Read CHAPTER IV of The House of Toys , free online book, by Henry Russell Miller, on


In the morning the world, strangely enough, was outwardly the same. Even the sun had the bad taste to shine, as though a black shadow were not on their hearts.

They went through the routine of bath and toilet and breakfast. David glanced over his newspaper and romped a bit with Davy Junior. And because he kissed her as he left for the day, Shirley supposed that the scene of the night before had been filed away with their other tiffs, in a remote pigeonhole labeled “To Be Forgotten.” She was glad of that.

“And maybe,” she thought hopefully, “it was a good thing I said that to him. David is clever and good and dear and all that, but the trouble is he lacks ambition and push. He needs bracing up and to take things more seriously. Perhaps it will be just as well if I take the reins for a while.”

Her first act as whip was to write a long letter to Aunt Clara.

David, not guessing that the reins had been transferred to Shirley’s hands not guessing, in fact, that they had ever been out of Shirley’s hands was trudging listlessly, not to his office, but to Jim Blaisdell’s bank. His note fell due that day.

“Same old story,” he told Jim. “I’d like to renew, if you don’t mind.”

Jim fingered the note thoughtfully.

“Davy,” he said at last, “don’t you think it’s about time to clean this up? It’s been running a good while.”

David flushed and his head went up. “Of course, if you’d rather not indorse ”

“Don’t be a fool, Davy. It isn’t that. There’s nothing Mrs. Jim and I wouldn’t do for you and Shirley, and you know it. What I mean is, debt’s a bad habit. It grows on you and you get to a point where it doesn’t worry you as it ought. And it leads to other bad habits living beyond one’s means, and so on.”

David’s prideful pose collapsed suddenly. “I know,” he said wearily. “I’d like to clean this note up. It worries me quite enough. But the fact is the fact is, I’m strapped and can’t. We’ve been living from hand to mouth for a good while. And it begins to look” David’s laugh went to Jim’s heart “as if both hand and mouth would be empty soon.”

“It’s really as bad as that?”

“Worse than that.”

Jim slowly scrawled his name across the back of a new note. David got up and crossed the office, fixing his eyes which saw not on a flashlight photograph of the last bankers’ association banquet. He cleared his throat vigorously.

“It’s worse than that. Jim ” He paused.


“Jim, you don’t happen to know any one with a job living salary attached concealed about his person, do you?”


Jim whirled around in his swivel chair and stared hard at David’s back. David continued his regard of the bankers’ association banquet. “This is you in the corner, isn’t it? Because, if you know of any such job I’d be glad to take it over.”

“In your own line, of course?”

“In any line. Preferably not in my line.”

“But good lord, man! You’re not losing your nerve, are you just because business has slumped a little? What about your profession?”

“As to that,” David cleared his throat again, “as to that, I think we may say safely I haven’t made good.”

“Oh, piffle! You’re too young a man to say a fool thing like that. If it’s this note that’s bothering you ” He stopped, because David had turned and Jim saw his eyes.

“The note is only part of it. But, if you don’t mind, we’ll not discuss it. I’ll be glad if you can help me out. And I’ll try to cut this loan down a little next time somehow. I’ll not keep you any longer now.” David moved toward the door. “Remember us to Mrs. Jim, won’t you?” And he went hastily out.

“Why, damn it!” muttered Jim, left alone. “This is bad. This is entirely too bad.”

David went to a long weary day at his office, where he had nothing to do but sit at his desk and gaze into space. Shirley was mistaken. Her words had not been filed away in the remote pigeonhole, “To Be Forgotten.”

For a while Jim stared frowningly at the crumpled note in his hand. Then he began a long series of telephone calls.

The thing was still on his mind that evening when Mrs. Jim descended from the children’s dormitory and silence reigned at last through the house.

“You might as well out with it now as later,” she observed, as she took up her sewing. “What has been bothering you all evening?”

“I’ve been congratulating myself on my cleverness in the matter of choosing a wife.”

Mrs. Jim surveyed him suspiciously. “What put that into your head?”

“Davy Quentin by way of contrast, I suppose.”

“What about Davy?”

“I’m afraid he’s got into a pretty sour pickle.”

“He’s been there for four years. Though he didn’t always know it. What is the particular development now?”

“Debt, insolvency in fact, genteel poverty.”

“And worry, discontent and disillusionment at home. I’ve been afraid of that.”

“He didn’t say so.”

“Davy wouldn’t, of course.”

“It must be pretty bad, for he wants to give up his profession and take a job. You know, Davy’s liking for his work amounted almost to a mania.”

“Does he have to give it up?”

“It doesn’t meet their needs at least, their requirements. And worst of all, he’s got it into his head that he hasn’t made good.”

“But he has made good. He has done good work. And he has talent. Hasn’t he?”

“In a way. But there’s only one divine spark nowadays push. He hasn’t that. He prefers to let his work speak and push for itself. Poor Davy!”

“Poor Davy! But you’ll get him a position, of course.”

“There are times,” remarked Jim, “when you’re as innocent and credulous as Davy himself. It isn’t so simple. He’s fitted only for his own line. And there are very few men willing to pay a living salary to a greenhorn just for learning a business. In fact, after to-day I’m ready to say there is none.”

“Poor Davy!” Mrs. Jim repeated softly. She threaded a needle and bent over her sewing. Jim watched the swift deft fingers proudly; they had acquired the habit of industry in a day when the Blaisdells had had to wrestle with the problem of slender income. After a few minutes’ silence she let her sewing fall to her lap.

“I think, Jim, if you’ll have the machine around I’ll go down-town with you in the morning.”

Jim sighed in relief. “You’ve solved it, then?”

“I want to call on my latest acquisition. You remember asking, ’Why is Jonathan Radbourne?’”

Jim nodded, with the smile the thought of that gentleman always evoked.

“The answer is, of course Davy.”

“I’m wondering,” said Jim thoughtfully, “just how Davy would like it if he knew you were going to beg a job for him.”

“I’m not going to beg a job. I will merely state the case to Mr. Radbourne.”

“Suppose he concludes that making a job for Davy is too high a price to pay even for your ladyship’s favor?”

Mrs. Jim smiled confidently. “Mr. Radbourne and I understand each other. And he doesn’t have to pay for my favor. I have made him a present of it.”

Two mornings later David found a note from Jim, asking him to call at the bank. David obeyed the summons at once.

“Davy,” Jim began, “did you mean what you said the other day about a job?”

“Yes,” David answered quietly.

“Well, I took you at your word. And I think I’ve landed you one. Radbourne & Company want a good man to do mechanical drawing. They’ll pay a hundred and fifty to the right man at the start, and they’ll raise that later if you turn out well. Do you care to try it on?”

“Yes,” David said again.

“I still think you’re making a mistake but that’s your business. Shall we go around to Radbourne’s now?”


To those three monosyllables David added nothing during the few minutes’ walk. Had Jim been leading him to the prisoner’s dock David could not have taken less joy in the journey. Jim discoursed of the judge before whom the prisoner was being led.

“Odd fish, this Radbourne. Dinky little man. With whiskers. You’re apt to think he’s a fool at first. But that’s a mistake. He isn’t at all I’d hate to lose his account. He makes machines in a small way, but very well and quite profitably. His father made a reputation for turning out high-class work and the son keeps it up. We got to know him at St. Mark’s. Mrs. Jim says he’s the only man of real charity she knows not even excepting me.”

David forgot to smile.

They were shown into a small bare office, where, behind a littered flat-top desk, the judge got nimbly to his feet; although “judge” was in this case a queer fancy indeed, as David had later to confess.

There are several ways in which men can be homely, and Radbourne, of Radbourne & Company, had chosen the worst way of all. When you saw him you wanted to smile. He was little and roly-poly. His eyes were too small, their blue too light. His nose was acutely and ungracefully pug. His ears were too big and stood out from his head. His mouth was too wide. His hair and eyebrows were thick and red, too red, and his round chubby face was flanked by a pair of silky, luxuriant red Dundrearies that would have done credit to a day of hirsute achievements. His linen was strictly without blemish, and he wore a creaseless black frock coat and a waistcoat of brown broadcloth. And as he stood looking up at his tall visitors, head on one side, he reminded them of nothing so much as a sleek cock-robin who had just dined to his taste. He seemed to be in his late thirties.

David would have smiled at any other time. “Why, this,” he thought unkindly, “is a mere comic valentine.”

The comic valentine smiled, a little shyly it seemed, and put out a slender long-fingered hand.

“This,” he announced, “is a great pleasure.”

David took the hand and murmured something polite.

Blaisdell chatted briskly for a few minutes, then departed. Radbourne turned to his draftsman-to-be.

“Perhaps Mr. Blaisdell has told you we are needing a man here. Do you think, now you’ve had a look at us, you would care to come and help us?”

“That’s a pleasant way of putting it,” said David a bit grimly. “I’m needing a job badly. If you think you aren’t afraid to try me ”

Radbourne smiled protestingly. “If you knew all Mr. Blaisdell has said of you, you wouldn’t say that. You have warm friends, Mr. Quentin, if he is a sample.”

“Did he tell you I’ve failed in the only thing I ever tried?”

“He didn’t put it that way,” the little man said gently. “Nor would I, if I were you. There’s such a thing as getting into the wrong niche which isn’t failure at all. Shall we consider it settled that you will come?”

“I’d like to be sure,” David said, flushing, “that this job isn’t one of your charities.”

The little man flushed, too. “Oh, I beg of you not to think that. I expect you to prove it a good stroke of business for me. And I hope we shall please each other. Your first name is David, isn’t it?”


“And mine is Jonathan. That ought to be a good omen. Don’t you think so?” And that diffident smile, so absurdly out of place on the face of an employer, appeared again.

“Why, I hope so,” said David.

“And I hope you will like the work, though it may not be very big at first. I understand how important that is to a man.” Radbourne nodded gravely. “But I have a theory that if he puts his heart into his work he is bound to get a good deal of happiness out of it. Don’t you think so?”

“I’ll try to remember that. When do you want me to come?”

“Could you make it next Monday?”

“I will be here then.”

David went away from Jonathan Radbourne, the comic valentine; and the heartache, for some reason, was a little eased, courage a little stiffened.

“After all,” he kept saying to himself, “it’s only a gift to Shirley and the baby. And I’m glad to give it to them they’re worth anything. It’s a debt, too. I owe them everything I can give. And maybe now we can be happy as we used to be no worries or quarrels.”

He tried to keep thinking of that of the comfort in knowing that next month’s expenses could be met, of debts growing less, not bigger, of a love happily reborn under freedom from worry.

He went to Dick Holden’s office. That busy young man met him with visible embarrassment, which, however, David ignored.

“Dick,” he plunged at once into his errand, “I owe you a lot of money.”

“Oh, not much not worth speaking about. No hurry about that, old man.”

David smiled grimly at that. “It won’t be paid in a hurry can’t be. But I’m quitting the game and taking a job, and I can pay you some every month now; not much, but a nibble, anyhow. And if ever you get rushed with business and I can help you out at nights, I’d be glad to work part of my debt off that way.”

“Why,” said Dick very eagerly, “that’ll be easy. I’ve got three sets of plans I’d like to have you work out right now. And there’ll be more. You know, I’ll be pretty busy over that St. Chris ” Dick’s tongue halted sharply and the red crept over his face until even his ears were glowing.

“Of course. I haven’t congratulated you yet. I do most ”

“Don’t you, Davy Quentin!” Dick interrupted fiercely. “Don’t you go congratulating me. I feel darn small potatoes just now. You’re quitting the game because I beat you out on the St. Christopher’s job, and I ”

“Not at all,” David interrupted in his turn. “You mustn’t look at it that way. I was foozling my approach right along anyway, and the St. Christopher thing couldn’t have changed that. One swallow doesn’t kill a summer thirst, you know.” He laughed at this slender joke so heartily that Dick was almost deceived.

“Is it a pretty fair job?”

“I must say it is. And I expect to make a mighty good draftsman for Radbourne & Company. I’ve always been rather long on mechanical drawing, you may remember. And I’ve got a first-rate boss, if I’m any judge. On the whole, it looks pretty good much better than dubbing along at a game where where one hasn’t the punch, as you put it.”

Dick flushed again. For several minutes he was silent save for the drumming of his fingers on the desk. Then he stirred, with a sharp irritable movement.

“Well, I wish you luck. And I’ll have the data for those plans to-morrow.”

David took this as a hint to go. When he had gone Dick heaved a sigh of relief. During those silent minutes a strange inspiration had come to him, to suggest a partnership in lieu of the new job. Dick felt that he had had a narrow escape from an expensive generosity.

Next David called on a young architect who was looking for quarters. To him it was arranged to transfer the office lease and to sell enough of its furniture to pay the rent in arrears.

Then David went home to lay his gift at Shirley’s feet.

And yet, as he neared the apartment, he felt a strange shrinking from telling her the news, lest she guess what his gift had cost him. He wondered at that.

He found Shirley flushed with excitement over news of her own.

“Guess who’s coming!”

David could not guess.

“Aunt Clara!”

“Why, that’s fine,” he rejoiced weakly.

Shirley kissed him nicely.

“And, David, I think she’s coming to talk over things.”

“Aunt Clara generally is What things?”

“Why, our affairs. Money, you know.”

His glance sharpened. “Why do you think that?”

“Because now don’t scold!” She brushed an imaginary bit of dust from his shoulder. “Because I asked her.”

“Shirley!” His clasp of her relaxed.

“Now please, don’t let’s have another scene. What’s the use of rich relations if they can’t help you out once in a while? You’ve no right to let your foolish pride cut Davy Junior and me off from Aunt Clara’s help.”

“Luckily we shan’t need her help, because” it was not so he had thought to tender his gift “because to-day I got a job.”

“A job? Oh, David!” Her arms tightened around his neck, Aunt Clara for the moment forgotten. “What is it?”

He told her.

“Just a draftsman? That isn’t a very high position, is it?”

“Not very.”

“How much does it pay?”

He told her and saw her face fall.

“Why, that’s only a little more than you have been making.”

“At least, it’s steady and sure.”

“But even Maizie makes that much. I used to get ninety from the library. I thought men clever men ”

“Beggars,” he said, “even clever beggars, can’t be choosers.”

“But we’re not beggars, are we?”

“Your Aunt Clara will think so.”

He turned away into another room, leaving the matter of Aunt Clara suspended in the air. He saw then that he ran no risk of Shirley guessing what his gift had cost him. He wondered if he yet guessed how much it would cost.

Soon Aunt Clara arrived, in a taxicab and wearing a businesslike, purposeful air. She made herself promptly and perfectly at home and freely passed judgment on all she saw; and very little escaped Aunt Clara’s eyes. She inspected the flat and, inquiry establishing the rent, sniffingly reminded them that she and Uncle John now unhappily deceased had begun their housekeeping in a fifteen-dollar-a-month cottage. Pouncing upon a drawerful of Davy Junior’s sweaters and slippers and lacy dresses, she cited the case of John, fils, who until he was three years old had never had more than two dresses and one coatie at a time. David’s books struck her as an appalling extravagance; she and the late Uncle John had never thought of a library until they had ten thousand in bank.

“You are very poor managers, I must admit. You’ve been married more than four years, and what have you to show for it but didoes and debts, as I understand?”

The question went home to David’s heart. But it was he who, catching up Davy Junior, held out the crowing youngster for her inspection.

“We have this.”

And then, a sudden wave of emotion surging unbidden within him, he caught the child sharply to him. He turned away quickly to hide this unwonted demonstration, but Aunt Clara saw.

“Very pretty! But sentiment butters no bread.”

“Sometimes,” he returned gravely, “it makes dry bread palatable.”

“Humph!” remarked Aunt Clara. “And now let us have dinner something more than dry bread and sentiment, if you please. I never talk business on an empty stomach.”

To David, love and pride quivering from hurts lately sustained, that dinner, eaten to the accompaniment of the jarring critical voice, seemed endless. And yet, thinking of a worse thing to come, he could have wished it to last until midnight or that hour which found Aunt Clara too sleepy for business. It lasted until Aunt Clara had slowly sipped her second cup of coffee which, inquiry brought out, cost forty-three cents the pound.

Perhaps the dinner had mellowed her humor a little, for:

“You may smoke,” she nodded to David, “provided it isn’t one of those nasty little cigarettes.”

“It will have to be a pipe.”

“A pipe is the least objectionable,” she graciously conceded. “Your late Uncle John smoked one to the last.”

Then she produced and donned a pair of gold-rimmed spectacles and through them fixed upon David the sternest of glances.

“And now, since I must leave in the morning, let us get to business. You may tell me the situation.”

“What situation have you in mind?”

“The one that made you write to me for help.”

“But I didn’t write to you for help.”

“Shirley did, which is the same thing.”

“When Shirley wrote, without my knowledge, she hadn’t all the facts. I have just taken a position ”

“That is very sensible. What sort of a position?”

“A very good position, quite sufficient for our needs. And so we needn’t spoil your visit by discussing our dull affairs.”

Aunt Clara glared. “Young man, are you trying to snub me? I remember you tried that the first time I saw you.”

“I hope,” said David gently, “I haven’t given you that impression.”

“It’s just his silly pride, Aunt Clara,” Shirley put in soothingly.

Aunt Clara silenced Shirley with a gesture and kept her attention on David. “You did leave that impression. And you are thinking that I’m nosing into what is none of my business. On the contrary, young man, it is my business. You married against my advice, but it’s no credit to me to have my relatives hard up and in debt. You are in debt, I understand?”

“That is true,” David answered quietly, “but ”

“But you don’t want my money to pay them with, you were about to say? Young man, when you refuse my money, you’re a little quite a little in advance of the fact. I’m not going to give you money. I don’t believe in giving money to able-bodied young men.”

“Thank you,” said David.

“But I will give you some advice and some help. You can take them or leave them. My advice is get rid of this expensive apartment and store your goods. For the rest, I will take Shirley and the baby to live with me, paying all their expenses, until you can get on your feet. With your new position and no one but yourself to pay for, it oughtn’t to take long.”

Shirley gasped unmistakably with delight.

David turned red, but he answered, still quietly, “It is good of you to make the offer, but of course it is out of the question. I think Shirley would prefer ”

“Young man,” Aunt Clara reminded him, “in my family nothing I suggest is ever out of the question. As for Shirley, let her answer for herself.”

I think it would be very sensible,” Shirley answered for herself, eagerly.

“She means,” corrected Aunt Clara, who was nobody’s fool, “she means it would be pleasanter living in my house than scrimping here to pay for dead horses. So it would. But it would be sensible, too. You’ve got into hot water. I blame Shirley I know her. But I blame you most. A husband ought always to keep a tight rein on household affairs. Your late Uncle John well, never mind him. Because you’ve been weak, you’ve run into debt, the worst disturber of household peace. I give you a chance to be rid of it quickly. Have you a quicker way?”

“I have a better way. Since we got into the hole through our own carelessness, let us work our own way out.”

“Humph! More sentiment. You’d make your family pay for your weakness. However,” Aunt Clara rose with the air of having done her whole duty, “I’ve made my offer. It is for you to decide. I will now go into the other room while you and Shirley talk it over. I make it a rule never to intrude into discussions between husband and wife.”

She moved toward the living-room. David ushered her to the door and closed it behind her. Then he turned to Shirley. . . . .

He had made many mistakes, no doubt, been as weak and foolish as Aunt Clara said. But they had been loving faults, born of a deep desire to make Shirley happy. And he had atoned for them. He had declared himself to his world a failure; he had swallowed and forgiven the word that ought never to be on a wife’s tongue. Because it seemed best for her, he had given up a work that was very dear to him, even in failure; how dear, he had not known until he had resigned it, as he thought, forever. He had taken unto himself a master and a task that to his cast of mind could never be aught but drudgery. It was no easy thing he had done. But he had not whimpered, he had made an effort, none the less brave because so boyishly obvious, to keep up a smiling front. He had sought to offer his gift from the heart, ungrudgingly, because he had loved her, still loved her, he thought.

That which they had now to decide seemed big and vital to him. His pride was touched. A need was involved. Good sense might counsel acceptance of Aunt Clara’s offer, but he thought it cowardly. Since they had failed in the issue of making a living, the brave course was to retrieve that failure by themselves. More it did not seem to him the act of a loving woman to leave him, even for a few months, when his need of her and her love was greatest.

He did not ask her to count the cost of his gift; he knew she could not. He did want her to justify the gift, to prove that the love for which he had paid so big a price was real love dwelling in a fine brave woman’s heart. . .

Shirley was sitting at the table. He went to a chair across from her. She looked up eagerly.

“Shirley, shall you mind very much if I say, no?”

“I think the only sensible thing is to take her at her word.”

“Perhaps. But I’d rather not be under obligations to to anybody.”

“Oh, that’s just sentiment, as Aunt Clara says. And it’s quite time for us to begin being practical. Think of being rid of all those horrid debts! You don’t seem to understand what a weight they’ve been on me.”

“I think I do understand, dear. But it will be different now, because we know that if we’re careful for a while we can clean them all up. Radbourne seems a good man to work for and maybe this job will develop into something better. And I’ll be doing work on the side for Dick for a while. It won’t be so long before the debts will melt away. Then we’ll have the satisfaction of knowing we did it by ourselves, without any one’s help. We’ll have proved ourselves, don’t you see?”

“That’s more sentiment. I can’t see anything so awful in going to Aunt Clara’s. It would be just a visit, such as any one would make. It wouldn’t be for so very long, and it would do us all good. I would have a fine rest, and the change would be good for you, too. You could read and work in the evenings with no one to bother you. And you’d have a fine chance to see all your old men friends.”

“It isn’t the men I want to see just now. Shirley, dear ” He was pleading now. “Shirley, dear, I You see, it’s cost me a little, a good deal maybe letting my profession go and taking up work that isn’t isn’t so very interesting and is for another man. It’ll be a little hard just for a while of course, until I get used to the idea. And I’d like to have you here with me. Don’t you see, dear I need you.”

But the plea failed. With a sharp sinking of his heart he saw her pretty brow wrinkle in an impatient frown.

“I don’t see at all. I should think, if the position is such a good one, you’d be glad you’ve taken it. And you ought to be glad to think of Davy Junior and me out at Aunt Clara’s instead of moping around a cheap dingy flat or boarding-house.”

“You mean,” he tried to keep his voice steady, “you want to go? You’d really rather aside from saving money?”

“Want to! I’m wild to go. Of course, I’ll be homesick for you, but all husbands and wives expect to be apart sometimes on vacations and trips and oh, David, can’t you see? It’s been so long since I’ve had any really good times and I’m hungry for them starving. And out there at Aunt Clara’s, where you don’t have to think of money all the time Why, you couldn’t it isn’t like you to be so selfish as to refuse me that.”

He said no more. He sat fumbling with a napkin, his eyes cast down. He dared not lift them to Shirley’s, lest he see there a truth he had not the courage to face just then. After a little he rose, went to the door and opened it.

“Will you come in now?” he nodded to Aunt Clara. “The family council is over.”

Aunt Clara marched into the room.

“Well, what have you decided?”

“Shirley has convinced me,” he smiled queerly, “that you are right. But your hospitality is all we ought to accept. For her other expenses I will send something from my salary every month.”

“But that isn’t what I ”

“I’m afraid,” he interrupted quietly, “you will have to concede so much to me and sentiment.” . . .

In the morning Aunt Clara left.

“This is what comes,” was her benediction, “of marrying before you’re ready and living beyond your means. I hope it will be a lesson to you never to do it again.”

David was too tired to smile.

The rest of that week was too full for much thinking. The office was to be cleaned out. Trunks were to be packed, china and silver and bric-a-brac to be wrapped and boxed for storage, a thousand little preparations for moving when a new tenant for the apartment should have been found. David was grateful for that. He did not want time to think. Especially he did not want time to feel.

On Sunday morning he took Shirley and Davy Junior to the train. Not once did he let the baby out of his arms. At the very last a doubt seemed to disturb Shirley.

“David ” They were sitting in the station waiting-room then. “David, it’s dear of you to let me go like this.”

“It’s better than moping around here.”

“You don’t think I’m selfish in wanting to go, do you?”

He shook his head and kept his eyes on the child’s face.

“It doesn’t mean I don’t love you oh, with all my heart! I’ll be so lonesome for you. I’ll be thinking of you all the time and write you every day. And when I come back ! Do you know, dear, I have the feeling that now, with the new position and the debts cleaned up soon, things are going to be different with us, so much brighter.”

“Why, I think so, Shirley.”

“I’m sure of it.” She squeezed his hand. “When people love as we do, things just have to come out right.”

“Yes, Shirley.”

The gates were thrown open and they went out on the platform. The train thundered in. David took Shirley and Davy Junior into their car. He kissed her hastily and lingered longer over his good-by to the baby. Then he ran out of the car and stood again on the platform, while Shirley made the youngster wave his hand. David managed an answering smile.

He walked homeward by a long roundabout way. The rest of that day he spent in working feverishly at unfinished odds and ends of packing. Then he got out all his sketches and plans and slowly tore them into bits, until the floor around him was littered with the fragments. Last of all he came to the St. Christopher’s plans. But his hands refused his command to destroy. He sat looking at this evidence of his failure, until darkness fell and hid them from his sight. He rose then and, wrapping them up carefully, put them with the boxes for storage.

There was nothing more that he could do. He had not eaten since morning but he was not hungry. He leaned back in a chair and let all the thoughts and feelings he had held at bay during the busy days rush at him in the darkness. An incredible loneliness was upon him, a sense of loss bitterer even than loneliness. It seemed that something for which he had paid dearly had been stolen from him.