The Breaking Point
AT half past five that afternoon David had let himself into the house with his latch
key, hung up his overcoat on the old walnut hat rack, and went into his office.
The strain of the days before had told on him, and he felt weary and not entirely
well. He had fallen asleep in his buggy, and had wakened to find old Nettie
drawing him slowly down the main street of the town, pursuing an erratic but
homeward course, while the people on the pavements watched and smiled.
He went into his office, closed the door, and then, on the old leather couch with
its sagging springs he stretched himself out to finish his nap.
Almost immediately, however, the doorbell rang, and a moment later Minnie
opened his door.
"Gentleman to see you, Doctor David."
He got up clumsily and settled his collar. Then he opened the door into his
"Come in," he said resignedly.
A small, dapper man, in precisely the type of clothes David most abominated,
and wearing light-colored spats, rose from his chair and looked at him with
"I'm afraid I've made a mistake. A Doctor Livingstone left his seat number for
calls at the box office of the Annex Theater last night - the Happy Valley
company - but he was a younger man. I - "
David stiffened, but he surveyed his visitor impassively from under his shaggy
"I haven't been in a theater for a dozen years, sir."
Gregory was convinced that he had made a mistake. Like Louis Bassett, the very
unlikeliness of Jud Clark being connected with the domestic atmosphere and
quiet respectability of the old house made him feel intrusive and absurd. He was
about to apologize and turn away, when he thought of something.
"There are two names on your sign. The other one, was he by any chance at the
theater last night?"
"I think I shall have to have a reason for these inquiries," David said slowly.