The first was Oliver's and he ate it as if he were consuming sawdust while
the Crowes talked all around him in the suppressed voices of people
watching a military funeral pass to its muffled drums. Mrs. Crowe was too
wise to try and comfort him in public except by silence and even Dickie
was still too surprised at Oliver's peevish "Oh _get_ out, kid" when he
tried to drag him into their usual evening boxing match to do anything but
confide despondently to his mother that he doesn't see why Oliver has to
act so _queer_ about any girl.
The second meal was infinitely gayer on the surface though a certain kind
of strainedness a little like the strainedness in the pauses of a
perfectly friendly football game when both sides are too evenly matched to
score ran through it. Still, whatever strainedness there was could hardly
have been Mrs. Severance's fault.
The impeccable Elizabeth showed no surprise at being told she could have
the day and needn't be back till breakfast tomorrow. She might have
thought that there seemed to be a good deal of rather perishable food in
the icebox to be wasted, if Mrs.