The Custom of the Country

by

Edith Wharton

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Undine Spragg Character Analysis

Undine Spragg is the daughter of Mr. Spragg and Mrs. Spragg, and while she originally comes from Apex in the Midwest, her dream is to eventually become a member of the Fifth Avenue society in New York City. Over the course of the story, she marries and divorces several men, including Elmer Moffatt, Ralph Marvell, Raymond de Chelles, and then Elmer Moffatt again, having her son Paul Marvell with Ralph. Undine’s defining characteristic is her desire to climb up the social ranks. She constantly measures herself against the people around her and almost always reaches the conclusion that she could be doing more. At the beginning of the novel, she feels shame about her party dresses that sit in her wardrobe unused, and throughout the rest of the novel, she does whatever she can to make sure that she is always surrounded by people—ideally people who will notice and admire her. As a result of this, many of Undine’s friendships are based on competition, such as her rivalry with Indiana Frusk, who always seemed to live in Undine’s shadow in Apex but who surprises Undine later in the novel with her social conquests, including a marriage to Representative James J. Rolliver. Because of her endless ambition, Undine feels little satisfaction in achieving her goals and often finds herself haunted by her failures, such as her inability to make Peter Van Degen propose to her. By the end of the novel, Undine has obtained everything she ever wanted—including a marriage to Elmer Moffatt, who has become so wealthy that Undine will never have to worry about money again—but she remains unsatisfied. She imagines what it would be like to be the wife of an ambassador (which she can likely never become because of her history of divorces). While elements of Undine’s character are sympathetic, she ultimately represents the dangers of greed and of unchecked ambition, showing how materialism can make it impossible to ever be satisfied.

Undine Spragg Quotes in The Custom of the Country

The The Custom of the Country quotes below are all either spoken by Undine Spragg or refer to Undine Spragg. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Marriage and Divorce Theme Icon
).
Chapter 1 Quotes

“Undine Spragg—how can you?” her mother wailed, raising a prematurely-wrinkled hand heavy with rings to defend the note which a languid “bell-boy” had just brought in.

But her defence was as feeble as her protest, and she continued to smile on her visitor while Miss Spragg, with a turn of her quick young fingers, possessed herself of the missive and withdrew to the window to read it.

“I guess it’s meant for me,” she merely threw over her shoulder at her mother.

Related Symbols: Apex
Page Number: 3
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 2 Quotes

She went to the window, and drawing back its many layers of lace gazed eastward down the long brownstone perspective. Beyond the Park lay Fifth Avenue—and Fifth Avenue was where she wanted to be!

Related Symbols: The Stentorian, Fifth Avenue
Page Number: 12
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 3 Quotes

The dinner too was disappointing. Undine was too young to take note of culinary details, but she had expected to view the company through a bower of orchids and eat pretty-coloured entrees in ruffled papers. Instead, there was only a low centre-dish of ferns, and plain roasted and broiled meat that one could recognize—as if they’d been dyspeptics on a diet! With all the hints in the Sunday papers, she thought it dull of Mrs. Fairford not to have picked up something newer; and as the evening progressed she began to suspect that it wasn’t a real “dinner party,” and that they had just asked her in to share what they had when they were alone.

Related Symbols: Fifth Avenue, Apex
Page Number: 20
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5 Quotes

It had become clear to Undine that Mabel Lipscomb was ridiculous. That was the reason why Popple did not come to the box. No one would care to be seen talking to her while Mabel was at her side. […] She had a way of trumpeting out her ignorances that jarred on Undine’s subtler methods. It was precisely at this point that there dawned on Undine what was to be one of the guiding principles of her career: “It’s better to watch than to ask questions.”

Related Symbols: The Stentorian, Fifth Avenue
Page Number: 40
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 6 Quotes

But how long would their virgin innocence last? Popple’s vulgar hands were on it already—Popple’s and the unspeakable Van Degen’s! Once they and theirs had begun the process of initiating Undine, there was no knowing—or rather there was too easy knowing—how it would end!

Related Symbols: Fifth Avenue
Page Number: 50
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 7 Quotes

“Oh, it all depends on you! Out in Apex, if a girl marries a man who don’t come up to what she expected, people consider it’s to her credit to want to change. You’d better think twice of that!”

“If I were only sure of knowing what you expect!” he caught up her joke, tossing it back at her across the fascinated silence of their listeners.

“Why, everything!” she announced—and Mr. Dagonet, turning, laid an intricately-veined old hand on, hers, and said, with a change of tone that relaxed the tension of the listeners: “My child, if you look like that you’ll get it.”

Related Characters: Undine Spragg (speaker), Ralph Marvell (speaker), Mr. Dagonet (speaker), Mabel Lipscomb
Page Number: 58
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 10 Quotes

Mr. Spragg mused. “Wasn’t he ever taught to work?”

“No; I really couldn’t have afforded that.”

Related Characters: Mr. Abner E. Spragg (speaker), Mr. Dagonet (speaker), Ralph Marvell, Undine Spragg
Page Number: 74
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 14 Quotes

Such a company was one to flatter the artist as much his sitter, so completely did it represent that unanimity of opinion which constitutes social strength. Not one the number was troubled by any personal theory of art: all they asked of a portrait was that the costume should be sufficiently “life-like,” and the face not too much so; and a long experience in idealizing flesh and realizing dress-fabrics had enabled Mr. Popple to meet both demands.

Page Number: 118
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 16 Quotes

Her colour rose again, and she looked him quickly and consciously in the eye. It was time to play her last card. “You seem to forget that I am—married,” she said.

Van Degen was silent—for a moment she thought he was swaying to her in the flush of surrender. But he remained doggedly seated, meeting her look with an odd clearing of his heated gaze, as if a shrewd businessman had suddenly replaced the pining gentleman at the window.

“Hang it—so am I!” he rejoined; and Undine saw that in the last issue he was still the stronger of the two.

Related Characters: Undine Spragg (speaker), Peter Van Degen (speaker), Ralph Marvell, Clare Van Degen
Page Number: 142
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 18 Quotes

Moffatt’s social gifts were hardly of a kind to please the two ladies: he would have shone more brightly in Peter Van Degen’s set than in his wife’s. But neither Clare nor Mrs. Fairford had expected a man of conventional cut, and Moffatt’s loud easiness was obviously less disturbing to them than to their hostess. Undine felt only his crudeness, and the tacit criticism passed on it by the mere presence of such men as her husband and Bowen; but Mrs. Fairford seemed to enjoy provoking him to fresh excesses of slang and hyperbole.

Related Symbols: Apex
Page Number: 153
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 20 Quotes

Some six weeks later. Undine Marvell stood at the window smiling down on her recovered Paris.

Page Number: 171
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 22 Quotes

“Do you mean to tell me that Undine’s divorcing me?”

“I presume that’s her plan,” Mr. Spragg admitted.

“For desertion?” Ralph pursued, still laughing.

His father-in-law hesitated a moment; then he answered: “You’ve always done all you could for my daughter. There wasn’t any other plea she could think of. She presumed this would be the most agreeable to your family.”

Related Characters: Ralph Marvell (speaker), Mr. Abner E. Spragg (speaker), Undine Spragg
Page Number: 204
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 24 Quotes

“If you’d only had the sense to come straight to me, Undine Spragg!

There isn’t a tip I couldn’t have given you—not one!”

Related Symbols: Apex
Page Number: 210
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 26 Quotes

Undine, without answering, caught up the pearls and thrust them into

Mrs. Heeny’s hands.

“Good land alive!” The masseuse dropped into a chair and let the twist slip through her fat flexible fingers. “Well, you got a fortune right round your neck whenever you wear them, Undine Spragg.”

Undine murmured something indistinguishable. “I want you to take them—” she began.

Related Characters: Undine Spragg (speaker), Mrs. Heeny (speaker), Peter Van Degen
Page Number: 231
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 27 Quotes

The Princess and her mother, in their different ways, were different from any one else she had known. The Princess, who might have been of any age between twenty and forty, had a small triangular face with caressing impudent eyes, a smile like a silent whistle and the gait of a baker’s boy balancing his basket. She wore either baggy shabby clothes like a man’s, or rich draperies that looked as if they had been rained on; and she seemed equally at ease in either style of dress, and carelessly unconscious of both.

Page Number: 236
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 30 Quotes

“You couldn’t, up to now; but now you’re going to get married. You’re going to be able to give him a home and a father’s care—and the foreign languages. That’s what I’d say if I was you…His father takes considerable stock in him, don’t he?”

She coloured, a denial on her lips; but she could not shape it. “We’re both awfully fond of him, of course… His father’d never give him up!”

“Just so.” Moffatt’s face had grown as sharp as glass. “You’ve got the Marvells running. All you’ve got to do’s to sit tight and wait for their cheque.” He dropped back to his equestrian seat on the lyre-backed chair.

Related Characters: Elmer Moffatt (speaker), Undine Spragg (speaker), Paul Marvell , Ralph Marvell, Raymond de Chelles
Page Number: 255
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 33 Quotes

“But shall I tell you what I think, my dear? You and I are both completely out-of-date. I don’t believe Undine cares a straw for ‘the appearance of respectability.’ What she wants is the money for her annulment.”

Related Characters: Clare Van Degen (speaker), Ralph Marvell, Undine Spragg, Paul Marvell
Page Number: 273
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 35 Quotes

Within forty-eight hours Ralph’s money was in Moffatt’s hands, and the interval of suspense had begun.

The transaction over, he felt the deceptive buoyancy that follows on periods of painful indecision. It seemed to him that now at last life had freed him from all trammelling delusions, leaving him only the best thing in its gift—his boy.

Page Number: 278
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 36 Quotes

For a moment he was conscious of seeing it in every detail with a distinctness he had never before known; then everything in it vanished but the single narrow panel of a drawer under one of the bookcases. He went up to the drawer, knelt down and slipped his hand into it.

As he raised himself he listened again, and this time he distinctly heard the old servant’s steps on the stairs. He passed his left hand over the side of his head, and down the curve of the skull behind the ear. He said to himself: “My wife … this will make it all right for her….” and a last flash of irony twitched through him. Then he felt again, more deliberately, for the spot he wanted, and put the muzzle of his revolver against it.

Page Number: 290
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 38 Quotes

In a window of the long gallery of the chateau de Saint Desert the new Marquise de Chelles stood looking down the poplar avenue into the November rain. It had been raining heavily and persistently for a longer time than she could remember. Day after day the hills beyond the park had been curtained by motionless clouds, the gutters of the long steep roofs had gurgled with a perpetual overflow, the opaque surface of the moat been peppered by a continuous pelting of big drops.

Related Characters: Undine Spragg, Raymond de Chelles
Related Symbols: The Stentorian, Fifth Avenue
Page Number: 300
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 40 Quotes

“Sell it? Sell Saint Desert?”

The suggestion seemed to strike him as something monstrously, almost fiendishly significant: as if her random word had at last thrust into his hand the clue to their whole unhappy difference. Without understanding this, she guessed it from the change in his face: it was as if a deadly solvent had suddenly decomposed its familiar lines.

Related Characters: Raymond de Chelles (speaker), Undine Spragg, Peter Van Degen
Related Symbols: The Stentorian
Page Number: 323
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 41 Quotes

It was of no consequence that the details and the technicalities escaped her: she knew their meaningless syllables stood for success, and what that meant was as clear as day to her. Every Wall Street term had its equivalent in the language of Fifth Avenue, and while he talked of building up railways she was building up palaces, and picturing all the multiple lives he would lead in them. To have things had always seemed to her the first essential of existence, and as she listened to him the vision of the things he could have unrolled itself before her like the long triumph of an Asiatic conqueror.

Related Characters: Elmer Moffatt, Undine Spragg
Related Symbols: Apex, Fifth Avenue
Page Number: 329
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 44 Quotes

“Hullo!” he exclaimed, surprised; and as he stood aside to let her enter she saw him draw out his watch and glance at it surreptitiously. He was expecting someone, or he had an engagement elsewhere—something claimed him from which she was excluded. The thought flushed her with sudden resolution. She knew now what she had come for—to keep him from every one else, to keep him for herself alone.

“Don’t send me away!” she said, and laid her hand on his beseechingly.

Related Characters: Elmer Moffatt (speaker), Undine Spragg (speaker), Raymond de Chelles
Page Number: 347
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 46 Quotes

Even now, however, she was not always happy. She had everything she wanted, but she still felt, at times, that there were other things she might want if she knew about them.

Related Characters: Undine Spragg, Elmer Moffatt
Related Symbols: Fifth Avenue
Page Number: 362
Explanation and Analysis:

But under all the dazzle a tiny black cloud remained. She had learned that there was something she could never get, something that neither beauty nor influence nor millions could ever buy for her. She could never be an Ambassador’s wife; and as she advanced to welcome her first guests she said to herself that it was the one part she was really made for.

Related Characters: Undine Spragg, Elmer Moffatt
Page Number: 364
Explanation and Analysis:
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Undine Spragg Character Timeline in The Custom of the Country

The timeline below shows where the character Undine Spragg appears in The Custom of the Country. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
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Undine Spragg, who is staying at a luxurious hotel in New York called the Stentorian with... (full context)
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...that he’s “in it,” but that he is not quite “AS in it” as Ralph. Undine asks if this means the Marvells are fashionable, and Mrs. Heeny says yes, she’s already... (full context)
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In her letter, Laura Fairford invites Undine to a dinner party. Undine finds this strange because Laura has never even seen her,... (full context)
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Two years ago, Mrs. Spragg brought Undine to New York to enlarge her social circle, but so far, Undine has made little... (full context)
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Mr. Abner E. Spragg (Undine’s father) comes back to the Stentorian. Mrs. Spragg proudly tells her husband about the dinner... (full context)
Chapter 2
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Undine’s room at the Stentorian is white and gold, with a view of Central Park and... (full context)
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Undine then calls over her French maid, Celeste, to help her pick an outfit. Although she... (full context)
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As a child in Apex (a town in the Midwestern U.S.), Undine was never very interested in playing with other children; she preferred to dress in her... (full context)
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Undine comes out of her room just as Mrs. Heeny is about to take her leave... (full context)
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Since coming to New York, Undine has already gotten engaged once, to a handsome young Austrian. Shortly after promising herself to... (full context)
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Still in the past, Harry Lipscomb investigated Undine’s new Austrian fiancé and found that he fled Krakow to avoid criminal charges for scamming... (full context)
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After the Spraggs first arrived at the Stentorian, Mabel Lipscomb introduced Undine to the local society. While Undine was interested at first, she soon realized that Mabel’s... (full context)
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Back in the present at the Stentorian, Undine goes to her parents and finds Mr. Spragg sitting next to Mrs. Spragg with her... (full context)
Chapter 3
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Laura Fairford’s dinner disappoints Undine. Laura’s house isn’t very impressive, and the dinner itself isn’t anything exotic, just broiled meat.... (full context)
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Undine sits next to Ralph and finds him friendly but even more timid than the last... (full context)
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...note that Claud never fails to mention how much of a gentleman he is, and Undine realizes they are making fun of him. Clare is dismayed by this reaction and asks... (full context)
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The women go to the drawing room. While Undine appreciates how Laura Fairford doesn’t mention that Undine is new to New York, she gets... (full context)
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...she hopes he’ll go to dinner and an opera with her next Friday. At first, Undine thinks she might be invited too, but instead, Clare just asks her to stop by... (full context)
Chapter 4
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Undine returns to the Stentorian. The next morning at breakfast, she tells Mr. Spragg that he... (full context)
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By invoking Mabel Lipscomb and the idea of reciprocity, Undine starts to convince Mr. Spragg to get the tickets. Undine pleads that she only wants... (full context)
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Mrs. Spragg is indeed worried and greets Undine enthusiastically after her horse ride. Undine tells her mother she still wants an opera box.... (full context)
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Undine goes to the art gallery, but she’s more interested in looking at the people than... (full context)
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Back at the Stentorian, Undine is disappointed thinking that she’ll probably never see Peter again, and she’s also disappointed to... (full context)
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Undine reflects on the past and how she’s managed to get things out of her parents... (full context)
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Back in the present, Mr. Spragg comes into Undine’s room and lets her know that he has gotten her an opera box not just... (full context)
Chapter 5
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At the opera, Undine is thrilled to finally be on the same level as the people in the boxes.... (full context)
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Just then, Clare and Ralph arrive to take their box, seemingly alone. Mabel Lipscomb asks Undine if they should call over to greet Ralph, but Undine quickly says no. The opera... (full context)
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Just then, Ralph appears at the back of the box to see Undine. She is disappointed, however, that when he talks, he remains distant and formal. Eventually, he... (full context)
Chapter 6
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...nice girl, but he has resisted so far. He begins to reconsider, however, after meeting Undine. He used his earlier visit with Mrs. Spragg to learn more about Undine’s background. He... (full context)
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...not Van Degen. This is why he feels so confident in his current judgement that Undine must be special. (full context)
Chapter 7
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Two months later, Mrs. Heeny comes to visit Undine. She points out a Tiffany engagement ring that Undine is wearing and argues with Mrs.... (full context)
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While Undine is getting ready, Mabel Lipscomb comes by to see her. She says she can help... (full context)
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At the table, Undine feels like she must play the part of being in love with Ralph, even though... (full context)
Chapter 8
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...a little tense, but Laura Fairford tries to smooth things over by escorting Ralph and Undine over to the theater for a show. Laura brings with her an older, gray-haired gentleman... (full context)
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Undine feels that this evening is a way of making up for the earlier time at... (full context)
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When Undine gets back to her bedroom at the Stentorian that night, she is surprised to see... (full context)
Chapter 9
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The next afternoon, Undine goes out walking in Central Park in her plainest outfit. She is worried about accidentally... (full context)
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Undine says she was surprised to learn that Elmer was in town—Mr. Spragg didn’t tell her... (full context)
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Undine says she didn’t mean to avoid Elmer the previous night. She tells Elmer she’s engaged... (full context)
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Undine begs Elmer not to mention anything about their history together in Apex to anyone in... (full context)
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Undine heads back to the Stentorian, hoping for solitude, but Ralph is there waiting for her.... (full context)
Chapter 10
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...Mr. Spragg is shocked to learn how expensive New York weddings are, particularly now that Undine is moving the date up for hers. Mr. Dagonet has come to discuss the wedding... (full context)
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Mr. Spragg finds that supporting Undine and Ralph will cost him so much money that he recommends that Undine break off... (full context)
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...up with the money to support Ralph. Mrs. Spragg brings up an even bigger concern: Undine recently ran into Elmer. Mr. Spragg is alarmed but again promises to see what he... (full context)
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...wants to get out of Harmon B. Driscoll’s office. He promises not to interfere with Undine’s wedding if Mr. Spragg just shows up at the Driscoll office before 5 PM and... (full context)
Chapter 11
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It’s a sunny day in July, and Ralph and Undine are in Italy on their honeymoon—they’ve been traveling throughout Italy for four months. It has... (full context)
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Ralph and Undine ride back in a carriage, and Ralph realizes that Undine’s real problem isn’t the heat... (full context)
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That night, Undine’s silence makes Ralph nervous. He tells her he just saw something wonderful—a vision of a... (full context)
Chapter 12
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...oof Italy, but in busy St. Moritz, Switzerland, he finds that the vision eludes him. Undine, however, is much happier and seems to think better of Ralph. Undine’s lack of foreign... (full context)
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...annoyed to find a cavalry-officer they met in Siena, Italy at their hotel. One day, Undine goes out on an excursion with some members of her new social circle without inviting... (full context)
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As if to challenge Ralph, Undine only spends more time over the next few days with her new acquaintances from the... (full context)
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Undine asks Ralph if anyone in his family could help them out with money. Ralph is... (full context)
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...talk about Ralph’s honeymoon. Peter invites Ralph to a party, but Ralph says he and Undine must get sailing immediately (or else he’ll run out of money). Nevertheless, when he gets... (full context)
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The delay in leaving Paris causes Undine to look into buying jewels. Ralph tries to pin down a date to sail back... (full context)
Chapter 13
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...see a play on his own, Ralph gets back to the hotel, expecting to see Undine gone, but in fact, she is talking intimately with Peter at a tea table. They... (full context)
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After Peter leaves, Undine teases Ralph by saying she didn’t shop too long while he was out—in fact, she... (full context)
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Ralph starts to get angry with Undine. He says Peter has been manipulating her, but Undine says all he needs is a... (full context)
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...meeting, but at the end, Clare warns him not to let Peter take advantage of Undine. Ralph replies that Undine is good at defending herself, though inwardly, he’s not so sure... (full context)
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Back at his own hotel, Ralph finds Undine crying on the couch. He asks what’s wrong, but Undine says that anyone should be... (full context)
Chapter 14
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...very neat studio, but he tosses off paintings less neatly. Sometime long after Ralph and Undine’s honeymoon, Peter comes by to watch Claud painting Undine. Peter jokes around about the portrait,... (full context)
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At times, Undine wonders if her current marriage is as bad as some of the mistakes she made... (full context)
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...because of what he knows about crooked dealings in Apex. The mention of Elmer causes Undine to go pale. (full context)
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Peter asks why Undine is suddenly so white, but she says she’s just tired of posing.  Undine says she’ll... (full context)
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Peter says Undine will never get a cab on such a snowy night, so he offers to take... (full context)
Chapter 15
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Meanwhile at the Dagonet place, Laura Fairford is waiting for Undine to bring Paul but after the long delay figures Undine must have simply forgotten. She... (full context)
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...perhaps he’s missed the party, but then he finds the cake uncut and learns that Undine never brought Paul to his own birthday party. Ralph hears a horn outside and thinks... (full context)
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...Street, despite his mysterious origins. Clare recalls the night at the opera when they saw Undine talking to Elmer, so Ralph finds it odd that Undine never mentioned the man to... (full context)
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...paper until eight thirty, but then he starts to get impatient. He wonders what excuse Undine will use when she finally gets back. At last, she comes back. When Ralph confronts... (full context)
Chapter 16
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...were signs that he should’ve noticed long ago. He feels that he has avoided confronting Undine about Peter because he’s afraid of learning the truth. He suspects that Peter isn’t her... (full context)
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Undine, meanwhile, is surprised at how well Ralph took her missing Paul’s birthday. She still likes... (full context)
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The Driscoll ball is a lavish affair. Undine enjoys seeing everyone’s admiration, although she feels that perhaps Peter is admiring her a little... (full context)
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One day, Peter announces he’s sailing for Europe. He says maybe Undine can visit him in Paris at some point, but Undine says she probably won’t get... (full context)
Chapter 17
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Undine realizes it was a mistake to accept money from Peter. She wanted immediate gratification but... (full context)
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Mr. Spragg doesn’t believe Undine has a good reason to need to go to Europe, so she tells him she... (full context)
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Undine found the right way to upset Mr. Spragg. He says that Ralph barely works at... (full context)
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...Europe is that you always have to come back and face your problems again anyway. Undine disagrees—perhaps she could start a new life. She says if she had another chance, she’d... (full context)
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...Mr. Spragg on business. They go off together and close the door behind them, while Undine tries to think of what she’ll say to her father when he returns. Eventually Elmer... (full context)
Chapter 18
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Undine is standing outside her father’s office. She’s only ever failed to get her way with... (full context)
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Undine goes with Elmer to his office. At the office Elmer explains everything: He wants to... (full context)
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Undine invites Elmer to a dinner with Ralph, Laura Fairford, Clare, and Charles Bowen. Ralph is... (full context)
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Undine asks Ralph what he and Elmer discussed earlier when they were smoking. Ralph mentions a... (full context)
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The next morning, Undine is too weak to get out of bed. Her doctor explains to Ralph that she... (full context)
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...into Mr. Spragg. Mr. Spragg asks how Ralph knows Elmer, and Ralph mentions the dinner Undine hosted recently. Mr. Spragg asks if Undine is still set on going to Europe, and... (full context)
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Undine is pleased to hear about Europe but tries not to seem too happy about it.... (full context)
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...him make a fresh start and thinks he helped Ralph make a fresh start too. Undine is happy to hear it. She mentions her upcoming trip to Europe, which surprises Elmer.... (full context)
Chapter 19
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...de Chelles, and they discuss their thoughts about marriage. Just then, Raymond happens to notice Undine at a table with Peter and asks who she is. Charles Bowen explains who Undine... (full context)
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Charles Bowen supposes that Undine wants her privacy with Peter, so he’s surprised when Peter invites him and Raymond to... (full context)
Chapter 20
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Six weeks later, Undine stands at the window of her hotel looking down at Paris. She feels that her... (full context)
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Undine feels that the main factor making her enjoy Paris more is her new friendship with... (full context)
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One day, Peter confronts Undine about why she just suddenly disappeared for a couple days, and she tells him she... (full context)
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Peter begs Undine not to leave Europe just yet. His request moves Undine, but she resists Peter in... (full context)
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Peter asks why Undine has suddenly gone so pale. She just crumples the telegram up and says that Laura... (full context)
Chapter 21
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...of chaotic weather, and Ralph is exhausted. For a while, he received weekly letters from Undine in Europe, which he valued less for what they said and more for giving him... (full context)
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At first, Undine’s absence felt freeing to Ralph, but soon he realizes that even when she’s gone, he... (full context)
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...forbid him from having. Ralph finds it hard to talk with his in-laws, particularly once Undine stops writing and he runs out of news from her. (full context)
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...home, he finds a letter that was sent to him from Paris, apparently forwarded by Undine. He expects a bill, but in fact it’s an advertisement for a Parisian detective agency... (full context)
Chapter 22
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...He becomes ill and goes through life in a daze. People around him stop mentioning Undine. Laura Fairford stops by to help take care of Ralph. Eventually, in his illness, Ralph... (full context)
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...meet Mr. Spragg in his office. Ralph is shocked to learn from Mr. Spragg that Undine is back in the United States, somewhere in Dakota. Ralph slowly begins to understand that... (full context)
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...intends to make the divorce as difficult as he can. He asks Mr. Spragg if Undine expects Peter to marry her. Mr. Spragg says his daughter is currently alone and hasn’t... (full context)
Chapter 23
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...on the water. He doesn’t have anyone in his life that he can talk about Undine with—the whole thing will become a scandal, and the people in his life avoid scandals.... (full context)
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Ralph begins replacing photos of Undine around the house. He feels both angry and ashamed of himself about how things have... (full context)
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...see his own name in a newspaper someone else is reading. The article focuses on Undine, and the headline references a husband who is too absorbed in business to make his... (full context)
Chapter 24
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Still in Paris, Indiana Frusk (newly married to Representative James J. Rolliver) tells Undine that she should’ve come to her first for advice. It’s been a little less than... (full context)
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Undine explains that the real problem is Clare, who finds divorce “vulgar.” Indiana Frusk asks what... (full context)
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Indiana Frusk tells Undine it’s a shame about Peter but asks if there’s anyone else she could make use... (full context)
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Undine has not seen Raymond since coming back to Paris this time, preferring to leave any... (full context)
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Over the next few days, Indiana Frusk continues to be a big part of Undine’s life in Paris. One morning, Indiana tells her that she invited Peter to dinner but... (full context)
Chapter 25
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For the next few months, Undine feels like a failure. Paris in the winter is nowhere near as boisterous as the... (full context)
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Undine continues to mull over the events of the previous year, particularly her failed affair with... (full context)
Chapter 26
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Undine finally returns to New York. She goes to see her parents but regrets that Mr.... (full context)
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Undine tries to stay away from the Fifth Avenue crowd, but she can’t avoid hearing about... (full context)
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Undine goes with Mr. Spragg to the opera and sees many people she knows, including Clare.... (full context)
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One day, Undine abruptly hands her pearls to Mrs. Heeny and tells her to take them. Mrs. Heeny... (full context)
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Mr. Spragg at first resists Undine’s request that he come to Europe with her. Eventually, however, both he and Mrs. Spragg... (full context)
Chapter 27
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One day when Undine is moping about the state of her life in Paris, a young woman approaches her... (full context)
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Princess Estradina is separated from her husband but not yet officially divorced. Undine feels that the Princess and the Duchess understand her and are protecting her. But when... (full context)
Chapter 28
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Princess Estradina suggests to Undine one day that they should go to Nice. Undine is still worried that one of... (full context)
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Although it has been a long time since Undine has had any sort of contact with Elmer, she is annoyed to see that he... (full context)
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Although Raymond seems as infatuated with Undine as ever, she has learned to be cautious. He just happens to be in Nice... (full context)
Chapter 29
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In early spring, Undine is once more in Paris. She feels successful, having declared that she will only see... (full context)
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Marrying Raymond will be difficult for Undine, since the Catholic Church doesn’t recognize divorce, meaning that marrying a divorced woman can greatly... (full context)
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Undine thinks back to a letter she received recently from Mrs. Spragg, who is still missing... (full context)
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Undine gets to working thinking about annulment, but she is a little distracted as she notices... (full context)
Chapter 30
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A few days after discussing annulment with Raymond, Undine runs into Elmer again. While she wasn’t certain that Elmer noticed her last time, this... (full context)
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Undine invites Elmer back for tea. As they ride back, Undine seems to agree with Elmer... (full context)
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While Undine is genuinely disappointed that Elmer will be headed back, she says there’s something he can... (full context)
Chapter 31
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...where his book is at, but the next morning in the papers he learns that Undine intends to marry a French nobleman and is confident that the Pope will annul her... (full context)
Chapter 32
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As more days pass, Ralph begins to feel that Clare is right and that if Undine remarries, he really will begin to feel freer. He figures that even if Undine failed... (full context)
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...to be a legal letter concerning Paul’s custody, which the courts have solely awarded to Undine. Ralph feels this must be some mistake and that surely his own lawyers would have... (full context)
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...anything he can do, and the lawyer suggests that the only option is to prove Undine has some ulterior motive for wanting custody of Paul. (full context)
Chapter 33
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Over the course of Ralph’s visit, he manages to convince Mr. Spragg to talk with Undine’s lawyers to try to prevent them from taking away Paul. But Mrs. Spragg seems eager... (full context)
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...Clare to tell her all about his recent problems. He complains the cost of fighting Undine in court will be expensive. Clare suggests that instead of involving the courts, maybe he... (full context)
Chapter 34
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...how to raise enough money to buy back Paul—his lawyers confirm that Clare’s guess about Undine’s motivations is correct. Ralph is reluctant to allow Clare to help him financially, but she... (full context)
Chapter 35
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...he’s out, and when Elmer gets back, he’s evasive. Ralph then gets a letter from Undine’s lawyers reminding him of the deadline for their financial agreement. He goes to see Elmer... (full context)
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Ralph’s lawyers get an extension from Undine’s about the payment, but more time passes and still Elmer’s deal doesn’t go through. Finally,... (full context)
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...and why he can’t wait any longer for the money. Elmer understands and agrees that Undine won’t settle for any less than she’s asked for. In fact, he reveals that he... (full context)
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Elmer’s confession shocks Ralph. Elmer talks about how he promised to stay quiet so that Undine’s past wouldn’t offend Ralph’s family. Elmer explains that back in Apex, he and Undine eloped,... (full context)
Chapter 36
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...at the office but instead goes home in a daze. He thinks more about how Undine lied about Elmer to use him. Now, he realizes she’s been lying to him from... (full context)
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...and Ralph dreads having to get involved. He’s still worried about the money he owes Undine if he wants to keep Paul. He hears the servant coming back, so he bolts... (full context)
Chapter 37
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...the walls. Raymond encourages Paul to kiss his new grandmother, the Marquise de Chelles. As Undine watches, she’s happy to see that Paul is so adorable to everyone, although she’s a... (full context)
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One thing Undine likes about her new living situation is that Raymond is more willing to admit when... (full context)
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Meanwhile, Princess Estradina and the Duchess themselves turn against Undine, who they believe has caused the growing rift between them and Raymond’s family. The Chelles... (full context)
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Months ago, when Mrs. Heeny first arrived with Paul, she stayed for about two weeks. Undine enjoyed hearing New York gossip, while Mrs. Heeny enjoyed getting a peek at European aristocracy.... (full context)
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About three months after Ralph’s death, Undine got news from her lawyers that Marvell’s estate had received $100,000 from the Apex Consolidation... (full context)
Chapter 38
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It has been raining in Saint Desert for longer than Undine can remember as she looks out the window of a chateau at a park. One... (full context)
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At first, Undine thought it might be a good thing to see Raymond promoted in his family by... (full context)
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...some family land, and this requires him to be there in person. He will allow Undine to make a spring visit to Paris, but Undine hoped that instead, they might live... (full context)
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...issue with his brother, Hubert de Chelles, who has a reputation as the family troublemaker. Undine fears that Raymond will have to pay money to help Hubert and that it will... (full context)
Chapter 39
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In May, Undine finds herself back at the Hotel de Chelles, reluctant to have to share it with... (full context)
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As more time passes, Undine is surprised and disappointed to see that Raymond is not as different from Ralph as... (full context)
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While talking with some Paris friends, Undine gets the idea that perhaps she should have a child with Raymond, since not having... (full context)
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Undine is embarrassed that she can’t convince Raymond to have a child, since she’s used to... (full context)
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One day in September, when Undine is back at Saint Desert, Princess Estradina comes by. At first, Undine thinks that the... (full context)
Chapter 40
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After Princess Estradina leaves, Undine continues to idle away the long days at Saint Desert. She amuses herself by trying... (full context)
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Raymond stops commenting on Undine’s high expenses, which Undine takes as confirmation that Princess Estradina was right when she implied... (full context)
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Raymond and Undine each accuse the other of not understanding their needs. Undine suggests that Raymond should just... (full context)
Chapter 41
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Undine is shocked at how little influence she seems to have over Raymond. At one point,... (full context)
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At Saint Desert while Raymond is away on a trip, a visitor comes. Undine has been expecting him. The man inspects the tapestries in the house and then says... (full context)
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...the American collector is Elmer. He looks at a bust for a moment before recognizing Undine with a shock. Elmer looks the same as he always did, with the same ruddy... (full context)
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...at some tapestries, the dealer goes back to make his train, leaving Elmer alone with Undine. Elmer mentions that he just got dinner in Paris with some of Undine’s old friends,... (full context)
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Undine asks Elmer why he helped her in the past when she was trying to marry... (full context)
Chapter 42
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Undine finally gets her wishes, as Hubert de Chelles and his wife leave the Hotel de... (full context)
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Meanwhile, Raymond confronts Undine after he receives a letter from the dealer who came to Saint Desert. Undine confirms... (full context)
Chapter 43
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Undine watches Raymond leave, knowing that despite their recent argument, he’ll be courteous the next time... (full context)
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Undine fantasizes how, if given the opportunity, she could use up all the wealth even of... (full context)
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In Apex, Undine judged people’s worth based on how good they were at getting what they wanted. Despite... (full context)
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On the day of their walk in Apex, Elmer told Undine that he was down on his luck. Undine said that based on his behavior after... (full context)
Chapter 44
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Undine guessed correctly when she assumed that Raymond would go back to life as usual after... (full context)
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At the banquet, Undine sits next to Elmer, and people notice how cordially he greets her. Elmer seems to... (full context)
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...had to make an offer on the tapestries because he leaves France in a week. Undine is disappointed to hear this, but Elmer says even if he stayed in France, it’s... (full context)
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The next day, Elmer comes to visit Undine while she happens to be taking tea with her sisters-in-law. The women watch Elmer cautiously,... (full context)
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Undine knows what she wants once again, and she puts aside being cautious. She has given... (full context)
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One day, someone comes to the chateau with a bill for Undine. The Marquise de Chelles is there and seems to be judging Undine, but Undine tells... (full context)
Chapter 45
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Elmer’s hotel room contains many ostentatious signs of wealth, like Greek marble. Undine repeats that Elmer must not send her away, then says that things are going so... (full context)
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Undine asks Elmer if he ever misses her, and he says he does. She replies that... (full context)
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Elmer says he doesn’t want to just have an affair with Undine. He knows what it’s like to be an outcast from back when he lived in... (full context)
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Undine and Elmer seem to be at an impasse, with Elmer insisting that he’ll go back... (full context)
Chapter 46
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...old and has just got back from his fancy private school for the Easter holidays. Undine has married Elmer, and they’ve just returned from America, having been on many trips around... (full context)
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...Paul wanders around the big building alone. He remembers a conversation with Mrs. Heeny (whom Undine brought back from America) about how she has some newspaper clippings to show him sometime.... (full context)
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Paul asks Mrs. Heeny why Undine married Elmer. Mrs. Heeny says it was because Undine got divorced. She provides newspaper clippings... (full context)
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Meanwhile, Undine is preparing for her first big social event since her marriage, one with people she... (full context)
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Undine talks with Elmer about plans for their dinner that night. Elmer brings up a mutual... (full context)