“Is there any danger of her face being scarred?” he asked worriedly.
“Not while I’m on the job,” Lillian returned decisively, and there was no idle boasting in her statement, simply quiet certainty.
But there was another note in her voice, or so it seemed to my feverish imagination, a note of scorn for Dicky, that he should be thinking of my possible disfigurement when my very life had been in question but a moment before.
A sick terror crept over me. Did my husband love me only for what poor claims to pulchritude I possessed? Suppose the physician should be mistaken, and I be hideously scarred, after all, as I had seen fire victims scarred, would I see the love light die in his eyes, would I never again witness the admiring glances Dicky was wont to flash at me when I wore something especially becoming?
I had often wondered since my marriage whether Dicky’s love for me was the real lasting devotion which could stand adversity. I knew that no matter how old or gray or maimed or disfigured Dicky might become he would be still my royal lover. I should never see the changes in him. But if I should suddenly turn an ugly scarred face to Dicky would he shrink from me?
An epigram from one of the sanest and cleverest of our modern humorists flashed into my mind. Dicky and I had read it together only a few weeks before.
“Heaven help you, madam, if your husband does not love you because of your foibles instead of in spite of them.”
Did all women have this experience I wondered, and then as Lillian’s face bent over me I caught my breath in an understanding wave of pity for her.
This was what she was undergoing, this experience of seeing her husband turn away his eyes from her, as if the very sight of her was painful to him.
Dicky would never do that, I knew. He had not the capacity for cruelty which Harry Underwood possessed. But I was sure it would torture me more to know that he was disguising his aversion than to see him openly express it.
HARRY CALLS TO SAY GOOD-BY
Lillian Underwood kept her promise to Dicky that I should suffer no scar as the result of the burns I received when my dress caught fire on the night of my dinner.
Never patient had a more faithful nurse than Lillian. She had a cot placed in my room where she slept at night, and she rarely left my side.
I found my invalidism very pleasant in spite of the pain and inconvenience of my burns. Everyone was devoted to my comfort. Even Mother Graham’s acerbity was softened by the suffering I underwent in the first day or two following the accident, although I soon discovered that she was actually jealous because Lillian and not she was nursing me.
“It is the first time in my life that I have ever found my judgment in nursing set aside as of no value,” she said querulously to me one day when she was sitting with me while Lillian attended to the preparation of some special dish for me in the kitchen.