The Golden Slipper
Problem 7. The Doctor, His Wife, And The Clock
Violet had gone to her room. She had a task before her. That afternoon, a packet had been
left at the door, which, from a certain letter scribbled in one corner, she knew to be from
her employer. The contents of that packet must be read, and she had made herself
comfortable with the intention of setting to work at once. But ten o'clock struck and then
eleven before she could bring herself to give any attention to the manuscript awaiting her
perusal. In her present mood, a quiet sitting by the fire, with her eyes upon the changeful
flame, was preferable to the study of any affair her employer might send her. Yet,
because she was conscious of the duty she thus openly neglected, she sat crouched over
her desk with her hand on the mysterious packet, the string of which, however, she made
no effort to loosen.
What was she thinking of?
We are not alone in our curiosity on this subject. Her brother Arthur, coming unperceived
into the room, gives tokens of a similar interest. Never before had he seen her oblivious
to an approaching step; and after a momentary contemplation of her absorbed figure, so
girlishly sweet and yet so deeply intent, he advances to her side, and peering earnestly
into her face, observes with a seriousness quite unusual to him:
"Puss, you are looking worried,--not like yourself at all. I've noticed it for some time.
What's up. Getting tired of the business?"
"No--not altogether--that is, it's not that, if it's anything. I'm not sure that it's anything. I--
She had turned back to her desk and was pushing about the various articles with which it
was plentifully bespread; but this did not hide the flush which had crept into her cheeks
and even dyed the snowy whiteness of her neck. Arthur's astonishment at this evidence of
emotion was very great; but he said nothing, only watched her still more closely, as with
a light laugh she regained her self-possession, and with the practical air of a philosopher
uttered this trite remark:
"Everyone has his sober moments. I was only thinking--"
"Of some new case?
"Not exactly." The words came softly but with a touch of mingled humour and gravity
which made Arthur stare again.
"See here, Puss!" he cried. His tone had changed. "I've just come up from the den. Father
and I have had a row--a beastly row."