The Ambassadors HTML version

Chapter VI.2
In Chad's lovely home, however, one evening ten days later, he felt himself present at
the collapse of the question of Jeanne de Vionnet's shy secret. He had been dining
there in the company of that young lady and her mother, as well as of other persons,
and he had gone into the petit salon, at Chad's request, on purpose to talk with her. The
young man had put this to him as a favour--"I should like so awfully to know what you
think of her. It will really be a chance for you," he had said, "to see the jeune fille--I
mean the type--as she actually is, and I don't think that, as an observer of manners, it's
a thing you ought to miss. It will be an impression that-- whatever else you take--you
can carry home with you, where you'll find again so much to compare it with."
Strether knew well enough with what Chad wished him to compare it, and though he
entirely assented he hadn't yet somehow been so deeply reminded that he was being,
as he constantly though mutely expressed it, used. He was as far as ever from making
out exactly to what end; but he was none the less constantly accompanied by a sense
of the service he rendered. He conceived only that this service was highly agreeable to
those who profited by it; and he was indeed still waiting for the moment at which he
should catch it in the act of proving disagreeable, proving in some degree intolerable, to
himself. He failed quite to see how his situation could clear up at all logically except by
some turn of events that would give him the pretext of disgust. He was building from day
to day on the possibility of disgust, but each day brought forth meanwhile a new and
more engaging bend of the road. That possibility was now ever so much further from
sight than on the eve of his arrival, and he perfectly felt that, should it come at all, it
would have to be at best inconsequent and violent. He struck himself as a little nearer to
it only when he asked himself what service, in such a life of utility, he was after all
rendering Mrs. Newsome. When he wished to help himself to believe that he was still all
right he reflected--and in fact with wonder--on the unimpaired frequency of their
correspondence; in relation to which what was after all more natural than that it should
become more frequent just in proportion as their problem became more complicated?
Certain it is at any rate that he now often brought himself balm by the question, with the
rich consciousness of yesterday's letter, "Well, what can I do more than that--what can I
do more than tell her everything?" To persuade himself that he did tell her, had told her,
everything, he used to try to think of particular things he hadn't told her. When at rare
moments and in the watches of the night he pounced on one it generally showed itself
to be--to a deeper scrutiny--not quite truly of the essence. When anything new struck
him as coming up, or anything already noted as reappearing, he always immediately
wrote, as if for fear that if he didn't he would miss something; and also that he might be
able to say to himself from time to time "She knows it NOW--even while I worry." It was
a great comfort to him in general not to have left past things to be dragged to light and
explained; not to have to produce at so late a stage anything not produced, or anything
even veiled and attenuated, at the moment. She knew it now: that was what he said to
himself to-night in relation to the fresh fact of Chad's acquaintance with the two ladies--
not to speak of the fresher one of his own. Mrs. Newsome knew in other words that very