Read CHAPTER VIII - Broker Bryant and the Boys of Halsey & Co. / The Young Bankers and Speculators, free online book, by H. K. Shackleford, on ReadCentral.com.

When Broker Bryant saw the muzzle of a revolver staring him in the face he turned white as a sheet.

“Just drop that fleece on the desk there; if you please,” said Bob very coolly.

He laid it down without saying a word, never once taking his eyes off the revolver.

“You may go now,” Bob said. “You can’t get any fleece out of this office.”

“Put up that gun. You are making a fool of yourself,” said Bryant finally.

“Maybe I am. All the same, I’d have made a corpse of you if you had not dropped that wool.”

“What have you got my name on it for?”

“I am having a little fun out of it­that’s all.”

“You have no right to use my name at all.”

“Maybe I haven’t. Go to law about it, and let the court decide that question. I am going to keep it there, for you are the meanest man in Wall Street. You had a messenger boy discharged from his position of five dollars a week. It will be a long time before I can have fun enough with you to satisfy me, Mr. Bryant.”

“I did not have you discharged.”

“Oh, that’s all right.”

“But you can ask Manson.”

“Yes, I know. We got more of his fleece than we did of yours. I haven’t had much fun with him yet. One at a time and it will last longer.”

“You must take my name off that thing there.”

“Not at your command I won’t.”

“Well, I’ll see about it,” and he turned and went out.

Fred and those in the main office were not aware of what had been going on between Bob and Bryant in the private office.

“What did he say, Bob?” Fred asked.

Bob told him what had passed between the broker and himself, adding:

“He is the maddest man on earth. I am getting even with him, and am going to run that fleece business till some court tells me to stop it.”

“By George,” exclaimed Fred, “if he goes to law about it we’ll be the best advertised firm in the Street.”

“That’s so,” remarked Allison, his broad face wreathed in smiles. “He is a strong man­has many friends; but Wall Street brokers are always ready to shear each other.”

“Of course they are. Business knows no friendship. It is merciless in its operations.”

Allison looked at him in no little surprise. Such a hard, cynical view of business coming from one so young almost startled him.

“Where did you pick up that idea?” he asked Fred.

“In the Stock Exchange when I was a messenger boy,” was the reply.

“Who gave it to you?”

“Nobody. I got the idea from what I saw going on all around me.”

“Well, you have observed closely, young man. It’s a harsh judgment, but correct in the main. I hope, though, that in your success you will not forget those who are unfortunate.”

“I hope so, too, Mr. Allison. It is not my nature to be mean or stingy. Bob gave the old beggar with the red shawl a dollar yesterday.”

“He did, eh?”

“Yes, sir. She’s sixty if a day.”

“Yes, and has been begging in Wall Street for twenty years. I’d wager a month’s salary she has ten thousand dollars in bank and owns real estate somewhere on Manhattan island.”

“What are you giving me?” and Fred looked the picture of incredulity.

“The straight truth. I have a nephew in a little east side bank above Grand street, and he says she has a fat account there, and that he has seen three other bank books in her possession.”

“Well, I’ll be hanged!” exclaimed Fred. “I thought I knew a thing or two, but that yarn jiggers me.”

The old man laughed and was going to say more when a crowd of boys came in. Business had closed for the day, and every messenger boy in Wall and Broad streets had made a rush to see Fred and Bob in their new rôle as bankers. Boothblacks and newsboys were among them, and they made the welkin ring with their shouts.

“Say, give us a loan, Bob.”

“Cash a check for me, Fred.”

“How much chink have you got, boys?”

“Where did you break in, Fred?”

“How much did you get?”

“Where were the cops?”

“Ah, let up on that, cullies!” sung out Fred. “Come by to-morrow at this time and get a ticket for a square meal. It’s none of your business where we got it. We’ve got it and that’s enough.”

They gave Halsey & Company three cheers and left. Just an they were about to close the doors Callie Ketcham came in.

“Oh, my, what a grand place it is, Fred!” she exclaimed, as she looked around the place. “Promise me a situation when you need a typewriter.”

“Indeed I won’t!” he replied.

“Why?” and she looked at him in surprise.

“Tips!” he whispered.

She laughed and exclaimed:

“Oh, yes, I see!”

“Besides, if you were here all the time I’d do very little business, I fear.”

“Oh, that’s some of your talk again. Have you any depositors?”

“No. Just opened to-day.”

“May I be one of your depositors?”

“Of course, if you wish. Mr. Allison is the cashier,” and he introduced the old man to her.

“Give me a check, please,” she said, and when she got it she filled it out for $10,000, handed it to the old man, saying:

“I am your first depositor, and am so glad to know it.”

“I’ll send you a book to-morrow,” he said, as he put it away.

“No, don’t send it; I’ll call for it myself,” she replied.

“Very well, Miss Ketcham.”

The old cashier was knocked topsy-turvy at receiving a check for such a sum from a young typewriter. As they were going out Gertie Clayton came by and said:

“They told me you had opened a bank here, Bob, and I wanted to see if it was true,” and she looked up at the sign on the big plate glass front.

Callie caught her hand, kissed her as girls do, and said:

“Oh, Gertie, it’s just too grand for anything in there! Would you believe it, I am the first depositor on their books!”

“I wish I could put money in the bank, but I can’t. It takes all I can make to keep a roof over our heads.”

“Why don’t you strike old Bowles for a raise in your salary?” Bob asked her.

“It is useless. He told me to-day he would not want me after this week.”

“The deuce he did! What’s the matter?” Bob blurted out.

“I am sure I don’t know. He has never found fault with my work, He said I could go back to Bryant’s, as he had said I could always find a place there.”

“Well, don’t you go there,” said Bob. “I’ll see if I can’t find another place for you.”

“I am such a trouble to you, Bob.”

“Indeed you are not.”

Fred and Callie had gone on ahead, and Bob walked with Gertie. They passed Broker Bryant on Broadway, and Gertie gave a shudder as she saw him, saying to Bob:

“I am afraid of that man. He looks at me sometimes as though he wanted to kill me.”

“He is bad enough to do it,” Bob said. “He hates me like poison, and would poison me if he could.”

“I believe he paid Mr. Bowles to discharge me.”

“Why, what good would that do him?”

“He thinks I’ll go back to his office if I can’t get a place anywhere else.”

“Well, if you can’t get a place, you can have deskroom with us and do chance work. You must not go back to him,” and Bob was very earnest in his way as he spoke.

Bob saw her to her home and then hastened to his own humble domicile. When he got there he found the sidewalk in front of the tenement piled up with furniture. Two families were being ejected for non-payment of rent­$9 each. The landlord was there directing the officers. Bob looked on for a few minutes, and then quietly handed a ten-dollar bill to each of the two mothers, saying:

“Go across the street and get rooms. You can get ’em for $8 over there.”

They both sprang up and showered blessings on his head and curses at the landlord.

One day a week later Bob received a tip from Gertie Clayton that Rock Island shares were going to be cornered. Bob saw Fred about it and they watched Rock Island. Pretty soon they saw it advance. Then Fred ordered 15,000 shares bought for the firm. The next day a man called and asked them to lend him $10,000 on a good stock worth double that amount. Fred asked to see the stock. It was K. & T. Fred took the stock to Mr. Allison for his advice, and the bookkeeper denounced the stock as a clever forgery. When the man heard that he made a snatch for the paper, missed it, and then made a break for the door. Fred darted across his path and upset him near the door. He fell heavily, striking the plate glass and shattering it.

“I’m a dead man!” he gasped, rolling over on the floor, the blood spurting from a cut on the side of his head.