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The Ambassadors by Henry James

Part 7 out of 9

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"Oh he has got--or it's as IF he had--the whole place."

"But for Mr. Waymarsh"--she recalled--"isn't Miss Barrace before
any one else?"

He shook his head. "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.

But Strether could reassure her. "Don't fear. As soon as he has
done with Jim, Jim will fall to me. And then you'll see."

It was as if in a moment she saw already; yet she still waited.
Then "Is she really quite charming?" she asked.

He had got up with his last words and gathered in his hat and gloves.
"I don't know; I'm watching. I'm studying the case, as it were--
and I dare say I shall be able to tell you."

She wondered. "Is it a case?"

"Yes--I think so. At any rate I shall see.'

"But haven't you known her before?"

"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."

She looked at him hard, and then as if it were what she must always
come back to: "It's you I trust. But I was sincere," she said, "at
the hotel. I did, I do, want my child--"

"Well?"--Strether waited with deference while she appeared to hesitate
as to how to put it.

"Well, to do what she can for me."

Strether for a little met her eyes on it; after which something
that might have been unexpected to her came from him. "Poor little

Not more expected for himself indeed might well have been her echo
of it. "Poor little duck! But she immensely wants herself," she
said, "to see our friend's cousin."

"Is that what she thinks her?"

"It's what we call the young lady."

He thought again; then with a laugh: "Well, your daughter will
help you."

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

"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

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

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
lips. "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.


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

She wondered. "And what do they do after? They can't come straight

"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

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

"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."

"Then if you knew why didn't you tell me as soon as you came in?"

"Because I had it from her as a thing not yet to be spoken of."

Miss Gostrey wondered. "From Madame de Vionnet herself?"

"As a probability--not quite a certainty: a good cause in which
Chad has been working. So I've waited."

"You need wait no longer," she returned. "It reached me yesterday--
roundabout and accidental, but by a person who had had it from one
of the young man's own people--as a thing quite settled. I was only
keeping it for you."

"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

"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

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

"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."

Strether, in consequence, had to take it from her, but he fell back
on something else. "I'll tell you who does really know."

"Mr. Waymarsh? Never!"

"Never indeed. I'm not ALWAYS thinking of Mr. Waymarsh; in fact I
find now I never am." Then he mentioned the person as if there were
a good deal in it. "Mamie."

"His own sister?" Oddly enough it but let her down. "What good will
that do?"

"None perhaps. But there--as usual--we are!"


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 humbly 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. The great thing
now for her visitor was that this was exactly what he had done; it
made so extraordinary a mixture of the brief and crowded hour. It
was the mark of a relation that he had begun so quickly to find
himself sure she was, of all people, as might have been said, on
the side and of the party of Mrs. Newsome's original ambassador.
She was in HIS interest and not in Sarah's, and some sign of that
was precisely what he had been feeling in her, these last days, as
imminent. Finally placed, in Paris, in immediate presence of the
situation 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. Especially sharp in Strether meanwhile was the
conviction that his companion really knew, as we have hinted, where
she had come out. It was at a very particular place--only THAT she
would never tell him; it would be above all what he should have to
puzzle for himself. This was what he hoped for, because his interest
in the girl wouldn't be complete without it. No more would the
appreciation to which she was entitled--so assured was he that
the more he saw of her process the more he should see of her pride.
She saw, herself, everything; but she knew what she didn't want,
and that it was that had helped her. What didn't she want?--there
was a pleasure lost for her old friend in not yet knowing, as there
would doubtless be a thrill in getting a glimpse. Gently and
sociably she kept that dark to him, and it was as if she soothed
and beguiled him in other ways to make up for it. She came out with
her impression of Madame de Vionnet--of whom she had "heard so
much"; she came out with her impression of Jeanne, whom she had
been "dying to see": she brought it out with a blandness by which
her auditor was really stirred that she had been with Sarah early
that very afternoon, and after dreadful delays caused by all sorts
of things, mainly, eternally, by the purchase of clothes--clothes
that unfortunately wouldn't be themselves eternal--to call in the
Rue de Bellechasse.

At the sound of these names Strether almost blushed to feel that he
couldn't have sounded them first--and yet couldn't either have
justified his squeamishness. Mamie made them easy as he couldn't
have begun to do, and yet it could only have cost her more than he
should ever have had to spend. 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. He risked accordingly a different
question--though conscious, as soon as he had spoken, that he
seemed to place it in relation to her last speech. "But that
Mademoiselle de Vionnet is to be married--I suppose you've heard of
For all, he then found, he need fear! "Dear, yes; the gentleman
was there: Monsieur de Montbron, whom Madame de Vionnet
presented to us."

"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

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. "If I see a little more of her, as I hope
I shall, I think she'll like me enough--for she seemed to like me
to-day--to want me to tell her."

"And SHALL you?"

"Perfectly. I shall tell her the matter with her is that she wants
only too much to do right. To do right for her, naturally," said
Mamie, "is to please."

"Her mother, do you mean?"

"Her mother first."

Strether waited. "And then?"

"Well, 'then'--Mr. Newsome."

There was something really grand for him in the serenity of this
reference. "And last only Monsieur de Montbron?"

"Last only"--she good-humouredly kept it up.

Strether considered. "So that every one after all then will be

She had one of her few hesitations, but it was a question only of a
moment; and it was her nearest approach to being explicit with him
about what was between them. "I think I can speak for myself. I
shall be."

It said indeed so much, told such a story of her being ready to
help him, so committed to him that truth, in short, for such use as
he might make of it toward those ends of his own with which,
patiently and trustfully, she had nothing to do--it so fully
achieved all this that he appeared to himself simply to meet it in
its own spirit by the last frankness of admiration. Admiration was
of itself almost accusatory, but nothing less would serve to show
her how nearly he understood. He put out his hand for good-bye
with a "Splendid, splendid, splendid!" And he left her, in her
splendour, still waiting for little Bilham.

Book Tenth


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 placed--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. "You who sat where you could
see her, what does she make of it all? By which I mean on what
terms does she take it?"

"Oh she takes it, I judge, as proving that the claim of his family
is more than ever justified "

"She isn't then pleased with what he has to show?"

"On the contrary; she's pleased with it as with his capacity to do
this kind of thing--more than she has been pleased with anything
for a long time. But she wants him to show it THERE. He has no
right to waste it on the likes of us."

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

"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.

"Oh precisely! But he needn't marry at all--I'm at any rate not
obliged to provide for it. Whereas in your case I rather feel that
I AM."

Little Bilham was amused. "Obliged to provide for my marrying?"

"Yes--after all I've done to you!"

The young man weighed it. "Have you done as much as that?"

"Well," said Strether, thus challenged, "of course I must remember
what you've also done to ME. We may perhaps call it square. But
all the same," he went on, "I wish awfully you'd marry Mamie Pocock

Little Bilham laughed out. "Why it was only the other night, in
this very place, that you were proposing to me a different union

''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 knows"

"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

"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."

Little Bilham after an instant pulled half round. "I assure you
she hasn't told me anything."

"Of course she hasn't. For what do you suggest that I suppose her
to take you? But you've been with her every day, you've seen her
freely, you've liked her greatly--I stick to that--and you've made
your profit of it. You know what she has been through as well as
you know that she has dined here to-night--which must have put her,
by the way, through a good deal more."

The young man faced this blast; after which he pulled round the
rest of the way. "I haven't in the least said she hasn't been
nice to me. But she's proud."

"And quite properly. But not too proud for that."

"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.

"Oh yes," said Strether; "she's only sitting up for me at home."
And then as this elicited from his companion her gay "Oh, oh, oh!"
he explained that he meant sitting up in suspense and prayer. "We
thought it on the whole better she shouldn't be present; and
either way of course it's a terrible worry for her." He abounded in
the sense of his appeal to the ladies, and they might take their
choice of his doing so from humility or from pride. "Yet she
inclines to believe I shall come out."

"Oh I incline to believe too you'll come out!"--Miss Barrace, with
her laugh, was not to be behind. "Only the question's about WHERE,
isn't it? However," she happily continued, "if it's anywhere at
all it must be very far on, mustn't it? To do us justice, I
think, you know," she laughed, "we do, among us all, want you
rather far on. Yes, yes," she repeated in her quick droll way;
"we want you very, VERY far on!" After which she wished to know
why he had thought it better Maria shouldn't be present.

"Oh," he replied, "it was really her own idea. I should have
wished it. 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

"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."

"It will be enough for me!" Strether ruefully laughed. "Waymarsh
has really," he then asked, "brought her to see you?"

"Yes--but that's the worst of it. I could do you no good. And yet
I tried hard."

Strether wondered. "And how did you try?"

"Why I didn't speak of you."

"I see. That was better."

"Then what would have been worse? For speaking or silent," she
lightly wailed, "I somehow 'compromise.' And it has never been any
one but you."

"That shows"--he was magnanimous--"that it's something not in you,
but in one's self. It's MY fault."

She was silent a little. "No, it's Mr. Waymarsh's. It's the fault
of his having brought her."

"Ah then," said Strether good-naturedly, "why DID he bring her?"

"He couldn't afford not to."

"Oh you were a trophy--one of the spoils of conquest? But why in
that case, since you do 'compromise'--"

"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

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

"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

"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

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

"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

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.


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

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 Waymarsh's
part, the object of Sarah's care; he was convinced that her taste
had not been a stranger to the conception and purchase of the hat,
any more than her fine fingers had been guiltless of the bestowal
of the rose. It came to him in the current of thought, as things
so oddly did come, that HE had never risen with the lark to attend
a brilliant woman to the Marche aux Fleurs; this could be fastened
on him in connexion neither with Miss Gostrey nor with Madame de
Vionnet; the practice of getting up early for adventures could
indeed in no manner be fastened on him. It came to him in fact
that just here was his usual case: he was for ever missing things
through his general genius for missing them, while others were for
ever picking them up through a contrary bent. And it was others
who looked abstemious and he who looked greedy; it was he somehow
who finally paid, and it was others who mainly partook. Yes, he
should go to the scaffold yet for he wouldn't know quite whom. He
almost, for that matter, felt on the scaffold now and really quite
enjoying it. It worked out as BECAUSE he was anxious there--it
worked out as for this reason that Waymarsh was so blooming. It
was HIS trip for health, for a change, that proved the success--
which was just what Strether, planning and exerting himself, had
desired it should be. That truth already sat full-blown on his
companion's lips; benevolence breathed from them as with the warmth
of active exercise, and also a little as with the bustle of haste.

"Mrs. Pocock, whom I left a quarter of an hour ago at her hotel,
has asked me to mention to you that she would like to find you at
home here in about another hour. She wants to see you; she has
something to say--or considers, I believe, that you may have: so
that I asked her myself why she shouldn't come right round. She
hasn't BEEN round yet--to see our place; and I took upon myself to
say that I was sure you'd be glad to have her. The thing's
therefore, you see, to keep right here till she comes."

The announcement was sociably, even though, after Waymarsh's wont,
somewhat solemnly made; but Strether quickly felt other things in
it than these light features. It was the first approach, from that
quarter, to admitted consciousness; it quickened his pulse; it
simply meant at last that he should have but himself to thank if he
didn't know where he was. He had finished his breakfast; he
pushed it away and was on his feet. There were plenty of elements
of surprise, but only one of doubt. "The thing's for YOU to keep
here too?" Waymarsh had been slightly ambiguous.

He wasn't ambiguous, however, after this enquiry; and Strether's
understanding had probably never before opened so wide and
effective a mouth as it was to open during the next five minutes.
It was no part of his friend's wish, as appeared, to help to
receive Mrs. Pocock; he quite understood the spirit in which she
was to present herself, but his connexion with her visit was
limited to his having--well, as he might say--perhaps a little
promoted it. He had thought, and had let her know it, that
Strether possibly would think she might have been round before. At
any rate, as turned out, she had been wanting herself, quite a
while, to come. "I told her," said Waymarsh, "that it would have
been a bright idea if she had only carried it out before."

Strether pronounced it so bright as to be almost dazzling. "But
why HASn't she carried it out before? She has seen me every day--
she had only to name her hour. I've been waiting and waiting."

"Well, I told her you had. And she has been waiting too." It was,
in the oddest way in the world, on the showing of this tone, a
genial new pressing coaxing Waymarsh; a Waymarsh conscious with a

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