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Chapter 3

Book Third


I


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

Waymarsh looked gravely ardent, over the finished soup, at this
array of scruples; Strether hadn't yet got quite used to being so
unprepared for the consequences of the impression he produced. It
was comparatively easy to explain, however, that he hadn't felt
sure his guest would please. The person was a young man whose
acquaintance he had made but that afternoon in the course of rather
a hindered enquiry for another person--an enquiry his new friend
had just prevented in fact from being vain. "Oh," said Strether,
"I've all sorts of things to tell you!"--and he put it in a way
that was a virtual hint to Waymarsh to help him to enjoy the
telling. He waited for his fish, he drank of his wine, he wiped his
long moustache, he leaned back in his chair, he took in the two
English ladies who had just creaked past them and whom he would
even have articulately greeted if they hadn't rather chilled the
impulse; so that all he could do was--by way of doing something--to
say "Merci, Francois!" out quite loud when his fish was brought.
Everything was there that he wanted, everything that could make the
moment an occasion, that would do beautifully--everything but what
Waymarsh might give. The little waxed salle-a-manger was sallow and
sociable; Francois, dancing over it, all smiles, was a man and a
brother; the high-shouldered patronne, with her high-held,
much-rubbed hands, seemed always assenting exuberantly to something
unsaid; the Paris evening in short was, for Strether, in the very
taste of the soup, in the goodness, as he was innocently pleased to
think it, of the wine, in the pleasant coarse texture of the napkin
and the crunch of the thick-crusted bread. These all were things
congruous with his confession, and his confession was that he HAD--
it would come out properly just there if Waymarsh would only take
it properly--agreed to breakfast out, at twelve literally, the next
day. He didn't quite know where; the delicacy of the case came
straight up in the remembrance of his new friend's "We'll see; I'll
take you somewhere!"--for it had required little more than that,
after all, to let him right in. He was affected after a minute,
face to face with his actual comrade, by the impulse to overcolour.
There had already been things in respect to which he knew himself
tempted by this perversity. If Waymarsh thought them bad he should
at least have his reason for his discomfort; so Strether showed
them as worse. Still, he was now, in his way, sincerely perplexed.

Chad had been absent from the Boulevard Malesherbes--was absent
from Paris altogether; he had learned that from the concierge, but
had nevertheless gone up, and gone up--there were no two ways about
it--from an uncontrollable, a really, if one would, depraved
curiosity. The concierge had mentioned to him that a friend of the
tenant of the troisieme was for the time in possession; and this
had been Strether's pretext for a further enquiry, an experiment
carried on, under Chad's roof, without his knowledge. "I found his
friend in fact there keeping the place warm, as he called it, for
him; Chad himself being, as appears, in the south. He went a month
ago to Cannes and though his return begins to be looked for it
can't be for some days. I might, you see, perfectly have waited a
week; might have beaten a retreat as soon as I got this essential
knowledge. But I beat no retreat; I did the opposite; I stayed, I
dawdled, I trifled; above all I looked round. I saw, in fine; and--
I don't know what to call it--I sniffed. It's a detail, but it's as
if there were something--something very good--TO sniff."

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

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

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

"I don't know."

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

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

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

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

"But I thought you said you found out nothing."

"Nothing but that--that I don't know anything."

"And what good does that do you?"

"It's just," said Strether, "what I've come to you to help me to
discover. I mean anything about anything over here. I FELT that, up
there. It regularly rose before me in its might. The young man
moreover--Chad's friend--as good as told me so."

"As good as told you you know nothing about anything?" Waymarsh
appeared to look at some one who might have as good as told HIM.
"How old is he?"

"Well, I guess not thirty."

"Yet you had to take that from him?"

"Oh I took a good deal more--since, as I tell you, I took an
invitation to dejeuner."

"And are you GOING to that unholy meal?"

"If you'll come with me. He wants you too, you know. I told him
about you. He gave me his card," Strether pursued, "and his name's
rather funny. It's John Little Bilham, and he says his two surnames
are, on account of his being small, inevitably used together."

"Well," Waymarsh asked with due detachment from these details,
"what's he doing up there?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

Strether hesitated. "Well, because he likes it over here."

This appeared in particular more than Waymarsh could bear. "He
ought then to be ashamed of himself, and, as you admit that you
think so too, why drag him in?"

Strether's reply again took time. "Perhaps I do think so myself--
though I don't quite yet admit it. I'm not a bit sure--it's again
one of the things I want to find out. I liked him, and CAN you like
people--? But no matter." He pulled himself up. "There's no doubt I
want you to come down on me and squash me."

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

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

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

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

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

"I don't know. I didn't ask him. I couldn't. It was impossible. You
wouldn't either. Besides I didn't want to. No more would you."
Strether in short explained it at a stroke. "You can't make out
over here what people do know."

"Then what did you come over for?"

"Well, I suppose exactly to see for myself--without their aid."

"Then what do you want mine for?"

"Oh," Strether laughed, "you're not one of THEM! I do know what you
know."

As, however, this last assertion caused Waymarsh again to look at
him hard--such being the latter's doubt of its implications--he
felt his justification lame. Which was still more the case when
Waymarsh presently said: "Look here, Strether. Quit this."

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yet Strether still lingered with his hands in his pockets. "It's
really quite as indispensable as I say that Chad should be got
back."

"Indispensable to whom? To you?"

"Yes," Strether presently said.

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

Strether faced it. "Yes."

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

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

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

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

"If you have your own man in it, in other words," Waymarsh said,
"you'll marry--you personally--more money. She's already rich, as I
understand you, but she'll be richer still if the business can be
made to boom on certain lines that you've laid down."

"I haven't laid them down," Strether promptly returned. "Mr. Newsome
--who knew extraordinarily well what he was about--laid them down
ten years ago."

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

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

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

"Oh!" Strether quickly protested.

"Yes, you ask me for protection--which makes you very interesting;
and then you won't take it. You say you want to be squashed--"

"Ah but not so easily! Don't you see," Strether demanded "where my
interest, as already shown you, lies? It lies in my not being
squared. If I'm squared where's my marriage? If I miss my errand I
miss that; and if I miss that I miss everything--I'm nowhere."

Waymarsh--but all relentlessly--took this in. "What do I care where
you are if you're spoiled?"

Their eyes met on it an instant. "Thank you awfully," Strether at
last said. "But don't you think HER judgement of that--?"

"Ought to content me? No."

It kept them again face to face, and the end of this was that
Strether again laughed. "You do her injustice. You really MUST know
her. Good-night."

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

"What's he up to, what's he up to?"--something like that was at
the back of his head all the while in respect to little Bilham;
but meanwhile, till he should make out, every one and every thing
were as good as represented for him by the combination of his
host and the lady on his left. The lady on his left, the lady
thus promptly and ingeniously invited to "meet" Mr. Strether and
Mr. Waymarsh--it was the way she herself expressed her case--was
a very marked person, a person who had much to do with our
friend's asking himself if the occasion weren't in its essence
the most baited, the most gilded of traps. Baited it could
properly be called when the repast was of so wise a savour, and
gilded surrounding objects seemed inevitably to need to be when
Miss Barrace--which was the lady's name--looked at them with
convex Parisian eyes and through a glass with a remarkably long
tortoise-shell handle. Why Miss Barrace, mature meagre erect and
eminently gay, highly adorned, perfectly familiar, freely
contradictions and reminding him of some last-century portrait of
a clever head without powder--why Miss Barrace should have been
in particular the note of a "trap" Strether couldn't on the spot
have explained; he blinked in the light of a conviction that he
should know later on, and know well--as it came over him, for
that matter, with force, that he should need to. He wondered what
he was to think exactly of either of his new friends; since the
young man, Chad's intimate and deputy, had, in thus constituting
the scene, practised so much more subtly than he had been
prepared for, and since in especial Miss Barrace, surrounded
clearly by every consideration, hadn't scrupled to figure as a
familiar object. It was interesting to him to feel that he was in
the presence of new measures, other standards, a different scale
of relations, and that evidently here were a happy pair who
didn't think of things at all as he and Waymarsh thought. Nothing
was less to have been calculated in the business than that it
should now be for him as if he and Waymarsh were comparatively
quite at one.

The latter was magnificent--this at least was an assurance
privately given him by Miss Barrace. "Oh your friend's a type,
the grand old American--what shall one call it? The Hebrew
prophet, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, who used when I was a little girl in
the Rue Montaigne to come to see my father and who was usually
the American Minister to the Tuileries or some other court. I
haven't seen one these ever so many years; the sight of it warms
my poor old chilled heart; this specimen is wonderful; in the
right quarter, you know, he'll have a succes fou." Strether
hadn't failed to ask what the right quarter might be, much as he
required his presence of mind to meet such a change in their
scheme. "Oh the artist-quarter and that kind of thing; HERE
already, for instance, as you see." He had been on the point of
echoing "'Here'?--is THIS the artist-quarter?" but she had
already disposed of the question with a wave of all her tortoise-shell
and an easy "Bring him to ME!" He knew on the spot how little he
should be able to bring him, for the very air was by this time,
to his sense, thick and hot with poor Waymarsh's judgement of it.
He was in the trap still more than his companion and, unlike
his companion, not making the best of it; which was precisely what
doubtless gave him his admirable sombre glow. Little did Miss Barrace
know that what was behind it was his grave estimate of her own laxity.
The general assumption with which our two friends had arrived had been
that of finding Mr. Bilham ready to conduct them to one or other of
those resorts of the earnest, the aesthetic fraternity which were shown
among the sights of Paris. In this character it would have justified
them in a proper insistence on discharging their score. Waymarsh's
only proviso at the last had been that nobody should pay for him;
but he found himself, as the occasion developed, paid for on a
scale as to which Strether privately made out that he already
nursed retribution. Strether was conscious across the table of
what worked in him, conscious when they passed back to the small
salon to which, the previous evening, he himself had made so rich
a reference; conscious most of all as they stepped out to the
balcony in which one would have had to be an ogre not to
recognise the perfect place for easy aftertastes. These things
were enhanced for Miss Barrace by a succession of excellent
cigarettes--acknowledged, acclaimed, as a part of the wonderful
supply left behind him by Chad--in an almost equal absorption of
which Strether found himself blindly, almost wildly pushing
forward. He might perish by the sword as well as by famine, and
he knew that his having abetted the lady by an excess that was
rare with him would count for little in the sum--as Waymarsh
might so easily add it up--of her licence. Waymarsh had smoked of
old, smoked hugely; but Waymarsh did nothing now, and that gave
him his advantage over people who took things up lightly just
when others had laid them heavily down. Strether had never
smoked, and he felt as if he flaunted at his friend that this had
been only because of a reason. The reason, it now began to appear
even to himself, was that he had never had a lady to smoke with.

It was this lady's being there at all, however, that was the
strange free thing; perhaps, since she WAS there, her smoking was
the least of her freedoms. If Strether had been sure at each
juncture of what--with Bilham in especial--she talked about, he
might have traced others and winced at them and felt Waymarsh
wince; but he was in fact so often at sea that his sense of the
range of reference was merely general and that he on several
different occasions guessed and interpreted only to doubt. He
wondered what they meant, but there were things he scarce thought
they could be supposed to mean, and "Oh no--not THAT!" was at the
end of most of his ventures. This was the very beginning with him
of a condition as to which, later on, it will be seen, he found
cause to pull himself up; and he was to remember the moment duly
as the first step in a process. The central fact of the place was
neither more nor less, when analysed--and a pressure superficial
sufficed--than the fundamental impropriety of Chad's situation,
round about which they thus seemed cynically clustered.
Accordingly, since they took it for granted, they took for
granted all that was in connexion with it taken for granted at
Woollett--matters as to which, verily, he had been reduced with
Mrs. Newsome to the last intensity of silence. That was the
consequence of their being too bad to be talked about, and was
the accompaniment, by the same token, of a deep conception of
their badness. It befell therefore that when poor Strether put it
to himself that their badness was ultimately, or perhaps even
insolently, what such a scene as the one before him was, so to
speak, built upon, he could scarce shirk the dilemma of reading a
roundabout echo of them into almost anything that came up. This,
he was well aware, was a dreadful necessity; but such was the
stern logic, he could only gather, of a relation to the irregular
life.

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

II


When Miss Gostrey arrived, at the end of a week, she made him a
sign; he went immediately to see her, and it wasn't till then
that he could again close his grasp on the idea of a corrective.
This idea however was luckily all before him again from the
moment he crossed the threshold of the little entresol of the
Quartier Marboeuf into which she had gathered, as she said,
picking them up in a thousand flights and funny little passionate
pounces, the makings of a final nest. He recognised in an instant
that there really, there only, he should find the boon with the
vision of which he had first mounted Chad's stairs. He might have
been a little scared at the picture of how much more, in this
place, he should know himself "in" hadn't his friend been on the
spot to measure the amount to his appetite. Her compact and
crowded little chambers, almost dusky, as they at first struck
him, with accumulations, represented a supreme general adjustment
to opportunities and conditions. Wherever he looked he saw an old
ivory or an old brocade, and he scarce knew where to sit for fear
of a misappliance. The life of the occupant struck him of a
sudden as more charged with possession even than Chad's or than
Miss Barrace's; wide as his glimpse had lately become of the
empire of "things," what was before him still enlarged it; the
lust of the eyes and the pride of life had indeed thus their
temple. It was the innermost nook of the shrine--as brown as a
pirate's cave. In the brownness were glints of gold; patches of
purple were in the gloom; objects all that caught, through the
muslin, with their high rarity, the light of the low windows.
Nothing was clear about them but that they were precious, and
they brushed his ignorance with their contempt as a flower, in a
liberty taken with him, might have been whisked under his nose.
But after a full look at his hostess he knew none the less what
most concerned him. The circle in which they stood together was
warm with life, and every question between them would live there
as nowhere else. A question came up as soon as they had spoken,
for his answer, with a laugh, was quickly: "Well, they've got
hold of me!" Much of their talk on this first occasion was his
development of that truth. He was extraordinarily glad to see
her, expressing to her frankly what she most showed him, that one
might live for years without a blessing unsuspected, but that to
know it at last for no more than three days was to need it or
miss it for ever. She was the blessing that had now become his
need, and what could prove it better than that without her he had
lost himself?

"What do you mean?" she asked with an absence of alarm that,
correcting him as if he had mistaken the "period" of one of her
pieces, gave him afresh a sense of her easy movement through the
maze he had but begun to tread. "What in the name of all the
Pococks have you managed to do?"

"Why exactly the wrong thing. I've made a frantic friend of
little Bilham."

"Ah that sort of thing was of the essence of your case and to
have been allowed for from the first." And it was only after this
that, quite as a minor matter, she asked who in the world little
Bilham might be. When she learned that he was a friend of Chad's
and living for the time in Chad's rooms in Chad's absence, quite
as if acting in Chad's spirit and serving Chad's cause, she
showed, however, more interest. "Should you mind my seeing him?
Only once, you know," she added.

"Oh the oftener the better: he's amusing--he's original."

"He doesn't shock you?" Miss Gostrey threw out.

"Never in the world! We escape that with a perfection--! I feel
it to be largely, no doubt, because I don't half-understand him;
but our modus vivendi isn't spoiled even by that. You must dine
with me to meet him," Strether went on. "Then you'll see.'

"Are you giving dinners?"

"Yes--there I am. That's what I mean."

All her kindness wondered. "That you're spending too much money?"

"Dear no--they seem to cost so little. But that I do it to THEM.
I ought to hold off."

She thought again--she laughed. "The money you must be spending
to think it cheap! But I must be out of it--to the naked eye."

He looked for a moment as if she were really failing him. "Then
you won't meet them?" It was almost as if she had developed an
unexpected personal prudence.

She hesitated. "Who are they--first?"

"Why little Bilham to begin with." He kept back for the moment
Miss Barrace. "And Chad--when he comes--you must absolutely see."

"When then does he come?"

"When Bilham has had time to write him, and hear from him about
me. Bilham, however," he pursued, "will report favourably--
favourably for Chad. That will make him not afraid to come. I
want you the more therefore, you see, for my bluff."

"Oh you'll do yourself for your bluff." She was perfectly easy.
"At the rate you've gone I'm quiet."

"Ah but I haven't," said Strether, "made one protest."

She turned it over. "Haven't you been seeing what there's to
protest about?"

He let her, with this, however ruefully, have the whole truth. "I
haven't yet found a single thing."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To have got at something comparatively definite appeared at last a
little to help--a wave by which moreover, the next moment,
recollection was washed. "My young man does admit furthermore that
they're our friend's great interest."

"Is that the expression he uses?"

Strether more exactly recalled. "No--not quite."

"Something more vivid? Less?"

He had bent, with neared glasses, over a group of articles on a
small stand; and at this he came up. "It was a mere allusion, but,
on the lookout as I was, it struck me. 'Awful, you know, as Chad
is'--those were Bilham's words."

"'Awful, you know'--? Oh!"--and Miss Gostrey turned them over. She
seemed, however, satisfied. "Well, what more do you want?"

He glanced once more at a bibelot or two, and everything sent him
back. "But it is all the same as if they wished to let me have it
between the eyes."

She wondered. "Quoi donc?"

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

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

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

"No, elsewhere, but not to Cannes. Cannes is different. Cannes is
better. Cannes is best. I mean it's all people you know--when you
do know them. And if HE does, why that's different too. He must
have gone alone. She can't be with him."

"I haven't," Strether confessed in his weakness, "the least
idea." There seemed much in what she said, but he was able after a
little to help her to a nearer impression. The meeting with little
Bilham took place, by easy arrangement, in the great gallery of
the Louvre; and when, standing with his fellow visitor before one
of the splendid Titians--the overwhelming portrait of the young
man with the strangely-shaped glove and the blue-grey eyes--he
turned to see the third member of their party advance from the end
of the waxed and gilded vista, he had a sense of having at last
taken hold. He had agreed with Miss Gostrey--it dated even from
Chester--for a morning at the Louvre, and he had embraced
independently the same idea as thrown out by little Bilham, whom
he had already accompanied to the museum of the Luxembourg. The
fusion of these schemes presented no difficulty, and it was to
strike him again that in little Bilham's company contrarieties in
general dropped.

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

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

He liked the ingenuous compatriots--for two or three others soon
gathered; he liked the delicate daubs and the free
discriminations--involving references indeed, involving
enthusiasms and execrations that made him, as they said, sit up;
he liked above all the legend of good-humoured poverty, of mutual
accommodation fairly raised to the romantic, that he soon read
into the scene. The ingenuous compatriots showed a candour, he
thought, surpassing even the candour of Woollett; they were
red-haired and long-legged, they were quaint and queer and dear
and droll; they made the place resound with the vernacular, which
he had never known so marked as when figuring for the chosen
language, he must suppose, of contemporary art. They twanged with
a vengeance the aesthetic lyre--they drew from it wonderful airs.
This aspect of their life had an admirable innocence; and he
looked on occasion at Maria Gostrey to see to what extent that
element reached her. She gave him however for the hour, as she had
given him the previous day, no further sign than to show how she
dealt with boys; meeting them with the air of old Parisian
practice that she had for every one, for everything, in turn.
Wonderful about the delicate daubs, masterful about the way to
make tea, trustful about the legs of chairs and familiarly
reminiscent of those, in the other time, the named, the numbered
or the caricatured, who had flourished or failed, disappeared or
arrived, she had accepted with the best grace her second course of
little Bilham, and had said to Strether, the previous afternoon on
his leaving them, that, since her impression was to be renewed,
she would reserve judgement till after the new evidence.

The new evidence was to come, as it proved, in a day or two. He
soon had from Maria a message to the effect that an excellent box at
the Francais had been lent her for the following night; it seeming
on such occasions not the least of her merits that she was subject
to such approaches. The sense of how she was always paying for
something in advance was equalled on Strether's part only by the
sense of how she was always being paid; all of which made for his
consciousness, in the larger air, of a lively bustling traffic,
the exchange of such values as were not for him to handle. She
hated, he knew, at the French play, anything but a box--just as
she hated at the English anything but a stall; and a box was what
he was already in this phase girding himself to press upon her.
But she had for that matter her community with little Bilham: she
too always, on the great issues, showed as having known in time.
It made her constantly beforehand with him and gave him mainly the
chance to ask himself how on the day of their settlement their
account would stand. He endeavoured even now to keep it a little
straight by arranging that if he accepted her invitation she
should dine with him first; but the upshot of this scruple was
that at eight o'clock on the morrow he awaited her with Waymarsh
under the pillared portico. She hadn't dined with him, and it was
characteristic of their relation that she had made him embrace her
refusal without in the least understanding it. She ever caused her
rearrangements to affect him as her tenderest touches. It was on
that principle for instance that, giving him the opportunity to be
amiable again to little Bilham, she had suggested his offering the
young man a seat in their box. Strether had dispatched for this
purpose a small blue missive to the Boulevard Malesherbes, but up
to the moment of their passing into the theatre he had received no
response to his message. He held, however, even after they had
been for some time conveniently seated, that their friend, who
knew his way about, would come in at his own right moment. His
temporary absence moreover seemed, as never yet, to make the right
moment for Miss Gostrey. Strether had been waiting till tonight to
get back from her in some mirrored form her impressions and
conclusions. She had elected, as they said, to see little Bilham
once; but now she had seen him twice and had nevertheless not said
more than a word.

Waymarsh meanwhile sat opposite him with their hostess between;
and Miss Gostrey spoke of herself as an instructor of youth
introducing her little charges to a work that was one of the
glories of literature. The glory was happily unobjectionable, and
the little charges were candid; for herself she had travelled that
road and she merely waited on their innocence. But she referred in
due time to their absent friend, whom it was clear they should
have to give up. "He either won't have got your note," she said,
"or you won't have got his: he has had some kind of hindrance,
and, of course, for that matter, you know, a man never writes
about coming to a box." She spoke as if, with her look, it might
have been Waymarsh who had written to the youth, and the latter's
face showed a mixture of austerity and anguish. She went on
however as if to meet this. "He's far and away, you know, the best
of them."

"The best of whom, ma'am?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Do you mean he IS--?"

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

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

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

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

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

"So that Chad has done the whole thing?"

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

"Europe--yes," Strether mused.

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

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

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

"And where the devil IS he?"

She passed it on with a laugh. "Where the devil, Strether, are
you?"

He spoke as if he had just been thinking it out. "Well, quite
already in Chad's hands, it would seem." And he had had with this
another thought. "Will that be--just all through Bilham--the way
he's going to work it? It would be, for him, you know, an idea.
And Chad with an idea--!"

"Well?" she asked while the image held him.

"Well, is Chad--what shall I say?--monstrous?"

"Oh as much as you like! But the idea you speak of," she said,
"won't have been his best. He'll have a better. It won't be all
through little Bilham that he'll work it."

This already sounded almost like a hope destroyed. "Through whom
else then?"

"That's what we shall see!" But quite as she spoke she turned, and
Strether turned; for the door of the box had opened, with the
click of the ouvreuse, from the lobby, and a gentleman, a stranger
to them, had come in with a quick step. The door closed behind
him, and, though their faces showed him his mistake, his air,
which was striking, was all good confidence. The curtain had just
again arisen, and, in the hush of the general attention,
Strether's challenge was tacit, as was also the greeting, with a
quickly deprecating hand and smile, of the unannounced visitor. He
discreetly signed that he would wait, would stand, and these
things and his face, one look from which she had caught, had
suddenly worked for Miss Gostrey. She fitted to them all an answer
for Strether's last question. The solid stranger was simply the
answer--as she now, turning to her friend, indicated. She brought
it straight out for him--it presented the intruder. "Why, through
this gentleman!" The gentleman indeed, at the same time, though
sounding for Strether a very short name, did practically as much
to explain. Strether gasped the name back--then only had he seen
Miss Gostrey had said more than she knew. They were in presence of
Chad himself.

Our friend was to go over it afterwards again and again--he was
going over it much of the time that they were together, and they
were together constantly for three or four days: the note had been
so strongly struck during that first half-hour that everything
happening since was comparatively a minor development. The fact
was that his perception of the young man's identity--so absolutely
checked for a minute--had been quite one of the sensations that
count in life; he certainly had never known one that had acted, as
he might have said, with more of a crowded rush. And the rush
though both vague and multitudinous, had lasted a long time,
protected, as it were, yet at the same time aggravated, by the
circumstance of its coinciding with a stretch of decorous silence.
They couldn't talk without disturbing the spectators in the part
of the balcony just below them; and it, for that matter, came to
Strether--being a thing of the sort that did come to him--that
these were the accidents of a high civilisation; the imposed
tribute to propriety, the frequent exposure to conditions, usually
brilliant, in which relief has to await its time. Relief was never
quite near at hand for kings, queens, comedians and other such
people, and though you might be yourself not exactly one of those,
you could yet, in leading the life of high pressure, guess a
little how they sometimes felt. It was truly the life of high
pressure that Strether had seemed to feel himself lead while he
sat there, close to Chad, during the long tension of the act. He
was in presence of a fact that occupied his whole mind, that
occupied for the half-hour his senses themselves all together; but
he couldn't without inconvenience show anything--which moreover
might count really as luck. What he might have shown, had he shown
at all, was exactly the kind of emotion--the emotion of
bewilderment--that he had proposed to himself from the first,
whatever should occur, to show least. The phenomenon that had
suddenly sat down there with him was a phenomenon of change so
complete that his imagination, which had worked so beforehand,
felt itself, in the connexion, without margin or allowance. It had
faced every contingency but that Chad should not BE Chad, and this
was what it now had to face with a mere strained smile and an
uncomfortable flush.

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

He had introduced Chad, in the first minutes, under his breath,
and there was never the primness in her of the person
unacquainted; but she had none the less betrayed at first no
vision but of the stage, where she occasionally found a pretext
for an appreciative moment that she invited Waymarsh to share. The
latter's faculty of participation had never had, all round, such
an assault to meet; the pressure on him being the sharper for this
chosen attitude in her, as Strether judged it, of isolating, for
their natural intercourse, Chad and himself. This intercourse was
meanwhile restricted to a frank friendly look from the young man,
something markedly like a smile, but falling far short of a grin,
and to the vivacity of Strether's private speculation as to
whether HE carried himself like a fool. He didn't quite see how
he could so feel as one without somehow showing as one. The worst
of that question moreover was that he knew it as a symptom the
sense of which annoyed him. "If I'm going to be odiously conscious
of how I may strike the fellow," he reflected, "it was so little
what I came out for that I may as well stop before I begin." This
sage consideration too, distinctly, seemed to leave untouched the
fact that he WAS going to be conscious. He was conscious of
everything but of what would have served him.

He was to know afterwards, in the watches of the night, that
nothing would have been more open to him than after a minute or
two to propose to Chad to seek with him the refuge of the lobby.
He hadn't only not proposed it, but had lacked even the presence
of mind to see it as possible. He had stuck there like a schoolboy
wishing not to miss a minute of the show; though for that portion
of the show then presented he hadn't had an instant's real
attention. He couldn't when the curtain fell have given the
slightest account of what had happened. He had therefore, further,
not at that moment acknowledged the amenity added by this
acceptance of his awkwardness to Chad's general patience. Hadn't
he none the less known at the very time--known it stupidly and
without reaction--that the boy was accepting something? He was
modestly benevolent, the boy--that was at least what he had been
capable of the superiority of making out his chance to be; and one
had one's self literally not had the gumption to get in ahead of
him. If we should go into all that occupied our friend in the
watches of the night we should have to mend our pen; but an
instance or two may mark for us the vividness with which he could
remember. He remembered the two absurdities that, if his presence
of mind HAD failed, were the things that had had most to do with
it. He had never in his life seen a young man come into a box at
ten o'clock at night, and would, if challenged on the question in
advance, have scarce been ready to pronounce as to different ways
of doing so. But it was in spite of this definite to him that Chad
had had a way that was wonderful: a fact carrying with it an
implication that, as one might imagine it, he knew, he had
learned, how.

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

Again and again as the days passed he had had a sense of the
pertinence of communicating quickly with Woollett--communicating
with a quickness with which telegraphy alone would rhyme; the
fruit really of a fine fancy in him for keeping things straight,
for the happy forestalment of error. No one could explain better
when needful, nor put more conscience into an account or a report;
which burden of conscience is perhaps exactly the reason why his
heart always sank when the clouds of explanation gathered. His
highest ingenuity was in keeping the sky of life clear of them.
Whether or no he had a grand idea of the lucid, he held that nothing
ever was in fact--for any one else--explained. One went through
the vain motions, but it was mostly a waste of life. A personal
relation was a relation only so long as people either perfectly
understood or, better still, didn't care if they didn't. From
the moment they cared if they didn't it was living by the sweat
of one's brow; and the sweat of one's brow was just what one
might buy one's self off from by keeping the ground free of the
wild weed of delusion. It easily grew too fast, and the Atlantic
cable now alone could race with it. That agency would each day
have testified for him to something that was not what Woollett had
argued. He was not at this moment absolutely sure that the effect
of the morrow's--or rather of the night's--appreciation of the
crisis wouldn't be to determine some brief missive. "Have at last
seen him, but oh dear!"--some temporary relief of that sort seemed
to hover before him. It hovered somehow as preparing them all--yet
preparing them for what? If he might do so more luminously and
cheaply he would tick out in four words: "Awfully old--grey hair."
To this particular item in Chad's appearance he constantly, during
their mute half-hour, reverted; as if so very much more than he
could have said had been involved in it. The most he could have
said would have been: "If he's going to make me feel young--!"
which indeed, however, carried with it quite enough. If Strether
was to feel young, that is, it would be because Chad was to feel
old; and an aged and hoary sinner had been no part of the scheme.

The question of Chadwick's true time of life was, doubtless, what
came up quickest after the adjournment of the two, when the play
was over, to a cafe in the Avenue de l'Opera. Miss Gostrey had in
due course been perfect for such a step; she had known exactly
what they wanted--to go straight somewhere and talk; and Strether
had even felt she had known what he wished to say and that he was
arranging immediately to begin. She hadn't pretended this, as she
HAD pretended on the other hand, to have divined Waymarsh's wish
to extend to her an independent protection homeward; but Strether
nevertheless found how, after he had Chad opposite to him at a
small table in the brilliant halls that his companion straightway
selected, sharply and easily discriminated from others, it was
quite, to his mind, as if she heard him speak; as if, sitting up,
a mile away, in the little apartment he knew, she would listen
hard enough to catch. He found too that he liked that idea, and he
wished that, by the same token, Mrs. Newsome might have caught as
well. For what had above all been determined in him as a necessity
of the first order was not to lose another hour, nor a fraction of
one; was to advance, to overwhelm, with a rush. This was how he
would anticipate--by a night-attack, as might be--any forced
maturity that a crammed consciousness of Paris was likely to take
upon itself to assert on behalf of the boy. He knew to the full,
on what he had just extracted from Miss Gostrey, Chad's marks of
alertness; but they were a reason the more for not dawdling. If he
was himself moreover to be treated as young he wouldn't at all
events be so treated before he should have struck out at least
once. His arms might be pinioned afterwards, but it would have
been left on record that he was fifty. The importance of this he
had indeed begun to feel before they left the theatre; it had
become a wild unrest, urging him to seize his chance. He could
scarcely wait for it as they went; he was on the verge of the
indecency of bringing up the question in the street; he fairly
caught himself going on--so he afterwards invidiously named it--as
if there would be for him no second chance should the present be
lost. Not till, on the purple divan before the perfunctory bock,
he had brought out the words themselves, was he sure, for that
matter, that the present would be saved.


Henry James

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