7. Chapter VII.
She and Mr. van der Luyden were so exactly alike
that Archer often wondered how, after forty years of
the closest conjugality, two such merged identities ever
separated themselves enough for anything as controversial
as a talking-over. But as neither had ever reached a
decision without prefacing it by this mysterious
conclave, Mrs. Archer and her son, having set forth their
case, waited resignedly for the familiar phrase.
Mrs. van der Luyden, however, who had seldom
surprised any one, now surprised them by reaching her
long hand toward the bell-rope.
"I think," she said, "I should like Henry to hear
what you have told me."
A footman appeared, to whom she gravely added:
"If Mr. van der Luyden has finished reading the
newspaper, please ask him to be kind enough to come."
She said "reading the newspaper" in the tone in
which a Minister's wife might have said: "Presiding at
a Cabinet meeting"--not from any arrogance of mind,
but because the habit of a life-time, and the attitude of
her friends and relations, had led her to consider Mr.
van der Luyden's least gesture as having an almost
Her promptness of action showed that she considered
the case as pressing as Mrs. Archer; but, lest she
should be thought to have committed herself in advance,
she added, with the sweetest look: "Henry always
enjoys seeing you, dear Adeline; and he will wish
to congratulate Newland."
The double doors had solemnly reopened and between
them appeared Mr. Henry van der Luyden, tall,
spare and frock-coated, with faded fair hair, a straight
nose like his wife's and the same look of frozen gentleness
in eyes that were merely pale grey instead of pale
Mr. van der Luyden greeted Mrs. Archer with cousinly
affability, proffered to Newland low-voiced
congratulations couched in the same language as his wife's,
and seated himself in one of the brocade armchairs
with the simplicity of a reigning sovereign.
"I had just finished reading the Times," he said,
laying his long finger-tips together. "In town my mornings
are so much occupied that I find it more convenient
to read the newspapers after luncheon."