10. Chapter X.
The next day he persuaded May to escape for a walk
in the Park after luncheon. As was the custom in
old-fashioned Episcopalian New York, she usually
accompanied her parents to church on Sunday afternoons;
but Mrs. Welland condoned her truancy, having that
very morning won her over to the necessity of a long
engagement, with time to prepare a hand-embroidered
trousseau containing the proper number of dozens.
The day was delectable. The bare vaulting of trees
along the Mall was ceiled with lapis lazuli, and arched
above snow that shone like splintered crystals. It was
the weather to call out May's radiance, and she burned
like a young maple in the frost. Archer was proud of
the glances turned on her, and the simple joy of
possessorship cleared away his underlying perplexities.
"It's so delicious--waking every morning to smell
lilies-of-the-valley in one's room!" she said.
"Yesterday they came late. I hadn't time in the
"But your remembering each day to send them makes
me love them so much more than if you'd given a
standing order, and they came every morning on the
minute, like one's music-teacher--as I know Gertrude
Lefferts's did, for instance, when she and Lawrence
"Ah--they would!" laughed Archer, amused at her
keenness. He looked sideways at her fruit-like cheek
and felt rich and secure enough to add: "When I sent
your lilies yesterday afternoon I saw some rather
gorgeous yellow roses and packed them off to Madame
Olenska. Was that right?"
"How dear of you! Anything of that kind delights
her. It's odd she didn't mention it: she lunched with us
today, and spoke of Mr. Beaufort's having sent her
wonderful orchids, and cousin Henry van der Luyden a
whole hamper of carnations from Skuytercliff. She seems
so surprised to receive flowers. Don't people send them
in Europe? She thinks it such a pretty custom."