Steve returned and Mrs. Bradford showed him the room above the garage. During his absence she got it ready for him, although she apologized for it’s condition. It had not been occupied for ten years.
“Will this be adequate for you, Mr. Joseph?” Mrs. Bradford said.
“I slept in an abandoned car last night, Mrs. Bradford,” Steve said.
A month passed and the Bradford Mansion began to take on the form it once displayed. Steve did all sorts of gardening, repair, and domestic chores. There was little time for him to contemplate his lack of identity. The conversations between he and Mrs. Bradford were business-like, formal, but cordial. He was the hired help and she was the lady of the house.
At the beginning of each day she had a list of things she wanted accomplished. What he was not able to accomplish on one day was held over till the next. The list never became smaller. Steve thought she must lay awake at night and construct tasks for him. If he were any more of a man he knew he would have surely left after a week or two. But in some measure he found enjoyment in his work and likewise Mrs. Bradford was taking on a new sense or lost sense of purpose; she really enjoyed giving orders and organizing.
It was early morning. Steve walked to the sidewalk that laid a good fifty yards from the house. He grabbed the newspaper from the box and brought it back to the house. Mrs. Bradford sat at the dinning room table with her morning coffee. Steve placed the paper on the table to her side.
“Sit, Mr. Joseph,” Mr. Bradford said., “and have your morning coffee with me.”
Another cup was at the table. Steve sat and Mrs. Bradford poured the coffee. She slid the cream and sugar close to his cup.
“Am I fired, Mrs. Bradford?” Steve said.
She smiled. “No, dismissals take place in the den.”
“That’s good to hear,” Steve said. “But sitting here with you does make me curious.”
“I’ve been watching you,” Mrs. Bradford said.
“I won’t take anything, Mrs. Bradford,” Steve said. “You can trust me.”
“I know that,” Mrs. Bradford said, “that’s not what I mean.”
“So you have been observing me,” Steve said. “That sounds better.”
“You see, Mr. Joseph,” Mrs. Bradford said. “You know the difference between watching and observing. You are educated beyond high school and a serious person. Subtle things don‘t escape your notice.”
“Maybe I was a CPA,” Steve said.
“Why would you say that?” Mrs. Bradford said.
“It just seemed natural,” Steve said.
“You could have said brain surgeon or lawyer and that would have carried as much weight,” Mrs. Bradford said, “but you said CPA.”
“Maybe I have tax problems,” Steve said.
“That’s another clue,” Mrs. Bradford said.
“Mrs. Bradford,” Steve said. “I have never asked, but what did you do before you became a reclusive old maid?”
“You are bold,” Mrs. Bradford said. “I think you are a leader and people answer to you.”
“You are avoiding my inquiry, Mrs. Bradford,” Steve said.
“You are not only bold, but persistent,” Mrs. Bradford said.
“My question, Mrs. Bradford,” Steve said.