Part 5 out of 5
impression on him.
"It's all lies," he muttered. "Lies! How could those fellows
smash ME!" And he flung the newspapers out of the hansom into
the faces of two boys seated upon the tail of a truck.
"You're drunk early," yelled one of the boys.
"That's no one-day jag," shouted the other. "It's a
He made a wild, threatening gesture and, as his hansom drove on,
muttered and mumbled to himself, vague profanity aimed at nothing
and at everything. At the Edison Building he got out.
"Wait!" he said to the driver. He did not see the impudent
smirk on the face of the elevator boy nor the hesitating,
sheepish salutation of the door-man, uncertain how to greet the
fallen king. He went straight to his office, unlocked his desk
and, just in time to save himself from fainting, seized and
half-emptied a flask of brandy he kept in a drawer. It had been
there--but untouched ever since he came to New York and took
those offices; he never drank in business hours.
His head was aching horribly and at every throb of his pulse a
pain tore through him. He rang for his messenger.
"Tell Mr. Giddings I want to see him--you!" he said, his teeth
clenched and his eyes blazing--he looked insane.
Giddings came. His conscience was clear--he had never liked
Dumont, owed him nothing, yet had stood by him until further
fidelity would have ruined himself, would not have saved Dumont,
or prevented the Herron-Cassell raiders from getting control.
Now that he could afford to look at his revenge-books he was
deeply resenting the insults and indignities heaped upon him in
the past five years. But he was unable to gloat, was moved to
pity, at sight of the physical and mental wreck in that chair
which he had always seen occupied by the most robust of despots.
"Well," said Dumont in a dull, far-away voice, without looking
at him. "What's happened?"
Giddings cast about for a smooth beginning but could find none.
"They did us up--that's all," he said funereally.
Dumont lifted himself into a momentary semblance of his old look
and manner. "You lie, damn you!" he shouted, his mouth raw and
ragged as a hungry tiger's.
Giddings began to cringe, remembered the changed conditions,
bounded to his feet.
"I'll tolerate such language from no man!" he exclaimed. "I
wish you good morning, sir!" And he was on his way to the door.
"Come back!" commanded Dumont. And Giddings, the habit of
implicit obedience to that voice still strong upon him, hesitated
and half turned.
Dumont was more impressed with the truth of the cataclysm by
Giddings' revolt than by the newspaper head-lines or by Giddings'
words. And from somewhere in the depths of his reserve-self he
summoned the last of his coolness and self-control. "Beg
pardon, Giddings," said he. "You see I'm not well."
Giddings returned--he had taken orders all his life, he had
submitted to this master slavishly; the concession of an apology
mollified him and flattered him in spite of himself.
"Oh, don't mention it," he said, seating himself again. "As I
was saying, the raid was a success. I did the best I could.
Some called our loans and some demanded more collateral. And
while I was fighting front and rear and both sides, bang came
that lie about your condition. The market broke. All I could do
was sell, sell, sell, to try to meet or protect our loans."
Giddings heard a sound that made him glance at Dumont. His head
had fallen forward and he was snoring. Giddings looked long and
"A sure enough dead one," he muttered, unconsciously using the
slang of the Street which he habitually avoided. And he went
away, closing the door behind him.
After half an hour Dumont roused himself--out of a stupor into a
"Must get cash," he mumbled, "and look after the time loans."
He lifted his head and pushed back his hair from his hot
forehead. "I'll stamp on those curs yet!"
He took another drink--his hands were so unsteady that he had to
use both of them in lifting it to his lips. He put the flask in
his pocket instead of returning it to the drawer. No one spoke
to him, all pretended not to see him as he passed through the
offices on his way to the elevator. With glassy unseeing eyes he
fumbled at the dash-board and side of the hansom; with a groan
like a rheumatic old man's he lifted his heavy body up into the
seat, dropped back and fell asleep. A crowd of clerks and
messengers, newsboys and peddlers gathered and gaped, awed as
they looked at the man who had been for five years one of the
heroes of the Street, and thought of his dazzling catastrophe.
"What's the matter?" inquired a new-comer, apparently a
tourist, edging his way into the outskirts of the crowd.
"That's Dumont, the head of the Woolens Trust," the curb-broker
he addressed replied in a low tone. "He was raided
yesterday--woke up in the morning worth a hundred millions, went
to bed worth--perhaps five, maybe nothing at all."
At this exaggeration of the height and depth of the disaster, awe
and sympathy became intense in that cluster of faces. A hundred
millions to nothing at all, or at most a beggarly five
millions--what a dizzy precipice! Great indeed must be he who
could fall so far. The driver peered through the trap, wondering
why his distinguished fare endured this vulgar scrutiny. He saw
that Dumont was asleep, thrust down a hand and shook him.
"Where to, sir?" he asked, as Dumont straightened himself.
"To the National Industrial Bank, you fool," snapped Dumont.
"How many times must I tell you?"
"Thank you, sir," said the driver--without sarcasm, thinking
steadfastly of his pay--and drove swiftly away.
Theretofore, whenever he had gone to the National Industrial Bank
he had been received as one king is received by another. Either
eager and obsequious high officers of King Melville had escorted
him directly to the presence, or King Melville, because he had a
caller who could not be summarily dismissed, had come out
apologetically to conduct King Dumont to another audience
chamber. That day the third assistant cashier greeted him with
politeness carefully graded to the due of a man merely moderately
rich and not a factor in the game of high finance.
"Be seated, Mr. Dumont," he said, pointing to a chair just
inside the railing--a seat not unworthy of a man of rank in the
plutocratic hierarchy, but a man of far from high rank. "I'll
see whether Mr. Melville's disengaged."
Dumont dropped into the chair and his heavy head was almost
immediately resting upon his shirt-bosom. The third assistant
cashier returned, roused him somewhat impatiently. "Mr.
Melville's engaged," said he. "But Mr. Cowles will see you."
Mr. Cowles was the third vice-president.
Dumont rose. The blood flushed into his face and his body shook
from head to foot. "Tell Melville to go to hell," he jerked
out, the haze clearing for a moment from his piercing, wicked
eyes. And he stalked through the gateway in the railing. He
turned. "Tell him I'll tear him down and grind him into the
gutter within six months."
In the hansom again, he reflected or tried to reflect. But the
lofty buildings seemed to cast a black shadow on his mind, and
the roar and rush of the tremendous tide of traffic through that
deep canon set his thoughts to whirling like drink-maddened
bacchanals dancing round a punch-bowl. "That woman!" he
exclaimed suddenly. "What asses they make of us men! And all
these vultures--I'm not carrion yet. But THEY soon will be!"
And he laughed and his thoughts began their crazy spin again.
A newsboy came, waving an extra in at the open doors of the
hansom. "Dumont's downfall!" he yelled in his shrill, childish
voice. "All about the big smash!"
Dumont snatched a paper and flung a copper at the boy.
"Gimme a tip on Woolens, Mr. Dumont," said the boy, with an
impudent grin, balancing himself for flight. "How's Mrs.
The newspapers had made his face as familiar as the details of
his private life. He shrank and quivered. He pushed up the
trap. "Home!" he said, forgetting that the hansom and driver
were not his own.
"All right, Mr. Dumont!" replied the driver. Dumont shrank
again and sat cowering in the corner--the very calling him by his
name, now a synonym for failure, disgrace, ridicule and contempt,
seemed a subtile insult.
With roaring brain and twitching, dizzy eyes he read at the
newspaper's account of his overthrow. And gradually there formed
in his mind a coherent notion of how it had come to pass, of its
extent; of why he found himself lying in the depths, the victim
of humiliations so frightful that they penetrated even to him,
stupefied and crazed with drink and fever though he was. His
courage, his self-command were burnt up by the brandy. His body
had at last revolted, was having its terrible revenge upon the
mind that had so long misused it in every kind of indulgence.
"I'm done for--done for," he repeated audibly again and again,
at each repetition looking round mentally for a fact or a hope
that would deny this assertion--but he cast about in vain.
"Yes, I'm done for." And flinging away the newspaper he
settled back and ceased to try to think of his affairs. After a
while tears rolled from under his blue eyelids, dropped haltingly
down his cheeks, spread out upon his lips, tasted salt in his
The hansom stopped before his brick and marble palace. The
butler hurried out and helped him alight--not yet thirty-seven,
he felt as if he were a dying old man. "Pay the cabby," he
said and groped his way into the house and to the elevator and
mechanically ran himself up to his floor. His valet was in his
dressing-room. He waved him away. "Get out! And don't disturb
me till I ring."
"The doctor--" began Mallow.
"Do as I tell you!"
When he was alone he poured out brandy and gulped it down a drink
that might have eaten the lining straight out of a stomach less
powerful than his. He went from door to door, locking them all.
Then he seated himself in a lounging-chair before the long
mirror. He stared toward the image of himself but was so
dim-eyed that he could see nothing but spinning black disks.
"Life's not such a good game even when a man's winning," he
said aloud. "A rotten bad game when he's losing."
His head wabbled to fall forward but he roused himself. "Wife
gone--" The tears flooded his eyes--tears of pity for himself,
an injured and abandoned husband. "Wife gone," he repeated.
"Friends gone--" He laughed sardonically. "No, never had
friends, thank God, or I shouldn't have lasted this long. No
such thing as friends--a man gets what he can pay for. Grip
gone--luck gone! What's the use?"
He dozed off, presently to start into acute, shuddering
consciousness. At the far end of the room, stirring, slowly
oozing from under the divan was a--a Thing! He could not define
its shape, but he knew that it was vast, that it was scaly, with
many short fat legs tipped with claws; that its color was green,
that its purpose was hideous, gleaming in craft from large,
square, green-yellow eyes. He wiped the sticky sweat from his
brow. "It's only the brandy," he said loudly, and the Thing
faded, vanished. He drew a deep breath of relief.
He went to a case of drawers and stood before it, supporting
himself by the handles of the second drawer. "Yes," he
reflected, "the revolver's in that drawer." He released the
handles and staggered back to his chair. "I'm crazy," he
muttered, "crazy as a loon. I ought to ring for the doctor."
In a moment he was up again, but instead of going toward the bell
he went to the drawers and opened the second one. In a
compartment lay a pearl-handled, self-cocking revolver. He put
his hand on it, shivered, drew his hand away--the steel and the
pearl were cold. He closed the drawer with a quick push, opened
it again slowly, took up the revolver, staggered over to his desk
and laid it there. His face was chalk-white in spots and his
eyes were stiff in their sockets. He rested his aching, burning,
reeling head on his hands and stared at the revolver.
"But," he said aloud, as if contemptuously dismissing a
suggestion, "why should I shoot myself? I can smash 'em all--to
powder--grind 'em into the dirt."
He took up the revolver. "What'd be the use of smashing 'em?"
he said wearily. He felt tired and sick, horribly sick.
He laid it down. "I'd better be careful," he thought. "I'm
not in my right mind. I might--"
He took it in his hand and went to the mirror and put the muzzle
against his temple. He laughed crazily. "A little pressure on
that trigger and--bang! I'd be in kingdom come and shouldn't
give a damn for anybody." He caught sight of his eyes in the
mirror and hastily dropped his arm to his side. "No, I'd never
shoot myself in the temple. The heart'd be better. Just
here"--and he pressed the muzzle into the soft material of his
coat--"if I touched the trigger--"
And his finger did touch the trigger. Pains shot through his
chest like cracks radiating in glass when a stone strikes it. He
looked at his face--white, with wild eyes, with lips blue and
ajar, the sweat streaming from his forehead.
"What have I done?" he shrieked, mad with the dread of death.
"I must call for help." He turned toward the door, plunged
forward, fell unconscious, the revolver flung half-way across the
When he came to his senses he was in his bed--comfortable, weak,
lazy. With a slight effort he caught the thread of events. He
turned his eyes and saw a nurse, seated at the head of his bed,
reading. "Am I going to die?" he asked--his voice was thin and
came in faint gusts.
"Certainly not," replied the nurse, putting down her book and
standing over him, her face showing genuine reassurance and
"You'll be well very soon. But you must lie quiet and not
"Was it a bad wound?"
"The fever was the worst. The bullet glanced round just under
"It was an accident," he said, after a moment's thought. "I
suppose everybody is saying I tried to kill myself."
"`Everybody' doesn't know anything about it. Almost nobody
knows. Even the servants don't know. Your secretary sent them
away, broke in and found you."
He closed his eyes and slept.
When he awoke again he felt that a long time had passed, that he
was much better, that he was hungry. "Nurse!" he called.
The woman at the head of the bed rose and laid a cool hand upon
his forehead. "How good that feels," he mumbled gratefully.
"What nice hands you have, nurse," and he lifted his glance to
her face. He stared wonderingly, confusedly. "I thought I was
awake and almost well," he murmured. "And instead, I'm out of
"Can I do anything for you?" It certainly was HER voice.
"Is it you, Pauline?" he asked, as if he feared a negative
A long silence, then he said: "Why did you come?"
"The doctor wrote me that--wrote me the truth."
"But haven't you heard? Haven't you seen the papers? Don't
they say I'm ruined?"
He lay silent for several minutes. Then he asked hesitatingly:
"And--when--do you--go back--West?"
"I have come to stay," she replied. Neither in her voice nor
in her face was there a hint of what those five words meant to
He closed his eyes again. Presently a tear slid from under each
lid and stood in the deep, wasted hollows of his eye-sockets.
A DESPERATE RALLY.
When he awoke again he felt that he should get well rapidly. He
was weak, but it seemed the weakness of hunger rather than of
illness. His head was clear, his nerves tranquil; his mind was
as hungry for action as his body was for food.
"As soon as I've had something to eat," he said to himself,
"I'll be better than for years. I needed this." And
straightway he began to take hold of the outside world.
"Are you there, Pauline?" he asked, after perhaps half an hour
during which his mind had swiftly swept the whole surface of his
The nurse rose from the lounge across the foot of the bed.
"Your wife was worn out, Mr. Dumont," she began. "She has--"
"What day is it?" he interrupted.
"Of the month, I mean."
"The seventeenth," she answered, smiling in anticipation of his
But he said without change of expression,
"Then I've been ill three weeks and three days. Tell Mr. Culver
I wish to see him at once."
"But the doctor--"
"Damn the doctor," replied Dumont, good-naturedly. "Don't
irritate me by opposing. I shan't talk with Culver a minute by
the clock. What I say will put my mind at rest. Then I'll eat
something and sleep for a day at least."
The nurse hesitated, but his eyes fairly forced her out of the
room to fetch Culver. "Now remember, Mr. Dumont--less than a
minute," she said. "I'll come back in just sixty seconds."
"Come in forty," he replied. When she had closed the door he
said to Culver: "What are the quotations on Woolens?"
"Preferred twenty-eight; Common seven," answered Culver.
"They've been about steady for two weeks."
"Good. And what's Great Lakes and Gulf?"
Culver showed his surprise. "I'll have to consult the paper,"
he said. "You never asked me for that quotation before. I'd no
idea you'd want it." He went to the next room and immediately
returned. "G. L. and G. one hundred and two."
Dumont smiled with a satisfied expression.
"Now--go down-town--what time is it?"
"Yes, sir, morning."
"Go down-town at once and set expert accountants--get Evarts and
Schuman--set them at work on my personal accounts with the
Woolens Company. Tell everybody I'm expected to die, and know
it, and am getting facts for making my will. And stay down-town
yourself all day--find out everything you can about National
Woolens and that raiding crowd and about Great Lakes and Gulf.
The better you succeed in this mission the better it'll be for
you. Thank you, by the way, for keeping my accident quiet. Find
out how the Fanning-Smiths are carrying National Woolens. Find
The door opened and the plain, clean figure of the nurse
appeared. "The minute's up," she said.
"One second more, please. Close the door." When she had
obeyed he went on: "See Tavistock--you know you must be careful
not to let any one at his office know that you're connected with
me. See him--ask him--no, telephone Tavistock to come at
once--and you find out all you can independently--especially
about the Fanning-Smiths and Great Lakes and Gulf."
"Very well," said Culver.
"A great deal depends on your success," continued Dumont--"a
great deal for me, a great deal--a VERY great deal for you."
His look met Culver's and each seemed satisfied with what he saw.
Then Culver went, saying to himself: "What makes him think the
Fanning-Smiths were mixed up in the raid? And what on earth has
G. L. and G. got to do with it? Gad, he's a WONDER!" The
longer Culver lived in intimacy with Dumont the greater became to
him the mystery of his combination of bigness and littleness,
audacity and caution, devil and man. "It gets me," he often
reflected, "how a man can plot to rob millions of people in one
hour and in the next plan endowments for hospitals and colleges;
despise public opinion one minute and the next be courting it
like an actor. But that's the way with all these big fellows.
And I'll know how to do it when I get to be one of 'em."
As the nurse reentered Dumont's bedroom he called out, lively as
a boy: "SOMETHING to eat! ANYthing to eat! EVERYthing to
The nurse at first flatly refused to admit Tavistock. But at
half-past nine he entered, tall, lean, lithe, sharp of face,
shrewd of eye, rakish of mustache; by Dumont's direction he
closed and locked the door. "Why!" he exclaimed, "you don't
look much of a sick man. You're thin, but your color's not bad
and your eyes are clear. And down-town they have you dying."
Dumont laughed. Tavistock instantly recognized in laugh and look
Dumont's battle expression. "Dying--yes. Dying to get at 'em.
Tavistock, we'll kick those fellows out of Wall Street before the
middle of next week. How much Great Lakes is there floating on
Tavistock looked puzzled. He had expected to talk National
Woolens, and this man did not even speak of it, seemed absorbed
in a stock in which Tavistock did not know he had any interest
whatever. "G. L. and G.?" he said. "Not much--perhaps thirty
thousand shares. It's been quiet for a long time. It's an
investment stock, you know."
Dumont smiled peculiarly. "I want a list of the
stock-holders--not all, only those holding more than a thousand
"There aren't many big holders. Most of the stock's in small
lots in the middle West."
"So much the better."
"I'm pretty sure I can get you a fairly accurate list."
Tavistock, Dumont's very private and personal broker, had many
curious ways of reaching into the carefully guarded books and
other business secrets of brokers and of the enterprises listed
on the New York Stock Exchange. He and Dumont had long worked
together in the speculative parts of Dumont's schemes. Dumont
was the chief source of his rapidly growing fortune, though no
one except Culver, not even Mrs. Tavistock, knew that they had
business relations. Dumont moved through Tavistock secretly, and
Tavistock in turn moved through other agents secretly. But for
such precautions as these the great men of Wall Street would be
playing with all the cards exposed for the very lambs to cock
their ears at.
"I want it immediately," said Dumont. "Only the larger
holders, you understand."
"Haste always costs. I'll have to get hold of a man who can get
hold of some one high up in the Great Lakes dividend
"Pay what you must--ten--twenty thousand--more if necessary.
But get it to-night!"
"Then you'll get it."
He slept, with a break of fifteen minutes, until ten the next
morning. Then Tavistock appeared with the list. "It was nearly
midnight before my man could strike a bargain, so I didn't
telephone you. The dividend clerk made a memory list. I had him
verify it this morning as early as he could get at the books. He
says at least a third of the road is held in small lots abroad.
He's been in charge of the books for twenty years, and he says
there have been more changes in the last two months than in all
that time. He thinks somebody has sold a big block of the stock
on the quiet."
Dumont smiled significantly. "I think I understand that," he
said. He glanced at the list. "It's even shorter than I
"You notice, one-third of the stock's tied up in the Wentworth
estate," said Tavistock.
"Yes. And here's the name of Bowen's dividend clerk. Bowen is
traveling in the far East. Probably he's left no orders about
his Great Lakes--why should he when it's supposed to be as sound
and steady as Government bonds? That means another fifty
thousand shares out of the way for our purposes. Which of these
names stand for the Fanning-Smiths?"
"I only recognize Scannell--James Fanning-Smith's private
secretary. But there must be others, as he's down for only
twenty-one thousand shares."
"Then he's the only one," said Dumont, "for the Fanning-Smiths
have only twenty-one thousand shares at the present time. I know
"What!" Tavistock showed that he was astounded. "I knew James
Fanning-Smith was an ass, but I never suspected him of such folly
as that. So they are the ones that have been selling?"
"Yes--not only selling what they owned but also-- However, no
matter. It's safe to say there are less than a hundred and fifty
thousand shares for us to take care of. I want you to get
me--right away--options for fifteen days on as many of these
remaining big lots as possible. Make the best terms you
can--anything up to one hundred and twenty-five--and offer five
or even ten dollars a share forfeit for the option. Make bigger
offers--fifteen--where it's necessary. Set your people to work
at once. They've got the rest of to-day, all day to-morrow, all
day Sunday. But I'd rather the whole thing were closed up by
Saturday night. I'll be satisfied when you've got me control of
a hundred thousand shares--that'll be the outside of safety."
"Yes, you're reasonably sure to win, if you can carry that and
look after offerings of fifty thousand in the market. The
options on the hundred thousand shares oughtn't to cost you much
more than a million. The fifty thousand you'll have to buy in
the market may cost you six or seven millions." Tavistock
recited these figures carelessly. In reality he was watching
Dumont shrewdly, for he had believed that the National Woolens
raid had ruined him, had certainly put him out of the large Wall
"In that small drawer, to the left, in the desk there," said
Dumont, pointing. "Bring me the Inter-State National
check-book, and pen and ink."
When he had the book he wrote eight checks, the first for fifty
thousand, the next five for one hundred thousand each, the last
two for two hundred and fifty thousand each. "The first
check," he said, "you may use whenever you like. The others,
except the last two, will be good after two o'clock to-day. The
last two can be used any time after eleven to-morrow. And--don't
forget! I'm supposed to be hopelessly ill--but then, no one must
know you've seen me or know anything about me. Spread it as a
Tavistock went away convinced, enthusiastic. There was that in
Dumont which inspired men to their strongest, most intelligent
efforts. He was harsh, he was tyrannical, treacherous even--in a
large way, often cynically ungrateful. But he knew how to lead,
knew how to make men forget all but the passion for victory, and
follow him loyally. Tavistock had seen his financial brain solve
too many "unsolvable" problems not to have confidence in it.
"I might have known!" he reflected. "Why, those fellows
apparently only scotched him. They got the Woolens Company away
from him. He lets it go without a murmur when he sees he's
beaten, and he turns his mind to grabbing a big railway as if
Woolens had never existed."
Just after his elevated train passed Chatham Square on the way
down-town Tavistock suddenly slapped his leg with noisy energy
and exclaimed half-aloud, "By Jove, of course!" to the
amusement of those near him in the car. He went on to himself:
"Why didn't I see it before? Because it's so beautifully
simple, like all the things the big 'uns do. He's a wonder. So
THAT'S what he's up to? Gad, what a breeze there'll be next
At eleven o'clock Doctor Sackett came into Dumont's bedroom, in
arms against his patient.
"You're acting like a lunatic. No business, I say--not for a
week. Absolute quiet, Mr. Dumont, or I'll not answer for the
"I see you want to drive me back into the fever," replied
Dumont. "But I'm bent on getting well. I need the medicine
I've had this morning, and Culver's bringing me another dose. If
I'm not better when he leaves, I agree to try your prescription
of fret and fume."
"You are risking your life."
Dumont smiled. "Possibly. But I'm risking it for what's more
than life to me, my dear Sackett."
"You'll excite yourself. You'll----"
"On the contrary, I shall calm myself. I'm never so calm and
cheerful as when I'm fighting, unless it's when I'm getting ready
to fight. There's something inside me--I don't know what--but it
won't let me rest till it has pushed me into action. That's my
nature. If any one asks how I am, say you've no hope of my
"I shall tell only the truth in that case," said Sackett, but
with resignation--he was beginning to believe that for his
extraordinary patient extraordinary remedies might be best.
Dumont listened to Culver's report without interrupting him once.
Culver's position had theretofore been most disadvantageous to
himself. He had been too near to Dumont, had been merged in
Dumont's big personality. Whatever he did well seemed to Dumont
merely the direct reflection of his own abilities; whatever he
did ill seemed far more stupid than a similar blunder made by a
less intimate subordinate--what excuse for Culver's going wrong
with the guiding hand of the Great Man always upon him?
In this, his first important independent assignment, he had at
last an opportunity to show his master what he could do, to show
that he had not learned the Dumont methods parrot-fashion, but
intelligently, that he was no mere reflecting asteroid to the
Dumont sun, but a self-luminous, if lesser and dependent, star.
Dumont was in a peculiarly appreciative mood.
"Why, the fellow's got brains--GOOD brains," was his inward
comment again and again as Culver unfolded the information he had
collected--clear, accurate, non-essentials discarded, essentials
given in detail, hidden points brought to the surface.
It was proof positive of Dumont's profound indifference to money
that he listened without any emotion either of anger or of regret
to the first part of Culver's tale, the survey of the wreck--what
had been forty millions now reduced to a dubious six. Dumont had
neither time nor strength for emotion; he was using all his
mentality in gaging what he had for the work in hand--just how
long and how efficient was the broken sword with which he must
face his enemies in a struggle that meant utter ruin to him if he
failed. For he felt that if he should fail he would never again
be able to gather himself together to renew the combat; either he
would die outright or he would abandon himself to the appetite
which had just shown itself dangerously near to being the
strongest of the several passions ruling him.
When Culver passed to the Herron coterie and the Fanning-Smiths
and Great Lakes and Gulf, Dumont was still motionless--he was now
estimating the strength and the weaknesses of the enemy, and
miscalculation would be fatal. At the end of three-quarters of
an hour Culver stopped the steady, swift flow of his
report--"That's all the important facts. There's a lot more but
it would be largely repetition."
Dumont looked at him with an expression that made him proud.
"Thanks, Culver. At the next annual meeting we'll elect you to
Giddings' place. Please go back down-town and--" He rapidly
indicated half a dozen points which Culver had failed to see and
investigate--the best subordinate has not the master's eye; if he
had, he would not be a subordinate.
Dumont waved his hand in dismissal and settled himself to sleep.
When Culver began to stammer thanks for the promised promotion,
"Don't bother me with that sort of stuff. The job's yours
because you've earned it. It'll be yours as long as you can hold
it down--or until you earn a better one. And you'll be loyal as
Giddings was--just as long as it's to your interest and not a
second longer. Otherwise you'd be a fool, and I'd not have you
about me. Be off!"
He slept an hour and a half, then Pauline brought him a cup of
beef extract--"A very small cup," he grumbled good-humoredly.
"And a very weak, watery mess in it."
As he lay propped in his bed drinking it--slowly to make it last
the longer--Pauline sat looking at him. His hands had been fat
and puffy; she was filled with pity as she watched the almost
scrawny hand holding the cup to his lips; there were hollows
between the tendons, and the wrist was gaunt. Her gaze wandered
to his face and rested there, in sympathy and tenderness. The
ravages of the fever had been frightful--hollows where the
swollen, sensual cheeks had been; the neck caved in behind and
under the jaw-bones; loose skin hanging in wattles, deeply-set
eyes, a pinched look about the nostrils and the corners of the
mouth. He was homely, ugly even; except the noble curve of head
and profile, not a trace of his former good looks--but at least
that swinish, fleshy, fleshly expression was gone.
A physical wreck, battered, torn, dismantled by the storm and
fire of disease! It was hard for her to keep back her tears.
Their eyes met and his instantly shifted. The rest of the world
saw the man of force bent upon the possessions which mean fame
and honor regardless of how they are got. He knew that he could
deceive the world, that so long as he was rich and powerful it
would refuse to let him undeceive it, though he might strive to
show it what he was. But he knew that SHE saw him as he really
was--knew him as only a husband and a wife can know each the
other. And he respected her for the qualities which gave her a
right to despise him, and which had forced her to exercise that
right. He felt himself the superior of the rest of his
fellow-beings, but her inferior; did she not successfully defy
him; could she not, without a word, by simply resting her calm
gaze upon him, make him shift and slink?
He felt that he must change the subject--not of their
conversation, for they were not talking, but of
their--her--thoughts. He did not know precisely what she was
thinking of him, but he was certain that it was not anything
favorable how could it be? In fact, fight though she did against
the thought, into her mind as she looked, pitying yet shrinking,
came his likeness to a wolf--starved and sick and gaunt, by
weakness tamed into surface restraint, but in vicious teeth, in
savage lips, in jaw made to crush for love of crushing, a wicked
wolf, impatient to resume the life of the beast of prey.
By a mischance unavoidable in a mind filled as was his he began
to tell of his revenge--of the exhibition of power he purposed to
give, sudden and terrible. He talked of his enemies as a cat
might of a mouse it was teasing in the impassable circle of its
paws. She felt that they deserved the thunderbolt he said he was
about to hurl into them, but she could not help feeling pity for
them. If what he said of his resources and power were true, how
feeble, how helpless they were--pygmies fatuously disporting
themselves in the palm of a giant's hand, unconscious of where
they were, of the cruel eyes laughing at them, of the iron
muscles that would presently contract that hand and--she
shuddered; his voice came to her in a confused murmur.
"If he does not stop I shall loathe him AGAIN!" she said to
herself. Then to him: "Perhaps you'd like to see Langdon--he's
in the drawing-room with Gladys."
"I sent for him two hours ago. Yes, tell him to come up at
As she took the cup he detained her hand. She beat down the
impulse to snatch it away, let it lie passive. He pressed his
lips upon it.
"I haven't thanked you for coming back," he said in a low
voice, holding to her hand nervously.
"But you know it wasn't because I'm not grateful, don't you? I
can hardly believe yet that it isn't a dream. I'd have said
there wasn't a human being on earth who'd have done it--except
your mother. No, not even you, only your mother."
At this tribute to her mother, unexpected, sincere, tears dimmed
Pauline's eyes and a sob choked up into her throat.
"It was your mother in you that made you come," he went on.
"But you came--and I'll not forget it. You said you had come to
stay--is that so, Pauline?"
She bent her head in assent.
"When I'm well and on top again--but there's nothing in words.
All I'll say is, you're giving me a chance, and I'll make the
best of it. I've learned my lesson."
He slowly released her hand. She stood there a moment, without
speaking, without any definite thought. Then she left to send
"Yes," Dumont reflected, "it was her duty. It's a woman's
duty to be forgiving and gentle and loving and pure--they're made
differently from men. It was unnatural, her ever going away at
all. But she's a good woman, and she shall get what she deserves
hereafter. When I settle this bill for my foolishness I'll not
Duty--that word summed up his whole conception of the right
attitude of a good woman toward a man. A woman who acted from
love might change her mind; but duty was safe, was always there
when a man came back from wanderings which were mere amiable,
natural weaknesses in the male. Love might adorn a honeymoon or
an escapade; duty was the proper adornment of a home.
"I've just been viewing the wreck with Culver," he said, as
Langdon entered, dressed in the extreme of the latest London
"What didn't go in the storm was carried off by Giddings when he
abandoned the ship. But the hull's there and--oh, I'll get her
off and fix her up all right."
"Always knew Giddings was a rascal. He oozes piety and
respectability. That's the worst kind you have down-town. When
a man carries so much character in his face--it's like a woman
who carries so much color in her cheeks that you know it couldn't
have come from the inside."
"You're wrong about Giddings. He's honest enough. Any other
man would have done the same in his place. He stayed until there
was no hope of saving the ship."
"All lost but his honor--Wall Street honor, eh?"
After a pause Langdon said: "I'd no idea you held much of your
own stock. I thought you controlled through other people's
proxies and made your profits by forcing the stock up or down and
getting on the other side of the market."
"But, you see, I believe in Woolens," replied Dumont. "And I
believe in it still, Langdon!" His eyes had in them the look of
"That concern is breath and blood and life to me, and wife and
children and parents and brothers and sisters. I've put my whole
self into it. I conceived it. I brought it into the world. I
nursed it and brought it up. I made it big and strong and great.
It's mine, by heaven! MINE! And no man shall take it from me!"
He was sitting up, his face flushed, his eyes blazing. "Gad--he
does look a wild beast!" said Langdon to himself. He would have
said aloud, had Dumont been well: "I'm precious glad I ain't
the creature those fangs are reaching for!" He was about to
caution him against exciting himself when Dumont sank back with a
cynical smile at his own outburst.
"But to get down to business," he went on. "I've eleven
millions of the stock left--about a hundred and twenty thousand
shares. Gladys has fifty thousand shares--how much have you
"Less than ten thousand. And I'd have had none at all if my
mind hadn't been full of other things as I was sailing. I forgot
to tell my broker to sell."
Dumont was reflecting. Presently he said: "Those curs not only
took most of my stock and forced the sale of most of my other
securities; they've put me in such a light that outside
stockholders wouldn't send me their proxies now. To get back
control I must smash them, and I must also acquire pretty nearly
half the shares, and hold them till I'm firm in the saddle
"You'd better devote yourself for the present to escaping the
grave. Why bother about business? You've got enough--too much,
as it is. Take a holiday--go away and amuse yourself."
Dumont smiled. "That's what I'm going to do, what I'm
doing--amusing myself. I couldn't sleep, I couldn't live, if I
didn't feel that I was on my way back to power. Now--in the
present market I couldn't borrow on my Woolens stock. I've two
requests to make of you."
"Anything that's possible."
"The first is, I want you to lend me four millions, or, rather,
negotiate the loan for me, as if it were for yourself. I've got
about that amount in Governments, in several good railways and in
the property here. The place at Saint X is Pauline's, but the
things I can put up would bring four millions and a half at least
at forced sale. So, you'll be well secured. I'm asking you to
do it instead of doing it myself because, if I'm to win out, the
Herron crowd must think I'm done for and nearly dead."
Langdon was silent several minutes. At last he said: "What's
Dumont looked irritated--he did not like to be questioned, to
take any one into his confidence. But he restrained his temper
and said: "I'm going to make a counter-raid. I know where to
"Are you sure?"
Dumont frowned. "Don't disturb yourself," he said coldly. "I
can arrange the loan in another way."
"I'm asking you only for your own sake, Jack," Langdon hastily
interposed. "Of course you can have the money, and I don't want
"Then I'll not borrow through you." Dumont never would accept
a favor from any one. He regarded favors as profitable
investments but ruinous debts.
"Oh--very well--I'll take the security," said Langdon. "When
do you want the money?"
"It must be covered into my account at the Inter-State
National--remember, NOT the National Industrial, but the
Inter-State National. A million must be deposited to-day--the
rest by ten o'clock to-morrow at the latest."
"I'll attend to it. What's your other request?"
"Woolens'll take another big drop on Monday and at least two
hundred and fifty thousand shares'll be thrown on the market at
perhaps an average price of eighteen--less rather than more. I
want you quietly to organize a syndicate to buy what's offered.
They must agree to sell it to me for, say, two points advance on
what they pay for it. I'll put up--in your name--a million
dollars in cash and forfeit it if I don't take the stock off
their hands. As Woolens is worth easily double what it now
stands at, they can't lose. Of course the whole thing must be
Langdon deliberated this proposal. Finally he said: "I think
brother-in-law Barrow and his partner and I can manage it."
"You can assure them they'll make from six hundred thousand to a
million on a less than thirty days' investment of four millions
and a half, with no risk whatever."
"Just about that," assented Langdon--he had been carefully
brought up by his father to take care of a fortune and was
cleverer at figures than he pretended.
"Do your, buying through Tavistock," continued Dumont. "Give
him orders to take on Monday all offerings of National Woolens,
preferred and common, at eighteen or less. He'll understand what
"But I may be unable to get up the syndicate on such short
"You must," said Dumont. "And you will. You can get a move
on yourself when you try--I found that out when I was organizing
my original combine. One thing more--very important. Learn for
me all you can--without being suspected--about the Fanning-Smiths
and Great Lakes."
He made Langdon go over the matters he was to attend to, point by
point, before he would let him leave. He was asleep when the
nurse, sent in by Langdon on his way out, reached his bed--the
sound and peaceful sleep of a veteran campaigner whose nerves are
trained to take advantage of every lull.
At ten the next morning he sent the nurse out of his room. "And
close the doors," he said, "and don't come until I ring." He
began to use the branch telephone at his bedside, calling up
Langdon, and then Tavistock, to assure himself that all was going
well. Next he called up in succession five of the great
individual money-lenders of Wall Street, pledged them to secrecy
and made arrangements for them to call upon him at his house at
different hours that day and Sunday. Another might have
intrusted the making of these arrangements to Culver or Langdon,
but Dumont never let any one man know enough of his plan of
battle to get an idea of the whole.
"Now for the ammunition," he muttered, when the last
appointment was made. And he rang for Culver.
Culver brought him writing materials. "Take this order," he
said, as he wrote, "to the Central Park Safety Deposit vaults
and bring me from my compartment the big tin box with my initials
in white--remember, IN WHITE--on the end of it."
Three-quarters of an hour later Culver returned, half-carrying,
half-dragging the box. Dumont's eyes lighted up at sight of it.
"Ah!" he said, in a sigh of satisfaction and relief. "Put it
under the head of the bed here. Thanks. That's all."
The nurse came as Culver left, but he sent her away. He
supported himself to the door, locked it. He took his keys from
the night-stand, drew out the box and opened it. On the mass of
stocks and bonds lay an envelope containing two lists--one, of
the securities in the box that were the property of Gladys
Dumont; the other, of the securities there that were the property
of Laura Dumont, their mother.
His hands shook as he unfolded these lists, and a creaking in the
walls or flooring made him start and glance round with the look
of a surprised thief. But this weakness was momentary. He was
soon absorbed in mentally arranging the securities to the best
advantage for distribution among the money-lenders as collateral
for the cash he purposed to stake in his game.
Such thought as he gave to the moral quality of what he was doing
with his sister's and his mother's property without asking their
consent was altogether favorable to himself. His was a
well-trained, "practical" conscience. It often anticipated his
drafts upon it for moral support in acts that might at first
blush seem criminal, or for soothing apologies for acts which
were undeniably "not QUITE right." This particular act,
conscience assured him, was of the highest morality--under his
own code. For the code enacted by ordinary human beings to guide
their foolish little selves he had no more respect than a lion
would have for a moral code enacted by and for sheep. The sheep
might assert that their code was for lions also; but why should
that move the lions to anything but amusement? He had made his
own code--not by special revelation from the Almighty, as did
some of his fellow practitioners of high finance, but by especial
command of his imperial "destiny." And it was a strict
code--it had earned him his unblemished reputation for inflexible
commercial honesty and commercial truthfulness. The foundation
principle was his absolute right to the great property he had
created. This being granted, how could there be immorality in
any act whatsoever that might be necessary to hold or regain his
kingdom? As well debate the morality of a mother in
"commandeering" bread or even a life to save her baby from
His kingdom! His by discovery, his by adroit appropriation, his
by intelligent development, his by the right of mental
might--HIS! Stake his sister's and his mother's possessions for
it? Their lives, if necessary!
Than John Dumont, president of the Woolens Monopoly, there was no
firmer believer in the gospel of divine right--the divine right
of this new race of kings, the puissant lords of trade.
When he had finished his preparations for the money-lenders he
unlocked the door and sank into bed exhausted. Hardly had he
settled himself when, without knocking, Gladys entered, Pauline
just behind her. His face blanched and from his dry throat came
a hoarse, strange cry--it certainly sounded like fright. "You
startled me--that was all," he hastened to explain, as much to
himself as to them. For, a something inside him had echoed the
wondering inquiry in the two women's faces--a something that
persisted in reverencing the moral code which his new code had
THE OTHER MAN'S MIGHT.
At eleven o'clock on Monday morning James, head of the
Fanning-Smith family, president of Fanning-Smith and Company, and
chairman of the Great Lakes and Gulf railway--to note his chief
titles to eminence up-town and down--was seated in his
grandfather's office, in his grandfather's chair, at his
grandfather's desk. Above his head hung his grandfather's
portrait; and he was a slightly modernized reproduction of it.
As he was thus in every outward essential his grandfather over
again, he and his family and the social and business world
assumed that he was the reincarnation of the crafty old fox who
first saw the light of day through the chinks in a farm-hand's
cottage in Maine and last saw it as it sifted through the
real-lace curtains of his gorgeous bedroom in his great Madison
Avenue mansion. But in fact James was only physically and
titularly the representative of his grandfather. Actually he was
typical of the present generation of Fanning-Smiths--a
self-intoxicated, stupid and pretentious generation; a
polo-playing and racing and hunting, a yachting and
palace-dwelling and money-scattering generation; a
business-despising and business-neglecting, an old-world
aristocracy-imitating generation. He moved pompously through his
two worlds, fashion and business, deceiving himself completely,
every one else except his wife more or less, her not at all--but
that was the one secret she kept.
James was the husband of Herron's daughter by his first wife, and
Herron had induced him to finance the syndicate that had raided
and captured National Woolens.
James was bred to conservatism. His timidity was of that
wholesome strength which so often saves chuckle-heads from the
legitimate consequences of their vanity and folly. But the
spectacle of huge fortunes, risen overnight before the wands of
financial magicians whose abilities he despised when he compared
them with his own, was too much for timidity. He had been born
with a large vanity, and it had been stuffed from his babyhood by
all around him until it was become as abnormal as the liver of a
Strasburg goose--and as supersensitive. It suffered acutely as
these Jacks went climbing up their bean-stalk wealth to heights
of magnificence from which the establishments and equipages of
the Fanning-Smiths must seem poor to shabbiness. He sneered at
them as "vulgar new-comers"; he professed abhorrence of their
ostentation. But he--and Gertrude, his wife--envied them, talked
of them constantly, longed to imitate, to surpass them.
In the fullness of time his temptation came. He shivered,
shrank, leaped headlong--his wife pushing.
About ten days before the raid on National Woolens there had
drifted in to Dumont through one of his many subterranean sources
of information a rumor that the Fanning-Smiths had stealthily
reduced their holdings of Great Lakes to twenty-one thousand
shares and that the property was not so good as it had once been.
He never permitted any Wall Street development to pass
unexplained--he thought it simple prudence for a man with the
care of a great financial and commercial enterprise to look into
every dark corner of the Street and see what was hatching there.
Accordingly, he sent an inquiry back along his secret avenue.
Soon he learned that Great Lakes was sound, but the
Fanning-Smiths had gone rotten; that they were gambling in the
stock of the road they controlled and were supposed in large part
to own; that they were secretly selling its stock "short"--that
is, were betting it would go down--when there was nothing in the
condition of the property to justify a fall. He reflected on
this situation and reached these conclusions: "James
Fanning-Smith purposes to pass the autumn dividend, which will
cause the stock to drop. Then he will take his profits from the
shares he has sold short and will buy back control at the low
price. He is a fool and a knave. Only an imbecile would thus
trifle with an established property. A chance for some one to
make a fortune and win a railroad by smashing the
Fanning-Smiths." Having recorded in his indelible memory these
facts and conclusions as to James Fanning-Smith's plunge from
business into gambling, Dumont returned to his own exacting
He had himself begun the race for multi-millions as a gambler and
had only recently become ALMOST altogether a business man. But
he thought there was a radical difference between his case and
Fanning-Smith's. To use courageous gambling as means to a
foothold in business--he regarded that as wise audacity. To use
a firm-established foothold in business as a means to
gambling--he regarded that as the acme of reckless folly.
Besides, when he marked the cards or loaded the dice for a great
Wall Street game of "high finance," he did it with skill and
intelligence; and Fanning-Smith had neither.
When the banking-house of Fanning-Smith and Company undertook to
finance the raid on National Woolens it was already deep in the
Great Lakes gamble. James was new to Wall Street's green table;
and he liked the sensations and felt that his swindle on other
gamblers and the public--he did not call it by that homely name,
though he knew others would if they found him out--was moving
smoothly. Still very, very deep down his self-confidence was
underlaid with quicksand. But Herron was adroit and convincing
to the degree attainable only by those who deceive themselves
before trying to deceive others; and James' cupidity and conceit
were enormous. He ended by persuading himself that his house,
directed and protected by his invincible self, could carry with
ease the burden of both loads. Indeed, the Great Lakes gamble
now seemed to him a negligible trifle in the comparison--what
were its profits of a few hundred thousands beside the millions
that would surely be his when the great Woolens Monopoly, bought
in for a small fraction of its value, should be controlled by a
group of which he would be the dominant personality?
He ventured; he won. He was now secure--was not Dumont
dispossessed, despoiled, dying?
At eleven o'clock on that Monday morning he was seated upon his
embossed leather throne, under his grandfather's portrait,
immersed in an atmosphere of self-adoration. At intervals he
straightened himself, distended his chest, elevated his chin and
glanced round with an air of haughty dignity, though there was
none to witness and to be impressed. In Wall Street there is a
fatuity which, always epidemic among the small fry, infects wise
and foolish, great and small, whenever a paretic dream of an
enormous haul at a single cast of the net happens to come true.
This paretic fatuity now had possession of James; in imagination
he was crowning and draping himself with multi-millions, power
and fame. At intervals he had been calling up on the telephone
at his elbow Zabriskie, the firm's representative on 'Change, and
had been spurring him on to larger and more frequent "sales" of
His telephone bell rang. He took down the receiver--"Yes, it's
Mr. Fanning-Smith--oh--Mr. Fanshaw----" He listened, in his
face for the first few seconds all the pitying amusement a small,
vain man can put into an expression of superiority. "Thank you,
Mr. Fanshaw," he said. "But really, it's impossible. WE are
perfectly secure. No one would venture to disturb US." And he
pursed his lips and swelled his fat cheeks in the look for which
his father was noted. But, after listening a few seconds longer,
his eyes had in them the beginnings of timidity.
He turned his head so that he could see the ticker-tape as it
reeled off. His heavy cheeks slowly relaxed. "Yes, yes," he
"I'll just speak to our Mr. Zabriskie. Good-by." And he rang
off and had his telephone connected with the telephone Zabriskie
was using at the Stock Exchange. All the while his eyes were on
the ticker-tape. Suddenly he saw upon it where it was bending
from under the turning wheel a figure that made him drop the
receiver and seize it in both his trembling hands. "Great
heavens!" he gasped. "Fanshaw may be right. Great Lakes one
hundred and twelve--and only a moment ago it was one hundred and
His visions of wealth and power and fame were whisking off in a
gale of terror. A new quotation was coming from under the
wheel--Great Lakes one hundred and fifteen. In his eyes stared
the awful thought that was raging in his brain--"This may
mean----" And his vanity instantly thrust out Herron and
Gertrude and pointed at them as the criminals who would be
responsible if--he did not dare formulate the possibilities of
that bounding price.
The telephone boy at the other end, going in search of Zabriskie,
left the receiver off the hook and the door of the booth open.
Into Fanning-Smith's ear came the tumult from the floor of the
Exchange--shrieks and yells riding a roar like the breakers of an
infernal sea. And on the ticker-tape James was reading the story
of the cause, was reading how his Great Lakes venture was caught
in those breakers, was rushing upon the rocks amid the despairing
wails of its crew, the triumphant jeers of the wreckers on shore.
Great Lakes one hundred and eighteen--tick--tick--tick--Great
Lakes one hundred and twenty-three--tick--tick--tick--Great Lakes
one hundred and thirty--tick--tick--tick--Great Lakes one hundred
"It can't be true!" he moaned. "It CAN'T be true! If it is
I'm ruined--all of us ruined!"
The roar in the receiver lessened--some one had entered the booth
at the other end and had closed the door. "Well!" he heard in
a sharp, impatient voice--Zabriskie's.
"What is it, Ned--what's the matter? Why didn't you tell me?"
Fanning-Smith's voice was like the shrill shriek of a coward in a
perilous storm. It was in itself complete explanation of
Zabriskie's neglect to call upon him for orders.
"Don't ask me. Somebody's rocketing Great Lakes--taking all
offerings. Don't keep me here. I'm having a hard enough time,
watching this crazy market and sending our orders by the
roundabout way. Got anything to suggest?"
Tick--tick--tick--Commander-in-chief Fanning-Smith watched the
crawling tape in fascinated horror--Great Lakes one hundred and
thirty-eight. It had spelled out for him another letter of that
hideous word, Ruin. All the moisture of his body seemed to be on
the outside; inside, he was dry and hot as a desert. If the
price went no higher, if it did not come down, nearly all he had
in the world would be needed to settle his "short" contracts.
For he would have to deliver at one hundred and seven, more than
two hundred thousand shares which he had contracted to sell; and
to get them for delivery he would have to pay one hundred and
thirty-eight dollars a share. A net loss of more than six
"You must get that price down--you must! You MUST!" quavered
"Hell!" exclaimed Zabriskie--he was the youngest member of the
firm, a son of James' oldest sister. "Tell me how, and I'll do
"You're there--you know what to do," pleaded James. "And I
order you to get that price down!"
"Don't keep me here, talking rot. I've been fighting--and I'm
going to keep on."
James shivered. Fighting! There was no fight in him--all his
life he had got everything without fighting. "Do your best,"
he said. "I'm very ill to-day. I'm--"
"Good-by--" Zabriskie had hung up the receiver.
James sat staring at the tape like a paralytic staring at death.
The minutes lengthened into an hour--into two hours. No one
disturbed him--when the battle is on who thinks of the "honorary
commander"? At one o'clock he shook himself, brushed his hand
over his eyes--quotations of Woolens were reeling off the tape,
alternating with quotations of Great Lakes.
"Zabriskie is selling our Woolens," he thought. Then, with a
blinding flash the truth struck through his brain. He gave a
loud cry between a sob and a shriek and, flinging his arms at
full length upon his desk, buried his face between them and burst
"Ruined! Ruined! Ruined!" And his shoulders, his whole body,
shook like a child in a paroxysm.
A long, long ring at the telephone. Fanning-Smith, irritated by
the insistent jingling so close to his ear, lifted himself and
answered--the tears were guttering his swollen face; his lips and
eyelids were twitching.
"Well?" he said feebly.
"We've got 'em on the run," came the reply in Zabriskie's
voice, jubilant now.
"Don't know who--whoever was trying to squeeze us. I had to
throw over some Woolens--but I'll pick it up again--maybe
Fanning-Smith could hear the roar of the Exchange--wilder,
fiercer than three hours before, but music to him now. He looked
sheepishly at the portrait of his grandfather. When its eyes met
his he flushed and shifted his gaze guiltily. "Must have been
something I ate for breakfast," he muttered to the portrait and
to himself in apologetic explanation of his breakdown.
In a distant part of the field all this time was posted the
commander-in-chief of the army of attack. Like all wise
commanders in all well-conducted battles, he was far removed from
the blinding smoke, from the distracting confusion. He had
placed himself where he could hear, see, instantly direct,
without being disturbed by trifling reverse or success, by
unimportant rumors to vast proportions blown.
To play his game for dominion or destruction John Dumont had had
himself arrayed in a wine-colored, wadded silk dressing-gown over
his white silk pajamas and had stretched himself on a divan in
his sitting-room in his palace. A telephone and a stock-ticker
within easy reach were his field-glasses and his aides--the
stock-ticker would show him second by second the precise posture
of the battle; the telephone would enable him to direct it to the
The telephone led to the ear of his chief of staff, Tavistock,
who was at his desk in his privatest office in the Mills
Building, about him telephones straight to the ears of the
division commanders. None of these knew who was his commander;
indeed, none knew that there was to be a battle or, after the
battle was on, that they were part of one of its two contending
armies. They would blindly obey orders, ignorant who was aiming
the guns they fired and at whom those guns were aimed. Such
conditions would have been fatal to the barbaric struggles for
supremacy which ambition has waged through all the past; they are
ideal conditions for these modern conflicts of the market which
more and more absorb the ambitions of men. Instead of shot and
shell and regiments of "cannon food," there are battalions of
capital, the paper certificates of the stored-up toil or trickery
of men; instead of mangled bodies and dead, there are minds in
the torment of financial peril or numb with the despair of
financial ruin. But the stakes are the same old stakes--power
and glory and wealth for a few, thousands on thousands dragged or
cozened into the battle in whose victory they share scantily, if
at all, although they bear its heaviest losses on both sides.
It was half-past eight o'clock when Dumont put the receiver to
his ear and greeted Tavistock in a strong, cheerful voice.
"Never felt better in my life," was his answer to Tavistock's
inquiry as to his health. "Even old Sackett admits I'm in
condition. But he says I must have no irritations--so, be
careful to carry out orders."
He felt as well as he said. His body seemed the better for its
rest and purification, for its long freedom from his occasional
but terrific assaults upon it, for having got rid of the
superfluous flesh which had been swelling and weighting it.
He made Tavistock repeat all the orders he had given him, to
assure himself he had not been misunderstood. As he listened to
the rehearsal of his own shrewd plans his eyes sparkled. "I'll
bag the last----of them," he muttered, and his lips twisted into
a smile at which Culver winced.
When the ticker clicked the first quotation of Great Lakes Dumont
said: "Now, clear out, Culver! And shut the door after you,
and let no one interrupt me until I call." He wished to have no
restraint upon his thoughts, no eyes to watch his face, no ears
to hear what the fortune of the battle might wring from him.
As the ticker pushed out the news of the early declines and
recoveries in Great Lakes, Tavistock leading the Fanning-Smith
crowd on to make heavier and heavier plunges, Dumont could see in
imagination the battle-field--the floor of the Stock Exchange--as
plainly as if he were there.
The battle began with a languid cannonade between the two
seemingly opposed parts of Dumont's army. Under cover of this he
captured most of the available actual shares of Great
Lakes--valuable aids toward making his position, his "corner,"
impregnable. But before he had accomplished his full purpose
Zabriskie, nominal lieutenant-commander, actual commander of the
Fanning-Smith forces, advanced to give battle. Instead of
becoming suspicious at the steadiness of the price under his
attacks upon it, Zabriskie was lured on to sell more of those
Great Lakes shares which he did not have. And he beamed from his
masked position as he thought of the batteries he was holding in
reserve for his grand movement to batter down the price of the
stock late in the day, and capture these backers of the property
that was supposed to be under the protection of the high and
He was still thinking along this line, as he stood aloof and
apparently disinterested, when Dumont began to close in upon him.
Zabriskie, astonished by this sudden tremendous fire, was alarmed
when under its protection the price advanced. He assaulted in
force with large selling orders; but the price pushed on and the
fierce cannonade of larger and larger buying orders kept up.
When Great Lakes had mounted in a dozen bounds from one hundred
and seven to one hundred and thirty-nine, he for the first time
realized that he was facing not an unorganized speculating public
but a compact army, directed by a single mind to a single
purpose. "A lunatic--a lot of lunatics," he said, having not
the faintest suspicion of the reason for the creation of these
conditions of frenzy. Still, if this rise continued or was not
reversed the Fanning-Smiths would be ruined--by whom? "Some of
those Chicago bluffers," he finally decided. "I must throw a
scare into I them."
He could have withdrawn from the battle then with a pitiful
remnant of the Fanning-Smiths and their associates--that is, he
thought he could, for he did not dream of the existence of the
"corner." But he chose the opposite course. He flung off his
disguise and boldly attacked the stock with selling orders openly
in the name of the Fanning-Smiths.
"When they see us apparently unloading our own ancestral
property I think they'll take to their heels," he said. But his
face was pale as he awaited the effect of his assault.
The price staggered, trembled. The clamor of the battle alarmed
those in the galleries of the Stock Exchange--Zabriskie's brokers
selling, the brokers of the mysterious speculator buying, the
speculating public through its brokers joining in on either side;
men shrieking into each other's faces as they danced round and
round the Great Lakes pillar. The price went down, went up, went
down, down, down--Zabriskie had hurled selling orders for nearly
fifty thousand shares at it and Dumont had commanded his guns to
cease firing. He did not dare take any more offerings; he had
reached the end of the ammunition he had planned to expend at
that particular stage of the battle.
The alarm spread and, although Zabriskie ceased selling, the
price continued to fall under the assaults of the speculating
public, mad to get rid of that which its own best friends were so
eagerly and so frankly throwing over. Down, down, down to one
hundred and twenty, to one hundred and ten, to one hundred and
Zabriskie telephoned victory to his nominal commander, lifting
him, weak and trembling, from the depths into which he had
fallen, to an at least upright position upon his embossed leather
throne. Then Zabriskie began stealthily to cover his appallingly
long line of "shorts" by making purchases at the lowest
obtainable prices--one hundred and four--one hundred and
three--one hundred and one--ninety-nine--one hundred and six!
The price rebounded so rapidly and so high that Zabriskie was
forced to stop his retreat. Dumont, noting the celerity with
which the enemy were escaping under cover of the demoralization,
had decided no longer to delay the move for which he had saved
himself. He had suddenly exploded under the falling price mine
after mine of buying orders that blew it skyward. Zabriskie's
retreat was cut off.
But before he had time to reason out this savage renewal of the
assault by that mysterious foe whom he thought he had routed, he
saw a new and more dreadful peril. Brackett, his firm's secret
broker, rushed to him and, to make himself heard through the
hurly-burly, shouted into his ear:
"Look what's doing in Woolens!"
Dumont had ordered a general assault upon his enemies, front,
rear and both flanks. His forces were now attacking not only
through Great Lakes but also through Woolens. Two apparently
opposing sets of his brokers were trading in Woolens, were
hammering the price down, down, a point, an eighth, a half, a
quarter, at a time. The sweat burst out all over Zabriskie's
body and his eyes rolled wildly. He was caught among four fires:
To continue to sell Great Lakes in face of its rising price--that
was ruin. To cease to sell it and so let its price go up to
where he could not buy when settlement time came--that was ruin.
To sell Woolens, to help batter down its price, to shrink the
value of his enormous investment in it--ruin again. To buy
Woolens in order to hold up its price, to do it when he would
need all obtainable cash to extricate him from the Great Lakes
entanglement--ruin, certain ruin.
His judgment was gone; his brute instinct of fighting was
dominant; he began to strike out wildly, his blows falling either
nowhere or upon himself.
At the Woolens post he was buying in the effort to sustain its
price, buying stock that might be worthless when he got it--and
that he might not be able to pay for. At the Great Lakes post he
was selling in the effort to force the price down, selling more
and more of a stock he did not have and---- At last the thought
flashed into his befuddled brain: "There may be a corner in
Great Lakes. What if there were no stock to be had?"
He struck his hands against the sides of his head. "Trapped!"
he groaned, then bellowed in Brackett's ear. "Sell Woolens--do
the best you can to keep the price up, but sell at any price! We
must have money--all we can get! And tell Farley"--Farley was
Brackett's partner--"to buy Great Lakes--buy all he can get--at
any price. Somebody's trying to corner us!"
He felt--with an instinct he could not question--that there was
indeed a corner in Great Lakes, that he and his house and their
associates were caught. Caught with promises to deliver
thousands upon thousands of shares of Great Lakes, when Great
Lakes could be had only of the mysterious cornerer, and at
whatever price he might choose to ask!
"If we've got to go down," he said to himself, "I'll see that
it's a tremendous smash anyhow, and that we ain't alone in it."
For he had in him the stuff that makes a man lead a forlorn hope
with a certain joy in the very hopelessness of it.
The scene on the day of Dumont's downfall was a calm in
comparison with the scene which Dumont, sitting alone among the
piled-up coils of ticker-tape, was reconstructing from its, to
him, vivid second-by-second sketchings.
The mysterious force which had produced a succession of
earthquakes moved horribly on, still in mystery impenetrable, to
produce a cataclysm. In the midst of the chaos two vast
whirlpools formed--one where Great Lakes sucked down men and
fortunes, the other where Woolens drew some down to destruction,
flung others up to wealth. Then Rumor, released by Tavistock
when Dumont saw that the crisis had arrived, ran hot foot through
the Exchange, screaming into the ears of the brokers, shrieking
through the telephones, howling over the telegraph wires, "A
corner! A corner! Great Lakes is cornered!" Thousands besides
the Fanning-Smith coterie had been gambling in Great Lakes, had
sold shares they did not have. And now all knew that to get them
they must go to the unknown, but doubtless merciless,
master-gambler--unless they could save themselves by instantly
buying elsewhere before the steel jaws of the corner closed and
Reason fled, and self-control. The veneer of civilization was
torn away to the last shred; and men, turned brute again, gave
themselves up to the elemental passions of the brute.
In the quiet, beautiful room in upper Fifth Avenue was Dumont in
his wine-colored wadded silk dressing-gown and white silk
pajamas. The floor near his lounge was littered with the
snake-like coils of ticker-tape. They rose almost to his knees
as he sat and through telephone and ticker drank in the massacre
of his making, glutted himself with the joy of the vengeance he
was taking--on his enemies, on his false or feeble friends, on
the fickle public that had trampled and spat upon him. His wet
hair was hanging in strings upon his forehead. His face was
flushed and his green-gray eyes gleamed like a mad dog's. At
intervals a jeer or a grunt of gratified appetite ripped from his
mouth or nose. Like a great lean spider he lay hid in the center
of that vast net of electric wires, watching his prey writhe
helpless. Pauline, made uneasy by his long isolation, opened his
door and looked--glanced, rather. As she closed it, in haste to
shut from view that spectacle of a hungry monster at its banquet
of living flesh, Culver saw her face. Such an expression an
angel might have, did it chance to glance down from the
battlements of heaven and, before it could turn away, catch a
glimpse of some orgy in hell.
But Dumont did not hear the door open and close. He was at the
climax of his feast.
Upon his two maelstroms, sucking in the wreckage from a dozen
other explosions as well as from those he had directly caused, he
could see as well as if he were among the fascinated, horrified
spectators in the galleries of the Exchange, the mangled flotsam
whirling and descending and ascending. The entire stock list,
the entire speculating public of the country was involved. And
expression of the emotions everywhere was by telegraph and
telephone concentrated in the one hall, upon the faces and bodies
of those few hundred brokers. All the passions which love of
wealth and dread of want breed in the human animal were there
finding vent--all degrees and shades and modes of greed, of hate,
of fear, of despair. It was like a shipwreck where the whole
fleet is flung upon the reefs, and the sailors, drunk and insane,
struggle with death each in his own awful way. It was like the
rout where frenzied victors ride after and among frenzied
vanquished to shoot and stab and saber.
And while this battle, precipitated by the passions of a few
"captains of industry," raged in Wall Street and filled the
nation with the clamor of ruined or triumphant gamblers,
ten-score thousand toilers in the two great enterprises directly
involved toiled tranquilly on--herding sheep and shearing them,
weaving cloths and dyeing them, driving engines, handling
freight, conducting trains, usefully busy, adding to the sum of
human happiness, subtracting from the sum of human misery.
At three o'clock Dumont sank back among his cushions and pillows.
His child, his other self, his Woolens Monopoly, was again his
own; his enemies were under his heel, as much so as those heaps
and coils of ticker-tape he had been churning in his excitement.
"I'm dead tired," he muttered, his face ghastly, his body
relaxed in utter exhaustion.
He closed his eyes. "I must sleep--I've earned it.
To-morrow"--a smile flitted round his mouth--"I'll hang their
hides where every coyote and vulture can see."
Toward four o'clock in came Doctor Sackett and Culver. The room
was flooded with light--the infinite light of the late-spring
afternoon reflected on the white enamel and white brocade of
walls and furniture. On the floor in the heaps and coils of
ticker-tape lay Dumont.
In his struggles the tape had wound round and round his legs, his
arms, his neck. It lay in a curling, coiling mat, like a
serpent's head, upon his throat, where his hands clutched the
collar of his pajamas.
Sackett knelt beside him, listening at his chest, feeling for his
pulse in vain. And Culver stood by, staring stupidly at the now
worthless instrument of his ambition for wealth and power.
AFTER THE LONG WINTER.
Within two hours Langdon, in full control, had arranged with
Tavistock to make the imperiled victory secure. Thus, not until
the next day but one did it come out that the cataclysm had been
caused by a man ruined and broken and with his back against
death's door to hold it shut; that Dumont himself had turned the
triumphing host of his enemies into a flying mob, in its panic
flinging away its own possessions as well as its booty.
Perhaps the truth never would have been known, perhaps Langdon
would have bribed Tavistock to silence and would have posed as
the conquering genius, had he found out a day earlier how Dumont
had put himself in funds. As it was, this discovery did not come
too late for him to seize the opportunity that was his through
Dumont's secret methods, Pauline's indifference to wealth and his
own unchecked authority. He has got many an hour of--strictly
private--mental gymnastics out of the moral problem he saw, in
his keeping for himself and Gladys the spoils he gathered up. He
is inclined to think he was intelligent rather than right; but,
knowing his weakness for self-criticism, he never gives a
positive verdict against himself. That, however, is unimportant,
as he is not the man to permit conscience to influence conduct in
He feels that, in any case, he did not despoil Pauline or
Gardiner. For, after he had told her what Dumont did--and to
protect himself he hastened to tell it--she said: "Whatever
there may be, it's all for Gardiner. I waive my own rights, if I
have any. But you must give me your word of honor that you won't
let anything tainted pass to him." Langdon, judging with the
delicacy of a man of honor put on honor, was able to find little
He gives himself most of the credit for Gardiner's turning out so
well--"Inherited riches are a hopeless handicap," he often says
to Gladys when they are talking over the future of their
The first six months of her new life, of her resumed life, she
spent in Europe with her father and mother and Gardiner. Late in
the fall they were back at Saint X, at the old house in Jefferson
Street. In the following June came Scarborough. She was in the
garden, was waiting for him, was tying up a tall rose, whose
splendid, haughty head had bent under the night's rain.
He was quite near her when she heard his step and turned. He
stood, looked at her--the look she had seen that last afternoon
at Battle Field. He came slowly up and took both her hands.
"After all the waiting and longing and hoping," he said, "at
last--you! I can't put it into words--except to
She drew a long breath; her gaze met his. And in her eyes he saw
a flame that had never shone clearly there before--the fire of
her own real self, free and proud. "Once you told me about your
father and mother--how he cared--cared always."
"I remember," he answered.
"Well--I--I," said Pauline, "I care as SHE must have cared
when she gave him herself--and YOU."