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No money. Can't pay no contracts. My notes'll come due, and I'm done
for. Simple. Crane thought it up."

"What do you want of me? So far as I can see, you are up against it. You
can't borrow any more, and your notes won't be extended. You're done."

"Hain't started yet - not yet. Figger to start to-day. That's why I come
to see you."

"But I can do nothing for you."

"Higgins's Bridge mill's good, hain't it? Logical payin' proposition?
Money to be made?"

"Yes."

"Like to own it cheap?"

"Of course."

"Crane and Keith is gittin' ready for a killin'. Own big block of stock.
Paid par. Want to sell, I hear ... if anybody's fool enough to buy. Then
want to buy back for dum' near nothin' when receivership comes. Good
scheme. Money in it. Crane thought it up."

"What's your idea?"

"Buy all they got. Option the rest. Easy.... What happens when a man
sells somethin' he hain't got?"

"He has to get it some place."

"If he can't get it, what?"

"Makes it expensive for him."

"Thought so. Figgered that way.... Nobody to interfere. Crane and Keith
left orders to sell. They won't be takin' notice. Got 'em worried some
place else. Mighty worried." Scattergood recounted the story of Plumm's
farm.

Mr. Linderman scrutinized Scattergood intently and nodded his head. "And
you want me - "

"Put up the money. Git the stock. Lemme handle it. Gimme twenty per
cent."

"In stock?"

"Calc'late so."

"Baines," said Linderman, "I'll go you. Crane and Keith are due for a
lesson."

"Ready now?"

"Yes."

"G'-by, Mr. Linderman. Have money when I want it. G'-by."

Scattergood had a list of stockholders in the pulp company and knew they
were worried. He spent two days in interviewing a dozen of them, and
found little difficulty optioning their stock at a pleasant figure. They
imagined he must be crazy, and he did nothing to destroy the belief.

Then he called at the offices of Crane & Keith.

"Want to see the boss man," he said.

"What for?"

"Hear you got stock for sale. Pulp company. Figger to buy."

Here was a lamb ready for the slaughter. Mr. McCann, who received him,
could see the delight of his employers, and his own profit, if he
should succeed in taking this fat backwoodsman into camp.

"You want to buy stock in the pulp company, I understand?"

"Yes."

"How much?"

"How much you got?"

"Guess we can sell you all you want."

"Money-makin' proposition, hain't it?"

"Of course."

"But you're willin' to sell? Kind of funny, hain't it?"

"Oh no. We have so many enterprises."

"Glad you want to sell. I figger to make money on this stock. Want to
buy a lot of it."

"About how many shares?"

"What you askin'?" said Scattergood.

"Par."

"Shucks! Give you thirty."

There was haggling and bickering until a price of sixty was agreed upon,
and Mr. McCann's heart expanded with satisfaction.

"Now, how many shares?"

"Want control. Want fifty-one per cent, anyhow. Got 'em?"

"Of course." This was not the fact, but Mr. McCann was not addicted to
unnecessary facts. He knew where he could get the rest for less than 60.
There would be an additional profit and additional credit coming to him.
In cold reality, Crane & Keith owned some 40 per cent of the stock.

"Take all you'll sell."

"I can let you have fifteen hundred shares - for cash." This was an even
60 per cent, but McCann knew where he could get the other 20.

"Come to the bank. Come now. Give you the cash."

"I can't deliver but one thousand shares to-day, but I can give you the
other five hundred to-morrow."

"Suits me. Pay for 'em all to-day. Gimme what you got and a receipt for
the rest. Comin' to the bank?"

Mr. McCann put on his coat and hat and accompanied Scattergood to the
bank, where he received a certified check for the full amount, gave
Scattergood in return a thousand shares of stock, and a receipt which
recited that Scattergood had paid for five hundred shares more, to be
delivered within twenty-four hours.

Scattergood went to see Mr. Linderman; McCann went out to round up five
hundred shares of stock. By midnight he was a worried young man. The
stock he had thought to pick up so readily was not to be had. Everybody
seemed to have disposed of it and nobody seemed to know exactly who had
been doing the buying, for the options had been taken in a number of
names. Next morning McCann sought diligently until he found Scattergood.

"I've been a bit delayed in the delivery of the rest of the stock," he
told Scattergood, and there was cold moisture on his forehead. "Would
you mind waiting until to-morrow?"

"Guess I'll have to," said Scattergood. "G'-by. Better be movin' around
spry. I want to git back home."

That night McCann wired his employers to get back home as quickly as
conveyances would carry them. They did so, and in no happy mood, for
Lawyer Norton had remained immovable in his position. Young McCann told
his tale hesitatingly.

"Who did you say you sold to?" demanded Crane.

"Fat man by the name of Baines."

"Baines! He's busted. Hasn't a cent."

"Paid cash."

Crane looked at Keith and Keith looked at Crane. Just then the telephone
rang. It was Scattergood.

"Want to speak to Mr. Crane," he said.

"Hello!" Crane said, gruffly. "What's this about your buying pulp
company stock?"

"Bought some. Bought a little. Called up to see why your young man
wasn't deliverin'. Want to git home."

"Where did you get the money?"

"Have to know that? Have to know where it come from before you kin make
delivery? Hain't inquisitive, be you?"

Mr. Crane made use of language. "I want to see you - got to have a talk.
Come right down here."

"Jest been measurin'," said Scattergood, "and I figger it's a mite
longer from here to there than it is from there to here. If you want to
see me, here I be."

"Where?"

Scattergood gave an office address and hung up the receiver.

"They'll be here in a minnit," he said to Mr. Linderman, and he was not
exaggerating greatly as to the time required to bring the gentlemen to
him. "Know Mr. Linderman - Crane and Keith?" said Scattergood. "Come in
and set."

"What do you want with pulp company stock?" Crane demanded.

"Paper the kitchen. Maybe, if I kin git enough, I'll paper the parlor.
Lack five hunderd shares for the parlor. Got'em with you?"

"No, and we're not going to get them."

"Um!... Paid for 'em, didn't I? Got a receipt?"

"What's Linderman doing in this?"

Mr. Linderman leaned forward a little. "I'm in a legitimate business
transaction - something quite foreign to you gentlemen's notions of doing
business. I came into it to make a profit, but mostly to teach you
fellows a lesson in decent business methods. I don't like you. I don't
like your ways. If you like your ways you must expect to pay for the
pleasure you get out of them.... Mr. Baines is waiting for delivery of
the stock he bought."

"I suppose you know we haven't got it?"

"I do."

"We can't deliver."

"Yes, you can. Go out in the open market and buy. Now, I own a few
shares, for instance. I might sell."

The faces of Messrs. Crane and Keith did not picture lively enjoyment.
They were caught. If it had been Scattergood alone they might have
wriggled out of it, they thought, for they had scant respect for his
sagacity, but Linderman - well, Linderman was not to be trifled with.

"How much?" said Crane.

"You need five hundred shares. Par is a hundred, is it not? I will part
with mine for three hundred. First, last, and only offer. In ten minutes
the price goes up to three fifty, and fifty for each five minutes after
that."

"It's robbery ..." Mr. Crane spluttered, and made uncouth sounds of
rage.

"Now you know how the other fellow has been feeling. Seven minutes
left...."

Four more minutes sped before the surrender came.

"Certified check," said Mr. Linderman. "My messenger will go to the bank
for you."

The check was drawn for a hundred and fifty thousand dollars, and Crane
and Keith settled back sullenly.

"You can retain your bonds. I believe you have about a quarter of a
million dollars' worth of them. Glad to have you finance the mill for
me. It will, of course, go ahead under my direction," said Linderman. "I
guess I can iron out the difficulties you gentlemen have arranged for,
and there will be no receivership. That will relieve Mr. Baines, who has
a considerable contract with the company." Mr. Crane swore softly.

Scattergood heaved himself to his feet. "One other leetle matter, Crane.
There's the Plumm farm. Kind of exercised about that, hain't you? Stayed
up in the country a week to look after it - while I was dickerin' down
here.... Like to buy that farm?"

There was no answer.

"Calculate to take a hint from Mr. Linderman. That farm's mine, and you
can't haul a log acrost it. My price is fifteen thousand. Bought it for
two. Price goes up hunderd dollars a minute. Cash deal."

That surrender was more prompt, and a second check was sent to the bank
to be certified.

"G'-by, gentlemen," said Scattergood, and Messrs. Crane and Keith took
their departure in no dignified manner, but with rancor in their hearts,
which there was no method of salving.

"Let's take stock," said Scattergood. "Like to know jest how we come
out."

"Let's see. We bought the stock at an average of sixty dollars a share.
That makes a hundred and fifty thousand dollars in expenses, doesn't it?
The five hundred shares just transferred cost thirty thousand dollars
and we sold them for a hundred and fifty thousand. Profit on that part
of the deal is a hundred and twenty thousand dollars. That made the
total capital stock in the mill worth a quarter of a million of
anybody's money; cost us exactly thirty thousand dollars, didn't it?
Nice deal.... And you cleaned up an extra thirteen thousand on your side
issue. Not bad."

"I git five hunderd shares worth fifty thousand dollars, don't I? Then
my thirteen. That's sixty-three thousand. Then my profit on twenty-five
thousand cords of pulpwood - which is goin' to be paid, I jedge. That'll
be anyhow another twenty-five thousand. Calc'late this deal's about
fixed me so's I kin go ahead with a number of plans. Much obleeged, Mr.
Linderman. You come in handy."

"So did you, Mr. Baines. Mighty handy."

"Oh, me. I had to. I was jest takin' out reasonable insurance ag'in'
loss...."

"I guess you have a permanent insurance policy against loss, inside your
head."

"Um!..." said Scattergood, slipping his feet into his shoes, preparatory
to leaving, "difficulty about that kind of insurance is that most folks
lets it lapse 'long about the first week after they're born."



CHAPTER VII

HE BORROWS A GRANDMOTHER


The world has come to think of Scattergood Baines as an astute and
perhaps tricky business man, or as the political despot of a state.
Because this is so it has overlooked or neglected many stories about the
man much more indicative of character, and more fascinating of detail
than those well-known and often-repeated tales of his sagacity in
trading or his readiness in outwitting a political enemy. To one who
makes a careful study of Scattergood's life with a view to writing a
truthful biography, he inevitably becomes more interesting and more
lovable when seen simply as a neighbor, a fellow townsman of other New
Englanders, and as a country hardware merchant. There is a certain charm
in the naivete with which he was wont to stick his pudgy finger in the
affairs of others with benignant purpose; and it is not easy to believe
other tales of hardness, of ruthless beating down of opposition, when
one repeatedly comes upon well-authenticated instances in which he has
stood quietly hidden behind the scenes to pull the strings and to make
his neighbors bow and dance and posture in accordance with some schemes
which he has formulated for their greater happiness.

Scattergood loved to meddle. Perhaps that is his dominant trait. He
could see nothing moving in the community about him and withhold his
hand. If Old Man Bogle set about buying a wheelbarrow, Scattergood would
intervene in the transaction; if Pliny Pickett stopped at the Widow
Ware's gate to deliver a message, Scattergood saw an opportunity to
unite lonely hearts - and set about uniting them forthwith; if little Sam
Kettleman, junior, and Wade Lumley's boy, Tom, came to blows,
Scattergood became peacemaker or referee, as the needs of the moment
seemed to dictate. It would be difficult to find a pie in Coldriver
which was not marked by his thumb. So it came about that when he became
convinced that Grandmother Penny was unhappy because of various
restrictions and inhibitions placed on her by her son, the dry-goods
merchant, and by her daughter-in-law, he determined to intervene.
Scattergood was partial to old ladies, and this partiality can be traced
to his earliest days in Coldriver. He loved white hair and wrinkled
cheeks and eyes that had once been youthful and glowing, but were dulled
and dimmed by watching the long procession of the years.

Now he sat on the piazza of his hardware store, his shoes on the
planking beside him, and his pudgy toes wriggling like the trained
fingers of an eminent pianist. It was a knotty problem. An ordinary
problem Scattergood could solve with shoes on feet, but let the matter
take on eminent difficulty and his toes must be given freedom and elbow
room, as one might say. Later in life his wife, Mandy, after he had
married her, tried to cure him of this habit, which she considered
vulgar, but at this point she failed signally.

The facts about Grandmother Penny were, not that she was consciously ill
treated. Her bodily comfort was seen to. She was well fed and reasonably
clothed, and had a good bed in which to sleep. Where she was sinned
against was in this: that her family looked upon her white hair and her
wrinkles and arrived at the erroneous conclusion that her interest in
life was gone - in short, that she was content to cumber the earth and to
wait for the long sleep. To them she was simply one who tarries and is
content. Scattergood looked into her sharp, old eyes, eyes that were
capable of sudden gleams of humor or flashes of anger, and he _knew_. He
knew that death seemed as distant to Grandmother Penny as it had seemed
fifty years ago. He knew that her interest in life was as keen, her
yearning to participate in the affairs of life as strong, as they had
been when Grandfather Penny - now long gone to his reward - had driven his
horse over the hills with one hand while he utilized the other arm for
more important and delightful purposes.

Scattergood was remembering his own grandmother. He had known her as no
other living soul had known her, because she had been his boyhood
intimate, his defender, always his advocate, and because the boyish love
which he had given her had made his eyes keen to perceive. His parents
had fancied Grandma Baines to be content when she was in constant
revolt. They had supposed that life meant nothing more to her now than
to sit in a comfortable rocker and to knit interminable stockings and to
remember past years. Scattergood knew that the present compelled her
interest and that the future thrilled her. She wanted to participate in
life, to be in the midst of events - to continue to live so long as the
power of movement and of perception remained to her. He was now able to
see that the old lady had done much to mold his character, and as he
recalled incident after incident his face wore a softer, more melancholy
expression than Coldriver was wont to associate with it. He was
regretting that in his thoughtless youth he had failed to accomplish
more to make gladder his grandmother's few remaining years.

"I calc'late," said Scattergood to himself - but aloud - "that I'll kind
of substitute Grandmother Penny for Grandma Baines - pervidin' Grandma
Baines is fixed so's she kin see; more'n likely she'll understand what
I'm up to, and it'll tickle her - I'm goin' to up and borrow me a
grandmother."

He wriggled his toes and considered. What thing had his grandmother most
desired?

"Independence was what she craved," he said, and considered the point.
"She didn't want to be beholdin' to folks. She wanted to be fixed so's
she could do as she pleased, and nobody to interfere. I calc'late if
Grandma Baines 'd 'a' been left alone she'd 'a' found her another
husband and they'd 'a' had a home of their own with all the fixin's. It
wasn't so much doin' that grandma wanted, it was knowin' she _could_ do
if she wanted to."

Scattergood's specially reinforced chair creaked as he strained forward
to pick up his shoepacs and draw them on. It required no small exertion,
and he straightened up, red of face and panting a trifle. He walked up
the street, crossed the bridge, and descended to the little room under
the barber shop where the checker or cribbage championship of the state
was decided daily. Two ancient citizens were playing checkers, while a
third stood over them, watching with that thrilled concentration with
which the ordinary person might watch an only son essaying to cross
Niagara Falls on a tight rope. Scattergood knew better than to interrupt
the game, so he stood by until, by a breath-taking triple jump, Old Man
Bogle sent his antagonist down to defeat. Then, and only then, did
Scattergood speak to the old gentleman who had been the spectator.

"Morning Mr. Spackles," he said.

"Mornin', Scattergood. See that last jump of Bogle's? I swanny if
'twan't about as clever a move as I see this year."

"Mr. Spackles," said Scattergood, "I come down here to find out could I
ask you some advice. You bein' experienced like you be, it 'peared to
me like you was the one man that could help me out."

"Um!..." grunted Mr. Spackles, his old blue eyes widening with the
distinction of the moment. "If I kin be of any service to you, I
calculate I'm willin'. 'Tain't often folks comes to me for advice any
more, or anythin' else, for that matter. Guess they figger I'm too old
to 'mount to anythin'."

"Feel like takin' a mite of a walk?"

"Who? Me? I'm skittisher'n a colt this mornin'. Bet I kin walk twenty
mile 'fore sundown."

They moved toward the door, but there Mr. Spackles paused to look back
grandly upon the checker players. "Sorry I can't linger to watch you,
boys," he said, loftily, "but they's important matters me and
Scattergood got to discuss. Seems like he's feelin' the need of sound
advice."

When they were gone the checker players scrutinized each other, and then
with one accord scrambled to the door and stared out after Scattergood
and Mr. Spackles.

"I swanny!" said Old Man Bogle.

"What d'you figger Scattergood wanted of that ol' coot?" demanded Old
Man Peterson.

"Somethin' deep," hazarded Old Man Bogle. "I always did hold Spackles
was a brainy cuss. Hain't he 'most as good a checker player as I be?
What gits me, though, is how Scattergood come to pick him instid of me."

"Huh!..." grunted Old Man Peterson, and they resumed their game.

Scattergood walked along in silence for a few paces; then he regarded
Mr. Spackles appraisingly.

"Mr. Spackles," said he, deferentially, "I dunno when I come acrost a
man that holds his years like you do. Mind if I ask you jest how old you
be?"

"Sixty-six year," said Spackles.

"Wouldn't never 'a' b'lieved it," marveled Scattergood. "Wouldn't 'a'
set you down for a day more 'n fifty-five or six, not with them clear
eyes and them ruddy cheeks and the way you step out."

"Calc'late to be nigh as good as I ever was, Scattergood. J'ints creak
some, but what I got inside my head it don't never creak none to speak
of."

"What I want to ask you, Mr. Spackles," said Scattergood, "is if you
calc'late a man that's got to be past sixty and a woman that's got to be
past sixty has got any business hitchin' up and marryin' each other."

"Um!... Depends. I'd say it depends. If the feller was perserved like I
be, and the woman was his equal in mind and body, I'd say they was no
reason ag'in' it - 'ceptin' it might be money."

"Ever think of marryin', yourself, Mr. Spackles?"

"Figgered some. Figgered some. But knowed they wasn't no use. Son and
daughter wouldn't hear to it. Couldn't support a wife, nohow. Son and
daughter calc'lates to be mighty kind to me, Scattergood, and gives me
dum near all I kin ask, but both of 'em says I got to the time of life
where it hain't becomin' in 'em to allow me to work."

"How much kin sich a couple as I been talkin' about live on?"

"When I married, forty-odd year ago, I was gittin' a dollar a day. Me
'n' Ma we done fine and saved money. Livin's higher now. Calc'late it
'u'd take nigh a dollar 'n' a half to git on comfortable."

"Figger fifty dollars a month 'u'd do it? Think that 'u'd be enough?"

"Scattergood, you listen here to me. I hain't never earned as much as
fifty dollar a month reg'lar in my whole life - and I got consid'able
pleasure out of livin', too." They had walked up the street until they
were passing the Penny residence. Grandmother Penny was sitting on the
porch, knitting as usual. She looked very neat and dainty as she sat
there in her white lace cap and her lavender dress.

"Fine-lookin' old lady," said Scattergood.

Mr. Spackles regarded Grandmother Penny and nodded with the air of a
connoisseur. "Dum'd if she hain't." He lifted his hat and yelled across
the road: "Mornin', Ellen."

"Mornin', James," replied Grandmother Penny, and bobbed her head. "Won't
you folks stop and set? Sun's a-comin' down powerful hot."

"Don't mind if we do," said Scattergood. He seated himself, and mopped
his brow, and fanned himself with his broad straw hat, whose flapping
brim was beginning to ravel about the edges. Presently he stood up.

"Got to be movin' along, Mis' Penny. Seems like I'm mighty busy off and
on. But I dunno what I'd do without Mr. Spackles, here, to advise with
once in a while. He's jest been givin' me the benefit of his thinkin'
this mornin'."

With inward satisfaction Scattergood noticed how the old lady turned a
pert, sharp look upon Mr. Spackles, regarding him with awakened
interest. To be considered a man of wisdom by Scattergood Baines was a
distinction in Coldriver even in those days, and for a man actually to
be consulted and asked for advice by the ample hardware merchant was to
lift him into an intellectual class to which few could aspire.

"I hope he gin you good advice, Scattergood," said Grandmother Penny.

"Allus does. If ever you're lookin' for level-headedness, and f'r a man
you kin depend on, jest send a call for Mr. Spackles. G'-by, ma'am.
G'-by, Mr. Spackles, and much 'bleeged to you."

Mr. Spackles was a little bewildered, for he had not the least idea
upon what subject he had advised Scattergood, but he was of an acuteness
not to pass by any of the advantage that accrued from the situation. He
replied, with lofty kindness, "Any time you want for to consult with me,
young man, jest come right ahead."

When Scattergood was gone, Mr. Spackles turned to the old lady and
waggled his head.

"Ellen, that there's a mighty promisin' young man. Time's comin' when
he's a-goin' to amount to suthin'. I'm a-calc'latin' on guidin' him all
I kin."

"I want to know," said Grandmother Penny, almost breathless at this new
importance of Mr. Spackles's, and Mr. Spackles basked in her admiration,
and added to it by apochryphal narratives of his relations with
Scattergood.

For a week Scattergood let matters rest. He was content, for more than
once he saw Mr. Spackles's faded overalls and ragged hat on the Penny
premises, and watched the old gentleman in animated conversation with
Grandmother Penny, who seemed to be perter and brighter and handsomer
than she had ever seemed before.

On one such day Scattergood crossed the street and entered the gate.

"Howdy, folks?" he said. "Wonder if I kin speak with Mr. Spackles
without interferin'?"

"Certain you kin," said Grandmother Penny, cordially.

"Got a important bankin' matter over to the county seat, Mr. Spackles,
and I was wonderin' if I could figger on your help?"

"To be sure you kin, Scattergood. To be sure."

"Got to have a brainy man over there day after to-morrer. B'jing! that's
circus day, too. Didn't think of that till this minnit. Wonder if you'd
drive my boss and buggy over and fix up a deal with the president of the
bank?"

"Glad to 'bleege," said the flattered Mr. Spackles.

"Circus day," Scattergood repeated. "Been to a circus lately, Mis'
Penny?"

"Hain't seen one for years."

"No?... Mr. Spackles, what be you thinkin' of? To be sure. Why, you kin
bundle Mis' Penny into the buggy and take her along with you! Finish the


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