Adele Garrison.

Revelations of a Wife The Story of a Honeymoon online

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to admit there was something oddly attractive about her in spite of
her atrocious make-up.

But, on the other hand, she and her husband appeared to be on most
intimate terms with Dicky. Would I seriously offend him if I refused
to treat his friends with friendliness equal to that which they seemed
ready to shower upon me?

"Would you like to walk a bit, Madge?" Dicky's voice started me into a
recollection of my surroundings. I had been so absorbed in the problem
of whether I should or should not accept Lillian Gale as an intimate
friend that I did not know that the curtain had fallen on the second
act, nor did I know how the act had ended. My problem was still
unsolved. I welcomed the diversion of a turn in the fresher aid of the
lobby.

As we passed up the aisle I felt a sudden tug, then an ominous
ripping. The floating chiffon overdrapery of my gown had caught in
a seat. As Dicky bent to release me his face showed consternation.
Almost a length of the dainty fabric trailed on the floor.

I have schooled my self-repression for many a weary year. I feared my
gown, in which I had taken such pride, was ruined, but I would not let
any one know I cared about it. I gathered it up and smiled at Dicky.

"It really doesn't matter," I said. "If you'll leave me at the woman's
dressing room I think I can fix it up all right."

Dicky drew a relieved breath. His heartily murmured, "You're a
thoroughbred for sure, Madge," rewarded me for my composure. I was
just woman enough also to be comforted by the whispered comments of
two women who sat just behind the seat which caused the mischief.

"Isn't that a shame - that exquisite gown?" and the rejoinder. "But
isn't she game? I couldn't smile like that - I'd be crying my eyes out"

Dicky left me at the door of the dressing room, pressing a coin slyly
into my hand. "You'll tip the maid," he explained, and I blessed him
for his thoughtfulness. I had been too absorbed in my gown to think of
anything else.

An obsequious maid provided me with needle, thimble and thread. She
offered to mend the tear for me, but I had a horror of being made
conspicuous by her ministrations.

"If you'll let me have a chair in a corner I shall do very nicely,"
I told her, and was at once snugly ensconced near one of her mirrors
behind the very comfortable rampart of an enormously fat woman in an
exaggerated evening gown, who was devoting much pains and cosmetics
to her complexion. She looked as if she intended to remain at the
particular mirror all the intermission. I hoped she would stay there,
in spite the dagger's looks she was receiving from other complexion
repairers who coveted her place, for she was an effectual shield from
curious eyes.

To my joy I found that the gown was not ruined, and that it could be
repaired without much expense or trouble. Even the temporary mending I
was doing disguised the break. I was so interested in the mending that
I was completely lost to my surroundings, but the sound of a familiar
name brought me to with a jerk.

"Did you see the Dicky-bird and his marble bride?" A high-pitched yet
rather sweet voice asked the question, and a deep contralto answered
it.

"Yes, indeed, and I saw the way Lillian Gale was rushing them. For
my part I don't think that's quite clubby of Lil. Of course she's got
into the way of thinking she has a first mortgage on the Dicky-bird,
but she might give that beautiful bride a chance for her life before
she forecloses."

"What's the secret of Lil's attraction for Dicky Graham, anyway?" the
soprano voice queried. "She's a good seven years older than he is, and
both her past and her youth are rather frayed at the edges, you know."

"Oh! love's young dream, and the habit of long association," returned
the contralto. I've heard that Lil was Dicky's first love. She was a
stunner for looks 19 years ago, and Dicky was just young enough to be
swept off his feet."

"That must have been before Lil married that unspeakable Morten, the
fellow she divorced, wasn't it?" interrupted the soprano.

"Yes, it was," the contralto answered. "I don't know whether Dicky has
been half in love with Lil all these years or not, but he certainly
has been her best friend. And now comes the news of his marriage to
somebody the crowd never heard of."

"Well, I think Lil may say good-by to her Dicky-bird now," returned
the first speaker. "That bride is quite the prettiest piece of flesh
and blood I've seen for many days."

"She is all of that," agreed the other, "She holds all the best cards,
but you'll find she is too statuesque and dignified to play them.
I saw her face tonight when Lil was talking to her. She is not
accustomed to Lil's kind, and she does not like her friendship with
Dicky."

"You can't blame her for that," interrupted the soprano. "I am sure I
would not like to see my husband dancing attendance on Lillian Gale."

"No, of course not," the contralto replied; "but she will be just
fool enough to show Dicky her feelings, and Dicky, who is the soul of
loyalty to his friends, will resent her attitude and try to make it up
to Lil and Harry by being extra nice to them. It's too bad. But then,
these marble statue sort of women always sacrifice their love for
their pride or their fool notions or propriety."

"It will be as good as a play to watch the developments," the soprano
commented. "Come on, we'll be too late for the curtain."

I felt suddenly faint, and the room appeared to whirl around me. The
maid touched me on the arm.

"Are you ill, madame? Here!" and she held a glass of water to my lips.
I drank it and motioned her away.

"I'll be all right in a moment," I murmured. "Thank you, but I am
quite well."

So this was what marriage would mean to me, a contest with another
woman for my husband's love! A fierce anger took possession of me.
One moment I regretted my marriage to Dicky, the next I was fiercely
primitive as any savage woman in my desire to crush my rival. I could
have strangled Lillian Gale in that moment. Then common sense came
back to me. What was it that woman had said? I had all the best cards
in my hand? Well! I would play them. I felt sure that Dicky loved
me. I would not jeopardize that love for a temporary pride. I would
eliminate Lillian Gale from Dicky's life, but I would bide my time to
do it.




IV

DIVIDED OPINIONS


If anybody wishes an infallible recipe for taking the romance out
of life, I can recommend washing a pile of dishes which have been left
over from the day before, especially if there be among them a number
of greasy pots and pans. Restoring order to a badly cluttered room is
another glamour destroyer, but the first prize, I stoutly affirm, goes
to the dishes.

An especially aggravating collection of romance shatterers awaited
me the morning after our visit to the theatre, and my first encounter
with Lillian Gale.

Dicky took a hurried breakfast and rushed off to the studio, while I
spent a dreary forenoon washing the dishes and putting the apartment
to rights. I dreaded the discussion with Dicky at luncheon. I
had insisted before my marriage that I must either do most of the
housework, or keep up some of my old work to add to our income. To
have a maid, while I did nothing to justify my existence save keep
myself pretty and entertain Dicky, savored too much to me of the harem
favorite.

A mother of small children, a woman with a large house, one who had
old people to care for, or whose health was not good, was justified in
having help. But for me, well, strong, with a tiny apartment, and just
Dicky, to employ a maid without myself earning at least enough to pay
for the extra expense of having her - it was simply impossible. I had
been independent too long. The situation was galling.

The postman's ring interrupted my thoughts. I went to the door,
receiving a number of advertisements, a letter or two for Dicky, and
one, addressed in an unfamiliar handwriting, to myself. I opened it
and read it wonderingly.


"My dear Mrs. Graham:

"Our club is planning a course in history for the coming year. We need
an experienced conductor for the class, which will meet once a week.
Your name has been suggested to us as that of one who might be willing
to take up the work. The compensation will not be as large as that given
by the larger clubs for lectures, as we are a small organization, but I
do not think you will have to devote much of your time to the work
outside of the weekly meeting.

"Will you kindly let me know when I can meet you and talk this over with
you, if you decide to consider it?

"Yours very truly,

"HELEN BRAINERD SMITH,

"Secretary Lotus Study Club,

"215 West Washington Avenue."

Had the solution to my problem come? Armed with this I could talk to
Dicky at luncheon without any fears.

The receipt of the letter put me in a royal good humor. I did not care
how little the compensation was, although I knew it would be far more
than enough to pay the extra expense of having a maid, an expense
which I was determined to defray.

Teaching or lecturing upon historical subjects was child's play to
me. I had specialized in it, and had been counted one of the most
successful instructors in that branch in the city. Woman's club work
was new to me, but the husband of one of my friends had once conducted
such a course, and I knew I could get all the information I needed
from him.

I thought of Dicky's possible objections, but brushed the thought
aside. He had objected to my going on with my regular school work and
I realized that the hours which I would have been compelled to give to
that work would have conflicted seriously with our home life. But here
was something that would take me away from home so little.

* * * * *

"About that servant question," I began, after Dicky was comfortably
settled and smiling over his cigar. "I will employ one, a first-class,
really competent housekeeper, if you will make no objection to this."

I opened the letter and handed it to him. He read it through, his face
growing angrier at every line. When he had finished he threw it on the
floor.

"Well, I guess not," he exclaimed. "I know that club game; it's the
limit. There's nothing in it. They'll pay only a beggarly sum, and
you'll be tied to that same afternoon once a week for a year. Suppose
we had something we wanted to do on that day? We would have to let it
go hang."

"I suppose if we had something we wanted to do on a day when you had
a commission to execute you would leave your work and go," I answered
quietly.

"That's entirely different," returned Dicky. "I'm responsible for the
support of this family. You are not. All you have to do is to enjoy
yourself and make home comfortable for me."

We were interrupted by the door bell. Dicky went to the door while I
hastily dropped the portiers between the living room and the dining
room. I heard Dicky's deep voice in greeting.

"This is good of you, Lil," and Lillian Gale came into the room with
outstretched hand.

"Perhaps I shouldn't have come so soon," she said, "but you see I am
bound to know you, even if Dicky does spirit you away when we want you
to join us."

She threw him a laughing glance as she clasped my hand.

"I am so glad you have come," I said cordially, but inwardly I
fiercely resented her intrusion, as I deemed it.

But what was my horror to hear Dicky say casually:

"You've come at a most opportune time, Lil. Madge has had an offer
from some woman's club to do a lecturing stunt on history, her
specialty, you know, and she wants to take it. I wish you'd help me
persuade her out of it."

"I cannot imagine why we should trouble Mrs. Underwood with so
personal a matter," I heard myself saying faintly.

Mrs. Underwood laughed boisterously. "Why, I'm one of the family, my
dear child," she said heartily. Then she looked at me keenly.

"I might have known that one man would have no chance with two women,"
Dicky growled. His tone held capitulation. I knew I had won my battle.
But was it my victory or this woman's I so detested?

"Don't let this man bully you," she advised half-laughingly. "He's
perfectly capable of it. I know him. By all means accept the offer if
you think it's worth while. All these husbands are a bit archaic yet,
you know. They don't realize that women have joined the human race."

"Come, Dicky-bird," she rattled on as she saw his darkening face.
"Don't be silly. You'll have to give in. You're just 50 years behind
the times, you know."

During the remainder of Mrs. Underwood's brief call she ignored Dicky,
and devoted herself to me. There is no denying the fact that she has
great charm when she chooses to exercise it. Dicky, however, appeared
entirely oblivious of it, sitting in moody silence until she rose to
go.

"You ought to preserve that grouch," she carelessly advised, as he
stood holding the door open for her. "Carefully corked in a glass
jar, it ought to keep to be given to your grandchildren as a horrible
example."

Dicky grinned reluctantly and bowed low as she passed out of the room
with a cordial adieu to me, but no sooner had the door closed behind
her than he turned to me angrily.

"Look here, Madge," he exclaimed, "are you really in earnest about
taking that blasted position?"

"Why! of course I am," I answered. "It seems providential, coming
just as you insist upon having the maid. I can engage one with a clear
conscience now."

Dicky sprang to his feet with a muttered word that sounded
suspiciously like an oath, and began to walk rapidly up and down the
room, his hands behind his back, and his face dark with anger. Up
and down, up and down he paced, while I, sitting quietly in my chair,
waited, nerving myself for the scene I anticipated.

When it came, however, it surprised me with the turn it took. Dicky
stopped suddenly in his pacing, and coming swiftly over to me, dropped
on one knee beside my chair and put his arms around me.

"Sweetheart," he said softly, "I don't want to quarrel about this, nor
do I wish to be unreasonable about it. But, really, it means an awful lot
to me. I don't want you to do it. Won't you give it up for me?"

I returned Dicky's kiss, and held him tightly as I answered:

"Dear boy, I'll think it over very carefully. If I possibly can, I
will do as you wish. But, remember, I say if I can. I haven't made you
a definite promise yet."

"But you will, I know; that's my own dear girl. Good-by. I'll have to
rush back to the studio now."

Dicky's tone was light and confident as he rose. Life always has been
easy for Dicky. I heard him say once he never could remember the time
when he didn't get his own way.




V

"ALWAYS YOUR JACK"


As soon as Dicky had left the house I cleared away the dishes and
washed them and prepared a dessert for dinner. Then, finding the want
advertisements of the Sunday papers, I looked carefully through the
columns headed "Situations Wanted, Female."

I clipped the advertisements and fastened each neatly to a sheet of
notepaper. Then I wrote beneath each one: "Please call Thursday or
Friday. Ask for Mrs. Richard Graham, Apartment 4, 46 East Twenty-ninth
street."

I addressed the envelopes properly, inserted the answers in the
envelopes, sealed and stamped them, then ran out to the post box on
the corner with them. I walked back very slowly, for there was
nothing more that needed to be done, and I could put off no longer the
settling of my problem.

I locked the door of my room, pulled down the shade and, exchanging my
house dress for a comfortable negligee, lay down upon my bed to think
things out.

I tried to put myself in Dicky's place, and to understand his reasons
for objecting to my earning any money of my own. I sat upright in bed
as a thought flashed across my brain. Was that the reason? Were his
objections to this plan of mine what he pretended they were? Did he
really fear that I might have unpleasant publicity thrust upon me, and
that some of our pleasure plans might be spoiled by the weekly lecture
engagement? Or was he the type of man who could not bear his wife to
have money or plans or even thoughts which did not originate with him?

I resolved to find out just what motive was behind his objections. If
he were willing that I should try to earn money in some other way
I would gladly refuse this offer. But if he were opposed to my ever
having any income of my own the issue might as well come now as later.

A loud ringing at the doorbell awakened me.

For a moment I could not understand how I came to be in bed. Then
I remembered and throwing off my negligee and putting on a little
afternoon gown, I twisted up my hair into a careless knot and hurried
to the door. The ring had been the postman's. The afternoon newspapers
lay upon the floor. With them was a letter with my former name upon
it in a handwriting that I knew. It had been forwarded from my old
boarding house. The superscription looked queer to me, as if it were
the name of some one I had known long ago.

"Miss Margaret Spencer," and then, in the crabbed handwriting of my
dear old landlady, "care of Mrs. Richard Graham."

I opened the letter slowly. It bore a New Orleans heading, and a date
three days before.

"Dear little girl:

"A year is a long time between letters, isn't it? But you know I told
you when I left that the chances were Slim for getting a letter back
from the wild territory where I was going, and I found when I reached
there that 'slim' was hardly the word. I wrote you twice, but have
no hope that the letters ever reached you. But now I am back in God's
country, or shall be when I get North, and of course, my first line
is to you. I am writing this to the old place, knowing it will be
forwarded if you have left there.

"I shall be in New York two weeks from today, the 24th. Of course I
shall go to my old diggings. Telephone me there, so that I can see you
as soon as possible. I am looking forward to a real dinner, at a real
restaurant, with the realest girl in the world opposite me the first
day I strike New York, so get ready for me. I do hope you have been
well and as cheerful as possible. I know what a struggle this year
must have been for you.

"Till I see you, dear, always your

"JACK."

I finished the reading of the letter with mingled feelings of joy and
dismay. Joy was the stronger, however. Dear old Jack was safe at home.
But there were adjustments which I must make. I had my marriage to
explain to Jack, and Jack to explain to Dicky. Nothing but this letter
could have so revealed to me the strength of the infatuation for Dicky
which had swept me off my feet and resulted in my marriage after only
a six months' acquaintance. Reading it I realized that the memory of
Jack had been so pushed into the background during the past six months
that I never had thought to tell Dicky about him.

"You've made a great conquest," said Dicky that evening when we were
finishing dinner, "Lil thinks you're about the nicest little piece of
calico she has ever measured - those were her own words. She's planning
a frolic for the crowd some night at your convenience."

"That is awfully kind of her. Where did you see her." I prided myself
on my careless tone, but Dicky gave me a shrewd glance.

"Why, at the studio, of course. Her studio is on the same floor as
mine, you know. Atwood and Barker and she and I are all on one floor,
and we often have a dish of tea together when we are not rushed."

I busied myself with the coffee machine until I could control my
voice. How I hated these glimpses of the intimate friendship which
must exist between my husband and this woman!

"I suppose we ought to have them all over some night," I said at last,
"but I'll have to add a few things to our equipment, and wait until I
get a maid."

"That will be fine," Dicky assented cordially, pushing back his chair.
"Did the papers come? I'll look them over for a little. Whistle when
you're ready and I'll wipe the dishes for you."

He strolled into the living room, and I suddenly remembered that I
had laid my letter from Jack on the table, with its pages scattered so
that any one picking them up could not help seeing them.

I had forgotten all about the letter. I had meant to show it to Dicky
after I had explained about Jack. It was not quite the letter for a
bridegroom to find without expectation. I realized that.

I could not get the letter without attracting his attention. I waited,
every nerve tense, listening to the sounds in the next room. I heard
the rustling of the newspaper; then a sudden silence told me his
attention had been arrested by something. Would he read the letter? I
did not think so. I knew his sense of honor was too keen for that, but
I remembered that the last page with its signature was at the top of
the sheets as I laid them down. That was enough to make any loving
husband reflect a bit.

How would Dicky take it? I wondered. I was soon to know. I Heard
him crush the paper in his hand, then come quickly to the kitchen. I
pretended to be busy with the dishes, but he strode over to me, and
clutching me by the shoulder with a grip that hurt, thrust the letter
before my face, and said hoarsely:

"What does this mean?"

The last words of Jack's letter danced before my eyes, Dicky's hand
was shaking so.

"Till I see you, dear. Always Jack."

Dicky's face was not a pleasant sight. It repulsed and disgusted me.
Subconsciously I was contrasting the way in which he calmly expected
me to accept his friendship for Lillian Gale, and his behavior over
this letter. Five minutes earlier I would have explained to him fully.
I resolved now to put my friendship for Jack upon the same basis as
his for Mrs. Underwood.

So I looked at him coolly. "Have you read the letter?" I asked
quietly.

"You know I have not read the letter." he snarled. "It lay on the
papers. I could not help but see this - this - whatever it is," he
finished lamely, "and I have come straight to you for an explanation."

"Better read the letter," I advised quietly. "I give you full
permission."

I could have laughed at Dicky, if I had been less angry. He was so
like an angry, curious child in his eagerness to know everything about
Jack.

"You have no brother. Is this man a relative?"

"No," I returned demurely.

"An old lover then, I suppose a confident one, I should judge by the
tone of the letter. Won't it be too cruel a blow to him when he finds
his dear little girl is married?"

Dicky's tone fairly dripped with irony. "He will be surprised
certainly," I answered, "but as he never was my lover, I don't think
it will be any blow to him."

"Who is he, anyway? Why have you never told me about him? What does he
look like?"

Dicky fairly shot the questions at me. I turned and went into my room.
There I rummaged in a box of old photographs until I found two fairly
good likenesses of Jack. I carried them to the kitchen and put them in
Dicky's hands. He glared at them, then threw them on the table.

"Humph! Looks like a gorilla with the mumps," he growled. "Who is this
precious party, then, if he is not a lover or a relative?"

"He is an old and dear friend. His friendship means as much to me
as - well - say Lillian Gale's means to you."

Dicky stared at me a long, long look as if he had just discovered me.
Then he turned on his heel.

"Well, I'll be - " I did not find out what he would be, for he went out
and slammed the door.

I sat down to a humiliating half-hour's thought. It isn't a bad idea
at times to "loaf and invite your soul," and then cast up account with
it. My account looked pretty discouraging.

Dicky and I had been married a little over two weeks. Two weeks
of idiotically happy honeymooning, and then the last three days of
quarrels, reconciliations, jealousies, petty bickerings and the shadow
of real issues between us.

Was this marriage - heights of happiness, depths of despair, with the
humdrum of petty differences between?




VI

A MAID AND MODEL


The chiming of the clock an hour after Dicky had gone to the studio
after our little noon dinner next day warned me that I was not dressed
and that the cooks whose advertisements I had answered might call at
any minute. I dressed and arranged my hair. Just as I put in the last
hairpin the bell rang.

Two women, covertly eyeing each other with suspicion, stood in the
hallway when I opened the door. To my invitation to come in each
responded "Thank you," and the entrance of both was quiet. When they
sat down in the chairs I drew forward for them I mentally appraised


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