I was ushered into Mr. Harding’s private office immediately on our return. The magnate was in his shirt sleeves. His mouth was set in stern lines and his dark hair tousled as if he had just emerged from deadly physical combat. As I entered the room his features relaxed and then he laughed. It was the roar of the lion who raises his head for a moment from his stricken quarry.
“We won this foursome, Smith, ten up and eight to play,” he said. “Sit down and I’ll tell you how we stand. I put the market up to 175. Could have put it to a thousand if it had been necessary, but what’s the use? There is a short interest of 60,000 shares. Most of them are in the outer offices waiting to come in and settle. I’m going to let ’em off easy, Smith. Those who were extra dirty will settle at 200, and I’ve made a sliding scale down to 150, which is about what N.O. & G. is actually worth as an investment. Outside of your original 45,000 shares you have profits coming to you on about 20,000 shares which I bought for you at various figures on the way up. Roughly speaking it will net you somewhere between a million and a half and two millions, depending on how merciful we are to your ‘conspirators.’ How much will it cost you to take up your 45,000 shares?”
[Illustration: “Ten up and eight to play”]
I consulted the statement of my account with Morse & Davis, my brokers in these transactions.
“I have paid them $1,525,000, which margined it down to 30,” I said. “In order to take the stock up I must pay them about $1,375,000 more, making my investment in N.O. & G. a total of $2,900,000.”
“Tell you what I’ll do, Smith,” said Mr. Harding. “If you care to get out of this deal I’ll take that block of 45,000 shares off your hands at $150 a share. That’s $6,750,000,” he concluded after making a rapid calculation.
“Thank you,” I said, “but I’ve decided to hold it as an investment and go into the railroad business.”
“Good for you, Smith!” he heartily exclaimed. “Mark my prediction; N.O. & G. will go to 200 before the first of the year. You’ve done fairly well for a beginner, my boy. Your investment and the contributions of the wicked ‘conspirators’ net you between five and six millions. That’s better than sweating over that ‘Bronze Gent,’ now isn’t it?”
The magnitude of my winnings nearly took my breath, and I fear that my expression and words showed it.
“You’ll have to get out of here now, Smith,” said Mr. Harding, glancing at his watch. “Take the folks for a ride or something to entertain them, and come back here at 5:30. Then we’ll all go to dinner somewhere and take the nine o’clock train for Woodvale.”
I AM ENTIRELY SATISFIED
For an hour I have been seated at a table on the veranda of the Woodvale club house looking over the pages of this diary.