The Age of Innocence eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 300 pages of information about The Age of Innocence.
table, the whole chain of tyrannical trifles binding one hour to the next, and each member of the household to all the others, made any less systematised and affluent existence seem unreal and precarious.  But now it was the Welland house, and the life he was expected to lead in it, that had become unreal and irrelevant, and the brief scene on the shore, when he had stood irresolute, halfway down the bank, was as close to him as the blood in his veins.

All night he lay awake in the big chintz bedroom at May’s side, watching the moonlight slant along the carpet, and thinking of Ellen Olenska driving home across the gleaming beaches behind Beaufort’s trotters.

XXII.

A party for the Blenkers—­the Blenkers?”

Mr. Welland laid down his knife and fork and looked anxiously and incredulously across the luncheon-table at his wife, who, adjusting her gold eye-glasses, read aloud, in the tone of high comedy:  “Professor and Mrs. Emerson Sillerton request the pleasure of Mr. and Mrs. Welland’s company at the meeting of the Wednesday Afternoon Club on August 25th at 3 o’clock punctually.  To meet Mrs. and the Misses Blenker.  “Red Gables, Catherine Street.  R. S. V. P.”

“Good gracious—­” Mr. Welland gasped, as if a second reading had been necessary to bring the monstrous absurdity of the thing home to him.

“Poor Amy Sillerton—­you never can tell what her husband will do next,” Mrs. Welland sighed.  “I suppose he’s just discovered the Blenkers.”

Professor Emerson Sillerton was a thorn in the side of Newport society; and a thorn that could not be plucked out, for it grew on a venerable and venerated family tree.  He was, as people said, a man who had had “every advantage.”  His father was Sillerton Jackson’s uncle, his mother a Pennilow of Boston; on each side there was wealth and position, and mutual suitability.  Nothing—­as Mrs. Welland had often remarked—­ nothing on earth obliged Emerson Sillerton to be an archaeologist, or indeed a Professor of any sort, or to live in Newport in winter, or do any of the other revolutionary things that he did.  But at least, if he was going to break with tradition and flout society in the face, he need not have married poor Amy Dagonet, who had a right to expect “something different,” and money enough to keep her own carriage.

No one in the Mingott set could understand why Amy Sillerton had submitted so tamely to the eccentricities of a husband who filled the house with long-haired men and short-haired women, and, when he travelled, took her to explore tombs in Yucatan instead of going to Paris or Italy.  But there they were, set in their ways, and apparently unaware that they were different from other people; and when they gave one of their dreary annual garden-parties every family on the Cliffs, because of the Sillerton-Pennilow-Dagonet connection, had to draw lots and send an unwilling representative.

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The Age of Innocence from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.