Chapter 22 Summary
Mr. and Mrs. Welland receive an invitation from Mrs. Emerson Sillerton to a party for the Blenkers. Both of May’s parents are astonished that the Sillertons would throw a party for a family that was not considered part of their inner circle. Mr. Blenker is an archaeologist, a lowly working man. Although Mrs. Blenker came from a monied family, she has been known to travel with her husband to very strange places to assist him in his research rather than spend her summers in Europe or Rhode Island, as the Wellands and other respectable people do. However, etiquette demands that one or two members of the Welland family attend the party. No one asks Archer to do the honors.
On the day of the party, assuming that the Blenkers would be at the Sillertons’ home, Newland Archer invents an excuse to drive his buggy to the island on which the Blenkers live. He is not sure that he is doing this to see Ellen, who is living there for the summer, but he admits to himself that he wants to see where she has been staying. He thinks seeing the place where she places her feet would satisfy his urge to be near her.
Archer’s excuse is that he is looking for a horse for May, and a horse ranch happens to be near the Blenkers’ home. Upon seeing the horse, however, Newland knows it is not the right kind of animal for May, so he ends his appointment and heads straight for the Blenkers’. As he had suspected, no one is there. He wanders around the gardens, though, trying to imagine where Ellen might go if she went outside. While he is sitting there, a young girl appears. She is one of the Blenkers’ daughters. She is thrilled when she comes upon Archer—her luck has changed. She had not been allowed to go to the Sillerton party because she had a sore throat. That dismayed her until she finds that in staying home, she has the pleasure of speaking to Newland Archer.
Archer asks the young girl several questions, which eventually gains him information about Ellen. The girl tells him that Ellen received a telegram that called her away on business, so she is in Boston for a couple of days. The girl does not know the nature of Ellen’s business Ellen, but she does know the name of the hotel. Ellen is staying at the Parker House.