The Breaking Point
Dick rose the next morning with a sense of lightness and content that sent him
singing into his shower. In the old stable which now housed both Nettie and the
little car Mike was washing them both with indiscriminate wavings of the hose
nozzle, his old pipe clutched in his teeth. From below there came up the odors of
frying sausages and of strong hot coffee.
The world was a good place. A fine old place. It had work and play and love. It
had office hours and visits and the golf links, and it had soft feminine eyes and
small tender figures to be always cared for and looked after.
She liked him. She did not think he was old. She thought his profession was the
finest in the world. She had wondered if he would have time to come and see
her, some day. Time! He considered very seriously, as he shaved before the
slightly distorted mirror in the bathroom, whether it would be too soon to run in
that afternoon, just to see if she was tired, or had caught cold or anything?
Perhaps to-morrow would look better. No, hang it all, to-day was to-day.
On his way from the bathroom to his bedroom he leaned over the staircase.
"Aunt Lucy!" he called.
"The top of the morning to you. D'you think Minnie would have time to press my
blue trousers this morning?"
There was the sound of her chair being pushed back in the dining-room, of a
colloquy in the kitchen, and Minnie herself appeared below him.
"Just throw them down, Doctor Dick," she said. "I've got an iron hot now."
"Some day, Minnie," he announced, "you will wear a halo and with the angels
This mood of unreasoning happiness continued all morning. He went from house
to house, properly grave and responsible but with a small song in his heart, and
about eleven o'clock he found time to stop at the village haberdasher's and to
select a new tie, which he had wrapped and stuffed in his pocket. And which,
inspected in broad day later on a country road, gave him uneasy qualms as to its
At the luncheon table he was almost hilarious, and David played up to him, albeit
rather heavily. But Lucy was thoughtful and quiet. She had a sense of things
somehow closing down on them, of hands reaching out from the past, and