The American eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 514 pages of information about The American.

“Well then, sir, if you will,” she answered, “you have not seen the last of me!”


Newman was fond of music and went often to the opera.  A couple of evenings after Madame de Bellegarde’s ball he sat listening to “Don Giovanni,” having in honor of this work, which he had never yet seen represented, come to occupy his orchestra-chair before the rising of the curtain.  Frequently he took a large box and invited a party of his compatriots; this was a mode of recreation to which he was much addicted.  He liked making up parties of his friends and conducting them to the theatre, and taking them to drive on high drags or to dine at remote restaurants.  He liked doing things which involved his paying for people; the vulgar truth is that he enjoyed “treating” them.  This was not because he was what is called purse-proud; handling money in public was on the contrary positively disagreeable to him; he had a sort of personal modesty about it, akin to what he would have felt about making a toilet before spectators.  But just as it was a gratification to him to be handsomely dressed, just so it was a private satisfaction to him (he enjoyed it very clandestinely) to have interposed, pecuniarily, in a scheme of pleasure.  To set a large group of people in motion and transport them to a distance, to have special conveyances, to charter railway-carriages and steamboats, harmonized with his relish for bold processes, and made hospitality seem more active and more to the purpose.  A few evenings before the occasion of which I speak he had invited several ladies and gentlemen to the opera to listen to Madame Alboni—­a party which included Miss Dora Finch.  It befell, however, that Miss Dora Finch, sitting near Newman in the box, discoursed brilliantly, not only during the entr’actes, but during many of the finest portions of the performance, so that Newman had really come away with an irritated sense that Madame Alboni had a thin, shrill voice, and that her musical phrase was much garnished with a laugh of the giggling order.  After this he promised himself to go for a while to the opera alone.

When the curtain had fallen upon the first act of “Don Giovanni” he turned round in his place to observe the house.  Presently, in one of the boxes, he perceived Urbain de Bellegarde and his wife.  The little marquise was sweeping the house very busily with a glass, and Newman, supposing that she saw him, determined to go and bid her good evening.  M. de Bellegarde was leaning against a column, motionless, looking straight in front of him, with one hand in the breast of his white waistcoat and the other resting his hat on his thigh.  Newman was about to leave his place when he noticed in that obscure region devoted to the small boxes which in France are called, not inaptly, “bathing-tubs,” a face which even the dim light and the distance could not make wholly indistinct.  It was the face of

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The American from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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