“If you knew what it felt like,” he whispered, as he held open the door for her, “to have something to wait for! And whether you realise it or not, you are with me—from now on—always—my inspiration—my daily happiness.”
Peter Phipps, sitting in his private office, might have served as the very prototype of a genial, shrewd and successful business man. The apartment was plainly and handsomely furnished. Although, only a few yards away, was a private exchange and an operator who controlled many private wires, a single telephone only stood upon his desk. The documents which cumbered it were arranged in methodical little heaps. His manager stood by his side, with a long slip of paper in his hand. The two men had been studying it together.
“A very excellently prepared document, Harrison,” his employer declared graciously, as he leaned back in his chair with the tips of his fingers pressed together. “Capitally prepared and very lucid. A good many million bushels, that. We are creeping up, Harrison—creeping up.”
Mr. Harrison bowed in recognition of his master’s words of commendation. He was a worn-looking, negative person, with a waxlike complexion, a furtive manner, and a marvellous head for the figures with which he juggled.
“The totals are enormous, sir,” he admitted, “and you may take it that they are absolutely correct. They represent our holdings as revised after the receipt of this morning’s mail. I should like to point out, too, sir, that they have increased out of all proportion to outside shipments, during the last four days.”
Phipps touched the Times with his forefinger.
“Did you notice, Harrison,” he asked, “that our shares touched a hundred and eighty last night on the street?”
“I was advised of it, sir,” was the quiet reply.
“My fellow directors and I,” Phipps continued, “are highly gratified with the services of our staff during this period of stress. You might let them know that in the counting house. We shall shortly take some opportunity of showing our appreciation.”
“You are very kind indeed, sir,” the manager acknowledged, without change of countenance. “I am sorry to have to report that Mr. Roberts wishes to leave us.”
“Roberts? One of our best buyers!” Phipps exclaimed. “Dear me, how’s that? Can’t we meet him, Harrison? Is it a matter of salary?”
“I am afraid not, sir.”
“Mr. Roberts has leanings towards socialism, sir. He seems to think that the energies of our company tend to increase the distress which exists in the north.”
The great man leaned back in his chair.
“God bless my soul!” he exclaimed. “What on earth has that to do with Roberts? He isn’t the conscience of the firm. He draws a matter of a thousand a year for doing as he is told.”