Symud i'r prif gynnwys
Cuddio Rhestr Erthyglau

16 erthygl ar y dudalen hon



OUR SHORT STORY. THE RESULT OF A KISS. By RADCLIFFE MARTIN. There are in this world quaint people who actually like work. Mr. Bridge was one of them. As he sat at his desk in the offices of Amalgamated Liners, Limited, he was perfectly liappy, for he saw work before him which would keep him at the office till ten o'clock. He was a meek little man, but if ever he boasted it was to intimate friends to whom he confided the amount of overtime he put in. Mr. Chandler, the head of the company, knew exactly how to reward Mr. Bridge's services. As he left at four o clock to play golf or visit his club, he would say, "Ah, Bridge; in these strenuous days we must leave nothing undone. The Empire depends on us. Keep hard at it." And Mr. Bridge would say, Yes, sir; yes, sir; you may rely on me, sir," and feel just as proud as if he had got the O.B.E. Mr. Chandler had not given Mr. Bridge any advance for some time. Once Mr. Bridge had delicately hinted at the desirability of such a thing, and Mr. Chandler had said, I'm (surprised and pained, Bridge. You know how heavily the exoess profits duty weighs on me. I am ashamed of vou, Bridge." For weeks afterwards Mr. Bridge could scarcely face the managing director with- out a. blush of shame for his covetousness flaming across his countenance. He trusted that Mr. Chandler had forgotten all about it. He need not have worried. However, Mr. Chandler showed that he bore no malice towards his old employee, for when Mar- garet Bridge wanted a place as shorthand- typist he engaged her as private secretary. It was true that she inigtit have got ten shilling a week more elsewhere; but, as Mr. Bridge pointed out to his daughter, it was a great thing to be connected with such a firm. This morning Mr. Bridge required a ship's manifest from another department, and stole cautiously along the passage past the private office. He always trod* very lightly there, because he was afraid of dis- turbing the great man. Just as he passed the private office the door opened, and his daughter came out. She was in tears and her hair was ruffled. "My dear!" .gasped Mr. Bridge; "you haven'te—you surely haven't made a mis- take? "I won't stay," cried the girl. "He's a brute, and he kissed me, and I boxed his cars. "You boxed his ears?" repeated Mr. Bridge mechanically. Mr. CJuwdler heard the voices outside and came to his door very red in the face. "Taie is it," he growled. "I might have guessed it. Organised blackmail. You've put her up to this after my years of kind- ness to you. Just as I was dictating a letter she burst into tears and rushes out to where you lay in waiting. I won't be blackmailed. I won't part with a penny. You are both discharged." Mr. Bridge stood aghast for a moment. -Nfr. Br' C'Lqe -to,,) d i r' His whole world had crumbled round him. Then he regained his breath and said: "If you say anything against Margaret, Mr. Chandler, with -all respect I say you ar3 a liar. "Clear out! ordered Mr. Chandler. "Get your things, dear," said Mr. Bridge to his daughter. He went Lack to his office and took his hat and coat from a peg. "What's the matter?" cried a fellow clerk. "You don't go to lunch for two hours yet. Are you slipping out to put something on a horse, old man? The office laughed, for the idea of Mr. Bridge slipping out in business hours to back horses was too ludicrous. "You know that on p1 ineiple I abstain from betting," said Mr. Bridge very gravely. "I am going out because- "Girl to meet?' interrupted the frivolous clerk. N o, sir: I should not think of meeting any young lady, especially in business hours. I am .going because I have had a painful difference of opinion with Mr. Chandler, and I am leaving at once." Father," said his daughter when he met her outside, "I am so sorry, but I could not, help it. He has tried to be too triendly for weeks, and when I asked ihun this morn- ing to remember that I was engaged to Arthur he laughed and said, What did a boy matter?' and kis, td me, and then 3 boxed his ears." "You acted perfectly properly, dear," said Mr. Bridge. "I am proud of you. I must own I was mistaken in my opinion of Mr. Chandler." "You'll easilv get another place, dad." My dear, I've been there for tliirty-hve years. I've never "been in another post, and now he won't give me a reference. Well, dear, perhaps it is a good thing that youl mother is dead. This would have been a '?  'h c, al-,?,a v s had very painful shock to her. She always had the highest opinion of Mr. Chandler." "I'll get a place, Father. They won't worry a.bout references for me, or, at any rate, the Vicar would give me one. And we have some money. Perhaps we shall be able to force that man to give you a re- ference." That evening Mr. Bridge felt so low in his mmd that lie could not stay in the house, and went for a country walk. Al- most automatically he went in the direction of his accustomed Sunday walk. It had been the pleasure of his life for years to take his friends past the great mansion that Mi. Chandler owned. He took a pride that wae almost personal in the place. He pointed out the rose gardens, the shrub- beries, the billiard room, the tennis courts, and bragged about them as if he had owned them—but that is wrong, for had he owned them the modest little man would never have bragged about them. This evening he paused at his accustomed spot. "A noble domain," he said to him- self: and then like a shock it came to him that the owner of it was not the great Chandler, the man h-e had idolised, but a mean, low creature who, though married, was hftee enough to love to the young daughter of a devoted servant. "I "hould not have believed it," aid Mr Bridge to himself. He aftw a young girl in white eauntering in the rose garden, and added, "With a daughter of his own, too. Who would havf thought it? Who would have thought it? As be gazed sadly at the scene lie saw:) young man come tip the path, take the girl's arm, and the ner/t moment kiss her. "I ought not to be watching," thought Mr. Bridge. "Oh, here's Mr. Chandler." He wondered for a moment what Mr. Chandler would say when he found his daughter being kissed by a man. Then he jaw the young couple turn towards the shipowner. The young man made some ex- planation. Mr. Chandler laughed aloud. kissed his daughter, slapped the young mal] heartily on the back, and then seemed tc dismiss them to their own devices Mr. Bridge felt that he had watched lon enough. He went away and walked thoughtfully home. The next morning" he told his anughtei that he was going to the City to look foi a post. He went straight to the office of a stockbroker he knew. The stockbroker was a reckless young person who years age had been under Mr. Bridge in the offico His career had been a- short but lively one He had been disrespectful to Mr. Chandler had asked for advances in the most auda. cious way, and had finally departed, making the blasphemous remark that he was going to look for a job with a, bit of money at- tached to it. He had sometimes met Mr. Bridge since, and Mr. Bridge had alwaya expresse d the hope that Wallace did not re- pent his rashness: and, considering that the stockbroker's income probably amounted to ten thousand a year, it was not likely that he did. This morning Mr. Bridge sent in his card, and was almost at once admitted to Mr. Wallace's presence. "Hallo, old man said Wallace. What are you doing away from business at this time? Not g'ot the sack, I hope? The stockbroker laughed at his own joke. You have hit on the truth. Mr. Chand- ler has dismissed me." ""Ven. if the old hog expects anyone else to do more work for less mcnev in these times he'll find himself much mistaken. Whatever made you leave? "We had a personal difference; and he has refused to give me a referenoe." Well, of course, you can always have a job here, old friend. You'd soon tumble to our ways. I can't offer you as much work as that old fraud, but I'm sure I can offer you more money. Don't worry about a re- ference. He's such a confounded liar that I'd rather take a man he wouldn't give a reference to. I'm a member of the sa-me golf club, and you should hear low I cliaff him about the wretched wage he used to pay me. Tell me why you left? "Between ourselves, he insulted my daughter, who was his secretary, and theu he accused me of having got her the post to blackmail him. I assure you that it quits untrue." "Don't trouble to toll me nato. Y Obi somehow don't look the blackmailer. I'm not afraid of you blackmailing me. Well, of course, you'll come ar.d have a job here. I can do with a worker like you." "I am much obliged to you for your offer, and I accept it gladly," replied Mi. Bridge gravely, to the stockbroker's de- light; "but I really came about a matter of business. I have a little money—about six hundred pound5nd I should like to make it more on the Stock Exchange." -Make money on the Stock Exchange! Nonsense! "But I have special information." "They all have. The special tips I've had given me in this office would have bank- rupted the Bank of England twice over." You eae, last night I saw a man kise a girl." 0 The stockbroker stored. "That is not so uncommon a thing as you imagine. Bridge. It ia frequently done. I assure you that I have done it myself in my young days." "Please listen to me for a moment," said Mr. Bridge. A month later there were a few members in the ciub-room of the South Surrey Golf Club. Someone called to Chandler, who was drinking at the bar. "I say, Chandler, how many hundred thousa.nds have you made out of this amalgamation of your shipping company with Austral-Canadian liners? Chandler turned very red in the face. "There's no chance for honest business now- adays," he growled. "The country is ruined by swarms of Stock Exchange swindlers. Would you believe it, that be- fore the agreement had been completed all the shares on the market had been bought by an infernal Stock Exchange syndicate. They got nearly all the benefit of the great rise in values following the amalgamation. I don't doubt they bribed my employees to get information. Government ought to stop that sort of thing." "Wait a minute, Cha-ndler," said W^ al- lace; "I am one of the Stock Exchange speculators you refer to. I made a pot of money, and I'll give you my secret sources of information. I heard that young Saun- ders, the eon of the owner of Austral-Cana- dian liners, was engaged to your daughter, and I judged the family amalgamation and business amalgamation would go together." Why, it'e not been announced yet," said Chandler. No, let me tell you Jiow I got to know. You had a typist." And you bribed her "No, you kissed her. You insulted the innocent daughter of an old and far too faithful servant. Then you discharged father and daughter and called them black- mailers. That night the poor despairing fellow went into the country for a bit of peace, and passed your house. He stopped to admire it. He always regarded you as a kind of god, Chandler. He saw in the gar- den young Saunders kissing your daughter, and that you approved. He had the sense to see the business consequences that would follow the engagement. He came and told me. I took care that he wa-s all right. He's made ten thousand out of the deal, and I've made-but I wont aggravate you by telling you that. You've lost a good many thous- ands, Chandler, because you were black- guard enough to insult the daughter of an old and faithful servant. And if you dare sa, a word against the girl now I'll punch your head and then explain mv reasons for punching your head to Mrs rllindler--






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