Dangerous Days HTML version

Chapter 29
Herman Klein, watch between forefinger and thumb, climbed heavily to Anna's
room. She heard him pause outside the door, and her heart almost stopped
beating. She had been asleep, and rousing at his step, she had felt under the
pillow for her watch to see the time. It was not there.
She remembered then; she had left it below, on the table. And he was standing
outside her door. She heard him scratching a match, striking it against the panel
of her door. For so long as it would take the match to burn out, she heard him
there, breathing heavily. Then the knob turned.
She leaped out of the bed in a panic of fear. The hall, like the room, was dark,
and she felt his ponderous body in the doorway, rather than saw it.
"You will put on something and come down-stairs," he said harshly.
"I will not." She tried to keep her voice steady. "I've got to work, if you haven't.
I've got to have my sleep." Her tone rose, hysterically. "If you think you can stay
out half the night, and guzzle beer, and then come here to get me up, you can
think again."
"You are already up," he said, in a voice slowed and thickened by rage. "You will
come down-stairs."
He turned away and descended the creaking stairs again. She listened for the
next move, but he made none. She knew then that he was waiting at the foot of
the stairs.
She was half-maddened with terror by that time, and she ran to the window. But
it was high. Even if she could have dropped out, and before she could put on
enough clothing to escape in, he would be back again, his rage the greater for
the delay. She slipped into a kimono, and her knees giving way under her she
went down the stairs. Herman was waiting. He moved under the lamp, and she
saw that he held the watch, dangling.
"Now!" he said. "Where you got this? Tell me."
"I've told you how I got it."
"That was a lie."
So - Rudolph had told him!
"I like that!" she blustered, trying to gain time. "I guess it's time they gave me
something - I've worked hard enough. They gave them to all the girls."
"That is a lie also."
"I like that. Telling me I'm lying. You ask Mr. Graham Spencer. He'll tell you."
"If that is true, why do you shake so?"
"You scare me, father." She burst into frightened tears. "I don't know what's got
into you. I do my best. I give you all I make. I've kept this house going, and" - she
gained a little courage - "I've had darned little thanks for it."
"You think I believe the mill gave five thousand dollars in watches last
Christmas? To-morrow I go, with this to Mr. Clayton Spencer, not to that
degenerate son of his, and I ask him. Then I shall know."
He turned, as if about to leave her, but the alternative he offered her was too