When Maurice retreated, looking like a schoolboy, it took him a perceptible time to regain his sense of age and pride and responsibility. He rushed back to the hotel—where he had plunged into the extravagance of the “bridal suite,”—to pour out his hurt feelings to Eleanor, and while she looked at him in one of her lovely silences he railed at Bradley, and said the trouble with him was that he was sore about money! “He needn’t worry! I’ll pay him,” Maurice said, largely. And then forgot Bradley in the rapture of kissing Eleanor’s hand. “As if we cared for his opinion!” he said.
“We don’t care!” she said, joyously. Her misgivings had vanished like dew in the hot sun. Old Mrs. O’Brien had done her part in dissipating them. While Maurice was bearding his tutor, Eleanor had gone across town to her laundress’s, to ask if Mrs. O’Brien would take Bingo as a boarder—. “I can’t have him at the hotel,” she explained, and then told the great news:—“I’m going to live there, because I—I’m married,”—upon which she was kissed, and blessed, and wept over! “The gentleman is a little younger than I am,” she confessed, smiling; and Mrs. O’Brien said:
“An’ what difference does that make? He’ll only be lovin’ ye hotter than an old fellow with the life all gone out o’ him!”
Eleanor said, laughing, “Yes, that’s true!” and cuddled the baby grandson’s head against her breast.
“You’ll be happy as a queen!” said Mrs. O’Brien; and “in a year from now you’ll have something better to take care of than Bingo—he’ll be jealous!”
But she hardly heeded Mrs. O’Brien and her joyful prophecy of Bingo’s approaching jealousy; having taken the dive, she had risen into the light and air, and now she forgot the questioning depths! She was on the crest of contented achievement. She even laughed to think that she had ever hesitated about marrying Maurice. Absurd! As if the few years between them were of the slightest consequence! Mrs. O’Brien was right.... So she smoothed over Maurice’s first bad moment with an indifference as to Mr. Bradley’s opinion which was most reassuring to him. (Yet once in a while she thought of Mr. Houghton, and bit her lip.)
The next bad moment neither she nor Maurice could dismiss so easily; it came in the interview with her astounded aunt, whose chief concern (when she read the letter which Eleanor had left on her pincushion) was lest the Houghtons would think she had inveigled the boy into marrying her niece. To prove that she had not, Mrs. Newbolt told the bride and groom that she would have nothing more to do with Eleanor! It was when the fifty-four minutes had lengthened into three days that they had gone, after supper, to see her. Eleanor, supremely satisfied, with no doubts, now about the wisdom of what she had done, was nervous only as to the effect of her aunt’s temper upon Maurice; and he, full of a bravado of indifference which confessed the nervousness it denied,