Ridgwell Cullum.

The son of his father online

. (page 1 of 24)
Online LibraryRidgwell CullumThe son of his father → online text (page 1 of 24)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Produced by Al Haines

[Frontispiece: With Eyes Wide and Staring She Looked About Her]






Illustrations by





Copyright, 1915, by

George W. Jacobs & Company

_Published March, 1917_

All rights reserved

_Printed in U. S. A._









I Unrepentant
II In Chastened Mood
III Gordon Arrives
IV Gordon Lands at Snake's Fall
V A Letter Home
VI Gordon Prospects Snake's Fall
VII "Miss Hazel"
VIII At Buffalo Point
IX The First Check
X Gordon Makes His Bid for Fortune
XI Hazel Mallinsbee's Campaign
XII Thinking Hard
XIII Slosson Snatches at Opportunity
XIV The Reward of Victory
XV In Council
XVI Something Doing
XVII The Code Book
XVIII Ways that are Dark
XIX James Carbhoy Arrives
XX The Boom in Earnest
XXI A Trifle
XXII On the Trail
XXIII In New York
XXIV Preparing for the Finale
XXV The Rescue
XXVI Cashing In


With eyes wide and staring she looked about her . . . _Frontispiece_

Hazel was waiting for that sign

He drew her gently towards his father



"To wine, women and gambling, at the age of twenty-four - one hundred
thousand dollars. That's your bill, my boy, and - I've got to pay it."

James Carbhoy leaned back smiling, his half-humorous eyes squarely
challenging his son, who was lounging in a luxurious morocco chair at
the other side of the desk.

As the moments passed without producing any reply, he reached towards
the cabinet at his elbow and helped himself to a large cigar. Without
any scruple he tore the end off it with his strong teeth and struck a


Gordon Carbhoy cleared his throat and looked serious. In spite of his
father's easy, smiling manner he knew that a crisis in his affairs had
been reached. He understood the iron will lying behind the pleasant
steel-gray eyes of his parent. It was a will that flinched at nothing,
a will that had carved for its owner a great fortune in America's most
strenuous financial arena, the railroad world. He also knew the only
way in which to meet his father's challenge with any hope of success.
Above everything else the millionaire demanded courage and
manhood - manhood as he understood it - from those whom he regarded well.

"I'm waiting."

Gordon stirred. The millionaire carefully lit his cigar.

"Put that way it - sounds rotten, Dad, doesn't it?" Gordon's mobile
lips twisted humorously, and he also reached towards the cigar cabinet.

But the older man intercepted him. He held out a box of lesser cigars.

"Try one of these, Gordon. One of the others would add two dollars to
your bill. These are half the price."

The two men smiled into each other's eyes. A great devotion lay
between them. But their regard was not likely to interfere with the
business in hand.

Gordon helped himself. Then he rose from his chair. He moved across
the handsome room, towering enormously. His six feet three inches were
well matched by a great pair of athletic shoulders. His handsome face
bore no traces of the fast living implied by the enormous total of his
debts. The wholesome tan of outdoor sports left him a fine specimen of
the more brilliant youth of America. Then, too, in his humorous blue
eyes lay an extra dash of recklessness, which was probably due to his
superlative physical advantages. He came back to his chair and propped
his vast body on the back of it. His father was watching him

"Dad," he exclaimed, "I'm - sorry."

The other shook his head.

"Don't say that. It's not true. I'd hate it to be true - anyway."

Gordon's face lit.

"You're - going to pay it?"

"Sure. I'm not going to have our name stink in our home city. Sure
I'm going to pay it. But - - "

"But - what?"

"So are you."

The faint ticking of the bracket clock on the wall suddenly became like
the blows of a hammer.

"I - I don't think I - - "

Young Gordon broke off. His merry eyes had suddenly become troubled.
The crisis was becoming acute.

For some moments the millionaire smoked on luxuriously. Then he
removed his cigar and cleared his throat.

"I'm not going to shout. That's not my way," he said in his easy,
deliberate fashion. "Guess folks have got to be young, and the younger
they're young - why, the better. I was young, and - got over it. You're
going to get over it. I figure to help you that way. This is not the
first bill you've handed me, but - but it's going to be the last. Guess
your baby clothes can be packed right up. Maybe they'll be all the
better for it when you hand 'em on to - your kiddie."

The trouble had passed out of the younger man's eyes. They were filled
with the humor inspired by his father's manner of dealing with the
affair in hand.

"That's all right," he said. "I seem to get that clear enough."

"I'm glad." The millionaire twisted the cigar into the corner of his
mouth. "We can pass right on to - other things. You've been one of my
secretaries for three years, and it don't seem to me the work's worried
you a lot. Still, I put you in early thinking you'd get interested in
the source of the dollars you were handing out in bunches. Maybe it
wasn't the best way of doing it. Still, I had to try it. You see,
it's a great organization I control - though you may not know it. I
control more millions than you could count on your fingers and toes,
and they've cost me some mental sweat gathering 'em together. Some day
you've got to sit in this chair and talk over this 'phone, and when you
do you'll be - a man. You see, I don't fancy my pile being invested in
cut flowers and automobiles for lady friends. I don't seem to have
heard that thousand-dollar parties to boys who can't smoke a five-cent
cigar right, and girls who're just out for a good time anyway, are
liable to bring you interest on the capital invested, except in the way
of contempt. And five-thousand dollar apartments are calculated to
rival the luxury of Rome before its fall. Big play at 'draw' and
'auction' are two diseases not provided for amongst the cures in patent
med'cine advertisements, and as for the older vintages in wines,
they're only permissible in folks who've quit worrying to scratch
dollars together. None of these things seem to me good business, and
in a man at the outset of his career some of 'em are - immoral. You've
had your preliminary run, and I'll admit you've shown a fine turn of
speed. But it smacks too much of the race-track, and seems to me quite
unsuited to the hard highroad of big finance you're destined to travel.

"Just one moment," he went on, as, with flushing cheeks and half-angry
eyes, his son was about to break in. "You haven't got the point of
this talk yet. This bill you've handed me don't figure as largely in
it as you might guess. I've thought about things these months. I
don't blame you a thing. I'm not kicking. The fact you've got to grab
and get your hind teeth into is that there comes a time when two can't
spend one fortune with any degree of amicability. It's a sort of
proposition like two dogs and a bone. Now from a canine point of view
that bone certainly belongs to one of those dogs. No two dogs ever
stole a bone together. Consequently, the situation ends in a scrap,
and it isn't always a cert. that the right thief gets the bone. How it
would work out between us I'm not prepared to guess, but, as 'scrap'
don't belong to the vocabulary between us, we'll handle the matter in
another way. Seeing the fortune - at present - belongs to me, I'll do
the spending in - my own way. My way is mighty simple, too, as far as
you're concerned. I'm going to stake you all you need, so you can get
out and find a bone you can worry on _your own_. That's how you're
going to pay this bill. You're going to get busy quitting play. We
are, and always have been, and always will be, just two great big
friends, and I'd like you to remember that when I say that the life
you're living is all right for a boy, but in a man it leads to dirty
ditches that aren't easy climbing out of, and - you can't do clean work
with dirty hands. When you've shown me you're capable of collecting a
bone for your own worrying - why, you can come right back here, and I'll
be pleased and proud to hand over the reins of this organization, and
I'll be mighty content to sit around in one of the back seats and get
busy with the applause. Now you talk."

Gordon began without a moment's hesitation. Something of his heat had
passed, but it still remained near the surface.

"Quite time I did," he cried almost sharply. "Look here, father, I
don't think you meant all you said the way your talk conveyed it. To
me the most important of your talk is the implied immorality of my mode
of life. Then the inconsistent fashion in which you point my way
towards - big finance."

His eyes lit again. They had suddenly become dangerously bright.

"Here, we're not going to quarrel, nor get angry," he went on,
gathering heat of manner even in his denial. "We're too great friends
for that, and you've always been too good a sportsman to me, but - but
I'm not going to sit and listen to you or anybody else accusing me of
immorality without kicking with all my strength!"

He brought one great fist down on the desk with a bang that set the
ink-wells and other objects dancing perilously.

"I'm not angry with you. I couldn't get angry with you," he proceeded,
with a suppressed excitement that added to his father's smile; "but I
tell you right here I'll not stand for it from you or anybody. My only
crime is spending your money, which you have always encouraged me to
do. From my university days to now my whole leisure has been given up
to athletics. A man can't live immorally and win the contests I have
won. I don't need to name them. Boxing, sculling, running, baseball,
swimming. You know that. Any sane man knows that. The money I've
spent has been spent in the ordinary course of the life to which you
have brought me up. You have always impressed on me the great position
you occupy and the necessity for keeping my end up. That's all I have
to say about my debts, but I have something to say on the subject of
the inconsistency with which you censure immorality in the same breath
as you demand my immediate plunge into the mire of big finance."

He paused for a moment. Then, as abruptly as it had arisen, his heat
died down, and gave place to the ready humor of his real nature.

"Gee, I want to laugh!" He sprang from his seat and began to pace the
floor, talking as he moved. His father watched him with twinkling,
affectionate eyes. "Immorality? Psha! Was there ever anything more
immoral than modern finance? You imply I have learned nothing of your
organization in the three years I've been one of your secretaries.
Dad," he warned, "I've learned enough to have a profound contempt for
the methods of big corporations in this country, or anywhere else.
It's all graft - graft of one sort or another. Do you need me to tell
_you_ of it? No, I don't think so. Twenty-five millions wouldn't
cover the fortune you've made. I know that well enough. How has it
been made? Here, I'll just give you one instance of the machinations
of a big corporation. How did you gain control of the Union Grayling
and Ukataw Railroad? Psha! What's the use? You know. You hammered
it, hammered it to nothing. You got your own people into it, and sat
back while they ran it nearly into bankruptcy under your orders. Then
you bought. Bought it right up, and - sent it ahead. Immoral? It
makes me sweat to think of the people who must have lost fortunes in
that scoop. Immoral? Why, I tell you, Dad, any man can make a pile if
he sticks to the old saw: 'Don't butt up against the law - just dodge
it.' It's only difficult for the fellow who remembers his
Sunday-school days. So far, Dad, I've avoided immorality. I'm waiting
till I start on big finance to become its victim. That's my talk. Now
you do some."

His father nodded. Then he said dryly, "This carpet cost me five
hundred dollars, that chair fifty. Try the chair."

Gordon laughed at the imperturbable smile on his father's face, but he
flung his great body into the chair.

James Carbhoy deliberately knocked the ash from his cigar. It was many
years since he had received such a straight talk from any man. Some of
it had stung - stung sharply, but the justice or injustice of it he set
aside. His whole mind and heart were upon other matters. He took no
umbrage. He swept all personal feeling aside and regarded the boy whom
he idolized.

"We've both made some talk," he observed, "but I think the last word's
with me. I don't seem to be sure which of us has put up the bluff.
Maybe we both have. Anyway, right here and now I'm going to call your
hand. I offered you a stake. You say it's easy to make a pile. Can
you make a pile?"

Gordon shrugged.

"Why, yes. If I follow your wish and embark on - big finance.
And - forget my Sunday school."

The millionaire gathered up the sheaf of loose accounts on the desk and
held them up. His smile was grim and challenging.

"One hundred thousand dollars these bills represent. The cashier will
hand you a check for that amount. Say, you've shown your ability to
spend that amount; can you show your ability to make it?"

For a moment the boy's blue eyes avoided the half-ironical smile of his
father's. Then suddenly they returned the steady gaze, and a flush
spread swiftly over his handsome face. Something of his father's
purpose was dawning upon him. He began to realize that the man who had
made those many millions was far too clever for him when it came to
debate. He squared his shoulders obstinately and took up the
challenge. There was no other course for him. But even as he accepted
it his heart sank at the prospect.

"Certainly," he cried. "Certainly - with a stake to start me."

His father nodded.

"Sure. That goes," he said.

Then he laid the papers on the desk, and his whole manner underwent a
further change. His eyes seemed to harden with the light of battle.
There was an ironical skepticism in them. Even there was a shadow of
contempt. For the moment it seemed as if he had forgotten that the man
before him was his son, and regarded him merely as some rival financier
seeking to beat him in a deal.

"I'll hand you one hundred thousand dollars. That's your stake. This
is the way you'll pay those bills. You'll leave this city in
twenty-four hours. You can go where you choose, do what you choose.
But you must return here in twelve months' time with exactly double
that sum. I make no conditions as to how you make the money. That's
right up to you. I shall ask no questions, and blame you for no
process you adopt, however much I disapprove. Then, to show you how
certain I am you can't do it - why, if you make good, there's a
half-share partnership in my organization waiting right here for you."

"A half-share partnership?" Gordon repeated incredulously. "You
said - a half-share?"

"That's precisely what I said."

All of a sudden the younger man flung back his head and laughed aloud.

"Why, Dad, I stand to win right along the line - anyway," he exclaimed.

The older man's eyes softened.

"Maybe it's just how you look at it."

The change in his father's manner was quite lost upon Gordon. He only
saw his enormous advantage in this one-sided bargain.

"Say, Dad, was there ever such a father as I've got?" he cried
exuberantly. "Never, never! But you're not going to monopolize all
the sportsmanship. I can play the game, too. I don't need one hundred
thousand dollars on this game. I don't need twelve months to do it in.
I'm not going to cut twelve months out of our lives together. Six is
all I need. Six months, and five thousand dollars' stake. That's what
I need. Give me that, and I'll be back with one hundred and five
thousand dollars in six months' time. I haven't a notion where I'm
going or what I'm going to do. All I know is you've put it up to me to
make good, and I'm going to. I'll get that money if - if I have to rob
a bank."

The boy's recklessness was too much for the gravity of the financier.
He sat back and laughed. He flung his half-smoked cigar away, and in a
moment father and son had joined in a duel of loud-voiced mirth.

Presently, however, their laughter died out. The millionaire sprang to
his feet. His eyes were shining with delight.

"I don't care a darn how you do it, boy," he cried. "As you say, it's
up to you. You see, I've got over my Sunday-school days, as you so
delicately reminded me. That's by the way. But there's more in this
than maybe you get right. You're going to learn that no graft can turn
five thousand dollars into one hundred thousand in six months without a
mighty fine commercial brain behind it. It's that brain I'm looking
for in my son. Now get along and see your mother and sister. You've
only got twenty-four hours' grace. Leave these bills to me. You're
making a bid for the greatest fortune ever staked in a wager, and
things like that don't stand for any delay. Get out, Gordon, boy; get
out and - make good."

He held one powerful hand out across the desk, and Gordon promptly
seized and wrung it.

"Good-by, Dad, and - God bless you."



Of course, the whole thing was ridiculous. Gordon knew that. No one
could know it better. The more he thought about it the more surely he
was certain of it. He told himself that he, personally, had behaved
like a first-class madman over the whole affair. How on earth was he
to make one hundred thousand dollars in six months? It couldn't be
done. That was all. It simply couldn't be done. What power of
mischief had driven him to charge his highly respectable father with
graft? It was a rotten thing to do anyway. And it served him right
that it had come back on him by pointing the way to the present
impossible situation.

He was perfectly disgusted with himself.

But after a while he began to chuckle. The thing was not without an
atmosphere of humor - of a sort. No doubt his friends would have seen a
tremendous humor in the idea of his making one hundred thousand dollars
under any conditions.

One hundred thousand dollars! What a tremendous sum it sounded viewed
from the standpoint of his having to make it. He had never considered
it a vast sum before. But now it seemed to grow and grow every time he
thought of it. Then he laughed. What stupid things "noughts" were.
They meant so much just now, and, in reality, they mean nothing at all.

Oh, dear. The whole thing was a terrible trouble. It was worse. It
was a tragedy. But - he mustn't give his friends the laugh on him.
That would be the last straw. No. The whole thing should remain a
secret between his father and himself. He almost broke into a sweat as
he suddenly remembered the Press. What wouldn't the Press do with the
story. The son and heir of James Carbhoy, the well-known
multi-millionaire, leaving home to show the world how to make one
hundred thousand dollars in record time! A stupendous farce. Then the
swarm of reporters buzzing about him like a cloud of flies in summer
time. The prospect was too depressing. Think of the columns in the
Press, especially the cheaper Press. They would haunt him from New
York to - Timbuctoo!

It couldn't be done. He felt certain that in such circumstances
suicide would be justifiable. Thoughts such as these swept on through
his disturbed brain as he sped up Broadway on his way to say good-by to
his mother and sister. He had been lucky in finding his father's
high-powered automobile standing outside the palatial entrance of the
towering Carbhoy Building. Nor had he the least scruple in
commandeering it.

His visit to the east side of Central Park was in the nature of a
whirlwind. He had no desire to be questioned, and he knew his young
sister, Gracie, too well to give her a chance in that direction. Their
friends were wont to say that, for one so young - she was only
thirteen - she was all wit and intellect. He felt that that was because
she was his father's daughter. For himself he was positive she was all
precocity and impertinence. And he told himself he was quite

As for his mother, she was one of those gentle Southern women who
declare that no woman has the right to question the doings of the male
members of her household, and, in spite of the luxury with which she
was surrounded, and which she never failed to feel the burden of - she
was originally a small farmer's daughter - still yearned for that homely
meal of her youth, "supper" - a collation of coffee, cakes, preserves
and cold meats.

Experience warned him that he must give her no inkling of the real
facts. She would be too terribly shocked at the revelation.

So, for an hour or more, in the little family circle, in his mother's
splendid boudoir, he talked of everything but his own affairs. Nor was
it until he was in the act of taking his leave that he warned them both
that he was leaving the city for six months. He felt it was a cowardly
thing to do, but, having fired his bombshell in their midst, he fled
precipitately before its stunning effect had time to pass away.

Off he sped, the automobile urged to a dangerous speed, and it was with
a great sense of relief that he finally reached his own apartment on
Riverside Drive.

Letting himself in, he found his man, Harding, waiting for him.

"Mrs. Carbhoy has been ringing you up, sir," he said in the level tones
of a well-trained servant. "She wants to speak to you, sir - most

Gordon hardened his heart.

"Disconnect the 'phone then," he said sharply, and flung himself into a
great settle which stood in the domed hall.

"Very good, sir."

The man was moving away.

"If my mother or sister should come here, I'm out. Send word down to
the office that there's no one in."

The valet's face was quite expressionless. Gordon Carbhoy had his own
way of dealing with his affairs. Harding understood this. He was also
devoted to his master.

"Yes, sir."

He vanished out of the hall.

Left alone a great change came over Gordon. The old buoyancy and humor
seemed suddenly to fall from him. For once his eyes were perfectly,
almost painfully serious. He stared about him, searching the
remoteness of his surroundings, his eyes and thoughts dwelling on the
luxury of the apartment he had occupied for the last three years. It
was a two-floored masterpiece of builder's ingenuity. It was to be his
home no longer.

That splendid domed hall had been the scene of many innocent revels.
Yes, in spite of the accusation of immorality, his parties had been
innocent enough. He had entertained the boys and girls of his
acquaintance royally, but - innocently. Well, that was all done with.
It was just a memory. The future was his concern.

The future. And that depended on his own exertions. For a moment the
seriousness of his mood lifted. Surely his own exertions as a business
man was a broken reed to - - What about failure? What was to
follow - failure? He hadn't thought of it, and his father hadn't spoken
of it.

Suddenly the cloud settled again, and a sort of panic swept over him.
Did his father intend to - kick him out? It almost looked like it. And
yet - - Had he intended this stake as his last? What a perfect fool
he had been to refuse the hundred thousand dollars. Then, in a moment,
his panic passed. He was glad he had done so - anyway.

He selected a cigar from his case and sniffed at it. He remembered his
father's. His handsome blue eyes were twinkling. His own cigars cost
half a dollar more than his father's, and the fact amused him. He cut
the end carefully and lit it. Then he leaned back on the cushions and
resigned himself to the reflection that these things, too, must go with
the rest. They, too, must become a mere memory.

"Harding!" he called.

The man appeared almost magically.

"Harding, have you ever smoked a - five-cent cigar?" he inquired

Online LibraryRidgwell CullumThe son of his father → online text (page 1 of 24)