Newland Archer, during this brief episode, had been thrown into a strange state of embarrassment.
But when he had gone the brief round of her he returned discouraged by the thought that all this frankness and innocence were only an artificial product.
She drooped her head a little lower, and he waited again, intensely hoping for a flash of indignation, or at least a brief cry of denial.
He had meant to tell May of the Countess Olenska’s request—her command, rather—that he should call on her that afternoon; but in the brief moments when they were alone he had had more pressing things to say.
From the tone of the club box he had perceived how grave a mistake that would be; and, though he was more than ever determined to "see the thing through," he felt less chivalrously eager to champion his betrothed’s cousin than before their brief talk at the Opera.
But now it was the Welland house, and the life he was expected to lead in it, that had become unreal and irrelevant, and the brief scene on the shore, when he had stood irresolute, halfway down the bank, was as close to him as the blood in his veins.
In his brief letter to her he had made no allusion to M. Riviere’s visit, and his intention had been to bury the incident in his bosom.
He was a pure man of letters, untimely born in a world that had no need of letters; but after publishing one volume of brief and exquisite literary appreciations, of which one hundred and twenty copies were sold, thirty given away, and the balance eventually destroyed by the publishers (as per contract) to make room for more marketable material, he had abandoned his real calling, and taken a sub-editorial job on a women’s weekly, where fashion-plates and paper patterns alternated with…