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Personality Plus by Edna Ferber

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[Illustration: "'What is this anyway? A George Cohan comedy?'"]

PERSONALITY PLUS

SOME EXPERIENCES OF EMMA McCHESNEY
AND HER SON, JOCK

By

EDNA FERBER

AUTHOR OF "DAWN O'HARA," "BUTTERED SIDE DOWN,"
"ROAST BEEF, MEDIUM," ETC.

_WITH FIFTEEN ILLUSTRATIONS BY
JAMES MONTGOMERY FLAGG_

NEW YORK
FREDERICK A. STOKES COMPANY
1914

CONTENTS

CHAPTER
I. MAKING GOOD WITH MOTHER

II. PERSONALITY PLUS

III. DICTATED BUT NOT READ

IV. THE MAN WITHIN HIM

V. THE SELF-STARTER

ILLUSTRATIONS

"'What is this anyway? A George Cohan comedy?'" _Frontispiece_

"'You're a jealous blond,' he laughed"

"He was the concentrated essence of do-it-now"

"'Hi! Hold that pose!' called Von Herman"

"With a jolt Jock realized she had forgotten all about him"

"'Well, raw-thah!' he drawled"

"... became in some miraculous way a little boy again"

"Jock McChesney began to carry a yellow walking stick down to
work"

"'Good Lord, Mother! Of course you don't mean it, but--'"

"'Greetings!'"

"She laid one hand very lightly on his arm and looked up into the
sullen, angry young face"

"He made straight for the main desk with its battalion of clerks"

"'Let's not waste any time,' he said"

"He found his mother on the floor ... surrounded by piles of
pajamas, socks, shirts and collars"

"'Well, you said you wanted somebody to worry about, didn't you?'"

PERSONALITY PLUS

I

MAKING GOOD WITH MOTHER

When men began to build cities vertically instead of horizontally
there passed from our highways a picturesque figure, and from our
language an expressive figure of speech. That oily-tongued,
persuasive, soft-stepping stranger in the rusty Prince Albert and
the black string tie who had been wont to haunt our back steps and
front offices with his carefully wrapped bundle, retreated in
bewildered defeat before the clanging blows of steel on steel that
meant the erection of the first twenty-story skyscraper. "As
slick," we used to say, "as a lightning-rod agent." Of what use
his wares on a building whose tower was robed in clouds and which
used the chain lightning for a necklace? The Fourth Avenue antique
dealer had another curio to add to his collection of andirons,
knockers, snuff boxes and warming pans.

But even as this quaint figure vanished there sprang up a new and
glittering one to take his place. He stood framed in the great
plate-glass window of the very building which had brought about
the defeat of his predecessor. A miracle of close shaving his face
was, and a marvel of immaculateness his linen. Dapper he was, and
dressy, albeit inclined to glittering effects and a certain
plethory at the back of the neck. Back of him stood shining shapes
that reflected his glory in enamel, and brass, and glass. His
language was floral, but choice; his talk was of gearings and
bearings and cylinders and magnetos; his method differed from that
of him who went before as the method of a skilled aeronaut differs
from that of the man who goes over Niagara in a barrel. And as he
multiplied and spread over the land we coined a new figure of
speech. "Smooth!" we chuckled. "As smooth as an automobile
salesman."

But even as we listened, fascinated by his fluent verbiage there
grew within us a certain resentment. Familiarity with his
glittering wares bred a contempt of them, so that he fell to
speaking of them as necessities instead of luxuries. He juggled
figures, and thought nothing of four of them in a row. We looked
at our five-thousand-dollar salary, so strangely shrunken and thin
now, and even as we looked we saw that the method of the unctuous,
anxious stranger had become antiquated in its turn.

Then from his ashes emerged a new being. Neither urger nor
spellbinder he. The twentieth century was stamped across his brow,
and on his lips was ever the word "Service." Silent, courteous,
watchful, alert, he listened, while you talked. His method, in
turn, made that of the silk-lined salesman sound like the hoarse
hoots of the ballyhoo man at a county fair. Blithely he accepted
five hundred thousand dollars and gave in return--a promise. And
when we would search our soul for a synonym to express all that
was low-voiced, and suave, and judicious, and patient, and sure,
we began to say, "As alert as an advertising expert."

Jock McChesney, looking as fresh and clear-eyed as only twenty-one
and a cold shower can make one look, stood in the doorway of his
mother's bedroom. His toilette had halted abruptly at the
bathrobe stage. One of those bulky garments swathed his slim
figure, while over his left arm hung a gray tweed Norfolk coat.
From his right hand dangled a pair of trousers, in pattern a
modish black-and-white.

Jock regarded the gray garment on his arm with moody eyes.

"Well, I'd like to know what's the matter with it!" he demanded, a
trifle irritably.

Emma McChesney, in the act of surveying her back hair in the
mirror, paused, hand glass poised half way, to regard her son.

"All right," she answered cheerfully. "I'll tell you. It's too
young."

"Young!" He held it at arm's length and stared at it. "What d'you
mean--young?"

Emma McChesney came forward, wrapping the folds of her kimono
about her. She took the disputed garment in one hand and held it
aloft. "I know that you look like a man on a magazine cover in it.
But Norfolk suits spell tennis, and seashore, and elegant leisure.
And you're going out this morning, Son, to interview business men.
You're going to try to impress the advertising world with the fact
that it needs your expert services. You walk into a business
office in a Norfolk suit, and everybody from the office boy to the
president of the company will ask you what your score is."

She tossed it back over his arm.

"I'll wear the black and white," said Jock resignedly, and turned
toward his own room. At his doorway he paused and raised his voice
slightly: "For that matter, they're looking for young men.
Everybody's young. Why, the biggest men in the advertising game
are just kids." He disappeared within his room, still talking.
"Look at McQuirk, advertising manager of the Combs Car Company.
He's so young he has to disguise himself in bone-trimmed
eye-glasses with a black ribbon to get away with it. Look at
Hopper, of the Berg, Shriner Company. Pulls down ninety thousand a
year, and if he's thirty-five I'll--"

"Well, you asked my advice," interrupted his mother's voice with
that muffled effect which is caused by a skirt being slipped over
the head, "and I gave it. Wear a white duck sailor suit with blue
anchors and carry a red tin pail and a shovel, if you want to look
young. Only get into it in a jiffy, Son, because breakfast will be
ready in ten minutes. I can tell by the way Annie's crashing the
cups. So step lively if you want to pay your lovely mother's
subway fare."

Ten minutes later the slim young figure, in its English-fitting
black and white, sat opposite Emma McChesney at the breakfast
table and between excited gulps of coffee outlined a meteoric
career in his chosen field. And the more he talked and the rosier
his figures of speech became, the more silent and thoughtful fell
his mother. She wondered if five o'clock would find a droop to the
set of those young shoulders; if the springy young legs in their
absurdly scant modish trousers would have lost some of their
elasticity; if the buoyant step in the flat-heeled shoes would not
drag a little. Thirteen years of business experience had taught
her to swallow smilingly the bitter pill of rebuff. But this boy
was to experience his first dose to-day. She felt again that
sensation of almost physical nausea--that sickness of heart and
spirit which had come over her when she had met her first sneer
and intolerant shrug. It had been her maiden trip on the road for
the T.A. Buck Featherloom Petticoat Company. She was secretary of
that company now, and moving spirit in its policy. But the wound
of that first insult still ached. A word from her would have
placed the boy and saved him from curt refusals. She withheld that
word. He must fight his fight alone.

"I want to write the kind of ad," Jock was saying excitedly, "that
you see 'em staring at in the subways, and street cars and
L-trains. I want to sit across the aisle and watch their up-turned
faces staring at that oblong, and reading it aloud to each other."

"Isn't that an awfully obvious necktie you're wearing, Jock?"
inquired his mother irrelevantly.

"This? You ought to see some of them. This is a Quaker stock in
comparison." He glanced down complacently at the vivid-hued silken
scarf that the season's mode demanded. Immediately he was off
again. "And the first thing you know, Mrs. McChesney, ma'am, we'll
have a motor truck backing up at the door once a month and six
strong men carrying my salary to the freight elevator in sacks."

Emma McChesney buttered her bit of toast, then looked up to remark
quietly:

"Hadn't you better qualify for the trial heats, Jock, before you
jump into the finals?"

"Trial heats!" sneered Jock. "They're poky. I want real money.
Now! It isn't enough to be just well-to-do in these days. It needs
money. I want to be rich! Not just prosperous, but rich! So rich
that I can let the bath soap float around in the water without any
pricks of conscience. So successful that they'll say, 'And he's a
mere boy, too. Imagine!'"

And, "Jock dear," Emma McChesney said, "you've still to learn that
plans and ambitions are like soap bubbles. The harder you blow and
the more you inflate them, the quicker they burst. Plans and
ambitions are things to be kept locked away in your heart, Son,
with no one but yourself to take an occasional peep at them."

Jock leaned over the table, with his charming smile. "You're a
jealous blonde," he laughed. "Because I'm going to be a captain of
finance--an advertising wizard; you're afraid I'll grab the glory
all away from you."

[Illustration: "'You're a jealous blond,' he said"]

Mrs. McChesney folded her napkin and rose. She looked unbelievably
young, and trim, and radiant, to be the mother of this boasting
boy.

"I'm not afraid," she drawled, a wicked little glint in her blue
eyes. "You see, they'll only regard your feats and say, 'H'm, no
wonder. He ought to be able to sell ice to an Eskimo. His mother
was Emma McChesney.'"

And then, being a modern mother, she donned smart autumn hat and
tailored suit coat and stood ready to reach her office by
nine-thirty. But because she was as motherly as she was modern she
swung open the door between kitchen and dining-room to advise with
Annie, the adept.

"Lamb chops to-night, eh, Annie? And sweet potatoes. Jock loves
'em. And corn au gratin and some head lettuce." She glanced toward
Jock in the hallway, then lowered her voice. "Annie," she teased,
"just give us one of your peach cobblers, will you? You see
he--he's going to be awfully--tired when he gets home."

So they went stepping off to work together, mother and son. A
mother of twenty-five years before would have watched her son
with tear-dimmed eyes from the vine-wreathed porch of a cottage.
There was no watching a son from the tenth floor of an up-town
apartment house. Besides, she had her work to do. The subway
swallowed both of them. Together they jostled and swung their way
down-town in the close packed train. At the Twenty-third Street
station Jock left her.

"You'll have dinner to-night with a full-fledged professional
gent," he bragged, in his youth and exuberance and was off down
the aisle and out on the platform. Emma McChesney managed to turn
in her nine-inch space of train seat so that she watched the slim,
buoyant young figure from the window until the train drew away and
he was lost in the stairway jam. Just so Rachel had watched the
boy Joseph go to meet the Persian caravans in the desert.

"Don't let them buffalo you, Jock," Emma had said, just before he
left her. "They'll try it. If they give you a broom and tell you
to sweep down the back stairs, take it, and sweep, and don't
forget the corners. And if, while you're sweeping, you notice that
that kind of broom isn't suited to the stairs go in and suggest a
new kind. They'll like it."

Brooms and back stairways had no place in Jock McChesney's mind as
the mahogany and gold elevator shot him up to the fourteenth floor
of the great office building that housed the Berg, Shriner
Company. Down the marble hallway he went and into the reception
room. A cruel test it was, that reception room, with the cruelty
peculiar to the modern in business. With its soft-shaded lamp, its
two-toned rug, its Jacobean chairs, its magazine-laden cathedral
oak table, its pot of bright flowers making a smart touch of color
in the somber richness of the room, it was no place for the
shabby, the down-and-out, the cringing, the rusty, or the
mendicant.

Jock McChesney, from the tips of his twelve-dollar shoes to his
radiant face, took the test and stood it triumphantly. He had
entered with an air in which was mingled the briskness of
assurance with the languor of ease. There were times when Jock
McChesney was every inch the son of his mother.

There advanced toward Jock a large, plump, dignified personage, a
personage courteous, yet reserved, inquiring, yet not offensively
curious--a very Machiavelli of reception-room ushers. Even while
his lips questioned, his eyes appraised clothes, character,
conduct.

"Mr. Hupp, please," said Jock, serene in the perfection of his
shirt, tie, collar and scarf pin, upon which the appraising eye
now rested. "Mr. McChesney." He produced a card.

"Appointment?"

"No--but he'll see me."

But Machiavelli had seen too many overconfident callers. Their
very confidence had taught him caution.

"If you will please state your--ah--business--"

Jock smiled a little patient smile and brushed an imaginary fleck
of dust from the sleeve of his very correct coat.

"I want to ask him for a job as office boy," he jibed.

An answering grin overspread the fat features of the usher. Even
an usher likes his little joke. The sense of humor dies hard.

"I have a letter from him, asking me to call," said Jock, to
clinch it.

"This way." The keeper of the door led Jock toward the sacred
inner portal and held it open. "Mr. Hupp's is the last door to the
right."

The door closed behind him. Jock found himself in the big, busy,
light-flooded central office. Down either side of the great room
ran a row of tiny private offices, each partitioned off, each
outfitted with desk, and chairs, and a big, bright window. On his
way to the last door at the right Jock glanced into each tiny
office, glimpsing busy men bent absorbedly over papers, girls busy
with dictation, here and there a door revealing two men, or three,
deep in discussion of a problem, heads close together, voices
low, faces earnest. It came suddenly to the smartly modish,
overconfident boy walking the length of the long room that
the last person needed in this marvelously perfected and
smooth-running organization was a somewhat awed young man named
Jock McChesney. There came to him that strange sensation which
comes to every job-hunter; that feeling of having his spiritual
legs carry him out of the room, past the door, down the hall and
into the street, even as, in reality, they bore him on to the very
presence which he dreaded and yet wished to see.

Two steps more, and he stood in the last doorway, right. No
matinee idol, nervously awaiting his cue in the wings, could have
planned his entrance more carefully than Jock had planned this.
Ease was the thing; ease, bordering on nonchalance, mixed with a
brisk and businesslike assurance.

The entrance was lost on the man at the desk. He did not even look
up. If Jock had entered on all-fours, doing a double tango to
vocal accompaniment, it is doubtful if the man at the desk would
have looked up. Pencil between his fingers, head held a trifle to
one side in critical contemplation of the work before him, eyes
narrowed judicially, lips pursed, he was the concentrated essence
of do-it-now.

[Illustration: "He was the concentrated essence of do-it-now"]

Jock waited a moment, in silence. The man at the desk worked on.
His head was semi-bald. Jock knew him to be thirty. Jock fixed his
eye on the semi-bald spot and spoke.

"My name's McChesney," he began. "I wrote you three days ago; you
probably will remember. You replied, asking me to call, and I--"

"Minute," exploded the man at the desk, still absorbed.

Jock faltered, stopped. The man at the desk did not look up. A
moment of silence, except for the sound of the busy pencil
traveling across the paper. Jock, glaring at the semi-bald spot,
spoke again.

"Of course, Mr. Hupp, if you're too busy to see me--"

"M-m-m-m," a preoccupied hum, such as a busy man makes when he is
trying to give attention to two interests.

"--why I suppose there's no sense in staying; but it seems to me
that common courtesy--"

The busy pencil paused, quivered in the making of a final period,
enclosed the dot in a proofreader's circle, and rolled away across
the desk, its work done.

"Now," said Sam Hupp, and swung around, smiling, to face the
affronted Jock. "I had to get that out. They're waiting for it."
He pressed a desk button. "What can I do for you? Sit down, sit
down."

There was a certain abrupt geniality about him. His
tortoise-rimmed glasses gave him an oddly owlish look, like a
small boy taking liberties with grandfather's spectacles.

Jock found himself sitting down, his anger slipping from him.

"My name's McChesney," he began. "I'm here because I want to work
for this concern." He braced himself to present the convincing,
reason-why arguments with which he had prepared himself.

Whereupon Sam Hupp, the brisk, proceeded to whisk his breath and
arguments away with an unexpected:

"All right. What do you want to do?"

Jock's mouth fell open. "Do!" he stammered. "Do! Why--anything--"

Sam Hupp's quick eye swept over the slim, attractive, radiant,
correctly-garbed young figure before him. Unconsciously he rubbed
his bald spot with a rueful hand.

"Know anything about writing, or advertising?"

Jock was at ease immediately. "Quite a lot; yes. I practically
rewrote the Gridiron play that we gave last year, and I was
assistant advertising manager of the college publications for
two years. That gives a fellow a pretty broad knowledge of
advertising."

"Oh, Lord!" groaned Sam Hupp, and covered his eyes with his hand,
as if in pain.

Jock stared. The affronted feeling was returning. Sam Hupp
recovered himself and smiled a little wistfully.

"McChesney, when I came up here twelve years ago I got a job as
reception-room usher. A reception-room usher is an office boy in
long pants. Sometimes, when I'm optimistic, I think that if I live
twelve years longer I'll begin to know something about the
rudiments of this game."

"Oh, of course," began Jock, apologetically. But Hupp's glance was
over his head. Involuntarily Jock turned to follow the direction
of his eyes.

"Busy?" said a voice from the doorway.

"Come in, Dutch! Come in!" boomed Hupp.

The man who entered was of the sort that the boldest might well
hesitate to address as "Dutch"--a tall, slim, elegant figure,
Van-dyked, bronzed.

"McChesney, this is Von Herman, head of our art department."

Their hands met in a brief clasp. Von Herman's thoughts were
evidently elsewhere.

"Just wanted to tell you that that cussed model's skipped out.
Gone with a show. Just when I had the whole series blocked out in
my mind. He was a wonder. No brains, but a marvel for looks and
style. These people want real stuff. Don't know how I'm going to
give it to them now."

Hupp sat up. "Got to!" he snapped. "Campaign's late, as it is.
Can't you get an ordinary man model and fake the Greek god
beauty?"

"Yes--but it'll look faked. If I could lay my hands on a chap who
could wear clothes as if they belonged to him--"

Hupp rose. "Here's your man," he cried, with a snap of his
fingers. "Clothes! Look at him. He invented 'em. Why, you could
photograph him and he'd look like a drawing."

Von Herman turned, surprised, incredulous, hopeful, his artist eye
brightening at the ease and grace and modishness of the smart,
well-knit figure before him.

"Me!" exploded Jock, his face suffused with a dull, painful red.
"Me! Pose! For a clothing ad!"

"Well," Hupp reminded him, "you said you'd do anything."

Jock McChesney glared belligerently. Hupp returned the stare with
a faint gleam of amusement shining behind the absurd glasses. The
amused look changed to surprise as he beheld the glare in Jock's
eyes fading. For even as he glared there had come a warning to
Jock--a warning sent just in time from that wireless station
located in his subconscious mind. A vivid face, full of pride, and
hope, and encouragement flashed before him.

"Jock," it said, "don't let 'em buffalo you. They'll try it. If
they give you a broom and tell you to sweep down the back
stairs--"

Jock was smiling his charming, boyish smile.

"Lead me to your north light," he laughed at Von Herman. "Got any
Robert W. Chambers's heroines tucked away there?"

Hupp's broad hand came down on his shoulder with a thwack. "That's
the spirit, McChesney! That's the--" He stopped, abruptly. "Say,
are you related to Mrs. Emma McChesney, of the Featherloom Skirt
Company?"

"Slightly. She's my one and only mother."

"She--you mean--her son! Well I'll be darned!" He held out his
hand to Jock. "If you're a real son of your mother I wish you'd
just call the office boy as you step down the hall with Von Herman
and tell him to bring me a hammer and a couple of spikes. I'd
better nail down my desk."

"I'll promise not to crowd you for a year or two," grinned Jock
from the doorway, and was off with the pleased Von Herman.

Past the double row of beehives again, into the elevator, out
again, up a narrow iron stairway, into a busy, cluttered,
skylighted room. Pictures, posters, photographs hung all about.
Some of the pictures Jock recognized as old friends that had gazed
familiarly at him from subway trains and street cars and theater
programmes. Golf clubs, tennis rackets, walking sticks, billiard
cues were stacked up in corners. And yet there was a bare and
orderly look about the place. Two silent, shirt-sleeved men were
busy at drawing boards. Through a doorway beyond Jock could see
others similarly engaged in the next room. On a platform in one
corner of the room posed a young man in one of those costumes the
coat of which is a mongrel mixture of cutaway and sack. You see
them worn by clergymen with unsecular ideas in dress, and by the
leader of the counterfeiters' gang in the moving pictures. The
pose was that met with in the backs of magazines--the head lifted,
eyes fixed on an interesting object unseen, one arm crooked to
hold a cane, one foot advanced, the other trailing slightly to
give a Fifth Avenue four o'clock air. His face was expressionless.
On his head was a sadly unironed silk hat.

Von Herman glanced at the drawing tacked to the board of one of
the men. "That'll do, Flynn," he said to the model. He glanced
again at the drawing. "Bring out the hat a little more, Mack. They
won't burnish it if you don't,"--to the artist. Then, turning
about, "Where's that girl?"

From a far corner, sheltered by long green curtains, stepped a
graceful almost childishly slim figure in a bronze-green Norfolk
suit and close-fitting hat from beneath which curled a fluff of
bright golden hair. Von Herman stared at her.

"You're not the girl," he said. "You won't do."

"You sent for me," retorted the girl. "I'm Miss Michelin--Gelda
Michelin. I posed for you six months ago, but I've been out of
town with the show since then."

Von Herman, frowning, opened a table drawer, pulled out a card
index, ran his long fingers through it and extracted a card. He
glanced at it, and then, the frown deepening, read it aloud.

"'Michelin, Gelda. Telephone Bryant 4759. Brunette. Medium build.
Good neck and eyes. Good figure. Good clothes.'"

He glanced up. "Well?"

"That's me," said Miss Michelin calmly. "I've got the same
telephone number and eyes and neck and clothes. Of course my hair
is different and I am thinner, but that's business. I'd like to
know what chance a fat girl would have in the chorus these days."

Von Herman groaned. "I'll pay you for the time you've waited and
for your trouble. Can't use you for these pictures." Then as she
left he turned a comically despairing face to the two men at the
drawing boards. "What are we going to do? We've got to make a
start on these pictures and everything has gone wrong. They want
something special. Two figures, young man and woman. Said
expressly they didn't want a chicken. No romping curls and none of
that eyes and lips fool-girl stuff. This chap's ideal for the
man." He pointed to Jock.

Jock had been staring, fascinated, at the shaded, zigzag marks
which the artist--dark-skinned, velvet-eyed, foreign-looking
youth--was making on the sheet of paper before him. He had
scarcely glanced up during the entire scene. Now he looked briefly
and coolly at Jock.

"Where did you get him?" he asked, with the precise enunciation of
the foreign-born. "Good figure. And he wears his clothes not like
a cab driver, as the others do."

"Thanks," drawled Jock, flushing a little. Then, boyish curiosity
getting the better of him, "Say, tell me, what in the world are
you doing to that drawing?"

He of the velvety eyes smiled a twisted little smile. His slim
brown fingers never stopped in their work of guiding the pen in
its zigzag path.

"It is work," he sneered, "to delight the soul of an artist. I am
now engaged in the pleasing task of putting the bones in a
herringbone suit."

But Jock did not smile. Here was another man, he thought, who had
been given a broom and told to sweep down the stairway.

Von Herman was regarding him almost wistfully. "I hate to let you
slip," he said. Then, his face brightening, "By Jove! I wonder if
Miss Galt would pose for us if we told her what a fix we were in."

He picked up the telephone receiver. "Miss Galt, please," he said.
Then, aside, "Of course it's nerve to ask a girl who's earning
three thousand a year to leave her desk and come up and pose
for--Hello! Miss Galt?"

Jock, seated on the edge of the models' platform, was beginning to
enjoy himself. Even this end of the advertising business had its
interesting side, he thought. Ten minutes later he knew it had.

Ten minutes later there appeared Miss Galt. Jock left off
swinging his legs from the platform and stood up. Miss Galt was
that kind of girl. Smooth black hair parted and coiled low as only
an exquisitely shaped head can dare to wear its glory-crown. A
face whose expression was sweetly serious in spite of its youth. A
girl whose clothes were the sort of clothes that girls ought to
wear in offices, and don't.

"This is mighty good of you, Miss Galt," began Von Herman. "It's
the Kool Komfort Klothes Company's summer campaign stuff. We'll
only need you for an hour or so--to get the expression and general
outline. Poster stuff, really. Then this young man will pose for
the summer union suit pictures."

"Don't apologize," said Miss Galt. "We had a hard enough time to
get that Kool Komfort account. We don't want to start wrong with
the pictures. Besides, I think posing's real fun."

Jock thought so too, quite suddenly. Just as suddenly Von Herman
remembered the conventions and introduced them.

"McChesney?" repeated Miss Galt, crisply. "I know a Mrs.
McChesney, of the T.A. Buck--"

"My mother," proudly.

"Your mother! Then why--" She stopped.

"Because," said Jock, "I'm the rawest rooky in the Berg, Shriner
Company. And when I begin to realize what I don't know about
advertising I'll probably want to plunge off the Palisades."

Miss Galt smiled up at him, her clear, frank eyes meeting his.

"You'll win," she said.

"Even if I lose--I win now," said Jock, suddenly audacious.

"Hi! Hold that pose!" called Von Herman, happily.

[Illustration: "'Hi! Hold that pose!' called Von Herman"]

II

PERSONALITY PLUS

There are seven stages in the evolution of that individual whose
appearance is the signal for a listless "Who-do-you-want-to-see?"
from the white-bloused, drab-haired, anaemic little girl who sits
in the outer office forever reading last month's magazines. The
badge of fear brands the novice. Standing hat in hand, nervous,
apprehensive, gulpy, with the elevator door clanging behind him,
and the sacred inner door closed before him, he offers up a silent
and paradoxical "Thank heaven!" at the office girl's languid "Not
in," and dives into the friendly shelter of the next elevator
going down. When, at that same message, he can smile, as with a
certain grim agreeableness he says, "I'll wait," then has he
reached the seventh stage, and taken the orders of the regularly
ordained.

Jock McChesney had learned to judge an unknown prospective by
glancing at his hall rug and stenographer, which marks the fifth
stage. He had learned to regard office boys with something less
than white-hot hate. He had learned to let the other fellow do the
talking. He had learned to condense a written report into
twenty-five words. And he had learned that there was as much
difference between the profession of advertising as he had thought
of it and advertising as it really was, as there is between a
steam calliope and a cathedral pipe organ.

In the big office of the Berg, Shriner Advertising Company they
had begun to chuckle a bit over the McChesney solicitor's reports.
Those same reports indicated that young McChesney was beginning to
find the key to that maddening jumble of complexities known as
human nature. Big Sam Hupp, who was the pet caged copy-writing
genius of the place, used even to bring an occasional example of
Jock's business badinage into the Old Man's office, and the two
would grin in secret. As when they ran thus:

_Pepsinale Manufacturing Company_:

Mr. Bowser is the kind of gentleman who curses his
subordinates in front of the whole office force. Very touchy.
Crumpled his advertising manager. Our chance to get at him is
when he is in one of his rare good humors.

Or:

_E.V. Kreiss Company_:

Kreiss very difficult to reach. Permanent address seems to be
Italy, Egypt, and other foreign ports. Occasionally his
instructions come from Palm Beach.

At which there rose up before the reader a vision of Kreiss
himself--baggy-eyed, cultivated English accent, interested in
polo, fast growing contemptuous of things American.

Or still another:

_Hodge Manufacturing Company:_

Mr. Hodge is a very conservative gentleman. Sits still and
lets others do the talking. Has gained quite a reputation for
business acumen with this one attribute. Spent $500 last year.
Holding his breath preparatory to taking another plunge.

It was about the time that Jock McChesney had got over the novelty
of paying for his own clothes, and had begun to talk business in a
slightly patronizing way to his clever and secretly amused mother,
Mrs. Emma McChesney, secretary of the T.A. Buck Featherloom
Petticoat Company, that Sam Hupp noticed a rather cocky
over-assurance in Jock's attitude toward the world in general.
Whereupon he sent for him.

On Sam Hupp's broad flat desk stood an array of diminutive jars,
and bottles, and tiny pots that would have shamed the toilette
table of a musical comedy star's dressing-room. There were
rose-tinted salves in white bottles. There were white creams in
rose-tinted jars. There were tins of ointment and boxes of
fragrant soap.

Jock McChesney, entering briskly, eyed the array in some surprise.
Then he grinned, and glanced wickedly at Sam Hupp's prematurely
bald head.

"No use, Mr. Hupp. They say if it's once gone it's gone. Get a
toupee."

"Shut up!" growled Sam Hupp, good-humoredly. "Stay in this game
long enough and you'll be a hairless wonder yourself. Ten years
ago the girls used to have to tie their hands or wear mittens to
keep from running their white fingers through my waving silken
locks. Sit down a minute."

Jock reached forward and took up a jar of cream. He frowned in
thought. Then: "Thought I recognized this stuff. Mother uses it.
I've seen it on the bathroom shelf."

"You bet she uses it," retorted Sam Hupp. "What's more, millions
of other women will be using it in the next few years. This
woman," he pointed to the name on the label, "has hit upon the
real thing in toilette flub-dub. She's made a little fortune
already, and if she don't look out she'll be rich. They've got
quite a plant. When she started she used to put the stuff together
herself over the kitchen stove. They say it's made of cottage
cheese, stirred smooth and tinted pink. Well, anyway they're
nationally known now--or will be when they start to advertise
right."

"I've seen some of their stuff advertised--somewhere," interrupted
Jock, "but I don't remember--"

"There you are. You see the head of this concern is a little bit
frightened at the way she seems slated to become a lady cold cream
magnate. They say she's scared pink for fear somebody will steal
her recipes. She has a kid nephew who acts as general manager, and
they're both on the job all the time. They say the lady herself
looks like the spinster in a b'gosh drama. You can get a boy to
look up your train schedule."

Train! Schedule! Across Jock McChesney's mind there flashed a
vision of himself, alert, confident, brisk, taking the luxurious
nine o'clock for Philadelphia. Or, maybe, the Limited to Chicago.
Dashing down to the station in a taxi, of course. Strolling down
the car aisle to take his place among those other thoroughbreds of
commerce--men whose chamois gloves and walking sticks, and talk of
golf and baseball and motoring spelled elegant leisure, even as
their keen eyes and shrewd faces and low-voiced exchange of such
terms as "stocks," and "sales" and "propositions" proclaimed them
intent on bagging the day's business. Sam Hupp's next words
brought him back to reality with a jerk.

"I think you have to change at Buffalo. It gets you to Tonawanda
in the morning. Rotten train."

"Tonawanda!" repeated Jock.

"Now listen, kid." Sam Hupp leaned forward, and his eyes behind
their great round black-rimmed glasses were intent on Jock. "I'm
not going to try to steer you. You think that advertising is a
game. It isn't. There are those who think it's a science. But it
isn't that either. It's white magic, that's what it is. And you
can't learn it from books, any more than you can master trout
fishing from reading 'The Complete Angler.'" He swung about and
swept the beauty lotions before him in a little heap at the end of
his desk. "Here, take this stuff. And get chummy with it. Eat it,
if necessary; learn it somehow."

Jock stood up, a little dazed. "But, what!--How?--I mean--"

Sam Hupp glanced up at him. "Sending you down there isn't my idea.
It's the Old Man's. He's got an idea that you--" He paused and put
a detaining hand on Jock McChesney's arm. "Look here. You think I
know a little something about advertising, don't you?"

"You!" laughed Jock. "You're the guy who put the whitening in the
Great White Way. Everybody knows you were the--"

"M-m-m, thanks," interrupted Sam Hupp, a little dryly. "Let me
tell you something, young 'un. I've got what you might call a
thirty-horse-power mind. I keep it running on high all the time,
with the muffler cut out, and you can hear me coming for miles.
But the Old Man,"--he leaned forward impressively,--"the Old Man,
boy, has the eighty-power kind, built like a watch--no smoke, no
dripping, and you can't even hear the engine purr. But when he
throws her open! Well, he can pass everything on the road. Don't
forget that." He turned to his desk again and reached for a stack
of papers and cuts. "Good luck to you. If you want any further
details you can get 'em from Hayes." He plunged into his work.

There arose in Jock McChesney's mind that instinct of the man in
his hour of triumph--the desire to tell a woman of his greatness.
He paused a second outside Sam Hupp's office, turned, and walked
quickly down the length of the great central room. He stopped
before a little glass door at the end, tapped lightly, and
entered.

Grace Galt, copy-writer, looked up, frowning a little. Then she
smiled. Miss Galt had a complete layout on the desk before
her--scrap books, cuts, copy, magazines. There was a little smudge
on the end of her nose. Grace Galt was writing about magnetos.
She was writing about magnetos in a way to make you want to drop
your customer, or your ironing, or your game, and go downtown and
buy that particular kind of magneto at once. Which is the
secretest part of the wizardry of advertising copy. To look at
Grace Galt you would have thought that she should have been
writing about the rose-tinted jars in Jock McChesney's hands
instead of about such things as ignition, and insulation, and ball
bearings, and induction windings. But it was Grace Galt's gift
that she could take just such hard, dry, technical facts and weave
them into a story that you followed to the end. She could make you
see the romance in condensers and transformers. She had the power
that caused the reader to lose himself in the charm of magnetic
poles, and ball bearings, and high-tension sparks.

"Just dropped in to say good-by," said Jock, very casually. "Going
to run up-state to see the Athena Company--toilette specialties,
you know. It ought to be a big account."

"Athena?" Grace Galt regarded him absently, her mind still on her
work. Then her eyes cleared. "You mean at Tonawanda? And they're
sending you! Well!" She put out a congratulatory hand. Jock
gripped it gratefully.

"Not so bad, eh?" he boasted.

"Bad!" echoed Grace Galt. Her face became serious. "Do you realize
that there are men in this office who have been here for five
years, six years, or even more, and who have never been given a
chance to do anything but stenography, or perhaps some private
secretarying?"

"I know it," agreed Jock. But there was no humbleness in his tone.
He radiated self-satisfaction. He seemed to grow and expand before
her eyes. A little shadow of doubt crept across Grace Galt's
expression of friendly interest.

"Are you scared," she asked; "just the least bit?"

Jock flushed a little. "Well," he confessed ruefully, "I don't
mind telling you I am--a little."

"Good!"

"Good?"

"Yes. The head of that concern is a woman. That's one reason why
they didn't send me, I suppose. I--I'd like to say something, if
you don't mind."

"Anything you like," said Jock graciously.

"Well, then, don't be afraid of being embarrassed and fussed. If
you blush and stammer a little, she'll like it. Play up the coy
stuff."

"The coy stuff!" echoed Jock. "I hadn't thought much about my
attitude toward the--er--the lady,"--a little stiffly.

"Well, you'd better," answered Miss Galt crisply. She put out her
hand in much the same manner as Sam Hupp had used. "Good luck to
you. I'll have to ask you to go now. I'm trying to make this
magneto sound like something without which no home is complete,
and to make people see that there's as much difference between it
and every other magneto as there is between the steam shovels that
dug out the Panama Canal and the junk that the French left
there--" She stopped. Her eyes took on a far-away look. Her lips
were parted slightly. "Why, that's not a bad idea--that last. I'll
use that. I'll--"

[Illustration: "With a jolt Jock realized she had forgotten all
about him"]

She began to scribble rapidly on the sheet of paper before her.
With a jolt Jock McChesney realized that she had forgotten all
about him. He walked quietly to the door, opened it, shut it very
quietly, then made for the nearest telephone. He knew one woman he
could count on to be proud of him. He gave his number, waited a
little eager moment, then:

"Featherloom Petticoat Company? Mrs. McChesney." And waited again.
Then he smiled.

"You needn't sound so official," he laughed; "it's only your son.
Listen. I"--he took on an elaborate carelessness of tone--"I've
got to take a little jump out of town. On business. Oh, a day or
so. Rather important though. I'll have time to run up to the flat
and throw a few things into a bag. I'll tell you, I really ought
to keep a bag packed down here. In case of emergency, you know.
What? It's the Athena Toilette Preparations Company. Well, I
should say it is! I'll wire you. You bet. Thanks. My what? Oh,
toothbrush. No. Good-by."

So it was that at three-ten Jock McChesney took himself, his
hopes, his dread, and his smart walrus bag aboard a train that
halted and snuffed and backed, and bumped and halted with
maddening frequency. But it landed him at last in a little town
bearing the characteristics of all American little towns. It was
surprisingly full of six-cylinder cars, and five and ten-cent
stores, and banks with Doric columns, and paved streets.

After he had registered at the hotel, and as he was cleaning up a
bit, he passed an amused eye over the bare, ugly, fusty little
hotel bedroom. But somehow, as he stood in the middle of the room,
a graceful, pleasing figure of youth and confidence, the smile
faded. Towel in hand he surveyed the barrenness of it. He stared
at the impossible wall paper, at the battered furniture, the worn
carpet. He sniffed the stuffy smell of--what was that smell,
anyhow?--straw, and matting, and dust, and the ghost-odor of
hundreds who had occupied the room before him. It came over him
with something of a shock that this same sort of room had been his
mother's only home in the ten years she had spent on the road as a
traveling saleswoman for the T.A. Buck Featherloom Petticoat
Company. This was what she had left in the morning. To this she
had come back at night. As he stared ahead of him there rose
before him a mental picture of her--the brightness of her, the
sunniness, the indomitable energy, and pluck, and courage. With a
sudden burst of new determination he wadded the towel into a moist
ball, flung it at the washstand, seized hat, coat, and gloves, and
was off down the hall. So it was with something of his mother's
splendid courage in his heart, but with nothing of her canny
knowledge in his head, Jock McChesney fared forth to do battle
with the merciless god Business.

It was ten-thirty of a brilliant morning just two days later that
a buoyant young figure swung into an elevator in the great office
building that housed the Berg, Shriner Advertising Company. Just
one more grain of buoyant swing and the young man's walk might
have been termed a swagger. As it was, his walrus bag just saved
him.

Stepping out of the lift he walked, as from habit, to the little
unlettered door which admitted employes to the big, bright, inner
office. But he did not use it. Instead he turned suddenly and
walked down the hall to the double door which led into the
reception room. He threw out his legs stiffly and came down rather
flat-footed, the way George Cohan does when he's pleased with
himself in the second act.

"Hel-lo, Mack!" he called out jovially.

Mack, the usher, so called from his Machiavellian qualities,
turned to survey the radiant young figure before him.

"Good morning, Mr. McChesney," he made answer smoothly. Mack
never forgot himself. His keen eye saw the little halo of
self-satisfaction that hovered above Jock McChesney's head. "A
successful trip, I see."

Jock McChesney laughed a little, pleased, conscious laugh. "Well,
raw-thah!" he drawled, and opened the door leading into the main
office. He had been loath to lose one crumb of the savor of it.

[Illustration: "'Well, raw-thah!' he drawled"]

Still smiling, he walked to his own desk, with a nod here and
there, dropped his bag, took off coat and hat, selected a
cigarette, tapped it smartly, lighted it, and was off down the big
room to the little cubby-hole at the other end. But Sam Hupp's
plump, keen, good-humored face did not greet him as he entered.
The little room was deserted. Frowning, Jock sank into the empty
desk chair. He cradled his head in his hands, tilted the chair,
pursed his mouth over the slender white cylinder and squinted his
eyes up toward the lazy blue spirals of smoke--the very picture
of content and satisfaction.

Hupp was in attending some conference in the Old Man's office, of
course. He wished they'd hurry. The business of the week was being
boiled-down there. Those conferences were great cauldrons into
which the day's business, or the week's, was dumped, to be boiled,
simmered, stirred, skimmed, cooled. Jock had never been privileged
to attend one of these meetings. Perhaps by this time next week he
might have a spoon in the stirring too--

There came the murmur of voices as a door was opened. The voices
came nearer. Then quick footsteps. Jock recognized them. He rose,
smiling. Sam Hupp, vibrating electric energy, breezed in.

"Oh--hello!" he said, surprised. Jock's smile widened to a grin.
"You back?"

"Hello, Hupp," he said, coolly. It was the first time that he had
omitted the prefix. "You just bet I'm back."

There flashed across Sam Hupp's face a curious little look. The
next instant it was gone.

"Well," said Jock, and took a long breath.

"Mr. Berg wants to see you."

Hupp plunged into his work.

"Me? The Old Man wants to see me?"

"Yes," snapped Hupp shortly. Then, in a new tone, "Look here, son.
If he says--" He stopped, and turned back to his work again.

"If he says what?"

"Nothing. Better run along."

"What's the hurry? I want to tell you about--"

"Better tell him."

"Oh, all right," said Jock stiffly. If that was the way they
treated a fellow who had turned his first real trick, why, very
well. He flung out of the little room and made straight for the
Old Man's office.

Seated at his great flat table desk, Bartholomew Berg did not look
up as Jock entered. This was characteristic of the Old Man.
Everything about the chief was deliberate, sure, unhurried. He
finished the work in hand as though no other person stood there
waiting his pleasure. When at last he raised his massive head he
turned his penetrating pale blue eyes full on Jock. Jock was
conscious of a little tremor running through him. People were apt
to experience that feeling when that steady, unblinking gaze was
turned upon them. And yet it was just the clear, unwavering look
with which Bartholomew Berg, farmer boy, had been wont to gaze out
across the fresh-plowed fields to the horizon beyond which lay the
city he dreamed about.

"Tell me your side of it," said Bartholomew Berg tersely.

"All of it?" Jock's confidence was returning.

"Till I stop you."

"Well," began Jock. And standing there at the side of the Old
Man's desk, his legs wide apart, his face aglow, his hands on his
hips, he plunged into his tale.

"It started off with a bang from the minute I walked into the
office of the plant and met Snyder, the advertising manager. We
shook hands and sparked--just like that." He snapped thumb and
finger. "What do you think! We belong to the same frat! He's '93.
Inside of ten minutes he and I were Si-washing around like mad. He
introduced me to his aunt. I told her who I was, and all that. But
I didn't start off by talking business. We got along from the
jump. They both insisted on showing me through the place.
I--well,"--he laughed a little ruefully,--"there's something
about being shown through a factory that sort of paralyzes my
brain. I always feel that I ought to be asking keen, alert,
intelligent questions like the ones Kipling always asks, or the
Japs when they're taken through the Stock Yards. But I never can
think of any. Well, we didn't talk business much. But I could see
that they were interested. They seemed to,"--he faltered and
blushed a little,--"to like me, you know. I played golf with
Snyder that afternoon and he beat me. Won two balls. The next
morning I found there's been a couple of other advertising men
there. And while I was talking to Snyder--he was telling me about
the time he climbed up and muffled the chapel bell--that fellow
Flynn, of the Dowd Agency, came in. Snyder excused himself, and
talked to him for--oh, half an hour, perhaps. But that was all. He
was back again in no time. After that it looked like plain
sailing. We got along wonderfully. When I left I said, 'I expect
to know you both better--'"

"I guess," interrupted the Old Man slowly, "that you'll know them
better all right." He reached out with one broad freckled hand
and turned back the page of a desk memorandum. "The Athena account
was given to the Dowd Advertising Agency yesterday."

It took Jock McChesney one minute--one long, sickening minute--to
grasp the full meaning of it all. He stared at the massive figure
before him, his mouth ludicrously open, his eyes round, his breath
for the moment suspended. Then, in a queer husky voice:

"D'you mean--the Dowd--but--they couldn't--"

"I mean," said Bartholomew Berg, "that you've scored what the
dramatic critics call a personal hit; but that doesn't get the box
office anything."

"But, Mr. Berg, they said--"

"Sit down a minute, boy." He waved one great heavy hand toward a
near-by chair. His eyes were not fixed on Jock. They gazed out of
the window toward the great white tower toward which hundreds of
thousands of eyes were turned daily--the tower, four-faced but
faithful.

"McChesney, do you know why you fell down on that Athena account?"

"Because I'm an idiot," blurted Jock. "Because I'm a
double-barreled, corn-fed, hand-picked chump and--"

"That's one reason," drawled the Old Man grimly. "But it's not the
chief one. The real reason why you didn't land that account was
because you're too darned charming."

"Charming!" Jock stared.

"Just that. Personality's one of the biggest factors in business
to-day. But there are some men who are so likable that it actually
counts against them. The client he's trying to convince is so
taken with him that he actually forgets the business he
represents. We say of a man like that that he is personality plus.
Personality is like electricity, McChesney. It's got to be tamed
to be useful."

"But I thought," said Jock, miserably, "that the idea was not to
talk business all the time."

"You've got it," agreed Berg. "But you must think it all the time.
Every minute. It's got to be working away in the back of your
head. You know it isn't always the biggest noise that gets the
biggest result. The great American hen yields a bigger income than
the Steel Trust. Look at Miss Galt. When we have a job that needs
a woman's eye do we send her? No. Why? Because she's too blame
charming. Too much personality. A man just naturally refuses to
talk business to a pretty woman unless she's so smart that--"

"My mother," interrupted Jock, suddenly, and then stopped,
surprised at himself.

"Your mother," said Bartholomew Berg slowly, "is one woman in a
million. Don't ever forget that. They don't turn out models like
Emma McChesney more than once every blue moon."

Jock got to his feet slowly. He felt heavy, old. "I suppose," he
began, "that this ends my--my advertising career."

"Ends it!" The Old Man stood up and put a heavy hand on the boy's
shoulder. "It only begins it. Unless you want to lie down and
quit. Do you?"

"Quit!" cried Jock McChesney. "Quit! Not on your white space!"

"Good!" said Bartholomew Berg, and took Jock McChesney's hand in
his own great friendly grasp.

An instinct as strong as that which had made him blatant in his
hour of triumph now caused him to avoid, in his hour of defeat,
the women-folk before whom he would fain be a hero. He avoided
Grace Galt all that long, dreary afternoon. He thought wildly of
staying down-town for the evening, of putting off the meeting with
his mother, of avoiding the dreaded explanations, excuses,
confessions.

But when he let himself into the flat at five-thirty the place was
very quiet, except for Annie, humming in a sort of nasal singsong
of content in the kitchen.

He flicked on the light in the living-room. A new magazine had
come. It lay on the table, its bright cover staring up invitingly.
He ran through its pages. By force of habit he turned to the back
pages. Ads started back at him--clothing ads, paint ads, motor
ads, ads of portable houses, and vacuum cleaners--and toilette
preparations. He shut the magazine with a vicious slap.

He flicked off the light again, for no reason except that he
seemed to like the dusk. In his own bedroom it was very quiet.

He turned on the light there, too, then turned it off. He sat down
at the edge of his bed. How was it in the stories? Oh, yes! The
cub always started out on an impossibly difficult business stunt
and came back triumphant, to be made a member of the firm at once.

A vision of his own roseate hopes and dreams rose up before him.
It grew very dark in the little room, then altogether dark. Then
an impudent square of yellow from a light turned on in the
apartment next door flung itself on the bedroom floor. Jock stared
at it moodily.

A key turned in the lock. A door opened and shut. A quick step.
Then: "Jock!" A light flashed in the living-room.

Jock sat up suddenly. He opened his mouth to answer. There issued
from his throat a strange and absurd little croak.

"Jock! Home?"

"Yes," answered Jock, and straightened up. But before he could
flick on his own light his mother stood in the doorway, a tall,
straight, buoyant figure.

"I got your wire and--Why, dear! In the dark! What--"

"Must have fallen asleep, I guess," muttered Jock. Somehow he
dreaded to turn on the lights.

And then, very quietly, Emma McChesney came in. She found him,
there in the dark, as surely as a mother bear finds her cubs in a
cave. She sat down beside him at the edge of the bed and put her
hand on his shoulder, and brought his head down gently to her
breast. And at that the room, which had been a man's room with its
pipe, its tobacco jar, its tie rack filled with cravats of
fascinating shapes and hues, became all at once a boy's room
again, and the man sitting there with straight, strong shoulders
and his little air of worldliness became in some miraculous way a
little boy again.

[Illustration: "... became in some miraculous way a little boy
again"]

III

DICTATED BUT NOT READ

About the time that Jock McChesney began to carry a yellow
walking-stick down to work each morning his mother noticed a
growing tendency on his part to patronize her. Now Mrs. Emma
McChesney, successful, capable business woman that she was, could
afford to regard her young son's attitude with a quiet and deep
amusement. In twelve years Emma McChesney had risen from the
humble position of stenographer in the office of the T.A. Buck
Featherloom Petticoat Company to the secretaryship of the firm. So
when her young son, backed by the profound business knowledge
gained in his one year with the Berg, Shriner Advertising Company,
hinted gently that her methods and training were archaic,
ineffectual, and lacking in those twin condiments known to the
twentieth century as pep and ginger, she would listen, eyebrows
raised, lower lip caught between her teeth--a trick which gives
a distorted expression to the features, calculated to hide any
lurking tendency to grin. Besides, though Emma McChesney was forty
she looked thirty-two (as business women do), and knew it. Her
hard-working life had brought her in contact with people, and
things, and events, and had kept her young.

[Illustration: "Jock McChesney began to carry a yellow
walking-stick down to work"]

"Thank fortune!" Mrs. McChesney often said, "that
I wasn't cursed with a life of ease. These
massage-at-ten-fitting-at-eleven-bridge-at-one women
always look such hags at thirty-five."

But repetition will ruin the rarest of jokes. As the weeks went on
and Jock's attitude persisted, the twinkle in Emma McChesney's eye
died. The glow of growing resentment began to burn in its place.
Now and then there crept into her eyes a little look of doubt and
bewilderment. You sometimes see that same little shocked, dazed
expression in the eyes of a woman whose husband has just said,
"Isn't that hat too young for you?"

Then, one evening, Emma McChesney's resentment flared into open
revolt. She had announced that she intended to rise half an hour
earlier each morning in order that she might walk a brisk mile or
so on her way down-town, before taking the subway.

"But won't it tire you too much, Mother?" Jock had asked with
maddeningly tender solicitude.

His mother's color heightened. Her blue eyes glowed dark.

"Look here, Jock! Will you kindly stop this lean-on-me-grandma
stuff! To hear you talk one would think I was ready for a wheel
chair and gray woolen bedroom slippers."

"Why, I didn't mean--I only thought that perhaps overexertion in a
woman of your--That is, you need your energy for--"

"Don't wallow around in it," snapped Emma McChesney. "You'll only
sink in deeper in your efforts to crawl out. I merely want to warn
you that if you persist in this pose of tender solicitude for your
doddering old mother, I'll--I'll present you with a stepfather a
year younger than you. Don't laugh. Perhaps you think I couldn't
do it."

"Good Lord, Mother! Of course you don't mean it, but--"

"Mean it! Cleverer women than I have been driven by their
children to marrying bell-boys in self-defense. I warn you!"

[Illustration: "'Good Lord, Mother! Of course you don't
mean it, but--'"]

That stopped it--for a while. Jock ceased to bestow upon his
mother judicious advice from the vast storehouse of his own
experience. He refrained from breaking out with elaborate
advertising schemes whereby the T.A. Buck Featherloom Petticoat
Company might grind every other skirt concern to dust. He gave
only a startled look when his mother mischievously suggested
raspberry as the color for her new autumn suit. Then, quite
suddenly, Circumstance caught Emma McChesney in the meshes and,
before she had fought her way free, wrought trouble and change
upon her.

Jock McChesney was seated in the window of his mother's office at
noon of a brilliant autumn day. A little impatient frown was
forming between his eyes. He wanted his luncheon. He had called
around expressly to take his mother out to luncheon--always a
festive occasion when taken together. But Mrs. McChesney, seated
at her desk, was bent absorbedly over a sheet of paper whereon she
was adding up two columns of figures at a time--a trick on which
she rather prided herself. She was counting aloud, her mind
leaping agilely, thus:

"Eleven, twenty-nine, forty-three, sixty, sixty-nine--" Her pencil
came down on the desk with a thwack. "SIXTY-NINE!" she repeated in
capital letters. She turned around to face Jock. "Sixty-nine!" Her
voice bristled with indignation. "Now what do you think of that!"

"I think you'd better make it an even seventy, whatever it is
you're counting up, and come on out to luncheon. I've an
appointment at two-fifteen, you know."

"Luncheon!"--she waved the paper in the air--"with this outrage on
my mind! Nectar would curdle in my system."

Jock rose and strolled lazily over to the desk. "What is it?" He
glanced idly at the sheet of paper. "Sixty-nine what?"

Mrs. McChesney pressed a buzzer at the side of her desk.
"Sixty-nine dollars, that's what! Representing two days' expenses
in the six weeks' missionary trip that Fat Ed Meyers just made for
us. And in Iowa, too."

"When you gave that fellow the job," began Jock hotly, "I told
you, and Buck told you, that--"

Mrs. McChesney interrupted wearily. "Yes, I know. You'll never
have a grander chance to say 'I told you so.' I hired him
because he was out of a job and we needed a man who knew the
Middle-Western trade, and then because--well, poor fellow, he
begged so and promised to keep straight. As though I oughtn't to
know that a pinochle-and-poker traveling man can never be anything
but a pinochle-and-poker traveling man--"

The office door opened as there appeared in answer to the buzzer a
very alert, very smiling, and very tidy office girl. Emma
McChesney had tried office boys, and found them wanting.

"Tell Mr. Meyers I want to see him."

"Just going out to lunch,"--she turned like a race horse trembling
to be off,--"putting on his overcoat in the front office. Shall
I--"

"Catch him."

"Listen here," began Jock uncomfortably; "if you're going to call
him perhaps I'd better vanish."

"To save Ed Meyers's tender feelings! You don't know him. Fat Ed
Meyers could be courtmartialed, tried, convicted, and publicly
disgraced, with his epaulets torn off, and his sword broken, and
likely as not he'd stoop down, pick up a splinter of steel to use
as a toothpick, and Castlewalk down the aisle to the tune with
which they were drumming him out of the regiment. Stay right
here. Meyers's explanation ought to be at least amusing, if not
educating."

In the corridor outside could be heard some one blithely humming
in the throaty tenor of the fat man. The humming ceased with a
last high note as the door opened and there entered Fat Ed Meyers,
rosy, cherubic, smiling, his huge frame looming mountainous in the
rippling folds of a loose-hung London plaid topcoat.

"Greetings!" boomed this cheery vision, raising one hand, palm
outward, in mystic salute. He beamed upon the frowning Jock.
"How's the infant prodigy!" The fact that Jock's frown deepened to
a scowl ruffled him not at all. "And what," went on he, crossing
his feet and leaning negligently against Mrs. McChesney's desk,
"and what can I do for thee, fair lady?"

[Illustration: "'Greetings!'"]

"For me?" said Emma McChesney, looking up at him through narrowed
eyelids. "I'll tell you what. You can explain to me, in what
they call a few well-chosen words, just how you, or any other
living creature, could manage to turn in an expense account like
that on a six-weeks' missionary trip through the Middle West."

"Dear lady,"--in the bland tones that one uses to an unreasonable
child,--"you will need no explanation if you will just remember to
lay the stress on the word missionary. I went forth through the
Middle West to spread the light among the benighted skirt trade.
This wasn't a selling trip, dear lady. It was a buying expedition.
And I had to buy, didn't I? all the way from Michigan to Indiana."

He smiled down at her, calm, self-assured, impudent. A little
flush grew in Emma McChesney's cheeks.

"I've always said," she began, crisply, "that one could pretty
well judge a man's character, temperament, morals, and physical
make-up by just glancing at his expense account. The trouble with
you is that you haven't learned the art of spending money wisely.
It isn't always the man with the largest expense sheet that gets
the most business. And it isn't the man who leaves the greatest
number of circles on the table top in his hotel room, either."
She paused a moment. Ed Meyers's smile had lost some of its
heartiness. "Mr. Buck's out of town, as you know. He'll be back
next week. He wasn't in favor of--"

"Now, Mrs. McChesney," interrupted Ed Meyers nervously, "you know
there's always one live one in every firm, just like there's
always one star in every family. You're the--"

"I'm the one who wants to know how you could spend sixty-nine
dollars for two days' incidentals in Iowa. Iowa! Why, look here,
Ed Meyers, I made Iowa for ten years when I was on the road. You
know that. And you know, and I know, that in order to spend
sixty-nine dollars for incidentals in two days in Iowa you have to
call out the militia."

"Not when you're trying to win the love of every skirt buyer from
Sioux City to Des Moines."

Emma McChesney rose impatiently. "Oh, that's nonsense! You don't
need to do that these days. Those are old-fashioned methods.
They're out of date. They--"

At that a little sound came from Jock. Emma heard it, glanced at
him, turned away again in confusion.

"I was foolish enough in the first place to give you this job for
old times' sake," she continued hurriedly.

Fat Ed Meyers' face drooped dolefully. He cocked his round head on
one side fatuously. "For old times' sake," he repeated, with
tremulous pathos, and heaved a gusty sigh.

"Which goes to show that I need a guardian," finished Emma
McChesney cruelly. "The only old times that I can remember are
when I was selling Featherlooms, and you were out for the
Sans-Silk Skirt Company, both covering the same territory, and
both running a year-around race to see which could beat the other
at his own game. The only difference was that I always played
fair, while you played low-down whenever you had a chance."

"Now, my dear Mrs. McChesney--"

"That'll be all," said Emma McChesney, as one whose patience is
fast slipping away. "Mr. Buck will see you next week." Then,
turning to her son as the door closed on the drooping figure of
the erstwhile buoyant Meyers, "Where'll we lunch, Jock?"

"Mother," Jock broke out hotly, "why in the name of all that's
foolish do you persist in using the methods of Methuselah! People
don't sell goods any more by sending out fat old ex-traveling men
to jolly up the trade."

"Jock," repeated Emma McChesney slowly, "where--shall--we--lunch?"

It was a grim little meal, eaten almost in silence. Emma McChesney
had made it a rule to use luncheon time as a recess. She played
mental tag and hop-scotch, so that, returning to her office
refreshed in mind and body, she could attack the afternoon's work
with new vigor. And never did she talk or think business.

To-day she ate her luncheon with a forced appetite, glanced about
with a listlessness far removed from her usual alert interest, and
followed Jock's attempts at conversation with a polite effort that
was more insulting than downright inattention.

"Dessert, Mother?" Jock had to say it twice before she heard.

"What? Oh, no--I think not."

The waiter hesitated, coughed discreetly, lifted his eyebrows
insinuatingly. "The French pastry's particularly nice to-day,
madam. If you'd care to try something? Eclair, madam--peach
tart--mocha tart--caramel--"

Emma McChesney smiled. "It does sound tempting." She glanced at
Jock. "And we're wearing our gowns so floppy this year that it
makes no difference whether one's fat or not." She turned to the
waiter. "I never can tell till I see them. Bring your pastry tray,
will you?"

Jock McChesney's finger and thumb came together with a snap. He
leaned across the table toward his mother, eyes glowing, lips
parted and eager. "There! you've proved my point."

"Point?"

"About advertising. No, don't stop me. Don't you see that what
applies to pastry applies to petticoats? You didn't think of
French pastry until he suggested it to you--advertised it, really.
And then you wanted a picture of them. You wanted to know
what they looked like before buying. That's all there is to
advertising. Telling people about a thing, making 'em want it, and
showing 'em how it will look when they have it. Get me?"

Emma McChesney was gazing at Jock with a curious, fascinated
stare. It was a blank little look, such as we sometimes wear when
the mind is working furiously. If the insinuating waiter,
presenting the laden tray for her inspection, was startled by the
rapt expression which she turned upon the cunningly wrought wares,
he was too much a waiter to show it.

A pause. "That one," said Mrs. McChesney, pointing to the least
ornate. She ate it, down to the last crumb, in a silence that was
pregnant with portent. She put down her fork and sat back.

"Jock, you win. I--I suppose I have fallen out of step. Perhaps
I've been too busy watching my own feet. T.A. will be back next
week. Could your office have an advertising plan roughly sketched
by that time?"

"Could they!" His tone was exultant. "Watch 'em! Hupp's been crazy
to make Featherlooms famous."

"But look here, son. I want a hand in that copy. I know
Featherlooms better than your Sam Hupp will ever--"

Jock shook his head. "They won't stand for that, Mother. It never
works. The manufacturer always thinks he can write magic stuff
because he knows his own product. But he never can. You see, he
knows too much. That's it. No perspective."

"We'll see," said Emma McChesney curtly.

So it was that ten days later the first important conference in
the interests of the Featherloom Petticoat Company's advertising
campaign was called. But in those ten days of hurried preparation
a little silent tragedy had come about. For the first time in her
brave, sunny life Emma McChesney had lost faith in herself. And
with such malicious humor does Fate work her will that she chose
Sam Hupp's new dictagraph as the instrument with which to prick
the bubble of Mrs. McChesney's self-confidence.

Sam Hupp, one of the copy-writing marvels of the Berg, Shriner
firm, had a trick of forgetting to shut off certain necessary
currents when he paused in his dictation to throw in
conversational asides. The old and experienced stenographers, had
learned to look out for that, and to eliminate from their
typewritten letters certain irrelevant and sometimes irreverent
asides which Sam Hupp evidently had addressed to his pipe, or the
office boy, and not intended for the tube of the all-devouring
dictagraph.

There was a new and nervous little stenographer in the outer
office, and she had not been warned of this.

"We think very highly of the plan you suggest," Sam Hupp had said
into the dictagraph's mouthpiece. "In fact, in one of your
valuable copy suggestions you--"

Without changing his tone he glanced over his shoulder at his
colleague, Hopper, who was listening and approving.

"... Let the old girl think the idea is her own. She's virtually
the head of that concern, and they've spoiled her. Successful, and
used to being kowtowed to. Doesn't know her notions of copy are
ten years behind the advertising game--"

And went on with his letter again. After which he left the office
to play golf. And the little blond numbskull in the outer office
dutifully took down what the instrument had to say, word for word,
marked it, "Dictated, but not read," signed neat initials, and
with a sigh went on with the rest of her sheaf of letters.

Emma McChesney read the letter next morning. She read it down to
the end, and then again. The two readings were punctuated with a
little gasp, such as we give when an icy douche is suddenly
turned upon us. And that was all.

A week later an intent little group formed a ragged circle about
the big table in the private office of Bartholomew Berg, head of
the Berg, Shriner Advertising Company. Bartholomew Berg himself,
massive, watchful, taciturn, managing to give an impression of
power by his very silence, sat at one side of the long table. Just
across from him a sleek-haired stenographer bent over her note
book, jotting down every word, that the conference might make
business history. Hopper, at one end of the room, studied his shoe
heel intently. He was unbelievably boyish looking to command the
fabulous salary reported to be his. Advertising men, mentioning
his name, pulled a figurative forelock as they did so. Near Mrs.
McChesney sat Sam Hupp, he of the lightning brain and the
sure-fire copy. Emma McChesney, strangely silent, kept her eyes
intent on the faces of the others. T.A. Buck, interested,
enthusiastic, but somewhat uncertain, glanced now and then at his
silent business partner, found no satisfaction in her set face,
and glanced away again. Grace Galt, unbelievably young and pretty
to have won a place for herself in that conference of business
people, smiled in secret at Jock McChesney's evident struggle to
conceal his elation at being present at this, his first staff
meeting.

The conference had lasted one hour now. In that time Featherloom
petticoats had been picked to pieces, bit by bit, from hem to
waist-band. Nothing had been left untouched. Every angle had come
under the keen vision of the advertising experts--the comfort of
the garment, its durability, style, cheapness, service. Which to
emphasize?

"H--m, novelty campaign, in my opinion," said Hopper, breaking one
of his long silences. "There's nothing new in petticoats
themselves, you know. You've got to give 'em a new angle."

"Yep," agreed Hupp. "Start out with a feature skirt. Might
illustrate with one of those freak drawings they're crazy about
now--slinky figure, you know, hollow-chested, one foot trailing,
and all that. They're crazy, but they do attract attention, no
doubt of that."

Bartholomew Berg turned his head slowly. "What's your opinion,
Mrs. McChesney?" he asked.

"I--I'm afraid I haven't any," said Emma McChesney listlessly.
T.A. Buck stared at her in dismay and amazement.

"How about you, Mr. Buck?"

"Why--I--er--of course this advertising game's new to me. I'm
really leaving it in your hands. I really thought that Mrs.
McChesney's idea was to make a point of the fact that these
petticoats were not freak petticoats, but skirts for the everyday
women. She gave me what I thought was a splendid argument a week
ago." He turned to her helplessly.

Mrs. McChesney sat silent.

Bartholomew Berg leaned forward a little and smiled one of his
rare smiles.

"Won't you tell us, Mrs. McChesney? We'd all like to hear what you
have to say."

Mrs. McChesney looked down at her hands. Then she looked up, and
addressed what she had to say straight to Bartholomew Berg.

"I--simply didn't want to interfere in this business. I know
nothing about it, really. Of course, I do know Featherloom
petticoats. I know all about them. It seemed to me that just
because the newspapers and magazines were full of pictures showing
spectacular creatures in impossible attitudes wearing tango tea
skirts, we are apt to forget that those types form only a thin
upper crust, and that down beneath there are millions and millions
of regular, everyday women doing regular everyday things in
regular everyday clothes. Women who wash on Monday, and iron on
Tuesday, and bake one-egg cakes, and who have to hurry home to get
supper when they go down-town in the afternoon. They're the kind
who go to market every morning, and take the baby along in the
go-cart, and they're not wearing crepe de chine tango petticoats
to do it in, either. They're wearing skirts with a drawstring in
the back, and a label in the band, guaranteed to last one year.
Those are the people I'd like to reach, and hold."

"Hm!" said Hopper, from his corner, cryptically.

Bartholomew Berg looked at Emma McChesney admiringly. "Sounds
reasonable and logical," he said.

Sam Hupp sat up with a jerk.

"It does sound reasonable," he said briskly. "But it isn't. Pardon
me, won't you, Mrs. McChesney? But you must realize that this is
an extravagant age. The very workingmen's wives have caught the
spending fever. The time is past when you can attract people to
your goods with the promise of durability and wear. They don't
expect goods to wear. They'd resent it if they did. They get tired
of an article before it's worn out. They're looking for novelties.
They'd rather get two months' wear out of a skirt that's slashed a
new way, than a year's wear out of one that looks like the sort
that mother used to make."

Mrs. McChesney, her cheeks very pink, her eyes very bright,
subsided into silence. In silence she sat throughout the rest of
the conference. In silence she descended in the elevator with T.A.
Buck, and in silence she stepped into his waiting car.

T.A. Buck eyed her worriedly. "Well?" he said. Then, as Mrs.
McChesney shrugged noncommittal shoulders, "Tell me, how do you
feel about it?"

Emma McChesney turned to face him, breathing rather quickly.

"The last time I felt as I do just now was when Jock was a baby.
He took sick, and the doctors were puzzled. They thought it might
be something wrong with his spine. They had a consultation--five
of them--with the poor little chap on the bed, naked. They
wouldn't let me in, so I listened in the hallway, pressed against
the door with my face to the crack. They prodded him, and poked
him, and worked his little legs and arms, and every time he cried
I prayed, and wept, and clawed the door with my fingers, and
called them beasts and torturers and begged them to let me in,
though I wasn't conscious that I was doing those things--at the
time. I didn't know what they were doing to him, though they said
it was all for his good, and they were only trying to help him.
But I only knew that I wanted to rush in, and grab him up in my
arms, and run away with him--run, and run, and run."

She stopped, lips trembling, eyes suspiciously bright.

"And that's the way I felt in there--this afternoon."

T.A. Buck reached up and patted her shoulder. "Don't, old girl!
It's going to work out splendidly, I'm sure. After all, those
chaps do know best."

"They may know best, but they don't know Featherlooms," retorted
Emma McChesney.

"True. But perhaps what Jock said when he walked with us to the
elevator was pretty nearly right. You know he said we were
criticising their copy the way a plumber would criticise the
Parthenon--so busy finding fault with the lack of drains that we
failed to see the beauty of the architecture."

"T.A.," said Emma McChesney solemnly, "T.A., we're getting old."

"Old! You! I! Ha!"

"You may 'Ha!' all you like. But do you know what they thought of
us in there? They thought we were a couple of fogies, and they
humored us, that's what they did. I'll tell you, T.A., when the
time comes for me to give Jock up to some little pink-faced girl
I'll do it, and smile if it kills me. But to hand my Featherlooms
over to a lot of cold-blooded experts who--well--" she paused,
biting her lip.

"We'll see, Emma; we'll see."

They did see. The Featherloom petticoat campaign was launched with
a great splash. It sailed serenely into the sea of national
business. Then suddenly something seemed to go wrong with its
engines. It began to wobble and showed a decided list to port.
Jock, who at the beginning was so puffed with pride that his gold
fountain pen threatened to burst the confines of his very modishly
tight vest, lost two degrees of pompousness a day, and his
attitude toward his unreproachful mother was almost humble.

A dozen times a week T.A. Buck would stroll casually into Mrs.
McChesney's office. "Think it's going to take hold?" he would ask.
"Our men say the dealers have laid in, but the public doesn't seem
to be tearing itself limb from limb to get to our stuff."

Emma McChesney would smile, and shrug noncommittal shoulders.

When it became very painfully apparent that it wasn't "taking
hold," T.A. Buck, after asking the same question, now worn and
frayed with asking, broke out, crossly:

"Well, really, I don't mind the shrug, but I do wish you wouldn't
smile. After all, you know, this campaign is costing us
money--real money, and large chunks of it. It's very evident that
we shouldn't have tried to make a national campaign of this
thing."

Whereupon Mrs. McChesney's smile grew into a laugh. "Forgive me,
T.A. I'm not laughing at you. I'm laughing because--well, I can't
tell you why. It's a woman's reason, and you wouldn't think it a
reason at all. For that matter, I suppose it isn't, but--Anyway,
I've got something to tell you. The fault of this campaign has
been the copy. It was perfectly good advertising, but it left the
public cold. When they read those ads they might have been
impressed with the charm of the garment, but it didn't fill their
breasts with any wild longing to possess one. It didn't make the
women feel unhappy until they had one of those skirts hanging on
the third hook in their closet. The only kind of advertising that
is advertising is the kind that makes the reader say, 'I'll have
one of those.'"

T.A. Buck threw out helpless hands. "What are we going to do about
it?"

"Do? I've already done it."

"Done what?"

"Written the kind of copy that I think Featherlooms ought to have.
I just took my knowledge of Featherlooms, plus what I knew about
human nature, sprinkled in a handful of good humor and sincerity,
and they're going to feed it to the public. It's the same recipe
that I used to use in selling Featherlooms on the road. It used to
go by word of mouth. I don't see why it shouldn't go on paper. It
isn't classic advertising. It isn't scientific. It isn't even what
they call psychological, I suppose. But it's human. And it's going
to reach that great, big, solid, safe, spot-cash mass known as the
middle class. Of course my copy may be wrong. It may not go, after
all, but--"

But it did go. It didn't go with a rush, or a bang. It went
slowly, surely, hand over hand, but it went, and it kept on going.
And watching it climb and take hold there came back to Emma
McChesney's eye the old sparkle, to her step the old buoyancy, to
her voice the old delightful ring. And now, when T.A. Buck
strolled into her office of a morning, with his, "It's taking
hold, Mrs. Mack," she would dimple like a girl as she laughed back
at him--

"With a grip that won't let go."

"It looks very much as though we were going to be millionaires in
our old age, you and I?" went on Buck.

Emma McChesney opened her eyes wide.

"Old!" she mocked, "Old! You! I! Ha!"

IV

THE MAN WITHIN HIM

They used to do it much more picturesquely. They rode in coats of
scarlet, in the crisp, clear morning, to the winding of horns and
the baying of hounds, to the thud-thud of hoofs, and the crackle
of underbrush. Across fresh-plowed fields they went, crashing
through forest paths, leaping ditches, taking fences, scrambling
up the inclines, pelting down the hillside, helter-skelter, until,
panting, wide-eyed, eager, blood-hungry, the hunt closed in at the
death.

The scarlet coat has sobered down to the somber gray and the
snuffy brown of that unromantic garment known as the business
suit. The winding horn is become a goblet, and its notes are the
tinkle of ice against glass. The baying of hounds has harshened to
the squawk of the motor siren. The fresh-plowed field is a blue
print, the forest maze a roll of plans and specifications. Each
fence is a business barrier. Every ditch is of a competitor's
making, dug craftily so that the clumsy-footed may come a cropper.
All the romance is out of it, all the color, all the joy. But two
things remain the same: The look in the face of the hunter as he
closed in on the fox is the look in the face of him who sees the
coveted contract lying ready for the finishing stroke of his pen.
And his words are those of the hunter of long ago as, eyes
a-gleam, teeth bared, muscles still taut with the tenseness of the
chase, he waves the paper high in air and cries, "I've made a
killing!"

For two years Jock McChesney had watched the field as it swept by
in its patient, devious, cruel game of Hunt the Contract. But he
had never been in at the death. Those two years had taught him how
to ride; to take a fence; to leap a ditch. He had had his awkward
bumps, and his clumsy falls. He had lost his way more than once.
But he had always groped his way back again, stumblingly, through
the dusk. Jock McChesney was the youngest man on the Berg, Shriner
Advertising Company's big staff of surprisingly young men. So
young that the casual glance did not reveal to you the marks that
the strain of those two years had left on his boyish face. But the
marks were there.

Nature etches with the most delicate of points. She knows the
cunning secret of light and shadow. You scarcely realize that she
has been at work. A faint line about the mouth, a fairy tracing at
the corners of the eyes, a mere vague touch just at the
nostrils--and the thing is done.

Even Emma McChesney's eyes--those mother-eyes which make the lynx
seem a mole--had failed to note the subtle change. Then, suddenly,
one night, the lines leaped out at her.

They were seated at opposite sides of the book-littered library
table in the living-room of the cheerful up-town apartment which
was the realization of the nightly dream which Mrs. Emma McChesney
had had in her ten years on the road for the T.A. Buck Featherloom
Petticoat Company. Jock McChesney's side of the big table was
completely covered with the mass of copy-paper, rough sketches,
photographs and drawings which make up an advertising lay-out. He
was bent over the work, absorbed, intent, his forearms resting on
the table. Emma McChesney glanced up from her magazine just as
Jock bent forward to reach a scrap of paper that had fluttered
away. The lamplight fell full on his face. And Emma McChesney saw.
The hand that held the magazine fell to her lap. Her lips were
parted slightly. She sat very quietly, her eyes never leaving the
face that frowned so intently over the littered table. The room
had been very quiet before--Jock busy with his work, his mother
interested in her magazine. But this silence was different. There
was something electric in it. It was a silence that beats on the
brain like a noise. Jock McChesney, bent over his work, heard it,
felt it, and, oppressed by it, looked up suddenly. He met those
two eyes opposite.

"Spooks? Or is it my godlike beauty which holds you thus? Or is my
face dirty?"

Emma McChesney did not smile. She laid her magazine on the table,
face down, and leaned forward, her staring eyes still fixed on her
son's face.

"Look here, young 'un. Are you working too hard?"

"Me? Now? This stuff you mean--?"

"No; I mean in the last year. Are they piling it up on you?"

Jock laughed a laugh that was nothing less than a failure, so
little of real mirth did it contain.

"Piling it up! Lord, no! I wish they would. That's the trouble.
They don't give me a chance."

"A chance! Why, that's not true, son. You've said yourself that
there are men who have been in the office three times as long as
you have, who never have had the opportunities that they've given
you."

It was as though she had touched a current that thrilled him to
action. He pushed back his chair and stood up, one hand thrust
into his pocket, the other passing quickly over his head from brow
to nape with a quick, nervous gesture that was new to him.

"And why!" he flung out. "Why! Not because they like the way I
part my hair. They don't do business that way up there. It's
because I've made good, and those other dubs haven't. That's why.
They've let me sit in at the game. But they won't let me take any
tricks. I've been an apprentice hand for two years now. I'm tired
of it. I want to be in on a killing. I want to taste blood. I want
a chance at some of the money--real money."

Emma McChesney sat back in her chair and surveyed the angry figure
before her with quiet, steady eyes.

"I might have known that only one thing could bring those lines
into your face, son." She paused a moment. "So you want money as
badly as all that, do you?"

Jock's hand came down with a thwack on the papers before him.

"Want it! You just bet I want it."

"Do I know her?" asked Emma McChesney quietly.

Jock stopped short in his excited pacing up and down the room.

"Do you know--Why, I didn't say there--What makes you think
that--?"

"When a youngster like you, whose greatest worry has been whether
Harvard'll hold 'em again this year, with Baxter out, begins to
howl about not being appreciated in business, and to wear a late
fall line of wrinkles where he has been smooth before, I feel
justified in saying, 'Do I know her?'"

"Well, it isn't any one--at least, it isn't what you mean you
think it is when you say you--"

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