Chapter 24 Summary
Archer and Ellen find a small inn and ask for a private room and order lunch. During their conversation, Ellen tells Archer that though the people of New York had been kind to her, she tired of society. She discovered that she was too different from the people who surrounded her and moved to Washington to get away. Part of her reason for moving was also to remove her aunt from the influences of Dr. Carver, who was prone to converting people to his strange ideas. Then Ellen admits that some of Dr. Carver’s concepts were a lot more interesting than the “blind conformity to tradition” to which most of New York’s society members cling.
Archer asks her, if she were so tired of New York, why did she not return to Europe? Ellen confesses that Archer is her only reason for staying in the States. She thanks him for the changes that have come over her. Archer answers that she has transformed him so much more than he has affected her. He tells her that it was because of her that he married May. Ellen admits that their not coming together had been done for May’s sake: they separated so he could marry. Archer is disturbed by this comment. If Ellen had chosen not to be with him so his marriage would be a success, then they both have wasted their efforts because his marriage is a farce. He adds that Ellen gave him a taste of what real love and real life are all about, then she made him live in a false relationship with May. His current situation, he complains, is beyond human endurance. Ellen is agitated also. She tells him that she is suffering the pain as well. Archer is surprised to learn this. He had not imagined that their separation had hurt her.
As they talk, Archer notices how far they stand from one another; yet, even without touching, he can feel the passion between them. He has known physical love. That type of love seems superficial in comparison to what Ellen and he share. His love for Ellen penetrates deeper than his bones. He does not need to feel her body in order to express his love for her. As long as he knows she feels the same way, he will never feel alone again. This feeling of temporary bliss suddenly subsides, though, once he realized that no matter how much they love one another, no matter how close they feel to one another, they will always be tied to two separate destinies.
He asks her how long she can hold out. Ellen answers, as long as he can. She will be happy as long as she knows she is part of his life. Before they part, Ellen asks Archer to resist being unhappy. His response is to ask her never to go back to her husband.