The Age of Innocence Chapter 12
At Ellen's house, Archer finds Julius Beaufort trying to persuade the Countess to stay in the city rather than to vacation at Skuytercliff, the van der Luydens' country home, as she had planned. Beaufort tells Ellen about the wonderful events he has planned for her and the fascinating people she will meet if she stays. Ellen seems enthusiastic, but refuses to give him an immediate answer, saying that she needs to think it over before making a decision. Beaufort finally leaves, and Archer, to his relief, can now talk to Ellen alone.
Ellen has no idea why he wishes to speak to her. When Archer tells her that Mr. Letterblair sent him, she reacts with pleasure; she thinks that Archer, rather than Letterblair, will be handling her divorce. Archer, though, quickly tells her that he is here only to talk about it.
As they talk, Archer learns more about her desire to escape the painful past. In his heart he sympathizes with her, but also realizes he is caught in a difficult position. Archer must show Ellen how the Mingotts, the Wellands, the van der Luydens, and all the other people of New York society would view a divorced woman. Ellen has no desire to hurt her family. She reluctantly agrees that it would be unfair to them.
They sit in silence for a long time. Finally, Ellen tells Archer that she will do as he wishes. She will not go through with the divorce.
Archer, surprised by her sudden agreement, kisses her cold hands. He leaves the apartment thinking of the things he should have said, yet never did.