“No. You’d feel the same way, dear child, about Derry.”
“No. I should not. I shouldn’t feel that way at all. I should die—if I lost Derry—”
Light leaped in her lover’s eyes. But he shook his head. “She’d bear it like other brave women. She doesn’t know herself, Margaret.”
“None of us do. Do you suppose that the wives and mothers of France ever dreamed that it would be their fortitude which would hold the enemy back?”
“Do you think it did, really?” Jean asked her.
“I know it. It has been a barrier as tangible as a wall of rock.”
“You put an awful responsibility upon the women.”
“Why not? They are the mothers of men.”
They sat down after that; and Jean listened frozenly while Margaret and Derry talked. The children in front of the fire were looking at the pictures in a book which Derry had brought.
Teddy, stretched at length on the rug in his favorite attitude, was reading to Margaret-Mary. His mop of bright hair, his flushed cheeks, his active gestures spoke of life quick in his young body—.
And his father was—dead—!
Oh, oh, Mothers of men—!
HILDA BREAKS THE RULES
It was Dr. McKenzie who told Hilda of Jean’s engagement to Derry Drake.
“I thought it best for them not to say anything to the General until he is better. So you may consider it confidential, Hilda.”
She had come to his office to help him with his books. The nurse who somewhat inadequately supplied her place was having an afternoon off. The Doctor had been glad to see her, and had told her so. “I am afraid things are in an awful muddle.”
“Not so bad that they can’t be straightened out in an hour or two.”
“I don’t see why you insist upon staying on the General’s case. I shouldn’t have sent you if I had thought you’d keep at it like this.”
“I always keep at things when I begin them, don’t I?”
He knew that she did. It was one of the qualities which made her valuable. “I believe that you are staying away to let me see how hard it is to get along without you.”
“It wouldn’t be a bad idea, but that’s not the reason. I am staying because I like the case.” She shifted the topic away from herself.
“People will say that Jean has played her cards well.”
He blazed, “What do you mean, Hilda?”
“He has a great deal of money.”
“What has that to do with it?”
Her smile was irritating. “Oh, I know you are not mercenary. But a million or two won’t come amiss in any girl’s future—and two country houses, and a house in town.”
“You seem to know all about it.”
“The General talks a lot—and anyhow, all the world knows it. It’s no secret.”