Mr. Bangor once more winked at the six. “Why, Plonny, I thought you were rooting for Charles Gardenia West.”
“Then there’s two of ye,” said Plonny, dryly, “he being the other one.”
He removed his unlighted cigar, and spat loudly into a tall brass cuspidor, which he had taken the precaution to place for just such emergencies.
“Meachy,” said Plonny, slowly, “I wouldn’t give the job of dog-catcher to a man you couldn’t trust to stand by his friends.”
How Words can be like Blows, and Blue Eyes stab deep; how Queed sits by a Bedside and reviews his Life; and how a Thought leaps at him and will not down.
In the first crushing burst of revelation, Queed had had a wild impulse to wash his hands of everything, and fly. He would pack Surface off to a hospital; dispose of the house; escape back to Mrs. Paynter’s; forget his terrible knowledge, and finally bury it with Surface. His reason fortified the impulse at every point. He owed less than nothing to his father; he had not the slightest responsibility either toward him or for him; to acknowledge the relation between them would do no conceivable good to anybody. He would go back to the Scriptorium, and all would be as it had been before.
But when the moment came either to go or to stay, another and deeper impulse rose against this one, and beat it down. Within him a voice whispered that though he might go back to the Scriptorium, he would never be as he had been before. Whether he acknowledged the relation or not, it was still there. And, in time, his reason brought forth material to fortify this impulse, too: it came out in brief, grim sentences which burned themselves into his mind. Surface was his father. To deny the primal blood-tie was not honorable. The sins of the fathers descended to the children. To suppress Truth was the crowning blasphemy.
Queed did not go. He stayed, resolved, after a violent struggle—it was all over in the first hour of his discovery—to bear his burden, shouldering everything that his sonship involved.
By day and by night the little house stood very quiet. Its secret remained inviolate; the young man was still Mr. Queed, the old one still Professor Nicolovius, who had suffered the last of his troublesome “strokes.” Inside the darkened windows, life moved on silent heels. The doctor came, did nothing, and went. The nurse did nothing but stayed. Queed would have dismissed her at once, except that that would have been bad economy; he must keep his own more valuable time free for the earning of every possible penny. To run the house, he had, for the present, his four hundred and fifty dollars in bank, saved out of his salary. This, he figured, would last nine weeks. Possibly Surface would last longer than that: that remained to be seen.