The private life
Did you ever see him alone?”
I tried to remember. “Oh, yes; he has been to see me.”
“Ah, then he wasn’t alone.”
“And I’ve been to see him, in his study.”
“Did he know you were there?”
“Naturally – I was announced.”
Blanche Adney glanced at me like a lovely conspirator. “You mustn’t be announced!” With this she walked on.
I rejoined her, breathless. “Do you mean one must come upon him when he doesn’t know it?”
“You must take him unawares. You must go to his room – that’s what you must do.”
If I was elated by the way our mystery opened out, I was also, pardonably, a little confused. “When I know he’s not there?”
“When you know he is.”
“And what shall I see?”
“You won’t see anything!” Mrs Adney cried as we turned round.
from Henry James, "The Private Life" (1893)