Lily, bareheaded in the pale April sunshine, had been watching for him rather anxiously. In deference to the occasion she had changed her dress; a string of green-glass beads, encircling her plump white neck, glimmered through the starched freshness of an incredibly frank blouse, and her white duck skirt was spotless. Her whole little fat body was as fresh and sweet as one of her own hyacinths, and her kind face had the unchanging, unhuman youthfulness of flesh and blood which has never been harried by the indwelling soul. But she was frowning. She had begun to be nervous; Jacky had been away nearly two hours! “Are they playing a gum game on me?” Lily thought; “Are they going to try and kidnap him?” It was then that she caught sight of Jacky, tearing toward home, his fierce blue eyes raking the street for any of them there Dennett boys, who must have the tar licked out of ’em! Edith was following him, in hurrying anxiety. Instantly Lily was reassured. “One of Mrs. Curtis’s lady friends, I suppose,” she thought. “Well, it’s up to me to keep her guessing on Jacky!” She was very polite and simpering when, at the gate, Edith said that Mr. Curtis asked her to bring Jacky home.
“Won’t you come in and be seated?” Lily urged, hospitably.
Edith said no; she was sorry; but she must go right back; “Mrs. Curtis is very ill, I am sorry to say.”
At this moment Jacky came out to the gate; he had two cookies in his hand. He said, shyly: “Maw’s is better ’an yours. You can have”—this with a real effort—“the big one.”
Edith took the “big one,” pleasantly, and said, “Yes, they are nicer than ours, Jacky.”
But Lily was mortified. “The lady’ll think you have no manners. Go on back into the house!”
“Won’t,” said Jacky, eating his cooky.
His mother tried to cover his obstinacy with conversation: “He’s crazy about Mr. Curtis. Well, no wonder. Mr. Curtis was a great friend of my husband’s. Mr. Dale—his name was Augustus; I named Jacky after him; Ernest Augustus. He died three years ago; no, I guess it was two—”
“Huh?” said Jacky, interested, “You said my paw died—”
Lily, with that desire to smack her son which every mother knows, cut his puzzled arithmetic short. “Yes. Mr. Dale was a great clubman. In Philadelphia. I believe that’s where he and Mr. Curtis got to be chums. But I never met her.”
Edith said, rigidly, “Really?”
“Jacky’s the image of Mr. Dale. He died of—of typhus fever. Mr. Curtis was one of the pallbearers; that’s how I got acquainted with him. Jacky was six then,” Lily ended, breathlessly. ("I guess that’s fixed her,” she thought.)
Edith only said again, “Really?” Then added, “Good afternoon,” and hurried away. So this was the woman Eleanor would make Maurice marry! “Never!” Edith said. “Never! if I can prevent it!”