32. Chapter XXXII.
Now, across the Skuytercliff carnations and the massive
plate, she struck him as pale and languid; but her
eyes shone, and she talked with exaggerated animation.
The subject which had called forth Mr. Sillerton
Jackson's favourite allusion had been brought up (Archer
fancied not without intention) by their hostess. The
Beaufort failure, or rather the Beaufort attitude since
the failure, was still a fruitful theme for the drawing-room moralist; and after it had been thoroughly examined
and condemned Mrs. van der Luyden had turned
her scrupulous eyes on May Archer.
"Is it possible, dear, that what I hear is true? I was
told your grandmother Mingott's carriage was seen
standing at Mrs. Beaufort's door." It was noticeable
that she no longer called the offending lady by her
May's colour rose, and Mrs. Archer put in hastily:
"If it was, I'm convinced it was there without Mrs.
"Ah, you think--?" Mrs. van der Luyden paused,
sighed, and glanced at her husband.
"I'm afraid," Mr. van der Luyden said, "that Madame
Olenska's kind heart may have led her into the
imprudence of calling on Mrs. Beaufort."
"Or her taste for peculiar people," put in Mrs. Archer
in a dry tone, while her eyes dwelt innocently on her
"I'm sorry to think it of Madame Olenska," said
Mrs. van der Luyden; and Mrs. Archer murmured:
"Ah, my dear--and after you'd had her twice at
It was at this point that Mr. Jackson seized the
chance to place his favourite allusion.
"At the Tuileries," he repeated, seeing the eyes of the
company expectantly turned on him, "the standard
was excessively lax in some respects; and if you'd asked
where Morny's money came from--! Or who paid the
debts of some of the Court beauties . . ."
"I hope, dear Sillerton," said Mrs. Archer, "you are
not suggesting that we should adopt such standards?"