The Daily Transcript (Norman, Okla.), Vol. 2, No. 131, Ed. 1 Tuesday, November 17, 1914 Page: 2 of 4
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NORMAN DAILY TRANSCRIPT
The Ambition of Mark Traitt
HENRY RUSSELL MILLER
"THE MAN HIGHER IJP." "HIS UISIE
TO POWEK." Etc.
(Copyright, 1913, by The Bobbt-Merrill Company)
He became conscious of Simon's cu
rlous gaze and turned sharply on him.
"Old man, you aeem to know a sur
prising lot about making steel. Look
down the valley—there, on those hills
Co you see anything that isn't there?1
Simon looked and nodded. "I've
be n seeln' It more'n forty years.'
Henley stared. "Humph! An epi-
demic. There's magic In these hill
His thoughtful glance swept them
once more. "But d d alluring
The gentle, sometimes plaintive
voice of the preacher had no power
to distract from thought. His wistful
message could not reach the man for
■whom It had been prepared In the
hope that It would come to him with
healing in Its wings.
The benediction had been said.
Mark went quietly from his rear pew
out of the church and limped slowly
•iloug the dusty, weed-flanked pike un
til he came to a minor crest. There
he dropped on the roadside and turned
his eyes to the valley.
The murmurous quiet of noonday
■was about him.
Up the rise, village bound, creaked
* battered old top-buggy, bearing a
passenger whose grizzled beard and
lined face, too, showed the marks of
The buggy drew up beside him.
"Did he find you?"
The doctor chuckled. "Guess he
didn't, or you wouldn't have to ask.
He's a vigorous party that doesn't
understand the Joy of talk. I took him
from Number Four to your place."
"Short and stout—"
"And not much for looks," Hedges
concluded the portrait. "That's him.
Has a way with him, though. And the
habit of taking what he wants, 1 guess,
"Sunday traffic," the doctor drawled,
"is getting pretty heavy. Number
Four brought a woman, too. Expect
Ing any baggage of that kind?"
Mark shook his head absently.
'No? That's too bad. She's a new
kind for Bethel—a right pleasant kind
too, though I'm not sure how our
women'd take her." The doctor
grunted Henley, still a
"There's Maglo In These Hills."
grinned, but his pleasantry won no
answering Bmlle from Mark. "Well. 1
must be moseying along. Better ride
Into town. The vigorous party'l! be
near to apoplexy by now. waiting for
Mark got in and the buggy resumed
Its creaking Journey. The doctor
"A good many new sortB come to
Bethel nowadays. Good thing for us.
too—gives us a peep into the world.
We've you to thank for that. I came
across a queer one yesterday. 1 was
up on the Hill—I go there sometimes
even since the Are. I found him
camped out in the old tool shed—about
the only thing the Are missed. He'B
a half-Btarved little rat, with a strag-
gly brown beard and a club foot. I
R«ked him how he got there and he
didn't seem to know. Said he'd Just
walked and walked and walked till he
found the shed. I wanted to bring
bim back to town, but he wouldn't
coine. His mind's more than half gone,
1 should Judge. You'd better send
«ome one out to look after him."
"And he says," the doctor concluded
tils" heralding of fate, "his name is Pe-
Henley was pleased to be facetious.
"The great Utopian—in his modest
eottage— living in democratic simplic-
ity among his village neighbors. Very
pretty! I suppose you do the chores,
"Sometimes—what we have."
"Very pretty! The Sunday papers
would like that. But It's a little too
theatrical, don't you think?"
"Not conspicuously so. The place
was here, and it served my purpose
very well. I don't need much room
you know. I'm not a Wall street
"What," Mark asked, "did you come
Henley grunted again. "Cordial,
must say! I came to restore your
sanity." He rose, mopping his red
face with a silk handkerchief. "Take
me out of this sun and I'll begin,
hear you're pretty far gone."
Mark led him Into a cool office-like
room — pleasant enough—and made
him comfortable with a cigar and a
chair by a window from which a view
of the valley was to be bad.
"Not sybaritic," Henley grudgingly
admitted, "but good enough for a man
—who has no women. Now tell me
what you re trying to do here.
And Mark began, simply, without
enthusiasm or sentimentalizing, to set
forth his idea
The explanation came to an end
Mark awaited his auditor's comment,
"Of course, you know," Henley said
with an easiness that was outward
only, "you won't put It through."
"I do not know that," Mark an
swered quietly. "This valley Is well
situated with respect to the market.
Its transportation facilities are good
Our fuel Is here, and I can get ore
here cheaper than Qulnby or Mac-
Gregor. 1 can make steel cheaper
than anybody in America, and there's
no plant of its size that can equal
mine In capacity. In ten years, with
a fair Held—"
"With a fair field. Exactly!"
"You mean I won't have It?"
"You won't have It."
"For one thing—profits."
"I'll make money here."
"It Isn't a question of your profits
nor of profits alone, but the size of
profits. No," Henley shook his head
vigorously, "you can't have It. I'm
here to tell you that."
"I have no objection to your safety
appliances. They're practical. They'll
save twice their coat in damages ev-
"I'll agree to the baths. If the men
want to clean up after work—why, I
regard bathing as a very proper
Mark smiled. "The man will be
"I'm not Joking," Henley reminded
him sternly. "I'll go as far as to
agree to their eight-hour shift—as an
experiment. I'd like to see it tried
"Your company stores, company gar-
dens and company homes are well
enough. They can be made profitable
—properly handled. But your profit-
sharing plan Is all wrong and"—Hen-
ley leaned forward and rapped on the
arm of his chair to emphasize each
word—"and you can't have It. I
wouldn't care if you gave them only
a nominal share. It would be useful
at first—to get good men up here. Aft-
erward you could cut it out. But why,
in God's name, give them half?"
"Because I'll need the other half for
some things I'm planning."
"I'm not Joking," Henley repeated.
"Why give them half?"
"Oh, that's an approximation. It
seems to me a pretty fair division of
the spoils. 1 don't Insist on its accu-
racy. However, that's not the point."
Mark straightened up In his seat by
the desk, facing Henley squarely.
"Have you forgotten that my money
and mine only is invested In this
plant? 1 can quote good authority,
yourself, that a man ought to be al-
lowed to run his own business to suit
"As long as he hurts no one else."
Mark smiled again at that. "You
said you weren't Joking. I suppose
you aren't. That's the Joke of it. How-
ever, the point is, you forbid me to
conduct my own business in my own
way. And your authority?"
"The power," answered Henley qui-
etly, "to smash you—and the will
We've got labor where we want It in
this business and we propose to keep
it there. What you propose would be
a dangerous precedent. If we let you
succeed, we'd have the men all over
the country yammering for the same
freak conditions. Therefore, wo won't
let you succeed."
"I see. And you?"
"I? I made you—have you forgot-
ten that?—and I'm responsible for you.
I helped to put labor where it is, at
some risk to myself, and I don't pro-
pose to have a man of my own mak-
ing undo the biggest thing I've ever
done. Therefore, I won't let you suc-
You are quite sure you can do It—
"Truitt, every steel company in the
country will make It its business to
put you out."
"And you won't stand as'de and let
me fight it out with the rest of them?"
"No." Henley seemed astonished at
the question. "Certainly not. What
did you expect?"
"I had hoped," Maik answered
slowly, "that you'd stay out ol It. I
realize I had no reason to hope that.
Henley stirred restlessly, turned to
look out upon the valley, upon the city
that had not yet arlseu. An uneasy
qualm moved his heart, continued with
a sharpness that was almost akin to
pain. He found himself resisting an
absurd, an Incredible Impulse—a ten
derness such as he had used to know,
stealthily and unadmlttedly, for
young half Invalid with the habit of
triumphing where robust men fell,
multiplied now for this man.
"Truitt, I—" Henley stopped, an
embarrassment as unwonted as the
Impulse upon him, and turned again
to the window.
"Truitt," he began again, very
gruffly, eyes still fixed on the city the
magic of the hills revealed to him, "I—
well, I like you. I've always counted
you my friend. I don't want to have
to fight you. I don't think you want
to fight me. There is—there may be
another alternative." He turned to
face Mark. "Take me In with you."
Mark looked his astonishment.
"I say," Henley went on. "I might
do It. I've seen something this morn-
ing—something you've been seeing.
The city out there. It's big—big!
And if the figures you've given me
are correct, it's possible. This place
was Intended for a city. And with ub
working together, it could be ten times
He got to his feet, and shooting up
the shade, stood looking thoughtfully
out of the window.
"We'd make it," Henley seemed al-
most to be thinking aloud, "a city
from theheglnnlng. We'd get the gov-
ernment to make the river navigable
to the mouth and ship our coal by boat
to the gulf. I can think of a dozen
concerns I could get to move their
plants here and contractors who'd un-
dertake to house the people. In five
years we'd have fifty thousand here,
and coming as fast as we could put
roofs over them. But we'd build on
steel. We'd quadruple your plant at
once—for a start. We'd make this the
steel center and this overgrown trust
with Its graft and favoritism and slip-
shod methods would have us to reckon
with. We'd leave Qulnby and that
Scotch bagpipe, grown fat on other
men's brains, in the shade. By God!"
Henley's voice was ringing, as he
wheeled on Mark again. "It would
be the big thing of the century—mak-
ing a city to order. And I guess for
that you'd be willing to give up your
little two-by-four paternalism."
"That would be stipulated?"
"Certainly! We'll —" Henley
seemed unconscious of the change of
mood and tense. "We'll leave fads to
the cranks. We'll build this city on
a rock—on a sound financial founda-
tion—and use the profits for exten-
"I think you don't understand what
You came close to being one of them
Why, once when Quinby cracked his
whip you — you — cringed like
whipped dog before the old blather
Rkite because you loved your money
You remember that, don't you? And
then you ran afoul of him again, over
the strike, when the same threat hung
over you, and you didn't cringe. You
beat blm down. Why?"
"I couldn't let—"
"No, you couldn't. You believed op-
posing him would cost you much. The
strike you forced did take hundreds of
thousands from the value of your
stock. But you didn't think of that
then. And now—you've claimed my
friendship. How much does It mean
"A good deal, Truitt," Henley an
swered slowly. "It's the only friend-
ship I ever wanted. It was my reason
for making you what you are."
"Friendship means obligation
you've Just reminded me of that.
Would It add to your obligation If I
told you that you got away whole
from Quinby because of me?"
"What! What's this? You never
"It wasn't I who did It but—a wom-
an." Henley saw the shadow again.
"Understand? Of course I under-
stand. That s why the idea grips.
You're a born battler; things were
coming too easy for you. You need
obstacles, to have to extend yourself.
need that. I've got a hold in Wall
street. I can tighten my hold. But
'm out of place there. I'm a builder,
not a money-grubber. I've got to Bee
things growing under my hand. What
I'm at now is Just a game. This would
be a work, the kind I need. Will you
"Are you offering it?"
"I'm offering it as a possible alter-
native to putting you out of business.
There may be magic in these hills,
but if the thing works out on etudy
as I believe now it will, I'll do It. What
do you say?"
"And you say," Mark Insisted, "it's
tile only possible alternative to fight-
"To being," Henley corrected grimly,
"put out of business."
It was Mark's turn to go to the win-
dow. He stood there silent, for many
minutes, looking not upon the city
that might be but upon the little vil-
lage that was.
"What do you say?" Henley demand-
"It doesn't tempt." Mark faced him
steadily. "You were mistaken. I
don't want battle. I don't want ob-
stacles. But I do want to put that
through." He nodded toward the vil-
lage and the mills.
"Humph! You'll find plenty of ob-
stacles and battles over there."
"Yes. But there would be—com-
"I would give you compensations.
Do you mean," Henley demanded, "you
choose to hobble along with a little
one-horse plant and philanthropy
when you might go with me into some-
thing really big? Compensations!
You'll end in losing all you have."
"All the money I have," Mark cor-
rected. "That Is possible. But I'm
not worrying about the poor farm. 1
expect, when that happens, I can find
a good Job somewhere."
"Then," Henley fired his last gun,
gruffly, "then you choose those people
over there against me—who made
"They helped to make me—to make
you, too.—You," Mark answered qui-
etly, "don't tempt.
"I'd like you ta understand," he con-
tinued after a little pause, "since
you've mentioned friendship, I don't
like to think of you as an enemy. But
this plan, this idea. Is worth a good
deal to me, even though the chance of
success is small. It came to me be-
fore the strike. And at first it was
only the shallow sentimentality you
think it. Then It became a refuge. 1
came here because there was a
thing"—Henley saw the shadow that
passed over his face—"a thing I want-
ed to forget, something I needed to
earn. But now It's grown befonti that.
It has a value of its own. It's my
niche, the thing I muBt do. You've
helped me to make that clear.
"You ought to understand it, for you
had it. It's what saved you from be-
ing like <he other money grubbers.
"I'm Offering It as a Possible Alterna-
tive to Putting You Out of Busi
"But she did It for me. I took for you
an advantage I wouldn't -take for my-
self. Does that square what you did
"Yes. I don't understand. But It
does. It more than squares it."
"Then—my success here can't hurt
you—will you stand aside and let me
fight it out with the others?"
"You're asking me to let you undo
the best thing I've ever done!"
There was a long silence in the little
room. Henley sat stiffly, staring at
the man who had passed out of reach
of his influence. And the pain was
"I see," he said at last, as if reluc-
tantly. "I guess I'm the only one of
the money grubbers who could under-
stand. It seems te be your idea
against mine. I'm sorry."
"It seems so. I'm sorry, too."
"My city—I guess it was Just the
magic of the hills, after all. I don't
want to i i without you—I'm Borry."
There was a heavy pause. Then
Henley drew a long breath that was
almost a sigh, glanced at the clock
"I'll take another cigar," he said,
grimly facetious, "if you don't mind
giving aid and comfort to the enemy.
Then I'll go back to my money grub-
When they were standing on the
station platform he asked abruptly,
"Can you tell me about that woman
"I'd rather not."
Henley scrutinized him keenly.
From around a curve came the cres-
cendo whistle of the approaching
"You'd better," he said as he stopped
for his grip, "get her up here. You'll
need her. And when you're down and
out, come to me and I'll give you a
Mark watched the train, regretfully,
until it was caught out of his sight
Then he let his gaze dwell llngeringlv
on the mills and village across the
river. A wave of protectiveness swept
over him, of tenderness as for a deeply
And quick upon that wave, ere it
ebbed, surged another, as though un-
der the shock of the first contact with
opposition a dam had fallen, loosing a
torrent that flooded his soul, lifting
him high, filling his need. Conscious-
ness, distinct, definite, thrilling, filled
him—of a new power and mettle, of
the vitality of his purpose, of an ulti-
mate purpose into which his fitted. A
weight fell like the pilgrim's pack
from his shoulders. His spirit stood
erect, steady. He lifted his eyes to
"I can put it through. I will. . . .
I have faith."
room to heaven. There had even been
a period in that far-off, Innocent girl-
hood when she had thought of it as
a beautiful restful haven, to which,
some day when he should have tired
of the greedy city and Its grind, her
lover might bring; her. Always, it
seemed, she had needed and wanted a
haven. If only he had brought her
then, what might have been saved!
"What might have been saved! But
I mustn't think of that."
From down a narrow lane she caught
a glimpse of the river, smiling in the
sunlight. It beckoned to her and she
obeyed, turning her steps upstream.
A thick grove of oaks and chestnuts
shut her ofT from the village and she
was alone with the river and forest.
River and forest held many memories
Hours passed. A few fleecy, tum-
bling clouds floated over her. Heavier
and less silvery masseB appeared over
the western horizon. The wind fresh-,
ened. She did not notice. . . . And
suddenly she knew that she was not
She turned and saw him standing
near, staring, bewildered yet Btrangely
eager, toward her. Her lips parted,
her bosom lifted In a sharp Intake of
breath, as their eyes met. Then she
got slowly to her feet, trying to look
away that she might regain a lost-self-
He started toward her, with the pe-
culiar halting step she never could
see without a tender maternal im-
pulse. Scarcely two yards away he
"But I," he stammered, "I don't un-
Self-control was coming back. "I
came to get Plotr."
"To get Plotr," he repeated mechan-
ically. But he did not comprehend.
He passed a hand over his eyes.
The apparition did not fade. Gradu-
ally he realized—with a dazing jumble
of gladnesB and pain and reluctance—
that it was indeed she, in the flesh.
"I can hardly realize it," he said at
last. "I was Just thinking of you.
Often I am thinking of you. A hun-
dred times I've been on the point of
going to see you, to find out—"
"To find out?"
"How badly I hurt you."
"I told you I haven't blamed you."
"But that Isn't true—it can't be
true. It wouldn't be human not to
resent me, what I've brought you. You
do resent, don't you?"
"Why do you press me with what
Is ended? I don't want to think of
it—or to be unjust. I—" She turned
sharply to face him. "Yes, if you
must know it, I do resent."
"You have every right to resent,"
he answered sadly.
She started swiftly along the bank
toward the village. He followed, try-
ing to keep up with her, and with a
real effort managed it. A quarter of a
mile was thus traversed, neither
speaking, she keeping always one pace
ahead so that he could not see her
face. Then she observed his heavy
breathing and slackened her pace.
"I didn't realize I was walking so
fast." Her voice was quiet again.
"I don't mind It." He assayed a
laugh, a poor, mirthless attempt. "I
need a counter-irritant Just now."
"And I didn't mean what I said back
there. I haven't felt that way—often,
at least. I have no resentment against
you—only against myself. It was in
me to keep clean and I deliberately—
it is all so clear now—chose the worst
"That is true of all of us."
"I don't know. I only know It'B true
of me. And so you needn't go on tor-
turing yourself with thoughts of your
used to when he wu a boy. He seemed
to have forgotten all that's happened
since then. And then three days ajo
he awoke. He asked me for some
money—said something about a debt
he had to pay. It was little enough—
and he's had so little of everything,
"So very little."
"Be went out and didn't come back.
And yesterday—I'd seen she was
worrying, but thought it was because
he hadn't appeared again—the Matka.
told me she thought from something:
hed said that he might have come up
here to try to harm you in some way.
Do you know where he is?"
"The doctor here, who told me about
him, said he's camping out in an old
shed over there in the hills."
"If you'll help me to him, or send
"I will go myself."
They had reached the lane that led
to the main street and the hotel. She
would have turned there, but he put
out a hand and stayed her.
'Kazia, was it only on Piotr's ac-
count you came?"
Her glance wavered, sought wist-
fully and sadly the hills across the
valley, came back to his. "You mean,
did 1 think of meeting you again? I
—why should 1 deny it? I wanted to
see your work I had been hearing
about—and you again. But it doesn't
mean I wanted to change anything
Please believe that. And I didn't want
to trouble you—"
"You haven't troubled me."
"Will you please leave me now and
bring Plotr to the hotel? I muBt leave
with him tonight."
When she had passed out of his
sight, he started quickly villageward
At the cottage he harnessed his horse
to a buggy, drove across the bridge
and took the road that led to Hedges'
The woman who alighted with Hen-
ley from the train had come with an
errand. Sundry inquiries from the
station and at the new hotel—so hide-
ously garish amid the gray tones of
its surroundings—convinced her that
she would need Mark Truitt's help.
But she had overheard her fellow pas-
senger's questions to the doctor and
guessed that Mark would be with him
for most of that day.
She stayed in her little hotel room
until dinner time. After that meal,
eaten in a noisy dining-room filled
with still homeless men who had come
to build or work in the Bethel experi-
ment, she went out and wandered
about through the old village, of which
years before, hearing of it from an un-
appreciative young adventurer, she
had UBed to think as a sort of ante-
responsibility. Oh, I don't want you
to do that. It can help neither of us
and It will cripple your work here."
"It Isn't facing the truth that can
hurt, but the truth itself. Kazia, why
did you come here?"
"I told you—to get Plotr."
"Piotr? I had forgotten him. I
heard this morning he was here."
"Then he is here? I asked at the
station and hotel, but no one had seen
or heard of him."
"But why Is he here? And why
have you come?"
"He came back to us a few weeks
ago, the forlornest waif I've ever
seen. I don't know how he had been
living—we'd no trace of him since
Uncle Roman died. He was starving
and his mind was clearly gone. I sup-
pose he wouldn't have come to me
otherwise. I ought to have put him
away somewhere, but he was harm-
less and It seemed so cruel. He Just
sat around poring over books ata he
"I shall know It," he had thought,
"when it comes."
And as he drove there came to him .
the knowledge of Ills miracle. It came
not with the lazy luxuriousness of
youth drifting, ignorant and caring not
for wisdom, toward a mate, nor yet
with the ecstatic feverish excitement
of the passionate man, but with a deep,
solemn, ail-pervading joy. Peace fol-
lowed it—the peace of certitude, for
he knew that in the woman who had
sinned he had found the one who fit-
ted into him as a member into Its
body, completed him. with him formed
the perfect unity—of content, for he
knew that from its infinite preclous-
ness neither trial nor failure, disap-
pointment nor misstep could subtract.
"She must know," he thought. "She
must be made to know—that nothing
else counts—that we are to begin over
He remembered his mission.
There was a rumble of thunder. He
glanced overhead and saw the black
ened sky, heard the rushing wind. A
few scattered drops fell. He urged the
He was miles away from the village
and near the foot of a hill that tow-
ered well above Its neighbors He
Bmiled as he saw a trace of an old
road, almost obliterated by weeds, that
le'i zigzagging up the eminence. It
was Hedges' Hill and near the crest,
he remembered, was the outhouse that
sheltered the unhappy Plotr.
The storm overtook him before he
was half-way up the hill. When he
reached the clearing on the edge of
which stood the shed, he made his
horse fast to a tree, and drenched to
the skin by the pelting rain, entered
At first, in the shadows of the win-
dowless shed, he saw no signs of Piotr.
He stood in the doorway, watching
He had been there several minutes
when a queer choking sound came
from behind him. He turned quickly,
and as his eyes became used to the
darkness, made out the figure crouch,
ing half hidden behind a bench in the
"Hello! Is that you, Piotr? What
are you doing over there?"
The noise came again.
"Is something wrong with you?"
Mark went closer to him. "I'm Mark
Truitt. Don't you know me, Piotr?"
"Y-yes," quavered Piotr.
"What's the matter—sick?"
"I'm a-afraid," came the whimpering
reply. "It's the storm."
Mark smiled pityingly. So this poor
nerve-broken creature, who cowered
before a little wind and rain and light-
ning, was he who had set out to harm
"He's In a bad way," he thought.
"There, now," he said, gently, "I'm not
going to hurt you. Piotr."
Piotr was in his corner, half crouch-
ing, staring fixedly at Mark. His eyes
made tiny points of light in the deep
"D-did you come here to get me?"
"Of course I did. I heard you were*
hereabouts and I wasn't going to let
you stay up here and starve to death."
"Wh-what are you g-going to do with
"For one thing," Mark answered
gravely, "when thiB rain lets up I'm
going to take you back to town and
get you In the habit of eating threo
square meals a day. I think it's be-
ginning to let up a little now."
\V ho," came Piotr'B quavering
voice, "who told you I was here?"
The doctor who found you yester-
"Kazia! She—she is here?"
"Yes. She came to get you."
"She guessed—she and the Matka
guessed—you were up to some mis-
chief. You frightened the Matka with
your wild talk. But we'll discuss that
later. Come, we'll make a start now."
(TO BE CONTINUED.)
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Burke, J. J. The Daily Transcript (Norman, Okla.), Vol. 2, No. 131, Ed. 1 Tuesday, November 17, 1914, newspaper, November 17, 1914; (gateway.okhistory.org/ark:/67531/metadc112839/m1/2/: accessed September 20, 2018), The Gateway to Oklahoma History, gateway.okhistory.org; crediting Oklahoma Historical Society.