George Randolph Chester.

The cash intrigue, a fantastic melodrama of modern finance online

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" Tell me what I should do," said Elsie



A Fantastic Melodrama of Modern Finance



Author of















IT was shortly after nine o clock when a brisk
young man stepped out of a taxicab into the
dim crevice of Broad Street, followed by a
huge negro bearing a suit-case. The young man
was evidently a complete stranger in the locality,
for he looked about him with frank curiosity, paus
ing for a moment to wonder at the daily farce of
the curb-market before turning in at the doorway
of a narrow stair. Nestled back amid a number
of alleged brokers, who dealt hilariously in such
" securities " as Wireless Motor Preferred, he
found the offices of Henry Galleon and Company,
one of the few legitimate firms which, entrenched in
their own natural conservativeness, had refused
to move when the curb invasion came. Passing
through the outer office, where a gray-haired " boy "



would soon begin to post ticker quotations on a
small blackboard for the benefit of a scant score of
antiquated and empty arm-chairs, he entered the ad
joining room, where, behind corroded iron grilles,
a row of elderly clerks worked quietly over ponder
ous books. At the end of the narrow lane in front
of these desks was a small door marked simply " Of
fices," beyond which door a wizened man, bent with
years but still active, looked up from a battered
and scratched walnut desk as ancient as he, waiting
silently for the square-jawed visitor to introduce

" Mr. Galleon? " inquired the new-comer.

" Upon what business, please ? " asked the other

" I only care to talk with Mr. Galleon himself."
Very pleasant about it indeed, but the chin, though
it had a dimple in it, stuck out most aggressively.

The old man arose with a slight, protesting frown,
asked for a card, and took it into an inner room.

Henry Galleon was about the same age as his
secretary, but he was erect. His face and his bald
head were pink with a baby s pinkness, his white
hair glistened like silk, and the brightness of his
eyes was almost infantile. He looked up from the
card inquiringly.

"Phillip Kelvin?" he said. ".Who s Phillip
Kelvin? I never heard of him."


" I don t know," replied the secretary. " He s
a very capable-looking young man, and by no means
a New-Yorker, I should think. He has a tremen
dously large negro with him; the largest one I ever
saw. The negro is carrying a big suit-case."

Henry Galleon pondered that matter quietly,
smoothing his chin with the thumb and fingers of
one hand, after the unbreakable habit of a man
who has once worn a beard. Fanatics with bombs
had menaced the Wall Street district of late, and
they might come in any guise.

" Find out his business, Messmer," was the sane

" I did ask, but he insisted on seeing you

Galleon frowned. "If he can t explain properly
to you, let him go. You are authorized to transact
all necessary business in my name."

Messmer went out with that message, though he
softened it somewhat. Young Kelvin had evidently
expected such an answer, for he smiled and turned
to the negro.

" Here, Sam," he directed, " put the case on this

The staid and evenly balanced Messmer frowned
as the suit-case was slammed upon the top of his
tangle of papers, but he waited with some curiosity
while young Kelvin unlocked it. Messmer had half


expected to see a set of books or a sample of some
new office contrivance, but when the lid was thrown
back he was struck dumb by the surprising con
tents of that unpretentious bit of luggage.

* These," said young Kelvin smilingly, running
his hand down in the suit-case and fluttering
the edges of its contents, " these are my letters
of introduction. Kindly tell Mr. Galleon about
them, and that I will not talk to any one but him

" Yes, sir ! " said Messmer with surprising alac
rity. "Yes, sir; yes, sir!"

He was positively white and trembling when he
went back into Galleon s office. He was rubbing
his hands together nervously, and his tottering foot
steps had become a double-quick shuffle.

" That suit-case ! " he gasped. " The young man
has just opened it, and it is full to the top with
nothing but money!"

" Money ? " expostulated Mr. Galleon.

"Money, sir, money!" repeated Messmer;
" paper money, all of high denomination. Solid
packages of bills! He said that these were his let
ters of reference, and that he would talk business
with no one but you."

Mr. Galleon turned upon old Messmer per
emptorily. " Why don t you show the young
gentleman in?" he demanded.


He inspected young Kelvin sharply as Phillip
came into the room, and found him to be a well-
dressed, clean-looking chap, with an extremely clear
eye and an extremely healthy complexion, his fair
ness and his lithe slenderness being made all the
more striking by contrast with the gigantic Sam,
a perfect Hercules, whose almost jet-black face
was scarred with a deep cut upon his left cheek,
and the lobe of whose right ear had been neatly
sliced away.

" Your letters of recommendation are perfectly
satisfactory, Mr. Kelvin," said the broker smiling,
as he glanced down at the card again to make sure
of the name. " What can we do for you ? "

For answer young Kelvin opened the suit-case
and took from it eight packages of bills, which he
counted over carefully. " Here are two hundred
thousand dollars," said he. " I wish you to sell
for me one thousand shares each of these four
stocks." He laid a slip of paper upon Mr. Gal
leon s desk. The broker did not look at the mem
orandum at once; he looked first at the packages
of bills, and then at the suit-case. He made a
hasty calculation, and then hesitated. If those eight
packages contained two hundred thousand dollars,
and the rest of the packages were composed of bills
of similar denomination, that suit-case must con
tain not less than two million dollars, cash !


" Of course, Mr. Kelvin, it is none of my af
fair," he began hesitantly, " but it is positively crim
inal of you to be carrying that enormous amount
of currency about with you. It ought to be banked.
You must consider," and he smiled again, " that I
would just as soon have your check as this money;
in fact, much rather."

" It is one of the strict conditions of my dealing
with you that our operations are to be transacted
in currency. I shall neither give nor receive

" But it is dangerous," insisted Mr. Galleon.

Phillip smiled. " Ordinarily, yes," he admitted,
" but in the present juncture I consider banks much
more dangerous. Have you a good deposit vault ? "

" I have deposit boxes in the best vaults in town."
This a little stiffly.

" Then I must insist that you keep this cash under
your own lock and key. Use no more than twenty
dollars per share for initial margins, and hold the
balance in reserve."

Galleon frowned and shook his head. " It is an
absurd thing to do, especially now," he protested.
" There prevails, at present, a peculiar condition
which you may not understand, Mr. Kelvin ; it even
puzzles old members of the Street. While the mar
ket is sluggish, money is very tight, a most rare
and unusual state of affairs. It would be folly to


let this amount of cash lie idle when it could com
mand such an unusual rate."

" Do you wish to handle my deals or not? " and
young Kelvin s jaws came shut with a snap.

Galleon studied the matter over in silence for a
while. " How does it happen that you come to
me?" he asked.

" That is very simple," replied Kelvin with a
smile. " From perfectly authentic sources I se
cured a list of all the Board of Trade members in
New York who do absolutely no bucketing and no
trading upon their own account; and you happened
to head that list."

Henry Galleon bent forward eagerly. "How,
many are there ? " he asked.

" Less than would have saved Sodom and
Gomorrah. There are just five, and I was given
a doubt concerning one of those."

Chuckling to himself, Henry Galleon began
counting the money. He touched a button and
there stepped energetically into the room, from a
rear door, a young fellow of broad shoulders and
bronzed face, who was the personification of cheer
ful good-humor. There was a certain careless ease
in the very flow of his cravat which told of a happy-
go-lucky disposition, and superabundant health was
visible in every line of his figure.

Galleon pushed forward the slip of paper which


Kelvin had just given him. " Selling orders for
the first thing this morning, at the market," he

The young man paid no attention to the slip.
" Why, hello, Phill ! " he exclaimed, and rushing
across to young Kelvin, he grasped that gentleman
by the right hand and pounded him vigorously upon
the shoulder with his left. " It s been an age since
I saw you, old boy ! " he roared with delight.
" Where did you drop in from ? "

" Tennessee," replied Kelvin. " By George,
you re looking well, Rensselaer. I m as much sur
prised to see you here, so far away from the
mavericks and the rustlers, as you are to see me."

" Oh, I m not in such a different occupation from
cow-punching," laughed Rensselaer. " I m Mr.
Galleon s floor-member over on the Exchange, and
it s much the same sort of exercise. Where are you
stopping? "

" At the Esplanade. What time do you get
through work?"

" A little after three."

" Come up to see me," invited Kelvin. " I ll be
in all day."

" I sure will ! " declared Rensselaer. " Then
we ll go out and see if we can t get some canned
tomatoes. Do you remember how we used to go
down to Abe Turner s store at Greaser Gulch and


buy canned fruit and spear it out with a jack-

" I don t think I shall ever forget it," laughed
Kelvin. " I never want to. However, I think we
can find something better than jerked beef at the
Esplanade. I ll wait for you with a great deal of

As soon as he had gone, Galleon turned eagerly
to young Rensselaer. ".Who was that?" he de

" Phill Kelvin. I used to know him on a Mon
tana ranch when we were cow-punching together,
five or six years ago."

"Was he there for his health?" asked Galleon.

" I don t think so," replied Rensselaer with a
chuckle. " As I remember him he had too much
health, if anything; but that was about all he pos
sessed. I bunked with him for six months, and
there never was a finer fellow on earth so long
as he had his own way."

" He looks like that," said Galleon, smiling.

" Only more so," returned Rensselaer. " Out
there he was bull-headed about everything he
started after little things or big ones. If he once
set his head to get something or to do something,
even the boss side-tracked."

" Huh! " grunted Galleon. " Where did he get
his money ? " ;


" I didn t know he had any," returned Rensselaer
in surprise.

" Look here."

Rensselaer stepped around to where he could see
inside of his employer s desk, and Galleon, with his
thumb, fluttered the edges of the packages of money
that lay there.

"He just left this here; two hundred thousand
dollars, to margin those four thousand shares of
stock fifty points. Did you see that suit-case he
had? Stuffed full of greenbacks! There couldn t
have been less than two million dollars in it ! "

Rensselaer whistled, and they were both silent for
a little while.

" .Well," Rensselaer finally observed, " however
he got it, he didn t steal it. More power to him.
I hope he digs up two million more." He paused
a moment and then chuckled. " Kelvin used to
have some queer ideas," he went on. " He used to
tell me about them, lying awake at night in camp,
or when we were loafing around down in the val
leys where the long grass grows. I could never
make out just whether he really meant it, or if he
was doing a lot of dry kidding. He could do that,
you know, without ever cracking a smile. My am
bition, at that time, was to become a great general,
but his loco point was that a republican form of
government was bound to fail. Said he was crazy


for power, and that the way to get it was to secure
control of all the money in the United States.
With that he could do anything overthrow the
government, make himself emperor, correct all the
abuses in the world. He promised me my general
ship, when the time came. Funny jumble of stuff,
but sometimes it sounded reasonable, too."

Old Henry Galleon whistled softly to himself, a
homely tune of long ago, and tapped the pile of
money with his lead-pencil. " He s got hold of so
much of the money he was after that he ll forget
the rest of the program," he sagely observed.



FOUR other brokerage firms young Kelvin
visited, and with each one he concluded an
arrangement precisely like that entered into
with Galleon, except that at each office he left a
different list of stocks to be sold on a twenty point
margin, backed up by fifty dollars cash per share;
then, with Sam s suit-case half empty, he directed
his chauffeur to drive back up Broadway to the
Esplanade. Upon that marvelous thoroughfare he
looked about him with the frank curiosity which
marks the wondering stranger. He was a part of
a swiftly moving triple procession on the right-
hand side of the street, a conglomeration of trolley-
cars and power-driven vehicles of every description;
and upon the opposite side a similar procession
flashed by him in endless array, each car at the
service of a restless, dominating human force.
These were the kings of the world, these men in
auto-conveyances, each king struggling, with all his
vital power, to conquer other kingdoms. It was



wonderful, this mighty spectacle of realized and
realizing ambition, and Phillip drank in the spirit
of it with an exhilaration that was almost an

" Only fifteen years, Sam," he said, turning to
the negro, " and see what has been done. This is
the most wonderful city in the world."

" Yes, sah," replied Sam, looking briefly from the
suit-case between his feet, and immediately concen
trating his gaze upon it again.

Kelvin laughed. " Nothing so wonderful to you
as that suit-case, is there, Sam? "

" No, sah," agreed Sam, permitting himself a
slight grin, which, however, was so fleeting that it
scarcely detracted from the serious preoccupation
of his face. " Ah done reckon tha s about all the
money in the worl ! "

" Not quite," dissented Kelvin with a smile, then
turned again to study the changes time had wrought.
" It is marvelous," he presently resumed, talking
more to himself than to the negro. " When I was
here fifteen years ago I could not appreciate what
all this meant, but now I know that this street is the
concentrated nervous energy of America gone mad
in the race for supremacy. I guess you didn t
think you d see anything like this, Sam, when I
saved you from the mob in the Tennessee woods? "

Sam shuddered. " Deed Ah didn t," he ad-


mitted. " Mistah Phillip, Ah ll neveh fohget that
as long as Ah live. Mah life was plum gone, boss.
Ah suah would been han led like they done the right
man when they-all got im, ef yo hadn t come along
in yo automobile. Mah life belongs to yo , boss.
Yo kin yo kin kill me jes any time yo git
good an ready, cause Ah done live now three
yeahs longeh than mah time, 1

" They ve been fairly happy years for both of us,
Sam," said Phillip ; " but now we really begin to
live." He mused a while longer, then, going back
to his original thought, added with a curious smile :
" It is strange to me that, with all these advance
ments in science, business and politics have not ad
vanced one whit, except along the line of their
logical ends. The same antiquated methods are
used that were in vogue fifty years ago. I guess
that, after all, those are the two most conservative
institutions in the world. Eh, Sam ? "

" Yes, sah," Sam again readily agreed, where
upon Phillip laughed heartily.

Arrived at Phillip s apartments in the Esplanade,
Sam hurried into an inner room. Methodically he
took cushions from the couch and pillows from the
bed, and piled them in a corner; then he sat down
against them with the suit-case between his knees,
and within five minutes, in loose-limbed ease and


with an unblinking stare, had lapsed into a semi-
trance-like condition, which he could maintain for
hours. He reminded one of nothing so much as a
huge brown bulldog on guard, and it would have
gone ill with any living creature that had tried to
touch that suit-case.

Meanwhile, Phillip, in the apartment which had
been turned into an office for him, entered his record
of the day s business on filing-cards and upon a
huge diagram sheet, then wrote a long and careful
letter, after which he took pencil and paper from
a drawer in his desk and delved into numerous
books of statistics.

It was nearing three o clock when a boy brought
in two letters. One of them, in a heavy, cream-
tinted envelope and slightly fragrant, he opened and
read through with a frown. A postscript at the end,
however, brought a smile to his face, and he stepped
into the a d joining apartment. Sam s eyes were
closed, but Phillip had no sooner set foot in the
room than he opened them, black and shining and
as expressionless as the eyes of a huge turtle.
Without moving, he waited for Phillip to address

" Lucy hasn t forgotten you, Sam," said Phillip.

Sam s eyes glistened, and a grin pushed the scar
out of the way to make room for itself.


" She suttenly is the most mischievousest pusson
Ah eveh saw in mah life," he exploded, and he
ended with a shrill falsetto chuckle.

" Her mistress writes," went on Phillip, glancing
at the letter again : " Lucy is turning pale since
your visit to Forest Lakes, and I think she is pining
away for Sam. She asked yesterday when he was
coming back. When is he ?

Sam bent over the suit-case, and slapped his legs
in a paroxysm of delight. " Ah suttenly is a lady-
killeh," said he.

Phillip, laughing, returned to his office, and tear
ing the letter once across, dropped it into the waste-
basket with a gesture of almost contempt, then he
opened the second letter, one addressed in a girl s
hand, but a firm one. This too he read with a
frown, but it was one of surprise, and going to the
window, he looked out upon the cheerless prospect
of endless roofs and tall, angular buildings with an
eye which saw far beyond these artificial canyons.
Seen thus and in repose, his face was a striking
one, striking because of the sternness that sat upon
every feature; but that this sternness, and the
habitual squaring of his shoulders and tilting of
his chin, had nothing to do with the second letter
was presently evidenced when, recalling his wan
dering thoughts, he smiled as he glanced down at
it. A ring of the telephone interrupted his musing.


" Mr. Rensselaer ? " he repeated into the tele
phone. " Send him right up."

He turned to his desk and tossed upon it the
letter he had been reading, then quickly sorted his
index cards and arranged them in their case. There
came a knock at the door, and he opened it to let
young Rensselaer in.

" You re just in time, Bert," he declared.
"What have you to do this evening?"

" Anything or nothing, replied Rensselaer. " At
three o clock all I want to do is to get as far away
from the mutton abattoir as possible, and forget all
about it until the next morning."

You re a queer specimen to be engaged in that
branch of physical culture," commented Phillip, as
his eyes swept over young Rensselaer s stocky build.

" That s the only reason I m there," Rensselaer
declared with a grin. " It s the nearest thing to
bronco-busting that I can find," and he laughed out
of the sheer joy of living. " But what reckless dis
sipation have you in mind ? "

" I have some friends over in New Jersey that
I am more or less obliged to see," replied Phillip,
" and I thought you might sacrifice yourself enough
to run over with me. I understand it s only an
hour and a half if you take the tunnel."

Rensselaer shrugged his shoulders. " Oh, well,
if you insist upon the tube I guess I can stand it


as well as you. It can t be denied that it saves a
lot of time."

" I don t think that s the whole reason," con
fessed Phillip, putting on his hat and top-coat.
" Frankly, I want to get into the subway ; to smell
the subway smell, and renew, if I can, the impres
sions of novelty that I enjoyed in my boyhood.
You see, I was only a kid the last time I was here."

" It must have seemed a wonderful place to you
then," said Rensselaer. " For myself I d rather be
a cow-puncher than anything I can think of, but
my respected auntie can t conceive of one s living
anywhere else than in or near Manhattan, and
moreover she fears I might contract a mesalliance
out west, as she still declares my father did."

"That was his one best trick, wasn t it?" in
quired Phillip.

" No doubt of it," returned the other. " I m the
first Rensselaer in a hundred years who has been
able to bathe without the aid of a valet, and the
first one to have blood enough to gush when he
was cut; and my mother well, she was a real
woman; gentle, but brave, too; sweetly feminine,
but strong and healthy; tactful, but sincere and hon
est." His voice quavered, and he stopped.

" I wish I might have known her," said Kelvin.
"That is a good country to produce real human


beings. I think I gained health and energy enough
out there to last me through all my coming

Rensselaer turned to him quickly. "Of course
I m not going to ask you what your plans are, nor
how you reached your present point," he observed,
" but you re doing a stunning thing, if it s your
aim to gain profitable conspicuousness. There
hasn t been so much real money in the financial dis
trict in years. Big checks are not uncommon, but
big wads of cold cash are a rarity. I had the
pleasure of making your trades this morning, and
within an hour afterward they were all talking
about it. You certainly must have put in a remark
able five years. Where did you go from Mon

" Oh, down to Tennessee in the real-estate busi
ness," said Phillip guardedly. " There are large
natural resources in that state which are just being
developed, and I managed to get in pretty good on
them. I did a stroke or two down there that
brought me some success and some influential
friends. Now I am going to make a big play. You
know," and though he spoke lightly he frowned
darkly, " a certain Wall Street crowd, still in busi
ness, broke my father, and he died from it."

" I remember of your telling me something about


that. But be careful you don t overplay your
game," warned Rensselaer, whereat Kelvin only
smiled, though grimly enough.

They had reached the bottom of the hotel elevator
shaft now, and they turned into the subway cor
ridor, a convenience which impressed Kelvin very

" It s a bad development," stated Rensselaer,
shaking his head. " There is a growing tendency
toward these direct entrances, both in business and
in tenement districts, and it is bound to produce a
race of toilers who will see no sunlight whatever.
They will practically be human moles, like that er
rand-boy yonder, undersized and undeveloped,
physically, mentally, and morally; white and soft
and flabby, like putty. They will not be men, they
will be worms."

Phillip looked at the boy, a youth of about seven
teen years and not much larger than he should have
been at twelve, with a feeling of revulsion. " Some
time the worm may turn," he speculated; "and if
it does, watch out! When a country loses its mid
dle class it is in a bad way. You can crush out

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Online LibraryGeorge Randolph ChesterThe cash intrigue, a fantastic melodrama of modern finance → online text (page 1 of 21)