The Outcast Manufacturers

A Hypertext Edition of Charles Hoy Fort's Book

Edited Mr. X



Pearson's Magazine

CHAPTER THREE




      "Keep that door shut!" said Mr. Birtwhistle. "Anybody who gets into this office must have business here." office of the Universal Manufacturing Company. Typewriter clicking almost spiritedly; at least clicking several times in succession almost spiritedly; Mr. Parker, the operator, having almost some animation. Oilcloth on the floor shining; a mirror shining; no relation between Mr. Birtwhistle and the sofa, except, of course, that his own particular indentation in it was in evidence. The walls had been washed, and all suggestions of seaweeds and monsters and wreckage had been dispelled. Mr. Birtwhistle linen coat diverging from a top button, showing a triangle of black waistcoat, whole effect like tied-back sash curtains, with a dark triangle or room-interior, and Mr. Birtwhistle's face pressed against an uncurtained upper pane.
      "We've caught our trade at last!" said Mr. Birtwhistle. "Now I can spare a moment to go over it with you, Sim. The Popular Boy's Boxing Outfit, four sets; 'Art and Etiquette of Courtship,' fifty copies; one gross of the Great Japanese Mystery it's a long list and ends up with the crawling alligators."
      "Not mentioning the Great Ten-cent Packages!" said Miss Guffy. "I sits here sometimes wondering what the Fighting Roosters and the Frightful Rattlesnake is like, but I'll not rest in my grave if I don't find out what's in that Great Ten-cent Package. Sure, what could be in it for ten cents?"
      "But are they different orders?" asks Sim.
      "Well, no. It's from someone stocking up a new store, out in Ohio, but it shows that our five-line ad is a great success. And about whatever else you were mentioning, you shall have your answer now. I'll pay you thirty dollars a week, to start with. You're to be our advertising manager. Also, you'll have to help, at least at first, when we start up the factory of our own."
      Voice in the street:
      "Guffy!"
      Voice in the hall:
      "Asbury!"
      Awful distress: appeals for help. Bundles appearing; Mrs. Birtwhistle's right arm squeezing a large ham, which was the slippery foundation of a super-structure of many wobbly bundles, embraced by Mrs. Birtwhistle's left arm, top bundle pressed down with her chin.
      "Quick! Take the potatoes, Asbury!"
      "Oh, the potatoes?"
      "Guffy, you take them. If the market's two blocks or two miles away, I always reach home just on the second when I can't go another step without dropping everything. I've spent a host of money! But look at these potatoes. The miserable scoundrels they tried to cheat me on the measure, wasn't I up to them. The miserable scoundrels; I hope they'll never have a day's luck. The ham was a dollar-twenty."
      "First, what is it you want for yourselves?"
      "Sure, Mrs. Birtwhistle, I have everything I wants now, with the clearing of the pawnshops. Sure, who'd be bothering with the wants of poor Guffy?"
      "I must see about my eyes; they're going back on me," said Mrs. Birtwhistle.
      "Then we'll hunt up the best specialist in the city."
      "Indeed and I'll go to the five-and-ten-cent store. A pair of ten cent spectacles will do me. You mustn't feel too rich, you know. Everything I bought is absolutely necessary. They give you letters, different sizes, to try your eyes, in the five-and-ten-cent store. It's very satisfactory."
      "I'll see about all that, but just now it's to work!" Mr. Birtwhistle avoiding the dented sofa, or, in fact, the particularly dented sofa, and pacing up and down, supervising his assistants. "Asbury, get out your letter to the Rochester people."
      And Mrs. Birtwhistle housewifely cares now, and something to feel responsibility for two white teeth showing slightly, placed exactly to express the cares of a household, permanently where the teeth of other housewives press only in such dreadful moments as "Merciful heavens! Did I leave the chops where the cat can get them?" "Was I right," Mrs. Birtwhistle was saying, "in paying so much for the ham? It's well worth it." She was building a fire with sticks that had been chopped most particularly into stove-size. Ham put into a pot of water, and some discussion here, between Miss Guffy and Mrs. Birtwhistle, as to whether a ham should be put into cold water, or not until the water became hot, Miss Guffy taking the hot water side, to Mrs. Birtwhistle's contempt and intolerance "I don't care what you say, Guffy, and was it my dying breath, I'd say parboil the ham first!" Miss Guffy then coming around, with no ordinary, mild acquiescence, but vehemently declaring: "Right you are! Indeed it should be cold! Certainly it should be cold!"
      Said Mr. Birtwhistle: "My plans are enormous. I am going to work unremittingly, and do everything in my power, though of course we must have occasional relaxation, too."
      "Your plans are no more enormous than mine," said Mrs. Birtwhistle, "every single thing from the pawnshops has to be washed before it's put away. I'm not satisfied with these walls, if I have to paint them, myself, and I probably will have to. I don't know where to begin, but I've begun already."
      "God knows," said Miss Guffy, "all we ever wanted was a little encouragement, and now with the orders coming in, we've got that. You can count on me to help you, Mr. Birtwhistle, if I have to work my poor fingers to the bone."
      "It's all a matter of having a little encouragement," said Mr. Birtwhistle. "If the world will only give us a chance, we shall not be found wanting. However, something of relaxation is necessary, too. I guess we'll go to Coney Island."
      "And leave my ham? I guess not!"
      "But we haven't been anywhere all summer."
      "And leave my dinner to take care of itself? How bad you are for Coney Island and the time it takes you. Indeed not!"
      "Well, we're going, anyway. Come on Sim and Asbury. Delia, I'll make it up for you some other way."
      "There's small use trying to do right with a man like that!" Mrs. Birtwhistle throwing away a stove lifter.
      "He does get so excited whenever there's a bit of prosperity."
      Mr. Birtwhistle pushing Sim and Asbury to the hall.
      "May every Coney Island frankfurter you eat choke you!" cried Mrs. Birtwhistle, from a front window. "I hope you drown, you and that rotten Sim, who put you up to that, and don't any one of you ever come back here!"




Next Chapter

Introduction

B.W. Dodge and Company (1909) edition:

Chapter 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17

Pearson's Magazine (American Edition) version:

Chapter 1 2 4 5

The Pearson's version can be resumed at chapter 9 of the Dodge edition.

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