“Phil,” he said, “there is another bank to the Silver Fork River.”
“But it is in your own plantation, and we knew the hopelessness of any proposition to you, Southerner that you are!”
“It would be at least nine miles from Ravenel House,” Frank answered, determinedly. “I find I have changed a great deal in my views of things lately,” and here he leaned forward on the table toward his friend. “De Peyster,” he said, “let us build the railroad together!”
DERMOTT DISCOVERS A NEW SIDE TO FRANK’S CHARACTER
The next morning news came to McDermott that his land on the Silver Fork was no longer desired by the newly formed company. It was nearly a fortnight, however, before he learned the railroad was to be built on the Ravenel side of the river.
The information came with abruptness from John Marix, a gaminlike broker, who encountered McDermott in the elevator to their mutual offices.
“Say, McDermott,” he cried, with a cheerful laugh, “Ravenel didn’t do a thing to you, did he? He didn’t do a thing to you!” he repeated, with a lively chuckle.
McDermott’s eyes were bland on the instant. He did not understand the little man’s meaning. What he did understand, always understood, however, was that he must never be taken off guard in the game of life.
“I am the football of the Street,” he said, with a kind of cheerful despondency. “Everybody does me!”
“Yes they do!” the other responded, derisively. “It’s because you’ve done everybody that we’re glad somebody’s got even for a minute! But”—dropping the bantering tone—“this Ravenel is something of a wonder. I was at the meeting of the new company to-day. He’s full of the scheme, knows every foot of the land, and is willing to put a whole bunch of money into it. We’ve elected him president of the concern.”
By the same afternoon the facts of the case were in McDermott’s possession, and the following morning, upon seeing Frank about to enter the De Peyster offices, he advanced toward him, hand outstretched. He was entirely unprepared for the manner in which he was received. Frank nodded to him slightingly, with the scant courtesy he might have accorded a domestic whom he disliked, and said, with directness, looking him squarely in the eyes, “I don’t care to shake hands with you, McDermott.”
Dermott regarded him steadily in return, the gray gleam in his eyes a bit brighter, the lines of his mouth harder. Whatever the grave faults of these two men may have been, there was not a whit of cowardice between them as they stood facing each other.
“So!” said Dermott. “So!” And yet a third time he repeated “so!”—his tone one of grave consideration. “Had another done what ye have just done, Mr. Ravenel,” he said, at length, “this little episode might not have ended so gayly. But for you I have so slight a respect that there’s nothing you could do to me that would make me call ye to account for it.” And, raising his hat high and jauntily, he said, with a laugh: “Good-morning, Ravenel!”