Immagini della pagina

66 Well;

the way in which he dwelt on the sue quiet methods, at least until I s.rould 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. thought 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

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-aboutbad 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 bog but a grunt,” says the rough old this advertising cominission, 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 ? "

[ocr errors]




[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

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, Philetus 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, his 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 be, “Fips has been talkpeople about? I could see something ing to me about it. Are you in with fair enough in paying Gorum in his

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 concluded 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 ?”

were :

[ocr errors]

• Do so.




[ocr errors]



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 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 a 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 utcs, 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 smash, 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


[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Farm, and those anxious sub-tenants perfect good faith, as a sound and hon won'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 nual 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 bave 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 alive.

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 ?"



[ocr errors]


and you

so forth.


[ocr errors]


-"you said you had been calculating abundance of the only occupation I on a year's vacation to write a book, or love; offers thrice as many as I can something ?”

accept. “Yes, sir.”

As for Fips, he has gone far on Mr. “Well, I'll furnish you the money, Mantilini's path to “the demnition can you give security for it?"

bow-wows." The affairs of the Company “No, sir-yes, I can. My books are quickly became so unsatisfactory that worth it, or nearly."

the trustees and chief stockholders“But you want them to write with ?” mainly on a hint from Spurling, I beNo."

lieve-found it necessary to call an in“Well, never mind. Give me a bill formal meeting, silence Fips by threats of sale of the books. Young men ought of prosecution, thrust him summarily never to be allowed to borrow a cent forth, and intrust their sickly body-cor. without giving security. I'll advance porate to a shrewd business dry-nurse. you the money,

shall keep the In this reverse of fortune, Fips made books in your own hands. You won't an effort to get the secretaryship of a go and sell 'em over again ?” he added, Fire Insurance Company, and sought with a quizzical assumption of suspi- to forward bis design by a curious decion.

vice. He made a vigorous attempt to “No, sir."

be admitted a member of Pilgrim He would not let me thank hin, pre- Church. I was told—I don't know how tending to be very harsh in exacting true it is—that when Fips went to old interest, fixing terms of repayment, and Deacon Flagg, and applied for the

usual examination preliminary to ad

mission, the old gentleman gravely My book has been more successful replied: than it deserved. It was--I may in- Very sorry, Mr. Fips, but the church form you, my friendly reader, in strict is full. There isn't a single vacancy. confidence--and to use the obliging If there should be one, I'll let you terms of one of my publishers' adver- know.” tisements (“Did I draft the ad my- I can hardly believe that the good self?" No impertinent questions !), old Deacon would be so funny as that " that highly successful and very popu- on such a subject; but however that lar novel," "The Sangreal of To-day." may be, Fips neither obtained his Yes, I wrote that book-though old church-membership nor his secretaryJohn Spurling is perhaps really the ship. I believe he is at present diliauthor of it. It was very naughty in gently trotting about as an agent for me to contrive to have it credited to the Dartford Accidental Catarrh Insur“a new and most promising young ance Company. I met him in Broadlady-writer," I admit. But I couldn't way the other morning. He was very resist the temptation; and it was un- well dressed, but I couldn't catch his commonly funny to read the criticisms

eye. and see how all the reviews picked out -Upon reading over what I have the weaknesses of the female character written, I see with surprise that the in it, and showed how much better a Feminine Element is entirely wanting. man would have done it. And so it I can't help it. No woman was conwas to receive letters from the jolly cerned in the affair; and I couldn't be publishers with checks, and addressed expected to invent a whole woman, just (within only), “Dear Marm.” I have to put her into a story?

VOL. II.-15


« IndietroContinua »