MADAM BOWKER’S BLESSING
“If you like I’ll go up and tell your grandmother,” said Craig, breaking the silence as they neared the hotel. But Margaret’s brain had resumed its normal function, was making up for the time it had lost. With the shaking off of the daze had come amazement at finding herself married. In the same circumstances a man would have been incapacitated for action; Craig, who had been so reckless, so headlong a few minutes before, was now timid, irresolute, prey to alarms. But women, beneath the pose which man’s resolute apotheosis of woman as the embodiment of unreasoning imagination has enforced upon them, are rarely so imaginative that the practical is wholly obscured. Margaret was accepting the situation, was planning soberly to turn it to the best advantage. Obviously, much hung upon this unconventional, this vulgarly-sensational marriage being diplomatically announced to the person from whom she expected to get an income of her own. “No,” said she to Joshua, in response to his nervously-made offer. “You must wait down in the office while I tell her. At the proper time I’ll send for you.”
She spoke friendlily enough, with an inviting suggestion of their common interests. But Craig found it uncomfortable even to look at her. Now that the crisis was over his weaknesses were returning; he could not believe he had dared bear off this “delicate, refined creature,” this woman whom “any one can see at a glance is a patrician of patricians.” That kind of nervousness as quickly spreads through every part, moral, mental and physical, of a man not sure of himself as a fire through a haystack. He could not conceal his awe of her. She saw that something was wrong with him; being herself in no “patrician” mood, but, on the contrary, in a mood that was most humanly plebeian, she quite missed the cause of his clumsy embarrassment and constraint; she suspected a sudden physical ailment. “It’ll be some time, I expect,” said she. “Don’t bother to hang around. I’ll send a note to the desk, and you can inquire—say, in half an hour or so.”
“Half an hour!” he cried in dismay. Whatever should he do with himself, alone with these returned terrors, and with no Margaret there to make him ashamed not to give braver battle to them.
“An hour, then.”
She nodded, shook hands with a blush and a smile, not without its gleam of appreciation of the queerness of the situation. He lifted his hat, made a nervous, formal bow and turned away, though no car was there. As the elevator was starting up with her he came hurrying back.
“One moment,” he said. “I quite forgot.”
She joined him and they stood aside, in the shelter of a great wrap-rack. “You can tell your grandmother—it may help to smooth things over—that my appointment as Attorney-General will be announced day after to-morrow.”