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The Widow’s Opera


Things went badly for the Beldens abroad. It was hot, the chief gardener had run off with a waitress, German tourists were back for the first time since the war and no one – quite tediously for poor Diane – could get over the audacity of it. Their son Paul, staying with relatives in Rhode Island, never wrote once, and the stock market was doing poorly. This kept Stanley in a state of constant anxiety that expressed itself in sundry unpleasant non-verbal ways. He did not sleep, for example, nor was he ever away from the phone for more than ten minutes. They would go out at night and, in his forgetfulness (or perhaps it was a side effect of the Benzedrine and black coffee on which he subsisted), he would wear a pair of cheap cufflinks. At last husband and wife quarreled. Mrs. Belden, in a huff, stormed off to the Italian Rivera.