The American, by Henry James

Chapter 12

Three days after his introduction to the family of Madame de Cintre, Newman, coming in toward evening, found upon his table the card of the Marquis de Bellegarde. On the following day he received a note informing him that the Marquise de Bellegarde would be grateful for the honor of his company at dinner.

He went, of course, though he had to break another engagement to do it. He was ushered into the room in which Madame de Bellegarde had received him before, and here he found his venerable hostess, surrounded by her entire family. The room was lighted only by the crackling fire, which illuminated the very small pink slippers of a lady who, seated in a low chair, was stretching out her toes before it. This lady was the younger Madame de Bellegarde. Madame de Cintre was seated at the other end of the room, holding a little girl against her knee, the child of her brother Urbain, to whom she was apparently relating a wonderful story. Valentin was sitting on a puff, close to his sister-in-law, into whose ear he was certainly distilling the finest nonsense. The marquis was stationed before the fire, with his head erect and his hands behind him, in an attitude of formal expectancy.

Old Madame de Bellegarde stood up to give Newman her greeting, and there was that in the way she did so which seemed to measure narrowly the extent of her condescension. “We are all alone, you see, we have asked no one else,” she said, austerely.

“I am very glad you didn’t; this is much more sociable,” said Newman. “Good evening, sir,” and he offered his hand to the marquis.

M. de Bellegarde was affable, but in spite of his dignity he was restless. He began to pace up and down the room, he looked out of the long windows, he took up books and laid them down again. Young Madame de Bellegarde gave Newman her hand without moving and without looking at him.

“You may think that is coldness,” exclaimed Valentin; “but it is not, it is warmth. It shows she is treating you as an intimate. Now she detests me, and yet she is always looking at me.”

“No wonder I detest you if I am always looking at you!” cried the lady. “If Mr. Newman does not like my way of shaking hands, I will do it again.”

But this charming privilege was lost upon our hero, who was already making his way across the room to Madame de Cintre. She looked at him as she shook hands, but she went on with the story she was telling her little niece. She had only two or three phrases to add, but they were apparently of great moment. She deepened her voice, smiling as she did so, and the little girl gazed at her with round eyes.

“But in the end the young prince married the beautiful Florabella,” said Madame de Cintre, “and carried her off to live with him in the Land of the Pink Sky. There she was so happy that she forgot all her troubles, and went out to drive every day of her life in an ivory coach drawn by five hundred white mice. Poor Florabella,” she exclaimed to Newman, “had suffered terribly.”

“She had had nothing to eat for six months,” said little Blanche.

“Yes, but when the six months were over, she had a plum-cake as big as that ottoman,” said Madame de Cintre. “That quite set her up again.”

“What a checkered career!” said Newman. “Are you very fond of children?” He was certain that she was, but he wished to make her say it.

“I like to talk with them,” she answered; “we can talk with them so much more seriously than with grown persons. That is great nonsense that I have been telling Blanche, but it is a great deal more serious than most of what we say in society.”

“I wish you would talk to me, then, as if I were Blanche’s age,” said Newman, laughing. “Were you happy at your ball, the other night?”

“Ecstatically!”

“Now you are talking the nonsense that we talk in society,” said Newman. “I don’t believe that.”

“It was my own fault if I was not happy. The ball was very pretty, and every one very amiable.”

“It was on your conscience,” said Newman, “that you had annoyed your mother and your brother.”

Madame de Cintre looked at him a moment without answering. “That is true,” she replied at last. “I had undertaken more than I could carry out. I have very little courage; I am not a heroine.” She said this with a certain soft emphasis; but then, changing her tone, “I could never have gone through the sufferings of the beautiful Florabella,” she added, not even for her prospective rewards.

Dinner was announced, and Newman betook himself to the side of the old Madame de Bellegarde. The dining-room, at the end of a cold corridor, was vast and sombre; the dinner was simple and delicately excellent. Newman wondered whether Madame de Cintre had had something to do with ordering the repast and greatly hoped she had. Once seated at table, with the various members of the ancient house of Bellegarde around him, he asked himself the meaning of his position. Was the old lady responding to his advances? Did the fact that he was a solitary guest augment his credit or diminish it? Were they ashamed to show him to other people, or did they wish to give him a sign of sudden adoption into their last reserve of favor? Newman was on his guard; he was watchful and conjectural; and yet at the same time he was vaguely indifferent. Whether they gave him a long rope or a short one he was there now, and Madame de Cintre was opposite to him. She had a tall candlestick on each side of her; she would sit there for the next hour, and that was enough. The dinner was extremely solemn and measured; he wondered whether this was always the state of things in “old families.” Madame de Bellegarde held her head very high, and fixed her eyes, which looked peculiarly sharp in her little, finely-wrinkled white face, very intently upon the table-service. The marquis appeared to have decided that the fine arts offered a safe subject of conversation, as not leading to startling personal revelations. Every now and then, having learned from Newman that he had been through the museums of Europe, he uttered some polished aphorism upon the flesh-tints of Rubens and the good taste of Sansovino. His manners seemed to indicate a fine, nervous dread that something disagreeable might happen if the atmosphere were not purified by allusions of a thoroughly superior cast. “What under the sun is the man afraid of?” Newman asked himself. “Does he think I am going to offer to swap jack-knives with him?” It was useless to shut his eyes to the fact that the marquis was profoundly disagreeable to him. He had never been a man of strong personal aversions; his nerves had not been at the mercy of the mystical qualities of his neighbors. But here was a man towards whom he was irresistibly in opposition; a man of forms and phrases and postures; a man full of possible impertinences and treacheries. M. de Bellegarde made him feel as if he were standing bare-footed on a marble floor; and yet, to gain his desire, Newman felt perfectly able to stand. He wondered what Madame de Cintre thought of his being accepted, if accepted it was. There was no judging from her face, which expressed simply the desire to be gracious in a manner which should require as little explicit recognition as possible. Young Madame de Bellegarde had always the same manners; she was always preoccupied, distracted, listening to everything and hearing nothing, looking at her dress, her rings, her finger-nails, seeming rather bored, and yet puzzling you to decide what was her ideal of social diversion. Newman was enlightened on this point later. Even Valentin did not quite seem master of his wits; his vivacity was fitful and forced, yet Newman observed that in the lapses of his talk he appeared excited. His eyes had an intenser spark than usual. The effect of all this was that Newman, for the first time in his life, was not himself; that he measured his movements, and counted his words, and resolved that if the occasion demanded that he should appear to have swallowed a ramrod, he would meet the emergency.

After dinner M. de Bellegarde proposed to his guest that they should go into the smoking-room, and he led the way toward a small, somewhat musty apartment, the walls of which were ornamented with old hangings of stamped leather and trophies of rusty arms. Newman refused a cigar, but he established himself upon one of the divans, while the marquis puffed his own weed before the fire-place, and Valentin sat looking through the light fumes of a cigarette from one to the other.

“I can’t keep quiet any longer,” said Valentin, at last. “I must tell you the news and congratulate you. My brother seems unable to come to the point; he revolves around his announcement like the priest around the altar. You are accepted as a candidate for the hand of our sister.”

“Valentin, be a little proper!” murmured the marquis, with a look of the most delicate irritation contracting the bridge of his high nose.

“There has been a family council,” the young man continued; “my mother and Urbain have put their heads together, and even my testimony has not been altogether excluded. My mother and the marquis sat at a table covered with green cloth; my sister-in-law and I were on a bench against the wall. It was like a committee at the Corps Legislatif. We were called up, one after the other, to testify. We spoke of you very handsomely. Madame de Bellegarde said that if she had not been told who you were, she would have taken you for a duke — an American duke, the Duke of California. I said that I could warrant you grateful for the smallest favors — modest, humble, unassuming. I was sure that you would know your own place, always, and never give us occasion to remind you of certain differences. After all, you couldn’t help it if you were not a duke. There were none in your country; but if there had been, it was certain that, smart and active as you are, you would have got the pick of the titles. At this point I was ordered to sit down, but I think I made an impression in your favor.”

M. de Bellegarde looked at his brother with dangerous coldness, and gave a smile as thin as the edge of a knife. Then he removed a spark of cigar-ash from the sleeve of his coat; he fixed his eyes for a while on the cornice of the room, and at last he inserted one of his white hands into the breast of his waistcoat. “I must apologize to you for the deplorable levity of my brother,” he said, “and I must notify you that this is probably not the last time that his want of tact will cause you serious embarrassment.”

“No, I confess I have no tact,” said Valentin. “Is your embarrassment really painful, Newman? The marquis will put you right again; his own touch is deliciously delicate.”

“Valentin, I am sorry to say,” the marquis continued, “has never possessed the tone, the manner, that belongs to a young man in his position. It has been a great affliction to his mother, who is very fond of the old traditions. But you must remember that he speaks for no one but himself.”

“Oh, I don’t mind him, sir,” said Newman, good-humoredly. “I know what he amounts to.”

“In the good old times,” said Valentin, “marquises and counts used to have their appointed fools and jesters, to crack jokes for them. Nowadays we see a great strapping democrat keeping a count about him to play the fool. It’s a good situation, but I certainly am very degenerate.”

M. de Bellegarde fixed his eyes for some time on the floor. “My mother informed me,” he said presently, “of the announcement that you made to her the other evening.”

“That I desired to marry your sister?” said Newman.

“That you wished to arrange a marriage,” said the marquis, slowly, “with my sister, the Comtesse de Cintre. The proposal was serious, and required, on my mother’s part, a great deal of reflection. She naturally took me into her counsels, and I gave my most zealous attention to the subject. There was a great deal to be considered; more than you appear to imagine. We have viewed the question on all its faces, we have weighed one thing against another. Our conclusion has been that we favor your suit. My mother has desired me to inform you of our decision. She will have the honor of saying a few words to you on the subject, herself. Meanwhile, by us, the heads of the family, you are accepted.”

Newman got up and came nearer to the marquis. “You will do nothing to hinder me, and all you can to help me, eh?”

“I will recommend my sister to accept you.”

Newman passed his hand over his face, and pressed it for a moment upon his eyes. This promise had a great sound, and yet the pleasure he took in it was embittered by his having to stand there so and receive his passport from M. de Bellegarde. The idea of having this gentleman mixed up with his wooing and wedding was more and more disagreeable to him. But Newman had resolved to go through the mill, as he imagined it, and he would not cry out at the first turn of the wheel. He was silent a while, and then he said, with a certain dryness which Valentin told him afterwards had a very grand air, “I am much obliged to you.”

“I take note of the promise,” said Valentin, “I register the vow.”

M. de Bellegarde began to gaze at the cornice again; he apparently had something more to say. “I must do my mother the justice,” he resumed, “I must do myself the justice, to say that our decision was not easy. Such an arrangement was not what we had expected. The idea that my sister should marry a gentleman — ah — in business was something of a novelty.”

“So I told you, you know,” said Valentin raising his finger at Newman.

“The novelty has not quite worn away, I confess,” the marquis went on; “perhaps it never will, entirely. But possibly that is not altogether to be regretted,” and he gave his thin smile again. “It may be that the time has come when we should make some concession to novelty. There had been no novelties in our house for a great many years. I made the observation to my mother, and she did me the honor to admit that it was worthy of attention.”

“My dear brother,” interrupted Valentin, “is not your memory just here leading you the least bit astray? Our mother is, I may say, distinguished for her small respect of abstract reasoning. Are you very sure that she replied to your striking proposition in the gracious manner you describe? You know how terribly incisive she is sometimes. Didn’t she, rather, do you the honor to say, ‘A fiddlestick for your phrases! There are better reasons than that’?”

“Other reasons were discussed,” said the marquis, without looking at Valentin, but with an audible tremor in his voice; “some of them possibly were better. We are conservative, Mr. Newman, but we are not also bigots. We judged the matter liberally. We have no doubt that everything will be comfortable.”

Newman had stood listening to these remarks with his arms folded and his eyes fastened upon M. de Bellegarde, “Comfortable?” he said, with a sort of grim flatness of intonation. “Why shouldn’t we be comfortable? If you are not, it will be your own fault; I have everything to make ME so.”

“My brother means that with the lapse of time you may get used to the change”— and Valentin paused, to light another cigarette.

“What change?” asked Newman in the same tone.

“Urbain,” said Valentin, very gravely, “I am afraid that Mr. Newman does not quite realize the change. We ought to insist upon that.”

“My brother goes too far,” said M. de Bellegarde. “It is his fatal want of tact again. It is my mother’s wish, and mine, that no such allusions should be made. Pray never make them yourself. We prefer to assume that the person accepted as the possible husband of my sister is one of ourselves, and that he should have no explanations to make. With a little discretion on both sides, everything, I think, will be easy. That is exactly what I wished to say — that we quite understand what we have undertaken, and that you may depend upon our adhering to our resolution.”

Valentin shook his hands in the air and then buried his face in them. “I have less tact than I might have, no doubt; but oh, my brother, if you knew what you yourself were saying!” And he went off into a long laugh.

M. de Bellegarde’s face flushed a little, but he held his head higher, as if to repudiate this concession to vulgar perturbability. “I am sure you understand me,” he said to Newman.

“Oh no, I don’t understand you at all,” said Newman. “But you needn’t mind that. I don’t care. In fact, I think I had better not understand you. I might not like it. That wouldn’t suit me at all, you know. I want to marry your sister, that’s all; to do it as quickly as possible, and to find fault with nothing. I don’t care how I do it. I am not marrying you, you know, sir. I have got my leave, and that is all I want.”

“You had better receive the last word from my mother,” said the marquis.

“Very good; I will go and get it,” said Newman; and he prepared to return to the drawing-room.

M. de Bellegarde made a motion for him to pass first, and when Newman had gone out he shut himself into the room with Valentin. Newman had been a trifle bewildered by the audacious irony of the younger brother, and he had not needed its aid to point the moral of M. de Bellegarde’s transcendent patronage. He had wit enough to appreciate the force of that civility which consists in calling your attention to the impertinences it spares you. But he had felt warmly the delicate sympathy with himself that underlay Valentin’s fraternal irreverence, and he was most unwilling that his friend should pay a tax upon it. He paused a moment in the corridor, after he had gone a few steps, expecting to hear the resonance of M. de Bellegarde’s displeasure; but he detected only a perfect stillness. The stillness itself seemed a trifle portentous; he reflected however that he had no right to stand listening, and he made his way back to the salon. In his absence several persons had come in. They were scattered about the room in groups, two or three of them having passed into a small boudoir, next to the drawing-room, which had now been lighted and opened. Old Madame de Bellegarde was in her place by the fire, talking to a very old gentleman in a wig and a profuse white neck cloth of the fashion of 1820. Madame de Cintre was bending a listening head to the historic confidences of an old lady who was presumably the wife of the old gentleman in the neckcloth, an old lady in a red satin dress and an ermine cape, who wore across her forehead a band with a topaz set in it. Young Madame de Bellegarde, when Newman came in, left some people among whom she was sitting, and took the place that she had occupied before dinner. Then she gave a little push to the puff that stood near her, and by a glance at Newman seemed to indicate that she had placed it in position for him. He went and took possession of it; the marquis’s wife amused and puzzled him.

“I know your secret,” she said, in her bad but charming English; “you need make no mystery of it. You wish to marry my sister-in-law. C’est un beau choix. A man like you ought to marry a tall, thin woman. You must know that I have spoken in your favor; you owe me a famous taper!”

“You have spoken to Madame de Cintre?” said Newman.

“Oh no, not that. You may think it strange, but my sister-in-law and I are not so intimate as that. No; I spoke to my husband and my mother-in-law; I said I was sure we could do what we chose with you.”

“I am much, obliged to you,” said Newman, laughing; “but you can’t.”

“I know that very well; I didn’t believe a word of it. But I wanted you to come into the house; I thought we should be friends.”

“I am very sure of it,” said Newman.

“Don’t be too sure. If you like Madame de Cintre so much, perhaps you will not like me. We are as different as blue and pink. But you and I have something in common. I have come into this family by marriage; you want to come into it in the same way.”

“Oh no, I don’t!” interrupted Newman. “I only want to take Madame de Cintre out of it.”

“Well, to cast your nets you have to go into the water. Our positions are alike; we shall be able to compare notes. What do you think of my husband? It’s a strange question, isn’t it? But I shall ask you some stranger ones yet.”

“Perhaps a stranger one will be easier to answer,” said Newman. “You might try me.”

“Oh, you get off very well; the old Comte de la Rochefidele, yonder, couldn’t do it better. I told them that if we only gave you a chance you would be a perfect talon rouge. I know something about men. Besides, you and I belong to the same camp. I am a ferocious democrat. By birth I am vieille roche; a good little bit of the history of France is the history of my family. Oh, you never heard of us, of course! Ce que c’est que la gloire! We are much better than the Bellegardes, at any rate. But I don’t care a pin for my pedigree; I want to belong to my time. I’m a revolutionist, a radical, a child of the age! I am sure I go beyond you. I like clever people, wherever they come from, and I take my amusement wherever I find it. I don’t pout at the Empire; here all the world pouts at the Empire. Of course I have to mind what I say; but I expect to take my revenge with you.” Madame de Bellegarde discoursed for some time longer in this sympathetic strain, with an eager abundance which seemed to indicate that her opportunities for revealing her esoteric philosophy were indeed rare. She hoped that Newman would never be afraid of her, however he might be with the others, for, really, she went very far indeed. “Strong people”— le gens forts — were in her opinion equal, all the world over. Newman listened to her with an attention at once beguiled and irritated. He wondered what the deuce she, too, was driving at, with her hope that he would not be afraid of her and her protestations of equality. In so far as he could understand her, she was wrong; a silly, rattling woman was certainly not the equal of a sensible man, preoccupied with an ambitious passion. Madame de Bellegarde stopped suddenly, and looked at him sharply, shaking her fan. “I see you don’t believe me,” she said, “you are too much on your guard. You will not form an alliance, offensive or defensive? You are very wrong; I could help you.”

Newman answered that he was very grateful and that he would certainly ask for help; she should see. “But first of all,” he said, “I must help myself.” And he went to join Madame de Cintre.

“I have been telling Madame de la Rochefidele that you are an American,” she said, as he came up. “It interests her greatly. Her father went over with the French troops to help you in your battles in the last century, and she has always, in consequence, wanted greatly to see an American. But she has never succeeded till to-night. You are the first — to her knowledge — that she has ever looked at.”

Madame de la Rochefidele had an aged, cadaverous face, with a falling of the lower jaw which prevented her from bringing her lips together, and reduced her conversations to a series of impressive but inarticulate gutturals. She raised an antique eyeglass, elaborately mounted in chased silver, and looked at Newman from head to foot. Then she said something to which he listened deferentially, but which he completely failed to understand.

“Madame de la Rochefidele says that she is convinced that she must have seen Americans without knowing it,” Madame de Cintre explained. Newman thought it probable she had seen a great many things without knowing it; and the old lady, again addressing herself to utterance, declared — as interpreted by Madame de Cintre — that she wished she had known it.

At this moment the old gentleman who had been talking to the elder Madame de Bellegarde drew near, leading the marquise on his arm. His wife pointed out Newman to him, apparently explaining his remarkable origin. M. de la Rochefidele, whose old age was rosy and rotund, spoke very neatly and clearly, almost as prettily, Newman thought, as M. Nioche. When he had been enlightened, he turned to Newman with an inimitable elderly grace.

“Monsieur is by no means the first American that I have seen,” he said. “Almost the first person I ever saw — to notice him — was an American.”

“Ah?” said Newman, sympathetically.

“The great Dr. Franklin,” said M. de la Rochefidele. “Of course I was very young. He was received very well in our monde.”

“Not better than Mr. Newman,” said Madame de Bellegarde. “I beg he will offer his arm into the other room. I could have offered no higher privilege to Dr. Franklin.”

Newman, complying with Madame de Bellegarde’s request, perceived that her two sons had returned to the drawing-room. He scanned their faces an instant for traces of the scene that had followed his separation from them, but the marquise seemed neither more nor less frigidly grand than usual, and Valentin was kissing ladies’ hands with at least his habitual air of self-abandonment to the act. Madame de Bellegarde gave a glance at her eldest son, and by the time she had crossed the threshold of her boudoir he was at her side. The room was now empty and offered a sufficient degree of privacy. The old lady disengaged herself from Newman’s arm and rested her hand on the arm of the marquis; and in this position she stood a moment, holding her head high and biting her small under-lip. I am afraid the picture was lost upon Newman, but Madame de Bellegarde was, in fact, at this moment a striking image of the dignity which — even in the case of a little time-shrunken old lady — may reside in the habit of unquestioned authority and the absoluteness of a social theory favorable to yourself.

“My son has spoken to you as I desired,” she said, “and you understand that we shall not interfere. The rest will lie with yourself.”

“M. de Bellegarde told me several things I didn’t understand,” said Newman, “but I made out that. You will leave me open field. I am much obliged.”

“I wish to add a word that my son probably did not feel at liberty to say,” the marquise rejoined. “I must say it for my own peace of mind. We are stretching a point; we are doing you a great favor.”

“Oh, your son said it very well; didn’t you?” said Newman.

“Not so well as my mother,” declared the marquis.

“I can only repeat — I am much obliged.”

“It is proper I should tell you,” Madame de Bellegarde went on, “that I am very proud, and that I hold my head very high. I may be wrong, but I am too old to change. At least I know it, and I don’t pretend to anything else. Don’t flatter yourself that my daughter is not proud. She is proud in her own way — a somewhat different way from mine. You will have to make your terms with that. Even Valentin is proud, if you touch the right spot — or the wrong one. Urbain is proud; that you see for yourself. Sometimes I think he is a little too proud; but I wouldn’t change him. He is the best of my children; he cleaves to his old mother. But I have said enough to show you that we are all proud together. It is well that you should know the sort of people you have come among.”

“Well,” said Newman, “I can only say, in return, that I am NOT proud; I shan’t mind you! But you speak as if you intended to be very disagreeable.”

“I shall not enjoy having my daughter marry you, and I shall not pretend to enjoy it. If you don’t mind that, so much the better.”

“If you stick to your own side of the contract we shall not quarrel; that is all I ask of you,” said Newman. “Keep your hands off, and give me an open field. I am very much in earnest, and there is not the slightest danger of my getting discouraged or backing out. You will have me constantly before your eyes; if you don’t like it, I am sorry for you. I will do for your daughter, if she will accept me everything that a man can do for a woman. I am happy to tell you that, as a promise — a pledge. I consider that on your side you make me an equal pledge. You will not back out, eh?”

“I don’t know what you mean by ‘backing out,’ “ said the marquise. “It suggests a movement of which I think no Bellegarde has ever been guilty.”

“Our word is our word,” said Urbain. “We have given it.”

“Well, now,” said Newman, “I am very glad you are so proud. It makes me believe that you will keep it.”

The marquise was silent a moment, and then, suddenly, “I shall always be polite to you, Mr. Newman,” she declared, “but, decidedly, I shall never like you.”

“Don’t be too sure,” said Newman, laughing.

“I am so sure that I will ask you to take me back to my arm-chair without the least fear of having my sentiments modified by the service you render me.” And Madame de Bellegarde took his arm, and returned to the salon and to her customary place.

M. de la Rochefidele and his wife were preparing to take their leave, and Madame de Cintre’s interview with the mumbling old lady was at an end. She stood looking about her, asking herself, apparently to whom she should next speak, when Newman came up to her.

“Your mother has given me leave — very solemnly — to come here often,” he said. “I mean to come often.”

“I shall be glad to see you,” she answered, simply. And then, in a moment. “You probably think it very strange that there should be such a solemnity — as you say — about your coming.”

“Well, yes; I do, rather.”

“Do you remember what my brother Valentin said, the first time you came to see me — that we were a strange, strange family?”

“It was not the first time I came, but the second,” said Newman.

“Very true. Valentin annoyed me at the time, but now I know you better, I may tell you he was right. If you come often, you will see!” and Madame de Cintre turned away.

Newman watched her a while, talking with other people, and then he took his leave. He shook hands last with Valentin de Bellegarde, who came out with him to the top of the staircase. “Well, you have got your permit,” said Valentin. “I hope you liked the process.”

“I like your sister, more than ever. But don’t worry your brother any more for my sake,” Newman added. “I don’t mind him. I am afraid he came down on you in the smoking-room, after I went out.”

“When my brother comes down on me,” said Valentin, “he falls hard. I have a peculiar way of receiving him. I must say,” he continued, “that they came up to the mark much sooner than I expected. I don’t understand it, they must have had to turn the screw pretty tight. It’s a tribute to your millions.”

“Well, it’s the most precious one they have ever received,” said Newman.

He was turning away when Valentin stopped him, looking at him with a brilliant, softly-cynical glance. “I should like to know whether, within a few days, you have seen your venerable friend M. Nioche.”

“He was yesterday at my rooms,” Newman answered.

“What did he tell you?”

“Nothing particular.”

“You didn’t see the muzzle of a pistol sticking out of his pocket?”

“What are you driving at?” Newman demanded. “I thought he seemed rather cheerful for him.”

Valentin broke into a laugh. “I am delighted to hear it! I win my bet. Mademoiselle Noemie has thrown her cap over the mill, as we say. She has left the paternal domicile. She is launched! And M. Nioche is rather cheerful — FOR HIM! Don’t brandish your tomahawk at that rate; I have not seen her nor communicated with her since that day at the Louvre. Andromeda has found another Perseus than I. My information is exact; on such matters it always is. I suppose that now you will raise your protest.”

“My protest be hanged!” murmured Newman, disgustedly.

But his tone found no echo in that in which Valentin, with his hand on the door, to return to his mother’s apartment, exclaimed, “But I shall see her now! She is very remarkable — she is very remarkable!”

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/j/james/henry/american/chapter12.html

Last updated Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 20:38