Not a member?     Existing members login below:

The Ambassadors

Chapter IV.1
"I've come, you know, to make you break with everything, neither more nor less, and
take you straight home; so you'll be so good as immediately and favourably to consider
it!"--Strether, face to face with Chad after the play, had sounded these words almost
breathlessly, and with an effect at first positively disconcerting to himself alone. For
Chad's receptive attitude was that of a person who had been gracefully quiet while the
messenger at last reaching him has run a mile through the dust. During some seconds
after he had spoken Strether felt as if HE had made some such exertion; he was not
even certain that the perspiration wasn't on his brow. It was the kind of consciousness
for which he had to thank the look that, while the strain lasted, the young man's eyes
gave him. They reflected--and the deuce of the thing was that they reflected really with
a sort of shyness of kindness--his momentarily disordered state; which fact brought on
in its turn for our friend the dawn of a fear that Chad might simply "take it out"--take
everything out--in being sorry for him. Such a fear, any fear, was unpleasant. But
everything was unpleasant; it was odd how everything had suddenly turned so. This
however was no reason for letting the least thing go. Strether had the next minute
proceeded as roundly as if with an advantage to follow up. "Of course I'm a busybody, if
you want to fight the case to the death; but after all mainly in the sense of having known
you and having given you such attention as you kindly permitted when you were in
jackets and knickerbockers. Yes--it was knickerbockers, I'm busybody enough to
remember that; and that you had, for your age--I speak of the first far-away time--
tremendously stout legs. Well, we want you to break. Your mother's heart's passionately
set upon it, but she has above and beyond that excellent arguments and reasons. I've
not put them into her head--I needn't remind you how little she's a person who needs
that. But they exist--you must take it from me as a friend both of hers and yours--for
myself as well. I didn't invent them, I didn't originally work them out; but I understand
them, I think I can explain them--by which I mean make you actively do them justice;
and that's why you see me here. You had better know the worst at once. It's a question
of an immediate rupture and an immediate return. I've been conceited enough to dream
I can sugar that pill. I take at any rate the greatest interest in the question. I took it
already before I left home, and I don't mind telling you that, altered as you are, I take it
still more now that I've seen you. You're older and--I don't know what to call it!--more of
a handful; but you're by so much the more, I seem to make out, to our purpose."
"Do I strike you as improved?" Strether was to recall that Chad had at this point
enquired.
He was likewise to recall--and it had to count for some time as his greatest comfort--that
it had been "given" him, as they said at Woollett, to reply with some presence of mind: "I
haven't the least idea." He was really for a while to like thinking he had been positively
hard. On the point of conceding that Chad had improved in appearance, but that to the
question of appearance the remark must be confined, he checked even that
compromise and left his reservation bare. Not only his moral, but also, as it were, his
aesthetic sense had a little to pay for this, Chad being unmistakeably--and wasn't it a
 
Remove