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The Early Bird: A Business Man's Love Story By George Randolph Chester Characters: 13231

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


Before Sam had his breakfast the next morning, he sat in his room with some figures with which Blackrock and Cuthbert had provided him the evening before. He cast them up and down and crosswise and diagonally, balanced them and juggled them and sorted them and shifted them, until at last he found the rat hole, and smiling grimly, placed those pages of neat figures in a small letter file which he took from his trunk. One thing was certain: the Meadow Brook capitalists were highly interested in his plan, or they would never go to the trouble to devise, so early in the game, a scheme for gaining control of the marsh pulp corporation. Well, they were the exact people he wanted.

Immediately after breakfast Miss Stevens telephoned over to thank him for his beautiful roses, and he had the pleasure of letting her know, quite incidentally, that he had gone down to the rose-beds and picked out each individual blossom himself, which, of course, accounted for their excellence. Also he suggested coming over that morning for a brief walk.

No, she was very sorry, but she was just making ready to go out horseback riding with Mr. Hollis, who, by the way, was an excellent rider; but they would be back from their canter about ten-thirty, and if Mr. Turner cared to come over for a game of tennis before luncheon, why-

"Sorry I can't do it," returned Mr. Turner with the deepest of genuine regret in his tone. "My kid brother is sending me some samples of pulp and paper which will arrive at about eleven o'clock, and I have called a meeting of some interested parties here to examine them at about eleven."

"Business again," she protested. "I thought you were on a vacation."

"I am," he assured her in surprise. "I never lazied around so or frittered up so much time in my life; and I'm enjoying every second of my freedom, too. I tell you, it's fine. But say, this meeting won't take over an hour. Why can't I come over right after lunch?"

She was very sorry, this time a little less regretfully, that after luncheon she had an engagement with Mr. Princeman to play a match game of croquet. But, and here she relented a trifle, they were getting up a hasty, informal dance over at Hollis Creek for that evening. Would he come over?

He certainly would, and he already spoke for as many dances as she would give him.

"I'll give you what I can," she told him; "but I've already promised three of them to Billy Westlake, who is a divine dancer."

Sam Turner was deeply thoughtful as he turned away from the telephone. Hollis was a superb horseback rider. Billy Westlake was a divine dancer. Princeman, he had learned from Miss Stevens, who had spoken with vast enthusiasm, was a base-ball hero. Hollis and Princeman and Westlake were crack bowlers, also crack tennis players, and no doubt all three were even expert croquet players. It was easy to see the sort of men she admired. Sam Turner only knew one recipe to get things, and he had made up his mind to have Miss Stevens. He promptly sought Miss Westlake.

"Do you ride?" he wanted to know.

"Not as often as I'd like," she said.

Really, she had half promised to go driving with Tilloughby, but it was not an actual promise, and if it were she was quite willing to get out of it, if Mr. Turner wanted her to go along, although she did not say so. Young Tilloughby was notoriously an impossible match. But possibly Mr. Tilloughby and Miss Hastings might care to join the party. She suggested it.

"Why, certainly," said Sam heartily. "The more the merrier," which was not the thing she wanted him to say.

Tilloughby, a trifle disappointed yet very gracious, consented to ride in place of drive, and Miss Hastings was only too delighted; entirely too much so, Miss Westlake thought. Accordingly they rode, and Sam insisted on lagging behind with Miss Westlake, which she took to be of considerable significance, and exhibited a very obvious fluttering about it. Sam's motive, however, was to watch Tilloughby in the saddle, for in their conversation it had developed that Tilloughby was a very fair rider; and everything that he saw Tilloughby do, Sam did. En route they met Hollis and Miss Stevens, cantering just where the Bald Hill road branched off, and the cavalcade was increased to six. Once, in taking a narrow cross-cut down through the woods, Sam had the felicity of riding beside Miss Stevens for a moment, and she put her hand on his horse and patted its glossy neck and admired it, while Sam admired the hand. He felt, in some way or other, that riding for that ten yards by her side was a sort of triumph over Hollis, until he saw her dash up presently by the side of Hollis again and chat brightly with that young gentleman.

Thereafter Sam quit watching Tilloughby and watched Hollis. Curly-head was an accomplished rider, and Sam felt that he himself cut but an awkward figure. In reality he was too conscious of his defects. By strict attention he was proving himself a fair ordinary rider, but when Hollis, out of sheer showiness, turned aside from the path to jump his horse over a fallen tree, and Miss Stevens out of bravado followed him, Sam Turner well-nigh ground his teeth, and, acting upon the impulse, he too attempted the jump. The horse got over safely, but Sam went a cropper over his head, and not being a particle hurt had to endure the good-natured laughter of the balance of them. Miss Stevens seemed as much amused as any one! He had not caught her look of fright as he fell nor of concern as he rose, nor could he estimate that her laugh was a mild form of hysteria, encouraged because it would deceive. What an ass he was, he savagely thought, to exhibit himself before her in an attempt like that, without sufficient preparation! He must ride every morning, by himself.

Miss Josephine and Mr. Hollis were bound for the Bald Hill circle, and they insisted, the insistence being largely on the part of Miss Stevens, on the others accompanying them; but Mr. Turner's engagement at eleven o'clock would not admit of this, and reluctantly he took Miss Hastings back with him, leaving Miss Westlake and young Tilloughby to go on. The arrangement suited him very well, for at least Hollis' ride with Miss Stevens would not be a tête-à-tête. Miss Westlake strove to let him understand as plainly as she could that she was only going with Mr. Tilloughby because of her previous semi-engagement with him-and there seemed a coolness between Miss Westlake and Miss Hastings as they separated. Miss Hastings did her best on the way back to console Mr. Turner for th

e absence of Miss Westlake. Vivacious as she always was, she never was more so than now, and before Sam knew it he had engaged himself with her to gather ferns in the afternoon.

Upon his arrival at Meadow Brook, he found his express package and also a couple of important letters awaiting him, and immediately held on the porch a full meeting of the tentative Marsh Pulp Company. In that meeting he decided on four things: first, that these hard-headed men of business were highly favorable to his scheme; second, that Princeman and Cuthbert, who knew most about paper and pulp, were so profoundly impressed with his samples that they tried to conceal it from him; third, that Princeman, at first his warmest adherent, was now most stubbornly opposed to him, not that he wished to prevent forming the company, but that he wished to prevent Sam's having his own way; fourth, that the crowd had talked it over and had firmly determined that Sam should not control their money. Princeman was especially severe.

"There is no question but that these samples are convincing of their own excellence," he admitted; "but properly to estimate the value of both pulp and paper, it would be necessary to know, by rigid experiment, the precise difficulties of manufacture, to say nothing of the manner in which these particular specimens were produced."

Mr. Princeman's words had undoubted weight, casting, as they did, a clammy suspicion upon Sam's samples.

"I had thought of that," confessed Mr. Turner, "and had I not been prepared to meet such a natural doubt, to say nothing of such a natural insinuation, I should never have submitted these samples. Mr. Princeman, do you know G. W. Creamer of the Eureka Paper Mills?"

Mr. Princeman, with a wince, did, for G. W. Creamer and the Eureka Paper Mills were his most successful competitors in the manufacture of special-priced high-grade papers. Mr. Cuthbert also knew Mr. Creamer intimately.

"Good," said Sam; "then Mr. Creamer's letter will have some weight," and he turned it over to Mr. Blackrock. That gentleman, setting his spectacles astride his nose and assuming his most profoundly professional air, read aloud the letter in which Mr. Creamer thanked Turner and Turner for reposing confidence enough in him to reveal their process and permit him to make experiments, and stated, with many convincing facts and figures, that he had made several separate samples of the pulp in his experimental shop, and from the pulp had made paper, samples of which he enclosed under separate cover, stating further that the pulp could be manufactured far cheaper than wood pulp, and that the quality of the paper, in his estimation, was even superior; and when the company was formed, he wished to be set down for a good, fat block of stock.

Having submitted exhibit A in the form of his brother's samples of pulp and paper, exhibit B in the form of Mr. Creamer's letter, and exhibit C in the form of Mr. Creamer's own samples of pulp and paper, Mr. Turner rested quite comfortably in his chair, thank you.

"This seems to make the thing positive," admitted Mr. Princeman. "Mr. Turner, would you mind sending some samples of your material to my factory with the necessary instructions?"

"Not at all," replied Sam suavely. "We would be pleased indeed to do so, just as soon as our patents are allowed."

"Pending that," suggested Mr. Westlake placidly, looking out over the brook, "why couldn't we organize a sort of tentative company? Why couldn't we at least canvass ourselves and see how much of Mr. Turner's stock we would take up among us?"

"That is," put in Mr. Cuthbert, screwing the remark out of himself sidewise, "provided the terms of incorporation and promotion were satisfactory to us."

"I have already drawn up a sort of preliminary proposition, after consultation with our friends here," Mr. Blackrock now stated, "and purely as a tentative matter it might be read."

"Go right ahead," directed Sam. "I'm a good listener."

Mr. Blackrock slowly and ponderously read the proposed plan of incorporation. Sam rose and looked at his watch.

"It won't do," he announced sharply. "That whole thing, in accordance with the figures you submitted me last night, is framed up for the sole purpose of preventing my ever securing control, and if I do not have a chance, at least, at control, I won't play."

"You seem to be very sure of that," said Mr. Princeman, surveying him coldly; "but there is another thing equally sure, and that is that you can not engage capital in as big an enterprise as this on any basis which will separate the control and the money."

"I'm going to try it, though," retorted Sam. "If I can't separate the control and the money I suppose I'll have to put up with the best terms I can get. If you will let me have that prospectus of yours, Mr. Blackrock, I'll take it up to my room and study it, and draw up a counter prospectus of my own."

"With pleasure," said Mr. Blackrock, handing it over courteously, and Mr. Turner rose.

"I'll say this much, Sam," stated Mr. Westlake, who seemed to have grown more friendly as Mr. Princeman grew cooler; "if you can get a proposition upon which we are all agreed, I'll take fifty thousand of that stock myself, at fifty."

"As a matter of fact, Mr. Turner," added Mr. Cuthbert, "including your friend Creamer, who insists upon being in, I imagine that we can finance your entire company right in this crowd-if the terms are right."

"Nothing would give me greater pleasure, I'm sure," said Mr. Turner, and bowed himself away.

In place of going to his room, however, he went to the telegraph office, and wired his brother in New York:

"How are you coming on with pulp company stock subscription?"

The telegraph office was in one corner of the post-office, which was also a souvenir room, with candy and cigar counters, and as he turned away from the telegraph desk he saw Princeman at the candy counter.

"No, I don't care for any of these," Princeman was saying. "If you haven't maraschino chocolates I don't want any."

Sam immediately stepped back to the telegraph desk and sent another wire to his brother:

"Express fresh box maraschino chocolates to Miss Josephine Stevens Hollis Creek Inn enclose my card personal cards in upper right-hand pigeonhole my desk."

Then he went up-stairs to get ready for lunch. Immediately after luncheon he received the following wire from his brother:

"Stock subscription rotten everybody likes scheme but object to our control but no hurry why don't you rest maraschinos shipped congratulate you."

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