Voila! Finally, the Age Of Innocence
script is here for all you quotes spouting fans of the movie directed by Martin Scorsese
based on the Edith Wharton novel starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer,
and Winona Ryder. This script is a transcript that was painstakingly
transcribed using the screenplay and/or viewings of Age Of Innocence. If you have any corrections, feel free to
drop me a line. You won't
hurt my feelings. Honest.
[At the Theatre in the evening. Newland Archer enters the box.
Steps to the front, joining the company of several men, including
Larry Lefferts and Sillerton Jackson. Larry looks at stage
through pearl opera glasses. Then he swings his opera glasses
away from the stage and toward another box. He sees the figure of
a woman entering a box across the way. Although the woman,
silhouetted against candles, is still indistinct and mysterious
to us, he recognizes her and reacts with controlled surprise]
I didn't think the Mingotts would have tried it on.
Parading her at the opera like that. Sitting her next to May
Welland. It's all very odd.
Well, she's had such an odd life.
Will they even bring her to the Beauforts' ball, do you suppose?
If they do, the talk will be little else.
[Archer looks at his companions in the box with just a suggestion
of impatience. Then he turns and leaves]
[Archer goes to the box where May Welland is]
May. Mrs. Welland. Good evening.
Newland. You know my niece Countess Olenska.
[Archer bows with the suggestion of reserve. Countess Olenska
replies with a nod. Newland sits beside May and speaks softly]
I hope you've told Madame Olenska.
That we're engaged. I want everybody to know. Let me announce it
this evening atthe ball.
If you can persuade Mamma. But why should we change what is
[Archer has no answer for this that is appropriate for this time
and place. May senses his frustration and adds, smiling. . . ]
But you can tell my cousin yourself. She remembers you.
I remember we played together. Being here again makes me remember
[She gestures out across the theatre]
I see everybody the same way, dressed in knickerbockers and
[Archers sits beside her]
You were horrid. You kissed me once behind a door. But it was
your cousin Vandy,the one who never looked at me, I was in love
Yes, you have been away a very long time.
Oh, centuries and centuries. So long I'm sure I'm dead and
buried, and this dearold place is heaven.
[As they end, the voice of the narrator fades up]
[In another box, Mrs. Julius Beaufort
draws up her opera cloak about her shoulders. As she does this
and leaves the box, we hear. . . ]
It invariably happened, as everything happened in those days, in
the same way. Asusual, Mrs. Julius Beaufort appeared just before
the Jewel Song and, again as usual,rose at the end of the third
act and disappeared. New York then knew that, ahalf-hour later,
her annual opera ball would begin.
[Street outside the theatre
at night. A line of carriages drawn up in front of the Academy
of Music. Mrs. Beaufort climbs in a carriage at the front of the
line and drives away]
Carriages waited at the curb for the entire performance. It was
widely known in NewYork, but never acknowledged, that Americans
want to get away from amusement evenmore quickly than they want
to get to it.
[Ballroom at the Beaufort House]
The Beauforts' house was one of the few in New York that
possessed a ballroom. Sucha room, shuttered in darkness three
hundred and sixty-four days of the year, wasfelt to compensate
for whatever was regrettable in the Beaufort past. ReginaBeaufort
came from an old South Carolina family, but her husband Julius,
who passedfor an Englishman, was known to have dissipated habits,
a bitter tongue andmysterious antecedents. His marriage assured
him a social position, but notnecessarily respect.
[Ballroom at the Beaufort House during the ball. An orchestra
plays and dancers swoop by. Archer enters and hands his cape and
hat to a servant, greets another guest and accepts several pair
of dancing gloves. Archer climbs the stairs and greets Regina
The house had been boldly planned. Instead of squeezing through a
narrow passage toget to the ballroom one marched solemnly down a
vista of enfiladed drawing roomsseeing from afar the many-candled
lusters reflected in the polished parquetry andbeyond that the
depths of a conservatory where camellias and tree ferns arched
theircostly foliage over seats of black and gold bamboo. But only
by actually passingthrough the crimson drawing room could one see
"Return of Spring," themuch-discussed nude by Bougeureau, which
Beaufort had had the audacity to hang inplain sight. Archer had
not gone back to his club after the Opera, as young menusually
did, but had walked for some distance up Fifth Avenue before
turning back inthe direction of the Beauforts'. He was definitely
afraid that the family might begoing too far and would bring the
Countess Olenska. He was more than everdetermined to "see the
thing through," but he felt less chivalrously inclined todefend
the Countess after their brief talk at the opera.
[Archer enters the ballroom. The first man he sees is Larry
Lefferts, deep in conversation with an attractive young woman]
On the whole, Lawrence Lefferts was the foremost authority on
"form" in New York. On the question of pumps versus patent-
leather Oxfords, his authority had never beendisputed.
[Archer continues through the party. Holding court and amusing a
group of older women is Sillerton Jackson]
Old Mr. Sillerton Jackson was as great an authority on "family"
as Lawrence Leffertswas on "form. "In addition to a forest of
family trees, he carried a register ofthe scandals and mysteries
that had smouldered under the unruffled surface ofsociety for the
past fifty years.
[Archer continues moving throught he party. Julius Beaufort
crosses in front him, conversing with a guest]
But I didn't see you there this evening. Madame Nilsson was in
such splendid voice.
The usual splendor, I'm sure.
Julius Beaufort had speedily made a name for himself in the world
of affairs. Hissecret, all were agreed, was the way he carried
things off. His social obligationsand the rumors that perpetually
swirled around him, all were borne easily beforehim.
[May Welland is surrounded by gleeful friends who are obviously
reacting to her engagement announcement. Archer and May are in
another room behind a tall screen of ferns and camellias. Archer
kisses May's hand]
You see, I told all my friends. Just as you asked.
Yes, I couldn't wait. Only wish it hadn't had to be at a ball.
Yes, I know. But after all, even here we're alone together aren't
Always. The worst of it is. . .
[He takes a quick look around the room
no one's nearby]
. . . that I want to kiss you and I can't.
[He does it anyways which pleasure and surprises May. They walk
to a sofa, which affords a bit of privacy, and sit]
Did you tell Ellen, as I asked you?
No. I didn't have the chance after all.
She's my cousin, if others know before she does. . . It's just
that she's been away forso long that she's rather sensitive.
Of course I'll tell her, dearest. But I haven't seen her yet.
She decided not to come at the last minute.
At the last minute?
She was afraid her dress wasn't smart enough. We all thought it
was so lovely, butshe asked my aunt to take her home.
[Archer smiles, May smiles back. They get up and go back to the
ballroom to dance]
[In a sitting room the next day. Mrs. Manson Mingott is admiring
a large thick sapphire set in invisible claws]
Very handsome. Very liberal. In my time a cameo set in pearls was
thought to besufficient.
It's the new setting. Of course it shows the stone beautifully,
but it looks bareold-fashioned eyes.
I hope you don't mean mine, my dear. I like all the novelties.
But it's the handthat sets off the ring, isn't it, my dear Mr.
Archer? My hands were modeled inParis by the great Rochee. He
should do May's.
[She reaches out for May's hand]
Her hand is tempered. It's these modern sports that spread the
joints. But theskin is white.
(staring straight at Archer)
And when's the wedding to be?
(a little flustered)
Oh. . .
As soon as ever it can. If only you'll back me up, Mrs. Mingott.
We must give them time to know each other a little better, mamma.
Know each other? Everybody in New York has always known
everybody. Don't wait tillthe bubble's off the wine. Marry them
before Lent. I may catch pneumonia anywinter now, and I want to
give the wedding breakfast.
Mrs. Manson Mingott was, of course, the first to receive the
required betrothalvisit. Much of New York was already related to
her, and she knew the remainder bymarriage or by reputation.
Though brownstone was the norm, she lived magisteriallywithin a
large house of controversial pale cream-colored stone, in an
inaccessiblewilderness near the Central Park.
The burden of her flesh had long since made it impossible for her
to go up and downstairs. So with characteristic independence she
had established herself on theground floor of her house. From her
sitting room, there was an unexpected vista ofher bedroom.
Her visitors were startled and fascinated by the foreignness of
this arrangement,which recalled scenes in French fiction. This
was how women with lovers lived inthe wicked old societies. But
if Mrs. Mingott had wanted a lover, the intrepidwoman would have
had him too.
But she was content, at this moment in her life, simply to sit in
a window of hersitting room, waiting calmly for life and fashion
to flow northward to her solitarydoors, for her patience was
equalled by her confidence.
[Archer, May and Mrs. Welland are saying their goodbyes as they
get ready to leave. Ellen Olenska and Julius Beaufort enter as
Beaufort!This is a rare favor.
Unnecessarily rare, I'd say. But I met Countess Ellen in Madison
Square, and shewas good enough to let me walk home with her.
This house will be merrier now that she's here. Push up that
tuffet. I want a goodgossip.
[Ellen looks at Archer with a questioning smile]
Of course you already know. About May and me. She scolded me for
not telling youat the opera.
Of course I know. And I'm so glad. One doesn't tell such news
first in a crowd.
[Ellen hols her hand out to Archer]
Good-bye. Come and see me some day.
[Outside the Mingott House. Archer follows May and her mother
into their waiting carriage]
It's a mistake for Ellen to be seen parading up Fifth Avenue with
Julius Beaufort atthe crowded hour. The very day after her
[The carriage pulls away from the curb]
[Dining Room at the Archer House in the evening. Archer is having
dinner with his mother Adeline, sister Janey and Sillerton
Mrs. Archer and her daughter Janey were both shy women and
shrank from society. Butthey liked to be well informed of its
(in the midst of holding forth)
Certain nuances escape Beaufort.
Oh, necessarily. Beaufort is a vulgar man.
Nevertheless, no business nuances escape him. Most of New York
trusts him with itsaffairs.
My grandfather Newland always used to say to mother, "Don't let
that fellow Beaufortbe introduced to girls. "But at least he's
had the advantage of associating withgentlemen. Even in England,
they say. It's all very mysterious.
As far back as anyone could remember, New York had been divided
into two great clans. Among the Mingotts you could dine on
canvasback duck, terrapin and vintage wines. At the Archers, you
could talk about Alpine scenery and "The Marble Faun" but receive
tepid Veuve Cliquot without a year and warmed-up croquettes from
And the Countess Olenska. . . was she at the ball too?
I appreciate the Mingotts wanting to support her, and have her at
the opera. Iadmire their esprit de corps. But why my son's
engagement should be mixed up withthat woman's comings and goings
I don't see.
Well, in any case, she was not at the ball.
At least she had that decency.
[Jackson glances at the portraits of the Archer family
antecedents on the wall, and fixes on one of a well-fed, slightly
flush older man. He looks over at Archer, who is watching him
with bemused understanding]
Ah, how your grandfather appreciated a good meal, Newland.
I wonder if she wears a round hat or a bonnet in the afternoon.
The dress she woreto the opera was so plain and flat. . .
Yes, I'm sure it was in better taste not to go to the ball.
I don't think it was a question of taste, mother. May said the
countess decided herdress wasn't smart enough.
Poor Ellen. We must always remember what an eccentric bringing-up
Medora Mansongave her. What can you expect of a girl who was
allowed to wear black satin at hercoming-out ball?
It's odd she should have kept such an ugly name as Ellen when she
married the Count. I should have changed it to Elaine.
I don't know. It sounds more. . . Polish.
It certainly sounds more conspicuous. And that can hardly be what
Why not? Why shouldn't she be conspicuous if she chooses? She
made an awfulmarriage, but should she hide her head as if it were
her fault? Should she goslinking around as if she'd disgraced
herself? She's had an unhappy life, but thatdoesn't make her an
I'm sure that's the line the Mingotts mean to take.
I don't have to wait for their cue, if that's what you mean, sir.
(trying to cool things out)
I'm told she's looking for a house. She means to live here.
I hear she means to get a divorce.
I hope she will.
[In the study at the Archer House. Jackson and Archer light up
There are the rumors, too.
I've heard them. About the secretary?
He helped her get away from the husband. They say the Count kept
her practically aprisoner.
Certainly, the Count had his own way of life.
You knew him?
I heard of him at Nice. Handsome, they say, but eyes with a lot
of lashes. When hewasn't with women he was collecting china.
Paying any price for both, I understand.
Then where's the blame? Any one of us, under the same
circumstances, would havehelped the Countess, just as the
He was still helping her a year later, then, because somebody met
them livingtogether at Lausanne.
Living together? Well why not? Who has the right to make her life
over if shehasn't? Why should we bury a woman alive if her
husband prefers to live withwhores?
Oh, it's hardly a question of entombment. The Countess is here,
after all. Or doyou believe that women should share the same
freedoms as men?
(with some force)
I suppose I do. Yes, I do.
Well, apparently Count Olenski also takes a similarly modern
view. I've never heardof him lifting a finger to get his wife
[Montage. Of heavy vellum envelopes, written in beautiful
calligraphy, being passed from hand to hand and delivered on
silver plates; of invitations being drawn from the envelopes]
Three days later, the unthinkable happened. Mrs. Manson Mingott
sent outinvitations summoning everyone to a "formal dinner. "Such
an occasion demanded themost careful consideration. It required
the appropriate plate. It also called forthree extra footmen, two
dishes for each course and a Roman punch in the middle. The
dinner, New York read on the invitation, was "to meet the
Countess Olenska. "And New York declined.
[Drawing room at the Archer house during the day]
"Regret. ""Unable to accept. "Without a single explanation or
excuse. Even someof our own. No one even cares enough to conceal
their feeling about the Countess. This is a disgrace. For our
whole family. And an awful blow to Catherine Mingott.
They all lived in a kind of hieroglyphic world. The real thing
was never said ordone or even thought, but only represented by a
set of arbitrary signs. These signswere not always subtle, and
all the more significant for that. The refusals weremore than a
simple snubbing. They were an eradication.
Don't tell me all this modern newspaper rubbish about a New York
aristocracy. Thiscity has always been a commercial community, and
there are not more than threefamilies in it who can claim an
aristocratic origin in the real sense of the word. Even dear Mr.
Welland made his money in enterprise. So.
(looking at them with resolution)
We will take up this matter with the van der Luydens.
[She starts for the door]
You should come with me, Newland. Louisa van der Luyden is fond
of you, and ofcourse it's on account of May we're doing this.
If we don't all stand together, there'll be no such thing as
[in the Drawing room at the van der Luyden House. Henry and
Louisa van der Luyden are sitting with Newland and his mother]
And all this, you think, was due to some intentional interference
by. . .
. . . Larry Lefferts, yes sir. I'm certain of it.
Well. Excuse me but. . .
Please, go on.
Larry's been going it harder than usual lately. Some service
person in theirvillage or someone, and it's getting noticed.
Whenever poor Gertrude Leffertsbegins to suspect something about
her husband, Larry starts making some greatdiversionary fuss to
show how moral he is. He's simply using Countess Olenska as
Not at all, my dear, I'm afraid.
We all felt this slight on the Countess should not pass without
Well, it's the principle that I dislike. I mean to say, as long
as a member of awell-known family is backed by that family, it
should be considered final.
It seems so to me.
So with Louisa's permission. . . and with Catherine Mingott's, of
course. . . we aregiving a little dinner for our cousin the Duke
of St. Austrey, who arrives next weekon the Russia. I;m sure
Louisa will be glad as I am if Countess Olenska willlet us
include her among our guests.
[In the hallway and drawing room at the van der Luyden House]
The occasion was a solemn one and the Countess Olenska arrived
rather late. Yet sheentered without any appearance of haste or
embarrassment the drawing room in whichNew York's most chosen
company was somewhat awfully assembled.
[Servants open the drawing room doors for Ellen. Henry and Louisa
van der Luyden bring Ellen around the room making introductions.
[In the dining room at the van der Luyden House]
The van der Luydens stood above all the city's families. They
dwelled in a kind ofsuper-terrestrial twilight, and dining with
them was at best no light matter. Dining there with a Duke who
was their cousin was almost a religious solemnity. TheTrevenna
George II plate was out. So was the van der Luyden Lowestoft,
from theEast India Company, and the Dagonet Crown Derby. When the
van der Luydens chose,they knew how to give a lesson.
[In the drawing room at the van der Luyden House. Ellen Olenska
is having a conversation with the Duke as Archer watches. Ellen
then gets up and approaches Archer]
It was not the custom in New York drawing rooms for a lady to get
up and walk awayfrom one gentleman in order to seek the company
of another. But the Countess didnot observe this rule.
I want you to talk to me about May.
You knew the Duke before?
From Nice. We used to see him every winter. He's very fond of
gambling and used tocome to our house a great deal. I think he's
the dullest man I ever met. But he'sadmired here. I suppose he
must seem the very image of traditional Europe. Can Itell you,
though. . .
. . . what most interests me about New York? It's that nothing
has to be traditionalhere. All this blind obeying of tradition. .
. somebody else's tradition. . . isthoroughly needless. It seems
stupid to have discovered America only to make it acopy of
another country. Do you suppose Christopher Columbus would have
taken allthat trouble just to go to the opera with Larry
I think if he knew Lefferts was here the Santa Maria would never
And May. Does she share these views?
If she does, she'd never say so.
Are you very much in love with her?
As much as a man can be.
Do you think there's a limit?
If there is, I haven't found it.
Ah, it's really and truly a romance, then. Not in the least
Have you forgotten? In our country we don't allow marriages to be
Yes, I forgot, I'm sorry, I sometimes make these mistakes. I
don't always rememberthat everything here is good that was. . .
that was bad where I came from.
I'm so sorry. But you are among friends here, you know.
Yes, I know. That's why I came home.
[May and her mother enter the room]
You'll want to be with May.
(looking at the men around May)
She's already surrounded. I have so many rivals.
Then stay with me a little longer.
[They are interrupted by Henry van der Luyden and a guest]
Countess, if I may. Mr. Urban Dagonet.
[Archer gets up to leave and Ellen holds her hand out to him]
Tomorrow then. After five. I'll expect you.
[Louisa joins Archer]
It was good of you to devote yourself to Madame Olenska so
unselfishly, dearNewland. I told Henry he really must rescue you.
I think I've never seen Maylooking lovelier. The Duke thinks her
the handsomest woman in the room.
[In the drawing room at Ellen's house the next day. Archer is
waiting for Ellen to return]
[A carriage with Julius Beaufort and the Countess arrives and the
Countess gets out and enters the house]
Do you like this odd little housoe? To me it's like heaven.
(reaching for the right compliment)
You've arranged it delightfully.
Yes. Some of the things I managed to bring with me. Little pieces
of wreckage. Atleast it's less gloomy than the van der Luydens',
and not so difficult to be alone.
I'm sure it's often thought the van der Luydens' is gloomy,
though I've never heardit said before. But do you really like to
As long as my friends keep me from being lonely.
[She sits near the fire and motions him to sit in an armchair
near where he's standing]
I see you've already chosen your corner. This is the hour I like
best, don't you?
I was afraid you'd forgotten the hour. I'm sure Beaufort can be
He took me to see some houses. I'm told I must move, even though
this street seemsperfectly respectable.
Yes, but it's not fashionable.
Is fashion such a serious consideration?
Among people who have nothing more serious to consider.
And how would these people consider my street?
Oh, well, fleetingly, I'm afraid. Look at your neighbors.
Dressmakers. Birdstuffers. Cafe owners.
I'll count on you to always let me know about such important
The van der Luydens do nothing by halves. All New York laid
itself out for you lastnight.
It was so kind. Such a nice party.
[Archer wants to impress on her the importance of the van der
The van der Luydens are the most powerful influence in New York
society. And theyreceive very seldom, because of cousin Louisa's
Perhaps that's the reason then.
For their influence. They make themselves so rare.
[Her observation intrigues him.
But of course you must tell me.
No, it's you telling me.
Then we can both help each other. Just tell me what to do.
There are so many people already to tell you what to do.
They're all a little angry with me, I think. For setting up for
Still, your family can advise you. . . show you the way.
Is New York such a labyrinth? I thought it was so straight up and
down, like FifthAvenue, with all the cross-streets numbered and
big honest labels on everything.
Everything is labeled. But everybody is not.
There are only two people here who make me think they can help
and understand. Youand Mr. Beaufort.
(reacts to mention of Beaufort)
I understand. Just don't let go of your old friends' hands so
Then I must count on you for warnings, too.
All the older women like and admire you. They want to help.
Oh, I know, I know. But only if they don't hear anything
unpleasant. Does no onehere want to know the truth, Mr. Archer?
The real loneliness is living among allthese kind people who only
ask you to pretend.
[She puts her hands to her face and sobs. Archer goes to her
quickly, bending over her]
No, no, you musn't. Madame Olenska. Ellen.
No one cries here, either? I suppose there's no need to.
[On the street near a florist shop. Archer is walking home from
Ellen's and enters the flower shop]
Oh, Mr. Archer, good evening. We didn't see you this morning,
and weren't surewhether to send Miss Welland the usual. . .
The lilies-of-the-valley, yes. We'd better make it a standing
[He notices a cluster of yellow roses]
And those roses. I'll give you another address.
[He draws out a card and places it inside the envelope, on which
he starts to write Ellen's name and address. He stops and removes
his card and hands the clerk an empty envelope]
They'll go at once?
[At the aviary the next day]
It's wonderful to wake every morning with lilies-of-the-valley in
my room. It'slike being with you.
They came late yesterday, I know. Somehow the time got away from
Still, you always remember.
I sent some roses to your cousin Ellen, too. Was that right?
Very right. She didn't mention it at lunch today, though. She
said she'd gottenwonderful orchids from Mr. Beaufort and a whole
hamper of carnations from CousinHenry van der Luyden. She was so
very delighted. Don't people send flowers inEurope?
[Later in the aviary]
Well, I know you do consider it a long time.
But the Chivers were engaged for a year and a half. Larry
Lefferts and Gertrudewere engaged for two. I'm sure Mama expects
Ever since you were little your parents let you have your way.
You're almosttwenty-two. Just tell your mother what you want.
But that's why it would be so difficult. I couldn't refuse her
the very last thingshe'd ever ask of me as a little girl.
Can't you and I just strike out for ourselves, May?
Shall we elope?
If you would.
You do love me, Newland. I'm so happy.
Why not be happier?
I couldn't be happier, dearest. Did I tell you I showed Ellen the
ring you chose? She thinks it's the most beautiful setting she
ever saw. She said there was nothinglike it in the rue de la
Paix. I do love you, Newland. Everything you do is sospecial.
[Inside the dining room at the Letterblair House that night]
Countess Olenska wants to sue her husband for divorce. It's been
suggested that shemeans to marry again, although she denies it.
I beg your pardon, sir. But because of my engagement, perhaps one
of the othermembers of our firm could consider the matter.
But precisely because of your prospective alliance. . . and
considering that severalmembers of the family have already asked
for you. . . I'd like you to consider thecase.
It's a family matter. Perhaps, it's best settled by the family.
Oh their position is clear. They are entirely, and rightly,
against a divorce. ButCountess Olenska still insists on a legal
opinion. But really, what's the use of adivorce? She's here, he's
there and the whole Atlantic's between them. As thingsgo,
Olenski's acted generously. He's already returned some of her
money withoutbeing asked. She'll never get a dollar more than
that. Although I understand sheattaches no importance to the
money, other than the support it provides for MedoraManson.
Considering all that, the wisest thing really is to do as the
family says. Just let well enough alone.
I think that's for her to decide.
[In the library at the Letterblair House]
Have you considered the consequences if the Countess decides for
Consequences for the Countess?
I don't think the Count's accusations amount to anything more
than vague charges.
It will make for some talk.
Well I have heard talk about the Countess and her secretary. I
heard it even beforeI read the legal papers.
It's certain to be unpleasant.
Divorce is always unpleasant. Don't you agree?
Then I can count on you. The family can count on you. You'll use
you influenceagainst the divorce?
I can't promise that. Not until I see the Countess.
I don't understand you, Mr. Archer.
[Archer pulls out one of his cards and starts to write a message
on the back]
Do you want to marry into a family with ascandalous divorce suit
hanging over it?
I don't think that has anything to do with the case.
[Archer finishes the note]
Can someone take this for me, please. To the Countess.
[In the foyer at Ellen's house. Ellen and Julius Beaufort enter
from the drawing room]
Three days at Skuytercliff with the van der Luydens? You'd better
take your fur anda hot water bottle.
Is the house that cold?
No, but Louisa is. Join me at Delmonicos Sunday instead. I'm
having a nice oystersupper, in your honor. Private room,
congenial company. Artists and so on.
That's very tempting. I haven't met a single artist since I've
I know one or two painters I could bring to see you, if you'd
Painters? Are there any painters in New York?
Thank you. But I was really thinking of singers, actors,
musicians. Dramaticartists. There were always so many in my
Can I write tomorrow and let you know? It's too late to decide
Is this late?
Yes, because I still have to talk business with Mr. Archer.
Oh. Of course, Newland, if you can persuade the Countess to
change her mind aboutSunday, you can join us too.
[In the drawing room at Ellen's house]
You know painters, then? You live in their milieu?
Oh, not exactly.
But you care for such things?
Immensely. When I'm in Paris or London I never miss an
exhibition. I try to keepup.
I used to care immensely too. My life was full of such things.
But now I want tocast off all my old life. . . to become a
complete American and try to be likeeverybody else.
You'll never be like everybody else.
Don't say that to me, please. I just want to put all the old
things behind me.
I know. Mr. Letterblair told me.
Yes, I've come because he asked me to. I'm in the firm.
You mean it's you who'll manage everything for me? I can talk to
you? That's somuch easier.
Yes. . . I'm here to talk about it. I've read all the legal
papers, and the letterfrom the Count.
It was vile.
But if he chooses to fight the case, he can say things that might
be unpleas. . . mightbe disagreeable to you. Say them publicly,
so that they could be damaging evenif. . .
Even if they were unfounded.
What harm could accusations like that do me here?
Perhaps more harm than anywhere else. Our legislation favors
divorce. But oursocial customs don't.
Yes. So my family tells me. Our family. You'll be my cousin soon.
And you agreewith them?
If what your husband hints is true, or you have no way of
disproving it. . . yes. Whatcould you possibly gain that would
make up for the scandal.
My freedom. Is that nothing?
But aren't you free already? It's my business to help you see
things just the waythe people who are fondest of you see them,
all your friends and relations. If Ididn't show you honestly how
they judge such questions, it wouldn't be fair of me,would it?
No. It wouldn't be fair. Very well. I'll do as you wish.
I do. . . I do want to help you.
You do help me.
[Archer stands up]
Good night, cousin.
[Theatre night in the Beaufort box. Everyone is chatting as
Archer enters the room]
It's fascinating. Every season the same play, the same scene, the
same effect onthe audience.
[Archer is making his greetings and Lefferts turns to him]
Remarkable isn't it, Newland?
These actors certainly are. They're even better than the case in
You see this play even when you travel? I'd travel to get away
[Archer sits behind Ellen while Sillerton Jackson continues to
regale Regina Beaufort with details of the latest social news]
It was a reception at Mrs. Struthers'. Held on the Lord's day,
but with champagneand singing from the tabletops. People say
there was dancing.
(a bit intrigued)
A real French Sunday, then.
[Ellen turns to Archer]
Do you think her lover will send her a box of yellow roses
I was. . . I was thinking about that, too. The farewell scene. .
Yes, I know. It touches me as well.
Usually, I leave after that scene. To take the picture away with
I had a letter from May. From St. Augustine.
They always winter there. Her mother's bronchitis.
And what do you do while May is away?
(a little defensive)
I do my work.
I do want you to know. What you advised me was right. Things can
be so difficultsometimes. . . And I'm so grateful.
The next day, Newland Archer searched the city in vain for yellow
roses. From hisoffice he sent a note to Madame Olenska asking to
call that afternoon and requestinga reply by messenger. There was
no reply that day. Or the next. And when yellowroses were again
available, Archer passes them by. It was only on the third
daythat he heard from her, by post, from the van der Luydens'
[On a country road during the day]
"I ran away the day after I saw you at the play, and these kind
friends have takenme in. I wanted to be quiet and think things
over. I feel so safe here. Iwish. . . that you were with us.
Yours sincerely. . . "
[At the law office during the day]
He had a still outstanding invitation from the Lefferts' for a
weekend on the Hudsonand he hoped it was not too late to reply.
Their house was not far from the van derLuydens.
[On a country road during the day. Archer is sees Ellen and
catches up to her]
I came to see what you were running away from.
I knew you'd come
That shows you wanted me to.
Cousin May wrote she asked you to take care of me.
I didn't need to be asked.
Why? Does that mean I'm so helpless and defenseless? Or that
women here are soblessed they never feel need?
What sort of need?
Please don't ask me. I don't speak your language.
[They walk past an old house with squat walls and small square
Henry left the old Patroon house open for me. I wanted to see it.
[Inside the Patroon House]
When you wrote me, you were unhappy.
Yes. But I can't feel unhappy when you're here.
I can't be here long.
I know. But I'm a little impulsive. I live in the moment when I'm
Ellen. If you really wanted me to come. . . if I'm really to help
you. . . you must tellme what you're running from.
[She doesn't answer. He keeps looking out the window. Then he
feels her, coming up behind him. Her arms are around his neck,
hugging him. He turns. . . and sees her as she really is, still
in the chair. He looks back out the window and sees Julius
Beaufort coming up the path to the house]
[He laughs and Ellen quickly moves to his side. She looks out the
window and sees Beaufort. She steps back startled]
Is he what you were running from? Or what you expected?
I didn't know he was here.
[Archer walks to the front door and throws it open]
Hello, Beaufort!This way!Madame Olenska was expecting you.
[Beaufort enters with assurance, addressing his remarks to Ellen]
Well, you certainly led me a bit of a chase, making me come all
this was just totell you I'd found the perfect little house. It's
not on the market yet, so youmust take it at once.
[There is uncomfortable silence. Beaufort finally takes notice of
Well, Archer. Rusticating?
[In the study at the Archer House at night. Archer is unpacking
books from a carton]
That night he did not take the customary comfort in his monthly
shipment of booksfrom London. The taste of the usual was like
cinders in his mouth, and there weremoments when he felt as if he
were being buried alive under his future.
[In the bedroom at Ellen's house. Ellen is writing a note to
"Newland. Come late tomorrow. I must explain to you. "
[In the study at the Archer House. Archer reads the note]
[In the garden at St. Augustine. Archer sees May sitting and
Newland!Has anything happened?
Yes. I found I had to see you.
[Archer sits down and starts kissing her. His gentleness turns
more insistent. She responds at first, but then draws back, a
What is it?
Tell me what you do all day.
Well, there are a few pleasant people from Philadelphia and
Baltimore who werepicnicking at the inn. The Merry's are planning
to lay out a lawn tennis court. . .
But I thought. . . I came here because I thought I could persuade
you to break awayfrom all that. To advance our engagement.
[He reached for her hand]
Don't you understand how much I want to marry you? Why should we
dream away anotheryear?
I'm not sure I do understand. Is it because you're not certain of
still feeling thesame way about me?
God, I. . . maybe. . . I don't know.
Is there someone else?
Someone else? Between you and me?
Let's talk frankly, Newland. Sometimes I've felt a difference in
you, especiallysince our engagement.
[He starts to protest. She hurries on]
If it's untrue then it won't hurt to talk about it. And if it's
true. . . whyshouldn't we talk about it now? You might have made
If I'd made some sort of mistake, would I be down here asking you
to hurry ourmarriage?
I don't know. You might. It would be one way to settle the
question. At Newport,two years ago, before we were. . . promised.
. . everyone said there was. . . someone elsefor you. I even saw
you sitting together with her once, I think. On a verandah,at a
dance. When she came back into the house, her face was sad, and I
felt sorryfor her. Even after, when we were engaged, I could see
how she looked.
Is that what you've been concerned about? That's long past.
Then is there something else?
Of course not.
Whatever it may have been, Newland, I couldn't have my happiness
made out of a wrongto somebody else. We couldn't build a life on
a foundation like that. If promiseswere made. . . or pledges. . .
if you said something to the. . . the person we've spokenof. . .
if you feel in some way pledged to her. . . and there's any way
you can fulfillyour pledge. . . even by her getting a divorce. .
. Newland, don't give her up because ofme!
There are no pledges. There are no promises that matter.
[May looks as if a great weight had been taken from her]
That is all I've been trying to say. There is no one between us,
May. There isnothing between us. That is precisely my argument
for marrying quickly.
He could feel her dropping back to inexpressive girlishness. Her
conscience hadbeen eased of its burden. It was wonderful, he
thought, how such depths of feelingcould co-exist with such an
absense of imagination.
[In the drawing room at Mrs. Mingott's House. Mrs. Mingott and
Archer are having tea and talking]
And did you succeed?
No. But I'd still like to be married in April. With your help.
Well, you're seeing the Mingott way. When I built this house the
family reacted asif I was moving to California. Now you're
Is this really so difficult?
The entire family is difficult. Not one of them wants to be
different. And whenthey are different they end up like Ellen's
parents. Nomads. Continentalwanderers. Or like dear Medora,
dragging Ellen about after they died, lavishingher with an
expensive but incoherent education. Out of all of them, I don't
believethere's one that takes after me but my little Ellen.
You've got a quick eye. Why in the world didn't you marry her?
For one thing, she wasn't there to be married.
No, to be sure. And she's still not. The Count, you know. He's
sent a letter.
No, I didn't know.
Mr. Letterblair says the Count wants Ellen back. On her own
I don't believe it.
The Count certainly does not defend himself. I will say that. And
Ellen would begiving up a great deal to stay here. There's her
old life. Gardens at Nice withterraces of roses. Jewels, of
course. Music and conversation. She says she goesunnoticed in
Europe, but I know that her portrait has been painted nine times.
Allthat, and the remorse of a guilty husband. Ellen says she
cares for none of it, butstill. These are things that must be
I would rather see her dead.
Would you? Would you really? We should remember marriage is
marriage. And Ellenis still a wife.
[Behind Mrs. Mingott, the dorrs open and Ellen enters]
Ellen, see who's here.
Yes, I know.
I went to see your mother to ask where you'd gone. Since you
never answered mynote.
Because he was in such a rush to get married, I'm sure. Fresh off
the train andstraight here. He wants me to use all my influence,
just to marry his sweetheartsooner.
Well surely, Granny, between us we can persuade the Wellands to
do as he wishes.
There, Newland, you see. Right to the quick of the problem. Like
I told him he should have married you.
And what did he say?
Oh, my darling, I leave you to find that out.
[Archer who has done his best to abide this teasing, now rises to
[In the doorway at the Mingott House]
When can I see you?
[In the hallway at Ellen's house that evening. The maid opens the
door and takes Archer's coat. She hangs it and picks up a large
bouquet of crimson roses, with purple pansies at their base and
starts to carry them toward the drawing room]
Natasia, take those to that nice family down the street. And come
right back. TheStruthers' are sending a carriage for me at seven.
[She holds her hand out to Archer]
Who's ridiculous enough to send me a bouquet? I'm not going to a
ball. And I'm notengaged.
[In the drawing room at Ellen's house]
I'm sure Granny must have told you everything about me.
She did say you were used to all kinds of splendors we can't give
Well, I'll tell you. In almost everything she says there's
something true, andsomething untrue. Why? What has she been
I think she believes you might go back to your husband. I think
she believes youmight at least consider it.
A lot of things have been believed of me. But if she thinks I
would consider it,that also means she would consider it for me.
As Granny is weighing you idea ofadvancing the marriage.
May and I had a frank talk in Florida. Probably our first. She
wants a longengagement to give me time. . .
Time to give her up for another woman?
If I want to.
That's very noble.
Yes. But it's ridiculous.
Why? Because there is no other woman?
No. Because I don't mean to marry anyone else.
This other woman. . . does she love you, too?
There is no other woman. I mean, the person May was thinking of.
. . was never. . .
. . . she guessed the truth. There is another woman. But not the
one she thinks.
[He sits down beside her and takes her hands, unclasping them.
She gets up and moves away from him]
Don't make love to me. Too many people have done that.
I've never made love to you. But you are the woman I would have
married if it hadbeen possible for either of us.
Possible? You can say that when you're the one who's made it
I've made it. . .
Isn't it you who made me give up divorcing? Didn't you talk to
me, here in thisroom, about sacrifice and sparing scandal because
my family was going to be yourfamily? And I did what you asked
me. For May's sake. And for yours.
But there were things in your husband's letter. . .
I had nothing to fear from that letter. Absolutely nothing. You
were just afraidof scandal for yourself, and for May.
[Ellen starts crying]
Ellen. No. Nothing's done that can't be undone. I'm still free.
You can be, too.
[He's holding her. He kisses her and she kisses him back
passionately. She breaks away and they stare at each other. Then
she shakes her head]
No!Everything is different. Do you see me marrying May now?
Would you ask her that question? Would you?
I have to ask her. It's too late to do anything else.
You say that because it's easy, not because it's true.
This has changed everything
No. The good things can't change. All that you've done for me,
Newland, that Inever knew. Going to the van der Luydens because
people refused to meet me. Announcing you engagement at the ball
so there would be two families standing behindme instead of one.
I never understood how deadful people thought I was.
(She sees him looking at her questioningly)
Granny blurted it out one day. I was stupid, I never thought. New
York seemed sokind and glad to see me. But there was no one as
kind as you. They never knew whatit meant to be tempted. But you
did. You understood. You hated happiness broughtby disloyalty and
cruelty and indifference. I'd never known that before, and
it'sbetter than anything I've known.
[She speaks in a very low voice. Suddenly he kneels. The tip of
her satin shoe shows under her dress. He kisses it. She bends
Newland. You couldn't be happy if it meant being cruel. If we act
any other wayI'll be making you act against what I love in you
most. And I can't go back to thatway of thinking. Don't you see?
I can't love you unless I give you up.
[Archer springs to his feet]
And Beaufort, with his orchids? Can you love him? (furious)
May is ready to give me up!
Three days after you pleaded with her to advance your engagement
she will give youup?
She refused!That gives me the right. . .
The right? The same kind of ugly right as my husband claims in
No, of course not!But if we do this now. . . afterward, it will
only be worse foreveryone if we. . .
No, no, no!
[They look at each other for a moment more. Then Ellen picks up a
bell and rings for the maid. The maid enters carrying Ellen's
cloak and hat, and a telegram]
I won't be going out tonight after all.
Please don't sacrifice. I have no right to keep you from your
This was delivered.
[Ellen takes the envelope, reads it and hands it to Archer]
[In the gardens at St. Augustine]
"Granny's telegram was successful. Papa and Mama agreed to
marriage after Easter. Only a month? !I will telegraph Newland.
I'm too happy for words and love youdearly. Your grateful cousin
[In the drawing room at Ellen's house that night. Archer reads
the telegram and crumples it up in disappointment]
[At the photographer's studio. May is posing for pictures]
There had been wild rumors right up to the wedding day, that Mrs.
Mingott wouldactually attend the ceremony. It was known that she
had sent a carpenter to measurethe front pew in case it might be
altered to accomodate her. But this idea, likethe great lady
herself, proved to be unwieldy, and she settled for giving
thewedding breakfast. The Countess Olenska sent her regrets - she
was travelling withan aunt - but gave the bride and groom an
exquisite piece of old lace. Two elderlyaunts in Rhinebeck
offered a honeymoon cottage, and since it was thought
"veryEnglish" to have a country-house on loan, their offer was
accepted. When the houseproved suddenly uninhabitable, however,
Henry van der Luyden stepped in to offer anold cottage on his
property nearby. May accepted the offer as a surprise for
herhusband. She had never seen the house, but her cousin Ellen
had mentioned it once. She had said it was the only house in
America where she could imagine beingperfectly happy. They
travelled to the expected places, which May had never seen. In
London, Archer ordered his clothes, and they went to the National
Gallery, andsometimes to the theatre.
[In a carriage on the street at night. May is close to Archer on
the seat, holding his arm. She has a new attitude of easy
intimacy with him]
I hope I don't look ridiculous. I've never dined out in London.
Englishwomen dress just like everybody else in the evening, don't
How can you even ask that, when they're always at the theatre in
old ball-dressesand bare heads.
Well perhaps they save their new dresses for home.
Then I shouldn't have worn this?
No. You look fine.
In Paris, she ordered her clothes. There were trunks of dresses
from Worth. Theyvisited the Tuileries.
[At the sculptor's studio the next day. Archer watches as the
sculptor Rochee models May's folded hands in marble. May looks up
at her husband and smiles]
Rochee modelled May's hands in marble. And occasionally they
[In the dining room at Paris House at night. They are having a
small formal dinner. May is holding her own, charming everyone.
Archer is having a conversation with a fine-boned man whose face
is distinguished by a carefully nurtured mustache]
Archer had gradually reverted to his old inherited ideas about
marriage. It wasless trouble to conform with tradition. There was
no use trying to emancipate awife who hadn't the dimmest notion
that she was not free.
[In the carriage on the street. Archer and May are riding home
from the dinner]
We had an awfully good talk. Interesting fellow. We talked about
books and things. I asked him to dinner.
The Frenchman? I didn't have much chance to talk to him, but
wasn't he a littlecommon?
Common? I thought he was clever.
I suppose I shouldn't have known if he was clever.
Then I won't ask him to dine.
With a chill he knew that, in future, many problems would be
solved for him in thissame way.
[The carriage moves down a boulevard of flickering lamps]
The first six months of marriage were usually said to be the
hardest, and afterthat, he thought, they would have pretty nearly
finished polishing down all therough edges. But May's pressure
was already wearing down the very roughness he mostwanted to
keep. As for the madness with Madame Olenska, Archer trained
himself toremember it as the last of his discarded experiments.
She remained in his memorysimply as the most plaintive and
poignant of a line of ghosts.
[On the Beaufort lawn in Newport. This is the Beauforts' summer
cottage a year and a half later. There's a row of men and women
standing against a tent. May comes out of the tent and walks past
a row of people to an opening. A little later, May is seen slowly
raising a bow and arrow, taking careful aim and letting go. Her
movements have a classic grace. The crowd applauds her shot. Two
of the spectators, Larry Lefferts and Julius Beaufort, watch May
She's very deft.
Yes. But that's the only kind of target she'll ever hit.
[Archer is standing a little in front of them. He reacts angrily
to Beaufort's remark, but says nothing. Across the lawn, May
makes her final bull's-eye. Archer starts across to join her. May
is receiving a winner's pin from a club official as a
photographer snaps her picture]
No one could ever be jealous of May's triumphs. She managed to
give the feelingthat she would have been just as serene without
[May takes Archer's arm as they walk across the lawn together]
But what if all her calm, her niceness, were just a negation, a
curtain dropped infront of an emptiness? Archer felt he had never
yet lifted that curtain.
[On Narraganset Avenue in Newport. May and Archer are in an open
Has Regina Beaufort been here at all this summer?
I don't know. There's a great deal of gossip. I expect Beaufort
will bring AnnieRing here any day.
Not even he would dare that!
He's reckless in everything. Even his railway speculations are
turning bad. But hejust answers every rumor with a fresh
I heard he gave Regina pearls worth half a million.
He had no choice.
[At the Mingott House in Newport. May is showing Mrs. Mingott
the pin she won in the archery contest
an arrow with a diamond tip, pinned to the front of her linen
Quite stunning. It's Julius Beaufort who donates the club's
prizes, isn't it. Thislooks like him. Of course. And it will make
quite an heirloom, my dear. Youshould leave it to your eldest
[In the drawing room of the Mingott Newport cottage. May blushes
and Mrs. Mingott pinches her arm teasingly]
What's the matter, aren't there going to be any daughters? Only
boys? What, can'tI say that either? Look at her, blushing!
[Archer laughs and Mrs. Mingott calls out. . . ]
Ellen!Ellen, are you upstairs?
[Archer is startled at the mention of Ellen]
She's over from Portsmouth, spending the day with me. It's such a
nuisance. Shejust won't stay in Newport, insists on putting up
with those. . . what's their name. . . Blenkers. But I gave up
arguing with young people about fifty years ago. . . Ellen!
I'm sorry, ma'am, Miss Ellen's not in the house.
I saw her going down the shore path.
[Mrs. Mingott turns to Archer]
Run down and fetch her, like a good grandson. May can tell me all
the gossip aboutJulius Beaufort. Go ahead. I know she'll want to
see you both.
[On the shore path]
He had heard her name often enough during the year and a half
since they had lastmet. He was even familiar with the main
incidents of her life. But he heard allthese accounts with
detachment, as if listening to reminiscences of someone longdead.
But the past had come again into the present, as in those newly
discoveredcaverns in Tuscany, where children had lit bunches of
straw and seen old imagesstaring from the wall.
[Archer walks down the path and sees the pier and house in front
of him. He sees a woman with her back to the shore, leaning
against a rail. He stops, unable to go on. It's Ellen. She looks
out to sea, at the bay furrowed with yachts and sailboats and
fishing craft. He does not move. Ellen does not turn. A sailboat
glides through the channel between Lime Rock lighthouse and the
He gave himself a single chance. She must turn before the
sailboat crosses the LimeRock light. Then he would go to her.
[He looks to the boat. It glides out on the receding tide between
the lighthouse and the shore. He watches as the boat passes the
lighthouse. He looks at Ellen, she has not turned. Archer walks
[Outside the Mingott House]
I'm sorry you didn't find her. But I've heard she's so changed.
So indifferent to her old friends. Summering in Portsmouth,
moving to Washington. Sometimes I think we've always bored her. I
wonder if she wouldn't be happier withher husband after all.
I don't think I've ever heard you be cruel before.
[Archer helps her into the carriage]
Even demons don't think people are happier in hell.
Then she shouldn't have married abroad.
[She starts to take the reins of the carriage. Archer lifts them
[At the Welland House in Newport the next morning. Archer, Mrs.
Archer, Janey, Mrs. Welland and May are having breakfast]
The Blenkers. A party for the Blenkers?
Who are they?
The Portsmouth people, I think. The ones Countess Olenska is
"Professor and Mrs. Emerson Sillerton request the pleasure. . .
Wednesday afternoonclub. . . at 3 o'clock punctually. To meet
Mrs. and the the Misses Blenker. RedGables, Catherine Street. "I
don't think we can decline.
I don't see why, really. He's an archaeologist and he lives here
even in winter. He's always taking his poor wife to tombs in the
Yucatan instead of to Paris. He'sgot a house full of long-haired
men and short-haired women, and. . .
And he is Sillerton Jackson's cousin.
Some of us will have to go.
I'll go over. And, Janey, why don't you come with me. I'm sure
Cousin Ellen willbe there. It will give you a chance to see her.
Newland, you can find some way to spend the afternoon, can't you?
Oh I think for a change I'll just save it instead of spending it.
Maybe drive tothe farm to see about a new horse for the brougham.
[At the Blenker House. Archer drives up, stops and ties up his
team. He walks up to the house. As he gets closer, he sees a box
garden, and something pink just beyond it. It's a pink parasol.
He picks it up and lifts the handle close to his face to smell
its scent. He hears someone coming behind him, closing in
anticipation. He waits for Ellen's touch but hears only a voice
behind him. . . ]
[His eyes open and he turns and sees Katie Blenker, an adolescent
girl with open, friendly curiosity. She looks, for an instant,
Archer thinks that he has been surprised by May]
I'm sorry, did you ring, I've been asleep in the hammock. . .
I didn't mean to disturb you. Are you Miss Blenker? I'm Newland
I've heard so much about you.
I came up the island to see about a new horse, and I thought I'd
call. But thehouse seemed empty. . .
It is empty. They're all at the party. The one the Sillertons are
giving for us. Didn't you know?
[He keeps looking at her, not knowing what to say]
Everyone's there but me, with my fever, and Countess Olenska. . .
oh, you found myparasol!
[She takes it from his hand]
It's my best one. It's from the Cameroons.
(trying to be casual)
The Countess was called away?
A telegram came from Boston. She said she might be gone for two
days. I do lovethe way she does her hair, don't you? It reminds
me of Sir Walter Scott.
You don't know. . . I'm sorry. . . I've got to be in Boston
tomorrow. You wouldn't knowwhere she was staying?
[In Boston the next day. Archer is in a park watching a painter.
He turns and through the morning sun, see a woman seated a little
way in front of him on a bench. Ellen looks up and Archer is
I'm here on business. Just got here, actually. You're doing your
Only because the maid's not with me. She stayed back in
Portsmouth. I'm only herefor two days, it didn't seem worth. . .
You're travelling alone?
Yes. Why, do you think it's a little dangerous?
Well, it's unconventional.
I suppose it is. I hadn't thought of it. I've just done something
so much moreunconventional. I've refused to take back money that
belonged to me.
Someone came with an offer?
What were the conditions?
Tell me the conditions.
Nothing unbearable, really. Just to sit at the head of his table
now and then.
And he wants you back, at any price?
Well, it's a considerable price. At least it's considerable for
So you came to meet him.
[She stares, then laughs suddenly]
My husband? Here? No, of course not. He sent someone.
(very careful now)
Yes. He's still here, in fact. He insisted on waiting. In case I
changed my mind. They told you at the hotel I was here?
[He nods but says nothing]
You haven't changed, Newland.
I had changed, till I saw you again.
Just give me the day. I'll say anything you like. Or nothing. I
won't speakunless you tell me to. All I want is some time with
you. All I want is to listento you. I want to get you away from
that man. Was he coming to the hotel?
At eleven. Just in case. . .
Then we must leave now. It's been a hundred years since we've
Where will we go?
emotion has gotten in the way of foresight. He seems addled for
a moment. She smiles at him]
Somewhere cool, at any rate.
We'll take the steamboat down to Point Arley. There's an inn.
I'll have to leave a note at the hotel.
[He pulls a note-case from his pocket]
Write it here. I have the paper. . . you see how everything's
predestined? . . . andthis. . . have you seen these. . . the new
stylographic pen. . .
[He hands her the case and pulls out a fountain pen]
Just steady the case on your knee, and I'll get the pen going in
a second. . .
[He bangs the hand holding the pen against the back of the bench]
It's like jerking down the mercury in a thermometer. Now try.
[He hands her then and she writes the note]
[At the Parker House Hotel in Boston]
Shall I take it in?
I'll only be a moment.
[Archer waits for her. Archer sees a man dressed in a distinctly
European fashion. The man doesn't notice Archer but he seems
[At the Inn. Archer and Ellen are sitting at a table outside]
Why didn't you come down to the beach to get me the day I was at
Because you didn't turn around. You didn't know I was there. I
swore I wouldn'tcall you unless you looked around.
But I didn't look on purpose.
I recognized the carriage when you drove in. So I went to the
To get as far away from me as you could.
As I could. Yes.
Well you see, then. It's no use. It's better to face each other.
I only want to be honest with you.
Honest? Isn't that why you always admired Julius Beaufort? He was
more honest thanthe rest of us, wasn't he? We've got no
character, no color, no variety. I wonderwhy you just don't go
back to Europe.
I believe it's because of you.
Me? I'm the man who married one woman because another one told
You promised not to say those things today.
I can't keep that promise.
And what about May? What does May feel? That's the thing we've
always got to thinkof, by your own showing.
Yes, yours. Otherwise everything you taught me would be a sham.
If you're using my marriage as some victory of ours, then there's
no reason on earthwhy you shouldn't go back. You gave me my first
glimpse of a real life. Then youasked me to go on with the false
one. No one can endure that.
I'm enduring it.
You too? All this time, you too?
[She doesn't reply]
What's the use? We can't be like this. When will you go back?
I won't. Not yet. Not as long as we both can stand it.
This is not a life for you.
It is. As long as it's part of yours.
And the way I live. . . my life. . . how can it be part of yours?
Don't. . . don't be unhappy.
You won't go back? You won't go back?
I won't go back.
[On the street in New York. Archer is about to enter his office
building as a man approaches him. He is the same man that he saw
outside the Parker House in Boston]
It's Mr. Archer, I think?
My name is Reviere. We dined together in Paris last year.
Oh yes. I'm sorry I didn't quite recall. . .
Quite alright. I had the advantage. I saw you yesterday in
[Archer is taken aback by this]
[In Archer's office]
I still do not understand why we're speaking.
I came her on Count Olenska's behalf because I believed. . . in
all good faith. . . thatit would be best for the Countess to
return to him. I met her in Boston and toldher all the Count had
said. She did me the kindness of listening carefully. Butshe's
(a tinge of jealous suspicion)
You knew her before?
I used to see her in her husband's house. The Count would never
have trusted mymission to a stranger.
This change. . .
It may only have been my seeing her for the first time as she is.
As an American. And if you're an American of her kind. . . of
your kind. . . things are accepted incertain other societies, or
at least put up with for the sake of. . . convenience. . . these
things become intolerable. She made her marriage in good faith.
It was afaith that the Count could not share, and could not
understand. So her faith wasshattered. And it was only coming
back here. . . coming home. . . that restored it. Returning to
Europe would mean a life of some comfort. And considerable
sacrifice. And also, I would think, no hope. I will fulfill my
obligation to the Count andmeet with the family. I will tell them
what he wishes and suggests for theCountess. But I ask you,
Monsieur, to use you own influence with them. I. . . I begyou. .
. with all the force I'm capable of. . . not to let her go back.
[Archer looks at him with astonishment. Riviere's eyes fix
momentarily on Archer, then look around the room. Archer extends
[In the dining room at Mrs. Archer's House that evening. Janey,
Mrs. Archer, Newland and May, Mrs. Welland and Sillerton
Jackson are having a traditional Thanksgiving dinner]
Well, Boston is more conservative than New York. But I always
think it's a saferule for a lady to lay aside her French dresses
for one season. When Old Mrs. Baxter Pennilow died, they found
her standing order - forty-eight Worth dresses -still wrapped in
tissue paper. When her daughters left off their mourning they
worethe first lot to the Symphony without looking in advance of
He had written to her once in Washington. Just a few lines,
asking when they wereto meet again. And she wrote back
"Not yet. "
I think it was Julius Beaufort who started the new fashion by
making his wife clapher new clothes on her back as soon as they
arrived. I must say, it takes allRegina's distinction not to look
like. . .
. . . like that Annie Ring.
Well, everybody knows.
Indeed. Beaufort always put his business around. And now that his
business is gonethere are bound to be disclosures.
Gone? Is it that bad?
As bad as anything I've ever heard of. Most everybody we know
will be hit, one wayor another.
[In the library of the Archer House]
Very difficult for Regina, of course. And it's a pity. . . it's
certainly a pity. . . that Countess Olenska refused her husband's
Why, for God's sake?
Well. . . to put it on the lowest ground. . . what's she going to
live on now?
Now. . . !
Well, I mean now that Beaufort. . .
What the hell does that mean, sir?
Most of her money's invested with Beaufort, and the allowance
she's been gettingfrom the family is so cut back. . .
She has something, I'm sure.
Oh I would think a little. Whatever remains after sustaining
Medora. But I knowthe family paid close attention to Monsieur
Riviere and considered the Count's offervery closely. Everyone
hopes the Countess herself might simply see that livinghere, on
such a small margin. . .
If everyone would rather she be Beaufort's mistress than some
decent fellow's wife,you've all gone about it perfectly. She
won't go back.
That's your opinion, eh? Well no doubt you know. I suppose she
might still softenCatherine Mingott, who could give her any
allowance she chooses. But the rest ofthe family has no
particular interest in keeping Madame Olenska here. They'llsimply
let her find her own level.
Shall we go up and join my mother?
[In the Archer House hallway. May and Archer arrive home and the
servants take their coats. Archer and May climb the staircase to
the second floor of their house. The lamp that May holds throws
deep long shadows on the wall]
The lamp is smoking again. The servants should see to it.
I may have to go to Washington for a few days.
Tomorrow. I'm sorry, I should have said something before.
On business, of course. There's a patent case coming up before
the Supreme Court. I just got the papers from Letterblair. It
seems. . .
Never mind. I'm sure it's too complicated. I have enough trouble
managing thislamp. But the change will do you good. And you must
be sure to go and see Ellen.
[Does she know? He thinks she might]
[In the Archer House. The maid brings a note to Archer and May]
Do something about this, will you, Agnes?
[The maid takes the still smoking lamp, and gives him her lamp.
May looks up from the note]
Granny's had a stroke.
[In the bedroom at the Mingott House. The servants are carrying
Mrs. Mingott out on a heavy chair]
A stroke!I told them all it was just an excess of Thanksgiving.
Dr. Bencomb actedmost concerned and insisted on notifying
everyone as if it were the reading of mylast testament. But I
won't be treated like a corpse when I'm hardly an invalid.
[The servants proceed to carry her to the drawing room]
You're very dear to come. But perhaps you only wanted to see what
I'd left you.
Granny, that's shocking!
[The servants set Mrs. Mingott down in the drawing room in her
It was shock that did this to me. It's all due to Regina
Beaufort. She came herelast night, and she asked me. . .
[As she talks, Archer creates the image in his mind. . . ]
. . . she had the effrontery to ask me. . . to back Julius. Not
to desert him, she said. To stand behind our common lineage in
the Townsend family. I said to her, "Honor'salways been honor,
and honesty's always been honesty, in Manson Mingott's house,
andwill be 'till I'm carried out feet first. "And then. . . if
you can believe it. . . shesaid to me. . . "But my name, Auntie.
My name's Regina Townsend. "And I said, "Yourname was Beaufort
when he covered you with jewels, and it's got to stay Beaufort
nowthat he's covered you with shame. "
[Back to the drawing room as Mrs. Mingott finishes her story]
So I gave out. Simply gave out. Now family will be arriving from
all overexpecting a funeral and they'll have to be entertained. I
don't know how many notesBencomb sent out.
If there's any way we can help. . .
Well, my Ellen is coming. I expressly asked for her. She arrives
this afternoon onthe train. If you could fetch her. . .
Of course. If May will send the brougham, I can take the ferry.
(the slightest pause)
There, you see, Granny. Everyone will be settled.
[Archer and May are leaving Mrs. Mingott's house and entering
I didn't want to worry Granny. But how can you meet Ellen and
bring her back if youhave to go to Washington yourself this
I'm not going. The case is off. Postponed. I heard from
Letterblair this morning.
Postponed? How odd. Mama had a note from him this morning as
well. He wasconcerned about Granny but he had to be away. He was
arguing a big patent casebefore the Supreme Court. You said it
was a patent case, didn't you?
Well, that's it. The whole office can't go. Letterblair decided
to go thismorning.
Then it's not postponed?
[The blood rises in Archer's face]
No. But my going is.
[At the train station]
He knew is was two hours by ferry and carriage from the
Pennsylvania terminus inJersey City back to Mrs. Mingott's. All
of two hours. And maybe a little more.
[Archer sees Ellen among the disembarking train passengers and
motions to her]
You didn't expect me today?
It was Granny Mingott who sent me. She's much better. I nearly
went to Washingtonto see you. We would have missed each other.
[Archer helps Ellen into the carriage]
Did you know. . . I hardly remembered you.
I mean. . . I mean it's always the same. Each time I see you. You
happen to me allover again.
Oh yes. I know, I know. For me too.
[Later in the journey]
Your husband's secretary came to see me. The day after we met in
[She seems surprised]
You didn't know?
No. But he told me he had met you. In Paris, I think.
Ellen. . . I have to ask you. Just one thing.
Was it Riviere who helped you get away after you left your
Yes. I owe him a great debt.
I think you're the most honest woman I ever met.
No. But probably one of the least fussy.
Ellen, We can't stay like this. It can't last.
Our being together and not being together. It's impossible.
You shouldn't have come today.
[Suddenly, she turns and flings her arms around him, pressing him
close, kissing him passionately. He returns all her feeling. She
suddenly draws away, silent and motionless to the corner of the
Don't be afraid. Look, I'm not even trying to touch your sleeve.
Being like thisisn't what I want. I need you with me. I can even
just sit still, like this, andlook at you.
I think we should look at reality, not dreams.
I just want us to be together.
I can't be your wife, Newland. Is it your idea I should live with
you as yourmistress?
I want. . . somehow I want to get away with you. Find a world
where words like thatwon't exist.
Oh my dear. . . whare is that country? Have you ever been there?
Is there anywhere wecan be happy behind the backs of people who
I'm beyond caring about that.
No, you're not!You've never been beyond that. I have. I know what
it looks like. A lie in every silence. It's no place for us.
[He looks at her, dazed. Then he reaches for the small cab bell
that signals orders to the coachman. The coach pulls up and
Archer gets out]
Why are we stopping? This isn't Granny's.
No. I'll get out here. You were right. I shouldn't have come
[He closes the door]
[In the library at the Archer House that night. Archer is reading
a book and May is embroidering a soft cushion]
What are you reading?
Oh, a history. About Japan.
I don't know. Because it's a different country.
You used to read poetry. It was so nice when you read it to me.
[He gets to his feet]
I need some air.
[He goes to the window and opens it and leans out into the cold]
Newland!You'll catch your death.
Catch my death. Of course.
But then he realized, I am dead. I've been dead for months and
months. Then itoccurred to him that she might die. People did.
Young people, healthy people, did. She might die, and set him
[May sees him looking at her]
[He walks to her and touches her head]
Poor? Why poor?
Because I'll never be able to open a window without worrying you.
I'll never worry if you're happy.
And I'll never be happy unless I can open the windows.
In this weather?
[On the street at Ellen's house. Ellen is coming down the front
steps toward a waiting carriage. As she approaches the carriage
door, Archer steps out of the shadows]
I have to see you. I didn't know when you were leaving again.
I'm due at Regina Beaufort's. Granny lent me her carriage.
With all that's happened, you're still goinig to see Regina
I know. Granny says Julius Beaufort is a scoundrel. But so is my
husband, and thefamily still wants me to go back to him.
[Two figures , illuminated by the glowing street lamps but still
a little indistinct in the blowing snow, are walking down the
street toward Ellen and Archer]
But you won't go back?
No. Granny's asked me to stay and help care for her. But I think
it's me she meansto help. She said I've lived too long locked up
in a cage. She's even seen to myallowance.
[The two figures draw nearer, then discretely cross to the other
side of the street. As they pass under the streetlight we
recognize one of the two men
Larry Lefferts. Archer and Ellen see them and draw a little
closer to the sheltering shadow of the carriage]
You won't need my help if you have Granny's.
I will still need your help. If I stay, we will have to help each
I have to see you. Somewhere we can be alone.
In New York?
Alone. Somewhere we can be alone. There's the art museum in the
park. Half pasttwo tomorrow. I'll be at the door.
[At the Art Museum]
You came to New York because you were afraid.
Of my coming to Washington.
I promised Granny to stay in her house because I thought I would
Safer from me?
[She bends her head]
Safer from loving me?
Shall I come to you once, and then go home?
[He doesn't answer. She gets up and starts out. He catches her by
Come to me once, then.
[They look at each other almost like enemies]
The day after.
[She moves away down the long gallery. He follows her]
No. Don't come any farther than this.
[She hurries to the gallery door, turns, then leaves]
[In the library at the Archer House that night. Archer is at his
desk. An envelope addressed to Ellen is near him; his pen is
poised over a piece of vellum on which he is writing an address
for their rendezvous. A key, to go with the address, is ready to
be sealed in the envelope as he looks up, slightly startled as
May enters, a little agitated]
I'm sorry I'm late. You weren't worried, were you?
[He sweeps the key, envelope and address into his desk drawer
before she is near enough to notice]
Is it late?
Past seven. I stayed at Granny's because cousin Ellen came in. We
had a wonderfultalk. She was so dear. Just like the old Ellen.
And Granny's so charmed by her. You do see, though, why sometimes
the family has been annoyed? Going to see ReginaBeaufort in
Granny's carriage. . .
[Archer gets up, annoyed at the same old prattle]
Aren't we dining out?
[He starts past her, and she moves forward, almost impulsively.
She throws her arms around him and presses her cheek to his]
You haven't kissed me today.
[At the Theatre]
It was the custom, in old New York, for brides to appear in their
wedding dressduring the first year or two of marriage. But May,
since returning from Europe, hadnot worn her bridal satin until
[Archer enters the box and leans over to May]
My head's bursting. Don't tell anyone, but please come home with
[May looks at him, then whispers to her mother. Mrs. Welland
whispers an excuse to her companion, Mrs. van der Luyden, as May
rises and leaves with her husband]
[In the library at the Archer House]
Shouldn't you rest?
My head's not as bad as that. And there's something important I
have to tell youright away. May. . . There's something I've got
to tell you. . . about myself. . . MadameOlenska. . .
Oh, why should we talk about Ellen tonight?
Because I should have spoken before.
Is it really worthwhile, dear? I know I've been unfair to her at
times. Perhaps weall have. You've understood her better than any
of us, I suppose. But does itmatter, now that it's all over?
Over? How do you mean, over?
Why, since she's going back to Europe so soon. Granny approves
and understands. She's disappointed, of course, but she's
arranged to make Ellen financiallyindependent of the Count. I
thought you would have heard today at your offices.
[He stares at her, not really seeing her. There is uncomfortable
Impossible? Certainly she could have stayed here, with Granny's
extra money. But Iguess she's given us up after all.
How do you know that?
From Ellen. I told you I saw her at Granny's yesterday.
And she told you yesterday?
No. She sent me a note this afternoon. Do you want to see it?
[May moves to the desk and pulls the note from a small pile of
mail on the desk]
I thought you knew.
[She hold out the note and he takes it]
"May dear, I have at last made Granny understand that my visit to
her could be nomore than a visit, and she has been as kind and
generous as ever. She sees now thatif I return to Europe I must
live by myself. I am hurrying back to Washington topack up, and I
sail next week. You must be very good to Granny when I'm gone. .
. asgood as you've always been to me. If any of my friends wish
to urge me to change mymind, please tell them it would be utterly
Why did she write this?
I suppose because we talked things over yesterday.
I told her I was afraid I hadn't been fair to her. I hadn't
always understood howhard it must have been here. I knew you'd be
the one friend she could always counton. And I wanted her to know
that you and I were the same. In all our feelings.
She understood why I wanted to tell her this, I think she
[She takes one of his cold hands and presses it quickly to her
My head aches, too. Good night, dear.
[In the dining room at the Archer House]
It was, as Mrs. Archer said to Mrs. Welland, a great event for
a young couple togive their first dinner, and it was not to be
undertaken lightly. There was a hiredchef, two borrowed footmen,
roses from Henderson's, Roman punch and menus ongilt-edged cards.
It was considered a particular triumph that the van der
Luydens,at May's request, stayed in the city to be present at her
farewell dinner for theCountess Olenska.
[Everyone is seated at the table. Ellen is to Archer's left]
He guessed himself to have been, for months, the center of
countless silentlyobserving eyes and patiently listening ears. He
understood that, somehow, theseparation between himself and the
partner of his guilt had been achieved. And heknew that now the
whole tribe had rallied around his wife. He was a prisoner in
thecenter of an armed camp.
Regina's not well at all, but that doesn't stop Beaufort from
devoting as much timeto Annie Ring. . .
[Archer turns to Ellen]
Was the trip from Washington very tiring?
The heat in the train was dreadful. But all travel has its
Whatever they may be, they're worth it. Just to get away.
[She can't reply]
I mean to do a lot of travelling myself soon.
[Ellen's face trembles. To rescue the moment, he leans toward a
man sitting across from him]
Philip, what about you? A little adventure? A long trip? Are you
interested? Athens and Smyrna and maybe Constantinople. Then as
far East as we can go.
MRS. VAN DER LUYDEN
But not Naples, Dr. Bencomb says there's a fever.
There's India, too.
You must have three weeks to do India properly.
[In the library at the Archer House. After dinner, the men are
gathered in several groups, all smoking cigars]
Beaufort may not receive invitations anymore, but it's clear he
still maintains acertain position.
Horizontal, from all I've heard.
If things go on like this, we'll be seeing our children fighting
for invitations toswindlers' houses and marrying Beaufort's
Has he got any?
[Laughter from the group]
Careful, there, gentlemen. Draw it mild, draw it mild.
[Archer manages a small smile but is still distracted. Van der
Luyden approaches him]
VAN DER LUYDEN
Have you ever noticed? It's the people who have the worst cooks
who are alwaysyelling about being poisoned when they dine out.
Lefferts used to be a little moreadept, I thought. But then,
grace is not always required. As long as one knows thesteps.
[In the drawing room at the Archer House. May is sitting on a
sofa next to Countess Olenska. May sees Archer and her eyes are
shining as she gets up. As soon as she is on her feet, Mrs. van
der Luyden beckons Ellen to join her across the room. Ellen goes
slowly toward Mrs. van der Luyden and another woman joins them.
Archer watches this ritual as if it were an elaborate rehearsal
for a firing squad]
The silent organization which held this whole small world
together was determined toput itself on record. It had never for
a moment questioned the propriety of MadameOlenska's conduct. It
had never questioned Archer's fidelity. And it had neverheard of,
suspected, or even conceived possible, anything at all to the
contrary. From the seamless performance of this ritual, Archer
knew that New York believed himto be Madame Olenska's lover. And
he understood, for the first time, that his wifeshared the
[In the front hall. Archer is helping Ellen with her cloak]
Shall I see you to your carriage?
[She turns to him as Mrs. van der Luyden steps forward]
MRS. VAN DER LUYDEN
We are driving deal Ellen home.
[Ellen offers her hand to Archer]
Good-bye. But I'll see you soon in Paris.
Oh. . . if you and May could come. . .
[In the library at the Archer House. May is at the doorway]
It did go off beautifully, didn't it.
May I come in and talk it over?
Of course. But you must be very sleepy.
No. I'm not. I'd like to be with you a little.
[They sit in separate chairs near the fire]
Since you're not tired and want to talk, there's something I have
to tell you. Itried the other night.
Oh yes, dear. Something about yourself?
About myself, yes. You say you're not tired. But I am. I'm tired
of everything. I want to make a break. . .
You mean give up the law?
Well, maybe. To get away, at any rate. Right away. On a long
trip. Go somewherethat's so far. . .
I don't know. I thought of India. Or Japan.
[She stands up and walk toward him]
As far as that? But I'm afraid you can't, dear. . .
. . . not unless you take me with you. That is, if the doctors
will let me go. . . butI'm afraid they won't.
[He stares at her, his eyes nearly wild]
I've been sure of something since this morning and I've been
longing to tell you. . .
[She sinks down in front of him, puts her face against his knee]
You didn't guess?
No. Of course, I mean, I hoped, but. . .
[He looks away from her]
Have you told anyone else?
Only Mama, and your mother. And Ellen. You know I told you we'd
had a long talkone afternoon. . . and how wonderful she was to
Did you mind my telling her, Newland?
Mind? Why should I? But that was two weeks ago, wasn't it? I
thought you said youweren't sure till today.
No. I wasn't sure then. But I told her I was. And you see. . .
[She looks up at him, moving closer]
I was right.
[She is very close to him now, expecting to be kissed. Her eyes
are wet with VICTORY. Newland is speechless. He desperately
looks around the room]
It was the room in which most of the real things of his life had
happened. Theireldest boy, Theodore, too delicate to be taken to
church in midwinter, had beenchristened there. It was here that
Ted took his first steps. And it was here thatArcher and his wife
always discussed the future of all their children. Bill'sinterest
in archaeology. Mary's passion for sport and philanthropy.
Ted'sinclinations toward "art" that led to a job with an
architect, as well as someconsiderable redecoration. It was in
this room that Mary had announced herengagement to the dullest
and most reliable of Larry Lefferts' many sons. And itwas in this
room, too, that her father had kissed her through her wedding
veilbefore they motored to Grace Church. He was a dutiful, loving
father, and afaithful husband. When May died of infectious
pneumonia after nursing Bill safelythrough, he had honestly
mourned her. The world of her youth had fallen into piecesand
rebuilt itself without her ever noticing. This hard bright
blindness, herincapacity to recognize change, made her children
conceal their views from her, justas Archer concealed his. She
died thinking the world a good place, full of lovingand
harmonious households like her own. Newland Archer, in his fifty-
seventh year,mourned his past and honored it.
[a telephone rings and Archer picks it up. At 57, his face shows
the evidence of a full life behind him]
Chicago wants you.
I'm just about finished out here, but my client wants me to look
at some gardensbefore I start designing.
Europe. I'll have to sail next Wednesday on the Mauretania.
And miss the wedding?
Annie will wait for me. I'll be back on the first and our
wedding's not 'till thefifth.
I'm surprised you remember the date.
Well, I was hoping you'd join me. I'll need you to remind me of
what's important. What do you say? It will be our last father and
I appreciate the invitation, but. . .
Wonderful. Can you call the Cunard office first thing tomorrow?
[In the Bristol Hotel room in Paris. Archer is sitting on a divan
near the window, looking out. Ted is with him]
I'm going out to Versailles with Tourneur. Will you join us?
I thought I'd go to the Louvre.
I'll meet you there later, then. Countess Olenska is expecting us
Oh, didn't I tell you. Annie made me swear to do three things in
Paris. Get herthe score of the last Debussy songs. Go to the
Grand Guignol. And see MadameOlenska. You know she was awfully
good to Annie when Mr. Beaufort sent her over tothe Sorbonne.
Wasn't the Countess friendly with Mr. Beaufort's first wife
orsomething? I think Mrs. Beaufort said that she was. In any
case, I called theCountess this morning and introduced myself as
her cousin and. . .
You told her I was here?
Of course. Why not? She sounds lovely. Was she?
Lovely? I don't know. She was different.
[At the Louvre in Paris]
Whenever he thought of Ellen Olenska, it had been abstractly,
serenely, like animaginary loved one in a book or picture. She
had become the complete vision of allthat he had missed.
But I'm only fifty-seven.
[At Tuiileries in Paris. Ted and Archer, deep in conversation,
walk through the great gardens on their way to Madame Olenska's]
Did Mr. Beaufort really have such a bad time of it, when he
wanted to remarry? Noone wanted to give him an inch.
Perhaps because he had already taken so much.
If anyone remembers anymore. Or cares.
Well, he and Annie Ring did have a lovely daughter. You're very
We're very lucky, you mean.
Yes, that's what I mean.
So considering how that all turned out. . . and considering all
the time that's goneby. . . I don't see how you can resist.
Well, I did have some resistance at first to your marriage, I've
told you that. . .
No, I mean resist seeing the woman you almost threw everything
over for. Only youdidn't.
No. But mother said. . .
Yes. The day before she died. She asked to see me alone,
remember? She said sheknew we were safe with you, and always
would be. Because once, when she asked youto, you gave up the
thing you wanted most.
She never asked me.
[On the rue du Bac in Paris]
After a little while he did not regret Ted's indiscretion. It
seemed to take aniron band from his heart to know that, after
all, someone had guessed and pitied. . . And that it should have
been his wife moved him inexpressibly.
The porter says it's the fifth floor. It must be the one with the
[They both look toward an upper balcony, just above the horse-
chestnut trees in the square]
It's nearly six.
[Archer sees an empty bench under a tree]
I think I'll sit a moment.
Do you mean you won't come?
You really won't come at all?
I don't know.
She won't understand.
Go on, son. Maybe I'll follow you.
But what will I tell her?
(as he sits)
Don't you always have something to say?
I'll tell her you're old-fashioned and you insist on walking up
five flights insteadof taking the elevator.
Just say I'm old-fashioned. That should be enough.
[Ted gives his father a look of affectionate exasperation, then
crosses the square and goes into the building. Archer watches him
go. Then he looks up at the windows on the fifth floor. A curtain
moves, briefly, then falls back into place. Archer has a
flashback to the Summer House in Newport. A sailboat starts to
sail between the shore and a lighthouse. Ellen, in the summer
house, watches it. Her back is to him. The sailboat glides
between the shore and the lighthouse. Ellen stands in the last
brilliant burst of the setting sun. She starts to move. She turns
around and smiles. Back to Paris, a servant starts to roll up the
awning. Archer is still on the bench, watching the awning being
secured. The servant finishes and goes back inside. Archer
remains on the bench, alone in the twilight]