That this gentleman did not regard himself as out of the race was proved by his tactics the next morning. Before reaching the city he joined Mr. Muir in the smoking section of a parlor car, and easily directed their talk to the peculiar condition of business. Mr. Muir knew little in favor of his companion, and not much against him, but devoutly hoped that he would be the winning man in the contest for Miss Wildmere. He also knew that the firm to which Mr. Arnault belonged had held their heads well up in the fluctuations of the street. Both gentlemen deplored the present state of affairs, and hoped that there might soon be more confidence. “By the way, Mr. Muir,” Mr. Arnault remarked, casually, “if you need accommodation we have some money lying idle for a short time, which we would like to put out as a call loan, and would be glad to place it in good conservative hands, like yours.”
“Thank you,” said Mr. Muir, with some cordiality.
He went to his office and looked matters over carefully. He was convinced that a crisis was approaching. More money was required immediately, since the securities in which he had invested had declined still further. He had not lost his faith in them at all, knowing that they had a solid basis, and would be among the first to rise in value with returning confidence. He had gone so far and held on so long that it was a terrible thing to give up now. Comparatively little money would probably carry him over to perfect safety, but his means were tied up, the banks stringent, and he had already strained his credit somewhat. Mr. Arnault’s proffer occurred to him again, and at last, much as he disliked the expedient, he called upon the broker, who was affable, off-hand, and business-like.
“Yes, Mr. Muir,” he said, “I can let you have thirty thousand just as well as not; as the times are, I would like some security, however.”
“Certainly, here are bonds marketable to-day, although depressed unnaturally. You are aware that they will be among the first to appreciate.”
“In ordinary times one would think so.”
“How soon do you think you may call in this loan?”
“Well, the probabilities are, that you may keep it as long as you wish, at the rates named. They are stiff, I know, but not above the market.”
Mr. Muir had thought it over. If he failed he was satisfied that his assets would eventually make good every dollar he owed, with interest, while, on the other hand, even the small sum named promised to preserve his fortune and add very largely to his wealth. The transaction was soon completed.