“Yes,” he agreed thoughtfully, “if some American genius could find a way to legalize that power and utilize the men who created it the worst of our problems would be solved. A man with his ability has a right to power, and none would respond more quickly or more splendidly to a call of the government than he. All this fight is waste, Hugh, damned waste of the nation’s energy.” Mr. Watling seldom swore. “Look at the President! There’s a man of remarkable ability, too. And those two oughtn’t to be fighting each other. The President’s right, in a way. Yes, he is, though I’ve got to oppose him.”
I smiled at this from Theodore Watling, though I admired him the more for it. And suddenly, oddly, I happened to remember what Krebs had said, that our troubles were not due to individuals, but to a disease that had developed in industrial society. If the day should come when such men as the President and the great banker would be working together, was it not possible, too, that the idea of Mr. Watling and the vision of Krebs might coincide? I was struck by a certain seeming similarity in their views; but Mr. Watling interrupted this train of thought by continuing to express his own.
“Well,—they’re running right into a gale when they might be sailing with it,” he said.
“You think we’ll have more trouble?” I asked.
“More and more,” he replied. “It’ll be worse before it’s better I’m afraid.” At this moment a club servant announced his cab, and he rose. “Well, good-bye, my son,” he said. “I’ll hope to see you in Washington soon. And remember there’s no one thinks any more of you than I do.”
I escorted him to the door, and it was with a real pang I saw him wave to me from his cab as he drove away. My affection for him was never more alive than in this hour when, for the first time in my experience, he had given real evidence of an inner anxiety and lack of confidence in the future.
In spite of that unwonted note of pessimism from Mr. Watling, I went home in a day or two flushed with my new honours, and it was impossible not to be conscious of the fact that my aura of prestige was increased —tremendously increased—by the recognition I had received. A certain subtle deference in the attitude of the small minority who owed allegiance to the personage by whom I had been summoned was more satisfying than if I had been acclaimed at the station by thousands of my fellow-citizens who knew nothing of my journey and of its significance, even though it might have a concern for them. To men like Berringer, Grierson and Tallant and our lesser great lights the banker was a semi-mythical figure, and many times on the day of my return I was stopped on the street to satisfy the curiosity of my friends as to my impressions. Had he, for instance, let fall any opinions, prognostications on the political and financial situation? Dickinson and Scherer