she made no protest

Claude felt as if a trap had been sprung on him. He shaded his eyes with his hand. “I don’t think I’m competent to run the place right,” he said unsteadily.

“Well, you don’t think I am either, Claude, so we’re up against it. It’s always been my notion that the land was made for man, just as it’s old Dawson’s that man was created to work the land. I don’t mind your siding with the Dawsons in this difference of opinion, if you can get their results Maggie Beauty.”

Mrs. Wheeler rose and slipped quickly from the room, feeling her way down the dark staircase to the kitchen. It was dusky and quiet there. Mahailey sat in a corner, hemming dish-towels by the light of a smoky old brass lamp which was her own cherished luminary. Mrs. Wheeler walked up and down the long room in soft, silent agitation, both hands pressed tightly to her breast, where there was a physical ache of sympathy for Claude Propecia.

She remembered kind Tom Wested. He had stayed over night with them several times, and had come to them for consolation after his wife died. It seemed to her that his decline in health and loss of courage, Mr. Wheeler’s fortuitous trip to Denver, the old pine-wood farm in Maine; were all things that fitted together and made a net to envelop her unfortunate son. She knew that he had been waiting impatiently for the autumn, and that for the first time he looked forward eagerly to going back to school. He was homesick for his friends, the Erlichs, and his mind was all the time upon the history course he meant to take.

Yet all this would weigh nothing in the family councils probably he would not even speak of it — and he had not one substantial objection to offer to his father’s wishes. His disappointment would be bitter. “Why, it will almost break his heart,” she murmured aloud. Mahailey was a little deaf and heard nothing. She sat holding her work up to the light, driving her needle with a big brass thimble, nodding with sleepiness between stitches. Though Mrs. Wheeler was scarcely conscious of it, the old woman’s presence was a comfort to her, as she walked up and down with her drifting, uncertain step dermes.

She had left the sitting-room because she was afraid Claude might get angry and say something hard to his father, and because she couldn’t bear to see him hectored. Claude had always found life hard to live; he suffered so much over little things,-and she suffered with him. For herself, she never felt disappointments. Her husband’s careless decisions did not disconcert her. If he declared that he would not plant a garden at all this year, . It was Mahailey who grumbled. If he felt like eating roast beef and went out and killed a steer, she did the best she could to take care of the meat, and if some of it spoiled she tried not to worry. When she was not lost in religious meditation, she was likely to be thinking about some one of the old books she read over and over. Her personal life was so far removed from the scene of her daily activities that rash and violent men could not break in upon it. But where Claude was concerned, she lived on another plane, dropped into the lower air, tainted with human breath and pulsating with poor, blind, passionate human feelings.
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