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|Part III||Edith Wharton|
|Page 5 of 7||
Between crying and laughing she lay on his breast, and his hand passed over her hair.
They were silent for a while; then he began again: "You said it yourself yesterday, you know."
She strayed back from sunlit distances. "Yesterday?"
"Yes: that Grace Fulmer says you can't separate two people who've been through a lot of things--"
"Ah, been through them together--it's not the things, you see, it's the togetherness," she interrupted.
"The togetherness--that's it!" He seized on the word as if it had just been coined to express their case, and his mind could rest in it without farther labour.
The door-bell rang, and they started. Through the window they saw the taxi-driver gesticulating enquiries as to the fate of the luggage.
"He wants to know if he's to leave it here," Susy laughed.
"No--no! You're to come with me," her husband declared.
"Come with you?" She laughed again at the absurdity of the suggestion.
"Of course: this very instant. What did you suppose? That I was going away without you? Run up and pack your things," he commanded.
"My things? My things? But I can't leave the children!"
He stared, between indignation and amusement. "Can't leave the children? Nonsense! Why, you said yourself you were going to follow me to Fontainebleau--"
She reddened again, this time a little painfully "I didn't know what I was doing .... I had to find you ... but I should have come back this evening, no matter what happened."
"No matter what?"
She nodded, and met his gaze resolutely.
"No; but really--"
"Really, I can't leave the children till Nat and Grace come back. I promised I wouldn't."
"Yes; but you didn't know then .... Why on earth can't their nurse look after them?"
"There isn't any nurse but me."
"But it's only for two weeks more," she pleaded. "Two weeks! Do you know how long I've been without you!" He seized her by both wrists, and drew them against his breast. "Come with me at least for two days--Susy!" he entreated her.
"Oh," she cried, "that's the very first time you've said my name!"
"Susy, Susy, then--my Susy--Susy! And you've only said mine once, you know."
"Nick!" she sighed, at peace, as if the one syllable were a magic seed that hung out great branches to envelop them.
"Well, then, Susy, be reasonable. Come!"
"Reasonable--oh, reasonable!" she sobbed through laughter.
"Unreasonable, then! That's even better."
She freed herself, and drew back gently. "Nick, I swore I wouldn't leave them; and I can't. It's not only my promise to their mother--it's what they've been to me themselves. You don't, know ... You can't imagine the things they've taught me. They're awfully naughty at times, because they're so clever; but when they're good they're the wisest people I know." She paused, and a sudden inspiration illuminated her. "But why shouldn't we take them with us?" she exclaimed.
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