She spoke wearily, contemptuously, as if a sudden disagreeable memory had come to her. She dropped her hands from his shoulders.
“Of course, I’ve no right to butt in like this,” she said, as if recalled to herself. “I beg pardon of both of you. Good-by,” and she dashed for the door.
But Dicky, with one of his quick changes from wrath to remorse, was before her.
“No you don’t, my dear,” he said, grasping her arm. “You know I couldn’t get angry with you no matter what you said. I owe you too much. I know I have a beast of a temper, but you know, too, I’m over it just as quickly. Look here.”
He flopped down on his knees in an exaggerated pose of humility, and put up his hands first to me and then to Lillian.
“See. I beg Madge’s pardon. I beg Lillian’s pardon, everybody’s pardon. Please don’t kick me when I’m down.”
Lillian’s face relaxed. She laughed indulgently.
“Oh, I’ll forgive you, but I imagine it will take more than that to make your peace with your wife! It would if you were my husband. ’Phone me about Sunday. Perhaps Mrs. Graham can come over after dinner and meet you there. Good-by.”
She hurried out to the door, this time without Dicky’s stopping her. Dicky came toward me.
“If I say I am very, very sorry, Madge?” he said, smiling apologetically at me.
“Of course it’s all right, Dicky,” I forced myself to say.
Curiously enough, after all, my resentment was more against Lillian than against Dicky. Probably she meant well, but how dared she talk to my husband as if he were her personal property, and what was it he “owed her” that made him take such a raking over at her hands?
LOST AND FOUND
It was, after all, a simple thing, this meeting with my cousin-brother that I had so dreaded. Save for the fact that he took both my hands in his, any observer of our meeting would have thought that it was but a casual one, instead of being a reunion after a separation of a year.
But this meeting upset me strangely. I seemed to have stepped back years in my life. My marriage to Dicky, my life with him, my love for him, seemed in some curious way to belong to some other woman, even the permission to meet him in this way, which I had wrested from Dicky, seemed a need of another. I was again Margaret Spencer, going with my best friend to the restaurant where we had so often dined together.
And yet in some way I felt that things were not the same as they used to be. Jack was the same kindly brother I had always known, and yet there seemed in his manner a tinge of something different. I did not know what. I only knew that I felt very nervous and unstrung.
As I sank into the padded seat and began to remove my gloves I was confronted by a new problem.