Gutch of the Stock Exchange
THE “bears” had been caught “short,” and everybody in the House—except Loder’s broker, that is—was very sorry for them. The group of men standing by the chocolate and apple stall in Shorter’s Court involuntarily bent their heads and stared at the flagstones, as if a hearse were driving by, when Arthur Saville came out of No. 3 door.
“Poor beggar!” they murmured as
he passed, his face drawn and haggard, speaking no word to anyone.
Walter Loder had brought off a “rig” of the most complete and successful order. His exact connection with the Invigorator had never been explained, but everyone knew that he was the leading spirit in the flotation of that notorious patent medicine known as Kirk’s Invariable Invigorator. The Invigorator was a household word, as the advertisement said
with considerable truth. Kirk, in his lifetime, had boasted that he spent three-quarters of a million a year in advertising. There was not a spot in the country where the name did not appear. You found it on mountains ; it glared at you from sky-signs in red and green and yellow. The trawlers of an entire fishing village in the West Country bore the legend of the Invigorator on their sails when they went to sea. All along the main lines of the kingdom weary passengers gazed on one continuous succession of hoardings, setting forth the qualities of the Invigorator. What diseases it could not cope with were unknown to the medical profession ; from housemaid's knee to smallpox it was an inevitable cure. Suffering humanity owed a debt to Kirk, according to Kirk; and it must be allowed to the credit of Kirk that he saw that humanity paid it—with interest at about lo.ooo per cent.
In his looser moments—and towards the end of his triumphal career in this world Kirk had several looser moments—this benefactor of mankind would confess that his recipe was one drop of strychnine and ten stone of old iron to a gallon of water. As the quarter-pint bottles of the Invigorator were sold for 2s i^d, his profits may be readily gauged.
Walter Loder had offered the public the right of becoming proprietors in this universal panacea by placing on the market 35.000 £10 shares in the Invigorator Company, Limited. Before the allotment took place, the shares were quoted at a premium of 30s. As the price asked for the concern was considered excessive, several speculators in the House put in their applications in the ordinary way, and sold against them at the market premium without waiting to receive their allotment papers.
This was Loder’s opportunity. The “bears” must get the shares they had sold, to deliver them to their purchasers. They wanted in all 30,000 shares ; Loder allotted them 10,000. The balance of 35,000 shares stood in
the share register against the names of his nominees. Clamoring for the deficit of 20,000 shares, the “bears” approached Loder. He met them with a smile of sweet reasonableness. They could have the shares—most certainly ; they could have the whole block of 20,000—no difficulty about it at all. And the price was a mere song—simply £20 a share. The “bears” laughed—a little uneasily, perhaps—and said it wasn’t altogether a bad joke for Loder. Loder confessed engagingly that he himself had thought the situation not entirely devoid of humorous possibilities. He was asked to name the real price. He seemed surprised, and declared he thought he had mentioned it a few seconds before. It was £20 a share. That was the price to-day, at least ; to-morrow it would be £30. The “bears” went away growling. The older hands hastened to purchase at the ruling price. But the younger speculators held out ; they were not going to be robbed.
Among the number was Arthur Saville. He had sold 1,500 shares and had been allotted only 500. Day after day he waited, thinking that the “rig” must break, and day after day Loder put up the price £10 per share, until at last it stood at £60. To make good his shortage of 1,000 shares, Saville would have to pay Loder £60,000, losing over the transaction £47,500. He had realized that he was hopelessly in the toils, and that he could not escape until he had parted with every penny he possessed.
Automatically Saville made his way through the crowded streets to a little grey paved courtyard, and turned into the office of his friend, Coverley Gutch. To go to Gutch -when he was in business difficulties was fairly futile ; for Gutch was regarded notoriously as the most unbusiness-like jobber in the House. But Gutch was his friend, and Saville needed at that moment the comforting moral support of a friend, rather than the advice of a business man. The horse was already out of the stable, and it was
useless to bother about shutting the door.
“Gutch, I’m ruined.”
He threw' the words like a challenge at the man, who stood with his big, six-foot body bent over a glass case. Coverley Gutch turned a sunburnt, jolly, schoolboyish face to gaze for a second at his visitor.
“Ab-so-lute-ly?” he questioned, in a hearty, matter-of-fact tone of voice.
Saville nodded drearily.
“Yes, you look it. I say—'have you seen my wheat ? They can only grow one gallon to every 129 square feet in Denmark, and I'm getting a tenth of a gallon here on a square foot. That’s so. Walker, isn’t it?”
He turned excitedly to the third man in the room—a man of about fortytwo, with the unmistakable build of an old soldier.
“Happen, Mr. Gutch, if we keep on teasin’ ’em with that there liquid muck.”
He gazed with eyes of unquestioning faith at the eight ill-looking green shoots that protruded through the black soil under the glass case.
“Hullo, Arthur ! Whatever is the matter, old chap?”
Saville had sunk into a chair and buried his white, drawn face in his hands.
Gutch crossed the room and put one of his big hands on Saville’s shoulder. The momentary attitude of protection was significant of the relations between the twTo men. Ever since their Cambridge days, Coverley Gutch, the athlete, the Rugby football “blue,” had been the friend and protector of the other, whose very weaknesses had appealed to his more virile nature.
“Tell us all about it, old chap?”
In broken sentences Saville laid bare the details of his ruin. Standing behind him, Gutch listened, gazing at the mirror that hung on the opposite wall, and absently fingering the violently colored Japanese tie—yellow spots on a red 'background—which he wore. When Saville had finished, Gutch broke into a long-drawn whistle, which culminated, quite unexpectedly, in a
perfectly rendered performance of the first part of the overture from “Pinafore.” He stopped abruptly, with a shame-faced glance at the stolid countenance of Walker.
“Sorry,” he muttered, under his breath, and finding that his lips were framing themselves for another performance, he began to walk up and down the room.
“So Coder's worked this ‘rig,” has he? It’s of no blamed consequence to the world, of course, but I think lie’s a dirty scoundrel. Remember Lieutenant Walter Loder. George?”
“Aye, la-ad ; that I do,” retorted Walker in his homely Yorkshire. “Wanted to break me coomin’ back in ship after I'd served twenty-one years. If it hadn’t been for you—”
“That’ll do, George, thank you. Your habit of yarning is turning you into another Bill Adams.”
Walker scratched his head, and was understood to say “that he had never heard tell on Bill Adams”; all he recollected was that, coming home from the war, on getting his discharge, he had found himself in the same troopship with that contingent of Imperial Yeomanry in which Gutch was a corporal and Loder a lieutentant. For some petty offence Loder had placed him on the punishment list. It w'ould have been the only mark against him on his papers after twenty-one years’ exemplary service, but it was enough to ruin his chances in civil life. Gutch, indignant at the unfairness of it all, had, in handing the charge-list to the orderly sergeant, allowed the wind to carry this record of petty offences out to sea. Walker had escaped, and by way of showing his gratitude, had demanded employment of Gutch. In due course he was installed as handy-man and manager of the intensified culture farm, which was Gutch’s one hobby—unless a weakness for Japanese ties could be so designated.
“Of course, we must break Loder— that’s settled. Pull your socks up, Arthur, and look pleasant.”
Saville turned a face of utter misery to his friend.
"It's all very well for you to be so joliv cheerful,” he said, viciously, “but I am ruined: and there’s more than that behind it all. Loder’s making the running with Mary through her brute of a stepmother, and I shall lose her and everything I care for in the world.”
Gutch got through three bars of the “Pilgrim’s Chorus” before he could check himself.
“That’ll be all right. Arthur ; don’t you worry—I’ll manage it.”
“You? Why, you know as much about business as a cat. Loder could run rings round you every time. Don’t talk rot !”
“I know I’m a fool at business,” said Gutch quietly, “ab-so-lute-ly ; but there’s always my luck. You clear off, Arthur, and go and knock a ball about on the links. It’ll brace you up.”
Saville dragged himself wearily from the room. Quite unwittingly he had been accustomed for years to follow his friend’s directions. That afternoon he gave the worst exhibition of golf that had ever been seen at Wembley.
Left alone, Gutch sent his clerk out with certain instructions. Half an hour later he was reading some pencilled notes, setting forth the names of the sharerolders, together with a list of their holdings, in the Invigorator Company, Limited.
“It’s ab-so-lute-ly rotten, George,” he said to his handyman, when the latter brought in his tea ; “but vou’ll have to make up that bed on the farm yourself to-night. I’m full up with business.”
Crabbe House—called after the old poet, who used to visit there in the early days of the nineteenth century— stood in the middle of Hampstead Heath, surrounded by beeches, pines, and silver birches. It was a magnificent specimen of Georgian architecture, the envy of all lovers of the beautiful, and the pet antipathy of Mrs.
Allan. A smart residence in Kensington Palace Gardens, or a pill-box at a rental of £100 a room, overlooking the Park, was the dream of her life. To be saddled with this “old, crazy barracks, bored her stiff,” she said, in her American way. That her stepdaughter, Mary, adored it tended to increase the secret aversion she felt for her dead husband’s only child.
Mrs. Allan was thirty-two, and her stepdaughter twenty-two, and therefore to be regarded, according to Mrs. Allan’s code, as a rival. What she could do to make herself unpleasant she did. Every wish, every opinion that Mary expressed she opposed. Because Mary had a weakness for Arthur Saville she practically forbade him the house by a system of veiled insults and bitter sarcasms that touched the tender-hearted stockbroker to the quick. Because Mary had expressed a dislike for Walter Loder, Loder was always a welcome guest at Crabbe House, and Mrs. Allan did everything possible to forward his suit. She was never tired of dinning in the girl’s ears her doctrine of materialism. Loder had money, made money, and had a trick of attracting money into his banking account, and was altogether the ideal personage. She knew a “sure thing” when she saw it, and Loder was going to be a billionaire, “mark her words.” On the other hand, Arthur Saville was no better than “the change out of a two-cent piece.” When Loder, for the purposes of his “rig,” allotted Mary 15,000 shares in the Invigorator Company, she regarded it as the noblest expression of a man’s love of which the world had record. Mary took the shares for the sake of peace, quite careless of their value, and almost ignorant of what they meant.
The haze of a summer night had fallen over the Heath. Lovers, sitting on seats and beneath gorse bushes, under the friendly shadow of the darkening sky, allowed themselves a freer expression of their beliefs in the idyllic beauty of their respective Helens. Jane, the under-hpusemaid at
Crabbe House, had snatched an odd half-hour to chat with an amorous butcher’s boy. Having watched her swain depart, until the glow of his lighted Woodbine had vanished in the growing darkness, she was about to return to her duties, when her steps were stayed by the sudden appearance of a tall man from behind the barricade of bushes that stood near the side entrance to the grounds.
“Emily,” said the man, coming to-
wards her with quick strides, “don’t go away; I want to speak to you.” “Go on, imperence ; my name ain’t Emily.”
“It ought to be Ermyntrude,” said the man, insinuatingly.
She could see him quite clearly now. He was very well dressed in dark tweed, with a tie, as she explained afterwards, “a lovely duck of a thing, all yellow spots and red.” She had no intention of going away, not
she. Besides, Ermyntrude was the invariable name of all the stately Norman-blooded heroines of her particular taste in literature.
“Garn !” she said, implying by the tone she used, rather than the expression itself, that his company was far from displeasing.
“There’s somebodv else a-courting
“I want you to do something for me; you’re such a nice girl that I am sure you’ll do it.”
“I knew you would. I want you to ask Miss Allen to come out and meet me here—without letting anybody know, of course.”
Jane scented a romance.
“My ! do you want to keep company with her?”
The engaging stranger took something from his pocket and put it in her hand. Jane saw it was a sovereign, and called him “Sir” after that.
of her, sir. But between you and me and the gate-post, I don’t think Miss Mary sets much store on him. He’s with her now—Mr. Loder.”
The stranger started to whistle something, and then stopped.
“Ah! Mr. Walter Loder. Well, like the nice girl you are, you give her my message. Say I come from Mr. Saville. I’ll wait in there behind the shrubbery,”
Jane set off at once on her errand, and Coyerley Gutch took up his position in the shrubbery that flanked the drive. He waited about ten minutes. Presently he heard footsteps, and the sound of voices coming from the direction of the house. Gradually, as the sounds came nearer, he could distinguish what was being said.
“You refuse to believe me, then, Miss Allan?”
It was Loder speaking—speaking in that clear, impressive voice which had swayed so many meetings of angryshareholders.
“If you mean that I don't think Mr. Savrlle is a gambler and a “waster,’ as you call him—no, I don’t.”
“I am sorry. It was your own peace of mind I was thinking of. I wished to save you the shock of learning the truth later. Arthur Saville is ruined, hopelessly ruined.”
Gutch, through the leaves, saw Mary Allan start. She spoke hesitatingly.
“By gambling and a course of wild speculation that is nothing more than criminal. Before another month is out he will be hammered on the Stock Exchange, and his brief business career will end in dishonor. And this is the man you have set your affections on !”
“Even if it were true, I love him.”
She spoke quietly and with dignity, betraying neither by voice nor manner anything of the deep emotions that her words signified. Loder seemed to watch her closely.
“Well, well, Miss Allan, I won’t say anything more about him. Perhaps in time you .will think differentes
ly. You know I love you—you know—”
She made a little despairing motion of protest with her hand.
“I won’t say anything more, as you wish it. Just one thing I had forgotten, before I say good-night. Would you mind letting me have that transfer? You have signed it, haven’t you ?”
“Yes, I have signed it.”
“It seems a shame to bother you, especially as it is all due to my own carelessness. I should have got you to sign a transfer when I allotted you the shares ; but I was so anxious you should have them, and have an interest in what is a very sound investment that I quite overlooked the matter. It’s for purely technical reasons that I want to hold the transfer; the shares, of course, are yours. May I come back to the house with you and get it?”
She was staring contemplatively at the gravelled drive, and for a few seconds she made no answer.
“I will say good-night now, Mr. Loder. I have changed my mind about transferring the shares.”
Gutch with difficulty suppressed an almost uncontrollable desire to whistle a triumphal march. For a second it seemed something had stirred the depths of Loder’s emotions.
“You are talking nonsense, Miss Allan. You haven’t paid a penny piece for the shares, and they really belong to me.”
“You told me they were mine, and you told my stepmother that they were worth far more than their face value. It is true I don’t wrant them, and never did want them, but they might be of use to Mr. Saville.”
Loder gave vent to a long-drawn “Ah !”
“This is utter nonsense. I am not going to have my business ruined by such an absurdity. I shall see your stepmother, Miss Allan.”
Without another word he strode past her back to the house, leaving Miss Allan standing with hands tightly
clenched and downcast eyes. Gutch waited till the sound of the footsteps on the gravel had ceased, and then pushed his way through the barrier of laurels.
“Ab-so-lute-ly fine, Miss Allan.”
The girl started, looking with frightened wonder at Hie huge figure of the man who stood before her.
“Are you the gentleman who has a message for me from Mr. Saville?”
“I haven’t a message, but I want to see yqu in his interest. I am Gutch— Coverley Gutcli, a very old friend of Arthur's. You don’t mind, I hope; but I could not help overhearing all that fellow said.”
“Was it true?”
“Well, partly. It’s of no consequence in the world, of course, but Walter Loder’s a dirty scoundrel. He’s caught Arthur ‘short.’ Poor old fellow, he’s sold a thousand more Invigorators than he’s got, and to deliver them to the people who have bought them he's got to buy them himself from Loder, and Loder intends to make him pay any fancy price he likes. Arthur’ll be ruined unless you help him.”
“Oh, Mr. Gutch, how can I help him? I would do anything in the world—”
“Ab-so-lute-ly—of course you would. What’s more, you hit upon the very plan of doing it. I found that you’d been allotted 15.000, and was coming to you to make the same suggestion as you proposed to that fellow just now.”
“Take the shares, Mr. Gutch, if that will save Arthur.”
“I have got a little plan in my head, Miss Allan, to get Arthur out of this mess, and to teach Mr. Walter Loder the sort of lesson he has been wanting this long while. If you’ll give me a ‘call option’ on your shares at £12 apiece—that is to say, give me the right to buy them at that price by next settling day—that’s a fortnight from now, I’ll square the whole thing. It sounds rather like asking you to give me a million and a half at the present price of Invigorators, but you’ll stand to make a profit, and if I am to euchre
Loder I must control the whole block.”
She held out her hand to him gratefully.
“Thank you—thank you, Mr. Gutch. I trust you implicitly.”
"That’s all right, ab-so-lute-ly. Now about this transfer; crafty old fox, Loder—forgot to get your transfer when he allotted you the shares. He’s frightened now of any leakage. If anybody else got your shares, he’d be in trouble. You must tear up that transfer you’ve signed, otherwise we shan’t be able to do much. Let me have it, and I’ll do it myself. There mustn’t be any mistake.”
“Come up with me to the house. The paper is in my sitting-room. I can let you in through the French windows.”
She turned as she spoke, and Gutch followed. Halfway up the drive she struck across a little path that led over the lawn to the side of the house. Suddenly she stopped, and put a trembling hand on Gutch’s arm.
“Look,” she whispered, “there’s a light in my room. Nobody ever goes there except myself.”
Gutch moved quickly, with the soft tread of the trained athlete, towards the large French windows from which there poured a stream of light. The blinds were not drawn. Standing in the shadow, with Miss Allan by his side, he could see into the room.
There were two persons there, Loder, and a tall, stylishly-dressed woman, whom Gutch guessed to be Mrs. Allan. Loder had a poker in his hand, trying to force upon the escritoire in which Mary Allan kept her papers. Even as they looked, the lid sprang back. Mrs. Allan laughed, and said something which they could not hear. Then both of them began turning over the papers. Presently, Loder opened a folded sheet, which Gutch could see, from the red wafers with which it was dotted, was the transfer Mary Allan had signed.
They saw Loder smile blandly at Mrs. Allan, and put away the paper in his pocket-book. In another moment
the electric light was switched off, and the two conspirators had left the room.
“Go back into the house,” Gutch whispered. “F'll settle with Mr. Walter Loder, don’t you worry.”
Miss Allan obeyed his directions without another word. Left alone, Gutch ran quickly down the drive. Near the gate, a huge cedar cast its shadow over the garden. Here it was quite dark, now that the night had come. Not even the white glow of a sky of stars pierced the blackness. Coverley Gutch pressed himself closely against the garden wall. To the left of him was the gate ; to the right, the fringe of laurel bushes, and above him the great sweeping arms of the cedar.
A man came swinging down the drive, 'humming to himself, evidently well pleased with the world. It was Loder. He hesitated a moment at the gate, fumbling with the latch. Suddenly an iron grip fastened upon his neck. In a second he was flung like a sack of flour on his back. Before he could utter a sound or cry for help, somebody sat deliberately on his face, making speech impossible. He gurgled hopelessly like a drowning man. He felt the pocket of his coat being rifled. For five seconds, perhaps, he lay there helpless ; then his assailant leapt to his feet, and seizing him, before he even thought of struggling, flung him incontinently among the laurel bushes.
He heard the swing of the gate and the sound of a man running; but he could see no one. Shaking and trembling, he struggled to his feet. Instinctively his hand went to his breastpocket. His pocket-book was still there. He took it out, feeling among the papers. A little cry escaped him, and he ran, staggering 'like a drunken man, out of the shadow of the cedar into the white light of the stars. There he peered closely at the papers in his book. The transfer was gone !
Though the House was crowded with jobbers and their clerks, “things”
were very quiet. Business was being transacted with prosaic method and dispatch. In the general atmosphere of relaxation, the idlers gave themselves up to practical joking. A goodnatured elderly man with a bald head, surrounded by six or seven of the younger members, was listening with as much composure as possible to the singing of “There is No Parting There.” In another quarter of the House a broker, his cheeks suffused with blushes, was being followed by a small group chanting “The Power of Love,” to commemorate his approaching nuptials.
When Coverley Gutch entered, there was no trace of his adventure of the previous night in his beaming, goodnatured face. He stood the volley of chaff with which his tie was greeted —a fantasy of blue and yellow with red and white spots—with unruffled calm. As he made his way through the House, a broker stopped him.
“I say, Gutch, you’re a friend of Arthur Saville’s, what’s happened to him? Yesterday he was looking as blue as blazes, and everybody was saying that he’d got caught in this infernal Invigorator ‘rig,’ and prophesying that he’d be hammered within the next fortnight. He looked as if it was true, too. quite broken up—an 1 now he’s himself again all right.”
“Perhaps he’s been drinking the Invariable Invigorator. Doesn’t every purchaser of shares get a bonus of so many bottles?”
The broker laughed, and with a friendly nod continued on his way.
Gutch strolled leisurely down to that space on the floor devoted to the Miscellaneous market, exchanging a smile and a word with many a man in passing. Harding, Loder’s broker, was standing there.
“What are Investigators this morning, Harding?”
“no to-day, and they’ll be up ten points more to-morrow. Don’t say you’ve been caught ‘short.’ ”
“Ab-so-lute-íy no! I’ve got more of the beastly things than I want.”
“You don’t pull my leg, Gutch.”
“Fact, really ! I’ve two thousand I want to get rid of this moment. But nobody will buy them. Say they’re waiting till the committee interferes.”
“But the committee won’t interfere.”
“That’s what I told them, but they wouldn’t believe it. You’d better buy them, Harding.”
Harding shook his head.
“Well, if you don’t, I shall offer them at a lower price to some unfortunate victim, and deprive Mr. Walter Loder of quite a handsome portion of his legitimate profits. It’s a pity to spoil a good “rig,” there’s been nothing like this since Warner came over from America to teach us a thing or two.”
Harding called his clerk to him, and whispered something in his ear that sent him flying from the room. Ten minutes later he returned and spoke to his principal.
“I’ll buy that lot at no,” Harding said to Gutch.
Gutch clinched that bargain with a nod, and then 'lolled nonchalantly out of the House.
Next day was settling day. Gutch delvered the 2,000 Invigorators, and Harding’s cheque for the amount was duly passed through his bank. On the morrow, Gutch appeared as buoyant and unruffled as usual. He talked so much about intensified culture that his friends fled from him in a veritable panic. Somebody asked him why he wasted his time in the daily farce of appearing in the House, and didn't devote his whole attention to the cultivation of cabbages and slugs.
At about one, he strolled over to the “Palmerston” to lunch, where he ate a beef-steak and drank a tankard of bitter beer with his usual equanimity. Afterwards he played a hundred up at billiards with his friend, Subsequently these trivial details were recalled.
It was a little after two when he turned once more towards the House. Halfway there he chanced on Loder, dressed immaculately, hurrying in the
direction of Harding’s office. The two men had not spoken since their return from South Africa. Gutch had invariably cut Loder dead when they met, but to-day he seemed in an unusually expansive mood.
“Hullo, Loder,” he said, stopping in front of him and practically barring his progress along the narrow pavement, “how are Invigorators?”
“I only discuss my business with people whom it concerns.”
“Quite right, ab-so-lute-ly. By the way, Loder, do you remember how I lost that charge-sheet on our way back from the Cape? I did it to save that poor devil of a Tommy who had gone through twenty-one years’ service without a mark until he met you. I never told you that, did I ? He works on my intensified culture farm. You should come up and see him. He’d be delighted to show you round.” “I’ve no wish to continue the conversation. I’ve something better to do than waste my time talking to men of your stamp.”
Loder made as if to step into the roadway and pass the other. Gutch put out a restraining arm.
“I say, Loder, I want to ask you one question before you go. Don’t be in such an infernal hurry, man. It is not often we have time for a pleasant little chat. I say, why do you think Arthur Saville is a gambler?”
Loder wrenched his arm free.
“Look here, Mr. Coverley Gutch, I’ve had all the conversation I want with you. Just take this bit of advice, don’t interfere with my business.”
“That’s strange now, ab-so-lute-ly. You mean Invigorators, don't you? I promised myself this very afternoon quite—well, if you must be going, so long.” • j
Gutch watched Loder turn point blank on his heels, without another word, and hurrying across the street, disappear into the offices of Harding & Langley. With a smile of placid contempt, he continued his leisurely stroll down Threadneedle Street, and
entered the House. He sought out Saville.
“Come along, old chap, and watch the fun. When I put my pencil in niv mouth, you buy.”
it was three o’clock when Gutch walked into the Miscellaneous market. As if by telepathy, the House seemed immediately to realize that something was in the wind. A small crowd collected which grew larger and larger. Men stood up on the seats that surround the pillars and run
along the side of the walls, straining their necks to catch a glimpse of the battle royal that suddenly sprang up between Gutch and Harding.
As soon as Gutch entered the market, he began to offer in his stentorian voice 100 Invigorators at Loder’s price, 110. Harding, anxious to support the market against Gutch, and prevent the collapse of the “rig,” bid for 100 at 90. Still wearing his indolent, good-natured smile, Gutch
sold him them. Then he offered 100
more at 90. Harding bid 70. A nod from Gutch and they were his. Again another 100 were offered at .he lower price, and Harding, anxious and concerned, bought at ten points lower.
The excitement became tremendous, as the shares continued sagging. At 50 Harding again bid and was promptly supplied. He was very uneasy, though his face masked his emotions. Through his clerk he communicated with Loder on the ’phone. From what followed it was clear that the promo-
ter of the Invariable Invigorator Company smelled a rat. It was obvious into what quarter Mary Allan’s 15,000 shares had found their way. His instructions to Harding were to withdraw his support from the market and get. out of the position on the best terms possible. There were the 2,000 at no to be made good.
Something like a cheer went up from the excited crowd when Gutch offered Invigorators at 40, and there was no answering bid from Hard-
ing. Instead, Loder’s broker offered them a point lower. Gutch dropped to 35 ; Harding promptly capped him at 34. Five points at a time, Gutch lowered the price, Harding offering a point lower. At 25 there was a rally. Some of the “bears,” anxious to get out of a dangerous situation, bought at this price. Rut this stability was only temporary. By a quarter to four Invigorators were finding buyers at 15. At ten minutes to four they stood at par.
Then they collapsed with the velocity of an avalanche. Five minutes before the closing of the House, Gutch was offering them at ten shillings. As he did so, he casually put his gold pencil-case to his mouth. Saville, anxiously awaiting the signal that they had touched bottom, bid for one thousand and was promptly supplied.
If the scene in the House was extraordinary, it paled before the excitement that prevailed when Coverley Gutch struggled out of No. 10 door into Threadneedle Street amidst a seething mass of jobbers and brokers. Walter Loder. who had been waiting there, hearing his fate from minute to minute through the medium of Harding’s unauthorized clerk, was almost swept off his feet by the rush. He made his escape with difficulty. The bitterness of his defeat was not assuaged by the sight of a motor-car which was waiting in the street. As
he passed it his eyes met those of the girl, sitting there alone. She looked through him and past him, so it seemed. His own gaze sought the pavement, and he hurried on quicker, realizing that he had lost not only a fortune, but all hope of making Mary Allan his wife.
When Gutch got back to his house on the outskirts of Hendon that night, after a quiet dinner at the Savoy with Saville and Mary Allan, he made an account with the stump of a pencil on an envelope. A rough estimate of his “deal” in Invigorators showed that he had made a profit not far short of £60,000. After a consideration of these figures he allowed himself the luxury of whistling selections from the triumphal march in Tannhauser.
“George,” he said to his handyman, when the latter came to receive his instructions for the morrow, “we’ll add those ten acres to the farm.”
“It’ll cost thee nigh on £16,000, Mr. Gutch !”
“We’ll risk it, George. I’ve just had a bit of luck and cleared £57,000.”
Walker’s eyes opened wide and he scratched his head reflectively, gazing the while at his master. Then at last he spoke.
“Tha’s happen not the fool soom folk tak’ thee for, Mr. Gutch.”
Which was a compliment, coming from George Walker.
System consists in the practice of selecting’ for each department of an enterprise the right ability for that work and holding this man at all times responsible for results.—W. W. Kimball.