Summary and Analysis
Book 7: Chapter III
That same afternoon, Strether meets Maria, who has now just returned to Paris. He reveals that he is convinced that Waymarsh has been in communication with Mrs. Newsome, that Waymarsh has "written to Woollett that I'm in peril of perdition." Strether is not angry at Waymarsh; he is relieved that things have been brought to a head. He tells Maria of Mrs. Newsome's ultimatum and of Chad's agreement to stay as long as he, Strether, remains. Maria is pleased at this development but raises her eyebrows when he tells her that, as a result, the Pococks will come. "Sarah will come to speak for her mother," Strether concludes, but Maria comments that "It's Mamie . . . who'll be their great card."
Two days later, a telegram from Woollett, sent to Chad, announces the immediate departure for France of Sarah, Jim, and Mamie. Strether has not received word from Mrs. Newsome since Waymarsh's warning and concludes that she will not write until Sarah arrives and reports back on him.
He senses that his relationship with Maria is altered, partly because of his newly found self-confidence and partly on account of his other relationships: ". . . the time seemed already far off when he had held out his small thirsty cup to the spout of her pail. Her pail was scarce touched now, and other fountains had flowed for him." Maria seems, to Strether, to have accepted this altered order.
Mrs. Newsome's "presence," which Strether feels to be vivid and importunate, will be intensified by the arrival of her daughter, Sarah Pocock, who is very much her mother's daughter.
Strether's feeling about the changed nature of his and Maria's relationship is significant at this point: It provides a measure of Strether's growth during his European experience and, at the same time, lays the groundwork for his ultimate withdrawal from the possibility of a permanent relationship with Maria at the end of the novel.