worked in the office of Harvey Maxwell, broker, usually allowed his face
to show no feeling. This morning he allowed his face to show interest
and surprise when Mr. Maxwell entered. It was half past nine, and Mr.
Maxwell was with his young lady secretary.
“Good morning, Pitcher,” said Maxwell. He rushed to his table as if he
were going to jump over it, then began to look at the many, many letters
and other papers waiting there for him.
The young lady had been Maxwell’s secretary for a year. She was very
beautiful, and very different from most other secretaries. Her hair
always looked plain and simple. She did not wear chains or jewels. Her
dress was gray and plain, but it fitted her very well. On her small
black- hat was the gold-green wing of a bird.
On this morning she seemed to shine softly. Her eyes were dreaming but
bright. Her face was warmly colored, and her expression was happy.
Pitcher watched her. There was a question about her in his mind. She was
different this morning. Instead of going straight to the room where she
worked, she waited. She seemed not to know what to do. Once she went
over to Maxwell’s table, near enough for him to see that she was there.
The machine sitting at that table was no longer a man. It was a busy New
“What is it? Anything?” asked Maxwell shortly. Papers lay like snow
covering his table. His gray eyes looked at her as if she were another
“Nothing,” answered the secretary, moving away with a little smile.
“Mr. Pitcher,” she said, “did Mr. Maxwell talk to you yesterday about
getting another secretary?”
“He did,” Pitcher answered. “He told me to get another one. Several are
coming to talk to us this morning. But it’s now after nine and not one
“I will do the work as usual,” said the young lady, “until someone comes
to fill the place.” And she went to her table. She took off the black
hat with the gold-green bird wing and put it away as usual.
If you have never seen a busy New York broker on a busy day, you know
little about men at work. Every minute of a broker’s hour is crowded.
And this day was Harvey Maxwell’s busy day.
Beside his table stood a machine. From this came a long, narrow, endless
piece of paper, bringing him business news as soon as it happened.
Men began to come into the office and speak to him. Some were happy,
some were not, some were in a hurry, some were full of anger.
Boys ran in and out with letters for him to read and answer at once.
Pitcher’s face now showed that he was alive. The other men who worked in
the office jumped around like sailors during a storm.
And there were storms in the business world, fearful storms. Every storm
was felt in the broker’s office.
Maxwell moved his chair against the wall. Now he was like a dancer. He
jumped from the machine to his table to the door and back again.
In the middle of all this, he slowly realized that something had come
near him. There was golden hair; there was a very large amount of it,
high on a head. On top of the hair was a big hat covered with birds’
wings. There was a long silver chain, hanging from a neck until it
nearly touched the floor. And among all these things there was a young
Pitcher was beside her to explain.
“Lady for that job as secretary,” said Pitcher.
Maxwell turned half around, with his hands full of letters and paper
from the machine.
“What job?” he asked.
“Job of secretary,” Pitcher said again. “You told me yesterday to have
someone sent here this morning.”
“You are losing your mind, Pitcher,” said Maxwell. “Why should I tell
you anything like that? Miss Leslie is a perfect secretary. She can keep
the job as long as she wants it.” To the young lady he said, “There is
no job here.” And to Pitcher he added this order: “Tell them not to send
any more. And don’t bring any more in here to see me.”
The silver chain left the office, hitting against chairs and tables with
anger, as it went. Pitcher said to another man in the office that
Maxwell was more forgetful every day.
The rush of business grew wilder and faster. Maxwell was working like
some fine, strong machine. He was working as fast as he could. He never
had to stop to think. He was never wrong. He was always ready to decide
and to act. He worked as a clock works. This was the world of business.
It was not a human world, or the world of nature.
When the dinner hour was near, things grew quieter.
Maxwell stood by his table with his hands full of papers and his hair
hanging over his face. His window was open, for it was the time of year
when the weather was beginning to turn warm.
And through the window came a soft sweet smell of flowers. For a moment
the broker was held there, without moving. For this smell of flowers
belonged to Miss Leslie. It was hers and hers only.
The smell seemed almost to make her stand there before him. The world of
business grew smaller and smaller. And she was in the next room—twenty
“I’ll do it now,” said Maxwell, half aloud. “I’ll ask her now. I won-
der why I didn’t do it long ago.”
He rushed into the other room. He stopped beside the secretary.
She looked up at him with a smile. Warm color came into her face, and
her eyes were soft and kind.
Maxwell’s hands were still full of papers. “Miss Leslie,” he began
quickly, “I have only a moment. I want to say something in that moment.
Will you be my wife? I haven’t had time to make love to you in the usual
way. But I really do love you. Talk quick, please. I have to get back to
“Oh, what are you talking about?” cried the young lady. She rose to her
feet and looked at him, round-eyed.
“Don’t you understand?” said Maxwell. “I want you to marry me. I love
you, Miss Leslie. I wanted to tell you. So I took this moment when I
wasn’t too busy. But they’re calling me now. Tell them to wait a minute,
Pitcher. Won’t you, Miss Leslie?”
The secretary acted very strangely. At first she seemed lost in surprise.
Then tears began to run from her wondering eyes. And then she smiled
through her tears, and one of her arms went around the broker’s neck.
“I know now,” she said, softly. “It’s this business. It has put every-thing
else out of your head. I was afraid at first. Don’t you remember,
Harvey? We were married last evening at eight, in the Little Church
around the Corner.”