So he reflected with humor and affection, watching Katie beat the tattoo on the window.
Thought of what some one had said of her as the army girl suggested something that changed his mood, bringing him suddenly to his feet. “Katie,” he demanded, “how much did you ever talk to this fellow? You don’t think, do you, that he was trying to get you for his ’army girl’—or some such rot? If I thought that—You don’t think, do you, Katie, that that was what he was trying to work you for?”
Katie suddenly raised her hands and pushed back her hair, for the minute covering her eyes. “No, Wayne,” she said, “I don’t think that was what he was trying to ‘work me’ for.”
And unable to bear more, she told him that she was very tired and asked him to go.
Katie Jones was very gay that winter. She made her home at her uncle’s, near Washington, though most of the time she was in Washington itself, with various cousins and friends; there were always people wanting Katie, especially that winter, when she had such unfailing zest for gayety.
They wondered that she should not be more broken up at her brother’s absurd move in quitting the army—just at the time the army offered him so much. She seemed to take it very easily; though Katie was not one to take things hard, too light of spirit for that. And they wondered about his marriage to a girl whom nobody but Katie knew anything about. Katie seemed devoted to her and happy in the marriage.
“Why, naturally I am pleased,” she said to a group of army people who were inquiring about Wayne’s bride. “She is my best friend. The girl I care most about.”
Major Darrett was one of the group. Some one turned to him and asked if he had met her when she visited Katie at the Arsenal the summer before. He replied that he had had that pleasure and that she was indeed beautiful and very charming.
Katie hated him the more for having to be grateful to him.
She knew that he was sorry for her and grew more and more gay. She could not talk of it, so was left to disclaim tragedy in frivolity. It was royally disclaimed.
There were a few serious talks with older army men, men who had known her father and who were outraged at Wayne’s leaving the army when he was worth so much to it and it to him. In her efforts to make them see, she was forced to remember what the man who mended the boats said of their lack of hospitality. They were unable to entertain the idea of there being any reason for a man’s leaving the army when he was being as well treated in it as Wayne was. Katie’s explanations only led them to shake their heads and say: “Poor Wayne.”
It was impossible to bury certain things in her, for those were the things she must use in defending Wayne. And in defending him, especially to her uncle, she was forced to know how far those things were from being decently prepared for burial. She was never more gay than after one of her defenses of her brother.