It was while the family at Huntersfield were at dinner that the telephone rang. Calvin answered, and came in to say that Miss Becky was wanted. She went listlessly. But the first words over the wire stiffened her.
It was George’s voice, quick imploring. Saying that he had something to tell her. That he must see her——
“Let me come, Becky.”
“You mean that I—may——?”
He seemed to hesitate. “But I thought——”
Her laugh was light and clear. “I must get back to my dinner. I have only had my soup. And I am simply—starving——”
It was not what he had expected. Not in the least. As he hung up the receiver he was conscious too of a baffled feeling that Becky had, in a sense, held the reins of the situation.
In spite of her famished condition, Becky did not at once go to the dining-room. She called up King’s Crest, and asked for Randy.
She wanted to know, she said, whether he had anything on for the evening. No? Then could he come over and bring the boarders? Oh, as many of them as would come. And they would dance. She was bored to death. Her laugh was still clear and light, and Randy wondered.
Then she went back to the dinner table and ate the slice of lamb which the Judge had carved for her. She ate mint sauce and mashed potatoes, she ate green corn pudding, and a salad, and watermelon. Her cheeks were red, and Aunt Claudia felt that Becky was looking much better. For how could Aunt Claudia know that everything that Becky ate was like sawdust to her palate. She found herself talking and laughing a great deal, and Truxton teased her.
After dinner she went up-stairs with Mary and showed her a new way to do her hair, and found an entrancing wisp of a frock for Mary to wear.
“It will be great fun having the boarders from King’s Crest. There are a lot of young people of all kinds—and not many of them our kind, Mary.”
Mary smiled at her. “I am not quite your kind, am I?”
“Why not? And oh, Mary, you are happy, happy. And you are lovely with your hair like that, close to your head and satin-smooth.”
Mary, surveying herself in the glass, gave an excited laugh. “Do you know when I married Truxton I never thought of this?”
“Of what?” Becky asked.
“Of pretty clothes—and dances—and dinners. I just knew that he—loved me, and that he had to leave me. But I don’t suppose I could make the world believe it.”
“Truxton believes it, doesn’t he, Mary?”
“And I believe it. And what do you care for the others? It is what we know of ourselves, Mary,” she drew a quick breath. “It is what we know of ourselves——”
Becky was wearing the simple frock of pale blue in which George had seen her on that first night when he came to Huntersfield.