GOOD-BYE, OLD GROUCH
JOSEPH LISTER RUTLEDGE
ABOUT that assistant for Tom Emby?”
Abel Enderby, president of the Eureka Mills, turned to his vice-president.
“You remember we were talking about that. Old Tom needs someone to give him a hand. Thought of anyone for the job?”
Shepherd shook his head. “I thought you had someone in mind.”
“Well, so I have, two or three of them. There’s Burns and Curtis and Andrews, all good men in their way, but I rather favor Andrews. He’s got more—”
Shepherd was usually punctilious in the extreme, but he broke in sharply on the president’s ruminations.
“If I had half a chance,” he blurted out, “I’d fire that man.”
The president looked up in surprise at his usually impassive voice. He w as interested in the outburst—interested and mildly amused. “What man, he enquired, and why?”
“Andrews,” snapped the vice-president, in answer to the query.
“Andrews?” there was a growing surprise in the president’s tone. “Isn’t he the best department head we have, and incidentally the cheapest?”
“He gets the most business and handles it most thoroughly, if that’s what you mean. But of all—” the vice-president grew silent feeling the inadequacy of mere words.
“Best and cheapest—no,” he snapped after a pause.
The chief leaned back comfortably, his elbows on the arms of his chair, the fingers of his hands forming a neat pyramid. It was an attitude that with him indicated an interest in the subject under discussion.
“I don’t just seem to get the drift of this, John,” he remarked.
“Well, look—I’m quite serious when I say that if I had one good reason, just one, I’d fire him—and I’d enjoy doing it.”
“But if you have no reason?”
“Reason! I’ve got dozens of them.
Look at me. I’m one of them. I’m mad, mad clean through at that crossgrained, oblique-eyed, suspicious devil.
But I can’t fire him just because he makes me mad every time I have anything to do with him, or because he always thinks differently from me, or because every time I make an innocent suggestion he looks at me as though I had murdered his mother and stolen his wife. But that does not alter the fact that I’d like to.”
“Still,” Enderby looked up with a smile, “I’ve a mind to try him. Perhaps a little extra authority will change all that. He hasn’t been going ahead very fast, and he’s a good man—-underneath it all I mean.”
“Good man once, might be again if he’d cut out that damn persistent growling—Why Curtis was speaking to me Only the other day. Asked me if I couldn’t move his desk. Said it took so much of his time sympathizing with Andrews’ troubles, that he was getting
behind in his work. Sort of laughing, of course, but he meant it right enough. If you think I’ve overstated the case, ask someone else. Ask Curtis or Burns or Sedgwick.”
“No, I’m not questioning what you say. I know a little about that myself, but we’ve either got to cure him, or get
rid of him, and I don’t want to get rid of him. I like the boy, and he’s a valuable— too good a man to lose.”
“Hm! Not so sure of that. We might lose something, but we’d gain something, too. That chap’s a pestilence, he’s half spoiling a lot of other good men.”
“Well, give him the chance anyway. It may work out and it’s worth trying.”
Shepherd was not naturally a hopeful soul, and he saw no ground for unbounded enthusiasm here. “I’ve gambled myself, at times,” he commented, “but I like the odds a little more in my favor.”
VICHEN, some years before, Jim Andrews, with his “sheepskin” carefully tucked away in a corner of his dilapidated trunk, passed out of the life of the little fresh-water college in a modest burst of glory that befitted his great estate, it was with a feeling that the world was his oyster.
Subsequent months took the first edge off this feeling. The world was so manifestly unaware of the existence of the great Jim Andrews. The fact of its indifference was hard to believe, but it began to percolate through to his consciousness as month by month he drifted from one unpretentious task to another. Finally his solid good sense led him to seize the chance opening that presented itself with the Eureka Mills. Here, after many months of waiting, fortune did seem to favor him. Evans, one of the salesmen, was taken seriously ill just in the heart of the season, and Andrews was tried out in his place. He hadn’t Evans’ experience; he was younger and hadn’t the poise of the older man, but he came through the ordeal with flying colors. Perhaps it was the heady need of success on a still callow youth that made him sometimes restive under authority, a little prone to rebellious thoughts that rarely if ever developed into definite action.
This very sense of insubordination made him more or less a centre of interest. Perhaps it was this interest that led him on till the thing had become a habit, till he had almost come to believe that the petty things about which he complained so fervently were really rank injustices calling for remedy.
He was a likeable chap—Jim Andrews; everyone thought well of him and for that reason his influence grew. There were many of his associates who revelled in his biting sarcasm at the methods and officialdom of the Eureka Mills, and the more so because Jim Andrews was certainly making a place for himself. He had plowed ahead till he was admittedly the best salesman the Mills had on the road.
' I 'HERE were others, however, who had a whole-hearted dislike for his methods.
“Call him off, can’t you,” said one
of his fellow salesmen to Curtis, “you're a friend of his. He’s dogging this firm all over the country. Some day they’re going to hear of it, and put the skids under him. Besides, it makes it tougher going for all of us.”
Curtis did talk it over with him, with just about as much success as he had expected. Andrews held that his opinion of the firm was entirely his own business.
“That’s all right,” Curtis retorted, “if you want to think things that's your look out. It only hurts yourself, but you’re hurting the other chap's business with your talking.”
It had done no good. Andrews merely felt aggrieved.
‘ They’ve got you," he said, "bought you body and soul. Well, they won’t buy me.’’ And to assert his independence he became the more caustic in his criticisms.
He became a centre of disturbance in the business. Nothing much nothing that developed into real substance. just a series of petty annoyances, a studied unwillingness to do simple things, a steady dragging back instead of a steady push onward.
“For gosh sake!” roared Burns, after listening with what patience he might to one of Andrews’ dissertations, "why can’t you either shut up or get out?" The truth of the matter was that Andrews was getting a bit on the nerves of the more reasoning element. They didn’t all speak as forcibly as Bums, but they did, from time to time, try to bring him to a more reasonable point of view. They liked him, but somehow he did seem at times to be a little overpowering, and so he tended to drift more and more into the company of those who appreciated his utterances as a display of sterling independence.
\BF.L F.N’DERBY. president of the Eureka Mills, had - a always had a warm place in his heart for Andrews. He had known the boy's father, and had liked and respected him. and he was ready for that reason as well as for the evident real ability in the son, to give him his chance. When Andrews went on the road he rather passed out of Enderby's view, he became more or less epitomised in a steady flow* of orders. There were times, however, when Enderby thought of him with a wondering uncertainty. Things cropped up on his territory—little things—they never seemed to hurt his business, never even to reflect on his popularity with his customers, but Enderby thought he noticed at times a certain asperity in some of the correspondence with some of Andrews’ customers. It might be imagination, of course; he was inclined to give the boy the benefit of the doubt, but the impression w as there. “Strange,” he reflected, “that I have not noticed it from any other territory.” Enderby thought a good deal about this. He began checking over this correspondence. He had rather hoped to prove to himself that he was wrong, but the letters did not so prove him. Yes, there was something in his suspicions, something that needed very careful consideration.
The Matthews case was an instance. Matthews and Spence were big customers of the Mill. They had placed a large order, and there had been delay in shipment. A scarcity of cars had been the immediate cause, later complicated by a local strike in the railway yards that had delayed traffic, and still further retarded delivery. It was a regrettable situation. There were faults everywhere, and perhaps the Mill was not entirely free from blame. They had done their best to clean up the matter, but the adjustment seemed to hang fire, and to result in an unnecessary amount of correspondence. There was one phrase in Matthews' last letter that particularly caught Abel Enderby's attention. It stood out like a sore thumb. “Your Mr. Andrews,” it said, “quite agrees with us that you have hardly given us the consideration we deserve in this matter.”
"Our Mr. Andrews,” thought Abel Enderby, “doesn’t think we have given him due consideration. —That’s
ANDR.E WS came into the office the following morning, •his face a little flushed with the excitement of success. His sales had been large, and the last day’s business had added considerably to the total. He had worked hard for his success. He had been up till late the night before selling. He had reached town in the small hours of the morning and had hurried down after a few hours’ sleep.
"The old man wants to see you,” announced a shockheaded youth. “What you been doing?”
“Always doing something wrong,” growled Andrews sulkily. “Well, may as well get it over,” and he sauntered slowly toward the president’s office.
“Hullo Andrews! Good trip?” Abel Enderby looked up with a smile as Andrews entered.
“Yes. sir, best I ever had.”
“Pretty tepid praise after sticking it out till the last moment, and working your head off,” Andrews reflected, not noticing the other’s preoccupied air.
Abel Enderby was thinking of that strange phrase in toe Matthews letter, and was wondering just how he could get at the bottom of it without hurting Andrews’ feelings.
“Supersensitive beggar,” he thought, but he looked up
at Andrews with a friendly smile. He had always liked
"Rather a peculiar phrase in a letter from old Matthews,” he said. “See him this trip?”
“Yes, he seemed friendly enough. Got a good order from him.”
Enderby nodded. "In this letter,” he continued, “he says you don’t think we treated him right. Wait a minute”
he rummaged among some papers on his desk. “Here it is.” He opened the letter and held it out before him. “It says: 'Your Mr. Andrews quite agrees with us that you have hardly given us the consideration we deserve in this matter’—That right?” he asked. There was nothing but friendliness in his tone.
“Well, sir, they lost a lot of money by that delay. They bad everything arranged for a big sale, and we killed it. Don’t see very well how I could help seeing their side. They’re my customers too, and good ones. I have to look after them.”
“So Matthews is right in what he says?”
“Well, sir, I don’t see—”
“That’s all right,” Enderby broke in. “I just wanted to know.” He sat for a while thinking, his fingers touching
“I think I see what you mean, Jimmy,” he said, after a while. “Yes, I see what you mean.”
“I have to treat my customers right, sir. Have to see that they get a fair deal.”
Abel Enderby nodded. “Don’t you think that works two ways? What about a fair deal for us?—I’d like you to get this, Jimmy, for I understand what you mean and it’s mainly right, and I don’t want you to run away thinking that we don’t want to be fair. It’s just this, Jimmy. You’re figuring on being loyal to your customer. Now I think you should consider us also.” He looked up with a smile. “I don’t mean that you should go around saying that we are right. I don’t even mean that you shouldn’t admit that we may have been wrong. All I mean to say is that you should think of things from our angle, as well as that of the customers’. We’ve got a case, mostly. I’d like to feel that you had thought out our side and made that case just as well as you could. If we’re wrong, admit it, of course, but at least see our side, and make your customer see it.”
“I don’t want you to think I am growling.” Enderby had risen and was standing by the boy, his hand resting lightly on his shoulder. There was a frown on his face, a frown of concentration, not of annoyance. “I didn’t just like that about you, agreeing that we had not treated them fairly. We had you know. If you thought we had not done enough, you might have talked it over with me. You see, agreeing with them did not help anyone, and it hurt us. Well, never mind that now—just wanted to call it to your attention. Glad you had such a good trip.”
Jimmy Andrews left the president’s office with a scowl on his naturally cheerful face. He made his way to his own desk, and there in a small group of intimates gave his own rendition of the interview.
“Old man’s sore because Matthews wrote a letter about that shipment. Serves ’em right, they should have got it there on time. If he thinks I’m going to bolster up the firm every time it makes fool mistakes, I’m ready to let them know that I damn well won’t.”
JIMMY ANDREWS lived in an attractive-looking suburb. It was perhaps a little more sub than the ordinary suburb, for it took a good hour of steady going to get to the office. On the homeward trip that day, he had plenty of time to consider the president’s remarks. They did intrude themselves on his thoughts once or twice, but he resolutely put them aside for the consideration of his own grievance. On his walk from the car he was running over the story just as he would present it to Joan. “One thing about Joan,” he thought, “you can always tell just where she will stand. Right for you every minute of the time.” His heart warmed pleasantly at the thought. It even tended to crowd out the grouch, but he nursed it patiently back.
It was hard work, too, fostering a grudge that beautiful sunshiny day. The snug little homes with their neat gardens, the general air of well-being and comfort, rather took the edge from his resentment. By the time he had reached his own home, an attractive bungalow set well back from the road in a wealth of shrubs and roses, Jimmy Andrews was whistling cheerfully. It was good to be home after the tough weeks on the road.
He took the steps two at a time—“Joan! oh, Joan!” he shouted cheerfully.
A happy voice answered him and Joan Andrews came into the room. For all her six years of married life and her young daughter, now four years of age, Joan was still a girl, with a girlish color, and laughing eyes. There was a little twist to her mouth that, in times of soberness, gave a fleeting impression of discontent. But it was only a suggestion quickly dispelled by the kindliness of her eyes.
“Look, Jim,” said the girl, locking her arm through his, and laughingly dragging him to the window.
Out in the garden a little girl in a lacy-blue dress was
romping with a terrier puppy, to the steady accompaniment of peals of laughter.
Jim Andrews smiled contentedly. “Little beggars,” he said with a grin, “they’ve tramped all over my pansies.”
‘“TpELL me about your trip, dear.” The Andrews’ were
A settled away for one of the comfortable home evenings that came all too seldom now that he spent so much time on the road. “They must have been pleased, though they don’t seem to be particularly grateful as a rule,” she added.
The latent grudge that Jimmy Andrews had nursed so carefully all morning, and had forgotten so completely all afternoon, rose again into being. A scowl settled on his pleasant face.
“Grateful! I should think not. I had quite a talk with the old man this morning, and what do you think it was about?”—he rushed on not waiting for an answer—“He spent the time crabbing about a letter from one of my customers. Expects me to make good all their mistakes.” There was a certain mental reservation in his words, a certain inner knowledge that he had not stated the case as the old man had stated it.
With Joan there was no reservation. Just as Jimmy Andrews had thought, there was never any doubt where she stood. She came to him now and sat on the arm of his chair, her hand resting with light affection on his shoulder.
“I don’t see how you can stand it, Jimmy,” she said. “Their constant fault finding, their constant demands.”
“Oh, perhaps they don’t mean it. Old man’s not a bad chap as a rule.” Jimmy was already beginning to forget his troubles in the cheery atmosphere of bis little living
He looked up at Joan with a smile. “Forget it, old girl,” he said.
But Joan didn’t forget it. She was gentle in all her dealings with her family and friends. She made Jim Andrews’ home a real haven of happiness, and she was ready to forego anything, to sacrifice anything, when it was for the happiness of others; but she had a wonderful tenacity of thought. She remembered when her impressionable husband was off on an entirely new line of ideas. During the evening the subject cropped up again and again, and a frown would darken her husband’s face.
Yet nothing could stand long against his happiness. He awakened Monday morning without a hard thought against anyone in the world. A romp with little Dorothy, whose open admiration amused and sobered him, sent him flushed and panting with just time to snatch his hat, give his wife a parting hug, and dash out of the door. But her parting word, called after him half jocularly as he dashed down the steps, “Don’t let them scold you any more,” brought him up with a sharp sense of annoyance, not at her but at those figures in his business life whose word was his law. He was scowling as he boarded the car on his long ride to the city. * * *
ANDREWS climbed steadily, if slowly, up the ladder ■ of success. It was habit more than anything else that made him growl at every new task, for in reality his heart leaped to new endeavor. It was different with his wife; she worried over his tired face when he returned from business, and in her own mild way cursed the ways and works of the Eureka Mills; and Jimmy, while he loved his work, and would have resented the effort to deprive him of one of his duties, felt aggrieved and growled in unison.
Andrews moved from one territory to another till he had covered the whole field. It took years, but it meant change and a better understanding of the business,—and, yes—a better salary. Then finally he came off the road altogether.
John Shepherd joined the firm at about this time. He was a quiet man with a head for figures.^ Andrews was inclined to like him, and showed it, in a slightly patronizing way. “Not a bad chap,” he remarked. “Easy—lets them run on him a good deal, still not a bad chap.” It never crossed his mind that Shepherd was anything beyond the ordinary, as represented by the average of the men around him. For a while they kept neck and neck in the business; then Shepherd slowly forged ahead. Jimmy never quite forgave that, and if he had wanted to, Joan would not have let him. In her staunch championing of her husband it looked like treachery, and she minced no words in saying so. Had she foreseen Shepherd as vicepresident of the company, searching with eagerness for some righteous cause for dismissing her husband, her vindictiveness would have known no bounds.
JIMMY ANDREWS was discontented. “You need a little pull, here,” he often announced to a group of cronies that gathered around him. “Look at me. I’ve worked my head off for this firm and see what it's got me.’ The argument sounded convincing, for there could be no doubt that Andrews had worked. Even while he groused he worked. Nothing ever made him scamp anything. That was the type of man he was. Work was a, joy to him, therefore he did it well, for the sake of the work rather than for the reward. He was made assistant to the salesmanager, and finally, when easy-going old Tom Emby left, Andrews climbed into his shoes as sales
manager; and there he stayed. Shepherd climbed up and passed him. That rankled more than he would have admitted and, though Jim Andrews was not naturally jealous, but his fellows knew that there was no love lost between him and Shepherd. It was evidenced in the reluctance to accede to any of Shepherd’s suggestions. Andrews used to laugh at him to his little group of associates. There was often a group about his desk when Shepherd appeared. They scattered suddenly like small boys in some mischief. But Andrews would brazen it out with a somewhat truculent manner.
To all this John Shepherd paid not the slightest attention. Andrews rather despised him for not appreciating this dislike.
“I let Shepherd know where he gets off,” he often announced to his wife.
“That’s right, Jim dear. Don’t let him impose on you.” She had always felt that it was his easy-going nature that had been his handicap, and she lost no opportunity of encouraging an attitude of mind that she thought would offset this seeming weakness.
Despite all these things, the selling end of the business under his directions showed up well. He drove his men as he had driven himself while on the road.
“Never mind what the company does or doesn’t do,” he would say in answer to some complaint. “Your business is to sell. You don’t agree with their methods, well, perhaps, neither do I. But you’ve got to sell anyway. Keep friends with your customers. You’ve got the goods, you know that much anyway; go ahead and sell them.” Under his persistent driving the goods were sold. But though his department prospered, Jim Andrews remained doing the same work, in about the same way and at relatively at the same salary he had earned a half a dozen years before.
The only thing that had changed was Jim Andrews himself. He had lost some of the gaiety, something of the good-fellowship that had made him generally liked. He had grown querulous. There was a sharpness in his voice and a stoop to his shoulders. There was, too, a certain carelessness in regard to dress, that to those who had known the old Jim Andrews was a continual surprise.
Jim Andrews was slipping. He would not have admitted it, nor would his wife. But down in their heart of hearts, they knew.
BUT it was not only this fact that caused the furrows on Jim Andrews’ brow, and the stoop to his shoulder. He was worried about his daughter. Dorothy had reached young womanhood in, what Andrews believed to be, the
most perilous age that young womanhood had ever known. If it had not been that his sense of humor had suffered, along with his temper in the past dozen years he would probably not have taken so sombre a view of the situation. Dorothy was at the typically flapper age in a typically flapper era. She had gathered to her all those mild vices that middle age despairs over, and that age considers with a tolerant smile. The typically staid reformer might have pointed at her to prove anything, yet she proved nothing except that youth is eternal though its manifestations change.
Dorothy, too, had changed. She had suffered in her bump of reverence. There had been years when she had looked upon her father as a superman, a god-like being, who knew all things, controlled all things, could achieve all things. But those things were in the past. Under a mop of straw-colored bobbed hair there flourished a very wise young head. It was all the reformers said of it in regard to foolishness, but it had from these experiences gained a certain wide tolerance, a certain measure of understanding. Like all the sisterhood of the bobbed heads, its owner had nibbled at the fruit of the tree of knowledge; had discovered a lot of things that might have been left undiscovered; but had also picked up certain crumbs of knowledge that were withheld from her more cloistered sister of former years. Among other things she had learned to understand her father. And she of all those people who had affection for him, was alone capable of laying her finger on his weakness.
Dorothy Andrews lay at a comfortable length on the family chesterfield, her slim legs aggressively prominent. She was plunged in thought. She was worried over her father as he was worried over her. She wanted to go on admiring him, looking up to him, but she found it difficult ; he was so much more a child than she.
Her mother came to the doorway, and Dorothy jumped to a more sedate posture. A little curl of smoke wound its way from under the sofa, where her hurriedly relinquished cigarette was slowly burning a neat hole through the rug. Mrs. Andrews came into the room, sniffing suspiciously, but the offending cigarette had burned itself out in a whiff of perfume.
MRS. ANDREWS, it must be admitted, was just a little in awe of her daughter. There were times when she tried without success to cover the fact with a show of authority. But she always did so with a little
twinge of dread. Dorothy was so manifestly not in awe of anybody.
“I do wish, Dorothy, that you would not do things to worry your father. He has enough to stand at the office.” There was a hint of querulousness in Mrs. Andrews’ voice.
Dorothy knew from experience that discussions on this subject were profitless, and led nowhere; besides she had an idea of her own that was crying for utterance.
“By the way, Mom, what’s the matter with Dad?”
“Your poor father—■” Mrs. Andrews was beginning, but Dorothy cut in crisply.
“Never mind the sympathy, Mom. What is the matter with him?”
“But I don’t understand.” Mrs. Andrews was not one of those who are quick to pick up stray wisps of thought.
“I think that’s about it,” Dorothy retorted.
Bewilderment settled on Mrs. Andrews. That was what puzzled her with her daughter. She seemed to skip sentences. As Mrs. Andrews thought back over the brief conversation,..it seemed to have gaps that she could not fill in.
“He looks sort of moth-eaten and down-trodden,” Dorothy rambled on. “He needs a new suit, and he needs something new inside the suit, some new ideas or something—different ideas anyway. There’s no pep to him any more. Looks as if someone had robbed him of his bone—like a dog I mean, like that.”
Mrs. Andrews had lost hold on the conversation but there did seem to be something that reflected on her husband, and she rallied to the defence as she had always done.
“Dorothy, how can you speak of your father like that? You don’t know all that he has to put up with at the office. Why, when I think of it at times I could hate them.”
“Well, that’s allright, Mom. Hate away if you like it. But do it by yourself.”
“Do what by myself?”
“Why the hating, of course. You always make Dad come along and hate with you. That’s partly what’s the matter with him. He lets you do such a lot of his hating for him. That’s not the right system, you know; because the other person just never knows when to stop.”
“I suppose it should make sense,” Mrs. Andrews sighed wearily, “but it doesn’t to me.”
“Well now, for instance,” Dorothy was kindly, and she felt that her mother often needed humoring, “For
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instance—Dad comes in with his own little private hate. He’s not a good hater, you know. He means well, but it won’t take with him. He can’t keep it up long enough by himself. But you see you help him in that way. Now you see the result, Dad’s got a spine made of plasticine when it comes to saying ‘no’ to hating.”
“Dorothy! How can you talk so of your own father!”
“Well, you know, Mom,” Dorothy looked up cheerfully, “that I don’t mean anything mean about Dad. But there’s no sense in pretending that my eyes are shut, like a day-old kitten’s, now is there?”
MRS. ANDREWS sank into a handy chair. “I don’t understand you, Dorothy. First, you’re accusing your father of something, and then you’re accusing me of something, and I don’t know what and I don’t understand what you mean.”
Dorothy put her arms about her mother’s shoulder. “Never mind, Mom,” she said, “don’t worry.”
She disappeared into the recesses of the little garden to smoke a furtive cigarette, not because she liked it, but because her peculiar code suggested it as the proper step for inducing thought, and she had to do some thinking. Things were not going right with her father.
He was shabby and querulous and dissatisfied. For all her seeming wildness, her outrageous costumes covered a very warm heart. She had inherited from her mother an acute sense of loyalty to her own, but, unlike her mother, she liked to mix her loyalty with judgment. All her affection for her father could not blind her to some obvious faults and these faults she realized were at the bottom of all the trouble.
“He always has a sore thought,” she reflected, “that’s the trouble.” But while she could lay her finger on the cause, even the obnoxious fragrance of a highly-decorated cigarette failed to aid in suggesting a remedy.
IT WAS not till late that evening at a small dance that the answer came to her problem. Freddy Dawson was the answer. Freddy was a particularly pestilential type of young man. He was not pleasant to look upon. He couldn’t dance, indeed he had none of the social graces that are esteemed in the younger set. Dorothy was inclined to think of him as the human wart—he was pudgy and she hated pudgy men. Someone had let him in on this party or he had strayed in by misadventure. Finally, after a diligent evening spent in an effort to evade him, Dorothy found that at last he had fallen to her lot. She accepted fortune’s token without any evidence of joy. It was evident that Freddy had not been warmly received in the little circle. He had many sorrows, many grievances, and he outlined them all at length. Dorothy found that letting him babble on did away with the necessity for effort on her part. But after nearly half an hour of his lugubrious wailings she was stung to biting words.
“Do you always whine like a sick puppy?”
Freddy came round with a jump. He had rather a feeling that he had created a sympathetic atmosphere, and was wallowing in satisfaction.
“Do I what?” he enquired.
“Do I what? doesn’t make. sense,” Dorothy retorted with severity.
“I mean, what do you mean? What are you jumping on me for?”
“Oh, I know what you mean all right, but why can’t you talk right out without yelping. Didn’t you have a good time to-night?”,
“No, I didn’t,” Freddy retorted ungraciously, “didn’t expect to.”
“Then, of course, you wouldn’t. When I go out thinking things are going to be a frost, even my eyebrows congeal. But you—you’ve been babbling your woes all over; spoiling your own time and everybody else’s. You’d have a good time if you’d let yourself; but you’re a regular crepe-hanger. Why, I’m fed up with having you weep on my shoulder after only fifteen minutes or so.”
SHE swung on her heels like a flash as though caught by some splendid revelation and her eyes sparkled.
“Freddy,” she almost shouted, “you’re the answer.” She caught hold of his arm and danced round him, making the discomforted Freddy pirouette precariously. “You’re a pest, but you’re a successful pest. Young fellow me lad, you’re the answer.
“I’ve got to think this out,” she continued. “You scamper along with this crowd.” She deftly inserted the speechless Freddy into a laughing group, and leaving him to bore his way out she dashed out of sight. While sundry other more welcome partners were carrying on an exhaustive search for her, she quietly got her wraps and started off for home by herself.
Dorothy was not as a rule entirely captivated by her own company. She needed the clash of other minds of the same ilk to whet her enthusiasms and judgment; but at the moment, as she reflected, she was sitting on a great idea and that idea had to be properly hatched. Being more accustomed to words than ideas she felt, rightly enough, that this was a thing to be considered without the accompaniment of the persiflage of some slim-waisted Adonis. Jim Andrews was sitting up reading when Dorothy reached home. There were lines on his face, and a sternness that she was not accustomed to see there. She had a quick sense of compunction. She was partially responsible for the change in her father. He was not as young as the father she had known as a little girl; there was something beyond the mere addition of an odd eight or ten years. The thought almost made her waver in her resolution. But youth is assured and confident in its own judgment. She set this thought aside.
“You’re late, Dorrie, too late for a girl of your age.”
Dorothy was not happy at this greeting. She realized that a reformer who starts on the defensive is a handicapped reformer. She felt that the right course was to evade the particular point raised, and to introduce another line of thought of which she was more the master.
“I met a perfectly lovely chap, tonight,” she announced, with the air of ■one conveying important information. “His name’s Harry Ransom. He’s not the least like the most of the crowd you see.” She looked up hopefully for the sign of awakening interest. Her father’s face was serious, almost distressed. He was evidently paying little attention. “He’s a serious chap,” she rattled on. “He’s going to get on in business. I’m perfectly thrilled about it. He told me ever so many things about his work, and he was fearfully interesting.”
“I wish, Dorrie, that you were more serious. I don’t know just what to make of you. I seem to have lost all hold on you—your mother has too. I want you to have a good time and all that, hut I ■don’t like all this running around and late hours.”
“Now Dad, don’t let’s get too serious. I’m all right. I can look after myself too. I’m serious, you’ve no notion how serious we were to-night. Harry is with Ames, Burr and Steel; they’re importers of something.”
“Machinery supplies,” said Jim Andrews,” but I don’t just see what that has to do with you.”
“Well you see I’m interested in
business, and that’s serious, isn’t it? And Harry is going to tell me all about it.”
“Didn’t you just say that you had just met this Harry person?”
“Well, yes, but you know you get to know a person fast when they are serious, and he was perfectly dear about it. He is going to tell me all about how the business is run.”
“Yes. He’ll probably he able to do that. I suppose he’s been with them a couple of weeks?”
“Two years, dad, and he knows a lot of places where they might improve the business. Harry,” she rattled on, “says that Ames, Burr and Steel, are pretty sniffy—always fussing over something.”
“I’ve always heard they were pretty good people to work for,” Andrews remarked without enthusiasm.
“Harry says not. They’re perfectly horrid at times.”
“Suppose it’s that way with all firms,” Jim Andrews said with a sigh. “Now, Dorrie, scamper off to bed. You’re yawning your head off—and Dorrie—I don’t want to be an unreasonable old fossil, and I don’t want to have to tell you that you can’t go out when and where you want to—You’ll remember that, won’t you?”
“You’re a dear old thing,” Dorothy flung her arms about his neck, “even if you are getting a little grandmothery, but I’ve turned serious, you just see if I haven’t.”
DOROTHY was demolishing her breakfast with the concentrated enthusiasm of the young animal. Jim Andrews, with the morning paper before him, was reading out snatches of news, bits about trouble in the Ruhr, the French political situation, and of the latest world catastrophe. Mrs. Andrews was always more interested in these latter vivid happenings. Not because she took a delight in horrors, but because she could understand, and could find the proper words to express her emotion. She had a feeling that the Ruhr was one of these nasty foreign cheeses, and what her husband had been reading did not seem to fit in. That sort of thing was disturbing.
“Don’t you think,” Dorothy relinquished her toast in favor of an adventure into the realm of thought. “When a chap sees something wrong in a business that he has a perfect right to discuss it with other chaps, so that they can see it’s wrong too?”
“Eh, what?” Jim Andrews made a hurried trip back from the Ruhr district.
“What’s all that, Dorrie—what chap— and what business anyway?”
Mrs. Andrews lost every emotion save surprise, and gave up any thought of joining in the conversation.
“Harry Ranson, you know.”
“Who’s Harry Ransom?” So stable a thing as a proper name seemed to Mrs. Andrews like a spar to a drowning sailor.
“Dorrie’s newest oracle,” explained her husband, “a young business Moses.” “Don’t know, Dorrie, it depends.” Jim Andrews viewed his daughter with curiosity. “Let’s take it up later. I’m for the office now.”
“Who is Harry Ransom?” Mrs. Andrews returned to the question, when the flurry of speeding the parting bread winner was over and they had settled down for another cup of coffee.
“Oh, he’s a chap.”
“Is that all there is about him?”
“No, he’s a nice chap—serious, you know. He’s in business, and the people aren’t a bit nice to him. They won’t give him a chance, and are always finding fault with him.”
“So like your poor father,” Mrs. Andrews sighed.
“Yes, that’s why I was so interested in him. Do you know, Mom, I am going to go in for studying business. I think I may go into business myself.”
Mrs. Andrews was as surprised as any new move of her daughter’s was capable of making her. “You, Dorothy—in business?”
“Yes, why not? I think I’d like it, and I think I could help Dad.”
Even Mrs. Andrews could not but smile at the confidence of youth.
* * * *
IT WAS an evening a week or so later, one of those rare occasions when all the family were at home together. Andrews was deep in the intricacies of a thrilling detective story. If he had a vice it was a pronounced predilection
for this type of literature. There was a breathless attention evident in the posture indicating that justice was about to triumph.
“Dad, what do you think of this? Harry happened to be talking to a customer of his old firm, and they said that a shipment had arrived late or something like that, and Harry said he wasn’t surprised the way things were in the shipping department, and that chap Anderson heard him, and hauled him away, and said he’d fire him if he ever overheard him talking that way again. Don’t you think that’s a rotten way to treat him? Because their shipping department is slow—Harry says so.” Jim Andrews relinquished his book with a reluctant glance. It was one of his pet theories that parents should interest themselves in the affairs of their children. He had tried to do that. But it grated on him somehow to have to give his attention to the woes of someone else’s child in the person of Harry Ransom. He had been rather interested in the young chap at first. The boy seemed to have some grievances, and Andrews was ready to admit that possibly they were well-founded. But, to be perfectly frank, his patience was wearing rather thin. In fact he was beginning to find the ever-present Harry Ransom a bit of a pest.
There was a note of asperity in his voice as he answered. “That Harry person of yours seems to be pretty persistently in trouble. What’s the matter with him, anyway?”
“But don’t you think he was perfectly justified?”
“No, I don’t.” Jim Andrews rather surprised himself with the vigor of his denial. “When I was a youngster at the business,” he announced, “I remember I got into a somewhat similar scrape. The old man called me in and gave me a good talking to—said the important thing was to Took at such things from the angle of the firm—that you should take it for granted that the firm intended to do right, and it was your business to make the customer see that point. That’s right too. And the case I was mixed up in looked a lot worse than your Harry’s.” So much in self-justification Andrews allowed himself.
“Why don’t you bring that young fellow around some night?” he asked. I’d like to have a talk with him—seems to me he needs some steering. They can’t always be making trouble for him.” “Yes, do bring him round, Dorothy,” Mrs. Andrews echoed. “I don’t think it’s right for you to be seeing so much of a young man whom neither your father nor I have ever seen.”
“All right, I’ll ask him some time.” “Why not to-morrow night?” asked the practical Mrs. Andrews.
Dorothy wriggled uncomfortably. “He said something about going away, or being busy or something. I’ll ask him some time. There’s no hurry, is there?”
IN THAT quiet, matutinal hour, before the cares of the working world, and the provocative odor of frying bacon from down stairs had become focused enough to make a rising seem imperative, Mrs. Andrews voiced her anxiety.
“I don’t understand why Dorothy does not want to bring that young man to the house. I don’t like it. I wonder if he’s quite nice.”
“He’s probably all right,” the reluctant, sleepy voice of her husband responded. “If he does come,” he continued a moment later, in the pauses between yawns, “I have a feeling that I’ll take him up to the bath room and drown him.” Mrs. Andrews looked surprised. “I thought you just said that he was all right.”
“Yes, but he has too many troubles. I’m fed up with them.”
“The poor boy probably isn’t being given a chance.”
“Everyone’s given a chance if he works hard and keeps his mouth shut,” Jim Andrews remarked sententiously. “Trouble with this fellow, from all reports, is that his mouth is the only part that works. Well, I’ll have to rush now.” And a moment later a tumult of blowing from the bath room showed that the rushing was in progress.
* * * *
“A/fOM, I’m going to work.” Jim l',l Andrews was away, and mother and daughter, were enjoying the peace that comes after such departures. When
Dorothy dropped this bomb, Mrs. Andrews gasped with astonishment.¡“Have you talked it over with your father?” she asked plaintively. She felt justified in thus bridging any responsibility.
“No, but that’s all right. He won’t mind. He’ll feel safer if I’m sort of tied up in slavery. I’m going out now to look for a place.”
“Now! But you can’t do that without discussing it with your father.”
“Oh, yes I can, Mom, no use worrying him. What’s the name of the man at Dad’s office? The one who gives people places, I mean. Is it Mr. Enderby?” Mrs. Andrews was frankly aghast. “You surely weren’t thinking of going there. Think how they have treated your poor father all these years.”
“I don’t think they have treated him so badly. When I was telling him about Harry a day or so ago, he said that when people got in wrong with a firm it was their own fault. He was quite huffy about it too. Said the firm had always treated him well enough, and he fancied every firm did the same with their men.” “I don’t understand.” Mrs. Andrews felt that she was losing hold of old landmarks. The injustice of the Eureka Mills was an idea, was one of those things that she had placed among the immutable and changeless verities, and here was her own daughter actually questioning it, and quoting her husband as evidence.
“Won’t you wait for your father, dear?” she pleaded, but she knew her daughter and she knew that once Dorothy’s mind was made up pleading was useless. “Who’s the right man, Mom?”
Mrs. Andrews gave up the idea of resistance. “The only one I really know about is Mr. Enderby. There is a man named Shepherd too, but your father doesn’t think much of him. Anyway I don’t know who’s the right man,” she wailed.
“Then I’ll see friend Enderby,” Dorothy announced confidently.
SHE was not quite so confident when an hour later she was on her way to the city. She was taking stock of herself. She didn’t know much. She was ready now to admit this fact, though an hour ago she would have denied it indignantly. “I’ve got a rotten name for a business girl too. ‘Dorothy,’ that’s cat meat,” she toyed with the idea of spelling it Dorothe, but gave it up. No, you could do that sort of thing with Mabel, but Dorothy was a doomed word, you couldn’t change it except to make it sound more juvenile. “If they had only given me a name like Valera,” she reflected.
So engrossed was she that the car had gone two blocks past her stopping place before she noticed it. She walked back with some trepidation, a feeling that grew as she reached the imposing pile, of the Eureka Mills. She was even more overawed by the composed young lady at the enquiry desk. It seemed that it was quite a ticklish business this getting to see Mr. Enderby.
“Tell him,” she said finally in desperation, “that I am Mr. James Andrews’ daughter.”
The switch-board girl showed a slight awakening of interest. “I’ll see if he is busy,” she said.
A moment later she was back. “Mr. Enderby will see you in a moment.” she said.
It was a very subdued young lady that: a few minutes later, was ushered into theoffice of Silas Enderby.
For a moment, the spaciousness of theoffice, the simplicity of its furnishing,-.the • general air of orderliness, the impressionof settled routine, overawed her e>*uberance.
“And what can I do for you,, young lady?” The kindly voice called-] her to ■ herself and her eyes turned to the speaker. She saw an elderly gentleman sitting before a simple desk. He was not at all a, fearful spectacle, there was nothing of the domineering, harsh exterior that all her later training had pictured for her. Rather he fitted in to a dim remembrance of a . kindly man who had been very gracious to her, as a little girl, years ago. Her com-posure returned to her.
“I am looking for a place, sir.”
“A place?—But why do you come to -me?”
“Well sir—you see father is working here and I—” she stopped, it was just a . little difficult to explain.
“Yes, of course. I didn't mean that.
I just mean, why djd you come to me—
personally—You see, this is my business, but I don’t do much about engaging people, not now. Didn’t your father tell you that?”
“Father doesn’t know I’m here. I asked mother who I should see, but she didn’t know, so I came to you.”
“I don’t quite understand. Why doesn’t your father know?”
“I don’t quite know myself,” she replied with a disarming smile. “I didn’t want him to know till it was all settled. I wanted to get into the same business with him. I thought I might be able to help him, if I were with him. Especially if you could put me in his department. Don’t you think you could find a place for me?” “So you think you could help him, do you? I rather like that, young lady.” There was a knock on the door, and a tall, rather stern-faced man entered.
Seeing that the president had someone with him, he muttered an apology and turned to leave.
“Don’t go, Shepherd,” Mr. Enderby called out. “This is James Andrews’ daughter. I’d like you to meet her. She is asking us to find a place for her.”
Shepherd eyed the bobbed head, almost hidden under a rakish hat. His quick eye caught the hint of powder and rouge. No detail of her extravagant costume escaped him. He noticed, too, an almost appealing look in her young face. He bowed, without enthusiasm.
“Suppose you run along now, and let me think this thing over,” said Silas Enderby with a smile at the girl. “Yes, let me think it over—you might call me up to-morrow and I’ll let you know.”
Dorothy had felt the change in atmosphere that came with Mr. Shepherd. She was glad to escape, glad to be out in the air again. She was trembling, she realized, but she had a sense of elation; she had done what she had set out to do.
“Well, Shepherd, what do you think? Can you find a place for her?”
“Not unless you insist. You know I’m not very strong for the name of Andrews.” “But you haven’t been grumbling about him lately.”
“No, he hasn’t been bothering me much, but I’m not hopeful, he’s probably stirring up trouble somewhere else. Two of the same kind would about finish that department, I should think.”
“But, John, don’t you think you could humor me, by giving this youngster a chance?”
Enderby rarely gave orders, but despite that fact matters seemed to follow his wishes.
Shepherd looked up with a sour smile. “Have it your own way, sir. I suppose we can use her. Don’t suppose she knows anything. It might be rather interesting to make him break in his own daughter, I’ll arrange it.”
JIM ANDREWS was feeling in high spirits, and the evening meal went merrily; but Mrs. Andrews had a sense of dread upon her. She knew of Dorothy’s escapade, and she had a feeling that as a loyal wife she should tell her husband, but Dorothy had insisted that he should not be told, and her fear of her daughter overstepped even her sense of what she felt was right. But it gave her a feeling of being a conspirator and, simple soul as she was, the feeling made her uncomfortable.
There was a pause in the conversation, broken by Dorothy. “Harry asked for an increase in salary to-day, and the horrid things wouldn’t give it to him.”
Jim Andrews felt aggrieved. Here was this fellow Harry coming to spoil another evening.
Mrs. Andrews welcomed the subject with relief. It took her mind off other things, and made her feel easier.
“I don’t suppose he was worth it,” Jim Andrews remarked, with unaccustomed asperity.
“Of course, he’s worth it.” Dorothy rallied to the defence. “Harrys says that they have a grudge against him, and that some of the men above him won’t let him get a chance.”
“Oh, bosh!” Andrews retorted warmly. “The men above have to much to do to,fuss about the chaps below them. More likely to give them a kick up than a kick down. What’s the matter with this Harry fellow anyway? He never seems to have anything but a hard-luck story. If I were ydu, Dorrie, I would drop him. He won’t get anywhere. No fellow with a grouch like that ever does.”
“You should listen to your father,
Dorothy,” Mrs. Andrews championed her husband warmly. “He knows about such things. You should think about what he says.”
“Why, Mom,” Dorothy countered swiftly, “it’s only just about a month ago that I heard Dad say that he wasn’t getting a chance.”
“You don’t have to pay any attention to any fool thing a man may say in the heat of a moment,” Jim Andrews’ eyes flashed angrily. “If I said any such thing I was talking like an idiot.”
“Of course your father’s right,” Mrs. Andrews added her word of confirmation.
“There’s altogether too much knocking in the life of your young friend.” Andrews was thoroughly aroused, and the flank attack on his own fortress had given a viciousness to otherwise placid dislike of the omnipresent Harry Ransom. “First thing you know they’ll be dropping him. I’d advise you to drop him first.”
“I think you are both as horrid as can be,” Dorothy bounced out of the room with the hint of a sniffle in her voice.
Jim Andrews shook his head. “I don’t i know what’s coming over that girl,” he said ruefully. “That chap’s no good, you can see that, and Dorrie usually had pretty sound judgment.”
“He does seem to complain a lot, but then he may have good reason.” Mrs. Andrews’ sympathies were always near the surface.
“Good reason, nothing.” Jim Andrews was not usually so brusque in his converse with his wife, but he was thoroughlv aroused now. “That boy’s no good I tell you. Why a fellow like that is like a plague in a business. He’d set the whole works by the ears. Anyway I can’t abide the fellow. What’s he like anyway?”
“I’ve never seen him.” Mrs. Andrews was almost tearful.” I don’t think it’s right, somehow.”
“Well, we’ve got to stop it. That’s all there is to it.”
Mrs. Andrews’ head nodded a solemn acquiescence.
When two days later Dorothy was ushered into her father’s department and placed under his charge he was so overwhelmed with astonishment that he could find no words. In a kind of daze he delegated a clerk to show her her duties.
It was not till they were going home at night that he found words to describe his feelings.
“What in the world made you do that without first consulting me?” he demanded. “I’m not at all sure that I would have let you do it. Now it’s going to be hard to get you out.”
“But I don’t want to get out, Dad. I’m enjoying it.”
“But what in the world induced you to try it?” Andrews could not get away from the first impression of amazement.
“Well, Harry thinks it’s a good thing for a girl to know something of business,” Dorothy replied innocently.
Jim Andrews snorted with annoyance, so that several fellow passengers turned around with surprise to survey him.
“Why did you consult that brat, and not consult me?” His annoyance was rising.
“Well, Harry always seemed to know such a lot about business.” Dorothy had apparently failed to catch the note of annoyance.
“Huh!” snorted Jim Andrews, and the balance of the ride, was in stony silence.
IN THE days that followed Andrews developed a growing animosity toward the yet unknown Harry Ransom, and in proportion as this animus increased he found himself ranged on the opposite side of every question in which “this fellow,” as he had grown to think'of him, appeared.
Jim Andrews was frankly alarmed for his daughter. He had tried in every way to discourage the growing infatuation, but her enthusiasm was proof against jest or cajolery, and even against harsher strictures. Jim Andrews itched to have his hands on the man, but without avail. This Harry Ransom proved a most elusive creature. Invitations had been issued, but they had either been curtly refused by Dorothy herself, or had been accepted to have her announce later that she had heard from him, and he was ill or had to go out of town, and begged to be excused.
Jim Andrews had even for a time sternly demanded that she should accompany him in the evenings, endeavoring thus to end the acquaintance. He spent a miser-
able week visiting all the more highly emotional of the moving pictures that he had most abominated, but he caught no glimpse of the elusive Harry Ransom. More than that, while Dorothy maintained an exterior of stoic calm, he could not get away from the impression that she was inwardly amused. After a week of this, be gave it up as useless.
Almost simultaneously Harry Ransom appeared again in the conversation, with a new complaint that left Jim Andrews with a sense of passionate wonder that anyone could be so conscientiously and consistently wrong on so many subjects.
“You’ve got brains, Dorrie,” he remarked sharply, “surely you can see where a chap who is always complaining is going to land. Why, he’s a danger to any organization, an insidious, destructive force. I don’t care whether his complaints are sound or not—an ^discriminating complaint sows discontent. It’s a sheer waste, I tell you. Even when you know there’s nothing in the complaint you have to build up a resistance to it. You’ve got to fight it off. A man who puts everyone on the defensive is too expensive a man to keep. I don’t care how good he is in other ways.”
“You can just see how it is with your father,” Mrs. Andrews chimed in. “See how it annoys him.”
“Why, if you’re talking of Dad,” Dorothy retorted with some heat, “I heard him in the office the other day growling at something the firm had done. Would you call that an insidious, destructive force?” “Of course you would,” Jim Andrews almost shouted the words, “I’m not saying I haven’t been a fool at times. I have, but I’m getting over it. You go and tell your dear Harry that, will you? And tell him to get over it quick if he wants to last.”
THERE was one thing that brought a ray of sunshine into the life of Jim Andrews and that was the growing friendship between his daughter and young Siddons in his own department. Jim Andrews knew that Siddons had something to him. He was a comer and he was a sort of man Jim could look at without quailing when he thought of Dorothy’s probable future.
Siddons’ name had crept quite frequently into Dorothy’s conversation of late and Jim was hopeful that he ultimately would oust the Harry person from his place in her affections. But though Siddons and Dorothy were quite frequently together in the evenings, that fact seemed to bring no decline in her interest in Harry Ransom.
Once when Jim Andrews and Siddons happened to meet at noon, Andrews put tactful enquiries as to whether the boy had met Ransom. Siddons was rather noncommittal, but Jim gleaned from this conversation that he did know the Harry Ransom person, and rather thought he was a good egg. It was the only thing that Jim had discovered to lower his opinion of young Siddons.
DESPITE his worries, Jim Andrews seemed to be feeling better. He was surprised at the new interest he found in his work. Rather surprised too that as he got to know Shepherd, the vicepresident, better he had come to find him a decent fellow. They had lunched together quite frequently of late, and had talked about their common interests. Andrews liked the way Shepherd thought of the business. It had to make money of course, but it was a sort of a trust as well. It had to give service, without too much consideration of profits, sometimes perhaps without profits. “That’s the sort of business a man likes to work for,” Jim reflected. “Takes away the idea of drudgery.” He went back to work with a lighter step.
One Saturday morning he had quite a little run in with some of the salesman. They were elderly men, who had been on the road with him, and they looked on him still as one of their number. They had been grouching at the treatment the firm had given their customers, just as Jim Andrews had been wont to grouch.
“You, Bert, and you, Ed,” Jim Andrews said after he had listened to their complaints at some length. “Don’t you think it is about time you canned that stuff? This firm is giving the best service it knows how to give, and you know it as well as I do. It’s time you begin talking ! up the service instead of talking it down.”
“Seems to me, Jim,” there was something of a bite in Ed. Summers’ words. “Seems to me I have heard you crabbing a little against the firm yourself in the not very distant past.”
“Well, supposing you have, Ed. I don’t propose to be bound down by every damn fool thing I may have said in the past. I’m not saying them now. Do you get the idea?”
Summers thought a moment. “Yep,” he said with a grin. “I’m pretty quick. I
THE morning dragged on as Saturday mornings'will; a disjointed time, full of interruptions, of the effort to gather together the last straying threads of the week’s work. More than one young face glanced out of the window with a sense of relief at the thought of hours in the open.
Dorothy liked these Saturday mornings; they had more of an air of excitement than the steady round of other days of the week.
“Mr. Enderby wants to see you before you go.” Dorothy had a sudden sinking at the heart.
“Who?—Me?” she demanded.
The shock-headed youthonly nodded. She went with some trepidation. It was one thing to approach the president of a big company from the outside, and quite another thing to approach him from within. Dorothy had not seen him since her first visit, and she felt very small now as she entered his airy office. Silas Enderby’s friendly voice came to her with a sense of relief.
“Sit down, young lady. I just wanted to have a word with you.” There was a moment of silence as he went over some letters, making a slight change here and there. Finally he appended his signature with a flourish, and turned to the girl.
“And now that you’re in business,” he asked, “how do you like it?”
“I like it very much, sir.”
“I think you said something about
wanting to help your father—Did you succeed?”
“I hope so, sir—I think so.”
“I rather think so, too, my dear.”
Silas Enderby twisted uneasily in his chair as though uncertain as to just how to continue. Then he looked up with a smile.
“You’ll pardon the curiosity of an old man, won’t you?” he continued without waiting for an answer. “I was talking to your father about you a day or so ago. He seemed distressed. He told me about some young fellow—Harry, I think his name was. He had never seen him, he told me. That does seem a little strange, doesn’t it?” he said, looking up with a slow smile. “But anyway he did not seem to think much of him, seemed to be worrying a good deal.
“I was just wondering about it,” he continued. “Something has happened to your father. He’s a better man than he was. He’s the man I always knew he could be, now. I was just wondering—” he broke off, leaving the sentence unfinished.
“Your father hasn’t been very happy about you,” he continued after a pause, “I could see how worried he was, and I was sorry for your father, and for you because you could not like the sort of man your father would have liked. Do you think it is worth while worrying your father about this boy?” he asked gently.
“But he’s dead, sir.”
“Dead!” Silas Enderby, jumped up from hisseat. “You callous young mortal,” he concluded, eyeing her with wonder.
“Mr. Enderby—sir,” Dorothy hesitated and hung her head. “There never was a Harry Ransom. I made him myself. He was just all dad’s faults. He’s dead now, I think, because the worst of his faults are dead. But while he was living,” she looked up appealingly, “don’t you think he worked well?”
. The room grew full of Silas IJn(lerby’s mellow laughter. “Yes,” he said, “that boy certainly worked.'”