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Chapter 2

  • He wandered back to the divan and seated himself on the other side, in view o_he great canvas on which Paul Veronese had depicted the marriage-feast o_ana. Wearied as he was he found the picture entertaining; it had an illusio_or him; it satisfied his conception, which was ambitious, of what a splendi_anquet should be. In the left-hand corner of the picture is a young woma_ith yellow tresses confined in a golden head-dress; she is bending forwar_nd listening, with the smile of a charming woman at a dinner-party, to he_eighbor. Newman detected her in the crowd, admired her, and perceived tha_he too had her votive copyist—a young man with his hair standing on end.
  • Suddenly he became conscious of the germ of the mania of the "collector;" h_ad taken the first step; why should he not go on? It was only twenty minute_efore that he had bought the first picture of his life, and now he wa_lready thinking of art-patronage as a fascinating pursuit. His reflection_uickened his good-humor, and he was on the point of approaching the young ma_ith another "Combien?" Two or three facts in this relation are noticeable, although the logical chain which connects them may seem imperfect. He kne_ademoiselle Nioche had asked too much; he bore her no grudge for doing so, and he was determined to pay the young man exactly the proper sum. At thi_oment, however, his attention was attracted by a gentleman who had come fro_nother part of the room and whose manner was that of a stranger to th_allery, although he was equipped with neither guide-book nor opera-glass. H_arried a white sun-umbrella, lined with blue silk, and he strolled in fron_f the Paul Veronese, vaguely looking at it, but much too near to see anythin_ut the grain of the canvas. Opposite to Christopher Newman he paused an_urned, and then our friend, who had been observing him, had a chance t_erify a suspicion aroused by an imperfect view of his face. The result o_his larger scrutiny was that he presently sprang to his feet, strode acros_he room, and, with an outstretched hand, arrested the gentleman with th_lue-lined umbrella. The latter stared, but put out his hand at a venture. H_as corpulent and rosy, and though his countenance, which was ornamented wit_ beautiful flaxen beard, carefully divided in the middle and brushed outwar_t the sides, was not remarkable for intensity of expression, he looked like _erson who would willingly shake hands with any one. I know not what Newma_hought of his face, but he found a want of response in his grasp.
  • "Oh, come, come," he said, laughing; "don't say, now, you don't know me—if _ave NOT got a white parasol!"
  • The sound of his voice quickened the other's memory, his face expanded to it_ullest capacity, and he also broke into a laugh. "Why, Newman—I'll be blowed!
  • Where in the world—I declare—who would have thought? You know you hav_hanged."
  • "You haven't!" said Newman.
  • "Not for the better, no doubt. When did you get here?"
  • "Three days ago."
  • "Why didn't you let me know?"
  • "I had no idea YOU were here."
  • "I have been here these six years."
  • "It must be eight or nine since we met."
  • "Something of that sort. We were very young."
  • "It was in St. Louis, during the war. You were in the army."
  • "Oh no, not I! But you were."
  • "I believe I was."
  • "You came out all right?"
  • "I came out with my legs and arms—and with satisfaction. All that seems ver_ar away."
  • "And how long have you been in Europe?"
  • "Seventeen days."
  • "First time?"
  • "Yes, very much so."
  • "Made your everlasting fortune?"
  • Christopher Newman was silent a moment, and then with a tranquil smile h_nswered, "Yes."
  • "And come to Paris to spend it, eh?"
  • "Well, we shall see. So they carry those parasols here—the menfolk?"
  • "Of course they do. They're great things. They understand comfort out here."
  • "Where do you buy them?"
  • "Anywhere, everywhere."
  • "Well, Tristram, I'm glad to get hold of you. You can show me the ropes. _uppose you know Paris inside out."
  • Mr. Tristram gave a mellow smile of self-gratulation. "Well, I guess there ar_ot many men that can show me much. I'll take care of you."
  • "It's a pity you were not here a few minutes ago. I have just bought _icture. You might have put the thing through for me."
  • "Bought a picture?" said Mr. Tristram, looking vaguely round at the walls.
  • "Why, do they sell them?"
  • "I mean a copy."
  • "Oh, I see. These," said Mr. Tristram, nodding at the Titians and Vandykes,
  • "these, I suppose, are originals."
  • "I hope so," cried Newman. "I don't want a copy of a copy."
  • "Ah," said Mr. Tristram, mysteriously, "you can never tell. They imitate, yo_now, so deucedly well. It's like the jewelers, with their false stones. G_nto the Palais Royal, there; you see 'Imitation' on half the windows. The la_bliges them to stick it on, you know; but you can't tell the things apart. T_ell the truth," Mr. Tristram continued, with a wry face, "I don't do much i_ictures. I leave that to my wife."
  • "Ah, you have got a wife?"
  • "Didn't I mention it? She's a very nice woman; you must know her. She's u_here in the Avenue d'Iena."
  • "So you are regularly fixed—house and children and all."
  • "Yes, a tip-top house and a couple of youngsters."
  • "Well," said Christopher Newman, stretching his arms a little, with a sigh, "_nvy you."
  • "Oh no! you don't!" answered Mr. Tristram, giving him a little poke with hi_arasol.
  • "I beg your pardon; I do!"
  • "Well, you won't, then, when—when—"
  • "You don't certainly mean when I have seen your establishment?"
  • "When you have seen Paris, my boy. You want to be your own master here."
  • "Oh, I have been my own master all my life, and I'm tired of it."
  • "Well, try Paris. How old are you?"
  • "Thirty-six."
  • "C'est le bel age, as they say here."
  • "What does that mean?"
  • "It means that a man shouldn't send away his plate till he has eaten hi_ill."
  • "All that? I have just made arrangements to take French lessons."
  • "Oh, you don't want any lessons. You'll pick it up. I never took any."
  • "I suppose you speak French as well as English?"
  • "Better!" said Mr. Tristram, roundly. "It's a splendid language. You can sa_ll sorts of bright things in it."
  • "But I suppose," said Christopher Newman, with an earnest desire fo_nformation, "that you must be bright to begin with."
  • "Not a bit; that's just the beauty of it."
  • The two friends, as they exchanged these remarks, had remained standing wher_hey met, and leaning against the rail which protected the pictures. Mr.
  • Tristram at last declared that he was overcome with fatigue and should b_appy to sit down. Newman recommended in the highest terms the great divan o_hich he had been lounging, and they prepared to seat themselves. "This is _reat place; isn't it?" said Newman, with ardor.
  • "Great place, great place. Finest thing in the world." And then, suddenly, Mr.
  • Tristram hesitated and looked about him. "I suppose they won't let you smok_ere."
  • Newman stared. "Smoke? I'm sure I don't know. You know the regulations bette_han I."
  • "I? I never was here before!"
  • "Never! in six years?"
  • "I believe my wife dragged me here once when we first came to Paris, but _ever found my way back."
  • "But you say you know Paris so well!"
  • "I don't call this Paris!" cried Mr. Tristram, with assurance. "Come; let's g_ver to the Palais Royal and have a smoke."
  • "I don't smoke," said Newman.
  • "A drink, then."
  • And Mr. Tristram led his companion away. They passed through the gloriou_alls of the Louvre, down the staircases, along the cool, dim galleries o_culpture, and out into the enormous court. Newman looked about him as h_ent, but he made no comments, and it was only when they at last emerged int_he open air that he said to his friend, "It seems to me that in your place _hould have come here once a week."
  • "Oh, no you wouldn't!" said Mr. Tristram. "You think so, but you wouldn't. Yo_ouldn't have had time. You would always mean to go, but you never would go.
  • There's better fun than that, here in Paris. Italy's the place to se_ictures; wait till you get there. There you have to go; you can't do anythin_lse. It's an awful country; you can't get a decent cigar. I don't know why _ent in there, to-day; I was strolling along, rather hard up for amusement. _ort of noticed the Louvre as I passed, and I thought I would go in and se_hat was going on. But if I hadn't found you there I should have felt rathe_old. Hang it, I don't care for pictures; I prefer the reality!" And Mr.
  • Tristram tossed off this happy formula with an assurance which the numerou_lass of persons suffering from an overdose of "culture" might have envie_im.
  • The two gentlemen proceeded along the Rue de Rivoli and into the Palais Royal, where they seated themselves at one of the little tables stationed at the doo_f the cafe which projects into the great open quadrangle. The place wa_illed with people, the fountains were spouting, a band was playing, cluster_f chairs were gathered beneath all the lime-trees, and buxom, white-cappe_urses, seated along the benches, were offering to their infant charges th_mplest facilities for nutrition. There was an easy, homely gayety in th_hole scene, and Christopher Newman felt that it was most characteristicall_arisian.
  • "And now," began Mr. Tristram, when they had tested the decoction which he ha_aused to be served to them, "now just give an account of yourself. What ar_our ideas, what are your plans, where have you come from and where are yo_oing? In the first place, where are you staying?"
  • "At the Grand Hotel," said Newman.
  • Mr. Tristram puckered his plump visage. "That won't do! You must change."
  • "Change?" demanded Newman. "Why, it's the finest hotel I ever was in."
  • "You don't want a 'fine' hotel; you want something small and quiet an_legant, where your bell is answered and you—your person is recognized."
  • "They keep running to see if I have rung before I have touched the bell," sai_ewman "and as for my person they are always bowing and scraping to it."
  • "I suppose you are always tipping them. That's very bad style."
  • "Always? By no means. A man brought me something yesterday, and then stoo_oafing in a beggarly manner. I offered him a chair and asked him if h_ouldn't sit down. Was that bad style?"
  • "Very!"
  • "But he bolted, instantly. At any rate, the place amuses me. Hang you_legance, if it bores me. I sat in the court of the Grand Hotel last nigh_ntil two o'clock in the morning, watching the coming and going, and th_eople knocking about."
  • "You're easily pleased. But you can do as you choose—a man in your shoes. Yo_ave made a pile of money, eh?"
  • "I have made enough"
  • "Happy the man who can say that? Enough for what?"
  • "Enough to rest awhile, to forget the confounded thing, to look about me, t_ee the world, to have a good time, to improve my mind, and, if the fanc_akes me, to marry a wife." Newman spoke slowly, with a certain dryness o_ccent and with frequent pauses. This was his habitual mode of utterance, bu_t was especially marked in the words I have just quoted.
  • "Jupiter! There's a programme!" cried Mr. Tristram. "Certainly, all that take_oney, especially the wife; unless indeed she gives it, as mine did. An_hat's the story? How have you done it?"
  • Newman had pushed his hat back from his forehead, folded his arms, an_tretched his legs. He listened to the music, he looked about him at th_ustling crowd, at the plashing fountains, at the nurses and the babies. "_ave worked!" he answered at last.
  • Tristram looked at him for some moments, and allowed his placid eyes t_easure his friend's generous longitude and rest upon his comfortabl_ontemplative face. "What have you worked at?" he asked.
  • "Oh, at several things."
  • "I suppose you're a smart fellow, eh?"
  • Newman continued to look at the nurses and babies; they imparted to the scen_ kind of primordial, pastoral simplicity. "Yes," he said at last, "I suppos_ am." And then, in answer to his companion's inquiries, he related briefl_is history since their last meeting. It was an intensely Western story, an_t dealt with enterprises which it will be needless to introduce to the reade_n detail. Newman had come out of the war with a brevet of brigadier-general, an honor which in this case—without invidious comparisons—had lighted upo_houlders amply competent to bear it. But though he could manage a fight, whe_eed was, Newman heartily disliked the business; his four years in the arm_ad left him with an angry, bitter sense of the waste of precious things—lif_nd time and money and "smartness" and the early freshness of purpose; and h_ad addressed himself to the pursuits of peace with passionate zest an_nergy. He was of course as penniless when he plucked off his shoulder-strap_s when he put them on, and the only capital at his disposal was his dogge_esolution and his lively perception of ends and means. Exertion and actio_ere as natural to him as respiration; a more completely healthy mortal ha_ever trod the elastic soil of the West. His experience, moreover, was as wid_s his capacity; when he was fourteen years old, necessity had taken him b_is slim young shoulders and pushed him into the street, to earn that night'_upper. He had not earned it but he had earned the next night's, an_fterwards, whenever he had had none, it was because he had gone without it t_se the money for something else, a keener pleasure or a finer profit. He ha_urned his hand, with his brain in it, to many things; he had bee_nterprising, in an eminent sense of the term; he had been adventurous an_ven reckless, and he had known bitter failure as well as brilliant success; but he was a born experimentalist, and he had always found something to enjo_n the pressure of necessity, even when it was as irritating as the hairclot_hirt of the mediaeval monk. At one time failure seemed inexorably hi_ortion; ill-luck became his bed-fellow, and whatever he touched he turned, not to gold, but to ashes. His most vivid conception of a supernatural elemen_n the world's affairs had come to him once when this pertinacity o_isfortune was at its climax; there seemed to him something stronger in lif_han his own will. But the mysterious something could only be the devil, an_e was accordingly seized with an intense personal enmity to this impertinen_orce. He had known what it was to have utterly exhausted his credit, to b_nable to raise a dollar, and to find himself at nightfall in a strange city, without a penny to mitigate its strangeness. It was under these circumstance_hat he made his entrance into San Francisco, the scene, subsequently, of hi_appiest strokes of fortune. If he did not, like Dr. Franklin in Philadelphia, march along the street munching a penny-loaf, it was only because he had no_he penny-loaf necessary to the performance. In his darkest days he had ha_ut one simple, practical impulse—the desire, as he would have phrased it, t_ee the thing through. He did so at last, buffeted his way into smooth waters, and made money largely. It must be admitted, rather nakedly, that Christophe_ewman's sole aim in life had been to make money; what he had been placed i_he world for was, to his own perception, simply to wrest a fortune, th_igger the better, from defiant opportunity. This idea completely filled hi_orizon and satisfied his imagination. Upon the uses of money, upon what on_ight do with a life into which one had succeeded in injecting the golde_tream, he had up to his thirty-fifth year very scantily reflected. Life ha_een for him an open game, and he had played for high stakes. He had won a_ast and carried off his winnings; and now what was he to do with them? He wa_ man to whom, sooner or later, the question was sure to present itself, an_he answer to it belongs to our story. A vague sense that more answers wer_ossible than his philosophy had hitherto dreamt of had already take_ossession of him, and it seemed softly and agreeably to deepen as he lounge_n this brilliant corner of Paris with his friend.
  • "I must confess," he presently went on, "that here I don't feel at all smart.
  • My remarkable talents seem of no use. I feel as simple as a little child, an_ little child might take me by the hand and lead me about."
  • "Oh, I'll be your little child," said Tristram, jovially; "I'll take you b_he hand. Trust yourself to me."
  • "I am a good worker," Newman continued, "but I rather think I am a poo_oafer. I have come abroad to amuse myself, but I doubt whether I know how."
  • "Oh, that's easily learned."
  • "Well, I may perhaps learn it, but I am afraid I shall never do it by rote. _ave the best will in the world about it, but my genius doesn't lie in tha_irection. As a loafer I shall never be original, as I take it that you are."
  • "Yes," said Tristram, "I suppose I am original; like all those immora_ictures in the Louvre."
  • "Besides," Newman continued, "I don't want to work at pleasure, any more tha_ played at work. I want to take it easily. I feel deliciously lazy, and _hould like to spend six months as I am now, sitting under a tree an_istening to a band. There's only one thing; I want to hear some good music."
  • "Music and pictures! Lord, what refined tastes! You are what my wife call_ntellectual. I ain't, a bit. But we can find something better for you to d_han to sit under a tree. To begin with, you must come to the club."
  • "What club?"
  • "The Occidental. You will see all the Americans there; all the best of them, at least. Of course you play poker?"
  • "Oh, I say," cried Newman, with energy, "you are not going to lock me up in _lub and stick me down at a card-table! I haven't come all this way for that."
  • "What the deuce HAVE you come for! You were glad enough to play poker in St.
  • Louis, I recollect, when you cleaned me out."
  • "I have come to see Europe, to get the best out of it I can. I want to see al_he great things, and do what the clever people do."
  • "The clever people? Much obliged. You set me down as a blockhead, then?"
  • Newman was sitting sidewise in his chair, with his elbow on the back and hi_ead leaning on his hand. Without moving he looked a while at his companio_ith his dry, guarded, half-inscrutable, and yet altogether good-nature_mile. "Introduce me to your wife!" he said at last.
  • Tristram bounced about in his chair. "Upon my word, I won't. She doesn't wan_ny help to turn up her nose at me, nor do you, either!"
  • "I don't turn up my nose at you, my dear fellow; nor at any one, or anything.
  • I'm not proud, I assure you I'm not proud. That's why I am willing to tak_xample by the clever people."
  • "Well, if I'm not the rose, as they say here, I have lived near it. I can sho_ou some clever people, too. Do you know General Packard? Do you know C. P.
  • Hatch? Do you know Miss Kitty Upjohn?"
  • "I shall be happy to make their acquaintance; I want to cultivate society."
  • Tristram seemed restless and suspicious; he eyed his friend askance, and then,
  • "What are you up to, any way?" he demanded. "Are you going to write a book?"
  • Christopher Newman twisted one end of his mustache a while, in silence, and a_ast he made answer. "One day, a couple of months ago, something very curiou_appened to me. I had come on to New York on some important business; it wa_ather a long story—a question of getting ahead of another party, in a certai_articular way, in the stock-market. This other party had once played me _ery mean trick. I owed him a grudge, I felt awfully savage at the time, and _owed that, when I got a chance, I would, figuratively speaking, put his nos_ut of joint. There was a matter of some sixty thousand dollars at stake. If _ut it out of his way, it was a blow the fellow would feel, and he reall_eserved no quarter. I jumped into a hack and went about my business, and i_as in this hack—this immortal, historical hack—that the curious thing I spea_f occurred. It was a hack like any other, only a trifle dirtier, with _reasy line along the top of the drab cushions, as if it had been used for _reat many Irish funerals. It is possible I took a nap; I had been travelin_ll night, and though I was excited with my errand, I felt the want of sleep.
  • At all events I woke up suddenly, from a sleep or from a kind of a reverie, with the most extraordinary feeling in the world—a mortal disgust for th_hing I was going to do. It came upon me like THAT!" and he snapped hi_ingers—"as abruptly as an old wound that begins to ache. I couldn't tell th_eaning of it; I only felt that I loathed the whole business and wanted t_ash my hands of it. The idea of losing that sixty thousand dollars, o_etting it utterly slide and scuttle and never hearing of it again, seemed th_weetest thing in the world. And all this took place quite independently of m_ill, and I sat watching it as if it were a play at the theatre. I could fee_t going on inside of me. You may depend upon it that there are things goin_n inside of us that we understand mighty little about."
  • "Jupiter! you make my flesh creep!" cried Tristram. "And while you sat in you_ack, watching the play, as you call it, the other man marched in and bagge_our sixty thousand dollars?"
  • "I have not the least idea. I hope so, poor devil! but I never found out. W_ulled up in front of the place I was going to in Wall Street, but I sat stil_n the carriage, and at last the driver scrambled down off his seat to se_hether his carriage had not turned into a hearse. I couldn't have got out, any more than if I had been a corpse. What was the matter with me? Momentar_diocy, you'll say. What I wanted to get out of was Wall Street. I told th_an to drive down to the Brooklyn ferry and to cross over. When we were over, I told him to drive me out into the country. As I had told him originally t_rive for dear life down town, I suppose he thought me insane. Perhaps I was, but in that case I am insane still. I spent the morning looking at the firs_reen leaves on Long Island. I was sick of business; I wanted to throw it al_p and break off short; I had money enough, or if I hadn't I ought to have. _eemed to feel a new man inside my old skin, and I longed for a new world.
  • When you want a thing so very badly you had better treat yourself to it. _idn't understand the matter, not in the least; but I gave the old horse th_ridle and let him find his way. As soon as I could get out of the game _ailed for Europe. That is how I come to be sitting here."
  • "You ought to have bought up that hack," said Tristram; "it isn't a saf_ehicle to have about. And you have really sold out, then; you have retire_rom business?"
  • "I have made over my hand to a friend; when I feel disposed, I can take up th_ards again. I dare say that a twelvemonth hence the operation will b_eversed. The pendulum will swing back again. I shall be sitting in a gondol_r on a dromedary, and all of a sudden I shall want to clear out. But for th_resent I am perfectly free. I have even bargained that I am to receive n_usiness letters."
  • "Oh, it's a real caprice de prince," said Tristram. "I back out; a poor devi_ike me can't help you to spend such very magnificent leisure as that. Yo_hould get introduced to the crowned heads."
  • Newman looked at him a moment, and then, with his easy smile, "How does one d_t?" he asked.
  • "Come, I like that!" cried Tristram. "It shows you are in earnest."
  • "Of course I am in earnest. Didn't I say I wanted the best? I know the bes_an't be had for mere money, but I rather think money will do a good deal. I_ddition, I am willing to take a good deal of trouble."
  • "You are not bashful, eh?"
  • "I haven't the least idea. I want the biggest kind of entertainment a man ca_et. People, places, art, nature, everything! I want to see the talles_ountains, and the bluest lakes, and the finest pictures and the handsomes_hurches, and the most celebrated men, and the most beautiful women."
  • "Settle down in Paris, then. There are no mountains that I know of, and th_nly lake is in the Bois du Boulogne, and not particularly blue. But there i_verything else: plenty of pictures and churches, no end of celebrated men, and several beautiful women."
  • "But I can't settle down in Paris at this season, just as summer is comin_n."
  • "Oh, for the summer go up to Trouville."
  • "What is Trouville?"
  • "The French Newport. Half the Americans go."
  • "Is it anywhere near the Alps?"
  • "About as near as Newport is to the Rocky Mountains."
  • "Oh, I want to see Mont Blanc," said Newman, "and Amsterdam, and the Rhine, and a lot of places. Venice in particular. I have great ideas about Venice."
  • "Ah," said Mr. Tristram, rising, "I see I shall have to introduce you to m_ife!"