THE ARM-CHAIR AT THE INN
—with the firm’s letter in his hand, and for an hour never opened his lips. That afternoon he went to bed; in three months he was dead! It had broken his heart.
“I, too, sat with a paper in my hand—his brother’s telegram. Had I done right or wrong? I am still wondering and I have not yet solved the question. Had I never crossed his path and had he kept on in his editor’s chair, giving out short, crisp comments on the life of the day, he would, no doubt, be alive and earning a fair support. I had attempted the impossible and failed. The square peg in the round hole had split the plank!”
“Better split it,” remarked Louis, “than stop all driving. Poor fellow, I’m sorry for him; nothing hurts like having your pride dragged in the mud, and nothing brings keener suffering—I’ve seen it and know. Why didn’t you brace him up again, High-Muck?”
“I did try, but it was too late. Just before he died he wrote me the old refrain: ‘At twenty-five I might have weathered it, but not at fifty.’”
Herbert drew his chair closer, assuming his favorite gesture, his hands on the edge of the table.