“Boys,” he said, “we’ve worked hard together on this job, and one way and another we’ve come to understand what sort of a man our boss is. Ain’t that right?”
A roar went up from hundreds of throats, and Hilda, sitting next to Bannon, blushed.
“We’ve thought we understood him pretty well, but I’ve just found out that we didn’t know so much as we thought we did. He’s been a pretty square friend to all of us, and I’m going to tell you something that’ll give you a chance to show you’re square friends of his, too.”
He paused, and then was about to go on, leaning forward with both hands on the table, and looking straight down on the long rows of bearded faces, when he heard a slight noise behind him. A sudden laugh broke out, and before he could turn his head, a strong hand fell on each shoulder and he went back into his chair with a bump. Then he looked up, and saw Bannon standing over him. The boss was trying to speak, but he had to wait a full minute before he could make himself heard. He glanced around and saw the look of appeal in Hilda’s eyes.
“Look here, boys,” he said, when the room had grown quiet; “we aren’t handing out any soft soap at this dinner. I won’t let this man up till he promises to quit talking about me.”
There was another burst of laughter, and James shouted something that nobody understood. Bannon looked down at him, and said quietly, and with a twinkle in his eye, but very firmly:—
“If you try that again, I’ll throw you out of the window.”
James protested, and was allowed to get up. Bannon slipped into his seat by Hilda.
“It’s all right,” he said in a low tone. “They won’t know it now until we get out of here.” His hand groped for hers under the table.
James was irrepressible. He was shouting quickly now, in order to get the words out before Bannon could reach him again.
“How about this, boys? Shall we stand it?”
“No!” was the reply in chorus.
“All right, then. Three cheers for Mr. Bannon. Now—Hip, hip—”
There was no stopping that response.
***End of the project gutenberg EBOOK Calumet “K"***
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