The Happiest Time

“Aren’t you coming to church with me this morning?”

“Well—not this morning, I think, petty.”

“You said you would.”

“Yes, I know I did, but I have a slight cold. I don’t think it would be best for me, really, petty. I’ve been working pretty hard this week.” Mr. Belmore carefully deposited a pile of newspapers beside his armchair upon the floor of the little library, removing and opening the top layer for perusal as he spoke, his eyes already glued to the headlines. “A quiet day will do me lots of good. I’ll tell you what it is—I’ll promise to go with you next Sunday if you say so.”

“You always promise you’ll go next Sunday.” Mrs. Belmore, a brown-haired, clear-eyed young woman in a blue and white spotted morning gown looked doubtfully, yet with manifest yielding, at her husband. Mr. Belmore presented the radiantly clean and peaceful aspect of the man who has risen at nine o’clock instead of the customary seven, and bathed and dressed in the sweet unhurried calm that belongs only to the first day of the week, poking dilatorily among chiffonier drawers, discovering hitherto forgotton garments in his closet, and leisurely fumbling over a change of shirt-studs before coming down to consume the breakfast kept waiting for him.

“Of course I know it’s your only day at home—” Mrs. Belmore reverted to her occupation of deftly setting the chairs in their rightful places, and straightening the books on the tables. “I suppose I ought to insist on your going—when you promised—but still—” She gave a sigh of relinquishment. “I suppose you do need the rest,” she added. “We can have a nice afternoon together, anyway. You can finish reading that story aloud, and we’ll go out and take a good look at the garden. I think the beans were planted too close under the pear tree last year—that was the reason they didn’t come up right. Edith Barnes and Alan Wilson are coming out from town after dinner for the rest of the day, but that won’t make any difference to us.”


“Now, Herbert, how could I help asking them? You know the boarding-house she and her mother live in. Edith never gets a chance to see him alone. They’re saving up now to get married—they’ve been engaged a year—so he can’t spend any more money for theatres and things, and they just have to walk and walk the streets, unless they go visiting, and they’ve been almost everywhere, Edith says. She wrote and asked me to have them for this Sunday; he’s been away for a whole week somewhere up in the State. I think it pathetic.” In the warmth of explanation Mrs. Belmore had unwittingly removed the pile of newspapers from the floor to an ottoman at the farther end of the room. “Edith says she knows it’s the happiest time of their lives, and she does want to get some of the benefit of it, poor girl.”

“What do they want to be engaged for anyway?”

Herbert! How ridiculous! You are the most unreasonable man at times for a sensible one that I ever laid my eyes on. Why did we want to be engaged?”

“That was different.” Mr. Belmore’s tone conveyed a permanent satisfaction with his own case. “If every woman were like you, petty—I never could stand Edith, she’s one of your clever girls; there’s something about her that always sets my teeth on edge. As for Wilson—oh, Wilson’s just a usual kind of a fool, like myself. Hello, where are my newspapers—and what in thunder makes it so cold? You don’t mean to say you’ve got the window open?”

Mrs. Belmore had a habit of airing the rooms in the morning, which her husband approved of theoretically, and combated intensely in practice. After the window was banged shut she could hear him rattling at the furnace below to turn on an extra flow of heat before settling down once more in comfort. Although the April sun was bright, there was still a chill in the air.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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