He hurried away, and Senator Smith felt a bit sorry for Mrs. Cresswell when he recalled the expression on her husband’s face.
Mary Cresswell did not get home until nearly dinner time; then she came in glowing with enthusiasm. Her work had received special commendation that afternoon, and she had been asked to take the chairmanship of the committee on publicity. Finding that her husband was at home, she determined to tell him—it was so good to be doing something worth while. Perhaps, too, he might be made to show some interest. She thought of Mr. and Mrs. Todd and the old dream glowed faintly again.
Cresswell looked at her as she entered the library where he was waiting and smoking. She was rumpled and muddy, with flying hair and thick walking shoes and the air of bustle and vigor which had crept into her blood this last month. Truly, her cheeks were glowing and her eyes bright, but he disapproved. Softness and daintiness, silk and lace and glimmering flesh, belonged to women in his mind, and he despised Amazons and “business” women. He received her kiss coldly, and Mary’s heart sank. She essayed some gay greeting, but he interrupted her.
“What’s this stuff about the Civic Club?” he began sharply.
“Stuff?” she queried, blankly.
“That’s what I said.”
“I’m sure I don’t know,” she answered stiffly. “I belong to the Civic Club, and have been working with it.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?” His resentment grew as he proceeded.
“I did not think you were interested.”
“Didn’t you know that this Child Labor business was opposed to my interests?”
“Dear, I did not dream it. It’s a Republican bill, to be sure; but you seemed very friendly with Senator Smith, who introduced it. We were simply trying to improve it.”
“Suppose we didn’t want it improved.”
“That’s what some said; but I did not believe such—deception.”
The blood rushed to Cresswell’s face.
“Well, you will drop this bill and the Civic Club from now on.”
“Because I say so,” he retorted explosively, too angry to explain further.
She looked at him—a long, fixed, penetrating look which revealed more than she had ever seen before, then turned away and went slowly up-stairs. She did not come down to dinner, and in the evening the doctor was called.
Cresswell drooped a bit after eating, hesitated, and reflected. He had acted too cavalierly in this Civic Club mess, he concluded, and yet he would not back down. He’d go see her and pet her a bit, but be firm.
He opened her boudoir door gently, and she stood before him radiant, clothed in silk and lace, her hair loosened. He paused, astonished. But she threw herself upon his neck, with a joyful, half hysterical cry.
“I will give it all up—everything! Willingly, willingly!” Her voice dropped abruptly to a tremulous whisper. “Oh, Harry! I—I am to be the mother of a child!”