24. Chapter XXIV.
They lunched slowly and meditatively, with mute
intervals between rushes of talk; for, the spell once
broken, they had much to say, and yet moments when
saying became the mere accompaniment to long duologues
of silence. Archer kept the talk from his own
affairs, not with conscious intention but because he did
not want to miss a word of her history; and leaning on
the table, her chin resting on her clasped hands, she
talked to him of the year and a half since they had met.
She had grown tired of what people called "society";
New York was kind, it was almost oppressively
hospitable; she should never forget the way in which it had
welcomed her back; but after the first flush of novelty
she had found herself, as she phrased it, too "different"
to care for the things it cared about--and so she had
decided to try Washington, where one was supposed to
meet more varieties of people and of opinion. And on
the whole she should probably settle down in Washington,
and make a home there for poor Medora, who
had worn out the patience of all her other relations just
at the time when she most needed looking after and
protecting from matrimonial perils.
"But Dr. Carver--aren't you afraid of Dr. Carver? I
hear he's been staying with you at the Blenkers'."
She smiled. "Oh, the Carver danger is over. Dr.
Carver is a very clever man. He wants a rich wife to
finance his plans, and Medora is simply a good
advertisement as a convert."
"A convert to what?"
"To all sorts of new and crazy social schemes. But,
do you know, they interest me more than the blind
conformity to tradition--somebody else's tradition--that
I see among our own friends. It seems stupid to have
discovered America only to make it into a copy of another
country." She smiled across the table. "Do you suppose
Christopher Columbus would have taken all that trouble
just to go to the Opera with the Selfridge Merrys?"
Archer changed colour. "And Beaufort--do you say
these things to Beaufort?" he asked abruptly.