She had enough left from the eighty dollars to bring her to New York and to pay for a week’s lodging in West Thirty-fourth Street, though how she managed it Mitchell never knew. She was at the dock, of course. He knew she would be. He expected to see her with her arms outstretched and with the old joyous smile upon her dimpled face, and, therefore, he was sorely disappointed when he came down the gang-plank and she did not appear. He searched high and low until finally he discovered her seated over by the letter “M,” where his trunk was waiting inspection. There she was, huddled up on a coil of rope, crying as if her heart would break; her nerve was gone, along with the four twenty-dollar bills; she was afraid to face him, afraid there had been an error in his cablegram.
Not until she lay in his arms at last, sobbing and laughing, her slender body all aquiver, did she believe. Then he allowed her to feel the fifteen contracts inside his coat. Later, when they were in a cab bound for her smelly little boarding-house, he showed them to her. In return she gave him a telegram from his firm—a telegram addressed as follows:
Mr. LOUIS MITCHELL,
General Sales Manager, Comer & Mathison, New York City.
The message read:
That goes. COMER.
Mitchell opened the trap above his head and called up to the driver: “Hey, Cabbie! We’ve changed our minds. Drive us to the Waldorf—at a gallop.”
This is the tale of a wrong that rankled and a great revenge. It is not a moral story, nor yet, measured by the modern money code, is it what could be called immoral. It is merely a tale of sharp wits which clashed in pursuit of business, therefore let it be considered unmoral, a word with a wholly different commercial significance.
Time was when wrongs were righted by mace and battle-ax, amid fanfares and shoutings, but we live in a quieter age, an age of repression, wherein the keenest thrust is not delivered with a yell of triumph nor the oldest score settled to the blare of trumpets. No longer do the men of great muscle lord it over the weak and the puny; as a rule they toil and they lift, doing unpleasant, menial duties for hollow-chested, big-domed men with eye-glasses. But among those very spindle-shanked, terra-cotta dwellers who cower at draughts and eat soda mints, the ancient struggle for supremacy wages fiercer than ever. Single combats are fought now as then, and the flavor of victory is quite as sweet to the pallid man back of a roll-top desk as to the swart, bristling baron behind his vizored helmet.
The beginning of this story runs back to the time Henry Hanford went with the General Equipment Company as a young salesman full of hope and enthusiasm and a somewhat exaggerated idea of his own importance. He was selling shears, punches, and other machinery used in the fabrication of structural steel. In the territory assigned to him, the works of the Atlantic Bridge Company stuck up like a sore thumb, for although it employed many men, although its contracts were large and its requirements numerous, the General Equipment Company had never sold it a dollar’s worth of anything.