“But we can buy the plant to-morrow, at a very reasonable figure. Farley is anxious enough to come in out of the wet.”
“Excuse me, Mr. Dracott, but you can’t buy the plant at any price.”
“Eh? Why can’t we?”
“Because the majority of the stock will vote to fight you to a standstill.”
“But, my dear sir! Mr. Farley controls sixty-five per cent. of the stock!”
“That is where you were lied to one more time,” said Tom with great coolness. “The capital stock of Chiawassee Limited is divided into one thousand shares, all distributed. My father holds three hundred and fifty shares; Mr. Farley and his son together own four hundred and fifty; and the remaining two hundred are held in trust for Miss Ardea Dabney, to become her property in fee simple when she marries. Pending her marriage, which is currently supposed to be near at hand, the voting power of these two hundred shares resides in Miss Dabney’s grandfather, and my father holds his proxy.”
This was the thunderbolt Tom had been forging during those quiet days spent on the mountain side; and there was another pause while one might count ten. After which the man from New York spoke his mind freely.
“Your row with these people must be pretty bitter, Mr. Gordon. Are you willing to see your father and these Dabneys go by the board for the sake of breaking the president and his son?”
“I know what I am doing,” was the quiet reply. “Neither my father nor Miss Dabney will lose anything that is worth keeping.”
“Have you figured that out, too? The field is too small for you down here, Mr. Gordon—much too small. You should come to New York.”
Tom rose and took his hat.
“You will fight us?” he asked.
The short-circuiter of corporations laughed.
“We’ll put you out of business, if you insist on it. Anything to oblige. Better light a fresh cigar before you go.”
Tom helped himself from the box on the table.
“You have it to do, Mr. Dracott. On the day you have hammered Chiawassee Limited down to a dead proposition, you can have my pipe patents at the figure named. If you will meet me at the office of Hanchett, Goodloe and Tryson to-morrow morning at ten o’clock, we will put it in writing. Good night.”
THE SMOKE OF THE FURNACE
Hoping always for the best, after the manner prescribed for optimistic gentlemen who successfully exploit their fellows, Mr. Duxbury Farley did not deem it necessary to confide fully in his son when the representative of American Aqueduct broke off negotiations abruptly and went back to New York.
It is a sad state of affairs, reached by respectably villainous fathers the world over, when the son demonstrates the mathematical law of progression by becoming a villain without regard for the respectabilities. Mr. Farley saw the growing outlaw in his son, was not a little disturbed thereby, and was beginning to crouch when it menaced.