The Story of Sugar
SARA WARE BASSETT
"The Story of Lumber" "The Story of Wool" "The Story of Leather" "The Story of Glass"
ILLUSTRATED BY C. P. GRAY
To my cousin William Pittman Huxley this book is affectionately inscribed
It gives me much pleasure to acknowledge the courtesy of the American Sugar Refining Company, and also the kindness of Senator Truman G. Palmer, of Washington, D. C.
S. W. B.
II. A NARROW ESCAPE
III. SUGARING OFF
IV. THE REFINERY
V. VAN SPRINGS A SURPRISE
VI. A FAMILY TANGLE
VII. MR. CARLTON MAKES A WAGER AND WINS
VIII. VAN MUTINIES
IX. VAN'S GREAT DEED
X. HOW VAN BORE HIS PUNISHMENT
XI. THE BOYS MAKE A NEW ACQUAINTANCE
XII. THE DAWN OF A NEW YEAR
"SUGAR IT IS, THEN!"
"I DON'T REMEMBER THAT BIG ROCK"
"I SHOULD THINK IT WOULD STICK TOGETHER"
"IT IS NO EASY TASK"
NO HORN HAD GIVEN WARNING
"THESE TANKS ARE CONNECTED"
THE STORY OF SUGAR
"Oh, say, Bobbie, quit that algebra and come on out! You've stuck at it a full hour already. What's the use of cramming any more? You'll get through the exam all right; you know you always do," protested Van Blake as he flipped a scrap of blotting paper across the study table at his roommate.
Bob Carlton looked up from his book. "Perhaps you're right, Van," he replied, "but you see I can't be too sure on this stuff. Math isn't my strong point, and I simply must not fall down on it; if I should flunk it would break my father all up."
"You flunk! I'd like to see you doing it." Van smiled derisively. "When you fall down on an exam the rest of us better give up. You know perfectly well you'll get by. You are always worrying your head off when there's no earthly need of it. Now look at me. If there is any worrying to be done I'm the one that ought to be doing it. Do I look fussed? You don't catch your uncle losing any sleep over his exams—and yet I generally manage to scrape along, too."
"I know you do—you old eel!" Bob glanced admiringly at his friend. "I believe you just wriggle by on the strength of your grin."
"Well, if you are such a believer in a grin why don't you cultivate one yourself and see how far it will carry you?" chuckled Van. "The trouble with you, Bobbie, is your conscience; you ought to be operated on for it. Why are you so afraid you won't get good marks all the time?"
"I'm not afraid; but I'd be ashamed if I didn't," was the serious reply. "I promised my father that if he'd let me come to Colversham to school I'd do my best, and I mean to. It costs a pile of money for him to send me here, and it's only decent of me to hold up my end of the bargain."
Van Cortlandt Blake stretched his arms and gazed thoughtfully down at the ruler he was twirling in his fingers.
"Bobbie, you're a trump; I wish more fellows were like you. The difference between us is that while I perfectly agree with you I sit back and talk about it; you go ahead and do something. It's rotten of me not to work harder down here. I know my father is sore on it, and every time he writes I mean to take a brace and do better—honest I do, no kidding. But you know how it goes. Somebody wants me on the ball nine, or on the hockey team, or in the next play, and I say yes to every one of them. The first I know I haven't a minute to study and then I get ragged on the exams.
"You are too popular for your own good, Van. No, I'm not throwing spinach, straight I'm not. What I mean is that everybody likes you. Why, there isn't a more popular boy in the school! That's why you get pulled into every sort of thing that's going. It's all right, too, only if you expect to study any you've got to rise up in your boots and take a stand. That's why I shut myself up and grind regularly part of every evening. I don't enjoy doing it, but it's the only way."
Van rose and began to roam round the room uneasily.
"Goodness knows, Bobbie, if one of us didn't grind neither of us would get anywhere. By the way, did you manage to dig out that Caesar for to-morrow? Fire away and give me the product of your mighty brain. I guess I can memorize the translation if you read it to me enough times."
Bob did not reply.
"I don't think it is a straight thing for me to translate your Latin for you every day, Van," he said at last. "You ought not to ask me to do it."
"I know it; it's mighty low down—I acknowledge that," answered Van frankly. "But what would you have me do? Flunk it? Come on. I'll get it myself next time."
"That's what you always say, Van, but you never do."
"But I tell you I will. This week I've been so rushed with the Glee Club rehearsals I couldn't do a thing. But you wait and view yours truly next week."
Reluctantly Bob took up his Caesar and opened it.
"That's a gentleman, Bobbie. Some time when you're drowning I'll throw a plank to you. I knew you'd save my life."
"I do not approve of doing it at all," Bob observed, still searching for the place in the much worn brown text-book. "I've done about all your studying this term."
"I own it, oh Benefactor. Are you not my brain—my intellectual machinery? Could I live a day without you?"
Leaning across the table Van affectionately rumpled up Bob's tidy locks until every individual hair stood on end.
"If it weren't for me you'd be dropped back into the next class—that's what would happen to you; and you deserve it, too."
Van was silent.
"I know it. I haven't put in an hour of solid work for a month, Bob I ought to be ashamed, and I am." He paused. "But there's no use jumping all over myself if I haven't," he resumed, shifting to a more sprightly tone. "I've said I was going to take a spurt soon and I mean it. I'll begin next week."
"Why not start to-day?"
There was a rap at the door.
"Why not?" echoed Van, moving toward the door with evident relief. "Don't you see I can't? Somebody's always breaking in on my work. Here's somebody this very minute."
He flung open the door.
"Mail. A parcels-post package for you, Bob. I'll bet it's eats. Your mother's a corker at sending you things; I wish my mother sent me something now and then."
"Well, it's a little different with you. Your family live so far out west they can't very well mail grub to you; but Mater is right here in New York, and of course as she's near by she'd be no sort of a mother if she didn't send me something beside this prison fare. Come on and see what it is this time."
Bob loosened the string from the big box and began unwinding the wrappings.
"Plum-cake!" he cried. "A dandy great loaf! And here's olives, and preserved ginger, and sweet chocolate. She's put in salted almonds, too; and look—here's a tin box of Hannah's molasses cookies, the kind I used to like when I was a kid. Isn't my mother a peach?"
"She sure is; and she must think a lot of you," said Van slowly. "I wish my mother'd ever—"
"Maybe if you pitched in a little harder here she'd feel—"
"Oh, cut out the preaching, Bobbie," was the impatient retort. "I've had enough for one day."
Bob did not speak, but tore open the letter that had come with the bundle.
"Oh, listen to this, Van," he shouted excitedly. "Mother says they have decided to open the New Hampshire house for Easter. They're going up for my spring vacation and take in the sugaring off. What a lark! And listen to this. She writes: 'You'd better arrange to bring your roommate home with you for the holiday unless he has other plans.'"
"Oh, I say!"
"Could you go, Van?"
Bob eyed his chum eagerly.
"I don't see why I couldn't. I'm not going home to Colorado. It's too far. I was thinking of going to Boston with Ted Talbot, but I'd a good sight rather go batting with you, Bobbie, old man. It was fine of your mother to ask me. Where is the place?"
"Our farm? It's in Allenville, New Hampshire, near Mount Monadnock. It used to be my grandfather's home, and after he died and we all moved to New York Father fixed it over and kept it so we could go there summers. I've never been up in the spring, though. It will be no end of fun."
"I hope you do not call this weather spring," put in Van, sarcastically, pointing to the snow-buried hills outside.
"Well, it is the middle of March, and it ought to be spring, if it isn't," answered Bob. "Just think! Only a week more of cramming; then the exams, and we're off. I'm awfully glad you can go."
"You speak pretty cheerfully of the exams. I don't suppose you dread them much." Van lapsed into a moody silence, kicking the crumpled wrapping-paper into the fireplace. "You don't need to worry, Bob. But look at me. I'll be lucky if I squeak through at all. Of course I've never really flunked, but I've been so on the ragged edge of going under so many times that it's no fun."
"Cheer up! You'll get through. Why, man alive, you've got to. Now come on and get at this Latin and afterward we'll pitch into the plum-cake."
"What do you say we pitch into the cake first?"
"No, sir. Not a bite of cake will you get until you have done your Caesar. Come on, Van, like a good kid, and have it over; then we'll eat and talk about Allenville."
Once more Bob opened the book.
"Here we are! You've got to do it, Van, and to-morrow you'll be glad that you did. Stop fooling with that paper and bring your chair round this side of the desk. Begin here: Cum Caesar esset—"
Persistently Bob followed each line of the lesson down the page, translating and explaining as he went, and ungraciously Van Blake listened.
The little brass clock on the mantelpiece ticked noisily, and the late afternoon sun that streamed in through the windows lighted into scarlet the crimson wall-paper and threw into prominence the posters tacked upon it. It was a cozy room with its deep rattan chairs and pillow-strewn couch. Snow-shoes, fencing foils, boxing-gloves, and tennis racquets littered the corners, and on every side a general air of boyish untidiness prevailed.
Although the apartment was not, perhaps, as luxurious as a college room, it was nevertheless entirely comfortable, for the Colversham School boasted among its members not only boys of moderate means but the sons of some of the richest families in the country. It aimed to be a democratic institution, and in so far as this was possible it was; the school, however, was richly endowed and therefore its every appointment from its perfectly rolled tennis courts to its instructors and the Gothic architecture of its buildings was of the best.
Van Cortlandt Blake, whose father was a western manufacturer, had by pure chance stumbled upon Bob Carlton the day the two had alighted from the train and stood helpless among the new boys on the station platform, awaiting the motor-car which was to meet them and carry them up to the school. Before the five mile ride was finished and the automobile had turned into the avenue of Colversham the boys had agreed to room together. Bob came from New York City. He was younger than Van, slender, dark, and very much in earnest; he might even have passed for a grind had it not been for his sense of humor and his love for skating and tennis. As it was he proved to be a master at hockey, as the school team soon discovered, and before he had been a week at Colversham his classmates also found that he was most loyal in his friendships and a lad of unusual generosity.
Van Blake was of an entirely different type. Big, husky, happy-go-lucky—a poor student but a right jolly companion; a fellow who could pitch into any kind of sport and play an uncommonly good game at almost anything. More than that, he could rattle off ragtime untiringly and his nimble fingers could catch up on the piano any tune he heard whistled. What wonder he speedily became the idol of Colversham? He was a born leader, tactfully marshaling at will the boys who were his own age, and good-naturedly bullying those who were younger.
To the school authorities he presented a problem. His influence was strong and, they felt, not always good; yet there was not a teacher on the premises who did not like him. Intellectually they were forced to own that he was demoralizing. He was, moreover, a disturber of the social order. But his pranks were, after all, pure mischief and never malicious or underhanded. With a boy like Bob Carlton as a roommate and drag anchor the principal argued he could not go far astray.
And so the first year had passed without mishap, and already the second was nearing its close. The school board congratulated itself. Had the faculty known that for most of his scholarship, poor as it often was, Van Blake was indebted to the sheer will power of Bob Carlton they might have felt less sanguine. Day after day Bob had patiently tutored his big chum in order that he might contrive to scrape through his lessons. It was Bob who did the work and Van who serenely accepted the fruits of it—accepted it but too frequently with scant thanks and even with grumbling. Bob, however, doggedly kept at his self-imposed task. To-day's Latin translation was but an illustration of the daily program; Bob did the pioneering and Van came upon the field when the path was cleared of difficulties. And yet it was a glance of genuine affection that Bob cast at his friend stretched so comfortably in the big Morris chair with a pillow at his back.
"There, you lazy villain, I think you'll do!" he declared at last. "Don't forget about the hostages in the second line; you seem pretty shaky on that. I guess, though, you'll pull through alive."
"Bobbie, you're my guiding angel," returned the elder boy yawning. "When I make my pile and die rich I'm going to leave you all my money."
"Great Hat! Hear him. Leave me your money! What do you suppose I'm going to be doing while you're rolling up your millions? I intend to be rich myself, thank you," retorted Bob, throwing down his book. "Now for the plum-cake! You deserve about half the loaf, old man, but I shan't give it to you, for it would make you sick as a dog, and then I'd have you to take care of. Oh, I say, listen a minute! Isn't that the crowd coming from the gym? Open the window and whistle to them. Tell 'em to pile up here for a feed. And get your muscle to work on this olive bottle, Van. I can't get the cork out."
A NARROW ESCAPE
The dreaded examinations came and went and, as Van Blake expressed it, were passed with honor by Bobbie and with dishonor by himself. After the last one was over it was with a breath of relief that the two lads tossed pajamas and fresh linen into their suit-cases; collected snow-shoes and sweaters; and set out on their New Hampshire visit.
It had been a late spring and therefore although the buds were swelling and a few pussy-willows venturing from their houses the country was still in the grip of winter; great drifts buried roadside and valley and continued to obstruct those highways where travel was infrequent.
"There certainly is nothing very summerish about this New England weather of yours, Bob," remarked Van, as, on alighting from the train at Allenville, he buttoned closer his raccoon coat and stepped into the waiting sleigh which had come to meet them.
"The State did not realize you were coming, old man; otherwise they would have had some weather especially prepared for your benefit," Bob replied, springing into the sleigh beside his chum. "My, but this is a jolly old pung! Hear it creak. I say," he leaned forward to address the driver, "where did my father get this heirloom, David?"
"Law, Mr. Bob, this ain't your father's," David drawled. "He ain't got anything but wheeled vehicles in the barn, and not one of 'em will be a mite of use till April. I borrowed this turnout of the McMasters', who live a piece down the road; the foreman, you know. It was either this or a straight sledge, and we happened to be using the sledges collecting sap."
"Are you sugaring off already?" questioned Bob with evident disappointment. "I understood Father to say we'd get here in time to be in on that."
"Bless your soul, Mr. Bob, you'll see all you want of it," was David's quick answer. "There's gallons of sap that hasn't been boiled down yet. It's a great year for maple-sugar, a great year."
"Are some years better than others?" Van inquired.
"Yes, indeed. What you want to make the sap run is a good cold snap, followed by a thaw. That's just what we've been having. It's a prime combination."
He jerked the reins impatiently.
"Get up there, Admiral! He's the very worst horse to stop that ever was made. You see in summer he drags a hay-cart, and he has to keep halting for the hay to be piled on; then in the fall we use him for working on the road, and he has to wait while we pick up stones and spread gravel; in the spring he makes the rounds of the sugar orchard every morning and stands round on three legs while we empty the sap buckets into the cask on the sledge. Poor soul, he never seems to get going that he ain't hauled up. He's so used to it now that he'd rather stop than go, I reckon."
David's prophecy appeared to be quite true, for the Admiral proved to be so loath to proceed that every few paces he would hesitate, turn his head, and seem to be inquiring where the hay, stones, or sap buckets were to-day. It was only David's repeated urging which kept him moving at all. In consequence it was dark before the boys caught sight of the "Pine Ridge" lights gleaming through the tangle of hemlock boughs that screened the drive, and saw the door of the hospitable old farmhouse swing open.
"Well, I'll wager you're pretty hungry," a cheery voice called.
"Hungry, Mother! We're starved—hollow down to our shoe-strings!" Swinging himself out upon the steps Bob bent and kissed his mother. "Mother, this is my roommate, Van Blake," he added.
"I'm very glad to see you, Van," Mrs. Carlton said, putting both her hands into those of the big fellow who smiled down at her. "How strange it is that although you and Bob are such friends and he is continually talking and writing of you that you and I should never have met!"
"I don't just know how it's happened, Mrs. Carlton," Van answered. "It seems as if the times you've been at the school to visit I've either been away or shut up in the infirmary with chicken-pox or something. I'm great at catching diseases, you know—I get everything that's going. Father says he thinks I can't bear to let anything get by me."
He laughed boyishly.
"Speaking of fathers, where's Dad, Mater?"
"He stopped to put another log on the fire. Come in and see what a blaze we have ready for you."
The two boys followed her into the hall, while David staggered at the rear of the procession with the luggage.
Mr. Carlton came forward.
"This is Van Blake, Father," Bob said, proudly introducing his chum.
"I'm glad to see you, young man," Mr. Carlton responded. "Bob's friends will always find a welcome from us."
"Thank you, sir."
Mr. Carlton reflected a moment then asked abruptly:
"I don't suppose you happen to be a connection of the Colorado Blakes."
"I come from Colorado," replied Van quickly.
"You're not one of the sugar Blakes; not Asa Blake's son."
"Yes," cried Van. "Mr. Asa Blake is my father, and he is in the beet sugar business. Do you know him?"
"I believe I've met him," Mr. Carlton admitted hurriedly, stooping to push the glowing back-log a little further forward.
Bob was interrupted.
"Come, boys," said Mrs. Carlton bustling in. "I guess you've warmed your fingers by this time. Bob, take Van up-stairs and tumble out of those fur coats as fast as ever you can so to be ready for dinner."
The lads needed no second bidding. They were up-stairs and back in the dining-room in a twinkling, and so eagerly did they chatter of their plans for the morrow that hungry though they were they almost forgot to eat.
"There are so many things to do that it is hard to decide where to begin," declared Bob. "Of course we want some coasting and some snow-shoeing; and we must climb Monadnock. Van says he hasn't seen a real mountain since he came East. Then we want to be on hand for the maple-sugar making. Why, ten days won't be half long enough to do everything we ought to do."
His mother laughed.
"You must have a good sleigh ride, too," she put in.
"I draw the line on a sleigh ride if we have to go with that horse that brought us up from the station," announced Bob.
"Me, too!" Van echoed.
"It would take you the entire ten days to get anywhere and back if you went sleighing with the Admiral," said Mr. Carlton.
Every one smiled.
"I'd advise your seizing upon the first clear day for your Monadnock tramp," Mr. Carlton continued. "You'd better make sure of good weather when you get it. It won't make so much difference with your other plans; but for the mountain trip you must have a good day."
"I do want Van to get the view from the top if he makes the climb," Bob answered.
So the chat went merrily on.
Yet despite the gaiety of the evening and Mr. Carlton's evident interest in the boys' holiday schemes Bob more than once caught his father furtively studying Van's profile. Obviously something either puzzled or annoyed him. There was, however, no want of cordiality in his hearty goodnight or in the zest with which he advocated that if the next morning proved to be unclouded the two lads better make certain of their mountain excursion. He even helped lay out the walk and offered many helpful suggestions. Bob's uneasiness lest his father should not like his chum vanished, and when he dropped into bed the last vague misgiving took flight, and he fell into a slumber so profound that morning came only too soon.
It was David who, entering softly to start the fire in the bedroom fireplace, awakened Bob.
He sat up and rubbed his eyes sleepily.
"What sort of a day is it, David?" he questioned in a whisper that he might not arouse Van, who was lying motionless beside him.
"It's a grand day, Mr. Bob. There ain't a cobweb in the sky."
David tiptoed out and Bob nestled down once more beneath the blankets. It was fun to lie there watching the logs blaze up and see your breath rise on the chilly air; it was fun, too, to know that no gong would sound as it did at school and compel you to rush madly into your clothes lest you be late for breakfast and chapel, and receive a black mark in consequence. No, for ten delicious days there was to be no such thing as hurry. Bob lay very still luxuriating in the thought. Then he glanced at Van, who was still immovable, his arm beneath his cheek. His friend's obliviousness to the world was irresistible. Bob raised himself carefully; caught up his pillow; took accurate aim; and let it fly.
It struck Van in the head, routing further possibility of sleep.
"Can't you let a fellow alone?" he snapped.
"Wake up, you old mummy!" shouted Bob. "A great mountain climber you are, sleeping here all day. Have you forgotten you're going up Monadnock to-day?"
"Hang Monadnock! I was sound asleep when you lammed that pillow at me, you heathen. What's the good of waking me up at this unearthly hour?" yawned Van.
"It's seven o'clock."
"Seven o'clock!" Van straightened up and stared. "Why, man alive, I haven't been asleep fifteen minutes."
"You've been lying like a log for nine mortal hours," chuckled Bob.
"Great Scott! Some sleep, isn't it? That's better than I do at Colversham."
"Well, I need sleep. I'm worn out with over-study."
"You are, like—"
"I am. I'm an intellectual wreck," moaned Van. "It's the Latin."
Bob burst into a shout, which was cut short by a rap at the door.
"Time to get up, boys," called the cheery voice of Mr. Carlton. "Step lively, please. Here's a can of hot water."
The boys wasted no more time in fooling.
They bathed, dressed, and almost before they knew it were at the table partaking of a hearty breakfast which was capped by heaps of golden brown pancakes rendered even more golden by the sea of maple-syrup in which they floated.
"I'll never be able to climb anything after this meal," Van gasped as he left the table and was thrusting his arms into his sweater.
"Don't expect us back before late afternoon, Father," he called over his shoulder. "We've a long slow climb ahead of us because of the snow. Probably we shall find it drifted in lots of places. Then we shall want some time at the top of the mountain, you know. Besides, we're going to stop and cook chops, and that will delay us. So don't worry if we don't turn up much before dinner time."
"You're sure you know the trail, Bob?" his mother called as the trampers went down the steps.
"Why, Mother dear, what a question! Know the trail? Haven't I climbed that mountain so many times that I could go up it backwards and with my eyes shut?"
"I guess that's true, Mother," agreed Mr. Carlton reassuringly.
"Good-bye, then," said Bob's mother. "Have a fine day and don't freeze your noses."
The boys waved, and with a scuff of their snow-shoes were off.
The climb was indeed a stiff one. At first the trail led through low, flat woods, fragrant with hemlock and balsam; here it was sheltered and warm. But soon the real ascent began.
"We follow the bed of this brook almost to the top," explained Bob who was leading the way. "We come into it here, you see. In summer it is a narrow path clearly marked by rough stones; you wouldn't believe how different it looks now all covered with snow. It doesn't seem like the same place. I didn't realize what a difference the snow would make in everything. But, anyway, we can't miss the way with these great boulders along the sides of the path; and even if we did the trees are blazed."
They pushed on for some time.
Then the strap of Van's snow-shoe broke.
"Oh, thunder! Got a knife, Bob?" he called. "This darn thing's busted. I'll have to haul to for repairs."
Bob stopped impatiently.
"Why didn't you look at it before you started?" he said.
"Never thought of it, Old Preparedness," was the good-natured reply. "No matter, I have some string and I think I can fix it."
It took some time, however, to make the fastening to the shoe and moccasin secure, and in the meantime the sun went behind a cloud.
"I guess Father wasn't a very good weather prophet," remarked Bob, glancing at the sky. "It seems to be clouding up."
"Don't fret. What do we care?" was Van's easy answer. "We're not really after the view. I don't give a hurrah for what we see when we get to the top; what I want is the fun of doing it."
They shuffled on.
"I'll be glad when this luncheon is inside instead of outside of me, won't you?" puffed Bob. "It's almighty heavy to carry."
"It isn't the lunch I mind. It's all these infernal clothes," was Van's retort. "I don't see what on earth I wore so many things for."
"You'll want them by and by."
"I bet I won't!" protested Van. "I'm going to tie my red sweater to this tree and leave it here; I can't be bothered with so much stuff."
"You'll be cold when you get to the top."
"No, I won't. And anyway I'd rather be too cold then than too hot now. One's no better than the other."
Deaf to Bob's counsel Van resolutely wound the offending sweater about a great white birch tree that stood at a fork of the path.
"You'll be sorry," was Bob's parting thrust as they plodded on.
The trail was now steep and so narrow that frequently Bob had to stop and search for the blazing on the trees.
"Of course I know my way, all right," he insisted. "Still, it is mighty different in winter from what it is at other seasons of the year, I'll admit that. Remember, I've never climbed this hill when the snow was on the ground. However, when we once get to the top the coming down will be a cinch, because we can follow our own tracks."
It was nearly two o'clock before the boys reached the top of the mountain. Over the landscape hung a mass of heavy gray clouds beneath which the sun was hidden; the wind was cutting as a knife, and while Van sought the shelter of an old shack Bob roamed about, delighting in the familiar scene.
"Why don't you come over here and look at the view?" he called to his companion. "It is fairly clear in spite of the clouds."
"Oh, I don't want to. I don't care a hang for the view—I told you that before. I'm just hungry. Let's get a fire going and cook the chops. What do you say?"
"You're cold. I said you would be."
"I'm not. I'm starved, though. Where can we get some wood?"
Bob glanced about.
"There seems to be plenty of undergrowth down in that hollow. Take my knife and cut away some of it. There's a piece of an old stump, too, that ought to burn well if it isn't too wet."
"That thing would never burn; but the brush will. Sling me the knife and I'll cut an armful. Let's build it in that little rocky shelter. Thanks to my camping training I'm right at home on this job."
Van's boast was no idle one. Soon the fire was crackling merrily and the chops and bacon were sizzling in the frying-pan. Bob unpacked the sandwiches and the thermos bottle of hot chocolate.
It was a regal luncheon.
How good everything tasted!
"I believe I was cold," Van admitted, rubbing his hands over the dying embers of the blaze. "But I'm warm as toast now. Is there any more grub left to eat?"
"Not a crumb—why? Are you still hungry?" queried Bob who was packing up the camping kit.
"Well, not exactly. I only thought we ought not to waste anything."
Bob glanced up and laughed; then his face grew sober.
"I say, there's a snowflake!" he cried. "And another! Jove, Van, it's begun to snow!"
"We better be getting down, I suppose," drawled Van.
"Just that, old man; fast as we can, too. Come on."
"What's your hurry? It will be a lark."
"It will be no lark if it snows much—I'll tell you that," replied Bob seriously. "Besides, the folks will worry. Come ahead."
They turned back down the trail.
The snowfall increased.
"You can hardly see our tracks already," Bob called over his shoulder. "And this wind is fierce. I had no idea it would snow. It is awfully wet and sticky snow, too; see how it clings to the trees."
They sped on.
The descent was far easier than the climb, and they could go quickly.
"I don't remember that big rock," exclaimed Van suddenly, pointing to a huge boulder that fronted them. "Isn't it a whacker! Odd that I didn't notice it when we came up. Could we have passed it and not seen it?"
"I suppose we must have," Bob answered. "I don't remember it, though. Everything looks queer and different in the storm. It's a regular squall. How quickly it came!"
"Can you still see our tracks?"
"No. But of course we're right; I couldn't miss my way after coming over this path so many times."
"Can you see the blazes on the trees?"
"No, silly. How could I when they are all plastered over thick with snow?" was Bob's scornful retort. He was silent for a moment. "But don't you worry," he declared. "I am certain we came this way—at least I think we did."
His tone, however, was less convincing.
They went on.
"We don't seem to be coming out anywhere, do we?" Van finally asked.
"Didn't we pass a little clearing somewhere on the way up?"
"Yes, there was one."
"Have we passed it?"
"Then it's ahead of us."
"It ought to be. I say, suppose we stop a minute and brush the snow off these trees so to make sure we really are on the trail."
"A bully idea!"
The boys put down their packs and reconnoitred.
"There don't seem to be any marks on these trees," Van asserted after an interval of search.
"But there must be."
"Find them then—if you can."
Bob nervously scrutinized several gnarled trunks.
"You're right, Van," he owned at last. "We're off the trail; missed it somehow. We'd better go back; we can't be far wrong. Or better yet, you wait here while I hunt."
Bob was very grave.
"You bet I'm not going to be left here to be buried in snow like the Babes in the Wood," protested Van gaily. "No sir-ee! I don't stay here. I'll help hunt for the path too. Now don't go getting nervous, Bobbie, old chap. Two of us can't very well get lost on this mountain. We'll separate enough to keep within hallooing distance, and we'll tie a handkerchief on this tree so we can get back to it again if we want to. We know we're part way down, anyway. That's certain."
"I don't feel so sure," was Bob's answer. "We ought to have turned back when it began to cloud up; but I never dreamed of snow. The family will be having a blue fit about us."
"Cheer up! We'll get down all right, only it may take us a little longer," Van asserted.
They branched into a side path.
The snow swirled about them in blinding sheets, and their footing became heavy and slippery.
Wandering on, they scanned the trees.
Not a mark appeared.
Both boys were chilled now, and their spirits drooped.
The possibility of being lost on the mountain began to definitely form itself in their minds.
"I'm mighty sorry I got you into this scrape, Van," Bob said after a long pause. "I was too cock-sure of myself. That comes of thinking you know it all."
"Pooh! It wasn't your fault, Bob. I'd give a cent, though, to know where we are. Do you suppose we've been making any progress all this time, or just going round in a circle?"
"Search me. I'll bet we've walked miles," groaned Bob. "I've got to rest if we never find the trail."
He spoke wearily.
"You're not going to sit down, Bob," Van retorted sharply. "Brace up. You've got to keep moving."
"But I can't. I'm tired and—and—sleepy."
His voice trailed off into a yawn.
"I don't care." Van wheeled on his friend fiercely and striding up to him shook him violently by the shoulders. "Now pull yourself together!" he commanded. "Where's your nerve? Brace up or I'll rattle the daylights out of you."
"I can't go another step."
"You've got to. Start on ahead. Don't crawl that way—walk! Faster! Faster than that, do you hear? I'm just behind you, and I shall step on your heels if you lag. Keep it up. Go on."
Panting, Bob obeyed.
Suddenly he gave a cry.
"What's the matter?" demanded Van.
"There! There on the tree!" He pointed before him with trembling hand. "Your sweater!"
Van pushed past him.
"Sure as fate! My sweater! Blamed if it isn't."
They both laughed weakly.
"Then we've found the trail!" Bob almost sobbed the words.
"We sure have! And hark, don't you hear voices? It's David, as I'm alive; and your father!"
Aid had indeed come.
"Father!" Bob shouted the word and then laughed again—this time a bit hysterically.
"The rescuing party's right here!" called Mr. Carlton.
He said it lightly, but as he came up and joined them Van saw that his face was drawn and his eyes suspiciously bright.
"David has the sledge just at the foot of the hill," he remarked, appearing not to notice the boy's fatigue. "I guess you'd just as soon ride the rest of the way."
He slipped an arm around Bob.
"It's not much farther, son. Move right along as fast as you can. Hurry, boy. Your mother's pretty worried. Thank goodness we found you in time."
The next morning, incredible as it seemed, Bob and Van were none the worse for their mountain trip, and Mr. Carlton, who had worried no little about them, and who was still feeling the effects of his hours of anxiety, remarked somewhat wrathfully:
"You two fellows come to the surface like a pair of corks! Any one would think that being lost on a mountain was an every-day occurrence with you. That is the difference between sixteen and forty-six, I suppose. My poor old nerves rebel at being jolted in such casual fashion."
"We're fit as two fighting cocks to-day, Father," he declared. "In fact, this very minute we're going out to help David collect sap. They are going to boil a lot of it down to-day."
"I imagined as much when I saw the smoke rising from the sugar-house chimney. Well, you seem to have your morning's work mapped out. Just don't get lost again, for I have no mind to go scouring the country a second time to find you."
"We'll take good care, Mr. Carlton," Van replied, giving a final tug at his long rubber boots.
"You may not lose yourself, Van," Bob chuckled, "but I am morally certain you'll lose your boots. You will just walk off and leave them in some snow-drift or mud puddle and never miss them. They are big enough for an elephant. Where did you get them, anyway?"
"They're an old pair David lent me; your father said I'd better wear them."
"He's dead right, too. The snow is still deep in spots, and it is thawing everywhere. It is not the boots I'm quarreling with; it's their size. I guess, though, you can get on somehow. We want to cut across the road and make for that hill over to the right. That's where the sugar-house is; it stands in the middle of an orchard of maples which were planted by my grandfather. Of course we have other maple trees scattered about the farm and David taps those, too; but most of our sugar comes from this orchard."
"Did your grandfather make maple-sugar to sell?"
"Goodness, no! He made it to use. White sugar, you must understand, was not so common in the olden days as it is now. Very little of it was grown in our country; and so, as it had to be brought from the East Indies, Spain, and South America, it was pretty expensive. Grandfather told me once that when he was a boy people used brown sugar or maple-sugar to sweeten their food, and sometimes they even used cheap molasses. White sugar was looked upon as a great luxury."
"I don't think I ever realized that before," said Van thoughtfully.
"Why, even my father remembers when, as a little shaver, he used to have white sugar spread on his bread for a treat."
"Seems queer, doesn't it?" Van mused.
"Yes. But it isn't so queer when you consider that all the sugar-cane now growing in America first had to be brought to the West Indies from Spain, the Canary Islands, or Madeira and then transplanted along the Mississippi delta. Dad says that originally sugar-cane came from Africa or India and that doubtless it was the Crusaders who introduced it into Europe."
"Do you mean to tell me that people never knew about sugar until then?" inquired Van incredulously, halting in the middle of the road.
"The Chinese were practically the only people who did, and they did not use it at all as we do; they just sweetened things with the thin sap."
Van regarded his chum steadily for a moment.
"Say," he demanded at last, "how did you come to know so much, Bobbie?"
"What? Oh, about sugar? I don't know much. I just happen to remember a few scraps Father has told me from time to time. He's in the sugar business, you know."
"Really? No, I didn't know. You never said anything about it. Cane-sugar?"
"Yes." Bob watched Van curiously.
"Oh, because my father is in the sugar business too. Don't you recall my telling your father so? Yes, my dad makes beet sugar."
"Then that's how my father happened to know your father!" exclaimed Bob quickly. "I suppose they're business friends. I've been wondering why Father kept watching you. Probably he sees in you some resemblance to your father. Do you look like him?"
"I hardly know. Some people think I do. My mother says so," was Van's indifferent response. "But say, tell me more about sugar. You'd think with my father right in the business I'd know something about it; but I don't. Do they get sugar from anything beside beets, and sugar-cane, and maple sap?"
"Oh, my, yes. There's sugar in ever so many other things: in grapes, and milk, and the date palm, and in maize; but it is from the beet and cane that the most sugar can be extracted."
"You're quite a lecturer, Bobbie," he said. "Wait until I get back home and astonish my father with all this knowledge. I'll make his eyes stick out."
Van broke into hearty laughter at the thought. Then, as he started to walk on he gave a shout of dismay.
"Hold onto me, Bob," he cried. "I can't move. While I've been standing here listening to your words of wisdom I've been sinking deeper and deeper into your old yellow mud until now I can't stir. I can't—upon my word. My feet are in perfectly solid. You can laugh if you want to, but you've just got to pull me out, that's all. Help! Help! To the rescue. I shall disappear in another minute. David will never see his rubber boots again."
"Of course you can get your feet out," was Bob's scornful retort.
"Cross my heart I can't. Honest, Bobbie," protested Van. "I've got into a quicksand or a quagmire or something. Look at me. I'm up to my knees now, and if you don't hurry you'll see nothing of me but my collar. I saved your life yesterday; you might do the same for me to-day."
But Bob was too convulsed with amusement to offer aid; instead he stood on a large rock at the roadside and laughed immoderately.
"Pull! Pull!" he cried to Van. "Why don't you pull?"
"I am pulling," Van answered. "But it does no good. I can't budge my feet. I never saw such mud in all my life. It must be yards deep. It sucks my boots right off. You'll have to help me."
"Not I! I know too well what would happen. It would be like Kipling's story of the Elephant's Child. Don't you remember, when the crocodile let go the nose of the little elephant how he suddenly sat down plop. I've no notion of being pulled into this mud hole when your rubber boots come to the surface. You'll have to get yourself out."
"You old heathen! It is not a straight game to fit me out with a pair of hip rubber boots miles too large for me and then sit and howl when you see me losing my life in them. Well, you needn't come into the mire if you don't want to, but you can at least be gentleman enough to pass me the end of that pole that is lying beside you," said Van.
"I'll do that."
Bob picked up a long branch from the ground.
"Here!" he cried. "Catch hold of this and pull."
The two boys tugged at opposite ends of the stick.
Then suddenly and quite without warning something happened.
The dead wood parted and Bob hurtled backward off the rock where he had been standing and landed in a snow-drift; while Van, much to his astonishment, sat down with abruptness in the wettest of the mud.
Two more chagrined boys could nowhere have been found.
Bob was the first to get to his feet. Shaking the snow out of his hair and collar he called:
"Get up, you—unless you want to be swallowed up for life. My eye, but you're a sight! If your mother could only see you now. Well, your feet are out, if you did have to get in all over to do it. Now step lively if you don't want to get stuck again. You are a peach, I must say!"
Van took the banter good-naturedly.
"That's what one might call being buried alive," he answered. "Lucky it wasn't you! I'm tall and could keep my head out; but the mire would long since have closed over an abbreviated person like yourself and you would have been seen no more."
Bob winced. He was sensitive about his height.
Clambering up on the rock beside his chum Van scooped up a handful of clean snow and with it washed his hands and face.
"There!" he said at length. "I'm just as tidy as if it had not happened."
"I can't exactly agree with you," replied Bob, "but I guess you'll have to do. Come on now. Goodness only knows where David and the sledge have got to by this time."
They hurried up the hill.
"There's David!" Van said, as they reached the crest of the rise.
It was David sure enough; and standing beside him in his customary motionless attitude was the Admiral harnessed into a great sledge surmounted by a barrel into which David was pouring the sap as fast as he gathered it. At the moment the man was busy detaching one of the sap buckets from the trunk of a giant maple.
The boys joined him.
"What are you doing, Dave?" asked Van curiously.
"Doing! Ain't you got eyes, young man? I certainly ain't writing a book or taking a wireless message," he answered without turning his head.
"But straight, I mean it. What are you doing? You know this business is new to me," explained Van.
"Haven't you ever seen maple-sugar made?" David's tone was full of surprise.
"Well, bless my soul! Where was you raised?"
"Humph! That accounts for it. If you'd been brought up in the East you'd have known."
"But I was raised in the East, David, and I've never seen maple-sugar made," piped Bob, instantly overthrowing the old farmer's philosophy.
"You ain't never—you ain't seen maple-syrup or maple-sugar made, Mr. Bob?" queried David aghast.
"Well, what are we coming to?"
The farmhand surveyed the boys disdainfully.
"What you been doing with yourself all your days?" he gasped at last.
"I've been going to school."
"And they ain't taught you to make maple-sugar? That's about all schooling is worth nowadays," he affirmed. "Now I warn't never inside a schoolhouse in my life, but I've known from the time I was knee-high to a grasshopper how to make maple-sugar. I made pounds of it before I was half the age of you two. The boys of this generation don't know nothin'!"
He sniffed contemptuously.
"Well, you may as well learn before you're a minute older," he continued. "Listen, now. Do you see the little hole in this maple?" He pointed up at the gray trunk above his head. "We make a little hole like that in every tree as soon as the sap begins to run in the early spring. Then we drive into the hole this small piece of hollow wood—it is like a trough, you see; and the sap runs through it into the buckets we hang beneath. All day and all night it drips in and each morning we go round and empty every pail into the cask we carry on the sledge. The sap, as you see, is thin, because only part of it is sugar; the rest is water. What we have to do is to boil down the liquid until the part that is water goes off in vapor and only the syrup is left. If we're after maple-syrup we let it cool when it gets thick and later bottle it; but if we want sugar we must boil the syrup still more until little crystals form in it."
"How can you tell when it has been boiled enough?" questioned Van.
"Oh, we've made it enough times to know," David replied. "Some folks stick a thermometer into it and figger how hot it will have to be; they say that's the best way. Others try the syrup in cold water or on snow like you would candy. Generally speaking, I can tell by the feel of it, and by the way it drips from the spoon. Sometimes, though, when I'm in doubt I try it on snow myself. If it gets kinder soft and waxy you can be sure it is getting done. If I was you instead of tracking round emptying buckets I'd go in the sugar-house and see 'em boiling the syrup. They started yesterday, and as I calculate it the mess ought to be pretty well along by now."
"Bully idea, David! What do you say, Van?" asked Bob. "Shall we trail David or shall we go in and see the sugar made?"
"Sugar! Sugar! Me for the sugar!" Van cried.
"Sugar it is then!"
Into the sugar-house they went.
The small room was hot and steamy, and in the middle of it in a zinc-lined tank the foaming sap was boiling furiously. Beside it stood McMasters, Mr. Carlton's foreman, a thermometer in his hand.
"Good-morning, Mr. Bob," he said. "So you are coming to cast an eye on the maple-sugar! Last week we made syrup and bottled it. Not a bad day's work, eh?"
With no little pride he pointed to a row of neat bottles symmetrically arranged on a shelf. "We'll seal them to-morrow or next day and get the labels on, and then they will be ready to sell. But to-day it's sugar, so we have to keep the sap at a higher temperature."
As he spoke he paused to test the bubbling liquid in the kettle.
"If you lads want a treat take one of those wooden plates over there and fill it with snow; I'll spoon some of this hot sap over it, and you will have a feast for a king."
The boys needed no urging. They took the plates, hurried out, and soon returned with them; over the heap of snow the foreman poured several heaping spoonfuls of hot syrup which, to their surprise, cooled in an incredibly short time and stiffened into a sticky mass that looked like candy.
"Now get one of those wooden skewers from the shelf and use it as a fork," McMasters said.
The boys caught the idea at once.
They gathered the candied syrup up on the end of the sticks and thrust it into their mouths.
"Why, it is just like toffy!" Van exclaimed.
"It is a sight fresher than anything you could buy at the store," observed the foreman.
"I believe I've got to have some more, Mac," Bob said. "Somehow it melts away before you know you're eating it."
He refilled his plate with fresh snow and held it out for a second helping of syrup.
McMasters filled it good-naturedly.
But when the plates were extended the fourth and fifth time the Scotchman demurred.
"It is no stuff to make a meal of, Mr. Bob," protested he. "And at ten o'clock in the morning, too. I'll give you no more. It is too sweet. Next you know the two of you will be spending your vacation in bed and wondering what's the matter with you. Why, we'd have no sugar at all if you should stay here eating at this rate. If it's candy you're wantin', ask the cook to boil some maple-syrup until it is thick like molasses candy; then turn it out of the pan and when it is almost cool pull it until it turns white. You'll find it better than any candy you can buy. Try it."
"We certainly will, Mac, and thanks for the suggestion," Bob replied.
"And while you're at it you might hunt up some butternuts and stir them in; I'll recommend the result and will wager you'll think it as good as anything you ever ate."
Once more he took the temperature of the steaming sap.
"We're going to put some of the sugar in those tin pails and sell it," he continued. "Each pail holds ten pounds. And some we shall pour into those small tin moulds and make little scalloped cakes for our own use. I reckon you can have some of them to take back to college when you go. We'll certainly have a plenty to spare you some, for your father will make a handsome thing out of his sugar this year. I wouldn't wonder but you're being educated on maple-sugar money. You better make your bow of thanks to the trees as you go through the orchard," he added whimsically.
Vacation with its country sports came to an end only too quickly, and leaving the New Hampshire hills behind the Carlton family, together with Van Blake, set out for New York where the boys were to make a weekend visit before returning to Colversham.
"I wish while we're in New York we could go through your refinery, Dad," Bob remarked to his father.
Mr. Carlton glanced at him in surprise.
"What set you thinking of that, Bob?" he asked. "You never were interested in sugar making before."
"I know it, Father." Bob flushed guiltily. "I ought to have been. But since we have seen maple-sugar made Van and I thought it would be fun to see the process that white sugar has to go through before it is ready for the market."
"Van thought so, did he?" queried Mr. Carlton.
"Why, yes, he thought so. I believe, though, it was I who suggested it."
"Humph!" murmured Mr. Carlton. He mused a moment. "I suppose it would do no harm," he said at last, half to himself.
"No, no! Of course not," interrupted Mr. Carlton hurriedly. "The process is an open secret anyway, except perhaps—Oh, I guess it would be all right."
Bob regarded his father with a puzzled stare.
"I will arrange for you and Van to go through the works right away," continued Mr. Carlton. "It simply will be necessary for me to telephone the superintendent and tell him you are coming so he will have some one on hand to explain things to you. This was your scheme, you say?"
"Yes, sir. Why?"
"Nothing, nothing," was Mr. Carlton's enigmatic reply.
He was as good as his word, for despite his peculiar reluctance in the matter he lost no time in perfecting the plan, and the next morning after the party reached New York he informed the boys that the motor-car would be at the door at nine o'clock to take them to the refinery.
Bob and Van, to whom New York was more or less of an old story, hailed this announcement with pleasure and promptly stowed themselves away in the big limousine which was to whirl them to Long Island where the works were located. All the way out Van was singularly silent, and appeared to be turning something over in his mind; once he started to speak, but checked himself abruptly.
Bob watched him uneasily.
"I believe you've lost your enthusiasm about sugar," said he at last, "and did not really want to come."
"What a notion! Of course I wanted to come."
"But you seem so glum, old man."
"Glum! Nonsense! I never was in better spirits in my life."
With a sudden shifting of the subject Van pointed to a stack of chimneys cleaving the sky and observed:
"I wonder if those belong to your father's plant?"
"I fancy they do," was Bob's quick answer. "Dad said we'd see a bunch of tall chimneys, and that the refinery was of yellow brick."
"Then this is the place," Van declared, drumming on the window glass with forced gaiety.
He did not, however, leap from the car with the spring of anticipation that Bob did, and noticing his spiritless step his friend once more remarked upon it.
"You seem bored to death to have to drag yourself through here, Van," said he. "What's the matter? You know if you do not want to come you don't have to."
"I do want to."
"But somehow you seem so-so—"
"Why, you seem to hang back as if you could hardly put one foot before the other," answered Bob. "Don't you feel well?"
"Prime! There's nothing the matter with me. What put that idea into your head?"
"Chiefly you yourself."
"Well, cut it out. I don't see what you're fussing about me for. I'm just as anxious to see how sugar is made as you are."
Still Bob was unconvinced. He could not have explained why, but he felt certain that Van's enthusiasm was feigned. For a second he paused undecidedly on the pavement before the door of the great factory; then shrugging his shoulders he entered, followed closely by his chum.
It was evident that they were expected, for a clerk rose from his desk and came forward to greet them.
"Mr. Hennessey, the superintendent, said I was to bring you to his office when you arrived," he said.
"You are Mr. Carlton's son, aren't you?"
"I thought you must be. Mr. Hennessey himself is going to take you through the works."
The clerk led the way to the door of a private office, where he knocked.
"Mr. Carlton and his friend are here," he announced to the boy who opened the door. "Tell Mr. Hennessey right away."
The boys had not a moment to wait before a large man with a genial face and outstretched hand came forward.
"I'm glad to see you, Mr. Carlton," he said. "I'm Hennessey, the superintendent. Possibly you may have heard your father speak of me; I have been helping him make sugar for twenty years."
Bob smiled up into the eyes of the big man looking down at him.
"Indeed Dad has spoken of you, Mr. Hennessey," he said, returning the hearty hand-shake. "He depends on you a lot. He says he always feels sure that when you're on the job everything will be all right."
Mr. Hennessey flushed with pleasure.
"I merely try to run your father's place as if it were my own," was the modest rejoinder.
"That's just it—that's why Father feels he can go to the North Pole if he wants to and not worry while he's gone," nodded Bob. "I think it is mighty good of you to bother with my chum and me. Can't you send some one to take us through the refinery? There is not the slightest need for you to go with us yourself."
"Oh, I wouldn't think of turning you over to some one else. You see I am interested in your sugar education; I can't allow the boss's son to get a wrong start in the business," laughed Mr. Hennessey.
"I'm afraid I'm not starting in the business," protested Bob, shaking his head deprecatingly. "I'm only trying to learn a little something about Dad's job, so I can be a bit more intelligent about it."
"You're going to investigate the way your father earns his money, eh?" chuckled the superintendent. "Well, I'll tell you right now you need do no blushing for your father's business methods; he makes his fortune as cleanly and honestly as any man could make it."
"I'll take a chance on Dad," was the laconic response.
"You can do so with safety."
There was a pause and turning Bob introduced Van Blake.
Then after the two boys had been provided with duck coats so that none of the sticky liquid that sometimes dripped from the machinery should spot their clothing the three set out for the basement of the factory, where the incoming cargoes of sugar were unloaded. Here great bags or casks of raw sugar were being opened, and their contents emptied into wooden troughs preparatory to cleansing and refining.
Both lads regarded with surprise the material that was being tipped out into the bins.
"Why, it looks like nothing but coarse, muddy snow!" ejaculated Van. "Do you really mean to tell us that you can make that brown stuff white, Mr. Hennessey?"
"That's what we're here for," answered Mr. Hennessey, obviously enjoying his amazement. "All raw sugar comes to us this way. You see, it is about the color of maple or brown sugar, but it is not nearly so pure, for it has a great deal of dirt mixed with it when we first get it."
"Where does it come from?" inquired Bob.
"Largely from the plantations of Cuba and Porto Rico. Toward the end of the year we also get raw sugar from Java, and by the time this is refined and ready for the market the new crop from the West Indies comes along. In addition to this we get consignments from the Philippine Islands, the Hawaiian Islands, South America, Formosa, and Egypt. I suppose it is quite unnecessary to tell you young men anything of how the cane is grown; of course you know all that."
"I don't believe we do, except in a general way," Bob admitted honestly. "I am ashamed to be so green about a thing at which Dad has been working for years. I don't know why I never asked about it before. I guess I never was interested. I simply took it for granted."
"That's the way with most of us," was the superintendent's kindly answer. "We accept many things in the world without actually knowing much about them, and it is not until something brings our ignorance before us that we take the pains to focus our attention and learn about them. So do not be ashamed that you do not know about sugar raising; I didn't when I was your age. Suppose, then, I give you a little idea of what happens before this raw sugar can come to us."
"I wish you would," exclaimed both boys in a breath.
"Probably in your school geographies you have seen pictures of sugar-cane and know that it is a tall perennial not unlike our Indian corn in appearance; it has broad, flat leaves that sometimes measure as many as three feet in length, and often the stalk itself is twenty feet high. This stalk is jointed like a bamboo pole, the joints being about three inches apart near the roots and increasing in distance the higher one gets from the ground."
"How do they plant it?" Bob asked.
"It can be planted from seed, but this method takes much time and patience; the usual way is to plant it from cuttings, or slips. The first growth from these cuttings is called plant cane; after these are taken off the roots send out ratoons or shoots from which the crop of one or two years, and sometimes longer, is taken. If the soil is not rich and moist replanting is more frequently necessary and in places like Louisiana, where there is annual frost, planting must be done each year. When the cane is ripe it is cut and brought from the field to a central sugar mill, where heavy iron rollers crush from it all the juice. This liquid drips through into troughs from which it is carried to evaporators where the water portion of the sap is eliminated and the juice left; you would be surprised if you were to see this liquid. It looks like nothing so much as the soapy, bluish-gray dish-water that is left in the pan after the dishes have been washed."
"A tempting picture!" Van exclaimed.
"I know it. Sugar isn't very attractive during its process of preparation," agreed Mr. Hennessey. "The sweet liquid left after the water has been extracted is then poured into vacuum pans to be boiled until the crystals form in it, after which it is put into whirling machines, called centrifugal machines, that separate the dry sugar from the syrup with which it is mixed. This syrup is later boiled into molasses. The sugar is then dried and packed in these burlap sacks such as you see here, or in hogsheads, and shipped to refineries to be cleansed and whitened."
"Isn't any of the sugar refined in the places where it grows?" queried Bob.
"Practically none. Large refining plants are too expensive to be erected everywhere; it therefore seems better that they should be built in our large cities, where the shipping facilities are good not only for receiving sugar in its raw state but for distributing it after it has been refined and is ready for sale. Here, too, machinery can more easily be bought and the business handled with less difficulty."
"You spoke of a central sugar mill," began Bob.
"Yes. Each plantation does not have a mill of its own or, indeed, need one. Frequently a planter will raise too small a crop to pay him to operate a mill; so a mill is constructed in the center of a sugar district, and to this growers may carry their wares and be paid in bulk. It saves much trouble and expense. It also encourages small growers who could not afford to build mills and might in consequence abandon sugar raising. The leaves are all stripped off before the cane is shipped so that nothing but the stalks are sent. As the largest portion of sugar is in the part of the cane nearest the ground it is cut as close to the root as possible. After the juice has been crushed from the stalks by putting them several times through the rollers the cane, or begass, as it is called, is so dry that it can be used as fuel for running the mill machinery."
"Clever and economical as well," agreed Mr. Hennessey. "Moreover, it does away with a waste product that otherwise would accumulate."
"Raw sugar has usually been shipped to the northern refineries by water, as that mode of transportation is cheaper; but during the Great War ships have been so scarce that in 1916 a large consignment of Hawaiian sugar was for the first time sent overland across the American continent by train; this of course made the freight rates higher, and if such a condition were to continue the price of sugar would of necessity have to be advanced."
"I never thought of such things affecting us," murmured Van.
"We live in a network of interdependence," Mr. Hennessey replied. "Scarcely anything can be done in any land that does not affect us. Commercial conditions react upon us all, for there is not one of us who is not indebted to the four corners of the globe for what he eats, wears, and uses. Therefore, you see, world prosperity and comfort can be at their height only when there is world peace under which all nations are friends, maintaining cordial trade relation with one another."
"What political party do you belong to, Mr. Hennessey?" asked Bob, glancing into the superintendent's earnest face.
"I do not know just what label you would put on me," the big man replied evasively. "But this I do know: first, last, and all the time I am for a universe where each country shall work for the good of the whole."
He spoke slowly and with impressiveness; then breaking off abruptly he led the way up a winding iron staircase and the boys, still pondering his words, followed him silently and thoughtfully.
VAN SPRINGS A SURPRISE
The room into which they emerged was at the top of the factory, and it was here in great vats that the dry sugar was melted.
"We often melt down as many as two million pounds of raw sugar a day," said Mr. Hennessey. "The United States, you know, is the greatest sugar consuming nation in the world. No other country devours so much of it. One reason is because here even the poorer classes have money enough so they can afford sugar for household use; in many countries this is not the case. Only the well-to-do take sugar in tea or coffee and have it for common use. Our Americans also eat quantities of candy. At the present time children eat three times as many sweets as did their parents, and the amount is constantly increasing. Doctors tell us sugar is one of the fuels necessary to the human system; it generates both heat and energy. Possibly it is because our people work so hard and are driven at such high nervous tension that they demand so much of this sort of food."
"I never knew before that candy was good for us," ejaculated Bob in surprise.
"Oh, bless you, yes! But you must take it in moderation if you wish to benefit from it and escape illness. Used intelligently sugar is an excellent food, but of course you must prescribe it for yourself in the proper proportions," laughed Mr. Hennessey. "We all constantly take more or less sugar into our systems through the ordinary foods we eat. But here in America over and above this each individual annually averages about eighty pounds of sugar. You will agree that that is a good deal."
"I should think so! Why, that is a tremendous amount!" Van declared.
"It seems so when you see it in figures, doesn't it?" returned the superintendent. "Next to the United States in sugar consumption comes England, the reason for this being that the English manufacture such vast amounts of jam for the market. England is a great fruit growing country, you must remember. The damp, moderate climate results in wonderful strawberries, gooseberries, plums, and other small fruits. With these products cheap, fine, and plenty, the English have taken up fruit canning as one of their industries, and they turn out some of the best jams and marmalades that are made."
The boys listened intently.
"The Germans and the French are much more frugal than we Americans," went on Mr. Hennessey. "Sugar is not so common in their countries. Often when in Germany you will notice people in the restaurants and cafs who carry away in their pockets the loaf sugar which has been allotted them and which they have not had occasion to use. It is a common occurrence, and considered quite proper, although it looks strange to us. Doubtless, too, if you have traveled abroad you have discovered how few candy shops there are. Foreigners regard the wholesale fashion in which we devour sweets with wonder and often with disgust. They consider it a form of self-indulgence, and indeed I myself think we are at times a bit immoderate."
"My father says we are an immoderate people," Van put in.
"I am afraid he is right," nodded Mr. Hennessey. "We seem to proceed on the principle that if a thing is good we must have a great deal of it. However, the vice—if vice it be—is good for the sugar business."
He paused a moment and stood looking down into the great foaming vats before him.
"You can't see the steam coils that are melting this raw sugar," he remarked. "They go round the inside of the tanks. But after the liquid is drawn off you can see them. When first melted the sugar is far from pure; you would be astonished at the amount of dirt mixed with it. Many of these impurities boil up to the surface and over and over again we skim them off. But even after that we have to wash the sugar by various processes. After it has been separated, clarified, and filtered it comes out a clear white liquid, and is ready for the vacuum pans, where the water is evaporated and the sugar crystallized."
"How do you get the liquid clear?" asked Bob.
"After it has been skimmed as carefully as possible we first settle it through the agency of chemicals," answered Mr. Hennessey. "We use milk of lime as a foundation, but we put other things with it. Our exact formula is a secret, but since you are in the family I guess there would be no objection to my telling you that we use—-"
"Don't tell us! Don't tell us!" cried Van suddenly. "I don't want to know. I'd rather not. I mustn't listen."
Covering his ears the boy turned away.
His companions regarded him with amazement.
"Don't tell me, Mr. Hennessey," he pleaded. "Don't tell me anything that is secret. I can't listen. It wouldn't be right."
It was evident both to the superintendent and to Bob that his distress was real, and although neither of them understood it Mr. Hennessey cut short his explanation.
Try as they would the strange interruption left a jarring note behind it, and to ease the tenseness the older man stepped forward and, taking from a rack near by one of several glass tubes filled with yellow liquid, held it up to the light.
"You see much must still be done to this stuff before it comes out white," he said. "We squeeze the liquid through a series of filter bags and also send it through other filters filled with black bone coal."
"What is black bone coal?" Bob demanded.
"Bone coal is a product made by burning and pulverizing the large bones left at the abbatoirs until a coarse-grained black powder not unlike emery sand is made; if this is not allowed to become too fine with using it is an excellent sugar filter. In fact, strangely enough, nothing has ever been found to take its place, and it has become a necessary but expensive agency employed in every sugar refinery. Quantities of it are used; in our refinery alone we have about a hundred bone coal filters and each one holds thirty tons of black bone coal. That will give you some idea how much of it is needed. We get nothing back on it, either, for in the process of using it becomes finer, and after that it is good for nothing unless, perhaps, to be made into cheap shoe-dressing. Unlike many of the other industries sugar refining has no by-products; by that I mean nothing on which the manufacturer may recover money. On the contrary in the leather business, for example, almost every scrap of material can either be utilized or sold for cash; odds and ends of the hides go into glue stock, small bits of leather are made into heel-taps or hardware fittings. But in refining cane-sugar there is nothing to be turned back into money to reimburse the manufacturer for his outlay. What isn't sugar is dead loss."
The three now moved on and saw how the heated juice traveled by means of pipes from one vat to another, and how it constantly became thicker and clearer.
"One of the greatest dangers to successful sugar making is fermentation," observed Mr. Hennessey. "Sugar must continually be stirred by revolving paddles to keep it from fermenting; we also are obliged to take the greatest care that our vats and all other receptacles are clean, and that the plant is immaculate. Frequently we wash down all the walls with a solution of lime in order that the entire interior of the refinery may be quite fresh."
"I didn't dream it was so much work to make white sugar," ventured Bob, a little awed. "Our maple-sugar making was much simpler."
"I'll venture to say it was," agreed Mr. Hennessey. "In the first place, you did not make such a quantity of it; then you did not try to get it white. Furthermore, you were content to take it in cakes. Making cane-sugar is, however, easy enough if one is careful and knows the exact way to do it. There is plenty of opportunity to spoil it—I'll admit that; but it is seldom that a batch of our sugar goes back on us. We have fine chemists who watch every step of the process and who constantly test samples of the liquid at every stage into which it passes until it comes out water-white."
"Then follows crystallization, and this too requires skilled workmen and extreme care. The water is evaporated and the sugar crystallized in the vacuum pans, the size crystal depending upon the temperature at which the liquid is boiled. It takes a lower temperature to form a small crystal and a higher one to form a large crystal. An expert who takes the temperature of the boiling sugar regulates what we call fine-grain or coarse-grain sugar by regulating the size of the crystals. By drawing off some of the liquid and examining it on a glass slide by electric light he can tell the precise moment at which the crystals are the right size. Each size has a name by which it is known in the trade: Diamond A; Fine Granulated; Coarse Granulated; Crystal Domino; Confectioners' A and so on."
They were walking as Mr. Hennessey talked. "After the sugar has been crystallized in the pans it passes into a mixer, where it is stirred and kept from caking until it is put into the centrifugal machines, which actually spin off the crystals. These machines are lined with gauze, and as they whirl at tremendous velocity they force out through this gauze the liquid part of the sugar and leave the sugar crystals inside the machine. When these are quite dry the bottom of the receptacle opens, and the granular sugar is dropped through into a large bin."
"But I should think it would stick together," objected Van.
"That's an intelligent objection, my boy," declared Mr. Hennessey, much pleased at Van's grasp of the subject. "It would stick if it were not dried off by a degree of heat just right to keep the particles separate and not allow them to cake. After this any dust or dirt adhering to the sugar is blown off by an air blast. The product is then ready to be pressed into moulds or cut; boxed in small packages of varying weights; or put into bags or barrels."
Mr. Hennessey led the way to another floor of the refinery.
Here were automatic machines upon which empty boxes traveled along until they reached a device that filled each one with the exact number of pounds to be contained in it, the package afterward passed to women who sealed it tightly and gave it the final touch before it was shipped. Other women were packing loaf or domino sugar, while down-stairs in a cooper shop men moved about constructing with great rapidity the barrels that were to carry larger quantities of sugar to the wholesale and retail stores.
"I guess by this time you've had all the sugar-making you want for one day," declared the superintendent. "I'm afraid I've given you quite a stiff lesson. You see I am so interested in it myself that I forget to have mercy on my listeners."
He smiled down at the boys.
"I'm sure we have had a fine morning with you, Mr. Hennessey, and we certainly have learned a lot," Bob said, putting out his hand. "I can't swear, though, that we could make white sugar even now."
"Faith, I'd be sorry if I thought I could teach any one the whole process in three hours. It would make my twenty years of study and hard work brand me as pretty stupid," chuckled the big superintendent.
A FAMILY TANGLE
It was not until the boys were in the motor-car and returning home that Bob ventured to mention to Van his strange behavior of the morning.
"What on earth was the matter with you, Van?" he asked.
Van stirred uneasily.
"Bobbie," he said, "I'm going to tell you something. I've been wondering whether I'd better or not, and at last I've decided to. I didn't want to go to your father's refinery to-day or, in fact, at all. You've all been very kind to me, although it was not until I got a letter from my father this morning that I realized how kind."
"Has your dad told you anything about my people?" he asked abruptly. "Of course he knows, but he may have thought best to keep it to himself; at any rate it has not prevented him from giving me as cordial a welcome to your home as he would if—"
"Well, if I weren't the person I am."
"What do you mean?"
"Why, he's trusted me and treated me as if he really liked me; and yet under the circumstances you can't expect him actually to mean it."
"Mean what? What are you talking about?"
"Hasn't he spoken to you about my father?"
"Of course not; why should he?"
"Then you haven't heard anything?"
"Not a word. I don't understand what you are driving at at all," Bob declared, somewhat irritated. "Out with it. What's the matter?"
Van hesitated as if uncertain how to begin.
"That's mighty white of your father," he murmured, breaking the pause. "You see, it is this way. When I wrote home that I was going to New Hampshire to visit my roommate the family wrote me to go ahead. I recall now that I didn't mention your last name; in fact I guess I haven't in any of my letters. When I did happen to write (which wasn't often) I've always spoken of you as Bob. So when I got to Allenville I dropped a line to Father to say I'd arrived safely and in the note I put something about Mr. Carlton. Father lit on it right away; he wished to know who these Carltons were. I replied they were Mr. and Mrs. Carlton, of course—the parents of my roommate. Upon that I got another letter from home in which Father inquired if your father was in the sugar business, and said that years ago he used to have a partner named James Carlton, who started in the sugar trade with him and with whom he later quarreled. He supposed this could not be the same person, but he just wondered if by any chance it was."
"Was that all he said?"
"No, but I don't like to tell you the rest, Bobbie."
"Fire away—unless it is something about Dad," Bob replied. "If it is I shan't listen, or at least I shan't believe it."
"It isn't exactly against your father. I do not understand it very well myself. My father just said that if your father was Mr. James Carlton and he was in the sugar business he felt that because of family misunderstandings it would be better if I did not visit here again. He was very sorry I had done it this time, but of course that could not be helped now."
"You don't mean to say he wants you to break off your friendship with me?" Bob gasped tremulously.
"No, he didn't seem to be opposed to you; he just was hot at your dad. He added that he didn't believe your family could have known who I was when they asked me here, and I am afraid that's true, Bobbie."
"Why, of course they knew! Haven't I spoken of you over and over again?" Bob protested indignantly.
Van shook his head.
"They knew I was your chum all right, Bob; but so far as details were concerned your family did not know much more about me than mine knew about you. Don't you recall how, when I arrived at Allenville, your father asked if I was one of the Sugar Blakes—Asa Blake's son?"
"Yes, I do remember that now, but—"
"That, you will recollect, was after I was landed at Allenville and your guest. Your father didn't know until that moment who I was, and when he found out he was too decent to say anything, or make it evident he didn't want me in the house. What could he do?"
Bob broke off from sheer inability to continue. He was much too bewildered.
"Your father sensed the awkwardness of the situation at once. Here you had gone to school and as ill luck would have it you had picked from out the entire bunch of boys the son of his worst enemy for a chum. Neither your father nor mine realized the truth until you innocently carted me home with you for a holiday visit. When your father found out the fact he was too polite to turn me out-of-doors; he just acted the gentleman and made the best of a bad dilemma," explained Van with appalling convincingness. "He even had the goodness to save my life the day we got lost on one of your New Hampshire mountains. He didn't tell you any of this because he didn't want to spoil your pleasure; but I am certain that if he had known who I was before I came he would not have allowed you to ask me into your home."
"Nonsense! You are way off. Why, he's been as interested in having you with us as I have; at least he has acted so."
"Acted is just the word," Van cut in. "He has acted, all right. I guess you'll find he's been acting all the time. Honor bright, hasn't he said anything to you about me?"
"No, not one word." Then suddenly Bob flushed; the memory of his father's strange conversation about the boy's visit to the refinery rushed over him. "Dad did say one thing which I did not understand at the time," he confessed reluctantly. "Perhaps, though, he did not mean anything by it."
"What was it?"
Bob struggled to evade the issue.
"Oh, it was nothing much."
"Come, Bobbie, you and I are friends," interrupted Van, "and we want to keep on being friends no matter how our fathers feel toward one another. If they have quarreled it is a great pity, but at least we needn't. The only way to straighten out this tangle is to be honest with each other and get at the truth; then, and not until then shall we know where we stand."
"You're a brick, Van!"
"Come ahead then—let's have it. What was it your father said?"
"He merely asked whether it was your plan or mine to visit the refinery, and when I told him I suggested it he inquired all over again if I was sure you did not mention it first," Bob returned in very low tone. The words seemed wrung from him, and he colored as he repeated them.
"Was that all?"
"Not quite. After I had convinced him that the trip was my own idea he said: 'Well, well—it can do no harm; the process is an open secret, anyway.'"
"You see I was right in my guess as to his feelings, Bobbie."
"Of course I was; this proves it."
"I'm afraid so," whispered Bob miserably.
"Now all this may explain to you why I was so queer when we were at the refinery this morning," Van continued, once more reverting to the subject. "Do you understand it any better?"
"I can see you didn't want Mr. Hennessey to tell you much about his processes."
"You bet I didn't. I was in an awful hole. I got that letter from my father just before we left the house, and I was all upset over it. I didn't know what to do. It was bad enough to be visiting you without being shown all through your father's business plant as if I were an honored guest. It didn't seem as if I ought to go at all. If your father knew who I was he certainly couldn't want me to; and if he didn't it was worse yet. At first I thought the only honorable thing was to go straight to him and have it out; but I found I hadn't the nerve. Then I thought I'd ride with you to the factory and not go in. What I dreaded was that we might run into something that I should have no right to see, and that was precisely what happened."
"So that was the reason you stopped Mr. Hennessey when he started to tell us the chemical formula?"
"Yes. He said it was a secret, and it seemed to me it would be wrong for me to listen. If I didn't know what that formula was I certainly couldn't tell it, and ignorance might help me out of an awkward position if any one should try to persuade me to."
"You are a trump, old man."
"It was only the square thing toward your father; he has been straight with me and I want to show him that I can be a gentleman, too."
The boys were silent for an interval; then Bob said:
"Now about this snarl, Van—what are we going to do? Certainly we fellows are not going to let this feud of our fathers affect us."
"Not by a jugful!" retorted Van with spirit. "The thing for us to do is to go right on being friends as if nothing had happened. It will make it all the easier that your father knows just who I am, and my father knows exactly who you are; it is franker and more in the open to have it so. If worse comes to worse we can talk the whole thing out with our families, and tell them how we feel. I am sure both your father and mine are too big to spoil a friendship like ours because of some fuss they had years and years ago. No, sir! I'm going to hold on to you, Bobbie, and," he added shyly, "I'm going to hold on to your father, too, if he'll let me, for I like him."
"I'm glad you like Dad," Bob said, flushing with pleasure. "I do myself."
"My dad isn't so bad, either," Van ventured with a dry little smile. "Some time you shall see for yourself."
"I hope so."
"Then it is agreed that we'll stick together, no matter what happens," said Van solemnly.
"You may bank on me," was Bob's earnest answer.
MR. CARLTON MAKES A WAGER AND WINS
As the boys sat at dinner that evening Mr. Carlton inquired about their trip to the refinery, and with a humorous twinkle in his eye added:
"I do not suppose you would care to put in another day on factory visiting, would you?"
"What do you mean, Dad?" asked Bob.
"I was wondering whether you would like to see where some of our sugar goes," was his father's answer. "Would you be interested to take a tour through the Eureka Candy Factory to-morrow and learn how candy is made?"
"I should," responded Bob promptly.
"And you, Van?" demanded Mr. Carlton with a kindly smile.
"I'd like it of all things," said Van, returning the smile frankly.
"Very well. You shall spend to-morrow at the Eureka Company's factory. They are big customers of ours and when I telephoned them today they told me they would be glad to have you come, and promised to show you all about."
"Are you sure they would want me to come, Mr. Carlton?" asked Van, looking squarely into the eyes of the older man.
"Why not? You're a chum of Bob's, aren't you?"
"Yes. But, you see, that isn't all."
With one searching glance Mr. Carlton scanned the lad's face.
"No, Van," he replied with quiet emphasis, "that is not all. You are more than Bob's chum—you are a friend of mine, too."
The boy flushed.
"I'd like to think so, Mr. Carlton."
"I want you to know so, Van. I happened to see Mr. Hennessey," he went on in a lower tone, "and he related to me that incident at the factory. Of course he did not understand it, but I did—instantly. I appreciated your sense of honor, my boy."
"I wanted to be square."
"You were a gentleman in the very best sense of the word."
A great gladness glowed in Van's eyes, for terse as was the phrase it bore to him the very recognition he had coveted from Bob's father. Mr. Carlton, however, did not enlarge upon the subject, but casting it swiftly into the background asked:
"Are you sure you both would rather spend your last morning in New York going through a candy factory than doing anything else? Factories are tiresome places, you must remember."
"But a candy factory could never be tiresome!" asserted Bob.
His father laughed.
"There are just as many miles in a candy factory as any other," he replied. "Any of the men who work there would tell you that, I fancy."
"But they are such nice miles!" argued Bob. "Don't you say we go, Van?"
"I sure do. I want to see how they dip chocolates," Van answered.
"It's all aboard to-morrow morning, then," Mr. Carlton said as he lit his after-dinner cigar.
"There's one thing, Dad, that it's only fair to warn you about," called Bob, turning on the lowest step of the stairway to address his father. "Our expedition may cost you something. You see they probably won't let us eat any candy at the factory; we'll just have to walk round with our eyes open and our hands crammed into our pockets to keep from swiping it. All the time we'll be getting up a tremendous candy appetite, and the minute we get outside we'll just have to make a bee-line for the first candy shop in sight and get filled up. So you must be prepared to cash in for refreshments."
The corners of Mr. Carlton's mouth twisted into an enigmatic smile.
"I'll agree to pay for as much candy as you care to eat," he said, accepting the challenge without objection.
Bob stared at him.
"Do you mean it?"
"Certainly. Why do you question it?"
"But"—faltered Bob in amazement, "you never promised anything like that before."
"I may never promise it again, so make the most of it," was the dry retort.
Although Bob did not reply he by no means forgot the unprecedented offer, and that the memory of it might be equally fresh in his father's mind he spoke of it once again when the three parted the next morning.
"Well, Dad, we're off for the Bonbon World," he called as he passed the library door where his father sat looking over the morning's mail. "Remember you are going to O.K. any candy bills we run up."
"I'm backing you for all you can eat," nodded Mr. Carlton.
"Dad sure is game!" Bob declared as he and Van stepped into the waiting motor-car and began their ride to the factory. "He'll play it out, too. He never goes back on his word."
"I'm afraid he'll be in for something then," grinned Van.
Both boys were more than ever convinced of the truth of this remark when they entered the factory and were greeted by the mingled aroma of chocolate, wintergreen and molasses.
"I could eat ten pounds of chocolates this minute!" exclaimed Van.
"Go easy. Remember, we've got to wait until we have made the entire tour of this factory before we can have so much as a single caramel. You mustn't go getting up your appetite so soon."
"But smell it, Bobbie! Why, the whole place is one mellifluous smudge. What do you say we chuck Colversham and get a job here? Think of having pounds of candy—tons of it—around all the time! Wouldn't it be a snap!"
Van was cut short in his rhapsody by the approach of a pleasant faced lad of about his own age who was dressed from head to foot in white and wore a little white cap, across the front of which was printed in gold letters the word Eureka.
"Are you Mr. Carlton?" he inquired of Van.
"I'm not, but my chum is."
"We were expecting you," the boy answered, turning to Bob. "I am to show you and your friend through the works. Will you kindly step this way?"
Tagging at the heels of their white-robed guide Bob and Van made their way through a large storeroom stacked to the ceiling with fancy boxes of various sizes, shapes, and colors.
"Give up Colversham, Bob, and maybe you could come here and wear a white suit every day and personally conduct visitors through the works; perhaps they'd even pay you in bonbons," whispered Van.
"He must be about our age," returned Bob. "I wonder what they pay him."
"I'd lots rather have had a man take us round," said Van softly. "Do you suppose this fellow knows anything?"
All the way up in the elevator the two visitors watched the white-suited boy curiously and when they alighted in the large, sun-flooded room at the top of the factory they were still speculating as to his age and how much he earned, and marveling that so young a representative should have been selected to explain to them the candy industry.
The room they entered was high and airy and at the further end of it, moving amid steam that rose from a score of copper kettles, a great many men in spotless white were hurrying about.