It will naturally be inferred that he was ambitious. I am not in a position to deny this; but all I can be certain of is, that he was in love—which is often about the same thing.
Several times at The Lorne he had met in the hallways or in the elevator a young lady, who was in no small degree beautiful, and charmed him still more by her generous presence, which conveyed the idea of a harmonious and lovely character. She had light hair and blue eyes, but these outward attributes were joined with a serenity and poise of manner that indicated greater stability than is attributed, as a rule, to individuals of her type.
Once he happened to arrive at the main entrance just as this vision of beauty emerged to take her place in a coupe which was waiting by the curbstone. She dropped her card-case upon the sidewalk, and Crombie’s heart throbbed with delight as he picked it up, gave it to her, and received her smiling thanks for his little service. Another time, as he was descending in the elevator, a door opposite the shaft, on the second floor, stood open, and he caught a glimpse of the apartment to which it gave access. The room was finished in soft tints, and was full of upholstery and hangings that lent it a dim golden atmosphere. In the middle of it stood the young girl, clad in the palest blue, above which her hair shone like a golden cloud on some dim evening sky.
Slight occurrences of this sort had affected him. He learned that she was the daughter of Littimer, the rich, widowed banker: her name was Blanche.
In these new, stout shoes that did not belong to him Crombie trod with a buoyancy and assurance strongly in contrast with the limp and half-hearted pace to which his old, shabby gaiters had formerly inclined him. He rattled down the stairs of the elevated station with an alacrity almost bumptious; and the sharp, confident step that announced his entrance into the company’s office made the other clerks quite ashamed of their own want of spirit.
He worked at his desk until noon; but when the bells of Trinity rang twelve in solemn music over the busy streets, he dropped his pen, walked with a decisive air the length of the room, and, opening a door at the other end, presented himself before Mr. Blatchford, the treasurer, who was also an influential director. “Crombie, eh? Well, what is it?”
“I want to speak with you a moment, sir.”
“Anything important? I’m busy.”
“Yes, sir; quite important—to me. Possibly it may be to you.”
“Fire away, then; but cut it short.” Mr. Blatchford’s dense, well-combed gray side-whiskers were directed toward the young man in an aggressive way, as if they had been some sort of weapon.
Crombie nonchalantly settled himself in a chair, at ease.
“I am tired of being a clerk,” he said. “I’m going to be a director in this company.”