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'The Romance of a Busy Broker' by O. Henry

2017-08-12

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[00:02.52]
  • "The Romance of a Busy Broker"
  • [00:05.59]
  • Pitcher, who worked in the office of Harvey Maxwell, broker, usually allowed his face to show no feeling.
  • [00:12.25]
  • This morning he allowed his face to show interest and surprise when Mr. Maxwell entered.
  • [00:18.13]
  • It was half past nine, and Mr. Maxwell was with his young lady secretary.
  • [00:22.33]
  • “Good morning, Pitcher,” said Maxwell.
  • [00:24.93]
  • He rushed to his table as if he were going to jump over it, then began to look at the many, many letters and other papers waiting there for him.
  • [00:31.58]
  • The young lady had been Maxwell’s secretary for a year.
  • [00:35.18]
  • She was very beautiful, and very different from most other secretaries.
  • [00:39.55]
  • Her hair always looked plain and simple.
  • [00:42.51]
  • She did not wear chains or jewels.
  • [00:45.42]
  • Her dress was gray and plain, but it fitted her very well.
  • [00:49.22]
  • On her small black- hat was the gold-green wing of a bird.
  • [00:54.14]
  • On this morning she seemed to shine softly. Her eyes were dreaming but bright.
  • [01:00.57]
  • Her face was warmly colored, and her expression was happy.
  • [01:04.49]
  • Pitcher watched her.
  • [01:06.78]
  • There was a question about her in his mind.
  • [01:09.17]
  • She was different this morning.
  • [01:11.84]
  • Instead of going straight to the room where she worked, she waited.
  • [01:15.95]
  • She seemed not to know what to do.
  • [01:18.75]
  • Once she went over to Maxwell’s table, near enough for him to see that she was there.
  • [01:23.10]
  • The machine sitting at that table was no longer a man.
  • [01:26.72]
  • It was a busy New York broker.
  • [01:29.71]
  • “What is it? Anything?” asked Maxwell shortly.
  • [01:33.24]
  • Papers lay like snow covering his table.
  • [01:35.72]
  • His gray eyes looked at her as if she were another machine.
  • [01:38.51]
  • “Nothing,” answered the secretary, moving away with a little smile.
  • [01:42.81]
  • “Mr. Pitcher,” she said, “did Mr. Maxwell talk to you yesterday about getting another secretary?”
  • [01:49.52]
  • “He did,” Pitcher answered.
  • [01:51.93]
  • “He told me to get another one. Several are coming to talk to us this morning. But it’s now after nine and not one has appeared.”
  • [02:00.05]
  • “I will do the work as usual,” said the young lady, “until someone comes to fill the place.”
  • [02:05.13]
  • And she went to her table.
  • [02:06.73]
  • She took off the black hat with the gold-green bird wing and put it away as usual.
  • [02:11.46]
  • If you have never seen a busy New York broker on a busy day, you know little about men at work.
  • [02:18.69]
  • Every minute of a broker’s hour is crowded.
  • [02:21.91]
  • And this day was Harvey Maxwell’s busy day.
  • [02:25.43]
  • Beside his table stood a machine.
  • [02:28.19]
  • From this came a long, narrow, endless piece of paper, bringing him business news as soon as it happened.
  • [02:34.29]
  • Men began to come into the office and speak to him.
  • [02:36.84]
  • Some were happy, some were not, some were in a hurry, some were full of anger.
  • [02:41.70]
  • Boys ran in and out with letters for him to read and answer at once.
  • [02:45.45]
  • Pitcher’s face now showed that he was alive.
  • [02:48.87]
  • The other men who worked in the office jumped around like sailors during a storm.
  • [02:52.89]
  • And there were storms in the business world, fearful storms.
  • [02:56.56]
  • Every storm was felt in the broker’s office.
  • [02:58.93]
  • Maxwell moved his chair against the wall.
  • [03:01.67]
  • Now he was like a dancer.
  • [03:03.79]
  • He jumped from the machine to his table to the door and back again.
  • [03:07.30]
  • In the middle of all this, he slowly realized that something had come near him.
  • [03:12.72]
  • There was golden hair; there was a very large amount of it, high on a head.
  • [03:18.84]
  • On top of the hair was a big hat covered with birds’ wings.
  • [03:24.54]
  • There was a long silver chain, hanging from a neck until it nearly touched the floor.
  • [03:29.37]
  • And among all these things there was a young lady.
  • [03:33.20]
  • Pitcher was beside her to explain.
  • [03:35.87]
  • “Lady for that job as secretary,” said Pitcher.
  • [03:38.42]
  • Maxwell turned half around, with his hands full of letters and paper from the machine.
  • [03:43.04]
  • “What job?” he asked.
  • [03:44.59]
  • “Job of secretary,” Pitcher said again.
  • [03:48.16]
  • “You told me yesterday to have someone sent here this morning.”
  • [03:51.29]
  • “You are losing your mind, Pitcher,” said Maxwell.
  • [03:53.86]
  • “Why should I tell you anything like that? Miss Leslie is a perfect secretary. She can keep the job as long as she wants it.”
  • [04:00.59]
  • To the young lady he said, “There is no job here.”
  • [04:03.71]
  • And to Pitcher he added this order: “Tell them not to send any more. And don’t bring any more in here to see me.”
  • [04:10.52]
  • The silver chain left the office, hitting against chairs and tables with anger, as it went.
  • [04:15.44]
  • Pitcher said to another man in the office that Maxwell was more forgetful every day.
  • [04:21.17]
  • The rush of business grew wilder and faster.
  • [04:24.58]
  • Maxwell was working like some fine, strong machine.
  • [04:28.23]
  • He was working as fast as he could.
  • [04:30.36]
  • He never had to stop to think.
  • [04:32.70]
  • He was never wrong.
  • [04:33.54]
  • He was always ready to decide and to act.
  • [04:36.30]
  • He worked as a clock works.
  • [04:38.16]
  • This was the world of business.
  • [04:40.67]
  • It was not a human world, or the world of nature.
  • [04:43.32]
  • When the dinner hour was near, things grew quieter.
  • [04:47.13]
  • Maxwell stood by his table with his hands full of papers and his hair hanging over his face.
  • [04:52.32]
  • His window was open, for it was the time of year when the weather was beginning to turn warm.
  • [04:57.79]
  • And through the window came a soft sweet smell of flowers.
  • [05:02.22]
  • For a moment the broker was held there, without moving.
  • [05:06.16]
  • For this smell of flowers belonged to Miss Leslie. It was hers and hers only.
  • [05:14.37]
  • The smell seemed almost to make her stand there before him.
  • [05:18.99]
  • The world of business grew smaller and smaller.
  • [05:25.04]
  • And she was in the next room—twenty steps away.
  • [05:29.59]
  • “I’ll do it now,” said Maxwell, half aloud. “I’ll ask her now. I won- der why I didn’t do it long ago.”
  • [05:36.78]
  • He rushed into the other room. He stopped beside the secretary.
  • [05:41.65]
  • She looked up at him with a smile.
  • [05:43.88]
  • Warm color came into her face, and her eyes were soft and kind.
  • [05:48.21]
  • Maxwell’s hands were still full of papers.
  • [05:51.70]
  • “Miss Leslie,” he began quickly, “I have only a moment. I want to say something in that moment. Will you be my wife? I haven’t had time to make love to you in the usual way. But I really do love you. Talk quick, please. I have to get back to my work.”
  • [06:09.32]
  • “Oh, what are you talking about?” cried the young lady.
  • [06:13.21]
  • She rose to her feet and looked at him, round-eyed.
  • [06:16.20]
  • “Don’t you understand?” said Maxwell.
  • [06:18.52]
  • “I want you to marry me. I love you, Miss Leslie. I wanted to tell you. So I took this moment when I wasn’t too busy. But they’re calling me now. Tell them to wait a minute, Pitcher. Won’t you, Miss Leslie?”
  • [06:32.72]
  • The secretary acted very strangely.
  • [06:34.74]
  • At first she seemed lost in surprise.
  • [06:37.52]
  • Then tears began to run from her wondering eyes.
  • [06:40.95]
  • And then she smiled through her tears, and one of her arms went around the broker’s neck.
  • [06:47.44]
  • “I know now,” she said, softly.
  • [06:50.52]
  • “It’s this business. It has put every-thing else out of your head. I was afraid at first. Don’t you remember, Harvey? We were married last evening at eight, in the Little Church around the Corner.”
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