The Riverman by Stewart Edward White
"I have Heinzman's contract all drawn," said Newmark the next morning, "and I think I'll go around with you to the office."
At the appointed time they found the little German awaiting them, a rotund smile of false good-nature illuminating his rosy face. Orde introduced his partner. Newmark immediately took charge of the interview.
"I have executed here the contract, and the bonds secured by Mr. Orde's and my shares of stock in the new company," he explained. "It is only necessary that you affix your signature and summon the required witnesses."
Heinzman reached his hands for the papers, beaming over his glasses at the two young men.
As he read, however, his smile vanished, and he looked up sharply.
"Vat is this?" he inquired, a new crispness in his voice. "You tolt me," he accused Orde, "dot you were not brepared to break out the rollways. You tolt me you would egspect me to do that for myself."
"Certainly," agreed Orde.
"Vell, why do you put in this?" demanded Heinzman, reading from the paper in his hand. "'In case said rollways belonging to said parties of the second part are not broken out by the time the drive has reached them, and in case on demand said parties of the second part do refuse or do not exercise due diligence in breaking out said rollways, the said parties of the first part shall themselves break out said rollways, and the said parties of the second part do hereby agree to reimburse said parties of the first part at the rate of a dollar per thousand board feet.'"
"That is merely to protect ourselves," struck in Newmark.
"But," exploded Heinzman, his face purpling, "a dollar a tousand is absurd!"
"Of course it is," agreed Newmark. "We expect it to be. But also we expect you to break out your own rollways in time. It is intended as a penalty in case you don't."
"I vill not stand for such foolishness," pounded Heinzman on the arm of his chair.
"Very well," said Newmark crisply, reaching for the contract.
But Heinzman clung to it.
"It is absurd," he repeated in a milder tone. "See, I vill strike it out." He did so with a few dashes of the pen.
"We have no intention," stated Newmark with decision, "of giving you the chance to hang up our drive."
Heinzman caught his breath like a child about to cry out.
"So that is what you think!" he shouted at them. "That's the sort of men you think we are! I'll show you you cannot come into honest men's offices to insoolt them by such insinuations!" He tore the contract in pieces and threw it in the waste basket. "Get oudt of here!" he cried.
Newmark arose as dry and precise as ever. Orde was going red and white by turns, and his hands twitched.
"Then I understand you to refuse our offer?" asked Newmark coolly.
"Refuse! Yes! You and your whole kapoodle!" yelled Heinzman.
He hopped down and followed them to the grill door, repeating over and over that he had been insulted. The clerks stared in amazement.
Once at the foot of the dark stairs and in the open street, Orde looked up at the sky with a deep breath of relief.
"Whew!" said he, "that was a terror! We've gone off the wrong foot that time."
Newmark looked at him with some amusement.
"You don't mean to say that fooled you!" he marvelled.
"What?" asked Orde.
"All that talk about insults, and the rest of the rubbish. He saw we had spotted his little scheme; and he had to retreat somehow. It was as plain as the nose on your face."
"You think so?" doubted Orde.
"I know so. If he was mad at all, it was only at being found out."
"Maybe," said Orde.
"We've got an enemy on our hands in any case," concluded Newmark, "and one we'll have to look out for, I don't know how he'll do it; but he'll try to make trouble on the river. Perhaps he'll try to block the stream by not breaking his rollways."
"One of the first things we'll do will be to boom through a channel where Mr. Man's rollways will be," said Orde.
A faint gleam of approval lit Newmark's eyes.
"I guess you'll be equal to the occasion," said he drily.
Before the afternoon train, there remained four hours. The partners at once hunted out the little one-story frame building near the river in which Johnson conducted his business.
Johnson received them with an evident reserve of suspicion.
"I see no use in it," said he, passing his hand over his hair "slicked" down in the lumber-jack fashion. "I can run me own widout help from any man."
"Which seems to settle that!" said Newmark to Orde after they had left.
"Oh, well, his drive is small; and he's behind us," Orde pointed out.
"True," said Newmark thoughtfully.
"Now," said Newmark, as they trudged back to their hotel to get lunch and their hand-bags. "I'll get to work at my part of it. This proposition of Heinzman's has given me an idea. I'm not going to try to sell this stock outside, but to the men who own timber along the river. Then they won't be objecting to the tolls; for if the company makes any profits, part will go to them."
"Good idea!" cried Orde.
"I'll take these contracts, to show we can do the business."
"And I'll see about incorporation. Also I'll look about and get a proper office and equipments, and get hold of a book-keeper. Of course we'll have to make this our headquarters."
"I suppose so," said Orde a little blankly. After an instant he laughed. "Do you know, I hadn't thought of that? We'll have to live here, won't we?"
"Also," went on Newmark calmly, "I'll buy the supplies to the best advantage I can, and see that they get here in good shape. I have our preliminary lists, and as fast as you think you need anything, send a requisition in to me, and I'll see to it."
"And I?" inquired Orde.
"You'll get right at the construction. Get the booms built and improve the river where it needs it. Begin to get your crew--I'm not going to tell you how; you know better than I do. Only get everything in shape for next spring's drive. You can start right off. We have my money to begin on."
Orde laughed and stretched his arms over his head.
"My! She's a nice big job, isn't she?" he cried joyously.