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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 364 pages of information about The Vehement Flame.
not caring a copper for him!  If Edith said, “Oh, Maurice, you are a perfect idiot!” Eleanor would see him grin with pleasure; but when Eleanor put her arms around him and kissed him, he sighed.  To Maurice’s wife these things were all like oil on fire; but it never occurred to her to try to develop in herself any of the qualities he seemed to find attractive in Edith.  Instead, she thought of that June day in the meadow by the river when he said he loved her inefficiency—­he loved her timidity, and, oh, how he had loved her love!  He had made her promise to be jealous!  Eleanor was not a reasoning person—­probably no jealous woman is; but she did recognize the fact that what made him love her then, made him impatient with her now.  This seemed to her irrational; and so, of course, it was!—­just as the tide is irrational, or the turning of the earth on its axis is irrational.  Nature has nothing to do with reason.  So, in its deep and beautiful and animal beginnings, Love, too, is irrational.  It has to ascend to Reason!  But Eleanor did not know these things.  All she knew was that Maurice hurt her, a dozen times a day.

She was brooding over this one Sunday afternoon in late September, when, at the open window of her bedroom, with Bingo snoozing in her lap, she listened to Edith, down in the garden:  “How about a jug of dahlias on the table?”

And Maurice:  “Bully!  Say, Edith, why couldn’t we have a yellow scheme for the grub?  Orange cup, and that sort of fussy business you make out of cheese and the yolks of eggs?  And yellow cakes?”

“Splendid!  I’ll mix up some perfectly stunning little sponge cakes, ‘Lemon Queens.’  Yellow as anything!”

This was all to get ready for a tea under the silver poplar, which was dropping yellow leaves down on the green table, and the mossy brick path, and the chairs for the company.  The Mortons were coming, and there would be, Eleanor told herself, wearily, the usual shrieking over flat jokes,—­Edith’s jokes, mostly.  Her dislike of Edith was a burning ache below her breastbone.  “Maurice has her, so he doesn’t want me,” she thought; then suddenly she got up and hurried downstairs.  “I’ll fix the table!” she said, peremptorily.

“It’s all done,” Edith said; “doesn’t it look pretty?  Oh, Eleanor, let me put a dahlia behind your ear!  You’ll look like a Spanish lady!” She put the gorgeous flower into the soft disorder of Eleanor’s dark hair, avoiding Bingo’s angry objections, and said, with open admiration, “Eleanor, you are handsome!  I adore dahlias!” she announced; “those quilly ones, red on the outside and yellow inside!  There are some stunning ones on Maple Street, where I saw that Dale woman.  Wonder if she’d sell some roots?”

The color flew into Maurice’s face.  “Did you get your bicycle mended?” he said.

Instantly Edith forgot the dahlias, and plunged into bicycle technicalities, ending with the query, “Why don’t you squeeze out some money, and buy one of those cheap little automobiles, Maurice, you mean old thing!”

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