The Long Run, by Edith Wharton

VI

It was long past midnight, and the terrier’s hints became imperious.

Merrick rose from his chair, pushed back a fallen log and put up the fender. He walked across the room and stared a moment at the Brangwyn etching before which Paulina Trant had paused at a memorable turn of their talk. Then he came back and laid his hand on my shoulder.

“She summed it all up, you know, when she said that one way of finding out whether a risk is worth taking is not to take it, and then to see what one becomes in the long run, and draw one’s inferences. The long run — well, we’ve run it, she and I. I know what I’ve become, but that’s nothing to the misery of knowing what she’s become. She had to have some kind of life, and she married Reardon. Reardon’s a very good fellow in his way; but the worst of it is that it’s not her way. . . .

“No: the worst of it is that now she and I meet as friends. We dine at the same houses, we talk about the same people, we play bridge together, and I lend her books. And sometimes Reardon slaps me on the back and says: ‘Come in and dine with us, old man! What you want is to be cheered up!’ And I go and dine with them, and he tells me how jolly comfortable she makes him, and what an ass I am not to marry; and she presses on me a second helping of poulet Maryland, and I smoke one of Reardon’s cigars, and at half-past ten I get into my overcoat, and walk back alone to my rooms. . . . ”

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Last updated Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 12:30