The Ambassadors By Henry James Summary and Analysis Book 8: Chapter I

Summary

Not desiring the company of Waymarsh, Strether "rambled alone" in and about Paris. He had given Waymarsh the opportunity to confess that he was somehow involved with "Mrs. Newsome's summons," but Waymarsh declined to say anything. Chad is out of town, and Strether, with time on his hands, visits Chartres, Fontainebleau, and Rouen. One afternoon, "finding himself in the neighborhood" and worried about the effect Sarah Pocock's coming would have on his life, he decides to call on Madame de Vionnet. She, however, is not in Paris, and this fact "produced for poor Strether a drop of all confidence." This gloomy posture does not stay with Strether; indeed, he begins to anticipate the coming of Sarah with lighter feelings.

The day the Pococks are to arrive in Paris from Havre, Chad and Strether go to the railroad station to meet them. Strether has told Chad his suspicions that Waymarsh precipitated the coming of the Pococks and insists that Sarah and Waymarsh will get along well. He adds, "I feel like the outgoing ambassador . . . doing honour to his appointed successor."

Later, Strether asks Chad if he plans to introduce Sarah to Madame de Vionnet, to which Chad replies, "Why, isn't that exactly — to get a sight of the company I keep — what she has come out for?" As they discuss the possible effect of Madame de Vionnet on Sarah, the two men decide it all comes to the question of Sarah's being "bribeable," but Strether feels she will come with resolved purpose. Chad wishes to know if Strether will introduce Miss Gostrey to Sarah, but he says he won't, explaining that though he has told Mrs. Newsome of Maria, he doesn't know if Sarah has been informed. Chad suggests that Mrs. Newsome will have told Sarah and asks if Strether doesn't want "to show her there's nothing in it." Strether says he doesn't care what Sarah thinks and appears to be bewildered by what Mrs. Newsome may think.

Analysis

Although Strether is now aware that it is Madame de Vionnet with whom Chad is allied, he still believes their attachment to be a virtuous one and sees no special significance in the fact that Chad and the lady are both absent from Paris at the same time.

Chartres and Rouen are famous for their Gothic cathedrals; Fontainebleau is noted for its celebrated Renaissance palace. All are within one hundred miles of Paris.

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