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XIV

A FAILURE AND A SUCCESS

During the next few months Floyd for the first time came into business relations with his friend Stewart Lee. He found that beyond stating in a general way her desires, his grandmother had given the architect no definite instructions about the club building; she had asked him to submit plans which should embody certain features and which should represent a building that could be constructed for a certain sum.

Stewart, who was very busy, did not get the plans ready until the end of January. He was building a church, half a dozen large houses, two office buildings, and three country houses; he was at work on plans for many other things, and with them all he had been reckless in his promises. When at last he had the plans for the club-house ready, he submitted them to Floyd with a gay confidence. "I think the ladies will find that is just about the sort of building they want," he said. "Artistically, I have n't done anything better."

Floyd and his grandfather studied the plans for several evenings, and the more Floyd studied them the less satisfied with them he became. His grandfather did not so readily visualize the defects; he acknowledged them, however, when Floyd pointed them out. "I think," Floyd said to Colonel Halket at last, "as long as this is to be a club for women we had better get a woman's opinion on it." He consulted his grandmother's friend, Mrs. Hubert Clark; her criticism confirmed the judgment he had already formed of the plans.

Stewart was not very hospitable to suggestions concerning his work. When Floyd called his attention to the awkwardness of having the bathrooms so remote from the dressing-rooms, Stewart answered, "You can't place them any other way and keep the colonnade." "Then I guess we'd better dispense with the colonnade," said Floyd. Stewart demurred frostily. The colonnade was the detail which gave character to the building. His theory was that what women living in poor ugly houses would most appreciate and find restful in the club was its æsthetic quality, and he had made all else secondary to that. None of the points that Floyd criticised could be altered without radical impairment of the beauty and harmony of the design. Floyd was firm; he said that his grandmother's purpose had been practical rather than æsthetic, and he wished to carry it out as she herself would have done. He did not believe that the æsthetic was so irreconcilable with the practical. If Stewart said that it was in this set of plans, he would have to take his word for it; but of course fresh drawings could be made.

Stewart grumbled a little about the inability of laymen to appreciate the first principles of architecture, and said that if they could only realize how capricious their desires and criticisms usually were, they would give the architect a freer hand. He promised, however, to make the changes without delay. He had drawn the plans himself, wishing to do something especially good for Floyd; the next day he gave them to his chief draughtsman, telling him what objections had been raised, and asking him to make the necessary changes. The draughtsman was a clever fellow in his way; and when Floyd received the revised plans, he was gratified to note how successfully the old difficulties had been eliminated and with what little loss of beauty. He congratulated Stewart on this, and Stewart answered with resignation, "Yes, it looks so to you—but the building is not really the same."

Stewart's pride had been touched by the fact that Floyd, quite unknowingly, had preferred the draughtsman's revision to his own carefully finished plans, and to that as well as to the other demands on him may be attributed the indifference and negligence which marked his attitude toward the work. In the first place, though the site chosen was on the edge of a marsh, he neglected to take borings; in the second place, the measurements for the granite foundation and limestone superstructure which he made personally while his draughtsman was enjoying a vacation were discovered, after the foundation had been laid, not to agree, and there was a long and vexatious delay. When at last, six months late, the club-house was finished, it did not long retain the first favorable opinions that it won; in the spring, when the frost was out of the ground, it began to settle and crack and leak amazingly. Cracks appeared in the plaster, the rain came through the roof, and in the reading-room the paneling swelled, the mantel-pieces started away from their fireplaces, the doors refused to close. Stewart blamed the contractor, but the contractor inculpated Stewart, who had to make the humiliating confession that he had not thought it necessary to take borings and that if he had done so he might possibly have prevented such a settling of the building. To Floyd, who had been anxious to have this one thing done especially well, the result was a great disappointment; he felt that somehow he had failed in a labor of love, and in his loyalty to a friend it was even more painful since he could not exonerate Stewart. "I suppose," he said to himself when he had at last attained a cooler temper, "everybody sometimes makes a botch—even the best of men. Every now and then a crack painter does a daub, and a good man writes a poor book, and a real humorist gets cheap, and a great statesman flies off the handle. But I wish it had been something else than just this that had been Stewart's off job."

Although Floyd did not yet know it, Stewart was having a good many "off jobs" at about this time. Up till now he had been prospering in his work; a few blunders about which disgruntled sufferers made some talk had not been treasured up against him; of course, people said, an architect so young and inexperienced was bound to make mistakes. But there was no one else who grasped an idea so sympathetically, touched it up with so nice an imagination; his work had, said the ladies, distinction and charm—and it was a pleasure to work with him. On a rapidly spreading reputation of this kind, he had himself spread out; that is, he had thrown more rooms into his office and had called to his aid more men. But on his chief draughtsman he had come more and more to rely; he was the man who had the knowledge of petty and tedious detail for which Stewart himself had no patience; it was he whose mathematical calculations were unerring, and who moreover had an astonishing practical sense that could devise a forgotten cupboard or a staircase in the most compact plans. This man Stewart had taken from Bennett, and Stewart flattered himself that he had taught him much and that the man was humbly grateful.

But Bennett had been keeping a close watch upon his young rival's career. He had never shown any resentment toward Durant, the draughtsman, because of his desertion; rather, his friendly interest in him was as marked as his cold disapproval of Stewart. Sometimes he invited Durant to luncheon, and by perfectly natural and indirect methods led him to discourse of his employer's peculiar bent and abilities. He knew Durant,—a modest, unassertive man of unusual competence, always contented to occupy a second place and work laboriously. And one day he astonished him with a proposal that they should go into partnership together.

Durant, who was poor and so conscientious a plodder that he had never dreamed of such an achievement except as possibly crowning his old age, was thrilled by the suggestion. The firm name, "Bennett & Durant, Architects," glowed in his imagination. He told his employer of the proposal and admitted that he was greatly tempted. Stewart was considerate and kindly, and Durant was humble before condescension. "Of course," Stewart said to him, "I believe that this office is the place for a young man. It has a future before it; we're going to lead every one else. For that reason I can't honestly advise any young man who looks to the future to leave. But if you are more inclined to consider the immediate present,—I'm free to say I can't make you such an attractive offer as Mr. Bennett has done. And I don't want to put any obstacles in the way of your doing what seems to you best."

Durant was torn with perplexity; for a day or two he was of a most unhappy, vacillating mind. He had never before faced a problem of such immense seriousness. Hitherto his services had been at the command of the highest bidder,—but now, urged to consider the future and impressed by his employer's confidence and resources, he wondered if it would not be wise for him to reject the glittering opportunity. Bennett drew from him an account of the conversation that had set him so adrift. Durant's faithful report caused Bennett to rage inwardly and to think more than ever of Stewart Lee as an impudent, patronizing young upstart, but he was too discreet to explode such sentiments. Instead he attempted to infuse into Durant a proper self-confidence and to reason with him. He took a tolerant, humane view of Stewart. "It's natural a young man like that should be over-sanguine," he said. "He has money and pull, and everything at the start has seemed to come his way. And I'll concede that he has a very pretty talent for certain things. But don't you see, Durant, he needs a man like you to fill him out here and a fellow like Burke to pad him there; and yet he wants to be the whole thing himself. Why, you're more important to him than he realizes; you're the balance-wheel of the whole establishment. I'll go so far as to say I didn't know myself how important you were till I'd lost you. With our combined energy, with your head for practical detail and my general knowledge and experience, Bennett & Durant can snap their fingers at all the amateurs and dilettanti that ever left Paris."

By such persuasion Durant was convinced; and a month later a new shingle was hung on the door of Bennett's office. Within the next half-year Stewart lost two more competent men; one, having inherited some money, "set up" for himself; the other went to New York. Affairs in Stewart's office were muddled; he was not a good organizer, and what with trying both to get effective results from his office force and to do all the creative work himself, and what with his lack of practical experience, he made a poor showing. His clients first murmured and then expressed outright dissatisfaction; they said he promised but did not perform, was careless and expensive, could make plans that were attractive, but was unable to build a house that fulfilled the promise of the plans. His contracts were never executed on time. There came a slack season in which he succeeded in gathering together the loose ends of his work; and because he knew that it was a slack season in all the offices, he did not appreciate how widely disappointment over what he had done was simmering.

Lydia was more sensitive to intimations of this, which somehow reached her. She asked Stewart if he was not too rushed with work, and said she wished he would take a partner and so relieve himself of some of the worry and responsibility. But Stewart would not listen to this advice. He had an odd personal vanity on just that point; he wished to stand alone. When his reward and reputation were established, there should be no one to share and diminish the credit. "Stewart Lee, Architect," was to remain his sign until the end; he had started in with a mind definitely, obstinately made up to that. He was conscious of his deficiencies, but belittled them, as those which inferior men were created to supply. He tried hard enough to secure the right kind of inferior men; he engaged one after another in Darant's place, but none of them proved, like Durant, fundamentally amenable and patient. The office was in a state of continual flux and change; it was never after Durant left really organized.

One evening when Floyd had come to dinner, Lydia remarked that she had never been inside the Women's Club at New Rome; she said she liked to see the things that Stewart had done, and asked how she might secure permission to visit it.

"Oh, you don't want to see it, Lydia," Stewart said, with an uncomfortable laugh. "That's one of the things that ought to have turned out better than it did."

"Nothing turns out quite as you'd like to have it," replied Lydia. "I know enough of architecture to know that. I want to see it anyway. Do you suppose it could be arranged, Floyd?"

"Of course," he answered. "I have to go out to the works to-morrow morning; if you care to come too, I will get one of the members of the club to show you round."

To Stewart's annoyance the arrangement was made. Floyd drove Lydia out to New Rome the next morning; he took her first to Hugh Farrell's house, of which he was glad to be able to speak handsomely.

"I was hoping he'd build a lot more such houses out here," Floyd said. "But of course he has so many larger things to do."

Letty was at home, and came to the door, with a red-haired infant in her arms and another clinging to her dress. She was delighted to meet the lady whom Floyd introduced as "Your architect's wife, Letty." To show Mrs. Lee over the club-house would be, she declared earnestly, a pleasure; she would just run upstairs and ask her mother to take care of the babies while she was gone.

"Let me keep this little fellow until you come down," Lydia said, patting the head of the older boy.

Letty laughed and slipped out of the room.

"What gorgeous hair!" Lydia said to Floyd. She lifted the little boy up on her lap and smiled at him and shook her head and stroked his cheek. "Is n't that woman the happy looking soul!" she added.

Floyd suddenly caught a pathos in the exclamation, and in the wistful and tender look in Lydia's eyes as she played with the little boy. It occurred to him for the first time that her happiness with Stewart was not complete, and he felt a pang of sympathy and sorrow. What a mother she would make, he thought, and how truly sad if children should be denied her!

The little boy slid down from her knee when his mother reëntered the room.

"He's shy of strangers," Letty explained, caressing his head. "Run upstairs to Grandma, Hughie.—Is n't it too bad, Mr. Halket," she said, turning to Floyd with her bright smile, "that we did n't have this house when you were boarding with us? My! you'd have been so much more comfortable! And"—her eyes twinkled—"the bathroom here is enough to make a person sing for joy—really sing," she added mischievously.

Floyd laughed. "Mrs. Lee doesn't know about that joke," he said. "If you don't mind, I'll leave you to explain it to her. Good-by, Letty. I'll call for you at the club in half an hour, Lydia."

At the company's offices important matters engaged his attention. A new wage-scale had to be prepared and submitted to the men to sign.

"It's going to cause trouble," Gregg said. "Especially if you're still of a mind to promote Farrell and make him foreman."

Floyd folded up the superintendent's schedule and put it in his pocket. "I'll study this," he said, "and go over it with you in a day or two. What's the trouble about Farrell?"

"Nothing; he's a good man; that's it; he's too good. The Affiliated crowd are down on him; he's been so opposed to the union and all it stands for; there's a faction, headed by Tustin and a half-dozen others, that are bitter against him. Tustin's chairman of the Affiliated, and the radicals generally are in control. And if you put Farrell in—I think they'll make a fight for what they'll call a 'principle.'"

"I'm afraid that fight cannot be indefinitely postponed," Floyd said. "Is there any other objection to Farrell except that he's non-union?"

"Yes," said Gregg. "It's claimed that he's too young—at least that there are older men who've been working in the rod-mill longer than he and who ought to be preferred—"

"I have worked in that mill myself," Floyd interrupted. "With those men. And I have formed a perfectly definite opinion as to how competent they are, any of them, to fill an executive position."

"Here's a document," proceeded Gregg, taking a paper up from his desk. "Kind of a curious thing—just came to me this evening. I have n't done anything about it yet."

It was a paper signed by six of the workmen at the rod-mill, "taking the liberty to recommend," in case the place of foreman was to be vacant, as they had heard, Jacob Schneider for the position.

Floyd looked at his watch. "Could you get those men up here for me within ten minutes?" he asked.

Gregg sent for them.

"I don't want to appropriate one of your duties—or privileges, Mr. Gregg," Floyd said, with a smile. "But as I am personally familiar with the conditions in this case, perhaps you'll let me talk to the men?"

"I don't mind at all having a job of that kind taken off my hands," Gregg replied. "Would you like to see them alone?"

"It might be better."

Gregg left the room; in a few moments the delegation from the rod-mill entered.

Floyd nodded to them gravely as they stood bunched by the door with uncertain, anxious faces.

"I have read your recommendation," he said. "I know of no business in which it is customary for the employees to furnish advice, unsolicited, concerning the management. I will ask you to observe the usual custom. When we feel ourselves in need of advice and think that you can supply it, we will appeal to you. That is all I wanted to say."

He nodded to them again abruptly and turned aside to the desk. They left the room in silence.

Half an hour later he was driving Lydia back along the road to Avalon. She seemed constrained and disinclined to make any reference to the building which she had come to see, and Floyd, understanding plainly enough the cause of this, talked of Letty and described the parties that used to be held in Mrs. Bell's parlor. "I wish you could have met Miss Lally Gorham," he said. "She used to do Shakespeare. One day not long ago I was passing the Women's Club; they had a big sign out announcing that she would give a 'dramatic recital' the next Saturday afternoon. If men had been allowed, I'd have gone to hear her."

"Was she funny?" Lydia asked.

"Funny! No, indeed. Tragic, passionate. She was intending to go on the stage, but perhaps the club gives her sufficient opportunity to display her talent. I should hardly think it would; she had self-confidence for anything."

"I suppose it's always gratifying to see a cock-sure person fail," Lydia observed.

"That's the most cynical speech I ever heard you make," said Floyd.

She turned her face toward him for a moment and he saw that tears stood in her eyes.

"No, I don't really think that, Floyd," she answered. "I was just thinking, indeed, of—of what a pity it is when other people have been cock-sure too."

"Is it only for the others? Haven't you any sympathy for the poor devil himself?" Floyd asked.

"Oh, I hope so," she answered, and caught her breath.

He realized then how bitter and surprising the disappointment of the building had been to her; he imagined that it was the first time she had been confronted with such inferiority in her husband's work. And if he had known, the greatest pain to her came from the feeling that Stewart had failed in the thing that he should for reasons of sentiment and friendship have done best.

That evening when Floyd went home. Colonel Halket welcomed him with an eager excitement.

"Come in here, Floyd," he said. "I've got something to show you." Then he stopped at the door of the library and looked at his grandson sharply. "Have you seen the new Contemporary Review?—the one that's out to-day?"

"Not yet," Floyd answered.

Colonel Halket walked to the library table and took up a magazine which he handed to Floyd. "Glance your eye down the table of contents," he said.

"Hello!" Floyd exclaimed. "You're pretty secret about doing things, are n't you? You never told me you were writing for the magazines."

"I thought I'd surprise you," chuckled his grandfather. "It's not many writers, I guess, whose first contribution is accepted by the Contemporary. Maybe I mistook my vocation, and should have been a literary man!" He laughed gayly; it was a long time since Floyd had seen him so youthful and so pleased. "Read it, Floyd, and tell me what you think of it."

The article was entitled "The Employer and the Union." It began informally: "For many years I have been a large employer of labor, and I have the happiness of feeling that I am regarded by my workmen as a friend. In the security of this feeling, I have never been able, like many of my neighbors in business, to regard the growing power and development of the labor union as a menace. In the words of the poet,—

'Should banded unions persecute
Opinion and induce a time
When single thought is civil crime
And individual freedom mute,'—

my attitude might change; but I have very little fear."

He sketched the history of the Halket Steel Company blandly, describing the original patriarchal nature of the establishment, and expressing the belief that even in the great enlargement of the plant the unity of sentiment animating all connected with it had not been weakened. Then he passed to an account of the first effort of the union to obtain a lodgment. "Organization was in the air; it became epidemic; the contagion extended to the mills at New Rome. The first symptoms were observed during a summer when I was away. Not unnaturally, the management was alarmed. The union had its secret agents and missionaries at work, a fact which seemed no doubt to imply a sinister purpose. With capital everywhere agitated and frightened by the sudden looming up of a new power, the power of labor, it is not surprising that the cool heads in control at New Rome should almost instinctively have accepted the situation as ominous and critical. In that spirit they were prepared to resist the union from the start,—to prevent it from getting a start,—to exterminate it if it had got a start.

"As I have said, I was absent at the time. Possibly it was that fact which gave me a better and truer perspective of the whole matter than that enjoyed by those who were close at hand. Certainly I do not take any special credit to myself for being able to view the issue from a different angle than that of the usually cool but now agitated heads at the works. Finding that a crisis actually was at hand, I returned to New Rome and inaugurated a policy quite unlike the combative one that had been proposed. It was the policy of laissez faire—to which I have always adhered, to which, I trust, I shall always adhere. 'Organize?' I said to the men. 'Why, certainly. An excellent thing for you to do if you want to. It will mean for you certain sick and death benefits—not that you're in need of them, for, as you know, the company always tries to do the right thing at such times—and also it may give you more of a feeling of brotherhood—which of course is to be encouraged.'

"That was the way I met the union, and since then I have always been on the friendliest terms with it. As it happens, I have been able to pay my men somewhat better wages than those required by the union scale in other mills. I find my union men are as willing as my non-union men to accept this better rate. They have arranged it with their parent organization so that they are permitted to accept my scale. Some of the mills at New Rome are union, others non-union, others half and half. There is no difference in smoothness and efficiency, there is no visible friction. I have not had a strike at New Rome in twenty years."

He passed on here to the subject of strikes, and became more general, ceasing to draw from his own personal experience. His tolerance was comprehensive; he believed that if all the strikes were analyzed, employers and workmen would be found to share about equally the blame. As to the charges of violence and lawlessness made against strikers, it was only fair to consider the temptation which often confronted them. "When a man is out of work and has a family starving on his hands and sees another man employed to fill his place, he is perhaps not fully accountable for his actions; at least he should not be judged with the harshness that rightly attaches to an ordinary case of assault. After all, when men are sacrificing themselves for a principle,—even admitting it may be a wrong principle,—it does n't seem the most worthy act for others to step in and invalidate their sacrifice. The law that is often heard quoted among workmen has almost the moral force of a commandment from the Decalogue—'Thou shalt not take thy neighbor's job.'"

In closing he admitted that other employers of labor might not subscribe to such leniency. "It will be said doubtless that I write as one who has never had experience of the horrors of a protracted strike. I cannot regret my immunity. It is a satisfaction to me to feel that while I have been tolerably successful in business, I have never been obliged to quell a spirit of discontent among my men. I have found that if one yields to human nature's just demands, and makes only just demands of it, human nature will respond. And I hope and believe that in the years that are left to me I shall never be led to adopt a more rigorous policy toward my men or they to decline in their friendly feeling toward me."

Floyd, after he had finished reading the article, did not for some moments raise his eyes from the magazine, though he was aware that his grandfather was eagerly awaiting his comment. He was trying to think how he could disguise his opinion that the essay was most unfortunate and indiscreet. At last he looked up with a smile.

"Well, Grandfather," he said, "you've come out pretty strong."

"Not a bit too strong," replied Colonel Halket. "If, after all my years of life, I ever had a message to the world, that comes pretty near being it." He spoke with the gayety of a man who has really freed himself from a burden. "But what do you think of the way it's written, Floyd? Doesn't that quotation from Tennyson come in pretty pat?"

"First-rate," Floyd admitted, and his grandfather laughed with a proud pleasure. "But why did n't you let me know you were writing it—why did n't you let me go over it with you?"

"Why? You don't find any mistakes in the English, do you?" Colonel Halket asked anxiously.

"No, oh no. It's very well written. But I should have liked to talk it over with you beforehand."

"I thought there could n't have been any mistakes," Colonel Halket said, with great relief. "You know, when they sent me the proof of it and I read it in print for the first time, I could hardly believe I'd written it; it seemed too—well, too smooth and professional. I said to myself, 'I guess the editor's fixed it up a bit.' So I compared the manuscript with it—and not a word had been changed—not a word. I tell you, I was surprised."

An old man exulting in the discovery of a new thing that he could do, a new achievement—Floyd could not blow cold upon his pleasure now. He looked at his watch and exclaimed,—

"By Jove! Your article was so interesting I had no idea it was as late as this! We 'd better be dressing for dinner, had n't we?"

In the interval, Floyd secured a clearer view of the manner in which his grandfather's published article might complicate the situation at the mills. It was conceivable that Gregg and the other superintendents might resent the somewhat patronizing reference to their "usually cool but now agitated heads;" they might resent being made a text for a public preachment. They would certainly feel that much of their work had been undone, for, notwithstanding Colonel Halket's declaration of a laissez faire policy, his subordinates had for a long time in small ways been endeavoring to discourage the spread of unionism in the mills. Now this authoritative utterance must advance victoriously the cause that Floyd himself had come to regard as dangerous and to be opposed. His contemplated promotion of Hugh Farrell, his rebuke that day to the union delegation from the rod-mill occurred to him as but two out of a multitude of matters which had suddenly been transformed—by the stroke of his grandfather's pen—from petty details to large issues and embarrassments.

When he came down to dinner it was hard to meet his grandfather's unsatisfied appetite for comment and appreciation.

"I suppose you did n't hear anything said about it downtown to-day?" Colonel Halket asked. "Of course the magazine was out only this morning, but I thought somebody might have read it. You heard nothing at the club at noon? Well, I guess in a few days it will make some talk."

"Oh, you'll hear from it," Floyd assured him. "The newspapers here will be reprinting it—and you'll hear from it—from all sides."

"Not altogether favorably, you think, eh? Well, there's nothing I like better than to stir people up now and then. I've spoken out the truth as I've learned it from a long apprenticeship; and other people can learn from it or not—as they please."

"You have n't told me yet why you would n't let me see the article when it was written," Floyd said, returning to his first question.

"Oh, I just wanted to surprise you—in case it was good enough to print; and if it was n't, I did n't want to be mortified by showing it to any one," laughed Colonel Halket; he was in a merry mood.

"I hope you don't intend to be so secretive with the Autobiography," Floyd said.

"I think it's quite likely," replied his grandfather.

"But I might perhaps be able to make suggestions," Floyd urged.

"I don't want them. I want the thing to be my own—down to the last word. I don't want even you—or anybody—to read it till it's all done and in print. It's pretty nearly done, too."

The announcement—in which, before the appearance of the magazine article, Floyd would have rejoiced—smote now upon his ears like a threat. He foresaw for himself weeks of patient diplomacy and scheming; in the light of the published article, it seemed nothing less than essential that he should read and revise the manuscript of the book.

After dinner, when they sat smoking together in the library, Floyd suddenly put a question.

"Grandfather, you've made me general manager of the company. Does that mean that I'm to act on my own judgment in deciding questions that come before me, even though I'm pretty sure that my judgment would run counter to yours?"

"No," said Colonel Halket decisively. "When you think you're probably differing from me, you'd better refer the matter to me. What is this thing that you feel so experimental about?"

"The appointment of foreman in Rod-Mill Number Three. A fellow named Farrell is by all odds the most efficient man there, and I want to give him the place. He's younger than many of the men; he's antagonized some of them because he's always steadily set his face against the union. If he's promoted instead of one of the older men, the union is likely to regard it as an affront; and I may as well admit that, although I consider Farrell the most efficient man, I also consider it important to take a step of this kind for the very purpose of restricting the union."

"No, sir." Colonel Halket shook his head with vigorous emphasis. "It won't do. Why, it's going against the very principles I've laid down in that magazine article; it's using the policy of compulsion instead of that of conciliation. I won't hear of it, Floyd. If your appointment of a young man is going to affront a large body of our old and experienced workmen, you must appoint some one else; a slight loss in the individual efficiency of the foreman will be more than made up by the general efficiency that comes from harmony and contentment. No, we're not in business to fight the union; let other firms do that for us if they want to. Why, to go back to that verse,—

'Should banded unions persecute
Opinion and induce a time
When single thought is civil crime,
And individual freedom mute,'—

then you could think about restricting them, not till then. That's wisdom and humanity, my boy."

"I only hope we shall never see the time," Floyd remarked. "

"We never shall—at New Rome," his grandfather responded, with a confident, reassuring smile.

Floyd telephoned to Gregg the next morning that he had decided to appoint Jacob Schneider foreman of the rod-mill; he offered the superintendent no explanation. But all that day it galled him to think that the six men whom he had censured for their impertinence were no doubt crediting themselves with a victory and laughing at his rebuke as a "weak bluff."