The Age of Innocence eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 384 pages of information about The Age of Innocence.

He wandered back to the club, and went and sat alone in the deserted library, turning and turning over in his thoughts every separate second of their hours together.  It was clear to him, and it grew more clear under closer scrutiny, that if she should finally decide on returning to Europe—­returning to her husband—­it would not be because her old life tempted her, even on the new terms offered.  No:  she would go only if she felt herself becoming a temptation to Archer, a temptation to fall away from the standard they had both set up.  Her choice would be to stay near him as long as he did not ask her to come nearer; and it depended on himself to keep her just there, safe but secluded.

In the train these thoughts were still with him.  They enclosed him in a kind of golden haze, through which the faces about him looked remote and indistinct:  he had a feeling that if he spoke to his fellow-travellers they would not understand what he was saying.  In this state of abstraction he found himself, the following morning, waking to the reality of a stifling September day in New York.  The heat-withered faces in the long train streamed past him, and he continued to stare at them through the same golden blur; but suddenly, as he left the station, one of the faces detached itself, came closer and forced itself upon his consciousness.  It was, as he instantly recalled, the face of the young man he had seen, the day before, passing out of the Parker House, and had noted as not conforming to type, as not having an American hotel face.

The same thing struck him now; and again he became aware of a dim stir of former associations.  The young man stood looking about him with the dazed air of the foreigner flung upon the harsh mercies of American travel; then he advanced toward Archer, lifted his hat, and said in English:  “Surely, Monsieur, we met in London?”

“Ah, to be sure:  in London!” Archer grasped his hand with curiosity and sympathy.  “So you did get here, after all?” he exclaimed, casting a wondering eye on the astute and haggard little countenance of young Carfry’s French tutor.

“Oh, I got here—­yes,” M. Riviere smiled with drawn lips.  “But not for long; I return the day after tomorrow.”  He stood grasping his light valise in one neatly gloved hand, and gazing anxiously, perplexedly, almost appealingly, into Archer’s face.

“I wonder, Monsieur, since I’ve had the good luck to run across you, if I might—­”

“I was just going to suggest it:  come to luncheon, won’t you?  Down town, I mean:  if you’ll look me up in my office I’ll take you to a very decent restaurant in that quarter.”

M. Riviere was visibly touched and surprised.  “You’re too kind.  But I was only going to ask if you would tell me how to reach some sort of conveyance.  There are no porters, and no one here seems to listen—­”

“I know:  our American stations must surprise you.  When you ask for a porter they give you chewing-gum.  But if you’ll come along I’ll extricate you; and you must really lunch with me, you know.”

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The Age of Innocence from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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