“Well, what did you think I’d think you were—if he wasn’t your brother?” asked the Senior Surgeon sardonically.
“Very—economical, I hoped!” beamed the White Linen Nurse.
“All the same!” snapped the Senior Surgeon, with an irrelevance surprising even to himself. “All the same do you think it sounds quite right and proper for a child to call her—step-mother—’Peach’?”
Again the White Linen Nurse’s chin went burrowing down into the soft collar of her dress. “I don’t suppose it is—usual,” she admitted reluctantly. “The children next door, I notice, call theirs—’Cross-Patch.’”
With a gesture of impatience the Senior Surgeon proceeded up the steps,—yanked open the old-fashioned shuttered door, and burst quite breathlessly and unprepared upon his most amazingly reconstructed house. All in one single second chintzes,—muslins,—pale blonde maples,—riotous canary birds,—stormed revolutionary upon his outraged eyes. Reeling back utterly aghast before the sight, he stood there staring dumbly for an instant at what he considered,—and rightly too,—the absolute wreck of his black walnut home.
“It looks like—Hell!” he muttered feebly.
“Yes, isn’t it sweet?” conceded the White Linen Nurse with unmistakable joyousness. “And your library—” Triumphantly she threw back the door to his grim work-shop.
“Good God!” stammered the Senior Surgeon. “You’ve made it—pink!”
Rapturously the White Linen Nurse began to clasp and unclasp her hands. “I knew you’d love it!” she said.
Half dazed with bewilderment the Senior Surgeon started to brush an imaginary haze from his eyes but paused mid-way in the gesture and pointed back instead to a dapper little hall-table that seemed to be exhausting its entire blonde strength in holding up a slender green vase with a single pink rose in it. Like a caged animal buffeting for escape against each successive bar that incased it, the man’s frenzied irritation hurled itself hopefully against this one more chance for explosive exit.
“What—have—you—done—with the big—black—escritoire that stood—there?” he demanded accusingly.
“Escritoire?—Escritoire?” worried the White Linen Nurse. “Why—why—I’m afraid I must have mislaid it.”
“Mislaid it?” thundered the Senior Surgeon. “Mislaid it? It weighed three hundred pounds!”
“Oh, it did?” questioned the White Linen Nurse with great, blue-eyed interest. Still mulling apparently over the fascinating weight of the escritoire she climbed up suddenly into a chair and with the fluffy broom-shaped end of her extraordinarily long braid of hair went angling wildy off into space after an illusive cobweb.
Faster and faster the Senior Surgeon’s temper began to search for a new point of exit.
“What do you suppose the—servants think of you?” he stormed. “Running round like that with your hair in a pig-tail like a—kid?”