( Originally Published 1917 )
THEY could hardly wait till the soap came in and was shipped out again to Chicago. All three of them were as excited as children waiting before the doors that open on a Christmas tree. Fifty thousand cakes! It was an inestimable, an infinite, an incredible, number. Rodney had not an idea whether a row of fifty thousand cakes of 13 Soap would reach from our earth to the moon, or only from the Plaza to the Pennsylvania Terminal. They came and came, an endless chain. But when the influx stopped and had been carefully counted by Mary, Miss Burke and the office boy, pro tem., it totaled, not fifty thousand, though it seemed a million, but only five thousand altogether.
" Are you sure? " asked Peale and Rodney in one breath. " Aren't there any more?
" Quite sure," said Mary.
" Positive," said Miss Burke.
" Are you certain sure there aren't any more of them anywhere?" repeated Ambrose.
" Search me," said the office boy.
It was true; only five thousand of the lot had been delivered.
The company's three officers made a dash for their telephones. Peale got 374 Schuyler, Mary 48o Audubon and Rodney 276 Broad in a jiffy, only to be told that there was no more soap in stock. In each instance the news was conveyed in a cool and uncordial tone that gave them to understand there was nothing more doing in that quarter. What was the matter?
Peale turned round and stared at his companions and partners aghast.
" Well, wouldn't that get you? " he ejaculated.
Rodney was the most crestfallen of them all, for an idea had come to him of the true reason of things.
" It's the pater," he said in a quiet tone that carried conviction. " He's shut down on us."
Mary set her lips and nodded her head in her turn, for the same idea had occurred to her. She was afraid it was all too true. As one sometimes even in a nightmare tells oneself this horrible sensation is a dream, so she told herself now this cruel, horrible refusal to give them more soap was only a part of old Mr. Martin's bluff to make Rodney work, one more of his " Scenes " in his grand scheme to transform Rodney from an idle rich man's son into a real money getter; that tomorrow, in real life, the other cakes would come.
In one mental flash she would see the thing this way and now that. She liked old Mr, Martin. He had been kind to her in many ways, and even in that one special sentimental way which made Mary feel that she wielded an influence over him. She knew her mother's story women are seldom perfectly silent as to the men that love them and she would not believe he could turn her loose. And yet he had been angry, really angry, about those sandwich men and the false statement. Oh, dear, oh, dear ! How hard it was to run straight in business and make money.
Then she began to look on the more practical side of things, to turn round and see where they stood. An order for five thousand cakes in itself was not so bad. It, was the very largest they had ever received, at any rate; they would ship the five thousand promptly and Marshall Field would pay cash for them in ten days. She made a rapid calculation. They were giving old Mr. Martin three cents a cake for them, and would get three thousand dollars back. That would mean two thousand eight hundred and fifty dollars. She smoothed out the frown in her pretty forehead and announced aloud:
" Well, it means about three thousand to us, and cash too. After all that's not so bad." Peale cheered up immediately.
" Cash," he repeated, rolling the word round in his mouth and tasting it. " The most beautiful word in the English language."
" Except one," said Rodney, looking at Mary. " Which is ? " Peale queried.
"Love," said Rodney.
"No, cash," said Peale. "Why, look here; think what this means, three thousand dollars."
"We'll discount McChesney's note," said Mary resolutely.
" And it's only a beginning," went on Peale. "Give me back that telegram. It'll be my letter of credit, my passport and all the rest of it? I'll show it to the advertising agents. They'll trust me on the strength of that."
It proved a help indeed, this cash, when it came on in due course, but not a cure. It vanished like smoke in thin air, like cream before a set of kittens, like snow upon the desert's dusty face. Their joy in it was short lived, because it was so soon gone. Again there came a day when the end of the month, with its next rent payment, seemed much nearer than the first; a day when time, which Peale said was the same thing as money, seemed very much like time, and short time at that, and very little like real money. To make matters worse Peale meanwhile had swung round the circle again, waving his " letter of credit," and running up a lot more in the way of bills on new advertising. He had scooted off for a week and never let the office know by so much as a telegram where he was. Then, as cheerfully as he had gone, he blew home again one day announcing that he had contracted for about thirty thou-sand dollars' worth of advertising in Boston, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Washington and a few other eastern metropolises. He declared it was the greatest advertising campaign ever undertaken since George W. Advertising was a young man. Just look at some of this copy, he told Mary, flourishing a bunch of proofs. When she took him to task for not keeping in touch with the home office he said he had done it on purpose, my dear; he wanted to make a splendid entrance. Really he was hopeless, thought poor Mary.
For a self-respecting bookkeeper it was all dreadfully disheartening; Mary sighed and found it very difficult. Making five go into two was nothing compared with the effort to make twenty-two thousand eight hundred and eighteen dollars and nine cents go into one hundred and thirty-three dollars and thirteen cents. Mary remembered the story of the millionaire socialist who wouldn't separate himself from his money and di-vide it up with the poor because there would be so little for each poor man when he got his share. Such would certainly be the case with their creditors if she attempted to make their assets go any distance at all. Oh dear, oh dear! How discouraging it all was. She couldn't help repining, once in a while, for the old comfortable days when she had just drawn her money regularly each week, and hadn't expected much in the way of riches, and hadn't set her mind on stirring up the idle rich. How far away that afternoon in Mr. Mar-tin's library seemed now ! In her mind's eye that minute she could see Rodney as he came in the front door downstairs with the big white carnation in his buttonhole.
For a little while the days passed uneventfully, drawing nearer the inevitable end. Then came the last day of the month, and Mary's blue devils were very large and blue. The day passed quietly enough in the 13 Soap Company's offices, so far as outward signs revealed it; there were few callers, McChesney being out of the way, though Mary knew he would be heard from to-morrow if his note was not properly met at the bank. How was she ever going to get a check certified to meet it !
Rodney at his desk sat quietly absorbed. He rustled a few papers now and then, and used his rubber stamp, but its impact on the pad and paper lacked the usual vigor. Even Peale's head, Mary noted, drooped a little as he wrote his ads ads that would be born to blush unseen if money could not be raised somehow, somewhere, to pay for them. The truth was that for once in their business life all three of them, president, secretary and advertising agent, usually so keen on business, sat there like schoolboys with their eyes upon the clock, waiting for the hour to close.
As the hour of five drew near Mary began to make some long drawn out preparations for going home. This last quarter of an hour of time must be killed and done to death by fair means or by foul. A resolution had been slowly forming in her head, and now took definite shape. She shut down her desk with a delightfully loud noise, and stood up.
" I may be a little late to-morrow," she said to Rodney, as she began putting on her hat.
" All right," said the president mildly.
Rodney too. looked as if something were working in his mind, and no wonder, Mary thought, with their situation what it was. Mary knew him like a book, but this time she would ask no questions and keep her own counsel. She was going straight up to Mr. Martin's on Fifth Avenue and have a long talk and argument with him. He simply must let them have those extra forty-five thousand cakes of soap for Marshall Field.
She scurried over to the Third Avenue elevated and climbed the stairs of the station at Worth Street, her brain working all the time. In a curious, detached spirit she saw her nickel slide into the groove made by so many previous nickels on the hard wood sill under the office window, and dropped her ticket delicately in the ticket chopper's glass box. A local train was what she wanted, because she was more likely to get a seat there and have a chance to think, so she strolled up and down a moment and then sat down on one of the green seats on the plaform. It was nice to get the fresh air and rest a moment, though the signs that stared at her across the track reminded her of Ambrose and their business escapades. How many advertisements there were, and how much money was being spent on them, if half what Ambrose said was true ! What a character Ambrose was! What he said must be true too, and there actually were results, sometimes. There was the Marshall Field order to prove it. If only Mr. Martin could be wheedled into selling them that extra soap!
Several local trains passed, all crowded, and, being tired, and enjoying the fresh air, Mary was disposed to take her time and wait till she got the seat she wanted. It gave her a luxurious feeling to let the trains go by and not run after them, as people usually did in New York.
A woman came presently and sat down beside her, with an evident inclination to talk. She was young, though her peroxide hair made her look older. There were two types of women with dyed hair like this, Mary had noted the fast and the sentimental. Her neighbor was obviously the latter, and Mary's looks had probably appealed to her. Without insolence she looked Mary over thoroughly a moment as if appraising her.
Are you a business woman? " she asked after a little pause.
Mary was good-natured and a good mixer, and, seeing that the woman suffered only from human curiosity, she answered, " Yes," adding just for fun:
" I'm a vice-president and a secretary. Our company has offices on Broadway."
The woman looked quite impressed.
" What line are you folks in? " she pursued. " Soap," said Mary.
" Married? " asked the woman.
" Not yet," said Mary.
" Well, you'll get a husband, if you want one," said the woman .with a crisp laugh. " A pretty girl like you usually gets what's coming to her." " I'm engaged," said Mary, amused.
" You see? " said the woman. " Now I'm a bachelor maid, as they call them nowadays, myself. Most of my girl friends have too much trouble with their husbands. None of your married life for mine. No, sir. No matter how swell a little home I might have, it wouldn't appeal to me! "
Mary laughed at this cynicism.
" When are you going to be married?" the woman inquired, still chatty and curious.
" Oh, I don't know," said Mary. " I suppose we'Il go down to the city hall some day and have it over with."
" You'd like a nice wedding though, wouldn't you? " the woman continued sympathetically; " with white satin and a wedding veil and all. I know one girl who's never got over it because she was married in a brown dress."
Mary was used to these unreticent interlocutors, going about the crowded city as she did. The woman with the dyed hair rushed off presently, 'shrieking, "Oh, there's Mayme," and she was left alone again. The local that she waited for, originating further up town than South Ferry, came along and she got aboard at her leisure.
She had a choice of seats, in fact, and took one on the left side in one of the middle compartments, so she could see the broad Bowery as she passed through it. The traffic of the street flashed by like a moving picture as she rode on past Saint Gaudens's Peter Cooper in his bronze armchair near Bible House, past Fourteenth Street and Tam-many Hall, on through the twenties and thirties and under the Forty-second Street shuttle train, over Sixtieth Street with its stream of motors from the Queensboro Bridge, and on up to the Seventy-second Street station. Through this broad lane Mary trudged bravely west, keeping her courage at the striking point, and pressed the bell button on Mr. Cyrus Martin's front door. Johnson, looking surprised but pleased to see her, let her in, and showed her into the little reception room downstairs to wait, while he took her name up to Mr. Martin.
A host of memories trooped round her as she sat on the gilt sofa. The quiet and comfort of the big house soothed her nerves in spite of herself, but she felt a pang too, to think of all Rodney had turned his back on. How perverse it was of fate to give all this to old men who couldn't really enjoy it and deny it to young people who could taste and relish it to the full. The reflection challenged her. She was going to do what-ever she could to bring Rodney's father round be-fore the iron entered too deeply into the boy's "soul. She cared more for him now than for riches or success or advertising or anything at all.
There had been a curious pleasure in telling that perfect stranger just now about her engagement, and talking about being married.
Sitting in the little room she couldn't help re-viewing the course of her life for the last six months. First there was her coming up to this fine house here, at the old gentleman's insistence, and her first seeing Rodney, a being unlike any other male she had known till then. Then there was old Mr. Martin's scheme to have the boy go to work. Mr. Martin had tried to make out that she, Mary, had conceived the idea of waking Rodney up, that she had invented the paternal gout, etc. Had she?
And then Ambrose Peale and the 13 Soap Company and their joyous new adventuring into the deep sea of business; their troubles and their worries, and Rodney's pluck in sticking at it She recalled it all in quick flashes of thought. Should she give in herself now " quit "? Never
" Mr. Martin will see you, Miss Grayson," said Johnson, coming back; and she followed him upstairs with beating heart.
I IF there is any time in the day when a retired business man should be allowed to enjoy him-self in his own mature and self chosen way, it is the hour between five and six. This hour " between the dark and the daylight" was not the children's hour in Mr. Martin's house, for good and sufficient reasons, his only son having been cast off and there being no " grands " yet anyway. Neither was it a five o'clock tea hour, for Mr. Martin never had tea any more since Mary Grayson had gone : he had had Johnson bring it in for her once in a while in the old days, to feed her up, but not now. His new secretary was a goose, and he had packed her off, and now he found some letters to open with his own hands to-day, which seemed to annoy him. Disgruntlement still swayed his paternal heart when he thought of Rodney he was torn between love and irritation where that boy was concerned.
He turned to the papers for consolation and held one sheet up to scrutinize the headlines. As he did so he displayed to the empty room a full page advertisement of 13 Soapthe hand of Ambrose, in fact which by some occult influence presently impelled him to turn the paper over and glance at the last page next. The blatant sprawling ad caused him a pang of regret and disgust, and he flung it down. He took up another paper and had the same experience, then turned angrily to some letters, only to be rewarded by the sight of 13 Soap circulars fluttering to the floor when he opened the envelopethe hand of Ambrose again in fact. Another "letter and an-other they had got a beastly way now of addressing them in refined female hands, on good stationery, so you'd think they were invitations --followed the first into the waste paper basket.
It was a relief when Johnson presently appeared and announced a caller, though a great surprise to hear the caller's name. Mary Grayson ! Now what was this sly puss after? he speculated as he bade Johnson show her in. Come to get her old job back, he supposed. Well, she could have it, at her old salary. He said this last aloud to her, as she came into the room looking very sweet, he must admit. The serious expression she wore was not at all unbecoming to her pretty face.
The room looked just as it used to do, and the recollection took Mary back again, in spite of her engrossing errand. The diamond pendulum was still swinging an the mantelpiece. Mr. Martin himself wound all the docks in the house every Sunday morning, at exactly half-past nine, when the hands did not interfere with the key holes.
But I don't want it," said Mary, in response to his ungracious proposition.
" Oh, then, Rodney has sent you to plead for him," suggested Mr. Martin.
" No, sir," said Mary. " He doesn't know I'm here."
" Then what are you here for? " he demanded, really curious.
" To make you a business proposition," said Mary stoutly.
Why doesn't Rodney make it himself ? " asked his father.
" He doesn't know what it is," explained Mary.
That's something in his favor," Martin con-ceded; " I can't see much use in women tying up in men's business. Somehow I love the scallawag, and, damn it, I miss him around here."
He looked at Mary curiously as he said this, wondering how she and Rodney were getting along these days and what her errand really was, though he didn't propose to give away his interest in it. She had betrayed the true nature of things to him once. What was she going to do now?
His reflections and Mary's business were interrupted, however, by Johnson's entering a second time and announcing the last two people in the world that Mary had counted on, namely, Mr. Rodney Martin and Mr. Ambrose Peale.
" Oh, the whole firm, eh? said Mr. Martin, eyeing Mary sharply.
Mary started guiltily. For a moment she feared that Rodney might hark back to that five thousand dollar check his father had given her and grow jealous again. She couldn't pretend to be pleased to see him, despite her sentimental reflections just now downstairs. She had wanted to handle this interview in her own way. She felt she could have done it right, convincingly, just as a hunter feels within himself that he can clear the hurdle that looms up ahead. Now, here were Rodney and Ambrose to interfere with her, and Ambrose of course would interrupt and switch her off and perhaps irritate the old gentleman with his advertising talk. He couldn't help it. Ambrose would pop out of his jack-in-the-box instanter if you sprung the subject of soap and advertising.
Old Mr. Martin surveyed all three of them grimly, just long enough to let embarrassment set in on all their faces. His eyes rested on Mary last of all, and longest. A fairly perceptible change crept round his firm old mouth as he did so. He was satisfied the little minx had told him the truth about Rodney's not knowing anything as to her mission here, and indeed, when the boy came in and saw her there, he exclaimed in genuine surprise:
" Why, Mary, what are you doing here? "
Mary thought fast a moment, and evidently decided that the best part of diplomacy this time was the truth.
" I came to tell your father about Marshall Field," she said frankly.
Rodney looked relieved.
" That's why we're here too," he said.
" Absolutely," added Peale.
" Well, what is it about Marshall Field? " blustered Martin. " Let me tell you right now, I won't back any fake company."
" But we're not a fake any longer," protested Rodney.
" We've actually sold some soap," chimed in Peale.
"Fifty thousand cakes," Mary explained impressively.
" To Marshall Field," said Rodney.
" Then why did you send 'em only five thou-sand cakes?" inquired old Martin bluntly.
Rodney looked astonished, but answered promptly:
" Because after we'd got that much from one of your branch factories you shut off our supply." " And we couldn't get any more soap anywhere," said Peale plaintively.
" And you knew it very well," Mary said accusingly.
" We've still got forty-five thousand cakes to deliver, if we can get 'em from you," went on Rodney; why let all that money get out of the family?" he pleaded; " it's a business proposition."
" No, it isn't," said his father; " don't fool yourself; I sent that telegram."
" What telegram?" asked Rodney.
" The telegram from Marshall Field's ordering the fifty thousand cakes," grunted old Martin. Mary plumped down on a chair in dismay. " You sent it? " she gasped.
Mr. Martin decided to amplify a little.
" That day at the office you were pretty game, son," he said; " and to tell the truth I felt so , sorry for you I had to do something; so I sent that wire "
" So that success is all a bluff too? " sighed Rodney.
" Well," said his father, " I figured an order like that would stall off your creditors, and when
I had fixed it with one of our factories to let you have five thousand cakes at three cents a cake I knew it would mean some ready cash for you from Marshall Field "
" But how did you square Marshall Field? " inquired Peale, still hoping it was his ads.
" Oh, I just wired 'em I'd be responsible," said Mr. Martin; and say," he added, turning to Rodney, " you had a nerve to charge 'em sixty cents a cake. I had to pay the bill. That shipment cost me three thousand dollars for one hundred and fifty dollars' worth of soap."
" That isn't funny, young man," said Mr. Mar-tin, glaring at him.
" No, it isn't," admitted Rodney. " I thought we'd really made good, and all the time it was you behind us "
" You see, my boy," said Martin senior, " even if you did nearly trim me, I've got a sort of sneaking fondness for you. Look here, son, why not quit? There's no market for dollar soap."
" But how do you know?" Rodney objected bravely.
" How do I know,? " asked his father. " Because I had a letter from Marshall Field a few days ago asking me what to do with the soap.
They hadn't sold a cake. I told 'em to dump it in the Chicago river. It might help the drainage canal."
" But you didn't give our advertising a chance," objected Rodney.
" Yes," said Peale eagerly. " We only finished a great big advertising campaign in Chicago two days ago."
" I know the soap would have made good," insisted Rodney, " with that trademark."
" If your trademark was so marvelous," said Martin, " somebody besides your poor old father would have bought your soap."
In the meantime Peale had grown more and more discouraged.
" Oh, what's the use? He doesn't believe in advertising," he said pathetically.
" Oh yes, I do," Mr. Martin objected; " sound conservative advertising, but not the crazy, sensational stuff you go in for."
Mary decided she would try another tack.
" Oh, you're just mad because the soap trust didn't think of 13 Soap itself," she said, half mischievously.
" Why, we wouldn't touch a fool thing like that," said Mr. Martin. " If you deliver the goods, your goods will advertise you; that's always been our policy."
This was an unfortunate lead for the old soap king to have made. To doubt the efficiency of his ads was to strike at the vitals of Ambrose Peale, to challenge him and draw his fire every time. And now Rodney was his enthusiastic squire and second.
Both boys drew good long breaths and began on their favorite themes. Poor Mary felt that she too was being swept along with them in the flood of Peale's enthusiasm.
" I'm sorry, father," Rodney led off, " but you are too old fashioned to know the modern way of advertising. Why, do you know the National Biscuit Company was on the verge of failing until they hit on the title Uneeda Biscuit? "
Mary took a hand, too.
" And since then, they have had over four hundred law-suits to protect it," quoted Mary.
" Their trademark made 'em," Rodney went on. " They value that trademark now at six mil-lion dollars."
Peale had listened with grim satisfaction. Great stuff," he echoed, then added:
" And spearmint gum, just as a' trademark, is worth seven millions."
" And the Fairbanks people count their trade-mark, The Gold Dust Twins, at ten millions," said Rodney.
" And did you ever hear of the Gillette Safety Razor? " asked Mary. " Tell him about it, Rodney."
" It costs you five dollars," said Rodney; " don't you know there's a mighty good safety razor for a quarter and dozens at a dollar? But you use the Gillette because Gillette was there first. You buy his razor at a high price simply because of its trademark."
" Advertising," said Mary, with a gesture she had learned from Rodney.
" Absolutely," said Rodney, with a word he had learned from Peale.
Peale himself went on:
" And Ivory soap in the magazines alone used four hundred and fifty thousand dollars' worth of space in 1913 ; and at three cents a cake wholesale that represents fifteen million cakes for magazine advertising alone."
" I don't believe it," old Martin interrupted.
" Yes," said Peale irreverently, " and a lot of other guys didn't believe that iron ships would float, or that machines heavier than air would fly, or that you could talk to Chicago on a wire, or send a message across the Atlantic without a wire. Pardon me, sir, but you want to get on to yourself."
" Yes, father, you certainly do," said Rodney.
"And you'd better hurry up," added Mary. Mr. Martin laughed grimly.
" You've got a fine lot of theories, but what have they done for those five thousand cakes of 13 Soap out at Marshall Field's? "
" Why, we haven't really spent enough money advertising," said Peale, true to his faith. That's the trouble."
" That's true," Rodney agreed. " Every time the American Tobacco Company puts out a new cigarette they start off by appropriating two hundred thousand dollars to boom it."
" And I suppose they are a lot of boobs," put in. Peale.
" And think what other firms spend," said Rodney. I've gone into this thing, father "
" Yes, Rodney, let's show him our list," said. Mary.
Rodney and Peale each grabbed a long typewritten sheet out of his breast pocket. Mary toa produced a list from her shopping bag, frugally written on an envelope back.
" Sure," Rodney said. ." It's an absolutely ac-curate list of what some of the big advertisers spent in the thirty-one leading magazines last year. Eastman Kodak," he began to read off: " four hundred thousand. Postum Coffee, one hundred and twenty-five thousand, Arrow Collars, four hundred thousand, Philip Morris Cigarettes, one hundred thousand, Welch's Grape Juice, one hundred thousand."
" Grape Juice, my friend," put in Peale, winking.
" Uneeda Biscuit one hundred and fifty thou-sand, Spearmint Gum one hundred and forty thou-sand," pursued Rodney.
" That's enough; that's enough," protested his father.
" Oh, I've only just begun," Rodney laughed.. Grape Nuts two hundred and twenty-eight thousand."
" Colgate's Dental Cream, two hundred and thirty thousand," mentioned Mary.
" Campbell's Soups, one hundred and eighty-six thousand," said Peale.
" Kellogg's Toasted Cornflakes, two hundred thousand," said Mary.
Quaker Oats, three hundred sixty-seven thousand, and these are only a few," said Rodney.
You can't see how it pays, but you do know that it must pay or they wouldn't do it."
" Doesn't all that mean anything to you?" inquired Mary anxiously.
"Yes, doesn't it? " Peale persisted.
" When you realize that those thirty-one magazines have only about ten million readers? " said Mary.
And that there are a hundred million people in this country?" resumed Rodney. " Why, just to appeal to one-tenth of the population fifty million dollars was spent in magazines last year and each year people are getting better educated more people are wanting to read. It won't be long before there are twenty-five million people buying magazines, and you can reach all of them by advertising get a new market, a new population to deal with. Think what national advertising is accomplishing. It sells automobiles, vacuum cleaners, talking machines, rubber heels, kodaks, washing machines, foods, clothes, shoes, paints, houses, plumbing, electric 'irons, fireless cookers, mostly to a lot of people who'd never even hear of 'em if it weren't for advertisements."
Peale took up the refrain next.
" But nowadays it isn't only people who have stoves to sell or tooth brushes that are spending money on publicity," he began. " Banks are advertising for money, nations for immigrants, colleges for students, cities for citizens and churches for congregations; and you sit there thinking it doesn't pay to advertise."
" Six hundred and sixteen million dollars were spent last year in magazines and newspapers, bill-boards and electric signs," recited Mary.
" Bringing education and comfort and fun and luxury to the people of the United States," said Rodney. " It's romance, father, the romance of printing presses, of steel rails, of the wireless, of trains and competition, the romance of modern business, and it's all built on advertising. Why, advertising is the biggest thing in this country, and it's only just begun."
Mr. Martin let them pause a while, out of breath.
" Why didn't you boys go into the advertising business? " he asked. " You seem to know some-thing about that."
This was too much for Peale, who began fairly tearing his hair:
" Oh, what's the use? He's the old school. We're new blood."
" Yes, youth has got it on old age," agreed Rodney.
Indeed, it has," said Mary.
" Well," said Mr. Martin, " when you boys get through talking, and you're flat broke and down and out, come around and see me; I'll show you an old business that has a lot of money, that isn't radical, and that manages to keep going without wasting a fortune in fool advertising."
"Then you won't let us get any soap?" asked Rodney.
" Risk my business reputation on a silly scheme like dollar soap, I should say not. You may be crazy, but I'm not."
" Yes, you are," said Mary, beginning to lose her temper.
Oh, come on," said Peale impatiently. " What's the use of talking to a man whose brain is deaf?
The old soap king only laughed.
Say, when you get a spiel come around," he chaffed. " I like to hear you talk dollar soap."
And so to the accompaniment of his scornful chuckles the three dejectedly walked out. Poor Mary's mission had failed. In the street outside she couldn't help pouting a little, especially for Rodney's benefit, and she scolded Peale outright. She was sure she could have managed the old gentleman if she had been allowed to do it in her own intuitive woman's way, and she told both the boys so flatly. What was the use of spouting all those statistics? What they wanted was forty-five thousand cakes of soap, not five thousand words of advertising talk. What impression had they made on the soap king? Not the slightest.
" Now don't you be too sure," interrupted Ambrose. " Just let it sink in and rankle a bit, and we'll see."
" Nonsense," said Mary quite crossly.
She set out for home on the other side of the park on foot, and declined Rodney's escort peremptorily, hardening her heart. As she left she could hear him and Peale debating whether to spend ten cents on the bus or five on the Madison Avenue cars to get themselves home. Alas, the last time they had left this house together, she and Rodney, it had been a choice between the bus and a taxi.