“Now, Mr. Grady,” he said, “this is where our ground stops. The other sides are the road there, and the river, and the last piles of cribbing at the other end. I’m telling you so you will know where you don’t belong. Now, get out!”
The effect of the victory was felt everywhere. Not only were Max and Pete and Hilda jubilant over it, but the under-foremen, the timekeepers, even the laborers attacked their work with a fresher energy. It was like the first whiff of salt air to an army marching to the sea. Since the day when the cribbing came down from Ledyard, the work had gone forward with almost incredible rapidity; there had been no faltering during the weeks when Grady’s threatened catastrophe was imminent, but now that the big shadow of the little delegate was dispelled, it was easier to see that the huge warehouse was almost finished. There was still much to do, and the handful of days that remained seemed absurdly inadequate; but it needed only a glance at what Charlie Bannon’s tireless, driving energy had already accomplished to make the rest look easy.
“We’re sure of it now. She’ll be full to the roof before the year is out.” As Max went over the job with his time-book next morning, he said it to every man he met, and they all believed him. Peterson, the same man and not the same man either, who had once vowed that there wouldn’t be any night work on Calumet K, who had bent a pair of most unwilling shoulders to the work Bannon had put upon them, who had once spent long, sulky afternoons in the barren little room of his new boarding-house; Peterson held himself down in bed exactly three hours the morning after that famous victory. Before eleven o’clock he was sledging down a tottering timber at the summit of the marine tower, a hundred and forty feet sheer above the wharf. Just before noon he came into the office and found Hilda there alone.
He had stopped outside the door to put on his coat, but had not buttoned it; his shirt, wet as though he had been in the lake, clung to him and revealed the outline of every muscle in his great trunk. He flung his hat on the draughting-table, and his yellow hair seemed crisper and curlier than ever before.
“Well, it looks as though we was all right,” he said.
Hilda nodded emphatically. “You think we’ll get through in time, don’t you, Mr. Peterson?”
“Think!” he exclaimed. “I don’t have to stop to think. Here comes Max; just ask him.”
Max slammed the door behind him, brought down the timekeeper’s book on Hilda’s desk with a slap that made her jump, and vaulted to a seat on the railing. “Well, I guess it’s a case of hurrah for us, ain’t it, Pete?”
“Your sister asked me if I thought we’d get done on time. I was just saying it’s a sure thing.”
“I don’t know,” said Max, laughing. “I guess an earthquake could stop us. But why ain’t you abed, Pete?”