Q:

What is a summary of "The Other Two" by Edith Wharton?

A:

The Edith Wharton short story "The Other Two" opens with newlyweds Waythorn and Alice returning early from their honeymoon to tend to Alice's sickly daughter, Lily. This marriage is Waythorn's first and Alice's third. Over the course of the story, Alice's ex-husbands, Haskett and Varick, incorporate themselves into Waythorn's and Alice's social circle. The story closes with Alice having tea with both of her ex-husbands and her present husband.

At the beginning of the story, Haskett, Alice's first husband and Lily's father, asks to visit Mr. and Mrs. Waythorn's home on a weekly basis in order to see his daughter. Although Waythorn is initially uncomfortable with this arrangement, he grants Haskett the right to visit Lily. When he returns to work after his honeymoon, Waythorn meets Varick, Alice's second husband. Waythorn, in spite of his initial biases, becomes quite fond of both Haskett and Varick. Meanwhile, Waythorn's relationship with Alice becomes strained. Waythorn feels like he is just one part, albeit the most important part, of a plan being prepared by Alice's past husbands. In the story's final scene, Waythorn is smoking cigars with the "Other Two" when Alice enters to share tea. She is caught off guard by the sight of all of her husbands together. Alice composes herself, and she serves tea to Waythorn first.


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