“No,” answered Phoebe emphatically, “it isn’t funny and if you begin to laugh everybody else will. It may hurt Milly, she is so gentle and dear, and you are their best friend. I won’t have it! I won’t! I’m tired, anyway, of having fun made of all the sacred things in life. All of us swing around in a silly whirl and when a woman like Mildred begins to live her life in a—er—natural way, we—ridicule! She is brave and strong and works hard; and she has the real things of life and makes the sacrifices for them. While we—”
“Oh, heavenly hope, Phoebe!” gasped David Kildare, “don’t rub it in! I see it now—a lot of magazine stuff jogging the women up about the kids and all—and here Milly is a hero and we—the jolly fun-pokers. I’ve got to help ’em some way! Wish Billy Bob would sell me this last bunch; guess he would—one, anyway?” And the contrite David gazed down at Phoebe in whose upturned eyes there dawned a wealth of mirth.
“David,” she said, perhaps more softly than she had ever spoken to him in all the days of his pursuit, “I know—I felt sure that you felt all right about it. I couldn’t bear to have you say or do—”
“Now, I’ll ’fess a thing to you that I didn’t think wild horses could drag out of me, Phoebe. I was down there an hour ago in the back hall of that flat and Billy Bob let me hold the pair of ’em and squeeze ’em. I guess we both—just shed a few, you know, because he was so excited. Men are such slobs at times—when women don’t know about it.” And David winked fiercely at the early electric light that glowed warm against the winter sky.
“And you are a very dear boy, David,” said Phoebe softly as her hand slipped out of her muff and dropped into his and rested there for just one enchanting half-second. “Dearer than you know in some ways. No, don’t think of coming up with me, you’ve paid your visit of welcome. Good night! Yes, I think so—in the afternoon about three o’clock and we can go on to Mrs. Pepton’s reception. Good night again!”
“Phoebe,” he called after her, “the one with the yellow fuzz is the girl, buy her for me if you can flimflam Milly into it! Any old price, you know. Hurrah, America for the Anglo-Saxons! Hurrah for Milly and Dixie!”
ACCORDING TO SOLOMON
“And it was by this very pattern, Caroline, I made the dozen I sent Mary Caroline for you. See the little slips fold over and hold up the petticoats,” and Mrs. Buchanan held up a tiny garment for Caroline Darrah to admire. They sat by the sunny window in her living-room and both were sewing on dainty cambric and lace. Caroline Darrah’s head bent over the piece of ruffling in her hand with flower-like grace and the long lines from her throat suggested decidedly a very lovely Preraphaelite angel. Her needle moved slowly and unaccustomedly but she had the air of doing the hemming bravely if fearfully.