外语教育网
您的位置:外语教育网 > 英语文化视窗 > 文学与艺术 > 小说 正文
  • 站内搜索:

Undertow (Chapter10)

2006-08-22 21:09

  Chapter Ten

  Nevertheless, she accepted the invitation that came from Bert's cousin Dorothy, one autumn, for a week-end visit. Dorothy had married now, and had a baby. She was living in a rented “place,” up near Rhinecliff, she wrote, and she wanted to see something of Cousin Bert.

  Neither Bert nor Nancy could afterward remember exactly why they went. It was partly curiosity, perhaps; partly the strong lure exerted by Dorothy's casual intimation that “the car” would come for them, and that this particular week-end was “the big dance, at the club.” Bert chanced to have a new suit, and Nancy had a charming blue taffeta that seemed to her good enough for any place or anybody.

  The boys were asked, but they did not take them. Ned was almost two now, and Junior past three, and they behaved beautifully with Hannah, the quiet old Danish woman who had been with them since they came back from the woods, the year before. Nancy, full of excited anticipation, packed her suit-case daintily, and fluttered downstairs as happily as a girl, when a hundredth glance at the street showed the waiting motor at last.

  Hawkes was the chauffeur. “To Mr. Bradley's office please, Hawkes,” said Nancy. She could not think of anything friendly to say to him, as they wheeled through the streets. Bert kept them waiting, and once or twice she said “I can't think what's delaying Mr. Bradley.” But Hawkes did not answer.

  Presently Bert came out and greeted Nancy and Hawkes.

  “But I thought Mrs. Benchley was coming into town to-day,” Bert said. Dorothy was now Mrs. George Benchley. Hawkes spoke at last. “An old friend of Mrs. Benchley has unexpectedly arrived this morning, sir, and she has changed her mind.” “Oh, all right,” said Bert, grinning at Nancy as the pleasant drive began.

  It was all wonderful; the bright autumn sunshine, the sense of freedom and leisure in the early afternoon, and the lovely roads they followed. Bert however, seemed to be thinking of his sons, and asked of them more than once. And Nancy could not rid herself of an uncomfortable suspicion that whoever Dorothy's old friend was, she had changed Dorothy's plans, and perhaps made the coming of the Bradleys untimely. Now and then husband and wife smiled at each other and said “This is fun!”

  Dorothy's “place” was a beautiful estate, heavily wooded, wound with white driveways, and equipped with its own tennis courts, and its boathouse on the river. The house was enormous, and naturally had assumed none of the personality of its occupants, in this casual summer tenancy. There were countless rooms, all filled with tables and chairs and rugs and desks and bowls of flowers; and several maids came and went in the interest of the comfort of the house. There were seven or eight other guests besides the Bradleys, and they all seemed to know each other well. The unexpected guest was a young Mrs. Catlin affectionately mentioned by Dorothy in every other breath as “Elaine”; she and Dorothy had been taken to Europe together, after their schooldays, and had formed an intimacy then.

  Dorothy came into the big hall to meet her cousin and his wife, and, with a little laugh, kissed Bert. She looked particularly young and lovely in what Nancy supposed to be a carefully-selected costume; later she realized that all Dorothy's clothes gave this impression. She said that the baby was out, when Nancy asked for him, and that Katharine would take care of them.

  Katharine, an impassive maid, led them upstairs, and to the large room in which their suit cases already stood. Dorothy had said, “After you change, come down and have something to drink!” but Nancy had nothing prettier than the taffeta, except her evening gown, and as the sunshine was streaming into the room, she could not change to that. So she merely freshened her appearance, and wasted fifteen or twenty minutes in a close inspection of the room, before they went down. To her somewhat shy question Bert responded enthusiastically, “You look lovely!”

  They went through empty open rooms, talking as naturally as they could, and smilingly joined the others on the porch. Tea and other drinks were being dispensed by Elaine, whose attention was meanwhile absorbed by two young men. Dorothy, lying almost flat in a wicker chair, with her small silk-shod ankles crossed, was lazily arguing some question of golf scores.

  She introduced the new-comers, and as Bert, somewhat more at home in his cousin's house than his wife was, fell into conversation with the middle-aged man nearest him, Dorothy dutifully addressed herself to Nancy. They spoke of Bert's mother, and of Boston, and Dorothy asked Nancy if she liked tennis——or golfing——or yachting? There was to be quite a large dance at the club to-night, and an entertainment before it.

  “Isn't Dorothy a wonder, Mrs. Bradley?” asked Elaine. “She's going to have twenty people to dinner, she runs this big house, she's got a baby not yet six months old, and she looks about sixteen!”

  “You must have wonderful maids,” suggested Nancy, smiling.

  “I have!” said Dorothy amusedly, “They're crazy about me——I don't know why, because I work them like dogs. But of course we're away a lot, and then they always have parties,” she added, “and they run things pretty much to suit themselves. But we have good meals, don't we, Elaine?” she asked, childishly.

  “Heavenly!” said Elaine. Nancy, trying to appear brightly sympathetic, smiled again.

  But she and Bert dressed for dinner almost silently, an hour later. It was all delightful and luxurious, truly, and they were most considerately and hospitably accepted by the entire establishment. But something was wrong. Nancy did not know what it was, and she did not want to risk a mere childish outburst, so easily construed into jealousy. Perhaps it was jealousy.

  She found herself arguing, as she dressed. This sort of thing was not life, after all. The quiet wife of an obscure man, rejoicing in her home and her children, had a thousand times more real pleasure. These well-dressed idle people didn't count, after all. ……

  “Sort of nice of Dorothy to send Hawkes in for us,” Bert said; “Did you hear her explain that she thought we'd be more comfortable with Hawkes, so she and Mrs. Catlin kept the younger man?”

  “Considerate!” Nancy said, lifelessly.

  “Isn't it a wonder she isn't spoiled?” Bert pursued.

  “Really it is!”

  “Benchley looks like an ass,” Bert conceded. “But he's not so bad. He's in the firm now, you know, and Dorothy was just telling me that he's taken hold wonderfully.”

  “Isn't that nice?” Nancy said, mildly. She was struggling with her hair, which entirely refused to frame her face in its usual rich waves, and lay flat or split into unexpected partings despite her repeated efforts. “How's that now, Bert? ”she asked, turning toward him with an arrangement half-completed.

  “Well——that's all right——” he began uncertainly. Nancy, dropping the brown strands, and tossing the whole hot mass free, felt that she could burst into tears.

相关热词:小说
栏目相关课程表
科目名称 主讲老师 课时 免费试听 优惠价 购买课程
英语零起点 郭俊霞 30课时 试听 150元/门 购买
综艺乐园 ------ 15课时 试听 100元/门 购买
边玩边学 ------ 10课时 试听 60元/门 购买
情景喜剧 ------ 15课时 试听 100元/门 购买
欢乐课堂 ------ 35课时 试听 150元/门 购买
趣味英语速成 钟 平 18课时 试听 179元/门 购买
剑桥少儿英语预备级 (Pre-Starters) ------ ------ 试听 200元/门 购买
剑桥少儿英语一级 (Starters) ------ ------ 试听 200元/门 购买
剑桥少儿英语二级 (Movers) ------ ------ 试听 200元/门 购买
剑桥少儿英语三级 (Flyers) ------ ------ 试听 200元/门 购买
初级英语口语 ------ 55课时 ------ 350元/门 购买
中级英语口语 ------ 83课时 ------ 350元/门 购买
高级英语口语 ------ 122课时 ------ 350元/门 购买
基础英语辅导课程
郭俊霞 北京语言大学毕业,国内某知名中学英语教研组长,教学标兵……详情>>
郭俊霞:零基础英语网上辅导名师
钟平 北大才俊,英语辅导专家,累计从事英语教学八年,机械化翻译公式发明人……详情>>
钟平:趣味英语速成网上辅导名师

  1、凡本网注明 “来源:外语教育网”的所有作品,版权均属外语教育网所有,未经本网授权不得转载、链接、转贴或以其他方式使用;已经本网授权的,应在授权范围内使用,且必须注明“来源:外语教育网”。违反上述声明者,本网将追究其法律责任。
  2、本网部分资料为网上搜集转载,均尽力标明作者和出处。对于本网刊载作品涉及版权等问题的,请作者与本网站联系,本网站核实确认后会尽快予以处理。本网转载之作品,并不意味着认同该作品的观点或真实性。如其他媒体、网站或个人转载使用,请与著作权人联系,并自负法律责任。
  3、联系方式
  编辑信箱:for68@chinaacc.com
  电话:010-82319999-2371