“At half-past 5 Andy comes in and sees the sleeping form.
“‘I’ve been over to Trenton,’ says Andy, pulling a document out of his pocket. ’I think I’ve got this matter fixed up all right, Jeff. Look at that.’
“I open the paper and see that it is a corporation charter issued by the State of New Jersey to ’The Peters & Tucker Consolidated and Amalgamated Aerial Franchise Development Company, Limited.’
“‘It’s to buy up rights of way for airship lines,’ explained Andy. ’The Legislature wasn’t in session, but I found a man at a postcard stand in the lobby that kept a stock of charters on hand. There are 100,000 shares,’ says Andy, ’expected to reach a par value of $1. I had one blank certificate of stock printed.’
“Andy takes out the blank and begins to fill it in with a fountain pen.
“‘The whole bunch,’ says he, ’goes to our friend in dreamland for $5,000. Did you learn his name?’
“‘Make it out to bearer,’ says I.
“We put the certificate of stock in the cigar man’s hand and went out to pack our suit cases.
[Illustration: “We put the certificate of stock in the cigarman’s hand.”]
“On the ferryboat Andy says to me: ’Is your conscience easy about taking the money now, Jeff?’
“‘Why shouldn’t it be?’ says I. ’Are we any better than any other Holding Corporation?’”
CONSCIENCE IN ART
“I never could hold my partner, Andy Tucker, down to legitimate ethics of pure swindling,” said Jeff Peters to me one day.
“Andy had too much imagination to be honest. He used to devise schemes of money-getting so fraudulent and high-financial that they wouldn’t have been allowed in the bylaws of a railroad rebate system.
“Myself, I never believed in taking any man’s dollars unless I gave him something for it—something in the way of rolled gold jewelry, garden seeds, lumbago lotion, stock certificates, stove polish or a crack on the head to show for his money. I guess I must have had New England ancestors away back and inherited some of their stanch and rugged fear of the police.
“But Andy’s family tree was in different kind. I don’t think he could have traced his descent any further back than a corporation.
“One summer while we was in the middle West, working down the Ohio valley with a line of family albums, headache powders and roach destroyer, Andy takes one of his notions of high and actionable financiering.
“‘Jeff,’ says he, ’I’ve been thinking that we ought to drop these rutabaga fanciers and give our attention to something more nourishing and prolific. If we keep on snapshooting these hinds for their egg money we’ll be classed as nature fakers. How about plunging into the fastnesses of the skyscraper country and biting some big bull caribous in the chest?’