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0105_001E Part I Edith Wharton

Chapter VIII

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Table Of Contents: The Glimpses of the Moon

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"Is Nelson going to join you at St. Moritz?" Susy asked, surprised.

"Heavens, no! He's coming here to pick up Clarissa and take her to some stuffy cure in Austria with his mother. It's too lucky: there's just time to telegraph him to bring my things. I didn't mean to wait for him; but it won't delay me more than day or two."

Susy's heart sank. She was not much afraid of Ellie alone, but Ellie and Nelson together formed an incalculable menace. No one could tell what spark of truth might dash from their collision. Susy felt that she could deal with the two dangers separately and successively, but not together and simultaneously.

"But, Ellie, why should you wait for Nelson? I'm certain to find someone here who's going to St. Moritz and will take your things if he brings them. It's a pity to risk losing your rooms."

This argument appealed for a moment to Mrs. Vanderlyn. "That's true; they say all the hotels are jammed. You dear, you're always so practical!" She clasped Susy to her scented bosom. "And you know, darling, I'm sure you'll be glad to get rid of me--you and Nick! Oh, don't be hypocritical and say 'Nonsense!' You see, I understand ... I used to think of you so often, you two ... during those blessed weeks when we two were alone...."

The sudden tears, brimming over Ellie's lovely eyes, and threatening to make the blue circles below them run into the adjoining carmine, filled Susy with compunction.

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"Poor thing--oh, poor thing!" she thought; and hearing herself called by Nick, who was waiting to take her out for their usual sunset on the lagoon, she felt a wave of pity for the deluded creature who would never taste that highest of imaginable joys. "But all the same," Susy reflected, as she hurried down to her husband, "I'm glad I persuaded her not to wait for Nelson."

Some days had elapsed since Susy and Nick had had a sunset to themselves, and in the interval Susy had once again learned the superior quality of the sympathy that held them together. She now viewed all the rest of life as no more than a show: a jolly show which it would have been a thousand pities to miss, but which, if the need arose, they could get up and leave at any moment--provided that they left it together.

In the dusk, while their prow slid over inverted palaces, and through the scent of hidden gardens, she leaned against him and murmured, her mind returning to the recent scene with Ellie: "Nick, should you hate me dreadfully if I had no clothes?"

Her husband was kindling a cigarette, and the match lit up the grin with which he answered: "But, my dear, have I ever shown the slightest symptom--?"

"Oh, rubbish! When a woman says: 'No clothes,' she means: 'Not the right clothes.'"

He took a meditative puff. "Ah, you've been going over Ellie's finery with her."

"Yes: all those trunks and trunks full. And she finds she's got nothing for St. Moritz!"

"Of course," he murmured, drowsy with content, and manifesting but a languid interest in the subject of Mrs. Vanderlyn's wardrobe.

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The Glimpses of the Moon
Edith Wharton

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