It was all one movement, Bannon’s jamming that hat—the silk hat—down on his head, and diving through the door. He shouted orders as he ran, and a number of men, Pete among them, got to the wharf as soon as he did.
“Now, boys, this is all the false work we can have. We’re going to hang it up across the tracks and hang our gallery up on it till it’s strong enough to hold itself. We’ve got just forty-eight hours to do the whole trick. Catch hold now—lively.”
Illustration: [It was A simple scheme]
It was a simple scheme of Bannon’s. The floor of the gallery was to be built in two sections, one in the main house, one in the spouting house. As fast as the timbers were bolted together the halves of the floor were shoved out over the tracks, each free end being supported by a rope which ran up over a pulley. The pulley was held by an iron ring fast to the cable, but perfectly free to slide along it, and thus accompany the end of the floor as it was moved outward. Bannon explained it to Pete in a few quick words while the men were hustling the big cable off the tug.
“Of course,” he was concluding, “the thing’ll wabble a good deal, specially if it’s as windy as this, and it won’t be easy to work on, but it won’t fall if we make everything fast.”
Pete had listened pretty closely at first, but now Bannon noticed that his attention seemed to be wandering to a point a few inches above Bannon’s head. He was about to ask what was the matter when he found out. It was windier on that particular wharf than anywhere else in the Calumet flats, and the hat he had on was not built for that sort of weather. It was perfectly rigid, and not at all accommodated to the shape of Bannon’s head. So, very naturally, it blew off, rolled around among their feet for a moment, and then dropped into the river between the wharf and the tug.
Bannon was up on the spouting house, helping make fast the cable end when a workman brought the hat back to him. Somebody on the tug had fished it out with a trolling line. But the hat was well past resuscitation. It had been thoroughly drowned, and it seemed to know it.
“Take that to the office,” said Bannon. “Have Vogel wrap it up just as it is and ship it to Mr. Brown. I’ll dictate a letter to go with it by and by.”
For all Bannon’s foresight, there threatened to be a hitch in the work on the gallery. The day shift was on again, and twenty-four of Bannon’s forty-eight hours were spent, when he happened to say to a man:—
“Never mind that now, but be sure you fix it tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow?” the man repeated. “We ain’t going to work tomorrow, are we?”
Bannon noticed that every man within hearing stopped work, waiting for the answer. “Sure,” he said. “Why not?”
There was some dissatisfied grumbling among them which he was quite at a loss to understand until he caught the word “Christmas.”