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World So Wide (1951) by Sinclair Lewis

World So Wide (1951) by Sinclair Lewis

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Title: World So Wide (1951)Author: Sinclair Lewis* A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook *eBook No.: 0301121.txtEdition: 1Language: EnglishCharacter set encoding: Latin-1(ISO-8859-1)--8 bitDate first posted: August 2003Date most recently updated: August 2003This eBook was produced by: Don Lainson dlainson@sympatico.caProject Gutenberg of Australia eBooks are created from printed editionswhich are in the public domain in Australia, unless a copyright noticeis included. We do NOT keep any eBooks in compliance with a particularpaper edition.Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check thecopyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributing thisfile.This eBook is made available at no cost and with almost no restrictionswhatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the termsof the Project Gutenberg of Australia License which may be viewed online athttp://gutenberg.net.au/licence.htmlTo contact Project Gutenberg of Australia go to http://gutenberg.net.au--------------------------------------------------------------------------A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBookTitle: World So Wide (1951)Author: Sinclair LewisTo the Donna Caterina, Alec, John, Tish, Victor, Margherita, Tina,Claude and so many other memories of Italy.1The traffic policemen and the two detectives from the homicidesquad examined the tracks of the car and were convinced that a softshoulder of the road had given way.They had been returning from Bison Park, after midnight but quitesober. Hayden Chart was driving the convertible and hating hiswife, Caprice, and hating himself for hating her. He was not givento grudges and, despite her glitter of pale-green dinner dress andher glitter of derisive gossip, Caprice was a simpleton who no moredeserved hatred than did a noisy child. But she did chatter so.
 
It wore Hayden down like a telephone bell ringing incessantly in anempty house.She gabbled, "Jesse Bradbin is so dumb! He's an absolute hick, andhe's about as much of an architect as my left foot. Why couldn'tyou get a smarter partner? And IS he a lousy bridge player! Is heever!""He's not bad.""No, it's his cluck of a wife that really gets me down. In mycandid opinion, Mary Eliza Bradbin is the worst dose of vinegar inNewlife; the most hypocritical combination of piousness and secretdrinking I ever ran into. And always criticizing some poor bunny.You pretend like you like everybody, but even you got to admit MaryEliza is a pain in the neck. Isn't she, huh? Isn't she?""Yes. Stupid. But means well," said Hayden Chart."She means poison, that's what she means!"The scolding did not become Caprice, thought Hayden. She waselfin, tiny and quick and rose and pale gold, given to affectionategiggles in between her miaows. If she would only shut up, hesighed, he could go on loving her like a dutiful husband--perhaps.He longed for silence. Especially on a moony night like this,driving on smooth cement with this suave engine, he liked to lookup at the mountains against the moon-pale sky, to look withsatisfaction at the houses he himself had planned in these comelynew suburbs of Newlife, "the fastest-growing city in Colorado"--Newlife, with its skyscrapers set among flat one-story supply-houses for silver miners and sheep-ranchers; Newlife and itssymphony orchestra, with a Spanish conductor, playing in aRenaissance temple where a fiery dance-hall had stood but twentyyears before. Newlife had swollen from 30,000 to 300,000 in thirtyyears, and it expected a million in another thirty.And in Newlife no firm was more enterprising than Chart, Bradbin &Chart, architects: the heavy-handed Jesse Bradbin, aged sixty, andthe thirty-five-year-old Hayden, who was slim and compact andpatient, and given to playing tennis and reading biography.He did not know Caprice. It would always be his fault with womenthat his imagination darted into their inner minds, thought withand through their minds. He took their side even against himself,and saw to it, thus, that he invariably lost in the war againstwomen.He could not even be thunderous with a woman client guilty of themost sickening of crimes (except for not paying the bill): wantingwhat she wanted in a house and not what the architect knew was goodfor her. He was both maddened and sympathetic now when Caprice,exasperated at not having made him pay more attention to her,started all her little tricks of propaganda, which mutely shrieked,"Notice me--notice me!"Holding it visibly high, from her lizard-skin evening bag she took
 
out her gold-link purse; out of the purse she took a package insilver paper; out of the silver paper she took the prize she hadjust won at bridge: a brooch of imitation jade. Then she wrappedup the brooch, put the silver paper in her purse, put the purse inthe bag, loudly clicked the bag shut, loudly clicked it open again,took out the purse, took out the silver paper . . .She was capable of doing this over and over until he testified toher powers of torture by scolding her.But tonight his anger at her petty bullying was lost in pity that,at slightly over thirty, she should still have the mind of a childdelighted by any sort of gift. He made himself say to her,civilly, "That's a nice jade charm. I'm glad you won it."Now that she had made him recognize her presence, she returned toher gabbing, but more spitefully; she did what she gleefully called"needling him a little.""But you, big boy, were YOU ever terrible tonight! You playedworse than Mary Eliza. You got no more card sense than a zebra.But what amused me, when it didn't get me sore--oh, you didn'tthink I noticed; you think you're such a smoothie about covering upyour sniffing around after women--what had me sunk was the way youkept sneaking in a look at Roxanna's ankles and Alice's buz-ZOOMand Jane's god-awful lipstick. You'd be THE most ridiculous tail-waving cat out on the tiles, if it wasn't that you're such acoward!"His irritation, sparking into wrath at this injustice, may havemade his hand twitch on the steering wheel, or it may have beenentirely the soft shoulder of the highway caving in. Whichever,the car was suddenly and appallingly shooting off the embankedroad, and as he protested, "This can't be happening to me!" theywere turning over and over in air.There was something comic in that grotesque horror. The roof wasbelow him, then the car upended like a rearing horse, then his headhad struck the roof and afterward the windshield, then the whirlingcosmos banged down, and the side window was below him, on theearth, then up beside him again, and they were still. The hugenoise dissolved into a huge blank silence, and the car shook like apanting animal. They were tilted, but nearly right-side-up.He thought that his head was bleeding and both his arms broken andhe knew that he was very sick and that Caprice was not there besidehim."Where are you? Darling!" he was screaming--he was trying toscream, while he realized that his voice was choked. He thought hecould hear a small shaky answer from her, but he was so dazed thathe could not be sure whether it was a moan or a sneer. With agonyhe managed to turn his head enough to make out their situation.With a freakishness like that of a tornado, Caprice seemed to havebeen thrown into the shallow back seat, and the light fabric top ofthe convertible had been so deeply dented that she was imprisonedthere, with only an aperture between the two seats large enough forhim to hear her sobbing; not large enough for either of them to

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