en-fr  The Romanace of a Busy Broker by O. Henry
Le roman d'amour d'un courtier surmené par O. Henry (Les Quatre Millions).
Pitcher, homme de confiance au bureau de Harvey Maxwell, courtier en bourse, autorisa une expression moyennement intéressée et surprise à parcourir son visage habituellement inexpressif quand son employeur entra brusquement à neuf heures et demie en compagnie de sa jeune dactylo. En lançant un énergique "Bonjour Pitcher", Maxwell se précipita à son bureau comme s'il voulait sauter par dessus, puis s'immergea dans l'amas de lettres et de télégrammes qui l'attendaient là.

La jeune dame était la dactylo particulière de Maxwell depuis un an. Elle était d'une beauté décidément "non sténographique". Elle n'affichait pas l'apparat de l'aguichante Pompadour. Elle ne portait ni chaines, ni bracelets, ni médaillons. Elle n'avait pas l'air d'être sur le point d'accepter une invitation à déjeuner. Elle portait une stricte robe grise qui s'adaptait fidèlement et discrètement à sa silhouette. Sur son strict bonnet turban noir était fixée l'aile verte et mordorée d'un perroquet. Ce matin-là, elle était tendrement et timidement radieuse. Son regard était rêveusement brillant, elle avait un authentique teint de pêche, une expression heureuse, empreinte de nostalgie.

Pitcher, toujours à demi curieux, remarqua ce matin-là une différence dans son comportement. Au lieu de se rendre directement dans la pièce voisine, où se trouvait son bureau, elle s'attarda, l'air légèrement indécis, dans le bureau de réception. A un certain moment, elle s'approcha du bureau de Maxwell, assez près pour qu'il s'aperçoive de sa présence.

La machine assise devant ce bureau n'était plus un humain; c'était un courtier new-yorkais très affairé, mû par des roues vrombissantes et des ressorts en spirale.

— Eh bien, qu'est-ce qu'il y a? Quelque chose? demanda sèchement Maxwell. Son courrier ouvert gisait comme une couche de neige sur son bureau encombré. A demi-impatient, il braqua sur elle son œil gris perçant, impersonnel et bourru.

— Rien, répondit la dactylo, en s'éloignant avec un petit sourire.

— M. Pitcher, dit-elle à l'homme de confiance, M. Maxwell a-t-il évoqué hier l'embauche d'une autre dactylo?

— Oui, répondit Pitcher. Il m'a dit d'en trouver une autre. J'ai averti hier après-midi l'agence d'envoyer quelques échantillons ce matin. Il est 9 heures quarante cinq et aucun chapeau bariolé ni aucun chewing-gum à l'ananas ne se sont encore montrés.

— Je ferai donc le travail comme d'habitude, dit la jeune femme, jusqu'à ce que quelqu'un vienne occuper le poste. Et elle s'en alla immédiatement à son bureau et suspendit le bonnet turban noir orné d'une aile vert-mordoré de perroquet à sa place habituelle.

Celui qui n'a pas pu assister au spectacle d'un courtier de Manhattan surchargé de travail durant un afflux d'affaires est handicapé pour la profession d'anthropologue. Le poète chante "l'heure de gloire bien remplie". Non seulement l'heure du courtier en bourse est bien remplie, mais les minutes et les secondes s'accrochent à toutes les poignées et s'entassent à la fois sur les plate-formes avant et arrière.

Et cette journée-là était la grosse journée de Harvey Maxwell. Le téléscripteur commença à dérouler spasmodiquement ses bobines de ruban convulsives, le téléphone eut une attaque chronique de bourdonnement. Des messieurs commencèrent à prendre d'assaut le bureau et l'interpeller par dessus la grille, joyeusement, sèchement, méchamment, avec excitation. De jeune coursiers entraient et sortaient en courant avec des messages et des télégrammes. Les employés du bureau sautaient partout comme des marins dans la tempête. Même le visage de Pitcher laissait transparaître une certaine animation.

A la bourse, il y avait des ouragans, des raz-de-marée, des tempêtes de neige, des glaciers et des volcans et ces perturbations atmosphériques se reproduisaient en miniature dans les bureaux des courtiers. Maxwell poussa sa chaise contre le mur et fit des transactions à la manière d'une danseuse. Il sautait du téléscripteur au téléphone, du bureau à la porte, avec l'agilité exercée d'un arlequin.

Au cœur de cette importante et croissante tension, le courtier prit soudain conscience d'une chevelure d'or flamboyante sous un auvent oscillant de velours et de plumes d'autruche, une petite veste en imitation de peau de phoque et un collier de perles aussi grosses que des noix, terminé près du plancher par un cœur d'argent. Une jeune dame très maître d'elle-même était connectée à ces accessoires; et Pitcher était là pour la présenter.

— C’est la dame de l’agence de secrétariat qui vient pour le poste, dit Pitcher.

Maxwell se retourna à moitié les mains pleines de documents et de bandes de téléscripteur.

— Quel poste? Demanda t’il en fronçant les sourcils.

— Le poste de dactylo, dit Pitcher. Vous m’avez demandé hier de les appeler et de nous en envoyer une ce matin.

— Vous perdez la tête, Pitcher, dit Maxwell. — Pourquoi vous aurez-je donné de telles instructions? Miss Leslie donne entière satisfaction depuis un an qu’elle est là. Ce poste est le sien tant qu’elle voudra le garder. Il n’y a aucun poste disponible ici, Madame. Envoyez un contre ordre à l’agence, Pitcher et ne m’amenez plus personne désormais.

Le cœur d’argent quitta le bureau, se balançant et se cognant librement contre le mobilier de bureau comme s’il s’éloignait avec indignation. Pitcher saisit une occasion pour faire remarquer au comptable que "le vieux" semblait devenir de plus en plus distrait et étourdi de jour en jour.

La course et le rythme des affaires devinrent encore plus acharnés. Sur le sol s'entassaient une demie douzaine d'actions pour lesquelles les clients de Maxwell étaient de gros investisseurs. Les ordres d'achat et de vente allaient et venaient aussi vifs que des vols d'hirondelles. Certains de ses propres actifs étaient en péril et l'homme travaillait comme une machine puissante, délicate et bien articulée - tendue au maximum, tournant à pleine vitesse, précise, jamais hésitante, avec le mot , la décision et l'action adaptés et la promptitude d'un mécanisme d'horlogerie. Actions et obligations, prêts et hypothèques, marges et titres - c'était un monde de finance et il n'y avait là aucune place pour le monde de l'humain ou de la nature.

Quand l'heure du déjeuner approcha, il y eut une légère accalmie dans le vacarme.

Maxwell se mit debout près de son bureau, les mains pleines de télégrammes et de memorandums, un stylo plume sur l'oreille droite et les cheveux pendant en cordes hirsutes sur le front. Sa fenêtre était ouverte, car le printemps, concierge adoré, avait envoyé un peu de chaleur à travers les grilles de ventilation de la terre.

Et, par la fenêtre, pénétra une senteur errante - peut-être perdue - une délicate et douce odeur de lilas qui figea le courtier pendant un instant immuable. Car ce parfum était celui de Miss Leslie; c'était le sien et le sien propre.

Le parfum l'amena vivement devant lui, presque tangiblement. Le monde de la finance se réduisit soudain à une poussière. Et elle était dans la pièce voisine - à vingt pas de là.

— Par Saint Georges, je vais le faire maintenant, dit Maxwell, à mi-voix. Je vais lui demander maintenant. Je me demande pourquoi je ne l'ai pas fait depuis longtemps.

Il se rua dans le bureau voisin avec la hâte d'un vendeur à découvert tentant de se couvrir. Il se précipita sur le bureau de la secrétaire.

Elle le regarda en souriant. Un rose léger lui montait aux joues et son regard était gentil et franc. Maxwell posa un coude sur son bureau. Le stylo sur l’oreille, il serrait toujours dans ses mains des documents palpitants.

— Mlle Leslie, commença-t-il précipitamment, je n’ai qu’un instant de libre. Je veux en profiter pour vous dire quelque chose. Voulez-vous m’épouser? Je n’ai pas eu le temps de vous faire la cour de la façon habituelle, mais je vous aime vraiment. Parlez vite, s’il vous plaît - ces types sont en train de s’organiser pour anéantir l’Union Pacific.

— Oh, de quoi parlez-vous ? s’exclama la jeune dame. Elle se leva et le fixa, les yeux ronds.

— Vous ne comprenez pas? s’impatienta Maxwell. — je veux que vous m’épousiez. Je vous aime Mlle Leslie. Je voulais vous le dire et j’ai profité d’une minute d’accalmie. On m’appelle au téléphone maintenant. Dites-leur d’attendre une minute, Pitcher. Acceptez-vous, Mlle Leslie?

La secrétaire réagit très bizarrement. Tout d’abord elle sembla accablée de stupeur, puis des larmes coulèrent de ses yeux étonnés; enfin elle sourit radieusement à travers ses pleurs et elle glissa tendrement un de ses bras autour du cou du courtier.

— Je sais maintenant, dit-elle doucement. Ce sont ces maudites affaires qui t'empêchent de te rappeler tes actes. J'ai d'abord eu peur. Tu ne te souviens pas, Harvey? On s'est mariés hier soir à 8 heures dans la petite église au coin de la rue.
unit 1
The Romance of a Busy Broker by O. Henry (The Four Million).
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The young lady had been Maxwell's stenographer for a year.
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She was beautiful in a way that was decidedly unstenographic.
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She forewent the pomp of the alluring pompadour.
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She wore no chains, bracelets or lockets.
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She had not the air of being about to accept an invitation to luncheon.
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Her dress was grey and plain, but it fitted her figure with fidelity and discretion.
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In her neat black turban hat was the gold-green wing of a macaw.
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On this morning she was softly and shyly radiant.
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Pitcher, still mildly curious, noticed a difference in her ways this morning.
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"Well—what is it?
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Anything?"
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asked Maxwell sharply.
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His opened mail lay like a bank of stage snow on his crowded desk.
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His keen grey eye, impersonal and brusque, flashed upon her half impatiently.
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"Nothing," answered the stenographer, moving away with a little smile.
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"He did," answered Pitcher.
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"He told me to get another one.
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I notified the agency yesterday afternoon to send over a few samples this morning.
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The poet sings of the "crowded hour of glorious life."
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And this day was Harvey Maxwell's busy day.
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Messenger boys ran in and out with messages and telegrams.
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The clerks in the office jumped about like sailors during a storm.
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Even Pitcher's face relaxed into something resembling animation.
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"Lady from the Stenographer's Agency to see about the position," said Pitcher.
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Maxwell turned half around, with his hands full of papers and ticker tape.
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"What position?"
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he asked, with a frown.
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"Position of stenographer," said Pitcher.
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"You told me yesterday to call them up and have one sent over this morning."
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"You are losing your mind, Pitcher," said Maxwell.
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"Why should I have given you any such instructions?
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Miss Leslie has given perfect satisfaction during the year she has been here.
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The place is hers as long as she chooses to retain it.
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There's no place open here, madam.
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Countermand that order with the agency, Pitcher, and don't bring any more of 'em in here."
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The rush and pace of business grew fiercer and faster.
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Orders to buy and sell were coming and going as swift as the flight of swallows.
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When the luncheon hour drew near there came a slight lull in the uproar.
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For this odour belonged to Miss Leslie; it was her own, and hers only.
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The odour brought her vividly, almost tangibly before him.
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The world of finance dwindled suddenly to a speck.
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And she was in the next room—twenty steps away.
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"By George, I'll do it now," said Maxwell, half aloud.
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"I'll ask her now.
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I wonder I didn't do it long ago."
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He dashed into the inner office with the haste of a short trying to cover.
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He charged upon the desk of the stenographer.
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She looked up at him with a smile.
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A soft pink crept over her cheek, and her eyes were kind and frank.
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Maxwell leaned one elbow on her desk.
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He still clutched fluttering papers with both hands and the pen was above his ear.
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"Miss Leslie," he began hurriedly, "I have but a moment to spare.
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I want to say something in that moment.
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Will you be my wife?
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I haven't had time to make love to you in the ordinary way, but I really do love you.
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Talk quick, please—those fellows are clubbing the stuffing out of Union Pacific."
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"Oh, what are you talking about?"
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exclaimed the young lady.
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She rose to her feet and gazed upon him, round-eyed.
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"Don't you understand?"
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said Maxwell, restively.
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"I want you to marry me.
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I love you, Miss Leslie.
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I wanted to tell you, and I snatched a minute when things had slackened up a bit.
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They're calling me for the 'phone now.
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Tell 'em to wait a minute, Pitcher.
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Won't you, Miss Leslie?"
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The stenographer acted very queerly.
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"I know now," she said, softly.
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I was frightened at first.
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Don't you remember, Harvey?
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We were married last evening at 8 o'clock in the Little Church Around the Corner."
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The Romance of a Busy Broker by O. Henry (The Four Million).
Pitcher, confidential clerk in the office of Harvey Maxwell, broker, allowed a look of mild interest and surprise to visit his usually expressionless countenance when his employer briskly entered at half past nine in company with his young lady stenographer. With a snappy "Good-morning, Pitcher," Maxwell dashed at his desk as though he were intending to leap over it, and then plunged into the great heap of letters and telegrams waiting there for him.

The young lady had been Maxwell's stenographer for a year. She was beautiful in a way that was decidedly unstenographic. She forewent the pomp of the alluring pompadour. She wore no chains, bracelets or lockets. She had not the air of being about to accept an invitation to luncheon. Her dress was grey and plain, but it fitted her figure with fidelity and discretion. In her neat black turban hat was the gold-green wing of a macaw. On this morning she was softly and shyly radiant. Her eyes were dreamily bright, her cheeks genuine peachblow, her expression a happy one, tinged with reminiscence.

Pitcher, still mildly curious, noticed a difference in her ways this morning. Instead of going straight into the adjoining room, where her desk was, she lingered, slightly irresolute, in the outer office. Once she moved over by Maxwell's desk, near enough for him to be aware of her presence.

The machine sitting at that desk was no longer a man; it was a busy New York broker, moved by buzzing wheels and uncoiling springs.

"Well—what is it? Anything?" asked Maxwell sharply. His opened mail lay like a bank of stage snow on his crowded desk. His keen grey eye, impersonal and brusque, flashed upon her half impatiently.

"Nothing," answered the stenographer, moving away with a little smile.

"Mr. Pitcher," she said to the confidential clerk, did Mr. Maxwell say anything yesterday about engaging another stenographer?"

"He did," answered Pitcher. "He told me to get another one. I notified the agency yesterday afternoon to send over a few samples this morning. It's 9.45 o'clock, and not a single picture hat or piece of pineapple chewing gum has showed up yet."

"I will do the work as usual, then," said the young lady, "until some one comes to fill the place." And she went to her desk at once and hung the black turban hat with the gold-green macaw wing in its accustomed place.

He who has been denied the spectacle of a busy Manhattan broker during a rush of business is handicapped for the profession of anthropology. The poet sings of the "crowded hour of glorious life." The broker's hour is not only crowded, but the minutes and seconds are hanging to all the straps and packing both front and rear platforms.

And this day was Harvey Maxwell's busy day. The ticker began to reel out jerkily its fitful coils of tape, the desk telephone had a chronic attack of buzzing. Men began to throng into the office and call at him over the railing, jovially, sharply, viciously, excitedly. Messenger boys ran in and out with messages and telegrams. The clerks in the office jumped about like sailors during a storm. Even Pitcher's face relaxed into something resembling animation.

On the Exchange there were hurricanes and landslides and snowstorms and glaciers and volcanoes, and those elemental disturbances were reproduced in miniature in the broker's offices. Maxwell shoved his chair against the wall and transacted business after the manner of a toe dancer. He jumped from ticker to 'phone, from desk to door with the trained agility of a harlequin.

In the midst of this growing and important stress the broker became suddenly aware of a high-rolled fringe of golden hair under a nodding canopy of velvet and ostrich tips, an imitation sealskin sacque and a string of beads as large as hickory nuts, ending near the floor with a silver heart. There was a self-possessed young lady connected with these accessories; and Pitcher was there to construe her.

"Lady from the Stenographer's Agency to see about the position," said Pitcher.

Maxwell turned half around, with his hands full of papers and ticker tape.

"What position?" he asked, with a frown.

"Position of stenographer," said Pitcher. "You told me yesterday to call them up and have one sent over this morning."

"You are losing your mind, Pitcher," said Maxwell. "Why should I have given you any such instructions? Miss Leslie has given perfect satisfaction during the year she has been here. The place is hers as long as she chooses to retain it. There's no place open here, madam. Countermand that order with the agency, Pitcher, and don't bring any more of 'em in here."

The silver heart left the office, swinging and banging itself independently against the office furniture as it indignantly departed. Pitcher seized a moment to remark to the bookkeeper that the "old man" seemed to get more absent-minded and forgetful every day of the world.

The rush and pace of business grew fiercer and faster. On the floor they were pounding half a dozen stocks in which Maxwell's customers were heavy investors. Orders to buy and sell were coming and going as swift as the flight of swallows. Some of his own holdings were imperilled, and the man was working like some high-geared, delicate, strong machine—strung to full tension, going at full speed, accurate, never hesitating, with the proper word and decision and act ready and prompt as clockwork. Stocks and bonds, loans and mortgages, margins and securities—here was a world of finance, and there was no room in it for the human world or the world of nature.

When the luncheon hour drew near there came a slight lull in the uproar.

Maxwell stood by his desk with his hands full of telegrams and memoranda, with a fountain pen over his right ear and his hair hanging in disorderly strings over his forehead. His window was open, for the beloved janitress Spring had turned on a little warmth through the waking registers of the earth.

And through the window came a wandering—perhaps a lost—odour—a delicate, sweet odour of lilac that fixed the broker for a moment immovable. For this odour belonged to Miss Leslie; it was her own, and hers only.

The odour brought her vividly, almost tangibly before him. The world of finance dwindled suddenly to a speck. And she was in the next room—twenty steps away.

"By George, I'll do it now," said Maxwell, half aloud. "I'll ask her now. I wonder I didn't do it long ago."

He dashed into the inner office with the haste of a short trying to cover. He charged upon the desk of the stenographer.

She looked up at him with a smile. A soft pink crept over her cheek, and her eyes were kind and frank. Maxwell leaned one elbow on her desk. He still clutched fluttering papers with both hands and the pen was above his ear.

"Miss Leslie," he began hurriedly, "I have but a moment to spare. 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 ordinary way, but I really do love you. Talk quick, please—those fellows are clubbing the stuffing out of Union Pacific."

"Oh, what are you talking about?" exclaimed the young lady. She rose to her feet and gazed upon him, round-eyed.

"Don't you understand?" said Maxwell, restively. "I want you to marry me. I love you, Miss Leslie. I wanted to tell you, and I snatched a minute when things had slackened up a bit. They're calling me for the 'phone now. Tell 'em to wait a minute, Pitcher. Won't you, Miss Leslie?"

The stenographer acted very queerly. At first she seemed overcome with amazement; then tears flowed from her wondering eyes; and then she smiled sunnily through them, and one of her arms slid tenderly about the broker's neck.

"I know now," she said, softly. "It's this old business that has driven everything else out of your head for the time. I was frightened at first. Don't you remember, Harvey? We were married last evening at 8 o'clock in the Little Church Around the Corner."