“All right,” said Bibbs, gently. “I can get along.”
Sheridan raised his hands sardonically, as in prayer. “O God,” he said, “this boy was crazy enough before he began to earn his nine dollars a week, and now his money’s gone to his head! Can’t You do nothin’ for him?” Then he flung his hands apart, palms outward, in a furious gesture of dismissal. “Get out o’ this room! You got a skull that’s thicker’n a whale’s thigh-bone, but it’s cracked spang all the way across! You hated the machine-shop so bad when I sent you there, you went and stayed sick for over two years—and now, when I offer to take you out of it and give you the mint, you holler for the shop like a calf for its mammy! You’re cracked! Oh, but I got a fine layout here! One son died, one quit, and one’s a loon! The loon’s all I got left! H. P. Ellersly’s wife had a crazy brother, and they undertook to keep him at the house. First morning he was there he walked straight though a ten-dollar plate-glass window out into the yard. He says, ‘Oh, look at the pretty dandelion!’ That’s what you’re doin’! You want to spend your life sayin’, ’Oh, look at the pretty dandelion!’ and you don’t care a tinker’s dam’ what you bust! Well, mister, loon or no loon, cracked and crazy or whatever you are, I’ll take you with me Monday morning, and I’ll work you and learn you —yes, and I’ll lam you, if I got to—until I’ve made something out of you that’s fit to be called a business man! I’ll keep at you while I’m able to stand, and if I have to lay down to die I’ll be whisperin’ at you till they get the embalmin’-fluid into me! Now go on, and don’t let me hear from you again till you can come and tell me you’ve waked up, you poor, pitiful, dandelion-pickin’ sleep-walker!”
Bibbs gave him a queer look. There was something like reproach in it, for once; but there was more than that—he seemed to be startled by his father’s last word.
There was sleet that evening, with a whopping wind, but neither this storm nor that other which so imminently threatened him held place in the consciousness of Bibbs Sheridan when he came once more to the presence of Mary. All was right in his world as he sat with her, reading Maurice Maeterlinck’s Alladine and Palomides. The sorrowful light of the gas-jet might have been May morning sunshine flashing amber and rose through the glowing windows of the Sainte-Chapelle, it was so bright for Bibbs. And while the zinc-eater held out to bring him such golden nights as these, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men might not serve to break the spell.
Bibbs read slowly, but in a reasonable manner, as if he were talking; and Mary, looking at him steadily from beneath her curved fingers, appeared to discover no fault. It had grown to be her habit to look at him whenever there was an opportunity. It may be said, in truth, that while they were together, and it was light, she looked at him all the time.