When he happened into the office about the middle of Saturday morning, Miss Vogel handed him two letters addressed to him personally. One was from Brown,—the last paragraph of it as follows:—
Young Page has told MacBride in so many words what we’ve all been guessing about, that is, that they are fighting to break the corner in December wheat. They have a tremendous short line on the Chicago Board, and they mean to deliver it. Twenty two hundred thousand has got to be in the bins there at Calumet before the first of January unless the Day of Judgment happens along before then. Never mind what it costs you. Brown.
P.S. MacBride has got down an atlas and is trying to figure out how you got that cribbing to the lake. I told him you put the barge on rollers and towed it up to Ledyard with a traction engine.
The letter from Sloan was to the effect that twelve cars were at that moment on the yard siding, loading with cribbing, and that all of it, something more than eighteen hundred thousand feet, would probably be in Chicago within a week. A note was scribbled on the margin in Sloan’s handwriting. “Those fool farmers are still coming in expecting a job. One is out in the yard now. Came clear from Victory. I’ve had to send out a man to take down the posters.”
“That’s just like a farmer,” Bannon said to Miss Vogel. “Time don’t count with him. Tomorrow morning or two weeks from next Tuesday—he can’t see the difference. I suppose if one of those posters on an inconspicuous tree happens to be overlooked that some old fellow’ll come driving in next Fourth of July.”
He buttoned his coat as though going out, but stood looking at her thoughtfully awhile. “All the same,” he said, “I’d like to be that way myself; never do anything till tomorrow. I’m going to turn farmer some day. Once I get this job done, I’d like to see the man who can hurry me. I’ll say to MacBride: ’I’m willing to work on nice, quiet, easy little jobs that never have to be finished. I’ll want to sit at the desk and whittle most of the time. But if you ever try to put me on a rush job I’ll quit and buy a small farm.’ I could make the laziest farmer in twelve states. Well, I’ve got to go out on the job.”
An elevator is simply a big grain warehouse, and of course the bins where the grain is kept occupy most of the building. But for handling the grain more than bin room is necessary. Beneath the bins is what is called the working story, where is the machinery for unloading cars and for lifting the grain. The cupola, which Bannon was about to frame, is a five-story building perched atop the bins. It contains the appliances for weighing the grain and distributing it.
When Bannon climbed out on top of the bins, he found the carpenters partially flooring over the area, preparatory to putting in place the framework of the cupola. Below them in the bins, like bees in a honeycomb, laborers were taking down the scaffolding which had served in building their walls. At the south side of the building a group of laborers, under one of the foremen, was rigging what is known as a boom hoist, which was to lift the timbers for framing the cupola.