A Woman Intervenes by Robert Barr
The chances are that, no matter under what circumstances young Longworth and Kenyon had first met, the former would have disliked the latter. Although strong friendships are formed between men who are dissimilar, it must not be forgotten that equally strong hatreds have arisen between people merely because they were of opposite natures. No two young men could have been more unlike each other; and as Longworth recalled the different meetings he had had with Kenyon, he admitted to himself that he had an extreme antipathy to the engineer. The evident friendship which his cousin felt for Kenyon added a bitterness to this dislike which was rapidly turning it into hate. However, he calmed down sufficiently, on going home in the carriage, to become convinced that it was better to say nothing about her meeting with Kenyon unless she introduced the subject. After all, the carriage was hers, not his, and he recognised that fact. He wondered how much Kenyon had told her of the interview at his uncle's office. He flattered himself, however, that he knew enough of women to be sure that she would very speedily refer to the subject, and then he hoped to learn just how much had been said. To his surprise, his cousin said nothing at all about the matter, neither that evening nor the next morning, and, consequently, he went to his office in a somewhat bewildered state of mind.
On arriving at his room in the City, he found Melville waiting for him.
Melville shook hands with young Longworth, and, taking a mineral specimen from his pocket, placed it on the young man's desk, saying;
'I suppose you know where that comes from?'
Longworth looked at it with an air of indecision which made Melville suspect he knew very little about it.
'I haven't the slightest idea, really.'
'No? I was told you were interested in the mine from which this was taken. Mr. Wentworth called on me yesterday, and gave your name as one of those who were concerned with the mine.'
'Ah, yes, I see; yes, yes, I have--some interest in the mine.'
'Well, it is about that I came to talk with you. Where is the mine situated?'
'It is near the Ottawa River, I believe, some distance above Montreal. I am not certain about its exact position, but it is somewhere in that neighbourhood.'
'I thought by the way Wentworth talked it was in the United States. He mentioned another person as being his partner in the affair; I forget his name.'
'John Kenyon, probably.'
'Kenyon! Yes, I think that was the name. Yes, I am sure it was. Now, may I ask what is your connection with that mine? Are you a partner of Wentworth's and Kenyon's? Are you the chief owner of the mine, or is the mine owned by them?'
'In the first place, Mr. Melville, I should like to know why you ask me these questions?'
'Well, I will tell you. We should like to know what chance there is of our getting a controlling interest in the mine. That is very frankly put, isn't it?'
'Yes, it is. But whom do you mean by "we"? Who else besides yourself?'
'By "we" I mean the china company to which I belong. This mineral is useful in making china. That I suppose you know.'
'Yes, I was aware of that,' answered Longworth, although he heard it now for the first time.
'Very well, then; I should like to know who is the owner of the mine.'
'The owner of the mine at present is some foreigner whose name and address I do not know. The two young men you speak of have an option on that mine for a certain length of time--how long I don't know. They have been urging me to go in with them to form a company for the floating of that mine for two hundred thousand pounds on the London market.'
'Two hundred thousand pounds!' said Melville. 'That seems to me rather a large amount.'
'Do you think so? Well, the objection I had to it was that it was too small.'
'Those two men must have an exaggerated idea of the value of this mineral if they think it will pay dividends on two hundred thousand pounds.'
'This mineral is not all there is in the mine. In fact, it is already paying a dividend on fifty thousand pounds or thereabouts, because of the mica in it. It is being mined for mica alone. To tell the truth, I did not know much about the other mineral.'
'And do you think the mine is worth two hundred thousand pounds?'
'Frankly, I do not.'
'Then why are you connected with it?'
'I am not connected with it--at least, not definitely connected with it. I have the matter under consideration. Of course, if there is anything approaching a swindle in it, I shall have nothing to do with it. It will depend largely on the figures that the two men show me whether I have anything to do with it or not.'
'I see; I understand your position.' Then, lowering his voice, Melville leaned over towards Longworth, and said: 'You are a man of business. Now, I want to ask you what would be the chance of our getting the mine at something like the original option priced which is, of course, very much less than two hundred thousand pounds? We do not want to have too many in it. In fact, if you could get it for us at a reasonable rate, and did not care to be troubled with the property yourself, we would take the whole ourselves.'
Young Longworth pondered a moment, and then said to Melville:
'Do you mean to freeze out the other two fellows, as they say in America?'
'I do not know about freezing out; but, of course, with the other two there is so much less profit to be divided. We should like to deal with just as few as if possible.'
'Exactly. I see what you mean. I think it can be done. Are you in any great hurry to secure the mine?'
'Not particularly. Why?'
'Well, if things are worked rightly, I don't know but what we could get it for the original option. That would mean, of course, to wait until this first option had run out.'
'Wouldn't there be a little danger in that? They may form their company in the meantime, and then we should lose everything. Our interest in the matter is as much to prevent anyone else getting hold of the mine as to get it ourselves.'
'I see. I will think it over. I believe it can be done without great risk; but, of course, we shall have to be reasonably quiet about the matter.'
'I see the necessity of that.'
'Very good. I will see you again after I have thought over the affair, and we can come to some arrangement.'
'I may say that our manager has written a note to Wentworth, saying that this mineral is of no particular use to us.'
'Exactly,' said young Longworth, with a look of intelligence.
'So, of course, in speaking with Wentworth about the mine, it is just as well not to mention us in any way.'
'I shall not.'
'Very well. I will leave the matter in your hands for the present.'
'Yes, do so. I will think over it this afternoon, and probably see Wentworth and Kenyon to-morrow. There is no immediate hurry, for I happen to know they have not done anything yet.'
With that Mr. Melville took his leave, and young Longworth paced up and down the room, evolving a plan that would at once bring him money and give him the satisfaction of making it lively for John Kenyon.
When he reached home, Longworth waited for his cousin to say something about Kenyon; but he soon saw that she did not intend to speak of him at all. So he said to her:
'Edith, do you remember Kenyon and Wentworth--who were on board our steamer?'
'I remember them very well.'
'Did you know they had a mining property for sale?'
'I have been thinking about it--in fact, Kenyon called at my office a day or two ago, and at that time, not having given the subject much thought, I could not give him any encouragement; but I have been pondering over it since, and have almost decided to help them. What do you think about it?'
'Oh, I think it would be an excellent plan. I am sure the property is a good one, or Mr. Kenyon would have nothing to do with it. I shall write a note to them, if you think it advisable, inviting them here to talk with you about it.'
'That will not be necessary at all. I do not want people to come here to talk business. My office is the proper place.'
'Still, we met them in a friendly way on board the steamer, and I think it would be nice if they came here some evening and talked over the matter with you.'
'I don't believe in introducing business into a man's home. This would be a purely business conversation, and it may as well take place at my office, or at Wentworth's, if he has one, as I suppose he has.'
'Oh, certainly; his address is----'
'Oh, you know it, do you?'
Edith blushed as she realized what she had said; then she remarked:
'Is there any harm in my knowing the business address of Mr. Wentworth?'
'Oh, not at all--not at all. I merely wondered how you happened to know his address, when I didn't.'
'Well, it doesn't matter how I know it. I am glad you are going to join him, and I am sure you will be successful. Will you see them to-morrow?'
'I think so. I shall call on Wentworth and have a talk with him about it. Of course we may not be able to come to a workable arrangement. If not, it really does not matter very much. But if I can make satisfactory terms with them, I will help them to form their company.'
When Edith went to her own room she wrote a note. It was addressed to George Wentworth in the City, but above that address was the name John Kenyon. She said:
'DEAR MR. KENYON,
'I was certain at the time you spoke that my cousin was not so much at fault in forgetting his conversation as you thought. We had a talk to night about the mine, and when he calls upon you tomorrow, as he intends to do, I want you to know that I said nothing whatever to him of what you told me. He mentioned the subject first. I wanted you to know this because you might feel embarrassed when you met him by thinking I had sent him to you. That is not at all the case. He goes to you of his own accord, and I am sure you will find his assistance in forming a company very valuable. I am glad to think you will be partners.
'Yours very truly,
She gave this letter to her maid to post, and young Longworth met the maid in the hall with the letter in her hand. He somehow suspected, after the foregoing conversation, to whom the letter was addressed.
'Where are you going with that?'
'To the post, sir.'
'I am going out; to save you the trouble I will take it.'
After passing the corner, he looked at the address on the envelope; then he swore to himself a little. If he had been a villain in a play he would have opened the letter; but he did not. He merely dropped it into the first pillar-box he came to, and in due time it reached John Kenyon.