Click here to Download The American PDF Book by Henry James Language English having PDF Size 3.5 MB and No of Pages 318.
On a brilliant day in May, in the year 1868, a gentleman was reclining at his ease on the great circular divan which at that period occupied the centre of the Salon Carré, in the Museum of the Louvre. This commodious ottoman has since been removed, to the extreme regret of all weak-kneed lovers of the fine arts.
The American PDF Book by Henry James
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But the gentleman in question had taken serene possession of its softest spot, and, with his head thrown back and his legs outstretched, was staring at Murillo’s beautiful moon-borne Madonna in profound enjoyment of his posture. He had removed his hat, and flung down beside him a little red guide-book and an opera-glass.
The day was warm; he was heated with walking, and he repeatedly passed his handkerchief over his forehead, with a somewhat wearied gesture. And yet he was evidently not a man to whom fatigue was familiar; long, lean, and muscular, he suggested the sort of vigor that is commonly known as “toughness.”
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But his exertions on this particular day had been of an unwonted sort, and he had performed great physical feats which left him less jaded than his tranquil stroll through the Louvre. He had looked out all the pictures to which an asterisk was affixed in those formidable pages of fine print in his Bädeker.
His attention had been strained and his eyes dazzled, and he had sat down with an æsthetic headache. He had looked, moreover, not only at all the pictures, but at all the copies that were going forward around them, in the hands of those innumerable young women in irreproachable toilets who devote themselves, in France.
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To the propagation of masterpieces, and if the truth must be told, he had often admired the copy much more than the original. His physiognomy would have sufficiently indicated that he was a shrewd and capable fellow, and in truth he had often sat up all night over a bristling bundle of accounts, and heard the cock crow without a yawn.
But Raphael and Titian and Rubens were a new kind of arithmetic, and they inspired our friend, for the first time in his life, with a vague self-mistrust. “The Madonna, yes; I am not a Catholic, but I want to buy it. Combien? Write it here.” And he took a pencil from his pocket and showed her the fly-leaf of his guide-book.
She stood looking at him and scratching her chin with the pencil. “Is it not for sale?” he asked. And as she still stood reflecting, and looking at him with an eye which, in spite of her desire to treat this avidity of patronage as a very old story, betrayed an almost touching incredulity, he was afraid he had offended her. The American PDF Book
She was simply trying to look indifferent, and wondering how far she might go. “I haven’t made a mistake—pas insulté, no?” her interlocutor continued. “Don’t you understand a little English?” The young lady’s aptitude for playing a part at short notice was remarkable.
She fixed him with her conscious, perceptive eye and asked him if he spoke no French. Then, “Donnez!” she said briefly, and took the open guide-book. In the upper corner of the fly-leaf she traced a number, in a minute and extremely neat hand. Then she handed back the book and took up her palette again.
Our friend read the number: “2,000 francs.” He said nothing for a time, but stood looking at the picture, while the copyist began actively to dabble with her paint. “For a copy, isn’t that a good deal?” he asked at last. “Pas beaucoup?” The young lady raised her eyes from her palette. The American PDF Book
Scanned him from head to foot, and alighted with admirable sagacity upon exactly the right answer. “Yes, it’s a good deal. But my copy has remarkable qualities, it is worth nothing less.” The gentleman in whom we are interested understood no French, but I have said he was intelligent, and here is a good chance to prove it.
He apprehended, by a natural instinct, the meaning of the young woman’s phrase, and it gratified him to think that she was so honest. Beauty, talent, virtue; she combined everything! “But you must finish it,” he said. “finish, you know;” and he pointed to the unpainted hand of the figure.
“Oh, it shall be finished in perfection; in the perfection of perfections!” cried mademoiselle; and to confirm her promise, she deposited a rosy blotch in the middle of the Madonna’s cheek. M. Nioche looked at him with weak, uncertain eyes. He would have liked to be able to say that his daughter’s talents were appreciated. The American PDF Book
And that her crooked little daubs commanded a market; but it seemed a scandal to abuse the credulity of this free-handed stranger, who, without a suspicion or a question, had admitted him to equal social rights. He compromised, and declared that while it was obvious that Mademoiselle Noémie’s reproductions of the old masters had only.
To be seen to be coveted, the prices which, in consideration of their altogether peculiar degree of finish, she felt obliged to ask for them had kept purchasers at a respectful distance. “Poor little one!” said M. Nioche, with a sigh; “it is almost a pity that her work is so perfect! It would be in her interest to paint less well.”
“But if Mademoiselle Noémie has this devotion to her art,” Newman once observed, “why should you have those fears for her that you spoke of the other day?” M. Nioche meditated: there was an inconsistency in his position; it made him chronically uncomfortable. The American PDF Book
Though he had no desire to destroy the goose with the golden eggs— Newman’s benevolent confidence—he felt a tremulous impulse to speak out all his trouble. “Ah, she is an artist, my dear sir, most assuredly,” he declared. “But, to tell you the truth, she is also a franche coquette.
I am sorry to say,” he added in a moment, shaking his head with a world of harmless bitterness, “that she comes honestly by it. Her mother was one before her!” “You were not happy with your wife?” Newman asked. M. Nioche gave half a dozen little backward jerks of his head.
“She was my purgatory, monsieur!” “She deceived you?” “Under my nose, year after year. I was too stupid, and the temptation was too great. But I found her out at last. I have only been once in my life a man to be afraid of; I know it very well; it was in that hour! Nevertheless I don’t like to think of it. The American PDF Book
I loved her—I can’t tell you how much. She was a bad woman.” “Oh, I mean,” said Babcock, “was she possibly not to be considered in a different light? Don’t you think she really expected him to marry her?” “I am sure I don’t know,” said Newman. “Very likely she did; I have no doubt she is a grand woman.”
And he began to laugh again. “I didn’t mean that either,” said Babcock, “I was only afraid that I might have seemed yesterday not to remember—not to consider; well, I think I will write to Percival about it.” And he had written to Percival (who answered him in a really impudent fashion), and he had reflected that it was somehow.
Raw and reckless in Newman to assume in that offhand manner that the young woman in Paris might be “grand.” The b revity of Newman’s judgments very often shocked and discomposed him. He had a way of damning people without farther appeal, or of pronouncing them capital company in the face of uncomfortable symptoms .The American PDF Book Download
Which seemed unworthy of a man whose conscience had been properly cultivated. And yet poor Babcock liked him, and remembered that even if he was sometimes perplexing and painful, this was not a reason for giving him up. Goethe recommended seeing human nature in the most various forms, and Mr. Babcock thought Goethe perfectly splendid.
He often tried, in odd half-hours of conversation to infuse into Newman a little of his own spiritual starch, but Newman’s personal texture was too loose to admit of stiffening. His mind could no more hold principles than a sieve can hold water. He admired principles extremely, and thought Babcock a mighty fine little fellow for having so many.
He accepted all that his high-strung companion offered him, and put them away in what he supposed to be a very safe place; but poor Babcock never afterwards recognized his gifts among the articles that Newman had in daily use. They traveled together through Germany and into Switzerland.
Where for three or four weeks they trudged over passes and lounged upon blue lakes. At last they crossed the Simplon and made their way to Venice. Mr. Babcock had become gloomy and even a trifle irritable; he seemed moody, absent, preoccupied; he got his plans into a tangle, and talked one moment of doing one thing and the next of doing another. The American PDF Book Download
Newman led his usual life, made acquaintances, took his ease in the galleries and churches, spent an unconscionable amount of time in strolling in the Piazza San Marco, bought a great many bad pictures, and for a fortnight enjoyed Venice grossly. One evening, coming back to his inn, he found Babcock waiting for him in the little garden beside it.
The young man walked up to him, looking very dismal, thrust out his hand, and said with solemnity that he was afraid they must part. Newman expressed his surprise and regret, and asked why a parting had become necessary. “Don’t be afraid I’m tired of you,” he said.
Newman gave up Damascus and Bagdad and returned to Paris before the autumn was over. He established himself in some rooms selected for him by Tom Tristram, in accordance with the latter’s estimate of what he called his social position. The American PDF Book Download
When Newman learned that his social position was to be taken into account, he professed himself utterly incompetent, and begged Tristram to relieve him of the care. “I didn’t know I had a social position,” he said, “and if I have, I haven’t the smallest idea what it is.
Isn’t a social position knowing some two or three thousand people and inviting them to dinner? I know you and your wife and little old Mr. Nioche, who gave me French lessons last spring. Can I invite you to dinner to meet each other? If I can, you must come to-morrow.”
“That is not very grateful to me,” said Mrs. Tristram, “who introduced you last year to every creature I know.” “So you did; I had quite forgotten. But I thought you wanted me to forget,” said Newman, with that tone of simple deliberateness which frequently marked his utterance. The American PDF Book Free
And which an observer would not have known whether to pronounce a somewhat mysteriously humorous affection of ignorance or a modest aspiration to knowledge; “you told me you disliked them all.” “Ah, the way you remember what I say is at least very flattering.
But in future,” added Mrs. Tristram, “pray forget all the wicked things and remember only the good ones. It will be easily done, and it will not fatigue your memory. But I forewarn you that if you trust my husband to pick out your rooms, you are in for something hideous.” “Hideous, darling?” cried Tristram.
“To-day I must say nothing wicked; otherwise I should use stronger language.” “What do you think she would say, Newman?” asked Tristram. “If she really tried, now? She can express displeasure, volubly, in two or three languages; that’s what it is to be intellectual.
It gives her the start of me completely, for I can’t swear, for the life of me, except in English. When I get mad I have to fall back on our dear old mother tongue. There’s nothing like it, after all.” A few days after this, one dusky autumn afternoon, he went again to the Rue de l’Université. The American PDF Book Free
The early evening had closed in as he applied for admittance at the stoutly guarded Hôtel de Bellegarde. He was told that Madame de Cintré was at home; he crossed the court, entered the farther door, and was conducted through a vestibule, vast, dim, and cold, up a broad stone staircase with an ancient iron balustrade.
To an apartment on the second floor. Announced and ushered in, he found himself in a sort of paneled boudoir, at one end of which a lady and gentleman were seated before the fire. The gentleman was smoking a cigarette; there was no light in the room save that of a couple of candles and the glow from the hearth.
Both persons rose to welcome Newman, who, in the firelight, recognized Madame de Cintré. She gave him her hand with a smile which seemed in itself an illumination, and, pointing to her companion, said softly, “My brother.” The gentleman offered Newman a frank, friendly greeting. The American PDF Book Free
And our hero then perceived him to be the young man who had spoken to him in the court of the hotel on his former visit and who had struck him as a good fellow. “Mrs. Tristram has spoken to me a great deal of you,” said Madame de Cintré gently, as she resumed her former place.