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The Age of Innocence (1993)

by Jay Cocks.
Transcript.
Based on the novel by Edith Wharton.

More info about this movie on IMDb.com


FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY


[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]  

LEFFERTS
Well.   

JACKSON
I didn't think the Mingotts would have tried it on.   

LEFFERTS
Parading her at the opera like that. Sitting her next to May 
Welland. It's all very odd.   

JACKSON
Well, she's had such an odd life.   

LEFFERTS
Will they even bring her to the Beauforts' ball, do you suppose?   

JACKSON
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]  

ARCHER
May. Mrs.  Welland. Good evening.   

MRS.  WELLAND
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]  

ARCHER
I hope you've told Madame Olenska.   

MAY
(teasing)

What?   

ARCHER
That we're engaged. I want everybody to know. Let me announce it 
this evening atthe ball.   

MAY
If you can persuade Mamma. But why should we change what is 
already settled?   

[Archer has no answer for this that is appropriate for this time 
and place. May senses his frustration and adds, smiling. . . ]  

MAY
But you can tell my cousin yourself. She remembers you.   

ELLEN
(Countess Olenska)

I remember we played together. Being here again makes me remember 
so much.   

[She gestures out across the theatre]  

ELLEN
I see everybody the same way, dressed in knickerbockers and 
pantalettes.   

[Archers sits beside her]  

ELLEN
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 
with.   

ARCHER
Yes, you have been away a very long time.   

ELLEN
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
(Regina)
 draws up her opera cloak about her shoulders. As she does this 
and leaves the box, we hear. . . ]  

NARRATOR
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
(14th Street)
 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]  

NARRATOR
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]  

NARRATOR
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 
Beaufort]  

NARRATOR
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]  

NARRATOR
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]  

NARRATOR
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]  

GUEST
(in mid-discussion)

But I didn't see you there this evening. Madame Nilsson was in 
such splendid voice.   

BEAUFORT
(snide)

The usual splendor, I'm sure.   

NARRATOR
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]  

MAY
You see, I told all my friends. Just as you asked.   

ARCHER
Yes, I couldn't wait. Only wish it hadn't had to be at a ball.   

MAY
Yes, I know. But after all, even here we're alone together aren't 
we?   

ARCHER
Always. The worst of it is. . .   

[He takes a quick look around the room
 no one's nearby]  

ARCHER
. . . 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]  

MAY
Did you tell Ellen, as I asked you?   

ARCHER
No. I didn't have the chance after all.   

MAY
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.   

ARCHER
Of course I'll tell her, dearest. But I haven't seen her yet.   

MAY
She decided not to come at the last minute.   

ARCHER
At the last minute?   

MAY
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
Oh well.   

[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]  

MRS.  MINGOTT
Very handsome. Very liberal. In my time a cameo set in pearls was 
thought to besufficient.   

MRS.  WELLAND
It's the new setting. Of course it shows the stone beautifully, 
but it looks bareold-fashioned eyes.   

MRS.  MINGOTT
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]  

MRS.  MINGOTT
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?   

MRS.  WELLAND
(a little flustered)

Oh. . .   

ARCHER
(jumping in)

As soon as ever it can. If only you'll back me up, Mrs.  Mingott.   

MRS.  WELLAND
(recovering)

We must give them time to know each other a little better, mamma.   

MRS.  MINGOTT
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.   

NARRATOR
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.   

NARRATOR
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.   

NARRATOR
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.   

NARRATOR
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 
they leave]  

MRS.  MINGOTT
Beaufort!This is a rare favor.   

BEAUFORT
Unnecessarily rare, I'd say. But I met Countess Ellen in Madison 
Square, and shewas good enough to let me walk home with her.   

MRS.  MINGOTT
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]  

ARCHER
(laughing shyly)

Of course you already know. About May and me. She scolded me for 
not telling youat the opera.   

ELLEN
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]  

ELLEN
Good-bye. Come and see me some day.   

[Outside the Mingott House. Archer follows May and her mother 
into their waiting carriage]  

MRS.  WELLAND
It's a mistake for Ellen to be seen parading up Fifth Avenue with 
Julius Beaufort atthe crowded hour. The very day after her 
arrival.   

[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 
Jackson]  

NARRATOR
Mrs.  Archer and her daughter Janey were both shy women and 
shrank from society. Butthey liked to be well informed of its 
doings.   

JACKSON
(in the midst of holding forth)

Certain nuances escape Beaufort.   

MRS.  ARCHER
Oh, necessarily. Beaufort is a vulgar man.   

ARCHER
Nevertheless, no business nuances escape him. Most of New York 
trusts him with itsaffairs.   

MRS.  ARCHER
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.   

NARRATOR
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 
Philadelphia.   

JANEY
And the Countess Olenska. . . was she at the ball too?   

MRS.  ARCHER
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.   

JACKSON
Well, in any case, she was not at the ball.   

MRS.  ARCHER
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]  

JACKSON
(can't resist)

Ah, how your grandfather appreciated a good meal, Newland.   

JANEY
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. . .   

MRS.  ARCHER
Yes, I'm sure it was in better taste not to go to the ball.   

ARCHER
I don't think it was a question of taste, mother. May said the 
countess decided herdress wasn't smart enough.   

MRS.  ARCHER
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?   

JANEY
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.   

ARCHER
Why?   

JANEY
I don't know. It sounds more. . . Polish.   

MRS.  ARCHER
It certainly sounds more conspicuous. And that can hardly be what 
she wishes.   

ARCHER
(argumentative)
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 
outcast.   

JACKSON
I'm sure that's the line the Mingotts mean to take.   

ARCHER
I don't have to wait for their cue, if that's what you mean, sir.   

MRS.  ARCHER
(trying to cool things out)
I'm told she's looking for a house. She means to live here.   

JANEY
I hear she means to get a divorce.   

ARCHER
I hope she will.   

[In the study at the Archer House. Jackson and Archer light up 
cigars]  

JACKSON
There are the rumors, too.   

ARCHER
I've heard them. About the secretary?   

JACKSON
He helped her get away from the husband. They say the Count kept 
her practically aprisoner.
(shrugs)
Certainly, the Count had his own way of life.   

ARCHER
You knew him?   

JACKSON
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.   

ARCHER
Then where's the blame? Any one of us, under the same 
circumstances, would havehelped the Countess, just as the 
secretary did.   

JACKSON
He was still helping her a year later, then, because somebody met 
them livingtogether at Lausanne.   

ARCHER
(reddening slightly)
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?   

JACKSON
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?   

ARCHER
(with some force)
I suppose I do. Yes, I do.   

JACKSON
Well, apparently Count Olenski also takes a similarly modern 
view. I've never heardof him lifting a finger to get his wife 
back.   

[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]  

NARRATOR
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]  

MRS.  ARCHER
"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.   

NARRATOR
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.   

MRS.  ARCHER
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]  

MRS.  ARCHER
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.   

ARCHER
Of course.   

MRS.  ARCHER
If we don't all stand together, there'll be no such thing as 
society left.   

[in the Drawing room at the van der Luyden House. Henry and 
Louisa van der Luyden are sitting with Newland and his mother]  

HENRY
And all this, you think, was due to some intentional interference 
by. . .   

ARCHER
. . . Larry Lefferts, yes sir. I'm certain of it.   

LOUISA
But why?   

ARCHER
Well. Excuse me but. . .   

LOUISA
Please, go on.   

ARCHER
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 
alightning rod.   

LOUISA
Extraordinary.   

HENRY
Not at all, my dear, I'm afraid.   

MRS.  ARCHER
We all felt this slight on the Countess should not pass without 
consulting you.   

HENRY
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.   

LOUISA
It seems so to me.   

HENRY
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]  

NARRATOR
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]  

NARRATOR
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]  

NARRATOR
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.   

ELLEN
I want you to talk to me about May.   

ARCHER
You knew the Duke before?   

ELLEN
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. . .
(mock conspiratorial)
. . . 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 
Lefferts?   

ARCHER
(laughs)
I think if he knew Lefferts was here the Santa Maria would never 
have leftport.   

ELLEN
And May. Does she share these views?   

ARCHER
If she does, she'd never say so.   

ELLEN
Are you very much in love with her?   

ARCHER
As much as a man can be.   

ELLEN
Do you think there's a limit?   

ARCHER
If there is, I haven't found it.   

ELLEN
Ah, it's really and truly a romance, then. Not in the least 
arranged.   

ARCHER
Have you forgotten? In our country we don't allow marriages to be 
arranged.   

ELLEN
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.   

ARCHER
I'm so sorry. But you are among friends here, you know.   

ELLEN
Yes, I know. That's why I came home.   

[May and her mother enter the room]  

ELLEN
You'll want to be with May.   

ARCHER
(looking at the men around May)
She's already surrounded. I have so many rivals.   

ELLEN
Then stay with me a little longer.   

ARCHER
Yes.   

[They are interrupted by Henry van der Luyden and a guest]  

HENRY
Countess, if I may. Mr.  Urban Dagonet.   

[Archer gets up to leave and Ellen holds her hand out to him]  

ELLEN
Tomorrow then. After five. I'll expect you.   

ARCHER
Tomorrow.   

[Louisa joins Archer]  

LOUISA
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]  

MAID
Verra, verra.   

[A carriage with Julius Beaufort and the Countess arrives and the 
Countess gets out and enters the house]  

ELLEN
Do you like this odd little housoe? To me it's like heaven.   

ARCHER
(reaching for the right compliment)
You've arranged it delightfully.   

ELLEN
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.   

ARCHER
(smiles)
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 
be alone?   

ELLEN
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]  

ELLEN
I see you've already chosen your corner. This is the hour I like 
best, don't you?   

ARCHER
I was afraid you'd forgotten the hour. I'm sure Beaufort can be 
very intriguing.   

ELLEN
He took me to see some houses. I'm told I must move, even though 
this street seemsperfectly respectable.   

ARCHER
Yes, but it's not fashionable.   

ELLEN
Is fashion such a serious consideration?   

ARCHER
Among people who have nothing more serious to consider.   

ELLEN
And how would these people consider my street?   

ARCHER
(lightly, disparagingly)
Oh, well, fleetingly, I'm afraid. Look at your neighbors. 
Dressmakers. Birdstuffers. Cafe owners.   

ELLEN
(smiling)
I'll count on you to always let me know about such important 
things.   

ARCHER
The van der Luydens do nothing by halves. All New York laid 
itself out for you lastnight.   

ELLEN
It was so kind. Such a nice party.   

[Archer wants to impress on her the importance of the van der 
Luydens' gesture]  

ARCHER
The van der Luydens are the most powerful influence in New York 
society. And theyreceive very seldom, because of cousin Louisa's 
health.   

ELLEN
Perhaps that's the reason then.   

ARCHER
The reason?   

ELLEN
For their influence. They make themselves so rare.   

[Her observation intrigues him.   

ELLEN
But of course you must tell me.   

ARCHER
No, it's you telling me.   

ELLEN
Then we can both help each other. Just tell me what to do.   

ARCHER
There are so many people already to tell you what to do.   

ELLEN
They're all a little angry with me, I think. For setting up for 
myself.   

ARCHER
Still, your family can advise you. . . show you the way.   

ELLEN
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.   

ARCHER
Everything is labeled. But everybody is not.   

ELLEN
There are only two people here who make me think they can help 
and understand. Youand Mr.  Beaufort.   

ARCHER
(reacts to mention of Beaufort)
I understand. Just don't let go of your old friends' hands so 
quickly.   

ELLEN
Then I must count on you for warnings, too.   

ARCHER
All the older women like and admire you. They want to help.   

ELLEN
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]  

ARCHER
No, no, you musn't. Madame Olenska. Ellen.   

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]  

FLORIST
Oh, Mr.  Archer, good evening. We didn't see you this morning, 
and weren't surewhether to send Miss Welland the usual. . .   

ARCHER
The lilies-of-the-valley, yes. We'd better make it a standing 
order.   

[He notices a cluster of yellow roses]  

ARCHER
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]  

ARCHER
They'll go at once?   

[At the aviary the next day]  

MAY
It's wonderful to wake every morning with lilies-of-the-valley in 
my room. It'slike being with you.   

ARCHER
They came late yesterday, I know. Somehow the time got away from 
me.   

MAY
Still, you always remember.   

ARCHER
I sent some roses to your cousin Ellen, too. Was that right?   

MAY
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]  

MAY
Well, I know you do consider it a long time.   

ARCHER
Very long.   

MAY
But the Chivers were engaged for a year and a half. Larry 
Lefferts and Gertrudewere engaged for two. I'm sure Mama expects 
something customary.   

ARCHER
Ever since you were little your parents let you have your way. 
You're almosttwenty-two. Just tell your mother what you want.   

MAY
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.   

ARCHER
Can't you and I just strike out for ourselves, May?   

MAY
(laughing lightly)
Shall we elope?   

ARCHER
If you would.   

MAY
You do love me, Newland. I'm so happy.   

ARCHER
Why not be happier?   

MAY
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]  

LETTERBLAIR
Countess Olenska wants to sue her husband for divorce. It's been 
suggested that shemeans to marry again, although she denies it.   

ARCHER
I beg your pardon, sir. But because of my engagement, perhaps one 
of the othermembers of our firm could consider the matter.   

LETTERBLAIR
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.   

ARCHER
It's a family matter. Perhaps, it's best settled by the family.   

LETTERBLAIR
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.   

ARCHER
I think that's for her to decide.   

[In the library at the Letterblair House]  

LETTERBLAIR
Have you considered the consequences if the Countess decides for 
divorce?   

ARCHER
Consequences for the Countess?   

LETTERBLAIR
For everyone.   

ARCHER
I don't think the Count's accusations amount to anything more 
than vague charges.   

LETTERBLAIR
It will make for some talk.   

ARCHER
Well I have heard talk about the Countess and her secretary. I 
heard it even beforeI read the legal papers.   

LETTERBLAIR
It's certain to be unpleasant.   

ARCHER
Unpleasant!  

LETTERBLAIR
Divorce is always unpleasant. Don't you agree?   

ARCHER
Naturally.   

LETTERBLAIR
Then I can count on you. The family can count on you. You'll use 
you influenceagainst the divorce?   

ARCHER
I can't promise that. Not until I see the Countess.   

LETTERBLAIR
I don't understand you, Mr.  Archer.   

[Archer pulls out one of his cards and starts to write a message 
on the back]  

LETTERBLAIR
Do you want to marry into a family with ascandalous divorce suit 
hanging over it?   

ARCHER
I don't think that has anything to do with the case.   

[Archer finishes the note]  

ARCHER
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]  

BEAUFORT
Three days at Skuytercliff with the van der Luydens? You'd better 
take your fur anda hot water bottle.   

ELLEN
Is the house that cold?   

BEAUFORT
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.   

ELLEN
That's very tempting. I haven't met a single artist since I've 
been here.   

ARCHER
I know one or two painters I could bring to see you, if you'd 
allow me.   

BEAUFORT
Painters? Are there any painters in New York?   

ELLEN
(smiling)
Thank you. But I was really thinking of singers, actors, 
musicians. Dramaticartists. There were always so many in my 
husband's house.
(to Beaufort)
Can I write tomorrow and let you know? It's too late to decide 
this evening.   

BEAUFORT
Is this late?   

ELLEN
Yes, because I still have to talk business with Mr.  Archer.   

BEAUFORT
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]  

ELLEN
You know painters, then? You live in their milieu?   

ARCHER
Oh, not exactly.   

ELLEN
But you care for such things?   

ARCHER
Immensely. When I'm in Paris or London I never miss an 
exhibition. I try to keepup.   

ELLEN
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.   

ARCHER
You'll never be like everybody else.   

ELLEN
Don't say that to me, please. I just want to put all the old 
things behind me.   

ARCHER
I know. Mr.  Letterblair told me.   

ELLEN
Mr.  Letterblair?   

ARCHER
Yes, I've come because he asked me to. I'm in the firm.   

ELLEN
You mean it's you who'll manage everything for me? I can talk to 
you? That's somuch easier.   

ARCHER
Yes. . . I'm here to talk about it. I've read all the legal 
papers, and the letterfrom the Count.   

ELLEN
It was vile.   

ARCHER
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. . .   

ELLEN
If?   

ARCHER
Even if they were unfounded.   

ELLEN
What harm could accusations like that do me here?   

ARCHER
Perhaps more harm than anywhere else. Our legislation favors 
divorce. But oursocial customs don't.   

ELLEN
Yes. So my family tells me. Our family. You'll be my cousin soon. 
And you agreewith them?   

ARCHER
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.   

ELLEN
My freedom. Is that nothing?   

ARCHER
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?   

ELLEN
No. It wouldn't be fair. Very well. I'll do as you wish.   

ARCHER
I do. . . I do want to help you.   

ELLEN
You do help me.   

[Archer stands up]  

ELLEN
Good night, cousin.   

[Theatre night in the Beaufort box. Everyone is chatting as 
Archer enters the room]  

LEFFERTS
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]  

LEFFERTS
Remarkable isn't it, Newland?   

ARCHER
These actors certainly are. They're even better than the case in 
London.   

BEAUFORT
You see this play even when you travel? I'd travel to get away 
from it.   

[Archer sits behind Ellen while Sillerton Jackson continues to 
regale Regina Beaufort with details of the latest social news]  

JACKSON
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.   

REGINA
(a bit intrigued)
A real French Sunday, then.   

[Ellen turns to Archer]  

ELLEN
Do you think her lover will send her a box of yellow roses 
tomorrow morning?   

ARCHER
(surprised)
I was. . . I was thinking about that, too. The farewell scene. . 
.   

ELLEN
Yes, I know. It touches me as well.   

ARCHER
Usually, I leave after that scene. To take the picture away with 
me.   

ELLEN
I had a letter from May. From St.  Augustine.   

ARCHER
They always winter there. Her mother's bronchitis.   

ELLEN
And what do you do while May is away?   

ARCHER
(a little defensive)
I do my work.   

ELLEN
I do want you to know. What you advised me was right. Things can 
be so difficultsometimes. . . And I'm so grateful.   

[Montage]  

NARRATOR
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' 
country home.   

[On a country road during the day]  

ELLEN
"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]  

NARRATOR
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]  

ARCHER
I came to see what you were running away from.   

ELLEN
I knew you'd come  

ARCHER
That shows you wanted me to.   

ELLEN
Cousin May wrote she asked you to take care of me.   

ARCHER
I didn't need to be asked.   

ELLEN
Why? Does that mean I'm so helpless and defenseless? Or that 
women here are soblessed they never feel need?   

ARCHER
What sort of need?   

ELLEN
Please don't ask me. I don't speak your language.   

[They walk past an old house with squat walls and small square 
windows]  

ELLEN
Henry left the old Patroon house open for me. I wanted to see it.   

[Inside the Patroon House]  

ARCHER
When you wrote me, you were unhappy.   

ELLEN
Yes. But I can't feel unhappy when you're here.   

ARCHER
I can't be here long.   

ELLEN
I know. But I'm a little impulsive. I live in the moment when I'm 
happy.   

ARCHER
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]  

ARCHER
Ah!  

[He laughs and Ellen quickly moves to his side. She looks out the 
window and sees Beaufort. She steps back startled]  

ARCHER
Is he what you were running from? Or what you expected?   

ELLEN
I didn't know he was here.   

[Archer walks to the front door and throws it open]  

ARCHER
Hello, Beaufort!This way!Madame Olenska was expecting you.   

[Beaufort enters with assurance, addressing his remarks to Ellen]  

BEAUFORT
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 
Archer]  

BEAUFORT
Well, Archer. Rusticating?   

[In the study at the Archer House at night. Archer is unpacking 
books from a carton]  

NARRATOR
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 
Archer]  

ELLEN
"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 
approaches]  

MAY
Newland!Has anything happened?   

ARCHER
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 
little startled]  

ARCHER
What is it?   

MAY
Nothing.   

ARCHER
Tell me what you do all day.   

MAY
(brightening)
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. . .   

ARCHER
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]  

ARCHER
Don't you understand how much I want to marry you? Why should we 
dream away anotheryear?   

MAY
I'm not sure I do understand. Is it because you're not certain of 
still feeling thesame way about me?   

ARCHER
God, I. . . maybe. . . I don't know.   

MAY
Is there someone else?   

ARCHER
Someone else? Between you and me?   

MAY
Let's talk frankly, Newland. Sometimes I've felt a difference in 
you, especiallysince our engagement.   

[He starts to protest. She hurries on]  

MAY
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 
a mistake.   

ARCHER
If I'd made some sort of mistake, would I be down here asking you 
to hurry ourmarriage?   

MAY
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.   

ARCHER
Is that what you've been concerned about? That's long past.   

MAY
Then is there something else?   

ARCHER
Of course not.   

MAY
(rushing on)
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!  

ARCHER
There are no pledges. There are no promises that matter.   

[May looks as if a great weight had been taken from her]  

ARCHER
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.   

NARRATOR
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]  

MRS.  MINGOTT
And did you succeed?   

ARCHER
No. But I'd still like to be married in April. With your help.   

MRS.  MINGOTT
Well, you're seeing the Mingott way. When I built this house the 
family reacted asif I was moving to California. Now you're 
challenging everyone.   

ARCHER
Is this really so difficult?   

MRS.  MINGOTT
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.
(smiling)
You've got a quick eye. Why in the world didn't you marry her?   

ARCHER
(laughs)
For one thing, she wasn't there to be married.   

MRS.  MINGOTT
No, to be sure. And she's still not. The Count, you know. He's 
sent a letter.   

ARCHER
No, I didn't know.   

MRS.  MINGOTT
Mr.  Letterblair says the Count wants Ellen back. On her own 
terms.   

ARCHER
I don't believe it.   

MRS.  MINGOTT
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 
weighted.   

ARCHER
I would rather see her dead.   

MRS.  MINGOTT
(shrewdly)
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]  

MRS.  MINGOTT
Ellen, see who's here.   

ELLEN
Yes, I know.
(to Archer)
I went to see your mother to ask where you'd gone. Since you 
never answered mynote.   

MRS.  MINGOTT
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.   

ELLEN
Well surely, Granny, between us we can persuade the Wellands to 
do as he wishes.   

MRS.  MINGOTT
There, Newland, you see. Right to the quick of the problem. Like 
me.
(to Ellen)
I told him he should have married you.   

ELLEN
And what did he say?   

MRS.  MINGOTT
Oh, my darling, I leave you to find that out.   

[Archer who has done his best to abide this teasing, now rises to 
go]  

[In the doorway at the Mingott House]  

ARCHER
(quietly)
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]  

ELLEN
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]  

ELLEN
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]  

ELLEN
I'm sure Granny must have told you everything about me.   

ARCHER
She did say you were used to all kinds of splendors we can't give 
you here.   

ELLEN
Well, I'll tell you. In almost everything she says there's 
something true, andsomething untrue. Why? What has she been 
telling you?   

ARCHER
I think she believes you might go back to your husband. I think 
she believes youmight at least consider it.   

ELLEN
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.   

ARCHER
(under pressure)
May and I had a frank talk in Florida. Probably our first. She 
wants a longengagement to give me time. . .   

ELLEN
Time to give her up for another woman?   

ARCHER
If I want to.   

ELLEN
That's very noble.   

ARCHER
Yes. But it's ridiculous.   

ELLEN
Why? Because there is no other woman?   

ARCHER
No. Because I don't mean to marry anyone else.   

ELLEN
This other woman. . . does she love you, too?   

ARCHER
There is no other woman. I mean, the person May was thinking of. 
. . was never. . .
(slowly)
. . . 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]  

ELLEN
Don't make love to me. Too many people have done that.   

ARCHER
I've never made love to you. But you are the woman I would have 
married if it hadbeen possible for either of us.   

ELLEN
Possible? You can say that when you're the one who's made it 
impossible.   

ARCHER
I've made it. . .   

ELLEN
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.   

ARCHER
But there were things in your husband's letter. . .   

ELLEN
I had nothing to fear from that letter. Absolutely nothing. You 
were just afraidof scandal for yourself, and for May.   

[Ellen starts crying]  

ARCHER
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]  

ARCHER
No!Everything is different. Do you see me marrying May now?   

ELLEN
Would you ask her that question? Would you?   

ARCHER
I have to ask her. It's too late to do anything else.   

ELLEN
You say that because it's easy, not because it's true.   

ARCHER
This has changed everything  

ELLEN
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)
  

ELLEN
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 
over him]  

ELLEN
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]  

ARCHER
And Beaufort, with his orchids? Can you love him? (furious)
May is ready to give me up!  

ELLEN
(quietly)
Three days after you pleaded with her to advance your engagement 
she will give youup?   

ARCHER
She refused!That gives me the right. . .   

ELLEN
The right? The same kind of ugly right as my husband claims in 
his letters?   

ARCHER
No, of course not!But if we do this now. . . afterward, it will 
only be worse foreveryone if we. . .   

ELLEN
(almost screaming)
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]  

ELLEN
I won't be going out tonight after all.   

ARCHER
(sarcastic)
Please don't sacrifice. I have no right to keep you from your 
friends.   

MAID
(in Italian)
This was delivered.   

[Ellen takes the envelope, reads it and hands it to Archer]  

[In the gardens at St.  Augustine]  

MAY
"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 
May. "  

[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]  

NARRATOR
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]  

MAY
I hope I don't look ridiculous. I've never dined out in London.   

ARCHER
Englishwomen dress just like everybody else in the evening, don't 
they?   

MAY
How can you even ask that, when they're always at the theatre in 
old ball-dressesand bare heads.   

ARCHER
Well perhaps they save their new dresses for home.   

MAY
Then I shouldn't have worn this?   

ARCHER
No. You look fine.
(meaning it)
Quite beautiful.   

NARRATOR
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]  

NARRATOR
Rochee modelled May's hands in marble. And occasionally they 
dined out.   

[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]  

NARRATOR
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]  

ARCHER
We had an awfully good talk. Interesting fellow. We talked about 
books and things. I asked him to dinner.   

MAY
The Frenchman? I didn't have much chance to talk to him, but 
wasn't he a littlecommon?   

ARCHER
Common? I thought he was clever.   

MAY
I suppose I shouldn't have known if he was clever.   

ARCHER
(quickly, resigned)
Then I won't ask him to dine.   

NARRATOR
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]  

NARRATOR
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 
admiringly]  

LEFFERTS
She's very deft.   

BEAUFORT
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]  

NARRATOR
No one could ever be jealous of May's triumphs. She managed to 
give the feelingthat she would have been just as serene without 
them.   

[May takes Archer's arm as they walk across the lawn together]  

NARRATOR
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 
carriage]  

MAY
Has Regina Beaufort been here at all this summer?   

ARCHER
I don't know. There's a great deal of gossip. I expect Beaufort 
will bring AnnieRing here any day.   

MAY
Not even he would dare that!  

ARCHER
He's reckless in everything. Even his railway speculations are 
turning bad. But hejust answers every rumor with a fresh 
extravagance.   

MAY
I heard he gave Regina pearls worth half a million.   

ARCHER
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 
blouse]  

MRS.  MINGOTT
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 
daughter.   

[In the drawing room of the Mingott Newport cottage. May blushes 
and Mrs.  Mingott pinches her arm teasingly]  

MRS.  MINGOTT
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. . . ]  

MRS.  MINGOTT
Ellen!Ellen, are you upstairs?   

[Archer is startled at the mention of Ellen]  

MRS.  MINGOTT
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!  

MAID
I'm sorry, ma'am, Miss Ellen's not in the house.   

MRS.  MINGOTT
She's left?   

MAID
I saw her going down the shore path.   

[Mrs.  Mingott turns to Archer]  

MRS.  MINGOTT
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]  

NARRATOR
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 
shore]  

NARRATOR
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 
away]  

[Outside the Mingott House]  

MAY
I'm sorry you didn't find her. But I've heard she's so changed.   

ARCHER
Changed?   

MAY
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.   

ARCHER
(laughs)
I don't think I've ever heard you be cruel before.   

[Archer helps her into the carriage]  

MAY
Cruel?   

ARCHER
Even demons don't think people are happier in hell.   

MAY
(placidly)
Then she shouldn't have married abroad.   

[She starts to take the reins of the carriage. Archer lifts them 
from her]  

ARCHER
Let me.   

[At the Welland House in Newport the next morning. Archer, Mrs.  
Archer, Janey, Mrs.  Welland and May are having breakfast]  

MRS.  WELLAND
The Blenkers. A party for the Blenkers?   

JANEY
Who are they?   

MAY
The Portsmouth people, I think. The ones Countess Olenska is 
staying with.   

MRS.  ARCHER
"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.   

JANEY
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. . .   

MRS.  ARCHER
And he is Sillerton Jackson's cousin.   

JANEY
(chastened)
Of course.   

MRS.  WELLAND
Some of us will have to go.   

MAY
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.
(to Archer)
Newland, you can find some way to spend the afternoon, can't you?   

ARCHER
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. . . ]  

KATIE BLENKER
Hello?   

[His eyes open and he turns and sees Katie Blenker, an adolescent 
girl with open, friendly curiosity. She looks, for an instant, 
familiar
Archer thinks that he has been surprised by May]  

KATIE BLENKER
I'm sorry, did you ring, I've been asleep in the hammock. . .   

ARCHER
I didn't mean to disturb you. Are you Miss Blenker? I'm Newland 
Archer.   

KATIE
I've heard so much about you.   

ARCHER
I came up the island to see about a new horse, and I thought I'd 
call. But thehouse seemed empty. . .   

KATIE
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]  

KATIE
Everyone's there but me, with my fever, and Countess Olenska. . . 
oh, you found myparasol!  

[She takes it from his hand]  

KATIE
It's my best one. It's from the Cameroons.   

ARCHER
(trying to be casual)
The Countess was called away?   

KATIE
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.   

ARCHER
(interrupting her)
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 
beside her]  

ELLEN
(startled)
Oh.
(now smiling)
Oh.   

ARCHER
I'm here on business. Just got here, actually. You're doing your 
hair differently.   

ELLEN
Only because the maid's not with me. She stayed back in 
Portsmouth. I'm only herefor two days, it didn't seem worth. . .   

ARCHER
You're travelling alone?   

ELLEN
(sly)
Yes. Why, do you think it's a little dangerous?   

ARCHER
(smiling)
Well, it's unconventional.   

ELLEN
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.   

ARCHER
Someone came with an offer?   

[She nods]  

ARCHER
What were the conditions?   

ELLEN
(simply)
I refused.   

ARCHER
(pressing)
Tell me the conditions.   

ELLEN
Nothing unbearable, really. Just to sit at the head of his table 
now and then.   

ARCHER
And he wants you back, at any price?   

ELLEN
Well, it's a considerable price. At least it's considerable for 
me.   

ARCHER
So you came to meet him.   

[She stares, then laughs suddenly]  

ELLEN
My husband? Here? No, of course not. He sent someone.   

ARCHER
(very careful now)
His secretary?   

ELLEN
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]  

ELLEN
You haven't changed, Newland.   

ARCHER
(intense)
I had changed, till I saw you again.   

ELLEN
Please don't.   

ARCHER
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?   

ELLEN
At eleven. Just in case. . .   

ARCHER
Then we must leave now. It's been a hundred years since we've 
met.   

ELLEN
Where will we go?   

ARCHER
Where?   

[He's stumped
 emotion has gotten in the way of foresight. He seems addled for 
a moment.  She smiles at him]  

ELLEN
Somewhere cool, at any rate.   

ARCHER
We'll take the steamboat down to Point Arley. There's an inn.   

ELLEN
I'll have to leave a note at the hotel.   

[He pulls a note-case from his pocket]  

ARCHER
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]  

ARCHER
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]  

ARCHER
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]  

ARCHER
Shall I take it in?   

ELLEN
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 
familiar]  

[At the Inn. Archer and Ellen are sitting at a table outside]  

ELLEN
Why didn't you come down to the beach to get me the day I was at 
Granny's?   

ARCHER
Because you didn't turn around. You didn't know I was there. I 
swore I wouldn'tcall you unless you looked around.   

ELLEN
But I didn't look on purpose.   

ARCHER
You knew?   

ELLEN
I recognized the carriage when you drove in. So I went to the 
beach.   

ARCHER
To get as far away from me as you could.   

ELLEN
As I could. Yes.   

ARCHER
Well you see, then. It's no use. It's better to face each other.   

ELLEN
I only want to be honest with you.   

ARCHER
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.   

ELLEN
I believe it's because of you.   

ARCHER
Me? I'm the man who married one woman because another one told 
him to.   

ELLEN
You promised not to say those things today.   

ARCHER
I can't keep that promise.   

ELLEN
And what about May? What does May feel? That's the thing we've 
always got to thinkof, by your own showing.   

ARCHER
My showing?   

ELLEN
Yes, yours. Otherwise everything you taught me would be a sham.   

ARCHER
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.   

ELLEN
I'm enduring it.   

ARCHER
You too? All this time, you too?   

[She doesn't reply]  

ARCHER
What's the use? We can't be like this. When will you go back?   

ELLEN
I won't. Not yet. Not as long as we both can stand it.   

ARCHER
This is not a life for you.   

ELLEN
It is. As long as it's part of yours.   

ARCHER
And the way I live. . . my life. . . how can it be part of yours?   

ELLEN
Don't. . . don't be unhappy.   

ARCHER
You won't go back? You won't go back?   

ELLEN
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]  

RIVIERE
(French accent)
It's Mr.  Archer, I think?   

ARCHER
Yes?   

RIVIERE
My name is Reviere. We dined together in Paris last year.   

ARCHER
Oh yes. I'm sorry I didn't quite recall. . .   

RIVIERE
Quite alright. I had the advantage. I saw you yesterday in 
Boston.   

[Archer is taken aback by this]  

[In Archer's office]  

ARCHER
I still do not understand why we're speaking.   

RIVIERE
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 
changed, Monsieur.   

ARCHER
(a tinge of jealous suspicion)
You knew her before?   

RIVIERE
I used to see her in her husband's house. The Count would never 
have trusted mymission to a stranger.   

ARCHER
This change. . .   

RIVIERE
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 
his hand]  

ARCHER
Thank you.   

[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]  

MRS.  ARCHER
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 
the fashion.   

NARRATOR
He had written to her once in Washington. Just a few lines, 
asking when they wereto meet again. And she wrote back
 "Not yet. "  

JANEY
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. . .   

JACKSON
(helpfully)
Her rivals?   

JANEY
. . . like that Annie Ring.   

MRS.  ARCHER
Careful, dear.   

JANEY
Well, everybody knows.   

JACKSON
Indeed. Beaufort always put his business around. And now that his 
business is gonethere are bound to be disclosures.   

MAY
Gone? Is it that bad?   

JACKSON
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]  

JACKSON
Very difficult for Regina, of course. And it's a pity. . . it's 
certainly a pity. . . that Countess Olenska refused her husband's 
offer.   

ARCHER
Why, for God's sake?   

JACKSON
Well. . . to put it on the lowest ground. . . what's she going to 
live on now?   

ARCHER
Now. . . !  

JACKSON
Well, I mean now that Beaufort. . .   

ARCHER
What the hell does that mean, sir?   

JACKSON
(continuing tranquilly)
Most of her money's invested with Beaufort, and the allowance 
she's been gettingfrom the family is so cut back. . .   

ARCHER
She has something, I'm sure.   

JACKSON
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. . .   

ARCHER
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.   

JACKSON
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.   

ARCHER
(pause)
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]  

ARCHER
The lamp is smoking again. The servants should see to it.   

MAY
I'm sorry.   

ARCHER
I may have to go to Washington for a few days.   

MAY
When?   

ARCHER
Tomorrow. I'm sorry, I should have said something before.   

MAY
On business?   

ARCHER
On business, of course. There's a patent case coming up before 
the Supreme Court. I just got the papers from Letterblair. It 
seems. . .   

MAY
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]  

ARCHER
(indicating lamp)
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]  

MAY
Granny's had a stroke.   

[In the bedroom at the Mingott House. The servants are carrying 
Mrs.  Mingott out on a heavy chair]  

MRS.  MINGOTT
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]  

MRS.  MINGOTT
You're very dear to come. But perhaps you only wanted to see what 
I'd left you.   

MAY
Granny, that's shocking!  

[The servants set Mrs.  Mingott down in the drawing room in her 
accustomed spot]  

MRS.  MINGOTT
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. . . ]  

MRS.  MINGOTT
. . . 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]  

MRS.  MINGOTT
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.   

ARCHER
If there's any way we can help. . .   

MRS.  MINGOTT
Well, my Ellen is coming. I expressly asked for her. She arrives 
this afternoon onthe train. If you could fetch her. . .   

ARCHER
Of course. If May will send the brougham, I can take the ferry.   

MAY
(the slightest pause)
There, you see, Granny. Everyone will be settled.   

[Archer and May are leaving Mrs.  Mingott's house and entering 
their carriage]  

MAY
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 
afternoon?   

ARCHER
I'm not going. The case is off. Postponed. I heard from 
Letterblair this morning.   

MAY
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?   

ARCHER
Well, that's it. The whole office can't go. Letterblair decided 
to go thismorning.   

MAY
Then it's not postponed?   

[The blood rises in Archer's face]  

ARCHER
No. But my going is.   

[At the train station]  

NARRATOR
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]  

ARCHER
You didn't expect me today?   

ELLEN
No.   

ARCHER
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]  

ARCHER
Did you know. . . I hardly remembered you.   

ELLEN
Hardly remembered?   

ARCHER
I mean. . . I mean it's always the same. Each time I see you. You 
happen to me allover again.   

ELLEN
Oh yes. I know, I know. For me too.   

[Later in the journey]  

ARCHER
Your husband's secretary came to see me. The day after we met in 
Boston.   

[She seems surprised]  

ARCHER
You didn't know?   

ELLEN
No. But he told me he had met you. In Paris, I think.   

ARCHER
Ellen. . . I have to ask you. Just one thing.   

ELLEN
Yes?   

ARCHER
Was it Riviere who helped you get away after you left your 
husband?   

ELLEN
Yes. I owe him a great debt.   

ARCHER
(quietly)
I think you're the most honest woman I ever met.   

ELLEN
(slight smile)
No. But probably one of the least fussy.   

ARCHER
Ellen, We can't stay like this. It can't last.   

ELLEN
What?   

ARCHER
Our being together and not being together. It's impossible.   

ELLEN
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 
carriage]  

ARCHER
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.   

ELLEN
I think we should look at reality, not dreams.   

ARCHER
(desperate)
I just want us to be together.   

ELLEN
I can't be your wife, Newland. Is it your idea I should live with 
you as yourmistress?   

ARCHER
I want. . . somehow I want to get away with you. Find a world 
where words like thatwon't exist.   

ELLEN
Oh my dear. . . whare is that country? Have you ever been there? 
Is there anywhere wecan be happy behind the backs of people who 
trust us?   

ARCHER
I'm beyond caring about that.   

ELLEN
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]  

ELLEN
Why are we stopping? This isn't Granny's.   

ARCHER
No. I'll get out here. You were right. I shouldn't have come 
today.   

[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]  

MAY
What are you reading?   

ARCHER
Oh, a history. About Japan.   

MAY
Why?   

ARCHER
I don't know. Because it's a different country.   

MAY
You used to read poetry. It was so nice when you read it to me.   

[He gets to his feet]  

ARCHER
I need some air.   

[He goes to the window and opens it and leans out into the cold]  

MAY
Newland!You'll catch your death.   

ARCHER
Catch my death. Of course.   

NARRATOR
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 
free.   

[May sees him looking at her]  

MAY
Newland?   

[He walks to her and touches her head]  

ARCHER
Poor May.   

MAY
Poor? Why poor?   

ARCHER
Because I'll never be able to open a window without worrying you.   

MAY
I'll never worry if you're happy.   

ARCHER
And I'll never be happy unless I can open the windows.   

MAY
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]  

ARCHER
I have to see you. I didn't know when you were leaving again.   

ELLEN
I'm due at Regina Beaufort's. Granny lent me her carriage.   

ARCHER
With all that's happened, you're still goinig to see Regina 
Beaufort?   

ELLEN
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]  

ARCHER
But you won't go back?   

ELLEN
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]  

ARCHER
You won't need my help if you have Granny's.   

ELLEN
I will still need your help. If I stay, we will have to help each 
other.   

ARCHER
I have to see you. Somewhere we can be alone.   

ELLEN
(smiles)
In New York?   

ARCHER
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]  

ARCHER
You came to New York because you were afraid.   

ELLEN
Afraid?   

ARCHER
Of my coming to Washington.   

ELLEN
I promised Granny to stay in her house because I thought I would 
be safer.   

ARCHER
Safer from me?   

[She bends her head]  

ARCHER
Safer from loving me?   

ELLEN
(pause)
Shall I come to you once, and then go home?   

[He doesn't answer. She gets up and starts out. He catches her by 
the arm]  

ARCHER
Come to me once, then.   

[They look at each other almost like enemies]  

ARCHER
(pressing)
When? Tomorrow?   

ELLEN
(hesitating)
The day after.   

[She moves away down the long gallery. He follows her]  

ELLEN
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]  

MAY
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]  

ARCHER
Is it late?   

MAY
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]  

ARCHER
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]  

MAY
You haven't kissed me today.   

[At the Theatre]  

NARRATOR
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 
this evening.   

[Archer enters the box and leans over to May]  

ARCHER
My head's bursting. Don't tell anyone, but please come home with 
me.   

[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]  

MAY
Shouldn't you rest?   

ARCHER
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. . .   

MAY
(interrupting)
Oh, why should we talk about Ellen tonight?   

ARCHER
Because I should have spoken before.   

MAY
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?   

ARCHER
Over? How do you mean, over?   

MAY
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 
silence]  

ARCHER
It's impossible.   

MAY
Impossible? Certainly she could have stayed here, with Granny's 
extra money. But Iguess she's given us up after all.   

ARCHER
How do you know that?   

MAY
From Ellen. I told you I saw her at Granny's yesterday.   

ARCHER
And she told you yesterday?   

MAY
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]  

MAY
I thought you knew.   

[She hold out the note and he takes it]  

ELLEN
"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 
useless. "  

ARCHER
Why did she write this?   

MAY
I suppose because we talked things over yesterday.   

ARCHER
What things?   

MAY
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.
(more slowly)
She understood why I wanted to tell her this, I think she 
understands everything.   

[She takes one of his cold hands and presses it quickly to her 
cheek]  

MAY
My head aches, too. Good night, dear.   

[In the dining room at the Archer House]  

NARRATOR
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]  

NARRATOR
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.   

JANEY
Regina's not well at all, but that doesn't stop Beaufort from 
devoting as much timeto Annie Ring. . .   

[Archer turns to Ellen]  

ARCHER
Was the trip from Washington very tiring?   

ELLEN
The heat in the train was dreadful. But all travel has its 
hardships.   

ARCHER
Whatever they may be, they're worth it. Just to get away.   

[She can't reply]  

ARCHER
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]  

ARCHER
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.   

PHILIP
Possibly, possibly.   

MRS.  VAN DER LUYDEN
But not Naples, Dr.  Bencomb says there's a fever.   

ARCHER
There's India, too.   

PHILIP
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]  

LEFFERTS
Beaufort may not receive invitations anymore, but it's clear he 
still maintains acertain position.   

PHILIP
Horizontal, from all I've heard.   

LEFFERTS
(indignant)
If things go on like this, we'll be seeing our children fighting 
for invitations toswindlers' houses and marrying Beaufort's 
bastards.   

JACKSON
Has he got any?   

[Laughter from the group]  

GUEST
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]  

NARRATOR
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 
belief.   

[In the front hall. Archer is helping Ellen with her cloak]  

ARCHER
Shall I see you to your carriage?   

[She turns to him as Mrs.  van der Luyden steps forward]  

MRS.  VAN DER LUYDEN
(casual)
We are driving deal Ellen home.   

[Ellen offers her hand to Archer]  

ELLEN
Good-bye.   

ARCHER
Good-bye. But I'll see you soon in Paris.   

ELLEN
Oh. . . if you and May could come. . .   

[In the library at the Archer House. May is at the doorway]  

MAY
It did go off beautifully, didn't it.   

ARCHER
Oh. Yes.   

MAY
May I come in and talk it over?   

ARCHER
Of course. But you must be very sleepy.   

MAY
No. I'm not. I'd like to be with you a little.   

ARCHER
Fine.   

[They sit in separate chairs near the fire]  

ARCHER
(pause)
Since you're not tired and want to talk, there's something I have 
to tell you. Itried the other night.   

MAY
Oh yes, dear. Something about yourself?   

ARCHER
About myself, yes. You say you're not tired. But I am. I'm tired 
of everything. I want to make a break. . .   

MAY
You mean give up the law?   

ARCHER
Well, maybe. To get away, at any rate. Right away. On a long 
trip. Go somewherethat's so far. . .   

MAY
How far?   

ARCHER
I don't know. I thought of India. Or Japan.   

[She stands up and walk toward him]  

MAY
As far as that? But I'm afraid you can't, dear. . .
(unsteady voice)
. . . 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]  

MAY
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]  

ARCHER
Oh.   

MAY
You didn't guess?   

ARCHER
No. Of course, I mean, I hoped, but. . .   

[He looks away from her]  

ARCHER
(quietly)
Have you told anyone else?   

MAY
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 
me.   

ARCHER
Ah.   

MAY
Did you mind my telling her, Newland?   

ARCHER
Mind? Why should I? But that was two weeks ago, wasn't it? I 
thought you said youweren't sure till today.   

MAY
(face flushed)
No. I wasn't sure then. But I told her I was. And you see. . .   

[She looks up at him, moving closer]  

MAY
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]  

NARRATOR
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]  

ARCHER
Yes? Hello?   

OPERATOR
Chicago wants you.   

TED
Dad?   

ARCHER
Ted?   

TED
I'm just about finished out here, but my client wants me to look 
at some gardensbefore I start designing.   

ARCHER
Fine. Where?   

TED
Europe. I'll have to sail next Wednesday on the Mauretania.   

ARCHER
And miss the wedding?   

TED
Annie will wait for me. I'll be back on the first and our 
wedding's not 'till thefifth.   

ARCHER
(affectionate)
I'm surprised you remember the date.   

TED
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 
son trip.   

ARCHER
I appreciate the invitation, but. . .   

TED
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]  

TED
I'm going out to Versailles with Tourneur. Will you join us?   

ARCHER
I thought I'd go to the Louvre.   

TED
I'll meet you there later, then. Countess Olenska is expecting us 
at half-pastfive.   

ARCHER
(stunned)
What?   

TED
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. . .   

ARCHER
You told her I was here?   

TED
Of course. Why not? She sounds lovely. Was she?   

ARCHER
Lovely? I don't know. She was different.   

[At the Louvre in Paris]  

NARRATOR
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.   

ARCHER
(whispering)
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]  

TED
Did Mr.  Beaufort really have such a bad time of it, when he 
wanted to remarry? Noone wanted to give him an inch.   

ARCHER
Perhaps because he had already taken so much.   

TED
If anyone remembers anymore. Or cares.   

ARCHER
Well, he and Annie Ring did have a lovely daughter. You're very 
lucky.   

TED
We're very lucky, you mean.   

ARCHER
Yes, that's what I mean.   

TED
So considering how that all turned out. . . and considering all 
the time that's goneby. . . I don't see how you can resist.   

ARCHER
Well, I did have some resistance at first to your marriage, I've 
told you that. . .   

TED
No, I mean resist seeing the woman you almost threw everything 
over for. Only youdidn't.   

ARCHER
(cautious)
I didn't.   

TED
No. But mother said. . .   

ARCHER
Your mother?   

TED
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.   

ARCHER
She never asked me.   

[On the rue du Bac in Paris]  

NARRATOR
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.   

TED
The porter says it's the fifth floor. It must be the one with the 
awnings.   

[They both look toward an upper balcony, just above the horse-
chestnut trees in the square]  

TED
It's nearly six.   

[Archer sees an empty bench under a tree]  

ARCHER
I think I'll sit a moment.   

TED
Do you mean you won't come?   

[Archer shrugs]  

TED
You really won't come at all?   

ARCHER
I don't know.   

TED
She won't understand.   

ARCHER
Go on, son. Maybe I'll follow you.   

TED
But what will I tell her?   

ARCHER
(as he sits)
Don't you always have something to say?   

TED
I'll tell her you're old-fashioned and you insist on walking up 
five flights insteadof taking the elevator.   

ARCHER
(pause)
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]

  THE END 

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