“I am certain you have seen more of the world than I have, Mr. Bascomb,” Reade replied, respectfully. “At the same time I can’t agree with you on the point you have just stated. A workman with a bank account has always a greater amount of self-respect, and a man who has self-respect is bound to make a good citizen and a good workman. But there are still other reasons why I had the gamblers chased out. Gambling here in the camp would always create a great deal of disorder. Disorder destroys discipline, and a camp like this, in order to give the best results in the way of work, must have discipline. Moreover, the men, when gambling, remain up until all hours of the night. A man who has been up most of the night can’t give an honest day’s work in return for his wages. Unless the men get their sleep and are kept in good condition we can’t get the work out of them that we have a right to expect.”
“The right man can drive workmen,” declared Mr. Bascomb, with emphasis. “You’ll have to drive your men. Get all the work out of them, but drop at once this foolish policy of interfering with what they do after the whistle blows. We can’t have any more of this nonsense. It costs too much. By the way, how much will it cost to repair the damage to the retaining walls?”
“About eight thousand dollars, sir, if my first figuring was correct,” was Reade’s answer.
“Eight thousand dollars!” scowled President Bascomb. “Now, Reade, doesn’t that amount of wanton, revengeful mischief teach you the folly of trying to regulate camp life outside of working hours?”
“I’m afraid it doesn’t, sir.”
“Then you must be a fool, Reade!”
“Thank you, sir. I will add that you’re not the first man who has suspected it.”
“You will, therefore, Reade,” continued Mr. Bascomb, with his grandest air of authority, “cause it to become known throughout the camp that you are not going to interfere any further with any form of amusement that is brought to the camp evenings by outsiders.”
“Is that proposition number two, sir?” queried the young chief engineer.
“Then please don’t misunderstand me, sir,” Reade begged, respectfully, “but it is declined, as is proposition number one.”
“Do you mean to say that you are going to go on with your fool way of doing things?”
“Yes, sir—–until I am convinced that it is a fool way.”
“But I’ve just told you that it is,” snapped Mr. Bascomb.
“Then I say it very respectfully, sir, but pardon me for replying that I don’t consider the evidence very convincing. I have shown you why I must have good order in the camp, and I have told you that I do not propose to allow gambling or any other disorderly conduct to go on within camp limits. I can’t agree to these things, and then hope to win out by keeping the cost of the work within the appropriation.”