“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.