“Hello, Mother!” he said. “Did the old boy kidnap you?”
Mrs. Wayne came up slowly, stumbling over her long, blue draperies in her weariness and depression.
“Oh, Pete, my darling,” she said, “I think I’ve spoiled everything.”
His heart stood still. He knew better than most people that his mother could either make or mar.
“They won’t hear of it?”
She nodded distractedly.
“I do make such a mess of things sometimes!”
He put his arm about her.
“So you do, Mother,” he said; “but then think how magnificently you sometimes pull them out again.”
Mr. Lanley had not reported the result of his interview immediately. He told himself that it was too late; but it was only a quarter before eleven when he was back safe in his own library, feeling somehow not so safe as usual. He felt attacked, insulted; and yet he also felt vivified and encouraged. He felt as he might have felt if some one, unbidden, had cut a vista on the Lanley estates, first outraged in his sense of property, but afterward delighted with the widened view and the fresher breeze. It was awkward, though, that he didn’t want Adelaide to go into details as to his visit; he did not think that the expedition to the pier could be given the judicial, grandfatherly tone that he wanted to give. So he did not communicate at all with his daughter that night.
The next morning about nine, however, when she was sitting up in bed, with her tray on her knees, and on her feet a white satin coverlet sown as thickly with bright little flowers as the Milky Way with stars, her last words to Vincent, who was standing by the fire, with his newspaper folded in his hands, ready to go down-town, were interrupted, as they nearly always were, by the burr of the telephone.
She took it up from the table by her bed, and as she did so she fixed her eyes on her husband and looked steadily at him all the time that central was making the connection; she was trying to answer that unsolved problem as to whether or not a mist hung between them. Then she got her connection.
“Yes, Papa; it is Adelaide.” “Yes?” “Did she appear like a lady?” “A lady?” “You don’t know what I mean by that? Why, Papa!” “Well, did she appear respectable?” “How cross you are to me!” “I’m glad to hear it. You did not sound cheerful.”
She hung up the receiver and turned to Vincent, making eyes of surprise.
“Really, papa is too strange. Why should he be cross to me because he has had an unsatisfactory interview with the Wayne boy’s mother? I never wanted him to go, anyhow, Vin. I wanted to send you.”
“It would probably be better for you to go yourself.”