“Tousin Dee,” she murmured, affectionately.
“She’s an adorable kiddie,” Derry told Jean as they found their seats.
“Cousin Derry,” Teddy reminded him, “don’t forget the peanuts.”
And now the trumpets blared and the drums boomed, and the great parade writhed like a glittering serpent around the huge circle, then broke up into various groups as the performance began in the rings.
After that one needed all of one’s eyes. Teddy sat spellbound for a while, but found time at last to draw a long breath. “Cousin Derry, that is the funniest clown—”
“The little one?”
“The big one; oh, well, the little one, too.”
Silence again while the elephants did amazing things in one ring, with Japanese tumblers in another, with piebald ponies beyond, and things being done on trapezes everywhere.
Teddy slipped his hand into Derry’s. “It’s—it’s
almost like having
Daddy,” he confided. “I know he’s glad I’m here.”
Derry’s big hand closed over the small one. “I’m glad, too, old chap.”
Margaret-Mary having gazed her fill, slept comfortably in Jean’s arms.
“Let me hold her,” Derry said.
Jean shook her head. “I love to have her here.”
She had taken off her hat, and as she bent above the child her hair made a halo of gold. In the midst of all the tawdriness she was a still and sacred figure—a Madonna with a child.
Teddy, when he reached home, told the General all about it.
“It was be-yeutiful—but Cousin Jean cwied—–”
“I saw a tear rwunning down her cheek, and it splashed on Margaret-Mary’s nose—”
And that night Derry said, “My darling, what shall I draw in our book?”
“The thing that you want most to remember, Derry.”
So he drew her all in white, bending over a child of dreams.
* * * * * *
The next morning, she told him “Good-bye.” They had come along to the Toy Shop for their farewell, so that there was only the old white elephant to see her tears, and the Lovely Dreams to be sorry for her.
Yet her head was held high at the very last, and she was not sorry for herself. “I am glad and proud to have you go, dearest. I am glad and proud—”
And after he had gone, she worked until lunch time on the bandages and wipes, and rode with the General in the afternoon, with her hand in his, knowing that it comforted him.
But very late that night, when every one else is the big house was fast asleep, she crept out into the hall in her lace robe and lace cap and pink slippers and stood beneath the picture of the painted lady. “He will come back,” she said. “He must come back—and—oh, oh, Derry’s mother in Heaven—you must tell me how to live—without him—.”