Spear did not offer his hand, but Mr. Thorndike took it, and shook it, and said: “I want to meet your mother.”
And when Mrs. Spear tried to stop sobbing long enough to tell him how happy she was, and how grateful, he instead told her what a fine son she had, and that he remembered when Spear used to carry flowers to town for her. And she remembered it, too, and thanked him for the flowers. And he told Spear, when Isaacs & Sons went bankrupt, which at the rate they were giving away their money to the Hebrew Hospital would be very soon, Spear must come back to him. And Isaacs & Sons were delighted at the great man’s pleasantry, and afterward repeated it many times, calling upon each other to bear witness, and Spear felt as though some one had given him a new backbone, and Andrews, who was guiding Thorndike out of the building, was thinking to himself what a great confidence man had been lost when Thorndike became a banker.
* * * * *
The chief clerk and two bank messengers were waiting by the automobile with written calls for help from the office. They pounced upon the banker and almost lifted him into the car.
“There’s still time!” panted the chief clerk.
“There is not!” answered Mr. Thorndike. His tone was rebellious, defiant. It carried all the authority of a spoiled child of fortune. “I’ve wasted most of this day,” he declared, “and I intend to waste the rest of it. Andrews,” he called, “jump in, and I’ll give you a lunch at Sherry’s.”
The vigilant protector of the public dashed back into the building.
“Wait till I get my hat!” he called.
As the two truants rolled up the avenue the spring sunshine warmed them, the sense of duties neglected added zest to their holiday, and young Mr. Andrews laughed aloud.
Mr. Thorndike raised his eyebrows inquiringly.
“I was wondering,” said Andrews, “how much it cost you to keep Spear out of jail?”
“I don’t care,” said the great man guiltily; “it was worth it.”
She loved him so, that when he went away to a little war in which his country was interested she could not understand, nor quite forgive.
As the correspondent of a newspaper, Chesterton had looked on at other wars; when the yellow races met, when the infidel Turk spanked the Christian Greek; and one he had watched from inside a British square, where he was greatly alarmed lest he should be trampled upon by terrified camels. This had happened before he and she had met. After they met, she told him that what chances he had chosen to take before he came into her life fell outside of her jurisdiction. But now that his life belonged to her, this talk of his standing up to be shot at was wicked. It was worse than wicked; it was absurd.
When the Maine sank in Havana harbor and the word “war” was appearing hourly in hysterical extras, Miss Armitage explained her position.