Part 3 out of 7
jewelry in their old-fashioned setting. To Theodore was
left the sum of fifteen hundred dollars. He had received
his share in the years of his musical education.
Fanny Brandeis did not go to Chicago that January. She took
inventory of Brandeis' Bazaar, carefully and minutely. And
then, just as carefully and minutely she took stock of Fanny
Brandeis. There was something relentless and terrible in
the way she went about this self-analysis. She walked a
great deal that winter, often out through the drifts to the
little cemetery. As she walked her mind was working,
working. She held long mental conversations with herself
during these walks, and once she was rather frightened to
find herself talking aloud. She wondered if she had done
that before. And a plan was maturing in her brain, while
the fight went on within herself, thus:
"You'll never do it, Fanny. You're not built that way."
"Oh, won't I! Watch me! Give me time."
"You'll think of what your mother would have done under the
same conditions, and you'll do that thing."
"I won't. Not unless it's the long-headed thing to do. I'm
through being sentimental and unselfish. What did it bring
The weeks went by. Fanny worked hard in the store, and
bought little. February came, and with the spring her
months of private thinking bore fruit. There came to Fanny
Brandeis a great resolve. She would put herself in a high
place. Every talent she possessed, every advantage, every
scrap of knowledge, every bit of experience, would be used
toward that end. She would make something of herself. It
was a worldly, selfish resolve, born of a bitter sorrow, and
ambition, and resentment. She made up her mind that she
would admit no handicaps. Race, religion, training, natural
impulses--she would discard them all if they stood in her
way. She would leave Winnebago behind. At best, if she
stayed there, she could never accomplish more than to make
her business a more than ordinarily successful small-town
store. And she would be--nobody. No, she had had enough of
that. She would crush and destroy the little girl who had
fasted on that Day of Atonement; the more mature girl who
had written the thesis about the paper mill rag-room; the
young woman who had drudged in the store on Elm Street. In
her place she would mold a hard, keen-eyed, resolute woman,
whose godhead was to be success, and to whom success would
mean money and position. She had not a head for
mathematics, but out of the puzzling problems and syllogisms
in geometry she had retained in her memory this one
A straight line is the shortest distance between two points.
With her mental eye she marked her two points, and then,
starting from the first, made directly for the second. But
she forgot to reckon with the law of tangents. She forgot,
too, how paradoxical a creature was this Fanny Brandeis
whose eyes filled with tears at sight of a parade--just the
sheer drama of it--were the marchers G. A. R. veterans,
school children in white, soldiers, Foresters, political
marching clubs; and whose eyes burned dry and bright as she
stood over the white mound in the cemetery on the state
road. Generous, spontaneous, impulsive, warm-hearted,
she would be cold, calculating, deliberate, she told
Thousands of years of persecution behind her made her quick
to appreciate suffering in others, and gave her an innate
sense of fellowship with the downtrodden. She resolved to
use that sense as a searchlight aiding her to see and
overcome obstacles. She told herself that she was done with
maudlin sentimentality. On the rare occasions when she had
accompanied her mother to Chicago, the two women had found
delight in wandering about the city's foreign quarters.
When other small-town women buyers snatched occasional
moments of leisure for the theater or personal shopping,
these two had spent hours in the ghetto around Jefferson and
Taylor, and Fourteenth Streets. Something in the sight of
these people--alien, hopeful, emotional, often grotesque--
thrilled and interested both the women. And at sight of an
ill-clad Italian, with his slovenly, wrinkled old-young
wife, turning the handle of his grind organ whilst both
pairs of eyes searched windows and porches and doorsteps
with a hopeless sort of hopefulness, she lost her head
entirely and emptied her limp pocketbook of dimes, and
nickels, and pennies. Incidentally it might be stated that
she loved the cheap and florid music of the hand organ
It was rumored that Brandeis' Bazaar was for sale. In the
spring Gerretson's offered Fanny the position of buyer and
head of the china, glassware, and kitchenware sections.
Gerretson's showed an imposing block of gleaming plate-glass
front now, and drew custom from a dozen thrifty little towns
throughout the Fox River Valley. Fanny refused the offer.
In March she sold outright the stock, good-will, and
fixtures of Brandeis' Bazaar. The purchaser was a thrifty,
farsighted traveling man who had wearied of the road
and wanted to settle down. She sold the household
goods too--those intimate, personal pieces of wood and cloth
that had become, somehow, part of her life. She had grown
up with them. She knew the history of every nick, every
scratch and worn spot. Her mother lived again in every
piece. The old couch went off in a farmer's wagon. Fanny
turned away when they joggled it down the front steps and
into the rude vehicle. It was like another funeral. She
was furious to find herself weeping again. She promised
herself punishment for that.
Up in her bedroom she opened the bottom drawer of her
bureau. That bureau and its history and the history of
every piece of furniture in the room bore mute testimony to
the character of its occupant; to her protest against things
as she found them, and her determination to make them over
to suit her. She had spent innumerable Sunday mornings
wielding the magic paint brush that had transformed the
bedroom from dingy oak to gleaming cream enamel. She sat
down on the floor now, before the bureau, and opened the
In a corner at the back, under the neat pile of garments,
was a tightly-rolled bundle of cloth. Fanny reached for it,
took it out, and held it in her hands a moment. Then she
unrolled it slowly, and the bundle revealed itself to be a
faded, stained, voluminous gingham apron, blue and white.
It was the kind of apron women don when they perform some
very special household ritual--baking, preserving, house
cleaning. It crossed over the shoulders with straps, and
its generous fullness ran all the way around the waist. It
was discolored in many places with the brown and reddish
stains of fruit juices. It had been Molly Brandeis' canning
apron. Fanny had come upon it hanging on a hook behind the
kitchen door, after that week in December. And at sight of
it all her fortitude and forced calm had fled. She had
spread her arms over the limp, mute, yet speaking thing
dangling there, and had wept so wildly and uncontrollably as
to alarm even herself.
Nothing in connection with her mother's death had power to
call up such poignant memories as did this homely, intimate
garment. She saw again the steamy kitchen, deliciously
scented with the perfume of cooking fruit, or the
tantalizing, mouth-watering spiciness of vinegar and
pickles. On the stove the big dishpan, in which the jelly
glasses and fruit jars, with their tops and rubbers, bobbed
about in hot water. In the great granite kettle simmered
the cooking fruit Molly Brandeis, enveloped in the familiar
blue-and-white apron, stood over it, like a priestess,
stirring, stirring, slowly, rhythmically. Her face would be
hot and moist with the steam, and very tired too, for she
often came home from the store utterly weary, to stand over
the kettle until ten or eleven o'clock. But the pride in it
as she counted the golden or ruby tinted tumblers gleaming
in orderly rows as they cooled on the kitchen table!
"Fifteen glasses of grape jell, Fan! And I didn't mix a bit
of apple with it. I didn't think I'd get more than ten.
And nine of the quince preserve. That makes--let me see--
eighty-three, ninety-eight--one hundred and seven
"We'll never eat it, Mother."
"You said that last year, and by April my preserve cupboard
looked like Old Mother Hubbard's."
But then, Mrs. Brandeis was famous for her preserves, as
Father Fitzpatrick, and Aloysius, and Doctor Thalmann, and a
dozen others could testify. After the strain and flurry of
a busy day at the store there was something about this
homely household rite that brought a certain sense of rest
and peace to Molly Brandeis.
All this moved through Fanny Brandeis's mind as she sat with
the crumpled apron in her lap, her eyes swimming with hot
tears. The very stains that discolored it, the faded blue
of the front breadth, the frayed buttonhole, the little
scorched place where she had burned a hole when trying
unwisely to lift a steaming kettle from the stove with the
apron's corner, spoke to her with eloquent lips. That apron
had become a vice with Fanny. She brooded over it as a
mother broods over the shapeless, scuffled bit of leather
that was a baby's shoe; as a woman, widowed, clings to a
shabby, frayed old smoking jacket. More than once she had
cried herself to sleep with the apron clasped tightly in her
She got up from the floor now, with the apron in her hands,
and went down the stairs, opened the door that led to the
cellar, walked heavily down those steps and over to the
furnace. She flung open the furnace door. Red and purple
the coal bed gleamed, with little white flame sprites
dancing over it. Fanny stared at it a moment, fascinated.
Her face was set, her eyes brilliant. Suddenly she flung
the tightly-rolled apron into the heart of the gleaming
mass. She shut her eyes then. The fire seemed to hold its
breath for a moment. Then, with a gasp, it sprang upon its
food. The bundle stiffened, writhed, crumpled, sank, lay a
blackened heap, was dissolved. The fire bed glowed red and
purple as before, except for a dark spot in its heart.
Fanny shivered a little. She shut the furnace door and went
"Smells like something burning--cloth, or something," called
Annie, from the kitchen.
"It's only an old apron that was cluttering up my--my bureau
Thus she successfully demonstrated the first lesson in the
cruel and rigid course of mental training she had mapped out
Leaving Winnebago was not easy. There is something about a
small town that holds you. Your life is so intimately
interwoven with that of your neighbor. Existence is so
safe, so sane, so sure. Fanny knew that when she turned the
corner of Elm Street every third person she met would speak
to her. Life was made up of minute details, too trivial for
the notice of the hurrying city crowds. You knew when Milly
Glaenzer changed the baby buggy for a go-cart. The youngest
Hupp boy--Sammy--who was graduated from High School in June,
is driving A. J. Dawes's automobile now. My goodness, how
time flies! Doeppler's grocery has put in plate-glass
windows, and they're getting out-of-season vegetables every
day now from Milwaukee. As you pass you get the coral glow
of tomatoes, and the tender green of lettuces. And that
vivid green? Fresh young peas! And in February. Well!
They've torn down the old yellow brick National Bank, and in
its place a chaste Greek Temple of a building looks rather
contemptuously down its classic columns upon the farmer's
wagons drawn up along the curb. If Fanny Brandeis' sense of
proportion had not been out of plumb she might have realized
that, to Winnebago, the new First National Bank building was
as significant and epochal as had been the Woolworth
Building to New York.
The very intimacy of these details, Fanny argued, was
another reason for leaving Winnebago. They were like
detaining fingers that grasped at your skirts, impeding your
She had early set about pulling every wire within her reach
that might lead, directly or indirectly, to the furtherance
of her ambition. She got two offers from Milwaukee retail
stores. She did not consider them for a moment. Even a
Chicago department store of the second grade (one of those
on the wrong side of State Street) did not tempt her. She
knew her value. She could afford to wait. There was
money enough on which to live comfortably until the right
chance presented itself. She knew every item of her
equipment, and she conned them to herself greedily:
Definite charm of manner; the thing that is called
magnetism; brains; imagination; driving force; health;
youth; and, most precious of all, that which money could not
buy, nor education provide--experience. Experience, a
priceless weapon, that is beaten into shape only by much
contact with men and women, and that is sharpened by much
rubbing against the rough edges of this world.
In April her chance came to her; came in that accidental,
haphazard way that momentous happenings have. She met on
Elm Street a traveling man from whom Molly Brandeis had
bought for years. He dropped both sample cases and shook
hands with Fanny, eying her expertly and approvingly, and
yet without insolence. He was a wise, road-weary, skillful
member of his fraternity, grown gray in years of service,
and a little bitter. Though perhaps that was due partly to
traveling man's dyspepsia, brought on by years of small-town
"So you've sold out."
"Yes. Over a month ago."
"H'm. That was a nice little business you had there. Your
ma built it up herself. There was a woman! Gosh!
Discounted her bills, even during the panic."
Fanny smiled a reflective little smile. "That line is a
complete characterization of my mother. Her life was a
series of panics. But she never lost her head. And she
He held out his hand. "Well, glad I met you." He picked up
his sample cases. "You leaving Winnebago?"
"Going to the city, I suppose. Well you're a smart girl.
And your mother's daughter. I guess you'll get along all
right. What house are you going with?"
"I don't know. I'm waiting for the right chance. It's all
in starting right. I'm not going to hurry."
He put down his cases again, and his eyes grew keen and
kindly. He gesticulated with one broad forefinger.
"Listen, m' girl. I'm what they call an old-timer. They
want these high-power, eight-cylinder kids on the road these
days, and it's all we can do to keep up. But I've got
something they haven't got--yet. I never read anybody on
the Psychology of Business, but I know human nature all the
way from Elm Street, Winnebago, to Fifth Avenue, New York."
"I'm sure you do," said Fanny politely, and took a little
step forward, as though to end the conversation.
"Now wait a minute. They say the way to learn is to make
mistakes. If that's true, I'm at the head of the class.
I've made 'em all. Now get this. You start out and
specialize. Specialize! Tie to one thing, and make
yourself an expert in it. But first be sure it's the right
"But how is one to be sure?"
"By squinting up your eyes so you can see ten years ahead.
If it looks good to you at that distance--better, in fact,
than it does close by--then it's right. I suppose that's
what they call having imagination. I never had any. That's
why I'm still selling goods on the road. To look at you I'd
say you had too much. Maybe I'm wrong. But I never yet saw
a woman with a mouth like yours who was cut out for
business--unless it was your mother--And her eyes were
different. Let's see, what was I saying?"
"Oh, yes. And that reminds me. Bunch of fellows in the
smoker last night talking about Haynes-Cooper. Your mother
hated 'em like poison, the way every small-town
merchant hates the mail-order houses. But I hear they've
got an infants' wear department that's just going to grass
for lack of a proper head. You're only a kid. And they
have done you dirt all these years, of course. But if you
could sort of horn in there--why, say, there's no limit to
the distance you could go. No limit! With your brains and
That had been the beginning. From then on the thing had
moved forward with a certain inevitableness. There was
something about the vastness of the thing that appealed to
Fanny. Here was an organization whose great arms embraced
the world. Haynes-Cooper, giant among mail-order houses,
was said to eat a small-town merchant every morning for
"There's a Haynes-Cooper catalogue in every farmer's
kitchen," Molly Brandeis used to say. "The Bible's in the
parlor, but they keep the H. C. book in the room where they
That she was about to affiliate herself with this house
appealed to Fanny Brandeis's sense of comedy. She had heard
her mother presenting her arguments to the stubborn farmer
folk who insisted on ordering their stove, or dinner set, or
plow, or kitchen goods from the fascinating catalogue. "I
honestly think it's just the craving for excitement that
makes them do it," she often said. "They want the thrill
they get when they receive a box from Chicago, and open it,
and take off the wrappings, and dig out the thing they
ordered from a picture, not knowing whether it will be right
Her arguments usually left the farmer unmoved. He would
drive into town, mail his painfully written letter and order
at the post-office, dispose of his load of apples, or
butter, or cheese, or vegetables, and drive cheerfully back
again, his empty wagon bumping and rattling down the
old corduroy road. Express, breakage, risk, loyalty to his
own region--an these arguments left him cold.
In May, after much manipulation, correspondence, two
interviews, came a definite offer from the Haynes-Cooper
Company. It was much less than the State Street store had
offered, and there was something tentative about the whole
agreement. Haynes-Cooper proffered little and demanded
much, as is the way of the rich and mighty. But Fanny
remembered the ten-year viewpoint that the weary-wise old
traveling man had spoken about. She took their offer. She
was to go to Chicago almost at once, to begin work June
Two conversations that took place before she left are
perhaps worth recording. One was with Father Fitzpatrick of
St. Ignatius Catholic Church. The other with Rabbi Emil
Thalmann of Temple Emanu-el.
An impulse brought her into Father Fitzpatrick's study. It
was a week before her departure. She was tired. There had
been much last signing of papers, nailing of boxes,
strapping of trunks. When things began to come too thick
and fast for her she put on her hat and went for a walk at
the close of the May day. May, in Wisconsin, is a thing all
fragrant, and gold, and blue; and white with cherry
blossoms; and pink with apple blossoms; and tremulous with
Fanny struck out westward through the neat streets of the
little town, and found herself on the bridge over the ravine
in which she had played when a little girl--the ravine that
her childish imagination had peopled with such pageantry of
redskin, and priests, and voyageurs, and cavaliers. She
leaned over the iron railing and looked down. Where grass,
and brook, and wild flower had been there now oozed great
eruptions of ash heaps, tin cans, broken bottles, mounds of
dirt. Winnebago's growing pains had begun. Fanny
turned away with a little sick feeling. She went on across
the bridge past the Catholic church. Just next the church
was the parish house where Father Fitzpatrick lived. It
always looked as if it had been scrubbed, inside and out,
with a scouring brick. Its windows were a reproach and a
challenge to every housekeeper in Winnebago.
Fanny wanted to talk to somebody about that ravine. She was
full of it. Father Fitzpatrick's study over-looked it.
Besides, she wanted to see him before she left Winnebago. A
picture came to her mind of his handsome, ruddy face,
twinkling with humor as she had last seen it when he had
dropped in at Brandeis' Bazaar for a chat with her mother.
She turned in at the gate and ran up the immaculate, gray-
painted steps, that always gleamed as though still wet with
the paint brush.
"I shouldn't wonder if that housekeeper of his comes out
with a pail of paint and does 'em every morning before
breakfast," Fanny said to herself as she rang the bell.
Usually it was that sparse and spectacled person herself who
opened the parish house door, but to-day Fanny's ring was
answered by Father Casey, parish assistant. A sour-faced
and suspicious young man, Father Casey, thick-spectacled,
and pointed of nose. Nothing of the jolly priest about him.
He was new to the town, but he recognized Fanny and surveyed
"Father Fitzpatrick in? I'm Fanny Brandeis."
"The reverend father is busy," and the glass door began to
"Who is it?" boomed a voice from within. "Who're you
turning away, Casey?"
"A woman, not a parishioner." The door was almost shut now.
Footsteps down the hall. "Good! Let her in." The door
opened ever so reluctantly. Father Fitzpatrick loomed up
beside his puny assistant, dwarfing him. He looked sharply
at the figure on the porch. "For the love of--! Casey,
you're a fool! How you ever got beyond being an altar-boy
is more than I can see. Come in, child. Come in! The
man's cut out for a jailor, not a priest."
Fanny's two hands were caught in one of his big ones, and
she was led down the hall to the study. It was the room of
a scholar and a man, and the one spot in the house that
defied the housekeeper's weapons of broom and duster. A
comfortable and disreputable room, full of books, and
fishing tackle, and chairs with sagging springs, and a sofa
that was dented with friendly hollows. Pipes on the
disorderly desk. A copy of "Mr. Dooley" spread face down on
what appeared to be next Sunday's sermon, rough-drafted.
"I just wanted to talk to you." Fanny drifted to the
shelves, book-lover that she was, and ran a finger over a
half-dozen titles. "Your assistant was justified, really,
in closing the door on me. But I'm glad you rescued me."
She came over to him and stood looking up at him. He seemed
to loom up endlessly, though hers was a medium height. "I
think I really wanted to talk to you about that ravine,
though I came to say good-by."
"Sit down, child, sit down!" He creaked into his great
leather-upholstered desk chair, himself. "If you had left
without seeing me I'd have excommunicated Casey. Between
you and me the man's mad. His job ought to be duenna to a
Spanish maiden, not assistant to a priest with a leaning
toward the flesh."
Now, Father Fitzpatrick talked with a--no, you couldn't call
it a brogue. It was nothing so gross as that. One does not
speak of the flavor of a rare wine; one calls attention
to its bouquet. A subtle, teasing, elusive something that
just tickles the senses instead of punching them in the
ribs. So his speech was permeated with a will-o'-the-wisp,
a tingling richness that evaded definition. You will have
to imagine it. There shall be no vain attempt to set it
down. Besides, you always skip dialect.
"So you're going away. I'd heard. Where to?"
"Chicago, Haynes-Cooper. It's a wonderful chance. I don't
see yet how I got it. There's only one other woman on their
business staff--I mean working actually in an executive way
in the buying and selling end of the business. Of course
there are thousands doing clerical work, and that kind of
thing. Have you ever been through the plant? It's--it's
Father Fitzpatrick drummed with his fingers on the arm of
his chair, and looked at Fanny, his handsome eyes half shut.
"So it's going to be business, h'm? Well, I suppose it's
only natural. Your mother and I used to talk about you
often. I don't know if you and she ever spoke seriously of
this little trick of drawing, or cartooning, or whatever it
is you have. She used to think about it. She said once to
me, that it looked to her more than just a knack. An
authentic gift of caricature, she called it--if it could
only be developed. But of course Theodore took everything.
That worried her."
"Oh, nonsense! That! I just amuse myself with it."
"Yes. But what amuses you might amuse other people.
There's all too few amusing things in the world. Your
mother was a smart woman, Fanny. The smartest I ever knew."
"There's no money in it, even if I were to get on with it.
What could I do with it? Who ever heard of a woman
cartoonist! And I couldn't illustrate. Those pink
cheesecloth pictures the magazines use. I want to earn
money. Lots of it. And now."
She got up and went to the window, and stood looking down
the steep green slope of the ravine that lay, a natural
amphitheater, just below.
"Money, h'm?" mused Father Fitzpatrick. "Well, it's popular
and handy. And you look to me like the kind of girl who'd
get it, once you started out for it. I've never had much
myself. They say it has a way of turning to dust and ashes
in the mouth, once you get a good, satisfying bite of it.
But that's only talk, I suppose."
Fanny laughed a little, still looking down at the ravine.
"I'm fairly accustomed to dust and ashes by this time. It
won't be a new taste to me." She whirled around suddenly.
"And speaking of dust and ashes, isn't this a shame? A
crime? Why doesn't somebody stop it? Why don't you stop
it?" She pointed to the desecrated ravine below. Her eyes
were blazing, her face all animation.
Father Fitzpatrick came over and stood beside her. His face
was sad. "It's a--" He stopped abruptly, and looked down
into her glowing face. He cleared his throat. "It's a
perfectly natural state of affairs," he said smoothly.
"Winnebago's growing. Especially over there on the west
side, since the new mill went up, and they've extended the
street car line. They need the land to build on. It's
business. And money."
"Business! It's a crime! It's wanton! Those ravines are
the most beautiful natural spots in Wisconsin. Why, they're
history, and romance, and beauty!"
"So that's the way you feel about it?"
"Of course. Don't you? Can't you stop it? Petitions--"
"Certainly I feel it's an outrage. But I'm just a poor fool
of a priest, and sentimental, with no head for
business. Now you're a business woman, and different."
"I! You're joking."
"Say, listen, m' girl. The world's made up of just two
things: ravines and dump heaps. And the dumpers are forever
edging up, and squeedging up, and trying to grab the ravines
and spoil 'em, when nobody's looking. You've made your
choice, and allied yourself with the dump heaps. What right
have you to cry out against the desecration of the ravines?"
"The right that every one has that loves them."
"Child, you're going to get so used to seeing your ravines
choked up at Haynes-Cooper that after a while you'll prefer
'em that way."
Fanny turned on him passionately. "I won't! And if I do,
perhaps it's just as well. There's such a thing as too much
ravine. What do you want me to do? Stay here, and grub
away, and become a crabbed old maid like Irma Klein,
thankful to be taken around by the married crowd, joining
the Aid Society and going to the card parties on Sunday
nights? Or I could marry a traveling man, perhaps, or Lee
Kohn of the Golden Eagle. I'm just like any other ambitious
woman with brains--"
"No you're not. You're different. And I'll tell you why.
You're a Jew."
"Yes, I've got that handicap."
"That isn't a handicap, Fanny. It's an asset. Outwardly
you're like any other girl of your age. Inwardly you've
been molded by occupation, training, religion, history,
temperament, race, into something--"
"Ethnologists have proved that there is no such thing as a
Jewish race," she interrupted pertly.
"H'm. Maybe. I don't know what you'd call it, then. You
can't take a people and persecute them for thousands of
years, hounding them from place to place, herding them in
dark and filthy streets, without leaving some sort of
brand on them--a mark that differentiates. Sometimes it
doesn't show outwardly. But it's there, inside. You know,
Fanny, how it's always been said that no artist can became a
genius until he has suffered. You've suffered, you Jews,
for centuries and centuries, until you're all artists--quick
to see drama because you've lived in it, emotional,
oversensitive, cringing, or swaggering, high-strung,
demonstrative, affectionate, generous.
"Maybe they're right. Perhaps it isn't a race. But what do
you call the thing, then, that made you draw me as you did
that morning when you came to ten o'clock mass and did a
caricature of me in the pulpit. You showed up something
that I've been trying to hide for twenty years, till I'd
fooled everybody, including myself. My church is always
packed. Nobody else there ever saw it. I'll tell you,
Fanny, what I've always said: the Irish would be the
greatest people in the world--if it weren't for the
They laughed together at that, and the tension was relieved.
"Well, anyway," said Fanny, and patted his great arm, "I'd
rather talk to you than to any man in the world."
"I hope you won't be able to say that a year from now, dear
And so they parted. He took her to the door himself, and
watched her slim figure down the street and across the
ravine bridge, and thought she walked very much like her
mother, shoulders squared, chin high, hips firm. He went
back into the house, after surveying the sunset largely, and
encountered the dour Casey in the hall.
"I'll type your sermon now, sir--if it's done."
"It isn't done, Casey. And you know it. Oh, Casey,"--(I
wish your imagination would supply that brogue, because it
was such a deliciously soft and racy thing)--"Oh,
Casey, Casey! you're a better priest than I am--but a poorer
Fanny was to leave Winnebago the following Saturday. She
had sold the last of the household furniture, and had taken
a room at the Haley House. She felt very old and
experienced--and sad. That, she told herself, was only
natural. Leaving things to which one is accustomed is
always hard. Queerly enough, it was her good-by to Aloysius
that most unnerved her. Aloysius had been taken on at
Gerretson's, and the dignity of his new position sat heavily
upon him. You should have seen his ties. Fanny sought him
out at Gerretson's.
"It's flure-manager of the basement I am," he said, and
struck an elegant attitude against the case of misses'-
ready-to-wear coats. "And when you come back to Winnebago,
Miss Fanny,--and the saints send it be soon--I'll bet ye'll
see me on th' first flure, keepin' a stern but kindly eye on
the swellest trade in town. Ev'ry last thing I know I learned
off yur poor ma."
"I hope it will serve you here, Aloysius."
"Sarve me!" He bent closer. "Meanin' no offense, Miss
Fanny; but say, listen: Oncet ye get a Yiddish business
education into an Irish head, and there's no limit to the
length ye can go. If I ain't a dry-goods king be th' time
I'm thirty I hope a packin' case'll fall on me."
The sight of Aloysius seemed to recall so vividly all that
was happy and all that was hateful about Brandeis' Bazaar;
all the bravery and pluck, and resourcefulness of the
bright-eyed woman he had admiringly called his boss, that
Fanny found her self-control slipping. She put out her hand
rather blindly to meet his great red paw (a dressy striped
cuff seemed to make it all the redder), murmured a word of
thanks in return for his fervent good wishes, and fled up
the basement stairs.
On Friday night (she was to leave next day) she went to the
temple. The evening service began at seven. At half past
six Fanny had finished her early supper. She would drop in
at Doctor Thalmann's house and walk with him to temple, if
he had not already gone.
"Nein, der Herr Rabbi ist noch hier--sure," the maid said
in answer to Fanny's question. The Thalmann's had a German
maid--one Minna--who bullied the invalid Mrs. Thalmann, was
famous for her cookies with walnuts on the top, and who made
life exceedingly difficult for unlinguistic callers.
Rabbi Thalmann was up in his study. Fanny ran lightly up
"Who is it, Emil? That Minna! Next Monday her week is up.
"It's I, Mrs. Thalmann. Fanny Brandeis."
"Na, Fanny! Now what do you think!"
In the brightly-lighted doorway of his little study appeared
Rabbi Thalmann, on one foot a comfortable old romeo, on the
other a street shoe. He held out both hands. "Only at
supper we talked about you. Isn't that so, Harriet?" He
called into the darkened room.
"I came to say good-by. And I thought we might walk to
temple together. How's Mrs. Thalmann tonight?"
The little rabbi shook his head darkly, and waved a dismal
hand. But that was for Fanny alone. What he said was:
"She's really splendid to-day. A little tired, perhaps; but
what is that?"
"Emil!" from the darkened bedroom. "How can you say that?
But how! What I have suffered to-day, only! Torture! And
because I say nothing I'm not sick."
"Go in," said Rabbi Thalmann.
So Fanny went in to the woman lying, yellow-faced, on
the pillows of the dim old-fashioned bedroom with its walnut
furniture, and its red plush mantel drape. Mrs. Thalmann
held out a hand. Fanny took it in hers, and perched herself
on the edge of the bed. She patted the dry, devitalized
hand, and pressed it in her own strong, electric grip. Mrs.
Thalmann raised her head from the pillow.
"Tell me, did she have her white apron on?"
"Minna, the girl."
"Oh!" Fanny's mind jerked back to the gingham-covered
figure that had opened the door for her. "Yes," she lied,
"a white one--with crochet around the bottom. Quite grand."
Mrs. Thalmann sank back on the pillow with a satisfied sigh.
"A wonder." She shook her head. "What that girl wastes
alone, when I am helpless here."
Rabbi Thalmann came into the room, both feet booted now, and
placed his slippers neatly, toes out, under the bed. "Ach,
Harriet, the girl is all right. You imagine. Come, Fanny."
He took a great, fat watch out of his pocket. "It is time
Mrs. Thalmann laid a detaining hand on Fanny's arm. "You
will come often back here to Winnebago?"
"I'm afraid not. Once a year, perhaps, to visit my graves."
The sick eyes regarded the fresh young face. "Your mother,
Fanny, we didn't understand her so well, here in Winnebago,
among us Jewish ladies. She was different."
Fanny's face hardened. She stood up. "Yes, she was
"She comes often into my mind now, when I am here alone,
with only the four walls. We were aber dumm, we women--
but how dumm! She was too smart for us, your mother. Too
smart. Und eine sehr brave frau."
And suddenly Fanny, she who had resolved to set her face
against all emotion, and all sentiment, found herself with
her glowing cheek pressed against the withered one, and it
was the weak old hand that patted her now. So she lay for a
moment, silent. Then she got up, straightened her hat,
"Auf Wiedersehen," she said in her best German. "Und
But the rabbi's wife shook her head. "Good-by."
From the hall below Doctor Thalmann called to her. "Come,
child, come!" Then, "Ach, the light in my study! I forgot
to turn it out, Fanny, be so good, yes?"
Fanny entered the bright little room, reached up to turn off
the light, and paused a moment to glance about her. It was
an ugly, comfortable, old-fashioned room that had never
progressed beyond the what-not period. Fanny's eye was
caught by certain framed pictures on the walls. They were
photographs of Rabbi Thalmann's confirmation classes.
Spindling-legged little boys in the splendor of patent-
leather buttoned shoes, stiff white shirts, black broadcloth
suits with satin lapels; self-conscious and awkward little
girls--these in the minority--in white dresses and stiff
white hair bows. In the center of each group sat the little
rabbi, very proud and alert. Fanny was not among these.
She had never formally taken the vows of her creed. As she
turned down the light now, and found her way down the
stairs, she told herself that she was glad this was so.
It was a matter of only four blocks to the temple. But they
were late, and so they hurried, and there was little
conversation. Fanny's arm was tucked comfortably in his.
It felt, somehow, startlingly thin, that arm. And as they
hurried along there was a jerky feebleness about his gait.
It was with difficulty that Fanny restrained herself from
supporting him when they came to a rough bit of walk or
a sudden step. Something fine in her prompted her not to.
But the alert mind in that old frame sensed what was going
on in her thoughts.
"He's getting feeble, the old rabbi, h'm?"
"Not a bit of it. I've got all I can do to keep up with
you. You set such a pace."
"I know. I know. They are not all so kind, Fanny. They
are too prosperous, this congregation of mine. And some
day, `Off with his head!' And in my place there will step a
young man, with eye-glasses instead of spectacles. They are
tired of hearing about the prophets. Texts from the Bible
have gone out of fashion. You think I do not see them
giggling, h'm? The young people. And the whispering in the
choir loft. And the buzz when I get up from my chair after
the second hymn. `Is he going to have a sermon? Is he?
Sure enough!' Na, he will make them sit up, my successor.
Sex sermons! Political lectures. That's it. Lectures."
They were turning in at the temple now. "The race is to the
young, Fanny. To the young. And I am old."
She squeezed the frail old arm in hers. "My dear!" she
said. "My dear!" A second breaking of her new resolutions.
One by one, two by two, they straggled in for the Friday
evening service, these placid, prosperous people, not
unkind, but careless, perhaps, in their prosperity.
"He's worth any ten of them," Fanny said hotly to herself,
as she sat in her pew that, after to-morrow, would no longer
be hers. "The dear old thing. `Sex sermons.' And the race
is to the young. How right he is. Well, no one can say I'm
not getting an early start."
The choir had begun the first hymn when there came down the
aisle a stranger. There was a little stir among the
congregation. Visitors were rare. He was dark and very
slim--with the slimness of steel wire. He passed down the
aisle rather uncertainly. A traveling man, Fanny thought,
dropped in, as sometimes they did, to say Kaddish for a
departed father or mother. Then she changed her mind. Her
quick eye noted his walk; a peculiar walk, with a spring in
it. Only one unfamiliar with cement pavements could walk
like that. The Indians must have had that same light,
muscular step. He chose an empty pew halfway down the aisle
and stumbled into it rather awkwardly. Fanny thought he was
unnecessarily ugly, even for a man. Then he looked up, and
nodded and smiled at Lee Kohn, across the aisle. His teeth
were very white, and the smile was singularly sweet. Fanny
changed her mind again. Not so bad-looking, after all.
Different, anyway. And then--why, of course! Little
Clarence Heyl, come back from the West. Clarence Heyl, the
Her mind went back to that day of the street fight. She
smiled. At that moment Clarence Heyl, who had been screwing
about most shockingly, as though searching for some one,
turned and met her smile, intended for no one, with a
startlingly radiant one of his own, intended most plainly
for her. He half started forward in his pew, and then
remembered, and sat back again, but with an effect of
impermanence that was ludicrous. It had been years since he
had left Winnebago. At the time of his mother's death they
had tried to reach him, and had been unable to get in touch
with him for weeks. He had been off on some mountain
expedition, hundreds of miles from railroad or telegraph.
Fanny remembered having read about him in the Winnebago
Courier. He seemed to be climbing mountains a great
deal--rather difficult mountains, evidently, from the fuss
they made over it. A queer enough occupation for a cowardy-
cat. There had been a book, too. About the Rockies.
She had not read it. She rather disliked these nature
books, as do most nature lovers. She told herself that when
she came upon a flaming golden maple in October she was
content to know it was a maple, and to warm her soul at its
There had been something in the Chicago Herald, though--
oh, yes; it had spoken of him as the brilliant young
naturalist, Clarence Heyl. He was to have gone on an
expedition with Roosevelt. A sprained ankle, or some such
thing, had prevented. Fanny smiled again, to herself. His
mother, the fussy person who had been responsible for his
boyhood reefers and too-shiny shoes, and his cowardice too,
no doubt, had dreamed of seeing her Clarence a rabbi.
From that point Fanny's thoughts wandered to the brave old
man in the pulpit. She had heard almost nothing of the
service. She looked at him now--at him, and then at his
congregation, inattentive and palpably bored. As always
with her, the thing stamped itself on her mind as a picture.
She was forever seeing a situation in terms of its human
value. How small he looked, how frail, against the
background of the massive Ark with its red velvet curtain.
And how bravely he glared over his blue glasses at the two
Aarons girls who were whispering and giggling together, eyes
on the newcomer.
So this was what life did to you, was it? Squeezed you dry,
and then cast you aside in your old age, a pulp, a bit of
discard. Well, they'd never catch her that way.
Unchurchly thoughts, these. The little place was very
peaceful and quiet, lulling one like a narcotic. The
rabbi's voice had in it that soothing monotony bred of years
in the pulpit. Fanny found her thoughts straying back to
the busy, bright little store on Elm Street, then forward,
to the Haynes-Cooper plant and the fight that was
before her. There settled about her mouth a certain grim
line that sat strangely on so young a face. The service
marched on. There came the organ prelude that announced the
mourners' prayer. Then Rabbi Thalmann began to intone the
Kaddish. Fanny rose, prayer book in hand. At that Clarence
Heyl rose too, hurriedly, as one unaccustomed to the
service, and stood with unbowed head, looking at the rabbi
interestedly, thoughtfully, reverently. The two stood
alone. Death had been kind to Congregation Emanu-el this
year. The prayer ended. Fanny winked the tears from her
eyes, almost wrathfully. She sat down, and there swept over
her a feeling of finality. It was like the closing of Book
One in a volume made up of three parts.
She said to herself: "Winnebago is ended, and my life here.
How interesting that I should know that, and feel it. It is
like the first movement in one of the concertos Theodore was
forever playing. Now for the second movement! It's got to
be lively. Fortissimo! Presto!"
For so clever a girl as Fanny Brandeis, that was a stupid
conclusion at which to arrive. How could she think it
possible to shed her past life, like a garment? Those
impressionable years, between fourteen and twenty-four,
could never be cast off. She might don a new cloak to cover
the old dress beneath, but the old would always be there,
its folds peeping out here and there, its outlines plainly
to be seen. She might eat of things rare, and drink of
things costly, but the sturdy, stocky little girl in the
made-over silk dress, who had resisted the Devil in
Weinberg's pantry on that long-ago Day of Atonement, would
always be there at the feast. Myself, I confess I am tired
of these stories of young women who go to the big city,
there to do battle with failure, to grapple with temptation,
sin and discouragement. So it may as well be admitted
that Fanny Brandeis' story was not that of a painful hand-
over-hand climb. She was made for success. What she
attempted, she accomplished. That which she strove for, she
won. She was too sure, too vital, too electric, for
failure. No, Fanny Brandeis' struggle went on inside. And
in trying to stifle it she came near making the blackest
failure that a woman can make. In grubbing for the pot of
gold she almost missed the rainbow.
Rabbi Thalmann raised his arms for the benediction. Fanny
looked straight up at him as though stamping a picture on
her mind. His eyes were resting gently on her--or perhaps
she just fancied that he spoke to her alone as he began the
words of the ancient closing prayer:
"May the blessings of the Lord Our God rest upon you. God
bless thee and keep thee. May He cause His countenance to
shine upon thee and be gracious unto thee. May God lift up
His countenance unto thee . . ."
At the last word she hurried up the aisle, and down the
stairs, into the soft beauty of the May night. She felt she
could stand no good-bys. In her hotel room she busied
herself with the half-packed trunks and bags. So it was she
altogether failed to see the dark young man who hurried
after her eagerly, and who was stopped by a dozen welcoming
hands there in the temple vestibule. He swore a deep inward
"Damn!" as he saw her straight, slim figure disappear down
the steps and around the corner, even while he found himself
saying, politely, "Why, thanks! It's good to BE back."
And, "Yes, things have changed. All but the temple, and
Fanny left Winnebago at eight next morning.
"Mr. Fenger will see you now." Mr. Fenger, general manager,
had been a long time about it. This heel-cooling experience
was new to Fanny Brandeis. It had always been her privilege
to keep others waiting. Still, she felt no resentment as
she sat in Michael Fenger's outer office. For as she sat
there, waiting, she was getting a distinct impression of
this unseen man whose voice she could just hear as he talked
over the telephone in his inner office. It was
characteristic of Michael Fenger that his personality
reached out and touched you before you came into actual
contact with the man. Fanny had heard of him long before
she came to Haynes-Cooper. He was the genie of that
glittering lamp. All through the gigantic plant (she had
already met department heads, buyers, merchandise managers)
one heard his name, and felt the impress of his mind:
"You'll have to see Mr. Fenger about that."
"Yes,"--pointing to a new conveyor, perhaps,--"that has just
been installed. It's a great help to us. Doubles our
shipping-room efficiency. We used to use baskets, pulled by
a rope. It's Mr. Fenger's idea."
Efficiency, efficiency, efficiency. Fenger had made it a
slogan in the Haynes-Cooper plant long before the German
nation forced it into our everyday vocabulary. Michael
Fenger was System. He could take a muddle of orders, a
jungle of unfilled contracts, a horde of incompetent
workers, and of them make a smooth-running and effective
unit. Untangling snarls was his pastime. Esprit de corps
was his shibboleth. Order and management his
idols. And his war-cry was "Results!"
It was eleven o'clock when Fanny came into his outer office.
The very atmosphere was vibrant with his personality. There
hung about the place an air of repressed expectancy. The
room was electrically charged with the high-voltage of the
man in the inner office. His secretary was a spare, middle-
aged, anxious-looking woman in snuff-brown and spectacles;
his stenographer a blond young man, also spectacled and
anxious; his office boy a stern youth in knickers, who bore
no relation to the slangy, gum-chewing, redheaded office boy
of the comic sections.
The low-pitched, high-powered voice went on inside, talking
over the long-distance telephone. Fenger was the kind of
man who is always talking to New York when he is in Chicago,
and to Chicago when he is in New York. Trains with the word
Limited after them were invented for him and his type. A
buzzer sounded. It galvanized the office boy into instant
action. It brought the anxious-looking stenographer to the
doorway, notebook in hand, ready. It sent the lean
secretary out, and up to Fanny.
"Temper," said Fanny, to herself, "or horribly nervous and
high-keyed. They jump like a set of puppets on a string."
It was then that the lean secretary had said, "Mr. Fenger
will see you now."
Fanny was aware of a pleasant little tingle of excitement.
She entered the inner office.
It was characteristic of Michael Fenger that he employed no
cheap tricks. He was not writing as Fanny Brandeis came in.
He was not telephoning. He was not doing anything but
standing at his desk, waiting for Fanny Brandeis. As she
came in he looked at her, through her, and she seemed to
feel her mental processes laid open to him as a skilled
surgeon cuts through skin and flesh and fat, to lay
bare the muscles and nerves and vital organs beneath. He
put out his hand. Fanny extended hers. They met in a
silent grip. It was like a meeting between two men. Even
as he indexed her, Fanny's alert mind was busy docketing,
numbering, cataloguing him. They had in common a certain
force, a driving power. Fanny seated herself opposite him,
in obedience to a gesture. He crossed his legs comfortably
and sat back in his big desk chair. A great-bodied man,
with powerful square shoulders, a long head, a rugged crest
of a nose--the kind you see on the type of Englishman who
has the imagination and initiative to go to Canada, or
Australia, or America. He wore spectacles, not the
fashionable horn-rimmed sort, but the kind with gold ear
pieces. They were becoming, and gave a certain humanness to
a face that otherwise would have been too rugged, too
strong. A man of forty-five, perhaps.
He spoke first. "You're younger than I thought."
"So are you."
"So am I."
He uncrossed his legs, leaned forward, folded his arms on
"You've been through the plant, Miss Brandeis?"
"Yes. Twice. Once with a regular tourist party. And once
with the special guide."
"Good. Go through the plant whenever you can. Don't stick
to your own department. It narrows one." He paused a
moment. "Did you think that this opportunity to come to
Haynes-Cooper, as assistant to the infants' wear department
buyer was just a piece of luck, augmented by a little
pulling on your part?"
"It wasn't. You were carefully picked by me, and I don't
expect to find I've made a mistake. I suppose you know
very little about buying and selling infants' wear?"
"Less than about almost any other article in the world--at
least, in the department store, or mail order world."
"I thought so. And it doesn't matter. I pretty well know
your history, which means that I know your training. You're
young; you're ambitious, you're experienced; you're
imaginative. There's no length you can't go, with these.
It just depends on how farsighted your mental vision is.
Now listen, Miss Brandeis: I'm not going to talk to you in
millions. The guides do enough of that. But you know we do
buy and sell in terms of millions, don't you? Well, our
infants' wear department isn't helping to roll up the
millions; and it ought to, because there are millions of
babies born every year, and the golden-spoon kind are in the
minority. I've decided that that department needs a woman,
your kind of woman. Now, as a rule, I never employ a woman
when I can use a man. There's only one other woman filling
a really important position in the merchandise end of this
business. That's Ella Monahan, head of the glove
department, and she's a genius. She is a woman who is
limited in every other respect--just average; but she knows
glove materials in a way that's uncanny. I'd rather have a
man in her place; but I don't happen to know any men glove-
geniuses. Tell me, what do you think of that etching?"
Fanny tried--and successfully--not to show the jolt her mind
had received as she turned to look at the picture to which
his finger pointed. She got up and strolled over to it, and
she was glad her suit fitted and hung as it did in the back.
"I don't like it particularly. I like it less than any
other etching you have here." The walls were hung with
them. "Of course you understand I know nothing about
them. But it's too flowery, isn't it, to be good? Too many
lines. Like a writer who spoils his effect by using too
Fenger came over and stood beside her, staring at the black
and white and gray thing in its frame. "I felt that way,
too." He stared down at her, then. "Jew?" he asked.
A breathless instant. "No," said Fanny Brandeis.
Michael Fenger smiled for the first time. Fanny Brandeis
would have given everything she had, everything she hoped to
be, to be able to take back that monosyllable. She was
gripped with horror at what she had done. She had spoken
almost mechanically. And yet that monosyllable must have
been the fruit of all these months of inward struggle and
thought. "Now I begin to understand you," Fenger went on.
"You've decided to lop off all the excrescences, eh? Well,
I can't say that I blame you. A woman in business is
handicapped enough by the very fact of her sex." He stared
at her again. "Too bad you're so pretty."
"I'm not!" said Fanny hotly, like a school-girl.
"That's a thing that can't be argued, child. Beauty's
subjective, you know."
"I don't see what difference it makes, anyway."
"Oh, yes, you do." He stopped. "Or perhaps you don't,
after all. I forget how young you are. Well, now, Miss
Brandeis, you and your woman's mind, and your masculine
business experience and sense are to be turned loose on our
infants' wear department. The buyer, Mr. Slosson, is going
to resent you. Naturally. I don't know whether we'll get
results from you in a month, or six months or a year. Or
ever. But something tells me we're going to get them.
You've lived in a small town most of your life. And we want
that small-town viewpoint. D'you think you've got it?"
Fanny was on her own ground here. "If knowing the
Wisconsin small-town woman, and the Wisconsin farmer woman--
and man too, for that matter--means knowing the Oregon, and
Wyoming, and Pennsylvania, and Iowa people of the same
class, then I've got it."
"Good!" Michael Fenger stood up. "I'm not going to load you
down with instructions, or advice. I think I'll let you
grope your own way around, and bump your head a few times.
Then you'll learn where the low places are. And, Miss
Brandeis, remember that suggestions are welcome in this
plant. We take suggestions all the way from the elevator
starter to the president." His tone was kindly, but not
Fanny was standing too, her mental eye on the door. But now
she turned to face him squarely.
"Do you mean that?"
"Well, then, I've one to make. Your stock boys and stock
girls walk miles and miles every day, on every floor of this
fifteen-story building. I watched them yesterday, filling
up the bins, carrying orders, covering those enormous
distances from one bin to another, up one aisle and down the
next, to the office, back again. Your floors are concrete,
or cement, or some such mixture, aren't they? I just
happened to think of the boy who used to deliver our paper
on Norris Street, in Winnebago, Wisconsin. He covered his
route on roller skates. It saved him an hour. Why don't
you put roller skates on your stock boys and girls?"
Fenger stared at her. You could almost hear that mind of
his working, like a thing on ball bearings. "Roller
skates." It wasn't an exclamation. It was a decision. He
pressed a buzzer--the snuff-brown secretary buzzer. "Tell
Clancy I want him. Now." He had not glanced up, or taken
his eyes from Fanny. She was aware of feeling a little
uncomfortable, but elated, too. She moved toward the door.
Fenger stood at his desk. "Wait a minute." Fanny
waited. Still Fenger did not speak. Finally, "I suppose
you know you've earned six months' salary in the last five
Fanny eyed him coolly. "Considering the number of your
stock force, the time, energy, and labor saved, including
wear and tear on department heads and their assistants, I
should say that was a conservative statement." And she
nodded pleasantly, and left him.
Two days later every stock clerk in the vast plant was
equipped with light-weight roller skates. They made a sort
of carnival of it at first. There were some spills, too,
going around corners, and a little too much hilarity. That
wore off in a week. In two weeks their roller skates were
part of them; just shop labor-savers. The report presented
to Fenger was this: Time and energy saved, fifty-five per
cent; stock staff decreased by one third. The
picturesqueness of it, the almost ludicrous simplicity of
the idea appealed to the entire plant. It tickled the humor
sense in every one of the ten thousand employees in that
vast organization. In the first week of her association
with Haynes-Cooper Fanny Brandeis was actually more widely
known than men who had worked there for years. The
president, Nathan Haynes himself, sent for her, chuckling.
Nathan Haynes--but then, why stop for him? Nathan Haynes
had been swallowed, long ago, by this monster plant that he
himself had innocently created. You must have visited it,
this Gargantuan thing that sprawls its length in the very
center of Chicago, the giant son of a surprised father. It
is one of the city's show places, like the stockyards, the
Art Institute, and Field's. Fifteen years before, a
building had been erected to accommodate a prosperous mail
order business. It had been built large and roomy, with
plenty of seams, planned amply, it was thought, to allow the
boy to grow. It would do for twenty-five years,
surely. In ten years Haynes-Cooper was bursting its seams.
In twelve it was shamelessly naked, its arms and legs
sticking out of its inadequate garments. New red brick
buildings--another--another. Five stories added to this
one, six stories to that, a new fifteen story merchandise
The firm began to talk in tens of millions. Its stock
became gilt-edged, unattainable. Lucky ones who had bought
of it diffidently, discreetly, with modest visions of four
and a half per cent in their unimaginative minds, saw their
dividends doubling, trebling, quadrupling, finally soaring
gymnastically beyond all reason. Listen to the old guide
who (at fifteen a week) takes groups of awed visitors
through the great plant. How he juggles figures; how
grandly they roll off his tongue. How glib he is with
Nathan Haynes's millions.
"This, ladies and gentlemen, is our mail department. From
two thousand to twenty-five hundred pounds of mail,
comprising over one hundred thousand letters, are received
here every day. Yes, madam, I said every day. About half
of these letters are orders. Last year the banking
department counted one hundred and thirty millions of
dollars. One hundred and thirty millions!" He stands there
in his ill-fitting coat, and his star, and rubs one bony
hand over the other.
"Dear me!" says a lady tourist from Idaho, rather
inadequately. And yet, not so inadequately. What
exclamation is there, please, that fits a sum like one
hundred and thirty millions of anything?
Fanny Brandeis, fresh from Winnebago, Wisconsin, slipped
into the great scheme of things at the Haynes-Cooper plant
like part of a perfectly planned blue print. It was as
though she had been thought out and shaped for this
particular corner. And the reason for it was, primarily,
Winnebago, Wisconsin. For Haynes-Cooper grew and
thrived on just such towns, with their surrounding farms and
villages. Haynes-Cooper had their fingers on the pulse and
heart of the country as did no other industry. They were
close, close. When rugs began to take the place of ingrain
carpets it was Haynes-Cooper who first sensed the change.
Oh, they had had them in New York years before, certainly.
But after all, it isn't New York's artistic progress that
shows the development of this nation. It is the thing they
are thinking, and doing, and learning in Backwash, Nebraska,
that marks time for these United States. There may be a
certain significance in the announcement that New York has
dropped the Russian craze and has gone in for that quaint
Chinese stuff. My dear, it makes the loveliest hangings and
decorations. When Fifth Avenue takes down its filet lace
and eyelet embroidered curtains, and substitutes severe
shantung and chaste net, there is little in the act to
revolutionize industry, or stir the art-world. But when the
Haynes-Cooper company, by referring to its inventory
ledgers, learns that it is selling more Alma Gluck than
Harry Lauder records; when its statistics show that
Tchaikowsky is going better than Irving Berlin, something
epochal is happening in the musical progress of a nation.
And when the orders from Noose Gulch, Nevada, are for those
plain dimity curtains instead of the cheap and gaudy
Nottingham atrocities, there is conveyed to the mind a fact
of immense, of overwhelming significance. The country has
taken a step toward civilization and good taste.
So. You have a skeleton sketch of Haynes-Cooper, whose
feelers reach the remotest dugout in the Yukon, the most
isolated cabin in the Rockies, the loneliest ranch-house in
Wyoming; the Montana mining shack, the bleak Maine farm, the
plantation in Virginia.
And the man who had so innocently put life into this
monster? A plumpish, kindly-faced man; a bewildered,
gentle, unimaginative and somewhat frightened man, fresh-
cheeked, eye-glassed. In his suite of offices in the new
Administration Building--built two years ago--marble and oak
throughout--twelve stories, and we're adding three already;
offices all two-toned rugs, and leather upholstery, with
dim, rich, brown-toned Dutch masterpieces on the walls, he
sat helpless and defenseless while the torrent of millions
rushed, and swirled, and foamed about him. I think he had
fancied, fifteen years ago, that he would some day be a
fairly prosperous man; not rich, as riches are counted
nowadays, but with a comfortable number of tens of thousands
tucked away. Two or three hundred thousand; perhaps five
hundred thousand!--perhaps a--but, nonsense! Nonsense!
And then the thing had started. It was as when a man idly
throws a pebble into a chasm, or shoves a bit of ice with
the toe of his boot, and starts a snow-slide that grows as
it goes. He had started this avalanche of money, and now it
rushed on of its own momentum, plunging, rolling, leaping,
crashing, and as it swept on it gathered rocks, trees,
stones, houses, everything that lay in its way. It was
beyond the power of human hand to stop this tumbling,
roaring slide. In the midst of it sat Nathan Haynes,
deafened, stunned, terrified at the immensity of what he had
He began giving away huge sums, incredible sums. It piled
up faster than he could give it away. And so he sat there
in the office hung with the dim old masterpieces, and tried
to keep simple, tried to keep sane, with that austerity that
only mad wealth can afford--or bitter poverty. He caused
the land about the plant to be laid out in sunken gardens
and baseball fields and tennis courts, so that one
approached this monster of commerce through enchanted
grounds, glowing with tulips and heady hyacinths in
spring, with roses in June, blazing with salvia and golden-
glow and asters in autumn. There was something apologetic
about these grounds.
This, then, was the environment that Fanny Brandeis had
chosen. On the face of things you would have said she had
chosen well. The inspiration of the roller skates had not
been merely a lucky flash. That idea had been part of the
consistent whole. Her mind was her mother's mind raised to
the nth power, and enhanced by the genius she was trying
to crush. Refusing to die, it found expression in a hundred
brilliant plans, of which the roller skate idea was only
Fanny had reached Chicago on Sunday. She had entered the
city as a queen enters her domain, authoritatively, with no
fear upon her, no trepidation, no doubts. She had gone at
once to the Mendota Hotel, on Michigan Avenue, up-town, away
from the roar of the loop. It was a residential hotel, very
quiet, decidedly luxurious. She had no idea of making it
her home. But she would stay there until she could find an
apartment that was small, bright, near the lake, and yet
within fairly reasonable transportation facilities for her
work. Her room was on the ninth floor, not on the Michigan
Avenue side, but east, overlooking the lake. She spent
hours at the windows, fascinated by the stone and steel city
that lay just below with the incredible blue of the sail-
dotted lake beyond, and at night, with the lights spangling
the velvety blackness, the flaring blaze of Thirty-first
Street's chop-suey restaurants and moving picture houses at
the right; and far, far away, the red and white eye of the
lighthouse winking, blinking, winking, blinking, the rumble
and clank of a flat-wheeled Indiana avenue car, the sound of
high laughter and a snatch of song that came faintly up to
her from the speeding car of some midnight joy-riders!
But all this had to do with her other side. It had no
bearing on Haynes-Cooper, and business. Business! That was
it. She had trained herself for it, like an athlete. Eight
hours of sleep. A cold plunge on arising. Sane food. Long
walks. There was something terrible about her earnestness.
On Monday she presented herself at the Haynes-Cooper plant.
Monday and Tuesday were spent in going over the great works.
It was an exhausting process, but fascinating beyond belief.
It was on Wednesday that she had been summoned for the talk
with Michael Fenger. Thursday morning she was at her desk
at eight-thirty. It was an obscure desk, in a dingy corner
of the infants' wear department, the black sheep section of
the great plant. Her very presence in that corner seemed to
change it magically. You must remember how young she was,
how healthy, how vigorous, with the freshness of the small
town still upon her. It was health and youth, and vigor
that gave that gloss to her hair (conscientious brushing
too, perhaps), that color to her cheeks and lips, that
brightness to her eyes. But crafty art and her dramatic
instinct were responsible for the tailored severity of her
costume, for the whiteness of her blouse, the trim common-
sense expensiveness of her shoes and hat and gloves.
Slosson, buyer and head of the department, came in at nine.
Fanny rose to greet him. She felt a little sorry for
Slosson. In her mind she already knew him for a doomed man.
"Well, well!"--he was the kind of person who would say,
well, well!--"You're bright and early, Miss--ah--"
"Yes, certainly; Miss Brandeis. Well, nothing like making a
"I wanted to go through the department by myself," said
Fanny. "The shelves and bins, and the numbering system. I
see that your new maternity dresses have just come in."
"Oh, yes. How do you like them?"
"I think they're unnecessarily hideous, Mr. Slosson."
"My dear young lady, a plain garment is what they want.
"Unnoticeable, yes; but becoming. At such a time a woman is
at her worst. If she can get it, she at least wants a dress
that doesn't add to her unattractiveness."
"Let me see--you are not--ah--married, I believe, Miss
"I am. Three children. All girls." He passed a nervous
hand over his head, rumpling his hair a little. "An
expensive proposition, let me tell you, three girls. But
there's very little I don't know about babies, as you may
But there settled over Fanny Brandeis' face the mask of
hardness that was so often to transform it.
The morning mail was in--the day's biggest grist, deluge of
it, a flood. Buyer and assistant buyer never saw the actual
letters, or attended to their enclosed orders. It was only
the unusual letter, the complaint or protest that reached
their desk. Hundreds of hands downstairs sorted, stamped,
indexed, filed, after the letter-opening machines had slit
the envelopes. Those letter-openers! Fanny had hung over
them, enthralled. The unopened envelopes were fed into
them. Flip! Zip! Flip! Out! Opened! Faster than eye
could follow. It was uncanny. It was, somehow, humorous,
like the clever antics of a trained dog. You could not
believe that this little machine actually performed what
your eyes beheld. Two years later they installed the sand-
paper letter-opener, marvel of simplicity. It made the
old machine seem cumbersome and slow. Guided by Izzy, the
expert, its rough tongue was capable of licking open six
hundred and fifty letters a minute.
Ten minutes after the mail came in the orders were being
filled; bins, shelves, warehouses, were emptying their
contents. Up and down the aisles went the stock clerks;
into the conveyors went the bundles, down the great spiral
bundle chute, into the shipping room, out by mail, by
express, by freight. This leghorn hat for a Nebraska
country belle; a tombstone for a rancher's wife; a plow,
brave in its red paint; coffee, tea, tinned fruit, bound for
Alaska; lace, muslin, sheeting, toweling, all intended for
the coarse trousseau of a Georgia bride.
It was not remarkable that Fanny Brandeis fitted into this
scheme of things. For years she had ministered to the wants
of just this type of person. The letters she saw at Haynes-
Cooper's read exactly as customers had worded their wants at
Brandeis' Bazaar. The magnitude of the thing thrilled her,
the endless possibilities of her own position.
During the first two months of her work there she was as
unaggressive as possible. She opened the very pores of her
mind and absorbed every detail of her department. But she
said little, followed Slosson's instructions in her position
as assistant buyer, and suggested no changes. Slosson's
wrinkle of anxiety smoothed itself away, and his manner
became patronizingly authoritative again. Fanny seemed to
have become part of the routine of the place. Fenger did
not send for her. June and July were insufferably hot.
Fanny seemed to thrive, to expand like a flower in the heat,
when others wilted and shriveled. The spring catalogue was
to be made up in October, as always, six months in advance.
The first week in August Fanny asked for an interview with
Fenger. Slosson was to be there. At ten o'clock she
entered Fenger's inner office. He was telephoning--
something about dinner at the Union League Club. His voice
was suave, his tone well modulated, his accent correct, his
English faultless. And yet Fanny Brandeis, studying the
etchings on his wall, her back turned to him, smiled to
herself. The voice, the tone, the accent, the English, did
not ring true They were acquired graces, exquisite
imitations of the real thing. Fanny Brandeis knew. She was
playing the same game herself. She understood this man now,
after two months in the Haynes-Cooper plant. These
marvelous examples of the etcher's art, for example. They
were the struggle for expression of a man whose youth had
been bare of such things. His love for them was much the
same as that which impels the new made millionaire to buy
rare pictures, rich hangings, tapestries, rugs, not so much
in the desire to impress the world with his wealth as to
satisfy the craving for beauty, the longing to possess that
which is exquisite, and fine, and almost unobtainable. You
have seen how a woman, long denied luxuries, feeds her
starved senses on soft silken things, on laces and gleaming
jewels, for pure sensuous delight in their feel and look.
Thus Fanny mused as she eyed these treasures--grim, deft,
repressed things, done with that economy of line which is
the test of the etcher's art.
Fenger hung up the receiver.
"So it's taken you two months, Miss Brandeis. I was awfully
afraid, from the start you made, that you'd be back here in
a week, bursting with ideas."
Fanny smiled, appreciatively. He had come very near the
truth. "I had to use all my self-control, that first week.
After that it wasn't so hard."
Fenger's eyes narrowed upon her. "Pretty sure of yourself,
"Yes," said Fanny. She came over to his desk.
"I wish we needn't have Mr. Slosson here this morning.
After all, he's been here for years, and I'm practically an
upstart. He's so much older, too. I--I hate to hurt him.
I wish you'd--"
But Fenger shook his head. "Slosson's due now. And he has
got to take his medicine. This is business, Miss Brandeis.
You ought to know what that means. For that matter, it may
be that you haven't hit upon an idea. In that case, Slosson
would have the laugh, wouldn't he?"
Slosson entered at that moment. And there was a chip on his
shoulder. It was evident in the way he bristled, in the way
he seated himself. His fingers drummed his knees. He was
like a testy, hum-ha stage father dealing with a willful
Fenger took out his watch.
"Now, Miss Brandeis."
Fanny took a chair facing the two men, and crossed her trim
blue serge knees, and folded her hands in her lap. A deep
pink glowed in her cheeks. Her eyes were very bright. All
the Molly Brandeis in her was at the surface, sparkling
there. And she looked almost insultingly youthful.
"You--you want me to talk?"
"We want you to talk. We have time for just three-quarters
of an hour of uninterrupted conversation. If you've got
anything to say you ought to say it in that time. Now, Miss
Brandeis, what's the trouble with the Haynes-Cooper infants'
And Fanny Brandeis took a long breath
"The trouble with the Haynes-Cooper infants' wear department
is that it doesn't understand women. There are millions of
babies born every year. An incredible number of them are
mail order babies. I mean by that they are born to tired,
clumsy-fingered immigrant women, to women in mills and
factories, to women on farms, to women in remote
villages. They're the type who use the mail order method.
I've learned this one thing about that sort of woman: she
may not want that baby, but either before or after it's born
she'll starve, and save, and go without proper clothing, and
even beg, and steal to give it clothes--clothes with lace on
them, with ribbon on them, sheer white things. I don't know
why that's true, but it is. Well, we're not reaching them.
Our goods are unattractive. They're packed and shipped
unattractively. Why, all this department needs is a little
psychology--and some lace that doesn't look as if it had
been chopped out with an ax. It's the little, silly,
intimate things that will reach these women. No, not silly,
either. Quite understandable. She wants fine things for
her baby, just as the silver-spoon mother does. The thing
we'll have to do is to give her silver-spoon models at
"It can't be done," said Slosson.
"Now, wait a minute, Slosson," Fenger put in, smoothly.
"Miss Brandeis has given us a very fair general statement.
We'll have some facts. Are you prepared to give us an
actual working plan?"
"Yes. At least, it sounds practical to me. And if it does
to you--and to Mr. Slosson--"
"Humph!" snorted that gentleman, in expression of defiance,
unbelief, and a determination not to be impressed.
It acted as a goad to Fanny. She leaned forward in her
chair and talked straight at the big, potent force that sat
regarding her in silent attention.
"I still say that we can copy the high-priced models in low-
priced materials because, in almost every case, it isn't the
material that makes the expensive model; it's the line, the
cut, the little trick that gives it style. We can get that.
We've been giving them stuff that might have been made by
prison labor, for all the distinction it had. Then
I think we ought to make a feature of the sanitary
methods used in our infants' department.
Every article intended for a baby's use should
be wrapped or boxed as it lies in the bin or on the shelf.
And those bins ought to be glassed. We would advertise
that, and it would advertise itself. Our visitors would
talk about it. This department hasn't been getting a square
deal in the catalogue. Not enough space. It ought to have
not only more catalogue space, but a catalogue all its own--
the Baby Book. Full of pictures. Good ones. Illustrations
that will make every mother think her baby will look like
that baby, once it is wearing our No. 29E798--chubby babies,
curly-headed, and dimply. And the feature of that catalogue
ought to be, not separate garments, but complete outfits.
Outfits boxed, ready for shipping, and ranging in price all
the way from twenty-five dollars to three-ninety-eight--"
"It can't be done!" yelled Slosson. "Three-ninety-eight!
"It can be done. I've figured it out, down to a packet of
assorted size safety pins. We'll call it our emergency
outfit. Thirty pieces. And while we're about it, every
outfit over five dollars ought to be packed in a pink or a
pale blue pasteboard box. The outfits trimmed in pink, pink
boxes; the outfits trimmed in blue, blue boxes. In eight
cases out of ten their letters will tell us whether it's a
pink or blue baby. And when they get our package, and take
out that pink or blue box, they'll be as pleased as if we'd
made them a present. It's the personal note--"
"Personal slop!" growled Slosson. "It isn't business. It's
"Sentimental, yes," agreed Fanny pleasantly, "but then,
we're running the only sentimental department in this
business. And we ought to be doing it at the rate of a
million and a quarter a year. If you think these last
suggestions sentimental, I'm afraid the next one--"
"Let's have it, Miss Brandeis," Fenger encouraged her
"It's"--she flashed a mischievous smile at Slosson--"it's a
mother's guide and helper, and adviser. A woman who'll
answer questions, give advice. Some one they'll write to,
with a picture in their minds of a large, comfortable,
motherly-looking person in gray. You know we get hundreds
of letters asking whether they ought to order flannel bands,
or the double-knitted kind. That sort of thing. And who's
been answering them? Some sixteen-year-old girl in the
mailing department who doesn't know a flannel band from a
bootee when she sees it. We could call our woman something
pleasant and everydayish, like Emily Brand. Easy to
remember. And until we can find her, I'll answer those
letters myself. They're important to us as well as to the
woman who writes them. And now, there's the matter of
obstetrical outfits. Three grades, packed ready for
shipment, practical, simple, and complete. Our drug section
has the separate articles, but we ought to--"
"Oh, lord!" groaned Slosson, and slumped disgustedly in his
But Fenger got up, came over to Fanny, and put a hand on her
shoulder for a moment. He looked down at her. "I knew
you'd do it." He smiled queerly. "Tell me, where did you
learn all this?"
"I don't know," faltered Fanny happily. "Brandeis' Bazaar,
perhaps. It's just another case of plush photograph album."
Fanny told him that story. Even the discomfited Slosson
grinned at it.
But after ten minutes more of general discussion Slosson
left. Fenger, without putting it in words, had
conveyed that to him. Fanny stayed. They did things
that way at Haynes-Cooper. No waste. No delay. That she
had accomplished in two months that which ordinarily takes
years was not surprising. They did things that way, too, at
Haynes-Cooper. Take the case of Nathan Haynes himself. And
Michael Fenger too who, not so many years before, had been a
machine-boy in a Racine woolen mill.
For my part, I confess that Fanny Brandeis begins to lose
interest for me. Big Business seems to dwarf the finer
things in her. That red-cheeked, shabby little schoolgirl,
absorbed in Zola and peanut brittle in the Winnebago
library, was infinitely more appealing than this glib and
capable young woman. The spitting wildcat of the street
fight so long ago was gentler by far than this cool person
who was so deliberately taking his job away from Slosson.
You, too, feel that way about her? That is as it should be.
It is the penalty they pay who, given genius, sympathy, and
understanding as their birthright, trade them for the tawdry
trinkets money brings.
Perhaps the last five minutes of that conference between
Fanny and Michael Fenger reveals a new side, and presents
something of interest. It was a harrowing and unexpected
You may remember how Michael Fenger had a way of looking at
one, silently. It was an intent and concentrated gaze that
had the effect of an actual physical hold. Most people
squirmed under it. Fanny, feeling it on her now, frowned
and rose to leave.
"Shall you want to talk these things over again? Of course
I've only outlined them, roughly. You gave me so little
Fenger, at his desk, did not answer, or turn away his gaze.
A little blaze of wrath flamed into Fanny's face.
"General manager or not," she said, very low-voiced,
"I wish you wouldn't sit and glower at me like that. It's
rude, and it's disconcerting," which was putting it
"I beg your pardon!" Fenger came swiftly around the desk,
and over to her. "I was thinking very hard. Miss Brandeis,
will you dine with me somewhere tonight? Then to-morrow
night? But I want to talk to you."
"Here I am. Talk."
"But I want to talk to--you."
It was then that Fanny Brandeis saved an ugly situation.
For she laughed, a big, wholesome, outdoors sort of laugh.
She was honestly amused.
"My dear Mr. Fenger, you've been reading the murky
magazines. Very bad for you."
Fenger was unsmiling: "Why won't you dine with me?"
"Because it would be unconventional and foolish. I respect
the conventions. They're so sensible. And because it would
be unfair to you, and to Mrs. Fenger, and to me."
"Rot! It's you who have the murky magazine viewpoint, as
you call it, when you imply--"
"Now, look here, Mr. Fenger," Fanny interrupted, quietly.
"Let's be square with each other, even if we're not being
square with ourselves. You're the real power in this plant,
because you've the brains. You can make any person in this
organization, or break them. That sounds melodramatic, but
it's true. I've got a definite life plan, and it's as
complete and detailed as an engineering blue print. I don't
intend to let you spoil it. I've made a real start here.
If you want to, I've no doubt you can end it. But before
you do, I want to warn you that I'll make a pretty stiff
fight for it. I'm no silent sufferer. I'll say things.
And people usually believe me when I talk."
Still the silent, concentrated gaze. With a little
impatient exclamation Fanny walked toward the door.
Fenger, startlingly light and agile for his great height,
"I'm sorry, Miss Brandeis, terribly sorry. You see, you
interest me very much. Very much."
"Don't go just yet. Please. I'm not a villain. Really.
That is, not a deliberate villain. But when I find
something very fine, very intricate, very fascinating and
complex--like those etchings, for example--I am intrigued.
I want it near me. I want to study it."
Fanny said nothing. But she thought, "This is a dangerously
clever man. Too clever for you. You know so little about
them." Fenger waited. Most women would have found refuge
in words. The wrong words. It is only the strong who can
be silent when in doubt.
"Perhaps you will dine with Mrs. Fenger and me at our home
some evening? Mrs. Fenger will speak to you about it."
"I'm afraid I'm usually too tired for further effort at the
end of the day. I'm sorry----"
"Some Sunday night perhaps, then. Tea."
"Thank you." And so out, past the spare secretary, the
anxious-browed stenographer, the academic office boy, to the
hallway, the elevator, and finally the refuge of her own
orderly desk. Slosson was at lunch in one of the huge
restaurants provided for employees in the building across
the street. She sat there, very still, for some minutes;
for more minutes than she knew. Her hands were clasped
tightly on the desk, and her eyes stared ahead in a puzzled,
resentful, bewildered way. Something inside her was saying
over and over again:
"You lied to him on that very first day. That placed you.
That stamped you. Now he thinks you're rotten all the way
through. You lied on the very first day."
Ella Monahan poked her head in at the door. The Gloves
were on that floor, at the far end. The two women rarely
saw each other, except at lunch time.
"Missed you at lunch," said Ella Monahan. She was a pink-
cheeked, bright-eyed woman of forty-one or two, prematurely
gray and therefore excessively young in her manner, as women
often are who have grown gray before their time.
Fanny stood up, hurriedly. "I was just about to go."
"Try the grape pie, dear. It's delicious." And strolled
off down the aisle that seemed to stretch endlessly ahead.
Fanny stood for a moment looking after her, as though
meaning to call her back. But she must have changed her
mind, because she said, "Oh, nonsense!" aloud. And went
across to lunch. And ordered grape pie. And enjoyed it.
The invitation to tea came in due time from Mrs. Fenger. A
thin, querulous voice over the telephone prepared one for
the thin, querulous Mrs. Fenger herself. A sallow,
plaintive woman, with a misbehaving valve. The valve, she
confided to Fanny, made any effort dangerous. Also it made
her susceptible to draughts. She wore over her shoulders a
scarf that was constantly slipping and constantly being
retrieved by Michael Fenger. The sight of this man, a
physical and mental giant, performing this task ever so
gently and patiently, sent a little pang of pity through
Fanny, as Michael Fenger knew it would. The Fengers lived
in an apartment on the Lake Shore Drive--an apartment such
as only Chicago boasts. A view straight across the lake,
rooms huge and many-windowed, a glass-enclosed sun-porch gay
with chintz and wicker, an incredible number of bathrooms.
The guests, besides Fanny, included a young pair, newly
married and interested solely in rents, hangings, linen
closets, and the superiority of the Florentine over the
Jacobean for dining room purposes; and a very scrubbed
looking, handsome, spectacled man of thirty-two or three who
was a mechanical engineer. Fanny failed to catch his name,
though she learned it later. Privately, she dubbed him
Fascinating Facts, and he always remained that. His
conversation was invariably prefaced with, "Funny thing
happened down at the works to-day." The rest of it sounded
like something one reads at the foot of each page of a
loose-leaf desk calendar.
At tea there was a great deal of silver, and lace, but Fanny
thought she could have improved on the chicken a la king.
It lacked paprika and personality. Mrs. Fenger was
constantly directing one or the other of the neat maids in
an irritating aside.
After tea Michael Fenger showed Fanny his pictures, not
boastfully, but as one who loves them reveals his treasures
to an appreciative friend. He showed her his library, too,
and it was the library of a reader. Fanny nibbled at it,
hungrily. She pulled out a book here, a book there, read a
paragraph, skimmed a page. There was no attempt at
classification. Lever rubbed elbows with Spinoza; Mark
Twain dug a facetious thumb into Haeckel's ribs. Fanny
wanted to sit down on the floor, legs crossed, before the
open shelves, and read, and read, and read. Fenger,
watching the light in her face, seemed himself to take on a
certain glow, as people generally did who found this girl in
sympathy with them.
They were deep in book talk when Fascinating Facts strolled
in, looking aggrieved, and spoiled it with the thoroughness
of one who never reads, and is not ashamed of it.
"My word, I'm having a rotten time, Fenger," he said,
plaintively. "They've got a tape-measure out of your wife's
sewing basket, those two in there, and they're down on their
hands and knees, measuring something. It has to do with
their rug, over your rug, or some such rot. And then you
take Miss Brandeis and go off into the library."
"Then stay here," said Fanny, "and talk books."
"My book's a blue-print," admitted Fascinating Facts,
cheerfully. "I never get time to read. There's enough
fiction, and romance, and adventure in my job to give me all
the thrill I want. Why, just last Tuesday--no, Thursday it
was--down at the works----"
Between Fanny and Fenger there flashed a look made up of
dismay, and amusement, and secret sympathy. It was a
look that said, "We both see the humor of this. Most people
wouldn't. Our angle is the same." Such a glance jumps the
gap between acquaintance and friendship that whole days of
spoken conversation cannot cover.
"Cigar?" asked Fenger, hoping to stay the flood.
"No, thanks. Say, Fenger, would there be a row if I smoked
"That black one? With the smell?"
"The black one, yes."
"There would." Fenger glanced in toward his wife, and
Fascinating Facts took his hand out of his pocket,
"Wouldn't it sour a fellow on marriage! Wouldn't it! First
those two in there, with their damned linen closets, and
their rugs--I beg your pardon, Miss Brandeis! And now your
missus objects to my pipe. You wouldn't treat me like that,
would you, Miss Brandeis?"
There was about him something that appealed--something
boyish and likeable.
"No, I wouldn't. I'd let you smoke a nargileh, if you
wanted to, surrounded by rolls of blue prints."
"I knew it. I'm going to drive you home for that."
And he did, in his trim little roadster. It is a fairy road
at night, that lake drive between the north and south sides.
Even the Rush street bridge cannot quite spoil it. Fanny
sat back luxuriously and let the soft splendor of the late
August night enfold her. She was intelligently
monosyllabic, while Fascinating Facts talked. At the door
of her apartment house (she had left the Mendota weeks
before) Fascinating Facts surprised her.
"I--I'd like to see you again, Miss Brandeis. If you'll let
"I'm so busy," faltered Fanny. Then it came to her that
perhaps he did not know. "I'm with Haynes-Cooper, you
know. Assistant buyer in the infants' wear department."