“What does this mean?”
The last words of Jack’s letter danced before my eyes, Dicky’s hand was shaking so.
“Till I see you, dear. Always Jack.”
Dicky’s face was not a pleasant sight. It repulsed and disgusted me. Subconsciously I was contrasting the way in which he calmly expected me to accept his friendship for Lillian Gale, and his behavior over this letter. Five minutes earlier I would have explained to him fully. I resolved now to put my friendship for Jack upon the same basis as his for Mrs. Underwood.
So I looked at him coolly. “Have you read the letter?” I asked quietly.
“You know I have not read the letter.” he snarled. “It lay on the papers. I could not help but see this—this—whatever it is,” he finished lamely, “and I have come straight to you for an explanation.”
“Better read the letter,” I advised quietly. “I give you full permission.”
I could have laughed at Dicky, if I had been less angry. He was so like an angry, curious child in his eagerness to know everything about Jack.
“You have no brother. Is this man a relative?”
“No,” I returned demurely.
“An old lover then, I suppose a confident one, I should judge by the tone of the letter. Won’t it be too cruel a blow to him when he finds his dear little girl is married?”
Dicky’s tone fairly dripped with irony. “He will be surprised certainly,” I answered, “but as he never was my lover, I don’t think it will be any blow to him.”
“Who is he, anyway? Why have you never told me about him? What does he look like?”
Dicky fairly shot the questions at me. I turned and went into my room. There I rummaged in a box of old photographs until I found two fairly good likenesses of Jack. I carried them to the kitchen and put them in Dicky’s hands. He glared at them, then threw them on the table.
“Humph! Looks like a gorilla with the mumps,” he growled. “Who is this precious party, then, if he is not a lover or a relative?”
“He is an old and dear friend. His friendship means as much to me as—well—say Lillian Gale’s means to you.”
Dicky stared at me a long, long look as if he had just discovered me. Then he turned on his heel.
“Well, I’ll be—” I did not find out what he would be, for he went out and slammed the door.
I sat down to a humiliating half-hour’s thought. It isn’t a bad idea at times to “loaf and invite your soul,” and then cast up account with it. My account looked pretty discouraging.
Dicky and I had been married a little over two weeks. Two weeks of idiotically happy honeymooning, and then the last three days of quarrels, reconciliations, jealousies, petty bickerings and the shadow of real issues between us.
Was this marriage—heights of happiness, depths of despair, with the humdrum of petty differences between?