The Precipice

Ivan Goncharov
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The Precipice

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Peattie This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and
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Title: The Precipice
Author: Elia Wilkinson Peattie
Release Date: April 27, 2004 [EBook #12177]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

Produced by Charles Aldarondo, Charlie Kirschner and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team.

A Novel BY

The Riverside Press Cambridge

_A fanfare of trumpets is blowing to which women the world over are
listening. They listen even against their wills, and not all of them
answer, though all are disturbed. Shut their ears to it as they will, they
cannot wholly keep out the clamor of those trumpets, but whether in
thrall to love or to religion, to custom or to old ideals of
self-obliterating duty, they are stirred. They move in their sleep, or
spring to action, and they present to the world a new problem, a new
force--or a new menace_....


It was all over. Kate Barrington had her degree and her graduating
honors; the banquets and breakfasts, the little intimate farewell
gatherings, and the stirring convocation were through with. So now she
was going home.
With such reluctance had the Chicago spring drawn to a close that,
even in June, the campus looked poorly equipped for summer, and it
was a pleasure, as she told her friend Lena Vroom, who had come with
her to the station to see her off, to think how much further everything
would be advanced "down-state."

"To-morrow morning, the first thing," she declared, "I shall go in the
side entry and take down the garden shears and cut the roses to put in
the Dresden vases on the marble mantelshelf in the front room."
"Don't try to make me think you're domestic," said Miss Vroom with
unwonted raillery.
"Domestic, do you call it?" cried Kate. "It isn't being domestic; it's
turning in to make up to lady mother for the four years she's been
deprived of my society. You may not believe it, but that's been a
hardship for her. I say, Lena, you'll be coming to see me one of these
Miss Vroom shook her head.
"I haven't much feeling for a vacation," she said. "I don't seem to fit in
anywhere except here at the University."
"I've no patience with you," cried Kate. "Why you should hang around
here doing graduate work year after year passes my understanding. I
declare I believe you stay here because it's cheap and passes the time;
but really, you know, it's a makeshift."
"It's all very well to talk, Kate, when you have a home waiting for you.
You're the kind that always has a place. If it wasn't your father's house
it would be some other man's--Ray McCrea's, for example. As for me,
I'm lucky to have acquired even a habit--and that's what college is with
me--since I've no home."
Kate Barrington turned understanding and compassionate eyes upon
her friend. She had seen her growing a little thinner and more tense
everyday; had seen her putting on spectacles, and fighting anaemia with
tonics, and yielding unresistingly to shabbiness. Would she always be
speeding breathlessly from one classroom to another, palpitantly yet
sadly seeking for the knowledge with which she knew so little what to
The train came thundering in--they were waiting for it at one of the

suburban stations--and there was only a second in which to say
good-bye. Lena, however, failed to say even that much. She pecked at
Kate's cheek with her nervous, thin lips, and Kate could only guess how
much anguish was concealed beneath this aridity of manner. Some
sense of it made Kate fling her arms about the girl and hold her in a
warm embrace.
"Oh, Lena," she cried, "I'll never forget you--never!"
Lena did not stop to watch the train pull out. She marched away on her
heelless shoes, her eyes downcast, and Kate, straining her eyes after her
friend, smiled to think there had been only Lena to speed her drearily
on her way. Ray McCrea had, of course, taken it for granted that he
would be informed of the hour of her departure, but if she had allowed
him to come she might have committed herself in some absurd
way--said something she could not have lived up to.
* * * * *
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