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The Beast in the Jungle by Henry James
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THE BEAST IN THE JUNGLE


CHAPTER I


What determined the speech that startled him in the course of their
encounter scarcely matters, being probably but some words spoken by
himself quite without intention--spoken as they lingered and slowly moved
together after their renewal of acquaintance. He had been conveyed by
friends an hour or two before to the house at which she was staying; the
party of visitors at the other house, of whom he was one, and thanks to
whom it was his theory, as always, that he was lost in the crowd, had
been invited over to luncheon. There had been after luncheon much
dispersal, all in the interest of the original motive, a view of
Weatherend itself and the fine things, intrinsic features, pictures,
heirlooms, treasures of all the arts, that made the place almost famous;
and the great rooms were so numerous that guests could wander at their
will, hang back from the principal group and in cases where they took
such matters with the last seriousness give themselves up to mysterious
appreciations and measurements. There were persons to be observed,
singly or in couples, bending toward objects in out-of-the-way corners
with their hands on their knees and their heads nodding quite as with the
emphasis of an excited sense of smell. When they were two they either
mingled their sounds of ecstasy or melted into silences of even deeper
import, so that there were aspects of the occasion that gave it for
Marcher much the air of the "look round," previous to a sale highly
advertised, that excites or quenches, as may be, the dream of
acquisition. The dream of acquisition at Weatherend would have had to be
wild indeed, and John Marcher found himself, among such suggestions,