With his hands on her shoulders, he gave an easy laugh. “Who knows? But you mustn’t have it on your mind. It isn’t good for you.”
“I shall always have you on my mind—.”
“But not to worry about, baby. I’m not worth it—.”
Hilda came in with the evening paper. “Have you read it, Doctor?”
“No.” He glanced at the headlines and his face grew hard. “More frightfulness,” he said, stormily. “If I had my way, it should be an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. For every man they have tortured, there should be one of their men—tortured. For every child mutilated, one of theirs—mutilated. For every woman—.”
He stopped. Jean had caught hold of his arm. “Don’t, Daddy,” she said thickly, “it makes me afraid of you.” She covered her face with her hands.
He drew her to him and smoothed her hair in silence. Over her head he glanced at Hilda. She was smiling inscrutably into the fire.
The thing that Derry Drake had on his mind the next morning was a tea-cup. There were other things on his mind—things so heavy that he turned with relief to the contemplation of cups.
Stuck all over the great house were cabinets of china—his father had collected and his mother had prized. Derry, himself, had not cared for any of it until this morning, but when Bronson, the old man who served him and had served his father for years, came in with his breakfast, Derry showed him a broken bit which he had brought home with him two nights before. “Have we a cup like this anywhere in the house, Bronson?”
“There’s a lot of them, sir, in the blue room, in the wall cupboard.”
“I thought so, let me have one of them. If Dad ever asks for it, send him to me. He broke the other, so it’s a fair exchange.”
He had it carefully wrapped and carried it downtown with him. The morning was clear, and the sun sparkled on the snow. As he passed through Dupont Circle he found that a few children and their nurses had braved the cold. One small boy in a red coat ran to Derry.
“Where are you going, Cousin Derry?”
“To-day is Margaret-Mary’s birf-day. I am going to give her a wabbit—.”
“Rabbit, Buster. You’d better say it quick. Nurse is on the way.”
“Rab-yit. What are you going to give her?”
“Oh, must I give her something?”
“Of course. Mother said you’d forget it. I wanted to telephone, and she wouldn’t let me.”
“Would a doll do?”
“I shouldn’t like a doll. But she is littler. And you mustn’t spend much money. Mother said I spent too much for my rab-yit. That I ought to save it for Our Men. And you mustn’t eat what you yike—we’ve got a card in the window, and there wasn’t any bacon for bref-fus.”