Dangerous Days HTML version

Chapter 3
There was no moral to be adduced from Graham's waking the next morning. He
roused, reluctantly enough, but blithe and hungry. He sang as he splashed in his
shower, chose his tie whistling, and went down the staircase two steps at a time
to a ravenous breakfast.
Clayton was already at the table in the breakfast room, sitting back with the
newspaper, his coffee at his elbow, the first cigarette of the morning half smoked.
He looked rather older in the morning light. Small fine threads had begun to show
themselves at the corners of his eyes. The lines of repression from the nostrils to
the corners of the mouth seemed deeper. But his invincible look of boyishness
persisted, at that.
There was no awkwardness in Graham's "Morning, dad." He had not forgotten
the night before, but he had already forgiven himself. He ignored the newspaper
at his plate, and dug into his grapefruit.
"Anything new?" he inquired casually.
"You might look and see," Clayton suggested, good-naturedly.
"I'll read going down in the car. Can't stand war news on an empty stomach.
Mother all right this morning?"
"I think she is still sleeping."
"Well, I should say she needs it, after last night. How in the world we manage,
with all the interesting people in the world, to get together such a dreary lot as
that - Lord, it was awful."
Clayton rose and folded his paper.
"The car's waiting," he said. "I'll be ready in five minutes."
He went slowly up the stairs. In her pink bedroom Natalie had just wakened.
Madeleine, her elderly French maid, had brought her breakfast, and she was
lying back among the pillows, the litter of the early mail about her and a morning
paper on her knee. He bent over and kissed her, perfunctorily, and he was quick
to see that her resentment of the evening before bad survived the night.
"Sleep well?" he inquired, looking down at her. She evaded his eyes.
"Not particularly."
"Any plans for to-day?"
"I'll just play around. I'm lunching out, and I may run out with Rodney to Linndale.
The landscape men are there today."
She picked up the newspaper as though to end the discussion. He saw then that
she was reading the society news, and he rather more than surmised that she
had not even glanced at the black headings which on the first page announced
the hideous casualties of the Somme.
"Then you've given the planting contract?"
"Some things have to go in in the fall, Clay. For heaven's sake, don't look like a
thunder cloud."
"Have you given the landscape contract?"
"Yes. And please go out. You make my head ache."
"How much is it to be?"