Page by Page Books
Read Books Online, for Free
Part I Edith Wharton

Chapter V

Page 1 of 4

Table Of Contents: The Glimpses of the Moon

Next Page

Previous Chapter

Next Chapter

More Books

More by this Author

IT was a trifling enough sign, but it had remained in Susy's mind: that first morning in Venice Nick had gone out without first coming in to see her. She had stayed in bed late, chatting with Clarissa, and expecting to see the door open and her husband appear; and when the child left, and she had jumped up and looked into Nick's room, she found it empty, and a line on his dressing table informed her that he had gone out to send a telegram.

It was lover-like, and even boyish, of him to think it necessary to explain his absence; but why had he not simply come in and told her! She instinctively connected the little fact with the shade of preoccupation she had noticed on his face the night before, when she had gone to his room and found him absorbed in letter; and while she dressed she had continued to wonder what was in the letter, and whether the telegram he had hurried out to send was an answer to it.

Tired of reading? Add this page to your Bookmarks or Favorites and finish it later.

She had never found out. When he reappeared, handsome and happy as the morning, he proffered no explanation; and it was part of her life-long policy not to put uncalled-for questions. It was not only that her jealous regard for her own freedom was matched by an equal respect for that of others; she had steered too long among the social reefs and shoals not to know how narrow is the passage that leads to peace of mind, and she was determined to keep her little craft in mid-channel. But the incident had lodged itself in her memory, acquiring a sort of symbolic significance, as of a turning-point in her relations with her husband. Not that these were less happy, but that she now beheld them, as she had always formerly beheld such joys, as an unstable islet in a sea of storms. Her present bliss was as complete as ever, but it was ringed by the perpetual menace of all she knew she was hiding from Nick, and of all she suspected him of hiding from her ....

She was thinking of these things one afternoon about three weeks after their arrival in Venice. It was near sunset, and she sat alone on the balcony, watching the cross-lights on the water weave their pattern above the flushed reflection of old palace-basements. She was almost always alone at that hour. Nick had taken to writing in the afternoons--he had been as good as his word, and so, apparently, had the Muse and it was his habit to join his wife only at sunset, for a late row on the lagoon. She had taken Clarissa, as usual, to the Giardino Pubblico, where that obliging child had politely but indifferently "played"--Clarissa joined in the diversions of her age as if conforming to an obsolete tradition--and had brought her back for a music lesson, echoes of which now drifted down from a distant window.

Susy had come to be extremely thankful for Clarissa. But for the little girl, her pride in her husband's industry might have been tinged with a faint sense of being at times left out and forgotten; and as Nick's industry was the completest justification for their being where they were, and for her having done what she had, she was grateful to Clarissa for helping her to feel less alone. Clarissa, indeed, represented the other half of her justification: it was as much on the child's account as on Nick's that Susy had held her tongue, remained in Venice, and slipped out once a week to post one of Ellie's numbered letters. A day's experience of the Palazzo Vanderlyn had convinced Susy of the impossibility of deserting Clarissa. Long experience had shown her that the most crowded households often contain the loneliest nurseries, and that the rich child is exposed to evils unknown to less pampered infancy; but hitherto such things had merely been to her one of the uglier bits in the big muddled pattern of life. Now she found herself feeling where before she had only judged: her precarious bliss came to her charged with a new weight of pity.

Page 1 of 4 Previous Chapter   Next Page
Who's On Your Reading List?
Read Classic Books Online for Free at
Page by Page Books.TM
The Glimpses of the Moon
Edith Wharton

Home | More Books | About Us | Copyright 2004