“I like it out here,” Johnny objected.
But as he spoke Maurice lounged into the kitchen. “Stiff?” he said.
“No; won’t be for ages,” Edith said—and instantly the desire to fly to the library ceased, especially as Mrs. Newbolt came trundling in. With Maurice astride one of the wooden chairs, his blue eyes droll and teasing, and Mrs. Newbolt enthroned in adipose good nature close to the stove, Edith was perfectly willing to stay in the kitchen!
“I say!” Maurice said. “Let’s pull the stuff!”
Johnny looked cross. “What,” he asked himself, “are Maurice and Mrs. Newbolt butting in for?” Then he softened, for Maurice was teasing Edith, and Mrs. Newbolt was tasting the candy, and the next minute all was in delightful uproar of stickiness and excitement, and Johnny, exploding into wild cackles of laughter, felt quite young for the next hour.
Eleanor, upstairs, with Bingo’s little silken head on her breast, did not feel young; she heard the noise, and smelled the boiling molasses, and knew that Mary would be cross when she came home and found the kitchen in a mess. “How can Maurice stand such childishness!” She lay there with a cologne-soaked handkerchief on her forehead, and sighed with pain. “Why doesn’t he stop them?” she thought. She heard his shout of laughter, and Edith’s screaming giggle, and moved her head to find a cool place on the pillow. “She’s too old to romp with him.” Suddenly she sat up, tense and listening; he was enjoying himself—and she was suffering! “If he had a headache, I would sit with him; I wouldn’t leave him alone!” But she was sick in bed,—and he was having a good time—with Edith. Her resentment was not exactly jealousy; it was fear; the same fear she had felt when Maurice had told her how Edith had rushed into his room the night of the great storm, the fear of Youth! She moved Bingo gently, stroking him until he seemed to be asleep; then sat up, and put her feet on the floor. The folded handkerchief slipped from her forehead, and she pressed her hands against her temples. “I’m going downstairs,” she said to herself; “I won’t be left out!” She felt a sick qualm as she got on to her feet, and went over to look at herself in the mirror ... her face was pale, and her hair, wet with cologne, was pasted down in straggling locks on her forehead; she tried to smooth it. “Oh, I look old enough to be—his aunt,” she said, hopelessly. When she opened her door she heard a little thud behind her; it was Bingo, scrambling off the bed to follow her; as she went downstairs, unsteadily, and clinging to the banisters, he stepped on her skirt, so she had to stoop and pick him up. At the closed kitchen door she paused for a moment, leaning against the wall; her head swam. Bingo, held in one trembling arm, put out his little pink tongue and licked her cheek. “I won’t be left out,” she said again. Just as her hand touched the knob there was an outburst of joyous yells, and a whack! as a lump of taffy, flung by one of the roisterers, hit the resounding panel of the door—then Mrs. Newbolt’s fat chuckle, and Johnny’s voice vociferating that Edith was the limit, and Maurice—“Edith, if you put that stuff in my hair, I’ll skin you alive!”