In Each Other's Shoes
by George Parsons Lathrop
John Crombie had taken a room at the new apartment building, The Lorne;
having advanced so far in his experience of New York as to be aware that
if he could once establish himself in a house associated by name with
foreign places and titles his chance of securing "position" would be
greatly increased. He did not, however, take his meals in the expensive
café of that establishment, finding it more economical to go to an
outlandish little French restaurant, some distance away, which had been
nicknamed among those of his acquaintance who resorted to it, "The Fried
Cat." This designation, based on a supposed resemblance to the name of
the proprietor, Fricat, was also believed to have value as a sarcasm.
It was with no pleasant sensations, therefore, that Crombie, waking on a
gray and drizzling morning of November, remembered that he must hie him
to the "Fried Cat" for an early breakfast. He was in a hurry that day;
he had a great deal to do. His room was very small and dark; he bounced
up and dressed himself, in an obscure sort of way, surreptitiously
opening the door and reaching vaguely for his shoes, which stood just
outside, ready blacked. Nor did it add to his comfort to know that the
shoes were very defective as to their soles, and would admit the water
freely from the accumulated puddles of the sidewalks. In fact, he had
been ashamed to expose their bad condition to the porter when he put
them out every night, as he was forced to do, since they were his only
pair. Drawing them on hastily, in order to conceal his mortification
from even his own mind, he sallied forth; and though at the moment of
putting them on a dim sense of something unfamiliar crossed his mind, it
was not until he reached "The Fried Cat" that he became fully aware that
he had carried off some one else's shoes. He turned up the soles,
privately, underneath the low-hanging table-cloth, and by a brief
examination convinced himself that the gaiters did not belong to him.
The test was simple: his feet were unaccountably dry, and there were
none of those breaks in the lower surface of their leather covering
which he had so often been obliged to contemplate.
He saw at once that the porter of The Lorne had made a mistake, and must
have deposited at another apartment his own very insufficient foot-gear;
but there was no chance now to remedy the confusion. Crombie had barely
time to reach the office where he was employed.
On an ordinary occasion he would perhaps have gone back to The Lorne and
effected an honorable exchange. This particular day, however, was by no
means an ordinary occasion. Crombie had made up his mind to take a
momentous step; and it was therefore essential that he should appear at
his desk exactly on time.
He was a clerk in an important engraving company. For several years he
had occupied that post, without any opportunity having presented itself
for a promotion. At the best, even should he rise, what could he expect?
To be cashier, perhaps, or possibly, under exceptional circumstances, a
confidential private secretary. This prospect did not satisfy him; he
was determined to strike for something higher.
It will naturally be inferred that he was ambitious. I am not in a
position to deny this; but all I can be certain of is, that he was in
love—which is often about the same thing.
Several times at The Lorne he had met in the hallways or in the elevator
a young lady, who was in no small degree beautiful, and charmed him
still more by her general presence, which conveyed the idea of a
harmonious and lovely character. She had light hair and blue eyes, but
these outward attributes were joined with a serenity and poise of manner
that indicated greater stability than is attributed, as a rule, to
individuals of her type.
Once he happened to arrive at the main entrance just as this vision of
beauty emerged to take her place in a coupé which was waiting by the
curbstone. She dropped her card-case upon the sidewalk, and Crombie's
heart throbbed with delight as he picked it up, gave it to her, and
received her smiling thanks for his little service. Another time, as he
was descending in the elevator, a door opposite the shaft, on the second
floor, stood open, and he caught a glimpse of the apartment to which it
gave access. The room was finished in soft tints, and was full of
upholstery and hangings that lent it a dim golden atmosphere. In the
middle of it stood the young girl, clad in the palest blue, above which
her hair shone like a golden cloud on some dim evening sky.
Slight occurrences of this sort had affected him. He learned that she
was the daughter of Littimer, the rich, widowed banker: her name was
In these new, stout shoes that did not belong to him Crombie trod with a
buoyancy and assurance strongly in contrast with the limp and
half-hearted pace to which his old, shabby gaiters had formerly inclined
him. He rattled down the stairs of the elevated station with an alacrity
almost bumptious; and the sharp, confident step that announced his
entrance into the company's office made the other clerks quite ashamed
of their own want of spirit.
He worked at his desk until noon; but when the bells of Trinity rang
twelve in solemn music over the busy streets, he dropped his pen, walked
with a decisive air the length of the room, and, opening a door at the
other end, presented himself before Mr. Blatchford, the treasurer, who
was also an influential director.
"Crombie, eh? Well, what is it?"
"I want to speak with you a moment, sir."
"Anything important? I'm busy."
"Yes, sir; quite important—to me. Possibly it may be to you."
"Fire away, then; but cut it short." Mr. Blatchford's dense, well-combed
gray side-whiskers were directed toward the young man in an aggressive
way, as if they had been some sort of weapon.
Crombie nonchalantly settled himself in a chair, at ease.
"I am tired of being a clerk," he said. "I'm going to be a director in
"I guess you're going to be an inmate of a lunatic asylum," Mr.
Blatchford remarked, with astonished cheerfulness.
"That seems as unlikely to me as the other thing does to you," said
Hereupon Mr. Blatchford became sarcastically deferential. "And just
about when do you propose to become a director?" he asked.
"In the course of a month. The election, I believe, takes place in
"Quite right," said his senior, whose urbanity was meant to be crushing.
"Meanwhile, you will need leisure to attend to this little matter.
Suppose I oblige you by saying that the company has no further need of
"Suppose you do. What then?"
Mr. Blatchford gave way to his anger. "What then? Why, then you would
have to go; that's all. You would be thrown out of employment. You would
have to live on your principal, as long as there was any; and afterward
you would be obliged to find some other work, or beg, or borrow, or—"
"That's enough," said Crombie, rising with dignity.
"No, it isn't," the treasurer declared, "for you don't seem to
understand even now. I discharge you, Mr. Crombie, on the company's
behalf, and you may leave this office at once."
Crombie bowed and went out. "I'm going to be a director, all the same,"
he told Mr. Blatchford before he closed the door. Then he collected the
few articles that belonged to him from his desk, and departed, a free
man. He had his future to himself; or else he had no future worth
speaking of; he wasn't sure which. Nevertheless, he felt quite happy.
Such a result as this had seemed to him, in the prospect, hardly
possible; but now that it had arrived he was not discomfited. Unbounded
courage seemed to rise from the stout soles of the alien boots,
percolating through his whole system. He was surprised at himself. He
had intended to use more diplomacy with Mr. Blatchford, and it was no
joke to him to lose his place. But instead of feeling despondent, or
going at once in search of new employment, he cheerfully went about
making calls on several gentlemen who, he thought, might be induced to
aid in his ambitious project. His manner was that of a person sure of
his powers and enjoying a well-earned leisure. It had its effect. Two or
three stockholders of the company joined in agreeing with him that
improved methods could be introduced into its management, and that it
would be a good thing to have in the board, say, two young, fresh,
active men—of whom Crombie, by reason of his experience and training,
should be one.
"I own a little stock," said the deposed clerk, who had taken the
precaution to obtain a couple of shares by great effort in saving.
"Besides, not having any other engrossing interests at present, I could
give my whole attention to the company's affairs."
"Quite so," said the merchant whom he was addressing, comfortably. "We
must see if we can get together a majority; no time to be lost, you
"No, sir. I shall go right to work; and perhaps you will speak to some
of your friends, and give me some names."
"Certainly. Come in again pretty soon; will you?"
Crombie saw that he had a good foundation to build upon already.
Blatchford was not popular, even among the other directors; and sundry
stockholders, as well as people having business with the company, had
conceived a strong dislike of him on account of his overbearing manners.
Therefore it would not be hard to enlist sympathy for a movement
obnoxious to him. But it was imperative that the self-nominated
candidate should acquire more of the stock; and to do this capital must
be had. Crombie did not see quite how it was to be got; he had no
sufficient influence with the bankers.
The afternoon was nearly spent, and he trudged up-town, thinking of the
ways and means. But though the problem was far from solved, he still
continued in a state of extraordinary buoyancy. Those shoes, those
shoes! He was so much impressed by their comfort and the service they
had done him in making a good appearance that he resolved to get a new
pair of his own. He stopped and bought them; then kept on toward The
Lorne, carrying his purchase under his arm without embarrassment. The
cold drizzle had ceased, and the sunset came out clear and golden,
dipping its bright darts into the shallow pools of wet on the pavement,
and somehow mingling with his financial dreams a dream of that fair hair
that gave a glory to Miss Blanche's face.
On regaining his modest apartment he sent for the boot-boy, and inquired
the whereabouts of his missing shoes.
"Couldn't tell you, sir," said the servant. "Pretty near all the men's
boots in the house has gone out, you see, and they'll only be coming
back just about now. I'll look out for 'em, sir, and nab 'em as soon as
they show up."
"All right. Whose are these that I've been wearing?"
The boy took them, turned them over, and examined them with the eye of a
connoisseur in every part.
"'Them?' I should say, sir, them was Mr. Littimer's."
Crombie blushed with mortification. Of all the dwellers in The Lorne,
this was the very one with whom it was the most embarrassing to have
such a complication occur; and yet, strange inconsistency! he had been
longing for any accident, no matter how absurd or fantastic, that could
bring him some chance of an acquaintance with Blanche.
"Take these boots, dry them right away, and give 'em a shine. Then carry
them up to Mr. Littimer's rooms." He gave the boy a quarter: he was
Now that he had embarked upon a new career, he perceived the impropriety
of a future director in the Engraving Company going to dine at the
"Fried Cat," and so resolved to take his dinner in the gorgeous café of
The Lorne. While he was waiting for the proper moment to descend
thither, he could not get the shoe question out of his mind. Surely, the
boot-boy could not have been so idiotic as to have left that ancient,
broken-down pair at Littimer's threshold! And yet it was possible.
Crombie felt another flush of humility upon his cheeks. Then he wandered
off into revery upon the multifarious errands of all the pairs of boots
and shoes that had gone forth from the great apartment-house that day.
Patter, patter, patter! tramp, tramp!—he imagined he heard them all
walking, stamping, shuffling along toward different parts of the city,
with many different objects, and sending back significant echoes.
Whither had his own ruinous Congress gaiters gone?—to what destination
which they would never have reached had he been in them? Had they
carried their temporary possessor into any such worriment and trouble as
he himself had often travelled through on their worn but faithful soles?
Breaking off from these idle fancies at length, he went down to the
café; and there he had the pleasure of dining at a table not far from
Blanche Littimer. But, to his surprise, she was alone. Her father did
not appear during the meal.
The fact was that the awful possibility, mere conjecture of which had
frightened Crombie, had occurred. Littimer had received the young man's
shoes in place of his own.
They happened to fit him moderately well; so that he, likewise, did not
notice the exchange until he had started for his office. He believed in
walking the entire distance, no matter what the weather; and to this
practice he made rare exceptions. But he had not progressed very far
before he became annoyed by an unaccustomed intrusion of dampness that
threatened him with a cold. He looked down, carefully surveyed the
artificial casing of his extremities, and decided to hail the first
unoccupied coupé he should meet. It was some time before he found one;
and when finally he took his seat in the luxurious little bank parlor at
Broad Street, his feet were quite wet.
His surprise at this occurrence was doubled when, on taking off the
shoes and scrutinizing them more closely, he ascertained that they were
the work of his usual maker. What had happened to him? Was he dreaming?
It seemed to him that he had gone back many years; that he was a poor
young man again, entering upon his first struggle for a foothold in the
crowded, selfish, unhomelike metropolis. He remembered the day when he
had worn shoes like these.
He sent out for an assortment of new ones, from which, with unnecessary
lavishness, he chose and kept three or four pairs. All the rest of the
day, nevertheless, those sorry Congress boots of Crombie's, which he had
directed his office-boy to place beside the soft-coal fire, for drying,
faced him with a sort of haunting look. However much he might be
occupied with weightier matters, he could not keep his eyes from
straying in that direction; and whenever they rested on that battered
"right" and that way-worn "left," turned up in that mute, appealing
repose and uselessness at the fender, his thoughts recurred to his early
years of trial and poverty. Ah! how greatly he had changed since then!
On some accounts he could almost wish that he were poor again. But when
he remembered Blanche, he was glad, for her sake, that he was rich.
But if for her sake, why not for others? Perhaps he had been rather
selfish, not only about Blanche, but toward her. His conscience began to
reproach him. Had he made for her a large life? Since her mother's
premature death, had he instilled into her sympathies, tastes,
companionships that would make her existence the richer? Had he not kept
her too much to himself? On the other hand, he had gratified all her
material wants; she could wear what she pleased, she could go where she
chose, she had acquaintances of a sort becoming to the daughter of a
wealthy man. Yet there was something lacking. What did she know about
old, used-up boots and all that pertains to them? What did she know
about indigence, real privation, and brave endurance, such as a hundred
thousand fellow-creatures all around her were undergoing?
Somehow it dawned upon the old banker that if she knew about all these
things and had some share in them, albeit only through sympathy and
helping, she might be happier, more truly a woman, than she was now.
As he sat alone, in revery, he actually heaved a deep sigh. A sigh is
often as happy a deliverance as a laugh, in this world of sorrows. It
was the first that had escaped Littimer in years. Let us say that it was
a breathing space, which gave him time for reflection; it marked the
turning of a leaf; it was the beginning of a new chapter in his life.
Before he left the bank he locked the door of the private parlor, and
was alone for two or three minutes. The office boy was greatly puzzled
the next morning, when he found all the new pairs of shoes ranged intact
in the adjoining cupboard. The old ones were missing.
Littimer had gone away in them, furtively. He was ashamed of his own
This time be resolutely remained afoot instead of hiring a carriage. He
despatched a messenger to Blanche, saying that sudden business would
prevent his returning to dinner, and continued indefinitely on his
way—whither? As to that he was by no means certain; he knew only that
he must get out of the beaten track, out of the ruts. For an hour or two
he must cease to be Littimer, the prosperous moneyed man, and must tread
once more the obscure paths through which he had made his way to
fortune. He could hardly have explained the prompting which he obeyed.
Could it have had anything to do with the treacherous holes in the
bottoms of those old shoes?
As it chanced, he passed by the "Fried Cat;" and, dingy though the place
was, he felt an irresistible desire to enter it. Seating himself, he
ordered the regular dinner of the day. The light was dim; the
table-cloth was dirty; the attendance was irregular and distracted.
Littimer took one sip of the sour wine—which had a flavor resembling
vinegar and carmine ink in equal parts—and left the further contents of
his bottle untasted. The soup, the stew, and the faded roast that were
set before him, he could scarcely swallow; but a small cup of coffee at
the end of the well-nigh Barmecide repast came in very palatably.
In default of prandial attractions, Littimer tried to occupy himself by
looking at the people around him. The omnifarious assembly included
pale, prim-whiskered young clerks; shabby, lonely, sallow young women,
whose sallowness and shabbiness stamped them with the mark of integrity;
other females whose specious splendor was not nearly so reassuring; old
men, broken-down men, middle-aged men of every description, except the
"Some of them," Littimer reflected, "are no worse than I am. But are any
of them really any better?"
He could not convince himself that they were; yet his sympathies,
somehow, went out toward this motley crowd. It appeared to him very
foolish that he should sympathize, but he could not help it. "And, after
all," was the next thought that came to him, "are we to give pity to
people, or withhold it, simply because they are better or worse than
ourselves? No; there is something more in it than that."
Leaving the "Fried Cat" abruptly, he betook himself to an acquaintance
who, he knew, was very active in charities—a man who worked
practically, and gave time to the work.
"Do you visit any of your distress cases to-night?" he asked.
"Yes, I shall make a few calls," answered the man of charity. "Would you
like to go along?"
So the two started out together. The places they went to were of various
kinds, and revealed a considerable diversity of misfortune. Sometimes
they entered tenement-houses of the most wretched character; but in
other instances they went to small and cheap but decent lodgings over
the shops on West Side avenues, or even penetrated into boarding-houses
of such good appearance that the banker was surprised to find his
friend's mission carrying him thither. All the cases, however, had been
studied, and were vouched for; and several were those of young men and
women having employment, but temporarily disabled, and without friends
who could help them.
"You do well to help these beginners, at critical times," said the
banker, with satisfaction, "I take a special interest in them."
It was almost the same as if he were receiving relief himself. Who
knows? Perhaps he was; but to the outward eye it appeared merely that,
with his friend's sanction, he was dispensing money and offers of good
will to the needy. What a strange freak it was, though, in Littimer! He
kept on with the work until quite late in the evening, regardless of the
risk he ran by continuing out-of-doors when so ill shod.
I think he had some idea in his mind that he was performing an act of
Having waited a reasonable length of time after dinner, Crombie again
left his room, resolved to make a call upon Mr. Littimer, on the plea of
apologizing for having marched away with his shoes.
He would not run the risk, by sending his card, of being denied as a
stranger; so, notwithstanding much hesitation and tremor, he approached
the door which he had once seen standing open, and knocked. A voice
which he now heard for the second time in his life, but which was so
sweet and crept so naturally into the centre of his heart that the
thought of it seemed always to have been there, answered: "Come in." And
he did come in.
"Is Mr. Lit—is your father at home?" It seemed to bring him a little
nearer to her to say "your father."
Blanche had risen from the chair where she was reading, and looked very
much surprised. "Oh," she exclaimed, with girlish simplicity, "I thought
it was the waiter! N-no; he hasn't come home yet."
"I beg pardon. Then perhaps I'd better call later." Crombie made a
feeble movement toward withdrawal.
"Did you want to see him on business? Who shall I tell him?"
"Mr. Crombie, please. It's nothing very important."
"Oh," said Blanche, with a little blush at her own deception, "haven't I
seen you in the house before? Are you staying here?"
She remembered distinctly the incident of the card-case, and how very
nice she had thought him, both on that occasion and every time she had
seen him. But as for him, his heart sank at the vague impersonality with
which she seemed to regard him.
"Yes, I'm here, and can easily come in again."
"I expect my father almost any moment," she said. "Would you like to
What an absurd question, to one in his frame of mind! "Well, really, it
is such a very small matter," he began, examining his hat attentively.
Then he glanced up at her again, and smiled: "I only wanted to—to make
"An apology!" echoed Blanche, becoming rather more distant. "Oh, dear!
I'm very sorry, I'm sure. I didn't know there'd been any trouble." She
began to look anxious, and turned her eyes upon the smouldering fire in
the grate. So this was to be the end of her pleasant, cheerful reveries
about this nice young man. And the reveries had been more frequent than
she had been aware of until now.
"There has been no trouble," he assured her, eagerly. "Just a little
mistake that occurred; and, in fact, I was hardly responsible for it."
Blanche's eyes began to twinkle with a new and amusing interpretation.
"Ah!" she cried, "are you the gentleman who—" Then she stopped short.
Crombie was placed in an unexpected embarrassment. How could he possibly
drag into his conversation with this lovely young creature so
commonplace and vulgar a subject as shoe-leather! Ignoring her
unfinished question, he asked: "Do you know, Miss Littimer, whether
the—a—one of the servants here has brought up anything for your
father—that is, a parcel, a—"
"A pair of shoes?" Blanche broke in, her eyes dancing, while her lips
parted in a smile.
"Yes, yes; that's what I meant."
"They came up just after dinner," Blanche returned. "Then you are the
"I'm afraid I am," Crombie owned, and they both laughed.
Blanche quietly, and with no apparent intention, resumed her chair; and
this time Crombie took a seat without waiting to be invited again. Thus
they fell to talking in the friendliest way.
"I can't imagine what has become of papa," said Blanche. "He sent word,
in the most mysterious manner, that he had an engagement; and it is so
unusual! Perhaps it's something about the new house he's
building—up-town, you know. Dear me! it does make so much trouble, and
I don't believe I shall like it half as well as these little, cosey
The little, cosey rooms were as the abode of giants compared with
Crombie's contracted quarters; but he drew comfort from what she said,
thinking how such sentiments might make it possible to win even so
unattainable an heiress into some modest home of his own.
"You don't know till you try it," he replied. "Just think of having a
place all to yourself, belonging to you."
Blanche lifted her eyebrows, and a little sigh escaped her. She was
reflecting, perhaps, that a place all to herself would be rather lonely.
"You have never met my father?" she asked.
"No. I have seen him."
"Well, I think you will like him when you know him."
"I don't doubt it!" Crombie exclaimed with fervor, worshipping the very
furniture that surrounded Blanche. "I hope we may become better
"Only I think, Mr. Crombie, he will owe you an apology now."
"For keeping your shoes out so late."
"My shoes!" said the young man, in vehement surprise.
"Why, yes. Didn't you know they came to him? The porter said so."
Crombie grew red with the sense of his disgrace in having his
poverty-stricken boots come to the knowledge of the banker. Really, his
mortification was so great that the accident seemed to him to put an end
to all his hopes of further relations with Blanche and her father.
"Oh, I assure you," he said, rising, "that makes no difference at all!
I'm sorry I mentioned the matter. Pray tell Mr. Littimer not to think of
it. I—I believe I'd better go now, Miss Littimer."
Blanche rose too, and Crombie was on the point of bowing a good-night,
when the door opened, and a weary figure presented itself on the
threshold; the figure of a short man with a spare face, and whiskers in
which gray mingled with the sandy tint. He had a pinched, half-growling
expression, was draped in a light, draggled overcoat, and carried an
umbrella, the ribs of which hung loose around the stick.
"There's papa this moment!" cried Blanche.
Crombie perceived that escape was impossible, and, in a few words, the
reason of his presence there was made known to the old gentleman.
Littimer examined the visitor swiftly, from head to foot—especially the
foot. He advanced to the fire, toasted first one and then the other of
the damp gaiters he had on, and at length broke out, in a tone bordering
on reproach: "So you are the owner, are you? Then my sympathy has all
been wasted! Why, I supposed, from the condition of these machines that
I've been lugging around with me half the day, that you must be in the
greatest distress. And, lo and behold! I find you a young fellow in
prime health, spruce and trim, doing well, I should say, and perfectly
"I can't help that, sir," retorted Crombie, nettled, but speaking with
respect. "I confess I was very happy until a moment or two ago."
"What do you mean by that?" the other demanded, with half-yielding
pugnacity. "Till I came in—is that the idea?"
"Oh, papa!" said Blanche, softly.
"Well, honey-bee, what's the matter?" her father asked, trying to be
gruff. "Can't I say what I like, here?" But he surrendered at once by
adding: "You may be sure I don't want to offend any one. Sit down, Mr.
Crombie, and wait just a few moments while I go into the other room and
rejuvenate my hoofs, so to speak—for I fear I've made a donkey of
He disappeared into an adjoining room with Blanche, who there informed
him artlessly of Crombie's consideration and attentiveness in restoring
the errant shoes. When they came back Littimer insisted upon having the
young man remain a little longer and drink a glass of port with him.
Before taking his departure, however, Crombie, who felt free to speak
since Blanche had retired, made a brief statement in satisfaction of
"You hinted," he said, "that you judged me to be doing well. I don't
want to leave you with a false impression. The truth is, I am not doing
well. I have no money to speak of, and to-day I lost the position on
which I depended."
"You don't tell me!" Littimer's newly roused charitable impulses came to
the fore. "Why, now you begin to be really interesting, Mr. Crombie."
"Thanks," said Crombie; "I'm not ambitious to interest people in that
way. I told you only because I thought it fair."
"Don't be touchy, my dear sir," answered the banker. "I meant what I
said. Come, let's see what can be done. Have you any scheme in view?"
"Yes, I have," said Crombie, with decision.
Littimer gave a grunt. He was afraid of people with schemes, and was
disappointed with the young man's want of helplessness. Dependence would
have been an easier thing to deal with.
"Well," said he, "we must talk it over. Come and see me at the bank
to-morrow. You know the address?"
The next day Crombie called at the bank; but Littimer was not there. He
was not very well, it was said; had not come down-town. Crombie did what
he could toward organizing his fight for a directorship, and then
returned to The Lorne, where he punctually inquired after Mr. Littimer's
health, and learned that the banker's ardor in making the rounds among
distressed people the night before had been followed by reaction into a
bad cold, with some threat of pneumonia. Blanche was plainly anxious.
The attack lasted three or four days, and Crombie, though the affair of
the directorship was pressing for attention, could not forbear to remain
as near as possible to Blanche, offering every aid within his power, so
far as he might without overstepping the lines of his very recent
acquaintance. But the Littimers did not, according to his observation,
number any very intimate companions in their circle, or at least had not
many friends who would be assiduous in such an emergency. Perhaps their
friends were too busy with social engagements. Consequently, he saw a
good deal of Blanche, and became to her an object of reliance.
Well, it was simply one of those things that happen only in fairy-tales
or in romances—or in real life. Littimer recovered without any serious
illness, and, after a brief conference with Crombie, entered heartily
into the young man's campaign. Crombie showed him just what combinations
could be formed, how success could be achieved, and what lucrative
results might be made to ensue. He conquered by figures and by lucid
common-sense. Littimer agreed to buy a number of shares in the Engraving
Company, which he happened to know could be purchased, and to advance
Crombie a good sum with which to procure a portion of the same lot. But
before this agreement could be consummated, Crombie, with his usual
frankness, said to the banker:
"I will conceal nothing from you, Mr. Littimer. I fell in love with
Blanche before I knew her, and if this venture of mine succeeds, I shall
ask her to become my wife."
"Let us attend to business," said Littimer, severely. "Sentiment can
take care of itself."
Their manœuvre went on so vigorously that Blatchford became alarmed,
and sent an ambassador to arrange a compromise; but by this time Crombie
had determined to oust Blatchford himself and elect an entirely new set
of men, to compose more than half the Board, and so control everything.
But Littimer did not forget the charitable enthusiasm which had been
awakened by a circumstance on the surface so trivial as the mistake of a
boot-boy. He did not desist from his interest in aiding disabled or
unfortunate people who could really be aided. Some time after Crombie
had achieved his triumph in the Engraving Company, and had repaid
Littimer's loan, he was admitted to a share in the banking business; and
eventually the head of the house was able to give a great deal of
attention to perfecting his benevolent plans.
When the details of their wedding were under discussion, Crombie said to
Blanche: "Oughtn't we to have an old shoe thrown after the carriage as
we drive away?"
She smiled; looked him full in the eyes with a peculiar tenderness in
which there was a bright, delicious sparkle of humor. "No; old shoes are
much too useful to be wasted that way."
Somehow she had possessed herself of that particular, providential pair;
and, though I don't want anybody to laugh at my two friends, I must risk
saying that I suspect Mrs. Crombie of preserving it somewhere, to this
day, in the big new house up-town.