Chapter 9 Summary
Undine goes to the west side of Central Park, where she has promised to meet Elmer Moffatt, a ruddy complexioned “middle-sized” young man. As she watches him approach, Undine thinks how crude he looks, though she admits to herself that there was a time when she thought otherwise. In the circle of New York society people with whom she is now associated, Elmer would be judged as “not a gentleman.”
Elmer is surprised Undine has come. She reminds him that she had told him she would. When he begins with small talk, Undine discourages him. She wants to get down to the real reason they are meeting. She wonders what he wants. Undine has a thick veil pulled down over her face. Elmer dislikes not being able to fully see her, so he asks her to remove it. When Undine does, Elmer comments on her beauty, saying there are few women who look as well as she does. Undine attempts to match his enthusiasm by emphasizing that she is “REALLY” glad to see him. Elmer questions this, wondering if it is true why she tried to get rid of him at the theater. Undine responds that he took her by surprise. She had thought that he was in Alaska and never expected to see him in New York. Elmer asks why Undine’s father did not tell her he had seen him. He adds that her father is still very much afraid of him.
Undine tells Elmer that she never wanted to be mean to him, as her father had. She had merely been too young. Her father had wanted to protect her. Elmer then recalls Undine’s experience, commenting that her engagement to Millard Binch for two years probably was not enough preparation for her to understand what life and romance was all about. Undine responds by stating that she was only a child when she became involved with Millard. Elmer mentions an Apex newspaper article that referred to Undine as a “child-bride.” Undine’s history seems to be rich with romantic adventures, but she is extremely reluctant for any of this information to infiltrate the circle of her New York friends, especially Ralph and his family. She tries to explain to Elmer that life in New York is much different from that in Apex. If Ralph’s family were to discover that she was previously engaged, they would not allow Ralph to marry her. Undine then begins to cry, pleading with Elmer to not spoil her one chance. If Elmer promises to do this favor for her by never saying a word about her past, she will help him in other ways, such as providing business contacts, after she is married.
Later, when Undine arrives home, she finds Ralph waiting for her. As soon as he complains about having to wait so long to be married, Undine jumps at the chance to suggest that they get married right away.