But Jean was silent. It was all so different from what one might expect—! She still wore her white dress. It was a rather superlative frock with much cobwebby lace that had been her mother’s, and in the place of her own small string of pearls was the longer string which had been her father’s last gift to her. She had worn no veil, her crinkled copper hair in all its beauty had been uncovered.
“I can’t believe that the lovely, lovely lady at the other end of the table is my wife,” Derry told Miss Emily.
Jean smiled at him. She felt as if she were smiling from a great distance—and she had to look at him over a perfect thicket of orchids. “Shall I always have to sit so far away from you, Derry?” she asked in a very small voice.
“My dearest, no—” and he came and stood behind her, and reached for her little coffee cup and drank where her lips had touched, shamelessly, before the eyes of the sympathetic and romantic Miss Emily.
And now Emily had gone! And at last Jean and Derry were alone in the bridal bower, and Jean was telling Derry again what his father had said. “He begged me to stay—”
Their eyes met. “Dearest, dearest,” Derry said, “what is life doing to me?”
“It has given you me, Derry”—such a little, little whisper.
The next morning they talked it over.
“What am I to do? He needs me more than ever—”
“There must be some way out, Derry.”
But what way? The Tin Soldier had jumped from the shelf, but he had fallen through a crack! And the war was going on without him—!
JEAN PLAYS PROXY
Christmas morning found the General conscious. He was restless until Jean was brought to him. He had a feeling that she had saved him from Hilda. He wanted her where he could see her. “Don’t leave me,” he begged.
She slipped away to eat her Christmas dinner with Derry and Emily and Margaret. It was an early dinner on account of the children. They ate in the big dining room, and after dinner there was a tree, with Ulrich Stoelle playing Father Christmas. It had come about quite naturally that he should be asked. It had been unthinkable that Derry could enter into the spirit of it, so Emily had ventured to suggest Ulrich. “He will make an ideal Santa Claus.”
But it developed that he was not to be Santa Claus at all. He was to be Father Christmas, with a wreath of mistletoe instead of a red cap.
Teddy was intensely curious about the change. “But why isn’t he Santa Claus?” he asked.
“Well, Santa Claus was—made in Germany.”
“But now he has joined the Allies and changed his name.”
“And he wears mistletoe, because mistletoe is the Christmas bush, and red caps don’t really mean anything, do they?”