“Please, little Rhoda, not to cry. Please, little Rhoda, tell me.”
Rhoda, with her other hand, brushed the tears away.
“I’m a silly. I suppose I’m crying because I can’t feel to care about anything in the world, and I wish I could. What’s the use of a baby if you can’t love it? What’s the use of a husb—”
Lucy’s hand was over her lips, and Lucy whispered, “Oh, hush, little Rhoda, hush!”
But Rhoda pushed the hand away and cried, “Oh, why do we pretend and pretend and pretend? It’s Guy I care for—Guy, Guy, Guy, who’s gone for good and all.”
She fell to crying drearily, with Lucy’s arms about her.
“But you mustn’t cry,” said Lucy, her own eyes brimming over; “you mustn’t, you mustn’t. And you do care for Peter, you know you do, only it’s so hot, and you’re tired and ill. If that horrible Guy was here—oh, I know he’s horrible—you’d know you cared for Peter most. You mustn’t say things, Rhoda; it makes them alive.” Her eyes were wide and frightened as she looked over Rhoda’s head out of the window.
Slowly Rhoda quieted down, and lay numb and still.
“You won’t tell Peter,” she said; and Lucy said, “Oh, Rhoda!”
“Well, of course I know you wouldn’t. Only that you and Peter tell one another things without saying anything.... Peter belongs to you really, you know, not to me at all. All he thinks and says and is—it’s all yours. He’s never really been near me like that, not from the beginning. I was a silly to let him sacrifice himself for me the way he’s done. We don’t belong really, Peter and I; however friendly we are, we don’t belong; we don’t understand each other like you two do.... You don’t mind my saying that, do you?” for Lucy had dropped her hands and fallen away.
“I mind your saying anything,” said Lucy, “just now. Don’t say things: it makes them alive. It’s hot, and you’re tired, and I’m not going to stay any more.”
She got up from the floor and stood for a moment looking down at Rhoda. Rhoda saw her eyes, how they were wet and strange and far-away, and full of what seemed an immense weight of pity; pity for all the sadnesses of mankind.
The next moment Lucy’s cool finger-tips touched her forehead in a light caress, and Lucy was gone.
THE LOSS OF A WIFE
In September Peter and Rhoda had a son, whom they called Thomas, because, Peter said, he had a sceptical look about the eyes and nose. Peter was pleased with him, and he with Peter. Rhoda wasn’t much interested; she looked at him and said he was rather like Peter, and might be taken away now, please.
“Like me?” Peter wondered dubiously. “Well, I know I’m not handsome, but...”
Peggy, a born mother, took Thomas into her large heart at once, with her out-at-elbows infants, and was angry with Rhoda for not showing more interest.