“Well, what did you think of it?” asked Rose when the sisters had reached home and were in the drawing-room. Rose really had considerable respect for Felicia’s judgment of a play.
“I thought it was a pretty fair picture of real life.”
“I mean the acting,” said Rose, annoyed.
“The bridge scene was well acted, especially the woman’s part. I thought the man overdid the sentiment a little.”
“Did you? I enjoyed that. And wasn’t the scene between the two cousins funny when they first learned they were related? But the slum scene was horrible. I think they ought not to show such things in a play. They are too painful.”
“They must be painful in real life, too,” replied Felicia.
“Yes, but we don’t have to look at the real thing. It’s bad enough at the theatre where we pay for it.”
Rose went into the dining-room and began to eat from a plate of fruit and cakes on the sideboard.
“Are you going up to see mother?” asked Felicia after a while. She had remained in front of the drawing-room fireplace.
“No,” replied Rose from the other room. “I won’t trouble her tonight. If you go in tell her I am too tired to be agreeable.”
So Felicia turned into her mother’s room, as she went up the great staircase and down the upper hall. The light was burning there, and the servant who always waited on Mrs. Sterling was beckoning Felicia to come in.
“Tell Clara to go out,” exclaimed Mrs. Sterling as Felicia came up to the bed.
Felicia was surprised, but she did as her mother bade her, and then inquired how she was feeling.
“Felicia,” said her mother, “can you pray?”
The question was so unlike any her mother had ever asked before that she was startled. But she answered: “Why, yes, mother. Why do you ask such a question?”
“Felicia, I am frightened. Your father—I have had such strange fears about him all day. Something is wrong with him. I want you to pray—.”
“Now, here, mother?”
“Yes. Pray, Felicia.”
Felicia reached out her hand and took her mother’s. It was trembling. Mrs. Sterling had never shown such tenderness for her younger daughter, and her strange demand now was the first real sign of any confidence in Felicia’s character.
The girl kneeled, still holding her mother’s trembling hand, and prayed. It is doubtful if she had ever prayed aloud before. She must have said in her prayer the words that her mother needed, for when it was silent in the room the invalid was weeping softly and her nervous tension was over.
Felicia stayed some time. When she was assured that her mother would not need her any longer she rose to go.
“Good night, mother. You must let Clara call me if you feel badly in the night.”
“I feel better now.” Then as Felicia was moving away, Mrs. Sterling said: “Won’t you kiss me, Felicia?”