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Part II Edith Wharton

Chapter XIII

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"If I wanted to be alone," she thought, "I'm alone enough, in all conscience." There was a deathly chill in such security. She turned to Fulmer.

"And Grace?"

He beamed back without sign of embarrassment. "Oh, she's here, naturally--we're in Paris, kids and all. In a pension, where we can polish up the lingo. But I hardly ever lay eyes on her, because she's as deep in music as I am in paint; it was as big a chance for her as for me, you see, and she's making the most of it, fiddling and listening to the fiddlers. Well, it's a considerable change from New Hampshire." He looked at her dreamily, as if making an intense effort to detach himself from his dream, and situate her in the fading past. "Remember the bungalow? And Nick--ah, how's Nick?" he brought out triumphantly.

"Oh, yes--darling Nick?" Mrs. Melrose chimed in; and Susy, her head erect, her cheeks aflame, declared with resonance: "Most awfully well--splendidly!"

"He's not here, though?" from Fulmer.

"No. He's off travelling--cruising."

Mrs. Melrose's attention was faintly roused. "With anybody interesting?"

"No; you wouldn't know them. People we met ...." She did not have to continue, for her hostess's gaze had again strayed.

"And you've come for your clothes, I suppose, darling? Don't listen to people who say that skirts are to be wider. I've discovered a new woman--a Genius--and she absolutely swathes you.... Her name's my secret; but we'll go to her together."

Susy rose from her engulphing armchair. "Do you mind if I go up to my room? I'm rather tired--coming straight through."

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"Of course, dear. I think there are some people coming to dinner ... Mrs. Match will tell you. She has such a memory .... Fulmer, where on earth are those cartoons of the music-room?"

Their voices pursued Susy upstairs, as, in Mrs. Match's perpendicular wake, she mounted to the white-panelled room with its gay linen hangings and the low bed heaped with more cushions.

"If we'd come here," she thought, "everything might have been different." And she shuddered at the sumptuous memories of the Palazzo Vanderlyn, and the great painted bedroom where she had met her doom.

Mrs. Match, hoping she would find everything, and mentioning that dinner was not till nine, shut her softly in among her terrors.

"Find everything?" Susy echoed the phrase. Oh, yes, she would always find everything: every time the door shut on her now, and the sound of voices ceased, her memories would be there waiting for her, every one of them, waiting quietly, patiently, obstinately, like poor people in a doctor's office, the people who are always last to be attended to, but whom nothing will discourage or drive away, people to whom time is nothing, fatigue nothing, hunger nothing, other engagements nothing: who just wait .... Thank heaven, after all, that she had not found the house empty, if, whenever she returned to her room, she was to meet her memories there!

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The Glimpses of the Moon
Edith Wharton

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