The Moneychangers
Upton Sinclair

Part 4 out of 5

what this meant; and he had time enough to think it over and make up
his mind. "Well?" he said, when Oliver came in. "It's come again,
has it?"

"Yes," said Oliver, "it has."

"Another 'sure thing'?"

"Dead sure. Are you coming in?" Oliver asked, after a moment.

Montague shook his head. "No," he said. "I think once was enough for

"You don't mean that, Allan!" protested the other.

"I mean it," was the reply.

"But, my dear fellow, that is perfectly insane! I have information
straight from the inside--it's as certain as the sunrise!"

"I have no doubt of that," responded Montague. "But I am through
with gambling in Wall Street. I've seen enough of it, Oliver, and
I'm sick of it. I don't like the emotions it causes in me--I don't
like the things it makes me do."

"You found the money came in useful, didn't you?" said Oliver,

"Yes, I can use what I've got."

"And when that's gone?"

"I don't know about that yet. But I'll find some way that I like

"All right," said Oliver; "it's your own lookout. I will make my own
little pile."

They rode down town in a cab together. "Where does your information
come from this time?" asked Montague.

"The same source," was the reply.

"And is it Transcontinental again?"

"No," said Oliver; "it's another stock."

"What is it?"

"It's Mississippi Steel," was the answer.

Montague turned and stared at him. "Mississippi Steel!" he gasped.

"Why, yes," said Oliver. "What's that to you?" he added, in

"Mississippi Steel!" Montague ejaculated again. "Why, didn't you
know about my relations with the Northern Mississippi Railroad?"

"Of course," said Oliver; "but what's that got to do with
Mississippi Steel?"

"But it's Price who is managing the deal--the man who owns the
Mississippi Steel Company!"

"Oh," said the other, "I had forgotten that." Oliver's duties in
Society did not give him much time to ask about his brother's

"Allan," he added quickly, "you won't say anything about it!"

"It's none of my business now," answered the other. "I'm out of it.
But naturally I am interested to know. What is it--a raid on the

"It's going down," said Oliver.

Montague sat staring ahead of him. "It must be the Steel Trust," he
whispered, half to himself.

"Nothing more likely," was the reply. "My tip comes from that

"Do you suppose they are going to try to break Price?"

"I don't know; I guess they could do it if they made up their mind

"But he owns a majority of the stock!" said Montague. "They can't
take it away from him outright."

"Not if he's got it locked up in his safe," was the reply; "and if
he's got no debts or obligations. But suppose he's overextended; and
suppose some bank has loaned him money on the stock--what then?"

Montague was now keenly interested. He went with his brother while
the latter drew his money from the bank, and called at his brokers
and ordered them to sell Mississippi Steel. The other was called
away then by an engagement in court, which occupied him for several
hours; when he came out, he made for the nearest ticker, and the
first figures he saw were Mississippi Steel--quoted at nearly twenty
points below the price of the morning!

The bare figures were eloquent to him of many tragedies; they
brought before him half a dozen different personalities, with their
triumphs and despairs. He could read in them the story of a Titan
struggle. Oliver had made his killing; but what of Price and Ryder?
Montague knew that most of Price's stock was hypothecated at the
Gotham Trust. And now what would become of it? And what would become
of the Northern Mississippi?

He bought the afternoon papers. Their columns were full of the
sensational events of the day. The bottom had dropped out of
Mississippi Steel, as they phrased it. The wildest rumours were
afloat. The Company was known to be making enormous extensions, and
it was said to have overreached itself; there were whispers that its
officers had been speculating, that the Company would be unable to
meet the next quarterly payment upon its bonds, that a receivership
would be necessary. There were hints that the concern was to be
taken over by the Trust, but this was vigorously denied by officers
of the latter.

All of which had come like a bolt out of the blue. To Montague it
was an amazing and terrible thing. It counted little to him that he
was out of the struggle himself; that he no longer had anything to
lose personally. He was like a man who had been through an
earthquake, and who stood and stared at a gaping crack in the
ground. Even though he was safe at the moment, he could not forget
that this was the earth upon which he had to spend the rest of his
life, and that the next crack might open where he stood.

Montague could not see that there was the least chance for Price and
Ryder; he pictured them bowled clean out, and he would not have been
surprised to read that they were ruined. But apparently they
weathered the storm. The episode passed with no more than a crop of
rumours. Mississippi Steel did not go back, however; and he noticed
that Northern Mississippi stock had also "gone off" eight or ten
points on the curb.

It was a period of great anxiety in the financial world. Men felt
the unrest, even though they could not give definite reasons. There
had been several panics in the stock market throughout the summer;
and leading financiers and railroad presidents seemed to have got
the habit of prognosticating the ruin of the country every time they
made a speech at a banquet.

But apparently men could not agree about the causes of the trouble.
Some insisted that it was owing to the speeches of the President, to
his attacks upon the great business interests of the country. Others
maintained that the world's supply of capital was inadequate, and
pointed out the destruction of great wars and earthquakes and fires.
Others argued that there was not enough currency to do the country's
business. Now and again there rose above the din the shrill voice of
some radical who declared that the stock collapses had been brought
about deliberately; but such statements seemed so preposterous that
they were received with ridicule whenever they were heeded at all.
To Montague the idea that there were men in the country sufficiently
powerful to wreck its business, and sufficiently unscrupulous to use
their power--the idea seemed to him sensational and absurd.

But he had a talk about it one evening with Major Venable, who
laughed at him. The Major named half a dozen men--Waterman and Duval
and Wyman among them--who controlled ninety per cent of the banks in
the Metropolis. They controlled all three of the big insurance
companies, with their resources of four or five hundred million
dollars; one of them controlled a great transcontinental railroad
system, which alone kept a twenty-or thirty-million dollar "surplus"
for stock-gambling purposes.

"If any two or three of those men were to make up their minds,"
declared the Major, "they could wreck the business of this country
in a day. If there were stocks they wanted to pick up, they could
knock them to any price they chose."

"How would they do it?" asked the other.

"There are many ways. You noticed that the last big slump began with
the worst scarcity of money the Street has known for years. Now
suppose those men should gradually accumulate a lot of cash in the
banks, and make an agreement to withdraw it at a certain hour.
Suppose that the banks that they own, and the banks where they own
directors, and the insurance companies which they control--suppose
they all did the same! Can't you imagine the scurrying around for
money, the calling in of loans, the rush to realise on holdings? And
when you have a public as nervous as ours is, when you have credit
stretched to the breaking-point, and everybody involved--don't you
see the possibilities?"

"It seems like playing with dynamite," said Montague.

"It's not as bad as it might be," was the answer. "We are saved by
the fact that these big men don't get together. There are too many
jealousies and quarrels. Waterman wants easy money, and gets the
Treasury Department to lend ten millions; Wyman, on the other hand,
wants high prices, and he goes into the Street and borrows fifteen
millions; and so it goes. There are a half dozen big banking groups
in the city--"

"They are still competing, then?" asked Montague.

"Oh, yes," said the Major. "For instance, they fight for the
patronage of the out-of-town banks. The banks all over the country
send their reserves to New York; it's a matter of four or five
hundred million dollars, and that's an enormous power. Some of the
big banks are agents for one or two thousand institutions, and
there's the keenest kind of struggle going on. It's not an easy
thing to follow, of course; but they offer all kinds of secret
advantages--there's more graft in it than you'd find in Russia."

"I see," said Montague.

"There's only one thing about which the banks are agreed," continued
the other. "That is their hatred of the independent trust companies.
You see, the national banks have to keep twenty-five per cent
reserve, while the trust companies only keep five per cent.
Consequently they do a faster business, and they offer four per
cent, and advertise widely, and they are simply driving the banks to
the wall. There are over fifty of them in this city alone, and
they've got over a billion of the people's money. And, mark my word,
that is where you'll see blood spilled before long."

And Montague was destined to remember the prophecy.

A couple of days later occurred an incident which gave him a new
light upon the situation. His brother came around one afternoon,
with a letter in his hand. "Allan," he said, "what do you make of

Montague glanced at it, and saw that it was from Lucy Dupree.

"My dear Ollie," it read. "I find myself in an embarrassing
position, owing to the fact that some business arrangements upon
which I had counted have fallen through. The money which I brought
with me to New York is nearly all gone, and, as you can understand,
my position as a stranger is a difficult one. I have a note which
Stanley Ryder gave me for my stock. It is for a hundred and forty
thousand dollars, and is due in three months. It occurred to me that
you might know someone who has some ready cash, and who would like
to purchase the note. I should be very glad to sell it for a hundred
and thirty thousand. Please do not mention it except in confidence."

"Now, what in the world do you suppose that means?" said Oliver.

The other stared at him. "I am sure I can't imagine," he replied.

"How much money did Lucy have when she came here?"

"She had three or four thousand dollars. But then, she got ten
thousand from Stanley Ryder when he bought that stock."

"She can't have spent any such sum of money!" exclaimed Oliver.

"She may have invested it," said the other, thoughtfully.

"Invested nothing!" exclaimed Oliver.

"But that's not what puzzles me," said Montague. "Why doesn't Ryder
discount the note himself?"

"That's just it! What business has he letting Lucy hawk his notes
about the town?"

"Maybe he doesn't know it. Maybe she's trying to keep her affairs
from him."

"Nonsense!" Oliver replied. "I don't believe anything of the sort.
What I think is that Stanley Ryder is doing it himself."

"How do you mean?" asked Montague, in perplexity.

"I believe that he is trying to get his own note discounted. I don't
believe that Lucy would ever come to us of herself. She'd starve
first. She's too proud."

"But Stanley Ryder!" protested Montague. "The president of the
Gotham Trust Company!"

"That's all right," said Oliver. "It's his own note, and not the
Trust Company's; and I'll wager you he's hard up for cash. There was
a big realty company that failed the other day, and I saw that Ryder
was one of the stockholders. And he's been hit by that Mississippi
Steel slump, and I'll wager you he's scurrying around to raise
money. It's just like Lucy, too. Before he gets through, he'll take
every dollar she owns."

Montague said nothing for a minute or two. Suddenly he clenched his
hands. "I must go up and see her," he said.

Lucy had moved from the expensive hotel to which Oliver had taken
her, and rented an apartment on Riverside Drive. Montague went up
early the next morning.

She came and stood in the doorway of the drawing-room and looked at
him. He saw that she was paler than she had been, and with lines of
pain upon her face.

"Allan!" she said. "I thought you would come some day. How could you
stay away so long?"

"I didn't think you would care to see me," he said.

She did not answer. She came and sat down, continuing to gaze at
him, with a kind of fear in her eyes.

Suddenly he stretched out his hands to her. "Lucy!" he exclaimed.
"Won't you come away from here? Won't you come, before it is too

"Where can I go?" she asked.

"Anywhere!" he said. "Go back home."

"I have no home," she answered.

"Go away from Stanley Ryder," said Montague. "He has no right to let
you throw yourself away."

"He has not let me, Allan," said Lucy. "You must not blame him--I
cannot bear it." She stopped.

"Lucy," he said, after a pause, "I saw that letter you wrote to

"I thought so," said she. "I asked him not to. It wasn't fair--"

"Listen," he said. "Will you tell me what that means? Will you tell
me honestly?"

"Yes, I will tell you," she said, in a low voice.

"I will help you if you are in trouble," he continued; "but I will
not help Stanley Ryder. If you are permitting him to use you--"

"Allan!" she gasped, in sudden excitement. "You don't think that he
knew I wrote?"

"Yes, I thought it," said he.

"Oh, how could you!" she cried.

"I knew that he was in trouble."

"Yes, he is in trouble, and I wanted to help him, if I could. It was
a crazy idea, I know; but it was all I could think of."

"Oh, I understand," said Montague.

"And don't you see that I cannot leave him?" exclaimed Lucy. "Now of
all times--when he needs help--when his enemies have surrounded him?
I'm the only person in the world who cares anything about him--who
really understands him--"

Montague could think of nothing to say.

"I know how it hurts you," said Lucy, "and don't think that I have
not cared. It is a thought that never leaves me! But some day I know
that you will understand; and the rest of the world--I don't care
what the world says."

"All right, Lucy," he answered, sadly. "I see that I can't be of any
help to you. I won't trouble you any more."


Another month passed by. Montague was buried in his work, and he
caught but faint echoes of the storm that rumbled in the financial
world. It was a thing which he thought of with wonder in future
times--that he should have had so little idea of what was coming. He
seemed to himself like some peasant who digs with bent head in a
field, while armies are marshalling for battle all around him; and
who is startled suddenly by the crash of conflict, and the bursting
of shells about his head.

There came another great convulsion of the stock market. Stewart,
the young Lochinvar out of the West, made an attempt to corner
copper. One heard wild rumours in relation to the crash which
followed. Some said that a traitor had sold out the pool; others,
that there had been a quarrel among the conspirators. However that
might be, copper broke, and once more there were howling mobs on the
curb, and a shudder throughout the financial district. Then
suddenly, like a thunderbolt, came tidings that a conference of the
big bankers had decreed that the young Lochinvar should be forced
out of his New York banks. There were rumours that other banks were
involved, and that there were to be more conferences. Then a couple
of days later came the news that all the banks of Cummings the Ice
King were in trouble, and that he too had been forced from the

Montague had never seen anything like the excitement in Wall Street.
Everyone he met had a new set of rumours, wilder than the last. It
was as if a great rift in the earth had suddenly opened before the
eyes of the banking community. But Montague was at an important
crisis in a suit which he had taken up against the Tobacco Trust;
and he had no idea that he was in any way concerned in what was
taking place. The newspapers were all making desperate efforts to
allay the anxiety--they said that all the trouble was over, that Dan
Waterman had come to the rescue of the imperilled institutions. And
Montague believed what he read, and went his way.

Three or four days after the crisis had developed, he had an
engagement to dine with his friend Harvey. Montague was tired after
a long day in court, and as no one else was coming, and he did not
intend to dress, he walked up town from his office to Harvey's
hotel, a place of entertainment much frequented by Society people.
Harvey rented an entire floor, and had had it redecorated especially
to suit his taste.

"How do you do, Mr. Montague?" said the clerk, when he went to the
desk. "Mr. Harvey left a note for you."

Montague opened the envelope, and read a hurried scrawl to the
effect that Harvey had just got word that a bank of which he was a
director was in trouble, and that he would have to attend a meeting
that evening. He had telephoned both to Montague's office and to his
hotel, without being able to find him.

Montague turned away. He had no place to go, for his own family was
out of town; consequently he strolled into the dining-room and ate
by himself. Afterwards he came out into the lobby, and bought
several evening papers, and stood glancing over the head-lines.

Suddenly a man strode in at the door, and he looked up. It was
Winton Duval, the banker; Montague had never seen him since the time
when they had parted in Mrs. Winnie's drawing-room. He did not see
Montague, but strode past, his brows knit in thought, and entered
one of the elevators.

A moment later Montague heard a voice at his side. "How do you do,
Mr. Montague?"

He turned. It was Mr. Lyon, the manager of the hotel, whom Siegfried
Harvey had once introduced to him. "Have you come to attend the
conference?" said he.

"Conference?" said Montague. "No."

"There's a big meeting of the bankers here to-night," remarked the
other. "It's not supposed to be known, so don't mention it.--How do
you do, Mr. Ward?" he added, to a man who went past. "That's David

"Ah," said Montague. Ward was known in the Street by the nickname of
Waterman's "office-boy." He was a high-salaried office-
boy--Waterman paid him a hundred thousand a year to manage one of
the big insurance companies for him.

"So he's here, is he?" said Montague.

"Waterman is here himself," said Lyon. "He came in by the side
entrance. It's something especially secret, I gather--they've rented
eight rooms upstairs, all connecting. Waterman will go in at one
end, and Duval at the other, and so the reporters won't know they're

"So that's the way they work it!" said Montague, with a smile.

"I've been looking for some of the newspaper men," Lyon added. "But
they don't seem to have caught on."

He strolled away, and Montague stood watching the people in the
lobby. He saw Jim Hegan come and enter the elevator, in company with
an elderly man whom he recognised as Bascom, the president of the
Empire Bank, Waterman's own institution. He saw two other men whom
he knew as leading bankers of the System; and then, as he glanced
toward the desk, he saw a tall, broad-shouldered man, who had been
talking to the clerk, turn around, and reveal himself as his friend
Bates, of the Express.

"Humph!" thought Montague. "The newspaper men are 'on,' after all."

He saw Bates's glance sweep the lobby and rest upon him. Montague
made a movement of greeting with his hand, but Bates did not reply.
Instead, he strolled toward him, went by without looking at him,
and, as he passed, whispered in a low, quick voice, "Please come
into the writing-room!"

Montague stood for a moment, wondering; then he followed. Bates went
to a corner of the room and seated himself. Montague joined him.

The reporter darted a quick glance about, then began hastily:
"Excuse me, Mr. Montague, I didn't want anyone to see us talking. I
want to ask you to do me a favour."

"What is it?"

"I'm running down a story. It is something very important. I can't
explain it to you now, but I want to get a certain room in this
hotel. You have an opportunity to do me the service of a lifetime.
I'll explain it to you as soon as we are alone."

"What do you want me to do?" asked Montague.

"I want to rent room four hundred and seven," said Bates. "If I
can't get four hundred and seven, I want five hundred and seven, or
six hundred and seven. I daren't ask for it myself, because the
clerk knows me. But he'll let you have it."

"But how shall I ask for it?" said Montague.

"Just ask," said Bates; "it will be all right."

Montague looked at him. He could see that his friend was labouring
under great excitement.

"Please! please!" he whispered, putting his hand on Montague's arm.
And Montague said, "All right."

He got up and strolled into the lobby again, and went to the desk.

"Good evening, Mr. Montague," said the clerk. "Mr. Harvey hasn't

"I know it," said Montague. "I would like to get a room for the
evening. I would like to be near a friend. Could I get a room on the
fourth floor?"

"Fourth?" said the clerk, and turned to look at his schedule on the
wall. "Whereabouts--front or back?"

"Have you four hundred and five?" asked Montague.

"Four hundred and five? No, that's rented. We have four hundred and
one--four hundred and six, on the other side of the hall--four
hundred and seven--"

"I'll take four hundred and seven," said Montague.

"Four dollars a day," said the clerk, as he took down the key.

Not having any baggage, Montague paid in advance, and followed the
boy to the elevator. Bates followed him, and another man, a little
wiry chap, carrying a dress-suit case, also entered with them, and
got out at the fourth floor.

The boy opened the door, and the three men entered the room. The boy
turned on the light, and proceeded to lower the shades and the
windows, and to do enough fixing to earn his tip. Then he went out,
closing the door behind him; and Bates sank upon the bed and put his
hands to his forehead and gasped, "Oh, my God."

The young man who accompanied him had set down his suit-case, and he
now sat down on one of the chairs, and proceeded to lean back and
laugh hilariously.

Montague stood staring from one to the other.

"My God, my God!" said Bates, again. "I hope I may never go through
with a job like this---I believe my hair will be grey before

"You forget that you haven't told me yet what's the matter," said

"Sure enough," said Bates.

And suddenly he sat up and stared at him.

"Mr. Montague," he exclaimed, "don't go back on us! You've no idea
how I've been working--and it will be the biggest scoop of a
lifetime. Promise me that you won't give us away!"

"I cannot promise you," said Montague, laughing in spite of himself,
"until you tell me what it is."

"I'm afraid you are not going to like it," said Bates. "It was a
mean trick to play on you, but I was desperate. I didn't dare take
the risk myself, and Rodney wasn't dressed for the occasion."

"You haven't introduced your friend," said Montague.

"Oh, excuse me," said Bates. "Mr. Rodney, one of our office-men."

"And now tell me about it," said Montague, taking a seat.

"It's the conference," said Bates. "We got a tip about it an hour or
so ago. They meet in the room underneath us."

"What of it?" asked Montague.

"We want to find out what's going on," said Bates.

"But how?"

"Through the window. We've got a rope here." And Bates pointed
toward the suitcase.

Montague stared at him, dumfounded. "A rope!" he gasped. "You are
going to let him down from the window?"

"Sure thing," said Bates; "it's a rear window, and quite safe."

"But for Heaven's sake, man!" gasped the other, "suppose the rope

"Oh, it won't break," was the reply; "we've got the right sort of

"But how will you ever get him up again?" Montague exclaimed.

"That's all right," said Bates; "he can climb up, or else we can let
him down to the ground. We've got rope enough."

"But suppose he loses his grip! Suppose--"

"That's all right," said Bates, easily. "You leave that to Rodney.
He's nimble--he began life as a steeple-jack. That's why I picked

Rodney grinned. "I'll take my chances," he said.

Montague gazed from one to the other, unable to think of another
word to say.

"Tell me, Mr. Bates," he asked finally, "do you often do this in
your profession?"

"I've done it once before," was the reply. "I wanted some
photographs in a murder case. I've often tried back windows, and
fire-escapes, and such things. I used to be a police reporter, you
know, and I learned bad habits."

"But," said Montague, "suppose you were caught?"

"Oh, pshaw!" said he. "The office would soon fix that up. The police
never bother a newspaper man."

There was a pause. "Mr. Montague," said Bates, earnestly, "I know
this is a tough proposition--but think what it means. We get word
about this conference. Waterman is here--and Duval--think of that!
Dan Waterman and the Oil Trust getting together! The managing editor
sent for me himself, and he said, 'Bates, get that story.' And what
am I to do? There's about as much chance of my finding out what goes
on in that conference--"

He stopped. "Think of what it may mean, Mr. Montague," he cried.
"They will decide on to-morrow's moves! It may turn the stock market
upside down. Think of what you could do with the information!"

"No," said Montague, shaking his head; "don't go at me that way."

Bates was gazing at him. "I beg your pardon," he said; "but then
maybe you have interests of your own; or your friends--surely this

"No, not that either," said Montague, smiling; and Bates broke into
a laugh.

"Well, then," he said, "just for the sport of it! Just to fool

"That's more like it," said Montague.

"Of course, it's your room," said Bates. "You can stop us, if you
insist. But you needn't stay if you don't want to. We'll take all
the risk; and you may be sure that if we were caught, the hotel
would suppress it. You can trust me to clear your name--"

"I'll stay," said Montague. "I'll see it through."

Bates jumped up and stretched out his hand. "Good!" he cried. "Put
it there!"

In the meantime, Rodney pounced upon the dress-suit case, and opened
it, taking out a coil of wire rope, very light and flexible, and a
short piece of board. He proceeded to make a loop with the rope, and
in this he fixed the board for a seat. He then took the blankets
from the bed and folded them. He took out a pair of heavy calfskin
gloves, which he tossed to Bates, and a ball of twine, one end of
which he tied about his wrist. He tossed the ball on the floor, and
then turned out the lights in the room, raised the shade of the
window, and placed the bundle of blankets upon the sill.

"All ready," he said.

Bates put on the gloves and seized the rope, and Rodney adjusted the
seat under his thighs. "You hold the blankets, if you will be so
good, Mr. Montague, and keep them in place, if you can."

And Bates uncoiled some of the rope, and passed it over the top of
the large bureau which stood beside the window. He brought the rope
down to the middle of the body of the bureau, so that by this means
he could diminish the pull of Rodney's weight.

"Steady now," said the latter; and he climbed over the sill, and,
holding on with his hands, gradually put his weight against the

"Now! All ready," he whispered.

Bates grasped the line, and, bracing his knees against the bureau,
paid the rope out inch by inch. Montague held the blankets in place
in the corner, and Rodney's shoulders and head gradually disappeared
below the sill. He was still holding on with his hands, however.

"All right," he whispered, and let go, and slowly the rope slid

Montague's heart was beating fast with excitement, but Bates was
calm and businesslike. After he had let out several turns of the
rope, he stopped and whispered, "Look out now."

Montague leaned over the sill. He could see a stream of light from
the window below him. Rodney was standing upon the cornice at the
top of the window.

"Lower," said Montague, as he drew in his head, and once more Bates
paid out.

"Now," he whispered, and Montague looked again. Rodney had cleverly
pushed himself by the corner of the cornice, and kept himself at one
side of the window, so that he would not be visible from the inside
of the room. He made a frantic signal with his hand, and Montague
drew back and whispered, "Lower!"

The next time he looked out, Rodney was standing upon the sill of
the window, leaning to one side.

"Now, make fast," muttered Bates. And while he held the rope,
Montague took it and wound it again around the bureau, and then
carried it over and made it fast to the leg of the bath-tub.

"I guess that will hold all right," said Bates; and he went to the
window and picked up the ball of cord, the other end of which was
tied around Rodney's wrist.

"This is for signals," he said. "Morse telegraph."

"Good heavens!" gasped Montague. "You didn't leave much to chance."

"Couldn't afford to," said Bates. "Keep still!"

Montague saw that the hand which held the cord was being jerked.

"W-i-n-d-o-w o-p-e-n," said Bates; and added, "By the Lord! we've
got them!"


Montague brought a couple of chairs, and the two seated themselves
at the window for a long wait.

"How did you learn about this conference?" asked Montague.

"Be careful," whispered the other in his ear. "We mustn't make a
noise, because Rodney will need quiet to hear them."

Montague saw that the cord was jerking again. Bates spelled out the
letters one by one.

"W-a-t-e-r-m-a-n. D-u-v-a-l. He's telling us who's there. David
Ward. Hegan. Prentice."

"Prentice!" whispered Montague. "Why, he's up in the Adirondacks!"

"He came down on a special train to-day," whispered the other. "Ward
telegraphed him--I think that's where we got our tip. Henry
Patterson. He's the real head of the Oil Trust now. Bascom of the
Empire Bank. He's Waterman's man."

"You can imagine from that list that there's something big going
on," Bates muttered; and he spelled the names of several other
bankers, heads of the most important institutions in Wall Street.

"Talking about Stewart," spelled out Rodney.

"That's ancient history," muttered Bates. "He's a dead one."

"P-r-i-c-e," spelled Rodney.

"Price!" exclaimed Montague.

"Yes," said the other. "I saw him down in the lobby. I rather
thought he'd come."

"But to a conference with Waterman!" exclaimed Montague.

"That's all right," said Bates. "Why not?"

"But they are deadly enemies!"

"Oh," said the other, "you don't want to let yourself believe things
like that."

"What do you mean?" protested Montague. "Do you suppose they're not

"I certainly do suppose it," said Bates.

"But, man! I can give you positive facts that prove they are."

"For every fact that you bring," laughed the other, "I can bring
half a dozen to show you they are not."

"But that is perfectly absurd!" began Montague.

"Hush," said Bates, and he waited while the string jerked.

"I-c-e," spelled Rodney.

"That's Cummings--another dead one," said Bates. "My Lord, but they
did him up brown!"

"Who did it?" asked Montague.

"Waterman," answered the other. "The Steamship Trust was competing
with his New England railroads, and now it's in the hands of a
receiver. Before long you'll hear that he's gathered it in."

"Then you think this last smash-up was planned?" said he.

"Planned! My Heavens, man, it was the greatest gobbling up of the
little fish that I have ever known since I've been in Wall Street!"

"And it was Waterman?"

"With the Oil Trust. They were after young Stewart. You see, he beat
them out in Montana, and they had to buy him off for ten million
dollars. But he was fool enough to come to New York and go in for
banking; and now they've got his banks, and a good part of his ten
millions as well!"

"It takes a man's breath away," said Montague.

"Just save your breath-you'll need it to-night," said Bates, drily.

The other sat in thought for a moment. "We were talking about
Price," he whispered. "Do you mean John S. Price?"

"There is only one Price that I know of," was the reply.

"And you don't believe that he and Waterman are enemies?"

"I mean that Price is simply one of Waterman's agents in every big
thing he does."

"But, man! Doesn't he own the Mississippi Steel Company?"

"He owns it for Waterman," said Bates.

"But that is impossible," cried Montague. "Isn't Waterman interested
in the Steel Trust? And isn't Mississippi Steel its chief

"It is supposed to be," said the other. "But that is simply a bluff
to fool the public. There has been no real competition between them
ever since four years ago, when Price raided the stock and captured
it for Waterman."

Montague was staring at his friend, almost speechless with

"Mr. Bates," he said, "it happens that I was very recently connected
with Price and the Mississippi Steel Company in a very intimate way;
and I know most positively that what you say is not true."

"It's very hard to answer a statement like that," Bates responded.
"I'd have to know just what your facts are. But they'd have to be
very convincing indeed to make an impression upon me, for I ran that
story down pretty thoroughly. I got it straight from the inside, and
I got all the details of it. I nailed Price down, right in his own
office. The only trouble was that my people wouldn't print the

It was some time before Montague spoke again. He was groping around
in his own mind, trying to grasp the significance of what Bates had

"But Price was fighting Waterman!" he whispered. "The whole crowd
were fighting him! That was the whole purpose of what they were
doing. It had no sense otherwise."

"But are you sure?" asked the other. "Think it over. Suppose they
were only pretending to fight."

There was a silence again.

"Mind you," Bates added, "I am only speaking about Price himself. I
don't know about any people he may have been with. He may have been
deceiving them--he may have been leading them into a trap--"

And suddenly Montague clutched the arms of his chair. He sat staring
ahead of him, struck dumb by the thought which the other's words had
brought to him. "My God," he gasped; and again, and yet again, "My

It seemed to unroll before him, in vista after vista. Price
deceiving Ryder! leading him into that Northern Mississippi deal;
getting him to lend money upon the stock of the Mississippi Steel
Company; promising, perhaps, to support the stock in the market, and
helping to smash it instead! Twisting Ryder around his finger,
crushing him--and why? And why?

Montague's thoughts stopped still. It was as if he had found himself
suddenly confronted by a bottomless abyss. He shrank back from it.
He could not face the thought in his own mind. Waterman! It was Dan
Waterman! It was something which he had planned! It was the
vengeance that he had threatened! He had been all this time plotting
it, setting his nets about Ryder's feet!

It was an idea so wild and so horrible that Montague fought it off.
He pushed it away from him, again and again. No, no, it could not

And yet, why not? He had always felt certain in his own mind that
that detective had come from Waterman. The old man had set to work
to find out about Lucy and her affairs, the first time that he had
ever laid eyes on her. And then suddenly Montague saw the face of
volcanic fury that had flashed past him on board the _Brünnhilde_.
"You will hear from me again," the old man had said; and now, all
these months of silence--and at last he heard!

Why not? Why not? Montague kept asking himself. After all, what did
he know about the Mississippi Steel Company? What had he ever seen
to prove that it was actually competing with the Trust? What had he
even heard, except what Stanley Ryder had told him; and what more
likely than that Ryder was simply repeating what Price had said?

Montague had forgotten all about his present situation in the rush
of thoughts which had come to him. The cord had been jerking again,
and had spelled out the names of several more of the masters of the
city who had arrived; but he had not heard their names. "What object
would there be," he asked, "in keeping the fact a secret--I mean
that Price was Waterman's agent?"

"Object!" exclaimed Bates. "Good Heavens, and with the public half
crazy about monopolies, and the President making such a fight! If it
were known that the Steel Trust had gathered in its last big
competitor, you can't tell what the Government might do!"

"I see," said Montague. "And how long has this been?"

"Four years," was the reply; "all they're waiting for is some
occasion like this, when they can put the Company in a hole, and
pose as benefactors in taking it over."

"I see," said Montague, again.

"Listen," said Bates, and leaned out of the window. He could catch
faintly the sounds of a deep voice in the consultation room.

"W-a-t-e-r-m-a-n," spelled Rodney.

"I guess business has begun," whispered Bates.

"Situation intolerable," spelled Rodney. "End wildcat banking."

"That means end of opposition to me," was the other's comment.

"Duval assents," continued Rodney.

The two in the window were on edge by this time. It was tantalising
to have to wait several minutes, and then get only such snatches.

"But they'll get past the speech-making pretty soon," whispered
Bates; and indeed they did.

The next two words which the cord spelled out made Montague sit up
and clutch the arms of his chair again.

"Gotham Trust!"

"Ah!" whispered Bates. Montague made not a sound.

"Ryder misusing," spelled the cord.

Bates seized his companion by the arm, and leaned close to him. "By
the Lord!" he whispered breathlessly, "I wonder if they're going to
smash the Gotham Trust!"

"Refuse clearing," spelled Rodney; and Montague felt Bates's hand
trembling. "They refuse to clear for Ryder!" he panted.

Montague was beyond all speech; he sat as if turned to stone.

"To-morrow morning," spelled the cord.

Bates could hardly keep still for his excitement.

"Do you catch what that means?" he whispered. "The Clearing-house is
to throw out the Gotham Trust!"

"Why, they'll wreck it!" panted the other.

"My God, my God, they're mad!" cried Bates. "Don't they realise what
they'll do? There'll be a panic such as New York has never seen
before! It will bring down every bank in the city! The Gotham Trust!
Think of it!--the Gotham Trust!"

"Prentice objects," came Rodney's next message.

"Objects!" exclaimed Bates, striking his knee in repressed
excitement. "I should think he might object. If the Gotham Trust
goes down, the Trust Company of the Republic won't live for
twenty-four hours."

"Afraid," spelled the cord. "Patterson angry."

"Much he has to lose," muttered Bates.

Montague started up and began to pace the room. "Oh, this is
horrible, horrible!" he exclaimed.

Through all the images of the destruction and suffering which
Bates's words brought up before him, his thoughts flew back to a
pale and sad-faced little woman, sitting alone in an apartment up
on the Riverside. It was to her that it all came back; it was for
her that this terrible drama was being enacted. Montague could
picture the grim, hawk-faced old man, sitting at the head of the
council board, and laying down the law to the masters of the
Metropolis. And this man's thoughts, too, went back to Lucy--his
and Montague's alone, of all those who took part in the struggle!

"Waterman protect Prentice," spelled Rodney. "Insist turn out Ryder.
Withdraw funds."

"There's no doubt of it," whispered Bates; "they can finish him if
they choose. But oh, my Lord, what will happen in New York to-

"Ward protect legitimate banks," was the next message.

"The little whelp!" sneered Bates. "By legitimate banks he means
those that back his syndicates. A lot of protecting he will do!"

But then the newspaper man in Bates rose to the surface. "Oh, what a
story," he whispered, clenching his hands, and pounding his knees.
"Oh, what a story!"

Montague carried away but a faint recollection of the rest of
Rodney's communications; he was too much overwhelmed by his own
thoughts. Bates, however, continued to spell out the words; and he
caught the statement that General Prentice, who was a director in
the Gotham Trust, was to vote against any plan to close the doors of
that institution. While they were after it, they were going to
finish it.

Also he caught the sentence, "Panic useful, curb President!" And he
heard Bates's excited exclamations over that. "Did you catch that?"
he cried. "That's Waterman! Oh, the nerve of it! We are in at the
making of history to-night, Mr. Montague."

Perhaps half an hour later, Montague, standing beside Bates, saw his
hand jerked violently several times.

"That means pull up!" cried he. "Quick!"

And he seized the rope. "Put your weight on it," he whispered. "It
will hold."

They proceeded to haul. Rodney helped them by catching hold of the
cornice of the window and lifting himself. Then there was a moment
of great straining, during which Montague held his breath; after
which the weight grew lighter again. Rodney had got his knees upon
the cornice.

A few moments later his fingers appeared, clutching the edge of the
sill. He swung himself up, and Montague and Bates grasped him under
the arms, and fairly jerked him into the room.

He staggered to his feet; and there was a moment's pause, while all
three caught their breath. Then Rodney leaped at Bates, and grasped
him by the shoulders. "Old man!" he cried. "We landed them! We
landed them!"

"We landed them!" laughed the other in exultation.

"Oh, what a scoop!" shouted Rodney. "There was never one like it."

The two were like schoolboys in their glee. They hugged each other,
and laughed and danced about. But it was not long before they became
serious again. Montague turned on the lights, and pulled down the
window; and Rodney stood there, with his clothing dishevelled and
his face ablaze with excitement, and talked to them.

"Oh, you can't imagine that scene!" he said. "It makes my hair stand
on end to think of it. Just fancy--I was not more than twenty feet
from Dan Waterman, and most of the time he seemed to be glaring
right at me. I hardly dared wink, for fear he'd notice; and I
thought every instant he would jump up and run to the window. But
there he sat, and pounded on the table, and glared about at those
fellows, and laid down the law to them."

"I've heard him talk," said Bates. "I know how it is."

"Why, he fairly knocked them over!" said the other. "You could have
heard a pin drop when he got through. Oh, it was a mad thing to

"I've hardly been able to get my breath," said Bates. "I can't
believe it."

"They have no idea what it will mean," said Montague.

"They know," said Rodney; "but they don't care. They've smelt blood.
That's about the size of it--they were like a lot of hounds on the
trail. You should have seen Waterman, with that lean, hungry face of
his. 'The time has come,' said he. 'There's no one here but has
known that sooner or later this work had to be done. We must crush
them, once and for all time!' And you should have seen him turn on
Prentice, when he ventured a word."

"Prentice doesn't like it, then?" asked Montague.

"I should think he wouldn't!" put in Bates.

"Waterman said he'd protect him," said Rodney. "But he must place
himself absolutely in their hands. It seems that the Trust Company
of the Republic has a million dollars with the Gotham Trust, and
that's to be withdrawn."

"Imagine it!" gasped Bates.

"And wait!" exclaimed the other; "then they got on to politics. I
would have given one arm if I could have got a photograph of Dan
Waterman at that moment--just to spread it before the American
people and ask them what they thought of it! David Ward had made the
remark that 'A little trouble mightn't have a bad effect just now.'
And Waterman brought down his fist on the table. 'This country needs
a lesson,' he cried. 'There's been too much abuse of responsible
men, and there's been too much wild talk in high places. If the
people get a little taste of hard times, they'll have something else
to think about besides abusing those who have made the prosperity of
the country; and it seems to me, gentlemen, that we have it in our
power to put an end to this campaign of radicalism.'"

"Think of it, think of it!" gasped Bates. "The old devil!"

"And then Duval chimed in, with a laugh, 'To put it in a nutshell,
gentlemen, we are going to smash Ryder and scare the President!'"

"Was the conference over?" asked Bates, after a moment's pause.

"All but the hand-shakes," said the other. "I didn't dare to stay
while they were moving about."

And Bates started suddenly to his feet. "Come!" he said. "We haven't
any time to waste. Our work isn't done yet, by a long sight."

He proceeded to untie the rope and coil it up. Rodney took the
blanket and put it on the bed, covering it with the spread, so as to
conceal the holes which had been worn by the rope. He wound up the
ball of cord, and dropped it into the bag with the rest of the
stuff. Bates took his hat and coat and started for the door.

"You will excuse us, Mr. Montague," he said. "You can understand
that this story will need a lot of work."

"I understand," said Montague.

"We'll try to thank you by and by," added the other. "Come around
after the paper goes to press, and we'll have a celebration."


They went out; and Montague waited a minute or two, to give them a
chance to get out of the way, and then he rang the elevator bell and
entered the car.

It stopped again at the next floor, and he gave a start of
excitement. As the door opened, he saw a group of men, with Duval,
Ward, and General Prentice among them. He moved behind the elevator
man, so that none of them should notice him.

Montague had caught one glimpse of the face of General Prentice. It
was deathly pale. The General said not a word to anyone, but went
out into the corridor. The other hesitated for a moment, then, with
a sudden resolution, he turned and followed. As his friend passed
out of the door, he stepped up beside him.

"Good evening, General," he said. The General turned and stared at
him, half in a daze.

"Oh, Montague!" he said. "How are you?"

"Very well," said Montague.

In the street outside, among a group of half a dozen automobiles, he
recognised the General's limousine car.

"Where are you going?" he asked.

"Home," was the reply.

"I'll ride with you, if you like," said Montague. "I've something to
say to you."

"All right," said the General. He could not very well have refused,
for Montague had taken him by the arm and started toward the car; he
did not intend to be put off.

He helped the General in, got in himself, and shut to the door
behind him. Prentice sat staring in front of him, still half in a

Montague watched him for a minute or so. Then suddenly he leaned
toward him, and said, "General, why do you let them persuade you to
do it?"

"Hey?" said the other.

"I say," repeated Montague, "why do you let them persuade you?"

The other turned and stared at him, with a startled look in his

"I know all about what has happened," said Montague. "I know what
went on at that conference."

"What do you mean?" gasped the General.

"I know what they made you promise to do. They are going to wreck
the Gotham Trust Company."

The General was dumfounded. "Why!" he gasped. "How? Who told you?
How could you--"

Montague had to wait a minute or two until his friend had got over
his dismay.

"I cannot help it," he burst out, finally. "What can I do?"

"You can refuse to play their game!" exclaimed Montague.

"But don't you suppose that they would do it just the same? And how
long do you suppose that I would last, if I refused them?"

"But think of what it means!" cried Montague. "Think of the ruin!
You will bring everything about your head."

"I know, I know!" cried the General, in a voice of anguish. "Don't
think that I haven't realised it--don't think that I haven't fought
against it! But I am helpless, utterly helpless."

He turned upon Montague, and caught his sleeve with a trembling
hand. "I never thought that I would live to face such an hour," he
exclaimed. "To despise myself--to be despised by all the world! To
be browbeaten, and insulted, and dragged about--"

The old man paused, choking with excess of emotion. "Look at me!" he
cried, with sudden vehemence. "Look at me! You think that I am a
man, a person of influence in the community, the head of a great
institution in which thousands of people have faith. But I am
nothing of the kind. I am a puppet--I am a sham--I am a disgrace to
myself and to the name I bear!"

And suddenly he clasped his hands over his face, and bowed his head,
so that Montague should not see his grief.

There was a long silence. Montague was dumb with horror. He felt
that his mere presence was an outrage.

Finally the General looked up again. He clenched his hand, and
mastered himself.

"I have chosen my part," he said. "I must play it through. What I
feel about it makes no difference."

Montague again said nothing.

"I have no right to inflict my grief upon you," the General
continued. "I have no right to try to excuse myself. There is no
turning back now. I am Dan Waterman's man, and I do his bidding."

"But how can you have got into such a position?" asked Montague.

"A friend of mine organised the Trust Company of the Republic. He
asked me to become president, because I had a name that would be
useful to him. I accepted--he was a man I knew I could trust. I
managed the business properly, and it prospered; and then, three
years ago, the control was bought by other men. That was when the
crisis came. I should have resigned. But I had my family to think
of; I had friends who were involved; I had interests that I could
not leave. And I stayed--and that is all. I found that I had stayed
to be a puppet, a figurehead. And now it is too late."

"But can't you withdraw now?" asked Montague.

"Now?" echoed the General. "Now, in the most critical moment, when
all my friends are hanging upon me? There is nothing that my enemies
would like better, for they could lay all their sins at my door.
They would class me with Stewart and Ryder."

"I see," said Montague, in a low voice.

"And now the crisis comes, and I find out who my real master is. I
am told to do this, and do that, and I do it. There are no threats;
I understand without any. Oh, my God, Mr. Montague, if I should tell
you of some of the things that I have seen in this city--of the
indignities that I have seen heaped upon men, of the deeds to which
I have seen them driven. Men whom you think of as the most
honourable in the community--men who have grown grey in the service
of the public! It is too brutal, too horrible for words!"

There was a long silence.

"And there is nothing you can do?" asked Montague.

"Nothing," he answered.

"Tell me, General, is your institution sound?"

"Perfectly sound."

"And you have done nothing improper?"


"Then why should you fear Waterman?"

"Why?" exclaimed the General. "Because I am liable for eighty per
cent of my deposits, and I have only five per cent of reserves."

"I see!" said Montague.

"It is a choice between Stanley Ryder and myself," added the other.
"And Stanley Ryder will have to fight his own battle."

There was nothing more said. Each of the men sat buried in his own
thoughts, and the only sound was the hum of the automobile as it
sped up Broadway.

Montague was working out another course of action. He moved to
another seat in the car where he could see the numbers upon the
street lamps as they flashed by; and at last he touched the General
upon the knee. "I will leave you at the next corner," he said.

The General pressed the button which signalled his chauffeur, and
the car drew up at the curb. Montague descended.

"Good night, General," he said.

"Good night," said the other, in a faint voice. He did not offer to
take Montague's hand. The latter closed the door of the car, and it
sped away up the street.

Then he crossed over and went down to the River drive, and entered
Lucy's apartment house.

"Is Mrs. Taylor in?" he asked of the clerk.

"I'll see," said the man. Montague gave his name and added, "Tell
her it is very important."

Lucy came to the door herself, clad in an evening gown.

One glance at his haggard face was enough to tell her that something
was wrong. "What is it, Allan?" she cried.

He hung up his hat and coat, and went into the drawing-room.

"What is it, Allan?" she cried again.

"Lucy, do you know where Stanley Ryder is?" he asked.

"Yes," she answered, and added quickly, "Oh! it's some bad news!"

"It is," said he. "He must be found at once."

She stared at him for a moment, hesitating; then, her anxiety
overcoming every other emotion, she said, "He is in the next room."

"Call him," said Montague.

Lucy ran to the door. "Come in. Quickly!" she called, and Ryder

Montague saw that he was very pale; and there was nothing left of
his air of aristocratic serenity.

"Mr. Ryder," he began, "I have just come into possession of some
news which concerns you very closely. I felt that you ought to know.
There is to be a directors' meeting to-morrow morning, at which it
is to be decided that the bank which clears for the Gotham Trust
Company will discontinue to do it."

Ryder started as if he had been shot; his face turned grey. There
was no sound except a faint cry of fright from Lucy.

"My information is quite positive," continued Montague. "It has been
determined to wreck your institution!"

Ryder caught at a chair to support himself. "Who? Who?" he

"It is Duval and Waterman," said Montague.

"Dan Waterman!" It was Lucy who spoke.

Montague turned to look at her, and saw her eyes, wide open with

"Yes, Lucy," he said.

"Oh, oh!" she gasped, choking; then suddenly she cried wildly, "Tell
me! I don't understand--what does it mean?"

"It means that I am ruined," exclaimed Ryder.

"Ruined?" she echoed.

"Absolutely!" he said. "They've got me! I knew they were after me,
but I didn't think they'd dare!"

He ended with a furious imprecation; but Montague had kept his eyes
fixed upon Lucy. It was her suffering that he cared about.

He heard her whisper, under her breath, "It's for me!" And then
again, "It's for me!"

"Lucy," he began; but suddenly she put up her hand, and rushed
toward him.

"Hush! he doesn't know!" she panted breathlessly. "I haven't told

And then she turned toward Ryder again. "Oh, surely there must be
some way," she cried, wildly. "Surely--"

Ryder had sunk down in a chair and buried his face in his hands.
"Ruined!" he exclaimed. "Utterly ruined! I won't have a dollar left
in the world."

"No, no," cried Lucy, "it cannot be!" And she put her hands to her
forehead, striving to think. "It must be stopped. I'll go and see
him. I'll plead with him."

"You must not, Lucy!" cried Montague, starting toward her.

But again she whirled upon him. "Not a word!" she whispered, with
fierce intensity. "Not a word!"

And she rushed into the next room, and half a minute later came back
with her hat and wrap.

"Allan," she said, "tell them to call me a cab!"

He tried to protest again; but she would not hear him. "You can ride
with me," she said. "You can talk then. Call me a cab! Please--save
me that trouble."

He gave the message: and Lucy, meanwhile, stood in the middle of the
room, twisting her hands together nervously.

"Now, Allan, go downstairs," she said; "wait for me there." And
after another glance at the broken figure of Ryder, he took his hat
and coat and obeyed.

Montague spent his time pacing back and forth in the entrance-hall.
The cab arrived, and a minute later Lucy appeared, wearing a heavy
veil. She went straight to the vehicle, and sprang in, and Montague
followed. She gave the driver the address of Waterman's great marble
palace over by the park; and the cab started.

Then suddenly she turned upon Montague, speaking swiftly and

"I know what you are going to say," she cried. "But you must spare
me--and you must spare yourself. I am sorry that you should have to
know this--God knows that I could not help it! But it cannot be
undone. And there is no other way out of it. I must go to him, and
try to save Ryder!"

"Lucy," he began, "listen to me--"

"I don't want to listen to you," she cried wildly--almost
hysterically. "I cannot bear to be argued with. It is too hard for
me as it is!"

"But think of the practical side of it!" he cried. "Do you imagine
that you can stop this huge machine that Waterman has set in

"I don't know, I don't know!" she exclaimed, choking back a sob. "I
can only do what I can. If he has any spark of feeling in him--I'll
get down on my knees to him, I will beg him--"

"But, Lucy! think of what you are doing. You go there to his house
at night! You put yourself into his power!"

"I don't care, Allan--I am not afraid of him. I have thought about
myself too long. Now I must think about the man I love."

Montague did not answer, for a moment. "Lucy," he said at last,
"will you tell me how you have thought of yourself in one single

"Yes, yes--I will!" she cried, vehemently. "I have known all along
that Waterman was following me. I have been haunted by the thought
of him--I have felt his power in everything that has befallen us.
And I have never once told Ryder of his peril!"

"That was more a kindness to him--" began the other.

"No, no!" panted Lucy; and she caught his coat sleeve in her
trembling hands. "You see, you see--you cannot even imagine it of
me! I kept it a secret--because I was afraid!"

"Afraid?" he echoed.

"I was afraid that Ryder would leave me! I was afraid that he would
give me up! And I loved him too much!--Now," she rushed on--"you
see what kind of a person I have been! And I can sit here, and tell
you that! Is there anything that can make me ashamed after that? Is
there anything that can degrade me after that? And what is there
left for me to do but go to Waterman and try to undo what I have

Montague was speechless, before the agony of her humiliation.

"You see!" she whispered.

"Lucy," he began, protesting.

But suddenly she caught him by the arm. "Allan," she whispered, "I
know that you have to try to stop me. But it is no use, and I must
do it! And I cannot bear to hear you--it makes it too hard for me.
My course is chosen, and nothing in the world can turn me; and I
want you to go away and leave me. I want you to go--right now! I am
not afraid of Waterman; I am not afraid of anything that he can do.
I am only afraid of you, and your unhappiness. I want you to leave
me to my fate! I want you to stop thinking about me!"

"I cannot do it, Lucy," he said.

She reached up and pulled the signal cord; and the cab came to a

"I want you to get out, Allan!" she cried wildly. "Please get out,
and go away."

He started to protest again; but she pushed him away in frenzy. "Go,
go!" she cried; and half dazed, and scarcely realising what he did,
he gave way to her and stepped out into the street.

"Drive!" she called to the man, and shut the door; and Montague
found himself standing on a driveway in the park, with the lights of
the cab disappearing around a turn.


Montague started to walk. He had no idea where he went; his mind was
in a whirl, and he was lost to everything about him. He must have
spent a couple of hours wandering about the park and the streets of
the city; when at last he stopped and looked about him, he was on a
lighted thoroughfare, and a big clock in front of a jewellery store
was pointing to the hour of two.

He looked around. Immediately across the street was a building which
he recognised as the office of the Express; and in a flash he
thought of Bates. "Come in after the paper has gone to press," the
latter had said.

He went in and entered the elevator.

"I want to see Mr. Bates, a reporter," he said.

"City-room," said the elevator man; "eleventh floor."

Montague confronted a very cross and sleepy-looking office-boy. "Is
Mr. Bates in?" he asked.

"I dunno," said the boy, and slowly let himself down from the table
upon which he had been sitting. Montague produced a card, and the
boy disappeared. "This way," he said, when he returned; and Montague
found himself in a huge room, crowded with desks and chairs.
Everything was in confusion; the floor was literally buried out of
sight in paper.

Montague observed that there were only about a dozen men in the
room; and several of these were putting on their coats. "There he
is, over there," said the office-boy.

He looked and saw Bates sitting at a desk, with his head buried in
his arms. "Tired," he thought to himself.

"Hello, Bates," he said; then, as the other looked up, he gave a
start of dismay.

"What's the matter?" he cried.

It was half a minute before Bates replied. His voice was husky.
"They sold me out," he whispered.

"What!" gasped the other.

"They sold me out!" repeated Bates, and struck the table in front of
him. "Cut out the story, by God! Did me out of my scoop!

"Look at that, sir," he added, and shoved toward Montague a double
column of newspaper proofs, with a huge head-line, "Gotham Trust
Company to be Wrecked," and the words scrawled across in blue
pencil, "Killed by orders from the office."

Montague could scarcely find words to reply. He drew up a chair and
sat down. "Tell me about it," he said.

"There's nothing much to tell," said Bates. "They sold me out. They
wouldn't print it."

"But why didn't you take it elsewhere?" asked the other.

"Too late," said Bates; "the scoundrels--they never even let me
know!" He poured out his rage in a string of curses.

Then he told Montague the story.

"I was in here at half-past ten," he said, "and I reported to the
managing editor. He was crazy with delight, and told me to go
ahead--front page, double column, and all the rest. So Rodney and I
set to work. He did the interview, and I did all the embroidery--oh,
my God, but it was a story! And it was read, and went through; and
then an hour or two ago, just when the forms were ready, in comes
old Hodges--he's one of the owners, you know--and begins nosing
round. 'What's this?' he cries, and reads the story; and then he
goes to the managing editor. They almost had a fight over it. 'No
paper that I am interested in shall ever print a story like that!'
says Hodges; and the managing editor threatens to resign, but he
can't budge him. The first thing I knew of it was when I got this
copy; and the paper had already gone to press."

"What do you suppose was the reason for it?" asked Montague, in

"Reason?" echoed Bates. "The reason is Hodges; he's a crook. 'If we
publish that story,' he said,'the directors of the bank will never
meet, and we'll bear the onus of having wrecked the Gotham Trust
Company.' But that's all a bluff, and he knew it; we could prove
that that conference took place, if it ever came to a fight."

"You were quite safe, it seems to me," said Montague.

"Safe?" echoed Bates. "We had the greatest scoop that a newspaper
ever had in this country--if only the Express were a newspaper. But
Hodges isn't publishing the news, you see; he's serving his masters,
whoever they are. I knew that it meant trouble when he bought into
the Express. He used to be managing editor of the Gazette, you know;
and he made his fortune selling the policy of that paper--its
financial news is edited to this very hour in the offices of Wyman's
bankers, and I can prove it to anybody who wants me to. That's the
sort of proposition a man's up against; and what's the use of
gathering the news?"

And Bates rose up with an oath, kicking away the chair behind him.
"Come on," he said; "let's get out of here. I don't know that I'll
ever come back."

Montague spent another hour wandering about with Bates, listening to
his opinion of the newspapers of the Metropolis. Then, utterly
exhausted, he went home; but not to sleep. He sat in a chair for an
hour or two, his mind besieged by images of ruin and destruction. At
last he lay down, but he had not closed his eyes when daylight began
to stream into the room.

At eight o'clock he was up again and at the telephone. He called up
Lucy's apartment house.

"I want to speak to Mrs. Taylor," he said.

"She is not in," was the reply.

"Will you ring up the apartment?" asked Montague. "I will speak to
the maid."

"This is Mr. Montague," he said, when he heard the woman's voice.
"Where is Mrs. Taylor?"

"She has not come back, sir," was the reply.

Montague had some work before him that day which could not be put
off. Accordingly he bathed and shaved, and had some coffee in his
room, and then set out for his office. Even at that early hour there
were crowds in the financial district, and another day's crop of
rumours had begun to spring. He heard nothing about the Gotham Trust
Company; but when he left court at lunch time, the newsboys on the
street were shouting the announcement of the action of the bank
directors. Lucy had failed in her errand, then; the blow had fallen!

There was almost a panic on the Exchange that day, and the terror
and anxiety upon the faces of the people who thronged the financial
district were painful to see. But the courts did not suspend, even
on account of the Gotham Trust; and Montague had an important case
to argue. He came out on the street late in the afternoon, and
though it was after banking hours, he saw crowds in front of a
couple of the big trust companies, and he read in the papers that a
run upon the Gotham Trust had begun.

At his office he found a telegram from his brother Oliver, who was
still in the Adirondacks: "Money in Trust Company of the Republic.
Notify me of the slightest sign of trouble."

He replied that there was none; and, as he rode up in the subway, he
thought the problem over, and made up his own mind. He had a trifle
over sixty thousand dollars in Prentice's institution--more than
half of all he owned. He had Prentice's word for it that the Company
was in a sound condition, and he believed it. He made up his mind
that he would not be one of those to be stampeded, whatever might

He dined quietly at home with his mother; then he took his way up
town again to Lucy's apartment; for he was haunted by the thought of
her, and could not rest. He had read in the late evening papers that
Stanley Ryder had resigned from the Gotham Trust Company.

"Is Mrs. Taylor in?" he asked, and gave his name.

"Mrs. Taylor says will you please to wait, sir," was the reply. And
Montague sat down in the reception-room. A couple of minutes later,
the hall-boy brought him a note.

He opened it and read these words, in a trembling hand:--

"Dear Allan: It is good of you to try to help me, but I cannot bear
it. Please go away. I do not want you to think about me. Lucy."

Montague could read the agony between those lines; but there was
nothing he could do about it. He went over to Broadway, and started
to walk down town.

He felt that he must have someone to talk to, to take his mind off
these things. He thought of the Major, and went over to the club,
but the storm had routed out even the Major, it appeared. He was
just off to attend some conference, and had only time to shake hands
with Montague, and tell him to "trim sail."

Then he thought of Bates, and went down to the office of the
Express. He found Bates hard at work, seated at a table in his
shirt-sleeves, and with stacks of papers around him.

"I can always spare time for a chat," he said, as Montague offered
to go.

"I see you came back," observed the other.

"I'm like an old horse in a tread mill," answered Bates. "What else
is there for me to do?"

He leaned back in his chair, and put his thumbs in his armholes.
"Well," he remarked, "they made their killing."

"They did, indeed," said Montague.

"And they're not satisfied yet," exclaimed the other. "They're on
another trail!"

"What!" cried Montague.

"Listen," said Bates. "I went in to see David Ward about the action
of the Clearinghouse Committee; Gary--he's the Despatch man--was
with me. Ward talked for half an hour, as he always does; he told us
all about the gallant efforts which the bankers were making to stem
the tide, and he told us that the Trust Company of the Republic was
in danger and that an agreement had been made to try to save it.
Mind you, there's not been the least sign of trouble for the
company.' 'Shall we print that?' asked Gary. 'Surely,' said Ward.
'But it will make trouble,' said Gary. 'That's all right,' said
Ward. 'It's a fact. So print it.' Now what do you think of that?"

Montague sat rigid. "But I thought they had promised to protect
Prentice!" he exclaimed.

"Yes," said Bates, grimly; "and now they throw him down."

"Do you suppose Waterman knew that?"

"Why, of course; Ward is no more than one of his clerks."

"And will the Despatch print it, do you suppose?"

"I don't know why not," said the other. "I asked Gary if he was
going to put it in, and he said 'Yes.' 'It will make another panic,'
I said, and he answered, 'Panics are news.'"

Montague said nothing for a minute or two. Finally he remarked, "I
have good reason to believe that the Trust Company of the Republic
is perfectly sound."

"I have no doubt of it," was the reply.

"Then why--" He stopped.

Bates shrugged his shoulders. "Ask Waterman," he said. "It's some
quarrel or other; he wants to put the screws on somebody. Perhaps
it's simply that two trust companies will scare the President more
than one; or perhaps it's some stock he wants to break. I've heard
it said that he has seventy-five millions laid by to pick up
bargains with; and I shouldn't wonder if it was true."

There was a moment's pause. "And by the way," Bates added, "the Oil
Trust has made another haul! The Electric Manufacturing Company is
in trouble--that's a rival of one of their enterprises! Doesn't it
all fit together beautifully?"

Montague thought for a moment or two. "This is rather important news
to me," he said; "I've got money in the Trust Company of the
Republic. Do you suppose they are going to let it go down?"

"I talked it over with Rodney," the other replied. "He says Waterman
was quite explicit in his promises to see Prentice through. And
there's one thing you can say about old Dan--for all his villainies,
he never breaks his word. So I imagine he'll save it."

"But then, why give out this report?" exclaimed the lawyer.

"Don't you see?" said Bates. "He wants a chance to save it."

Montague's jaw fell. "Oh!" he said.

"It's as plain as the nose on your face," said Bates. "That story
will come out to-morrow morning, and everybody will say it was the
blunder of a newspaper reporter; and then Waterman will come forward
and do the rescue act. It'll be just like a play."

"It's taking a long chance," said Montague, and added, "I had
thought of telling Prentice, who's an intimate friend of mine; but I
don't suppose it will do him any good."

"Poor old Prentice can't help himself," was the reply. "All you can
do is to make him lose a night's sleep."

Montague went out, with a new set of problems to ponder. As he went
home, he passed the magnificent building of the Gotham Trust
Company, where there stood a long line of people who had prepared to
spend the night. All the afternoon a frantic mob had besieged the
doors, and millions of dollars had been withdrawn in a few hours.
Montague knew that by the time he got down town the next morning
there would be another such mob in front of the Trust Company of the
Republic; but he was determined to stand by his own resolve.
However, he had sent a telegram to Oliver, warning him to return at

He went home and found there another letter from Lucy Dupree.

"Dear Allan," she wrote. "No doubt you have heard the news that
Ryder has been forced out of the Gotham Trust. But I have
accomplished part of my purpose--Waterman has promised that he will
put him on his feet again after this trouble is over. In the
meantime, I am told to go away. This is for the best; you will
remember that you yourself urged me to go. Ryder cannot see me,
because the newspaper reporters are following him so closely.

"I beg of you not to try to find me. I am hateful in my own sight,
and you will never see me again. There is one last thing that you
can do for me. Go to Stanley Ryder and offer him your help--I mean
your advice in straightening out his affairs. He has no friends now,
and he is in a desperate plight. Do this for me. Lucy."


At eight the next morning the train from the Adirondacks arrived,
and Montague was awakened by his brother at the telephone. "Have you
seen this morning's Despatch?" was Oliver's first word.

"I haven't seen it," said Montague; "but I know what's in it."

"About the Trust Company of the Republic?" asked Oliver.

"Yes," said the other. "I was told the story before I telegraphed

"But my God, man," cried Oliver--"then why aren't you down town?"

"I'm going to let my money stay."


"I believe that the institution is sound; and I am not going to
leave Prentice in the lurch. I telegraphed you, so that you could do
as you chose."

It was a moment or two before Oliver could find words to reply.

"Thanks!" he said. "You might have done a little more--sent somebody
down to keep a place in line for me. You're out of your mind, but
there's no time to talk about it now. Good-by." And so he rang off.

Montague dressed and had his breakfast; in the meantime he glanced
over a copy of the Despatch, where, in the account of the day's
events, he found the fatal statements about the Trust Company of the
Republic. It was very interesting to Montague to read these
newspapers and see the picture of events which they presented to the
public. They all told what they could not avoid telling--that is,
the events which were public matters; but they never by any chance
gave a hint of the reasons for the happenings--you would have
supposed that all these upheavals in the banking world were so many
thunderbolts which had fallen from the heavens above. And each day
they gave more of their space to insisting that the previous day's
misfortunes were the last--that by no chance could there be any more
thunderbolts to fall.

When he went down town, he rode one station farther than usual in
order to pass the Trust Company of the Republic. He found a line of
people extending halfway round the block, and in the minute that he
stood watching there were a score or more added to it. Police were
patrolling up and down--it was not many hours later that they were
compelled to adopt the expedient of issuing numbered tickets to
those who waited in the line.

Montague walked on toward the front, looking for his brother. But he
had not gone very far before he gave an exclamation of amazement. He
saw a short, stout, grey-haired figure, which he recognised, even by
its back. "Major Venable!" he gasped.

The Major whirled about. "Montague!" he exclaimed. "My God, you are
just in time to save my life!"

"What do you want?" asked the other.

"I want a chair!" gasped the Major, whose purple features seemed
about to burst with his unwonted exertions. "I've been standing here
for two hours. In another minute more I should have sat down on the

"Where can I get a chair?" asked Montague, biting his tongue in
order to repress his amusement.

"Over on Broadway," said the Major. "Go into one of the stores, and
make somebody sell you one. Pay anything--I don't care."

So Montague went back, and entered a leather-goods store, where he
saw several cane-seated chairs. He was free to laugh then all he
pleased; and he explained the situation to one of the clerks, who
demurred at five dollars, but finally consented for ten dollars to
take the risk of displeasing his employer. For fifty cents more
Montague found a boy to carry it, and he returned in triumph to his
venerable friend.

"I never expected to see you in a position like this," he remarked.
"I thought you always knew things in advance."

"By the Lord, Montague!" muttered the other, "I've got a quarter of
a million in this place."

"I've got about one-fourth as much myself," said Montague.

"What!" cried the Major. "Then what are you doing?"

"I'm going to leave it in," said Montague. "I have reason to know
that that report in the Despatch is simply a blunder, and that the
institution is sound."

"But, man, there'll be a run on it!" sputtered the old gentleman.

"There will, if everybody behaves like you. You don't need your
quarter of a million to pay for your lunch, do you?"

The Major was too much amazed to find a reply.

"You put your money in a trust company," the other continued, "and
you know that it only keeps five per cent reserve, and is liable to
pay a hundred per cent of its deposits. How can you expect it to do

"I don't expect it," said the Major, grimly; "I expect to be among
the five per cent." And he cast his eye up the line, and added, "I
rather think I am."


Back to Full Books