The Ambassadors HTML version

Chapter V.2
On which Strether saw that Chad was again at hand, and he afterwards scarce knew,
absurd as it may seem, what had then quickly occurred. The moment concerned him,
he felt, more deeply than he could have explained, and he had a subsequent passage
of speculation as to whether, on walking off with Chad, he hadn't looked either pale or
red. The only thing he was clear about was that, luckily, nothing indiscreet had in fact
been said and that Chad himself was more than ever, in Miss Barrace's great sense,
wonderful. It was one of the connexions--though really why it should be, after all, was
none so apparent--in which the whole change in him came out as most striking. Strether
recalled as they approached the house that he had impressed him that first night as
knowing how to enter a box. Well, he impressed him scarce less now as knowing how
to make a presentation. It did something for Strether's own quality--marked it as
estimated; so that our poor friend, conscious and passive, really seemed to feel himself
quite handed over and delivered; absolutely, as he would have said, made a present of,
given away. As they reached the house a young woman, about to come forth,
appeared, unaccompanied, on the steps; at the exchange with whom of a word on
Chad's part Strether immediately perceived that, obligingly, kindly, she was there to
meet them. Chad had left her in the house, but she had afterwards come halfway and
then the next moment had joined them in the garden. Her air of youth, for Strether, was
at first almost disconcerting, while his second impression was, not less sharply, a
degree of relief at there not having just been, with the others, any freedom used about
her. It was upon him at a touch that she was no subject for that, and meanwhile, on
Chad's introducing him, she had spoken to him, very simply and gently, in an English
clearly of the easiest to her, yet unlike any other he had ever heard. It wasn't as if she
tried; nothing, he could see after they had been a few minutes together, was as if she
tried; but her speech, charming correct and odd, was like a precaution against her
passing for a Pole. There were precautions, he seemed indeed to see, only when there
were really dangers.
Later on he was to feel many more of them, but by that time he was to feel other things
besides. She was dressed in black, but in black that struck him as light and transparent;
she was exceedingly fair, and, though she was as markedly slim, her face had a
roundness, with eyes far apart and a little strange. Her smile was natural and dim; her
hat not extravagant; he had only perhaps a sense of the clink, beneath her fine black
sleeves, of more gold bracelets and bangles than he had ever seen a lady wear. Chad
was excellently free and light about their encounter; it was one of the occasions on
which Strether most wished he himself might have arrived at such ease and such
humour: "Here you are then, face to face at last; you're made for each other--vous allez
voir; and I bless your union." It was indeed, after he had gone off, as if he had been
partly serious too. This latter motion had been determined by an enquiry from him about
"Jeanne"; to which her mother had replied that she was probably still in the house with
Miss Gostrey, to whom she had lately committed her. "Ah but you know," the young
man had rejoined, "he must see her"; with which, while Strether pricked up his ears, he
had started as if to bring her, leaving the other objects of his interest together. Strether