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Part I Edith Wharton

Chapter XI

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"Coffee, Giovanna, please; and will you tell Mr. Strefford that I should like to see him presently."

If Nick really kept to his intention of staying away for a few days she must trump up some explanation of his absence; but her mind refused to work, and the only thing she could think of was to take Strefford into her confidence. She knew that he could be trusted in a real difficulty; his impish malice transformed itself into a resourceful ingenuity when his friends required it.

The maid stood looking at her with a puzzled gaze, and Susy somewhat sharply repeated her order. "But don't wake him on purpose," she added, foreseeing the probable effect on Strefford's temper.

"But, signora, the gentleman is already out."

"Already out?" Strefford, who could hardly be routed from his bed before luncheon-time! "Is it so late?" Susy cried, incredulous.

"After nine. And the gentleman took the eight o'clock train for England. Gervaso said he had received a telegram. He left word that he would write to the signora."

The door closed upon the maid, and Susy continued to gaze at her painted image in the glass, as if she had been trying to outstare an importunate stranger. There was no one left for her to take counsel of, then--no one but poor Fred Gillow! She made a grimace at the idea.

But what on earth could have summoned Strefford back to England?

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The Glimpses of the Moon
Edith Wharton

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