The question was, or Farron chose to consider it, a purely rhetorical one.
“I suppose,” he observed, “that they are to be counted the most fortunate who love and respect at the same time.”
“Of course,” said Wayne.
“And yet perhaps they miss a good deal.”
“I don’t know what they miss,” answered Wayne, to whom the sentiment was as shocking as anything not understood can be.
“No; I’m sure you don’t,” answered his future stepfather-in-law. “Go on with your story.”
Wayne went on, but not as rapidly as he had expected. Farron kept him a long time on the interview of the afternoon before, and particularly on Mrs. Farron’s part, just the point Wayne did not want to discuss for fear of betraying the bitterness he felt toward her. But again and again Farron made him quote her words wherever he could remember them; and then, as if this had not been clear enough, he asked:
“You think my wife has definitely made up her mind against the marriage?”
“Irrevocably?” Farron questioned more as if it were the sound of the word than the meaning that he was doubting.
“Ah, you’ve been rather out of it lately, sir,” said Wayne. “You haven’t followed, perhaps, all that’s been going on.”
Wayne felt he must be candid.
“If it is your idea that your wife’s opposition could be changed, I’m afraid I must tell you, Mr. Farron—” He paused, meeting a quick, sudden look; then Farron turned his head, and stared, with folded arms, out of the window. Wayne had plenty of time to wonder what he was going to say. What he did say was surprising.
“I think you are an honest man, and I should be glad to have you working for me. I could make you one of my secretaries, with a salary of six thousand dollars.”
In the shock Pete heard himself saying the first thing that came into his head:
“That’s a large salary, sir.”
“Some people would say large enough to marry on.”
Wayne drew back.
“Don’t you think you ought to consult Mrs. Farron before you offer it to me?” he asked hesitatingly.
“Don’t carry honesty too far. No, I don’t consult my wife about my office appointments.”
“It isn’t honesty; but I couldn’t stand having you change your mind when—”
“When my wife tells me to? I promise you not to do that.”
Wayne found that the interview was over, although he had not been able to express his gratitude.
“I know what you are feeling,” said Farron. “Good-by.”
“I can’t understand why you are doing it, Mr. Farron; but—”
“It needn’t matter to you. Good-by.”
With a sensation that in another instant he might be out of the house, Wayne metaphorically caught at the door-post.
“I must see Mathilde before I go,” he said.