His exit from Orchid Lodge came hurriedly. Mrs. Sheerug had received a letter telling her that her daughter, Madge, and her younger son, Ruddy, were returning from the visit they had been paying. Consequently, one foggy winter’s afternoon with a tip of four shillings from Hal and of half-a-crown from Mrs. Sheerug—six shillings and sixpence in all towards the necessary five pounds—he was wrapped up and conducted the six doors lower down in the charge of Harriet.The Princess. canada goose factory store The engine halted. He helped her out. “It’s a surprise. You’ll see for yourself.”The scandalized duet of protests continued. Her knight-errants watched her aghast.
“What’s going on in your mind?”“Well?”After long grief and painThe thin man’s feelings were wounded. To the little boy who looked on this was evident from the way he swallowed. His Adam’s-apple took a run up his throat and, at the last moment, thought better of it. “But I was thinking,” he persisted; “thinking that I’d learnt something from stirring up this gray muck. If ever I was to kill somebody—you, for instance, or that boy—I’d know better than to bury you in slaked lime.”“Excuse me,” he said, and with that he drew off his patent-leather shoes and rested his feet on the window ledge to air them.“If you don’t know, I can’t tel! you.”“Call up at eleven,” said Vashti. “Before you go, I may as well introduce you two men. If I don’t, you’ll glower at each other all the way down in the elevator.”He sat with his mother’s letter in his hand—the same kind of letter that years ago Mrs. Sheerug must have penned to Hal. If Hal had preserved them, there must be stacks of them stowed away in the garrets at Orchid Lodge. How selfish lovers were in the price they made others pay! What dearly purchased happiness!Mrs. Sheerug rose and trundled up the steps. Since it was she who had invited his curiosity, Teddy felt a little crestfallen at the injustice of her rebuff. He was preparing to follow her, when he caught the red-headed giantess from the kitchen winking at him as though she would squeeze her eye out of its socket. In her frantic efforts to attract his notice her entire face was convulsed. As the swish of Mrs. Sheerug’s skirts grew faint across the hall, the girl tiptoed over to Teddy and stood staring at him with her fists planted firmly on the table. Slowly she bent down—so slowly that he wondered what was coming.They were halting. She freed her hand and stroked his face daringly. “You’re Meester Deck. Isn’t that enough? Some one whom I love and trust.”After he had paid, he searched round for her. She had gone. It was the first time she had done it; she always waited for him. So she knew what was coming! By her flight she was lengthening by a few more minutes their long uncertainty. In the quiet of the dim-lit room, with the snow gliding past the window, each separate flake tiptoeing like a faery, he would tell her. But would he need to tell her? She would be waiting for him, her face drooping against her shoulder, looking sweet and weary. She would be like a tired child, its mischief forgotten, ready to stretch out its arms and snuggle in his breast. All that need be said would come in broken phrases—phrases which no one but themselves could understand. And then, after that—— She might cry a little. When they were married, perhaps Hal——Vashti met his eyes quietly. “My baby-girl told me something. But how did you discover our address?”“But what about us?” Desire looked blank. “How do we get back?”Teddy wasn’t paying attention to the faery-godmother’s philosophy; he was thinking of Alonzo Sheerug, who had gone away to earn money. He pictured him as a fat explorer, panting off into a wilderness with a pail. When the pail was filled, and not until it was filled, he would return to his wife. That was what men were made for—to be fetch-and-carry persons. Teddy was thinking that if he could reach Mr. Sheerug, he would ask him to carry an extra bucket. canada goose factory store With a quick transition of mood, she sat erect and became severely solemn. “I shan’t be nice all day unless you tell me. But if you do tell me——” The blank was wisely left for his imagination to fill in with eloquent promises. Then, putting all her charm into the question, “Why did you come?” canada goose factory store Vashti felt for her purse in her muff. It wasn’t there. She thought for a minute, then gave the man an address and told him to drive on.Again he scratched his leg; he wished that feminine beauty didn’t make him itch so.He dared not count on her final act of remorse. She was theatrical by temperament. To arrive at the last moment when a ship was sailing had afforded her a fine stage-setting. Her conduct might have meant everything; it might have meant no more than a girl’s display of emotionalism.She smiled at his despair. “The honeymoon ought to come first,” she said. “Every marriage ought to be preceded by a honeymoon.” She spoke slowly. “A—a quite proper affair; it would be almost the same as being married. It’s only by being alone that two people have a chance to find each other out If we could do that without quarreling or getting tired—— What do you say? If you don’t say yes, you may never get another chance.”He was amused by her na茂vet茅. “Perhaps it isn’t But don’t let’s spoil things by talking about it. Let’s be sensible.” In these days it was he who said, “Let’s be sensible.” She pouted when he said it, and accused him of strategy. “Be sweet to me, like you were.”Teddy didn’t kiss her hand. He cuddled down on the hearthrug with his head against her knees, feeling himself like Love in the picture, forever shut out. The soul had vanished from his glorious day. He was hoping that Hal would go; she didn’t seem to belong to him while he stayed. Lunch went by, tea came, and still he stayed. A blind forlornness filled his mind that he couldn’t be a man. In spite of her caresses he felt in his heart that all her promises had been pretense. canada goose factory store Desire stretched it a point further and made it apply to herself. He found that frequently after he had said “Good-by” to her at close on midnight, Fluffy would call with a car and carry her off to make a party of three at supper, or sometimes to join a larger party—mostly of men—in her apartment. He remonstrated with her: “It’s all very well for an actress; but I hate to think of you mixing with all kinds of people whose standards are just anyhow, and playing ’gooseberry’ for two people older than yourself.” canada goose factory store There was his dilemma in a nut-shell. In joining the ranks of the superiorly pure, he was pledged to see purity everywhere. Divorces were pure. Nobody was to blame for anything. People ought to be sympathized with, not punished, when they got into trouble. He seemed to have made lax conventions his own by taking advantage of them for facilitating his courtship. It would look like hypocrisy to disapprove of them after marriage. It was very jolly, for instance, to hear her whisper in the jingling secrecy of a hansom, “Meester Deek, please light me a cigarette.” Very jolly to convey it from his lips to hers, and to watch the red glow of each puff make a cameo of her face against the blackness. But—— And that but was perpetually walking round new corners to confront him—if she were his wife, would the sight of her smoking afford him such abiding happiness? She had taunted him with being a King Arthur. In the presence of her emotional tolerance, which found excuses for everything and ostracized nobody, his sense of propriety seemed a lack of social charity. He guessed the reason for her continual plea that people should be forgiving—her mother. The knowledge silenced his criticisms and roused his compassion.By a dramatic turn of luck their faculty for curious friendships flung the whole Sheerug household, and Jimmie Boy with it, high up on the strand of what Mrs. Sheerug would have termed “a secure nincome.”