But when I reached the drug store and entered the telephone booth, it was her voice which answered my call of Dicky’s number.
“Yes, this is Mr. Graham’s studio,” she said smoothly. “No, Mr. Graham is not here, he has not been here since 11 o’clock. Pardon me, is this not Mrs. Graham to whom I am speaking?”
“I am Mrs. Graham, yes,” I replied, trying to put a little cordiality into my voice. “You are Miss Draper, are you not?”
“Yes,” she replied. “Mr. Graham wished me to give you a message. He was called away to a conference with one of the art editors about 11 o’clock. He expected to lunch with him and said he might not be in the studio until quite late this afternoon.”
“Have you any idea where he is lunching or where I could reach him?” I asked sharply.
“Why! no, Mrs. Graham, I have not. Is there anything wrong?”
“His mother has been taken ill and I am very much worried about her. If Mr. Graham comes in or telephones will you ask him to come home at once, ’phoning me first if he will.”
“Of course I will attend to it. Is there anything else I can do?”
“Nothing, thank you, you are very kind,” I returned, and there was genuine warmth in my voice this time.
For the discovery that I had been mistaken in my idea of Dicky’s luncheon engagement made me so ashamed of myself that I had no more rancor against my husband’s beautiful protege.
I laughed bitterly at my own silliness as I turned from the telephone. While I had been tormenting myself for hours at the picture I had drawn of Dicky and his beautiful model lunching vis-a-vis, Dicky had been keeping a prosaic business engagement with a man, and his model had probably lunched frugally and unromantically on a sandwich or two brought from home.
“Call me mother—if you can”
“Will you kindly tell me who is the best physician here?”
“Why—I—pardon me—” the drug store clerk stammered. “Wait a moment and I’ll inquire. I’m new here.”
“The boss says this chap’s the best around here.” He held out a penciled card to me. “Dr. Pettit. Madison Square 4258.”
“Dr. Pettit!” I repeated to myself. “Why! that must be the physician who came to the apartment the night of my chafing dish party, when the baby across the hall was brought to us in a convulsion.”
A sudden swift remembrance came to me of the tact and firmness with which the tall young physician had handled the difficult situation he had found in our apartment. He was just the man, I decided, to handle my refractory mother-in-law. So I called him up and he promised to call as soon as his office hours were over.
My feet traveled no faster than my thoughts as I hurried back to my own apartment and the bedside of my mother-in-law. I dreaded inexpressibly the conflict I foresaw when the autocratic old woman should find out that I had sent for a physician against her wishes.