Study Guide

The American Chapter 22

By Henry James

Chapter 22

  • First of all, Mrs. Bread wants Newman not to think poorly of Claire. She's so susceptible to her family's wishes, after all.
  • Secondly, she wants to know if Valentin already spilled the beans.
  • Newman is pretty honest about the whole affair. He says he doesn't know a thing and plans to use the information to get Claire back.
  • Oh yeah, and it was Valentin's wish that Mrs. Bread tell him everything. Newman is laying it on thick.
  • Just in case Mrs. Bread gets in trouble, Newman offers her a pension for the rest of her life. That's a pretty sweet deal.
  • Mrs. Bread starts talking.
  • Apparently, when Claire was young, her father was still alive.
  • Claire's family wanted her to marry the awful Comte de CintrĂ© and cash in, but her father, the Marquise, wasn't having it.
  • Claire's mom and dad had a huge fight about it.
  • After the fight, the Marquise fell ill and went to rest up in his bed.
  • Except he got really, really ill. A couple of doctors thought he was a goner for sure.
  • Somehow, he made a miraculous recovery.
  • Mrs. Bread, always the faithful servant, spent a lot of time hanging out at his bedside.
  • One night, Urbain and Madame de Bellegarde came to spend some time with dear old dad. They asked Mrs. Bread to leave.
  • The Marquise seemed terrified that she was leaving.
  • By the time Mrs. Bread took her next station as nurse, the Marquise was practically dying again.
  • Meanwhile, Urbain and Madame de Bellegarde looked like they were plotting together.
  • The Marquise managed to slip Mrs. Bread a note that accuses his wife of murder, should he die.
  • The Marquise ends up dying. The last thing he sees before leaving this earth is his wife's face.
  • Mrs. Bread finishes her dramatic story.
  • There's one more thing: Mrs. Bread still has the incriminating note.
  • She brings it to Newman later that night.

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