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Part II Edith Wharton

Chapter XV

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While she poured out the tale of Nat's sudden celebrity, and its unexpected consequences, Susy marvelled and dreamed. Was the secret of his triumph perhaps due to those long hard unrewarded years, the steadfast scorn of popularity, the indifference to every kind of material ease in which his wife had so gaily abetted him? Had it been bought at the cost of her own freshness and her own talent, of the children's "advantages," of everything except the closeness of the tie between husband and wife? Well--it was worth the price, no doubt; but what if, now that honours and prosperity had come, the tie were snapped, and Grace were left alone among the ruins?

There was nothing in her tone or words to suggest such a possibility. Susy noticed that her ill-assorted raiment was costlier in quality and more professional in cut than the homemade garments which had draped her growing bulk at the bungalow: it was clear that she was trying to dress up to Nat's new situation. But, above all, she was rejoicing in it, filling her hungry lungs with the strong air of his success. It had evidently not occurred to her as yet that those who consent to share the bread of adversity may want the whole cake of prosperity for themselves.

"My dear, it's too wonderful! He's told me to take as many concert and opera tickets as I like; he lets me take all the children with me. The big concerts don't begin till later; but of course the Opera is always going. And there are little things--there's music in Paris at all seasons. And later it's just possible we may get to Munich for a week--oh, Susy!" Her hands clasped, her eyes brimming, she drank the new wine of life almost sacramentally.

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"Do you remember, Susy, when you and Nick came to stay at the bungalow? Nat said you'd be horrified by our primitiveness-but I knew better! And I was right, wasn't I? Seeing us so happy made you and Nick decide to follow our example, didn't it?" She glowed with the remembrance. "And now, what are your plans? Is Nick's book nearly done? I suppose you'll have to live very economically till he finds a publisher. And the baby, darling-when is that to be? If you're coming home soon I could let you have a lot of the children's little old things."

"You're always so dear, Grace. But we haven't any special plans as yet--not even for a baby. And I wish you'd tell me all of yours instead."

Mrs. Fulmer asked nothing better: Susy perceived that, so far, the greater part of her European experience had consisted in talking about what it was to be. "Well, you see, Nat is so taken up all day with sight-seeing and galleries and meeting important people that he hasn't had time to go about with us; and as so few theatres are open, and there's so little music, I've taken the opportunity to catch up with my mending. Junie helps me with it now--she's our eldest, you remember? She's grown into a big girl since you saw her. And later, perhaps, we're to travel. And the most wonderful thing of all--next to Nat's recognition, I mean--is not having to contrive and skimp, and give up something every single minute. Just think--Nat has even made special arrangements here in the pension, so that the children all have second helpings to everything. And when I go up to bed I can think of my music, instead of lying awake calculating and wondering how I can make things come out at the end of the month. Oh, Susy, that's simply heaven!"

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The Glimpses of the Moon
Edith Wharton

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