“Oh, Patty, he has lifted so much doubt!” said the mother, as the two returned to the library. “He has nothing but praise for Miss Challoner. It is quite possible that John will be happy.”
“It is not only possible, mother darling, but probable. For my part, I think her the most charming, most fascinating woman I ever met. And she told me she rides. What jolly times we’ll have together, when John settles down in the new house!”
“The new house!” repeated the mother, biting her lips. “How the word hurts! Patty, why could they not come here? We’ll be so lonely. Yet, it is the law of Heaven that a man and his wife must live by and for themselves.”
Warrington walked home, lightened in spirit. He swung his cane, gave Jove a dozen love-taps and whistled operatic airs. What a charming young creature it was, to be sure! The brain of a woman and the heart of a child. And he had forgotten all about her. Now, of course, his recollection became clear. He remembered a mite of a girl in short frocks, wonder-eyes, and candy-smudged lips. How they grew, these youngsters!
He went into the house, still whistling. Jove ran out into the kitchen to see if by some possible miracle there was another piece of steak in his grub-pan. A dog’s eyes are always close to his stomach. Warrington, finding that everybody had gone to bed, turned out the lights and went up stairs. He knocked on the door of his aunt’s bedroom.
“Is that you, Richard?”
“Yes. May I come in?”
He entered quietly. The moonlight, pouring in through the window, lay blue-white on the counterpane and the beloved old face.
“What is it?” she asked.
He sat down on the edge of the bed and patted her hands.
“Aunty, old lady, I’m through thinking. I’m going to come home just as soon as I can fix up things in New York.”
“Richard, my boy!” Her arms pulled him downward. “I knew it when you came in. I’ve prayed so long for this. God has answered my prayers. I’m so happy. Don’t you remember how you used to tell me all your plans, the plots of your stories, the funny things that had come to you during the day? You used to come home late, but that didn’t matter; you’d always find some pie and cheese and a glass of milk on the kitchen table—the old kitchen table. I’m so glad!”
“It may be a month or so; for I’ll have to sell some of the things. But I’m coming home, I’m coming home.” He bent swiftly and kissed her. “Good night.”