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Dangerous Days

Chapter 4
Graham left the conference that morning in a rather exalted mood. The old mill
was coming into its own at last. He had a sense of boyish triumph in the new
developments, a feeling of being a part of big activities that would bring rich
rewards. And he felt a new pride in his father. He had sat, a little way from the
long table, and had watched the faces of the men gathered about it as clearly
and forcibly the outlines of the new departure were given out. Hitherto
"Spencer's" had made steel only. Now, they were not only to make the steel, but
they were to forge the ingots into rough casts; these casts were then to be
carried to the new munition works, there to be machined, drilled, polished,
provided with fuses, which "Spencer's" were also to make, and shipped abroad.
The question of speeding production had been faced and met. The various
problems had been discussed and the bonus system tentatively taken up. Then
the men had dispersed, each infected with the drive of his father's contagious
force. "Pretty fine old boy," Graham had considered. And he wondered vaguely if,
when his time came, he would be able to take hold. For a few minutes Natalie's
closetings lost their effect. He saw his father, not as one from whom to hide
extravagance and unpaid bills, but as the head of a great concern that was now
to be a part of the war itself. He wandered into his father's office, and picked up
the shell. Clayton was already at his letters, but looked up.
"Think we rather had them, eh, Graham?"
"Think you did, sir. Carried them off their feet. Pretty, isn't it?" He held up the
shell-case. "If a fellow could only forget what the damned things are for!"
"They are to help to end the war," said Clayton, crisply. "Don't forget that, boy."
And went back to his steady dictation.
Graham went out of the building into the mill yard. The noise always irritated him.
He had none of Clayton's joy and understanding of it. To Clayton each sound had
its corresponding activity. To Graham it was merely din, an annoyance to his
ears, as the mill yard outraged his fastidiousness. But that morning he found it
rather more bearable. He stooped where, in front of the store, the storekeeper
had planted a tiny garden. Some small late-blossoming chrysanthemums were
still there and he picked one and put it in his buttonhole.
His own office was across the yard. He dodged in front of a yard locomotive,
picked his way about masses of lumber and the general litter of all mill yards, and
opened the door of his own building. Just inside his office a girl was sitting on a
straight chair, her hat a trifle crooked, and her eyes red from crying. He paused in
"Why, Miss Klein!" he said. "What's the matter?"
She was rather a pretty girl, even now. She stood up at his voice and made an
effort to straighten her hat.
"Haven't you heard?" she asked.