“That’s just it,” said Jack; “that’s all there is to it. It wouldn’t have amounted to anything except for that—or perhaps, if it hadn’t been for that, it might have amounted to a great deal.”
“If it hadn’t been for what?”
“For your being married.”
She quite started in her seat.
“What do you mean?”
“You see I never knew it before.”
“You never knew what before?”
“That you were married.”
“Until after you went out of the room to-night.”
The men were putting the clams around. She seemed to reflect. And then she peppered and salted them before she spoke.
“Bob is very wrong to talk so,” she said at last, picking up her fork, “when you’re his friend, too.”
He poked his clams—he hated clams.
“I suppose men think it’s amusing to do such things,” she continued, “but I think it’s as ill-bred as practical joking.”
“But you are married,” he said, trying fiercely to pepper some taste into the tasteless things before him.
“Yes, I’m married,” she admitted tranquilly, “but, then, my husband went to Africa so soon afterwards that he hardly seemed to count at all. And then he was killed there; so, after that, he seemed to count less than ever.”
The air danced exclamation points and the man on the other side spoke to her then so that her turning to answer him gave Jack time to rally his wits.
Then she turned back and said:
“I think Bob mystified you unnecessarily. Of course I don’t flatter myself that you’ve suffered.”
“Oh, but I have,” he hastened to assure her.
(A widow! A widow!)
“But it always makes a difference whether a woman is married or not.”
“I should say it did,” he interrupted again. “It makes all the difference in the world.”
At that she laughed outright, and someone suddenly abstracted the distasteful clams and substituted for them a golden and glorious soup, and music sounded forth from some invisible quartet, and—and—
(A widow! A widow! A widow!)
Chapter Five — The Day After Falling in Love
The next day was a very memorable day for Jack. The day after a falling in love is always a red-letter day; but the day after the falling in love—ah!
One looks back—far back—to the day before, and those hours of the day before, when her sun had not yet dawned, and struggles to recollect what ends life could have represented then. And one looks forward to the next day, the next week, the next year—but, particularly to the next morning with sensations as indescribable as they are delightful.
Whichever way you tip it, the kaleidoscope of the future arranges itself in equally attractive shapes of rainbow hue, and the prospect over land or sea—even if it is raining—looks brilliant green, and brighter red, and brightest yellow.