He put out his hand without rising. Conniston took it, surprised as he did so at the quick, strong grip of the slender fingers.
“I’m glad to know you, Conniston. Glad you’re to be with us. Oh yes, I knew a couple of days ago that you were coming over. Mr. Crawford dropped in on us himself and told us about you. Have a chair.”
They had shaken hands across the table. Now, as Conniston moved across the room to the chair at which Garton waved, the latter swung about on his high stool toward the boy at the typewriter.
“Hey there, Billy!” he called. “Come and meet Mr. Conniston. He’s going to be one of us. Mr. Conniston, meet Mr. Jordan—Billy Jordan—the one man living who can take down dictation as fast as you can sling it at him, type it as you shoot it in, and play a tune on his typewriter at the same time!”
Stepping about the table to meet the boy who had got to his feet, Conniston received a shock which for a second made him forget to take young Jordan’s proffered hand. For the first time now he saw Garton’s body, which had been hidden by the table; saw that Garton had had both legs taken off six inches above the knees. He remembered himself, and tried to hide his surprise under some light remark to Billy Jordan. But Garton had seen it, and laughed lightly, although with a slight flush creeping up into his pale cheeks.
“Hadn’t heard about my having slept with Procrustes? Well, you’ll get used to having half a man around after a while. The rest do. I’ve gotten used to it myself. Now sit down. Have a smoke?” He pushed a box of cigarettes along the table. “And tell us what’s the news on Broadway.”
“You’re a New-Yorker?”
“Oh, I’ve galloped up and down the Big Thoroughfare a good many times in the days of my youth,” grinned Carton, helping himself to a cigarette. “I’m an Easterner, all right; or, rather, I was an Easterner. I guess I belong to this man’s country now.”
“Why, that’s my school! I was a ’06 man.”
“I know it.” Garton nodded over the match he was touching to his cigarette. “You’re Greek Conniston, son of the big Conniston who does things on the Street. But we didn’t happen to travel in the same class. I was shy on the money end of it. Oh, I remember you, all right. I saw that record run of yours around left end to a touchdown. Gad, that was a great day! I went crazy then with a thousand other fellows. I remember,” with an amused chuckle, “jumping up and down on a fat man’s toes, yelling into his face until I must have split his ear-drum! Oh yes, I had two pegs in those days. The fat man got mad, the piker, and knocked me as flat as a pancake! I guess he never went to Yale.”
For ten minutes they chatted about old college days, games lost and won, men and women they both had known in the East. And then, naturally, conversation switched to the work being done in Rattlesnake Valley. Garton’s face lighted up with eagerness, his eyes grew very bright, he spoke swiftly. It was easy to see that the man was full of his work, pricked with the fever of it, alive with enthusiasm.