She remembered now the thing that her father had said on the night after “Cinderella.”
“If I had my way, it should be an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. For every man that they have tortured, we must torture one of theirs. For every child mutilated, we must mutilate a child—for every woman—”
Her Daddy had said that. Her kind and tender Daddy. Was that what the war made of men? Would Daddy and Derry, when they went over, do that? Torture and mutilate? Would they, would they? And would they come back after that and expect her to love them and live with them?
Well, she wouldn’t. She would not. She would be afraid of them—of both of them.
If they loved her, they would stay with her. They wouldn’t go away and leave her to be afraid—alone and crying in the dark, with all of those dead voices.
* * * * * *
Emily tapped at the door. Came in. “My dear, my dear—. Oh, my poor little Jean.”
* * * * * *
After a long time her father was there, and he was giving her a white tablet and a drink of water.
“It will quiet her nerves, Emily. I didn’t dream that she would take it like this.”
The next morning Jean was ill. Derry, having the news conveyed to him over the telephone, rushed in to demand tragically of Dr. McKenzie, “Was it my fault?”
“It was the fault of too much excitement. Seventh heaven with you for hours, and then my news on top of it.”
The Doctor explained. “It is going to tear me to pieces if she takes it like this. She was half-delirious all night, and begged and begged—”
“She doesn’t want you to go?”
The Doctor ran his fingers through his hair. “Well, we’ve been a lot to each other. But she’s such a little sport—and patriotic—nobody more so. She won’t feel this way when she’s herself again.”
Derry stood drearily at the window looking out. “You think then she won’t be able to see me for several days? I had planned such a lot of things.”
The Doctor dropped a hand on the boy’s shoulder. “Life has a way of spoiling our plans, hasn’t it? I had hoped for old age with Jean’s mother.”
That was something for youth to think of—of life spoiling things—of lonely old age!
“I wish,” Derry said, after a pause, “that you’d let me marry her before you go.”
“No, no,” sharply, “she’s too young, Drake. And you haven’t known each other long enough.”
“Things move rapidly in these days, sir.”
The Doctor agreed. “It is one of the significant developments. We had become material. And now fire and flame. But all the more reason why I should keep my head. Jean will be safe here with Emily. And you may go any day.”