“That sometimes women do remember the woman who has to pay—the price; do give a thought to the girl who is left to pay it alone. Come to-morrow—no, not to-morrow. Come next week. It will take Mrs. Mundy until then to—”
“Mrs. Mundy has nothing to do with Miss Swink. The other girl, I told you, can take care of herself. You mustn’t look into that side of it. I’ll attend to that, do what is necessary. It’s only about her you seem to be thinking.”
“I’m thinking about both girls, the poor one and the rich one. But the rich girl has a million-dollar mother to look after her. Good-by, and come Tuesday. I forgot—What is the girl’s name, the little cashier-girl’s?”
“Etta—Etta something.” Selwyn made effort to think, then took a note-book out of his pocket and looked at it. “Etta Blake is her name. I wish you’d forget her. There are some things one can’t talk about, but certainly you know I will do what is right if Harrie—” His face darkened.
“I know you will, but sometimes a girl needs a woman to do—what is right. She’s such a little thing, and so young. Come Tuesday evening at eight o’clock.”
Late that evening I had a talk with Mrs. Mundy. I told her where Etta Blake lived, that is, where she could find the house from which I had seen her come with the baby in her arms, the house whose address had been given me by Selwyn, and the next morning she was to go and see her; but the next morning Mrs. Mundy was ill. Acute indigestion was what the doctor called it, but to Bettina and me it seemed a much more dreadful thing, and for the time all thought of other matters was put aside and held in abeyance.
With Bettina’s help I tried to do Mrs. Mundy’s work, but my first breakfast was not an artistic product. I shall never know how to cook. I don’t want to know how. I don’t like to cook. There were many other things I could do, however, and though Mrs. Mundy wept, being weak from nausea, at my refusal to leave undone the usual cleaning, I did it with pride and delight in the realization that, notwithstanding little practice, I could do it very well. I am a perfect dish-washer, and I can make up beds as well as a trained nurse.
Mrs. Mundy is much better to-day and to-morrow she will be up. Three days in bed is for her an unusual and depressing experience, and her sunny spirit drooped under the combined effects of over-indulgence in certain delectable dishes, and inability to do her usual work.
“It don’t make any difference how much character a person’s got, it’s gone when sick-stomach is a-wrenching of ’em.” Mrs. Mundy groaned feebly. “I ’ain’t had a spell like this since Bettina was a baby. Pig feet did it. When they’re fried in batter I’m worse than the thing I’m eating. I et three, and I never can eat more than two. And to think you had to do everything for Lillie Pierce, to get her off in time! The doctor says she can’t live many months. Outside the doctor, and Nurse White and Mr. Guard, don’t anybody know she’s been here. I reckon it ain’t necessary to mention it. People are so—”