In his own house Richard Kenton lay down awhile, deadly sick, and his wife had to bring him brandy before he could control his nerves sufficiently to speak. Then he told her what he had done, and why, and Mary pulled off his shoes and put a hot-water bottle to his cold feet. It was not exactly the treatment for a champion, but Mary Kenton was not thinking of that, and when Richard said he still felt a little sick at the stomach she wanted him to try a drop of camphor in addition to the brandy. She said he must not talk, but she wished him so much to talk that she was glad when he began.
“It seemed to be something I had to do, Mary, but I would give anything if I had not been obliged to do it:
“Yes, I know just how you feel, Dick, and I think it’s pretty hard this has come on you. I do think Ellen might—”
“It wasn’t her fault, Mary. You mustn’t blame her. She’s had more to bear than all the rest of us.” Mary looked stubbornly unconvinced, and she was not moved, apparently, by what he went on to say. “The thing now is to keep what I’ve done from making more mischief for her.”
“What do you mean, Dick? You don’t believe he’ll do anything about it, do you?”
“No, I’m not afraid of that. His mouth is shut. But you can’t tell how Ellen will take it. She may side with him now.”
“Dick! If I thought Ellen Kenton could be such a fool as that!”
“If she’s in love with him she’ll take his part.”
“But she can’t be in love with him when she knows how he acted to your father!”
“We can’t be sure of that. I know how he acted to father; but at this minute I pity him so that I could take his part against father. And I can understand how Ellen—Anyway, I must make a clean breast of it. What day is this Thursday? And they sail Saturday! I must write—”
He lifted himself on his elbow, and made as if to throw off the shawl she had spread upon him.
“No, no! I will write, Dick! I will write to your mother. What shall I say?” She whirled about, and got the paper and ink out of her writing-desk, and sat down near him to keep him from getting up, and wrote the date, and the address, “Dear Mother Kenton,” which was the way she always began her letters to Mrs. Kenton, in order to distinguish her from her own mother. “Now what shall I say?”
“Simply this,” answered Richard. “That I knew of what had happened in New York, and when I met him this morning I cowhided him. Ugh!”
“Well, that won’t do, Dick. You’ve got to tell all about it. Your mother won’t understand.”
“Then you write what you please, and read it to me. It makes me sick to think of it.” Richard closed his eyes, and Mary wrote: