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Chapter 37

  • The best positions are not always free from the most disturbing difficulties,
  • for great responsibility goes with great opportunity; but Eugene went gaily t_his new task, for he knew that it could not possibly be much more difficul_han the one he was leaving. Truly, Summerfield had been a terrible man t_ork for. He had done his best by petty nagging, insisting on endles_ariations, the most frank and brutal criticism, to break down Eugene'_mperturbable good nature and make him feel that he could not reasonably hop_o handle the situation without Summerfield's co-operation and assistance. Bu_e had only been able, by so doing, to bring out Eugene's better resources.
  • His self-reliance, coolness under fire, ability to work long and ardently eve_hen his heart was scarcely in it, were all strengthened and developed.
  • "Well, luck to you, Witla," he said, when Eugene informed him one morning tha_e was going to leave and wished to give him notice.
  • "You needn't take me into consideration. I don't want you to stay if you'r_oing to go. The quicker the better. These long drawn-out agonies over leavin_on't interest me. There's nothing in that. Clinch the job today if you wan_t. I'll find someone."
  • Eugene resented his indifference, but he only smiled a cordial smile in reply.
  • "I'll stay a little while if you want me to—one or two weeks—I don't want t_ie up your work in any way."
  • "Oh, no, no! You won't tie up my work. On your way, and good luck!"
  • "The little devil!" thought Eugene; but he shook hands and said he was sorry.
  • Summerfield grinned imperturbably. He wound up his affairs quickly and go_ut. "Thank God," he said the day he left, "I'm out of that hell hole!" But h_ame to realize afterward that Summerfield had rendered him a great service.
  • He had forced him to do his best and utmost, which no one had ever don_efore. It had told in his character, his spiritual make-up, his ver_ppearance. He was no longer timid and nervous, but rather bold an_etermined-looking. He had lost that fear of very little things, for he ha_een sailing through stormy seas. Little storms did not—could neve_gain—really frighten him. He had learned to fight. That was the one grea_hing Summerfield had done for him.
  • In the offices of the Kalvin Company it was radically different. Here wa_omparative peace and quiet. Kalvin had not fought his way up by clubbin_ittle people through little difficulties, but had devoted himself to thinkin_ut a few big things, and letting them because of their very bigness an_ewness make their own way and his. He believed in big men, honest men—th_iggest and most honest he could find. He saw something in Eugene, a tendenc_oward perfection perhaps which attracted him.
  • The formalities of this new arrangement were soon concluded, and Eugene cam_nto his new and beautiful offices, heralded by the word recently passed abou_hat he was a most charming man. He was greeted by the editor, Townsen_iller, in the most cordial manner. He was met by his assembled staff in th_ost friendly spirit. It quite took Eugene's breath away to realize that h_as the responsible head of some fifteen capable advertising men here i_hiladelphia alone, to say nothing of eight more in a branch office in Chicag_nd traveling canvassers in the different parts of the country—the far West,
  • the South, the Southwest, the Canadian Northwest. His material surrounding_ere much more imposing than they had been with the Summerfield Company. Th_dea of all these men was to follow up business, to lay interestin_ropositions before successful merchants and manufacturers who had not ye_ried the columns of the _North American Weekly_ , to make contracts whic_hould be mutually advantageous to the advertiser and the _Weekly_ , and t_ain and retain good-will according to the results rendered. It was no ver_ifficult task in connection with the _North American Weekly_ to do this,
  • because owing to a novel and appealing editorial policy it was already i_ossession of a circulation of five hundred thousand a week, and was rapidl_aining more. It was not difficult, as Eugene soon found, to show advertiser_n most cases that this was a proposition in which worth-while results coul_e obtained. What with Eugene's fertility in suggesting new methods o_dvertising, his suaveness of approach and geniality in laying before the mos_ecalcitrant his very desirable schemes, his ability to get ideas an_uggestions out of his men in conference, he was really in no danger of no_eing able to hold his own, and indeed was destined to make a rathe_emarkable showing.
  • Eugene and Angela settled into what might have been deemed a fixed attitude o_omfort and refinement. Without much inconvenience to himself and with littl_riction among those about, he had succeeded in reorganizing his staff alon_ines which were eminently satisfactory to himself. Some men who were formerl_ith the Summerfield Company were now with him. He had brought them because h_ound he could inculcate in them the spirit of sympathetic relationship an_ood understanding such as Kalvin desired. He was not making the progres_hich Summerfield was making with really less means at his command, but then,
  • on the other hand, this was a rich company which did not ask or expect an_uch struggle as that which Summerfield had been and was still compelled t_ake for himself. The business ethics of this company were high. It believe_n clean methods, good salaries, honest service. Kalvin liked him, and he ha_ne memorable conversation with Eugene some time after he came there—almost _ear—which stuck in his memory and did him much good. Kalvin saw clearl_herein both his strength and his weakness lay, and once said to Fredericks,
  • his business manager: "The one thing I like about that man is his readines_ith ideas. He always has one, and he's the most willing man to try I eve_new. He has imagination. He needs to be steadied in the direction of sobe_hought, so that he doesn't promise more than he can fulfil. Outside this _ee nothing the matter with him."
  • Fredericks agreed. He liked Eugene also. He did as much as he could to mak_hings smooth, but of course Eugene's task was personal and to be worked ou_y him solely. Kalvin said to him when it became necessary to raise hi_alary:
  • "I've watched your work for a year now and I'm going to keep my word and rais_our salary. You're a good man. You have many excellent qualities which I wan_nd need in the man who sits at that desk; but you have also some failings. _on't want you to get offended. A man in my position is always like a fathe_ho sits at the head of a family, and my lieutenants are like my sons. I hav_o take an interest in them because they take an interest in me. Now you'v_one your work well—very well, but you are subject to one fault which ma_ometime lead into trouble. You're a little too enthusiastic. I don't thin_ou stop to think enough. You have a lot of ideas. They swarm in your hea_ike bees, and sometimes you let them all out at once and they buzz around yo_nd confuse you and everyone else connected with you. You would really be _etter man if you had, not less ideas—I wouldn't say that—but better contro_f them. You want to do too many things at once. Go slow. Take your time. Yo_ave lots of time. You're young yet. Think! If you're in doubt, come down an_onsult with me. I'm older in this business than you are, and I'll help yo_ll I can."
  • Eugene smiled and said: "I think that's true."
  • "It is true," said Kalvin; "and now I want to speak of another thing which i_ little more of a personal matter, and I don't want you to take offence, fo_'m saying it for your benefit. If I'm any judge of men, and I flatter mysel_ometimes that I am, you're a man whose greatest weakness lies—and, mind you,
  • I have no actual evidence to go upon, not one scrap—your greatest weaknes_ies perhaps not so much in the direction of women as in a love of luxur_enerally, of which women might become, and usually are, a very conspicuou_art."
  • Eugene flushed the least bit nervously and resentfully, for he thought he ha_onducted himself in the most circumspect manner here—in fact, everywher_ince the days he had begun to put the Riverwood incident behind him.
  • "Now I suppose you wonder why I say that. Well, I raised two boys, both dea_ow, and one was just a little like you. You have so much imagination that i_uns not only to ideas in business, but ideas in dress and comfort and friend_nd entertainment. Be careful of the kind of people you get in with. Stick t_he conservative element. It may be hard for you, but it's best for you,
  • materially speaking. You're the kind of man, if my observations and intuition_re correct, who is apt to be carried away by his ideals of anything—beauty,
  • women, show. Now I have no ascetic objections to women, but to you they ar_angerous, as yet. At bottom, I don't think you have the making of a real col_usiness man in you, but you're a splendid lieutenant. I'll tell you frankly _on't think a better man than you has ever sat, or could sit, in that chair.
  • You are very exceptional, but your very ability makes you an uncertai_uantity. You're just on the threshold of your career. This additional tw_housand dollars is going to open up new opportunities to you. Keep cool. Kee_ut of the hands of clever people. Don't let subtle women come near. You'r_arried, and for your sake I hope you love your wife. If you don't, preten_o, and stay within the bounds of convention. Don't let any scandal eve_ttach to you. If you do it will be absolutely fatal so far as I am concerned.
  • I have had to part with a number of excellent men in my time because a littl_oney turned their heads and they went wild over some one woman, or man_omen. Don't you be that way. I like you. I'd like to see you get along. B_old if you can. Be careful. Think. That's the best advice I can give you, an_ wish you luck."
  • He waved him a dismissal, and Eugene rose. He wondered how this man had see_o clearly into his character. It was the truth, and he knew it was. Hi_nmost thoughts and feelings were evidently written where this man could se_hem. Fittingly was he president of a great company. He could read men.
  • He went back into his office and decided to take this lesson to heart. He mus_eep cool and sane always. "I guess I've had enough experience to know that,
  • though, by now," he said and dismissed the idea from his mind.
  • For this year and the year following, when his salary was raised to twelv_housand, Eugene flourished prodigiously. He and Miller became better friend_han ever. Miller had advertising ideas which were of value to Eugene. Eugen_ad art and editorial ideas which were of value to Miller. They were togethe_ great deal at social functions, and were sometimes hailed by thei_ompanions as the "Kalvin Kids," and the "Limelight Twins." Eugene learned t_lay golf with Miller, though he was a slow student and never good, and als_ennis. He and Mrs. Miller, Angela and Townsend, frequently made a set o_heir own court or over at Miller's. They automobiled and rode a great deal.
  • Eugene met some charming women, particularly young ones, at dances, of whic_e had become very fond, and at dinners and receptions. They and the Miller_ere invited to a great many affairs, but by degrees it became apparent t_im, as it did to Miller and Mrs. Miller, that his presence was much mor_esired by a certain type of smart woman than was that of his wife.
  • "Oh, he is so clever!" was an observation which might have been heard i_arious quarters. Frequently the compliment stopped there and nothing was sai_f Angela, or later on it would come up that she was not quite so nice. No_hat she was not charming and worthy and all that, "But you know, my dear, sh_sn't quite so available. You can't use her as you can some women."
  • It was at this time that Angela first conceived the notion seriously that _hild might have a sobering effect on Eugene. She had, in spite of the fac_hat for some time now they had been well able to support one or more, and i_pite also of the fact that Eugene's various emotional lapses indicated tha_e needed a sobering weight of some kind, steadily objected in her mind to th_dea of subjecting herself to this ordeal. To tell the truth, aside from th_are and worry which always, owing to her early experience with her sister'_hildren, had been associated in her mind with the presence of them, she wa_ecidedly afraid of the result. She had heard her mother say that most girl_n their infancy showed very clearly whether they were to be good health_others or not—whether they were to have children—and her recollection wa_hat her mother had once said that she would not have any children. She hal_elieved it to be impossible in her case, though she had never told this t_ugene, and she had guarded herself jealously against the chance of havin_ny.
  • Now, however, after watching Eugene all these years, seeing the drift of hi_resent mood, feeling the influence of prosperity on him, she wished sincerel_hat she might have one, without great danger or discomfort to herself, i_rder that she might influence and control him. He might learn to love it. Th_ense of responsibility involved would have its effect. People would look t_im to conduct himself soberly under these circumstances, and he probabl_ould—he was so subject to public opinion now. She thought of this a lon_ime, wondering, for fear and annoyance were quite strong influences with her,
  • and she did nothing immediately. She listened to various women who talked wit_er from time to time about the child question, and decided that perhaps i_as very wrong not to have children—at least one or two; that it was ver_ikely possible that she could have one, if she wanted to. A Mrs. Sanifore wh_alled on her quite frequently in Philadelphia—she met her at th_illers'—told her that she was sure she could have one even if she was pas_he usual age for first babies; for she had known so many women who had.
  • "If I were you, Mrs. Witla, I would see a doctor," she suggested one day. "H_an tell you. I'm sure you can if you want to. They have so many ways o_ieting and exercising you which make all the difference in the world. I'_ike to have you come some day and see my doctor, if you will."
  • Angela decided that she would, for curiosity's sake, and in case she wished t_ct in the matter some time; and was informed by the wiseacre who examined he_hat in his opinion there was no doubt that she could. She would have t_ubject herself to a strict regimen. Her muscles would have to be softened b_ome form of manipulation. Otherwise, she was apparently in a healthy, norma_ondition and would suffer no intolerable hardship. This pleased and soothe_ngela greatly. It gave her a club wherewith to strike her lord—a chai_herewith to bind him. She did not want to act at once. It was too serious _atter. She wanted time to think. But it was pleasant to know that she coul_o this. Unless Eugene sobered down now——
  • During the time in which he had been working for the Summerfield Company an_ince then for the Kalvin Company here in Philadelphia, Eugene, in spite o_he large salary he was receiving—more each year—really had not saved so muc_oney. Angela had seen to it that some of his earnings were invested i_ennsylvania Railroad stock, which seemed to her safe enough, and in a plot o_round two hundred by two hundred feet at Upper Montclair, New Jersey, nea_ew York, where she and Eugene might some day want to live. His busines_ngagements had necessitated considerable personal expenditures, hi_pportunity to enter the Baltusrol Golf Club, the Yere Tennis Club, th_hiladelphia Country Club, and similar organizations had taken annual sums no_reviously contemplated, and the need of having a modest automobile, not _ouring car, was obvious. His short experience with that served as a lesson,
  • however, for it was found to be a terrific expense, entirely disproportionat_o his income. After paying for endless repairs, salarying a chauffeu_earisomely, and meeting with an accident which permanently damaged the look_f his machine, he decided to give it up. They could rent autos for all th_ses they would have. And so that luxury ended there.
  • It was curious, too, how during this time their Western home relations fel_ather shadowily into the background. Eugene had not been home now for nearl_wo years, and Angela had seen only David of all her family since she had bee_n Philadelphia. In the fall of their third year there Angela's mother die_nd she returned to Blackwood for a short time. The following spring Eugene'_ather died. Myrtle moved to New York; her husband, Frank Bangs, was connecte_ith a western furniture company which was maintaining important show rooms i_ew York. Myrtle had broken down nervously and taken up Christian Science,
  • Eugene heard. Henry Burgess, Sylvia's husband, had become president of th_ank with which he had been so long connected, and had sold his father'_aper, the Alexandria _Appeal_ , when the latter suddenly died. Marietta wa_romising to come to Philadelphia next year, in order, as she said, tha_ugene might get her a rich husband; but Angela informed him privately tha_arietta was now irrevocably engaged and would, the next year, marry a wealth_isconsin lumber man. Everyone was delighted to hear that Eugene was doing s_ell, though all regretted the lapse of his career as an artist. His fame a_n advertising man was growing, and he was thought to have considerable weigh_n the editorial direction of the _North American Weekly_. So he flourished.