As for Jimmy Wallace, he was really out of it. But he went home feeling rather blue.
THE SHORT CIRCUIT AGAIN
It was, after all, out of that limbo that Jimmy had spoken of as the margin of the unforeseeable, that the blind instrument of Fate appeared. He was a country lawyer from down-state, who, for a client of his own, had retained Rodney to defend a will that presented complexities in the matter of perpetuities and contingent remainders utterly beyond his own powers. He’d been in Chicago three or four days, spending an hour or two of every day in Rodney’s office in consultation with him, and, for the rest of the time, dangling about, more or less at a loose end. A belated sense of this struck Rodney when, at the end of their last consultation, the country lawyer shook hands with him and announced his departure for home on the five o’clock train.
“I’m sorry I haven’t been able to do more,” Rodney said,—“do anything really, in the way of showing you a good time. As a matter of fact, I’ve spent every evening this week here in the office.”
“Oh, I haven’t lacked for entertainment,” the man said. “We hayseeds find the city a pretty lively place. I went to see a show just last night called The Girl Up-stairs. I suppose you’ve seen it.”
“No,” said Rodney, “I haven’t.”
“Well, the title’s pretty raw, of course, but the show’s all right. Nothing objectionable about it, and it was downright funny. I haven’t laughed so hard in a year. Pretty tunes, too. I tried to-day to get some records of it but they didn’t have any yet. If you want a real good time, you go to see it.”
The client was working his way to the door all the while and Rodney followed him, so that the last part of this conversation took place in the outer office. Rodney saw the man off with a final hand-shake, closed the door after him and strolled irresolutely back toward Miss Beach’s desk.
It was true, as he had told his client, that he had been spending most of his evenings lately in his office, and it was also true that he had an immense amount of work to do; he’d been taking it on rather recklessly during the last two months. But they’d been pretty sterile, those long solitary evening hours. He’d worked fitfully, grinding away by brute strength for a while, without interest, without imagination, and then, in a frenzy of impatience, thrusting the legal rubbish out of the way and letting the enigma of his great failure usurp, once more, his mind and his memories.
It had occurred to him to wonder, as he stood listening to his client’s enthusiastic description of the show at the Globe, whether it would be possible, in any surroundings, for him, for an hour or two, to laugh and be jolly—and forget. It might be an experiment worth trying!
“Telephone over to the University Club,” he said suddenly to Miss Beach, “and see if you can get me a seat for The Girl Up-stairs.”