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University of California Berkeley
Gift of

MR. E. W. NASH



THE REVERBERATOR



THE



REVERBERATOR



BY



HENRY JAMES



Uonfcon
MACMILLAN AND CO.

AND NEW YORK
1888

The Right of Translation and Reproduction is Reserved



Copyright,

1888,
.By HENRY JAMES



THE REVERBERATOR.



i.



"I GUESS my daughter's in here," the old man
said, leading the way into the little salon de
lecture. He was not of the most advanced age,
but that is the way George Flack considered him,
and indeed he looked older than he was. George
Flack had found him sitting in the court of the
hotel (he sat a great deal in the court of the
hotel), and had gone up to him with characteristic
directness and asked him for Miss Francina. Poor
Mr. Dosson had with the greatest docility disposed
himself to wait upon the young man : he had as
a matter of course got up and made his way across
the court, to announce to the personage in question
that she had a visitor. He looked submissive
almost servile, as he preceded the visitor, thrust-
ing his head forward in his quest ; but it was not
e B



THE REVERBERATOR.



in Mr. Flack's line to notice that sort of thing.
He accepted the old gentleman's good offices as
he would have accepted those of a waiter, mur-
muring no protest for the sake of making it
appear that he had come to see him as well. An
observer of these two persons would have assured
himself that the degree to which Mr. Dosson
thought it natural that any one should want to
see his daughter was only equalled by the degree
to which the young man thought it natural her
father should find her for him. There was a
superfluous drapery in the doorway of the salon
de lecture, which Mr. Dosson pushed aside while
George Flack stepped in after him.

The reading-room of the Hotel de 1'Univers
et de Cheltenham was not of great proportions,
and had seemed to Mr. Dosson from the first
to consist principally of a bare, highly-polished
floor, on which it was easy for a relaxed elderly
American to slip. It was composed further, to
his perception, of a table with a green velvet cloth,
of a fireplace with a great deal of fringe and no
fire, of a window with a great deal of curtain and
no light, and of the Figaro, which he couldn't read,
and the New York Herald, which he had already
read. A single person was just now in possession
of these conveniences a young lady who sat with
her back to the window, looking straight before
her into the conventional room. She was dressed
as for the street; her empty hands rested upon



THE KEVERBERATOE.



the arms of her chair (she had withdrawn her
long gloves, which were lying in her lap), and she
seemed to be doing nothing as hard as she could.
Her face was so much in shadow as to be barely
distinguishable ; nevertheless as soon as he saw
her the young man exclaimed "Why, it ain't
Miss Francie it's Miss Delia ! "

"Well, I guess we can fix that," said Mr.
Dosson, wandering further into the room and
drawing his feet over the floor without lifting
them. Whatever he did he ever seemed to
wander : he had a transitory air, an aspect of
weary yet patient non-arrival, even when he sat
(as he was capable of sitting for hours) in the
court of the inn. As he glanced down at the
two newspapers in their desert of green velvet he
raised a hopeless, uninterested glass to his eye.
" Delia, my dear, where is your sister ? "

Delia made no movement whatever, nor did
any expression, so far as could be perceived, pass
over her large young face. She only ejaculated,
" Why, Mr. Flack, where did you drop from ? "

" Well, this is a good place to meet," her father
remarked, as if mildly, and as a mere passing
suggestion, to deprecate explanations.

" Any place is good where one meets old friends,"
said George Flack, looking also at the newspapers.
He examined the date of the American sheet
and then put it down. "Well, how do you like
Paris?" he went on to the young lady.

B 2



THE REVERBERATOR.



"We quite enjoy it; but of course we'ro
familiar now."

" Well, I was in hopes I could show you some-
thing," Mr. Flack said.

" I guess they've seen most everything," Mr.
Dosson observed.

" Well, we've seen more than you ! " exclaimed
his daughter.

"Well, I've seen a good deal just sitting
there."

A person with a delicate ear might have
suspected Mr. Dosson of saying " setting ; " but he
would pronounce the same word in a different
manner at different times.

"Well, in Paris you can see everything," said
the young man. " I'm quite enthusiastic about
Paris."

" Haven't you been here before ? " Miss Delia
asked.

" Oh, yes, but it's ever fresh. And how is Miss
Francie ? "

"She's all right. She has gone up stairs to
get something; we are going out again."

" It's very attractive for the young," said Mr.
Dosson to the visitor.

"Well, then, I'm one of the young. Do you
mind if I go with you ? " Mr. Flack continued,
to the girl.

"It'll seem like old times, on the deck," she
replied. " We're going to the Bon Marche."



THE REVERBERATOR.



" Why don't you go to the Louvre ? It's much
better."

" We have just come from there : we have had
quite a morning."

" Well, it's a good place," the visitor continued.

" It's good for some things but it doesn't come
up to my idea for others."

" Oh, they've seen everything," said Mr. Dosson.
Then he added, " I guess I'll go and call Francie."

"Well, tell her to hurry," Miss Delia returned,
swinging a glove in each hand.

"She knows my pace," Mr. Flack remarked.

" I should think she would, the way you raced ! "
the girl ejaculated, with memories of the Umbria.
"I hope you don't expect to rush round Paris
that way."

" I always rush. I live in a rush. That's the
way to get through."

" Well, I am through, I guess," said Mr. Dosson,
philosophically.

" Well, I ain't ! " his daughter declared, with
decision.

"Well, you must come round often," the old
gentleman continued, as a leave-taking.

" Oh, I'll come round ! I'll have to rush, but
I'll do it."

" I'll send down Francie." And Francie's father
crept away.

" And please to give her some more money ! "
her sister called after him.



6 THE REVERBERATOR.

" Does she keep the money ? " George Flack
inquired.

11 Keep it?" Mr. Dosson stopped as he pushed
aside the porti&re. " Oh, you innocent young
man ! "

" I guess it's the first time you were ever called
innocent," Delia remarked, left alone with the
visitor.

"Well, I was before I came to Paris."

" Well, I can't see that it has hurt us. We are
not extravagant."

" Wouldn't you have a right to be ? "

" I don't think any one has a right to be."

The young man, who had seated himself, looked
at her a moment. " That's the way you used to
talk."

"Well, I haven't changed."

" And Miss Francie has she ? "

" Well, you'll see," said Delia Dosson, beginning
to draw on her gloves.

Her companion watched her, leaning forward
with his elbows on the arms of his chair and his
hands interlocked. At last he said, interrogatively :
" Bon Marche ? "

" No, I got them in a little place I know."

" Well, they're Paris, anyway."

"Of course they're Paris. But you can get
gloves anywhere."

"You must show me the little place, anyhow,"
Mr. Flack continued, sociably. And he observed



THE REVERBERATOR.



further, with the same friendliness " The old
gentleman seems all there."

" Oh, he's the dearest of the dear."

"He's a real gentleman of the old stamp,"
said George Flack.

"Well, what should you think our father
would be ? "

"I should think he would be delighted!"

"Well, he is, when we carry out our plans."

" And what are they your plans ? " asked the
young man.

"Oh, I never tell them."

"How then does he know whether you carry
them out?"

" Well, I guess he'd know it if we didn't," said
the girl.

" I remember how secretive you were last year.
You kept everything to yourself."

"Well, I know what I want," the young lady
pursued.

He watched her button one of her gloves,
deftly, with a hairpin which she disengaged from
some mysterious function under her bonnet. There
was a moment's silence and then they looked up
at each other. "I have an idea you don't want
me," said George Flack.

"Oh, yes, I do as a friend."

" Of all the mean ways of trying to get rid of
a man, that's the meanest ! " he exclaimed.

" Where's the meanness, when I suppose you



THE REVERBERATOR.



are not so peculiar as to wish to be anything
more ! "

"More to your sister, do you mean or to
yourself ? "

" My sister is myself I haven't got any other,"
said Delia Dosson.

"Any other sister?"

''Don't be idiotic. Are you still in the same
business ? " the girl went on.

"Well, I forget which one I was in."

" Why, something to do with that newspaper
don't you remember?"

" Yes, but it isn't that paper any more it's a
different one."

" Do you go round for news in the same way ? "

" Well, I try to get the people what they want.
It's hard work," said the young man.

" Well, I suppose if you didn't some one else
would. They will have it, won't they ? "

"Yes, they will have it." But the wants
of the people did not appear at the present
moment to interest Mr. Flack as much as his
own. He looked at his watch and remarked
that the old gentleman didn't seem- to have much
authority.

" Much authority ? " the girl repeated.

" With Miss Francie. She is taking her time,
or rather, I mean, she is taking mine."

" Well, if you expect to do anything with her
you must give her plenty of that."



THE REVERBERATOR.



" All right : I'll give her all I have." And Miss
Dosson's interlocutor leaned back in his chair
with folded arms, as if to let his companion
know that she would have to count with his
patience. But she sat there in her expressionless
placidity, giving no sign of alarm or defeat. He
was the first indeed to show a symptom of rest-
lessness : at the end of a few moments he asked
the young lady if she didn't suppose her father
had told her sister who it was.

"Do you think that's all that's required?"
Miss Dosson demanded. But she added, more
graciously "Probably that's the reason. She's
so shy."

"Oh, yes she used to look it."

" No, that's her peculiarity, that she never looks
it, and yet she is intensely so."

" Well, you make it up for her then, Miss Delia,"
the young man ventured to declare.

"No, for her, I'm not shy not in the
least."

"If it wasn't for you I think I could do some-
thing," the young man went on.

" Well, you've got to kill me first ! "

" I'll come down on you, somehow, in the
Reverberator," said George Flack.

" Oh, that's not -what the people want."

"No, unfortunately they don't care anything
about my affairs."

" Well, we do : we are kinder, Francie and I,"



10 THE REVERBERATOR.

said the girl. " But we desire to keep them quite
distinct from ours."

" Oh, yours yours : if I could only discover what
they are ! " the young journalist exclaimed. And
during the rest of the time that they sat there
waiting he tried to find out. If an auditor had
happened to be present for the quarter of an hour
that elapsed and had had any attention to give
to these vulgar young persons he would have
wondered perhaps at there being so much mystery
on one side and so much curiosity on the other
wondered at least at the elaboration of inscrutable
projects on the part of a girl who looked to the
casual eye as if she were stolidly passive. Fidelia
Dosson, whose name had been shortened, was
twenty-five years old and had a large white face,
with the eyes very far apart. Her forehead was
high, but her mouth was small : her hair was light
and colourless, and a certain inelegant thickness
of figure made her appear shorter than she was.
Elegance indeed had not been conferred upon
her by Nature, and the Bon Marche and other
establishments had to make up for that. To a
feminine eye they would scarcely have appeared
to have acquitted themselves of their office ; but
even a woman would not have guessed how little
Fidelia cared. She always looked the same; all
the contrivances of Paris could not make her
look different, and she held them, for herself,
in no manner of esteem. It was a plain, blank



THE REVERBERATOR. 11

face, not only without movement, but with a
suggestion of obstinacy in its repose; and yet,
with its limitations, it was neither stupid nor
displeasing. It had an air of intelligent calm
a considering, pondering look that was superior,
somehow, to diffidence or anxiety; moreover, the
girl had a clear skin and a gentle, dim smile.
If she had been a young man (and she had, a
little, the head of one) it would probably have
been thought of her that she nursed dreams of
eminence in some scientific or even political
line.

An observer would have gathered, further, that
Mr. Flack's acquaintance with Mr. Dosson and his
daughters had had its origin in his crossing the
Atlantic eastward in their company more than a
year before and in some slight association imme-
diately after disembarking; but that each party
had come and gone a good deal since then come
and gone however without meeting again. It was
to be inferred that in this interval Miss Dosson
had led her father and sister back to their native
land and had then a second time directed their
course to Europe. This was a new departure,
said Mr. Flack, or rather a new arrival : he under-
stood that it was not, as he called it, the same
old visit. She did not repudiate the accusation,
launched by her companion as if it might have
been embarrassing, of having spent her time at
home in Boston, and even in a suburban portion



12 THE REVERBERATOR.



of it : she confessed that, as Bostonians, they had
been capable of that. But now they had come
abroad for longer ever so much : what they had
gone home for was to make arrangements for a
European sojourn of which the limits were not to
be told. So far as this prospect entered into her
plans she freely acknowledged it. It appeared
to meet with George Flack's approval he also
had a big job on that side and it might take years,
so that it would be pleasant to have his friends
right there. He knew his way about in Paris
or any place like that much more than in Boston ;
if they had been poked away in one of those
clever suburbs they would have been lost to him.
"Oh, well, you'll see as much as you want to
of us the way you'll have to take us," Delia
Dosson said : which led the young man to inquire
what way that was and to remark that he only
knew one way to take anything just as it came.
" Oh, well, you'll see," the girl rejoined ; and she
would give for the present no further explanation
of her somewhat chilling speech. In spite of it,
however, she professed an interest in Mr. Flack's
"job" an interest which rested apparently upon
an interest in the young man himself. The
slightly surprised observer whom we have supposed
to be present would have perceived that this latter
sentiment was founded on a conception of Mr.
Flack's intrinsic brilliancy. Would his own im-
pression have justified that ? would he have



THE REVERBERATOR. 13



found such a conception contagious? I forbear
to say positively no, for that would charge me
with the large responsibility of showing what
right our accidental observer might have had to
his particular standard. I prefer therefore to note
simply that George Flack was quite clever enough
to seem a person of importance to Delia Dosson.
He was connected (as she supposed) with literature,
and was not literature one of the many engaging
attributes of her cherished little sister? If Mr.
Flack was a writer Francie was a reader : had not
a trail of forgotten Tauchnitzes marked the former
line of travel of the party of three ? The elder
sister grabbed them up on leaving hotels and
railway-carriages, but usually found that she had
brought odd volumes. She considered, however,
that as a family they had a sort of superior affinity
with the young journalist, and would have been
surprised if she had been told that his acquaintance
was not a high advantage.

Mr. Flack's appearance was not so much a
property of his own as a prejudice on the part
of those who looked at him : whoever they might
be what they saw mainly in him was that they
had seen him before. And, oddly enough, this
recognition carried with it in general no ability
to remember that is to recall him : you could
not have evoked him in advance, and it was only
when you saw him that you knew you had seen
him. To carry him in your mind you must have



14 THE REVERBERATOR.

liked him very much, for no other sentiment,
not even aversion, would have taught you what
distinguished him in his group : aversion in
especial would have made you conscious only of
what confounded him. He was not a particular
person, but a sample or memento reminding one
of certain "goods" for which there is a steady
popular demand. You would scarcely have
expected him to have a name other than that of
his class : a number, like that of the day's news-
paper, would have been the most that you would
count on, and you would have expected vaguely
to find the number high somewhere up in the
millions. As every copy of the newspaper wears
the same label, so that of Miss Dosson's visitor
would have been " Young commercial American."
Let me add that among the accidents cf his ap-
pearance was that of its sometimes striking other
young commercial Americans as fine. He was
twenty-seven years of age and had a small square
head, a light gray overcoat, and in his right fore-
finger a curious natural crook which might have
served, under pressure, to identify him. But for
the convenience of society he ought always to have
worn something conspicuous a green hat or a
scarlet necktie. His job was to obtain material
in Europe for an American "society-paper."

If it be objected to all this that when Francie
Dosson at last came in she addressed him as if
she easily placed him, the answer is that she had



THE REVERBERATOR. 15



been notified by her father more punctually than
was indicated by the manner of her response.
" Well, the way you do turn up," she said,
smiling and holding out her left hand to him:
in the other hand, or the hollow of her right
arm, she had a largeish parcel. Though she had
made him wait she was evidently very glad to
see him there ; and she as evidently required and
enjoyed a great deal of that sort of indulgence.
Her sister's attitude would have told you so even
if her own appearance had not. There was that
in her manner to the young man a perceptible
but indefinable shade which seemed to legitimate
the oddity of his having asked in particular for
her, as if he wished to see her to the exclusion of
her father and sister: a kind of special pleasure
which had the air of pointing to a special relation.
And yet a spectator, looking from Mr. George Flack
to Miss Francie Dosson, would have been much
at a loss to guess what special relation could exist
between them. The girl was exceedingly, extra-
ordinarily pretty, and without discoverable resem-
blance to her sister; and there was a brightness
in her a kind of still radiance which was quite
distinct from what is called animation. Rather
tall than short, slim, delicate and evidently as
light of hand and of foot as it was possible to be,
she yet gave no impression of quick movement, of
abundant chatter, of excitable nerves and irre-
pressible life no hint of being of the most usual



16 THE REVERBERATOR.



(which is perhaps also the most graceful) American
type. She was brilliantly but quietly pretty,
and your suspicion that she was a little stiff
was corrected only by your perception that she
was extremely soft. There was nothing in her
to confirm the implication that she had rushed
about the deck of a Cunarder with a newspaper-
man. She was as straight as a wand and as fine as
a gem ; her neck was long and her gray eyes had
colour ; and from the ripple of her dark brown hair
to the curve of her unaffirmative chin every line
in her face was happy and pure. She had an
unformed voice and very little knowledge.

Delia got up, and they came out of the little
reading-room this young lady remarking to her
sister that she hoped she had got all the things.
" Well, I had a fiendish hunt for them, we
have got so many," Francie replied, with a curious
soft drawl. "There were a few dozens of the
pocket-handkerchiefs I couldn't find ; but I
guess I've got most of them, and most of the
gloves."

" Well, what are you carting them about for ? "
George Flack inquired, taking the parcel from her.
"You had better let me handle them. Do you
buy pocket-handkerchiefs by the hundred ? "

" Well, it only makes fifty apiece," said Francie,
smiling. " They ain't nice we're going to change
them."

" Oh, I won't be mixed up with that you



THE REVERBERATOR. 17



can't work that game on these Frenchmen ! " the
young man exclaimed.

"Oh, with Francie they will take anything
back," Delia Dosson declared. "They just love
her, all over."

"Well, they're like me then," said Mr. Flack,
with friendly hilarity. "I'll take her back, if
she'll come."

"Well, I don't think I am ready quite yet,"
the girl replied. "But I hope very much we
shall cross with you again."

" Talk about crossing it's on these boulevards
we want a life-preserver ! " Delia remarked. They
had passed out of the hotel and the wide vista
of the Rue de la Paix stretched up and down.
There were many vehicles.

" Won't this thing do ? I'll tie it to either of
you," George Flack said, holding out his bundle.
" I suppose they won't kill you if they love you,"
he went on, to the younger girl.

"Well, you've got to know me first," she
answered, laughing and looking for a chance,
while they waited to pass over.

"I didn't know you when I was struck." He
applied his disengaged hand to her elbow and
propelled her across the street. She took no notice
of his observation, and Delia asked her, on the
other side, whether their father had given her
that money. She replied that he had given her
loads she felt as if he had made his will ; which

c



18 THE REVERBERATOR

led George Flack to say that he wished the old
gentleman was his father.

"Why, you don't mean to say you want to be
our brother !" Francie exclaimed, as they went
down the Eue de la Paix.

" I should like to be Miss Delia's, if you can
make that out," said the young man.

" Well, then, suppose you prove it by calling
me a cab," Miss Delia returned. " I presume you
and Francie don't think this is the deck."

" Don't she feel rich ? " George Flack demanded
of Francie. " But we do require a cart for our
goods;" and he hailed a little yellow carriage,
which presently drew up beside the pavement.
The three got into it and, still emitting innocent
pleasantries, proceeded on their way, while at the
Hotel de 1'Univers et de Cheltenham Mr. Dosson
wandered down into the court again and took his
place in his customary chair.



II.



THE court was roofed with glass ; the April air
was mild ; the cry of women selling violets came
in from the street and, mingling with the rich
hum of Paris, seemed to bring with it faintly the
odour of the flowers. There were other odours
in the place, warm, succulent and Parisian, which
ranged from fried fish to burnt sugar ; and there
were many things besides : little tables for the
post-prandial coffee; piles of luggage inscribed
(after the initials, or frequently the name, R. P.
Scudamore or D. Jackson Hatch), Philadelphia,
Pa., or St. Louis, Mo. ; rattles of unregarded bells,
Sittings of tray -bearing waiters, conversations
with the second-floor windows of admonitory
landladies, arrivals of young women with coffin-
like bandboxes covered with black oilcloth and
depending from a strap, sallyings forth of persons
staying and arrivals, just afterwards, of other
persons to see them ; together with vague prostra-
tions on benches of tired heads of American

c 2



20 THE REVERBERATOR.

families. It was to this last element that Mr.
Dosson himself in some degree contributed, but
it must be added that he had not the extremely
bereft and exhausted appearance of certain of his
fellows. There was an air of meditative patience,
of habitual accommodation in him ; but you would
have guessed that he was enjoying a holiday
rather than panting for a truce, and he was not
so enfeebled but that he was able to get up from
time to time and stroll through the porte cochtre
to have a look at the street.

He gazed up and down for five minutes, with
his hands in his pockets, and then came back;


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