To read about F's and my London trip, start here and click "newer post" to continue the story.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Here's another bit from The Custom of the Country.

Her gloom was not lightened by finding Ralph Marvell's card on the drawing-room table. She thought it unflattering and almost impolite of him to call without making an appointment: it seemed to show that he did not wish to continue their acquaintance. But as she tossed the card aside her mother said: "He was real sorry not to see you. Undine--he sat here nearly an hour."

Undine's attention was roused. "Sat here--all alone? Didn't you tell him I was out?"

"Yes--but he came up all the same. He asked for me."

"Asked for YOU?"

The social order seemed to be falling in ruins at Undine's feet. A visitor who asked for a girl's mother!--she stared at Mrs. Spragg with cold incredulity. "What makes you think he did?"

"Why, they told me so. I telephoned down that you were out, and they said he'd asked for me." Mrs. Spragg let the fact speak for itself--it was too much out of the range of her experience to admit of even a hypothetical explanation.

Undine shrugged her shoulders. "It was a mistake, of course. Why on earth did you let him come up?"

"I thought maybe he had a message for you, Undie."

This plea struck her daughter as not without weight. "Well, did he?" she asked, drawing out her hat-pins and tossing down her hat on the onyx table.

"Why, no--he just conversed. He was lovely to me, but I couldn't make out what he was after," Mrs. Spragg was obliged to own.

Her daughter looked at her with a kind of chill commiseration. "You never CAN," she murmured, turning away.

1 comment:

Nancy said...

I became a fan of Edith Wharton thanks to Selected Shorts. Up to now, that's the only format I've enjoyed her writing in. You reminded me to look her up on Project Gutenburg, and last night I downloaded "In Morocco." I read a page or two before I fell asleep, and it seemed to be travel writing rather than fiction. Still, I'm looking forward to it.