Sample K13 from William Maxwell, The Chateau. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1961. Pp. 240-245. A part of the XML version of the Brown Corpus2,004 words 254 (12.7%) quotes 3 symbolsK13

Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. 0010-1690

William Maxwell, The Chateau. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1961. Pp. 240-245.

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In the dim underwater light they dressed and straightened up the room , and then they went across the hall to the kitchen . She was intimidated by the stove . He found the pilot light and turned on one of the burners for her . The gas flamed up two inches high . They found the teakettle . And put water on to boil and then searched through the icebox . Several sections of a loaf of dark bread ; ; butter ; ; jam ; ; a tiny cake of ice . In their search for what turned out to be the right breakfast china but the wrong table silver , they opened every cupboard door in the kitchen and pantry . While she was settling the teacart , he went back across the hall to their bedroom , opened one of the suitcases , and took out powdered coffee and sugar . She appeared with the teacart and he opened the windows .

`` Do you want to call Eugene '' ? ?

He didn't , but it was not really a question , and so he left the room , walked down the hall to the front of the apartment , hesitated , and then knocked lightly on the closed door of the study . A sleepy voice answered .

`` Le petit dejeuner '' , Harold said , in an accent that did credit to Miss Sloan , his high-school French teacher . At the same time , his voice betrayed uncertainty about their being here , and conveyed an appeal to whatever is reasonable , peace-loving , and dependable in everybody .

Since ordinary breakfast-table conversation was impossible , it was at least something that they were able to offer Eugene the sugar bowl with their sugar in it , and the plate of bread and butter , and that Eugene could return the pitcher of hot milk to them handle first . Eugene put a spoonful of powdered coffee into his cup and then filled it with hot water . Stirring , he said : `` I am sorry that my work prevents me from doing anything with you today '' .

They assured him that they did not expect or need to be entertained .

Harold put a teaspoonful of powdered coffee in his cup and filled it with hot water , and then , stirring , he sat back in his chair . The chair creaked . Every time he moved or said something , the chair creaked again .

Eugene was not entirely silent , or openly rude -- unless asking Harold to move to another chair and placing himself in the fauteuil that creaked so alarmingly was an act of rudeness . It went right on creaking under his own considerable weight , and all it needed , Harold thought , was for somebody to fling himself back in a fit of laughter and that would be the end of it .

Through the open window they heard sounds below in the street : cartwheels , a tired horse's plodding step , voices . Harold indicated the photograph on the wall and asked what church the stone sculpture was in . Eugene told him and he promptly forgot . They passed the marmalade , the bread , the black-market butter , back and forth . Nothing was said about hotels or train journeys .

Eugene offered Harold his car , to use at any time he cared to , and when this offer was not accepted , the armchair creaked . They all three had another cup of coffee . Eugene was in his pajamas and dressing gown , and on his large feet he wore yellow Turkish slippers that turned up at the toes .

`` Excuse me '' , he said in Berlitz English , and got up and left them , to bathe and dress .

The first shrill ring of the telephone brought Harold out into the hall . He realized that he had no idea where the telephone was . At that moment the bathroom door flew open and Eugene came out , with his face lathered for shaving , and strode down the hall , tying the sash of his dressing gown as he went . The telephone was in the study but the ringing came from the hall . Between the telephone and the wall plug there was sixty feet of cord , and when the conversation came to an end , Eugene carried the instrument with him the whole length of the apartment , to his bathroom , where it rang three more times while he was shaving and in the tub . Before he left the apartment he knocked on their door and asked if there was anything he could do for them . Harold shook his head .

`` Sabine called a few minutes ago '' , Eugene said . `` She wants you and Barbara to have dinner with her tomorrow night '' .

He handed Harold a key to the front door , and cautioned him against leaving it unlocked while they were out of the apartment .

When enough time had elapsed so that there was little likelihood of his returning for something he had forgotten , Harold went out into the hall and stood looking into one room after another . In the room next to theirs was a huge cradle , of mahogany , ornately carved and decorated with gold leaf . It was the most important-looking cradle he had ever seen . Then came their bathroom , and then a bedroom that , judging by the photographs on the walls , must belong to Mme Cestre . A young woman who looked like Alix , with her two children . Alix and Eugene on their wedding day . Matching photographs in oval frames of Mme Bonenfant and an elderly man who must be Alix's grandfather . Mme Vienot , considerably younger and very different . The schoolboy . And a gray-haired man whose glance -- direct , lifelike , and mildly accusing -- was contradicted by the gilt and black frame . It was the kind of frame that is only put around the photograph of a dead person . Professor Cestre , could it be ? ?

With the metal shutters closed , the dining room was so dark that it seemed still night in there . One of the drawing-room shutters was partly open and he made out the shapes of chairs and sofas , which seemed to be upholstered in brown or russet velvet . The curtains were of the same material , and there were some big oil paintings -- portraits in the style of Lancret and Boucher .

Though , taken individually , the big rooms were , or seemed to be , square , the apartment as a whole formed a triangle . The apex , the study where Eugene slept , was light and bright and airy and cheerful . The window looked out on the Place Redoute -- it was the only window of the apartment that did . Looking around slowly , he saw a marble fireplace , a desk , a low bookcase of mahogany with criss-crossed brass wire instead of glass panes in the doors . The daybed Eugene had slept in , made up now with its dark-brown velours cover and pillows . The portable record player with a pile of classical records beside it . Beethoven's Fifth was the one on top . Da-da-da-dum Music could not be Eugene's passion . Besides , the records were dusty . He tried the doors of the bookcase . Locked . The titles he could read easily through the criss-crossed wires : works on theology , astral physics , history , biology , political science . No poetry . No novels . He moved over to the desk and stood looking at the papers on it but not touching anything . The clock on the mantel piece was scandalized and ticked so loudly that he glanced at it over his shoulder and then quickly left the room .

The concierge called out to them as they were passing through the foyer . Her quarters were on the right as you walked into the building , and her small front room was clogged with heavy furniture -- a big , round , oak dining table and chairs , a buffet , with a row of unclaimed letters inserted between the mirror and its frame . The suitcases had come while they were out , and had been put in their room , the concierge said .

He waited until they were inside the elevator and then said : `` Now what do we do '' ? ?

`` Call the Vouillemont , I guess '' .

`` I guess '' .

Rather than sit around waiting for the suitcases to be delivered , they had gone sight-seeing . They went to the Flea Market , expecting to find the treasures of Europe , and found instead a duplication of that long double row of booths in Tours . Cheap clothing and junk of every sort , as far as the eye could see . They looked , even so . Looked at everything . Barbara bought some cotton aprons , and Harold bought shoestrings . They had lunch at a sidewalk cafe overlooking the intersection of two broad , busy , unpicturesque streets , and coming home they got lost in the Metro ; ; it took them over an hour to get back to the station where they should have changed , in order to take the line that went to the Place Redoute . It was the end of the afternoon when he took the huge key out of his pocket and inserted it into the keyhole . When he opened the door , there stood Eugene , on his way out of the apartment . He was wearing sneakers and shorts and an open-collared shirt , and in his hand he carried a little black bag . He did not explain where he was going , and they did not ask . Instead , they went on down the hall to their room .

`` Do you think he could be having an affair '' ? ? Barbara asked , as they heard the front door close .

`` Oh no '' , Harold said , shocked .

`` Well , this is France , after all '' .

`` I know , but there must be some other explanation . He's probably spending the evening with friends '' .

`` And for that he needs a little bag '' ? ?

They went shopping in the neighborhood , and bought two loaves of bread with the ration coupons they had been given in Blois , and some cheese , and a dozen eggs , and a bag of oranges from a peddler in the Place Redoute -- the first oranges they had seen since they landed . They had Vermouth , sitting in front of a cafe . When they got home Harold was grateful for the stillness in the apartment , and thought how , under different circumstances , they might have stayed on here , in these old-fashioned , high-ceilinged rooms that reminded him of the Irelands' apartment in the East Eighties . They could have been perfectly happy here for ten whole days .

He went down the hall to Eugene's bathroom , to turn on the hot-water heater , and on the side of the tub he saw a pair of blue wool swimming trunks . He felt them . They were damp . He reached out and felt the bath towel hanging on the towel rack over the tub . Damp also . He looked around the room and then called out : `` Come here , quick '' ? ?

`` What is it '' ? ? Barbara asked , standing in the doorway . `` I've solved the mystery of the little bag . There it is and there is what was in it . But where do people go swimming in Paris ? ? That boat in the river , maybe '' .

`` What boat '' ? ?

`` There's a big boat anchored near the Place De La Concorde , with a swimming pool in it -- didn't you notice it ? ? But if he has time to go swimming , he had time to be with us '' .

She looked at him in surprise .

`` I know '' , he said , reading her mind .

`` I don't know what I'm going to do with you '' .

`` It's because we are in France '' , he said , `` and know so few people . So something like this matters more than it would at home . Also , he was so nice when he was nice '' .

`` All because I didn't feel like dancing '' .

`` I don't think it was that , really '' .

`` Then what was it '' ? ?

`` I don't know . I wish I did . The tweed coat , maybe . The thing about Eugene is that he's very proud '' .

And the thing about hurt feelings , the wet bathing suit pointed out , is that the person who has them is not quite the innocent party he believes himself to be . For instance -- what about all those people Harold Rhodes went toward unhesitatingly , as if this were the one moment they would ever have together , their one chance of knowing each other ? ?

Fortunately , the embarrassing questions raised by objects do not need to be answered , or we would all have to go sleep in the open fields . And in any case , answers may clarify but they do not change anything .