“And give Allison as much money as we spent on the automobile and for the suits and everything, and pay for fixing up his car,” interrupted Juliet.
“We want to do everything,” Romeo said, with marked emphasis.
“Everything,” echoed Juliet.
“That’s very nice of you,” answered Madame, kindly, “and we all appreciate it.”
The stem young faces of the twins relaxed ever so little. It was a great relief to discover that they were not objects of scorn and loathing, for they had brooded over the accident until they had become morbid.
“Did you say that you had been living upon mush and milk ever since?” asked Madame.
“Ever since,” they answered, together.
“I’m sure that’s long enough,” she said. “I wouldn’t do it any longer. Won’t you stay to dinner with us?”
With one accord the twins rose, impelled by a single impulse toward departure.
“We couldn’t,” said Romeo.
“We mustn’t,” explained Juliet. Then, with belated courtesy, she added: “Thank you, just the same.”
They made their adieux awkwardly and went home, greatly eased in mind. As they trudged along the dusty road, they occasionally sighed in relief, but said little until they reached their ancestral abode, dogless now save for the pups gambolling about the doorstep and Minerva watching them with maternal pride.
“She said we’d lived on mush and milk long enough,” said Romeo, pensively.
“We might fry the mush,” Juliet suggested.
“And have butter and maple syrup on it?”
“And drink the milk, and have bread, too?”
“I guess so.”
“Not while we’re in mourning,” said Juliet, firmly. “We can have syrup on our bread.”
“That’s just as good.”
“If you think so, you ought not to have it.”
“We’ve got to feed ourselves, or we’ll die,” he objected vigorously, “and if we’re dead, we won’t be any good to him or to anybody else, and we can’t ever repent any more.”
“I’m not so sure about that.” said Juliet, with sinister emphasis.
“Nothing will happen to us that we don’t deserve,” Romeo assured her, “so come on and let’s have jam. If it makes us sick, it’s wrong, and if it doesn’t, it’s all right.”
The following day, they voluntarily returned to their mush and milk, for they had eaten too much jam, and, having been very ill in the night, considered it sufficient evidence that their penance was not yet over.
“Less than the dust”
The heat of August shimmered over the land, and still, to every inquiry at the door or telephone, the quiet young woman in blue and white said: “No change.” Allison was listless and apathetic, yet comparatively free from pain.
Life, for him, had ebbed back to the point where the tide must either cease or turn. He knew neither hunger nor thirst nor weariness; only the great pause of soul and body, the sense of the ultimate goal.