The Reef - Edith Wharton - Страница 1 из 355


THE REEF
by Edith Wharton
BOOK I
I
"Unexpected obstacle. Please don't come till thirtieth. Anna."
All the way from Charing Cross to Dover the train had hammered the words
of the telegram into George Darrow's ears, ringing every change of irony
on its commonplace syllables: rattling them out like a discharge of
musketry, letting them, one by one, drip slowly and coldly into his
brain, or shaking, tossing, transposing them like the dice in some game
of the gods of malice; and now, as he emerged from his compartment at
the pier, and stood facing the wind-swept platform and the angry sea
beyond, they leapt out at him as if from the crest of the waves, stung
and blinded him with a fresh fury of derision.
"Unexpected obstacle. Please don't come till thirtieth. Anna."
She had put him off at the very last moment, and for the second time:
put him off with all her sweet reasonableness, and for one of her usual
"good" reasons--he was certain that this reason, like the other, (the
visit of her husband's uncle's widow) would be "good"! But it was that
very certainty which chilled him. The fact of her dealing so reasonably
with their case shed an ironic light on the idea that there had been any
exceptional warmth in the greeting she had given him after their twelve
years apart.
They had found each other again, in London, some three months
previously, at a dinner at the American Embassy, and when she had caught
sight of him her smile had been like a red rose pinned on her widow's
mourning. He still felt the throb of surprise with which, among


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