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The Touchstone Edith Wharton

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That evening he and Alexa dined alone. After dinner he followed her to the drawing-room. He no longer felt the need of avoiding her; he was hardly conscious of her presence. After a few words they lapsed into silence and he sat smoking with his eyes on the fire. It was not that he was unwilling to talk to her; he felt a curious desire to be as kind as possible; but he was always forgetting that she was there. Her full bright presence, through which the currents of life flowed so warmly, had grown as tenuous as a shadow, and he saw so far beyond her--

Presently she rose and began to move about the room. She seemed to be looking for something and he roused himself to ask what she wanted.

"Only the last number of the Horoscope. I thought I'd left it on this table." He said nothing, and she went on: "You haven't seen it?"

"No," he returned coldly. The magazine was locked in his desk.

His wife had moved to the mantel-piece. She stood facing him and as he looked up he met her tentative gaze. "I was reading an article in it--a review of Mrs. Aubyn's letters," she added, slowly, with her deep, deliberate blush.

Glennard stooped to toss his cigar into the fire. He felt a savage wish that she would not speak the other woman's name; nothing else seemed to matter. "You seem to do a lot of reading," he said.

She still earnestly confronted him. "I was keeping this for you-- I thought it might interest you," she said, with an air of gentle insistence.

He stood up and turned away. He was sure she knew that he had taken the review and he felt that he was beginning to hate her again.

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"I haven't time for such things," he said, indifferently. As he moved to the door he heard her take a precipitate step forward; then she paused and sank without speaking into the chair from which he had risen.

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The Touchstone
Edith Wharton

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