20. Chapter XX.
Of course we must dine with Mrs. Carfry, dearest,"
Archer said; and his wife looked at him with an
anxious frown across the monumental Britannia ware of
their lodging house breakfast-table.
In all the rainy desert of autumnal London there
were only two people whom the Newland Archers
knew; and these two they had sedulously avoided, in
conformity with the old New York tradition that it was
not "dignified" to force one's self on the notice of one's
acquaintances in foreign countries.
Mrs. Archer and Janey, in the course of their visits to
Europe, had so unflinchingly lived up to this principle,
and met the friendly advances of their fellow-travellers
with an air of such impenetrable reserve, that they had
almost achieved the record of never having exchanged
a word with a "foreigner" other than those employed
in hotels and railway-stations. Their own compatriots--
save those previously known or properly accredited--
they treated with an even more pronounced disdain; so
that, unless they ran across a Chivers, a Dagonet or a
Mingott, their months abroad were spent in an unbroken
tete-a-tete. But the utmost precautions are sometimes
unavailing; and one night at Botzen one of the
two English ladies in the room across the passage (whose
names, dress and social situation were already intimately
known to Janey) had knocked on the door and
asked if Mrs. Archer had a bottle of liniment. The
other lady--the intruder's sister, Mrs. Carfry--had been
seized with a sudden attack of bronchitis; and Mrs.
Archer, who never travelled without a complete family
pharmacy, was fortunately able to produce the required
Mrs. Carfry was very ill, and as she and her sister
Miss Harle were travelling alone they were profoundly
grateful to the Archer ladies, who supplied them with
ingenious comforts and whose efficient maid helped to
nurse the invalid back to health.