“How dare you say such things to me, Sally?” she whispered. “Do you absolutely forget that I’m your mother; that in pain and agony I brought you into the world, and nursed and fed you to life?”
“No, I don’t forget that,” said Sally, quietly. “But why do you think so much of yourself? Why can’t you think a little of that poor woman up in London, trying to shield Maurie from all the horror of this divorce case which now so easily may come to his ears? Why can’t you let her leave him here in peace? She suffered just the same agony as you; but she’s suffering it still—and you—you’re as hard as you can be.”
Mrs. Bishop paled with anger. Accusations, epithets, abuse, were the only words that bubbled to her lips.
“You’re just as much a fool as your father!” she said chokingly. “He reduced us to this because he was a fool!”
“You know where it’s written,” Sally remarked, “’He that calleth his brother a fool.’” In a text-quoting atmosphere, she felt that a remark of this kind would carry more weight.
“Yes; but are you my brother? That’s identically the same sort of remark that your father would have made.”
“I see,” said Sally, “you read your Bible literally. All good Christians do—sometimes. And you could call father a fool! If you had half the Christianity in you that he had in him, I shouldn’t be shocking Elsie by breaking the fifth commandment.”
The rumbling of the old vehicle outside mercifully put an end to that interview and, once in the train, Sally took Maurie in her arms, pressing his head silently to her breast.
“We’re going to see mummie,” she kept on telling him. “Mummie’ll be at the station to meet us;” and she had to listen to the exclamations of delight that fell mercilessly from his lips.
From a photograph that Maurie had had upon the mantelpiece in his little room, she recognized the tall, stately lady as the train slowed down into the station. Maurie had been leaning out of the carriage and was frantically waving a handkerchief as she walked after them.
“That’s mummie—that’s mummie!” he said repeatedly, looking back into the carriage at her.
Each time she nodded her head and said to herself, “Now it’s all over—now it’s all over;” and standing behind him, holding him gently back until the train stopped, she waited stoically for the last moment.
Directly it came to a standstill, Maurie jumped out of the train, and when, a moment later, she descended from their carriage, she could see the little fair head half hidden in the mother’s arms.
Nervously, reticently, she approached them. Then Mrs. Priestly looked up and the sad grey eyes rested on Sally. She held out her hand in hesitating embarrassment.
“You are Miss Bishop?” she said.
Sally inclined her head.
“Maurie talked about you in every letter he wrote me.”
“I—I think we were friends,” said Sally.