Mr. James Ritchie, manager
of the Bank of Montreal, glanced from
the letter in his hand to the young man who had just given it to
him. "Ah! you have just arrived from the old land," he said, a
smile of genial welcome illuminating his handsome face. "I am
pleased to hear from my old friend, Sir Archibald Brodie, and
pleased to welcome any friend of his to Canada."
So saying, with fine old-time courtesy, the banker rose to his
splendid height of six feet two, and shook his visitor warmly by
"Your name is--?"
"Cameron, Sir," said the young man.
"Yes, I see! Mr. Allan Cameron--um, um," with his eyes on the
letter. "Old and distinguished family--exactly so! Now, then,
Cameron, I hope we shall be able to do something for you, both for
the sake of my old friend, Sir Archibald, and, indeed, for your own
sake," said the banker, with a glance of approval at Cameron's
"Sit down, Sir! Sit down! Now, business first is my motto.
can I do for you?"
"Well, first of all," said Cameron with a laugh, "I wish to make a
deposit. I have a draft of one hundred pounds here which I should
like to place in your care."
"Very well, Sir," said the banker, touching a button, "my young man
will attend to that."
"Now, then," when the business had been transacted, "what are your
plans, Mr. Cameron? Thirty-five years ago I came to Montreal a
young man, from Scotland, like yourself, and it was a lonely day
for me when I reached this city, the loneliest in my life, and so
my heart warms to the stranger from the old land. Yes," continued
Mr. Ritchie, in a reminiscent tone, "I remember well! I hired as
errand boy and general factotum to a small grocer down near the
market. Montreal was a small city then, with wretched streets--
they're bad enough yet--and poor buildings; everything was slow and
backward; there have been mighty changes since. But here we are!
Now, what are your plans?"
"I am afraid they are of the vaguest kind," said Cameron. "I want
something to do."
"What sort of thing? I mean, what has been the line of your
"I am afraid my training has been defective. I have passed through
Edinburgh Academy, also the University, with the exception of my
last year. But I am willing to take anything."
"Ah!" said the banker thoughtfully. "No office training, eh?"
"No, Sir. That is, if you except a brief period of three or four
months in the law office of our family solicitor."
"Law, eh?--I have it! Denman's your man! I shall give you a
letter to Mr. Denman--a lawyer friend of mine. I shall see him
personally to-day, and if you call to-morrow at ten I hope to have
news for you. Meantime, I shall be pleased to have you lunch with
me to-day at the club. One o'clock is the hour. If you would
kindly call at the bank, we shall go down together."
Cameron expressed his gratitude.
"By the way!" said Mr. Ritchie, "where have you put up?"
"At the Royal," said Cameron.
"Ah! That will do for the present," said Mr. Ritchie. "I am
our circumstances do not permit of my inviting you to our home.
The truth is, Mrs. Ritchie is at present out of the city. But we
shall find some suitable lodging for you. The Royal is far too
expensive a place for a young man with his fortune to make."
Cameron spent the day making the acquaintance of the beautiful,
quaint, if somewhat squalid, old city of Montreal; and next
morning, with a letter of introduction from Mr. Ritchie, presented
himself at Mr. Denman's office. Mr. Denman was a man in young
middle life, athletic of frame, keen of eye, and energetic of
manner; his voice was loud and sharp. He welcomed Cameron with
brisk heartiness, and immediately proceeded to business.
"Let me see," he began, "what is your idea? What kind of a job are
"Indeed," replied Cameron, "that is just what I hardly know."
"Well, what has been your experience? You are a University man, I
believe? But have you had any practical training? Do you know
"No, I've had little training for an office. I was in a law office
for part of a year."
"Ah! Familiar with bookkeeping, or accounting? I suppose you
can't run one of these typewriting machines?"
In regard to each of these lines of effort Cameron was forced to
"I say!" cried Mr. Denman, "those old country people seriously
annoy me with their inadequate system of education!"
"I am afraid," replied Cameron, "the fault is more mine than the
"Don't know about that! Don't know about that!" replied Mr. Denman
quickly; "I have had scores of young men, fine young men, too, come
to me; public school men, university men, but quite unfit for any
practical line of work."
Mr. Denman considered for some moments. "Let us see. You have
done some work in a law office. Now," Mr. Denman spoke with some
hesitation; "I have a place in my own office here--not much in it
for the present, but--"
"To tell the truth," interrupted Cameron, "I did not make much of
the law; in fact, I do not think I am suited for office work. I
would prefer something in the open. I had thought of the land."
"Farming," exclaimed Mr. Denman. "Ah!--you would, I suppose, be
able to invest something?"
"No," said Cameron, "nothing."
Denman shook his head. "Nothing in it! You would not earn
to buy a farm about here in fifteen years."
"But I understood," replied Cameron, "that further west was cheaper
"Oh! In the far west, yes! But it is a God-forsaken country!
don't know much about it, I confess. I know they are booming town
lots all over the land. I believe they have gone quite mad in the
business, but from what I hear, the main work in the west just now
is jaw work; the only thing they raise is corner lots."
On Cameron's face there fell the gloom of discouragement. One of
his fondest dreams was being dispelled--his vision of himself as a
wealthy rancher, ranging over square miles of his estate upon a
"bucking broncho," garbed in the picturesque cowboy dress, began to
"But there is ranching, I believe?" he ventured.
"Ranching? Oh yes! There is, up near the Rockies, but that is
of civilization; out of reach of everything and everybody."
"That is what I want, Sir!" exclaimed Cameron, his face once more
aglow with eager hope. "I want to get away into the open."
Mr. Denman did not, or could not, recognise this as the instinctive
cry of the primitive man for a closer fellowship with Mother
Nature. He was keenly practical, and impatient with everything
that appeared to him to be purely visionary and unbusiness-like.
"But, my dear fellow," he said, "a ranch means cattle and horses;
and cattle and horses means money, unless of course, you mean to be
simply a cowboy--cowpuncher, I believe, is the correct term--but
there is nothing in that; no future, I mean. It is all very well
for a little fun, if you have a bank account to stand it, although
some fellows stand it on someone's else bank account--not much to
their credit, however. There is a young friend of mine out there
at present, but from what I can gather his home correspondence is
mainly confined to appeals for remittances from his governor, and
his chief occupation spending these remittances as speedily as
possible. All very well, as I have said, for fun, if you can pay
the shot. But to play the role of gentleman cowboy, while somebody
else pays for it, is the sort of thing I despise."
"And so do I, Sir!" said Cameron. "There will be no remittance in
Denman glanced at the firm, closed lips and the stiffening figure.
"That is the talk!" he exclaimed. "No, there is no chance in
ranching unless you have capital."
"As far as I can see," replied Cameron gloomily, "everything seems
closed up except to the capitalist, and yet from what I heard at
home situations were open on every hand in this country."
"Come here!" cried Denman, drawing Cameron to the office window.
"See those doors!" pointing to a long line of shops. "Every last
one is opened to a man who knows his business. See those
smokestacks! Every last wheel in those factories is howling for a
man who is on to his job. But don't look blue, there is a place
for you, too; the thing is to find it."
"What are those long buildings?" inquired Cameron, pointing towards
the water front.
"Those are railroad sheds; or, rather, Transportation Company's
sheds; they are practically the same thing. I say! What is the
matter with trying the Transportation Company? I know the manager
well. The very thing! Try the Transportation Company!"
"How should I go about it?" said Cameron. "I mean to say just what
position should I apply for?"
"Position!" shouted Denman. "Why, general manager would be good!"
Then, noting the flush in Cameron's face, he added quickly, "Pardon
me! The thing is to get your foot in somehow, and then wire in
till you are general manager, by Jove! It can be done! Fleming
has done it! Went in as messenger boy, but--" Denman paused.
There flashed through his mind the story of Fleming's career; a
vision of the half-starved ragged waif who started as messenger
boy in the company's offices, and who, by dint of invincible
determination and resolute self-denial, fought his way step by step
to his present position of control. In contrast, he looked at the
young man, born and bred in circles where work is regarded as a
calamity, and service wears the badge of social disfranchisement.
Fleming had done it under compulsion of the inexorable mistress
"Necessity." But what of this young man?
"Will we try?" he said at length. "I shall give you a letter to
He sat down to his desk and wrote vigourously.
"Take this, and see what happens."
Cameron took the letter, and, glancing at the address, read, Wm.
Fleming, Esquire, General Manager, Metropolitan Transportation &
"Is this a railroad?" asked Cameron.
"No, but next thing to it. The companies are practically one.
transition from one to the other is easy enough. Let me know how
you get on. Good-by! And--I say!" cried Mr. Denman, calling
Cameron back again from the door, "see Mr. Fleming himself.
Remember that! And remember," he added, with a smile, "the
position of manager is not vacant just yet, but it will be. I give
you my word for it when you are ready to take it. Good-by!
up! Take what he offers you! Get your teeth in, and never let
"By George!" said Denman to himself as the door closed on Cameron,
"these chaps are the limit. He's got lots of stuff in him, but he
has been rendered helpless by their fool system--God save us from
it! That chap has had things done for him ever since he was first
bathed; they have washed 'em, dressed 'em, fed 'em, schooled 'em,
found 'em positions, stuck 'em in, and watched that they didn't
fall out. And yet, by George!" he added, after a pause, "they are
running the world to-day--that is, some of them." Facing which
somewhat puzzling phenomenon, Denman plunged into his work again.
Meantime Cameron was making his way towards the offices of the
Metropolitan Transportation & Cartage Company, oppressed with an
unacknowledged but none the less real sense of unfitness, and
haunted by a depressing sense of the deficiency of his own training,
and of the training afforded the young men of his class at home. As
he started along he battled with his depression. True enough, he
had no skill in the various accomplishments that Mr. Denman seemed
to consider essential; he had no experience in business, he was not
fit for office work--office work he loathed; but surely there was
some position where his talents would bring him recognition and
fortune at last. After all, Mr. Denman was only a Colonial, and
with a Colonial's somewhat narrow view of life. Who was he to
criticise the system of training that for generations had been in
vogue at home? Had not Wellington said "that England's battles were
first won on the football fields of Eton and Rugby," or something
like that? Of course, the training that might fit for a
distinguished career in the British army might not necessarily
insure success on the battle fields of industry and commerce. Yet
surely, an International player should be able to get somewhere!
At this point in his cogitations Cameron was arrested by a memory
that stabbed him like a knife-thrust; the awful moment when upon
the Inverleith grounds, in the face of the Welsh forward-line, he
had faltered and lost the International. Should he ever be able to
forget the agony of that moment and of the day that followed? And
yet, he need not have failed. He knew he could play his position
with any man in Scotland; he had failed because he was not fit. He
set his teeth hard. He would show these bally Colonials! He
make good! And with his head high, he walked into the somewhat
dingy offices of the Metropolitan Transportation & Cartage Company,
of which William Fleming, Esquire, was manager.
Opening the door, Cameron found himself confronted by a short
counter that blocked the way for the general public into the long
room, filled with desks and chairs and clicking typewriting
machines. Cameron had never seen so many of these machines during
the whole period of his life. The typewriter began to assume an
altogether new importance in his mind. Hitherto it had appeared to
him more or less of a Yankee fad, unworthy of the attention of an
able-bodied man of average intelligence. In Edinburgh a "writing
machine" was still something of a new-fangled luxury, to be
apologised for. Mr. Rae would allow no such finicky instrument in
his office. Here, however, there were a dozen, more or less,
manipulated for the most part by young ladies, and some of them
actually by men; on every side they clicked and banged. It may
have been the clicking and banging of these machines that gave to
Cameron the sense of rush and hurry so different from the calm
quiet and dignified repose of the only office he had ever known.
For some moments he stood at the counter, waiting attention from
one of the many clerks sitting before him, but though one and
another occasionally glanced in his direction, his presence seemed
to awaken not even a passing curiosity in their minds, much less to
suggest the propriety of their inquiring his business.
As the moments passed Cameron became conscious of a feeling of
affront. How differently a gentleman was treated by the clerks in
the office of Messrs. Rae & Macpherson, where prompt attention and
deferential courtesy in a clerk were as essential as a suit of
clothes. Gradually Cameron's head went up, and with it his choler.
At length, in his haughtiest tone, he hailed a passing youth:
"I say, boy, is this Mr. Fleming's office?"
The clicking and banging of the typewriters, and the hum of voices
ceased. Everywhere heads were raised and eyes turned curiously
upon the haughty stranger.
"Eh?" No letters can represent the nasal intonation of this
syllabic inquiry, and no words the supreme indifference of the
"Is Mr. Fleming in? I wish to see him!" Cameron's voice was
"Say, boys," said a lanky youth, with a long, cadaverous
countenance and sallow, unhealthy complexion, illumined, however,
and redeemed to a certain extent by black eyes of extraordinary
brilliance, "it is the Prince of Wales!" The drawling, awe-struck
tones, in the silence that had fallen, were audible to all in the
The titter that swept over the listeners brought the hot blood toCameron's face. A deliberate insult a Highlander takes with calm.
He is prepared to deal with it in a manner affording him entire
satisfaction. Ridicule rouses him to fury, for, while it touches
his pride, it leaves him no opportunity of vengeance.
"Can you tell me if Mr. Fleming is in?" he enquired again of the
boy that stood scanning him with calm indifference. The rage that
possessed him so vibrated in his tone that the lanky lad drawled
again in a warning voice:
"Slide, Jimmy, slide!"
Jimmy "slid," but towards the counter.
"Want to see him?" he enquired in a tone of brisk impertinence, as
if suddenly roused from a reverie.
"I have a letter for him."
"All right! Hand it over," said Jimmy, fully conscious that he was
the hero of more than usual interest.
Cameron hesitated, then passed his letter over to Jimmy, who,
reading the address with deliberate care, winked at the lanky boy,
and with a jaunty step made towards a door at the farther end of
the room. As he passed a desk that stood nearest the door, a man
who during the last few minutes had remained with his head down,
apparently so immersed in the papers before him as to be quite
unconscious of his surroundings, suddenly called out, "Here, boy!"
Jimmy instantly assumed an air of respectful attention.
"A letter for Mr. Fleming," he said.
"Here!" replied the man, stretching out his hand.
He hurriedly glanced through the letter.
"Tell him there is no vacancy at present," he said shortly.
The boy came back to Cameron with cheerful politeness. The "old
man's" eye was upon him.
"There is no vacancy at present," he said briefly, and turned away
as if his attention were immediately demanded elsewhere by pressing
business of the Metropolitan Transportation & Cartage Company.
For answer, Cameron threw back the leaf of the counter that barred
his way, and started up the long room, past the staring clerks, to
the desk next the door.
"I wish to see Mr. Fleming, Sir," he said, his voice trembling
slightly, his face pale, his blue-gray eyes ablaze.
The man at the desk looked up from his work.
"I have just informed you there is no vacancy at present," he said
testily, and turned to his papers again, as if dismissing the
"Will you kindly tell me if Mr. Fleming is in?" said Cameron in a
voice that had grown quite steady; "I wish to see him personally."
"Mr. Fleming cannot see you, I tell you!" almost shouted the man,
rising from his desk and revealing himself a short, pudgy figure,
with flabby face and shining bald head. "Can't you understand
English?--I can't be bothered--!"
"What is it, Bates? Someone to see me?"
Cameron turned quickly towards the speaker, who had come from the
"I have brought you a letter, Sir, from Mr. Denman," he said
quietly; "it is there," pointing to Bates' desk.
"A letter? Let me have it! Why was not this brought to me at
once, Mr. Bates?"
"It was an open letter, Sir," replied Bates, "and I thought there
was no need of troubling you, Sir. I told the young man we had no
vacancy at present."
"This is a personal letter, Mr. Bates, and should have been brought
to me at once. Why was Mr.--ah--Mr. Cameron not brought in to me?"
Mr. Bates murmured something about not wishing to disturb the
manager on trivial business.
"I am the judge of that, Mr. Bates. In future, when any man asks
to see me, I desire him to be shown in at once."
Mr. Bates began to apologise.
"That is all that is necessary, Mr. Bates," said the manager, in a
voice at once quiet and decisive.
"Come in, Mr. Cameron. I am very sorry this has happened!"
Cameron followed him into his office, noting, as he passed, the red
patches of rage on Mr. Bates' pudgy face, and catching a look of
fierce hate from his small piggy eyes. It flashed through his mind
that in Mr. Bates, at any rate, he had found no friend.
The result of the interview with Mr. Fleming was an intimation to
Mr. Bates that Mr. Cameron was to have a position in the office of
the Metropolitan Transportation & Cartage Company, and to begin
work the following morning.
"Very well, Sir," replied Mr. Bates--he had apparently quite
recovered his equanimity--"we shall find Mr. Cameron a desk."
"We begin work at eight o'clock exactly," he added, turning to
Cameron with a pleasant smile.
Mr. Fleming accompanied Cameron to the door.
"Now, a word with you, Mr. Cameron. You may find Mr. Bates a
little difficult--he is something of a driver--but, remember, he is
in charge of this office; I never interfere with his orders."
"I understand, Sir," said Cameron, resolving that, at all costs, he
should obey Mr. Bates' orders, if only to show the general manager
he could recognise and appreciate a gentleman when he saw one.
Mr. Fleming was putting it mildly when he described Mr. Bates as
"something of a driver." The whole office staff, from Jimmy, the
office boy, to Jacobs, the gentle, white-haired clerk, whose desk
was in the farthest corner of the room, felt the drive. He was not
only office manager, but office master as well. His rule was
absolute, and from his decisions there was no appeal. The general
manager went on the theory that it was waste of energy to keep a
dog and bark himself. In the policy that governed the office there
were two rules which Mr. Bates enforced with the utmost rigidity--
the first, namely, that every member of the staff must be in his or
her place and ready for work when the clock struck eight; the
other, that each member of the staff must work independently of
every other member. A man must know his business, and go through
with it; if he required instructions, he must apply to the office
manager. But, as a rule, one experience of such application
sufficed for the whole period of a clerk's service in the office of
the Metropolitan Transportation & Cartage Company, for Mr. Bates
was gifted with such an exquisiteness of ironical speech that the
whole staff were wont to pause in the rush of their work to listen
and to admire when a new member was unhappy enough to require
instructions, their silent admiration acting as a spur to Mr.
Bates' ingenuity in the invention of ironical discourse.
Of the peculiarities and idiosyncrasies of Mr. Bates' system,
however, Cameron was quite ignorant; nor had his experience in the
office of Messrs. Rae & Macpherson been such as to impress upon him
the necessity of a close observation of the flight of time. It did
not disturb him, therefore, to notice as he strolled into the
offices of the Metropolitan Transportation & Cartage Company the
next morning that the hands of the clock showed six minutes past
the hour fixed for the beginning of the day's work. The office
staff shivered in an ecstasy of expectant delight. Cameron walked
nonchalantly to Mr. Bates' desk, his overcoat on his arm, his cap
in his hand.
"Good morning, Sir," he said.
Mr. Bates finished writing a sentence, looked up, and nodded a
brief good morning.
"We deposit our street attire on the hooks behind the door,
yonder!" he said with emphatic politeness, pointing across the
Cameron flushed, as in passing his desk he observed the pleased
smile on the lanky boy's sallow face.
"You evidently were not aware of the hours of this office,"
continued Mr. Bates when Cameron had returned. "We open at eight
"Oh!" said Cameron, carelessly. "Eight? Yes, I thought it was
eight! Ah! I see! I believe I am five minutes late! But
suppose I shall catch up before the day is over!"
"Mr. Cameron," replied Mr. Bates earnestly, "if you should work for
twenty years for the Metropolitan Transportation & Cartage Company,
never will you catch up those five minutes; every minute of your
office hours is pledged to the company, and every minute has its
own proper work. Your desk is the one next Mr. Jacobs, yonder.
Your work is waiting you there. It is quite simple, the entry of
freight receipts upon the ledger. If you wish further instructions,
apply to me here--you understand?"
"I think so!" replied Cameron. "I shall do my best to--"
"Very well! That is all!" replied Mr. Bates, plunging his head
again into his papers.
The office staff sank back to work with every expression of
disappointment. A moment later, however, their hopes revived.
"Oh! Mr. Cameron!" called out Mr. Bates. Mr. Cameron returned to
his desk. "If you should chance to be late again, never mind going
to your desk; just come here for your cheque."
Mr. Bates' tone was kindly, even considerate, as if he were anxious
to save his clerk unnecessary inconvenience.
"I beg your pardon!" stammered Cameron, astonished.
"That is all!" replied Mr. Bates, his nose once more in his papers.
Cameron stood hesitating. His eye fell upon the boy, Jimmy, whose
face expressed keenest joy.
"Do you mean, Sir, that if I am late you dismiss me forthwith?"
"What?" Mr. Bates' tone was so fiercely explosive that it appeared
to throw up his head with a violent motion.
Cameron repeated his question.
"Mr. Cameron, my time is valuable; so is yours. I thought that I
spoke quite distinctly. Apparently I did not. Let me repeat:
case you should inadvertently be late again, you need not take the
trouble to go to your desk; just come here. Your cheque will be
immediately made out. Saves time, you know--your time and mine--
and time, you perceive, in this office represents money."
Mr. Bates' voice lost none of its kindly interest, but it had grown
somewhat in intensity; the last sentence was uttered with his face
close to his desk.
Cameron stood a moment in uncertainty, gazing at the bald head
before him; then, finding nothing to reply, he turned about to
behold Jimmy and his lanky friend executing an animated war
pantomime which they apparently deemed appropriate to the occasion.
With face ablaze and teeth set Cameron went to his desk, to the
extreme disappointment of Jimmy and the lanky youth, who fell into
each other's arms, apparently overcome with grief.
For half an hour the office hummed with the noise of subdued voices
and clicked with the rapid fire of the typewriters. Suddenly
through the hum Mr. Bates' voice was heard, clear, calm, and coldly
The old, white-haired clerk started up from Cameron's desk, and
began in a confused and gentle voice to explain that he was merely
giving some hints to the new clerk.
"Mr. Jacobs," said Mr. Bates, "I cannot hear you, and you are
wasting my time!"
"He was merely showing me how to make these entries!" said Cameron.
"Ah! Indeed! Thank you, Mr. Cameron! Though I believe
has not yet lost the power of lucid speech. Mr. Jacobs, I believe
you know the rules of this office; your fine will be one-quarter of
"Thank you!" said Mr. Jacobs, hurriedly resuming his desk.
"And, Mr. Cameron, if you will kindly bring your work to me, I
shall do my best to enlighten you in regard to the complex duty of
entering your freight receipts."
An audible snicker ran through the delighted staff. Cameron seized
his ledger and the pile of freight bills, and started for Mr.
Bates' desk, catching out of the corner of his eye the pantomime of
Jimmy and the lanky one, which was being rendered with vigor and
For a few moments Cameron stood at the manager's desk till that
gentleman should be disengaged, but Mr. Bates was skilled in the
fine art of reducing to abject humility an employee who might give
indications of insubordination. Cameron's rage grew with every
"Here is the ledger, Sir!" he said at length.
But Mr. Bates was so completely absorbed in the business of saving
time that he made not the slightest pause in his writing, while the
redoubled vigor and caution of the pantomime seemed to indicate the
approach of a crisis. At length Mr. Bates raised his head.
and the lanky clerk became at once engrossed in their duties.
"You have had no experience of this kind of work, Mr. Cameron?"
inquired Mr. Bates kindly.
"No, Sir. But if you will just explain one or two matters, I think
"Exactly! This is not, however, a business college! But we
do our best!"
A rapturous smile pervaded the office. Mr. Bates was in excellent
"By the way, Mr. Cameron--pardon my neglect--but may I inquire just
what department of this work you are familiar with?"
"Ah! The position of general manager, however, is filled at
present!" replied Mr. Bates kindly.
Cameron's flush grew deeper, while Jimmy and his friend resigned
themselves to an ecstasy of delight.
"I was going to say," said Cameron in a tone loud and deliberate,
"that I had been employed with the general copying work in a
"Writing? Fancy! Writing, eh? No use here!" said Mr.
shortly, for time was passing.
"A writer with us means a lawyer!" replied Cameron.
"Why the deuce don't they say so?" answered Mr. Bates impatiently.
"Well! Well!" getting hold of himself again. "Here we allow our
solicitors to look after our legal work. Typewrite?" he inquired
"I beg your pardon!" replied Cameron. "Typewrite? Do you mean,
can I use a typewriting machine?"
"Yes! Yes! For heaven's sake, yes!"
"No, I cannot!"
"Good Lord! What have I got?" inquired Mr. Bates of himself,
in a tone, however, perfectly audible to those in the immediate
"Try him licking stamps!" suggested the lanky youth in a voice
that, while it reached the ears of Jimmy and others near by,
including Cameron, was inaudible to the manager. Mr. Bates caught
the sound, however, and glared about him through his spectacles.
Time was being wasted--the supreme offense in that office--and Mr.
Bates was fast losing his self-command.
"Here!" he cried suddenly, seizing a sheaf of letters. "File these
letters. You will be able to do that, I guess! File's in the
vault over there!"
Cameron took the letters and stood looking helplessly from them to
Mr. Bates' bald head, that gentleman's face being already in close
proximity to the papers on his desk.
"Just how do I go about this?--I mean, what system do you--"
"Jim!" roared Mr. Bates, throwing down his pen, "show this con--
show Mr. Cameron how to file these letters! Just like these blank
old-country chumps!" added Mr. Bates, in a lower voice, but loud
enough to be distinctly heard.
Jim came up with a smile of patronising pity on his face. It was
the smile that touched to life the mass of combustible material
that had been accumulating for the last hour in Cameron's soul.
Instead of following the boy, he turned with a swift movement back
to the manager's desk, laid his sheaf of letters down on Mr. Bates'
papers, and, leaning over the desk, towards that gentleman, said:
"Did you mean that remark to apply to me?" His voice was very
quiet. But Mr. Bates started back with a quick movement from the
white face and burning eyes.
"Here, you get out of this!" he cried.
"Because," continued Cameron, "if you did, I must ask you to
apologise at once."
All smiles vanished from the office staff, even Jimmy's face
assumed a serious aspect. Mr. Bates pushed back his chair.
"A-po-pologise!" he sputtered. "Get out of this office, d'ye
"Be quick!" said Cameron, his hands gripping Mr. Bates' desk till
"Jimmy! Call a policeman!" cried Mr. Bates, rising from his chair.
He was too slow. Cameron reached swiftly for his collar, and with
one fierce wrench swept Mr. Bates clear over the top of his desk,
shook him till his head wobbled dangerously, and flung him crashing
across the desk and upon the prostrate form of the lanky youth
sitting behind it.
"Call a policeman! Call a policeman!" shouted Mr. Bates, who was
struggling meantime with the lanky youth to regain an upright
Cameron, meanwhile, walked quietly to where his coat and cap hung.
"Hold him, somebody! Hold him!" shouted Mr. Bates, hurrying
Cameron turned fiercely upon him.
"Did you want me, Sir?" he inquired.
Mr. Bates arrested himself with such violence that his feet slid
from under him, and once more he came sitting upon the floor.
"Get up!" said Cameron, "and listen to me!"
Mr. Bates rose, and stood, white and trembling.
"I may not know much about your Canadian ways of business, but I
believe I can teach you some old-country manners. You have treated
me this morning like the despicable bully that you are. Perhaps
you will treat the next old-country man with the decency that is
coming to him, even if he has the misfortune to be your clerk."
With these words Cameron turned upon his heel and walked
deliberately towards the door. Immediately Jimmy sprang before
him, and, throwing the door wide open, bowed him out as if he were
indeed the Prince of Wales. Thus abruptly ended Cameron's
connection with the Metropolitan Transportation & Cartage Company.Before the day was done the whole city had heard the tale, which
lost nothing in the telling.
Next morning Mr. Denman was surprised to have Cameron walk in upon
"Hullo, young man!" shouted the lawyer, "this is a pretty business!
Upon my soul! Your manner of entry into our commercial life is
somewhat forceful! What the deuce do you mean by all this?"
Cameron stood, much abashed. His passion was all gone; in the calm
light of after-thought his action of yesterday seemed boyish.
"I'm awfully sorry, Mr. Denman," he replied, "and I came to
apologise to you."
"To me?" cried Denman. "Why to me? I expect, if you wish to
job anywhere in this town, you will need to apologise to the chap
you knocked down--what's his name?"
"Mr. Bates, I think his name is, Sir; but, of course, I cannot
apologise to him."
"By Jove!" roared Mr. Denman, "he ought to have thrown you out of
his office! That is what I would have done!"
Cameron glanced up and down Mr. Denman's well-knit figure.
"I don't think so, Sir," he said, with a smile.
"Why not?" said Mr. Denman, grasping the arms of his office chair.
"Because you would not have insulted a stranger in your office who
was trying his best to understand his work. And then, I should not
have tried it on you."
"Well, I think I know a gentleman when I see one."
Mr. Denman was not to be appeased.
"Well, let me tell you, young man, it would have been a mighty
unhealthy thing for you to have cut up any such shine in this
office. I have done some Rugby in my day, my boy, if you know what
"I have done a little, too," said Cameron, with slightly heightened
"You have, eh! Where?"
"The Scottish International, Sir."
"By Jove! You don't tell me!" replied Mr. Denman, his tone
expressing a new admiration and respect. "When? This year?"
"No, last year, Sir--against Wales!"
"By Jove!" cried Mr. Denman again; "give me your hand, boy! Any
man who has made the Scottish Internationals is not called to stand
any cheek from a cad like Bates."
Mr. Denman shook Cameron warmly by the hand.
"Tell us about it!" he cried. "It must have been rare sport.
Bates only knew it, he ought to count it an honour to have been
knocked down by a Scottish International."
"I didn't knock him down, Sir!" said Cameron, apologetically; "he
is only a little chap; I just gave him a bit of a shake," and
Cameron proceeded to recount the proceedings of the previous
Mr. Denman was hugely delighted.
"Serves the little beast bloody well right!" he cried enthusiastically.
"But what's to do now? They will be afraid to let you into their
offices in this city."
"I think, Sir, I am done with offices; I mean to try the land."
"Farm, eh?" mused Mr. Denman. "Well, so be it! It will
be safer for you there--possibly for some others as well."