EBB and FLOW
A Story of Men, Women and Mines
C. W. STEPHENS
Who Wrote “Man and Wife”
"PLACE in there for your hat and coat,” he said. She went into the other office, removed her hat and coat and returned equipped for business.
“By the way what’s your name?” he asked.
“Edith Barnsley,” she answered. A frown furrowed his forehead.
“Any relation of Mr. Barnsley of the Company?” he inquired.
“His daughter,” she replied.
' “I didn’t know that.” And he did not look over-pleased. “Does he know you were seeking this position?”
“No, I told no one. I called at this hour knowing he would be away,” he said.
“This is no picnic, amateur, or pull job,” he told her.
“No, I wasn’t expecting it w'ould be,” she answered. “I want the place, the money, and the work. If I can’t make good all you have to do is to—fire me.” She thought it a very unladylike expression, but when you are in Rome you do as the Romans do.
“Your father will not object?” he asked.
“No,” she replied with confidence.
Then he proceeded to rattle away with his dictation. It was a relief to have a stenographer who didn't want him to repeat things, or ask his opinion as to the correct spelling of an unusual word. He got through his mail in record time for the office.
“Your hours wjll be nine to five, with an hour off for luncheon,” he said. “We don’t like the watches of the staff to have disputes with the office clock. Good evening, Miss Barnsley.” And he went out to his car that wras waiting to take him to his rooms in town, a dozen miles away. Ste. Brunhilde saw little of him except at his work.
'T'DITH was a little late for supper that evening. It was so unusual for her to be unpunctual that the members of the family were inquisitive when she appeared.
“Where on earth have you been, Edie?” demanded Nancy, who had been impressed into extra kitchen work because of her sister’s absence.
Edith did not reply at once.
“Yes, a slice, a nice big one, of the beef, father,” she said to the head of the house. “I’m hungry as a bear.”
“But. where have you been?” he repeated Nancy’s question, smilingly.
“Working. I’ve got a situation, dad. Please pass the mustard, Jack.” She fired with botn barrels.
“A what?” demanded Nancy.
“Situation—job, in the vulgar tongue.”
Edith replied. “The Company advertised for tvpist and stenographer and got it-—-I’m the ‘it’.”
“ Stenographer ! ” rather stupefied. Nearly a thousand “Now, will you
hooks and sonatas on the typewriter?”
“You should have spoken to me about it first, Edie,” said John Barnsley. The thought of his daughter taking up an office situation did not please him over well. His pride was more touchy where the family was concerned, than when it was only a case of himself.
“No, dad, I really don’t think I should,” she smiled. “J wanted to go out on my own hook, so to speak, and it was just as well I did. Mr. Christie asked me if you knew and I was able to tell him no. That showed that I was not looking for a pull job.”
“What’s he like, Edie?” asked Nancy. “They say he is a most awful bear, and not much of a gentleman. Did he snap much?”
“He was very businesslike,” said Edith. “Asked all kinds of funny questions, was I deaf, did I chew gum, could I spell, could I keep my tongue still? Twice I answered yes and twice no. lie didn’t know I was a Barnsley then. Now, you mustn’t scold me, dad, for
SYNOPSIS :—Erran Christie displaces John Barnsley as manager of the Dearnside Mining Co., arid offers the latter a subordinate position at a much reduced salary. The latter accepts. /Iis daughter, Edith, who is supposedto be engaged to Richard Chipperficld, a slow and cautious young man, also in the employ of the company, decides to help out the fa mil]/ finances, and applies for a Oas secretary to Christie, hot knowing who she is, he engages her at the handsome salary she asks.
I’m most tremendously proud of myself. I’rn really Mr. Christie’s private secretary—that sounds rather swell, doesn't it? I didn’t think I was going to land the place just at first; that was when ho practically called me a noodle.”
“How horribly rude and vulgar,” said Nancy, indignantly.
“Well, it wasn’t exactly meant for me. He was speaking of some others he had known ; ‘certificated noodles,* he called them. I was really awfully scared when he asked me what salary I wanted. However, it came out alright at the finish, and I’m a real daughter of industry. Some of the strawberry shortcake, mother, please. Business makes one fearfully hungry.” “I wonder what Richard will think,” speculated Nancy.
“He can think -” Then Edith
stopped and began to smile. She had nearly allowed herself to be You’ve a very inquisitive tongue, Nan.”
rf~'HERE had been much speculation in Ste. Brunhilde as to the fate of John Barnsley under the new regime. He had been a popular man, and a very easy boss, but. when adversity comes, even those who have profited by his slackness, are among the first to point out the deficiencies of the fallen man. The allegiance of the crowd follows the throne and not the man. A new king had come and the old one receded into the shadows.
When it was known that he had accepted an understrapper’s position, it was regarded as the plainest indication that he had lost his grip, and was on the downgrade. He who before had been master was now man ; the giver of orders had to take them, punch the clock, keep regular hours. Instead of driving up to the office in his car at nine in the morning, he walked, and got there at eight. The Barnsley of the old time would have starved before be would have submitted. That he had meekly taken a three thousand cut in salary—for that was what it amounted to—showed that either he had lost, all his former rugged pride, or realized that he was a back number. Everybody knew that he had not a dollar.
The Barnsleys. people said, would have hard times, for they wore extravagant. It was a lesson on the evils of un thrift. But it was a shock to public opinion when it. became known that Edith Barnsley had taken an office position with the Company.
Richard Chippertield met her one evening, shortly after she had entered on her now duties. He was coming from the mill after the day s work so they walked down to the town together. She looked, as usual, he thought, very agreeable and attractive in her own way. He had not courted her entirely from unworthy motives; she had a charm for him that no other
woman had or perhaps ever would have. It had not been easy for him to abandon his purpose regarding her. The hardest battle between selfishness and unselfishness that ever had been fought within him had been about Edith. Prudence, as he called it, had been forced to fight hard against affection. It had summed up all its forces, warning him that «he wouldn’t have a penny, that her family had fallen off the ladder, and that it might be, if luck did not favor Barnsley, who was getting on in years, a son-in-law might be called upon to aid the fallen. Sometimes he told himself that, if Edith had been alone in the world, he would, perhaps, have taken the risk; but to ally himself with the defeated was against all his ideas and sound policy. Christie would give Barnsley his chance, but the exmanager had worn himself too deeply into the rut to make good, and he would presently drop out. Chipperfield knew too much of Barnsley’s business reputation to believe he would ever get into his former rank again. He was a man who had missed his opportunity, a dead star.
“I’ve been coming round to ask you out to the links quite often, Edith,” said Chipperfield when he had greeted the girl. “But with the new man, Mr. Christie, on the spot, and wanting a good deal of attention, I’ve been unable to do so.”
“And I’ve had little opportunity to play either,” she replied. “I’ve so little time at home during the week that my Saturday afternoons are fully occupied in the house.”
“I suppose so,” he said gravely. “Believe me, Edith, no .one has been more sorry than I on account of the recent events. Your father must have felt it very keenly; I should—anybody would—under the same circumstances. It’s very brave of you to put your shoulder to the wheel. After the life you’ve lived you must have found the change a very great one.” “Yes, it’s quite a change,” she replied, quietly. He was really affected by her gravity. “So far as I’m concerned it’s not been an unpleasant one. There is nothing more wearisome than idleness.”
He thought it wonderfully brave of her. His sympathy was so great that he walked past his own home, and went on with her by the lake road leading to the Barnsley house. There were moments when his feelings well-nigh carried him away, and he needed all his self-restraint to hold himself back from a decisive step.
“You are very brave, Edith,” he said again. “You’ve been much in my thoughts during recent days. The old world seems to have passed away, and much that was pleasant with it. Nothing seems certain in the new one. What do you think of Mr. Christie?”
“I’ve not seen a great deal of him yet,” she replied. “My time at the office has been short.”
“A very self-contained man,” he said. “Distant as the North Pole. All business and drive. It’s a great change and one hardly realizes it yet. There can be no longer the old certainty as to one’s permanence in the place. Sometimes one longs for the old conditions. I’m sorry for your father, but he appears to endure the alteration wonderfully well. One of these days you’ll spare me an afternoon or the links, I hope.”
She did not make him any promise, and he did not seem to expect one from her. He lingered a little when they came to the gate of the tree-shaded drive, the temptation to say what was uppermost in his heart very strong. He thought she expected him to speak, and they stood in -what seemed to him to be a most embarrassing silence.
Then she opened the gate, bade him good-night and walked up the path. He watched her till she entered the house, then turned and walked away despising himself a little, but cherishing the reflection of his prudent mind that he had taken the wiser course. The Barnsleys were on the downward course, he could see no chance of their recovery, and he feared to connect himself with a family that was the most conspicuous failure in Ste. Brunhilde.
TTIS mother was looking out for him when he reached A home. She was a dignified, keen-faced woman, and it was easy to see where Richard had obtained his calculating disposition.
“You are late, Richard,” she said sharply. She had seen him go by with Edith.
“Yes, a little,” he replied. “Edith and I came down together, and I walked on a short distance with her.” “As far as you could go without entering the house,” his sister Eleanor observed. She was a few years older than he, a tall, floridly handsome woman. “I thought all that was over and done with long ago.” Richard made no reply but went and made ready for dinner. There were just the three of them, their father having been dead some years; and Richard was much woman-ridden. They were comfortably off, and had a well-ordered home. Eleanor might have married
any one of half a dozen men holding subordinate positions in the camp, but she had ambitions of her own that reached beyond such possibilities.
“Be careful you don’t make a fool of yourself,” admonished his mother, when Richard came to the table. It was abruptly said, but he knew what she was referring to. “I’ve nothing against Edith Barnsley, but you have a right to look higher than a stenographer whose family are more likely to be burdens than aids to your advancement.”
“I might do a great deal worse,” said Richard, curtly. “Thex-e’s more to admire than despise in a girl who throws herself into the fight when things are not going well. Then she is not office stenographer, she is private secretary really to Christie.”
“We’ll not quarrel about fancy names,” his mother answered. “There are plenty of suitable girls in the world who would be a help rather than a hindrance to a young man who has ambitions. The Barnsleys are friends, but there’s no need on that account for you to take a step that you might x-egret to the end of your life. If you plan to stand well in Mr. Christie’s eyes, it w'ould be no step in that direction to ally yourself with those whom he has superseded, and who must represent to some extent the opposed camp to his.” “There’s no opposition,” he observed. “If there had been, would he have found positions for either Mr. Barnsley or Edith?”
.“It pays a man sometimes to appear to be generous to his foes,” remax-ked Mrs. Chipperfield. “To keep them following his chariot is attribute to his power. I never thought a proud man like John Barnsley would ever be so poor-spirited as to accept so great a humiliation.”
“For goodness sake let me eat my supper in peace,” begged the exasperated man. “I’ve not made a fool of myself, as you call it. May I not walk a few hundred yards along the road with Edith, without you imagining it means-all sorts of things?”
“I know you, Richard,” said his mother darkly. “And Edith, in that quiet, undemonstrative way of hers makes a greater appeal to the foolishness in a young man than if she appeax-ed to fret and fuss over the change in their circumstances.”
“Oh, let him alone, mother,” laughed Eleanor. “He’s a Chipperfield, after all, and while he may go very near the precipice now and again, he’ll not fall over. We’re not the dizzy kind. How are you getting on with Mr. Christie?”
“Finely,” he replied, cheering up. “Thex-e’s little that concerns the mills he doesn’t consult me about.” “You should bring him in sometimes,” said Eleanor. “He goes nowhere,” he answered. “Makes no friends, and keeps everybody about the mines at arm’s length. Then he isn’t a society man in the least. He comes of humble people and has never been accustomed to society. In the accepted sense he’s not a gentleman. All he thinks about is business. I can’t imagine him mingling in any of our Ste. Brunhilde affairs.”
“Still, I suppose he’s human,” Eleanor laughed. “Perhaps he’s just reserved and shy. Many of these bluff men are diamonds in the rough, so to speak. He’s got to know people if he lives here long.”
“You may x-ely on my bringing him if I get the ghost of a chance,” he replied. “I guess I know which side my bread’s buttered, and to get on the inside with the big boss is the main plank ixx my platform.”
This seemed to be so clear proof of Richard’s soundness that even his mother was mollified. The sentiment was true Chipperfield, and the clouds vanished.
''F'HERE were times when Edith Barnsley disliked Ewan Christie more than any person she had ever met or heai-d about. He jarred on every fine sensibility. He was ruthless on occasions and hard as flint. He practically never praised, and, when he censured, did so mercilessly. There was a self-sufficiency, an egotism, about him that often grated upon her. Later she came to understand that it was more of manner than of spirit. He was self-made, but associated little with the more refined people, and had been forced to make his way through much opposition. He owed his position to his own ability and strength, and there was a raw roughness still upon him. And if she disliked so many things in the natural man, there was a great deal that evoked her admiration. He was master unquestioned of his work. He knew every twist and turn of the mines, every wheel and cog of their vast machinery, their production and resources. Nobody could put anything over him in any depai'tment of their busy life.
Sometimes she heard one or other of his subordinates, carpeted for slackness, try to get away with it; but the attempt never succeeded. He ruled with
strictness, and yet there was a redeeming fairness about him that took the edge off much of the severity. He would listen to reason, as long as it remained reason, but when it became sloppy or maudlin excuse, he swept it aside relentlessly'.
There were weeks when he seemed scarcely to notice her. When she went into his office at the bell summons he would plunge into work, and, when it was finished, dismiss her with a nod. It was a gratifying tribute to the efficiency of her work.
Sometimes his brusqueness almost amounted to rudeness, and w-ould have been in almost any other man, but she grew accustomed to it, realizing that he was not intentionally offensive, but was simply absox-bed in business. Once w-hen he was put out by somethingthat had occurred in the office routine, and, carpeting the culprit, gave him a vitriolic scourging in about a dozen words, he employing an expletive or two to wrhich she was not accustomed. When the man had gone he turned to Edith.
“I suppose you’re shocked by what I said just now,” he snapped. “Sorry, but if you come to work in a man’s office you have to put up with that kind of thing. We can’t handpick language in dealing with an idiot like Fotherington.”
It was his way of apologizing. Gradually, as the months went by, he became a little more communicative. After he had been severe in his dealings with men, he would speak of it in a way that seemed to be an attempt to justify himself in her sight. She put it down to the credit of a man who was hard as the head of a system, but felt, now and again, that there was something within him that would have wished to be kindlier.
“If I took notice of sloppytales,” he said once, when an appeal had been made to him for the reinstatement of a man who had been discharged for gross carelessness, that might have resulted in injury to his fellow workmen, “I’d be drowned in them. You must have rules, system, standards and they-’re of value only as you keep and live up to them. Most men in trouble could put up a pitiful plea, either a wife or children or folks depending on them for support, but you have to eliminate all that stuff. A man on a job is a soldier on the field. If he sleeps at the post of duty y-ou prop him against a wall and shoot him, even though he has friends who will be heartbroken by it. That is part of the disciplining of an army or a business staff. Shoot one man and it keeps a hundred wakeful, and pex-haps saves a thousand lives in some pinch. Fire a man guilty of slackness, and the rest, fearing the same fate, will keep on their toes all the time. You don’t think so?” And he looked quizzically at her.
“Not quite,” she said. “After all, a man is not a machine, and it seems to me there are times when the strict enforcing of the law might be ensured, and still some broader consideration given to the man in fault. It means so much more to scrap a man than it does to throw a faulty machine aside.”
“Woman’s reasoning,” he answered, smilelessly. “You’ve got to x-egard men as machines, useful only as they operate properly'. It’s good for the man as well as for the system that the law is strict. Now, if I’d been bottle-fed, I’d have landed nowhere. If I’d listened to other folks, and taken advice, I’d have been slugging rock on a pit bottom to-day'. If I’d pampex-ed myrself, or been pampered, I’d have been a ten dollar a week man. It was hard sledging for a long time. Many a time I’d like to have taken things easily, but I couldn’t. I saw this, that in this world a man has to understand that there are certain hard fixed laws he has to obey. Let yourself be switched to right or left by sentimental considerations, and failure’s close ahead. Laws ax*e not to be dodged or set aside, but to be kept.”
CHE had opportunities for measuring him bythe side ^ of other men, Richard Chippex-field, for instance. Of course the difference in the positions they held might make the comparison unfair, but there was something about Richard that she knew she wouldn’t have seen in Christie if the positions of the two men had been reversed. Richax-d, as she had known him, and Richard as she saw him about the office, were different men. He was axxxious, evidently, to stand in the manager’s good graces, and it jari-ed upon her to see something of subserviency in him that was almost fawning at times. Whatever Christie said was right; he never made an observation but Richard agreed with it. All the younger man’s individuality seemed to disappear when he came in contact with Christie. Pex-haps, Edith thought, this was in keeping with the ideas of discipline held by both men, but it was not at all pleasant. She could not imagine the stronger man dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s of a superior so punctiliously.
One thing gratified Edith, and that was a certain distinction in treatment that Christie accorded to her father. The two men, in a rather distant way, got on well together.
Edith had been more than a little fearful at first that there might be clashings, and that she might be called upon to witness the humiliation of her father.
But such never occurred.
During these months she learned to admire her father more than she had ever done. He had accepted the great change without in any degree abating his dignity. He was still a man apart, receiving respect because he was worthyof it. He was punctilious in his work as Edith had never supposed he could be. The manager often consulted him, and her father had views of his own that sometimes did not accord with those of his chief.
John Barnsley seemed to have buried the old life and to have a new start.
He was proving a success.
A young man, filled with ambition, and eager to make the best of a great opportunity set before him, could not have buckled down to his work with more zeal than did this ex-chief reduced so tremendously in standing. What gave his daughter the greatest pleasure was the fact that he, almost alone of Christie’s subordinates, had an opinion of his own, and was not afraid to express it. Instead of this giving offence to the chief, the latter appeared to set Barnsley on an eminence apart from the rest. John Barnsley never gave an opinion unless it was asked for, since that was not within his province, but when it was sought, he expressed it, and Edith knew that many times the superior followed the path his assistant thought the wiser.
All this change in Barnsley did not take place without the general notice. He gained rather than lost respect. Those who had regarded the step down as involving a swallowing of pride saw that the man had not suffered in this respect. He was a bigger man in the popular esteem than he had been in the days of his greatest prosperity, for he had done what nobody thought he could do, what few men could have done— taken a big step down, made a new beginning, and was bringing success out of apparently certain failure. Edith never liked Christie so much as when she once heard him, when she was in her own room, say in a moment of irritation over some defect in another of his under-bosses:
“The only man round the place with business intelligence is Barnsley. He talks little but gets there, while you talk like a soap-box orater and never land anywhere.”
There was never an occasion during the first year that Edith worked with Christie when he gave her a word of commendation. His praise was the absence of blame, his biggest compliment the lack of faultfinding. At first she thought it a defect in him, the weakness of a grudging mind, but later she altered her opinion. He put his praise into deeds rather than words, into realities rather than cheap artificialities. When she had been in his employ exactly a year she found in her fortnightly pay envelope fifty dollars instead of forty.
“No mistake,” he replied to her inquiry. “You’ve been here a year—services quite satisfactory—not deaf, don’t chew gum, can spell. If you didn’t earn the money you wouldn’t get it.”
Little by little he got into the way of leaving much of the routine work of the office to her, and indicating his views on minor matters in such a way that she could handle them herself without taking detailed instructions. She would not have been the girl she was, had this broadening of her position not given her pleasure. It meant much more than a few pleasant phrases thrown to her when he might happen to be in an amiable mood. More than once he consulted her on affairs. Instead of rushing through his business, grabbing his hat when the last word of dictation was done and leaving the office, he would often linger a little,
talking sometimes of the bigger policies he had in mind. He seemed to think aloud in her presence, and find some help in her judgments, even when they did not coincide with his own. She gathered that he was a much isolated man, and had always been such, and that, reticent as he was, there were times when he found satisfaction in speaking his thoughts to some one whom he regarded as intelligent enough to understand them, and trustworthy enough to respect his confidence. In these talks she got occasional peeps of the inner man, the two-sidedness of him, one the ruling official who had been given the task of bringing a large, ill-disciplined mob into army efficiency, the other, a broad, even generous nature that did not always find it easy to do what business sense said ought to be done.
Nothing impressed her more than his action in respect of a claim for damages on account of injuries, brought against the Company by one of its own men. The man I,ad been hurt clearly owing to his own wilful disobedience. An ambulance-chasing lawyer had egged on the hurt man to present a preposterous claim and sue for heavy damages. Christie was the last man in the world to stand for anything like blackmail, and he fought the case through the courts, and got the decision. The man had a wife and family, and he had been hurt so badly that it would be months before he could earn again.. The general opinion in the town was that Christie had been terribly hard, and that it would not have hurt him had he spent some of the big company’s money to make things smoother for the distressed family. Edith had thought something along the same lines too, though she recognized the strict justice of the case. The labor paper had not failed to dwell on the sentimental side of the affair—the crippled man, the distressed over-burdened wife, the little children.
“Well, you see we trimmed that fellow, Prideaux and his shark lawyer,” said Christie to Edith, a day or so after the final decision of the Court had been handed down.
“Yes, I saw the report,” she answered. She was standing facing him. His strong, grave face showed his satisfaction.
“Clean case of blackmail,” he said. “If the fellow had been left alone we would have done what was right out of charity, but when he started in to make it a legal claim and force us to say that his wrong-doing was ours, he had to be shown. He gets nothing and it will cost us quite a bit for legal expenses, since he’s beggarpoor. but it will make future claimants of his kind think twice before they listen to the blandishments of hold-up lawyers.”
She did not make any reply. He was right, absolutely right, but--well, there was the illogical woman
in her, and he seemed to guess it, for the trace of a 3mile came over his face.
“You don’t think with me?” he asked. “Where am I wrong?”
“No, I think you are right, legally, but — ”
“But what?” he inquired. “I guess it’s the sympathetic red-herring being drawn across the trail again. Wife and children and crippled bread-winner racket, I suppose?”
“Yes, one can’t forget them,” she answered. “The sun rises on the just as well as* the unjust, and those who are guilty alone need mercy. He was a foolish man, led away by plausible talk.”
“This company isn’t that kind of sun,” he grinned. “You believe in the new-old doctrine that while it is an atrocious sin to rob the poor, it’s no sort of crime to steal from a big corporation? It has neither soul to be saved, body to be kicked, or feelings to be healed or hurt. That your notion?”
“No,” she answered
smilingly. “I suppose you are right from the standpoint you take, but it seems to me there is a
kind of high equity—perhaps you’ll laugh at my ideas but I would call it
a sort of spiritual equity, beyond all law, that has or
should have place in such affairs.”
“It might have in pretty books or a parson’s nice little sermons, but spiritual equity has no place in mining, especially when the equity pleader is a claimhunting law-shark. Prideaux dragged us into the ring, and that’s a place where two start in on their feet, and only one is to be standing thus at the finish. You can’t blame us for his knock-out? He invited it.”
“No, I suppose not,” she conceded.
“I’m glad you admit so much. I like to appease my conscience, whether the inner one or the one who acts as secretary.” His glance that fell on her was very whimsical.
“I am sure I don’t wish to be that,” she laughed. “You asked me and I gave you an honest answer. I suppose I shall have to cultivate the dual personality, the official one to keep the personal, sentimental one within bonds.”
“I wouldn’t like you to do that,” he answered, quickly. “I don’t want official views, since I have a full supply of them; I like the viewpoint of Edith Barnsley sometimes.”
HE was standing very near to her and spoke with a deep-voiced impulsiveness that was new to him. For a moment his hand rested on her arm. It was laid on her so simply and naturally that she could not be offended by it.
“Stay just as you are,” he said. “I can pay for echoes of my own choice and thought, but there is something else a man can’t buy—he has to be worthy of it, to earn it by trust and confidence and liking. I wouldn’t have you change in any one respect. Goodnight.” And he went out to his car.
After he had gone she stood a few minutes in deep thought. His words and manner had deeply impressed her. She knew that he liked her after bis own rather brusque fashion. Sometimes she had fancied he had treated her more considerately because of her father s former position-—that was just at first. Then when he began to tn’k to her of the more important office affairs she knew' that he regarded her as intellectually capable, anil no woman dislikes a compliment of that kind, especially from a man whose abilities she respects and admires. To-day was a new revelation, but she was a very sensible, wide-minded girl. In some respects Christie was very inexperienced. He knew nothing of women and had no women friends. Somethin)! this day had moved him—she told herself it w'as the appeal to his sympathy in the Pridcnux case, and the fact that what she had said coincided with the real Ewan Christie. Deep-soulcd men sometimes betrayed their emotions, and this afternoon the wells of Continued on Page 72
Ebb and Flow
Continued from Page 33
the soul of this man, in whom she saw so much to like amid much she had disliked, had been oddly troubled. It was an intimate appeal for candor, and for a friendship that even the most selfreliant crave at times. Beyond that she would not suffer her thought to go.
He brought the Prideaux affair up on the following Saturday, as she was about to leave the office for the day.
“There is something I wish you would do,” he said. “It’s about the Prideaux people. Here’s ten dollars. Would you mind calling and slipping it to the woman as you go by. Tell her not to be afraid of lack of bread till her man gets round again. She’ll get as much every Saturday, and the rent will be paid for her. She’s not to talk about it.
It would give a bad impression if it were generally known, and we’d be accused of weakening. The office knows nothing of it. Remember, this is in strict confidence—you understand?”
She looked up at him in her gravely frank way.
“Yes, I think I understand,” she said.
Her glance brought a flush of color to his face, the first sign of emotion of the kind she had ever seen in him, and she left the office feeling strangely happy. She felt now that she knew the real man, the man whose official guise led to so much misconception regarding his real self.
A day or so later she saw the little news sheet that circulated through the camp, and in it was an article commenting on the Prideaux case, and anathematizing the Company and its local head.
Christie came into the office as she was reading it, and glanced over her shoulder.
“Fine sob-sister stuff,” he commented with a laugh.
_ “The truth ought to be known,” she answered indignantly.
“Why?” he asked. “Who cares? They don’t want to know the truth, and if they did would explain it away. Words break no bones.”
“But -” she began.
“One of the first lessons in wisdom is to obey the old Bible behest, to ‘suffer fools gladly’,” he interrupted.
Every Saturday there was the envelope with the ten dollar bill laid on her desk for the Prideaux family. Few knew whence it came, the general opinion being that his fellow workmen were doing something for the injured man’s family.
During these weeks Edith came to understand more and more of Ewan Christie, and it was often hard to obey his command and keep silence regarding the man who did good by stealth.
TOWARD winter of his second year at Ste. Brunhilde, Christie took up residence in the town. He had found winter travelling to his former quarters too expensive in time besides being uncertain in the severer weather. So he rented rooms at the hotel and became, nominally, at least, one of the community. Naturally his arrival was an event in the social life of the camp, and the fact that he was unmarried did not make it the less interesting. He turned out to be a disappointment, for he had no social inclinations and did not accept invitations. Whether it was because of natural reserve or the aloofness of one in a superior position who did not wish to mingle with those who were his employees, lest familiarity might lessen his business influence, was a much debated matter. His plea was that he was much too busy, hut those who saw most of him told of long solitary evenings spent by him in a lonely hotel sitting room, smeking dourly over a newspaper or book. Everybody agreed that he was a phenomenon of unsociability.
There was only one home of any social prominence in the town to which he had not been invited before he had lived there half a dozen weeks, and that was the home of his predecessor: John Barnsley had heard him say often and apparently sincerely that he did not care to accept social invitations, and Barnsley was not the man to thrust his hospitality on an unwilling person who might be inclined to misconstrue its purpose. A little later on, there was one house to which Christie did go occasionally, and that was to the Chipperfields, but not even there when there was the likelihood of meeting outsiders. Sometimes he had business with Richard, who was very useful to him in more ways than that of his direct duty. Chipuerfield was his source of private information regarding the inner life of the Camp. Christie had no more scruples about using him than has a general who employs a secret service aide. The hotel was too public a place for private conversation, so Chipperfield suggested that his chief might prefer to drop into his house, where there would be no possibility of their talks being overheard. At first the mother and daughter would discreetly vanish at the stranger’s ap-
pearance, but, as the calls became more numerous, it seemed to Christie that it was discourteous to turn the ladies out of Richard’s snuggery whenever he called, so they often remained when there was nothing of special importance for the two men to discuss.
Eleanor was a woman near Christie’s own age, ambitious, fastidious in her way, and indisputably clever. She had her brother’s calculating powers, with much more of his finesse.
Eleanor seemed to understand Christie instinctively, and met him as if she were unconscious that he was the big man of the Camp, while permitting the fact to be fully realized though left in the background. She had a brusquely pleasant manner, that matched to some degree his less agreeable one. It had the effect of setting him at his ease. The feminine in her was not obtrusive, and thereby she displayed the very refinement of feminine art. Ewan Christie found that with her he could say pretty much what he liked without choosing words. She understood the liking his type of man has for a woman who will let him, figuratively, sit in his shirt sleeves and smoke his pipe without fuss or formality. There was an attractive frankness about her, and a young maturity that to a man of his cast of mind has greater charm often than that of a young girl. Richard, one evening, had been speaking to Christie of some little trouble there had been in one of the mills.
“It’s the penalty we’re paying for former slack administration,” he said. “With Barnsley they could do pretty much as they liked. If things didn’t go just to suit them, there would be a deputation in the office, a talk over things as if the men had been directors, and some concession would be made.”
“It’s, part of the game,” laughed Christie. “Masters and men sitting at opposite sides of the table, each wanting what there is in the game. If you and I were in their position we’d probably act as they do; as it is we have our own game to play. It comes, sooner or later, to a show-down, and, after that, things get into the normal state. Both want to he master, and it has to be settled who is entitled to the job. Business is in a way like war. Every private would like to be a general, and thinks he could run things a good deal better than those who are set over him. It’s just plain human nature. You can’t find much fault with it, for it’s one of the fundamental conditions of life; what you have to do is to meet and beat it.”
“Barnsley was all for conciliation and compromise,” said Chipperfield.
“And it was hard work to pay bondholders interest,” Christie replied. “The stockholders had to take an odd bone now and again, but more often had to go without. We’re paying interest and dividends and, after all, the masters are not in the game solely for their health. Perhaps Barnsley would ride with a tighter rein if he were in the saddle now.”
At this moment Richard was called out of the room to take a telephone call, and Christie was left alone with Eleanor.
“Of course you know,” she smiled, “that Richard 'has a very essential attachment for the Barnsleys. Nothing whatever to do with business, of course, hut it is amusing to notice how it crops out occasionally. Edith—you perhaps
“No, I hadn't heard of it,” he replied, a little grimly, she thought.
“A rather pretty little affair in its way,” she continued. “Though it’s not formal or fixed. It’s what the storybooks call an ‘understanding’, going back to boy and girlhood. You know the kind of a thing in a little world like this. It has always been said they were sent into the world for each other, and neither of them has ever appeared to entertain even a wandering thought in the direction of anyone else. You know how reserved Edith is—quiet and very capable. She’ll make him a most suitable wife, and he’ll be the most devoted and domesticated of husbands. They both shun publicity, and perhaps one day soon we’ll be suddenly told that everything is settled and a wedding due to come off as soon as the banns can be
published. That’s the pretty, humdrum, Darby and Joan way each of them has. And she really is the dearest, the most charming of girls. It always has seemed to me to he so brave of her to take up money-earning when matters were not as prosperous with her family as they had been. I’m sure you find her most reliable and painstaking.”
Christie did not say whether he did or he didn’t. He was not given to discussing matters with either friends or strangers, and least of all was he inclined to discuss Edith Barnsley. What he thought about her was his own affair. It was only recently that he had made an attempt to gather together his various impressions of her, and bind them up together into one—a personality that had come to be of much attractiveness to him.
\ FEW minutes later he left the f\ house and set out to walk to his rooms. As he went he reflected much on the little item of news that Eleanor had given him. It had come to him as an absolute surprise though he couldn’t explain to himself why it should be so. líe did not know why he should give to the tale a second thought, and yet it filled his mind.
He had never regarded Edith as a marrying kind of girl. There were girls who obviously were marrying girls; they had the advertisements out fn a dozen pretty ways; they had their campaigns all planned and laid out pretty much in the public eye, and no undue reticence about them. Edith had seemed different.
She was an astonishingly competent business woman, and it would be the worst kind of a nuisance if she did get married in this preposterously annoying fashion, for she was a veritable pearl among secretaries. He had never had one really serious worry since she joined the staff. Where to match her for all-round efficiency he did not know. Women of her stamp could be pretty near priceless, quiet, swift yet noiseless, with the gift of anticipation, reliable in matters big or little. The idea of such a woman getting married! It was nothing less than tragedy of the meanest type.
But that was the frightful, drawback of her sex. A woman was unreliable in the one catastrophic matter. She did not know when she was well off. Why, a girl like Edith Barnsley might climb almost anywhere, she was potentially a ten thousand dollar woman, and cheap at the price. But there was the Achilles’ heel in her, the one vulnerable spot. She would do the nonsensically tragic thing that marks her essential sex inferiority. Some fellow, more often than not an incapable nonentity whose soie gifts were an oily tongue, the ability to wear a suit of clothes like the dummy in the tailor’s window and talk slushy sentiment, would drift along, and she would let everything else go and thrust herself into a halter that would last in such a case till they put up the inscription on the memorial stone,
“Also—wife of fhe above.”
“Until the day break and the shadows flee away.
or something tragic of that kind.
Of course, this inexperienced cynic mused as he strode moodily along, if women had sense there would be little matrimony, and so heaven had put blinkers on them in the interest of the maintenance of the human race. Still, there ought to be exceptions, and Edith Barnslev should most certainly be on -’■m exempted list. He had thought, latterly especially, that she was really a bright, shrewd, practical girl, a very pleasant girl because she was so capable, the kind of girl a man hates to see get away from him. What on earth could she see in a fellow like Richard Chipperfield? Then again came the answer from within: “What does the average woman see in the man whose halter she assumes?”
He could find no answer either to the particular or general question. Chipperfield was a useful fellow in his way, did what he was told, stood hitched, never balked—real good old Dobbin kind. What kind of a man was that for a girl of Edith Barnsley’s type? If she
must get married she deserved a real kind of a man.
“And I guess you think the real kind of a man is something like Ewan Christie?” gibed the inner cynic.
The gibe went straight to the heart of Christie as if it had been a needlepointed barb.
It threw his thoughts into confusion for a time, but as he went along the road, head bent, hands shoved deep in his pockets, he took up the suggestion in real earnest.
“And what if I do?” he challenged the dour inner companion.
“Nothing at all,” the latter came back. “Only, you lunatic, you are in love with lier yourself.”
It was a quite unanswerable accusation, and wanted a lot of thinking about. He had very firm views about men in offices falling irt. love with women in the same offices. Only" fools did that kind of thing. It was a negation of all the cardinal principles he believed in, deadly to proper efficiency. There was this he could urge in his own behalf, that he had not tried to fall in love with Edith. He was victim rather than culprit. Of course there was some amount of risk to be assumed when a man employed a girl as his secretary, but he had thought he was immune. She was not the first secretary he had employed by a good many. With any of the others he would have been as much inclined to sentimentality as with a telephone post out there in the road. This time everything was different. Edith was so thunderingly efficient, so clearbrained, so free from fussiness and chatter, and so tremendously pretty. He had got so accustomed to see her trim, quick-moving little figure about the office that it would be a dull hole when she went off to Chipperfield’s. She never giggled, and in fact rarely laughed, but there was sweet, clean sunshine about her. And this Chipperfield man! Chipperfield was alright in his way, but there were lots of girls good enough for him in the world. What was his confounded business in meddling with matters too great and high for him? He would always be somebody’s man, taking orders, doing as he was bid.
He pictured Edith as married to him and settling down in a little camp house to domestic work, getting her amusements and recreations in the tea-drinking and parties, with their small gossip, that furnished the lighter side of Ste. Brunhilde life. Then the picture made him angry, and he walked on past the hotel gloomy and pitiful. Some girls married for a home, he had heard, fools that they were. Perhaps if Edith’s position was bettered she might give this matrimonial fad a second and wiser thought. She was inadequately paid for the work she did. There were men in the office pulling down a couple of thousands a year who were infinitely less valuable. Sometimes salary-pinching was poor economy.
“It isn’t the loss of the secretary that’s worrying you, Ewan Christie, it’s the loss of the woman,” said the inner irritant.
“And what if it is?” demanded Christie irritably.
“Nothing at all,” came the grinning reply. “Only—she isn’t Mrs. Chipperfield yet, and while there’s life and the wedding ceremony’s still ahead, there is hope of a kind. If you think Chipperfield’s not the proper sort of man, well—what’s the next best thing?”
Ewan Christie was still revolving the problem when sleep came to him.
To be Continued
Speed Record Claimed
Flying a Fiat BR biplane, Mr. BrackPapa established what is claimed to be a world’s record, on June 27th, by attaining a speed of 255 kilometres an hour (158V2 miles), with two passengers aboard. The flight was officially controlled and the speed certified by a. commission of the Aero Club of Italy. This is the highest speed ever attained in any element ; the previous record was 143 miles an hour, established by the French pilot. Sadi-Lecoint, on a twoseater Spad biplane.