Naturally, his disposition was easy and generous, but he had never been in the habit of thinking much, and thinking, especially as it led to brooding, was not good for him. From the first, of course, he had been hurt that the office should have thought it necessary to send Bannon to supersede him, but so long as he had plenty to do and was in Bannon’s company every hour of the day, he had not taken time to think about it much. But now he thought of little else, and as time went on he succeeded in twisting nearly everything the new boss had said or done to fit his theory that Bannon was jealous of him and was trying to take from him the credit which rightfully belonged to him. And Bannon had put him in charge of the night shift, so Peterson came to think, simply because he had seen that Hilda was beginning to like him.
About four o’clock one afternoon, not many days after Grady’s talk with Bannon, Peterson sat on the steps of his boarding-house, trying to make up his mind what to do, and wishing it were six o’clock. He wanted to stroll down to the job to have a chat with his friends, but he had somewhat childishly decided he wasn’t wanted there while Miss Vogel was in the office, so he sat still and whittled, and took another view of his grievances. Glancing up, he saw Grady, the walking delegate, coming along the sidewalk. Now that the responsibility of the elevator was off his shoulders he no longer cherished any particular animosity toward the little Irishman, but he remembered their last encounter and wondered whether he should speak to him or not.
But Grady solved his doubt by calling out cheerfully to know how he was and turning in toward the steps. “I suppose I ought to lick you after what’s passed between us,” he added with a broad smile, “but if you’re willing we’ll call it bygones.”
“Sure,” said Peterson.
“It’s fine seasonable weather we’re having, and just the thing for you on the elevator. It’s coming right along.”
“It’s as interesting a bit of work as I ever saw. I was there the other day looking at it. And, by the way, I had a long talk with Mr. Bannon. He’s a fine man.”
Grady had seated himself on the step below Peterson. Now for the first time he looked at him.
“He’s a good hustler,” said Peterson.
“Well, that’s what passes for a fine man, these days, though mistakes are sometimes made that way. But how does it happen that you’re not down there superintending? I hope some carpenter hasn’t taken it into his head to fire the boss.”
“I’m not boss there any longer. The office sent Bannon down to take it over my head.”
“You don’t tell me that? It’s a pity.” Grady was shaking his head solemnly. “It’s a pity. The men like you first-rate, Mr. Peterson. I’m not saying they don’t like anybody else, but they like you. But people in an office a thousand miles away can’t know everything, and that’s a fact. And so he laid you off.”