Dalyrimple Goes Wrong by F. Scott Fitzgerald
In the millennium an educational genius will write a book to be
given to every young man on the date of his disillusion. This work
will have the flavor of Montaigne's essays and Samuel Butler's
note-books—and a little of Tolstoi and Marcus Aurelius. It will be
neither cheerful nor pleasant but will contain numerous passages of
striking humor. Since first-class minds never believe anything very
strongly until they've experienced it, its value will be purely
relative . . . all people over thirty will refer to it as
This prelude belongs to the story of a young man who lived, as you
and I do, before the book.
The generation which numbered Bryan Dalyrimple drifted out of
adolescence to a mighty fan-fare of trumpets. Bryan played the star
in an affair which included a Lewis gun and a nine-day romp behind the
retreating German lines, so luck triumphant or sentiment rampant
awarded him a row of medals and on his arrival in the States he was
told that he was second in importance only to General Pershing and
Sergeant York. This was a lot of fun. The governor of his State, a
stray congressman, and a citizens' committee gave him enormous smiles
and “By God, Sirs” on the dock at Hoboken; there were newspaper
reporters and photographers who said “would you mind” and “if you
could just”; and back in his home town there were old ladies, the rims
of whose eyes grew red as they talked to him, and girls who hadn't
remembered him so well since his father's business went blah! in
But when the shouting died he realized that for a month he had
been the house guest of the mayor, that he had only fourteen dollars
in the world and that “the name that will live forever in the annals
and legends of this State” was already living there very quietly and
One morning he lay late in bed and just outside his door he heard
the up-stairs maid talking to the cook. The up-stairs maid said that
Mrs. Hawkins, the mayor's wife, had been trying for a week to hint
Dalyrimple out of the house. He left at eleven o'clock in intolerable
confusion, asking that his trunk be sent to Mrs. Beebe's
Dalyrimple was twenty-three and he had never worked. His father
had given him two years at the State University and passed away about
the time of his son's nine-day romp, leaving behind him some
mid-Victorian furniture and a thin packet of folded paper that turned
out to be grocery bills. Young Dalyrimple had very keen gray eyes, a
mind that delighted the army psychological examiners, a trick of
having read it—whatever it was—some time before, and a cool hand in
a hot situation. But these things did not save him a final, unresigned
sigh when he realized that he had to go to work—right away.
It was early afternoon when he walked into the office of Theron G.
Macy, who owned the largest wholesale grocery house in town. Plump,
prosperous, wearing a pleasant but quite unhumorous smile, Theron G.
Macy greeted him warmly.
“Well—how do, Bryan? What's on your mind?”
To Dalyrimple, straining with his admission, his own words, when
they came, sounded like an Arab beggar's whine for alms.
“Why—this question of a job.” (“This question of a job” seemed
somehow more clothed than just “a job.”)
“A job?” An almost imperceptible breeze blew across Mr. Macy's
“You see, Mr. Macy,” continued Dalyrimple, “I feel I'm wasting
time. I want to get started at something. I had several chances about
a month ago but they all seem to have—gone—-”
“Let's see,” interrupted Mr. Macy. “What were they?”
“Well, just at the first the governor said something about a
vacancy on his staff. I was sort of counting on that for a while, but
I hear he's given it to Allen Gregg, you know, son of G. P. Gregg. He
sort of forgot what he said to me—just talking, I guess.”
“You ought to push those things.”
“Then there was that engineering expedition, but they decided
they'd have to have a man who knew hydraulics, so they couldn't use
me unless I paid my own way.”
“You had just a year at the university?”
“Two. But I didn't take any science or mathematics. Well, the day
the battalion paraded, Mr. Peter Jordan said something about a vacancy
in his store. I went around there to-day and I found he meant a sort
of floor-walker—and then you said something one day”—he paused and
waited for the older man to take him up, but noting only a minute
wince continued—“about a position, so I thought I'd come and see
“There was a position,” confessed Mr. Macy reluctantly, “but since
then we've filled it.” He cleared his throat again. “You've waited
quite a while.”
“Yes, I suppose I did. Everybody told me there was no hurry—and
I'd had these various offers.”
Mr. Macy delivered a paragraph on present-day opportunities which
Dalyrimple's mind completely skipped.
“Have you had any business experience?”
“I worked on a ranch two summers as a rider.”
“Oh, well,” Mr. Macy disparaged this neatly, and then continued:
“What do you think you're worth?”
“I don't know.”
“Well, Bryan, I tell you, I'm willing to strain a point and give
you a chance.”
“Your salary won't be much. You'll start by learning the stock.
Then you'll come in the office for a while. Then you'll go on the
road. When could you begin?”
“How about to-morrow?”
“All right. Report to Mr. Hanson in the stock-room. He'll start
He continued to regard Dalyrimple steadily until the latter,
realizing that the interview was over, rose awkwardly.
“Well, Mr. Macy, I'm certainly much obliged.”
“That's all right. Glad to help you, Bryan.”
After an irresolute moment, Dalyrimple found himself in the hall.
His forehead was covered with perspiration, and the room had not been
“Why the devil did I thank the son of a gun?” he muttered.
Next morning Mr. Hanson informed him coldly of the necessity of
punching the time-clock at seven every morning, and delivered him for
instruction into the hands of a fellow worker, one Charley Moore.
Charley was twenty-six, with that faint musk of weakness hanging
about him that is often mistaken for the scent of evil. It took no
psychological examiner to decide that he had drifted into indulgence
and laziness as casually as he had drifted into life, and was to drift
out. He was pale and his clothes stank of smoke; he enjoyed burlesque
shows, billiards, and Robert Service, and was always looking back upon
his last intrigue or forward to his next one. In his youth his taste
had run to loud ties, but now it seemed to have faded, like his
vitality, and was expressed in pale-lilac four-in-hands and
indeterminate gray collars. Charley was listlessly struggling that
losing struggle against mental, moral, and physical anæmia that takes
place ceaselessly on the lower fringe of the middle classes.
The first morning he stretched himself on a row of cereal cartons
and carefully went over the limitations of the Theron G. Macy Company.
“It's a piker organization. My Gosh! Lookit what they give me. I'm
quittin' in a coupla months. Hell! Me stay with this bunch!”
The Charley Moores are always going to change jobs next month.
They do, once or twice in their careers, after which they sit around
comparing their last job with the present one, to the infinite
disparagement of the latter.
“What do you get?” asked Dalyrimple curiously.
“Me? I get sixty.” This rather defiantly.
“Did you start at sixty?”
“Me? No, I started at thirty-five. He told me he'd put me on the
road after I learned the stock. That's what he tells 'em all.”
“How long've you been here?” asked Dalyrimple with a sinking
“Me? Four years. My last year, too, you bet your boots.”
Dalyrimple rather resented the presence of the store detective as
he resented the time-clock, and he came into contact with him almost
immediately through the rule against smoking. This rule was a thorn in
his side. He was accustomed to his three or four cigarettes in a
morning, and after three days without it he followed Charley Moore by
a circuitous route up a flight of back stairs to a little balcony
where they indulged in peace. But this was not for long. One day in
his second week the detective met him in a nook of the stairs, on his
descent, and told him sternly that next time he'd be reported to Mr.
Macy. Dalyrimple felt like an errant schoolboy.
Unpleasant facts came to his knowledge. There were “cave-
dwellers” in the basement who had worked there for ten or fifteen
years at sixty dollars a month, rolling barrels and carrying boxes
through damp, cement-walled corridors, lost in that echoing
half-darkness between seven and five-thirty and, like himself,
compelled several times a month to work until nine at night.
At the end of a month he stood in line and received forty dollars.
He pawned a cigarette-case and a pair of field-glasses and managed to
live—to eat, sleep, and smoke. It was, however, a narrow scrape; as
the ways and means of economy were a closed book to him and the second
month brought no increase, he voiced his alarm.
“If you've got a drag with old Macy, maybe he'll raise you,” was
Charley's disheartening reply. “But he didn't raise ME till I'd been
here nearly two years.”
“I've got to live,” said Dalyrimple simply. “I could get more pay
as a laborer on the railroad but, Golly, I want to feel I'm where
there's a chance to get ahead.”
Charles shook his head sceptically and Mr. Macy's answer next day
was equally unsatisfactory.
Dalyrimple had gone to the office just before closing time.
“Mr. Macy, I'd like to speak to you.”
“Why—yes.” The unhumorous smile appeared. The voice vas faintly
“I want to speak to you in regard to more salary.”
Mr. Macy nodded.
“Well,” he said doubtfully, “I don't know exactly what you're
doing. I'll speak to Mr. Hanson.”
He knew exactly what Dalyrimple was doing, and Dalyrimple knew he
“I'm in the stock-room—and, sir, while I'm here I'd like to ask
you how much longer I'll have to stay there.”
“Why—I'm not sure exactly. Of course it takes some time to learn
“You told me two months when I started.”
“Yes. Well, I'll speak to Mr. Hanson.”
Dalyrimple paused irresolute.
“Thank you, sir.”
Two days later he again appeared in the office with the result of
a count that had been asked for by Mr. Hesse, the bookkeeper. Mr.
Hesse was engaged and Dalyrimple, waiting, began idly fingering in a
ledger on the stenographer's desk.
Half unconsciously he turned a page—he caught sight of his name
—it was a salary list:
His eyes stopped—
So Tom Everett, Macy's weak-chinned nephew, had started at sixty
—and in three weeks he had been out of the packing-room and into the
So that was it! He was to sit and see man after man pushed over
him: sons, cousins, sons of friends, irrespective of their
capabilities, while HE was cast for a pawn, with “going on the road”
dangled before his eyes—put of with the stock remark: I'll see; I'll
look into it.” At forty, perhaps, he would be a bookkeeper like old
Hesse, tired, listless Hesse with a dull routine for his stint and a
dull background of boarding-house conversation.
This was a moment when a genii should have pressed into his hand
the book for disillusioned young men. But the book has not been
A great protest swelling into revolt surged up in him. Ideas half
forgotten, chaoticly perceived and assimilated, filled his mind. Get
on—that was the rule of life—and that was all. How he did it, didn't
matter—but to be Hesse or Charley Moore.
“I won't!” he cried aloud.
The bookkeeper and the stenographers looked up in surprise.
For a second Dalyrimple stared—then walked up to the desk.
“Here's that data,” he said brusquely. “I can't wait any longer.”
Mr. Hesse's face expressed surprise.
It didn't matter what he did—just so he got out of this rut. In a
dream he stepped from the elevator into the stock-room, and walking to
an unused aisle, sat down on a box, covering his face with his hands.
His brain was whirring with the frightful jar of discovering a
platitude for himself.
“I've got to get out of this,” he said aloud and then repeated,
“I've got to get out”—and he didn't mean only out of Macy's
When he left at five-thirty it was pouring rain, but he struck off
in the opposite direction from his boarding-house, feeling, in the
first cool moisture that oozed soggily through his old suit, an odd
exultation and freshness. He wanted a world that was like walking
through rain, even though he could not see far ahead of him, but fate
had put him in the world of Mr. Macy's fetid storerooms and corridors.
At first merely the overwhelming need of change took him, then
half-plans began to formulate in his imagination.
“I'll go East—to a big city—meet people—bigger people—people
who'll help me. Interesting work somewhere. My God, there MUST be.”
With sickening truth it occurred to him that his facility for
meeting people was limited. Of all places it was here in his own town
that he should be known, was known—famous—before the water of
oblivion had rolled over him.
You had to cut corners, that was all. Pull—relationship—wealthy
For several miles the continued reiteration of this preoccupied
him and then he perceived that the rain had become thicker and more
opaque in the heavy gray of twilight and that the houses were falling
away. The district of full blocks, then of big houses, then of
scattering little ones, passed and great sweeps of misty country
opened out on both sides. It was hard walking here. The sidewalk had
given place to a dirt road, streaked with furious brown rivulets that
splashed and squashed around his shoes.
Cutting corners—the words began to fall apart, forming curious
phrasings—little illuminated pieces of themselves. They resolved
into sentences, each of which had a strangely familiar ring.
Cutting corners meant rejecting the old childhood principles that
success came from faithfulness to duty, that evil was necessarily
punished or virtue necessarily rewarded—that honest poverty was
happier than corrupt riches.
It meant being hard.
This phrase appealed to him and he repeated it over and over. It
had to do somehow with Mr. Macy and Charley Moore—the attitudes, the
methods of each of them.
He stopped and felt his clothes. He was drenched to the skin. He
looked about him and, selecting a place in the fence where a tree
sheltered it, perched himself there.
In my credulous years—he thought—they told me that evil was a
sort of dirty hue, just as definite as a soiled collar, but it seems
to me that evil is only a manner of hard luck, or
heredity-and-environment, or “being found out.” It hides in the
vacillations of dubs like Charley Moore as certainly as it does in
the intolerance of Macy, and if it ever gets much more tangible it
becomes merely an arbitrary label to paste on the unpleasant things in
other people's lives.
In fact—he concluded—it isn't worth worrying over what's evil
and what isn't. Good and evil aren't any standard to me—and they can
be a devil of a bad hindrance when I want something. When I want
something bad enough, common sense tells me to go and take it—and not
And then suddenly Dalyrimple knew what he wanted first. He wanted
fifteen dollars to pay his overdue board bill.
With a furious energy he jumped from the fence, whipped off his
coat, and from its black lining cut with his knife a piece about five
inches square. He made two holes near its edge and then fixed it on
his face, pulling his hat down to hold it in place. It flapped
grotesquely and then dampened and clung clung to his forehead and
Now . . . The twilight had merged to dripping dusk . . . black as
pitch. He began to walk quickly back toward town, not waiting to
remove the mask but watching the road with difficulty through the
jagged eye-holes. He was not conscious of any nervousness . . . the
only tension was caused by a desire to do the thing as soon as
He reached the first sidewalk, continued on until he saw a hedge
far from any lamp-post, and turned in behind it. Within a minute he
heard several series of footsteps—he waited—it was a woman and he
held his breath until she passed . . . and then a man, a laborer. The
next passer, he felt, would be what he wanted . . . the laborer's
footfalls died far up the drenched street . . . other steps grew nears
grew suddenly louder.
Dalyrimple braced himself.
“Put up your hands!”
The man stopped, uttered an absurd little grunt, and thrust pudgy
Dalyrimple went through the waistcoat.
“Now, you shrimp,” he said, setting his hand suggestively to his
own hip pocket, “you run, and stamp—loud! If I hear your feet stop
I'll put a shot after you!”
Then he stood there in sudden uncontrollable laughter as audibly
frightened footsteps scurried away into the night.
After a moment he thrust the roll of bills into his pocket,
snatched of his mask, and running quickly across the street, darted
down an alley.
Yet, however Dalyrimple justified himself intellectually, he had
many bad moments in the weeks immediately following his decision. The
tremendous pressure of sentiment and inherited ambition kept raising
riot with his attitude. He felt morally lonely.
The noon after his first venture he ate in a little lunch-room
with Charley Moore and, watching him unspread the paper, waited for a
remark about the hold-up of the day before. But either the hold-up was
not mentioned or Charley wasn't interested. He turned listlessly to
the sporting sheet, read Doctor Crane's crop of seasoned bromides,
took in an editorial on ambition with his mouth slightly ajar, and
then skipped to Mutt and Jeff.
Poor Charley—with his faint aura of evil and his mind that
refused to focus, playing a lifeless solitaire with cast-off
Yet Charley belonged on the other side of the fence. In him could
be stirred up all the flamings and denunciations of righteousness; he
would weep at a stage heroine's lost virtue, he could become lofty and
contemptuous at the idea of dishonor.
On my side, thought Dalyrimple, there aren't any resting-places; a
man who's a strong criminal is after the weak criminals as well, so
it's all guerilla warfare over here.
What will it all do to me? he thoughts with a persistent
weariness. Will it take the color out of life with the honor? Will it
scatter my courage and dull my mind?—despiritualize me
completely—does it mean eventual barrenness, eventual remorse,
With a great surge of anger, he would fling his mind upon the
barrier—and stand there with the flashing bayonet of his pride.
Other men who broke the laws of justice and charity lied to all the
world. He at any rate would not lie to himself. He was more than
Byronic now: not the spiritual rebel, Don Juan; not the philosophical
rebel, Faust; but a new psychological rebel of his own
century—defying the sentimental a priori forms of his own mind—-
Happiness was what he wanted—a slowly rising scale of
gratifications of the normal appetites—and he had a strong
conviction that the materials, if not the inspiration of happiness,
could be bought with money.
The night came that drew him out upon his second venture, and as
he walked the dark street he felt in himself a great resemblance to a
cat—a certain supple, swinging litheness. His muscles were rippling
smoothly and sleekly under his spare, healthy flesh—he had an absurd
desire to bound along the street, to run dodging among trees, to tarn
“cart-wheels” over soft grass.
It was not crisp, but in the air lay a faint suggestion of
acerbity, inspirational rather than chilling.
“The moon is down—I have not heard the clock!”
He laughed in delight at the line which an early memory had
endowed with a hushed awesome beauty.
He passed a man and then another a quarter of mile afterward.
He was on Philmore Street now and it was very dark. He blessed the
city council for not having put in new lamp-posts as a recent budget
had recommended. Here was the red-brick Sterner residence which marked
the beginning of the avenue; here was the Jordon house, the
Eisenhaurs', the Dents', the Markhams', the Frasers'; the Hawkins',
where he had been a guest; the Willoughbys', the Everett's, colonial
and ornate; the little cottage where lived the Watts old maids between
the imposing fronts of the Macys' and the Krupstadts'; the Craigs—
Ah . . . THERE! He paused, wavered violently—far up the street
was a blot, a man walking, possibly a policeman. After an eternal
second be found himself following the vague, ragged shadow of a
lamp-post across a lawn, running bent very low. Then he was standing
tense, without breath or need of it, in the shadow of his limestone
Interminably he listened—a mile off a cat howled, a hundred yards
away another took up the hymn in a demoniacal snarl, and he felt his
heart dip and swoop, acting as shock-absorber for his mind. There were
other sounds; the faintest fragment of song far away; strident,
gossiping laughter from a back porch diagonally across the alley; and
crickets, crickets singing in the patched, patterned, moonlit grass of
the yard. Within the house there seemed to lie an ominous silence. He
was glad he did not know who lived here.
His slight shiver hardened to steel; the steel softened and his
nerves became pliable as leather; gripping his hands he gratefully
found them supple, and taking out knife and pliers he went to work on
So sure was he that he was unobserved that, from the dining-room
where in a minute he found himself, he leaned out and carefully
pulled the screen up into position, balancing it so it would neither
fall by chance nor be a serious obstacle to a sudden exit.
Then he put the open knife in his coat pocket, took out his
pocket-flash, and tiptoed around the room.
There was nothing here he could use—the dining-room had never
been included in his plans for the town was too small to permit
disposing of silver.
As a matter of fact his plans were of the vaguest. He had found
that with a mind like his, lucrative in intelligence, intuition, and
lightning decision, it was best to have but the skeleton of a
campaign. The machine-gun episode had taught him that. And he was
afraid that a method preconceived would give him two points of view in
a crisis—and two points of view meant wavering.
He stumbled slightly on a chair, held his breath, listened, went
on, found the hall, found the stairs, started up; the seventh stair
creaked at his step, the ninth, the fourteenth. He was counting them
automatically. At the third creak he paused again for over a
minute—and in that minute he felt more alone than he had ever felt
before. Between the lines on patrol, even when alone, he had had
behind him the moral support of half a billion people; now he was
alone, pitted against that same moral pressure—a bandit. He had never
felt this fear, yet he had never felt this exultation.
The stairs came to an end, a doorway approached; he went in and
listened to regular breathing. His feet were economical of steps and
his body swayed sometimes at stretching as he felt over the bureau,
pocketing all articles which held promise—he could not have
enumerated them ten seconds afterward. He felt on a chair for possible
trousers, found soft garments, women's lingerie. The corners of his
mouth smiled mechanically.
Another room . . . the same breathing, enlivened by one ghastly
snort that sent his heart again on its tour of his breast. Round
object—watch; chain; roll of bills; stick-pins; two rings—he
remembered that he had got rings from the other bureau. He started
out winced as a faint glow flashed in front of him, facing him.
God!—it was the glow of his own wrist-watch on his outstretched arm.
Down the stairs. He skipped two crumbing steps but found another.
He was all right now, practically safe; as he neared the bottom he
felt a slight boredom. He reached the dining-room —considered the
silver—again decided against it.
Back in his room at the boarding-house he examined the additions
to his personal property:
Sixty-five dollars in bills.
A platinum ring with three medium diamonds, worth, probably, about
seven hundred dollars. Diamonds were going up.
A cheap gold-plated ring with the initials O. S. and the date
inside—'03—probably a class-ring from school. Worth a few dollars.
A red-cloth case containing a set of false teeth.
A silver watch.
A gold chain worth more than the watch.
An empty ring-box.
A little ivory Chinese god—probably a desk ornament.
A dollar and sixty-two cents an small change.
He put the money under his pillow and the other things in the toe
of an infantry boot, stuffing a stocking in on top of them. Then for
two hours his mind raced like a high-power engine here and there
through his life, past and future, through fear and laughter. With a
vague, inopportune wish that he were married, he fell into a deep
sleep about half past five.
Though the newspaper account of the burglary failed to mention the
false teeth, they worried him considerably. The picture of a human
waking in the cool dawn and groping for them in vain, of a soft,
toothless breakfast, of a strange, hollow, lisping voice calling the
police station, of weary, dispirited visits to the dentist, roused a
great fatherly pity in him.
Trying to ascertain whether they belonged to a man or a woman, he
took them carefully out of the case and held them up near his mouth.
He moved his own jaws experimentally; he measured with his fingers;
but he failed to decide: they might belong either to a large-mouthed
woman or a small-mouthed man.
On a warm impulse he wrapped them in brown paper from the bottom
of his army trunk, and printed FALSE TEETH on the package in clumsy
pencil letters. Then, the next night, he walked down Philmore Street,
and shied the package onto the lawn so that it would be near the door.
Next day the paper announced that the police had a clew—they knew
that the burglar was in town. However, they didn't mention what the
At the end of a month “Burglar Bill of the Silver District was the
nurse-girl's standby for frightening children. Five burglaries were
attributed to him, but though Dalyrimple had only committed three, he
considered that majority had it and appropriated the title to himself.
He had once been seen—“a large bloated creature with the meanest face
you ever laid eyes on.” Mrs. Henry Coleman, awaking at two o'clock at
the beam of an electric torch flashed in her eye, could not have been
expected to recognize Bryan Dalyrimple at whom she had waved flags
last Fourth of July, and whom she had described as “not at all the
daredevil type, do you think?”
When Dalyrimple kept his imagination at white heat he managed to
glorify his own attitude, his emancipation from petty scruples and
remorses—but let him once allow his thought to rove unarmored, great
unexpected horrors and depressions would overtake him. Then for
reassurance he had to go back to think out the whole thing over again.
He found that it was on the whole better to give up considering
himself as a rebel. It was more consoling to think of every one else
as a fool.
His attitude toward Mr. Macy underwent a change. He no longer felt
a dim animosity and inferiority in his presence. As his fourth month
in the store ended he found himself regarding his employer in a manner
that was almost fraternal. He had a vague but very assured conviction
that Mr. Macy's innermost soul would have abetted and approved. He no
longer worried about his future. He had the intention of accumulating
several thousand dollars and then clearing out—going east, back to
France, down to South America. Half a dozen times in the last two
months he had been about to stop work, but a fear of attracting
attention to his being in funds prevented him. So he worked on, no
longer in listlessness, but with contemptuous amusement.
Then with astounding suddenness something happened that changed
his plans and put an end to his burglaries.
Mr. Macy sent for him one afternoon and with a great show of
jovial mystery asked him if he had an engagement that night. If he
hadn't, would he please call on Mr. Alfred J. Fraser at eight o'clock.
Dalyrimple's wonder was mingled with uncertainty. He debated with
himself whether it were not his cue to take the first train out of
town. But an hour's consideration decided him that his fears were
unfounded and at eight o'clock he arrived at the big Fraser house in
Mr. Fraser was commonly supposed to be the biggest political
influence in the city. His brother was Senator Fraser, his son-
in-law was Congressman Demming, and his influence, though not wielded
in such a way as to make him an objectionable boss, was strong
He had a great, huge face, deep-set eyes, and a barn-door of an
upper lip, the melange approaching a worthy climax if a long
During his conversation with Dalyrimple his expression kept
starting toward a smile, reached a cheerful optimism, and then
receded back to imperturbability.
“How do you do, sir?” he laid, holding out his hand. “Sit down. I
suppose you're wondering why I wanted you. Sit down.”
Dalyrimple sat down.
“Mr. Dalyrimple, how old are you?”
“You're young. But that doesn't mean you're foolish. Mr.
Dalyrimple, what I've got to say won't take long. I'm going to make
you a proposition. To begin at the beginning, I've been watching you
ever since last Fourth of July when you made that speech in response
to the loving-cup.”
Dalyrimple murmured disparagingly, but Fraser waved him to
“It was a speech I've remembered. It was a brainy speech, straight
from the shoulder, and it got to everybody in that crowd. I know. I've
watched crowds for years.” He cleared his throat as if tempted to
digress on his knowledge of crowds—then continued. “But, Mr.
Dalyrimple, I've seen too many young men who promised brilliantly go
to pieces, fail through want of steadiness, too many high-power ideas,
and not enough willingness to work. So I waited. I wanted to see what
you'd do. I wanted to see if you'd go to work, and if you'd stick to
what you started.”
Dalyrimple felt a glow settle over him.
“So,” continued Fraser, “when Theron Macy told me you'd started
down at his place, I kept watching you, and I followed your record
through him. The first month I was afraid for awhile. He told me you
were getting restless, too good for your job, hinting around for a
“—-But he said after that you evidently made up your mind to shut
up and stick to it. That's the stuff I like in a young man! That's the
stuff that wins out. And don't think I don't understand. I know how
much harder it was for you after all that silly flattery a lot of old
women had been giving you. I know what a fight it must have been—-”
Dalyrimple's face was burning brightly. It felt young and
“Dalyrimple, you've got brains and you've got the stuff in you—
and that's what I want. I'm going to put you into the State Senate.”
“The State Senate. We want a young man who has got brains, but is
solid and not a loafer. And when I say State Senate I don't stop
there. We're up against it here, Dalyrimple. We've got to get some
young men into politics—you know the old blood that's been running on
the party ticket year in and year out.”
Dalyrimple licked his lips.
“You'll run me for the State Senate?”
“I'll PUT you in the State Senate.”
Mr. Fraser's expression had now reached the point nearest a smile
and Dalyrimple in a happy frivolity felt himself urging it mentally
on—but it stopped, locked, and slid from him. The barn-door and the
jaw were separated by a line strait as a nail. Dalyrimple remembered
with an effort that it was a mouth, and talked to it.
“But I'm through,” he said. “My notoriety's dead. People are fed
up with me.”
“Those things,” answered Mr. Fraser, “are mechanical. Linotype is
a resuscitator of reputations. Wait till you see the HERALD,
beginning next week—that is if you're with us—that is,” and his
voice hardened slightly, “if you haven't got too many ideas yourself
about how things ought to be run.”
“No,” said Dalyrimple, looking him frankly in the eye. “You'll
have to give me a lot of advice at first.”
“Very well. I'll take care of your reputation then. Just keep
yourself on the right side of the fence.”
Dalyrimple started at this repetition of a phrase he had thought
of so much lately. There was a sudden ring at the door-bell.
“That's Macy now,” observed Fraser, rising. “I'll go let him in.
The servants have gone to bed.”
He left Dalyrimple there in a dream. The world was opening up
suddenly—-The State Senate, the United States Senate—so life was
this after all—cutting corners—common sense, that was the rule. No
more foolish risks now unless necessity called—but it was being hard
that counted—Never to let remorse or self- reproach lose him a
night's sleep—let his life be a sword of courage—there was no
payment—all that was drivel—drivel.
He sprang to his feet with clinched hands in a sort of triumph.
“Well, Bryan,” said Mr. Macy stepping through the portières.
The two older men smiled their half-smiles at him.
“Well Bryan,” said Mr. Macy again.
Dalyrimple smiled also.
“How do, Mr. Macy?”
He wondered if some telepathy between them had made this new
appreciation possible—some invisible realization. . . .
Mr. Macy held out his hand.
“I'm glad we're to be associated in this scheme—I've been for you
all along—especially lately. I'm glad we're to be on the same side of
“I want to thank you, sir,” said Dalyrimple simply. He felt a
whimsical moisture gathering back of his eyes.