And yet—Dicky was my husband. I had sworn to love and honor him. I knew that he felt sincerely, however wrongly, that my acceptance of Jack’s gift would be a direct slap at him. I felt as if my heart were being torn in two, with my desire to do justice both to the living and the dead. It was not until nearly daylight that the solution of my problem came to me. Then I fell asleep, exhausted, and did not awaken until Dicky came into the room, dressed for the journey which he took daily to the city.
“I wouldn’t disturb you, sweetheart,” he said, “only it’s time for me to go in to the studio, and I did not want to leave you without knowing how you are.”
“Oh, have I slept so late?” I returned, contritely, springing up in bed.
Dicky put me back with a firm hand.
“Lie still,” he commanded, gently. “Katie will bring you up some breakfast shortly, and there is no need of your getting up for hours.”
He bent down to kiss me good-by. There was a restraint in both his voice and his caress that told me he was still thinking of the conversation of the night before. I put my arms about his neck and drew his face down to mine.
“Sweetheart,” I whispered, “I want to tell you what I’ve decided about Jack’s property.”
“Not now,” Dicky interrupted hurriedly.
“Yes, now,” I returned decidedly. “I am going to accept it”—I gripped his hands firmly as I felt them drawing away from mine, “but I am not going to use any of it for myself. I will see that it all goes to the orphaned kiddies of the soldiers with whom Jack fought.”
Dicky started, looked at me a bit wildly, then stooped, and, gathering me to him convulsively, pressed a long, tender kiss upon my lips.
“My own girl!” he murmured. “I shall not forget that you have done this for me!”
“What’s the big idea?”
Dicky looked up from the breakfast table with a mildly astonished air as I came hurriedly into the room dressed for the street, wearing my hat, and carrying my coat over my arm.
“I’m going into town with you,” I returned quietly.
“Shopping, I suppose.” The words sounded idle enough, but I, who knew Dicky so well, recognized the note of watchfulness in the query.
“I shall probably go into some of the shops before I return,” I said carelessly, “but the real reason of my going into the city is Mrs. Stewart. I should have gone to see her yesterday.”
Dicky frowned involuntarily, but his face cleared again in an instant. It was the second day after he had brought me the terrible news that Jack Bickett, my brother-cousin, was reported killed “somewhere in France.” I knew that Dicky, in his heart, did not wish me to go to see Mrs. Stewart, but I also knew that he was ashamed to give voice to his reluctance.