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0105_001E Part III Edith Wharton

Chapter XXX

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Table Of Contents: The Glimpses of the Moon

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They had wandered out to a cheap restaurant for dinner; now, in the damp December night, they were walking back to the hotel under a sky full of rain-clouds. They seemed to have said everything to each other, and yet barely to have begun what they had to tell; and at each step they took, their heavy feet dragged a great load of bliss.

In the hotel almost all the lights were already out; and they groped their way to the third floor room which was the only one that Susy had found cheap enough. A ray from a street-lamp struck up through the unshuttered windows; and after Nick had revived the fire they drew their chairs close to it, and sat quietly for a while in the dark.

Their silence was so sweet that Nick could not make up his mind to break it; not to do so gave his tossing spirit such a sense of permanence, of having at last unlimited time before him in which to taste his joy and let its sweetness stream through him. But at length he roused himself to say: "It's queer how things coincide. I've had a little bit of good news in one of the letters I got this morning."

Susy took the announcement serenely. "Well, you would, you know," she commented, as if the day had been too obviously designed for bliss to escape the notice of its dispensers.

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"Yes," he continued with a thrill of pardonable pride. "During the cruise I did a couple of articles on Crete--oh, just travel-impressions, of course; they couldn't be more. But the editor of the New Review has accepted them, and asks for others. And here's his cheque, if you please! So you see you might have let me take the jolly room downstairs with the pink curtains. And it makes me awfully hopeful about my book."

He had expected a rapturous outburst, and perhaps some reassertion of wifely faith in the glorious future that awaited The Pageant of Alexander; and deep down under the lover's well-being the author felt a faint twinge of mortified vanity when Susy, leaping to her feet, cried out, ravenously and without preamble: "Oh, Nick, Nick--let me see how much they've given you!"

He flourished the cheque before her in the firelight. "A couple of hundred, you mercenary wretch!"

"Oh, oh--" she gasped, as if the good news had been almost too much for her tense nerves; and then surprised him by dropping to the ground, and burying her face against his knees.

"Susy, my Susy," he whispered, his hand on her shaking shoulder. "Why, dear, what is it? You're not crying?"

"Oh, Nick, Nick--two hundred? Two hundred dollars? Then I've got to tell you--oh now, at once!"

A faint chill ran over him, and involuntarily his hand drew back from her bowed figure.

"Now? Oh, why now?" he protested. "What on earth does it matter now--whatever it is?"

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The Glimpses of the Moon
Edith Wharton

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