“Wish I could go out to Senny Doane’s house and talk things over with him. No! Suppose Verg Gunch saw me going in there!
“Wish I knew some really smart woman, and nice, that would see what I’m trying to get at, and let me talk to her and—I wonder if Myra’s right? Could the fellows think I’ve gone nutty just because I’m broad-minded and liberal? Way Verg looked at me—”
Miss McGOUN came into his private office at three in the afternoon with “Lissen, Mr. Babbitt; there’s a Mrs. Judique on the ’phone—wants to see about some repairs, and the salesmen are all out. Want to talk to her?”
The voice of Tanis Judique was clear and pleasant. The black cylinder of the telephone-receiver seemed to hold a tiny animated image of her: lustrous eyes, delicate nose, gentle chin.
“This is Mrs. Judique. Do you remember me? You drove me up here to the Cavendish Apartments and helped me find such a nice flat.”
“Sure! Bet I remember! What can I do for you?”
“Why, it’s just a little—I don’t know that I ought to bother you, but the janitor doesn’t seem to be able to fix it. You know my flat is on the top floor, and with these autumn rains the roof is beginning to leak, and I’d be awfully glad if—”
“Sure! I’ll come up and take a look at it.” Nervously, “When do you expect to be in?”
“Why, I’m in every morning.”
“Be in this afternoon, in an hour or so?”
“Ye-es. Perhaps I could give you a cup of tea. I think I ought to, after all your trouble.”
“Fine! I’ll run up there soon as I can get away.”
He meditated, “Now there’s a woman that’s got refinement, savvy, class! ‘After all your trouble—give you a cup of tea.’ She’d appreciate a fellow. I’m a fool, but I’m not such a bad cuss, get to know me. And not so much a fool as they think!”
The great strike was over, the strikers beaten. Except that Vergil Gunch seemed less cordial, there were no visible effects of Babbitt’s treachery to the clan. The oppressive fear of criticism was gone, but a diffident loneliness remained. Now he was so exhilarated that, to prove he wasn’t, he droned about the office for fifteen minutes, looking at blue-prints, explaining to Miss McGoun that this Mrs. Scott wanted more money for her house—had raised the asking-price—raised it from seven thousand to eighty-five hundred—would Miss McGoun be sure and put it down on the card—Mrs. Scott’s house—raise. When he had thus established himself as a person unemotional and interested only in business, he sauntered out. He took a particularly long time to start his car; he kicked the tires, dusted the glass of the speedometer, and tightened the screws holding the wind-shield spot-light.