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?"
"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?"
"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?"
"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?"
"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."
"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!"