And then came a thought to Thaddeus's mind that almost stopped the beating of his heart. "Unless she has discovered it in my absence," he gasped. In an instant he was mounting the stairs to hasten to Bessie's side, as though some terrible thing were pursuing him. "Well, what was it, Ted?" she asked, as he entered the room. Perkins gave a sigh of relief. All was safe enough above-stairs at least.
"No one as yet," said Adam; "I mean that apartment for our children and their instructors." "He didn't go to bed," said the countess, observing lights in Thaddeus's rooms when the carriage had passed under the portico supported by columns copied from those of the Tuileries, which replaced a vulgar zinc awning painted in stripes like cloth.
His piazza observations were then verified, for the room was devoid of life, save for Thaddeus's own presence; but upon the floor before the hearth was a broom, and there were evidences also that the sweeping sounds he had heard had been caused by no less an instrument than this, for in the corner of the fireplace was a heap of dust, cigar ashes, and scraps of paper, which Thaddeus remembered had been upon the hearth in greater or less quantity when he had turned out the gas to retire a few hours before.
Possibly Thaddeus might have endured the pain of a right boot on a left foot, had not Norah unfortunately chosen for that member a box-toed boot, while for the right she had selected one with a very decided acute angle at its toe-end. "Just like a woman!" ejaculated Thaddeus, angrily. "Yes," returned Bessie, missing Thaddeus's point slightly.
"Still," he added, more to comfort himself than because he had any decided convictions to express "still, a baby in the house will make a difference, and Ellen and Jane will behave better now that Bessie's added responsibilities put them more upon their honor." For a time Thaddeus's prophecy was correct. Ellen and Jane did do better for nearly two months, and then but why repeat the old story?
Liscomb was late in arriving at his office. He had not quite recovered from the chagrin consequent upon his tardiness when that evening he sat down to dinner at Thaddeus's house, served an hour and ten minutes late, Ellen having been summoned by wire to town to buy a pair of shoes for one of her sister's children, the sister herself suffering from poverty and toothache.
Bessie's days were spent in anticipation of an interview of an unpleasant nature with Jane or Ellen "to-morrow." Thaddeus's former smile grew less perpetual that is, it was always visible when Bessie was before him, but when Bessie was elsewhere, so also was the token of Thaddeus's amiability.
Cousins fell ill whom she alone could comfort; nephews developed maladies for which she alone could care; and, according to Thaddeus's record, John had been compelled on penalty of a fine to attend the funerals of some twenty-four deceased intimate friends in less than two months, although the newspapers contained no mention of the existence of a possible epidemic in the Celtic quarter.
"She has taken three nights off this week." Thaddeus was tired, and, therefore, Thaddeus was grumpy. One premise only was necessary for the conclusion in fact, it was the only premise upon which a conclusion involving Thaddeus's grumpiness could find a foothold.
Should I not do so there would be many, I doubt not, who would deem Thaddeus's course unjustifiable, especially when we are all agreed that Christmas Day should be for all sorts and conditions of men the gladdest, happiest day of all the year.