HENRY JAMES (1843–1916)
Extracts from The Ambassadors (1903). Book Fifth, Chs. I & III

[A description of Strether’s reactions to the house of the great sculptor, Gloriani, in Paris.]

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

[Chad calls on Strether in the morning at his hotel in Paris.]

Strether took his coffee, by habit, in the public room; but on his descending for this purpose Chad instantly proposed an adjournment to what he called greater privacy. He had himself as yet had nothing—they would sit down somewhere together; and when after a few steps and a turn into the Boulevard they had, for their greater privacy, sat down among twenty others, our friend saw in his companion’s move a fear of the advent of Waymarsh. This adjournment has a specific purpose, but it is characteristic of the urban person to hide among twenty or more fellow humans.

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