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Full text of "The banker and the bear;"


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LIBRARY 

UNIVERSITY OF 
CALIFORNIA 

SAN DIEGO 



THE SHORT LINE WAR. 

BY 
H. K. WEBSTER AND SAMUEL MERWIN. 



It is only one novel in twenty that is en- 
grossing enough to insist upon a reading, 
making the mood for its own enjoyment. 
It is hardly one in twenty which is success- 
ful in interpreting to the people of one class 
or occupation the struggles and sympathies 
of those without their social or business 
circles. That " The Short Line War " 
should do both, makes it very exceptional 
indeed. Chicago Evening Post. 

It is one of those tales of vigorous char- 
acter and action which touch a responsive 
chord in nearly every class of readers. The 
story is finely written. Toledo Blade. 



iGmo. Cloth. $1.50. 



THE BANKER AND 
THE BEAR 

The Story of a Corner in Lard 



BY 

HENRY KITCHELL WEBSTER 



Nefo ff orfe 
THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 

LONDON: MACMILLAN & CO., LTD. 
IQOO 

All rights reserved 



COPYRIGHT, 1900, 
BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY. 



Nortoooto $BB 

J. 8. Gushing & Co. Berwick & Smith 
Norwood Mali. U.S.A. 



CONTENTS 



CHAPTER PAGE 

I. BEGINNINGS i 

II. DICK HASELRIDGE 25 

III. THE WILL . . .... .38 

IV. A VICTORY . . . . . .59 
V. OLD FRIENDS 74 

VI. LARD . . . . .'." . . . 85 

VII. THE SPY :-'. .103 

VIII. A BATTLE '. . 118 

IX. DEEPER STILL 138 

X. NEVER DID RUN SMOOTH . . . . . 151 

XI. COMMON HONESTY 166 

XII. CONSEQUENCES 183 

XIII. How THE BEAR SPENT SUNDAY . . . 200 

XIV. GOOD INTENTIONS . . . t . .212 
XV. THE STARTING OF AN AVALANCHE . . . 230 

XVI. HARRIET . . 247 

XVII. WEDNESDAY MORNING . . . . . . 267 

XVIII. How THEY BROKE THE RUN '. . . 283 

XIX. THE FOURTH DAY . . . . . .301 

XX. ASSAULT AND BATTERY 316 

XXI. A CORNER 334 

v 



THE BANKER AND THE BEAR 



CHAPTER I 

BEGINNINGS 

FOR more than forty years Bagsbury and 
Company was old John Bagsbury himself ; 
merely another expression of his stiff, cautious 
personality. Like him it had been old from 
infancy ; you could as easily imagine that he 
had once been something of a dandy, had worn 
a stiff collar and a well-brushed hat, as that its 
dusty black-walnut furniture had ever smelled 
of varnish. And, conversely, though he had a 
family, a religion to whose requirements he was 
punctiliously attentive, and a really fine library, 
the bank represented about all there was of old 
John Bagsbury. 

Beside a son, John, he had a daughter, born 
several years earlier, whom they christened 
Martha. She grew into a capricious, pretty 
girl, whom her father did not try to under- 



2 The Banker and the Bear 

stand, particularly as he thought she never 
could be of the smallest importance to Bags- 
bury and Company. When, before she was 
twenty, in utter disregard of her father's 
forcibly expressed objection, she married Victor 
Haselridge, she dropped forever out of the old 
man's life. 

The boy, John, was too young to understand 
when this happened, and as his mother died 
soon after, he grew almost to forget that he 
had ever had a sister. He was very different : 
serious and, on the surface at least, placid. He 
had the old man's lumpy head and his thin- 
lidded eyes, though his mouth was, like his 
mother's, generous. His father had high hopes 
that he might, in course of years, grow to be 
worthy of Bagsbury and Company's Savings 
Bank. That was the boy's hope, too ; when he 
was fifteen he asked to be taken from school 
and put to work, and his father, with ill-con- 
cealed delight, consented. Through the next 
five years the old man's hopes ran higher than 
ever, for John showed that he knew how to 
work, and slowly the tenure of office was 
long at Bagsbury's he climbed the first few 
rounds of the ladder. 



Beginnings 3 

But trouble was brewing all the while, though 
the father was too blind to see. It began the 
day when the lad first set foot in a bank other 
than his father's. The brightness, the bustle, 
the alert air that characterized every one about 
it, brought home to him a sharp, disappointing 
surprise. Try as he might, he could not bring 
back the old feeling of pride in Bagsbury and 
Company, and he felt the difference the more 
keenly as he grew to understand where it lay. 
But he liked work, and with a boy's healthy 
curiosity he pried and puzzled and sought to 
comprehend everything, though his father out of 
a notion of discipline, and his fellow-employees 
for a less unselfish reason, discouraged his in- 
quiries. In one way and another he made 
several acquaintances among the fellows of 
his own age who worked in the other banks, 
and from finding something to smile at in his 
queer, old-mannish way they came to like him. 
He had his mother's adaptability, and he sur- 
prised them by turning out to be really good 
company. 

His deep-seated loyalty to his father and to 
his father's bank made him fight down the 
feeling of bitterness and contempt which, 



4 The Banker and the Bear 

nevertheless, grew stronger month by month. 
Everybody in that gray old vault of a bank 
continued to treat him as a child; there was 
no change anywhere, save that the mould of 
respectable conservatism lay thicker on old 
John Bagsbury, and his caution was growing 
into a mania. 

One morning John was nearing his twen- 
tieth birthday then he was sent on a small 
matter of business to the Atlantic National 
Bank. He had despatched it and was passing 
out when Dawson, the president, surprised him 
by calling to him from the door of the private 
office. As John obeyed the summons and 
entered the office, the president motioned to 
another man who was leaning against the 
desk. "This is young John Bagsbury," he 
said, " Mr. Sponley." 

John had no time to be puzzled, for Sponley 
straightened up and shook hands with him. 

Whatever you might think of Melville Spon- 
ley, he compelled you to think something; he 
could not be ignored. He was at this time 
barely thirty, but already he bore about him 
the prophecy that, in some sphere or other, he 
was destined to wield an unusual influence. He 



Beginnings 5 

was of about middle height, though his enor- 
mous girth made him look shorter, his skin 
was swarthy, his thick neck bulged out above 
his collar, and his eyelids were puffy. But his 
glance was as swift and purposeful as a fencer's 
thrust, and a great dome of a forehead towered 
above his black brows. 

Keenly, deliberately, he looked straight into 
John Bagsbury, and in the look John felt him- 
self treated as a man. They exchanged only 
the commonplaces of greeting, and then, as there 
seemed to be nothing further to say, John 
took his leave. 

" Why did you ask me to call him in here ? " 
demanded the president. 

" Curiosity," said Sponley. " I wanted to see 
if he was going to be like his father." 

" He's better stuff," said Dawson, emphati- 
cally ; " a sight better stuff." 

Next day, a little after noon, John met Spon- 
ley on the street. Sponley nodded cordially as 
they passed, then turned and spoke : 

" Oh, Bagsbury, were you thinking of getting 
something to eat ? If you were, you'd better 
come along and have a little lunch with me." 

John might have felt somewhat ill at ease 



6 The Banker and the Bear 

had his new acquaintance given him any oppor- 
tunity ; but Sponley took on himself the whole 
responsibility for the conversation, and John 
forgot everything else listening to the talk, 
which was principally in praise of the banking 
business. 

" I suppose you are wondering why I don't 
go into it myself, but I'm not cut out for it. I 
was born to be a speculator. That has a strange 
sound to your ears, no doubt, but I mean to get 
rich at it. 

" Now a banker has to be a sort of commer- 
cial father confessor to all his customers. That 
wouldn't be in my line at all ; but I envy the 
man who has the genius and the opportunity 
for it that I fancy you have." 

An habitually reserved man, when once the 
barrier is broken down, will reveal anything. 
Before John was aware of it, he had yielded to 
the charm of being completely understood, and 
was telling Sponley the story of his life at the 
bank. Sponley said nothing, but eyed the ash 
of his cigar until he" was sure that John had told 
it all. Then he spoke : 

" Under an aggressive management your bank 
could be one of the three greatest in the city in 



Beginnings f 

two years. It's immensely rich, and it has a 
tremendous credit. As you say, with things as 
they are, it's hopeless ; but then, some day you'll 
get control of it, I suppose." 

There was a moment of silence while Sponley 
relighted his cigar. 

" Have you thought of making a change ? 
I mean, of getting a better training by work- 
ing up through some other bank ? " 

" That's out of the question," said John. 

" I can understand your feeling that way 
about it," said the other. " I've detained you 
a long time. I'd ask you to come and see us, 
but my wife and I are going abroad next week, 
and shan't be back till spring; but we'll surely 
see you then. Good-by and good luck." 

John went back to the bank and listened with 
an indifference he had not known before to 
the remonstrance of his immediate superior, 
who spoke satirically about the length of his 
lunch hour, and carped at his way of cross- 
ing his t's. 

Sponley and his wife lingered at the table 
that evening, discussing plans for their jour- 
ney. Harriet Sponley was younger than her 
husband, but she had not his nerves, and there 



8 The Banker and the Bear 

were lines in her face which time had not yet 
written in his. 

" I'm glad you're to have the rest," he said, 
looking intently at her ; " you need it." 

" No more than you," she smilingly pro- 
tested. " You didn't come home to lunch." 

" N-no." A smile broke over his heavy face. 
" I was engaged in agricultural pursuits. I 
planted a grain of mustard seed, which will 
grow into a great tree. Some time we may 
be glad to roost therein." 

" Riddles ! " she exclaimed. " Please give me 
the key to this one. I don't feel like guessing." 

" If you will have it, I've been putting a 
cyclone cellar in a bank." 

"Whose bank?" 

" Bagsbury's," he answered, smiling more 
broadly. 

" Bagsbury's," she repeated, in an injured 
tone, " I really want to know. Please tell me." 

" Did you ever hear," he asked, as they left 
the dining-room and entered the library, "of 
young John Bagsbury ? " 

" No, do you know him ? " 

He dropped into an easy-chair. " Met him 
yesterday." 



Beginnings 9 

" It won't do any good, " she said ; " some- 
body has probably come round already and 
warned him that you're a dangerous man, or a 
plunger, or something like that" 

" Yes, I warned him to-day myself." 

She laughed and moved away toward the 
piano. As she passed behind his chair, she 
patted his head approvingly. 

The next few months went dismally with 
John. At the bank, or away from it, there was 
little change in the stiff routine of his life ; 
his few glimpses of the outside world, and par- 
ticularly the memory of that hour with Sponley, 
made it harder to endure. His discontent 
steadily sank deeper and became a fact more 
inevitably to be reckoned with, and before the 
winter was over he made up his mind that he 
could not give up his life to the course his 
father had marked out for him ; but he dreaded 
the idea of a change, and in the absence of 
a definite opening for him elsewhere he let 
events take their own course. Often he found 
himself wondering whether the speculator had 
forgotten all about his suggestion. 

But Sponley never forgot anything, though 
he often waited longer than most men are will- 



IO 

ing to. He and Harriet had not been back in 
town a week before they asked John to dine 
with them; "Just ourselves," the note said. 

An invitation to dinner was not the terrible 
thing to John that it would have been a year 
before, but as the hour drew near he looked 
forward to it with mingled pleasure and dread. 
He forgot it all the moment he was fairly inside 
the Sponley big library. He had never seen 
such a room ; it had a low ceiling, it was red 
and warm and comfortable, and there was a 
homely charm about the informal arrangement 
of the furniture. John did not see it all: he 
felt it, took it in with the first breath of the 
tobacco-savored air, while the speculator was 
introducing him to Mrs. Sponley, and then to 
some one else who stood just behind her, a fair- 
haired girl in a black gown. 

" Miss Blair is one of the family," said Spon- 
ley; "a sort of honorary little sister of Mrs. 
Sponley's." 

" She's really not much of a relation," added 
Harriet, " but she's the only one of any sort that 
I possess, so I have to make the most of her." 

The next hours were the happiest John had 
ever known. It was all so new to him, this 



Beginnings 1 1 

easy, irresponsible way of taking the world, this 
making a luxury of conversation instead of the 
strict, uncomfortable necessity he had always 
thought it. It was pleasant fooling; not espe- 
cially clever, easy to make and to hear and to for- 
get, and so skilfully did the Sponleys do it that 
John never realized they were doing it at all. 

When the ladies rose to leave the table, 
Sponley detained John. " I want to talk a little 
business with you, if you'll let me. 

" I had a talk with Dawson yesterday," he 
continued when they were alone. " Dawson, 
you know, practically owns one or two country 
banks, besides his large interest in the Atlantic 
National, and it takes a lot of men to run his 
business. Dawson told me that none of the 
youngsters at the Atlantic was worth much. 
He wants a man who's capable of handling 
some of that country business. Now, I remem- 
ber you said last fall that you didn't care to go 
into anything like that ; but I had an idea that 
you might think differently now, so I spoke of 
you to Dawson and he wants you. It looks to 
me like rather a good opening." 

John did not speak for half a minute. Then 
he said : 



12 The Banker and the Bear 

" I'll take it Thank you." 

" I'm glad you decided that way," said Spon- 
ley. " Dawson and I lunch together to-morrow 
at one. You'd better join us, and then you and 
he can talk over details. Come, Alice and 
Harriet are waiting for us. We'll have some 
music." 

When at last it occurred to John that it was 
time to go home, they urged him so heartily to 
stay a little longer that without another thought 
he forgave himself for having forgotten to go 
earlier. 

Just before noon next day, John left his desk 
and walked into his father's office. Old Mr. 
Bagsbury looked up to see who his visitor was, 
then turned back to his writing. After a minute, 
however, he laid down his pen and waited for 
his son to speak. 

And to his great surprise John found that a 
difficult thing to do. When he did begin, an- 
other word was on his lips than the one he 
had expected to use. 

"Father " he said. The old man's brows 
contracted, and John knew he had made a 
mistake. In his desire that John should be on 
the same terms as the other clerks, the father 



Beginnings 1 3 

had barred that form of address in banking 
hours. 

" Mr. Bagsbury," John began again, and now 
the words came easily, "I was offered another 
position last night. It's a better one than I 
hold here, and I think it will be to my advantage 
to take it." 

Mr. Bagsbury's hard, thin old face expressed 
nothing, even of surprise. He sat quite still 
for a moment, then he clasped his hands 
tightly under the desk, for they were quivering. 

" You wish to take this position at once ? " 

" I haven't arranged that. I waited till I 
could speak to you about it. I don't want to 
inconvenience you." 

" You can go at once if you choose. We can 
arrange for your work." 

"Very well, sir." 

As his father bowed assent, John turned to 
leave the office. But at the door he stopped 
and looked back. Mr. Bagsbury had not moved, 
save that his head, so stiffly erect during the in- 
terview, was bowed over the desk. From where 
he stood John could not see his face. Acting 
on an impulse he did not understand, John re- 
traced his steps and stood at the old man's side. 



14 

" Father," he said, " I may have been incon- 
siderate of your feelings in this matter. If 
there's anything personal about it, that is, if it's 
worth any more to you to have me here than just 
my my commercial value; I'll be glad to 
stay." 

" Not at all," returned the father ; " our rela- 
tion here in the bank is a purely commercial one. 
I cannot offer you a better position because you 
are not worth it to me. But if some one else 
has offered you a better one, you are right to 
take it, quite right." 

And John, much relieved, though, be it said, 
feeling rather foolish over that incomprehensible 
impulse of his, again turned to the door. He 
went back to his desk and finished his morning's 
work. Then he slipped on his overcoat, but 
before going out he paused to look about the 
big, dreary droning room. 

" I'll come back here some day," he thought, 
"and then " 

Old Mr. Bagsbury never had but one child; 
that was Bagsbury and Company's Savings 
Bank. John was not, in his mind, the heir to it, 
but the one who should be its guardian after he 
was gone ; his son was no more to him than 



Beginnings 1 5 

that. But that was everything ; and so the old 
man sat with bowed head and clasped hands, 
wondering dully how the bank would live when 
he was taken away from it. 

John paid his dinner call promptly, though 
Mark Tapley would have said there was no 
great credit in that; it could hardly be termed a 
call either, for it lasted from eight till eleven. 
But what, after all, did the hours matter so long 
as they passed quickly ? And then a few nights 
later they went together to the play, and a little 
after that was a long Sunday afternoon which 
ended with their compelling John to stay to tea. 

His time was fully occupied, for he found a 
day's work at the Atlantic very different from 
anything he had experienced under the stately 
regime of Bagsbury and Company. Dawson 
paid for every ounce there was in a man, and 
he used it. " They've piled it on him pretty 
thick," the cashier told the president after a 
month or two ; " but he carries it without a 
stagger. If he can keep up this pace, he's 
a gold mine." 

He did keep the pace, though it left him few 
free evenings. Those he had were spent, 
nearly all of them, with the Sponleys. The fair- 



1 6 The Banker and the Bear 

haired girl seemed to John, each time he saw 
her, sweeter and more adorable than she had 
ever been before, and he saw her often enough 
to make the progression a rapid one. The hos- 
pitality of the Sponleys never flagged. The 
number of things they thought of that " it would 
be larks to do," was legion; and when there 
was no lark, there was always the long evening 
in the big firelit room, when Harriet played the 
piano, and Sponley put his feet on the fender 
and smoked cigars, and there was nothing to 
prohibit a boy and a girl from sitting close to- 
gether on the wide sofa and looking over port- 
folios of steel engravings from famous paintings 
and talking of nothing in particular, or at 
least not of the steel engravings. 

At last one Sunday afternoon in early spring, 
after months of suspense that seemed years 
to John, Alice consented to marry him, and 
John was so happy that he did not blush or 
stammer, as they had been sure he would, 
when he told the Sponleys about it. There 
never was such an illumination as the street 
lamps made that evening when John walked 
back to his father's house ; and something in 
his big dismal room, the single faint-hearted 



Beginnings 17 

gas-jet, perhaps, threw a rosy glow even over 
that. 

When he had left Bagsbury and Company 
to go to work for Dawson, there had occurred 
no change in John's personal relation with his 
father. That relation had never amounted to 
much, but they continued to live on not un- 
friendly terms. Quite unconscious that he 
was misusing the word, John would have told 
you that he lived at home. Once on a time, 
when Martha was a baby, before the loneli- 
ness of his mother's life had made her old, 
before the commercial crust had grown so thick 
over the spark of humanity that lurked some- 
where in old John Bagsbury, the old house 
may have been a home; but John had never 
known it as anything but a place where one 
might sleep and have his breakfast and his 
dinner without paying for them. When he 
and his father met, there was generally some 
short-lived attempt at conversation, consisting 
in a sort of set form like the responses in the 
prayer-book. But one night, as soon as they 
were seated, John spoke what was on his mind, 
without waiting for the wonted exchange of 

courtesies, 
c 



1 8 The Banker and the Bear 

" Father," he said, " I'm planning to be mar- 
ried in a few months." 

" If your means are sufficient," the old man 
answered, " and if you have chosen wisely, as 
I make no doubt you have, why that is very 
well, very well." 

A little later the father asked abruptly, 

" Are you planning to live here ? " 

Perhaps, in the silent moments just past, 
there had quickened in his mind a mouldy old 
memory of a girlish face, and then of a baby's 
wailing, a memory that brought a momentary 
glow into the ashes of his soul, and a hope, 
gone in the flicker of an eyelash, that a child 
might again play round his knees. But when 
John's answer came, and it came quickly, the 
father was relieved to hear him say, 

" Oh, no, sir, we're going to look up a place 
of our own." 

They were to be married next April, and 
though that time seemed far away to John, 
thanks to the economy of the Atlantic National, 
and to the hours he had with Alice, which 
merged one into the other, forming in his 
memory a beatific haze, it passed quickly 
enough. The only thing that troubled John 



Beginnings 19 

was Alice's total ignorance of banking and 
her indifference to matters of business gener- 
ally. One evening, in Harriet's presence, he 
offered, half jestingly, to teach her how to 
manage a bank; but the older woman turned 
the conversation to something else, and he did 
not think of it again for a long time. 

When John had gone that evening, and 
Alice was making ready for bed, her door 
opened unceremoniously and Harriet came in. 
She was so pale that Alice cried out to know 
what was the matter. 

"Nothing; I'm tired, that's all. It's been 
a hard day for Melville, and that always leaves 
me a wreck. No, I've been waiting for John 
to go because I want to have a talk with you. 
I feel like it to-night, and I may not again." 

She walked across the room and fumbled 
nervously the scattered articles on the dressing- 
table. Her words, and the action which fol- 
lowed them, were so unlike Harriet that Alice 
stared at her wonderingly. At last Harriet 
turned and faced her, leaning back against 
the table, her hands clutching the ledge of it 
tightly. 

"I'm going to give you some advice," she 



2O The Banker and the Bear 

said ; " I don't suppose you'll like it, either. 
You didn't like my interrupting John to-night 
when he was going to explain about banking. 
But, Alice, dear," the voice softened as she 
spoke, and her attitude relaxed a little, "you 
don't want to know about such things; truly, 
you don't ! If you're going to be happy with 
John, you mustn't know anything about his 
business about what he does in the day- 
time." 

"What a way to talk for you, too, of all 
people ! You're happy, aren't you ? " 

" Perhaps I'm different," said Harriet, slowly ; 
"but I know what I'm talking about. I 
shouldn't be saying these things to you, if I 
didn't. How will you like having John come 
home and tell you all about some tight place 
he's in that he doesn't know how he's going 
to get out of, and then waiting all the next 
day and wondering how it's coming out, and 
not being able to do anything but worry?" 

"But I thought the banking business was 
perfectly safe," said Alice, vaguely alarmed, 
but still more puzzled. 

" Safe ! " echoed Harriet ; " any business is 
safe if a man is willing to wall himself up in 



Beginnings 2 1 

a corner and just stay, and not want to do 
anything or get anywhere. But if a man is 
ambitious, like John or Melville, and means to 
get up to the top, why it's just one long fight 
for him whatever business he goes into." 

She was not looking at Alice, nor, indeed, 
speaking to her, but seemed rather to be think- 
ing aloud. 

" That is the one great purpose in John's life," 
she said. " His father's bank is the only thing 
that really counts. Everything else is only inci- 
dental to that." 

She turned about again, and her hands re- 
sumed their purposeless play over the table. 
" He'll succeed, too. He isn't afraid of any- 
thing ; and he won't lose his nerve ; he can 
stand the strain. But you can't, and if you 
try, your face will get wrinkled," she was star- 
ing into the mirror that hung above the table, 
" and your nerves will fly to pieces, and you'll 
just worry your heart out." 

She was interrupted by a movement behind 
her. Alice had thrown herself upon the bed, 
sobbing like a frightened child. 

"You're very unkind and cruel to tell 
me that John's business was dangerous 



22 The Banker and the Bear 

and that he didn't care for anything even 
me and that I'd get wrinkled " 

Harriet sat down beside her on the bed. 
Her manner had changed instantly when she 
had seen the effect of her words. When she 
spoke, her voice was very gentle. 

" Forgive me, dear. I spoke very foolishly ; 
because I was tired, I suppose. But you didn't 
understand me exactly. John loves you very, 
very much; you know that. When I said he 
didn't care, I wasn't thinking of you at all, but 
of other things : books, you know, and plays, 
and politics. And he's perfectly sure to come 
out right, just as I said he was, no matter what 
he goes through. Only I think both of you will 
be happier if you keep quite out of his business 
world, and don't let him bring it home with him, 
but try to interest him in other things when 
you're with him, and make him forget all about 
his business ; and the only way to do that is 
not to know. Don't you see, dear ? " 

She paused, and for a moment stroked the 
flushed forehead. Then she went on, speak- 
ing almost playfully : 

" So I want you to promise me that you won't 
ask John about those things, or let him explain 



Beginnings 23 

them, even if he wants to. It may be hard some- 
times, but it's better that way. Will you ? " 

Alice nodded uncomprehendingly ; Harriet 
kissed her good night, and rose to leave the 
room. 

" Are you quite sure he loves me better than 
the bank ? " the young girl asked, smiling, albeit 
somewhat tremulously. 

"Quite sure," laughed Harriet; "whole lots 
better." 

When Sponley came in, still later that even- 
ing, she told him of John's offer. 

" How did he come out with his explanation ?" 
he asked. 

" I didn't let him begin. I changed the sub- 
ject." 

" It's just as well. He's lucky if he can ever 
make her understand how to indorse a check, 
let alone anything more complicated." 

" I fancy that's true," Harriet said, and she 
added to herself, " of course it's true. I've had 
all my worries for nothing, and have frightened 
Alice half to death. But then, she didn't under- 
stand it." 

"Anyway, I'm glad that you understand," 
Sponley was saying. 



24 The Banker and the Bear 

" I'm glad, too," she answered, and kissed 
him. 

John and Alice were married, as they had 
planned, in April ; but the wedding trip was 
cut short by a telegram from Dawson, direct- 
ing John to go to Howard City, to assume the 
management of the First National Bank there ; 
and the house they had chosen and partly fur- 
nished had to be given up to some one else. 
Alice cried over it a good deal, and John was 
sorely puzzled to understand why she should 
feel badly over his promotion. 

Ah, well, that was long ago ; fifteen seven- 
teen years ago. They have been comfortable, 
uneventful years to John and Alice; whether 
or not you call them happy must depend on 
what you think happiness means. They have 
brought prosperity and more promotions, and 
John is back in the city, vice-president of the 
great Atlantic National. But his ambition has 
not been satisfied, for, on the Christmas Eve 
when we again pick up the thread of his life, 
his father, old John Bagsbury, crustier and more 
withered than ever, and more than ever distrust- 
ful of his son's ability, is still president of Bags- 
bury and Company's Savings Bank. 



CHAPTER II 

DICK HASELRIDGE 

ON this Christmas Eve Dick Haselridge was 
picking her way swiftly through the holiday 
crowd, but her glance roved alertly over the 
scene, and everything she saw seemed to please 
her. The cries of the shivering toy venders on 
the sidewalk, and the clashing of gongs on the 
overcrowded cable cars that passed, came to 
her ears with a note of merriment that must 
have been assumed especially for Christmas- 
tide. To walk rapidly was no easy matter, for 
the motion of the crowd was irregular ; now 
fast, across some gusty, ill-lighted spot, now 
slowing to a mere stroll, and now ceasing alto- 
gether before a particularly attractive shop 
window. The wind, too, had acquired a mis- 
chievous trick of pouncing upon you from an 
always unexpected direction. Dick scorned 
to wear a veil in any weather, and her hair 
blew all about and into her eyes, and as one 
25 



26 The Banker and the Bear 

of her hands was occupied with her muff and 
her purse, and the other with keeping her skirts 
out of the slush, she would pause and wait for 
the wind to blow the refractory lock out of the 
way again. Then she would laugh, for it was 
all part of the lark to Dick, and start on. 

In one of these pauses she saw a little imp- 
faced newsboy looking up at her with a grin so 
infectious that she smiled back at him. The 
effect of that smile upon the boy was immediate ; 
he sprang forward, collided with one passer-by, 
then with another, and seemed to carrom from 
him to a position directly in front of Dick. 

" Did ye want a piper, miss ? " he gasped. 
He was still grinning. 

"Yes," laughed Dick, and heedless of the 
slush she let go her skirt and drew the purse 
from her muff. 

" This is jolly, isn't it ? " she said, fishing a dime 
from her purse and handing it to him. " Oh, I 
haven't any place to carry a paper. Never 
mind. I'll get it from you some other time. 
Merry Christmas," and with a bright nod she 
was gone. 

They had stood Dick and the newsboy 
in the strong light from a shop window, and the 



Dick Haselridge 27 

little scene may have been noted by a dozen 
persons in the crowd that had flowed by them. 
But one man who had come up from the direc- 
tion in which Dick was going, a big man, muffled 
to the eye-glasses in an ulster, had seemed par- 
ticularly interested. Dick's back was toward 
him as he passed, she had turned to the win- 
dow in order to see into her purse, but there 
was something familiar about the graceful line 
of her slight figure, and he looked at her closely, 
as one who thinks he recognizes but cannot be 
sure, and when he was a few yards by he looked 
again. This time he saw her face just as she 
nodded farewell to the newsboy, and in an 
instant he had turned about and was off in pur- 
suit ; but when he came up to where the little 
urchin was still standing, he stopped, fumbled in 
his outer pockets, drew out a quarter of a dollar, 
and held it out to him. " Here you are, boy," 
he said, and hurried after Dick, who was now 
half a square away. 

When only a few steps behind he called : 
" Dick ! Dick ! What a pace you've got ! 
Wait a bit." 

She turned, recognizing his voice ; as he came 
alongside, he added : 



28 The Banker and the Bear 

11 You never were easy to catch, but you seem 
to be getting worse in that respect. Beast of a 
night, isn't it ? " 

It was dark, and in the additional protection 
of her high fur collar Dick permitted herself to 
smile ; but she commented only on the last part 
of his remark. The wrestle with the gale had 
put her out of breath, and she spoke in gasps. 

" Oh, yes but it's a good beast. Like a big 
overgrown Newfoundland puppy." 

He fell in step with her, and they walked on 
more slowly in silence; for they were good 
enough friends for that. At length she said, 

" I thought you were going home to spend 
Christmas." 

" I did expect to, but I couldn't." 

Her tone was colder when she spoke. " It's 
too bad that you were detained." 

" Detained ! " he exclaimed. " You know what 
I meant, Dick. When mother invited you to 
spend the holidays with us, and I thought from 
what you said that you would, why I expected 
to go, too. But as long as you stay here, why I 
shall, that's all : you don't play fair, Dick." 

" That spoils everything," she said quietly. 
Then after a moment, " No, it doesn't either. 



Dick Haselridge 29 

You shan't make me cross on Christmas Eve, 
whatever you say. Only, sometimes you make 
it rather hard to play fair." 

He answered quickly: "You're quite right 
about that. I suppose I do, and pretty often. 
How do you put up with me at all, Dick ? " 

She laughed. " Oh, I manage it rather easily. 
You're nearly always good. Just now, for in- 
stance, walking away out here with me. You'll 
come in to dinner with us, won't you ? " 

" I think I'd better not. Mr. Bagsbury and 
I have had about all we can stand of each other 
for one week. We're getting used to each other 
by degrees. I wonder if I irritate him as much 
as he does me. Do you really like him, Dick ? " 

" Yes," she said reflectively, " I really like him 
very much. But I don't wonder that you don't 
get on together. The only thing either of you 
sees in the other is the thing he particularly 
hates." She laughed softly. " But rolled to- 
gether you'd be simply immense." 

" Call it three hundred and sixty pounds," he 
said. "Yes, that's big; as big as Melville 
Sponley." 

"As big as Mr. Sponley thinks he is," she 
rejoined. "And that's a very different thing. 



30 The Banker and the Bear 

I hate that man. I wouldn't trust him behind 
a a ladder ! " 

They had reached the Bagsbury's house, and 
Dick held out her hand to him. " Good night," 
she said. " I wish you were coming in. Thank 
you for walking home with me." 

But Jack Dorlin hesitated. " I wish you 
would tell me, Dick, whether you mean to set- 
tle down here to live with the Bagsburys, or 
whether this is just a visit. If I camp down 
here near by, and get my piano and my books, 
and the rest of my truck comfortably set up just 
before you pack your things and flit away, it'll 
leave me feeling rather silly." 

She laughed, "Why, they want me to stay, 
and I think I will. I think I'll try rolling you 
and Uncle John together. Good night." She 
let herself into the house with a latch-key and 
hurried upstairs to her room ; but before she 
could reach it, she was intercepted in the upper 
hall by her aunt. 

" Dick ! " she exclaimed, " where have you 
been ? I was beginning to be dreadfully wor- 
ried about you." 

For reply, Dick turned so that the light from 
the chandelier shone full in her face. " Look 



Dick Haselridge 31 

at me," she commanded. " Look at me closely, 
and see if you think there is any good in 
worrying over a great healthy animal 
like me." 

She shook her head at every pause, and the 
little drops of melted snow that beaded her 
tumbled hair came rolling down her face ; and 
then, slowly, she smiled. 

When Dick smiled, even on others of her sex, 
that put an end to argument. Alice Bagsbury 
laughed a little, patted her arm affectionately, 
and said : " Well, you're awfully wet, anyway, so 
run along and put on some dry things. And 
John is home, and we're going to have dinner 
right away, so you'll have to hurry." 

"I'll be down," said Dick, pausing as if for 
an exact calculation, "in eight minutes. Will 
that do ? " 

Her aunt nodded and laughed again, and 
went downstairs, while Dick, laying her watch 
on her dressing table, prepared to justify her 
arithmetic. 

It was a sort of miracle that Dick Haselridge 
was not spoiled. Her mother, John Bagsbury's 
sister Martha, remembering her own dismal 
childhood, had gone far in the other direction, 



32 The Banker and the Bear 

and Dick had never known enough repression 
or discipline at home to be worth mentioning. 
Dick's real name, let it be said, was her moth- 
er's, Martha, but as her two first boon compan- 
ions had borne the names Thomas and Henry, 
her father, so Dick said, had declared that it 
was too bad to spoil the combination just 
because she happened to be a girl, so almost 
from her babyhood she was known as Dick. 
It was not wonderful that Dick's father and 
mother allowed her to do about as she pleased, 
for her manner made it hard to deny her any- 
thing. Long before she was ten years old, she 
had made the discovery that anybody, friend or 
stranger, was very likely to do what she wanted 
him to. 

That was a dangerous bit of knowledge for a 
child to have, and it might have been disastrous 
to Dick had there not been strong counteracting 
influences at work. Her father died when she 
was but twelve years old, and thereby it came 
about that for the first time in her merry little 
life Dick tasted the sorrows and the joys of 
responsibility. Her mother, in the few years 
of life that were left her, never entirely recov- 
ered, so Dick stayed at home to keep her cheer- 



Dick Haselridge 33 

ful, and avert the little worries that came to 
disturb her. 

Dick was just seventeen when her mother 
died, and she found herself without a home and 
without a single intimate friend. For a time 
she was bewildered by her grief, but her cour- 
age and her indomitable buoyancy asserted 
themselves, and she took the tiller of her life 
in hand, to steer as good a course as she could 
without the advice or assistance of anybody. 

Ever since the death of Victor Haselridge, 
John Bagsbury had kept a sort of track of his 
sister, and when she died, he wrote Dick a let- 
ter, asking her to come and live with him and 
Alice ; but Dick had determined, first of all, 
to go to college, so she declined the invitation. 
She had not been what one would call a stu- 
dious child, but she was keenly interested in 
things, and she learned easily, and she had 
contrived in one way or another to pick up 
enough information to satisfy the entrance re- 
quirement of the college she had chosen. It 
was a wise decision, for in college she was busy, 
she was popular, and that, as it did not turn her 
head, was good for her, and best of all, she 
found a few intimate friends. 



34 The Banker and the Bear 

The first of these was Edith Dorlin : they 
were fast friends before the fall term was well 
begun, and as a result Dick went home with her 
to spend the Thanksgiving recess. In those 
few days Mrs. Dorlin fell quite in love with her, 
as did also Edith's brother Jack, who was four 
years older than his sister and in his junior year 
at college. The Dorlins made what was almost 
a home for her during her four college years, 
and as the time for graduation grew near, 
Edith and her mother both besought Dick to 
make her home with them permanently. Jack 
also asked her to come, but his invitation in- 
cluded marrying him, and Dick, though she was 
really very fond of him, did not love him in the 
least, so in spite of their combined entreaties she 
had announced her intention of going abroad 
for a year or two ; whereupon Jack, averring 
that he was not cut out for a lawyer, and that 
he was tired of getting his essays on things in 
general back from the magazines, decided that 
he ought to do something with his music and 
began planning to go to Berlin to study. 

But the Bagsburys had not entirely lost sight 
of Dick, and on her commencement day John 
appeared and repeated his invitation that she 



Dick Haselridge 35 

come and live with them, or at least make them 
a long visit. Somewhat to Dick's surprise she 
accepted; partly because the idea of having 
any sort of a home appealed to her, and partly 
because, in spite of her prejudice against him, 
she liked John, with his strong, alert way, and 
his bluntness, and his cautious keeping within 
the fact ; and then this was the strongest rea- 
son of all his mouth and something in the in- 
flection of his voice reminded her of her mother. 

Jack Dorlin's disgust when he heard of 
Dick's decision quite outran his power of 
expression. 

"Don't you think yourself that it's mildly 
insane ? " he asked her. 

" I'm not going there to live," said Dick ; 
" at least, I don't know that I am. Not unless 
they like me awfully well." 

" But just try to think a minute," he went on, 
trying hard to preserve an argumentative man- 
ner ; " here are we who have known you all 
your life " 

She smiled, and he exclaimed impatiently. 

" Oh, don't be so literal ! I have known you 
always, and can't you " 

He broke off short. Then without giving 



36 The Banker and the Bear 

her time to say the words that were on her lips, 
he added quickly : 

" I know, Dick. I know. Don't tell me 
again. I didn't mean to speak that way ; it 
got away from me. But I can't see the sense 
of your going away off to live with some people 
you've never seen. Mother and Edith and I 
have known you four years, and we do like you 
awfully well; there's no 'unless' about it." 

" Don't try to argue any more, Jack," she 
said. " I'm going to visit the Bagsburys. I 
don't know how long I'll stay; it may be a 
month, and it may be a year, and I may find 
a home there. But I shall miss you all dread- 
fully, and you must write me lots of letters. 
Tell me all about your life in Berlin, and how 
your music is going and everything." 

" I rather doubt my getting to Berlin this 
year," he said cautiously. 

He would tell her nothing more definite, but 
she was not really surprised when, before she 
had been a week with the Bagsburys, he came 
to call on her. He was as unconcerned about 
it as though he had lived all his life just around 
the corner. 

He was so jolly and companionable, so much 



Dick Haselridge 37 

the old comrade and so little the despairing 
lover that, try as she might, Dick could not be 
sorry that he was there. He would tell her 
nothing about his plans save that he meant 
to stay around for a while. He said he found 
he could think better when he was within a 
mile of where she lived, and no entreaties could 
drive him away. 

That was in July, and now, at Christmas, the 
situation was unchanged. With any other man 
it would have been intolerable, but he was dif- 
ferent. Save on rare occasions, he was always 
just as on that first evening, the same lazy, 
amused, round-faced, good-hearted Jack. And 
she was forced to admit to herself that she was 
glad he had persisted in disobeying her. 

He was easily the best friend she had. To 
no one else could she show her thoughts just 
as they came, without stopping first to look at 
them and see if they held together. With no 
one else did she feel beyond the possibility of 
misunderstanding. He was oh, he was the 
best of good comrades. 

Ah, Dick! your eight minutes have slipped 
away and another eight, and still you are not 
dressed for dinner. 



CHAPTER III 

THE WILL 

IN quite another quarter of the city from the 
crowded thoroughfare where we first saw Dick, 
is another street, very different, but quite as 
interesting. It is narrow and dark ; it does not 
celebrate the holiday time with gayly dressed 
shop windows ; between the two black ranks 
of buildings that front on it, it is quite empty, 
save for alert policemen who patrol it, and the 
storm which has became ill natured as it whips 
angrily around corners. You may search as 
you will about this great city, but you will 
hardly find a spot more dismal, more chilling, 
more to be shunned on this jolly Christmas Eve. 
There is no doubt a dreariness of poverty, but 
the dreariness of wealth is worse ; hidden, 
guarded, vaulted wealth, like that which lies 
behind these thick stone walls. For this street 
is the commercial heart of a great commercial 
city. And by day all about in the city and the 
38 



The Will 39 

country, in the great shops and office buildings 
and in the country store, men buy and sell, lend 
and borrow, without money, only with a faith 
in the wealth this cheerless street contains. 
Should it be destroyed, should the faith in 
it be shaken but for a day, unopened shutters 
would bear the bills of sheriffs' sales, and 
cold ashes would lie under the boilers of great 
factories. At night the heart stops beat- 
ing, the crowds go away, and that which has 
been sent throbbing through the arteries of 
trade comes back to lie safely in thick steel 
chambers, where barred doors bear cunning 
locks that never sleep, but tick watchfully till 
morning. 

Upon this street, squeezed in uncomfortably 
by two of the modern towers of Babel which our 
civilization seems to have made necessary, stands 
a thick, squat building of an older architecture, 
which might look rather imposing, did not its 
sky-scraping neighbors dwarf it to a mere notch 
between them. And in front of this building, 
which is, as you may have guessed, the home of 
Bagsbury and Company's Savings Bank, there 
drew up, at about eight o'clock on this Christ- 
mas Eve, a carriage. A footman clambered 



40 The Banker and tlie Bear 

numbly from the box, opened the door, and 
helped old Mr. Bagsbury to extricate himself 
from his nest of rugs and furs ; then he almost 
carried the old man across the wind-swept side- 
walk and up the stairs, transferring him at the 
door to the care of Thomas Jones, the watch- 
man. 

" Call for me in about an hour, James. I 
shall have Ah, that gale is bitter ! I shall 
have finished by that time." 

Thomas Jones led him to the little private 
office in the corner, lighted the gas, and then 
went out, closing the door behind him. Left 
alone, the old man dropped into a chair and 
sat there shivering for several minutes ; his 
coat was still buttoned tightly round him, and 
his heavily gloved hands were crammed into the 
pockets. The fire of life was burning very low 
in old John Bagsbury, and he knew it ; an in- 
stinct, which he did not even try to reason with, 
often took him, even on wild nights like this, to 
the badly lighted room that was his only real 
home. 

Finally he rose and walked to his private safe, 
and, after fumbling with stiff fingers over the 
combination, opened it and took out a small 



The Will 41 

iron box which he carried to the desk. Then, 
sitting down before it, he drew off his fur 
gloves and took out the neat piles of memo- 
randa and the papers which it contained. There 
was nothing to be done to them, for his affairs 
had, for years, been perfectly ordered ; but he 
read over the carefully listed securities as 
though he expected to find some mistake. The 
lists were long, for he was rich ; not so im- 
moderately rich, it is true, as he would have 
been, had there been a generous admixture of 
daring with his great shrewdness and caution, 
but still rich enough to count his fortune by 
the millions. 

After a while, he laid the other papers back 
in the box, moved it a little to one side to make 
room, spread a large document out flat on the 
desk and bent over it, rubbing his cramped old 
hands together between his knees, and smiling 
faintly. Yes, there could be no doubt about it ; 
it was sane, it was clear, it was inviolable ; it 
would hold safe the thing he loved best, from 
rash hands that would recklessly destroy it. 

In a small, snug room in young John Bags- 
bury's house, by courtesy a library, though one 



42 The Banker and the Bear 

modest case held all its books, John and Dick 
Haselridge were talking, or, rather, John was 
talking, while Dick listened. They were on 
opposite sides of the big desk that occupied the 
middle of the room, John in the easy-chair, and 
Dick in the swivel chair that stood before 
the desk, where she could make little pencil 
sketches on the blotter. They were alone, for 
Martha, John's thirteen-year-old daughter, had 
gone to bed long ago, and Alice, who always 
grew sleepy very soon after John began talk- 
ing shop, had followed her. It was by no 
means the first of the long talks John and Dick 
had had together, for he had not been slow to 
discover and delight in her swift comprehension 
and her honest appreciation of the turns and 
twists of his business. There was no affecta- 
tion in her display of interest, for the active 
side of life, the exercise of judgment and skill, 
appealed to her very strongly. 

But to-night the talk had taken another turn, 
and, somewhat to his own alarm, John found 
himself telling her about his gloomy boyhood, 
his disappointment in his father's bank, and 
the ambition which had driven him out of it. 
His talk revealed to Dick more than he knew ; 



The Will 43 

for between the words she could read how the 
still unfulfilled ambition was not dead, but 
stronger than ever; how the successes of all 
those years meant nothing to him, except as 
they hastened the time when he should have 
the policy of Bagsbury and Company's Savings 
Bank in his own hands. 

If it was easy to talk to Dick, it was delight- 
ful to watch her as she listened. She had 
pushed aside the reading lamp, and with her 
hands was shading her eyes from its light ; but 
still he could see the quick frown which would 
draw down her brows when the meaning of one 
of his technicalities baffled her, and her nod of 
comprehension when she understood. There 
was no need for explanation now : he was tell- 
ing her of his first meeting with Sponley, and 
how the desire, aroused by the speculator's sug- 
gestion that he leave his father's bank, had 
grown until it was irresistible, and, finally, how 
he had told his father of his determination to 
go to work for Dawson. 

At the mention of Sponley's name Dick had 
dropped her eyes, and the pencil resumed its 
play over the blotter; her dislike for the man 
was so strong that she was afraid of showing 



44 The Banker and the Bear 

it to his friend. But when John told her of 
his parting from his father, she looked up 
again. 

" That must have been a terrible disappoint- 
ment to grandfather," she said slowly. 

" I never heard you call him that before." 

" I don't believe I ever did ; I know I never 
have thought of him that way. And I never 
was truly sorry for him till just now." 

" Sorry for him ! " John exclaimed. 

Dick nodded. " Perhaps because it's Christ- 
mas Eve," she said. 

" Do you suppose," she asked a moment later, 
"that he'll come over to-morrow? He always 
comes on Christmas, doesn't he ? " 

" Nearly always," he answered. " He gener- 
ally comes two or three times a year. But he's 
getting pretty old now." 

" What an utterly lonely life he's led all these 
years," said Dick. "Think of it! I wonder " 

The sharp jangle of the telephone bell cut her 
short. John sprang up to answer it. 

"Yes. Who is this? Thomas Jones? Oh, 
yes at the bank What do you say ? 
Are you sure ? Have you a doctor there ? 
Yes, I'll be over directly." 



The Will 45 

He turned to Dick, who had risen and was 
standing close beside him. 

" I've got to go out for a while," he said. 
" There's a man sick over at the bank." 

" Who is it ? " she asked. " Is it grandfather ? " 

John answered her, " He's over at our bank 
his bank. The watchman telephoned. He 
thinks he's dead, but it may be only a faint. 
I'm going down there right away." 

As he spoke, he turned back to the telephone ; 
his hand was on the bell crank when Dick 
said : 

"I'm going, too. You telephone for a car- 
riage, and I'll be ready as soon as it comes." 

" You ! You mustn't go. There'll be nothing 
you can do." 

"I want to very much," she answered. 
" Please take me." 

With a nod of assent he rang the bell, and she 
hurried from the room. 

Their drive to the bank was a silent one, and 
though they went rapidly, it seemed a long time 
to Dick before they stopped in front of the dis- 
mal building in the narrow street. When they 
alighted, John led the way into the bank, picking 
his way about in the dimness with the confidence 



46 The Banker and the Bear 

of perfect familiarity ; he knew that nothing had 
been changed in all the years. 

At the door of the private office John paused 
an instant, uncovered, and looked about on the 
well-known appointments of the little room 
before he dropped his gaze on the stark figure 
lying upon the worn old sofa. Then he walked 
across to it, and Dick followed him into the 
office. The two stood a minute looking down 
in silence on the figure of the old man ; then 
John turned and spoke to Thomas Jones, who 
had arisen from his chair in the corner when 
they came in. 

"You were right," said John. "He is dead. 
Hasn't the doctor come ? " 

" No, sir. I sent Mr. Bagsbury's carriage 
after him as directly as I found out what had 
happened, before I telephoned to you. He 
should be here by now." 

" Did he die here, on the sofa, I mean ? " John 
asked. 

" In his chair, sir. I heard a noise, and when 
I came in I found that he had fallen over on 
the desk; his head and arms were resting on 
those papers. I thought it might be just a faint, 
and carried him over here." 



The Will 47 

At the mention of the desk, John turned to 
it. There were two minutes of silence after 
Thomas Jones had finished speaking, and then 
they heard in the street the rumble of the car- 
riage. 

" It's the doctor," said John. "Go and bring 
him up here." 

The man went out, and still John's eyes rested 
on the disordered papers upon the desk. Dick, 
standing at his left, but a pace behind him, had 
also turned her eyes from the dead figure of 
the old banker ; she was intently watching the 
son's face. Once she started to speak, but hesi- 
tated; then, seeing a slight motion of John's 
body, a motion that seemed preparatory to a 
step toward the desk, she took a swift decision. 

" They're his private papers, aren't they ? " 
she said. " Hadn't we better put them away ? 
They shouldn't lie here." 

"Yes," said John, decisively. "Will you do 
it?" 

He stood watching her without volunteering 
to help while she laid the papers back in the 
iron box. 

" It has a spring lock," he said, when she had 
finished. " You have only to shut it." 



48 The Banker and the Bear 

When he heard the lock click, he walked to 
the safe and pulled open the heavy door. Dick 
carried the box to the safe and put it in, and 
John shut the door, shot the bolts, and spun the 
combination knob around vigorously. 

" They're all right now," he said. Then he 
walked to the chair in the corner, though the 
big office chair that stood before the desk was 
nearer, and sat down, just as Thomas came in 
with the doctor. 

The day after the funeral John went to the 
office of his father's attorney to hear the reading 
of the will. Judge Hayes he had been a judge 
once was a stout little man with a bald, round 
head ; he had no eyebrows worth mentioning 
nor lashes, and altogether his red wrinkled face 
was laughably like that of a baby. His shell- 
rimmed eye-glasses, by looking ridiculously out 
of place, only made this effect the more striking. 

He ushered John into his private office, 
closed the door, motioned John to a seat, sat 
down heavily in his own broad chair, and began 
rummaging fussily through his littered desk to 
find the will. It may seem strange that a 
lawyer whom old John Bagsbury would trust 
should be so careless about an important docu- 



The Will 49 

ment like a last will and testament, that finding 
it in his desk should be a matter of difficulty ; 
but it is certain that Judge Hayes had looked in 
every pigeonhole in his desk, and had opened 
every drawer and shut it again with a bang, 
before his hand alighted upon the paper which 
at this moment meant more than anything else 
to the man who sat waiting. All the while the 
Judge had been hailing down a shower of small 
remarks upon all conceivable subjects, and John 
had answered all of them in a voice that gave no 
hint of impatience. 

At last he unfolded the will, swung round in 
his chair to get a better light on it, tilted back 
at a seemingly perilous angle, cleared his throat, 
and said : 

"This storm makes it rather hard to see. 
I wonder how many more days it will last ? " 

" I guess it's about worked itself out," said 
John. " It can't last forever." 

Judge Hayes began reading in that rapid 
drone which lawyers affect, but he knew the will 
almost by heart, and he found time to cast many 
swift glances at John Bagsbury. 

John sat low in his chair, his chin on his 
breast, his legs crossed, his thumbs hooked into 

E 



50 

his trousers pockets. His eyes were half closed, 
the lower lids being drawn to meet the drooping 
upper ones ; his gaze seemed fixed on one of 
the casters of the lawyer's chair; his brows 
bore the slight frown of a man who listens 
intently. And that was all ; though the lawyer's 
glance grew more expectant and alert as he pro- 
ceeded, there was no change in the lines of 
John Bagsbury's face or figure to betray anger 
or disappointment or annoyance not even a 
movement of his suspended foot. 

Not until Judge Hayes had read the will to 
the last signature and tossed it back into his 
desk, did John speak. 

" If I have caught the gist of it," he said, 
" my father has left me nearly all of his 
fortune " 

" The greater part of it," corrected the lawyer. 

" Which amounts to something less than three 
million dollars " 

"Somewhat less, yes; considerably less." 

" But that it is all trusteed," John went on 
quite evenly, " so that I can't touch a cent of it, 
except part of the income." 

" Not without the express consent of the 
trustees," said Judge Hayes. 



The Will 51 

" The same conditions," said John, with a 
faint smile, " which would apply to my touching 
your money. As I understand it, these three 
trustees are allowed the widest discretion ; they 
may do with my property just what they think 
best " 

The lawyer nodded. 

" Even to the extent of turning it over to me 
unconditionally." 

Here the lawyer smiled. " Even to that 
extent," he said. 

"They vote my bank stock just as though 
they owned it," said John. 

" Precisely." 

" Suppose they disagree ? " 

"Then it can't be voted at all." 

" Well," said John, rising, " I guess I under- 
stand. How soon shall we be able to get the 
will proved ? " 

" If everything goes smoothly," said the 
Judge, "that is, if there is no contest and no 
irregularity of any sort, we should be able to 
prove it in a week or two." 

"There will be no contest, I imagine," said 
John. " Good day." 

As the door closed behind John, Judge Hayes 



52 The Banker and the Bear 

swung back to his desk, put his elbows on it, 
and his chin on his hands, and for the next ten 
minutes he meditated upon the attainments 
and the prospects of the man who had just left 
him. For the past half hour he had tried all 
that long experience and a fertile mind could 
suggest to tear off what he felt to be John's 
mask of indifference. He knew what a blow 
that will must be, and he wanted to see how the 
real man, the man inside the shell, was taking 
it. He felt sure that the composure was a 
veneer, and he had done his best to rasp through 
it. "Well," he concluded, as he reluctantly 
turned to something else, "the coating is laid 
on confounded thick." 

As for John, he was walking swiftly up the 
street with the unmistakable air of a man who 
is about to attempt something, and intends to 
succeed in it. And yet, to all appearances, the 
situation was hopeless. His father had held a 
majority of the stock in the bank ; the rest was 
in the hands of investors who had been attracted 
by the eminent respectability and conservatism 
of the policy the old man had established, and 
it was not likely they would look with favor on 
anything in the way of a change. And the 



The Will S3 

three trustees whom old Mr. Bagsbury had 
selected were men after his own heart, crusty, 
obstinate, timorous. They controlled John's 
stock a majority of all the stock of the bank 
as absolutely as if they were the joint owners 
of it. 

But an ironical providence has ordained that 
excessive caution shall often overreach itself, 
and the old man's attempt to make safer what 
was already safe, gave John his opportunity. 
Had there been but one trustee, John's case 
would indeed have been hopeless ; but old Mr. 
Bagsbury, finding it impossible to trust any one 
man utterly, had trusted three. 

In a flash of intuition John had seen his 
chance and had asked Judge Hayes the ques- 
tion, whose significance the lawyer had failed to 
grasp, even as he answered it. As John walked 
along the street he smiled over a proverb which 
was running in his head. Doubtless it was a 
wild injustice to think of three blameless old 
men as rogues, but in their falling out lay John's 
hope of coming into his own. For if the trus- 
tees should disagree as to the way his stock 
should be voted at the annual meeting, it could 
not be voted at all ; and if John and his friends 



54 The Banker and the Bear 

could get control of more than half the stock 
now in the hands of outsiders, he could put 
himself where, he knew he belonged, at the 
head of Bagsbury and Company's Savings 
Bank. 

One "if" is enough to bring most men anx- 
iety and sleepless nights; two "if's," both of 
them slender ones, may well drive a brave man 
to despair. But there was no thought of fail- 
ure in John's mind ; he meant to win. 

John was one of the best bankers in the city, 
which is another way of saying that he knew 
men as well as he knew markets. Not men in 
a general, philosophical sort of way Men, with 
a big letter; he had no interest in " types." But 
he knew Smith and Jones and Robinson right 
down to the ground. He knew the customers 
of Dawson's bank and of other banks too men 
who came to him to persuade him to lend them 
money; he knew their tricks and their tempers 
as well as their balances. And in all the years 
of waiting he had not been ignorant of the way 
things were going with Bagsbury and Company. 
He knew his father's customers, his friends, 
such as they were, and he knew the three old 
trustees, Meredith, Cartwright, and Moffat. 



The Will 55 

He knew that you couldn't talk to Cart- 
wright ten minutes without having Meredith 
quoted at you, or to Meredith without hearing 
some new instance of Cartwright's phenome- 
nally accurate judgment; that each thought the 
other only the merest hair's breadth his inferior, 
and that they could be relied on to agree and 
continue to agree indefinitely. 

And Moffat? John smiled when he thought 
of him. The one thing in the world which 
Moffat couldn't tolerate was obstinacy; and as 
nearly everybody Moffat knew was disgust- 
ingly wrong-headed, old Mr. Moffat found it 
difficult to get on smoothly with people. Mof- 
fat could not explain why men should be so 
cock-sure and so perversely deaf to reason, but 
certainly he found them so. It was most un- 
fortunate, because though by intention one of 
the most peaceable of men, he was constantly 
being driven by righteous indignation into 
quarrels. 

When John left Judge Hayes, he headed 
straight for Mr. Moffat's office. The old gen- 
tleman welcomed him cordially, for he had 
always held Mr. Bagsbury in the highest 
esteem, and was prepared, if he should find in 



56 The Banker and the Bear 

John his father's common sense, to think well 
of him, too. 

John talked freely about the will, and con- 
fessed his disappointment that his father had 
not thought him capable of administering the 
fortune himself. He added, however, that his 
wish was the same as his father's, that the estate 
should be kept safe, and that he had no doubt 
it would be in the hands of the three trustees 
his father had chosen. They chatted on for 
some time, John feeling his way cautiously 
about among the old man's opinions, dropping 
a word now and then about Cartwright or 
Meredith, until finally he drew this remark 
from Mr. Moffat: 

"I have only the barest acquaintance with 
my fellow-trustees. Do you know them well ? " 

"I've known them for a good many years," 
John answered, "though I can't say that I 
know them well. They're thoroughly honora- 
ble, and they have some ability, too. You'll find 
they have a disagreeable habit of backing each 
other up, though. In that respect, they're like 
a well-trained pair of setter dogs. If one 
points, the other will too, and he'll stick to it 
whether he sees anything or not. But I've no 



The Will 57 

doubt you'll be able to get along with them well 
enough." 

With that he shifted the subject abruptly on 
another tack, and a few minutes later took his 
leave. He was well satisfied with the after- 
noon's work, for he felt confident that the Bags- 
bury holdings would not be voted at the next 
stockholders' meeting. It was a little seed he 
had sown, but it had fallen into good ground. 

He went straight home after that and found 
Dick curled up in the big chair in the library, 
reading. She glanced up at him, and as he 
spoke to her there was a vibrant quality in his 
voice that made her close her book and ask him 
what had happened. 

" I'm just going to telephone to Sponley," 
he said. " Listen, and you'll hear part of it. 
That'll save telling it twice." 

Over the telephone he told Sponley all about 
the terms of the will, adding that his only 
chance now lay in getting control of the outside 
stock. He asked Sponley to come to the house 
that night after dinner to talk things over. 

Then he rang off, and sitting down on the 
desk he told Dick what he had not told Spon- 
ley, all about his interview with M off at. And 



58 The Banker and the Bear 

though Dick nodded her pretty head apprecia- 
tively, and seemed thoroughly to grasp the situa- 
tion, yet when he finished her face still wore a 
puzzled frown. 

John was too busy making his plans to think 
much of it, but he wondered vaguely what she 
had failed to understand. 



CHAPTER IV 

A VICTORY 

DICK was, indeed, somewhat bewildered and 
disappointed. Had the events of Christmas 
Eve and the few following days occurred 
during the first month of her stay with the 
Bagsburys, she would have made no attempt 
to look beneath the surface, but would have 
packed her trunks and fled out of that grimy 
atmosphere with the least possible delay; and 
poor Jack Dorlin would have had to pull up his 
stakes and follow, who knows whither. But in 
the six months she had developed an affection 
for both John and Alice. She could not have 
told you why. They were totally different 
from her other friends. But our affections are 
based on no analysis. We like or love, not at 
all because we see in this person or that a 
certain combination of qualities, no more than 
we like beefsteak because it contains carbon 
and hydrogen and other uninviting elements 
59 



60 The Banker and the Bear 

in a fixed proportion. Perhaps Dick liked John 
and Alice because they had become so fond 
of her, because they gave her their confidences, 
or because she had brought a sweeter, fresher 
influence into their lives than either had known 
before, like a breath of country air in a smoky 
factory. 

She thought a good deal in the course of the 
first weeks following old Bagsbury's death and 
the reading of the will. She could not forget 
the scene she had witnessed, and in which she 
had finally taken a part, in the dingy little 
private office at the bank. She felt keenly the 
pathos of the old man's death there, over the 
desk which held his whole world ; his head 
among the papers which had received all the 
affection that his withered soul could give. 
But it was not the old man's death that had 
made her cry that night as she drove home 
alone in the jolting carriage ; it was the look she 
had seen in the son's face as he stood there, his 
back to the still figure on the sofa, and his eyes 
fastened greedily on those same papers. In 
this sordid presence even death seemed to lose 
its dignity. Yes, Dick had cried all the way 
home, simply with an uncontrollable disgust. 



A Victory 61 

And afterward, so soon afterward, she had 
seen his father's will become for John simply 
a legal document, which stood in his way, which 
was to be evaded, if possible, because evasion 
was swifter and surer than direct attack. For 
accomplishing his purpose no tool seemed too 
small, no way too devious. His disappointment 
over the will was not at all because it showed 
that he had not gained his father's confidence, 
but simply because it postponed or perhaps 
made impossible his getting control of his 
father's fortune. 

Dick knew how this would have affected her 
six months before. She was puzzled and a little 
ashamed to find herself justifying it now, and 
she feared that her friendship for John was 
blinding her. 

None the less it came about that Dick entered 
enthusiastically into the fight for the control of 
the stock. Hers was a spectator's part, and 
night after night, when around the big desk in 
the library sat John and Robins and Sponley, 
and sometimes old Dawson, who had retired 
from business, but whom John continued to 
regard as a sort of commercial godfather ; when 
the cigar smoke eddied thick about the read- 



62 The Banker and the Bear 

ing lamp, she would sit in the easy-chair in the 
darkest corner of the room, listening to the tele- 
graphic sentences which were shot back and 
forth. 

Then there were the evenings, and these too 
were frequent, when Jack Dorlin would come 
over and listen with what grace he could to 
Dick's account of the progress of the struggle. 
It did not interest him particularly ; but as Dick 
would not be induced to talk of anything else, 
he had to make the best of it. 

But one night his self-control gave way. 
Dick had been telling him, with great gusto, 
how more and more of the outside stock was 
either coming under John's control or was being 
promised to his support, and how old Mr. Moffat 
had already quarrelled violently with Mr. Mere- 
dith and Mr. Cartwright, and that he was coming 
round to John's side in a most satisfactory man- 
ner. She narrated it, as she did nearly every- 
thing, with just the lightest possible stress on the 
humorous aspect of it ; but Jack sat through it 
all with unshaken solemnity. 

" I don't see that it's particularly funny," he 
said at last. 

Dick flushed quickly, glanced at him and then 



A Victory 63 

back to the fire. But he was not looking at her, 
and after a little pause he went on : 

" It seems to me pretty small business, all 
round. It's rather different from anything I've 
ever known you to be interested in before. I 
can't quite understand your enthusiasm over 
it." 

" No," said Dick, " I don't suppose you can." 

Jack was warming to his subject, and he mis- 
read her words into an acknowledgment that he 
was right. 

" I've known you longer than John Bagsbury 
has," he went on, " and I think that I've as good 
a claim to your friendship ; but I'd like to know 
what you'd think of me if I should do a trick 
like that, go round and deliberately stir up a 
row so that I could profit by it." 

" I should think you were a cad," she said 
calmly, " and I should ask you not to call here 
in the future." 

" I should like to be able to see what makes 
the difference." 

" Why, this is the difference," Dick answered 
slowly ; " John Bagsbury is the sort of man that 
does things; and you're well, you'd rather watch 
other people do them," 



64 The Banker and the Bear 

She paused and glanced at his face ; then with 
a smile she went on : 

" It's like a football game. If you're stand- 
ing in the side lines, you aren't allowed to punch 
people's heads, or kick shins, but if you're run- 
ning with the ball, why nobody minds if you 
forget to be polite." 

" That's a bit rough," he said musingly, " but 
I'm not sure that you're not right and that 
I'm not just about as useless as that." 

"I didn't say that," she retorted, "and I 
don't mean it. It takes both sorts of people, 
of course, and I like you a great deal better 
than I do John Bagsbury; but I find there's 
rather more to life than I could see when I first 
came here ; and when a man's strong, as he is, 
and ambitious, and has a sort of courage that's 
more than just the love of a fight, and when he's 
honest with himself and lives up to what he 
knows, why, I admire him and I can forgive him 
if he has some callous spots. And I don't think 
that people who've never had his ambitions or 
temptations or anything can afford to look down 
on him." 

When she stopped she was breathing quickly, 
and her eyes were unusually bright, There was 



A Victory 65 

a long silence, and then she added, with a little 
laugh, 

" I never knew before that I could make a 
speech." 

He said nothing, and after a moment she 
glanced at him almost shyly, to discover if she 
had offended him. He did not look up, but 
kept his eyes fixed thoughtfully on the fire, so, 
secure in his preoccupation, she watched his 
face intently. Their comradeship had, for years, 
held itself to be above the necessity of conversa- 
tion; but to-night, as the silence deepened and 
endured, it brought to Dick a message it had 
not borne before. 

At length he spoke, "That's your ultima- 
tum, is it, Dick ? " 

There was something in his voice she had 
never heard before, and now she knew that ever 
since one evening long ago she had been wait- 
ing to hear it. Her heart leaped, and a wave of 
glad color came into her face, but she answered 
very quietly, 

"Yes, I suppose it is." 

For a little while he sat there looking at the 
fire, then he rose, and, standing beside her chair, 
let his hand rest lightly on her shoulder. 



66 The Banker and the Bear 

" Good night, Dick," he said simply. 

Next evening Robins and Bessel and Sponley 
came before John had fairly finished his dinner, 
and in the library the smoke was thicker and 
the talk choppier than ever before, and Dick, in 
her dark corner, listened more intently. The 
time for preparation was growing short; the 
decisive day was drawing very near. It could 
easily be seen now that the voting at the stock- 
holders' meeting would be close, horribly close, 
provided always that the trustees of John 
Bagsbury's stock could not agree as to how it 
should be voted. 

Leaving that out of the question, the fortunes 
of the day hung upon a large block of stock, 
which, according to the secretary's book, was 
the property of Jervis Curtin. How he meant 
to vote it, how he could be persuaded to 
vote it for John's faction, was the question 
which the four allies were met to discuss this 
evening. 

" Can't understand where he got money 
enough to buy a big chunk like that," said 
Robins. 

" Queer thing," Sponley answered. " Must 
have made some strike we don't know about. 



A Victory 67 

Anyhow, it seems he's got it, and the Lord 
only knows how he means to vote it. I've 
been talking to him till I'm tired, but I can't 
make him commit himself." 

" Know any reason any personal reason 
why he's holding back ? " asked Bessel. 

Sponley shook his head. " Never met him 
before this business came up," he answered. 

Melville Sponley was playing badly. He 
was a strong believer in the efficacy of truth, 
in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, and 
when forced to deviate from the truth he always 
tried to make the deviation as narrow as possi- 
ble. But just this once, to adopt fencer's par- 
lance, he parried wide ; he told more of a lie 
than was necessary, and by one of those haz- 
ards which are not astonishing only because 
they occur so frequently, by the veriest fluke in 
the world, Dick Haselridge knew he had lied. 
This is how it happened. A day or two before, 
Dick had gone to a song recital, and as the pro- 
gramme proved unexpectedly short, she found 
when she came out that the Bagsbury carriage 
had not yet come. While she was debating 
whether to wait for it or to try her fortunes in 
the elevated, Mrs. Jervis Curtin had offered to 



68 The Banker and the Bear 

take her home. Dick had met her just once 
and had not liked her, but the rain was pouring, 
and it was so much easier to accept than to 
decline that she did the former. On the way 
home Mrs. Curtin asked Dick to come home 
with her first and have a cup of tea, and Dick, 
who had been thinking hard about something 
else, assented before she thought. 

They had not been three minutes in the little 
reception room before they heard footsteps and 
voices in the hall. The portiere was thick, but 
Dick heard first a high voice, which she did not 
know, and then a gruffer one, which she seemed 
to recognize. As she glanced toward the por- 
tiere, Mrs. Curtin said, 

" That must be Mr. Sponley with Mr. Curtin." 
Mrs. Curtin had not the smallest interest 
in Melville Sponley, but something must serve 
for conversation until the kettle could be 
got to boil, and he made the best material 
at hand, so she talked about him : how a few 
months ago he had come to see Mr. Curtin a 
number of times ; how once he had brought Mrs. 
Sponley to call on them. She told Dick what 
she thought of them, and what her friends 
thought of them and a great deal more, which 



A Victory 69 

bored Dick and herself also exceedingly, so that 
both of them were very much relieved when 
it was possible for Dick to take her leave. 

But now ! 

Sponley had never thought Dick worth tak- 
ing into account. He believed her apparent 
interest in the fight for the bank to be nothing 
more than a pose. He had met many of those 
women who will affect an interest in anything 
so long as it is out of what used to be consid- 
ered "woman's sphere," and he took it for 
granted that Dick was doing the same thing. 
So though his eyes were everywhere else, they 
never fell on Dick. Had he looked at her now, 
he would have seen that she knew he had lied. 

She began to try to think out the meaning of 
it, but checked herself, for she must follow the 
discussion. 

"He's holding out for something, that's all 
there is to it," said Robins. "What do you 
suppose he wants? Board of Directors?" 

" He can't have that, if he does want it," 
said John. "We couldn't get him in if we 
wanted to try, and he's not the right sort, any 
way." 

"Wonder how something with 9. salary to it 



70 The Banker and the Bear 

would suit him," Sponley said thoughtfully. " I 
don't believe it would have to be too near the 
top, either." 

" Assistant cashier ? " asked John. 

Sponley nodded. " Guess we could land him 
with that," he said. 

John smiled rather ruefully. " We've got to 
have him, so I suppose we'll have to pay 
the price. It'll simply mean putting in a 
high-priced man for discount clerk to do his 
work." 

Those were busy days, for while John was 
bringing every available resource into line for 
the approaching struggle, Alice and Dick 
were superintending the rehabilitation of the 
gloomy old house where John had spent his 
boyhood, and which was now to be their home. 
It would be unfair not to mention Jack Dorlin 
in this connection, for his taste, his energy, when 
he chose to exert it, and his unlimited leisure 
made him a most valuable ally. The three 
spent about half their days in the big house, con- 
sulting, arguing the advisibility of this change 
or that, arranging and rearranging, until even 
Dick admitted she was tired. 

But she found time to tell Jack all she knew 



A Victory 71 

about the fight for the bank, and to her surprise 
she found that her enthusiasm had proved con- 
tagious, for Jack was infected with as great an 
eagerness over the result as she herself. 

Melville Sponley had the lion's share of their 
discussions, but they could not make out the 
purpose of his deceit. They were agreed that 
what they knew was too indefinite to speak to 
John about, at least as yet. 

" And any way," Jack observed, " Sponley 
isn't an out-and-out villain." 

"All the same," said Dick, "I wish we could 
find out what his purpose was in saying he didn't 
know Mr. Curtin." Then she added, laughing, 
"That does sound detectivish, doesn't it? We 
might set a detective to following Mr. Curtin." 

" Yes," he answered ; " say we do." 

The days of preparation and struggle came 
to an end at last, and John won. His father's 
stock was not voted, and of the Board of Direc- 
tors elected by the outside stock only two were 
likely to attempt to oppose his policy, while 
the other four were men he could count on to 
help him. He was sorry he had been forced 
to pledge to Curtin the position of assistant 
cashier; but he comforted himself with the 



72 The Banker and the Bear 

reflection that the concession had been well 
worth the price. 

He had arrived, not at the goal, but rather, 
after years of waiting, at what he regarded as 
the starting line. The situation was very dif- 
ferent from what he had been looking forward 
to. His hold on the presidency was so insecure 
that one of a dozen accidents might dislodge 
him ; but he was in no humor for complaining. 
He had a chance, and that was all John Bags- 
bury needed. 

When he came home, bearing the good news, 
even Alice was excited, and Dick could scarcely 
contain herself. Jack came over while they 
were still at dinner, and hearing his voice in 
the hall, she rushed from the table to welcome 
him. 

" Well, we've won," they cried simultaneously. 
Then they laughed and shook hands, both hands, 
and then for a second there seemed to be nothing 
more to say. 

Jack broke the silence. " When we get fairly 
settled, you must come down to see us." 

" We ! Us ! " she exclaimed. " Jack ! what do 
you mean ? " 

"Why," he said, " I asked Mr. Bagsbury for 



A Victory 73 

a job, and he has promised me one. I believe 
it is in what they call the kindergarten." 

She had been looking at him in doubt as to 
whether or not he was making game of her ; but 
now she saw that he was telling the truth, and 
she interrupted. 

" Jack ! Jack ! " she cried. Then with a little 
laugh she began again. " Oh, you absurd " 
Again she stopped and said composedly : 

" We've not finished dinner yet. Will you 
come into the dining room to wait, or would you 
rather go into the library where you can smoke ? " 

Jack went into the library and lighted a cigar 
very deliberately. Then he remarked with con- 
viction, 

" If she'd looked that way for another second, 
I'd have kissed her." 



CHAPTER V 

OLD FRIENDS 

SPONLEY drove home immediately after the re- 
sult of the election became known ; but Harriet 
had expected him earlier, and when she heard 
the carriage drive up, she hurried into the hall 
and opened the door before he reached it. 

" How did you come out ? " she asked. 

" We win," he answered, " and comfortably, 
too." 

He closed the door behind him and then 
kissed her, and while she was helping him out 
of his great-coat, he asked her how her day had 
gone. 

"Well enough," she answered briefly, "but 
never mind about that. I want to know all 
about the stockholders' meeting." 

From a casual glance they seem to have 
changed but little since John Bagsbury's wed- 
ding day. Sponley has put on another twenty 
pounds of flesh ; he is so heavy now that he 
74 



Old Friends 75 

walks but little and sits down whenever it is 
possible. His hair is thinner and his lower eye- 
lids sag somewhat, showing the red. As for 
Harriet, her once black hair is really very gray, 
and the lines are drawn deeper in her face ; but 
her color is as fresh as ever, and her carriage is 
erect. Only a close observer would note that 
her eyes are too bright and are seldom still, and 
that the color in her cheeks flickers at a sudden 
noise or movement. When she is left alone and 
is sure that no one sees, her nervous energy 
seems to depart suddenly and leave her limp 
and exhausted ; then her face grows haggard, 
and she stares at objects without seeing them. 

Twenty years ago Sponley would have ob- 
served; he would have surrounded her with 
doctors and nurses, or have taken her away to 
some quiet place where she might rest. He 
would do all that now, and more, only he does 
not see. For the years have changed him too. 

Melville Sponley and others like him are the 
soldiers of fortune of to-day. The world has 
always known these gentry in every grade in 
the social scale, from the great duke, who once 
led the armies of the queen of England and was 
never unwilling to sell out to any one who could 



76 The Banker and the Bear 

afford to pay his price, to the poor devil who, 
for a half crown, would drive a knife into a 
man's back; whatever their ability, whatever 
their weapons, daggers, or collateral securities, 
they are all alike in this : that not having, but 
getting, is their purpose ; it is not the stake but 
the play that interests them. In all the active 
years of business, Sponley has never pro- 
duced any wealth, he has never fostered an 
industrial enterprise or any commercial inter- 
est whatever ; he has juggled with many and has 
wrecked not a few. He has fought now on this 
side of the market, now on that, and he has yet 
to meet with his first real defeat. That is partly 
due to luck, no doubt, but not so much as many 
men suppose. Like any other soldier of fortune, 
he wins by the difference between his nerve and 
quickness of judgment and that of other men. 

It is very easy to call such a man a rascal 
when you are reading about him in a book ; 
but if you begin doing it among the men of 
your acquaintance, it will be awkward. 

There is indeed a blind spot on Melville 
Sponley's moral retina which gives him only a 
very confused sense of the eighth command- 
ment; but still Jack Dorlin was right in saying 



Old Friends 77 

that he is not a thorough-going villain. In the 
score of years past he has done much good ; he 
has, whenever possible, been loyal to his friends, 
and he has never ceased to hold a genuine 
affection for his wife ; but the struggle has 
hardened him, has cased him in a shell, and like 
an old-time man-at-arms in a helmet, he can 
see only the thing immediately in front of him. 
Harriet has been in the fight, too, only hers 
has been the harder part. When she married 
Melville Sponley, she gave up everything to 
him, and through all the years she has had no 
interests but his. She has followed all his 
campaigns, has praised him and schemed with 
him, and been ambitious as he himself for his 
success. Had she borne him any children 
whose care would have brought a gentler influ- 
ence into her life, or even if she had been able 
to find any real companionship among other 
women, it might have been different. But as 
it is, in spite of her courage and determination, 
the strain has been unendurable, and her nerves 
have been breaking, slowly at first, but more 
rapidly in these last few months ; and as her 
own ambition has always been that she might 
help him win, the terror that has dogged her 



78 The Banker and the Bear 

has been that she may prove a drag upon him. 
So she has told herself every day that she is 
glad he does not see. 

To their friends, their home life shows few 
changes after the twenty years. It was still as 
comfortable and quiet and unostentatious as 
when John Bagsbury was first introduced into 
it. They live in the same house, and to-night, 
after dinner, they came out into the same big 
fire-lit room where John met Alice Blair. 

Sponley lighted a cigar and dropped into his 
easy-chair before the fire, while Harriet sat 
down at the piano. He never tired of hearing 
her play, and now he listened comfortably and 
blew smoke rings. But as the minutes went by 
her music lost consequence and ceased to be 
anything but a fitful progression of hard, disso- 
nant chords. Once he glanced curiously at her, 
but her eyes were on the keys, and she did not 
see him. Finally she struck a grating discord, 
softly, and continued it as though loath to let 
it go until it throbbed away in silence. 

" What the dickens are you playing ! " he 
exclaimed. 

Her hands leaped from the keys ; she caught 
her breath in a gasp, and there came a splash 



Old Friends 79 

of color into her face followed by a dead pallor. 
Two or three seconds passed before she could 
command her voice. 

" You startled me," she said monotonously ; 
" I was thinking." 

" I'm sorry," he said, with real concern. 
"You're so different from other women in the 
matter of nerves that I never think of your 
having any." 

She smiled somewhat ruefully at the com- 
pliment. " I was thinking," she said, " about 
that Jervis Curtin affair. It puzzles me. You 
haven't told me all about it." 

She paused to give him a chance to reply, but 
he only gazed meditatively at the thread of blue 
smoke rising from his cigar, and after a moment 
she went on : 

" Of course I know that you helped him out 
a few months ago when he mixed himself up 
in some speculation or other, and I know Mrs. 
Jervis Curtin, too ; so that it seems queer that 
he should have been able to get hold of enough 
of the Bagsbury stock to lay down the law to 
you and John." 

" There's nothing to make a mystery about," 
he said at length. " He hasn't any of the stock ; 



8o The Banker and the Bear 

not a dollar of it. I hold all that's in his name. 
I had him get it for me because I thought I 
might be able to use it to better advantage 
if it wasn't known to belong to me." 

"Why did you put him in the bank ? " 

" He wanted it ; he can't afford to do nothing. 
You're right in thinking that his wife spends 
more than his income, and he needed the salary. 
I put him in just on general principles." 

" With the understanding that he's to watch 
John Bagsbury," she said quickly. 

" With no definite understanding at all. Of 
course, in a general way, he's there in my inter- 
est, and he knows it." 

" What are you planning to do to John ? " 
she asked. " Stick him or squeeze him or 
something ? I thought you two were friends." 

" We are friends," Sponley answered slowly, 
patiently, as one might speak to a child. " And 
I'm not laying any plot to stick him. Nobody 
does that wantonly, unless he's a great fool. It's 
a kind of smartness that doesn't pay. We are 
friends," he repeated, "and I hope we always 
may be. I honestly believe that our interests 
lie together." 

" Then I don't see why you go to the trouble 
of hiring a man to spy on him." 



Old Friends 8 1 

" If a man could trust absolutely to his fore- 
sight, he wouldn't have to do things like that, 
but he can't. I don't expect to have to fight 
John Bagsbury ; but something may turn up 
that I'm not looking for. If it does, I'm better 
off for not laying all my cards on the table. 
That's all. But I'd go a long way to avoid a 
fight with him." 

"Then your friendship for him is just like 
your friendship for other men, only a little 
more so ; it goes just as far as it pays." 

He said nothing. She rose abruptly, walked 
to the window, and drawing aside the curtain, 
stood looking at the dusty snow on the ledge. 
She had suddenly felt that she could not bear 
to look at him, he sat so still. After a moment 
she spoke again. 

" I knew it was that way at first. We made 
friends with him because we thought it would 
help along. But I thought that in all these 
years he had got to be something more to you 
than just a good investment that you'd hate 
to have to take your money out of." 

Still he did not speak. He had not even 
turned his head when she had walked to the 
window. 



82 The Banker and the Bear 

" I wonder " her voice, in spite of her 
effort, was fast getting beyond her control 
" I wonder if there's anything anything in 
the world that's any more to you than that, 
or if I'm just part of the game. Oh," she 
choked, but recovered her voice and went on 
rapidly, "you didn't want to tell me about the 
Curtin business. Is it because " 

He rose heavily from his chair ; and, coming 
up behind her, laid his hands on her shoulders. 
" Steady," he said ; " you're tired to-night. I 
hadn't noticed before, but you must be rather 
played out. I never knew you to break this way 
before. What you need is a good rest. You 
go to bed now, and to-morrow, when you feel 
better, we'll talk about going away somewhere 
where you can rest up." 

" No," she said quickly, facing him, " I don't 
want to go away. I'd rather see it out here." 

With an effort, which he did not at all appre- 
ciate, she was rapidly regaining control of her- 
self. When next she spoke, her manner was 
natural. 

"I'm rather fagged to-night," she admitted; 
"but I'll be all right in the morning. And I 
had been worrying over your not telling me 



Old Friends 83 

about that. I've been acting in a very silly 
way about it. Forget it, dear, won't you ? " 

" I think we'd better call it square," he an- 
swered, smiling. " I ought to have told you all 
about it. I don't quite know why I didn't." 

He went upstairs with her ; then, leaving her 
at the door, came down to finish his cigar. 

He sat there a long time, thinking. Harriet's 
break, as he called it, alarmed him ; largely, it 
must be confessed, on his own account. She 
was the only companion he had ; she stimulated 
him and rested him, and, what was most impor- 
tant, she appreciated him. The delight would 
be gone out of a successful campaign if she 
were not at his elbow to perceive and applaud 
and suggest. Yet his thoughts were not wholly 
selfish. Harriet was the best part of him ; his 
affection for her was perhaps induced only by 
her strong devotion to him, but whatever its 
cause and its limitations, it was genuine. But 
he did not at all appreciate how serious her 
condition really was, and he soon ceased think- 
ing about her at all. 

He took up the evening paper, and after 
reflecting a long while over the commercial 
pages, he decided that lard was going to be 



84 The Banker and the Bear 

a lot higher in the next few months, and that 
he would buy some next day. Then he threw 
aside the paper, and his mind reverted to John 
Bagsbury. In telling Harriet that he did not 
expect ever to be forced into a fight with John, 
he had not been frank. There was, indeed, as 
yet no reason for anticipating such an occur- 
rence ; but Sponley was intelligent enough to 
trust his intuitions, and he felt sure that sooner 
or later he and John would have to settle the 
question as to which was the better man. 

He had no idea when the struggle would 
come ; he would have been greatly surprised 
had he known how imminent it really was ; and 
he could form no guess as to what could precipi- 
tate it. But he knew he would be ready for it 
when it did come, and at the thought he smiled 
in genuine artistic anticipation. John Bagsbury 
was a worthy antagonist. Sponley did not wish 
to fight him, he would go far to avoid fighting 
him ; but if it should come to that, and he 
knew in his heart it would, well, the fight 
would be worth coming a long way to see. 



CHAPTER VI 

LARD 

" Is Mr. Bagsbury in ? " 

The question was addressed to Jervis Curtin, 
who was sitting at his desk just outside the 
private office. 

" I think so," he answered. " Just go right 
through into the inner office. I fancy you'll 
find him there." 

The visitor nodded, and, walking through the 
cashier's private office, entered John Bagsbury's 
sanctum and closed the door behind him. 

"Who is he ? " Curtin asked of a clerk who 
happened to be standing near his desk. 

" Don't you know him ? That's Pickering, 
William George Pickering, the soap man. 
You've heard of Pickering's Diamond Soap, 
haven't you ? Well, he's the man. It's pretty 
poor soap, I guess, but he got the scheme of 
making it in diamond-shaped cakes, and it 
caught right on. He's richer'n the devil." 
85 



86 The Banker and the Bear 

The clerk thought Curtin looked interested, 
so he was encouraged to continue his remarks. 

" He takes a whirl at the market every now 
and then, too. He smashed up that Smith deal 
last winter: smashed it all to smithereens. 
Just a joke," he added, to explain the fact that 
he had giggled, "Smith smithereens. But, as 
I was saying, Pickering's a corker. He just 
lays low and doesn't show his hand until " 

"Good Lord!" ejaculated Curtin, with a 
laugh. " That's enough. I don't want to write 
his biography." 

" All right," said the clerk, " I just came over 
to ask you if I should enter that " 

"You'd better take it to Mr. Jackson or Mr. 
Peters," Curtin interrupted quickly. " I haven't 
time to see about it now." 

" But " the clerk began. 

" I've got to meet a man," said Curtin, looking 
at his watch, "in exactly three minutes, at a 
place just five and a half squares from here, so 
you'll have to excuse me," and seizing his hat, 
he fled. 

The younger man stared after him disap- 
provingly and then walked back toward his 
own place, stopping for a talk with one of his 



Lard 87 

fellow-clerks, who was none other than Jack 
Dorlin. 

" That man Curtin doesn't know a damn 
thing," he said. " I can't see, if Bagsbury is as 
good a banker as they say he is, why he doesn't 
get on to it. Any man who knows anything 
much about banking, can see that Curtin isn't 
fit for his job." 

Jack stopped his pencil, which was moving 
slowly up a column of figures, just as carefully 
as though he had not lost count two inches 
back. " I'll tell you what, Hillsmead," he said 
to the clerk, " I should think you'd go and 
speak to Mr. Bagsbury about it." 

" Oh, that wouldn't do at all. You see, it 
wouldn't be good form, in the first place, and 
then I don't believe he'd see it, anyway. But 
Curtin is certainly no good. Why, he'd never 
heard of W. G. Pickering ! " And Jack lis- 
tened with what gravity he could command 
while Hillsmead repeated the recital with which 
he just favored the assistant cashier, until the 
joke about Smith with the explanation 
gave him excuse to laugh immoderately. Hills- 
mead was to Jack the one bright spot about 
the bank. 



88 The Banker and the Bear 

Jervis Curtin was not exactly popular among 
the employees of Bagsbury and Company. No 
man of his invincible ignorance about banking, 
and in his highly salaried position, could be 
popular in any bank. But his good-humored 
manner saved him from being cordially hated, 
and made it possible for him to think that his 
associates liked him. As for his ignorance, 
that did not trouble him at all. The only thing 
that he did not entirely relish was his relation 
to Melville Sponley. Spying is at best not an 
occupation conducive to any great degree of 
self-satisfaction, and unsuccessful spying is still 
less gratifying to one's pride. Months had 
passed since Curtin had entered the bank, and 
as yet he had been able to tell Sponley noth- 
ing of importance which the speculator had not 
already learned directly from John. 

But something important was going on now 
in the private office. 

" Yes," John was saying ; " we'd be very 
glad to open an account with you." 

"I suppose you understand," said Pickering, 
slowly, "that at one time or another I shall 
want to borrow a good deal of money." 

John smiled. "That's why I want your 



Lard 89 

business," he said. " Good loans are what 
I'm looking for. This bank's in good shape. 
We'll be able to take care of you without any 
trouble." 

"There may be times," the soap manufac- 
turer went on, " when I shall want a big chunk 
of money in a hurry. Now, I believe in con- 
servative banking; that's why I'm coming to 
you. But I don't want anything to do with 
the kind of conservatism that'll leave me in 
the lurch without any warning the first time it 
comes to a pinch. That was the trouble over 
at the other place. They got scared and let go 
of me once in a rather tight place, after they'd 
told me that they'd see me through. The col- 
lateral I offered them was all right, but they'd 
lost their nerve. Stevenson was so scared he 
told me to go to hell. I came near going, too. 
I got out all right, but it was a close thing 
a question of minutes." 

" I wouldn't wreck the bank for the sake of 
backing up any of your little amusements," 
said John. " I'd sell you out the minute I 
thought it necessary to save the bank a loss; 
and if I thought a loan was bad, I wouldn't 
throw good money after it. But if I tell you 



90 The Banker and the Bear 

I'll see you through, I'll do it; and if I tell you 
you can have so much money to-morrow, you'll 
get it to-morrow, no matter what's happened 
over night. I'll not get scared. It's a crime 
for a banker to lose his nerve. I'll tell you 
this, though," he added, laughing, " I wouldn't 
take more than three accounts like yours for 
a hundred thousand a year salary. You're 
the sort of fellows that make a banker's head 
white." He had thrust his hands into his 
trousers pockets and slipped far down in his 
chair, resting his head against the back of it. 
" I guess I can take care of one of you all 
right, though," he said. 

Pickering looked at him thoughtfully a mo- 
ment ; then he said : 

" I guess you can. We'll get on together first 
rate." 

John straightened up in his chair and nodded. 
"We'll call it settled, then. Do you want to 
make a deposit to-day?" 

"Yes," said Pickering; "I want it fixed up 
right away. I'll deposit a hundred thousand. 
I want a loan, too." 

" A big one ? " 

Pickering nodded. " Half a million," he said 
calmly. 



Lard 91 

" Yes," said John, with a dry laugh, " that is 
big. It needs a little thinking over." 

He leaned over his desk, scowling, picked 
up a pencil and made a few figures on a bit of 
scratch paper. Then he said : 

"Well, I can do it. If you've the right sort 
of collateral, I'll let you have it." 

" Oh, the collateral's good : best kind ; it's 
lard." 

John glanced at him sharply. " So, that's 
the story, is it ? Lard, eh ! Well, lard's good 
collateral if you've got enough of it." 

" I've got enough," said Pickering, laughing. 
" Plenty. How much of a margin do you 
want ? " 

" Fifty per cent." 

" You are cautious," said Pickering. " Of 
course, lard's high now, but just remember that 
it's scarce. The normal price of it is certainly 
a good deal more than half the present market 
price." 

" I suppose so but here's the point. What 
are you going to do with all that stuff? You 
can't make soap out of it. Normal price ! 
You can't talk about a normal price when 
you're manipulating the market. When a cor- 



92 The Banker and the Bear 

ner's nearly made and then busted well, I want 
to be a long way on the safe side. That's just 
the time when it pays a bank to be cautious." 

"You're all right, from your point of view, 
at least," said the soap manufacturer, "and I 
want that half million, so I'll put up enough 
lard to cover it. It's worth about twenty-four 
dollars a tierce to-day, and you say you lend me 
twelve on it. As I figure it then," he paused 
for a rough calculation, " you want about forty 
thousand tierces." 

"Yes," said John a moment later, "that'll 
do. You can make out a note right here and 
send round the collateral in the morning." 

" Oh, I've got it with me. I didn't want to 
waste any time," and Pickering took from his 
pocket warehouse receipts for the lard, and made 
them over to Bagsbury and Company. Then 
he filled out the blank-note form which John 
handed him. 

John took the warehouse receipts and looked 
at them curiously. "That's an awful lot of 
lard. Here's twelve million pounds right here." 

" I've got more than that," said Pickering, as 
he signed the note, " and I've been shipping it 
out of the city for two months." 



Lard 93 

" I don't see how the devil you've managed to 
do it so quietly. Of course everybody's won- 
dered more or less about it, but nobody's really 
known a thing. You've covered your tracks 
mighty well." 

" That suggests something I want to speak 
about," Pickering spoke slowly. He seemed to 
be feeling for his words. " This will all come 
out before so very long, I suppose ; everybody'll 
catch on to what's happening, and act accord- 
ingly ; but I don't want that to happen any 
sooner than I can help. Of course, I can trust 
to your discretion, and I wouldn't speak of 
this if it weren't that there are one or two of 
your directors one in particular that I'd 
much rather didn't know anything about this 
loan." 

" I'll not speak of it to anybody," John said 
briefly. " Do you know our cashier, Mr. Jack- 
son ? Come out here and I'll introduce you to 
him; he'll attend to your deposit. I'll leave 
you in his hands and ask you to excuse me. 
I've an engagement." 

John's engagement was not an important one 
simply to lunch with himself. What he ate 
was never a matter of interest to him, and this 



94 The Banker and the Bear 

noon they might have brought him anything, 
for his mind was absorbed in lard. 

The hog is an uninteresting beast. His way 
of life is monotonous and restricted ; he has 
but one ambition, which in nearly all cases is 
satisfied. There is no individuality about him ; 
no interesting variation from the normal to attract 
our studious attention. But when, by a swift 
and highly ingenious metamorphosis, he ceases 
to be Hog, and becomes Provisions, he assumes 
a national importance ; his fluctuations become 
fascinating, romantic. Over him is fought many 
a fierce battle ; he builds fortunes for some men, 
and others are brought to irretrievable ruin from 
yielding to his alluring seductions. 

It was evident to John that Pickering was 
trying to run a corner in lard ; in other words, 
that he meant to buy all of that commodity that 
could be delivered to him, and a great deal 
more; then, being in command of the market, 
he would put up the price as high as he chose, 
and make enough profit from the non-existent, 
and hence undeliverable, surplus to more than 
defray the expense of disposing of the lard he 
actually possessed, or as the vernacular inele- 
gantly puts it, burying the corpse. 



Lard 95 

The morality of this sort of operation must 
not be scrutinized too closely. Commercially 
it is " all right." A man who only just fails to 
get a corner and get out of it may even 
get a little sympathy from his fellows. A man 
who succeeds is sure of unbounded admiration. 

The commercial sort of morality is all that 
a banker has a right to expect from his cus- 
tomers, and that was not the phase of the ques- 
tion which interested John. He was wondering 
whether Pickering would succeed. Cornering 
a market is at best a desperate operation ; the 
chances lie heavily on the side of failure. It is 
daring, splendid, Napoleonic ; it makes capital 
reading in the daily papers, and affords the 
outsiders a chance to win a little and to lose 
a great deal of money; but bankers regard it 
with suspicion. 

However, Pickering might win. Everything 
that one could foresee was in his favor. The 
stock of lard was small, there had been a 
short corn crop two years before, and he had 
succeeded in buying a large part of what there 
was of it without attracting attention. Nobody 
seemed to think of a corner. Most of all in his 
favor was the man himself. His skill was the 



96 The Banker and the Bear 

growth of years of experience, his resources were 
immense, and his nerve would never fail. Yes, 
he might win. 

When John came back to the bank, he found 
Melville Sponley talking to Curtin. Had he 
entered just a second sooner, he would have 
heard Curtin say, 

"A fellow named Pickering " 

But as it happened, when he came in earshot, 
Sponley was talking, 

" It's just a quiet little place, but you can sit 
over your coffee and cigars as long as you like 
and nobody hurries you. I generally go there 
Hello!" 

" What place is this ? " John asked, coming 
up. 

" The place I want you to go to with me for 
lunch to-day." 

" Oh, you're too late," said John. " I've just 
been." 

"You're the worst victim of the early hour 
habit I know," Sponley exclaimed, with feigned 
impatience. " I thought I'd come early enough 
to catch you. I suppose you breakfasted to-day 
at seven and will dine at six." 

John laughed. "I'm getting to be an old 



Lard 97 

dog," he said. "You've got to expect me to 
keep at my old tricks. Come in here and sit 
down. You won't want your lunch for an hour 
yet." 

He followed Sponley into the office and sat 
down before his desk. His eyes rested on it 
a moment and he scowled. 

" That old thing irritates me," he said. " It's 
always dirty. The cracks and filigree stuff 
on the thing would defy the best-intentioned 
office boy in the world." 

" It's symbolic," said Sponley, laughing. 
" It's the exact type of the ancient regime of 
Bagsbury and Company. All the rest of the 
furniture of the bank is of the same kind." 

" I don't dare change it," John continued. 
" I don't suppose the majority of my father's 
old customers would know whether my loans 
were secured with government bonds or shares 
in Suburban Improvement Companies ; but if 
I should pack all this old lumber off to the 
second-hand shop, they'd think I was just tak- 
ing the whole bank straight to the devil. It 
belonged here in father's day, but it's nothing 
now but a great big bluff. I hate to be forced 
to keep up false appearances. Perhaps if I 



98 The Banker and the Bear 

hadn't changed the policy, I would have dared 
to experiment on the furniture." 

He unlocked the desk and lifted the heavy 
cover. The warehouse receipts which Picker- 
ing had given him lay there in full view. As 
he picked them up deliberately and laid them 
in a drawer, it occurred to him that Melville 
Sponley was the one man connected with the 
bank who should be kept in ignorance of the 
loan to Pickering, let alone the nature of 
the collateral that secured it. He could not 
be sure whether Sponley had seen the receipts 
or not 

" How's Harriet these days ? " 

"Pretty well," was the answer. "That is, 
most of the time she seems perfectly well. 
She certainly looks all right, only once in a 
while she'll get all worked up over some little 
thing. It never happens when anything's 
going on that interests her; but when she's 
home by herself all day, and there hasn't been 
anything to keep her occupied, she'll be as 
nervous as a cat. I think that's all the trouble : 
she likes things that are exciting, and when 
there isn't anything, she gets bored. Now 
last night we had some people over to dinner 



Lard 99 

first time we've had anybody but you and 
Alice for a long while, and she was just as 
she used to be twenty years ago, not a day 
older." 

There was a pause while John nodded 
reflectively, then Sponley asked, 

" How's everything going here at the bank ? " 

"Just the same," John answered, "and that 
means thundering good. Deposits keep com- 
ing right up. They're nearly twice what they 
were when we took hold. Next quarter we'll 
pay the first dividend in the history of the 
bank that anywhere near represents the work- 
ing value of the capital invested." 

He paused and shook his head impatiently. 
" I don't suppose it will do us any good, though. 
If those old fossils get a big dividend, they'll 
think it means reckless banking. Lord! but 
I'm sick of their mummified ideas. If I can 
ever get hold of my stock " 

" I think you will before the year's out," 
Sponley interrupted. " I think your trustees 
will turn the whole business over to you, not 
formally, perhaps, but at least will give you a 
free hand, to do about what you please," 

" What makes you think so ? " 



ioo The Banker and the Bear 

" Why, you see, it's never been you as much 
as the company you've kept, that bothered 
your father and the other old fellows, and 
I've had the honor to be the one they objected 
to most. I never could do anything with 
Moffat ; but I've put in my odd moments ever 
since the first of the year in convincing Cart- 
wright and Meredith that I'm all right. If 
they once believe that, it'll take away their 
only objection to you." 

"This is the first I've heard of that move," 
said John. 

"I haven't mentioned it because at first I 
was so confounded unsuccessful that I hated 
to own up how badly I'd been beat. They 
were prickly as the very devil at first. And 
then when they commenced to come round, 
I thought I'd wait until I had them all done 
up in a neat parcel and hand them over to 
you as a sort of Christmas present. They 
and their wives were the people we had to 
dinner last night. I tell you, Harriet was the 
trump card of the whole hand. She swung 
them nearer into line in two hours than I had 
done in two months. I think that we've just 
about landed them. Of course, they're only 



Lard 101 

two out of the three, but still that means some- 
thing." 

Next to John's capacity for perfectly calm, 
impersonal judgment, the most valuable thing 
in his commercial equipment was a sort of 
intuitive grasp of a situation, an ability instantly 
to correlate scattered circumstances without 
waiting for the mind's slower, logical processes. 
In other words, he possessed the same sort 
of creative imagination that characterizes great 
generals. Before Sponley had fairly finished 
speaking, he had fully comprehended the stra- 
tegic possibilities of the speculator's ground. 
Supposing that Sponley were working in his 
own interests, John knew exactly the strength 
and the limitations of Sponley's position. And 
in the same instant he took the decision that 
the man he had known intimately for twenty 
years would bear watching. He went no 
further than that. He did not jump to the 
conclusion that his friend meant to betray him. 
But the knowledge that Sponley might, if he 
chose, take advantage of his hold on the two 
old trustees, made him alert. 

Sponley got slowly to his feet. " I'm ready 
for my lunch," he said. " You don't happen to 
want another, do you ? " 



IO2 The Banker and the Bear 

" No," said John, " and I've got a big after- 
noon's work ahead, even if I did." 

"Nothing especially new has turned up 
to-day, I suppose ? " 

John shook his head. 

" Well, come round and see us when you can 
get time. Good-by." 

As Sponley left the room, he thought : 
"There's something in that Pickering busi- 
ness. If there hadn't been, he'd have men- 
tioned it." 

When he passed Curtin's desk, he spoke to 
him : 

"Going to be home to-night? I'm coming 
round to see you." 



CHAPTER VII 

THE SPY 

NEXT morning Bagsbury's bank had a joke, 
that is, the younger and less serious employees 
thought they had a joke, Curtin had come 
down early. Ridiculously early, too ; not only 
before his own hour, which was any time in the 
middle of the morning, but before John Bags- 
bury himself appeared, or Jackson, the cashier. 
There was no visible press of work which 
seemed to demand Curtin' s attention, for he 
stood about in a lost way, apparently unable to 
make up his mind to do anything. Every one 
who passed Jack Dorlin's desk paused to make 
jocular speculations, principally to the effect 
that Curtin's alarm clock must have gone wrong. 
Curtin with an alarm clock ! 

But Jack Dorlin found it hard to enjoy the 
joke ; he could not satisfactorily convince him- 
self that it was a joke at all. Neither he nor 
Dick had ever told John Bagsbury that Sponley 
103 



IO4 The Banker and the Bear 

had lied in saying that he did not know Jer- 
vis Curtin, though now, after six months, the 
lie still troubled them. Throughout the game 
which they knew was being played about the 
bank both of them were handicapped by a lack 
of familiarity with the rules. It was like noth- 
ing else in their experience. Up to within a 
year they had never met any one who was an 
expert at skating over the ice of the law where 
it was thin. The exact knowledge which en- 
ables men to avoid by the merest fraction the 
breaking of this law, which must on no account 
be broken, and encourages them to defy this 
other law with impunity, this classified knowl- 
edge was a science of whose very existence 
they had never been made aware. To their 
minds such things as conspiracies and spies and 
betrayals were things which occurred only in a 
certain sort of novel which they seldom read. 
They could not think of a real detective without 
a smile. They heartily distrusted Sponley, and 
they suspected Curtin, but they could not specu- 
late upon the possible relation between these two 
without feeling rather foolish. They decided 
again and again that it was nothing, but just as 
often they again began wondering what it was. 



The Spy 105 

And the fear of making themselves ridiculous 
kept them of speaking of it to John. 

Jack's distrust of Curtin was not nearly as 
strong as it had been when he entered the 
bank. This was not so much because he 
seemed a good-humored, easy-going fellow, 
Jack could take that cordial manner for just 
about what it was worth, but because he be- 
lieved that Curtin's ignorance and utter unim- 
portance in the bank reduced his capacity for 
rascality to almost nothing. But Jack's suspi- 
cions never more than slept, and any unusual 
act of Curtin's, no matter how innocent it 
might look, was enough to waken them. 

Jack had been promoted to the remittance 
ledgers ; his desk stood at the rear end of an 
aisle which ran nearly the length of the room, 
behind the rank of tellers' cages and in front of 
the vaults. At the other end of the aisle was 
the door which opened on the two private 
offices. Just before this door stood a large 
chest of drawers where was kept a large part 
of the bank's collateral securities. This chest 
was, of course, directly in Jack Dorlin's line of 
vision, and when, a few minutes after Curtin's 
arrival, he raised his eyes from his work, he saw 



106 The Banker and the Bear 

the assistant cashier searching busily through 
one of the drawers. That was nothing, and 
his eyes fell to his work again, but when he 
glanced up, Curtin was still there. Fifteen 
twenty minutes passed ; Curtin was going 
through that chest systematically from top to 
bottom. 

Jack flung down his pencil impatiently, for 
again he had caught himself in the act of specu- 
lating on the old theme, on Curtin's motives. 
There was no possible reason why Curtin 
shouldn't look over the collateral if he chose ; 
there might be some excellent reason why he 
should. But then, why had he come early ? 
Why didn't he set some one else to finding 
what he wanted? Why could he not wait 
until Jackson came down ? Jackson knew 
everything there was in that chest. 

At that moment Hillsmead walked past his 
desk, and Jack grinned to see him making 
straight for Curtin. They talked but a mo- 
ment, and Curtin walked away to his own desk, 
while Hillsmead retraced is steps toward the rear 
of the bank. He stopped to say to Jack : 

" That man's a regular fool. He's been look- 
ing in that collateral box for half an hour ; but 



The Spy 107 

when I asked him if I could help him find any- 
thing he was looking for, he said he was just 
as much obliged, but he'd found it, and then 
he went away. I'd like to know what he was 
looking for." 

" Postage-stamps, maybe," Jack suggested. 

" Oh, no, he wouldn't look there for postage- 
stamps. They don't keep anything but collat- 
eral in that box. When he wants to mail things, 
he just gives 'em to an office boy." 

Jack often wished that he had enough leisure 
during the day to enjoy Hillsmead properly. 
He used to chuckle over him in the evening, 
and quote him to Dick ; but then there were 
other things to think about in the evening. 

It was growing late that same afternoon, long 
after closing time, and concentration on columns 
of figures was becoming difficult, when Jack, 
glancing up, saw the cashier come out of the 
office with his street coat on, which meant that 
he was going home. Then a few minutes later 
he saw John Bagsbury follow him, and he wished 
his own work was done so that he could go, too 
just where John Bagsbury was going, and have 
an hour with Dick before dinner time. He sat 
there in a brown study until recalled to him- 



io8 The Banker and the Bear 

self by seeing Curtin go through the doorway 
into the outer private office and then, turning to 
the right, enter John Bagsbury's room. 

" Go in there, if you like," he said to himself, 
apostrophizing the assistant cashier ; " go and 
stay as long as you please and steal the furni- 
ture; I'm tired of watching you." But in spite 
of himself, he did watch. Again and again he 
forced himself back to his work, but he was 
aware all the while that Jervis Curtin had not 
yet come out of that door. And after half an 
hour in which he did about ten minutes' work, 
he gave up trying, and slipping from his high 
stool he walked slowly toward the door at the 
other end of the aisle. 

When John Bagsbury had come in from lunch 
the day before, he had interrupted Curtin before 
he had told Sponley anything beyond the fact 
of Pickering's visit to the bank. Acting on the 
hint Sponley had given him, Curtin at once set 
about to find out what was the nature of Picker- 
ing's business with the bank. It was a simple 
matter for an officer in his position to discover 
that Pickering had made a deposit of one hun- 
dred thousand dollars, and had given his note 



The Spy 109 

for an additional five hundred thousand. That 
was complete enough information for anybody 
so far as Curtin could see, and he had given it 
to Sponley when the speculator came to see him 
that evening, with a good deal of self -congratula- 
tion upon his success. But Sponley was far from 
satisfied. 

"What collateral did he put up?" he de- 
manded. 

" None, I suppose. His note does not men- 
tion any collateral. It isn't made out on the 
sort of form we use when we take collateral." 

"That doesn't mean anything except that 
Bagsbury doesn't want anybody to know what 
kind of security it was. That's what I want 
you to find out for me." 

" I don't see how I'm going to do it," Curtin 
remonstrated. " If he's gone to all that trouble 
to keep us from finding out, it isn't likely that 
he's left it around where anybody can see it. 
Probably it's not with the other collateral at 
all." 

" Probably not," Sponley assented. 

"It's ten to one," the other continued, "that 
he's put it somewhere among his private 
papers." 



HO The Banker and the Bear 

"Well," said Sponley, "doesn't that simplify 
matters ? " 

Curtin glanced at him, then smiled uneasily 
in reply. 

" What do you mean ? " 

" Only that if you know where a thing is 
likely to be, you stand a fair chance of finding 
it by looking there." 

Curtin was frightened, and he laughed. 

" On the other hand," he said, " if one can't 
look there, he's not so likely to find it." 

" Why can't you ? " Sponley asked quickly. 
" You know where he keeps his private papers, 
don't you ? " 

Curtin answered coolly. Everything the man 
did was something of a pose. He posed to 
himself. Just now he really believed that he 
was cool. 

" If that suggestion is made as a jest," he 
said, "it seems to me rather unprofitable. If 
you mean it seriously, it's an insult." 

" It's neither a jest nor an insult," said Spon- 
ley. " It's business. Of course, if you're squeam- 
ish about looking through a file of papers marked 
'private,' you can look through the other collat- 
eral first. You may find what you want there ; 



The Spy ill 

but if you don't, I guess you'll have to see the 
job through." 

" That's ridiculous. It's not to be considered 
for a moment. There's no good talking any 
further about it." 

" It won't be so difficult as it sounds," Spon- 
ley continued evenly. " Bagsbury keeps all that 
sort of thing in the cabinet that stands in his 
office all day. It's never locked. They take it 
into one of the vaults just before they lock up 
at night, but you'll have nearly an hour after 
he's gone home when the way will be clear. 
It'll take a little management, but it won't be 
difficult." 

" Look here," said Curtin, " I will not hear 
any more. You've said rather too much as it 
is. What you suggest is outrageously, infer- 
nally insulting, and " 

" There's no use in talking big," Sponley cut 
in. " The job may be unpleasant, but you've 
got to do it." 

" I won't do it," Curtin almost shouted. Then 
more quietly : " If your own delicate sense of 
honor doesn't tell you that it's an insult to a 
gentleman to ask him to sneak and spy or per- 
haps crack a safe, why, you'll have to take my 



112 The Banker and the Bear 

word for it. But I don't want anything more 
to do with you. I won't stay in a position 
where I'm liable to that sort of damned inso- 
lence. You'd better leave my house at once. 
Do you understand me ? " 

Sponley laughed. The opportunity with such 
a man comes when the pendulum has swung 
back, when the brave, hot wrath has burned 
out of him. Sponley did not try to pacify Cur- 
tin. Curtin wished to be angry, did he ? Well, 
he should be-just as angry as he pleased. 

" If you choose to call yourself a spy, nobody 
will take the trouble to deny it," he said ; " but 
you don't gain anything by it. You must un- 
derstand that this is exactly what I hired you 
for; not at all to be assistant cashier at the 
bank. You are in my employ ; I may tell you 
to crack a safe for me sometime, and when I 
do, you'll do it." 

" I may have been in your employ, as you 
say, up to five minutes ago, but I'm not now. 
Is that clear? You've made a mistake, that's 
all. You've hired the wrong kind of man." 

" I think not," said Sponley, smiling ; "you are 
just the right kind of a man. You see, you're 
not exactly independent. You've been spend- 



The Spy 113 

ing a good deal of money lately; Mrs. Curtin 
has entertained a good deal " 

"You damned impertinent " 

" Ah ! there you make your mistake. That 
is the only thing that is really pertinent at all. 
It's just a question of money." 

Curtin grinned ; he was trying to adopt Spon- 
ley's tactics. " It seems to me," he said (why 
would not the words come evenly ?), " it seems 
to me that there I have as good a hold on you 
as you have on me. Your part in this business 
will hardly bear daylight." 

"I'm no such blunderer as that," answered 
Sponley, tolerantly. " This is what will happen. 
I will tell Bagsbury that I have bought your 
stock, and then, since you are really grossly 
incompetent as assistant cashier, at the next 
directors' meeting we will act on your resigna- 
tion. And you can see what will happen after 
that. You owe me alone enough money to 
make a rather fine smash, and you have other 
creditors besides. You can console yourself by 
telling John Bagsbury any fanciful yarn you 
can think of about me." 

One could hardly say that Curtin listened, 
though he heard. He sat gripping the arms of 



114 The Banker and the Bear 

his chair and stared. Sponley looked at him 
keenly. He could read the thoughts, though 
the blank face afforded no index. 

" You see," he went on, " you're not the sort 
to take poverty easily. When a fellow like me 
or John Bagsbury goes broke, his case isn't 
hopeless at all. We're used to making money, 
and we know how to take care of ourselves. 
We can do it, even if we do have to start back 
at the beginning. But you're different. You've 
never been able to earn any money. Your 
father took care of you at first, and then he left 
you his property, and your friends took care of 
that for you, and you and they have got rid of 
most of it. When a fellow like you has hard 
luck and gets smashed, he comes down after a 
while to hanging round his former friends, try- 
ing to beg the price of a drink." 

Curtin was trying to speak, but his shaking 
lips would not obey him. He rose from his 
chair and stood facing his persecutor. 

"All right," he said at last. "All right. 
You can do all you say you will. You can bust 
me up; but I'd rather have that than the 
other. I'd rather have that than sell my soul 
to you. That's what you want. But, by God, 
you won't get it ! " 



The Spy 115 

He began pacing the room, now swiftly, now 
slowly; Sponley sat still and watched him in 
silence for a moment. Then he asked : 

" Do you mind if I smoke ? I want to think." 

Curtin nodded, without pausing in his nervous 
walk. 

Sponley sat perfectly still. His gross body 
completely filled the wide arm-chair ; there was 
something uncanny about his complete repose. 
You could as easily conceive of his receding 
from a position he had once taken, or relenting 
toward one who was in his power, as of a fat 
Indian idol's answering a prayer for mercy. 
He did not look at Curtin, he only smoked and 
waited. 

As for Curtin, he had made his brave speech. 
He had resisted temptation, and the glow of 
virtuous indignation and righteous resolve was 
fast turning to cold ashes. 

And the minutes crept away till the big hand 
of the clock had made half its journey before 
Sponley spoke. 

"Sit down a minute, Curtin, and we'll talk 
this thing over. We've both got excited, and 
we've both talked big, and we've both pretty 
generally made fools of ourselves. That's fun 



n6 The Banker and the Bear 

enough while it lasts ; but when a fellow wakes 
up the next morning and has to face the conse- 
quences, he feels rather silly. If we don't man- 
age to hang together some way, why, I'll be in 
an awkward fix, and you'll be busted, and we'll 
both wish we'd shown a little sense. Now I 
don't ask you to do anything that I wouldn't do 
myself, and I never will ask you to. I don't 
ask you to meddle with John Bagsbury's private 
papers. This is a matter that concerns the 
bank, and you and I are as much a part of it as 
he is. But we'll leave it this way : if you can 
find out what collateral it was that Pickering 
put up, why, it will help us both out. And if 
you can't well, we'll talk about that later. 
Don't say anything about it now. Take time 
to think it over. Good night." 

That was the reason why Curtin had puzzled 
the clerks by looking so thoroughly through the 
collateral box next morning. And now, for half 
an hour, he had searched drawer after drawer in 
the little oak cabinet in John Bagsbury's private 
office. At first he listened intently for footsteps, 
but soon his quest became absorbing. 

Finally it was rewarded. There were the 



The Spy 117 

yellow warehouse certificates. Lard! Forty 
thousand tierces ! 

And then the half-shut door behind him 
creaked as some one pushed it open. It was 
numbness rather than self-control that kept him 
still. Jack spoke, 

" I beg your pardon." 

The sound of the voice, the voice which was 
not John Bagsbury's, restored Curtin to himself. 
He looked up. 

" Ah, Mr. Dorlin ! Are you looking for Mr. 
Bagsbury ? He went home about an hour ago, 
I think. I want him myself. He's put a cer- 
tain paper away so carefully that we can't find 
it." 

There was another step behind them and 
Sponley entered the office. He glanced about 
before he spoke. 

" So I've missed the president again, have I ? 
That seems to be sort of habit with me these 
days. However, it's a matter of business, this 
time, that you can attend to, Mr. Curtin." 

With that he turned and bowed to Jack 
Dorlin. It was a polite, deliberate bow, which 
turned Jack out of the office as effectively as if 
it had been a whole platoon of police. 



CHAPTER VIII 

A BATTLE 

"YouR coffee must be stone cold by this 
time, dear," Alice Bagsbury observed in a tone 
of mild remonstrance; "shan't I pour you 
another cup ? " 

" What's that ? " John asked absently, from 
behind his morning paper. " Oh, yes, if you 
please." He took up the cup, but instead of 
handing it to her, he drank off the dismal bev- 
erage, and replacing the cup in its saucer 
turned back to his paper, apparently under 
the impression that he had followed her sug- 
gestion. 

" Do you know," said Dick, " I think it's 
dangerous to be as absent-minded as that. If 
that had been kerosene, you'd have drunk it 
just the same all of it." 

John dropped the paper beside his chair, 
stared at his plate a moment, and then turned 
to Dick. 

118 



A Battle 119 

" Did either of you say anything to me just 
now ? I think I'll have some more coffee. 
What are you laughing about ? " 

" I said I thought there must be something 
very entertaining about the front page of that 
paper," said Dick. 

"Entertaining isn't just the word," he an- 
swered slowly. " It's what I call confoundedly 
enterprising. They've told a great deal more 
than they've any right to know, and the worst 
of it is they've told the truth." 

" I don't know why you should object to their 
telling the truth," said Alice. 

" Is it about something you're concerned 
in ? " Dick asked. 

John nodded. " I loaned a man a large sum 
of money day before yesterday, and the fact of 
his wanting it and the kind of security he put 
up would show to any one who knew about it 
that he was in a certain deal. He didn't want 
that to get out, so I was very careful to conceal 
the loan. And here this paper seems to know 
all about it: not only about the deal, which 
they might have guessed from other things, 
but about the loan. It leaves me in an awk- 
ward position, you see." 



I2O The Banker and the Bear 

"What sort of deal is it ? " Dick asked. 

" Lard," said John. " Here, you can read all 
about it," and he handed her the paper. 

Dick glanced at the staring letters of the 
scare head. " To corner lard," she read. " I 
should think that would be pretty hard to do," 
she said reflectively. 

Then as John looked at her, manifestly sur- 
prised at the sageness of the remark and nodded 
assent to it, she added, " It's so squashy, you 
know." 

John laughed. "You took me in that time. 
Pickering will have to fight though, sure enough. 
They're likely to make it warm for him to-day." 

"On the Board of Trade?" cried Dick. 
"Will it be like the day you took Alice and 
me ? " 

" It was unusually quiet that day," said John. 

" Quiet ! " exclaimed Alice. " It made my 
head ache for two days." 

"Will it really be worse than that?" Dick 
asked. "Oh, I wish " 

John glanced at his watch and hurriedly left 
the table. He appeared a moment later at the 
dining-room door and said, 

" If you and Alice care to come to the bank 



A Battle 121 

to-day at twelve o'clock, we can lunch together 
and then look in there for a few minutes." 

They exclaimed simultaneously, but with 
different import. 

"All right," said John, "either or both. Be 
there sharp at twelve if you want to catch me." 

When John said that the publication of the 
fact of the lard deal and of his loan to Pickering 
put him in an awkward position, he stated only 
the least of his perplexities. He did not doubt 
that he should be able to clear himself with the 
soap manufacturer, not only of wilful betrayal, 
but of negligence. What troubled him was to 
find any sort of explanation of how the secret 
could have got out. All the morning the 
question hung in his mind insistently demand- 
ing an answer. The only answer he could give 
was one which his reason rejected as absurd, 
but it was reiterated as obstinately as the ques- 
tion itself, the name of Melville Sponley. 

The story had been given to the paper by 
one who knew the facts. It was no ingenious 
surmise of one who followed the markets. It 
did not tell everything, not the precise amount 
of the loan, nor the bank that made it, yet there 
could be no doubt that the man who had told so 



122 The Banker and the Bear 

much knew the rest, and that he had held it 
back for reasons of his own. John knew it was 
impossible that Sponley could have found out 
in the mere instant when Pickering's warehouse 
receipts had been exposed to his view two days 
before ; but he could not rid himself of the con- 
viction that it was Sponley who had ferreted 
out and betrayed his secret. 

On the Board of Trade they had nicknamed 
Sponley the "Black Bear." That had refer- 
ence, of course, to the side of the market on 
which he operated oftenest and most success- 
fully, but it had this morning for John an added 
significance. How clumsy he was to the eye, 
and yet how terribly quick ! John had seen 
this fat, heavy-eyed monster go into the corn pit 
and simply, by main strength, sell the market 
down down down. They were afraid of 
him on the Board of Trade : that tells the 
story. 

John Bagsbury was generally believed to be 
imperturbable. This morning his thoughts were 
running in a circle ; his secret was out ; Melville 
Sponley could not have betrayed it ; no one else 
could have done so. Round and round again, 
with no way out, and yet no one could have 



A Battle 123 

guessed it; he worked swiftly, precisely, pa- 
tiently, just as always. 

But there were two other troubled heads in 
the bank whose thoughts were under no such 
iron control. Curiously enough, each in his 
own way owed his perplexities also to the Black 
Bear. 

If you can imagine a coward trying to escape 
from prison, you can understand Curtin's state 
of mind. When on the preceding afternoon he 
had shown Sponley the collateral, he had felt 
keenly humiliated ; he had despised himself, and 
tenfold more he hated Sponley. But that feel- 
ing was gone now. The Bear had been right 
in saying that it was just a question of money. 
His being trapped, bound fast to Sponley's will, 
was also a question of money. And now Curtin 
had found a way of escape, or rather Sponley 
himself had unwittingly shown it to him, and 
the way out was but a question of money, too. 

When in John Bagsbury's office, just after 
Jack Dorlin had gone out, Curtin had shown 
the warehouse receipts to Sponley, the latter 
had exhibited what in other men would have 
been excitement, but with him was only preoc- 
cupation. He had sat down at John Bagsbury's 



124 The Banker and the Bear 

desk and looked at the yellow slips for some 
time. Then he said, 

" Pickering'll have to pay for what lard he 
gets to-morrow." 

Then realizing that he had made a slip, he 
had quickly begun talking about something else, 
and Curtin had cunningly feigned that he had 
not understood the chance remark. But a few 
minutes later he was walking home on air. For 
had not his jailer thrown him the key to his 
cell? 

Curtin had played with the markets before ; 
that was the reason he now needed a job as 
assistant cashier, or as anything that would pay 
him a respectable salary. But he had been an 
outsider, a lamb. He had believed the news- 
papers, he had followed the crowd, he had 
trusted to luck. He knew now against what 
certainty of eventual disaster that sort of a game 
was played. But now he was an outsider no 
longer. Inadvertently Sponley had told him 
that lard would go up to-morrow. Sponley 
knew, because he himself intended to make it 
go up. And for the first time in his life Curtin 
would play with a probability of winning. 

When he had won (he could hardly contain 



A Battle 125 

himself at the thought of it), when he had won 
well, he would begin by telling Sponley to 
go to hell. Ah, Sponley should know after all 
that he had hired the wrong sort of man, that 
it was unsafe to insult a gentleman ! Then he 
would confess to John Bagsbury the wrong he 
had done him. No, that would hardly do ; but 
he could contrive some sort of restitution to 
John, and then he would live happily and opu- 
lently ever after. 

Thus spake the prisoner ; the coward had other 
things to say. He must use the bank's money, 
he had none of his own. Then what if, after all, 
lard should go down. He would be an embez- 
zler, would go to prison. At the thought, his 
mouth became dry, and curious ripples seemed 
to run the length of all his muscles. So all that 
morning the two men within him tore Curtin 
grievously. The way of the timorous, half- 
hearted transgressor is hard indeed. 

Jack Dorlin's perplexity was less serious, but 
very irritating. He owed it only indirectly to 
the Bear. His direct concern was with the 
jackal. His bit of impromptu detective work 
the afternoon before had been as unsuccessful 
as possible. Had he discovered a little more or 



126 The Banker and the Bear 

a little less, all would have been well. But as 
matters stood, he had enough ground for serious 
suspicion of Curtin, and not enough to warrant 
his speaking about it to John Bagsbury. 

He had come to the bank this morning full of 
his old determination to mind his own business. 
It was vain, however, as vain as it had always 
been before. Curtin was so persistently erratic 
that he compelled one's attention. Yesterday it 
had been the collateral box ; to-day it was the 
telephone. He hung over it all the morning, 
like a child with a new toy. He was spending 
fifteen minutes out of every hour talking into it, 
and for the rest of the time he eyed it as though 
momentarily expecting to see it perform a mira- 
cle. It was such an innocent occupation that 
Jack was angry with himself for taking it so 
seriously. The other clerks were grinning ; 
well, he would grin too. But it was a very 
sorry grin. 

At last he fairly got into his work, and that 
brought oblivion. When Hillsmead interrupted 
him, he did not know how long it had been since 
last he was conscious of his surroundings. 

"That was a confounded pretty girl," Hills- 
mead was saying. " Did you see her ? " 



A Battle 127 

Jack glanced up impatiently, but worse than 
that would not have stopped Hillsmead. 

" I think I'll have to find out who she was. 
She's all right. I wonder what she wanted 
with Bagsbury?" 

Jack grabbed his hat. "Where is she?" he 
demanded. 

" Do you think you know her ? Say, old man, 
I wouldn't mind if you'd introduce She just 
went out. I think she turned east." 

Jack dashed down the aisle without pausing 
to think on the marvel he had wrought in check- 
ing Hillsmead in mid career. 

At the door he glanced swiftly up and down 
the street, and by the merest luck got a glimpse 
of Dick less than a square away. Her pace was 
a mere stroll, a most unusual thing with Dick. 

" Hello," he said, as he overtook her. 

"Are you in a hurry?" she asked. It was 
his manner rather than his pace that suggested it. 

" No, I'm in a thundering temper." 

She smiled. " That's good. You're great fun 
when you're that way. What's the matter ? " 

" Hillsmead," he said shortly. " Hillsmead 
and Curtin." 

" Then that was Mr. Hillsmead ! " she cried. 



128 The Banker and the Bear 

" Oh, he's lovely ! You've never done him jus- 
tice, Jack. He's so pretty and glib, and com- 
placent. I envy you, seeing him every day." 

" Where are we going, anyway ? " he asked. 

" Growly ! " she commented teasingly. " I 
don't know exactly. I think I'm going home." 

He said nothing, so in a moment she added, 
"You'd do well to copy Mr. Hillsmead in one 
thing." 

" That's rough," he said. " Rough but right- 
eous. In common courtesy, he has doubtless 
outstripped me to-day." 

"It's not that; it's curiosity. He told me 
that Mr. Bagsbury was out, but that if I would 
confide my business to him, his valuable services 
were at my disposal. And he was so sure that 
he could do it better than Mr. Bagsbury that I 
nearly told him what it was." 

" If I'll profess Hillsmead's curiosity, will you 
tell me ? " 

" We were to lunch somewhere and then go 
to the Board of Trade to see them do things 
with lard." She had drawled the words out as 
slowly as possible, and now she glanced at him 
in mock distress. "John's gone off, you see, 
and forgotten all about me." 



A Battle 129 

He stopped and gazed at her seriously. " I 
wish to propose," he said, "three cheers for 
John Bagsbury. For future delivery," he 
added, noting her look of alarm. " I'm getting 
to like him better right along." 

"It's a strange thing," Jack remarked a 
few minutes later, as he looked at her across 
the little round table ; " it's a strange thing, but 
when I've been with you a few minutes my 
troubles, even the big ones, begin to look like 
jokes. I really think they are jokes until I 
get off by myself again." 

"Tell me about Mr. Curtin," said Dick, 
quickly. " I can guess what Mr. Hillsmead did 
to make you wild, but," the dimple which 
had cautiously appeared at one corner of her 
mouth vanished again, " but how has Mr. 
Curtin been bothering you ? " 

She grew very serious as he told her of the 
assistant cashier's performances of the day be- 
fore ; and when he had finished, she told him how 
John was worried over the betrayal of his secret. 

" Do you suppose," she asked anxiously, 
" that there's any connection ; that Mr. Curtin 
had anything to do with it ? " 

He shook his head. " I give it up. But \ 



130 The Banker and the Bear 

know this : we've been pretty foolish not to tell 
Mr. Bagsbury. We've been so afraid of mak- 
ing ourselves ridiculous that we haven't thought 
of anything else." 

" We're such perfect babes in the wood at all 
this sort of thing," said Dick. "Now I sup- 
pose that any person of average business intel- 
ligence would see through it all in two minutes. 
But I believe we ought to tell him, anyway. 
Let's do it to-night." 

"Both of us?" 

"Of course, I wouldn't do it alone for any- 
thing. Come, let's look at the lard corner." 

Just as they were entering the big Board of 
Trade building an old man walked briskly past 
them and turned into the office of Ball, Snyder, 
and Jones, Brokers. Even at that place, where 
the money value of mere seconds is impressive, 
there were a dozen people who paused to glance 
curiously after him. Dick and Jack Dorlin did 
not know who he was, and if any one had taken 
the trouble to tell them that it was William G. 
Pickering, they would have thought nothing of 
it. And yet the fact, that at just that moment 
that one man should enter that particular office, 
was interesting. 



A Battle 131 

But the attention of these two was absorbed 
by the distant clamor of the battle which 
attacked their ears the moment they entered 
the building. It was an angry roar, inarticulate, 
meaningless, but with its savage crescendo and 
its fitful diminuendo it was vaguely exciting. 
They hurried up the stairs into the visitors' 
gallery and wormed their way through the 
crowd to a position from which they could see 
the floor. Their first glance was disappointing. 
It added nothing to the sensation they had felt 
at the first sound of the shouting. The only 
impression they could get was of a vast clamor- 
ing confusion. 

" Are they really doing anything but yell ? " 
asked Dick. 

All through her life she had believed that 
real power exerted itself quietly ; that noise was 
the manifestation of impotence, and it was hard 
for her to take this mob seriously. 

Before Jack could speak the man who stood 
at her other hand had answered her. He was 
a well-dressed young fellow, who seemed vastly 
excited over the battle. 

" Anything but yell ! " he quoted. " They're 
making a price that will rule in all the markets 
in the world." 



132 The Banker and the Bear 

With a pressure of her hand she signalled 
Jack not to interfere, and then asked the 
stranger, 

" Will you please tell me what is happening 
down there ? " 

The explanation came, swift and hot, but to 
Dick's chagrin it was in a foreign language. 
She caught a familiar word now and then, but 
the rest was as meaningless as the tumult on 
the floor. 

" I see," she said at last. Then to forestall 
any further explanation she asked, " Can you 
tell me who that little man is in the white 
flannel coat ? " 

" Keyes," he spoke without looking, " of 
Keyes and Sievert. They're buying for Picker- 
ing. Keyes is Ah ! there it goes up again ! " 

He glanced at his watch. " They've got 
twenty minutes yet before closing time. They'll 
get it to ten cents. See ! there again ! " 

"How can you tell that it's gone up?" she 
asked. 

"See those fellows on the edge there, 
facing this way. They signal the changes of 
price with their hands to people who stay near 
the telephones. There ! see that ! " 



A Battle 133 

Dick's eyes had wandered back to Keyes. 
He was standing there composedly, his memo- 
randum card in his hand, jotting down his 
purchases. He seemed quite unmoved by the 
excitement around him. A clerk who had come 
running the length of the room, dodging like a 
football player, dashed up to this quiet little 
man in the white flannel coat and handed him 
a slip of paper. Keyes read it at a glance, 
tucked it in his pocket, and turned back to 
look at the crowd. Dick fancied she saw him 
smiling. 

Her eyes left him to fall on a very tall man 
who was forcing his way with much haste and 
little ceremony toward the centre of the pit. 

" That's Jones," said the young fellow beside 
her, "of Ball, Snyder, and Jones. Wonder 
what's coming now?" 

There was a momentary lull as Jones raised 
his arm and thrust his hand forward with all 
fingers extended. He shouted something that 
was unintelligible to Jack and Dick, but which 
raised a storm in the pit. Again and again 
he repeated the gesture, and from all about 
the pit men struggled toward him, as though 
they wished to tear him to pieces, 



134 The Banker and the Bear 

Another messenger boy was running across 
the floor, and Dick watched him seek out Keyes 
again. Keyes read the second message and 
turned back to the pit. His arm shot forward, 
the hand erect, palm out, and said something. 
He did not have to shout. The pit had stopped 
to gasp. When the yell broke out again, it was 
a different sort of yell. It drew the traders 
scattered about the floor and in other pits as 
a magnet draws iron filings. Dick heard the 
young fellow at her side choke. 

" What is it ? " she demanded. " What has 
happened ? " 

" Keyes is selling." 

He spoke in a daze, his eyes on the men sig- 
nalling from the edge of the pit. 

" Do you know why he's selling ? " asked 
Jack. It was the first time he had spoken. 

"They've busted Pickering that's why 
and a lot of small fry with him that don't count, 
me for one." 

So the three stood there watching one of the 
sharpest turns that most irregular market has 
ever made. In the fifteen minutes before clos- 
ing time lard dropped nearly three cents a 
pound. The one who understood held his open 



A Battle 135 

watch in his hand and monotonously reported 
the swiftly dropping price as it was signalled 
over to the telephones. The other two listened, 
bewildered between a pity for him and a convic- 
tion that the fifteen minutes would never end. 

Suddenly he slipped his watch into his pocket 
and turned away. 

" That puts me out," he said. 

And then it seems an hour afterward to 
Jack and Dick the great bell rang, and it was 
over. 

Without speaking, they made their way back 
to the ground floor and drifted along with the 
crowd that was pouring into the street. 

Just before they reached the door Jack ex- 
claimed : 

" Look ! there's Curtin. No, don't look either. 
Turn this way." 

It was too late to escape him. He made his 
unsteady way toward them and stood barring 
their path. 

" I suppose you think I've been drinking," he 
said thickly. 

He was flushed; his eyes rolled about aim- 
lessly. He was shaking like one palsied. 

Jack Dorlin turned to Dick. "Walk right 



136 The Banker and the Bear 

along without me, please," he said. " I'll over- 
take you in a minute." 

Then he caught Curtin by the arm, and, lead- 
ing him to the sidewalk, hailed a cab. 

" I'm not drunk," Curtin protested ; " I've 
not been drinking. Oh, my God ! I'm going to 
prison! I'm going to prison ! " 

He tried to say something more, but simply 
choked. Jack thrust him into the cab and tell- 
ing the driver Curtin's address, he pushed his 
way through the little crowd that had gathered, 
and hurried after Dick. 

Then they walked on slowly for more than 
a block without speaking, and in spite of the 
crowd on the sidewalk he continued to stay 
close at her side. 

"Hasn't it made you blue?" he asked. She 
nodded sympathetically. 

" But I'm not sorry we went," she said a 
moment later. " I'm glad John forgot about 
me. I shouldn't like to have seen it with him ; 
but it's different with you. I mean " 

She could not say just what she meant, and 
with heightened color she added quickly, " But 
I don't want to see anything like that again, 
ever." 



A Battle 137 

"I've had enough myself. I'm afraid I'm 
getting disgusted with the whole business, Dick. 
I feel that it would be a pleasant change to set- 
tle down and live on a farm somewhere, for a 
while, anyway. Don't you ? " 

" I was thinking of something like that 
myself," she answered thoughtfully. " We 
could " she turned away suddenly and 
glanced up the street. " I mustn't keep you 
any longer. I've dragged you miles out of your 
way already. No, I'm going to take the ele- 
vated right here." 

She had not meant to do it ; but as he was 
leaving her, she said, 

"You'll you're coming down to dinner to- 
night, aren't you ? " 



CHAPTER IX 

DEEPER STILL 

HARRIET SPONLEY dressed for dinner that 
evening with more than usual care. She liked to 
dress well, partly for her own sake, and partly 
because her husband appreciated it. But to- 
night she seemed able to find little satisfaction 
in the result of her efforts. 

" Your gown is very beautiful," the maid ven- 
tured timidly. 

Harriet nodded indifferently ; then, as with a 
gesture of impatience, she turned away from the 
long mirror, her eyes fell upon the neat figure 
and the fresh face of her girlish attendant. She 
looked at her so long and so hard that the girl 
flushed and averted her eyes uneasily. Harriet 
smiled and patted her shoulder. 

" I'm very glad you like it," she said kindly. 
" Now run along, I shan't want you any more." 

She liked her maid. She petted her, and 
so Sponley said indulged her most outra- 
138 



Deeper Still 139 

geously. It was an old weakness of Harriet's 
this fondness for a pretty face. It had been 
the source of her affection for Alice Blair. 

As the girl left the room, Harriet dropped 
upon the little round chair which stood before 
her dressing table, and resting her elbows on 
the table, she leaned forward and stared disap- 
provingly into the small glass which hung above 
it. The strong, unpitying light which the two 
incandescent lamps threw upon her face re- 
vealed many things she did not wish to see 
there. What a jaded face it was ! And the 
lines were deeper than they had ever been 
before. She rubbed her forehead nervously, 
almost roughly, with her finger tips, as though 
that would erase them. 

The day had been peculiarly trying for Har- 
riet. In these later years, every flurry on the 
Board of Trade, every sudden turn in the stock 
market, had given her two or three almost intol- 
erable hours ; but to-night the slump in lard was 
not in her thoughts at all. When she had called 
Sponley's attention to the story in the morning 
paper of Pickering's prospective corner, he had 
disposed of the matter with a glance and a nod. 
Then on her suggesting that he had known all 



140 The Banker and the Bear 

about it before, he had replied in the negative. 
He was holding quite a line of lard himself, he 
said ; but with this rumor of a deal of Picker- 
ing's he had no concern. 

Five years ago one year ago the smallest 
doubt of his truthfulness could not have occurred 
to her ; she knew he would have lied to himself 
as soon as to her. She remembered how he 
used to come home brimming over with the 
day's experiences, how eagerly he had related 
and explained it all, and how confidently they 
had planned out their to-morrows. He used to 
tell her then that she was the mind of the firm ; 
that what she didn't think of herself she made 
him think of ; that she was the one, big reason 
for his remarkable success. And he had meant 
it, too ; she was sure of that. But as time had 
gone by, his confidences had been growing less 
spontaneous. The change had been slow, so slow 
that she could see it only by looking back, but it 
was unmistakable. He never told her anything 
now unless she asked for it. And to-day he had 
lied to her ! She had only herself to blame for 
it. When she had ceased to be able to help him, 
he no longer looked to her for help. She was an 
outsider now ; that was why he had lied to her. 



Deeper Still 141 

She looked intently at the face in the glass. 
" He will see to-night he will surely see what 
a miserable wreck this old woman is," and with 
that she rose and went down to the library where 
he was awaiting her. 

The afterglow from splendid masses of cloud 
high up the sky made a soft twilight in the 
room ; but to Harriet's eyes, blinded by the 
glare to which they had been subjected, it was 
quite dark. She did not at first see Sponley, 
who was standing in the shadow. 

"You almost startle me sometimes," he said, 
" by taking me back twenty years or so. I have 
to think of myself to realize that we aren't 
youngsters again." 

" It must be the gown," she answered. " I'm 
glad you like it." 

She walked to the window and stood looking 
out. The diffused light hung in her heavy hair 
and in the folds of her dress, and her husband 
watched her for a moment in silence. The 
illusion was strong upon him. 

" The gown ! " he said at last. " I can't see 
the gown. But you walk like a girl, only more 
gracefully, and your hair you are getting 
younger, Harriet." 



142 The Banker and the Bear 

" Only more skilled in trickery." She spoke 
lightly ; then, with a glance at the sky, she said 
in an altered voice, 

" How fast it fades." 

"The sunset? It's clouding up fast. We'll 
have a shower pretty soon." 

" Come," she said, " let us go to dinner. 
I've kept you waiting." 

Harriet was quite herself now. All through 
the dinner she entertained him, talking lightly 
about the little amusing incidents of the day, 
and though her gayety ran false on her own 
ears, she knew from his face that he thought 
it spontaneous. 

" Your day has gone all right, I suppose ? " 

It was the question she had promised herself 
not to ask again. She had held it back as long as 
she could, but it had escaped in spite of her, and 
she realized how vain such a promise had been. 

He nodded. " Nothing much one way or the 
other." 

"You didn't do any trading in lard, then. 
That must have been rather exciting when it 
slumped." 

He smiled. " You didn't think I'd got caught 
in that, did you ? " 






Deeper Still 143 

" The other way about," she said with a laugh. 
" I hoped you might have made something on 
it. You knew it was coming, didn't you ? " 

" No, I'm leaving lard alone just now." (She 
wondered how real the indifference in his voice 
might be.) " That's Pickering's deal. I haven't 
mixed into it yet What's that?" 

His exclamation was caused by the sound of 
voices raised in altercation. It was followed by 
the thud of heavy footsteps approaching the 
dining room. Sponley had half risen from his 
chair when the portiere was roughly brushed 
aside and Curtin entered the room. 

" I've found you," he said. " The maid told 
me you were at dinner. She didn't want to let 
me in, but I came. She thought I was drunk ; 
everybody thinks I'm drunk, but I'm not. I 
had to see you on a matter of importance." 

He spoke clumsily, with a labored distinctness. 
Sponley looked at him from head to foot, at his 
flushed face and disordered clothes. 

"Take off your hat, Mr. Curtin," he said 
shortly. 

"I I forgot," stammered Curtin. " You 
probably think " 

" One moment," Sponley interrupted. " Mrs. 



144 The Banker and the Bear 

Sponley, if you will leave us for a few moments, 
I'll attend to Mr. Curtin's business." 

When they were alone Sponley forestalled 
Curtin's attempt to speak. 

" Don't tell me again you aren't drunk. I 
know you aren't. I know what's the matter 
with you. You've been buying lard to-day and 
you've got squeezed. That's the case, isn't it ? " 

Curtin stared at him dully, but Sponley did 
not return the look. He eyed his half-empty 
coffee cup and tapped it lightly with a spoon. 

" I supposed you would do that," he said 
thoughtfully, " and I suppose you have taken 
some of the bank's money to buy it with. You 
haven't any of your own." 

Curtin's apathy forsook him suddenly. " You 
suppose ! " he cried. His shaking voice gained 
intensity as he went on. " You knew I would. 
You told me to. You told me lard would go up, 
and you lied to me. You damned old devil," 
he shouted, "you tricked me. You did it to 
send me to prison. You " 

" Be quiet ! " Sponley thundered. It had 
been years since he had so far lost control of 
himself ; but Curtin had chanced to strike the 
joint in his armor. The thought that Harriet 



Deeper Still 145 

had overheard the words put him for an instant 
into a rage. But he recovered quickly. 

"If you raise your voice like that again in 
this house, I shall certainly have you sent to 
prison. I'll have you snug in jail within half 
an hour. I promise you that." 

In declaring that he had not been drinking, 
Curtin had told the truth ; yet his mental pro- 
cesses were those of a drunkard. Of all this 
man's many weaknesses, the greatest was a 
lack of poise ; in his soberest moments he was 
badly ballasted. The experiences of that after- 
noon, the rapid alternation between rage and 
terror, had shaken him to the foundation, and 
had left his mind in a state of unstable equi- 
librium precisely like that of an inebriate. It 
careened far to this side or to that at the small- 
est suggestive impulse. Sponley's threat of 
sending him to prison had recalled the night- 
mare of the afternoon, and his anger gave way 
to the numbness of fear. 

" If you were in condition to think," said 
Sponley, meditatively, " I could convince you 
that I didn't try to lead you into a trap, as you 
say. I don't want you in prison on a charge of 
forgery or embezzlement or whatever it would 



146 The Banker and the Bear 

be. I need you outside. You'll see that when 
you get quieted down. How much will it cost 
to get you out of the hole ? " 

"A little over ten thousand." The words 
came monotonously. 

Sponley kept his eyes on the coffee cup. 

" Well," he said at last, " it's worth the price. 
I'll pull you out." 

Curtin looked at him in a daze. Then bury- 
ing his face in his hands he began to sob. Even 
to Sponley's tough sensibilities the sight was 
revolting. 

" Get up ! " he commanded. " Don't be a dis- 
gusting fool." 

" I can't thank you," the other began brokenly. 

" I want no thanks." Sponley's voice was 
almost a snarl. " It's not a favor to you ; it's 
business. It's worth ten thousand dollars to 
me just now to have you in Bagsbury's bank. 
You're in no shape for anything now. Go home 
and go to sleep and come back here before 
banking hours, and I'll talk business with you 
and arrange to square you with the bank. 
Come, get up ! " 

Curtin struggled to his feet and started toward 
the library door. 



Deeper Still 147 

" Not that way," said Sponley, sharply. 
"This is the way out." 

" I wanted to apologize to Mrs. Sponley for " 

Sponley caught him by the arm. " I don't 
want to have to kick you out of the house," he 
said savagely. " Come with me." 

A moment later he spoke to Harriet from the 
library door, 

" I've got to see John Bagsbury for a while 
this evening." 

" Please don't go just yet. I want to speak 
to you." 

Entering the room he saw her sitting bolt 
upright in the middle of the big sofa, her hands 
clasped tight in her lap, her face colorless to 
the lips. 

" What's the matter ? " he cried in quick 
alarm. " Are you sick ? " 

" Please tell me," she said, ignoring his ques- 
tion, "please tell me all about it about Mr. 
Curtin." 

" He'd been misled by something I said about 
lard's going up into buying a lot of it to-day. Of 
course, he got caught. He'd taken the bank's 
money to trade with. He got a fool notion into 
his head that I'd meant to soak him." 



148 The Banker and the Bear 

" Did you manage to convince him to the 
contrary ? " she asked unsteadily. 

" I promised to meet his losses out of my own 
pocket and square him with the bank. That 
seemed to convince him." 

She leaned back among the pillows, breathing 
deeply and tremulously, and he watched her 
smiling. 

" What did you think ? " he asked. 

"Oh, I didn't think at all I couldn't. I 
heard what he shouted at you just as I went out 
and it made me sick. I didn't dare to think." 

He sat down beside her on the sofa and 
stroked her hand. 

"I've been silly again," she went on presently. 
" You see, you haven't told me about any of 
your plans lately, and I'm so used to knowing 
that when you don't tell me I get to imagining 
things all sorts of things." 

" What would you have done if I had if I 
had run it into Curtin that way ? What would 
you think of me ? " 

" Don't," she said quickly, " don't try to tease 
me about it. I didn't really think so for a min- 
ute." 

"The fact is," said Sponley, thoughtfully, 



Deeper Still 149 

"that this sort of life is too much for you. 
Yes, it is," he repeated in answer to the dissent- 
ing movement of her head, " and I believe it's too 
much for me, too ; at any rate, I'm getting a lot 
less enthusiastic about it; I'm beginning to like 
to get away from it and that's something new 
for me. I suppose that's the reason I've had so 
little to say about it to you. When I get home 
I like to think about other things, just as we did 
to-night at dinner. We'll have to shut up shop 
permanently, pretty soon, and get off where 
it's quiet ; buy a farm somewhere, and we'll go 
into politics and run for supervisor or something. 
Won't that be a good thing to do ? " 

Her only answer was a low, contented laugh, 
and then they both were silent. 

Melville Sponley was at that moment just at 
the beginning of one of the biggest and most 
daring campaigns he ever planned. For months 
he had been ready for it ; in the past few days 
certain facts had transpired which had enabled 
him to fix his plans definitely. The preliminary 
moves were already made. The next move was 
a certain proposition he meant to make to John 
Bagsbury that evening. The object of it all was 
to break Pickering's corner in lard. The cam- 



150 The Banker and the Bear 

paign would be difficult, but in point of strategy 
it was the neatest he had ever planned. All the 
foresight he had shown in dealing with John 
during the past few months would come to his 
help now. 

But right on the threshold he was hesitating. 
He had told Harriet the truth in saying that he 
was beginning to wish to quit. He had been 
promising himself right along that this campaign 
should be his last. He was rich enough to stop 
now, as far as that went. And after all, why 
not ? Indecision was a state of mind quite for- 
eign to him, but to-night his mind swung from 
one side to the other. When Harriet finally 
broke the long silence, she almost startled him. 

"You've made me happier to-night than I've 
been for a long time. But I don't want to be 
left alone. I'm afraid I'd get to thinking about 
Mr. Curtin. You get the carriage and take me 
with you to the Bagsburys'. I shan't mind the 
rain." 

" All right," he said. 



CHAPTER X 

NEVER DID RUN SMOOTH 

" HAVE you any idea what it is that's keeping 
Mr. Bagsbury?" Alice asked of Jack. She had 
been expecting him every moment while they 
were at dinner, and the tone of her question 
betrayed nervousness. 

" No," said Jack, abstractedly, then, rousing 
himself: "no, he just told me I'd better come 
out here to dinner and tell you not to wait for 
him as he would be late. He said it might be 
eight o'clock before he could get home." 

" Then you had two invitations," said Dick. 

" That's why I ate two dinners." 

Alice rose. " I promised Martha to help her 
with her lessons. I'll leave you to entertain 
each other until John comes back." 

" You must be blue," Dick remarked when 
she was gone. " You never make jokes like 
that except when you're blue. Oh, I know, 
you want to smoke. Let's go into the library." 



152 The Banker and the Bear 

She led the way thither ; and, after turning on 
the electric lights, seated herself at the end of 
the sofa. Jack lighted a cigar and stood look- 
ing about with a frown. 

" Not satisfied yet ? " she asked. 

He shook his head. " This room's all right," 
he said, "but we see it too plainly." He turned 
off all the light, and groping his way to one 
of the windows drew wide the curtain. For a 
moment he stood looking out ; then he raised 
the window, and they heard the summer shower 
which was beating straight down through the 
still air upon the pavement. The big arc lamp 
from the street threw a patch of white light 
upon the floor. 

"For purposes of romance," he said, as he 
seated himself near her on the sofa, "that 
doesn't quite come up to the moon ; but it does 
its best, and it has sense enough not to go out 
just because it rains." 

During the next two minutes, as Dick watched 
the rim of fire which glowed now bright, now 
dull, between Jack Dorlin's cigar and its ash, 
she thought of many things to say, but none of 
them seemed to fit. Jack, apparently, had no 
idea of saying anything, and the silence seemed 



Never did run Smooth 153 

to her to be acquiring a discomforting signifi- 
cance. It was most absurd to feel that way 
about it ; she and Jack were certainly old 
enough friends. 

" Luckily, we don't need it for purposes of 
romance " 

That wasn't just what she meant, either, 
and she added hastily, "You know this is to 
be a business conversation. We've got to 
decide what we'll tell John when he comes 
home." 

" That's so," said Jack, vaguely. Evidently 
he had nothing more to contribute to the 
conversation. 

"Don't you suppose," Dick began again, 
" that perhaps the bank was hurt by Mr. Pick- 
ering's failure ? John had just lent him a great 
deal of money, you know." 

" He's got the lard." 

" Yes ; but the lard isn't worth nearly as 
much as it was." 

"That's so," said Jack, more abstractedly 
than ever. 

" Are you trying to be stupid ? " she asked 
almost impatiently. 

" I don't think I'm stupid at all. I'm just 



154 The Banker and the Bear 

enjoying things. That patch of electric light, 
and this rain, and this " 

She interrupted him: "And I've been dis- 
turbing your peaceful soul. Just let me turn 
on a light for a minute to find a book, and then 
I'll leave you to the contemplation of your street 
lamp." 

She spoke laughingly, but he saw that she 
meant it. 

" Don't go, Dick. I want to talk to you. I 
was just getting myself together." 

Dick dropped back upon the sofa from which 
she had half arisen. The situation was going 
from bad to worse. 

" I must own up at last to something that 
I've known for months and haven't been willing 
to admit to myself. I've been trying to con- 
vince myself that it wasn't so; but it's no use 
for me to pretend any longer. I'm making 
myself ridiculous by plugging away down there 
at the bank." 

Dick gasped. She was glad the room was 
dark, for she could feel her face burning. 

" Please don't think," Jack went on, quite 
innocently, " that it's the work I don't like ; I 
really enjoy the drudgery. It's the doing it so 



Never did run Smooth 155 

badly that's discouraging. I'm just a regular 
fool down there. Why, I come up here even- 
ings and laugh over Hillsmead, but I'll wager 
it isn't a circumstance to the way Hillsmead 
laughs over me. It isn't as though I shirked 
my work and didn't care. I've been doing the 
best I know, and worrying myself gray-headed 
over it; I'm kept back by sheer mental inca- 
pacity." 

" That's nonsense." 

"Oh, I thought so myself at first," he an- 
swered, with a laugh, " and I went on telling 
myself so, long after I knew it wasn't." 

There was a short pause, and then he went on : 

" I went into the bank partly because it was 
an amusing novelty, and partly with the insane 
idea that I was rather more intelligent than the 
average born-and-bred bank clerk, and that I 
could do his work unusually well. But the main 
reason why I did it was that I wanted to con- 
vince you that I was really some good after all. 
It was a sort of gallery play when you come to 
look at it." 

" I think that's about the unfairest thing you 
ever said : unfair to both of us." 

" I don't mean it just as it sounds. It wasn't 



156 The Banker and the Bear 

your fault that you never took me seriously. 
You couldn't, because I didn't myself. I was 
contented with amusing myself at the expense 
of people who took things seriously. 

" I've learned other things in the last six 
months besides the fact that I'll never be worth 
more than fifteen dollars a week in a bank." 

His words halted there. They had been com- 
ing easily enough until now, for they had put off a 
little the declaration that he knew he must make. 
They had meant nothing, but this next sentence 
yes, it must be the next might sweep away 
the hope that had grown to be the dearest thing 
he owned. 

The words were there, but he could not force 
them from his lips. If he had but known it, there 
was small need of them. Her hand was resting 
on the sofa right beside him. He knew, because 
his own had touched it a moment ago ; she had 
not taken it away. Yes, he could have told her 
the story without words. But at last he went on 
again, speaking very slowly : 

" Do you remember I fancy you've not for- 
gotten long ago it was the second summer 
vacation you spent with us, the summer after I 
graduated one August evening I told you " 



Never did run Smooth 157 

"Yes, I remember." 

" And you told me I was mistaken ; that you 
were perfectly sure that I didn't have the least 
idea of what it meant that I had told you. You 
remember it, don't you, Dick ? " 

She nodded. He was not looking at her, but 
he took her silence for assent. 

" I've learned these last few months that you 
were right ; that I was mistaken " 

It was not at all remarkable that neither of 
them heard John Bagsbury's steps as he neared 
the library door, nor that when he opened it they 
both started violently. John peered about in 
the dark, groped his way to the switch, and 
turned on the light. Then he saw who were 
sitting on the sofa. 

" Excuse me," he said. "I Alice told me 
you were here " He looked at them doubt- 
fully'for a moment, and then repeating, " Excuse 
me," he turned to leave the room. 

" Oh, don't go ! " Dick exclaimed, somewhat 
breathlessly, " we were waiting for you to come 
home. We wanted to talk with you we turned 
out the light because " 

Here the words seemed to stick. She turned 
sharply away, toward the window, as it hap- 



158 The Banker and the Bear 

pened, and started to rise. John followed the 
glance. " Don't get up," he said quickly. 
"I'll draw the curtain." 

As John turned his back, Dick looked 
squarely at Jack Dorlin as though challenging 
him to read whatever he could in her flushed 
face. 

" Talk," she commanded under her breath. 

" I've been telling Miss Haselridge," he said 
when John had returned and seated himself near 
them, " that I thought I'd quit the bank." 

" I'm glad of that," said the Banker. 

Jack had never learned how not to be discon- 
certed by John Bagsbury's brief, unequivocal 
way of putting things. He had no wish to con- 
tinue this conversation ; but feeling that he owed 
it to Dick to keep things going somehow, he 
managed to give reasons for his decision. 

" Understand," said John, " it's largely on 
your account that I'm glad you have decided to 
try something else. Your work, so far as I 
know, has been satisfactory. The trouble is 
you started out too late to do much at this sort 
of business, and you aren't naturally cut out for 
it, anyway. I think you're right, that you can 
do better at something else. But you've done 



Never did run Smooth 159 

a hundred per cent better than I thought you 
could; and if you'll let me say so, you've in- 
creased my respect for you in about the same 
ratio. I'll be glad of the change on my own 
account, too, because I'd rather know you as 
a friend from the outside than as one of my 
employees." 

John could hardly have given them a better 
opportunity to tell him what they had been 
planning to tell him of their suspicions regard- 
ing Sponley and Curtin; but perhaps because 
each was waiting for the other, or because 
neither could think of the right words to intro- 
duce so delicate a subject, it was John, very red 
and uncomfortable over the compliment he had 
just paid Jack, who broke the silence. 

" Do you want to leave the bank at once ? " 
" N no," said Jack. " If you're willing to 
keep me, I'd like to stay until I can decide 
what to do next." 

" Will Mr. Pickering's failure hurt the bank ? " 
Dick asked the question rather nervously. It 
was an approach to what she wished to say 
about Curtin. 

" Pickering hasn't failed," said John, in sur- 
prise ; " what made you think he had ? " 



160 The Banker and the Bear 

Between them they told him what they had 
seen on the Board of Trade ; but they said noth- 
ing it seemed impossible to say anything 
of their encounter with Curtin. 

" Pickering didn't tell me what he meant to 
do," said John, thoughtfully, " but I understood 
what the object of his move was. He's in bet- 
ter shape than he was this morning. He busted 
the market himself, turned right around and 
sold to himself through other brokers." 

"What did he want to do that for?" she asked. 

"Don't you see?" said John; "he wants to 
buy all the lard there is. That puts the price 
up. Well, as soon as it was known that he was 
buying heavily, a lot of other fellows some of 
them regular traders on the board, but more 
outsiders, who thought they saw a chance to 
get rich in ten minutes came around and began 
to buy, too. Of course, as long as they're buy- 
ing, Pickering can't get it all ; so he busted the 
market, knocked the bottom right out of it, so 
as to shake out the little fellows who were get- 
ting in his way. He did it uncommon well, too. 
I don't think I ever saw anything in provisions 
take a quicker tumble than lard did this after- 
noon. He must have caught a lot of small 



Never did run Smooth 161 

traders. He's got more lard than ever, and he's 
got the price hammered down, too, though 
that'll get right back in a day or two. He may 
have to do the trick two or three times before 
they learn to leave him alone." 

" I suppose, from his point of view, that's all 
right," said Jack. "To me, who've never got 
the idea of it, it seems very much like run- 
ning a knife into another fellow's back. The 
business disgusted me this afternoon, when I 
couldn't understand it; and now that I do, it 
seems worse." 

" I wonder how the little ones who were 
caught feel about it?" said Dick. 

" Oh, it's all business," answered the Banker, 
slowly. " They know, or at least they ought to 
know, just what chance they run. What Pick- 
ering did was what they might have expected 
him to do ; there wasn't anything irregular 
about it. Though I admit," he went on, 
" that, personally, I don't like the idea of it. 
I'm glad it isn't my business." 

" But do you think it's honest ? " she asked. 

" Commercially honest," he answered. " In 
any sort of business a man finds out before long 
that that's a pretty complicated question. To 

M 



1 62 The Banker and the Bear 

people who live as you do, honesty must come 
pretty easily. But it takes a lot more than 
good intentions to make an honest banker, 
for instance." 

" That's the first time I thought of honesty as 
an accomplishment," laughed Dick. 

" Well," said John Bagsbury, with a smile, 
" I mean all right ; but if it came to a pinch, I 
don't know how far I could bet on my own." 

The door-bell had rung while they were talk- 
ing, and John glanced into the hall to see who 
the visitors were. 

" Hello ! " he exclaimed, " there are the Spon- 
leys. Come in ! " He hurried from the room to 
welcome them. 

"Well, we haven't told him," said Jack. 
"Come on, let's escape somewhere." 

Alice Bagsbury had heard the voices and was 
coming down the stairs, so that there was a 
momentary delay in the hall. 

" If you don't hurry, we'll surely get cut off," 
Jack continued eagerly. " Where shall we go ? 
Into the dining room ? " 

But instead of answering him, Dick bowed, 
smiling to some one behind him, and he heard a 
voice saying, " Good evening, Miss Haselridge." 



Never did run Smooth 163 

He turned around and bowed to Mrs. Spon- 
ley with what appearance of cordiality he could 
muster. He was puzzled rather than annoyed. 
He had never known Dick to be slow before. 
Yet certainly they should have been able to 
escape easily. 

" I came to talk over a little business with 
John," said Sponley. " I don't know why 
Harriet came." 

" And I came to to hear Mr. Dorlin play ; 
I had an intuition that he'd be here." Harriet 
laughed as she spoke and turned to Jack. 
"Will you?" she asked. "Come, let's go into 
the drawing-room." 

Musically, Jack was something of a classicist; 
but to-night, after he had dug his fingers into 
one or two vicious arpeggios, he began playing 
some very modern Russian music music which 
suggests to the untutored ear the frightful pos- 
sibility that the pianist is playing in the wrong 
key with his left hand. Jack enjoyed it; it 
served admirably as a vent to his irritation. 
What an evening he had had of it ! Interrupted 
by John Bagsbury just as he was telling Dick 
well, the most important thing one could 
tell a girl, and then interrupted by the Sponleys, 



164 The Banker and the Bear 

just as he thought he had it on the tip of his 
tongue to tell John about Curtin. Mrs. Spon- 
ley was the worst offender : by her unseemly 
haste into the library she had cut off his re- 
treat with Dick ; then she had stranded him at 
the piano ; and now, instead of talking to Mrs. 
Bagsbury, she was monopolizing Dick at the far 
side of the room. As he thought of his griev- 
ances, his interpretation of the very modern 
Russian music grew more and more enthusi- 
astic, until it seemed fairly inspired. When he 
finished, there was a request for more ; but it 
was faint. 

He looked helplessly about the room for an 
instant; no, there was nothing else for it. " I'm 
sorry," he said, "but I must be going." He 
shook hands with Alice, bowed to Mrs. Spon- 
ley, and then looked hard at Dick. But she 
returned his unspoken message with only a 
nod of farewell. " Come again, as soon as you 
can," she said. 

Jack strode down the front steps, for once 
in his life thoroughly angry. Whatever Dick 
might think of him, however tired she might be 
of having him tell her that he loved her, he at 
least deserved a hearing. He knew that she 



Never did run Smooth 165 

could have escaped from the library; that just 
now she might easily have excused herself and 
followed him into the hall, as she had done a 
dozen times before. She had chosen that way 
of telling him that she did not wish him to 
finish what he had begun to tell her ; what he 
had kept himself from telling her all these last 
six months. 

So through the still pouring rain, up this 
street and down that, without rain-coat or um- 
brella, splashed Jack Dorlin, angry, miserable, 
promising himself a vengeance, and calling 
himself a cad for thinking of such a thing ; 
making new resolves, good and bad, at every 
street corner, and rejoicing only in the water 
which drained from the brim of his straw hat 
and drenched his thin-clad shoulders. 

Truly it is a madness, though not confined to 
midsummer. 



CHAPTER XI 

COMMON HONESTY 

IN the library the two men watched the door 
until it clicked shut behind those who were 
going into the drawing-room to hear Jack Dor- 
lin play. Then, after adjusting his easy-chair 
so that the light would not fall on his face, John 
Bagsbury seated himself. 

" I'm tired to-night. This has been a big 
day. You say you have some business to talk 
over. It's against your rule, isn't it, to talk 
business after dinner ? " 

Sponley nodded. " This is rather important ; 
and I couldn't be sure of catching you the 
first thing in the morning, so I broke over, for 
once. 

" I came around," he continued, " to ask you 
what you mean to do with Pickering ? " 

If John had any movement at all, it was like 
that of a man who had just lighted a good 
cigar, a relaxing of the muscles, a sinking 
1 66 



Common Honesty 167 

somewhat deeper into the big arm-chair. Spon- 
ley glanced at him, expecting a reply, but it 
was near a minute before John spoke. 

"Why do you want to know? I mean, in 
what capacity do you ask me ? " 

" Why as a director in Bagsbury and Com- 
pany's Savings Bank, I suppose," said Sponley, 
tolerantly. 

" I have said nothing to my directors about 
any business dealings with Pickering." The 
words were not said brusquely; they were the 
simple statement of a fact. 

" Exactly, and therefore one of your directors 
is compelled to come and ask you about it in 
order to find out." 

" And as I have said nothing," John con- 
tinued more slowly, "it is a fair inference that 
I have nothing to say." 

Sponley laughed. " That's a bit radical ; in 
fact, it's irregular. A director is generally sup- 
posed to have a right to know about a thing like 
that. But then I can understand that there are 
times when a banker doesn't want his directors 
to bother him till afterward. But I don't 
insist on my status as a director. I repeat the 
question as Melville Sponley." 



1 68 The Banker and the Bear 

"That's somewhat different" 

Sponley eyed him alertly, expecting that he 
would go on. But John showed no sign of any 
such intention. He was sitting quite still in his 
chair lazily is perhaps a better word and 
his eyes were shut. 

" Don't you think," the Bear asked evenly, 
" that this fencing is a waste of time ? I have 
asked you what you mean to do about Pickering. 
I'd like to have you tell me." 

After another moment of silence John replied, 
but with a question: 

" What do you know about Pickering ? Or, 
rather, how do you know that there is anything 
for me to tell you ? " 

Not until that moment did Sponley realize 
that here was a man who could match him at 
his own game. He discovered the fact when 
he found himself sitting bolt upright, his 
muscles drawn taut, a sharp reply, on the end 
of his tongue. He dropped back into his chair 
and said patiently, 

" I did just what every other man in the city 
who has the smallest interest in commercial 
matters did before ten o'clock this morning, I 
read the story in the Herald" 



Common Honesty 169 

"You accused me a minute ago of fencing 
with you," John spoke quickly ; " I was not 
fencing. I was a little in doubt as to just 
where we stood, and I asked questions to find 
out. But when you tell me that all you know 
about the Pickering deal is what you read in 
the Herald, you are evading. The story 
mentioned neither me nor my bank." 

" For the last twenty years, or thereabouts, 
we've called each other friends," said Sponley, 
thoughtfully. " Neither of us take much stock 
in gush, and I shan't begin at it now. But 
we've found we can help each other, and that 
it has paid to hang together. How much more 
it means than that there's no good discussing. 
I think the mere question of self-interest ought 
to make it clear to you where we stand. 

"Regarding what I know about Pickering," 
he went on, " I tell you frankly that I know 
more than was in the paper. I know that you 
loaned him half a million dollars, and that you 
took his lard as security. I'm not at liberty to 
tell how I found that out." 

" There was a time to-day," said John, quietly, 
" when if I could have got hold of the man who 
had sold that information, I think I would have 



I/O The Banker and the Bear 

strangled him. I don't feel that way now, 
though." 

" It wouldn't help you if I were to tell you 
the name of my informant. You couldn't trace 
it through him. Have you thought, I don't 
like to say anything of this kind on just a 
guess, but this matter's serious enough to war- 
rant it, have you thought of young Dorlin in 
that connection ? " 

John smiled. "No," he said dryly; "it wasn't 
Dorlin." 

" He seems," Sponley went on slowly, " to 
be pretty thoroughly in your niece's confi- 
dence " 

"We'd better leave Miss Haselridge out of 
the discussion entirely," said John. 

At that moment Sponley began to wonder 
whether he had not made a mistake in leaving 
Dick so completely out of his accounting. He 
had hardly so much as looked at her. He had 
thought himself familiar with every influence 
which had a bearing on John Bagsbury ; but 
certainly he had never considered her in such a 
connection this pretty girl, just out of college, 
who liked to pretend that she was interested 
in the banking business. 



Common Honesty 171 

"All right," said Sponley, "that was just a 
chance idea of mine; take it for what it's worth. 
But that isn't what I've come to talk about. I 
want to advise you to let go of Pickering." 

"You mean not to let him have any more 
money ? " 

" No, I mean to get back what you've already 
loaned him, and get it back quick to-morrow, 
if possible." 

He paused. " Well, go on," said the Banker ; 
" let's have the rest of it." 

" I say to-morrow, because to-morrow will 
be your last chance. Pickering's as good as 
busted." 

" We're on the wrong tack altogether," said 
John. " Don't you see we can't get anywhere 
without straight talk ? You know perfectly 
well that it was Pickering himself who knocked 
the bottom out of September lard, and you 
know why he did it." 

" I wasn't referring to that, and I am giving 
you straight talk, as you say. We know each 
other too well to try any sort of bluff. The 
market's going to take another tumble to-mor- 
row, and it won't be any of Pickering's doing, 
then. Lard's as sure to drop to-morrow as the 



172 The Banker and the Bear 

sun is to rise, and we, the bank, that is, want 
to stand from under." 

There was no response from the Banker, and 
Sponley looked at him. The face in the shadow 
told him nothing, nor the attitude, but at last 
John spoke : 

"You puzzle me," he said. "I still don't 
know where you stand. You come, you say, 
in the interest of the bank, with information 
that is vital, and yet you don't give it to me. 
I loaned Pickering money on what I considered 
good security. You want me to try to get the 
money back on the strength of what may be 
just a guess of yours. I can't put my judgment 
into another man's hands." 

" It's not a guess," Sponley spoke almost 
eagerly. " I know it." 

"Then," said John Bagsbury, "if your warn- 
ing is in good faith, tell me how you know it." 

" I know it, because I'm going to bust him 
myself." 

" Can you do it ? " 

"Yes." 

"Without the help you want me to give 
you ? " 

" Yes." 



Common Honesty 173 

" Can you do it if I back up Pickering just 
as I would any other customer ? " 

Again the unqualified affirmative. 

And again the Banker was silent. Had he 
expressed doubt or even positive conviction that 
Sponley was wrong, had he shown righteous 
indignation and spoken of treachery, the Bear's 
part would have been easier. He showed noth- 
ing ; whether he was determined, or afraid, or 
in doubt, Sponley could only guess. 

Direct argument, threat, entreaty, explana- 
tion, were to Sponley unwonted weapons. His 
strategy did not favor the frontal attack. He 
was a master at the art of making his opponent 
do the fighting, of giving him plenty of rope, 
and allowing him to entangle himself in it. But 
here with John Bagsbury it seemed to be the 
other way about. There was about John the 
strict economy of effort which one sees in a 
skilled fencer : never a word that was not neces- 
sary ; never a flourish of high-sounding senti- 
ment; simply alertness and repose and the 
patience of the everlasting hills. 

So, though Sponley waited, he knew it was 
in vain, and at last began doing what he had so 
often compelled other men to do. 



1/4 The Banker and the Bear 

"This is the situation. I'm making this 
proposition in your interest and in my own, too. 
I ought to have told you that at the start. I'm 
fighting Pickering in this deal. I've got a big 
job on my hands, but I can do it. There are 
a few fellows who'll be with me, but not to any 
great extent. If I don't make a lot of money, 
I'll be busted; but I'm going to make it. I'm 
not going it blind. It's natural that in a big 
fight like this I don't like to see you helping out 
the other fellow. I don't ask you to help me ; 
all I want is that you shall be neutral. It's bad 
enough to be up against Pickering without hav- 
ing to fight you, too." 

It had a plausible sound not unsatisfactory to 
Sponley ; but John's next question cut right to 
the root of it. 

" How long ago did you go into this deal ? " 

Little more than twenty-four hours had passed 
since the Bear had seen and seized this oppor- 
tunity. He answered easily : 

" Oh, a couple of months. I began selling 
September lard in May." 

But he could not guess from the unexpres- 
sive face whether or not the Banker knew 
he had lied. John's silence had in it a sting 



Common Honesty 175 

which urged Sponley's faculties to their best 
efforts. 

"This is no whining for mercy, you under- 
stand. It's no figure of speech when I say that 
your interest lies the same way." 

He paused as though to marshal his 
thoughts ; then continued : 

" Pickering's a good man, but an old-timer. 
Even in his day lard was never so easy to cor- 
ner as it looked ; but now when they can make 
it without hogs, it's impossible for a man to 
hold up the market. Right in this city there 
are tanks of lard, not tierced, that Pickering 
has never heard of ; he will hear of 'em before 
he gets through. I have fifteen thousand 
tierces myself in the warehouses that he'll 
never know exists until it hits him. 

" Now if I bust Pickering, and I give you 
my promise that I will, just think where you'll 
be. You've got the lard, forty thousand of it, 
and you'll be lucky if you don't have to take 
forty thousand more before the end, and you 
won't be able to get rid of it. The market'll be 
swamped, buried under it. Of course, in the 
end, the bank'll get its money back, but for a 
while you'll be in the hole. In fact, when the 



176 The Banker and the Bear 

next stockholders' meeting comes round, you'll 
be in a hole, and it won't be pleasant to have to 
tell those old fossils how you lost it. 

"You know the make-up of the Board of 
Directors," Sponley said slowly, pushing the 
words home hard. " There's a majority that in 
general back up your policy ; but I don't believe 
many of them would take kindly to this sort of 
business : I'm opposed to it myself, for what- 
ever motives you please, and I count one. 
You know how disagreeable a strong opposition 
in your board would be. By letting go right 
away, you can please everybody ; it'll strengthen 
you immensely with the old crowd, and I 
think, " there was just an instant's pause, and 
then the words were shot precisely into the 
centre of the target, "I think that Cartwright 
and Meredith will look at the matter much as I 
do, and that that kind of conservatism will go 
a long way toward convincing them that you 
ought to have full control of your father's 
estate. You've got old Moffat well in hand 
yourself; so there you are. You can run the 
bank as you please by next January, if you only 
play it right now." 

"There's a practical detail to consider," said 



Common Honesty 177 

John. "You say I should drop Pickering to- 
morrow. What excuse have I for calling his 
loan ? " 

"That's not difficult. Ask him for some 
security other than lard. The tumble the stuff 
took yesterday is excuse enough for that, though 
it was his own doing. He won't be able to put 
up any other collateral to-morrow morning. Then 
sell his lard. There'll be market enough for it 
The whole thing'll go like clockwork." 

Sponley lighted a cigar and walked to the 
bookcase. He had said all that was necessary, 
and he was too wise to say more; so he stood 
looking at the books, his back to John. Occa- 
sionally he would take out a volume which had 
attracted his eye, and glance through its pages. 
He was in no hurry. John should have plenty 
of time to think. 

John was not thinking at all. There was 
coming before his mind's eye a succession of 
pictures, without consequence, and quite irrele- 
vant to the situation he ought to be facing. They 
were just haphazard memories, some recent, 
some very old, nearly all of them trivial. He 
saw Sponley lighting his cigar when they had 
just lunched together for the first time how 



178 The Banker and the Bear 

long ago ? He saw himself slamming the car- 
riage door on Harriet's skirt when they were 
coming from a play one night. He saw and 
this took him far back into his boyhood his 
father taking books out of that very shelf where 
Sponley stood, and handing them to Martha, 
who dusted them rebelliously. As he looked 
at this half-forgotten sister of his, the childish 
figure grew older, and he saw that she was Dick 
Haselridge, smiling whimsically, just as a little 
earlier that evening she had smiled over the 
notion that honesty was a matter of more than 
good intentions. 

" This is your proposition, as I understand it," 
said John. " I sell out Pickering, on a pretext, 
to-morrow morning. When he's weakened by 
that attack, you'll throw your lard in, and that'll 
break him. And afterward you will turn Cart- 
wright and Meredith over to me, and support me 
as before on the Board of Directors." 

" That's about it," said Sponley, without turn- 
ing. 

" You want my answer to-night ? " 

" If you please." 

"You won't get it," said the Banker, "to- 
night, or any other time." 



Common Honesty 179 

Sponley whirled around. "What do you 
mean ? " 

John had risen and thrust his hands into his 
pockets. His voice, when he spoke, was a little 
louder and it had a nasal resonance peculiar to 
his moments of excitement. 

" I mean that I do not see that anything you 
have proposed requires an answer." 

The two men looked full into each other's 
eyes. There was no regret there over the break- 
ing up of the ties of a score of years ; that would 
come later, probably to both of them. Now, there 
was nothing but the old primal lust of fighting : 
a challenge flatly given and swiftly accepted. 

" Steady, there ! Steady ! " said Sponley, 
softly. " I'm going to smash Pickering ; and if 
you don't stand from under, I swear to God I'll 
smash you, too." 

Once more John Bagsbury's answer was si- 
lence. As he turned away, there was no gesture 
even of dissent, and his face told nothing. He 
stood looking at the picture cover of a magazine 
which chanced to lie on the centre table ; his 
hands were still in his trousers pockets, every 
line of his long, supple, loose-jointed figure 
showed him to be at ease. 



180 The Banker and the Bear 

Sponley looked at him, then he replaced the 
books he was holding on the shelf, and with a 
swift decision he made his first move. 

" Bagsbury," he said, " I'm a fool. I've lost 
my temper. Haven't got it back yet. I'm dis- 
appointed that you can't help me out. But I 
can see how the business looks to you, or, rather, 
I know I'll be able to see to-morrow morning. 
I don't feel like talking about it yet, and I'm 
going home. But the thing' 11 come out right, 
somehow. We aren't children. Come, the oth- 
ers'll wonder what's become of us." 

It was not fear that induced the sensation of 
nausea which John Bagsbury experienced at that 
moment, though Sponley's conciliatory words 
were far more formidable than his previous 
declaration of war, for they meant that the war 
was already begun. For a flash this uncontrol- 
lable disgust showed in his face. Sponley saw 
it and understood. 

"Come," he repeated, "let's find the others." 

An hour later Dick, entering the library, found 
John sitting there alone. 

" Come in," he called, " come in, Dick, you're 
just the one I wanted to see." 

But though she came and stood near his 



Common Honesty 181 

chair, he seemed again to have lost himself in 
a brown study. 

"Has anything serious happened?" she 
asked at length. 

" I think I want to thank you, Dick," he 
said, disregarding her question. " I think 
you've pulled me out of the hole. 

"A man loses something, living as I have," 
he went on presently. " He loses the power 
of seeing things clearly. I suppose you never 
have any doubt as to whether a thing's straight 
or crooked. I have an idea that having you 
around well that you've brushed up my 
windows a little," he smiled apologetically 
over the figure, "and and I want to thank 
you." 

Dick's eyes were full, and she was not sure 
of her voice, but even if she had been ready, 
John would not have given her time to speak. 
He was filled with a mixture of embarrassment 
and alarm over the words he had just said, and 
he hurriedly changed the subject. 

" I'm afraid you won't forgive me readily 
for coming in here as I did when you and 
Dorlin " 

" What do you mean ? forgive you ? " 



1 82 The Banker and the Bear 

"Why, yes; I interrupted " 

"You didn't interrupt at all. We were just 
we were waiting for you. And anyway, when 
people are as good friends as we three are, 
there isn't any such thing as an interruption." 

" Friends ? " he said. " You and " 

"That's just what Jack and I are, if that's 
what you mean. I was afraid you might not 
understand." 

John was still smiling somewhat sceptically. 

" He was speaking of that himself, to-night 
of our being friends, I mean. He told me " 

(Dick ! Dick ! what are you doing ?) She 
hesitated a moment ; then it came with a rush. 

" He told me that he had thought once 
that that but he knew now he had been 
mistaken." 

Her face was averted. Her voice was un- 
even, but with what kind of emotion John 
could not be sure. He was not expert in the 
matter of inflections. 

" Are you laughing or crying, Dick ? " 

"Neither," she answered, turning upon him; 
" I'm going to bed." 



CHAPTER XII 

CONSEQUENCES 

OFTEN it is not the first step that costs, but 
the waiting for the second. Last night, at a 
crisis, John Bagsbury had found it easy to make 
what was really the most important decision of 
his life. However carefully he had balanced 
upon the pros and cons of the proposition 
Sponley had made, when it came to the ex- 
treme instant of choice, the question had been 
referred not to his judgment, but to a senti- 
ment. His words had said themselves. But 
this morning it was the Banker, a very different 
person from the picture-seeing John Bagsbury, 
who sat at his desk trying to think through 
the situation, and to guess what would happen 
next. 

The sentiment which gets a man into a diffi- 
culty rarely stays around to help him out of it, 
and what the Banker saw was enveloped in no 
luminous atmosphere of optimism. Sponley had 
183 



184 The Banker and the Bear 

not overstated the case last night. In support- 
ing Pickering, John knew that he must en- 
counter determined hostility in his Board of 
Directors; that if he had not won clear by 
next January, his chance of reelection was 
nothing ; and, worst of all, he seemed to have 
thrown away the possibility of getting absolute 
control of his property from the trustees. 

The Banker had to reckon with a formidable 
antagonist, but he had this advantage, in his 
long association with Melville Sponley he had not 
walked blindly. He knew his man thoroughly. 
This knowledge had saved him from being 
deceived by the Bear's last conciliatory words. 
Sponley did not make a fool of himself, Spon- 
ley did not lose his temper. The man to whom 
he confessed such things would do well to be 
very alert. When he had said, "and I swear 
to God I'll smash you, too, if you don't stand 
from under," he had meant it. He would do 
nothing in anger or from spite, nothing that 
was not directly in line toward his end ; but once 
convinced that it was necessary, not for a breath 
would he hesitate. 

John thought long and carefully over the 
probable nature of Sponley's next move. The 



Consequences 185 

most obvious thing for the Bear to do would 
be to work among the other directors and en- 
deavor to stir up a storm of such violence that 
John would be forced either to let go of Pick- 
ering or to resign from the presidency. If 
that were all, if it were to be simply a question 
of brute strength and patience, there was no 
doubt in John's mind as to the outcome. They 
could not force him bodily out of the bank, at 
least, not till the fight was over ; and he knew 
they could not frighten him into yielding. 

There were moments when he ceased to be 
a banker, when he was simply John Bagsbury ; 
and then into his memory would come vivid 
patches of the old time, and he would realize 
how much he had counted on the friendship 
he had just broken. Those were unpleasant 
moments; they brought him even a sensation 
of physical discomfort, but they were infrequent 
and brief. In a moment he was again a mere 
strategist, studying his enemy's positK i. With 
Sponley to fight, it was unlikely to be a ques- 
tion merely of strength. The Bear was sure to 
practise some wily deviltry or other, but there 
was no foreseeing what it would be; so John 
did his other work, and waited for the disagree- 



1 86 The Banker and the Bear 

able scenes he felt sure were coming with the 
directors. 

He waited all day it was Thursday and 
all through two that followed ; but no one came 
to remonstrate, or advise, or threaten ; no one 
who came seemed to have any knowledge of 
the loan to Pickering. It was Sunday morning 
before anything of that sort happened. 

But if, on Friday afternoon, he had gone to 
the golf links, and there could have sat unob- 
served within earshot of a conversation which 
took place about dinner-time in a corner of the 
club-house veranda, he would have heard some 
interesting facts and would, perhaps, have been 
able to deduce some others. 

Mr. Cartwright and Mr. Meredith played golf 
together once a week. Mr. Cartwright played 
because he felt it to be his duty, and Mr. Mere- 
dith because Mr. Cartwright did. They played 
with much formality, and with proper regard 
for the conventions of dress and deportment; 
but, unhappily, with no great skill, and for this 
reason they chose Friday afternoon for their 
game. They would come out to the club-house 
at the hour when there were likely to be the 
fewest people about, sheepishly put on their 



Consequences 187 

golf clothes, they were still as self-conscious 
in those absurd red coats and checked knicker- 
bockers as youngsters who have just been pro- 
moted to long trousers, and steal away to the 
most remote holes, where they would play vig- 
orously for an hour or so. Then hastily they 
would get back into their wonted attire. They 
really enjoyed the rest of the afternoon. Finally, 
after dining on the veranda, they would go home 
together, as proud and boastful over their golf 
playing as they had been ashamed of it while 
in the act. 

The Friday of the week in which Pickering's 
lard deal sprung into public notice was a hot 
day, especially for golf, and the two old men 
were unable to hide from each other the fact 
that they were glad when it was over. But the 
veranda, about sunset time, was pleasant enough 
to compensate, and they were dining there with 
the greatest satisfaction, when a man they knew 
invaded their privacy. He bowed to them from 
the doorway, and then, after hesitating a mo- 
ment, came toward them and, drawing up a 
chair, seated himself at their table. His name 
was Myers, and he was a stockbroker. 

"This is a double fault of mine," he said 



1 88 The Banker and tJte Bear 

with a deprecatory smile ; " I've intruded myself 
upon you, and now I'm going to intrude a mat- 
ter of business." 

Mr. Cartwright frowned, whereupon Mr. 
Meredith cleared his throat impatiently. " Well, 
sir," said Mr. Cartwright. 

For an instant a smile that was not in the 
least deprecatory quivered in the corners of 
the stockbroker's mouth. "You gentlemen 
are trustees of the Bagsbury estate, are you 
not ? " 

The two old men nodded, and their faces grew 
a shade redder ; for they were thinking of Mr. 
M off at, the disaffected, the revolutionary, the 
schismatic, the bane of their hitherto peaceful 
existence. It was not necessary, however, to 
speak of Mr. Moffat, so they merely nodded. 

" I thought of that the moment I saw you 
together," Myers went on, " and it occurred to 
me that you were precisely the men I wanted 
to see. A large block of the stock in Bagsbury 
and Company's Savings Bank was placed in my 
hands this morning for sale. The owner gave 
me no further instructions, and I suppose his 
idea was that I sell it on the stock exchange, in 
the open market. There would be no difficulty 



Consequences 189 

about that, for everybody knows that the stock's 
a gilt-edged investment." 

He paused to give them plenty of time to 
think, and then went on: 

" Bank affairs are like family affairs ; if you 
can settle them without an appeal to the gen- 
eral public, it's somewhat better. This is a large 
block of stock, and offering it in the open market 
would attract attention. I don't know that it 
would do any harm. This bank's too solid to 
be hurt that way. But it seemed to me that if 
I could sell it privately, it would be better. In 
any case, it wants to be settled up by to-morrow 
morning. I was very fortunate in finding you 
here together. It occurred to me that you 
trustees might want to buy it for the Bagsbury 
estate." 

Again the two old gentlemen frowned, and 
again the stockbroker smiled almost impercep- 
tibly. For the estate, indeed ! That would 
mean, no doubt, another snub from the intoler- 
able M off at. 

" Or, of course, for any other party. I shall be 
very glad, indeed, if you gentlemen can relieve 
me of the matter." 

" It was most praiseworthy of you to make 



The Banker and the Bear 



this attempt to dispose of the stock quietly," 
said Cartwright, with ponderous condescension. 
" I cannot applaud your delicacy too highly. A 
public sale would undoubtedly arouse imperti- 
nent curiosity and set idle tongues to wagging. 
We shall be glad to consider your proposition. 
Er who is the present holder of the stock?" 

" There is nothing to make a mystery about. 
I know of no reason in the world why I should 
not tell you it, except (he was something of 
a practical humorist, this stockbroker) except 
that I have no explicit instructions giving me 
the right to tell you." 

" You decline to tell me " 

" In the absence of express permission from 
my customer to tell you, I think it would be 
rather unbusinesslike to do so. That is all. 
You are familiar with the way the stock is held, 
and doubtless if you buy it, the certificates will 
inform you who it is who has sold them." 

For some time the trustees, or rather Mr. 
Cartwright, toyed with the bait, trying to find 
out who was holding the other end of the line. 
Through the conversation you must imagine 
Mr. Meredith as Echo, sending back, with pro- 
found conviction, the last phrase of each of Mr. 



Consequences 191 

Cartwright's sentences. There was some hag- 
gling over the price, some discussion of ways 
and means, and at last the two old gentlemen 
agreed to take the matter under serious advise- 
ment, and the stockbroker left them. 

" They promised to let me know in the morn- 
ing," Myers telephoned his customer a little 
later. " I think we've landed them all right." 
Next morning he was able to verify his predic- 
tion. "I've got the check. They tried hard 
to make me tell them who you were, and they're 
trying to guess now, from the names of the 
original holders on the certificates. They're 
pleased clear through over the deal, though. 
They think it gives them a sort of a grind on 
Moffat." 

John Bagsbury always began the celebration 
of the Sabbath day by a somewhat unsuccessful 
attempt to shave himself, and it was quite in 
the nature of things that when he came down 
stairs he should find the rest of the family wait- 
ing for him in the dining room. He glanced at 
the index column of the thick Sunday news- 
paper, which lay beside his plate, and then, 
instead of making his usual remark that he 
didn't like to have the thing in the house and 



192 The Banker and the Bear 

meant to discontinue his subscription, he turned 
quickly to the front page of the supplements. 
There in big letters across the sheet he read, 
" Pickering's Lard Deal." The article which 
followed was treated after the most approved prin- 
ciples of Sunday journalism. There was a mis- 
erable " half-tone," which bore no resemblance 
to William G. Pickering, and there were spirited 
illustrations of the scenes on the Board of Trade 
when the bottom had mysteriously fallen out of 
the market. The subject was treated exhaust- 
ively. Other famous deals in lard were brought 
up for comparison with this one, and there was 
a detailed account of Pickering's earlier exploits. 
And then at the bottom of a half column of 
seemingly learned comment upon the probable 
outcome was the statement that Bagsbury and 
Company was said to be in the deal with Picker- 
ing, and would no doubt see him through if pos- 
sible, as they had already let him have a great 
deal of money. 

John glanced over the whole article. He 
should have taken warning from the other and 
contrived to head this off; but there was no 
time for regretting the mistake, and he turned 
from that to the present aspect of the situation. 



Consequences 193 

Sponley had made his second move, and John 
felt it a relief that the period of inaction was 
over. The Bear must have had some good rea- 
son for waiting till now for giving out the infor- 
mation he had possessed as early as Tuesday 
night It remained for the Banker to discover 
what that reason was. 

He tossed the paper aside, told two funny 
stories to Mrs. Bagsbury, ran a verbal tilt with 
Dick, who, taken by surprise, had rather the 
worst of it, and then began asking Martha 
absurd questions about her Sunday-school les- 
son. When they rose from the table, he an. 
nounced his intention of going to church. 

"I can think so well there," he explained. 
" I can see through more things while the ser- 
mon is going on than I can all the rest of the 
week." 

"There's a gentleman to see you, sir," said 
the maid. " He's in the library." 

When John opened the door he found Mr. 
Cartwright striding hurriedly about the room, 
much in the manner of a caged polar bear. 
The old gentleman had driven to the house, but 
he could not have looked warmer had he run all 
the way. 



IQ4 The Banker and the Bear 

" Sit down, Mr. Cartwright," said the Banker. 
" Make yourself as comfortable as possible this 
hot morning." N 

But Mr. Cartwright had no intention of being 
comfortable. He wheeled upon John, drew from 
an inner pocket the Morning Herald Supplement, 
and thrust it out at arm's length, as though it 
were a deadly weapon. " Have you read that?" 
he demanded. 

John glanced at it carelessly, then handed it 
back. " Yes," he said, " I have read it. That 
kind of thing is extremely irritating." 

" Irritating ! " thundered Mr. Cartwright. He 
walked suddenly to the window and peered 
anxiously down the street. " I telephoned to 
Mr. Meredith to meet me here," he said, in an 
uneasy parenthesis. Then turning again upon 
John he wrathfully repeated, " Irritating ! " 

"That is my great objection to the Sun- 
day papers," the Banker went on politely. 
" They drag a man back to school when he's 
entitled to a holiday. A man should be 
spared annoyances of this sort one day in the 
week." 

" I do not take the Sunday papers ; I dis- 
approve of them as strongly, no doubt, as you 



Consequences 195 

yourself. This infamous article was shown me 
by a friend of mine, a very good friend of 
mine." 

" I should be inclined to doubt the friendship 
of a man who did me such a favor," said the 
Banker, smiling. 

" Upon my word, you take this very lightly, 
Mr. Bagsbury ! " The old gentleman spoke 
fiercely, but he was not himself ; he missed his 
echo. He checked another movement toward 
the window. " I wish Mr. Meredith would 
come. In a grave matter like this, his judg- 
ment would be invaluable." 

"If you will allow me," said John, "it seems 
to me that you are taking it rather more seri- 
ously than is necessary." 

"Is it not serious ? " demanded the other. 
"You don't mean to tell me, sir, that it is not 
true ! " 

" It's not true. It has a groundwork of fact, 
if you will; but in so far as it insinuates that 
the bank is involved, and that the safety of 
the bank depends on Pickering's succeeding 
in running a corner in lard, it is an unqualified 
lie." 

" I was otherwise informed by my friend " 



196 The Banker and the Bear 

"Your friend is one who can speak with 
authority in the matter ? " 

"Yes, sir," said Mr. Cartwright. "He told 
me that for several days he had feared that 
this would happen. He thinks that the publi- 
cation of these facts puts the bank in a very 
serious position." 

" Did he did Mr. Sponley, I mean suggest 
that you come to me ? " John asked quietly. 

" I do not see the pertinency of that question, 
Mr. Bagsbury." Mr. Cartwright glanced ner- 
vously toward the door. He longed for the 
unwavering support of Mr. Meredith's valuable 
opinion. 

"You are right," said John. "That has 
nothing to do with the matter. But I can 
assure you that Mr. Sponley is mistaken. I 
know more of the bank's condition than it is 
possible for Mr. Sponley to know, and I am not 
at all alarmed. We may feel the effect of this 
attack for a few months, or even longer; I 
fancy that we shall. But I cannot, really, see 
any ground for your concern in the matter. 
Your position as one of the trustees of my 
property is not affected. Of course, if the 
bank should fail, you might have to bear part 



Consequences 197 

of the stigma that a bank failure almost always 
brings. But the bank is not going to fail. A 
falling off in our deposits, or a depression of the 
market value of our stock, or even the passing 
of a dividend, need occasion you no distress. 
Those things may trouble our stockholders, 
though I don't imagine that any of the larger 
ones will feel any great alarm. But you and 
Mr. Meredith and Mr. Moffat need have 
no uneasiness." 

"Mr. Moffat may be uneasy or not, just as 
he pleases ; but Mr. Meredith and I are stock- 
holders, sir; large stockholders." 

" Indeed ? " said John. " Have you held the 
stock very long ? " 

" There again, sir, you are asking an imper- 
tinent question." 

The next moment poor Mr. Cartwright, his 
temper all gone to shreds, drew a breath of 
relief, for the maid had opened the door and 
ushered Mr. Meredith into the library. 

" Mr. Cartwright and I have been discussing 
this most unfortunate article in the Herald" 
said John. 

" Unfortunate is too mild a word for my feel- 
ings," said Mr. Meredith. Then in his great 



The Banker and the Bear 



excitement he made a perfectly original re- 
mark, 

" If we had only waited another day " 

He stopped there, transfixed by a blasting 
look from his fellow-trustee, but he had said 
enough. 

So that was Sponley's reason for waiting. 
As John thought of the beautiful shrewdness of 
the move, he smiled. 

"You are amused, eh!" roared Mr. Cart- 
wright. " I understand you. You sold us that 
stock yourself, and when you have run the bank 
through a few more scandals, you mean to buy it 
back cheap. You are a swindler ! " 

"That brings our discussion to an end, Mr. 
Cartwright," said John Bagsbury. " Good 
morning, gentlemen," he added, holding open 
the door into the hall. 

As the carriage drove away he walked back 
to his desk and wrote the following note : 

" DEAR SPONLEY : I have just learned of the 
sale of your stock in our bank to Messrs. Cart- 
wright and Meredith. As you have no further 
interest in Bagsbury and Company, and as you 
are opposed to its present policy, I suggest that 



Conseqiiences 199 

you hand me your resignation from the Board of 
Directors. We shall be glad to act upon it at 

once. 

" JOHN BAGSBURY." 

"Are you going to church with us, dear?" 
asked Alice, from the doorway. 

" Yes," he said. " I'm afraid I'll have to go 
twice. Just wait a minute and I'll be ready." 



CHAPTER XIII 

HOW THE BEAR SPENT SUNDAY 

SPONLEY was well satisfied with the course 
events so far had taken. He had got rid of his 
bank stock quietly and at a good price, with 
the double advantage to himself of an increased 
freedom of movement, and a greater supply of 
ammunition for his operations against Picker- 
ing. But what pleased him far more was this : 
he had taken Harriet almost without reserve 
into his confidence, and she was, as she had been 
in so many earlier campaigns, his partner. He 
remembered how she had felt when she had 
learned of his understanding with Curtin, and 
he had entertained strong misgivings as to the 
effect which a revelation of his present schemes 
would have upon her. But reflecting that, how- 
ever carefully he might conceal his doings, she 
was sure to guess at a great deal, he had braced 
himself for a somewhat disagreeable scene and 
had told her nearly everything. 



How the Bear spent Sunday 201 

It was his last big fight, he had said, and 
quite sincerely. When this lard corner of Pick- 
ering's was fairly broken, they would go out of 
business and find some less exacting game to 
play for the rest of their lives. To his surprise, 
and to his infinite relief, she had entered into 
his plans with all her old-time enthusiasm, accept- 
ing with very good grace even the enforced hos- 
tility with John. 

" It doesn't really make so much difference," 
she said ; " neither of you can help it. He's 
right from his point of view ; but when it's all 
over he'll see your side of it, and we can be as 
good friends as we were before. I hope, though, 
that your beating Pickering won't hurt the bank 
very seriously." 

"I hope so, too," he assented, and again he 
told the truth. 

Early in the afternoon a messenger boy 
brought John's note. Harriet read it over her 
husband's shoulder. 

"John is quick, isn't he ?" she said. 

" Yes ; but it won't do him any good. Wait 
a minute, boy, and I'll give you an answer." 

He scrawled something on a sheet of note 
paper and handed it to her. It read : 



2O2 The Banker and the Bear 

" DEAR BAGSBURY : I shall seriously consider 
doing as you suggest. 

" Cordially, 

" MELVILLE SPONLEY." 

" That doesn't tell him too much, does it ? " 
he asked, smiling. 

Nevertheless he settled himself to some 
serious thinking. Though it did not at all 
disconcert him, John's note showed him that 
he must alter his plans. Up to this time his 
sole idea had been, as John had foreseen, to 
rouse the directors and the large stockholders in 
an opposition sufficiently determined to compel 
the Banker to drop Pickering. That had been 
his motive for the attack on the bank in this 
morning's Herald. But between the lines of 
the note John had told him plainly that he had 
fathomed his plans, and that fully realizing the 
pressure which would be put upon him he was 
not to be frightened nor coerced. Yet somehow 
the bulldog must be made to let go. 

" That's the whole trick," said Sponley, aloud. 
" The minute Bagsbury is put out of the fight, 
I can handle Pickering. John's the only one 
I've got to give my time to." 



How the Bear spent Sunday 203 

" Is he in as deeply as that ? " she asked. 

"Why the half million that Pickering got 
from him is a comparatively small part of the 
deal, of course; but he'll give him the other 
half of it before the week's out if I know John 
Bagsbury. He'll see him through now, if he 
can. You see, the moral effect of having a big 
bank behind you is immense. It counts with 
the outside trading. Do you remember the 
time I first met John took him out to lunch 
I told you I was building a cyclone cellar in a 
bank ? I built it all right, but the wrong man 
got in. 

" Yes," he went on after a moment of silence ; 
"it's John Bagsbury who's holding up that 
market. When he gets out from under, it'll 
come down. You don't have to knock out all 
the props, you know; one'll do the business." 

" But won't he have to if all the directors " 

" Oh, most anybody else would, but John's 
different. I sized him up right the first time I 
saw him. He knows what he's in for, and he's 
decided he'll stay. I'm afraid it'll take more 
than that Board of Directors to shake him out. 
The depositors " 

He paused, and for a while sat thinking. 



2O4 The Banker and the Bear 

" If something should scare the depositors 
into making a run on the bank you see only 
about half its business is commercial business ; 
the rest is savings. The big depositors wouldn't 
scare. They're stockholders mostly, and they 
know the old bank's as solid as a fort. But if 
the little fellows who've got their savings in 
there once get the idea that it's shaky, they'll 
come, every man, woman, and child of "em, and 
get their money out inside of twenty-four hours. 
He'd have to shut up for a while if they did 
that They won't scare, though," he said, rising ; 
"and I don't know that I'd want them to. I 
hope the directors'll do the trick; but if they 
can't, we'll find some other way." 

He walked over to the telephone and called 
up Jervis Curtin. 

" You saw this morning's Herald, I suppose," 
he said. "Yes I'm coming over to see you 
this afternoon. I had a small dispute with 
Mr. Bagsbury the other day, and I've sold out 
my stock. I think we'd better come to an 
understanding, for his benefit, as to what our 
relations have been All right I'll be over 
in about an hour. 

" I'm going to make another little call on 



How the Bear spent Sunday 205 

Cartwright first," he explained to Harriet. " I 
won't be long at either place. I'll be back for 
tea." 

Mr. Cartwright had taken his echo home with 
him after their disastrous interview that morn- 
ing, ostensibly for the purpose of consultation, 
but in reality to help him fulminate against 
John. They were still doing it when Sponley 
arrived, and between them they had worked up 
a fine rage. They were unaffectedly glad to see 
Sponley, and they showed it by redoubling the 
din and clamor of their outcry against the un- 
speakable rascality of the Banker. 

Though Sponley had on the tip of his tongue 
the word that would correct their error, it looked 
for a while as though he would never have a 
chance to say it, for Mr. Meredith's coda in- 
variably gave Mr. Cartwright breath enough 
to begin again. But at last there was a 
lull. 

" You're mistaken in thinking that Bagsbury 
swindled you. Bagsbury is a perfectly honest 
man " 

" Honest ! " they ejaculated. 

"Though he does make a fool of himself 
sometimes. He did not sell you that stock." 



206 The Banker and the Bear 

"He admitted it practically," said Cart- 
wright. 

" He could not deny it," said Meredith. 

" Whatever he said or did not say," the Bear 
went on, " he did not sell you that stock. I 
have come here this afternoon because I have 
just discovered that I sold it to you myself." 

Sponley might take as much time as he 
pleased now without fear of interruption. Two 
disconnected electric bells lying in a box in the 
hardware shop are not more incapable of sound 
than were at that moment the two old trustees. 

" I need hardly tell you," said Sponley, " that 
I had no such intention. I put my stock in 
Myers's hands with no other instructions than 
that he sell at once. I did not inquire who had 
bought the stock, and it was only by chance that 
I learned to-day that I had been so unfortunate 
as to sell it to you. I think I owe it to you to 
be quite frank with you as to my reason for 
selling out. I did it because I no longer re- 
gard Bagsbury and Company's Bank as a good 
investment." 

He gave the words time to sink in deep before 
he went on. " I don't mean to say that it's 
extremely dangerous, but it is not wholly safe. 



How the Bear spent Sunday 207 

If anybody is going to speculate with my money, 
I want it to be myself, not the president of a 
bank that I hold stock in. 

" Bagsbury's bank is running a great big 
speculation; they may win or they may lose; 
that has nothing to do with it. I get out of a 
bank just as soon as it goes out of the banking 
business, and I'm glad I'm well out of Bags- 
bury's. But I regret that my profit should have 
been at your expense." 

Mr. Cartwright was trying to say something, 
and Sponley added quickly : 

" If I were in a position to take the stock back 
but there's no use in discussing that. I've 
already put the money I got for it where I can't 
get it back." 

Gradually the two scared old gentlemen 
recovered their power of speech, and Sponley 
answered their questions, alternately quieting 
their fears by the assurance that they would 
find no difficulty in selling their stock, and 
waking their alarm again by impressing upon 
them the urgent need of being all sold out by 
to-morrow night. 

As he rose to take his leave, he said, " I have 
talked with you very frankly, because, as I said, 



2O8 The Banker and the Bear 

I have felt that I owed you no less than that, 
and I am sure you realize the immense impor- 
tance of guarding these facts most carefully. 
Of course, if anything should escape concern- 
ing the condition of the bank, the consequences 
would be serious. I know that you will agree 
with me on that point. I wish you the greatest 
success in disposing of the stock." 

Sponley had one more matter to attend to 
that day, and then he would be prepared for 
anything. It was likely, he thought, that John 
might become suspicious of Curtin, the man 
Sponley had put in the bank, and it was impera- 
tive that Curtin be provided with some plausible 
story which should prevent John's taking sum- 
mary action and turning him out of the bank. 

They discussed the matter for nearly an hour 
before Sponley was satisfied. " I guess that'll 
do," he said at last. "It doesn't fit together 
too well, and it doesn't explain everything; 
those are its best points. If you take it to him 
before he comes to you and asks you for it, he'll 
believe you. You'd better tell him the first 
thing in the morning. And the other thing 
you've to do is to watch for a crowd. If you 
see anything that looks like a run on the bank, 



209 

let me know instantly. I'll be right in my 
office; Stewart and Ray will do all my trad- 
ing on the floor, and you can get me in a 
second." 

" I'll want to be pretty careful not to let any- 
body know that I'm in communication with you. 
After what I shall tell Bagsbury to-morrow 
morning, it'd look pretty black if I were caught 
telephoning " 

" Don't delay for anything, not if John Bags- 
bury's standing within arm's length of the 'phone. 
I've got to know of the run on the bank within 
two minutes of the time it starts." 

" All right," said Curtin ; " Bagsbury's pretty 
strong in his hands, but I guess I could take my 
chances with him." 

Sponley nodded. "That's the idea. Well, 
I'm going home to take things easy. I've done 
a good day's work and there's a big rush com- 
ing. Next Sunday I mean to start off on a long 
vacation." 

The Bear drove home in a most cheerful frame 
of mind. Never before had he entered on a 
campaign that promised so well. It would be 
short, furious, and, he felt sure, brilliantly 
successful. 



2IO The Banker and the Bear 

As soon as Bagsbury's bank should open to- 
morrow, he would draw all of his money out of 
it. Then he would begin hammering away at 
Pickering, selling him both cash and September 
lard in enormous quantities. Just as the great 
bull trader was weakening, there would come the 
rumor and in a moment the news of the run 
on the bank. When that happened, it would all 
be over but the shouting and the paying up. 
Pickering would pay. He would arrange with 
his creditors, and go back to the soap business, 
and after a few years, if he lived so long, he 
would try this same fool trick again. 

And John, there was no doubt that Bagsbury 
and Company's Bank would have to suspend pay- 
ment. When they begin to run a savings bank, 
it is very unlikely that they will stop ; and unless 
they stop, the closing of the doors is simply a 
matter of time. 

We speak of a bank's credit as being solid, 
but that is only a comparative term. There is 
nothing else which so light a touch will set flut- 
tering. A whispered question will do it ; an 
assertion is unnecessary. Just, " Do you know 
if it's true that they are in trouble ?" A con- 
founding of two similar names in some stupid 



How the Bear spent Sunday 211 

mind will do it. An office boy's mistake in 
leaving the " Bank Closed " sign hanging a 
half an hour too long in the door will do it. 
Some one takes alarm, then there are three 
then twenty enough to form a line, to attract 
attention from the street, and, except for quick- 
ness, and nerve, and resource, and luck, on the 
part of those in command, there is no stopping 
until the money is gone. 

Sponley had told Cartwright and Meredith 
enough to start a run on any bank ; indeed, as 
he thought it over, he felt somewhat uneasy 
lest he had done more than was necessary. It 
would be rough on John. Sponley wondered if 
it would break his nerve. 



CHAPTER XIV 

GOOD INTENTIONS 

As Jack Dorlin drew near Bagsbury's house 
that same Sunday afternoon, he felt a growing 
misgiving as to the wisdom of going in. He 
had not seen Dick since Wednesday night, 
when John Bagsbury and Mrs. Sponley and 
Dick herself had combined to bring about his 
utter defeat. Since then he had set out a 
dozen times with the determination to see her 
at once and come to some sort of understanding 
with her, and he had as often turned back, con- 
vinced that some other time would suit his pur- 
pose better. But Sunday afternoon itself came 
not more regularly to the Bagsburys than did 
Jack Dorlin, and having told himself that what- 
ever else Dick thought of him she must not 
have a chance to think that he was sulky, he 
was now turning the Bagsburys' corner just at 
his accustomed time. He could see clearly that 
he should have come when he would have had 



Good Intentions 213 

more chance of seeing Dick alone, people 
were sure to be dropping in to-day, and when 
he came opposite the steps he felt a boyish 
impulse to walk straight by. He hesitated a 
moment, in a pitiable state of indecision, then 
walked resolutely up the steps. 

Simultaneously with his ringing the bell, 
Dick opened the door. 

" I saw you coming," she explained, and there 
was something so impossibly innocent in her 
smile that Jack wondered if she had not also 
seen him trying to make up his mind whether 
he would come or not. 

" Come into the library," she went on. " I'm 
all alone just now. The others will be back 
soon, though, I think." 

The library was cool and dim, a grateful re- 
lief after the burning glare of the street, and 
Dick dropped lazily on the big sofa where they 
had sat last Wednesday evening; there was 
also the same expectation of an interruption 
from John Bagsbury. Altogether no circum- 
stances could have been more favorable to the 
immediate carrying out of Jack's intention than 
these. 

" I've come round, Dick, to say what I tried 



214 The Banker and the Bear 

to say the other night. I fancy you have already 
answered me ; but I want to tell you all there 
is to tell, and I want to be sure that we both 
understand. I think we owe each other that." 

Jack had composed that introduction on the 
way over, and had decided that it would do. It 
was clear and dignified, and there was an under- 
current of pathos which modified its admirable 
reserve. But now that the time had come, he 
did not say it. Sitting close beside Dick on the 
sofa, he wondered how he could have thought 
seriously of speaking such idiocy as that. What 
he really said was : 

" How do you keep this room so cool ? It's 
been witheringly hot outside for the last three 
days." 

Then he asked himself why he would be such 
an ass; Dick could see right through him, he 
knew, and she was laughing at him. He looked 
at her. Except for the tell-tale corner of her 
mouth, her face was intensely solemn ; but that 
lurking dimple completely disconcerted Jack. 
He might be a great fool, but she ought not 
to make fun of him like this. 

" How has it been going down at the bank ? " 
she asked. 



Good Intentions 215 

" Badly. They've been losing money." This 
was going from bad to worse. Nothing was 
further from his intention than to say something 
facetious, but he went on : " They think that 
I'm worth fifteen dollars a week, and as I figure 
it, they've lost about six dollars and a quarter 
since Thursday morning by that arrangement." 

" I'm glad you came," said Dick. "I wanted 
to talk with you about the bank. Poor John's 
having a hard time. Mr. Cartwright and Mr. 
Meredith have just bought a lot of stock, and 
they were scared by the story in the paper this 
morning. John's afraid they'll make a great 
disturbance, and try to sell their stock. That 
would give people a rather unfavorable im- 
pression of the condition the bank was in, 
you see." 

So it seemed that, though the bodily presence 
of John Bagsbury could not interrupt him, the 
alert spirit of John Bagsbury was able to inter- 
fere quite as successfully. Dick went on to tell 
him what she knew, and all she had guessed, 
of John's difficulties. At first Jack listened 
patiently, and waited for her to finish so that 
he could take the conversation back to where 
he wanted it ; but never for long could he resist 



216 The Banker and the Bear 

the spell of her enthusiasm, he would take to 
mathematics to-morrow, if she should develop a 
sudden liking for cubic curves, and soon he 
was asking eager questions, and hazarding wild 
speculations upon the probable course of events 
for the next two or three days. 

While they were talking, there came to Jack 
an idea that almost amounted to inspiration. 
It struck him so suddenly as to suspend his 
speech right in the middle of a sentence, and 
he gloated over it in silence, wondering why he 
had not thought sooner of a thing so obvious, 
so easy, and so entirely satisfactory. He would 
carry it out before trying again to tell Dick the 
rest of his interrupted love story. 

In the old days, when he had fancied that he 
loved her, the telling had been comparatively 
easy ; but now that she had become a part of 
every breath he drew, he found the thought of 
telling her most formidable. He had hoped in 
these past few months that she was beginning 
to care in a way very different from her old 
friendly affection for him ; but her behavior since 
Wednesday night had well-nigh swept that hope 
away. He must tell her, even though he was 
inviting certain defeat, and hazarding her friend- 



Good Intentions 217 

ship into the bargain. Yet, with the idea which 
had come to him a moment ago, there had arisen 
the hope that it might be, if he were to do some- 
thing to prove himself of material assistance 
to John Bagsbury in his fight, that this might 
make a difference with Dick. It was worth a 
trial, anyway. 

His sudden preoccupation caused Dick to 
glance at him curiously once or twice ; but for 
a little while she did not break in upon it. 
Then she asked : 

"Are your plans taking shape at all? I 
mean, have you any idea what you'll go into 
after you leave the bank?" 

He roused himself sharply and said, with a 
laugh : " No, I think I'll stay at the bank a 
while longer and collect material for a book. 
I mean to write a biography of Hillsmead, call 
it 'Wit and Wisdom,' or 'The Hillsmead Joke 
Book.' " 

"How immensely funny that will be," she 
said. 

Her tone was not encouraging to any further 
jocularity; but Jack had determined upon his 
course, and he held to it manfully ; and, as best 
she could, Dick concealed her irritation. It 



218 The Banker and the Bear 

was a relief to both of them when the Bags- 
burys came home. 

John Bagsbury was excited, but he had done 
all that he could do, and he was going forward 
into the critical week with the same elation that 
some soldiers feel on the eve of battle. He 
insisted that Jack stay to tea, and afterward he 
talked for two solid hours, so that Alice fairly 
forgot to be sleepy, and Dick and Jack Dorlin 
laughed and then wondered, feeling that never 
before had they seen John Bagsbury fully 
awake. 

" Can you allow me a holiday to-morrow ? 
asked Jack, as he rose to go. " I have some 
personal business that I feel I must attend to." 

Dick followed him into the hall, and, stand- 
ing before the door, barred the way out. " What 
is it you're going to do to-morrow ? " she 
demanded. 

" Just a little matter of business " 

" It isn't curiosity. I really want to know." 

"Why, it's nothing " stammered Jack 
" that is well I can't tell you." 

She turned abruptly away from him and then 
he heard a low chuckle. " I know, I know," 
she said triumphantly. " If it had been anything 



Good Intentions 219 

else, you would have told me, and then how 
cheap you'd have made me feel ! But I knew 
it was that. I want to be in it, too. Come 
around here to-morrow morning before you do 
anything." 

After he had gone, as she turned from the 
door, she met John Bagsbury coming into the 
hall. 

" I'm going up to bed," he said. " I've got 
some big days coming, and to-morrow'll be one 
of them. Wish me luck, Dick." 

" I do," she said. " I know you'll come out 
all right." 

She held out her hand and he took it with a 
grip that fairly hurt her. 

" I mean to," he answered. " Good night." 

" Did John say he was going to bed ? " 
asked Alice, as Dick entered the library. " I 
thought from the way people have been flying 
around to-day that there might be something 
the matter with the bank ; but John seemed to 
feel so cheerful to-night that I guess every- 
thing's all right." 

"Yes," said Dick. "I don't believe you 
need worry." 

As John had prophesied, they were big days 



220 The Banker and the Bear 

that followed days that will be talked about 
down town for another five years. Lard had 
been a mystery ever since early in May ; the 
wise ones had guessed about it, and those who 
wished to appear wise had repeated their 
guesses to others still less expert; but no one 
had really known anything. But by Monday 
morning everybody, even to the remotest office 
boy, understood that this operation was practi- 
cally a duel between Pickering, the Bull, and 
Sponley, the Bear. The two men were about 
equally known ; they were supposed to be nearly 
equal in resources and also in skill, and so it 
befell that all about the city, and in other cities, 
men fingered the ribbons of paper that rattled 
painfully out of the tickers, and wondered what 
would happen. 

John Bagsbury spent the greater part of 
Monday in his office. On Sunday afternoon 
he had been to see Dawson, the former presi- 
dent of the Atlantic National. John trusted 
him thoroughly, so he had laid before him the 
whole situation ; had told him that he thought 
a large block of the Bagsbury stock would be 
offered for sale next day, and that he wished to 
be in a position to buy it ; and Dawson promptly 



Good Intentions 221 

told him that he might have all the money he 
needed to make the purchase. So John's first 
move on Monday morning was to send a stock- 
broker around to Cartwright and Meredith to 
buy their stock before it should be offered in 
open market. 

" Buy it as cheap as you can," he said. Then, 
mentioning a figure, " I think you can get it for 
that." 

Half an hour later the broker telephoned that 
Cartwright was claiming that they had a much 
better offer, and asked John if he cared to go 
any higher. John did not for a moment believe 
that any one was bidding against him for the 
stock. He reflected that probably the old trus- 
tees were not so badly frightened as he had 
thought, and were holding out for a good price. 
He told the broker how much higher he might 
go, but cautioned him to do all he could to get 
the stock for less. 

Curtin came into the private office a little 
later and stayed about half an hour, telling 
some rather damaging things about Sponley, 
and making explanations which John half lis- 
tened to and but half believed that was about 
the proportion which Sponley had expected him 



222 

to believe and which he finally cut short. 
The episode irritated him more than did the 
visits from directors and stockholders, who kept 
steadily dropping in all day to offer him advice 
or remonstrance. 

He had expected that, however; more of it, 
in fact, than he was forced to take, and he ex- 
plained and answered questions with a patience 
that did him credit. To everybody he said that 
the bank was in excellent shape, that all the 
loans were amply secured, and that the success 
or failure of the Pickering deal would not make 
the slightest difference in the dividends. Upon 
the whole, his visitors accepted the situation 
with fairly good grace. There was this about 
John Bagsbury : when he told you anything, you 
knew he was telling you the truth. 

Early in the afternoon the broker telephoned 
to him again. " I can't get that stock, Mr. 
Bagsbury, even at your highest figure. There's 
some one else after it. Do you want to offer 
any more ? " 

John told the broker to let it go and quit, and 
in his leisure moments during the rest of the 
afternoon he wondered a good deal over what 
this sharp competition could mean. He could 



Good Intentions 223 

in no way attribute it to Sponley ; but he was 
equally at a loss to find any other explanation. 

When the Bagsburys' door-bell rang early 
that evening, John and Alice were surprised to 
see Dick move to answer it herself. They saw 
her walk through the library, and then heard 
her run the length of the hall. 

"They've made up," said Alice. 

" Who ? " 

" Why Dick and Mr. Dorlin, of course." 

" I didn't know they'd quarrelled," said John. 
" Dick has seemed pretty cheerful, and she 
hasn't said anything " 

" Said anything ! She didn't need to say 
anything. They quarrelled Wednesday even- 
ing, and he didn't come around all the rest of 
the week. And yesterday they were still at it. 
I could tell, because they were both so glad to 
see us when we came in." 

" They've certainly made up all right now " 

He stopped as the two young people entered 
the library. The instant of silence told them 
that they had been the subjects of the conver- 
sation they had interrupted, and Dick blushed, 
first in embarrassment and then in vexation 
over having blushed. Jack returned the Bags- 



224 The Banker and the Bear 

burys' greeting nervously. He was asking him- 
self why he would be such an ass as to try to 
do things theatrically. He ought to have told 
John down at the office, or written him a note. 
Well, there was nothing to do now but see the 
thing through. 

Then suddenly he read in Alice's expectant 
look and in John's quizzical smile, and last of 
all in Dick's flushed face, the interpretation 
that the Banker and his wife were putting upon 
this little scene. That fairly scattered him. 

"I came around to tell you " he began 
wildly " to say that we that is, Dick and 
I have " 

"We bought the stock in the bank to-day 
what Mr. Cartwright and Mr. Meredith bought 
of Mr. Sponley." 

Dick spoke quickly, but not an instant too 
soon; another second and John would have 
been giving them his blessing. 

At her words, however, he dropped back into 
his chair and looked blankly from her to Jack 
and back to her again. 

" You did ! " he exclaimed ; then after a 
moment, "you did!" and then in spite of his 
best attempt to keep a straight face he began 



Good Intentions 225 

to laugh. " I beg your pardon," he said, when 
he had his voice under control again. " I was 
surprised. Tell me about it, please. How 
did you happen to do it ? " 

Without the smallest misgiving for he at- 
tributed John's laughter to the ridiculous mis- 
take he had so nearly made Jack told his 
tale. He said nothing about the motive which 
had led him and Dick to buy the stock, but he 
dwelt with a good deal of humor on the per- 
plexities into which his ignorance of business 
had led him in the course of the negotiations. 
He could afford to laugh at them because he 
and Dick had succeeded, in spite of all, in 
effecting a sale of a large part of their own 
securities and, in the teeth of opposition, in 
buying the Cartwright-Meredith stock. They 
had spent the day profitably and had thoroughly 
enjoyed it. The encounter with the broker was 
what pleased Jack particularly. 

" I all but had it fixed," he said, " when this 
other fellow came around and began to bid up 
the price. But after that they gave me rather 
an exciting time. I'd make them an offer, and 
then they'd have a consultation with the mys- 
terious stranger, and I'd have to raise it We 



226 The Banker and the Bear 

kept it going until the middle of the afternoon, 
and then he quit. I'd have been there yet if 
he hadn't. The business roused my sporting 
blood somehow ; I haven't enjoyed anything so 
much in a long while." 

Dick had helped tell the first part of the tale, 
eagerly snatching the thread away from Jack, 
and then handing it back to him with, "Oh, I 
don't understand it, you tell him." But toward 
the end she became silent, watching with puz- 
zled curiosity the quick changes of expression 
in John Bagsbury's face. When Jack finished, 
she asked, 

" Have we done something awfully, absurdly 
stupid ? " 

" You have done one of the most thoughtful, 
generous things I ever heard of," said John, 
" and it was a good move, too. Only we've all 
made a mistake in not telling each other just 
what we meant to do. You see, I was the man 
who sent around that broker." 

" Good Lord ! " said Jack. 

Dick began to laugh, and John Bagsbury's 
smile gradually expanded into an indubitable 
grin ; but Jack's face remained as solemn as an 
old raven's. 



Good Intentions 227 

" Laugh ! " Dick commanded. " The mistake 
doesn't matter. The stock is all in the fam " 

She colored, and, correcting herself, proceeded 
to punish Jack for her slip. 

"The stock I bought is all in the family. 
Jack, of course, will vote his as he pleases." 

" I've put in quite a day of it myself," said 
John, quickly, in the interest of peace. " I 
would have been as busy as I care to be 
without any visitors, and there was a regular 
procession of them. And Curtin came in 
for a long talk, too. He had a story to tell, 
mostly about Sponley. Said he had known 
Sponley a long time, and that he had got him 
his job in the bank. Then, according to him, 
Sponley tried to make him pay for his place by 
giving away information about the bank. He 
bought Curtin's stock, it seems, and then threat- 
ened to get him put out of the bank unless he 
did as he was told. Curtin says he told him 
of the loan to Pickering, thinking it was all 
right to do it ; but he denies having known any- 
thing about the collateral. I suppose Sponley 
guessed at that." 

Dick gave her fellow-amateur detective a 
look which said, " We're saved from doing any- 



228 The Banker and the Bear 

thing foolish about that," but Jack was still 
thinking about the outrageous injustice of her 
last remark, and he affected not to see. 

" Do you think he was telling the truth ? " 
she asked of John. " What are you going to 
do with him ? " 

" Oh, it was probably somewhere near 
true. I shall let him stay till the year's out. 
I have all I want on my hands just now, with- 
out trying to get rid of my officers. If he had a 
little more spunk, he might make a pretty good 
rascal; but as he is, he can't do much harm." 

" Do you know," the Banker went on after a 
long pause, " you did a good thing for the bank 
by bidding up that stock and paying a big price 
for it? It got Cartwright and Meredith over 
their fright a lot better than if you'd bought 
it cheap. If they had got badly scared and 
talked around, there's no telling where they'd 
have landed us. But I guess there's no danger 
of that now." 

" No," said Jack. " They were as pleased as 
possible, when the thing was finally fixed up. 
They seemed to be mighty glad to be well out 
of it." 

"I wonder " began John. He rested his 



Good Intentions 229 

chin on his hands and stared intently at noth- 
ing for a minute, then he looked at his watch. 

" I'm going to see them," .he said, rising. 

" Now ? " asked Dick. 

" Yes, I'm going to suggest that they turn 
the whole estate over to me." 

Not a word was spoken in the library until 
they heard the door close behind John Bags- 
bury. 

"I suppose I'd better go," said Jack, without 
stirring in his big chair. 

" Perhaps so," said Dick ; " we've knocked 
about together all day " 

That brought him to his feet like a flash. 
" You're right," he said. " Good night." 

He shook hands with admirable nonchalance, 
and marched he could not help marching 
into the hall. 

" Stupid ! " said Dick, just after he closed 
the door. A little later she said "Stupid" 
again, but with an entirely different inflection, 
and with something a little like a laugh on the 
end of it. 

But by that time poor Jack was halfway 
down the block, walking at the rate of at least 
five miles an hour. 



CHAPTER XV 

THE STARTING OF AN AVALANCHE 

HOWEVER important a campaign may be, how- 
ever long it may have been in the making, the 
hours which prove really to be decisive are likely 
to be few. The dramatic situation in the lard 
market was the outcome of months of thorough 
planning, of ingenious preparation, of well-con- 
cealed manipulation ; but once the actual fight- 
ing began, and the whole commercial world 
gathered around to see, it lasted but three days 
and a little way into the fourth, that is, from 
Monday morning to an hour before noon on 
Thursday. 

Measured by the volume of trading done, 
Monday was the heaviest day of the four. 
Sponley's operators on the floor, Stewart and 
Ray, began selling when the big bell gave the 
signal at half-past nine, and until it rang again, 
at half-past one, there was no cessation. The 
Bear was explicit in his instructions, and acting 
230 



The Starting of an Avalanche 231 

on these, Stewart and Ray took a furious pace. 
They sold actual lard, wholly imaginary lard, 
grotesque prophecies of lard, which by no pos- 
sibility could be realized ; and little Mr. Keyes, 
of Keyes and Seivert, and tall Mr. Jones, of 
Ball, Snyder, and Jones, bought it all, while the 
Old Man, as they called Pickering, strolled about 
their offices with an utterly irresponsible air, and 
smoked Wheeling stogies. 

It was a great round they fought that day ; but 
it is not so well remembered as those that suc- 
ceeded it, because at half-past one the relative 
position of the combatants was just what it had 
been four hours earlier. With all the tremen- 
dous pounding given and taken that morning, 
nothing happened. Neither had faltered for an 
instant, and there was not the slightest founda- 
tion for a guess as to where the advantage lay. 
But to one who could know what was in the 
minds of the two men, it would be evident that 
Pickering had rather the better of the situation, 
for at closing time he was just where he ex- 
pected to be he was not disappointed. But 
Melville Sponley had not counted on an incon- 
clusive day. The reinforcements he had looked 
for so confidently had failed to come up. 



232 The Banker and the Bear 

Sponley spent the morning in his office, but 
he had lieutenants wherever they could possibly 
be of service, and he knew that the first unfavor- 
able rumor that should be set afloat regarding 
Bagsbury's bank would reach him instantly. 
But all the reports he received were negative. 
The clerk he had posted at the stock exchange 
called him up two or three times, but only to say 
that no Bagsbury stock had been offered for 
sale, and from Curtin at the bank there came 
not a word. When he had given Curtin his in- 
structions the day before, he had been aware 
that it was hardly likely that the rumor of the 
bank's difficulties would spread fast enough to 
develop a run on the bank before closing time 
on Monday ; but he had counted confidently on 
its reaching the provision pit in time to have a 
decisive effect. The run, he calculated, would 
begin on Tuesday morning. But all Monday 
afternoon he heard never a whisper, and by 
evening he began to wonder if he had not made 
a serious mistake. 

Immediately after dinner he decided to learn 
what he could from Mr. Cartwright ; but he hes- 
itated whether he should call on him or tele- 
phone him. Mr. Cartwright, he knew, was as 



The Starting of an Avalanche 233 

yet unreconciled to the telephone, and regarded 
a message over it much as many people regard 
a postal card, and yet the other course seemed 
still more inadvisable. If Sponley had called in 
person, he would, you remember, have found 
John Bagsbury there; but as it happened the 
telephone bell in Mr. Cartwright's library rang 
only about six feet from the place where John 
was sitting. Mr. Cartwright answered it im- 
patiently. 

" Oh, good evening, Mr. Sponley," John 
heard him say. "Yes, we sold all our stock 
this afternoon Yes, a very fair price 
He was a young man whose name escapes 
me at this moment Yes, thank you very 
much Good evening." 

And John, with some difficulty, kept a per- 
fectly straight face. At the other end of the 
'phone Sponley turned away with an exclama- 
tion of disgust. 

" What is it ?" Harriet asked. 

" I'd rather deal with three rascals than with 
one fool," he said shortly, " and that Cartwright's 
an infernal fool." 

The first notable event at the bank Tuesday 
morning was the early arrival of Pickering. He 



234 The Banker and the Bear 

walked without ceremony into John's office, 
seated himself near an open window, and at once 
proceeded to light a fresh black stogy from the 
stump of the one he had been smoking. 

" I have to smoke these as soon as things be- 
gin to get interesting," he explained. " I find 
cigars too tame. I hope the smell doesn't 
bother you." 

" Not a bit," said John. " It would take more 
than that. I don't bother easily." 

"I don't believe you do," Pickering's voice 
came from a cloud of pungent smoke. " You 
don't look worried to-day; but unless I've missed 
my guess, you've had to take a lot in these last 
days that would have worried most men." 

" Is that a guess ? " John asked quickly. 

" Nothing else," said Pickering. " I haven't 
heard any talk. Only I know that the story in 
the Sunday paper of your having made me that 
loan must have thrown some of your directors 
into fits, and I thought they might have tried to 
pass 'em on to you." 

John could not help smiling over his recollec- 
tion of the spectacle Cartwright and Meredith 
had presented Sunday morning, but he said : 

" They've taken it very well, upon the whole. 



The Starting of an Avalanche 235 

Whatever they may think of the wisdom of 
making the loan, they seem perfectly willing to 
let me run the thing through, now that I'm in it." 

"That's not to be wondered at," said Picker- 
ing. " You have a way about you that would 
convince most men that you can mind your own 
business better than they can mind it for you. 

" I came around this morning," he went on, 
without waiting for the Banker's meagre word 
of thanks, " because I need some more money." 

"How much?" 

" Three hundred thousand." 

No man can spend his life working toward 
and in the high offices of a bank, as John had 
done, without losing a good deal of his original 
righting instinct, or if he can, he is a danger- 
ous banker ; the lifelong responsibility for other 
people's money makes caution a sort of second 
nature. But not even a banker, until he is 
totally unfit for the business, loses all his red 
corpuscles. John Bagsbury had been betrayed, 
had been challenged to fight, had been threatened 
with certain defeat if he would dare to fight ; 
and being a man, and a profoundly angry man, 
he was eager for Sponley's complete overthrow. 
He would have liked to say to Pickering, 



236 The Banker and the Bear 

"Go ahead and smash him, and I'll see you 
through." 

But if Pickering had guessed the existence of 
this feeling, and had counted it a circumstance 
in his favor, he had a mistaken notion of his 



man. John Bagsbury might feel the impulse, 
but the Banker would make or deny the loan. 

" I want to know just what property you've 
got," said John. 

Pickering took a slip of paper from his 
pocket. "I thought you would," he said. 
" Here's a schedule of it." 

John laid the paper on his desk, and for some 
time pored over it in silence. " I don't want 
any more lard," he said at length ; " I've got 
enough now to last quite a while. And I don't 
want to go into the soap business, either; yet 
I don't see that I have much choice if I make 
the loan. All your convertible securities are 
pledged already." 

Still he studied the schedule earnestly, and 
Pickering was silent. At last the Banker 
said, 

" If you will give me a judgment note for it, 
I'll let you have the money." 

Pickering reddened. " I'm not bankrupt," 



The Starting of an Avalanche 237 

he said, "nor going to be. I'd rather give a 
man a check signed in blank than a judgment 
note. It's as bad as a death-warrant, with every- 
thing filled in but the date." 

"Of course," said John, "it puts you entirely 
in my hands. If you're afraid of me, you'd 
better not take the loan. That's the only 
security I'll take." 

Pickering relighted his stogy and gazed 
meditatively out of the window. " All right," 
he said at length, with a dry laugh, "give me 
the blank and I'll sign it. I guess I'm about as 
safe in your hands as I am in my own." 

While he was making out the note there 
came a knock at the door. " Mr. Dawson is 
here to see you, Mr. Bagsbury," said the 
cashier. 

" Come in, Mr. Dawson," said John, rising. 
"You know Mr. Pickering?" 

Under his heavy white brows Dawson's eyes 
twinkled. " You are giving us plenty to think 
about these days, Mr. Pickering." 

He seated himself heavily, mopped his red 
face with a redder handkerchief, and ran his 
hand through his thick white hair. Dawson 
had accumulated plenty of treasure on earth; 



238 The Banker and the Bear 

but I think that all unconsciously he had been 
laying up a greater treasure in heaven, if a life 
of courage and honesty and the wisest optimism 
counts for anything, and the long file of men 
his kindly help saved from financial ruin and 
worse are to be permitted to testify. There 
was no sentimentality about him : he was hard- 
handed as an old sailor; but many a practical 
man of business to-day can hardly speak of him 
dry-eyed. 

" You are making a great fight," he went on, 
still addressing Pickering, "and I half believe 
you stand a chance to win." 

The other men laughed. " I'm more hope- 
ful," said Pickering. " I fully expect to win. 
The Bear took his pounding badly yesterday, 
and to-day I'm making him sweat to protect his 
margins." 

" I'm not trying to discourage you," Dawson 
answered; "but until Sponley is actually busted, 
and his accounts are closed out, the chances 
are always in his favor. He makes an effort 
to play square; but he plays to win, and I 
don't believe he ever went into a game of 
this kind without an extra ace about him 
somewhere." 



The Starting of an Avalanche 239 

" He'd better get it out of his sleeve pretty 
quick, then," said the soap-maker. 

" He will," retorted Dawson. " He'll bear 
watching by both of you. 

"You've been making Mr. Pickering another 
loan, I take it," he went on, addressing John 
Bagsbury. 

Both men nodded. 

" In a way, you're playing right into his hand. 
He's making a deliberate attack on the bank. 
He'll stop at nothing, and the knowledge of this 
second loan makes his case stronger. The 
moral effect on the depositors will be bad. You 
can bet they'll know about it before night." 

Pickering rose, "Are you still willing to let 
me have it, Mr. Bagsbury ? " 

" Yes," said John, curtly. " I told you you 
could have it. The loan's good and the 
security's good. I'll chance it on the effect." 

" I guess I'd have done the same thing my- 
self," said Dawson, after the speculator had left 
the office ; " still I can't be sure it isn't a mis- 
take. I must go on just dropped in to see if 
you were in any trouble. Good-by." 

A little later Curtin telephoned over to 
Sponley the news of the second loan to Pick- 



240 The Banker and the Bear 

ering and of Dawson's visit to the bank. There 
had been, he added, no unusual drain on the 
bank, nothing in the least resembling the begin- 
ning of a run. 

As he left the telephone box, he saw that 
John Bagsbury's eye was on him ; he avoided it, 
then with a poor affectation of coolness sought 
it again and, being unsuccessful, walked hastily 
to his desk. He knew John thought him a cur ; 
but he wondered whether the president sus 
pected anything else. 

The blow was a heavy one to Sponley, heavier 
than all the hammering Pickering was giving 
him, and he took it hard. The reenforcement 
of his enemy was bad enough, but it was not the 
worst. He could measure it. Dawson's visit 
was a mystery. How much or how little it 
might mean he could not even guess, but the 
thought that this tremendous old fighter might 
take a hand troubled him seriously. And his 
ingenious plotting to start a run on the bank 
had evidently failed. Somewhere or other, he 
had made a bad miscalculation. 

For the last hour or two of the trading that 
day Sponley's plight was desperate. Pickering 
was indeed making him sweat; but the Bear's 



The Starting of an Avalanche 241 

nerve was not shaken, and he fought furiously. 
Twice he was within two minutes of being sold 
out ; but both times he was able, though barely, 
to put up his margins. When the closing bell 
rang, and he was safe for another twenty hours, 
he went to the nearest cafe and drank enough 
whiskey to make his attendant stare at him ; and 
then with steady hands and lips, and the old 
purposeful look in his eye, he went out and 
drove straight home. 

" Shall you want the carriage again this after- 
noon, sir ? " asked the coachman, when they 
reached the house. 

" I think in about an hour." 

Still the man hesitated, holding the impatient 
horses which had started to move off toward the 
stable. He had worked for Sponley for fifteen 
years, and he felt a profound admiration for 
him. He knew that something troubled his 
employer, and he was halting on the brink of 
taking a liberty. 

" Well," said Sponley, " what is it ? " 

" I beg your pardon, sir ; I hope nothing has 
gone wrong." 

" Nothing," Sponley spoke shortly. It 
annoyed him to think that he was showing 



242 The Banker and the Bear 

the effect of the pounding he had taken that 
day. He turned to go into the house, then 
stopped and called after the man: 

"Wait a minute. Haven't you got what 
money you've saved in Bagsbury's bank ? " 

" Yes, sir." 

" I guess you'll do well to take it out first 
thing to-morrow morning. I don't know that 
they're going to fail, but you'd better be on the 
safe side." 

He dismissed the man with a nod and went 
in to the telephone. He called up the Herald 
building and asked for Mr. Hauxton. " Can 
you come out to my house at once, on a matter 
of some importance ? " he asked. " It's not the 
sort of thing I want to discuss over the 'phone." 

The financial man on the Herald is an im- 
portant person, unused to being telephoned 
for in that summary way; but to this request 
of Sponley's he replied with alacrity. 

The Bear greeted him with impressive 
cordiality. 

" Have you heard anything to-day, Mr. 
Hauxton ? " he asked when they were seated, 
"anything that leads you to think that Bags- 
bury's bank is in trouble ? " 



The Starting of an Avalanche 243 

The financial reporter mopped his bald spot, 
and then taking off his spectacles he wiped 
them nervously. 

" Have you heard anything of that sort, Mr. 
Sponley ? " 

A man may attain to certain great eminences, 
may be a constitutional lawyer, or an arch- 
bishop, and still an easy prey to cozenage and 
false speaking, but he can never be the finan- 
cial man on a great newspaper. Hauxton, 
peering wistfully through his powerful spec- 
tacle lenses, could see through the skin of the 
fair-seeming apple of truth, even to the very 
worm at the core. You would gain nothing 
by telling an ordinary cock-and-bull story to 
him ; it would never go beyond his ears. 

Yet, knowing all this, Sponley settled con- 
fidently to his task. He did not try to con- 
vince the reporter that the bank was really in 
a dangerous condition; he did not want him 
to believe that. And there was no question 
of Hauxton's actually printing anything in the 
paper. Hauxton held his highly salaried posi- 
tion because he held the confidence of the big 
financial men about the city, and he held their 
confidence because they knew he could hold 



244 The Banker and the Bear 

his tongue. Discretion was his stock in trade. 
But if Sponley could excite his curiosity suffi- 
ciently to set him to making inquiries here 
and there as to the truth or the bare existence 
of a rumor that the bank was in trouble, that 
was enough for the Bear. The rumor would 
exist by the time Hauxton had asked three 
men if there were a rumor; and inside of 
twenty-four hours it would prove itself true. 

Sponley made very light of what little in- 
formation he had, professed to discredit it 
utterly, and said finally that he should have 
paid no attention to it, or should have referred 
it straight to headquarters, except that his 
present operations in lard put him in an atti- 
tude of apparent hostility to the bank, and that 
he didn't care to go there on such an errand. 
He could see that he was impressing Hauxton ; 
by the time he finished, the tip of the reporter's 
long pointed nose seemed fairly to twitch and 
to twinkle with excited curiosity. 

"You'd better be very careful whom you 
ask about it," said the Bear. " It's easy enough 
to start people talking just that way. I'd go 
right to one of the officers of the bank first, 
if I were you." 



The Starting of an Avalanche 245 

Hauxton laughed. " I don't exactly relish 
the idea of asking Bagsbury if it's true that 
his bank is likely to have to suspend. They 
say, you know, that he's never lost his temper 
but twice, and that he didn't quite kill his man 
either time. Once was when Drake went to 
him to get a loan for that skate Suburban 
Rapid Transit. He offered Bagsbury a com- 
mission, and at that Bagsbury got up, took him 
by the arm, marched him to the head of the 
stairs, and said he didn't know whether to kick 
him down or not. Drake thought he meant 
to, though, and jumped halfway and rolled 
the rest. He was black and blue for two weeks. 
And the other time was when Smith tried to 
blackmail him. Bagsbury bent him backward 
over a table and nearly brained him. He got 
off alive, too ; but I might not be so lucky." 

Sponley knew that Hauxton was speaking 
in jest, but he answered seriously : 

" Oh, Bagsbury can't afford to lose his tem- 
per these days, and he'd treat you all right, 
anyway ; but I think you'd get more out of one 
of the other officers. I think Curtin's your 
man. He may refuse to talk, or he may lie to 
you, but he's no good at concealing the facts." 



246 The Banker and the Bear 

As soon as Hauxton took his leave, Sponley 
called up Curtin on the telephone. Just as 
Curtin answered the call, Harriet, who had 
heard Hauxton go out, entered the room, and 
Sponley was forced to give his instructions to 
the assistant cashier in her hearing. 

" I just sent Hauxton of the Herald over to 
see you. He'll ask you if it's true that the 
bank's in trouble. You'll deny it, of course. 
Deny it vigorously as you can. Do you under- 
stand?" 

Then after a word of greeting to Harriet, he 
telephoned to Mr. Meredith. 

" I was afraid you might be alarmed over 
the rumors that have been going about this 
afternoon concerning Bagsbury's bank. I don't 
think there's anything to be afraid of. They 
may have some temporary difficulty, but they're 
sure to come out all right. If any one speaks 
to you about it, you'll be quite safe in denying 
that there's any serious difficulty, and you'll 
be doing Bagsbury a good turn. When people 
get to talking, it sometimes plays the very 
devil with a bank Not at all. Good-by." 

You can see that Dawson was right about 
the extra ace. 



CHAPTER XVI 

HARRIET 

SPONLEY talked to Mr. Meredith somewhat 
longer than was strictly necessary; and when 
there was nothing more to say, he still delayed 
a little in hanging up the receiver. He could 
not decide just what he had best say to Harriet 
when he turned away from the telephone. To 
some ears his messages would have sounded 
innocent enough, but Harriet was different; 
still he could not be sure that she had listened 
at all. 

As he rang the bell for disconnection, he 
fancied he heard a movement in the room, and 
when he turned to speak to her, Harriet was 
gone. He called her name, but there was no 
answer, and while he listened for it, he thought 
he heard her step on the stairs. Considerably 
surprised, though somewhat relieved at having 
his awkward explanation deferred for a moment, 
he went out into the hall and again called to 
247 



248 The Banker and the Bear 

her, but still there was nothing to show him 
that she had heard, though there had been 
hardly time for her to get quite out of ear-shot. 
He walked part way up the stairs, hesitated, 
and finally turned back ; then, after ringing for 
his carriage, he went out. 

He had enough on his mind during the 
next few hours without thinking of Harriet or 
trying to explain her apparently unaccountable 
behavior. 

Harriet would not have listened to the mes- 
sages he had sent over the telephone if the first 
word he said as she entered the room had not 
been the name of Curtin. Harriet hated Curtin 
exactly as she hated a rat, and equally strongly 
she loathed the thought of Melville Sponley's 
association with him. In all the months since 
it had begun she had never been able to con- 
quer that feeling or even to conceal it from her 
husband. So she listened to the enigmatical 
instructions, and was so fully occupied in won- 
dering what they might mean that she did not 
catch the import of Sponley's message to Mr. 
Meredith until just as he was at the end of it. 
Then it suddenly came over her that her hus- 
band, who always knew so well the effect his 



Harriet 249 

words would have, must be aware that what he 
was saying to poor, timorous Mr. Meredith was 
anything but reassuring. The full meaning of 
the move was not then apparent to her; but 
with the first dim perception of it came the 
feeling that she must be alone, and without 
trying to resist it or to account for it, she had 
literally fled upstairs. Before she reached her 
room she regretted having yielded to the impulse, 
and after standing a moment irresolute, she 
turned to go back. When he called to her the 
second time, she tried to answer, but could not 
command her voice, so taking from a drawer a 
fresh handkerchief which should serve as the 
excuse for her flight, she walked back to the 
head of the stairs; just as she reached it, she 
heard her husband go out. With a feeling 
of relief at being left alone, she threw her- 
self upon her bed, and for a long time she lay 
there, staring at the ceiling and trying not to 
think. 

As Dawson had suggested, Melville Sponley 
had a strong preference for truth and fair deal- 
ing whenever they were practicable ; but it will 
not be imagined that in the course of a quarter 
century of commercial privateering he had not 



250 The Banker and the Bear 

many times committed acts as irregular and as 
immoral I am not speaking of commercial 
morality as this attempt to wreck Bagsbury's 
bank. He had concealed none of these things 
from her, and she had heard of them and taken 
her part in them with such entire equanimity 
that he had quite naturally been surprised at 
her outburst when she had first learned of his 
putting Curtin in the bank as a spy upon John. 

Harriet looked upon life from a thoroughly 
unmoral point of view. Of abstract right and 
wrong she had little conception. So long as 
Sponley's operations were directed against men 
she did not know, except as her husband's 
opponents, she never applied the criterion of 
fair play. But all that was changed as soon as 
John Bagsbury was concerned in the fighting. 
She regarded him almost as a brother, her loy- 
alty to him was only less than her loyalty to her 
husband, and the mere suspicion of what Sponley 
had been doing that afternoon, of the meaning 
of his talk with Hauxton and of his two tele- 
phone messages, was intolerable. 

About an hour after Sponley went out, the 
butler knocked at her door. " Mr. Curtin is 
here," he said, "to see Mr. Sponley. He says 



Harriet 251 

it is important and wishes to know when Mr. 
Sponley will be back." 

Harriet said that she knew nothing about it, 
but presently the man returned, saying that Mr. 
Curtin wished to see her. She asked to be 
excused, but Curtin was persistent, and once 
more the butler came back, this time with a 
message. 

" He says, will you please tell Mr. Sponley 
when he comes in that Mr. Curtin has seen Mr. 
Hauxton and is sure he has started him off on 
the right track." 

" I will take no message," said Harriet, impa- 
tiently. "If Mr. Curtin wishes to leave any 
word for Mr. Sponley, he may write a note. 
Don't come back again, whatever Mr. Curtin 
says." 

But though the servant obeyed her, Harriet 
could not banish Curtin from her thoughts. 
She had always hated him, even before he had 
given her cause. His covert admiration was 
almost nauseating, and his miserable makeshift 
excuses for seeking her company "when he knew 
that she could barely tolerate him exasperated 
her. She recalled with disgust the evening 
when he had forced himself into their dining 



252 The Banker and the Bear 

room, and she wondered that his accusation of 
her husband had affected her as it did; she 
wished now that Sponley had sent him to 
prison. 

His message, though she had declined to re- 
ceive it, and though she tried not to think of it, 
went over and over in her thoughts, and in spite 
of herself she wondered what it meant. What 
could "the right track "mean except the sus- 
picion that the bank was in trouble ? Why 
should her husband wish Hauxton to entertain 
that suspicion unless he was deliberately plan- 
ning to ruin John Bagsbury? If he were 

But this guessing, she told herself, was non- 
sense, useless nonsense. When her husband 
came home, she would tell him just what she 
suspected and ask him to show her everything. 
He would surely set her mind at rest. Then 
with a sharp sensation of pain she realized that 
she would not be able to believe his word. 
While he talked to her, while he was with her, 
she would be convinced that his course was 
not dishonorable, and it was that conviction 
rather than the truth that she wanted, but 
with the next morning, when she was alone, 
waiting to learn what was happening, to-day's 



Harriet 253 

fears and to-day's distrust would come back 
again stronger than ever. No, she could not 
look to him for help. She must fight out this 
battle, this last battle alone. 

Going to her desk she pencilled a little 
note : 

" Will you please excuse me if I don't come 
down to dinner? Don't bother about it, it's 
nothing serious. I'm tired that's all and 
I'm trying to get a long rest." 

Then she called her maid. " I'm not going 
down to dinner. I wish you'd give this to Mr. 
Sponley when he comes in." As she gave the 
note to the maid, their fingers touched. " How 
cool your hands are ! " she exclaimed. " Don't go 
just yet. I want them on my forehead. Why 
are your hands so cold, child ? " 

"Your head is very hot," the maid answered. 
" I think that is the reason." 

"They feel cool, anyway," said Harriet. 
" There, that will do. I'm a great deal better 
already." 

" Shall I bring you anything anything to eat 
or a cup of tea ? " 

" I think I should like some coffee," Harriet 
answered, after a moment's reflection. " Oh, 



254 The Banker and the Bear 

and anything to eat that you please; I don't 
want to think about it." 

Harriet regretted her decision the moment 
the maid was fairly out of the room; she 
needed company, not something to eat. At the 
end of ten minutes she was wondering impa- 
tiently why the maid did not come back, and 
her uneasiness grew steadily greater during the 
half hour that elapsed before she heard the 
familiar step outside her door. But the repri- 
mand that was on Harriet's lips was checked 
by the look of misery in her attendant's face. 
Neither spoke, and there was silence until, as 
the girl spilled some of the coffee she was try- 
ing to pour, and then dropped the cup, she 
burst out crying. 

" Oh, don't cry, don't cry ! " said Harriet, 
easily ; " that doesn't matter. But you shouldn't 
have stopped to quarrel with James. That 
always makes you unhappy afterward, you 
know." 

" I didn't, I haven't quarrelled with him 
since yesterday morning." 

Harriet smiled. "You aren't going to tell 
me that James has at last got up heart enough 
to scold you. You ought to be glad if he has. 



Harriet 255 

It's very good for people to be scolded when 
they are young ; but I've never been able to do 
it." 

But the girl refused to be comforted, and 
Harriet saw that here was something more 
serious than the almost daily lovers' quarrels 
which had been affording her so much enter- 
tainment in the past few months. 

"Stop crying," she commanded quietly, "and 
try to tell me just what the trouble is." 

With an effort the girl controlled herself. 
"James is going to lose all his money, the 
money he saved up so we could get married. 
It's in the bank, and he says the bank is going 
to fail." 

" What bank is it in ? " 

"Mr. Bagsbury's." Her voice failed, and 
with a sob she buried her face in her hands. 

" Stop it," Harriet commanded, almost 
roughly. She laid her hand on the girl's arm. 
"You are very foolish to be frightened. The 
bank isn't going to fail. Do you understand ? 
I tell you it isn't going to fail. Who " and 
now it was her voice that halted in the throat 
" who told James that it would ? " 

"The coachman told James, and he said " 



256 The Banker and the Bear 

But Harriet knew who had told the coach- 
man before the bewildered maid had time to 
speak the name. 

For a little, though Harriet's words had quite 
reassured her, the mere impetus of her emotion 
kept the girl whimpering, her face still buried 
in her hands; but when she looked up the 
change that had come over her mistress startled 
her out of the very recollection of it. 

" What is it ? " she cried, " what is the matter ? " 

" Nothing at all. Only go away ; I want to 
be by myself." 

" But you are sick," the maid persisted ; 
" can't I get you something ? Shall I call 
Mr. Sponley?" 

"Certainly not," Harriet spoke slowly and 
evenly; "there is nothing the matter;" but 
her affected composure vanished as the girl 
still hesitated at the door. " Oh, why won't 
you leave me alone ! Go, I tell you ! Go ! " 

The frightened maid ran out of the room, and 
Harriet closed the door behind her. 

So now she knew. Oh, why was it all so 
hopelessly evident! She had been trying to 
comprehend; but now she clasped her hands 
over her dry eyes as if to blot out the clear, 



Harriet 257 

cruel understanding that had come to her of 
her husband's devious strategy. It was bad 
enough that the temptation of a promising 
campaign should have led him to turn upon 
his friend ; but why why should it not have 
been fair open fighting ; why need it come to a 
piece of loathsome treachery like this blow from 
behind ? She must stand by and see it struck ; 
and then for always, she told herself, she must 
despise the author of it 

In that hour Harriet felt the very foundation 
of her world trembling under her. She had 
no children, no friends, no interests but his, 
nothing but her absolute devotion to Melville 
Sponley. And stanch as that was, the stroke 
he was aiming at John Bagsbury would cut to 
the root of it. 

She recalled that evening when first she had 
heard of his understanding with Curtin, and 
when she had asked him if there was anything 
that counted with him beside his one great 
ambition ; whether his friendship for John and 
his affection for her were anything more than 
good investments. She had her answer now. 

Her first comfort came with the thought that 
it had not always been so. There had been a 



258 The Banker and the Bear 

time when he cared, and as she was thinking of 
the time gone by she found his defence. 

It would not have weighed heavily with a 
jury of his peers; to an impartial mind it 
would hardly have been a defence at all, but 
in her eyes it saved him. 

Her very knowledge of the game he had 
played this score of years, the knowledge that 
had enabled her to discover his contemplated 
treachery, was what now furnished his justi- 
fication. Being a mere spectator and under- 
standing his moves had hardened her, she 
knew, and had already made an old woman 
of her. And, she argued, it was small wonder 
that he who had played the game, had fought 
the battles, should have become hard, and that 
the long straining of his eyes toward one object 
should have blinded him to every other con- 
sideration. He was not himself, for in this last 
campaign the fever was in his blood, and his 
going to any length to win was as inevitable as 
his regret afterward would be unavailing. 

Mercifully blind to the pathetic weakness of 
the plea, and unconscious of the confession of 
its weakness that lay in her much protesting, 
she told herself that it was not his fault. 



Harriet 259 

He was making his last fight ; this temptation 
that beguiled him would be the last. If only she 
could save him from its consequences ! 

For a moment she entertained the notion of 
going to him, but she saw that even if she 
could turn him it would be too late. Not even 
his wonderful ingenuity could avert the ruin it 
had been exercised to provoke. But perhaps 
there was yet time to warn John and to save 
the bank. 

Then in a second her resolve was taken. 

She had on a thin house dress, and with the 
idea of putting on something better suited for 
street wear in this summer evening, she tugged 
impatiently at its fastenings, but her shaking 
fingers would not obey her will. She dared not 
call her maid, for after what had happened an 
hour before, the girl would be certain to protest 
against her going out, and might tell her hus- 
band. She must go as she was. With a quick 
motion she partly rearranged her disordered 
hair, and pinning on a hat, any hat, and seizing 
her purse, she sped softly down the stairs, and 
without being observed she reached the street. 
She hesitated for an instant, then set out reso- 
lutely for the nearest elevated station. 



260 The Banker and the Bear 

For months a fear had been following her 
which she had never dared to look at squarely, 
to which she had even been afraid to give a 
name. Sometimes it had been almost upon her, 
and sometimes so far behind that she had 
thought it could never overtake her again. 
When it was at her heels, she stayed within 
doors; for the very thought of a crowd, or 
of revolving wheels, was terrifying. At such 
times she told herself that she dared not look 
over the banister rail in her own upper hall, 
and fancied that her familiar servants eyed her 
curiously and whispered. A physician would 
have given her morbid fancies a name common 
enough in medical practice nowadays, and 
would have told her that she was as safe on a 
high place or in a crowd or beside the railroad 
tracks as anybody else. But to Harriet, her 
disease was simply a nameless, indeterminate 
horror, which brought with it the melancholy 
foreboding that in some season of stress it was 
certain to conquer her. 

In her new excitement this old dread had 
been forgotten, save in her momentary nervous- 
ness when she found herself alone in the street. 
She reached the station without experiencing 



Harriet 261 

even the fear that she would be afraid. But 
the platform was crowded, and she grew a 
shade paler as she was pushed and jostled close 
to the edge, and the reflection of the lights from 
the gleaming steel rails wakened a terror which 
was all the sharper because she knew it was 
perfectly irrational. When she saw the head- 
light of the train growing bigger and brighter 
out of the distance, she tried to step back, and 
failing that, her fear mastered her completely, 
and she clutched for support at the person who 
stood beside her. When the train came jolting 
to a stop, the screaming of the brakes sounded 
to her ears like an articulate human cry, and in 
fancy she saw a woman's body mangled under 
the trucks. She did not know that she had 
stood hesitating, blocking the way for all the 
impatient passengers behind her, until the 
exasperated guard had taken her arm and 
fairly thrust her into the car; but when the 
horrible vision left her eyes, and she again 
became conscious of her present surroundings, 
she knew that she must have done something 
out of the ordinary, for everybody in the car 
who could see was staring at her. 

It was nearly nine o'clock before, Sponley 



262 The Banker and the Bear 

came home after an arduous and only partially 
successful quest. It is one of the perversities 
of finance that when a man has plenty of 
money, people will crowd around him, beseech- 
ing him to use theirs also ; but when he needs it, 
when he really must have it, they look at him 
from the corners of their eyes and sidle away. 
After one or two flat failures, however, the 
Bear had succeeded in misleading some people 
into coming to his help. He had not got as 
much as he wanted ; but enough, with luck and 
with the reinforcement the run at Bagsbury's 
would give him, to last him through another 
day. 

He had already dined, so, after reading Har- 
riet's note, he settled himself in the library to 
the enjoyment of a cigar. It was a point of 
pride with him, that once his day's work was 
done, he could completely banish its cares from 
his thoughts ; and he had a hearty contempt for 
all the amusements in which weaker spirits are 
wont to seek that diversion, which with him 
was simply a matter of will. But to-night, after 
an uneasy ten minutes, he took up " The Count 
of Monte Cristo," and tried to read. 

Half an hour later the library door was flung 



Harriet 263 

open without ceremony, and Harriet's maid 
spoke his name. 

" What is it ? " he asked. 

" Mrs. Sponley " the girl began, but there 
her excitement and fright choked her. 

" What is it ? " he repeated. " Here, stop 
that nonsense and tell me." 

" She's gone," at length she managed to say. 
" She isn't in her room, and she isn't anywhere. 
She's gone." 

What a mask that thick, swarthy face could 
be ! Now it changed not at all, save that the 
eyes grew narrower and he frowned impatiently. 

" What you say would be very interesting if 
I did not know it already. Mrs. Sponley is 
at Mrs. Bagsbury's. She left me a note saying 
that she meant to spend the evening there. 
Don't be so hasty in your conclusions another 
time." 

He nodded in the direction of the door and 
turned back to his book. Before the maid was 
fairly out of the room it occurred to him that the 
explanation he had given her was probably true, 
after all. He went quickly to the telephone. 
Then, suddenly changing his mind, he rang for 
a cab. 



264 The Banker and the Bear 

" Drive to the elevated as fast as you can," 
he ordered shortly. " I'm in a hurry." 

For all his efforts it seemed to the Bear an 
interminable while before he reached John 
Bagsbury's house, and in that time his thoughts 
were grim indeed ; but just as he was about to 
go up the steps he paused suddenly and smiled, 
as though just possessed of an idea that pleased 
him. He glanced at his watch and nodded with 
a satisfied air, then he rang the bell. 

He found Alice in the library, and the per- 
fectly easy way in which she greeted him con- 
vinced him that she knew as little of the lard 
deal and its collateral incidents as though it 
were taking place in some cannibal island. 

" You know Harriet is here, of course," she 
said. " She's all right now, I imagine ; but she 
gave us a most terrible scare a couple of hours 
ago. I didn't see her when she came in ; but 
Dick did, and she saw that something was the 
matter with her, so she took her right up to 
what she calls her den. Dick says she thinks 
that something must have happened something 
to frighten her on her way down here. Anyway, 
before she had been here ten minutes she had sort 
of well, the doctor said it was a hysterical seiz- 



Harriet 265 

ure. It wasn't like any hysterics I'd ever heard 
of, though. But whatever it was she's all over 
it now, and the doctor's given her something to 
put her to sleep. I think she will be all right 
by morning ; but you'll leave her here till then. 
We'll take good care of her. I wanted to tele- 
phone to you, but John and Dick seemed to think 
it wasn't necessary." 

John came into the room in time to hear the 
concluding words of Alice's explanation. 

" I'm glad it's no worse," Sponley said. " I 
was a little afraid she might break down. The 
excitement of the last few days has been hard 
on her." 

Then he turned to John. 

" I came around on a business matter. It'll 
take but a moment," he hesitated, "if Alice 
will excuse us." 

He led the way to a remote corner of the room. 
" I've been hearing rumors all the afternoon about 
your bank; I'm afraid you're likely to have some 
trouble to-morrow. I wanted to warn you." 

" Thank you," John answered drily. " I've 
heard something of it myself. Harriet told 
Dick that you asked her to tell me that I was 
going to have a run on my hands." 



266 The Banker and the Bear 

" I fancy that Miss Haselridge did not under- 
stand precisely, or it may be that in her excite- 
ment Harriet misunderstood me. I told her 
that I meant to let you know." 

"I must be going on," he added, again 
addressing Alice. " I'll call up in the morn- 
ing and find out how Harriet is." 

Then, to John, " Well, good night. I wish 
you luck." 

John smiled, "I wish you the same thing," 
he said. 



CHAPTER XVII 

WEDNESDAY MORNING 

IT was, however, a most unpleasant smile 
that accompanied John's words. It brought 
to Sponley's mind the story Hauxton had 
recalled to him that afternoon, of John Bags- 
bury's moment of indecision whether or not to 
kick Drake downstairs. He was himself no 
weakling, even when measured by a merely 
physical test ; but he had no wish to try con- 
clusions of that sort with the Banker, and he 
took his leave promptly. 

Then Alice went upstairs to assure herself 
that Harriet was being well cared for, and a few 
moments later Dick came down to the library. 

" Mrs. Sponley is sleeping heavily," she said 
in answer to John's inquiry. " There's nothing 
we can do, I suppose, but leave her alone and 
keep everything quiet." 

Then she hesitated, " Wasn't he down 
here ? " she asked. " I thought I heard him." 

" You did. He came to warn me, too." 
267 



268 

" To warn you ! " 

"Don't you see? If there's going to be a 
run to-morrow, there's absolutely nothing I can 
do at ten o'clock in the evening to stop it. He 
knows that ; and he knows I know he knows it. 
He did it for amusement, I suppose, though 
that's not like him. Perhaps it was to give me 
time to get scared over night." 

He paused and meditatively brought his 
clenched fist down on the arm of his chair 
twice, very softly. 

"I'm getting mad," he said, rising. "It's 
time I went to bed." 

Left alone in the library, Dick tried to read; 
but every little while the book would drop idly 
to her knee, and grave-faced, with all the light 
gone out of her eyes, she would fall to wonder- 
ing what would come of it all, and just what 
was the value of the stake that should compen- 
sate for this tragic shipwreck she had seen this 
evening. No one but Dick, not even Jack Dor- 
lin, was ever to know how complete that wreck 
had been ; for she could never tell what had 
happened after she had shut the door of her 
den behind Harriet Sponley. 

When she turned away from it to thinking 



Wednesday Morning 269 

of John Bagsbury, she smiled. Perhaps because 
any sort of gesture was so unusual with him, 
that gentle little movement of his clenched fist 
had caused her a shiver of rather pleasant 
excitement. In its very mildness, its total 
inadequacy, lay its significance. It seemed to 
Dick a sort of ironical prophecy. She did not 
exactly hope to see him in a magnificent rage 
before this struggle was well over ; but she could 
not help imagining with an exultant thrill what 
a hammer that big, lean fist would be if ever it 
should be driven in grim earnest. 

But if she expected him to show any sign of 
excitement when he came down to breakfast 
next morning, she was disappointed. John 
drank his coffee, glanced over the paper, and 
read aloud, with some appearance of satisfac- 
tion, the weather prediction to the effect that 
it would be fair, followed by showers in the 
afternoon ; and then, as always in any tolerable 
weather, he set out to walk down to the bank. 
Ordinarily his pace did not vary one hundred 
yards either way from the easy swing of four 
miles an hour, but to-day something seemed to 
be driving him. Faster and faster he would go, 
glancing enviously at the cars roaring and rock- 



270 The Banker and the Bear 

ing by on their way down town. Then he 
would check himself with the impatient admoni- 
tion that there was no hurry. The miles were 
interminable that morning, and he was tired 
when he reached the end of the last one. 

But they were behind him now, and with a 
long breath of relief he turned the corner that 
commanded a view of the bank, and saw 

Try to imagine just what the bank meant to 
John Bagsbury. He was more of a man than 
his father before him had been, he had more 
humanity in him ; but like the withered old miser 
who had died over his desk, John had put well- 
nigh all he had into this creature whose birth 
had been the signing of a bit of parchment by a 
state official. His fortune was in it, his ambi- 
tion was in it, his credit with the world of trade, 
his commercial honor, if you will allow me, was 
in it. 

His common honesty he had put above it, 
before it. He would have been the last man on 
earth to think of repeating 

" loved I not honor more," 

in that connection, and I fancy I see you smil- 
ing over the notion, yet, allowing for the trans- 



Wednesday Morning 271 

lation into the unromantic, sordid life of the 
" street," that had been precisely the significance 
of his flat refusal to sell out Pickering, and of 
his grimly accepting Sponley's challenge. But 
his was not the sort of mind to find any conso- 
lation in the nobility of a sentiment ; his honor 
was not self-conscious. 

So if you remember how he had passed his 
boyhood in that squat old building half a square 
away, and can guess at what had been his feel- 
ing toward it during the third of his lifetime he 
had spent elsewhere in preparation for his return 
to it, you can understand why the sight he saw 
halted his heart as it halted his feet, and then 
sent it hammering on, almost to bursting. 

It was nothing but a little group of people, 
fifteen men, perhaps, and five or six women, 
standing on the steps, some of them peering 
through the glass doors in the futile attempt to 
see around the shades which hung behind. The 
crowd grew half again as large while John was 
walking the half square from the corner. In 
the glance he cast about as he walked through 
he recognized Sponley's coachman. As he was 
going up the stairs, he heard some one say in an 
undertone, 



272 The Banker and the Bear 

"That's Bagsbury ; I thought you told me he'd 
run off with all the money." 

"That's what a fellow told me," returned an- 
other voice. " Is that Bagsbury, sure enough ? " 

John closed the door behind him quickly, 
walked the length of the short passage, and once 
in a big dingy room looked about with a heavy 
scowl. You could have told from the faces, from 
the very attitudes of the clerks as they were set- 
tling to their day's work, that there was a crowd 
in the street. 

" Mr. Peters," John called. Peters was the 
man who did the work for which Curtin received 
his salary. " Mr. Peters, I think you had better 
bring those people in and pay them their money 
at once. I wish you'd done it before now." 

" They can't be paid yet, Mr. Bagsbury. The 
time-lock on the vaults is set for nine o'clock. 
It's only quarter of." 

John looked at his watch. " I'd no idea it 
was so early," he said. He walked away half 
a dozen paces and then returned. " Don't begin 
then till flat ten o'clock. It seems we're in for 
a crowd, any way, and there's no use telling them 
that we're afraid of one." 

A run on a bank is like a slit in a man's vein ; 



Wednesday Morning 273 

it does no particular harm if it can be stopped 
in time, but the stopping of it is imperative, and 
it will not stop itself. No bank could pay its 
depositors the money they have put in if they 
should all come and ask for it at once. The 
bank which, at a day's notice, could pay half of 
them would be esteemed cautious far too cau- 
tious ; that is why it is necessary to stop a run. 
The very human predilection for being of the 
sheep who get their money, instead of finding 
oneself with the goats who do not, is the reason 
why the run will not stop itself. 

And just as a man may bleed externally where 
it is easy to estimate the extent of the damage, 
or internally, where it is not, so a bank may 
suffer a run in two different ways. There is the 
kind of a run which interests the general public, 
and which is therefore described in the news- 
papers, with great detail and circumstance and 
spirited little pen-and-ink sketches, three to the 
column. It occurs when those who have small 
amounts of money, generally savings, in a bank, 
fear it is going to fail, and come to carry this treas- 
ure home, where they hide it in stockings or old 
teapots or feather beds, until reassured that the 
bank, or some other, is safe after all. That sort 
T 



274 The Banker and the Bear 

of run has all the picturesque accessories, the 
file of frightened men and women, the police to 
keep order; and if it is occurring in a work of 
fiction, it is likely to be concluded by the entrance 
of some philanthropist who flings down upon 
the counter bags of gold, at the reassuring clink 
of which the depositors depart with cheers. 

The other kind of a run, to return to our old 
figure, is likely not to be discovered until the 
patient is dead. It has no external manifesta- 
tions whatever. It occurs when the larger de- 
positors write checks for the amount of their 
accounts and deposit them in other banks. The 
banker can know nothing about it until he learns 
of the staggering adverse balance he must meet 
at the clearing house. The drain may be swift 
and brief, or it may continue slowly for a month ; 
in either case, it is far harder to break, far more 
likely to persist, until it lands the bank in the 
examiner's hands : that is the sort of run whose 
progress you may watch from across the street. 

It was evident to John that his savings depos- 
itors had been thoroughly frightened the wild 
lie he had overheard as he entered the bank was 
probably but one of a score that were in circula- 
tion among them and that they would run him 



Wednesday Morning 275 

in grim earnest. And he rightly suspected that 
Melville Sponley had thoughtfully provided a 
rumor or two which might stampede his com- 
mercial depositors also. 

When Dawson came around at half -past ten, he 
found a file of waiting depositors that extended 
clear to the corner. He walked into John's pri- 
vate office and sat down near the window. 

"This is hell, isn't it?" he remarked cheer- 
fully. 

John nodded, and Dawson looked out at the 
crowd in the street. 

" It doesn't take but a minute to get a pack 
of fools together at any given point," the older 
man went on. 

" All the fools aren't standing in line out there, 
though," said John. 

Dawson turned from the window and looked 
over the Banker from head to foot, but made no 
comment on the remark. 

" I've been talking with them out there," he 
said, "trying to find out what scared them. 
There are the wildest lot of yarns you ever 
heard going up and down that line. I don't sup- 
pose the man who started it told anything very 
big, either. Those things grow like thistles." 



276 The Banker and the Bear 

Still the Banker made no reply, but stared 
moodily at the blotter on his desk. 

" You're not demanding thirty days' notice, are 
you ? " Dawson asked. " You seem to be pay- 
ing everybody who asks for his money." 

" Yes, we might as well suspend entirely as to 
demand notice at a time like this. The moral 
effect would be as bad. They'd just keep com- 
ing to get their money until they fairly ran us 
out of business. We can keep this up until the 
cows come home," and he nodded toward the 
window. 

" This isn't the worst you'll get, though," said 
Dawson. " Of course nobody but a fool'd be 
scared by those stories ; but there is a story that 
I've heard from three or four sources, that your 
loans to Pickering are entirely unsecured, and 
that if he goes down, he's sure to pull you 
with him. You wouldn't think men'd believe 
a damned lie like that ; but they do, and you're 
likely to have an awful balance against you at 
the clearing house." 

" I've been selling exchange as fast as I could 
without breaking the market for it. That'll 
help square me there." John rose and walked 
nervously to the window. "I'd like to take the 



Wednesday Morning 277 

whole bunch of lies those people have heard 
and stuff them down the throat they first came 
out of by God, I should ! " 

" So would I," said Dawson, quietly. " But 
look here, John," it was the first time in years 
that Dawson had called him by his Christian 
name, " you can't afford to get mad yet. Don't 
let your bearings get hot until the run's over. 
Don't think about it." 

" I remember Sponley said once," John's mind 
had run back, and for an instant he thought of 
his old friend rather than his new enemy, " he 
said that to a man who lives as we do, an 
emotion was a more expensive luxury than a 
steam yacht. But by " 

He checked himself abruptly. " Thank you. 
Do you suppose the Atlantic can let me have 
some small currency about closing time ? These 
little accounts are taking all I've got." 

The old man nodded. " You're all right. 
Only keep cool and well oiled. You can't 
waste anything on friction to-day. Good-by." 

Toward noon the crowd grew larger and its 
temper worse, as the more distant part of it 
began to fear it would not reach the window 
by closing time. That sort of gathering, where 



278 The Banker and the Bear 

all have come with the same single purpose, 
acquires a distinct individuality. This giant is 
far lower in intelligence than the average of its 
component parts; more subject to swift, unrea- 
soning enthusiasm or anger, easily led or directed 
by anything that glitters. It is a person, not a 
number of persons. You must reckon with it 
in the singular. In his office John was per- 
fectly conscious of this new sullenness that had 
come over the crowd, and he soon discovered 
the cause of it in a newspaper the small boys 
were hawking about the street. It was a sensa- 
tional " Extra," with the words " Bulls break for 
Cover " in letters three inches high across the 
front page, followed by the information that 
Pickering's gang was badly squeezed by a drop 
of four dollars a tierce in the price of lard, and 
that the cause was the serious run that was in 
progress at Bagsbury's bank. 

At quarter after twelve there came to John's 
ears a sound he had never heard before the 
noise that this dangerous animal, called a crowd, 
makes when it is angry. It began with a mut- 
ter so far down the scale that it seemed to come 
from anywhere, or nowhere, swelled slowly at 
first, and then with a sudden stringendo to a 



Wednesday Morning 279 

yell, and snapped off so short he could feel the 
air quivering in the silence behind it. 

It fairly jerked the Banker out of his chair, 
and drew the half-dozen policemen who were 
standing about the big room, and who knew 
what it meant, to the door on the run. John 
reached the window just in time to see Picker- 
ing walking slowly up the steps. 

When he entered the private office he was 
slightly pale, but laughing, and he moved with 
an air of bravado toward the window. 

" Stand back from there," said John. " You 
shouldn't have come here to-day, Mr. Picker- 
ing." 

" I didn't come on a pleasure trip. I need 
some money." 

The excitement that wild yell had wrought in 
him was oozing out now. His face twitched and 
he glanced uneasily toward the window. " Damn 
them," he said. Then he repeated, "I want 
some money." 

" You can't have it," said the Banker. 

They heard the storm rising again, and both 
men waited for it to break. It wiped the color 
out of Pickering's face, and he was no coward, 
either. 



280 The Banker and the Bear 

" Isn't it a little late to let go ? " he asked. 
" If it's one of us now, it's both." 

" That may be," said the Banker ; " but you 
can't have it. I can't give you my depositors' 
money when they're lined up here to get it. It 
may be that when I find out where I stand with 
the clearing house, I'll be able to help you. But 
I can do nothing now. And it seems to me 
that your staying here any longer," there it 
came again, "isn't going to improve the tem- 
per of that crowd," he went on evenly. " Do 
you want a couple of policemen to go with you ? 
Those fellows may be rough." 

" No, they're harmless. They're chained. 
They wouldn't lose their place in line even for 
me." 

John Bagsbury likes to tell the story of that 
day, and of the next ; but he says nothing of the 
half hour that followed Pickering's visit : he has 
almost forgotten it himself. 

Only by his utmost effort had he controlled 
himself while Pickering was in his office, for the 
cries from the street maddened him. He knew 
that Dawson was right, that to lose control of 
himself was to lose the fight, and he struggled 
desperately to keep himself in hand. But when 



Wednesday Morning 281 

the door was shut, and he was alone, and when, 
a moment later, he heard the derisive cheer 
which greeted the reappearance of Pickering 
on the front steps, his anger mastered him. 
He tried to make himself think. He must 
discover some way of reassuring those people 
in the street, of stopping this run before it 
drained him dry, of meeting the balance 
there would be against him at the clearing 
house ; but his rage befogged his mind, his 
faculties were numb, and all he knew was the 
longing to have Melville Sponley under his 
hands for for just one minute. 

He would not admit it now, if you were to 
ask him ; yet it is true that when he turned his 
back on the old desk and bowed his head, he 
told himself that there was no more use fight- 
ing ; he confessed that he was beaten. 

Then there came a knock at the door and 
some one said, 

" Mr. Cartwright and Mr. Meredith would 
like to see you, Mr. Bagsbury." 

When the two old trustees entered the office, 
they saw the only John Bagsbury that they or 
anybody else had ever seen in his office, the 
courteous, patient, quick-witted, even-minded 



282 The Banker and the Bear 

John Bagsbury whom everybody but these 
same trustees knew to be the best banker in 
the city. 

" This is outrageous," said Mr. Cartwright, 
and his voice shook. Poor Mr. Meredith's 
would not come at all, though his lips moved in 
tremulous imitation of his principal's. 

" Mr. Dawson said something to the same ef- 
fect when he was here a couple of hours ago," 
said John. " I agree with both of you." 

" I suppose you wish to see me on a matter 
of personal business, gentlemen," he added, and 
closed the door. 

Half an hour later he opened it and spoke 
to the telephone boy. He did not speak very 
loudly, but his voice carried to the farthest cor- 
ner of the big noisy room. 

"Will you call up Mr. Moffat, I wish to speak 
with him." 



CHAPTER XVIII 

HOW THEY BROKE THE RUN 

THERE was nothing really surprising about 
it, though John had not expected that the two 
dissenting trustees would reach that turning in 
the lane so soon. On Sunday morning, when 
he had said to Mr. Cartwright that of course he 
and Mr. Meredith would not be able to escape 
all the scandal that would certainly attend the 
failure of the bank, it was no new fear that he 
put in the old man's mind. Mr. Cartwright 
and his echo had discussed that possibility in 
awed whispers a dozen times since John had 
been made president. When he went to Cart- 
wright's house Monday evening, John referred 
frankly, though with a good deal of tact, to that 
very point ; but he said nothing of the obvious 
way they had out of their difficulty. He left 
them to think of that for themselves. It was 
inevitable that they should think of it, and that 
they should decide that such a course, should 
283 



284 The Banker and the Bear 

it become necessary, would involve no betrayal 
of old John Bagsbury's trust. Thanks to the 
other stockholders in the bank, and to the 
unspeakable Moffat, they had no real control 
of the larger part of the estate; and if their 
nominal authority were going to bring disgrace 
upon their eminently respectable old heads, why 
should they not discard it ? 

When they heard that there was a run in prog- 
ress at the bank, they set out thither merely 
because they were frightened. They had no 
idea of doing anything so radical as turning the 
estate over, then and there, into the mad hands 
of John Bagsbury. With all their perturbation, 
they would probably not have been able to 
make up their minds to such an act until the 
danger was over, had it not been for the crowd 
in the street. That crowd had frightened Picker- 
ing, had benumbed John, and it is not wonder- 
ful that at sight of it Mr. Cartwright and Mr. 
Meredith should feel the panic strike in to their 
very marrow. They were very old, they wanted 
no occupation more exciting than playing golf 
and telling old stories and sipping irreproach- 
able sherry. But here was a mob, and here 
were policemen, here was riot and disaster, 



How they Broke the Run 285 

and, worse yet, a certain scandal. They fairly 
gasped with relief when they were safe in the 
little room, and the door was shut. Even John 
Bagsbury's office seemed a haven after that 
tumultuous street. 

So it was natural enough that when John 
Bagsbury said, divining the rapidly forming pur- 
pose which underlay their querulous complaints 
and remonstrances, "Well, gentlemen, shall I 
telephone for Mr. Moffat?" that they should 
have assented, though their red faces grew redder 
as they did it, and that after the third trustee 
arrived, badly out of breath with hurry and with 
chuckling over the situation, the first steps to 
make John master of his own property should 
have been taken as promptly as possible. 

It remained for Jack Dorlin, when months 
afterward he turned a reminiscent and contem- 
plative eye upon the episode, to discover the 
curious perversity of it all. John's first oppor- 
tunity to get control of the bank had arisen in 
the excessive precaution his father had taken to 
prevent it, and now the same timorous conserva- 
tism of his trustees, on which the old man had 
counted so much, was turned to panic, and the 
move deliberately calculated by Sponley to ruin 



286 The Banker and the Bear 

John served only to make the temporary control 
permanent 

John heard from the clearing house and from 
Pickering almost simultaneously. The news 
from the former was no worse than the Banker 
had expected, and from the latter much better; 
for the closing bell had rung, and Pickering was 
safe till to-morrow morning. But the tide of 
battle was turned already. With the arrival of 
Cartwright and Meredith at the bank, and John's 
quick guess at their errand, his confidence had 
come back. The morning with its confession of 
defeat was forgotten. He was no longer angry ; 
his mind was occupied by a confident determi- 
nation to win. 

He left the telephone after receiving Picker- 
ing's message and approached a little group of 
his officers, who were discussing the situation, 
and who apparently entertained serious mis- 
giving as to what the outcome would be. 

" I don't think you need to feel alarmed about 
it," he said. "We're coming out all right. 
We'll have that run broken now in short notice." 

"We don't seem to be making much head- 
way," said Jackson. "That line's longer than 
ever and more scared. The people down there 



How they Broke the Run 287 

by the corner think they aren't going to get this 
money." 

" Thank God it's getting somewhere near three 
o'clock," said Peters. 

" We ought to be able to last out to-day, it 
seems to me," hazarded Curtin. 

"Yes, it's to-morrow that scares me," Peters 
answered. 

"We shan't close at three," said John Bags- 
bury. " We're going to keep open till every 
depositor who's waiting out there in line gets 
his money. We'll keep it up as long as they do, 
if that's till midnight." 

" I don't see how we can do that, Mr. Bags- 
bury," Jackson remonstrated. " I should think 
we ought to stop for breath when we have the 
chance." 

" I don't want another day like this. We'll 
be able to pay every man who wants his money 
before we close to-night, and we're going to do 
it. I think you'd better put out a notice to that 
effect, Mr. Peters. I'm going out to lunch. I'll 
be at that little place on the corner, so that if 
you want me, you can get at me. Please put 
that notice in a conspicuous place, Mr. Peters." 

John was hardly out of the bank before Curtin 



288 The Banker and the Bear 

had called up Sponley and begun an account of 
the way matters had been going since noon ; but 
the Bear cut short his narrative. 

" Don't say anything more over the 'phone ; 
it isn't safe. Anyway, I want to talk with you. 
You say Bagsbury's gone out to lunch ? Do 
you know where ? Well, you come right off, 
as quick as you can, to the Eagle Cafe, in the 
Arcadia building. Yes, I'll be there in one of 
the private rooms." 

Sponley heard or guessed enough from what 
Curtin told him to make him think that the bank 
was in no such desperate condition as he had 
hoped. He had been winning all day ; he was 
almost sure that he would be able to finish Pick- 
ering within the first hour next morning, but he 
was unwilling to take any chances. If John 
should so thoroughly break up the run this after- 
noon that it would not be resumed to-morrow 
morning, the Bull might recover his lost ground 
and compel him to do the work all over again. 
It would be risky, riskier than it had been before, 
to get people to talking once more and create 
another run on the bank. And so he decided 
to play his last card. 

It was an old notion of his which Curtin had 



How they Broke the Run 289 

recalled to his mind just a week ago, when he 
said he had not been hired to crack safes. It 
seemed to him then too theatrical to be worth 
considering seriously ; but as the days went by, 
and the fight grew hotter, and one plan after an- 
other failed to dislodge John Bagsbury from his 
position supporting Pickering, the idea came back 
to him and he asked himself, Why not, as a last 
resort. Well, it was now or not at all. Curtin, 
he reflected, would probably not relish the job, 
but that was not an important consideration. 

The assistant cashier, however, surprised his 
employer by entering into the scheme with a 
good deal of gusto. Had Sponley known his 
man less thoroughly, he would have suspected 
the genuineness of this enthusiasm, and would 
have conceived the idea that Curtin meant to 
play him false. But the Bear had no misgiv- 
ings. Curtin might plan a dozen treacheries in 
an hour, but when the moment of action came, 
he would obey orders. 

Sponley cut short his guessing as to just 
what the effect of the trick would be. 

"You'd better get right back to the bank, 
and don't telephone to me, whatever happens. 
Don't try to communicate with me in any way 
u 



290 The Banker and the Bear 

either to-night or to-morrow morning. It isn't 
safe. If I want to find out anything, I'll con- 
trive to get word to you." 

Curtin nodded and left the room. Just out- 
side the door he hesitated a moment, then 
walked nervously over to the bar and ordered 
a drink of whiskey. He watched the man pour- 
ing it into the glass, and did not see who had 
come up beside him until Sponley laid his hand 
upon his arm. 

" You don't want that, do you ? Don't you 
think you've had enough this afternoon ? " 

Curtin laughed weakly. " It won't hurt me. 
I want something to brace me up." 

"That won't brace you up. You're excited 
enough already." 

" There's no harm in this one. I won't take 
any more." 

The barkeeper had pushed the glass toward 
him, and he raised it toward his lips. 

" Put that down ! " 

The glass halted. 

" This seems to be my business rather than 
yours." 

The glass moved upward again, but now it 
was trembling. 



How they Broke the Run 291 

The next instant it was shivered on the tile 
floor, and both Curtin's wrists were fettered in 
Sponley's hands. 

" Damn you," Curtin said. 

" I told you not to," said Sponley, quietly. 
"Now go back to the bank." He let go of 
Curtin's wrists. 

" Do you do you think I'll take your orders 
after an insult like that ? " 

" I think you will. You've found it paid 
pretty well before now. But that was not an 
insult ; it was business. You'll get us both into 
trouble if you're drunk this afternoon. You'll 
see that that's so when you're cooled down." 

Sponley paid for the glass, and without 
another word to Curtin, or even a look at him, 
left the cafe and entered his carriage, which was 
waiting for him at the corner. It was three or 
four minutes later when Curtin came out, but 
in that time he had not been able to force him- 
self to order another glass of whiskey. 

At three o'clock John Bagsbury sent word 
to Jack Dorlin to come into the private office. 
Jack found him standing back a couple of 
paces from his window, looking down with 
what appeared to be a merely impersonal or 



292 The Banker and the Bear 

speculative interest upon the undiminished 
crowd in the street. 

"Mr. Dorlin," he said, "you've shown a dis- 
position to help me out of difficulties before," 
Jack looked at him closely, but there was not 
even the faint trace of a smile, "and I want 
you to come to my assistance again. I want you 
to help me scatter that crowd in the street." 

" By violence, Mr. Bagsbury, or by guile ? " 

Still John's face was serious. "By guile," 
he answered. " It would take a squadron of 
cavalry to do it the other way. I'm going to 
try a bluff, or rather I've thought of a bluff 
that I want you to try. I don't like that sort 
of thing, but nothing else will have any weight 
with those people out there. If we could give 
them a mathematical demonstration that their 
money was safe, they'd stay around to get it 
just the same. They're like small children; 
they want an object lesson. 

" When I met Dawson at lunch I arranged to 
get one hundred thousand from the Atlantic in 
currency. I want you to go and get it now and 
here's where the bluff comes in bring it 
back as impressively as possible. That's the 
whole trick ; we don't need the money, but we 



How they Broke the Run 293 

do need the effect. I haven't time to arrange 
the details, so I leave that in your hands. 
You have a pretty healthy imagination, and you 
ought to be able to get up something effective. 
You may find Dawson over at the Atlantic. If 
you do, he'll have some ideas on the subject; 
but the whole business is in your hands. You 
get the idea, don't you ? " 

" I think so. Is there any danger of over- 
doing it of being too spectacular?" 

" No," said John ; " you can pile it on as thick 
as you like." 

"All right. I'll work it up as well as I can. 
It's getting pretty black overhead ; if I and the 
rain strike here at the same time, we ought to 
do the trick." 

The rain set in before Jack was a block away 
from the bank. According to the morning 
paper it was only a shower ; but John Bagsbury 
noted with pleasure that it had a downright, 
businesslike way about it, and a promise of 
plenty of endurance. By itself it had no evi- 
dent effect, but it was doubtless preparing the 
mind of the crowd in the street for the more 
enthusiastic reception of the object lesson that 
was soon to arrive. 



294 The Banker and the Bear 

John stepped to the door of his office and 
called to Mr. Peters. 

" I wish you'd have all the silver there is in 
the vaults brought out and piled in the tellers' 
cages," he said thoughtfully, " and have the men 
bring it out one bag at a time and carry it as 
though it was heavy. It won't be necessary to 
open any of the bags, but I think it will look 
well." 

While John stood at the door watching to see 
that his order was being carried out according 
to the spirit as well as the letter, his eyes fell 
repeatedly on Curtin. The assistant cashier 
was moving uneasily about, doing nothing in 
particular, and seeming to find that difficult to 
do. He would halt before a window and gaze 
sullenly out at the rain, and then hurry impa- 
tiently back to his desk. Once he walked the 
whole length of the narrow passage between 
the cages and the vaults, with no other apparent 
purpose than being in the way ; for at the end 
of it he turned around and walked back. As 
he passed the door of the private office, John 
spoke to him. 

"Mr. Curtin, there's no need of your staying 
any longer." 



How they Broke the Run 295 

He turned a shade paler. "What do you 
mean? " he asked. 

" Nothing to get excited about," said John, 
looking at him curiously. " I thought from 
your manner that you were uneasy and anxious 
to get away, and I said that nothing need detain 
you. Mr. Peters will see to locking up the 
vaults." 

" I'd rather stay," said Curtin, as steadily as 
he could. " I didn't understand you at first. 
I am uneasy I want to see the thing through 
to see something stop this run " John 
nodded brusquely and turned away. He had 
no particular reason for thinking that Curtin 
was lying, but the air of essential untruthful- 
ness of the man made it difficult to believe him, 
even in a matter of no moment. Everything 
he did and the way he did it irritated John 
Bagsbury. 

There was nothing else to do, so the Banker 
sat down at his desk to await the arrival of the 
object lesson. Everything was ready. The 
rain was holding well, and the stacks of angular 
canvas bags behind the gratings seemed to be 
making an excellent impression on the file of 
depositors who were within the doors. But 



296 The Banker and the Bear 

still the line was unbroken. All depended now 
on Jack Dorlin. It took him long enough, the 
Banker thought impatiently. 

But there ! The object lesson was coming at 
last. John could see nothing as yet, but the 
noise from the street told him. It was a very 
different noise from any other that had come 
through the window. The crowd, that big 
animal which had yelled a few hours back, was 
purring. The object lesson was slow to appear, 
but when it did 

" Come in here, Jackson," John called. " Come 
here and look." 

" By the jumping Julius Caesar ! " the cashier 
exclaimed, when he caught sight of it. " He's 
organized a street parade ! I wonder why he 
didn't bring a brass band." 

There was Jack Dorlin in front, marching 
with a gravity befitting the situation, bearing 
under his arm a bulky package secured by yards 
of heavy cord and splendid with red sealing-wax. 
And in single file behind him were nine other 
young men of assorted sizes, every one of them 
carrying a similar burden. As convoy, two to 
the man, guarding both flanks of the file with 
most impressive zeal, were twenty blue-coated 



How they Broke the Run 297 

policemen. There was some sort of lettering 
on each of the ten packages which the crowd 
seemed to be reading with great satisfaction. 

Straight through the crowd and up the steps 
came the procession, never once breaking its 
imposing formation till safe behind the rail in 
the bank. Then John read what was printed 
on the packages, " Atlantic National Bank, 
$50,000." Taking Jack by the arm, he marched 
him into his private office. 

" You did that brown, Dorlin." 

" It was partly Mr. Dawson's idea," said Jack. 
" Those packages were already sealed up. He 
painted the extra ciphers on them himself. I 
was afraid it would be a little stiff, besides being 
not quite accurate, but he said it would go down 
all right." 

"Then you've only got fifty thousand there 
in all?" 

" Yes, you see this is only the direct attack. 
The rest is with the flank movement," said Jack ; 
" it ought to be here by now. Oh, there it is ! " 

Jack reached the window just as a big, red, 
iron-grated American Express Company wagon 
pulled up before the bank and backed round to 
the sidewalk. Then he saw a wave of excite- 



298 The Banker and the Bear 

ment go over the crowd when two men armed 
with Winchesters sprang down and ran to the 
rear end of the wagon. 

" Hurrah for the other million ! " came a voice 
from somewhere, and a crashing cheer from the 
crowd was the answer. 

It had been raining before in a plodding, 
commonplace fashion, but now the water began 
coming down in continuous streams instead of 
detached drops, and the crowd huddled a little 
closer to watch the men who splashed back and 
forth across the sidewalk carrying lumpy canvas 
bags into the bank. 

" Ten thousand of it is in gold," said Jack, 
"the rest is just about a ton of silver dollars. 
I thought you might want to open some of the 
bags." 

They did open some of the bags, and poured 
streams of shining double-eagles over the count- 
ers. 

"You'd better pay in gold for a while," John 
ordered the paying tellers. Then he went 
around and spoke to the men behind the receiv- 
ers' windows. 

The next few people to reach the windows 
had very small amounts of money in the bank, 



How they Broke the Run 299 

and they departed, clinking their two or three 
pieces of yellow metal with great satisfaction. 
But presently there came a man whose account 
was more than a thousand dollars. Fifty double- 
eagles are not only heavy, their bulk, compared 
with the capacity of the average pocket, is con- 
siderable. The man gathered them up in a 
helpless sort of a way and tried with no great 
success to stow them inconspicuously about his 
person, while the crowd of depositors waiting 
their turn made derisive comments upon his 
plight. Finally, with the air of a man who has 
just made a momentous decision, he walked to 
the receiving teller's window. 

"I believe I'll put it back after all," he said, 
" I guess the bank's safe enough." 

"You can't put it back to-night," the teller 
answered politely. " It's too late, after three 
o'clock. The bank's closed." He had to say 
it twice before the man understood, and to save 
future explanations, perhaps, he said it loudly 
enough for all around to hear. 

" But what am I going to do ? " the man 
asked. 

" I don't know," said the teller. " Get your- 
self arrested," called somebody in the crowd. 



For by that time it was a crowd, the line had 
melted away. They had not waited all those 
hours for their money with any intention of 
putting it back in the bank that night ; but 
to discover that they could not put it back, that 
the bank could not be induced to take it back 
that night, gave the matter a different color. A 
few of the more independent ones stepped boldly 
out of the line; then, after an irresolute half 
minute of staring at the great piles of coin and 
paper, the others followed, and men and women 
streamed sheepishly out through the wide open 
doors into the already empty street. 

"I'm going, too," said John Bagsbury. "The 
show's over. I've had enough." 

Curtin looked as though he had had enough, 
too ; but he waited till all the money was safely 
put away, and he could lock up the vaults. 



CHAPTER XIX 

THE FOURTH DAY 

THE time lock is not an old device, but it is 
already a necessity. Just as the invention of 
new and impenetrable armor for battle-ships 
has only produced new cannon or new projec- 
tiles which make necessary a still harder pro- 
tective shell about the ship, so has the increasing 
ingenuity with which banks guard their treasure 
been met by a corresponding advance in audac- 
ity and skill by those whose trade it is to rob 
the banks. An old-fashioned safe would be to a 
bank as useless a toy as one of Gustavus Adol- 
phus's wooden cannon in a modern fort ; and a 
safe cracker of the past generation would be as 
helpless as John Bagsbury's daughter Martha in 
the presence of a great Harvey ized-steel sphere 
with its electric apron burglar alarm, its half- 
dozen separate combinations, and its time-lock 
ticking away inside. The time-lock differs from 
other devices of the sort in this, that it is no 
301 



302 The Banker and the Bear 

respecter of persons ; it makes no discrimination 
between Trojan and Tyrian, friend and enemy. 
It resides in a glass-covered box on the inner 
face of the door. You unlock the cover, turn 
the knob until the hand upon a dial points to 
a certain number, and push the door to, and it 
will not open again until that number of hours 
has elapsed. 

It had occurred to Melville Sponley that vaults 
which could not be unlocked would be as disas- 
trous to a bank as vaults which were empty ; 
and Curtin, carrying out his employer's instruc- 
tions that afternoon, after John had gone away, 
had merely given the little knob in the glass 
box an extra twist. 

That was no very difficult thing to do, nor, 
being done, to make a man afraid. Of course, 
they would know he had done it. He alone in 
the bank had the key to the box, save on occa- 
sions when he handed it over to Peters. And 
it was altogether likely that John Bagsbury 
would suspect him of having done it mali- 
ciously. But it would be impossible to prove 
such a suspicion as that ; the excuse was en- 
tirely plausible. The bank, on account of the 
run that day, had closed nearly three hours 



The Fourth Day 303 

later than usual, and the assistant cashier, for- 
getting to take that into account, wound up the 
spring just as he was in the habit of doing, so 
that instead of opening at nine, the bolt would 
not fall out of place until twelve. They could 
never prove that he meant to do it. 

When Sponley had told him about it in the 
little room in the Eagle Caf6, the prospect of 
being able, with so small an act, to work John 
Bagsbury an injury, had pleased him. And even 
in doing it he enjoyed the feeling of guilty excite- 
ment that had come over him. He hated John, 
partly because of the various rascalities he had 
been practising upon the Banker in the past 
six months, partly because he did not dare hate 
Melville Sponley. His resentment of the insult 
the Bear had paid him at the Eagle bar was 
simply fuel to his eagerness to pass on the 
injury to John. The cream of the stratagem, 
what he licked his lips over as he rode home 
from the bank, was that there could be no 
proof, not a grain, that he had not merely made 
a very natural mistake. 

But for all that he was afraid. For no assign- 
able reason, at first, save that he was a coward; 
but soon his cowardice began suggesting reasons. 



304 The Banker and the Bear 

He thought of a good many disquieting possibili- 
ties during the evening, and, later, in the restless 
hours while he slept or dozed, his dreams spun 
about them a tangle of frightful grotesques. 
Awake or asleep the Banker troubled him, 
pursuing him through his dreams in a hundred 
horrible shapes, and at his elbow when he waked 
out of them and lay, with the rigor of nightmare 
still in his muscles and the perspiration of fear 
on his skin, trying to console himself with the 
thought that there was nothing they could prove. 
There would be one unpleasant moment when 
the Banker would look at him, perhaps speak to 
him, but that would soon be over. If he could 
only brazen it out through that, all would go 
well. 

Much as he dreaded the day that was com- 
ing, he welcomed the light that announced it. 
At a, for him, ridiculously early hour, he dressed 
and ordered his breakfast. He stormed because 
it was not ready ; but when it was brought to him, 
he did not eat it, for in the interval he had got a 
morning paper, and had found there additional 
ground for his uneasiness. 

There was, as he had expected, a detailed 
account of the run, and it made rather good 



The Fourth Day 305 

reading, ending, as it did, with a highly colored 
description of the coming of reinforcements. 
But he found more than he had bargained for 
in another column, whose head-lines made him 
cold and sick and hollow at the stomach, a re- 
port of an interview with John Bagsbury, which 
began with these words : 

" The run on our bank to-day was not an acci- 
dent. It was deliberately provoked in order to 
bear the lard market. That is not a guess. I 
am speaking from knowledge." 

John never took the trouble to be plausible. 
He did not arrange the truth to give it a lifelike 
appearance. When he made that statement, 
boldly, without argument or corroborative detail, 
to the half-dozen reporters who had gathered in 
his library, they believed him, and ninety per 
cent of the men who read the words in news- 
paper type next morning also believed. 

Curtin read the first sentence, then his eye 
glanced swiftly down the column, looking for 
his own name ; but there was small relief in the 
fact that he did not find it there. He was cer- 
tain that John Bagsbury's words were not a 
bluff. So, wondering how much the Banker 
knew, more than he had told the reporters, 



306 The Banker and the Bear 

Curtin allowed his breakfast to grow cold and to 
be taken away untasted. It was too early to go 
to the bank, but there was nothing else to do, and 
he could not keep still, so he set out down town. 

What followed is not pleasant, but it was 
inevitable. He could not get a seat in the ele- 
vated train, and the long jolting ride left him 
sick and giddy. He went directly to the bank, 
though it was far too early to go in, and after 
hesitating a while on the steps, he went away 
and wandered aimlessly about the streets. The 
people he passed stared at him, and he knew 
that his white face and uncertain walk gave 
them excuse enough. It would never do for 
John Bagsbury to see him looking like that. 
He needed something to stiffen him up for that 
morning's work, so he turned into the nearest bar. 

A man with an empty stomach and a weak 
head must exercise great discretion in drinking 
Scotch whiskey, and Curtin knew it. He would 
only take a very little. It would have been for- 
tunate for him and for Melville Sponley if after 
he once started he had drunk himself to sleep, 
or to the police station. But he kept his prom- 
ise to himself, he took only a little. 

What wonderful stuff that liquid amber was ! 



The Fourth Day 307 

As he sipped it, he felt his sluggish blood stir- 
ring ; it was making a man of him. The fears 
of the night were gone far back into his mem- 
ory now; he could think of them and laugh. 
He was ready for whatever might happen at 
the bank. The moment of discovery would 
not disconcert him in the least. He took one 
more little drink, and then, with almost a swag- 
ger, he walked back to the bank. John Bags- 
bury might look at him now and be damned ! 

Melville Sponley read the report of the inter- 
view with John Bagsbury and accorded it un- 
grudging admiration. That direct way of 
saying things was characteristic of John, and 
when he did it, it was immensely effective. 
That was the reward, the Bear reflected, which 
sometimes comes to a man who never drives a 
hard bargain with the truth. This blurting out 
of the whole story was a good move. It was 
worthy of the very pretty fight the Banker had 
been making this past week. 

The Bear could afford to look with ironical 
indulgence on John's last desperate efforts to 
save himself, because he knew how futile they 
were. The Bear was in high feather. There 



308 The Banker and the Bear 

was some credit in beating a combination like 
Pickering and Bagsbury. Bagsbury was, bar 
one, the best man in the city. 

His eye fell upon the vacant place across the 
table, and he came back sharply to present 
realities. He had not seen Harriet since Tues- 
day afternoon, had heard nothing from her 
since the little note asking him to excuse her 
for not coming down to dinner. He had gone 
to the Bagsburys' house twice on Wednesday, 
but neither time had she been able to see him. 

He missed her, even in busy times like these. 
He wanted to talk over this last action with her 
before he went into it; not that he needed any 
help, but simply for the stimulating effect of 
her interest. He had thought a good many 
times in the last year that she was not her old 
self ; that she had been losing her sure grasp of 
a situation and her quick eye for an opportu- 
nity ; but he saw now how badly he had mis- 
judged her. Her foresight in warning John 
when it was too late to do any harm, but so 
that it might help to straighten out the tangle 
afterward, delighted him, and assured him that 
she was still the Harriet of ten years ago. And 
how plucky she was ! She had been too tired 



The Fourth Day 309 

to come down to dinner, but she had nerved 
herself for that long ride down to the Bags- 
burys' house to carry out the stratagem that had 
occurred to her. She must have been horribly 
fagged to have broken down that way, though. 
Perhaps it was just as. well that she was spared 
the exciting days that were following her col- 
lapse. They could talk it all over afterward, 
anyway. And he was glad that it was his last 
fight. 

He had meant to stop on his way to the 
office and find out what her condition was this 
morning ; now he decided to telephone instead ; 
but, just before he went out, he changed his 
mind once more. He would do neither. She 
might want to see him and ask a lot of ques- 
tions, and it was better that he should keep 
entirely out of the way for a little longer. It 
would all be over by noon. 

When Sponley reached his office at nine 
o'clock, he found Stewart and Ray waiting for 
him. He nodded to them cordially. 

" We're going to have great times this morn- 
ing. This is going to be the last day of it. 
You'll find cigars in my desk there. Help 
yourselves, will you?" 



3io The Banker and the Bear 

"We haven't much time for a smoke before 
the fun begins, have we ? " one of them asked. 

Sponley had disappeared in a little closet, 
where he seemed to be rumaging about in 
search of something, and it was a minute or 
two before he answered. When he came out, 
he brought a shiny old alpaca coat and a crum- 
pled felt hat. 

" Yes, you will," he answered ; " all the time 
you want. I'm going to attend to the fun to- 
day myself." 

One would not have called his face heavy at 
that moment, and his laugh had an almost boy- 
ish ring. He slipped on the coat, and thrust 
his hands luxuriously into the sagging pockets. 

" This old rig has been through many a fight, 
but never a one better than there'll be to-day. 
By the Lord Harry, gentlemen, I wouldn't miss 
it for fifty thousand dollars." 

He stowed away a little package of memo- 
randum cards and a couple of hard pencils, and 
moved to leave the office. " I'm going up to the 
floor now," he said. 

" You're wanted at the telephone, Mr. Spon- 
ley," said his clerk, coming out of the cabinet. 

It was Curtin who had called him up, and 



The Fourth Day 311 

the moment the Bear recognized his voice he 
demanded, 

" Where are you ? " 

" At the bank," the assistant cashier answered. 

" Ring off right away then," said Sponley. " I 
told you not to run that risk." 

"It's all safe enough," he could hear Cur- 
tin laugh, "they aren't watching the 'phone 
just now. They're all over by the vaults." 

" Have they found out anything ? " 

" No, they think it'll come open in a minute." 

"All right," said the Bear; "but don't call 
me up again in any case. You wound it up till 
twelve, didn't you ? " 

There was a moment's pause, then came the 
short rattle of the ring for disconnection. Cur- 
tin must have seen some one coming and rung 
off. Sponley was glad the assistant cashier had 
so much discretion. 

At twenty minutes after nine, when the Bear, 
with a word of greeting to the guard at the 
entrance, came out on the floor, it was, to the 
unaccustomed eyes and ears in the crowded 
gallery, already a bedlam. Traders and clerks 
were grouped about that big room, talking in 
every key of excitement, and little messenger 



312 The Banker and the Bear 

boys, to whom nothing mattered until the bell 
rang, larked about, pelting one another with 
handfuls of sample grain, and making a gratui- 
tous addition to the uproar. All the while, 
monotonous and incessant, the metallic chatter 
of scores of telegraph instruments made a long 
organ-point against the varying pitch of the 
voice of the crowd. 

Sponley breathed a long sigh of complete 
contentment as the old air and the familiar 
noises greeted him. The pervasive, inarticulate 
sound was as perfectly intelligible to him as 
is the song of the locomotive to an old railroad 
engineer. He knew every cadence of it. He 
walked slowly across toward the provision pit, 
and before he had taken twenty paces he felt 
that every man in the great room knew of his 
presence and was wondering what it portended. 
His half-shut eyes that were everywhere, saw 
Keyes scribble a note and despatch a messenger 
boy with it on the run, and he smiled. That 
note did not contain pleasant news for Pickering. 

This was his last day, the last of a multitude 
of days, and safe, as this one was, or precari- 
ous, he had enjoyed them all. He wished there 
were to be more of them. But he had promised 



The Fourth Day 313 

Harriet and himself, and he was particular about 
such promises. He would enjoy the little that 
was left, however. 

Then there ^ame to him a notion, an ironical, 
whimsical notion that pleased him, and he stood 
still, smiling over it. He would set a period to 
this delectable experience. His opponent should 
have an hour and a half. He would begin now 
in three two and three-quarters minutes, and 
at eleven o'clock his bear's hug should squeeze 
the last gasp out of Pickering. It was anything 
but hard business sense, but for this once he 
could afford the luxury of following a fancy, as 
pretty a fancy as that. 

Then the big bell rang out half-past nine, and 
the trading began. It had been long since 
Sponley had taken the field in person, but not 
so long that men had forgotten that he was the 
best operator on the board. That he was, was 
due partly to his impassivity, partly to his 
quickness ; but more than either, apparently, to 
his mere bulk, or at least to a certain oppres- 
sion which seemed to emanate from it. Keyes 
was a good man, an old hand at the business, 
he knew every trick of it, but he felt as if 
Pickering's defeat were already accomplished 



314 The Banker and the Bear 

when he looked at Sponley standing there, at 
the other side of the pit. 

None the less he held his ground gallantly ; 
for the first three-quarters of an hour he never 
gave an inch. But it was a game of follow 
the leader by that time. It seemed that every 
trader on the floor was coming to the provision 
pit, to make a short sale and take a little share 
in Sponley's certain victory. No one could 
stand for long against such a pressure as that, 
and the price began dropping, a notch at a time, 
at first, but faster afterwards and down, down, 
down it went, sliding. 

At a quarter before eleven there came a 
check and then a smart rally of a point or two. 
Sponley glanced up at the big clock, and he 
smiled. He was going to hit it almost exactly. 
He had expected this turn, he knew just what 
it meant. Pickering was of the sort who die 
hard, and now, as he came so desperately near 
the extreme edge, he was gathering every ounce 
of fight into this last plunge. Without hurry 
and without discomposure, Sponley hammered 
the price back again, and the narrow margin 
was almost nothing. 

Outside, in the street, a carriage with three 



The Fourth Day 315 

men in it was driving up furiously, reckless of 
the shouts from the policeman at the corner. 
When it stopped before the Board of Trade 
building, Pickering was still righting, but already 
half over the edge. 

That was six minutes of eleven. 



CHAPTER XX 

ASSAULT AND BATTERY 

DICK has never been able satisfactorily to 
explain why, as soon as she had finished her 
breakfast that morning, she went to the bank. 
Just before starting she told Alice that John 
had run off without his eye-glasses, and that she 
was going to take them down to him, which was 
true, but not entirely adequate. She told her- 
self that since Mrs. Sponley's fever had abated, 
she was sure to want to know all about the hap- 
penings of the day before, and that telling her 
might have serious consequences. Alice would 
not be able to give her any information about 
it, and the morning paper containing the inter- 
view that had so badly frightened Curtin had 
been stuffed, as soon as Dick had read it, into 
John's pocket, and was now on its way down town. 
So that if Dick herself was well out of the way, 
Mrs. Sponley might have whatever poor hap- 
piness ignorance affords, for a while longer. 
316 



Assault and Battery 317 

That was an excellent reason. A year later 
Jack Dorlin told her that she came to the bank 
on Thursday morning simply because he had 
not come to see her Wednesday evening, which 
was a piece of impudence Dick could well 
afford to answer merely with an infinitely 
scornful smile. 

They met at the corner, half a square away 
from the bank. 

"What on earth has brought you down 
here ? " he exclaimed, as he came up with her. 
"Has anything gone wrong ? " 

She waived the question. " Hello, Jack," 
was all she said. There was small matter in 
the words to blush over ; but the color sprang 
into her face, for something in the inflection of 
them had been almost a caress, and the fact 
that she had not offered him her hand and that 
she had barely glanced at him lent an emphasis 
to it that he would be sure to understand. 

They walked a score of paces in silence. 
The mere sense of nearness that came to them 
in the crowd was good enough without seeking 
to better it by talking. But the words that 
hung in Jack's throat had to come out at last. 

" There's something I must tell you " 



318 The Banker and the Bear 

Not there on that crowded sidewalk, with 
bank clerks and messenger boys, lawyers and 
merchants, rich men, poor men, beggar men, 
all hurrying and jostling past, to slip be- 
tween them, and make an interruption at every 
three words. No, certainly not there, if Dick 
could help it. So Jack, who for all he knew 
of his surroundings at that moment might have 
been walking down a grassy lane, between haw- 
thorn hedges that breathed softly into the moon- 
light ; Jack, who knew only that it was Dick's 
hand that brushed lightly by his own; poor, 
stupid Jack must needs again be interrupted. 

"There are a lot of things you must tell me," 
she said. "All I know about what happened 
yesterday is what I saw in this morning's paper. 
John was so thoroughly tired out when he came 
home that, as soon as he could get rid of the 
reporters, he went to bed, and " 

She was talking aimlessly, for she saw how he 
was misunderstanding her, how her words must 
be hurting him, and she could think of nothing 
but that. Why, oh, why had he made her do it ! 

Though he mistook the reason, he saw that 
the situation was painful to her, and he came 
quickly to the rescue. 



Assault and Battery 319 

" You haven't told me why you've come down 
here at this time in the morning," he said easily. 
"There's nothing wrong with Mr. Bagsbury, I 
hope." 

His consideration for her, even at such a 
moment, touched her. The tremulous bright- 
ness of her eyes would have told him something 
if he had looked up at them. She herself had 
forgotten by that time where they were stand- 
ing. 

"It's nothing I mean nothing important. 
I want to see John for a minute." 

" It's pretty early for him yet, isn't it ? " asked 
Jack. Still he would not look at her. They 
were standing just before the entrance to the 
bank, but she did not move to go in. Hills- 
mead came bustling up, and, as he passed them, 
lifted his hat in his latest and most impressive 
manner ; but they looked at him with unseeing 
eyes. He would have had the same sort of 
reception had he been a six-gun field battery, 
or a circus parade with caged animals. 

"Is it?" she asked listlessly. "He started 
before I did oh, of course ; he walks. I for- 
got that." 

Then her tone changed quickly. "I think 



320 The Banker and the Bear 

I'll go in and wait for him. It'll be all right 
for me to stay in his office till he comes, won't 
it?" 

He nodded assent, and led the way into the 
bank. They passed Hillsmead as they turned 
in behind the rail, and Jack wondered why he 
wore that peculiar expression. But he did not 
think of Hillsmead for more than a fraction of 
a second. 

He ushered Dick into the private office, raised 
a window, and placed a chair for her near by 
where she could feel the breeze. " I don't be- 
lieve it will be very long before he comes," he 
said. 

Then with an effort he added : " I can't stay 
here. I I have my work, you see " 

He turned toward the door, but before he 
reached it she spoke his name. 

"Don't go away, Jack. I want tell me 
what you started to tell me out there." 

She had not taken the chair he had placed 
for her, but was standing close by the window. 
He could not see her face. 

" I shouldn't have done that," he said. " You 
had answered me already. It was wrong in me 
to try to compel you to do it more directly. I 



Assault and Battery 321 

presumed on your liking me, and wanting to be 
kind to me." 

He dropped down in John's big desk chair, 
and, bending forward, pressed his clasped hands 
together between his knees. 

" It is just what I tried to tell you a week ago 
last night in the Bagsburys' library," he went 
on, speaking slowly and precisely ; " nothing but 
just this : that I know what it really means now 
to love you, Dick. I didn't know those other 
times when I told you. You were right about 
that. Now that I really understand, I can see 
how little I understood before. And until that 
night, I hoped that you knew I really under- 
stood, and that you " 

If he had looked at her, he would have 
stopped there, but his eyes were still averted, 
and he labored painfully on through a bog of 
words, until at last, mercifully, she interrupted 
him. 

"That wasn't what you told me the other 
night. You only told me that you had found 
out that I was right when I said you didn't 
you didn't know. John came in then, and 
I " 

But then the words she had meant to say sud- 



322 The Banker and the Bear 

denly refused to be said. For the first time 
she realized that they were not true. He 
did not change his position, but she heard his 
breath coming quicker. He was holding him- 
self hard. 

" I suppose I did commit such a piece of 
idiocy as that. It's just what I'd be likely to do. 
I'm getting tired of being such an utterly 
hopeless " 

It was her hand, laid lightly on his lips, that 
checked him there. "You mustn't say such 
things about yourself any more," she said. She 
took her hand away, but remained standing 
close beside him. 

Still he did not raise his eyes. 

" You are stupid this morning, though," she 
said, and her voice was quivering. "Jack 
Jack, are you going to make me " 

Then, at last, he rose swiftly to his feet; and 
he looked at her as though to make up in that 
first moment for a six months' blindness. He 
caught her hands timidly, as though he expected 
that they would resist ; but they lay quite con- 
tentedly in his and he gripped them tighter. 

" Do they mean what they're telling me ? " 
he asked breathlessly. " Do you know what 



Assault and Battery 323 

they're telling me?" But he needed no other 
answer than what he saw in her face, and though 
he let go her hands, it was that he might hold 
her close in the circle of his arms. 

"You didn't believe what I said that night, 
did you, Dick ? You knew what I was trying 
to say." 

A tremulous little sigh of complete happiness 
was all her answer at first, but afterward she 
said : 

" Yes, I knew, of course, all the time. I told 
myself that you meant that you had found out 
you didn't care, and I tried to make myself 
believe it. But if I'd been afraid that I really 
should believe it " 

He interrupted her, but not by speaking. 

There are occasions when arbitrary divisions 
of time, such as minutes, cease to have any 
particular significance, and we can but guess 
from collateral evidence how much later it was 
when Dick, after a glance into the street below, 
said with a laugh, 

"There comes John, now." 

" Let him come. He's a malevolent sort of 
wretch. He laid his plans, you see, to come 
down and interrupt us again, just at a a 



324 The Banker and the Bear 

critical moment; but for once he's too late. 
We foiled him." 

" We ? " she questioned demurely. " He'd 
have been here in plenty of time if " 

But she should not have expected to be 
allowed to finish a sentence like that. 

" Jack ! Let me go. Please let me go. Oh, 
he's coming ! " 

" It will be such a fine surprise for Mr. Bags- 
bury," he answered placidly. 

But John was not to have his surprise just 
then. Before he reached the outer office he 
was stopped by Mr. Peters. 

"There's a good one on us, Mr. Bagsbury. 
We can't get into either of the big vaults. The 
time-locks are still going. They ought to have 
come open a quarter of an hour ago. Curtin 
says he set them just as usual, but I suppose he 
must have wound them a little too far. That 
would be easy enough to do. They're likely 
to come open any minute now." 

" Where is Curtin ? " John asked. 

" He's somewhere about. Oh, I guess he's 
in the telephone box." 

There was, after all, a fundamental error in 
Melville Sponley's calculations which would 



Assault and Battery 325 

probably have beaten him even if luck had 
turned things differently; if, for instance, 
Curtin had not chosen that particular moment 
for his telephoning. The Bear had never in the 
course of the fight, and particularly not in this 
last turn of it, reckoned upon the quickness of 
John's intuitions. Most men would have taken 
the obvious explanation instead of the far more 
remote one, and until it was too late would have 
waited for the vaults to open themselves. John 
would have been too late had he been obliged 
to wait for the laborious processes of reason to 
guide him ; but thanks to insight, or imagina- 
tion, or genius, or whatever you may be pleased 
to call it, he moved swiftly. Before Peters had 
finished speaking, John understood the whole 
trick, and, what is more to the purpose, he had 
no doubt of his understanding. 

He looked about thoughtfully for a moment. 
Then he said to Peters : 

" Don't interfere in what's going to happen. 
I know exactly what I'm going to do." 

With that he walked rapidly toward the open 
door of the telephone box. 

He had no intention of stealing up and taking 
Curtin unawares, but chance brought it about. 



326 The Banker and the Bear 

The rubber matting deadened his footfalls, and 
as he drew nearer, a movement by one of the 
clerks attracted Curtin's attention in the other 
direction. Even at that, had it not been for the 
intoxication induced by the whiskey and by the 
excitement of the moment, Curtin must have 
perceived John's presence before the Banker 
had come within a single pace of him. But as 
it happened, John was not an arm's length away 
when Curtin said, " They think it'll come open 
in a minute." 

It was not, as Sponley thought, discretion 
that stopped him then, but a big, lean forearm 
which came under his chin, bending his head 
back suddenly so that every muscle in his body 
turned limp as rags and the terrible grip of the 
inner crook of an elbow which throttled him. 
As his hands involuntarily flew to release his 
throat, John caught the receiver away from him 
and clapped it to his own ear. He heard Spon- 
ley say, 

" Locked it up till twelve, didn't you ? " 

Then he rang off, and tightening his grip on 

Curtin, backed out of the cabinet. Every 

man in the bank, save the one who remained 

deep in oblivion in the inner private office, 



Assault and Battery 327 

came running to the spot, but they did not need 
John's quick admonition not to interfere. 

Curtin had ceased even to appear to struggle. 
He simply hung, so much dead weight, from 
John Bagsbury's rigid elbow. 

" I don't know whether I've broken your neck 
or not. I hope not. Come into my office. There 
are some things I'd like to have you tell me." 

He let his arm relax, and Curtin tumbled in a 
heap on the floor. 

With an exclamation of impatience John 
lifted him, and half dragged, half led him down 
the aisle. The door of the outer office was open. 
When he reached the inner one, he kicked it 
open and thrust Curtin forward. The man 
went staggering across the room, until he stum- 
bled and fell upon the cracked old leather sofa 
which groaned under his sudden impact. 

Jack Dorlin had taken Dick by the shoulders 
and gently pulled her out of Curtin's zigzag 
course ; then they stood quite still watching him 
as he lay there, with one hand fumbling at his 
throat. 

Dick knew that John Bagsbury was standing 
in the doorway. She could hear his loud, slow 
breathing, but she did not turn to look at him, 



328 The Banker and the Bear 

for she guessed that the expression in his face 
was one that she would rather not be able to 
remember. He was looking at her and at Jack 
in a puzzled way, as though he suspected them 
of being merely a hallucination. Dick was the 
first to speak : 

" I think he is fainting. Will you get some 
water, Jack ? " 

The sound of her voice brought John Bags- 
bury to himself again. " I did not know you 
were in here," he said simply. Then, as Jack 
Dorlin left the room, he added : "I'm glad you 
were. I was pretty mad. I was I was all 
right until I felt him in my hands, but that was 
too much for me." 

Without reply she moved toward the sofa. 

" What are you going to do ? " he asked. 

" To loosen his collar," she replied laconically. 
" Somebody's got to do it." 

" I will," he said, and with shaking hands he 
did. 

Curtin revived quickly when Jack Dorlin 
dashed the water in his face, and he sat up 
feebly and looked about the room. Dick turned 
away to the window, and in a moment Jack 
stepped to her side. 



Assault and Battery 329 

"Why are all those people waiting out 
there ? " she asked in an undertone. 

He glanced down into the street. There 
was, as on yesterday, a little knot of people 
standing about the door. 

" Come here and look, Mr. Bagsbury," said 
Jack, quietly. 

It was not the angry man of five minutes 
ago, nor the John Bagsbury who had just been 
talking to Dick, nothing but the Banker who 
spoke to Jack Dorlin, after a glance out of the 
window. 

" I have some business to talk over with Mr. 
Curtin," he said swiftly ; " but I've no time for 
that just now. Will you look after him, Dorlin, 
until I'm at liberty again ? " 

Without waiting for Jack to reply, he strode 
out of the office and shut the door behind him. 

" I suppose I'd better go," said Dick. 

Jack was very close to her, standing between 
her and Curtin, and he spoke almost in a 
whisper : " I suppose so. I wish you were my 
prisoner instead of " 

There is your chance, Curtin. You know 
it is less than a ten-foot drop from that open 
window to the sidewalk. Once out there, you 



330 The Banker and the Bear 

are safe enough. It will hardly be worth while 
trying to prove anything against you in a court 
of law ; all you are afraid of is John Bagsbury. 
If you will be quick, he will not be able to get 
his hands on you again. 

He thought of all that. If he could have had 
one good drink of whiskey, he would have tried 
it ; but as it was, he only took a hesitating step 
toward the window, and Dick saw. 

" Be careful, Jack ! " she said. 

He turned quickly about and understood. 
" Do you feel that breeze too much, Mr. Cur- 
tin ? Don't move. I'll close the window." 

When he had closed and locked it, Dick was 
gone. 

" Thank you," said Curtin. 

The narrowness of his escape from such a 
blunder made Jack uncomfortable, but exceed- 
ingly alert. He sat in John's chair, and for 
what seemed to him half the morning his eyes 
at least never wandered from the man on the 
sofa. 

It was really a little less than half an hour 
before John Bagsbury came back into the 
room. He was still only the Banker, quick of 
speech and placid of mind. 



Assault and Battery 331 

" Now, I'm ready to talk with you, Mr. 
Curtin. No don't go, Dorlin. We have 
arranged for what currency we need for the 
present, and there'll be some experts here in a 
few minutes now, to see if they can do any- 
thing with the vaults." 

" Are they going to run us again to-day ? " 
asked Jack. 

" I don't think so," said the Banker, smiling. 
"Those people we saw were bringing their 
money back. They didn't want it for more 
than one night." 

He turned to Curtin. " Mr. Sponley is doing 
a good morning's work," he said. " He's on 
the floor himself, and from the way it looks 
now he will beat Pickering inside of two hours. 
If he does that, of course they may run us 
again." 

The Banker looked thoughtfully out of the 
window for a moment, then he continued : 
" You have done a good many questionable 
things, Mr. Curtin, since you came here six 
months ago, and you have done one or two things 
in the last day or two that are unquestion- 
able. I am inclined to think that I can have 
you committed to prison for a considerable term 



332 The Banker and the Bear 

of years. I think there is enough in what you 
told Hauxton Tuesday afternoon, and in your 
manipulating the time-locks yesterday, to ac- 
complish that. But I'm not sure that I want 
to. I should gain nothing, not even the per- 
sonal satisfaction for an injury. You've been 
acting on instructions, I suppose. I have still 
another hand to play with the man who gave 
you those instructions." 

" He'll beat you," said Curtin, sullenly. 

" And I want you to act in my interest while 
I play it," John went on evenly. " That course 
can't be less to your advantage than the one 
you've been following. I want you now to 
answer some questions. When will those 
vaults come open?" 

"I don't " 

" The truth ! " thundered John, moving for- 
ward, and Curtin went white. "Tell me the 
truth, Mr. Curtin." 

"At twelve o'clock." 

" That is true," said John, " I know. Now 
please tell me just how you came to do it." 

" Oh, damn you ! " said Curtin, brokenly. 
" Damn both of you ! You'll tear me to pieces 
between you. He made me do it." 



Assault and Battery 333 

" I know he did. I want you to tell me 
how." 

Sullenly, brazenly, fearfully, shiftily, and with 
many intervals of feeble blasphemous ravings 
against the two strong men who had ground 
him between them, Curtin told the long story, 
and John listened with half his mind, while the 
other half was making plans. But at last some- 
thing caught his whole attention. 

" Say that again," he commanded. " You 
tell me that Sponley laid violent hands on you, 
yesterday afternoon, in the bar-room of the 
Eagle Caf ? Was there a witness present ? " 

" The barkeeper." 

John sprang to his feet. "That's what I 
want," he said exultantly, and his jaws came 
together with a snap. " Dorlin, will you order a 
carriage, quick ? We'll have to cut it fine." 

Then his strong lips bent in an ironical smile. 

"You'll come with me, Mr. Curtin, to the 
nearest justice and swear out a warrant for 
Sponley's arrest on a charge of assault and 
battery." 



CHAPTER XXI 

A CORNER 

THE withered, leering, old Goddess of Luck 
must have grinned wide that morning. To 
smile knowingly over men's hopes is her de- 
light; but to smile behind the back of a man 
who is smiling, is the double distillation of 
pleasure. Melville Sponley had never enjoyed 
living before as in those minutes, one or two 
less than ninety, while he played cautiously 
and allowed Pickering some small hope of win- 
ning, and postponed planting the last thrust in 
him until the hour he himself had set should 
have fully come. He had had fancies of this 
kind before, but never had he indulged one of 
them, and so this had the added delight of 
novelty. 

But while he waited, John Bagsbury, whom 

he thought to be no longer in the game, was 

taking a hand in this last dealing of the cards. 

When Sponley smiled over Pickering's last des- 

334 



A Corner 335 

perate rally, Jervis Curtin had already sworn out 
a warrant that was to confound him. And 
when, after an amused glance at the big clock, 
the Bear began to deliver the final attack, it 
was too late, for the carriage that had driven 
through the streets in such reckless hurry had 
already pulled up before the Board of Trade 
building. 

The men inside came tumbling out before it 
had fairly stopped; they crossed the sidewalk 
and the wide vestibule at a run and dashed 
upstairs, three steps at a stride, to the entrance 
to the floor. 

There they stopped and peered frowning into 
the crowd. One of them, it was John Bags- 
bury, began giving swift instructions to the 
other two, and they followed with their eyes 
the direction of his pointing finger. In a 
moment they nodded comprehendingly, and as 
John turned away, they moved out on the 
floor. 

The old policeman who guards the entrance 
a landmark he is in that place where men 
come and go so quickly stepped in front of 
them, saying that visitors were not allowed on 
the floor. But they jerked their coats open 



336 The Banker and the Bear 

impatiently so that he could see the stars that 
were pinned inside them, and then walked 
briskly over to the provision pit. They climbed 
the pair of steps outside the circle, and one 
waited on the rim, while the other wriggled his 
way through the dense press of men down 
toward the centre. He laid his hand on the 
Bear's wide shoulder. 

" You're Melville Sponley, aren't you ? " 

The Bear was making an entry on his card, 
and he paid no heed. 

The hand gripped his shoulder more tightly. 
" Isn't your name Melville Sponley ? " 

"That's it," he answered shortly, and he 
raised his hand to make another sale. 

Then, in a flash, for even John Bagsbury 
was a very little slower than he, the Bear knew 
what it meant. He wheeled suddenly upon 
his interrogator, and he did not need the 
glimpse he caught of the point of a star be- 
neath the coat to convince him that he had 
comprehended aright. He spoke directly into 
the man's ear and so rapidly that the words 
blurred together. But the man understood. 

" Do you want to earn a thousand dollars 
in the next five minutes ? Stand where you 



A Corner 337 

are and don't speak to me or interfere with 
me till then. That's all you'll have to do." 

He turned back toward Keyes and started 
to raise his arm, but again the detaining hand 
came down upon his shoulder. 

" Do you want five ? " he snapped. 

It might have saved him. If John Bagsbury 
had not been waiting for them over across the 
hall, it would in all probability have saved him. 
The detectives had known John less than half 
an hour, but in that time one can sometimes 
learn something of a man's essential charac- 
teristics. 

The detective turned away uneasily and 
called to his fellow, " Come down here, Ryan." 

Until that moment the pit had been a scene 
of tumult ; in other words, its yelling, frenzied, 
chaotic self. But at that call the tempest died 
away into a mere buzzing curiosity. The men 
who a moment before had been oblivious to 
all save the price of lard, were now wondering 
what the man called Ryan was going to do, 
and they stood aside to make way for him. 
They would only have had to crowd a bit 
close and perhaps indulge in a little harmless 
rushing to give Sppnley the three or four 



338 The Banker and the Bear 

minutes he needed to win his fight, but no one 
began it. Friends and enemies simply stood 
by and watched Ryan join his fellow close 
beside Sponley. 

"You'll have to come along with us," said 
the one who had first accosted him. " You're 
wanted for assault and battery." 

" Assault and battery ! " echoed the Bear, 
looking at the two men in genuine surprise. 
" You've got the wrong man." 

He shook himself free and turned again 
upon Keyes, but in a second the detectives 
had his elbows pinned at his sides and were 
forcing him backward toward the rim of the 
pit. 

" Show me your warrant." 

" When we get out of this crowd," said 
Ryan. 

Sponley made no further attempt to resist. 
He turned and walked quietly out of the pit. 
" Show me your warrant," he repeated. 

He smiled as he read it, a dog's smile that 
bared every tooth in his upper jaw. 

" Curtin, by God ! " he said softly. Then 
he turned briskly to the detectives. " All right, 
I'll go with you ; only be quick. I'm in a 



A Corner 339 

hurry." But he stopped involuntarily as the 
sudden roar that went up from the pit told 
him that trading had begun again. He knew 
that hurry would avail him nothing. For the 
first time in his life, the Bear tasted the bitter- 
ness of defeat. 

He was beaten ; not, after all, by luck, and 
only secondarily by John Bagsbury. It was 
Nemesis that had overtaken him ; or, to phrase 
it more modernly, the reflex action of the very 
force that had contributed so largely to his 
former successes. Had it been the other way 
about, they might have arrested Keyes with- 
out materially affecting the outcome of the 
struggle, for Keyes was, from half-past nine 
to half-past one, simply a machine for buying 
or for selling, as the case might be. But 
Melville Sponley had always been a visible 
incarnation of success. The men who had 
faced him all these years in the pit knew that 
he had never been beaten, and they had cher- 
ished the superstition, which he held himself, 
that he could not be beaten. During years on 
the Board of Trade that place among all 
others where nothing should count but hard 
sense and telegraphic advices no rumor had 



340 The Banker and the Bear 

been so potent in bearing down the market as 
the report that Sponley was selling short. 

In this duel he fought with Pickering, reason 
was on the Bull side ; the lard market was really 
narrow. Nearly all the traders who dabbled at 
all in provisions had sided with Sponley simply 
because he was Sponley. The small, visible 
supply of lard was an insignificant fact com- 
pared with that. So when the Bear, after read- 
ing the warrant, walked quietly away between 
the two detectives, there was blank dismay 
among his followers. 

Keyes was not the man to lose a golden 
moment like that one. He thrust his hands 
high in the air, his palms toward him, and every 
finger extended. His voice, as he shouted the 
new price, rang with defiant challenge for the 
men who had been giving his principal so ter- 
rible a drubbing. For a moment they made a 
show of resistance, and then their opposition 
melted away like a child's fort of sand before 
the first rush of the tide. 

When the news came downstairs to Pickering, 
he was sitting on the table in Sievert's private 
office. He said nothing to the head clerk, who 
congratulated him. He simply sat there open- 



A Corner 341 

mouthed, breathing fast, like a man who has 
just made a hundred-yard dash. He did not 
even wipe away the perspiration that gathered 
on his forehead and ran down into his eyes. 
He had not moved when John Bagsbury came 
into the room a few minutes later. 

" Here you are," said the Banker. " Well, I 
guess this lets you out. It was cut pretty close, 
though." 

"It was cut close," Pickering answered. "I 
hope it may never be cut so damned close again. 
Are you going to wait, too ? " 

John nodded. There was no need of their 
discussing what they were waiting for, and 
neither man spoke again until it happened, 
which was about half an hour later. 

Everybody had expected it, though not so 
soon ; but none the less it seemed unreal, 
incredible, when from the gallery the secre- 
tary of the Board of Trade read the formal 
announcement, 

"All parties having accounts with Melville 
Sponley are instructed to close out the same 
immediately." 

The formula is as familiar as the alphabet, 
but containing that name, it came strangely, 



342 The Banker and the Bear 

unpleasantly to the older men on the floor. 
They acted upon it, however. 

In Sievert's office again it was John who 
broke the silence. " That's all," he said, when 
the clerk told them. "We really didn't have 
him till now, but I guess this settles it." 

Pickering slipped down from the table and 
moved toward the door. " Yes, this settles it. 
I've had enough for to-day." 

He paused and came back to where John 
was standing. " I haven't thanked you yet, 
but I will sometime. You pulled me out of 
the hole." 

"I don't need to be thanked," said John, 
brusquely. " I was going on my own hook 
this morning. It was my innings." 

He accompanied Pickering to the street, 
parted from him with a nod, and walked 
slowly back to the bank. He felt tired now 
that it was all over, but he was glad that he 
had a day's work before him. He did not 
yet fully realize that the man he had fought 
so furiously was Melville Sponley, his friend, 
and he was half conscious of a wish to put 
off that realization for a while longer. Time 
would readjust things on some sort of basis, 



A Corner 343 

though there was an enemy where there had 
seemed to be a friend before. Anyway, the 
fight was over and well over. It had been a 
good fight. With that reflection the Banker 
turned into his office and attacked the pile of 
letters that lay on his desk; but even this 
habitual work which he did so swiftly and so 
easily could not prevent the sudden recur- 
rence every little while of an uneasy feel- 
ing that something in the scheme of things 
was fundamentally wrong. If he had been 
any one but John Bagsbury, he would have 
discovered that he had the blues. 

Our story is almost done, for with Pickering's 
subsequent and highly succcessful manipulation 
of the lard market, we have no concern. What 
was once the great fact in John Bagsbury's life, 
his friendship with Melville Sponley, is now 
nothing but a memory, and the test to show 
which of the two is the better man, the test 
that the Bear so long ago foresaw, is fully ac- 
complished. 

Yet there is a little more to tell. 

From very early that Thursday morning, 
before any one at the Bagsburys' house was 
stirring, Harriet Sponley had lain in the white 



344 The Banker and the Bear 

bed in Dick's little white room, waiting. The 
delirium, which, all through the day before, had 
mercifully protected her, had gone away with 
the fever, and she remembered everything that 
had happened before she had started for the 
Bagsburys' on Tuesday evening with perfect 
distinctness. But the interval of unconscious- 
ness gave her a curious feeling of detachment 
from the Harriet she remembered. She looked 
back to those days as one might look at a pic- 
ture : the excitement, the terror, the bitterness 
of those hours after she had learned what 
were her husband's plans, she saw as clearly as 
possible ; but the memory brought no revival of 
those emotions in her now. They had belonged 
to somebody else. She would begin to be that 
somebody again by and by, perhaps, but that 
did not matter now. So she lay quietly, some- 
times dozing, sometimes broad awake, waiting 
for something. She did not try to guess what 
it would be. 

The room pleased her. It was bright and 
dainty, there was no unrestful decoration about 
it. It reminded her somehow of Dick. She 
asked for Miss Haselridge a number of times 
that morning, and was disappointed each time 



A Corner 345 

that they said she had not yet come home. 
She would have liked to have Dick about. 
When Alice Bagsbury tiptoed into the room, she 
generally pretended to be asleep, for Alice's well- 
meant ministrations and inquiries were irritating. 

A little after four o'clock, she heard a step 
approaching her door, along the hall. It was 
a quiet tread, but the boards of the old floor 
creaked under it. For years she had known 
it better than any other, and in all those years 
it had never been unwelcome. But now it 
brought her back instantly to herself ; she was 
again the broken, quivering Harriet she had 
looked at so impersonally a little while ago. 
With a sudden impulse of fear she turned her 
face to the wall and closed her eyes. She knew 
now what she had been waiting for. 

The door opened almost silently ; then after a 
moment's pause Melville Sponley walked softly 
across the room and sat down upon the bed 
close beside her. But not until she felt his hand 
upon her forehead did she dare open her eyes 
and look at him. 

" How is it going ? " she asked, preventing 
the question that was on his lips. " I've waited 
all day to find out." 



346 The Banker and the Bear 

" Pretty well." 

"No, tell me everything. I'm not afraid 
of that." 

" I don't believe you are. I don't believe 
you're afraid of anything. But it isn't easy to 
tell. They've beaten us, Harriet. They closed 
me out just before noon. We're broke." 

She turned quickly away and buried her face 
in the pillow. 

"I thought I should never have to tell you 
anything like that," he went on, speaking slowly, 
for the words came hard. " I didn't think any- 
body could beat me." 

He paused and looked at her anxiously ; the 
effect of his words alarmed him a little. " I 
know I ought not to be talking to you about it 
now, but " 

" It isn't that," she interrupted quickly. 
"Please don't think it's that. It's something 
I've got to tell you that frightens me." 

His face told her that her words had puzzled 
him, but he only waited for her to go on. For 
a long time she did not speak. Courageous as 
she was, she could hardly force the words to her 
lips, for all her happiness hung on the way he 
should receive them. 



A Corner 347 

" This is it," she said monotonously : " I came 
here that night to tell John that there was going 
to be a run on his bank. So you see it was I 
who beat you. I did it because " 

"So that is what worried you ! " he exclaimed, 
catching both her hands in his. " Why, that 
didn't beat me. I knew you'd told him ; he said 
so. I've been proud of you ever since for that. 
It didn't occur to me to do it till later ; but when 
it did, I came around and warned him myself. 
Then he said you'd already told him." 

The tears brimmed from her eyes and mois- 
tened her hot cheeks. " Don't tell me any more. 
It doesn't matter. I'm happier than I thought 
I ever could be again." 

" So you were frightened because " 

" Don't," she pleaded ; " let's not talk about 
it at all. Let's agree never to speak at all about 
these days. It's all over, and this was the last." 

" Yes," he said slowly ; " we agreed that this 
was to be the last." 

She gazed into his face, eagerly at first, but 
soon the brightness died out of her eyes ; then 
she looked away, out through the dainty white 
curtain that hung before the window, at a patch 
of blue sky. 



348 The Banker and the Bear 

" I wasn't thinking of that," she said, with a 
smile on her lips. " Of course you can't stop 
after a defeat. I'd forgotten that it was a defeat. 
But you want to win again." 

" That makes me feel better. I hoped you'd 
feel that way about it. I know I can win, and 
I'd like to. And it'll only be one more." 

" Only one more," she echoed softly. Then 
she roused herself and said energetically : " I 
wish you'd get the carriage and take me home. 
I'm strong enough to go, really, and I want to 
get back there." 

Jack Dorlin has always accounted it a miracle 
of self-control that he stayed at the bank that 
day until he had finished up his day's work. 
But in spite of Dick's face, with its lurking 
dimple, that kept coming between him and his 
remittance ledgers, and her voice that was 
always in his ears, he did it. It will go without 
saying that when the last of the work was 
done, a little before five in the afternoon, that 
he made record-breaking speed straight to John 
Bagsbury's house. When he came near it, he 
was struck with a sudden incredulity concerning 
the astounding events of that morning. It was 



A Corner 349 

absurd to think that they had really happened. 
With true lover's insanity he took council with 
himself that he would assume nothing at all un- 
less Dick's behavior should give him the warrant. 

But when he came up the steps, and she 
opened the door for him 

There is nothing at all original about it, 
though they would dispute that statement vigor- 
ously, nothing that does not happen too many 
times to be worth telling, nothing that some 
persons do not know already, and others could 
not understand if it were told, about what they 
said and what they left unsaid as they lingered 
in that dark old hall. 

But when he started to open the door into the 
library, she checked him, saying in a whisper 
that John was there. 

"Well," said this lion-hearted lover, "let's go 
in and tell him." 

She protested for a little, but finally yielded, 
and together they entered the library. They 
thought that after what he had seen that morn- 
ing, he would understand, and certainly their 
faces as John looked at them should have told 
the story to any average intelligence. But John 
had once before narrowly escaped a disastrous 



3 SO The Banker and the Bear 

blunder through too confidently judging from 
appearances, and experience had made him 
cautious. 

So he did nothing to meet them halfway, and 
Jack, whose valor seemed to have remained out 
in the dark hall, had to stammer out the news a 
word at a time until the last. 

When John fairly understood, his confusion 
exceeded that of Jack Dorlin. He glanced 
furtively at the hall door as though meditating 
flight. When he saw, however, that nothing 
happened, he never could be induced to tell 
what he had expected that they would do, 
he sat down again. But as soon as possible he 
changed the subject of conversation, evidently 
still regarding it as dangerous. 

"We've had quite a day of it," he said, and 
they both assented cordially. 

" It seems to me that a literary fellow like 
you, Dorlin, might write up that time-lock busi- 
ness into a pretty good story." 

Jack said yes again, but this time more 
vaguely. " Of course," the Banker hastened to 
add, "you'd have to fix it up a little. You 
could have them blow the vault open with 
dynamite and kill the villain." 



A Corner 351 

Dick's hand stole into a larger one that had 
hidden itself under the fold of her skirt. 
" Come and play for me, Jack, until dinner- 
time," she said; then turning to the Banker, 
she added, " Don't you feel like some music, 
too?" 

But he understood. "No no run along," 
he said, and laughing they slipped away and 
left him alone in the library. 



AT YOU-ALL'S HOUSE 

By JAMES NEWTON BASKETT 
Introduction by Hamilton Wright Mabie 

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