“Another thing which I find odd, is the attitude of Benis himself. He is quite alive, painfully so, to the drift of the thing. Yet he does nothing. And this is not in keeping with his character. He is the type of man who, in spite of an unassertive manner, holds what he has with no uncertain grasp. Why, then, does he let this one thing go? The logical deduction is that he knows that he never had it. All of which, being interpreted, means that things may happen here through the sheer inertia of other things. Almost every day I think, ‘Something ought to be done.’ But I know I shall never do it. I am not the novelist’s villainess who arranges a compromising situation and produces the surprised husband from behind a door. Neither am I a peacemaker or an altruist. I am not selfish enough in one way nor un-selfish enough in another. (Probably that is why life has lost interest in my special case.) Even my emotions are hopelessly mixed. There are times when I find myself viciously hoping that Madam Composure will go the limit and that right quickly. And there are other times when I feel I should like to choke her into a proper realization of what she is risking. Not for her sake—I’m far too feminine for that—but because I hate to see her play with this man (whom I like myself) and get away with it.”
It is worth while remembering the closing sentences of this letter. They explain, or partially explain, a certain future action on the part of the writer, which might otherwise seem out of keeping with her well denned attitude of “Mary first.”
“There is one thing which I simply do not understand.” Miss Davis dug the point of a destructive parasol into the well-kept gravel of the drive and allowed a glance of deep seriousness to drift from under the shadow of her hat. Unfortunately, her companion was not attending.
It was the day of Mrs. Burton Jones’ garden party, the Bainbridge event for which Miss Davis was, presumably, staying over. Mary, in a new frock of sheerest grey and most diaphanous white, and a hat which lay like a breath of mist against the gold of her hair, had come down early. In the course of an observant career, she had learned that, in one respect at least, men are like worms. They are inclined to be early. Mary had often profited by this bit of wisdom, and was glad that so few other women seemed to realize its importance. One can do much with ten or fifteen uninterrupted minutes.
But today Mary had not done much. She had found Benis, as she expected, on the front steps. They had talked for quite ten minutes without an interruption—but also without any reason to deplore one.
This was failure. And Mary, whose love of the chase grew as the quarry proved shy, was beginning to be seriously annoyed with Benis. He might at least play up! Even now he was not looking at her, and he did not ask her what it was that she simply did not understand. Mary decided that he deserved something—a pin-prick at least.