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