“Boys, I’ve got to admit it. I’ve never worn a wrist-watch, or parted my name in the middle, but I will confess to ‘Follansbee.’ My only justification is that my old dad—though otherwise he was perfectly sane, and packed an awful wallop when it came to trimming the City Fellers at checkers—named me after the family doc, old Dr. Ambrose Follansbee. I apologize, boys. In my next what-d’you-call-it I’ll see to it that I get named something really practical—something that sounds swell and yet is good and virile—something, in fact, like that grand old name so familiar to every household—that bold and almost overpowering name, Willis Jimjams Ijams!”
He knew by the cheer that he was secure again and popular; he knew that he would no more endanger his security and popularity by straying from the Clan of Good Fellows.
Henry Thompson dashed into the office, clamoring, “George! Big news! Jake Offutt says the Traction Bunch are dissatisfied with the way Sanders, Torrey and Wing handled their last deal, and they’re willing to dicker with us!”
Babbitt was pleased in the realization that the last scar of his rebellion was healed, yet as he drove home he was annoyed by such background thoughts as had never weakened him in his days of belligerent conformity. He discovered that he actually did not consider the Traction group quite honest. “Well, he’d carry out one more deal for them, but as soon as it was practicable, maybe as soon as old Henry Thompson died, he’d break away from all association from them. He was forty-eight; in twelve years he’d be sixty; he wanted to leave a clean business to his grandchildren. Course there was a lot of money in negotiating for the Traction people, and a fellow had to look at things in a practical way, only—” He wriggled uncomfortably. He wanted to tell the Traction group what he thought of them. “Oh, he couldn’t do it, not now. If he offended them this second time, they would crush him. But—”
He was conscious that his line of progress seemed confused. He wondered what he would do with his future. He was still young; was he through with all adventuring? He felt that he had been trapped into the very net from which he had with such fury escaped and, supremest jest of all, been made to rejoice in the trapping.
“They’ve licked me; licked me to a finish!” he whimpered.
The house was peaceful, that evening, and he enjoyed a game of pinochle with his wife. He indignantly told the Tempter that he was content to do things in the good old fashioned way. The day after, he went to see the purchasing-agent of the Street Traction Company and they made plans for the secret purchase of lots along the Evanston Road. But as he drove to his office he struggled, “I’m going to run things and figure out things to suit myself—when I retire.”