She saw him one day grow pale; his eyes began to close. She had made up her mind to leave him when Miss Gregory came in, and with a quicker eye and a more active habit of mind, said at once:
“I think Mr. Farron has had enough excitement for one day.”
Adelaide smiled up at the girl almost insolently.
“Is a visit from a wife an excitement?” she asked. Miss Gregory was perfectly grave.
“The greatest,” she said.
Adelaide yielded to her own irritation.
“Well,” she said, “I shan’t stay much longer.”
“It would be better if you went now, I think, Mrs. Farron.”
Adelaide looked at Vincent. It was silly of him, she thought, to pretend he didn’t hear. She bent over him.
“Your nurse is driving me away from you, dearest,” she murmured.
He opened his eyes and took her hand.
“Come back to-morrow early—as early as you can,” he said.
She never remembered his siding against her before, and she swept out into the hallway, saying to herself that it was childish to be annoyed at the whims of an invalid.
Miss Gregory had followed her.
“Mrs. Farron,” she said, “do you mind my suggesting that for the present it would be better not to talk to Mr. Farron about anything that might worry him, even trifles?”
“You know very little of Mr. Farron,” she said, “if you think he worries over trifles.”
“Any one worries over trifles when he is in a nervous state.”
Adelaide passed by without answering, passed by as if she had not heard. The suggestion of Vincent nervously worrying over trifles was one of the most repellent pictures that had ever been presented to her imagination.
The firm for which Wayne worked was young and small—Benson & Honaton. They made a specialty of circularization in connection with the bond issues in which they were interested, and Wayne had charge of their “literature,” as they described it. He often felt, after he had finished a report, that his work deserved the title. A certain number of people in Wall Street disapproved of the firm’s methods. Sometimes Pete thought this was because, for a young firm, they had succeeded too quickly to please the more deliberate; but sometimes in darker moments he thought there might be some justice in the idea.
During the weeks that Farron was in the hospital Pete, despite his constant availability to Mathilde, had been at work on his report on a coal property in Pennsylvania. He was extremely pleased with the thoroughness with which he had done the job. His report was not favorable. The day after it was finished, a little after three, he received word that the firm wanted to see him. He was always annoyed with himself that these messages caused his heart to beat a trifle faster. He couldn’t help associating them with former hours with his head-master or in the dean’s office. Only he had respected his head-master and even the dean, whereas he was not at all sure he respected Mr. Benson and he was quite sure he did not respect Mr. Honaton.