“It is a close, hard game,” said Browning. Then there was silence, the candle burned out, and in a moment more both miners were asleep.
Making money at $4 per day.
The men awoke early, and, as Sedgwick had predicted, by six o’clock, the superintendent of the mine came down and went to the end of the drift. On his return to the lower station of the shaft, Sedgwick approached him, and holding out the bit of lagging, said in a low voice: “Mr. Mackay, there are a few words written on that. Will you not kindly carry them to the surface and read them?” Mr. Mackay took it and put it in the pocket of the gray shirt which he always wore in the mine, saying jokingly: “Tobacco needed on your watch?” “Worse, even,” answered Sedgwick, and walked away.
When the men were allowed to go above ground, five days later, they found that Consolidated Virginia had jumped from $4 to $11 per share. Sedgwick and Browning went straight to the bank and asked how their accounts stood. They found that $2,800 from one credit, and $3,200 from the other had been withdrawn. They looked at each other and smiled, but said nothing. Passing outside, they exchanged opinions and both concluded that if Mackay had bought the stock promptly, it must have doubled already. But both agreed that they would say nothing; rather, would let matters drift. So days and weeks rolled by, until finally the stock touched $30 per share, when one morning each received a note to call at the bank.
They went together, and were informed that 2,000 (old) shares of Consolidated Virginia had been placed to their credit, and that it was at their discretion to realize upon it, or permit it to remain longer. The news fairly took their breath away.
“How about making $30,000 at $4 per day, Jim?” said Browning.
“How about L5,000, the old barrister’s step-daughter, and the downs in Devonshire, Jack?” said Sedgwick.
They went to their room in the lodging house to talk over what was best to do.
“When we sell,” said Sedgwick, “I am going to Ohio.”
“And I to old England,” said Browning.
“And how can we give any expression of our gratitude to John Mackay?” asked Sedgwick.
“Let us go down and tender him half our stock,” said Browning.
“A good thought,” said Sedgwick. So down to the Consolidated Virginia office they went at once. They gained an instant interview with Mr. Mackay, and, thanking him warmly, told him they had thought it over, and determined that he was entitled to half their shares.
“That’s clever of you, boys,” said Mackay, “but that is too big a commission. How much did you say the order on the splinter had brought you?”
Sedgwick replied that they had 2,000 shares, and that the stock was selling at $30 on a rising market.