“I can take the spring course,—it’s three months. I think our University Domestic Science Department is just every bit as good as any of the Eastern ones.”
“Where did you two meet each other?” Eleanor called, sharply.
“Why, I told you,” Edith said, coming over to the tea table; “I dragged him from his desk!”
“Come, Edith, we must go,” Mrs. Houghton said, rising.
“Why don’t you stay to dinner?” Maurice urged—but Eleanor was silent. “If you are in town next week, Skeezics, you’ve got to put up here. Understand? Tell her so, Eleanor!”
Eleanor said nothing. Mrs. Houghton said she was afraid it wouldn’t be convenient.
Eleanor said nothing.
“Of course you will come here!” Maurice said; he was sharply angry at his wife.
In the momentary and embarrassing pause, the color flew into Edith’s face, but she was elaborately indifferent. “Good-by, Eleanor; good-by, Maurice!”
“I’m going to escort you to the hotel,” Maurice said; and, over his shoulder to Eleanor: “I’ve got to rush off to St. Louis to-night, Eleanor. That Greenleaf business. Has Mrs. O’Brien brought my things home?"’
“I’ll see,” she said, mechanically....
Nobody had much to say on that walk to the hotel; but when Maurice had left them, and the two ladies were in their room, Edith faced her mother:
“What is the matter?”
“You mean with Eleanor? She has a headache, I suppose.”
“Mother, don’t squirm! You know just as well as I do that she doesn’t want me to stay with them. Why not?” She did not wait for an answer, which, indeed, her mother could not immediately find. “Well, Heaven knows I’m not pining to be with her! I shall run in to-morrow morning, and tell her that Mrs. Newbolt asked me to stay with her.... Mother, how could Maurice have fallen in love with Eleanor?” Her voice trembled; she went over to the window and stood looking down into the street; her hands were clenched behind her, and her soft young chin was rigid. “He was just a boy,” she said; her eyes were blurring so that the street was a gray fog; “how could Eleanor?” It seemed as if her own ardent, innocent body felt the recoil of Maurice’s youth from Eleanor’s age! She thought of that dark place in his past, which she had accepted with pain, but always with defending excuses; she excused him again, now, in her thoughts: “Eleanor was impossible! That’s why somebody else ... caught him. And it was long ago. And Eleanor’s old enough to be his mother. He never could have loved her!” Suddenly she had a fleeting, but real, pity for Eleanor: “Poor thing!” Aloud she said, huskily, over her shoulder, “If she had really loved him, she wouldn’t have done such a terrible thing as marry him.”
Mrs. Houghton, reading the evening paper, said, briefly, “She loves him now, my dear.”
“Oh!” Edith said, passionately, “sometimes I am sorry for Eleanor—and then the next minute I perfectly hate her!”