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Part II Edith Wharton

Chapter XXIV

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It moved him--moved him unexpectedly. He got as far as saying to himself: "Good God, if she were not so hideously rich--" and then of yielding for a moment to the persuasive vision of all that he and she might do with those very riches which he dreaded. After all, there was nothing mean in her ideals they were hard and material, in keeping with her primitive and massive person; but they had a certain grim nobility. And when she spoke of "the other kind of greatness" he knew that she understood what she was talking of, and was not merely saying something to draw him on, to get him to commit himself. There was not a drop of guile in her, except that which her very honesty distilled.

"The other kind of greatness?" he repeated.

"Well, isn't that what you said happiness was? I wanted to be happy ... but one can't choose."

He went up to her. "No, one can't choose. And how can anyone give you happiness who hasn't got it himself?" He took her hands, feeling how large, muscular and voluntary they were, even as they melted in his palms.

"My poor Coral, of what use can I ever be to you? What you need is to be loved."

She drew back and gave him one of her straight strong glances: "No," she said gallantly, "but just to love."

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The Glimpses of the Moon
Edith Wharton

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