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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 364 pages of information about The Vehement Flame.
real-estate transactions; but that didn’t mean that the Dale woman was anything to him!  She was crying hard, now; “He just isn’t frank, that’s all.”  She could bear that; it was cruel, but she could bear it!  And it was a protection to Maurice, too; it saved him from the slur of being suspected.  “Oh, I am ashamed to have suspected him!” she thought; “how dreadful in me!  But I’ve proved that I was wrong.”  When she said that she knew, in a numb way, that after this she must not play with the dagger of an unbelieved suspicion.  She recognized that this sort of thing may be a mental diversion—­but it is dangerous.  If she allowed herself to do it again, she might really be stabbed; she might lose the saving certainty that he had not lied to her—­that he had only been “not frank.”

Suddenly she remembered how unwilling he had been, years ago, to talk of the creature to her!  She smiled faintly at his foolishness.  Perhaps he didn’t want to talk of her now?  Men are so absurd about their wives!  Her heart thrilled at such precious absurdity.  As for seeing that doctor—­of course she wouldn’t see him!  She didn’t need to see him.  And, anyhow, she wouldn’t, for anything in the world, have him, or anybody else, suppose that she had had even a thought that Maurice wasn’t—­all right!  “He just wasn’t quite frank; that was all.” ...  Oh, she had been wicked to suspect him!  “He would never forgive me if he knew I had thought of such a thing, He must never know it.”

In the comfort of her own remorse, and the reassurance of his half frankness, she walked back to the station and waited, in the midday heat, for the returning car.  Her head had begun to ache, but she said to herself that she must not disappoint little Donny.  So she went, in the blazing sun, to the old washerwoman’s house, climbed three flights of stairs, and found the boy in bed, flushed with worry for fear “Miss Eleanor” wasn’t coming.  She took the little feeble body in her arms, and sat down in the steamy kitchen by an open window, where Donny could see, on the clothes lines that stretched like gigantic spiderwebs across a narrow courtyard, shirts and drawers, flapping and kicking and bellying in the high, hot wind.  She talked to him, and said that if his grandmother would hire a piano, she would give him music lessons;—­and all the while her sore mind was wondering how old the mother of that woman in the car was?  Then she sang to Donny—­little merry, silly songs that made him smile: 

“The King of France,
And forty thousand men,
Marched up a hill—­”

She stopped short; Edith had thrown “The King of France” at her, that day of the picnic, when she had cringed away from the water and the slimy stones, and climbed up on the bank where she had been told to “guard the girl’s shoes and stockings”!  “Oh, I’ll be so glad to get her and her ‘brains’ out of the house!” Eleanor thought.  But her voice, lovely still, though fraying with the years—­went on: 

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