“Practically all of it, by form-letters turned out in the printing department. For instance, Letter One is coughs and colds; Two, headaches; Three, stomach; and so on. As soon as a symp-letter is read the girl marks it with the form-letter number, underscores the address, and it goes across to the letter room where the right answer is mailed, advising the prospect to take Certina. Orders with cash go direct to the shipping department. If the symp-writer wants personal advice that the form-letters don’t give, I send the inquiry upstairs to Dr. De Vito. He’s a regular graduate physician who puts in half his time as our Medical Adviser. We can clear up three thousand letters a day, here.”
“I can readily see that my father couldn’t attend to them personally,” said Hal, smiling.
“And it’s just as good this way. Certina is what the prospects want and need. It makes no difference who prescribes it. This is the Chief’s own device for handling the correspondence.”
“Your father. We all call him that, all the old hands.”
Hal’s glance skimmed over the fresh young face, and the brilliant eyes. “You wouldn’t call yourself a very old hand, Miss Neal.”
“Seven years I’ve worked for the Chief, and I never want to work in a better place. He’s been more than good to me.”
“Because you’ve deserved it, young woman,” came the Doctor’s voice from behind Hal. “That’s the one and only reason. I’m a flint-livered old divvle to folks that don’t earn every cent of their wages.”
“Don’t you believe him, Mr. Surtaine,” controverted the girl, earnestly. “When one of my girls came down last year with tuber—”
“Whoof! Whoof! Whoof!” interrupted the big man, waving his hands in the air. “Stop it! This is no experience meeting. Milly, you’re right about this letter. It’s the confidential note that’s lacking. It’ll work up all right along the line of your suggestion. I’ll have to send Hal to you for lessons in the business.”
“Miss Neal would have to be very patient with my stupidity.”
“I don’t think it would be hard to be patient with you,” she said softly; and though her look was steady he saw the full color rise in her cheeks, and, startled, felt an answering throb in his pulses.
“But you mustn’t flirt with her, Hal,” warned the old quack, with a joviality that jarred.
Uncomfortably conscious of himself and of the girl’s altered expression, Hal spoke a hasty word or two of farewell, and followed his father out into the hallway. But the blithe and vivid femininity of the young expert plucked at his mind. At the bend of the hall, he turned with half a hope and saw her standing at the door. Her look was upon him, and it seemed to him to be both troubled and wistful.