The Clarion HTML version

2. Our Leading Citizen
The year of grace, 1913, commended itself to Dr. L. André Surtaine as an excellent time
in which to be alive, rich, and sixty years old. Thoroughly, keenly, ebulliently alive he
was. Thoroughly rich, also; and if the truth be told, rather ebulliently conscious of his
wealth. You could see at a glance that he had paid no usurious interest to Fate on his
success; that his vigor and zest in life remained to him undiminished. Vitality and a high
satisfaction with his environment and with himself as well placed in it, radiated from his
bulky and handsome person; but it was the vitality that impressed you first: impressed
and warmed you; perhaps warned you, too, on shrewder observation. A gleaming
personality, this. But behind the radiance one surmised fire. Occasion given, Dr. Surtaine
might well be formidable.
The world had been his oyster to open. He had cleaved it wide. Ill-natured persons hinted,
in reference to his business, that he had used poison rather than the knife wherewith to
loosen the stubborn hinges of the bivalve. Money gives back small echo to the cries of
calumny, however. And Dr. Surtaine's Certina, that infallible and guaranteed blood-cure,
eradicator of all known human ills, "famous across the map of the world," to use one of
its advertising phrases, under the catchword of "Professor Certain's Certina, the Sure-
Cure" (for he preserved the old name as a trade-mark), had made a vast deal of money for
its proprietor. Worthington estimated his fortune at fifteen millions, growing at the rate of
a million yearly, and was not preposterously far afield. In a city of two hundred thousand
inhabitants, claimed (one hundred and seventy-five thousand allowed by a niggling and
suspicious census), this is all that the most needy of millionaires needs. It was all that Dr.
Surtaine needed. He enjoyed his high satisfaction as a hard-earned increment.
Something more than satisfaction beamed from his face this blustery March noon as he
awaited the Worthington train at a small station an hour up the line. He fidgeted like an
eager boy when the whistle sounded, and before the cars had fairly come to a stop he was
up the steps of the sleeper and inside the door. There rose to meet him a tall, carefully
dressed and pressed youth, whose exclamation was evenly apportioned between welcome
and surprise.
To the amusement of the other passengers, the two seized each other in a bear-hug.
"Oof!" panted the big man, releasing his son. "That's the best thing that's happened to me
this year. George" (to the porter), "get me a seat. Get us two seats together. Aren't any?
Perhaps this gentleman," turning to the chair back of him, "wouldn't mind moving across
the aisle until we get to Worthington."