Mary remembered a day when she and Truxton Beaufort had stood in the wide hall.
“A great old bunch,” Truxton had said.
“If they were my ancestors I should be afraid of them.”
“Oh, they’d expect so much of me.”
“Oh, that,” Truxton said airily, “who cares what they expect?”
Mr. and Mrs. Flippin came home in time for supper. The nurse had arrived and the surgeons would follow in the morning. “It’s dreadful, Mary,” Mrs. Flippin said, “to see her poor husband; money isn’t everything. And he loves her as much as if they were poor.”
Daisy washed the dishes in a perfect whirl of energy, donned her high-heeled slippers and her Washington manner, and went off with John. It was late that night when Mrs. Flippin went out to find Mary busy.
“My dear,” she said, “what are you doing?”
Mary was rolling out pastry, with ice in a ginger-ale bottle. “I am going to make some tarts. There was a can of raspberries left—and—and well—I’m just hungry for—raspberry tarts, Mother.”
It was the Judge who told Becky that Dalton had not gone. “Mrs. Waterman is very ill, and they are all staying down.”
Becky showed no sign of what the news meant to her, but that night pride and love fought in the last ditch. It seemed to Becky that with Dalton at King’s Crest the agony of the situation was intensified.
“Oh, why should I care?” she kept asking herself as she sat late by her window. “He doesn’t. And I have known him only three weeks. Why should he count so much?”
She knew that he counted to the measure of her own constancy. “I can’t bear it,” she said over and over again pitifully, as the hours passed. “I think I shall—die.”
It seemed to her that she wanted more than anything in the whole wide world to see him for a moment—to hear the quick voice—to meet the sparkle of his glance.
Well, why not? If she called him—he would come. She was sure of that. He was staying away because he thought that she cared. And he didn’t want her to care. But he was not really—cruel—and if she called him——
She wandered around the room, stopping at a window and going on, stopping at another to stare out into the starless night. There had been rain, and there was that haunting wet fragrance from the garden. “I must see him,” she said, and put her hand to her throat.
She went down-stairs. Everybody was in bed. There was no one to hear. Her grandfather’s room was over the library; Mandy and Calvin slept in servants’ quarters outside. To-morrow the house would be full of ears—and it would be too late.
A faint light burned in the lower hall. The stairway swept down from a sort of upper gallery, and all around the gallery and on the stairs and along the lower hall were the portraits of Becky’s dead and gone ancestors.