Henry James

THE PUPIL

BY HENRY JAMES

* * * * *

LE ROY PHILLIPS

BOSTON

* * * * *

This edition first published 1916

The text follows that of the

Definitive Edition

* * * * *

_Printed in Great Britain_

CHAPTER I

The poor young man hesitated and procrastinated: it cost him such an

effort to broach the subject of terms, to speak of money to a person who

spoke only of feelings and, as it were, of the aristocracy. Yet he was

unwilling to take leave, treating his engagement as settled, without some

more conventional glance in that direction than he could find an opening

for in the manner of the large affable lady who sat there drawing a pair

of soiled gants de Suède through a fat jewelled hand and, at once

pressing and gliding, repeated over and over everything but the thing he

would have liked to hear. He would have liked to hear the figure of his

salary; but just as he was nervously about to sound that note the little

boy came back—the little boy Mrs. Moreen had sent out of the room to

fetch her fan. He came back without the fan, only with the casual

observation that he couldn’t find it. As he dropped this cynical

confession he looked straight and hard at the candidate for the honour of

taking his education in hand. This personage reflected somewhat grimly

that the thing he should have to teach his little charge would be to

appear to address himself to his mother when he spoke to her—especially

not to make her such an improper answer as that.

When Mrs. Moreen bethought herself of this pretext for getting rid of

their companion Pemberton supposed it was precisely to approach the

delicate subject of his remuneration. But it had been only to say some

things about her son that it was better a boy of eleven shouldn’t catch.

They were extravagantly to his advantage save when she lowered her voice

to sigh, tapping her left side familiarly, “And all overclouded by

_this_, you know; all at the mercy of a weakness—!” Pemberton gathered

that the weakness was in the region of the heart. He had known the poor

child was not robust: this was the basis on which he had been invited to

treat, through an English lady, an Oxford acquaintance, then at Nice, who

happened to know both his needs and those of the amiable American family

looking out for something really superior in the way of a resident tutor.

The young man’s impression of his prospective pupil, who had come into

the room as if to see for himself the moment Pemberton was admitted, was

not quite the soft solicitation the visitor had taken for granted.

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