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Part II Edith Wharton

Chapter XIII

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"It was in the bargain--in the bargain," rang through her brain as she re-read Strefford's telegram. She understood that he had snatched the time for this hasty trip solely in the hope of seeing her, and her eyes filled. The more bitterly she thought of Nick the more this proof of Strefford's friendship moved her.

The clock, to her relief, reminded her that it was time to dress for dinner. She would go down presently, chat with Violet and Fulmer, and with Violet's other guests, who would probably be odd and amusing, and too much out of her world to embarrass her by awkward questions. She would sit at a softly-lit table, breathe delicate scents, eat exquisite food (trust Mrs. Match!), and be gradually drawn again under the spell of her old associations. Anything, anything but to be alone ....

She dressed with even more than her habitual care, reddened her lips attentively, brushed the faintest bloom of pink over her drawn cheeks, and went down--to meet Mrs. Match coming up with a tray.

"Oh, Madam, I thought you were too tired .... I was bringing it up to you myself--just a little morsel of chicken."

Susy, glancing past her, saw, through the open door, that the lamps were not lit in the drawing-room.

"Oh, no, I'm not tired, thank you. I thought Mrs. Melrose expected friends at dinner!"

"Friends at dinner-to-night?" Mrs. Match heaved a despairing sigh. Sometimes, the sigh seemed to say, her mistress put too great a strain upon her. "Why, Mrs. Melrose and Mr. Fulmer were engaged to dine in Paris. They left an hour ago. Mrs. Melrose told me she'd told you," the house-keeper wailed.

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Susy kept her little fixed smile. "I must have misunderstood. In that case ... well, yes, if it's no trouble, I believe I will have my tray upstairs. "

Slowly she turned, and followed the housekeeper up into the dread solitude she had just left.

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The Glimpses of the Moon
Edith Wharton

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