“Marched up a hill—
When, with a splitting headache, she toiled home through the heat, she said to herself: “He ought to have been frank, and told me the woman was Mrs. Dale; I wouldn’t have minded, for I know such a person couldn’t have interested him. She had no figure, and she looked stupid. He couldn’t have said she had ‘brains’! That girl in the car was impertinent.”
The heat and the wind—and remorse—gave Eleanor such a prolonged headache that Maurice, in real anxiety and without consulting her—wrote to Mrs. Houghton that “Nelly was awfully used up by the hot weather,” and might he bring her to Green Hill now, instead of later? Her prompt and friendly telegram, “Come at once,” made him tell his wife that he was going to pack her off to the mountains, quick!
She began to say no, she couldn’t manage it; “I—I can’t leave Bingo” (she was hunting for an excuse not to leave Maurice), “Bingo is so miserable if I am out of his sight.”
“You can take him,—old Rover’s gone to heaven. Think you can start to-morrow?” He sat down beside her and took her hand in his warm young paw; the pity of her made him frown—pity, and an intolerable annoyance at himself! She, a woman twice his age, had married him, when, of course, she ought to have told him not to be a little fool; “...wiped my nose and sent me home!” he thought, with cynical humor. But, all the same, she loved him. And he had played her a damned cheap trick!—which was hidden safely away in the two-family house on Ash Street. “Hidden.” What a detestable word! It flashed into Maurice’s mind that if, that night among the stars, he had made a clean breast of it all to Eleanor, he wouldn’t now be going through this business of hiding things—and covering them up by innumerable, squalid little falsenesses. “There would have been a bust-up, and she might have left me. But that would have been the end of it!” he thought; he would have been free from what he had once compared to a dead hen tied around a dog’s neck—the clinging corruption of a lie! The Truth would have made him free. Aloud, he said, “Star,”—she caught her breath at the old lovely word—“I’ll go to Green Hill with you, and take care of you for a few days. I’m sure I can fix it up at the office.”
The tears leaped to her eyes. “Oh, Maurice!” she said; “I haven’t been nice to you. I’m afraid I’m—rather temperamental. I—I get to fancying things. One day last week I—had horrid thoughts about you.”
“About me?” he said, laughing; “well, no doubt I deserved ’em!”
“No!” she said, passionately; “no—you didn’t! I know you didn’t. But I—” With the melody of that old name in her ears, her thoughts were too shameful to be confessed. She wouldn’t tell him how she had wronged him in her mind; she would just say: “Don’t keep things from me, darling! Be frank with me, Maurice. And—” she stopped and tried to laugh, but her mournful eyes dredged his to find an indorsement of her own certainties—“and tell me you don’t love anybody else?”