I did not like the thought of leaving the women who had thus honored me, but, on the other hand, if Dicky and I were to come to the parting of the ways, I could not refuse this rare chance to get back into the work I had left for his sake.
I decided to be guided by his attitude. If he were opposed to my course, I would know that my actions had ceased to be resentful to him, and I would accept the position. But if he showed willingness at the proposition—
I did not have long to wait. As I lifted my eyes to his face, when I had finished reading the letter I saw the old familiar black frown on his face. I never had thought that my heart would leap with joy at the sight of Dicky’s frown, but it did. Before either of us could say anything, his mother spoke:
“Isn’t it splendid? You are a most fortunate woman, Margaret, to be able to step back into a position like that. If it had come earlier, when my health was so poor, you could not have taken it. Now you can accept it, for I am perfectly able to run the house. You, of course, will write your acceptance at once.”
She paused. I knew she expected me to reply. But I closed my lips firmly. Dicky should be the one to decide this. He did it with thoroughness.
“I thought we settled all this rot last spring,” he said. “Mother, I don’t want to be disrespectful, but this is my business and Madge’s, not yours. You will refuse, of course, Madge.”
He turned to me in the old imperious manner. Months before I should have resented it. Now I revelled in it. Dicky cared enough about me, whether from pride or love, to resent my going back to my work.
“If you wish it, Dicky,” I said quietly. He turned a grateful look at me. Then his mother’s voice sounded imperiously in our ears.
“I think you have said quite enough, Richard,” she said, with icy dignity. “Will you kindly telegraph Elizabeth that I shall start for home tomorrow? I certainly shall not stay in a house where I am flouted as I have been this morning.”
PLAYING THE GAME
The big house seemed very lonely to me after my mother-in-law’s abrupt departure. I had not dreamed that I could possibly miss the older woman’s companionship, especially after her hateful behavior concerning my refusal of the school position.
But when she had left, in dignified dudgeon, for a visit with her daughter, Elizabeth, I realized that I had come to like her, to depend upon her companionship more than I had thought possible. If the country had not been so beautiful I would have proposed going back to the city. But the tall hedges inclosing the old place were so fresh and green, the rolling woodland view from my chamber window so restful, my beds of dahlias, cosmos, marigolds and nasturtiums so brilliant that I could not bring myself to leave it.