28. Chapter XXVIII.
Ol-ol--howjer spell it, anyhow?" asked the tart
young lady to whom Archer had pushed his wife's
telegram across the brass ledge of the Western Union
"Olenska--O-len-ska," he repeated, drawing back
the message in order to print out the foreign syllables
above May's rambling script.
"It's an unlikely name for a New York telegraph
office; at least in this quarter," an unexpected voice
observed; and turning around Archer saw Lawrence
Lefferts at his elbow, pulling an imperturbable moustache
and affecting not to glance at the message.
"Hallo, Newland: thought I'd catch you here. I've
just heard of old Mrs. Mingott's stroke; and as I was
on my way to the house I saw you turning down this
street and nipped after you. I suppose you've come
Archer nodded, and pushed his telegram under the
"Very bad, eh?" Lefferts continued. "Wiring to the
family, I suppose. I gather it IS bad, if you're including
Archer's lips stiffened; he felt a savage impulse to
dash his fist into the long vain handsome face at his side.
"Why?" he questioned.
Lefferts, who was known to shrink from discussion,
raised his eye-brows with an ironic grimace that warned
the other of the watching damsel behind the lattice.
Nothing could be worse "form" the look reminded
Archer, than any display of temper in a public place.
Archer had never been more indifferent to the
requirements of form; but his impulse to do Lawrence
Lefferts a physical injury was only momentary. The
idea of bandying Ellen Olenska's name with him at
such a time, and on whatsoever provocation, was
unthinkable. He paid for his telegram, and the two young
men went out together into the street. There Archer,
having regained his self-control, went on: "Mrs. Mingott
is much better: the doctor feels no anxiety whatever";
and Lefferts, with profuse expressions of relief,
asked him if he had heard that there were beastly bad
rumours again about Beaufort. . . .