Calumet K

Samuel Merwin
Calumet "K", by Samuel
Merwin and Henry

The Project Gutenberg eBook, Calumet "K", by Samuel Merwin and
Henry Kitchell Webster
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Title: Calumet "K"
Author: Samuel Merwin and Henry Kitchell Webster

Release Date: April 11, 2006 [eBook #18154]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-646-US (US-ASCII)
E-text prepared by Robert Petty


The contract for the two million bushel grain elevator, Calumet K, had
been let to MacBride & Company, of Minneapolis, in January, but the
superstructure was not begun until late in May, and at the end of
October it was still far from completion. Ill luck had attended Peterson,
the constructor, especially since August. MacBride, the head of the firm,
disliked unlucky men, and at the end of three months his patience gave
out, and he telegraphed Charlie Bannon to leave the job he was
completing at Duluth and report at once at the home office.
Rumors of the way things were going at Calumet under the hands of his
younger co-laborer had reached Bannon, and he was not greatly
surprised when MacBride told him to go to Chicago Sunday night and
supersede Peterson.
At ten o'clock Monday morning, Bannon, looking out through the dusty
window of the trolley car, caught sight of the elevator, the naked
cribbing of its huge bins looming high above the huddled shanties and
lumber piles about it. A few minutes later he was walking along a
rickety plank sidewalk which seemed to lead in a general direction
toward the elevator. The sidewalks at Calumet are at the theoretical
grade of the district, that is, about five feet above the actual level of the
ground. In winter and spring they are necessary causeways above seas
of mud, but in dry weather every one abandons them, to walk straight
to his destination over the uninterrupted flats. Bannon set down his
hand bag to button his ulster, for the wind was driving clouds of smoke
and stinging dust and an occasional grimy snowflake out of the
northwest. Then he sprang down from the sidewalk and made his way
through the intervening bogs and, heedless of the shouts of the
brakemen, over a freight train which was creaking its endless length
across his path, to the elevator site.

The elevator lay back from the river about sixty yards and parallel to it.
Between was the main line of the C. & S. C, four clear tracks unbroken
by switch or siding. On the wharf, along with a big pile of timber, was
the beginning of a small spouting house, to be connected with the main
elevator by a belt gallery above the C. & S. C. tracks. A hundred yards
to the westward, up the river, the Belt Line tracks crossed the river and
the C. & S. C. right of way at an oblique angle, and sent two side tracks
lengthwise through the middle of the elevator and a third along the
south side, that is, the side away from the river.
Bannon glanced over the lay of the land, looked more particularly at the
long ranges of timber to be used for framing the cupola, and then asked
a passing workman the way to the office. He frowned at the wretched
shanty, evidently an abandoned Belt Line section house, which
Peterson used for headquarters. Then, setting down his bag just outside
the door, he went in.
"Where's the boss?" he asked.
The occupant of the office, a clerk, looked up impatiently, and spoke in
a tone reserved to discourage seekers for work.
"He ain't here. Out on the job somewhere."
"Palatial office you've got," Bannon commented. "It would help those
windows to have 'em ploughed." He brought his bag into the office and
kicked it under a desk, then began turning over a stack of blue prints
that lay, weighted down with a coupling pin, on the table.
"I guess I can find Peterson for you if you want to see him," said the
"Don't worry about my finding him," came from Bannon, deep in his
study of the plans. A moment later he went out.
A gang of laborers was engaged in moving the timbers back from the
railroad siding. Superintending the work was a squat little man--
Bannon could not see until near by that he was not a boy--big-headed,

big-handed, big-footed. He stood there in his shirt-sleeves, his back to
Bannon, swearing good-humoredly at the men. When he turned toward
him Bannon saw
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