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Jane
by [?]

I

Having retired to a hospital to sulk, Jane remained there. The family came and sat by her bed uncomfortably and smoked, and finally retreated with defeat written large all over it, leaving Jane to the continued possession of Room 33, a pink kimono with slippers to match, a hand-embroidered face pillow with a rose-coloured bow on the corner, and a young nurse with a gift of giving Jane daily the appearance of a strawberry and vanilla ice rising from a meringue of bed linen.

Jane’s complaint was temper. The family knew this, and so did Jane, although she had an annoying way of looking hurt, a gentle heart-brokenness of speech that made the family, under the pretence of getting a match, go out into the hall and swear softly under its breath. But it was temper, and the family was not deceived. Also, knowing Jane, the family was quite ready to believe that while it was swearing in the hall, Jane was biting holes in the hand-embroidered face pillow in Room 33.

It had finally come to be a test of endurance. Jane vowed to stay at the hospital until the family on bended knee begged her to emerge and to brighten the world again with her presence. The family, being her father, said it would be damned if it would, and that if Jane cared to live on anaemic chicken broth, oatmeal wafers and massage twice a day for the rest of her life, why, let her.

The dispute, having begun about whether Jane should or should not marry a certain person, Jane representing the affirmative and her father the negative, had taken on new aspects, had grown and altered, and had, to be brief, become a contest between the masculine Johnson and the feminine Johnson as to which would take the count. Not that this appeared on the surface. The masculine Johnson, having closed the summer home on Jane’s defection and gone back to the city, sent daily telegrams, novels and hothouse grapes, all three of which Jane devoured indiscriminately. Once, indeed, Father Johnson had motored the forty miles from town, to be told that Jane was too ill and unhappy to see him, and to have a glimpse, as he drove furiously away, of Jane sitting pensive at her window in the pink kimono, gazing over his head at the distant hills and clearly entirely indifferent to him and his wrath.

So we find Jane, on a frosty morning in late October, in triumphant possession of the field–aunts and cousins routed, her father sulking in town, and the victor herself–or is victor feminine?–and if it isn’t, shouldn’t it be?–sitting up in bed staring blankly at her watch.

Jane had just wakened–an hour later than usual; she had rung the bell three times and no one had responded. Jane’s famous temper began to stretch and yawn. At this hour Jane was accustomed to be washed with tepid water, scented daintily with violet, alcohol-rubbed, talcum-powdered, and finally fresh-linened, coifed and manicured, to be supported with a heap of fresh pillows and fed creamed sweet-bread and golden-brown coffee and toast.

Jane rang again, with a line between her eyebrows. The bell was not broken. She could hear it distinctly. This was an outrage! She would report it to the superintendent. She had been ringing for ten minutes. That little minx of a nurse was flirting somewhere with one of the internes.

Jane angrily flung the covers back and got out on her small bare feet. Then she stretched her slim young arms above her head, her spoiled red mouth forming a scarlet O as she yawned. In her sleeveless and neckless nightgown, with her hair over her shoulders, minus the more elaborate coiffure which later in the day helped her to poise and firmness, she looked a pretty young girl, almost–although Jane herself never suspected this–almost an amiable young person.