26 pages 52 minutes read

Edith Wharton

The Other Two

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1904

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The Home

At home, Waythorn feels safe, protected by the warm soothing space of his own walls, buffeted from the urban chaos that shoves strangers together indiscriminately. When he sees Varick on the train, they are literally shoved together, to which Varick exclaims to Waythorn: “I was beginning to feel like a pressed flower” (Part 2). It is a relief for Waythorn to come home and be surrounded by his possessions. The story opens with him lounging by his drawing-room hearth, waiting for his wife and his meal, simultaneously.

But the privacy, power, and intimacy that Waythorn delights in inside of these wealthy spaces full of luxurious objects is abruptly denied when he realizes that his wife’s ex-husband Mr. Haskett will be visiting. Waythorn is immediately uneasy with his inability to stop this man’s access to his home. He wants to stay away from home as long as he can, but, ironically, he runs into his wife’s other ex-husband, Mr. Varick, in public—first on a train and then in a restaurant.

Waythorn finally meets Haskett, discovering him in his library. He is deeply unnerved, especially as he is taken aback by Haskett’s appearance, which is nothing like what he expected.