“What do I want to be abed for? I ain’t going to sleep any more this year—unless we get through a day or two ahead of time. I don’t like to miss any of it. Charlie Bannon may have hustled before, but I guess this breaks his record. Where is he now, Max?”
“Down in the cellar putting in the running gear for the ’cross-the-house conveyors. He has his nerve with him. He’s putting in three drives entirely different from the way they are in the plans. He told me just now that there wasn’t a man in the office who could design a drive that wouldn’t tie itself up in square knots in the first ten minutes. I wonder what old MacBride’ll say when he sees that he’s changed the plans.”
“If MacBride has good sense, he’ll pass anything that Charlie puts up,” said Pete.
He was going to say more, but just then Bannon strode into the office and over to the draughting table. He tossed Pete’s hat to one side and began studying a detail of the machinery plans.
“Max.” He spoke without looking up. “I wish you’d find a water boy and send him up to the hotel to get a couple of sandwiches and a bottle of coffee.”
“Well, that’s a nice way to celebrate, I must say,” Pete commented.
“Why, last night; throwing Grady down. You ought to take a day off on the strength of that.”
“What’s Grady got to do with it? He ain’t in the specifications.”
“No,” said Pete, slowly; “but where would we have been if he’d got the men off?”
“Where would we have been if the house had burned up?” Bannon retorted, turning away from the table. “That’s got nothing to do with it. I haven’t felt less like taking a day off since I came on the job. We may get through on time and we may not. If we get tangled up in the plans like this, very often, I don’t know how we’ll come out. But the surest way to get left is to begin now telling ourselves that this is easy and it’s a cinch. That kind of talk makes me tired.”
Pete flushed, started an explanatory sentence, and another, and then, very uncomfortable, went out.
Bannon did not look up; he went on studying the blue print, measuring here and there with his three-sided ruler and jotting down incomprehensible operations in arithmetic on a scrap of paper. Max was figuring tables in his time-book, Hilda poring over the cash account. For half an hour no one spoke. Max crammed his cap down over his ears and went out, and there were ten minutes more of silence. Then Bannon began talking. He still busied his fingers with the blue print, and Hilda, after discovering that he was talking to himself rather than to her, went on with her work. But nevertheless she heard, in a fragmentary way, what he was saying.