Bunner Sisters - Edith Wharton - Страница 1 из 114


BUNNER SISTERS
By Edith Wharton
Scribner's Magazine 60 (Oct. 1916): 439-58; 60 (Nov. 1916): 575-96.
PART I
I
In the days when New York's traffic moved at the pace of the drooping
horse-car, when society applauded Christine Nilsson at the Academy of
Music and basked in the sunsets of the Hudson River School on the walls
of the National Academy of Design, an inconspicuous shop with a
single show-window was intimately and favourably known to the feminine
population of the quarter bordering on Stuyvesant Square.
It was a very small shop, in a shabby basement, in a side-street
already doomed to decline; and from the miscellaneous display behind the
window-pane, and the brevity of the sign surmounting it (merely "Bunner
Sisters" in blotchy gold on a black ground) it would have been difficult
for the uninitiated to guess the precise nature of the business carried
on within. But that was of little consequence, since its fame was so
purely local that the customers on whom its existence depended were
almost congenitally aware of the exact range of "goods" to be found at
Bunner Sisters'.
The house of which Bunner Sisters had annexed the basement was a private
dwelling with a brick front, green shutters on weak hinges, and a
dress-maker's sign in the window above the shop. On each side of its
modest three stories stood higher buildings, with fronts of brown stone,
cracked and blistered, cast-iron balconies and cat-haunted grass-patches
behind twisted railings. These houses too had once been private, but now


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