The Sale of Huntley Hall:
was dull. In fact, so far as the sale of suburban lots on the ten-down ten-amonth plan was concerned, business had been absolutely flattened -ut by the war road-roller. Harvey Grimes, as president and sales manager of the Sure-Thing Real Estate Co., had been selling lots by the dozen before the war, but had not turned over a nickel’s worth of business since. Which explains an ominous sag to the corners of his mouth and a deep corrugation of his brow, signifying concentrated thought on the question of bread and blankets.
When Harvey Grimes failed to make sales there was something radically wrong with conditions.
He had never been known to fail before. With every type of human duly classified and filed away in his mind, and a special canvass on the tip of his tongue for each type, Harvey had been irresistible. As an index to his special brand of salesmanship let us quote Talk No. 9, or, as Grimes had it catalogued, Straight Stuff for the Horney Handed. Fixing an unwilling mechanic with forefinger elevated at the angle of accusation, he would proceed somewhat as follows:
“You’ve never made any easy money, have you? Always found every lonely little dollar as hard to grab and hog-tie as a greased pig. Sweat of your brow and all that, huh? Know why? I do. You haven’t got enough gumption to use the brains you’ve got. Think you can’t cop any of the easy coin, don’t you? Perhaps you’re waiting till old man Opportunity comes up with his name and address lettered on the front of his jersey and hands you a new supply of grey matter and a book of instructions. And that’s where you’re in wrong. Opportunities don’t come to no one. You make ’em yourself or some obliging guy, like me, comes along and makes ’em for you.
“Now, listen. I’m going to give you a lesson in first aid to easy money. How
did John D. and J. Pierpont and Bill Mackenzie and Dan Mann and all the rest of them get their start? I’ll tell you. They bought land. Went right down into their overalls and dug up enough dust to make first payment on a dinky little 1 o t away back somewhere. Turned it over, bought another, bought two, bought three, unloaded them at the right time and the right price, bought a few acres of cow pasture and slivered them up into choice residential lots, sold ’em, bought railroads, motor cars and now all they need is lawn mowers to keep the coupons clipped. Want to be a John D. or a Bill or a Dan, yourself? Gather around, brother. There’s only one key to Big Business. And I got it!”
By the time he had completed a half-hour’s canvass on the same rapid-fire order, the prospect had been talked into a condition of coma with just strength enough left to wield a fountain pen. This, before the war ; since, Harvey’s real estate rhetoric had been about as effective as a spatter of buckshot on the hull of a Dreadnought. The slogan of ten-down and ten-a-month had lost its pull.
No wonder then that worry showed itself on the usually placid brow of Harvey Grimes. With feet up on his desk and his gaze fixed abstractedly on the patch of daylight which filtered through the unglazed half of his office window, he ruminated on conditions in general and board bills in particular.
“It serves me right,” he said. “I shouldn’t have gone in for this piking game. Just as soon as things go bad, the ten-down crowd are dead ones in this business. If I’d gone in for something man’s size, I wouldn’t be sitting here now so near the end of the gold reserve that my pockets yawn out of sheer emptiness. Big deals can always be pulled off—so I’ve heard. And there’s one thing certain, if I’m going to continue to eat, something has sure got to be turning up soon.”
Picking up the newspaper that lay on his desk, he scanned its columns with renewed interest in the hope of striking something which might suggest a plan of action. Whether he found it or not, his attention finally riveted on one item and he was studying it with every indication of interest when the door of his office opened and a girl walked in. She was such a pretty girl and had such a bright cheerful smile, showing up two of the most charming dimples imaginable, that gloom vanished from the room simultaneously with the touch of her neatly gloved hand on the door knob. Harvey Grimes dropped his paper and greeted the last survivor of his sales force with a smile.
“Hello, Nora,” he said. “Say, but you do look rosy and prosperous. Can’t see how you keep those furs out of the clutches of your uncle when I’m getting uncomfortably close to the bread line myself.”
“I saved when the business was coming right,” she asserted, seating herself on the opposite side of the desk; a move which caused Grimes’ feet to their proper level with celerity. “I was putting over sales every day for a while there, you remember.”
“Sure, I remember,” assented Grimes. “But what I want to know is, how many lots have you sold to-day?”
“Sold? To-day?” she asked, with tragic emphasis. “Have a heart, Harve. If we were offering the whole of Yonge street for a dime, I couldn’t sell enough land to fill a salt-shaker. Honest, you can’t give lots away nowadays.”
“When the beaucheous Nora Callahan owns up that she’s beaten, it’s time us ordinary salesmen got off the map,” said Grimes. Then lapsing into the serious, he thumped his desk emphatically. “But I tell you what it is, Nora, my girl. We’ve got to get out of the piker class. We’ve got to put over something big. There’s just as much chance to pull off a big deal as ever.”
“For instance?” she queried.
Grimes picked up the newspaper, squared his elbows on the table and started to read:
“Hornee Bulwer, erstwhile Cobalt King, arrived in the city to-day and is registered at the King Edward. Mr. Bulwer is now interested in mining ventures in the new fields north of Porcupine, and is reported to have augmented his previously substantial fortune. With the advent of cold weather, he has deserted the north country and will probably remain In Toronto for the winter.”
“I know all about this busher from the bullion league. Somebody's going to get a little of Mr. Horace Bulwer’s money,” commented Grimes. “And it might just as well be us. If he’s going to stay here all winter he’ll need a house. Tell you what we’ll do, Nora. We’ll just sell him Huntley Hall.”
The girl laughed, a light, rippling laugh which in the past had helped, by the way, to close many a sale for her; a fact fully appreciated and by no means overlooked.
“Back to earth, Harve,” she protested. “Don’t let that bright fancy of yours go aeroplaning so often. Sell Huntley Hall! Try something easy.”
“Huntley Hall, built on order of old English country house, situated a mile from the city limits, in deep park of stately oaks, twenty rooms, furnished splendidly, former owner left country, to be had for reasonable price,” quoted Grimes.
“Just the very thing for this man Bulwer. He simply couldn’t resist it—if it’s put up to him in the right way, to wit, by one Nora Callahan.”
“That place is the worst white elephant on the market,” asserted the girl out of the fullness of six months’ experience. “It’s been unoccupied a year. And, if I’m any judge, it will be empty for several years after we’ve made our fortunes and quit the business—and you know what that means.”
“Seriously, Nora, I guess you’re right,” conceded Grimes. “The old pile is about as saleable just now as open-work socks in Alaska. And from what I hear it would take a squad of policemen to drag this miner fellow out to Huntley Hall; that is, if you went at him in the regulation way. They’ve tried to sell him everything under the sun. But—I have a plan. It’s just buzzing aimlessly around in my thinks exchange so far, but pretty soon I’ll get it worked out and the details figured and then I’ll spring it on you in all its grandeur. I’ll need your assistance in this. In fact, I’m going to cast you for the star roll and I’ll split with you on the proceeds, fifty-fifty.”
“Let me help you to pin the idea down,” suggested the girl. “Your one fault, Harve, is that you let these brilliant ideas of yours buzz around aimlessly too long. They’re apt to get dizzy.”
“This idea,” declared Grimes, “doesn’t
fall short of an inspiration. It hinges on some inside information I’ve got about this man Bulwer. Anything that looks like an adventure or a romance goes with him every time. At the same time he’s
had so many tricks tried on him by salesmen that’s he is gun-shy. By the way, if I had on a full set of side whiskers and a reddish toupee would I look much like Sanderson Huntley?’
“There would still be points of difference,” said the girl critically. “Huntley was rather a distinguished looking man, as far as my recollection of him goes. But if you managed to forget who you were for the time, Harve, you wouldn’t look totally unlike him.”
“Thanks,” said Grimes, shortly, “As you know, Huntley was a bachelor. What I’d like to be sure of is, did he have any sisters?”
“No. He hadn’t,” answered the girl.
“Well,” asserted Grimes. “We’re going to give him one then. And you’re going to be it.”
“See here, Mr. Grimes, come across with this idea of yours right away,” she demanded.
“Can’t tell you yet,” chuckled the salesman. “It’ll all depend on whether we can get this Horace Bulwer to go out to the place. If he goes, you’ll manage the rest of it. Hustle along home now and practice those dimples of yours and that blamed little trick of laughing with a trill in the middle of each note. You’ll need ’em.”
HORACE BULWER emerged from the hands of the hotel barber looking more like a modern Adonis than ever. He was a picture of healthy content from the crown of his close-cropped head to the soles of his neat patent leathers. That money was no object to Horace Bulwer was evident in the exquisite perfection of every detail of his dress.
Slipping into his overcoat, he was preparing to brave the shrill January blasts, when his valet appeared in a hurry from the direction of the elevators and intercepted him. When in the north, Bulwer lived on canned beans and flap-jacks and wore blue jeans and cowhide boots the same as the rest of the mining fraternity. But in Toronto he had a valet and every comfort, real or supposed, that wealth could provide.
“Something most strange has happened, sir,” said the valet in a hoarse whisper. “A man came up to your rooms, sir—a little old chap with long white whiskers and a grey plug hat. He had a very high pitched voice—I’d know it again anywheres—and he says to me, ‘Tell Mr. Bulwer, the time has come. We are waiting for the signal.’ ”
“Have you been drinking, Johnson?” demanded Bulwer, turning a look of stern enquiry on his man.
“Not a drop, sir,” protested the valet. “Those are his very words. He made me repeat them over, sir, so I’d get them right.” '
“Is it a new begging stunt?” suggested Bulwer, unconcernedly. “Or was he just an ordinary nut?”
“He didn’t seem crazy, sir,” said the valet. “And he didn’t ask for anything.” “Well,” said Bulwer, drawing on his fur gauntlets, “if he comes back, kick him one in the ribs for me, Johnson, and as many more as you like for yourself.”
It was next day at luncheon that Johnson approached the table, where his master was busily engaged, with an air of mystery that carried with it a suggestion of portentous happenings.
“The old party’s been back, sir,” he whispered. “He popped in soon after you left the rooms and says, “Tell, Mr. Bulwer the pass word will be Now or Never and that the Crown Princess has been asking for him.’ His very words, sir.” Bulwer shoved his chair back from the table impatiently and stood up.
“Someone’s putting up a practical joke on me,” he declared. “I’ll catch them at it if I have to stay right on the job for a month.”
For a day and a half Horace Bulwer never left his rooms, even having his meals served there. During that time the mysterious caller did not again put in an appearance. Getting impatient at the unusual restraint thus put on his activities, Bulwer finally decided to go out for a tramp. Returning in an hour’s time for lunch, he found that the third call had been paid in his absence.
“He’s been here again,” said Johnson, showing the germs of a suspicion that his master was living a double life.
“Well, what was the message this time?” snapped Bulwer.
“ ‘Frankel has arrived,’ ” quoted Johnson, voicing each word carefully. ‘They will need the million to-night sure.’ ”
“Why, hang it, I believe it’s some round-about black hand game,” said Bulwer, showing real uneasiness for the first time. “I’ll get a private detective on this case right away.”
Leaving the hotel with the object of calling on his lawyers, Bulwer was just in time to see a little man with long white whiskers and a grey plug hat climbing into an automobile and to hear him give a hurried direction to the driver in a highpitched, quavery voice.
“That’s my man, sure!” said Bulwer to himself.
There was only one other car in sight, a taxi drawn conveniently up near the curb. He took possession of it at once. “Follow that red car just turning the corner,” he directed the driver.
The chase led them up Yonge street for a couple of miles, then off to the east through a winding maze of cross streets, until Bulwer, who was not well acquainted with the city, hardly knew where he was. Finally they got beyond the closely settled section and ran for half a mile along roads that were sparsely dotted with houses. Another half-mile through a farming section brought them to an imposing park, surrounded by a high stone wall. The car carrying the mysterious caller turned in at a pillared gateway and rolled out of sight along a curving drive. The chauffeur turned around with a nod of enquiry toward the gate.
“Right on,” directed Bulwer. “We’ll follow them to the finish.”
Accordingly they stopped in a few minutes in front of an imposing pile of grey stone with battlemented walls and a tower that was reminiscent almost of feudal days. The other car, empty, was drawn up at one side of the main entrance.
“Good day, Mr. Bulwer,” said a voice from the doorway. “Won’t you come in?”
The voice proceeded from a tall man of distinguished appearance, with reddish hair and luxuriant side-whiskers of the same hue. He bowed courteously as he spoke.
“Oh, I don’t mind if I do,” said Bulwer, with a return of his habitual easy nonchalance.
The tall man led the way through a lofty hall to a small room in the rear, which apparently served as a den. Bulwer got a hasty impression as he traversed the hall of a broad, winding stairway, a brick fire-place of gigantic proportions and walls covered with paintings and trophies of the chase. “Some place, this,” he said to himself.
His host seated him in a comfortable leather chair, but remained standing himself. To Bulwer it looked almost as though he stood in readiness for any course of action which might become necessary.
“Expecting me, it seems,” said the miner.
“Yes, we were,” said his host.
“Look here, was all that hanky-panky just a trick to get me to follow all the way out here?” asked Bulwer, grinning in spite of himself.
“Exactly,” replied the other. “We desired your company so much that we went to all that trouble. By close analysis of what was known of your character and your past, we realized that only by some such means could you be persuaded to pay us a visit.”
“Well, let’s talk turkey,” said Bulwer settling himself back comfortably in his chair. “Shoot.”
The other studied him for a moment in silence.
“My name is Sanderson Huntley,” he said, at last. “Have you ever heard of me?”
“No, but don’t take it as an insult,” said Bulwer. “I’m willing to concede that I should know you. But as a matter of fact, I don’t know any of the celebrities here.”
“You should know me,” persisted the other quietly. “You got ten thousand dollars of my money once.”
“What’s that!” said Bulwer, sitting up. “I got ten thousand of yours?”
“I think that is perhaps the most accurate way of putting it,” said Huntley. “The money nominally was invested in the Bulwer Gold Mines Limited. Actually, it was handed over to you. At any rate, I never saw it again.”
Bulwer cleared his throat, a little uneasily. He did not feel at all uneasy or guilty in mind but he began to see difficulties i n presenting an exp lanation that would be satisfactory to this aristocratic but heavyjawed individual towering over him.
He got up himself.
“I had nothing to do with the actual flotation of Bulw e r Gold Mines, Limited,” he began.
“I located the claims, it is true, and was interested heavily in the venture, but the company was floated by Toronto financiers, of whose antecedents and methods I had no previous knowledge.”
“The claims proved worthless,” said the other, sternly, implacably. “They were advertised as being the richest in the district. False reports, telling of purely fic-
titious strikes, were published in the newspapers. The falsity of these reports was proven conclusively later. In company with thousands of others I invested every cent I could spare. I never saw a cent of it again!”
“It was a most unlucky venture,” said Bulwer. “These mining claims in the north are all a gamble anyway. You may make a million or you may go bankrupt. This particular one did not pan out.”
“I for one would never have invested,” said Huntley, “if it had not been for the systematic campaign of lies that was carried on in your name. Whether you were cognizant of the nature of the campaign is quite beside the question. I hold you entirely responsible for the fraud—and its dire consequences.”
“Confound it, man,” declared Bulwer, facing Huntley belligerently. “I was in the same boat as yourself. That miserable crew of swindlers did me as well. I had more money in it than anyone—and I never got a red cent out again!”
Huntley shrugged his shoulders with polite skepticism.
“I am not interested in that phase of it,” he said. All I am interested in is what resulted from that unfortunate venture. It h a s brought me to the point of bankruptcy. As I said before, I hold you responsible. And what I want to know is, what are you going to do about it?”
Bulwer stepped up to the table and pounded it with one powerful fist to lend emphasis to his reply. He was a hard man in a fight of any kind, was this same sleek - looking young giant in i m m a culate dress. In the mining camps he had a reput a t i o n as a fighter, won in many a melee.
“Nothing!” h e declared. “The investigation showed I was not to blame for that affair. I was stung just as badly as anyone. Worse even, for I had more money in it. Why do you want to drag me into this?”
“Because I expect you to pay me back the ten thousand dollars I lost,” said Continued on Page 83.
The Sale of Huntley Hall
Continued from Page 37.
Huntley, calmly. Bulwer walked back to his chair and sat down, laughing boisterously.
“Be sensible, Huntley,” he said. “I’ve often helped a fellow out when he was up against it hard, but as for letting myself be held up like this, nothing doing! Absolutely nothing doing!”
The other paid no attention to the miner’s vehement outburst.
“What I expect you to do,” he pursued, “is to sign out a cheque for me for the ten thousand. Make it out to bearer. Then we’ll keep you here until my man comes back with the money.”
Bulwer laughed again—a laugh which snapped off into something very much like a snarl.
“You go to the devil !” he said. “This is Toronto and in the year 1915. You’re not up in the silver country where a hold-up goes once in awhile or back in the dark ages. Do you think you can scare me into handing over ten thousand dollars to you? Get out of my way, or something will break loose here that’ll sure look uncommonly like trouble.”
He stood up truculently; and found himself looking into the business-end of a revolver.
“Sit down!” commanded Hunffey. “Sit down, I say, “he repeated. Bulwer hesitated, growled, then sat down. Life in mining camps had taught him that there are times when a revolver pointed accurately and held firmly must be respected.
“Look here,” he expostulated. “You can’t get away with this, you know. I just have to raise a holler in here and that taxi driver will put back to the city for
the police. He could have them back here in half an hour.”
“Lynch!” called Huntley.
The chauffeur appeared in the doorway. He also held a revolver and was grinning with vindictive enjoyment of the situation.
“Lynch is with me in this,” explained Huntley. “He was waiting outside the hotel for you. All part of the game, you know. I have two other helpers, both armed and on the premises. And, Bulwer, listen, the nearest house is a quarter of a mile away.”
“I guess you mean business after all,” said Bulwer, beginning to realize the seriousness of his position. “Just the same I meant what I said. I won’t give you a plugged kopek, not if you shoot me full of holes. So just go ahead. You know where I stand. It’s your move.”
“We give you half an hour to think it over,” said Huntley, with a smile. “We’ll leave you here for that length of time. Don’t attempt to leave the room, however. I’ll keep a man at each door and window. If you haven’t come to your senses by that time, we will disclose the means we have decided on to force you to pay up.”
“And what after that? Where could you go after getting the money? I’m asking out of idle curiosity, you know.”
“Plans are made to leave the country at once,” replied Huntley. “This place is mortgaged almost up to its full value. I would leave it without regret and with the ten thousand begin a new life across the line. I’d be in Buffalo almost before you could pour your tale of woe into the ears of the police.”
With which explanation he withdrew, leaving Bulwer in sole possession of the room. The young mining magnate sat down in his chair in a savagely determined mood. Nothing would induce him co give in to this band of robbers. He would fight, and be killed if it came to that, rather than do as they demanded. On this point his mind was irretrievably made up. They would find also that he could fight, that even an unarmed man could sometimes prove a dangerous factor. He straightened himself at the thought of the impending struggle. Bulwer had always enjoyed a fight.
“Don’t speak. Don’t make a sound.” He had been sitting in the chair for about ten minutes when the words came to him from behind, uttered in a low whisper. He turned in surprise, to find that what had appeared to him a solid oak panel in the wall had been shoved back, leaving an opening two feet wide. In this opening was framed the face of a girl, a decidely pretty girl too, with fluffy, dark hair and soft blue eyes and a most alluring supply of dimples ; and in looking at her he forgot all about the predicament he was in.
The girl gravely placed a finger on her1 lips to signify the need for silence on hisi part, motioning him with the other hand. He obeyed and, as the girl slipped back into the darkness behind the opening in the wall, he stepped through. Without any sound the panel was shoved back into place. “Come,” she whispered, taking him by the hand and leading the way in the darkness. They ascended a narrow stairway, which apparently had been built in
the wall, paralleling the main stairway.
“Be careful not to stumble,” admonished the girl. “You are in great danger.” “I certainly was in a ticklish position,” said Bulwer, “but I’ve no complaint with my present one. I hope this stair is long. No, don’t take your hand, away, please. I'll stumble sure, if you do.”
The finish of the ascent brought them to a brightly furnished room that spoke undeniably of feminine occupation.
“This is my boudoir,” said the girl. “I must apologize for bringing you here, but it was the only way to get you safely out of that room.”
Bulwer seated himself comfortably on a couch piled high with cushions and surveyed his surroundings, and his companion, with the highest satisfaction.
“Don’t apologize,” he said. “I assure you I was delighted to get out in any way and especially through such an agreeable agency. Would you mind telling me who I am indebted to?”
“I am Sanderson Huntley’s sister,” she answered in a low voice. “I learned what he was attempting and planned to stop it. You must go without delay—I’ll show you how. But first let me explain why this mad attempt was made.”
She hesitated a moment as though she found it difiicult to proceed with the explanation. When she did speak it was with studiously averted gaze.
“My brother, I fear, has become mentally unbalanced,” she said. “He has never been well enough off to keep up Huntley Hall without difficulty and to make matters worse he has lost large sums in investments at various times. Finally, he became interested in that mining scheme which was—operated under your name. To raise the money to invest in it, he put another mortgage on the hall. Since his loss there, things have gone from bad to worse. The holder of the mortgages has been demanding a settlement and threatening foreclosure. So my brother began to see that his only hope lay in selling the hall and starting life anew on whatever might be left after the mortgages had been paid off. The outbreak of war has made it quite impossible to carry this idea out. We have no money and we have been notified that foreclosure proceedings will be started. I think all his money troubles have driven my brother to desperation. He has behaved most strangely of late. Now—well, you realize that he would not have attempted this had he been in a rational state.” t-, “I have a request to make,” she went on, before he had a chance to speak. “I want you to promise not to say a word about this unfortunate affair. Please try !to forget—and forgive. My brother and I are supposed to be away from the city and people think the hall is closed for the winter; so the story could easily be hushed up, if you would help me.”
The pleading note in her voice was ably seconded by the eloquence of a decidedly potent pair of eyes.
Bulwer concluded that he had never seen a prettier girl in all his life. Her story might not sound exactly convincing, but he was in no mood for critical analysis.
“Miss Huntley, you can rely upon me absolutely,” he assured her, earnestly. “I feel very guiltily about your brother’s losses, but I want to tell you, as I did him, that I wasn’t in on the game myself. They did me for the biggest slice of the lot. But I certainly won’t see him go to the wall over the deal. Tell you what I’ll do, Miss Huntley. I’ll swallow what I just said to them downstairs and make a cheque out to you for the full amount of his losses. It’s coming to him all right and I won’t miss the money.”
“No, no,” she protested, regarding him with a new interest. “You are too generous. I believe what you say fully; and I couldn’t take the money from you. Now I must show you how to get safely out of the grounds before they find you are not in the room. Hurry, please!”
“I won’t go,” declared Bulwer, obstinately. “I’ll stay and face them. If your brother keeps going on at this rate, it won’t be safe for you here.”
“I shall be all right,” she protested. “You really must go. And thanks, a thousand thanks.”
“But I haven’t had a chance to thank you,” he said, getting to his feet reluctantly. “If I go now, will you let me see you again? I won’t budge, if you don’t.”
“Huntley Hall will probably be taken away from us in a few days,” said the girl sadly. “It is not likely that you will ever see me again.”
“But see here,” said Bulwer, “what’s going to become of you? Isn’t there any way out of this? Surely I can be of assistance in some way.”
The girl hesitated a moment before replying.
“If the holder of the mortgages forecloses at this time, we shall probably lose everything,” she said, at last. “If the property were sold at anything like its real value, there would be a little something left. If any of your wealthy friends wanted a house, you might help us by recommending Huntley Hall.”
Bulwer had learned something of minesalting during his fifteen years in the north; and he had, in addition, a keen sense of proportion. This whole adventure had seemed rather too bizarre, too out of joint with everyday reality, to prevent him from hunting for a different motive than the obvious one. He had scented a rodent at the first. The girl’s last words seemed to supply the missing link to his chain of skeptical reasoning.
“I though the real estate crowd had tried out every sales stunt known, on me,” he reflected. “Can this be a new one?”
But—he looked across the room at the girl and found her good. Bulwer’s experience with women of beauty had been long and varied. He had thought he knew every type. But here undeniably was a new one, an intensely interesting type—in fact the only girl who had ever made his reliable, steady-going heart skip beats half a dozen to the minute.
Bulwer had always known how to make up his mind. It had taken him five minutes once to decide to invest a half million dollars in a doubtful mining venture. He
now gave something less than five seconds to the most momentous question that would ever come up in the course of his life; and in that time wavering conviction crystalized into a clear resolution. He decided that he wanted this girl.
Being also a man of action, he crossed the room, sat down beside her and captured both her hands.
“I’ll buy Huntley Hall myself,” he said. “But on one condition. I must get everything that goes with the place.”
“But—” protested the girl.
“That includes you,” he explained. “I begin to suspect that I’ve fallen in love with you. I might as well warn you that you needn’t attempt to evade the issue or to think you can get out of having me. When I make up my mind about anything —well, I always get what I want.”
He did. He proved an even more effective talker than the glib Mr. Grimes for in four mintues and a half he had carried his point and had secured a verbal confirmation of a life contract. It took considerably longer than that to seal the agreement.
“And now that I’ve got you signed up,” said Bulwer, after a considerable lapse of time, “what I’d like to know is just how much of a frame-up this whole thing was.”
* * *
TM" EXT day Harvey Grimes sat in his office chair and gazed almost with veneration at a slip of paper lying on the desk in front of him. The door opened to admit Nora Callahan, looking prettier and more radiant than ever.
“Sit down, Nora,” exclaimed Grimes, grandiloquently. “I want to feast my eyes on you. Girl, you’re a wonder. And here is our reward,a little old cheque for seven thousand five hundred dollars, half yours and half mine.”
“Everything did go off well, didn’t it,” said the girl, almost abstractedly.
“It certainly did,” affirmed Grimes. “He came in this morning and in two hours time we had the whole business finished up and the cheques signed. Believe me, it was a record deal. You certainly had him gaffed for fair.”
“No,” said the girl. “He saw through it before the deal was closed. And he made a counter proposition to me, which I accepted—as the deal would have fallen through otherwise, you know.”
“What was it?” demanded Grimes suspiciously.
“Well, you see,” began the girl, “he said he didn't need a home as he wasn’t married, but he would buy the place if I would—well—”
“Exactly,” interrupted Grimes. “And you consented to marry him. Nora, girl, you worked those dimples and the laugh not wisely but too well. Why I thought that you—I—”
“We’re to be married this afternoon,” went on the girl. He’s a most tempestuous man, this future husband of mine. He broke all records in proposing and he’s determined to break the marrying record too—so he says.”
“Yes, yes,” said Grimes. “Come on, Mrs. Millionairess and we’ll go out and cash this cheque. Do you suppose half of
it will keep you in pin money for a week or so now?”
“It’s all your’8, Harve,” she protested. “I really won’t need it now, you know.”
“Since you insist,” said Grimes.
After she had gone, he remained seated for some minutes, gazing moodily at the floor.
“And here I was counting on this deal to provide me with the means to marry the girl myself,” he reflected. Then his glance transferred itself to the cheque on the desk. Slowly the gloom disappeared and a smile took its place. “Well, after all, a woman is only a woman while a good cheque is—food and drink and a general soft time as long as you can make it spin out.”