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The Reef by Edith Wharton
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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