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Part II Edith Wharton

Chapter XVIII

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Meanwhile, in spite of all that she packed into them, the days passed more and more slowly, and the excitements she had counted on no longer excited her. Strefford was hers: she knew that he would marry her as soon as she was free. They had been together at Ruan for ten days, and after that she had motored south with him, stopping on the way to see Altringham, from which, at the moment, his mourning relatives were absent.

At Altringham they had parted; and after one or two more visits in England she had come back to Paris, where he was now about to join her. After her few hours at Altringham she had understood that he would wait for her as long as was necessary: the fear of the "other women" had ceased to trouble her. But, perhaps for that very reason, the future seemed less exciting than she had expected. Sometimes she thought it was the sight of that great house which had overwhelmed her: it was too vast, too venerable, too like a huge monument built of ancient territorial traditions and obligations. Perhaps it had been lived in for too long by too many serious-minded and conscientious women: somehow she could not picture it invaded by bridge and debts and adultery. And yet that was what would have to be, of course ... she could hardly picture either Strefford or herself continuing there the life of heavy county responsibilities, dull parties, laborious duties, weekly church-going, and presiding over local committees .... What a pity they couldn't sell it and have a little house on the Thames!

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Nevertheless she was not sorry to let it be known that Altringham was hers when she chose to take it. At times she wondered whether Nick knew ... whether rumours had reached him. If they had, he had only his own letter to thank for it. He had told her what course to pursue; and she was pursuing it.

For a moment the meeting with Ellie Vanderlyn had been a shock to her; she had hoped never to see Ellie again. But now that they were actually face to face Susy perceived how dulled her sensibilities were. In a few moments she had grown used to Ellie, as she was growing used to everybody and to everything in the old life she had returned to. What was the use of making such a fuss about things? She and Mrs. Vanderlyn left the dress-maker's together, and after an absorbing session at a new milliner's were now taking tea in Ellie's drawing-room at the Nouveau Luxe.

Ellie, with her spoiled child's persistency, had come back to the question of the chinchilla cloak. It was the only one she had seen that she fancied in the very least, and as she hadn't a decent fur garment left to her name she was naturally in somewhat of a hurry ... but, of course, if Susy had been choosing that model for a friend ....

Susy, leaning back against her cushions, examined through half-closed lids Mrs. Vanderlyn's small delicately-restored countenance, which wore the same expression of childish eagerness as when she discoursed of the young Davenant of the moment. Once again Susy remarked that, in Ellie's agitated existence, every interest appeared to be on exactly the same plane.

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The Glimpses of the Moon
Edith Wharton

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