“Of course she has,” I agreed, somewhat lamely. “Every woman has, who is worth her salt.”
Nancy’s smile bespoke a knowledge that seemed to transcend my own.
“You do like her?” I demanded.
“I like her very much indeed,” said Nancy, a little gravely. “She’s simple, she’s real, she has that which so few of us possess nowadays—character. But—I’ve got to be prepared for the possibility that she may not get along with me.”
“Why not?” I demanded.
“There you are again, with your old unwillingness to analyze a situation and face it. For heaven’s sake, now that you have married her, study her. Don’t take her for granted. Can’t you see that she doesn’t care for the things that amuse me, that make my life?”
“Of course, if you insist on making yourself out a hardened, sophisticated woman—” I protested. But she shook her head.
“Her roots are deeper,—she is in touch, though she may not realize it, with the fundamentals. She is one of those women who are race-makers.”
Though somewhat perturbed, I was struck by the phrase. And I lost sight of Nancy’s generosity. She looked me full in the face.
“I wonder whether you can rise to her,” she said. “If I were you, I should try. You will be happier—far happier than if you attempt to use her for your own ends, as a contributor to your comfort and an auxiliary to your career. I was afraid—I confess it—that you had married an aspiring, simpering and empty-headed provincial like that Mrs. George Hutchins’ whom I met once, and who would sell her soul to be at my table. Well, you escaped that, and you may thank God for it. You’ve got a chance, think it over.
“A chance!” I repeated, though I gathered something of her meaning.
“Think it over, said Nancy again. And she smiled.
“But—do you want me to bury myself in domesticity?” I demanded, without grasping the significance of my words.
“You’ll find her reasonable, I think. You’ve got a chance now, Hugh. Don’t spoil it.”
She turned to Leonard Dickinson, who sat on her other side....
When we got home I tried to conceal my anxiety as to Maude’s impressions of the evening. I lit a cigarette, and remarked that the dinner had been a success.
“Do you know what I’ve been wondering all evening?” Maude asked. “Why you didn’t marry Nancy instead of me.”
“Well,” I replied, “it just didn’t come off. And Nancy was telling me at dinner how fortunate I was to have married you.”
Maude passed this.
“I can’t see why she accepted Hambleton Durrett. It seems horrible that such a woman as she is could have married—just for money.
“Nancy has an odd streak in her,” I said. “But then we all have odd streaks. She’s the best friend in the world, when she is your friend.”
“I’m sure of it,” Maude agreed, with a little note of penitence.