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STORIES OF WALL STREET I i: !! By LOUIS JOSEPH VANCE ! I X Drawing by D. RUSSOM. The Call of the Street AS the taxicab whirled round the corner, and the rumble of the wheels upon the cobbles was replaced by the liquid swish of the tires upon Fifth Avenue's asphalt, Steele turned suddenly, looking at his .wife. I He had an impression that she had ipoken and that he. momentarily lost in the intricacies of the Interstate Tun nel deal, had neglected to answer her. "What did you say, Sara?" he ask ed. But his words were drowned in the roar of a passing Forty-second street car. "What was it, dear?" he asked. Vliat was it you said a while back?" "I said?" with rising inflection. She frowned in pretty perplexity, trying to remember. "Jt at I closed the door." he help ed. "I thought you asked a question I was thinking of something else at the j rnomept." "Oh I Of course you were thinking of something else, you are always thinking of something else, Jim." There was a note of petulance in her voice )hat puzzled him "And that was what asked. It was silly enough I said, 'A penny for your thoughts.' Extrava gance, for I knew you were thinking of business " He felt vaguely that he was being Indicted and began clumsily to defend himself. i "Yes You were right. Affairs in i rather a mix up just now, little girl; 1 they bother a chap. Important deal : on " "Always, always," she commented, T wearily even a trifle bitterly 1 1 While he fumbled with his keys, she shivered noticeably in the brisk air of the early morning hours. "Cold, de2r?" he asked, roused out 1 of his affairs for the moment. Smiling up at him, "A wee bit," she confessed, "but happy, Jim." "Eh'" He stared 'Happy?" "Happy," she repeated with a low laugh as the door swung open. Steele gazed after her, bewildered, 1 ' while he shot the bolts. Then he fol- ' lowed her upstairs, hcaily Ten min- 1 utes later, she looked up from her ' dressing table to see him standing in ' the doorway of her boudoir, glowering down upon her. He had exchanged his ' dress coat for a quilted smoking jacket, his shoes for slippers, and was smok ing, she smiled, struck by the gro tesque figure he made. "Well?'' she queried, archly, her ' hands busy with her hair. "What made you say that, Sara?" he demanded, bluntly. Her eyes widened "Say what, Jim?" "About being happy. What made you mention it? Why are you more happy to-night than any other' Aren't you generally happy, little girl?" She rose, came over to him. kissed him. Then, fumbling with a frog on his jacket, "I was more happy to-night than usually," she admitted "I suppose generally I'm as happy as I've any right to be, dear." "I don't understand" His face hewed that plainly. "Why to-night J especially?" "Because my husband was with me don't you see? I wonder " She paused "I wonder if you realize how little, how very little of your time you give your wife, Jim " MVVhy I " he stammered awk wardly, struggling with a totally new idea. This bad never occurred to him before. "You are away all day," she went on not complaining, but making a calm statement of fact "and every right you are off to the club, or some one is here, closeted with you It's business, I know, but Why, I hardly ever have you to myself, Jim. Tonight, the opera, the music, the lights, with you why, it was like an oasis to me an oasis in a weary, hus bandless desert." She laughed nerv ously, "But but business " he tried to object, realizing the justice of her finding "Is there nothing in life but Wall Street?" she pleaded softly. "Can't you give it up, Jim, before long, foi my sake? Why should you keep or and on forever, wearing your life oul for what? You've made a comfort able fortune, dear; it's enough to las US tb rest of our lives and give tb boy a good start besides. Why need you keep it up, always, at the expense of your health and your family? You know that Dr. Dexter warned you to take a rest last month, and you laugh ed at him, and- " "Oh, Dexter!" he derided. "He doesn't understand. Neither do you, little girl Why, what'll I do, any how? No' His mouth straightened into a firm hard line; be had settled the matter, man-like, forgetting the original issue her happiness, not his own. "No, I can't give it up. It would be foolishness with with my prospects, my career. No, you don't understand " He decided to comfort her with a platitude: "Men mut work and women must weep," you know. "Why?" she cried, rebelliously. "Why must we weep? Why must men work incessantly?" "The law of life," he told her with portentous gravity. He began to enumerate her blessings, exclusive of himself "I don't think you've any reason to complain, Sara. You've the boy " He persisted: "You have household duties, your friends " "I'd like to hao more of my hus band," she contended, stubbornly From which attitude he failed to move her. Naturally enough, perhaps, the ele ment of the unforseen figures largely in the life of the Street. On the fol lowing afternoon, Steele's deal in In terstate Tunnel came to an unexpect id end to a successful culmination unexpectedly sudden. The clique of nen who, desiring to obtain control )f the Interstate Tunnel Company, lad combined their interests and put Steele at their head, allowing him full discretion thereby forming what is :ermcd a "blind pool" had calculated ;hat his campaign would be one of ivecks, if not of months, before their object was attained. As it happened, however, another rombination had been formed with precisely the same object, thereby cre ating an unusual demand for Tunnel Common so unusual, in fact, that the ma-kct price went up by leaps and bounds, and the trading in Tunnel Common became the feature of the Jay. But, about two o'clock in the after noon, the ticker ceased to record transactions in Tunnel Common; the demand had outlasted the supply; a 'natural corner" had resulted. W hen he realized what had hap pened, Steele told himself that his work for the day was done. He could return to his office and count the gains and receive the congratulations of his associates. As he was about to leave the floor, however, the staccato rapping of the gavel on the rostrum made him pause; be knew, or suspected, what was com ing, and would not have missed it for much. A slight lull succeeding the frenzied uproar that had prevailed in the board room, he was able to hear the chairman's voice as it boomed out over the heads of the brokers, an nouncing the suspension of Belden 8c Tausig. Steele smiled grimly under his mus tache. "Belden will think twice, I guess, before he monkeys with the buzz-saw again," he thought as he crossed Broad street to the Mills building. At the same time he was both sur prised and disappointed to find lhat he was experiencing nothing of ela tioo. Even his success in obtaining the control of Interstate Tunnel seemed a tawdry', futile thing. He found him self walking slowly, his step lacking its accustomed springiness, his head drooping and hot and heavy, his feet like leaden weights. And when be found Belden, the ob noxious, humbly waiting him in the ante room, the keen edge of his grati fication was blunted by that same, gray apathy. It wa not until Belden approached him with his insinuating whine that was colored with something of his one-time patronizing distain "I say, Jim, my boy" that the change came, i It was utterly without premeditation : on Steele's part, something entirely - outside of his calculations. When the t hateful accents fell upon his ear, i Steele seemed to lose control of him self; for the time the room swam be fore him, he was shaken by a Jitth gust of febrile rage, which, he latci considered, must have seemed child ishly spiteful "Oh, go to the devil!" he cried whirling upon his heel to face Belden "Yon you get out of my office I'll have nothing to do with you!" Instantly Steele began to regret; also he was somewhat scared; the passion which had gripped him sc strongly that he had forgotten himself was a new thing in his experience He had never made such an exhibi tion of himself to his knowledge, at least so causelessly. He glanced around the room, shame-faced, won dering who had witnessed his trans port. There were two witnesses; Hunt, office partner of the firm of C D. Hunt & Wilder, through which Steele cleared his transactions, and in whose offices he was accorded a desk as a courtesy; and a stranger to Steele a stout man, florid of complexion, thick set. Him Steele intuitively knew for Tausig, Belden's partner. "Oh," he said, shortly, "you're Tau sig?" The fellow nodded. "I've noth ing against you personally, Tausig, Steele continued more calmly; "but Belden ! damned scoundrel gives you a bad name, Tausig But this is what I wanted to say: you tell Belden what I had intended to, that your firm will get just the same trcat- - "You've kept yourself keyed up t ; the fever pitch for several weeks, an r a reaction's bound to come " Steele did not directly reply. H sat down, with his hands in his pock i cts, and stared gloomily at the carpet "Anyhow," he said, rising agair after an interval. "I'm tired, tired I'm going home now. Take care o' things " He reached blindly for his hat and staggered a pace or two toward the door. Hunt jumped up, alarmed "Here, old man!" he said. Steele fell, like a column pushed from its base; he fell, to lie inert, su pine, breathing heavily. It was three months later, almost to a day, before the Street again knew Jim Steele's footsteps. Following his discharge from a sanitarium as convalescent a dis charge accompanied by a warning that he would return to business life with in three years at his peril a few weeks had been put in at Palm Beach. Now Steele and his wife were to spend a few weeks in town until their son's spring term at school should be ended, when the three of them were to go abroad As for Mrs Steele she was radiant ly happy, for the first time in their twelve vears of married life she had what she most desired in all the world first place in the thoughts of her husband. For it was an under- ) "No, no; I'm not going to go into 1 the market at all I'm through with all that, it's behind me I'm merely going to sever the last tic that binds . me to the Street." "You promised, you know," she re , minded him, dubiously, for she knew his weakness being the man's wife f "I promised, sweetheart," he assent ed, again laughing, and I give you I my word again." And with that pledge scaled warm upon his lips, she let him go. not, however, without misgivings stirring deep in her heart. But once in the elevated train, bound down-town, he forgot that in the interest aroused by a prominent article on the financial page of his newspaper. It was one of those rare, infrequent accounts which sometimes sec the light, written by an "insider," an expert, detailing with fine insight just what motives were then actuat ing the bear element in the furious raid it was making upon industrial se curities. In particular, Steele gath ered that the clique headed by Tom West, his dearest rival of the old days, was hammering Tennessee Rope & Twine. Steele considered such ac tion unmoral; West, he allowed was a natural-born pessimist in regard to stock values, but that was -no excuse for his making T. R. & T. his shining mark. Steele happened to know a good deal concerning that stock and merit from us as the rest of the shorts in this deal. And and we're not dis posed to be hard on the shorts." Tausig nodded curtly "That's what we wanted to know, Mr. Steele,'' he replied. "If there's to be no discrimi nation, wc may pull through. Good day " And he left Hunt watched the door close before sptaking. Then he laughed shortly. "If Belden's looks go for anything, Steele," he commented, "you'll pay high for that." Steele stared at him dully under heavy eyelids. "Oh, Belden," he said, after a while, slowly; "he be damn.' Anyhow, his power in the street is broken "Yes," he heard Hunt say, "but this isn't the first time that Belden's been broken Maybe it isn't to be the last, either." "To tell the truth," said Steele, very carefully, "I didn't mean to flare up that way. Something seemed to snap. I wonder " "Reaction. perhaps." suggested Hunt, coolly philo?ophical in the con sideration of another's troubles. THF MAN OF THE STREET. stood thing that Steele had given up the Street and all its work "for bet ter or worse," Steele had laughed when he promised. Yet it was with a distinct shiver of foreboding that the woman looked up from her breakfast plate, on the morn ing following their return to the city, to find Steele eyeing her with a gaze halt doubtful, half deprc-cating. She put down her fork deliberately, her eyes upon the letter which be had been reading, and still held in his hand. Steele fancied that she lost a shade of color, and he could not ig nore the anxiety in her eyes "What is it?" she demanded, almost breathlessly. He laughed lightly to reassure her. "Why, nothing of any great impor tance, Sara, only that I'm going down town for an hour or two to-day " He saw her little hands clinch until the knuckles stood out white and hard against the firm pink of her flesh, and hurried to explain: "Hunt writes me that he wants to buy my 6cat on the Exchange. "You're you're not " the zalter- ed the concern which fathered it. and he was quite convinced that it was sound worth all of par. Steele went downstairs from Hunt's office, feeling, he proclaimed glumly, "like a loose tooth." He arrived at a critical moment. The West clique was undoubtedly pounding the industrial more than it ' merited. Several points had already been lopped off the day's opening price. Steele discovered the fact, frowning stern disapproval. There seemed to be little or no buying, al though a reaction was bound to come. West's crowd was selling short and would have to buy in to cover before very long, thereby causing a rally; a far-seeing man would seize upon this opportunity. Hollwedel, board member of West's firm, plunging back from a consulta tion with his partner by telephone, spied Steele The latter's hat was suddenly 6m3shed down over his ears. , He pushed it up, laughing, to sec Holl wedel standing before him, offering a welcome hand "Howdy, Steele"" he panted. "You back? Glad to see you. Sell you a thousand Rope and Twine at 65," he added, almost in jest. "Donel" cried Steele, mechanically, as though he had suddenly wakened from a dream. A whisper stole around the room: "Steele's back buying Rope & Twine. Must have an inside tip " Others, so believing, began to buy. West's as sociates became alarmed, they had an ticipated a reaction, but not so early in the day . They launched ten thou sand shares at the market, which soaked them up as greedily as a sponge They decided that it would be policy to cover without delay, at a loss if necessary, and the consequent buying orders caused the rally to be come an irresistible upward surge, nouncing to Belden in their private office: "I hear Steele's back on the floor " "He is, eh?" Belden licked his thin lips, glancing furtively at his partner. Tausig did not doubt his sincerity. To Steele's relief his prolonged ab sense of the day before had passed unnoticed ; at least, Mrs. Steele made no comment. But, as he rose from the breakfast table hr felt that the moment for an explanation was at hand- Her eye was upon him, and he was fain to avoid it. "I am sorry, dear," he said, uneasily, "but I must go downtown again to-day. I I have to consult with Morton "He named his lawyer It was not strictly untrue ; he did mean to see Morton, for a minute or two, if he found time "You have sold your seat'" she asked, abruptly "I cr Hunt was not ready yester day. It'll be settled in a day or so." As yet he shrank from the lie direct, but the following day a new subter fuge must be invented , he dared not tell her the truth. "I find," he said glibly having thought it out beforehand, during a sleepless portion of the night "that I will have to spend several days perhaps a week at the office A mat ter has cropped up requiring my at tention " A week passed The issue grew, be came as a wall between the man and the woman. Finally it might no longer be evaded "I'm involved in the market," he told her, surily, with a dogged air. "Jim!" He cringed "I I can't help it, Sara it's beyond helping now. I'm sorry, but I saw the chance. I thought, to make a few thou sands and " "But Jim'" He looked quickly away from the pain in her eyes "But, Jim, you you gave me your word !" "I know, I " He floundered mis erably under her accusing gaze. "But it can't be helped. In a few days a week, at the outside I hope to have it all fixed. And that will be the end, Sara I" She did not answer; Steele's primal impression was that she was refusing to listen. Then he saw that she was, for the instant, unable to give him her at tention. She had pushed back her chair, as though intending to rise; on the con trary, she seemed held down, as though by an invisible hand struggling vainly She had turned from him averting her face ; Steele could see no more than the full curve of her cheek; and that whitened to a pallor beneath his gaze. Unconsciously her left hand went to ward the region of her heart, clutch ing at the folds of her morning gown. Steele hurried toward her. "Sara !" he cried a second time "Is - is it your heart, dear the old trouble ?" , "Yes," she said faintly. "It it's gone 1 now. I am all right " "111 send for Dr. Dexter, at once," ' he proposed. ' "It is unnecessary' " She rose, cold- 1 ly ignoring his proffered arm He fol lowed her toward the door "He was here yesterday. I tell you it is noth- ! ing. Now, go on go to the office I am all right." "But" I "Go," she insisted, drearily. "Don't 1 pretend to worry about me. I " "But I will not got" he cried. "At least, until know " "It is getting late," she reminded him, 1 quietly. "The exchange opens within an hour. You had best go at once. ' Don't think of me think of the money 1 you have involved." 3 He had no answer. It was true he lad no choice but to consider the money," 1 his presence upon the floor at the open ing was an imperative necessity While 3 he hesitated, cvidering that phase of I the case, she brushed past him and left the room. 1 Where before he had gone to the mar- ! Iret as a man desiring a stimulant, now ' he plunged into the turmoil on the floor as he wocld have swallowed an -opiate; it would deaden bis sensibil- ities, help him to forget her face as she had last looked upon him. And the market received him with open arms. He was indeed deeply con- j cerned by now, more than half the fortune upon which he had thought to retire was at stake Sometimes a doubt assailed him. had his old, sure judg ment failed him at the last? Was this his final throw upon the table, to prove the ruin of the once successful gamester ? Since that first day, when he had turned the flurry in Tennessee Rope & ft Twine into a rise, he had been drawn more and more deeply into the toils. 1 West's combination, finding that they I' had but one man to fight, had recov- F ered their lost confidence and renewed r" their raid upon the security; Steele had H attempted to peg the price against a jl further drop, and had all but succeeded ;. when West received unexpected support from Belden; under the impact of the I thirty thousand shares which Belden I hurled bodily at the market, T. R & T. I had broken sharply, closing at the end !! of Steele's second day at 62 three I points below the price at which he had I purchased. I Since that, despite Steele's utmost ef- I forts, the decline had been slow but I steady On this last day he held thirty- i five thousand shares, bought at an av- I erage price of 60; and T. R. & T. was f quoted at 51. I And Belden, in his office, smiled grim- f ly at the reports brought him by his lieutenants, smiled yet more heartlessly I as he thought of the final blow he was t preparing to deal F And then, just as he began to realize ! that the tide was turning, some one thrust a telegram in his face He never knew who it was At first he refused I to notice it, but it was thrust at him persistently Finally he was forced to comprehend that the message was for him. He seized rt, and somehow the I envelope was torn away from it. He I backed up against the post and held it I up before his eyes, trying to steady him- elf. The words danced madly; it. was 1 some time before he grasped their lm- L port. ;fe "Your wife is dying Come home at 'ft..... once Dexter." I His fortune stood at stake. But what j did it matter? What was money to bin life even without her? Men I pressed about him like a wall deter mined men without understanding But he lowered his head, sprang at them, bucked a way through them by main strength and carelessness of conse quence, fighting like a madman. She was reading, or had been, when j he staggered into her room. She arose suddenly from her chair, and the book j crashed on the floor , she gave a little, startled cry, and one hand went tenta lively toward her heart. Her face was verv white and apparently drawn, and j Steele saw that she had been crying "Why, Jim!'' she said "You're you're all right'" he gasped, incredulously. "Yes," she told him, wondering. She came towards him slowjy, hesi- ' tating, bewildered. "Then," he said, after an interval, "what does this mean?" He extended his hand, opening his fingers; a little ball of yellow paper rested in his palm, damp with its mois ture "Read it," he said impatiently. I "At present, not in the least " He pondered the problem, scowling "Thank God," he whispered, once or twice. And finally he straightened up, ( with a single cry "Belden I" He had j fathomed the mystery f "An enemy sent it to me," he ex- j plained, sitting down heavily. "It was I handed to me on the floor of the Ex- ( :hange So I came at once." He at rmpted a smile, but without signal sue- less, "At once," he repeated, drearily. Thank God!" H "You did that for me, Jim?" she said, loftlv "For me? And I did not think rou cared so much I "I did not know horn much I cared," le replied, "until that There is lothing without you." he stated with :onviction ; "I did not know." "Dear heart!" And. after a little j rhile: "Did it do great harm, dear? -fave you lost much?" "About half of what I had," he calcu- jj ated "It is no matter. Let them keep jj t. There will still be enough with I rou to share it" "There will be enough," she whis- j ercd, happily. "I am done with thr Street." he stated, :nd this time his pledge conyinced her, or he himself was convinced "The Street has taken back half of that ! vhich it gave me," he added "I'm ,j :ontent with you. The Street can j ceep it " But it was not so bad as he believed. i Copyrighted, 1912, Century Syndicate