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their men together. It was all over. He the girl was in it-he did not look at her. had not been taken.
His father's portrait stood on the desk, and Slowly the two hundred and fifty odd a painting of his long-dead mother. He men who had not been good enough, dis- thought to himself hotly that it was good persed, pluckily laughing and talking to- she was dead rather than see him shamed. gether-all of them, it is safe to say, with For the wound was throbbing with fever, heavy hearts; for Tap Day counts as much and the boy had not got to a sense of proas that at Yale.
portion; his future seemed blackened. His John McLean swung across the diag- father's picture stabbed him; he was a onal of the campus toward Welch Hall "Bones”man-all of his family—his grandwhere he lived. He saw the girl and her father, and the older brothers who had gradchaperon come out of Durfee; and he lin- uated four and six years ago—all of them. gered to meet them. Two days ago he had Except himself. The girl had thought it met the girl here with Brant, and she had such a disgrace that she would not look at stopped and shaken hands. It seemed to him! Then he grew angry. It wasn't him it would help if that should happen to- decent, to hit a man when he was down. day. She might say a word; anything at A woman ought to be gentle—if his mother all to show that she was friends all the same had been alive—but then he was glad she with a fellow who wasn't good enough. He wasn't. With that a sob shook him-starlonged for that. With a sick chaos of pain tled him. Angrily he stood up and glared pounding at what seemed to be his lungs about the place. This wouldn't do; he he met her. Mrs. Anderson was between must pull himself together. He walked them, putting out a quick hand; the boy up and down the little living-room, bright hardly saw her as he took it. He saw the with boys' belongings, with fraternity shields girl, and the girl did not look at him. With and flags and fencing foils and paddles her head up and her brown eyes fixed on and pictures; he walked up and down, Phelps gate-way she hurried along-and did and he whistled “Dunderbeck,” which not look at him. He could not believe it- somehow was in his head. Then he was that girl—the girl. But she was gone; she singing it: had not looked at him. Like a shot animal he suddenly began to run. He got
"Oh Dunderbeck, Oh Dunderbeck, how could
you be so mean to his rooms—they were empty; Baby As even to have thought of such a terrible Thomas, his "wife,” known as Archibald machine! Babington Thomas on the catalogue, but For bob-tailed rats and pussy-cats shall never
more be seen; not elsewhere, had been taken for Scroll and
They'll all be ground to sausage-meat in DunKey; he was off with the others who were 'derbeck's machine.” worth while. This boy went into his tiny bedroom and threw himself down with his There are times when Camembert cheese face in his pillow and lay still. Men and is a steadying thing to think of-or golf women learn—sometimes—as they grow balls. “Dunderbeck” answered for John older, how to shut the doors against disap- McLean. It appeared difficult to sing, howpointments so that only the vital ones cut ever-he harked back to whistling. Then through, but at twenty all doors are open; the clear piping broke suddenly. He bit the iron had come into his soul, and the girl his lower lip and went and sat down behad given it a twist which had taken his last fore the desk again and turned on the elecounce of courage. He lay still a long time, tric reading-lamp. Now he had given in enduring—all he could manage at first. It long enough; now he must face the situamight have been an hour later that he got tion; now was the time to find if there was up and went to his desk and sat down in the any backbone in him to “buck up." To fading light, his hands deep in his trousers fool those chaps by amounting to some- • pockets; his athletic young figure dropped thing. There was good stuff in the boy together listlessly; his eyes staring at the that he applied this caustic and not a desk where he had worked away so many salve. His buoyant light-heartedness whischeerful hours. Pictures hung around it; pered that the fellows made mistakes; that there was a group taken last summer of he was only one of many good chaps left; girls and boys at his home in the country, that Dick Harding had a pull and Jim Stan
ton an older brother-excuses came. But met the keen eyes behind the spectacles, he the boy checked them.
was aware of a look which startled him. “That's not the point; I didn't make it; The boy had graduated at the very head of I didn't deserve it; I've been easy on my- his class; that light in his father's eyes all self; I've got to change; so some day my at once made two years of work a small people won't be ashamed of me-maybe.” thing. Slowly, painfully he fought his way to a “I didn't know you were coming, sir. tentative self-respect. He might not ever That's mighty nice of you," he said, as they be anything big, a power as his father was, walked down Boylston Street together, and but he could be a hard worker, he could his father waited a moment and then spoke make a place. A few days before a fa- in his usual incisive tone. mous speaker had given an address on an “I wouldn't have liked to miss it, Johnethical subject at Yale. A sentence of it ny,” he said. “I don't remember that anycame to the boy's struggling mind. “The thing in my life has ever made me as satiscourage of the commonplace is greater than fied as you have to-day.” the courage of the crisis," the orator had With a gasp of astonishment the young said. That was his chance—"the cour- man looked at him, looked away, looked at age of the commonplace.” No fireworks the tops of the houses, and did not find a for him, perhaps, ever, but, by Jove, work word anywhere. His father had never and will could do a lot, and he could prove spoken to him so; never before, perhaps, himself worthy.
had he said anything as intimate to any of “I'm not through yet, by ginger,” he his sons. They knew that the cold manner said out loud. “I can do my best any- of the great engineer covered depths, but how and I'll show if I'm not fit”—the en- they never expected to see the depths unergetic tone trailed off-he was only a boy covered. But here he was, talking of what of twenty—“not fit to be looked at," he he felt, of character, and honor and effort. finished brokenly.
“I've appreciated what you've been doIt came to him in a vague, comforting ing,” the even voice went on. “I talk little way that probably the best game a man about personal affairs. But I'm not unincould play with his life would be to use it as terested; I watch. I was anxious about a tool to do work with; to keep it at its you. You were a more uncertain quantity brightest, cleanest, most efficient for the than Ted and Harry. Your first three sake of the work. This boy, of no phe- years at Yale were not satisfactory; I was nomenal sort, had one marked quality — afraid you lacked manliness. Then came when he had made a decision he acted on it. —a disappointment. It was a blow to usTo-night through the soreness of a bitter to family pride. I watched you more closedisappointment he put his finger on the ly, and I saw before that year ended that highest note of his character and resolved. you were taking your medicine rightly. I All unknown to himself it was a crisis. wanted to tell you of my contentment, but
It was long past dinner-time, but he being slow of speech I—couldn't. So”dashed out now and got food and when the iron face broke for a second into a Baby Thomas came in he found his room- whimsical grin—“so I offered you a motor. mate sleepy, but quite himself; quite steady And you wouldn't take it. I knew, though in his congratulations as well as normal in you didn't explain, that you feared it would his abuse for "keeping a decent white man interfere with your studies. I was right?” awake to this hour."
Johnny nodded. “Yes, And your last
year at college was-was all I could wish. Three years later the boy graduated from I see now that you needed a blow in the face the Boston “Tech.” As his class poured to wake you up—and you got it. And you from Huntington Hall, he saw his father waked.” The great engineer smiled with waiting for him. He noted with pride, as clean pleasure. “I have had”-he hesihe always did, the tall figure, topped with tated—“I have had always a feeling of rea wonderful head-a mane of gray hair, a sponsibility to your mother for you—more face carved in iron, squared and cut down to than for the others. You were so young the marrow of brains and force-a man to when she died that you seem more her be seen in any crowd. With that, as his own child. I was afraid I had not treated you
well—that it was my fault if you failed.” that Ted, the oldest brother, pushed back
The boy made a gesture—he could not very his chair and stood and lifted his glass. well speak. His father went on: “So when “We'll drink,” he said, and bowed foryou refused the motor, when you went into mally to Johnny, “to the gentleman who engineer's camp that first summer instead is covering us all with glory, to the new of going abroad, I was pleased. Your superintendent of the Oriel mine, Mr. course here has been a satisfaction, without John Archer McLean," and they stood a drawback-keener, certainly, because I and drank the toast. Johnny, more or less am an engineer, and could appreciate, step dizzy, more or less scarlet, crammed his by step, how well you were doing, how hands in his pockets and stared and turned much you were giving up to do it, how redder, and brought out interrogations in much power you were gaining by that long the nervous English which is acquired at sacrifice. I've respected you through these our great institutions of learning. years of commonplace, and I've known how “Gosh! are you all gone dotty ?” he much more courage it meant in a pleasure- asked. And “Is this a merry jape?” And loving lad such as you than it would have “Why, for cat's sake, can't you tell a fellow meant in a serious person such as I am, what's up your sleeve?” While the famsuch as Ted and Harry are, to an extent, ily sipped champagne and regarded him. also.” The older man, proud and strong “Now, if I've squirmed for you enough I and reserved, turned on his son such a shin- wish you'd explain-father, tell me!” the ing face as the boy had never seen. “That boy begged. boyish failure isn't wiped out, Johnny, for And the tale was told by the family, I shall remember it as the corner-stone of in chorus, without politeness, interrupting your career, already built over with an hon- freely. It seemed that the president of the orable record. You've made good. I con- big mine needed a superintendent, and gratulate and I honor you.”
wishing young blood and the latest ideas The boy never knew how he got home. had written to the head of the Mining DeHe knocked his shins badly on a quite visi-partment in the School of Technology to ble railing and it was out of the question to ask if he would give him the name of the say a single word. But if he staggered it ablest man in the graduating class-a man was with an overload of happiness, and if he to be relied on for character as much as was speechless and blind the stricken facul- brains, he specified, for the rough army of ties were paralyzed with joy. His father miners needed a general at their head alwalked beside him and they understood most more than a scientist. Was there such each other. He reeled up the streets con- a combination to be found, he asked, in a tented.
youngster of twenty-three or twenty-four, That night there was a family dinner, such as would be graduating at the"Tech?” and with the coffee his father turned and If possible, he wanted a very young man ordered fresh champagne opened.
-he wanted the enthusiasm, he wanted “We must have a new explosion to the athletic tendency, he wanted the plusdrink to the new superintendent of the Oriel strength, he wanted the unmade reputamine,” he said. Johnny looked at him sur- tion which would look for its making to prised, and then at the others, and the faces hard work in the mine. The letter was prowere bright with the same look of some- duced and read to the shamefaced Johnny. thing which they knew and he did not. “Gosh!” he remarked at intervals and re
“What's up?” asked Johnny. “Who's marked almost nothing else. There was no the superintendent of the Oriel mine? Why need. They were so proud and so glad that do we drink to him? What are you all it was almost too much for the boy who had grinning about, anyway?” The cork flew been a failure three years ago. up to the ceiling, and the butler poured gold On the urgent insistence of every one he bubbles into the glasses, all but his own. made a speech. He got to his six-feet
"Can't I drink to the beggar, too, who- two slowly, and his hands went into his ever he is?” asked Johnny, and pushed his trousers pockets as usual. “Holy mackglass and glanced up at Mullins. But his erel," he began—"I don't call it decent father was beaming at Mullins in a most to knock the wind out of a man and then unusual way and Johnny got no wine. With hold him up for remarks. They all said in college that I talked the darnedest hash unto him for righteousness in the mind of in the class, anyway. But you will have it, the president, of which Johnny himself was will you? I haven't got anything to say, so unaware. Yet the cobwebs grew; there you'd notice it, except that I'll be blamed if was an element not reached by, resentful I see how this is true. Of course I'm keen of, the atmosphere of Johnny's friendlifor it-Keen! I should say I was! And ness—“Terence O'Hara's gang." By the what makes me keenest, I believe, is that I old road of music he had found his way know it's satisfactory to Henry McLean.” to the hearts of many. There were good He turned his bright face to his father. voices among the thousand odd workmen “Any little plugging I've done seems like and Johnny McLean could not well live thirty cents compared to that. You're all without music. He heard Dennis Mullipeaches to take such an interest, and I gan's lovely baritone and Jack Dennison's thank you a lot. Me, the superintendent rolling bass, as they sang at work in the of the Oriel mine! Holy mackerel!” gasped dim tunnels of the coal-mine, and it seemed Johnny, and sat down.
quite simple to him that they and he and
others should meet when work hours were The proportion of work in the battle of over and do some singing. Soon it was life outweighs the "beer and skittles”; as a club—then a big club; it kept men out does the interest. Johnny McLean found of saloons, which Johnny was glad of, but interest in masses, in the drab-and-dun vil- had not planned. A small kindliness seems lage on the prairie. He found pleasure, too, often to be watered and fertilized by magic. and as far as he could reach he tried to share Johnny's music-club grew to be a spell to it; buoyancy and generosity were born in quiet wild beasts. Yet Terence O'Hara and him; strenuousness he had painfully ac- his gang had a strong hold; there was storm quired, and like most converts was a fa- in the air and the distant thunder was heard natic about it. He was splendidly fit; he almost continually. was the best and last output of the best in- Johnny, as he swung up the main street stitution in the country; he went at his of the flat little town, the brick schoolwork like a joyful locomotive. Yet more house and the two churches at one end, goes to explain what he was and what he many saloons en route, and the gray rock did. He developed a faculty for leading dump and the chimneys and shaft-towers of men. The cold bath of failure, the fire of the mine at the other, carried a ribbon of success had tempered the young steel of brightness through the sordid place. Womhim to an excellent quality; bright and en came to the doors to smile at the handsharp, it cut cobwebs in the Oriel mine some young gentleman who took his hat off where cobwebs had been thickening for as if they were ladies; children ran by his months. The boy, normal enough, quite side, and he knocked their caps over their unphenomenal, was growing strong by vir- eyes and talked nonsense to them, and tue of his one strong quality: he did what swung on whistling. But at night, alone he resolved to do. For such a character to in his room, he was serious. How to keep make a vital decision rightly is a career. the men patient; how to use his influence On the night of the Tap Day which had so with them; how to advise the presidentshaken him, he had struck the key-note. He for young as he was he had to do this behad resolved to use his life as if it were a cause of the hold he had gained on the tool in his band to do work, and he had so situation; what concessions were wiseused it. The habit of bigness, once caught, the young face fell into grave lines as he sat, possesses one as quickly as the habit of hands deep in his pockets as usual, and drink; Johnny McLean was as unham- considered these questions. Already the pered by the net of smallnesses which tangle sculptor Life was chiselling away the easy most of us as a hermit; the freedom gave curves with the tool of responsibility. him a power which was fast making a He thought of other things sometimes as marked man of him.
he sat before the wood fire in his old Morris There was dissatisfaction among the chair. His college desk was in the corner miners; a strike was probable; the popu- by the window, and around it hung photolarity of the new superintendent warded it graphs ordered much as they had been in off from month to month, which counted New Haven. The portrait of his father on the desk, the painting of his mother, and And it was not till next morning that Brant, above them, among the boys' faces, that her brother, called to her, as she went upgroup of boys and girls of whom she was stairs after breakfast, in a voice which one, the girl whom he had not forgotten. brought her running back. He had a paHe had not seen her since that Tap Day. per in his hand, and he held it to her. She had written him soon after-an invita- “What is it, Brant? Something bad?” tion for a week-end at her mother's camp “Yes,” he said, breathing fast. “Awful. in the woods. But he would not go. He It's going to make you feel badly, for you sat in the big chair staring into the fire, liked him-poor old Johnny McLean.” in this small room far in the West, and "Johnny McLean?” she repeated. thought about it. No, he could not have Brant went on. . gone to her house-party-how could he? “Yesterday—a mine accident. He went He had thought, poor lunatic, that there down after the entombed men. Not a was an unspoken word between them; that chance." Brant's mouth worked. “He she was different to him from what she was died-like a hero—you know.” The girl to the others. Then she had failed him at stared. the moment of need. He would not be “Died? Is Tohnny McLean dead?” taken back half-way, with the crowd. He She did not fall down, or cry out, but could not. So he had civilly ignored the then Brant knew. Swiftly he came up and hand which she had held out several times, put his big, brotherly arm around her. in several ways. Hurt and proud, yet with- “Wait, my dear," he said. “There's a out conceit, he believed that she kept him ray of hope. Not really hope, you knowat a distance, and he would not risk com- it was certain death he went to—but yet ing too near, and so stayed altogether away. they haven't found—they don't know, abIt happens at times that a big, attractive, solutely, that he's dead." self-possessed man is secretly as shy, as Five minutes later the girl was locked in fanciful as the shyest girl-if he cares. her room with the paper. His name was in Once and again indeed the idea flashed into large letters in the head-lines. She read the mind of Johnny McLean—that perhaps the account over many times, with painsshe had been so sorry that she did not dare taking effort to understand that this meant look at him. But he flung that aside with a Johnny McLean. That he was down savage half-laugh.
there now, while she breathed pure air. “What rot! It's probable that I was im- Many times she read it, dazed. Suddenly portant enough for that, isn't it? You she flashed to the window and threw it fool!” And about then he was likely to get open and beat on the stone sill and dragged up with a spring and attack a new book on her hands across it. Then in a turn she felt pillar and shaft versus the block system of this to be worse than useless and dropped mining coal.
on her knees and found out what prayer is. The busy days went on, and the work She read the paper again, then, and faced grew more absorbing, the atmosphere more things. charged with an electricity which foretold . It was the often-repeated, incredible story tempest. The president, knew that the of men so accustomed to danger that they personality of the young superintendent throw away their lives in sheer carelessness. almost alone held the electricity in solu- A fire down in the third level, five hundred tion; that for months he and his little mu- feet underground; delay in putting it out; sical club and his large popularity had kept shifting of responsibility of one to another, off the strike. Till at last a day came in mistakes and stupidity; then the sudden early May.
discovering that they were all but cut off; We sit at the ends of the earth and sew the panic and the crowding for the shaft, on buttons and play cards while fate wipes and scenes of terror and selfishness and from existence the thing dearest to us. heroism down in the darkness and smotherJohnny's father that afternoon mounted ing smoke. his new saddle-horse and rode through the The newspaper story told how McLean, afternoon lights and shadows of spring. the young superintendent, had come runThe girl, who had not forgotten, either, ning down the street, bareheaded, with his went to a luncheon and the theatre after. light, great pace of an athlete. How, just