“He is going too far in this thing,” she went on. “I cannot counsel you. Each woman has to solve these problems for herself. But it may help you to know that I went through all this before you were born.”
She turned swiftly and went up to her room again.
Dicky’s father! She must mean her life with him! In a sudden, swift, pitying gleam of comprehension, I saw why my mother-in-law was so crabbed and disagreeable. Life had embittered her. I wondered miserably if my life with her son would leave similar marks upon my own soul.
A SUMMER OF HAPPINESS THAT ENDS IN FEAR
I do not believe I shall ever know greater happiness than was mine in the weeks following Grace Draper’s first visit to our Marvin home. Many times I looked back to that night when I had lain sobbing on my bed, fighting the demon of jealousy and gasped in amazement at my own folly.
That evening had ended in Dicky’s arms on our moonlight veranda, and ever since he had been the royal lover of the honeymoon days, which had preceded our first quarrel. I wondered vaguely sometimes if he had guessed the wild grief and jealousy which had consumed me on that night, but if he had any inkling of it he made no sign.
Grace Draper had gone out of our lives temporarily.
If I had needed reassurance as to Dicky’s real feeling for her, the manner in which he told me the news of her going would have given it to me.
“Blast the luck,” he growled one evening, after reading a manuscript which he had been commissioned to illustrate. “Here’s something I’ll need Draper for, and she’s 200 miles away. I ought to have known better than to let her go.”
The tone and words were exactly what he would have used if the girl had been a man or boy in his employ. Even in my surprise at his news, I recognized this, and my heart leaped exultantly. I was careful, however, to keep my voice nonchalant.
“Why, has Miss Draper gone away?” I asked.
“Oh, that’s so, I didn’t tell you,” he returned carelessly, looking up from the manuscript. “Yes, she went away two days ago. She has a grandmother, or aunt, or old party of some kind, down in Pennsylvania, who is sick and has sent for her. Guess the old girl has scads of coin tucked away somewhere, and Draper thinks she’d better be around when the aged relative passes in her checks. Bet a cooky she won’t die at that, but if she’s going to, I wish she’d hurry up about it. I need Draper badly, and she won’t be back until the old girl either croaks or gets better.”
Under other circumstances, the callousness of this speech, the coarseness of some of the expressions, the calling of Miss Draper by her surname, would have grated upon me. But I was too rejoiced both at the girl’s departure and the matter of fact way in which Dicky took it to be captious about the language in which he couched the news of her going.