Babbit eBook

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

Babbitt sat for a long time, alternately raging, “I’ll have him arrested,” and yearning “I wonder—­No, I’ve never done anything that wasn’t necessary to keep the Wheels of Progress moving.”

Next day he hired in Graff’s place Fritz Weilinger, the salesman of his most injurious rival, the East Side Homes and Development Company, and thus at once annoyed his competitor and acquired an excellent man.  Young Fritz was a curly-headed, merry, tennis-playing youngster.  He made customers welcome to the office.  Babbitt thought of him as a son, and in him had much comfort.

III

An abandoned race-track on the outskirts of Chicago, a plot excellent for factory sites, was to be sold, and Jake Offut asked Babbitt to bid on it for him.  The strain of the Street Traction deal and his disappointment in Stanley Graff had so shaken Babbitt that he found it hard to sit at his desk and concentrate.  He proposed to his family, “Look here, folks!  Do you know who’s going to trot up to Chicago for a couple of days—­just week-end; won’t lose but one day of school—­know who’s going with that celebrated business-ambassador, George F. Babbitt?  Why, Mr. Theodore Roosevelt Babbitt!”

“Hurray!” Ted shouted, and “Oh, maybe the Babbitt men won’t paint that lil ole town red!”

And, once away from the familiar implications of home, they were two men together.  Ted was young only in his assumption of oldness, and the only realms, apparently, in which Babbitt had a larger and more grown-up knowledge than Ted’s were the details of real estate and the phrases of politics.  When the other sages of the Pullman smoking-compartment had left them to themselves, Babbitt’s voice did not drop into the playful and otherwise offensive tone in which one addresses children but continued its overwhelming and monotonous rumble, and Ted tried to imitate it in his strident tenor: 

“Gee, dad, you certainly did show up that poor boot when he got flip about the League of Nations!”

“Well, the trouble with a lot of these fellows is, they simply don’t know what they’re talking about.  They don’t get down to facts....  What do you think of Ken Escott?”

“I’ll tell you, dad:  it strikes me Ken is a nice lad; no special faults except he smokes too much; but slow, Lord!  Why, if we don’t give him a shove the poor dumb-bell never will propose!  And Rone just as bad.  Slow.”

“Yes, I guess you’re right.  They’re slow.  They haven’t either one of ’em got our pep.”

“That’s right.  They’re slow.  I swear, dad, I don’t know how Rone got into our family!  I’ll bet, if the truth were known, you were a bad old egg when you were a kid!”

“Well, I wasn’t so slow!”

“I’ll bet you weren’t!  I’ll bet you didn’t miss many tricks!”

“Well, when I was out with the girls I didn’t spend all the time telling ’em about the strike in the knitting industry!”

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Project Gutenberg
Babbit from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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