“There! You’ve said it. I didn’t realize how raw this deal was until you put it into words for me. I want to thank you. You’re right. Bartholomew Berg is so darned high-principled that two muckers like you and me, groveling around in the dirt, can’t even see the tips of the heights to which his ideals have soared. Don’t stop me. I know I’m talking like a book. But I feel like something that has just been kicked out into the sunshine after having been in jail.”
“You’re tired,” said Ben Griebler. “It’s been a strain. Something always snaps after a long tension.”
Jock’s flat palm came down among the papers with a crack.
“You bet something snaps! It has just snapped inside me.” He began quietly to gather up the papers in an orderly little way.
“What’s that for?” inquired Griebler, coming forward. “You don’t mean—”
“I mean that I’m going to go home and square this thing with a lady you’ve never met. You and she wouldn’t get on if you did. You don’t talk the same language. Then I’m going to have a cold bath, and a hot breakfast. And then, Griebler, I’m going to take this stuff to Bartholomew Berg and tell him the whole nasty business. He’ll see the humor of it. But I don’t know whether he’ll fire me, or make me vice-president of the company. Now, if you want to come over and talk to him, fair and square, why come.”
“Ten to one he fires you,” remarked Griebler, as Jock reached the door.
“There’s only one person I know who’s game enough to take you up on that. And it’s going to take more nerve to face her at six-thirty than it will to tackle a whole battalion of Bartholomew Bergs at nine.”
“Well, I guess I can get in a three-hour sleep before—er—”
“Before what?” said Jock McChesney from the door.
Ben Griebler laughed a little shamefaced laugh. “Before I see you at ten, sonny.”
There is nothing in the sound of the shrill little bell to warn us of the import of its message. More’s the pity. It may be that bore whose telephone conversation begins: “Well, what do you know to-day?” It may be your lawyer to say you’ve inherited a million. Hence the arrogance of the instrument. It knows its voice will never wilfully go unanswered so long as the element of chance lies concealed within it.
Mrs. Emma McChesney heard the call of her telephone across the hall. Seated in the office of her business partner, T.A. Buck, she was fathoms deep in discussion of the T.A. Buck Featherloom Petticoat Company’s new spring line. The buzzer’s insistent voice brought her to her feet, even while she frowned at the interruption.
“That’ll be Baumgartner ’phoning about those silk swatches. Back in a minute,” said Emma McChesney and hurried across the hall just in time to break the second call.