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Undertow - Chapter 29 Post by :w3junkie Category :Long Stories Author :Kathleen Thompson Norris Date :May 2012 Read :689

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Undertow - Chapter 29

Chapter Twenty-nine


No formal reconciliation ended this time of discomfort. Guests came to the house, and Bert addressed his wife with some faint spontaneity, and Nancy eagerly answered him. They never alluded to the quarrel; it might have been better if they had argued and cried and laughed away the pain, in the old way.

But they needed each other less now, and life was too full to be checked by a few moments of misunderstanding. Nancy learned to keep absolutely silent when Bert was launched upon one of his favourite tirades against her extravagance; perhaps the most maddening attitude she could have assumed. She would listen politely, her eyes wandering, her thoughts quite as obviously astray.

"But a lot you care!" Bert would finish angrily, "You go on and on, it's charge and charge and charge--SOMEBODY'LL pay for it all! You've got to do as the other women do, no matter how crazy it is! I ask you--I ask you honestly, do you know what our Landmann bill was last month?"

"I've told you I didn't know, Bert," Nancy might answer patiently.

"Well, you ought to know!"

"I know this," Nancy sometimes said gently, "that you are not yourself to-day; you've been eating too much, drinking too much, and going too hard. You can't do it, Bert, you aren't made that way. ..."

Then it was Bert's turn to be icily silent, under the pleasant, even tones of his wife's voice. Sometimes he desperately planned to break the rule of hospitality, to frighten Nancy by letting guests and neighbours see that something was wrong with the Bradleys. But he never had courage enough, it always seemed simpler and wiser to keep the surface smooth. Nancy, on her part, saw that there was nothing to gain by a break of any sort. Bert was not the type to be intimidated by sulks and silences, and more definite steps might quickly carry the situation out of her hands. The present with Bert was difficult, but a future that did not include him was simply unthinkable. No, a woman who had four young children to consider had no redress; she could only endure. Nancy liked the martyr role, and frequently had cause, or imagined she had cause, for assuming it.

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Undertow - Chapter 30 Undertow - Chapter 30

Undertow - Chapter 30
Chapter Thirty "The whole trouble is that Bert loves neither the children nor myself any more!" she decided bitterly, on a certain August afternoon, when, with three other young wives and mothers, she was playing bridge at the club. It was a Saturday, and Bert was on the tennis courts the semi-finals in the tournament were being played. Nancy had watched all morning, and had lunched with the other women; the men merely snatched lunch, still talking of the play. Nancy had noticed disapprovingly that Bert was flushed and excited, her asides to him seemed to fall upon unhearing ears.
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Undertow - Chapter 28 Undertow - Chapter 28

Undertow - Chapter 28
Chapter Twenty-eight Bert was very late, that night. The children were all asleep, and Nancy had dined, and was dreaming over her black coffee when, at nine o'clock, he came in. He was not hungry--just hot and tired-- he wanted something cool. He had lunched late, in town, with both the Pearsalls, had not left the table until four o'clock. And he had news for her. He was leaving Pearsall and Pearsall. Nancy looked at him stupefied. What did he mean? Panic seized her, and under her panic something rose and exulted. Perhaps it was trouble--perhaps Bert needed his wife again!
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