The Breaking Point
It was Jim Wheeler's turn to take up the shuttle. A girl met in some casual
fashion; his own youth and the urge of it, perhaps the unconscious family
indulgence of an only son - and Jim wove his bit and passed on.
There had been mild contention in the Wheeler family during all the spring.
Looking out from his quiet windows Walter Wheeler saw the young world going
by a-wheel, and going fast. Much that legitimately belonged to it, and much that
did not in the laxness of the new code, he laid to the automobile. And doggedly
he refused to buy one.
"We can always get a taxicab," was his imperturbable answer to Jim. "I pay pretty
good-sized taxi bills without unpleasant discussion. I know you pretty well too,
Jim. Better than you know yourself. And if you had a car, you'd try your best to
break your neck in it."
Now and then Jim got a car, however. Sometimes he rented one, sometimes he
cajoled Nina into lending him hers.
"A fellow looks a fool without one," he would say to her. "Girls expect to be taken
out. It's part of the game."
And Nina, always reached by that argument of how things looked, now and then
reluctantly acquiesced. But a night or two after David and Lucy had started for
the seashore Nina came in like a whirlwind, and routed the family peace
"Father," she said, "you just must speak to Jim. He's taken our car twice at night
without asking for it, and last night he broke a spring. Les is simply crazy."
"Taken your car!" Mrs. Wheeler exclaimed.
"Yes. I hate telling on him, but I spoke to him after the first time, and he did it
Mrs. Wheeler glanced at her husband uneasily. She often felt he was too severe
"Don't worry," he said grimly. "He'll not do it again."
"If we only had a car of our own " Mrs. Wheeler protested.
"You know what I think about that, mother. I'm not going to have him joy-riding
over the country, breaking his neck and getting into trouble. I've seen him driving
Wallace Sayre's car, and he drives like a fool or a madman."