“I should think,” she said, “I should think Lulie might have had a little more gratitude to her than this.”
On their way to church Ina and Dwight encountered Di, who had left the house some time earlier, stepping sedately to church in company with Bobby Larkin. Di was in white, and her face was the face of an angel, so young, so questioning, so utterly devoid of her sophistication.
“That child,” said Ina, “must not see so much of that Larkin boy. She’s just a little, little girl.”
“Of course she mustn’t,” said Dwight sharply, “and if I was her mother—”
“Oh stop that!” said Ina, sotto voce, at the church steps.
To every one with whom they spoke in the aisle after church, Ina announced their news: Had they heard? Lulu married Dwight’s brother Ninian in the city yesterday. Oh, sudden, yes! And ro_man_tic ... spoken with that upward inflection to which Ina was a prey.
Mrs. Bett had been having a “tantrim,” brought on by nothing definable. Abruptly as she and Ina were getting supper, Mrs. Bett had fallen silent, had in fact refused to reply when addressed. When all was ready and Dwight was entering, hair wetly brushed, she had withdrawn from the room and closed her bedroom door until it echoed.
“She’s got one again,” said Ina, grieving; “Dwight, you go.”
He went, showing no sign of annoyance, and stood outside his mother-in-law’s door and knocked.
“Mother, come and have some supper.”
“Looks to me like your muffins was just about the best ever.”
“Come on—I had something funny to tell you and Ina.”
He retreated, knowing nothing of the admirable control exercised by this woman for her own passionate satisfaction in sliding him away unsatisfied. He showed nothing but anxious concern, touched with regret, at his failure. Ina, too, returned from that door discomfited. Dwight made a gallant effort to retrieve the fallen fortunes of their evening meal, and turned upon Di, who had just entered, and with exceeding facetiousness inquired how Bobby was.
Di looked hunted. She could never tell whether her parents were going to tease her about Bobby, or rebuke her for being seen with him. It depended on mood, and this mood Di had not the experience to gauge. She now groped for some neutral fact, and mentioned that he was going to take her and Jenny for ice cream that night.
Ina’s irritation found just expression in office of motherhood.
“I won’t have you downtown in the evening,” she said.
“But you let me go last night.”
“All the better reason why you should not go to-night.”
“I tell you,” cried Dwight. “Why not all walk down? Why not all have ice cream....” He was all gentleness and propitiation, the reconciling element in his home.