Chapter 12 Summary
Ralph takes Undine to Switzerland. Although they are running out of money as he anxiously awaits the arrival of their monthly stipend from Undine’s father, Ralph is afraid to discuss money with his wife. Undine has a way of cutting him out, looking at him as if she does not know him, whenever he brings up their lack of money. He abhors the feeling that comes over him when she acts this way, so he is often afraid to bring up the subject. He believes Undine has been raised to think money is flexible—forever ready to stretch to her needs.
They learn, from a letter that Undine’s mother has sent, that Mr. Spragg has lost a great deal of money on a speculative investment. Rather than empathize with her father, Undine only feels sorry for herself. She asks Ralph to ask his grandfather or his mother for more money. Her father gives them more money than Ralph’s family does, Undine argues. When Ralph tells her that he cannot asks his family for more, Undine tells him to ask his sister. In the end, desperate to have more funds so they can make it back to New York, Ralph does request help from his sister. Laura’s response is generous.
Although they are forced to cut short their stay in Switzerland, Undine irritates Ralph further by making friends with some women who have good money but bad reputations. One day, Undine tells her husband that she is going out on a hike with these women. Included in the group are several young men. Undine does not invite Ralph to go along. Ralph feels somewhat thankful for the chance for some solitude, but he is too distracted thinking about Undine while she is gone that he does not accomplish anything in the time given to him. He had thought he would start the novel he recently felt inspired to write but his mind is too restless. Writing a novel, he had thought, might be a way to make some money so he could give Undine everything she wanted.
When they finally arrive in Paris, Ralph thinks they will book passage immediately to return to New York. However, Undine insists that she is too tired to make that long voyage just yet. She begs for a little more time in Paris. Ralph again gives in, but he notices that Undine’s energy is quickly renewed as soon as she hears his consent. She spends most of the next days shopping. She rationalizes that she will save a lot of money by having her dresses made in Paris rather than buying them in New York. Unfortunately, the longer they stay in Paris, the less money they have to buy tickets for their return trip to the States.