Chapter 28 Summary
After receiving a telegram from Ellen Olenska stating the date and time of her arrival, May’s mother takes it upon herself to arrange the transportation necessary to get Ellen from the station to Mrs. Mingott’s home. Mr. and Mrs. Welland are too busy to meet her, and it would not be proper for May to go by herself. Mrs. Welland takes the opportunity to criticize Ellen for always seeming to cause trouble. Next Mrs. Welland finds it strange that of all the grandchildren in the family her mother would insist on seeing Ellen. After all, Ellen had refused to honor her grandmother’s wishes that she go back to her husband. There is a chance, though, that her mother’s thinking was not very clear. Her mother is getting very old and her recent stroke may have caused more damage than the doctor noted.
In the midst of Mrs. Welland’s comments, Archer volunteers to pick up Ellen at the station. Mrs. Welland graciously accepts Newland’s offer. However, when Newland and May are alone, May questions how he could meet Ellen if he is leaving for Washington before Ellen arrives. Archer tells his wife that the legal case in Washington has been postponed. May says she finds this odd because she had seen a note from Mr. Letterblair stating that he was going to Washington for that legal case. Archer stammers as he explains that his trip is postponed because Mr. Letterblair is taking on the case in his place.
As Newland offers his explanations, he curses himself for all the lies he has told. He remembers reading somewhere that a clever liar provides many details to cover his dishonesty; however, the most clever liars give none. He is torn between the contrary descriptions. Then he tells May that, as it turns out, it is a fortunate occurrence that his boss should take over the legal case because it leaves him free to help his family, which is currently in so much need. He says this with a hint of sarcasm in his voice. To add a touch of veracity to his portrayal, Newland purposefully looks into May’s eyes so she will not think that he is avoiding her gaze. While he stares at her, he realizes that she might be reading his thoughts deeper than he cares for her to go.
May agrees that the circumstances are very convenient. She also mentions how much her mother appreciates Newland’s assistance. Newland responds that he is glad to help. As he says good-bye to May, he thinks he might be seeing tears in his wife’s eyes.
As he drives away toward Jersey City, Newland keeps repeating to himself that the ride from the station to Mrs. Mingott’s home is all of two hours. He wonders if he might make the ride last even longer.