Marching Men HTML version

John Van Moore a young Chicago advertising man went one afternoon to the
offices of the Wheelright Bicycle Company. The company had both its factory
and offices far out on the west side. The factory was a huge brick affair fronted
by a broad cement sidewalk and a narrow green lawn spotted with flower beds.
The building used for offices was smaller and had a veranda facing the street. Up
the sides of the office building vines grew.
Like the reporter who had watched the Marching Men in the field by the factory
wall John Van Moore was a dapper young man with a moustache. In his leisure
hours he played a clarinet. "It gives a man something to cling to," he explained to
his friends. "One sees life going past and feels that he is not a mere drifting log in
the stream of things. Although as a musician I amount to nothing, it at least
makes me dream."
Among the men in the advertising office where he worked Van Moore was known
as something of a fool, redeemed by his ability to string words together. He wore
a heavy black braided watch chain and carried a cane and he had a wife who
after marriage had studied medicine and with whom he did not live. Sometimes
on a Saturday evening the two met at some restaurant and sat for hours drinking
and laughing. When the wife had gone to her own place the advertising man
continued the fun, going from saloon to saloon and making long speeches setting
forth his philosophy of life. "I am an individualist," he declared, strutting up and
down and swinging the cane about. "I am a dabbler, an experimenter if you will.
Before I die it is my dream that I will discover a new quality in existence."
For the bicycle company the advertising man was to write a booklet telling in
romantic and readable form the history of the company. When finished the
booklet would be sent out to those who had answered advertisements put into
magazines and newspapers. The company had a process of manufacture
peculiar to Wheelright bicycles and in the booklet this was to be much
The manufacturing process in regard to which John Van Moore was to wax
eloquent had been conceived in the brain of a workman and was responsible for
the company's success. Now the workman was dead and the president of the
company had decided that he would take credit for the idea. He had thought a
good deal of the matter and had decided that in truth the notion must have been
more than a little his own. "It must have been so," he told himself, "otherwise it
would not have worked out so well."
In the offices of the bicycle company the president, a grey gross man with tiny
eyes, walked up and down a long room heavily carpeted. In reply to questions