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Part III Edith Wharton

Chapter XXIX

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"I'll have such a story to tell you when I get back to-night, if you'll promise me to be good all day," she bargained with him; and Geordie, always astute, bargained back: "Before I promise, I'd like to know what story."

At length all was in order. Junie had been enlightened, and Angele stunned, by the minuteness of Susy's instructions; and the latter, waterproofed and stoutly shod, descended the doorstep, and paused to wave at the pyramid of heads yearning to her from an upper window.

It was hardly light, and still raining, when she turned into the dismal street. As usual, it was empty; but at the corner she perceived a hesitating taxi, with luggage piled beside the driver. Perhaps it was some early traveller, just arriving, who would release the carriage in time for her to catch it, and thus avoid the walk to the metro, and the subsequent strap-hanging; for it was the work-people's hour. Susy raced toward the vehicle, which, overcoming its hesitation, was beginning to move in her direction. Observing this, she stopped to see where it would discharge its load. Thereupon the taxi stopped also, and the load discharged itself in front of her in the shape of Nick Lansing.

The two stood staring at each other through the rain till Nick broke out: "Where are you going? I came to get you."

"To get me? To get me?" she repeated. Beside the driver she had suddenly remarked the old suit-case from which her husband had obliged her to extract Strefford's cigars as they were leaving Como; and everything that had happened since seemed to fall away and vanish in the pang and rapture of that memory.

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"To get you; yes. Of course." He spoke the words peremptorily, almost as if they were an order. "Where were you going?" he repeated.

Without answering, she turned toward the house. He followed her, and the laden taxi closed the procession.

"Why are you out in such weather without an umbrella?" he continued, in the same severe tone, drawing her under the shelter of his.

"Oh, because Junie's umbrella is in tatters, and I had to leave her mine, as I was going away for the whole day." She spoke the words like a person in a trance.

"For the whole day? At this hour? Where?"

They were on the doorstep, and she fumbled automatically for her key, let herself in, and led the way to the sitting-room. It had not been tidied up since the night before. The children's school books lay scattered on the table and sofa, and the empty fireplace was grey with ashes. She turned to Nick in the pallid light.

"I was going to see you," she stammered, "I was going to follow you to Fontainebleau, if necessary, to tell you ... to prevent you...."

He repeated in the same aggressive tone: "Tell me what? Prevent what?"

"Tell you that there must be some other way ... some decent way ... of our separating ... without that horror. that horror of your going off with a woman ...."

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The Glimpses of the Moon
Edith Wharton

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