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Chapter II

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"Oh, Lord, yes. For instance, my trip to India with the Mortimer Hickses. But it was my only chance and what the deuce is one to do?"

"I wish I knew!" she sighed, thinking of the Bockheimers; and he turned and looked at her.

"Knew what?"

"The answer to your question. What is one to do--when one sees both sides of the problem? Or every possible side of it, indeed?"

They had seated themselves on a commanding rock under the pines, but Lansing could not see the view at their feet for the stir of the brown lashes on her cheek.

"You mean: Nat and Grace may after all be having the best of it?"

"How can I say, when I've told you I see all the sides? Of course," Susy added hastily, " I couldn't live as they do for a week. But it's wonderful how little it's dimmed them."

"Certainly Nat was never more coruscating. And she keeps it up even better." He reflected. "We do them good, I daresay."

"Yes--or they us. I wonder which?"

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After that, he seemed to remember that they sat a long time silent, and that his next utterance was a boyish outburst against the tyranny of the existing order of things, abruptly followed by the passionate query why, since he and she couldn't alter it, and since they both had the habit of looking at facts as they were, they wouldn't be utter fools not to take their chance of being happy in the only way that was open to them, To this challenge he did not recall Susy's making any definite answer; but after another interval, in which all the world seemed framed in a sudden kiss, he heard her murmur to herself in a brooding tone: "I don't suppose it's ever been tried before; but we might--." And then and there she had laid before him the very experiment they had since hazarded.

She would have none of surreptitious bliss, she began by declaring; and she set forth her reasons with her usual lucid impartiality. In the first place, she should have to marry some day, and when she made the bargain she meant it to be an honest one; and secondly, in the matter of love, she would never give herself to anyone she did not really care for, and if such happiness ever came to her she did not want it shorn of half its brightness by the need of fibbing and plotting and dodging.

"I've seen too much of that kind of thing. Half the women I know who've had lovers have had them for the fun of sneaking and lying about it; but the other half have been miserable. And I should be miserable."

It was at this point that she unfolded her plan. Why shouldn't they marry; belong to each other openly and honourably, if for ever so short a time, and with the definite understanding that whenever either of them got the chance to do better he or she should be immediately released? The law of their country facilitated such exchanges, and society was beginning to view them as indulgently as the law. As Susy talked, she warmed to her theme and began to develop its endless possibilities.

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The Glimpses of the Moon
Edith Wharton

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