The Breaking Point
On the seventh of June David and Lucy went to the seashore, went by the order
of various professional gentlemen who had differed violently during the course of
David's illness, but who now suddenly agreed with an almost startling unanimity.
Which unanimity was the result of careful coaching by Dick.
He saw in David's absence his only possible chance to go back to Norada
without worry to the sick man, and he felt, too, that a change, getting away from
the surcharged atmosphere of the old house, would be good for both David and
For days before they started Lucy went about in a frenzy of nervous energy,
writing out menus for Minnie for a month ahead, counting and recounting David's
collars and handkerchiefs, cleaning and pressing his neckties. In the harness
room in the stable Mike polished boots until his arms ached, and at the last
moment with trunks already bulging, came three gift dressing-gowns for David,
none of which he would leave behind.
"I declare," Lucy protested to Dick, "I don't know what's come over him. Every
present he's had since he was sick he's taking along. You'd think he was going to
be shut up on a desert island."
But Dick thought he understood. In David's life his friends had had to take the
place of wife and children; he clung to them now, in his age and weakness, and
Dick knew that he had a sense of deserting them, of abandoning them after
many faithful years.
So David carried with him the calendars and slippers, dressing-gowns and bed-
socks which were at once the tangible evidence of their friendliness and Lucy's
Watching him, Dick was certain nothing further had come to threaten his
recovery. Dick carefully inspected the mail, but no suspicious letter had arrived,
and as the days went on David's peace seemed finally re-established. He made
no more references to Johns Hopkins, slept like a child, and railed almost
pettishly at his restricted diet.
"When we get away from Dick, Lucy," he would say, "we'll have beef again, and
roast pork and sausage."
Lucy would smile absently and shake her head.