Author: Henry James
Release Date: May 8, 2005 [eBook #2534]
Character set encoding: ISO-646-us (us-ASCII)
***Start of the project gutenberg EBOOK Eugene Pickering***
Transcribed from the 1887 Macmillan and Co. edition of “The Madonna of the Future et al.” by David Price, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Proofed by Vanessa M. Mosher, Faith Matievich and Jonesey.
It was at Homburg, several years ago, before the gaming had been suppressed. The evening was very warm, and all the world was gathered on the terrace of the Kursaal and the esplanade below it to listen to the excellent orchestra; or half the world, rather, for the crowd was equally dense in the gaming-rooms around the tables. Everywhere the crowd was great. The night was perfect, the season was at its height, the open windows of the Kursaal sent long shafts of unnatural light into the dusky woods, and now and then, in the intervals of the music, one might almost hear the clink of the napoleons and the metallic call of the croupiers rise above the watching silence of the saloons. I had been strolling with a friend, and we at last prepared to sit down. Chairs, however, were scarce. I had captured one, but it seemed no easy matter to find a mate for it. I was on the point of giving up in despair, and proposing an adjournment to the silken ottomans of the Kursaal, when I observed a young man lounging back on one of the objects of my quest, with his feet supported on the rounds of another. This was more than his share of luxury, and I promptly approached him. He evidently belonged to the race which has the credit of knowing best, at home and abroad, how to make itself comfortable; but something in his appearance suggested that his present attitude was the result of inadvertence rather than of egotism. He was staring at the conductor of the orchestra and listening intently to the music. His hands were locked round his long legs, and his mouth was half open, with rather a foolish air. “There are so few chairs,” I said, “that I must beg you to surrender this second one.” He started, stared, blushed, pushed the chair away with awkward alacrity, and murmured something about not having noticed that he had it.
“What an odd-looking youth!” said my companion, who had watched me, as I seated myself beside her.