The immediate outstanding result of the holocaust at the munitions works was
the end of Natalie's dominion aver Graham. She never quite forgave him the
violence with which he threw off her shackles.
"If I'd been half a man I'd have been over there long ago," he said, standing
before her, tall and young and flushed. "I'd have learned my job by now, and I'd
be worth something, now I'm needed."
"And broken my heart."
"Hearts don't break that way, mother."
"Well, you say you are going now. I should think you'd be satisfied. There's plenty
of time for you to get the glory you want."
"Glory! I don't want any glory. And as for plenty of time - that's exactly what there
Puring the next few days she preserved an obstinate silence on the subject. She
knew he had been admitted to one of the officers' training-camps, and that he
was making rather helpless and puzzled purchases. Going into his room she
would find a dressing-case of khaki leather, perhaps, or flannel shirts of the same
indeterminate hue. She would shed futile tears over them, and order them put out
of sight. But she never offered to assist him.
Graham was older, in many ways. He no longer ran up and down the stairs
whistling, and he sought every opportunity to be with his father. They spent long
hours together in the library, when, after a crowded day, filled with the thousand,
problems of reconstructions, Clayton smoked a great deal, talked a little, rather
shame-facedly after the manner of men, of personal responsibility in the war, and
quietly watched the man who was Graham.
Out of those quiet hours, with Natalie at the theater or reading up-stairs in bed,
Clayton got the greatest comfort of his life. He would neither look back nor peer
The past, with its tragedy, was gone. The future might hold even worse things.
But just now he would live each day as it came, working to the utmost, and giving
his evenings to his boy. The nights were the worst. He was not sleeping well, and
in those long hours of quiet he tried to rebuild his life along stronger, sterner
lines. Love could have no place in it, but there was work left. He was strong and
he was still young. The country should have every ounce of energy in him. He
would re-build the plant, on bigger lines than before, and when that was done, he
would build again. The best he could do was not enough.
He scarcely noticed Natalie's withdrawal from Graham and himself. When she
was around he was his old punctilious self, gravely kind, more than ever
considerate. Beside his failure to her, her own failure to him faded into
insignificance. She was as she was, and through no fault of hers. But he was
what he had made himself.