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“Watch the board,” whispered the broker. “There’s the first quotation – a thousand shares of P. & Y. at 67 – and, by Jove, no taker!”
A few moments later information was posted that ten thousand shares of P. & Y. had been offered and sold at 66.
“That’s the work of Dimitri & Clark, and Weeks & Bond,” whispered Coggswell. “My partner has sent me word that those two firms are doing the selling for Justin Bolton. He’ll sell, through his brokers, a hundred thousand shares short in the next hour, if need be, to keep the downward course of the stock in motion. Ah, what did I tell you?”
Ten thousand more shares of P. & Y. had gone at 65?.
“He’s a reckless bear, that fellow, Bolton!” ground out Coggswell, between his teeth. “He’s selling short at a furious rate. Mr. Delavan, your enemy, Bolton, expects to close your interests out this forenoon. If he can bear the stock low enough he’ll begin to buy in for his own account, as well as to cover his sales. If he can only keep this going for a while he’ll control the P. & Y. through his bona-fide buyings of the stock.”
Francis Delavan merely smiled, and Tom Halstead, looking covertly at him, admired the difference between his employer and Eben Moddridge.
A “bear” is one who is trying to lower the selling price of a stock. Often, in order to accomplish this, the “bear” “sells short.” That is, he offers to sell large blocks of the stock in question, at a lower figure than the market price. This “short operator,” as he is called, does not actually own the stock that he sells, but he hopes to drive the price of the stock still lower, and thus be able to buy and fill his sale at a lower price than he has made the sale for.
When a stock is headed downward in price, the offer of another large block at a lower price than yet offered has a strong tendency to force the price still lower, for scared investors who really own large blocks of the stock may become panic-stricken and close out their holdings of that particular stock at any price they can obtain.
Thus, a “short operator” may offer, in a falling market, ten thousand shares of a certain stock at 67. If he makes a sale at that price the fact may induce some real owner of stock to offer his holding of ten thousand shares to be sold at the best price offered, say 65. The “short operator,” who has just disposed of ten thousand shares at 67, but does not possess those shares, may be able to buy back again enough shares at 65, which under the terms of his sale, he has disposed of at 67. Thus, he has cleared two dollars a share, or $20,000 in all, by the operation. If the “short operator” who sells at 67 is able to cover his sales by buying at the still lower price of 63, his profits would be $40,000. But if our “short operator” buys at 67, and then the market rallies, it may be that the “short” cannot buy lower than 71. Having made his sale, he must fill the order, anyway, and thus he would lose $40,000.
If a “short” sells stock he does not own, and a sudden rally in that stock carries the stock up so high that he has not money enough to make good his sales, then he is ruined and becomes a bankrupt.
If a “bear” sells short, and then the stock continues to drop and drop in price, it is a happy day for that “bear.” On this Monday morning Justin Bolton, though not yet actually present, but operating through brokers whom he instructed by telephone, was prepared to sell short at a furious rate.
First of all, Bolton’s purpose was to “bear” down P. & Y. to a point where he could buy all the stock he wanted for himself, and enough more to cover his “short orders” at a profit.
As the four watchers in the gallery looked on, a howl suddenly went up from the floor:
“P. & Y. at 65!”
“No takers at that price!”
“Bring it on at a lower price!”
“It’s going to smash!”
In lower tones men on the floor of the Exchange below were talking over the latest information supplied by the newspapers. It was believed by many that Francis Delavan had looted the railroad of which he was president, and that a vast sum of the stealings was hidden securely abroad.
“It’s a bad stock to deal in anyway, at present,” muttered one of the brokers below. “I have advised all of my clients to keep away from it.”
“If the run is based on false information, someone is going to reap a heavy profit when the stock begins to soar again,” remarked another broker.
“It won’t soar in a year. There’s something peculiar and rotten behind the whole business. The road won’t amount to anything until it has been reorganized by another crowd.”
Just then an agile young man hurried out on the floor, holding in his hand the earliest edition of an evening paper. He called out something to those nearest him. Instantly there was a rush, others crowding about the bearer of the newspaper.
“Accountants have just finished going over the statements of the P. & Y. There’s not a dollar short anywhere. The road is as sound as a good nut.”
That information, backed by the reputation of the accountants, sent a small squad scurrying off to buy if more P. & Y. were offered at low prices.
“A thousand shares at 67!” shouted one of those who offered to buy.
“Wanted, two thousand, at 67?!” called another.
“Bosh! That’s only a trick played by those who are ‘long’ to get a little more for their paper!”
Thus belief and disbelief eddied and surged backward and forward.
Some small sales were made at a fraction above 68. Then, like a thunderclap came the offer:
“Ten thousand P. & Y. at 66!”
Five minutes later the stock was being offered at 65? with few takers.
A man entered the visitors’ gallery, taking a swift, careless look at the others. It was Justin Bolton, but, as he had reason to be sure that Francis Delavan was hundreds of miles out to sea, Bolton nodded coldly to Coggswell, merely glanced at the boys, and turned to a seat at some distance.
Now the Bolton brokers were hurling short stock in, in thousand, two-thousand and five-thousand lots, trying to break the price below 65. There were takers, for the newspaper report made many buyers look upon P. & Y. as a fair bargain at 65.
Coggswell took a sidelong look at Justin Bolton, whose gaze was turned unceasingly upon the floor below.
“Your enemy is smashing things the best he knows how,” whispered the broker to the “Rocket’s” owner.
“It’ll be rough on him if anything happens to prevent his covering his sales, won’t it?” smiled back Mr. Delavan.
Another evening newspaper reached the floor below, then half a dozen appeared, each being glanced over by excited groups of men.
Johnson, the managing vice-president of the P. & Y., had been found and interviewed. He had confirmed the news given out by the accountants. P. & Y. went up two points. A messenger entered the gallery, handing a note to Mr. Coggswell.
“Oliver sends word he likes the looks of things better, and that he won’t desert you just yet in the battle of the dollars, Mr. Delavan,” whispered the broker. “Oliver has a million of his own money placed in this game. He’s buying on the ‘bull’ side of the market.”
“Oliver may be a much richer man, then, by the time night comes,” smiled the “Rocket’s” owner. This seasoned financier had not, during all the storm below, shown the faintest trace of excitement. His face was calm, his voice even. One would have thought him almost bored with dulness.
“Justin Bolton must be wondering hard why your holdings of P. & Y. haven’t been dumped into the market,” suggested Coggswell.
“That’s what he’s here for, sitting over yonder,” replied Mr. Delavan. “As soon as the dealings denote that my holdings are being dumped Bolton will know that the day and the game are his.”
Some other stocks were being traded in briefly, now. Steel, among them, was going up a couple of points. Bolton found time to look over curiously at Coggswell, whom he knew to be directing the fight for the Delavan-Moddridge combine. Bolton also studied the man behind the goggles rather attentively, though not once did it occur to the arch-plotter to connect that half-hidden face with the countenance of the man he was moving heaven and earth to ruin.
“Twenty thousand P. & Y. offered at 65?!”
That was the next challenge hurled on the floor below. There were no takers at the moment.
“Twenty thousand at 65!”
Within the next few minutes this offering was traded off in smaller lots.
“Watch Bolton fidget,” whispered Mr Coggswell. “There’s a bigger hammering coming, and of course Bolton knows it’s near. We’ll see his biggest plunge within the next few minutes.”
Within two minutes by the big clock the pounding came.
“Forty thousand P. & Y. offered at 62!”
There was instant pandemonium. While there were those on the floor who rushed forward to get in on some of the buying at this price, there were many more who believed that P. & Y. would quickly slump far worse than it had yet done.
Justin Bolton’s eyes were gleaming. Most of the color had left his cheeks. His breath was coming in quick, short gasps. It was near the moment when he hoped to reap millions from his operations, and also to become the largest owner of P. & Y. Yet this schemer, knowing full well that the sales below were being made mainly on his own account, realized also that the Delavan-Moddridge stock had not been sprung.
“Does Delavan think he’s at a moving-picture show?” whispered Joe Dawson, in Tom Halstead’s ear. “Is he going to do nothing but sit here and smile?”
“Perhaps there’s nothing he can do here yet,” was Halstead’s answer. “I am wondering whether he’s going down to ruin, or whether he hopes to find the way out yet.”
A messenger from one of the brokers on the floor now darted through the gallery, handing a sheet of paper to Justin Bolton.
That worthy, after glancing over the sheet, penciled a few words upon it. The messenger hastened back to one of the brokers below.
Bolton’s own face, after the messenger had gone, was of a ghastly pallor. He looked unsteady, worried – or else as though he were about to take the most daring plunge of all.
“Watch out for what’s going to happen,” nudged Mr. Coggswell. That broker had now a pad on his own knee, a fountain pen in hand, as though prepared to dash off written orders in a hurry.
“Look out for a thunderclap,” whispered Coggswell, as one of the Bolton brokers on the floor hurried forward.
Then it came:
“Forty thousand P. & Y. at 60!”
SPRINGING THE MONEY MINE
IN an instant all seemed mad frenzy on the floor of the Stock Exchange.
Members ran about, waving slips of paper, bawling themselves hoarse, colliding with each other in efforts to reach desired parts of the floor.
Junior members of brokerage firms rushed to their private telephones to call for instructions.
Many thought that the day would go out in widespread panic, for now much more seemed involved than merely the P. & Y. Railroad.
At the first crack of this new firing on the battle line Broker Coggswell, a written order in his hand, bounded from his seat in the gallery, making his way frantically to the floor below.
Justin Bolton turned for an instant to follow the broker with his eyes. Then down below he looked to see Coggswell hurl himself into the wild chaos of the ’Change floor.
Broker Coggswell snatched up the entire offering of forty thousand shares like a flash. That held the market steady at that price for a moment. There was even talk among the excited operators that P. & Y. might be good for some rise. Gradually the hubbub lessened. Quiet followed. Every operator interested waited to see what the next move in the great game was to be.
Justin Bolton, shaking all over in his excitement at this crisis in the daring battle he had waged, stood up, leaning forward over the railing.
“Coggswell, your clients must be crazy to go in so heavily on a dropping stock,” one “bear” operator called to Delavan’s broker.
“I don’t believe it,” smiled the broker.
“But P. & Y. will be at 40 by to-morrow,” insisted the other.
“Bosh, man!” returned Coggswell, serenely.
“You think you have inside information, do you, Coggswell?” demanded the “bear,” banteringly.
“My principal client believes he has,” laughed Coggswell, good humoredly.
“Your principal client?”
“I wish I knew who he is,” admitted the “bear,” moving closer to the bold broker.
“Why, I might tell you,” came the smiling retort.
It would be news of great value to many operators to-day to know who was behind the purchase of forty thousand shares of a falling stock. A crowd surged around Coggswell.
“Tell us who your client is,” dared the same “bear,” while the size of the gaping crowd increased. A hush had again fallen over everything.
“My principal client – ” began Coggswell, then paused, smiling in a tantalizing way.
“Name him!” insisted the same “bear.”
“Yes, name him! Name him!” came the fevered demand from all sides, though probably not one expected the broker to comply.
“My principal client, for whom I just made the big purchase,” announced Broker Coggswell, “is Francis Delavan himself.”
The cry was taken up and repeated all over the floor. Scores of men came running to get as near as possible to the talking broker.
“I made that purchase on behalf of the Delavan-Moddridge interests,” continued Coggswell, showing a still smiling face.
“Then you must know where Delavan is?” called someone, rather banteringly.
“I do,” nodded Coggswell.
One of the Bolton brokers sent a messenger scurrying to the gallery to inform the arch-plotter.
“Where is Delavan?”
It rose as a shout, penetrating every nook and corner of the great Stock Exchange space.
“Right up there!” called Mr. Coggswell, turning and pointing toward the gallery.
At that instant Mr. Delavan stood up. As he rose he cast off the linen duster and peaked cap. In the next moment he removed the disfiguring, concealing goggles from his eyes, dropping them to the floor.
“Delavan! Yes, it’s Delavan!” rose a mighty shout.
Justin Bolton turned at the same time. He fell back, clutching at a seat, gasping, his lower jaw dropping, his eyes protruding. It must be all a wild, disordered trick of the imagination, for wasn’t Francis Delavan a close prisoner in that schooner out at sea?
But as Justin Bolton, horror-stricken and dazed, continued to glare at the calm, smiling face of his foe, it was driven home to him that here, indeed, was Delavan in the flesh.
It came over the scoundrel slowly, but crushingly. Still wildly staring, foam flecking his lips, Justin Bolton sank back in his seat.
And those below saw. While they could not comprehend it all, they knew that Justin Bolton, who was known to be the chief factor behind the “bear” movement in P. & Y. stock, plainly admitted defeat.
At all events, Francis Delavan was neither an absconder nor a defaulter, since he was here in the flesh and dared show himself. Then it was that the report of the accountants, as published in the evening newspapers, was remembered and accepted in good faith. Plainly the “bear” movement had been based on a cruel hoax of some kind.
When the tumult had begun to subside, a broker’s voice was heard announcing:
“I bid 67 for three thousand P. & Y.!”
The upward movement started then and there. Yet there were many cautious ones. Almost at the outset a score of excited operators left the floor to crowd about Francis Delavan.
The two intensely interested motor boat boys extricated themselves from that crush, standing well apart from the crowd.
“You fool!” hissed a voice in Tom Halstead’s ear.
The young skipper turned, to find himself gazing into the glaring eyes of Justin Bolton.
“In some way,” declared the scoundrel, “this is all your work!”
“Partly mine, partly that of my friends,” Tom smilingly admitted.
“You may have beaten me, but I offered you a fortune to work on my side. What do you get out of this turn of affairs?”
“The satisfaction, at least, Mr. Bolton, of knowing that I’m a decent human being, true to what little trusts may come my way.”
“Bah! That, as against a fortune!”
Then, suddenly, as though actuated by uncontrollable fury, Bolton leaped at young Halstead, gripping him furiously by the throat.
“Quit that!” commanded Joe Dawson, sternly. Without waiting the young engineer swung his fist, striking Bolton a heavy blow full in the face.
The maddened financier let go, staggering back. He reached for one of his hip pockets.
But two new actors moved swiftly into this scene. They were plain clothes policemen, provided by the thoughtfulness of Broker Coggswell. Bolton was seized, and his right hand followed to his hip pocket.
“You don’t need this weapon,” remarked one of the officers, taking Bolton’s revolver. “Calm down, man, and come with us.”
“But, good heavens, officer, I can’t leave here now,” cried Bolton, his eyes flashing fire. “I’ve millions of dollars at stake on the floor below.”
“Then calm down and behave yourself,” advised the other policeman. “If you had drawn that gun and pointed it, we’d have to take you. Behave yourself, and we’ll let you stay here and attend to your deals.”
“I’ll – I’ll promise,” agreed Justin Bolton, his words coming in a gasp.
This scene, as quickly as it had taken place, had not altogether escaped the attention of those about Francis Delavan.
“Gentlemen,” said the “Rocket’s” owner, “if you can see any connection between my brief disappearance and that scene over yonder, you’re welcome to draw your own conclusions. But I’ve nothing further to say on the subject, for the present, at any rate. My absence from the world wasn’t a matter of my own choice – that’s all. As to P. & Y., I give you my word of honor that I regard it as a splendid investment, even at 110. If there’s any man here who ever knew me to lie, let him stand back and keep out of the good things that are going to happen on the Stock Exchange to-day.”
Broker Coggswell, with the help of three of his men, was now on the floor, snapping up all P. & Y. stock that offered. The selling price was above 70.
Then Clark, one of the Bolton brokers, came rushing up in person to consult his client. The two withdrew by themselves, forming the new plan of campaign.
While Bolton had been the power behind the plot against P. & Y. stock, yet there were scores of others who had been led into selling that railroad stock “short.” They were not going to allow themselves to be wiped out without a struggle of the fiercest sort.
In fact these “shorts” now rallied about Justin Bolton, and a powerful money combine was spontaneously formed.
Francis Delavan was yet a long way from having won the day. His dramatic appearance in the gallery of the Stock Exchange had brought about at least a strong momentary rise in P. & Y.
Could it be made to last?
“TWO MILLION DOLLARS A POINT”
SELDOM had a fiercer, more resolute fight been waged on the firing line of the money field.
On the whole, P. & Y. seemed to have the better of it, though the “shorts” fought with determination and discipline.
For an hour more Delavan, with his two motor boat boys and a few operators who preferred to remain near the great figure in this battle, remained in the gallery.
Then, with an easy, good-humored smile, the “Rocket’s” owner turned to Halstead with:
“I’m afraid, lad, I didn’t enjoy my breakfast this morning as much as I ought to have done. Let us three go out and find something good to eat.”
“Can you feel like eating now?” asked Halstead, in astonishment.
“Why, yes, Captain. Can’t you?”
“But I haven’t any money at stake down there,” replied Halstead, nodding toward the floor.
“Yes, you have. If I’m wiped out to-day I don’t know how I’m even to pay my motor boat crew. So, you see, you certainly have some money at stake, just as I have.”
“But my few dollars don’t amount to anything,” protested the young skipper, smiling.
“If I manage to come out on top of the heap, your ‘few dollars,’ as you call them, may prove to be quite a good many. However, come along to eat. It will serve to kill time, at least.”
So the trio left the Stock Exchange building. Mr. Coggswell couldn’t go, as he must be on hand to manage the details of the fight.
Delavan and his young employes went to one of the famous restaurants nearby. They were followed by several brokers who wanted more information, but Francis Delavan engaged a private room at the restaurant, and thus barred out all intrusion.
“Now,” proposed the host, “we can put in at least a couple of good hours if we eat slowly.”
“Can you spare all that time, sir?” inquired Dawson.
“Why, bless you, boy, I could spare the day, if I had to,” laughed Mr. Delavan. “The fight is up to Coggswell and his aides. There’s nothing I can do now.”
“Are you going to ’phone any word to Mr. Moddridge?” asked Captain Halstead.
“What’s the use? We’re a long way from out of the woods, yet, and poor Moddridge, on any uncertain news, would only go worse to pieces. Now, boys, please don’t even think of the word business until we’re out of this place.”
It was after two o’clock when they left the restaurant. Mr. Delavan was smoking a cigar as they stepped to the sidewalk. At the curb stood an automobile that he had ordered by ’phone.ñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî
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