Eleanor said, bleakly: “Why, if Edith would like to, of course. But I shouldn’t think she’d care to come in to town at six, and rush out to Medfield right after supper.”
“I don’t mind,” Edith said.
“You bet she won’t rush off right after supper!” Maurice said; “I won’t let her. And if she doesn’t get in here by three o’clock, I’ll know the reason why!”
So Edith came in every Sunday afternoon at three—and Eleanor never left her alone with Maurice for a moment! She sat and watched them; saw Edith’s unconcealed affection for Maurice, saw Maurice’s pleasure in Edith, saw his entire forgetfulness of herself,—and as she sat, silently, watching, watching, jealousy was like a fire in her breast.
However, in spite of Eleanor, sitting on the other side of the fire, in bitter silence, those Sunday afternoons were delightful to Edith. She and Maurice were more serious with each other now. His feeling about her was that she was a mighty pretty girl, who had sense, and who, as he expressed it, “spoke his language.” Her feeling about him was a frankly expressed appreciation which Eleanor called “flattery.” She had an eager respect for his opinions, based on admiration for what she called to herself his hard-pan goodness. “How he keeps civil to Eleanor, I don’t know!” Edith used to think. Sometimes, watching his civility—his patience, his kindness, and especially his ability to hold his tongue under the provocation of some laconic and foolish criticism from Eleanor—Edith felt the old thrill of the Sir Walter Raleigh moment. Yes; there was no one on earth like Maurice! Then she thought, contritely, of good old Johnny. “If I hadn’t known Maurice, I might have liked Johnny,” she thought; “he is a lamb.” When she reflected upon Eleanor, something in her generous, careless young heart hardened: “She’s not nice to Maurice!” She had no sympathy for Eleanor. Youth, having never suffered, is brutally unsympathetic. Edith had known nothing but love,—given and received; so of course she could not sympathize with Eleanor!
When the Sunday-night suppers were over, Eleanor and Maurice escorted their guest back to Fern Hill; Edith always said, “Don’t bother to go home with me, Eleanor!” And Maurice always said, “I’ll look after the tyke, Nelly, you needn’t go”; and Eleanor always said, “Oh, I don’t mind.” Which was, of course, her way of “locking the door” to keep her cat from a roof that became more alluring with every bolt and bar which shut him from it.
On these trolley rides through Medfield Maurice was apt to be rather silent, and he had a nervous way of looking toward the rear platform whenever the car stopped to take on a passenger—“although,” he told himself, “what difference would it make if Lily did get on board? She’s so fat now, Edith wouldn’t know her. And as for Lily, she’s white. She’d play up, like a ’perfect lady’!”