“At least,” he added, “it wouldn’t be worth it, if it costs you so much. It is my strongest plot, but I will give it up if you would rather I stayed at home.”
Then Helen loosed her detaining arms, and lifting a brave white face, smiled at him through her tears.
“No, Ronnie,” she said. “I promised, when we married, always to help you with your work and to make it easy. I am not going to fail you now. If the new book requires a parting, we will face it bravely. At the present moment we both need luncheon, and I must get out of my habit. Ring, and tell them we shall not be ready for a quarter of an hour, there’s a dear boy! And think of something really funny to tell me at lunch. Afterwards we will discuss plans.”
She had reached the door when Ronald suddenly called after her: “Helen! Hadn’t you something to tell me, too?”
She turned in the doorway. Her face was gay with smiles.
“Oh, mine must wait,” she said. “Your new plot, and the wonderful journey it involves, require our undivided attention.”
The sun shone very brightly just then. It touched the halo of Helen’s soft hair, turning it to gold. In hoc vince gleamed upon the pane.
For a moment she stood in the doorway, giving him a chance to insist upon hearing that which she had to tell. But Ronald, easily satisfied, turned and rang the bell.
“All right, sweet,” he said. “How lovely you look in the sunshine! If it was business, or anything worrying, I would certainly rather not hear it now. You have bucked me up splendidly, Helen. Seven months seem nothing; and my whole mind is bounding forward into my story. I really must give you an outline of the plot.” He followed her into the hall. “Helen! Do come back for a minute.”
But Helen was half way up the stairs. He heard her laugh as she reached the landing.
“I am hungry, dear,” she called over the banisters, “and so are you, only you don’t know it! Crawl out of your long grass, and make yourself presentable before the gong sounds; or I shall send bananas for one, to your study!”
“All right!” he shouted; gave Helen’s message to the butler; then went through the billiard-room, whistling gaily.
“Why, she is as keen as I am,” he said to himself, as he turned on the hot and cold water taps. “And she is perfectly right about not coming with me. Of course it’s jolly hard to leave her; but I believe I shall do better work alone.”
His mind went back to Helen’s bright face in the doorway. He realised her mastery, for his sake, of her own dread of the parting.
“What a brick she is!” he said. “Always so perfectly plucky. I don’t believe any other fellow in the world has such a wife as Helen!”
HELEN TAKES THE INITIATIVE