Anderson held out his hand to Charlotte. “Good-night,” he said, hastily, “and I hope you will feel no ill effects to-morrow from your fright.” Then he was gone before Charlotte could say anything more.
“It’s an awful shindy,” Eddy said, still in that tone of strange glee, to his sister. To his great amazement, she caught him suddenly by his arm, the hurt one, but he did not flinch.
The girl began to cry. “Oh, Eddy!” she sobbed, pitifully. “Oh, Eddy dear!”
“What are you crying for, Charlotte?” asked Eddy, giving his head a rough caressing duck against hers. “Papa’s enough for them; you know that. He ain’t a mite scared.”
Anderson, as he went away that night, had before his eyes Charlotte’s little face, the intensity of which had seemed to make it fairly luminous in the dim light, as she had turned it towards him. There was in that face at once unreasoning and childish anger that he was there at all, and in a measure a witness of the distress and disgrace of herself and her family, and a piteous appeal for help—at once a forbidding and a beseeching. For Anderson, naturally, the forbidding seemed most in evidence as an impulse to action. He felt that he must withdraw immediately and save them all the additional mortification that he could. So he hurried away down the road, with the girl’s face before his eyes, and the sound of the scolding voice in the house in his ears. The voice carried far. In spite of the wrath in it, it was a sweet, almost a singing, voice, high-pitched but sonorous. It was the voice of little Willy Eddy’s German wife, and it came from a pair of strong lungs in a well-developed chest, and was actuated by a strong and indignant spirit. Arthur Carroll, listening to her, was conscious of an absurdly impersonal sentiment of something like admiration. The young woman was really in a manner superb. The occasion was trivial, even ignoble. Carroll felt contemptuous both for her and for himself, and yet she dignified it to a degree. Minna Eddy was built on a large scale; she was both muscular and stout. Her short, blue-woollen skirt, increasing with its fulness her firm hips, disclosed generously her sturdy feet and ankles, which had a certain beauty of fitness as pedestals of support for her great bulk of femininity. She had come out just as she had been about her household tasks, and her cotton blouse, of an incongruous green-figured pattern, was open at the neck, disclosing a meeting of curves in a roseate crease, and one sleeve, being badly worn, revealed a pink boss of elbow. Minna Eddy had a distinctly handsome face, so far as feature and color went. It was a harmonious combination of curves and dimples, all overspread with a deep bloom, as of milk and roses, and her fair hair was magnificent. She had a marvellous growth both for thickness and length, and it was plaited smoothly, covering the back of the head as with a mat.