The Age of Innocence Chapter 31
After Archer leaves Mrs. Mingott, he heads to the Beauforts' home, where he hopes to find Ellen. He catches her as she is leaving, and tells her that he knows of her plan to stay in New York. They arrange to meet the next afternoon at the Art Museum.
At the museum, Archer and Ellen talk about their new situation. Neither knows what to do. They both agree that it's much harder to be so close to each other, almost within reach, but not quite.
Finally, Ellen comes up with a solution; she offers to spend one night with Archer, and then return to her husband to Europe. Archer is torn. He wants to sleep with her, but he knows that he'll lose her. In the end, he agrees, and they arrange to meet in two days.
May comes home late. She tells Archer that she and Ellen had ended up talking for a long time at Mrs. Mingott's home. Although she doesn't tell Archer what they talked about, Archer realizes that May hates Ellen, and that she is trying to overcome her hatred. The maturity that he had seen in her once before (in St. Augustine when she had offered to release him from the engagement) has returned. For a second, Archer almost confesses everything to May. Then the maturity leaves her, and she is once more the shallow wife he knows so well, although she is unusually affectionate.