At four o'clock that afternoon he had still not seen him, but he was then, as to make up
for this, engaged in talk about him with Miss Gostrey. Strether had kept away from
home all day, given himself up to the town and to his thoughts, wandered and mused,
been at once restless and absorbed--and all with the present climax of a rich little
welcome in the Quartier Marboeuf. "Waymarsh has been, 'unbeknown' to me, I'm
convinced"--for Miss Gostrey had enquired--"in communication with Woollett: the
consequence of which was, last night, the loudest possible call for me."
"Do you mean a letter to bring you home?"
"No--a cable, which I have at this moment in my pocket: a 'Come back by the first ship.'"
Strether's hostess, it might have been made out, just escaped changing colour.
Reflexion arrived but in time and established a provisional serenity. It was perhaps
exactly this that enabled her to say with duplicity: "And you're going--?"
"You almost deserve it when you abandon me so."
She shook her head as if this were not worth taking up. "My absence has helped you--
as I've only to look at you to see. It was my calculation, and I'm justified. You're not
where you were. And the thing," she smiled, "was for me not to be there either. You can
go of yourself."
"Oh but I feel to-day," he comfortably declared, "that I shall want you yet."
She took him all in again. "Well, I promise you not again to leave you, but it will only be
to follow you. You've got your momentum and can toddle alone."
He intelligently accepted it. "Yes--I suppose I can toddle. It's the sight of that in fact that
has upset Waymarsh. He can bear it-- the way I strike him as going--no longer. That's
only the climax of his original feeling. He wants me to quit; and he must have written to
Woollett that I'm in peril of perdition."
"Ah good!" she murmured. "But is it only your supposition?"
"I make it out--it explains."
"Then he denies?--or you haven't asked him?"
"I've not had time," Strether said; "I made it out but last night, putting various things
together, and I've not been since then face to face with him."