Bannon stopped the engine and drew the fire; Peterson and his crew clambered to the ground, and Max put on his coat and waited for the two foremen to come across the tracks. When they joined him, Bannon looked sharply at him in the growing light.
“Hello, Max,” he said; “where did you get that black eye?”
“That ain’t much,” Max replied. “You ought to see Briggs.”
When Bannon came on the job on Friday morning at seven o’clock, a group of heavy-eyed men were falling into line at the timekeeper’s window. Max was in the office, passing out the checks. His sister was continuing her work of the night before, going over what books and papers were to be found in the desk. Bannon hung up his overcoat and looked through the doorway at the square mass of the elevator that stood out against the sky like some gigantic, unroofed barn. The walls rose nearly eighty feet from the ground—though the length and breadth of the structure made them appear lower—so close to the tops of the posts that were to support the cupola frame that Bannon’s eyes spoke of satisfaction. He meant to hide those posts behind the rising walls of cribbing before the day should be gone.
He glanced about at the piles of two-inch plank that hid the annex foundation work. There it lay, two hundred thousand feet of it—not very much, to be sure, but enough to keep the men busy for the present, and enough, too, to give a start to the annex bins and walls.
Peterson was approaching from the tool house, and Bannon called.
“How many laborers have you got, Pete?”
“Hardly any. Max, there, can tell.” Max, who had just passed out his last check, now joined them at the doorstep.
“There’s just sixty two that came for checks,” he said, “not counting the carpenters.”
“About what I expected,” Bannon replied. “This night business lays them out.” He put his head in at the door. “You’d better give checks to any new men that we send to the window, Miss Vogel; but keep the names of the old men, and if they show up in the morning, take them back on the job. Now, boys”—to Peterson and Max—“pick up the men you see hanging around and send them over. I’ll be at the office for a while. We’ll push the cribbing on the main house and start right in on the annex bins. There ain’t much time to throw around if we’re going to eat our Christmas dinner.”
The two went at once. The hoisting engines were impatiently blowing off steam. New men were appearing every moment, delaying only to answer a few brisk questions and to give their names to Miss Vogel, and then hurrying away to the tool house, each with his brass check fastened to his coat. When Bannon was at last ready to enter the office, he paused again to look over the ground. The engines were now puffing steadily, and the rapping of many hammers came through the crisp air. Gangs of laborers were swarming over the lumber piles, pitching down the planks, and other gangs were carrying them away and piling them on “dollies,” to be pushed along the plank runways to the hoist. There was a black fringe of heads between the posts on the top of the elevator, where the carpenters were spiking down the last planks of the walls and bins.