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HOME > Inspiring Novel > Simeon Tetlow's Shadow > CHAPTER VIII
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 THERE were no dreams in the eyes of the President of the “R. and Q.” road the next morning. The office was a of papers; they lay on the desk and on chairs, and covered the floor. “When John opened the door and stepped in, the president was running distracted fingers through his hair and diving into the chaos. He came up with a .  
“I wish you’d find that statement the C. B. and L. sent last month—and be quick about it!”
With a smile the boy hung up his hat and went down on his knees into the chaos, filing, selecting, discarding, with the old care.
Simeon returned to his desk, . He took up the telephone receiver and put it to his ear, his alert for blunders.... “What?—No!—You ’ve copied that wrong—The last one—yes.... Tomlinson, I said—not Thompson—Oh, Lord! Tomlin—L-i-n...”
John slipped quietly from the room. At the door marked with the bronze token, “President’s Office,” he paused. The typewriters merrily within and through the ground glass he caught a of pompadours rising against the light. He opened the door and looked in. The young women at the typewriters did not look up—except with their shoulders. The one by the large window at her machine, her fingers fidgeting and the keys. Her mouth wore a look of fine scorn and her blue eyes glinted.
John returned to the outer office. The head bookkeeper looked up with a nod. “Morning, John. Moving along up above!”
The boy nodded a slow reply. “Where is Edith?” he said.
“Oh—Edith?” The man thought a moment with pen suspended. The light from the hanging bulb fell on his lined face. “Edith? Oh, yes. Congdon took her. Billing-room, I guess. Back to stay?”
“Not for long.” The boy had disappeared through the swinging door at the end of the room.
The young man seated at another desk in the room followed him with curious glance. “Who is that?” he asked, turning a little on his stool and staring at his companion.
The head bookkeeper nodded absently. “That is John Bennett.” His finger was on the column, tracing a blunder to its source.
“And who in hell is John Bennett?” demanded the other slowly.
“You ’ll find out—if you stay long enough,” replied the head bookkeeper pleasantly. He placed his finger on the column and figures on the little pad at his side. He laid aside the pad. “He ’s Simeon Tetlow’s shadow,” he said. “The two Bridgewater boys over there by the window.” He nodded his head. “They call him ’Sissie Johnny.’”
“Looks like a fool and acts like Lord of Creation,” muttered the other.
“That ’s what he is,” said the head bookkeeper. He had no time for conversation just then. He was close on the track of his mistake. Moreover, the assistant bookkeeper was a thorn in his side. The appointment had been none of his—one of old man Tetlow’s blunders, he called it when he had time to talk.
The assistant bookkeeper took up his pen, looking at it . He knew, perhaps better than the head bookkeeper, to what he owed his appointment. Six months ago he had been in the employ of the rival road. Just why he had left them was his own affair, as were also the wires that had been pulled in his behalf along the “R. and Q.” Well, he was here. He had gathered much interesting information in his six months—information that might be valuable—very valuable—some day. He dipped his pen in the ink.... As for this John Bennett.... The pens were both at work now, flying fast.
“You want Edith?” Congdon, the head billing-clerk, looked up from his file of bills with a little scowl; it changed slowly to pleasure. “Why, how are you, John? Did n’t know you were back... Edith—Well, yes, I took her—wanted another hand here. Marshall said they could spare one from the office. So I took the littlest.” He smiled .
“Littlest and best,” said John.
The other laughed out. “I began to suspect it—The old man wants her back?”
“Right off.”
Congdon turned a little in his place. “Oh, Edith!” He raised his voice and the girl across the room looked up.
He to her and she came slowly, leaving her machine with a little touch that was almost a pat, as if it said, “Coming back very soon.”
“Yes, sir.” She stood before them waiting, a slight, dark girl, with clear glance.
“Ah,” the man’s eyes dwelt on her . “They want you back in the office, Edith. You need n’t stop to finish.—I ’ll put some one else on those.”
She turned away with a look that was almost a smile of pleasure. Half way to her table she paused and came back. “I can take my machine, can’t I?”
He laughed tolerantly. “Oh, take it along, if you want to—Nobody else wants it.”
John followed her to the table. “I ’ll carry it for you, Edith.”
She slipped out the paper she had been at work on and began up the trifles from her table.
When he set down the machine in the president’s office, a of passed it by—glances too busy for comment. The of the typewriters rose and hummed. The hive could not pause for a worker more or less. She slipped into her place with a little smile and nod, waiting while John shifted the telephone connection and swung a bulb, with its green shade, conveniently in place.
The little bell rang sharply and she leaned to the receiver. “Hello!”
John crossed to the young woman by the window. She had finished a sheet and was drawing it out with a quick .
“All done?” he asked pleasantly.
She ignored him, rubbing out an offending word and blowing aw............
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