In the spring twilight the train stopped at the Rhinebeck station, and they walked along the platform to the waiting carriage.
“Ah, how awfully kind of the van der Luydens— they’ve sent their man over from Skuytercliff to meet us,” Archer exclaimed, as a sedate person out of livery approached them and relieved the maid of her bags.
“I’m extremely sorry, sir,” said this emissary, “that a little accident has occurred at the Miss du Lacs’: a leak in the water-tank. It happened yesterday, and Mr. van der Luyden, who heard of it this morning, sent a housemaid up by the early train to get the Patroon’s house ready. It will be quite comfortable, I think you’ll find, sir; and the Miss du Lacs have sent their cook over, so that it will be exactly the same as if you’d been at Rhinebeck.”
Archer stared at the speaker so blankly that he repeated in still more apologetic accents: “It’ll be exactly the same, sir, I do assure you—” and May’s eager voice broke out, covering the embarrassed silence: “The same as Rhinebeck? The Patroon’s house? But it will be a hundred thousand times better—won’t it, Newland? It’s too dear and kind of Mr. van der Luyden to have thought of it.”
And as they drove off, with the maid beside the coachman, and their shining bridal bags on the seat before them, she went on excitedly: “Only fancy, I’ve never been inside it—have you? The van der Luydens show it to so few people. But they opened it for Ellen, it seems, and she told me what a darling little place it was: she says it’s the only house she’s seen in America that she could imagine being perfectly happy in.”
“Well—that’s what we’re going to be, isn’t it?” cried her husband gaily; and she answered with her boyish smile: “Ah, it’s just our luck beginning—the wonderful luck we’re always going to have together!”
“Of course we must dine with Mrs. Carfry, dearest,” Archer said; and his wife looked at him with an anxious frown across the monumental Britannia ware of their lodging house breakfast-table.
In all the rainy desert of autumnal London there were only two people whom the Newland Archers knew; and these two they had sedulously avoided, in conformity with the old New York tradition that it was not “dignified” to force one’s self on the notice of one’s acquaintances in foreign countries.
Mrs. Archer and Janey, in the course of their visits to Europe, had so unflinchingly lived up to this principle, and met the friendly advances of their fellow-travellers with an air of such impenetrable reserve, that they had almost achieved the record of never having exchanged a word with a “foreigner” other than those employed in hotels and railway-stations. Their own compatriots— save those previously known or properly accredited— they treated with an even more pronounced disdain; so that, unless they ran across a Chivers, a Dagonet or a Mingott,