Fiction

CHANGE OF SCENE

Ever get fed up with it all, even the people you love? Then you'll want to read this powerful story

ANN FOSTER November 1 1947
Fiction

CHANGE OF SCENE

Ever get fed up with it all, even the people you love? Then you'll want to read this powerful story

ANN FOSTER November 1 1947

CHANGE OF SCENE

ANN FOSTER

Ever get fed up with it all, even the people you love? Then you'll want to read this powerful story

IT WAS eight o’clock in the morning. Murray padded into the bathroom and cleared his throat with vigor.

His wife’s voice, level and oversweet, charged into his thoughts. “For heaven’s sake, Murray–do you have to make such frightful noises every time you get into the bathroom?”

He turned the cold faucet on full so that he might not hear the rest of what she was saying, without seeming to ignore her deliberately.

But Hilda was not to be put off so easily. With a sudden irritable onslaught of energy she swung her legs over the edge of the bed, thrust her feet into a pair of mules, flung a thin silk robe about her slender shoulders and went swiftly to the door of the bathroom: “Murray, for goodness sake, can’t

you hear me when 1 speak to you ?”

Murray sighed. He supposed a dozen other married couples within earshot of the house were probably carrying on in much the same manner. The thought discouraged him. He switched the faucet off abruptly and turned toward his wife. “Look, Hilda can’t you leave a man alone when—”

She was standing angrily in the doorway, her golden hair falling over her shoulders, the gentle rise of her breasts marked beneath her gown. He glanced at her eyes: they were the same lovely, level blue eyes t hat had first attracted him; the kind that looked back at a man with a man’s directness, yet held beneath their deep color and brightness a woman’s tenderness and calm under-

standing. He couldn’t understand what had happened to her lately. As far as he knew he’d always cleared his throat first thing in the morning. It was only lately that Hilda had noticed it. Now, this morning, she was making an issue of it.

“Not feeling well tired, Hilda?” he asked, making his voice sound casual, lifting his eyebrows at her wit h a half-humorous, half-quizzical glance.

She did not answer him.

He laughed then, uncomfortably. He knew things had been pretty boring for Hilda. They’d always dreamed of taking a trip away somewhere together, as soon as their small son Jamey was old enough. They’d dreamed of doing a great number of things together during the first year or so of their marriage. But, the years had moved slowly as far as his work was concerned. And there had never been any money to spare. Then the war had come. That had changed everything. They’d grown closer than ever to each other during the few months before he’d left for overseas. “Life will stand st ill for me while you’re away, Murray,” she’d told him on that last dawn they’d watched together from the safety and peace of t heir wide bed.

On his return from overseas he’d decided to play safe. He’d found himself out of the swim of things. So, rather than starting up his own architect’s office as he’d intended, he’d gone in with his former partners Ed Purcell and Jake. Even now things were moving slowly. It had been very dull for Hilda, he supposed.

She was still standing at t he door of the bat hroom watching him shave with a moody, desperate expression in her eyes. At last she turned her back upon him slowly. “I’m sorry,” she murmured, as if to herself, “but I wish to heaven you’d behave like a civilized person—”

Murray continued to slide the razor over his lean cheeks and gazed back at his intent, bewildered grey eyes in t he small mirror. He felt the vigor of the morning, the pleasant strength of his muscles, the keenness in his brain for the work ahead of him at the office, suddenly become nothing more than t he half-hearted life any man might feel on any dull morning of a day t hat st retched uninvitingly ahead. Lately Hilda had done this to him: with a word or a look she had emptied him completely of some buoyancy; some eagerness of heart and mind.

He finished shaving, sluiced water over his razor blade, put it carefully on the shelf, dried the razor on t he towel and rubbed cologne on his face.

“Hey, dad, how much longer you goin’ to be?”

Jamey’s voice outside the door: a young, clear, vigorous voice. Lord, Murray startled himself by thinking, what happened to a kid like that, when a marriage began to dissolve?

“Come right in, son,” he called out, “I’m through

HILDA could hear them in the bathroom together. She silt before her mirror and idled with the pins, tiny and gold-colored, as she placed them in her hair. She knew' she should be putting the coffee on. Murray was always in a hurry at the last minute. And Jamey had asked for a pair of clean shorts for the hike he and Tim, his friend, were making into the woods today. She’d have to iron them.

She had t he two gleaming, gold braids pinned on top of her head at last and stood up before the mirror. Suddenly aware of the suppleness of her young body she turned about for a moment and looked at the long white curve of her back. Her

energy and youth were all being wasted, if you wanted to look at it one way, she told herself: keeping house for Murray in the same pennysaving, half-scared way, week after week, year after year. Oh, she knew that during the war she’d have given anything in the world to have Murray back. She’d have literally lived in a one-room shack, providing it could have been with Murray and Jamey.

But the w'ar was over. The living of life and marriage was merely a routine now; a routine that was beginning to bore her. The tenseness and excitement, the breathless moments of parting and meeting; the letters, the long-distance calls, the passion and longing they had known for each other were missing. Murray was immersed in blueprints for buildings that, couldn’t be built. Ed and Jake were always after him for something or ot her, even on week ends. There was never enough money for a trip fart her than a few hundred miles away. Jamey was growing like a sapling and boys’ clothes were a fabulous price.

And that wasn’t all: there were a hundred million things that only a woman knew about. At night, for instance. A few years ago, especially before Murray left, and after his return, their nights together had held hours to dream about, to look forward to. Murray had noticed her hair, her skin, a hundred things. She remembered the night he’d sat on the edge of the bed beside her. “Never cut your hair, Hilda,” he’d said, taking the long fine strands into his large hands, holding them against his face, “It’s so lovely—”

Now, after studying for hours, Murray would fall into bed beside her tired out and worried. He’d either fall right asleep or lie beside her and talk about plans for this or that building. He’d teil her this or t hat about Ed or Jake. He’d speak of Jamey with a tender longing in his voice that she had once known only for herself. How was he getting along at school? What did she think they should do for him in the future? It was a hell of a world anyway, wasn’t it, for a youngster? They were all things removed from her own person. They were the stuff of which marriage was made, she supposed, but. she wasn’t sure she could be happy with it -even endure it. If marriage was an everlasting sameness of movement and duty and care with very little song to liven it, it was pretty hard to take and one felt like a trapped animal without hope of escape.

She slipped into a long, dark-blue housedress with a white frill about the neck that accented her fair hair and went slowly through the quiet light and shadows of t he house, down the stairs.

She wished she could get a hold upon herself,

shake herself out of the mood of boredom and futility that had been so persistently hers lately. She stood still in the middle of the kitchen for a moment and wondered suddenly if a change ot scene would not accomplish what she needed. Perhaps she should go away for a while. She never had been afraid of life until lately. Never, really, afraid of routine either. But she knew that if her days went on much longer as they had been doing, she would say or do something to Murray or Jamey that would spell bitterness, hurt and probably tragedy for all of them.

That was how things happened. You didn’t hurt people after months of planning. You hurt those you loved suddenly, like throwing a knife. And the end of what you’d forgotten was happiness came just as suddenly, as a rule. Take Connie, for instance. Connie had gone on and on, nagging away at Ralph wit hout any apparent reason. Then, one morning, presto, they’d both had it. Boom! just like that. Neither Connie nor Ralph really seemed to know exactly what happened that day. But the fact remained they were now getting a divorce and eleven-year-old Bernice

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was restless, unhappy and insecure. Perhaps if Connie had just gone away for a change, if only off to the lake somewhere for a week or so, it might not have happened.

“Hi, mom!— got my shorts ready? Or wül I wear these unt il you’ve ironed ’em?”

She turned to find Jamey standing in the door, his face shining with dried soap, his lean, tanned body naked except for a pair of pyjama trousers.

“Honestly, Jamey!”

“Oh, heck, it’s so hot mom, and if my shorts aren’t ready what’s the diff . . .?”

“How many times have I told you not to abbreviate words like that? and go right upstairs and put on something decent.”

“Oh, mom—!”

“Did you hear me, Jamey?”

As he went she knew her impatience was unreasonable, her irritability unjustified. She watched Jamey mount the stairs with a listlessness that had been absent when he’d entered the kitchen a few minutes before. She was quite aware that she had removed, as with a wet cloth, the shining surface of Jamey’s day.

SHE PUT the coffee on, began to prepare eggs, slice bread for toast. Then she stood for a moment staring out the window.

In the leaf-burdened elm tree, to the left of the small garden, a thrush was singing: a sweet sound on so young and quiet a morning; a song that would have made something inside her rejoice a few months ago; would have caused her to call up the stairs to Murray: “Listen—do you hear that bird—?” And Murray’s answer would have come down to her: “Uh-uh.”

But she’d have known he was listening, his head cocked to one side as he fixed the knot in his tie before the mirror. Now, the only feeling she had was a dull feeling that it was the .same song from the same bird in the same tree she’d been looking at for as long as she cared to remember. She glanced at the deep splash of crimson against the green of the lawn. The wild rose bushes were blooming, fat and fragrant as ever. Dew lay on the grass Jamey had cut the evening before and the drenched, sweet smell of the earth and mown grass came in through the window to mix with the scent of brewing coffee. It spoke of a hundred waking, happy hours, a thousand tender moods.

“Smells good!” Murray’s voice, with a gentle, forced cheerfulness behind it plunged into her thoughts. His tone of oh, come on Hilda, things are notas bad as all that, irritated her almost beyond endurance.

But she must not lose control of herself, she thought. She turned and smiled at Murray briefly. “Same old smell,” she said, brightly, her usually soft mouth drawn into a tight, grim little line. “Just toast and coffee.” “Good smell, on a morning like this.” He sounded like some self-opinionated old clergyman, she thought. He began to rustle his paper, sure sign that, from now on, he was absorbed and not to be disturbed unless there was a family crisis.

She poured his coffee, placed the toast before him and the bacon and eggs. Then she called up the stairs, her voice, against her will, rising in a strained, high - pitched petulance: “Jamey, for heaven’s sake, how long does it take you to change into a pair of pants?”

There was no answer from Jamey’s

room and Murray laid his paper down suddenly and began to eat as if all taste for the meal had been abruptly removed.

After a moment, when she had sat down beside him, he glanced at her out of the corners of his eyes. “Hilda,” he began, “how would you like to take a short holiday—away from us both for a while—?”

Now that he was suggesting the idea to her it was the last thing in the world she wanted. “You know perfectly well we haven’t any money for such a thing,” she said, quietly, trying to smile normally at him and failing entirely. “Why suggest things that can’t be done?”

Murray was looking supremely uncomfortable. “Well,” he said, at last, his voice low now and under strong control. “I don’t think we’re as hard up as all that.”

“Oh, stop it, Murray—eat your breakfast. You can’t afford to give me the change of scene that would really do me good, somewhere where there was life and gaiety and dancing, you know that. What in the world would l do mooning about at a lake by myself—?” She pressed her hands tightly down on the edge of the kitchen table and fought for control of herself, feeling frustration and a great wave of intolerable boredom engulfing her.

Murray laid his hand over hers for a moment and his very gentleness seemed to anger her the more. “Look, Hilda, think it over, will you? I think I can arrange something better than that, for a week or so, and Jamey and I can look after ourselves very well for a time, can’t we Jamey?”

The boy was standing in the doorway. “What’s up?” he asked, slouching over to his chair, his hands plunged steeply into his pockets. “Mom not

well—?”

Hilda rose then, tears falling down her face in a heedless, hot, hitter stream. “Oh, stop it, both of you,” she exclaimed, jabbing at Jamey’s eggs in the pan. “You’d think you were both a couple of prison wardens or something. I wish you’d just leave me alone— that’s all.”

Murray took up the paper again and Jamey swallowed his orange juice in a gulp, his eyes on his father. He put his glass down and looked up at his mother, a forced, tight grin on his face.

“Sure,” he said, twisting his long legs, one around the other, under the table. “Well, that won’t be difficult, mom, Tim and I are going for a hike— be away all day.”

“Where are you thinking of going, son?” Murray’s voice was suddenly soft, his eyes on the boy’s bright face.

“Dunno, yet . . . Tim’s got ideas.”

Hilda plugged in the iron and while it was heating began to prepare a packet of sandwiches: tomatoes, cheese; some fruit and cake . . . “Will Tim like some lunch, too, or is he bringing his own?” Her voice was level and quiet now.

Jamey looked up at her. The question was a normal, well-known one; needing a normal, well-known answer. He was in his own depth when she spoke like that. Her words almost put the day to rights again. He cleared his throat in a strained, unconscious relief: “The more the better, mom—we always get hungry even if he does bring his lunch, besides—”

“I know.” She smiled briefly at the hoy, across the room. She knew about Tim’s life with his aged grandmother. She’d seen the thick, uninviting hunks of bread and blobs of cheese the hoy had bundled together for himself on other such occasions. “I’ll make enough for you both and you can feed the ducks or something with the rest.”

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Jamey looked at her, relieved and grateful.

Murray rose. “Well, son,” he said, “have a good time, and here’s a spot of ready cash—” He tossed a dollar hill onto the table, winked at Jamey and then turned to Hilda. “ ’By, honey.” He kissed her briefly, pulled the lobe of her right ear gently and turned to go.

Suddenly, for no reason, anger welled up in Hilda like a sudden sickness. She hardly realized Jamey’s presence any longer and her eyes were blind to Murray’s face as he turned toward her, unbelief and a deep, slow concern in his eyes.

“Of course,” she stammered, trying to speak evenly, “now the day is nicely fixed for you both. You’re both going off to enjoy yourselves in your own way, after breakfast has been served, sandwiches made, shorts ironed —but what about me? Well, I’ll tell you both something—neither of you needs to come home until you’re good and ready, I’m not getting dinner ready for anyone tonight and that’s that!”

There was silence in the small kitchen while sunlight flitted over walls and floor and gleaming stove.

Hilda’s hands were trembling so that she could no longer hold the knife with which she had been spreading butter.

Murray turned and slowly left the room.

Jamey sat for a moment looking at his mother then he rose and came up beside her. “That’s okay, mom,” he said, “Tim and I can eat dinner out— with this buck.” He looked down at the dollar bill lying in the palm of his hand and his eyes were brooding and restless. “And don’t bother to iron the shorts,” he added, as he slouched toward the door. “I guess I can do without them.”

He had disappeared when she turned and the kitchen was empty.

In one last attempt to take hold of herself Hilda moved swiftly to the door. “Murray!” she called. But there was no answer. She looked through the glass of the front door and saw Murray’s tall figure walking rapidly, with a nervous, jerky gait, down the road. His whole long body was spattered with dancing Datches of light and shade from the young, sun-burnished leaves above his head.

She turned then, desperately, into the empty hall and called up the stairs: “Jamey—you’ve made enough fuss about these shorts, now come down and get into them—they’ll be ready in a few minutes.” But Jamey, like Murray, had grown to know the value of silence. There was no sound in the little hall but the thudding of her own heart.

SHE ironed the shorts, hung them over a chair, took a cigarette and went out into the garden. The air was sprayed with the warm scent of roses. It would be better, she knew, to let Jamey go off on his own without saying anything further to him. She might only make things worse. She kicked a deck chair into place on the lawn and lay back in it, her eyes closed. If only she hadn’t let herself go like that, she thought. She’d made them both unhappy. The wretched feeling would last all day.

She watched the smoke rising from her cigarette in the clear light of morning and her eyes wandered across the fresh green of the lawn toward the house next door. She suddenly remembered that a moving van had been outside yesterday. The Bensons, whom she and Murray had known only slightly, had left. Idly, she wondered who was now in possession.

Suddenly, over the fence she saw the glowing chestnut head of a young girl and two arms lifted to the clothesline. Young, she thought, young and married

and with a baby evidently: for small, bright colored garments were being hung up, one by one.

Hilda found herself wondering just how much such quiet movements might really conceal? If the girl could see her lying out in this deck chair, for instance, smoking a leisurely cigarette at nine in the morning, she might easily conclude that a life of harmony and easy happiness lay behind it. But actually, she and Murray had been quarreling on and off for months, or rather, she had been quarreling— Murray had kept silent.

Suddenly she heard the girl’s voice, a low, rather husky, warm-throated voice raised in what seemed to be anxiety: “Wait, darling — wait,

mother’s coming—”

The strong, slender hands disappeared from view and Hilda heard a screen door shut gently. Again there was silence in the garden while the sun mounted higher into the blue sky.

She dozed and did not waken until much later when she heard a frantic hammering on the front door. Her eyes filled with sunlight and half -sleep, she stumbled into the house and through the little hall. At the door stood the auburn-haired girl who had just moved in next door. Her dark green eyes were wide with fright.

“I’m terribly sorry to bother you— I began to think you weren’t in. May I use your phone?—mine isn’t connected

yet—”

Before she could answer, the girl was brushing past Hilda into the hall.

“It’s over there—” Hilda would have had to leap over the girl to get past her and show her the way, so swiftly did she move.

“Oh, thank you—” The girl was already dialing a number with hands that shook. Her face was strained and dead-white against the receiver she held to her ear. “It’s my baby,” she said, “he’s ill again—the doctor—”

She reached the doctor’s office and said only: “Miss Wright? This is Mrs. Morgan . . . yes, yes he is—yes it is —will you tell him?—all right . . .” She hung up and was immediately on her feet. “He’s alone in the house,” she said, her eyes staring straight into Hilda’s “and I have to go lo the drugstore to get a prescription until the doctor comes.”

“Can’t you phone?”

“They might not have a boy in. It would be quicker to go myself—I have a bicycle . . .”

“If there’s anything I can do—” murmured Hilda, lightly, “I’d be glad—”

Once again the girl looked into Hilda’s eyes. Then, hesitating only a fraction, with a strange look of pain, almost amounting to agony, she said: “That’s good of you. I wonder if you’d mind staying with him while I go to the drugstore?”

Hilda was about to ask what was wrong with the child but something in the suddenly anguished, proud way the girl lifted her head and strode to the door, prevented her. She followed her without speaking.

As they drew near the door of the next house, the girl turned back to Hilda. “I always keep the medicine on hand,” she said, “but with packing and moving it was really too much to do by myself, and I must have mislaid it.” Inside her own hall, the girl hesitated for a moment. Again she looked at Hilda with a deep look of appraisal. Then, reaching for her purse which lay on a packing case at her side, she said quietly: “Have you any children?” “Yes, a boy. He’s almost nine.” “Philip is five, but he’s—he’s never grown—” she said firmly, each word thrust out from her as if she forced it

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with all the strength of her will. “He’s in there.” She indicated the living room. “Will you stay with him? I won’t he more than a few minutes.” Before Hilda had time to reply, she was gone.

FOR a moment Hilda stood in the hall unable to move. Philip is five, but he's never grown . . . What did she mean? What was she going to find when she entered the room? Did the girl mean physically grown or mentally, or both? She looked up the stairway of the house and saw that the door to the bedroom upstairs was thrown wide. A peculiarly empty, lonely breeze seemed to come from the room’s opened window. In front of her was the kitchen with a single cup and saucer laid out on the table. On the hat rack in the hall was an old garden hat—a woman’s. She turned and edged quietly into the living room.

In the centre of the room in which furniture was still wrapped and crated, was a child’s crib. Lying on a snowy blanket within it was a child. Hilda ! crept across the floor almost on tiptoe, her heart racing in a mixture of sudden, unaccountable dread and pity. She leaned over the crib, her hands upon the rail and looked down. The boy’s eyes, deep-grey, set wide apart; beautiful in shape and overarched by winged i and golden brows, looked back into Hilda’s eyes without the slightest sign of intelligence . . .

“Oh, my dear, my dear!” she murmured, the haunted, proud face of the j girl in her mind, “how terrible!” She bent down over the crib and picked the bundle up in her arms. The child moved his head a trifle to rest it on her shoulder and his still trembling limbs Í seemed to cease their tremor a little as if some of the warmth of human love was sinking slowly, slowly, through his brain.

Hilda walked out into the kitchen and sat by the open door. Sunlight fell on the child’s head revealing hair as gold as her wedding ring. He moved in her arms and the delicate mouth drooled a little against her breast and i she thought for a moment he smiled, but could not be sure. She looked into the wide-apart eyes, deep into them, her whole heart crying out against admitting the fact so evident to her mind, but the child’s eyes looked back

at her blandly, with empty, patient uncommunicativeness.

She pressed the small body against her own and stared in sharp, almost personal anguish, around the room.

On the table beside the single cup and saucer there lay, as if just unpacked, the framed photograph of a young man in the uniform of an RAF pilot. Beside it, folded in soft tissue paper, as if it, too, had only just been unwrapped, was a D.F.C. ribbon and bar. Hilda looked at the face of the young man. His eyes looked back at lier, young and hopeful and full of vigor and honesty and courage. He was very handsome, with the same firm, stubborn thrust to his chin that Murray had; the same quiet, undismayed directness about his eyes.

Gently, hesitatingly, she withdrew one hand from beneath the child’s body and touched the face of his father with a fingertip. Something had happened here, she knew. The pilot had not returned. Five years ago would make it 1942—the year when so many lads fell from the skies with no time for parachutes, no time to avoid the flames. The child moved restlessly in her arms and began to cry, making a weird, heart-rending sound like the bleat of some small, strange animal.

At that moment the girl appeared at the back door. Glancing at Hilda briefly, she opened the screen door and without a look at the child in Hilda’s arms, strode to the sink, unwrapped a small parcel, dropped a powder into a glass of water and taking a silver spoon from the draining-board, turned to Hilda with a smile.

“I'll take him now,” she said, softly, “and thank you so much.”

Hilda rose and transferred the small bundle to the arms of his mother. The girl sat down in the chair, the child propped in her arms. “Come on my darling,” she said, coaxingly, “take this like a pet . . .”

She slid the spoon into the little mouth and the child swallowed automatically. The girl began to sing and then to slide in more medicine. The process was repeated, with her voice winging out, deep and strong, until the medicine was gone. Then, looking closely at the child’s face, she smiled and turned to Hilda. “You see—?”she said, joy flooding her eyes. “He will be all right—perfectly all right.”

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“Yes, of course.” Hilda could say nothing more. Her throat was closing slowly about the words she wanted to say, thrusting them down into her chest, down into the very pulse of her heart.

“I think I’ll run home and make a cup of tea for us both,” she said, anxious to do something for the girl and to meet alone the feelings that were rising so tumultuously within her. She bent down and lightly kissed the girl’s flaming, piled-up hair. “I’ll only be a moment,” she murmured, and softly walked from the room.

In the ball of lier own house Hilda found the afternoon light laid upon familiar belongings like a benediction. It was like coming home again after a long holiday. Blue flowers dropped petals from a large Chinese vase. She saw Jamey’s tennis racket, a ball, Murray’s golf clubs, Jamey’s old cycling cap trimmed with bottle caps. Through the door of the living room she saw an open book on the arm of Murray’s chair: the book on oriental architecture he’d been so deeply interested in last night. Propped against a wall was Jamey’s violin, bidden in its case. Life was going on like a blessed stream for Murray, for Jamey and for herself. It had neither ended, nor was it stunted. It was flowing, rich and full, in their veins, flowing through the rooms of this house, alive in the very air.

SHE walked slowly toward the kitchen, the crimson splash of wild roses meeting her eyes again through the open window. She saw the three cereal bowls, deep blue in the summer light, lying side by side, as they had been left on the table.

She filled the kettle and placed it to boil, then went slowly upstairs. The house seemed suddenly to sing about her now: a song of life and health and summer days; a song of a man’s safe return, his confidence and patience and strong, eager limbs; of a boy’s mysterious, gentle dreams and physical vigor; of a woman’s life in the life of her men, of her safety and security and blessedness.

Before she reached the top of the stairs she saw Jamey’s discarded pyjamas draped over the bannisters.

She took them up in her hands and pressed them suddenly to her face. They smelled faintly of tar soap and hair lotion and she folded them and put them on his bed. Then she went into her own room and looked at the crumpled bed from which she had leapt in such irritation that morning. The deep impress of Murray’s head in the pillow beside her own was a blue shadow laid upon her thoughts.

Then the phone rang shrilly through the house. She ran down the stairs and lifted the receiver.

“Hi, mom . . .”

“Jamey — /”

“Listen, mom—that buck Dad gave me—I’ve lost it. We’re out near the woods around Bleminstone — we’ve been looking all over for it.”

“Do you need it to get home?”

“No—hut you said not to—”

“Oh, darling, listen. Now listen to me carefully. Have you enough for the bus home?”

“Sure.”

“Then come on right home and bring Tim with you—we’ll all have supper in the garden. And Jamey—?” “Yeah-?”

“Oh, nothing—” She was going to call: “Hurry, hurry!” But there was

no sense to that. She said clearly and as casually as she could: “I’ll call

Dad, in a while—”

“Swell!” he said, with a bright, cool nonchalance. But she heard him slowly and very gently hang up the receiver as if in doing so he might, as he did on very rare occasions, be lightly kissing the top of her head.

She sat by the telephone for some time, touching the petals of the blue flowers beside her. Then she rose and went into the kitchen and poured the boiling water over leaves of fragrant tea. She took down a blue dish and put out some cookies. Then, placing the tea and cookies on a tray she went out across the quiet, sunlit lawn to the house next door.

Tonight, after dinner, before he relaxed for his evening of study, she would tell Murray that in a wholly unexpected, tragic way, she had had a change of scene that had given her— not a glimpse of those minor things she had missed in life-—but a full, strong vision of the enduring, permanent things she already possessed. ★