Four Meetings

Henry James
Four Meetings, by Henry James

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Title: Four Meetings
Author: Henry James
Release Date: June 8, 2007 [EBook #21773]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

Produced by David Widger

By Henry James
I saw her only four times, but I remember them vividly; she made an

impression upon me. I thought her very pretty and very interesting,--a
charming specimen of a type. I am very sorry to hear of her death; and
yet, when I think of it, why should I be sorry? The last time I saw her
she was certainly not--But I will describe all our meetings in order.

The first one took place in the country, at a little tea-party, one snowy
night. It must have been some seventeen years ago. My friend Latouche,
going to spend Christmas with his mother, had persuaded me to go with
him, and the good lady had given in our honor the entertainment of
which I speak. To me it was really entertaining; I had never been in the
depths of New England at that season. It had been snowing all day, and
the drifts were knee-high. I wondered how the ladies had made their
way to the house; but I perceived that at Grimwinter a conversazione
offering the attraction of two gentlemen from New York was felt to be
worth an effort.
Mrs. Latouche, in the course of the evening, asked me if I "did n't want
to" show the photographs to some of the young ladies. The photographs
were in a couple of great portfolios, and had been brought home by her
son, who, like myself, was lately returned from Europe. I looked round
and was struck with the fact that most of the young ladies were
provided with an object of interest more absorbing than the most vivid
sun-picture. But there was a person standing alone near the mantelshelf,
and looking round the room with a small gentle smile which seemed at
odds, somehow, with her isolation. I looked at her a moment, and then
said, "I should like to show them to that young lady."
"Oh, yes," said Mrs. Latouche, "she is just the person. She doesn't care
for flirting; I will speak to her."
I rejoined that if she did not care for flirting, she was, perhaps, not just
the person; but Mrs. Latouche had already gone to propose the
photographs to her.

"She's delighted," she said, coming back. "She is just the person, so
quiet and so bright." And then she told me the young lady was, by
name, Miss Caroline Spencer, and with this she introduced me.
Miss Caroline Spencer was not exactly a beauty, but she was a
charming little figure. She must have been close upon thirty, but she
was made almost like a little girl, and she had the complexion of a child.
She had a very pretty head, and her hair was arranged as nearly as
possible like the hair of a Greek bust, though indeed it was to be
doubted if she had ever seen a Greek bust. She was "artistic," I
suspected, so far as Grimwinter allowed such tendencies. She had a soft,
surprised eye, and thin lips, with very pretty teeth. Round her neck she
wore what ladies call, I believe, a "ruche," fastened with a very small
pin in pink coral, and in her hand she carried a fan made of plaited
straw and adorned with pink ribbon. She wore a scanty black silk dress.
She spoke with a kind of soft precision, showing her white teeth
between her narrow but tender-looking lips, and she seemed extremely
pleased, even a little fluttered, at the prospect of my demonstrations.
These went forward very smoothly, after I had moved the portfolios out
of their corner and placed a couple of chairs near a lamp. The
photographs were usually things I knew,--large views of Switzerland,
Italy, and Spain, landscapes, copies of famous buildings, pictures, and
statues. I said what I could about them, and my companion, looking at
them as I held them up, sat perfectly still, with her straw fan raised to
her underlip. Occasionally, as I laid one of the pictures down, she said
very softly, "Have you seen that place?" I usually answered that I had
seen it several times (I had been a great traveller), and then I felt that
she looked at me askance for
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