Jimmy saw little of his fellow roomers. A strange, drab lot he thought them from the occasional glimpses he had had in passings upon the dark stairway and in the gloomy halls. They appeared to be quiet, inoffensive sort of folk, occupied entirely with their own affairs. He had made no friends in the place, not even an acquaintance, nor did he care to. What leisure time he had he devoted to what he now had come to consider as his life work—the answering of blind ads in the Help Wanted columns of one morning and one evening paper—the two mediums which seemed to carry the bulk of such advertising.
For a while he had sought a better position by applying during the noon hour to such places as gave an address close enough to the department store in which he worked to permit him to make the attempt during the forty-five-minute period he was allowed for his lunch.
But he soon discovered that nine-tenths of the positions were filled before he arrived, and that in the few cases where they were not he not only failed of employment, but was usually so delayed that he was late in returning to work after noon.
By replying to blind ads evenings he could take his replies to the two newspaper offices during his lunch hour, thereby losing no great amount of time. Although he never received a reply, he still persisted as he found the attempt held something of a fascination for him, similar probably to that which holds the lottery devotee or the searcher after buried treasure—there was always the chance that he would turn up something big.
And so another month dragged by slowly. His work in the department store disgusted him. It seemed such a silly, futile occupation for a full-grown man, and he was always fearful that the sister or sweetheart or mother of some of his Chicago friends would find him there behind the counter in the hosiery section.
The store was a large one, including many departments, and Jimmy tried to persuade the hosiery buyer to arrange for his transfer to another department where his work would be more in keeping with his sex and appearance.
He rather fancied the automobile accessories line, but the buyer was perfectly satisfied with Jimmy’s sales record, and would do nothing to assist in the change. The university heavyweight champion had reached a point where he loathed but one thing more than he did silk hosiery, and that one thing was himself.
Harold plays the Raven.
Mason Compton, president and general manager, sat in his private office in the works of the International Machine Company, chewing upon an unlighted cigar and occasionally running his fingers through his iron-gray hair as he compared and recompared two statements which lay upon the desk before him.
“Damn strange,” he muttered as he touched a button beneath the edge of his desk. A boy entered the room. “Ask Mr. Bince if he will be good enough to step in here a moment, please,” said Compton; and a moment later, when Harold Bince entered, the older man leaned back in his chair and motioned the other to be seated.