The Breaking Point
Mrs. Crosby stood on the pavement, gazing after the car as it moved off. She
had not her brother's simplicity nor his optimism. Her married years had taken
her away from the environment which had enabled him to live his busy,
uncomplicated life; where, the only medical man in a growing community, he had
learned to form his own sturdy decisions and then to abide by them.
Black and white, right and wrong, the proper course and the improper course - he
lived in a sort of two-dimensional ethical world. But to Lucy Crosby, between
black and white there was a gray no-man's land of doubt and indecision; a half-
way house of compromise, and sometimes David frightened her. He was so sure.
She passed the open door into the waiting-room, where sat two or three patient
and silent figures, and went back to the kitchen. Minnie, the elderly servant, sat
by the table reading, amid the odor of roasting chicken; outside the door on the
kitchen porch was the freezer containing the dinner ice-cream. An orderly
Sunday peace was in the air, a gesture of homely comfort, order and security.
Minnie got up.
"I'll unpin your veil for you," she offered, obligingly. "You've got time to lie down
about ten minutes. Mrs. Morgan said she's got to have her ears treated."
"I hope she doesn't sit and talk for an hour."
"She'll talk, all right," Minnie observed, her mouth full of pins. "She'd be talking to
me yet if I'd stood there. She's got her nerve, too, that woman."
"I don't like to hear you speak so of the patients who come to the house, Minnie."
"Well, I don't like their asking me questions about the family either," said Minnie,
truculently. "She wanted to know who was Doctor Dick's mother. Said she had
had a woman here from Wyoming, and she thought she'd known his people."
Mrs. Crosby stood very still.
"I think she should bring her questions to the family," she said, after a silence.
"Thank you, Minnie."
Bonnet in hand, she moved toward the stairs, climbed them and went into her
room. Recently life had been growing increasingly calm and less beset with
doubts. For the first time, with Dick's coming to live with them ten years before, a
boy of twenty-two, she had found a vicarious maternity and gloried in it. Recently
she had been very happy. The war was over and he was safely back; again she
could sew on his buttons and darn his socks, and turn down his bed at night. He