13. Chapter XIII.
It was impossible for Archer to discuss the necessity
of May's accompanying her father. The reputation of
the Mingotts' family physician was largely based on the
attack of pneumonia which Mr. Welland had never
had; and his insistence on St. Augustine was therefore
inflexible. Originally, it had been intended that May's
engagement should not be announced till her return
from Florida, and the fact that it had been made known
sooner could not be expected to alter Mr. Welland's
plans. Archer would have liked to join the travellers
and have a few weeks of sunshine and boating with his
betrothed; but he too was bound by custom and
conventions. Little arduous as his professional duties were,
he would have been convicted of frivolity by the whole
Mingott clan if he had suggested asking for a holiday
in mid-winter; and he accepted May's departure with
the resignation which he perceived would have to be
one of the principal constituents of married life.
He was conscious that Madame Olenska was looking
at him under lowered lids. "I have done what you
wished--what you advised," she said abruptly.
"Ah--I'm glad," he returned, embarrassed by her
broaching the subject at such a moment.
"I understand--that you were right," she went on a
little breathlessly; "but sometimes life is difficult . . .
perplexing. . ."
"And I wanted to tell you that I DO feel you were
right; and that I'm grateful to you," she ended, lifting
her opera-glass quickly to her eyes as the door of the
box opened and Beaufort's resonant voice broke in on
Archer stood up, and left the box and the theatre.