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Part III Edith Wharton

Chapter XXIX

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Table Of Contents: The Glimpses of the Moon

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Junie Fulmer, with her strangely mature perception of the case, and seemingly of every case that fate might call on her to deal with, sat for a moment motionless in Susy's hold. Then she freed her wrists with an adroit twist, and leaning back against the pillows said judiciously: "You'll never in the world bring up a family of your own if you take on like this over other people's children."

Through all her turmoil of spirit the observation drew a laugh from Susy. "Oh, a family of my own--I don't deserve one, the way I'm behaving to your"

Junie still considered her. "My dear, a change will do you good: you need it," she pronounced.

Susy rose with a laughing sigh. "I'm not at all sure it will! But I've got to have it, all the same. Only I do feel anxious--and I can't even leave you my address!"

Junie still seemed to examine the case.

"Can't you even tell me where you're going?" she ventured, as if not quite sure of the delicacy of asking.

"Well--no, I don't think I can; not till I get back. Besides, even if I could it wouldn't be much use, because I couldn't give you my address there. I don't know what it will be."

"But what does it matter, if you're coming back to-night?"

"Of course I'm coming back! How could you possibly imagine I should think of leaving you for more than a day?"

"Oh, I shouldn't be afraid--not much, that is, with the poker, and Nat's water-pistol," emended Junie, still judicious.

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Susy again enfolded her vehemently, and then turned to more practical matters. She explained that she wished if possible to catch an eight-thirty train from the Gare de Lyon, and that there was not a moment to lose if the children were to be dressed and fed, and full instructions written out for Junie and Angele, before she rushed for the underground.

While she bathed Geordie, and then hurried into her own clothes, she could not help wondering at her own extreme solicitude for her charges. She remembered, with a pang, how often she had deserted Clarissa Vanderlyn for the whole day, and even for two or three in succession--poor little Clarissa, whom she knew to be so unprotected, so exposed to evil influences. She had been too much absorbed in her own greedy bliss to be more than intermittently aware of the child; but now, she felt, no sorrow however ravaging, no happiness however absorbing, would ever again isolate her from her kind.

And then these children were so different! The exquisite Clarissa was already the predestined victim of her surroundings: her budding soul was divided from Susy's by the same barrier of incomprehension that separated the latter from Mrs. Vanderlyn. Clarissa had nothing to teach Susy but the horror of her own hard little appetites; whereas the company of the noisy argumentative Fulmers had been a school of wisdom and abnegation.

As she applied the brush to Geordie's shining head and the handkerchief to his snuffling nose, the sense of what she owed him was so borne in on Susy that she interrupted the process to catch him to her bosom.

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The Glimpses of the Moon
Edith Wharton

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