K. was moved. It was like Max to make such an offer, like him to make it

as if he were asking a favor and not conferring one. But the offer left

him untempted. He had weighed himself in the balance, and found himself

wanting. No tablet on the college wall could change that. And when, late

that night, Wilson found him on the balcony and added appeal to argument,

the situation remained unchanged. He realized its hopelessness when K.

lapsed into whimsical humor.

"I'm not absolutely useless where I am, you know, Max," he said. "I've

raised three tomato plants and a family of kittens this summer, helped to

plan a trousseau, assisted in selecting wall-paper for the room just


inside,--did you notice it?--and developed a boy pitcher with a ball that

twists around the bat like a Colles fracture around a splint!"

"If you're going to be humorous--"

"My dear fellow," said K. quietly, "if I had no sense of humor, I should go

upstairs to-night, turn on the gas, and make a stertorous entrance into

eternity. By the way, that's something I forgot!"

"Eternity?" "No. Among my other activities, I wired the parlor for

electric light. The bride-to-be expects some electroliers as wedding

gifts, and--"

Wilson rose and flung his cigarette into the grass.

"I wish to God I understood you!" he said irritably.

K. rose with him, and all the suppressed feeling of the interview was

crowded into his last few words.

"I'm not as ungrateful as you think, Max," he said. "I--you've helped a

lot. Don't worry about me. I'm as well off as I deserve to be, and

better. Good-night."


Wilson's unexpected magnanimity put K. in a curious position--left him, as

it were, with a divided allegiance. Sidney's frank infatuation for the

young surgeon was growing. He was quick to see it. And where before he

might have felt justified in going to the length of warning her, now his

hands were tied.

Max was interested in her. K. could see that, too. More than once he had

taken Sidney back to the hospital in his car. Le Moyne, handicapped at

every turn, found himself facing two alternatives, one but little better

than the other. The affair might run a legitimate course, ending in

marriage--a year of happiness for her, and then what marriage with Max, as

he knew him, would inevitably mean: wanderings away, remorseful returns to

her, infidelities, misery. Or, it might be less serious but almost equally

unhappy for her. Max might throw caution to the winds, pursue her for a

time,--K. had seen him do this,--and then, growing tired, change to some

new attraction. In either case, he could only wait and watch, eating his

heart out during the long evenings when Anna read her "Daily Thoughts"

upstairs and he sat alone with his pipe on the balcony.

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