“Give me your mother’s address,” she demanded.
“You absolutely refuse to save yourself?”
“From what? From Peter? There are many worse people than Peter to save myself from, Mrs. Boyer—uncharitable people, and—and cruel people.”
Mrs. Boyer shrugged her plump shoulders.
“Meaning me!” she retorted. “My dear child, people are always cruel who try to save us from ourselves.”
Unluckily for Harmony, one of Anna’s specious arguments must pop into her head at that instant and demand expression.
“People are living their own lives these days, Mrs. Boyer; old standards have gone. It is what one’s conscience condemns that is wrong, isn’t it? Not merely breaking laws that were made to fit the average, not the exception.”
Mrs. Boyer flung up her hands.
“You are impossible!” she snapped. “After all, I believe it is Peter who needs protection! I shall speak to him.”
She started down the staircase, but turned for a parting volley.
“And just a word of advice: Perhaps the old standards have gone. But if you really expect to find a respectable woman to chaperon you, keep your views to yourself.”
Harmony, a bruised and wounded thing, crept into Jimmy’s room and sank on her knees beside the bed. One small hand lay on the coverlet; she dared not touch it for fear of waking him—but she laid her cheek close to it for comfort. When Peter came in, much later, he found the boy wide awake and Harmony asleep, a crumpled heap beside the bed.
“I think she’s been crying,” Jimmy whispered. “She’s been sobbing in her sleep. And strike a match, Peter; there may be more mice.”
Mrs. Boyer, bursting with indignation, went to the Doctors’ Club. It was typical of the way things were going with Peter that Dr. Boyer was not there, and that the only woman in the clubrooms should be Dr. Jennings. Young McLean was in the reading room, eating his heart out with jealousy of Peter, vacillating between the desire to see Harmony that night and fear lest Peter forbid him the house permanently if he made the attempt. He had found a picture of the Fraulein Engel, from the opera, in a magazine, and was sitting with it open before him. Very deeply and really in love was McLean that afternoon, and the Fraulein Engel and Harmony were not unlike. The double doors between the reading room and the reception room adjoining were open. McLean, lost in a rosy future in which he and Harmony sat together for indefinite periods, with no Peter to scowl over his books at them, a future in which life was one long piano-violin duo, with the candles in the chandelier going out one by one, leaving them at last alone in scented darkness together—McLean heard nothing until the mention of the Siebensternstrasse roused him.