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- Jane Cable - 2/52 -
"What about? And what's that got to do with Mr. Medford taking me in to dinner?"
"Just this: Suppose Mrs. Rowden..."
"Mrs. Rowden!" The girl was nonplussed.
"Yes--wants to find out who's in the club? She 'phones Garrison. Instantly, after ascertaining which set--younger or older is wanted, from a small card upon which he has written a few but choice names of club members, he submits a name to her."
"Really, you don't mean to tell me that such a thing is actually done?" exclaimed Miss Cable, who as yet was socially so unsophisticated as to be horrified; "you're joking, of course!"
"But nine time out of ten," ignoring the interruption; "it is met with: 'Don't want him!' Another: 'Makes a bad combination!' A third: 'Oh, no, my dear, not a dollar to his name--hopelessly ineligible!' This last exclamation though intended solely for the visitor at her home, elicits from Garrison a low chuckle of approval of the speaker's discrimination; and presently, he hears: 'Goodness me, Garrison, there must be someone else!' Then, to her delights she is informed that Mr. Jackson has just come in; and he is requested to come to the 'phone, Garrison being dismissed with thanks and the expectation of seeing her butler in the morning."
"How perfectly delicious!" came from the girl. "I can almost hear Mrs. Rowden telling Jackson that he will be the dearest boy in the world if he will dine with her."
"And bring someone with him, as she is one man short," laughed Graydon, as he wound up lightly; "and here is where the professional comes in. We're all onto Medford! Why, Garrison has half a dozen requests a night--six times five--thirty dollars. Not bad--but then the man's a 'who's who' that never makes mistakes. I won't be positive that he does not draw pay from both ends. For, men like Medford, outside of the club, probably tip him to give them the preference. It would be good business."
There was so much self-satisfaction in the speaker's manner of uttering these last words, that it would not have required the wisdom of one older than Miss Cable to detect that he was thoroughly enjoying his pose of man of the world. He was indeed young! For, he had yet to learn that not to disillusion the girl, but to conform as much as possible to her ideals, was the surest way to win her favour; and his vanity surely would have received a blow had not David Cable at that moment come out of the doorway across the sidewalk, pausing for a moment to converse with the man who accompanied him. The girl's face lighted with pleasure and relief; but the young man regarding uneasily the countenance of the General Manager of the Pacific, Lakes & Atlantic R.R. Company, saw that he was white, tired and drawn. It was not the keen, alert expression that had been the admiration of everyone; something vital seemed to be missing, although he could not have told what it was. A flame seemed to have died somewhere in his face, leaving behind a faint suggestion of ashes; and through the young man's brain there flashed the remark of his fair companion: 'He's in there now, working his dear, old brain to pieces.'
"I'm sorry to have kept you waiting, Jane," said Cable, crossing to the curb. "Hello, Graydon; how are you?" His voice was sharp, crisp, and louder than the occasion seemed to demand, but it was natural with him. Years of life in an engine cab do not serve to mellow the tone of the human voice, and the habit is too strong to be overcome. There was no polish to the tones as they issued from David Cable's lips. He spoke with more than ordinary regard for the Queen's English, but it was because he never had neglected it. It was characteristic of the man to do a thing as nearly right as he knew how in the beginning, and to do it. the same way until a better method presented itself.
"Very well, thank you, Mr. Cable, except that Jane has been abusing me because you were not here to---"
"Don't you believe a word he says, dad," she cried.
"Oh, if the truth isn't in me, I'll subside," laughed Graydon. "Nevertheless, you've kept her waiting, and it's only reasonable that she should abuse somebody."
"I am glad you were here to receive it; it saves my grey hairs."
"Rubbish!" was Miss Cable's simple comment, as her father took his place beside her.
"Oh, please drive on, Jane," said the young man, his admiring eyes on the girl who grasped the reins afresh and straightened like a soldier for inspection. "I must run around to the University Club and watch the score of the Yale-Harvard game at Cambridge. It looks like Harvard, hang it all! Great game, they say---"
"There he goes on football. We must be off, or it will be dark before we get away from him. Good-bye!" cried Miss Cable.
"How's your father, Gray? He wasn't feeling the best in the world, yesterday," said Cable, tucking in the robe.
"A case of liver, Mr. Cable; he's all right to-day. Good-bye!"
As Jane and her father whirled away, the latter gave utterance to a remark that brought a new brightness to her eyes and a proud throbbing to her heart; but he did not observe the effect.
"Bright, clever chap--that Graydon Bansemer," he said comfortably.
The General Manager of the Pacific, Lakes & Atlantic Railroad System had had a hard struggle of it. He who begins his career with a shovel in a locomotive cab usually has something of that sort to look back upon. There are no roses along the pathway he has traversed. In the end, perhaps, he wonders if it has been worth while. David Cable was a General Manager; he had been a fireman. It had required twenty-five years of hard work on his part to break through the chrysalis. Packed away in a chest upstairs in his house there was a grimy, greasy, unwholesome suit of once-blue overalls. The garments were just as old as his railroad career, for he had worn them on his first trip with the shovel. When his wife implored him to throw away the "detestable things," he said, with characteristic humour, that he thought he would keep them for a rainy day. It was much simpler to go from General Manager to fireman than vice versa, and it might be that he would need the suit again. It pleased him to hear his wife sniff contemptuously.
David Cable had been a wayward, venturesome youth. His father and mother had built their hopes high with him as a foundation, and he had proved a decidedly insecure basis; for one night, in the winter of 1863, he stole away from his home in New York; before spring he was fighting in the far Southland, a boy of sixteen carrying a musket in the service of his country.
At the close of the Civil War Private Cable, barely eighteen, returned to his home only to find that death had destroyed its happiness: his father had died, leaving his widowed mother a dependant upon him. It was then, philosophically, he realised that labour alone could win for him; and he stuck to it with rigid integrity. In turn, he became brakeman and fireman; finally his determination and faithfulness won him a fireman's place on one of the fast New York Central "runs." If ever he was dissatisfied with the work, no one was the wiser.
Railroading in those days was not what it is in these advanced times. Then, it meant that one was possessed of all the evil habits that fall to the lot of man. David Cable was more or less contaminated by contact with his rough, ribald companions of the rail, and he glided moderately into the bad habits of his kind. He drank and "gamboled" with the rest of the boys; but by nature not being vicious and low, the influences were not hopelessly deadening to the better qualities of his character. To his mother, he was always the strong, good-hearted, manly boy, better than all the other sons in the world. She believed in him; he worshipped her; and it was not until he was well up in the twenties that he stopped to think that she was not the only good woman in the world who deserved respect.
Up in Albany lived the Widow Coleman and her two pretty daughters. Mrs. Coleman's husband died on the battlefield, and she, like many women in the North and the South, after years of moderate prosperity, was compelled to support herself and her family. She had been a pretty woman, and one readily could see where her daughters got their personal attractiveness. Not many doors from the boisterous little eating-house in which the railroad men snatched their meals as they went through, the widow opened a book and newsstand. Her home was on the floor above the stand, and it was there she brought her little girls to womanhood. Good-looking, harum-scarum Dave Cable saw Frances Coleman one evening as he dropped in to purchase a newspaper. It was at the end of June, in 1876, and the country was in the throes of excitement over the first news of the Custer massacre on the Little Big Horn River.
Cable was deeply interested, for he had seen Custer fighting at the front in the sixties. Frances Coleman, the prettiest girl he had ever seen, sold him the newspaper. After that, he seldom went through Albany without visiting the little book shop.
Tempestuous, even arrogant in love, Cable, once convinced that he cared for her, lost no time in claiming her, whether or no. In less than three months after the Custer massacre they were married.
Defeated rivals unanimously and enviously observed that the handsomest fireman on the road had conquered the mo&t outrageous little coquette between New York and Buffalo. As a matter of fact, she had loved him from the start; the others served as thorns with which she delightedly pricked his heart into subjection.
The young husband settled down, renounced all of his undesirable habits and became a new man with such surprising suddenness that
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