Important Quotations Explained
Newman was silent awhile. "Well, I want a great woman. I stick to that. That's one thing I can treat myself to, and if it's to be had I mean to have it. What else have I toiled and struggled for all these years? I've succeeded, and now what am I to do with my success? To make it perfect, as I see it, there must be a lovely being perched on the pile like some shining statue crowning some high monument...I want, in a word, the best article in the market."
But the moment, and the glance that lived in it, had been sufficient to relieve Newman of the first and last fit of sharp personal embarrassment he was ever to know. He performed the movement frequent with him and which was always a symbol of his taking mental possession of a scene—he extended his long legs. The impression his hostess had made on him at their first meeting came back in an instant; it had been deeper than he knew. She took on a light and a grace, or, more definitely, an interest; he had opened a book and the first lines held his attention.
Madame de Cintré rose quickly and grasped his arm. "Ah Valentin, what do you mean to do?"
"To show Mr Newman the house. It will be very amusing to show Mr Newman the house....It's full of curious things. Besides a visit like Mr Newman's is just what it wants and has never had. It's a rare chance all round."
"You're very wicked, brother," Madame de Cintré insisted.
"There's something in your situation that rubs me up. You're the first man about whom I've ever found myself saying 'Oh, if I were he—!' ... It's a sort of air you have of being imperturbably, being irremovably and indestructibly (that's the thing) at home in the world. When I was a boy my father assured me it was by just such an air that people recognized a Bellegarde. He called my attention to it. He didn't advise me to cultivate it; he said that as we grew up it always came of itself. I supposed it had come to me because I think I've always had the feeling it represents. My place in life had been made for me and it seemed easy to occupy. But you who, as I understand it, have made your own place, you who, as you told us the other day, have made and sold articles of vulgar household use—you strike me, in a fashion of your own, as a man who stands about at his ease and looks straight over ever so many high walls. I seem to see you move everywhere like a big stockholder on his favourite railroad. And yet the world used to be supposed to be ours. What is it I miss?"
He mused a great deal on Madame de Cintré—sometimes with a dull despair that might have seemed a near neighbor to detachment. He lived over again the happiest hours he had known - that silver chain of numbered days... He had yet held in his cheated arms, he felt, the full experience, and when he closed them together round the void that was all they now possessed, he might have been some solitary spare athlete practicing restlessly in the corridor of the circus.
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