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something for me? Please telephone Miss Morland that I'm all right, but that I'll have to stick around the house for a day or two."
"IH tell her you have a cold in your shoulder," she laughed, and in a few minutes returned from the drug store with the news that Miss Morland had departed, destination unknown, and left no word for anybody.
Tom's face clouded, and Sadie misconstrued the look.
"He's awfully in love with her," she thought
Sadie Johnson asked no questions. She dressed the bullet wound in Tom Wickham's shoulder and cheered him up with sprightly accounts of the day's happenings at the Alert Garage.
He spent the days in the easy chair by his window, thankful that the critical third day had passed without the development of fever.
Down at the great firm of Morland & Company, the office force received with varying comments the news that he was laid up.
The cynical attributed his "indisposition" to an attack of some particularly deadly "home brew," while the evil-minded thought he had gotten snarled up with a "vamp." One man, recalling Tom's long and embarrassing telephone conversation a few days before, shared the latter view, although he would have been shocked out of a year's growth had he known the identity of the lady. To him the daughter of Henry Morland was one who lived on the unattainable heights of a different world.
During the time while Sadie was away at work Tom had many dragging hours in which to review the events leading up to the present.
He was angry at Lucille Morland's selfishness—running away without an apparent thought of what might have happened to him. She could not have failed to hear the shots. Under no circumstances could he imagine Emily Harbridge showing so little feeling, or Sadie Johnson, either.
He was angry at Henry Morland, too. He had not before realized the nature of Mr. Morland's business, or at least it had never before been presented to him in quite the same light.
The newspaper references to Morland's vast war profits in foodstuffs brought him into direct comparison with the difficult condition of Tom's own father, who raised the food.
There was something radically wrong, Tom decided, in the distribution of earned reward when the farmer who slaved long weeks and months, gambling with fickle weather while raising the grain, should receive so much less than the speculator who traded in it.
And yet the consuming public was paying in many cases, far more than the goods were worth, even allowing a generous profit to both producer and middleman.
He was not certain he wanted to continue in the employ of Henry Morland. He remembered the excitement in the office when Mr. Morland, in a tremendous bear campaign, had hammered down the price of corn to the lowest price in three years. The farmers had suffered, the consumers had not benefited, but Mr. Morland had profited enormously.
In his mind's eye he saw his father working under great difficulties, with insufficient help, winter and summer, at the mercy of droughts and rains, producing by the sweat of his brow the necessities of life, and then he saw Mr. Morland garnering the fruits of those labors.
In these brooding hours Tom found a mournful pleasure in thinking of home and of what they were doing down there.
What a mess he had made of things in the city! And, beneath the tinsel of city gaiety, what disillusionments! Selfishness, greed, ostentation, duplicity, cutthroat business methods, crafty evasions of the law, crime flourishing in the face of official complacence or connivance!
In Tom's frame of mind, the farm, with all its hard work, seemed glorified in comparison and the farmer who creates useful wealth from the ground gained a new dig