The doctor had not lost all faith in his own fearlessness and rectitude of motive, but he was obliged to acknowledge to himself that just then he was a rather weak champion.
“However, I’d like to lay eyes on the sort of man who can unjoint this devilish combination of politics and law and finance,” he informed himself, trying to justify his own retreat.
His eyes, in passing, swept a stranger.
The stranger was a tall young man with wavy hair and brown eyes. He sat patiently, nursing a broad-brimmed black hat on his knees.
“I’d like to see that man!” repeated Dr. Dohl, mentally, sugar-coating his disgust at his own weakness.
If mortal man were gifted with prescience Dr. Dohl would have stared out of countenance the tall young man who sat on a bench in the outer office of the state’s overlord and nursed a broad-brimmed hat upon his knees.
THE CODE AND THE GAGE OF BATTLE
“I appreciate zeal in public affairs,” mused Colonel Dodd, gazing at the door which Dr. Dohl had closed behind him. “But once there was a retriever dog who chased his master with a stick of dynamite that had a sputtering fuse.”
He set his broad hands upon the arms of his chair, derricked himself up, and went over to the mirror. He peered at himself and seemed to rearrange his countenance, much as a woman would smooth the ruffled plumage of her hat.
“We’re not murderers,” he informed the composed visage which the mirror held forth to him. “But we haven’t got to the point where we’re letting lunatics who break up city government meetings, or crank doctors, tell us how to spend a million or two of the money we’ve worked hard to accumulate. There’s getting to be too much of this telling business men in this country how to run their business. If we’re peddling typhoid fever in spite of what our analyses tell us, then we’ll go ahead, of course, and clean up.” Colonel Dodd was willing to acknowledge that much to himself, surveying his countenance in the mirror. “But we’ll continue to run our own business,” he added.
Then he sat down again in his chair and pushed a button. “Briggs,” he directed, “send in those three men from Danburg.”
He whirled his swivel-chair and sat there at his desk, his rectangular front squared to meet them.
The three men who came in were of the rural businessmen type, and their faces were not amiable. Two of them halted in the middle of the sumptuous apartment and the third stepped a couple of paces ahead of them. He carried a huge roll of engineers’ plans under his arm.
“My name is Davis, as I suppose you know, Colonel Dodd,” he reported.
“Have seats, gentlemen.”
“We are tired of sitting,” stated the spokesmen, with sour significance.
“I understand, Mr. David. But mornings are very busy times for me. I was attending to appointments made beforehand. You made no appointment, and I was not expecting you.”