“Oh, Dicky, Dicky,” I moaned, horrified, “what did he do?”
Dicky’s lips twisted grimly.
“Just put out his hand and caught my arm, saying with that calm and quiet voice of his:
“’I shall not return any blow you may give me, Mr. Graham, so please do not do anything you will regret when you recover yourself!’
“I realized his strength of body and the grip he had on my arm and even my half-crazed brain recognized the power of his spirit. I came to, apologized, and we had a long talk that made me realize what a thundering good fellow he must be.
“I don’t see why you never fell in love with him,” Dicky continued. “He’s a better man than I am,” he paraphrased half wistfully.
“But I love you,” I whispered.
Across Dicky’s face there fell a shadow. I realized that thoughtlessly I had wounded him.
“Margaret!” My mother-in-law’s tone was almost tragic. “Richard has gone off with my trunk checks.”
“Why, of course, he has,” I returned, wondering a little at her anxious tone. “I suppose he expects to give them to an expressman and have the trunks brought up this morning.”
“Richard never remembered anything in his life,” said his mother tartly. “Those trunks ought to be here before I leave for the day.”
“Oh, I don’t think it would be possible for them to arrive here before we have to start, even if Dicky gives them to an expressman right away, as I am sure he will do.”
It seemed queer to be defending Dicky to his mother, but I felt a curious little thrill of resentment that she should criticise him. I sometimes may judge Dicky harshly myself, but I don’t care to hear criticism of him from any other lips, even those of his mother.
“Richard will carry those checks in his pocket until he comes home again, if he is lucky enough not to lose them,” said his mother decidedly. “I wish you would telephone him at his studio and remind him that they must be looked after.”
Obediently I went to the telephone. I knew Dicky had had plenty of time to get to the studio, as it was but a short walk from our apartment.
“Madison Square 3694,” I said in answer to Central’s request for “number.”
When the answer came I almost dropped the receiver in my surprise. It was not Dicky’s voice that came to my ears, but that of a stranger, a woman’s voice, rich and musical.
“Yes?” with a rising inflection, “this is Mr. Graham’s studio. He has not yet reached here. What message shall I give him, please, when he comes in?”
“Please ask him to call up his home.” Then I hung up the receiver and turned from the telephone, putting down my agitation with a firm hand until I could be alone.
“Dicky has not yet reached the studio,” I said to his mother calmly. “I think very probably he has gone first to see an expressman about your trunks. If you will pardon me I have a few things to attend to before we start on our trip. Is there anything I can do for you?”