The Summerfield Advertising Agency, of which Mr. Daniel C. Summerfield wa_resident, was one of those curious exfoliations or efflorescences of th_ersonality of a single individual which is so often met with in the busines_orld, and which always means a remarkable individual behind them. The ideas,
the enthusiasm, the strength of Mr. Daniel C. Summerfield was all there was t_he Summerfield Advertising Agency. It was true there was a large force of me_orking for him, advertising canvassers, advertising writers, financia_ccountants, artists, stenographers, book-keepers and the like, but they wer_ll as it were an emanation or irradiation of the personality of Mr. Daniel C.
Summerfield. He was small, wiry, black-haired, black-eyed, black-mustached,
with an olive complexion and even, pleasing, albeit at times wolfish, whit_eeth which indicated a disposition as avid and hungry as a disposition wel_ight be.
Mr. Summerfield had come up into his present state of affluence or comparativ_ffluence from the direst poverty and by the directest route—his persona_fforts. In the State in which he had originated, Alabama, his family had bee_nown, in the small circle to which they were known at all, as poor whit_rash. His father had been a rather lackadaisical, half-starved cotton plante_ho had been satisfied with a single bale or less of cotton to the acre on th_round which he leased, and who drove a lean mule very much the worse for ag_nd wear, up and down the furrows of his leaner fields the while he complaine_f "the misery" in his breast. He was afflicted with slow consumption o_hought he was, which was just as effective, and in addition had hook-worm,
though that parasitic producer of hopeless tiredness was not yet discovere_nd named.
Daniel Christopher, his eldest son, had been raised with scarcely an_ducation, having been put in a cotton mill at the age of seven, bu_evertheless he soon manifested himself as the brain of the family. For fou_ears he worked in the cotton mill, and then, because of his unusua_rightness, he had been given a place in the printing shop of the Wickha_nion, where he was so attractive to the slow-going proprietor that he soo_ecame foreman of the printing department and then manager. He knew nothing o_rinting or newspapers at the time, but the little contact he obtained her_oon cleared his vision. He saw instantly what the newspaper business was, an_ecided to enter it. Later, as he grew older, he suspected that no one kne_ery much about advertising as yet, or very little, and that he was called b_od to revise it. With this vision of a still wider field of usefulness in hi_ind, he began at once to prepare himself for it, reading all manner o_dvertising literature and practicing the art of display and effectiv_tatement. He had been through such bitter things as personal fights wit_hose who worked under him, knocking one man down with a heavy iron form key;
personal altercation with his own father and mother in which he frankly tol_hem that they were failures, and that they had better let him show the_omething about regulating their hopeless lives. He had quarreled with hi_ounger brothers, trying to dominate them, and had succeeded in controllin_he youngest, principally for the very good reason that he had becom_oolishly fond of him; this younger brother he later introduced into hi_dvertising business. He had religiously saved the little he had earned thu_ar, invested a part of it in the further development of the Wickham _Union_ ,
bought his father an eight acre farm, which he showed him how to work, an_inally decided to come to New York to see if he could not connect himsel_ith some important advertising concern where he could learn something mor_bout the one thing that interested him. He was already married, and h_rought his young wife with him from the South.
He soon connected himself as a canvasser with one of the great agencies an_dvanced rapidly. He was so smiling, so bland, so insistent, so magnetic, tha_usiness came to him rapidly. He became the star man in this New York concer_nd Alfred Cookman, who was its owner and manager, was soon pondering what h_ould do to retain him. No individual or concern could long retain Daniel C.
Summerfield, however, once he understood his personal capabilities. In tw_ears he had learned all that Alfred Cookman had to teach him and more than h_ould teach him. He knew his customers and what their needs were, and wher_he lack was in the service which Mr. Cookman rendered them. He foresaw th_rift toward artistic representation of saleable products, and decided to g_nto that side of it. He would start an agency which would render a service s_omplete and dramatic that anyone who could afford to use his service woul_ake money.
When Eugene first heard of this agency, the Summerfield concern was six year_ld and rapidly growing. It was already very large and profitable and as har_nd forceful as its owner. Daniel C. Summerfield, sitting in his privat_ffice, was absolutely ruthless in his calculations as to men. He had studie_he life of Napoleon and had come to the conclusion that no individual lif_as important. Mercy was a joke to be eliminated from business. Sentiment wa_illy twaddle. The thing to do was to hire men as cheaply as possible, t_rive them as vigorously as possible, and to dispose of them quickly when the_howed signs of weakening under the strain. He had already had five ar_irectors in as many years, had "hired and fired," as he termed it,
innumerable canvassers, ad writers, book-keepers, stenographers,
artists—getting rid of anyone and everyone who showed the least sign o_ncapacity or inefficiency. The great office floor which he maintained was _odel of cleanliness, order—one might almost say beauty of a commercial sort,
but it was the cleanliness, order and beauty of a hard, polished and well-
oiled machine. Daniel C. Summerfield was not much more than that, but he ha_ong ago decided that was what he must be in order not to be a failure, _ool, and as he called it, "a mark," and he admired himself for being so.
When Mr. Baker Bates at Hudson Dula's request went to Mr. Summerfield i_egard to the rumored vacancy which really existed, the latter was in a mos_eceptive frame of mind. He had just come into two very important advertisin_ontracts which required a lot of imagination and artistic skill to execute,
and he had lost his art director because of a row over a former contract. I_as true that in very many cases—in most cases, in fact—his customers had ver_efinite ideas as to what they wanted to say and how they wanted to say it,
but not always. They were almost always open to suggestions as t_odifications and improvements, and in a number of very important cases the_ere willing to leave the entire theory of procedure to the Summerfiel_dvertising Company. This called for rare good judgment not only in th_reparation, but in the placing of these ads, and it was in the matter o_heir preparation—the many striking ideas which they should embody—that th_udgment and assistance of a capable art director of real imagination was mos_aluable.
As has already been said, Mr. Summerfield had had five art directors in almos_s many years. In each case he had used the Napoleonic method of throwing _resh, unwearied mind into the breach of difficulty, and when it wearied o_roke under the strain, tossing it briskly out. There was no compunction o_ity connected with any detail of this method. "I hire good men and I pay the_ood wages," was his favorite comment. "Why shouldn't I expect good results?"
If he was wearied or angered by failure he was prone to exclaim—"Thes_oddamned cattle of artists! What can you expect of them? They don't kno_nything outside their little theory of how things ought to look. They don'_now anything about life. Why, God damn it, they're like a lot of children.
Why should anybody pay any attention to what they think? Who cares what the_hink? They give me a pain in the neck." Mr. Daniel C. Summerfield was ver_uch given to swearing, more as a matter of habit than of foul intention, an_o picture of him would be complete without the interpolation of his favorit_xpressions.
When Eugene appeared on the horizon as a possible applicant for thi_elightful position, Mr. Daniel C. Summerfield was debating with himself jus_hat he should do in connection with the two new contracts in question. Th_dvertisers were awaiting his suggestions eagerly. One was for the nation-wid_dvertising of a new brand of sugar, the second for the international displa_f ideas in connection with a series of French perfumes, the sale of whic_epended largely upon the beauty with which they could be interpreted to th_ay mind. The latter were not only to be advertised in the United States an_anada, but in Mexico also, and the fulfilment of the contracts in either cas_as dependent upon the approval given by the advertisers to the designs fo_ewspaper, car and billboard advertising which he should submit. It was _icklish business, worth two hundred thousand dollars in ultimate profits, an_aturally he was anxious that the man who should sit in the seat of authorit_n his art department should be one of real force and talent—a genius i_ossible, who should, through his ideas, help him win his golden harvest.
The right man naturally was hard to find. The last man had been only fairl_apable. He was dignified, meditative, thoughtful, with considerable taste an_pprehension as to what the material situation required in driving home simpl_deas, but he had no great imaginative grasp of life. In fact no man who ha_ver sat in the director's chair had ever really suited Mr. Summerfield.
According to him they had all been weaklings. "Dubs; fakes; hot air artists,"
were some of his descriptions of them. Their problem, however, was a hard one,
for they had to think very vigorously in connection with any product which h_ight be trying to market, and to offer him endless suggestions as to wha_ould be the next best thing for a manufacturer to say or do to attrac_ttention to what he had to sell. It might be a catch phrase such as "Have Yo_een This New Soap?" or "Do You Know Soresda?—It's Red." It might be that _ovelty in the way of hand or finger, eye or mouth was all that was required,
carrying some appropriate explanation in type. Sometimes, as in the case o_ery practical products, their very practical display in some clear,
interesting, attractive way was all that was needed. In most cases, though,
something radically new was required, for it was the theory of Mr. Summerfiel_hat his ads must not only arrest the eye, but fix themselves in the memory,
and convey a fact which was or at least could be made to seem important to th_eader. It was a struggling with one of the deepest and most interestin_hases of human psychology.
The last man, Older Freeman, had been of considerable use to him in his way.
He had collected about him a number of fairly capable artists—men temporaril_own on their luck—who like Eugene were willing to take a working position o_his character, and from them he had extracted by dint of pleading, cajoling,
demonstrating and the like a number of interesting ideas. Their working hour_ere from nine to five-thirty, their pay meagre—eighteen to thirty-five, wit_xperts drawing in several instances fifty and sixty dollars, and their task_nnumerable and really never-ending. Their output was regulated by a tabulate_ecord system which kept account of just how much they succeeded i_ccomplishing in a week, and how much it was worth to the concern. The idea_n which they worked were more or less products of the brains of the ar_irector and his superior, though they occasionally themselves made importan_uggestions, but for their proper execution, the amount of time spent on them,
the failures sustained, the art director was more or less responsible. H_ould not carry to his employer a poor drawing of a good idea, or a poor ide_or something which required a superior thought, and long hope to retain hi_osition. Mr. Daniel C. Summerfield was too shrewd and too exacting. He wa_eally tireless in his energy. It was his art director's business, he thought,
to get him good ideas for good drawings and then to see that they wer_roperly and speedily executed.
Anything less than this was sickening failure in the eyes of Mr. Summerfield,
and he was not at all bashful in expressing himself. As a matter of fact, h_as at times terribly brutal. "Why the hell do you show me a thing like that?"
he once exclaimed to Freeman. "Jesus Christ; I could hire an ashman and ge_etter results. Why, God damn it, look at the drawing of the arm of tha_oman. Look at her ear. Whose going to take a thing like that? It's tame! It'_unk! It's a joke! What sort of cattle have you got out there working for you,
anyhow? Why, if the Summerfield Advertising Company can't do better than tha_ might as well shut up the place and go fishing. We'll be a joke in si_eeks. Don't try to hand me any such God damned tripe as that, Freeman. Yo_now better. You ought to know our advertisers wouldn't stand for anythin_ike that. Wake up! I'm paying you five thousand a year. How do you expect I'_oing to get my money back out of any such arrangement as that? You're simpl_asting my money and your time letting a man draw a thing like that. Hell!!"
The art director, whoever he was, having been by degrees initiated into th_rutalities of the situation, and having—by reason of the time he had bee_mployed and the privileges he had permitted himself on account of hi_omfortable and probably never before experienced salary—sold himself int_ondage to his now fancied necessities, was usually humble and tractable unde_he most galling fire. Where could he go and get five thousand dollars a yea_or his services? How could he live at the rate he was living if he lost thi_lace? Art directorships were not numerous. Men who could fill them fairl_cceptably were not impossible to find. If he thought at all and was not _eaven-born genius serene in the knowledge of his God-given powers, he wa_ery apt to hesitate, to worry, to be humble and to endure a good deal. Mos_en under similar circumstances do the same thing. They think before the_ling back into the teeth of their oppressors some of the slurs and bruta_haracterizations which so frequently issue therefrom. Most men do. Beside_here is almost always a high percentage of truth in the charges made. Usuall_he storm is for the betterment of mankind. Mr. Summerfield knew this. He kne_lso the yoke of poverty and the bondage of fear which most if not all his me_ere under. He had no compunctions about using these weapons, much as a stron_an might use a club. He had had a hard life himself. No one had sympathize_ith him very much. Besides you couldn't sympathize and succeed. Better loo_he facts in the face, deal only with infinite capacity, roughly weed out th_ncompetents and proceed along the line of least resistance, in so far as you_owerful enemies were concerned. Men might theorize and theorize until th_rack of doom, but this was the way the thing had to be done and this was th_ay he preferred to do it.
Eugene had never heard of any of these facts in connection with th_ummerfield Company. The idea had been flung at him so quickly he had no tim_o think, and besides if he had had time it would have made no difference. _ittle experience of life had taught him as it teaches everyone else t_istrust rumor. He had applied for the place on hearing and he was hoping t_et it. At noon the day following his visit to Mr. Baker Bates, the latter wa_peaking for him to Mr. Summerfield, but only very casually.
"Say," he asked, quite apropos of nothing apparently, for they were discussin_he chances of his introducing his product into South America, "do you eve_ave need of an art director over in your place?"
"Occasionally," replied Summerfield guardedly, for his impression was that Mr.
Baker Bates knew very little of art directors or anything else in connectio_ith the art side of advertising life. He might have heard of his present nee_nd be trying to palm off some friend of his, an incompetent, of course, o_im. "What makes you ask?"
"Why, Hudson Dula, the manager of the Triple Lithographic Company, was tellin_e of a man who is connected with the _World_ who might make a good one fo_ou. I know something of him. He painted some rather remarkable views of Ne_ork and Paris here a few years ago. Dula tells me they were very good."
"Is he young?" interrupted Summerfield, calculating.
"Yes, comparatively. Thirty-one or two, I should say."
"And he wants to be an art director, does he. Where is he?"
"He's down on the _World_ , and I understand he wants to get out of there. _eard you say last year that you were looking for a man, and I thought thi_ight interest you."
"What's he doing down on the _World_?"
"He's been sick, I understand, and is just getting on his feet again."
The explanation sounded sincere enough to Summerfield.
"What's his name?" he asked.
"Witla, Eugene Witla. He had an exhibition at one of the galleries here a fe_ears ago."
"I'm afraid of these regular high-brow artists," observed Summerfiel_uspiciously. "They're usually so set up about their art that there's n_iving with them. I have to have someone with hard, practical sense in m_ork. Someone that isn't a plain damn fool. He has to be a good manager—a goo_dministrator, mere talent for drawing won't do—though he has to have that, o_now it when he sees it. You might send this fellow around sometime if yo_now him. I wouldn't mind looking at him. I may need a man pretty soon. I'_hinking of making certain changes."
"If I see him I will," said Baker indifferently and dropped the matter.
Summerfield, however, for some psychological reason was impressed with th_ame. Where had he heard it? Somewhere apparently. Perhaps he had better fin_ut something about him.
"If you send him you'd better give him a letter of introduction," he adde_houghtfully, before Bates should have forgotten the matter. "So many peopl_ry to get in to see me, and I may forget."
Baker knew at once that Summerfield wished to look at Witla. He dictated _etter of introduction that afternoon to his stenographer and mailed it t_ugene.
"I find Mr. Summerfield apparently disposed to see you," he wrote. "You ha_etter go and see him if you are interested. Present this letter. Very trul_ours."
Eugene looked at it with astonishment and a sense of foregoneness so far a_hat was to follow. Fate was fixing this for him. He was going to get it. Ho_trange life was! Here he was down on the _World_ working for fifty dollars _eek, and suddenly an art directorship, a thing he had thought of for years,
was coming to him out of nowhere! Then he decided to telephone Mr. Danie_ummerfield, saying that he had a letter from Mr. Baker Bates and asking whe_e could see him. Later he decided to waste no time, but to present the lette_irect without phoning. At three in the afternoon he received permission fro_enedict to be away from the office between three and five, and at three-
thirty he was in the anteroom of the general offices of the Summerfiel_dvertising Company, waiting for a much desired permission to enter.