The Ambassadors HTML version

Chapter II.2
Strether called, his second morning in Paris, on the bankers of the Rue Scribe to whom
his letter of credit was addressed, and he made this visit attended by Waymarsh, in
whose company he had crossed from London two days before. They had hastened to
the Rue Scribe on the morrow of their arrival, but Strether had not then found the letters
the hope of which prompted this errand. He had had as yet none at all; hadn't expected
them in London, but had counted on several in Paris, and, disconcerted now, had
presently strolled back to the Boulevard with a sense of injury that he felt himself taking
for as good a start as any other. It would serve, this spur to his spirit, he reflected, as,
pausing at the top of the street, he looked up and down the great foreign avenue, it
would serve to begin business with. His idea was to begin business immediately, and it
did much for him the rest of his day that the beginning of business awaited him. He did
little else till night but ask himself what he should do if he hadn't fortunately had so much
to do; but he put himself the question in many different situations and connexions. What
carried him hither and yon was an admirable theory that nothing he could do wouldn't be
in some manner related to what he fundamentally had on hand, or WOULD be-- should
he happen to have a scruple--wasted for it. He did happen to have a scruple--a scruple
about taking no definite step till he should get letters; but this reasoning carried it off. A
single day to feel his feet--he had felt them as yet only at Chester and in London--was
he could consider, none too much; and having, as he had often privately expressed it,
Paris to reckon with, he threw these hours of freshness consciously into the reckoning.
They made it continually greater, but that was what it had best be if it was to be
anything at all, and he gave himself up till far into the evening, at the theatre and on the
return, after the theatre, along the bright congested Boulevard, to feeling it grow.
Waymarsh had accompanied him this time to the play, and the two men had walked
together, as a first stage, from the Gymnase to the Cafe Riche, into the crowded
"terrace" of which establishment--the night, or rather the morning, for midnight had
struck, being bland and populous--they had wedged themselves for refreshment.
Waymarsh, as a result of some discussion with his friend, had made a marked virtue of
his having now let himself go; and there had been elements of impression in their half-
hour over their watered beer-glasses that gave him his occasion for conveying that he
held this compromise with his stiffer self to have become extreme. He conveyed it--for it
was still, after all, his stiffer self who gloomed out of the glare of the terrace--in solemn
silence; and there was indeed a great deal of critical silence, every way, between the
companions, even till they gained the Place de l'Opera, as to the character of their
nocturnal progress.
This morning there WERE letters--letters which had reached London, apparently all
together, the day of Strether's journey, and had taken their time to follow him; so that,
after a controlled impulse to go into them in the reception-room of the bank, which,
reminding him of the post-office at Woollett, affected him as the abutment of some
transatlantic bridge, he slipped them into the pocket of his loose grey overcoat with a
sense of the felicity of carrying them off. Waymarsh, who had had letters yesterday, had
had them again to-day, and Waymarsh suggested in this particular no controlled