34. Chapter XXXIV.
Newland Archer sat at the writing-table in his library
in East Thirty-ninth Street.
He had just got back from a big official reception for
the inauguration of the new galleries at the Metropolitan
Museum, and the spectacle of those great spaces
crowded with the spoils of the ages, where the throng
of fashion circulated through a series of scientifically
catalogued treasures, had suddenly pressed on a rusted
spring of memory.
"Why, this used to be one of the old Cesnola rooms,"
he heard some one say; and instantly everything about
him vanished, and he was sitting alone on a hard
leather divan against a radiator, while a slight figure in
a long sealskin cloak moved away down the meagrely-fitted vista of the old Museum.
The vision had roused a host of other associations,
and he sat looking with new eyes at the library which,
for over thirty years, had been the scene of his solitary
musings and of all the family confabulations.
It was the room in which most of the real things of
his life had happened. There his wife, nearly twenty-six
years ago, had broken to him, with a blushing
circumlocution that would have caused the young women of
the new generation to smile, the news that she was to
have a child; and there their eldest boy, Dallas, too
delicate to be taken to church in midwinter, had been
christened by their old friend the Bishop of New York,
the ample magnificent irreplaceable Bishop, so long the
pride and ornament of his diocese. There Dallas had
first staggered across the floor shouting "Dad," while
May and the nurse laughed behind the door; there their
second child, Mary (who was so like her mother), had
announced her engagement to the dullest and most
reliable of Reggie Chivers's many sons; and there Archer
had kissed her through her wedding veil before they
went down to the motor which was to carry them to
Grace Church--for in a world where all else had reeled
on its foundations the "Grace Church wedding"
remained an unchanged institution.
It was in the library that he and May had always
discussed the future of the children: the studies of
Dallas and his young brother Bill, Mary's incurable
indifference to "accomplishments," and passion for
sport and philanthropy, and the vague leanings toward
"art" which had finally landed the restless and curious
Dallas in the office of a rising New York architect.