She shrugged her shoulders, with a little movement like Nastasias, and rejoined in a lighter tone: Shall we walk on? Im so cold after the sermon. And what does it matter, now youre here to protect me?
The blood rose to his temples and he caught a fold of her cloak. Ellenwhat is it? You must tell me.
Oh, presentlylets run a race first: my feet are freezing to the ground, she cried; and gathering up the cloak she fled away across the snow, the dog leaping about her with challenging barks. For a moment Archer stood watching, his gaze delighted by the flash of the red meteor against the snow; then he started after her, and they met, panting and laughing, at a wicket that led into the park.
She looked up at him and smiled. I knew youd come!
That shows you wanted me to, he returned, with a disproportionate joy in their nonsense. The white glitter of the trees filled the air with its own mysterious brightness, and as they walked on over the snow the ground seemed to sing under their feet.
Where did you come from? Madame Olenska asked.
He told her, and added: It was because I got your note.
After a pause she said, with a just perceptible chill in her voice: May asked you to take care of me.
I didnt need any asking.
You meanIm so evidently helpless and defenceless? What a poor thing you must all think me! But women here seem notseem never to feel the need: any more than the blessed in heaven.
He lowered his voice to ask: What sort of a need?
Ah, dont ask me! I dont speak your language, she retorted petulantly.
The answer smote him like a blow, and he stood still in the path, looking down at her.
What did I come for, if I dont speak yours?
Oh, my friend! She laid her hand lightly on his arm, and he pleaded earnestly: Ellenwhy wont you tell me whats happened?
She shrugged again. Does anything ever happen in heaven?
He was silent, and they walked on a few yards without exchanging a word. Finally she said: I will tell youbut where, where, where? One cant be alone for a minute in that great seminary of a house, with all the doors wide open, and always a servant bringing tea, or a log for the fire, or the newspaper! Is there nowhere in an American house where one may be by ones self? Youre so shy, and yet youre so public. I always feel as if I were in the convent againor on the stage, before a dreadfully polite audience that never applauds.
Ah, you dont like us! Archer exclaimed.
They were walking past the house of the old Patroon, with its squat walls and small square windows compactly grouped about a central chimney. The shutters stood wide, and through one of the newly- washed windows Archer caught the light of a fire.
Whythe house is open! he said.
She stood still. No; only for today, at least. I wanted to see it, and Mr. van der Luyden had the fire lit and the windows opened, so that we might stop there on the way back from church this morning. She