The Ambassadors HTML version

Chapter I.2
He had none the less to confess to this friend that evening that he knew almost nothing
about her, and it was a deficiency that Waymarsh, even with his memory refreshed by
contact, by her own prompt and lucid allusions and enquiries, by their having publicly
partaken of dinner in her company, and by another stroll, to which she was not a
stranger, out into the town to look at the cathedral by moonlight--it was a blank that the
resident of Milrose, though admitting acquaintance with the Munsters, professed himself
unable to fill. He had no recollection of Miss Gostrey, and two or three questions that
she put to him about those members of his circle had, to Strether's observation, the
same effect he himself had already more directly felt--the effect of appearing to place all
knowledge, for the time, on this original woman's side. It interested him indeed to mark
the limits of any such relation for her with his friend as there could possibly be a
question of, and it particularly struck him that they were to be marked altogether in
Waymarsh's quarter. This added to his own sense of having gone far with her-gave him
an early illustration of a much shorter course. There was a certitude he immediately
grasped--a conviction that Waymarsh would quite fail, as it were, and on whatever
degree of acquaintances to profit by her.
There had been after the first interchange among the three a talk of some five minutes
in the hall, and then the two men had adjourned to the garden, Miss Gostrey for the time
disappearing. Strether in due course accompanied his friend to the room he had
bespoken and had, before going out, scrupulously visited; where at the end of another
half-hour he had no less discreetly left him. On leaving him he repaired straight to his
own room, but with the prompt effect of feeling the compass of that chamber resented
by his condition. There he enjoyed at once the first consequence of their reunion. A
place was too small for him after it that had seemed large enough before. He had
awaited it with something he would have been sorry, have been almost ashamed not to
recognise as emotion, yet with a tacit assumption at the same time that emotion would
in the event find itself relieved. The actual oddity was that he was only more excited;
and his excitement-to which indeed he would have found it difficult instantly to give a
name--brought him once more downstairs and caused him for some minutes vaguely to
wander. He went once more to the garden; he looked into the public room, found Miss
Gostrey writing letters and backed out; he roamed, fidgeted and wasted time; but he
was to have his more intimate session with his friend before the evening closed.
It was late--not till Strether had spent an hour upstairs with him-- that this subject
consented to betake himself to doubtful rest. Dinner and the subsequent stroll by
moonlight--a dream, on Strether's part, of romantic effects rather prosaically merged in
a mere missing of thicker coats--had measurably intervened, and this midnight
conference was the result of Waymarsh's having (when they were free, as he put it, of
their fashionable friend) found the smoking-room not quite what he wanted, and yet bed
what he wanted less. His most frequent form of words was that he knew himself, and
they were applied on this occasion to his certainty of not sleeping. He knew himself well
enough to know that he should have a night of prowling unless he should succeed, as a