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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWindy Mcpherson's Son - BOOK II - Chapter II
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Windy Mcpherson's Son - BOOK II - Chapter II Post by :nas_boleh Category :Long Stories Author :Sherwood Anderson Date :February 2011 Read :2562

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Windy Mcpherson's Son - BOOK II - Chapter II

It was a wonderful place, that South Water Street in Chicago where Sam
came to make his business start in the city, and it was proof of the dry
unresponsiveness in him that he did not sense more fully its meaning and
its message. All day the food stuff of a vast city flowed through the
narrow streets. Blue-shirted, broad-shouldered teamsters from the tops of
high piled wagons bawled at scurrying pedestrians. On the sidewalks in
boxes, bags, and barrels, lay oranges from Florida and California, figs
from Arabia, bananas from Jamaica, nuts from the hills of Spain and the
plains of Africa, cabbages from Ohio, beans from Michigan, corn and
potatoes from Iowa. In December, fur-coated men hurried through the
forests of northern Michigan gathering Christmas trees that found their
way to warm firesides through the street. And summer and winter a million
hens laid the eggs that were gathered there, and the cattle on a thousand
hills sent their yellow butter fat packed in tubs and piled upon trucks to
add to the confusion.

Into this street Sam walked, thinking little of the wonder of these things
and thinking haltingly, getting his sense of the bigness of it in dollars
and cents. Standing in the doorway of the commission house for which he
was to work, strong, well clad, able and efficient, he looked through the
streets, seeing and hearing the hurry and the roar and the shouting of
voices, and then with a smile upon his lips went inside. In his brain was
an unexpressed thought. As the old Norse marauders looked at the cities
sitting in their splendour on the Mediterranean so looked he. "What loot!"
a voice within him said, and his brain began devising methods by which he
should get his share of it.

Years later, when Sam was a man of big affairs, he drove one day in a
carriage through the streets and turning to his companion, a grey-haired,
dignified Boston man who sat beside him, said, "I worked here once and
used to sit on a barrel of apples at the edge of the sidewalk thinking how
clever I was to make more money in one month than the man who raised the
apples made in a year."

The Boston man, stirred by the sight of so much foodstuff and moved to
epigram by his mood, looked up and down the street.

"The foodstuff of an empire rattling o'er the stones," he said.

"I should have made more money here," answered Sam dryly.

The commission firm for which Sam worked was a partnership, not a
corporation, and was owned by two brothers. Of the two Sam thought that
the elder, a tall, bald, narrow-shouldered man, with a long narrow face
and a suave manner, was the real master, and represented most of the
ability in the partnership. He was oily, silent, tireless. All day he went
in and out of the office and warehouses and up and down the crowded
street, sucking nervously at an unlighted cigar. He was a great worker in
a suburban church, but a shrewd and, Sam suspected, an unscrupulous
business man. Occasionally the minister or some of the women of the
suburban church came into the office to talk with him, and Sam was amused
at the thought that Narrow Face, when he talked of the affairs of the
church, bore a striking resemblance to the brown-bearded minister of the
church in Caxton.

The other brother was a far different sort, and, in business, Sam thought,
a much inferior man. He was a heavy, broad-shouldered, square-faced man of
about thirty, who sat in the office dictating letters and who stayed out
two or three hours to lunch. He sent out letters signed by him on the
firm's stationery with the title of General Manager, and Narrow Face let
him do it. Broad Shoulders had been educated in New England and even after
several years away from his college seemed more interested in it than in
the welfare of the business. For a month or more in the spring he took
most of the time of one of the two stenographers employed by the firm
writing letters to graduates of Chicago high schools to induce them to go
East to finish their education; and when a graduate of the college came to
Chicago seeking employment, he closed his desk and spent entire days going
from place to place, introducing, urging, recommending. Sam noticed,
however, that when the firm employed a new man in their own office or on
the road it was Narrow-Face who chose the man.

Broad-shoulders had been a famous football player in his day and wore an
iron brace on his leg. The offices, like most of the offices on the
street, were dark and narrow, and smelled of decaying vegetables and
rancid butter. Noisy Greek and Italian hucksters wrangled on the sidewalk
in front, and among these went Narrow-Face hurrying about making deals.

In South Water Street Sam did well, multiplying his thirty-six hundred
dollars by ten during the three years that he stayed there, or went out
from there to towns and cities directing a part of the great flowing river
of foodstuff through his firm's front door.

With almost his first day on the street he began seeing on all sides of
him opportunity for gain, and set himself industriously at work to get his
hand upon money with which to take advantage of the chances that he
thought lay so invitingly about. Within a year he had made much progress.
From a woman on Wabash Avenue he got six thousand dollars, and he planned
and executed a coup that gave him the use of twenty thousand dollars that
had come as a legacy to his friend, the medical student, who lived at the
Pergrin house.

Sam had eggs and apples lying in warehouse against a rise; game, smuggled
across the state line from Michigan and Wisconsin, lay frozen in cold
storage tagged with his name and ready to be sold at a long profit to
hotels and fashionable restaurants; and there were even secret bushels of
corn and wheat lying in other warehouses along the Chicago River ready to
be thrown on the market at a word from him, or, the margins by which he
kept his hold on the stuff not being forthcoming, at a word from a LaSalle
Street broker.

Getting the twenty thousand dollars out of the hands of the medical
student was a turning point in Sam's life. Sunday after Sunday he walked
with Eckardt in the streets or loitered with him in the parks thinking of
the money lying idle in the bank and of the deals he might be turning with
it in the street or on the road. Daily he saw more clearly the power of
cash. Other commission merchants along South Water Street came running
into the office of his firm with tense, anxious faces asking Narrow-Face
to help them over rough spots in the day's trading. Broad-Shoulders, who
had no business ability but who had married a rich woman, went on month
after month taking half the profits brought in by the ability of his tall,
shrewd brother, and Narrow-Face, who had taken a liking for Sam and who
occasionally stopped for a word with him, spoke of the matter often and

"Spend your time with no one who hasn't money to help you," he said; "on
the road look for the men with money and then try to get it. That's all
there is to business--money-getting." And then looking across to the desk
of his brother he would add, "I would kick half the men in business out of
it if I could, but I myself must dance to the tune that money plays."

One day Sam went to the office of an attorney named Webster, whose
reputation for the shrewd drawing of contracts had come to him from

"I want a contract drawn that will give me absolute control of twenty
thousand dollars with no risk on my part if I lose the money and no
promise to pay more than seven per cent if I do not lose," he said.

The attorney, a slender, middle-aged man with a swarthy skin and black
hair, put his hands on the desk before him and looked at the tall young

"What collateral?" he asked.

Sam shook his head. "Can you draw such a contract that will be legal and
what will it cost me?" he asked.

The lawyer laughed good naturedly. "I can draw it of course. Why not?"

Sam, taking a roll of bills from his pocket, counted the amount upon the

"Who are you anyway?" asked Webster. "If you can get twenty thousand and
without collateral you're worth knowing. I might be getting up a gang to
rob a mail train."

Sam did not answer. He put the contract in his pocket and went home to his
alcove at the Pergrins. He wanted to get by himself and think. He did not
believe that he would by any chance lose Frank Eckardt's money, but he
knew that Eckardt himself would draw back from the kind of deals that he
expected to make with the money, that they would frighten and alarm him,
and he wondered if he was being honest.

In his own room after dinner Sam studied carefully the agreement drawn by
Webster. It seemed to him to cover what he wanted covered, and having got
it well fixed in his mind he tore it up. "There is no use his knowing I
have been to a lawyer," he thought guiltily.

Getting into bed, he began building plans for the future. With more than
thirty thousand dollars at his command he thought that he should be able
to make headway rapidly. "In my hands it will double itself every year,"
he told himself and getting out of bed he drew a chair to the window and
sat down, feeling strangely alive and awake like a young man in love. He
saw himself going on and on, directing, managing, ruling men. It seemed to
him that there was nothing he could not do. "I will run factories and
banks and maybe mines and railroads," he thought and his mind leaped
forward so that he saw himself, grey, stern, and capable, sitting at a
broad desk high in a great stone building, a materialisation of John
Telfer's word picture--"You will be a big man of dollars--it is plain."

And then into Sam's mind came another picture. He remembered a Saturday
afternoon when a young man had come running into the office on South Water
Street, a young man who owed Narrow-Face a sum of money and could not pay
it. He remembered the unpleasant tightening of the mouth and the sudden
shrewd hard look in his employer's long narrow face. He had not heard much
of the talk, but he was aware of a strained pleading quality in the voice
of the young man who had said over and over slowly and painfully, "But,
man, my honour is at stake," and of a coldness in the answering voice
replying persistently, "With me it is not a matter of honour but of
dollars, and I am going to get them."

From the alcove window Sam looked out upon a vacant lot covered with
patches of melting snow. Beyond the lot facing him stood a flat building,
and the snow, melting on the roof, made a little stream that ran down some
hidden pipe and rattled out upon the ground. The noise of the falling
water and the sound of distant footsteps going homeward through the
sleeping city brought back thoughts of other nights when as a boy in
Caxton he had sat thus, thinking disconnected thoughts.

Without knowing it Sam was fighting one of the real battles of his life, a
battle in which the odds were very much against the quality in him that
got him out of bed to look at the snow-clad vacant lot.

There was in the youth much of the brute trader, blindly intent upon gain;
much of the quality that has given America so many of its so-called great
men. It was the quality that had sent him in secret to Lawyer Webster to
protect himself without protecting the simple credulous young medical
student, and that had made him say as he came home with the contract in
his pocket, "I will do what I can," when in truth he meant, "I will get
what I can."

There may be business men in America who do not get what they can, who
simply love power. One sees men here and there in banks, at the heads of
great industrial trusts, in factories and in great mercantile houses of
whom one would like to think thus. They are the men who one dreams have
had an awakening, who have found themselves; they are the men hopeful
thinkers try to recall again and again to the mind.

To these men America is looking. It is asking them to keep the faith, to
stand themselves up against the force of the brute trader, the dollar man,
the man who with his one cunning wolf quality of acquisitiveness has too
long ruled the business of the nation.

I have said that the sense of equity in Sam fought an unequal battle. He
was in business, and young in business, in a day when all America was
seized with a blind grappling for gain. The nation was drunk with it,
trusts were being formed, mines opened; from the ground spurted oil and
gas; railroads creeping westward opened yearly vast empires of new land.
To be poor was to be a fool; thought waited, art waited; and men at their
firesides gathered their children around them and talked glowingly of men
of dollars, holding them up as prophets fit to lead the youth of the young

Sam had in him the making of the new, the commanding man of business. It
was that quality in him that made him sit by the window thinking before
going to the medical student with the unfair contract, and the same
quality had sent him forth night after night to walk alone in the streets
when other young men went to theatres or to walk with girls in the park.
He had, in truth, a taste for the lonely hours when thought grows. He was
a step beyond the youth who hurries to the theatre or buries himself in
stories of love or adventure. He had in him something that wanted a

In the flat building across the vacant lot a light appeared at a window
and through the lighted window he saw a man clad in pajamas who propped a
sheet of music against a dressing-table and who had a shining silver horn
in his hand. Sam watched, filled with mild curiosity. The man, not
reckoning on an onlooker at so late an hour, began an elaborate and
amusing schedule of personation. He opened the window, put the horn to his
lips and then turning bowed before the lighted room as before an audience.
He put his hand to his lips and blew kisses about, then put the horn to
his lips and looked again at the sheet of music.

The note that came out of the window on the still air was a failure, it
flattened into a squawk. Sam laughed and pulled down the window. The
incident had brought back to his mind another man who bowed to a crowd and
blew upon a horn. Getting into bed he pulled the covers about him and went
to sleep. "I will get Frank's money if I can," he told himself, settling
the matter that had been in his mind. "Most men are fools and if I do not
get his money some other man will."

On the next afternoon Eckardt had lunch down town with Sam. Together they
went to a bank where Sam showed the profits of deals he had made and the
growth of his bank account, going afterward into South Water Street where
Sam talked glowingly of the money to be made by a shrewd man who knew the
ways of the street and had a head upon his shoulders.

"That's just it," said Frank Eckardt, falling quickly into the trap Sam
had set, and hungering for profits; "I have money but no head on my
shoulders for using it. I wish you would take it and see what you can do."

With a thumping heart Sam went home across the city to the Pergrin house,
Eckardt beside him in the elevated train. In Sam's room the agreement was
written out by Sam and signed by Eckardt. At dinner time they had the
drygoods buyer in to sign as witness.

And the agreement turned out to Eckardt's advantage. In no year did Sam
return him less than ten per cent, and in the end gave back the principal
more than doubled so that Eckardt was able to retire from the practice of
medicine and live upon the interest of his capital in a village near
Tiffin, Ohio.

With the thirty thousand dollars in his hands Sam began to reach out and
extend the scope of his ventures. He bought and sold constantly, not only
eggs, butter, apples, and grain, but also houses and building lots.
Through his head marched long rows of figures. Deals worked themselves out
in detail in his brain as he went about town drinking with young men, or
sat at dinner in the Pergrin house. He even began working over in his head
various schemes for getting into the firm by which he was employed, and
thought that he might work upon Broad-Shoulders, getting hold of his
interest and forcing himself into control. And then, the fear of Narrow-
Face holding him back and his growing success in deals keeping his mind
occupied, he was suddenly confronted by an opportunity that changed
entirely the plans he was making for himself.

Through Jack Prince's suggestion Colonel Tom Rainey of the great Rainey
Arms Company sent for him and offered him a position as buyer of all the
materials used in their factories.

It was the kind of connection Sam had unconsciously been seeking--a
company, strong, old, conservative, known throughout the world. There was,
in the talk with Colonel Tom, a hint of future opportunities to get stock
in the company and perhaps to become eventually an official--these things
were of course remote--to be dreamed of and worked toward--the company
made it a part of its policy.

Sam said nothing, but already he had decided to accept the place, and was
thinking of a profitable arrangement touching percentages on the amount
saved in buying that had worked out so well for him during his years with
Freedom Smith.

Sam's work for the firearms company took him off the road and confined him
to an office all day long. In a way he regretted this. The complaints he
had heard among travelling men in country hotels with regard to the
hardship of travel meant nothing to his mind. Any kind of travel was a
keen pleasure to him. Against the hardships and discomforts he balanced
the tremendous advantages of seeing new places and faces and getting a
look into many lives, and he looked back with a kind of retrospective joy
on the three years of hurrying from place to place, catching trains, and
talking with chance acquaintances met by the way. Also, the years on the
road had given him many opportunities for secret and profitable deals of
his own.

Over against these advantages the place at Rainey's threw him into close
and continuous association with men of big affairs. The offices of the
Arms Company occupied an entire floor of one of Chicago's newest and
biggest skyscrapers and millionaire stockholders and men high in the
service of the state and of the government at Washington came in and went
out at the door. Sam looked at them closely. He wanted to have a tilt with
them and try if his Caxton and South Water Street shrewdness would keep
the head upon his shoulders in LaSalle Street. The opportunity seemed to
him a big one and he went about his work quietly and ably, intent upon
making the most of it.

The Rainey Arms Company, at the time of Sam's coming with it, was still
largely owned by the Rainey family, father and daughter. Colonel Rainey, a
grey-whiskered military looking man with a paunch, was the president and
largest individual stockholder. He was a pompous, swaggering old fellow
with a habit of making the most trivial statement with the air of a judge
pronouncing the death sentence, and sat dutifully at his desk day after
day looking very important and thoughtful, smoking long black cigars and
signing personally piles of letters brought him by the heads of various
departments. He looked upon himself as a silent but very important spoke
in the government at Washington and every day issued many orders which the
men at the heads of departments received with respect and disregarded in
secret. Twice he had been prominently mentioned in connection with cabinet
positions in the national government, and in talks with his cronies at
clubs and restaurants he gave the impression of having actually refused an
offer of appointment on both occasions.

Having got himself established as a factor in the management of the
business, Sam found many things that surprised him. In every company of
which he knew there was some one man to whom all looked for guidance, who
at critical moments became dominant, saying "Do this, or that," and making
no explanations. In the Rainey Company he found no such man, but, instead,
a dozen strong departments, each with its own head and each more or less
independent of the others.

Sam lay in his bed at night and went about in the evening thinking of this
and of its meaning. Among the department heads there was a great deal of
loyalty and devotion to Colonel Tom, and he thought that among them were a
few men who were devoted to other interests than their own.

At the same time he told himself there was something wrong. He himself had
no such feeling of loyalty and although he was willing to give lip service
to the resounding talk of the colonel about the fine old traditions of the
company, he could not bring himself to a belief in the idea of conducting
a vast business on a system founded upon lip service to traditions, or
upon loyalty to an individual.

"There must be loose ends lying about everywhere," he thought and followed
the thought with another. "A man will come along, pick up these loose
ends, and run the whole shop. Why not I?"

The Rainey Arms Company had made its millions for the Rainey and Whittaker
families during the Civil War. Whittaker had been an inventor, making one
of the first practical breech-loading guns, and the original Rainey had
been a dry-goods merchant in an Illinois town who backed the inventor.

It proved itself a rare combination. Whittaker developed into a wonderful
shop manager for his day, and, from the first, stayed at home building
rifles and making improvements, enlarging the plant, getting out the
goods. The drygoods merchant scurried about the country, going to
Washington and to the capitals of the individual states, pulling wires,
appealing to patriotism and state pride, taking big orders at fat prices.

In Chicago there is a tradition that more than once he went south of the
Dixie line and that following these trips thousands of Rainey-Whittaker
rifles found their way into the hands of Confederate soldiers, but this
story which increased Sam's respect for the energetic little drygoods
merchant, Colonel Tom, his son, indignantly denied. In reality Colonel Tom
would have liked to think of the first Rainey as a huge, Jove-like god of
arms. Like Windy McPherson of Caxton, given a chance, he would have
invented a new ancestor.

After the Civil War, and Colonel Tom's growing to manhood, the Rainey and
Whittaker fortunes were merged into one through the marriage of Jane
Whittaker, the last of her line, to the only surviving Rainey, and upon
her death her fortune, grown to more than a million, stood in the name of
Sue Rainey, twenty-six, the only issue of the marriage.

From the first day, Sam began to forge ahead in the Rainey Company. In the
buying end he found a rich field for spectacular money saving and money
making and made the most of it. The position as buyer had for ten years
been occupied by a distant cousin to Colonel Tom, now dead. Whether the
cousin was a fool or a knave Sam could never quite decide and did not
greatly care, but after he had got the situation in hand he felt that the
man must have cost the company a tremendous sum, which _he intended to

Sam's arrangement with the company gave him, besides a fair salary, half
he saved in the fixed prices of standard materials. These prices had stood
fixed for years and Sam went into them, cutting right and left, and making
for himself during his first year twenty-three thousand dollars. At the
end of the year, when the directors asked to have an adjustment made and
the percentage contract annulled, he got a generous slice of company
stock, the respect of Colonel Tom Rainey and the directors, the fear of
some of the department heads, the loyal devotion of others, and the title
of Treasurer of the company.

The Rainey Arms Company was in truth living largely upon the reputation
built up for it by the first pushing energetic Rainey, and the inventive
genius of his partner, Whittaker. Under Colonel Tom it had found new
conditions and new competition which he had ignored, or met in a half-
hearted way, standing on its reputation, its financial strength, and on
the glory of its past achievements. Dry rot ate at its heart. The damage
done was not great, but was growing greater. The heads of the departments,
in whose hands so much of the running of the business lay, were many of
them incompetent men with nothing to commend them but long years of
service. And in the treasurer's office sat a quiet young man, barely
turned twenty, who had no friends, wanted his own way, and who shook his
head over the office traditions and was proud of his unbelief.

Seeing the absolute necessity of working through Colonel Tom, and having a
head filled with ideas of things he wanted done, Sam began working to get
suggestions into the older man's mind. Within a month after his elevation
the two men were lunching together daily and Sam was spending many extra
hours behind closed doors in Colonel Tom's office.

Although American business and manufacturing had not yet achieved the
modern idea of efficiency in shop and office management, Sam had many of
these ideas in his mind and expounded them tirelessly to Colonel Tom. He
hated waste; he cared nothing for company tradition; he had no idea, as
did the heads of other departments, of getting into a comfortable berth
and spending the rest of his days there, and he was bent on managing the
great Rainey Company, if not directly, then through Colonel Tom, who, he
felt, was putty in his hands.

From his new position as treasurer Sam did not drop his work as buyer,
but, after a talk with Colonel Tom, merged the two departments, put in
capable assistants of his own, and went on with his work of effacing the
tracks of the cousin. For years the company had been overpaying for
inferior material. Sam put his own material inspectors into the west side
factories and brought several big Pennsylvania steel companies scurrying
to Chicago to make restitution. The restitution was stiff, but when
Colonel Tom was appealed to, Sam went to lunch with him, bought a bottle
of wine, and stiffened his back.

One afternoon in a room in the Palmer House a scene was played out that
for days stayed in Sam's mind as a kind of realisation of the part he
wanted to play in the business world. The president of a lumber company
took Sam into the room, and, laying five one thousand dollar bills upon a
table, walked to the window and stood looking out.

For a moment Sam stood looking at the money on the table and at the back
of the man by the window, burning with indignation. He felt that he should
like to take hold of the man's throat and press as he had once pressed on
the throat of Windy McPherson. And then a cold gleam coming into his eyes
he cleared his throat and said, "You are short here; you will have to
build this pile higher if you expect to interest me."

The man by the window shrugged his shoulders--he was a slender, young-
looking man in a fancy waistcoat--and then turning and taking a roll of
bills from his pocket he walked to the table, facing Sam.

"I shall expect you to be reasonable," he said, as he laid the bills on
the table.

When the pile had reached twenty thousand, Sam reached out his hand and
taking it up put it in his pocket. "You will get a receipt for this when I
get back to the office," he said; "it is about what you owe our company
for overcharges and crooked material. As for our business, I made a
contract with another company this morning."

Having got the buying end of the Rainey Arms Company straightened out to
his liking, Sam began spending much time in the shops and, through Colonel
Tom, forced big changes everywhere. He discharged useless foremen, knocked
out partitions between rooms, pushed everywhere for more and better work.
Like the modern efficiency man, he went about with a watch in his hand,
cutting out lost motion, rearranging, getting his own way.

It was a time of great agitation. The offices and shops buzzed like bees
disturbed and black looks followed him about. But Colonel Tom rose to the
situation and went about at Sam's heels, swaggering, giving orders,
throwing back his shoulders like a man remade. All day long he was at it,
discharging, directing, roaring against waste. When a strike broke out in
one of the shops because of innovations Sam had forced upon the workmen
there, he got upon a bench and delivered a speech--written by Sam--on a
man's place in the organisation and conducting of a great modern industry
and his duty to perfect himself as a workman.

Silently, the men picked up their tools and started again for their
benches and when he saw them thus affected by his words Colonel Tom
brought what threatened to be a squally affair to a hurrahing climax by
the announcement of a five per cent increase in the wage scale--that was
Colonel Tom's own touch and the rousing reception of it brought a glow of
pride to his cheeks.

Although the affairs of the company were still being handled by Colonel
Tom, and though he daily more and more asserted himself, the officers and
shops, and later the big jobbers and buyers as well as the rich LaSalle
Street directors, knew that a new force had come into the company. Men
began dropping quietly into Sam's office, asking questions, suggesting,
seeking favours. He felt that he was getting hold. Of the department
heads, about half fought him and were secretly marked for slaughter; the
others came to him, expressed approval of what was going on and asked him
to look over their departments and to make suggestions for improvements
through them. This Sam did eagerly, getting by it their loyalty and
support which later stood him in good stead.

In choosing the new men that came into the company Sam also took a hand.
The method used was characteristic of his relations with Colonel Tom. If a
man applying for a place suited him, he got admission to the colonel's
office and listened for half an hour to a talk anent the fine old
traditions of the company. If a man did not suit Sam, he did not get to
the colonel. "You can't have your time taken up by them," Sam explained.

In the Rainey Company, the various heads of departments were stockholders
in the company, and selected from among themselves two men to sit upon the
board, and in his second year Sam was chosen as one of these employee
directors. During the same year five heads of departments resigning in a
moment of indignation over one of Sam's innovations--to be replaced later
by two--their stock by a prearranged agreement came back into the
company's hands. This stock and another block, secured for him by the
colonel, got into Sam's hands through the use of Eckardt's money, that of
the Wabash Avenue woman, and his own snug pile.

Sam was a growing force in the company. He sat on the board of directors,
the recognised practical head of the business among its stockholders and
employees; he had stopped the company's march toward a second place in its
industry and had faced it about. All about him, in offices and shops,
there was the swing and go of new life and he felt that he was in a
position to move on toward real control and had begun laying lines with
that end in view. Standing in the offices in LaSalle Street or amid the
clang and roar of the shops he tilted up his chin with the same odd little
gesture that had attracted the men of Caxton to him when he was a barefoot
newsboy and the son of the town drunkard. Through his head went big
ambitious projects. "I have in my hand a great tool," he thought; "with it
I will pry my way into the place I mean to occupy among the big men of
this city and this nation."

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Windy Mcpherson's Son - BOOK II - Chapter III Windy Mcpherson's Son - BOOK II - Chapter III

Windy Mcpherson's Son - BOOK II - Chapter III
Sam McPherson, who stood in the shops among the thousands of employees ofthe Rainey Arms Company, who looked with unseeing eyes at the faces of themen intent upon the operation of machines and saw in them but so many aidsto the ambitious projects stirring in his brain, who, while yet a boy, hadbecause of the quality of daring in him, combined with a gift ofacquisitiveness, become a master, who was untrained, uneducated, knowingnothing of the history of industry or of social effort, walked out of theoffices of his company and along through the crowded streets to the newapartment he had taken

Windy Mcpherson's Son - BOOK II - Chapter I Windy Mcpherson's Son - BOOK II - Chapter I

Windy Mcpherson's Son - BOOK II - Chapter I
For two years Sam lived the life of a travelling buyer, visiting towns inIndiana, Illinois, and Iowa, and making deals with men who, like FreedomSmith, bought the farmers' products. On Sundays he sat in chairs beforecountry hotels and walked in the streets of strange towns, or, gettingback to the city at the week end, went through the downtown streets andamong the crowds in the parks with young men he had met on the road. Fromtime to time he went to Caxton and sat for an hour with the men inWildman's, stealing away later for an evening with Mary Underwood.In the store