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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 287 pages of information about 100%.

“Yes, yes, of course.”

“They call you the `head money devil.’  They call you the financial king of American City.”

“King!” cried the banker.  “What rubbish!  Why, Gudge, that’s fool newspaper talk!  I’m a poor man today.  There are two dozen men in this city richer than I am, and who have more power.  Why—­” But the old man fell to coughing and became so exhausted that he sank back into his pillows until he recovered his breath.  Peter waited respectfully; but of course he wasn’t fooled.  Peter had carried on bargaining many times in his life, and had heard people proclaim their poverty and impotence.

“Now, Gudge,” the old man resumed.  “I don’t want to be killed; I tell you I don’t want to be killed.”

“No, of course not,” said Peter.  It was perfectly comprehensible to him that Mr. Ackerman didn’t want to be killed.  But Mr. Ackerman seemed to think it necessary to impress the idea upon him; in the course of the conversation he came back to it a number of times, and each time he said it with the same solemn assurance, as if it were a brand new idea, and a very unusual and startling idea.  “I don’t want to be killed, Gudge; I tell you I don’t want to let those fellows get me.  No, no; we’ve got to circumvent them, we’ve got to take precautions—­every precaution—­I tell you every possible precaution.”

“I’m here for that purpose, Mr. Ackerman,” said Peter, solemnly.  “I’ll do everything.  We’ll do everything, I’m sure.”

“What’s this about the police?” demanded the banker.  “What’s this about Guffey’s bureau?  You say they’re not competent?”

“Well now, I’ll tell you, Mr. Ackerman,” said Peter, “It’s a little embarrassing.  You see, they employ me—­”

“Nonsense!” exclaimed the other. “I employ you!  I’m putting up the money for this work, and I want the facts!—­I want them all.”

“Well,” said Peter, “they’ve been very decent to me—­”

“I say tell me everything!” exclaimed the old man.  He was a most irritable old man, and couldn’t stand for a minute not having what he asked for.  “What’s the matter with them?”

Peter answered, as humbly as he could:  “I could tell you a great deal that’d be of use to you, Mr. Ackerman, but you got to keep it between you and me.”

“All right!” said the other, quickly.  “What is it?”

“If you give a hint of it to anybody else,” persisted Peter, “then I’ll get fired.”

“You’ll not get fired, I’ll see to that.  If necessary I’ll hire you direct.”

“Ah, but you don’t understand, Mr. Ackerman.  It’s a machine, and you can’t run against it; you gotta understand it, you gotta handle it right.  I’d like to help you, and I know I can help you, but you gotta let me explain it, and you gotta understand some things.”

“All right,” said the old man.  “Go ahead, what is it?”

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