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- The Efficiency Expert - 5/31 -


"I have never had any experience in the sash, door and blind business," replied Jimmy. "I didn't come here to make sash, doors and blinds. I came here to manage your business."

Mr. Brown half rose from his chair. His eyes opened a little wider than normal. "What the--" he started; and then, "Well, of all the--" Once again he found it impossible to go on. "You came here to manage a sash, door and blind factory, and don't know anything about the business! Well, of all--"

"I assumed," said Jimmy, "that what you wanted in a general manager was executive ability, and that's what I have."

"What you have," replied Mr. Brown, "is a hell of a crust. Now, run along, young fellow. I am a very busy man--and don't forget to close the door after you as you go out."

Jimmy did not forget to close the door. As he walked the length of the interminable room between rows of desks, before which were seated young men and young women, all of whom Jimmy thought were staring at him, he could feel the deep crimson burning upward from his collar to the roots of his hair.

Never before in his life had Jimmy's self-esteem received such a tremendous jolt. He was still blushing when he reached his cab, and as he drove back toward the Loop he could feel successive hot waves suffuse his countenance at each recollection of the humiliating scene through which he had just passed.

It was not until the next day that Jimmy had sufficiently reestablished his self-confidence to permit him to seek out the party who wished a mail-order manager, and while in this instance he met with very pleasant and gentlemanly treatment, his application was no less definitely turned down.

For a month Jimmy trailed one job after another. At the end of the first week he decided that the street-cars and sole leather were less expensive than taxicabs, as his funds were running perilously low; and he also lowered his aspirations successively from general managerships through departmental heads, assistants thereto, office managers, assistant office managers, and various other vocations, all with the same result; discovering meanwhile that experience, while possibly not essential as some of the ads stated, was usually the rock upon which his hopes were dashed.

He also learned something else which surprised him greatly: that rather than being an aid to his securing employment, his college education was a drawback, several men telling him bluntly that they had no vacancies for rah-rah boys.

At the end of the second week Jimmy had moved from his hotel to a still less expensive one, and a week later to a cheap boarding-house on the north side. At first he had written his father and his mother regularly, but now he found it difficult to write them at all. Toward the middle of the fourth week Jimmy had reached a point where he applied for a position as office-boy.

"I'll be damned if I'm going to quit," he said to himself, "if I have to turn street-sweeper. There must be some job here in the city that I am capable of filling, and I'm pretty sure that I can at least get a job as office-boy."

And so he presented himself to the office manager of a life-insurance company that had advertised such a vacancy. A very kindly gentleman interviewed him.

"What experience have you had?" he asked.

Jimmy looked at him aghast.

"Do I have to have experience to be an office-boy?" he asked.

"Well, of course," replied the gentleman, "it is not essential, but it is preferable. I already have applications from a dozen or more fellows, half of whom have had experience, and one in particular, whom I have about decided to employ, held a similar position with another life-insurance company."

Jimmy rose. "Good day," he said, and walked out.

That day he ate no lunch, but he had discovered a place where an abundance might be had for twenty-five cents if one knew how to order and ordered judiciously. And so to this place he repaired for his dinner. Perched upon a high stool, he filled at least a corner of the aching void within.

Sitting in his room that night he took account of his assets and his liabilities. His room rent was paid until Saturday and this was Thursday, and in his pocket were one dollar and sixty cents. Opening his trunk, he drew forth a sheet of paper and an envelope, and, clearing the top of the rickety little table which stood at the head of his bed, he sat down on the soiled counterpane and wrote a letter.

DEAR DAD:

I guess I'm through, I have tried and failed. It is hard to admit it, but I guess I'll have to. If you will send me the price I'll come home. With love, Jim

Slowly he folded the letter and inserted it in the envelope, his face mirroring an utter dejection such as Jimmy Torrance had never before experienced in his life.

"Failure," he muttered, "unutterable failure."

Taking his hat, he walked down the creaking stairway, with its threadbare carpet, and out onto the street to post his letter.

CHAPTER V.

JIMMY LANDS ONE.

Miss Elizabeth Compton sat in the dimly lighted library upon a deep-cushioned, tapestried sofa. She was not alone, yet although there were many comfortable chairs in the large room, and the sofa was an exceptionally long one, she and her companion occupied but little more space than would have comfortably accommodated a single individual.

"Stop it, Harold," she admonished. "I utterly loathe being mauled."

"But I can't help it, dear. It seems so absolutely wonderful! I can't believe it--that you are really mine."

"But I'm not--yet!" exclaimed the girl.

"There are a lot of formalities and bridesmaids and ministers and things that have got to be taken into consideration before I am yours. And anyway there is no necessity for mussing me up so. You might as well know now as later that I utterly loathe this cave-man stuff. And really, Harold, there is nothing about your appearance that suggests a cave-man, which is probably one reason that I like you."

"Like me?" exclaimed the young man. "I thought you loved me."

"I have to like you in order to love you, don't I?" she parried. "And one certainly has to like the man she is going to marry."

"Well, grumbled Mr. Bince, "you might be more enthusiastic about it."

"I prefer," explained the girl, "to be loved decorously. I do not care to be pawed or clawed or crumpled. After we have been married for fifteen or twenty years and are really well acquainted--"

"Possibly you will permit me to kiss you," Bince finished for her.

"Don't be silly, Harold," she retorted. "You have kissed me so much now that my hair is all down, and my face must be a sight. Lips are what you are supposed to kiss with--you don't have to kiss with your hands."

"Possibly I was a little bit rough. I am sorry," apologized the young man. "But when a fellow has just been told by the sweetest girl in the world that she will marry him, it's enough to make him a little bit crazy."

"Not at all," rejoined Miss Compton. "We should never forget the stratum of society to which we belong, and what we owe to the maintenance of the position we hold. My father has always impressed upon me the fact that gentlemen or gentlewomen are always gentle-folk under any and all circumstances and conditions. I distinctly recall his remark about one of his friends, whom he greatly admired, to this effect: that he always got drunk like a gentleman. Therefore we should do everything as gentle-folk should do things, and when we make love we should make love like gentlefolk, and not like hod-carriers or cavemen."

"Yes," said the young man; "I'll try to remember."

It was a little after nine o'clock when Harold Bince arose to leave.

"I'll drive you home," volunteered the girl. "Just wait, and I'll have Barry bring the roadster around."

"I thought we should always do the things that gentle-folk should do," said Bince, grinning, after being seated safely in the car. They had turned out of the driveway into Lincoln Parkway.

"What do you mean?" asked Elizabeth.

"Is it perfectly proper for young ladies to drive around the streets of a big city alone after dark?"

"But I'm not alone," she said.

"You will be after you leave me at home."

"Oh, well, I'm different."

"And I'm glad that you are!" exclaimed Bince fervently. "I wouldn't love you if you were like the ordinary run."

Bince lived at one of the down-town clubs, and after depositing him there and parting with a decorous handclasp the girl turned her machine


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