I mailed the letter to Peggy by special delivery, and just now I asked Tom if he didn’t think it was wise.
“I can tell you better, my dear, day after tomorrow,” he replied. And that was all I could get out of him.
“The Happy Family.”—It is day after tomorrow, and Tom and I are going to take the noon train home. Our purpose, or at least my purpose, to this effect has been confirmed, if not created, by the following circumstances:
Yesterday, a few hours after I had parted from Harry Goward in the blue writing-room of “The Happy Family,” Tom received from father a telegram which ran like this:
“Off for Washington—that Gooch business. Shall take Peggy. Child needs change. Will stop over from Colonial Express and lunch Happy Family. Explicitly request no outsider present. Can’t have appearance of false position. Shall take her directly out of New York, after luncheon. Cyrus Talbert.”
Torn between filial duty and sisterly affection, I sat twirling this telegram between my troubled fingers. Tom had dashed it there and blown off somewhere, leaving me, as he usually does, to make my own decisions. Should I tell Harry? Should I not tell Harry? Was it my right? Was it not his due? I vibrated between these inexorable questions, but, like the pendulum I was, I struck no answer anywhere. I had half made up my mind to let matters take their own course. If Goward should happen to call on me when Peggy, flying through New York beneath her father’s stalwart wing, alighted for the instant at “The Happy Family”—was I to blame? Could I be held responsible? It struck me that I could not. On the other hand, father could not be more determined than I that Peggy should not be put into the apparent position of pursuing an irresolute, however repentant, lover. ... I was still debating the question as conscientiously and philosophically as I knew how, when the bell-boy brought me a note despatched by a district messenger, and therefore constitutionally delayed upon the way.
The letter was from my little sister’s fiance, and briefly said:
“My dear Mrs. Price,—I cannot tell you how I thank you for your sisterly sympathy and womanly good sense. You have cleared away a lot of fog out of my mind. I don’t feel that I can wait an unnecessary hour before I see Peggy. I should like to be with her as soon as the letter is. If you will allow me to postpone my appointment with yourself, I shall start for Eastridge by the first train I can catch to-day.
“Henry T. Goward.”
IX. THE MOTHER
by Edith Wyatt