17. Chapter XVII.
Your cousin the Countess called on mother while
you were away," Janey Archer announced to her
brother on the evening of his return.
The young man, who was dining alone with his
mother and sister, glanced up in surprise and saw Mrs.
Archer's gaze demurely bent on her plate. Mrs. Archer
did not regard her seclusion from the world as a reason
for being forgotten by it; and Newland guessed that
she was slightly annoyed that he should be surprised by
Madame Olenska's visit.
"She had on a black velvet polonaise with jet
buttons, and a tiny green monkey muff; I never saw her so
stylishly dressed," Janey continued. "She came alone,
early on Sunday afternoon; luckily the fire was lit in
the drawing-room. She had one of those new card-cases. She said she wanted to know us because you'd
been so good to her."
Newland laughed. "Madame Olenska always takes
that tone about her friends. She's very happy at being
among her own people again."
"Yes, so she told us," said Mrs. Archer. "I must say
she seems thankful to be here."
"I hope you liked her, mother."
Mrs. Archer drew her lips together. "She certainly
lays herself out to please, even when she is calling on
an old lady."
"Mother doesn't think her simple," Janey interjected,
her eyes screwed upon her brother's face.
"It's just my old-fashioned feeling; dear May is my
ideal," said Mrs. Archer.
"Ah," said her son, "they're not alike."
Archer had left St. Augustine charged with many
messages for old Mrs. Mingott; and a day or two after his
return to town he called on her.
The old lady received him with unusual warmth; she
was grateful to him for persuading the Countess Olenska
to give up the idea of a divorce; and when he told her
that he had deserted the office without leave, and rushed
down to St. Augustine simply because he wanted to see
May, she gave an adipose chuckle and patted his knee
with her puff-ball hand.