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THE LEVER

BY WILLIAM DANA ORCUTT

AUTHOR OF "THE SPELL," "THE FLOWER OF DESTINY," "ROBERT CAVELIER," ETC.

1911


"_Give me where I may stand, a lever long enough, and a fulcrum strong
enough, and I will move the world_." - ARCHIMEDES.




TO MY MOTHER

ELLEN DANA ORCUTT

"SUPREME IN THE STRENGTH OF ASSERTING THAT WHICH IS EVER WOMAN'S
CREED - JUSTICE AND RIGHT," THIS VOLUME IS AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED




THE LEVER




I


The girl leaned forward impulsively from the leisurely moving victoria
and looked back at the automobile which whizzed by the carriage, along
the maple-lined road leading from Washington to Chevy Chase; then she as
suddenly resumed her former position when she discovered that the young
man, who was the only occupant of the motor-car, had slowed down and was
gazing back at her.

"How impertinent!" she exclaimed, flushing, addressing herself rather
than the older woman beside her. "Of course, it couldn't be Allen; but
if it wasn't, why was he looking back at me? Did you recognize him,
Eleanor?"

"Who's impertinent?" queried Patricia, who sat between them and
exercised a ten-year-old sister's prerogative.

Mrs. Gorham was quietly amused. "Which question shall I answer first,
Alice - and who is 'Allen' supposed to be?"

It was the girl's turn to sense the situation. "How ridiculous!" she
laughed. "Of course you wouldn't know. Allen Sanford and I used to play
together when we were children in Pittsburgh. I haven't seen him since we
moved away after mamma died; but that really looked like him. I wonder if
by any chance it could be?"

"Oh, Alice, he's coming back," announced Patricia from her point of
vantage on her knees, and a moment later the same automobile, driven at
a speed at which the most conscientious of traffic guardians could not
complain, passed them slowly at the left. The young man made an effort
to conceal the fact that he was surveying the girl in the victoria, but
Alice cut short his suspense.

"It is! it is!" she cried, eagerly; and with the recognition made
certain the boy shut off his power, and, springing out of the car, was
beside her before even the discreet coachman could draw up to the curb.

"I thought I couldn't be mistaken - " he began.

"But you weren't sure," Alice finished for him. "You were trying to
remember a little girl with a pigtail down her back and horrid freckles
all over her face - now, weren't you?"

"If that's the way you really looked, I evidently wasn't as fussy about
such things then as I am now," he laughed. "All I remember is that you
were the dandiest little playmate I ever had."

The unexpected compliment caused Alice to turn quickly to Mrs. Gorham.

"This is Allen Sanford, Eleanor; and this, Allen, is my mother, sister,
and dearest friend all in one."

"And my name's Pat," added the child, refusing to be ignored and holding
out her hand cordially.

The boy was even more embarrassed by the unexpected meeting with the
second Mrs. Gorham than to find Alice developed into so lovely and
fascinating a young woman. He had always thought of Alice's step-mother,
when he had thought of her at all, as of a type entirely different from
this slender, attractive woman only a few years older than Alice
herself. There was a self-possession about Mrs. Gorham, a quiet dignity,
which made the difference in their ages seem greater than it really was;
yet, had he not known, Allen would have thought them sisters. His father
was sceptical when he heard of Gorham's second marriage: "It's bigamy,
that's what it is," were Stephen Sanford's words. "Gorham is married to
his business. Everything he touches turns into gold. Business to him is
what a great passion for a woman would be to one man, or a supreme
friendship to another; but the lever which moves Robert Gorham is
neither love nor steel; it is cold, hard cash."

All this flashed through Allen's mind in that brief moment of silence
after the introduction, but the thoughts of at least one of the two
women had been equally active. To Alice this chance meeting recalled a
time in her life sanctified by the loss of her mother, later made easier
to look back upon by the rare sympathy which had existed from the first
between herself and the sweet, tactful woman who had come into her life,
filling the aching void and awakening her to a new interest in her
surroundings. She and Allen had been "chums" in those early days, and it
gratified her to discover that the boy whom she had admired in a
childish way had become a young man so agreeable to look upon and so
little changed, except in growth, from the lad she remembered. His six
feet of height carried him to a greater altitude than of old, his
well-developed arms and shoulders showed a physical strength which his
youth had not promised, but his face wore the same frank, care-free,
irresponsible and good-natured expression which had made him beloved by
all his acquaintances and taken seriously by none.

Allen's smile returned before he found his voice, and was so infectious
that Alice, Mrs. Gorham, and Patricia were also smiling broadly.

"It's awfully good to see you again, Alice," he said, with a sincerity
which could not be doubted; "and to meet you, too, Mrs. Gorham, not
forgetting Lady Pat." And then, as if in explanation, "You see, as Alice
says, she and I were pals when we were youngsters in Pittsburgh, and I
can't realize that now she's grown up into such a - "

"Do you remember the games of baseball we used to play together?" Alice
interrupted.

"Indeed I do," he responded. "She could throw a ball overhand just like
a boy," Allen continued, turning to Mrs. Gorham lest he seem to
discriminate in his attentions.

"She can't do it now, but I can," Patricia remarked, with an air of
superiority, subsiding as Alice glanced meaningly at her.

"And once you thrashed Jim Thatcher for calling me a tomboy. Oh, I
looked upon you as a real story-book hero!"

"I suspect that's the only time on record." Allen laughed again
consciously. "That's one epithet I haven't had hurled at me enough times
to make me nervous." He looked at the horses critically. "You don't
suppose there's any chance of a runaway here to give me another
opportunity, do you?"

"How about the football games, and the races at New London?" Alice
asked.

"What do you know about those?"

"I read all about everything in the papers. Your father was so proud
that he told my father and every one about your college record; so, you
see, your friends had no difficulty in keeping posted."

"My father was proud of me?" Allen demanded, in genuine astonishment.
"Haven't you gotten things a little mixed? That doesn't sound like the
pater at all. He didn't boast any of my record in my studies, did he?"

"Father didn't say." Alice leaned forward mischievously. "Did you get
your degree _cum laude_, Allen?"

"Not exactly," he answered, frankly. "_Cum difficultate_ would be more
like it; but I got it, anyhow."

"And what have you been doing since?" Mrs. Gorham asked.

"I went abroad right after Commencement."

"To perfect yourself in the languages?"

"Well" - the boy hesitated - "that may have been the pater's intention,
but he didn't state it audibly. As a matter of fact, I perfected myself
in running an automobile more than anything else, but I had a corking
good time."

"And now what? You see how inquisitive I am," Alice said.

"And now" - he repeated it after her - "I want to go into business, and
the pater says diplomacy for mine. We've had lots of arguments over it,
until we finally compromised it just as we usually do - by my doing it
his way. So here I am in Washington, awaiting my country's call, ready
to steer the great U.S.A. through any old international complication
they can scare up. But I mustn't keep you and Mrs. Gorham here any
longer. It is just fine to see you again."

"You will come and see us at the hotel," Mrs. Gorham said, warmly
seconded by Alice. "Won't you dine with us to-morrow evening? Mr. Gorham
will be glad to hear about you from yourself."

To-morrow evening seemed far away to Allen, so he supplemented Mrs.
Gorham's invitation by a suggestion that they take a motor ride with him
the following afternoon, which brought the time of their meeting that
much nearer.

For some little time after Allen's machine had disappeared Alice and
Mrs. Gorham continued their drive in silence, and it was Patricia who
spoke first.

"Isn't he the grandest thing?" she remarked. "He's just like one of King
Arthur's knights. And he called me 'Lady Pat.'"

"You dear child," Eleanor cried, impulsively pressing the little form to
her.

"That is exactly what I ought to be," Alice said, abruptly. "Just think
how pleased father would be."

"What ought you to be that you are not, my dear?" Mrs. Gorham inquired,
surprised.

"Why, a boy like Allen just ready to start off on a business career.
That's about the only disappointment father has ever experienced, not
having a son to succeed him. You know as I do how much it would mean to
him to 'found a house,' as he calls it. I've seen him looking at Pat and
me so many times with an expression in his eyes which I understood, and
it has hurt me all through that I couldn't have been the son he longed
for. The aggravating part of it all is that nothing interests me so
much as business. I must have inherited father's love for it. I adore
listening to him when he is discussing some great problem with Mr.
Covington. It seems to me the grandest thing in the world to be able to
influence people, and to create or expand industries and actually to
accomplish results."

Mrs. Gorham understood the girl's mood and knew that it was wiser to let
her run on without interruption.

"I don't feel the same about other things," Alice continued, pausing
from time to time as she became more introspective. "I'm fond of poetry,
of course, but I can't understand how any one can be satisfied to do
nothing else but write poems; I admire art, but with my admiration for
the artist's work there's a real pity for the man because he is debarred
from the world of action. If I were a man I would have to do something
which had a physical as well as an intellectual struggle in it, with a
reward at the end to be striven for which was not expressed alone in the
praise of the world - it would have to be power itself."

"I would rather be a damosel," Patricia put in.

"You are your father's own daughter, Alice," Mrs. Gorham said, as the
girl ceased speaking. "You could not be his child and feel otherwise."

"But that makes it all the harder," Alice rebelled. "It doesn't give me
any chance to do the things I want to do. I must

'_Sigh and cry
And still sit idly by_.'"

The drive was coming to an end, and Mrs. Gorham was unwilling to leave
the conversation at just this point. "There is another side to all this,
Alice dear, which you mustn't overlook," she said, seriously. "It is
woman's part to inspire rather than to do, and the fact that it is often
the more difficult r√іle to play perhaps makes it the nobler part, after
all. The world sings of the bravery of men who go forth to battle; we
older women know that it takes no less courage to let them go and to
content ourselves in our impotency, while they are spurred on by the
excitement which is denied to us. Those of us whom experience has tested
know this, but this realization cannot yet have come to you."

Patricia sighed, deeply, "Oh, yes, mamma Eleanor; this waiting is
awful."

"You mean that we must accept the situation as best we may and
accomplish our results by proxy?" Alice queried, still rebellious.

Mrs. Gorham smiled at the girl's interpretation. "No, dear," she
insisted; "I am not willing to admit that ours is a position of
self-abnegation. We women are denied the privilege of doing, but we
mustn't be unmindful of the blessing which is given in exchange. To me
it is infinitely more satisfying to know that we are the inspiration
which urges men on to do what they could not do without us."

"Of course that's one way of putting it," Alice admitted, interested yet
not convinced; "but, just the same, I'd rather be the one to receive the
inspiration than the one to give it."

On reaching the comfortable apartment occupied by the Gorhams at the
hotel, they found that Mr. Gorham had already returned, accompanied by
his first vice-president, John Covington, and that they were engaged in
close conversation. Mrs. Gorham took Patricia with her to her room, but
Alice immediately joined the two men.

"We have nearly finished our interview, Alice," her father said,
suggestively, after a smile of greeting.

"Please let me sit here and listen," she begged. "I am so interested in
it all."

Gorham acquiesced with a shrug of his shoulders which the girl saw and
felt.

"I don't know but that we have covered the situation, anyway," he said
to Covington. "I shall see Kenmore to-morrow, and if he can be persuaded
to join us, the Consolidated Companies will be just that much
strengthened. You had better return to New York to-night to keep your
eye on the coffee situation, and I will telephone you if I need you here
after I see the Senator."

The two men offered a striking contrast in their personalities. Robert
Gorham was a large man, about fifty years of age, whose whole bearing,
when at rest, suggested the idealist rather than the man of action. His
head was large and intellectual, his chin strong, his mouth firm,
conveying at once an impression of strength and of impenetrable
depth - an inner being which defied complete analysis. Behind the
impassive exterior there was a suggestion of latent reserve force, but
it was not until some thought or word penetrated below the surface that
the real man was revealed. Then it was that the impassive face lighted
up, that the quiet gray eyes flashed fire, that the head bent forward
decisively, and the strong-willed, large-brained leader of men stood
forth.

Covington, on the other hand, ten years Gorham's junior, was slight,
though tall, and was always, in manner, speech, and dress, most
carefully adjusted. He was an organizer of men, as Gorham was the
organizer of companies. Gorham worked so quietly that his purpose
seemed to accomplish itself; Covington won his success by a pitiless
force which left flotsam in its wake. Gorham was beloved and trusted,
Covington was respected for his abilities but dreaded by his
subordinates. It had been necessary for Gorham to supplement himself
with a man who possessed the genius of taking hold of the individual
organizations assimilated by the Consolidated Companies, and
amalgamating those engaged in similar lines into perfect, economic
wholes; and Covington's rare service had proved the wisdom of Gorham's
selection.

Covington noted Alice's disappointment when her father cut short their
interview upon her entrance, though Gorham himself was entirely
oblivious to it.

"I'll tell you all about it when we meet next time," he said to her in a
low tone as he was leaving. "It is always an inspiration to me to talk
these matters over with you."

Alice smiled gratefully but started at the word he used. This man,
acknowledged by her father to be one of the cleverest in the business
world, said that she was an "inspiration" to him. Could this be
possible! This, then, was what Eleanor had meant, this was woman's
mission. But still, she insisted to herself, she would rather be the
recipient than the giver.

As Covington left the room Gorham turned to Alice. "Now I can give
myself wholly to you," he said, holding out his arms affectionately.

"Why did you stop talking with Mr. Covington as soon as I came in?"
Alice asked, reproachfully. "Was it a private matter?"

"No indeed," he laughed, patting her affectionately on the head; "it was
just plain business."

"But I wanted to hear it," she persisted.

"It would have meant nothing to you," her father answered. "If you had
been my son that would be different, but a woman's sphere is outside the
business world. Leave that to the men. Now tell me what has happened
to-day."

Alice knew her father too well to persist further. "Eleanor and I met
Allen Sanford while we were out driving this afternoon," she said.

"Did you?" he asked, with interest. "I knew he was in Washington and
should have told you. His father wrote me about him last week, and I was
planning to invite him here. How has he developed since we used to know
him?"

"Splendidly," Alice answered. "He's a big strapping fellow with the same
handsome, happy face. I should have known him anywhere. He wants to get
started in business, and his father wants him to go into the diplomatic
service."

"So Stephen wrote me." Gorham laughed quietly, turning to his wife, who
had entered a moment before with Patricia. "The boy's father is the
worst enemy he has. He has thoroughly spoiled him all his life, and now
expects him to do great things. He scores him because he has no
initiative, and the first time the youngster tries to exercise it by
expressing his preference for business instead of diplomacy, Stephen
calls him obstinate and ungrateful. Now he wants me to talk with Allen
and persuade him that his father is right."

"If you are not otherwise engaged you'll have a chance to-morrow
evening," remarked Mrs. Gorham; "we have invited him to dine with us."

"Good; I shall be glad to see the boy, and can acquit myself of my
obligation to his father at the same time. Hello, Mistress Patricia," he
added, catching the child in his arms. "What has my little tyrant been
up to?"

"Call me 'Lady Pat,'" she said, grandly. "_He_ named me that."

"Who did?" her father asked, his mind diverted from the previous
conversation.

"Mr. Sanford." Patricia rolled her eyes impressively. "Oh, he's the
grandest thing! He must be a prince in disguise."

"That isn't what his father calls him," laughed Gorham.

"What are you going to advise him?" Eleanor asked.

"I can't tell until I see him and discover how much imagination he has."

"Imagination?" his wife queried.

"Yes; is that a new idea to you? Ability never asserts itself to its
utmost unless fed by the imagination, and I don't know yet whether Allen
possesses either. Success in any line depends upon the extent of a man's
power of imagination."

"Then why don't poets make business successes? They have imaginative
ideas," argued Alice, thinking of her remarks upon this subject earlier
in the afternoon.

"True" - Gorham smiled at her earnestness - "great poets are inspired, but
rarely, if ever, do they apply those inspirations to practical purposes.
That is why they so seldom enter business, and still more rarely succeed
if they do."

His face sobered as the idea took firmer possession of him.

"I differ from the poet only in that I make use of my imaginative ideas
in solving the great business problems of the present and the future
instead of in forming rhymes and metres. To do this I must command
unlimited resources; but what does money mean except the opportunity to
gratify ideals? With this I can force my imagination to produce
utilitarian results."

This would have been Robert Gorham's exposition of his conception of the
Archimedes lever, as opposed to that which Allen Sanford had heard his
father give. To Gorham the power of the lever depended upon the strength
of the imaginative ideals, and the "cold, hard cash" was simply the
necessary fulcrum upon which the lever rested.




II


"The proposition is too gigantic for me even to comprehend."

The Hon. Mr. Kenmore, member of the United States Senate, laid down the
bulky prospectus of the "Consolidated Companies," and looked up into his
caller's genial face.

Gorham flicked the ash from his cigar and smiled good-naturedly. "That
is, perhaps, a natural statement, Mr. Kenmore," he replied,
deliberately. "I am not surprised that you find it difficult to
comprehend the vast possibilities of our enterprise; yet its success,
already established, must convince you that no good argument can be
advanced against its practicability."

"But see what it contemplates!" The Senator again took the prospectus in
his hand and opened the pages. "You propose to control the building and
the manufacturing of the world," he continued, reading aloud from the
prospectus, "and all the allied trades, to construct and deal in all
kinds of machinery, to carry on any other kinds of businesses, to
acquire patents and concessions, to erect and maintain gas and electric
works, to enter into any arrangement with any government, to promote
companies, to lend money - "

"It is summed up in that last clause," Gorham interrupted, quietly; "'to
do all such other things as are incidental or conducive to the
attainment of the above objects.' You see, I know the articles by heart.
May I ask you to glance over the names of the present stockholders?"

Gorham handed a leather-covered record-book to his companion and then
walked to the window, where he quietly smoked his cigar, looking out on
the broad avenue while the Senator scanned the names written in the
small volume. He appeared indifferent to the smothered exclamations
which escaped involuntarily from Kenmore's lips as the latter's eye
passed on from page to page, and for the time being he seemed more
deeply interested in the people passing below on the street. His
calmness was in striking contrast to the Senator's growing excitement.

"By George!" Kenmore exclaimed at length, rising and advancing toward
the window. "This list of names is even more extraordinary than your
stupendous plans."

"Does not each one explain the other?" asked Gorham.

"But how did you ever persuade such men as these to lend themselves to
any enterprise - no matter how attractive? Why, there is hardly an
omission - the leaders of the world in finance, politics, diplomacy,
literature, art, and science."

"There are many omissions, as you would discover if you examined the
list more carefully," Gorham answered; "not the least of which is the
name of the Hon. Mr. Kenmore!"

"I know, I know," the Senator replied, impatiently; "but how did you get
them?"

Gorham looked at his questioner attentively for a moment before he
answered. "The proposition itself appeals to that human instinct which
is more or less developed in us all - self-interest - "

"But that, my dear sir, is nothing more or less than - "

Gorham held up a protesting hand. "Let me save you from using so ugly a
word as you have in mind, Senator. You are fully justified in having
this thought suggest itself to you - such is the business code of morals
of to-day. Yet I consider myself an idealist, and the whole plan on
which the Consolidated Companies is based a moral one. I must have
succeeded in convincing these men, whose characters are admittedly above
reproach, or they could not have been persuaded to become associated
with our corporation."

"Idealism, monopoly, and self-interest seem ill-mated partners, Mr.
Gorham."

"Must monopoly and self-interest always be translated into selfishness
and oppression?"

"As far as I have observed they always have been," Kenmore asserted.

"Perhaps so; but must they necessarily be so exercised? Is it not
possible to control these human instincts to the extent of producing
beneficent results?"

The Senator considered. "I cannot conceive it to be even within the
bounds of possibility."

"Then, unless I can convince you to the contrary, I shall cheerfully
withdraw my proposition," Gorham replied, with decision. "You will
admit, I feel sure, that were I to eliminate self-interest the great
consolidation which we are discussing could not exist."

"Absolutely."

"Will you also admit the possibility - I do not yet say probability - of
conducting an organization such as the Consolidated Companies along
lines which might be for the public good?"

"Provided the public received the benefits of such economies as your
consolidations effected."

"Precisely - or even a part of these economies. Now, many of our
stockholders, whose names you see on that list, are in positions of
trust. Our directors have endeavored to select only those whose
reputations guarantee the honorable observance of their
responsibilities."

"Then how can they serve the Consolidated Companies?"

"Let me explain more clearly," Gorham continued. "A franchise for a
street railway expires - here in Washington, in Chicago, in London, or in


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