"We're not making good, Til," he said. "And I guess you know the reason.
We are too decent; that's what's the matter with us." There was no irony
in his words.
With all her sophistication, Tillie was vastly ignorant of life. He had to
"We'll have to keep a sort of hotel," he said lamely. "Sell to everybody
that comes along, and--if parties want to stay over-night--"
Tillie's white face turned crimson.
He attempted a compromise. "If it's bad weather, and they're married--"
"How are we to know if they are married or not?"
He admired her very much for it. He had always respected her. But the
situation was not less acute. There were two or three unfurnished rooms on
the second floor. He began to make tentative suggestions as to their
furnishing. Once he got a catalogue from an installment house, and tried
to hide it from her. Tillie's eyes blazed. She burned it in the kitchen
Schwitter himself was ashamed; but the idea obsessed him. Other people
fattened on the frailties of human nature. Two miles away, on the other
road, was a public house that had netted the owner ten thousand dollars
profit the year before. They bought their beer from the same concern. He
was not as young as he had been; there was the expense of keeping his
wife--he had never allowed her to go into the charity ward at the asylum.
Now that there was going to be a child, there would be three people
dependent upon him. He was past fifty, and not robust.
One night, after Tillie was asleep, he slipped noiselessly into his clothes
and out to the barn, where he hitched up the horse with nervous fingers.
Tillie never learned of that midnight excursion to the "Climbing Rose," two
miles away. Lights blazed in every window; a dozen automobiles were parked
before the barn. Somebody was playing a piano. From the bar came the
jingle of glasses and loud, cheerful conversation.
When Schwitter turned the horse's head back toward Hillfoot, his mind was
made up. He would furnish the upper rooms; he would bring a barkeeper from
town--these people wanted mixed drinks; he could get a second-hand piano
Tillie's rebellion was instant and complete. When she found him
determined, she made the compromise that her condition necessitated. She
could not leave him, but she would not stay in the rehabilitated little
house. When, a week after Schwitter's visit to the "Climbing Rose," an
installment van arrived from town with the new furniture, Tillie moved out
to what had been the harness-room of the old barn and there established