9. Chapter IX.
The Duke said "Rather" from the depths of his
beard, and Archer withdrew with a stiffly circular bow
that made him feel as full of spine as a self-conscious
school-boy among careless and unnoticing elders.
He was not sorry for the denouement of his visit:
he only wished it had come sooner, and spared him a
certain waste of emotion. As he went out into the
wintry night, New York again became vast and imminent,
and May Welland the loveliest woman in it. He
turned into his florist's to send her the daily box of
lilies-of-the-valley which, to his confusion, he found he
had forgotten that morning.
As he wrote a word on his card and waited for an
envelope he glanced about the embowered shop, and
his eye lit on a cluster of yellow roses. He had never
seen any as sun-golden before, and his first impulse
was to send them to May instead of the lilies. But they
did not look like her--there was something too rich,
too strong, in their fiery beauty. In a sudden revulsion
of mood, and almost without knowing what he did, he
signed to the florist to lay the roses in another long
box, and slipped his card into a second envelope, on
which he wrote the name of the Countess Olenska;
then, just as he was turning away, he drew the card out
again, and left the empty envelope on the box.
"They'll go at once?" he enquired, pointing to the
The florist assured him that they would.