He had heard that Peterson was somewhat disaffected to Bannon’s authority, but had not expected him to make so frank an avowal of it. That was almost as much in his favor as the necessity for hurry. These, with the hoist accident to give a color of respectability to the operation, ought to make it simple enough. He had wit enough to see that Bannon was a much harder man to handle than Peterson, and that with Peterson restored to full authority, the only element of uncertainty would be removed. And he thought that if he could get Peterson to help him it might be possible to secure Bannon’s recall. If the scheme failed, he had still another shot in his locker, but this one was worth a trial, anyway.
One afternoon in the next week he went around to Peterson’s boarding-house and sent up his card with as much ceremony as though the night boss had been a railway president.
“I hope you can spare me half an hour, Mr. Peterson. There’s a little matter of business I’d like to talk over with you.”
The word affected Peterson unpleasantly. That was a little farther than he could go without a qualm. “Sure,” he said uneasily, looking at his watch.
“I don’t know as I should call it business, either,” Grady went on. “When you come right down to it, it’s a matter of friendship, for surely it’s no business of mine. Maybe you think it’s queer—I think it’s queer myself, that I should be coming ’round tendering my friendly services to a man who’s had his hands on my throat threatening my life. That ain’t my way, but somehow I like you, Mr. Peterson, and there’s an end of it. And when I like a man, I like him, too. How’s the elevator? Everything going to please you?”
“I guess it’s going all right. It ain’t—” Pete hesitated, and then gave up the broken sentence. “It’s all right,” he repeated.
Grady smiled. “There’s the good soldier. Won’t talk against his general. But, Mr. Peterson, let me ask you a question; answer me as a man of sense. Which makes the best general—the man who leads the charge straight up to the intrenchments, yellin’: ’Come on, boys!’—or the one who says, very likely shaking a revolver in their faces: ’Get in there, ye damn low-down privates, and take that fort, and report to me when I’ve finished my breakfast’? Which one of those two men will the soldiers do the most for? For the one they like best, Mr. Peterson, and don’t forget it. And which one of these are they going to like best, do you suppose—the brave leader who scorns to ask his men to go where he wouldn’t go himself, who isn’t ashamed to do honest work with honest hands, whose fists are good enough to defend him against his enemies; or the man who is afraid to go out among the men without a revolver in his hip pocket? Answer me as a man of sense, Mr. Peterson.”
Peterson was manifestly disturbed by the last part of the harangue. Now he said: “Oh, I guess Bannon wasn’t scared when he drawed that gun on Reilly. He ain’t that kind.”