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Babbit eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 351 pages of information about Babbit.

Graff continued to stand, grunting, “I suppose that old nut Varney has been in to see you.  Let me explain about him.  He’s a regular tightwad, and he sticks out for every cent, and he practically lied to me about his ability to pay the rent—­I found that out just after we signed up.  And then another fellow comes along with a better offer for the house, and I felt it was my duty to the firm to get rid of Varney, and I was so worried about it I skun up there and got back the lease.  Honest, Mr. Babbitt, I didn’t intend to pull anything crooked.  I just wanted the firm to have all the commis—­”

“Wait now, Stan.  This may all be true, but I’ve been having a lot of complaints about you.  Now I don’t s’pose you ever mean to do wrong, and I think if you just get a good lesson that’ll jog you up a little, you’ll turn out a first-class realtor yet.  But I don’t see how I can keep you on.”

Graff leaned against the filing-cabinet, his hands in his pockets, and laughed.  “So I’m fired!  Well, old Vision and Ethics, I’m tickled to death!  But I don’t want you to think you can get away with any holier-than-thou stuff.  Sure I’ve pulled some raw stuff—­a little of it—­but how could I help it, in this office?”

“Now, by God, young man—­”

“Tut, tut!  Keep the naughty temper down, and don’t holler, because everybody in the outside office will hear you.  They’re probably listening right now.  Babbitt, old dear, you’re crooked in the first place and a damn skinflint in the second.  If you paid me a decent salary I wouldn’t have to steal pennies off a blind man to keep my wife from starving.  Us married just five months, and her the nicest girl living, and you keeping us flat broke all the time, you damned old thief, so you can put money away for your saphead of a son and your wishywashy fool of a daughter!  Wait, now!  You’ll by God take it, or I’ll bellow so the whole office will hear it!  And crooked—­Say, if I told the prosecuting attorney what I know about this last Street Traction option steal, both you and me would go to jail, along with some nice, clean, pious, high-up traction guns!”

“Well, Stan, looks like we were coming down to cases.  That deal—­There was nothing crooked about it.  The only way you can get progress is for the broad-gauged men to get things done; and they got to be rewarded—­”

“Oh, for Pete’s sake, don’t get virtuous on me!  As I gather it, I’m fired.  All right.  It’s a good thing for me.  And if I catch you knocking me to any other firm, I’ll squeal all I know about you and Henry T. and the dirty little lickspittle deals that you corporals of industry pull off for the bigger and brainier crooks, and you’ll get chased out of town.  And me—­you’re right, Babbitt, I’ve been going crooked, but now I’m going straight, and the first step will be to get a job in some office where the boss doesn’t talk about Ideals.  Bad luck, old dear, and you can stick your job up the sewer!”

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