He stared a moment. “Well, what—”
“I’ve been waiting for you here since five o’clock last evening. It will soon be five o’clock again. Will you let me show you those plans now?”
Ben Griebler had surveyed Jock with the stony calm of the out-of-town visitor who is prepared to show surprise at nothing in New York.
“There’s nothing like getting an early start,” said Ben Griebler. “Come on up to my room.” Key in hand, he made for the elevator. For an almost imperceptible moment Jock paused. Then, with a little rush, he followed the short, thick-set figure. “I knew you had it in you, McChesney. I said you looked like a comer, didn’t I?”
Jock said nothing. He was silent while Griebler unlocked his door, turned on the light, fumbled at the windows and shades, picked up the telephone receiver. “What’ll you have?”
“Nothing.” Jock had cleared the center table and was opening his flat bundle of papers. He drew up two chairs. “Let’s not waste any time,” he said. “I’ve had a twelve-hour wait for this.” He seemed to control the situation. Obediently Ben Griebler hung up the receiver, came over, and took the chair very close to Jock.
[Illustration: “‘Let’s not waste any time,’ he said”]
“There’s nothing artistic about gum,” began Jock McChesney; and his manner was that of a man who is sure of himself. “It’s a shirt-sleeve product, and it ought to be handled from a shirt-sleeve standpoint. Every gum concern in the country has spent thousands on a ‘better-than-candy’ campaign before it realized that gum is a candy and drug store article, and that no man is going to push a five-cent package of gum at the sacrifice of the sale of an eighty-cent box of candy. But the health note is there, if only you strike it right. Now, here’s my idea—”
At six o’clock Ben Griebler, his little shrewd eyes sparkling, his voice more squeakily falsetto than ever, surveyed the youngster before him with a certain awe.
“This—this thing will actually sell our stuff in Europe! No gum concern has ever been able to make the stuff go outside of this country. Why, inside of three years every ’Arry and ’Arriet in England’ll be chewing it on bank holidays. I don’t know about Germany, but—” He pushed back his chair and got up. “Well, I’m solid on that. And what I say goes. Now I’ll tell you what I’ll do, kid. I’ll take you down to St. Louis with me, at a figure that’ll make your—”
Jock looked up.
“Or if you don’t want the Berg, Shriner crowd to get wise, I’ll fix it this way. I’ll go over there this morning and tell ’em I’ve changed my mind, see? The campaign’s theirs, see? Then I refuse to consider any of their suggestions until I see your plan. And when I see it I fall for it like a ton of bricks. Old Berg’ll never know. He’s so darned high-principled—”
Jock McChesney stood up. The little drawn pinched look which had made his face so queerly old was gone. His eyes were bright. His face was flushed.