Bannon told in twenty words just how it had happened. The agent said cautiously: “Reilly told another story.”
“I suppose so. Now, I don’t ask you to take my word against his. If you’d like to investigate the business, I’ll give you all the opportunity you want.”
“If we find that he did drop the hammer by accident, would you be willing to take him back?”
Bannon smiled. “There’s no use in my telling you what I’ll do till you tell me what you want me to do, is there?”
Bannon held out his hand when the man rose to go.
“Any time you think there’s something wrong out here, or anything you don’t understand, come out and we’ll talk it over. I treat a man as well as I can, if he’s square with me.”
He walked to the door with the agent and closed it after him. As he turned back to the draughting table, he found Hilda’s eyes on him. “They’re very clean chaps, mostly, those walking delegates,” he said. “If you treat ’em half as well as you’d treat a yellow dog, they’re likely to be very reasonable. If one of ’em does happen to be a rascal, though, he’s meaner to handle than frozen dynamite. I expect to be white-headed before I’m through with that man Grady.”
“Is he a rascal?” she asked.
“He’s as bad as you find ’em. Even if he’d been handled right—”
Bannon broke off abruptly and began turning over the blue prints. “Suppose I’d better see how this next story looks,” he said. Hilda had heard how Pete had dealt with Grady at their first meeting, and she could complete the broken sentence.
Bannon never heard whether the agent from the carpenters’ union had looked further into Reilly’s case, but he was not asked to take him back on the pay roll. But that was not the end of the incident. Coming out on the distributing floor just before noon on Thursday, he found Grady in the act of delivering an impassioned oration to the group of laborers about the hoist. Before Grady saw him, Bannon had come near enough to hear something about being “driven at the point of a pistol.”
The speech came suddenly to an end when Grady, following the glances of his auditors, turned and saw who was coming. Bannon noted with satisfaction the scared look of appeal which he turned, for a second, toward the men. It was good to know that Grady was something of a coward.
Bannon nodded to him pleasantly enough. “How are you, Grady?” he said.
Seeing that he was in no danger, the delegate threw back his shoulders, held up his head, and, frowning in an important manner, he returned Bannon’s greeting with the scantest civility.
Bannon walked up and stood beside him. “If you can spare the time,” he said politely, “I’d like to see you at the office for a while.”
Convinced now that Bannon was doing everything in his power to conciliate him, Grady grew more important. “Very well,” he said; “when I’ve got through up here, ye can see me if ye like.”