He was glad after that to get home and to bed, and to the warmth of his blanket. There was the warmth, too, of the wine.
In a little while he was asleep. On the table by his untidy bed was the box of biscuits and the bottle and the tin of tiny sausages.
If all went well he would feast like a lord on Christmas morning!
Perhaps the most humiliating moment of Dulcie Cowan’s childhood had been when Mary Dean had called her Indian giver. Dulcie was a child of affluence. She had always had everything she wanted; but she had not been spoiled. She had been brought up beautifully and she had been taught to consider the rights of others. She lived in an old-fashioned part of an old city, and her family was churchly and conscientious. Indeed, so well-trained was Dulcie’s conscience that it often caused her great unhappiness. It seemed to her that her life was made up largely of denying herself the things she wanted. She was tied so rigidly to the golden rule that her own rights were being constantly submerged in the consideration of the rights of others.
So it had happened that when she gave to Mary Dean a certain lovely doll, because her mother had suggested that Dulcie had so many and Mary so few, Dulcie had spent a night of agonized loneliness. Then she had gone to Mary.
“I want my Peggy back.”
“You gave her to me.”
“But I didn’t know how much I loved her, Mary. I’ll buy you a nice new doll, but I want my Peggy back.”
It was then that Mary had called her Indian giver. Mary had been a sturdy little thing with tight-braided brown hair. She had worn on that historic occasion a plain blue gingham with a white collar. To the ordinary eye she seemed just an every-day freckled sort of child, but to Dulcie she had been a little dancing devil, as she had stuck out her forefinger and jeered “Indian giver!”
Dulcie had held to her point and had carried her Peggy off in triumph. Mary, with characteristic independence, had refused to accept the beautiful doll which Dulcie bought with the last cent of her allowance and brought as a peace offering. In later years they grew to be rather good friends. They might, indeed, have been intimate, if it had not been for Dulcie’s money and Mary’s dislike of anything which savored of patronage.
It was Mary’s almost boyish independence that drew Mills Richardson to her. Mills wrote books and was the editor of a small magazine. He came to board with Mary’s mother because of the quiet neighborhood. He was rather handsome in a dark slender fashion. He had the instincts of a poet, and he was not in the least practical. He needed a prop to lean on, and Mary gradually became the prop.
She was teaching by that time, but she helped her mother with the boarders. When Mills came in late at night she would have something for him in the dining-room—oysters or a club sandwich or a pot of coffee—and she and her mother and Mills would have a cozy time of it. In due season Mills asked her to marry him, and his dreams had to do with increased snugness and with shelter from the outside world.