Thus she weighed her influence over the sleeping sick man, thus she dreamed, calm as fate in her white uniform.
Drusilla Gray’s little late suppers were rather famous. It was not that she spent so much money, but that she spent much thought.
Tonight she was giving Captain Hewes a sweet potato pie. “He has never eaten real American things,” she said to Jean. “Nice homey-cooked things—”
“No one but Drusilla would ever think of pie at night,” said Marion Gray, “but she has set her heart on it.”
There were some very special hot oyster sandwiches which preceded the pie—peppery and savory with curls of bacon.
“I hope you are hungry,” said Drusilla as her big black cook brought them in. “Aunt Chloe hates to have things go back to the kitchen.”
Nothing went back. There was snow without, a white whirl in the air, piling up at street corners, a night for young appetites to be on edge.
“Jove,” said the Captain, as he leaned back in his chair, “how I shall miss all this!”
Jean turned her face towards him, startled. “Miss it?”
“Yes. I am going back—got my orders today.”
Drusilla was cutting the pie. “Isn’t it glorious?”
Jean gazed at her with something like horror. Glorious! How could Drusilla go on, like Werther’s Charlotte, calmly cutting bread and butter? Captain Hewes loved her, anybody with half an eye could see that—and whether she loved him or not, he was her friend—and she called his going “glorious!”
“I was afraid my wound might put me on the shelf,” the Captain said.
“He is ordered straight to the front,” Drusilla elucidated. “This is his farewell feast.”
After that everything was to Jean funeral baked meats. The pie deep in its crust, rich with eggs and milk, defiant of conservation, was as sawdust to her palate.
Well, she couldn’t understand Margaret. She couldn’t understand Drusilla. She didn’t want to understand them.
“Some day I shall go over,” Drusilla was saying. “I shall drive something—it may be a truck and it may be an ambulance. But I can’t sit here any longer doing nothing.”
“I think you are doing a great deal,” said Jean. “Look at the committees you are managing.”
“Oh, things like that,” said Drusilla contemptuously. “Women’s work. I’m not made to knit and keep card indexes. I want a man’s job.”
There was something almost boyish about her as she said it. She had parted her hair on the side, which heightened the effect. “In the old days,” she told Captain Hewes, “I should have worn doublet and hose and have gone as your page.”
“Happy old days—.”
“And I should have written a ballad about you,” said Marion, “and have sung it to the accompaniment of my harp—and my pot-boilers would never have been. And we should all have worn trains and picturesque headdresses instead of shirtwaists and sports hats, and I should have called some man ‘my Lord,’ and have listened for his footsteps instead of ending my days in single blessedness with a type-writer as my closest companion.”