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The Beast in the Jungle - Henry James

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The Beast in the Jungle

by Henry James


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
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