And then, very quietly, Emma McChesney came in. She found him, there in the dark, as surely as a mother bear finds her cubs in a cave. She sat down beside him at the edge of the bed and put her hand on his shoulder, and brought his head down gently to her breast. And at that the room, which had been a man’s room with its pipe, its tobacco jar, its tie rack filled with cravats of fascinating shapes and hues, became all at once a boy’s room again, and the man sitting there with straight, strong shoulders and his little air of worldliness became in some miraculous way a little boy again.
[Illustration: “... became
in some miraculous way a little boy
DICTATED BUT NOT READ
About the time that Jock McChesney began to carry a yellow walking-stick down to work each morning his mother noticed a growing tendency on his part to patronize her. Now Mrs. Emma McChesney, successful, capable business woman that she was, could afford to regard her young son’s attitude with a quiet and deep amusement. In twelve years Emma McChesney had risen from the humble position of stenographer in the office of the T.A. Buck Featherloom Petticoat Company to the secretaryship of the firm. So when her young son, backed by the profound business knowledge gained in his one year with the Berg, Shriner Advertising Company, hinted gently that her methods and training were archaic, ineffectual, and lacking in those twin condiments known to the twentieth century as pep and ginger, she would listen, eyebrows raised, lower lip caught between her teeth—a trick which gives a distorted expression to the features, calculated to hide any lurking tendency to grin. Besides, though Emma McChesney was forty she looked thirty-two (as business women do), and knew it. Her hard-working life had brought her in contact with people, and things, and events, and had kept her young.
[Illustration: “Jock McChesney
began to carry a yellow
walking-stick down to work”]
“Thank fortune!” Mrs. McChesney often said, “that I wasn’t cursed with a life of ease. These massage-at-ten-fitting-at-eleven-bridge-at-one women always look such hags at thirty-five.”
But repetition will ruin the rarest of jokes. As the weeks went on and Jock’s attitude persisted, the twinkle in Emma McChesney’s eye died. The glow of growing resentment began to burn in its place. Now and then there crept into her eyes a little look of doubt and bewilderment. You sometimes see that same little shocked, dazed expression in the eyes of a woman whose husband has just said, “Isn’t that hat too young for you?”
Then, one evening, Emma McChesney’s resentment flared into open revolt. She had announced that she intended to rise half an hour earlier each morning in order that she might walk a brisk mile or so on her way down-town, before taking the subway.