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The American by Henry James
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by Henry James



On a brilliant day in May, in the year 1868, a gentleman was reclining
at his ease on the great circular divan which at that period occupied
the centre of the Salon Carre, in the Museum of the Louvre. This
commodious ottoman has since been removed, to the extreme regret of all
weak-kneed lovers of the fine arts, but the gentleman in question had
taken serene possession of its softest spot, and, with his head thrown
back and his legs outstretched, was staring at Murillo's beautiful
moon-borne Madonna in profound enjoyment of his posture. He had removed
his hat, and flung down beside him a little red guide-book and an
opera-glass. The day was warm; he was heated with walking, and he
repeatedly passed his handkerchief over his forehead, with a somewhat
wearied gesture. And yet he was evidently not a man to whom fatigue was
familiar; long, lean, and muscular, he suggested the sort of vigor that
is commonly known as "toughness." But his exertions on this particular
day had been of an unwonted sort, and he had performed great physical
feats which left him less jaded than his tranquil stroll through the
Louvre. He had looked out all the pictures to which an asterisk was
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