The act of reading ... begins on a flat surface, counter or page, and then gets stirred and chopped and blended until what we make, in the end, is a dish, or story, all our own.
— Adam Gopnik

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March 4, 2013

Driving with Henry

      Teddy, meanwhile, was off to London with the mission of buying a second-hand automobile, and at the end of April ... [Edith] left to join him. An immediate breakdown of the twenty-four horsepower Panhard prevented Teddy from coming down to meet the channel steamer, but Henry James showed up as arranged. 'Bien sur que I'll meet you at Dover on the 25th, or anywhere in the world -- this world,' he had promised, addressing her tentatively as "Dear Edith Wharton.' They dined together and had a look at Canterbury before Edith went on to London. The next morning Edith and Teddy set forth on their first motor tour of England.
      They drove south to Portsmouth, crossed the Isle of Wight for an evening, then headed north through Salisbury to Bath, pausing periodically to inspect cathedrals and closes, colleges and bishops' palaces ...James joined them at Bath, and they moved on through pouring rain with the intention (Wordsworth's lines echoing in their heads) of getting as far as Tintern Abbey. They were held up, however, at Malvern by the rain and by James' insistent attempts to give directions. He knew Malvern very well, he assured them, and since its geography was difficult he proposed changing places with 'Edward' and sitting next to Cook, the chauffeur. The party circled the city in rain-swept darkness while James strove to remember which street led to their hotel. In Edith Wharton's later account:

At each corner (literally) he stopped the motor, and we heard a muttering, first confident, then anguished. "This--this, my dear Cook, yes ... this is certainly the right corner. But no, stay! A moment longer, please -- in this light it's so difficult ... appearances are so misleading ... It may be ... yes! I think it is the next turn ... a little further lend thy guiding hand ... that is, drive on; but drive slowly, please my dear Cook, very slowly.'

Cook finally turned down a street at random, and soon brought the hungry and exhausted group to their lodging.

-- from Edith Wharton:  a biography, by R.W.B. Lewis

I've missed him, too. :)


JoAnn said...

Ha! Oh, Henry.... so typical.

Anonymous said...

Which year was this? Would love it if you could tell me. Thanks!

Audrey said...

About 1906, from what I read. The picture was taken in 1904 at The Mount, but it's the same four people! Both are from Professor Lewis' book.

Thank you for visiting!

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