His compliment fell cold. Amy felt old and tired. She had a pain in her side. It had been getting very bad of late, and she coughed at night. She had been to her doctor, and again he had emphasized the need of a change of climate and of nourishing food. Amy had come away unconvinced.
She would have a chance in July when she and her sisters would go to the Eastern Shore for their annual visit to their Aunt Elizabeth. As for different food, she ate enough—all the doctors in the world couldn’t make her spend any more money on the table.
Murray stood up very straight by the mantelpiece, under the portrait of one of the Merryman great-grandfathers in a bag wig, and talked of Anne:
“I believe I am falling in love with her, Amy.”
Amy’s heart said, “It has come at last.” Her brain said, “He has discovered it because of Maxwell Sears.” Her lips said, “I don’t wonder. She’s a dear child, Murray.”
Murray swayed up a little on his toes. It made him seem thinner and taller. He could see himself reflected in the long mirror on the opposite wall. He liked the reflection of the thin tall man.
“She’s beautiful, Amy. I am going to ask her to marry me. I can’t have some other fellow running off with her. She belongs to Georgetown.”
He seemed to think that settled it. The pain in Amy’s side was sharper. She felt that she couldn’t quite stand seeing Murray happy with Anne. “She’s—she’s such a child.” Her voice shook.
“Well,” said Murray, glancing at the tall thin man in the mirror, “of course she is young. But Maxwell Sears is coming here a lot. Is he in love with her?”
“I’m not sure. She amuses him. She isn’t in love with him or with anybody.”
“Not even with me?” Murray laughed a little. “But we can remedy that, can’t we, Amy? But you might hint at what I’m expecting of her. I don’t want to startle her.” He came and sat down beside her. “You are always a great dear about doing things for me.”
The pain stabbed her like a knife. “I’ll do my best.”
She had a nervous feeling that she must keep Murray from talking to her like that. She rang for hot water, and their one maid, Charlotte, brought it in a Sheffield jug. Then Ethel and Anne and Molly Winchell arrived, and once more Murray stood up, tall and self-conscious as he stole side glances at himself in the mirror.
Maxwell Sears had brought the three women home. He had a fashion of following up Anne’s engagements and putting his car at her disposal. When Amy had vetoed any more adventures at the Capitol he had conceded good-naturedly that she was right. After that he had always included Amy or Ethel in his invitations.
“They are very pretty dragons,” he had written to Winifred, “and little Anne is like a princess shut in a tower.”
Winifred, reading the letter, had brooded upon it. “He’s falling in love. A child like that—she’ll spoil his future.”