“Shall I drive awhile in the night air?” asked Henderson.
She nodded. He instructed the chauffeur.
She raised her head in a few seconds. “Hart, I’m going to pieces,” she said. “Won’t you put your arm around me a little while?”
Henderson gathered her into his arms and her head
fell on his shoulder.
“Closer!” she cried.
Henderson held her until his arms were numb, but he did not know it. The tricks of fate are cruel enough, but there scarcely could have been a worse one than that: To care for a woman as he loved Edith Carr and have her given into his arms because she was so numb with misery over her trouble with another man that she did not know or care what she did. Dawn was streaking the east when he spoke to her.
“Edith, it is growing light.”
“Take me home,” she said.
Henderson helped her up the steps and rang the bell.
“Miss Carr is ill,” he said to the footman. “Arouse her maid instantly, and have her prepare something hot as quickly as possible.”
“Edith,” he cried, “just a word. I have been thinking. It isn’t too late yet. Take your ring and put it on. I will go find Phil at once and tell him you have, that you are expecting him, and he will come.”
“Think what he said!” she cried. “He accepted my decision as final, ’in the presence of witnesses,’ as if it were court. He can return it to me, if I ever wear it again.”
“You think that now, but in a few days you will find that you feel very differently. Living a life of heartache is no joke, and no job for a woman. Put on your ring and send me to tell him to come.”
“Edith, there was not a soul who saw that, but sympathized with Phil. It was ridiculous for you to get so angry over a thing which was never intended for the slightest offence, and by no logical reasoning could have been so considered.”
“Do you think that?” she demanded.
“I do!” said Henderson. “If you had laughed and stepped aside an instant, or laughed and stayed where you were, Phil would have been back; or, if he needed punishment in your eyes, to have found me having one of his dances would have been enough. I was waiting. You could have called me with one look. But to publicly do and say what you did, my lady—I know Phil, and I know you went too far. Put on that ring, and send him word you are sorry, before it is too late.”
“I will not! He shall come to me.”
“Then God help you!” said Henderson, “for you are plunging into misery whose depth you do not dream. Edith, I beg of you——”
She swayed where she stood. Her maid opened the door and caught her. Henderson went down the hall and out to his car.
WHEREIN THE ELDER AMMON OFFERS ADVICE, AND EDITH CARR EXPERIENCES REGRETS