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the wheels of a dead-locked railroad. These honest fellows
did not wish Dunderbunk to fail for several reasons. First,
it was not pleasant to lose their investment. Second, one
important failure might betray Credit to Crisis with Panic
at its heels, whereupon every investment would be in
danger. Third, what would become of their Directorial
reputations? From President Brummage down, each of
these gentlemen was one of the pockets to be picked in a
great many companies. Each was of the first Wall-Street
fashion, invited to lend his name and take stock in every
new enterprise. Any one of them might have walked down
town in a long patchwork toga made of the newspaper
advertisements of boards in which his name proudly figured.
If Dunderbunk failed, the toga was torn, and might presently
go to rags beyond repair. The first rent would inaugurate
universal rupture. How to avoid this disaster ? that was
the question.

" State the case, Mr. Superintendent WhifSer," said Presi-
dent Brummage, in his pompous manner, with its pomp a
h'ttle collapsed, pro tempore.

Inefficient TVliiffler whimpered out his story.

The confessions of an impotent executive are sorry stuff
to read. Whiffler's long, dismal complaint shall not be re-
peated. He had taken a prosperous concern, had carried
on things in his own way, and now failure was inevita-


ble. He had bought raw material lavishly, and worked
it badly into half-ripe material, which nobody wanted to
buy. He was in arrears to his hands. He had tried to
bully them when they asked for their money. They
had insulted him, and threatened to knock off work, unless
they were paid at once. " A set of horrid ruffians," Whif-
fler said, " and his life would n't be safe many days among

" Withdraw, if you please, Mr. Superintendent," President
Brummage requested. " The Board will discuss measures
of relief."

The more they discussed, the more consternation. No-
body said anything to the purpose, except Mr. Sam Gwelp,
his late father's lubberly son and successor.

" Blast ! " said he ; " we shall have to let it slide ! "

Into this assembly of imbeciles unexpectedly entered Mr.
John Churm. He had set his Western railroad trains
rolling, and was just returned to town. Now he w r as ready
to put those Herculean shoulders at any other bemired and
rickety no-gocart.

Mr. Churm was not accustomed to be a Director in
feeble companies. He came into Dunderbunk recently as
executor of his friend Darner, a year ago bored to death by
a silly wife.

Churm's bristly aspect and incisive manner made him a
sharp contrast to Brummage. The latter personage was
flabby in flesh, and the oppressively civil counter-jumper
style of his youth had grown naturally into a deportment of
most imposing pomposity.

The Tenth Director listened to the President's recitative
of their difficulties, chorused by the Board.

" Gentlemen," said Director Churm, " you want two
things.. The first is Money ! "

He pronounced this cabalistic word with such magic
power, that all the air seemed instantly filled with a cheer-


fill flight of gold American eagles, each carrying a double
eagle on its back and a silver dollar in its claws ; and all
the soil of America seemed to sprout with com, as after a
shower a meadow sprouts, with the yellow buds of the dan-

" Money ! yes, Money ! " murmured the Directors.

It seemed a word of good omen, now.

" The second thing," resumed the new-comer, " is a
Alan ! "

The Directors looked at each other and did not see such
a being.

" The actual Superintendent of Dunderbunk is a dunder-
head," said Churm.

" Pun ! *\ cried Sam Gwelp, waking up from a snooze.

Several of the Directors, thus instructed, started a com-
plimentary laugh.

" Order, gentlemen ! Orrderr ! " said the President, severe-
ly, rapping with a paper-cutter.

"We must have a Man, not a Whiffler!" Churm con-
tinued. "And I have one in my eye."

Everybody examined his eye.

" Would you be so good as to name him ? " said Old
Brummage, timidly.

He wanted to see a Man, but feared the strange creature
might be dangerous.

Richard Wade," says Churm.

They did not know him. The name sounded forcible.

" He has been in California," the nominator said.

A shudder ran around the green table. They seemed to
see a frowzy desperado, shaggy as 'a bison, in a red shirt
and jackboots, hung about the waist with an assortment of
six-shooters and bowie-knives, and standing against a back-
ground of mustangs, monte-banks, and lynch-law.

"We must get Wade," Churm says, with authority
u He knows Iron by heart. He can handle Men. I will


back him with my blank check, to any amount, to his

Here a murmur of applause, swelling to a cheer, burst
from the Directors.

Everybody knew that the Geological Bank deemed
Churm's deposits the fundamental stratum of its wealth.
They lay there in the vaults, like underlying granite.
When hot times came, they boiled up in a mountain to
buttress the world.

Churm's blank check seemed to wave in the air like an
oriflamme of victory. Its payee might come from Botany
Bay; he might wear his beard to his knees, and his belt
stuck full of howitzers and boomerangs; he might have
been repeatedly hung by Vigilance Committees, and as
often cut down and revived by galvanism ; but brandishing
that check, good for anything less than a million, every
Director in Wall Street was his slave, his friend, and his

" Let us vote Mr. Wade in by acclamation," cried the

" But, gentlemen," Churm interposed, " if I give him my
blank check, he must have carte blanche, and no one to
interfere in his management."

Every Director, from President Brummage down, drew
a long face at this condition.

It was one of their great privileges to potter in the Dun-
derbunk affairs and propose ludicrous impossibilities.

" Just as you please," Churm continued. " I name a
competent man, a gentleman and fine fellow. I back him
with all the cash he wants. But he must have his own
way. Now take him, or leave him ! "

Such despotic talk had never been heard before in that
Directors' Room. They relucted a moment. But they
thought of their togas of advertisements in danger. The
blank check shook its blandishments before their eyes.


" We take him," they said, and Richard Wade was the
new Superintendent unanimously.

" He shall be at Dunderbunk to take hold to-morrow
morning," said Churm, and went off to notify him.

Upon this, Consternation sailed out of the hearts of
Brummage and associates.

They lunched with good appetites over the green table,
and the President confidently remarked,

" I don't believe there is going to be much of a crisis,
after all."



WADE packed his kit, and took the Hudson River train
for Dunderbunk the same afternoon.

He swallowed his dust, he gasped for his fresh air, he
wept over his cinders, he refused his " lozengers," he was
admired by all the pretty girls and detested by all the puny
men in the train, and in good time got down at his station.

He stopped on the platform to survey the land and water
privileges of his new abode.

" The June sunshine is unequalled," he soliloquized, " the
river is splendid, the hills are pretty, and the Highlands,
north, respectable ; but the village has gone to seed. Place
and people look lazy, vicious, and ashamed. I suppose
those chimneys are my Foundry. The smoke rises as if
the furnaces were ill-fed and weak in the lungs. Nothing
I can see looks alive, except that queer little steamboat
coming in, the * I. Ambuster,' jolly name for a boat ! "

Wade left his traps at the station, and walked through
the village. All the gilding of a golden sunset of June
could not made it anything but commonplace. It would be
forlorn on a gray day, and utterly dismal in a storm.

" I must look up a civilized house to lodge in," thought

96 TiiEODOKK wixntuor.

the stranger. " I cannot possibly camp at the tavern. Its
otVeiu-o is rum, and smells to heaven."

Presently our explorer found a neat, white, two-story,
home-like abode on the upper street, overlooking the river

"This promises," he thought. "Here are rosrs on the
porch, a piano, or at least a melodeon, by the parlor-window,
and they are insured in the Mutual, as the Mutual's plate
announces. Now, it' that nice-looking person in Mack I >ee
setting a table in the back-room is a widow, 1 will camp

Perry Purtett was the name on the door, and opposite
the sign of an omnhun-gatkfrum country-store hinted that
Perry was deceased. The hint was a broad one. Wade
read, " Ringdove. Successor to late P. Purktt."

" It 's worth a try to get in here out of the pagan barba-
rism around. I '11 propose as a lodger to the widow."

So said Wade, and rang the bell under the roses. A
pretty, slim, delicate, fair-haired maiden answered.

" This explains the roses and the melodeon," thought
Wade, and asked, Can 1 see your mother ? "

Mamma came. - Mild, timid, accustomed to depend on
the late Perry, and wants a friend." Wade analyzed, while
he bowed. He proposed himself as a lodger.

" 1 did n't know it was talked of generally," replied the
widow, plaintively ; " but I /tare said that we felt lonesome,
Mr. Purtett bein' gone, and if the new minister "

Here she paused. The cut of Wade's jib was nnelerical.
He did not stoop, like a new minister, lie was not pallid,
meagre, and clad in unwholesome black, like the same.
His bronzed face was frank and bold and unfamiliar with
speculations on Original Sin or Total Depravity.

" I am not the new minister," said Wade, smiling slightly
over his moustache ; u but a new Superintendent for the

Mr. Wliiffler is goin' ? " exclaimed Mrs. Purtett, She


looked at her daughter, who gave a little sob and ran out of
the room.

"What makes my daughter Belle feel bad," says the
widow, " is, that she had a friend, well, it is n't too much
to say that they was as good as engaged, and he was
foreman of the Foundry finishin'-shop. But somehow
Whiffler spoilt him, just as he spoils everything he touches ;
and last winter, when Belle was away, William Tarbox
that 's his name, and his head is runnin' over with inven-
tions took to spreein' and liquor, and got ashamed of
himself, and let down from a foreman to a hand, and is all
the while lettin' down lower."

The widow's heart thus opened, Wade walked in as con-
soler. This also opened the lodgings to him. He was
presently installed in the large and small front-rooms up-
stairs, unpacking his traps, and making himself permanently
at home.

Superintendent Whiffler came over, by and by, to see his
successor. He did not like his looks. The new man
should have looked mean or weak or rascally, to suit the

" How long do you expect to stay ? " asks Whiffler, with
a half-sneer, watching Wade hanging a map and a print

" Until the men and I, or the Company and I, cannot
pull together."

" I '11 give you a week to quarrel with both, and another
to see the whole concern go to everlasting smash. And
now, if you 're ready, I '11 go over the accounts with you
and prove it."

Whiffler himself, insolent, cowardly, and a humbug, if not
a swindler, was enough, Wade thought, to account for any
failure. But he did not mention this conviction.




AT ten next morning, Whiffler handed over the safe-key
to Wade, and departed to ruin some other property, if he
could get one to ruin. Wade walked with him to the

" I'm glad to be out of a sinking ship," said the ex -boss.
" The works will go down, sure as shooting. And I think
myself well out of the clutches of these men. They 're a
bullying, swearing, drinking set of infernal ruffians. Fore-
men are just as bad as hands. I never felt safe of my life
with 'em."

" A bad lot, are they ? " mused Wade, as he returned to
the office. " I must give them a little sharp talk by way of

He had the bell tapped and the men called together hi
the main building.

Much work was still going on in an inefficient, unsyste-
matic way.

While hot fires were roaring in the great furnaces, smoke
rose from the dusty beds where Titanic castings were cool-
ing. Great cranes, manacled with heavy chains, stood over
the furnace-doors, ready to lift steaming jorums of melted
metal, and pour out, hot and hot, for the moulds to swallow.

Raw material in big heaps lay about, waiting for the fire
to ripen it. Here was a stack of long, rough, rusty pigs,
clumsy as the shillelahs of the Anakim. There was a pile
of short, thick masses, lying higgledy-piggledy, stuff from
the neighboring mines, which needed to be crossed with
foreign stock before it could be of much use in civiliza-

Here, too, was raw material organized : a fly-wheel, large
enough to keep the knobbiest of asteroids revolving without


a wabble ; a cross-head, cross-tail, and piston-rod, to help a
great sea-going steamer breast the waves ; a light walking-
beam, to whirl the paddles of a fast boat on the river ; and
other members of machines, only asking to be put together
and vivified by steam and they would go at their work with
a will.

From the black rafters overhead hung the heavy folds of
a dim atmosphere, half dust, hah smoke. A dozen sun-
beams, forcing their way through the grimy panes of the
grimy upper windows, found this compound quite palpable
and solid, and they moulded out of it a series of golden bars
set side by side aloft, like the pipes of an organ out of ifo

"Wade grew indignant, as he looked about him and saw so
much good stuff and good force wasting for want of a little
will and skill to train the force and manage the stuff. He
abhorred bankruptcy and chaos.

"All they want here is a head," he thought.

He shook his own. The brain within was well developed
with healthy exercise. It filled its case, and did not rattle
like a withered kernel, or sound soft like a rotten one. It
was a vigorous, muscular brain. The owner felt that he
could trust it for an effort, as he could his lungs for a shout,
his legs for a leap, or his fist for a knock-down argument.

At the tap of the bell, the " bad lot " of men came *o
gether. They numbered more than two hundred, though
the Foundry was working short. They had been notified
that that gonoph of a Whiffler was kicked out, and a new-
feller was in, who looked cranky enough, and wanted to see
'em and tell 'em whether he was a damn' fool or not."

So all hands collected from the different parts of the
Foundry to see the head.

They came up with easy and somewhat swaggering bear-
ing, a good many roughs, with here and there a ruffian.
Several, as they approached, swung and tossed, for mere


overplus of strength, the sledges with which they had been
tapping at the bald shiny pates of their anvils. Several
wielded their long pokers like lances.

Grimy chaps, all with their faces streaked, like Blackfeet
in their war-paint. Their hairy chests showed, where some
men parade elaborate shirt-bosoms. Some had their sleeves
pushed up to the elbow to exhibit their compact flexors and
extensors. Some had rolled their flannel up to the shoul-
der, above the bulging muscles of tfie upper arm. They
wore aprons tied about the neck, like the bibs of our child-
hood, or about the waist, like the coquettish articles which
young housewives affect. But there was no coquetry in
these great flaps of leather or canvas, and they were be-
smeared and rust-stained quite beyond any bib that ever
suffered under bread-and-molasses or mud-pie treatment.

They lounged and swaggered up, and stood at ease, not
without rough grace, in a sinuous line, coiled and knotted
like a snake.

Ten feet back stood the new Hercules who was to take
down that Hydra's two hundred crests of insubordination.

They inspected him, and he them as coolly. He read
and ticketed each man, as he came up, good, bad, or on
the fence, and marked each so that he would know him
among a myriad.

The Hands faced the Head. It was a question whether
the two hundred or the one would be master in Dunderbunk.

Which was boss ? An old question. It has to be settled
whenever a new man claims power, and there is always a
struggle until it is fought out by main force of brain or

Wade had made up his mind on this subject. He waited
a moment until the men were still. He was a Saxon six-
footer of thirty. He stood easily on his pins, as if he had
eyed men and facts before. His mouth looked firm, his
brow freighted, his nose clipper, that the hands could see.


But clipper noses are not always backed by a stout hull.
Seemingly freighted brows sometimes carry nothing but bal-
last and dunnage. The firmness may be all in the mous-
tache, while the mouth hides beneath, a mere silly slit. All
which the hands knew.

Wade began, short and sharp as a trip-hammer, when it
has a bar to shape.

"I'm the new Superintendent. Richard Wade is my
name. I rang the bell because I wanted to see you and
have you see me. You know as well as I do that these
Works are in a bad way. They can't stay so. They must
come up and pay you regular wages and the Company
profits. Every man of you has got to be here on the spot
when the bell strikes, and up to the mark in his work. You
have n't been, and you know it. You Ve turned out rot-
ten iron, stuff that any honest shop would be ashamed o
Now there 's to be a new leaf turned over here. You 're to
be paid on the nail ; but you 've got to earn your money.
I won't have any idlers or shirkers or rebels about me. I
shall work hard myself, and every man of you will, or he
leaves the shop. Now, if anybody has a complaint to make,
I'll hear him before you all."

The men were evidently impressed with Wade's Inaugu-
ral. It meant something. But they were not to be put
down so easily, after long misrule. There began to be a

"B'il in, Bill Tarbox! and talk up to him!"

Presently Bill shouldered forward and faced the new

Since Bill took to drink and degradation, he had been the
but-end of riot and revolt at the Foundry. He had had his
own way with Whiffler. He did not like to abdicate and
give in to this new chap without testing him.

In a better mood, Bill would have liked Wade's looks
and words ; but to-day he liad a sore head, a sour face, and


a bitter heart, from last night's spree. And then he had
heard, it was as well known already in Dunderbunk as if
the town-crier had cried it, that Wade was lodging at
Mrs. Purtett's, where poor Bill was excluded. So Bill
stepped forward as spokesman of the ruffianly element, and
the immoral force gathered behind and backed him heavily.

Tarbox, too, was a Saxon six-footer of thirty. But he
had sagged one inch for want of self-respect. He had
spoilt his color and dyed his moustache. He wore foxy-
black pantaloons tucked into red-topped boots, with the
name of the maker on a gilt shield. His red-flannel shirt
was open at the neck and caught with a black handkerchief.
His damaged tile was in permanent crape for the late la-
mented Poole.

" We allow," says Bill, in a tone half-way between La-
b'lache's De profundis and a burglar's bull-dog's snarl,
" that we Ve did our work as good as need to be did. We
'xpect we know our rights. We ha'n't ben treated fair, and
I 'm damned if we 're go'n' to stan' it."

" Stop ! " says Wade. " No swearing in this shop ! "

u Who the Devil is go'n' to stop it ? " growled Tarbox.

" I am. Do you step back now, and let some one come
out who can talk like a gentleman ! "

" I 'm damned if I stir till I Ve had my say out," says
Bill, shaking himself up and looking dangerous.

" Go back ! "

Wade moved close to him, also looking dangerous.

" Don't tech me ! " Bill threatened, squaring off.

He was not quick enough. Wade knocked him down flat
on a heap of moulding-sand. The hat in mourning for
Poole found its place in a puddle.

Bill did not like the new Emperor's method of compel-
ling kotou. Round One of the mill had not given him

He jumped up from his soft bed and made a vicious rush


at Wade. But he was damaged by evil courses. He was
fighting against law and order, on the side of wrong and
bad manners.

The same fist met him again, and heavier.

Up went his heels ! Down went his head ! It struck
the ragged edge of a fresh casting, and there he lay stunned
and bleeding on his hard black pillow.

" Ring the bell to go to work ! " said Wade, in a tone that
made the ringer jump. 4< Now, men, teike hold and do your
duty and everything will go smooth ! "

The bell clanged in. The line looked at its prostrate
champion, then at the new boss standing there, cool and
brave, and not afraid of a regiment of sledge-hammers.

They wanted an Executive. They wanted to be well
governed, as all men do. They wanted disorder out and
order in. The new man looked like a man, talked fair, hit
hard. Why not all hands give in with a good grace and go
to work like honest fellows ?

The line broke up. The hands went off to their duty.
And there was never any more insubordination at Dunder-

This was June.

Skates in the next chapter.

Love in good time afterward shall glide upon the scene.



THE pioneer sunbeam of next Christmas morning rattled
over the Dunderbunk hills, flashed into Richard Wade's
eyes, waked him, and was off, ricochetting across the black
ice of the river.

Wade jumped up, electrified and jubilant. He |jad gone
to bed feeling quite too despondent for so healthy a fellcw.


Christmas eve, the time of family meetings, reminded him
how lonely he was. He had not a relative in the we rid,
except two little nieces, one as tall as his knee, the other
almost up to his waist ; and them he had safely bestowed in
a nook of New England, to gain wit and virtues, as they
gained inches.

" I have had a stern and lonely life," thought "Wade, as
he blew out his candle last night, " and what has it profited

Perhaps the pioneer sunbeam answered this question with
a truism, not always as applicable as in this case, "A
brave, able, self-respecting manhood is fair profit for any
man's first thirty years of life."

But, answered or not, the question troubled Wade no
more. He shot out of bed in tip-top spirits; shouted
" Merry Christmas ! " at the rising disk of the sun ; looked
over the black ice ; thrilled with the thought of a long holi-
day for skating ; and proceeded to dress in a knowing suit
of rough clothes, singing, "Ah, non giunge ! " as he slid into

Presently, glancing from his south window, he observed
several matinal smokes rising from the chimneys of a
country-house a mile away, on a slope fronting the river.

" Peter Skerrett must be back from Europe at last," he
thought. " I hope he is as fine a fellow as he was ten years
ago. I hope marriage has not made him a muff, and wealth
a weakling."

Wade went down to breakfast with an heroic appetite.
His " Merry Christmas " to Mrs. Purtett was followed up
by a ravished kiss and the gift of a silver butter-knife.
The good widow did not know which to be most charmed
with. The butter-knife was genuine, shining, solid silver,
with her initials, M. B. P., Martha Bilsby Purtett, given in
luxuriant flourishes ; but then the kiss had such a fine
twang, such an exhilarating titillation ! The late Perry's


. from fiist to last, had wanted point. They were, as
the Spanish proverb would put it, unsavory as unsalted
eggs, for want of a moustache. The widow now perceived,
with mild regret, how much she had missed when she mar-
ried " a man nil shaven and shorn." Her cheek, still fair,
though forty, flushed with novel delight, and she appreciated
her lodger more than ever.

Wade's salutation to Belle Purtett was more distant
There must be a little friendly reserve between a hand-
some young man and a pretty young woman several grades
lower in the social scale, living in the same house. They
were on the most cordial terms, however ; and her gift of
course embroidered slippers and his to her of course
"The Illustrated Poets," in Turkey morocco were ex-
changed with tender good-will on both sides.

" We shall meet on the ice, Miss Belle," said Wade. " It
is a day of a thousand for skating."

" Mr. Ringdove says you are a famous skater," Belle

Online Libraryi00bostFavorite authors in prose and poetry → online text (page 28 of 66)