“Say, that was a mighty informative talk. Real he-stuff,” said Sidney Finkelstein.
But the disaffected Babbitt grumbled, “Four-flusher! Bunch of hot air! And what’s the matter with the immigrants? Gosh, they aren’t all ignorant, and I got a hunch we’re all descended from immigrants ourselves.”
“Oh, you make me tired!” said Mr. Finkelstein.
Babbitt was aware that Dr. A. I. Dilling was sternly listening from across the table. Dr. Dilling was one of the most important men in the Boosters’. He was not a physician but a surgeon, a more romantic and sounding occupation. He was an intense large man with a boiling of black hair and a thick black mustache. The newspapers often chronicled his operations; he was professor of surgery in the State University; he went to dinner at the very best houses on Royal Ridge; and he was said to be worth several hundred thousand dollars. It was dismaying to Babbitt to have such a person glower at him. He hastily praised the congressman’s wit, to Sidney Finkelstein, but for Dr. Dilling’s benefit.
That afternoon three men shouldered into Babbitt’s office with the air of a Vigilante committee in frontier days. They were large, resolute, big-jawed men, and they were all high lords in the land of Zenith—Dr. Dilling the surgeon, Charles McKelvey the contractor, and, most dismaying of all, the white-bearded Colonel Rutherford Snow, owner of the Advocate-Times. In their whelming presence Babbitt felt small and insignificant.
“Well, well, great pleasure, have chairs, what c’n I do for you?” he babbled.
They neither sat nor offered observations on the weather.
“Babbitt,” said Colonel Snow, “we’ve come from the Good Citizens’ League. We’ve decided we want you to join. Vergil Gunch says you don’t care to, but I think we can show you a new light. The League is going to combine with the Chamber of Commerce in a campaign for the Open Shop, so it’s time for you to put your name down.”
In his embarrassment Babbitt could not recall his reasons for not wishing to join the League, if indeed he had ever definitely known them, but he was passionately certain that he did not wish to join, and at the thought of their forcing him he felt a stirring of anger against even these princes of commerce.
“Sorry, Colonel, have to think it over a little,” he mumbled.
McKelvey snarled, “That means you’re not going to join, George?”
Something black and unfamiliar and ferocious spoke from Babbitt: “Now, you look here, Charley! I’m damned if I’m going to be bullied into joining anything, not even by you plutes!”
“We’re not bullying anybody,” Dr. Dilling began, but Colonel Snow thrust him aside with, “Certainly we are! We don’t mind a little bullying, if it’s necessary. Babbitt, the G.C.L. has been talking about you a good deal. You’re supposed to be a sensible, clean, responsible man; you always have been; but here lately, for God knows what reason, I hear from all sorts of sources that you’re running around with a loose crowd, and what’s a whole lot worse, you’ve actually been advocating and supporting some of the most dangerous elements in town, like this fellow Doane.”