Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

-"ye-es.

[ocr errors]

“Well," I said, “ the good ship is “ Eighteen thousand ?" said I. “It safely embarked on her voyage, Mr. is one and eight-tenths per cent. on a Fips. I congratulate you on an enter million. You would secure that sub.prise so evidently successful. I take it scription dog-cheap for such an outlay. for granted that an assignment of stock And you know well enough that I know was provided for yourself for your time how to make an advertisement tell." and trouble and services in organizing “Hmm,” reflected Fips again. It is and managing the Company. Mr. Fips, odd, but that man always looked foolcounting that, and adding regular sal- ishest when he tried to be wisest. ary, you are worth at least Fifty Thou “ Ye-es,” he said again, as if thinking sand Dollars to-day, aren't you ? "

I had thought of doing He hesitated a moment. I resumed, that advertising. It would be well. cheerfully, “ All made out of your own Ye-es. Fifteen hundred dollars." He especial enterprise here in about a month. looked at me with an expression as if An independent fortune!”

he meant to show a kind of surprise at My tone of admiration kindled his the amount. “ That's a great deal of vanity. “Yes,” he said, with a good money, Mr. Gasby--a great deal of deal of pomp, “yes, Fifty Thousand ? money!” I call myself worth twice that!"

Well, Fips spoke the truth, so far as “Better than niggling round to get I was concerned. For poor me, it was two-hundred-dollar commissions out of indeed a great deal of money-more, old Gorum, and then having him scalp ten times over, than in my drudging you out of 'em just because he can," I newspaper-back's life I had ever posanswered. “But see bere, this is what sessed at one time. Potentially, it was I came to say. Now is your time to far more than the hundred thousand change your advertisement. This one dollars which I was really well pleased that's running now won't fill your sub to see Fips enjoy so keenly. For him, scription. It only tells what we are the money was simply money. For me, going to do. We've got land and that fifteen hundred dollars would open money. We ought now to tell what we the door of a whole year of freedom-& have done. This ad has set things a golden year of liberty for my soul, in going. Now there should be another; which to speak my best thoughts in my longer, larger, grander, in five times as best words—to paint all the beautiful many newspapers. With one such bold forms and noble deeds, the fresh characand decided investment every share of ters and striking thoughts that had 80 this stock can be sold. Don't you see long lived and shone in my mind, and it?"

which I had so patiently endured not to I spoke with some enthusiasm. It write. I was sure I could write a good was with a certain surprise that I saw Romance. If I should, my own chosen that Fips was unsympathetic. Indeed, career lay open before me. If not, still he looked a little embarrassed; wrig- it was worth a world to make the trial, gled in his chair; hesitated; and only and know at least what I could not do. said at last, with a perceptible stiffness The intensity of such longings is inand coldness,

describable and unintelligible, except to “Yes, Gasby, I see it—what there is those who have themselves felt the of it. How much would that ad of yearning, painful wish of creative imyours cost ?"

pulses ungratified — the artist's own I figured a moment.

pain. Such thoughts had been whirl“ About eighteen thousand dollars." ing and seething in my mind ever since “ And your percentage on it ?” the advertisement business had been put

“ Well-perhaps fifteen hundred dolinto my hands. As Fips spoke, they lars."

danced and glittered before me with “Hmm," said Fips, meditatively. more enticing charms than ever, all A good deal of money."

summoned up in one bright band by

the way in which he dwelt on the sue quiet methods, at least until I should words. So I answered him, speaking find out exactly what he meant. out my feelings with unaccustomed free All this observation and resolution dom, as to an assured friend. Fips had had occupied but an instant. As I done very fairly by me, and—to return stopped short, on discerning Mr. Viceto him the certificate with which he President's occupation, he looked up had so often favored me—I “knew he after a moment, and asked coolly, was a good fellow."

“ Hmm! A- what did you re“Yes," I answered; and with a good mark ?” deal of emotion I rose and paced the I felt another hot flash of anger; but room—"yes, it is a great deal of money. controlled it, and spoke in pursuance I never had so much in my life. It is a of my new resolution, and with a sharp, whole year's living. It may be the new, and true idea in my mind of the means of giving me a reputation and a man I was dealing with. fortune. It will give me a whole year “I say, the Company is turning out to accomplish an enterprise that I have remarkably successful, so far. And been half sick to try, this five years. It about this new and further advertising ?” is the best chance—the only chance-I Fips arose in his turn, and walked, I have ever had, to be a successful man. thougbt rather uneasily, once or twice It is for me as much as your success in across the room, At last he said : this Company is for you. Perhaps it is “ Well ; I have been thinking I would more, Mr. Fips” "

like to get an offer from you. I have I spoke with profound feeling, which been wanting to talk to you about it”increased with the speaking. As I now

Still he stepped uneasily about. appealed directly to my companion--I Presently he executed a right-abouthad been looking only at the carpet face, flung himself into a chair by the I turned short and looked at him. He window, looked first over at the old was intensely summing a column of brown tombstones, and then up at the figures upon a handful of papers on the cornice of the ceiling, and at last, withtable, his lips moving as his pencil ran out looking at me, he said doggedly, up the lines.

with his thumbs in his waistcoat armA great fury came into my heart as I holes, suddenly saw what all this meant; and “What will you do it for? Make me I was the more enraged at the cool, an offer." silent, brutal incivility of the way in

I was white-hot inside, but managed which Mr. Fips chose to convey to me

to appear quite cool. the intimation of his views. Yet I real Well," I said, as if meditating, ly believe he did not mean any incivil “ what are your views ? You know ity; I think he took the neatest way what our express understanding was his vulgar nature could suggest to con when I obtained you that three months' vey a hint. I took it. “He means to time with Spreademout & Co. ?" break that promise,” I said to myself. Fips made answer without any referHad I held any thing in my hand, I ence to the latter inquiry : should surely have flung it in his face. “I had pretty much concluded to It was foolish to be so rude in begin offer you a round sum." ning his falsehood, of course. But “Now, suppose,” said I, by way of what can you expect of a born vul experiment, “ the thing were to be argarian ? “You can have nothing of a ranged this way: You to receive half hog but a grunt,” says the rough old this advertising commission, and I proverb. After an instant of almost half ?" ungovernable anger, I caught recollec He said nothing. After a moment I tion enough to consider that I was resumed : really helpless in the matter, and that Say, you three fourths, and I one I might as well hide my wrath and pur- fourth ?”

*

Fips sat up straight, with a sort of idea of my next move.

I left New prompt movement. Said he,

York by the very next train. “I think that would be just about right."

In one week I returned, and went “I thought that would satisfy you," promptly to the office of the Company. I observed. “You have the whole As I entered, I could hear the voice of control of the thing in your own hands, Pbiletus Fips, Esq., in earnest converse of course."

with some one in the inner office. But “ Certainly,” said he. “I know that in the outer office, bis broad back comperfectly well."

fortably displayed over against the fire “Now, Fips,” said I, “are you not and his hands folded behind him, stood scalping me out of eleven hundred and mine and my father's old friend, that twenty-five dollars just because you well-known and substantial merchant, can, exactly as old Gorum scalped you old John Spurling, of Oldport. The out of two hundred ?"

stately old man was glad to see me, and Fips looked very mean, but very

said so. dogged; and he answered not a word. “ Are you going to put any thing in I asked again, coolly enough:

here ?" I asked him very quietly, as we “ Was. that what you meant when shook hands. you said you would see who would kick “Why,” said he,“Fips has been talkpeople about? I could see something ing to me about it. Are you in with fair enough in paying Gorum in bis him?" own coin, but isn't it rather rough to “Well, not particularly," I rejoined. turn round and squeeze me to make up “But don't conclude positively on any for what Gorum got out of you ? As thing until you've seen me again-say, you yourself said about Gorum,” I con- this evening. There's news. But not a cluded, with a sarcastic parody of Fips' word to Fips !" own sentimental vein, “it's painful to Capitalists are as suspicious as foxes. be served so by one that you thought The old man readily promised ; and we was a friend."

appointed the meeting. Apologizing Fips looked uncomfortable; but he to Mr. Spurling for delaying him a replied, with an evident resolute ignor- moment, I passed into the inner room ing of any ethical element in the mat- as the customer went out, Mr. Fips' last ter,

words coming along with him, as it "Well; that's about what I've con- were : cluded to do about it, Business is " — not a penny less than twelve per business, you know. The fact is, I could cent. a month." get it done even cheaper. I'm really “Well, Fips,” said I, as I sat down, doing you a favor."

“prosperous as ever, I see. How much I had no further points to make, hav- will Spurling put in ?” ing thus explicitly showed the dog his He mumbled something or other, lookown promise to me, and his own absurd ing at once surprised, sheepish, and attitude in repeating on me Gorum's surly. It is very true that I asked him trick on him. So I merely added, rather to plague him than for any real

“I'll tell you what; a few days won't purpose. make any difference. Let me think it “Why, confound it, man," I remonover. If I can't do any better, I'll come strated, “ I'm your fellow-operator and to your terms."

stockholder, and interested to know. " Very good," said Mr. Vice-President Besides, if you don't tell me I'll see Fips, with an obvious sense of relief, as about a paragraph in the daily papers of one completing an uncommonly dirty to-morrow. I know all the newspaperjob; and I went away, probably the men, you know. And what differangriest man on the continent of North ence does it make whether I know or America, but with a remarkably distinct not ?”

66

Fips, ignorant whether I couldn't let ness and intrigue up there; how I had loose all the papers on him, was rather examined into all the purchases of lands bullied, and made a great effort to be made by Fips for the Company; how cordial, though he evidently disliked to they looked all right, but how all the reply. At last he said that Mr. Spurling opinions I could gather were unaniproposed to invest $75,000.

mous in this one point: that Fips had * Very good," said I, " that will be paid rather more than the current value very convenient to develop the oil-lands of all the land he had bought. That we have bought. Now, about that was just the phrase—“rather more than commission. I won't allow you a single the current value; a not very dangercent of it."

ous-looking statement, until you remem“Very well,” replied Fips, with a lit- ber what a furious high-tide of speculatle effort, as when one seeks to hide dis- tive prices it was that had thus been agreeable surprise." Very well. You overtopped. can do as you like. I shall put the “Now," I concluded, “here he prebusiness into other hands, of course." tends to be running this concern for the “Do so. Good-day to you.”

benefit of the stockholders, and he has “Good-day”—with a great affecta- expended for oil-lands, as my memoranda tion of absorption, and much fumbling show, and as the books will show,-for among some papers. And I departed, they will correspond to the record enjust lifting a finger at stout old Mr. tries in Pennsylvania—all the money Spurling as I passed, as much as to say, thus far received by the Company, sume “ Beware !” like a warning phantom in slight margin excepted. Where is the & melodrama.

money to come from to develop them ?"

Why,” said Spurling, “ from further I found Mr. Spurling at his hotel in subscriptions to the stock.” the evening, and he greeted me right “ Was he going to use your $75,000 cordially.

to develop or to buy?" To begin with,” said the fine old The old gentleman was a little starfellow, “let the business wait five min- tled. “To buy, to be sure," he said at utes, and tell me all about yourself. I last. "He wants to get hold of that haven't seen you for five years. Where Roe Farm at $80,000. Parties are have you been? What have you been anxious to get sub-leases on it, on terms doing? How do you get on? How that will give two per cent, a month on much are you worth? Are you making that investment, any how." money? Are you married ? Any chil- “Look here, Mr. Spurling. There dren?”

isn't an oil-well on the Company's lands And the old man laughed at his own —not one single one. There isn't the string of questions, and I laughed too. money left in bank to-day to sink one

“ Nowhere, nothing, nohow, no, none. well. Here he wants to spend $5,000 At any rate, I have only a negative for more than this money of yours that he all your expectations. I believe I know sees coming, for another one hundred rather more than I did when I came and fifty acres of wild upland without down to this wicked city; but I've one well on it. If he kept half his regained nothing otherwise, except age. ceipts to develop with, and managed There's really nothing to tell in the life the affair in good faith, and with good of a newspaper understrapper. I've business ability, I think it would be really nothing to tell except the busi- safe. But at this rate, you know the ness errand."

concern must sırash, for Fips' first ad“ Well, let's have that, then."

vertisement claimed that oil was being I proceeded to tell very briefly how I received then; and it won't be many had just been up into Venango County weeks before somebody will insist either and Timothyville; how I had found a on dividends or on an account-sales of regular Pandemonium of greasy wicked- oil. Let him once pay for this Roe

66

Farm, and those anxious sub-tenants perfect good faith, as a sound and honwon't be forthcoming."

est undertaking; and such it would “But what does he want, then ?” have been, if properly managed. And queried Spurling. “He can't be steal here this fellow has made me help him ing, as I see. The vouchers are on file in a systematic swindle. I suspected for every cent of money, and the deeds that as soon as I found they had bought are recorded for every inch of dirt." the office-oil specimens ready made;

“See here." I took out my pocket and I fully satisfied myself of it when I memorandum-book. “ Here is an entry went up the country. I went into the that I made from the words of the agent office that day to threaten Fips that if that's trying to sell that very Roe Farm. he didn't at once set about putting the I took them down on the land, -the Company into a safe business condition, agent made me the offer himself, pro I would have his institution shown up vided I could find him a purchaser.” in all the papers. If he would have I pointed out the entry, and Mr. Spur- done that, I would have waited and ling read: “Ten per cent. commission watched until the annual meeting. But for purchaser at $80,000 cash. Roe.” when I found you there, I saw at once

“Now," I continued, "Fips is simply that the proper course for me was to spending all the Company's money in save your money first, if you thought of bad bargains for high-priced lands, investing.” simply for the sake of the neat com “Well, Gasby, I don't know but you mission which he retains as per oral have done it. I'll see how their acagreement at completing his bargain. counts stand, and what they say on the If he has laid out $125,000 in this way, question of oil actually furnished. If he has retained $12,500 at least. Your they have spent up as close as you say, $75,000 is worth $8,000 to him." I'll look sharp. But I guess you would

“Hmm?” said Spurling, with the enjoy for yourself, a little, his not getrising inflection--that is, reflectively. ting my money, as well as my saving it “That's a pretty square charge against a —hey ?” business man. How are you going to “A good deal,” I said; a good

deal, both of 'em." “I don't expect to prove it by affi “Well, well, we'll see. Call here davits of the parties," I said. “He again to-morrow evening, will you—if won't tell, and the other fellows won't you'd like to know how it goes ?” tell. But judge for yourself. How “I will ;” and I went about my busidoes it look?"

" I hate to think ill of any body," said old John, “What made you think of In the course of the next day I rethis thing, and what's your particular ceived a note from Fips, intimating need of chocking his wheels ?"

that he would like to make me a propo"I'll tell you." And I gave him a sition. To this I paid no attention; short history of all my own dealings for the more I considered the state of with Fips, enlarging perhaps rather affairs, the less probable did it seem to more than was necessary on my poor me that the concerns of the Company little story so brutally slaughtered be could be carried to a prosperous issue fore it was live.

in his hands. I went to see Spurling “ Personal revenge, isn't it, my boy?” again in the evening. He seemed to be said the old man, when I was through. feeling very comfortably, and observed

“ Most assuredly, for my own part,” with wisdom, I answered. “ But do you object to “A penny saved is a penny earned, promoting a just revenge which is ac my boy. Take supper with me." complished by saving you $75,000 ? " I did-and a good one. He laughed. I added :

“ See here,” he said suddenly, at a “I took hold of this enterprise in little pause in the chat and the eating

prove it ?”

ness.

*

« VorigeDoorgaan »