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Title: The Golden Flood

Author: Edwin Lefevre

Illustrator: W. R. Leigh

Release Date: May 2, 2016 [EBook #51943]
Last Updated: November 10, 2016

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8


Produced by David Widger from page images generously
provided by Google Books


By Edwin Lefevre

Illustrated By W. R. Leigh

New York

McClure, Phillips & Co.










The president looked up from the underwriters’ plan of the latest “Industrial” consolidation capital stock, $100,000,000; assets, for publication, $100,000,000 which the syndicate’s lawyers had pronounced perfectly legal. Judiciously advertised, the stock probably would be oversubscribed. The profits ought to be enormous. He was one of the underwriters.

“What is it?” he asked. He did not frown, but his voice was as though hung with icicles. The assistant cashier, an imaginative man in the wrong place, shivered.

“This gentleman,” he said, giving a card to the president, “wishes to make a deposit of one hundred thousand dollars.”

The president looked at the card. He read on it:


“Who sent him to us?” he asked.

“I don’t know, sir. He said he had a letter of introduction to you,” answered the assistant cashier, disclaiming all responsibility in the matter.

The president read the card a second time. The name was unfamiliar.

“Grinnell?” he muttered. “Grinnell? Never heard of him.” Perhaps he felt it was poor policy to show ignorance on any matter whatever. When he spoke again, it was in a voice overflowing with a dignity that was a subtle rebuke to all assistant cashiers:

“I will see him.”

He busied himself once more with the typewritten documents before him, lost in its alluring possibilities, until he became conscious of a presence near him. He still waited, purposely, before looking up. He was a very busy man, and all the world must know it. At length he raised his head majestically, and turned—an animated fragment of a glacier—until his eyes rested on the stranger’s.

“Good-morning, sir,” he said politely.

“Good-morning, Mr. Dawson,” said the stranger. He was a young man, conceivably under thirty, of medium height, square of shoulders, clean-shaven, and clear-skinned. He had brown hair and brown eyes. His dress hinted at careful habits rather than at fashionable tailors. Gold-rimmed spectacles gave him a studious air, which disappeared whenever he spoke. As if at the sound of his own voice, his eyes took on a look of alert self-confidence which interested the bank president. Mr. Dawson was deeply prejudiced against the look of extreme astuteness, blended with the desire to create a favourable impression, so familiar to him as the president of the richest bank in Wall Street.

“You are Mr.——” The president looked at the stranger’s card as though he had left it unread until he had finished far more important business. It really was unnecessary; but it had become a habit, which he lost only when speaking to his equals or his superiors in wealth.

“Grinnell,” prompted the stranger, very calmly. He was so unimpressed by the president that the president was impressed by him.

“Ah, yes. Mr. Williams tells me you wish to become one of our depositors?”

“Yes, sir. I have here,” taking a slip of paper from his pocket-book, “an Assay Office check on the Sub-Treasury. It is for a trifle over a hundred thousand dollars.”

Even the greatest bank in Wall Street must have a kindly feeling toward depositors of a hundred thousand dollars. Mr. Dawson permitted himself to smile graciously.

“I am sure we shall be glad to have your account, Mr. Grinnell,” he said. “You are in business in——” The slight arching of his eyebrows, rather than the inflection of his voice, made his words a delicate interrogation. He was a small, slender man, greyhaired and grey-moustached, with an air of polite aloofness from trivialities. His manners were what you might expect of a man whose grandfather had been Minister to France, and had never forgotten it; nor had his children. His self-possession was so great that it was not noticeable.

“I am not in any business, Mr. Dawson, unless,” said the young man with a smile that deprived his voice of any semblance of pertness or of premeditated discourtesy, “it is the business of depositing $103,648.67 with the Metropolitan National Bank. My friend, Professor Willetts, of Columbia, gave me a letter of introduction. Here it is. I may say, Mr. Dawson, that I haven’t the slightest intention of disturbing this account, as far as I know now, for an indefinite period.” The president read the letter. It was from the professor of metallurgy at Columbia, who was an old acquaintance of Dawson’s. It merely said that George K. Grinnell was one of his old students, a graduate of the School of Mines, who had asked him to suggest a safe bank of deposit. This the Metropolitan certainly was. He had asked his young friend to attach his own signature at the bottom, since Grinnell had no other bank accounts, and no other way of having his signature verified. Mr. Grinnell had said he wished his money to be absolutely safe, and Professor Willetts took great pleasure in sending him to Mr. Dawson.

Mr. Dawson bowed his head—an acquiescence meant to be encouraging. To the young man the necessity for such encouragement was not clear. Possibly it showed in his eyes, for Mr. Dawson said very politely, in an almost courtly way he had at times to show some people that an aristocrat could do business aristocratically:

“It is not usual for us to accept accounts from strangers. We do not really know.” very gently, “that you are the man to whom this letter was given, nor that your signature is that of Mr. George K. Grinnell.”

The young man laughed pleasantly. “I see your position, Mr. Dawson, but, really, I am not important enough to be impersonated by anybody. As for my being George K. Grinnell, I’ve laboured under that impression for twenty-nine years. I’ll have Professor Willetts in person introduce me, if you wish. I have some letters——” He made a motion toward his breast pocket, but Mr. Dawson held up a hand in polite dissent; he was above suspicions. “And as for my signature, if you will send a clerk with me to the Assay Office, next door they will doubtless verify it to your satisfaction; I can just as easily bring legal tender notes, I suppose. In any case, as I have no intention of touching this money for some time to come, I suppose the bank will be safe from——”

“Oh,” interrupted Dawson, with a sort of subdued cordiality, “as I told you before, while we do not usually take accounts from people of whom we know nothing in a business way, we will make an exception in your case.” That the young man might not think the bank’s eagerness for deposits made its officers unbusinesslike, the president added, with a politely explanatory smile: “Professor Willetts’s letter is sufficient introduction. As you say you are not in business—”

He paused and looked at the young man for confirmation.

“No, sir; I happen to have this money, and I desire a safe place to keep it in. I may bring a little more. It depends upon certain family matters. But that is for the future to decide. In the meantime, I should like to leave this money here, untouched.”

“Very well, sir.” The president pushed a button on his desk. A bright-looking, neatly dressed office-boy appeared, his face exaggeratedly attentive.

“Ask Mr. Williams to come in, please.” The office-boy turned on his heels as by a military command, and hastened away. It was the bank’s training; the president’s admirers said it showed his genius for organization down to the smallest detail. Presently the assistant cashier entered.

“Mr. Williams, Mr. Grinnell will be one of our most valued depositors. We must show him that we appreciate his confidence in us. Kindly attend to the necessary details.” Mr. Dawson paused. Perhaps his hesitancy was meant as an invitation to Mr. George Kitchell Grinnell to vouchsafe further information of a personal nature. But Mr. Grinnell said, with a smile: “Many thanks, Mr. Dawson,” and Mr. Dawson smiled back, politely. As the men turned to go, he took up the underwriting plan and forgot all about the incident. It was a Thursday. It might as well have been a Monday or a Tuesday; but it was not.

Mr. Williams called up Professor Willetts on the telephone, who said he had given a letter of introduction to George K. Grinnell. He described Grinnell’s appearance, and added that Grinnell had been one of his students, and was quite well up on metallurgy, but was not, so far as the professor knew, engaged in active business. He thought Grinnell had some private means. The Assay Office people had identified Grinnell and his signature. It was not much information, but it was enough.

On the following Thursday, after the close of the business day, Mr. Dawson, reading over some routine memoranda submitted by the cashier, found his gaze arrested by a line that told of the deposit of $151,008 by “George K. Grinnell.” He sent for the cashier.

“What about this $151,000 deposit by George K. Grinnell?” he asked.

“He deposited an Assay Office check, the same as he did last week.”

The president frowned. He was puzzled.

“If he should happen to make any further deposits of this character, tell the receiving teller to say I should like to see him, please.”

“Very well, sir.”

The president turned to his desk again, and promptly forgot the incident—forgot it for exactly one week. On the following Thursday, shortly before noon, Williams, the assistant cashier—a short, stout man, with an oleaginous smile—approached his feared chief.

“Excuse me, Mr. Dawson,”—the assistant cashier’s habitual attitude before the president was one uninterrupted apology for existing at all—“Mr. Grinnell is here.”

“Grinnell? Grinnell?” mused the president, frowning.

“He has just deposited $250,000—an Assay Office check, the same as last Thursday. You said if he should——”

“Yes, yes, I know,” said Mr. Dawson sharply. “Tell him to be kind enough to come in.” He muttered to himself: “That makes half a million in gold in a fortnight. H’m!” When Mr. Dawson h’mmed to himself it meant business—usually, woe to the vanquished!

He rose to greet the h’m-compelling depositor.

“How do you do, Mr. Grinnell?” He smiled with a cordiality that was more than mere affability and extended his hand. The president’s grasp was firm. Wall Street said that his soul had been in cold storage some thirty thousand centuries before it came down to earth to animate the body of Richard Dawson. But Mr. Dawson, just as there are men who endeavour to seem honest by habitually looking you straight in the eyes, believed that strong pressure must indicate genuine friendliness in a hand clasp.

Mr. Grinnell smiled. There was not the faintest trace of hostility in the young man’s smile; but it was not a fatuous smile, nevertheless.

“The cashier said you——”

“Yes; I told him to ask you to be good enough to see me. I hope I am not inconveniencing you?”

“Not at all. But I fancy you are very busy.”

The president smiled in self-defence.

“Mr. Grinnell,” he said, with a sort of quizzical joviality, “you have been a source of some—I’ll own up”—with the amused smile of men when they confess to an essentially feminine sin—“curiosity. I tell you frankly that I’d very much like to know more about you—what you are doing, what you have done, what you intend to do. In the past fifteen days you have deposited with us a half-million in gold.” He again smiled; this time interrogatively.

“Mr. Dawson,” the young man answered, very seriously, though not in the slightest degree rebukingly, “really I can add nothing to what I told you when I first had the pleasure of seeing you. As I said then, I have not the slightest intention of disturbing the account, not to the extent of one cent, so far as I can see now. Indeed, you may safely assume that this money will remain untouched for an indefinite period. I’d rather keep the money here than in a safe-deposit vault. Still,” with a smile for the first time, “if you think I’d better transfer my account to the Eastern National, or the Marshall National, to save you further——”

“Oh, my dear Mr. Grinnell!” in a tone that conveyed to a nicety his shock at being misunderstood, “I merely wished to learn more about you from a natural business curiosity. We certainly are satisfied if you are.”

“Well,” Grinnell said, smiling again, “I am twenty-nine years old, single, an orphan, a graduate of the School of Mines. I live with my sister at 193 West 38th Street, and I believe in a republican form of government under a Democratic administration.”

“My dear Mr. Grinnell,” said the president, with a look of regret to hide his annoyance, “pray do not imagine for an instant that I had any desire to pry into your personal affairs. You know, we like to take an interest in our depositors, just as we wish our depositors to take an interest in us. Your bank president should be your business father confessor. The time may come when we may be of use to you. I shall be glad to give you my best advice, should you ever care for it. And, Mr. Grinnell,” with a smile, paternal to the last eighth, “I am a month or two older than you. I have had some experience in many lines of business,” excepting that of Mr. George K. Grinnell, who did not accept the subtle invitation to confide. Then, with a final smile, putting his hand on the young man’s shoulder: “As for your account, Mr. Grinnell, may it continue to grow! We can stand it if you can.”

“I am glad to hear that; very glad indeed, I may take you at your word. Being young, I am, of course, very wise, Mr. Dawson. But I have hopes of getting over it. When my account becomes really respectable, I, doubtless, shall be more than glad to avail myself of your advice. I shall value it highly.”

“It is yours at any time, Mr. Grinnell,” said the president, shaking hands. He did not show any surprise at the intimation of greater deposits in the future. It was as well that he did not. On Thursday of the following week, Mr. George K. Grinnell deposited an Assay Office check for $500,000 lacking a few cents. It made a million of gold bullion which the young man had sold to the United States Assay Office, and of which he had deposited the proceeds in the Metropolitan National Bank. The president did not forget the incident when the cashier sent in a memorandum, but promptly summoned the official.

“Mr. Grinnell has become quite a depositor, I see,” he said.

“Every Thursday he comes with an Assay Office—”

“Yes, I know. It seems to be a habit with, him. If he should come in next Thursday, or at any time, let me know at once. Don’t ask him to come into my office, but let me know he is here, at once. Has he drawn any checks on us?”

“No, sir; not one.”

“If he does, let me see it.”

“It is—er—rather curious,” ventured the cashier.

“Not at all,” said Mr. Dawson curtly. The cashier left him without another word.

The advent of the strange depositor was curiously awaited by the tellers to whom the cashier had spoken. The cashier himself offered to bet his assistant that Grinnell would not deposit more than $500,000. The fat assistant decided to lose a five-dollar hat to his superior, and then to ask that same superior for an increase in salary. He bet that Grinnell would deposit a million.

“You see,” he said, with a look of intense astuteness, that his device of intentionally losing the bet might not be too obvious, “he deposited first a hundred thousand, then a hundred and fifty; then two-fifty; then he doubled and deposited five hundred thousand. I think he will double again and deposit a million.”

“Millions don’t grow on bushes. I’ll take the bet,” remarked the cashier stingingly. His subordinate covered a chuckle of success by a woeful smile of self-depreciation. But his exultation over the increase in salary to follow the artistic loss of a five-dollar hat did not endure long. Grover, one of the receiving tellers, on Thursday hastily sent him word that Mr. Grinnell had deposited $1,000,000, and was being delayed at the teller’s window on a pretext of attending to some clerical detail. The assistant cashier straightway walked into the president’s room.

“Mr. Grinnell is outside, sir. He has just deposited one million.”

“Very well, Mr. Williams.”

The president walked out of his private office, through the corridor, into the main office of the bank. On one side there was a long, marble counter, surmounted by a bronze railing, having windows barred like those of a jail, behind which were imprisoned the tellers and the clerks; on the other, the plain walls, with the long panels of polished marble, and the high, little upright desks over the steam radiators at which the customers made out the deposit slips or signed checks. It was not unlike a church, this temple of Mammon, known in Wall Street as “Fort Dawson.” It had a look of austerity that impressed people. The clink of gold was aristocratically inaudible; the clerks habitually spoke in whispers, and outsiders felt this and lowered their voices instinctively. A bank which tolerated boisterous humour would not have been quite safe enough. This one repelled levity, and attracted deposits; it had nearly $150,000,000 of other people’s money. Great was Dawson and his golden fort!

The president walked, hatless, through the corridor as though he were going to another department and met, quite accidentally, Mr. George K. Grinnell, who happened to be there.

“How do you do, Mr. Grinnell? I’m glad to see you,” he said cordially. There was no pretence about his cordiality; the man had on deposit two millions. But it was not this particular man’s deposit which caused the busy clerks to make mistakes in adding their rows of figures; they were accustomed to the fluctuating, semi-fictitious millions of the great stock-gamblers. It was that Mr. Dawson should be so cordial to any man.

“I am very well, thanks,” said the young man. “So are you, I can see.”

“You have good eyes. Well, what have you done now?” asked the president playfully.

“Deposited a little more.” It was said calmly, not with theatrical nonchalance.

“How much?” The president, naturally, was asking for information he could not be expected to have.

“A million this time.”

The president put his hand chummily on his customer’s shoulder. “Young man,” he said, in mock seriousness, “when will this nefarious work cease?”

“I’ll stop when you tell me you’d rather I went to some other bank,” answered Grinnell, smiling.

The president shook his head as if in despair.

“You are incorrigible. Well, come early and often. Drop in on me whenever you feel like it; glad to see you at any time.”

“Thanks, Mr. Dawson,” he nodded, smilingly, but Mr. Dawson felt non-committally. Mr. Dawson thereupon became serious-He could not help it, try as he might. He drew the self-possessed young man aside.

“My dear Mr. Grinnell, it is a great deal of money to have idle and, naturally, it is impossible for me to think it businesslike. If you contemplate employing it in the near future, of course, it alters matters. But, if we are to allow you interest on it, why—”

“Mr. Dawson, pardon me for interrupting you. As I said to you before, I have not the slightest intention of disturbing this account for some time to come. I am not bothering about investments. They can wait. And I am willing to waive the interest. This may be unbusinesslike, but I am engaged in—ah—other matters, of greater importance.”

“Yes?” with an inviting inflection.

“Yes; I am in love.”

Both laughed. Then the discomfited president said jovially: “I don’t blame you, then. Love before business, by all means.” And with a final warm hand-shake, he passed on. But he resented what he considered the jocular evasion of the young man.

On the following Thursday, Mr. George K. Grinnell deposited two and a half millions—an Assay Office check in payment of gold bars weighing 120,543 ounces three pennyweights.

The president was disturbed. It was one thing to mystify the Street, and quite another to be himself mystified. He did not love such mysteries. They might be dangerous if left unsolved. He sent for the bank’s chief detective, a man of much experience and ingenuity; really a confidential agent.

“Costello, on Thursday there will probably come to deposit some money with us a young man by the name of George K. Grinnell. He lives uptown somewhere. Ask Mr. Williams for his address. Learn all you can about him. Stay here all day Thursday. I’ll come out and talk to him. Report at once whatever you may learn.”

“Yes, sir. For the preliminary work I’ll put John Croll on the case. Then I’ll take it up myself. Have you any reason to suspect anything wrong, sir?”

“I have no reason to suspect anything. I wish to know who and what he is, what he does, and, especially, you must watch the Assay Office. He deposits large amounts of gold there. I want to know where that gold comes from. Find out all you can from the Assay Office people. See the truckman. Probably it comes from some mine. He brought me a letter from Professor Willetts, of the Columbia School of Mines. Say nothing to any one of this.”

“Very well, sir.”

Thursday came. A stock operator, famous for his keen reading of conditions, which came from his possession of a marvellous imagination combined with logical reasoning power, walked into the bank, and was impressed by the vaguely uneasy something in the air. He at once called on his friend, and occasional accomplice, Dawson. The president assured him that he had no news; wherefore, the imaginative plunger reasoned: “If it were good news he’d let me know, because it would help him to have me know it. The news, whatever it is, must be bad,” and left the bank hurriedly. A few minutes later the stock-market became very weak—the suspicious gambler was selling stocks to be on the safe side. But the president paid no attention to the whirring ticker in the corner. He was waiting for the arrival of Mr. George K. Grinnell. At one o’clock the president was angry. At two o’clock the clerks began to call the bets off; they had a pool on the amount Grinnell would deposit. At half after two Mr. Grinnell walked in, wrote out his deposit slip very deliberately, and presented it, with a check and his passbook, at the receiving-teller’s window.

“You are late to-day, Mr. Grinnell,” incautiously said the teller.

“Oh, you expected me?”

Grover was made uncomfortable. “You see, Mr. Grinnell, you’ve been coming here on Thursdays so regularly that we’ve—” He stopped abruptly as he looked at the slip, and the Assay Office check for five millions of dollars. He credited the amount on the pass-book very slowly.

Mr. Dawson came out of his private office. One of the clerks, who had been stationed at the door, had notified him of Mr. Grinnell’s arrival.

“How do you do?” said the president cheerfully. “You are a little late to-day.”

“So the teller was just saying.”

The president was annoyed, exceedingly, that Grinnell should have learned that his arrival had been expected; but he explained smilingly: “Well, you have been so punctual on Thursdays that, I fancy, we’ve grown rather into the habit of looking for you. What have you done to us to-day?”

“Five!” There was a curious suggestion of defiance in the young man’s tone.

“Five millions?” incredulously.

“Yes.” Grinnell looked at Mr. Dawson calmly.

“Well, Mr. Grinnell—” The president paused.

“Well, Mr. Dawson?” returned the young man.

“Really, really,” said Dawson, more excited than any of the clerks remembered ever to have seen him, “this is most extraordinary. It’s—most extraordinary! Won’t you please come into my office a moment?”

“With pleasure, Mr. Dawson.”

They faced each other by the president’s desk. Dawson did not know how to begin. Perceiving that the silence was becoming embarrassing, he said: “Kindly be seated, Mr. Grinnell,” and himself sat down. In some curious way, no sooner was he in his chair than he felt calm, self-possessed. It was his throne. There, seated, he heard the speeches of men as from a height. Mostly he had heard suppliants for his mercy or for his favour. It had given him, through the sense of mastery, a great confidence in himself. It returned to him as he leaned back in the chair.

“Let us speak with perfect frankness. You have now on deposit in this bank—”

“I’ll tell you exactly,” said Grinnell, consulting his pass-book. He added the figures with the tip of a lead-pencil. “Exactly $9,537,805.69.”

He looked at the president. Mr. Dawson bowed his head, as though thanking him for the information. There was a pause. Then the president went on, slowly: “That is a great deal of money, Mr. Grinnell, to have deposited in less than two months. It is more ready cash, with one, or possibly two exceptions, than any individual has on deposit in any one bank in the United States.”

“Indeed?” There was genuine astonishment in the young man’s voice. Dawson felt it unmistakably.


“But there are so many very rich men.”

“Yes; but their riches are not in the shape of hard cash at the bank. The interest on that sum at the current rate is more than a thousand dollars a day. It is what makes your case so remarkable—a young man, unknown in the business world, the possessor of a vast fortune in gold. It is bound to excite extraordinary interest.”

“Then I am glad,” said Grinnell, almost apologetically, “that I did not deposit more.”

“What?” He was startled out of his bank presidentness, and stared at the young man with quite human amazement.

“Yes, sir. I was thinking that I would bring in ten millions next Thursday.”


“Good Heavens!”

“You see,” explained the young man, very earnestly, “I thought that since this was the bank with the greatest deposits, after I had, as it were, accustomed you to this sort of business, it would be less noticeable than if I went elsewhere.”

Mr. Dawson rose.

“This cannot go on. I must know where this gold comes from!” He glared at the young man menacingly. His face had grown pale. Grinnell rose deliberately. He looked at the president so seriously as to produce the impression of a frown, though there was none on his face.

“Mr. Dawson,” he said, in a voice that betrayed displeasure, “as I told you before, I have no intention of disturbing this account. As far as I can see, it will remain here indefinitely. I do not ask you to allow me interest. Should I change my mind, I will give you ample notice. If you wish me to relieve you of this burden, which you appear to regard as excessive, I beg that you will say so, and I shall go elsewhere. I bring this money here because I feel it will be safe. My private affairs, I am sure, can be of no interest to any one. You have but to say the word and we part—the best of friends.”

The president drew in a deep breath.

“I beg a thousand pardons,” he said with an attempt, not over-successful, at contrition. “You may forgive me, but I never shall forgive myself. But are you sure, Mr. Grin-nell, that you can tell me nothing of your—er—fortune? Remember, I have no desire to pry into your private affairs.” He had a way of being polite, as though his very thoughts were punctilious. Wall Street distrusted his self-possession. People who have others completely in their power, and are self-possessed, are too dangerous for comfort.

“Well, Mr. Dawson, the fortune happens to be one of them,” said the young man.

“So, you see, I can only regret that I cannot answer you.”

“I will not press you, Mr. Grinnell. Ah! of course, I would hold in the strictest confidence anything you might see fit to tell me.” He smiled. His smile, often, was that of a diplomat at a reception. His attitudes, the absence of nervous gestures, the poise of his head, all bespoke self-control. But he could not always control his eyes. When he was not sure of his expression he half closed his eyelids, and spoke very gently.

Grinnell shook his head. The president, at a loss for words, held out his hand.

“You’ve forgiven me?” said Grinnell smiling, as in relief.

“Mr. Grinnell,” with a mournful shake of the head, “that is unkind of you.”

“Oh, but I mean it! Good-afternoon, Mr. Dawson.”

The president escorted the young man to the door.

“Good-afternoon, Mr. Grinnell. By the way, are we to expect you again soon?”

“Next week, if I live,” and with a final smile that gave his serious face the indeterminately youthful look of people who have a keen sense of humour, Mr. Grinnell left the Metropolitan National Bank, faithfully “shadowed” by Mr. John Croll, formerly one of Pinkerton’s “star” men and general sleuth.

Croll reported daily to his chief, Edward Costello, who in turn submitted a written report to Mr. Dawson. The young man had gone straight to his house, 193 West 38th Street, a four-story-and-basement brown-stone front, purchased by George K. Grinnell on March 8, 1899, from Mary C. Bryan, widow of Mitchell J. Bryan. He had staid indoors all day. In the evening went out for a walk, accompanied by a fox terrier, and returned at ten o’clock. On the following morning at 8:30, accompanied by the same dog, took a long walk in Central Park; returned at ten. Did not leave the house until five o’clock, when he went to the office of Dr. Coster, the well-known eye-specialist. Returned to his house and took the customary walk in the evening. He lived with his sister, very quietly, according to the domestics of the neighbouring houses. They paid no social calls and received none while under observation. The household supplies were purchased from shops in the vicinity, and paid for always in gold. On Monday, at 10 a. m., two heavy trucks owned by William Watson drove to the house and took each a load of bullion bars, painted black to disguise their nature, and weighing about two hundred and fifty pounds each, which the men brought out through the basement entrance, and carried to the Assay Office. Mr. Grinnell drove in a public hansom behind them, accompanied by a powerfully built man-servant, who lived in Mr. Grinnell’s house. A second trip was made. The daily movements of Mr. and Miss Grinnell, of the two women servants and the body-guard then were given in detail. They revealed absolutely nothing. On Thursdays, it had been learned, Mr. Grinnell went to the Assay Office, shortly after midday, and received a check for the gold bullion deposited on the previous Monday. The clerks there had been requested by Mr. Grinnell not to give any information, but Mr. Grinnell’s name—an undecipherable signature—appeared several times on the register of certificates for the payment of bullion deposits. By crediting him with various amounts instead of one lump sum, no comment was excited, nor had the interest of the newspaper reporters been aroused. But they said at the Assay Office it could not go on unnoticed very much longer, unless Mr. Grinnell took bars instead of checks for his gold. They thought it an unusual case; but the employees of the Federal Government are not supposed to have any imagination during business hours. It is against the rules.

On Thursday Mr. Grinnell sent in his card to Mr. Dawson before calling on the receiving teller. He was admitted at once.

“Good-morning, Mr. Dawson. I have brought you—” he took two bits of paper from his pocket-book, fingered them uncertainly, and finally returned one to his pocket. He went on: “Ten millions.”

“Is that all to-day?” The president not only was not nonplussed, but actually smiled.

He was a great man. Even his enemies acknowledged it.

“That’s all. You see, I’ve been depositing a little every week in the Eastern National Bank. But I’ve decided to increase it to a million a week, and I wanted to ask you if the Dry Goods National also is to be trusted.”

“Great Heavens, man! When are you going to stop? Where is the mine? Can’t I buy stock in it?” The president spoke jocularly. He had, on hearing the young man’s words, determined to solve the mystery if it took fifty thousand dollars. It had ceased to be merely a mystery. It had become a menace. This made him calm.

“I don’t own a share of mining stock. Do you think mines are good investments?” But the young man asked this altogether too innocently.

Your mine would be.” The president gazed fixedly at the spectacled eyes. Grin-nell hesitated.

“I’ll deposit this, then,” he said. “Good-morning.”

But Mr. Dawson, thinking of disturbing possibilities, did not answer. The young man with his deposits of nineteen and one-half millions—and more to come—troubled the president. With that much cash, Grinnell already was a potential disturber of finance. With much more he could be infinitely worse—to the public and to the great moneyed interests. He could call suddenly upon the bank for his entire account, some day when money was tight, and stock pools needed it as a man’s lungs need air, as a man’s heart needs blood; and the stock-market would be convulsed, and guiltless millionaires suffer. Or, he could mistakenly lend it at such low rates of interest as would “break” the money-market, and help fools or gamblers, but grievously reduce the bank’s profits. Or, he could so misuse it as to foil some stock-market plan of Mr. Dawson’s, or of his associates. There was no limit to the possibilities of mischief from an unknown but even greater supply. Money is a commodity, governed, like all other commodities, by certain conditions. Fancy a man who suddenly announces—and proves it conclusively—that he has an unknown number of millions of bushels of excellent wheat; imagine the effect not only on unfortunate bull gamblers on the Board of Trade, but also on thousands of hard-working farmers. But the young man’s case was far worse. It was not alone his possession of much money; it was his having the gold itself! Money is only money, but gold is more: it is the measure of value. To disturb that was to disturb finance, commerce, and industry. The working-world would cease to labour, cease to breathe. In what would a millionaire’s affluence or a labourer’s poverty be measured; in what would men buy and sell, pay and be paid, if the young man’s supply of gold should be so great as to disturb the value-measure of civilized people? No world-disaster in all history could compare with this!

Dawson’s mind, keen, imaginative, was made feverishly active by the stimulus of fear. Clearly, there was but one thing to do—important, urgent, vital!—to learn all about the young man, and the source and extent of his gold; to make him an ally; to share in that wealth; and, in the meantime, to reduce to a negligible minimum the possibilities for mischief against the bank which that young man and that wealth had created.

The last check for ten millions would not go through the Clearing House but, in order to arouse no suspicions as to the unusually heavy Treasury operations with the New York banks, Mr. Dawson would send the check to the Sub-Treasury and get gold certificates. The amount would be put in as a special deposit. It would not appear in the regular bank statistics, and would be locked up in the vaults, which would keep, for publication, the reserve down and money rates up—a favourite practice of this king manipulator of the money-market—as well as strengthen the bank against Mr. Grinnell, should the young man suddenly decide to withdraw several millions at once. He attended to this and other business details and then sent for Costello.

“I must have the full history of Mr. Grinnell. Don’t come to me without it. It is of the utmost importance. Go to work at once. I’ll see Professor Willetts myself. Drop everything else. Spare no expense and use any means. Understand? Report at once anything you may discover, however trivial.”

Costello was impressed. He had worked, in his life, on cases involving enormous sums, ingenious swindles, thefts and defalcations which had never appeared in the newspapers, the unprintable side of vast financial deals. But never before had he been dazed, as now, by the suppressed excitement of the man, steel-nerved and ice-hearted, who presided over the destinies of the greatest bank of America, of a power so vast that it was scarcely second to that of the Government of the United States.

The bank’s detective staff, the existence of which was unsuspected by the world at large, was marvellously well organized. Mr. Costello’s reports were lengthy. Summarized, they told the president something like this:

George K. Grinnell was under the strictest surveillance, his daily movements being given in detail in the reports of John Croll and William F. Kearney; but they afforded not the slightest clue to the young man’s business. His daily walks in Central Park with his fox terrier—once with his sister—helped the investigation no more than the fact that he spent most of his time indoors. The furniture of the first floor of the house was described at great length by Mr. Kearney who, in the guise of a book agent, memorized it (Report D). Mr. Grinnell had three servants—one man and two maids. Every delivery wagon, and every person that had called at 193 West 38th Street had been shadowed—they were all tradespeople. One wagon was from Wilkins & Cross, the dealers in chemical and laboratory supplies. The driver, John C. Plummer, who was interviewed by Kearney and then by Costello, vouchsafed the information that Mr. Grinnell had a chemical laboratory, and for years had purchased supplies from the firm. Lately the supplies had consisted chiefly of crucibles, charcoal, coke, bone-ash, litharge, adds and other articles used by assayers and refiners. Plummer was promised $250 for a complete transcript of Mr. Grinnell’s purchases from Wilkins & Cross from the first, which he agreed to obtain, and was now at work on. The biographical data, obtained from divers sources, most ingeniously, showed that George Kitchell Grinnell was born in Middletown, New York, on January 1, 1873. His father was Frederick Hobart Grinnell, a druggist, who died in 1898. His mother died in 1889. He had one sister, two and one-half years younger; name Ada. The father left property valued at about $40,000, chiefly real estate in Middletown, New York. So far as friends of the family knew, it was all the property owned by George Kitchell Grinnell and his sister. The rents were collected and remitted to New York by Frederick Kitchell Carpenter, attorney-at-law, a first cousin of Grinnell. By Middle-town people, George K. Grinnell was believed to be an analytical chemist in New York, with a fairly lucrative practice. Grinnell entered the School of Mines, Columbia University, 1891; was graduated in 1895 with the degree of Bachelor of Metallurgy. According to his professors he was a good, but not exceptional student. But had improved with age, one of them said, and was very well up on radium—perhaps better than any one else in America excepting the professor himself. Was popular among his fellow-students, according to some of his classmates; was president of his class in his junior year; was an editor of the Columbia Spectator two years. After leaving college, spent a year in Middletown, in his father’s pharmacy. In October, 1896, came to New York City. Was employed as assayer in the laboratory of Bangs & Wilson, 35 John Street. Left there the following year to return to Middletown, his father being ill. Was considered a competent and careful assayer and analytical chemist. A fellow employee and he were interested in an electrical furnace. But no patent had ever been taken out in either of their names. Remained in Middletown until after his father’s death. In 1898 came back to New York. Lived at Mrs. Scott’s boarding-house, 169 West 48th Street. Purchased the house, 193 West 38th Street, in March, 1899, from Mary C. Bryan. His sister came from Middletown in the fall of 1899. They had lived there quietly ever since. On Monday two trucks—the same he had employed for some weeks—came twice and took bars of gold bullion to the Assay Office. He had deposited to date gold valued at $36,807,988. He had accounts, also, at the Agricultural National and Eastern National Banks, but there nothing was known of his business. His deposits at all these banks had been in the shape of Assay Office checks, and also in Assay Office bars, which made the bank people think he was a mining man.

Professor Willetts could not tell Dawson much. He knew Grinnell as he had known hundreds of other students. He had never heard that Grinnell was wealthy, certainly not wealthy enough to be a worthless student. He remembered having recommended Grinnell to Bangs & Wilson as a good as-sayer. The young man’s graduating thesis had been on electro-metallurgy. He was a pleasant enough chap. The president, on hearing Willetts’s words, felt it wise to say nothing of Grinnell’s enormous gold supply. The less people talked about it the better it might be for the bank, if things did not go right afterward.

On Thursday, shortly after midday, Mr. Grinnell sent in his card to the president. Mr. Dawson greeted him at the door. “Come in, Mr. Grinnell.”

“How do you do, Mr. Dawson?”

“I am worried, Mr. Grinnell. Very much worried.” The president looked it. He always made it a practice of looking the way he said he felt. This time he did not have to act.

“Indeed? I’m very sorry to hear it,” answered Grinnell—with a very good simulation of concern, the president thought.

“You will be sorrier to hear, Mr. Grinnell, that you are the cause of my worry.”

“I?” The astonishment was not so great as a sort of uneasiness, which did not escape the older man.

“Yes, Mr. Grinnell, you. Have you deposited any more—”

“Oh! I can withdraw it, if you don’t care to have it.”

“How much?”

“The same as last week.” Grinnell said it diffidently, uncomfortably, as if he felt guilty of taking undue advantage of the president’s kindness.

“Ten millions?” Mr. Dawson gasped slightly.

“Ye-es, sir,” doubtfully. He evidently would have denied it if he could.

The president took a cigar and contemplated it a long time. A boy entered with a card. The president said sharply: “I can’t see any one.” He threw the unlit cigar on the desk.

The office-boy hesitated; then, with a pale face, said, “It’s Mr. Graves.”

“I’m not in, hang it!” shouted Mr. Dawson, whose voice, habitually, was so carefully modulated. “Go away!”

He arose and walked up and down the room. From time to time he snapped his fingers with a sharp sound. Grinnell looked on uncomfortably. At length Mr. Dawson ceased his walk, picked up his cigar, inserted it, very deliberately, into an amber cigar-holder, and lighted it. He faced the young man and said with composure: “That makes thirty millions of gold in two months.”

“Twenty-nine and a half,” corrected Grinnell, as if in self-defence.

“In round numbers, thirty millions. You have, also, on deposit in other banks, some six or seven more.”

“I—I think,” said Grinnell dubiously, “that it is less than seven. Let me see,” eagerly, as if anxious to show that he was not so black as Mr. Dawson would paint him. “It’s—it’s—”

The president waited.

“It is about seven,” confessed Grinnell regretfully..

“Mr. Grinnell, I don’t know whether you are familiar with finance.” The president spoke quietly, twirling his cigar-holder, and looking at the ashes critically.

“Not very,” hastily apologized the young man.

“You will pardon me for telling you that through ignorance of the responsibilities of your position you can inflict serious injury to the entire business community—injury, Mr. Grinnell, which, reduced to dollars and cents, might be many times thirty millions.”

“I think,” said Grinnell, a trifle dubiously, “that I can see ways in which vast sums of money would do harm if wrongly used.”

Unwisely used, Mr. Grinnell. And now, in view of this, I should be grateful to you from the bottom of my heart, if you could enlighten me as to how this gold came into your possession.” He looked at the young man anxiously.

“Mr. Dawson,” Grinnell answered, with a determined earnestness, “that is something I must refuse to discuss. I am sorry.”

“Not so sorry as I. But I’d be even more grateful if I could know how much more gold if any, you have, not on deposit with any bank.”

“At this moment?”


“Well, I can’t tell, exactly.”


“Really, I don’t know, Mr. Dawson. I may as well tell you frankly that this subject—”

“Is of great importance to me, sir, as the president of this bank.”

“By withdrawing the account, then, I—”

“You would not help the situation which you have created, Mr. Grinnell. Have you much more gold?”

The young man looked straight into the president’s eyes. He said: “If it will relieve your mind, I can assure you that I have not much more.”

“Everything is relative. What do you consider much?”

“What do you?”

“Say, twenty or thirty millions more.”

“Oh, no! I haven’t thirty millions more.”

“Have you twenty?” persisted the president.

“Twenty?” The young man thought a moment. “No, I haven’t.”


“I’ll tell you what I’ll do, Mr. Dawson,” the young man said, as if jumping at a decision, “I’ll deposit fifteen millions more in this bank and then I’ll stop. It will give me forty-five millions, and I’ll never bother you again; unless,” he added, almost pleadingly, “you let me.”

The president stared electrically.

“You mean,” he said sharply, “that you can get more?”

“You asked me how much more I had at present and I told you.”

“I beg your pardon; you didn’t tell me exactly. I should have asked how much more in all you expect to have.”

“Mr. Dawson,” ignoring the president’s last words, “it seems to me that if I scatter the deposits among other banks in the city, I can’t do much harm. In fact,” he added, brightly, as if at a new idea, “I could open accounts with banks in Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston, St. Louis, and other cities, where they would not be noticeable. And even in Europe. You could transfer some of the funds I have here to the big cities there, and then I could deposit an equal amount here, so that my account with you would never be above forty-five or fifty millions, and—”

“My God, man! Don’t you know that—” Dawson checked himself abruptly. He went on very quietly. “Am I to understand that your supply is not exhausted?”

“I won’t deposit any more of it here,” said Grinnell conciliatingly.

“How much more is there in the mine?”

“There is no mine,” answered Grinnell. The president felt he spoke the truth.

“Do you make it, then?”

Grinnell laughed. “That would be funny, if you thought I made it.” The condition of the president’s nerves was responsible for the wild thought that lodged in his mind.

“You are a chemist, a metallurgist? And you have studied the phenomena of radium?”

“Yes.” Grinnell looked surprised, but not exactly guilty, the president admitted to himself.

“Have you discovered a method for changing other metals into gold, or for extracting it out of sea-water?”

Grinnell laughed again. “I am glad,” he said, “that you are not worried now.”

“Oh, but I am!”

“Mr. Dawson,” said the young man, once more serious, “I am not such a very rich man as rich men go to-day. You, yourself, if what I read in the newspapers is true, have more than I.”

“I wish I did.”

“So do I. You probably would know how to deposit your money properly. At any rate, I can name a dozen men who have over fifty millions, and—”

“I doubt it.”

“And half a dozen who own over a hundred. The Waldorf family certainly do. Mr. Angus Campbell, of Pittsburg, is said to have three hundred. Your friend, Mr. William Mellen, of the International Distributing Syndicate, is supposed to have five hundred at least. Why should a fortune of even a billion dollars raise a rumpus these days? It was inconceivable a few years ago, but it does not seem out of the way now. I realize perfectly how the sudden increase in the gold supply of this country could produce an inflation that might, in the end, prove highly detrimental to general business. As I understand it, certain financial laws cannot be disturbed with impunity, however praiseworthy the financial law-breaker’s motives may be. But a billion dollars would not make such an awful lot, especially if it should be turned into circulation gradually.”

“It would mean an increase per capita of forty per cent. It would be terrific,” said the president earnestly. “Your argument is utterly unsound unless by ‘gradually’ you mean fifty years.”

“I certainly don’t mean any such thing. Supposing new and enormously rich goldfields were discovered, would that upset the financial equilibrium of the world?”

“It is conceivable that it could easily do so.”

“I think that the world would adjust itself to the new conditions very quickly. Just now, the South African mines are not producing. Suppose that a new source of supply should yield one to two hundred millions a year? Or, five hundred, if it were distributed among all the civilized countries? I’d be the last man to make gold as cheap as pig-iron, I can assure you. But—”

The president’s face was livid. Dark rings had appeared, as by a stage trick, suddenly under his eyes. Wrinkles showed about his nostrils, like those seen in invalids after prolonged pain.

“Mr. Dawson, are you ill?” asked Grin-nell anxiously.

“No, no,” said the president, with a pale smile. “Your views are—er—I mean no offence, Mr. Grinnell, but they show that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.”

“I have been studying this matter for some weeks, Mr. Dawson,” Grinnell said, with a complacency that almost made the president shudder. There was no telling what the young man might not do in his ignorance.

“Pray proceed,” said Mr. Dawson, with an effort.

“As I was saying, I have been depositing gradually—”

“Thirty-seven millions in two months!”

“I have not yet enough money to be classed among the really rich men in this country. But I am young,” with a smile that set a-shivering the gold-enwrapped soul of Mr. Richard Dawson. “I am keenly alive, I think, to the obligations of really great wealth, and I trust to do as much good in the world as I can. I mean to be a very rich man, Mr. Dawson. Of course, I could live comfortably on the income of forty or fifty millions; but I am going to do more than live comfortably. Man owes certain duties to his fellow-men which are neglected too often. Why,” enthusiastically, “the possession of unlimited wealth in worthy hands would mean the realization of the beautiful dreams of those unselfish men whom you, doubtless, call Utopians, and Socialists, and visionaries. They are the men who believe that mankind, at heart, is good. They are the men who will revolutionize the world!”

“Revolutions mean disaster,” said Mr. Dawson half angrily.

“Possibly disaster to a few individuals at first, but, in the end, happiness to the community,” said the young man, with an inspired air.

“It is a question whether the price paid would not be disproportionate to the good obtained.” Mr. Dawson spoke as though he would dissuade the young man, but not too strongly, for fear his words might intensify obstinacy. It was, unwittingly, a subtle admission that he thought the young man did not lack the power to make his dream an actual catastrophe.

“Whatever means the greatest good to the greatest number is necessarily good,” retorted Grinnell, in a tone that permitted no contradiction. “A revolution, Mr. Dawson, is achieved by three things: By time, which is too slow; by blood, which is revolting; and by gold, Mr. Dawson, BY GOLD!

The young man was looking sternly at Mr. Dawson, who stared back so fixedly as to be painful. On the president’s brow appeared a microscopic dew; you would have said his brain was shedding tears of agony. He had visioned, not the revolution of mankind, but his own ruin!

“Mr. Grinnell,” he said, with a curious, little indrawn gasp, “I can only pray you to go slow. Don’t let your enthusiasm lead you to precipitate an appalling crisis. You can do all the good you wish if you consider carefully all sides of the question. But, as you value the welfare of humanity, go slow, Mr. Grinnell. In God’s name, go slow.”

“Oh, yes!” said Grinnell. “I’m in no hurry. We will discuss these matters from time to time. In the meanwhile,” he took from his pocket-book another check—the same as he had taken out and replaced at the beginning of the interview—“I’ll deposit this additional five and one-half millions, making thirty-five in all, and—”

“Tell me, Mr. Grinnell,” interrupted Mr. Dawson, with a calmness unpleasantly suggestive of desperation, “is your secret known to others?”

“Which secret?”

“The source of your gold?” The intensity of Mr. Dawson’s gaze had in it something ominous.

“No one knows.”

“Ah!” The president drew in his breath sharply. He paused, growing visibly calm, the while.

“If anything happened to you?” he said. He meant his voice to show solicitude. It betrayed merely a strange and not kindly curiosity.

“My sister would know,” answered the young man. “I’ve provided for that, of course. She would continue my plans, with which she is in sympathy, though she does not know the extent of my resources.”


“If I died suddenly, either from natural causes or as the result of some accident or violence, she would devote her life to carrying out my plans. She is really a remarkable woman. If she too should die suddenly, Mr. Dawson,” looking unflinchingly at the bank president, “my secret and my history would be given to the world. It would make interesting reading; particularly to financiers, Mr. Dawson. I have written full instructions. The average man could not be trusted with such an opportunity to become enormously wealthy, but I have a friend who is above the temptation of sudden riches, who would be my literary executor”—with a faint smile, as at the hidden humour of the phrase—“He is a real socialist. He’d give you trouble, Mr. Dawson. And if he dies, there are three others who would then know the means by which I came to be one of your depositors.”

“And your deposits?”

“If I died before I carried out my plans, what need to worry about this gold? If my sister died, she wouldn’t care what became of it either. I fear, Mr. Dawson,” he finished, very slowly, “that the gold we left behind us would do neither good nor harm to the world.” The president sat down.

“Yours is a remarkable story, Mr. Grin-nell, which I am compelled to believe. I must see you again.”

“Next Thursday?” with a smile.

“Very well. I thank you for your confidence. I beg that you will not speak of your affairs to any one.”

“I’m not likely to. I didn’t expect, when I came here, to tell you as much as I have. Good-morning, Mr. Dawson,” and he walked briskly out of the office.

The president gulped, as though swallowing a dry and obdurate morsel.

“We are undone!” he muttered.

He rose and stood by his desk, supporting himself as though the office floor were unstable and staring unseeingly at a painting on the wall—the portrait of his predecessor. He nodded toward the portrait and muttered drunkenly: “Absolutely at the mercy of one man!”

He nodded again. Then he said to the portrait: “I must see Mellen!”

He blinked his eyes as at a strong light. Of a sudden he pulled himself together, put on his hat, and hastily left the room.

He walked quickly up Wall Street to Broadway, turned southward, and entered the huge home of the International Distributing Syndicate.

“Eighth floor!” he said to the elevator man. The sound of his own voice, husky almost to inaudibleness, startled him.

“Eighth floor,” he repeated, very distinctly.

Walking straight to a door at the end of the hall, marked “Private,” he entered. The burly man at the gate of a railing said: “Good-morning, Mr. Dawson,” and obsequiously opened the gate. But Mr. Dawson made no reply; whereat the burly man wondered, for Mr. Dawson was a polite man.

The president passed, unchallenged, through two rooms, in which clerks worked at desks, and finally confronted the head of the syndicate, who sat at a flat desk. Before him was a sheet on which he had been making calculations with a lead-pencil.

“How do you do, Richard?” said the richest man in the world. He was a middle-aged man, quiet-spoken, brown-eyed; a face quietly alert rather than over-shrewd. His head was curiously shapen, broad above the ears and tapering slightly, though noticeably, at the top. Phrenologists spoke delightedly of the abnormal development of his bump of acquisitiveness, because they knew who he was; and of the absence of the other bumps, for the same irrefutable reason. But the very shape of it conveyed an impression of an unusual brain within it, though, perhaps, people who did not know who he was might not have been so susceptible to the impression. Great leaders seldom look like their imagined portraits.

“William,” said the president of the Metropolitan National Bank, “we are confronted by the greatest crisis in the history of the world!”

Consternation appeared on the face of the richest man in the world, as though it had been flashed upon it by a stereopticon. It was not pleasant to see. His photograph, taken at that moment, would have impressed a stranger as being that of an amateur actor, inartistically expressing dismay—it was so exaggeratedly frightened.

“What has happened, Richard?” he asked tremulously, rising from his chair.

“William,” answered Mr. Dawson, as though he expected unbelief: “listen calmly. Ruin stares us in the face—you, and me, and everybody!”


“What have you done?” cried the richest man in the world.

“Listen. Calm yourself.”

“Are you—ill?”

“Oh, I’m not crazy! If I were, I’d tell you that a man is manufacturing gold at this very minute. And yet, that is what I think.”

“What is the matter, Richard?” There was merely impatience now, in Mr. Mellen’s voice.

“There is a man who has discovered an inexhaustible supply of gold. He will not stop until he has a billion dollars. He is a Socialist—”

“What are you saying?”

“William, the man already has on deposit at the bank thirty-five millions, and he’s been only two months at it. He has at least seven millions on deposit at other banks in this city. We must do something,” and Mr. Richard Dawson told his friend and associate the entire story of Mr. George K. Grin-nell. The richest man in the world listened with his very soul. There was danger of his being no longer the richest man in the world.

“And now,” finished Dawson, “we must think, William. What are we to do?”

“It can’t be true!” frowned Mellen. Then into his eyes came a frightened look. It passed and he said: “Absurd! It can’t be true.”

“It is true. The gold comes from his house, his laboratory.”

“It’s some trick, a plot.” The richest man in the world had imagination, and was partial to schemes. “We must prevent him from going too far,” as though that were the first thing to do before satisfying a merely personal curiosity.

“How?” The president was growing calm. If he was ruined, so was the rest of the world. He did not care for the rest of the world, but the thought braced him.

“Some legal action—”

“Out of the question. There is no ground. Besides, the less publicity the better, William, we are in his power. But nobody knows it, not even he. Therein lies our safety. In the meanwhile we must—” He paused.


“It is, obviously, the only step we can take.” There was no one else, in the room, but Mr. Dawson drew near and whispered into his friend’s ear. His friend nodded from time to time.

“That,” said Mellen quietly, with a sort of convictionless acquiescence, as Dawson concluded, “we must not do until we are certain that he can swamp the world with gold!” He picked up the sheet full of lead-pencilled figures and began to tear it into small bits.

“Confound him!” said the president angrily.

“Yes, Richard,” agreed Mellen, with at air that had a suggestion of conscious guilt. He never swore. It was a sin. He was the richest man in the world.


On Thursday—the president, a keen psychologist, to reassure the richest man in the world, had jocularly called it Consternation Day—Mr. William Mellen and Mr. Richard Dawson entered the bank. They had ridden from Mr. Mellen’s house in Mr. Mellen’s brougham. They had discussed Mr. Grinnell at great and painful length many times in that week. In the carriage, on the way downtown, they had talked of nothing else. The president was certain that the mystery no longer was a mystery. The burden of his argument had become that a condition, not a theory, confronted them. The time for idle speculation had passed. It behooved them to act. The lingering indecision of Mr. Mellen did not come from inability to change his lifetime’s plans in the twinkling of an eye, but from unwillingness to accept at second-hand the inevitableness of something unspeakably disagreeable. All great business generals are opportunists. But at times the greatest minds work femininely.

“The question of whether he makes his gold or not, or how he gets it, now has merely an academic interest, William. The thing is, that he has the gold.” Dawson said it in a playfully exaggerated pedagogical air, yet ready to become deadly earnest in a twinkling.

“I don’t see it,” said Mellen seriously. “We must find the explanation. What he can do, we can do.”

“We have tried.”

“We must succeed.”

“Your coachman says to himself: ‘If Mr. Mellen has made five hundred millions of dollars in thirty years, what he can do, I can do. Do you see him doing it? I tell you the man has the gold. He isn’t trying to sell us any secret. All he asks is to be let alone. That is the alarming thing.

“It must be a mine. Where else could so much gold come from?” Mellen’s thoughts were on the source of the gold.

“My dear William, we can account for every ounce of gold produced in the world. There is no mine capable of producing such a quantity secretly.”

“He may have hoarded it; accumulated it for months.”

“If a mine produced a thousand ounces a month We’d know it; and Grinnell has deposited in our bank and others, as far as I have been able to trace, at the rate of a million ounces a month. He is too young to have hoarded it for years. He has no accomplices. That is certain. He visits nobody, but stays home. His father did not leave it to him. He has not unearthed any secret treasure, and, moreover, there never was or could be a hidden treasure of such magnitude. Why, his gold must weigh something like seventy-five tons! Nobody could have given it to him, for nobody had it to give except our bank or the Commercial, and we certainly didn’t. The Assay Office say Grinnel’s is not quite like any of the other bullion that goes to the Assay Office. Its only impurity is a little platinum, and it isn’t always present. We know, within a negligible quantity, where almost every ounce of gold in the world is, and who holds it. There is not a bank or a bullion dealer anywhere whose supply is not known, approximately, to us. It’s my business to know. There’s no mystery about that. The mystery is Grinnell’s gold supply. He cannot store vast quantities in his house. Our men have been in every room in it. Costello, disguised as a driver from the dealers from whom Grinnell buys his chemical supplies, says there is no place for vaults. The only alterations made in the house since Grinnell bought it, that he can see, were to transform the basement into a metallurgical laboratory. We can say almost certainly that the gold is melted in his electric furnace. But all that we know positively is this: NOTHING GOES IN, AND GOLD COMES OUT! Grinnell is making it, I tell you.” The president turned to his morning mail. Mellen stopped him.

“But that is impossible. You know it is.”

“It is a scientific impossibility; but it is also an actual fact. Maybe it isn’t gold at all. But the Assay Office and chemists who have analysed samples I secured from the Assay Office say it is. Where can he get it? Not from a mine outside of New York, for we could easily trace it, no matter how long ago it came. Not from a mine in Thirty-eighth Street, or we’d know it. Not from sea-water. I even had the street torn up in front of Grin-nell’s house under pretence of fixing the gas-main. He can’t get it from the air. The whole thing is impossible. That’s why I’m afraid.”

“If he makes it he must make it out of something,’’ said Mellen controversially.

“Wilkins & Gross, the chemical people, say that last year Grinnell bought large quantities of iridium, osmium, ruthenium, and other metals of the platinum group. They understood that he had been experimenting with an electrical furnace. Costello saw a gas-engine and a dynamo in the laboratory, and a lot of electrical apparatus. That’s his specialty, it seems. And the Columbia people say he is quite an authority on radium. I tell you the man makes it; at least, to all intents and purposes he does. Perhaps it’s radium rays applied to some base metal in some way which he has discovered accidentally. Wait till you see him,” and Mr. Dawson began composedly to rip the edges of the envelopes with a long, sharp paper-cutter.

The richest man in the world walked up and down the office. Once his lips moved. Dawson, who happened to look up from his work at that very moment, asked him: “What did you say, William?”

“The government would be justified in stopping him.”

“If the world knew the secret of making gold what would be gained? He has us in his power. No sense to blind your eyes to it.”

The face of the richest man in the world flushed. He said, with an impressive, because calm, determination: “He must be stopped!” He paused. Looking at his friend steadily, he repeated, very quietly—too quietly: “At any cost!”

“If we can stop him by fair words, all right. No use to try anything else. He has provided against everything!”

The richest man in the world stared at his friend; his head was bent forward as if to listen better. At Dawson’s last words he resumed his pacing. The pattern of the big Oriental rug consisted of ornate squares surrounded by a profusion of arabesques. Mel-len, his gaze fixed on the rug, stepped on alternate squares as he walked up and down the room. The president began to read his mail. From time to time he looked up and saw the richest man in the world striding up and down the room, carefully stepping on alternate squares in the rug.

An office-boy entered.

“Mr. Grinnell is here, sir,” he announced.

The richest man in the world halted abruptly and waited, his eyes on the door.

“Show him in at once. Ah, good-morning, Mr. Grinnell.” The president rose and walked toward the young man with outstretched hand.

“Good-morning, Mr. Dawson,” said Grinnell cheerfully. He became aware of Mr. Mellen, who was staring at him unblinkingly, and hesitated.

“Mr. Grinnell, let me introduce my friend, Mr. William Mellen.”

“How do you do, Mr. Mellen?” said Grinnell. Mr. Mellen shook hands and Grinnell gazed attentively at the richest man in the world. After a slight pause, he added deprecatingly, as if to explain his scrutiny; “I have read so much about you, Mr. Mellen. I hope you will pardon my rudeness.”

“I am very glad to meet you, Mr. Grinnell. I have heard a great deal about you, lately.” Mellen said this almost impatiently. He was a man whose business soul was dark and tortuous, like his methods. His speech was habitually non-committal, and he had won more battles and more millions by patience than by aggression. But now he was eager to plunge into a cross-examination of the young man before him. Yet, he looked ill at ease. Perhaps he feared to find that Dawson was not mistaken in his wild surmises.

“Yes,” put in the bank president, with an ingratiating smile at the young man, “I have taken the liberty of speaking to Mr. Mellen about you.” A slight frown appeared on Grinnell’s face. The president hastened to add: “He is the only soul on earth to whom I have spoken. You see, Mr. Grinnell, I was very anxious to bring you two together. Yours is an extraordinary case; and Mr. Mellen is not only a director of this bank, but I consider him, as a business man and financier, one of the—”

“Never mind all that, Dawson,” interrupted Mellen, with a curious mixture of habitual smoothness and an unwonted sharpness, as if deprecating flattery, and at the same time resenting the president’s apologetic attitude. “Mr. Grinnell, I am sure you must realize that you have created a condition which may become of national importance, since it contains a dire menace to this country’s business.” He assumed, toward the end of his speech, or his voice and manner did, that Mr. Grinnell and he were in accord on that point.

Grinnell looked distinctly surprised. When he spoke, both his hearers felt absolutely assured that he wished to gain time, to plan a defence.

“I certainly do not realize anything of the kind, Mr. Mellen.”

“Then, sir, it is high time you did,” returned Mellen. His face was composed, but in the composure there was menace. Mr.

Dawson made haste to offset the effect which he feared Mr. Mellen’s words might have on Mr. George K. Grinnell. He said, with flattering deference; “As I explained to you, Mr. Grinnell, the money-market is a delicate piece of mechanism. Unusual shocks produce unusual disturbances; and all disturbances are highly detrimental to business.” He smiled deprecatingly but forgivingly: the money-market was a pampered child; no need to be too harsh.

“Yes, I know that. But what unusual shock have I given to the delicate mechanism of the money-market?” Grinnell’s effort to conceal his annoyance was apparent to the two capitalists.

“You have not yet, sir; but what assurance have I, have all business men, that you will not?” The richest man in the world asked this with a frown, as if Mr. Grinnell had not met him half-way and might as well now throw off his mask and reveal himself frankly, as the criminal disturber of the world’s business peace, to be dealt with accordingly.

“Assurance that I will not? Why should I disturb the money-market? The money-market does not disturb me.” Grinnell said it not at all jocularly, but very calmly, as if he meant it literally.

“But you will disturb it if you keep on,” said Mellen, drumming with his finger-tips on the top of the president’s desk. He perceived this and ceased with an abruptness that betokened remorse over the absence of self-control. He was an introspective man.

“There is nothing unusual going on, is there? No stringency anywhere; in fact, I gather from the newspapers that money rates are very low,” Grinnell went on.

“Your deposits are, in some measure, responsible for it,” said Dawson, with a placating smile.

“I am glad of it,” said the young man simply. “It is a good thing that people should be able to borrow money cheaply, isn’t it?”

“Not too cheaply.” Mr. Dawson shook his head and smiled, as at a favourite son who is in error, but is young.

“Oh, I know what you mean. It isn’t profitable for the banks with money to lend; it makes the supply greater than the demand, and you get lower interest rates on your loans; and then it is apt to be a sign that business is slack, and people have no need to borrow. But just now, unless all the newspapers lie, business is quite active in all lines and—” Grinnell’s speech savoured slightly of the pedagogical, like a school-boy enunciating obvious truths, but using his teacher’s professional solemnity.

“That is not the point,” interrupted the richest man in the world.

“What is the point, then?” asked Grin-nell, with an air of forgiving Mellen’s impoliteness.

“Do you propose to flood the world with gold?” Mr. Mellen’s voice rang out rather unpleasantly.

“That,” said the young man slowly, “is a very remarkable question, Mr. Mellen.”

“Mr. Grinnell”—Mr. Dawson spoke with a half-jocular voice—“I have told Mr. Mellen of your extraordinary deposits, and he naturally wishes to know if you are ever going to stop.”

“Yes, Mr. Dawson, I am going to stop at once. I shall transfer my account to another bank. Will you be good enough to—”

“No, no, no! You misunderstand me.”

“Mr. Dawson, I have told you several times that if the fact that I was one of your depositors disturbed you, you could rid yourself of your suffering by telling me to seek some other bank. The reason why I selected this one was because it was the richest and, I supposed, the most ably managed in the country. Nothing but the fear of arousing a curiosity I could not gratify made me deposit my gold gradually. If a man deposited fifty or a hundred millions at once, and everybody knew it, he could not live in peace in this country. The sensational newspapers would hound him to death. You know what my views are, and that I hope to do some good to my fellow-men in this world. But I see that I was mistaken in my assumption that I could deposit some of my funds with you. To prevent further—”

“Mr. Grinnell, I beg that you will not close your account with us. Your money is yours to do with as you see fit; but don’t withdraw it because of a misunderstanding. We are very glad indeed to have your account. But really, my dear Mr. Grinnell, you must see how natural it is that we should wish to know, not so much the source of your gold, but the quantity controlled by you.”

“And the source too,” said the richest man in the world, in a tone that showed there should be no argument about a purely family matter. “Where does it come from?”

“Mr. Dawson,” said Grinnell, distinctly ignoring Mellen, “Mr. Mellen is one of your largest depositors, is he not?”

“Yes; he—”

“Do you insist upon his telling you where he gets the money that he deposits here?”

“Mr. Grinnell——”

“Is my gold any different from his gold? Is an Assay Office check not as good as an International Distributing Syndicate check? I don’t mean ethically, but financially.”

Mr. Mellen flushed. Mr. Dawson said with the dignity of suppressed anger: “It is not that; but if gold is to become as cheap as pig-iron——”

“Why should it?” interrupted Grinnell idly. “Does Mr. Mellen intend to give all his money to the poor?”

“This is——” began Mellen, in a rebuking voice.

“Mr. Grinnell,” said the president, still with much dignity, “we have no desire to pry into your private affairs. But great wealth means great responsibilities, and what is permissible to a pauper is not permissible to you. You must admit that there is no limit to the harm that can be done from a too rapid increase in the gold supply of the world.”

“I realize that. You agreed with me that an increase of one hundred millions a year, in addition to the normal output of the mines now in operation, was not excessive. Since I saw you I have carefully studied the matter”—Grinnell’s voice and manner showed profound conviction—“and I have come to the conclusion that the world could not only stand two hundred and fifty millions more than it is now getting, but be all the better for it. That is only a billion more in four years. Four years is a long time.” He looked pensive—as if he were thinking how very long that would be.

Mr. Mellen started. He opened his mouth as if to speak, but Grinnell went on quickly: “Tell me, Mr. Dawson, is it not true that the expansion in business all over during the past few years, while it has been followed by a great expansion in bank credits, has not been followed by a proportionate increase in the supply of actual cash? That being the case, why couldn’t it be possible to add two hundred and fifty millions a year without disturbing business, by distributing one hundred millions among banks in Germany, France, and England, and scattering one hundred and fifty millions among banks in various sections of the United States?”

“Do you propose to do this?” Mr. Dawson was looking at the young man with an intentness which he could not help tinge-ing with anxiety.

“That isn’t the question,” said Grinnell, a trifle impatiently, as if unwilling to lose the thread of his argument. “Do you deny that such a thing could be done?”

“Yes, I do! It would mean wild inflation; it would lead to a world panic!” said Mellen, not altogether composedly.

“Do you think so, Mr. Dawson?” Grin-nell persistently ignored Mr. Mellen.

“I think,” replied the president, nervously, “that $250,000,000 in gold a year more than the world is now getting would be too much. Without definite knowledge of the source and limit of the new supply, sentiment would become so alarmed that it would mean a disastrous panic, probably the worst in the history of humanity, since there would be the keenest apprehension over the possibility of gold being demonetized. An inexhaustible supply of gold could lead to nothing else; and then—God help us all!” The president was so impressed by his own words that his face grew livid. Mr. Mellen was breathing quickly.

“Who said anything about an inexhaustible supply of gold?” said Grinnell angrily. “I, of all people, do not wish gold to be demonetized. What would my gold be worth if that happened?”

“Precisely; that’s why we wish you to confide in us,” said Dawson, with a very friendly smile.

“But I still believe,” said Grinnell doggedly, “that two hundred and fifty millions a year would not do harm. I have made up my mind on that point, and I will not change it. Mr. Dawson, you have asked me several questions. Now, let me ask you one: Do you, or do you not, wish me to make any additional deposits in this bank?”

“Certainly I wish you to if you do.”

“Very well.” The young man took from his pocket-book a package of slips. He read one after another—the bank president could see that they were Assay Office checks—and finally selected one. He said, “Here is a check for eleven millions two hundred thousand,” and returned the others—there were at least eight—to his pocket-book. “I shall deposit this.”

Mellen walked over to the desk and took the slip from Mr. Dawson’s hand with a calm authoritativeness, as though the bank president were his clerk, which, indeed, was what Wall Street thought, though erroneously. Then he turned to Grinnell.

“What assurance will you give that you will do nothing to ruin us? If the world knew your secret it would mean ruin for all, absolute ruin!” The sound of that word, uttered by himself, seemed to shake Mellen’s composure. He glared at the young man.

“Mr. Mellen,” said Grinnell, very quietly, “you are an older man than I. I shall try not to forget it.’”

“I must know! At once! Do you hear me?” said Mr. Mellen loudly. It was not exactly anger which burned in his eyes, but a sort of overgrown petulance at being baffled. There was an obstacle; it might be insurmountable. The uncertainty was in itself a check. An invincible pugilist had been knocked down for the first time in his career as champion.

“William!” said Mr. Dawson, approaching his friend; “you are excited.” Then to the young man, apologetically: “He has been under a severe strain for some time past.”

The richest man in the world grew composed as by magic. For the first time that day he became his normal self. He had crushed all opposition to his Syndicate twenty years before by the exercise of stupendous will-power. For a decade he had not been called upon to weigh his words or his actions. Through disuse the qualities that had made him the richest man in the world had atrophied. But now he was again the William Mellen his competitors had feared.

“Mr. Grinnell,” he said, with a politeness that was not excessive, “I apologize. I beg that you will forgive the nerves of a man who, as you say, is much older than you, and has many more troubles.”

“Have you thought of any investment yet, Mr. Grinnell?” interposed Mr. Dawson. It was to change the conversation. At the same time the answer would be interesting, possibly valuable. Mr. Mellen sat down and listened attentively.

“No, I have decided to wait until my deposits at the various banks are larger.”

“How much do you propose to deposit with us?”

“Oh,” said Grinnell, with a smile full of an ingratiatory humour, “if you are still frightened I’ll only deposit a million a week. I suppose I ought to start a bank of my own.” Mr. Dawson and Mellen exchanged quick glances, unperceived by the young man, since the young man continued to smile, almost boyishly.

“Yes; you must not dream that you can produce two hundred and fifty millions a year,” said Mr. Mellen, ignoring the last bomb, about the bank. “That would not do at all.”

“I think it would. Even at that rate it would take a man some time to catch up with your fortune, Mr. Mellen.”

“It isn’t a question of my fortune, Mr. Grinnell,” Mellen said in a kindly voice, “but of the fortunes of all the world; yours as well.”

“I have no objections to seeing my fortune many times larger than it is, I assure you.”

“Neither have we, provided you take your time about it, said Mr. Dawson earnestly.

“I know I am young, but there are many things I wish to do before I die. Life is uncertain.”

“Yes, it is. And if you died?” asked Mellen. He leaned forward slightly as he spoke, his eyes on the young man’s.

“My sister would do what she could.”

“And if she dies?”

AFTER US,” said the young man, “THE DELUGE!


A deluge of gold; a deluge of ruin, devastation, and misery! financial anarchy; commercial chaos! thought the richest man in the world. He leaned back in his chair and breathed a bit quickly.

“Mr. Grinnell,” said Mr. Dawson, “your fortune already makes you independent. But I think Mr. Mellen will join with me in saying that if you care to consider a working alliance with us, commercial or financial, we should be glad to have your co-operation.”

Mr. Mellen was again leaning forward, almost as if ready to shake hands with his dear friend and comrade, Grinnell, to whom he would be as a father whose love made him over-indulgent.

“Mr. Dawson, you will realize how little of a business man I am when I tell you that I desire to stand alone. If it were a question of doubling a fortune of ten or fifteen millions I suppose I’d be only too glad. But I must work out my salvation unaided. You will grant that the possession of such money as I have deposited in this bank may conceivably kill the desire for more, unless it is to be used in carrying out plans nearer to the heart than mere physical comforts. There are many things I’d like to do which, with my present capital, I am not yet able to do. So I’ll choose those that I can and let the others wait. For example, do you deny that, if a man had two or three hundred millions of dollars and started a bank with that capital he could solve many problems of vital importance to the community?”

“I see great possibilities for evil—appalling possibilities for harm,” said Mr. Mel-len, with impressive solemnity.

“Infinite possibilities for good also, Mr. Mellen,” said the young man, a trifle sternly. “A bank designed, not so much to pay big dividends to its stockholders, but to protect the public and to help business men and the entire community in time of distress. An income of a quarter of a million a year is sufficient to gratify the most luxurious tastes of any man. It’s much more than enough for me. The rest might be devoted to the good of humanity.”

“Is that one of your plans?” asked Mr. Dawson very quietly.

“Not at present. I realize that more is required than merely honest motives. I may have the will to do good as the president of such a bank, but I lack the ability and experience to conduct it. I am content to see Mr. Dawson,” with a pleasant smile, “at the head of the richest bank in America.”

“Thank you, Mr. Grinnell,” returned Mr. Dawson, with the cordiality of immense relief. “What are your plans, then?”

“My first plan is to make more—ah—to make arrangements to deposit more gold.”

“You were going to say ‘make more’ something—when you stopped,” said Mel-len, with a sort of nonchalant curiosity. At least, that is what he meant it to look like.

“I was going to say,” answered the young man, very quickly, “make more deposits.”

“I thought,” said Mellen with a smile, though his eyes were serious, “that you were going to say ‘make more gold,’” He was speaking in the quiet, self-possessed way that had so impressed the Congressional Committee which had “investigated” his Syndicate’s business and its violation of the law, because it so resembled the self-possession of an utterly honest man to whom there had never come a thought of the possibility of a doubt of the righteousness of his every action. It made logical the impression that the richest man in the world believed himself the instrument of Providence.

The young man laughed. “That would be dreadful. We’d be in a terrible fix if we had to re-create the science of chemistry. It would mean a scientific panic, a slump in the molecular theory market.” He laughed again as if pleased at the application of Wall Street phraseology to chemical science.

“Don’t you make it?” persisted Mellen; his voice had an insinuating quality, as though he were inviting spiritual confidences. He was not a persuasive man, but he often looked so much as though he had persuaded himself, that it had the effect of persuasion—on stubborn and misguided competitors.

Grinnell looked at the richest man in the world seriously. “It is perfectly astonishing,” he said, musingly, “how many people still believe in alchemy. That comes from the tommy-rot they read in the Sunday newspapers about scientific discoveries.”

“You haven’t answered my question.” Mellen’s persistence was not offensive. He might have been a Sunday-school teacher trying to make a shy boy tell how good he was.

“Mr. Mellen, the chemical laboratory which you built for the Lakeside University is the finest in the country. Professor Ogden is one of our foremost scientists. Ask him if it is possible for any living man to make gold.”

“I’d rather ask you if you make it?” The voice was still of the Sunday-school, and Grinnell the favourite but shy scholar.

“If you insist upon asking such questions I insist upon refusing to answer them. If I did make it, would I tell you? You’d tell everybody.”

“Indeed not!” exclaimed Mellen eagerly.

He could not help it. He was almost human.

“Well, Mr. Dawson,” turning to the president, “I’ll deposit these eleven millions.”

“You have more gold with you?” asked Mr. Dawson.

The young man felt in his vest pockets, ostentatiously, one after another. Then he shook his head and said: “No.”

Mr. Dawson smiled to hide his anger. “I meant Assay Office checks,” he explained.

“I’m going,” confessed Grinnell, “to make some deposits with the Eastern, Agricultural, and Marshall National banks. But the Metropolitan,” he added with a pleasant smile, “is my first love. Good-morning, gentlemen.” He turned to go.

“Mr. Grinnell, one moment, please. I should like to ask a favour. I think you are depositing too much. Ten millions a week means five hundred millions a year.”

“So it does. But I thought——” He checked himself; and then went on: “What is the favour you were about to ask?”

“Could you abstain from depositing any more gold in any bank for, say a month or two?”

The young man’s eyes were thoughtful for a moment.

“Well, I have some gold I must deposit, as I have no facilities at present for storage, save in bank vaults. You see, I had not figured upon—well, one does not always think carefully enough in advance of what he is going to do, and he finds himself confronted by conditions he had not reckoned on. How was I to tell I couldn’t deposit even fifty millions without disturbing you? I fear I must deposit a little more. In fact, I can’t stop, even if I wish to. But I’ll think over what you have said.”

“Have you much more on hand?”

“Quite a chunk of it!”

“How much?” asked Dawson. The richest man was leaning forward again, his eyes fixed on the young man because the young man was not looking at him.

“I don’t know. I haven’t weighed it,” answered Grinnell.

“You are commencing to disturb the money-market. People have begun to wonder where the gold is coming from. The newspapers will take it up. You will find the financial reviews already speaking about it. It is lucky a lot of Klondike gold has been coming to New York lately. But unless you let up, there will be glaring headlines, and then—”

“The newspapers must not take it up,” said Mellen, almost tenderly. “That must be seen to, Richard. It must be stopped at any cost.” The president nodded.

The young man was thinking. He turned a perplexed face to Dawson.

“How long must I stop depositing my gold?”

“It isn’t so much a question of stopping as of reducing the amounts deposited.”

“I can’t reduce them. I must deposit several millions a week or stop altogether. My arrangements are peculiar because—” he paused; then went on quickly, with a smile as if pleased at being able to cease to flounder—“because I don’t like half-way measures. But I think I can stop for a month.” He thought for a moment. Somehow Mr. Mellen felt as if the young man were speaking of a factory. “Yes,” finished Grinnell, “I can stop for a month, Mr. Dawson, out of regard for what you say.”

“Thank you. I appreciate it more than I can say.”

“Then say nothing. I’ll make another deposit in a day of two, and then I’ll give you a nice long rest. How does that please you, Mr. Dawson?”

“Very much. Only be sure to do the same by all the other banks.” Dawson tried to show gratitude, but the anxiety was uppermost.

“I will.”

Mr. Grinnell extended his hand. The president grasped it; his own was very cold—and very dry. Mr. Mellen was gazing intently at the arabesques in the rug at his feet. He did not answer when Grinnell said “Good-morning.”

As the door closed, Dawson rose and approached Mellen.

“William?” he said.

Mellen did not look up. Dawson laid his hand on his friend’s shoulder and repeated: “William!”

Mellen turned an expressionless face to the president.

“He makes it!” said Dawson.

“He makes it!” repeated the richest man in the world, hypnotically.

“Do you feel certain of it?” Dawson’s voice betrayed his eagerness to find comfort in Mellen’s assent.

Mellen’s mind awoke. “What’s that? Certain of what?” But he still looked blankly puzzled. It made the president uncomfortable. He repeated:

“That he is making gold.”

“It can’t be,” said the richest man in the world. “It can’t be. Of course not. And yet—” He paused. He clenched his hands; his lips were pressed tightly together. Into his eyes there came a straining look. Gradually the tense lines about his mouth relaxed. He murmured doubtfully: “But he might as well make it. Perhaps he does. He has the gold. He will have more.”

“I am sure of that,” agreed Dawson, not over-cordially, but still as if that were his firm conviction.

“We must find out more about him. Are we going to take his word for all he says? Even if he made it he must make it out of something. Where does the gold come from? How does it come?”

“It comes from his furnace. Costello all but saw it. He—”

“Why didn’t he see it?” interjected Mel-len, glaring at Dawson. “Why don’t you put a hundred men at work? Is that all you can learn about this man?”

Dawson had never before seen his financial backer display vehemence, ever so slightly, for the power of fabulous wealth had given an almost pious severity to Mellen. The years of golden invulnerability seemed to have rolled away from the richest man in the world, and left him an impatient youth, crossed in some cherished plan, exasperated, after long and soothing immunity from attack, at being forced into defenciveness. The president said to him, not servilely at all, but nevertheless with more than a suggestion of self-defence:

“We have done all that men could do. Grinnell had been at this work only eight or ten weeks, and he already has fifty millions in cash. It it were not for that you might call him a charlatan, a trickster of some sort. You believed what he said when he spoke of his plans; you did not think he was lying. You know men as well as I do. What impression did he produce on you? The gold comes out of his house. His servants won’t talk. I told Costello to offer them any price for information. But he was convinced it could not be done without Grinnell’s learning of it, and we don’t want him to know; or, how do we know what complications might follow? Costello doesn’t think they know anything, anyhow. The house is guarded day and night. Costello himself went into the cellar with a load of coal. There is no doubt that Grinnell takes no gold into the house, and that the gold comes out of the electrical furnace. He has fifty millions now, and he won’t rest until he has a billion. That is his minimum. And, in the meantime, if somebody learns his secret—”

“We must find out,” shouted the richest man in the world, shaking his fist wildly in the air. “A billion in gold. What will become—” He checked himself as he caught Dawson’s half-frightened look. He drew in a deep breath, and began to walk to and fro. At length he stopped by Dawson and said, more composedly: “Richard, I think as you do, yet it doesn’t seem right; but I can’t tell what is wrong. If he produces gold at will, and we knew how he did it, we’d still have to sell our bonds. It is better to prepare for the worst now. Begin at once. Sell those that are in my box, here. You have the list. Tell Thompson to bring you the list of those in the safety vault at the office.”

“Yes,” said Dawson, with less relief in his voice than might have been expected. “We’ll have to be very careful. The market won t—

“This is no time to think of eighths and quarters,” said Mellen with decision. “If we are right, of what use are our bonds? If we are making a mistake—” He hesitated. Doubt again showed in his face. Dawson hastened to speak:

“If we could be perfectly sure he’s not going to—”

Mellen’s doubts and convictions came and went like irregular pulse-beats—he had been disturbed to his very depths, and his mind did not work with its normal precision. He became calm again, and he spoke with quiet decision: “This young man means well. That is what makes him dangerous. He will flood the world with gold, and think he is doing good. Yes. Sell the bonds.”

“Very well,” Dawson sighed. It came easier to him to believe the worst; he had seen more of Grinnell. But he knew the bonds would have to be sold at grievous sacrifices.

“It’s the only thing we can do,” the richest man said, almost consolingly; he knew Dawson’s thoughts. “But,” he added, “you must keep on trying to find out where he gets the gold. Send Costello to me. And you must buy stocks.”

Bonds are payable, principal and interest, in gold coin of the present standard of weight and fineness. If Grinnel’s operations made gold as cheap as pig-iron, each $1,000-bond would be worth fifty ounces of iron, and no more. If some other metal took the place of gold, the corporations would take pains to be paid in the new coin, whatever that might be, and they would pay dividends on their stocks in the same. But the interest on bonds they must pay in gold. Bondholders would be ruined, and stockholders would profit by the others’ losses. All this Dawson and Mel-len had realized on their first interview; it was perfectly obvious. The president of the Metropolitan National Bank merely had wished the richest man in the world to be as certain of the existence of the Grinnell gold-factory as he himself had become, before selling bonds and buying stocks.

“Which stocks?” asked Dawson.

The richest man in the world did not answer. He was looking at Dawson, meditatively. At length, he said, musingly: “If he dies? And if his sister dies? ‘After us, the deluge.’ he said. The danger lies in that man’s secret becoming known. Yes. We have no time to lose.”

In winning his fabulous fortune, the richest man in the world had gambled stupendously. His stakes had been hundreds of fortunes, thousands of lives. But after the first hundred millions he always had gambled calmly—he had grown to think he was doing his duty, and that Providence, whose confidential servant he was, had dealt cards marked for his benefit. What had unnerved him was the sudden realization that his financial life hung by a thread. The armour in which thirty years of success had encased him had been broken. It had fallen from him. He had acted as he might have acted at the time when he was not the richest man in the world.

He went to the president’s desk and wrote out a long list—all stocks of steam and street railroads, gas companies, and industrial concerns. His writing was very even, and the letters were small, but the figures were very plain.

“It’s only a question of time,” he told Dawson, as he finished, “when Grinnell’s gold process will be known to the world.” He rose, and seeing the president’s serious look, he said, with an air of conscious jocularity (for he did not jest often, and when he did he had to announce it beforehand, with his face, that there might be no misunderstanding): “Cheer up, Richard. The worst is still to come!”


Wall STREET was suffering from its worst disease—dullness. The public—the only genuine octopus—did not find the menu printed on the ticker-tape at all appetizing. It was hard at work in its office, miles away from the Stock Exchange, out of hearing of the ticker, scanning the financial pages of the newspapers only on the street-cars to pass away an irksome half-hour. Months before, the fumes of the wine of gambling had gone to its head; and then the public had been made sober suddenly by the “shrinkage in quoted values,” otherwise the shearing. Since then the public had grown a new fleece, though it was not yet itself aware of it.

It was a delicate task, before the president of the Metropolitan National Bank. He was a resourceful stock-market manipulator, though he would have resented being called a thief not half so hotly as being called a speculator, because that sounded worse in a bank president. He desired the public to buy bonds; not necessarily at high prices, but at any prices. It was purely philanthropy on the face of it. That is why the task was delicate. You can disarm suspicion if you are bad, in Wall Street. But, if you are good, the hopelessness of it is appalling. Moreover, there was no time for finesse or subtle strategy or ingenious experiments with the elemental psychology of stock gamblers. The occasion called for broadly-painted effects.

The first thing he did was to offer bonds to savings-banks and trustees of estates all over New England and New York, at concessions too slight to arouse suspicion, but substantial enough to tempt purchasers. This through the best bond “drummers” in the land. Then he sought the Stock Exchange.

The bond-market, which had slumbered profoundly for months, suddenly awoke. Gilt-edged issues were pressed for sale, not violently at all, but insistently. They came from many sources, the Street thought, not knowing the full contents of the huge strong box of the richest man in the world. The fortunes of the ordinary multi-millionaires grow faster in the newspapers and in club-comers than in reality. This fortune was even greater than the gossip of it. Mellen spent time in making people look at his wealth through a reversed telescope, that it might be diminished in the public’s estimate. That is all he had ever done to diminish it, being a practical man.

The bond “specialists” felt faintly alarmed; then they became exultantly busy. It might be unwise to buy stocks the future market-career of which was problematical; but everybody knew what Pennsylvania Central first mortgage fives were. Not to buy them under 125 was to sin regrettably. The bonds sold at 122. To abstain from purchasing them at 120 was lunacy. And at 115 passivity became a crime against one’s family. Many bought, but not enough; and because the supply was greater than the demand the price shrank further.

The Street held its breath and waited for stocks to follow. But, simultaneously with the sales of the best bonds of the best railways in the United States, came purchases of the stocks of the same railways, and though prices of bonds declined, stocks did not. The Street felt that to “trade” in such a market was like playing rouge-et-noir in an utterly dark room. What was the sense of betting on the black if the bettor could not tell, because of the darkness, whether his chips were on it or on the red?

The newspapers, being puzzled, printed dozens of columns and hundreds of explanations, all of them highly ingenious and uniformly incorrect. In his Monday morning article, Philip King, of The Sun, compared the bond-market to the old story of the great psychologist who, dressed as a pedlar, offered on a Broadway sidewalk to sell five-dollar gold-pieces, warranted genuine, to the passers-by at $3.98. Never a fool so foolish, in the passing thousands, as to shake hands with fortune on the psychologist’s coin-laden tray. Now they would not buy bonds.

Of the millions of dollars of bonds that were sold, some were registered in the name of William Mellen or Richard Dawson, or of known stool-pigeons—clerks in their offices, etc. This became known in the end, though Dawson delayed the inevitable as long as possible. Then, of course, the mystery was solved: The “Fort Dawson” crowd was selling bonds and buying stocks! The country was prosperous. There was no cloud in the financial sky. Obviously, the greatest capitalists in the United States were engineering a gigantic stock boom!

The Evening Scold, the greatest journalistic exponent of the Undoubted Wisdom of the Sneer, promptly filled itself with wrath and editorialized its feelings, as follows:

The abnormal increase in the cash resources of the New York banks during the past few weeks, was too good an opportunity for certain bank presidents and their pals to neglect. The banks are not in Wall Street to safeguard the interests and the cash of their depositors, but obviously to help the directors and their schemes. In this instance, the overgrown arrogance of the latest stock-market millionaires has degenerated into imbecility, induced by protracted success in their despoilment of the public. Fortunately, it should prove the undoing of the financial Condottieri, for the stupid public surely cannot be stupid enough to permit itself to be hypnotized into paying absurd prices for brazenly manipulated insecurities like Transcontinental Air Line or Great Southern Preferred, or into sacrificing gilt-edged bonds. Let the would-be buyer of stocks, and the would-be seller of bonds, beware!

But, after all, it was only the very wise—Messrs. Dawson and Mellen—who bought stocks. Only a few foolish lambs sold stocks at the high prices and bought bonds at the low! Also some of the alert-eyed men over whose office doors were foreign names ending in “stein,” and “baum,” and “berg,” and “mann.” The fools in their folly, and the shrewd in their shrewdness, were helping the richest man in the world, and the ablest bank president in the United States, during those stirring days in Wall Street—shivering days when a great crash in the stock-market was expected momentarily by so many that it did not come.

The expected never happens in Wall Street. It can’t afford to.

“How do we stand, Richard?” asked Mr. Mellen, as he walked into the president’s office.

“Almost there,” answered Dawson. “I have sold most of your semi-speculative issues, and we are working off the last better than I expected. You got the memorandum of stocks bought to-day?”

Mellen nodded. Then he walked to the busy ticker in the corner, and regarded the tape.

“The newspapers have warned the public against buying inflated stocks, or selling bonds at unreasonably low prices. A free press, Richard, is the best safeguard of the liberties of a nation. We should be grateful for this boon.” There was a trace of nervousness about his manner; but it was a nervousness as of relief rather than uneasiness.

Mr. Dawson laughed admiringly, and approached his friend.

“Yes. I’ve sold them impartially all over New England, here, and in London and Berlin. But the Governments—”

“Never mind those. The Government will make good, somehow. We’ll keep them to give us the right to agitate the matter later on. I am going to tell my brother George. I told him to come here to-day at—How do you do, George; I was just talking about you.”

George B. Mellen, who had entered, was a strongly-built man, white-haired and clean-shaven. His eyes were of a dean, turquoise blue, that contrasted pleasantly with the white of his eyebrows. He was the vice-president of the International Distributing Syndicate, and at least the sixth richest man in the world. He nodded to his brother, and shook hands with Dawson, who managed to convey the impression that he had risen in order to greet affectionately the new-comer. That having been done, the president returned to his desk.

“George,” said Mellen looking up from the ticker, “I’ve sold every bond I owned; or will have sold the last this afternoon.” He resumed his scrutiny of the tape, very calmly.

“Wh-a-at?” said his brother.

“No obligations payable in gold will be worth anything in a short time. There’s a man who has discovered the secret of making gold. And he’s making it.” He said it in an utterly unexcited voice.

“What are you talking about?” said George with an indecisive smile. His brother was bent over the glass dome of the ticker, and George, still smiling indecisively, looked at Dawson.

An office-boy entered with a note which he gave to the president. Dawson, as he saw the lad coming, instinctively picked up a dagger-like paper-cutter from his desk. But when he glanced at the handwriting, tore open the envelope with his fingers hurriedly, and read the slip it contained. He rose and gave the paper to William Mellen, saying: “That is the last of the bonds. They slaughtered prices, didn’t they? But,” with a jovially apologetic smile, “it was the best that could be done.”

Mellen read the memorandum of the bond sales and the prices received.

“Why, Richard,” he said it with a sort of polite regret that ended with a gentle sigh, “I should say they did slaughter them. It’s a loss of about two millions on this lot, from last week’s prices.” He shook his head several times as in sorrow over a fellow-Christian gone wrong: The stock-market had sinned. Then he studied the busy ticker once more.

“William, will you kindly explain this farce?” There was no sigh to George Mel-len’s voice as he asked this. His frown was deep.

“George, I’m not a fool, am I?” asked the richest man in the world, very earnestly. He must be patient. It was his duty; and duty should be everything to a man who, his friends thought, believed that the eyes of Providence were fixed unblinkingly on the centre of his soul.

“Just now, I should say—”

“Well, just now, I certainly am not one. I’ve sold out all my bonds and bought stocks. Yes, George. That,” gently, “is what I have done.”

“And I’ve done nothing all week but buy bonds and sell stocks!” George’s eyes took on a curious expression—the blue in them seemed to grow strangely darker as he half-closed his eyelids. Often the brothers disagreed. William was the abler. But George was the older; and he could not forget the days when he lorded it over his slender brother by physical might.

“You probably bought my bonds, and I bought your stocks,” said William, nodding as if solving a puzzle the solution of which called for no exultation. “I am sorry, George. But you must at once sell the bonds and buy stocks.”

“Explain, hang you; explain!” shouted George Mellen angrily.

“George, keep cool. Richard, will you kindly tell brother George all about Grin-nell?” He looked at the ticker with an exaggerated air of attention, to save further explanations.

George looked from his brother to the bank president, and back to his brother.

“William,” he said at length, quietly. William did not look up from the ticker. It made George Mellen angry and he said imperiously: “William, listen to me! There may be a good reason why you have sold out all your bonds. But there is none why you should not have told me before. Why didn’t you?”

“I never thought about it,” answered William simply. There was a mild astonishment on his face, as if at his own forgetfulness of his brother’s interest.

“You didn’t, either, Dawson, did you?” said George coldly.

“My dear George, I certainly thought William was selling for both of you. He always does, you know,” said Dawson.

“Oh, have it that way, George; have it that way if it will please you.” Then to Dawson: “Sell George’s bonds, lump results and strike an average,” said William Mellen resignedly. Then, with sudden irritation: “It’s a case of life and death, not of a few dollars.” He began to walk up and down the office, lost in thought. Mechanically he took a small pad from the elaborately carved mahogany table in the centre of the room, walked to an arm-chair by the farthest window, sat down and presently began to jot down figures with a lead-pencil, while Dawson told to George B. Mellen the story of Grinnell.

“But the thing is impossible,” said George angrily.

“Absolutely!” assented the bank president, almost amiably. “You are right, George.” He looked at George with a subtle felicitation in his eyes—at George’s intellect. “But,” he went on gently, “everything you think we’ve already thought. We didn’t go off at half-cock, George. It took facts to convince us. We know that the man can and probably will flood the world with gold. I have no doubt of it. Neither has William. Now, give me the list of your bonds and—”

“And I thought I was getting bargains,” said George Mellen bitterly. “I might have known William’s hand was in it. I thought people had gone crazy, and were being prepared for a grand boom, manufactured on the premises! I tell you,” he exploded suddenly, “there’s a trick somewhere!”

William Mellen looked up suddenly, and stared uncomprehendingly at his brother, his mind still on his figures and calculations.

“No,” went on George, “I don’t mean you. I mean in this Grinnell affair.”

“He has on deposit in this bank some forty millions, and about eight or ten more with other banks.”

“That’s the mystery,” said George musingly. His eyes, as he thought, took on a straining look, as you see near-sighted people look when they try, without their glasses, to read printed characters twenty feet distant, in an optician’s shop.

“I’d make haste, George,” interrupted William Mellen. “When you have sold out all your bonds I will tell you a plan. The world will be told of the Grinnell affair, and—”

“You mean?” said Dawson, with a quick start.

“After we have nothing to lose we have everything to gain.”

“But it will—” began Dawson excitedly.

“Don’t guess, Richard,” gently. “You don’t know the details of my plan.”

George knew his brother. He said grimly: “The public doesn’t love the International Distributing Syndicate; nor us.”

“They’ll love Grinnell less. We are his victims, too; don’t you see? That will comfort the public. Bloated bondholder will be a synonym for pauper. They’ll pity us.” He said this with gentle dolefulness.

“William, but our friends? They’ll be ruined,” said George Mellen doubtfully. He knew his brother.

“You can tell yours to sell out—after you have sold out, not before; and give no reasons to them, or—” His eyes, for the fraction of a second, were menacing; he did not finish the threat orally. George frowned; but he also checked the words that he would have uttered.

“You’ll have my list in fifteen minutes,” George told Dawson. “Willie will bring it over. Good-bye,” and without another look at either of the two men he left the room.

“George is—ah—” began Dawson, with a conciliatory smile.

“He always was,” interrupted William Mellen, not unpleasantly; “from his boyhood up.”

“The public will have more bargains in bonds,” said Dawson.

“Yes.” The richest man in the world smiled and went on musingly: “The public is very wise. It is selling out its stocks because they are too high, and buying bonds because they pay in gold. Now, my plan—”

Williams entered. The president frowned, and stabbed the assistant cashier through the heart with a stiletto made of a vocal icicle: “I am engaged, sir.”

“It’s—it’s Mr. Grinnell, sir. He insisted upon seeing you. And, I think, sir, you told me that if he—”

“Why didn’t you show him in at once?” The vocal stiletto was of steel, and white hot. The timorous assistant cashier left as though a stupendous draught of air had sucked him out of the room through the door. The president arose and greeted Grinnell.

“Walk in, Mr. Grinnell,” he said, and held out his hand.

“Good-morning, Mr. Dawson. How do you do, Mr. Mellen?” said Grinnell cheerfully. Mr. Mellen waved his hand in amicable salutation. It was the first time that ever Mr. Dawson had seen Mellen indulge in such jovial friendliness.

“Quite exciting times lately in Wall Street?” said Grinnell interrogatively, but obviously to make talk. “The people are going stock-mad. I suppose there will be a smash.”

“It is more than likely,” assented Mellen gravely. Had not Mr. Dawson been a bank president, with a professional lack of the sense of humour, he would have winked surreptitiously at his friend.

“Well, if it is only the stock gamblers who suffer, I won’t worry. But, possibly, small investors may become frightened by the decline in bonds and sell out. They would be foolish, of course. But I have sympathy for foolish people; a fellow-feeling, I suppose.” He smiled. Then, seriously: “Why, do you suppose, there’s been such a slump in bonds?”

“More sellers than buyers,” said Dawson, with a tentative grin.

“Ah!” The young man smiled at the timeworn Wall Street phrase; he had not heard it before. “But I think bonds are pretty cheap,” he persisted.

“They certainly look so,” assented Dawson.

“They certainly do,” echoed Mellen gravely.

“That means you are buying them,” said the young man with a sort of naive astuteness. Whereupon Dawson and Mellen congratulated themselves with glances. Grinnell went on: “I feel like doing the same thing. However, what I came to see you about is this: I promised not to deposit any more gold for a month in any bank in New York, didn’t I?”

“In the United States,” said Mellen quickly.

“I don’t think I promised that, but I’ll let it go at that. My promise certainly did not extend to banks in Europe.”

“As to Europe,” said Dawson with a shake of his head, “I took it for granted that—”

“Never mind Europe,” interrupted Mellen with a benevolent air. “Are you going to ship any gold across the ocean, Mr. Grin-nell?”

“I’ve suspended my gold operations entirely, as I promised. That is, I won’t ship any new gold. But you wouldn’t object to my drawing out some of the gold I have here and in other New York banks, I suppose?”

“Why—” began Dawson dubiously.

He could not tell what this new move meant.

“Certainly not,” said William Mellen decisively. He sided with Grinnell, of whom, Grinnell must see, he thought highly.

“Of course not,” echoed Dawson cordially, with an air of primal authority. To show it was his own decision, he added: “We should be delighted.”

“I may draw on you soon,” said Grinnell.

“We can sell you drafts on any part of Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, South America, and the Philippines,” Dawson told him, smiling.

“I’ll think it over,” Grinnell said seriously. “It won’t prevent me from depositing more gold when my time is up?”

“Not at all,” said Dawson jovially.

“How much will you deposit?” asked Mellen casually.

“Not much;” the young man smiled.

“No,” said Dawson, with playful sarcasm “not much; about a million a minute.”

“You’d object to a million a day,” Grin-nell shook his head dolefully.

“He would not object to that,” interjected the richest man in the world, “if he knew how many days you would keep it up.” There was no playfulness in his voice, though he tried to speak in an easy, conversational tone.

“Well,” began Grinnell doubtfully. He went on quickly: “Oh, yes, he’d object before the end of the first week. I know him.” He nodded toward the bank president with a boyishly mischievous air. Dawson tried to smile back; he said:

“I’m getting to know you, too. I am going to be more generous in the future.”

“Good!” said Grinnell; he would take the president at his word when his month was up. “Now, if I should want drafts on London and Paris in a day or two—”

“Mr. Williams will be at your service, at any time,” the president assured him, as though Mr. Grinnell were an ordinary depositor transacting ordinary business. “No notice is required in this bank,” with a curious suggestion of bravado. He pushed one of a row of electric buttons on his desk. The assistant cashier, his fat face distorted dismally into an anticipatory excuse, appeared.

“Mr. Williams, Mr. Grinnell may call on us for drafts on Europe. You will place yourself at his disposal, and give him your very best efforts at all times.”

“Certainly, sir,” said the assistant cashier, with a hasty deference. “Very glad to do what I can, Mr. Grinnell,” he said, in a grateful voice, to the young man.

“That is all,” said the president. The assistant cashier apologized facially, and left the room.

Grinnell rose to go. “Good-morning, Mr. Dawson. I’ll be around when my month is up.

“You are not doing time, Mr. Grinnell,” smiled the president.

“I feel like it. I don’t like idleness. Good-morning.”

He didn’t like idleness! He would resume the manufacture of gold! Given rope, the young man would hang himself and the bond-holding public. But Dawson now had no bonds. When the discovery came, the community would be convulsed. The bank was fortifying itself with legal tender notes. Gold would have but little value when the crash came. There were various points to study. In the entire affair there was but one danger. The president voiced it.

“William,” he said, “after the cat’s out of the bag, what’s to hinder Grinnell, out of pure philanthropy, from stopping his production of gold in order to avert a disastrous world panic?”

“I’ve thought of that,” answered the richest man in the world, with a calmness that came from previous meditation and settled conviction. “He’s quite likely to cease his operations in new gold, as he calls them. But not before there has been a crash, Richard. And we will then be his principal advisers. I feel he will keep on until the mischief is done. We are prepared now. And yet, somehow—” His face clouded with doubt.

George Mellen entered hurriedly. “Here, Richard, here are my bonds.” The president looked at the long list. “Those I’ve marked with a cross I’ve already ordered sold. Meighan & Cross, and W. A. Shaw & Co. are practically giving them away at this moment,” finished George Mellen, with a touch of bitterness.

William Mellen approached the ticker, and passed the tape through his fingers with a deftness that betrayed practice.

“I think you are right,” he said softly. “Green River general 4s, 87!”

“I should think the insurance companies—” began George Mellen.

“Richard has already sold them all they can take,” returned his brother kindly, as though he were anxious to please brother George.

“Also the savings-banks, and about three hundred estates,” added the president, with a slight touch of pride.

“I’m going to tell Freer, Morrison, Stuyvesant, and one or two others,” announced George Mellen with a trace of defiance. He anticipated opposition, but the richest man in the world said:

“I should tell them this much only: That for certain reasons you cannot divulge, you are selling out your bonds, and that I’ve already sold mine.”

“The last is unnecessary. They’d guess it without my telling them,” and George Mel-len left the room abruptly. Mr. Dawson began to write selling orders, copying the names of the bonds from the list before him. Then he summoned his trusty brokers and bond specialists, and gave them the orders, exhorting them to use caution; also much haste.

Under the new selling pressure the market acted crazily. The inexplicable declines in bond prices of that memorable week had brought into Wall Street deluded “bargain hunters,” who bought the securities at “ridiculously low figures,” but, values went still lower, until the bonds were so very cheap that they were dear—too dear for people to buy who did not know why they should be so cheap. Therefore, the speculators in bonds, who had bought, now sold at a loss, thereby adding to the general uncertainty. But as some sold, others bought, and quotations of gilt-edged issues, usually so staid and slow of movement, fluctuated as violently as, in other times, the manipulated and highly speculative stocks had been wont to do. On the whole, the public bought more bonds than it sold, and sold more stocks than it bought. Yet, bonds fell, and fell, and stocks rose and rose. And there still remained the pet investments of George B. Mellen’s intimate friends; men who, accustomed to risking much on the turn of the wheel of the ticker, yet kept a portion of their fortune safe beyond peradventure by buying bonds which were unassailable by demagogues and socialistic legislatures, unaffected by hard times or strikes, or crop failures; absolutely safe just so long as the United States remained a nation of Americans—or, until such time as aërial navigation supplanted steam railroads. Also, so long as the gold basis endured, and no longer!

Grinnell had stopped outside and spoken to the assistant cashier.

“I think I should like to have a sight draft on London for two million pounds sterling, Mr. Williams.”

The assistant cashier opened his mouth. Remembering what the president had said—and the tone of his voice—he closed it apologetically and, to excuse himself said, very quickly: “Certainly, Mr. Grinnell, certainly.” He busied himself with the expostulating head of the bank’s foreign exchange department. It was an extraordinary transaction, but the Metropolitan was an extraordinary bank, and Mr. Dawson was an extraordinary man when vexed.

He came back and asked: “Payable to whom, Mr. Grinnell?”

“To my order, please.”

“Yes, sir; yes, sir.”

The bill of exchange for £2,000,000 was made out on Waring Bros., of London, in favour of George K. Grinnell. Mr. Williams handed it to Grinnell with an obsequious little flourish and said, “Thank you, Mr. Grinnell.”

“Thank you,” said Grinnell smiling. “Good-morning.”

Mr. Williams bowed him out.

Grinnell walked briskly up Wall Street to the Wolff Building, and entered the office of Wolff, Herzog & Co.

“I should like to see Mr. Isaac Herzog,” he told a spectacled, middle-aged man who sat by a little table near the gate of a railing on the other side of which was a half-door of ground glass marked “Private.”

The gate-keeper, incredibly myopic, peered at him through such thick lenses that his eyes looked unpleasantly unnatural.

“Vhat ees yoor peezness, pleaze?”

“Tell Mr. Herzog that I come on a very important matter.”

“Ach!” The middle-aged man shrugged his shoulders with a sort of regretful despair, and then shook his head. Everybody that came there always came on very important matters—including book agents and pedlars disguised as gentlemen.

“I’ve come direct from Mr. Richard Dawson, president of the Metropolitan National Bank, to see Mr. Herzog. Tell him that—”

“Pleaze sit down,” he opened the gate and pointed to a chair. Grinnell obeyed and the man left. Presently he returned.

“Mr. Herzog vill see you, sir,” and Grinnell was ushered into the office of the head of the firm, for Mr. Wolff had been dead many years, and his son-in-law and partner reigned in his stead—a far greater king of finance.

He was a little man, white-haired and patriarchially whiskered. His features were of a pronounced Jewish type. His eyes were alert but kindly—kindly rather than merely good-natured. The accumulated wisdom of five thousand years was in this Hebrew banker’s business soul; and with it that respect for the higher Law that has made Israel endure as a nation through the marching centuries while other races have risen, flourished, and disappeared, blended into the composite types of to-day.

“Good-afternoon, sir. Mr. Dawson sent you?” asked Mr. Herzog, with a strong German accent. He knew English thoroughly, like a scholar—a German scholar.

“He didn’t send me. I—”

“You have been admitted under that impression,” Mr. Herzog said this sternly—a rebuke for a falsehood rather than irritation over what seemed likely to be the wasting of a very busy banker’s valuable time. The young man before him did not look shabby enough to be a professional mendicant, but there was something deferential about his manner that might mean a more expensive appeal. Amateurs have exaggerated ideas.

“Excuse me, Mr. Herzog. I told your man, when he thought you couldn’t or wouldn’t see me, that I came from Mr. Dawson’s office to see you. It’s true. I did leave him a few minutes ago. I know your reputation, Mr. Herzog, and I have come to you because I am in need of help.”

Mr. Herzog was famous as a philanthropist. He maintained at his own expense a sort of personal charity bureau to which applicants for help were referred, that he might give much but, above all, that he might give intelligently. He spoke to the young man with cold austerity: “I beg to refer you to Mr. Asiel, room 82, upstairs, sir. He will investigate your case. But I do not like the way in which you have gained admission to this office, sir.” He nodded dismissingly.

“One moment, Mr. Herzog,” said Grin-nell, smiling. “I wish your help in a business matter. I wish to buy one hundred million dollars of the best railroad bonds.”

A spasm of alarm contracted Mr. Herzog’s face. It passed and he said soothingly, with an accent more Germanic than ever: “Why, yes, of course. Yes, yes! I shall be very glad to do so. I will ask the gentleman in charge of our bond department to do as you wish. He is a very nice young man; a very competent young man. He knows all about bonds. Will you allow me to go after him? I shall return directly.”

Grinnell laughed out and out. It was a laugh unaffectedly merry. But Mr. Herzog turned pale and breathed a bit quickly.

The young man drew from his pocket-book some checks.

“Here are four certified checks for one million dollars each, and a draft on Waring Bros., of London, for two millions sterling. Won’t you please look at them before you go for the nice young man in charge of your bond department?”

Mr. Herzog instead looked at the door; the young man barred his exit. He was atavistically a fatalist. What was to be, was to be. Mr. Herzog, calm now from resignation, turned to the checks. One look was enough. His face changed, but having grown resigned to death, the banker did not now sigh with relief. He merely said, very quietly, as if he were resuming the thread of his conversation: “Perhaps you will tell me which bonds you wish to buy?”

“Yes, sir; but before I tell you that, let me tell you this: I come to you because I have absolute confidence in your wisdom and in the integrity of your firm. I wish to buy a hundred millions of bonds, on margin—a margin of fifty per cent or more. None must know of this transaction excepting yourself and those of your partners who must, in the nature of things, know it. I require no pledge but your word.”

“It is all the pledge we ever give, sir. It was unnecessary to speak of it. Nevertheless, I thank you for your confidence in us. Will you be good enough to proceed?”

He was looking at the young man steadily.

“I had on deposit at the Metropolitan National Bank this morning some forty-six millions of dollars, of which I have drawn this £2,000,000. Also with, other banks slightly more than six millions, of which those are four.”

Mr. Herzog nodded. He said meditatively: “You are, then, the gentleman to whom those institutions owe their remarkable gains in gold during the past few weeks?”

“I don’t know whether I am or not.”

“You are, sir.”

“Then I must be.”

“Pray proceed.”

“Well, I propose to purchase one hundred millions of dollars par value of bonds, carefully but steadily. Bonds are very cheap.”

“Owing to circumstances not yet known to the community, or possibly to a misapprehension of certain facts, they are cheap. Huge blocks have been thrown on the market this past week. Prices have been sacrificed; you doubtless know by whom?” His eyes interrogated as well as his voice.

“I know nothing. I think the bonds are very cheap,” said Grinnell impassively.

“I think so too, sir, now. I had begun to fear that they were not cheap, at any price, a few minutes ago.”

“Indeed?” Grinnell was sincerely astonished.

“Yes, sir,” said Mr. Herzog calmly.

“I will give you a check or checks on the Metropolitan National Bank—certified if you wish. Is fifty millions enough margin?”

“We do not take speculative orders.”

“Then, Mr. Herzog, I can only wish you good-morning, and request that you mention this to no one,” and Grinnell rose.

“In this case,” said Mr. Herzog, waving his hand and pointing to the chair from which the young man had risen, “you are conducting a financial operation unparalleled in our history. If you care to have us associated with you in this matter, to share proportionately in the profits—”

“Thank you. We shall consider that later on. I should not be surprised to see bonds rise to the level at which they were before they—ah—”

“Before the misapprehension to which I referred?” prompted Mr. Herzog gravely, but with intention.

“Before they began to decline so inexplicably,” corrected Mr. Grinnell with equal gravity. “Bonds are selling at par and under which should command a great premium.”

“Will there be additional deposits of gold by you at the Metropolitan or other banks?”

“I have not deposited any gold at any bank, Mr. Herzog.”

“I mean Assay Office checks, sir.”

“That is a matter, Mr. Herzog, which I must decline to discuss.”

“Excuse me, sir. I did not know.”

“But in justice to you, I will say that I have pledged myself not to make any deposits whatever for a short time.”

“Ah, that was William Mellen,” said Mr. Herzog with a positiveness that startled Grinnell.

“I mentioned no names, Mr. Herzog.”

“No. But I know how his mind works.”

“Now, what shall I do? Shall I give you a check on the Metropolitan or—”

“By drawing bills of exchange on London,” said the old banker musingly, “Mr. Dawson will not know for some days what you wish the money for.”

“Well, you have one there for £2,000,000 as a starter,” said the young man calmly. Mr. Herzog looked at him searchingly; then he smiled approvingly.

“Good! I see!”

“Well, sir?” asked Grinnell quietly.

“We will sell bills of exchange on London, Berlin, and Paris to Mr. Dawson’s bank. They will presently buy from us, thinking the high rates of exchange tempt us to sell them. This is enough for this week. There are still the bonds of the friends and of the friend’s friends to be sold, Mr.—” The old man paused. “I do not know your name sir; but I know you.

“My name is Grinnell.”

“Thank you. Of course, it was on the checks. And, if I may ask, sir, what is your business, besides that of a great financier?”

“I am a metallurgical chemist.”

“Chemist?” The old banker started. He looked at Grinnell intently. The young man’s face was impassive; perhaps too impassive. Mr. Herzog blinked his eyes; not dubiously, but as some men will when their thoughts are racing at a furious rate. His head was bent slightly to one side as his alert, intelligent eyes looked and looked at the young man from under the thick, shaggy eyebrows that so heightened the patriarchal aspect of his face. At length he straightened his little body up as though he were on springs, and began to rub his hands briskly. It was imagination—Oriental imagination, more vivid, more opulent in detail than the Occidental.

“I see! I see! Good!” He arose and, unable to contain himself, extended his hand and said: “Mr. Grinnell, I am certain you are a great man. I am proud to have your confidence. Bye-and-bye, when it does no harm, you will tell me all, and I shall see if I am right?”

“Some day we shall both see whether we are right or not,” said Grinnell composedly.

“Yes, yes. Now answer me: Do you find that great wealth is also a great temptation?”

“I do not,” answered Grinnell frankly.

“There are many things you would not do for money if you were penniless, much less would you do them, having fifty or a hundred millions. Is it not so?”

“There are many things I should like to do if I had a thousand millions,” said Grinnell, very earnestly.

“Precisely. That’s what you told them. Ah, William Mellen! William Mellen!” and the little old man shook his head and raised his hands ceilingward, as though he saw the richest man in the world there and were apostrophizing him. “You have imagination, but only one pair of eyes. I see!”

“You know him?” Grinnell asked.

The Hebrew banker, at this question, instantly became merely a banker. He said, briskly: “If bonds are too low, stocks are too high; much too high. It would be well to sell some to those wise rich men who wish to buy them; for the public is not buying stocks. Only the rich can buy—and suffer, it may be, eh, Mr. Grinnell?”

“I shall be glad to join you in such an operation, Mr. Herzog.”

“Thank you, sir; thank you. You leave it to me?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Very well. It is possible you are rich; but it is certain your are wise, Mr. Grinnell. First, we shall buy bonds for you. That is the investment operation. For one hundred millions we may buy one hundred and twenty millions par value, of the best bonds in the world. After that will come the—ah—” He paused and looked at Grinnell. The young man, his face still impassive, said:

“Yes, sir. If you wish any more money—”

“I will let you know, Mr. Grinnell. Come every morning at half after nine. Please let me have your name and address. There is much I should like to ask you; but bye-and-bye, you will tell me of your own accord. And your lawyer is?”

“Col. Gordon McClintock. You know him?”

“Yes. I shall not need him. Come tomorrow morning. There is much to do. Good-afternoon, Mr. Grinnell,” and Mr. Herzog shook hands warmly with the young man.

It happened as Mr. Herzog had said. The friends of the Mellens’s were told in the strictest confidence to sell bonds for good and sufficient reasons. They told their friends, also in strict confidence; and their friends told their friends, and their friends their friends, even unto the fourth and fifth generations, until there came the panic of the millionaires, for these men, in the nature of things, had no poor friends. Their aggregate sales were torrential, appalling. The professionals were too frightened to buy or sell anything, unless it was life insurance policies without the suicide clause.

And the flood of fine investment issues rolled resistlessly over the corpses of little speculators who bought them one day, thinking them incredibly cheap, only to see them on the next day incredibly, fatally cheaper, because the rich were selling! And the insane boom in stocks waxed greater, madder, more stupendous! Because the Mellens were buying!

It could not continue much longer. The Secretary of the Treasury came to New York twice that week to confer with the great financiers, who listened intently—and suggested nothing. The country at large fixed its eyes on Wall Street and endeavoured to see clearly. The tide must turn. The public began to buy bonds outright—to buy a few bonds, pay for them and then, frightened at its own temerity, doubtful of having after all secured bargains, run breathlessly home and lock up its purchase, and not look at the next day’s quotations for fear of finding that the price of the same bonds had dropped farther.

Still the public had begun to buy. But not before Wolff, Herzog & Co. had purchased for $117,000,000 bonds which a month before could not have been purchased for less than $148,000,000, all for account of Mr. George K. Grinnell; and had sold short 250,000 shares of stocks at an average price of $190 per share, stocks which four weeks previously could not have been sold at $125 per share, these for account of “Account G,” which included equally Mr. George K. Grinnell, Wolff, Herzog & Co., of New York; I. Benjamin & Co., of London; Stetheim & Sons, of Frankfort and Amsterdam, and Goldschmidt Freres, of Paris. And because of these operations the bond-market steadied and the stock-market ceased to advance, and people plucked up courage and bought bonds and sold stocks, until bonds began actually to rise slowly and stocks to decline steadily and greater courage gained thereby. And because the public, which is everybody, is greater than anybody, greater even than the richest man in the world, the Paradoxical Panic was checked.

There came a lull. After all, the public had but ceased to fear to buy bonds. It must be made to fear not to buy them; for bonds still were much too low and stocks very much too high. Wherefore, the Evening Scold, which had been importuning Mr. Isaac L. Herzog for an expression of his views, was at last able to publish an interview, double leaded, in its front page, in which the great financier strongly urged investors not to sell bonds but rather to buy. As for stocks, it was not wise to buy them but rather to sell. Investors need not be anxious over fundamental business conditions. Speculators, on the other hand, had before them a highly dangerous stock-market.

It was the first and only interview any newspaper had ever been able to obtain for publication from Mr. Herzog; and the Evening Scold was so uniformly ill-natured and impartially condemnatory that it was above suspicion. It was ultra-Mugwump in politics, art, literature, finance, and base-ball. The morning papers “verified” the interview and reprinted it prominently on the next day. And into Wall Street poured hordes of men, of all ages and political complexions—Jew and Gentile—of all degrees of fortune, and of no fortune at all, but all of them men who believed in Mr. Herzog’s integrity, and particularly in his sagacity. There followed a Great Day. Mostly, the public bought bonds. The selling pressure really was over by now, the enlightened millionaires being practically bondless; so bonds rose quickly, unchecked. And stocks declined, not so quickly, but every whit as steadily.

Mellen read the Herzog interview in Dawson’s office. When he was done with them, he carefully folded the newspapers and piled them neatly on the table. It was an unfailing habit of his—that and saving the twine that came with parcels.

He arose, with a troubled expression on his face, and said to the president:

“Herzog is a very able man. I don’t like this interview. He speaks too confidently.” Into Mellen’s eyes came the puzzled, indecisive look which Dawson had seen there so frequently in the last few weeks, and so seldom in the previous twenty years.

“He has a considerable following,” admitted the president in a cheerful voice, as though to keep his friend from dwelling too much on sorrow. “They have been heavy buyers of bonds and heavy sellers of stocks. That’s for Europe. They’ve sold us nearly all the sterling bills that we needed for Grinnell’s drafts. Grinnell has practically drawn all his money and sent it to London.”

“I don’t like it, Richard; I don’t like it a bit. Perhaps we’ve been too hasty; and yet—” He stared at Dawson unseeingly. “Where did he get it?” His lips were dry; he moistened them with the tip of his tongue and pressed them together.

“William, every bullion dealer in the world has been interviewed. Costello had twenty men in the West visiting the mines and smelters. We have had reports from the Klondike, from the Transvaal, from Australia, from mining engineers everywhere. We have even gone over the manifests of vessels that have brought bullion here and to other ports this year. Costello was twice in the laboratory. Since he promised to stop depositing, Grinnell has been idle. The dynamo has not been running.”

“But there must be a mine.”

“I am certain the gold doesn’t come from any mine on this earth.”

“He may have accumulated it.” The richest man in the world said this without conviction.

“Who gave him the money to pay for it?” asked Dawson, in an intentionally controversial tone, because he vaguely feared his friend’s doubts at this late hour. “And if somebody gave it to him, from whom did the giver buy it? Not from any smelter, or mine or dealer in the last five years. That is certain too.”

“Yes, yes; that’s it,” said Mellen irritably, because the answer would not come. “Is he under surveillance still?”

“Costello returned from the Pacific Coast Tuesday night, and I told him not to lose sight of Grinnell for one instant.” The president approached the ticker.

“Hm!” he said. “Quite a rally in bonds.” From force of habit the richest man in the world drew near. He passed the tape through his fingers slowly; then he told Dawson:

“I think we’d better help stocks go down.” Seeing a doubtful look in the president’s eyes, he added: “Oh, we’ll get them back cheaper.”

The door opened and Costello entered—he had instructions to walk into Mr. Dawson’s private office without being announced, no matter who might be there with the president. Dawson merely looked inquiringly at the detective but the richest man in the world walked up to him quickly and asked: “What is it, Costello?”

“Did you see Mr. Grinnell’s marriage announcement in the Herald, sir?” He looked first at Mellen, then at his chief. “It’s among the ads. in the front page.”

“No,” answered Mellen, turning toward the table, but Dawson had already picked up the Herald. He read aloud, Mellen looking over his shoulder:

GRINNELL-ROBINSON.—On Tuesday, September 12, by the Rev. DeLancy Williamson, at his residence, Margaret, daughter of Thomas M. Robinson, to George Kitchell Grinnell. Middletown, N. Y., and Youngstown, O., papers please copy.

“Robinson?” said Mellen quickly. He answered an unspoken question of his own: “But he hasn’t so much.”

Dawson knew what he meant. He shook his head and said with a slight frown: “I doubt if he has even ten millions. I know he sold out all his Consolidated Steel during the boom but that couldn’t have been more than five millions. I don’t think so.” He looked ill at ease.

“We must see Grinnell at once,” said the richest man in the world, speaking quickly. “If Robinson knows what Grinnell is doing—” He checked himself with a frown. A great anger filled his very soul to overflowing: Always Grinnell came before him—an obstacle to plans, enveloped by doubt-breeding mystery, surrounded by an uncertainty which, by not openly revealing dangers, made the young man a ceaseless menace.

“Mr. Grinnell is now at Wolff, Herzog’s office,” said Costello. “He’s been going there every day for a week.”

“I knew it!” said the richest man in the world explosively. He sat down in an armchair and leaned back, breathing quickly.

“We must make sure,” said Dawson. He sat down at his desk and took up the telephone. Then he said to Costello: “Anything else?”

“No, sir. He went into Mr. Herzog’s private office. The door-keeper told me he was a very rich man and that he came there every day.”

“Very well,” said Dawson, dismissingly. The detective left the room. Mellen stretched his right hand toward Dawson and opened his mouth. But he said nothing. His hand dropped and he stared intently at a paper weight on the president’s desk.

Dawson took up the telephone.

“Let me have Mr. Herzog, at once,” he said sharply. A minute later he said: “Herzog?—This is Dawson—Is Mr. Grinnell in your office?” Mellen drew near and stood beside his friend.

“Hello?” went on Dawson, with a tinge of impatience. “Is Grinnell—” He turned to Meilen and explained, spitefully: “He says to wait a moment—Hello? Yes. I’d like to see him—”

“Tell him to wait for you there,” said Mellen, in a tone of command. Dawson spoke into the telephone:

“Well, if he’ll wait for me at your office I’ll run over at once. Very well. Good-bye.” Dawson rose and, putting on his hat, followed the richest man in the world who had already started out of the office briskly.

In Herzog’s office the old banker, at Dawson’s first question, carefully placed his hand over the transmitter and said to Grinnell: “Dawson wants to know if your are here.”

“I cannot tell a lie,” laughed Grinnell; “I am.”

A moment later Mr. Herzog said: “He says he will come over if you will wait here for him.”

“Very well,” replied Grinnell. He added: “I think this will close the incident.” But Herzog shook his head—he was listening to Dawson and couldn’t hear the young man’s words.

The bank president and the richest man in the world walked more quickly than was their wont, each busy with his own thoughts. The myopic door-keeper at Wolff, Herzog & Co.‘s, knew Mr. Dawson. He opened the gate obsequiously and then hastened ahead and held open the door to Mr. Herzog’s private office. They entered abreast.

Mr. Herzog rose quickly and, walking toward them, extended his hand to Dawson. Then he shook Mellen’s. Grinnell arose from his chair near Herzog’s desk and merely said, “Good-morning, gentlemen.”

Dawson bowed to him, and with his diplomat-at-a-reception smile, replied:

“Good-morning, Mr. Grinnell.”

Mellen used the same words, and no smile.

“Be seated, gentlemen,” said Mr. Herzog with a polite wave of the hand.

“We came over to congratulate Mr. Grin-nell,” said Dawson. “We’ve just seen the Herald.

“Yes,” said Mellen grimly.

“Oh, thanks,” returned Grinnell, very politely.

“Herzog,” said the richest man in the world abruptly, “you have been buying a great many bonds.”

“We have bought some,” assented the banker, with much gravity.

There was a pause. Grinnell glanced at Dawson, who was looking so extremely unconcerned that the young man smiled slightly. Mellen, who had been leaning forward in his chair, straightened himself and asked curtly: “Why?”

Mr. Herzog arched his eyebrows with a sort of amazed inquisitiveness and said nothing, intending his silence as a snub. But he changed his mind and said: “They were very cheap.”

The richest man in the world turned toward Grinnell. Before he could ask any questions the young man said pleasantly: “You told me so yourself. Don’t you remember, Mr. Mellen?”

“Did you buy any, Mr. Grinnell?” Mel-len’s voice had a serious ring. The young man’s face took on a boyishly confidential look. He said:

“I bought some for my father-in-law. He had been waiting for them to go down. So had I. You see, my marriage was to come off as soon as I had invested his money.”

Mellen’s eyes opened wide, and Dawson, in a very quiet tone, asked: “And did you invest yours as well?”

“It seems to me,” said Grinnell, “that we are drifting toward family matters—”

“I beg your pardon,” said the president stiffly.

“I understood,” the young man said apologetically, “that you wished to speak to me on some business matter. I haven’t overdrawn my account, have I?”

“Perhaps we had better discuss this at the bank, Mr. Grinnell; if you could come—”

“I’m very sorry, Mr. Dawson, but I start on my wedding tour in an hour. I have no business secrets from Mr. Herzog, so if it is a business matter we may discuss it here. In all probability I would repeat our conversation to him.”

Dawson’s face flushed violently; his nostrils dilated unpleasantly. Mellen’s face turned perceptibly paler and the lines of it became harder. But his voice was steady and his manner almost matter-of-fact as he said to the young man: “Then it is almost certain you are not going to deposit too much gold hereafter at the Metropolitan Bank.”

“I am not going to deposit any more gold at any bank, because—” Grinnell hesitated.

“Yes?” Mellen’s eyes were fixed on the young man’s face, is if he thought every fleeting expression was as important as the words themselves.

“Because I haven’t any more gold to deposit,” finished Grinnell, very calmly.

“That is now. But will you not produce any more gold?” The richest man in the world spoke very quietly and very distinctly.

“I never produced any. I sold the Assay Office the last ounce I ever had over a month ago.”

“You must have obtained it somewhere, somehow,” said the richest man in the world. His manner conveyed an impression of patience. “Did you buy it?”

“No, sir. I didn’t buy it.” The young man’s calmness was not theatrical and it had a quieting effect. He paused an instant; then he went on: “In fact, I had no gold of my own. It was all my father-in-law’s.” He turned away and rose as if to go to the window.

Mellen spoke sharply: “Mr. Grinnell!”

“Yes.” He looked the richest man in the world straight in the eyes. Mellen said rudely: “Explain yourself, sir!”

“Mr. Mellen!” interjected Herzog. His voice conveyed a rebuke; but his look was austere rather than offended.

Grinnell frowned. He spoke to Mellen with impatience in his voice: “Mr. Mellen, you have asked me many questions, which you had no right to ask. I’ve not said anything about it before; but I tell you now that you annoy me!”

Mellen turned livid. “I—” he began. “Listen, please,” interrupted Grinnell quickly, his face growing stem. “I am going to tell you about that gold. That is, I shall tell if you do not interrupt me. I don’t wish you to ask me any more questions—not one.”


For many years no one had spoken thus to Mellen. But he answered nothing; his eyes were fixed on Grinnell’s lips with a fascinated stare. Dawson, unconsciously, had allowed a frown of intense interest to contract his brows. Mr. Herzog’s head was bent forward as if not to lose a word, his bright little eyes blinking furiously. Grinnell spoke very clearly and deliberately:

“My father-in-law, Mr. Robinson, two years ago at the height of the boom thought the stock-market must collapse sooner or later: I became engaged to his daughter, whom I had known ever since I was a boy. He naturally talked over his affairs with me in a general way, though I am not a business man.” He paused as if to pick his next words. A curious smile flickered for a fraction of a minute on Mr. Herzog’s lips.

“He wished to sell most of his stock holdings in various companies and then buy bonds. But if stocks were too high, bonds were not low enough. It was therefore decided to sell stocks at once, but to defer the purchase of bonds until a more propitious occasion. That occasion came last week. Mr. Herzog bought the bonds for him. That’s where he comes in.”

The young man paused again. Mellen did not interrupt; he nodded twice, not quickly at all, but in an acquiescent manner that invited further revelations. Grinnell continued slowly:

“Mr. Robinson had been a rich man for years, but I did not suspect how rich until he had sold all his stocks, when he told me he had fifty-four millions to his credit at his banks. To me this was so incredible that it made me think a man with that much cash in bank might do other things just as incredible. He is one of the unknown millionaires whom the newspapers discover when their wills are probated. That fact, the ignorance as to the extent of his wealth, also would help. As at that time so many of our financial institutions were unsafe because their officers were gambling in stocks and underwriting ventures, we concluded to lose the interest on it and turn it into gold. Once we had accumulated fifty millions in gold, the existence of which was unsuspected by bankers or brokers or newspapers, it was obvious that there were various ways in which the gold and the secret of it could be made valuable. Mr. Robinson, lacking the excitement of active speculation in stocks, and having retired from active business, was quite willing to indulge in a few psychological experiments. I had suggested various plans. He accepted one of them. So, we got the gold together.” Grinnell made an end of speaking and looked at Mr. Herzog meditatively, as if trying to remember whether he had forgotten anything, and speculating on whether he need say anything more. Herzog, oblivious of the presence of Mellen and Dawson, asked eagerly:

“Yes, but how? Where did you get that much gold?” It was the one thing he could not guess.

“There was only one way that I could see. We withdrew gold coin from circulation, gradually, all over the country, but principally in San Francisco. We spent two years at it. It took a great deal of care and trouble. Indeed, that was the hardest part. As fast as we got it I took it to my house, which I had bought for that very purpose, and melted it into bars so heavy that no burglar could carry away one. I painted them black and put them in the cellar, near the back wall. They were safe.”

“Ah!” The sigh came from the Hebrew banker who now leaned back in his chair and looked at Dawson. The president’s lips were slightly parted, and the frown was still on his face, his eyes on Grinnell. Mellen’s face had lost its tense look. He said, very quietly: “I see!”

“I deposited the gold, as Assay Office checks, in Mr. Dawson’s bank, and stopped calling on my fiancée. Later, I bought the bonds. I didn’t see Mr. Herzog until they were cheap.”

The president, his voice husky with anger, said: “Then you deliberately—”

“Don’t!” commanded the young man sharply. “Of course, I assumed that business training and Wall Street practices did not kill the imaginative faculty. That is what I had to work on. No financier can be great that has not great imagination. And you gentlemen are great financiers. If you will recall my exact words at the various times that I had the pleasure of seeing you, Mr. Dawson, you will not find one that is untrue. I made no assertion that was not justified by facts. I recall every word because I studied them very carefully.” There was no self-complacency in the young man’s manner. It was a trifle deprecatory toward the end; the light in his eyes kept it from being humility.

“You scound——”

“Richard!” interjected the richest man in the world, soothingly. He had already reckoned the extent of his enormous losses, for he would have to buy back at high prices bonds he had sold at low, and he would have to reverse the process in stocks. Grinnell, or his father-in-law, probably had made fifteen or twenty millions through the mistake. Mellen’s losses, because of the imaginative faculty, would probably be twice as great. But gold was gold still, and therefore, he was not ruined. He would retrieve the loss. He saw what he must do.

He turned with a look of almost benignity to the young man and said suavely: “Mr. Grinnell, I should like to have you come to see me when you have time. You have told me a very interesting story. I should like to see more of you. You are rich, but—” He stopped, to look encouragingly at the young man.

“Oh, no,” laughed Grinnell, “my father-in-law is. But even he is not in your class.”

“Come and see me anyhow. There is no telling what class you will be in.” In his mild earnestness and soft voice there was an unmistakable promise. The young man did not answer. Dawson now smiled affably.

“Mr. Grinnell, you are still one of our depositors, you know,” he said, with an air of claiming family relationship.

“Yes; to the extent of $342. I’ll give that to the detectives who—Oh, no offence, Mr. Dawson. I’m sorry I must leave you. We married men have trials.” He shook hands warmly with Mr. Herzog, nodded pleasantly to Dawson and Mellen, and said: “Good-morning, gentlemen.”

As the door closed on George Kitchell Grinnell, Mellen, thinking of the new working alliance he must effect with Herzog in order to facilitate the campaign of retreat and re-conquest, turned to the Hebrew banker and said quietly, “Now, Herzog let us get down to business.”

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