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Corporal Cameron
HO FOR THE OPEN!


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 the hand.

"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, Mr. 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 upright form.

"Sit down, Sir!  Sit down!  Now, business first is my motto.  What 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 training?"

"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 sorry 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 you after?"

"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 office work?"

"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 confess ignorance.

"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 system's."

"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 enough to buy a farm about here in fifteen years."

"But I understood," replied Cameron, "that further west was cheaper land."

"Oh!  In the far west, yes!  But it is a God-forsaken country!  I 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 fade.

"But there is ranching, I believe?" he ventured.

"Ranching?  Oh yes!  There is, up near the Rockies, but that is out 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 my case."

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 Mr. Fleming."

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 & Cartage Company.

"Is this a railroad?" asked Cameron.

"No, but next thing to it.  The companies are practically one.  The 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!  Buck up!  Take what he offers you!  Get your teeth in, and never let go!"

"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 would 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 boy's tone.

"Is Mr. Fleming in?  I wish to see him!"  Cameron's voice was loud and imperious.

"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 immediate neighbourhood.

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 incident.

"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 inner room.

"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 room.

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 o'clock."

"Oh!" said Cameron, carelessly.  "Eight?  Yes, I thought it was eight!  Ah! I see!  I believe I am five minutes late!  But I 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:  In 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 penetrating:

"Mr. Jacobs!"

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 Mr. Jacobs 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 a day."

"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 due caution.

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 passing moment.

"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.  Jimmy 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 I can--"

"Exactly!  This is not, however, a business college!  But we shall do our best!"

A rapturous smile pervaded the office.  Mr. Bates was in excellent form.

"By the way, Mr. Cameron--pardon my neglect--but may I inquire just what department of this work you are familiar with?"

"Oh, general--"

"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 writer's office."

"Writing?  Fancy!  Writing, eh?  No use here!" said Mr. Bates 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 suddenly.

"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!"

"Bookkeep?"

"No."

"Good Lord!  What have I got?" inquired Mr. Bates of himself, in a tone, however, perfectly audible to those in the immediate neighbourhood.

"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 hear?"

"Be quick!" said Cameron, his hands gripping Mr. Bates' desk till it shook.

"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 position.

Cameron, meanwhile, walked quietly to where his coat and cap hung.

"Hold him, somebody!  Hold him!" shouted Mr. Bates, hurrying towards him.

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 him.

"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 get a 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."

"And why?"

"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 that means."

"I have done a little, too," said Cameron, with slightly heightened colour.

"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.  If 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 morning.

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 probably be safer for you there--possibly for some others as well."


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