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4. The Shop
Certina had found its first modest home in Worthington on a side street. As the business
grew, the staid tenement which housed it expanded and drew to itself neighboring
buildings, until it eventually gave way to the largest, finest, and most up-to-date office
edifice in the city. None too large, fine, or modern was this last word in architecture for
the triumphant nostrum and the minor medical enterprises allied to it. For though Certina
alone bore the name and spread the fame and features of its inventor abroad in the land,
many lesser experiments had bloomed into success under the fertilizing genius of the
Inanimate machinery, when it runs sweetly, gives forth a definite tone, the bee-song of
work happily consummated. So this great human mechanism seemed, to Harrington
Surtaine as he entered the realm of its activities, moving to music personal to itself.
Through its wide halls he wandered, past humming workrooms, up spacious stairways,
resonant to the tread of brisk feet, until he reached the fifth floor where cluster the main
offices. Here through a succession of open doors he caught a glimpse of the engineer who
controlled all these lively processes, leaning easily back from his desk, fresh, suavely
groomed, smiling, an embodiment of perfect satisfaction. Before Dr. Surtaine lay many
sheaves of paper, in rigid order. A stenographer sat in a far corner, making notes. From
beyond a side door came the precise, faint clicking of a typewriter. The room possessed
an atmosphere of calm and poise; but not of restfulness. At once and emphatically it
impressed the visitor with a sense that it was a place where things were done, and done
Upon his son's greeting, Dr. Surtaine whirled in his chair.
"Come down to see the old slave at work, eh?" he said.
"Yes, sir." Hal's hand fell on the other's shoulder, and the Doctor's fingers went up to it
for a quick pressure. "I thought I'd like to see the wheels go 'round."
"You've come to the right spot. This is the good old cash-factory, and yours truly is the
man behind the engine. The State, I'm It, as Napoleon said to Louis the Quince. Where
McBeth sits is the head of the table."
"In other words, a one-man business."
"That's the secret. There's nothing in this shop that I can't do, and don't do, every now and
then, just to keep my hand in. I can put more pull into an ad. to-day than the next best
man in the business. Modesty isn't my besetting sin, you see, Hal."
"Why should it be? Every brick in this building would give the lie to it."
"Say every frame on these four walls," suggested Dr. Surtaine with an expansive gesture.