When a Man Marries
I Might Have Known It
The minute I had consented I regretted it. After all, what were Jimmy's troubles to me?
Why should I help him impose on an unsuspecting elderly woman? And it was only
putting off discovery anyhow. Sooner or later, she would learn of the divorce, and--Just
at that instant my eyes fell on Mr. Harbison--Tom Harbison, as Anne called him. He was
looking on with an amused, half-puzzled smile, while people were rushing around hiding
the roulette wheel and things of which Miss Caruthers might disapprove, and Betty
Mercer was on her knees winding up a toy bear that Max had brought her. What would he
think? It was evident that he thought badly of us already--that he was contemptuously
amused, and then to have to ask him to lend himself to the deception!
With a gasp I hurled myself after Jimmy, only to hear a strange voice in the hall and to
know that I was too late. I was in for it, whatever was coming. It was Aunt Selina who
was coming--along the hall, followed by Jim, who was mopping his face and trying not to
notice the paralyzed silence in the library.
Aunt Selina met me in the doorway. To my frantic eyes she seemed to tower above us by
at least a foot, and beside her Jimmy was a red, perspiring cherub.
"Here she is," Jimmy said, from behind a temporary eclipse of black cloak and traveling
bag. He was on top of the situation now, and he was mendaciously cheerful. He had NOT
said, "Here is my wife." That would have been a lie. No, Jimmy merely said, "Here she
is." If Aunt Selina chose to think me Bella, was it not her responsibility? And if I chose to
accept the situation, was it not mine? Dallas Brown came forward gravely as Aunt Selina
folded over and kissed me, and surreptitiously patted me with one hand while he held out
the other to Miss Caruthers. I loathed him!
"We always expect something unusual from James, Miss Caruthers," he said, with his
best manner, "but THIS--this is beyond our wildest dreams."
Well, it's too awful to linger over. Anne took her upstairs and into Bella's bedroom. It was
a fancy of Jim's to leave that room just as Bella had left it, dusty dance cards and favors
hanging around and a pair of discarded slippers under the bed. I don't think it had been
swept since Bella left it. I believe in sentiment, but I like it brushed and dusted and the
cobwebs off of it, and when Aunt Selina put down her bonnet, it stirred up a gray-white
cloud that made her cough. She did not say anything, but she looked around the room
grimly, and I saw her run her finger over the back of a chair before she let Hannah, the
maid, put her cloak on it.
Anne looked frightened. She ran into Bella's bath and wet the end of a towel and when
Hannah was changing Aunt Selina's collar--her concession to evening dress--Anne wiped
off the obvious places on the furniture. She did it stealthily, but Aunt Selina saw her in
"What's that young woman's name?" she asked me sharply, when Anne had taken the
towel out to hide it.
"Anne Brown, Mrs. Dallas Brown," I replied meekly. Every one replied meekly to Aunt