The Breaking Point
David did not sleep well that night. He had not had his golf after all, for the Homer
baby had sent out his advance notice early in the afternoon, and had himself
arrived on Sunday evening, at the hour when Minnie was winding her clock and
preparing to retire early for the Monday washing, and the Sayre butler was
announcing dinner. Dick had come in at ten o'clock weary and triumphant, to
announce that Richard Livingstone Homer, sex male, color white, weight nine
pounds, had been safely delivered into this vale of tears.
David lay in the great walnut bed which had been his mother's, and read his
prayer book by the light of his evening lamp. He read the Evening Prayer and the
Litany, and then at last he resorted to the thirty-nine articles, which usually had a
soporific effect on him. But it was no good.
He got up and took to pacing his room, a portly, solid old figure in striped
pajamas and the pair of knitted bedroom slippers which were always Mrs.
Morgan's Christmas offering. "To Doctor David, with love and a merry Xmas,
from Angeline Morgan."
At last he got his keys from his trousers pocket and padded softly down the stairs
and into his office, where he drew the shade and turned on the lights. Around him
was the accumulated professional impedimenta of many years; the old-fashioned
surgical chair; the corner closet which had been designed for china, and which
held his instruments; the bookcase; his framed diplomas on the wall, their
signatures faded, their seals a little dingy; his desk, from which Dick had
removed the old ledger which had held those erratic records from which, when
he needed money, he had been wont - and reluctant - to make out his bills.
Through an open door was Dick's office, a neat place of shining linoleum and
small glass stands, highly modern and business-like. Beyond the office and
opening from it was his laboratory, which had been the fruit closet once, and into
which Dick on occasion retired to fuss with slides and tubes and stains and a
Sometimes he called David in, and talked at length and with enthusiasm about
such human interest things as the Staphylococcus pyogenes aureus, and the
Friedlander bacillus. The older man would listen, but his eyes were oftener on
Dick than on the microscope or the slide.
David went to the bookcase and got down a large book, much worn, and carried
it to his desk
An hour or so later he heard footsteps in the hall and closed the book hastily. It
was Lucy, a wadded dressing gown over her nightdress and a glass of hot milk in