The Ambassadors HTML version

Chapter III.2
When Miss Gostrey arrived, at the end of a week, she made him a sign; he went
immediately to see her, and it wasn't till then that he could again close his grasp on the
idea of a corrective. This idea however was luckily all before him again from the
moment he crossed the threshold of the little entresol of the Quartier Marboeuf into
which she had gathered, as she said, picking them up in a thousand flights and funny
little passionate pounces, the makings of a final nest. He recognised in an instant that
there really, there only, he should find the boon with the vision of which he had first
mounted Chad's stairs. He might have been a little scared at the picture of how much
more, in this place, he should know himself "in" hadn't his friend been on the spot to
measure the amount to his appetite. Her compact and crowded little chambers, almost
dusky, as they at first struck him, with accumulations, represented a supreme general
adjustment to opportunities and conditions. Wherever he looked he saw an old ivory or
an old brocade, and he scarce knew where to sit for fear of a misappliance. The life of
the occupant struck him of a sudden as more charged with possession even than
Chad's or than Miss Barrace's; wide as his glimpse had lately become of the empire of
"things," what was before him still enlarged it; the lust of the eyes and the pride of life
had indeed thus their temple. It was the innermost nook of the shrine--as brown as a
pirate's cave. In the brownness were glints of gold; patches of purple were in the gloom;
objects all that caught, through the muslin, with their high rarity, the light of the low
windows. Nothing was clear about them but that they were precious, and they brushed
his ignorance with their contempt as a flower, in a liberty taken with him, might have
been whisked under his nose. But after a full look at his hostess he knew none the less
what most concerned him. The circle in which they stood together was warm with life,
and every question between them would live there as nowhere else. A question came
up as soon as they had spoken, for his answer, with a laugh, was quickly: "Well, they've
got hold of me!" Much of their talk on this first occasion was his development of that
truth. He was extraordinarily glad to see her, expressing to her frankly what she most
showed him, that one might live for years without a blessing unsuspected, but that to
know it at last for no more than three days was to need it or miss it for ever. She was
the blessing that had now become his need, and what could prove it better than that
without her he had lost himself?
"What do you mean?" she asked with an absence of alarm that, correcting him as if he
had mistaken the "period" of one of her pieces, gave him afresh a sense of her easy
movement through the maze he had but begun to tread. "What in the name of all the
Pococks have you managed to do?"
"Why exactly the wrong thing. I've made a frantic friend of little Bilham."
"Ah that sort of thing was of the essence of your case and to have been allowed for from
the first." And it was only after this that, quite as a minor matter, she asked who in the
world little Bilham might be. When she learned that he was a friend of Chad's and living