Up in her own room, Eleanor, sitting in the dark by the open window, stared out into the leafy silence of the night. Once, down in the garden, Maurice laughed;—and she struck her clenched hand on her forehead:
“I can’t bear it!” she said, gaspingly, aloud; “I can’t bear it—she interests him!” His pleasure in Edith’s mind was a more scorching pain to her than the thought of Lily’s body....
Later, when Maurice and Edith came up from the garden darkness, they found a deserted porch. “Let’s talk,” he said, eagerly.
Edith shook her head. “Too sleepy,” she said, and ran upstairs. He called after her, “Quitter!” But it provoked no retort, and he would have gone back to walk up and down alone, by the primroses, and worry over Jacky’s future, if a melancholy voice had not come from the window of their room: “Maurice.... It’s twelve o’clock.” And he followed Edith indoors....
Edith had been sharply anxious to be by herself. She could not sit on the porch with Maurice, and not burst out and tell him—what? Tell him that nothing he had done could make the slightest difference to her! “He has probably met some awfully nice girl and likes her—a good deal. As for there being anything wrong, I don’t believe it! That would be horrible. I’m a beast to have thought of such a thing!” She decided to put it out of her mind, and went to her desk, saying, “I’ll straighten out my accounts.”
She began, resolutely; added up one column, and subtracted the total from another; said: “Gosh! I’m out thirty dollars!” nibbled the end of her pen, and reflected that she would have to work on her father’s sympathies;—then, suddenly, her pen still in her hand, she sat motionless.
“Even if there was anything—bad, I’d forgive him. He’s a lamb!” But as she spoke, childishness fell away—she was a deeply distressed woman. Maurice was suffering. And she knew, in spite of her assertions to the contrary, that it wasn’t because of any slight thing; any “crush” on a girl—nice or otherwise! He was suffering because he had done wrong—and she couldn’t tear downstairs and say: “Maurice, never mind! I love you just as much; I don’t care what you’ve done!” Why couldn’t she say that? Why couldn’t she go now, and sit on the porch steps beside him, and say—anything? She got up and began to walk about the room; her heart was beating smotheringly. “Why shouldn’t I tell him I love him so that I’d forgive—anything? He knows I’ve always loved him!—next to father and mother. Why can’t I tell him so, now?” Then something in her breast, beating like wings, made her know why she couldn’t tell him!
“I love him; that’s why.”