must be making fun of him

, coming to him with a shock of surprise, suddenly recalled the look on Mrs. Tarrant’s face when, the night before, he had blurted out that he was imprisoned by his contract with her husband. She had not answered; had not spoken at all: but her eager eyes and lips seemed drawn back, immobilized, and for the only time in their talk he felt between them an impenetrable barrier. . . . It was that, then! She knew the review was in a bad way, but pride, or perhaps loyalty to her husband, forbade her to admit it. She had merely said, after a moment: “The two years that are left will soon be over; then you’ll be free . . .” with a smile which seemed half ironic and half sympathizing. And they had passed on to other matters.
Yes, Vance said, rousing himself to answer Mr. Lambart, yes, of course he would authorize any attempt to buy him off . . . only, he added, Tarrant was a queer-tempered fellow . . . you never knew . . . The publisher’s smile flicked Tarrant away like a straw. “Gifted amateur . . . They can’t edit reviews . . .” He promised to let Vance know the result as soon as possible. “And now about the next novel,” he said, a ring of possessorship in his voice. The terms proposed (a third in advance, if Mr. Weston chose) made Vance’s blood drum in his ears; but there was a change of tone when he began to outline Loot. A big novel of modern New York? What — ANOTHER? Tempting subject, yes — tremendous canvas — but there’d been so many of them! The public was fed up with skyscrapers and niggers and bootleggers and actresses. Fed up equally with Harlem and with the opera, with Greenwich Village and the plutocrats. What they wanted was something refined — something to appeal to the heart. Couldn’t Mr. Weston see that by the way his own book had been received? Why not follow up the success of Instead by another novel just like it? The quaintness of the story — so to speak — had taken everybody’s fancy. Why not leave the New York show to fellows like Fynes, and the new man Gratz Blemer, who couldn’t either of them do anything else, didn’t even suspect there was anything else to do? This Gratz Blemer: taking three hundred thousand words to tell the story of a streetwalker and a bootblack, and then calling it This Globe! Why, you could get round the real globe nowadays a good deal quicker than you could dig your way through that book! No, no, the publisher said — if Mr. Weston would just listen to HIM, and rely on his long experience . . . Well, would he think it over, anyhow? A book just like Instead, only about forty thousand words longer. If Instead had a blemish, it was being what the dry-goods stores called an “outsize”; the public did like to get what they were used to. . . . And if a novelist had had the luck to hit on something new that they took a shine to, it was sheer suicide not to give them more of it . . . .
It was an odd sensation for Vance, after so many months of seclusion, to find himself again in the harmonious setting of the Tarrants’ library, with friendly faces pressing about him and adulation filling the air like a shower of perfumed petals. . . . There were fewer people than at his former party at Mrs. Tarrant’s; there was no Mrs. Pulsifer, there were no ladies in gold brocade to startle and captivate. The men were mostly in day clothes, the few women in simple half-transparent dresses such as Mrs. Tarrant had worn that other evening when he had called her up and found her alone over the fire. Those women dressed like that when they were sitting at home alone in the evening! The fact impressed Vance more than all Mrs. Pulsifer’s brocades and jewels — made the distance seem greater between the world of Mrs. Hubbard’s third story and that in which a sort of quiet beauty and order were an accepted part of life.
Vance had tried to induce Laura Lou to come with him, but had not been altogether sorry when he failed. He had not forgotten their disastrous lunch at the Tarrants’, and he told himself that he hated to see his wife at a disadvantage among people who seemed blind to her beauty, and conscious only of her lack of small talk. But in fact it was only in her absence that he was really himself. Every situation in which she figured instantly became full of pitfalls. The Vance Weston who was her husband was a nervous, self~conscious, and sometimes defiant young man, whereas the other, the real one, was disposed to take things easily, to meet people halfway, and to forget himself completely in the pursuit of any subject that interested him. And here at the Tarrants’, as always, the air was full of such subjects, and of a cordiality which instantly broke down his lingering resentments. He felt this even in Tarrant’s handshake on the threshold. Tarrant, at the office, was an enigma to Vance. What he had heard of the difficulties of the New Hour had prepared him to find them reflected in his host’s manner; but apparently among these people business concerns were left behind after business hours, and Tarrant had never been so friendly and fraternal. He detained Vance for a few moments in talk about the new book (“my wife tells me it’s really on the stocks”), and then effaced himself, declaring: “But it’s the author of Instead that people want to see; come along to my wife, and she’ll introduce you.”
Halo, at the farther end of the library, was talking to a short, heavily built young man with a head cropped like a German Bursche, whom she introduced as Gratz Blemer. Blemer was blunt but affable. “I guess we can’t read each other — anyway, you’ll never flounder through a morass like my last book — but I’m glad of the chance of a talk. Writing’s always a mannerism; talk’s the only real thing, isn’t it?” He spoke with a slight German accent, oiled by Jewish gutturals, and Vance, while attracted by his good-nature and simplicity, wondered for the thousandth time why American novels were so seldom written by Americans. He would have liked to go off into a corner with Blemer and put a series of questions about his theory of his art; but other people came up. There was little O’Fallery, whose short story, “Limp Collars,” had taken the Pulsifer Prize on which Tarrant had counted for Vance; Frenside, gruffly benevolent, Rebecca Stram (who was exhibiting Vance’s bust in the clay at a show of “Tomorrowists” got up by that enterprising industry, “Storecraft”), and others, men and women, unknown to Vance, or known only by reputation, but all sounding the same note of admiring interest and intelligent comprehension . . . .
Comprehension? At the moment it seemed so; yet as the hours passed, and the opportunity came for one after another to capture the new novelist, and start a literary conversation of which he was himself the glowing centre, Vance felt, again and again, how random praise can isolate and discourage. All that made his work worthwhile, all that made the force of his vocation, was apparently invisible or incomprehensible to others. He longed to learn more about this mysterious craft, the instruments of which some passing divinity had carelessly dropped into his hands, leaving him to puzzle out their use; but the intelligent and admiring people to whom he strove to communicate his curiosities seemed unable to follow him. “Oh, you’re too modest,” one cordial critic assured him; and another: “I suppose when you start a story you don’t always know yourself how it’s going to end . . . .” Not know how it’s going to end! Then these people had never heard that footfall of Destiny which, for Vance, seemed to ring out in the first page of all the great novels, as compelling as the knock of Macbeth’s gates, as secret as the opening measures of the Fifth Symphony? Gratz Blemer, even, whom he managed to corner later in the evening, and whose book gave him so great a sense of easy power — Gratz Blemer, good-natured and evidently ready to be communicative, twisted a cigar between his thick lips, stared at the ceiling, and returned from it to say: “Novel-writing? Why, I don’t know. You have a story you want to tell, and instead of buttonholing a fellow and pouring it out — which is the only natural way — you shut yourself up and reel it off on a Remington, and send it to the publisher, so that more fellows can hear it. That’s the only difference, I guess — that and the cash returns,” he added with a well-fed chuckle.
“Yes, but — ” Vance gasped, disheartened.
“Well, what?”
“I mean, how does the thing germinate, spread itself above and below the surface? There’s something so treelike, so preordained. . . . I came across something in Blake the other day that made me think of it: ‘Man is born like a garden ready planted and sown. This world is too poor to produce one seed.’ That just hints at the mystery . . . but I can’t make it all out — can you?”
Blemer gave his jovial laugh. “Never tried to,” he said, reaching with a plump hairy hand for a passing cocktail. And after a moment he added good-naturedly: “See here, young man, don’t you go and read the Prophets and get self-conscious about your work, or you’ll take to writing fifty pages about a crack in the ceiling — and then the Cocoanut Tree’ll grovel before you, but your sales’ll go down with a rush.” No, evidently Blemer did not know how or why he wrote his novels, and could not even conceive the existence of the problems which were Vance’s passion and despair. . . . The footfall of Destiny would never keep him from his sleep . . . and yet he had written a good book.
But if Vance was disappointed by his talks with the literary lights, he was stimulated by the atmosphere at the Tarrants’, by the flattering notice of these enviable people who spoke freely and familiarly of so many things he was aching to know about, who took for granted that you had seen the last play at the Yiddish Theatre, had heard the new Stravinsky symphony, had visited the Tcheko~Slovakian painters’ show, and were eager to discuss the Tomorrowists’ coming exhibition, at which they all knew that Vance’s bust by Rebecca Stram was to be shown.
The air was electrical, if not with ideas at least with phrases and allusions which led up to them. To Vance the background of education and travel implied by this quick flashing back and forth of names, anecdotes, references to unseen places, unheard-of people, works of art, books, plays, was intoxicating in its manifold suggestions. Even more so, perhaps, was the sense of the unhampered lives of the people who seemed so easily able to satisfy all their curiosities — people who took as a matter of course even the noble range of books in the Tarrant library, the deep easy chairs, the skilfully disposed lamps and flowers, and the music which, toward the end of the evening, a dreaming hand drew from the Steinway in its shadowy corner. As in every one of his brief contacts with this world, Vance felt a million currents of beauty and vitality pouring through him. If the life of a great city had such plastic and pictorial qualities, why not seize on them? Why not make the most of his popularity with these people who had so many ways of feeding his imagination? Before the party broke up he had accepted a dozen invitations to dine, to sup, to hear new music or look at old pictures. What a world it was going to be to dig into and then write about!
Chapter 35
“Storecraft” had lodged itself on the summit of a corner building in Fifth Avenue, with a “roof patio” (the newest architectural hybrid) surrounded by showrooms and a cabaret. This fresh stage in its development was to be inaugurated by the Tomorrowist Show, and when Vance and Laura Lou shot up to the patio in the crowded lift the rooms were already beginning to fill with the people whose only interest in exhibitions is to visit them on their opening day.
Laura Lou, at the last moment, had decided to accompany her husband. The day was radiant, and treacherously warm for March, and she had put on a little blue hat, of the same blue as the one she had worn that fatal day in the rubberneck car, and a coat with a collar of fluffy amber fur. Between cerulean hat brim and blond fur her face looked as tender as a wild rose, and the shadow of fatigue under her eyes turned them to burning sapphire. Vance looked at her in wonder. What did she do with all this loveliness in their everyday life? It seemed to appear suddenly, on particular occasions, as if she had pulled it out of the trunk under their bed with her “good” coat; and he knew it would vanish again as quickly, leaving her the pale heavy-eyed ghost of her old self. Some inner stimulus, now almost lacking in her life, seemed required to feed that precarious beauty. He noticed how people turned their heads as she entered the gallery, as they had done in the fashionable restaurant, and at the theatre, on their wedding journey. Masculine pride flushed through him, and he slipped his arm possessively in hers. “Take me right to where it is,” she enjoined him with a little air of power, as if instantly conscious of his feeling.
They worked their way into the second room, and there, aloft on a central pedestal, Vance caught a half glimpse of himself as embodied in the clay of Rebecca Stram. The conspicuous placing of the bust astonished him — he hadn’t supposed that Rebecca’s artistic standing, even in her own little group, was of such importance.
“Gee — for a beginner they’ve given her a good place,” he said to his wife.
“Oh, Vanny, it isn’t her — it’s YOU!”
He laughed a little sheepishly, in genuine surprise. He had forgotten that for anyone but himself and Laura Lou his features could be of interest.
“Shucks,” he growled self-consciously.
“Why, just look! We can’t get up to it — I can’t see it, even!” she exulted.
The bust was in fact enclosed in a dense circle of people, some few of whom were looking at it, while the greater number hung on the vibrant accents of a showily dressed man whose robust back was turned to Vance and Laura Lou.
“Know him? Know Vance Weston?” they heard Bunty Hayes ring out in megaphone tones. “Why, I should SAY so. Ever since he was a little kiddie. Why, him and me were raised together, way down on the Hudson River, as the old song says. Born out West?” (This is evident response to the comment of one of his auditors.) “That’s so — Illinois, I guess it was, or maybe Arizona. But he came east as a little fellow, to live with his mother’s relatives — don’t I remember the day he arrived? Why, I met him when he stepped off the train. Even then you could see the little genius in him. ‘Bunty,’ he says to me, ‘where’s the public library?” (First thing!). I want to consult the Encyclopaedia Britannica,’ he says. Couldn’t ha’ been more’n sixteen, I guess — thinking of his writing even then! Well, I was on a newspaper in those days myself, and I walked him right round to the office, and I said: “What you want to study isn’t encyclopaedias, it’s Life.’ And I guess, if I do say so, that was the turning point in his career; and I claim it was my advice and help that landed him where he is today: at the head of the world’s fiction writers, and in the place of honour at ‘Storecraft’s’ first art exhibit. Proud of it? Well, I guess I’ve got a right to be . . . .”
He swung suddenly round, mustering the crowd with an eye trained to the estimation of numbers; and his glance met Vance’s. The latter expected to see signs of discomfiture on the orator’s compact countenance; but he did not yet know Bunty Hayes. The showman’s eye instantly lit up, and he elbowed his way toward Vance with extended hand.
“Well, ladies and gentlemen, I see it’s time for me to pack up my goods and step down off the platform. Here’s the great man himself. Now, then, Mr. Weston, step up here and give your admirers the chance to compare the living features with the artist’s inspiration!”
Vance stood paralysed with rage; but he had no time to express it, for friends and acquaintances were pressing about him, and Bunty Hayes was swept aside by their approach. Vance found himself the centre of a throng of people, all eager to say a word, all determined to have one in return; and his only conscious desire was to be rid of it all, and of them, and let his rage against Hayes take breath. He managed to mumble his wife’s name to the first comers, but presently her hand slipped from his arm, and he saw her drawn away by a tall sable-draped figure whose back he recognized as Mrs. Pulsifer’s. Mrs. Pulsifer and Laura Lou — he wished there had been time to be furious at that too! But perhaps it was better to laugh at it — to laugh even at Bunty Hayes, whose showman’s instinct so confidently triumphed over every personal awkwardness. “Why,” Vance thought, “if I was to collar him now and give him the licking he deserves, he’d use THAT to advertise ‘Storecraft.’ No wonder he gets on, and ‘Storecraft’ too.” And instantly he began to weave the whole scene into Loot, his heart beating excitedly as he felt himself swept along on the strong current of the human comedy. . . . If only he could tell Halo Tarrant, he thought! He turned, and there she stood beside him, with Frenside.
“Yes, we’ve come. I hate these performances; but I wanted to see you battling with the waves, and I made Frenny come too.” How fine and slender and aloof she managed to look among them all, and how his blood instantly caught step with hers! “Well, this is fame — how do you like it?” she bantered him.
He shrugged. “I guess it’s a good page for Loot.”
She nodded delightedly. “You see I was right! I told you you must see it all. But where’s Laura Lou? Surely she was with you a minute ago?”
“Yes. But she’s gone.”
“With Mrs. Pulsifer. I think they’re in the other room.”
Their eyes met, and Mrs. Tarrant laughed. “I’ve noticed signs of uneasiness in Jet lately. She realizes that she made a bad mistake last year about your short story, and I hear she now talks of founding a First Novel prize. She’s probably telling Laura Lou all about it.”
Vance laughed too; and then they turned together to the bust, which Mrs. Tarrant had not yet seen. She studied it thoughtfully for a long time; then, as other visitors crowded her away, she turned back to Vance. “I didn’t think that Stram girl had it in her. She HAS caught a glimpse of you, Vance — a glimpse of what you’re going to be. Don’t you think so, Frenny?”
“Well, I’m sorry to think that our young friend’s going to have a goitre,” said Frenside gloomily.
“Oh, dear — what a pity you can’t like anything that isn’t photographic! Artistically, you know,” she explained to Vance, “Frenny’s never got beyond the enlarged photograph of the ‘eighties, when people used to have their dear ones done twice the size of life, with the whiskers touched up in crayon.”
Vance echoed her laugh. He echoed it because certain inflexions of her voice were always laughter-provoking to him, and he would have thought anything funny if her eyes and her dimple had told him it was. But in reality he did think the bust queer, and had never understood why Rebecca had given him a swollen throat, and big lumps on his forehead, as if he’d been in a fight and got the worst of it. And he remembered too, with a pang, the colossal photograph which Grandma Scrimser had had made of Grandpa after his death, with the hyacinthine curls and low-necked collar of his prime, a photograph which the family had all thought so “speaking” that even Mrs. Weston dared not grumble at the expense. . . . Still, Vance, since then, had had a glimpse of other standards, and as he studied through Halo’s eyes the rough clay head with tumbled hair and heavy brooding forehead he began to see that under her surface mannerisms Rebecca Stram had reached down to his inner self, that the image seemed, as Halo said, to body forth what he was trying to be.
“It oughtn’t to have been done till after I’ve pulled off Loot,” he said, trying to hide his satisfaction under a joke.
“Oh, but it’s a proof that you will pull it off,” Halo rejoined; and then other people came up to them both, and swept them apart. He found her again at last, seated alone in a corner, and as he sat down beside her she said: “Who was that ridiculous man who was bragging about having known you when you were a boy?”
Vance’s dormant indignation against Bunty Hayes flamed up again. “Oh, he’s the manager of ‘Storecraft.’ He was just doing a blurb for the show.”
“Obviously. But where on earth did you know him?”
Vance hesitated. “I ran across him at Paul’s Landing. He used to go round with Upton Tracy.”
“Oh, I see.” She made a little grimace and rose to her feet. “Well, I’m going. I only came here to see you. I mean Rebecca’s YOU,” she corrected herself with a smile.
“Not yours?” he asked, flushing.
“No, I’d rather see him some evening quietly at home. When are you going to bring me your next chapters?”
“Any time,” he stammered, whirling with the joy of it; and she named a date which he of course accepted, as he would have accepted any other, at the cost of breaking no matter what other engagements. His head was light and dizzy with anticipation as he watched her vanish with Frenside in the throng.
When he roused himself from the spell he remembered that Laura Lou was somewhere in the gallery. He went back to look for her, but she was nowhere to be found, and at last he concluded, though half incredulously, that she must have gone off with Mrs. Pulsifer. It was very unlike her — but he had discovered that Laura Lou was often unlike herself, and that he really knew next to nothing of the secret springs of her actions and emotions. He did not think of this for long; his heart and brain were still full of the thought of Mrs. Tarrant. He was to see her again in two days: “a quiet evening,” she had said. That meant, he and she alone under the lamp, in that still meditative room which was like no other that he knew: a room of which the very walls seemed to think. And they would sit there alone together, while the logs crackled and fell, and he would read his new stuff to her, and she would sit motionless and silent, her chin on her lifted hand, her long arm modelled by the lamplight; and even while his eyes were on the page he would see her hand and arm, and her nearness would burn itself at the same time into his body and brain.
He slipped out of the gallery and found himself below in the street. The weather had changed, it had grown very cold, and the skyscrapers flung down a rough wind into the tunnel-like thoroughfares at their base. Vance remembered the March snowstorm on the Hudson, which had come after just such a mild spell; and that led him to wonder if Laura Lou had got safely home before the change. Her pretty coat with cheap ghd straighteners £50 the blond fur was only a summer garment, put on because it was her best; and she mustn’t catch another cold, he reflected. But his mind was too full of excited thoughts for that one to dominate it. He was at once too happy and too anxious to dwell for long on anything; and he turned westward and struck into the park, to try to walk his jostling idea leopard print ghds s into order.
The encounter with Bunty Hayes had disgusted him profoundly. That kind of slovenly good-nature was merely a caricature of the superficial tolerance, the moral apathy, of most of the people he came in contact with. Nothing mattered to any of them except to get on, to shove a way through and crowd out the others. There was Hayes, a man who had reason to hate him — or thought so — who loved his wife, and must therefore be jealous of him, and yet in whom the primitive emotions were so worn down by the perpetual effort to get on, to gain an inch or two in the daily struggle, that they could be silenced at will whenever it was to his interest. As Vance tramped on against the stinging win cheap ghd straighteners d his anger subsided also, but for a different reason. Hayes, the human fact, was being gradually absorbed, transubstantiated, into the stuff of his book; was turning from a vulgar contemptible man into a grotesque symbol of the national futility. . . . And then Vance began to examine his own case. He had not complied, he had tried to stand on his feet, to defend his intellectual integrity. And where was he? What was he? The flattered and envied author of the newest craze, a successful first novel; yet in himself an unhappy powerless creature, poor, hungry, in debt, the bewildered bondslave of the people he despised Leopard print ghds uk – cheap ghds sale , the people who sacrifice everything and everybody to getting on.
And in thus summing up his case he had left out the central void: the blank enigma of his marriage. He could hardly remember now the gleams of joy which Laura Lou’s presence had shed on their early days. He had imagined that she shared all his ideas, whereas she was merely the sounding board of his young exuberance. Now the delusions and raptures were all gone. If he and she could have had a house of their own, instead of having to live in one room, how often would he have sought her out? All that remained of his flaming dream was a cold half-impatient pity. He supposed, vaguely, that the real meaning of marriage, the need that upheld it as an institution in spite of all revolts and ironies, was man’s primitive craving for a home, children, a moral anchorage. Marriage had brought him none of these. What sense was there in living in one room with an idle childless woman whom he had long since forgotten though she was always there? He despised himself for yielding to their enforced propinquity, and giving cheap ghd air her what her soft endearments asked as carelessly as if she had been the casual companion of a night.
He sat on a bench in the park and revolved these world-old riddles till the cold drew him to his feet, and he turned homeward, heavy and confused as when he had started.
Laura Lou must have got back long before him. She would be waiting at home, perhaps resenting the fact of his not having stayed with her at the gallery. He swung along impatiently, trying to put out of his mind the secret well of joy that fed him: the thought of the quiet evening with Mrs. Tarrant and his book. . . . Since he had rung her heap ghd hair straighteners uk up that evening, more than a month ago, he had been with her perilously often, meeting her at dinners, at informal studio parties, sometimes going with her to the theatre or to a symphony concert. To be with her nearly every day, to share with her all his artistic and intellectual joys, to carry to her every new experience, every question, every curiosity, had become an irresistible need cheap ghds . She had drawn him back to the frank footing of friendship, and skilfully kept him there. But they had not yet had another long evening alone by the lamp, and now he felt that he must pour out his whole soul to her or have no peace.
Laura Lou was huddled up close to the radiator, which gave out but little warmth on Mrs. Hubbard’s third floor. She had tossed her hat and coat on the bed, and wrapped her stooping shoulders in the bedquilt.
“Well,” Vance said, with hollow gaiety, “where the devil did you run away to? I hunted for you all over the place.”
She lifted a face in which triumph struggled with resentment. He saw that for some reason she was annoyed with him, yet for another pleased. “Oh, I got tired staying round there with all those strange people; and I couldn’t b cheap ghd wide plate straighteners ear to look any longer at that hateful thing.”
“What hateful thing?”
“That awful bust. How could you let them show such a thing? It made me sick to see it.”
“Didn’t you like it? It’s been a good deal admired,” he muttered, piqued by her tone.
“Why, Vanny, can’t you see they’re only laughing at you when they tell you that?”
“Who’s ‘they’?”
“Why, all your fashionable friends. That Mrs. Pulsifer, for instance. And even SHE wasn’t sure. She said: ‘Do you suppose we OUGHT to admire it, Mrs. Weston?’ And when I said: ‘I never saw anything so awful,’ I could see she was kind of relieved. Oh, Vanny,” she continued, her face brightening, “I think you ought to see more of her. She says she was the first one to recognize your talent cheap ghd straighteners next day delivery , and she wanted ever so much to help you, but she never sees you any more because you won’t go with anybody but those Tarrants.”
His blood leapt up. “Nonsense — that fool of a woman! The biggest humbug . . .”
“It’s not humbug to say you always go with the Tarrants. . . . You never left her at the gallery . . . .”
“He’s my employer. I’ve told you a hundred times . . .” His voice rose angrily, but he checked himself, resolved not to let her draw him into another wrangle over that threadbare grievance. She might think what she pleased — explaining anything to her was useless. To divert her attention he questioned ironica cheap ghd flat iron lly: “I suppose you talked me over with Hayes too?”
Her colour rose quickly, painting her cheekbones with the familiar feverish patches. “I never talk you over with anybody — not the way you mean.”
“Well, you did talk with Hayes, didn’t you?”
She looked at her husband half furtively, half in resentment. “He was almost the only person I knew in the place. Of course I talked with him. I didn’t know you wouldn’t want me to.”
Vance was silent. Since the reconciliation at Paul’s Landing he had never spoken to his wife of Hayes. At that time, in answer to his brief questioning, she had sobbingly admitted that Hayes was ready to marry her if he, Vance, didn’t want her any longer. Hayes, it appeared, had arranged it all with Mrs. Tracy, and Laura Lou had been on the point of acquiescing because she was convinced that her husband no longer loved her and had been unfaithful to her with “that other woman.”
Feeling her then so soft and surrendered on his breast, seeing her despair, and conscious of his own shortcomings, Vance had brushed aside these negligible intrigues, and sworn to her that they would begin a new life together. And from that day he had never questioned her about Hayes, had purposely avoided pronouncing his name. He had the fe ghd outlet eling that the tie between himself and Laura Lou was even then too frail to stand the slightest strain. . . . But now the instinct of self-protection stirred him to cruelty; he, who was never cruel, desired to hurt his wife. “Do you see Hayes often? Does he come here? He’s just the kind to sneak round after you when he knows I’m at the office . . . .” How stupid the words sounded when he had spoken them! How little bearing they had on the intrinsic flaw in his relation with Laura Lou!
She hesitated a moment; then she said simply: “I’ve never talked with him but once since we’ve been here, one day when I met him in the street.”
“Oh, that’s all right; I didn’t mean — I’m no gaoler: you can see him here at the house all you want to,” he grumbled, irresolute and half ashamed.
“When I spoke to him just now at the gallery,” she c ghd straighteners ontinued, “all I did was to thank him for the lovely things he said about you when we first came in.”
“The lovely —?” Vance echoed, forgetting, in his blank amazement, what had gone before.
She looked surprised. “Why, didn’t you think what he said about you was lovely?” She smiled a little; her tone was confident and yet conciliatory. “Sometimes I think you don’t realize you’re celebrated, Vanny. He said you were — he told all those people so. I thought what he said was fine.”
For a moment Vance thought she must be making fun of him, avenging herself by this clumsy pleasantry for his supposed neglect. But she was incapable of irony; he saw that she had really taken Hayes’s oratory as a tribute to her husband’s genius.

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