Paris. I have my plans for other countries. I meet
a number of
charming friends"--and her voice seemed to caress that description
of these persons.


"Ah then," her visitor
cheerfully replied, "all the more reason!
To-morrow, for instance, or next day?" she continued to Strether.
"Tuesday would
do for me beautifully."

"Tuesday then with
pleasure."

"And at half-past five?--or at six?"

It was
ridiculous, but Mrs. Pocock and Waymarsh struck him as
fairly waiting for his answer. It was indeed as if they were
arranged, gathered for a performance, the performance of "Europe"
by his confederate and himself. Well, the performance could only
go on. "Say five forty-five."


"Five forty-five--good." And now at last Madame de Vionnet must
leave them, though it carried, for herself, the performance a
little further. "I DID hope so much also to see Miss Pocock.
Mayn't I still?"

Sarah hesitated, but she rose equal. "She'll return your visit with
me. She's at present out with Mr. Pocock and my brother."

"I see--of course Mr. Newsome has everything to show them. He has
told me so much about her. My great desire's to give my daughter
the opportunity of making her acquaintance. I'm always on the
lookout for such chances for her. If I didn't bring her to-day it
was only to make sure first that you'd let me." After which the
charming woman risked a more intense appeal.
"It wouldn't suit you
also to mention some near time, so that we shall be sure not to
lose you?"
Strether on his side waited, for Sarah likewise had,
after all, to
perform; and it occupied him to have been thus
reminded that she had
stayed at home--and on her first morning of
Paris--while Chad led the others forth.
Oh she was up to her eyes;
if she had stayed at home she had stayed by an understanding,
arrived at the evening before, that Waymarsh would come and find
her alone. This was beginning well--for a first day in Paris; and
the thing might be
amusing yet. But Madame de Vionnet's earnestness
was meanwhile
beautiful. "You may think me indiscreet, but I've
SUCH a
desire my Jeanne shall know an American girl of the really
delightful
kind. You see I throw myself for it on your charity."

The manner of this speech
gave Strether such a sense of depths
below it and behind it as he hadn't yet had--
ministered in a way
that almost frightened him to his dim divinations of reasons
; but
if Sarah still, in spite of it,
faltered, this was why he had time
for a sign of
sympathy with her petitioner. "Let me say then, dear
lady, to
back your plea, that Miss Mamie is of the most delightful
kind of all--is
charming among the charming."

Even Waymarsh, though with more to produce on the subject, could
get into motion in time. "Yes, Countess, the American girl's a
thing that your country must at least allow ours the privilege to
say we CAN show you. But her
full beauty is only for those who know
how to
make use of her."

"Ah then," smiled Madame de Vionnet, "that's exactly what I want to
do. I'm sure she has much to
teach us."

It was
wonderful, but what was scarce less so was that Strether
found himself, by the
quick effect of it, moved another way. "Oh
that may be! But don't speak of your own
exquisite daughter, you
know, as if she weren't
pure perfection. I at least won't take that
from you
. Mademoiselle de Vionnet," he explained, in considerable
form, to Mrs. Pocock, "IS
pure perfection. Mademoiselle de Vionnet
IS
exquisite."

It had been perhaps a little portentous, but "Ah?" Sarah simply
glittered
.

Waymarsh himself, for that matter, apparently recognised, in
respect to the facts,
the need of a larger justice, and he had with
it an
inclination to Sarah. "Miss Jane's strikingly handsome--
in the
regular French style."

It somehow made both Strether and Madame de Vionnet
laugh out,
though at the very moment he
caught in Sarah's eyes, as glancing at
the speaker, a
vague but unmistakeable "You too?" It made Waymarsh
in fact look consciously over her head. Madame de Vionnet
meanwhile, however, made her point in her own way. "I wish indeed I
could offer you my poor child as a dazzling attraction:
it would
make one's position simple enough! She's as good as she can be, but
of course she's different, and the question is now--in the light of
the way things seem to go--if she isn't after all TOO different:
too
different I mean from the splendid type every one is so agreed
that your
wonderful country produces. On the other hand of course
Mr. Newsome, who knows it so well, has, as a good friend, dear kind
man that he is, done everything he can--
to keep us from fatal
benightedness
--for my small shy creature. Well," she wound up after
Mrs. Pocock had
signified, in a murmur still a little stiff, that
she would speak to her own young charge on the question--"well, we
shall
sit, my child and I, and wait and wait and wait for you." But
her last fine turn was for Strether. "Do speak of us in such a way--!"




               Book 9


I


"The difficulty is," Strether said to Madame de Vionnet a couple of
days later, "that I can't surprise them into the smallest sign of
his not being the same old Chad they've been for the last three
years
glowering at across the sea. They simply won't give any, and
as a policy, you know--what you call a parti pris, a
deep game--
that's positively
remarkable."

It was so remarkable that our friend had pulled up before his
hostess with the vision of it; he had risen from his chair at the
end of ten minutes and begun, as a help not to worry, to move about
before her quite as he moved before Maria. He had kept his
appointment with her to the minute and had been intensely impatient,
though divided in truth between the sense of having everything
to tell her and the sense of having nothing at all. The short
interval had, in the face of their
complication, multiplied his
impressions--it being meanwhile to be noted, moreover, that he
already
frankly, already almost publicly, viewed the complication
as
common to them. If Madame de Vionnet, under Sarah's eyes, had
pulled him into her boat, there was by this time no doubt whatever
that he had
remained in it and that what he had really most been
conscious of for many hours together was the movement of the vessel
itself. They were in it together this moment as they hadn't yet
been, and he hadn't at present
uttered the least of the words of
alarm or remonstrance that had died on his lips at the hotel. He
had other things to say to her than that she had put him in a
position; so quickly had his position
grown to affect him as quite
excitingly, altogether richly, inevitable. That the outlook,
however--given the point of exposure--hadn't cleared up half so
much as he had reckoned was the first warning she received from him
on his arrival. She had replied with indulgence that he was in too
great a hurry, and had remarked soothingly that if she knew how to
be
patient surely HE might be. He felt her presence, on the spot,
he
felt her tone and everything about her, as an aid to that effort;
and it was perhaps one of the
proofs of her success with him
that he seemed so much to take his
ease while they talked.
By the time he had explained to her why his
impressions, though
multiplied, still baffled him, it was as if he had been familiarly
talking for hours. They baffled him because Sarah--well, Sarah was
deep, deeper than she had ever yet had a chance to show herself.
He didn't say that this was
partly the effect of her opening so
straight down, as it were, into her mother, and that, given
Mrs. Newsome's profundity, the shaft thus sunk might well have a reach;

but he wasn't without a resigned apprehension that, at such a rate
of confidence between the two women, he was likely soon to be moved
to show how already, at moments, it had been for him as if he were
dealing directly with Mrs. Newsome. Sarah, to a certainty, would
have begun herself to feel it in him--and this naturally put it in
her power to
torment him the more. From the moment she knew he
COULD be tormented--!

"But WHY can you be?"--his companion was surprised at his use of
the word.

"Because I'm made so--I think of everything."

"Ah one must never do that," she smiled. "One must think of as few
things as possible."

"Then," he answered, "one must pick them out right. But all I mean
is--for I
express myself with violence--that she's in a position to
watch me. There's an element of suspense for me, and she can see me
wriggle.
But my wriggling doesn't matter," he pursued. "I can bear
it. Besides,
I shall wriggle out."

The picture at any rate stirred in her an appreciation that he felt
to be
sincere. "I don't see how a man can be kinder to a woman than
you are to me."

Well, kind was what he wanted to be; yet even while her
charming
eyes
rested on him with the truth of this he none the less had his
humour of honesty
. "When I say suspense I mean, you know," he
laughed, "suspense about my own case too!"

"Oh yes--about your own case too!"
It diminished his magnanimity,
but she only looked at him the more tenderly
.

"Not, however," he went on, "that I want to talk to you about that.
It's my own little affair, and I
mentioned it simply as part of
Mrs. Pocock's
advantage." No, no; though there was a queer present
temptation
in it, and his suspense was so real that to fidget was a
relief, he wouldn't talk to her about Mrs. Newsome, wouldn't work
off
on her the anxiety produced in him by Sarah's calculated
omissions of reference. The effect she produced of representing her
mother had been
produced--and that was just the immense, the
uncanny part of it--without her having so much as mentioned that
lady. She had brought no message, had
alluded to no question, had
only
answered his enquiries with hopeless limited propriety. She
had
invented a way of meeting them--as if he had been a polite
perfunctory poor relation, of distant degree
--that made them almost
ridiculous in him.He couldn't moreover on his own side ask much
without
appearing to publish how he had lately lacked news;
a circumstance of which it was Sarah's
profound policy not to betray
a
suspicion. These things, all the same, he wouldn't breathe to
Madame de Vionnet--much as they might make him walk up and down.

And what he didn't say--as well as what SHE didn't, for she had
also her high decencies--enhanced the effect of his being there
with her at the end of ten minutes more intimately on the basis of
saving her than he had yet had occasion to be. It ended in fact by
being quite beautiful between them, the number of things they had a
manifest consciousness of not saying
. He would have liked to turn
her,
critically, to the subject of Mrs. Pocock, but he so stuck to
the line
he felt to be the point of honour and of delicacy that he
scarce even asked her what her personal impression had been.
He knew it, for that matter, without putting her to trouble:
that she wondered how, with such elements, Sarah could still have
no
charm, was one of the principal things she held her tongue about.
Strether would have been interested in her estimate of the elements--
indubitably there, some of them, and to be appraised according to
taste--but he denied himself even the luxury of this diversion. The
way Madame de Vionnet affected him to-day was in itself a kind of
demonstration of the happy employment of gifts.
How could a woman
think Sarah had charm who struck one as having arrived at it
herself by such different roads? On the other hand of course Sarah
wasn't obliged to have it. He felt as if somehow Madame de Vionnet
WAS. The great question meanwhile was what Chad thought of his
sister; which was naturally ushered in by that of Sarah's
apprehension of Chad. THAT they could talk of, and with a freedom
purchased by their discretion in other senses. The difficulty
however was that they were
reduced as yet to conjecture. He had
given them in the day or two as little of a lead as Sarah, and
Madame de Vionnet mentioned that she hadn't seen him since his
sister's arrival.

"And does that
strike you as such an age?"

She
met it in all honesty. "Oh I won't pretend I don't miss him.
Sometimes I see him every day. Our friendship's like that. Make
what you will of it!" she
whimsically smiled; a little flicker of
the kind, occasional in her, that had more than once
moved him to
wonder what he might best make of HER. "But he's perfectly right,"
she
hastened to add, "and I wouldn't have him fail in any way at
present for the world. I'd sooner not see him for three months.
I
begged him to be beautiful to them, and he fully feels it for
himself."

Strether
turned away under his quick perception; she was so odd a
mixture of
lucidity and mystery. She fell in at moments with the
theory about her he most
cherished, and she seemed at others to
blow it into air. She spoke now as if her art were all an
innocence, and then again as if her innocence were all an art
.
"Oh he's giving himself up, and he'll do so to the end. How can he
but want, now that it's within reach, his full impression?--which is
much more important, you know, than either yours or mine. But he's
just soaking,
" Strether said as he came back; "he's going in
conscientiously for a saturation
. I'm bound to say he IS very good."

"Ah," she quietly replied, "to whom do you say it?" And then more
quietly still
: "He's capable of anything."

Strether more than
reaffirmed--"Oh he's excellent. I more and more
like," he
insisted, "to see him with them;" though the oddity of
this tone between them
grew sharper for him even while they spoke.
It
placed the young man so before them as the result of her
interest and the product of her genius, acknowledged so her part in
the phenomenon and made the phenomenon so rare, that more than ever
yet he might have been on the very point of asking her for some
more detailed account of the whole business than he had yet
received from her. The occasion almost forced upon him some
question as to how she had
managed and as to the appearance such
miracles presented from her own
singularly close place of survey.
The moment in fact however passed, giving way to more present
history, and he continued simply to mark his appreciation of the
happy truth. "It's a tremendous comfort to feel how one can trust
him." And then again while for a little she said nothing--as if
after all to HER trust there might be a special limit: "I mean for
making a good show to them."

"Yes," she thoughtfully returned--"but if they shut their eyes
to
it!"

-------------------------------------------------------------

"Hasn't he given you Jim? Hasn't he before this 'done' him
for you?"
He was a little at a loss. "Doesn't he tell you
things?"

She hesitated. "No"--and their eyes once more gave and took.
"Not as you do. You
somehow make me see them--or at least feel them.
And I haven't asked too much," she added; "I've of late wanted so
not to worry him."

"Ah for that, so have I," he said with encouraging assent; so that--
as if she had answered everything--they were briefly sociable on it.
It threw him back on his other thought, with which he took another
turn; stopping again, however, presently with something of a glow.
"You see Jim's really
immense. I think it will be Jim who'll do it."

She wondered. "
Get hold of him?"

"No--just the other thing.
Counteract Sarah's spell." And he
showed now, our friend, how far he had worked it out. "Jim's
intensely cynical."

"Oh
dear Jim!" Madame de Vionnet vaguely smiled.

"Yes,
literally--dear Jim! He's awful. What HE wants, heaven
forgive him, is to help us."

"You mean"--she was
eager--"help ME?"

"Well, Chad and me in the first place. But he
throws you in too,
though without as yet
seeing you much. Only, so far as he does see
you--if you don't mind--
he sees you as awful."

"'Awful'?"--she wanted it all.

"A regular bad one--though of course of a tremendously superior kind.
Dreadful, delightful, irresistible."

"Ah dear Jim! I should like to know him. I MUST."


"Yes, naturally. But will it do? You may, you know," Strether
suggested, "
disappoint him."

She was droll and humble about it. "I can but try. But my
wickedness then," she went on, "is my recommendation for him?"


"Your wickedness and the charms with which, in such a degree as
yours, he associates it. He understands, you see, that Chad and I
have above all wanted to have a
good time, and his view is simple
and
sharp. Nothing will persuade him--in the light, that is, of my
behaviour--that I really didn't, quite as much as Chad, come over
to have one before it was too late. He wouldn't have expected it of
me; but men of my age, at Woollett--and especially the least likely
ones--
have been noted as liable to strange outbreaks, belated
uncanny clutches at the unusual, the ideal
. It's an effect that a
lifetime of Woollett has quite been
observed as having; and I thus
give it to you, in Jim's view, for what it's worth. Now his wife
and his mother-in-law," Strether continued to explain, "have, as in
honour bound, no patience with such phenomena, late or early--which
puts Jim, as against his relatives, on the other side. Besides," he
added, "I don't think he really wants Chad back. If Chad doesn't
come--"

"He'll have"--Madame de Vionnet quite apprehended--"more of the
free hand?"

"Well, Chad's the bigger man."

"So he'll work now,
en dessous, to keep him quiet?"

"No--he won't 'work' at all, and he won't
do anything en dessous.
He's very
decent and won't be a traitor in the camp. But he'll be
amused with his own little view of our duplicity, he'll sniff up
what he supposes to be Paris from morning till night, and he'll be,
as to the rest, for Chad--well, just what he is."

She thought it over. "A warning?"

He met it almost with glee. "You ARE as wonderful as everybody
says!"
And then to explain all he meant: "I drove him about for his
first hour, and
do you know what--all beautifully unconscious--he
most put before me? Why that something like THAT is at bottom, as
an improvement to his present state, as in fact the real redemption
of it, what they think it may not be too late to make of our
friend." With which, as, taking it in, she seemed, in her recurrent
alarm, bravely to gaze at the possibility, he completed his
statement. "But it IS too late. Thanks to you!"

It drew from her again one of her indefinite reflexions. "Oh 'me'--
after all!"

He stood before her so exhilarated by his demonstration that he
could fairly be jocular.
"Everything's comparative. You're better
than THAT."


-------------------------------------------------------------

"Miss Barrace is a
raffinee, and her amusement won't lose by Mrs.
Pocock. It will
gain rather--especially if Sarah triumphs and
she
comes in for a view of it."

"How
well you know us!" Madame de Vionnet, at this, frankly sighed.

"No--it seems to me it's we that I know. I know Sarah--it's perhaps
on that ground only that my feet are
firm. Waymarsh will take her
round while Chad takes Jim--and I shall be, I assure you delighted
for both of them. Sarah will have had what she requires--she will
have
paid her tribute to the ideal; and he will have done about the
same. In Paris
it's in the air--so what can one do less? If there's
a point that, beyond any other, Sarah wants to make, it's that she
didn't
come out to be narrow. We shall feel at least that."

"Oh," she sighed, "the quantity we seem likely to 'feel'! But what
becomes, in these conditions, of the girl?"

"Of Mamie--if we're all provided? Ah for that," said Strether,
"you can trust Chad."

"To be, you mean, all right to her?"

"To pay her every attention as soon as he has polished off Jim.
He wants what Jim can give him--and what Jim really won't--though he
has had it all, and more than all, from me. He wants in short his
own
personal impression, and he'll get it--strong. But as soon as
he has got it Mamie won't
suffer."

"Oh Mamie mustn't SUFFER!" Madame de Vionnet soothingly emphasised.

-------------------------------------------------------------

"Yes," he smiled--"but somehow at home she wasn't a case.
She has become one since." It was as if he
made it out for himself.
"She has
become one here."

"So very very soon?"

He measured it, laughing. "Not sooner than I did."

"And you became one--?"

"Very very
soon. The day I arrived."

Her
intelligent eyes showed her thought of it. "Ah but the day you
arrived you met Maria. Whom has Miss Pocock met?"

He
paused again, but he brought it out. "Hasn't she met Chad?"

"
Certainly--but not for the first time. He's an old friend." At
which Strether had
a slow amused significant headshake that made
her
go on: "You mean that for HER at least he's a new person--
that she
sees him as different?"

"She
sees him as different."

"And how does she see him?"

Strether
gave it up. "How can one tell how a deep little girl sees
a
deep young man?"

"Is every one so
deep? Is she too?"

"So it
strikes me deeper than I thought. But wait a little--between
us we'll make it out. You'll judge for that matter yourself."

Madame de Vionnet looked for the moment fairly bent on the chance.
"Then she WILL come with her?--I mean Mamie with Mrs. Pocock?"

"Certainly. Her
curiosity, if nothing else, will in any case work
that. But
leave it all to Chad."

"Ah,"
wailed Madame de Vionnet, turning away a little wearily, "the
things I
leave to Chad!"

The tone of it made him
look at her with a kindness that showed his
vision of her suspense
. But he fell back on his confidence.
"Oh well--
trust him. Trust him all the way." He had indeed no sooner
so spoken than the
queer displacement of his point of view appeared
again to
come up for him in the very sound, which drew from him a
short laugh, immediately checked. He became still more advisory.
"When they do come give them plenty of Miss Jeanne. Let Mamie see
her well."

She
looked for a moment as if she placed them face to face.
"For Mamie to hate her?"

He had another of his
corrective headshakes. "Mamie won't.
Trust THEM."

-------------------------------------------------------------


And now at last he took leave of her, as he had been intending for
five minutes. But she went part of the way with him,
accompanying
him out of the room and into the next and the next
. Her noble old
apartment offered a succession of three, the first two of which
indeed, on entering, smaller than the last, but each with its faded
and formal air, enlarged the office of the antechamber and enriched
the sense of approach. Strether fancied them, liked them, and,
passing through them with her more slowly now, met a sharp renewal
of his original impression. He stopped, he looked back; the whole
thing made a vista, which he found high melancholy and sweet--full,
once more, of dim historic shades, of the faint faraway cannon-roar
of the great Empire. It was doubtless half the projection of his
mind, but his mind was a thing that, among old waxed parquets, pale
shades of pink and green, pseudo-classic candelabra, he had always
needfully to reckon with. They could easily make him irrelevant.
The oddity, the originality, the poetry--he didn't know what to
call it--of Chad's connexion reaffirmed for him its romantic side
.
"They ought to see this, you know. They MUST."

"The Pococks?"--she
looked about in deprecation; she seemed to see
gaps he didn't.


"Mamie and Sarah--Mamie in particular."

"My shabby old place? But THEIR things--!"

"Oh their things! You were talking of what will do something for
you--"

"So that it strikes you," she broke in, "that my poor place may?
Oh," she
ruefully mused, "that WOULD be desperate!"

"Do you know what I wish?" he went on. "I wish Mrs. Newsome herself
could have a look."

She
stared, missing a little his logic. "It would make a
difference?"

Her tone was so
earnest that as he continued to look about he
laughed. "It might!"


"But you've told her, you tell me--"

"All about you? Yes, a wonderful story. But there's all the
indescribable--what one gets only on the spot."

"Thank you!" she
charmingly and sadly smiled.

"It's all about me here," he freely continued. "Mrs. Newsome feels
things."

But she seemed
doomed always to come back to doubt. "No one feels
so much as YOU. No--not any one."

"So much the
worse then for every one. It's very easy."

They were by this time in the antechamber, still alone together, as
she hadn't rung for a servant
. The antechamber was high and square,
grave and suggestive too, a little cold and slippery even in
summer, and with a few old prints that were precious, Strether
divined, on the walls. He stood in the middle, slightly lingering,
vaguely directing his glasses,
while, leaning against the door-post
of the room, she
gently pressed her cheek to the side of the
recess. "YOU would have been a friend."

"I?"--it
startled him a little.

"For the reason you say. You're not
stupid." And then abruptly, as
if
bringing it out were somehow founded on that fact:
"We're
marrying Jeanne."

It
affected him on the spot as a move in a game, and he was even
then not without the sense that that wasn't the way Jeanne should
be married. But he
quickly showed his interest, though--as quickly
afterwards
struck him--with an absurd confusion of mind. "'You'?
You and--a--not Chad?" Of course it was the child's father who made
the 'we,' but to the child's father
it would have cost him an
effort to allude
. Yet didn't it seem the next minute that Monsieur
de Vionnet was after all not in question?--since she had gone on to
say that it was indeed to Chad she referred and that he had been in
the whole matter
kindness itself.

"If I must tell you all, it is he himself who has
put us in the
way. I mean in the way of an opportunity that, so far as I can yet
see, is all I could possibly have
dreamed of. For all the trouble
Monsieur de Vionnet will ever
take!" It was the first time she had
spoken to him of her husband, and he couldn't have
expressed how
much more
intimate with her it suddenly made him feel. It wasn't
much, in truth--there were other things in what she was saying that
were far more;
but it was as if, while they stood there together so
easily in these cold chambers of the past, the single touch had
shown the reach of her confidence.
"But our friend," she asked,
"hasn't then told you?"

"He has told me nothing."

"Well, it has come with rather a rush--all in a very few days; and
hasn't moreover yet taken a form that permits an
announcement. It's
only for you--absolutely you alone--that I speak; I so want you to
know."
The sense he had so often had, since the first hour of his
disembarkment, of being further and further "in," treated him again
at this moment to another twinge
; but in this wonderful way of her
putting him in there continued to be something exquisitely
remorseless.
"Monsieur de Vionnet will accept what he MUST accept.
He has
proposed half a dozen things--each one more impossible than
the other; and he wouldn't have
found this if he lives to a hundred.
Chad found it," she continued with
her lighted, faintly flushed,
her conscious confidential face,
"in the quietest way in the world.
Or rather it found HIM--for everything
finds him; I mean finds
him right. You'll think we
do such things strangely--but at my age,"
she
smiled, "one has to accept one's conditions. Our young man's people
had seen her; one of his sisters, a charming woman--we know all
about them--had observed her somewhere with me. She had spoken
to her brother--turned him on; and we were again observed, poor Jeanne
and I, without our in the least knowing it. It was at the beginning
of the winter; it went on for some time; it
outlasted our absence; it
began again on our return; and it
luckily seems all right. The
young man had met Chad, and he got a friend to
approach him--as
having a
decent interest in us. Mr. Newsome looked well before he
leaped; he kept beautifully quiet and satisfied himself fully; then
only he spoke.
It's what has for some time past occupied us. It
seems as if it were what would do; really, really all one could
wish. There are only two or three points to be settled--they depend
on her father. But this time I think we're safe."

Strether, consciously gaping a little, had fairly hung upon her
lip
s. "I hope so with all my heart." And then he permitted himself:
"Does nothing
depend on HER?"

"Ah
naturally; everything did. But she's pleased comme tout. She
has been
perfectly free; and he--our young friend--is really a
combination. I quite adore him."

Strether just made sure. "You mean your future son-in-law?"

"Future if we all bring it off."

"Ah well," said Strether decorously, "I heartily hope you may."
There seemed little else for him to say, though her
communication
had the oddest effect on him.
Vaguely and confusedly he was
troubled by it; feeling as if he had even himself been concerned in
something deep and dim. He had allowed for depths, but these were
greater: and it was as if, oppressively--indeed absurdly--he was
responsible for what they had now thrown up to the surface. It was--
through something ancient and cold in it--what he would have
called the real thing
. In short his hostess's news, though he
couldn't have explained why, was
a sensible shock, and his
oppression a weight he felt he must somehow or other immediately
get rid of. There were too many connexions missing to make it
tolerable he should do anything else. He was prepared to suffer--
before his own inner tribunal--for Chad; he was prepared to suffer
even for Madame de Vionnet
. But he wasn't prepared to suffer for
the little girl So now having said the
proper thing, he wanted to
get away. She held him an instant, however, with another
appeal.

"Do I seem to you very
awful?"

"
Awful? Why so?" But he called it to himself, even as he spoke, his
biggest insincerity yet.

"Our
arrangements are so different from yours."

"Mine?" Oh he could dismiss that too! "I haven't any arrangements."

"Then you must accept mine; all the more that they're excellent.
They're founded on a
vieille sagesse. There will be much more, if
all goes well, for you to hear and to know, and everything, believe
me, for you to like.
Don't be afraid; you'll be satisfied." Thus
she could talk to him of what, of her innermost life--for that was
what it came to--he must
"accept"; thus she could extraordinarily
speak as if in such an affair his being satisfied had an
importance.
It was all a wonder and made the whole case larger. He
had struck himself at the hotel, before Sarah and Waymarsh, as
being in her boat; but where on earth was he now? This question was
in the air till her own lips quenched it with another.
"And do you
suppose HE--who loves her so--would do anything
reckless or cruel?"

He wondered what he supposed. "Do you mean your young man--?"

"I mean yours. I mean Mr. Newsome." It flashed for Strether the
next moment a finer light, and the light deepened as she went on.
"He takes, thank God, the truest tenderest interest in her."

It deepened indeed
. "Oh I'm sure of that!"

"You were talking," she said, "about one's
trusting him. You see
then how I do."

He waited a moment--it all came. "I
see--I see." He felt he really
did
see.

"He wouldn't
hurt her for the world, nor--assuming she marries at
all--
risk anything that might make against her happiness. And--
willingly, at least--he would never hurt ME."

Her face, with what he had by this time
grasped, told him more than
her words; whether something had come into it, or whether he only
read
clearer
, her whole story--what at least he then took for such--reached
out
to him from it. With the initiative she now attributed to Chad
it all made a sense, and this sense--a light, a lead, was what had
abruptly risen before him. He wanted, once more, to get off with
these things;
which was at last made easy, a servant having, for
his assistance, on hearing voices in the hall, just come forward.
All that Strether had made out was, while the man opened the door
and impersonally waited, summed up in his last word. "I don't
think, you know, Chad will tell me anything."

"No--perhaps not yet."

"And I won't as yet speak to him."

"Ah that's as you'll think best. You must judge."

She had finally given him her hand, which he held a moment. "How
MUCH I have to
judge!"

"Everything," said Madame de Vionnet: a
remark that was indeed--
with
the refined disguised suppressed passion of her face--what he
most carried away.



II



So far as a direct approach was concerned Sarah had neglected him,
for the week now about to end,
with a civil consistency of chill
that, giving him a higher idea of her social resource, threw him
back on the
general reflexion that a woman could always be amazing.
It indeed helped a little to console him that he felt sure she had
for the same period also left Chad's curiosity hanging; though on
the other hand, for his personal relief, Chad could at least go
through the
various motions--and he made them extraordinarily
numerous
--of seeing she had a good time. There wasn't a motion on
which, in her presence,
poor Strether could so much as venture, and
all he could do when he was out of it was to walk over for a talk
with Maria. He walked over of course much less than usual, but he
found a special compensation in a certain half-hour during which,
toward the close of a crowded empty expensive day, his several
companions seemed to him so disposed of as to give his forms and
usages a rest.
He had been with them in the morning and had
nevertheless
called on the Pococks in the afternoon; but their
whole group, he then found, had
dispersed after a fashion of which
it would
amuse Miss Gostrey to hear. He was sorry again, gratefully
sorry
she was so out of it--she who had really put him in; but she
had
fortunately always her appetite for news. The pure flame of the
disinterested burned in her cave of treasures as a lamp in a
Byzantine vault
. It was just now, as happened, that for so fine a
sense as hers a near view would have begun to pay
. Within three
days, precisely, the situation on which he was to
report had shown
signs of an
equilibrium; the effect of his look in at the hotel was
to
confirm this appearance. If the equilibrium might only prevail!
Sarah was out with Waymarsh, Mamie was out with Chad, and Jim was
out alone. Later on indeed he himself was booked to Jim, was to
take him that evening to the Varieties--which Strether was careful
to pronounce as Jim pronounced them.

Miss Gostrey drank it in. "What then to-night do the others do?"

"Well, it has been
arranged. Waymarsh takes Sarah to dine at
Bignons.

She
wondered. "And what do they do after? They can't come straight
home."

"No, they can't
come straight home--at least Sarah can't.
It's their secret, but I think I've guessed it." Then as she waited:
"The circus."


It made her stare a moment longer, then laugh almost to
extravagance. "There's no one like you!"

"Like ME?"--he only wanted to understand.

"Like all of you together--like all of us: Woollett, Milrose and
their products.
We're abysmal--but may we never be less so!
Mr. Newsome," she continued, "meanwhile takes Miss Pocock--?"

"Precisely--to the Francais: to see what you took Waymarsh and me
to, a family-bill."

"Ah then may Mr. Chad enjoy it as I did!" But she saw so much in
things. "Do they spend their evenings, your young people, like
that,
alone together?"

"Well, they're young people--but they're old friends."

"I see, I see. And do THEY dine--for a difference--at Brebant's?"

"Oh where they dine is their secret too. But I've my idea that it
will be, very quietly, at Chad's own place."

"She'll come to him there alone?"

They looked at each other a moment. "He has known her from a child.
Besides," said Strether with emphasis, "Mamie's remarkable. She's
splendid."

She wondered. "Do you mean she expects to bring it off?"

"
Getting hold of him? No--I think not."

"She doesn't
want him enough?--or doesn't believe in her power?"
On which as he said nothing she continued: "She
finds she doesn't
care for him?"

"No--I think she finds she does. But that's what I mean by so
describing her. It's IF she does that she's
splendid. But we'll
see," he
wound up, "where she comes out."

"You seem to
show me sufficiently," Miss Gostrey laughed, "where
she
goes in! But is her childhood's friend," she asked, "permitting
himself
recklessly to flirt with her?"

"No--not that. Chad's also splendid. They're ALL splendid!" he
declared with a sudden strange sound of wistfulness and envy.
"They're at least
HAPPY."

"Happy?"--it appeared, with their various difficulties, to surprise
her.

"Well--I seem to myself among them the only one who isn't."

She demurred. "With your constant tribute to the ideal?"

He had a laugh at his tribute to the ideal, but he explained after
a moment his impression. "I mean they're
living. They're rushing
about. I've already had my
rushing. I'm waiting."

"But aren't you," she asked by way of
cheer, "waiting with ME?"

He
looked at her in all kindness. "Yes--if it weren't for that!"

"And you help me to wait," she said. "However," she went on, "I've
really something for you that will help you to wait and which you
shall have in a minute. Only there's something more I want from you
first. I revel in Sarah."

"So do I. If it weren't," he again amusedly sighed, "for THAT--!"

"Well, you owe more to women than any man I ever saw. We do seem to
keep you going. Yet Sarah, as I see her, must be great,"

"She IS "Strether fully assented: "great! Whatever happens, she
won't, with these
unforgettable days, have lived in vain."


Miss Gostrey had a pause. "You mean she has
fallen in love?"

"I mean she
wonders if she hasn't--and it serves all her purpose."

"It has indeed," Maria laughed, "served women's purposes before!"

"Yes--for giving in. But I doubt if the idea--as an idea--has ever
up to now answered so well for holding out
. That's HER tribute to
the
ideal--we each have our own. It's her romance--and it seems to
me better on the whole than mine. To have it in Paris too," he
explained--
"on this classic ground, in this charged infectious air,
with so sudden an intensity
: well, it's more than she expected. She
has had in short to
recognise the breaking out for her of a real
affinity
--and with everything to enhance the drama."

Miss Gostrey followed. "Jim for instance?"

"Jim.
Jim hugely enhances. Jim was made to enhance. And then
Mr. Waymarsh. It's the
crowning touch--it supplies the colour.
He's positively separated."

"And she herself unfortunately isn't--that supplies the colour
too." Miss Gostrey was all there. But somehow--! "Is HE in
love?"

Strether
looked at her a long time; then looked all about the room;
then
came a little nearer. "Will you never tell any one in the
world as long as ever you live?"

"Never." It was
charming.

"He thinks Sarah really is. But he has no
fear," Strether hastened
to
add.

"Of her being
affected by it?"

"Of HIS being
. He likes it, but he knows she can hold out. He's
helping her,
he's floating her over, by kindness."

Maria rather funnily considered it. "Floating her over in
champagne? The kindness of dining her, nose to nose, at the hour
when all Paris is crowding to profane delights, and in the--well,
in the great temple, as one hears of it, of pleasure?"


"That's just IT, for both of them," Strether insisted--"and all of
a supreme innocence. The Parisian place, the feverish hour, the
putting before her of a hundred francs' worth of food and drink,
which they'll scarcely touch--all that's the dear man's own
romance; the expensive kind, expensive in francs and centimes, in
which he abounds.
And the circus afterwards--which is cheaper, but
which he'll find some means of
making as dear as possible--that's
also HIS
tribute to the ideal. It does for him. He'll see her
through. They won't talk of anything worse than you and me."

"Well, we're bad enough perhaps, thank heaven," she laughed. "to
upset them! Mr. Waymarsh at any rate is a hideous old coquette."
And the next moment she had dropped everything for a different
pursuit. "What you don't appear to know is that Jeanne de Vionnet
has become engaged. She's to marry--it has been definitely
arranged--young Monsieur de Montbron."

He fairly blushed. "Then--if you know it--it's 'out'?"

"Don't I often know things that are NOT out? However," she said,
"this will be out to-morrow. But I see I've counted too much on
your
possible ignorance. You've been before me, and I don't make
you jump as I hoped."

He gave a
gasp at her insight. "You never fail! I've HAD my jump.
I had it when I first heard."

-------------------------------------------------------------

"You thought Chad wouldn't have told me?"

She hesitated. "Well, if he hasn't--"

"He hasn't. And yet the thing appears to have been practically his
doing. So there we are."

"There we are!" Maria candidly echoed.

"That's why I jumped. I jumped," he continued to explain, "because
it means, this
disposition of the daughter, that there's now
nothing else: nothing else but him and the mother."


"Still--it simplifies."

"It simplifies"--he fully concurred.
"But that's precisely where we
are. It
marks a stage in his relation. The act is his answer to
Mrs. Newsome's
demonstration."

"It tells," Maria asked, "the
worst?"

"The worst."

"But is the worst what he wants Sarah to know?"

"He doesn't care for Sarah."

At which Miss Gostrey's eyebrows went up. "You mean she has already
dished herself?"

Strether took a turn about; he had thought it out again and again
before this, to the end; but the vista seemed each time longer. "He
wants his good friend to know the best. I mean the
measure of his
attachment. She asked for a sign, and he thought of that one. There
it is."

"A
concession to her jealousy?"

Strether
pulled up. "Yes--call it that. Make it lurid--for that
makes my problem richer."

"Certainly, let us have it lurid--for I quite agree with you that
we want none of our problems poor.
But let us also have it clear.
Can he, in the midst of such a
preoccupation, or on the heels of
it, have
seriously cared for Jeanne?--cared, I mean, as a young man
at liberty would have cared?"

Well, Strether had
mastered it. "I think he can have thought it
would be
charming if he COULD care. It would be nicer."

"Nicer than being tied up to Marie?"

"Yes--than the
discomfort of an attachment to a person he can never
hope, short of a catastrophe, to marry.
And he was quite right,"
said Strether. "It would certainly have been nicer. Even when a
thing's already nice there mostly is some other thing that would
have been nicer--or as to which we wonder if it wouldn't. But his
question was all the same a dream. He COULDn't care in that way. He
IS tied up to Marie. The relation is too special and has gone too
far. It's the very basis, and his
recent lively contribution toward
establishing Jeanne in life has been his definite and final
acknowledgement to Madame de Vionnet that he has ceased squirming.
I doubt meanwhile," he went on, "if Sarah has at all directly
attacked him."

His companion
brooded. "But won't he wish for his own satisfaction
to make his ground good to her?"

"No--he'll
leave it to me, he'll leave everything to me. I 'sort
of' feel"--he worked it out--"that the
whole thing will come upon
me. Yes, I shall have every inch and every ounce of it. I shall be
USED for it--!" And Strether lost himself in the prospect. Then he
fancifully expressed the issue. "To the last drop of my blood."

Maria, however,
roundly protested. "Ah you'll please keep a drop
for ME. I shall have a use for it!"
--which she didn't however
follow up. She had come back the next moment to another matter.
"Mrs. Pocock, with her brother, is trusting only to her general
charm?"

"So it would seem."

"And the charm's not working?"

Well, Strether put it otherwise, "She's sounding the note of home--
which is the very best thing she can do."

"The best for Madame de Vionnet?"

"The best for home itself. The natural one; the right one."

"Right," Maria asked, "when it fails?"

Strether had a pause. "The difficulty's Jim. Jim's the note of
home."

She debated. "Ah
surely not the note of Mrs. Newsome."

But he had it all. "The note of the home for which Mrs. Newsome
wants him--the home of the business.
Jim stands, with his little
legs apart, at the door of THAT tent; and Jim is, frankly speaking,
extremely awful."


Maria
stared. "And you in, you poor thing, for your evening with
him?"

"Oh he's all right for ME!" Strether
laughed. "Any one's good
enough for ME. But Sarah shouldn't, all the same, have brought him.
She doesn't
appreciate him."

His friend was
amused with this statement of it. "Doesn't know, you
mean, how
bad he is?"

Strether shook his head with decision. "Not really."

She wondered. "Then doesn't Mrs. Newsome?"

It made him frankly do the same. "Well, no--since you ask me."

Maria rubbed it in. "Not really either?"

"Not at all. She
rates him rather high." With which indeed,
immediately, he
took himself up. "Well, he IS good too, in his way.
It
depends on what you want him for."

Miss Gostrey, however, wouldn't let it depend on anything--wouldn't
have it, and wouldn't want him, at any price. "It suits my book,"
she said, "that he should be impossible; and it suits it still
better," she more imaginatively added, "that Mrs. Newsome doesn't
know he is."




III



There they were yet again, accordingly, for two days more; when
Strether, on being, at Mrs. Pocock's hotel, ushered into that
lady's salon, found himself at first assuming a mistake on the part
of the servant who had introduced him and retired. The occupants
hadn't come in, for the room looked empty as only a room can look
in Paris, of a fine afternoon when the faint murmur of the huge
collective life, carried on out of doors, strays among scattered
objects even as a summer air idles in a lonely garden.
Our friend
looked about and hesitated; observed, on the evidence of a table
charged with purchases and other matters, that Sarah had become
possessed--by no aid from HIM--of the last number of the
salmon-coloured Revue; noted further that Mamie appeared to have
received a present of Fromentin's "Maitres d'Autrefois" from Chad,
who had written her name on the cover; and pulled up at the sight of
a heavy letter addressed in a hand he knew. This letter, forwarded
by a banker and arriving in Mrs. Pocock's absence, had been
placed
in evidence, and
it drew from the fact of its being unopened a sudden
queer power to intensify the reach of its author.
It brought home
to him the scale on which Mrs. Newsome--for she had been
copious
indeed this time--was
writing to her daughter while she kept HIM in
durance; and it had altogether such an effect upon him as made him
for a few minutes
stand still and breathe low. In his own room, at
his own hotel, he had dozens of well-filled envelopes superscribed
in that character; and there was actually something in the renewal
of his interrupted vision of the character
that played straight
into the so
frequent question of whether he weren't already
disinherited beyond appeal. It was such an assurance as the sharp
downstrokes of her pen hadn't yet had occasion to give him; but
they somehow at the present crisis stood for a probable
absoluteness in any decree of the writer. He looked at Sarah's name
and address, in short, as if he had been looking hard into her
mother's face, and then turned from it as if the face had declined
to relax. But since it was in a manner as if Mrs. Newsome were
thereby all the more, instead of the less, in the room, and were
conscious, sharply and sorely conscious, of himself, so he felt
both held and hushed, summoned to stay at least and take his
punishment. By staying, accordingly, he took it--creeping softly
and vaguely about and waiting for Sarah to come in. She WOULD come
in if he stayed long enough, and he had now more than ever the
sense of her success in leaving him a prey to anxiety. It wasn't to
be denied that she had had a happy instinct, from the point of view
of Woollett, in placing him thus at the mercy of her own initiative.

It was very well to try to say he didn't
care--that she might
break ground when she would, might never break it at all if she
wouldn't, and that he had no
confession whatever to wait upon her
with:
he breathed from day to day an air that damnably required
clearing, and there were moments when he quite ached to precipitate
that process. He couldn't doubt that, should she only oblige him by
surprising him just as he then was, a clarifying scene of some sort
would result from the concussion.


He
hu
mbly circulated in this spirit till he suddenly had a fresh
arrest. Both the windows of the room stood open to the balcony, but
it was only now that, in the glass of the leaf of one of them,
folded back, he
caught a reflexion quickly recognised as the colour
of a lady's dress. Somebody had been then all the while on the
balcony, and the person, whoever it might be, was so
placed between
the windows as to be
hidden from him; while on the other hand the
many sounds of the street had
covered his own entrance and
movements.
If the person were Sarah he might on the spot therefore
be served to his taste. He might lead her by a move or two up to
the remedy for his vain tension; as to which, should he get nothing
else from it, he would at least have the relief of pulling down the
roof on their heads. There was fortunately no one at hand to
observe--in respect to his valour--that even on this completed
reasoning he still hung fire.
He had been waiting for Mrs. Pocock
and the sound of the oracle; but he had to
gird himself afresh--
which he did in the embrasure of the window, neither
advancing nor
retreating--before provoking the revelation. It was apparently for
Sarah to
come more into view; he was in that case there at her
service. She did however, as meanwhile happened,
come more into
view
; only she luckily came at the last minute as a contradiction
of Sarah. The occupant of the balcony was after all quite another
person, a person
presented, on a second look, by a charming back
and a
slight shift of her position, as beautiful brilliant
unconscious Mamie
--Mamie alone at home, Mamie passing her time in
her own
innocent way, Mamie in short rather shabbily used, but
Mamie absorbed interested and interesting. With her arms on the
balustrade and her attention dropped to the street
she allowed
Strether to watch her, to consider several things, without her
turning round.

But the oddity was that when he HAD so
watched and considered he
simply stepped back into the room without following up his
advantage. He
revolved there again for several minutes, quite as
with something
new to think of and as if the bearings of the
possibility of Sarah had been
superseded. For frankly, yes, it HAD
bearings thus to find the girl in
solitary possession. There was
something in it that
touched him to a point not to have been
reckoned beforehand, something that softly but quite pressingly
spoke to him, and that spoke the more each time he paused again at
the edge of the balcony and
saw her still unaware. Her companions
were
plainly scattered; Sarah would be off somewhere with Waymarsh
and Chad off somewhere with Jim. Strether didn't at all mentally
impute to Chad that he was with his "good friend"; he gave him the
benefit of supposing him involved in appearances that, had he had
to describe them--for instance to Maria--he would have conveniently
qualified as more subtle. It came to him indeed the next thing that
there was perhaps almost an excess of refinement in having left
Mamie in such weather up there
alone; however she might in fact
have
extemporised, under the charm of the Rue de Rivoli, a little
makeshift
Paris of wonder arid fancy. Our friend in any case now
recognised--and it was as if at the recognition Mrs. Newsome's
fixed intensity had suddenly, with a deep audible gasp, grown thin
and vague
--that day after day he had been conscious in respect to
his young lady of something
odd and ambiguous, yet something into
which he could at last
read a meaning. It had been at the most,
this mystery, an
obsession--oh an obsession agreeable; and it had
just now
fallen into its place as at the touch of a spring. It had
represented the possibility between them of some communication
baffled by accident and delay--the possibility even of some
relation as yet unacknowledged.

There was always their old relation, the fruit of the Woollett
years; but that--and it was what was strangest--had nothing
whatever in common with what was now in the air. As a child, as a
"bud," and then again as a flower of expansion, Mamie had bloomed
for him,
freely, in the almost incessantly open doorways of home;
where he
remembered her as first very forward, as then very
backward--for he had carried on at one period, in Mrs. Newsome's
parlours
(oh Mrs. Newsome's phases and his own!) a course of
English Literature re-enforced by exams and teas
--and once more,
finally, as very much in advance.
But he had kept no great sense of
points of contact; it not being in the nature of things at Woollett
that the freshest of the buds should find herself in the same
basket with the most withered of the winter apples.
The child had
given sharpness, above all, to his sense of the flight of time; it
was but the day before yesterday that he had
tripped up on her
hoop, yet his experience of
remarkable women--destined, it would
seem,
remarkably to grow--felt itself ready this afternoon, quite
braced itself, to include her. She had in fine more to say to him
than he had ever
dreamed the pretty girl of the moment COULD have;
and the proof of the circumstance was that, visibly, unmistakeably,
she had been able to say it to no one else. It was something she
could mention neither to her brother, to her sister-in-law nor to
Chad; though he could just imagine that had she still been at home
she might have brought it out, as a supreme tribute to age,
authority and attitude, for Mrs. Newsome. It was moreover something
in which they all
took an interest; the strength of their interest
was in
truth just the reason of her prudence. All this then, for
five minutes, was
vivid to Strether, and it put before him that,
poor child, she had now but her prudence to amuse her. That, for a
pretty girl in Paris, struck him, with a rush, as a sorry state; so
that under the
impression he went out to her with a step as
hypocritically alert, he was well aware, as if he had just come
into
the room. She turned with a start at his voice; preoccupied
with him though she might be, she was just a scrap
disappointed.
"Oh I thought you were Mr. Bilham!"


The remark had been at first surprising and our friend's private
thought, under the influence of it, temporarily blighted; yet we
are able to add that he presently recovered his inward tone and
that many a fresh flower of fancy was to bloom in the same air.

Little Bilham--since little Bilham was, somewhat incongruously,
expected--appeared behindhand; a circumstance by which Strether was
to
profit. They came back into the room together after a little,
the couple on the balcony, and amid its
crimson-and-gold elegance,
with the others still
absent, Strether passed forty minutes that he
appraised even at the time as far, in the whole queer connexion,
from his
idlest. Yes indeed, since he had the other day so agreed
with Maria about the
inspiration of the lurid, here was something
for his problem that surely didn't make it
shrink and that was
floated in upon him as part of a sudden flood. He was doubtless not
to know till afterwards, on turning them over in thought, of how
many elements his impression was composed; but he none the less
felt, as he sat with the charming girl, the signal growth of a
confidence. For she WAS charming, when all was said--and none the
less so for the
visible habit and practice of freedom and fluency.
She was
charming, he was aware, in spite of the fact that if he
hadn't found her so he would have
found her something he should
have been in peril of
expressing as "funny." Yes, she was funny,
wonderful
Mamie, and without dreaming it; she was bland, she was
bridal--with never, that he could make out as yet, a bridegroom to
support it; she was handsome and portly and easy and chatty, soft
and sweet and almost disconcertingly reassuring. She was dressed,
if we might so far discriminate, less as a young lady than as an
old one--had an old one been supposable to Strether as so committed
to vanity; the complexities of her hair missed moreover also the
looseness of youth; and she had a mature manner of bending a
little, as to encourage and reward, while she held neatly together
in front of her a pair of strikingly polished hands: the
combination of all of which kept up about her the glamour of her
"receiving," placed her again perpetually between the windows and
within sound of the ice-cream plates, suggested the enumeration of
all the names, all the Mr. Brookses and Mr. Snookses, gregarious
specimens of a single type. she was happy to "meet."

But if all this was where she was funny, and if what was funnier
than the rest was the contrast between her beautiful benevolent
patronage--such a hint of the polysyllabic as might make her something
of a bore toward middle age--and her rather flat little voice, the voice,
naturally, unaffectedly yet, of a girl of fifteen; so Strether,
none the less, at the end of ten minutes, felt in her a quiet
dignity that pulled things bravely together.
If quiet dignity,
almost more than matronly, with voluminous, too voluminous clothes,
was the effect she
proposed to produce, that was an ideal one could
like in her when once one had got into relation.






Finally placed, in Paris, in immediate presence of the situa-
tion and of the hero of it--by whom Strether was incapable of
meaning any one but Chad--she had accomplished, and really in a
manner all unexpected to herself, a
change of base; deep still
things had come to pass within her,
and by the time she had grown
sure of them Strether had
become aware of the little drama. When
she knew where she was, in short, he had
made it out; and he made
it out at present still better; though with never a direct word
passing between them all the while on the subject of his own
predicament. There had been at first, as he
sat there with her, a
moment during which he
wondered if she meant to break ground in
respect to his prime
undertaking. That door stood so strangely ajar
that he was half-prepared to be conscious, at any juncture, of her
having, of any one's having, quite bounced in. But, friendly,
familiar, light of touch and happy of tact, she exquisitely stayed
out;
so that it was for all the world as if to show she could deal
with
him without being reduced to--well, scarcely anything.

It fully
came up for them then, by means of their talking of
everything BUT Chad, that Mamie, unlike Sarah, unlike Jim,
knew
perfectly what had
become of him. It fully came up that she had
taken to the last fraction of an inch the measure of the change in
him,
and that she wanted Strether to know what a secret she
proposed to make of it. They talked most conveniently--as if they
had had no chance yet--about Woollett; and that had virtually the
effect of their
keeping the secret more close. The hour took on for
Strether, little by little, a queer sad sweetness of quality, he
had such a revulsion in Mamie's favour and on behalf of her social
value as might have come from remorse at some early injustice. She
made him, as under the breath of some vague western whiff, homesick
and freshly restless; he could really for the time have fancied
himself stranded with her on a far shore, during an ominous calm,
in a quaint community of shipwreck. Their little interview was like
a picnic on a coral strand; they passed each other, with melancholy
smiles and looks sufficiently allusive, such cupfuls of water as
they had saved.






It was as friends of Chad's, friends special, distinguished,
desirable, enviable, that she spoke of them, and she beautifully
carried it off that much as she had heard of them--though she
didn't say how or where, which was a
touch of her own--she had
found them beyond her supposition. She
abounded in praise of
them, and after the manner of Woollett--which made the manner
of Woollett a
loveable thing again to Strether. He had never
so
felt the true inwardness of it as when his blooming companion
pronounced the elder of the ladies of the Rue de Bellechasse too
fascinating for words and declared of the younger that she was
perfectly ideal, a real little monster of charm. "Nothing," she said
of Jeanne, "ought ever to happen to her--she's so awfully right as
she is. Another touch will spoil her--so she oughtn't to BE touched."


"Ah but things, here in Paris," Strether observed, "do happen to
little girls." And then for the joke's and the occasion's sake:
"Haven't you found that yourself?"

"That things happen--? Oh I'm not a little girl. I'm a big
battered blowsy one.
I don't care," Mamie laughed, "WHAT happens."

Strether had a pause while he wondered if it mightn't happen that
he should
give her the pleasure of learning that he found her nicer
than he had really
dreamed--a pause that ended when he had said to
himself that, so far as it at all mattered for her, she had in fact
perhaps already made this out.





"And was he nice?"

Mamie bloomed and bridled with her best reception manner. "Any
man's nice when he's in love."


It made Strether laugh. "But is Monsieur de Montbron in love--
already--with YOU?"

"Oh that's not necessary--it's so much better he should be so with
HER: which, thank goodness, I lost no time in
discovering for
myself. He's
perfectly gone--and I couldn't have borne it for her
if he hadn't been. She's just too
sweet."

Strether
hesitated. "And through being in love too?"

On which with a
smile that struck him as wonderful Mamie had a
wonderful answer. "She doesn't know if she is or not."

It made him again
laugh out. "Oh but YOU do!"

She was
willing to take it that way. "Oh yes, I know everything."
And as she sat there
rubbing her polished hands and making the best
of it
--only holding her elbows perhaps a little too much out--the
momentary effect for Strether was that every one else, in all their
affair, seemed stupid.

"Know that poor little Jeanne doesn't know what's the matter with
her?"

It was as
near as they came to saying that she was probably in love
with Chad; but it was
quite near enough for what Strether wanted;
which was to be
confirmed in his certitude that, whether in love or
not, she appealed to something large and easy in the girl before
him. Mamie would be fat, too fat, at thirty; but she would always
be the person who, at the present sharp hour, had been
disinterestedly tender.





               Book 10


I


Strether occupied beside little Bilham, three evenings after his
interview with Mamie Pocock, the same
deep divan they had enjoyed
together on the first occasion of our friend's meeting Madame de
Vionnet and her daughter in the apartment of the Boulevard
Malesherbes, where his position affirmed itself again as
ministering
to an
easy exchange of impressions. The present evening had a
different stamp; if the company was much more numerous, so,
inevitably, were the ideas set in motion. It was on the other
hand, however, now strongly marked that the talkers moved,
in respect to such matters, round an inner, a protected circle.
They knew at any rate what really concerned them to-night, and
Strether had begun by keeping his companion close to it.
Only a few of Chad's guests had dined--that is fifteen or twenty,
a few compared with the large concourse offered to sight by eleven
o'clock;
but number and mass, quantity and quality, light,
fragrance, sound, the overflow of hospitality meeting the high tide
of response, had all from the first pressed upon Strether's
consciousness, and he felt himself somehow part and parcel of the
most festive scene, as the term was, in which he had ever in his
life been engaged.
He had perhaps seen, on Fourths of July and on
dear old domestic Commencements, more people assembled, but he had
never seen so many in proportion to the space, or had at all events

never known so great a promiscuity to show so markedly as picked.
Numerous as was the company, it had still been made so by
selection, and what was above all rare for Strether was that, by no
fault of his own, he was in the secret of the principle that had
worked. He hadn't enquired, he had averted his head, but Chad had
put him a pair of questions that themselves smoothed the ground.
He hadn't answered the questions, he had replied that they were
the young man's own affair; and he had then seen perfectly that the
latter's direction was already settled.

Chad had applied for counsel only by way of intimating that he knew
what to do; and he had clearly never known it better than in now
presenting to his sister the whole circle of his society. This was
all in the sense and the spirit of the note
struck by him on that
lady's arrival; he had taken at the station itself a line that led
him without a
break, and that enabled him to lead the Pococks--
though dazed a little, no doubt, breathless, no doubt, and
bewildered--to the uttermost end of the passage accepted by them
perforce as pleasant. He had made it for them violently pleasant
and mercilessly full;
the upshot of which was, to Strether's
vision, that they had come all the way without discovering it to be
really no passage at all. It was
a brave blind alley, where to
pass was impossible and where, unless they stuck fast, they would
have--which was always
awkward--publicly to back out. They were
touching bottom assuredly tonight;
the whole scene represented the
terminus of the
cul-de-sac.
So could things go when there was a
hand to
keep them consistent--a hand that pulled the wire with a
skill at which the elder man more and more
marvelled. The elder
man felt responsible, but he also felt successful, since what had
taken place was simply the issue of his own contention, six weeks
before, that they properly should wait to see what their friends
would have really to say. He had determined Chad to wait, he had
determined him to see; he was therefore not to quarrel with the
time given up to the business. As much as ever, accordingly, now
that a fortnight had elapsed, the situation created for Sarah, and
against which she had
raised no protest, was that of her having
accommodated herself to her adventure as to a pleasure-party
surrendered perhaps even somewhat in excess to bustle and to
"pace.
" If her brother had been at any point the least bit open to
criticism it might have been on the ground of his spicing the
draught too highly and pouring the cup too full.
Frankly treating
the whole occasion of the presence of his relatives as an
opportunity for
amusement, he left it, no doubt, but scant margin
as an opportunity for anything else
. He suggested, invented,
abounded--yet all the while with the loosest easiest rein.

Strether, during his own weeks, had gained a sense of knowing
Paris; but he saw it
afresh, and with fresh emotion, in the form of
the knowledge
offered to his colleague.

A thousand unuttered thoughts hummed for him in the air of these
observations;
not the least frequent of which was that Sarah might
well of a truth not quite know whither she was
drifting. She was
in no position not to appear to
expect that Chad should treat her
handsomely; yet she struck our friend as privately stiffening a
little each time she missed the chance of marking the great
nuance.
The great nuance was in brief that of course her brother must treat
her
handsomely--she should like to see him not; but that treating
her
handsomely, none the less, wasn't all in all--treating her
handsomely buttered no parsnips; and that in fine there were
moments when
she felt the fixed eyes of their admirable absent
mother fairly screw into the flat of her back
. Strether, watching,
after his habit, and
overscoring with thought, positively had
moments of his own in which he
found himself sorry for her--
occasions on which she
affected him as a person seated in a runaway
vehicle and
turning over the question of a possible jump. WOULD
she jump, could she, would THAT be a safe place--this question, at
such instants, sat for him in her lapse into pallor, her tight
lips, her conscious eyes
. It came back to the main point at issue:
would she be, after all, to
be squared? He believed on the whole
she would
jump; yet his alternations on this subject were the more
especial stuff of his suspense. One thing remained well before
him--a
conviction that was in fact to gain sharpness from the
impressions of this evening:
that if she SHOULD gather in her
skirts, close her eyes and quit the carriage while in motion, he
would promptly enough become aware. She would alight from her
headlong course more or less directly upon him; it would be
appointed to him, unquestionably, to receive her entire weight.

Signs and portents of the experience thus in reserve for him had as
it happened,
multiplied even through the dazzle of Chad's party.
It was partly under the
nervous consciousness of such a prospect
that, leaving almost every one in the two other rooms, leaving
those of the guests already known to him as well as
a mass of
brilliant strangers of both sexes and of several varieties of
speech
, he had desired five quiet minutes with little Bilham, whom
he always found
soothing and even a little inspiring, and to whom
he had actually moreover something
distinct and important to say.

He had felt of old--for it already seemed long ago--rather
humiliated at discovering he could learn in talk with a personage
so much his
junior the lesson of a certain moral ease; but he had
now got used to that--whether or no the mixture of the fact with
other
humiliations had made it indistinct, whether or no directly
from little Bilham's example, the example of his
being contentedly
just the obscure and acute little Bilham he was.
It worked so for
him, Strether seemed to see; and our friend had at private hours a
wan smile over the fact that he himself, after so many more years,
was still in search of something that would work. However, as we
have said, it worked just now for them equally to have found a
corner a little apart. What particularly kept it apart was the
circumstance that the music in the salon was
admirable, with two or
three such singers as it was a privilege to hear in private
. Their
presence gave a
distinction to Chad's entertainment, and the
interest of calculating their effect on Sarah was actually so sharp
as to be almost painful. Unmistakeably, in her single person, the
motive of the composition and dressed in a splendour of crimson
which affected Strether as the sound of a fall through a skylight,
she would now be in the forefront of the listening circle and
committed by it up to her eyes.
Those eyes during the wonderful
dinner itself he hadn't once met; having
confessedly--perhaps a
little
pusillanimously--arranged with Chad that he should be on the
same side of the table. But there was no use in having arrived now
with little Bilham at an
unprecedented point of intimacy unless he
could
pitch everything into the pot.





Strether wondered. "She wants him to move the whole thing over?"

"The
whole thing--with an important exception. Everything he has
'picked up'--and the way he knows how. She sees no difficulty in
that. She'd
run the show herself, and she'll make the handsome
concession
that Woollett would be on the whole in some ways the
better for it.
Not that it wouldn't be also in some ways the
better for Woollett. The people there are just as good."

"Just as good as you and these others? Ah that may be. But such
an occasion as this, whether or no," Strether said, "isn't the
people. It's what has made the people possible."

"Well then," his friend replied, "there you are; I give you my
impression for what it's worth. Mrs. Pocock has SEEN, and that's
to-night how she sits there. If you were to have a
glimpse of her
face you'd understand me.
She has made up her mind--to the sound
of expensive music."


Strether took it freely in. "Ah then I shall have news of her."

"I don't want to
frighten you, but I think that likely. However,"
little Bilham continued, "if I'm of the least use to you to
hold on
by--!"

"You're not of the least!"--and Strether laid an
appreciative hand
on him to say it. "No one's of the least." With which, to
mark how
gaily he could take it, he patted his companion's knee. "I must
meet my fate alone, and I SHALL--oh you'll see! And yet," he
pursued the next moment, "you CAN help me too. You once said to
me"--he followed this further--"that you held Chad should marry.
I didn't see then so well as I know now that you meant he should
marry Miss Pocock. Do you still consider that he should? Because
if you do"--he kept it up--"I want you immediately to change your
mind. You can help me that way."

"Help you by thinking he should NOT marry?"

"Not marry at all events Mamie."

"And who then?"

"Ah," Strether returned, "that I'm not obliged to say. But Madame
de Vionnet--I suggest--when he can.'

"Oh!" said little Bilham with some sharpness.

-------------------------------------------------------------

Little Bilham laughed out. "Why it was only the other night, in
this very place, that you were
proposing to me a different union
altogether."

''Mademoiselle de Vionnet?" Well, Strether
easily confessed it.
"That, I admit, was a
vain image. THIS is practical politics.
I want to do something good for both of you--I wish you each so well;
and you can see in a moment the trouble it will save me to
polish
you off
by the same stroke. She likes you, you know. You console
her. And she's
splendid."

Little Bilham
stared as a delicate appetite stares at an overheaped
plate.
"What do I console her for?"

It just made his friend
impatient. "Oh come, you know!"

"And what proves for you that she likes me?"

"Why the fact that I found her three days ago stopping at home
alone all the
golden afternoon on the mere chance that you'd come
to her, and
hanging over her balcony on that of seeing your cab
drive up. I don't know what you want more."

Little Bilham after a moment found it. "Only just to know what
proves to you that I like HER."

"Oh if what I've just mentioned isn't enough to make you do it,
you're a
stony-hearted little fiend. Besides"--Strether encouraged
his fancy's flight--"you showed your inclination in the way you
kept her waiting, kept her on purpose to see if she cared enough
for you."

His companion paid his ingenuity the deference of a pause. "I didn't
keep her waiting. I came at the hour. I wouldn't have kept her
waiting for the world," the young man honourably declared.

"Better still--then there you are!" And Strether, charmed, held
him the
faster. "Even if you didn't do her justice, moreover," he
continued, "I should
insist on your immediately coming round to it.
I want awfully to have worked it. I want"--and our friend spoke
now with a
yearning that was really earnest--"at least to have done
THAT."

"To have married me off--without a penny?"

"Well, I shan't live long; and I give you my word, now and here,
that I'll leave you every penny of my own. I haven't many,
unfortunately, but you shall have them all. And Miss Pocock, I
think, has a few. I want," Strether went on, "to have been at
least to that extent
constructive even expiatory. I've been
sacrificing so to strange gods that I feel I want to put on record,
somehow, my fidelity--fundamentally unchanged after all--to our
own. I feel as if my hands were embrued with the blood of
monstrous alien altars--of another faith altogether.
There it is--
it's done." And then he further explained. "It took hold of me
because the idea of getting her quite out of the way for Chad
helps to clear my ground."

The young man, at this, bounced about, and it brought them face to
face in
admitted amusement. "You want me to marry as a convenience
to Chad?"

"No," Strether debated--"HE doesn't care whether you marry or not.
It's as a convenience simply to my own plan FOR him."


"'Simply'!"--and little Bilham's concurrence was in itself a lively
comment.
"Thank you. But I thought," he continued, "you had
exactly NO plan 'for' him."

"Well then call it my plan for myself--which may be well, as you
say, to have none. His situation, don't you see? is reduced now to
the
bare facts one has to recognise. Mamie doesn't want him, and
he doesn't want Mamie: so much as that these days have made
clear.
It's a thread we can wind up and tuck in."

But little Bilham still questioned. "YOU can--since you seem so
much to want to. But why should I?"

Poor Strether thought it over, but was
obliged of course to admit
that his
demonstration did superficially fail. "Seriously, there
is no reason. It's my affair--I must do it alone
. I've only my
fantastic need of making my dose stiff
."

Little Bilham wondered. "What do you call your dose?"

"Why what I have to
swallow. I want my conditions unmitigated."

He had spoken in the tone of talk for talk's sake, and yet with an
obscure truth lurking in the loose folds
; a circumstance presently
not without its effect on his young friend. Little Bilham's eyes
rested on him a moment with some intensity; then suddenly, as if
everything had cleared up, he gave a
happy laugh. It seemed to say
that if
pretending, or even trying, or still even hoping, to be
able to care for Mamie would be of use, he was all there for the
job. "I'll do anything in the world for you!"

"Well," Strether
smiled, "anything in the world is all I want. I
don't know anything that
pleased me in her more," he went on, "than
the way that, on my finding her up there all alone, coming on her
unawares and feeling greatly for her being so out of it, she
knocked down my tall house of cards with her instant and cheerful
allusion to the next young man. It was somehow so the note I
needed--her staying at home to receive him."

"It was Chad of course," said little Bilham, "who asked the next
young man--I like your name for me!--to call."

"So I supposed--all of which, thank God, is in our innocent and
natural manners. But do you know," Strether asked, "if Chad
knows--?" And then as this interlocutor seemed at a loss:
"Why where she has come out."

Little Bilham, at this,
met his face with a conscious look--it was
as if, more than anything yet,
the allusion had penetrated. "Do
you know yourself?"


Strether lightly shook his head. "There I stop. Oh, odd as it may
appear to you, there ARE things I don't know. I only got the sense
from her of something very
sharp, and yet very deep down, that she
was keeping all to herself.
That is I had begun with the belief
that she HAD kept it to herself; but face to face with her there
I soon made out that there was a person with whom she would have
shared it. I had thought she possibly might with ME--but I saw
then that I was only half in her confidence. When, turning to me
to
greet me--for she was on the balcony and I had come in without
her knowing it--she showed me she had been
expecting YOU and was
proportionately disappointed, I got hold of the tail of my
conviction
. Half an hour later I was in possession of all the rest
of it. You know what has happened." He looked at his young friend
hard--then he felt sure. "For all you say, you're up to your eyes.
So there you are."


-------------------------------------------------------------

"It's just her pride that has made her. Chad," little Bilham
loyally went on, "has really been as kind to her as possible.
It's
awkward for a man when a girl's in love with him."

"Ah but she isn't--now."

Little Bilham sat staring before him; then
he sprang up as if his
friend's penetration, recurrent and insistent, made him really
after all too nervous
. "No--she isn't now. It isn't in the
least," he went on, "Chad's fault. He's really all right. I mean
he would have been willing. But she
came over with ideas. Those
she had got at home. They had been her motive and
support in
joining her brother and his wife. She was to
SAVE our friend."

"Ah like me, poor thing?" Strether also got to his feet.

"Exactly--she had a bad moment. It was very soon distinct to her,
to
pull her up, to let her down, that, alas, he was, he IS, saved.
There's nothing left for her to do."


"Not even to love him?"

"She would have loved him better as she originally believed him."

Strether wondered "Of course one asks one's self what notion a
little girl forms, where a young man's in question, of such a
history and such a state."

"Well, this little girl saw them, no doubt, as obscure, but she saw
them practically as wrong. The wrong for her WAS the obscure.
Chad
turns out at any rate right and good and disconcerting, while
what she was all prepared for,
primed and girded and wound up for,
was to deal with him as the general opposite."

"Yet wasn't her whole point"--Strether
weighed it--"that he was to
be, that he COULD be,
made better, redeemed?"

Little Bilham fixed it all a moment, and then
with a small
headshake that diffused a tenderness: "She's too late. Too late
for the miracle.
"

"Yes"--his companion saw enough. "Still, if the worst fault of his
condition is that it may be all there for her to
profit by--?"

"Oh she doesn't want to 'profit,' in that flat way. She doesn't
want to profit by another woman's work--she wants the miracle to
have been her own miracle
. THAT'S what she's too late for."

Strether quite felt how it all
fitted, yet there seemed one loose
piece. "I'm
bound to say, you know, that she strikes one, on these
lines, as fastidious--what you call here difficile."

Little Bilham
tossed up his chin. "Of course she's difficile--on
any lines! What else in the world ARE our Mamies--the real, the
right ones?"

"I see, I see," our friend repeated,
charmed by the responsive
wisdom he had ended by so richly extracting
. "Mamie is one of the
real and the right."

"The very thing itself."

"And what it comes to then," Strether went on, "is that poor awful
Chad is simply too good for her."

"Ah too good was what he was after all to be; but it was she
herself, and she herself only, who was to have made him so."

It
hung beautifully together, but with still a loose end. "Wouldn't
he do for her even if he should after all break--"

"With his actual
influence?" Oh little Bilham had for this
enquiry the sharpest of all his controls
. "How can he 'do'--on any
terms whatever--when he's flagrantly spoiled?"

Strether could only meet the question with his passive, his
receptive pleasure. "Well, thank goodness, YOU'RE not! You
remain for her to save, and I come back, on so beautiful and full a
demonstration, to my contention of just now--that of your showing
distinct signs of her having already begun."

The most he could further say to himself--as his young friend turned
away--was that the charge encountered for the moment no
renewed
denial
. Little Bilham, taking his course back to the music, only
shook his good-natured ears an instant, in the manner of a terrier
who has got wet;
while Strether relapsed into the sense--which had
for him in these days most of comfort--that he was free to
believe
in anything that from hour to hour kept him going.
He had
positively motions and flutters of this conscious hour-to-hour
kind, temporary surrenders to irony, to fancy, frequent instinctive
snatches at the growing rose of observation, constantly stronger
for him, as he felt, in scent and colour, and in which he could
bury his nose even to wantonness.
This last resource was offered
him, for that matter, in the very form of his next clear
perception--the vision of a prompt meeting, in the doorway of the
room, between little Bilham and brilliant Miss Barrace, who was
entering as Bilham
withdrew. She had apparently put him a
question, to which he had replied by turning to indicate his late
interlocutor; toward whom, after an
interrogation further aided by
a resort to that optical machinery which seemed, like her other
ornaments, curious and archaic
, the genial lady, suggesting more
than ever for her fellow guest the old French print, the historic
portrait, directed herself with an intention that Strether
instantly
met. He knew in advance the first note she would sound,
and took in as she approached all her need of sounding it. Nothing
yet had been so "wonderful" between them as the present occasion;
and it was her special sense of this quality in occasions that she
was there, as she was in most places, to feed. That sense had
already been so well fed by the situation about them that she had
quitted the other room, forsaken the music, dropped out of the
play, abandoned, in a word, the stage itself, that she might stand
a minute behind the scenes with Strether and so perhaps figure as
one of the famous augurs replying, behind the oracle, to the wink
of the other.
Seated near him presently where little Bilham had
sat, she replied in truth to many things; beginning as soon as he
had said to her--what he hoped he said without fatuity--"All you
ladies are extraordinarily kind to me."

She played her long handle, which shifted her observation; she saw
in an instant all the absences that left them free. "How can we be
anything else? But isn't that exactly your plight? 'We ladies'--
oh we're nice, and you must be having enough of us! As one of us,
you know, I don't pretend I'm crazy about us. But Miss Gostrey at
least to-night has left you alone, hasn't she?" With which she
again looked about as if Maria might still lurk.




-------------------------------------------------------------

"But she dreads responsibility."

"And isn't that a new thing for her?"

"To dread it? No doubt--no doubt. But her nerve has given way."

Miss Barrace looked at him a moment. "She has too much at stake."
Then less gravely: "Mine, luckily for me, holds out."

"Luckily for me too"--Strether came back to that. "My own isn't
so firm, MY appetite for responsibility isn't so sharp, as that I
haven't felt the very principle of this occasion to be 'the more
the merrier.' If we ARE so merry it's because Chad has understood
so well."

"He has understood amazingly," said Miss Barrace.

"It's wonderful--Strether anticipated for her.

"It's wonderful!" she, to meet it, intensified; so that,
face to
face over it, they largely and recklessly laughed.
But she
presently added: "Oh I see the principle. If one didn't one
would be lost. But when once one has got hold of it--"

"It's as simple as twice two! From the moment he had to do
something--"

"A crowd"--she took him straight up--"was the only thing? Rather,
rather: a rumpus of sound,"
she laughed, "or nothing. Mrs.
Pocock's built in, or built out--whichever you call it; she's
packed so tight she can't move. She's in splendid isolation"--
Miss Barrace embroidered the theme.

Strether followed, but
scrupulous of justice. "Yet with every one
in the place successively introduced to her."

"Wonderfully--but just so that it does build her out. She's
bricked up, she's buried alive!"

Strether seemed for a moment to look at it; but it brought him to
a sigh. "Oh but she's not dead! It will take more than this to
kill her."

His companion had a pause that might have been for pity. "No, I
can't pretend I think she's finished--or that it's for more than
to-night." She remained pensive as if with the same compunction.

"It's only up to her chin." Then again for the fun of it: "She
can breathe."

"She can breathe!"--he echoed it in the same spirit. "And do you
know," he went on, "what's really all this time happening to me?--
through the beauty of music, the gaiety of voices, the uproar in
short of our revel and the felicity of your wit? The sound of
Mrs. Pocock's respiration drowns for me, I assure you, every other.
It's literally all I hear."

She focussed him with her clink of chains.
"Well--!" she breathed
ever so kindly.


"Well, what?"

"She IS free from her chin up," she mused; "and that WILL be enough
for her."

-------------------------------------------------------------

"Don't I compromise HIM as well? I do compromise him as well,"
Miss Barrace smiled. "I compromise him as hard as I can. But for
Mr. Waymarsh it isn't fatal. It's--so far as his wonderful
relation with Mrs. Pocock is concerned--favourable." And then, as
he still seemed slightly at sea: "The man who had succeeded with
ME, don't you see? For her to get him from me was such an added
incentive."

Strether saw, but as if his path was still strewn with surprises.
"It's 'from' you then that she has got him?"


She was amused at his momentary muddle. "You can fancy my fight!
She believes in her triumph. I think it has been part of her joy.


"Oh her joy!" Strether sceptically murmured.

"Well, she thinks she has had her own way. And what's to-night for
her but a kind of apotheosis? Her frock's really good."

"Good enough to go to heaven in? For after a real apotheosis,"
Strether went on, "there's nothing BUT heaven. For Sarah there's
only to-morrow."


"And you mean that she won't find to-morrow heavenly?"

"Well, I mean that I somehow feel to-night--on her behalf--too good
to be true.
She has had her cake; that is she's in the act now of
having it, of swallowing the largest and sweetest piece.
There
won't be another left for her. Certainly I haven't one. It can
only, at the best, be Chad." He continued to make it out as for
their common entertainment. "He may have one, as it were. up his
sleeve; yet it's borne in upon me that if he had--"


"He wouldn't"--she quite understood--"have taken all THIS trouble?
I dare say not, and, if I may be quite free and dreadful, I very
much hope he won't take any more. Of course I won't pretend now,"
she added, "not to know what it's a question of."

"Oh every one must know now," poor Strether thoughtfully admitted;
"and it's strange enough and funny enough that one should feel
everybody here at this very moment to be knowing and watching and
waiting."

"Yes--isn't it indeed funny?" Miss Barrace quite rose to it.
"That's the way we ARE in Paris.
" She was always pleased with a new
contribution to that queerness.
"It's wonderful! But, you know,"
she declared, "it all depends on you.
I don't want to turn the
knife in your vitals
, but that's naturally what you just now meant
by our all being on top of you. We know you as the hero of the
drama, and we're gathered to see what you'll do."

Strether looked at her a moment with a light perhaps slightly
obscured. "I think that must be why the hero has taken refuge in
this corner. He's scared at his heroism--he shrinks from his
part."

"Ah but we nevertheless believe he'll play it. That's why,"
Miss Barrace kindly went on, "we take such an interest in you.
We feel you'll come up to the scratch." And then as he seemed
perhaps not quite to take fire: "Don't let him do it."

"Don't let Chad go?"


"Yes, keep hold of him. With all this"--and she indicated the
general tribute--"he has done enough. We love him here--
he's charming."

"It's beautiful," said Strether, "the way you all can simplify
when you will."

But she gave it to him back.
"It's nothing to the way you will
when you must."

He winced at it as at the very voice of prophecy, and it kept him
a moment quiet. He detained her, however, on her appearing about
to leave him alone in the rather cold clearance their talk had
made.
"There positively isn't a sign of a hero to-night; the
hero's dodging and shirking, the hero's ashamed. Therefore, you
know, I think, what you must all REALLY be occupied with is the
heroine."


Miss Barrace took a minute. "The heroine?"

"The heroine. I've treated her," said Strether, "not a bit like a
hero. Oh," he sighed, "I don't do it well!"

She eased him off. "You do it as you can." And then after another
hesitation: "I think she's satisfied."

But he remained compunctious. "I haven't been near her. I haven't
looked at her."

"Ah then you've lost a good deal!"

He showed he knew it. "She's more wonderful than ever?"


"Than ever. With Mr. Pocock."

Strether wondered. "Madame de Vionnet--with Jim?"

"Madame de Vionnet--with 'Jim.' " Miss Barrace was historic.

"And what's she doing with him?"

"Ah you must ask HIM!"

Strether's face lighted again at the prospect. "It WILL be amusing
to do so." Yet he continued to wonder. "But she must have some
idea."

"Of course she has--she has twenty ideas. She has in the first
place," said Miss Barrace, swinging a little her tortoise-shell,
"that of doing her part. Her part is to help YOU."

It came out as nothing had come yet; links were missing and
connexions unnamed, but it was suddenly as if they were at the
heart of their subject. "Yes; how much more she does it," Strether
gravely reflected, "than I help HER!" It all came over him as with
the near presence of the beauty, the grace, the intense,
dissimulated spirit with which he had, as he said, been putting off
contact. "SHE has courage."

"Ah she has courage!" Miss Barrace quite agreed; and it was as if
for a moment they saw the quantity in each other's face.

But indeed the whole thing was present. "How much she must care!"

"Ah there it is. She does care. But it isn't, is it," Miss
Barrace considerately added, "as if you had ever had any doubt of
that?"

Strether seemed suddenly to like to feel that he really never had.
"Why of course it's the whole point."

"Voila!" Miss Barrace smiled.

"It's why one came out," Strether went on. "And it's why one has
stayed so long. And it's also"--he abounded--"why one's going
home. It's why, it's why--"

"It's why everything!" she concurred. "It's why she might be
to-night--for all she looks and shows, and for all your friend 'Jim'
does--about twenty years old. That's another of her ideas; to be
for him, and to be quite easily and charmingly, as young as a
little girl."


Strether assisted at his distance. "'For him'? For Chad--?"

"For Chad, in a manner, naturally, always. But in particular
to-night for Mr. Pocock." And then as her friend still stared:
"Yes, it IS of a bravery But that's what she has: her high sense
of duty." It was more than sufficiently before them. "When Mr.
Newsome has his hands so embarrassed with his sister--"

"It's quite the least"--Strether filled it out--"that she should
take his sister's husband? Certainly--quite the least. So she has
taken him."

"She has taken him." It was all Miss Barrace had meant.

Still it remained enough. "It must be funny."

"Oh it IS funny." That of course essentially went with it.

But it brought them back. "How indeed then she must cared In
answer to which
Strether's entertainer dropped a comprehensive
"Ah!" expressive perhaps of some impatience for the time he took to
get used to it
. She herself had got used to it long before.



II



When one morning within the week he perceived the whole thing to be
really at last upon him Strether's immediate feeling was all
relief. He had known this morning that something was about to
happen--known it, in a moment, by Waymarsh's manner when Waymarsh
appeared before him during his brief consumption of coffee and a
roll in the small slippery salle-a-manger so associated with rich
rumination. Strether had taken there of late various lonely and
absent-minded meals
; he communed there, even at the end of June,
with a suspected chill, the air of old shivers mixed with old
savours, the air in which so many of his impressions had perversely
matured;
the place meanwhile renewing its message to him by the
very circumstance of his single state. He now sat there, for the
most part, to sigh softly, while he vaguely tilted his carafe, over
the vision of how much better Waymarsh was occupied. That was
really his success by the common measure--to have led this
companion so on and on. He remembered how at first there had been
scarce a squatting-place he could beguile him into passing;
the actual outcome of which at last was that there was scarce one
that could arrest him in his rush.
His rush--as Strether vividly and
amusedly figured it--continued to be all with Sarah, and contained
perhaps moreover the word of the whole enigma, whipping up in its
fine full-flavoured froth the very principle, for good or for ill,
of his own, of Strether's destiny.
It might after all, to the end,
only be that they had united to save him, and indeed, so far as
Waymarsh was concerned, that HAD to be the spring of action.
Strether was glad at all events, in connexion with the case,
that
the saving he required was not more scant; so constituted a luxury
was it in certain lights just to lurk there out of the full glare.

He had moments of quite seriously wondering whether Waymarsh wouldn't
in fact, thanks to old friendship and a conceivable indulgence,
make about as good terms for him as he might make for himself.

They wouldn't be the same terms of course; but they might have the
advantage that he himself probably should be able to make none at
all.

He was never in the morning very late, but Waymarsh had already
been out, and, after a peep into the dim refectory, he presented
himself with much less than usual of
his large looseness. He had
made sure, through the expanse of glass exposed to the court, that
they would be alone; and there was now in fact that about him that
pretty well took up the room. He was dressed in the garments of
summer; and save that his white waistcoat was
redundant and bulging
these things favoured, they determined, his expression. He wore a
straw hat such as his friend hadn't yet seen in Paris, and he
showed a buttonhole freshly adorned with a magnificent rose.
Strether read on the instant his story--how
, astir for the previous
hour, the sprinkled newness of the day, so pleasant at that season
in Paris, he was fairly panting with the pulse of adventure
and had
been with Mrs. Pocock, unmistakeably, to the Marche aux Fleurs.
Strether really knew in this vision of him a joy that was akin to
envy; so reversed as he stood there did their old positions seem;
so comparatively doleful now showed, by the sharp turn of the
wheel, the posture of the pilgrim from Woollett. He wondered, this
pilgrim, if he had originally looked to Waymarsh so brave and well,
so remarkably launched, as it was at present the latter's privilege
to appear. He recalled that his friend had remarked to him even at
Chester that his aspect belied his plea of prostration; but there
certainly couldn't have been, for an issue,
an aspect less
concerned than Waymarsh's with the menace of decay. Strether had
at any rate never resembled a Southern planter of the great days--
which was the image picturesquely suggested by the happy relation
between the fuliginous face and the wide panama of his visitor.
This type, it further amused him to guess, had been, on