“Because, Alan Vernon, I am sure you don’t want to see your name dragged in the dirt, any more than I do.” He fumbled in a drawer and produced a typewritten document. “Take that,” he said, “and study it at your leisure. It’s a sketch of the financial career of Messrs. Aylward and Champers-Haswell, also of the companies which they have promoted and been connected with, and what has happened to them and to those who invested in them. A man got it out for me yesterday and I’m going to use it. As regards this Sahara business, you think it all right, and so it may be from an engineering point of view, but you will never live to sail upon that sea which the British public is going to be asked to find so many millions to make. Look here. We have only three minutes more, so I will come to the point at once. It’s Turkish territory, isn’t it, and putting aside everything else, the security for the whole thing is a Firman from the Sultan?”
“Yes, Sir Robert Aylward and Haswell procured it in Constantinople. I have seen the document.”
“Indeed, and are you well acquainted with the Sultan’s signature? I know when they were there last autumn that potentate was very ill——”
“You mean——” said Major Vernon, looking up.
“I mean, Alan, that I like not the security. I won’t say any more, as there is a law of libel in this land. But The Judge has certain sources of information. It may be that no protest will be made at once, for baksheesh can stop it for a while, but sooner or later the protest or repudiation will come, and perhaps some international bother; also much scandal. As to the scheme itself, it is shamelessly over-capitalized for the benefit of the promoters—of whom, remember, Alan, you will appear as one. Now time’s up. Perhaps you will take my advice, and perhaps you won’t, but there it is for what it’s worth as that of a man of the world and an old friend of your family. As for your puff article and your prospectus, I wouldn’t put them in The Judge if you paid me a thousand pounds, which I daresay your friend, Aylward, would be quite ready to do. Good-bye. Come and see me again sometime, and tell me what has happened—and, I say”—this last was shouted through the closing door,—“give my kind regards to Miss Barbara, for wherever she happens to live, she is an honest woman.”
THE YELLOW GOD
Alan Vernon walked thoughtfully down the lead-covered stairs, hustled by eager gentlemen hurrying up to see the great editor, whose bell was already ringing furiously, and was duly ushered by the obsequious assistant-chauffeur back into the luxurious motor. There was an electric lamp in this motor, and by the light of it, his mind being perplexed, he began to read the typewritten document given to him by Mr. Jackson, which he still held in his hand.