“All right,” said the girl, “run along and sell your papers.” And she turned again to Jimmy, and as though utterly unconscious of the presence of the police officer, she remarked, “That big stiff gives me a pain. He’s the original Buttinsky Kid.”
O’Donnell flushed. “Watch your step, young lady,” he said as he turned and walked away.
“I thought,” said Jimmy, “that it was the customary practise to attempt to mollify the guardians of the law.”
“Mollify nothing,” returned the girl. “None of these big bruisers knows what decency is, and if you’re decent to them they think you’re afraid of them. When they got something on you you got to be nice, but when they haven’t, tell them where they get off. I knew he wouldn’t pinch me; he’s got nothing to pinch me for, and he’d have been out of luck if he had, for there hasn’t one of them got anything on me.”
“But won’t he have it in for you?” asked Jimmy.
“Sure, he will,” said the girl. “He’s got it in for everybody. That’s what being a policeman does to a man. Say, most of these guys hate themselves. I tell you, though,” she said presently and more seriously, “I’m sorry on your account. These dicks never forget a face. He’s got you catalogued and filed away in what he calls his brain alongside of a dip and—a”—she hesitated—“a girl like me, and no matter how high up you ever get if your foot slips up will bob O’Donnell with these two facts.”
“I’m not worrying,” said Jimmy. “I don’t intend to let my foot slip in his direction.”
“I hope not,” said the girl.
Thursday morning Jimmy took up his duties as efficiency expert at the plant of the International Machine Company. Since his interview with Compton his constant companion had been “How to Get More Out of Your Factory,” with the result that he felt that unless he happened to be pitted against another efficiency expert he could at least make a noise like efficiency, and also he had grasped what he considered the fundamental principle of efficiency, namely, simplicity.
“If,” he reasoned, “I cannot find in any plant hundreds of operations that are not being done in the simplest manner it will be because I haven’t even ordinary powers of observation or intelligence,” for after his second interview with Compton, Jimmy had suddenly realized that the job meant something to him beside the two hundred and fifty dollars a month—that he couldn’t deliberately rob Compton, as he felt that he would be doing unless he could give value received in services, and he meant to do his best to accomplish that end.
He knew that for a while his greatest asset would be bluff, but there was something about Mason Compton that had inspired in the young man a vast respect and another sentiment that he realized upon better acquaintance might ripen into affection. Compton reminded him in many ways of his father, and with the realization of that resemblance Jimmy felt more and more ashamed of the part he was playing, but now that he had gone into it he made up his mind that he would stick to it, and there was besides the slight encouragement that he had derived from the enthusiasm of the girl who had suggested the idea to him and of her oft-repeated assertion relative to her “hunch”, that he would make good.