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One Man’s Fortunes
by [?]

“Why, how de do, Bert, how are you? Glad to see you back. I hear you have been astonishing them up at college.”

Halliday’s reverie had been so suddenly broken into that for a moment, the young fellow’s identity wavered elusively before his mind and then it materialized, and his consciousness took hold of it. He remembered him, not as an intimate, but as an acquaintance whom he had often met upon the football and baseball fields.

“How do you do? It’s Bob Dickson,” he said, shaking the proffered hand, which at the mention of the name, had grown unaccountably cold in his grasp.

“Yes, I’m Mr. Dickson,” said the young man, patronizingly. “You seem to have developed wonderfully, you hardly seem like the same Bert Halliday I used to know.”

“Yes, but I’m the same Mr. Halliday.”

“Oh–ah–yes,” said the young man, “well, I’m glad to have seen you. Ah–good-bye, Bert.”

“Good-bye, Bob.”

“Presumptuous darky!” murmured Mr. Dickson.

“Insolent puppy!” said Mr. Halliday to himself.

But the incident made no impression on his mind as bearing upon his status in the public eye. He only thought the fellow a cad, and went hopefully on. He was rather amused than otherwise. In this frame of mind, he turned into one of the large office-buildings that lined the street and made his way to a business suite over whose door was the inscription, “H.G. Featherton, Counsellor and Attorney-at-Law.” Mr. Featherton had shown considerable interest in Bert in his school days, and he hoped much from him.

As he entered the public office, a man sitting at the large desk in the centre of the room turned and faced him. He was a fair man of an indeterminate age, for you could not tell whether those were streaks of grey shining in his light hair, or only the glint which it took on in the sun. His face was dry, lean and intellectual. He smiled now and then, and his smile was like a flash of winter lightning, so cold and quick it was. It went as suddenly as it came, leaving the face as marbly cold and impassive as ever. He rose and extended his hand, “Why–why–ah–Bert, how de do, how are you?”

“Very well, I thank you, Mr. Featherton.”

“Hum, I’m glad to see you back, sit down. Going to stay with us, you think?”

“I’m not sure, Mr. Featherton; it all depends upon my getting something to do.”

“You want to go to work, do you? Hum, well, that’s right. It’s work makes the man. What do you propose to do, now since you’ve graduated?”

Bert warmed at the evident interest of his old friend. “Well, in the first place, Mr. Featherton,” he replied, “I must get to work and make some money. I have heard of fellows studying and supporting themselves at the same time, but I musn’t expect too much. I’m going to study law.”

The attorney had schooled his face into hiding any emotion he might feel, and it did not betray him now. He only flashed one of his quick cold smiles and asked,

“Don’t you think you’ve taken rather a hard profession to get on in?”

“No doubt. But anything I should take would be hard. It’s just like this, Mr. Featherton,” he went on, “I am willing to work and to work hard, and I am not looking for any snap.”

Mr. Featherton was so unresponsive to this outburst that Bert was ashamed of it the minute it left his lips. He wished this man would not be so cold and polite and he wished he would stop putting the ends of his white fingers together as carefully as if something depended upon it.

“I say the law is a hard profession to get on in, and as a friend I say that it will be harder for you. Your people have not the money to spend in litigation of any kind.”

“I should not cater for the patronage of my own people alone.”