AFTER leaving Mary in West 70th Street, the night he had abandoned the paternal roof, Rodney, still in his taxicab, was whirled down, alone and in a perfect dream of happiness, to the Harvard Club, where he planned to spend his first night. If love’s young dream meets with rude awakenings, the dream is glorious while it lasts. Rodney chatted awhile with a few of the fellows who dropped into the pleasant room, and even drank one mild high ball before he went to bed, but his head swam with a far more powerful stimulant than rye or Scotch. He listened to his companion’s chatter in a mellow and golden mood, and finally went upstairs and turned in with a kindly feeling toward all the world. No one would have dreamed that he had just been cast out of his father’s house, and faced work for the first time in his life.
He lay in his strange bed and reviewed the events of this hectic evening long before he closed his eyes in sleep, the memory of Mary’s kisses making everything warm and rosy. Through if all he recalled his father’s harsh words with curie ous insistence to. And how had he, Rodney, acted, he wondered, through it all, and what had Mary thought of him?
So far as his own inclinations had run there was no doubt in the boy’s mind what he would do, he had said to himself decisively, when his father spoke. If this was a bluff on his father’s part he would call it promptly. The next time the old man asked Johnson where ” Mr. Rodney ” was, Mr. Rodney ” would be out – gone, never to return.
He had skipped upstairs to his room, two steps at a time, and begun flinging things out of drawers and chiffoniers. What trunk should he take? That new Vuitton he had had made in Paris last summer, ” before the war”? No, he could send for that later, and besides he didn’t want to stay away from Mary any longer than he could help. He wouldn’t take all his things just now : he would leave a good many behind, so that his father would be sorry if he ever came into his room again after his baby boy was gone. He would not take a trunk at all now, just his kit bag. Where was that kit bag? Johnson would know.
He started to ring for Johnson and then checked himself. He would not say anything to the servants yet. He didn’t want them to be a party to this painful scene. He would leave them misinformed, and keep his father guessing a little while. He would go and get that kit bag himself. It was in the garret most likely.
He had sneaked up the narrow garret staircase, the boards creaking now and then beneath his tread, just as they used to do when he was a child. A flood of old, odd memories swept over him as the attic door opened. There was the old hobby horse, life size, that had been given him when he was a kid, its right flank badly moth eaten now, and one glass eye removed by time or the hard knocks of fate. Not far away was an eleemosynary portrait of his mother, which had never looked like her, and had not been tolerated in her lifetime, though now his father threatened intermittently to dig it out and bring it downstairs again. Under the eaves he spied his kit bag, covered with dust. He dragged at it, and a pile of magazines and odds and ends of books fell forward across his arms. One of them was a battered cash book or old diary,. bound with a black and white back, and with many recipes written in a refined feminine hand on its blank pages. Rodney remembered this well; it was a real heirloom from the Earles, his mother’s people, who had prided themselves on “setting a good table.” Rodney sat down on his dusted kit bag and turned over the yellowing pages idly. Some of the recipes were in an even older hand than his mother’shis grandmother’s, or his maiden aunts’ probablyand now and then, in his mother’s hand again, there would be a comment written in the margin ” Very choice,” or ” Extra good,” or “Well worth trying.” When the regime of the French chef had begun in the Martin kitchen this old volume had been banished to the attic, so it seemed, but Rodney remembered it well. The recipes for these tasty old dishes looked good just the same. Rodney decided to tuck the book in with his own things, a venial theft, and put it by some day for himself and Mary. They certainly did sound good. ” Old Farrington meat pie,” ” Hannah Earle’s gold and silver cake,” ” Susan Pitcher’s Everlasting Fruit Cake.” Yes, he would take it. And here was a formula even for soap, and in his mother’s hand, or his grandmother’she could not be sure whichwas the quaint marginal note: ” The cheapest soap in the world : Unlucky for dirt.” And so he had pitched the old book into the bag, stolen down the attic stairs again, and bounded, dusty kit bag and all, into the little waiting room where Mary sat-
And she had let him hug her the first taste of the bliss to come. How sweet and wonderful she was.
When he woke in the morning he rubbed his eyes a moment in bewilderment at his unaccustomed surroundings. And immediately the memory of Mary Grayson swept over him again, fresh and undimmed. Somehow it was a surprise to him, but a gratification, too, to be just as much in love in the morning, before breakfast, as he had been the night before. He sang as he jumped beneath the shower bath across the hall, and hummed and sang as he dressed and went down to breakfast. He would call up Mary on the telephone before she got away to the office. And, by the way, he had an idea to tell her too. He was going to make soap, like his father. The old cook book had given him the idea. He left his coffee scarcely tasted and flew to a booth.
” Well, Mary,” ,he shouted through the receiver, which smelt of cigarettes, ” did you know I’d lost my job? ”
” Yes,” said Mary’s voice at a distance. ” I suppose I shall lose mine, too, if I don’t give you up.
” We should be friends in need then,” bawled Rodney at his end.
“Oh, Rodney, I’m so sorry,” said Mary.
” Gout’s an awful thing, isn’t it? ” shouted Rodney.
” Oh, Rodney! I’m afraid I’ve spoiled every-thing for you your future.”
“Nonsense, you’ve made my future. Without you I’d never have got the idea the big idea.” ” Idea for what? ”
“The idea to make money out of that’s all you need and, just think, I found it in an old book ”
” What idea what book? ”
” It’s a cookbook.”
” What on earth ? ”
” Well., you see when I was packing, I stumbled across an old family cook book. It fell open at a certain page fate was on the jobit was a hunch ”
” But what is it? ”
“It’s an old family recipe for making cheap soap. It says it’s the cheapest soap in the world. Cheaper even than the manufacturers make it. I’m going into the soap business.”
“Sure father didlook at the money he made. Why shouldn’t I?”
” You’re joking ”
” I’m in dead earnest I’m going to buck the trust ”
“But how can you?”
” I don’t know, but I will. You see I’ll have all the popular sympathy independent young son of soap king fights father don’t buy from the trust.”
” But is that very nice to your father? ”
” Has he been very nice to me? It’s great.Down with monopoly.- Hurrah for the people
I’ve heard political speeches like thatHurrah for the people’s soap; that isn’t a bad name either the People’s Soap.”
” But you haven’t any capital.”
” I never thought of that,” Rodney answered dejectedly.
” You’d need a lot of money, too.”
” Well,” Rodney said, ” wellI-ll just have to get it, that’s all, and you’ll be my secretary. Of course, till I’d made big money I shouldn’t ordinarily have thought of taking you away from father ”
” Rodney, you must stop talking, or you’ll go stony broke with this long call,” yelled Mary.
” Well, when can I see you again?” Rodney persisted.
” I shall be at the office till three,” said Mary. ” I’ll drop in. Father may be home with the gout,” Rodney answered.
Rodney hung up the receiver and turned away wonderful voice in the world? If Mary would come and work with him, then everything would be different. How could she go on with the old man after the way he’d treated his son? If she came with him, Rodney, he should have her near him, see her every day, hear her voice. He didn’t care whether he succeeded or not; but then he would succeed, with the inspiration of his love for her to spur him on.
Of course the old man was throwing a kind of bluff, thought Rodney; he wouldn’t really allow his son to land in the workhouse, or starve to death. But the old man would carry things through with a high hand, too, and in the end it would come to the same net result in discomfort and the long wait for Mary. He must work very, very hard: — oh, so hard. He took out a cigarette, and lit it, finding a quiet seat near the 44th Street window to sit down and think things over. There was no use getting excited: on the contrary there was every reason to keep cool. He armed him-self with a newspaper, so that he could occasion-ally hold it up and ward off unwelcome chatterers who might disturb his train of thought. The armament was not modern enough, however, to repel the attack of the alert young man who presently came and peered over the top of his Sun.
The sight of Peale’s keen and eager face took Rodney back two years at a jump. The two boys had met one night in the lobby of a Boston theater, under circumstances that would have been peculiar and unconventional a hundred miles from a college town. The occasion had been an egg-fight, not between Rodney and Ambrose Peale, but between the audience and the stage. It had been a very lively and savory affair indeed, quite efficiently carried through by the college students scattered out in front; what might, in fact, have been called an old comedy revival, since the good old days of egg-throwing, when audiences had been wont to demonstrate their disfavor by hurling well chosen but badly preserved missiles and projectiles across the foot-lights, had till then, and for many years, enjoyed disuse in Boston, like stage soliloquies in the modern drama. It had been a college play, and had seemed to the student observers of it so lacking in verisimilitude that they had set up a counter demonstration in front, to show probably what real college life was like. Rodney had not thrown any eggs himself, because he had forgotten to bring any with him, a circumstance which was the saving of him, for it had been noted by Peale, the manager of the piece, and brought him to the rescue. Peale had been very decent to him, and kept him out of jail, thereby saving him numerous cuts, unlike the other fellows who had been duly haled before the Dean and suspended, besides figuring salaciously in the headlines of the Boston papers. Some of the more luckless ones even were featured under their own names. Al-together it was one of those specially illuminated moments of a fellow’s life from which the impressions are long retained. Of course he remembered Ambrose Peale.
Mr. Peale vowed he had been looking for Rodney for a week, but with no success.
” Very mysterious about you up on the Avenue yesterday,” he said. ” What’s up? ”
” Just a little family row,” said Rodney. ” What’s your line now? ”
” Well, I’m still in the show business,” said Peale. ” Ever see the ` Belle of Broadway ‘? Great show, great girls, great cast.”
” Oh, are you an actor?” asked Rodney carelessly.
” An actor? I should say not,” said Peale scornfully. ” I’m a press agent.”
” Oh! I see,” said Rodney.
” But say,” rattled Peale ; ” be sure to catch that show. It may leave town soon out of town bookings, you know but remember the name, “Belle of Broadway.’ ”
” I’ve heard of it,” said Rodney.
” Well, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve been looking for you to talk business with you. Shall I blaze away? ” asked Peale.
” Business? Surely, surely,” rejoined Rodney, with an inward wink. ” I’m a business man now. Blaze away, as you say.”
Ambrose Peale was one of those young Americans for whom a special series of new words has been minted. He was a hustler and he certainly was breezy; he was a live wire and he had the gift of the gab. He was not born yesterday and he would never really grow old. He turned up everywhere, like a bad penny, which nevertheless rang true. He had even taken a special course at Harvard for a time to get next to ” that college stuff,” he had explained, and he occupied the seat next to the soap king’s son at the club now in his own divine right.
” Well, well,” said Peale, reminiscently, ” I could see at once you weren’t an egg thrower, but I wouldn’t have blamed you anyhow. It was a rotten show.”
” Like the eggs? ” put in Rodney, smiling.
” Absolutely,” said Peale. ” Now I’m not much on handing myself flowers across the foot-lights, but do you happen to remember what I did for you?”
” You fixed things up with the chief of police,” said Rodney, ” and kept me from being expelled.”
” By George, you do remember,” Peale echoed. ” And you said any time you could do anything for me ”
” That’s still true,” said Rodney.
” You’re immense, son. Now, it’s this way –Have a chair Between you and me ` The Belle of Broadway’ is an awful thing. Business gone to pot something’s got to be done. Some great stuff pulled off to give it a boost and that’s where you come in. That’s my business with you.”
” With me?” said Rodney.
” You’ve got an aeroplane, haven’t you?” inquired Peale plaintively.
” Yesbut ” began Rodney. ” Let’s go upstairs then,” he added as an afterthought.
He knew Peale of old, and that if he got started there was nothing that could hush his voice for other members. In the big room in the 44th Street side upstairs they would be unmolested at this hour of the morning. In a few days Rodney too would be among the army to whom club rooms at this hour were unfamiliar haunts. Peale followed him in a docile manner. Time and place were no objects to Ambrose Peale. He just talked straight ahead in all places and seasons. There was something hypnotic and persuasive about him when he got started. He did not bother with rhetorical flourishes, or putting ” expression ” into his speeches, but just hit out keenly at his mark.
” Then everything’s all right,” said Peale eagerly, ” Now you abduct the leading lady Julie Clark tomorrow night, in your aeroplane elope with her.”
” Sure ! Some stunt, too. Never been done. Julia’s all for it. She’s game for any press gag ”
But I couldn’t do such a thing as that,” protested Rodney.
” Certainly you can,” said Peale. ” I’m telling you Julia’ll stand for it a bird of a story.Why you’re up in the air with the leading lady. The next night standing room only to catch a look at the girl you’re stuck on. I can see the headlines now : Soap King’s Son Takes New Star Among the Stars with Flashlights ”
” But it’s out of the question,” said Rodney.
“.What’s the matter with it? ” demanded Peale.
I wouldn’t do it that’s all.”
” Gee, that’s tough on me,” sighed Peale.
” I’m not backing down from helping you,” said Rodney, ” but there’s some one who might object.”
” A girl? ” asked Peale acutely.
” I guess it’s cold,” Peale concluded; ” girls are funny about their beaux doing a little innocent thing like eloping with some other girl.”
” Why don’t you try somebody else? ” suggested Rodney.
” I have! You were my last card. Well, I’m fired! ” said Peale with an air of finality.
It was a stunt that would have kept things going, he protested; but now, well, the show was so bad that people wouldn’t even go to see it on a pass. They would have to close Saturday, and as for Ambrose Peale, he was out. Rodney did not believe that an obvious faked up lie like that would have done any good, he said; he’d feel very uncomfortable at not being able to oblige an old friend, otherwise.
” I know it’s advertising,” he said, ” but”
” You bet it’s advertising,” began Peale, warming up. ” What made Anna Held? Milk baths.What made Gaby Deslys? — A dago king.”
” But that sort of advertising can’t be of real value,” said Rodney, negligently.
” Oh, you’re one of those wise guys who don’t believe in advertising, are you?” said Peale, ex-postulating and expounding. ” Now don’t get me talking advertising. That’s where I live, where I have my town house and country estate, my yacht and motors. That’s my home. Maybe you think love is important. Pife ! Advertising, my boy; the power of suggestion, the psychology of print. Say a thing often enough – hard enough and the other chap’ll not only believe you, he’ll think it’s his own idea; and he’ll fight for it. Some old gink, a professor of psychology, showed forty Vassar girls, the other day, two samples of satin, one blue, one pink same grade same value same artistic worth. One he described as a delicate warm old rose the other he called a faded blue. He asked them to choose their favorite. Girls picked the old rose. Why? Because they’d been told it was warm and delicate no faded blue for theirs. What did it? Power of suggestion advertising.”
Rodney listened amazed and amused. Peale was off and away now at a rapid clip.
” You seem to know something about it,” Rodney said aloud.
” I not only seem to I do,” Peale agreed. ” You heard me say a few minutes ago to that fellow downstairs that ` The Belle of Broadway was the biggest hit in town. Ask him to go to the theater, give him his choice, and I’ll bet you four dollars to a fried egg he picks the Belle of Broadway. Advertising ! ”
” I don’t believe it,” Rodney protested.
” Well, try it. And say, what makes you go to the theater yourself? I’ll tell you it’s what you’ve read about the play, or what some fellow’s told you.”
” Why, I suppose that’s true,” said Rodney, beginning to be convinced a little.
” And what he tells you some other guy has told him. Ninety-seven per cent. of the public believe what they’re told, and what they’re told is what the other chap’s been told; and the fellow who told him read it somewhere. When you see a thing in print about something you don’t really know anything about, you come pretty near believing it. And all the advertiser has to do is to tell you right and you’ll fall ”
” But I never read advertisements,” said Rodney.
” Oh, you don’t eh? If I say fifty-seven varieties you know it means pickles. I guess you’ve got some idea that ` His Master’s Voice’ advertises a phonograph. You’re on to what soap ` It floats’ refers to. There’s a Reason Uneeda All the News That’s Fit to Print Quaker Oats Children Cry for It — Grape Nuts Peruna The Road of Anthracite –Spearmint Pierce-Arrow Kodak Mumm’s Gold Dust Twins He Won’t Be Happy Till He Gets It Bull Durham Pianola Cuticura Clysmic — Steinway Coca Cola The Watch That Made the Dollar Famous. I sup-pose you don’t know what any of them mean.”
” Why, I know what they all mean,” said Rodney much amused.
” You bet you do. Say what kind of garters do you wear? ”
” Why, let me see Boston,” said Rodney.
” Exactly,” said Peale. ” What do you know about ‘em ? Nothing. Are they any better than any other garter? You don’t know I don’t know, but all my life every magazine I’ve ever looked into has had a picture of a man’s leg with a certain kind of garter on it Boston. So when I go into a store to buy a pair of garters I just naturally say, Boston, so do you. What do you know about Mennen’s Talcum Powder ? Nothing, except that it has the picture of the homeliest man in the world on the box, and it’s so impressed your imagination you just mechanically order Mennen’s. If I say to you E. & W. you don’t think it’s a corset, do you? If I say C. B. you don’t think it’s a collar. And what about the well known and justly famous B. V. D.’s? You don’t read advertisements? Rot! ”
” But” said Rodney.
” No ` but ‘ about it,” answered Peale. ” Advertising’s responsible for everything. When Bryan advertised the Grape Juice Highball, do you know that its sale went up six hundred and fifty-two gallons a day? ”
” You don’t really mean it? ”
” I do.”
” But sic hundred and fifty-two gallons. How do you know it was six hundred and fifty-two? asked Rodney.
” I’ll let you into a little secret,” confided Peale. ” I don’t know a damned thing about grape juice and as long as my health and strength keep up, I hope I never shall but if I said I’d read in a newspaper that the sale had gone up six hundred and fifty-two gallons you wouldn’t have doubted it, would you?”
” No, I suppose I shouldn’t,” Rodney agreed.
” And you’d have told somebody else, and he’d have believed you too,” went on Peale. “The other day at Atlantic City one of the Show girls asked me how much it cost to light Young’s Pier. I told her six hundred and forty-seven dollars a night. The next day three girls wanted to know if I knew the amazing fact that it cost six hundred and forty-seven dollars to light Young’s Pier. I said I did.”
“But does it cost that? ” inquired Rodney.
” How do I know? ” said Peale. ” But don’t you see they believed what they were told? So do you so do I – so do all the other dubs. Say do you drink much ? ”
” No,” said Rodney, thinking of Mary.
” Can you tell the difference between a vintage wine and last year’s champagne? ” demanded Peale. ” Sure you can it costs more. Son, the world is full of bunk. Ninety-seven per cent. of the people are sheep and you can get ‘em all by advertising.”
” You are gradually making me come to the conclusion that you believe in publicity,” said Rodney politely.
” Believe in it! It’s my life,” cried Peale. ” What kind of eggs do you eat? ”
” Why hen’s eggs of course,” Rodney laughed.
” Did you ever eat a duck egg? ” asked Peale. ” Why, no,” said Rodney. ” At any rate, not often.”
Do you know anything against the duck? ” ” No.”
” Exactly. When a duck lays an egg it’s a damn fool and keeps quiet about it, but when a hen does my boy : Cluck cluck, all over the place. Advertising. So you eat hen’s eggs.”
” You’re beginning to convince me,” laughed Rodney.
“That’s advertising too,” said Peale- ” Say, are you for Roosevelt or against him?”
” I’m for him strong,” said Rodney.
” I’m against him,” said Peale. ” I read one paper, you read another. I think he’s a fakir, you think he’s a great man. But do either of us really know anything about him except what we’ve ‘read? Have you ever met Roosevelt or talked to him or known anybody who did know him? I haven’t, but the point is, whatever we may think, good or bad, we’ve heard a lot about him, because he’s the best advertiser in the world. And that, my son, is the whole secret of it., Get ‘em talking about you. Get ‘em praising if you can, or get ‘em cussing, but for the love of Heaven don’t let ‘em be quiet. Mention your name. Have ‘em argue about you. Boost or knock. Be a hero or a villain, but don’t be a dub. Why, give me a little money and a few pages of advertising, and I can sell you shares in the Atlantic Ocean.”
Rodney was beginning to get excited with all this advertising talk, and an idea began to shape itself in the back of his head.
” You really believe that with proper advertising, you could build up a great business? ” he asked.
“Believe I Look around you. Everything’s doing it,” declared Peale.
” And you are out of a job? ” went on Rodney. ” Unless you do the aero-elopement, yes,” said Peale.
” Then you’re out of it. Do you want to work for me?”
When can you begin? ”
” What’s your salary? ” asked Rodney, the new business man.
” I’ve been getting sixty dollars, but I’m worth seventy-five,” said Peale quickly.
” I’ll give you a hundred,” Rodney told him. ” What’s your business counterfeiting? ” asked Peale skeptically.
” No, it’s ” began Rodney.
” Don’t tell me,” Peale interrupted. ” As long as it don’t send me to State’s prison or the chair, it’s all right. Could I have about twenty-five dollars advance on salary now? ”
” Is that customary? ” inquired Rodney. ” It is with me,” declared Peale.
” Oh, all right,” said Rodney, handing him the money.
” Just as an evidence of good faith,” Peale explained, counting the crisp bills. ” Well, now, I’m working for you. What business are you in? ” he began again.
” The soap business,” said Rodney boldly.
” Nice clean business. With father?” asked Peale, grinning.
” Against him,” explained Rodney.
” Oh,” said Peale.
Rodney reminded him that he and his father had had a quarrel, and Peale agreed very sympathetically that fathers were very unreasonable these days.
” I’m going to fight the soap trust,” said Rodney; ” Well, you’ve picked out a nice refined job.
How long have you been at it? ” asked Peale. ” Twenty minutes.”
” How’s it going? ”
” Fine, since I got an idea from you.”
” They grow all over me help yourself,” said Peale.
” I’m going to get a factory, and advertise like the very dickens,” said Rodney. ” Soap King’s son fights father. And licks him too by George.”
” Wait a minute, wait a minute,” Peale cornmented. ” Do you know why your father is the soap king? ”
” I suppose because he controls all the soap business in the country, except Ivory,” said Rodney.
” Exactly; and the way he keeps control of it is by buying out all his live competitors. And now here’s a blue ribbon champion of the world scheme. Why don’t we make good and sell out to father?”
” No, I don’t care to do that I want to make good myself,” said Rodney.
” Well, if father is forced to buy you out, isn’t that enough? . What do you want? ” asked Peale.
” I’ve got to be a success on my own I’ve got to show father, and— Miss Grayson,” explained Rodney.
The name of Mary gave him courage to say this, and mean it too. His father may not have turned him out in good earnest, but Rodney began to hope he had; began to long for the time when he could show his mettle. He must show Mary as well as his father; and so he had no difficulty ‘now in talking up to Peale. He went on now to explain :
” You see father says I can’t earn five dollars a week.”
” He isn’t right, is he? ” queried Peale anxiously.,
” No, sir, you’ll see,” Rodney answered proudly.
” I hope so,” said Peale drily.: ” At that, it’s a pretty tough job selling soap if father’s against us.” ” I suppose it is,” Rodney agreed
I’ll tell you. Why riot make such a hit he’ll just have to back you? ”
” That sounds good. We’ll do it,” said Rodney.
” Stick to me, kid, and you’ll wear rubies,” chanted Peale with a little swagger.
” Now that’s settled. We’re going to lick father,” said Rodney.
” Yes, that’s settled. What do I do? ” asked Peale.
You write the ads that make us.”
” It’s my chance,” cried Peale enthusiastically. ” Just think ! I’ll never have to see ` The Belle of Broadway’ again. I’ll write ads, I’ll conduct a campaign that’ll keep your father awake, and in three months at the most he’ll be begging for a chance to back us.”
At that moment, with the vision of Mary floating before his eyes, Rodney felt that the worst of fate was already conquered. It was Ambrose Peale who brought him down to soap and actuality. What was the name of the soap, this enterprising agent wanted to know. What was there about it that made it different from any other
soap? What could there be about one soap that was different from another soap? Where did the idea come from?
When poor Rodney trotted out the story of the cook book, Peale wanted to know if he was ” kid-ding him,” but grew less skeptical when he heard all there was to hear about the cheapest soap in the world. It was a good line, he said, the cheapest soap. How could they use it? he inquired, pausing and thinking deeply, while Rodney was lost in business meditation too.
Suddenly Rodney called out:
” Peale, I’ve got an entirely different idea.”
” Well, don’t be selfish. Share it with me,” said his partner.
” Why do the people jam the cabarets where they only serve champagne,” began Rodney excitedly. ” Why do they crowd the restaurants where they put up a rope to keep you out? Why do they sit in the sixteenth row in the orchestra when they could have the third row in the balcony? Why do they buy imported clothes? Why do they ride in French automobiles? Because they’re better? No, because they’re expensive; because they cost more money. So all the sheep think they ought to be better. My boy listen ` the most expensive soap in the world’ ! ”
” My boy, I could kiss you,” cried Peale delightedly. ” A pupil after my own heart fifty cents a cake,” cried Peale.
” A dollar, and we’ll make it a warm delicate old rose,” sang Rodney.
” Each cake in a separate box, with a paper rose on the lid,” said Peale. ” But what shall we call it? ”
” Old rose,” suggested Rodney, after a moment. ” Rotten doesn’t mean anything,” rejected Peale.
” Let’s think,”‘ said Rodney.
” I am thinking. I never stop,” said Peale.
” The soap that made Pittsburg clean,” said Rodney.
” Too long, and no good anyway because Pittsburg isn’t clean. You need something catchy.”
” I had an idea a while ago,” said Rodney; ” the People’s Soap.”
” Not if you’re going to catch the rich boobs,” said Peale.
” That’s true,” assented Rodney.
” We need something that’s universally appealing. What is it?” began Peale.
Love,” said Rodney, his thoughts flying up town where he had seen Mary last.
” Slush,” said Peale.
Money,” suggested Rodney, still thinking of Mary.
” No,” cried Peale suddenly, ” I’ve got it Superstition Everybody’s superstitious.” ” Rot I’m not,” argued Rodney.
“No, of course you’re not,” said Peale. ” I say, there’s a bit of luck for us right at the start a pin with the head toward you.”
Rodney stooped to pick it up.
” See, you were going to pick it up,” chuckled Peale. ” Everybody is superstitious. Oh, they say they’re not, just as you did, but did you ever meet a guy who, if he didn’t mind walking under a ladder, didn’t hate to spill salt? Or else he wanted to see the moon over his right shoulder, or he picked up pins, or carried a lucky coin, or wouldn’t do things on Friday? Why, the whole world’s superstitious. Get something on that, and you hit everybody. I got eighty-six horseshoes home myself. I never saw a gink that would sit thirteen at table. We’re all crazy.”
They paused and thought again.
Could they? No. Suppose they didWhat? No. They paused and thought again.
Then suddenly Rodney remembered the legend in the old cook book, and cried. out:
” Wait, wait! Listen ! Listen close. The 13 Soap. Unlucky for Dirt.”
” Son,” said Peale, coming over and kissing Rodney chastely on the brow, ” it’s all over. The old man’ll be on his knees in a month.”
” We open the office Monday,” Rodney sang out.
” Where’s the office?” Peale inquired.
” Let’s get one,” said Rodney.
” With furniture and everything,” said Peale; ” and say you’d better call up your tailor and order a couple of business suits.”
After this manner began the business of the great Soap Company, which was to bring the Soap King Cyrus Martin to his knees and make Rodney a rich man in his own right so he could marry Mary Grayson.