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Chapter 5
When Newman related to Mrs. Tristram his fruitless visit to Madame de Cintre,
she urged him not to be discouraged, but to carry out his plan of "seeing Europe"
during the summer, and return to Paris in the autumn and settle down
comfortably for the winter. "Madame de Cintre will keep," she said; "she is not a
woman who will marry from one day to another." Newman made no distinct
affirmation that he would come back to Paris; he even talked about Rome and
the Nile, and abstained from professing any especial interest in Madame de
Cintre's continued widowhood. This circumstance was at variance with his
habitual frankness, and may perhaps be regarded as characteristic of the
incipient stage of that passion which is more particularly known as the mysterious
one. The truth is that the expression of a pair of eyes that were at once brilliant
and mild had become very familiar to his memory, and he would not easily have
resigned himself to the prospect of never looking into them again. He
communicated to Mrs. Tristram a number of other facts, of greater or less
importance, as you choose; but on this particular point he kept his own counsel.
He took a kindly leave of M. Nioche, having assured him that, so far as he was
concerned, the blue-cloaked Madonna herself might have been present at his
interview with Mademoiselle Noemie; and left the old man nursing his breast-
pocket, in an ecstasy which the acutest misfortune might have been defied to
dissipate. Newman then started on his travels, with all his usual appearance of
slow-strolling leisure, and all his essential directness and intensity of aim. No
man seemed less in a hurry, and yet no man achieved more in brief periods. He
had certain practical instincts which served him excellently in his trade of tourist.
He found his way in foreign cities by divination, his memory was excellent when
once his attention had been at all cordially given, and he emerged from dialogues
in foreign tongues, of which he had, formally, not understood a word, in full
possession of the particular fact he had desired to ascertain. His appetite for
facts was capacious, and although many of those which he noted would have
seemed woefully dry and colorless to the ordinary sentimental traveler, a careful
inspection of the list would have shown that he had a soft spot in his imagination.
In the charming city of Brussels--his first stopping-place after leaving Paris--he
asked a great many questions about the street-cars, and took extreme
satisfaction in the reappearance of this familiar symbol of American civilization;
but he was also greatly struck with the beautiful Gothic tower of the Hotel de
Ville, and wondered whether it would not be possible to "get up" something like it
in San Francisco. He stood for half an hour in the crowded square before this
edifice, in imminent danger from carriage-wheels, listening to a toothless old
cicerone mumble in broken English the touching history of Counts Egmont and
Horn; and he wrote the names of these gentlemen--for reasons best known to
himself--on the back of an old letter.
At the outset, on his leaving Paris, his curiosity had not been intense; passive
entertainment, in the Champs Elysees and at the theatres, seemed about as
much as he need expect of himself, and although, as he had said to Tristram, he