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Full text of "On fortune's road; stories of business"

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Miss Grosvenor. 



On Fortune's Road 

Stories of Business 

By 
Will Payne 

Author of " The Story of Eva/* ««The Money Captain," etc. 



With Eight full-page drawings by Thomas Fogarty 




Chicago 

A. C. McClurg ^ Co. 
1902 



Copyright 

A. C. McClurg & Co. 

1902 

Published September 13, 1902 



3 1211 00696944 4 



CONTENTS 

Page 
In the Panic 1 1 

A Day in Wheat ......... 39 

The Plant at High Grove 75 

The Chairman's Politics 137 

The Lame Boy .171 

The Salt Crowd's Trade 185 

The End of the Deal 213 



\7J^\'\ 



ILL USTRATIONS 

Miss Grosvenor Frontispiece 

PAGE 

"Her touch quieted the young man" ... 28 

** In the gallery" 50 

•* Her humility touched his hard mood " . . . 126 
** 'I'll admit I 'm a pirate. But who's going to 

cast the first stone at me ? ' " . . . , 164 

** A moment when youth should be triumphant " . 172 

** * I like your nerve . . . What do you feed it on ? ' " 206 
** The dusk . . . silently engulfed the object of her 

search" 284 



IN THE PANIC 



On Fortune's Road 



IN THE PANIC 

TURNING the corner hurriedly, Miss 
Grosvenor saw that the run had be- 
gun. A file of savings-bank depos- 
itors, already a rod long, reached from 
the open door of the bank, forming along the inner 
edge of the broad flagging under the supervision of 
two policemen, making an odd little human fringe 
to the base of the mountainous building that tow- 
ered in glass and granite fourteen stories above 
them. 

Even as Miss Grosvenor passed, others came. 
They seemed to spring out of the flagging. There 
were working-men and a few dressed like clerks. 
There were women, many of them shabby and of 
a foreign aspect. One clutched a bank-book, and 
with the other hand led a girl of eight or nine years, 
who moved along with the slow procession docilely, 
staring with a child's wonder. Nearer the door 
was a young and well-dressed woman, who bit her 
hp continually, and kept her eyes restlessly averted 

1 1 



IN THE PANIC 

from those who passed along the street. One could 
see that she was ashamed of being found in that 
out-at-elbows company, of standing out there in 
the street and confessing her anxiety for the few 
dollars she had on deposit. All eyes turned again 
and again to the open doorway ahead, through 
which the line slowly marched. There were ner- 
vous movements of lips and fingers. There was a 
restrained eagerness in the slow pressing on to the 
goal within, where the money lay. 

The July sun beat down upon the stone sidewalk 
and the stone street. Foot-passengers hurried along 
the flagging. Wagons and cars rattled over the 
pavement. On every side, interminably, square 
after square of solid masonry arose. All seemed 
commonplace, all seemed enduring. Only there 
was this shabby little fringe like a human powder- 
train at the base of the bank. 

" Panic ! " the newspapers called it in staring 
head-lines. Banks and commercial houses were go- 
ing over like dominoes. Stocks were falling. No 
man could borrow. All at once the firm ground of 
credit had quaked and opened in fissures. 

The big square banking-room, with its tile floor 
and rosewood counters, looked enduring too. But 
the file of besieging depositors wound around two 
sides of it, ending at the brass wickets of the savings 
department in the corner. 

Mr. Miller, the president, stood at the door of 
his small, glass-walled ofliice in the opposite corner. 

12 



IN THE PANIC 

Behind his smiling face, picturesquely framed in a 
pointed red beard, there was a certain blind resent- 
ment against these shabby people. They were the 
big, indubitable sign of that universal loosening and 
unrest which he felt like rising waters licking at the 
foundation of his bank. They advertised a dis- 
trust of the bank as in letters a mile high, at a time 
when to allay fear was to live, and to excite it was 
to perish. Well, they would get no money. The 
bank had at once taken advantage of that provision 
of the law which permitted it to require sixty days' 
notice before the withdrawal of savings deposits. 
He felt like shouting to them, " Go away ! Keep 
cool, and all the trouble will be over ! " 

Then he saw Miss Grosvenor coming up to the 
little gate in the rosewood railing before his office. 
She smiled as their eyes met, and he waited for her to 
come to him. 

There was no time when this handsome sister-in- 
law was not a satisfaction. But just now especially 
the man looked down at her with a faint smiling, 
which was a kind of confession. He liked even 
her costume, which was a pale sort of blue with a 
good deal of lace about it. The dress gave every 
advantage of her pretty figure. He liked her 
steady gray eyes and the dimple in her chin, and 
the little parasol, fringed with lace, which he called 
" swagger." 

In his office, which was only ten feet square, Miss 
Grosvenor took the chair at the end of the desk, and 

13 



IN THE PANIC 

Miller sat facing her. His face was composed, but 
there was still a faint smiling in his reddish-brown 
eyes. Quite unexpectedly to her and even to him- 
self, he said quietly : 

" I take a lot of stock in you, Anne," and an 
instant later he gave a little laugh at his own incon- 
sequence. 

But the woman understood. It was an expres- 
sion of the good fellowship, the good understanding, 
the affection, that lay between them. Even so 
slight an expression from the undemonstrative man 
touched her sharply. It made her feel, too, that the 
crisis was actually at hand. 

The financial details were dark to her, but her 
imagination supplied light enough. She knew that 
they were hanging by a thread and that something 
was required of her. Her hands came together in 
her lap. Her heart was beating rapidly. Her hps 
parted from the effort of respiration. Her eyes 
clung to Miller's face. 

" Yes, Walter," she said, and the man knew that 
she was ready. 

Miller put his hand to his beard a moment. 

"I sold your bank stock this morning," he said 
quietly. " You and Clara had a hundred shares 
apiece, you know. Of course Clara's will be gone 
up if the bank fails. But I sold yours at par, and 
I 've got the ten thousand dollars here for you now. 
I want you to take it away. Naturally, if the bank 
fails, I can't draw out any money to-morrow ; or, 

H 



IN THE PANIC 

for that matter, I could n't get anybody to buy the 
stock of a bank that had failed." 

He smiled, and Miss Grosvenor understood that 
this sale of the bank stock was some sort of fiction ; 
that in effect he had bought it himself, and drawn 
the money from the bank through some contrivance 
or other. 

He stooped, opened a drawer in his desk, and 
took out a square package done up in yellow paper, 
■ — just the sort of package one might come from a 
store with, — and laid it on the corner of the desk 
near her. 

Miss Grosvenor looked down at the package. 
For a moment she seemed unable to get her eyes 
away from it. Miller felt in her the leap and quiver 
of the nerves which one feels in a well-broken, 
spirited horse that has been startled. In fact, her 
enthusiasm for the service which Miller was to re- 
quire of her abruptly died out. This seemed to her 
so vulgar, so like taking somebody's spoons. 

" What would you have me say if I were ques- 
tioned about it ? " she asked in a low voice, her eyes 
still on the package. 

" Oh, it won't come to that," said Miller, coolly. 
" At most, if the bank fails, this is only ten thou- 
sand dollars out of twelve millions. This thing 
could n't have come at a worse time for me. I 'm 
a rich man, but I 've been running against the cur- 
rent too long. Just now I 'm fearfully tied up. If 
the bank fails, I don't know 's there 'd be a solitary 

15 



IN THE PANIC 

dollar 1 could lay my hands on. I have some rights 
here. The panic is n't my fault. I don't ask any- 
thing for myself. But there are Clara and the children 
at the sea-shore. You know what they need. I 'd be 
ashamed of myself if I had n't the courage to look 
out for them. And it just comes to that — to the 
courage to maintain one's self. It 's a question of 
self-appreciation. My wife and children were not 
brought up to be beggars. I want to get this thing of 
the wife and children's maintenance out of the way. 
Then I can fight out the matter of the bank with a 
free hand. I intend to pull it through yet." 

The sound of resolution, of steadiness, in his 
voice elevated her. She took up the package defi- 
nitely and arose. She had a sense of coming into a 
man's sphere of action, taking her part in a man's fight 
— and she hated timorous women. Was not Walter 
making his bigger fight ? It was part of her point 
of view that in such a crisis his women should stand 
by him and ask no questions, like those who loaded 
the muskets in other circumstances. She walked 
out of the office, her head up, with a touch of con- 
scious erectness, carrying her yellow bundle con- 
spicuously with a kind of pride. 

At thje gate in the railing, looking out at the line 
of besieging depositors, she saw a face in the line — 
that of a girl whom she identified as one of Clara's 
Sunday-school enthusiasms. The girl was looking 
at her. But there was no sign of recognition on 
Miss Grosvenor's part, and as though the girl had 

16 



IN THE PANIC 

turned to her with a personal judgment, she gathered 
herself proudly and swept out, carrying her yellow 
package. 

The girl had looked away quickly, confused at 
having met Miss Grosvenor's eye. Now she moved 
on patiently, a step at a time, with the slow line, 
holding her bank-book in her hand. She was 
not at all shabby, though Miss Grosvenor could at 
once have told that her neat little blue jacket, from 
the front of which the shirt-waist bosom puffily pro- 
truded, and her becoming hat got their effect of 
smartness with a small outlay of money. She was 
perhaps eighteen. There was still a touch of 
girlish color in her thin cheeks. Her dark hair was 
smoothly parted over her white brow. Her dark 
eyes kept turning to the wicket ahead. She had 
long known whom she would meet there. His eyes 
and hers had mutely exchanged glances. The 
young man's face was distinctly German — young, 
pale, with a jaunty Httle mustache and a roll of 
dark hair above his high forehead. When the 
girl came up to the wicket she spoke to him in 
German. 

" Well, Kurt, we thought it best to come," she 
said. 

" Yes — with the others ! " he said. There was 
a touch of reproach in his tone, and he bent over 
the pass-book without looking at her. 

Minna saw that he took it as she had feared he 
would ; and certainly it was not just nice to put 
a 17 



IN THE PANIC 

Kurt's bank and Kurt's judgment thus under sus- 
picion. She leaned close to the wicket and spoke 
softly in her intimate German. 

" Thou knowest how nervous papa is, especially 
since he can get out no more. It is much to us, 
this fifteen hundred dollars — all we have. He was 
anxious. It was best to come, dear." 

" Oh, yes, surely. It is right." The young 
man looked up at her with a certain contrition and 
with a quick outflow of affection. She was so 
patient, so sweet, so good ! " Yes, it is right," he 
repeated. " You give notice now, you understand, 
aftd in sixty days — " 

" Yes, I understand. Then, in sixty days we 
can draw the money. If the bank does n't fail, 
we will not wish to draw it; and if it should fail, 
then we will be safe." 

Kurt opened his lips to speak, to explain. But 
he felt a helplessness against this ignorance. Why 
say to her, " If the bank fails, your notice will 
amount to nothing; you will lose your money just 
the same " ? 

Minna added, with a touch of gayety, " But cer- 
tainly the bank will not fail." 

" Oh, the bank fail ! Certainly not." Kurt smiled 
indulgently, as though the bare suggestion called for 
charity. The superior smile became quickly more 
personal as he looked at her. " I will come down 
to-night if I can," he said. 

" Yes, do." 

i8 



IN THE PANIC 

Others were pressing for a place at the wicket, 
and she nodded brightly, and turned away. 

The young man's eyes sent a last glance after her 
— the dear girl ! He went on with his work. 
Three o'clock came. The front door was shut. 
The file of depositors began to shorten, recruits 
being cut ofF. The pressure of work lessened. 
The clerks had the big bank to themselves. Two 
of them, in the cage next to Kurt, were working 
together over a ledger. 

" Will the old shebang pull through ? " Kurt 
heard one say in a low voice. 

" Dunno," the other answered sullenly, "^e 
a tight squeeze, I guess. You bet I drew my 
money out yesterday — had to make a payment on 
my house.'* The man drew the corner of his mouth 
sarcastically, without looking up. 

Kurt stared at them in blank astonishment. The 
bank to fail ! Mr. Miller's bank ! What could the 
fellows be dreaming of? 

" Wish I had my money out of here," the other 
muttered. " I 've a good mind to draw it right 
now, rules or no rules." The man gave a rebel- 
lious glance about, his nether lip protruding angrily. 

Something came into Kurt's throat; but as yet he 
was simply overwhelmed with astonishment. He 
laid down his pen, and walked out of the cage in a 
kind of daze. A small door behind the big vault 
gave into a passage that led to a lavatory. Open- 
ing this door, Kuit surprised Schwartz reading a 

19 



IN THE PANIC 

newspaper. Schwartz was one of the bank's watch- 
men. He regularly borrowed the paper that Kurt 
got from the old folk in Hamburg. But it was the 
" Daily News " that he was reading now, standing 
in a corner of the passage, his watchman's cane 
hung over his arm. He had folded the paper to 
a narrow strip which he held up to the electric light, 
reading clumsily through his glasses. As the door 
opened, he started guiltily. But it was only Kurt. 

" What 's up ? " the young man asked. 

The watchman peered down the passage suspi- 
ciously. Then he bent to Kurt, laying a heavy 
hand on the youth's shoulder, and holding up his 
newspaper. 

" See, Kurt," he whispered in a guttural confi- 
dence. " Barnes has failed, and so has the Packers' 
Bank at Cincinnati. That means good-bye to Willy 
Miller and this bank." 

The youth looked up at him with a kind of appeal. 
" God ! You don't mean the bank is going to 
fail ? " 

"Sure. They know it already up in front. They 
are sending for the clearing-house committee. 
Thomas told me, though Old Nick only knows 
how Thomas knows. He knows everything." 

Thomas was the watchman who stood near the 
officers' desks, and " up in front " was the space 
about Miller's office where the management sat. 

Kurt went back to the teller's cage. His 
hands worked on mechanically. He was think- 

20 



IN THE PANIC 

ing of Minna. He had got them to deposit 
the money in the bank. He had got them 
to let it remain there. And Minna — the girl's 
face kept coming up to him, so patient, so good, 
working away with her little music-teaching and her 
little German-teaching — a mere girl, too. Now 
and then a start of hot tears came to his eyes as he 
set his teeth together and boiled with a rage to rush 
" up in front," and tear the money out of their hands 
by main force. 

Presently he heard the man next him saying 
again, " I Ve a good mind to take my money right 
now." 

There were some packages of bills in the teller's 
drawer in Kurt's cage. 

After that the passage of time itself became fan- 
tastical, so that little incidents stretched out intermi- 
nably, and an hour went by in a wink, until he was 
walking on Michigan Avenue, looking up at a big 
house, Minna by his side. 

He knew it was Miller's house, and that they 
were going in. 

As they turned from the flagging and began to 
ascend the broad stone steps, there was a quailing in 
the pit of his stomach. His nerves ached. But 
Minna went up confidently, and pushed the bell- 
button as though she lived there. 

A footman appeared, holding the door only a little 
ajar, his aged, chalky, large-boned face peering out 
cautiously. 

21 



IN THE PANIC 

Kurt was nearest the door. " From the bank," 
he said without premeditation. Minna stepped up 
with a little friendly nod, and smiled as though she 
were going in as a matter of course. Her face was 
familiar enough, and at once the footman was throw- 
ing the door wide open. 

" Where is Mr. Miller ? " Minna asked. 

" In the library," said the footman. 

"This way," said Minna to Kurt, and the two 
began to move down the hall, quite at home. 

The footman stared after them a moment in mere 
bewilderment. He made a move to overtake them. 
But who could tell ? All sorts of people were com- 
ing at will. 

The second apartment on the right-hand side of 
the hall was the music-room. Minna led the v/ay in 
there without hesitation, knowing that the library 
was just beyond. The room was unlighted. The 
heavy doors to the drawing-room in front were 
closed, but a light shone strongly between the cur- 
tains that hung in the library door. It was abso- 
lutely still. They advanced halfway across the 
room, and stopped by a common impulse, for a 
singular scene lay disclosed beyond the curving 
curtains. 

A dozen men sat about the long library table. 
Their head-gear was carelessly disposed on the table 
itself and on convenient chairs. Some of them were 
smoking. Midway of the table a man with a lean, 
colorless, square face, under bushy eyebrows and a 

22 



IN THE PANIC 

shock of iron-gray hair, was figuring silently on a 
big sheet of paper. Miller sat at the upper end of 
the table. His brows were contracted in a slight, 
anxious scowl. A half-smoked, unlighted cigar was 
between the fingers of the hand that rested on the 
table. With a kind of covert restlessness he watched 
the man who was figuring. The other faces about 
the table were waiting. One, next to Miller, was 
stout, bald, and sanguine. A serene, well-composed 
one framed in silver-white beard was farther down. 
A big man whose double chin overflowed his shiny 
white collar rested his plump white hands on the 
table, and turned a pencil end for end with a silent, 
nervous motion. 

Kurt mechanically identified them one by one. 
Each name stood for a great bank. In a moment 
he caught the significance of the conjunction of 
these names. It was the clearing-house committee, 
— a Sanhedrim of finance. It could say that this 
house should survive, that the other should perish. 
It gave decisions from which there was no appeal. 

Abruptly, without looking up, the chairman began 
to speak. 

'' You Ve tied up one million eight hundred thou- 
sand dollars in one way and another in advances to 
that Electrical Development Company of yours, 
Miller, practically loans of the bank's funds to your- 
self. What do you expect us to do for you ? " 
he demanded. His hard gray eyes looked at Miller 
challengingly. 

23 



IN THE PANIC 

Kurt felt Minna's hand pulling on his arm. It 
came to her then, with awe, that Miller, too, stood 
before his judges. With noiseless steps she and 
Kurt moved back toward the door. 

" Not out in the hall," she whispered. "The 
servants won't let us stay. Over here in the corner. 
We won't listen." 

They stole to the dim farthest corner and sat 
down, shadowed by the big drama that had sud- 
denly opened before them. They knew that Miller 
stood up; that he was talking. At times a loud, 
angry clash of voices came out to them. Then the 
argument went on swiftly in lower tones. 

Presently, without warning. Miller stepped to the 
doorway. He rolled out first one and then the other 
wing of the double door behind the curtains, closing 
in the library and the committee, leaving himself in 
the music-room. He walked rapidly to the hall, 
disappearing. The waiting couple heard his step, 
then, a moment later, a sound in the drawing-room 
as though he had gone in there. 

"Come," Minna whispered. They arose and 
glided to the hall. But as they turned toward the 
drawing-room door. Miss Grosvenor came running 
down the stairs, and darted in there ahead of them. 
They hesitated a moment, and drew back to the 
music-room. 

When Miss Grosvenor ran in, Miller sat on the 
farther side of the room. He had slid far down in 
his chair, his legs sprawling. He looked tired and 

24 



IN THE PANIC 

worn. His linen was soiled with the dust and 
sweat of the day. His reddish hair was rumpled. 
There were dark lines under his eyes. She saw in 
his face, in his attitude, a man tormented, pulled out 
to the breaking point. A slight smile moved his 
bearded lips, and she felt, too, that his courage suf- 
ficed, that he had himself in hand. 

She sat down quickly near him, leaning toward 
him. 

" How has it gone, Walter ? " she breathed. 

"It hasn't gone yet, Anne," he replied quietly. 
" It turns mostly on some loans that I 've made to 
the Electrical Development Company. They say I 
had no right to make them. So Buford is figuring 
on taking that affair off my hands. He '11 cut d^ep 
if he does it. You see, I 'm a lame duck just now, 
and the question is whether it 's best to pluck me 
altogether or just to take off a wing or so. A man 
can do nothing. It 's all in their hands, and they will 
decide it according to their jealousies and self-inter- 
ests, and what not." 

" But if they decide against you ? " 

"Then it's all up." He spoke quite serenely. 

" It is n't fair ! " Miss Grosvenor exclaimed 
fiercely under her breath. She looked angrily in 
the direction of the library. She felt a big rage 
against this committee that was calmly deliberating 
Miller's fate. " There is no justice in it," she went 
on hotly. " I hope you '11 use every advantage you 
can get. A man ought to." 

25 



IN THE PANIC 

Miller gave a little laugh. 

"Yes, that 's what the committee thinks," he said. 

" Oh, well — " Miss Grosvenor began ; then she 
checked herself. " I suppose it 's the rule all around," 
she added helplessly. 

"Yes, it's the rule," said Miller. "I don't 
know 's it's so bad a rule, take it all around. 
Otherwise, I suppose I 'd be running a little grocery 
store, as my father began doing. Only if a man 
happens to be the under dog — " the banker sighed. 
" Well, we must wait." 

For some minutes neither spoke. The stillness 
grew oppressive. To the woman they seemed in 
some way cut off from the world, waiting. In spite 
of her striving, fear stole over her — a big fear. 
She felt its crushing weight at the centre of her 
heart. She had an inexpressible wish to escape, to 
be softly snatched away, to slip back at once to some 
dreamed condition of sweetness and security. 

Then both she and Miller were aware of a soft 
stir in the hall, of some mumbled words. The face 
of the old footman appeared in the doorway, dubious, 
bewildered, apologetical. Directly behind him ap- 
peared a young woman and a young man. 

Miss Grosvenor was mechanically identifying the 
girl as the one she had seen in the line of depositors 
— Clara's Sunday-school enthusiasm. Miller rec- 
ognized the young man as one of his clerks. 

The footman melted ineffectually away, and the 
two young people stepped into full view. Minna 

26 



IN THE PANIC 

crossed the threshold first. Kurt stepped to her 
side, and the two waited, picture-like. The girl's 
soft eyes passed over Miss Grosvenor and rested on 
Miller. Kurt was quite white. A package wrapped 
in newspaper protruded from the pocket of his sack- 
coat, and one hand rested upon it. His straw hat 
was in the other hand. His wave of hair was dis- 
ordered. He had eaten nothing since the hasty bite 
at noon. He had worked hard and suffered. There 
was a quailing in his stomach, and he felt a kind of 
cold limpness in his nerves and sinews. But he was 
standing up by Minna without faltering. She had 
shown him what to do. There was no motion in 
his mind of drawing back. The girl spoke. 

"There has been a mistake, Mr. Miller. Kurt 
has made a mistake, and we wished to see you about 
it — without waiting." Her voice was clear and 
sweet, like her face. The note of youth and inno- 
cence was in it. 

Miller waited, completely surprised. As for Miss 
Grosvenor, her eyes were on Minna. 

" He was a teller to-day," the girl went on 
steadily. " I had some money in the bank. He 
had deposited it there for me. He heard, or thought, 
that the bank might fail, so I would lose the money. 
He was excited and confused. So he drew out the 
money for me. Then we saw that was n't right. 
The bank might — might — " In the moment of 
faltering over the right word to express their doubt 
respecting the bank, her eyes fell, and by a subtle 

27 



IN THE PANIC 

inflection Miss Grosvenor felt at once all the effort 
it had cost this girl to make her simple declaration. 
Miss Grosvenor's eyes were still fixed on the girl's 
face, and there was an odd constriction at her heart. 

"It might be too late to-morrow, sir," Minna 
went on, looking up at Miller again. " So we came 
to-night." 

" Yes," said Miller, kindly. 

" We brought back the money," Minna added. 
She looked at Kurt. 

The young man took the package from his 
pocket, as though her look had given him the cue. 
He started forward nervously and laid the package on 
a chair, as Miller did not offer to take it. He 
stood very close to Miss Grosvenor, but he seemed 
not aware of her. He was looking only at the 
banker. 

" I was put on in the savings department to 
help out to-day," he began rapidly. His voice 
shook, and the hand next Miss Grosvenor, with 
which he fumbled for his pocket, trembled visibly. 
" I could n't bear that she should lose her money. 
It 's all they have, and her father is n't well. So — 
I took it, sir. I took it and signed her name to a 
receipt." Tears started to his eyes. He was over- 
wrought. " I took it," he repeated. " I will con- 
fess it anywhere — anywhere that — " He choked 
over the word. 

Minna stepped beside him and slipped her hand 
through his arm. 

28 




^' Her touch quieted the young man'*'* 



IN THE PANIC 

" He did n't think," said her clear, steady voice. 
" As soon as he thought it over, he saw it was 
wrong." 

Her touch quieted the young man. His hand 
still fumbled tremulously about his pocket. He bit 
his lip. 

Miller's eyes were downcast. " I understand," 
he said in a low voice, without looking up. " You 'd 
best take the money back to the bank in the 
morning." 

"But if the bank should — shouldn't — " Kurt 
stopped helplessly. 

There was a pause. Then the banker lifted his 
eyes to the two faces above him. 

" Yes, the bank may not be open to-morrow," 
he said quietly ; and with a quick throb that was in 
some way one of pain as much as of pleasure. Miss 
Grosvenor felt him coming up to this situation — 
as trying in its way as the larger one — with the 
same steady courage. 

" So — we could n't give it back then — maybe — 
and we came to you," Minna exclaimed. Miller's 
suggestion had evidently confused her. She looked 
at him in a troubled way. 

" That is, you take me for the bank ? " he asked, 
with a touch of a smile. 

" Why — of course, it seemed so — " Minna 
was answering, and she was still evidently confused. 

Miller smiled a little more. He looked up at the 
girl kindly. 

29 



IN THE PANIC 

" Well, take the money home," he said. " Keep 
it. I say so. Now that it 's done, it does n't 
matter. You need n't bother about it." 

Nothing could have been more kindly than the 
banker's manner. There was even an affectionate 
quality in it. Kurt stared his surprise. 

Minna's lips parted. Her eyes shone softly. 
Her surprise was very pretty. But in an instant 
she seemeji confused again. A little line came in 
her forehead ; she looked at the banker in a troubled, 
appealing way. 

u But — but — is that right, Mr. Miller?" she 

pleaded. 

The banker still looked at her with his faint, 
kindly smile. Even her confusion was charming, 

" I say so," he said. " And I am the bank, am 
I not?" 

ugut — but — " The line in her brow grew 
deeper. Abruptly tears sprang to her eyes. Her 
graceful body bent appealingly toward the banker. 
« We are poor people, Mr. Miller," she cried out in 
distress. " We don't understand these things. But 
Kurt must n't do wrong. You see that." 

The appeal came straight out of her youth and 
innocence and love. Miller stood up. His hand 
went out, and for a second touched her shoulder 
lightly. 

" Yes, yes," he said quickly ; " I see that. 
Leave the money here. It is better. You have 
done right." He glanced at the young man, 

30 



IN THE PANIC 

and repeated, as for him, " You have done 
right." 

" Thank you," said the girl, shyly and uselessly. 
The two made as to go. But Minna turned back, 
still very close to Miller, looking into his face. 
"You won't blame Kurt ? " she said softly. 

" Not a bit," said Miller. " If the bank stays he 
will stay." 

" Thank you," she said again. 

" Thank you, sir," said the young man, and they 
went out together. 

For an instant both Miller and Miss Grosvenor 
looked down at the package of money wrapped in a 
newspaper. Miss Grosvenor was first to speak. 

" I suppose I might put it with my ten thousand," 
she said with a short and bitter laugh. 

In the instant she felt herself put aside in some 
subtle way as being ineffectual, unhelping, unim- 
portant. She had the sense of a queer, potential 
sort of kinship between that gentle, unknowing girl 
and the hardy, sophisticated banker. The girl's 
courage matched his, and her own courage in taking 
the money seemed so poor, so shabby. It was like 
being found without one's clothes. She felt that in 
some way she had failed her brother-in-law — and 
she liked him so well. 

Abruptly she bent forward and clapped her hands 
to her face. 

" It makes me ashamed, Walter," she said, her 
head bowed. 

31 



IN THE PANIC 

Miller looked down at her sympathetically. The 
picture of youthful love and innocence which had 
been before them made its appeal to him, too. 

" Yes, our lost paradise," he said kindly. " It 's 
pretty. It 's beautiful. But if we 're to go back to it, 
you know, we must go back to the grocery store, too, 
or to something even simpler than that. A house on 
Michigan Avenue and a place at the sea-shore 
mean things not paradisal. You can't make a 
fortune or keep one in Eden. That girl can do it, 
of course, and she can make her young man do it. 
But we 've paid a good deal for our sophistication. 
And don't we like the sophistication pretty well, too ? 
Would you rather be Miss Grosvenor of Michigan 
Avenue or Anne What 's-her-name of Halsted 
Street ? " 

Miss Grosvenor dropped her hands in her lap and 
looked down at them rather pathetically. " I think 
I 'd rather be Anne What 's-her-name — if I could," 
she said in a low voice. 

The picture that had been before them troubled 
her heart. That other girl seemed to come straight 
out of the dreamed condition of sweetness and 
security. Her courage had been so fine, so beauti- 
ful. Miss Grosvenor looked up at Miller appeal- 
ingly. 

"That ten thousand dollars, Walter," she said 
plaintively. 

" Yes," said Miller ; " it 's uncomfortably naked, 
I admit. It 's a trick. But, in the main, it 's no 

32 



IN THE PANIC 

difFerent from a lot of other things. A good many 
other ten thousands that go to the making of a Miss 
Grosvenor or a charitable Mrs. Miller have about 
the same flavor. For my part, I think they 're worth 
while. I like the money. Of course the other 
thing does appeal. It — does seem — safe." He 
let the words drop one by one, and looked steadily 
at his sister-in-law. " Still, if you wish, the ten 
thousand will go back to the bank." 

He sat down as leaving it all to her. Miss Gros- 
venor was tracing lines with her finger over the arm 
of her chair. 

" Oh, I don't know," she sighed helplessly. 

After a while she heard the snapping of Miller's 
watch-case. It was growing late. The stillness of 
the house again oppressed her. In some way it 
seemed like the emptiness of her life. She had no 
more argument. She simply sat, waiting. There 
grew up in her a conviction that the decision would 
be against them. If only in some way she could 
begin over again I 

It seemed to her that she felt before she heard 
the stirring at the library door ; with a sense other 
than hearing quailed from the strident cry, " Oh, 
Miller!" 

Miller arose. For an instant, as he stepped 
toward the door, he looked at her, his eyebrows 
drawn in a scowl which expressed simply a stubborn, 
belligerent readiness. She felt his courage, but it 
did not help her. 

3 33 



IN THE PANIC 

During the long wait that followed she had a fear 
of stirring, lest the slightest motion might in some 
way touch off the avalanche and bring the very- 
house crashing about her. 

At intervals the murmurous sound of voices 
reached her through the closed door. After a while, 
she knew that the men were coming into the hall. 
There was a sound of steps and of voices. Once 
or twice she heard a subdued laugh. The front door 
was opening and closing as the men went out rap- 
idly in groups. 

Then the door closed with a kind of definiteness. 
It was still. She knew it was all over, whatever it 
was. She took her nether lip between her teeth 
and laid her hands tightly on the arms of her 
chair. 

Miller appeared in the doorway. His face 
seemed composed. He stepped across swiftly and 
stooped slightly above her chair. Then she saw 
a quiet smiling, and she knew at once before he 
said : 

" It 's all right, Anne. The bank won't fail." 

She sprang up, stammering, " Oh, Walter ! " 
The next instant he had put his arm over her 
shoulder comfortingly as though she were a child, 
and she was crying a little. 

" It was trying, was n't it ? " he said soothingly. 
" But it 's all right now." 

Suddenly Miss Grosvenor made a pirouette, 
whirling clear around, and faced him again, beaming. 

3+ 



IN THE PANIC 

She was babbling over with happiness. She did not 
philosophize, but at once, as though a bad dream 
had gone by, she felt her life, full, warm, sparkling 
as ever. 

" It 's just splendid I " she declared in simple, 
pointless exuberance. 

Miller smiled down at her. " Yes, it 's all right," 
he said. 

Her eyes fell on the package wrapped in news- 
paper. " Oh, and now the poor things won't lose 
their money. I *m so glad of that ! " 

It seemed to her the crowning stroke of good 
fortune. She threw back her head and gave a laugh. 
" But I believe I '11 keep my ten thousand, now that 
I have it," she declared. 

Miller looked down at her humorously, perhaps a 
little satirically. " Yes, it 's a good joke now, is n't 
it? " he said. 

Miss Grosvenor sobered. She looked down a 
moment. When she lifted her eyes he saw doubt 
in them. 

" Was it just because I was afraid — a little while 
ago ? " she asked. 

" That you wanted to be so good ? " Miller re- 
plied,"^ and laughed. "Well, being afraid is a 
powerful incentive to goodness." He laughed 
again and put out his hands and caught her by the 
shoulders. 

" You see it is n't worth while to be afraid," he 
said. " Keep your head up and your hand steady. 

35 



IN THE PANIC 

Isn't it better to be Miss Grosvenor than Anne 
What 's-her-name ? " 

" Yes — now," she admitted. 

But after she had gone upstairs to her own room, 
in blue and gold, she kept thinking, " Was it just 
because I was afraid ? " 



36 



II 



A DAY IN WHEAT 



II 

A DAT IN PTH EA T 

A VICTORIA drawn by shining bays, 
the coachman in drab livery faced with 
yellow, wheeled up to the curb on the 
east side of the Board of Trade. 
Miss Thatcher did not at once offer to alight. 
She reefed her gaudy little parasol, and looked de- 
liberately up the craggy bulk of granite that towered 
overhead. She was aware, as parts of the picture, 
of the windowed broadside of the bank blocking 
their dingy bit of street just to the north, and of the 
awkward mass of the elevated-road station shutting 
off the view to the south. An inarticulate roaring 
of human voices came out of the broad, open 
windows above. 

'*• How much noise they make ! " she commented, 
gathering her skirts. 

" They 're always at the boiling-point," said Miss 
Gund, briskly, with the advantage of her experience. 
" I hope they '11 boil over for you. Maybe Arthur 
can get them to. We may as well get out." 

Miss Thatcher's eye had been quick to catch the 
gilt signs on the two windows and the door across 

39 



A DAY IN WHEAT 

the sidewalk : " Gund, Randall & Morehouse : 
Stocks, Bonds, Grain, Provisions." That, and the 
mere glimpse beyond of a big bare room full of 
lounging men, were rather disappointing — not so 
suggestive of money and excitement as she had 
supposed. 

She^ alighted in a leisurely way. Shorter and 
plumper Miss Gund followed her with a bounce 
which seemed rather due to the environment. 
Everybody hurried there, even those passing men 
who turned briefly challenging eyes upon the tall, 
alluring figure beside the carriage. Miss Thatcher 
did not mind the glances here more than elsewhere. 
It was an advantage of her size and beauty that she 
could stand calmly aloof. 

But Miss Gund was less serene. "This is the 
office," she said. " Oh ! " 

The office door opened, and a large young man 
came hurrying out to them. His big, loose frame 
moved with a kind of awkwardness, and he took off 
his straw hat, someway as though he wished to hide 
it, disclosing a long, narrow brow, and a thinness in 
the lightish hair over the top of his head. But his 
long, smooth face was distinguished in a way by the 
amiable mouth and the mutely eloquent brown eyes. 
He briefly, even hurriedly, shook the neatly gloved 
hand which Miss Thatcher extended. 

" Is it a good day for us, Arthur ? " Dora cut in 
at once ; and his one tiny hope that, after all, they 
were not going to stay, fell to pieces. 

•40 



A DAY IN WHEAT 

" Why, no ; it is n't really a very good day," he 
began. His troubled eyes even made an appeal to 
Miss Thatcher. 

" Perhaps you 're too busy," she suggested. She 
mentally drew herself up. 

" Oh, I 'm sure it 's a good day," said Dora, with 
sisterly privilege. " I read the ' Tribune's ' Board 
of Trade column to Margaret before we started, and 
it says the market is ' wildly nervous.' That 's 
good for us, is n't it ? We want it to be lively." 

" But if you 're busy — " Miss Thatcher insisted. 
His was not the attitude which she had reason to 
expect. 

But Arthur had come out of his helplessness. It 
was apt to be that way with him — as though it 
took his machinery a few minutes to get into run- 
ning order. 

" I meant the gallery will be crowded," he ex- 
plained lamely but amiably. " Of course I 'm not 
too busy. I 'm only a sort of flourish in the office 
as yet, anyway." 

They started across the flagging. 

"Oh, and will the 'bull clique' be up there, — 
the one the ' Tribune ' says is running the market ? 
How shall we know it ? Can you point it out ? " 

Dora paused at the door to put these questions 
with a touch of excitement. 

" I hope it will come out and perform for us," 
said Miss Thatcher. " What is it they do ? ' Go 
broke ' ? Will it do that ? " 

41 



A DAY IN WHEAT 

A little panicky constriction caught the young 
man's heart. 

" Perhaps ; I '11 ask them to ! " he cried in 
nervous recklessness. But Miss Thatcher was pass- 
ing him to enter the door. Her beauty was too near; 
it was too real. His eyebrows drew together. " I 
hope they won't ' go broke ' anywhere, Miss 
Thatcher," he said in a sort of hurried aside. 

It made a commotion in her nerves — perhaps 
not an unpleasant commotion. What an odd 
speech ! 

She affected not to hear, and she glanced calmly 
at the strange scene — a big bare room, with a space 
at the left divided off by a cheap partition of stained 
wood and ground glass, the remaining space mostly 
filled with chairs, in and over and about which 
men lounged. There were some big blackboards, 
whereon two boys nimbly entered chalk figures. 
It struck her as decidedly unkempt and smelling 
of tobacco. 

They crossed the width of the office, and were 
nearing the door which gave into the main hall of 
the building. In the corner was a small den parti- 
tioned off with the same stained pine and ground 
glass that made the larger division. 

" Oh, here 's papa's hole," said Dora, cheerfully. 
" Is he in ? Let 's speak to him." 

" He 's busy," Arthur warned hurriedly. 

But Dora had already stepped aside, tapped at the 
small glass door, and was opening it and peering in. 

42 



A DAY IN WHEAT 

" Shut that door ! Go away ! " said a high, 
peremptory voice from within. 

Miss Thatcher recognized the voice of Peter 
Gund, and her face became blankly composed. 
Instantly she felt a sort of dismal failure in her 
expedition. This bare, unkempt room, with its 
air of cheapness, that example of courtesy from 
Gund, Senior — in away it seemed to justify her 
father's estimate of them, or, at least, of Peter. 
She knew her father's attitude well enough. Fi- 
nally he had said to her : " Young Gund always 
seems to me like Peter's savageness trying to 
wriggle into an acceptable form." 

That had been after Arthur Gund's second even- 
ing call, which had been his last ; for Miss Thatcher 
believed in loyalty to one's father — at least, up 
to a certain point. Lately she had thought a 
good deal ; and if now she kept her eyes steadily 
averted from Arthur, it was because she had a 
rebellious instinct to keep him apart from Peter's 
vulgarity. 

Dora flushed hotly, and they went into the hall 
considerably under the cloud of Peter's manners. 

" It certainly sounds ' wildly nervous,' " Miss 
Thatcher commented. 

As they ascended the broad, curving granite stairs 
to the trading-floor, a roaring strife of voices gushed 
down to them. 

As soon as Margaret spoke, Dora saw that her 
chance had gone by ; for in the space of a second 

43 



A DAY IN WHEAT 

she had meditated a feminine defence against Miss 
Thatcher's judgment of Peter. It had been on the 
tip of her tongue to say, " Your father was in there, 
too." 

Perhaps Miss Thatcher would have received it 
incredulously. It was quite beyond her conception 
of her father that he had sat by and silently admired 
Gund's curt dismissal of his daughter as though she 
were a trespassing boot-black. 

The two men sat at opposite sides of the small 
table in the little den — Franklin Thatcher, a tall 
man with a formal and military suggestion because 
of his clothes, his square shoulders, his grizzled 
moustache and imperial. One could guess that he 
was fond of a silk hat. It was easy to imagine the 
background of his establishment on the Lake Shore 
Drive. Peter Gund was a mere post of a man, 
weighing about one hundred pounds, partly bald, 
with a smooth, thin face, and a tuft of whitish 
moustache, his complexion a faintly blotched and 
mottled red, no eyebrows, and puffy, wrinkled lids 
that commonly drooped over the watery, weary- 
looking pale-blue eyes. 

The threat of feminine intrusion delivered by 
Dora intolerably stung Thatcher's straining nerves, 
and at Gund's prompt " Go away ! " he looked up 
with new regard. 

For at that moment something like three million 
dollars lay at hazard, and the dice must be thrown 
at once. 

44 



A DAY IN WHEAT 

Every second impassively clicked off by the elec- 
tric clock on the wall narrowed the margin within 
which a fortune might be saved, and Peter Gund 
was not one to let courtesy distract the steady eye 
with which he measured the chances. 

The big wheat deal was in a desperately bad 
way. Money had tightened unexpectedly. It was 
almost impossible to borrow on any terms. When 
Thatcher began to buy wheat in February with 
Sheahan and Tomlins (the three constituting the 
mysterious " bull clique "), he had proposed merely 
one of those speculative adventures with which he 
sometimes varied his leisurely occupation of " cap- 
italist," as the city directory designated him. But 
Pat Sheahan's was a more ardent temperament, and, 
through stages which he could now scarcely account 
for, Thatcher found himself and his partners in a 
position where they must buy more or ruinously 
throw over the big line they had accumulated. He 
had felt uneasy for days ; but the fear that strikes 
cold to the pit of a man's stomach and loosens all 
his nerves had not touched him until this very 
morning. Then, coming rapidly to the office of 
Gund, Randall & Morehouse, his straining eye 
sought the senior partner. The two went without 
a word to that little den in the corner. The door 
was closed. Thatcher took ofF his hat, and drew 
his hand across his brow. 

" Pat 's fallen down," he said ; *' can't borrow a 
dollar." The bull clique's reserve force had been 

45 



A DAY IN WHEAT 

Sheahan's supposed ability to arrange a certain large 
loan. It looked like Waterloo, with no Grouchy in 
sight. 

Thatcher understood well enough, in his half- 
benumbed helplessness, that if the desperate situation 
was to find its younger Napoleon anywhere, it must 
be in this mere post of a man opposite. Even in the 
distress which confused his mind, he was conscious of 
a color of contrition. He and Gund had known each 
other a long time, and he had to own that as between 
them Gund's attitude had been the franker. As for 
himself, he had cherished reservations, especially of 
late, after he had set up that more pretentious estab- 
lishment on the Lake Shore Drive, and Margaret 
had come home quite " finished." In his heart he 
felt that Peter was a stranger to the significance of 
a silk hat. Just now the reservations seemed infi- 
nitely unimportant. That million of his own which 
lay at hazard dwarfed everything else. It was the 
pedestal on which he stood, with the other lords of 
the town, that went on under its smoke, amid its 
din, in its endless stretches of grimy streets, ready 
enough to pay him the consideration he asked so 
long as he could maintain his position ; instantly 
ready, also, if he fell, to distort its vast visage in a 
derisive grin, to set its huge foot on him, and forget 
him in a day. He even thought — the straw-clutch 
of a drowning man — to ask Peter to come into the 
breach with his fortune. But he had to own that 
Peter had been generous. If he failed he would stand 

46 



A DAY IN WHEAT 

In Gund, Randall & Morehouse's books for a sum 
which most men would be richly content to retire 
from money-getting with. 

" You 're in a devil of a box," said Gund, looking 
thoughtfully at the sheets of paper before them. He 
drew a match with a long scratch across the under 
edge of the table, and lighted the big black cigar 
between his teeth. The teeth were glitteringly 
false. This, of course, was only the prelude, and 
Thatcher fetched a tremulous sigh. 

" But it ain't so bad," Gund went on thoughtfully. 
'••You 've got a chance, I guess. Sheahan and Tom- 
lins have some money left, for they 're supporting 
the market right now. Sheahan *s got a big credit 
with the trade, and a big following. He's black 
Irish, and he '11 fight like the devil. Besides, he 's a 
clever man, and knows how to fight. He may 
stand up for a couple of days. The deal can't win; 
it 's bound to go to smash in the end." He lifted 
his weary-looking eyes, half veiled by the pufFy lids, 
to Thatcher's face, and added kindly: "The thing 
for you to do, Franklin, is to sell out — unload on 
'em — let them hold the bag before the smash 
comes." 

Thatcher's eyes dropped to the table. 

Gund considered the memoranda a moment. 
" 'Y gad, it will work first-rate, I believe," he 
declared more briskly. "Wait a minute." 

He jumped up and ran to the outer office to verify 
a fact or so. 

47 



A DAY IN WHEAT 

To Thatcher's expert understanding the proposi- 
tion was quite plain. It meant that he should sur- 
reptitiously sell his wheat in the market to his 
partners, and by betraying them to complete ruin 
save a part of his own fortune. 

All his life he had cherished a certain gentlemanly 
conception of himself. Yet he did not leap back 
from Gund's suggestion. What he felt was a sort 
of sickness, a sort of tremulous incapacity to do the 
necessary thing. It was like saving his life — or 
more. If it could be done at a stroke, one desper- 
ate lunge of the knife, a pressure of the trigger with 
shut eyes and clenched teeth — but his mind was 
sufficiently awake to realize that it must be a more 
elaborate and detailed treachery. Sheahan was no 
fool. If he was to be confidenced out of his money, 
some carefully planned betrayals would be necessary. 
Then the accounting afterwards ! He saw Sheahan 
confronting him — a big, coarse, half-illiterate brute. 
The overwhelming sickness in his mind increased. 

Gund, darting back to the stall, found his client 
standing by the door. The client avoided the pale 
eyes. In his soul in that moment, before the man 
of daring counsel, he felt rather abject and futile. 

" We '11 let this go for the present, Peter," said 
Thatcher, with downcast eyes, in a low voice, in a 
way that half entreated the other's forbearance. " I 
believe I can raise some money ; I'm going to try." 

" But, thunder ! you can't," said Gund. " Can't 
borrow a dollar." 

48 



A DAY IN WHEAT 

" Yes ; I believe I can, " Thatcher repeated. 
" I 'm going to try." 

"Wheat's weaker now; you'll be too late," the 
broker warned. " This market ain't going to wait 
for anybody." 

" I won't be long. Give me a chance. I 'm not 
up to this other business — now." He grew firmer 
as he argued. " My account with you — " 

Peter made a gesture. " If you 're going, go 
quick. The minutes count." 

Thatcher hurried out. 

Gund stood a full minute, worrying his little 
whitish moustache. Then he walked slowly into the 
main hall of the Board, and on up the curving 
granite stairs to the trading-room, all the time fin- 
gering his moustache and looking down thoughtfully. 
At his back, through the windows, lay a fine per- 
spective of La Salle Street, walled by its towering 
buildings, its flaggings and roadway full of constantly 
shifting masses. Before him was the high and broad 
trading-room, with its three packs of shouting, ges- 
ticulating brokers, — packs which seemed to be con- 
stantly drawing in the loose human atoms on the 
floor and casting them forth again. But Gund had 
no eye either for the panorama behind the wide 
windows or for the clamoring packs before him. 
He strolled out upon the floor, quite oblivious of all 
the pandemonium, still busily worrying his moustache 
and looking down. He was addressed here and 
there, stopped, questioned. He answered with a 
4 49 



A DAY IN WHEAT 

word absently, and strolled on. Only here and there 
he spoke a word on his own account, — catching the 
eye of a broker, calling him up by a mere indication 
from those pufFy eyelids, leaning to speak for an 
instant, then passing on. And as Peter's saunter- 
ings and whisperings progressed, an habitue could 
have told from the shoutings, from the manner in 
which the fingers of those flourished, gesticulating 
hands were held, that the market was turning. 

" Now what does it mean ? " Miss Thatcher 
asked. 

" Five eighths," Arthur replied, half absorbed in 
the market. He spread his fingers and made the 
sign for her. 

" That 's less, then ? " she asked doubtfully. 

" Yes ; it 's going ofF fast." 

He leaned over the edge of the railing, watch- 
ing the pit. Miss Thatcher watching him. " That- 
cher 's catching it hot and heavy," he was think- 
ing. " How grotesque, her being up here ! But, 
thank God, nobody knows her; and she is here — 
beside me ! " He looked around at her, smiling. 

The ten minutes which she had at first proposed 
had grown to twenty. It was unexpectedly snug up 
there in the gallery, beside the big sheltering pillar. 
They had the farther end quite to themselves. 
Dora had gone back to look into the street through 
the top of a broad window. The great trading-floor 
spread out below them, with its three shouting packs, 
its many rows of high little tables over which men 

50 




/// the gallery ' ' 



A DAY IN WHEAT 

seemed more sanely busy, and its open space where 
men continually crossed and recrossed, gathering, 
gossiping, pointing, dispersing. Over the heads of 
that mob there was an odd air of seclusion. The 
very noise made a better place for them to be still 
in. 

He explained some things, but the explanations 
mostly went wide of her understanding. She pre- 
ferred to understand him. She asked a question 
now and then at random, and observed him, con- 
scious of her own little secret drama in which she 
was assigning him a part, but not dreaming of the 
big drama of the pit as it appeared to him, and 
in which, to him, she was the innocent figure. He 
leaned forward, watching and listening. She knew 
it for a battle. It subtly charged her nerves with 
its electrical atmosphere. It was as though they 
had been together in a storm. Words, gestures, 
the ordinary means of approach, were not needed. 
There was fusion in the air. They drew near to 
each other by insensible processes. 

" You find it really interesting ? " she asked mur- 
murously, without caring what his answer might be. 
She simply wished him to feel her presence. 

He drew back a little, and gave her his attention. 

" Why, it 's really a big trade," he said. " I 
think a fellow 's bound to do something. Of course " 
— he dropped his eyes — "I suppose there are a 
lot finer things to do." He got over the self-depre- 
ciatory implication by looking up at her. " One 

51 



A DAY IN WHEAT 

ought to do the best he can, and this is really a big 
business, — that is, the best part of it : the ' cash 
wheat ' business, — buying, storing, shipping grain, 
and all that." 

" Of course it 's important," she said quickly, 
with a completeness of approval which he found not 
at all marred, but rather improved, when she added, 
" if one can understand it." 

She looked thoughtfully across the floor. They 
seemed to be confessing something to each other. 

" After all, Chicago does do a good deal ; and if 
you 're of Chicago — " 

" Certainly ! " he caught it up quickly. " My 
father, in a way, has made a place here, — made a 
foundation, — and why should n't I go on with it ? " 

Miss Thatcher's hands came together in her lap. 
" Yes," she said deliberately ; " I 've felt the same 
thing myself of late." 

Such was the effect of this demure speech that the 
young man had a thrilling sense, which remained for 
half a minute, that they fully understood each other. 

" I like to see a man do something," she added 
quite recklessly; and then, as though daring could 
go no further, — the words did not matter, — she 
looked him in the face. She did not mind electrify- 
ing him. In a certain soft rebellion she took his 
surface disadvantages into the fold of her protecting 
affection, so that it was then really much better for 
him than if he had been able to make his own ad- 
vances gracefully — than if he had been of the most 

52 



A DAY IN WHEAT 

plausible form. It was her way of paying him for 
his awkwardness. 

The two human figures in the lee of the big 
pillar in the gallery presented no suggestion of the 
denouement of a play. Peter Gund, happening to 
glance up, saw two idle spectators of the wheat-pit; 
then he made out the yellow hair and the hat and 
Arthur. He was too busy to be definitely amused, 
but he thought, " Nice time for Thatcher's daughter 
to be studying the wheat market ! " and he even had 
a fleeting sense of typical youth and beauty looking 
on at the battle and pretending to study it, but really 
too full of its own comedy to understand anything 
else. 

He moved along, and gave another order to sell 
wheat. For if Franklin Thatcher did n't know 
enough to sell out on his partners, Peter Gund knew 
enough to sell out on his client. He had made up his 
mind that Thatcher would fail to raise the money 
to support the market — that he was about to lose. 
The failure of the bull clique meant necessarily a 
big drop in the price of wheat. From this conclu- 
sion and this fact Gund moved promptly and char- 
acteristically to the action of selling wheat on his 
own account, so that he would profit by whatever 
decline occurred. He explained briefly to Randall, 
whom he found down in the office, nervously slip- 
ping two silver dollars between his fingers, his white- 
felt hat on the back of his fat head. Gund sidled 
up to him. 

53 



A DAY IN WHEAT 

" Guess Thatcher 's gone to pot, sure," he said in 
an aside. " He 's trying to borrow some money, 
but he can't do it. I 've just been upstairs," — he 
glanced up at his partner, — " and I Ve sold a 
slough of wheat for our own account. If those 
fellows pull through, we '11 have to cover it at a loss. 
But I 'm guessing they won't pull through. If they 
don't, we '11 make enough on this stuff I 've just sold 
to square what Thatcher '11 owe us, and more, too. 
You might go upstairs and watch it ; but don't try 
to cover without seeing me." 

Not long afterwards, Gund stood before an electric 
printing-machine in his office, and read this : 

" The market is turning strong again. The big 
selling seems to be over. Good buying now; price 
up three cents from the bottom : supposed to be the 
clique." 

Randall hurried in, — his third trip from upstairs. 

" I 'm dead sure Thatcher is buying through 
Judson," he began excitedly. 

" S-s-s-st ! " said Peter, for Thatcher was coming 
in. 

Gund went to meet him. 

"It's all right, Peter," he began at once; "all 
right ! " He stooped and laid a hand confidentially 
on the small man's arm. " I went to Judson 
because — " 

" Are you buying ? " Gund cut in. 

Thatcher vaguely felt himself accused. " I went 
to Judson because I did n't see you when I came 

54 



A DAY IN WHEAT 

back from the bank," he explained, "and there 
was n't any time to lose. Besides, Judson 's been 
pretty hard hit with Tomlin's and Sheahan 's busi- 
ness. Been called for margins, in fact, and had n't 
responded ; so I thought it only fair to — " 

" You raised the money ? " Peter looked up, 
really astonished. 

"Yes; I got the money, — hundred and twenty 
thousand." 

" Pshaw ! " said Peter, an exclamation of incredu- 
lous admiration. " I did n't think it could be done." 

" Yes ; it could be done," said Thatcher. 

It seemed to Gund's intent eye and ear that there 
was a kind of confusion and recklessness somewhere 
behind Thatcher's words. 

" I congratulate you," said Peter, calmly. 

Thatcher felt an aloofness, an accusation, and it 
added to the trouble in his mind. "See here, 
Peter," he began. He slipped his hand through the 
broker's arm, and turned him toward the big hall, 
leading him, as though walking helped him on with 
it. "I — it was the girl's money." 

" The girl's ? " 

"My girl's — Margaret's. It's the right thing 
to do. It will pull us all out. I did n't — really 
didn't hesitate — " 

Peter's weary and watery eye took an upward and 
sidelong glance, calmly, at the tall figure. He felt 
the rattling and shaking of overburdened machin- 
ery. He recalled briefly the fortune left by Mar- 

55 



A DAY IN WHEAT 

garet's mother, of which the father was the trustee. 
But he had his own work on hand. 

" How much ? " he asked with brutal directness. 

" One hundred and twenty thousand dollars. It 
was all very available, — good bonds and stocks." 
Thatcher's white hand went up to the military 
tuft of hair on his chin. " It will pull us all 
through," he said. "You see, the tide has turned 
now. It just needed that to get us around the 
corner. I knew it could n't last, Peter," he added, 
with pathetic emphasis. " Of course if you felt 
like turning in and buying now, it would be a 
chance for you to make something. The tide has 
turned." He drew himself up a little. 

" All right," said Gund, vaguely, and he went 
back into the office. But he halted, just out of 
Thatcher's sight, and twisted his moustache. He 
gave a glance at the clock. The time was very 
short. The bold play that he had made in selling 
wheat was in jeopardy. If Thatcher and Sheahan 
should regain control of the market, he would have 
to buy in that wheat at a loss. The time was very 
short. And Thatcher's hundred and twenty thou- 
sand dollars, — the girl's money (which meant it 
was the last the bull clique could raise), — part of 
which had already been swallowed up in helping 
Judson out of his " hole " ! What an ass Thatcher 
was ! Gund started forward, walked deliberately 
through the hall, up the stairs, and out on the 
trading-floor. The big clock showed that he had 

56 



A DAY IN WHEAT 

only thirty minutes left. Again he sauntered among 
the brokers, speaking his confidential word. 

A little later the electric machine said : 

"Tremendous line of wheat coming on the 
market. Price weakening. Crowd thinks the clique 
is unloading. All sorts of rumors, — one that a 
clique broker is in trouble. Wildest sort of market." 

" There 's your father now," said Margaret. 

" Yes," said Arthur, without looking around. 
He was leaning forward, watching the pit, and his 
nerves felt the crisis. 

" Gad ! See 'er slide ! " Randall murmured, in 
a kind of rapt admiration. Downstairs he stood 
before the blackboard watching the quotations, 
and he recognized Peter's hand. But would he 
win ? 

The market, like a thing fatally hurt, had been 
weakly fluttering up, only to meet harder blows and 
to sink more definitely. Upstairs it was a death- 
struggle. The wheat-pit was so packed that the 
human atoms in it became welded. The mass 
swayed and writhed in one complex motion along 
each of the four sides. Its voice was an inarticulate 
shriek. 

The big bell tolled out the stroke of one. The 
hollow note booming over the great hall called the 
pit to its final effort. The shriek grew more 
violent. The flutterings grew less. The price be- 
gan to sink steadily, ominously, point by point, like 
the going out of a life. 

57 



A DAY IN WHEAT 

Arthur exhaled a long sigh. He looked around 
at Miss Thatcher. His manner was not excited, 
not constrained. 

" It can't last," he said, with a kind of com- 
passionate solemnity, as though in fact they were 
watching the going out of a life. 

" No ? " she breathed. 

In the last two minutes an overpowering sugges- 
tion had been gathering in her mind : Arthur's first 
reluctance, Peter Gund's worried appearance down 
there, — they might be involved in this catastrophe 
which she felt to be hurrying on below. 

It was overwhelmingly shocking. Still, there 
was a kind of desperate perverseness, — a reckless 
desire to make it up to him a little. 

" Will it do any harm if we stay — now ? " she 
asked meekly. 

He smiled readily enough. " Not at all. Stay," 
he said. 

Abruptly the noise below took a new direction. 
There was a pouring of the human atoms toward a 
bulletin-board in the farther corner, where a man 
had tacked a placard. The wheat-pit died down as 
though it had been turned off. A word was shouted 
along, passed on. In an instant the din in the 
pit recommenced furiously. Arthur bent over, 
listening. A man below flung out an arm toward 
some one, and shouted, " Judson ! " 

Arthur stood up. Instinctively Miss Thatcher 
arose. They faced each other. Dora, a little 

58 



A DAY IN WHEAT 

farther along, glanced up at them ; but neither of 
them minded that. 

" A failure ? '* she asked softly. 

" Yes," he said gravely, looking into her face ; 
" it amounts to that. It 's Judson." She did not 
know who Judson was, but she knew the look on 
his face. "It's the end," he said. 

Her chin was lifted a little as she looked at 
him, showing the soft line of her throat. 

" Shall we go ? " she asked. 

Her compassion enfolded him. They were very 
close together. There was another word to say. 
Both of them half understood that. In a way the 
storm engulfed them ; but they were strangely at 
home in it. 

" Yes ; I want you to come with me, — you and 
Dora," he began. 

The bell tolled its last warning. Some people 
farther on in the gallery were getting up. The 
frenzy below continued. Margaret did not under- 
stand — except that he wished her to be with him. 
She had the sense of a trial and of loyalty. The 
three went down the stairs together. 

The final strokes of the bell, announcing the 
closing of the market, echoed through the lower 
floor of the building ; and Peter Gund, turning 
from the blackboard in his office, saw Thatcher's 
coachman outside, leaning from the box as some 
one on the sidewalk spoke up to him. Peter turned 
confidentially to Randall. 

59 



A DAY IN WHEAT 

" They 're mighty well busted, Jim, all three of 
'em," he said cheerfully. " There '11 be assign- 
ments this afternoon. Thatcher owes us something 
in six figures; but we'll cover this wheat I've 
been selling, and come out well ahead. I 'm going 
to lunch now. Suppose I '11 be called to the confab 
by and by." 

As he stepped out on the flagging, he saw the 
victoria driving away empty. " Thatcher won't 
need his drab livery ; he '11 want dark blue," he 
thought. For just then the stir of the ended 
battle was in his nerves, the lust of his victory was 
in his blood. The gibe was his satisfyingly brutal 
kick at the corpse. It was not so much that he 
had saved the house from a large loss. The house 
could stand a loss, if it came to that. But he had 
won ; he had brought the concern through a strait 
where few pilots would have availed. 

It was three o'clock when Arthur hurried back 
to the office. Peter was on his way to the con- 
fab upstairs. He stopped, midway to the door, 
a cigar in his mouth. Arthur crossed to him 
hurriedly. 

" How did — things come out ? " he asked 
hastily. 

Peter examined the open, anxious face with in- 
dulgent cynicism. 

" Well, three things have n't come out at all," 
he said. "Their names are Franklin Thatcher, 
Pat Sheahan, and E. G. Tomlins." 

6o' 



A DAY IN WHEAT 

Arthur took ofF his straw hat with a nervous 
motion, and turned it over thoughtfully by the brim. 
" Is it really so bad as that — for Thatcher ? " he 
asked. 

" Busted to the devil and gone. I 'm going up 
to the funeral now." Peter watched for the effect 
of his words. 

Arthur shifted his weight to the other foot. For 
a moment his hand fumbled aimlessly for his coat 
pocket. Then he came up squarely to his father's 
eye. 

" See here, father," he said steadily. " I 've been 
out of the office most of the day. I 've been with 
Margaret Thatcher. I took her and Dora to lunch, 
and — " He was going on very steadily, but just 
what else was there to say ? Just what had happened ? 
A great deal, of course, as he understood it ; but 
what was there in an instant's surreptitious contact 
of the hands, a murmured word, that he could 
resolve definitely into words for his father ? " If 
we can do anything to help Thatcher out, father, 
I'd hke it," he added. 

After all, it was as clear an explanation as Peter 
desired. For him the fact lay not so much in what 
concerned the girl as in Arthur's self-assertion. 
Hitherto he had been only the tractable pupil, and 
the habit of that relationship was so strong that it 
came to Peter's lips to say sarcastically : " Certainly; 
pitch right in ; do whatever you feel like for him." 
As it was, he grinned a bit ; but his face quickly 

6i 



A DAY IN WHEAT 

sobered to his son's steady gaze. He understood in 
that moment that there was a " we " ; the boy asked 
to be taken into account. Peter was not displeased. 
"Well," he said non-committally, and walked 
away. 

Upstairs in Sheahan's office he found what he 
had expected, — a half-dozen men with the catas- 
trophe on their hands. Some of the stress, the 
highly wrought nervous energy, evoked by the big 
speculation, was carried over into this conference to 
decide upon the disposition of the debris. A stranger 
might have said that Sheahan took it hardest. The 
burly, black-bearded Irishman was plainly suffering. 
He said little, was very tractable ; and every 
minute, when somebody else talked, he screwed up 
his face, nearly shutting his eyes, like a man who is 
trying to hear something amid confusion and phys- 
ical distress. But Gund comprehended the letting 
off of the tremendous head of steam which Sheahan 
had been carrying. He knew that Sheahan was 
realizing the situation fully and would recover 
quickest. Chubby little Tomlins seemed quite gay. 
He made jokes — and smelled of liquor. Peter's 
weary eye measured him and Peter amiably re- 
flected : " He '11 be drunk to-night, and to-morrow 
— whew!" Thatcher was vacuously composed. 
" It will come to him day after to-morrow," Gund 
thought. 

He left the room with Thatcher at five o'clock. 
The client slipped his hand through the Httle 

62 



A DAY IN WHEAT 

broker's arm. Gund was a comfort to him to a 
degree which he did not try to understand. 

" Well, Peter, I owe you something handsome," 
he said in a gossiping way. 

" Yes," said Gund, thinking of something else. 

" I shall pay it all in time," Thatcher persisted, 
with a poor bolstering of his pride. 

Gund gave his head an impatient jerk. "We'll 
take that up some other time ; it does n't matter," 
he said. " Now, that jag of cash wheat at Du- 
luth — " he gave some practical advice. 

" That 's true," said Thatcher as to the advice. 
" But that don't matter much now, either. It 's all 
gone." He made a large, loose gesture. 

He added : " I suppose there '11 be talk enough 
when I — errmm — make my assignment." He 
laid the hot iron to his flesh with a certain morbid 
interest. 

" You need n't assign," said Gund, promptly. 

Thatcher looked at him dumbly. 

" Nearly all you owe, you owe to me. I 'm 
going to fix up the rest. Rather have it all in my 
own hands. Rather not have you assign — under- 
stand ? I intend to keep your name out of it." In 
his charity, Peter felt uncomfortable, nervous, on 
the defensive. It helped him a little to add : " I 'm 
looking at it from the standpoint of the chief 
creditor. It makes my claim better — understand ? " 

" Well, really, Peter — " After all, for a mo- 
ment only commonplaces came to Thatcher's mind. 

63 



A DAY IN WHEAT 

Yet it was a great reprieve. It meant that he could 
take his failure and bankruptcy off in a corner by 
himself. He was not to be publicly pilloried. It 
was so great a relief that finally he said weakly, al- 
most tremulously : " It 's very good of you, Peter.'* 

Gund had to defend himself against that. He 
said brusquely : " Oh, the devil ! it ain't anything. 
No use your assigning. You have n't got anything 
left to assign that 's worth mentioning." 

That wholesomely braced Thatcher up a little. 
" No ; that 's so," he admitted. " Still, I 'm glad 
not to get into the newspapers. I 'm sorry about 
the girl's money," he added, as though that in- 
cidental regret were left. 

« That was unlucky," Peter admitted candidly. 
" But it happens. I reckon she won't suffer any. 
I suppose she '11 marry well, in time." He might 
have said that without thinking of Arthur, but it 
happened that he did think of him. 

" Well, I 've sometimes thought that she fancied 
your son," said Thatcher. The words came natu- 
rally out of his attitude toward Gund. He spoke 
them quite shamelessly. He did not know exactly 
that he was leaning upon Peter ; but he had a 
weakly wounded and nervous comfort in keeping a 
fast hold upon this stanch, enduring little man. 
" And I don't know but Arthur — " He broke off, 
smiling like an old man over an indifferent joke. 

" Well, I rather guess he does," said Gund, 
promptly. " Of course, if it happens that way, so 

64 



A DAY IN WHEAT 

much the better. We Ve known each other a long 
time." He really felt sorry for Thatcher, not so 
much because he had lost his money as because he 
had turned so wofully flabby. 

" That *s so," said Thatcher, still with a comfort 
in the subject. " Of course I once expected to 
give her a different sort of send-off — and in 
time — " 

"Pooh! Guess I can scratch up enough to set 
the youngsters going respectably, if it comes to 
that," said Gund. 

A real emotion stirred in Thatcher. "You're a 
good fellow, Peter," he said, with futile gratitude. 

Gund smiled a little grimly. " Well, I *m a 
pretty good trader," he said. " I know my way 
around in a wheat deal." 

In the office Randall and Arthur were waiting. 
Gund beckoned to the partner in a way that ex- 
cluded the son. 

" Have they laid down ? " the partner asked at 
once. 

" Gone all to pot, — flat broke," said Gund. 

The bare office, with its rows of chairs whence 
patrons watched the blackboards, was quite empty. 
The floor, like a deserted battlefield, was littered 
over with the debris of the day's trading. A silent 
workman in a blue blouse was sweeping it with a 
big broom, and putting the chairs to rights. 

Gund dropped in one of the chairs and lighted 
a fresh cigar. He was tired, but content. 
5 65 



A DAY IN WHEAT 

" Thatcher 's gone to pieces," he repeated, with 
a discursive and philosophic interest, now that 
the strain was over. 

" Must grind him — the assignment and all that," 
Randall suggested. 

" He won't assign." Gund philosaphlzed a mo- 
ment in silence. " It 's sort of queer," he said, 
with a purely philosophic interest. " I suppose I 
did as much as any one man to break him, and now 
I 'm going to help him out. This morning, over 
there," — he pointed to the den in the corner, — "I 
advised him to unload on Sheahan and Tomlins. 
He could 'a' done it, and saved a lot. But his 
nerve failed him ; he was n't equal to it. The min- 
ute I saw his nerve was gone, I knew the game was 
up — and I unloaded on him. Then what do you 
suppose he did ? " Gund looked up at his partner 
with a deep relish for the fulfilment of his theories. 
" It 's exactly what I always said : When a man's 
nerve is gone, look out for him. Why, Thatcher 
went out and robbed his daughter. The girl had 
one hundred and twenty thousand dollars left by her 
mother, — stocks and bonds, I suppose, — and he 
took it. It 's always the fellow whose nerve is gone 
that does those things. A bold man don't do 'em. 
Thunder, no ! He goes out in the open and robs 
strangers. That was the money that braced the 
market about noon. Of course we were short a 
big hne then. You see, I 'd advised Thatcher to 
unload on the others, and it seems to me a bright, 

66 



A DAY IN WHEAT 

nervy sort of man would have suspected that I 'd be 
unloading on him. But what do you suppose 
Thatcher does ? " Again Gund cherished his point 
for a moment. " Why, soon 's he sees me, he 
toddles right up and tells me what he 's done, — 
taken the girl's money and so forth. Had n't nerve 
enough to keep it to himself and play it through 
alone — understand ? Must come and tell me, and 
play right into my hands. Well, I just went up- 
stairs and sold him that hundred and twenty thou- 
sand dollars' worth, and some more, too." 

The broker smoked a moment, and even smiled 
a little, in pure fondness for the accuracy of his 
judgment. 

" ' Scrupulous,' I suppose they 'd call it," he said, 
after a moment, retrospectively. " Well, when a 
man gets ' scrupulous ' in a wheat deal, he 'd best 
go throw his money in the river. It ain't that sort 
of a game." 

He was aware that his son had moved around 
to the door, and now stood looking out, waiting. 
Peter's eyes were fixed discursively on the younger 
figure as he went on : 

" This wheat speculation is the fastest race they 've 
got up yet, and a handicapped man can't win in it. 
The faster the race is, the less you can stand a 
handicap ; and scruples are a handicap. A man 
with scruples wants to stick to the cash wheat trade, 
or something else slow and easy. But if he comes 
in here, blast him ! let him play the game to win. I 

67 



A DAY IN WHEAT 

guess the boy '11 stick to the cash trade, and I don't 
know but the second generation ought to. If we 
make money enough for 'em they can afford to wear 
gloves, — stick to principles and pink teas." He 
got up abruptly. " So I 'm going to step in and 
help Thatcher out," he added, leaving Randall to 
guess the connection, or miss it, as he might. 

He crossed the office, and laid a hand on his son's 
arm. 

" Ready to go home ? " he asked briskly. 

For answer Arthur opened the door ; but on the 
flagging he paused. 

"How does it come out ? " he asked. 

" Well, Thatcher 's lost all his money," said 
Peter ; " but he won't have to assign or to come 
into the newspapers. We save him his name." 
There was a slight movement of the puffy eyehds on 
the plural pronoun. 

" You, father ! " Arthur cried triumphantly. " It 
was fine. It was like you." 

The young man's praise struck a harsh note in 
Peter's breast. For an instant he looked hardily at 
his son, and it flashed upon him to tell this tri- 
umphing young gentleman just what was " like " his 
father — to explain precisely what had happened that 
day. And this impulse was a belief in his own 
day as against the coming day, which called itself 
finer. 

" Kid gloves don't do it all, young man," he said. 
" What good are they, unless somebody has had the 

68 



A DAY IN WHEAT 

bare, strong hand to grab things and to hold on to 
them ? " 

But, after all, that was impracticable ; let the 
second generation be as fine as it liked. " You can 
remember," he added, " that your father knew his 
way around in a wheat deal, if he did n't make much 
of a fist in society." He wished to forestall the pro- 
test which he saw coming, and he went on hastily : 
" It 's up to you, now — up to the kid glove. See 
if you can do as much for the girl as we did for the 
father. I fancy she '11 need it. You 're going up 
to their house to that Frenchman's lecture business 
to-night ? " 

" Why, yes — if Thatcher is n't going to assign. 
But, then, of course she won't know about it ; 
there 's no need of his telling her." Arthur spoke 
with a certain nervous hopefulness. 

"Isn't there need?" said Peter, derisively. 
" You depend on Thatcher for doing the useless 
thing. He 's gone to pot. You go up there and see." 

Arthur found the suggestion startling enough ; 
but he labored to put it aside. Of course Thatcher 
would n't tell her at once, he said ; perhaps not at 
all. If he should tell her, he could see that some 
cherished things that had happened that day might 
be quite expunged. He relied on Thatcher's pride, 
on his natural reluctance ; but as he got out of the 
cab in front of the high-gabled Roman brick front 
on the Lake Shore Drive, his heart beat up dis- 
quietingly. 

69 



A DAY IN WHEAT 

He did not see Thatcher. Presently he under- 
stood an excuse, — a sudden indisposition, from 
which he could draw no augury. He got one 
full look at Margaret — very splendid in evening 
toilet. That was reassuring, for she seemed her- 
self. Then he avoided her eye, until it came to 
him that she also was avoiding him, and that was 
disquieting. 

Presently the lecturer stopped, amid applause. 
The room at once broke into multitudinous action, 
from which Arthur stood apart in a kind of painful 
incapacity, a tumult in his mind. He saw Mar- 
garet twice, and looked away at once. The people 
were going. 

Again his anxious eye met hers, and he looked 
away. But she came directly over to him, where he 
stood aside. The action touched him, but it gave 
him no certainty. 

" You 're getting a wide range of knowledge to- 
day," he began. 

"Yes," she said. She looked steadily into his 
eyes. " I Ve just had my second lesson in wheat, 
too. Papa told me." 

" Oh ! " He gave his head a jerk aside, of pro- 
test, of regret. 

" I had to know sometime; it was best to know 
now," she said, still looking at him, and with a little 
melancholy smile. She had proposed, as a duty, to 
make him understand the difference as soon as might 



A DAY IN WHEAT 

be, — the great change in their positions since the 
afternoon. The change, to her understanding, was 
an elemental one, altering everything, unmaking 
everything. This was exactly as he had feared that 
it might be. 

Yet just at that moment, as she stood before him, 
knowing everything, and warning him that she 
knew, it did not seem to him that the conditions of 
their relationship had been altered in the least. In 
the shock of the disclosure her loveliness and his sym- 
pathy were all that he understood ; so that at once, 
as though they were back in that electric moment in 
the gallery, he said : 

" It 's too bad, Margaret, dear ; I wanted you not 
to know. But of course it doesn't make any differ- 
ence to us, does it ?" he pleaded. 

And at once it was as though she were back in 
the moment when she had felt so profound a compas- 
sion for him. He seemed to ask her compassion now 
as much as then, although it was her father who had 
failed, not his. 

" No," she said ; " it does n't make any difference 
to us." She stood before him an instant, looking 
down, a picture of loyalty and surrender. 

It was perfect, — only they were in plain view of 
half a hundred people, and he could do nothing but 
fetch a sigh. The sigh seemed at once to put them 
into relationship with conventional things. Margaret 
even laughed a little. They turned towards the 
guests. 

71 



A DAY IN WHEAT 

" Then I don't see why it was n't the best day 
that ever happened — all around — for me!" he 
said triumphantly. 

" If you '11 always think so ! " she said. 

They gave an irresponsible little laugh together, 
and walked down the room side by side, looking 
anything but downcast. Arthur was thinking, or 
his brains were humming, in irresponsible gladness : 
" After all, a wheat deal more or less — what does 
it matter ? " 



72 



Ill 



THE PLANT 
AT HIGH GRO F E 



Ill 

THE PLANr 
AT HIGH GROVE 



THE three men kept apart in the Pullman 
car on the way home from Chicago. 
Dyer had gone ahead to the smoking 
compartment, which he had to himself. 
Maiden sat at the end 6f the car, his light overcoat 
crumpled about his stout person. In his agitation 
he had forgotten to take off his stiff black hat. 
There was a wing of iron-gray whiskers on each 
ruddy cheek, but the lips and chin were clean- 
shaven. He had a way of compressing his lips 
now and then, the lower one slightly protruding. 
His blue eyes, aging, already somewhat dim, were 
set to the window in an uncomprehending stare. 

Johnson, the Superintendent of the plough works, 
sat halfway down the car, his round, solid head 
showing above the high back of the seat. His 
clothes hung loose and ill-fitting on his great bony 
frame. The big jaw and chin, projected on an 
heroic scale, looked all the more salient from the 

75 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

leanness of his face. His hands lay in his lap. 
One thumb had been broken, a forefinger blunted 
and twisted. A girl sat across the car, — a slim, 
graceful little creature in a red jacket, — with brown 
eyes, hardly more than a schoolgirl, admirably pretty. 
Now and then she looked over at Johnson calmly. 
If she met his round gray eye, her own soft eyes 
did not instantly fall, she did not color and stir in 
her seat and move her head as she had done when 
her glance encountered Dyer's. Nobody knew 
better than the Superintendent that to this pretty 
romance-haunted girl he belonged in an order of 
things world-wide from that in which she placed 
Dyer. 

Twilight gathered as they approached High Grove. 
While the train was still some miles away, on the 
other side of the river, they could see the living 
fire ball of the forge chimney, a giant's torch, a 
ruddy, earthy star. As they rushed nearer, the long, 
low mass of the plow factory took shape on the 
opposite side of the river, a stretch of rough brick 
wall pierced with numberless windows. On the 
very brink of the bank stood the squat smithy, of 
limestone, with an iron roof from the centre of 
which protruded a short iron chimney of large diam- 
eter. The forge beneath sent up its flames, which 
burned from the top of the chimney in a protean 
crown of ever-varying fiery hues. The numberless 
blank windows of the factory mirrored this fire 
crown, and its inverted image, waving, leaping, 

76 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

forever changing and renewing itself, burned in the 
water below. This was the frontispiece of the 
town. Beyond lay the business district, mostly 
comprised in the brick-paved town square, in the 
centre of which stood the soldiers' monument, — 
a pedestal bearing the inevitable sculptured volun- 
teer with his musket at ground-arms. 

The neat little railroad station of pressed brick 
had a festal effect, with its rows of incandescent 
lamps and its bustle of people, as the train drew 
up. The station lights shone upon the tender 
green of young oak leaves, a fringe of that vast 
mantle of foliage which embowered the town. A 
score of townsfolk stood on the station platform. 
Young Genslow, the dubious new editor of the semi- 
weekly " Messenger," was talking with two girls. 
One was the plump and snub-nosed Miss Presley. 
The other was Johnson's sister Lena, a girl of 
eighteen. She had his yellowish hair, but of a 
richer tone; his gray eyes made soft and lustrous, 
translated to the feminine ; a beautiful clear pink- 
and-white complexion ; a graceful young figure. 
Young Genslow was laughing as he spoke to her, 
his white teeth showing under his little boyish curly 
red moustache. 

A cart stood in the shadows back of the station, 
a man, not in livery, dutifully holding the horses' 
heads. Miss Maiden was coming forward out of 
the shadows to meet her father. 

The cheeky young editor, who was said to have 

11 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

been a Chicago newspaper reporter for a few months 
before he alighted in High Grove, reached the 
manufacturer first. 

" Are the Maiden works going into the trust, Mr. 
Maiden ? " he asked ofF-hand, smiling, confident. 

All the townsfolk within hearing paused to listen, 
open-mouthed over the audacity, shocked and deeply- 
curious over the scandal of this beggarly cub of a 
country editor halting Mr. Maiden in public and 
asking him about his business. 

Miss Maiden stood apart from her father and the 
interviewer, yet well within the focus of all those 
curious eyes. 

She wore a simple summer costume. Jennie 
Presley's hat far outmatched hers in size and orna- 
ments. But there was that in Miss Maiden's pose 
which put down the other figures in the picture. 
Her large dark eyes gave one serene glance at the 
cheeky young editor, from the advantage of a height 
rather greater than his own, then turned calmly away 
to the foliage. 

Johnson, some distance up the platform, watched 
her steadily. Again he felt her something carefully 
finished, a creature highly evolved, predicating long 
preparations, a product to the making of which there 
had gone an infinitude of toil, to which, unwittingly, 
many hands and minds had labored in the impene- 
trable past. He knew that she was aware of himself 
and of Lena. He knew, too, that she was not going 
to give a sign of it. 

78 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

Genslow was setting forth High Grove's interest in 
the future of the works ; the " Messenger's " willing- 
ness to give it the first official information. Maiden, 
his brows puckered forbiddingly, was glowering down 
upon the unwelcome questioner. 

" The Maiden works have not been sold to a 
trust or to anybody else ! " he broke forth angrily. 
" And they 're not going to be sold ! " he added, 
exasperated beyond patience. He brushed by the 
editor, turning to his daughter. 

Miss Maiden turned with him, still with that 
calm air of expunging the scene. Johnson watched 
them climb into the cart and drive away. 

Beyond the square the ground rose under its un- 
broken mantle of foliage. Here and there an 
electric street lamp twinkled gayly through the 
leaves. Lighted windows in the comfortable dwell- 
ings, set spaciously apart, glowed cosily in the dark. 
There was a broad air of prosperous content, and 
Maiden was conscious of this amid the stress of his 
thoughts, as his daughter drove on, in silence, toward 
home. 

" You decided not to sell, then ? " said Miss 
Maiden, finally. 

Although he had stubbornly kept silent, his agita- 
tion pressed for utterance. At her question he burst 
out wrathfully : " The trust fellows proposed to buy 
this plant from us and then shut it down, dismantle 
it, throw it into the river — and High Grove with 
it ! They had the cost sheets all spread out. They 

79 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

had gone over them with a microscope. They can 
make plows cheaper at Illinois City. I could have 
told them that before. As though I had n't found 
it out during these last two years of cut-throat com- 
petition. My father founded these plow works 
when there was n't any town here, — only his little 
blacksmith shop and half a dozen houses." 

In his agitation Maiden went at once to that 
aspect of the matter which appealed most strongly 
to him, leaving her to guess the connection. 

" The works and the town grew up together. I 
have spent most of my life here. It 's a good 
town, Julia ; a good town. And good works ! My 
workmen have always been decently treated, — 
treated like fellow-beings. They have felt secure 
in their places here. I have worked all my life to 
get them to buy their homes, to attach themselves 
to the works and the town. I believe I have done 
something here ! I have given where I could, — 
not merely money, but thought, intelligence, if I 
have any intelligence. Your mother and your- 
self have given. There 's the library and gymna- 
sium, the scholarship prizes in the public school. 
There's your Art and Crafts society — and other 
things. I mean we 've tried to make a community 
here, — a real community, all bound up together. I 
think I 've had some influence in this town, aside 
from among the workmen. It's improved, — a 
little city. And it all depends on the works. I 
don't want to brag ; but I 've done something ! " 

80 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

He turned his agitated face to her for approval. 
*•' Yes, father, I know you have," she assented 
quickly. Perhaps she understood even better than 
Maiden that ideal of himself v^^hich he cherished, — 
something half feudal, half scientific ; the leading 
man of his community ; the shepherd of his people ; 
the wise and liberal employer ; the rich man with a 
heart and conscience ; the foremost light ; the tem- 
poral human Providence, scattering benefits. 

" I don't believe in trusts," he went on ; " never 
did. The competition these last two years has been 
fierce. Those fellows at Illinois City want all the 
trade on any terms. Arthur's father came into the 
works later, by advancing the money for the exten- 
sions. Arthur himself has been a great deal away 
from High Grove, — at college, abroad, anywhere 
but at home. I want to be fair to him. He 
does n't feel it as I do. High Grove is nothing to 
him. I let him persuade me to go to Chicago and 
talk it over with these men who are getting up the 
trust. Blair offered us ;^400,ooo for the works, 
in cash or in stock of the trust, just as we liked. 
Then it came out that they proposed to abandon the 
works, to transfer the business to Illinois City, 
where coal is cheaper and where there's an advan- 
tage in shipping. I have to say that Blair was de- 
lightfully candid about it. He said the trust wanted 
the Maiden works on account of the name, for 
the Maiden plows are well known. Besides, they 
wanted to assure the Wall Street men, the under- 
6 8i 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

writers, that all danger of competition had been 
eliminated. That 's the main idea. They want to 
stop competition. So the ;^400,ooo was ready. 
Blair seemed to have it among the small change in 
his vest pocket. But as for running the plant after 
they 'd bought it, that was n't to be thought of. 
Blair came back to the cost sheets. They could 
make plows eight per cent cheaper at Illinois City, 
and to his mind that was enough reason for simply 
cancelling High Grove, blotting it out of existence, 
expunging it. Four hundred workmen and their 
families ; a whole town ; a good community — tush ! 
Blair simply put that in the waste-paper basket ! " 

The figure and the manner of Blair, the chief pro- 
moter, kept recurring to the manufacturer's troubled 
thoughts, — a large, bland person of unfailing good 
humor, calmly juggling with millions, speaking of 
;^400,ooo as though it were small change, listening 
to Maiden's objections, then urbanely coming back 
to the cost sheets as though they settled everything. 
To the manufacturer this large, bland, good-humored 
figure had a strangely disturbing effect, as though it 
calmly alleged an irresistible power, a force of nature 
against which he might struggle in vain. 

" But if they can make plows cheaper at Illinois 
City, father, won't the plows get made there finally, 
after all ? " Miss Maiden asked suddenly. 

Maiden looked at her, surprised, wounded, touched 
on the sorest spot. "You've been talking with 
Arthur Dyer ! " he declared accusingly. 

82 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

"No ! '* she answered quickly, and colored slightly 
in the dark. 

He continued to look at her accusingly, — his own 
daughter taking sides against him; siding with Dyer 
and Blair and those who alleged the inevitable power 
of the cost sheets. 

" It merely occurred to me," she added. 

They were turning into the gravel roadway which 
led along the side of the ample grounds. The house, 
a large square brick structure of some dignity, with 
a deep veranda, was set in large grounds which oc- 
cupied the crest of the hill. The town spread 
beneath them. 

"What does WilHam think ? ** Miss Maiden ven- 
tured as the horses slowed to a walk. 

" Ah, William ! " Maiden instantly lightened up, 
as he caught at this one point of cheer. "Johnson 
understands it. He's a workman himself! You 
should have seen his eye brighten and his jaw 
settle when I told him we were not going to sell ! 
Yes, Johnson understands it. He knows what it 
means to the workmen and to the town. Whatever 
Arthur Dyer — and you — may think, I know 
there 's something in High Grove worth saving. I 
know eight per cent in the cost does n't cover the 
whole case. It 's the community, the well-being of 
four hundred men and their wives and children, — 
yes, of a thousand men. What ! After I 've 
worked all my life to make this what it is, to hand 
it over to the trust for destruction ? Not much ! 

83 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

I 'd be a pretty leader to lead my people into that 
pit, would n't I ? No, no, Julia, High Grove is 
worth saving. Of course I don't blame Arthur so 
much," he added more quietly, as the horses stopped ; 
" he does n*t feel it as I do. I wish I had the money 
to buy out his share of the works. Then I 'd fight 
it out alone — with Johnson." Preparing to ahght, 
he seemed to remember something. " Why did n't 
you go over and speak to William ? " he asked. 

"Did he wait? I didn't notice," said Miss 
Maiden. 



II 

Leaving the station, Johnson turned homeward. 
His house stood at the beginning of the reach of 
level land near the river, beyond the works. Per- 
sons living on the hill called this the flat. Shade 
was not so abundant here. Farther on, some rows 
of plain, frail little boxes of houses with no shade at 
all stood close together, the doorsteps flush with the 
board sidewalks. Johnson's house was of frame, 
a story and a half with a small L, plain but comfort- 
able, in a neat yard inclosed by a picket fence. 

His mother still did the housework, with inciden- 
tal help from Lena. She was a woman of ample 
frame, with a broad plain face and thin iron-gray 
hair. This evening she wore the usual loose calico 
wrapper which made her bulk look so shapeless. Go- 
ing and coming between kitchen and dining-room 

84 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

as she served Johnson his late supper, she saw, in 
spite of his abstraction, that he was in high spirits. 

" So Mr. Maiden won't sell the works ? " she said 
presently. 

" No. He '11 not let the plant be shut down. 
We '11 fight ! " he affirmed with a grim relish. 

" Well, fightin' a trust takes a long pocket-book," 
she observed. 

" Yes," he assented absently, his mind already 
busy planning for the new condition ; " and close 
economy all around. Hard work for me, mother ! 
A good many corners must be cut off. Perhaps it 
will involve lower wages for a while." 

She paused, coffee-pot in hand, and pondered the 
point in her slow way. " Well, I s'pose so," she 
said. "I s'pose whether they sell to the trust or 
don't sell, the men 's pretty sure to get the worst of 
it, anyhow." She delivered this bit of philosophy in 
her mild, good-humored voice, stopping to laugh in 
a kind of exaggerated purring which shook her am- 
ple sides and made little noise. It was said without 
rancor, — a simple, good-natured expression of the 
point of view at which she had arrived through the 
long struggle against poverty during her husband's 
lifetime, and in which she had been confirmed through 
the companionship of other people struggling against 
poverty. 

Johnson glanced up at her with a touch of sur- 
prise. Long ago he had perfectly comprehended 
his mother, — slow-witted, of the most commonplace 

85 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

and circumscribed mind, incapable of mental expan- 
sion, clinging with invincible stubbornness to cer- 
tain rudely traditional things, yet, along with this 
invincible stubbornness, of so lax a fibre that even 
Lena's rashness did not deeply trouble her; affec- 
tionate, instantly ready to give her life for those she 
loved, but utterly incompetent to manage her own 
daughter, her flabby will absolutely helpless under 
the bright, alert will of the headstrong girl. Long 
ago Johnson knew all this. Long ago he had 
thoroughly comprehended her rudimentary idea of 
society, which consisted in the good-natured belief 
that the poor always got the worst of it. Now 
his eye took in her bulky figure in the loose calico 
wrapper, her broad, red, hard hand upon the coffee- 
pot, her plain, flat face, wrinkled, its age almost 
pathetically accentuated by the glaringly white false 
teeth. It came to him abruptly that this figure of 
toil was also a result of long evolution, predicating 
conditions through an impenetrable past. With an 
unpremeditated action he reached out and took her 
free hand. There was something like a lump at 
the base of his throat as he smiled up at her. An 
abrupt passion of loyalty to her, not only as his 
mother, but as the figure of toil, moved his heart. 
His emotion affirmed the truth of her rudimentary 
philosophy, which his head disdained. 

" They don't often get the best of it — in the 
long run, mother," he assented. There was the 
old contrition in his assent. A sharp point of 

86 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

remorse pricked his brain with the accusation that 
his mother certainly had scarcely got the best 
of it. 

They heard the front door open. Johnson 
dropped his mother's hand with a self-conscious 
suspense. Lena came in, a package in her hand. 
There was a sort of helpless waiting and question- 
ing in the way the mother and brother watched the 
girl as she crossed the room briskly and began 
untying her package at the sideboard. The quick, 
graceful movements of her body and hands showed 
her supple, nervous young energy. The sideboard 
mirror reflected the beautiful, delicate coloring of 
her skin and the rich tone of her soft, abundant 
hair. As she glanced down at the package, the 
long lashes veiling her lustrous eyes, she looked a 
dash of splendid color on a dull background, a note 
of passion, an anxiety. 

" Well, I guess Mr. Maiden means well by his 
men,'' said the mother, disengaging herself first 
from that suspense which Lena's entrance had 
evoked. 

" No man means better ; no man means better," 
the Superintendent declared heartily. 

The girl looked over her shoulder with one of 
her quick movements. " Such lovely houses as he 
gives some of 'em, — nice little shanties stuck in 
the mud," she observed. 

She saw her brother's eye harden, and she met his 
steady, almost hostile, look boldly. 

87 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

" Oh, I know about the library and the scholar- 
ship prizes and all that," she declared. " I know 
those Maidens. They like to show us ofF and 
look pious when people praise them for taking 
such interest in us. You ought to have been at 
the Arts and Crafts business yesterday when Miss 
Maiden had her two swell friends out from Chicago. 
One of 'em said : ' But, my dear Julia, how do you 
ever have the patience to teach all this ? ' Then 
she saw Jennie Presley and me standing by, and she 
said : ' Of course the young ladies must be very 
clever.' Jennie Presley's father is a merchant. 
He 's got plenty of money, and I hope we 're not 
tramps. But that woman, with her air, might 
as well have said: 'What an interesting lot of 
monkeys you 're training ! ' That 's what we are 
to Julia Maiden at bottom. She's real proud of 
us when we do the tricks without making a mis- 
take. Did you see her look over my head at the 
station to-night ? It would n't have hurt her to 
bow to me, I guess. If she 'd whistled and held 
up a bun I might have stood on my head right 
there. Jen Presley says we must n't blame the 
poor girl, because, with all her charity patients, 
she can't always remember which are the Arts 
and Crafts and which the free soup and second- 
hand clothes." 

A slow, dull ruddy glow came up under John- 
son's tanned skin. " Was it Jennie Presley — or 
Genslow that said that ? " he asked in a hard voice. 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

In an instant he regretted it. He was always 
failing with Lena. His very anxiety betrayed 
him into stupid exasperation over her incorrigible 
wilfulness. 

The girl flushed. The hurt showed in her eyes ; 
but they did not falter before his steady look. She 
stooped a little toward him. 

" Does it hurt you to have somebody pay me 
some attention, William ? " she asked. Her voice, 
sweet as a child's, had the note of a hurt child. 

Johnson's eyes fell. He was ashamed. She 
was so adorably pretty. When her sweetness 
defended her wilfulness he was utterly at a loss, 
like a man set to correct an instrument at once 
too strong and too delicate for his hands. 

The girl passed slowly from the room. They 
heard the front door close behind her. Johnson 
drank his cofFee in troubled silence. Mrs. Johnson 
sat down at the table, pushing her spectacles up on 
her wrinkled forehead. 

" I know how you feel about it, William," she 
began mildly; "but sometimes lately I wonder 
whether you done right, — keeping yourself as much 
like a workman as you could, I mean after you 
got able to live better. When I think of Lena, 
I guess it ain't been very good for her. If we 'd 
lived different, in a finer house, in the best way you 
could afFord, maybe it 'd 'a' been better for her. 
Maybe she 'd 'a' been content to keep on at school 
like you wanted her to." 

89 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

Johnson scarcely dared look at her for an instant, 
and he quailed inwardly as though she had brought 
up his most deeply hidden secret and exhibited it 
before his eyes. 

" It would have been better. I believe it would 
have been better," he said. 

" Seems like you could n't do very much good to 
other people this way, anyhow. Course I know 
how you feel about it," the mother hastened to 
add. 

" No, you don't know, mother," said the son. 
" I have some influence with the men at the works, 
but it 's just because they know I 'm fair with 
them, not because I live like a workman. I 'm 
the boss there. You can't get over that. That 's 
the fact that fixes our relationship. You can't get 
over that. I 've felt that for a long time. The old 
zeal is gone." The dull glow came under his 
tanned skin. "Maybe it's pride that kept me on 
in the way I began. Something happened" — he 
looked up at her, yearning with a sudden contrite 
affection toward this homely maternal figure of toil. 
" There was a love affair which fixed everything. 
I've never been able to change it. Pride, perhaps, 
prevented me. And you and Lena — you've had 
the worst of it. I have n't been good to you." 

The suggestion of an old love affair scarcely stirred 
her imagination. Naturally there were love affairs 
in youth as there was measles earlier. This unac- 
countable man-child of hers would have had a love 

90 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

afrair, and he would never have told her. That was 
most natural. What touched her was his con- 
trition. 

" Not me, son ! Not me," she said quickly. 
"I'm as good off here as anywhere — better off 
than anywhere else. I would n't be happy any other 
way. Lena — she 's flighty, and it might have been 
better for her. But I guess it would n't have made 
any difference in the long run. She 's flighty, but 
a good girl, William. She goes to church every 
Sunday." 

Johnson smiled a little. The speech helped to 
restore the accustomed relationship between them. 

" Don 't trouble, son," she said soothingly. 
"We're all right." 

"Well — I hope so," he said, smiling at her. 

" And if Mr. Maiden should sell the works and 
they 'd be closed up — " 

" No, no ! " he interrupted decisively. " The 
works will not be closed ! " The muscles of his 
big, lean, salient jaw stiffened. " They will not be 
closed ! I '11 keep them going ! " 

III 

There was scarcely the murmur of a leaf in High 
Grove's royal mantle of foliage. The air itself glit- 
tered in the open with little tremulous gossamer 
waves of heat. From Johnson's front yard the 
stretch of river shone like burnished metal, and the 

91 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

plow works, for all their rude glare of red brick, had 
an oddly insubstantial effect, as though they were 
painted against the water. On that Sunday after- 
noon in August, High Grove was motionless and 
voiceless. 

Nevertheless, Dyer walked rapidly. He wore a 
shirt-waist, white duck trousers broadly reefed at the 
bottom, and he carried a wide sunshade, to the lan- 
guid amusement of persons in the lower town who 
were lounging in their scant door-yards as he passed. 
These persons held him in unconcealed contempt as 
a dude. But. Dyer's long, thin, clean-shaven face 
and his rapid stride showed no infirmity of purpose. 

Johnson, on his elbow in the unmown grass, which 
he liked better than a trim lawn, saw the owner com- 
ing, and got up as Dyer turned in at the gate. The 
two men shook hands briefly and sat down on the 
rustic bench under the largest oak in the yard. Dyer 
went straight at the business. 

" You know how it is over there." He nodded 
towards the works. 

Johnson knew. The trust had been in operation 
sixty days. The competition was like this steady, 
unrelieved glare of the August sun. The Maiden 
works were losing money every day. With all their 
losses the trust was taking away their trade. They 
must put prices still lower and stand still greater 
losses. 

" I got back from Chicago yesterday," Dyer went 
on rapidly. " Blair renews the original offer. He 

92 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

will take the works for the trust at ^400,000. They 
are sensible people. They want peace. Mr. Mai- 
den knows the situation now. He knows that we 
shall simply ruin ourselves if we keep on fighting 
the trust. They can make plows cheaper than we 
can. They have a longer pocket-book. For every 
dollar that we lay down they can lay down five. 
You know of the plan to reduce wages ten per 
cent ? " 

"As a matter of course." 
" Suppose the men accept it ? " 
" They will accept it." 

"Very well," Dyer went on. "That will re- 
duce the cost of production by six or seven per cent, 
we will say. The trust will simply cut under us 
again. We will make them lose a little more money. 
In the end it 's simply their millions against our 
thousands. You know that. Mr. Maiden knows 
it now. But he has taken his stand on a matter of 
principle. It's a point of honor with him now. 
He's stuck on that point of honor, and he 's going 
to ruin himself and ruin his family." 

" What do you mean ? " Johnson demanded. 
" Exactly this, Johnson," — he flung it out with 
the air of a challenge, — " Mr. Maiden holds only 
forty-eight per cent of the stock of the company in 
his own name. I hold forty-six per cent. Six per 
cent of the stock stands in your name. Of course 
I know the arrangement between you and Mr. Mai- 
den. Your stock is only a quarter paid for, and 

93 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

Mr. Maiden looks upon it perhaps as essentially his 
property until it is paid for. Even if it were fully 
paid for, I have no doubt that under all the circum- 
stances he would take it for granted it would be 
voted, on any vital question, according to his wish. 
You know Mr. Maiden. The idea of anybody in 
High Grove entertaining a plan in opposition to his 
plan does n't readily occur to him. The point is that 
this stock was transferred to you. It stands in your 
name. You have paid something on it. You have 
every legal right to vote it as you please. I believe 
you are clearly entitled to join with me and use the 
stock for the trust. You and I together can muster 
a majority against him. I don't yield you anything 
in regard for Mr. Maiden. You know how I stand 
there. But he 's stuck on his point of honor. Al- 
though he knows that he 's ruining himself and his 
family, he won't give in. I don't know why you 
back him up in it. That 's your affair. In my judg- 
ment, a man really devoted to him could n't do better 
than save him now in spite of himself. After all, 
ruining a family is a hard fact." 

Johnson sat very still, his round gray eyes fixed 
on the bending stretch of the river. Dyer stooped 
and plucked a spear of grass. Then, gathering him- 
self firmly in hand, he plunged on abruptly : 

"See here, Johnson. You and I get on together 
better than any other two persons in the whole muss. 
We 've both got some sense — and some nerve. 
We 've always stood up square-shouldered in front 

94 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

of each other, and understood each other, without 
nonsense. I don't need to say to you that I 've got 
money outside of the works. If the plant fell in the 
river to-morrow, I 'd still be comfortably well off. 
But I won't put another cent into the works under 
present conditions, and Mr. Maiden has n't anything 
to speak of outside of the works. I could stand it 
if the thing went by the board. He could n't. What 
I mean is, that I 'm not considering any selfish in- 
terests in this." He flung it out in that challenging 
way. 

" Oh, I understand that," said Johnson, quickly 
and harshly. "I mean, I understand your motive. 
I know you 're not plugging for your interests. As 
you say," — his round eyes fixed the eyes of the 
owner; the two men looked at each other, square- 
shouldered, — " you and I have got on better than 
any other two. We understand each other. I can 
do this thing that you propose ; I mean I 'm capable 
of doing it ; yet I am under many obligations to Mr. 
Maiden. He trusts me fully. That stock which 
stands in my name he regards as his for the matter 
in hand. To use it against him would have all the 
appearance of the most detestable betrayal. If 
there 's any man in the world that I 'd hate not 
being able to look squarely in the eye, that man is 
Mr. Maiden. You can understand that." 

" Perfectly. It would cost you something, John- 
son, to turn against him and overcome him by 
force. Maybe more than it would cost me. But 

95 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

there are others. You know how much of a 
service it would be to Mrs. Maiden — and Miss 
Maiden." 

" Does she know of this ? " Johnson demanded 
abruptly. 

" Naturally it 's not a thing for her to know — 
this proposition," said Dyer ; " but she knows her 
father's situation and the situation of the works." 

Again for a moment the two men looked each 
other hard in the eye. Johnson's eyes turned 
slowly to the works and came back to Dyer's face. 
" I am those works," he said slowly, in a low 
voice, eye to eye with Dyer. " I am that plant. 
I 've kept it going the last five years — not Maiden. 
I am keeping it going now. I don't care a rap 
for the plant either. I mean for my job and the 
chance, possibly, to get in as part owner, ar\d for 
the town and all that. It 's something else." 

Dyer took a long breath, looking at the Superin- 
tendent with open admiration. " I know you 've 
kept the plant going," he said. " And I suppose I 
can understand " — he bent forward and touched 
the other's knee. " But don't you see, Johnson, 
you can do better to wind it up now ? " 

"Maybe. It might be worth while — and wind 
myself up with it," said Johnson, slowly. "Let 
me think it over." 

He looked at the plant, then up at the shining 
bend of the river; and he did not look around 
as Dyer left. 

96 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

IV 

At noon the men gathered in the wood-finishing 
shop, a long room on the ground-floor of the main 
building, bare save for the work-benches which ran 
around three sides, fitted with various tools and 
machines. The whole force came, four hundred, 
comfortably filling the room. There were a score 
of young women from the office and the label-room, 
neatly dressed in shirt-waists and summer skirts. 
The men lifted them to seats on a long high bench, 
with jokes and laughter, so that here where the 
girls were, there was a note of gayety, the contact 
of the sexes striking out its little play of comedy 
in spite of the heaviness which pervaded the room 
elsewhere. 

Maiden pushed his way through hurriedly, with 
a hasty greeting here and there, and mounted the 
chair at the farther end of the room. The Presi- 
dent's large figure stood in sharp relief against the 
bare rough wall of whitewashed brick. Four hun- 
dred faces turned toward him in anxious silence, 
waiting the word from this master of their bread. 

Maiden spoke rapidly, earnestly. He recited 
briefly the original offer of the trust to buy the 
works, which had been rejected when it developed 
that the trust proposed to shut down the plant. 
The trust had been formed without them. It 
intended to dominate the field. They were bear- 
ing the full brunt of its competition. Doubtless 
7 97 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

the men all knew that the works were being oper- 
ated at a loss. The Company was willing to take 
its full share of the fight. It would accept the 
situation to the limit of its ability. It would forego 
every cent of profit. It would even stand a round 
loss. But it could not stand the whole loss with- 
out ruining itself, which would be to accomplish 
the purpose of the trust and wipe out the High 
Grove plant. They must go on selling plows as 
cheap as the trust sold if they were to hold their 
trade and continue in the business. He believed 
there was something in the High Grove plant 
worth preserving. The men knew what High 
Grove was as well as he did. Here was a com- 
munity which worked out to the good of all its 
members. The children had the best advantages, 
were brought up in a clean, wholesome atmosphere, 
had an example of applied democracy before them. 
The works had never closed a day for forty years 
— since his father started them. Men felt secure 
in their employment. Wages were not violently 
reduced in hard times. At this moment wages 
averaged higher in High Grove than in the trust 
plants, although there had been a slight rise — 
widely advertised • — in the latter. This plant had 
always been run as though the men had a right 
to share in its prosperity, as though they were 
partners in the enterprise. The enterprise was now 
confronted with an enemy which purposed destroy- 
ing it. They must stand together in common 

98 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

danger. He proposed a horizontal reduction of 
ten per cent in wages, pledging himself that the 
v/ages should be restored as soon as the situation 
improved, — as soon as the trust learned that here 
was a community which proposed to stand up for 
the good that was in it ; which could neither be 
bought nor bullied into subjection to trust rule. 
He would like to hear from any of the men who 
had anything to say. 

The President's fervent voice, wound up to an 
oratorical pitch, stopped in a dramatic pause — and 
a dead silence ensued. Thirty, forty heavy painful 
seconds passed without a stir. Then Packett, the 
foreman of the wood-finishing room, one of the 
best men in the plant, slid from a bench beside his 
daughter, stepped to the clear space before the 
chair, and faced the audience, — a tall, spare man 
of fifty with a long, limp, iron-gray moustache. 

"We've heard what Mr. Maiden says," he be- 
gan. " I 've been in the works twenty years. My 
children were brought up here, and I believe High 
Grove has been a good place for them. I 'd hate to 
see the works shut down. We know that Mr. 
Maiden has been fair and we can take his word. It 
will be pretty hard lines for some of us ; but for 
one I 'm willing to stand my cut. I think it 's the 
best thing we can do." 

That was all — to Maiden's secret surprise and 
chagrin. There was nothing of the enthusiasm, 
nothing of the ideal communal loyalty which he had 

99 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

expected. Packett walked back to his bench. 
There was a little patter of applause from the older 
workmen, — the polite cheering of a comrade ; then 
the oppressive silence again. 

Lyman, a workman as old in the service as Packett 
himself, a skilful and steady man, with thick hair and 
a bushy beard, spoke from the centre of the room. 

" How long will the cut last, Mr. Maiden ? " 

'' As long as the trust makes it necessary," the 
President replied with a touch of passion. He kept 
a clear face to the audience, but he was bitterly dis- 
appointed, half angry at the stolid attitude of the 
men. 

Lyman came forward to the spot Packett had 
occupied, turning his hairy, intelligent face to the 
audience. 

'' I have been a long time in the works, too," he 
said slowly. " I think High Grove has been a good 
place for a workman. I will cheerfully stand the 
cut or double the cut if that 's all we need to keep 
from being turned out here ; if the plant will go on 
then as it has in the past. Ten percent off a work- 
man's wages means a good deal to him ; more than 
a wealthy man realizes. If the trust is going to 
gobble us up in the end, there *s no use in our mak- 
ing sacrifices. But if Mr. Maiden says he thinks 
this cut will fix him so he can hold his own against 
the trust until the trust gives in, we ought to take 
his judgment." 

Again there was a heavy silence, the men op- 

lOO 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

pressed by the prospective loss of income, which 
meant a reduction in their already narrow scale of 
living, — oppressed still more by uncertainty as to 
the future, by lack of assurance as to whether this 
sacrifice would suffice. 

" I can only tell you what the situation is now," 
said the President, quietly. The oppression reached 
his own heart. " One cannot see what the future 
holds. In my judgment the ten per cent cut will 
suffice. I have given you my best judgment. The 
alternative is to close the works." 

Nothing more was offered. Maiden stepped 
down from the chair. The men began leaving the 
room in heavy silence. When most of them were 
gone. Maiden himself went out, keenly disappointed, 
gloomy, chagrined because they had met him with 
no more enthusiasm, feeling that someway they had 
belied his faith in them, half angry with them for it 
in spite of himself. 

Going out, he saw Johnson by the door, talking 
to a knot of men. The Superintendent's big spare 
frame loomed above the others. His bent head and 
lean face gave an effect of power. There were force, 
conviction, authority, in the tones of his voice. The 
men were nodding their heads in assent. 

" Yes, that 's so, that 's so," one of them said. 

It lightened the President's oppressed heart. Here 
was something sure, solid, invincible, in a world which 
had somehow been getting all adrift. He felt Johnson 
like a rock under his struggling feet. 

lOI 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

When Johnson presently went around to the 
oflice, he came upon Genslow at the corner of the 
building, talking with Biggs and four or five other 
ironworkers, recent arrivals, men from Chicago who 
had been through strikes and worked in unions. 

" The old man's gufF did n't fool 'em much," he 
heard Biggs say. 

The Superintendent threw Genslow a hard look, 
and passed without other recognition. No courtesy 
was wasted between him and the editor nowadays. 

V 

In the days that followed, a new air pervaded High 
Grove. Two strangers arrived from Chicago. 
Soon every one knew that they were agents from 
the labor organization, come to preach among the 
men, seeking to form them into trades' unions. To 
this time there had been only the vaguest organiza- 
tion among the High Grove workmen. Now the 
air of the town was full of this new force, — the 
organized workmen banded to exert their power, 
a power great enough to overthrow the established 
order, to cause social upheavals. To the substan- 
tial people in High Grove this power suggested 
something huge, sinister, anarchic. But there were 
others among the townsfolk who upheld the unions, 
and still others — the younger and less responsible 
element — who sat back and hoped there would be 
a jolly good row, anyway. Genslow had the effect, 

I02 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

to the more stable townsmen, of being enthusiasti- 
cally of this latter element. The " Messenger" criti- 
cised the Company and its President and openly 
gloried in the progress of the union. There was 
talk of driving the editor out of town. 

Johnson watched. He could feel the drift of the 
men toward the union. In the loss of part of their 
wages, in the uncertainty as to the future, their 
sense of helplessness drove them together. Packett 
and some of the older men would have nothing to 
do with the movement, abstaining from principle 
and persuading others to hold away. Lyman and 
another thoughtful element welcomed the movement, 
likewise from principle. But circumstances, the sense 
of helplessness, swayed most and drew them toward 
the organization. A little while ago they were 
prosperous, contented, secure. Now, from no acts 
of theirs, this calamity of reduced wages had come 
upon them. Harder things might be in store. 
They must stand together, each lending his strength 
to the others. The way to do this was to join in 
the union. If they did n't like it, they could with- 
draw. In two weeks a hundred men had joined, 
and there was a guarded mass meeting. The men 
drew courage from a sense of the strength in their 
numbers. With courage and confidence the idea of 
their rights increased. Biggs and his ironworkers 
declared boldly that they must demand the old wages 
and strike if they did n't get them. Everybody 
knew that Dyer wanted to sell the works to the 

103 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

trust. With the advantage of this ten per cent 
reduction in expenses he could get better terms from 
the trust. Then, like as not, he would persuade 
Maiden to sell, and the men would be left holding 
the bag. Ten per cent meant bread and butter out 
of their families' mouths. Was Dyer taking any 
ten per cent reduction in his living ? Was n't he 
living like a nabob all the time? Why did n't he 
sell some of his horses if he wanted to get money to 
fight the trust — not take the money from women 
and children ? 

Maiden sat gloomy at the dinner-table. " The 
men have a perfect right to organize, a perfect 
right," he was saying to his wife, trying, not very 
successfully, to give it the air of a cheerful assent. 
" I can't blame them — if they think it will do them 
any good. But " — he looked up in a troubled 
search for" sympathy — "I think I had earned the 
right to their confidence. Why, this talk of a strike 
is nonsense — idiotic. That would be too absurd — 
for the men to strike and close the works — the 
very thing the trust would like best ! " He looked 
at his wife and at Julia for affirmation. The women 
were silent. " Johnson has great influence with 
them, — great influence. He's one of them," he 
added, with a suggestion of helplessness which 
escaped neither listener. 

The President's world, which had seemed so right 
and strong, so immutably founded upon what was 
best and most righteous, had received so many 

104 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

shocks of late — since Blair, the trust-promoter, had 
stepped in — that he was beginning to feel a bit con- 
fused and at a loss, as though the sun persisted in 
rising from the west. 

"It occurs to me, Frank, that Johnson would 
have done better if he had driven these agitators 
away and prevented the forming of the unions," 
Mrs. Maiden observed presently. 

She had that high, cracked voice, of a quality by 
no means unpleasant, which comes to some nervous 
women late in life. Her hair was puffed and frizzed 
in front. She had worn it that way ever since Julia 
could remember, with never a concession to the 
mode of the day. There was a bit of fine lace at 
the neck of her dress. She usually wore a bit of 
fine lace. She managed to convey and to maintain 
a singular suggestion of an ancient regime. Her 
view of the Superintendent's duty in respect of the 
union surprised neither husband nor daughter. 
Maiden only smiled with a fond and admiring in- 
dulgence. 

" Driving people away is n't so easy, Fanny," he 
said. "You have the only sceptre in town." 

" All the more reason why I should keep mine," 
she replied, and in the lift of her head there was a 
hint of her pride of place. " At any rate, Johnson 
might drive some of the young men away from his 
sister. I suppose his mother is helpless enough," 
she added. 

Maiden caught an odd glance between mother 

105 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

and daughter, and looked back at his wife for an 
explanation. 

" We have had to drop the young lady," said 
Mrs. Maiden, dryly, and Maiden then compre- 
hended that here was something between his wife 
and daughter which the wife had been waiting for a 
chance to notify him of. 

"Not we, mother; you; you alone!" Miss 
Maiden exclaimed. " I have nothing to do with it. 
I have begged you not to do it. But my wishes 
count for nothing, it seems. I 'm not pleading for 
the girl. Lena is n't bad ; but she is foolish. Yet 
it is n't for her; but for William's sake — " 

"We are not dropping William," Mrs. Maiden 
observed with a quiet, acid touch of sarcasm. 

" Yes, you are ! Ask father if William has n't 
carried the works on his shoulders these last five 
years ! " 

" I fancy your father has been about — although 
you seem not to have observed it," said Mrs. Maiden, 
with the quiet, acid touch. 

Maiden flushed slightly. " Well, I think I have 
been about the works some," he said with a heavier 
attempt at sarcasm. " H'm — what's it all about, 
anyway ? " 

" I walked into the orchard last night about nine 
o'clock," Julia began, looking at him eagerly; "I 
came upon somebody at the pear-tree. After all, it 
was only a silly youngsters' prank. There was 
Jennie Presley and the fellow Genslow and another 

1 06 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

lad — and Lena. The gallants were stealing pears 
for the girls. It was a silly youngsters' prank, — a 
bit of juvenile bravado. I called to Lena, but she 
ran away with the others. Mamma heard me call, 
and she asked me about it to-day. She is going to 
drop Lena and Jennie — not invite them to the 
harvest party. It is too high-handed — with me ! " 

Mrs. Maiden, her gray, frizzled head erect, looked 
over at her daughter. " If I do not hesitate to be 
high-handed with my own child, why should I hesi- 
tate with other people's children ? " she said, in her 
high, cracked, not unpleasant voice. "I trust that 
an invitation from Mrs. Maiden implies some- 
thing," she went on with dry deliberateness. " I hope 
that it implies at least passing respectability and the 
degree of good manners which you might reasonably 
expect from a sober hod-carrier. When it does not 
imply that much, Mrs. Maiden will cease sending 
invitations. I hope I am not uncharitable ; but I 
believe in this case in exercising charity on behalf of 
the orderly and well-disposed young women who 
believe that there is some slight significance in being 
invited to my house. If these affairs of ours, which 
are given because they are supposed to suggest 
certain standards to the poorer people, are to take 
the character of public picnics where anybody and 
everybody can forgather, we will stop giving the 
affairs." 

At the bottom of his heart Maiden was im- 
mensely proud of his wife's distinction. He wished 

107 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

her to be the aristocrat that she was : it saved his 
democracy from becoming commonplace. There 
was no moment when he was not conscious of a 
difference between himself and the workmen for 
whom he took so much thought. 

" I should n't like to hurt Johnson's feelings," he 
said in a troubled, propitiating way. " William is 
doing great work for us now. It might seem — 
h'm — unappreciative, unkind, you know. I wish 
it could be avoided." 

" Do you wish your wife to send your Superin- 
tendent a list of her guests for his approval ? " asked 
Mrs. Maiden. 

" Oh, not that, Fanny ! Not that, of course, 
only—" 

" Only it would come to that. We can give the 
party or not, just as you like." 

" Why, certainly we will give the party. It has 
been announced. Of course, this is an affair of the 
house." 

" And Johnson belongs to the works, not the 
house," said Mrs. Maiden. 

" I dare say Johnson will have the sense to under- 
stand it," said Maiden, unhappily. 

" I dare say," said Mrs. Maiden, in her dry way ; 
and Julia knew the affair was settled. 

" He's an intelligent man," said Mr. Maiden; " and 
a most useful employee," he added for Julia's benefit. 

Nothing further was said between mother and 
daughter. The day for sending out the invitations 

io8 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

came. This was Miss Maiden's task. The day 
passed with the task untouched. In the evening 
Miss Maiden paced restlessly across her room. 
She looked anything but a weak woman. The 
beauty of her full, clear-skinned, colorless face lay 
in the square intelligent brow, the large dark eyes, 
the mass of black hair, and the mobile mouth. In 
the chin and nose there was a touch of strength 
which was, perhaps, insisted upon too much. It 
was not that her mother's will imposed upon her 
— still less her father's. An intricate and irresistible 
mass of things compelled her with its slow, stupid, 
unanswerable weight. She went to the desk, took 
out the bundle of invitations, neatly done up from 
the stationer's, a package of envelopes, and the list of 
guests. She sat back in the chair and put her hand 
over her face with an unusual gesture. The hand 
dropped. Her large dark eyes searched the wall a 
moment, as though its blank, dead surface might 
abruptly disclose a way out. Then she took a 
corner of her lip between her teeth and began ad- 
dressing the envelopes rapidly. When she came to 
Lena Johnson's name on the list a quick blur of 
tears dimmed her eyes. A drop fell on the blotter. 
But she skipped the name and went on without a 
pause. 

VI 

Johnson sat in the front room looking over the "Mes- 
senger." He did not care to be seen on the porch 

109 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

with it in his hand. He knew that Mr. Maiden 
had rather conspicuously banished the sheet from his 
house. Yet what it had to say about Maiden affairs 
found its way to the President. The paper appeared 
twice a week, Thursday and Saturday afternoons. 
It was the Thursday issue, still damp from the press, 
which Johnson unfolded, — a blanket sheet of four 
sprawling pages, ill-printed, blotchy with big type, 
straggling, its dampness giving it the effect of a rag. 
The second, third, and fourth pages were mostly 
patent-inside and advertising. On the front page 
Johnson found three items to read. The first : 

" There are rumors of an approaching marriage in the very 
highest social circle. This is an event to which High 
Grove has been looking forward with deep interest for sev- 
eral years. Dame Rumor says it is to happen this time. 
The * Messenger' begs to tender the happy couple its best 
compliments." 

Then further down : 

**The great social event of the summer, the Maidens' 
harvest party, is to be given next Thursday evening. The 
handsome mansion and spacious grounds on the hill will be 
lavishly decorated. We are told that the party, while 
given in the most recherche manner, will be on the same 
broad democratic lines which have marked so many other 
splendid functions on the hill, making them not mere social 
affairs in the restricted sense of that term, but pubhc events 
in which practically the whole town participates, thus bind- 
ing our people together, two or three times a year, on a 
common footing." 

I lo 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

And in the middle of the page : 

*' It is reported that the trust has made another cut in the 
price of plows which are sold in competition with the Mai- 
den works. This will be bad news for the High Grove 
workmen. Meeting the trust*s competition by reducing 
wages is a simple process for the Company ; but it is quite 
serious for the men. The trust does not reduce wages, 
because, being a wicked combination, without public sym- 
pathy, it has to treat its men decently. How long the High 
Grove workmen can stand it to fight the trust remains to be 
seen. The Company, of course, can stand it forever under 
its clever plan of reducing wages. We learn that the organ- 
izing of the men is going on rapidly, and that another mass 
meeting of those who have joined the unions will soon be 
held.'* 

Johnson turned to the last page, — that on which 
the local advertisements appeared. There were only 
the advertisements of Kohn, the clothing-emporium 
man, of the Silver Dollar and Workmen's Ex- 
change saloons, and the cards of a quack doctor 
and two dubious lawyers. All the responsible con- 
cerns, without whose patronage the paper could not 
exist, had withdrawn from its pages in a body — and 
that meant the end of the " Messenger." To get rid 
of the " Messenger" was part of the fight to save the 
works. In that fight Johnson was giving quarter to 
nobody. He had won here. The " Messenger " was 
at the end of its rope. But as the Superintendent 
looked down at the blank advertising page which 
told of his victory, there was no elation, no satis- 
faction, in his mind. 

1 1 1 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

That marriage in high life meant, of course, Dyer 
and Miss Maiden. This young cub Genslow, hard- 
ly of an age to vote, with his air of blundering inno- 
cence, managed to say exactly what would hurt most. 
Genslow's blackguarding did not matter particularly, 
perhaps; and that Dyer and Miss Maiden would be 
married was to be expected. Yet Johnson tossed 
the paper aside and stood up, his eyes dulled and 
hard. A challenge sounded in his brain. He felt 
himself inscrutably called upon to muster all his 
force, to strain every muscle, to grapple anew with 
his contrary world. His arms ached for action, — 
for something tangible and ponderable, that a man 
could clutch and struggle with. 

Presently he put on his hat and sauntered out the 
back way, meaning to stroll across the flat and come 
around by the works, — for no reason except that in 
the savage struggle of his thought the works myste- 
riously drew him on. He passed out of the back 
gate. There was no sidewalk here, only a path in 
the tall grass with a screen of currant and black- 
berry bushes on the side next to the garden. Step- 
ping out, Johnson came upon Genslow, who was 
strolling by, his boyish face, with its gallant little 
moustache, turned up toward the rear of the house ; 
evidently he was looking for some one. Johnson 
knew who the some one was, and before this slim, 
trim young figure, gallant and debonair, with that 
advantage in its air which the adventurous have, 
he felt the hard belligerence of his mood concentrate 

I 12 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

and take him in hand. Genslow recovered his poise 
first. 

" Good evening, Mr. Johnson," he said. In the 
young fellow's handsome face, in his slight, tentative 
smile, in his boyish brown eyes, there was a certain 
softness, a tender of amity, a subtle offering to make 
friends. 

That tentative, proffering softness instantly re- 
ferred itself to Lena in Johnson's hard, hostile, jeal- 
ous mind. The girl stood between them, and the 
older man, conscious of being burly and unromantic, 
felt a kind of sullen joy over the rude power of his 
body. His hard mood pushed him on. 

" What are you doing here ? " he demanded. 

Genslow hesitated a moment. Again there was 
the slight, tentative smile which offered to ignore the 
affront ; again that subtle offer of friendliness. But 
there was no response in the Superintendent's wrath- 
ful eye. 

" Just walking on — the king's highway," said 
the cub. 

" And trying to make trouble,'* Johnson added 
forbiddingly. 

" Been reading the ' Messenger ' ? " The editor 
smiled more brilliantly. There was the note of 
gayety in his youthful voice. " But did you see 
the advertising page ? The respectables have shut 
me out — cut me dead ! " He laughed. " I sup- 
pose you did it, too." 

" I think it 's a good precedent, Genslow. I 'm 
8 113 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

going to follow it. I '11 trouble you not to loiter at 
my back gate. It is n't agreeable." 

Genslow paused a second. "Not agreeable — 
to you, you mean," he suggested softly. 

A flush of deeper anger overspread Johnson's 
face. He knew that he was behaving stupidly; 
but the hard fighting mood pushed him on. " No 
matter to whom. Move along ! " he said per- 
emptorily. There was no mistake as to what he 
meant. 

At that moment a girl's voice, fresh, sweet, full 
of spring, breathing romance, trilled from the house. 
Genslow looked the Superintendent square in the 
eye. That voice gave him his triumph and he took 
it to the full for the space of two seconds. As he 
looked, he knew by that instinct which had come 
down from the time when the first man alertly 
watched the eye of a crouching beast, that the 
rush, the clutch, the elemental trial by strength of 
arm was near at hand. Lena's voice sounded, 
humming, in the little garden. Genslow took a 
deep breath, looked again meaningly into Johnson's 
ominous eye, and turned on his heel and walked 
away. 

Johnson looked after him, the muscles of his jaw 
stiffened, his brain given over to the stupid fighting 
wrath. Lena was close at hand. He heard the 
soft humming of her voice across the hedge and 
the swish of the bushes as her hand moved bird- 
Uke among them, gathering berries. At once he 

114 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

seemed to see himself clutching, striking, rolling 
on the ground like a fighting dog. An abject fear 
of meeting Lena's eye overcame him. He hurried 
away overwhelmed with shame. What good would 
that do — to act like a truculent drayman? What 
good would that do? What made him a bully? 
He hurried on, astonished at himself, asham.ed, 
confused. What good would that do ? How he 
bungled things ! Above all, how he wronged 
Lena ! He felt an immense dejection, in which 
he appealed confusedly to the mellow dusk of the 
evening, the warm, whispering air in the leaves, the 
smell of earth's green fecund things. Why was 
he left aside, heavy, rude, alone, bungling ? He 
hurried on, mechanically taking the direction he had 
planned, but without noticing his surroundings. 

The dingy frame building occupied by the Silver 
Dollar saloon fronted on River Street. As John- 
son hurried abstractedly around that corner he came 
upon Biggs and two others emerging from the 
saloon. At the first glance his mind aroused, the 
confusion slipped away, he was alert, practical, 
ready. 

The Superintendent looked up and nodded grimly. 
In the mere instant of looking up he observed the 
man at Biggs's right, — a young fellow with a de- 
generate face, now somewhat flushed with drink, — 
and his eye caught an odd, fearing, startled arrest in 
this man's face as their glances met. Johnson iden- 
tified the young fellow as a stoker. He went on 

115 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

three rods, then looked around quickly. The three 
men were standing on the saloon steps looking after 
him. Even at that distance he could see that the 
stoker's mouth was open as though he had not fully 
recovered his breath. 

Johnson walked on, alive, attentive, his mind at 
work. Only a vacant stretch of the flat lay between 
him and the works. At his right the river flowed 
serenely in the dusk, softly lapping the stones that 
built up the roadway on its bank. The fiery crown 
of the forge danced in ever-changing motion. One 
end and the long perspective of the flank of the big 
building were in Johnson's view. It seemed abso- 
lutely empty, deserted, at peace. When he came 
nearer, his upturned, searching eye caught the flash 
and glimmer of a watchman's dark lantern in the 
top story. He went on, skirting the long side of 
the parallelogram. All was still, orderly. Through 
the windows of the squat, detached smithy, he 
could see the forms of the half-dozen men of the 
night shift at their sweaty work. This long flank 
of the big building was unbroken by any entrance 
save the big double iron doors opposite the smithy. 
The other flank was exposed to the view of the 
town. The iron doors were securely locked. 
Johnson stopped. The stoker persisted in his 
mind, and he turned back. The engine-room oc- 
cupied a little addition, a mere brick-box thrown 
out like a toe from the foot of the big building. 
The lifting ground had been cut away here for a 

ii6 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

level foundation, and the box of the engine-room 
huddled against the cut bank so that it was almost 
hidden from the town. 

Johnson remembered something more. The room 
in which crates were made occupied the corner of 
the main building immediately adjoining the engine- 
room. A small door, always locked, opened between 
them. This position of the crate-room was con- 
venient for shipping. A- spur of railroad track ran 
along the town side of the plant. But the proxim- 
ity of the combustibles to the engine-room was not 
satisfactory. A sequence of ideas was forming in 
Johnson's mind. He quickened his steps like a 
man who had forgotten something. The box of 
the engine-room seemed still enough as he peered 
uncertainly in at the dirty window-pane. From the 
bunch of keys in his hip pocket he selected one, 
applied it to the small door next to the wall of the 
main shop, and entered the cave-like room which 
contained the boilers and the engine. The smell 
of smoke and burning wool assailed his nostrils. 
In a moment he saw it, — a pile of oily engine 
waste flung down on the two wooden steps lead- 
ing to the small locked door which communicated 
with the crate-room. The pile was smoking in a 
leisurely sort of way. A breath of air came through 
the opened outer door, and a bright little tongue of 
flame curled up from the waste. 

One could not say what that heap of oily wool 
might contain. Johnson was upon it in a second, 

117 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

seizing it with both hands, flinging it out on the 
cement floor. His grasping hands encountered 
something rough, hard, heavy, and piping hot that 
seared the flesh ; then they got into something wet 
that bit the burns. A mere five seconds' furious 
work finished it. On the cement floor a fierce little 
bonfire was burning harmlessly with the crackle and 
fury of an inflammable oil. The odor of the oil was 
in Johnson's nostrils. His seared hands reeked and 
stung with it, — turpentine. 

A couple of big, rough, hot cinders from the fur- 
nace lay on the cement beside the bonfire. It 
was quite plain, — two hot cinders wrapped up 
and smothered in dry waste ; waste saturated with 
engine oil put over it ; then, on the top step, against 
the door, waste soaked in turpentine, the whole 
making a clumsy but fairly trustworthy slow fuse 
which might smoulder on for an hour, possibly, 
before the turpentine caught. Johnson stooped and 
smelled of the door — turpentine. He put his finger 
in the crack under the door, and it came out wet and 
smarting. He had no key to that door. It was 
always locked. 

It took him perhaps ten minutes to go around 
through the various shops to the crate-room and find 
where the turpentine had been spilled on the floor 
and over the loose shavings. The palms and 
fingers of both hands were seared where he had 
grasped the hot cinders. He found some dry waste 
and wrapped them up clumsily. Then he went 

ii8 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

over the plant carefully and cautioned the two 
watchmen. 

It was after ten when he finally turned toward 
home. Across the railroad tracks he stopped and 
looked back. The long bulk of the works loomed, 
still, dark, safe. His burned hands stung and ached. 
He was conscious of that as he looked back at the 
looming plant. 

He was that plant ! He, Johnson, was the brain, 
the will, the soul of that pile of rough brick ! He 
had kept the works going ! These last three years 
of fierce competition, while Maiden, aging, relaxing, 
more and more infatuated with his doctrines, more 
and more loosened the master's grasp, it had been 
he, Johnson, who bore the brunt and pulled the 
thing through. When destruction impended, it was 
he, Johnson, who was at hand to leap in and ward 
it off, — not Maiden ! A strange, grim exultation 
filled him, as though he could diffuse his mind 
through those various bare shops ; as though he could 
incorporate those rough brick walls with himself. 
He hated the works, — never more than just now, — 
but nobody could take them away from him ! They 
were himself? 

The house was dark when he reached home. 
He opened the screen door and entered the living- 
room in front. As he stepped toward the door of 
his own room, a shadow beside the window stirred. 
He paused, aware that Lena was sitting there alone 
in the dark, — she was such a little, young thing. 

119 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

" All alone ? " he called cheerily. 

She did not answer for a moment. Then her 
sweet, fresh voice sounded in the dark. " Mrs. 
Maiden is n't going to invite me to her harvest 
party," she said simply, yet with an odd quickness. 
There was an indefinable pull on Johnson's nerves 
as he caught the effect of her suppressed excitement. 
" I 've just been up to Jen Presley's. She is n't 
invited either. The other girls got their invitations 
two days ago, and Jen and I are not to be invited." 

" I 'm sorry, Lena," was all he could think of to 
say at the moment. He referred it to Genslow. 

" Everybody will know about it," she added. 
He comprehended the effect, to her, of a publicly 
pronounced judgment, of a brand conspicuously 
applied. It seemed abominably cruel, — femininely 
cruel. Some hot words came to his lips. Then 
he remembered Genslow and himself at the back 
gate ; and he suspected that Lena knew of that. 

As though his mind lay open to her, she said in a 
moment, " William, did you forbid Ben — Gens- 
low to come here ? " 

" Yes, I did, Lena," he said, with an odd reluc- 
tance ; and he spoke in his kindliest voice. " You 
know what I think of him. But if he would come 
to the front door like a man — " 

" So you could kick him out, William ? " the 
sweet voice asked. 

Johnson felt the wall rise between them. They 
would only quarrel. He went on to the little room 

1 20 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

especially his own, behind the living-room. It took 
him some time to light the lamp because of his ban- 
daged hands. Lena's sweet, childish voice rang in 
his ears. What were those strange noises they had 
been making at each other, — those vocal utterances 
which the brain seemed to interpret, but which 
served only to alienate them ? Why had n't he 
simply barked at her and trotted by ? Why must 
it always work out to her injury ? 

It was the Maidens who had worked that refined 
cruelty upon her, — stupid and useless. That is, 
the feminine Maidens, for it was a woman's cruelty. 
That blow, aimed at his sorest and tenderest spot, 
had been delivered by the fair hands on the hill ! 
He looked down at his own bandaged hands, and for 
a moment he wished to laugh. He felt the stir and 
uplifting of a big wrathful pov/er within him. For 
a moment it seemed that he might clutch the walls 
of the plant with the arms of a Samson and crush 
them. That long bulk of rough brick, empty, dark, 
peaceful, serenely stupid, yet holding the soul of his 
passion, — why did not this intolerable tangle of 
human lives become dynamic and blow it up ? 

He went over to the desk, fumbled out an old 
envelope containing the certificate of his stock in the 
Company. He stood with the envelope in his ban- 
daged hands, staring down at it. Had not the time 
come, as Dyer said, to wind it all up ? 

But Dyer might have his own interest — 



121 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

vn 

The stir grew in High Grove. No night but John- 
son went over to the works, surprising the watchmen 
at odd hours. He went about among the men con- 
tinually, working with the better-disposed to prevent 
the strike which everybody felt trembling in a bal- 
ance. It was the crisis. 

Maiden himself was half bewildered. These 
strange, new forces which had abruptly shouldered 
their way into his well-ordered world perplexed him. 
He relied more and more upon Johnson. The 
Superintendent had succeeded in several instances 
where the President had failed. The men must 
believe in Johnson, — one of themselves, brought up 
in the Maiden system, a living testimonial to its 
efficacy. 

The mass meeting at which the strike would be 
again debated was to be held Monday. Sunday 
evening Maiden and his wife sat on the deep veranda. 
Dyer and Miss Maiden had been there a moment 
before. They had talked over the situation very 
frankly, as in a family council, all under the sense 
of the impending crisis. 

" If they strike, I suppose it means ruin," said 
Maiden, quietly. 

The ominous word brought a silence in which 
Dyer, lounging against a pillar, studied the floor. 

" It may mean ruin for the Company," he sug- 
gested. " But ruin is n't the last word, fortunately." 

IZ2 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

He strolled along the porch and sat down at Julia's 
feet. " A good deal may come after the bankruptcy- 
court," he added, for her. 

Presently the elders, busy with their money trouble, 
were aware of the young ones loitering across the 
lawn. Here and there, at farther and farther spaces, 
they caught sight of the two figures walking near 
together through the shrubbery. Syringa, rose, 
and lilac bushes and dwarf evergreens grew near 
the gravel roadway which skirted the edge of the 
grounds and led from the street to the stables. 
Dyer and Miss Maiden had been standing still for 
some minutes, his straw hat in his left hand, in his 
right a white rose with a long stem. There was 
absolute silence save for the murmurous voices of 
the night. 

" It always had to be you — from the very begin- 
ning," she said presently, looking up at him. " That 
was inevitable." 

" Yes ; it was inevitable ! " he repeated quickly, 

with a note of triumph. " Only — dear woman ! 

I wish I might have come sooner. I wish we might 
have come sooner. You were a long time on the 
way. And I know you had a bad time ! " 

" I suppose we all, except you, dreamed something 
else a long time ago. It was a beautiful dream ; but 
it would n't work out, it would n't come true. I 
tried honestly to live up to it, and I 've tried other 
things ; tried them with all my heart ; but they 
would n't work out true. Sometimes I seemed to be 

123 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

succeeding ; but something always stood in the way 
— the inevitable, I suppose — and you. Everything 
else failed finally. And now — I 'm glad, dear ! I 'm 
glad!" He felt in her eyes, her voice, her whole 
person, the great rest, the sinking back to peace. 
"Truly glad ? " he insisted. 

"Truly glad! If — only William will under- 
stand — now.'* 

" He will understand," said Dyer, comfortingly, 
with the victor's easy magnanimity. " He is one 
who is capable of understanding." 

There was the rustle and brisk swishing of shrub- 
bery near at hand. The large figure of a man re- 
vealed itself coming through the bushes. Dyer 
dropped Miss Maiden's hands. The intruding figure 
halted abruptly ; began mumbling something apolo- 
getically ; was already backing hastily away from 
the tableau which obviously was not posed for spec- 
tators. 

" William ! William! Is that you ? " Miss Mai- 
den's voice called. 

" Come on, Johnson," Dyer's voice seconded. 
The Superintendent paused, looking back at the 
two figures standing close together. 

"Were you coming to the house — to see father? " 
Miss Maiden encouraged. 

" Yesi — I was coming," said Johnson. They 
were waiting; and he came slowly back, facing 
them, waiting also. He saw that Dyer was re- 
garding him with an open, friendly look; that 

124 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

Miss Maiden was bending toward him, eager, 
inviting. 

" Father is on the porch. Arthur will tell him 
you are here," she said. 

Dyer regarded Johnson with that friendly look, 
then spoke under his breath to Miss Maiden. " Shall 
I tell them?" he asked. 

She considered swiftly. " Yes," she said quickly, 
with a swift upward look which subtly put herself 
into his hands. 

Dyer turned lightly away, disappearing through 
the shrubbery, leaving the others alone. 

" Mr. Dyer and I are engaged, William," was the 
first thing she said — softly. 

" I 'm glad of it. It should have been long ago. 
I 'm glad of it," said Johnson, rapidly. " I 've been 
expecting it four years. It 's fit. It winds the 
thing up. I 'm going away myself. I came up to tell 
your father. I 'm going to leave the works." He 
spoke all this like a man delivering an unpleasant 
message, nervously. Then he added, in the same 
abrupt way : " My sister has run off with Genslow." 

" Ah — Lena ? " 

" Lena. I got the telegram this afternoon. They 
were married in Illinois City yesterday," he said in 
the same quick, hard voice. 

She took a step nearer, bending toward him, 
agitated, her face drawn. " I could n't do any- 
thing ! " she cried. " I could n't do anything to 
help you even there ! Even with Lena, where I 

125 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

might have helped so much, I never helped at all. 
I 've never really helped in any vi^ay ! " 

" Well — the snub — over the party — cost me 
something — " he began. 

« And I did it ! I did it ! " she exclaimed. " My 
mother determined it — and I let myself go. I 
felt helpless to go back, then, and tell her what had 
happened — long ago. I felt myself bound. I did 
that meanness — to your sister. Imagine that ! 
Then you '11 begin to understand us Maidens. 
You don't know the family, William — nor me, 
either. Selfishness paralyzes me in the end. I 'm 
glad you 're going away, where you '11 have a fair 
chance. I 've hurt you enough." 

Her humility touched his hard mood. " Don't 
blame yourself," he said simply. " I have felt hard 
and fighting sometimes, I admit. But it melts when 
I see you and hear you. Never mind. The dream 
was good if it did n't come true. I thank you for 
it, Julia." 

"No; but you — you, William. You've been 
true. Everything has been put over on your 
shoulders. You 've even kept the works going. 
I'd have known that myself if Arthur hadn't told 
me so. Somebody has to pay, and you 've paid, 
paid, paid all the time. When the one thing comes 
along where we might do something — Lena — 
what is it we do ? What do I do ? You've been 
empty-handed all along. It 's you who are empty- 
handed and cheated in the end." 

126 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

" Do you think that ? Do you believe it ? " he 
demanded swiftly. " Don't you ever think it 
again ! Don't you ever believe it I Don't I know 
right now that you 've paid most, after all j that my 
hands are most full ? See ! When I knew you, 
then your cheeks were pink. You had the air of 
spring. There was an evening in the orchard 
under the apple blossoms, and you were just like 
them. That was eight years ago. It was soon 
over, maybe, — our dream. But the bloom, the 
fragrance, the spring, were for me ! That can't 
come back : it 's only once in a lifetime. You 're 
wiser now ; richer probably in every other way. 
But the spring has passed. Nobody that ever sees 
you in a garden again will think that you 've just 
been shaken out of the apple blossoms. You 
understand, Julia ? I want you to know how much 
I 've had. You can't ever again sit on a bench 
with a man in overalls, and glory because he is poor. 
I knew when it began to fail, and you knew. I 
suppose neither of us knows just why it failed. 
Maybe I got too ambitious and too prosperous. My 
mother and your father and mother were in the 
way. No matter. It might have ended there, I 
might have gone away. It might have faded out. 
But it was big and vital enough to hold us both. 
I turned to the works. I made you the works, — 
you and me. I kept them going for you. They 've 
been kept going because they had to go. I made 
them go, and I lived in that. It ended for you 

127 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

first because it had to. This thing eats one up ; 
destroys one. I lasted longer because I was all 
hard bone. It 's eaten me. But was n't it great i* 
Do you think it hasn't been worth while ? " 

" William ! " she bent toward him, her eyes 
shining, speaking low. " I 'm glad I 'm old ! I 'm 
glad I look old; glad there's no more color in my 
face ! Maybe that is a strange thing for a woman 
to say — especially one who has just become en- 
gaged, and who is very fond — But it is fit. If 
it had faded out easily for me, I should have been 
abject before you now. I'm glad that other time 
belonged entirely to you, and that you took it all, 
every bit ! That time had to belong to you, as 
much — " 

He nodded encouragingly. "Yes, as much as 
this time has to belong to somebody else. At last 
we 're free — " 

The complaint of the shrubbery, parted by a hurry- 
ing, heavy figure interrupted, and Maiden came out 
before them, joyously impatient over the news Dyer 
had divulged. 

He went straight up to Julia and put his hand 
on her shoulder, beaming at her. 

"Stopping to talk business — now?'* he asked 
jokingly, and turned urbanely to Johnson, holding 
out his hand. 

"Something new, William ? " he asked cheerily. 

" Yes ; something new. I 'm going away. I 
came up to tell you." 

128 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

Maiden's eyebrows moved, — a slight sign of 
annoyance. " It 's hardly an opportune time. 
Something urgent ? " he asked. 

"I *m going away for good. I *m going to quit 
the works," said Johnson, simply. 

" What ! Leave ? Desert ? " Maiden stared at 
him incredulously. 

" I hope you '11 not call it that," said Johnson, 
mildly. 

" But I should call it that ! Nonsense ! What ! 
Leave the works ? Now ? " Maiden exclaimed 
vehemently. " Nonsense ! I expect to get in 
some more money now. We 're in the very thick 
of the fight. The crisis is right at hand. And 
the men — explain yourself, Johnson ! What do 
you mean ? " 

" I mean simply, Mr. Maiden, that I am offered 
a position at Illinois City, and I think it best to take 
it." 

"Illinois — with the trust? The trust? It's 
shameful, Johnson ! You 're selling me out ! " 

"Oh, father!" Julia expostulated. 

" Julia ! " the patriarch warned, in his deepest 
voice. "I call it ingratitude ! " 

" Father I Please ! " 

"Julia! I've taken this man up; pushed him 
along. What I A man that I 've made and that I 
trusted as much as my own flesh and blood I At 
the very crisis, when Arthur might put in more 
money, he sells me out." 
9 129 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

" Hardly that, Mr. Maiden," said Johnson, pa- 
tiently. " I *m merely resigning my position. I 
suppose any man has the right to do that." 

" Oh, the right ! The right ! I had the right to 
let you and your mother starve ! I would n't have 
believed it of a dog." 

" Father ! " she stepped between him and John- 
son. 

" Be still, Julia ! " he commanded wrathfully. 
"Don't interfere between me and one of my work- 
men. It is not the province of my daughter. I '11 
tell him to his face — " 

" Your daughter and your workman were once 
engaged to be married. Consider that before you 
tell him ! " 

Maiden stared at her, his eyebrows working up 
and down, utterly unable to take in the sense of her 
words, confused as though she had spoken in a 
strange tongue. 

"I loved William Johnson, and promised to marry 
him," she repeated with a little stress on each word. 

Maiden's jaw dropped. He still stared at her 
like a man paralyzed, bereft of the power of speech 
and action, his eyebrows moving in that odd way as 
though his brain were visibly laboring to take in 
this stunning idea. 

" Oh, father ! father ! Can't you understand ? " 
she cried, with a burst of heroic impatience and pity. 
" It was you who always insisted upon the glorious 
possibilities of democracy. You talked of the noble 

130 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

condition of the workman. You preached our sa- 
cred duty to the poor and lowly. You grew 
enthusiastic over applied Christianity. And while 
you were in the library preaching to your friends, 
William and I were outside dreaming of living it. 
What could have been simpler or more natural ? 
Can't you understand? I hadn't the least doubt 
then that I should marry him." 

" Him ? You ? " Maiden articulated. 

" We were sincere, and you were not. For we 
knew it was no use asking your consent — and 
mother's — then. The dream would n't come true. 
But it was so fine — he was so fine — that I honor 
him apart from all other men. It is n't for my 
father to insult such a one." 

Maiden, still groping and gasping mentally, per- 
ceived enough so that his eyes fell. "I '11 say no 
more," he muttered. But he looked up at her in an 
instant with a fresh trouble. 

" But Arthur ? " he stammered, quailing before 
the new fright which might now come out of this 
pit. 

"Why, naturally, Arthur knows all about it. He 
has known from the beginning. He knew at the 
time," she said patiently. 

" All along ? " he repeated incredulously. 

" All along. Arthur could always understand," 
she said. 

Maiden looked at her with a fixed, pathetic blank- 
ness, while the perception took its full form in his 

131 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

mind. His (laughter engaged to William Johnson ; 
Arthur Dyer — almost one of the family — knowing 
it for years; these people about him, touching his 
life at every moment ; all this going on in his snug, 
good little world that he had seemed to know so 
thoroughly and to be guiding so surely ! 

"Well, there seems to have been — h*m — to 
have been a lot going on here that I never dreamed 
of," he said with simple, bewildered helplessness. 

"Oh, dear father, such a lot! Human nature 
— the big forces that have their way in spite of 
everybody! Dear father, you see it has all come 
out right, if not as you planned. Dear father ! '* 
she held his hand between her palms. 

"Yes — certainly not as I planned. You 're go- 
ing, William, — to Illinois City ? " he asked meekly. 

" I think it best. You can't win this fight, Mr. 
Maiden. A number of the men are going with 
me. 

"And I suppose the rest will strike," said the 
manufacturer. 

" Perhaps. But all the capable ones can find 
work at Illinois City. The extension to that plant 
is nearly finished. They 're taking on new men to 
run it. There never would have been any trouble 
about the men finding work." 

The manufacturer was looking at him, trying to 
assort this new idea with the other new ones. 

" Mr. Maiden, let me tell you. As long as 
five years ago, conditions that no man could hinder 

132 



THE PLANT AT HIGH GROVE 

began writing ofF this plant. Illinois City was the 
place to make the plows. You held out against it. 
I fought it, with all my might, night and day — be- 
cause she was in my mind then. You understand ? 
It was only a question of time. But a man in a 
corner, with his back to the wall, likes to grit his 
teeth and make the time as long as he can. Now, 
don't you see, there is no longer any reason — any 
motive — " 

Maiden looked at his Superintendent with a hum- 
ble and melancholy smile. " Because my daughter 
is engaged to Arthur Dyer ! " he said. Suddenly he 
threw up his hands, like one utterly giving it up. 
" Let it come ! Let the trust come as soon as it 
hkes ! One man's plans, after all — what does a 
man know ? I used to think my plans important, 
too. Oh, well — h'm — will you come up to the 
house, William ? " 

" I 've a good deal to attend to to-night. I must 
get back," said Johnson, quietly. He glanced at 
Miss Maiden. 

" Good-night," he said, going. 

A pressure from Julia's hand stayed Maiden as 
he was about to turn away. He stood beside her 
silently while she watched Johnson's big figure out 
of sight. Then they turned to the house. 



133 



IV 
THE CHAIRMAN'S POLITICS 



IV 

THE 
CHAIRMAN'S POLITICS 

I 

THE thick glass panel of the office door 
bore the modest sign, " D. O. Emmet, 
Lawyer." Miss Prescott stood by the 
broad window in the outer room, look- 
ing idly down upon the roofs of the passing street 
cars in Washington Street, a hundred feet below. 
The door to the inner room was wide open. 
Miss Prescott had sauntered out five minutes before, 
because it had occurred to her that all the business 
of the interview respecting the Children's Play- 
grounds Bill was really done. That had occurred 
also to the Secretary of the Prairie Avenue Social 
Settlements League and to the Chairman of the 
Senate Committee on Cities. Still they lingered in 
there. As for Emmet, lingering had got to be a 
vocation with him whenever this tall young lady 
was concerned. 

^37 



THE CHAIRMAN'S POLITICS 

" I wish that Electric Consolidation Bill was 
well out of the way," he was saying, with preoc- 
cupied abruptness. If he looked worried, it was so 
fleeting an expression that the Secretary could not 
be sure. He came back at once to his confident 
manner. " But I mean that it shall be j I'm send- 
ing a man to work on it now." 

Somewhere in the background of Miss Page's 
mind flitted a question as to what the Electric Con- 
solidation Bill had to do with the Children's Play- 
grounds Bill ; but she let it flit. Other things 
were more interesting, and she knew that she was 
lingering. 

She was smiling at him, a little vaguely. '' Well, 
I shall go to Springfield, Tuesday — I hope it 
will go through." She looked down and brushed 
her neatly gloved fingers along the edge of the 
desk. 

As a kind of discovery, Emmet found her, in 
that small, abstracted action, inexpressibly feminine. 

" It 's pretty hard for you down there," he said 
— so personally that there was a little commotion in 
the Secretary's pulse. 

" Yes ; sometimes it 's pretty hard — and not al- 
ways quite pleasant with some of the people. But — " 
she smiled — "a good many things are pretty hard." 

The Chairman stepped over to her, his head 
bent slightly, his eyes glowing down at her so that 
she felt the big nervous force in him beating against 
her polite defences, and an underthought complained 

"38 



THE CHAIRMAN'S POLITICS 

that he was a dreadfully ardent, uncontrolled sort of 
man. 

" No ! Don't go down there again," he said ab- 
ruptly. " There 's no need. It 's just getting your 
bill reported by my committee. Leave it to me. 
I want to do something ! " 

" But I 've engaged to go," she protested ner- 
vously, steadily looking down. " Mrs. Randall 
thought I ought to." 

" No ! " he repeated. " I know better than Mrs. 
Randall. If you don't leave it to me, I '11 beat your 
bill ! The committee sha'n't report it at all ! " He 
was laughing ; but the laugh did not allay the ob- 
truding self-consciousness of either. 

" Oh, if it 's a question of life or death, of course 
I surrender ! " She laughed too, in the same ner- 
vous way. " If you think that 's best," she added 
rather humbly, for the laugh would not hold out j 
and she started for the door. 

As Emmet took the first step beside her, his hand 
brushed her sleeve, so that it could scarcely be said 
whether he had touched her or detained her for the 
wink of an eye. 

" Thank you ! I won't forget ! " he said tremu- 
lously, under his breath ; and they got to the door 
together. 

Returning to the inner room from ushering the 
two ladies out, and closing the door behind him, 
Emmet kept assuring himself, amid the endless 
turmoil in his mind, that nothing whatever had 

139 



THE CHAIRMAN'S POLITICS 

happened. There was that thrill in his veins from 
the mere gossamer touch of her sleeve, and it turned 
his brain volatile ; but he assured himself that no- 
thing had happened. So he sat down by the window 
and looked into the street without seeing anything, 
and in ten seconds jumped up and began pacing the 
room. A chair drifted his way, and he dropped into 
it only to spring up again. Once he found him- 
self gripping the top of the low bookcase in his 
two strong hands, as though he were going to 
coerce it into acknowledging that nothing had 
happened. He kept thinking of himself in odd, 
disconnected pieces. 

When the " Clarion " published its estimate of 
city candidates for the legislature, this paragraph 
appeared under his name and senatorial district : 

" Democrat. Age 27. Born in Cook County. Lawyer. 
An unknown quantity. Well educated ; good speaker. 
But owes his nomination to Johnny Gallagher. Has some 
respectable friends, who say he is better than his sponsors. 
Looks dubious." 

It looked dubious to Emmet himself just then. 
He had told her once that he believed in practical 
politics. He thought he had never been a bad 
fellow. But there had been a certain carelessness, 
a certain free-handed liberalness, in his politics. 
Especially there was this affair of the electric bill. 
It came back to him in a kind of lump. Also she 
came back to him just as she had stood there be- 

140 



THE CHAIRMAN'S POLITICS 

side the desk. It seemed to him that a wise and 
just Providence might well personally prevent that 
presence from coming any further into affairs that 
looked so dubious ; and he made a little prayer to 
her, or to the Providence, or to both, to the effect 
that, if she would come in, he would get himself 
all spotlessly cleaned up and be worthy of her. 

II 

It looked rather more than dubious to Mr. Gordon 
Prescott, President of the Consolidated Light and 
Power Company, — a stocky man of fifty, explosive 
at times, with a patch of close-cropped red whisker 
on each ruddy cheek. Even his bald head was 
pink, as though to carry out the sanguine color 
scheme. 

He was explaining it to the men in the smoking- 
room after dinner : " So this gang in the City 
Council got up a paper concern that they called 
the Metropolitan Electric Company, and passed an 
ordinance for it. Then, when thev could n't sell it 
out to me or to the South Side Illuminating Com- 
pany, they turned it over to Johnny Gallagher. He 
got some money and built a shed that he calls a 
power-station on the west side, and strung some 
wires, and pretended to go into the electric-lighting 
business. Well, my company and the South Side 
Illuminating get around to the point where we 're 
willing to go in together, to consolidate. We can 

141 



THE CHAIRMAN'S POLITICS 

save ;$200,ooo a year by it, and give just as good 
and cheap a service to the public. The lawyers 
look it over, and find that there '11 have to be a little 
amendment to the State Incorporation Law. They 
fix up the amendment and introduce it into the 
Senate. Then it 's referred to the Committee on 
Cities, instead of to the Committee on Corpora- 
tions, as it should be, and we find out that Johnny 
Gallagher owns that committee, body, boots, and 
breeches, and we 've got to make terms with him, 
and buy out his rotten Metropolitan Company at 
his price, or our amendment will be hung up. It 's 
just damnable. Nice mess for ladies to be mixed up 
in with their Playgrounds Bill ! And this fellow, 
Emmet, that Miss Page quoted to us, is chairman of 
that committee ! He '11 pick her pockets if she 
don't look out ! " 

III 

Nevertheless, the fellow Emmet bore no out- 
ward marks of degeneracy as, on Monday about 
noon, he entered the inner room on the upper 
floor of one of the least pretentious buildings in La 
Salle Street. 

This inner room was a mere closet, with only a 
desk and a couple of chairs. The man at the desk 
wore a Derby hat tilted back on his globular head. 
He was middle-aged, with broad shoulders and a 
firm, flat chest, leanly muscular. A dark-reddish 
beard, cut short, grew high over his cheek-bones. 

142 . 



THE CHAIRMAN'S POLITICS 

He merely glanced up as the shining presence burst 
in. 

The Chairman never had his effect of sparkling 
more perfectly. Such was his air of youthful 
buoyancy and vigor that it seemed simply optional 
with him whether he stopped or kept straight on 
through the wall. 

However, he dropped at once into the chair at the 
end of the desk, bending forward in his eagerness. 

"They'll give ;^350,ooo for the Metropolitan, 
John," he said. " I 've just had word from Win- 
throp. He makes the offer." There was a vi- 
brant quality in the young man's voice. His eyes 
shone happily. 

The shrewd eyes of the elder, lustreless man 
twinkled a little in his unanswering face. Even 
then Emmet was the dearest joke of his humorous 
heart. But this was business. 

" Three fifty, eh ? " he said calmly. 

The coolness irritated Emmet's heat. "Of course 
I 've taken this up on my own motion," he said. 
"I sent a man to Winthrop because I wanted 
it settled and out of the way. You know I 
don't like it. Whatever we may say among our- 
selves, we're using a public position for our own 
advantage. Now, good gracious, John, this is a 
handsome offer, a generous offer ! We can just 
take it and get the thing cleaned up and off our 
hands." 

Gallagher looked at the young man imper- 

H3 



THE CHAIRMAN'S POLITICS 

turbably. " Did you accept their generous offer, 
Dan'l ? " he asked softly. 

When he said " Dan'l/' it was always subtly a 
gibe and a reproof. 

" Of course I did n't," Emmet flung back im- 
patiently. "You know I can't do that. But I 
did tell my man that Winthrop had made a good 
offer," he added challengingly. 

Thereupon a series of deep wrinkles came length- 
wise in Gallagher's forehead. The edge of his 
scalp moved down. His eyebrows arched and 
moved up. His large mouth expanded on lateral 
lines until his strong back teeth were exposed, and 
a mighty grin stood revealed. It seemed to go so 
deep that it interfered with the production of his 
voice, which came out strained and hoarse. 

" That shows your kind heart, Dan'l," he gasped 
out of the grin. " I 'm sure it would comfort 
Winthrop to know you told your man that. He'd 
know he was right, even if I do turn him down." 

Emmet stared coldly at the grin. The check to 
.his plans touched his fiery impatience to anger. 
He was bent so ardently upon getting this one 
affair of the electric concern out of the way. He 
thought he had succeeded. Now this big, bull-like 
will stood in his way. 

" You don't mean you 're going to be such a fool 
as turn the offer down ? " he said quickly. " It 's 
the best you '11 ever get. You 're overreaching 
yourself. Your partners won't thank you for it." 

144 



THE CHAIRMAN'S POLITICS 

He knew he was insulting ; but in his anger he 
did not care. Gallagher's anger was different. He 
compressed his lips. He narrowed his steady eyes. 
He waited. 

" Besides, I tell you," Emmet added boldly, 
"there are public questions involved." 

When Johnny had himself firmly in hand, he 
said calmly : " You ain't got over being a kid yet, 
Dan'l. What you want is a rattle. You 're a 
toddler, and you slobber on your bib, talking of 
generosity. Where is any public question ? We 're 
in the electric business, ain't we, same 's Win- 
throp's men ? Prescott and the South Side Illumi- 
nating are going to consolidate because they see 
a chance to make a couple of million or so out of 
it. I 'm a sociable person, Dan'l ; I want to be 
consolidated with the rest of the boys. When 
they get good and consolidated, they '11 come over 
and try to take my little electric business away 
from me. It '11 make hard feelings. Let 's all 
go in snug and friendly and get consolidated to- 
gether, and let 's all get a whack at the two 
millions. Those fellows have gone into the stock 
market and loaded up with Consolidated Light and 
Power and South Side Illuminating stock, and 
they 're all ready to turn the trick — only " — his 
strident voice shot out — "they can't do it until 
I say so. Generous ! I 've got 'em in a corner, 
ain't I ? I 've got 'em by the scruff of the neck, 
ain't I ? They can't wiggle unless I let 'em, can 
lo 145 



THE CHAIRMAN'S POLITICS 

they ? And you talk about their generosity to me, 
Dan'l ? Tell 'em I say, ' T' hell with their gen- 
erosity/ When they get ready to offer me half 
a million, I '11 talk with 'em. You want a rattle ! 
Mr. Gordon Prescott and Mr. Thomas Frederick 
Winthrop — my old friend, smooth Petroleum 
Tommy — and the rest, course they've got a 
right to make as much money consolidating as 
they please, because they 're all prominent citizens, 
riding in carriages and throwing flowers at them- 
selves. They can rig the stock market and play 
horse with the minority stockholders, and make 
all the money they want to. But if I want to get 
in on the game and make some money, they hold 
up their hands in holy horror because my clothes 
ain't ally mode and I was brought up over by the 
stockyards. It 's your idea, Dan'l, that, if we want 
anything, we must go around to the back door with 
our hats off. It sort of jars you to think your 
Uncle John 's going to kick open the front door 
and walk into the parlor and demand pie. You 're 
afraid they '11 consider him rude and never let him 
auction off the boxes for the charity ball. You 
think if you take the sandwich and don't ask for 
butter, they '11 like you for a well-trained lad, and 
give you a certificate that you 're respectable. But 
you watch your Uncle John win their heartfelt 
respect, — which he will do by handing it out to 
'em so fast and strong that their heads swim and 
their knees knock together." 

146 



THE CHAIRMAN'S POLITICS 

" What do you propose to do ? " Emmet de- 
manded shortly. 

" You wait and see," said Gallagher. 

" But I don't want to wait ! " Emmet cried hotly. 
" I want to know. I want to clean this thing up, 
John, and get out of it." 

" Seems to me you kind of take it to heart, 
Dan'l," Johnny observed coolly. 

" Oh, drop that, will you ? " Emmet roared. 
" Treat me as a man, will you ? " 

The preliminaries of the grin appeared. " When 
you grow up, Dan'l ; when you grow up." 

" Then, you understand, I 'm out of this ! " 
Emmet sprang up. " I 'm out of it. I '11 have 
nothing more to do with it ! " 

Gallagher's eyes again narrowed, and again he 
waited a moment. He stood up also, and com- 
pressed his lips. " T' hell with you, Dan'l," he 
said cheerfully. "The Metropolitan is a grown 
person's game. If you don't like it, get out. Go 
back on me, if you feel that way. I can get along 
without you." 

" Get along, then ! " said Emmet, and burst from 
the room so impetuously that he brushed against one 
of Gallagher's lieutenants. 

The lieutenant entered, staring ; found Johnny 
still standing by the desk, his hands in his 
pockets J asked, " What 's the matter ? " under his 
breath. 

Gallagher's narrowed, leaden eyes looked steadily 



THE CHAIRMAN'S POLITICS 

by the lieutenant for a moment, then came gloomily 
to the man's nervous face. 

" Oh, these colts, Jakey ! these colts ! " he said 
wearily. " Dan Emmet is nutty and full of oats. 
He's bound to run away. He's going to run right 
into a stone wall, and there ain't going to be any 
upholstering on that wall, either." He reached over 
and closed the rolling top of his desk. " I 'm going 
to hand Dan'l a little package," he said, still most 
gloomily, "and after the explosion, if he lives 
through it, he '11 know more." 

When he got home, to a very snug house on the 
west side, where there was always the romping of 
lusty children, his wife noticed the overcast mood. 
In the front room, where Johnny smoked his cigar 
and read his evening newspaper, Mrs. Gallagher 
finally asked, " Anything wrong, Johnny ? " 

Gallagher glanced up. " I 'm bothered about 
Dan Emmet," he said. 

" Oh ! about Dan ? " The plump, comely, 
motherly woman waited a moment, her anxious 
heart in her throat. Johnny smoked thoughtfully, 
then took up his newspaper, and she knew he would 
not tell her then. 

IV 

Mr. Winthrop had been notified of the failure of 
his offer, and Emmet had taken the evening train 
for Springfield. 

148 



THE CHAIRMAN'S POLITICS 

Thomas Frederick Winthrop, who was Prescott's 
attorney, received the notification with his habitual 
blandness. But there was the sense of a painful 
swelling in the region of his heart. Standing in the 
centre of his private office on a rug of price beside 
a desk of carved mahogany with shiny silver trim- 
mings, his startled eyes travelled with slow aimless- 
ness over the dull red walls which matched the 
mahogany so beautifully. In fact, Mr. Winthrop 
was personally "long" a big line of South Side 
Illuminating and Consolidated Light and Power 
shares, and his margins were so uncomfortably thin 
that he could easily see ruin through them if any- 
thing happened to the consolidation plan. 

There was a small mahogany cabinet in the lava- 
tory off his room. He hurried to it, got out a 
beautiful cut-glass decanter, and took a large drink. 

Wednesday, his confidential agent at Springfield 
wired: " Row on this morning in Senate Committee 
on Cities. Emmet tried to get the Playgrounds Bill 
reported out. Committee slaughtered it. Emmet 
mad. Talk of row between Emmet and Gallagher. 
May affect the Electric Bill.'* 

Then his broker called up on the telephone. 
Somebody on the Stock-Exchange was selling Light 
and Power and Illuminating to beat the band. They 
said there was a row at Springfield and the consolida- 
tion bill was mixed up in it some way. 

Evidently something must be done. So Mr. 
Winthrop applied himself to the decanter for an 

149 



THE CHAIRMAN'S POLITICS 

Inspiration, and to make his nerves stop feeling so 
sick. 

Miss Page, shopping on State Street and mainly 
intent upon the new patterns in waists, heard the 
cry, bought a copy of The Express^ and went into 
Field's to read it. 

For firm ground the correspondent had only the 
fact that Emmet called up the Playgrounds Bill in 
his committee. Smooth sailing had been expected 
for it. But the committee had ruthlessly relegated 
it to the files. Emmet had left the Capitol and gone 
to his hotel, where he refused an interview. The 
report was that the Chairman and Gallagher had 
fallen out some way because they could n't agree on 
the electric matter. But others said it was just a 
dodge. An unnamed "Democratic Member" was 
quoted : " When it comes to making terms with the 
electric companies for letting that amendment go 
through, you '11 find there won't be any row in 
Johnny's camp." The newspaper's headline read : 
" Is Johnny Turning a New Trick ? " 

Miss Page felt a little sick. She scorned the 
imputation of sordid treachery. But there was this 
nameless touch of corruption and cheap rascality 
which every one seemed to take for granted. 
Especially, there was the picture of him, going off 
alone to his hotel as though he had no friends. 
And if he was angry, it must be a little bit at least on 
account of that promise — Ah ! if some one had the 
courage to help him. But what could a woman do ? 

150 



THE CHAIRMAN'S POLITICS 

She sat in a very comfortable wicker chair in a 
long row of like chairs occupied by waiting, or rest- 
ing, or merely lounging women, presumably with 
the patterns in waists on their minds. Her chair 
was next a court that cut through the huge shop 
from ground-floor to roof. Elevators laden with 
women plied up and down. Above and below she 
could see sectional vistas and glimpses of the im- 
mense busy establishment crowded with hundreds 
of her sex shopping, examining fabrics, gossiping, 
loitering, — the moment's phase of a perpetual wo- 
men's fair. She remembered that she herself had 
put in two hours spending eight dollars in dry goods. 
Oh, she might send him a ribbon or a shirt-waist, and 
write him, on a nice little piece of tinted notepaper, 
in a nice slanting little hand, that she was so sorry ! 

She arose and swept to the elevators. A timo- 
rous lady, who was about to step into the cage at the 
same time, looked up at her high chin, instinctively 
murmured an apology, and drew back. 

When she entered the anteroom of Mr. Win- 
throp's law office, she was aware that a broad- 
shouldered man in a Derby hat, whom she had over- 
taken and passed blindly in the hall, was at her heels. 
Mr. Winthrop was at the door of his private room. 
She saw that his glance took in herself and the man 
with a kind of perplexity. Nevertheless, the lawyer 
bowed urbanely and stepped forward. 

No very tangible programme had come to Mr. 
Winthrop's mind during the afternoon, but he had 

151 



THE CHAIRMAN'S POLITICS 

frequently resorted to the little cabinet in the lavatory. 
His face was uncommonly red, and he was looking 
at his trouble through an optimistic fog. 

Miss Page moved forward quickly, impatient to 
get separated from this strange man. " I wish you 'd 
tell me the news from Springfield," she said quickly 
in a low tone ; " I know only what the newspapers 
say. I don't understand it.'* 

The rosy mists in the lawyer's brain were not a 
help to clear thinking, but they helped to jocularity. 

" Why, could n't Mr. Gallagher enlighten you ? " 
he asked, at his blandest, looking over her shoulder 
at the man and sounding his mellow laugh. 

She understood at once that it was Johnny Galla- 
gher, the " boss." She took the occasion hardily, as 
she found it, and turned, politely smiling. " Perhaps 
Mr. Gallagher can," she said, with a kind of sociable 
brightness. "I am trying to find out what has 
happened at Springfield to the Playgrounds Bill, and 
why it happened." 

The fact that she was a pretty woman and looked 
amiable made a certain impression behind Johnny's 
gloom, but the shell was immobile. He thought 
she was a newspaper reporter. No, he knew noth- 
ing ; politics were always too deep for him. In a 
half-mechanical following of the lawyer's lead, they 
drifted up to the door of the inner room. " But 
why don't you go to Emmet ? " Johnny suggested. 
" He seems to know all about it. Have somebody 
interview him." 

152 



THE CHAIRMAN'S POLITICS 

Miss Page glanced down. " I thought Mr. 
Emmet would do all he could for the bill," she said ; 
" in fact, we counted on his help. We rather left 
it to him." 

'' Oh 1 You 're one of 'em — one of the Play- 
grounds women — er, ladies ? " 

" I 'm Miss Page. Mr. Emmet told me he 
would undertake to get the bill favorably reported." 

Johnny's interest suddenly roused. " Dan did ? 
When r When did Dan say that ? " he demanded 
in his harsh voice. 

It seemed almost like a question of veracity. 
Miss Page held up her chin. " Last Saturday," 
she answered firmly. 

Gallagher looked hard at her. He was sensible 
enough of her beauty and style. It was occurring 
to him that Emmet would have been sensible 
enough of them, too. Perhaps, after all, he had 
punished the youngster more than he had meant ; 
had hurt his pride more than he had intended. 
But the thought subtly evoked his belligerence, 
too. What business had beauty and style to get 
mixed up with politics? He seemed more gloomy 
than ever. 

" Well, I guess he thought he could do it," he 
said stolidly. " I reckon he was n't calculating to 
play horse with anybody but me." 

The form of the speech was baffling ; but Miss 
Page jumped to a happy conclusion. " Then you 
and he are really at outs ? " she said eagerly. 

153 



THE CHAIRMAN'S POLITICS 

" We ain't singing ' Comrades ' to each other," 
said Johnny. " He sends me word he 's going to 
pitch into me." 

" Pitch, into you ? " She was finding it very 
confusing. 

Without verbal reply, Gallagher pulled a crumpled 
telegram from his overcoat pocket and handed it 
over. She read : 

**I shall speak on the electric bill under privilege to- 
morrow forenoon. I shall throw all the light I can on it. 

Emmet.'* 

This was more baffling than anything else. She 
looked her perplexity at Gallagher. Meantime, 
Mr. Winthrop blandly read the telegram in her 
hand. 

" Why," said the lawyer, with his large air of 
amiability, " a man came to see me about the 
electric bill day before yesterday, and he told me " 
— the lawyer paused, smiling urbanely — " that 
Emmet sent him here." 

"Yes," said Miss Page. "Mr. Emmet told 
me that he had sent a man to see about the 
electric bill." The fact simply floated up in her 
confused mind, and she handed it over blindly, as 
a possible help to elucidating the puzzle. 

" He did ? " cried Mr. Winthrop with animation. 
He held up his distinguished head and sounded 
his mellow laugh. " Why, it 's a clear case ! He 
tried to make us buy out the Metropolitan Electric 

154 



THE CHAIRMAN'S POLITICS 

Company, in which, I suppose, he 's interested, and 
now he proposes to denounce Mr. Gallagher, who 
has never, I can vouch, tried anything of the 
kind ! " 

The puzzle suddenly became dazzlingly clear 
to Miss Page. Her senses reeled a little with it. 
She turned to Gallagher with a kind of swift, flee- 
ing, startled helplessness. "Does he mean that? 
Does he mean to denounce — " she asked breath- 
lessly. 

The boss was looking at her with hard, narrow, 
unfriendly eyes. " I read it that way," he said in 
his harsh voice. She felt that he accused her. 

"Well, if he does," said Mr. Winthrop, looking 
at them both with urbane enjoyment, " we '11 explode 
a mine under the young man's mine. With what 
I know and what Miss Page knows, I guess Mr. 
Gallagher won't be the man that 's blown highest." 

When Gallagher walked out. Miss Page mur- 
mured a polite, empty word to the lawyer, and 
followed. 

" Mr. Gallagher ! Mr. Gallagher ! " she called, 
in the hall. 

Johnny turned around stolidly, and she whirled 
up to him breathlessly. " What would you advise 
me to do ? " she panted. 

" About what ? " the boss demanded in his stoni- 
est manner. 

"About — Mr. Emmet." Johnny still waited, 
immovable and with as little sympathetic help as 

^S5 



THE CHAIRMAN'S POLITICS 

a post. Before that rock-like attitude the young 
woman felt her courage evaporating. " I don't 
wish to do him an injury," she said evasively j " all 
I care about is the Playgrounds Bill." 

" Then I 'd advise you to go home, and keep 
away from Winthrop if you can," said Johnny, 
gloomily, as he turned away. If she had been 
a little different, he would have advised her to go 
soak her head. 

V 

When Gallagher stepped from the train at Spring- 
field next morning, he saw Winthrop and Prescott 
making their way to the street ahead of him. 

At the same time, Mrs. Celia Randall, President 
of the Prairie Avenue Social Settlements League, 
Chairwoman of the Committee on Political Action 
of the United Women's Societies, Treasurer of the 
Association for the Suppression of Objectionable 
Posters, and a Director of the South Side Wagner 
Club, emerged from the last Pullman car. 

"Here's Johnny Gallagher just ahead of us," 
she said in an aside. " You see you came down 
in excellent company, Helen. I suppose there '11 
be nothing fit to eat," she added, and settled her 
double chin over her collar in a manner that was 
eloquent. 

" Oh, I guess so," Miss Page answered with a 
vague attempt at cheerfulness. In the stress of 
her mind there was a subcurrent which dimly did 

156 



THE CHAIRMAN'S POLITICS 

justice to Mrs. Randall's injuries. To be swept 
away bodily from an agreeable dinner, thrust into 
the discomforts of a Pullman car, and carried to 
Springfield in a cause one does not understand, was 
surely trying to elderly nerves with a liking for ease. 

Alighting from their cab at the hotel as an om- 
nibus was discharging its load, they encountered 
Winthrop and Prescott. Gallagher stood apart, his 
hands in his trousers pockets, his overcoat on his 
arm, and looked on uncompromisingly while the 
other men bowed. Politer Mr. Winthrop stepped 
into the hotel with the ladies. Gallagher turned his 
hard, challenging glance to Prescott. 

" Do you know that young lady ? " he asked in 
his harshest voice. 

" Miss Page ? Certainly I know her," said 
Prescott, out of his surprise. 

Johnny's gloomy eyes dwelt questioningly on the 
sanguine man for an instant. " Come now, Pres- 
cott," he demanded, "just man to man, is she on 
the square ? " 

Mr. Prescott flushed angrily. " You must be 
drunk," he said. 

The politician's hard glance still rested upon him 
a second. "T'hell with you," he growled, and 
went into the hotel. 

Inside, Mrs. Randall was settling herself with a 
sigh of relief at the breakfast table, and Mr. Win- 
throp was disappearing from Miss Page's straining 
eyes. It was half-past nine — when Emmet would 

^S7 



THE CHAIRMAN'S POLITICS 

soon be starting for the Capitol ; and these men 
were free to find him. To have a man's freedom 
of action for ten minutes ! So far she had carried 
things — but to what end? Why, to sit down and 
eat breakfast, while the opportunity escaped. She 
had the sense in every nerve of his walking into the 
trap which she had prepared for him. At moments 
it seemed quite probable that she should be suddenly 
haled out somewhere and compelled to reaffirm the 
ruinous admission she had made to Winthrop, while 
Emmet was dragged away to some everlasting dis- 
grace. She detained the waiter, got a card from her 
purse, and scribbled : " Let me see you a moment 
in the parlor at once — please." 

" I 'd like to see Mr. Emmet a minute, before he 
gets away," she explained to Mrs. Randall, trying 
as hard as she could to keep her voice quite steady. 
She thought it sounded a little faint, and a wave of 
color came over her face. 

" I should have done no such thing, Helen," said 
Mrs. Randall, with an addition to her injuries. 
''It's quite useless. Mr. Winthrop is going to ar- 
range a conference for me after breakfast. If Mr. 
Emmet chooses to come, very well. Be sure the 
chops are hot," she added, for the waiter had 
returned. 

The minutes dragged interminably. A boy of 
many brass buttons, bearing a tiny tray, came into 
the dining-room. Miss Page's heart missed a beat 
or so. The boy inquired of the usher; was wafted 

158 



THE CHAIRMAN'S POLITICS 

in her direction. She remembered to try to look 
calm. He was at her side. Her own card lay on the 
tray. " Mr. Emmet ain't in his room," said the boy. 

She attempted to sip the coffee, which seemed 
likely to choke her. 

" I '11 wait for you upstairs," she said, reckless 
of the chin, and, without looking around, arose and 
walked from the room. 

The dining-room was on the ground-floor. She 
walked deliberately by the elevator on one side and 
the stairway on the other into the hotel office, where 
she drew the eyes of a dozen lounging men. There 
was a little smoking and writing room off to the left. 
She walked coolly and with a negligent ease through 
the office to the front windows that gave upon the 
street, looked out a moment, and calmly sauntered 
back. Going and coming, she threw a swift glance 
over the writing-room. But she saw no one she 
knew. 

The elevator boy leaned against the wire lattice 
by the open door of the cage. She stepped in. 
The boy followed and started the machine. " Par- 
lor floor," she said, and they stopped at the first 
landing. The lock of the wire door did not yield 
at the first pressure of the boy's fingers. 

"They been goin' to have this door fixed for a 
week : goin' to put in a automatic opener ; guess it 
needs it," the boy explained sociably. 

The sociability made its instant appeal to her 
suffering nerves. There was no one else in sight. 

159 



THE CHAIRMAN'S POLITICS 

"Is Mr. Emmet on this floor?" she asked. To 
get the lay of the land would be something. 

" Mr. Emmet ? No 'm ; on the fourth floor ; 
number four twenty-one." The boy had begun to 
close the door of the cage when she spoke, and 
was turning the lever of the machine. Now he 
brought the lever back, and held the door open as 
though he were uncertain whether she would get in 
again. 

" Oh, I was mistaken," she said without the least 
hesitation, and stepped into the cage. She did not 
know why. She did not know whether the boy 
would take her up to the fourth floor or down again. 
The cage started up. It occurred to her that she 
had quite lost her head and was doing something 
dreadful. But that did not seem to matter much. 

"Straight ahead to first corridor on your right; 
about halfway down ; number four twenty-one," 
said the boy. 

" Thank you," said Miss Page, as she stepped out, 
and the cage disappeared. 

A pier mirror stood in the wide hall before the 
elevator landing. In the glass she saw a tall young 
woman with her own face, except that there was no 
color in it. The empty corridors stretched before 
her. She dared not go a step further. Already she 
had thrown away her dignity and self-respect. She 
felt herself standing miserable and useless at the last 
brink. She simply waited in a kind of agonized 
helplessness. 

1 60 



THE CHAIRMAN'S POLITICS 

This face and figure struck upon Emmet's eye as 
he came dully along the corridor, his overcoat on his 
arm. In the first moment it seemed not so remark- 
able that she should be there, for a figure of this sort, 
reserved, accusing, condemning, had been rising in 
his thoughts through the night and morning. He 
had even supposed that she would be coming down 
there. 

He came up. « I lost your bill," he said. "Pd 
like to tell you how." When he took off his hat 
his hair was seen to be rumpled. His face looked 
a little haggard, which helped on the forlorn note in 
his voice. Such was the effect of this forlornness 
that Miss Page did not trust herself to speak. The 
way his big hands hung limp at his sides took away 
her voice for the moment. She only nodded. 

"I let Gallagher give me an interest in a concern 
called the Metropolitan Electric Company," he said. 
" It was n't an honest concern, and I knew it, but 
I didn't care much then. We pretended that my 
interest was to pay for my legal services. There 
was n't any prearrangement about this Consolidation 
Bill, for that was before I was elected ; and I had 
done some little legal work for the company, and we 
were all good fellows together." 

He had been trying most of the night and morn- 
ing to arrange the order of his speech; but he had 
not been able to do it. Now, unconsciously, he 
took up the simple facts as they had been in his 
mind. 



II 



i6i 



THE CHAIRMAN'S POLITICS 

"John just thought I was a good fellow, and he 
handed over the stock, and I took it because he was 
a good fellow. Then he got me into the chairman- 
ship, and when this Consolidation Bill came up he 
had it referred to my committee, because he 'd been 
a good fellow to me, and I was to be a good fellow 
to him. He wanted to make Winthrop buy out 
the Metropolitan, as a consideration for letting the 
Consolidation Bill go through. Well, finally, I 
wanted to get out of this electric business, which I 
did n't like any more. I tried to arrange a com- 
promise between Gallagher and Winthrop, to get 
it out of the way, and John and I fell out about it. 
Then he upset your bill, just to remind me that 
he was the boss. At first I was simply in a rage. 
It stung my pride. I told him I 'd denounce the 
Electric Bill, because I wanted to hurt him any way 
I could. But that 's all gone now, and I 'm going 
to do it because it 's the truth. John has been the 
boss. The dishonesty has been all around me and 
all through me ; and I want to tell about it just as 
it is. Of course, I know it won't do any particular 
good, — at least not now. It is n't for the public. 
It 's for myself. Everybody knows what the con- 
ditions are, I guess ; and everybody seems to tolerate 
them. But it's — spoiled everything for me. And 
I want to say my say about it — some people will 
understand it, maybe, and then I '11 drop it all — go 
away somewhere else, I suppose. For the untruth 
has ruined me. Nothing can alter that." 

162 



THE CHAIRMAN'S POLITICS 

" I don't think it 's ruined you at all," she pro- 
tested, with a passion which, perhaps, was a little 
petulant. As he had gone on speaking, she had felt 
in a blind, wounded, accusing way that he was 
cutting all the ground from under her feet. Her 
own drama seemed to be left dangling in mid-air. 
"Why should you give up — anything?" she de- 
manded. Suddenly she felt her eyes smarting. 

He started a little toward her. " If I thought 
you cared ! " — He stopped abruptly, as though 
ashamed of the touch of impetuosity. His advancing 
hands fell helplessly against his side. 

" If I cared ! " she flashed at him — then, with 
a quick imploring: "Oh, don't be a miserable 
MAN ! If I had n't cared, would I have followed 
you to Springfield and come up — almost to your 
room — " 

" Helen ! Helen ! " — warnlngly, under his breath. 

" No, sir ! " she stepped back from the inviting 
hand. "I'm going to tell you. I told Winthrop 
and Gallagher what you said about getting somebody 
to settle the Electric Bill — not thinking it would 
hurt you ; and they were going to use it against 
you if you made your speech, or Winthrop was, for 
I think Gallagher is your friend, anyway. And do 
you think I could endure that ? I came down here 
to tell you about it. Do stop now ; I can't back 
through the wall. You are a miserable man ! 
Oh ! " Since retreat was now impossible, she sud- 
denly leaned a little closer, threw up her chin, 

163 



THE CHAIRMAN'S POLITICS 

which brought her face near to his. " You know 
I could n't endure that I should be the one to hurt 
you. I was n't ready to let it all go — to see you 
hurt your career. I was n't ready to sacrifice my 
career — for truth or anything else. What 's truth, 
anyway ? " 

" Truth ? Why, I guess it 's you ! " said Emmet. 
He would have said more, fatuously, but she stopped 
him. 

"We must go downstairs," she said with a kind 
of fond refusal ; " they '11 be expecting me." 

Down in Parlor C, Johnny Gallagher leaned 
over the back of a chair and glowered at Prescott 
and Winthrop before him. Mrs. Randall sat a 
little apart, and her double chin seemed to defy him 
to impeach its respectability. 

" Behave yourself now ! " Helen whispered 
warningly. They had come through Parlor D, and 
were at the open door. 

" Let 's be frank and friendly all around," — it 
was Johnny's strident voice, — " and acknowledge 
that we 're all brother pirates on the make, and not 
try to backcap each other's games. What 's the 
difference between rigging the legislature and rigging 
the stock market ? I '11 admit I 'm a pirate. But 
who 's going to cast the first stone at me ? Who 's 
going to say that politics ought to be better than 
other business ? Other things being as they are in 
this world, what 's the matter with my running my 
politics the way I do ? " 

164 




'HO-ftAi jP^^m-' 



"-'1'// admit I'm a pirate. But who's going to cast the 
first stofie at me /* ' " 



THE CHAIRMAN'S POLITICS 

The answer came from the door. 

" You would n't tell your wife what you do, 
Johnny," said Emmet. He was beaming in his 
most sparkling manner. 

Johnny stared a moment. "Well, who'd want 
to tell his wife ? " he demanded. 

"Why, I would," Emmet declared, and laughed 
shamelessly. 

Miss Page looked demurely at the floor, and took 
a bit of her lip between her teeth, and colored. 

For a mere instant Gallagher floundered. Then 
he walked over and confronted the two, his mouth 
shut, his eyes twinkling. After he had surveyed 
them an instant, he looked around at the others. 

"The babes in the woods," he said solemnly. 
" You can't never beat 'em ! A barbed-wire fence 
would n't keep 'em apart ! " He stepped up to 
Miss Page. " But why did n't you tell me ? " he 
said. " It would have saved all the trouble. I 
tried to get you to." 

She bent a little toward him, quickly, eagerly. 
" I thought once or twice you did, too," she ex- 
claimed. "But then — well!" As though the 
inflections explained everything. 

" The babes in the woods," he repeated solemnly. 
" What about your speech, Dan ? " he added 
abruptly. 

" Speech ! " Emmet repeated in a tone of surprise. 
He glanced at Helen in a confused way. "Why 
— the speech — " he seemed bewildered for a mo- 

■65 



THE CHAIRMAN'S POLITICS 

ment. Then he looked around in a kind of happy 
dubiety. "Why, I guess I've made the speech 
already." 

" I guess you have," said Helen. 

Emmet seemed still somewhat confused. " It 's 
all wrong, John," he declared, with a doubtful 
shake of his head at Gallagher. "It's thoroughly 
wrong. But — well — I seem to have got human- 
ized sort of — maybe a fellow has to be rather un- 
happy before he can take a severe view of things. 
It would n't be right some way for me to pitch into 
anybody when I was so happy myself. I suppose if 
we were n't such good fellows we would n't tolerate 
so much badness. I 'm out of it now, you know, 
and I '11 just stay out and say no more about it." 

" Well," said Johnny, philosophically, " I reckon 
you '11 have troubles enough of your own, if you 're 
going to get married." 

" Oh ! " Miss Page protested — plainly at the 
implication of marriage, so that every one laughed 
at her, and Mrs. Randall, who had come over that 
way, with a mollified chin, put her hand in a 
motherly way on the young woman's arm. They 
got out of the room, followed by Emmet. 

There was a pause, full of the mellow, friendly 
air. 

" This falling in love — " said Johnny, thought- 
fully. " Still," he added, after an instant, looking 
at Winthrop and Prescott whimsically, " I suppose 
we men 'd get too tough to live if it was n't for 

i66 



THE CHAIRMAN'S POLITICS 

that." Again there was a little smiling pause. 
" Well," said Johnny, good-naturedly, " it seems 
kind of a pity to go on with the scrap after this. 
The innocents being out of it, suppose we sinful 
gents get down to business. I '11 be reasonable 
with you." 



167 



V 



THE LAME BOT 



V 

rHE LAME BOY 

LATHAM was about to take the aisle seat ; 
but he remembered his wife and stood 
aside, smiling a good-natured confession 
of his absent-mindedness. 
When they were seated, Mrs. Latham said, " How 
did you come to think of me ? " She looked up at 
him, her eyes shining over the joke of his abstraction. 
The man smiled again, but more vaguely. A 
light reply occurred to him ; but his thoughts were 
running too strongly back to the absorbing coil of 
that problem which he had left, evidenced by a wide 
litter of papers and law books on his study table. 

He was well enough aware of the scene, — the 
theatre-like hall, the stage in front prodigally framed 
in flowers, the people filling the seats about. He 
nodded here and there, and he was aware that other 
people glanced at him. 

His face was easily recognized even from those 
variously caricaturing portraits which appeared in 
the newspapers from time to time. The short sandy 
hair, inclining from each side, ran together in a sort 
of snarl above the centre of his broad, sloping, 

171 



THE LAME BOY 

aggressive brow. This odd snarl was repeated in 
miniature in the meeting of his heavy eyebrows. 
The eyes themselves looked dim behind the gold- 
bowed glasses. From each side of his wide, blunt 
nose a deep furrow ran down, and a welt of tough 
colorless flesh lay over the furrow. The mouth 
was rather small ; the chin square, with a cleft in 
the middle. His strong, well-made hands lay one 
on each arm of the seat. Mrs. Latham dropped 
her wrist across the hand which monopolized the 
arm between their seats, and instantly drew it away, 
leaning a little to the other side so as not to disturb 
him. Latham was trying to recall the precise 
language of that decision in the 3 2d Illinois, — 
a bore to be away from one's books. But he again 
supposed, in an undercurrent consciousness, that a 
Commencement was an affair demanding some 
sacrifice, if one had a son. 

Music began, and banished the slight, superficial 
annoyance of the stirring and chattering about him. 
He approved of music. It made a good atmosphere 
to think in. Some other affairs went forward on 
the stage, to which he gave at moments a cursory 
attention. 

Ah, the boy ! Latham made a strong winking 
with both eyes. His big frame slid further down in 
the seat. He softly laid the tips of his fingers to- 
gether. He was ready to listen. 

A slight lad, about eighteen, was coming to the 
front of the stage, walking with a distinct limp. 

172 



*r':^^ 




^H«f^^ Foe-AO.T>r 



A moment zvheji youth should be triumpha?Jt 



THE LAME BOY 

Abruptly, quite unexpectedly, a dull pang touched 
Latham's heart. Such a misfortune to be lame in 
youth ! 

The boy*s stifF leg had always been a sorrow, 
naturally ; but for years a familiar, accepted sorrow, 
like a death that had happened long ago. Now, as 
the slender young figure stood forth so conspicuously 
in a moment when youth should be triumphant — 
Oddly, Latham recalled the girl who had lately stood 
there singing ; even out of his mental remoteness 
there emanated a sense of the joy of her young, 
vigorous, beautiful limbs, like a perfume remembered 
after it has passed. His boy*s lameness became 
vitally of the present. There were his own huge, 
tireless limbs, his own bodily vigor that was equal 
to anything. He felt an impotent, pitying wish to 
give the boy a fairer endowment. Another thing 
struck him with new force, — it was the mother's 
face up there. 

The lad was speaking. His subject was The 
Duties of Citizenship. Latham had smiled over it 
vaguely when his wife told him. 

At first, as he listened, there was a slight move- 
ment of his lips, like the beginning of a smile. But 
very soon that ceased, and slowly, step by step, a 
large wonder took possession of him. 

This essay was callow enough in the main, sopho- 
morical enough, romantic enough. Latham knew 
that he could blow the thing over with a breath, 
that he could riddle it with a gibe, that a movement 

173 



THE LAME BOY 

of his finger would be enough to shatter it. But he 
was not thinking of that. The emotion in his mind 
amounted to this: Where had the boy come by 
those thoughts ? This boy, who half an hour before 
had seemed so familiar, as thoroughly imbedded in 
the intimate environment of his life as the chair in 
his study, in respect of whom his indefinite and un- 
formulated impression had been that he could draw 
his finger around the whole circumference of the 
younger existence, — by what miracle had he sud- 
denly developed the universe of an independent 
mind ? 

For there was thought here. The lawyer's mind, 
without conscious analysis, recognized the indepen- 
dent intellectual force. Much was taken at second 
hand, much was false, much was flimsy; but the 
boy had thought. The father perceived, with ex- 
treme surprise, that the son had been standing apart 
in his individuality, trying, considering, pondering. 
Latham sympathetically translated himself to the 
lad's place. He understood that this speaker had 
been weighing and judging his father, and his father's 
world. 

It occurred to Latham that he must have known 
this would happen, — but only " some time," a time 
far off^. Again he felt a kind of immense pity. 
He had always proposed vaguely to do what he 
could about forming the boy's mind ; and behold ! 
while he slept the forming had taken place. 

It touched his affection, and at the same time, 

174 



THE LAME BOY 

indistinctly, it stirred a self-pity in him, as though 
he had irreparably lost something. He looked 
around at his wife, moving his hand a little to touch 
her arm with an unwonted softness. But at the 
first light contact she drew her arm away, and bent 
a Httle further to the other side, just as she had at 
first when her arm disturbed his hand. Instantly, 
in the play of new-wrought emotion, Latham saw 
that this was simply her habitual, long-schooled, 
sweet sacrifice to the inexorable demands of his pre- 
occupation. Then he saw her face more fully, and 
his hand slipped back from the arm of the seat. In a 
queer flash he felt a fear of disturbing her. 

She sat well forward. Her rapt face was fixed 
upon the speaking boy so intently that she seemed to 
have entered into his being, to be speaking with him. 
It was in a way the boy's face, with its soft dark 
eyes, short straight nose, and gentle mouth and chin, 
— still a well-preserved, pretty face, its comeliness 
dignified by the slight powdering of gray in the 
smooth brown hair. Her hands rested in her lap. 
Now and then they stirred with a slight unconscious 
nervous motion. Her lips, too, moved a little now 
and then. In a moment Latham perceived that she 
was in fact speaking with the boy. It came to him 
with sudden insight how the boy had often gone to 
her with this essay ; how she had read and listened 
to it ; how she had absorbed it as a part of his life. 
The words from the stage failed to impress him as 
he hung on this new wonder. 

175 



THE LAME BOY 

Soon he saw something else, — that it was the 
moment of the woman's tenderest and completest 
triumph. She had heard him speak a few times. 
He had humored her wish with good-natured toler- 
ance. But now he knew that nothing he could do 
would ever move her as this boy's speech did. 
Though he should lay a new corner-stone of law or 
compel a senate, her heart would not be suffused 
with this tender exultation. He felt strangely lonely. 

Getting into the carriage, he wished to sit by his 
wife, to feel her beside him, to touch her. But 
she and the lad took the back seat as a matter of 
course. He had already patted the boy's shoulder 
and mumbled something about the essay. As the 
carriage wheeled around, the boy said, with a kind 
of gentle boldness, " Did n't you like Rose's sing- 
ing, father ? " 

" Yes," replied Latham absently, engrossed in 
his surprises. At once the mother and son fell to 
talking together in low tones. It wounded the 
man, although he knew well enough it was his own 
work. 

When they entered the house, Latham went at 
once stolidly up the ample curving stairs, while the 
other two loitered in the hall. On the second floor 
he mechanically pushed through the door to his 
study, turned on the electric lights, and sat down in 
the big leather-covered chair before the long table, 
covered with its professional litter, from which he 
had torn himself reluctantly. His wife had appeared 

176 



THE LAME BOY 

at the door putting on her gloves, and said, " It 's 
time now, Edward," and he had got up quickly, for 
she always gave him the last second. 

Now-, as he looked down at the pile of papers 
and the opened books, a singular repugnance filled 
his mind. How long he had toiled at those things ! 
How many days ! 

He had succeeded. The house was spacious. 
There was money enough. His name was a host. 
But at this moment he felt a kind of disgust, a 
kind of anger, toward that admirable mind of 
his ; that splendid, tireless, insatiable machine, which 
wrought ceaselessly day and night, and ground 
up his life. He was lonely. He got up and 
stepped to the small secretary in the corner. He 
explored a little drawer, then another, and drew 
out a yellow cabinet photograph of his wife, taken 
in the year they were married. It came to him 
just how she used to sit at the piano and play lightly 
and sing softly to herself in the evening, while he 
pored over his law books. There was not this 
spaciousness in their appointments then. He was 
just struggling up to his first small successes. He 
had not looked at this photograph for years. 

Where had those years gone ? He could count 
them in lawsuits fought, in fees won. They were 
written deep in those yellow-backed books about him. 
But he was getting old. He was old. His son 
had grown up unawares. His own wife, — how 
had that sprinkling of gray come into her hair, 
la 177 



THE LAME BOY 

when it was only yesterday that she was like this 

picture ? 

Suddenly that solid world of affairs in which he 
had lived seemed phantasmagorial, hollow, a dream 
in which somehow he had lost his life. For the 
better part of it was lost. Soon he would be bent, 
decrepit, joy would be forever behind him. 

He slipped the photograph into his inner coat- 
pocket. He turned to the door with a kind of 
anxious despair, as though he felt the strength 
going out of his rugged limbs, as though he felt age 
overwhelming him. He wished most of all to take 
his wife's hand, to sit beside her, to feel himself 
again loving and beloved, to warm away the frost 
that touched his heart. 

He crossed the hall, pushed open the door of his 
wife's room, and hesitated on the threshold. The 
boy sat beside his mother. They were talking 
together. 

The son's presence was a shock. Somehow, to 
Latham's perception, that presence made his own 
simple, ardent outflowing of tenderness half gro- 
tesque, half silly, as though the lad had caught him in 
something unseemly. He felt embarrassed, almost 
sheepish. 

The mother and son had stopped talking the 
moment he appeared. The woman looked up at 
him, serene, gentle, loyal, half ready to rise, expect- 
ing that he would ask for something. 

Latham pulled a chair over, and sat down before 

178 



THE LAME BOY 

them. He wished to say: "I am very lonely; go 
on talking; let me hear what it is that you always 
have to say to each other." But what he did say 
was : " I thought I 'd come in and see how the ' 
young orator felt after his effort." He spoke 
smilingly ; but the words struck him as patronizing, 
as possibly suggesting a sarcasm. 

The boy glanced down. The mother looked at 
him fondly. " He feels very well, I guess," she 
said. Her hand brushed the hair back from his 
forehead. 

The boy turned with a shy eagerness. " Did you 
think I was right, father ? " 

Latham smiled tolerantly, and replied at once : 
" Oh, bless you, no. You were quite wrong. But 
you spoke very well, and it was fairly original. 
That is the main thing at your age." 

The lad's eyes fell quickly. He put his hand, as 
by an unconscious motion, to the arm of his mother's 
chair. She put her hand over it caressingly. 

Then Latham saw that he had hurt the boy; 
that the youth's thought was as precious to him as 
the man's to him. This perception wounded him. 
" Why can they not understand me ? " he asked 
himself bitterly, half resentfully. 

" I thought it was very good, Edward," said the 
mother, more to the lad than to him ; and com- 
fortingly, not contentiously. 

Latham saw again how close they were to each 
other. It came to him that if she no longer played 

179 



THE LAME BOY 

and sung to herself softly, it was because the boy 
had filled up her life. Long ago she had been lonely 
many a time, just as he was to-night. But the 
human nature in her had taken its perfect revenge. 
The boy was all she required. The husband was 
left to the preoccupations on which he had insisted. 
" Very likely it was altogether good. I am apt 
to be mistaken — about many things," said Latham. 
He felt that he spoke dryly, even that it sounded 
somewhat bitter. His wife looked at him with a 
faint surprise. There was a brief, awkward pause. 
Something else came to his lips ; but it was not 
the right thing. He sat a moment, embarrassed, 
helpless. 

" Have you finished your work so early ? " Mrs. 
Latham asked. 

He felt it to be simply a politeness, — the sort of 
speech that one makes when nothing else comes to 
one. 

" No, I have more to do," he answered, and he 
rose from his chair. 

For an instant the woman glanced up at him. 
The momentary sense of a loss, of an affectionate 
desire, stirred in her. But he had taken one look 
at her, and was turning away. It was the law of 
their lives. She said nothing. 

It had come to Latham that, after all, he had 
nothing to say to these dear strangers in his house. 
His thought and their thought were a world apart, 
and he had lost the trick of interpretation, — lost it 

I So 



THE LAME BOY 

somehow in those years of intense application that 
had worn his mind in grooves, so that, however 
well it went along its own path, a distraction had 
come to be painful to him. 

He took his loneliness back to his den. His will 
was set now, and he bent grimly over his task. 

Two hours later he stood up, wiping his glasses. 
He was tired, but content. The brief lay outlined 
before him. He knew the men were few who could 
have done it so well and so quickly. The old mill 
ground ! 

He touched something in his pocket, and drew 
out his wife's picture. He smiled over it a little 
mournfully, but without any bitterness. His manner 
of life was fixed. He was Latham. A sense of 
his capacity, of his power, stirred in him. He felt 
the solid structure of his success. Thank God, at 
any rate, he had made an enduring rock, in the 
shadow of which their lives were secure. Let him 
be the rock. There were not too many of them. 



i8i 



VI 
THE SALT CROWD'S TRADE 



VI 

THE SALT CROWD'S 
TRADE 

I 

BURT, WESTLAKE & CO., brokers, 
were at last settled in their offices on 
the ground-floor of the La Salle Building. 
All was conspicuously new. The rough- 
hewn surfaces of the craggy granite which formed 
the two lower stories of the building glistened clean 
and hard in the sun. The broad cement flagging 
outside dazzled one's eyes. The twelve upper 
stories of bufF terra-cotta fronted the dingy street in 
dandified newness. Time had put no speck or nick 
in the white marbles of the rotunda. The brass 
grills which enclosed the elevator shafts were as 
sharp as fresh-minted coins. 

A side door, convenient for bashful speculators, 
opened from the rotunda to the broker's offices, 
which had a front door on La Salle Street. The 
rosewood, plate-glass, and cream-tinted walls of the 
offices were in pristine freshness. In the big back 
room where the customers of the house lounged and 

185 



THE SALT CROWD'S TRADE 

watched quotations, the tall blackboards presented 
an even deadness of unworn funereal surface. In 
the small room at the front, sacred to the heads of 
the house and to weighty business, the rugs, tables, 
and chairs were almost too new to use. 

Nevertheless the partners were not altogether 
happy. The firm had started modestly three years 
before in the upper story of a second-rate building. 
It had prospered. But this new lavish setting 
meant an expense account often thousand dollars a 
year, including the private wire to New York, and 
there was fifty thousand dollars for the membership 
in the New York Stock Exchange. The market 
had not picked up very fast after the slump of the 
spring. Trade, in fact, was dull — and the expense 
account was active. 

Hartley Burt, the senior partner, sat on a table in 
the front room. He was a young man of large and 
full figure, — fat, some people called him. The 
heavy lids, drooping over black eyes, gave his broad, 
florid, large-featured face an odd cast. Westlake, 
of Burt's own age, lounged, sprawling, in one of the 
new chairs, and lifted a large foot comfortably to 
the seat of another. A Derby hat was thrust back 
on his partly bald head. He was smoking and star- 
ing out of the window at the passing show. 

" Dull ; yes, you bet," he said, without moving 
his eyes. " If it don't pick up pretty soon, I guess 
we '11 be what Shakespeare called up against the real 
thing." 

1 86 



THE SALT CROWD'S TRADE 

" Pshaw ! It '11 pick up," said Burt, confidently. 
" Blast it, it 's got to pick up ! We need the 
money." He laughed, in a quiet, deep-toned 
way. 

" It would be an outrage to shut up as fine an 
office as this just because we could n't pay the rent 
on it," said Westlake, and laughed too. 

" It pinches a little up at the house," the senior 
partner confessed, soberly. " We ought to get hold 
of some of that Salt crowd's trade." 

The offices of the Illinois Coal and Iron Com- 
pany occupied all of the thirteenth and fourteenth 
stories of the La Salle Building, — a fact which the 
partners had more or less in mind when they finally 
closed the contract for the expensive ground-floor 
rooms. Henry Salt, President of the Coal and Iron 
Company, walked by their side door every day, 
going to and from the elevators. And if they could 
get even a little of the stock trade of Henry Salt and 
his personal followers they would not need to worry 
over the ten thousand dollars a year. Salt dealt in 
stocks by the ream. The commissions on his busi- 
ness would take care of the expense account. 

" That *s a fact. We ought to get some of it," 
said Westlake. " The old man looked in at the 
door this morning. He said, ' You 've got good 
offices. Is it going to rain ? ' I said, ' No, I guess 
it won't rain.' If we don't get his business after 
that, he 's a lobster." The junior partner spread his 
face in an appreciative grin. 

187 



THE SALT CROWD'S TRADE 

" If we don't get his trade," said Burt, with his 
deep-toned laugh, " we '11 send him a bill for looking 
in." 

" Sure ! " Westlake crowed. " Henry Salt, debtor, 
to one expert opinion on the weather, a thousand 
dollars ! " 

"We'll get him some day," Burt declared, with 
quiet assurance. " We '11 be in a position to do 
him a favor some day ; to tell him something he 
wants to know, and after that it will be clear sail- 
ing. The old goat ! C. I. is pretty soft just now. 
Wonder what 's up." 

" Say, that reminds me. There 's a suit of some 
sort pending against 'em — something about that 
Fox Valley deal, is n't there ? I remember some- 
thing about it. Dixon was saying to-day that there 
was going to be a decision pretty soon, and that's 
what 's making the stock weak." 

" Yes, there is a suit. Let 's see." Burt turned 
to the filing case on top of his desk. " Oh, yes. 
That fellow Bynum, don't you remember ? Bynum 
had two hundred shares of Fox Valley Iron Works 
stock. Salt bought up the rest of the stock, but 
Bynum would n't sell. Then Salt leased the Fox 
Valley to the Coal and Iron Company, and after 
a while Bynum brought suit, — claimed the Coal 
and Iron Company was a trust, a combination in 
restraint of trade under the Illinois law, and asked 
to have the lease set aside. I remember it now. 
The Circuit Court found against Bynum, and he 

i88 



THE SALT CROWD'S TRADE 

took the case to the Appellate Court. A decision 
coming, you say ? " 

" So Dixon says. Wonder if it 's Judge Martin ? 
If it is, we might go up there to dinner and chloro- 
form the judge and get the decision, and hand it 
over to Salt on a contract that he 'd give us half his 
stock trade." 

They laughed over this, in the way of men inured 
to chance, who cannot stay downcast very long. 

"Wanted — recipe to catch Salt. Do you put 
a bird on his tail ? " said Burt, and they parted, 
laughing. 

II 

At half-past one Henry Salt, walking back from 
lunch through the rain, made a wet trail across the 
white marble floor of the rotunda. A car was 
ready for the ascent. The starter had given the 
signal and the door was closing. The starter 
caught sight of this dripping figure and whirled 
back and caught the closing door, with a gesture 
to the conductor to hold the car. But the presi- 
dent of C. I. turned calmly aside and walked to 
the door of Burt, Westlake & Co.'s back room. 
He could see the figures on the blackboard from 
the door. Of the seven men lounging in the room, 
five were instantly aware that Salt stood in the 
door. Hartley Burt was one of the five. He 
nodded, smiling slightly, and for the sake of his 
dignity, took time to measure the figure in the 

189 



THE SALT CROWD'S TRADE 

doorway, — a broad, bulky, high-shouldered figure, 
indifferently dressed, rain dripping from the brim 
of his soft hat upon his wet, unprotected shoulders. 

Salt took off his hat, mechanically, and shook the 
water from the brim. His stiff, close-clipped, yel- 
low hair was slightly sprinkled with gray. There 
were wrinkles in his broad face. But as he stood, 
heavy and bull-like, looking over at the blackboard, 
he gave the impression of inexhaustible vitality. 

Burt walked across the room in a leisurely way. 
He carried himself well, with his chin up. 

" Why did n't you stop in and borrow an um- 
brella ? I 'd have lent you one," he said as he 
came before Salt. 

The president of C. I. grinned a very little. 
"Market's dull, eh?" he said. 

" Yes, — dull and soft. The crowd seems mostly 
bearish — rather sell than buy." 

"What's C. I. there? Hundred and eight?" 
Salt asked. 

Burt glanced back at the board. "Yes, hundred 
and eight — two points down from the opening. 
A good many people seem to be selling it. Afraid 
of the court decision, I suppose." 

" Well, I don't know but I '11 sell some myself," 
said Salt, meditatively. 

The broker waited, his heavy-lidded black eyes 
on the magnate's face. Was Salt going to give 
him an order ? Two words now would settle that 
expense account. 

190 



THE SALT CROWD'S TRADE 

" Can't keep a stock up if every court is going to 
take a fall out of the company," Salt grumbled. 

"You won in the lower court," Burt suggested. 

"Yes. And we ought to win now. But a 
court is uncertain. Wish I knew what this one 
was going to do." The slight grin reappeared. 
" I 'd know then whether to sell or buy. You 've 
got good offices." 

Salt turned calmly and made for the elevators with 
his vigorous waddle. The saving two words were 
not spoken. Burt loitered a moment glancing after 
the bull-like, wet, indifferently dressed figure, and 
as he looked, the lust to succeed stiffened his will. 
" All the same I '11 get you some day," he thought. 

He was turning back to the blackboard when the 
young woman who sat by the door of the private 
room and did their typewriting, glided up. 

"Mr. Martin — Judge Martin's son — is in your 
room. He wishes to see you right away," she said, 
in an aside. 

Burt entered the front room holding out his hand, 
saying, " Hello, Eddie." 

The young man within sprang up in nervous 
haste and seized the extended hand. "Say, old man, 
I want to see you," he began excitedly. 

There was a certain suspense, and aloofness in 
Burt's manner as he stood before his caller measur- 
ing him with steady, deliberate eyes. He had the 
advantage of five years' seniority and of the solid 
character as opposed to the light one. Most of all 

191 



THE SALT CROWD'S TRADE 

he had the advantage which the presentable reputa- 
tion holds over the unpresentable one. This young 
man was slender, graceful, and dressed like a dandy. 
His complexion was fair as a girl's j his blue eyes 
looked frank and merry ; his lips were always ready 
to laugh, and there was no sign anywhere of the in- 
curable scapegrace which every one knew him for. 

"What is it, Eddie?" said the broker, steadily. 

" It 's straight business ! " The blue eyes flashed 
out a laugh. " I 've scraped some money together 

— forty-eight hundred dollars in real money ; no 
stage greenbacks this time." He would have his 
joke on himself even amid his evident excitement. 
" I want you to take that for margin, and sell five 
hundred shares of Illinois Coal and Iron for me. 
Can you ? " 

"Yes. I can sell It for you," said Burt, secretly 
surprised at so fair a proposition from Eddie. 

" Good ! Say, do it right now, will you ? The 
market 's closing." 

Burt stepped to the door and spoke to the sten- 
ographer. 

•' You '11 probably lose your money, Eddie," he 
said coolly, as he turned back to the young man. 

" Not on your life ! Say, old man, it's a cinch ! " 
The caller's excitement visibly rose. It shone in 
his eyes. " See here, now." He edged close to 
Burt, speaking rapidly. "You know there's a suit 
pending against the company in the Appellate Court 

— fellow named Bynum said it was a trust and all 

192 



THE SALT CROWD'S TRADE 

that." Burt nodded. " Well, the old man 's writing 
the decision in that case. He 's doing it at home. 
I was rummaging through his desk little while ago, 
looking for a letter of mine he 'd collared — what 
you might call an incriminating document. Oh, 
he's a regular pirate when it comes to collaring my 
things ! Well, I ran across a draft of the decision. 
Say, it 's a Joe dandy ! Court takes a fall out of 
C. I. at every turn. Sets aside that lease of the Fox 
Valley plant ; holds that the company is a trust, an 
illegal combination in restraint of trade. It 's done 
in the old man's best manner ; same one he uses on 
me about twice a week. Quotes the law and the 
decisions ; makes a grand spiel about the duty of 
courts to enforce the statutes ; says the attorney-gen- 
eral ought to proceed against the company and take 
away its charter ; asks why the Grand Jury does n't 
indict the managers under the criminal section of 
the anti-trust act. Oh, it 's a peacherino ! Say, that 
ought to knock C. I. off ten, fifteen points, ought n't 
it ? " 

" Maybe," said Burt, dully. 

" Well, then, what do you say ? Suppose we 
make that order a thousand shares instead of five 
hundred. I need some money infernally, old man." 

" Better let it be at five hundred, Eddie. That 's 
less than ten points margin." 

" Well, of course, if you say so," said Martin, 
reluctantly, and with a lingering hope. " But, see 
here, why don't you jump in and get short of a lot 
13 193 



THE SALT CROWD'S TRADE 

of C. I. yourself? Make all the money you can 
out of it, old man. I 'm willing ! " The blue eyes 
and red lips flashed an engaging smile. 

When Burt got back to the rear room he saw, 
with relief, that the market had closed. The loung- 
ing customers who wore out his new chairs so 
liberally and traded so meagrely were gone. He 
heard Westlake asking for him in the middle room, 
aind heard one of the clerks say that he had gone out. 
He did not contradict it. He knew then — it was 
about the first thing he did definitely know — that 
he was not going to tell Westlake what he had just 
heard. Whatever was done he was going to do it 
alone. This decision to do it himself was not in 
any degree premeditated. It was simply the leading 
of an instinctive sense. 

In this game of speculation all was as fair as 
in love or war. The only thing was to win. In- 
formation gained, no matter how, was part of the 
game. Without an instant's consideration, Burt 
knew that if Westlake had foreknowledge of the 
court's decision he would sell C. I., and tell his 
friends to sell it, and be no more troubled by a 
scruple than would a general who took advantage 
of the enemy's secret. That was part of the game. 
Burt's ambition was to be a successful broker, to 
build up a great house, to attract big operators — 
and, just now, to overcome that ominous expense 
account. Eddie Martin's disclosure presented itself 
to his mind, not so much as a " tip " for a specu- 

194 



THE SALT CROWD'S TRADE 

lation of his own, as a bait to catch Henry Salt 
with. If he gave Salt this information, Salt would 
give him some trade. That was the bigger game. 
If the information had come to him in a little dif- 
ferent way his course would have been perfectly 
plain ; he would have told Salt, and he would have 
had no qualms about it. But a personal equation 
confused his play. 

He knew Judge Martin and honored him as a 
sincere and upright man. He knew Judge Martin's 
wife and liked her. Judge Martin's daughter was 
his own wife's friend. She came rather often to 
his place in Edgewater. Some way a picture of 
her, close beside Rachel in the cool of his veranda, 
on his small, shady lawn, or upstairs in Rachel's 
room, persisted in his mind and confused his play. 
Rachel and the babies got mixed up in it. He 
sat staring at the blackboard, slowly smoking, not 
really thinking at all, but turning around in his 
labyrinth. 

At three o'clock he got up. He wanted both 
to go home and to go anywhere but home. While 
he stood, undecided, Henry Salt stepped out of an 
elevator and started to the street with his strong, 
awkward gait. 

This burly figure abruptly dramatized the diffi- 
culty. It was Opportunity personified. How very 
easy it was ! The simplest matter of walking 
rapidly across the rotunda and speaking half a 
dozen words under his breath. Opportunity and 

195 



THE SALT CROWD'S TRADE 

Success were passing his door. He felt a kind of 
rage against his scruples, as though he had been 
unjustly caught in some silly sort of trap. It was 
a man's game, after all ! The strong fighting blood 
came up into his brain. To rush forward, tramp- 
ling over the small things in one's way; to seize 
success, grapple with it, win it ! At bottom the 
man who lacked the courage to do that never 
deserved success ! All this stirred hotly in his 
mind. Yet he stood there, motionless, while 
Salt disappeared. 

His place in Edgewater was modest enough, — 
a two-story red brick house with white blinds and 
a wide white porch, a foot above the ground level, 
on two sides. The abundant vines and the oak- 
trees about it, and the little thicket of shrubbery on 
the trim lawn, gave a secluded and country-like 
effect. Burt was rather proud of the place. He 
was proud of his wife. She came up to the porch 
from the lawn, in a dainty linen suit, the chubby 
little girl, and the chubbier littler boy clinging to 
her skirts and clamoring with infantile mirth. She 
sat down in the willow rocker beside Burt. 

" How good the early summer evenings are ! " 
she said, with a full content. 

Burt noticed again her beautiful white hands, one 
of which rested on the arm of his chair. Suddenly 
he thought, " Her hands are beautiful ; mine are 
strong. It 's her part to have sweetness ; mine to 
have force. I 'd be doing better to go out and win 

196 



THE SALT CROWD'S TRADE 

for her in a man's way, rather than try to have her 
gentle qualities. What am I hesitating about ? " 

He took the hand which lay on the arm of his 
chair, beautifully shaped, white, smooth as velvet 
to the touch, with pink nails. The pretty, soft 
fingers closed lightly over his broad, hard palm, 
and a singular power came from them, — some- 
thing indescribable which yet compelled him. An 
odd thrill touched his heart. He felt that he must 
do right. 

Ill 

C. I. opened at 107J, moved up ^, looked dull 
almost to the point of lifelessness. The market, 
on the whole, seemed a trifle stronger and more 
active. 

Burt read this much from the figures on the 
blackboard. The house had not a single trade to 
make that morning. Westlake was a bit glum. 

About eleven o'clock Eddie Martin hurried in. 
Jim (Jim Riner, his cousin and pal) had scraped 
up twenty-seven hundred dollars, and wanted to 
sell five hundred shares of C. I. Would Burt do 
it for him ? They 'd make it a joint account be- 
tween himself and Jim. There would be seventy- 
five hundred dollars' margins on one thousand shares 
— and it was a cinch, anyway. The old man was 
working on the decision again last night. Had 
Burt sold any stock for his own account ? 

The broker accepted Jim's order to sell. He felt 

197 



THE SALT CROWD'S TRADE 

an inexplicable helplessness to do otherwise. The 
thing played back and forth in his own mind. 
Maybe he was going to tell Salt. He could not 
say that he was n't. The possibility kept dodging 
about in his thought. He could say to himself 
calmly, " It 's quite Hkely that I '11 give it away to 
Salt to-day." 

" He 's working on the decision, loading in more 
ginger. I saw it again this morning," said Eddie, 
excitedly, his eyes burning. 

Unexpectedly Burt found himself seizing the 
young man's arm in a tight grip. 

" See here, Martin ! " (He had always called 
him Eddie before.) " See here ! For Heaven's sake 
keep your mouth shut about this ! Don't tell any- 
body ! " He gave the arm a slight shake. " Don't 
you see your father's position ? " 

" Oh, that 's all right, old man ! That 's all 
right ! " Eddie laughed nervously. " I won't go 
around tipping it off. I 've only told you and Jim. 
Blast the old man ! If he did n't treat me like a 
beggar, I 'd have some consideration for him. But 
I '11 keep mum — regular clam." 

" C. I. 's soft as butter," said Westlake when 
Burt went into the back room. The price was 
drooping. It was not a break ; not a sharp, deci- 
sive movement. The stock hung dully at 107^; 
then slipped down to 107 ; presently there was a 
sale at io6f. No further quotations came for 
twenty minutes j then it was 106I, ^, 106. Then 

198 



THE SALT CROWD'S TRADE 

the quotations stopped again. The whole market 
had turned listless. 

Burt was acutely aware of the approach of the 
half-hour between one and two. The moment Salt 
appeared in the doorway he knew it. He sauntered 
over, carrying himself well, with his chin up ; but 
his very blood tingled. 

" Soft again, eh ? " said the fortune-maker. 

"Soft," said Burt. " C. I. is down to 104." 
His heavy-lidded eyes were on Salt's face, and he 
had a strange sense of imparting the secret to him, 
as a man about to stab might see the knife in the 
wound before the blow was struck. 

" Maybe somebody 's got a line on that decision. 
Court may have tipped it off to some friends,'* Salt 
suggested half jocularly. " I wish they'd tip it off 
to me." 

Burt was silent. How easy ! Merely to whisper 
a word and the thing would be done. Even when 
Salt turned away to the elevators the thing seemed 
so near, so simple, — merely a motion of the eyelid, 
the crook of a finger, the gentle pressure of a noise- 
less trigger. But the thing was not done. When 
Salt disappeared, the first thought in Burt's mind 
was, " Maybe I '11 tell him to-morrow." 

C. I. closed at loi. In the morning Eddie came 
in early. There was seven points' profit on his 
five hundred shares and six points on Jim's five 
hundred. That would make them winners by sixty- 
five hundred dollars if they closed the trade then. 

199 



THE SALT CROWD'S TRADE 

But they did n't propose to close the trade with the 
decision undelivered, and the decline in C. I. only 
started. They wanted Burt to sell one thousand 
shares more for their joint account on the strength 
of their profit. That would make two thousand 
shares in all that they would be short, and ten 
points more on that, say, would exactly set them up 
in business. 

Again Burt accepted the order because he felt 
helpless to refuse it. He and Eddie still potentially 
stood together. Maybe he would tell Salt that day. 
But again Salt came and went untold. 

Saturday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, came 
and passed. The market was getting stronger and 
more active. But C. I. hung between par and loi 
in a stubborn sort of way. Somebody seemed ready 
to buy as much as was offered. 

At 10.45 Thursday morning the electric printing 
machine in Burt, Westlake & Co.'s back room ground 
out this bulletin : " Appellate Court decides Illinois 
Coal and Iron suit against the company." Ten 
minutes later an amplified report began coming in. 
The decision was sweeping, holding against the 
company at every point, declaring it to be a trust, 
illegal, in restraint of trade. There was a burst of 
excitement along La Salle Street. C. I. was sold 
right and left. 

But the market was a puzzle. C. I. went off a 
bare two points to 99. There it stuck. Every 
share offered was promptly taken. 

200 



THE SALT CROWD'S TRADE 

Friday morning C, I. opened at lOO. Ten 
minutes later it was at 115. At the end of the first 
half-hour's trading it was at 125. Then everybody 
knew. The shorts were frantically trying to cover, 
and the stock was cornered. Of course Salt had 
cornered it. The Salt crowd had taken another 
trick. 

It happened that Burt was over at the bank when 
the market opened. As he was coming out ten 
minutes later, Westlake was running up the steps 
wild-eyed. He clutched the senior partner's arm. 

" Have you seen the market ? " he panted. 
'*• Looks like a corner in C. L It was up to 108 
when I left the office and climbing. We 're short 
two thousand shares for young Martin and Riner." 

Burt hurried back to the office in time to see the 
boy set down the quotation T18 for Coal and Iron. 
He stood looking at the figures. That extraordi- 
nary confusion which had perplexed his mind for a 
week was upon him now. Something paralyzed 
the clarity and swiftness of decision upon which he 
had prided himself. He felt himself inextricably 
involved in a drama which was working itself 
out beyond his volition. The only refuge of his 
confused mind lay in doing nothing, as though 
he had someway lost the power of independent 
action. 

" There '11 be a reaction from this advance. The 
shorts are panic-stricken. It '11 go off again," he 
said to Westlake. And he tried to comfort himself 

201 



THE SALT CROWD'S TRADE 

with the words, although they sounded stupid even 
to himself. 

" Well," said Westlake, dubiously, but accepting 
the senior partner's decision. He gave Burt an 
odd look. The senior's broad face was composed 
as usual. " Well," Westlake repeated, " if you say 
so." His own face cleared. Burt usually knew 
what he was about. At any rate a fellow must take 
his chances as they came. 

C. I. stopped at 125 simply because the shorts 
stopped bidding for it. None was offered at less. 
There was no doubt about the corner. Salt had all 
the stock. The shorts could buy only on his 
terms. 

It was simple arithmetic for Burt, Westlake & 
Co. They were short two thousand shares of C. I., 
on which, with the stock at 125, there was a loss 
of forty-two thousand five hundred dollars. Against 
this loss they held seventy-five hundred dollars in 
margins. The idea of calling upon Eddie Martin 
and Jim Riner for the difference was too ridiculous 
to be considered. The stock would drop back, 
Burt kept telling himself, to a point where the house 
could get out with little or no loss. 

But C. I. did not drop. After a ten-minute 
lull the shorts began trying to cover. C. I. moved 
up ten points j then fifteen, without a sale between 
135 and 150, where it stood at eleven o'clock. 

To the senior partner, sitting in the back room, 
the thing had all the cruelty of a torture-chamber. 

2Q2 



THE SALT CROWD'S TRADE 

That movement from 135 to 150 was like a sharp 
turn of the boot, a sudden, powerful stretching of 
the rack. His heart turned to lead, and he slowly 
gathered himself up. With C. I. at 150 their loss 
was ninety thousand dollars, and that meant simple, 
complete ruin. A second and peremptory demand 
for margins came from their New York correspond- 
ents. 

Burt wired back, " I am going to get the stock to 
deliver." 

Probably that good, bold lie would carry them 
through the day. When he looked up from writing 
the telegram C. I. stood at 160. 

It was ruin, good and plenty. If the correspond- 
ents would n't take his word they would close out 
the deal, sell his membership to pay what it would 
of the deficit and throw Burt, Westlake & Co. into 
bankruptcy. It was pretty rough to ruin Westlake 
as well as himself. 

IV 

At half-past three, when Burt stepped out of the 
elevator on the fourteenth floor of the La Salle 
Building, he looked as calm, as contented, and as 
well kept as ever. The suit of dark blue flannel, 
with a light linen vest and the white straw hat, were 
rather becoming to his large, full person and broad, 
large-featured face. 

Such other possible expedients as he had been able 
to think of during the day had failed. This was the 

203 



THE SALT CROWD'S TRADE 

forlorn hope, — a last resort before he went home to 
tell Rachel that he was broke. 

He had never been up here before, and he asked 
the way to Mr. Salt's office of the boy who sat at a 
little desk in the corridor opposite the elevator land- 
ing. The door down the corridor marked " Presi- 
dent " admitted him to a small and bare anteroom. 
The boy took his card to the next room. In a 
moment a thick-set, smooth-faced young man came 
out, palpably taking stock of the caller as he ad- 
vanced. Burt's card was in his hand. 

" You wished to see Mr. Salt ? " he asked. 
" What about, Mr. Burt ? " he put the plump ques- 
tion with a certain good humor, referring to the card 
for the name, as though it were perfectly understood 
between them that all sorts of impossible people 
wished to see Henry Salt. 

" Our offices are on the ground-floor," said the 
broker, as though that constituted a sort of relation- 
ship. " I Ve something to say to Mr. Salt. 1 think 
he will see me all right," he spoke with perfect good 
humor and smiled confidently. 

" I '11 see," said the young man, who had caught 
the impression that the visit was for Salt's benefit 
rather than the visitor's. He disappeared with the 
card, and after a moment came to the dgor and 
beckoned. 

The secretary opened the door of the third room 
from the anteroom. Burt took ofF his hat and found 
himself alone with the president. Salt sat at a large, 

204 



THE SALT CROWD'S TRADE 

littered desk, in a spacious, well-furnished corner 
room with light on two sides. Burt advanced and 
took the vacant chair at the end of the desk. Salt 
looked up. 

" Well, what is it ? " said the president, without 
courtesy and without offence. He was ready to 
listen ; but his time was valuable. 

" I 'm short two thousand shares of Coal and Iron 
for a customer who has no more margins," said Burt, 
calmly. 

The president's heavy brows gathered in an angry 
frown. His hand moved toward the row of electric 
call buttons at the edge of his desk. " What the 
devil do you expect me to do about that ? " he de- 
manded. 

" I expect you to sell me the stock at a price I 
can stand, or to lend it to me for a while, or to sell 
it to me at the corner price and take my notes, un- 
secured, in part payment. I can't ge't the stock to 
deliver. My customer can't get it. I can't pay i6o 
for it, because I have n't that much money. I 'm 
broke at 150. I want you to let me out." He 
spoke quietly, looking the other square in the eye. 
He knew it to be the very crisis, and from some- 
where within him there came up an ample power to 
meet it. He knew that he was not going to be afraid 
or to cringe. An inscrutable joy in his own readi- 
ness touched his mind. His broad face lighted with 
a frank, good-humored smile. 

Salt stared at him, gloweringly. " Say, I like your 

• 205 



THE SALT CROWD'S TRADE 

nerve," he declared. " What do you feed it on ? I 
want the recipe. What do you think I 'm doing 
here ? " he burst out more angrily. " Think I 'm 
running a crippled children's home ? " 

"No; it's plain business," said Burt, quietly, 
smiling again. " If I 'm forced to settle at the cor- 
ner price it will simply break me, and you '11 get 
only half what 's coming to you. If you give me 
time I can pay out. I can make money." 

" The hell you can ! " said Mr. Salt, with fine 
sarcasm. " How ? By toddling into the first corner 
you find laying around loose ? " 

" No. What money I have, I 've made. I can 
make more. What good will it do you to break 
me r 

" I 'm going to do it for the good it will do you. 
Every young man who tries speculation ought to be 
broke a couple of times. It teaches him to respect 
other people's opinions a little." 

" Well, I 've had the lesson now," said Burt. 

" Who are your customers ? How 'd you come to 
be short two thousand shares ? " the president de- 
manded. 

Burt considered briefly. " My customers are 
Eddie Martin, Judge Martin's son, and his cousin." 

" Oh ! They knew what the decision was going 
to be, then ! " 

" Very likely." 

" And you knew it, too ! " Salt's hard eye was 
upon him. Burt said nothing, simply waiting. 

206 




rMowff.s roc 



*' ' / like your nerve . . . What do sou feed it on?'' '' 



THE SALT CROWD S TRADE 

"Yes, you knew it! " the president declared. "And 
— say, you have got the nerve ! You would n't 
give me the tip ; but you 'd come around here and 
ask me to help you out of the hole." 

"Judge Martin is my friend. His family and 
mine are on intimate terms," said the broker, simply. 

" Why don't you go to your friend to help you, 
then ? " Salt suggested. 

" Of course I should n't do that, even if he had 
the ability. I 'd look nice telling him his son went 
short of the stock with foreknowledge of the decision, 
and that I was the broker who made the trade for 
him." 

" I see. Would n't like to hurt his feelings." 
Salt passed his hand over his stubbled chin and con- 
sidered. His manner was not reassuring. " Natu- 
rally I 'm not so careful of the feelings of a man 
who says I ought to be indicted," he went on with 
an ominous softness. " It would work out all right 
if you went broke. Then, of course, it would all 
come out in the bankruptcy proceedings that Judge 
Martin's son went short two thousand shares of 
C. I. just before Judge Martin delivered an important 
decision against the company — and Judge Martin 
could explain that to the newspapers any way he 
liked. Would n't that be a rather pretty situation.?" 

" No, it would n't be a pretty situation at all." 
The broker spoke quietly, gravely, his heavy-lidded 
eyes steadily on the other's face. " You know, Mr. 
Salt, and I know, that there are people in the world 

207 



THE SALT CROWD'S TRADE 

who never get into the game at all, — this money- 
making game, I mean. They have no idea vv^hat it 
is. With you in your bigger way, and with me in 
my smaller way, it *s a good deal of a muddy sort of 
scramble. We care enough for the game not to 
mind the mud. But the clean, fresh people — you 
would n't get along without them any more than I 
would. They 're mostly women, those people \ but 
now and then there 's a man, too. Judge Martin is 
as sincere a man as ever lived, and his daughter and 
my wife are friends." 

Salt folded his hands over his paunch, holding 
himself by a big, hairy wrist, and looked at the 
younger man with a calm scrutiny. " It would be 
a crime," he said gently, " to break a young man 
with your nerve. You come up here without an 
invitation to ask me to pull you out of the hole 
you 've got into by selling my stock short, and you 
tell me you knew the decision was coming against 
me, and then you tell me that I 'm a muddy person. 
You seem to agree with Judge Martin that I ought 
to be indicted." 

" Then you '11 lend me the stock," said Burt, 
coolly. 

"Lend you the stock? What good will that 
do ? " 

" Oh, I suppose it will go down again after the 
shorts settle," said Burt, easily. 

" You do, do you ? And you 're the man who 's 
going to make me some money in the stock busi- 

208 



THE SALT CROWD'S TRADE 

ness ! That stock will go up to 200, Mr. Broker. 
Why, you sucker, do you suppose this decision is 
going to hurt it ? That was my suit. Bynum was 
my man. I had the suit started because I wanted 
these questions settled. Do you think I 've been 
sitting around here asleep all the time ? We '11 
simply reorganize in New Jersey. The papers are 
all ready now. If I lent you the stock at 160 you 'd 
be worse ofF than ever in ten days." 

" Well, sell it to me then and take my notes for 
part." 

" As one muddy friend to another, eh ? " 

" As a large man to a small one." 

Salt studied him a moment. "We'll put it as a 
weak old man to a youngster with a cast-iron nerve. 
I would n't break you for a million dollars. I want 
to see what that nerve of yours will do. I '11 tell 
my brokers to settle with you at 125." 

" That 's very good of you, Mr. Salt," said the 
broker, quietly, rising. " I will not forget it." 

Salt had already turned to his desk, and the caller 
turned to the door. 

" Burt ! " the president called with harsh abrupt- 
ness. The broker turned back to find the old man's 
eye hard upon him. " I 've told you something — 
about what I 'm going to do with the company. 
Nobody else knows it outside the office." 

The broker flushed slightly ; he bent a little for- 
ward ; his chin up. " I did n't give away Judge 
Martin's decision to you," he said. 
14 209 



THE SALT CROWD'S TRADE 

" All right," said Salt, briefly, and satisfied. " Of 
course I wanted it understood that it was con- 
fidential." He turned his eyes to the work before 
him. " Before I tie up with a man," he added, as 
though he were addressing the papers before him, " I 
want to know about how muddy he 's likely to be." 

Westlake was waiting in the office below. "Set- 
tling at 125 cuts deep just now," said Burt, after 
explaining that they were released from the corner ; 
" but we '11 get some of Salt's trade." 

He was cheerful to the point of gayety on the 
wide white porch that fine evening. 

" Have the kinks come out of your business, 
then ? " his wife asked, smiling. He had told her 
nothing ; but she had easily guessed a trouble at the 
office. 

" All the kinks are out ! " he replied. He took 
her hand, — beautifully shaped, white, velvet to the 
touch. A dumb reverence for its soft pov/er 
stirred his heart. He spread her fingers and kissed 
the pink palm. 



210 



VII 



THE END OF THE DEAL 



VII 

THE END OF THE DEAL 



THE day's trade was done. Along La 
Salle Street, from the Board of Trade 
to the Stock Exchange, brokers' offices 
were empty of customers. The big 
blackboards where quotations had been set down 
were wiped clean, ready for to-morrow's yards of 
figures. The ticker was still ; the telegraphers' 
desks deserted. Brokers were getting into their 
overcoats and going home or to a club. The great 
banks displayed the sign " Closed." Tellers counted 
up the greenbacks in neatly corded stacks, the gold 
in pretty pillars of double-eagles. Bookkeepers 
lighted their pipes and paused a moment for socia- 
bility. Armful after armful of letters accumulated 
in the gaping bags, prepared for the post-office. 
Janitors were sweeping up the litter. The day's 
trade with its shift of fortunes was done. An army 
of underlings cast the accounts and cleared the 
board, ready for to-morrow's play. 

213 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

The wide corridor which runs from end to end of 
the Board of Trade on the ground-floor was nearly 
empty. Brokers' offices flank the corridor on either 
side, divided from it by glass windows. A window 
toward the lower end bears the sign, " Lester Wells, 
Commissions, Grain, Provisions, Stocks, Bonds.'* 
The office is the usual affair, with its blackboards, 
tickers, bulletin boards where telegrams are posted, 
chairs, cuspidors. A space is divided off by a par- 
tition of stained pine and glass behind which the 
bookkeepers and telegraphers work. In the corner 
there is a little den whose door has the sign " Pri- 
vate." This is Wells's room. 

Coming out of the den and striding to the corri- 
dor, Robert Harper brushed by three men standing 
close together at the door, talking confidentially. 

He heard one of them saying : " The house is 
way long of wheat. Old man Wells is loaded to 
the guards with it." 

"•Well, what if he is ? Ain't Bowles on the same 
side ? " said another. 

Harper brushed by. He was vaguely aware that 
their eyes followed him. He even fancied them 
saying, " That 's young Harper, Bowles's nephew, 
who got dropped on account of that shady business 
of mixing wheat." 

This fancy troubled him only a little, because the 
other trouble was so much bigger and nearer. His 
interview with Wells had failed. He had gone to 
the business place on a forlorn hope of reorganiz- 

214 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

ing his position with Laura. It had been more 
Laura's hope than his own ; yet now that it had 
failed he was oppressed and disappointed. 

His uncle, Jonathan Edwards Bowles, of the 
Bowles Milling Company, had been his patron, too ; 
had put him through college and then taken him 
into the huge organization of his business. He 
had been made manager of the Bowles elevators. 
The young man knew well enough that Wells 
liked him little ; but so long as Laura liked him so 
much he could be patient under the father's grumpy 
hostility. Then the business of mixing wheat hap- 
pened. They had always been mixing the wheat 
so far as Robert knew. He went on cheerfully 
doing the things that had been done without a 
thought of certain dusty rules which forbade it. 
Of a sudden there was a scandal. The abuse had 
overgrown under long tolerance. A reform was 
due. The Board of Trade ordered an investiga- 
tion. Bowles chose to make a statement to the 
press alleging his innocence. If anybody was 
mixing wheat in his elevators, he said, it was with- 
out his knowledge. He was rather shocked to find 
such a charge brought against his house. Harper 
read the statement half an hour after he received 
the summons from the Board to appear and testify 
at the investigation. It was clear enough. Ob- 
viously he was expected to shoulder the blame. 
Perhaps, technically, he was alone to blame, for 
there had been no specific instructions to him from 

215 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

his uncle. He had merely gone on doing what 
had been done. But his youth and pride arose in 
revolt. He sent his resignation to the Bowles 
Milling Company, ignored the summons, and was 
expelled from the Board. Then Wells's hostility 
dropped the veil. The broker forbade him the 
house. This puzzled Harper, for he knew perfectly 
well that every one in the grain trade understood 
his essential innocence. It was, of course, only a 
pretext seized by Wells to vent a hostility based 
upon recondite grounds. 

Meantime the young man knew that his uncle 
was not ill-disposed toward him. It was merely 
a point of discipline with the miller, whose vast 
business organization had Its independent life and 
polity like a state, requiring, above all, loyalty and 
obedience to the needs of the concern. He sus- 
pected that if he should make his apology and sub- 
mission, take a new oath of fealty, he would be 
reinstated. 

But he never had less wish to be taken back. 
His eye ran up the cliff-like granite wall of the 
Board, took in the towering nests of offices which 
gave the neighborhood its gigantic effect, and he 
calmly repudiated the whole greedy scheme. He 
turned toward Wabash Avenue, headed for the office 
of the young and struggling automobile company 
where he was trying to make himself a foundation. 
That was good, anyway. Laura came back to him. 
The disappointment mellowed. The young people 

216 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

still had their openly clandestine meetings by the 
sympathetic connivance of all their women friends. 
They had their complete assurance of each other, 
their perfect faith in the future. They could wait 
a little while for the cloud of parental opposition to 
pass; for the perfected automobile to roll up and 
wheel them triumphantly away to that sunny future 
which was already the present of their dreams. 

II 

An effect of this triumphal youth and love remained 
with Wells in his den after Harper went out. 

The broker sat by his desk, staring at the door 
through which the unwelcome caller had disap- 
peared, — a tall, bony, round-shouldered, grizzled 
man of sixty. He wore a rusty and torn alpaca 
office jacket. A black skull-cap was pushed back 
on his long, narrow, bald head. The shirt-collar, 
a size too large, stood away from his leathery neck, 
displaying the prominent Adam's apple. There 
was a patch of gray whisker in front of each ear. 
His face was deeply wrinkled. His large dark 
eyes fixed themselves upon the empty doorway with 
a glance of singular power. 

Oddly, something about the young man's broad 
shoulders had suggested the presence of the girl, 
giving Wells a subtle feeling of his daughter cling- 
ing about the obnoxious young man like a rich 
atmosphere, her love for him pleading with his 

217 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

tongue. The sense of a great loss oppressed the 
old man's heart. He felt a helplessness against 
this victorious youth and love vi^hich would pres- 
ently thrust him aside like a troublesome super- 
numerary, leaving him old, lonely, empty. 

At one point in the interview Wells put his 
finger on that sore spot of the wheat mixing. 
Robert, pained and embarrassed as he always was 
when that business came up, feeling that it touched 
his reputation, eager to exculpate himself so far as 
he could, had declared that his uncle held no grudge 
against him. Zealous to prove it, he had taken 
from his pocketbook and handed to Wells a little 
slip of yellow paper, of the sort used for memo- 
randa, neither dated nor addressed, but bearing the 
loosely scrawled words : " if you need money come 
to me. I will let you have what you want." 
By way of signature were the scrawled initials, 
"J. E. B." 

Now, glancing at his desk. Wells was surprised 
to see this yellow slip lying before him. Both men 
had forgotten it in what had followed. He took it 
up, mechanically, in his surprise, and stared down 
again at the scrawled characters. His impassioned 
old mind, moving in its deeply worn ruts, turned 
from the young lover and centred upon this slip of 
paper, — upon the magic of those scarcely legible 
initials. 

Jonathan Edwards Bowles. When Wells was a 
youth and helped 'tend his father's "general store" 

218 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

in the New Jersey village, another youth had come 
to them, the son of a widow, the poorest of the 
country poor. Wells, senior, had taken him half 
from charity, giving him board and a little wage. 
He did the rougher jobs about the store, mowed and 
raked the yard, — a chubby, barefoot lad with a 
round, red-apple face. His name was Johnny 
Bowles. He was frankly considered slow-witted, 
but he had the most irrepressible good-nature, an 
untiring will to oblige. He ran to do everything 
with his moony, beaming, red-apple face. Johnny 
soon got to do more in the store and less in the 
stable. The country women liked to buy of him 
on account of his tireless good-nature. Wells, 
senior, was the substantial man of the village, 
worth, it was said, ;^20,ooo. Young Wells was 
the village beau, the youth of position and prospects. 
When he and some others of the more elect made 
game of Johnny, young Bowles took it with his 
irrepressible good-humor. They knew Johnny was 
stupid partly because he was so everlastingly good- 
natured. When he started West, they told him 
the Indians would boil him for his fat. When 
Wells himself first visited Chicago, then only a 
big country town, he found that Johnny had escaped 
the Indians and was making a living shovelling 
grain out of freight cars. 

Johnny Bowles. Even to Wells, for all his 
familiarity with the facts, some effort was neces- 
sary, some exertion of the imagination to make 

219 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

it seem real that once upon a time the syllable 
Bowles, that word of power, was no more than 
the name of a ragged youth. It was like trying 
to grasp the idea that once the word Napoleon was 
only the designation of an obscure cadet, signifying 
no more than James or Thomas. For now Bowles 
was a magic word. Under its command legions of 
gold marched out. Its mere form and sound were 
so charged with power that men's minds changed 
at the simple sight or hearing of it. A whole 
world-wide trade acknowledged its spell. 

Johnny had saved his wage and been shrewd. 
His first profit was a Jonah's gourd. His silver 
dollars were seeds of the giant's beanstalk, produc- 
ing huge growths over night. He planted in the 
soil of the new western empire. His fortune shot 
up with an incredible rapidity, towering, spreading, 
finding new roots, becoming colossal with the huge 
growth of the empire itself. Grain was the line. 
As the new soil suddenly sprouted and produced 
harvests, Bowles's mills spread to receive them. 
He had warehouses and mills at Chicago, Minne- 
apolis, Kansas City. An immense industry cease- 
lessly plying with Its thousand wheels and ten 
thousand hands owned him its master. 

Wells had finally come to Chicago, after the 
long delay in settling up his father's estate, and 
embarked as a broker. For thirty years he had 
sat in Bowles's growing shadow, and the shade 
had turned him sick. At first Bowles's success 

220 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

had been his inspiration. If the slow-witted 
Johnny was such an alchemist, how much more 
could he do ? He set out with a hot, impatient 
will to overtake the apple-faced boy. He had his 
successes. Half a dozen times the magic had 
worked for him. He had laid his eager hands 
upon a great possession. Like a man with a 
handicap, he had found himself finally coming into 
the stretch with his competitor. But he had had 
as many failures as successes. Each time the 
magic had given out ; the possessions had suddenly 
slipped like water through his fingers ; he had been 
hurled back, stripped, scarcely able to conceal his 
nakedness from the public view. And Bowles all 
the time had been going on in his colossal success. 
This success was too overwhelming, too persistent. 
Bowles at length acquired a power and prestige 
which steadily commanded success as though he 
had learned the secret of it. Wells's bitter soul 
accused the gods. An inappeasable rage grew in 
his mind. In Chicago the relations between the 
two men had never been cordial. Even at first 
Wells remembered the ragged, apple-faced boy a 
little too obviously. Bowles had his gift of humor. 
Some of his humor was carried back to Wells. 
Now they never spoke. 

Robert Harper was Bowles's nephew and had been 
his protege. Wells could not forgive him that. 
The blossoming of the ragged Bowles into the ac- 
cepted young dandy hurt his soul. When Harper 

221 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

entered his house palpably in quest of his daughter, it 
was as though he had come invested with the Bowles 
mantle of arrogant success. It was part of the in- 
veterate and intolerable Bowles luck that this fellow 
should come after Laura, as though the miller meant 
to carry his triumph even to what was dearest to 
Wells. The broker's helpless anger chafed against 
it in secret. Then came the rupture between uncle 
and nephew. Young Harper left the Bowles fold. 
This only increased the broker's wrath, as though he 
were asked to take Bowles's old clothes ; as though 
a man not good enough for the Bowleses were still 
good enough for the Wellses. The broker saw the 
miller sending a beggar for his daughter and triumph- 
ing over him anew. The rupture with Bowles gave 
him a tangible ground, for it reduced Harper, money- 
wise, to a shred, a tatter. No, he should n't get the 
girl ! 

Wells looked again at the slip of yellow paper. 
Without knowing why, he put it in his pocketbook, 
— an act proceeding from an inexplicable motive, 
a sort of vague voodooism, as though with that slip 
of paper in his possession he had a bit of Bowles 
within his power. 

For a moment he had a strange sense of that slip 
of paper in the leather case in his inner vest-pocket, 
as though it possessed a living element. His deep, 
settled rage against the miller burned strongly up. 

He had need of all his rage just now. Long ago 
he had given up the slow processes of commerce. 

222 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

One could never overtake a Bowles that way. Just 
now, pulling himself up from the last bitter defeat, 
he was engaged in one of those speculations which 
were forever involving him — an enterprise to seize 
a fortune over night by shrewdness and daring. The 
passion held out. He came back to the play after 
each defeat fiercer than ever. 

He turned to the affairs on his desk, the rage to 
win smouldering in his heart. 

Ill 

Turning to his desk. Wells took up the details of 
business methodically, with experienced competence. 
A hand was laid on the door to the dingy den. 
The office manager slipped in, silently handed a 
telegram to his chief, paused a moment for instruc- 
tions, and slipped out. The broker looked down at 
the despatch, every faculty in a sudden, cruel arrest. 
As though a sponge had passed over his brain every- 
thing that had gone before was wiped out — Harper, 
Laura, Bowles himself — although the message 
contained Bowles's name. It was from Wells's con- 
fidential agent at Kansas City. It read : 

Learn from good sources that Bowles is going to ship his 
wheat to Chicago. He is already engaging cars. You 
can absolutely depend upon this. 

It was not Bowles the man, the former barefoot, 
apple-faced boy that stood before Wells's mind just 

223 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

then. It was Bowles, the power, the abstraction, 
the factor in the wheat market. 

In playing for a rise. Wells had gone too far. 
The rage to win had led him beyond his depth. 
The rise must come at once or he would be defeated, 
ruined, hurled back more naked than ever. He knew 
that Bowles held a great accumulation of wheat in 
the Southwest. He had calculated that the miller 
must keep a certain part of this wheat to supply his 
mills. He had information that all the rest was en- 
gaged for export. Thus Bowles's wheat would dis- 
appear. The bears would be forced to buy back 
their options from Wells at his price. So he had 
calculated. With this message before him he saw 
that Bowles intended to bring on the Kansas City 
wheat, break the market with it, and, when prices 
had gone to smash, pick up the wheat again at his 
leisure. In short, the stake which he had thrown 
upon the table was now big enough to tempt the 
miller. The screen fell, and instead of the crowd of 
petty speculators whom Wells had thought to catch 
in his trap, there was disclosed the giant figure of 
Bowles, bland, invincible, with millions of un- 
touched resources behind him, looking down at the 
exhausted broker with an amused smile, calmly 
reaching over his shoulder and picking up the stake. 
It was like a skirmish line suddenly uncovering an 
army in position. It meant instant reinforcements 
or unconditional surrender. And where could Wells 
find reinforcements ? His own resources were al- 

224. 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

ready exhausted in margining the wheat he had 
bought. It would require three, four, five hundred 
thousand dollars at once to margin the wheat he must 
now buy from Bowles. Where could he get such 
a sum ? The last defeat had not only swept away 
most of his fortune ; it had hurt his credit, impaired 
his reputation for success. His prestige was weak- 
ened like that of a general who loses once too often. 
Men were no longer ready to back his skill and judg- 
ment. The old broker perceived his position with 
absolute clearness. It came fully back to him that 
he was broken, beaten, definitely overthrown, irre- 
trievably ruined. He had passed through his Water- 
loo. There was nothing but blank desolation ahead. 
This perception came to his mind with stunning 
force. He no longer thought of Bowles as a man. 
He was only an obstruction, a fact, like sun, rain, 
frost. There was no rancor in his mind then. 
He simply stared out at that waste, that endless 
desolation. 

The short winter day was passing. It was already 
dark in the little den, so that the broker had to 
fumble for his coat, overcoat, and hat. He left the 
office without speaking and walked slowly along the 
broad flagging, a lean, stooped old figure, more 
stooped than ever, huddled in his overcoat. The 
high granite wall of the Board of Trade loomed clifF- 
like above him. Ahead, beyond the bank, the vast 
flanks of the sky-scrapers arose, the serried windows, 
aglow with electric lights rank on rank, high up into 
15 225 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

the dark, giving an effect of multiplied and ceaseless 
human activity. The streets were full of people 
going home. Wells's blank eyes mechanically took 
in this familiar scene, which now seemed strangely 
alien to him, as though he had died and passed be- 
yond the use of those things. As he glanced at the 
low, strong wall of the bank, it came back to him 
in an odd way how he had opened his first bank 
account in Chicago, depositing $5000, and how im- 
portant the fact had seemed. He found a cab, gave 
the direction, and dropped back in a corner of the 
vehicle. As they rolled through the streets, aglow 
with lights and thronged with people, he kept look- 
ing out mechanically. There was a kind of infinite 
weariness in his eyes, as though they were tired with 
having seen too much. This brave show of life, — 
the thronged, lighted streets with their oflices and 
shops, — how futile, how foolish it all seemed ! It 
would be good to shut one's eyes. Only a dull 
habit of living persisted mechanically. The old man 
lying back in his corner of the cab still stared out at 
the streets. 

IV 

When the cab stopped before his house. Wells 
climbed out, handed up a bill, and turned away with- 
out waiting for the change. He scarcely heard the 
cabman's respectful acknowledgment. 

The house faced Illinois Boulevard. It had been 
built before the last defeat, when the broker felt 

226 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

himself far along on the slippery highway to fortune, 
with firm footing under him. Moreover Laura was 
just coming home from school. Bowles's splendid 
new mansion on the Lake Shore Drive had been in 
Wells's mind. It was a fine house. The architect 
had done his best by it. Now Wells and his wife 
lived in a little space on the second floor, and Laura 
did what she could with the costly emptiness down- 
stairs. 

Only the father, mother, and daughter sat down 
to dinner, — a simple meal, which, however, the 
butler served with due care because Laura was there. 
If she had been away, the man would have left the 
old couple mostly to themselves and the dinner 
would have been as plain as a clerk's. 

Wells ate mechanically, in silence, his large, dark 
eyes downcast, replying in monosyllables, absently, 
to his wife's few questions. 

Laura, too, ate in silence. In color the daughter 
was between the father and the mother. Her brown 
hair had glints of red, of which there was a reflec- 
tion in her brown eyes. She had heard from Robert 
of the failure of his attempt with her father. She 
and her mother had had their talk. She had pre- 
pared herself to make her submission. She called 
up her power of love, fixing it upon this harsh old 
man, loving him in spite of himself because he 
belonged in the lovely world which contained 
Robert. She waited purposely until he was in the 
dining-room. Then she came, in her bright, slender 

227 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

grace, her head slightly tilted back, her fair chin 
thrust out, a faint smile parting her lips, the great 
fact of the day in her mind, ready to make her sub- 
mission, to love him in spite of himself. 

Wells had already taken his seat at the table, 
oblivious alike to wife and daughter. He did 
not even look up. He was scarcely aware of 
the girl's entrance. Mother and daughter exchanged 
glances, conveying a world of meaning, — Laura re- 
buffed, wounded, indignant ; the mother silently 
pleading for the man. Mrs. Wells's broad, flat face 
still had a certain faded fairness. Her light yellow 
hair had grown very thin and was thickly lined with 
gray. Of heavy, ample figure, wholesome, motherly, 
one felt her still the farmer's daughter. Her atten- 
tion hung upon her husband with a fond, constant 
solicitude. She silently pleaded for him with their 
daughter. 

Laura kept her eyes to her plate, pretending to 
eat. Once or twice, as Wells gave an absent, inept 
monosyllable in reply to his wife, Laura looked over 
at her mother, and again that world of meaning, the 
whole drama of the household, silently passed 
between them. The girl's eyes said : " Why does 
he treat us so ? He cares nothing for us. He for- 
gets our existence. My happiness, my love for 
Robert, my love for him — he does n't even know 
of it ! Why does he treat us so ? " The mother 
silently pleaded for him, her anxious heart aroused 
to keep the daughter's love for the father, — that 

228 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

mother's legacy which she had seen in so much 
danger of late and had worked to preserve. 

Laura felt the appeal. She felt her own power to 
love. 

" Have you had a good day, father ? " she asked 
presently. Her eyes shone on the silent man, the 
faint smile parted her lips. 

" 1 don't know," Wells muttered mechanically, 
aware from the surface of a sound in his ears. 

Laura dropped her fork. Her lips trembled. 
She looked at her mother with indignation, ready to 
leave the table. 

In a moment it came to Wells, through the 
abstraction, that Laura had been speaking, and 
instantly a recollection of Harper's visit flashed upon 
his mind. Startled, in a whirl of confused emotion, 
he looked up at his daughter. She accused him. 
She was going to push him aside. He was old, 
alone, beaten, ruined. For a moment he felt her 
bright grace shining into his murky world. But he 
had someway played wrong here, too. He looked 
down at his plate. 

Finishing the meal in silence, he went upstairs to 
the room they called his study, — a companion place 
to the den at his office. It was a mechanical fol- 
lowing of habit. He did not know why he had 
come there or what he was to do. He got a cigar 
without turning on the light, drew his chair to the 
window and sat in the dark, staring out at the 
boulevard. 

229 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

It seemed impossible to go to bed and leave the 
utter ruin impending. Yet he could do nothing. 
There was a dull, painful confusion in his mind, and 
he found himself thinking mechanically of incon- 
sequential things in his helplessness and loneliness. 

The hours went by. Mrs. Wells sat in her room, 
the evening newspaper in her lap, but unable to read. 
Twice she had stolen downstairs and gone noise- 
lessly from room to room merely from the necessity 
of some kind of action. Twice she had gone up to 
the closed dark door of her husband's room, turning 
away each time, reluctant to enter. Her prescience 
had guessed a calamity which grew more and more 
menacing to her mind as the time passed. She had 
been to Laura's room, too, but had not entered, 
unwilling to alarm the girl. 

At last, with the courage of her anxiety, she went 
to the study and opened the door. 

" You here, Lester ? " she called softly into the 
dark as she entered. 

" Yes," a dull voice answered from the window. 

At the sound of that dull voice the elderly woman's 
attitude suddenly changed. Her heart throbbed up 
with an odd pain and power. It was as though, 
long ago, one of her children had called to her, ail- 
ing, in the night. The hesitation disappeared. She 
crossed the room at once. 

" It 's late," she suggested. 

Wells lay humped and sprawled in the easy-chair 
before the window, his long arms dangling inert 

230 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

over the arms of the chair, staring out at the 
night. 

Mrs. Wells pushed a chair close beside her hus- 
band's and sat down. Her motherly hand, bold in 
solicitude, touched his brow, his cheek. 

"You ain't feeling very well, are you, Lester?" 
she asked in the voice she would have used beside the 
bed of a sick child, — cheery, but full of love. The 
old broker's stricken heart quaked for its sympathy. 

" No," he answered dully. 

She lifted his feverish hand and held it between 
her cool palms. 

" What 's the matter, dear ? " she entreated. 

The broker, his hand inert in hers, looked slowly 
around at her. The rays of an electric lamp in the 
street dimly revealed her face, loving, full of sym- 
pathy. To Wells it was still the face of Susan 
Mills. He was scarcely aware that thirty years had 
changed it. In his habitual preoccupation he was 
still always aware of the atmosphere of her affection 
about him, even when he gave least sign of it. 

" I 'm broke, mother," he said simply. 

There was no need of more. She had known in- 
definitely of defeats, of fluctuations, of ups and 
downs. Hovering over the life of this dumb, ab- 
sorbed man, she had caught the effect of that in- 
cessant battle uptown. She knew at once what 
this simple declaration meant. It was the final de- 
feat in the long fight. She understood the depths 
of his misery. Her hands tightened over him. 

231 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

" Mother " and " father " were the deepest words 
of their affection, knit into their lives long ago, in 
more articulate, less absorbed days, when the little 
boy had died, and later when the daughter came and 
was the big fact to both of them. 

She waited a moment, clasping his hand in a 
silent outflow of sympathy. 

" It 's too bad, father," she said, when the silent, 
caressing moment had passed. " It 's too bad for 
you. I know how you feel it. But it ain't every- 
thing. We were happy before you got rich. We 
can be happy again. You know, when little Lester 
was taken away, it seemed that we could n't ever 
care about anything less that happened to us. 
This ain't anything like that, dear." 

A strange resurrection of the past took place in 
the broker's heart. It came up all the stronger be- 
cause his long abstraction had left it untouched. In 
his woe he again felt himself simple, a man of affec- 
tion, surrounded by love. The death of his boy 
oddly blent itself with this new misfortune, subtly 
ennobling it, lifting it to pure tragedy. His bound 
heart loosened. His hard old will softened under 
the resurrection of affection. 

" I Ve been in pretty hard luck lately, mother. I 
guess I 've lost the knack. Things have gone 
against me." His voice sounded weak, almost 
querulous. 

" But it ain't everything, father," she insisted 

gently. 

232 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

" I could stand it well enough myself," he went 
on, " but I hate to have it come now. You 're 
gettin' on in years, mother; and Laura — " His 
voice choked, and the old man stopped, stubbornly 
struggling with his emotion. 

" Laura 's young, father, and the young don't al- 
ways understand," the mother said eagerly ; " but 
she knows how much you think of her. She 'd be 
the last one that would n't take anything like this in 
the right way. You '11 see that she does take it 
right. I know she will. For us, father, it just 
gives us a chance to help you more. Don't you 
fear about Laura." 

" I meant to do mighty well by my girl," said the 
man, with pathetic simplicity. He felt the ruin of 
that dream also in his failure. The wife saw that 
tears were dripping from his eyes, and the tears re- 
stored him close to her heart, brought the old man 
home to her breast. Her own eyes were wet from 
sympathy. They were lovers again. 

" Never you mind, Lester," she said. " We '11 
get together what there is left. Maybe we '11 be 
better ofF." 

" There won't be much left, Susie. It 's about 
all gone," said Wells. In his softened and loosened 
mood he began telling her about his money affairs, 
just as they used to talk those affairs over long ago, 
before his operations became too big and compli- 
cated, before he became immersed in his passion. 
He talked on and on, seeming to find a sad consola- 

233 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

tion in putting it all before her. The talk rambled, 
touched on things far back in their lives. They 
were lovers again, sitting by the window in the dark 
room, holding each other's hands, sometimes weep- 
ing silently — as much over the precious resurrection 
of the past as over the present calamity. 

Theirs had been a long engagement. For some 
years Wells held the plan of coming to Chicago. 
Settling up his father's estate and realizing on the 
property involved a delay. Again, after he came to 
Chicago, some years elapsed before he had got himself 
satisfactorily under way, before he had made a firm 
enough foundation. He was thirty when he returned 
to New Jersey, rich, according to the simple hamlet 
standards, to marry Susan Mills. This long fidelity, 
this coming back in his success to claim her, had 
always lain in the woman's heart as a romance. 
She cherished it with a touch of poetry. It seemed 
something fine and knightly to her. The tradition 
helped to keep her love fresh and strong during 
these later years of abstraction. 

" I meant to do mighty well by my girl," he said 
again, when they came back to that. 

" Laura knows that ; she knows," said the mother, 
quickly. • " Of course — you can't help a girl's fall- 
ing in love." She made the suggestion gently, with 
a touch of anxiety. 

It brought Harper to the old man's mind. "But 
maybe I ain't done as well by her as I ought," he 
confessed humbly. In this soft mood there was a 

234 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

sudden immense yearning to have his girl close by 
his heart. " If Harper can take care of her, I won't 
stand in the way any more — if it '*s what she wants," 
he said. " You tell her, mother, that if Harper can 
take care of her I won't say any more. Tell her 
that from me, mother." 

" She '11 be very happy. She 's good, Lester," 
the mother murmured. 

Wells arose as she got up. With a certain awk- 
wardness he put his arm around her ample waist and 
kissed her. It was her knight come back again. 

" Yes, I 'm going to bed in a minute ; I must 
smoke a little," he said quite cheerfully, with an odd 
conscious fondness in his voice. He accepted his 
ruin. He felt himself made simple and good again, 
cleansed and purified by this reunion. 

The woman's hand lingered on his shoulder with 
a touch of the sweetheart. She felt a joy, a good 
victory won out of this defeat. The money was 
little to the farmer's daughter. 

"Don't smoke too long, father. It's 'most 
morning," she said fondly. 

She went out, happier than she had been in a 
long time. The happiness, the rekindled love, and 
the need of love turned at once to Laura. She went 
to the daughter's room and turned on an electric 
lamp. Laura lay asleep, her long hair in a thick 
braid. In the innocence of sleep, her hair in a 
simple braid, she looked to the mother almost like a 
little schoolgirl again. 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

Laura turned, wrinkling her brows on account of 
the light, and awoke. She sat up abruptly in bed, 
staring at her mother with the confusion of a person 
suddenly aroused from deep sleep. 

Mrs. Wells sat on the edge of the bed. " Your 
father gives his consent, dear," she said. 

" Consent — ," repeated Laura, confused, un- 
able to understand this summons in the middle of 
the night. "You mean — to Robert ? " 

" As soon as Robert can take care of you. He 
thinks it 's for your happiness. He won't say any- 
thing more against it — as soon as Robert can take 
care of you. He wanted me to tell you so. He 's 
good, dear.'* 

A splendid dream dawned upon the girl. Her 
mind still scarcely comprehended, but her heart 
understood. She and Robert were to be married — 
that was what this call in the middle of the night 
meant. It seemed a kind of miracle, a sort of 
angelic visitation, which her mind could not com- 
prehend ; but her heart understood. Warm with 
the sleep in which all things are possible, she felt an 
immense love for everything. 

" He 's good, dear," she heard her mother say. 

"You tell him that I love him," said the girl. 
" Wait, I '11 go myself." She moved to arise, 
ready to go at once to her father as she was. 

The mother's instinct understood the splendid 
dream, the will to love, transforming the girl's 

heart. 

236 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

" He '11 be going to bed now, dear. You can 
tell him in the morning," she said. 

Laura accepted this, as she accepted all the rest, 
with simple, unquestioning mind. " You tell him 
that I love him," she said again, as though she 
could give her father her heart in her two hands. 

" I wanted to tell you right away — so you 'd 
know," said Mrs. Wells, softly. 

" Yes," said Laura, simply. That was part of 
the splendid dream in which every one, everything 
was lovely. 

She lay down again as her mother went out, 
looking into the dark, the warm languor of sleep 
gathering about her. It all seemed natural and 
simple because every person and everything was 
beautiful and lovely. Once she aroused with a 
sharp pang. The thought flickered in the dimness 
of her mind: "But it was only a dream!" At 
once she knew that the dream was true. She lay 
back again, smiling, and went to sleep with the 
dream rich and still in her heart. 

V 

Like an inveterate smoker. Wells felt in his nerves 
a strong craving for tobacco after the long talk with 
his wife. He lit a cigar and sat down again, mean- 
ing to smoke only a few minutes. 

He had the consciousness of a state of peace. 
He felt good, aiFectionate, simple. He was at once 

237 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

aware that the reunion with his wife which had 
clarified his heart had had a like effect upon his 
mind. The mere painful stupefaction of defeat had 
passed away. The feverish tenseness of the specula- 
tion was gone. There was a freshness and clarity 
in his thoughts as though the purification of his 
emotions, the turning back to the past, had swept 
all the febrile rubbish out of his brain. 

As he sat slowly pulling at his cigar, his cleared 
mind turned back by a kind of inevitable habit, 
without any volition on his part, to the disastrous 
campaign which was ending in Waterloo. It lay 
before him like a map. He had a purely intellectual 
pleasure in surveying and judging it. He could see 
now with the greatest clearness where he had made 
his mistake \ where the passion had run away with 
him and he had over-bought, when he should have 
been preparing himself against Bowles's coup, which 
would have been taken into a sound reasoning as 
among the contingencies to be guarded against. If 
he had turned just here ! He saw it so clearly 
now. The point where the fortune had slipped 
away from him stood out so distinctly that his 
nerves felt a shock as though, in fact, the gold were 
even then running swiftly through his fingers. But 
for this fatal over-confidence the campaign was 
good. He even felt a touch of surprise and admira- 
tion as his clear thought marshalled its strong points. 
Yes, a man should have won in it. The veteran 
speculator surveyed it like a general looking over a 

2;8 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

lost battle, recognizing the mistake which had 
brought defeat. Merely to hav^e turned aside here, 
to have held a reserve there! The temperature of 
his mind was rising. Of course it was lost now. 
In one clear glance he saw that he was not of those 
timorous adventurers who sail close to shore, seizing 
a tiny advantage and hurrying to harbor with it. 
He must win greatly or lose. Well, he had lost. 
Yet, even now, with half a million dollars or per- 
haps somewhat less, he would win in spite of Bowles. 
His mind protested against Fortune's stupid in- 
justice in letting Bowles win when in fact he was 
the better man. With half a million — 

He looked at his watch. Half-past four. The 
new day was at hand, the day of his open acknowl- 
edged defeat. It flashed upon his brain that in only 
a few hours he would be going down to his office to 
shut it up, to confess himself a bankrupt, to publish 
his ruin. The nearness of this formal acknowl- 
edgment wrenched his heart anew with the full 
anguish of defeat. The minute-hand of the watch 
seemed to be inexorably pushing him up to this 
death, — dragging him along to be devoured by 
Bowles. Bowles would swallow him up at a gulp. 
He would be a luncheon for Bowles, dropped into 
that insatiable maw as a mere bite, over which 
Bowles would smile superciliously in his everlasting 
luck. 

He got up and began pacing the floor, the fire 
slowly, steadily rising in his heart. 

239 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

Abruptly, in an irrepressible rage, in a blind 
passion of resistance, he went to the house telephone, 
called the stable and ordered the carriage brought 
around at once. He changed slippers for shoes, 
and began pacing the floor again like a caged tiger, 
his impassioned mind reaching out, scheming, con- 
triving with all its power and cunning. He slipped 
downstairs, in his impatience ; put on his overcoat 
and hat, and let himself silently out of the house. 
When the carriage came around in the dark, the 
coachman saw the humped old figure pacing up and 
down the walk. The wife was vastly remote, a 
dim speck at the confines of his mind. He did not 
even leave word for her. 

It was the most dead and dark and cold of all 
the hours. The streets lay still and empty, en- 
gulfed in night. A solitary owl car jingled dis- 
mally by, the horses' muzzles frosted with their 
breath. Here and there a lighted window showed 
wanly like a sleepy eye. A muffled policeman on 
his beat or a lone pedestrian stared at the carriage, 
driven rapidly through the bitter cold. 

As the carriage rolled on, the slow dissolution of 
the dark, the cold transformation from death to life 
began. Bare trees with stark branches and build- 
ings some distance off began to emerge in outline 
from the void blackness. The first electric car 
whirled by with the glow and energy of day. The 
world began revealing itself in form and color. The 
act proceeded more rapidly. The curtain was visibly 

240 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

rolling up. The coachman, peering between his 
wrappings, the exposed strip of his face stony and 
stinging with cold, could see the red brick and the 
white stone trimmings on the house in Prairie 
Avenue before which he drew up. 

Wells, plunging from the carriage, with no eye 
for the transformation, was vaguely surprised to find 
the day already near at hand. To him it meant 
only that he must hurry. His insistent summons 
roused the house. At length a man appeared, dull 
with sleep and angry at being called from his warm 
bed at that unconscionable hour. But he recognized 
the caller and carried his imperious word upstairs. 
Holiday, the retired wholesale grocer, a man of 
Wells's own age, was sitting up in bed, already 
awakened by the ringing, when the man knocked at 
his door. 

Wells was in the hall, where the man had turned 
on the lights, still muffled in his overcoat, his hat 
in his hand, when Holiday came down the stairs. 
The merchant had on slippers, trousers, and night- 
gown. He had thrown a gayly colored dressing- 
robe over his shoulders, and was holding it together 
at his chilly neck with one hand. His flowing, iron- 
gray side-whiskers, which usually lent so much dig- 
nity to his appearance, were now oddly rumpled and 
tousled from the pillow. His suspenders were down, 
and with the other hand he held the unsupported 
trousers over his big paunch. He came down the 
stairs, peering for Wells, consciously trying to look 
1 6 241 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

sympathetic. At this untimely summons a dozen 
calamities had rapidly presented themselves to his 
mind, — death in the family, suicide, an elopement, a 
mortal illness. Thus roused from his bed, his swift 
indefinite presentiments had been all of some domes- 
tic misfortune, some calamity of the household. At 
that hour of the night he had not thought about 
money. He put out his hand as far as he could, 
holding his trousers in place by the pressure of his 
elbow. 

" Why, Lester, what is it ? " he asked sympa- 
thetically. They had been friends for twenty-five 
years ; but Holiday had never called him Lester 
except once, ten years before, when they had got 
over-jolly together at the annual dinner of the 
Chicago Commercial League. 

Really touched by this friendliness, and at the 
same time with a vague, grim sense of humor which 
moved him to a slight smile. Wells went at the 
business at once. 

" I 'm in the hole, Marshall," he said, taking the 
other's personally intimate ground. " I 've got to 
have some money right away." 

Without pause he plunged into the details of the 
situation, which Holiday could instantly understand. 
He was long so much wheat ; so much more was 
coming on the market which he must find the money 
to margin. If he could hold up the price and carry 
his wheat thirty days, a sure profit was in sight — as 
certain as the rising of the sun. The harvest in 

242 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

Argentine had turned out poorly. She did n't have 
half a crop. Her exports in the spring would be 
only twenty per cent what they were last year. 
All the surplus winter wheat in Kansas, Nebraska, 
and Oklahoma had been marketed. There was a 
famine in India. France was short and would 
have to import heavily in the spring. If this 
Chinese business should bring on a European war, 
as everybody said it was going to, wheat would 
jump forty cents ; it would go to a dollar and 
a quarter in Chicago overnight. Look at the 
visible supply ! It was thirty-five per cent smaller 
than a year ago. Even now, six months from 
harvest, the mills at Minneapolis had hard work 
to get what grain they wanted of the right grade for 
grinding. 

The two men stood up together in the chilly 
hall. Wells muffled in his overcoat, Holiday hold- 
ing up his trousers with one hand, gathering the 
gayly colored robe about his cold neck with 
the other, his eyes on the broker's impassioned 
face, slightly frowning, as much from the mental 
effort of following Wells's rapid exposition as 
from his reluctance to follow it at all; entirely 
on his guard and aloof at first, his suspicions and 
conservatism coming out the moment money was 
mentioned. 

As Wells went on, laying out the game before 
his friend, his passion grew. The vehemence with 
which he insisted upon winning augmented his own 

243 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

faith. His exao-aeration increased his own convic- 

Do 

tion. As he spread out the game before his friend, 
his own rage for the play became hotter. His blood- 
shot eyes looked more angry. He had a veteran air. 
The atmosphere of a hundred battles of finance 
seemed to blow about him. 

This vehemence slowly infected the colder blood 
of the older man. This passion a little fired the 
more cautious brain with the lure of the game. 
Holiday's own ample fortune had been made in the 
prosaic way of trade and by an enormous advance 
in the value of a single plot of ground on State Street 
which he had bought twenty years before for a price 
which now represented merely the annual rental of 
the lot. Cautious, even timid where money was 
concerned, with little faith in himself, he had a high 
reputation for conservatism and sound judgment. 
Several times at long intervals and in an almost fur- 
tive way he had tried a tiny speculation in stocks or 
grain through Wells — the small matter of buying 
200 shares or 10,000 bushels. In these occasional 
timid little ventures he had neither lost nor won. 
But secretly he had long nursed all a timid, cautious 
man's envy for those bold operations, those big plays, 
in which an immense profit, a whole fortune was 
seized at a stroke. He was more or less in the 
atmosphere of speculation. Half his acquaintances 
speculated more or less. He had a real friendliness 
for Wells, a will to help him — if it could be done 
safely. Under the fire of the broker's passion his 

244 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

colder blood warmed; the lure of the game appealed 
to his secret desire. 

"Let 's go into the library," he said, his fat per- 
son shivering from the chill of the hall. 

In the library he lighted the gas grate, holding his 
hap-hazard draperies about him as best he could. 
Wells went on. He told more exactly of his 
position and needs. 

" I came to you," he said, " and we can go to 
Bunner and Yocum. I believe they '11 go in with 
me, too." 

The mere mention of these other names lent 
some assurance to Holiday. He was half won 
over ; but from habit he kept up his skeptical, 
questioning attitude. 

" But how does Bowles stand in the wheat mar- 
ket now ? " he asked cautiously. 

" Why, Bowles — Bowles knows what *s trumps 
in the wheat market as well as 1 do. He knows 
wheat 's going up. You '11 find him buying the 
wheat before long. He 's been picking up the 
stuff in Kansas for export this last month." 

He knew at once that disclosure of Bowles's 
opposition would be fatal. Holiday would never 
risk a penny against that magic name. He felt 
that he had his man almost won over. Success 
lay just within touch of his fingers. His terrible 
anxiety, his rage to win — not only to escape 
Bowles, but to wrest a fortune from that man's 
hands — swept him irresistibly into an act which 

245 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

was unpremeditated, yet which he had been un- 
consciously prepared for ever since he called his 
carriage. He saw it in a flash. 

" See here ! " he said, pulling open his overcoat. 
He plunged his hand inside his vest, drew out his 
pocketbook, took from it the slip of paper — a 
yellow slip, undated, unaddressed, saying : " If you 
want money come to me. I will let you have 
what you want." 

"You know how Bowles helps a man out," said 
Wells. " He 'd take my hide. But you can see 
how he stands." 

Holiday looked respectfully down at the magic 
initials "J. E. B.," fully convinced at last. 

Wells moved about the library with a constrained, 
subdued restlessness, while Holiday hurried upstairs 
to dress for the drive to Bunner's. The old 
broker's heart was hot with the stir of the fight 
which he saw before him, for which he was already 
planning. As to this preliminary skirmish of get- 
ting the necessary money, he felt that in winning 
Holiday, he had already more than half succeeded. 
With Holiday at his side Bunner would be half 
convinced at the start ; and with both Holiday and 
Bunner, Yocum would not hold back. 

It was as he calculated. They drove to Bunner's 
house, calling the rich lumberman from his bed. 
The mere presence of Holiday, the solid and con- 
servative, gave the venture a secure effect. Yocum 
was already at breakfast when the three arrived at 

246 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

his house, and his consent was won in twenty 
minutes' talk, Holiday and Bunner sitting one on 
either side o^ Wells. They left Yocum to his morn- 
ing meal and drove uptown. 

It was eight o'clock when the three men sat 
down to breakfast in a hotel. The streets were 
alive with the pulse and rush of business. Wells 
was in the best of humor. He was almost gay. 
He had ;^400,ooo as good as in his hands. It was 
merely a matter of waiting for the bank to open. 
He had won the desperate preliminary skirmish 
against almost hopeless odds, and the sense that 
he had won lifted up his will and courage. He 
appeared at his office at the usual hour, alert, 
shrewd, resourceful, as full of fight as a ferret. 

He went home to dinner that nio-ht, tired from 
the tremendous strain of the day, but in the great- 
est good-humor. He met his wife's anxious, ques- 
tioning eyes with a ready smile. She knew from 
the coachman of his early morning quest, and now, 
from his great good-humor, from his triumphant 
smile, she guessed, in the main, what had happened, 
and resigned herself to his will. 

Laura came gliding swiftly into the hall, her mind 
still in the radiant transformation of her splendid 
dream. She put her arm about her father's neck, 
her eyes shining into his with happy tenderness. 

" I think you 're good, papa," she whispered ; 
and then, instantly from the old man's blank stare, 
she perceived that he had forgotten her. 

247 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

It was only an instant before Wells remembered. 

"Oh!" he exclaimed. "Yes, — I hope you 
will be happy." He said it most awkwardly ; 
embarrassed, secretly ashamed because he had for- 
gotten. His whole stubborn repugnance to Harper 
came up in his mind. "Well, I hope you'll be 
happy," he repeated mechanically, and hastily kissed 
her brow. 

The girl turned away. In her pain at the 
moment, it seemed to her that she finally gave 
her father up. 

VI 

The Empire Automobile Company had a ground- 
floor room on Wabash Avenue, where several 
styles of horseless carriages, displayed behind the 
broad show windows, might tempt buyers. But 
the factory occupied the top story of a dingy brick 
building in that packed, smoky region of factories 
west of the river. This dismal loft was lighted 
with gas-jets even on the brightest days. 

At the rear of the long, bare room, near the 
windows through which some light fell, a mechani- 
cal contrivance lay on two wooden horses. Five 
men were gathered about it. Harper had taken ofF 
his coat and vest, collar and cuffs. The shirt- 
sleeves were rolled up on his brawny arms, and his 
hands were black with iron and oil. His feet were 
firmly planted, well apart, his chin belligerently 
squared as he looked down at the machine. Tuf- 

248 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

ford, the president of the company, stood next him, 
— a carriage manufacturer of some means, lank and 
grizzled, a bony Yankee; an enthusiast, as full of 
dreams as a boy about this automobile venture. 
He had unbuttoned his coat and vest, and he held 
his big soiled hands conspicuously away from his 
clothes, spread out like two platters. He raised the 
cleaner hand, and with that wrist absently wiped 
the dusty sweat from his brow. Barry, the fore- 
man of the factory, burly in coarse blackened 
clothes and leather apron, grimy from head to foot, 
stood by, intelligently waiting. Hurd, the secre- 
tary. Harper's friend, trig and spotless as when he 
left the office, sat on an upturned box nervously 
smoking his cigar and glancing anxiously from one 
man to another. He alone knew absolutely noth- 
ing of mechanics. Frowning, he looked down at 
the mysterious contrivance of brass and iron which 
held their fortunes. Bliss, the Inventor of the 
motor, a slight man with a beardless face, boyish- 
looking in spite of his forty years, was on his hands 
and knees in the dirt peering up at the machine. 
Beside him, their heads fairly touching, squatted 
Mercer, the expert sent by the omnibus company. 
This was the improved motor at which they had 
been working. If it proved satisfactory there would 
be a big order from the omnibus company, and the 
help of some additional capital — in short, smooth 
sailing for the automobile concern, which had been 
bobbing through troubled waters. 

249 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

Bliss turned a stop. The mechanism began to 
move slowly, smoothly. The two men on the floor 
fixed their eyes more intently on the plying rod and 
turning shaft. Tufford opened his mouth and for- 
got to close it. Harper stooped over the machine, 
breathless. Hurd fastened his teeth, dog-like, in 
the butt of his cigar. Bliss opened the stop wider. 
The motion accelerated, the rod flew, the shaft 
whirled, smoothly, steadily. A tense moment 
passed. Bliss sat back on his heels, the tumbled 
hair over his forehead. 

" There ! Do you see ? " he demanded. 

The expert squatted and squinted a moment 
longer; then stood up, stretched himself, dusted his 
hands one against the other. 

" Oh, it 's all right," he said conclusively. 

Hurd sprang up in a quiver of excitement, and 
met Harper's triumphant glance. The two stood 
together, too content for speech, grinning down at 
the swift, smooth, live machine, for which they felt 
an affection such as a man feels for his horse which 
has won the race. 

After Harper had washed his hands and arms at 
the iron sink used by the workmen, he came back, 
followed by Hurd, and stood over the machine, dry- 
ing his hands on a rough towel. He liked to look 
at the thing, — to contemplate this beautiful contriv- 
ance of brass and steel which he had helped to 
create with his brain and his hands. At college he 
had been high in football, but only so-so in the 

250 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

classes. He knew that he was Intelligent ; but he 
liked best to deal with things that were ponder- 
able, upon which he could lay his two muscular 
hands. He liked to exert the strength of his big 
body. Drying his hands, he contemplated the motor 
with a full content. It meant success. It meant 
Laura. He wished that she could have been there 
to see how beautifully it proved itself. He had an 
odd feeling that she ought to love it for the splendid 
precision and smoothness of its action, and that her 
gratitude to it would be a full compensation, in the 
great economy of things, for this creation, this birth 
of power. Looking down, he fixed the aspect of 
the machine anew in his mind with the deliberately 
joyous idea of thus conveying it to her that 
evening, so that it might receive its due of her 
appreciation. 

It meant success — and Laura. He had fairly 
won it with his hands and brain. The fixing of 
the wedding day was contingent only upon the 
success of this last test. 

Crossing the river at Van Buren Street and glanc- 
ing over at the towering nests of offices about the 
Board of Trade, he thought again how much finer 
it was for a fellow to help to make something with 
his own hands and brain. His success might not 
mean much money-wise as money was counted 
over there, but it would mean enough. He told 
himself that he was not smart enough for the big 
game — and that he was glad of it. 

251 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

As he strode along Pacific Avenue under the 
clifF-like wall of the Board of Trade, the big bell 
rolled out an iron stroke, the solemn warning slowly 
reverberating through the building. 

It lacked but five minutes of the close. Harper 
saw the sign " Lester Wells " on the broad win- 
dow and glanced in. The lean, stooped figure of 
the broker bent over a ticker beside the window. 
The office was crowded with men. There was a 
tremendous wheat market. Argentine's wheat crop 
had turned out a failure. India had ceased export- 
ing. Warmer weather had revealed ravages by- 
Hessian fly in Indiana and Ohio. France was bid- 
ding up. The newspapers said that Germany's 
reply to England meant war. The Czar was mass- 
ing troops in Manchuria. England had sent a flying 
squadron to sea with sealed orders. War meant dear 
wheat, and the price was climbing. Upstairs frantic 
brokers were bidding the sixteenths and eighths 
which flashed over the world. The strife of thou- 
sands of men and millions of money converged there ; 
and Lester Wells was the prophet and captain of 
the triumphant bulls. His fortune grew in a noon- 
day magic. 

Harper knew these things from the newspapers 
and from gossip. He glanced into the broker's 
office, and up at the clifF-like walls whence he had 
been contemptuously cast. And the joy of the 
motor was stronger within him than ever. " A 
cheerful lot of lunatics!" he thought with happy 

252 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

extravagance. What was it to him that May wheat 
was closing at 98 J ? 

He glanced over at the huge brown cube of the 
Rookery where, high up, the Bowles Milling Com- 
pany occupied an entire floor, fifty offices opening 
one into another, in one of which the miller sat at 
his desk, fat, bald, imperturbable. They told him 
that wheat had closed at 98I. The miller glanced 
up, slightly elevated his thin eyebrows, then laughed 
with the utmost good-humor. 

" That beggar Wells is making this wheat cost 
me something," he said, and laughed again, really 
amused at Wells's success, fully appreciating the 
joke of being worsted by such an antagonist. His 
smile was singularly pleasing, lighting up the heavy 
face. But in his perfect good-humor one could per- 
ceive also his perfect assurance, — the unshaken 
equanimity of the man who knows how the game 
must end, believing in his power to lay down stake 
after stake, to bring up million after million and 
crush the opponent finally under the weight of his 
inexhaustible reserves. 

VII 

It was Laura herself who answered Robert's ring 
that evening and let him into the house. She wore 
a plain muslin dress. In her absolute assurance of 
that future which was so little beyond them, she de- 
lighted her heart by anticipating its simple conditions 

253 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

in every way possible. Her costly dresses were put 
aside. When she went out of an evening in her 
simplest gov/n, she felt herself already joyously ac- 
cepting the limitations of Robert's purse. Her ardor 
drew a happy inspiration from the fact that she was 
dressed less expensively than any other woman there. 
To go uptown in the street cars was an act of faith 
from which she derived the deepest happiness. 
When Robert called she Hstened for his ring, run- 
ning to admit him herself; and meeting him at the 
door in this way was like meeting him at the veri- 
table door of their future. 

Robert stood a moment on the doorstep, not offer- 
ing to enter, broadly beaming at her. He liked to 
have his wordless joke with her in this manner, over 
the running to the door, the muslin gown, the street- 
car rides ; but he was sensible of the perfect faith 
which made her ardor full of dignity. 

He had his other precious joke, — the success of 
the motor. Their automobile was ready for them. 
The marriage might now take place in April, as they 
had planned. He began telling her about it at once. 
They went to the second and smaller parlor off the 
hall, where they sat alone like a girl and her beau, 
talking it over. 

It was an odd whim which moved Wells to walk 
in there. 

The broker had spent the evening at his office. 
He had checked over figures, made calculations, 
written letters, left instructions, all in the manner 

254 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

of the sober, self-contained reasoning man of busi- 
ness ; yet all the while amid these ordinary activities 
a great hot intoxication glowed in the centre of his 
mind. He was winning. His profits were piling up 
thousands upon thousands. Fortunes were shower- 
ing into his hands. He was winning from Bowles. 
Even the infallible miller, the acknowledged poten- 
tate, the undefeated favorite of the gods, now felt 
the touch of his power and bent beneath it. After 
his long struggle below he was now emerging high 
and far on the golden uplands. 

But there was more than this. The scarcity of 
breadstuff's at home, the foreign demand, the talk 
of war, had at last infected all Christendom with a 
panic to buy wheat. Every man felt an irresistible 
power in the market, begotten of a sudden world- 
wide impulse. Wells was no longer the harassed 
adventurer hazardously struggling to devise a rise. 
The market rose of itself in response to an over- 
powering, universal movement, and Wells simply 
floated up with the great tide. No man felt this un- 
controllable force which had come into the market 
more keenly than the veteran speculator himself. 
The converging of this irresistible, universal impulse 
beat upon his nerves, stimulating and intoxicating 
him. He walked in front, but there was the sound 
of a million feet behind him. 

This afternoon one of the office men, bending 
over the ticker and shouting out the quotations for 
the crowd, who were too impatient to wait for them 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

to be put on the blackboard, cried : " Ninety-six for 
May — now a quarter — a half — sells at ninety- 
seven ! 

The youth's voice vibrated w^ith excitement, and 
to the crowd of speculators — Wells's followers — 
these cries were like the shouts of victory in battle. 
Hardened nerves thrilled at them. Wells's face was 
impassive; but a great red glow burned in his mind. 

When he left the office in the evening, chancing 
to glance over at the white formidable square of the 
bank, — the Gibraltar of finance, — the inordinately 
drunken idea came to him that his power was as 
great as the bank's. In his mind there was the sense 
of an immense space, in which he stood solitary, 
commanding. 

Entering the hall of his house, he saw the light in 
the second room, heard his daughter's low, happy 
laughter, and felt an odd impulse to put his triumph 
on a more intimate stage ; to show himself for a 
moment in his victory. He stepped to the door, en- 
tered the room, his lean, stooped figure as ill-dressed 
as usual, his chin stubbled over with a two days' 
beard. Yet in his mien, in his dark eyes, something 
of his triumph showed, — a gleam through the hard 
crust from the great glow in his mind. He entered 
the room, and halted. 

The two young people sat near together in the 
corner. They looked up, surprised at the entrance 
of this figure amid the intimacy of their talk, in the 
atmosphere of their dream, even embarrassed for a 

256 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

moment as though some apology were expected from 
them. 

Wells saw the two bright young faces turned 
toward him in surprise, with a touch of embarrass- 
ment which predicated the intimacy of their talk and 
the atmosphere of their dream j and again he felt the 
everlasting triumph of youth and love in respect to 
which he was helpless, which would push him ofF 
the boards as a troublesome old supernumerary. 

The instant's check passed. Now Robert was 
coming forward, still a little embarrassed, but eager, 
solicitous. The men shook hands, exchanged some 
empty commonplaces ; both self-conscious. Laura 
stood beside her lover, glancing at him proudly, and 
at her father, whom her eyes at once thanked and en- 
treated. Plainly the young man was the important 
fact here. Wells understood it as he got himself 
away. For a moment he vaguely blamed the self- 
ishness of her love, vaguely felt himself lonely. 
He went upstairs to his den. His dark eyes glanced 
out at the street. The feeling of power and victory 
returned. Again there was in his mind the sense 
of an immense space in which he stood solitary, 
triumphant. 

Laura watched her father leave the room. That 
indefinable pathos with which he sometimes im- 
pressed her, and which she could not understand, 
came over her afresh. The departing figure, going 
out of the atmosphere of their dream, seemed old, 
bent, solitary. A sudden solicitude troubled her 
17 257 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

heart. She felt herself some way to blame because 
she had let him go that way. In her joy she had 
not only the will, but the need to love him more. 
Yet that was so difficult. He was so hard, so 
absent. 

" I 'm glad of this ! " Robert was saying to her. 

She understood that, and was happy with him 
over it. The father's concession seemed really im- 
portant, as though he were at last giving something 
more than a grudging consent. They returned to 
their joy. The wedding was to be on the last day 
of April. 

VIII 

The last day of April came singularly fair, a holi- 
day, a Sabbath in the serene progress of the seasons. 
Wells, glancing from his study window about noon, 
caught the wide, bright effect. His shaken mind 
dimly and fleetingly conceived a whole sweet, sound, 
serene world apart from the murky sphere in which 
he lived. For an instant his eye rested with dumb, 
hungry sympathy upon a young tree growing in the 
parked way beside the boulevard. Then he came 
to himself with a little start, found himself staring 
vacantly at a mere tree ; took up his coil of thought, 
and resumed the restless pacing. 

The serene progress of the seasons had not been 
favorable to the wheat market. Argentine and the 
Northwest seemed to have discovered bottomless 
granaries. They poured forth their cargoes of 

258 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

grain in endless processions. Spring had come, and 
everywhere there was promise of abundant harvest. 
The little threat of war had passed like a swift 
cloud. The Powers now smiled as blandly as this 
April day. And Bowles — in this crucial day of 
doubt — was marching up regiment after regiment 
of his inexhaustible reserves, steadily crushing the 
market with the slow weight of his millions. 

Wells, in his triumph, had rushed on far, too far 
— caught in the lure of game, eager to seize the 
last possible advantage. He had seen the more 
wary of his followers slip away. Some of them had 
openly joined the other side. The commercial 
writers talked of a decline in the market, adducing 
numberless reasons. His money was exhausted ; 
but even to himself he would not make the intoler- 
able admission that the deal was going to fail. He 
stood with his back to the wall, inwardly consumed 
with rage to fight it out, rage against his cowardly 
followers, rage against the stupid prophets who talked 
of defeat, most of all, rage against Bowles. 

Pacing with his shuffling gait, he began thinking 
of a stroke which might be executed in the Liver- 
pool market. Somewhere in the cellarage of his 
toiling mind there was the painful consciousness of 
a special affliction, — why was he so far from the 
office, cut ofF from that instant, telegraphic touch 
with the markets which was so important at this 
critical time ? He was trimly brushed and shaven. 
His lank figure was encased in a long black coat. 

259 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

He wore gray trousers and patent-leather shoes. 
This ceremonial garb obtruded upon the hard coil of 
his thoughts — of course it was Laura's wedding 
which they were preparing downstairs. 

He glanced at the little clock on his desk. It 
was almost noon. He wondered with a kind of 
anguish how long this interruption would last. 
Wheat might be anything by this time. He strug- 
gled painfully against the need to get to a telephone 
and find out what was going on. He heard the 
doorbell ringing, and knew that some guests were 
downstairs. Glancing out, he happened to see the 
young clergyman crossing the street with a vigorous, 
swinging step, in the bland sunshine, looking up 
smilingly at the house. He found that he disliked 
the clergyman, although he had never thought of 
him before. He was strangely loath to go down- 
stairs. He wished to wait to the last minute so that 
there would be no delay and he would not have to 
speak to anybody. 

There were only a score of guests, all intimates 
of the family or of Harper. Coming into the parlor 
with Laura, Wells recognized Holiday, who looked 
at him with a kind of gloom, and Mrs. Jamieson, 
who beamed with a moist fondness at everybody. 
The others were familiar, all standing up solemnly 
as though it were a funeral. 

The little ineffectual snatch of wedding music was 
turned off abruptly. The young clergyman began 
speaking rapidly in a clear, fresh voice. This was 

260 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

Laura standing before him. Wells was aware of 
her graceful figure in a brown travelling dress, of 
the mass of her hair. But he avoided looking at 
her. The dim black-coated figure beside her was 
Harper, of course. 

The broker looked straight ahead of him, not 
moving a muscle. The clergyman's fresh, rapid 
voice ceased. Wells looked around involuntarily. 
He saw Harper stoop and kiss the girl's lips before 
the roomful, and his heart suddenly clutched together 
as though his girl were dead. The bridegroom, 
quite pale, inwardly agitated, solemn in his joy, 
looked up from his bride's face, and encountered his 
father-in-law's eyes, — so astonished, so full of pain, 
that the young man suddenly felt ashamed and guilty. 
Laura had turned to her mother. They were em- 
bracing and shedding tears. The guests were clus- 
tering up, nervous, agitated, some of the women 
tearful. Harper, in his agitation, took a step for- 
ward and held out his hand, with that odd sense of 
guilt, dumbly begging to be forgiven. Wells took 
the extended hand mechanically, looking into the 
young man's eyes with that deep expression of suf- 
fering, without anger or resentment, only with pain- 
ful surprise as though he were asking helplessly : 
"Who are you, young man ? What are you doing 
with my girl ? " 

But Laura was turning to him, pale and agitated 
like Harper. He felt the slight trembling of her 
body as he put his hand on her waist. Her agita- 

261 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

tion seemed the visible motion of her spirit. Stoop- 
ing to kiss her, her eyes upon his, her emotion 
subtly enveloping him, even a faint perfume of her 
hair coming to his nostrils, she was suddenly re- 
vealed to him — the blown rose — the woman, no 
more the girl. 

At once he understood it all. She had grown 
up. She had come into the woman's power of 
creative love. An immense meaning passed be- 
tween the father and daughter in a look — as 
though she, conscious of her power, asked him, 
" Why would n't you let me love you more ? '' 
and as though he, astonished, stricken with a 
useless regret, replied confusedly, " I did not 
understand — no, it cannot go this way — we must 
turn back ! " 

Mrs. Jamieson stood by, tearful, waiting to kiss 
the bride. Wells looked around at his wife, whose 
eyes were full of tears. 

Every one heard the ring at the doorbell, and 
there was a little pause, a little expectant surprise. 
Was It a belated guest ? A servant appeared, 
bearing a tray on which lay a letter. The man 
looked about, smiling slightly, uncertain ; then offered 
the letter to Harper. It was directed : " Mr. and 
Mrs. Robert Harper." Harper glanced at the super- 
scription, recognized the writing, and handed the 
letter over to Laura. The guests stood about, 
excited, expectant. Laura opened the envelope. 
It contained a little slip of yellow paper on which 

262 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

was written, " With best wishes ; " and, pinned to 
the slip, was Bowles's check for ;^ 10,000. 

Instantly the spirit of the company changed. 
There were exclamations, laughter. At once the 
solemn air passed away. The tense nerves relaxed 
in jokes. The company became gay. Laura, com- 
ing back to her joy, and moreover wishing to make 
the present seem important because it came from 
Robert's relative, gave the check a little triumphant 
flourish. Robert was restored to his equanimity. 
He was secretly proud of his uncle's generosity. 
The ^10,000 in hand was exactly what they needed 
to put their money affairs in satisfactory shape. It 
redeemed their position economically. He was 
happy to have this gift for his bride at so fit a 
moment. It quite wiped out that secret, humble 
feeling of guilt. The bride and groom and all the 
company came back to the joy, the gayety, which 
the wedding finally meant. The tragic moment 
was overthrown. They were restored to the society 
air. 

Only Wells was not gay. A dreadful humilia- 
tion crushed him. It seemed to him that all these 
people, even his own wife and daughter, were com- 
paring his conduct with that of Bowles. 

He had given nothing but a niggardly consent. 
This shame was so great that for a moment he 
thought of running out and writing his check for 
a larger sum. But that would be a silly imitation. 
His shame was childlike in its poignancy. No 

263 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

school boy whose ragged coat is suddenly made 
conspicuous could feel a keener, more crushing 
humiliation. He felt a mightier rage against Bowles 
than he had ever known before, — the fat miller, 
flourishing his wealth even at Laura's wedding and 
humiliating him this way, pursuing him with his 
invincible luck even here. He perceived that he 
was left alone. The tragic air was gone. These 
people were amusing themselves over Bowles's gift, 
over Laura's departure. And in a moment the 
whole wedding became contemptible to him, an 
afliiction to be borne as patiently as possible. All 
other feeling for it died. The sting and burning of 
shame and wrath tormented his heart. He wished 
to have done with this thing and get back to his 
wheat. 

The wedding breakfast dragged itself out. Wells 
kissed Laura good-bye ; but she was excited by the 
departure, by the adieus full of expansive happiness. 
There was no meaning in the kiss. 

When the guests were gone, Mrs. Wells turned 
to her husband. 

"Well, I 'm glad they got the money," she said, 
smiling, recurring to the surprise. 

" Yes," said Wells dryly, as he got his hat. Let 
them all go. Let them all admire Bowles. He 
was going back to his wheat. 

He was aware that Holiday was waiting for him 
in the hall. 



264 



THE END OF THE DEAL 



The men left the house together. The moment 
the front door closed behind them Holiday burst 
out, — 

" What does this mean, Wells ? " 

The broker looked around in sheer surprise. He 
saw Holiday's stumpy barrel-figure, with its wings 
of side whiskers, in its ceremonial garb, topped by 
a shining silk hat, and he saw that the man was 
choking with anger. 

" That note from Bowles that you showed me — 
it was a forgery ! Bowles is against you. He 's 
got you licked. He told me so himself. You 
tricked me. I want my money ! " The old mer- 
chant's voice trembled with excitement. 

Wells instantly understood. Holiday had been 
to Bowles. Or Bowles had been to Holiday. 

The two men had halted before the door. Now 
Wells went down the steps and walked ofF with 
rapid strides, without saying a word. He could 
not speak. There was a terrible irritation in his 
brain. He knew his own guilt ; but it seemed 
monstrous, intolerable, that this thing should happen 
just now at the crisis when every little thing was so 
important. They were all shooting at him at once, 
or Bowles, — Bowles was shooting at him from 
every corner. He could have broken into impreca- 
tions. He could have cursed Bowles aloud in the 

265 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

street. Had not Bowles been delivering him in- 
ferior wheat, and had not the inspection department 
backed up the miller in thus swindling him ? It all 
whirled furiously in his brain. He felt himself 
mightily shaken. He dared not stop. He hurried 
on without a word. 

" Hold on there ! " Holiday yelled, beside himself 
at this contemptuous treatment, feeling all the mad- 
dening fears of a timid, covetous man who sees a 
fortune in peril. " I want to talk to you ! " he 
shouted. He ran along the street, puffing, hurrying, 
and trotting to keep up with the broker's rapid 
stride, quite beside himself with wrath and fear, 
wildly accusing Wells. 

" You tricked me ! Bowles says you 're an in- 
fernal old swindler, and I believe him ! " he said, 
panting. 

Wells halted abruptly. His mind grew black, 
enfolded in something ominous, sinister, beside 
which the merchant's fuming wrath was no more 
than the petulance of a peevish child. He was still 
conscious of that self-control to preserve which he 
was striving. Out of the self-control he spoke, in 
a very low voice, looking straight ahead. 

" Your money 's in the deal. You put it in there. 
You can't get it out till the deal 's over. The deal 
never wanted money more than now. May deliv- 
eries begin to-morrow. If you had any sense you 'd 
be looking for more money to put in instead of try- 
ing to draw some out." 

266 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

" What ? More money ? Not on your life ! " 
Holiday cried, exasperated beyond control by the 
impudence of the suggestion. 

Wells started off again, shutting his teeth on the 
words : " You 're a fool ! " 

Holiday followed him to the street-railway tracks 
and climbed on the trolley car with him. The car 
was full and they could not talk in there. They 
took seats on opposite sides of the vehicle. Wells 
looking at the floor. Holiday glaring over at him. 
Once Wells glanced across, and there flashed in his 
brain a vivid picture of Holiday as he had looked 
that wintry morning when he came down the stairs, 
holding up his trousers with one fat white hand, the 
other hand clutching the robe about his chilly neck, 
his whiskers all awry ; and at once the broker's mind 
was moved to an uncouth amusement. In spite of 
himself he grinned broadly, satirically. This was 
the last touch for Holiday. Speechless with indig- 
nation, he left the car. 

In his rapid walk to the office Wells considered 
again what Holiday might do. Of course he was 
a swindler; yet he wasn't. That was part of the 
fearful perversity of things. He felt himself perse- 
cuted by a universal stupidity, harked on by Bowles. 
It was so senseless, — this girding at him from all 
points at once. Luck had suddenly turned into a 
swarm of pestiferous flies which buzzed around him 
in a maddening cloud. All the flies in the swarm 
looked Uke Bowles. Good apple-faced Johnny had 

267 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

a shot ready for him at every corner, — even at his 
daughter's w^edding. There v/?ls a terrible irritation 
in his mind. But behind everything else vv^as the 
stubborn, unbreakable w^ill to fight it out. He 
stood quite alone now, his back to the w^all. Let 
them come on ! Let them come on ! He vi^ould 
fight, fight, fight, to the last ditch. 

The office w^as deserted save for half a dozen 
clerks. Wells vi^ent to his den and shut the door. 
The market had gone against him during the day. 
Wheat closed at 91. He u^as long in Chicago, in 
Minneapolis, in New York, in Liverpool. The 
decline had exhausted about all his money in mar- 
gins. Wheat would be deliverable on May con- 
tracts in the morning. How much would be 
tendered him ? Could he pay for it ? He had 
arranged to sell his house, worth ^100,000, for 
;^75,ooo. There were some other odds and ends 
of his fortune. At his desk he plunged into the 
maze of figures and chances. A touch of the old 
intoxication, the old lure of the game came back 
to him. He still felt subconsciously that terrible 
irritation, that unsupportable vexation with every- 
thing. But with his work before him he could 
bring his mind into order. He was acutely aware 
that to-morrow would probably tell the story for him. 
His position had grown quite untenable. If he 
could disseminate a well-conceived canard in the 
morning — something, say, about a big order from 
France for wheat — and then buy at Liverpool to 

268 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

give the price an upturn there, the bears might be 
stampeded into buying, and the result would be a 
market strong enough so that he could unload a 
good part of his line without ruinous loss. For it 
was now simply a question of unloading, of getting 
out. The thing was to trick the traders while he 
unloaded without their suspecting it. 

He worked on in his den, calculating, scheming, 
devising. By and by somebody vaguely annoyed 
him by rapping at the office door. Presently he 
heard a key grating in the lock. A watchman 
clumped through the office, came to the den, 
looked in. Wells glowered around at him. The 
man apologized. They saw the light; it was so 
late they thought something might be wrong. The 
broker went on with his work. 

The pencil dropped from his fingers. His weary 
eyes glanced over the half-dozen memoranda which 
represented the plan of campaign. Yes, it would 
be fought out in this way, — win or lose. He 
straightened up, his back aching. His eyes fell 
upon a sandwich, last of the three which he had 
had brought in for his dinner. He ate it greedily. 
He looked at the coffee cup. Not a drop left. 
Mechanically his hand went to his vest-pocket for 
a cigar. They were all gone. He got up with 
some difficulty, feeling old, cramped, weary, and 
went to the water-tank in the office. The water 
was lukewarm, but he drank a cupful. Glancing 
at the window, he was surprised to find that dav/n 

269 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

was at hand. He looked at his watch. Four 
o'clock. Well, it was too late to go home or to a 
hotel. He did not care much. He would as lief 
stay where he was. He went back to the den, 
tilted his chair against the desk, and lifted his legs to 
another chair. His head dropped forward. Once 
he blinked out and saw the shadowy form of the 
building opposite revealing itself in the dim, ghostly 
light. His nerves stirred faintly. It was the dawn 
of the day of the last battle. But he was too 
weary. His chin fell, and he went ofF to sleep. 

X 

Wells awoke abruptly. There was shouting and 
stamping of feet in the corridor where the janitor's 
forces were at work. It was broad daylight. His 
first impression was of the sudden burst of the new 
day. An immense fear seized him. He had an 
appalling sensation of sinking, and he gripped the 
arms of the chair, his wide eyes staring out. He 
realized at once that it was the opening of the 
crucial day. He got up lamely, with some aston- 
ishment over that awful visitation of fear. He was 
stiff and cramped. There was an odd lameness in 
his neck as though he had been hanged. He dragged 
his heavy limbs across to a restaurant. The food 
and two cups of strong coffee put him on his feet — 
but that horrible visitation of fear ! He was still 
astonished over it. 

270 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

The day came on with a rush. When the first 
telegraph operator came in, the broker called up 
New York, and arranged to disseminate that canard 
about a big purchase of wheat for export to France. 
Another operator came in, and the two instruments 
kept up a busy metallic clicking as messages passed 
to New York and Minneapolis. 

Some traders dropped in, looking at the posted 
telegrams, glancing at the newspapers, gossiping 
about the market, about politics, about horse-races, 
still full of the cheer of breakfast and with fresh- 
ened nerves for the new day. Up and down La 
Salle Street the brokers' offices were filling up, the 
brisk telegraph instruments were clicking inces- 
santly. The telephone lines were busy bringing in 
messages to buy, to sell. The clerks were at their 
places. Floor-brokers were hastily looking over 
their orders. 

The stock-tickers started to life, buzzing and 
grinding out their endless tapes. Opening quota- 
tions from Wall Street were put on the blackboards. 
The crowds stopped gossiping and watched the figures. 

May wheat opened at 9i-|. The game had 
begun. Wells, crossing the office floor with a 
telegram in his hand, heard the opening price, — a 
quarter up. 

Three traders in a group in the middle of the 
floor were discussing that big order for France. 

" You see the price," said Wells, with calm 
assurance. " They 've got to have this wheat. 

271 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

The world can't eat bear theories. It 's got to have 
wheat." 

Not one of the traders saw anything unusual in 
the old broker's manner. 

He left the office without haste and went up to 
the trading-hall. The wheat-pit was a-swarm with 
brokers whose shouts and gestures were unintel- 
ligible to the uninitiated. Wells skirted the crowd 
and saw nothing to dissatisfy him. The market 
was strong, advancing. The bears had begun to 
buy just as he wished. The trick was working. 
One of his men found him, bringing a telegram 
from Minneapolis. It said : " Market higher. 
Looks strong." This was as he had planned. He 
gave the man an order to buy in Minneapolis in 
order to help on the strength there. He found that 
only a little wheat had been delivered in May con- 
tracts. This was in his favor. The intoxication 
mounted to his brain. He was aware in every 
nerve that the crucial moment had come. But he 
kept his head clear by a kind of iron power. The 
price advanced a cent. He judged that the time 
had come, and he gave the order to sell through 
those various agencies which he had carefully pre- 
arranged. The trick was to dump his wheat on the 
market while the excitement lasted ; to slip from 
under his crushing load before the traders could find 
out what he was about. He stood at the edge of the 
wheat-pit in the swaying skirt of the crowd while 
the selling for his account began. Still the market 

272 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

was strong, excited. The buying continued in full 
force. His wheat was taken readily. He felt his 
pulses pumping and a strong lift in his nerves. 
The trick was winning. 

As he turned away, he was aware of that lame- 
ness in his neck as though he had been hanged, and 
he remembered with a dim surprise, as at somethino- 
vague, far off, that dreadful, inexplicable visitation 
of fear. 

Downstairs in the corridor he stopped to buv a 
cigar. Two of his customers came up and began 
' talking about the market. Wells was willing to 
talk, as a general jokes in the tense leisure of a 
battle which is going his way. Besides, he knew 
that his words, repeated by these men, would have 
some effect. Thus ten minutes passed. 

Entering his office, he nearly collided with one of 
his clerks who was rushing out with a telegram to 
find him. Wells saw the excitement in the vouno- 
man s face as he reached for the message. It was 
from Minneapolis, and it read : " Flood of wheat 
coming out here. Market seems likely to break." 

The broker looked down gravely at the yellow 
sheet. Had some one anticipated his stratagem ? 
He walked over deliberately to the ticker which 
gave the quotations from upstairs, and at a glance he 
saw that the character of the market was changing. 
The upward movement was checked. The prices 
came lower. He stood by the ticker, unable to get 
himself away, watching the figures with a terrible 
i8 273 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

fascination. Another Minneapolis message was 
handed him : " Bowles is selling openly." 

Yes, of course it was Bowles ! 

His own selling was going on upstairs ; but some- 
body else was selling faster. The price was melting 
away with frightful rapidity. It came, 92, 9i|^, 9^^^ 
9 1 J. 7^his would soon be a rout, a panic. He gave 
word to stop the selling on his account. At once 
the marker hesitated, rallied a little, turned feebly 
upward. In the hope of bringing about another ad- 
vance, of definitely turning back the tide. Wells began 
to buy. But the Minneapolis messages kept coming 
the same : " Bowles selling openly." Soon every 
one knew it. The miller was selling. More wheat 
was delivered on the May contracts. New York 
wired a denial of the report that a big shipment was 
to be made to France. The marker turned down- 
ward again. The selling continued. The price 
sank. Wells felt the trap closing in upon him. He 
sent his own men upstairs to buy more in order to 
check the rout. He knew that he was taking des- 
perate chances. His resources were already utterly 
exhausted. He could not pay for the wheat that he 
was buying, nor advance the margins on it unless the 
market should turn his way. He was using his 
credit to rob other men, making trades with them 
which he could not carry out. If the market kept 
against him, he might ruin them as well as himself. 
And as though his buying were a signal, the selling 
doubled. They had oceans of wheat to offer. The 

274 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

price still sank. It must be Bowles who was doing 
it. The broker felt the miller's vast power steadily- 
closing in upon him, tightening about him with its 
slow, irresistible coils. The miller's heel was upon 
his neck at last. An uncontrollable rage seized him. 
He gave orders to buy right and left, knowing it was 
simple robbery. If they drove him into a corner, so 
much the worse for them ! There was nothing left 
of him except the ferocious will to fight. 

Still the oceans of wheat poured out. His reckless 
buying could not stop the rout. The coils tightened, 
tightened, crushing the life out of him. At one 
o'clock Bowles gave out a cablegram from France 
disposing of the canard. The word went round : 
" It was a trick gotten up by Wells." Wheat 
dropped to eighty-five cents. 

Wells went into his den, his lean figure with its 
habitual stoop, his hands hanging at his side, his eyes 
glaring down without seeing anything. An implac- 
able fury, in which that inexplicable visitation of fear 
was strangely blent, possessed his mind. 

" I '11 kill him ! I '11 kill him ! " he said over and 
over to himself. 

XI 

The Wells summer-place at Lake Winnebago was 
built long before the house on Illinois Boulevard, — 
a simple, comfortable cottage, standing alone in the 
midst of the wood, about half-way from the village 

275 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

railway station to the spacious procession of parks 
and villas along the lake shore, where the later, more 
pretentious comers have made their summer places. 
From the bench before the cottage the long reach 
of red-tile roof capping Bowles's chateau is visible 
through the tree-tops. 

The road from the village to the chateau and the 
villas lies along the lake shore, and is bordered with 
shrubs most of the way. From the shore the land 
rises in a thick wood, here full of underbrush, there 
cleared and carpeted over with sparse, pale wild 
grass. 

There is another road, a mere rude wagon track, 
higher up the slope, walking along which one is in 
the heart of the wood, with the water of the lake 
shining down below through the tree-trunks and 
bushes. 

The sun was setting as Wells walked along the 
road, bag in hand. A serene mysterious life filled 
the woods, giving its veiled voice in the sounds of 
insects and birds, suspiring in the warm, damp air 
which was full of the smells of growing things. 
This serene, mysterious life touched the old broker's 
bound spirit. He dimly felt a great, calm, imper- 
sonal, indifferent nature which offered him every- 
thing and left him free to choose as he pleased. 

A kind of light entered his bound mind whereby 
for a moment he saw himself in relation to all things, 
and he thought : " No, surelv, I will not do this 
idiotic thing. How silly and pitiful for one old man 

276 



J 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

to kill another. That would be dreadful and so 
foolish ! " 

This had come to him dimly several times before, 
— when he was buying the things in his bag and 
when he was talking to the friendly passenger on 
the train ; but never so clearly as now. 

It comforted him to think that he could go down 
and throw the bag into the water. He walked along 
for a moment quite happy in this thought, — that at 
any time he could climb down and throw the bag 
into the water. 

He presently felt again the serene, mysterious life 
of the wood, calmly observing him, indifferent to 
what he did. In a moment his heart clutched to- 
gether; the leaden fear came upon him. He could 
not throw the bag into the water. He had no power 
to climb down from the upper road, swing forth his 
arm, and open his fingers. His will was locked. 
Well, if they drove him into a corner so much the 
worse for them. That cursed Bowles, who had 
ruined him ! He walked on, a lean, stooped figure, 
hurrying along the rude wood-road. 

Laura sat on the bench before the cottage, watch- 
ing the lower road. Wells was almost upon her 
before she saw him. She sprang up in a flutter of 
surprise, and ran to meet him. 

"Why, father!" she cried. Her arm slipped 
around him as she kissed him, her eyes shining at 
him. " How did you happen to come ? Why 
did n't you let us know ? I 'd have met you at the 

277 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

station. Isn't mother coming too? Just a little 
lark of your own ? Bob 's down at the village. 
You must have come by the wood-road. I was 
watching the shore-road for Bob. I 'm so surprised 
— and glad ! " 

Her speech bubbled forth in a happy effervescence. 
The old broker felt her joy in the way she kissed 
him, in her shining eyes, in the very motion of her 
limbs as she walked beside him, in everything about 
her. He felt her bright grace shining into his dark 
world. 

" I 'm glad,'* she repeated. " I was lonesome to 
see you — really." From her glance, and the slight 
smiling which touched a dimple in her cheek, he 
understood what she meant. He felt the uncon- 
scious coquetry of a thoroughly happy woman, 
fondly reproaching him a little for not having let her 
love him, eager in her own happiness to make him 
happy. They came to the bench. " Sit down 
until Bob comes," she said ; " I '11 run and see if 
the room is ready for you. Let me take your bag." 

Without resistance, almost before he knew it, the 
bag was in her hand ; she was carrying it to the 
house. 

He dropped to the bench with one strange, swift 
look at his empty hand. How light it felt with 
that burden gone ! How light his mind felt ! He 
began thinking vaguely that they might arrange to 
live there with her through the summer. He had a 
hungry wish that Susan were there. 

278 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

It occurred to him presently that Laura did not 
know of his scandalous failure on 'Change, with 
which by this time the city was clamorous ; and it 
came to him with a start of surprise that the failure 
was only a few hours old. Yet it seemed to have 
happened so long ago ! 

Meantime Laura was upstairs putting the room to 
rights. The bag stood on a chair. In the wish to 
do all she could for her father, to render every little 
affectionate service, she started to unpack it. She 
sprung the catch, opened the bag wide, and lifted out 
a nightgown. A sudden, startled arrest locked her 
nerves. She stood, the garment in her hands, star- 
ing down into the bag. A revolver lay there, ugly, 
ominous in its passive deadliness. The polished 
tube of steel with its crooked handle held her eyes, 
— a thing so hateful, murderous, so far from her 
habit. Her startled mind asked, " Why should 
• father be carrying that ? " She shuddered a little 
without exactly knowing why. She could not bring 
herself to touch it, and as though she had uncovered 
a detestable secret, she hastily returned the garment 
to its place and closed the bag. 

Hastening downstairs, still nervous and shaken, 
she went to the kitchen to see how the dinner was 
coming on ; and in this commonplace occupation 
the equilibrium of her mind was presently restored. 
To have a revolver was no such extraordinary thing. 
She even laughed at herself for her fears. Her 
nervousness passed. 

279 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

The matter of the dinner detained her for some 
time. When she returned to the bench, it was 
growing dusk. Robert was very late. Her fondness 
began to create fears for him. She talked to her 
dumb father ; but now and then she leaned forward, 
peering toward the shore-road through the gathering 
dusk ; now and then her speech showed the absent 
mind. 

" Why, what can have made him so late ? " she 
said. " Of course, it 's quite safe here. Still there 
are tramps about. You know, they held up a man 
on the other side of the lake last week. One ought 
to use some caution. Robert himself spoke of it 
last night when we were sitting here. You know, 
Mr. Bowles still comes up on the 8.45 and walks 
home along the shore-road. I don't think he ought 
to — do you ? And he said he 'd be back for din- 
ner at seven. Of course he's all right — only I 
wish he M come. Shall we eat now, or wait ? " 

" Let 's wait," said Wells. 

He heard his own voice sounding in the dark. 
Her fear infected him in a strange way. Something 
vast, mysterious, impersonal, full of fate, moved in 
the darkening wood. He felt it moving, and was 
aware of a little hot, quick, rodent-like fear of it as 
he sat speechless, staring into the dusk. Pictures 
came and went in his brain — the wheat pit — Holi- 
day on that wintry morning and Holiday on the 
street corner — four fellow-brokers to whom he had 
given buying orders coming into his office when his 

280 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

failure was noised about and cursing him for a thief. 
All the time that living thing moved in the dark 
wood, drawing him on, observing him. 

Presently Laura got up to ease her nerves and 
went to the house, where she tried to busy herself 
for a few moments. She came back, stood by the 
bench awhile, really frightened now ; then went 
away toward the shore, where any moving figure on 
the road would show against a patch of shining 
water. Wells watched her go, leaving him with his 
fate. 

When she came back she saw that her father had 
left the bench. Entering the house, she encountered 
him coming out. The rays of the hall lamp fell 
upon the two faces turned to each other in a swift, 
wordless glance. An indefinable shock passed 
through the woman. In the set look of the older 
face, with eyes singularly leaden, yet bloodshot, she 
thought she read a fear for Robert, justifying her own 
fear. She could not speak — as though speaking 
would bring forth the fear into an accomplished 
tragedy. Wells went out. Laura dropped into a 
chair, looking about her, trying to control her fear 
and think of something to do. She heard the far, 
faint whistle of the Chicago train — the 8.45. 

It may have been two minutes later that she 
heard the strong, rapid step on the porch, sprang up, 
and rushed into her husband's arms. 



281 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

XII 

With Bob in her arms, strong and sound under 
the cosey light of their lamp, all her fears instantly 
became a dear joke — as though gay life had for an 
instant put on a horrid mask in a prank to frighten 
her, then whisked it aside, laughing at her for the start 
she gave. The mask gave a new inspiration, a new 
zest to joy. She laughed, hugging him and laughing 
again, smothering him with endearments while she 
scolded him for staying. 

Then she saw there was something else. Harper 
took a folded newspaper from his pocket. 

"Your father 's failed, Laura," he began ; and he 
told her briefly what had happened. At once she 
understood her father's unexpected appearance. She 
stood looking up at her husband, wordless, stricken 
through and through with pity. 

" Oh, poor father ! Poor papa ! He 's here. 
Bob, you know. He came here. Poor father ! " 

" Here ? But your mother telegraphed. They 
gave me the wire at the station. That 's what kept 
me. Strange — nobody saw him. He must have 
jumped off at the water-tank. Your mother wired 
to know if he was here." 

" Then she does n't know ! You must go back at 
once, Bob, and wire her. At once. Bob ! She 
does n't know where he is. Go at once, dear. 
Poor papa! He came to me — came to me in this 
trouble. How I love him ! " At once she remem- 

282 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

bered. She clapped her hands to her face, dropped 
them, stood looking at her husband a statue of 
remorse. 

" Oh, I 've failed ! I *ve failed again ! " she 
cried. " He came to me. I Ve failed ! I was so 
full of you, so anxious about you I almost forgot 
him. Maybe he 's gone away again. Maybe I 've 
let him go away again. We '11 find him ! I '11 go 
with you." It occurred to her that he might not 
have gone away. "You look for him at the station, 
in the village. Bob. Go to the hotel. Inquire. If 
you find him, make him come back. I '11 wait there. 
We '11 surely find him. But wire mother first." 

In her eagerness she forgot the dinner. When 
Harper set off, she ran out to the bench. It was 
empty. She returned to the house. In a moment 
she picked up the evening paper at which she had 
barely glanced. Even the headlines told her more 
than Harper had said. She read hastily, but enough 
to see that it was more than simple failure. It was 
utter ruin, disgrace, dishonor. She read of Holiday's 
accusation and of the fellow-brokers who had cursed 
Wells in his office. 

She dropped the paper, trembling, her lips apart, 
her face colorless, staring into a void. In the void 
there slowly gathered and took form an open travel- 
ling-bag. 

At the door of Wells's room she struck a match, 
steadying herself with one hand on the door-jamb 
and peering in. The swift light brought out various 

283 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

familiar things, — the bureau, chairs, the untouched 
bed. The room was still and empty. She lit the gas 
and turned to the bag, her heart laboring to beat. 
The revolver vi^as gone. 

Rushing downstairs and out of doors, bareheaded, 
she took to the wood-road without any reason, 
running as fast as she could over the difficult footing, 
striving to see through the gloom, every instant 
yearning with wild anxiety toward the human figure 
erect or prostrate which might be revealed out of each 
patch of shadow ahead or aside. The dark was pop- 
ulous with this solitary figure which faded each in- 
stant from her breathless haste. Bodily fatigue and 
the mockery of the dusk, which each moment silently 
engulfed the object of her search, imposed a certain 
perception of the order and relationship of things 
upon her distracted mind. Why in this direction 
rather than another ? Still she hurried on from the 
original impulse. The dark and silence of the wood 
lay about her. Here she stumbled. Now and then 
an overhanging bough, dewily fragrant, whipped her 
face, like a feeler of the still, mysterious Hfe within 
the wood reaching out to take account of her. 
Everywhere this wide, serene summer night, silent 
in its intense secret life, seemed to know what she 
wanted and indifferently to hide it from her. 

She dragged wearily back to the cottage. The 
endless shadows were saturated with an impenetrable 
and sentient repose. The dark shapes of trees in 
the front yard seemed never to have stirred since 

284 




The dusk . . . silently engulfed the object of her search " 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

time was — set to watch. The house itself was 
now dark, its dim form holding itself far and indif- 
ferently remote from her. Her limbs were heavy, 
but she had not found him. Everywhere the still 
dark, within some of whose impenetrable folds the 
tragedy was happening, baffled her search. It knew 

— it knew — but she could not find out. 

She climbed up the steps and opened the front 
door, calling to the maid. There was no answer. 
Robert was not there. The tragedy had devoured 
them all. She crept upstairs to her father's room. 
Again the swift light brought up the familiar objects, 

— the bureau, chairs, the untouched bed. The in- 
animate repose of those homely things seemed to 
allege her loss. Their cruel changelessness held the 
secret, as though they were his body immutably 
resolved into that silent, sentient world which had 
swallowed him up. 

She lay cuddled and shivering, wide-eyed, on the 
hall lounge, when sounds of human life abruptly 
invaded the silent, sentient void, — the breaking of 
twigs, a muffled noise of horses, a subdued voice. 
At the door she made out a carriage standing in the 
rough road before the cottage; human figures bearing 
a burden. 

They brought him in — Bowles, Robert, and a 
servant — and laid him on the lounge. 

She made out that Robert had come up with 
them just before they reached the house. Bowles 
was still explaining it to him. 

285 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

" I was walking home, you know," he said," and 
I thought I saw somebody by a clump of bushes. 
The man stepped out. It was Wells. I stopped 
short. He had a pistol. He lifted it up. I 
could n't say anything ; I just looked at him. He 
turned it to his own breast and fired. I could n't 
say anything, you know. I just looked at him. 
He aimed at himself. It was just where the road 
turns from the shore." 

The miller's voice broke and trembled over these 
short, labored utterances. His broad face was per- 
fectly white. He stared from one to the other. 
In the intervals of laboring speech his nether lip 
hung loose, slightly quivering. 

" He stepped out in front of me — " the miller 
repeated it, dreadfully shaken, half stupefied by his 
agitation. His fearing eye glanced down at the 
form on the lounge. 

The old broker's composed and colorless face 
seemed to scorn the miller's agitation. Serene with 
its locked secrets and this final secret of death, it 
seemed to take an immortal triumph at last over 
Bowles with all his luck and power and money. 

"The doctor must be here ! " Bowles was crying 
in his agitation. 

Laura sat beside the couch. In her first percep- 
tion she had caught the faint movement of the 
breast, the slight sigh, the quiver of the lip. She 
had scarcely heeded anything else. Life was still 
here. Her whole concern bent itself to that with 

286 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

single, tense regard. Without an exclamation or 
so much as a gesture she sat beside the couch, hold- 
ing his inert hand, her eyes bent upon his face. 
His life had been brought back to her out of the 
mystery. The composed, colorless features, with 
their strange effect of scorn, locked in all his secrets. 
He whom love had missed lay in the state of his 
impenetrable solitude. What far, lonely, secret ways 
he had gone ! The woman bent over him, her eyes 
yearning with the will to bring him home. 

XIII 

Wells sat on the bench before the cottage, the 
hot woods droning under a July sun. Mrs. Wells 
sat just within the screen door to the hall, looking 
out every moment or two at the lean, bent, solitary 
figure. 

The broker's bodily strength had returned slowly. 
The town house was closed and advertised for sale. 
Back in that teeming hive they were sweeping up 
the last litter of the failure which had already passed 
into history, excepting now and then for a belated 
wail over the meagreness of the debris. Wells had 
not been to town. There was no attempt to dis- 
turb him here. He had already passed from the 
stage, which was busy with other actors. His wife 
and daughter had been beside him continually. But 
now that he was stronger and able to get about they 
were no longer near him. 

287 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

The little fiction which Bowles and Robert and 
the doctor had made up about an attack by a high- 
wayman had been accepted politely, simply because 
it was so hopelessly transparent. Every one knew 
that the ruined broker had attempted suicide. 

When the strength began coming back to his 
limbs, it brought in the inextinguishable shame of 
this fact. The failure was tolerable. Plenty of 
other men failed. But the humiliation of having 
attempted suicide. No one could know the dark 
struggle of his spirit which issued in turning the 
weapon against himself instead of against Bowles. 
But even the two loving women who watched by 
his bed, — their tender solicitude seemed to pity him 
for a weak, idiotic old man who had tried ineffect- 
ually to kill himself like a lovesick girl. 

In his shame he wished to be alone. The whims 
of a convalescent must be humored, and the two 
loving, anxious women sadly gave him his way. 

But the last two weeks a more alarming symptom 
had appeared. Daily Wells spent hours locked in 
his room. The helpless mother and daughter, met 
with the hard armor of his old aloofness and ab- 
straction, knew what it meant. They already saw 
him giving himself back into the coils of his passion. 
They imagined him, in his locked room, spending 
hours scheming, devising, plotting, meditating, plan- 
ning a stroke to recover his fortune, putting forth 
his practised old mind in preparations for a new 
campaign. 

288 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

Wells arose from the bench and entered the 
house, stubbornly avoiding his wife's anxious eye 
and ignoring Laura's call. He mounted the stairs 
with labor and went to his room. 

Half an hour later Laura went up noiselessly, as 
she had gone up before. But this time a narrow 
crack appeared between the edge of the door and 
the casing. He had forgotten to lock himself in. 
She put her hand to the door and entered the room, 
her heart beating high. 

Wells sat in a large old rocking-chair beside the 
window. A broad lap-board lay across his knees. 
He had a deck of cards and was playing solitaire. 

Laura halted abruptly, with an inexpressible shock. 
Wells jerked his head around, his wide eyes startled, 
defensive, guilty. For a big instant the glances of 
the father and the daughter hung dumbly together ; 
and the truth lay revealed between them. 

The broker's mind, still helpless in his weakness 
and amid the ruins of his business, but worn to old 
habits, occupied itself with this childish imitation of 
the old game. He sat in here by the hour shuffling 
and distributing the cards, childishly absorbed in 
the shifts of chance, like a ruined Napoleon playing 
with tin soldiers. 

A dull, pathetic blush colored his lean wrinkled 
old cheek in the nakedness of his shame. 

" Go away ! Go away ! " he commanded harshly, 
but in a voice which trembled. 

Laura rushed upon him, flung herself beside his 
19 289 



THE END OF THE DEAL 

chair, seized his trembling hands. " No ! No ! 
I won't go away, father ! Never ! I '11 never go 
away again ! " She bent over his hands, kissing 
them, her tears wetting them. 

" Go away, girl ! Go away ! " his shaking voice 
repeated. " Go away, girl ! " His own dry old 
eyes ran with tears. " I ain't worth it, Laura ! I 
ain't worth it ! " 

" No ! No ! Never ! Never ! I '11 never go 
away again, father ! " She still kissed his hands, 
wet with her tears. "We'll never go away again, 
father ! Mother ! Mother ! " she called loudly. 



290 



PRINTED FOR A. C. McCLURG & CO. BY 
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& SON (INC.), CAMBRIDGE, U.S.A. 






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