Finally, when the whistle blew, at noon, Bannon tipped back his chair and pushed his hat back on his head.
“Well,” he said, “that’s fixed.”
“When will we begin on it?” Peterson asked.
“Today. Have the whistle blow at four. It’ll make some of the men work overtime today, but we’ll pay them for it.”
Miss Vogel was putting on her jacket. Before joining Max, who was waiting at the door, she asked:—
“Do you want me to make any change in my work, Mr. Bannon?”
“No, you’d better go ahead just as you are. We won’t try to cut you up into three shifts yet awhile. We can do what letters and accounts we have in the daytime.”
She nodded and left the office.
All through the morning’s work Peterson had worn a heavy, puzzled expression, and now that they had finished, he seemed unable to throw it off. Bannon, who had risen and was reaching for his ulster, which he had thrown over the railing, looked around at him.
“You and I’ll have to make twelve-hour days of it, you know,” he said. He knew, from his quick glance and the expression almost of relief that came over his face, that this was what Peterson had been waiting for. “You’d better come on in the evening, if it’s all the same to you—at seven. I’ll take it in the morning and keep an eye on it during the day.”
Peterson’s eyes had lowered at the first words. He swung one leg over the other and picked up the list of carpenters that Max had made out, pretending to examine it. Bannon was not watching him closely, but he could have read the thoughts behind that sullen face. If their misunderstanding had arisen from business conditions alone, Bannon would have talked out plainly. But now that Hilda had come between them, and particularly that it was all so vague—a matter of feeling, and not at all of reason—he had decided to say nothing. It was important that he should control the work during the day, and coming on at seven in the morning, he would have a hand on the work of all three shifts. He knew that Peterson would not see it reasonably; that he would think it was done to keep him away from Hilda. He stood leaning against the gate to keep it open, buttoning his ulster.
“Coming on up to the house, Pete?”
Peterson got down off the railing.
“So you’re going to put me on the night shift,” he said, almost as a child would have said it.
“I guess that’s the way it’s got to work out,” Bannon replied. “Coming up?”
“No—not yet. I’ll be along pretty soon.”
Bannon started toward the door, but turned with a snap of his finger.
“Oh, while we’re at it, Pete—you’d better tell Max to get those men to keep time for the night shifts.”
“You mean you want him to go on with you in the daytime?”
“That’s just as he likes. But I guess he’ll want to be around while his sister is here. You see about that after lunch, will you?”