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Part I Edith Wharton

Chapter IX

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Vanderlyn's look immediately became interested and sympathetic. "What--the scene of the honey-moon?" He included Nick and Susy in his friendly smile.

"Just so: the reward of virtue. I say, give me a cigar, will you, old man, I left some awfully good ones at Como, worse luck--and I don't mind telling you that Ellie's no judge of tobacco, and that Nick's too far gone in bliss to care what he smokes," Strefford grumbled, stretching a hand toward his host's cigar-case.

"I do like jewellery best," Clarissa murmured, hugging her father.

Nelson Vanderlyn's first word to his wife had been that he had brought her all her toggery; and she had welcomed him with appropriate enthusiasm. In fact, to the lookers-on her joy at seeing him seemed rather too patently in proportion to her satisfaction at getting her clothes. But no such suspicion appeared to mar Mr. Vanderlyn's happiness in being, for once, and for nearly twenty-four hours, under the same roof with his wife and child. He did not conceal his regret at having promised his mother to join her the next day; and added, with a wistful glance at Ellie: "If only I'd known you meant to wait for me!"

But being a man of duty, in domestic as well as business affairs, he did not even consider the possibility of disappointing the exacting old lady to whom he owed his being. "Mother cares for so few people," he used to say, not without a touch of filial pride in the parental exclusiveness, "that I have to be with her rather more than if she were more sociable"; and with smiling resignation he gave orders that Clarissa should be ready to start the next evening.

"And meanwhile," he concluded, "we'll have all the good time that's going."

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The ladies of the party seemed united in the desire to further this resolve; and it was settled that as soon as Mr. Vanderlyn had despatched a hasty luncheon, his wife, Clarissa and Susy should carry him off for a tea-picnic at Torcello. They did not even suggest that Strefford or Nick should be of the party, or that any of the other young men of the group should be summoned; as Susy said, Nelson wanted to go off alone with his harem. And Lansing and Strefford were left to watch the departure of the happy Pasha ensconced between attentive beauties.

"Well--that's what you call being married!" Strefford commented, waving his battered Panama at Clarissa.

"Oh, no, I don't!" Lansing laughed.

"He does. But do you know--" Strefford paused and swung about on his companion--"do you know, when the Rude Awakening comes, I don't care to be there. I believe there'll be some crockery broken."

"Shouldn't wonder," Lansing answered indifferently. He wandered away to his own room, leaving Strefford to philosophize to his pipe.

Lansing had always known about poor old Nelson: who hadn't, except poor old Nelson? The case had once seemed amusing because so typical; now, it rather irritated Nick that Vanderlyn should be so complete an ass. But he would be off the next day, and so would Ellie, and then, for many enchanted weeks, the palace would once more be the property of Nick and Susy. Of all the people who came and went in it, they were the only ones who appreciated it, or knew how it was meant to be lived in; and that made it theirs in the only valid sense. In this light it became easy to regard the Vanderlyns as mere transient intruders.

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The Glimpses of the Moon
Edith Wharton

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