Palmer and Christine returned from their wedding trip the day K. discovered
Tillie. Anna Page made much of the arrival, insisted on dinner for them
that night at the little house, must help Christine unpack her trunks and
arrange her wedding gifts about the apartment. She was brighter than she
had been for days, more interested. The wonders of the trousseau filled
her with admiration and a sort of jealous envy for Sidney, who could have
none of these things. In a pathetic sort of way, she mothered Christine
in lieu of her own daughter.
And it was her quick eye that discerned something wrong. Christine was not
quite happy. Under her excitement was an undercurrent of reserve. Anna,
rich in maternity if in nothing else, felt it, and in reply to some speech
of Christine's that struck her as hard, not quite fitting, she gave her a
"Married life takes a little adjusting, my dear," she said. "After we have
lived to ourselves for a number of years, it is not easy to live for some
Christine straightened from the tea-table she was arranging.
"That's true, of course. But why should the woman do all the adjusting?"
"Men are more set," said poor Anna, who had never been set in anything in
her life. "It is harder for them to give in. And, of course, Palmer is
older, and his habits--"
"The less said about Palmer's habits the better," flashed Christine. "I
appear to have married a bunch of habits."
She gave over her unpacking, and sat down listlessly by the fire, while
Anna moved about, busy with the small activities that delighted her.
Six weeks of Palmer's society in unlimited amounts had bored Christine to
distraction. She sat with folded hands and looked into a future that
seemed to include nothing but Palmer: Palmer asleep with his mouth open;
Palmer shaving before breakfast, and irritable until he had had his coffee;
Palmer yawning over the newspaper.
And there was a darker side to the picture than that. There was a vision
of Palmer slipping quietly into his room and falling into the heavy sleep,
not of drunkenness perhaps, but of drink. That had happened twice. She
knew now that it would happen again and again, as long as he lived.
Drinking leads to other things. The letter she had received on her wedding
day was burned into her brain. There would be that in the future too,
Christine was not without courage. She was making a brave clutch at
happiness. But that afternoon of the first day at home she was terrified.
She was glad when Anna went and left her alone by her fire.