10. Chapter X.
"Oh, well, no wonder mine were overshadowed by
Beaufort's," said Archer irritably. Then he remembered
that he had not put a card with the roses, and
was vexed at having spoken of them. He wanted to
say: "I called on your cousin yesterday," but hesitated.
If Madame Olenska had not spoken of his visit it might
seem awkward that he should. Yet not to do so gave
the affair an air of mystery that he disliked. To shake
off the question he began to talk of their own plans,
their future, and Mrs. Welland's insistence on a long
"If you call it long! Isabel Chivers and Reggie were
engaged for two years: Grace and Thorley for nearly a
year and a half. Why aren't we very well off as we
It was the traditional maidenly interrogation, and he
felt ashamed of himself for finding it singularly childish.
No doubt she simply echoed what was said for her;
but she was nearing her twenty-second birthday, and
he wondered at what age "nice" women began to
speak for themselves.
"Never, if we won't let them, I suppose," he mused,
and recalled his mad outburst to Mr. Sillerton Jackson:
"Women ought to be as free as we are--"
It would presently be his task to take the bandage
from this young woman's eyes, and bid her look forth
on the world. But how many generations of the women
who had gone to her making had descended bandaged
to the family vault? He shivered a little, remembering
some of the new ideas in his scientific books, and the
much-cited instance of the Kentucky cave-fish, which
had ceased to develop eyes because they had no use for
them. What if, when he had bidden May Welland to
open hers, they could only look out blankly at blankness?
"We might be much better off. We might be
altogether together--we might travel."
Her face lit up. "That would be lovely," she owned:
she would love to travel. But her mother would not
understand their wanting to do things so differently.
"As if the mere `differently' didn't account for it!"
the wooer insisted.