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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesMoon And Sixpence - Chapter 16
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Moon And Sixpence - Chapter 16 Post by :Mr._Jeff Category :Long Stories Author :W. Somerset Maugham Date :March 2011 Read :3129

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Moon And Sixpence - Chapter 16

What followed showed that Mrs. Strickland was a woman
of character. Whatever anguish she suffered she concealed.
She saw shrewdly that the world is quickly bored by the
recital of misfortune, and willingly avoids the sight of distress.
Whenever she went out -- and compassion for her misadventure
made her friends eager to entertain her -- she bore a
demeanour that was perfect. She was brave, but not too obviously;
cheerful, but not brazenly; and she seemed more
anxious to listen to the troubles of others than to discuss
her own. Whenever she spoke of her husband it was with pity.
Her attitude towards him at first perplexed me. One day she
said to me:

"You know, I'm convinced you were mistaken about Charles being alone.
From what I've been able to gather from certain
sources that I can't tell you, I know that he didn't leave
England by himself."

"In that case he has a positive genius for covering up his tracks."

She looked away and slightly coloured.

"What I mean is, if anyone talks to you about it, please don't
contradict it if they say he eloped with somebody."

"Of course not."

She changed the conversation as though it were a matter to
which she attached no importance. I discovered presently that
a peculiar story was circulating among her friends. They said
that Charles Strickland had become infatuated with a French
dancer, whom he had first seen in the ballet at the Empire,
and had accompanied her to Paris. I could not find out how
this had arisen, but, singularly enough, it created much
sympathy for Mrs. Strickland, and at the same time gave her
not a little prestige. This was not without its use in the
calling which she had decided to follow. Colonel MacAndrew
had not exaggerated when he said she would be penniless, and
it was necessary for her to earn her own living as quickly as
she could. She made up her mind to profit by her acquaintance
with so many writers, and without loss of time began to learn
shorthand and typewriting. Her education made it likely that
she would be a typist more efficient than the average, and her
story made her claims appealing. Her friends promised to send
her work, and took care to recommend her to all theirs.

The MacAndrews, who were childless and in easy circumstances,
arranged to undertake the care of the children, and Mrs.
Strickland had only herself to provide for. She let her flat
and sold her furniture. She settled in two tiny rooms in
Westminster, and faced the world anew. She was so efficient
that it was certain she would make a success of the adventure.

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It was about five years after this that I decided to live inParis for a while. I was growing stale in London. I wastired of doing much the same thing every day. My friendspursued their course with uneventfulness; they had no longerany surprises for me, and when I met them I knew pretty wellwhat they would say; even their love-affairs had a tedious banality.We were like tram-cars running on their lines from terminusto terminus, and it was possible to calculate within smalllimits the number of passengers they would carry. Life wasordered too pleasantly. I was
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When I reached London I found waiting for me an urgent requestthat I should go to Mrs. Strickland's as soon after dinner asI could. I found her with Colonel MacAndrew and his wife.Mrs. Strickland's sister was older than she, not unlike her,but more faded; and she had the efficient air, as though shecarried the British Empire in her pocket, which the wives ofsenior officers acquire from the consciousness of belonging toa superior caste. Her manner was brisk, and her good-breedingscarcely concealed her conviction that if you were not asoldier you might as well be a counter-jumper. She hated
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