Mr. Downey Sits
Down by L. H.
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
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
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
“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
“If I cross out his name, or give him a nom de plume?”
On that condition Miss Lance consented.
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
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
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.
BY WILLIE DOWNEY
Morel Prinsaples is when you have a nerve to stick up for some
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
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.
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
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.
I regret to discover that you lack moral principles.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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,
“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
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:
“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
“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?”
“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
“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
“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
“Enough said,” Mr. Wilbram exclaimed, rising. “Good day to you. I
don't need your help, anyway. I'll find out from the butcher.”
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
“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
“I am more sorry than I can say. May I hope to be forgiven some
“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.
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
“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?”
“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.”