Miraculously Derry’s voice came over the wire. Was she going to the dance at the Willard? The one for the benefit of the Eye and Ear Hospital? The President and his wife would be there—the only ball they had attended this season—everybody would be there. Could he come for Jean and her father? And he’d bring Drusilla and Marion Gray. She knew Drusilla?
Jean on tiptoe. Oh, yes. But she was not sure about her father.
She flew on winged feet and explained excitedly.
“Tonight? Tonight, Jean?”
“But what time is it?”
“Only ten. He’ll come at eleven—”
“But you can’t leave Emily alone, dear.”
“Emily won’t mind—darling—will you, Emily?”
“Of course not. I am often alone.”
It was said quietly, without bitterness, but Dr. McKenzie was quite suddenly and unreasonably moved by the thought of all that Emily had missed. He felt it utterly unfair that she should sit alone by an empty hearth while he and Jean frivolled. He had never thought of Hilda by an empty hearth—and she had been often alone—but there was this which made the difference, he would not have asked Hilda to meet his daughter’s friends. She had her place in his household, but it was not the place which Emily filled.
Yet he missed her. He missed her blond picturesqueness at the dinner table, her trim whiteness as she served him in his office.
He came back to the question of Emily. “You can tell Drake we will go, if Emily can accompany us.”
“But, Doctor, I’d rather not.”
“I’m not included in the invitation.”
“Don’t be self-conscious.”
“And I haven’t anything to wear.”
“You never looked better than you do at this moment. And Jean can get you that scarf of her mother’s with the jet and spangles.”
“The peacocky one—oh, yes, Daddy.” Jean danced back to the telephone.
Derry was delighted to include Miss Bridges. “Bring a dozen if you wish.”
“I don’t want a dozen. I want just Daddy and Emily.”
Laughter singing along the wire. “May I come now?”
“I have to change my dress.”
“In an hour, then?”
“I can’t really believe that we are going together!”
A MAN WITH MONEY
White and silver for Jean, the peacocky scarf making Emily shine with the best of them, Dr. McKenzie called away at the last moment, and promising to join them later; Derry catching his breath when he saw his violets among Jean’s laces; Drusilla wondering a little at this transfigured Derry; Marion Gray settling down to the comfort of a chat with Emily—what had these to do with a Tin Soldier on a shelf?