“Behave like who?” she repeated, and upon his yielding to her petulant insistence, she made up her mind that the only thing to do was to tell Dr. Gurney about it.
“Like Bildad the Shuhite!” was what Bibbs said.
The outward usualness of things continued after dinner. It was Sheridan’s custom to read the evening paper beside the fire in the library, while his wife, sitting near by, either sewed (from old habit) or allowed herself to be repeatedly baffled by one of the simpler forms of solitaire. To-night she did neither, but sat in her customary chair, gazing at the fire, while Sheridan let the unfolded paper rest upon his lap, though now and then he lifted it, as if to read, and let it fall back upon his knees again. Bibbs came in noiselessly and sat in a corner, doing nothing; and from a “reception-room” across the hall an indistinct vocal murmur became just audible at intervals. Once, when this murmur grew louder, under stress of some irrepressible merriment, Edith’s voice could be heard—“Bobby, aren’t you awful!” and Sheridan glanced across at his wife appealingly.
She rose at once and went into the “reception-room”; there was a flurry of whispering, and the sound of tiptoeing in the hall—Edith and her suitor changing quarters to a more distant room. Mrs. Sheridan returned to her chair in the library.
“They won’t bother you any more, papa,” she said, in a comforting voice. “She told me at lunch he’d ’phoned he wanted to come up this evening, and I said I thought he’d better wait a few days, but she said she’d already told him he could.” She paused, then added, rather guiltily: “I got kind of a notion maybe Roscoe don’t like him as much as he used to. Maybe—maybe you better ask Roscoe, papa.” And as Sheridan nodded solemnly, she concluded, in haste: “Don’t say I said to. I might be wrong about it, anyway.”
He nodded again, and they sat for some time in a silence which Mrs. Sheridan broke with a little sniff, having fallen into a reverie that brought tears. “That Miss Vertrees was a good girl,” she said. “She was all right.”
Her husband evidently had no difficulty in following her train of thought, for he nodded once more, affirmatively.
“Did you—How did you fix it about the—the Realty Company?” she faltered. “Did you—”
He rose heavily, helping himself to his feet by the arms of his chair. “I fixed it,” he said, in a husky voice. “I moved Cantwell up, and put Johnston in Cantwell’s place, and split up Johnston’s work among the four men with salaries high enough to take it.” He went to her, put his hand upon her shoulder, and drew a long, audible, tremulous breath. “It’s my bedtime, mamma; I’m goin’ up.” He dropped the hand from her shoulder and moved slowly away, but when he reached the door he stopped and spoke again, without turning to look at her.