7. Chapter VII.
"Ah, there's a great deal to be said for that plan--
indeed I think my uncle Egmont used to say he found it
less agitating not to read the morning papers till after
dinner," said Mrs. Archer responsively.
"Yes: my good father abhorred hurry. But now we
live in a constant rush," said Mr. van der Luyden in
measured tones, looking with pleasant deliberation about
the large shrouded room which to Archer was so complete
an image of its owners.
"But I hope you HAD finished your reading, Henry?"
his wife interposed.
"Quite--quite," he reassured her.
"Then I should like Adeline to tell you--"
"Oh, it's really Newland's story," said his mother
smiling; and proceeded to rehearse once more the monstrous
tale of the affront inflicted on Mrs. Lovell Mingott.
"Of course," she ended, "Augusta Welland and Mary
Mingott both felt that, especially in view of Newland's
engagement, you and Henry OUGHT TO KNOW."
"Ah--" said Mr. van der Luyden, drawing a deep
There was a silence during which the tick of the
monumental ormolu clock on the white marble mantelpiece
grew as loud as the boom of a minute-gun. Archer
contemplated with awe the two slender faded figures,
seated side by side in a kind of viceregal rigidity,
mouthpieces of some remote ancestral authority which fate
compelled them to wield, when they would so much
rather have lived in simplicity and seclusion, digging
invisible weeds out of the perfect lawns of Skuytercliff,
and playing Patience together in the evenings.
Mr. van der Luyden was the first to speak.
"You really think this is due to some--some
intentional interference of Lawrence Lefferts's?" he enquired,
turning to Archer.