The shareholders in the Tafila Copper Mining Company, Limited, must not look for a dividend of more than six, or at the utmost seven, per cent.
“Well,” interrupted Mascarin, “what do you think of this for a beginning?”
“It seems fair enough,” answered De Croisenois, “but suppose others than those whose names you have in your black list take shares, what do you say we are to do then?”
“We should simply decline to allot shares to them, that is all. See the Article XX. in the Articles of Association. ’The Board of Directors may decline to allot shares to applicants without giving any reason for so doing.’”
“And suppose,” continued the Marquis, “that one of our own people dispose of his share, may we not find our new shareholder a thorn in our side?”
“Article XXI. ’No transfer of stock is valid, unless passed by the Board of Directors, and recorded in the books of the Company,’” read out Mascarin.
“And how will the game be brought to a conclusion?”
“Easily enough. You will advertise one morning that two-thirds of the capital having been unsuccessfully sunk in the enterprise, you are compelled to apply for a winding-up of the Company under Article XVII. Six months afterwards you will announce that the liquidation of the Company has, after all expenses have been paid, left no balance whatsoever. Then you wash your hands of the whole thing, and the matter is at an end.”
Croisenois felt that he had no ground to stand upon, but he ventured on one more objection.
“It seems rather a strange thing to launch this enterprise at the present moment. May it not interfere with my marriage prospects? and may not the Count de Mussidan decline to give me his daughter and risk her dowry in this manner? One moment, I—”
The agent sneered and cut short the tergiversations of the Marquis.
“You mean, I suppose,” said he, “that when once you are safely married and have received Mademoiselle Sabine’s dowry, you will take leave of us. Not so, my dear young friend; and if this is your idea, put it aside, for it is utter nonsense. I should hold you then as I do now.”
The Marquis saw that any further struggle would be of no avail, and gave in.
* * * * *
That evening, when M. Martin Rigal emerged from his private office, his daughter Flavia was more than usually demonstrative in her tokens of affection. “How fondly I love you, my dearest father!” said she, as she rained kisses on his cheeks. “How good you are to me!” but on this occasion the banker was too much preoccupied to ask his daughter the reason for this extreme tenderness on her part.
THE VEILED PORTRAIT.