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Rufus Coleman is now a respectable member of society, an editor of the New York Eclipse. He is hoping to marry Majory Wainwright despite her father's reservations. As the war between Turkey and Greece erupts we find Majory unable to return from her trip to Greece.
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LONDON ∙ NEW YORK ∙ TORONTO ∙ SAO PAULO ∙ MOSCOW
PARIS ∙ MADRID ∙ BERLIN ∙ ROME ∙ MEXICO CITY ∙ MUMBAI ∙ SEOUL ∙ DOHA
TOKYO ∙ SYDNEY ∙ CAPE TOWN ∙ AUCKLAND ∙ BEIJING
Published by Sovereign Classic
First published in 2014
Copyright © 2014 Sovereign
Design and Artwork © 2014 www.urban-pic.co.uk
Images and Illustrations © 2014 Stocklibrary.org
All Rights Reserved.
ISBN: 9781910558140 (ebk)
MARJORY walked pensively along the hall. In the cool shadows made by the palms on the window ledge, her face wore the expression of thoughtful melancholy expected on the faces of the devotees who pace in cloistered gloom. She halted before a door at the end of the hall and laid her hand on the knob. She stood hesitating, her head bowed. It was evident that this mission was to require great fortitude.
At last she opened the door. “ Father,” she began at once. There was disclosed an elderly, narrow-faced man seated at a large table and surrounded by manuscripts and books. The sunlight flowing through curtains of Turkey red fell sanguinely upon the bust of dead-eyed Pericles on the mantle. A little clock was ticking, hidden somewhere among the countless leaves of writing, the maps and broad heavy tomes that swarmed upon the table.
Her father looked up quickly with an ogreish scowl.
Go away! “ he cried in a rage. “ Go away. Go away. Get out “ “ He seemed on the point of arising to eject the visitor. It was plain to her that he had been interrupted in the writing of one of his sentences, ponderous, solemn and endless, in which wandered multitudes of homeless and friendless prepositions, adjectives looking for a parent, and quarrelling nouns, sentences which no longer symbolised the languageform of thought but which had about them a quaint aroma from the dens of long-dead scholars. “ Get out,” snarled the professor.
Father,” faltered the girl. Either because his formulated thought was now completely knocked out of his mind by his own emphasis in defending it, or because he detected something of portent in her expression, his manner suddenly changed, and with a petulant glance at his writing he laid down his pen and sank back in his chair to listen. “ Well, what is it, my child ? “
The girl took a chair near the window and gazed out upon the snow-stricken campus, where at the moment a group of students returning from a class room were festively hurling snow-balls. “ I’ve got something important to tell you, father,” said she, but i don’t quite know how to say it.”
“Something important ? “ repeated the professor. He was not habitually interested in the affairs of his family, but this proclamation that something important could be connected with them, filled his mind with a capricious interest. “Well, what is it, Marjory ? “
She replied calmly: “ Rufus Coleman wants to marry me.”
“What?” demanded the professor loudly. “Rufus Coleman.
What do you mean? “
The girl glanced furtively at him. She did not seem to be able to frame a suitable sentence.
As for the professor, he had, like all men both thoughtless and thoughtful, told himself that one day his daughter would come to him with a tale of this kind. He had never forgotten that the little girl was to be a woman, and he had never forgotten that this tall, lithe creature, the present Marjory, was a woman. He had been entranced and confident or entranced and apprehensive according’ to the time. A man focussed upon astronomy, the pig market or social progression, may nevertheless have a secondary mind which hovers like a spirit over his dahlia tubers and dreams upon the mystery of their slow and tender revelations. The professor’s secondary mind had dwelt always with his daughter and watched with a faith and delight the changing to a woman of a certain fat and mumbling babe. However, he now saw this machine, this self- sustaining, self-operative love, which had run with the ease of a clock, suddenly crumble to ashes and leave the mind of a great scholar staring at a calamity. “ Rufus Coleman,” he repeated, stunned. Here was his daughter, very obviously desirous of marrying Rufus Coleman. “ Marjory,” he cried in amazement and fear, “what possesses, you? Marry Rufus Colman?”
The girl seemed to feel a strong sense of relief at his prompt recognition of a fact. Being freed from the necessity of making a flat declaration, she simply hung her head and blushed impressively. A hush fell upon them. The professor stared long at his daugh. ter. The shadow of unhappiness deepened upon his face. “ Marjory, Marjory,” he murmured at last. He had tramped heroically upon his panic and devoted his strength to bringing thought into some kind of attitude toward this terrible fact. “ I am-I am surprised,” he began. Fixing her then with a stern eye, he asked: “Why do you wish to marry this man? You, with your opportunities of meeting persons of intelligence. And you want to marry-” His voice grew tragic. “You want to marry the Sunday editor of the New York Eclipse.”
“ It is not so very terrible, is it?” said Marjory sullenly.
“Wait a moment; don’t talk,” cried the professor. He arose and walked nervously to and fro, his hands flying in the air. He was very red behind the ears as when in the Classroom some student offended him. “ A gambler, a sporter of fine clothes, an expert on champagne, a polite loafer, a witness knave who edits the Sunday edition of a great outrage upon our sensibilities. You want to marry him, this man? Marjory, you are insane. This fraud who asserts that his work is intelligent, this fool comes here to my house and-”
He became aware that his daughter was regarding him coldly. “I thought we had best have all this part of it over at once,” she remarked.
He confronted her in a new kind of surprise. The little keen- eyed professor was at this time imperial, on the verge of a majestic outburst. “ Be still,” he said. “Don’t be clever with your father. Don’t be a dodger. Or, if you are, don’t speak of it to me. I suppose this fine young man expects to see me personally ? “
“ He was coming to-morrow,” replied Marjory. She began to weep. “ He was coming to-morrow.”
“ Um,” said the professor. He continued his pacing while Marjory wept with her head bowed to the arm of the chair. His brow made the three dark vertical crevices well known to his students. Some. times he glowered murderously at the photographs of ancient temples which adorned the walls. “My poor child,” he said once, as he paused near her, “ to think I never knew you were a fool. I have been deluding myself. It has been my fault as much as it has been yours. I will not readily forgive myself.”
The girl raised her face and looked at him. Finally, resolved to disregard the dishevelment wrought by tears, she presented a desperate front with her wet eyes and flushed cheeks. Her hair was disarrayed. “I don’t see why you can call me a fool,” she said. The pause before this sentence had been so portentous of a wild and rebellious speech that the professor almost laughed now. But still the father for the first time knew that he was being un-dauntedly faced by his child in his own library, in the presence Of 372 pages of the book that was to be his masterpiece. At the back of his mind he felt a great awe as if his own youthful spirit had come from the past and challenged him with a glance. For a moment he was almost a defeated man. He dropped into a chair. “ Does your mother know of this “ “ he asked mournfully.
“Yes,” replied the girl. “She knows. She has been trying to make me give up Rufus.”
“Rufus,” cried the professor rejuvenated by anger.
“Well, his name is Rufus,” said the girl.
“But please don’t call him so before me,” said the father with icy dignity. “ I do not recognise him as being named Rufus. That is a contention of yours which does not arouse my interest. I know him very well as a gambler and a drunkard, and if incidentally, he is named Rufus, I fail to see any importance to it.”
“ He is not a gambler and he is not a drunkard,” she said.
“ Um. He drinks heavily-that is well known. He gambles. He plays cards for money—more than he possesses-at least he did when he was in college.”
“ You said you liked him when he was in college.”
“ So I did. So I did,” answered the professor sharply. “ I often find myself liking that kind of a boy in college. Don’t I know them-those lads with their beer and their poker games in the dead of the night with a towel hung over the keyhole. Their habits are often vicious enough, but something remains in them through it all and they may go away and do great things. This happens. We know it. It happens with confusing insistence. It destroys theo- ries. There-there isn’t much to say about it. And sometimes we like this kind of a boy better than we do the-the others. For my part I know of many a pure, pious and fine- minded student that I have positively loathed from a personal point-of-view. But,” he added, “ this Rufus Coleman, his life in college and his life since, go to prove how often we get off the track. There is no gauge of collegiate conduct whatever, until we can get evidence of the man’s work in the world. Your precious scoundrel’s evidence is now all in and he is a failure, or worse.”
“ You are not habitually so fierce in judging people,” said the girl.
“I would be if they all wanted to marry my daughter,” rejoined the professor. “ Rather than let that man make love to you-or even be within a short railway journey of you, I’ll cart you off to Europe this winter and keep you there until you forget. If you persist in this silly fancy, I shall at once become medieval.”
Marjory had evidently recovered much of her composure. “Yes, father, new climates are alway’s supposed to cure one,” she remarked with a kind of lightness.
“ It isn’t so much the old expedient,” said the professor musingly, “as it is that I would be afraid to leave you herewith no protection against that drinking gambler and gambling drunkard.”
“ Father, I have to ask you not to use such terms in speaking of the man that I shall marry.”
There was a silence. To all intents, the professor remained unmoved. He smote the tips of his fingers thoughtfully together. “ Ye-es,” he observed. “That sounds reasonable from your standpoint.” His eyes studied her face in a long and steady glance. He arose and went into the hall. When he returned he wore his hat and great coat. He took a book and some papers from the table and went away.
Marjory walked slowly through the halls and up to her room. From a window she could see her father making his way across the campus labouriously against the wind and whirling snow. She watched it, this little black figure, bent forward, patient, steadfast. It was an inferior fact that her father was one of the famous scholars of the generation. To her, he was now a little old man facing the wintry winds. Recollect. ing herself and Rufus Coleman she began to weep again, wailing amid the ruins of her tumbled hopes. Her skies had turned to paper and her trees were mere bits of green sponge. But amid all this woe appeared the little black image of her father making its way against the storm.
IN a high-walled corrider of one of the college buildings, a crowd of students waited amid jostlings and a loud buzz of talk. Suddenly a huge pair of doors flew open and a wedge of young men inserted itself boisterously and deeply into the throng. There was a great scuffle attended by a general banging of books upon heads. The two lower classes engaged in herculean play while members of the two higher classes, standing aloof, devoted themselves strictly to the encouragement of whichever party for a moment lost ground or heart. This was in order to prolong the conflict.
The combat, waged in the desperation of proudest youth, waxed hot and hotter. The wedge had been instantly smitten into a kind of block of men. It had crumpled into an irregular square and on three sides it was now assailed with remarkable ferocity.
It was a matter of wall meet wall in terrific rushes, during which lads could feel their very hearts leaving them in the compress of friends and foes. They on the outskirts upheld the honour of their classes by squeezing into paper thickness the lungs of those of their fellows who formed the centre of the melee
In some way it resembled a panic at a theatre.
The first lance-like attack of the Sophomores had been formidable, but the Freshmen outnumbering their enemies and smarting from continual Sophomoric oppression, had swarmed to the front like drilled collegians and given the arrogant foe the first serious check of the year. Therefore the tall Gothic windows which lined one side of the corridor looked down upon as incomprehensible and enjoyable a tumult as could mark the steps of advanced education. The Seniors and juniors cheered themselves ill. Long freed from the joy of such meetings, their only means for this kind of recreation was to involve the lower classes, and they had never seen the victims fall to with such vigour and courage. Bits of printed leaves, torn note-books, dismantled collars and cravats, all floated to the floor beneath the feet of the warring hordes. There were no blows; it was a battle of pressure. It was a deadly pushing where the leaders on either side often suffered the most cruel and sickening agony caught thus between phalanxes of shoulders with friend as well as foe contributing to the pain.
Charge after charge of Freshmen beat upon the now compact and organised Sophomores. Then, finally, the rock began to give slow way. A roar came from the Freshmen and they hurled themselves in a frenzy upon their betters.
To be under the gaze of the juniors and Seniors is to be in sight of all men, and so the Sophomores at this important moment laboured with the desperation of the half- doomed to stem the terrible Freshmen.
In the kind of game, it was the time when bad tempers came strongly to the front, and in many Sophomores’ minds a thought arose of the incomparable insolence of the Freshmen. A blow was struck; an infuriated Sophomore had swung an arm high and smote a Freshman.
Although it had seemed that no greater noise could be made by the given numbers, the din that succeeded this manifestation surpassed everything. The juniors and Seniors immediately set up an angry howl. These veteran classes projected themselves into the middle of the fight, buffeting everybody with small thought as to merit. This method of bringing peace was as militant as a landslide, but they had much trouble before they could separate the central clump of antagonists into its parts. A score of Freshmen had cried out: “It was Coke. Coke punched him. Coke.” A dozen of them were tempestuously endeavouring to register their protest against fisticuffs by means of an introduction of more fisticuffs.
The upper classmen were swift, harsh and hard. “Come, now, Freshies, quit it. Get back, get back, d’y’hear?” With a wrench of muscles they forced themselves in front of Coke, who was being blindly defended by his classmates from intensely earnest attacks by outraged Freshmen.
These meetings between the lower classes at the door of a recitation room were accounted quite comfortable and idle affairs, and a blow delivered openly and in hatred fractured a sharply defined rule of conduct. The corridor was in a hubbub. Many Seniors and Juniors, bursting from old and iron discipline, wildly clamoured that some Freshman should be given the privilege of a single encounter with Coke. The Freshmen themselves were frantic. They besieged the tight and dauntless circle of men that encompassed Coke. None dared confront the Seniors openly, but by headlong rushes at auspicious moments they tried to come to quarters with the rings of dark-browed Sophomores. It was no longer a festival, a game; it was a riot. Coke, wild-eyed, pallid with fury, a ribbon of blood on his chin, swayed in the middle of the mob of his classmates, comrades who waived the ethics of the blow under the circumstance of being obliged as a corps to stand against the scorn of the whole college, as well as against the tremendous assaults of the Freshmen. Shamed by their own man, but knowing full well the right time and the wrong time for a palaver of regret and disavowal, this battalion struggled in the desperation of despair. Once they were upon the verge of making unholy campaign against the interfering Seniors. This fiery impertinence was the measure of their state.
It was a critical moment in the play of the college. Four or five defeats from the Sophomores during the fall had taught the Freshmen much. They had learned the comparative measurements, and they knew now that their prowess was ripe to enable them to amply revenge what was, according to their standards, an execrable deed by a man who had not the virtue to play the rough game, but was obliged to resort to uncommon methods. In short, the Freshmen were almost out of control, and the Sophomores debased but defiant, were quite out of control. The Senior and junior classes which, in American colleges dictate in these affrays, found their dignity toppling, and in consequence there was a sudden oncome of the entire force of upper classmen football players naturally in advance. All distinctions were dissolved at once in a general fracas. The stiff and still Gothic windows surveyed a scene of dire carnage.
Suddenly a voice rang brazenly through the tumult. It was not loud, but it was different. “ Gentlemen! Gentlemen!’” Instantly there was a remarkable number of haltings, abrupt replacements, quick changes. Prof. Wainwright stood at the door of his recitation room, looking into the eyes of each member of the mob of three hundred. “Ssh! “ said the mob. “ Ssh! Quit! Stop! It’s the Embassador! Stop!” He had once been minister to Austro-Hungary, and forever now to the students of the college his name was Embassador. He stepped into the corridor, and they cleared for him a little respectful zone of floor. He looked about him coldly. “ It seems quite a general dishevelment. The Sophomores display an energy in the halls which I do not detect in the class room.” A feeble murmur of appreciation arose from the outskirts of the throng. While he had been speaking several remote groups of battling men had been violently signaled and suppressed by other students. The professor gazed into terraces of faces that were still inflamed. “ I needn’t say that I am surprised,” he remarked in the accepted rhetoric of his kind. He added musingly: “ There seems to be a great deal of torn linen. Who is the young gentleman with blood on his chin?”
The throng moved restlessly. A manful silence, such as might be in the tombs of stern and honourable knights, fell upon the shadowed corridor. The subdued rustling had fainted to nothing. Then out of the crowd Coke, pale and desperate, delivered himself.
“ Oh, Mr. Coke,” said the professor, “I would be glad if you would tell the gentlemen they may retire to their dormitories.” He waited while the students passed out to the campus.
The professor returned to his room for some books, and then began his own march across the snowy campus. The wind twisted his coat-tails fantastically, and he was obliged to keep one hand firmly on the top of his hat. When he arrived home he met his wife in the hall. “ Look here, Mary,” he cried. She followed him into the library. “ Look here,” he said. “What is this all about? Marjory tells me she wants to marry Rufus Coleman.”
Mrs. Wainwright was a fat woman who was said to pride herself upon being very wise and if necessary, sly. In addition she laughed continually in an inexplicably personal way, which apparently made everybody who heard her feel offended. Mrs. Wainwright laughed.
“Well,” said the professor, bristling, “ what do you mean by that ? “
“Oh, Harris,” she replied. “ Oh, Harris.”
The professor straightened in his chair. “ I do not see any
illumination in those remarks, Mary. I understand from
Marjory’s manner that she is bent upon marrying Rufus
Coleman. She said you knew of it.”
“ Why, of course I knew. It was as plain—-”
“ Plain !” scoffed the professor. “ Plain !”
Why, of course,” she cried. “I knew it all along.”
There was nothing in her tone which proved that she admired the event itself. She was evidently carried away by the triumph of her penetration. “ I knew it all along,” she added, nodding.
The professor looked at her affectionately. “You knew it all along, then, Mary? Why didn’t you tell me, dear ? “
“ Because you ought to have known it,” she answered blatantly.
The professor was glaring. Finally he spoke in tones of grim reproach. “Mary, whenever you happen to know anything, dear, it seems only a matter of partial recompense that you should tell me.”
The wife had been taught in a terrible school that she should never invent any inexpensive retorts concerning bookworms and so she yawed at once. “Really, Harris. Really, I didn’t suppose the affair was serious. You could have knocked me down with a feather. Of course he has been here very often, but then Marjory gets a great deal of attention. A great deal of attention.” The professor had been thinking. “ Rather than let my girl marry that scalawag, I’ll take you and her to Greece this winter with the class. Separation. It is a sure cure that has the sanction of antiquity.”
“Well,” said Mrs. Wainwright, “you know best, Harris. You know best.” It was a common remark with her, and it probably meant either approbation or disapprobation if it did not mean simple discretion.
THERE had been a babe with no arms born in one of the western counties of Massachusetts. In place of upper limbs the child had growing from its chest a pair of fin-like hands, mere bits of skin-covered bone. Furthermore, it had only one eye. This phenomenon lived four days, but the news of the birth had travelled up this country road and through that village until it reached the ears of the editor of the Michaelstown Tribune. He was also a correspondent of the New York Eclipse. On the third day he appeared at the home of the parents accompanied by a photographer. While the latter arranged his, instrument, the correspondent talked to the father and mother, two coweyed and yellow-faced people who seemed to suffer a primitive fright of the strangers. Afterwards as the correspondent and the photographer were climbing into their buggy, the mother crept furtively down to the gate and asked, in a foreigner’s dialect, if they would send her a copy of the photograph. The correspondent carelessly indulgent, promised it. As the buggy swung away, the father came from behind an apple tree, and the two semi-humans watched it with its burden of glorious strangers until it rumbled across the bridge and disappeared. The correspondent was elate; he told the photographer that the Eclipse would probably pay fifty dollars for the article and the photograph.
The office of the New York Eclipse was at the top of the immense building on Broadway. It was a sheer mountain to the heights of which the interminable thunder of the streets arose faintly. The Hudson was a broad path of silver in the distance. Its edge was marked by the tracery of sailing ships’ rigging and by the huge and many-coloured stacks of ocean liners. At the foot of the cliff lay City Hall Park. It seemed no larger than a quilt. The grey walks patterned the snow-covering into triangles and ovals and upon them many tiny people scurried here and there, without sound, like a fish at the bottom of a pool. It was only the vehicles that sent high, unmistakable, the deep bass of their movement. And yet after listening one seemed to hear a singular murmurous note, a pulsation, as if the crowd made noise by its mere living, a mellow hum of the eternal strife. Then suddenly out of the deeps might ring a human voice, a newsboy shout perhaps, the cry of a faraway jackal at night.
From the level of the ordinary roofs, combined in many plateaus, dotted with short iron chimneys from which curled wisps of steam, arose other mountains like the Eclipse Building. They were great peaks, ornate, glittering with paint or polish. Northward they subsided to sun-crowned ranges.
From some of the windows of the Eclipse office dropped the walls of a terrible chasm in the darkness of which could be seen vague struggling figures. Looking down into this appalling crevice one discovered only the tops of hats and knees which in spasmodic jerks seemed to touch the rims of the hats. The scene represented some weird fight or dance or carouse. It was not an exhibition of men hurrying along a narrow street.
It was good to turn one’s eyes from that place to the vista of the city’s splendid reaches, with spire and spar shining in the clear atmosphere and the marvel of the Jersey shore, pearl- misted or brilliant with detail. From this height the sweep of a snow-storm was defined and majestic. Even a slight summer shower, with swords of lurid yellow sunlight piercing its edges as if warriors were contesting every foot of its advance, was from the Eclipse office something so inspiring that the chance pilgrim felt a sense of exultation as if from this peak he was surveying the worldwide war of the elements and life. The staff of the Eclipse usually worked without coats and amid the smoke from pipes.
To one of the editorial chambers came a photograph and an article from Michaelstown, Massachusetts. A boy placed the packet and many others upon the desk of a young man who was standing before a window and thoughtfully drumming upon the pane. He turned at the thudding of the packets upon his desk. “ Blast you,” he remarked amiably. “ Oh, I guess it won’t hurt you to work,” answered the boy, grinning with a comrade’s Insolence. Baker, an assistant editor for the Sunday paper, took scat at his desk and began the task of examining the packets. His face could not display any particular interest because he had been at the same work for nearly a fortnight.
The first long envelope he opened was from a woman. There was a neat little manuscript accompanied by a letter which explained that the writer was a widow who was trying to make her living by her pen and who, further, hoped that the generosity of the editor of the Eclipse would lead him to give her article the opportunity which she was sure it deserved. She hoped that the editor would pay her as well as possible for it, as she needed the money greatly. She added that her brother was a reporter on the Little Rock Sentinel and he had declared that her literary style was excellent. Baker really did not read this note. His vast experience of a fortnight had enabled him to detect its kind in two glances. He unfolded the manuscript, looked at it woodenly and then tossed it with the letter to the top of his desk, where it lay with the other corpses. None could think of widows in Arkansas, ambitious from the praise of the reporter on the Little Rock Sentinel, waiting for a crown of literary glory and money. In the next envelope a man using the note-paper of a Boston journal begged to know if the accompanying article would be acceptable; if not it was to be kindly returned in the enclosed stamped envelope. It was a humourous essay on trolley cars. Adventuring through the odd scraps that were come to the great mill, Baker paused occasionally to relight his pipe.
As he went through envelope after envelope, the desks about him gradually were occupied by young men who entered from the hall with their faces still red from the cold of the streets. For the most part they bore the unmistakable stamp of the American college. They had that confident poise which is easily brought from the athletic field. Moreover, their clothes were quite in the way of being of the newest fashion. There was an air of precision about their cravats and linen. But on the other hand there might be with them some indifferent westerner who was obliged to resort to irregular means and harangue startled shop-keepers in order to provide himself with collars of a strange kind. He was usually very quick and brave of eye and noted for his inability to perceive a distinction between his own habit and the habit of others, his western character preserving itself inviolate amid a confusion of manners.
The men, coming one and one, or two and two, flung badinage to all corners of the room. Afterward, as they wheeled from time to time in their chairs, they bitterly insulted each other with the utmost good-nature, taking unerring aim at faults and riddling personalities with the quaint and cynical humour of a newspaper office. Throughout this banter, it was strange to note how infrequently the men smiled, particularly when directly engaged in an encounter.
A wide door opened into another apartment where were many little slanted tables, each under an electric globe with a green shade. Here a curly-headed scoundrel with a corncob pipe was hurling paper balls the size of apples at the head of an industrious man who, under these difficulties, was trying to draw a picture of an awful wreck with ghastly-faced sailors frozen in the rigging. Near this pair a lady was challenging a German artist who resembled Napoleon III. with having been publicly drunk at a music hall on the previous night. Next to the great gloomy corridor of this sixteenth floor was a little office presided over by an austere boy, and here waited in enforced patience a little dismal band of people who wanted to see the Sunday editor.
Baker took a manuscript and after glancing about the room, walked over to a man at another desk, Here is something that. I think might do,” he said. The man at the desk read the first two pages. “ But where is the photogragh “ “ he asked then. “There should be a photograph with this thing.”
“ Oh, I forgot,” said Baker. He brought from his desk a photograph of the babe that had been born lacking arms and one eye. Baker’s superior braced a knee against his desk and settled back to a judicial attitude. He took the photograph and looked at it impassively. “ Yes,” he said, after a time, “ that’s a pretty good thing. You better show that to Coleman when he comes in.”
In the little office where the dismal band waited, there had been a sharp hopeful stir when Rufus Coleman, the Sunday editor, passed rapidly from door to door and vanished within the holy precincts. It had evidently been in the minds of some to accost him then, but his eyes did not turn once in their direction. It was as if he had not seen them. Many experiences had taught him that the proper manner of passing through this office was at a blind gallop.
The dismal band turned then upon the austere office boy. Some demanded with terrible dignity that he should take in their cards at once. Others sought to ingratiate themselves by smiles of tender friendliness. He for his part employed what we would have called his knowledge of men and women upon the group, and in consequence blundered and bungled vividly, freezing with a glance an annoyed and importunate Arctic explorer who was come to talk of illustrations for an article that had been lavishly paid for in advance. The hero might have thought he was again in the northern seas. At the next moment the boy was treating almost courteously a German from the cast side who wanted the Eclipse to print a grand full page advertising description of his invention, a gun which was supposed to have a range of forty miles and to be able to penetrate anything with equanimity and joy. The gun, as a matter of fact, had once been induced to go off when it had hurled itself passionately upon its back, incidentally breaking its inventor’s leg. The projectile had wandered some four hundred yards seaward, where it dug a hole in the water which was really a menace to navigation. Since then there had been nothing tangible save the inventor, in splints and out of splints, as the fortunes of science decreed. In short, this office boy mixed his business in the perfect manner of an underdone lad dealing with matters too large for him, and throughout he displayed the pride and assurance of a god.
As Coleman crossed the large office his face still wore the stern expression which he invariably used to carry him unmolested through the ranks of the dismal band. As he was removing his London overcoat he addressed the imperturbable back of one of his staff, who had a desk against the opposite wall. “ Has Hasskins sent in that drawing of the mine accident yet? “ The man did not lift his head from his work-, but he answered at once: “ No; not yet.” Coleman was laying his hat on a chair. “ Well, why hasn’t he ? “ he demanded. He glanced toward the door of the room in which the curly-headed scoundrel with the corncob pipe was still hurling paper balls at the man who was trying to invent the postures of dead mariners frozen in the rigging. The office boy came timidly from his post and informed Coleman of the waiting people. “ All right,” said the editor. He dropped into his chair and began to finger his letters, which had been neatly opened and placed in a little stack by a boy. Baker came in with the photograph of the miserable babe.
It was publicly believed that the Sunday staff of the Eclipse must have a kind of aesthetic delight in pictures of this kind, but Coleman’s face betrayed no emotion as he looked at this specimen. He lit a fresh cigar, tilted his chair and surveyed it with a cold and stony stare. “ Yes, that’s all right,” he said slowly. There seemed to be no affectionate relation between him and this picture. Evidently he was weighing its value as a morsel to be flung to a ravenous public, whose wolf-like appetite, could only satisfy itself upon mental entrails, abominations. As for himself, he seemed to be remote, exterior. It was a matter of the Eclipse business.
Suddenly Coleman became executive. “ Better give it to Schooner and tell him to make a half-page—-or, no, send him in here and I’ll tell him my idea. How’s the article? Any good? Well, give it to Smith to rewrite.”
An artist came from the other room and presented for inspection his drawing of the seamen dead in the rigging of the wreck, a company of grizzly and horrible figures, bony-fingered, shrunken and with awful eyes. “ Hum,” said Coleman, after a prolonged study, “ that’s all right. That’s good, Jimmie. But you’d better work ‘em up around the eyes a little more.” The office boy was deploying in the distance, waiting for the correct moment to present some cards and names.
The artist was cheerfully taking away his corpses when Coleman hailed him. “ Oh, Jim, let me see that thing again, will you? Now, how about this spar? This don’t look right to me.”
“ It looks right to me,” replied the artist, sulkily.
“ But, see. It’s going to take up half a page. Can’t you change it somehow “
How am I going to change it?” said the other, glowering at Coleman. “ That’s the way it ought to be. How am I going to change it? That’s the way it ought to be.”
“ No, it isn’t at all,” said Coleman. “You’ve got a spar sticking out of the main body of the drawing in a way that will spoil the look of the whole page.”
The artist was a man of remarkable popular reputation and he was very stubborn and conceited of it, constantly making himself unbearable with covert, threats that if he was not delicately placated at all points, he would freight his genius over to the office of the great opposition journal.
“ That’s the way it ought to be,” he repeated, in a tone at once sullen and superior. “The spar is all right. I can’t rig spars on ships just to suit you.”
“ And I can’t give up the whole paper to your accursed spars, either,” said Coleman, with animation. “ Don’t you see you use about a third of a page with this spar sticking off into space? Now, you were always so clever, Jimmie, in adapting yourself to the page. Can’t you shorten it, or cut it off, or something? Or, break it-that’s the thing. Make it a broken spar dangling down. See? “
“ Yes, I s’pose I could do that,” said the artist, mollified by a thought of the ease with which he could make the change, and mollified, too, by the brazen tribute to a part of his cleverness.
“ Well, do it, then,” said the Sunday editor, turning abruptly away. The artist, with head high, walked majestically back to the other room. Whereat the curly-headed one immediately resumed the rain of paper balls upon him. The office boy came timidly to Coleman and suggested the presence of the people in the outer office. “ Let them wait until I read my mail,” said Coleman. He shuffled the pack of letters indifferently through his hands. Suddenly he came upon a little grey envelope. He opened it at once and scanned its contents with the speed of his craft. Afterward he laid it down before him on the desk and surveyed it with a cool and musing smile. “So?” he remarked. “ That’s the case, is it?”
He presently swung around in his chair, and for a time held the entire attention of the men at the various desks. He outlined to them again their various parts in the composition of the next great Sunday edition. In a few brisk sentences he set a complex machine in proper motion. His men no longer thrilled with admiration at the precision with which he grasped each obligation of the campaign toward a successful edition. They had grown to accept it as they accepted his hat or his London clothes. At this time his face was lit with something of the self-contained enthusiasm of a general. Immediately afterward he arose and reached for his coat and hat.
The office boy, coming circuitously forward, presented him with some cards and also with a scrap of paper upon which was scrawled a long and semicoherent word. “ What are these ? “ grumbled Coleman.
“They are waiting outside,” answered the boy, with trepidation. It was part of the law that the lion of the ante-room should cringe like a cold monkey, more or less, as soon as he was out of his private jungle. “Oh, Tallerman,” cried the Sunday editor, “here’s this Arctic man come to arrange about his illustration. I wish you’d go and talk it over with him.” By chance he picked up the scrap of paper with its cryptic word. “ Oh,” he said, scowling at the office boy. “Pity you can’t remember that fellow. If you can’t remember faces any better than that you should be a detective. Get out now and tell him to go to the devil.” The wilted slave turned at once, but Coleman hailed him. “ Hold on. Come to think of it, I will see this idiot. Send him in,” he commanded, grimly.
Coleman lapsed into a dream over the sheet of grey note paper. Presently, a middle-aged man, a palpable German, came hesitatingly into the room and bunted among the desks as unmanageably as a tempest-tossed scow. Finally he was impatiently towed in the right direction. He came and stood at Coleman’s elbow and waited nervously for the engrossed man to raise his eyes. It was plain that this interview meant important things to him. Somehow on his commonplace countenance was to be found the expression of a dreamer, a fashioner of great and absurd projects, a fine, tender fool. He cast hopeful and reverent glances at the man who was deeply contemplative of the grey note. He evidently believed himself on the threshold of a triumph of some kind, and he awaited his fruition with a joy that was only made sharper by the usual human suspicion of coming events.
Coleman glanced up at last and saw his visitor.
“ Oh, it’s you, is it ? “ he remarked icily, bending upon the German the stare of a tyrant. “So you’ve come again, have you? “ He wheeled in his chair until he could fully display a contemptuous, merciless smile. “Now, Mr. What’s-your-name, you’ve called here to see me about twenty times already and at last I am going to say something definite about your invention.” His listener’s face, which had worn for a moment a look of fright and bewilderment, gladdened swiftly to a gratitude that seemed the edge of an outburst of tears. “ Yes,” continued Coleman, “ I am going to say something definite. I am going to say that it is the most imbecile bit of nonsense that has come within the range of my large newspaper experience. It is simply the aberration of a rather remarkable lunatic. It is no good; it is not worth the price of a cheese sandwich. I understand that its one feat has been to break your leg; if it ever goes off again, persuade it to break your neck. And now I want you to take this nursery rhyme of yours and get out. And don’t ever come here again. Do You understand ? You understand, do you ?” He arose and bowed in courteous dismissal.
The German was regarding him with the surprise and horror of a youth shot mortally. He could not find his tongue for a moment. Ultimately he gasped : “But, Mister Editor “—Coleman interrupted him tigerishly. “ You heard what I said? Get out.” The man bowed his head and went slowly toward the door.
Coleman placed the little grey note in his breast pocket. He took his hat and top coat, and evading the dismal band by a shameless manoeuvre, passed through the halls to the entrance to the elevator shaft. He heard a movement behind him and saw that the German was also waiting for the elevator. Standing in the gloom of the corridor, Coleman felt the mournful owlish eyes of the German resting upon him. He took a case from his pocket and elaborately lit a cigarette. Suddenly there was a flash of light and a cage of bronze, gilt and steel dropped, magically from above. Coleman yelled: “ Down!” A door flew open. Coleman, followed by the German, stepped upon the elevator. “ Well, Johnnie,” he said cheerfully to the lad who operated this machine, “is business good?” “Yes, sir, pretty good,” answered the boy, grinning. The little cage sank swiftly; floor after floor seemed to be rising with marvellous speed; the whole building was winging straight into the sky. There were soaring lights, figures and the opalescent glow of ground glass doors marked with black inscriptions. Other lifts were springing heavenward. All the lofty corridors rang with cries. “ Up! “ Down! “ “ Down! “ “ Up! “ The boy’s hand grasped a lever and his machine obeyed his lightest movement with sometimes an unbalancing swiftness.
Coleman discoursed briskly to the youthful attendant. Once he turned and regarded with a quick stare of insolent annoyance the despairing countenance of the German whose eyes had never left him. When the elevator arrived at the ground floor, Coleman departed with the outraged air of a man who for a time had been compelled to occupy a cell in company with a harmless spectre.
He walked quickly away. Opposite a corner of the City Hall he was impelled to look behind him. Through the hordes of people with cable cars marching like panoplied elephants, he was able to distinguish the German, motionless and gazing after him. Coleman laughed. “ That’s a comic old boy,” he said, to himself.
In the grill-room of a Broadway hotel he was obliged to wait some minutes for the fulfillment of his orders and he spent the time in reading and studying the little grey note. When his luncheon was served he ate with an expression of morose dignity.
MARJORY paused again at her father’s door. After hesitating in the original way she entered the library. Her father almost represented an emblematic figure, seated upon a column of books. “ Well,” he cried. Then, seeing it was Marjory, he changed his tone. “ Ah, under the circumstances, my dear, I admit your privilege of interrupting me at any hour of the day. You have important business with me.” His manner was satanically indulgent.
The girl fingered a book. She turned the leaves in absolute semblance of a person reading. “Rufus Coleman called.”
“Indeed,” said the professor.
“And I’ve come to you, father, before seeing him.”
The professor was silent for a time. “ Well, Marjory,” he said at last, “what do you want me to say?” He spoke very deliberately. “ I am sure this is a singular situation. Here appears the man I formally forbid you to marry. I am sure I do not know what I am to say.”
“ I wish to see him,” said the girl.
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