EBB and FLOW
C. W. STEPHENS
A NEW SERIAL STORY
Author of "Man and Wife"
OUTSIDERS had always taken it for granted that Richard Chipperfield and Edith Barnsley would one day marry. It seemed one of those cool, fore-ordained arrangements that have been within the public knowledge so long that all spice of romance has died out of them. Ste. Brunhilde society was accustomed to resolve itself into a kind of matrimonial bureau whose business it was to sort out the eligibles of the opposed sexes and pair them off appropriately. Now and again, naturally, the plans went wrong, Cupid being an erratic kind of person, and a girl and a man would break out of the orderly Noah’s Ark procession, fall rather absurdly in love with each other—that was the popular view—and that was the end of them, as far as the bureau was concerned.
When the small Chipperfield was in petticoats and Edith Barnsley in long clothes, it was said that they were obviously destined for one another— as if there was such a thing as obviousness in affairs matrimonial. When she was in short frocks and he in knickerbockers, the obviousness of the thing was again pointed out. There came a day when she put up her hair and let down her skirts, and he bloomed into his first Sunday tail coat and tall hat. The thing then was as clear as daylight that the next step would be ‘‘The Voice that Breathed o’er Eden,” the bells and orange blossoms.
Edith’s father was the manager of the Dearnside Mining Company; Richard’s male parent had been, in his lifetime, Secretary and Treasurer of the company. The latter lived long enough to see his son established as boss of the Mining Company’s mills. The two families represented the upper crust of S'e. Brunhilde society. People said that young Richard— he was one of those serious, estimable young men who would never be called Dick—had business in his blood ; certainly he had it in some part of his make-up. When he was at school he had a reputation for long-headedness that brought him more than once under the castigation of an unappreciative master. He was a keen trader, and with a ridiculously small stake could manage to separate his companions from their choicest possessions. At that time folks said the Lord, or somebody else, had meant him to be a lawyer. He had an excellent opinion of himself, and was the unlikeliest kind of man to do anything in the least degree romantically foolish. If he married, the girl would have to possess something besides a pleasing apDearance and sweet disposition. Edith was not likely to have much money, as the Barnsleys were reputed to live up to the last cent of the five thousand a year salary the head of the house received, but there was much, in the way of business advancement, that the General Manager of the Company might be able to do for a worthy and enterprising son-in-law.
Still, Richard was not an impulsive young man. By the time Edith was two'and twenty they had been thrown together a great deal in the small social circle of Ste. Brunhilde. They attended the same parties, went to the same church where they sang in the choir. They danced, played five hundred, played tennis and golf together.
Sometimes Richard very nearly came to the point. A young man, even one like R chard Chipperfield, has his weak moments when brought into contact with a very pleasant and very pretty girl, and there came crises when he was very nearly over the precipice. He had always thought it rather tough luck that John Barnsley, Edith’s father, should be so extravagant. With his income properly administered, his prospectée father-in-law ought to have had something laid by, out of which to furnish a dot to a daughter; but it was well known that he had nothing. Romance was very pretty, but to Richard it rather lacked sustaining elements. Richard had never taken much stock in it. He had never spoken directly to Edith of love. In school days he had never carried her books. His furious jealousy had never been roused by amatory glances thrown at her by other small boys. He had never achieved a black eye or bloody nose in rebuking trespassers on his assumed preserve.
Never for a moment did he doubt that if he crooked his beckoning finger, Edith wrould rush to him as for her life. When the temptation to give the signal surged within his bosom, prudence always suggested the dark possibility that, if he did invite hér to share his lot, there would, the day after, come flitting out of the world beyond, some charmer with money beyond the dreams of present avarice. That would be nothing less than tragic. Lots of deserving young men, who might have picked up something really luscious in the matrimonial market, had come a cropper through being too romantically impulsive. The thought operated as a wet blanket on the kindlng fires within his bosom.
TT was Saturday afternoon, and a wonderful Satur-
day afternoon in late Spring. The poet intimates that in the Spring the dove begins to assume Easterly radiance, and that at the same season love-frivolity disports itself within the heart of the average young man. This particular afternoon there was a tender softness in the winds, the sun shone brilliantly, yet there was a cool vivacity in the air. The lake was a mimic sea of turbulent little waves, with here and there a white-cap among them. They looked like blue-clad water sprites revelling in the water from the pure joy of living. Edith and Richard were playing golf. They were standing on the tee going to the seventh. It was a nice kind of a tee, if you were playing a single with a nice kind of girl. There were trees, forming a semi-circle behind it—nice screeny trees. You could peep through them and see the flashing waters below, if you wanted to see flashing waters, which, under the circumstances, you probably didn’t. Then too, the seventh was a blind hole. There was no long, flat vista ahead, on which could be seen a dozen foozling players, always looking back for fear you might drive into them. It was an artistic, thoughtfully designed tee, with a hill rising sharply before it over which you had to loft with your iron.
Edith had the honor, as she usually had, for she could beat Richard handily at golf. She wore a smart little blue skirt, not too long and she had very pretty ankles, and small, neatly shod feet. Her trim white blouse, open at the throat, was neat and fetching. She was hatless, and her hair was a pretty brown. Her golfing style was distinctly good. The easy, graceful abandon of her swing made her driving a picture, tlchard wished he had a camera that would give him a picture of her as she stood poised for an instant, before whipping the ball off the little hummock of sand.
Really, Mr. Chipperfield thought, this dallying of his over the big business, was not in the least efficient. If they were to be married, as of course they were,
what time better to fix things up than the present? There did not seem any sound reason to the contrary. Better get it over and settle down.
“Come on, Richard,” said Edith, marvelling a little at his absent-minded dilatoriness. “The pair behind will be coming up directly.”
He knew she was speaking of golf, but there seemed to be something in tune with hour, place, and mood, in her words. He advanced, tee’d his ball, then turned and looked at her. The fateful words were on his lips. She looked at him as if apprehensive that he might be about to have a stroke of some kind.
“Edith,” he said, “I’ve been thinking — thinking very seriously -” She smiled en-
couragingly ; Richard always
did a lot of thinking.
“Thinking about what?” she asked innocently. “Well, anyway drive off. You can tell me what you’ve been thinking about as we walk along.”
“But -” he
temporized. Then he stopped from a natural impulse. Wasn't he being a little too precipitate? She was distract ing, and a Spring day, a tree and hill screened
spot, a girl who is very agreeable -! Well,
they are apt to disturb reason and cold logic. They say he who hesitates is lost. Sometimes that is so, and again, in ether cases, he is found. The foflowing paé came along the path through the trees. Richard made a hasty shot, wrecked it, and off they went.
After that the love project was shelved. You can’t talk love to the nicest girl satisfactorily when a couple of blatant idiots behind are bawling “Fore!” every ten seconds or so. Richard knew they were doing it to put him off hrs stroke, not because they were in the least hurry. He could see them, as he cast angry looks back between foozling shots, sitting on the tee puffing at pipes, every now and again bellowing “Fore!” after the manner of lusty calves who had lest their mothers in a fog.
He didn’t tell her what he had been thinking about,' and, indeed* had barely recovered his poise when they finished the game. He had it in nrnd to ask her to walk back with him through the woods. Then he would settle things. He knew a nice shady corner where it could be all fixéd up in no time. On his way to the Club House, a mine man stopped him, and Edith walked on slowly.
“Heard the news?” asked his friend.
“No, what news?” Richard responded.
“Great doings. The merger’s rone through. All fixed up finally yesterday. There’ll be revolution down here. Six companies made into one. New Board of -Directors—city men, Toronto, Montreal, New York, regular dividend hounds. Some of the folks round this way will have to sit up and take notice. There, will be changes, boy! A lot of those who thought they had warm billets for life will be thinking that dynamite’s popped under them.”
Richard thought that the eyes of his friend glanced rather meaningly toward Edith Barnsley, as if hinting that the parental head of the Barnsley family might be in some danger. And Richard, warm as was the day, shivered. He had almost been too precipitate. It would be as well to wait and see how the new order of things worked. If Barnsley should happen to lose his position in the new shuffle, well—the world would be not quite the same.
TTE did not take Edith home by the woods,, but let *■ -*-her go with some of her friends. It was a nuisance, for she was a nice kind of a girl, and he liked her very much, but—well, love’s a sensitive thing, and apt to catch cold if it stands too lon’g in a draught. If it should happen that John Barnsley lost his position and salary-
The thought was appalling. The man was over fifty, and five thousand dollar jobs were not to be picked up every day in that part of the world. Besides, Richard did not think a great deal of the abilities of the manager. The fact was that he did not have a very high opinion of anyone’s powers save his own. He would be sorry for Edith, if anything did go wrong.
It was rough oh a girl to have an improvident father.
And, while all this profound thought was going on , in Richard’s mind, Edith was wondering a little. She knew the expectations regarding herself and the hope of the Chipperfield family. Friends teased her sometimes about him, after the fashion they have. She had had a sort of intuition on the seventh tee that he was on the verge of a proposal, a girl has an extra sense by which she apprehends these matters. He had been unusually mellow up to the time he met his friend, putting the irritation caused by the bawlers out of mind. She wondered what had brought about the chill in the atmosphere. Perhaps she was a little disappointed. There had been times when the talk of her affairs with Richard had been rather annoying, and then he had sometimes let it appear, perhaps unconsciously, that he imagined that as soon as hè should be pleased to drop the handkerchief, she would rush to pick it up. No girl likes to think that a man regards her as cheap and easy. But she wondered, a little disappointedly, what had cooled the atmosphere.
MRS. BARNSLEY knew that something was wrong the moment her husband entered the house that evening. He was a good-looking man in his fiftysecond year, with reddish complexion and greying moustache and hair. His light tweed clothes were smartly cut, giving him the appearance of a comfortably off country magnate who understood how to take life easily, and was in circumstances that enabled him to do so. When matters went smoothly he was as good-natured as he looked, but, like mcst worth-while men, he had his peppery side. This evening it was plain to so skilled an observer as his wife that something had put him out. He went at once to his room, washed and brushed up in record time, then came down to the dining-room with a very perceptible chip on his shoulder. The table was laid, so he had no chance tc grouch about delay. Mrs. Barnsley furnished an excellent table for the family, and heihusband was r man who appreciated the agreeable things or life.
The room was large and well furnished, after a solid, substantial fashion. The. windows, open this beautiful Spring evening, gave a charming view of lawn, flower garden, orchard and lake. On the farther side *of the water was the camp town, a place of some five thousand people. It straggled untidily up the side of a long, steep hill, near the top of which were the mines of the Dearnside Company, of which Mr. Barnsley had been the manager for the better part of ten years. Barnsley was a mining engineer, and had been a hustler in his earlier days. He had engineered the promotion of the Dearnside Company, taking as fee for his labors, besides a money commission, the managership for a period of years. This contract had expired, but he had held on to his place afterwards without further rgreament. It was an easy position, and, finding himself on velvet, he had snuggled his shoulders into the downy couch, made it fit him admirably, and appreciated life—the simple life. Who wouldn’t, in his place? Five thousand a year in the country before the high cost of living keyed things up, a fine house rent free, and lots of pleasant privileges and perquisites. There was no pleasanter country for a man who loved the world of out-doors, and did not think that city streets and lamp-posts, theatres and cabarets, were essential to human happiness. Barnsley loved to drop a fly over the rising spot of a trout, troll for maskilonge, squint along the barrel of a gun, spend week-ends at his fishing camp. The man who pretends to despise these delights, and professes that he prefers the application of the whirling grindstone of industry t"1 his nose, is a liar, in apostolic language, and the truth is not in him. Most of us work because we have to, and if we didn't have to there would be fifty jobs for everybody, with few takers. Barnsley was a good man to work for, so the men said. He gave to others, so far as disfcipiinary decency would allow, the same indulgence he claimed for himself. The officers of the company were a band of brothers, of sorts. Of course there were little differences now and again, since many of them were married. The ladies would have friction on church matters, choir affairs, or points of social precedence, but the men, as far as permitted, lived in reasonable peace and amity. The fact was, as any member of the staff would explain, it was not like the staff of an ordinary business house, and socially it was a classy affair.
Coulson, the book-keeper, for instance, held his position because he had married a relative of one of the company’s directors; and so it obtained throughout the place. Even the mature office boy was a kind of remittance man. He had made a hash of things at
College, coming away without a degree at the insistent i’equest of the Faculty. Being unable to secure a really congenial position in the hard, cold world, among unrefined folk, something had to be done for him by h s relatives, lest he earn notoriety and spot the family scutcheon by dying* of starvation. So he had been sent down to Ste. Brunhilde, where he affixed the stamps to the outgoing mail, and chaperoned the postbag twice a day to and from the post office. All the office men had been born with expectations, but had been switched from the track by one little thing or another. They had the dignity of men with promising pasts, and you never realized fully how classy they were until you heard their women folk hold forth on their family genealogical trees. The Barnsleys were at the head of the society of the community. Nobody questioned that.
One would have to travel far before finding a pleasanter woman than Mrs. Barnsley, a comely woman nearing the fifties, quiet, shrewd, hospitable, homeloving. They had three children. Edith, the elde t, Nancy, four years younger, and a boy, Jack Junior, in his twelfth year. Nancy was her father’s favorite, pert, pretty, lively, just about launching out, after College, on a pleasant campaign of her own, in which friends and amusements played prominent parts. Edith was more serious than Nancy. She was fond of housework and being the eldest of the family, had been able to indulge her hobby all she desired. Then she had at one time taken an odd notion to go away and take a course at a business college. That had been the one eccentric thing of her entire life. When she came back she bought a typewriter, and, whenever she wanted a real bit of indoor sport—so Nancy used to say—she would go up to her room and revel in stenographic exercises, which were irreverently cal1 1 ’“pothooks” within the family circle, or would pound away on the typewriter as Nancy played ragtime. She was a funny girl, so the general opinion ran, and just suited for a driving, unroniantic parson like Richa.d Chipperfield.
THEN Mr. Barnsley came into the dining room, adorned with the shoulder chip, as aforesaid, Nancy was at the piano playing a ragtime lament whose burden was:
Coon, Coon, Coon, I wish my colox-’d fade.
Coon, Coon, Coon, I’d lak a different shade.
Jack Junior was on the lawn with a catapult, pretending to slay sparrows, though the birds were in >~uch less danger than the windows of the conservatory.
“Hello, dad!” exclaimed Nancy, ceasing to meurn her sable color. “You look as if somebodv had stroked your fur the wrong way.”
“Is dinner ready?” her father demanded, heed’ees of hei observation.
“Yes. everything is on the table, or ready to put on,” his wife replied.
They ranged themselves about the mahogany -n their accustomed places, and the meal proceeded. Ordinarilv they were the liveliest family at meals, but the father’s looks appeared to blanket them all this evening, except perhaps Nancy.
“Rather like a Quaker’s meeting.” she observed. “By the way, dad, I was in town this afternoon, and I’d like some money, please. There's the smartest Summer outing dress at the Bon Marche, and it might have been made specially for me. I shall want one for the picnic at Lake Joseph, next week. Th^y wished me to take it and have it charged, but I had a conscience, for once. Wasn’t I self-denying? Edith was lecturing me the other dav about the extravagance of charging things, and I think there is
EDITOR’S Note.—Mr. Stephens' story “Man and Wife,” concluded in the June number, was a very popular one with readers of MACLEAN’S. Repeated inauiries have been received as to when this story will come out in book form. Inasmuch as it did not run to book length it is not likely that it will appear in that form, but we are glad to be able to announce that other Stephens stories will appear in MACLEAN S. “Ebb and Flow” will be found quite as interesting as “Man and Wife”
reason in what she said. They wanted thirty-five dollars for the dress, but I can get it for thirty-two,
I am sure, if I have the cash. I won’t want a hat,” she went on self-denyingly, “you don’t need them in the woods or on the water. Just thirty-two dollars, daddy, so please hand over and smile.”
She clenched her small fist, outstretching two fingers to represent the barrel of a hold-up gun.
“Do you think I’m made of money?” her father asked. They had all heard him make the same inquiry a hundred times before, so it had not much effect.
“No, dear, or I might be tempted to spend yôu, and then I’d want you back afterwards,” said the little minx.
“There will have to be much less spending from now on—a great deal less,” her father observed with ominous deliberateness. “There has been a great change, and I don’t know yet what the precise outcome is going to be.”
“What did you have for lunch, dad?” asked Nancy. “Really you should come home for it. You know everything they cook at the hotel positively swims in grease, and always makes you glum and economical.”
“Nancy!” her mother rebuked. The slip of a girl would say things to her father that the mother in her liveliest moments would never dream of speaking.
“Things have got to be altered,” continued Mr. Barnsley. “The amalgamation has gone through, and we live in' a different world. A revolution has swept over the place, and we may be hit hardest of all.”
“Gracious, father!” exclaimed Nancy. Her ideas of revolutions were of mobs running wild, heads being chopped off, unfortunates stood against walis before firing squads. “What can you mean?”
“The amalgamation has gone through. The Dearnside Company exists no longer except as a part of the big new corporation,” he replied.
“Yes, I heard something about that in town, to-day,” Nancy went on. “But I thought that the amalgamation of the companies was a wonderfully progressive thing. Compet'tion would be done away with, and instead of half a dozen companies doing their best to cut each other’s throats in the price market, tberwould be just one big organization, having practical control of the market.”
“A revolution may be progressive, and yet hit the old order hard,” her father explained. “Do you realize what this will mean for those who have been employed by the half-dozen indenendent companies? There w:i’ be one firm instead of six, one office with one staff instead of half a dozen, one big king instead of ha’f a dozen lesser ones. It means that those who had friends at Court, on the old boards, will be without them. The new board will be a different propositan. On the old ones, the members were, as a rule, personal friends, the employees closely identified with the employers. But now all that’s gone. The employees will be just cogs in a wheel or wheels in a machine, their value measured by their utility. The personal element has gone.”
“But the new company will require managers just as the old ones did. There should be as good or better positions available,” said Edith. “You’ve been on the ground so long and are so familiar with the place and conditions that it might be even better for you, might
it not, father?” .
“One would have thought that experience locally would count,” replied her father, somewhat mollified.
“But, as a matter of fact, it does not appear to have done.
so. The general managership that I thought might possibly come my way has gone elsewhere. An outsider named Christie is being brought in at fifteen thousand a year. He’s a young man, I’m told, one of the modern school, a driver of the new efficiency type one hears so much about these latter days. It’ll be wfithin his power to cut off every head, make new rules, fix salaries afresh, reorganize everything. I may not hold my present position a month—nothing is certain.”
“You don’t really mean that, John,” his wife said fearfully, for the manner of her husband made her afraid.
. “I mean it absolutely,” he replied. “Everything is in the air. I may be continued in a subordinate position, or he mav turn me adrift. The latter, of course, is the natural thing, since the new king doesn’t usually care to have the old one round the premises. However, I’m not out a position yet, but, Nancy, my girl, get rid of thoughts about new picnic dresses and money
THE Dearnside Company’s office was the kind that Noah may have been supposed to have had in the ark. It was palntiai o *t • ardlv.
Dearnside management had been extravagant in its
buildings; more veranda than house about their erections. Inisde it was furnished after the early-Victorian manner. The desks and stools might have come straight out of Dickens’ Messrs. Cheeryble Brothers office, high, spindle-legged affairs, as if to take the clerks into the realms of high finance and business. The office was a free-for-all kind of place, and next to the hotel lobby, the most popular gossip shop in the town. Anybody who happened to stroll that way, with nothing much on mind or hands, just dropped in, took a seat, smoked and chatted, chewed and spat, as habit and inclination dictated. One could hear more news of the town than the local paper printed in a month in a quarter of an hour’s call at Dearn«ide’s. When the morning mail was brought up, politics, sport and world affairs were discussed and adjusted. If you wanted a good story, that was the place to find it. Each man considered it his duty to bring in a reasonably fresh one every day or so. It was a co-operative humorists’ club. There were fishing tales and hunting tales, and other kinds of tales. With visitors in the wicker arm chairs that took up the main portion of the middle of the floor, and the clerks, backs to their desks, pens stuck behind their ears, the place was a kind of Areopagus where men gathered, as did the Athenians of old on Mars Hill, “to tell or hear some new thing.” Coulson, the book-keeper was a man of rather pretty wit. Being the head of. the office it was incumbent on the rest to laugh at his jokes. He had been in the lumber business, but it had disappeared from beneath him, and then he got into Dearnside’s office through pull. He was one of the old school—vintage round 1850. He kept the books after a quaintly antique manner, and wrote the letters, being reputed to have a neat literary style, and being a good penman. Wrote them— one uses the words advisedly, for he hated the newfangled way of machine correspondence. A typewriter was an abomination in his eyes, a sure indication of the growing slothfulness of the age. It was an insult, he believed, to write a letter on a machine, showed no proper respect, besides dwarfing the writer’s individuality. What character could there be in a machine? Nothing like the personality displayed in penmanship. He used one kind of pen, and one kind of ink. When the letters were written they were copied in a creaky old press that appeared to be about the date of the arrival of Christopher Columbus.
Mr. Barnsley was away one particular bright and cheery day. The mail train was late, and did not arrive till two in the afternoon. It was about twenty minutes later when a stranger put in his appearance. He was a young man, about thirty to judge by looks, smartly dressed after a city fashion. A live-wire sort of person he appeared to be, possibly some drummer, new to the country, who had drifted along.
The office did not approve of casual drummers. There were the regular ones who had called once a month or thereabouts for years. These latter were welcomed, a wicker chair was at their disposal, and they carried vest-pocketfuls of cigars that were distinctly above the stogie brand. They were free, too, with the cigars, and usually had a nice little tale or two, picked up in the course of their acquaintance with cities and men.
Outsiders, however, were not encouraged at Dearnside’s. They were classed with book agents, and beggars who insisted on exhibiting their sores and sending round the hat, pour la charité.
The new-comer halted at the counter.
“Mr. Barnsley in?” he inquired somewhat brusquely.
“Not yet,” said Coulson rather peevishly, for he hated to be interrupted in his narrations. “And so,” he resumed. “I had three flies on the cast, a Brown Montreal, a Parmachene Belle, and a Silver Doctor for leader. I cast, whipped two or three times, and then there was a pull as if I’d a whale on. Believe me or not, it nearly dragged me out of the boat. And, by gcsh ! there were three of them on, one for each fly, and the smallest not a fraction less than a pound and a half.”
“When do you expect Mr. Barnsley in?” asked the impatient visitor.
“Can’t tell. May be ten minutes or two hours,” snapped Coulson. “Leave* a card or a message, if you like, or else sit down and make yourself as happy as you can.”
“I’m in a hurry,” said the stranger.
“Shouldn’t be. Thunderingly hot day,” observed the office boy. “Any little thing I can do for you?”
“Yes, show me the manager’s office, and find out where Mr. Barnsley is, quick. I’m Christie,” said the stranger.
There was consternation in massy clouds in the skies. Followed on this a deft sliding and slithering on tall stools, and after this the scratching of pens, exceeding all speed records. Coulson stood his ground courageously, though a little pale.
“How do you do, Mr. Christie, welcome to Ste. Brunhilde. Mr. Barnsley isaway but may be back within an hour or so. He’s a busy man, here, there, and everywhere, as one might say. Charming weather for the time of year, is it not?”
T'HE office thought that while the new king might be a live-wire and a hustler in his way, he lacked something of the savoir faire that the business men of the old time were renowned for. He looked inside aud outside the office. He was inquisitive in a sharp, jerky way as a living interrogation mark might be. His eyes were of the gimlet variety, and he had a steel trap sort of mouth that had on the upper lip a short, bristly, aggressive moustache. His talk was all questioning. He gave back no exchange remark and neither praised nor condemned. There was no criticism from him. He was a veritable hunting hound for information, and whether it pleased or displeased him nobody could tell. So came the new king into h:s kingdom.
'C'VERYBODY talked about new brooms and their way of sweeping clean at first, but this broom did no immediate sweeping of any consequence, contrary to expectations. The weeks went bv, and then a month—two—three, without any notable change. No salary was cut, no head lopped off. True the conversaziones in the office were abandoned, and the wicker chairs were banished, but these alterat'ons were in the way of voluntary concessions of Coulson to the new spirit of the times.
The new man was a perfect fiend for statistics and facts. He had to know every day to a pound what pits and mills were turning out. When the people of the town had just begun to laugh at the evil prognostications his coming had adduced, and to feel that they had been needlessly alarmed, Christie started in to do a little bit of sweeping, and presently house-cleaning was on in full blast. He began with a detailed and elaborate stocktaking o ƒ
the corporation. Every scrap and stick was inventoried. If the company owned a pair of chick is they had to go down on the list; All the house property of the concern was gone over, valued and the figures put down. Every little pile of scrap iron went into the reckoning. Then began the ments and cleaning up. He took Barnsley into the office one morning, and talked things over. First the office was discussed.
“Fossils of a remote geological age,” said Christie. “There’s going to be a new head. No, I don’t mean to scrap the others without giving them a chance. They need a live man at the top, brains instead of just a headpiece to look at. If the rest fall into line, all right, if they don’t they’ll make way for those who will, but they’ll have a show. Coulson’s three thousand will be reduced to two, and there will be a whittling down of the rest. Now about the house property. We’ve over two hundred houses. Anybody that wants one just squats down on it, and when he’s got a house rent free, he thinks lie’s a vested right to water and electric light and the services of a carpenter or two to keep the place in order. We’re keeping cows and horses for half the staff. That’s all to be done way with. Every 'house has to bring in rent. Where men have been hired and allowed to take one, an allowance will be made in the pay, but the new men hired will just get ordinary wages and pay rent. Not a wisp of hay, not a handful of grain, goes out on this free farm business. And all these scores and scores of tons of scrap have to be turned into money.”
They were revolutionary moves, but Barnsley knew in his heart that they were all just and right. The way in which the property of the" old company had been wasted was a disgrace. It had become a system that everybody fell in with. He blamed himself for not having made the changes long ago, but he had let himself get into a groove, and things had slid along any way. One thing he admired about the new king was his fairness in handling the men. He fired nobody on his past record, blaming the system rather than the man, and gave each one a chance to make good under the new regime.
When they got through about everything else, Christie came abruptly to the matter that had long been uppermost in Barnsley’s mind—his own relation to the new order of things. The ex-manager did not see where he could be placed, and the reflection had given him many a wakeful night. The pit boss had been retained. ; Chipperfield in the mills was holding on—and neither man had been cut in salary. It seemed as if Christie had taken to Chipperfield, who was a hustler, ambitious, and, in a not too obtrusive way, obsequious. The new king was not above using a man of this type. He appeared to size him up at once as one who was keen to stick to his job, and ready to please his over-lord no matter the kind of duty he was asked to perform. Chipperfield was a born intriguer, and, always out after the main chance, and made himself useful to the seeker of information about everything that was going on round the place. As a commanding general uses secret service, so Christie had use for one who could give him sidelights on current happenings.
“Now as to yourself, Barnsley,” said the chief. “I’ve given it a lot of thought, and have. come to a decision, the best I can. I don’t want you to feel hurt, but, you see you and I, in a way conflict. I am here to do on a six-mine scale what you did in one. Of course you may have other plans and would like to get away.” “No, I have done nothing yet,” Barnsley answered.
“Well then, I want to tell you just what I can do,” the other continued. “I’m creating a new position. I want a man to take a lot of the routine work off my hands. It’ll be his duty to give an eye to the entire field, to go round it continually, sort of co-ordinate reports on the work, see where the hitches are, suggest changes that might make for improved general efficiency, and help to get the whole organization running to its best advantage. Such a man will act as my assistant, without executive authority. You know I can pick up a score of amb -tious youngsters, well-qualified, hustlers, who would jump at the chance of making good with a big corporation like ours in the expectation of making the job a jumping-off place for a really worth-while position. You’re getting five thousand and a house. I can’t pay anything like that. Twenty-five hundred will be the salary, with no house; and if you wanted to retain your present residence, the rent would be thirty a month. We can make no exceptions in the renting rule.” .'•> >
“That means that the net salary would be round twenty-two hundred,” said Barnsley reflectively.
Continued on page 59
Ebb and Flow
Continued, from page 18
"Just about that,” said the other.
Barnsley made no reply for some moments. It was on his tongue to refuse at once. Though he had been expecting nothing better, possibly something worse, his pride revolted against all that the tremendous reduction would mean. He had been king.
This youngster before him, the man who had stepped into his shoes, was more than, twenty years his junior. He, Barnsley, had been starting out as a fully fledged mining engineer when this lad was born, and now—! He reflected on the irony of the situation. Christie had come of poor folks, few advantages had been his, but he had made himself, advancing swiftly and surely by grit, courage, strength. ■ He, Barnsley, had started out well, with some money and more influence at his back. He had been in the saddle, firmly established, as be had thought, but had taken things easily, lost much of his grip and force, and had been unseated, thrown aside. , , ,
Twenty-two hundred dollars—and when the other privileges incidental to the free house were taken away, as they would be, the salary would be a couple of hundred less than that. It meant that his income had been sliced down by twothirds.
“I know it must seem small, and 1 can understand your feelings,” said Christie, with more sensibility and consideration in his tone than Barnsley had thought him capable of. “I suppose that when a man comes to middle life, be does not look at such a position m the same way that a younger man would. Still the thing has to be looked at from a practical standpoint. A younger man would take the small opportunity and make something bigger out of it, but—well, you can’t very well set the clock back. I want a man who will want, and fight, to make the bigger thing out of it. I don’t hold altogether with the common view that when a man gets to middle life, he should be scrapped. The point is, has he got the fight in him, or has he made up his mind tnat he’s a back number? If he thinks so, no amount of opportunity will be any use to him. If he forgets the clock, has the confidence in himself that is wanted, and has ambition, he, with his experience, should be a better man than one who has his experience to gam. What I mean is that everything depends on the man himself, what be thinks of his own powers. The men, I find, who drop out in middle life, are not driven out by anything but their own verdict on themselves, which, of course, the world has to adopt. If one thinks he can go no further, and virtually quits, you can’t blame the rest of the world for assuming that he knows best ab^ut what he is.
“This job that’s offered you is not charity, not consideration for you, but it’s a chance to make good in the big-
Îer sense. Perhaps, you may think that , a much younger man, oughtn’t to speak to you in this way, as it is no concern of mine, but I want you to look at it in my light, if you can.”
TIfITH all his hurt pride, and sometí thing of jealousy, Barnsley did not •dislike Ewan Christie, nor did he resent what he said. He knew that what the other man advanced as to candidates for the position was true. For a younesfcer it would be a great opening. It might be possible for him to pick up something better, but there was a great deal of doubt as to that. He had not made a conspicuous success of the position he had held. There were a hundred ways, he had seen siftce coming into contact with Christie, in which he could have made a bare success a b:g one. That was generally known. If he had made the best of his opportunities it would not have been necessary to bring a new man in. Of course, in making the appointment, the new Board had taken into consideration the available men on the spot. He had lost out on his record, and it would not help him to find another suitable place.
Then he was not sure of nimself, he
knew he had lost grip. He wasn’t the man he had been, and the deterioration had been brought about by slackness. He was touchy, too, about his age. It is late before a man who has been active and vigorous, and still feels young, will acknowledge to himself that he is going back. At over fifty Barnsley felt that he was as good a man as ever he had been, but he knew that suen was not the impression of onlookers. John Barnsley felt in this moment of review, that the crisis in his life had come, that he was at the final parting of the ways.
In youth, if a man feels he has made a mistake, there is usually time to correct it. In middle-age, it is not so easy. Inspiration comes easily to youth. Life has usually administered little punishment as yet. There is a buoyancy of spirit, an assimilative power in taking blows, the gift of quick recovery after them, the ability to come back, that late life lacks. The biggest tragedies are those of middle-age, when a man is disposed to take what has gone as the final verdict and stop fignting. iS early every man quits too soon, often when the race is but half or two-thirds run, and quits when a chance still remains to make good. John Barnsley, in his moments of swift thought, felt that if he let go now, it would he practically a final decision. Could he. step down, take the lower place, and fight a young man’s fight, or the fight, rather, of a man young-spirited in spite of the discouraging tale of the years?
•Something within him said:
“You can’t step down in this way. You have some pride left in you. What will the world you’ve known say and think about it? Somehow you’ll manage to scrape along to the finish. Take this kid’s job and the whole town that has known you as you were will laugh you to scorn. It’s the crust thrown to the man who has nothing left wherewith to buy his own loaf.”
“I’d like a day or two to think it over,” he said to Christie. “It means a good deal to a man with a family.” “Sure it does,” the other replied. “Take a few days.”
BARNSLEY was very silent that evening at dinner. When the meal was over he went alone into his den. Presently he called his wife in, and Edith came with her.
He was standing with his back to the hearth when they entered.
“Well,* the thunderbolt fell to-day,” he said. “Christie had a talk with me. He was fair enough, even considerate, much more so than I believed him capable of. You see, there is really no place for me as the staffs have been arranged before. But there is a new position, a kind of assistant managership without executive power. It would be all right for a young man with ambition as to the future. The salary is only twenty-five hundred a year, and out of that rent would have to be paid and I should no longer have some of the incidentals such as water and light. It is practically little better than a two thousand job.” Then he stopped.
“What reply did you give, John?” asked his wife anxiously.
“My first impulse was to decline, and then I asked time for consideration. I haven’t decided yet whether it was mean and snivelling of me or not, he replied.
“But there are other positions, out-
ide, father,” said Edith.
“Yes, there may be,” he said. And et, it loomed up before me, rather disouragingly, that I was past fifty. I Lad never realized before, fully, what hat grim fact really means. Then,
igain, I remembered that I was pracically a discarded man. If I should Lpply for another position, it would íe kept in mind that I wasnt con idered good enough to hold my former ob. A superseded manager is like a .kipper who has lost his ship—there’s he black mark set against him. Then, igain, we’ve nothing saved. We’ve
ived up to the last cent of our income, ind if I quit, I’d step out with nothing.” Mrs. Barnsley could not have quite
explained it to herself why she was not more depressed than she felt by reason of the announcement. She had expected worse news. None knew better than she the quick pride of her man. Yet he was taking it well, gravely, bravely. A few years back be would have snapped his fingers at such an offer, and gone out to take chances. She was not really afraid of being poor. For the moment she thought more of the change in the man than in the money situation.
“I think one ought to consider carefully before di-opping a reduced certainty for a doubtful hope,” she said. “Of course it is for you to make the decision, but you must not let thoughts of us influence you. We could live cn the reduced salary, if we had to, couldn’t w'e, Edith?”
“Of course we could,” Edith replied. “And then one never knows what it might lead to,” said Mrs. Barnsley encouragingly. “It isn’t as if you were an old man, John. Probably it would be just a little temporary set-back, and presently we would come up again.”
The maid in the kitchen called Edith, and she left the room. Barnsley drew his wife down to the sofa by his side, and took her hand.
“Then you say I am to take it, Grace?” he asked.
“I think you should,” she replied. “Don’t you think so?”
“It is a big come-down,” he said ruefully. “I was -disposed at first to turn it down, but there were lots of things to consider. It wasn’t so much the money end that troubled me, though that was serious enough. Something told me that my pride wouldn’t let me take an inferior position, and then the whole thing seemed to take another slant. Something prideful in me answered the first thought, and it said:
“ ‘Tackle the job, and show them that you can master the grim facts of the come-down and the fifty odd years.’ Christie said it was an ideal position for a young man, or a man with young thoughts about himself. I’ve muddled things. I know. It’s no use kicking about Christie being put over me, that’s where he ought to be. He’s a hundred per cent, efficient, and I feel bis superiority every day. Something be said to me about a man in middle-life not being put to the mat by outward circumstances, but getting there because he voluntarily laid down, roused me. He was right—right in my case. I have been making too much of the years, taking things too readily for granted, and,
I believe there’s a big fight in me yet. foolish old man’s egotism, I guess.”
“It is nothing of the sort,” She replied. “If you believe in yourself as much as we do—I believe in you—you will win out of this small difficulty. It wrould be a far greater humiliation to my pride in you if you resigned just because of this reverse, than if you held on, and we had to live differently, and occupy a different position than formerly. We’ll give you all the help we can in the home here, hut, there’s something I want to say. I’ve got to be taken in as financial partner. No more charge accounts, no more random ordering. You give me a hundred and twenty-five a month and you’ll see how things can be managed. It will be like a new beginning, a clean, fresh start after twenty-five years of married life. The children will hack us up, you’ll see. They’ve been in some ways a little careless and extravagant about money, but that’s our fault, not theirs. They are really gritty children, and sacrifice and effort will be the greatest thing possible for them.”
“I’ve been afraid that the come-down would hurt them,” he said. “Their standing in the place will not be the same, and. perhaps, there will be times when they’ll feel it.”
“You don’t know them, perhaps, as well as I do,” his wife smiled. “They needed something like this to bring out the best in them. Edith, of course, has always been reliable.”
“What about her and Richard Chipperfield?” he asked suddenly.
“I don’t know,” she answered. “Probably it was more the talk of the place than anything else. Of course she never speaks about such matters.”
“I don’t sse him round here aa^^pch as h'e used to be,” he said.
“No, he very rarely, comes,” she replied. : ’
“I’ve noticed the change in him since Christie came more than in anyone else in town,” he observed. “He fawns on Christie every chance he gets, and instead of the old affability he used to display toward me there is something in his manner that implies I’m not what I used to be. Perhaps I’m unduly sensitive. Do you think Edith takes notice or cares?”
“It would be hard to say,” the wife replied. “She doesn’t wear her heart on her sleeve, and you may trust her to look after her own dignity when it’s necessary. Perhaps Richard assumed too much.”
“Then I am to say that I’ll take the place?” he concluded. And there the discussion ended.
“I’ve-thought your offer over,” he said next day to Christie. “I’m obliged to you for it, and would like to accept.”
“Good!” said Christie. “I had a sort of notion you might. Now about—” And without further observation on the personal matter, they plunged into work.
EDITH chose a time of the day when she knew her father would be away from the office on a trip to one of the more distant mines. She was shown into the private office of Mr. Christie. Presently he came bustling in through the private side door. He saw a small, neatly figured girl awaiting him. She was dressed very trimly, skirt and blouse and tie all very becoming in a quiet, rather stylish way. He had a swift impression that she looked a nice, sensible kind of a girl, despite her prettiness. *116 decided in his own mind as he gave her a stiffish little bow that she would produce a book and pencil, proceed to explain that the minister s gown was worn out, and that really he must have a new one, or that a testimonial was to be presented to the most worthy organist, and would Mr. Christie please—and so forth. He was figuring on how much it would cost to get rid of her nicely.
“I called in reference to your advertisement for typist and stenographer,” she began. Then, she was not on blessed charity bent. The smile vanished from his face and he was the business man, the live wire person, the efficiency expert, on his guard lest errant sympathies would permit something to be put over on him.
“Yes,” he said shortly, dropping into a chair. She was not a girl, but a candidate cog in the machine. It was strict business from now on. “I had -the notion*of a man in mind.”
“I think I am competent,” she advanced, iri her quiet way.
“Experienced?” he asked gruffly.
“If you mean have I held a position before—No,” she replied. “I am qualified though. Here are my certificates from the Business College at—”
“Don’t want to see them,” he interrupted her intention to hand to him a •beribboned roll. “Certificates are about the most misleading things in the world. I’ve had more diploma’d and certificated noodles apply to me for positions than any other kind.”
She looked somewhat indignant, as if he had included her among the noodles.
“Efficieney would suggest a practical test,” she fired back at him. He looked up sharply, as if something had stung the least bit. She didn’t look like a
hit-back kind of girl, but those cool grey eyes had a kind óf fighting look in them, not peppery or gingery, but more of the steel rapier order. She was a girl, he guessed, who could hold her own should the necessity arise. Therefore he was interested.
“There’s a pad, here’s a pencil,” he said, indicating the articles. “Ready?” She nodded, and he fired off a letter at her at a rate his conscience rebuked him for, but she stood the gaff all right, to his surprise, without any request for mercy.
“There’s a machine.” He pointed to a typewriter. She went to it, and typed the letter expeditiously under his eyes, handing the product for his inpcction.
He ran his eyes over it carefully, hunting for slips. It had been a maliciously crafty letter, with “there” and “their” and “receive” and “achieve” in» it. She had come out all right, though, punctuated properly, spaced and margined neatly, and had a clear notion as to style. He sniffed and laid the sheet down.
“Deaf?” he inquired in machine-gun fashion. One of his grievances was that the modern typewriting girl has her hair skilfully arranged over her ears so as to screen them usefully. He detested the “What’s that, Mr. Christie?” drawled in professionally languid manner as he did the devil.
“Not at all,” she replied. He noticed that her hair, quite pretty brown hair, was swept back fi'om her temples above her ears. She had neat little ears too.
“Chew gum?” he demanded inquisitorially.
“No.” The reply was serious and emphatic.
“Spell?” he asked.
“Yes,” she answered with great confidence.
“Salary you think you ought to get?” he wanted to know.
“Eighty dollars a month to begin with,” she replied, her heart beating violently at thought of her rapacity.
“I can get my pick of the office full for half the money,” he said.
“Deaf, gum chewers, bad spellers probably,” she retorted gravely. Yes, she was a girl who did credit to her grey eyes.
“You can keep your tongue still?” he asked rather rudely it seemed.
“I think so,” she said with the faintest fi cker of a smile.
“What I mean is that some stenographers have the impression that office business is a suitable theme for conversation among their friends. My stenographer is a confidential employee, and a girl who must yap -” he re-
“I never yap,” she interrupted quite agreeably.
“I didn’t mean that,” he explained half apologetically. “Slipped out. You understand that what transpires here must not be carted outside.”
“I understand,” she said.
Then he took a good look at her. It was, a very impersonal look, and she did not in the least resent it; she was a stenographer and not a woman.
“Y’ou can try it,” he implied. “There’s your private' room through that door. It will be exclusively yours. I object to social callers, and we do not serve aftei’noon tea. The office staff will have nothing to do with your work, and you will have nothing to do with theirs. I shall pay you eighty a month, probably you will never get any more, but— we pay according to value. When can you start?”
“Now,” she replied.
To bè Continued.