This Side of Glory
to come down the spiral staircase in a wedding veil. And strangely, she saw the print of the horseshoe on the step of thestairs, and the dent in the silver coffee-pot, and Kester’s little knife with his name engraved on the handle because he was always losing things.
    At last—she did not know how long she had been staring at him —Kester bent and kissed her forehead. She heard him say,
    “I’m sorry, darling. I shouldn’t have worried you. I’ll go down to New Orleans and get an extension.”
    Eleanor put up her hand to her forehead with a curious feeling of resentment as though a stranger had touched her with his lips. Things were not coming back to their places. She said vaguely, “An extension? How do you know you can get it?”
    He shrugged. By a great effort she focused her attention upon him, and saw that he looked normal again, the untroubled and delightful young man who had never failed to have what he wanted fall into his hands. “I always do, sweetheart,” he assured her. “This is just a form letter. I shouldn’t have let it scare me.” He continued with soothing cheerfulness. “My dearest, don’t glare at me like that! I’m sorry I frightened you. Didn’t you know I’m always hopelessly in debt? That I’m the bad child coddled by the Southeastern Exchange Bank? That my one talent is being able to borrow money from anybody?” As though bewildered by her hurt amazement, he added wonderingly, “Didn’t you know me, darling, when you married me?”
    In a voice so cold and hard that her word dropped like a lump of ice on his self-confidence, Eleanor said,
    “No.”
    Kester did not answer. He took a step backward. It seemed to Eleanor that this moment was like a blade that cut through her life, dividing all that lay ahead of it from all that lay behind. She stared at Kester through the minute of transition, seeing him with the clarity with which one sometimes sees through pain. She saw him as though for the first time, Kester who had been given everything and so had never been faced with the necessity of deserving anything. Blessed with an honored name, a great inheritance, compelling personal gifts, Kester had never thought of guarding what he received so easily. And money was one thing—perhaps the only important thing in his life—that was not subject to his charm. So Kester had refused to look at it. He preferred to make believe that its demands were not relentless. But that, in the code to which Eleanor had been bred, was unforgivable.
    She remembered the tent in the levee camp, and her father’s implacable voice. “I’m not talking about anything he’s done. I’m talking about the kind of person he is.”
    She got to her feet slowly, feeling stiff as though she had been sitting still for hours. Kester was still regarding her with a hurt surprise.
    “I don’t understand,” said Eleanor. “What have we been spending?”
    He shrugged. “I’ve wondered myself.”
    “How much money do you owe?”
    “I haven’t,” said Kester, “the faintest idea.”
    “Don’t talk to me like that!” she exclaimed. “I’m not a child. Where did you get it?”
    He made a wide gesture, his hand taking in the room. “Ardeith. Funny how it piles up on you.”
    “You mean you’ve mortgaged it piece by piece?”
    “Something like that. The place was mortgaged a little when I took it over. My grandmother had kept it clear of debt, but father never had much more sense about money than I have. Since he’s retired he’s lived on the income of some sugar land across the river. It’s rented.”
    “But how did you do it?”
    “How does anybody do it?” he answered patiently. “I haven’t paid much attention. You borrow on the cotton when it’s planted. You think the crop will pay it off but you need the money for something else, so you give a piece of land as security. Then all of a sudden something happens to make you realize every teaspoon in the house is carrying all it can stand.

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