She had gone the morning after Bonbright’s father died, leaving no word but that she was going, and she had not gone far. It is simple to lose oneself in a city. One may merely move to the next ward and be lost to one’s friends. Only chance will cause a meeting, and Ruth was determined to guard against that chance.
She found a cheap, decent boarding house, among laboring people; she found a new position... that was all. She had to live; to continue was required of her, but it must be among strangers. She could face existence where there were no pitying eyes; where there was none to remind her of her husband. ... She hid away with her love, and coddled it and held it up for herself to see. She lived for it. It was her life. ... Even at her darkest moment she was glad she loved. She devoted herself wholly to that love which had been discovered just too late—which was not the wise nor the healthful thing to do, as any physician could have informed her.
For a few days after the commencement of his reign Bonbright remained quiescent. It was not through uncertainty, nor because he did not know what he was going to do. It was because he wanted to be sure of the best way of doing it. Very little of his time was spent in the room that had been his father’s and was now his own; he walked about the plant, studying, scrutinizing, appraising, comparing. He did not go about now as he had done with Rangar on the day his father inducted him into the dignity of heir apparent and put a paper crown on his head and a wooden scepter in his hand.
He was aware that the men eyed him morosely. Bitterness was still alive in their hearts, and the recollection of suffering fresh in their minds. They still looked at him as a sort of person his father had made him appear, and viewed his succession as a calamity. The old regime had been bad enough, they told one another, but this young man, with his ruthlessness, his heartlessness, with what seemed to be a savage desire to trample workingmen into unresisting, unprotesting submission—this would be intolerable. So they scowled at him, and in their homes talked to their wives with apprehension of dark days ahead.
He felt their attitude. It could not be helped—yet. His work could not be started with the men, it must start elsewhere. He would come to the men later, in good time, in their proper order.
His third morning in the office he had called Malcolm Lightener on the telephone.
“Is your proposition to manufacture ten thousand engines still open?”
“I’ll take the contract—providing we can arrive at terms.”
“I’ll send over blue prints and specifications—and my cost figures. Probably our costs will be lower than yours. ...”
“They won’t be,” said Bonbright, with a tightening of his jaw. “Can you lend me Mershon for a while?” Mershon was Lightener’s engineer, the man who had designed and built his great plant.