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Mr. Downey Sits Down by L. H. Robbins

From Everybody's

I

Jacob Downey waited in line at the meat shop. A footsore little man was he. All day long, six days a week for twenty-two years, he had stood on his feet, trotted on them, climbed on them, in the hardware department of Wilbram, Prescot &Co., and still they would not toughen; still they would hurt; still to sustain his spirit after three o'clock he had to invoke a vision of slippers, a warm radiator, the Evening Bee, and the sympathy of Mrs. Downey and the youngsters. To the picture this evening he had added pork chops.

The woman next in line ahead of him named her meat. Said the butcher, with a side glance at the clock, “A crown roast takes quite a while, lady. Could I send it in the morning?”

No, the lady wished to see it prepared. Expressly for that purpose had she come out in the rain. To-morrow she gave a luncheon.

“First come first served,” thought Jacob Downey, and bode his time in patience, feeling less pity for his aching feet than for Butcher Myers. Where was the charity in asking a hurried man at five minutes to six o'clock to frill up a roast that would not see the inside of the oven before noon next day?

Now, crown roasts are one thing to him who waits on fallen arches, and telephone calls are another. Scarcely had Downey's opening come to speak for pork chops cut medium when off went the bell and off rushed Butcher Myers.

Sharply he warned the unknown that this was Myers's Meat Shop. Blandly he smiled into the transmitter upon learning that his caller was Mrs. A. Lincoln Wilbram.

By the audience in front of the counter the following social intelligence was presently inferred:

That Mr. and Mrs. Wilbram had just returned from Florida; that they had enjoyed themselves ever so much; that they hoped Mr. Myers's little girl was better; that they were taking their meals at the Clarendon pending the mobilization of their house-servants; that they expected to dine with the Mortimer Trevelyans this evening; that food for the dog may with propriety be brought home from a hotel, but not from the Mortimer Trevelyans; that there was utterly nothing in the icebox for poor Mudge's supper; that Mudge was a chow dog purchased by a friend of Mr. Wilbram's in Hongkong at so much a pound, just as Mr. Myers purchased live fowls; that Mudge now existed not to become chow, but to consume chow, and would feel grateful in his dog heart if Mr. Myers would, at this admittedly late hour, send him two pounds of bologna and a good bone; and that Mrs. Wilbram would consider herself under deep and lasting obligation to Mr. Myers for this act of kindness.

Mr. Myers assured Mrs. Wilbram that it would mean no trouble at all; he would send up the order as soon as his boy came back from delivering a beefsteak to the Mortimer Trevelyans.

He filled out a slip and stuck it on the hook.

“Now, Mr. Downey,” he said briskly.

But Jacob Downey gave him one tremendous look and limped out of the shop.

II

It was evening in the home of Miss Angelina Lance. Twenty-seven hours had passed since Jacob Downey's exasperated exit from Myers's Meat Shop. The eyes of Miss Angelina were bright behind her not-unbecoming spectacles as she watched the face of the solemn young man in the Morris chair near the reading lamp.

In his hand the solemn young man held three sheets of school composition paper. As he read the pencil writing on page one he lost his gravity. Over page two he smiled broadly. At the end of the last page he said:

“D.K.T. couldn't have done better. May I show it to him?”

In the office of the Ashland (N.J.) Bee the solemn young man was known as Mr. Sloan. At Miss Lance's he was Sam. The mentioned D.K.T. conducted the celebrated “Bee-Stings” column on the editorial page of Mr. Sloan's journal, his levity being offset by the sobriety of Mr. Sloan, who was assistant city-editor.

On two evenings a week Mr. Sloan fled the cares of the Fourth Estate and became Sam in the soul-refreshing presence of Miss Angelina. He was by no means her only male admirer. In the Sixth Grade at the Hilldale Public School she had thirty others; among these Willie Downey, whose name appeared on every page of the composition Mr. Sloan had read.

With a host of other sixth-graders throughout the city Willie had striven that day for a prize of ten dollars in gold offered by the public-spirited A. Lincoln Wilbram, of Wilbram, Prescott &Co., for the best schoolboy essay on Moral Principles.

“Moral principles, gentlemen; that is what we need in Ashland. How many men do you know who stand up for their convictions—or have any to stand up for?”

If the head of a department store is a bit thunderous at times, think what a Jovian position he occupies. In his cloud-girt, mahogany-panelled throne-room on the eighth floor he rules over a thousand mortals, down to the little Jacob Downeys in the basement, who, if they do not quite weep with delight when he gives them a smile, tremble, at least, at his frown. When a large body of popular opinion accords him greatness, were he not undemocratic to affect humility and speak small?

“I speak of common men,” said Mr. Wilbram (this was at a Chamber of Commerce banquet); “of men whose living depends upon the pleasure of their superiors. How few there are with fearless eye!”

He scarcely heard the laughter from a group of building contractors at a side table, who had not seen a servile eye among their workmen in many moons; for a worthy project had popped into his mind at that instant. How was the moral backbone of our yeomanry to be stiffened save through education? Why not a prize contest to stimulate the interest of the rising generation in this obsolete subject?

In many an Ashland home where bicycles, roller-skates, wireless outfits, and other such extravagances were strongly desired, the question had since been asked: “Pa, what are Moral Principles?” While some of the resulting essays indicated a haziness in paternal minds, not so the production that Mr. Sloan read in Miss Lance's parlour.

“But I couldn't let you print it,” said Miss Angelina. “I wouldn't have Willie shamed for anything. He may be weak in grammar, but he is captain of every athletic team in the school. He has told me in confidence that he means to spend the prize money for a genuine horse-hide catching-mitt.”

“If I cross out his name, or give him a nom de plume?”

On that condition Miss Lance consented.

III

At the office next morning Sloan found the essay in his pocket and looked around the city-room for D.K.T. The staff poet-clown was no daylight saver; professing to burn the midnight oil in the interest of his employer, he seldom drifted in before half-past nine.

“See me. S.S.” wrote Sloan, and dropped Willie's manuscript on D.K.T.'s desk.

Then he jumped and gasped, and copy-readers and office-boys jumped and gasped, and the religious editor dashed frantically for the stairs, outrunning the entire staff down the hall, though he had farther to go than any other man or woman there. A huge, heart-stopping shock had rocked the building, set the windows to clattering and the lights to swinging, and brought down in a cloud the accumulated dust of a quarter-century.

Within two minutes by the clock Sloan and five reporters had started for the scene of the Rutland disaster, fifteen miles away, where enough giant powder had gone up in one terrific blast to raze Gibraltar. A thriving town lay in ruins; hundreds of families were homeless; a steamship was sunk at her dock; a passenger train blown from the rails.

At eleven o'clock on the night following that pitiful day Sloan journeyed homeward to Ashland in an inter-urban trolley-car in company with a crowd of refugees. A copy of the last edition of the Bee comforted his weary soul.

The first page was a triumph. Count on the office to back up its men in the field! There was the whole story, the whole horror and heartbreak, finely displayed. There were his photographs of the wreckage; there, in a “box” was his interview with the superintendent of the Rutland Company; there was a map of the devastated area. Perhaps someone had found time even to do an editorial; in that case the clean-up would be complete.

Opening the paper to the sixth page, he groaned; for the first thing that caught his eye was Willie Downey's essay, at the top of D.K.T.'s column, with Willie's name below the headline.

MOREL PRINSAPLES

BY WILLIE DOWNEY

AGE 12

Morel Prinsaples is when you have a nerve to stick up for some thing.

Like last night my Father went in Mires meet shop &stood in line 15 or twenty min. wateing his tirn &when his tirn come he says to mr. Mires Ile have 6 porc chops.

at that inst. the telaphone wrang &mr. Mires slidd for it like it was 2nd base.

Hold on Mires says Pa, who got here 1st, me or that bell wringer. Igscuse me just 1 min. says Mr. mires.

No I be ding if Ile igscuse you says Pa, 1st come 1st served is the rool of bizness all over.

But Mr. mires wyped his hands on his apern &ansered the wring &it was mrs. Will Brum, she was going to eat out at a frends so she wanted 2 lbs, bolony &a dog bone.

So then Pa give him hale columbus.

Here I bin wateing 1/2 an our he said, yet when some lazy lofer of a woman who has been reading a novvle or a sleep all after noon pfhones you to rush her up some dog meet in youre Autto with gass 36 cts. & charge it to her acct. &may be you wont get youre munny for three 4 munths, wy you run to wate on her while I stand &shovle my feet in youre saw dust like a ding mexican pea own or some thing.

What says Pa is there about a cusstamer who takes the trubble to come for his meet &pay cash for it &deliwers it him self that maiks him so Meen &Lo that he hass to be pushed one side for some body that has not got Gumpshun enoughf to order her dog bones before the rush our?

Do you think that people with a telapfhone's munny is any better than mine, do you think because I walk in here on my hine leggs that I am a piker &a cheep skait, becuase if so I will bring along my telapfhone contract nex time &show you &then may be you will reckonnize me as a free born amerrican who dont haff to traid where I haff to play 2d fiddle to a chow pupp. Its agenst my morel prinsaples says Pa.

With theas wirds he walks out in the rane althogh his feet hurt him clear down to Washington St. to the nex meet store, but by that time they were all cloased up so we had prinsaples for supper insted of porc chops.

Pa says if he run a store &had a pfhone &no body to anser it &do nothing else he would ring it's neck, becuase while the telaphone is the gratest blesing of the aige, but a pfhone with out an opperater is like a ham ommalet with the ham let out. He says the reazon the Chane Stores have such a pull with the public is becuase the man behine the counter is not all the time jilting you in the middle of your order & chacing off to be sweet to some sosciety dame with a dog 4 miles away.

Ma says she dont kno why we have a pfhone any how becuase every time she is youseing it a woman buts in &jiggles the hook &says will you pleas hang up so I can call a Dr. &when Ma hangs up &then lissens in to see who is sick, wy this woman calls up a lady f rend &they nock Ma back &4th over the wyre for ours &some times they say I bet she is lisening in on us dont you.

So as I say let us all stick up for our Morel Prinsaples like my Father come what may.

IV

Bright were Miss Angelina's eyes but not with mirth. It was unspeakable, this thing that Mr. Sloan had done. Thrice before bedtime she called his lodgings. Mr. Sloan was not in.

Before the last call, she donned her wraps and went out to Plume Street. Courageously she pulled the bell at Number Nine. Willie's mother opened the door and cried, surprised, “Why! Miss Lance.”

“Is Willie here? Have you seen the paper? Will you let me tell him how it happened, and how sorry I am?”

Willie was not receiving callers this evening. He had been sent to bed without supper. The explosion at Rutland had been as nothing, it seemed, to the outburst in the Downey home.

Slowly the extent of the harm dawned upon Miss Angelina.

“It was Mrs. A. Lincoln Wilbram wanted the dog bone,” said Mrs. Downey tearfully. “Everybody will recognize her; and what Mr. Wilbram will do to us we don't need to be told. Poor Jake is so upset he has gone out to roam in the dark. He couldn't stay in the house.”

New jobs were scarce for men at his time of life, and with his feet. Dora and Jennie might have to leave high school.

“I'm sure you meant us no wrong, Miss Lance; I'm sure there was a mistake. But think how dreadful it is, after twenty-two years of having Mr. Wilbram's pay, then to turn around and backbite his wife like that, right out in print!”

Doubly troubled now, Miss Lance departed. Attracted by a quick gathering of loiterers in the avenue, she witnessed a controversy that might easily have become a police matter.

“You're a liar if you say you said all that to me!” shouted the burly Butcher Myers. “You never opened your head, you shrimp! Bawling me out in the papers and losing me my best customers! Whaddye mean?”

Back came the retort from Jacob Downey with the snarl of a little creature at bay.

“If I didn't say it to you then, you big lobster, I say it to you now. All that the paper says I said I say. What'll you do about it?”

“Hah! You!” Myers snapped his fingers in Downey's fiery face and turned away.

Miss Lance's path to the Hilldale School next morning took her past three post-boxes. Into the third she dropped a note that she had carried from home. Mr. Sloan would find her message exceedingly brief, although (or, perhaps, because) she had spent hours in composing it.

DEAR SIR:

I regret to discover that you lack moral principles.

                     ANGELINA LANCE.

Just before the last bell the janitor brought in a prisoner for her custody. Willie Downey's head was bloody but unbowed; three seventh-graders he had vanquished in one round. “They guyed me,” said he. “They called me a Nawthour.”

Morning prayer and song waited while teacher and pupil spoke earnestly of many things; while the teacher's eyes filled with tears, and the pupil's heart filled with high resolve to bring home the baseball championship of the Ashland Public School League and lay it at Miss Angelina's feet, or perish in the attempt.

V

The A. Lincoln Wilbram prize went to a small boy named Aaron Levinsky whose English was 99 per cent. pure. Little Aaron's essay was printed as the centre-piece in Wilbram, Prescott &Co.'s page in the Bee; little Aaron invested his gold in thrift-stamps, and the tumult and the shouting died.

Miss Angelina Lance sat alone every evening of the week. True, Mr. Sloan had tried to right the wrong; he had called Miss Angelina on the telephone, which he should have known was an inadequate thing to do; he had also sent a ten-dollar bank-note to Willie, in care of Miss Lance at the Hilldale School, together with his warm felicitations upon Willie's success as a litterateur. Did Willie know that his fine first effort had been reprinted, with proper credit, in the great New York Planet?

True, too, the illustrious D.K.T. had written Miss Angelina an abject apology, most witty and poetic, taking all the blame to himself and more than exonerating his high-principled friend Mr. Sloan.

But the bank-note went back to its donor without even a rejection slip; and D.K.T.'s humour was fatal to his client's cause. Ghastly are they who jest in the shadow of tragedy. Mr. Sloan and D.K.T. did not know, of course—Miss Angelina had not thought it of any use to tell them—of the sword which they had hung up by a thread above the heads of the Downeys.

As for Jacob Downey, he limped about amid his hardware in the basement at Wilbram, Prescott &Co.s, careworn, haunted of eye, expecting the house to crash about his ears at any moment. One does not with impunity publish the wife of one's employer as a lazy loafer.

The A. Lincoln Wilbrams had servants again, and dined at home. To Mr. Wilbram said Mrs. Wilbram one evening:

“It is the strangest thing. In the last month I've met scarcely a soul who hasn't asked me silly questions about Mudge and his diet. Mrs. Trevelyan and everybody. And they always look so queer.”

Mr. Wilbram was reminded that while coming home that evening with a package in his hand he had met Trevelyan, and Trevelyan had inquired: “What's that? A bone for the dog?”

“To-morrow,” said A. Lincoln, “I'll ask him what he was driving at.”

“What was the package?” queried his wife.

He fetched it from the hall. It had come to him at the store that day by registered mail.

“From Hildegarde,” said Mrs. Wilbram, noting the Los Angeles postmark. Hildegarde was honeymooning among the orange groves. Wrote the happy bride:

Dear Aunt and Uncle:

Charles and I see by the paper that Mudge is hungry, so we are sending him a little present.

“What can the child mean, Abe?”

“Don't ask me,” he answered. “Undo the present and see.”

They loosened blue ribbons and wrappings of soft paper, and disclosed a link of bologna sausage.

Maddening? It might have been, if Hildegarde had not thought to inclose a page from the Daily Southern Californian, upon which, ringed with pencil marks, was a bit of miscellany headed, “Morel Prinsaples.”

They read it through to the conclusion:

So as I say let us all stick up for our Morel Prinsaples like my Father come what may.—Willie Downey in Ashland (N.J.) Bee.

“Why!—why!—it's—it's me!” cried Mrs. Wilbram. “I did telephone to Mr. Myers for two pounds of bologna and a dog bone—on the night we dined at the Trevelyans'!”

“It comes mighty close to libel,” fumed Wilbram.

“How do they dare! You must see Worthington Oakes about this, Abe.”

“I certainly will,” he vowed.

VI

He certainly did, as Mr. Worthington Oakes, the publisher of the Bee, will testify. In the front office on the editorial floor he saw Mr. Oakes for a bad half-hour, and demanded a public retraction of the insult.

At about the same time a dapper stranger who had come up in the elevator with Mr. Wilbram held speech with Assistant City-Editor Sloan in the local room at the other end of the hall.

“Yonder's your bird,” said Mr. Sloan, pointing to a poetic-looking young man at a desk in a corner.

Crossing to the poet, who was absorbed in his day' poesy and talking to himself as he versified, the stranger smiled and spoke.

“Am I addressing the celebrated D.K.T.?”

“Am, cam, dam, damn, ham, jam, lamb——”

The far-away look of genius faded out of the poet's eyes.

“Not buying,” said he. “My pay-envelope is mortgaged to you book-agents for ten years to come. Ma'am, ram, Sam, cram, clam, gram, slam——”

“Books are not my line,” said the dapper one briskly. “I represent the Jones-Nonpareil Newspaper Syndicate. In fact, I am Jones. I have a proposition to make to you, Mr. D.K.T., that may enable you to buy more books than you can ever read. You know, of course, what the Jones-Nonpareil service is. We reach the leading dailies of the United States and Canada——”

“Have a chair, Mr. Jones.”

“Thank you. We handle some very successful writers. Malcomb Hardy, you may have heard, takes his little five hundred a week out of us; and poor Larry Bonner pulled down eleven hundred as long as he had health. His Chinese-laundryman sketches might be selling yet.”

“Suspense is cruel,” spoke D.K.T. eagerly. “Let the glad news come.”

“Some time ago,” said the syndicate man, “you printed in your column an essay in imitation of a schoolboy's. You called it 'Moral Principles'.”

D.K.T. sank back with a low moan.

“If you can write six of those a week for a year,” continued the visitor, “you won't ever need to slave any more. You can burn your pen and devote the rest of your life to golf and good works.”

The poet closed his eyes. “Sham, swam, diagram,” he murmured.

“Does a minimum guarantee of fifteen thousand a year look like anything to you? There will, of course, be the book rights and the movie rights in addition.”

“Anagram, epigram, telegram, flimflam—aha!” cried D.K.T. “Siam!” He wrote it down.

“That little skit of yours,” pursued the caller, “has swept the country. You have created a nation-wide demand. My ringer is on the journalistic pulse, and I know. Can you repeat?”

He drew a paper from his pocketbook.

“Here is a list of subjects your imaginary Willie Downey might start with: The Monetary System; the Cost of Living; the League of Nations; Capital and Labour——”

Over the stranger's head an office-boy whispered significantly: “Front office.”

“Excuse me,” said the poet, and hurried away.

With the publisher, in the front office, sat A. Lincoln Wilbram, quite purple in the cheeks. They had a file of the Bee before them.

“Diedrick,” said Mr. Oakes, “on March eighteenth you printed this thing”—his finger on Willie's essay—“why did you do it?”

“What's the matter with it?” replied D.K.T.

“The matter with it,” spoke Mr. Wilbram terribly, “is that it slanders my wife. It makes her out to eat dog bones. Friends of ours as far away as California have seen it and recognized her portrait, drawn by your scurrilous pen. The worst of it is, the slander is founded on fact. By what right do you air my domestic affairs before the public in this outrageous fashion?”

With agonized eyes the funny-man read the essay as far as the fateful line, “It was Mrs. Will Brum.”

“My gosh!” he cried.

“How did you come to write such a thing?” Mr. Oakes demanded.

“Me write that thing? If I only had!”

The facts were recalled; the sending of Mr. Sloan and many reporters to Rutland; the need of extra hands at the copy-table that day.

“I found this contribution on my desk. It looked safe. In the rush of the morning I sent it up and never gave it another thought.”

“So it is really a boy's essay, and not some of your own fooling?” asked Oakes.

“A boy's essay, yes; entered in Mr. Wilbram's prize contest, eliminated by the boy's teacher and shown by her to Mr. Sloan, who brought it to the shop. I know now that Sloan meant me to change the author's name to save the kid from ridicule. If there were actual persons in it, I'm as amazed as Mrs. Wilbram.”

“I wonder, Oakes,” said Wilbram, “that a dignified newspaper like yours would print such trash, in the first place.”

Worthington Oakes looked down his nose. D.K.T. took up the challenge.

“Trash, sir? If it's trash, why has the Ashland Telephone asked permission to reprint it on the front cover of their next directory?”

“Have they asked that?”

“They have; they say they will put a little moral principle into the telephone hogs in this town. And didn't a Fifth Avenue minister preach a sermon on it last Sunday? Doesn't the Literary Review give it half a page this week? Hasn't it been scissored by almost every exchange editor in the land? Isn't there a man in the city-room now offering me fifteen thousand a year to write a daily screed like it?”

“You can see, Wilbram,” said Mr. Oakes, “that there was no intention to injure or annoy. We are very sorry; but how can we print an apology to Mrs. Wilbram without making the matter worse?”

“Who is this Willie Downey?” demanded Wilbram. “And who is the school teacher?”

“I don't believe my moral principles will let me tell you,” replied D.K.T. “I'm positive Mr. Sloan's won't let him. We received the essay in confidence.”

“Enough said,” Mr. Wilbram exclaimed, rising. “Good day to you. I don't need your help, anyway. I'll find out from the butcher.”

VII

It seemed necessary that Mr. Sloan should call at the Lance home that evening. Whatever Miss Angelina might think of him, it was his duty to take counsel with her for the welfare of Willie.

He began with the least important of the grave matters upon his mind.

“Do you suppose your protege could write some essays like the one we printed?”

“Why, Mr. Sloan?”

If Miss Angelina had responded, “Why, you hyena?” she would not have cut him more deeply than with her simple, “Why, Mr. Sloan?”

“A newspaper syndicate,” he explained, “has offered D.K.T. a fortune for a series of them.”

“Poor Willie!” she sighed. “He flunked his English exam, to-day. I'm afraid I shall have him another year.”

“He is a lucky boy,” said Sloan.

“Do you think so?”

Clearly her meaning was, “Do you think he is lucky when a powerful newspaper goes out of its way to crush him?”

“There is no use approaching him with a literary contract?”

“Not with the baseball season just opening. His team beat the Watersides yesterday, sixteen nothing. He has more important business on hand than writing for newspapers.”

Since Sloan wrote for a newspaper, this was rather a dig. Nevertheless, he persevered.

“A. Lincoln Wilbram is on his trail. Do you know that Willie libelled Mrs. Wilbram?”

“Oh! Sam. Surely I know about the libel. But is—is Mr. Wilbram really——Has he discovered?”

“He came to the office to-day. We gave him no information; but he has other sources. He is bound to identify his enemy before he quits.”

“I didn't know about the so-called slander at first,” said she, “when I—when you——”

“When I promised to change Willie's name?”

“I found out when I went to them, on the night it came out in the paper. They were woefully frightened. They are frightened still. Mr. Downey has worked for Mr. Wilbram since he was a boy. They think of Mr. Wilbram almost as a god. It's—it's a tragedy, Sam, to them.”

“Would it do any good to warn them?”

“They need no warning,” said Miss Angelina. “Don't add to their terrors.”

“I am more sorry than I can say. May I hope to be forgiven some day?”

“There's nothing to forgive, Sam. It was an accident. But don't you see what a dangerous weapon a newspaper is?'

“Worse than a car or a gun,” he agreed.

As he strolled homeward along a stately avenue, wondering what he could do to avert the retribution that moved toward the Downeys, and finding that his assistant city-editor's resourcefulness availed him naught, he heard the scamper of feet behind him and whirled about with cane upraised in time to bring a snarling chow dog to a stand.

“Beat it, you brute!” he growled.

“Yeowp!” responded the chow dog, and leaped in air.

“Don't be alarmed,” spoke a voice out of the gloom of the nearest lawn. “When he sees a man with a stick, he wants to play.”

Sloan peered at the speaker's face. “Isn't this Mr. Wilbram? You were at the Bee office to-day, sir. May I have a word with you about the Willie Downey matter?”

“Come in,” said Mr. Wilbram.

VIII

On the first pay-day in May the impending sword cut its thread. Said a messenger to Jacob Downey: “They want you on the eighth floor.” Downey set his jaws and followed.

In the mahogany-panelled room A. Lincoln Wilbram turned from the window and transfixed his servitor with eyes that bored like steel bits.

“Downey, I understand you have a literary son.”

Jacob held his breath, eyed his accuser steadily, and assured himself that it would soon be over now.

“How about it, Downey?”

“I know what you mean, sir.”

“Did you say the things printed there?”

The little man wasted no time in examining the newspaper clipping.

“Yes, sir, I did. If it has come to your lady's ears what I called her, I beg her pardon. But what I said I'll stick to. If I stand fifteen minutes in line in a meat store or any other kind of store, I've got a right to be waited on ahead of anybody that rings up, I don't give a ding who she is.”

“Good for you, Downey. Let me see, how long have you worked for us?”

“Twenty-three years next January, sir.”

“Floor salesman all the while?”

“Since 1900. Before that I was a wrapper.”

“How many men have been promoted over your head?”

“Three.”

“Four,” Wilbram corrected. “First was Miggins.”

“I don't count him, sir. Him and I started together.”

“Miggins was a failure. Then Farisell; now in prison. Next, McCardy; he ran off to Simonds &Co. the minute they crooked a finger at him. Last, young Prescott, who is now to come up here with his father. Could you run the department if you had it?”

“Between you and I,” replied Jacob Downey, sick, dizzy, trembling, “I been running the department these fifteen years.”

“How'd you like to run it from now as manager? When I find a man with convictions and courage I advance him. The man who stands up is the man to sit down. That's evolution. If you could stand up to a big butcher like Myers and talk Dutch to him the way you did, I guess we need you at a desk. What do you say?”

A desk! A chance to rest his feet! Jacob Downey stiffened.

“Mr. Wilbram, I—I got to tell the truth. I never said those things to Myers. I just walked out.”

“But you said them. You acknowledge it.”

“I said 'em, yes—after I got home. To the family I said 'em. When I was in the meat shop I only thought 'em.”

“So Myers has told me,” said Jove, smiling. “Downey, my man, you've got more than moral courage. You've got common sense to go with it. Tell young Prescott to give you his keys.”