There came a time, however, when all this excitement and wrath and quarrelin_egan to unnerve Eugene and to make him feel that he could not indefinitel_tand the strain. After all, his was the artistic temperament, not that of _ommercial or financial genius. He was too nervous and restless. For one thin_e was first astonished, then amused, then embittered by the continua_ravesty on justice, truth, beauty, sympathy, which he saw enacted before hi_yes. Life stripped of its illusion and its seeming becomes a rather deadl_hing to contemplate. Because of the ruthless, insistent, inconsiderat_ttitude of this employer, all the employees of this place followed hi_xample, and there was neither kindness nor courtesy—nor even raw justic_nywhere. Eugene was compelled to see himself looked upon from the beginning, not so much by his own staff as by the other employees of the company, as _an who could not last long. He was disliked forsooth because Summerfiel_isplayed some liking for him, and because his manners did not coincid_xactly with the prevailing standard of the office. Summerfield did not inten_o allow his interest in Eugene to infringe in any way upon his commercia_xactions, but this was not enough to save or aid Eugene in any way. Th_thers disliked him, some because he was a true artist to begin with, becaus_f his rather distant air, and because in spite of himself he could not tak_hem all as seriously as he should.
Most of them seemed little mannikins to him—little second, third, and fourt_ditions or copies of Summerfield. They all copied that worthy's insisten_ir. They all attempted to imitate his briskness. Like children, they wer_nclined to try to imitate his bitter persiflage and be smart; and the_emanded, as he said they should, the last ounce of consideration and dut_rom their neighbors. Eugene was too much of a philosopher not to take much o_his with a grain of salt, but after all his position depended on his activit_nd his ability to get results, and it was a pity, he thought, that he coul_xpect neither courtesy nor favor from anyone. Departmental chiefs stormed hi_oom daily, demanding this, that, and the other work immediately. Artist_omplained that they were not getting enough pay, the business manager raile_ecause expenses were not kept low, saying that Eugene might be an improvemen_n the matter of the quality of the results obtained and the speed o_xecution, but that he was lavish in his expenditure. Others cursed openly i_is presence at times, and about him to his employer, alleging that th_xecution of certain ideas was rotten, or that certain work was delayed, o_hat he was slow or discourteous. There was little in these things, a_ummerfield well knew from watching Eugene, but he was too much a lover o_uarrels and excitement as being productive of the best results in the lon_un to wish to interfere. Eugene was soon accused of delaying work generally, of having incompetent men (which was true), of being slow, of being a_rtistic snob. He stood it all calmly because of his recent experience wit_overty, but he was determined to fight ultimately. He was no longer, or a_east not going to be, he thought, the ambling, cowardly, dreaming Witla h_ad been. He was going to stand up, and he did begin to.
"Remember, you are the last word here, Witla," Summerfield had told him on on_ccasion. "If anything goes wrong here, you're to blame. Don't make an_istakes. Don't let anyone accuse you falsely. Don't run to me. I won't hel_ou."
It was such a ruthless attitude that it shocked Eugene into an attitude o_efiance. In time he thought he had become a hardened and a change_an—aggressive, contentious, bitter.
"They can all go to hell!" he said one day to Summerfield, after a terrifi_ow about some delayed pictures, in which one man who was animated by persona_nimosity more than anything else had said hard things about him. "The thin_hat's been stated here isn't so. My work is up to and beyond the mark. Thi_ndividual here"—pointing to the man in question—"simply doesn't like me. Th_ext time he comes into my room nosing about I'll throw him out. He's a damne_akir, and you know it. He lied here today, and you know that."
"Good for you, Witla!" exclaimed Summerfield joyously. The idea of a fightin_ttitude on Eugene's part pleased him. "You're coming to life. You'll ge_omewhere now. You've got the ideas, but if you let these wolves run over yo_hey'll do it, and they'll eat you. I can't help it. They're all no good. _ouldn't trust a single God-damned man in the place!"
So it went. Eugene smiled. Could he ever get used to such a life? Could h_ver learn to live with such cheap, inconsiderate, indecent little pups?
Summerfield might like them, but he didn't. This might be a marvellou_usiness policy, but he couldn't see it. Somehow it seemed to reflect th_ental attitude and temperament of Mr. Daniel C. Summerfield and nothing more.
Human nature ought to be better than that.
It is curious how fortune sometimes binds up the wounds of the past, cover_ver the broken places as with clinging vines, gives to the miseries an_ental wearinesses of life a look of sweetness and comfort. An illusion o_erfect joy is sometimes created where still, underneath, are cracks an_cars. Here were Angela and Eugene living together now, beginning to b_isited by first one and then the other of those they had known in the past, seemingly as happy as though no storm had ever beset the calm of their presen_ailing. Eugene, despite all his woes, was interested in this work. He like_o think of himself as the captain of a score of men, having a handsome offic_esk, being hailed as chief by obsequious subordinates and invited here an_here by Summerfield, who still liked him. The work was hard, but it was s_uch more profitable than anything he had ever had before. Angela was happier, too, he thought, than she had been in a long time, for she did not need t_orry about money and his prospects were broadening. Friends were coming bac_o them in a steady stream, and they were creating new ones. It was possibl_o go to a seaside resort occasionally, winter or summer, or to entertai_hree or four friends at dinner. Angela had a maid. The meals were served wit_onsiderable distinction under her supervision. She was flattered to hear nic_hings said about her husband in her presence, for it was whispered abroad i_rt circles with which they were now slightly in touch again that half th_ffectiveness of the Summerfield ads was due to Eugene's talent. It was n_hame for him to come out now and say where he was, for he was getting a goo_alary and was a department chief. He, or rather the house through him, ha_ade several great hits, issuing series of ads which attracted the attentio_f the public generally to the products which they advertised. Experts in th_dvertising world first, and then later the public generally, were beginnin_o wonder who it was that was primarily responsible for the hits.
The Summerfield company had not had them during the previous six years of it_istory. There were too many of them coming close together not to make a ne_ra in the history of the house. Summerfield, it was understood about th_ffice, was becoming a little jealous of Eugene, for he could not brook th_resence of a man with a reputation; and Eugene, with his five thousan_ollars in cash in two savings banks, with practically two thousand fiv_undred dollars' worth of tasteful furniture in his apartment and with a ten- thousand life-insurance policy in favor of Angela, was carrying himself wit_uite an air. He was not feeling so anxious about his future.
Angela noted it. Summerfield also. The latter felt that Eugene was beginnin_o show his artistic superiority in a way which was not entirely pleasant. H_as coming to have a direct, insistent, sometimes dictatorial manner. All th_riving Summerfield had done had not succeeded in breaking his spirit.
Instead, it had developed him. From a lean, pale, artistic soul, wearing _oft hat, he had straightened up and filled out until now he looked more lik_ business man than an artist, with a derby hat, clothes of the latest cut, _ing of oriental design on his middle finger, and pins and ties whic_eflected the prevailing modes.
Eugene's attitude had not as yet changed completely, but it was changing. H_as not nearly so fearsome as he had been. He was beginning to see that he ha_alents in more directions than one, and to have the confidence of this fact.
Five thousand dollars in cash, with two or three hundred dollars being adde_onthly, and interest at four per cent, being paid upon it, gave him a reserv_f self-confidence. He began to joke Summerfield himself, for he began t_ealize that other advertising concerns might be glad to have him. Word ha_een brought to him once that the Alfred Cookman Company, of which Summerfiel_as a graduate, was considering making him an offer, and the Twine-Campbel_ompany, the largest in the field, was also interested in what he was doing.
His own artists, mostly faithful because he had sought to pay them well and t_elp them succeed, had spread his fame greatly. According to them, he was th_ole cause of all the recent successes which had come to the house, which wa_ot true at all.
A number, perhaps the majority, of things recently had started with him; bu_hey had been amplified by Summerfield, worked over by the ad-writin_epartment, revised by the advertisers themselves, and so on and so forth, until notable changes had been effected and success achieved. There was n_oubt that Eugene was directly responsible for a share of this. His presenc_as inspiring, constructive. He keyed up the whole tone of the Summerfiel_ompany merely by being there; but he was not all there was to it by many _ong step. He realized this himself.
He was not at all offensively egotistic—simply surer, calmer, more genial, less easily ruffled; but even this was too much. Summerfield wanted _rightened man, and seeing that Eugene might be getting strong enough to sli_way from him, he began to think how he should either circumvent his possibl_udden flight, or discredit his fame, so that if he did leave he would gai_othing by it. Neither of them was directly manifesting any ill-will o_ndicating his true feelings, but such was the situation just the same. Th_hings which Summerfield thought he might do were not easy to do under an_ircumstances. It was particularly hard in Eugene's case. The man wa_eginning to have an air. People liked him. Advertisers who met him, the bi_anufacturers, took note of him. They did not understand him as a trad_igure, but thought he must have real force. One man—a great real estat_lunger in New York, who saw him once in Summerfield's office—spoke to th_atter about him.
"That's a most interesting man you have there, that man Witla," he said, whe_hey were out to lunch together. "Where does he come from?"
"Oh, the West somewhere!" replied Summerfield evasively. "I don't know. I'v_ad so many art directors I don't pay much attention to them."
Winfield (ex-Senator Kenyon C. Winfield, of Brooklyn) perceived a sligh_ndercurrent of opposition and belittling. "He looks like a bright fellow," h_aid, intending to drop the subject.
"He is, he is," returned Summerfield; "but like all artists, he's flighty.
They're the most unstable people in the world. You can't depend upon them.
Good for one idea today—worth nothing tomorrow—I have to handle them like _ot of children. The weather sometimes makes all the difference in the world."
Winfield fancied this was true. Artists generally were worth nothing i_usiness. Still, he remembered Eugene pleasantly.
As Summerfield talked here, so was it in the office and elsewhere. He began t_ay in the office and out that Eugene was really not doing as well as h_ight, and that in all likelihood he would have to drop him. It was sad; bu_ll directors, even the best of them, had their little day of ability an_sefulness, and then ran to seed. He did not see why it was that all thes_irectors failed so, but they did. They never really made good in the company.
By this method, his own undiminished ability was made to stand out free an_lear, and Eugene was not able to appear as important. No one who kne_nything about Eugene, however, at this time believed this; but they di_elieve—in the office—that he might lose his position. He was too bright—to_uch of a leader. They felt that this condition could not continue in a one- man concern; and this made the work harder, for it bred disloyalty in certai_uarters. Some of his men were disposed to counsel with the enemy.
But as time passed and in spite of the change of attitude which was comin_ver Summerfield, Eugene became even stronger in his own self-esteem. He wa_ot getting vainglorious as yet—merely sure. Because of his art work his ar_onnections had revived considerably, and he had heard again from such men a_ouis Deesa, M. Charles, Luke Severas, and others who now knew where he wa_nd wondered why he did not come back to painting proper. M. Charles wa_isgusted. "A great error," he said. He always spoke of him to others as _reat loss to art. Strange to relate, one of his pictures was sold the sprin_ollowing his entry into the Summerfield Company, and another the followin_inter. Each netted him two hundred and fifty dollars, Pottle Frères being th_gents in one case, Jacob Bergman in the other. These sales with thei_onsequent calls for additional canvases to show, cheered him greatly. He fel_atisfied now that if anything happened to him he could go back to his art an_hat he could make a living, anyhow.
There came a time when he was sent for by Mr. Alfred Cookman, the advertisin_gent for whom Summerfield had worked; but nothing came of that, for th_atter did not care to pay more than six thousand a year and Summerfield ha_nce told Eugene that he would eventually pay him ten thousand if he staye_ith him. He did not think it was fair to leave him just then, and, besides, Cookman's firm had not the force and go and prestige which Summerfield had a_his time. His real chance came some six months later, when one of th_ublishing houses of Philadelphia having an important weekly to market, bega_ooking for an advertising manager.
It was the policy of this house to select young men and to select from amon_ll the available candidates just the one particular one to suit the fancy o_he owner and who had a record of successful effort behind him. Now Eugene wa_ot any more an advertising manager by experience than he was an art director, but having worked for Summerfield for nearly two years he had come to know _reat deal about advertising, and the public thought he knew a great dea_ore. He knew by now just how Summerfield had his business organized. He kne_ow he specialized his forces, giving this line to one and that line t_nother. He had been able to learn by sitting in conferences and consultation_hat it was that advertisers wanted, how they wanted their goods displayed, what they wanted said. He had learned that novelty, force and beauty were th_eynotes and he had to work these elements out under the most galling fire s_ften that he knew how it ought to be done. He knew also about commissions, rebates, long-time contracts, and so forth. He had fancied more than once tha_e might run a little advertising business of his own to great profit if h_nly could find an honest and capable business manager or partner. Since thi_erson was not forthcoming, he was content to bide his time.
But the Kalvin Publishing Company of Philadelphia had heard of him. In hi_earch for a man, Obadiah Kalvin, the founder of the company, had examine_any individuals through agents in Chicago, in St. Louis, in Baltimore, Boston, and New York, but he had not yet made up his mind. He was slow in hi_ecisions, and always flattered himself that once he made a selection he wa_ure of a good result. He had not heard of Eugene until toward the end of hi_earch, but one day in the Union Club in Philadelphia, when he was talking t_ big advertising agent with whom he did considerable business, the latte_aid:
"I hear you are looking for an advertising manager for your weekly."
"I am," he said.
"I heard of a man the other day who might suit you. He's with the Summerfiel_ompany in New York. They've been getting up some very striking ads of late, as you may have noticed."
"I think I have seen some of them," replied Kalvin.
"I'm not sure of the man's name—Witla, or Gitla, or some such thing as that; but, anyhow, he's over there, and they say he's pretty good. Just what he i_n the house I don't know. You might look him up."
"Thanks; I will," replied Kalvin. He was really quite grateful, for he was no_uite satisfied with any of those he had seen or heard of. He was an old man, extremely sensitive to ability, wanting to combine force with refinement if h_ould; he was a good Christian, and was running Christian, or rather thei_appy correlatives, decidedly conservative publications. When he went back t_is office he consulted with his business partner, a man named Fredericks, wh_eld but a minor share in the company, and asked him if he couldn't find ou_omething about this promising individual. Fredericks did so. He called u_ookman, in New York, who was delighted to injure his old employee, Summerfield, to the extent of taking away his best man if he could. He tol_redericks that he thought Eugene was very capable, probably the most capabl_oung man in the field, and in all likelihood the man he was looking for—_ustler.
"I thought once of hiring him myself here not long ago," he told Fredericks.
"He has ideas, you can see that."
The next thing was a private letter from Mr. Fredericks to Mr. Witla asking i_y any chance he could come over to Philadelphia the following Saturda_fternoon, indicating that there was a business proposition of considerabl_mportance which he wished to lay before him.
From the paper on which it was written Eugene could see that there wa_omething important in the wind, and laid the matter before Angela. Th_atter's eyes glistened.
"I'd certainly go if I were you," she advised. "He might want to make yo_usiness manager or art director or something. You can be sure they don'_ntend to offer you less than you're getting now, and Mr. Summerfiel_ertainly has not treated you very well, anyhow. You've worked like a slav_or him, and he's never kept his agreement to raise your salary as much as h_aid he would. It may mean our having to leave New York; but that doesn't mak_ny difference for a while. You don't intend to stay in this field, anyhow.
You only want to stay long enough to get a good sound income of your own."
Angela's longing for Eugene's art career was nevertheless being slightl_tilled these days by the presence and dangled lure of money. It was a grea_hing to be able to go downtown and buy dresses and hats to suit the seasons.
It was a fine thing to be taken by Eugene Saturday afternoons and Sundays i_eason to Atlantic City, to Spring Lake, and Shelter Island.
"I think I will go over," he said; and he wrote Mr. Fredericks a favorabl_eply.
The latter met him at the central station in Philadelphia with his auto an_ook him out to his country place in the Haverford district. On the way h_alked of everything but business—the state of the weather, the condition o_he territory through which they were traveling, the day's news, the natur_nd interest of Eugene's present work. When they were in the Fredericks house, where they arrived in time for dinner, and while they were getting ready fo_t, Mr. Obadiah Kalvin dropped in—ostensibly to see his partner, but really t_ook at Eugene without committing himself. He was introduced to Eugene, an_hook hands with him cordially. During the meal he talked with Eugene _ittle, though not on business, and Eugene wondered why he had been called. H_uspected, knowing as he did that Kalvin was the president of the company, that the latter was there to look at him. After dinner Mr. Kalvin left, an_ugene noted that Mr. Fredericks was then quite ready to talk with him.
"The thing that I wanted you to come over and see me about is in regard to ou_eekly and the advertising department. We have a great paper over here, as yo_now," he said. "We are intending to do much more with it in the future tha_e have in the past even. Mr. Kalvin is anxious to get just the man to tak_harge of the advertising department. We have been looking for someone fo_uite a little while. Several people have suggested your name, and I'm rathe_nclined to think that Mr. Kalvin would be pleased to see you take it. Hi_isit here today was purely accidental, but it was fortunate. He had a chanc_o look at you, so that if I should propose your name he will know just wh_ou are. I think you would find this company a fine background for you_fforts. We have no penny-wise-and-pound-foolish policy over here. We kno_hat any successful thing is made by the men behind it, and we are willing t_ay good money for good men. I don't know what you are getting where you are, and I don't care very much. If you are interested I should like to talk to Mr.
Kalvin about you, and if he is interested I should like to bring you tw_ogether for a final conference. The salary will be made right, you needn'_orry about that. Mr. Kalvin isn't a small man. If he likes a man—and I thin_e might like you—he'll offer you what he thinks you're worth and you can tak_t or leave it. I never heard anyone complain about the salary he offered."
Eugene listened with extreme self-gratulation. He was thrilling from head t_oe. This was the message he had been expecting to hear for so long. He wa_etting five thousand now, he had been offered six thousand. Mr. Kalvin coul_o no less than offer him seven or eight—possibly ten. He could easily as_even thousand five hundred.
"I must say," he said innocently, "the proposition sounds attractive to me.
It's a different kind of thing—somewhat—from what I have been doing, but _hink I could handle it successfully. Of course, the salary will determine th_hole thing. I'm not at all badly placed where I am. I've just got comfortabl_ettled in New York, and I'm not anxious to move. But I would not be oppose_o coming. I have no contract with Mr. Summerfield. He has never been willin_o give me one."
"Well, we are not keen upon contracts ourselves," said Mr. Fredericks. "It'_ot a very strong reed to lean upon, anyhow, as you know. Still a contrac_ight be arranged if you wish it. Supposing we talk a little further to Mr.
Kalvin today. He doesn't live so far from here," and with Eugene's consent h_ent to the phone.
The latter had supposed that the conversation with Mr. Kalvin was somethin_hich would necessarily have to take place at some future date; but from th_onversation then and there held over the phone it appeared not. Mr.
Fredericks explained elaborately over the phone—as though it wa_ecessary—that he had been about the work of finding an advertising manage_or some time, as Mr. Kalvin knew, and that he had some difficulty in findin_he right man.
"I have been talking to Mr. Witla, whom you met here today, and he i_nterested in what I have been telling him about the _Weekly_. He strikes m_rom my talk with him here as being possibly the man you are looking for. _hought that you might like to talk with him further."
Mr. Kalvin evidently signified his assent, for the machine was called out an_hey traveled to his house, perhaps a mile away. On the way Eugene's mind wa_usy with the possibilities of the future. It was all so nebulous, this tal_f a connection with the famous Kalvin Publishing Company; but at the sam_ime it was so significant, so potential. Could it be possible that he wa_oing to leave Summerfield, after all, and under such advantageou_ircumstances? It seemed like a dream.
Mr. Kalvin met them in the library of his house, which stood in a spaciou_awn and which save for the lights in the library was quite dark an_pparently lonely. And here their conversation was continued. He was a quie_an—small, gray-haired, searching in his gaze. He had, as Eugene noted, littl_ands and feet, and appeared as still and composed as a pool in dull weather.
He said slowly and quietly that he was glad that Eugene and Mr. Fredericks ha_ad a talk. He had heard a little something of Eugene in the past; not much.
He wanted to know what Eugene thought of current advertising policies, what h_hought of certain new developments in advertising method, and so on, at som_ength.
"So you think you might like to come with us," he observed drily toward th_nd, as though Eugene had proposed coming.
"I don't think I would object to coming under certain conditions," he replied.
"And what are those conditions?"
"Well, I would rather hear what you have to suggest, Mr. Kalvin. I really a_ot sure that I want to leave where I am. I'm doing pretty well as it is."
"Well, you seem a rather likely young man to me," said Mr. Kalvin. "You hav_ertain qualities which I think I need. I'll say eight thousand for this year, and if everything is satisfactory one year from this time I'll make it ten.
After that we'll let the future take care of itself."
"Eight thousand! Ten next year!" thought Eugene. The title of advertisin_anager of a great publication! This was certainly a step forward!
"Well, that isn't so bad," he said, after a moment's apparent reflection. "I'_e willing to take that, I think."
"I thought you would," said Mr. Kalvin, with a dry smile. "Well, you and Mr.
Fredericks can arrange the rest of the details. Let me wish you good luck,"
and he extended his hand cordially.
Eugene took it.
It did not seem as he rode back in the machine with Mr. Fredericks to th_atter's house—for he was invited to stay for the night—that it could reall_e true. Eight thousand a year! Was he eventually going to become a grea_usiness man instead of an artist? He could scarcely flatter himself that thi_as true, but the drift was strange. Eight thousand this year! Ten the next i_e made good; twelve, fifteen, eighteen—— He had heard of such salaries in th_dvertising field alone, and how much more would his investments bring him. H_oresaw an apartment on Riverside Drive in New York, a house in the countr_erhaps, for he fancied he would not always want to live in the city. A_utomobile of his own, perhaps; a grand piano for Angela; Sheraton o_hippendale furniture; friends, fame—what artist's career could compare t_his? Did any artist he knew enjoy what he was enjoying now, even? Why shoul_e worry about being an artist? Did they ever get anywhere? Would the approva_f posterity let him ride in an automobile now? He smiled as he recalle_ula's talk about class superiority—the distinction of being an artist, eve_hough poor. Poverty be hanged! Posterity could go to the devil! He wanted t_ive now—not in the approval of posterity.