Six generations the family and the family’s business had endured honorably according to its beliefs and tenets; with the sixth generation it ended because of the way-wardness of a boy—his boy!
Mr. Foote felt a trifle dizzy, a bit oppressed. He leaned back in his chair and shut his eyes. He would go home for the day as soon as the dizziness passed, he said to himself. ... It passed. He opened his eyes and leaned toward his desk, but he stopped suddenly, his right hand flying to his breast. There was a sudden pain there; such a pain as he had never experienced before. It was near his heart. With each heartbeat there came a twisting stab of agony. Presently the spasm passed, and he sank back, pale, shaking, his forehead damp with clammy moisture. ... He tried to pull himself together. Perhaps it would be best to summon some one, but he did not want to do that. To have an employee find him so would be an invasion of his dignity. Nobody must see him. Nobody must know about this. ...
The spasm returned-departed again, leaving him gasping for breath. ... It would come again. Something told him it would come again-once more. He knew. ... A third time it would come, but never again.
He forced himself to rise. He would meet it standing. For the honor of the Foote family he would meet it on his feet, looking into its eyes. He would not shrink and cringe from it, but would face it with dignity as a Foote should face it, uttering no cry of pain or fear. It was a dignified moment, the most dignified and awful of his life. ... Five generations were looking on to see how he met it, and he was conscious of their eyes. He stared before him with level eyes, forcing a smile, and waited the seconds there remained to wait.
It was coming. He could feel its first approach, and drew himself up to the fullness of his slender height. Never had he looked so much a Foote as in that instant, never had he so nearly approached the ideal he had set for himself—for he knew.
The spasm came, but it tore no cry from him. He stood erect, with eyes that stared straight before him fearlessly until they became sightless. He held his head erect proudly. ... Then he sighed, relaxed into his chair, and lay across his desk, one arm outstretched, the other protecting his face. ...
The telephone on Malcolm Lightener’s desk rang.
“Hello!” said Lightener. “What is it? Who?... Yes, he’s right here.” He looked up to Bonbright. “Somebody wants to speak to you.”
Bonbright stepped to the instrument. “Yes,” he said, “this is Bonbright Foote. ... Who is it? Rangar?...” Suddenly he turned about and faced Malcolm Lightener blankly. He fumbled with the receiver for its hook. “My father is dead,” he said, in a hushed voice. “They just found him—at his desk. ...”