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Part I Edith Wharton

Chapter III

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Table Of Contents: The Glimpses of the Moon

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This philosophy had at first enchanted Lansing; but now it began to rouse vague fears. The fine armour of her fastidiousness had preserved her from the kind of risks she had hitherto been exposed to; but what if others, more subtle, found a joint in it? Was there, among her delicate discriminations, any equivalent to his own rules? Might not her taste for the best and rarest be the very instrument of her undoing; and if something that wasn't "trash" came her way, would she hesitate a second to go to pieces for it?

He was determined to stick to the compact that they should do nothing to interfere with what each referred to as the other's "chance"; but what if, when hers came, he couldn't agree with her in recognizing it? He wanted for her, oh, so passionately, the best; but his conception of that best had so insensibly, so subtly been transformed in the light of their first month together!

His lazy strokes were carrying him slowly shoreward; but the hour was so exquisite that a few yards from the landing he laid hold of the mooring rope of Streffy's boat and floated there, following his dream .... It was a bore to be leaving; no doubt that was what made him turn things inside-out so uselessly. Venice would be delicious, of course; but nothing would ever again be as sweet as this. And then they had only a year of security before them; and of that year a month was gone.

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Reluctantly he swam ashore, walked up to the house, and pushed open a window of the cool painted drawing-room. Signs of departure were already visible. There were trunks in the hall, tennis rackets on the stairs; on the landing, the cook Giulietta had both arms around a slippery hold-all that refused to let itself be strapped. It all gave him a chill sense of unreality, as if the past month had been an act on the stage, and its setting were being folded away and rolled into the wings to make room for another play in which he and Susy had no part.

By the time he came down again, dressed and hungry, to the terrace where coffee awaited him, he had recovered his usual pleasant sense of security. Susy was there, fresh and gay, a rose in her breast and the sun in her hair: her head was bowed over Bradshaw, but she waved a fond hand across the breakfast things, and presently looked up to say: "Yes, I believe we can just manage it."

"Manage what?"

"To catch the train at Milan--if we start in the motor at ten sharp."

He stared. "The motor? What motor?"

"Why, the new people's--Streffy's tenants. He's never told me their name, and the chauffeur says he can't pronounce it. The chauffeur's is Ottaviano, anyhow; I've been making friends with him. He arrived last night, and he says they're not due at Como till this evening. He simply jumped at the idea of running us over to Milan."

"Good Lord--" said Lansing, when she stopped.

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The Glimpses of the Moon
Edith Wharton

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