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“My Susan, what’s wrong?” Strefford asked.
“I don’t know….””Well, I do, then: you’re afraid that, if Ellie and Nelson meethere, she’ll blurt out something–injudicious.””Oh, she won’t!” Susy cried with conviction.
“Well, then–who will! I trust that superhuman child not to.
And you and I and Nick–“”Oh,” she gasped, interrupting him, “that’s just it. Nickdoesn’t know … doesn’t even suspect. And if he did….”Strefford flung away his cigar and tu cheap nike air max rned to scrutinize her. “Idon’t see–hanged if I do. What business is it of any of us,after all?”That, of course, was the old view that cloaked connivance in anair of decency. But to Susy it no longer carried conviction,and she hesitated.
“If Nick should find out that I know….””Good Lord–doesn’t he know that you know? After all, I supposeit’s not the first time–“She remained silent.
“The first time you’ve received confidences–from marriedfriends. Does Nick suppose you’ve lived even to your tender agewithout … Hang it, what’s come over you, child?”What had, indeed, that she could make clear to him? And yetmo cheap nike blazers re than ever she felt the need of having him securely on herside. Once his word was pledged, he was safe: otherwise therewas no limit to his capacity for wilful harmfulness.
“Look here, Streff, you and I know that Ellie hasn’t been awayfor a cure; and that if poor Clarissa was sworn to secrecy itwas not because it ‘worries father’ to think that mother needsto take care of her health.” She paused, hating herself nike air max for theironic note she had tried to sound.
“Well–?” he questioned, from the depths of the chair into whichhe had sunk.
“Well, Nick doesn’t … doesn’t dream of it. If he knew that weowed our summer here to … to my knowing….”Strefford sat silent: she felt his astonished stare through thedarkness. “Jove!” he said at last, with a low whistle Susy bentover the balustrade, her heart thumping against the stone rail.
“What was left of soul, I wonder–?” the young composer’s voiceshrilled through the open windows.
Strefford sank into another silence, from which he rousedhimself only as Susy turned back toward the lighted threshold.
“Well, my dear, we’ll see it through between us; you and I-andClarissa,” he said with his rasping laugh, rising to follow her.
He caught her hand and gave it a short pressure as they r nike air max 90 sale e-entered the drawing-room, where Ellie was saying plaintively toFred Gillow: “I can never hear that thing sung without wantingto cry like a baby.”
Chapter 9
NELSON VANDERLYN, still in his travelling clothes, paused on thethreshold of his own dining-room and surveyed the scene withpardonable satisfaction.
He was a short round man, with a grizzled head, small facetiouseyes and a large and credulous smile.
At the luncheon table sat his wife, between Charlie Streffordand Nick Lansing. Next to Strefford, perched on her high chair,Clarissa throned in infant beauty, while Susy Lansing cut up apeach for her. Through wide orange awnings the sun slanted inupon the white-clad group.
“Well–well–well! So I’ve caught you at it!” cried the happyfather, whose inveterate habit it was to address his wife andfriends as if he had surprised them at an inopportune moment.
Stealing up from behind, he lifted his daughter into the air,while a chorus of “Hello, old Nelson,” hailed his appearance.
It was two or three years since Nick Lansing had seen Mr.
Vanderlyn, who was now the London representative of the big NewYork bank of Vanderlyn & Co., and had exchanged his sumptuoushouse in Fifth Avenue for another, more sumptuous still, inMayfair; and the young man looked curiously and attentively athis host.
Mr. Vanderlyn had grown older and stouter, but his face stillkept its look of somewhat worn optimism. He embraced his wife,greeted Susy affectionately, and distributed cordial hand-graspsto the two men.
“Hullo,” he exclaimed, suddenly noticing a pearl and coraltrinket hanging from Clarissa’s neck. “Who’s been giving mydaughter jewellery, I’d li nike air max 1 ke to know!””Oh, Streffy did–just think, father! Because I said I’d ratherhave it than a book, you know,” Clarissa lucidly explained, herarms tight about her father’s neck, her beaming eyes onStrefford.
Nelson Vanderlyn’s own eyes took on the look of shrewdness whichcame into them whenever there was a question of material values.
“What, Streffy? Caught you at it, eh? Upon my soul-spoilingthe brat like that! You’d no business to, my dear chap-alovely baroque pearl–” he protested, with the half-apologetictone of the rich man embarrassed by too costly a gift from animpecunious friend.
“Oh, hadn’t I? Why? Because it’s too good for Clarissa, or tooexpensive for me? Of course you daren’t imply the first; and asfor me–I’ve had a windfall, and am blowing it in on theladies.”Strefford, Lansing had noticed, always used Amer nike air max 90 ican slang whenhe was slightly at a loss, and wished to divert attention fromthe main point. But why was he embarrassed, whose attention didhe wish to divert, It was plain that Vanderlyn’s protest hadbeen merely formal: like most of the wealthy, he had only thedimmest notion of what money represented to the poor. But itwas unusual for Strefford to give any one a present, andespecially an expensive one: perhaps that was what had fixedVanderlyn’s attention.
“A windfall?” he gaily repeated.
“Oh, a tiny one: I was offered a thumping rent for my littleplace at Como, and dashed over here to squander my millions withthe rest of you,” said Strefford imperturbably.
Vanderlyn’s look immediately became interested and sympathetic.
“What–the scene of the honey-moon?” He included Nick and Susyin his friendly smile.
“Just so: cheap nike air max the reward of virtue. I say, give me a cigar, willyou, old man, I left blazers some awfully good ones at Como, worseluck–and I don’t mind telling you that Ellie’s no judge oftobacco, and that Nick’s too far gone in bliss to care what hesmokes,” Strefford grumbled, stretching a hand toward his host’scigar-case.
“I do like jewellery best,” Clarissa murmured, hugging herfather.
Nelson Vanderlyn’s first word to his wife had been that he hadbrought her all her toggery; and she had welcomed him withappropriate enthusiasm. In fact, to the lookers-on her joy atseeing him seemed rather too patently in proportion to hersatisfaction at getting her clothes. But no such su nike blazers spicionappeared to mar Mr. Vanderlyn’s happiness in being, for once,and for nearly twenty-four hours, under the same roof with hiswife and child. He did not conceal hi nike air max classic s regret at havingpromised his mother to join her the next day; and added, with awistful glance at Ellie: “If only I’d known you meant to waitfor me!”But being a man of duty, in domest nike air max sale ic as well as businessaffairs, he did not even consider the possibility ofdisappointing the exacting old lady to whom he owed his being.
“Mother cares for so few people,” he used to say, not without atouch of filial pride in the parental exclusiveness, “that Ihave to be with her rather more than if she were more sociable”;and with smiling resignation he gave orders that Clarissa shouldbe ready to start the next evening.
“And meanwhile,” he concluded, “we’ll have all the good timethat’s going.”The ladies of the party seemed united in the desire to furtherthis resolve; and it was settled that as soon as Mr. Vanderlynhad despatched a hasty luncheon, his wife, Clarissa and Susyshould carry him of nike air max 95 f for a tea-picnic at Torcello. They did noteven suggest that Strefford or Nick should be of the party, orthat any of the other young men of the group should be summoned;as Susy said, Nelson wanted to go off alone with his harem. AndLansing and Strefford were left to watch the departure of thehappy Pasha ensconced between attentive beauties.
“Well–that’s what you call being married!” Streffordcommented, waving his battered Panama at Clarissa.
“Oh, no, I don’t!” Lansing laughed.
“He does. But do you know–” Strefford paused and swung abouton his companion–“do y cheap nike air max trainers ou know, when the Rude Awakening comes, Idon’t care to be there. I believe there’ll be some crockerybroken.””Shouldn’t wonder,” Lansing answered indifferently. He wanderedaway to his own room, leaving Strefford to philosophize to hispipe.
Lansing had always known about poor old Nelson: who hadn’t,except poor old Nelson? The case had once seemed amusingbecause so typical; now, it rather irritated Nick that Vanderlynshould be so complete an ass. But he would be off the next day,and so would Ellie, and then, for many enchanted weeks, thepalace would once more be the property of Nick and Susy. Of allthe people who came and went in it, they were the only ones whoappreciated it,

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