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The Breaking Point

Chapter 16
Dick's decision to cut himself off from Elizabeth was born of his certainty that he
could not see her and keep his head. He was resolutely determined to keep his
head, until he knew what he had to offer her. But he was very unhappy. He
worked sturdily all day and slept at night out of sheer fatigue, only to rouse in the
early morning to a conviction of something wrong before he was fully awake.
Then would come the uncertainty and pain of full consciousness, and he would
lie with his arms under his head, gazing unblinkingly at the ceiling and preparing
to face another day.
There was no prospect of early relief, although David had not again referred to
his going away. David was very feeble. The look of him sometimes sent an
almost physical pain through Dick's heart. But there were times when he roused
to something like his old spirit, shouted for tobacco, frowned over his diet tray,
and fought Harrison Miller when he came in to play cribbage in much his old
tumultuous manner.
Then, one afternoon late in May, when for four days Dick had not seen Elizabeth,
suddenly he found the decision as to their relation taken out of his hands, and by
Elizabeth herself.
He opened the door one afternoon to find her sitting alone in the waiting-room,
clearly very frightened and almost inarticulate. He could not speak at all at first,
and when he did his voice, to his dismay, was distinctly husky.
"Is anything wrong?" he asked, in a tone which was fairly sepulchral.
"That's what I want to know, Dick."
Suddenly he found himself violently angry. Not at her, of course. At everything.
"Wrong?" he said, savagely. "Yes. Everything is wrong!"
Then he was angry! She went rather pale.
"What have I done, Dick?"
As suddenly as he had been fierce he was abject and ashamed. Startled, too.
"You?" he said. "What have you done? You're the only thing that's right in a
wrong world. You - "
He checked himself, put down his bag - he had just come in - and closed the
door into the hall. Then he stood at a safe distance from her, and folded his arms
 
 
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