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The Empty Sack   By: (1859-1928)

The Empty Sack by Basil King

First Page:

THE EMPTY SACK

THE EMPTY SACK BY BASIL KING

AUTHOR OF THE INNER SHRINE, THE WILD OLIVE, Etc.

ILLUSTRATED

NEW YORK GROSSET & DUNLAP PUBLISHERS

Made in the United States of America

The Empty Sack

Copyright, 1921, by Harper & Brothers Printed in the United States of America

[Illustration: DEAR OLD MA! STOP CRYING , MA! ]

CONTENTS

CHAPTER I CHAPTER II CHAPTER III CHAPTER IV CHAPTER V CHAPTER VI CHAPTER VII CHAPTER VIII CHAPTER IX CHAPTER X CHAPTER XI CHAPTER XII CHAPTER XIII CHAPTER XIV CHAPTER XV CHAPTER XVI CHAPTER XVII CHAPTER XVIII CHAPTER XIX CHAPTER XX CHAPTER XXI CHAPTER XXII CHAPTER XXIII CHAPTER XXIV CHAPTER XXV CHAPTER XXVI CHAPTER XXVII CHAPTER XXVIII CHAPTER XXIX

THE EMPTY SACK

CHAPTER I

"Mr. Collingham will see you in his office before you go."

Having thus become the Voice of Fate, Miss Ruddick, shirt waisted and daintily shod, slipped away between the pens where clerks were preening themselves before leaving their desks for the day.

The old man to whom she had spoken raised his head in the mild surprise of an ox disturbed while grazing. He, too, was leaving his desk for the day, arranging his work with the tidy care of one for whom pens, ink, and ledgers were the vital things of life. Finishing his task, his hands trembled. His smile trembled, too, when a young man in a neighboring pen called out in tones which mingled sarcasm with encouragement:

"Good luck, old top! Goin' to get your raise at last!"

It was what he repeated to himself as he shuffled after Miss Ruddick. He was obliged to repeat it in order to steady his step. He was obliged to steady his step because some fifteen or twenty pairs of eyes from all the pens in the office were following him as he went along. It was the last bit of pride in the man marching up to face a firing squad.

He had reached the glass door on which the word "Exit" could be traced in reversed letters, when a breezy young fellow of twenty startled him by a sudden clap on the shoulder. The boy had not come from a pen, but from the more distant portion of the bank where a line of tellers' cages faced the public.

"Hello, dad! Tell ma I'll be home for supper. Off now for a plunge at the gym."

The boy passed on, leaving behind a vision of gleaming teeth and the echo of gay tones.

Opening a glass door and entering a passageway, the old man stumbled along it till another door, standing open, showed Miss Ruddick, beside her typewriter, assorting her papers before going home. Miss Ruddick was a competent woman of thirty five. She was in her present position of stenographer secretary to the head of the banking house because Mr. Bickley, the efficiency expert, for whose opinion Mr. Collingham had a kind of reverence, had selected her for the job. Miss Ruddick cultivated her efficiency as another woman cultivates her voice or another her gift for dancing. Throwing off the weaknesses that spring from affection and softness of heart, she had steeled and oiled herself into a swiftly working, surely judging, and wholly impersonal business automaton. Ten years ago she would have felt sorry for a man in Josiah Follett's predicament. She would have felt sorry for him now had she not learned to her cost that sympathy diminished the accuracy of her work. Now she could turn him off as easily as an executioner the man condemned to death.

As a matter of fact, she knew that ten minutes previously the efficiency expert had been closeted with Mr... Continue reading book >>




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