The knife seemed to move efficiently of its own accord, mincing the leeks and the chervil with quick, crisp strokes. It was fortunate for him that his hands knew what to do, as his mind was decidedly somewhere other than on the sauce.
He was not afraid or anxious; he did not consider such to be part of his nature, no matter what Archie might blithely assume. He was... concerned. Yes, that was the word. After all, it would be quite natural to be concerned when something threatened the proper balance of the household.
He had heard the raised voices when the office door opened; the words were unclear, but there was no mistaking the biting, bitter tone in the final exchange, nor the decisive slamming of the front door.
It was only natural to be concerned when they battled like this; not over a case or a client, but against themselves, against each other. He knew that in such a struggle there would never be a winner, only an uneasy truce; detente, at best. Mutual victory could be achieved, but only if they both saw the truth for what it was, accepted it, and bowed to the inevitable.
Bow? He shook his head and sighed.
The buzzer signaling for beer interrupted his abstraction. He collected himself and prepared a tray.
When he entered the office, Wolfe was holding open a book, but he was glaring in the direction of the unoccupied desk. As he set down the tray, Wolfe said, "He thinks he is quitting again. Pfui. He will be back, Fritz."
Fritz nodded. He hoped so. All the orchids in all the world would not be enough, if Archie did not come back. He left the great man alone with his beer and his thoughts, and returned to the kitchen.