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WITH a sigh of relief Susy drew the pins from her hat and threw herself down on the lounge.

The ordeal she had dreaded was over, and Mr. and Mrs. Vanderlyn had safely gone their several ways. Poor Ellie was not noted for prudence, and when life smiled on her she was given to betraying her gratitude too openly; but thanks to Susy's vigilance (and, no doubt, to Strefford's tacit co-operation), the dreaded twenty-four hours were happily over. Nelson Vanderlyn had departed without a shadow on his brow, and though Ellie's, when she came down from bidding Nick good-bye, had seemed to Susy less serene than usual, she became her normal self as soon as it was discovered that the red morocco bag with her jewel-box was missing. Before it had been discovered in the depths of the gondola they had reached the station, and there was just time to thrust her into her "sleeper," from which she was seen to wave an unperturbed farewell to her friends.

"Well, my dear, we've been it through," Strefford remarked with a deep breath as the St. Moritz express rolled away.

"Oh," Susy sighed in mute complicity; then, as if to cover her self-betrayal: "Poor darling, she does so like what she likes!"

"Yes--even if it's a rotten bounder," Strefford agreed.

"A rotten bounder? Why, I thought--"

"That it was still young Davenant? Lord, no--not for the last six months. Didn't she tell you--?"

Susy felt herself redden. "I didn't ask her--"

"Ask her? You mean you didn't let her!"

"I didn't let her. And I don't let you," Susy added sharply, as he helped her into the gondola.

"Oh, all right: I daresay you're right. It simplifies things," Strefford placidly acquiesced.

She made no answer, and in silence they glided homeward.

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Now, in the quiet of her own room, Susy lay and pondered on the distance she had travelled during the last year. Strefford had read her mind with his usual penetration. It was true that there had been a time when she would have thought it perfectly natural that Ellie should tell her everything; that the name of young Davenant's successor should be confided to her as a matter of course. Apparently even Ellie had been obscurely aware of the change, for after a first attempt to force her confidences on Susy she had contented herself with vague expressions of gratitude, allusive smiles and sighs, and the pretty "surprise" of the sapphire bangle slipped onto her friend's wrist in the act of their farewell embrace.

The bangle was extremely handsome. Susy, who had an auctioneer's eye for values, knew to a fraction the worth of those deep convex stones alternating with small emeralds and brilliants. She was glad to own the bracelet, and enchanted with the effect it produced on her slim wrist; yet, even while admiring it, and rejoicing that it was hers, she had already transmuted it into specie, and reckoned just how far it would go toward the paying of domestic necessities. For whatever came to her now interested her only as something more to be offered up to Nick.

The door opened and Nick came in. Dusk had fallen, and she could not see his face; but something in the jerk of the door-handle roused her ever-wakeful apprehension. She hurried toward him with outstretched wrist.

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The Glimpses of the Moon
Edith Wharton

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