“I second the motion,” came from the Social Trustee, while she added to the Calculating, who happened to be sitting next: “So ill-bred. It just shows that a person can never be educated above her station in life.”
The President rose. “The motion has been made and seconded. Will you please signify by raising your hands if it is your wish that Miss MacLean’s resignation be accepted at once?”
Hand after hand went up. Only the little gray wisp of a woman in the chair by the door sat with her hands still folded on her lap.
“It is, so to speak, a unanimous vote.” There was a strong hint of approval in the President’s voice. He was a good man; but he belonged to that sect which holds as one of the main articles of its faith, “I believe in the infallibility of the rich.”
“Can any one tell me when Miss MacLean’s time expires?”
The person under discussion answered for herself. “On the last day of the month, Mr. President.”
“Oh, very well.” He was extremely polite in his manner. “We thank you for your very full and—hmm—comprehensive report. After to-night you are excused from your duties at Saint Margaret’s.”
The President bowed her courteously out of the board-room, while the primroses in the green Devonshire bowl on his desk still nodded guilelessly.
ODDS AND ENDS
Margaret MacLean walked the length of the first corridor; once out of sight and hearing, she tore up the stairs, her cheeks crimson and her eyes suspiciously moist. Before she had reached the second flight the House Surgeon overtook her.
“I wish,” he panted behind her, trying his best to look the big-brother way of old—“I wish you’d wait a moment. This habit of yours of always walking up is a beastly one.”
“Don’t worry about it.” There was a sharp, metallic ring in her voice that made it unnatural. “That’s one habit that will soon be broken.”
The House Surgeon smiled rather helplessly; inside he was making one of the few prayers of his life—a prayer to keep Margaret MacLean free of bitterness. “There is something I want to say to you,” he began.
She broke in feverishly: “No, there isn’t! And I don’t want to hear it. I don’t want to hear you’re sorry. I don’t want to hear they’ll be taken care of—somewhere—somehow. I think I should scream if you told me it was bound to happen—or will all turn out for the best.”
“I had no intention of saying any of those things—in fact, they hadn’t even entered my mind. What I was going to—”
“Oh, I know. You were going to remind me of what you said this morning. Almost prophetic, wasn’t it?” And there was a strong touch of irony in her laugh. She turned on him crushingly. “Perhaps you knew it all along. Perhaps it was your way of letting me down gently.”