“Yes,” said Bibbs, “that’s about the way it is.”
“Well, then, I reckon it’s up to me not only to make you do it, but to make you like it!”
Bibbs shivered. And he turned upon his father a look that was almost ghostly. “I can’t,” he said, in a low voice. “I can’t.”
“Can’t go back to the shop?”
“No. Can’t like it. I can’t.”
Sheridan jumped up, his patience gone. To his own view, he had reasoned exhaustively, had explained fully and had pleaded more than a father should, only to be met in the end with the unreasoning and mysterious stubbornness which had been Bibbs’s baffling characteristic from childhood. “By George, you will!” he cried. “You’ll go back there and you’ll like it! Gurney says it won’t hurt you if you like it, and he says it’ll kill you if you go back and hate it; so it looks as if it was about up to you not to hate it. Well, Gurney’s a fool! Hatin’ work doesn’t kill anybody; and this isn’t goin’ to kill you, whether you hate it or not. I’ve never made a mistake in a serious matter in my life, and it wasn’t a mistake my sendin’ you there in the first place. And I’m goin’ to prove it—I’m goin’ to send you back there and vindicate my judgment. Gurney says it’s all ’mental attitude.’ Well, you’re goin’ to learn the right one! He says in a couple more months this fool thing that’s been the matter with you’ll be disappeared completely and you’ll be back in as good or better condition than you were before you ever went into the shop. And right then is when you begin over—right in that same shop! Nobody can call me a hard man or a mean father. I do the best I can for my chuldern, and I take full responsibility for bringin’ my sons up to be men. Now, so far, I’ve failed with you. But I’m not goin’ to keep on failin’. I never tackled a job yet I didn’t put through, and I’m not goin’ to begin with my own son. I’m goin’ to make a man of you. By God! I am!”
Bibbs rose and went slowly to the door, where he turned. “You say you give me a couple of months?” he said.
Sheridan pushed a bell-button on his desk. “Gurney said two months more would put you back where you were. You go home and begin to get yourself in the right ‘mental attitude’ before those two months are up! Good-by!”
“Good-by, sir,” said Bibbs, meekly.
Bibbs’s room, that neat apartment for transients to which the “lamidal” George had shown him upon his return, still bore the appearance of temporary quarters, possibly because Bibbs had no clear conception of himself as a permanent incumbent. However, he had set upon the mantelpiece the two photographs that he owned: one, a “group” twenty years old—his father and mother, with Jim and Roscoe as boys—and the other a “cabinet” of Edith at sixteen. And upon a table were the books he had taken from his