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Part I Edith Wharton

Chapter XII

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Table Of Contents: The Glimpses of the Moon

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The first to arrive was a word from Strefford, scribbled in the train and posted at Turin. In it he briefly said that he had been called home by the dreadful accident of which Susy had probably read in the daily papers. He added that he would write again from England, and then--in a blotted postscript--: "I wanted uncommonly badly to see you for good-bye, but the hour was impossible. Regards to Nick. Do write me just a word to Altringham."

The other two letters, which came together in the afternoon, were both from Genoa. Susy scanned the addresses and fell upon the one in her husband's writing. Her hand trembled so much that for a moment she could not open the envelope. When she had done so, she devoured the letter in a flash, and then sat and brooded over the outspread page as it lay on her knee. It might mean so many things--she could read into it so many harrowing alternatives of indifference and despair, of irony and tenderness! Was he suffering tortures when he wrote it, or seeking only to inflict them upon her? Or did the words represent his actual feelings, no more and no less, and did he really intend her to understand that he considered it his duty to abide by the letter of their preposterous compact? He had left her in wrath and indignation, yet, as a closer scrutiny revealed, there was not a word of reproach in his brief lines. Perhaps that was why, in the last issue, they seemed so cold to her .... She shivered and turned to the other envelope.

The large stilted characters, though half-familiar, called up no definite image. She opened the envelope and discovered a postcard of the Ibis, canvas spread, bounding over a rippled sea. On the back was written:

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"So awfully dear of you to lend us Mr. Lansing for a little cruise. You may count on our taking the best of care of him. CORAL"

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The Glimpses of the Moon
Edith Wharton

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