The Age of Innocence eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 300 pages of information about The Age of Innocence.

“I don’t care which of their visions comes true,” Archer mused, “as long as the tunnel isn’t built yet.”  In his senseless school-boy happiness he pictured Madame Olenska’s descent from the train, his discovery of her a long way off, among the throngs of meaningless faces, her clinging to his arm as he guided her to the carriage, their slow approach to the wharf among slipping horses, laden carts, vociferating teamsters, and then the startling quiet of the ferry-boat, where they would sit side by side under the snow, in the motionless carriage, while the earth seemed to glide away under them, rolling to the other side of the sun.  It was incredible, the number of things he had to say to her, and in what eloquent order they were forming themselves on his lips . . .

The clanging and groaning of the train came nearer, and it staggered slowly into the station like a prey-laden monster into its lair.  Archer pushed forward, elbowing through the crowd, and staring blindly into window after window of the high-hung carriages.  And then, suddenly, he saw Madame Olenska’s pale and surprised face close at hand, and had again the mortified sensation of having forgotten what she looked like.

They reached each other, their hands met, and he drew her arm through his.  “This way—­I have the carriage,” he said.

After that it all happened as he had dreamed.  He helped her into the brougham with her bags, and had afterward the vague recollection of having properly reassured her about her grandmother and given her a summary of the Beaufort situation (he was struck by the softness of her:  “Poor Regina!").  Meanwhile the carriage had worked its way out of the coil about the station, and they were crawling down the slippery incline to the wharf, menaced by swaying coal-carts, bewildered horses, dishevelled express-wagons, and an empty hearse—­ah, that hearse!  She shut her eyes as it passed, and clutched at Archer’s hand.

“If only it doesn’t mean—­poor Granny!”

“Oh, no, no—­she’s much better—­she’s all right, really.  There—­we’ve passed it!” he exclaimed, as if that made all the difference.  Her hand remained in his, and as the carriage lurched across the gang-plank onto the ferry he bent over, unbuttoned her tight brown glove, and kissed her palm as if he had kissed a relic.  She disengaged herself with a faint smile, and he said:  “You didn’t expect me today?”

“Oh, no.”

“I meant to go to Washington to see you.  I’d made all my arrangements—­I very nearly crossed you in the train.”

“Oh—­” she exclaimed, as if terrified by the narrowness of their escape.

“Do you know—­I hardly remembered you?”

“Hardly remembered me?”

“I mean:  how shall I explain?  I—­it’s always so.  Each time you happen to me all over again.”

“Oh, yes:  I know!  I know!”

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Project Gutenberg
The Age of Innocence from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.