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The Aspern Papers - Henry James

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The text is that of the first American book edition, Macmillan and Co., 1888.


                    THE ASPERN PAPERS


                            I


I had taken Mrs. Prest into my confidence; in truth without
her I should have made but little advance, for the fruitful
idea in the whole business dropped from her friendly lips.
It was she who invented the short cut, who severed the Gordian knot.
It is not supposed to be the nature of women to rise as a general thing
to the largest and most liberal view--I mean of a practical scheme;
but it has struck me that they sometimes throw off a bold conception--
such as a man would not have risen to--with singular serenity.
"Simply ask them to take you in on the footing of a lodger"--
I don't think that unaided I should have risen to that.
I was beating about the bush, trying to be ingenious, wondering by
what combination of arts I might become an acquaintance, when she
offered this happy suggestion that the way to become an acquaintance
was first to become an inmate.  Her actual knowledge of the Misses
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