“Oh!...” said Ruth. It was an instant before the full significance of this news was shown to her. Then she clutched Hilda with terror-stricken fingers. “No. ... No!...” she cried. “It can’t be. ... It mustn’t be. ...”
“Why—what is it? I—I didn’t think you’d take it like this. ...”
“I love him. ... I love Bonbright,” Ruth said, in a blank, dead voice. “I was going to him. ... I was going to tell him... and he would have believed. But now—–he wouldn’t believe. He would think I came—because his father was dead—because he—he was what I thought he was when I married him. ... Don’t you see? He’d think I was coming to him for the same reason. ... He’d think I was willing to give myself to him—for that. ...”
Hilda took the slight form in her arms and rocked her to and fro, while she thought. ... “Yes,” she said, sorrowfully, “you can’t go to him now. ... It would look—oh, why couldn’t his father have made a will, as he was going to?... If he’d left his old money to charity or something. ... We thought he had. ... But there has been no will. Everything is Bonbright’s. ...”
“I’m always—too—late...” Ruth said, quietly.
Bonbright was in his own home again—in the house that had been his father’s, and that was now his. He stood in the room that had been his since babyhood. He had not thought to stand there again, nor did he know that the room and the house were his own. He had come from the shops but a half hour before; had come from that room where his father lay across his desk, one arm outstretched, the other shielding his face. There had been no time to think then; no time to realize. ... What thought had come to him was one of wonder that the death of his father could mean so little to him. Shock he felt, but not grief. He had not loved his father. Yet a father is a vital thing in a son’s life. Bonbright felt this. He knew that the departing of a father should stand as one of the milestones of life, marking a great change. It marked no change for him. Everything would go on as it had gone—even on the material side. It was inevitable that he should remember his father’s threat to disinherit him. Now the thing had come—and it made little difference, for Bonbright had laid out his life along lines of his own. ... His father would be carried to the grave, would disappear from the scene—that was all.
He saw that the things were done which had to be done, and went home to his mother, dreading the meeting. He need not have dreaded it, for she met him with no signs of grief. If she felt grief she hid it well. She was calm, stately, grave—but her eyes were not red with weeping nor was her face drawn with woe. He wondered if his father meant as little to his father’s wife as it did to his father’s son. It seemed so. There had been no affectionate passage between Bonbright and his mother. She had not unbent to him. He had hardly expected her to, though he had been prepared to respond. ...