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Windy McPherson's Son

CHAPTER II.3
Sam McPherson, who stood in the shops among the thousands of employees of the
Rainey Arms Company, who looked with unseeing eyes at the faces of the men intent
upon the operation of machines and saw in them but so many aids to the ambitious
projects stirring in his brain, who, while yet a boy, had because of the quality of daring in
him, combined with a gift of acquisitiveness, become a master, who was untrained,
uneducated, knowing nothing of the history of industry or of social effort, walked out of
the offices of his company and along through the crowded streets to the new apartment he
had taken on Michigan Avenue. It was Saturday evening at the end of a busy week and as
he walked he thought of things he had accomplished during the week and made plans for
the one to come. Through Madison Street he went and into State, seeing the crowds of
men and women, boys and girls, clambering aboard the cable cars, massed upon the
pavements, forming in groups, the groups breaking and reforming, and the whole making
a picture intense, confusing, awe-inspiring. As in the shops among the men workers, so
here, also, walked the youth with unseeing eyes. He liked it all; the mass of people; the
clerks in their cheap clothing; the old men with young girls on their arms going to dine in
restaurants; the young man with a wistful look in his eyes waiting for his sweetheart in
the shadow of the towering office building. The eager, straining rush of the whole,
seemed no more to him than a kind of gigantic setting for action; action controlled by a
few quiet, capable men--of whom he intended to be one--intent upon growth.
In State Street he stopped at a shop and buying a bunch of roses came out again upon the
crowded street. In the crowd before him walked a woman-- tall, freewalking, with a great
mass of reddish-brown hair on her head. As she passed through the crowd men stopped
and looked back at her, their eyes ablaze with admiration. Seeing her, Sam sprang
forward with a cry.
"Edith!" he called, and running forward thrust the roses into her hand. "For Janet," he
said, and lifting his hat walked beside her along State to Van Buren Street.
Leaving the woman at a corner Sam came into a region of cheap theatres and dingy
hotels. Women spoke to him; young men in flashy overcoats and with a peculiar,
assertive, animal swing to their shoulders loitered before the theatres or in the doorways
of the hotels; from an upstairs restaurant came the voice of another young man singing a
popular song of the street. "There'll be a hot time in the old town to-night," sang the
voice.
Over a cross street Sam went into Michigan Avenue, faced by a long narrow park and
beyond the railroad tracks by the piles of new earth where the city was trying to regain its
lake front. In the cross street, standing in the shadow of the elevated railroad, he had
passed a whining, intoxicated old woman who lurched forward and put a hand upon his
coat. Sam had flung her a quarter and passed on shrugging his shoulders. Here also he
had walked with unseeing eyes; this too was a part of the gigantic machine with which
the quiet, competent men of growth worked.
 
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