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    Chapter 34

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    Chapter 34
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    XXXIV.

    Newland Archer sat at the writing-table in his library
    in East Thirty-ninth Street.

    He had just got back from a big official reception for
    the inauguration of the new galleries at the Metropolitan
    Museum, and the spectacle of those great spaces
    crowded with the spoils of the ages, where the throng
    of fashion circulated through a series of scientifically
    catalogued treasures, had suddenly pressed on a rusted
    spring of memory.

    "Why, this used to be one of the old Cesnola rooms,"
    he heard some one say; and instantly everything about
    him vanished, and he was sitting alone on a hard
    leather divan against a radiator, while a slight figure in
    a long sealskin cloak moved away down the meagrely-
    fitted vista of the old Museum.

    The vision had roused a host of other associations,
    and he sat looking with new eyes at the library which,
    for over thirty years, had been the scene of his solitary
    musings and of all the family confabulations.

    It was the room in which most of the real things of
    his life had happened. There his wife, nearly twenty-six
    years ago, had broken to him, with a blushing
    circumlocution that would have caused the young women of
    the new generation to smile, the news that she was to
    have a child; and there their eldest boy, Dallas, too
    delicate to be taken to church in midwinter, had been
    christened by their old friend the Bishop of New York,
    the ample magnificent irreplaceable Bishop, so long the
    pride and ornament of his diocese. There Dallas had
    first staggered across the floor shouting "Dad," while
    May and the nurse laughed behind the door; there their
    second child, Mary (who was so like her mother), had
    announced her engagement to the dullest and most
    reliable of Reggie Chivers's many sons; and there Archer
    had kissed her through her wedding veil before they
    went down to the motor which was to carry them to
    Grace Church--for in a world where all else had reeled
    on its foundations the "Grace Church wedding"
    remained an unchanged institution.

    It was in the library that he and May had always
    discussed the future of the children: the studies of
    Dallas and his young brother Bill, Mary's incurable
    indifference to "accomplishments," and passion for
    sport and philanthropy, and the vague leanings toward
    "art" which had finally landed the restless and curious
    Dallas in the office of a rising New York architect.

    The young men nowadays were emancipating
    themselves from the law and business and taking up all sorts
    of new things. If they were not absorbed in state politics
    or municipal reform, the chances were that they
    were going in for Central American archaeology, for
    architecture or landscape-engineering; taking a keen
    and learned interest in the prerevolutionary buildings
    of their own country, studying and adapting Georgian
    types, and protesting at the meaningless use of the
    word "Colonial." Nobody nowadays had "Colonial"
    houses except the millionaire grocers of the suburbs.

    But above all--sometimes Archer put it above all--it
    was in that library that the Governor of New York,
    coming down from Albany one evening to dine and
    spend the night, had turned to his host, and said,
    banging his clenched fist on the table and gnashing his
    eye-glasses: "Hang the professional politician! You're
    the kind of man the country wants, Archer. If the
    stable's ever to be cleaned out, men like you have got
    to lend a hand in the cleaning."

    "Men like you--" how Archer had glowed at the
    phrase! How eagerly he had risen up at the call! It was
    an echo of Ned Winsett's old appeal to roll his sleeves
    up and get down into the muck; but spoken by a man
    who set the example of the gesture, and whose summons
    to follow him was irresistible.

    Archer, as he looked back, was not sure that men
    like himself WERE what his country needed, at least in
    the active service to which Theodore Roosevelt had
    pointed; in fact, there was reason to think it did not,
    for after a year in the State Assembly he had not been
    re-elected, and had dropped back thankfully into
    obscure if useful municipal work, and from that again to
    the writing of occasional articles in one of the
    reforming weeklies that were trying to shake the country
    out of its apathy. It was little enough to look back on;
    but when he remembered to what the young men of his
    generation and his set had looked forward--the narrow
    groove of money-making, sport and society to
    which their vision had been limited--even his small
    contribution to the new state of things seemed to count,
    as each brick counts in a well-built wall. He had done
    little in public life; he would always be by nature a
    contemplative and a dilettante; but he had had high
    things to contemplate, great things to delight in; and
    one great man's friendship to be his strength and pride.

    He had been, in short, what people were beginning
    to call "a good citizen." In New York, for many years
    past, every new movement, philanthropic, municipal or
    artistic, had taken account of his opinion and wanted
    his name. People said: "Ask Archer" when there was a
    question of starting the first school for crippled children,
    reorganising the Museum of Art, founding the
    Grolier Club, inaugurating the new Library, or getting
    up a new society of chamber music. His days were full,
    and they were filled decently. He supposed it was all a
    man ought to ask.

    Something he knew he had missed: the flower of life.
    But he thought of it now as a thing so unattainable
    and improbable that to have repined would have been
    like despairing because one had not drawn the first prize
    in a lottery. There were a hundred million tickets in HIS
    lottery, and there was only one prize; the chances had
    been too decidedly against him. When he thought of Ellen
    Olenska it was abstractly, serenely, as one might think
    of some imaginary beloved in a book or a picture: she
    had become the composite vision of all that he had
    missed. That vision, faint and tenuous as it was, had kept
    him from thinking of other women. He had been what
    was called a faithful husband; and when May had
    suddenly died--carried off by the infectious pneumonia
    through which she had nursed their youngest child--he
    had honestly mourned her. Their long years together had
    shown him that it did not so much matter if marriage was
    a dull duty, as long as it kept the dignity of a duty: lapsing
    from that, it became a mere battle of ugly appetites.
    Looking about him, he honoured his own past, and
    mourned for it. After all, there was good in the old ways.

    His eyes, making the round of the room--done over
    by Dallas with English mezzotints, Chippendale cabinets,
    bits of chosen blue-and-white and pleasantly shaded
    electric lamps--came back to the old Eastlake writing-
    table that he had never been willing to banish, and to
    his first photograph of May, which still kept its place
    beside his inkstand.

    There she was, tall, round-bosomed and willowy, in
    her starched muslin and flapping Leghorn, as he had
    seen her under the orange-trees in the Mission garden.
    And as he had seen her that day, so she had remained;
    never quite at the same height, yet never far below it:
    generous, faithful, unwearied; but so lacking in
    imagination, so incapable of growth, that the world of her
    youth had fallen into pieces and rebuilt itself without
    her ever being conscious of the change. This hard bright
    blindness had kept her immediate horizon apparently
    unaltered. Her incapacity to recognise change made her
    children conceal their views from her as Archer concealed
    his; there had been, from the first, a joint pretence
    of sameness, a kind of innocent family hypocrisy,
    in which father and children had unconsciously
    collaborated. And she had died thinking the world a good
    place, full of loving and harmonious households like
    her own, and resigned to leave it because she was
    convinced that, whatever happened, Newland would
    continue to inculcate in Dallas the same principles and
    prejudices which had shaped his parents' lives, and that
    Dallas in turn (when Newland followed her) would
    transmit the sacred trust to little Bill. And of Mary she
    was sure as of her own self. So, having snatched little
    Bill from the grave, and given her life in the effort, she
    went contentedly to her place in the Archer vault in St.
    Mark's, where Mrs. Archer already lay safe from the
    terrifying "trend" which her daughter-in-law had never
    even become aware of.

    Opposite May's portrait stood one of her daughter.
    Mary Chivers was as tall and fair as her mother, but
    large-waisted, flat-chested and slightly slouching, as the
    altered fashion required. Mary Chivers's mighty feats
    of athleticism could not have been performed with the
    twenty-inch waist that May Archer's azure sash so
    easily spanned. And the difference seemed symbolic;
    the mother's life had been as closely girt as her figure.
    Mary, who was no less conventional, and no more
    intelligent, yet led a larger life and held more tolerant
    views. There was good in the new order too.

    The telephone clicked, and Archer, turning from the
    photographs, unhooked the transmitter at his elbow.
    How far they were from the days when the legs of the
    brass-buttoned messenger boy had been New York's
    only means of quick communication!

    "Chicago wants you."

    Ah--it must be a long-distance from Dallas, who
    had been sent to Chicago by his firm to talk over the
    plan of the Lakeside palace they were to build for a
    young millionaire with ideas. The firm always sent
    Dallas on such errands.

    "Hallo, Dad--Yes: Dallas. I say--how do you feel
    about sailing on Wednesday? Mauretania: Yes, next
    Wednesday as ever is. Our client wants me to look at
    some Italian gardens before we settle anything, and has
    asked me to nip over on the next boat. I've got to be
    back on the first of June--" the voice broke into a
    joyful conscious laugh--"so we must look alive. I say,
    Dad, I want your help: do come."

    Dallas seemed to be speaking in the room: the voice
    was as near by and natural as if he had been lounging
    in his favourite arm-chair by the fire. The fact would
    not ordinarily have surprised Archer, for long-distance
    telephoning had become as much a matter of course as
    electric lighting and five-day Atlantic voyages. But the
    laugh did startle him; it still seemed wonderful that
    across all those miles and miles of country--forest,
    river, mountain, prairie, roaring cities and busy indifferent
    millions--Dallas's laugh should be able to say:
    "Of course, whatever happens, I must get back on the
    first, because Fanny Beaufort and I are to be married
    on the fifth."

    The voice began again: "Think it over? No, sir: not a
    minute. You've got to say yes now. Why not, I'd like to
    know? If you can allege a single reason--No; I knew it.
    Then it's a go, eh? Because I count on you to ring up
    the Cunard office first thing tomorrow; and you'd better
    book a return on a boat from Marseilles. I say,
    Dad; it'll be our last time together, in this kind of
    way--. Oh, good! I knew you would."

    Chicago rang off, and Archer rose and began to pace
    up and down the room.

    It would be their last time together in this kind of
    way: the boy was right. They would have lots of other
    "times" after Dallas's marriage, his father was sure; for
    the two were born comrades, and Fanny Beaufort,
    whatever one might think of her, did not seem likely to
    interfere with their intimacy. On the contrary, from
    what he had seen of her, he thought she would be
    naturally included in it. Still, change was change, and
    differences were differences, and much as he felt himself
    drawn toward his future daughter-in-law, it was
    tempting to seize this last chance of being alone with
    his boy.

    There was no reason why he should not seize it,
    except the profound one that he had lost the habit of
    travel. May had disliked to move except for valid reasons,
    such as taking the children to the sea or in the
    mountains: she could imagine no other motive for leaving
    the house in Thirty-ninth Street or their comfortable
    quarters at the Wellands' in Newport. After Dallas
    had taken his degree she had thought it her duty to
    travel for six months; and the whole family had made
    the old-fashioned tour through England, Switzerland
    and Italy. Their time being limited (no one knew why)
    they had omitted France. Archer remembered Dallas's
    wrath at being asked to contemplate Mont Blanc
    instead of Rheims and Chartres. But Mary and Bill wanted
    mountain-climbing, and had already yawned their way
    in Dallas's wake through the English cathedrals; and
    May, always fair to her children, had insisted on holding
    the balance evenly between their athletic and artistic
    proclivities. She had indeed proposed that her husband
    should go to Paris for a fortnight, and join them on the
    Italian lakes after they had "done" Switzerland; but
    Archer had declined. "We'll stick together," he said;
    and May's face had brightened at his setting such a
    good example to Dallas.

    Since her death, nearly two years before, there had
    been no reason for his continuing in the same routine.
    His children had urged him to travel: Mary Chivers
    had felt sure it would do him good to go abroad and
    "see the galleries." The very mysteriousness of such a
    cure made her the more confident of its efficacy. But
    Archer had found himself held fast by habit, by memories,
    by a sudden startled shrinking from new things.

    Now, as he reviewed his past, he saw into what a
    deep rut he had sunk. The worst of doing one's duty
    was that it apparently unfitted one for doing anything
    else. At least that was the view that the men of his
    generation had taken. The trenchant divisions between
    right and wrong, honest and dishonest, respectable and
    the reverse, had left so little scope for the unforeseen.
    There are moments when a man's imagination, so easily
    subdued to what it lives in, suddenly rises above its
    daily level, and surveys the long windings of destiny.
    Archer hung there and wondered. . . .

    What was left of the little world he had grown up in,
    and whose standards had bent and bound him? He
    remembered a sneering prophecy of poor Lawrence
    Lefferts's, uttered years ago in that very room: "If
    things go on at this rate, our children will be marrying
    Beaufort's bastards."

    It was just what Archer's eldest son, the pride of his
    life, was doing; and nobody wondered or reproved.
    Even the boy's Aunt Janey, who still looked so exactly
    as she used to in her elderly youth, had taken her
    mother's emeralds and seed-pearls out of their pink
    cotton-wool, and carried them with her own twitching
    hands to the future bride; and Fanny Beaufort, instead
    of looking disappointed at not receiving a "set" from a
    Paris jeweller, had exclaimed at their old-fashioned
    beauty, and declared that when she wore them she
    should feel like an Isabey miniature.

    Fanny Beaufort, who had appeared in New York at
    eighteen, after the death of her parents, had won its
    heart much as Madame Olenska had won it thirty
    years earlier; only instead of being distrustful and afraid
    of her, society took her joyfully for granted. She was
    pretty, amusing and accomplished: what more did any
    one want? Nobody was narrow-minded enough to rake
    up against her the half-forgotten facts of her father's
    past and her own origin. Only the older people remembered
    so obscure an incident in the business life of New
    York as Beaufort's failure, or the fact that after his
    wife's death he had been quietly married to the notorious
    Fanny Ring, and had left the country with his new
    wife, and a little girl who inherited her beauty. He was
    subsequently heard of in Constantinople, then in Russia;
    and a dozen years later American travellers were
    handsomely entertained by him in Buenos Ayres, where
    he represented a large insurance agency. He and his
    wife died there in the odour of prosperity; and one day
    their orphaned daughter had appeared in New York in
    charge of May Archer's sister-in-law, Mrs. Jack Welland,
    whose husband had been appointed the girl's
    guardian. The fact threw her into almost cousinly
    relationship with Newland Archer's children, and nobody
    was surprised when Dallas's engagement was announced.

    Nothing could more dearly give the measure of the
    distance that the world had travelled. People nowadays
    were too busy--busy with reforms and "movements,"
    with fads and fetishes and frivolities--to bother much
    about their neighbours. And of what account was anybody's
    past, in the huge kaleidoscope where all the
    social atoms spun around on the same plane?

    Newland Archer, looking out of his hotel window at
    the stately gaiety of the Paris streets, felt his heart
    beating with the confusion and eagerness of youth.

    It was long since it had thus plunged and reared
    under his widening waistcoat, leaving him, the next
    minute, with an empty breast and hot temples. He
    wondered if it was thus that his son's conducted itself
    in the presence of Miss Fanny Beaufort--and decided
    that it was not. "It functions as actively, no doubt, but
    the rhythm is different," he reflected, recalling the cool
    composure with which the young man had announced
    his engagement, and taken for granted that his family
    would approve.

    "The difference is that these young people take it for
    granted that they're going to get whatever they want,
    and that we almost always took it for granted that we
    shouldn't. Only, I wonder--the thing one's so certain
    of in advance: can it ever make one's heart beat as
    wildly?"

    It was the day after their arrival in Paris, and the
    spring sunshine held Archer in his open window, above
    the wide silvery prospect of the Place Vendome. One
    of the things he had stipulated--almost the only one--
    when he had agreed to come abroad with Dallas, was
    that, in Paris, he shouldn't be made to go to one of the
    newfangled "palaces."

    "Oh, all right--of course," Dallas good-naturedly
    agreed. "I'll take you to some jolly old-fashioned place--
    the Bristol say--" leaving his father speechless at hearing
    that the century-long home of kings and emperors
    was now spoken of as an old-fashioned inn, where one
    went for its quaint inconveniences and lingering local
    colour.

    Archer had pictured often enough, in the first impatient
    years, the scene of his return to Paris; then the
    personal vision had faded, and he had simply tried to
    see the city as the setting of Madame Olenska's life.
    Sitting alone at night in his library, after the household
    had gone to bed, he had evoked the radiant outbreak
    of spring down the avenues of horse-chestnuts, the flowers
    and statues in the public gardens, the whiff of lilacs
    from the flower-carts, the majestic roll of the river
    under the great bridges, and the life of art and study
    and pleasure that filled each mighty artery to bursting.
    Now the spectacle was before him in its glory, and as
    he looked out on it he felt shy, old-fashioned, inadequate:
    a mere grey speck of a man compared with the
    ruthless magnificent fellow he had dreamed of being. . . .

    Dallas's hand came down cheerily on his shoulder.
    "Hullo, father: this is something like, isn't it?" They
    stood for a while looking out in silence, and then the
    young man continued: "By the way, I've got a message
    for you: the Countess Olenska expects us both at half-
    past five."

    He said it lightly, carelessly, as he might have
    imparted any casual item of information, such as the hour
    at which their train was to leave for Florence the next
    evening. Archer looked at him, and thought he saw in
    his gay young eyes a gleam of his great-grandmother
    Mingott's malice.

    "Oh, didn't I tell you?" Dallas pursued. "Fanny made
    me swear to do three things while I was in Paris: get
    her the score of the last Debussy songs, go to the
    Grand-Guignol and see Madame Olenska. You know
    she was awfully good to Fanny when Mr. Beaufort sent
    her over from Buenos Ayres to the Assomption. Fanny
    hadn't any friends in Paris, and Madame Olenska used
    to be kind to her and trot her about on holidays. I
    believe she was a great friend of the first Mrs. Beaufort's.
    And she's our cousin, of course. So I rang her up
    this morning, before I went out, and told her you and I
    were here for two days and wanted to see her."

    Archer continued to stare at him. "You told her I
    was here?"

    "Of course--why not?" Dallas's eye brows went up
    whimsically. Then, getting no answer, he slipped his
    arm through his father's with a confidential pressure.

    "I say, father: what was she like?"

    Archer felt his colour rise under his son's unabashed
    gaze. "Come, own up: you and she were great pals,
    weren't you? Wasn't she most awfully lovely?"

    "Lovely? I don't know. She was different."

    "Ah--there you have it! That's what it always comes
    to, doesn't it? When she comes, SHE'S DIFFERENT--and
    one doesn't know why. It's exactly what I feel about
    Fanny."

    His father drew back a step, releasing his arm. "About
    Fanny? But, my dear fellow--I should hope so! Only I
    don't see--"

    "Dash it, Dad, don't be prehistoric! Wasn't she--
    once--your Fanny?"

    Dallas belonged body and soul to the new generation.
    He was the first-born of Newland and May Archer,
    yet it had never been possible to inculcate in him even
    the rudiments of reserve. "What's the use of making
    mysteries? It only makes people want to nose 'em out,"
    he always objected when enjoined to discretion. But
    Archer, meeting his eyes, saw the filial light under their
    banter.

    "My Fanny?"

    "Well, the woman you'd have chucked everything
    for: only you didn't," continued his surprising son.

    "I didn't," echoed Archer with a kind of solemnity.

    "No: you date, you see, dear old boy. But mother
    said--"

    "Your mother?"

    "Yes: the day before she died. It was when she sent
    for me alone--you remember? She said she knew we
    were safe with you, and always would be, because
    once, when she asked you to, you'd given up the thing
    you most wanted."

    Archer received this strange communication in silence.
    His eyes remained unseeingly fixed on the thronged
    sunlit square below the window. At length he said in a
    low voice: "She never asked me."

    "No. I forgot. You never did ask each other
    anything, did you? And you never told each other
    anything. You just sat and watched each other, and guessed
    at what was going on underneath. A deaf-and-dumb
    asylum, in fact! Well, I back your generation for knowing
    more about each other's private thoughts than we
    ever have time to find out about our own.--I say,
    Dad," Dallas broke off, "you're not angry with me? If
    you are, let's make it up and go and lunch at Henri's.
    I've got to rush out to Versailles afterward."

    Archer did not accompany his son to Versailles. He
    preferred to spend the afternoon in solitary roamings
    through Paris. He had to deal all at once with the
    packed regrets and stifled memories of an inarticulate
    lifetime.

    After a little while he did not regret Dallas's
    indiscretion. It seemed to take an iron band from his heart
    to know that, after all, some one had guessed and
    pitied. . . . And that it should have been his wife moved
    him indescribably. Dallas, for all his affectionate
    insight, would not have understood that. To the boy, no
    doubt, the episode was only a pathetic instance of vain
    frustration, of wasted forces. But was it really no more?
    For a long time Archer sat on a bench in the Champs
    Elysees and wondered, while the stream of life rolled
    by. . . .

    A few streets away, a few hours away, Ellen Olenska
    waited. She had never gone back to her husband, and
    when he had died, some years before, she had made no
    change in her way of living. There was nothing now to
    keep her and Archer apart--and that afternoon he was
    to see her.

    He got up and walked across the Place de la Concorde
    and the Tuileries gardens to the Louvre. She had
    once told him that she often went there, and he had a
    fancy to spend the intervening time in a place where he
    could think of her as perhaps having lately been. For
    an hour or more he wandered from gallery to gallery
    through the dazzle of afternoon light, and one by one
    the pictures burst on him in their half-forgotten splendour,
    filling his soul with the long echoes of beauty.
    After all, his life had been too starved. . . .

    Suddenly, before an effulgent Titian, he found himself
    saying: "But I'm only fifty-seven--" and then he
    turned away. For such summer dreams it was too late;
    but surely not for a quiet harvest of friendship, of
    comradeship, in the blessed hush of her nearness.

    He went back to the hotel, where he and Dallas were
    to meet; and together they walked again across the
    Place de la Concorde and over the bridge that leads to
    the Chamber of Deputies.

    Dallas, unconscious of what was going on in his
    father's mind, was talking excitedly and abundantly of
    Versailles. He had had but one previous glimpse of it,
    during a holiday trip in which he had tried to pack all
    the sights he had been deprived of when he had had to
    go with the family to Switzerland; and tumultuous
    enthusiasm and cock-sure criticism tripped each other
    up on his lips.

    As Archer listened, his sense of inadequacy and
    inexpressiveness increased. The boy was not insensitive,
    he knew; but he had the facility and self-confidence
    that came of looking at fate not as a master but as an
    equal. "That's it: they feel equal to things--they know
    their way about," he mused, thinking of his son as the
    spokesman of the new generation which had swept
    away all the old landmarks, and with them the sign-
    posts and the danger-signal.

    Suddenly Dallas stopped short, grasping his father's
    arm. "Oh, by Jove," he exclaimed.

    They had come out into the great tree-planted space
    before the Invalides. The dome of Mansart floated
    ethereally above the budding trees and the long grey
    front of the building: drawing up into itself all the rays
    of afternoon light, it hung there like the visible symbol
    of the race's glory.

    Archer knew that Madame Olenska lived in a square
    near one of the avenues radiating from the Invalides;
    and he had pictured the quarter as quiet and almost
    obscure, forgetting the central splendour that lit it up.
    Now, by some queer process of association, that golden
    light became for him the pervading illumination in
    which she lived. For nearly thirty years, her life--of
    which he knew so strangely little--had been spent in
    this rich atmosphere that he already felt to be too dense
    and yet too stimulating for his lungs. He thought of the
    theatres she must have been to, the pictures she must
    have looked at, the sober and splendid old houses she
    must have frequented, the people she must have talked
    with, the incessant stir of ideas, curiosities, images and
    associations thrown out by an intensely social race in a
    setting of immemorial manners; and suddenly he
    remembered the young Frenchman who had once said to
    him: "Ah, good conversation--there is nothing like it,
    is there?"

    Archer had not seen M. Riviere, or heard of him,
    for nearly thirty years; and that fact gave the measure
    of his ignorance of Madame Olenska's existence. More
    than half a lifetime divided them, and she had spent the
    long interval among people he did not know, in a
    society he but faintly guessed at, in conditions he would
    never wholly understand. During that time he had been
    living with his youthful memory of her; but she had
    doubtless had other and more tangible companionship.
    Perhaps she too had kept her memory of him as something
    apart; but if she had, it must have been like a
    relic in a small dim chapel, where there was not time to
    pray every day. . . .

    They had crossed the Place des Invalides, and were
    walking down one of the thoroughfares flanking the
    building. It was a quiet quarter, after all, in spite of its
    splendour and its history; and the fact gave one an idea
    of the riches Paris had to draw on, since such scenes as
    this were left to the few and the indifferent.

    The day was fading into a soft sun-shot haze, pricked
    here and there by a yellow electric light, and passers
    were rare in the little square into which they had turned.
    Dallas stopped again, and looked up.

    "It must be here," he said, slipping his arm through
    his father's with a movement from which Archer's shyness
    did not shrink; and they stood together looking up
    at the house.

    It was a modern building, without distinctive character,
    but many-windowed, and pleasantly balconied up
    its wide cream-coloured front. On one of the upper
    balconies, which hung well above the rounded tops of
    the horse-chestnuts in the square, the awnings were still
    lowered, as though the sun had just left it.

    "I wonder which floor--?" Dallas conjectured; and
    moving toward the porte-cochere he put his head into
    the porter's lodge, and came back to say: "The fifth. It
    must be the one with the awnings."

    Archer remained motionless, gazing at the upper windows
    as if the end of their pilgrimage had been attained.

    "I say, you know, it's nearly six," his son at length
    reminded him.

    The father glanced away at an empty bench under
    the trees.

    "I believe I'll sit there a moment," he said.

    "Why--aren't you well?" his son exclaimed.

    "Oh, perfectly. But I should like you, please, to go
    up without me."

    Dallas paused before him, visibly bewildered. "But, I
    say, Dad: do you mean you won't come up at all?"

    "I don't know," said Archer slowly.

    "If you don't she won't understand."

    "Go, my boy; perhaps I shall follow you."

    Dallas gave him a long look through the twilight.

    "But what on earth shall I say?"

    "My dear fellow, don't you always know what to
    say?" his father rejoined with a smile.

    "Very well. I shall say you're old-fashioned, and
    prefer walking up the five flights because you don't like
    lifts."

    His father smiled again. "Say I'm old-fashioned: that's
    enough."

    Dallas looked at him again, and then, with an
    incredulous gesture, passed out of sight under the vaulted
    doorway.

    Archer sat down on the bench and continued to gaze
    at the awninged balcony. He calculated the time it
    would take his son to be carried up in the lift to the
    fifth floor, to ring the bell, and be admitted to the hall,
    and then ushered into the drawing-room. He pictured
    Dallas entering that room with his quick assured step
    and his delightful smile, and wondered if the people
    were right who said that his boy "took after him."

    Then he tried to see the persons already in the
    room--for probably at that sociable hour there would
    be more than one--and among them a dark lady, pale
    and dark, who would look up quickly, half rise, and
    hold out a long thin hand with three rings on it. . . . He
    thought she would be sitting in a sofa-corner near the
    fire, with azaleas banked behind her on a table.

    "It's more real to me here than if I went up," he
    suddenly heard himself say; and the fear lest that last
    shadow of reality should lose its edge kept him rooted
    to his seat as the minutes succeeded each other.

    He sat for a long time on the bench in the thickening
    dusk, his eyes never turning from the balcony. At length
    a light shone through the windows, and a moment later
    a man-servant came out on the balcony, drew up the
    awnings, and closed the shutters.

    At that, as if it had been the signal he waited for,
    Newland Archer got up slowly and walked back alone
    to his hotel.

    A Note on the Text

    The Age of Innocence first appeared in four large
    installments in The Pictorial Review, from July to
    October 1920. It was published that same year in book
    form by D. Appleton and Company in New York and in
    London. Wharton made extensive stylistic, punctuation,
    and spelling changes and revisions between the serial
    and book publication, and more than thirty subsequent
    changes were made after the second impression of the
    book edition had been run off. This authoritative text
    is reprinted from the Library of America edition of
    Novels by Edith Wharton, and is based on the sixth
    impression of the first edition, which incorporates the
    last set of extensive revisions that are obviously authorial.
    Chapter 34
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