“I cannot begin to tell you how delighted I was when we recognized each other. You can imagine over here that to one American the meeting with another American, especially if both have the same friends, is an event. Luckily, Miss Sonnot was just about to have an afternoon off when we met, and if she had an engagement—which she denied—she was kind enough to break it for me. I need not tell you that I spent the most delightful afternoon I have had since coming over here.
“You can be sure that I at once exerted all the influence I had through my friend, Caillard, and his friend in the hospital to secure as much free time for Miss Sonnot as possible for the time I was to be on furlough. It is like getting home after being away so long to talk to this brave, sensible, beautiful young girl—for she deserves all of the adjectives.”
In the two letters which were the last ones numbered by Mrs. Stewart, Jack spoke again and again of the little nurse. Almost the last line of his last letter, written after he returned to the front, spoke of her.
“Little Miss Sonnot and I correspond,” he wrote, “and you can have no idea how much good her letters do me. They are like fresh, sweet breezes glowing through the miasma of life in the trenches.”
I folded the letters, put them back into their envelopes, and arranged them as Mrs. Stewart had given them to me. When she came back into the room she found me still holding them and staring into the fire.
“Did you read them all?” she asked.
“Yes,” I replied.
“Don’t you think those last ones sounded as if he were really getting interested in that little nurse?” she demanded.
There was a peculiar intonation in her voice which told me that in her own queer little way she was trying to punish me for my failure to come to see her oftener with inquiries about Jack. She evidently thought that my vanity would be piqued at the thought of Jack becoming interested in any other woman after his life-long devotion to me.
But I flatter myself that my voice was absolutely non-committal as I answered her.
“Yes, I do,” I agreed, “and what a tragedy it seems that he should be snatched away from the prospect of happiness.”
The words were sincere. I was sure.
A CHANGE IN LILLIAN UNDERWOOD
“Well, children, have you made any plans for Dicky’s birthday yet?”
I nearly fell off my chair in astonishment at the friendliness in my mother-in-law’s tones. She had been sulky ever since we had come home from our autumn outing in the Catskills, a sulkiness caused by her resentment of what she chose to consider the indiscreet interest taken in me by Robert Gordon, the mysterious millionaire whom I had discovered to be an old friend of my parents. I shrewdly suspected, however, that her continued resentment was more because Dicky chose to take my part in the matter against her, than because of any real feeling toward Mr. Gordon.