The signers of the cablegram were young bankers and brokers, occupying sumptuous quarters on Threadneedle Street, in sight of the Bank of England, the Exchange, and the Mansion House or official residence of the Lord Mayor of London. The fathers of each member of the firm had been at the head of great banking houses in London for many years, and after herculean efforts, their banks had failed. These young men had united families and forces, and resolved to win again a financial standing in the world’s metropolis. Shrewdly they had opened a score of branch offices in different parts of London and county; besides they had added a brokerage business, which had drifted into an extensive specialty of promoting syndicates in America and the colonies. Their success in handling high grade manufacturing plants had been phenomenal. Already at this business they had netted two million pounds. Reliable and expert accountants were always sent by them to examine thoroughly a client’s ledgers. Already, bonds that carried the approval of Guerney & Barring, found ready market on Lombard, Prince, and other financial streets near the Bank of England.
Colonel Harris relighted his cigar and queried to himself, “What ought I to charge these Englishmen for a property that cost barely two millions, but that has brought to the Harris family, annually for ten years, an average of 30%, or $600,000?” At first he had fixed upon six millions as a fair price, and then finally upon five million dollars. While he thus reflected, he fell asleep. It was after eleven o’clock when the Waldorf attendant caught him, or he would have fallen from his chair to the floor. Colonel Harris gave him a piece of silver, and retired for the night.
HUGH SEARLES OF LONDON ARRIVES
The next day was Sunday, and the Harris family slept late. Jean was first to rise, and buying the morning papers left them at Colonel Harris’s door.
It was almost nine o’clock when the family gathered in their private dining-room. The night’s sleep had refreshed all. The mother was very cheerful over her coffee, and heartily enjoyed planning for the day. She liked New York best of the American cities. Brown stone and marble fronts, fine equipage and dress, had charms for her, that almost made her forget a pleasant home and duties at Harrisville. She was heart and soul in her husband’s newest scheme to close out business, and devote the balance of life to politics and society. Naturally therefore the table-talk drifted to a discussion of the possible causes of the steamer’s delay.
Lucille looked up, and said, “Father, the Tribune says, ’Fair weather for New England and the Atlantic coast.’ Cheer up! The ‘Majestic’ will bring your Englishman in, I think. This is a lovely day to be in the metropolis. Come father, let me sweeten your coffee. One or two lumps?”