The embarrassed flush had disappeared by this time. She was talking in as cool and matter-of-fact manner as if she had been discussing the defection of a cook.
My first emotion was resentment against my husband.
Why, I asked myself passionately, had Dicky insisted upon my friendship with these people? Suppose they were his most intimate friends? I was his wife, and I had nothing whatever in common with them. Knowing them as well as he did, he must have known Harry Underwood’s propensities. He must also have known the gossip that connected his own name with Lillian’s. He should have guarded me from any contact with them. I felt my anger fuse to a white heat against both my husband and Lillian.
An ugly suspicion crossed my mind. Lillian Gale’s absolute calmness in the face of her husband’s wayward affections was unique in my experience of women. Was the secret of her indifference, a lack of interest in her own husband or an excess of interest in mine? Did she hope perhaps to gain ground with Dicky with the development of this situation? Was her warning to me only part of a cunningly constructed plan, whereby she would stimulate my interest in Harry Underwood?
I was ashamed of my thoughts even as they came to me. Lillian Gale seemed too big a woman, too frank and honest of countenance for such a subterfuge. But I could not help feeling all my old distrust and dislike of the woman rush over me. I had a struggle to keep my voice from being tinged with the dislike I felt as I answered her:
“I am sure you must be mistaken, Mrs. Underwood. Such a possibility as that would be unspeakably annoying We will not consider it.”
“I think you will find you will have to consider it,” she returned brusquely, with a curious glance at me “But we do not need to spoil our afternoon discussing it.”
A TRAGEDY AVERTED
It was well after 7 o’clock when the ringing of the door bell told me that the Lesters had come. Dicky welcomed them and introduced me to them. Mrs. Lester was a pretty creature, birdlike, in her small daintiness, and a certain chirpy brightness. I judged that her mentality equalled the calibre of a sparrow, but I admitted also that the fact did not detract from her attractiveness. She was the sort of woman to be protected, to be cherished.
“I’m afraid I shall be very dull tonight. I am so worried about leaving the baby. She’s only six months old, you know, and, I have had my mother with me ever since she was born until two weeks ago, so I have never left her with a maid before. This girl we have appears very competent, says she is used to babies, but I just can’t help being as nervous as a cat.”
“Are you still worrying about that baby?” Mrs. Underwood’s loud voice sounded behind us. “Now, look here, Daisy, have a little common sense. You have had that maid over a year; she has been with your mother and you since the baby was born; there’s a telephone at her elbow, and you are only five blocks away from home. Wasn’t the child well when you left?”