A Story of Golf, Business— and Love
ALLEN C. SHORE
IN Balaam’s contradictoriness, as beaten old forty James different McWham ways. He’s had dead now, and anyway he was a bachelor, so there’s no harm in saying this. The morning he died —it was Sunday—the minister and elders of the Seascape Presbyterian Church danced a solemn jig of thanksgiving round the kirk session table; so at least it was reported.
It was this way. At fifty, McWham had been a chronic invalid, a constant irritation to doctors who had prophesied his immediate dissolution countless times. At sixty, they said he was as good as in his coffin. It was about that time that he sent for the minister and elders. There was a debt of two thousand dollars on the kirk. He explained that he would like to set Zion free before he went hence, but he was not as rich as some folks thought. It had been on his mind to leave the kirk a thousand or two in his will, but he had a new inspiration. If they would agree to pay him two hundred dollars a year for the rest of his life, he would give them the two thousand dollars, spot cash. The annuity arrangement was only a prudential anchor to leeward, the careful habit of a business mind. As a matter of fact he had already picked out his pall-bearer. It looked, to the minister and elders, after they had interviewed the doctors, to be a lead-pipe cinch. It proved to be the lead pipe without the cinch, for McWham lingered shivering on the brink till something shoved him over at eighty-seven.
This, by the way, as illustrative of a phase of McWham.
BUT sit with him on a sunny afternoon in the shade of the golf-club verandah, and one saw him in more agreeable aspect. Though no longer a player, except round the nineteenth hole, he belonged to the Augustan age of golf, when that game had been regarded as only one of the odd foibles of the eccentric, though sturdy, Scottish mind. McWham spoke of St. Andrews, Prestwick and Musselburgh as another might of Jerusalem, Rome, or Athens; of Tom Morris and Young Tommy in the same terms as a chum of Julius Caesar or Alexander the Great might have referred to those heroes.
He mourned the flip crassness of a world that gives the name of golfer to any person who can hurl a club head with reasonable accuracy against a golf ball, that calls a golf club a “stick,” and plays the game with sundry clubs, a lead pencil, and a score card, and drivels of “birdie” threes and fours. He lived in the past and ancient and royal game.
BEFORE proceeding with the story it is necessary to make one more digression. The McWham mills, spacious, four-story brick buildings were on the north side of the street; the Warrender mill, also brick and four-story, stood just across the road. The knitters of one place could exchange criticisms of the personal appearances of passers-by with those of the other.
Old McWham, on his good
days, could sit at his office
window and see pretty much what was going on in the Warrender office.
Warrender, father of the present head of the
rival firm, had been MeWham’s partner. Then they had done a most imprudent thing—they had fallen in love with the same woman. In a world in which women are in the majority, and charming ones innumerable, the absurdity was too ridiculous for words. The lady had chosen Warrender; and McWham had not been at all chivalrous. Instead of kissing her hand sadly, or doing something that might have shaken her confidence in the accuracy of her choice, thus sticking a pin into her thought of the winner, after which he could have ridden away to look the rest over, McWham had been quite huffy about it. The business partnership had been broken up. McWham had gone out and begun business independently, intent on showing how deep his love for the lady had been, by jamming her husband into the bankruptcy court, and the loved one herself into impecunious unhappiness. It had been his solemn joy to watch his mills extend to a dozen times their original capacity, while Warrender’s had remained in statu quo ante.
Long had Seascape speculated as to what would be the disposition of the McWham properties when he was deprived of them by the last enemy. As already intimated, he had not taken another lady “just as good” out of the plethora of feminine pulchritude, but had remained, what he richly deserved to be, a heartand-body-weazened-left-over. The general impression was that he would do one of those devilishly cynical things with his estate wherewith his kind succeed in their amiable purpose of bringing the greatest' annoyance to the greatest number—that is, found a University for Eskimos of sound moral propensities in Spitzbergen, or build a lunatic asylum for falsely prophetic doctors; anyway, something philanthropic like that.
DUT, as was his wont, he fooled the curious public this time by displaying ordinary, prosaic human feeling. He imported an heir apparent from Scotland, one John McWham Macara.
Some said that John’s mother, a niece of MeWham’s, had once prepared for him a most wonderful haggis, and he felt that so capable a woman could not have an incompetent son. Others explained that John McWham Macara owed his elevation to the fact that he had been brought up to the trade McWham was in, and that what he did not know about hosiery, in a manu-
facturing sense, could not properly be called knowledge.
Both influences may have had their contributing agencies, but it is more than probable that a newspaper report, setting forth Macara’s golfing prowess, clinched matters finally. MeWham’s nephew had emerged victoriously from a grand open competition in which the competitor’s names sounded like the roll call of the Black Watch, with Fernies, Sayers, Parks, Herds, and Kirkaldys, sprinkled about hither and yon.
“One day there’ll be but one firm here again, instead of two,” said McWham to his nephew, a short time after he arrived. “Warrender can’t hold out much longer. The bank likes the look of his paper less every day.”
“And who will the bit lassie be?” asked Macara most irrelevantly, glancing across the road admiringly at & pretty figure in a neat blue skirt and white waist in the Warrender office window. He himsélf was a rather taking kind of a man—medium height, lean body, but wiry. Indeed he was all wire—wiry figure ; wiry, short-cropped, red-brown moustache ; wiry, short-cropped, reddish hair. He had a clear red, sun-tanned skin, and grayish-blue eyes that showed him to be a live wire, of unusually high voltage.
From the day of his arrival, he had been administering shocks to his uncle. For instance, the old man would have had the youngster be content with a subordinate job, with the contingency of heirship dangling before his nose, like the fixed, though elusive carrot before the ambitious donkey’s. But with Scotch point and emphasis, John had declined “the substance of things hoped for” as lacking the precise kind of nourishment he desired. He wanted a present partnership, proving to his uncle that it was about market price for his value.
Strangest of all, he had secured what he asked for.
Macara was a practical expert, and knew more about stockings than McWham had ever dreamed. He scoffed at the McWham Mills—their equipment, their ancient machinery, their inefficient working— and marvelled that the admirable legs of Canada would consent to be encased in the mercerized monstrosities that McWham foisted on them. As John said, it was nothing less than shocking that manufacturing should support so inadequately the
work of nature and grace. He had also eloquently dwelt on the topic that McWham had given him his head, feeling that perhaps he had failed to do his full duty to the legs of a worthy continent; and, so far, the experiment had been abundantly successful.
“I was talking about the Warrender mill, no about lassies. Ye must be kind o’ absent-minded, John,” said the old man reprovingly. Then he added: “That’s Warrender’s daughter.”
“A bonnie wee lassie!” approved Macara with sincerity.
“No sae bad,” conceded McWham grumpily. He slipped in and out of his native Scotch as his emotions controlled. “No sae bad, but awfu’ high-notioned. Walks by me as if I was just a dab o’ putty.”
“She has that kind of a look to her,” observed Macara critically. “What might she do in the office?”
“Kin’ o’ secretary to her father,” grunted McWham. “He likes fancy names. What would be juist a clerk to you or me, he calls a secretary. He wears a wee watch strapped to his wrist, and puts scent on his pocky-hanky. I ha’e nae doot but he curls his whiskers at nicht.”
“Think o' that!” exclaimed Macara, his eyes on the girl.
“And him a stockinger too!” said McWham contemptuously. “He was spoiled as a lad. When he should ha’ been in overalls, wool sorting or lying on his back under a greasy wool comb, or studying the motions of a knitting frajne, he was having his nails manicured, and his moustache put into curl papers like the Kaiser’s. A laddie that tak’s his fun in the morning has to sweat before bedtime comes ^ound.”
“That’s a fact!” agreed Macara. “I don’t mind ever seeing a lassie with just that glinting shade of pale gold in her hair before.”
“John McWham Maea-a,” said the elder man gravely» “ye'll ha’e to mind yir ways wi’ the lassies hereaboots.”
“I'll try my best,” grinned the alert redhead modestly.
“It's no lichtsome topic,” reproved McWham. “They set aboot a likely lad like tarriers on a rabbit run. Let him as much as poke the neb o’ him oot, and snap! He's gaun before he can squeak. A lassie’s an awfu' disconcairtin’ creature, John. A pretty one hanging round yir neck in the water will droon ye same as a plain one might. Kittle cattle they be! It’s
a silk gown, or a new hat, or a finer hoose. or a better car a’ the time. First thing ye ken, a sheriff’s in the hoose, and the wife’s getting a divorce from ye for nonsupport.”
“I understand we are not friendly with the Warrender folk?” asked John, shifting topics. “War policy, eh?”
“Friendly? No!” snarled McWham. “His father wranged me. We were pairtners. He had money; I nought but brains. When wre pairted he squeezed me badly. Fought me when I started the bit mill, at the bank, wi’ the wool merchants and machinery folk, when I needed credit. It was hard work till I got toes and fingers into the cracks and began to climb. I swore I’d get back at him—put him and his oot, and have the auld mill back again. I'll dae it yet! If he offers goods at a dollar, and I ken it, my price is ninety cents, and when he drops to ninety I drop ten more.”
“I see,” said Macara. “Feud! Blood fight to the knock-out.”
“Aye, that’s it, John.” And McWham smacked his thin old lips. “At the finish, there'll be no Warrender, only McWham and Macara.”
\/f ACARA sat in his private office, a letter before him, a smile on his face. McWham had been ordered South for the remainder of the winter. He had gone reluctantly, separating himself for a time from his beloved mills only because he realized that if he did not go, it might mean his permanent removal to a land where, according to the accepted view, the demand for hosiery is not great.
And now there was trouble with the Warrender folk. Previously there had been litigation between the firms over the pollution of the stream that flowed by the Warrender’s place to McWham’s. An injunction had been obtained by McWham, restraining the Warrenders from discharging dyehouse refuse into the river. There had been a recurrence of the offense ; not a very serious one, it is true, but Macara had promptly called the attention of the offenders to the breach. The reply lay before him, with the initials M. W. under the firm signature. It was a tartish reply, intimating indirectly that McWham was making a lot of fuss about nothing. Macara glanced over the street to see who was in the office ; then decided that, in diplomacy, verbal negotiation may be superior to
scraps of paper. Putting on his hat, and arranging his tie, he stepped over to Warrender’s. Mr. Warrender was out of town, but Miss Warrender was in the office. Both facts Macara knew quite as well as the office boy.
“I called about that water matter, Miss Warrender,” he said, after a formal introduction, frigidly received. “Your letter was not at all satisfactory, so I thought I'd come and have a talk over the matter.”
“Why unsatisfactory?” she inquired.
She was wonderfully pretty in a rather over-grave way. He wished he could make her smile. It must be delightful, he thought, to see her face light up. But you are limited to jocular references when the discussion is about dye-stuffs, water pollution, and drain pipes.
Her hair was glorious, he reflected on closer inspection. Some women’s hair was bunchy, clotty, muddy-looking; hers was fine, each hair as distinct as spun silk in an orderly skein.
“It was like a blind alley—leads nowhere,” he answered. “The injunction is peremptory, very peremptory, and we cannot permit any infringement to pass. I know the tricks of dyehouse help, and the rascalities of rival dyeing bosses.” He assumed a very severe mien. “If the refuse were properly piped into the sewers, there would be no trouble. It is in your interest to prevent recurrence, as you are liable for damages, heavy damages.”
“Do you claim damages?” she asked, belligerently.
“We haven’t formulated a claim yet,” he said. “If we thought the injury intentional, we should take a severe view—most severe.”
“You have my word that it was not intentional,” she declared.
“That is amply sufficient,” and he bowed magnanimously.
“I investigated the matter more closely this morning. There was a leak in one of the pipes. It has been repaired,” she explained.
“Then there is nothing more to be said. I am glad I came across. It is well to have an understanding in these matters, and to be neighborly,” he smiled.
“Neighborly!” she exclaimed. “That is a new word from Mr. McWham.”
“And I am a new man there,” he replied. “You must give me the benefit of any doubt that is possible until I am proved unneighborly. Good-bye, Miss Warrender. I hope to have the pleasure of meeting Mr. Warrender soon.”
TT is hard for an unsuccessful man to be just to the successful. A beaten man is sensitive, a baffled woman much more so. The Warrenders were fighting a losing battle. With an old-fashioned equipment, and scarcity of money, they were being steadily and surely driven out of the market. McWham could buy, manufacture, and consequently sell, more cheaply. It was the old muzzle-loader against the machine gun, candle against the electric light, lumbering stage coach against flying express. Macara’s salesmen were pushing everywhere into new fields, with attractive goods. His advertising campaign was making the firm name known from one end of the land to the other. Novelties that took the market by storm poured in a ceaseless stream from the McWham mills. By the time Warrenders caught on to a popular fashion, its day had gone, and there was something newer to catch the public eye. Old-time goods that Warrender and his father had turned out, with little change, were passed over by buyers who wanted something new, artistic, modern.
Now and again Macara met Warrender in a more or less formal way. Mary went little into the society of the small town, for her days were busy, and problems as to ways and means occupied much of the time she spent at home. When the golfing season opened, Macara met her more frequently, for she was an enthusiastic player, and found much needed relaxation in the game. He made many attempts to engage her for a game, but always unsuccessfully. She had invariably some excuse—a previous engagement, disinclination to play; but other men appeared to have better luck with her. Macara overtook her one evening as she was walking home from the links.
“I wonder when you are going to give me that long deferred game, Miss Warrender?” he asked.
“When I think I am good enough to be able to give a plus four man a decent game,” she answered evasively, with a laugh.
“That is not a very good reason,” he said.
“You would either have to give me a ridiculous handicap, or play so badly intentionally that it would be worse than the severest beating.”
“I have watched your game. On handicap points we would have a good match,” he argued.
“The beating would be too humiliating,” she said.
“You are too good a sportswoman to be afraid of that,” he told her. “Suppose I am quite frank, and say that I do not wish to play?” she asked, with an air of quiet decision. “I’d be awfully sorry,” he answered. “It would make me think you di¿ not consider me worthy of your friendship.” “The conclusion would be not quite fair,” she said, coloring faintly. “I am glad of that. I had hoped -we might be friends.” QHE made no reply. They were nearing her home, ^ and she was glad of it. “Won’t you let me call for you on Saturday afternoon? We would have a real out and out fight. Then we’d be real friends, I think,” he smiled persuasively. “I am afraid I can’t,” she answered. “I don’t mean to be unfriendly at all, but I would rather you wouldn't ask me. If I seem peevish and unreasonable, be kind and just; put it down to unconquerable ill temper.” To her he seemed to be the very incarnation of the evil power that made her life hard and dark. It was unreasonable, she knew, but she could not help it. “You must surely understand, Mr. Macara,” she concluded. “Yes, I think I do,” he admitted gently. “But isn’t it a wee bit unfair to me—perhaps to yourself? I’ll not put it down to ill temper, either. I wonder—I wonder if I could ever make you believe that I’d do anything I could to help you to feel differently about me. I mean,” he laughed, “that I don’t think we were meant to be enemies, fighting one another. But some ill power, or a power that seems to be treating us ill, has set us in opposed camps. I wonder if we couldn’t improve things? Golf’s a grand reconciler. It’s the broad game of broad folks. I’m not going to ask for a match again, trll—well, till something makes me fancy that my luck is changing.” She left him hurriedly, in her over-wrought state midway between tears and hotly resentful anger. All night long and for days after, the sympathetic notes of the tender Scotch voice sang through her mind like music. Then the resumption of the daily fight against the forces under his command brought back all the old hardness.
IITHEN the draw for the Mixed Foursomes was made, Macara’s name was one of the last to come out of the hat. “Macara,” at last came the shout. “And—Miss Warrender!”
There was a momentary hush in the room. Some idiot snickered. Then came a babel of laughing comment. Macara made his way to the place where the girl stood and held out his hand. “I knew the luck would change,” he said, for her ear alone. She smiled and made some polite reply: then left with her father. “Confoundedly u nlucky draw!” Mr. Warrender said, as they walked home. “I suppose I should consider myself lucky,” she laughed. “Still, I almost wish I hadn’t entered.” The pair ran triumphantly through the ties till they came to the final. They were a splendid combination, h e master of all his clubs, far and sure, a born golfer, both in style and and
and nerve and execution; she clever, especially within range of, and on, the green. The morning of the day for the play-off had been unusually trying to Mary Warrender. A big order they had relied upon to turn a lot of stock into muchneeded cash had gone over the way to McWham’s. She was fretted, irritable, nervous, and thoroughly off her game. Macara was at the top of his form, • the slashing, brilliant St. Andrews style at its best. Nothing seemed impossible to him, and it was well it was so, since he had virtually to carry her around. She could do nothing right, and his unfailingly chivalrous sportsmanship made her feel worse, rather than better. Their opponents were of the humdrum, safe and sane type, and against them it was a noticeable performance for Macara to land his partner and himself all square at the end of the seventeenth. It was Mary’s drive from the last tee. She made a wreck of it; the ball fell short and pulled into the rough. Safe and Sane were well down the middle of the course. Macara took his cleek and, with a superb shot that brought down the gallery, laid the ball within six feet of the hole.
in six feet of the hole. Safe and Sane, upset, just reached the green, and playing the odd, were :en feet from the hole. At two more they lay dead. With two strokes for the match, Mary had but to lay the ball dead. After some nervous hesitation, she struck the ball so hard that it galloped past the hole, across the green, and dropped into a miserable guarding bunker, amid the groans of the multitude. Macara managed to scramble it on to the green. Mary played the odd, leaving the ball four feet from the hole. At two more Macara ran down, but it was too late. Safe and Sane holed out and took the match and the cup.
'THE crowd surged over the field, all voluble sym-*■ pathy for Macara, who had played the most brilliant game ever seen on the course, only to be horribly butchered by his partner. Mary, pale and agitated, moved awray in profoundest misery. He caught up with her. “Don’t worry about a trifling thing like that,” he laughed.* “I’ve done the same thing lots of times. Come along, we’ll stand the gaff of the presentation together. There’s a silver medal for the runners-up, I’m afraid.” . “Suppose we go round by the beach and escape the mob,” he said, when they found themselves outside again. She felt rather helpless and so accompanied him without protest, though it was quite out. of their way home. They crossed the now deserted links to the bay’s edge. It was a jolly, sheltered, lonely place, and the breeze that blew in from the sea was delightfully refreshing. “Let’s sit down and talk things over,” he said. “And don’t look so dreadfully contrite. In golf you’ve got to take everything that comes. Now you’re thinking about that putt, but I’m busy with the thought of my luck in being drawn with you, and of all those ties I have been able to play with you as partner all the week. The ice is broken and I think there is going to be no more frost.” She looked at the silver medal in her hand. “I’d like to fling it into the sea,” she said. “It’s the reminder of a hateful day.” “Better keep it,” he smiled. “The day isn't done yet. Now forget about that last green, or I’ll think you are a pot-hunter. You can’t account for golfing nerves. They are part of the links’ discipline.” “It wasn’t nerves altogether,” she answered. “The moment I had to putt, I thought of that big order from the Maclaren Stores you took away from us this morning, and—I put you into the bunker on purpose.” “I know you did,” he laughed. “I saw you look viciously at me when some of those gabblers were cracking up my cleek shot. I knew you would do it. Sometimes I feel the same way, especially with smugness. I used to fire peas at my school master’s bald head because he was so thunderingly good, and knew it. I must have been an awful trial to you, you poor, wee, troubled lassie. You can put me into a hundred bunkers if you like, so long as you let me partner you.”' He drew closer to her. “I’d sooner, Mary dear, be with you in the toughest hazard ever niblick faced than be on the fair green with anybody else.” She looked up at him, very white, but he fancied he saw a glint of sunshine. “I loved you, lassie mine, when I wrote you that savage letter about the water pollution. When I came over and talked about damages and lectured you about injunctions, I wanted to pick you up and kiss you. It’s a terrible confession to have to make, isn’t it?” His arm ...stole about her.
Continued on 74
Continued from page 28
“You don’t understand how it is, Mr. Macara,” she said, with a shaky kind of smile and an effort to disengage herself.
“Jack!” he corrected, holding her more closely. , , „ ,
“You don’t understand — Jack,” she amended. “We decided this morning, father and I, that we can fight no longer. We are going into liquidation on Monday. We’re afraid we may not come out clean if the sale turns out badly.”
“Liquidation! I doubt it,” he replied. “But we’ll talk that later. What’s your answer, Mary?”
“I can’t—Jack! I can’t! We may be broken and disgraced. If we can’t pay everybody a hundred cents on the dollar, I wouldn’t stay in this place. I couldn’t,” she said.
“We are getting away from the subject again,” he answered, and to mend matters he drew her still nearer to him. “I don’t care about Seascape, about knitting mills, about golf, about debtors or creditors, one snap, just now. If you express a preference for Patagonia, we’ll pull up stakes and start out. There’s only one absolutely necessary thing in life to me as I regard it, and it is you—just you, Mary.
“There’s going to be no more worry of that kind for you, no more bothers about money, no more anxiety about business. That’s my side of the partnership. You never were intended fur a dingy old office, Mary, but just for the, delight of my heart and home. Will you come to me, Mary, lassie?”
She hesitated a moment, her eyes cloudy, her lips quivering.
“I am so tired of it all. It will be just heaven! You seemed to be fighting against me—me—and it hurt dreadfully ! And if I get irritable and bunker you sometimes?”
“Didn’t I take my medicine like a man out there?” he nodded in the direction of the fatal hazard.
“Yes, like an angel,” she agreed.
“The grand thing about medicine is the sweet that goes with it—or comes after,” he observed.
They drew closer still, while the flying seagulls made flip remarks to each other about the queer ways of humans.
WANT you to congratulate me, A Uncle,” said Macara to McWham on Monday morning. “Mary Warrender has promised to marry me.”
“Are ye daft? Ye’ve got to excuse me, John, but I dinna feel just jokesome the day,” complained the old man. “I’ve no got over the putt that lost you the cup on Saturday. It came near bunkering me for gude. John, it was no slip, but juist de’il-like pairvairsity, —female pairvairsity.”
“I’ve seen Jim Braid do as bad many a time, and as for Johnny Ball!” laughed Macara. “If a lassie hasn’t the right to bunker her future husband when she wants to, what’s to become of the whole question of woman’s rights? Maybe she was just testing me. I came through with full marks—passed, and nothing needed but the minister’s diploma.”
“Which o’ the twa of us is the crazy yin?” demanded McWham. “Ye talk, John, like an addled egg.”
“I’m telling you the plain fact. I’m going to marry Mary Warrender,” asserted Macara.
“Then we pairt!” snarled McWham. “Ye can juist gang to the de’il yir ain gait.”
“I’m pretty well used to my own gait,” smiled Macara. “Better call up the accountants and get the partnership affairs straightened out. I’d libe it done quick, for I can use the money.”
“I reckon ye do this because I’m an auld, auld man,” whimpered McWham.
“No, because I’m a young, young one,” laughed Macara. “I like the business here well enough; the mills are rounding into good fettle, we’re opening up grand markets. All those things are important in their way. But business is one thing, the lassie another.”
The implication was that business was rather a drossy thing. “I’ll ha’e the accountants in and we’ll square up,” said McWham furiously. “This prankie has cost ye better than a million.” “No’ an unreasonable price,” said Macara, dropping into dialect in his earnestness. “I’m like the McWhams that way—I dinna mind price when I’m satisfied wi’ my bargain. Ye ken aboot the man and the pearl o’ great price? He sold all he had to get it. His modern name is John McWham Macara. I’ll get my bit things ready in the office. Maybe I’ll send a laddie over to fetch ’em later.” “Ower from whaur?” demanded McWham. “I’ll likely be ower the road,” said John. “They need a bit lift. The business has an auld name, and if modernized -” “They’re next door to bankruptcy!” interrupted McWham. “Hoots! Siller’ll cure that!” scoffed Macara. “I’m no a beggar. I can get all the money I want for new mills, after what we’ve done here in a short time. Then there’s my share o’ the partnership. What I've done this side of the road I can do on the other.” “And ye’ll build the Warrenders up wi’ my money?” screamed McWham. “No, with mine,” answered John. ‘Ye told me the other day I had doubled the place’s worth.”
Ti/fACARA was fussing with papers at his desk when McWham shuffled in. “John,” he whimpered. “I’m an auld, auld man!” “Aye, nane of us grows younger,” replied his nephew with chill philosophy. “To be beaten on the eighteenth is sair wark,” McWham moaned. “Ten down and eight to play is worse,” observed Macara. “Aye, laddie, but to be stymied when ye’ve the game as good as won,” lamented the old man. “But, uncle, man, you’ve got to be a philosopher if you’re a golfer, else ye’re naething but a divot-cutter miscalled,” returned Macara. “A good man wi’ the putter has ways o’ twisting round a stymie. I mind Willie Park, at the Himalayas hole at Prestwick -” “Ne’er mind aboot Wullie Park!” snapped McWham. “Ye’ve got something on yir mind, John.” “Yes, I have,” said Macara. “First,
Mr. Warrender’s no business man, and kens as much about stockings as he does about the plumbing in the mansions of the New Jerusalem. Second, he’s solvent—no working capital, but a fair, old-fashioned plant, that can be put in shape not over expensive. Third, there’s a good mill in running order. Fourth, ye do not want a local rival if ye can help it. Fifth, ye’ve been crazy for years to have the two mills one. Sixth, ye’ll have to build soon, or demand will attend to the matter of supply, and there’ll be new folk here, and here’s a mill, not sixty feet away, in running order. I’ve as many heads to my discourse as a Free Kirk dominie.”
“Gang on, John,” said McWham, his head bent in thought.
“You’ll buy, or we’ll buy, Warrender out, lock, stock, and barrel, at fair valuation,” said Macara.
“Better let him crack. It’ll be cheaper under the sheriff’s hammer,“ suggested McWham.
“There’ll be no sheriff’s hammer,” replied Macara. “What would hurt the lassie badly would hurt me worse. That’s part of the price 'ymTH have to pay if I stay here. If we don’t buy as a firm, I’ll buy as John Macara.”
“Gang forrit, John McWham,” said the old man, attentive again.
“There’ll be enough money for Mr. Warrender to retire on comfortably. He’ll be able to live at his ease with his books and flowers,” explained Macara. “We will add a much needed mill to the business, and building costs money these days. That’s the way round the stymie. ‘ The Warrenders will be out, the two firms one, the old mill yours again. What more could any man want of ambition’s fulfilment this side Jordan’s flood? The point now to be settled is: McWham and Macara botí\ sides of the road, or McWham this side, Macara the other?”
“The one firm, John, for I’m an auld, auld man. Shake hands, laddie. Fix it wi’ Warrender as ye wull. What ye say goes. There’s no holding a lad that can win through oot of a bunker. Ask the bit lassie to come see me one day and tell me aboot bunkerin’ye. She’s juist the image o’ her mother. Aye, John, get wed sune. I’m an auld, auld man, the wee yins bring back the days that were as well as promise for those to be. I was a wee bit disappointed at first, John, but I’m satisfied the noo.”
“That’s golf!” said John, in high commendation, and taking up his hat, he stepped over the way, for he had seen a face at the other window.