“Milly, what do you think you’re going to do?”

on

“I don’t know.”

“That’s what I’m asking. That’s what I’m scared of. What if I can’t get my
money? What if they say no? What do I do then? Go back to school, and then
start over? I can’t go back to school. I tried, but they wouldn’t take me.
I’ll have to start over, Mildred, start over. My whole life I’ve been on a
rope. You know what I mean? I can’t get my money now, and then they put that
new plant in the same place. I’ve done everything I can. I’ve stayed up late
at night trying to get them to take me, but they won’t. Then one day, Mr.
Perfect called me into his office.”

“What did he say?”

“He told me they were going to give me my money. They’re going to give me
all I’ve been after. But he said they’d have to close the plant. They were
going to sell the place.”

“What did you do?”

“I thought it was a joke. I thought they were kidding me, but he made me
open my mouth, and tell him the truth. He made me tell the truth, Mildred.
They wanted to close the plant, Mr. Perfect said, but they’d have to close
and sell the place. He said it was a joke, but I’d have to tell him the
truth. That’s what he said. I didn’t believe it, but I had to tell him the
truth, Mildred.”

“And he believed you?”

“Oh, yes, Mildred, he believed me. He said that’s what I did to the man
who lost his cabin. I gave him an excuse. I gave him an excuse.”

“Don’t leave me, Milly. Stay with me, Milly. Stay. What you going to do?”

“I don’t know, Mildred. I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

“He believed you, Mildred. He believed you.”

“Yes. I believed him. Yes. Then this morning when I was at the store with
the money, I got a call from Mr. Perfect. His secretary told me. I went in
his office. He was alone, and he wanted to talk to me.”

“About what?”

“He wanted to know how much money was at the bank, and I told him. Then
he said he should ask his secretary, because the bank never called me up
without making a mistake. I was just beginning to wonder if he was crazy,
when I was told he was.”

“Who told you?”

“The secretary at the bank, Mildred. She said it was in the morning paper
that day, and they wanted the balance at the bank for some old bills of
which I’d had a few.”

“The bank.”

“It was the bank. So I called Mr. Perfect and explained this. Then I asked
him why they had to close the plant and sell the house.”

“You didn’t say anything more?”

“No. Not a word. I thought he was just being a man in love, Mildred, you
know. A man in love.”

“What did he say?”

“Forget it, Mildred. You don’t want to know.”

“No, he wanted to know why.”

“I told him. Then he just stood there staring at me. I could see he was
still in love.”

“He never said anything.”

“No. But I can tell you. He didn’t say anything. He just stood there and
stood there, Mildred, and didn’t say a word, just stood there and didn’t
say a word. Finally he just opened his mouth and said that was right, that
that was how he liked to see his men handle themselves. And then he said he
would have to think about it.

“That was all he said, Mildred. Then he turned and walked out of the
room. Then I looked at his secretary and she said, ‘You call for Mr.
Perfect?’

“And I told her. And she told me to come right down. I went down and stood
in front of his desk, Mildred, and Mr. Perfect said that was how he liked to
see men handle themselves. He also said I must have been a man in love.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Milly.”

“That’s all he said, Mildred, that’s all he said. But I know it was the
right thing to do. I know it was the right thing to do.”

“You want to say something, Milly?”

“Mildred, go to sleep.”

“No, I don’t want to say anything. Go to sleep.”

“I’m right here.”

“Go to sleep.”

“No, Mildred, I want to say something.”

“What? Go to sleep.”

“Just tell me.”

“I don’t want you to have to explain it to me.”

“It doesn’t matter what it is. Tell me, Mildred.”

“I don’t like this room. It’s boring. I never want to be here.”

“Me neither. Mildred, we’re all going to the lake. Why don’t we go there
and be on our own.”

“They’ll be waiting.”

“I know. But maybe we could just sit and talk. I don’t think talking is
going to be any help. I won’t know what to say.”

“Just talk.”

“How are you doing, Mildred?”

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