The night’s experience had been like a sudden awakening. His anxiety over his dwindling finances and his disappointment over Carlin’s news had been put to flight by the suffering of the man who had tried to rob him. There were depths, then, to which human suffering might drive a man, depths he himself had never imagined or reached—horrible, deadly depths, without light or hope, benumbing the best in a man, destroying his purposes by slow, insidious stages.
He arose from his chair and began walking up and down the small room, stopping now and then to inspect a bureau drawer or to readjust one of the curtains shading the panes of glass. In the same absent-minded way he drew out one of the trunks, unlocked it, paused now and then with some garment in his hand only to awake again to consciousness and resume his task, pushing the trunk back at last under the bed and continuing his walk about the narrow room, always haunted by the tramp’s haggard, hopeless look.
Again he felt the mysterious sense of kinship in pain that wipes away all distinctions. With it, too, there came suddenly another sense—that of an overwhelming compassion out of which new purposes are born to human souls.
The encounter, then, had been both a blessing and a warning. He would now stand guard against the onslaught of his own sorrows while keeping up the fight, and this with renewed vigor. He would earn money, too, since this was so necessary, laboring with his hands, if need be; and he would do it all with a wide-open heart.
If O’Day’s presence was a welcome addition to Kitty’s household, it was nothing compared to the effect produced at Kling’s. Long before the month was out he had not only earned his entire wages five times over by the changes he had wrought in the arrangement and classification of the stock, but he had won the entire confidence of his employer. Otto had surrendered when an old customer who had been in the habit of picking up rare bits of china, Japanese curios, and carvings at his own value had been confronted with the necessity of either paying Felix’s price or going away without it, O’Day having promptly quadrupled the price on a piece of old Dresden, not only because the purchaser was compelled to have it to complete his set but because the interview had shown that the buyer was well aware he had obtained the former specimens at one-fourth of their value.
And the same discernment was shown when he was purchasing old furniture, brass, and so-called Sheffield plate to increase Otto’s stock. If the articles offered could still boast of either handle, leg, or back of their original state and the price was fair, they were almost always bought, but the line was drawn at the fraudulent and “plugged-up” sideboards and chairs with their legs shot full of genuine worm-holes; ancient Oriental stuffs of the time of the early Persians