He need not have feared. Harmony had taken him entirely at his word. “I am not a beast. I’ll let you alone,” he had said. She had had a bad night, as nights go. She had gone through the painful introspection which, in a thoroughly good girl, always follows such an outburst as Peter’s. Had she said or done anything to make him think—Surely she had not! Had she been wrong about Peter after all? Surely not again.
While the Portier’s wife, waked, as may happen, by an unaccustomed silence, was standing guard in the hall below, iron candlestick in hand, Harmony, having read the Litany through in the not particularly religious hope of getting to sleep, was dreaming placidly. It was Peter who tossed and turned almost all night. Truly there had been little sleep that night in the old hunting-lodge of Maria Theresa.
Peter, still not quite at ease, that evening kept out of the kitchen while supper was preparing. Anna, radical theories forgotten and wearing a knitted shawl against drafts, was making a salad, and Harmony, all anxiety and flushed with heat, was broiling a steak.
Steak was an extravagance, to be cooked with clear hot coals and prayer.
“Peter,” she called, “you may set the table. And try to lay the cloth straight.”
Peter, exiled in the salon, came joyously. Obviously the wretched business of yesterday was forgiven. He came to the door, pipe in mouth.
“Suppose I refuse?” he questioned. “You—you haven’t been very friendly with me to-day, Harry.”
“Don’t quarrel, you children,” cried Anna, beating eggs vigorously. “Harmony is always friendly, too friendly. The Portier loves her.”
“I’m sure I said good-evening to you.”
“You usually say, ‘Good-evening, Peter.’”
“And I did not?”
“You did not.”
His steady eyes met hers. In them there was a renewal of his yesterday’s promise, abasement, regret. Harmony met him with forgiveness and restoration.
“Sometimes,” said Peter humbly, “when I am in very great favor, you say, ‘Good-evening, Peter, dear.’”
“Good-evening, Peter, dear,” said Harmony.
The affairs of young Stewart and Marie Jedlicka were not moving smoothly. Having rented their apartment to the Boyers, and through Marie’s frugality and the extra month’s wages at Christmas, which was Marie’s annual perquisite, being temporarily in funds the sky seemed clear enough, and Walter Stewart started on his holiday with a comfortable sense of financial security.