The financier nodded. His armour was impenetrable.
“The Germans said much,” he said.
“That’s all right, these folks aren’t Germans,” came the prompt retort, as Idepski picked up his hat and gloves.
“No.” Hellbeam remained seated. It was not his way to speed a departing visitor. “I’m glad. Oh, yes.” He smiled into the other’s face, and his meaning was obvious. “You go to this camp. You find this missionary. That’s work for you. The other—” his eyes dropped to the papers on the desk before him—“this mill, this Sachigo is for me. It is much nearer to the sea than the Skandinavia. Oh, yes.”
THE PROGRESS OF NANCY
The girl reached out a hand in response to the ring of the telephone. It was slim and white; and her finger nails displayed that care which suggests a healthy regard for the niceties of a woman’s life.
She remained silently intent upon the rapidly spoken message coming down to her over the wire. Her deep, hazel eyes were soberly regarding the blotting pad, upon which an idle pencil was describing a number of meaningless diagrams.
“Yes,” she replied, after a while. “Oh, yes. All reports are in. I’ve gone through them all, and my summary is being prepared now. They’re a pretty bad story. Yes. What’s that? How? Oh, yes. Some of the camps are in pretty bad shape, I’d say. Output’s fallen badly. Output! Yes. All sorts of reasons and—” she laughed, “—to me, none quite satisfactory. I think I’ve my finger on the real trouble, and fancy I’ve seen all this coming quite a while back. Very well. I’ll be right up. Yes, I’ll bring my rough notes if the summary isn’t ready.”
Nancy McDonald thrust the receiver back in its place and sat for a moment gazing at it. She knew she had committed herself. She had intended to. She knew that she had reached one of the important milestones in her career. In her youth, in the springtime energy abounding in her, she meant to pit her opinion against the considered policy of those who formed the management of the great Skandinavia Corporation she served. She understood her temerity. A surge of nervous anticipation thrilled her. But she was resolved. Her ambition was great, and her youthful courage was no less.
The brazen clack of typewriters beyond the glass partitions of her little private office left her unaffected. It was incessant. She would have missed it had it not been there. She would have lost that sense of rush which the tuneless chorus of modern commercialism inspired. And, to a woman of her temperament, that would have been a very real loss.
The great offices of the Skandinavia Corporation, in the heart of the city of Quebec, with their machine-like precision of life, their soulless method, their passionless progress towards the purpose of their organisation, meant the open road towards the fulfilment of her desires for independence and achievement.