But Eleanor would not “wake up.” Within an hour of her foolish outbreak she had begun to listen for his returning step. Then she went to bed and cried and cried, “He doesn’t love me,” she said, over and over; and once she said, “it is because I am—” But she didn’t finish this; she just got up and went over to the bureau and stared into the mirror; she even lit a candle and held it close to the glass; after a while she saw what she was looking for. “Edith tried to make him notice them, that first summer at Green Hill,” she thought.
At eleven she went to the window and watched, her eyes straining into the darkness. When, far down the street, a man’s figure came in range, she held her breath until it walked into and out of the circling glare of the arc light—not Maurice! It was after twelve when she saw him coming—and instantly she flew back to her bed. When he entered the faintly lighted room, Eleanor was, apparently, sound asleep.
He leaned over, saw the droop of her lip and the puffed eyelids—and drew back. Perhaps, if he had kissed her, the soft lead pencil might not have acted as Destiny; she might have melted under the forlorn story he was so eager to tell her. But her tear-stained face did not suggest a kiss.
In the morning Eleanor had what she called a “bilious headache,” and when Maurice skirted the subject of the “flower,” she was too physically miserable to be interested. When she was well again, the opportunity—if it was an opportunity!—was lost; her interest in Lily was not needed, because a call at the apartment house showed Maurice that Batty was forgiven. So he forgot his desire to lift the fallen, in more of those arid moments with Eleanor; reproaches—and reconciliations! Tears—and fire! But fires gradually die down under tears, no matter how one spends one’s breath blowing loving words on the wet embers! Enough tears will put out any fire.
Lily, too, was shedding angry tears in those days, and they probably had their effect in cooling Batty’s heart; for his unpleasantness finally culminated in his leaving her, and by October she was living in the yellow-brick apartment house alone, and very economically—yet not so economically that she did not buy hyacinth bulbs for the blue and purple glasses on her sunny window sill.
Once Maurice, remembering with vague amusement his reformatory impulse, went to see her; but he did not talk to Eleanor about the call. By this time there were days when he talked as little as possible to Eleanor about anything,—not because he was secretive—he hated secrecy! “It’s next door to lying,” he thought, faintly disgusted at himself,—but because she seemed to feel hurt if he was interested in anyone except herself. Maurice had passed the point which had seemed so terrible at Green Hill, where he had called his wife “silly.” He never called her silly now. He merely, over and over, called himself a fool.