When a Man Marries
The most charitable thing would be to say nothing about the first day. We were baldly
brutal--that's the only word for it. And Mr. Harbison, with his beautiful courtesy--the
really sincere kind--tried to patch up one quarrel after another and failed. He rose
superbly to the occasion, and made something that he called a South American goulash
for luncheon, although it was too salty, and every one was thirsty the rest of the day.
Bella was horrid, of course. She froze Jim until he said he was going to sit in the
refrigerator and cool the butter. She locked herself in the dressing room--it had been
assigned to me, but that made no difference to Bella--and did her nails, and took three
different baths, and refused to come to the table. And of course Jimmy was wild, and said
she would starve. But I said, "Very well, let her starve. Not a tray shall leave my
kitchen." It was a comfort to have her shut up there anyhow; it postponed the time when
she would come face to face with Flannigan.
Aunt Selina got sick that day, as I have said. I was not so bitter as the others; I did not say
that I wished she would die. The worst I ever wished her was that she might be quite ill
for some time, and yet, when she began to recover, she was dreadful to me. She said for
one thing, that it was the hard-boiled eggs and the state of the house that did it, and when
I said that the grippe was a germ, she retorted that I had probably brought it to her on my
You remember that Betty had drawn the nurse's slip, and how pleased she had been about
it. She got up early the morning of the first day and made herself a lawn cap and
telephoned out for a white nurse's uniform--that is, of course, for a white uniform for a
nurse. She really looked very fetching, and she went around all the morning with a red
cross on her sleeve and a Saint Cecilia expression, gathering up bottles of medicine--most
of it flesh reducer, which was pathetic, and closing windows for fear of drafts. She
refused to help with the house work, and looked quite exalted, but by afternoon it had
palled on her somewhat, and she and Max shook dice.
Betty was really pleased when Aunt Selina sent for her. She took in a bottle of cologne to
bathe her brow, and we all stood outside the door and listened. Betty tiptoed in in her
pretty cap and apron, and we heard her cautiously draw down the shades.
"What are you doing that for?" Aunt Selina demanded. "I like the light."
"It's bad for your poor eyes," Betty's tone was exactly the proper bedside pitch, low and
"Sweet and low, sweet and low, wind of the western sea!" Dal hummed outside.
"Put up those window shades!" Aunt Selina's voice was strong enough. "What's in that
Betty was still mild. She swished to the window and raised the shade.
"I'm SO sorry you are ill," she said sympathetically. "This is for your poor aching head.
Now close your eyes and lie perfectly still, and I will cool your forehead."