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   Chapter 27 No.27

What Might Have Been Expected By Frank Richard Stockton Characters: 6982

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:04


How Something Came to an End.

The mica-mine management appeared to be thoroughly in earnest about this extension of the telegraph line. As soon as the assent of the Board of Managers to the scheme had been communicated to them, they sent a note to Harry suggesting that he should, in the name of his company, get the written consent of owners of the lands over which the line would pass to the construction of said line on their property. This business was soon settled, for none of the owners of the farms between the mines and Hetertown, all of whom were well acquainted with Mr. Loudon (and no man in that part of the country was held in higher estimation by his neighbors), had the slightest objection to the boys putting up their telegraph line on their lands.

When Harry had secured the necessary promises, the construction of the line was commenced forthwith. The boys had very little trouble with it. Mr. Martin got together a gang of men, with an experienced man to direct them, and came down with them to Akeville, where Harry hired them; and finding that the foreman understood the business, he told him to go to work and put up the line. When paydays came around, Harry gave each man an order for his money on the Mica Mine Company, and their wages were paid them by Mr. Martin.

It was not very long before the line was constructed and the instruments were in working order in Hetertown and at the mica mines. There was a person at the latter place who understood telegraphy, and he attended to the business at that end of the line, while Mr. Lyons worked the instruments at the Hetertown station, which was in the same building with the regular telegraph line.

It was agreed that the Mica Company should keep an account of all messages sent by them over the line, and should credit the Crooked Creek Telegraph Company with the amount due in payment, after deducting necessary expenses, hire of operators', and six per cent. on the capital advanced.

Everything having been arranged on this basis, the extended line went into operation, without regard to the amount of water in the creek, and old Miles carried no more telegrams to Hetertown.

The telegraph business, however, became much less interesting to Kate and the boys. It seemed to them as if it had been taken entirely out of their hands, which was, indeed, the true state of the case. They were the nominal owners and directors of the line, but they had nothing to direct, and very vague ideas about the value of the property they owned.

"I don't know," said Tom Selden, as he sat one afternoon in Mr. Loudon's yard, with Harry and Kate, "whether we've made much by this business or not. Those mica people keep all the accounts and do all the charging, and if they want to cheat us, I don't see what's to hinder them."

"But you know," said Harry, "that we can examine their accounts; and, besides, Mr. Lyons will keep a tally of all the messages sent, and I don't believe that he would cheat us."

"No; I don't suppose he would," said Tom; "but I liked the old way best. There was more fun in it."

"Yes, there was," said Kate; "and then we helped old Lewston and Aunt Judy. I expect they'll miss the money they got for rent."

"Certainly," said Harry. "They'll have to deny themselves many a luxury in consequence of the loss of that dollar a month."

"Now you're making fun," said Kate; "but twelve dollars a year is a good deal to those poor people."

"I suppose it is," said Harry.

"In fifty years, it would be six hundred dollars, if they saved it all up, and that is a good deal of money, even to us rich folks."

"Rich!" said Kate. "We're so dreadfully rich that I have only forty-two cents left of Aunt Matilda's money, and I must have some very soon."

The consequence of this conversation was that Harry had to ride over to the mica mines and get a small advance on the payment due at the end of the month.

The end of the month arrived, and the settlement was made. When the interest on the money advanced to put up the line, hire of operators, and other expenses, had been deducted from the amount due the Crooked Creek Company, there was only two dollars and a quarter to be paid to it!

Harry was astounded. He took the money, rode back to Akeville, and hastened to have a consultation with Kate. For the first time since he became a guardian, he was in despair. This money was not enough for Aunt Matilda's needs, and if it had been, there were stockholders who were expecting great things from the recent extension of the line. What was to be said to them?

Harry did not know, and Kate could suggest nothing. It appeared to be quite plain that they had made a very bad business of this telegraphic affair. A meeting of the Board was called, and when each member had had his say, matters appeared worse than ever.

It was a very blue time for our friends.

As for Kate, she cried a good deal that afternoon.

The time had at last come when she felt they would have to give up Aunt Matilda. She was sure, if they had never started this telegraphic company, they might have struggled through the winter, but now there were stockholders and creditors and she did not know what all. She only knew that it was too much for them.

Three days after this, Harry received a note from Mr. Martin. When he read it, he gave a shout that brought everybody out of the house-Kate first. When she read the note, which she took from Harry as he was waving it around his head, she stood bewildered. She could not comprehend it.

And yet it simply contained a proposition from the Mica Mine Company to buy the Crooked Creek Telegraph Line, with all its rights and privileges, assuming all debts and liabilities, and to pay therefor the sum of three hundred and fifty dollars in cash!

* * *

Two days afterward, the line was formally sold to the Mica Company, and the Crooked Creek Telegraph Company came to an end.

When accounts were settled, Aunt Matilda's share of the proceeds of the sale were found to amount to two hundred and sixty-two dollars and fifty cents, which Kate deposited with Mr. Darby for safe keeping.

It was only the sky that now looked blue to Harry and Kate.

The Akeville people were a good deal surprised at this apparently singular transaction on the part of the Mica Company, but before long, their reasons for helping the boys to put up their line and then buying it, became plain enough.

The Mica Company had invested a large capital in mines and lands, and the business required telegraphic communication with the North. The managers knew that they might have a good deal of trouble to get permission to put up their line on the lands between the mines and Hetertown, and so they wisely helped the boys to put up the line, and then bought it of them, with all their rights and privileges.

There was probably some sharp practice in this transaction, but our young friends and Aunt Matilda profited by it.

* * *

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