Her voice held no contempt, only a great weariness. I felt a sudden rush of sympathetic liking for this woman, whom I had looked upon as an enemy.
“What can I get you, Mrs. Underwood?” I asked. “You look so worn out.”
“If Katie has not thrown out that coffee,” she returned practically, “let us warm it up.”
I felt a foolish little thrill of housewifely pride. A few minutes before her appearance I had gone into the kitchen and made fresh coffee, anticipating her return. Katie, of course, I had sent to bed after she had cleared the table and washed the silver. I had told her to pile the dishes for the morning.
“I have fresh coffee all ready,” I said. “I thought perhaps you might like a cup. Sit still, and I’ll bring it in.”
Harry Underwood sprang to his feet. “I’ll carry the tray for you.”
I thought I detected a little quiver of pain on Mrs. Underwood’s face. Her husband had expressed no concern for her, but was offering to carry my tray. Truly, the tables were turning. I had suffered because of the rumors I had heard concerning this woman’s regard for Dicky. Was I, not meaning it, to cause her annoyance?
“Indeed you will do no such thing,” I spoke playfully to hide my real indignation at the man. “Dicky is the only accredited waiter around this house.”
“Card from the waiters’ union right in my pocket,” Dicky grinned, and stretched lazily as he followed me to the kitchen.
We served the coffee, and Lillian and her husband went home. As the door closed behind them Dicky came over to me and took me in his arms.
“Pretty exciting evening, wasn’t it, sweetheart?” he said. “I’m afraid you are all done out.”
He drew me to our chair and we sat down together. I found myself crying, something I almost never do. Dicky smoothed my hair tenderly, silently, until I wiped my eyes. Then his clasp tightened around me.
“Tonight has taught me a lesson,” he said. “Sometimes I have dreamed of a little child of our own, Madge. But I would rather never have a child than go through the suffering those poor devils had tonight. It must be awful to lose a baby.”
I hid my face in his shoulder. Not even to my husband could I confess just then how the touch of the naked, rigid little body of that other woman’s child had sent a thrill of longing through me for a baby’s hands that should be mine.
THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN
“Well, we are in plenty of time.”
We were seated, Dicky and I, in the waiting room of the Long Island railroad a week after my dinner party that had almost ended in tragedy. Dicky had bought our tickets to Marvin, the little village which was to be the starting point of our country ramble, and we were putting in the time before our train was ready in gazing at the usual morning scene in a railroad station.