Study Guide

The American Chapter 18

By Henry James

Chapter 18

  • As soon as Valentin leaves for his planned duel, Newman heads over to Claire's place.
  • A carriage is in the courtyard, ready to go.
  • But a mournful Mrs. Bread shows up, bearing a letter addressed to Newman.
  • It's from Claire. She has to leave for Fleurières immediately. Oh yeah, and the wedding is off.
  • Newman wants more of an explanation, obviously.
  • Mrs. Bread leads Newman to the family room in the de Bellegarde estate, where Claire's hanging out with her brother and sister-in-law, the Marquise.
  • Claire's pretty mortified. She tells Newman that she can't marry him because it's improper. Wait. What?
  • Urbain tells Newman that he upheld his end of the bargain. He let Newman court his sister, but he can't actually go through with letting him marry her.
  • Newman's just a little too crass for the family. He's a commercial kind of guy.
  • Newman's rightfully shocked. He walks away from the house without much of a protest, getting madder and madder as he goes along.
  • Of course, he goes right to Mrs. Tristram to vent about his problems.
  • Mrs. Tristram is possibly even more shocked than Newman.
  • She has a good guess about what's happened. The de Bellegarde family wants Claire to marry Lord Deepmere, instead. Ca-ching! That's the sound of cold, hard cash being directed to the de Bellegarde bank account.
  • In all of the confusion, Newman's forgotten about Valentin.
  • He discovers that Valentin has been seriously wounded…because, you know, he fought in a duel. He needs to get to him right away.

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