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COL. STORKE'S STOOL PIGEON.
A BOOM STORY.
By Franklin Austin.
"There was one man who went through the Los
Angeles boom and did not know it was on,"
said Joe Thompson as we sat sipping our wine
"Impossible," I exclaimed in surprise.
"It's a fact 1 assure you. The strange part 01
it is the boom made him rich and he doesn t know
to this day how it happened. His name is Chris
topher Sykes, the most absent-minded man I ever
knew always wool-gathering. Id e is a philos
opher in his way and a mighty good writer. His
pen was always in demand.
"Mrs. Sykes is a bright nervous little woman
and intensely practical in her ways. Her hus
band's absent-mindedness and deliberation is a
constant source of exasperation to her. She is
always scolding him but without effect in curing
his excentricities ; yet it was easily apparent that
she sincerely and devotedly loved her 'old fool'
as she good naturedly called him."
"It was commonly known that Christopher
Sykes had hell on the brain. That is the tend
ency of his philosophical turn ot mind. He has
been ten years writing a book on hell to my cer
"Shortly after the boom broke out I started a
literary bureau and employed a start ot writers
to turn out boom pamphlets and Sykes was the
best writer I had.
"Col. Cyrus Storke, a heavy real estate man,
was a product of the boom. He is a tall, raw
boned, red-headed and has a fierce sandy mus
tache with bright piercing eyes credited with the
power of hypnotizing a sucker at long range and
he was the nerviest real estate man in all Los
"One day I observed the Colonel standing on
the side-walk opposite my office with his hands
deep in his trouser's pockets. When Sykes came
out to go to lunch he scrutinized him trom head
to foot then went away nodding his head in a
self-satisfied way. Somehow 1 felt there was
mischief brewing. I met Storke that afternoon
and asked him what designs he had on my philos
opher. " 'You are just the man I want to see,' he ex
claimed, and button-holing me dragged me off
to his office. 'I tell you what it is, Joe,' he began
earnestly, 'if I don't look out I'm going to get
into a hole. I have been loading up too heavily
since this crazy boom began. I can't make my
schemes go off with a rush as the other fellows
do. I need a good respectable 'stool pigeon.' I
must have somebody discover me. Now I'm will
ing to bet dollars to doughnuts that your man
Sykes don't know there's a boom on.'
"You are about right there, I answered
laughing. He is writing boom stuff all the time
under instruction but he doesn't realize it.
"Just the man I want ! Must have him at any
cost !" And Storke brought his fist down on the
table with a bang. 'Supposing I were to be dis
covered by Prof. Christopher Sykes, late of Ober
lin College, say through the analysis of the water
from Eureka springs. To what figure would my
property go up to in the present state of excite
ment? Where, I say?" and the Colonel's eyes
snapped fire at the thought.
"But he is not a professor, I exclaimed incredu
ously. "Yes, held the chair of Ancient History at
Oberlin until a year and half ago when he came
to California for his wife's health.
"By Jove I've known him a good while and
wasn't aware of it.
"Well don't let on I want him to remain just
where he is out of sight.
AUSTIN'S HAWAIIAN WEEKLY.
"But 1 can't let you use this man Cyrus unless
you play square with him," I expostulated.
"1 will make him rich in no time rich ; do you
hear, rich I I will give you my word of honor,
Joe. There's mv hand on it.
"Col. Storke was excited and no mistake. But
every body knew that when Storke passed his
word of honor to play square no considerations
on earth could tempt him to break the promise.
Therefore, I felt satisfied to let the game go on.
He then discussed his plans until 1 felt like a
fellow conspirator against innocence.
"1 must test him first as an inside 'graft pigeon'
added Storke thoughtfully, 'to see how easily I
can handle him.'
"Two mornings after this, if my memory
serves me right, Sykes drew twenty dollars be
fore going to work! remarking, 'guess I had bet
ter get the money to pay the grocer before I for
get it or I will get into trouble with wife.'
"How it happened that the Colonel began his
operations that same day 1 cannot say. Sykes
Had just got up to his ears in his suoject when
Col. btorke appeared at his desk. No one ever
thought oi getting a word out of Sykes when he
was writing and as usual he took no notice ot tne
intrusion. Aothing daunted, Col. btorke, brougnt
his brawny hand down on the shoulder oi the
scribe and when he looked up transfixed him with
his glittering eyes.
" "Lend me twenty dollars,' he said in com
"bykes mechanically handed him the twenty
dollar piece he had drawn for the grocer.
" 'Put this deed in your pocket as security,'
again commanded Storke and Sykes obeyed with
out even looking at the document. V'hen the
Colonel had gone he was again absorbed with his
work as it nothing had happened.
"A tew minutes betore noon Col. Storke re
appeared and leaving five twenty-dollar pieces on
bykes' desk, said: "(Jive me that deed, and un
folding another document commanded: "sign
there ! indicating the place with his finger.
"Sykes obediently complied and mechanically
pocketing the money went on with his work.
When he went home to lunch Mrs. Sykes said:
" 'I'll wager anything you forgot the money for
" 'No, I didn't,' answered Sykes gleefully.
'Drew twenty this morning before I had a chance
to forget it. And pulling the five twenties out
of his pocket stood dunifounded gazing at them.
" 'How did you get so much money?' demand
ed his wife.
" 'I don't know.'
" 'Don't know 1 twenty dollar pieces don't grow
on bushes do they?"
"Skyes had a habit of jotting down in his note
book 'cases in point' iir literature to jog his
memory. 'Ah ! let me see. Let me see,' he said,
'if anything extraordinary happened I must have
noted a case in point. Yes. Yes. Here it is,' and he
read from his note book: '9:15 a. m. Case in
point: He who steals my purse steals trash.'
Sykes looked puzzled.
" 'O brother Shakespere. I suppose you let
somebody steal your first twenty, but how did
you get these back, Chris.'
" 'Oh, here's another memoranda,' he said,
brightening: '11:45 a- m- case in point Cast
they bread upon the waters and after many days
it retumeth many fold.'
"Fiddlesticks! Gambling. That's what you
have been doing.
'"Nonsense! Now, Now, darling, in your
calmer moments, bless me ! you would know that
was impossible. I a gambler! in your calmer
moments dear, you would recollect that I don't
" 'What do these memoranda in your note
book mean then symbols of speech you call them
figures of speech no doubt to hide your secrets
from me,' she said jealously.
" 'It means, it means, my dear, that somebody
took the twenty dollars and afterwards brought
back this money.'
" 'And you don't remember who took the
twenty and who brought the hundred. You need
a guardian, you do. It's lucky you've got a sensi
ble wife. Well, I'll keep the money since you call
As she gazed at the brilliant twenties in her
hand Mrs. Sykes grew calmer. She had always
secretly regretted her husband's utter incapacity
for business. She guessed that some real estate
broker had strolled into his office and induced him
to speculate and he had been too pre-occupicd
witli his work to remember it. She remembered
that her lady friends were always telling her
about making a lot of money in a single day.
Therefore, Mrs. Sykes gave him back two of the
twenty dollar pieces in the hope that they might
use him again in speculation. But her wildest
imagination could not paint the lot that was in
store for them.
In the meantime it was rumored on the street
that Col. btorke had interested a rich and distin
guished man trom tne iiast 111 ins enterprise, bin
who, tor the present retused to let his name be
known, liven the newspapers commented on tne
'hue Italian hand that was being ten 111 tiuanciai
circles, lhe next day the papers announced thai
the mysterious person 111 question had obtained
the choice ot lots 111 the wollskih stibdivis.oa
which was about to be put on tne market. Uut an
commended the energy and tair dealing 01 C01.
Storke who advertised that all wno desired lot-,
could obtain them 111 the order ol their suu
scnption regarcuess 01 preterence excepting sucu
lots as had already been secured by lJrot. sykes.
"the excitement can hardly be wondereu ac.
Betore the atteinoon ot the uay the sale took
place the receipts designating positions on the
map sold for from $1000 to $5000 premium, li
was then Col. btorke unloaded the choice lots heid
by the mysterious gentleman from the East.'
"Uut 1 am getting ahead of my story," said
Thompson, 'lhe day betore the Wolf skill sale,
btorke said to me 'now introduce me Joe.' 1 went
in and reminded Sykes that it was noon and when
he came out introduced them. The Colonel in
vited him to lunch.
"Oh, this is a proud moment for me," exclaim
ed the Colonel as they took seats at table. "One
like myself feels honored to be in the presence of a
man of such learning. Your description of the
Eureka Land & Water Co. was simply beautiful.
"Oh, bless my soul! You should not judge my
work by such hack work,' answered Sykes, 'l
must read you a chapter in my philisophical work,
'Is Hell a Myth.'
"It would be a great source of happiness to
me. 1 am such a lover of philosophy. By the
way, sir, (pardon me for changing the subject),
but 1 called on you the other day when you seem
ed quite pre-occupied with your work. 1 thought,
because of my great admiration for you, that I
would give you a tip concerning some lots that
were doubling in value five or six times a day.
You gave me twenty dollars for an option and I
am happy to say 1 was enabled to increase it to a
hundred dollars for you."
"Are you the friend who did me that good
turn ? Bless my soul ! Bless me ! Let me shake
you by the hand, sir. My wife has purchased a
new dress which she calls her 'Boom' gown.
"Col. Storke felt apprehensive. Had this man
at last learned of the 'Boom' ? But his fears were
" 'I remember at the time of wondering,' con
tinued Sykes, 'what sense there could be in her
application of the word boom to her new gown. I
could not suppose that she referred to a gib-boom
or to the boom of cannon. But I have observed
that women when married to philosophers, possess
more or less developed, many of the attributes
which gave Zantippe rather unenviable fame.