Frances Carr had piled cushions in a deep chair for her.
“Lie back and be comfy, old thing, and I’ll give you your pap.”
She handed Pamela the steaming bowl, and proceeded to take off her friend’s shoes and substitute moccasin slippers. It was thus that she and Pamela had mothered one another at Somerville eighteen years ago, and ever since. They had the maternal instinct, like so many women.
“Well, how went it? How was Mrs. Cox?”
Mrs. Cox was the chairwoman of the Committee. All committee members know that the chairman or woman is a ticklish problem, if not a sore burden.
“Oh well....” Pamela dismissed Mrs. Cox with half a smile. “Might have been worse.... Oh look here, Frank. About the library fund....”
The front door-bell tingled through the house.
Frances Carr said “Oh hang. All right, I’ll see to it. If it’s Care or Continuation or Library, I shall send it away. You’re not going to do any more business to-night.”
She went to the door, and there, her lithe, drooping slimness outlined against the gas-lit street, stood Nan Hilary.
“Oh, Nan.... But what a late call. Yes, Pamela’s just in from a committee. Tired to death; she’s had neuralgia all this week. She mustn’t sit up late, really. But come along in.”
Nan came into the room, her dark eyes blinking against the gaslight, her small round face pale and smutty. She bent to kiss Pamela, then curled herself up in a wicker chair and yawned.
“The night is damp and dirty. No, no food, thanks. I’ve dined. After dinner I was bored, so I came along to pass the time.... When are you taking your holidays, both of you? It’s time.”
“Pamela’s going for hers next week,” said Frances Carr, handing Nan a cigarette.
“On the contrary,” said Pamela, “Frances is going for hers next week. Mine is to be September this year.”
“Now, we’ve had all this out before, Pam, you know we have. You faithfully promised to take August if your neuralgia came on again, and it has. Tell her she is to, Nan.”
“She wouldn’t do it the more if I did,” Nan said, lazily. These competitions in unselfishness between Pamela and Frances Carr always bored her. There was no end to them. Women are so terrifically self-abnegatory; they must give, give, give, to someone all the time. Women, that is, of the mothering type, such as these. They must be forever cherishing something, sending someone to bed with bread and milk, guarding someone from fatigue.