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“You see through me very easily, don't you? Well, the situation is changed. I'm being bribed.”
“ Bribed!” Amy cried, throwing her head back.
“Extra inducements offered. They make it hard for me to refuse, without seeming positively brutal. They offer me complete charge – to do as I want.
to do as I want. I can run the works absolutely according to my own ideas. Don't you see how I am going to hurt them when I refuse under such circumstances?" “Refuse!” cried Amy. “Refuse! What do you mean!”
“ “Do you think I ought to leave the Service?" stammered Bob blankly.
“Why, it's the best chance the Service has ever had!” said Amy, the words fairly tumbling over one another. “You must never dream of refusing. It's your chance it's our chance. It's the one thing we've lacked, the opportunity of showing lumbermen everywhere that the thing can be made to pay. It's the one thing we've lacked. Oh, what a chance!" “But — but," objected Bob — "it means giving up the
- ” Service – after these years and all the wide interests and the work —
“You must take it,” she swept him away, “and you must do it with all your power and all the ability that is in you. You must devote yourself to one idea — make money, make it pay!”
“This from you," said Bob sadly.
a it's the one fear that has haunted me lest some visionary incompetent should attempt it, and should fail dismally, and all the great world of business should visit our methods with the scorn due only his incompetence. It was our great danger! And now it is no longer a danger! You can do it, Bob; you have the knowledge and the ability and the energy
and you must have the enthusiasm. Can't you see it? You must!"
She leaned over, her eyes shining with the excitement of her thought, to shake him by both shoulders. The pan of peas promptly deluged him. They both laughed.
“I'd never looked at it that way,” Bob confessed. “It's the only way to look at it.”
“Why!” cried Bob, in the sudden illumination of a new idea. “The more money I make, the more good I'll do that's a brand new idea for you!”
He rose to his feet, slowly, and stood for a moment lost in thought. Then he looked down at her, a fresh admiration shining in his eyes.
"Yours is the inspiration and the insight — as always," he said humbly. “It has always been so. I have seemed to myself to have blundered and stumbled, groping for a way; and you have flown, swift as a shining arrow, straight to the mark."
“No, no, no, no!" she disclaimed, coming close to him in the vigour of her denial. “You are unfair."
She looked up into his face, and somehow in the earnestness of her disclaimer, the feminine soul of her rose to her eyes, so that again Bob saw the tender, appealing helplessness, and once more there arose to full tide in his breast the answering tenderness that would care for her and guard her from the rough jostling of the world. The warmth of her young body tingled in recollection along his arm, and then, strangely enough, without any other direct cause whatever, the tide rose higher to flood his soul. He drew her to him, crushing her to his breast. For an instant she yielded to him utterly; then drew away in a panic.
“My dear, my dear!” she half whispered; "not here!”
OB rode home through the forest, singing at the top of his voice. When he met his father, near the
lower meadow, he greeted the older man boisterously. “That,” said Orde to him shrewdly, "sounds to me mighty like relief. Have you decided for or against?"
“For," said Bob. “It's a fine chance for me to do just what I've always wanted to do to work hard at what interests me and satisfies me.”
“Go to it, then," said Orde. "By the way, Bobby, how old are you now?”
"Well, you're a year younger than I was when I started in with Newmark. You're ahead of me there. But in other respects, my son, your father had a heap more sense; he got married, and he didn't waste any time on it. How long have you been living around in range of that Thorne girl, anyway? Somebody ought to build a fire under you."
a Bob hesitated a moment; but he preferred that his good news should come to his father when Amy could be there, too.
“I'm glad you like her, father," said he quietly.
Orde looked at his son, and his voice fell from its chaffing tone. “Good luck, boy,” said he, and leaned from his saddle to touch the young man on the shoulder.
They emerged into the clearing about the mill. Bob looked on the familiar scene with the new eyes of a great spiritual uplift. The yellow sawdust and the sawn lumber; the dark forest beyond; the bulk of the mill with its tall pines; the dazzling plume of steam against the very blue sky, all these appealed to him again with many voices, as they had
years before in far-off Michigan. Once more he was back where his blood called him; but under conditions which his training and the spirit of the new times could approve. His heart exulted at the challenge to his young manhood.
As he rode by the store he caught sight within its depths of Merker methodically waiting on a stolid squaw.
“No more economic waste, Merker!” he could not forbear shouting; and then rocked in his saddle with laughter over the man's look of slow surprise. “It's his catchword,” he explained to Orde. "He's a slow, queer old duck, but a mighty good sort for the place. There's Post, in from the woods. He's woods foreman. I expect I'll have lively times with Post at first, getting him broken into new ways. But he's a good sort, too."
“Everybody's a good sort to-day, aren't they, son?" smiled Orde.
Welton met them, and expressed his satisfaction over the way everything had turned out.
" I'm going duck shooting for fair," said he, "and I'm going fishing at Catalina. Out here," he explained to Orde, "you sit in nice warm sun and let the ducks insult you into shooting at 'em! No freeze-your-fingers-and-break-the-ice early mornings! I'm willing to let the kid go it! He can't bust me in two years, anyway.”
Later, when the two were alone together, he clapped Bob on the back and wished him success.
“I'm too old at the game to believe much in new methods to what I've been brought up to, Bob,” said he; “but I believe in you. If anybody can do it, you can; and I'd be tickled to see you win out. Things change; and a man is foolish to act as though they didn't. He's just got to keep playing along according to the rules of the game. And they keep changing, too. It's good to have lived while they're making a country. I've done it. You're going to.”