They were beside the fireless fire-place, in the evening.
"Georgie," she said, "you haven't given me the list of your household expenses while I was away."
"No, I — Haven't made it out yet." Very affably: "Gosh, we must try to keep down expenses this year."
"That's so. I don't know where all the money goes to. I try to economize, but it just seems to evaporate."
"I suppose I oughtn't to spend so much on cigars. Don't know but what I'll cut down my smoking, maybe cut it out entirely. I was thinking of a good way to do it, the other day: start on these cubeb cigarettes, and they'd kind of disgust me with smoking."
"Oh, I do wish you would! It isn't that I care, but honestly, George, it is so bad for you to smoke so much. Don't you think you could reduce the amount? And George — I notice now, when you come home from these lodges and all, that sometimes you smell of whisky. Dearie, you know I don't worry so much about the moral side of it, but you have a weak stomach and you can't stand all this drinking."
"Weak stomach, hell! I guess I can carry my booze about as well as most folks!"
"Well, I do think you ought to be careful. Don't you see, dear, I don't want you to get sick."
"Sick rats! I'm not a baby! I guess I ain't going to get sick just because maybe once a week I shoot a highball! That's the trouble with women. They always exaggerate so."
"George, I don't think you ought to talk that way when I'm just speaking for your own good."
"I know, but gosh all fishhooks, that's the trouble with women! They're always criticizing and commenting and bringing things up, and then they say it's 'for your own good'!"
"Why, George, that's not a nice way to talk, to answer me so short."
"Well, I didn't mean to answer short, but gosh, talking as if I was a kindergarten brat, not able to tote one highball without calling for the St. Mary's ambulance! A fine idea you must have of me!"
"Oh, it isn't that; it's just — I don't want to see you get sick and — My, I didn't know it was so late! Don't forget to give me those household accounts for the time while I was away."
"Oh, thunder, what's the use of taking the trouble to make 'em out now? Let's just skip 'em for that period."
"Why, George Babbitt, in all the years we've been married we've never failed to keep a complete account of every penny we've spent!"
"No. Maybe that's the trouble with us."
"What in the world do you mean?"
"Oh, I don't mean anything, only — Sometimes I get so darn sick and tired of all this routine and the accounting at the office and expenses at home and fussing and stewing and fretting and wearing myself out worrying over a lot of junk that doesn't really mean a doggone thing, and being so careful and — Good Lord, what do you think I'm made for? I could have been a darn good orator, and here I fuss and fret and worry — "
"Don't you suppose I ever get tired of fussing? I get so bored with ordering three meals a day, three hundred and sixty-five days a year, and ruining my eyes over that horrid sewing-machine, and looking after your clothes and Rone's and Ted's and Tinka's and everybody's, and the laundry, and darning socks, and going down to the Piggly Wiggly to market, and bringing my basket home to save money on the cash-and-carry and — EVERYTHING!"
"Well, gosh," with a certain astonishment, "I suppose maybe you do! But talk about — Here I have to be in the office every single day, while you can go out all afternoon and see folks and visit with the neighbors and do any blinkin' thing you want to!"
"Yes, and a fine lot of good that does me! Just talking over the same old things with the same old crowd, while you have all sorts of interesting people coming in to see you at the office."
"Interesting! Cranky old dames that want to know why I haven't rented their dear precious homes for about seven times their value, and bunch of old crabs panning the everlasting daylights out of me because they don't receive every cent of their rentals by three G.M. on the second of the month! Sure! Interesting! Just as interesting as the small pox!"
"Now, George, I will not have you shouting at me that way!"
"Well, it gets my goat the way women figure out that a man doesn't do a darn thing but sit on his chair and have lovey-dovey conferences with a lot of classy dames and give 'em the glad eye!"
"I guess you manage to give them a glad enough eye when they do come in."
"What do you mean? Mean I'm chasing flappers?"
"I should hope not — at your age!"