The Chiffon Scarf
The Chiffon Scarf
EDEN FORGOT THE CHIFFON scarf. It was queer but in its own way inevitable that after her bags had gone and while the taxi waited she went back for it.
It was a long, gray chiffon scarf-so soft it seemed to have no strength, delicate and clean and smelling faintly of sachet. Altogether inanimate; altogether at her disposal. She took it in her hand, put the two letters in her enormous, flat handbag, looked at herself in the mirror for a long moment and went to the waiting taxi. She held the scarf in her hand all the way to the airport. And in the St. Louis plane, when it flew high and the air was cold, she put the scarf around her throat.
She arrived at St. Louis in time for dinner-that memorable dinner which nevertheless, because of her own preoccupation, it was always impossible to remember in its true perspective.
An hour or so before the plane reached St. Louis, she took the two letters from her handbag and read them again slowly. The first was from Averill Blaine.
"My dear, I'm enclosing tickets and want you to come to my wedding two weeks from this coming Friday, that's June the third. The tickets are for the plane trip to St. Louis. From St. Louis we'll all go together (Uncle Bill has chartered a big plane) to the Bayou Teche place where the wedding is to be. In the little chapel; do you remember it? The man I am marrying is Jim Cady; he's at the plant-so things will work out well that way: he really is brilliant and I'm a lucky girl. He's just finished designing and building a new airplane engine everybody's very excited about; there's to be a trial flight Tuesday; so we hope you can arrive Monday night in time for dinner. Then you can see the flight the next day-it really means a lot to all of us. And we'll leave for the Bayou Teche place that night. Do come, dear; if I were having bridesmaids I would want you; but the wedding's to be quite simple and poetic (I'm wearing ice-blue satin with Grandmother's rose-point veil). Noel sends word he hopes you'll come, too. To think if it hadn't been for you, Noel and I would have been married long ago. I ought to thank you for that, though I don't suppose you took Noel away from me then out of motives of sheer friendliness!-I ought to label that 'joke'; it's so hard to tell in a letter. Wire me when to have you met at the airport. Don't worry about clothes; you looked stunning the last time I saw you. All send love. Creda is here, of course. Now do come. Much love, Averill."
Below was a dashing, hasty but invincibly triumphant postscript. "Darling, wait till you see him."
How little Averill had changed since school days! But then the whole setting and circumstances of her life had not changed-abruptly and completely in 1931-as Eden's had done.
Eden wondered briefly just what those years of job-hunting and of precarious job-holding had done to her, Eden Shore. If she had been trained to a profession it would have been easier. The trouble was that even now the shallow foothold she had won was precarious; she was in no sense irreplaceable. There were too many women, just as able, just as brainy, just as tenacious as Eden Shore.
And she was tired.
She thought back to the time, five years ago now, when simply because she didn't love him and discovered it, she'd refused to marry Noel Carreaux. He'd been rich then; extravagantly rich with houses and yachts and good motors, with polo ponies and unlimited checking accounts. Almost literally unlimited, then. And while life could go on without polo ponies, the bank accounts spelled security. How could she have failed to see that!
Well, she knew better now.
The other note was from Noel himself. He wrote:
"Eden, my lovely: Averill's writing to ask you to her wedding in a little over two weeks. I hope you come. Averill's very happy; Bill Blaine pleased as punch; Creda a little upset at finding herself in any position but that of