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Part I Edith Wharton

Chapter IX

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Table Of Contents: The Glimpses of the Moon

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Having relegated them to this convenient distance, Lansing shut himself up with his book. He had returned to it with fresh energy after his few weeks of holiday-making, and was determined to finish it quickly. He did not expect that it would bring in much money; but if it were moderately successful it might give him an opening in the reviews and magazines, and in that case he meant to abandon archaeology for novels, since it was only as a purveyor of fiction that he could count on earning a living for himself and Susy.

Late in the afternoon he laid down his pen and wandered out of doors. He loved the increasing heat of the Venetian summer, the bruised peach-tints of worn house-fronts, the enamelling of sunlight on dark green canals, the smell of half-decayed fruits and flowers thickening the languid air. What visions he could build, if he dared, of being tucked away with Susy in the attic of some tumble-down palace, above a jade-green waterway, with a terrace overhanging a scrap of neglected garden--and cheques from the publishers dropping in at convenient intervals! Why should they not settle in Venice if he pulled it off!

He found himself before the church of the Scalzi, and pushing open the leathern door wandered up the nave under the whirl of rose-and-lemon angels in Tiepolo's great vault. It was not a church in which one was likely to run across sight-seers; but he presently remarked a young lady standing alone near the choir, and assiduously applying her field-glass to the celestial vortex, from which she occasionally glanced down at an open manual.

As Lansing's step sounded on the pavement, the young lady, turning, revealed herself as Miss Hicks.

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"Ah--you like this too? It's several centuries out of your line, though, isn't it!" Nick asked as they shook hands.

She gazed at him gravely. "Why shouldn't one like things that are out of one's line?" she answered; and he agreed, with a laugh, that it was often an incentive.

She continued to fix her grave eyes on him, and after one or two remarks about the Tiepolos he perceived that she was feeling her way toward a subject of more personal interest.

"I'm glad to see you alone," she said at length, with an abruptness that might have seemed awkward had it not been so completely unconscious. She turned toward a cluster of straw chairs, and signed to Nick to seat himself beside her.

"I seldom do," she added, with the serious smile that made her heavy face almost handsome; and she went on, giving him no time to protest: "I wanted to speak to you--to explain about father's invitation to go with us to Persia and Turkestan."

"To explain?"

"Yes. You found the letter when you arrived here just after your marriage, didn't you? You must have thought it odd, our asking you just then; but we hadn't heard that you were married."

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The Glimpses of the Moon
Edith Wharton

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