The silver-haired old man gasped for utterance.
Ive lost my little veto, he said, brokenly, at length.
Where did you see it last? asked Clarence, ever practical.
Its that fellow Rackstraw! cried the old man, in feeble rage. That bounder Rackstraw! Hes the man behind it all. The robber!
It was his mother who spoke. Her voice seemed to rip the air into a million shreds and stamp on them. There are few things more terrible than a Chicago voice raised in excitement or anguish.
Never mind your pop and his old veto. He didnt know he had one till the paper said hed lost it. You listen to me. Clarence, we are ruined.
Clarence looked at her inquiringly.
Ruined much? he asked.
Bed-rock, said his mother. If we have sixty thousand dollars a year after this, its all we shall have.
A low howl escaped from the stricken old man on the sofa.
Clarence betrayed no emotion.
Ah, he said, calmly. How did it happen?
Ive just had a cable from Chicago, from your grand-pop. Hes been trying to corner wheat. He always was an impulsive old gazook.
But surely, said Clarence, a dim recollection of something he had heard or read somewhere coming to him, isnt cornering wheat a rather profitable process?
Sure, said his mother. Sure it is. I guess dads try at cornering wheat was about the most profitable thing that ever happenedto the other fellows. It seems like they got busy and clubbed fifty-seven varieties of Hades out of your old grand-pop. Hes got to give up a lot of his expensive habits, and one of them is sending money to us. Thats how it is.
And on top of that, mind you, moaned Lord Runnymede, I lose my little veto. Its bitterbitter.
Clarence lit a cigarette and drew at it thoughtfully. I dont see how were going to manage on twelve thousand quid a year, he said.
His mother crisply revised his pronouns.
We arent, she said. Youve got to get out and hustle.
Clarence looked at her blankly.
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