Marching Men HTML version

In Chicago the Ormsbys lived in a large stone house in Drexel Boulevard. The
house had a history. It was owned by a banker who was a large stockholder and
one of the directors of the plough trust. Like all men who knew him well the
banker admired and respected the ability and integrity of David Ormsby. When
the ploughmaker came to the city from a town in Wisconsin to be the master of
the plough trust he offered him the house to use.
The house had come to the banker from his father, a grim determined old
money-making merchant of a past generation who had died hated by half
Chicago after toiling sixteen hours daily for sixty years. In his old age the
merchant had built the house to express the power wealth had given him. It had
floors and woodwork cunningly wrought of expensive woods by workmen sent to
Chicago by a firm in Brussels. In the long drawing room at the front of the house
hung a chandelier that had cost the merchant ten thousand dollars. The stairway
leading to the floor above was from the palace of a prince in Venice and had
been bought for the merchant and brought over seas to the house in Chicago.
The banker who inherited the house did not want to live in it. Even before the
death of his father and after his own unsuccessful marriage he lived at a down
town club. In his old age the merchant, retired from business, lived in the house
with another old man, an inventor. He could not rest although he had given up
business with that end in view. Digging a trench in the lawn at the back of the
house he with his friend spent his days trying to reduce the refuse of one of his
factories to something having commercial value. Fires burned in the trench and
at night the grim old man, hands covered with tar, sat in the house under the
chandelier. After the death of the merchant the house stood empty, staring at
passers-by in the street, its walks and paths overgrown with weeds and rank
David Ormsby fitted into his house. Walking through the long halls or sitting
smoking his cigar in an easy chair on the wide lawn he looked arrayed and
environed. The house became a part of him like a well-made and intelligently
worn suit of clothes. Into the drawing room under the ten thousand dollar
chandelier he moved a billiard table and the click of ivory balls banished the
churchliness of the place.
Up and down the stairway moved American girls, friends of Margaret, their skirts
rustling and their voices running through the huge rooms. In the evening after
dinner David played billiards. The careful calculation of the angles and the
English interested him. Playing in the evening with Margaret or with a man friend
the fatigue of the day passed and his honest voice and reverberating laugh
brought a smile to the lips of people passing in the street. In the evening David