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The Early Bird: A Business Man's Love Story By George Randolph Chester Characters: 5685

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


Mr. Westlake dropped back with his old friend Stevens as they trailed into the parlor which Blackstone had secured.

"Are you going to subscribe rather heavily in the company, Stevens?" inquired Westlake, with the curiosity of a man who likes to have his own opinion corroborated by another man of good judgment.

"Well," replied the father of Miss Josephine, "I think of taking a rather solid little block of stock. I believe I can spare twenty-five thousand dollars to invest in almost any company Sam Turner wants to start."

"He's a fine boy," agreed Westlake. "A square, straight young fellow, a good business man, and a hustler. I see him playing tennis with my girl every day, and she seems to think a lot of him."

"He's bound to make his mark," Mr. Stevens acquiesced, sharply suppressing a fool impulse to speak of his own daughter. "Do you fellows intend to let him secure control of this company?"

"I should say not!" replied Westlake, with such unnecessary emphasis that Stevens looked at him with sudden suspicion. He knew enough about old Westlake to "copper" his especially emphatic statements.

"Are you agreeable to Princeman's plan to pool all stock but Turner's?"

"Well-we can talk about that later."

"Huh!" grunted Mr. Stevens, and together the two heavy-weights, Stevens with his aggressive beard suddenly pointed a trifle more straight out, and Mr. Westlake with his placidity even more marked than usual, stalked on into the parlor, where Mr. Blackstone, taking the chair pro tem., read them the preliminary agreement he had drawn up; upon which Sam Turner immediately started to wrangle, a proceeding which proved altogether in vain.

The best he could get for patents and promotion was two thousand out of the five thousand shares of common stock, and finally he gave in, knowing that he could not secure the right kind of men on better terms. Mr. Blackstone thereupon offered a subscription list, to which every man present solemnly appended his name opposite the number of shares he would take. Sam, at the last moment, put down his own name for a block of stock which meant a cash investment of considerably more than he had originally figured upon. He cast up the list hurriedly. Five hundred shares of preferred, carrying half that much common, were still to be subscribed. With whom could he combine to obtain control? The only men who had subscribed enough for that purpose were Princeman, who was out of the question, and, in fact, would be the leader of the opposition, and Westlake. The highest of the others were Creamer, Cuthbert and Stevens. Sam would have to subscribe for the entire five hundred in order to make these men available to him.

McComas and Blackstone had only subscribed for the same amount as Sam. They could do him no good, and he knew

it was hopeless to attempt to get two men to join with him. He looked over at Westlake. That gentleman was smiling like a placid cherub, all innocence without, and kindliness and good deeds; but there was nevertheless something fishy about Westlake's eyes, and Sam, in memory, cast over a list of maimed and wounded and crushed who had come in Westlake's business way. The logical candidate was Stevens. Stevens simply had to take enough stock to overbalance this thing, then he simply must vote his stock with Sam's! That was all there was to it! Sam did not pause to worry about how he was to gain over Stevens' consent, but he had an intuitive feeling that this was his only chance.

"Stevens," said he briskly, "there are five hundred shares left. I'll take half of it if you'll take the other half."

His brother Jack looked at him startled. Their total holdings, in that case, would mean an investment of more money than they could spare from their other operations. It would cramp them tremendously, but Jack ventured no objections. He had seen Sam at the helm in decisive places too often to interfere with him, either by word or look. As a matter of fact such a proceeding was not safe anyhow.

"I don't mind-" began Westlake, slowly fixing a beaming eye upon Sam, and crossing his hands ponderously upon his periphery; but before he could announce his benevolent intention, Mr. Stevens, with what might almost have been considered a malevolent glance toward Mr. Westlake, spoke up.

"I'll accept your proposition," he said with a jerk of his beard as his jaws snapped. So Miss Westlake thought a great deal of Sam, eh? And old Westlake knew it, eh? And he had already subscribed enough stock to throw Sam control, eh?

"Thanks," said Sam, and shot Mr. Stevens a look of gratitude as he altered the subscription figures.

"Stop just a moment, Sam," put in Mr. Westlake. "How many shares of common stock does that give you in combination with your bonus?"

"Two thousand two hundred and sixty," said Sam.

"Oh!" said Mr. Westlake musingly; "not enough for control by two hundred and forty one shares; so you won't mind, since you haven't enough for control anyhow, if I take up that additional two hundred and fifty shares of preferred, with its one hundred and twenty-five of common, myself."

Sam once more paused and glanced over the subscription list. As it stood now, aside from Princeman, there were two members, Westlake and Stevens, with whom, if he could get either one of them to do so, he could pool his common stock. If he allowed Westlake to take up this additional two hundred and fifty shares, Westlake was the only string to his bow.

"No, thanks," said Sam. "I prefer to keep them myself. It seems to me to be a very fair and equitable division just as it is."

In the end it stood just that way.

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