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Title: The Early Bird - A Business Man's Love Story
Author: Chester, George Randolph, 1869-1924
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Early Bird - A Business Man's Love Story" ***

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[Frontispiece: They stopped and had a drink of the cool water]



THE EARLY BIRD

_A Business Man's Love Story_


BY

GEORGE RANDOLPH CHESTER



Author of

THE MAKING OF BOBBY BURNIT



WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY

ARTHUR WILLIAM BROWN



INDIANAPOLIS

THE BOBBS-MERRILL COMPANY

PUBLISHERS



COPYRIGHT 1910

THE BOBBS-MERRILL COMPANY



CONTENTS


CHAPTER

     I  A VERY BUSY YOUNG MAN
    II  MR. TURNER PLUNGES
   III  A MATTER OF DELICACY
    IV  GREEK MEETS GREEK
     V  MISS JOSEPHINE'S FATHER
    VI  MARASCHINO CHOCOLATES
   VII  A DANCE NUMBER
  VIII  NOT SAM'S FAULT THIS TIME
    IX  A VIOLENT FLIRT
     X  A PIANOLA TRAINING
    XI  THE WESTLAKES INVEST
   XII  ANOTHER MISSED APPOINTMENT
  XIII  A RIDE WITH MISS STEVENS
   XIV  MATRIMONIAL ELIGIBILITY
    XV  THE HERO OF THE HOUR
   XVI  AN INTERRUPTED PROPOSAL
  XVII  SHE CALLS HIM SAM!
 XVIII  A BUSINESS PARTNER



ILLUSTRATIONS

They stopped and had a drink of the cool water . . . _Frontispiece_

They waylaid him on the porch

Hepseba studied him from head to foot

Sam played again the plaintive little air

"I don't like to worry you, Sam"

"Excuse me!" stammered Mr. Stevens



THE EARLY BIRD


CHAPTER I

WHEREIN A VERY BUSY YOUNG MAN STARTS ON AN ABSOLUTE REST

The youngish-looking man who so vigorously swung off the train at
Restview, wore a pair of intensely dark blue eyes which immediately
photographed everything within their range of vision--flat green
country, shaded farm-houses, encircling wooded hills and all--weighed
it and sorted it and filed it away for future reference; and his
clothes clung on him with almost that enviable fit found only in
advertisements.  Immediately he threw his luggage into the tonneau of
the dingy automobile drawn up at the side of the lonely platform, and
promptly climbed in after it.  Spurred into purely mechanical action by
this silent decisiveness, the driver, a grizzled graduate from a hay
wagon, and a born grump, as promptly and as silently started his
machine.  The crisp and perfect start, however, was given check by a
peremptory voice from the platform.

"Hey, you!" rasped the voice.  "Come back here!"

As there were positively no other "Hey yous" in the landscape, the
driver and the alert young man each acknowledged to the name, and
turned to see an elderly gentleman, with a most aggressive beard and
solid corpulency, gesticulating at them with much vigor and
earnestness.  Standing beside him was a slender sort of girl in a green
outfit, with very large brown eyes and a smile of amusement which was
just a shade mischievous.  The driver turned upon his passenger a long
and solemn accusation.

"Hollis Creek Inn?" he asked sternly.

"Meadow Brook," returned the passenger, not at all abashed, and he
smiled with all the cheeriness imaginable.

"Oh," said the driver, and there was a world of disapprobation in his
tone, as well as a subtle intonation of contempt.  "You are not Mr.
Stevens of Boston."

"No," confessed the passenger; "Mr. Turner of New York.  I judge that
to be Mr. Stevens on the platform," and he grinned.

The driver, still declining to see any humor whatsoever in the
situation, sourly ran back to the platform.  Jumping from his seat he
opened the door of the tonneau, and waited with entirely artificial
deference for Mr. Turner of New York to alight.  Mr. Turner, however,
did nothing of the sort.  He merely stood up in the tonneau and bowed
gravely.

"I seem to be a usurper," he said pleasantly to Mr. Stevens of Boston.
"I was expected at Meadow Brook, and they were to send a conveyance for
me.  As this was the only conveyance in sight I naturally supposed it
to be mine.  I very much regret having discommoded you."

He was looking straight at Mr. Stevens of Boston as he spoke, but,
nevertheless, he was perfectly aware of the presence of the girl; also
of her eyes and of her smile of amusement with its trace of
mischievousness.  Becoming conscious of his consciousness of her, he
cast her deliberately out of his mind and concentrated upon Mr.
Stevens.  The two men gazed quite steadily at each other, not to the
point of impertinence at all, but nevertheless rather absorbedly.
Really it was only for a fleeting moment, but in that moment they had
each penetrated the husk of the other, had cleaved straight down to the
soul, had estimated and judged for ever and ever, after the ways of men.

"I passed your carryall on the road.  It was broke down.  It'll be here
in about a half hour, I suppose," insisted the driver, opening the door
of the tonneau still wider, and waving the descending pathway with his
right hand.

Both Mr. Stevens of Boston and Mr. Turner of New York were very glad of
this interruption, for it gave the older gentleman an object upon which
to vent his annoyance.

"Is Meadow Brook on the way to Hollis Creek?" he demanded in a tone
full of reproof for the driver's presumption.

The driver reluctantly admitted that it was.

"I couldn't think of leaving you in this dismal spot to wait for a
dubious carryall," offered Mr. Stevens, but with frigid politeness.
"You are quite welcome to ride with us, if you will."

"Thank you," said Mr. Turner, now climbing out of the machine with
alacrity and making way for the others.  "I had intended," he laughed,
as he took his place beside the driver, "to secure just such an
invitation, by hook or by crook."

For this assurance he received a glance from the big eyes; not at all a
flirtatious glance, but one of amusement, with a trace of mischief.
The remark, however, had well-nigh stopped all conversation on the part
of Mr. Stevens, who suddenly remembered that he had a daughter to
protect, and must discourage forwardness.  His musings along these
lines were interrupted by an enthusiastic outburst from Mr. Turner.

"By George!" exclaimed the latter gentleman, "what a fine clump of
walnut trees; an even half-dozen, and every solitary one of them would
trim sixteen inches."

"Yes," agreed the older man with keenly awakened interest, "they are
fine specimens.  They would scale six hundred feet apiece, if they'd
scale an inch."

"You're in the lumber business, I take it," guessed the young man
immediately, already reaching for his card-case.  "My name is Turner,
known a little better as Sam Turner, of Turner and Turner."

"Sam Turner," repeated the older man thoughtfully.  "The name seems
distinctly familiar to me, but I do not seem, either, to remember of
any such firm in the trade."

"Oh, we're not in the lumber line," replied Mr. Turner.  "Not at all.
We're in most anything that offers a profit.  We--that is my kid
brother and myself--have engineered a deal or two in lumber lands,
however.  It was only last month that I turned a good trade--a very
good trade--on a tract of the finest trees in Wisconsin."

"The dickens!" exclaimed the older gentleman explosively.  "So you're
the Turner who sold us our own lumber!  Now I know you.  I'm Stevens,
of the Maine and Wisconsin Lumber Company."

Sam Turner laughed aloud, in both surprise and glee.  Mr. Stevens had
now reached for his own card-case.  The two gentlemen exchanged cards,
which, with barely more than a glance, they poked in the other flaps of
their cases; then they took a new and more interested inspection of
each other.  Both were now entirely oblivious to the girl, who,
however, was by no means oblivious to them.  She found them, in this
new meeting, a most interesting study.

"You gouged us on that land, young man," resumed Mr. Stevens with a wry
little smile.

"Worth every cent you paid us for it, wasn't it?" demanded the other.

"Y-e-s; but if you hadn't stepped into the deal at the last minute, we
could have secured it for five or six thousand dollars less money."

"You used to go after these things yourself," explained Mr. Turner with
an easy laugh.  "Now you send out people empowered only to look and not
to purchase."

"But what I don't yet understand," protested Mr. Stevens, "is how you
came to be in the deal at all.  When we sent out our men to inspect the
trees they belonged to a chap in Detroit.  When we came to buy them
they belonged to you."

"Certainly," agreed the younger man.  "I was up that way on other
business, when I heard about your man looking over this valuable
acreage; so I just slipped down to Detroit and hunted up the owner and
bought it.  Then I sold it to you.  That's all."

He smiled frankly and cheerfully upon Mr. Stevens, and the frown of
discomfiture which had slightly clouded the latter gentleman's brow,
faded away under the guilelessness of it all; so much so that he
thought to introduce his daughter.

Miss Josephine having been brought into the conversation, Mr. Turner,
for the first time, bent his gaze fully upon her, giving her the same
swift scrutiny and appraisement that he had the father.  He was
evidently highly satisfied with what he saw, for he kept looking at it
as much as he dared.  He became aware after a moment or so that Mr.
Stevens was saying something to him.  He never did get all of it, but
he got this much:

"--so you'd be rather a good man to watch, wherever you go."

"I hope so," agreed the other briskly.  "If I want anything, I go
prepared to grab it the minute I find that it suits me."

"Do you always get everything you want?" asked the young lady.

"Always," he answered her very earnestly, and looked her in the eyes so
speculatively, albeit unconsciously so, that she found herself battling
with a tendency to grow pink.

Her father nodded in approval.

"That's the way to get things," he said.  "What are you after now?
More lumber?"

"Rest," declared Mr. Turner with vigorous emphasis.  "I've worked like
a nailer ever since I turned out of high school.  I had to make the
living for the family, and I sent my kid brother through college.  He's
just been out a year and it's a wonder the way he takes hold.  But do
you know that in all those times since I left school I never took a
lay-off until just this minute?  It feels glorious already.  It's fine
to look around this good stretch of green country and breathe this
fresh air and look at those hills over yonder, and to realize that I
don't have to think of business for two solid weeks.  Just absolute
rest, for me!  I don't intend to talk one syllable of shop while I'm
here.  Hello! there's another clump of walnut trees.  It's a pity
they're scattered so that it isn't worth while to buy them up."

The girl laughed, a little silvery laugh which made any memory of grand
opera seem harsh and jangling.  Both men turned to her in surprise.
Neither of them could see any cause for mirth in all the fields or sky.

"I beg your pardon for being so silly," she said; "but I just thought
of something funny."

"Tell it to us," urged Mr. Turner.  "I've never taken the time I ought
to enjoy funny things, and I might as well begin right now."

But she shook her head, and in some way he acquired an impression that
she was amused at him.  His brows gathered a trifle.  If the young lady
intended to make sport of him he would take her down a peg or two.  He
would find her point of susceptibility to ridicule, and hammer upon it
until she cried enough.  That was his way to make men respectful, and
it ought to work with women.

When they let him out at Meadow Brook, Mr. Stevens was kind enough to
ask him to drop over to Hollis Creek.  Mr. Turner, with impulsive
alacrity, promised that he would.



CHAPTER II

WHEREIN MR. TURNER PLUNGES INTO THE BUSINESS OF RESTING

At Meadow Brook Sam Turner found W. W. Westlake, of the Westlake
Electric Company, a big, placid man with a mild gray eye and an
appearance of well-fed and kindly laziness; a man also who had the
record of having ruthlessly smashed more business competitors than any
two other pirates in his line.  Westlake, unclasping his fat hands from
his comfortable rotundity, was glad to see young Turner, also glad to
introduce the new eligible to his daughter, a girl of twenty-two,
working might and main to reduce a threatened inheritance of
embonpoint.  Mr. Turner was charmed to meet Miss Westlake, and even
more pleased to meet the gentleman who was with her, young Princeman, a
brisk paper manufacturer variously quoted at from one to two million.
He knew all about young Princeman; in fact, had him upon his mental
list as a man presently to meet and cultivate for a specific purpose,
and already Mr. Turner's busy mind offset the expenses of this trip
with an equal credit, much in the form of "By introduction to H. L.
Princeman, Jr. (Princeman and Son Paper Mills, AA 1), whatever it
costs."  He liked young Princeman at sight, too, and, proceeding
directly to the matter uppermost in his thoughts, immediately asked him
how the new tariff had affected his business.

"It's inconvenient," said Princeman with a shake of his head.  "Of
course, in the end the consumers must pay, but they protest so much
about it that they disarrange the steady course of our operations."

"It's queer that the ultimate consumer never will be quite reconciled
to his fate," laughed Mr. Turner; "but in this particular case, I think
I hold the solution.  You'll be interested, I know.  You see--"

"I beg your pardon, Mr. Turner," interrupted Miss Westlake gaily; "I
know you'll want to meet all the young folks, and you'll particularly
want to meet my very dearest friend.  Miss Hastings, Mr. Turner."

Mr. Turner had turned to find an extraordinarily thin young woman, with
extraordinarily piercing black eyes, at Miss Westlake's side.

"Indeed, I do want to meet all the young people," he cordially
asserted, taking Miss Hastings' claw-like hand in his own and wondering
what to do with it.  He could not clasp it and he could not shake it.
She relieved him of his dilemma, after a moment, by twining that arm
about the plump waist of her dearest friend.

"Is this your first stay at Meadow Brook?" she asked by way of starting
conversation.  She was very carefully vivacious, was Miss Hastings, and
had a bird-like habit, meant to be very fetching, of cocking her head
to one side as she spoke, and peering up to men--oh, away up--with the
beady expression of a pet canary.

"My very first visit," confessed Mr. Turner, not yet realizing the
disgrace it was to be "new people" at Meadow Brook, where there was
always an aristocracy of the grandchildren of original Meadow Brookers.
"However, I hope it won't be the last time," he continued.

"We shall all hope that, I am certain," Miss Westlake assured him,
smiling engagingly into the depths of his eyes.  "It will be our fault
if you don't like it here;" and he might take such tentative promise as
he would from that and her smile.

"Thank you," he said promptly enough.  "I can see right now that I'm
going to make Meadow Brook my future summer home.  It's such a restful
place, for one thing.  I'm beginning to rest right now, and to put
business so far into the background that--" he suddenly stopped and
listened to a phrase which his trained ear had caught.

"And that is the trouble with the whole paper business," Mr. Princeman
was saying to Mr. Westlake.  "It is not the tariff, but the future
scarcity of wood-pulp material."

"That's just what I was starting to explain to you," said Mr. Turner,
wheeling eagerly to Mr. Princeman, entirely unaware, in his intensity
of interest, of his utter rudeness to both groups.  "My kid brother and
myself are working on a scheme which, if we are on the right track,
ought to bring about a revolution in the paper business.  I can not
give you the exact details of it now, because we're waiting for letters
patent on it, but the fundamental point is this: that the wood-pulp
manufacturers within a few years will have to grow their raw material,
since wood is becoming so scarce and so high priced.  Well, there is
any quantity of swamp land available, and we have experimented like mad
with reeds and rushes.  We've found one particular variety which grows
very rapidly, has a strong, woody fiber, and makes the finest pulp in
the world.  I turned the kid loose with the company's bank roll this
spring, and he secured options on two thousand acres of swamp land,
near to transportation and particularly adapted to this culture, and
dirt cheap because it is useless for any other purpose.  As soon as the
patents are granted on our process we're going to organize a million
dollar stock company to take up more land and handle the business."

"Come over here and sit down," invited Princeman, somewhat more than
courteously.

"Wait a minute until I send for McComas.  Here, boy, hunt Mr. McComas
and ask him to come out on the porch."

The new guest was reaching for pencil and paper as they gathered their
chairs together.  The two girls had already started hesitantly to
efface themselves.  Half-way across the lawn they looked sadly toward
the porch again.  That handsome young Mr. Turner, his back toward them,
was deep in formulated but thrilling facts, while three other heads,
one gray and one black and one auburn, were bent interestedly over the
envelope upon which he was figuring.

Later on, as he was dressing for dinner, Mr. Turner decided that he
liked Meadow Brook very much.  It was set upon the edge of a pleasant,
rolling valley, faced and backed by some rather high hills, upon the
sloping side of one of which the hotel was built, with broad verandas
looking out upon exquisitely kept flowers and shrubbery and upon the
shallow little brook which gave the place its name.  A little more
water would have suited Sam better, but the management had made the
most of its opportunities, especially in the matter of arranging dozens
of pretty little lovers' lanes leading in all directions among the
trees and along the sides of the shimmering stream, and the whole
prospect was very good to look at, indeed.  Taken in conjunction with
the fact that one had no business whatever on hand, it gave one a sense
of delightful freedom to look out on the green lawn and the gay
gardens, on the brook and the tennis and croquet courts, and on the
purple-hazed, wooded hills beyond; it was good to fill one's lungs with
country air and to realize for a little while what a delightful world
this is; to see young people wandering about out there by twos and by
threes, and to meet with so many other people of affairs enjoying
leisure similar to one's own.

Of course, this wasn't a really fashionable place, being supported
entirely by men who had made their own money; but there was Princeman,
for instance, a fine chap and very keen; a well-set-up fellow,
black-haired and black-eyed, and of a quick, nervous disposition; one
of precisely the kind of energy which Turner liked to see.  McComas,
too, with his deep red hair and his tendency to freckles, and his frank
smile with all the white teeth behind it, was a corking good fellow;
and alive.  McComas was in the furniture line, a maker of cheap stuff
which was shipped in solid trains of carload lots from a factory that
covered several acres.  The other men he noticed around the place
seemed to be of about the same stamp.  He had never been anywhere that
the men averaged so well.

As he went down-stairs, McComas introduced his wife, already gowned for
the evening.  She was a handsome woman, of the sort who would wear a
different stunning gown every night for two weeks and then go on to the
next place.  Well, she had a right to this extravagance.  Besides it is
good for a man's business to have his wife dressed prosperously.  A man
who is getting on in the world ought to have a handsome wife.  If she
is the right kind, of Miss Stevens' type, say, she is a distinct asset.

After dinner, Miss Westlake and Miss Hastings waylaid him on the porch.

[Illustration: They waylaid him on the porch]

"I suppose, of course, you are going to take part in the bowling
tournament to-night," suggested Miss Westlake with the engaging
directness allowable to family friendship.

"I suppose so, although I didn't know there was one.  Where is it to be
held?"

"Oh, just down the other side of the brook, beyond the croquet grounds.
We have a tournament every week, and a prize cup for the best score in
the season.  It's lots of fun.  Do you bowl?"

"Not very much," Mr. Turner confessed; "but if you'll just keep me
posted on all these various forms of recreation, you may count on my
taking a prominent share in them."

"All right," agreed Miss Hastings, very vivaciously taking the
conversation away from Miss Westlake.  "We'll constitute ourselves a
committee of two to lay out a program for you."

"Fine," he responded, bending on the fragile Miss Hastings a smile so
pleasant that it made her instantly determine to find out something
about his family and commercial standing.  "What time do we start on
our mad bowling career?"

"They'll be drifting over in about a half-hour," Miss Westlake told
him, with a speculative sidelong glance at her dearest girl friend.
"Everybody starts out for a stroll in some other direction, as if
bowling was the least of their thoughts, but they all wind up at the
alleys.  I'll show you."  A slight young man of the white-trousered
faction, as distinguished from the dinner-coat crowd, passed them just
then.  "Oh, Billy," called Miss Westlake, and introduced the slight
young man, who proved to be her brother, to Mr. Turner, at the same
time wreathing her arm about the waist of her dear companion.  "Come
on, Vivian; let's go get our wraps," and the girls, leaving "Billy" and
Mr. Turner together, scurried away.

The two young men looked at each other dubiously, though each had an
earnest desire to please.  They groped for human understanding, and
suddenly that clammy, discouraged feeling spread its muffling wall
between them.  Billy was the first to recover in part.

"Charming weather, isn't it?" he observed with a polite smile.

Mr. Turner opined that it was, the while delving into Mr. Westlake's
mental workshop and finding it completely devoid of tools, patterns or
lumber.

"The girls are just going to take me over to bowl," Mr. Turner ventured
desperately after a while.  "Do you bowl very much?"

"Oh, I usually fill in," stated Mr. Westlake; "but really, I'm a very
poor hand at it.  I seem to be a poor hand at most everything," and he
laughed with engaging candor, as if somehow this were creditable.

The conversation thereupon lagged for a moment or two, while Mr. Turner
blankly asked himself: "What is thunder does a man talk about when he
has nothing to say and nobody to say it to?"  Presently he solved the
problem.

"It must be beautiful out here in the autumn," he observed.

"Yes, it is indeed," returned Mr. Westlake with alacrity.  "The leaves
turn all sorts of colors."

Once more conversation lagged, while Billy feebly wondered how any
person could possibly be so dull as this chap.  He made another attempt.

"Beastly place, though, when it rains," he observed.

"Yes, I should imagine so," agreed Mr. Turner.  Great Scott!  The voice
of McComas saved him from utter imbecility.

"You'll excuse Mr. Turner a moment, won't you, Billy?" begged McComas
pleasantly.  "I want to introduce him to a couple of friends of mine."

Billy Westlake bowed his forgiveness of Mr. McComas with fully as much
relief as Sam Turner had felt.  Over in the same corner of the porch
where he had sat in the afternoon with McComas and Princeman and the
elder Westlake, Sam found awaiting them Mr. Cuthbert, of the American
Papier-Mâché Company, an almost viciously ugly man with a twisted nose
and a crooked mouth, who controlled practically all the worth-while
papier-mâché business of the United States, and Mr. Blackrock, an
elderly man with a young toupee and particularly gaunt cheek-bones, who
was a corporation lawyer of considerable note.  Both gentlemen greeted
Mr. Turner as one toward whom they were already highly predisposed, and
Mr. Princeman and Mr. Westlake also shook hands most cordially, as if
Sam had been gone for a day or two.  Mr. McComas placed a chair for him.

"We just happened to mention your marsh pulp idea, and Mr. Cuthbert and
Mr. Blackrock were at once very highly interested," observed McComas as
they sat dawn.  "Mr. Blackrock suggests that he don't see why you need
wait for the issuance of the letters patent, at least to discuss the
preliminary steps in the forming of your company."

"Why, no, Mr. Turner," said Mr. Blackrock, suavely and smoothly; "it is
not a company anyhow, as I take it, which will depend so much upon
letters patent as upon extensive exploitation."

"Yes, that's true enough," agreed Sam with a smile.  "The letters
patent, however, should give my kid brother and myself, without much
capital, controlling interest in the stock."

Upon this frank but natural statement the others laughed quite
pleasantly.

"That seems a plausible enough reason," admitted Mr. Westlake, folding
his fat hands across his equator and leaning back in his chair with a
placidity which seemed far removed from any thought of gain.  "How did
you propose to organize your company?"

"Well," said Sam, crossing one leg comfortably over the other, "I
expect to issue a half million participating preferred stock, at five
per cent., and a half-million common, one share of common as bonus with
each two shares of preferred; the voting power, of course, vested in
the common."

A silence followed that, and then Mr. Cuthbert, with a diagonal yawing
of his mouth which seemed to give his words a special dryness, observed:

"And I presume you intend to take up the balance of the common stock?"

"Just about," returned Mr. Turner cheerfully, addressing Cuthbert
directly.  The papier-mâché king was another man whom he had inscribed,
some time since, upon his mental list.  "My kid brother and myself will
take two hundred and fifty thousand of the common stock for our patents
and processes, and for our services as promoters and organizers, and
will purchase enough of the preferred to give us voting power; say five
thousand dollars worth."

Mr. Cuthbert shook his head.

"Very stringent terms," he observed.  "I doubt if you will interest
your capital on that basis."

"All right," said Sam, clasping his knee in his hands and rocking
gently.  "If we can't organize on that basis we won't organize at all.
We're in no hurry.  My kid brother's handling it just now, anyhow.  I'm
on a vacation, the first I ever had, and not keen upon business, by any
means.  In the meantime, let me show you some figures."

Five minutes later, Billy Westlake and his sister and Miss Hastings
drew up to the edge of the group.  Young Westlake stood diffidently for
two or three minutes beside Mr. Turner's chair, and then he put his
hand on that summer idler's shoulder.

"Oh, good evening, Mr.--Mr.--Mr.--" Sam stammered while he tried to
find the name.

"Westlake," interposed Billy's father; and then, a trifle impatiently,
"What do you want, Billy?"

"Mr. Turner was to go over with us to the bowling shed, dad."

"That's so," admitted Mr. Turner, glancing over to the porch rail where
the girls stood expectantly in their fluffy white dresses, and nodding
pleasantly at them, but not yet rising.  He was in the midst of an
important statement.

"Just you run on with the girls, Billy," ordered Mr. Westlake.  "Mr.
Turner will be over in a few minutes."

The others of the circle bent their eyes gravely upon Billy and the
girls as they turned away, and waited for Mr. Turner to resume.

At a quarter past ten, as Mr. Turner and Mr. Princeman walked slowly
along the porch to turn into the parlors for a few minutes of music, of
which Sam was very fond, a crowd of young people came trooping up the
steps.  Among them were Billy Westlake and his sister, another young
gentleman and Miss Hastings.

"By George, that bowling tournament!" exclaimed Mr. Turner.  "I forgot
all about it."

He was about to make his apologies, but Miss Westlake and Miss Hastings
passed right on, with stern, set countenances and their heads in air.
Apparently they did not see Mr. Turner at all.  He gazed after them in
consternation; suddenly there popped into his mind the vision of a
slender girl in green, with mischievous brown eyes--and he felt
strangely comforted.  Before retiring he wired his brother to send some
samples of the marsh pulp, and the paper made from it.



CHAPTER III

MR. TURNER APPLIES BUSINESS PROMPTNESS TO A MATTER OF DELICACY

Morning at Meadow Brook was even more delightful than evening.  The
time Mr. Turner had chosen for his outing was early September, and
already there was a crispness in the air which was quite invigorating.
Clad in flannels and with a brand new tennis racket under his arm, he
went into the reading-room immediately after breakfast, bought a paper
of the night before and glanced hastily over the news of the day,
paying more particular attention to the market page.  Prices of things
had a peculiar fascination for him.  He noticed that cereals had gone
down, that there was another flurry in copper stock, and that hardwood
had gone up, and ranging down the list his eye caught a quotation for
walnut.  It had made a sharp advance of ten dollars a thousand feet.

Out of the window, as he looked up, he saw Miss Westlake and Miss
Hastings crossing the lawn, and he suddenly realized that he was here
to wear himself out with rest, so he hurried in the direction the girls
had taken; but when he arrived at the tennis court he found a set
already in progress.  Both Miss Westlake and Miss Hastings barely
nodded at Mr. Turner, and went right on displaying grace and dexterity
to a quite unusual degree.  Decidedly Mr. Turner was being "cut," and
he wondered why.  Presently he strode down to the road and looked up
over the hill in the direction he knew Hollis Creek Inn to be.  He was
still pondering the probable distance when Mr. Westlake and Billy and
young Princeman came up the brook path.

"Just the chap I wanted to see, Sam," said Mr. Westlake heartily.  "I'm
trying to get up a pin-hook fishing contest, for three-inch sunfish."

"Happy thought," returned Sam, laughing.  "Count me in."

"It's the governor's own idea, too," said Billy with vast enthusiasm.
"Bully sport, it ought to be.  Only trouble is, Princeman has some
mysterious errand or other, and can't join us."

"No; the fact is, the Stevenses were due at Hollis Creek yesterday,"
confessed Mr. Princeman in cold return to the prying Billy, "and I
think I'll stroll over and see if they've arrived."

Sam Turner surveyed Princeman with a new interest.  Danger lurked in
Princeman's black eyes, fascination dwelt in his black hair,
attractiveness was in every line of his athletic figure.  It was upon
the tip of Sam's tongue to say that he would join Princeman in his
walk, but he repressed that instinct immediately.

"Quite a long ways over there by the road, isn't it?" he questioned.

"Yes," admitted Princeman unsuspectingly, "it winds a good bit; but
there is a path across the hills which is not only shorter but far more
pleasant."

Sam turned to Mr. Westlake.

"It would be a shame not to let Princeman in on that pin-hook match,"
he suggested.  "Why not put it off until to-morrow morning.  I have an
idea that I can beat Princeman at the game."

There was more or less of sudden challenge in his tone, and Princeman,
keen as Sam himself, took it in that way.

"Fine!" he invited.  "Any time you want to enter into a contest with me
you just mention it."

"I'll let you know in some way or other, even if I don't make any
direct announcement," laughed Sam, and Princeman walked away with Mr.
Westlake, very much to Billy's consternation.  He was alone with this
dull Turner person once more.  What should they talk about?  Sam solved
that problem for him at once.  "What's the swiftest conveyance these
people keep?" he asked briskly.

"Oh, you can get most anything you like," said Billy.  "Saddle-horses
and carriages of all sorts; and last year they put in a couple of
automobiles, though scarcely any one uses them."  There was a certain
amount of careless contempt in Billy's tone as he mentioned the hired
autos.  Evidently they were not considered to be as good form as other
modes of conveyance.

"Where's the garage?" asked Sam.

"Right around back of the hotel.  Just follow that drive."

"Thanks," said the other crisply.  "I'll see you this evening," and he
stalked away leaving Billy gasping for breath at the suddenness of Sam.
After all, though, he was glad to be rid of Mr. Turner.  He knew the
Stevenses himself, and it had slowly dawned on him that by having his
own horse saddled he could beat Princeman over there.

It took Sam just about one minute to negotiate for an automobile, a
neat little affair, shiny and new, and before they were half-way to
Hollis Creek, his innate democracy led him into conversation with the
driver, an alert young man of the near-by clay.

"Not very good soil in this neighborhood," Sam observed.  "I notice
there is a heavy outcropping of stone.  What are the principal crops?"

"Summer resorters," replied the driver briefly.

"And do you mean to tell me that all these farm-houses call themselves
summer resorts?" inquired Sam.

"No, only those that have running water.  The others just keep
boarders."

"I see," said Sam, laughing.

A moment later they passed over a beautifully clear stream which ran
down a narrow pocket valley between two high hills, swept under a
rickety wooden culvert, and raced on across a marshy meadow, sparkling
invitingly here and there in the sunlight.

"Here's running water without a summer resort," observed the passenger,
still smiling.

"It's too much shut in," replied the chauffeur as one who had voiced a
final and insurmountable objection.  All the "summer resorts" in this
neighborhood were of one pattern, and no one would so much as dream of
varying from the first successful model.

Sam scarcely heard.  He was looking back toward the trough of those two
picturesquely wooded hills, and for the rest of the drive he asked but
few questions.

At Hollis Creek, where he found a much more imposing hotel than the one
at Meadow Brook, he discovered Miss Stevens, clad in simple white from
canvas shoes to knotted cravat, in a summer-house on the lawn, chatting
gaily with a young man who was almost fat.  Sam had seen other girls
since he had entered the grounds, but he could not make out their
features; this one he had recognized from afar, and as they approached
the summer-house he opened the door of the machine and jumped out
before it had come properly to a stop.

"Good morning, Miss Stevens," he said with a cheerful self-confidence
which was beautiful to behold.  "I have come over to take you a little
spin, if you'll go."

Miss Stevens gazed at the caller quizzically, and laughed outright.

"This is so sudden," she murmured.

The caller himself grinned.

"Does seem so, if you stop to think of it," he admitted.  "Rather like
dropping out of the clouds.  But the auto is here, and I can testify
that it's a smooth-running machine.  Will you go?"

She turned that same quizzical smile upon the young man who was almost
fat, and introduced him, curly hair and all, to Mr. Turner as Mr.
Hollis, who, it afterward transpired, was the heir to Hollis Creek Inn.

"I had just promised to play tennis with Mr. Hollis," Miss Stevens
stated after the introduction had been properly acknowledged, "but I
know he won't mind putting it off this time," and she handed him her
tennis bat.

"Certainly not," said young Hollis with forcedly smiling politeness.

"Thank you, Mr. Hollis," said Sam promptly.  "Just jump right in, Miss
Stevens."

"How long shall we be gone?" she asked as she settled herself in the
tonneau.

"Oh, whatever you say.  A couple of hours, I presume."

"All right, then," she said to young Hollis; "we'll have our game in
the afternoon."

"With pleasure," replied the other graciously, but he did not look it.

"Where shall we go?" asked Sam as the driver looked back inquiringly.
"You know the country about here, I suppose."

"I ought to," she laughed.  "Father's been ending the summer here ever
since I was a little girl.  You might take us around Bald Hill," she
suggested to the chauffeur.  "It is a very pretty drive," she
explained, turning to Sam as the machine wheeled, and at the same time
waving her hand gaily to the disconsolate Hollis, who was "hard hit"
with a different girl every season.  "It's just about a two-hour trip.
What a fine morning to be out!" and she settled back comfortably as the
machine gathered speed.  "I do love a machine, but father is rather
backward about them.  He will consent to ride in them under necessity,
but he won't buy one.  Every time he sees a handsome pair of horses,
however, he has to have them."

"I admire a good horse myself," returned Sam.

"Do you ride?" she asked him.

"Oh, I have suffered a few times on horseback," he confessed; "but you
ought to see my kid brother ride.  He looks as if he were part of the
horse.  He's a handsome brat."

"Except for calling him names, which is a purely masculine way of
showing affection, you speak of him almost as if you were his mother,"
she observed.

"Well, I am, almost," replied Sam, studying the matter gravely.  "I
have been his mother, and his father, and his brother, too, for a great
many years; and I will say that he's a credit to his family."

"Meaning just you?" she ventured.

"Yes, we're all we have; just yet, at least." This quite soberly.

"He must talk of getting married," she guessed, with a quick intuition
that when this happened it would be a blow to Sam.

"Oh, no," he immediately corrected her.  "He isn't quite old enough to
think of it seriously as yet.  I expect to be married long before he
is."

Miss Stevens felt a rigid aloofness creeping over her, and, having a
very wholesome sense of humor, smiled as she recognized the feeling in
herself.

"I should think you'd spend your vacation where the girl is," she
observed.  "Men usually do, don't they?"

He laughed gaily.

"I surely would if I knew the girl," he asserted.

"That's a refreshing suggestion," she said, echoing his laugh, though
from a different impulse.  "I presume, then, that you entertain
thoughts of matrimony merely because you think you are quite old
enough."

"No, it isn't just that," he returned, still thoughtfully.  "Somehow or
other I feel that way about it; that's all.  I have never had time to
think of it before, but this past year I have had a sort of sense of
lonesomeness; and I guess that must be it."

In spite of herself Miss Josephine giggled and repressed it, and
giggled again and repressed it, and giggled again, and then she let
herself go and laughed as heartily as she pleased.  She had heard men
say before, but always with more or less of a languishing air,
inevitably ridiculous in a man, that they thought it about time they
were getting married; but she could not remember anything to compare
with Sam Turner's naïveté in the statement.

He paid no attention to the laughter, for he had suddenly leaned
forward to the chauffeur.

"There is another clump of walnut trees," he said, eagerly pointing
them out.  "Are there many of them in this locality?"

"A good many scattered here and there," replied the boy; "but old man
Gifford has a twenty-acre grove down in the bottoms that's mostly all
walnut trees, and I heard him say just the other day that walnut
lumber's got so high he had a notion to clear his land."

"Where do you suppose we could find old man Gifford?" inquired Mr.
Turner.

"Oh, about six miles off to the right, at the next turning."

"Suppose we whizz right down there," said Sam promptly, and he turned
to Miss Stevens with enthusiasm shining in his eyes.  "It does seem as
if everything happens lucky for me," he observed.  "I haven't any
particular liking for the lumber business, but fate keeps handing
lumber to me all the time; just fairly forcing it on me."

"Do you think fate is as much responsible for that as yourself?" she
questioned, smiling as they passed at a good clip the turn which was to
have taken them over the pretty Bald Hill drive.  Sam had not even
thought to apologize for the abrupt change in their program, because
she could certainly see the opportunity which had offered itself, and
how imperative it was to embrace it.  The thing needed no explanation.

"I don't know," he replied to her query, after pausing to consider it a
moment.  "I certainly don't go out of my road to hunt up these things."

"No-o-o-o," she admitted.  "But fate hasn't thrust this particular
opportunity upon me, although I'm right with you at the time.  It never
would have occurred to me to ask about those walnut trees."

"It would have occurred to your father," he retorted quickly.

"Yes, it might have occurred to father, but I think that under the
circumstances he would have waited until to-morrow to see about it."

"I suppose I might be that way when I arrive at his age," Sam commented
philosophically, "but just now I can't afford it.  His 'seeing about it
to-morrow' cost him between five and six thousand dollars the last time
I had anything to do with him."

She laughed.  She was enjoying Sam's company very much.  Even if a bit
startling, he was at least refreshing after the type of young men she
was in the habit of meeting.

"He was talking about that last night," she said.  "I think father
rather stands in both admiration and awe of you."

"I'm glad to hear that," he returned quite seriously.  "It's a good
attitude in which to have the man with whom you expect to do business."

"I think I shall have to tell him that," she observed, highly amused.
"He will enjoy it, and it may put him on his guard."

"I don't mind," he concluded after due reflection.  "It won't hurt a
particle.  If anything, if he likes me so far, that will only increase
it.  I like your father.  In fact I like his whole family."

"Thank you," she said demurely, wondering if there was no end to his
bluntness, and wondering, too, whether it were not about time that she
should find it wearisome.  On closer analysis, however, she decided
that the time was not yet come.  "But you have not met all of them,"
she reminded him.  "There are mother and a younger sister and an older
brother."

"Don't matter if there were six more, I like all of them," Sam promptly
informed her.  Then, "Stop a minute," he suddenly directed the
chauffeur.

That functionary abruptly brought his machine to a halt just a little
way past a tree glowing with bright green leaves and red berries.

"I don't know what sort of a tree that is," said Sam with boyish
enthusiasm; "but see how pretty it is.  Except for the shape of the
leaves the effect is as beautiful as holly.  Wouldn't you like a branch
or two, Miss Stevens?"

"I certainly should," she heartily agreed.  "I don't know how you
discovered that I have a mad passion for decorative weeds and things."

"Have you?" he inquired eagerly.  "So have I.  If I had time I'd be
rather ashamed of it."

He had scrambled out of the car and now ran back to the tree, where,
perching himself upon the second top rail of the fence he drew down a
limb, and with his knife began to snip off branches here and there.
The girl noticed that he selected the branches with discrimination,
turning each one over so that he could look at the broad side of it
before clipping, rejecting many and studying each one after he had
taken it in his hand.  He was some time in finding the last one, a long
straggling branch which had most of its leaves and berries at the tip,
and she noticed that as he came back to the auto he was arranging them
deftly and with a critical eye.  When he handed them in to her they
formed a carefully arranged and graceful composition.  It was a new and
an unexpected side of him, and it softened considerably the amused
regard in which she had been holding him.

"They are beautifully arranged," she commented, as he stopped for a
moment to brush the dust from his shoes in the tall grass by the
roadside.

"Do you think so?" he delightedly inquired.  "You ought to see my kid
brother make up bouquets of goldenrod and such things.  He seems to
have a natural artistic gift."

She bent on his averted head a wondering glance, and she reflected that
often this "hustler" must be misunderstood.

"You have aroused in me quite a curiosity to meet this paragon of a
brother," she remarked.  "He must be well-nigh perfection."

"He is," replied Sam instantly, turning to her very earnest eyes.  "He
hasn't a flaw in him any place."

She smiled musingly as she surveyed the group of branches she held in
her hand.

"It is a pity these leaves will wither in so short a time," she said.

"Yes," he admitted; "but even if we have to throw them away before we
get back to the hotel, their beauty will give us pleasure for an hour;
and the tree won't miss them.  See, it seems as perfect as ever."

"It wouldn't if everybody took the same liberties with it that you
did," she remarked, glancing back at the tree.

Sam had climbed in the car and had slammed the door shut, but any reply
he might have made was prevented by a hail from the woods above them at
the other side of the road, and a man came scrambling down from the
hillside path.

"Why, it's Mr. Princeman!" exclaimed the girl in pleased surprise.
"Think of finding you wandering about, all alone in the woods here."

"I wasn't wandering about," he protested as he came up to the machine
and shook hands with Miss Josephine.  "I was headed directly for Hollis
Creek Inn.  Your brother wrote me that you were expected to arrive
there yesterday evening, and I was dropping over to call on you right
away this morning.  I see, however, that I was not quite prompt enough.
You're selfish, Mr. Turner.  You knew I was going over to Hollis Creek,
and you might have invited me to ride in your machine."

"You might have invited me to walk with you," retorted Sam.

"But you knew that I was coming and I didn't know that you even knew--"
he paused abruptly and fixed a contemplative eye upon young Mr. Turner,
who was now surveying the scenery and Mr. Princeman in calm enjoyment.

The arrival at this moment of a cloud of dust out of which evolved a
lone horseman, and that horseman Billy Westlake, added a new angle to
the situation, and for one fleeting moment the three men eyed one
another in mutual sheepish guilt.

"Rather good sport, I call it, Miss Stevens," declared Billy, aware of
a sudden increase in his estimation of Mr. Turner, and letting the cat
completely out of the bag.  "Each of us was trying to steal a march on
the rest, but Mr. Turner used the most businesslike method, and of
course he won the race."

"I'm flattered, I'm sure," said Miss Josephine demurely.  "I really
feel that I ought to go right back to the house and be the belle of the
ball; but it's impossible for an hour or so in this case," and she
turned to her escort with the smile of mischief which she had worn the
first time he saw her.  "You see, we are out on a little business trip,
Mr. Turner and myself.  We're going to buy a walnut grove."

Mr. Turner turned upon her a glance which was half a frown.

"I promised to get you back in two hours, and I'll do it," he stated,
"but we mustn't linger much by the wayside."

"With which hint we shall wend our Hollis Creek-ward way," laughed
Princeman, exchanging a glance of amusement with Miss Stevens.  "I
think we shall visit with your father until you come back."

"Please do," she urged.  "He will be as glad to see you both as I am,"
with which information she settled herself back in her seat with a
little air of the interview being over, and the chauffeur, with proper
intuition, started the machine, while Mr. Princeman and Billy looked
after them glumly.

"Queer chap, isn't he?" commented Billy.

"Queer?  Well, hardly that," returned Princeman thoughtfully.  "There's
one thing certain; he's enterprising and vigorous enough to command
respect, in business or--anything else."

At about that very moment Mr. Turner was impressing upon his companion
a very important bit of ethics.

"You shouldn't have violated my confidence," he told her severely.

"How was that?" she asked in surprise, and with a trifle of indignation
as well.

"You told them that we were going to buy a walnut grove.  You ought
never to let slip anything you happen to know of any man's business
plans."

"Oh!" she said blankly.

Having voiced his straightforward objection, and delivered his simple
but direct lesson, Mr. Turner turned as decisively to other matters.

"Son," he asked, leaning over toward the chauffeur, "are there any
speed limit laws on these roads?"

"None that I know of," replied the boy.

"Then cut her loose.  Do you object to fast driving, Miss Stevens?"

"Not at all," she told him, either much chastened by the late rebuke or
much amused by it.  She could scarcely tell which, as yet.  "I don't
particularly long for a broken neck, but I never can feel that my time
has come."

"It hasn't," returned Sam.  "Let's see your palm," and taking her hand
he held it up before him.  It was a small hand that he saw, and most
gracefully formed, but a strong one, too, and Sam Turner had an
extremely quick and critical eye for both strength and beauty.  "You
are going to live to be a gray-haired grandmother," he announced after
an inspection of her pink palm, "and live happily all your life."

It was noteworthy that no matter what his impulse may have been he did
not hold her hand overly long, nor subject it to undue warmth of
pressure, but restored it gently to her lap.  She was remarking upon
this herself as she took that same hand and passed its tapering fingers
deftly among the twigs of the tree-bouquet, arranging a leaf here and a
berry there.



CHAPTER IV

A LITTLE VACATION PASTIME IN WHICH GREEK MEETS GREEK

Old man Gifford was not at home in his squat, low-roofed farm-house,
but a woman shaped like a pyramid of diminishing pumpkins directed them
down through the grove to the corn patch.  It was necessary to lift
strenuously upon the sagging end of a squeaky old gate, and scrape it
across gulleys, to get the automobile into the narrow, deeply-rutted
road, and with a mind fearful of tires the chauffeur wheeled down
through the grove quite slowly, a slowness for which Sam was duly
grateful, since it allowed him to take a careful appraisement of the
walnut trees, interspersed with occasional oaks, which bordered both
sides of their path.  They were tall, thick, straight-trunked trees,
from amongst which the underbrush had been carefully cut away.  It was
a joy to his now vandal soul, this grove, and already he could see
those majestic trunks, after having been sawed with as little wasteful
chopping as possible, toppling in endless billowy furrows.

Old man Gifford came inquiringly up between the long rows of corn to
the far edge of the grove.  He was bent and weazened, and more gnarled
than any of his trees, and even his fingers seemed to have the knotty,
angular effect of twigs.  A fringe of gray beard surrounded his
clean-shaven face, which was criss-crossed with innumerable little
furrows that the wind and rain had worn in it; but a pair of shrewd old
eyes twinkled from under his bushy eyebrows.

"Morning, 'Ennery," he said, addressing the chauffeur with a squeaky
little voice in which, though after forty years of residence in
America, there was still a strong trace of British accent; and then his
calculating gaze rested calmly in turns upon the other occupants of the
machine.

"Good morning, Mr. Gifford," returned the chauffeur.  "Fine day, isn't
it?"

"Good corn-ripenin' weather," agreed the old man, squinting at the sky
from force of habit, and then, being satisfied that there was no
threatening cloud in all the visible blue expanse, he returned to a
calm consideration of the strangers, waiting patiently for Mr. Turner
to introduce himself.

"I understand, Mr. Gifford, that you are open to an offer for your
walnut trees," began Mr. Turner, looking at his watch.

"Well, I might be," admitted the old man cautiously.

"I see," returned Sam; "that is, you might be interested if the price
were right.  Let's get right down to brass tacks.  How much do you
want?"

"Standin' or cut?"

"Well, say standing?"

"How much do you offer?"

Miss Stevens' gaze roved from the one to the other and found enjoyment
in the fact that here Greek had met Greek.

Sam's reply was prompt and to the point.  He named a price.

"No," said the old man instantly.  "I been a-holdin' out for five
dollars a thousand more than that."

Things were progressing.  A basis for haggling had been established.
Sam Turner, however, had the advantage.  He knew the sharp advance in
walnut announced that morning.  Old man Gifford would not be aware of
it until the rural free delivery brought his evening paper, of the
night before, some time that afternoon.  In view of the recent advance,
even at Mr. Gifford's price there was a handsome profit in the
transaction.

"The reason you've had to hold out for your rate until right now was
that nobody would pay it," said Sam confidently.  "Now I'm here to talk
spot cash.  I'll give you, say, a thousand dollars down, and the
balance immediately upon measurement as the logs are loaded upon the
cars."

The old man nodded in approval.

"The terms is all right," he said.

"How much will you take F. O. B. Restview?"

"Well, cuttin' and trimmin' and haulin' ain't much in my line,"
returned the old man, again cautious; "but after all, I reckon that
there'd be less damage to my property if I looked after it myself.  Of
course, I'd have to have a profit for handlin' it.  I'd feel like
holdin' out for--for--" and after some hesitation he again named a
figure.

"You've made that same proposition to others," charged Sam shrewdly,
"and you couldn't get the price."  Upon the heels of this he made his
own offer.

The old man shook his head and turned as if to start back to the corn
field.

"No, I can get better than that," he declared, shaking his head.

"Come back here and let's talk turkey," protested Sam compellingly.
"You name the very lowest price you'll take, delivered on board the
cars at Restview."

The old man reached down, pulled up a blade of grass, chewed it
carefully, spit it out, and named his very, very lowest price; then he
added: "What's the most you'll give?"

Miss Stevens leaned forward intently.

Sam very promptly named a figure five dollars lower.

"I'll split the difference with you," offered the old man.

"It's a bargain!" said Sam, and reaching into the inside pocket of his
tennis coat, he brought out some queer furniture for that sort of
garment--a small fountain pen and an extremely small card-case, from
the latter of which he drew four folded blank checks.

He reached over and borrowed the chauffeur's enameled cap, dusted it
carefully with his handkerchief, laid a check upon it and held his
fountain pen poised.  "What are your initials, please, Mr. Gifford?"

"Wait a minute," said the old man hastily.  "Don't make out that check
just yet.  I don't do any business or sign any contracts till I talk
with Hepseba."

"All right.  Climb right in with Henry there," directed Sam, seizing
upon the chauffeur's name.  "We'll drive straight up to see her."

"I'll walk," firmly declared Mr. Gifford.  "I never have rode in one of
them things, and I'm too old to begin."

"Very well," said Sam cheerfully, jumping out of the machine with great
promptness.  "I'll walk with you.  Back to the house, Henry," and he
started anxiously to trudge up the road with Mr. Gifford, leaving Henry
to manoeuver painfully in the narrow space.  After a few steps,
however, a sudden thought made him turn back.  "Maybe you'd rather walk
up, too," he suggested to Miss Stevens.

"No, I think I'll ride," she said coldly.

He opened the door in extreme haste.

"Do come on and walk," he pleaded.  "Don't hold it against me because I
just don't seem to be able to think of more than one thing at a time;
but I was so wrapped up in this deal that--  Really," and he sank his
voice confidentially, "I have a tremendous bargain here, and I'll be
nervous about it until I have it clenched.  I'll tell you why as we go
home."

He held out his hand as a matter of course to help her down.  The white
of his eyes was remarkably clear, the irises were remarkably blue, the
pupils remarkably deep.  Suddenly her face cleared and she laughed.

"It was silly of me to be snippy, wasn't it?" she confessed, as she
took his hand and stepped lightly to the ground.  It had just recurred
to her that when he knew Princeman was walking over to see her he had
said nothing, but had engaged an automobile.

Old man Gifford had nothing much to say when they caught up with him.
Mr. Turner tried him with remarks about the weather, and received full
information, but when he attempted to discuss the details of the walnut
purchase, he received but mere grunts in reply, except finally this:

"There's no use, young man.  I won't talk about them trees till I get
Hepseba's opinion."

At the house Hepseba waddled out on the little stoop in response to old
man Gifford's call, and stood regarding the strangers stonily through
her narrow little slits of eyes.

"This gentleman, Hepseba," said old man Gifford, "wants to buy my
walnut trees.  What do you think of him?"

In response to that leading question, Hepseba studied Sam Turner from
head to foot with the sort of scrutiny under which one slightly reddens.

[Illustration: Hepseba studied him from head to foot]

"I like him," finally announced Hepseba, in a surprisingly liquid and
feminine voice.  "I like both of them," an unexpected turn which
brought a flush to the face of Miss Stevens.

"All right, young man," said old man Gifford briskly.  "Now, then, you
come in the front room and write your contract, and I'll take your
check."

All alacrity and open cordiality now, he led the way into the queer-old
front room, musty with the solemnity of many dim Sundays.

"Just set down here in this easy chair, Mrs.--  What did you say your
name is?" Mr. Gifford inquired, turning to Sam.

"Turner; Sam J. Turner," returned that gentleman, grinning.  "But this
is Miss Stevens."

"No offense meant or taken, I hope," hastily said the old man by way of
apology; "but I do say that Mr. Turner would be lucky if he had such a
pretty wife."

"You have both good taste and good judgment, Mr. Gifford," commented
Sam as airily as he could; then he looked across at Miss Stevens and
laughed aloud, so openly and so ingenuously that, so far from the
laughter giving offense, it seemed, strangely enough, to put Miss
Josephine at her ease, though she still blushed furiously.  There was
nothing in that laugh nor in his look but frank, boyish enjoyment of
the joke.

There ensued a crisp and decisive conversation between Mr. Gifford and
Mr. Turner about the details of their contract, and 'Ennery was
presently called in to append to it his painfully precise signature in
vertical writing, Miss Stevens adding hers in a pretty round hand.
Then Hepseba, to bind the bargain, brought in hot apple pie fresh from
the oven, and they became quite a little family party indeed, and very
friendly, 'Ennery sitting in the parlor with them and eating his pie
with a fork.

"I know what Hepseba thinks," said old man Gifford, as he held the door
of the car open for them.  "She thinks you're a mighty keen young man
that has to be watched in the beginning of a bargain, because you'll
give as little as you can; but that after the bargain's made you don't
need any more watching.  But Lord love you, I have to be watched in a
bargain myself.  I take everything I can."

As he finished saying this he was closing the door of the car, but
Hepseba called to them to wait, and came puffing out of the house with
a little bundle wrapped in a newspaper.

"I brought this out for your wife," she said to Mr. Turner, and handed
it to Miss Josephine.  "It's some geranium slips.  Everybody says I got
the very finest geraniums in the bottoms here."

"Goodness, Hepseba," exclaimed old man Gifford, highly delighted; "that
ain't his wife.  That's Miss Stevens.  I made the same mistake," and he
hawhawed in keen enjoyment.

Hepseba was so evidently overcome with mortification, however, and her
huge round face turned so painfully red, that Miss Stevens lost
entirely any embarrassment she might otherwise have felt.

"It doesn't matter at all, I assure you, Mrs. Gifford," she said with
charming eagerness to set Hepseba at ease.  "I am very fond of
geraniums, and I shall plant these slips and take good care of them.  I
thank you very, very much for them."

As the machine rolled away Hepseba turned to old man Gifford:

"I like both of them!" she stated most decisively.



CHAPTER V

MISS JOSEPHINE'S FATHER AGREES THAT SAM TURNER IS ALL BUSINESS

"And now," announced Sam in calm triumph as they neared Hollis Creek
Inn, "I'll finish up this deal right away.  There is no use in my
holding for a further rise at this time, and I'll just sell these trees
to your father."

"To father!" she gasped, and then, as it dawned upon her that she had
been out all morning to help Sam Turner buy up trees to sell to her own
father at a profit, she burst forth into shrieks of laughter.

"What's the joke?" Sam asked, regarding her in amazement, and then,
more or less dimly, he perceived.  "Still," he said, relapsing into
serious consideration of the affair, "your father will be in luck to
buy those trees at all, even at the ten dollars a thousand profit he'll
have to pay me.  There is not less than a hundred thousand feet of
walnut in that grove.

"Mercy!" she said.  "Why, that will make you a thousand dollars for
this morning's drive; and the opportunity was entirely accidental, one
which would not have occurred if you hadn't come over to see me in this
machine.  I think I ought to have a commission."

"You ought to be fined," Sam retorted.  "You had me scared stiff at one
time."

"How was that?" she demanded.

"Why, of course you didn't think, but when you told the boys that I was
going out to buy a walnut grove, they were right on their way to see
your father.  It would have been very natural for one of them to
mention our errand.  Your father might have immediately inquired where
there was walnut to be found, and have telephoned to old man Gifford
before I could reach him."

"You needn't have worried!" stated Miss Josephine in a tone so
indignant that Sam turned to her in astonishment.  "My father would not
have done anything so despicable as that, I am quite sure!"

"He wouldn't!" exclaimed Sam.  "I'll bet he would.  Why, how do you
suppose your father became rich in the lumber trade if it wasn't
through snapping up bargains every time he found one?"

"I have no doubt that my father has been and is a very alert business
man," retorted Miss Josephine most icily; "but after he knew that you
had started out actually to purchase a tract of lumber, he would
certainly consider that you had established a prior claim upon the
property."

"Your father's name is Theophilus Stevens, isn't it?"

"Yes."

"Humph!" said Sam, but he did not explain that exclamation, nor was he
asked to explain.  Miss Stevens had been deeply wounded by the assault
upon her father's business morality, and she desired to hear no further
elaboration of the insult.

She was glad that they were drawing up now to the porch, glad this
ride, with its many disagreeable features, was over, although she
carefully gathered up her bright-berried branches, which were not half
so much withered as she had expected them to be, and held her geranium
slips cautiously as she alighted.

Her father came out to the edge of the porch to meet them.  He paid no
attention to his daughter.

"Well, Sam Turner," said Mr. Stevens, stroking his aggressive beard, "I
hear you got it, confound you!  What do you want for your lumber
contract?"

"Just the advance of this morning's quotations," replied Sam.
"Princeman tell you I was after it?"

"No, not at first," said Stevens.  "I received a telegram about that
grove just an hour ago, from my partner.  Princeman was with me when
the telegram came, and he told me then that you had just gone out on
the trail.  I did my best to get Gifford by 'phone before you could
reach him."

"Father!" exclaimed Miss Josephine.

"What's the matter, Jo?"

"You say you actually tried to--to get in ahead of Mr. Turner in buying
this lumber, knowing that he was going down there purposely for it?"

"Why, certainly," admitted her father.

"But did you know that I was with Mr. Turner?"

"_Why, certainly_!"

"Father!" was all she could gasp, and without deigning to say good-by
to Mr. Turner, or to thank him for the ride or the bouquet of branches
or even the geranium slips which she had received under false
pretenses, she hurried away to her room, oppressed with Heaven only
knows what mortification, and also with what wonder at the ways of men!

However, Princeman and Billy Westlake and young Hollis with the curly
hair were impatiently waiting for Miss Josephine at the tennis court,
as they informed her in a jointly signed note sent up to her by a boy,
and hastily removing the dust of the road she ran down to join them.
As she went across the lawn, tennis bat in hand, Sam Turner, discussing
lumber with Mr. Stevens, saw her and stopped talking abruptly to admire
the trim, graceful figure.

"Does your daughter play tennis much?" he inquired.

"A great deal," returned Mr. Stevens, expanding with pride.  "Jo's a
very expert player.  She's better at it than any of these girls, and
she really doesn't care to play except with experts.  Princeman, Hollis
and Billy Westlake are easily the champions here."

"I see," said Sam thoughtfully.

"I suppose you're a crack player yourself," his host resumed, glancing
at Sam's bat.

"Me?  No, worse than a dub.  I never had time; that is, until now.
I'll tell you, though, this being away from the business grind is a
great thing.  You don't know how I enjoy the fresh air and the being
out in the country this way, and the absolute freedom from business
cares and worries."

"But where are you going?" asked Stevens, for Sam was getting up.
"You'll stay to lunch with us, won't you?"

"No, thanks," replied Sam, looking at his watch.  "I expect some word
from my kid brother.  I have wired him to send some samples of marsh
pulp, and the paper we've had made from it."

"Marsh pulp," repeated Mr. Stevens.  "That's a new one on me.  What's
it like?"

"Greatest stunt on earth," replied Sam confidently.  "It is our scheme
to meet the deforestation danger on the way--coming."

Already he was reaching in his pocket for paper and pencil, and sat
down again at the side of Mr. Stevens, who immediately began stroking
his aggressive beard.  Fifteen minutes later Sam briskly got up again
and Mr. Stevens shook hands with him.

"That's a great scheme," he said, and he gazed after Sam's broad
shoulders admiringly as that young man strode down the steps.

On his way Sam passed the tennis court where the one girl and three
young men were engaged in a most dextrous game, a game which all the
other amateurs of Hollis Creek Inn had stopped their own sets to watch.
In the pause of changing sides Miss Josephine saw him and waved her
hand and wafted a gay word to him.  A second later she was in the air,
a lithe, graceful figure, meeting a high "serve," and Sam walked on
quite thoughtfully.

When he arrived at Meadow Brook his first care was for his telegram.
It was there, and bore the assurance that the samples would arrive on
the following morning.  His next step was to hunt Miss Westlake.  That
plump young person forgot her pique of the morning in an instant when
he came up to her with that smiling "been-looking-for-you-everywhere,
mighty-glad-to-see-you" cordiality.

"I want you to teach me tennis," he said immediately.

"I'm afraid I can't teach you much," she replied with becoming
diffidence, "because I'm not a good enough player myself; but I'll do
my best.  We'll have a set right after luncheon; shall we?"

"Fine!" said he.

After luncheon Mr. Westlake and Mr. Cuthbert waylaid him, but he merely
thrust his telegram into Mr. Westlake's hands, and hurried off to the
tennis grounds with Miss Westlake and Miss Hastings and lanky Bob
Tilloughby, who stuttered horribly and blushed when he spoke, and was
in deadly seriousness about everything.  Never did a man work so hard
at anything as Sam Turner worked at tennis.  He had a keen eye and a
dextrous wrist, and he kept the game up to top-notch speed.  Of course
he made blunders and became confused in his count and overlooked
opportunities, but he covered acres of ground, as Vivian Hastings
expressed it, and when, at the end of an hour, they sat down, panting,
to rest, young Tilloughby, with painful earnestness, assured him that
he had "the mum-mum-makings of a fine tennis player."

Sam considered that compliment very thoughtfully, but he was a trifle
dubious.  Already he perceived that tennis playing was not only an
occupation but a calling.

"Thanks," said he.  "It's mighty nice of you to say so, Tilloughby.
What's the next game?"

"The nun-nun-next game is a stroll," Tilloughby soberly advised him.
"It always stus-stus-starts out as a foursome, and ends up in
tut-tut-two doubles."

So they strolled.  They wound along the brookside among some of the
pretty paths, and in the rugged places Miss Westlake threw her weight
upon Sam's helping arm as much as possible; in the concealed places she
languished, which she did very prettily, she thought, considering her
one hundred and sixty-three pounds.  They took him through a detour of
shady paths which occupied a full hour to traverse, but this particular
game did not wind up in "two doubles."  In spite of all the excellent
tête-à-tête opportunities which should have risen for both couples,
Miss Westlake was annoyed to find Miss Hastings right close behind, and
holding even the conversation to a foursome.

In the meantime, Sam Turner took careful lessons in the art of talking
twaddle, and they never knew that he was bored.  Having entered into
the game he played it with spirit, and before they had returned to the
house Mr. Tilloughby was calling him Sus-Sus-Sam.

The girls disappeared for their beauty sleep, and Sam found McComas and
Billy Westlake hunting for him.

"Do you play base-ball?" inquired McComas.

"A little.  I used to catch, to help out my kid brother, who is an
expert pitcher."

"Good!" said McComas, writing down Sam's name.  "Princeman will pitch,
but we needed a catcher.  The rivalry between Meadow Brook and Hollis
Creek is intense this year.  They've captured nearly all the early
trophies, but we're going over there next week for a match game and
we're about crazy to win."

"I'll do the best I can," promised Sam.  "Got a base-ball?  We'll go
out and practise."

They slammed hot ones into each other for a half hour, and when they
had enough of it, McComas, wiping his brow, exclaimed approvingly:

"You'll do great with a little more warming up.  We have a couple of
corking players, but we need them.  Hollis always pitches for Hollis
Creek, and he usually wins his game.  On baseball day he's the idol of
all the girls."

Sam Turner placed his hand meditatively upon the back of his neck as he
walked in to dress for dinner.  Making a good impression upon the girls
was a separate business, it seemed, and one which required much
preparation.  Well, he was in for the entire circus, but he realized
that he was a little late in starting.  In consequence he could not
afford to overlook any of the points; so, before dressing for dinner,
he paid a quiet visit to the greenhouses.

That evening, while he was bowling with all the earnestness that in him
lay, Josephine Stevens, resisting the importunities of young Hollis for
some music, sat by her father.

"Father," she asked after long and sober thought, "was it right for
you, knowing Mr. Turner to be after that walnut lumber, to try to get
it away from him by telephoning?"

"It certainly was!" he replied emphatically.  "Turner went down there
with a deliberate intention of buying that lumber before I could get
it, so that he could sell it to me at as big a gain as possible.  I
paid him one thousand dollars profit for his contract.  I had struggled
my best to beat him to it; only I was too late.  Both of us were
playing the game according to the rules, but he is a younger player."

"I see."  Another long pause.  "Here's another thing.  Mr. Turner
happened to know of this increase in the price of lumber, and he
hurried down there to a man who didn't know about that, and bought it.
If Mr. Gifford had known of the new rates, Mr. Turner could not have
bought those trees at the price he did, could he?"

"Certainly not," agreed her father.  "He would have had to pay nearly a
thousand dollars more for them."

"Then that wasn't right of Mr. Turner," she asserted.

"My child," said Mr. Stevens wearily, "all business is conducted for a
profit, and the only way to get it is by keeping alive and knowing
things that other people will find out to-morrow.  Sam Turner is the
shrewdest and the livest young man I've met in many a day, and he's
square as a die.  I'd take his word on any proposition; wouldn't you?"

"Yes, I think I'd take his word," she admitted, and very positively,
after mature deliberation.  "But truly, father, don't you think he's
too much concentrated on business?  He hasn't a thought in his mind for
anything else.  For instance, this morning he came over to take me an
automobile ride around Bald Hill, and when he found out about this
walnut grove, without either apology or explanation to me he ordered
the chauffeur to drive right down there."

"Fine," laughed her father.  "I'd like to hire him for my manager, if I
could only offer him enough money.  But I don't see your point of
criticism.  It seems to me that he's a mighty presentable and likable
young fellow, good looking, and a gentleman in the sense in which I
like to use that word."

"Yes, he is all of those things," she admitted again; "but it is a flaw
in a young man, isn't it," she persisted, betraying an unusually
anxious interest, "for him never to think of a solitary thing but just
business?"

They were sitting in one of the alcoves of the assembly room, and at
that moment a bell-boy, wandering around the place with apparent
aimlessness, spied them and brought to Miss Josephine a big box.  She
opened it and an exclamation of pleasure escaped her.  In the box was a
huge bouquet of exquisite roses, soft and glowing, delicious in their
fragrance.

Impulsively she buried her face in them.

"Oh, how delightful!" she cried, and she drew out the white card which
peeped forth from amidst the stems.  "They are from Mr. Turner!" she
gasped.

"You're quite right about him," commented her father dryly.  "He's all
business."



CHAPTER VI

IN WHICH THE SUMMER LOAFER ORDERS SOME MARASCHINO CHOCOLATES

Before Sam had his breakfast the next morning, he sat in his room with
some figures with which Blackrock and Cuthbert had provided him the
evening before.  He cast them up and down and crosswise and diagonally,
balanced them and juggled them and sorted them and shifted them, until
at last he found the rat hole, and smiling grimly, placed those pages
of neat figures in a small letter file which he took from his trunk.
One thing was certain: the Meadow Brook capitalists were highly
interested in his plan, or they would never go to the trouble to
devise, so early in the game, a scheme for gaining control of the marsh
pulp corporation.  Well, they were the exact people he wanted.

Immediately after breakfast Miss Stevens telephoned over to thank him
for his beautiful roses, and he had the pleasure of letting her know,
quite incidentally, that he had gone down to the rose-beds and picked
out each individual blossom himself, which, of course, accounted for
their excellence.  Also he suggested coming over that morning for a
brief walk.

No, she was very sorry, but she was just making ready to go out
horseback riding with Mr. Hollis, who, by the way, was an excellent
rider; but they would be back from their canter about ten-thirty, and
if Mr. Turner cared to come over for a game of tennis before luncheon,
why--

"Sorry I can't do it," returned Mr. Turner with the deepest of genuine
regret in his tone.  "My kid brother is sending me some samples of pulp
and paper which will arrive at about eleven o'clock, and I have called
a meeting of some interested parties here to examine them at about
eleven."

"Business again," she protested.  "I thought you were on a vacation."

"I am," he assured her in surprise.  "I never lazied around so or
frittered up so much time in my life; and I'm enjoying every second of
my freedom, too.  I tell you, it's fine.  But say, this meeting won't
take over an hour.  Why can't I come over right after lunch?"

She was very sorry, this time a little less regretfully, that after
luncheon she had an engagement with Mr. Princeman to play a match game
of croquet.  But, and here she relented a trifle, they were getting up
a hasty, informal dance over at Hollis Creek for that evening.  Would
he come over?

He certainly would, and he already spoke for as many dances as she
would give him.

"I'll give you what I can," she told him; "but I've already promised
three of them to Billy Westlake, who is a divine dancer."

Sam Turner was deeply thoughtful as he turned away from the telephone.
Hollis was a superb horseback rider.  Billy Westlake was a divine
dancer.  Princeman, he had learned from Miss Stevens, who had spoken
with vast enthusiasm, was a base-ball hero.  Hollis and Princeman and
Westlake were crack bowlers, also crack tennis players, and no doubt
all three were even expert croquet players.  It was easy to see the
sort of men she admired.  Sam Turner only knew one recipe to get
things, and he had made up his mind to have Miss Stevens.  He promptly
sought Miss Westlake.

"Do you ride?" he wanted to know.

"Not as often as I'd like," she said.

Really, she had half promised to go driving with Tilloughby, but it was
not an actual promise, and if it were she was quite willing to get out
of it, if Mr. Turner wanted her to go along, although she did not say
so.  Young Tilloughby was notoriously an impossible match.  But
possibly Mr. Tilloughby and Miss Hastings might care to join the party.
She suggested it.

"Why, certainly," said Sam heartily.  "The more the merrier," which was
not the thing she wanted him to say.

Tilloughby, a trifle disappointed yet very gracious, consented to ride
in place of drive, and Miss Hastings was only too delighted; entirely
too much so, Miss Westlake thought.  Accordingly they rode, and Sam
insisted on lagging behind with Miss Westlake, which she took to be of
considerable significance, and exhibited a very obvious fluttering
about it.  Sam's motive, however, was to watch Tilloughby in the
saddle, for in their conversation it had developed that Tilloughby was
a very fair rider; and everything that he saw Tilloughby do, Sam did.
En route they met Hollis and Miss Stevens, cantering just where the
Bald Hill road branched off, and the cavalcade was increased to six.
Once, in taking a narrow cross-cut down through the woods, Sam had the
felicity of riding beside Miss Stevens for a moment, and she put her
hand on his horse and patted its glossy neck and admired it, while Sam
admired the hand.  He felt, in some way or other, that riding for that
ten yards by her side was a sort of triumph over Hollis, until he saw
her dash up presently by the side of Hollis again and chat brightly
with that young gentleman.

Thereafter Sam quit watching Tilloughby and watched Hollis.  Curly-head
was an accomplished rider, and Sam felt that he himself cut but an
awkward figure.  In reality he was too conscious of his defects.  By
strict attention he was proving himself a fair ordinary rider, but when
Hollis, out of sheer showiness, turned aside from the path to jump his
horse over a fallen tree, and Miss Stevens out of bravado followed him,
Sam Turner well-nigh ground his teeth, and, acting upon the impulse, he
too attempted the jump.  The horse got over safely, but Sam went a
cropper over his head, and not being a particle hurt had to endure the
good-natured laughter of the balance of them.  Miss Stevens seemed as
much amused as any one!  He had not caught her look of fright as he
fell nor of concern as he rose, nor could he estimate that her laugh
was a mild form of hysteria, encouraged because it would deceive.  What
an ass he was, he savagely thought, to exhibit himself before her in an
attempt like that, without sufficient preparation!  He must ride every
morning, by himself.

Miss Josephine and Mr. Hollis were bound for the Bald Hill circle, and
they insisted, the insistence being largely on the part of Miss
Stevens, on the others accompanying them; but Mr. Turner's engagement
at eleven o'clock would not admit of this, and reluctantly he took Miss
Hastings back with him, leaving Miss Westlake and young Tilloughby to
go on.  The arrangement suited him very well, for at least Hollis' ride
with Miss Stevens would not be a tête-à-tête.  Miss Westlake strove to
let him understand as plainly as she could that she was only going with
Mr. Tilloughby because of her previous semi-engagement with him--and
there seemed a coolness between Miss Westlake and Miss Hastings as they
separated.  Miss Hastings did her best on the way back to console Mr.
Turner for the absence of Miss Westlake.  Vivacious as she always was,
she never was more so than now, and before Sam knew it he had engaged
himself with her to gather ferns in the afternoon.

Upon his arrival at Meadow Brook, he found his express package and also
a couple of important letters awaiting him, and immediately held on the
porch a full meeting of the tentative Marsh Pulp Company.  In that
meeting he decided on four things: first, that these hard-headed men of
business were highly favorable to his scheme; second, that Princeman
and Cuthbert, who knew most about paper and pulp, were so profoundly
impressed with his samples that they tried to conceal it from him;
third, that Princeman, at first his warmest adherent, was now most
stubbornly opposed to him, not that he wished to prevent forming the
company, but that he wished to prevent Sam's having his own way;
fourth, that the crowd had talked it over and had firmly determined
that Sam should not control their money.  Princeman was especially
severe.

"There is no question but that these samples are convincing of their
own excellence," he admitted; "but properly to estimate the value of
both pulp and paper, it would be necessary to know, by rigid
experiment, the precise difficulties of manufacture, to say nothing of
the manner in which these particular specimens were produced."

Mr. Princeman's words had undoubted weight, casting, as they did, a
clammy suspicion upon Sam's samples.

"I had thought of that," confessed Mr. Turner, "and had I not been
prepared to meet such a natural doubt, to say nothing of such a natural
insinuation, I should never have submitted these samples.  Mr.
Princeman, do you know G. W. Creamer of the Eureka Paper Mills?"

Mr. Princeman, with a wince, did, for G. W. Creamer and the Eureka
Paper Mills were his most successful competitors in the manufacture of
special-priced high-grade papers.  Mr. Cuthbert also knew Mr. Creamer
intimately.

"Good," said Sam; "then Mr. Creamer's letter will have some weight,"
and he turned it over to Mr. Blackrock.  That gentleman, setting his
spectacles astride his nose and assuming his most profoundly
professional air, read aloud the letter in which Mr. Creamer thanked
Turner and Turner for reposing confidence enough in him to reveal their
process and permit him to make experiments, and stated, with many
convincing facts and figures, that he had made several separate samples
of the pulp in his experimental shop, and from the pulp had made paper,
samples of which he enclosed under separate cover, stating further that
the pulp could be manufactured far cheaper than wood pulp, and that the
quality of the paper, in his estimation, was even superior; and when
the company was formed, he wished to be set down for a good, fat block
of stock.

Having submitted exhibit A in the form of his brother's samples of pulp
and paper, exhibit B in the form of Mr. Creamer's letter, and exhibit C
in the form of Mr. Creamer's own samples of pulp and paper, Mr. Turner
rested quite comfortably in his chair, thank you.

"This seems to make the thing positive," admitted Mr. Princeman.  "Mr.
Turner, would you mind sending some samples of your material to my
factory with the necessary instructions?"

"Not at all," replied Sam suavely.  "We would be pleased indeed to do
so, just as soon as our patents are allowed."

"Pending that," suggested Mr. Westlake placidly, looking out over the
brook, "why couldn't we organize a sort of tentative company?  Why
couldn't we at least canvass ourselves and see how much of Mr. Turner's
stock we would take up among us?"

"That is," put in Mr. Cuthbert, screwing the remark out of himself
sidewise, "provided the terms of incorporation and promotion were
satisfactory to us."

"I have already drawn up a sort of preliminary proposition, after
consultation with our friends here," Mr. Blackrock now stated, "and
purely as a tentative matter it might be read."

"Go right ahead," directed Sam.  "I'm a good listener."

Mr. Blackrock slowly and ponderously read the proposed plan of
incorporation.  Sam rose and looked at his watch.

"It won't do," he announced sharply.  "That whole thing, in accordance
with the figures you submitted me last night, is framed up for the sole
purpose of preventing my ever securing control, and if I do not have a
chance, at least, at control, I won't play."

"You seem to be very sure of that," said Mr. Princeman, surveying him
coldly; "but there is another thing equally sure, and that is that you
can not engage capital in as big an enterprise as this on any basis
which will separate the control and the money."

"I'm going to try it, though," retorted Sam.  "If I can't separate the
control and the money I suppose I'll have to put up with the best terms
I can get.  If you will let me have that prospectus of yours, Mr.
Blackrock, I'll take it up to my room and study it, and draw up a
counter prospectus of my own."

"With pleasure," said Mr. Blackrock, handing it over courteously, and
Mr. Turner rose.

"I'll say this much, Sam," stated Mr. Westlake, who seemed to have
grown more friendly as Mr. Princeman grew cooler; "if you can get a
proposition upon which we are all agreed, I'll take fifty thousand of
that stock myself, at fifty."

"As a matter of fact, Mr. Turner," added Mr. Cuthbert, "including your
friend Creamer, who insists upon being in, I imagine that we can
finance your entire company right in this crowd--if the terms are
right."

"Nothing would give me greater pleasure, I'm sure," said Mr. Turner,
and bowed himself away.

In place of going to his room, however, he went to the telegraph
office, and wired his brother in New York:

"How are you coming on with pulp company stock subscription?"


The telegraph office was in one corner of the post-office, which was
also a souvenir room, with candy and cigar counters, and as he turned
away from the telegraph desk he saw Princeman at the candy counter.

"No, I don't care for any of these," Princeman was saying.  "If you
haven't maraschino chocolates I don't want any."

Sam immediately stepped back to the telegraph desk and sent another
wire to his brother:

"Express fresh box maraschino chocolates to Miss Josephine Stevens
Hollis Creek Inn enclose my card personal cards in upper right-hand
pigeonhole my desk."


Then he went up-stairs to get ready for lunch.  Immediately after
luncheon he received the following wire from his brother:

"Stock subscription rotten everybody likes scheme but object to our
control but no hurry why don't you rest maraschinos shipped
congratulate you."



CHAPTER VII

WHICH EXHIBITS THE IMPORTANCE OF REMEMBERING A DANCE NUMBER

And so the kid was finding the same trouble which he had met.  They had
been too frank in stating that they intended to obtain control of the
company without any larger investments than their patents and their
scheme.  Sam wandered through the hall, revolving this matter in his
mind, and out at the rear door, which framed an inviting vista of
green.  He strolled back past the barn toward the upper reaches of the
brook path, and sitting amid the comfortably gnarled roots of a big
tree he lit a cigar and began with violence to snap little pebbles into
the brook.  If he were promoting a crooked scheme, he reflected
savagely, he would have no difficulty whatever in floating it upon
almost any terms he wanted.  Well, there was one thing certain; at the
finish, control would be in his own hands!  But how to secure it and
still float the company promptly and advantageously?  There was the
problem.  He liked this crowd.  They were good, keen, vigorous,
enterprising men, fine men with whom to do business, men who would
snatch control away from him if they could, and throw him out in the
cold in a minute if they deemed it necessary or expedient.  Of course
that was to be expected.  It was a part of the game.  He would rather
deal with these progressive people, knowing their tendencies, than with
a lot of sapheads.

How to get control?  He lingered long and thoughtfully over that
question, perhaps an hour, until presently he became aware that a
slight young girl, with a fetching sun-hat and a basket, was walking
pensively along the path on the opposite side of the brook, for the
third time.  Her passing and repassing before his abstracted and
unseeing vision had become slightly monotonous, and for the first time
he focused his eyes back from their distant view of pulp marshes and
stock certificates and inspected the girl directly.  Why, he knew that
girl!  It was Miss Hastings.

As if in obedience to his steady gaze she looked across at him and
waved her basket.

"Where are you going?" he asked with the heartiness of enforced
courtesy.

"After ferns," she responded, and laughed.

"By George, that's so!" he said, and ran up the stream to a narrow
place where he made a magnificent jump and only got one shoe wet.

He was profuse, not in his apologies, but in his intention to make them.

"Jinks!" he said.  "I'm ashamed to say I forgot all about that.  I
found myself suddenly confronted with a business proposition that had
to be worked out, and I thought of nothing else."

"I hope you succeeded," she said pleasantly.

There wasn't a particle of vengefulness about Miss Hastings.  She was
not one to hold this against him; he could see that at once!  She
understood men.  She knew that grave problems frequently confronted
them, and that such minor things as fern gathering expeditions would
necessarily have to step aside and be forgotten.  She was one of the
bright, cheerful, always smiling kind; one who would make a sunshiny
helpmate for any man, and never object to anything he did--before
marriage.

All this she conveyed in lively but appealing chatter; all, that is,
except the last part of it, a deduction which Sam supplied for himself.
For the first time in his life he had paused to judge a girl as he
would "size up" a man, and he was a little bit sorry that he had done
so, for while Miss Hastings was very agreeable, there was a certain
acidulous sharpness about her nose and uncompromising thinness about
her lips which no amount of laughing vivacity could quite conceal.

Dutifully, however, he gathered ferns for the rockery of her aunt in
Albany, and Miss Hastings, in return, did her best to amuse and
delight, and delicately to convey the thought of what an agreeable
thing it would be for a man always to have this cheerful companionship.
She even, on the way back, went so far as inadvertently to call him
Sam, and apologized immediately in the most charming confusion.

"Really," she added in explanation, "I have heard Mr. Westlake and the
others call you Sam so often that the name just seems to slip out."

"That's right," he said cordially.  "Sam's my name.  When people call
me Mr. Turner I know they are strangers."

"Then I think I shall call you Sam," she said, laughing most
engagingly.  "It's so much easier," and sure enough she did as soon as
they were well within the hearing of Miss Westlake, at the hotel.

"Oh, Sam," she called, turning in the doorway, "you have my gloves in
your pocket."

Miss Westlake stiffened like an icicle, and a stern resolve came upon
her.  Whatever happened, she saw her duty plainly before her.  She had
introduced Mr. Turner to Miss Hastings, and she was responsible.  It
was her moral obligation to rescue him from the clutches of that
designing young person, and she immediately reminded him that she had
an engagement to give him a tennis lesson every day.  There was still
time for a set before dinner.  Also, far be it from her to be so
forward as to call him Sam, or to annoy him with silly chattering.  She
was serious-minded, was Miss Westlake, and sweet and helpful; any man
could see that; and she fairly adored business.  It was so interesting.

When they came back from their tennis game, hurrying because it was
high time to dress for dinner and the dance, she met Miss Hastings in
the hall, but the two bosom friends barely nodded.  There had sprung up
an unaccountable coolness between them, a coolness which Sam by no
means noticed, however, for at the far end of the porch sat Princeman,
already back from Hollis Creek to dress, and with him were Westlake and
McComas and Blackrock and Cuthbert, and they were in very close
conference.  When Sam approached them they stopped talking abruptly for
just one little moment, then resumed the conversation quite naturally,
even more than quite naturally in fact, and the experienced Sam smiled
grimly as he excused himself to dress.

Billy Westlake met him as he was going up-stairs.  To Billy had been
entrusted the office of rounding up all the young people who were going
over to Hollis Creek, and by previous instruction, though wondering at
his sister's choice, he assigned Sam to that young lady, a fate which
Sam accepted with becoming gratitude.

He had plenty of food for thought as he donned his costume of dead
black and staring white, and somehow or other he was distrait that
evening all the way over to Hollis Creek.  Only when he met Miss
Stevens did he brighten, as he might well do, for Miss Stevens,
charming in every guise, was a revelation in evening costume; a
ravishing revelation; one to make a man pause and wonder and stand in
awe, and regard himself as a clumsy creature not worthy to touch the
hem of the garment which embellished such a divine being.  Nevertheless
he conquered that wave of diffidence in a jiffy, or something like half
that space of time, and shook hands with her most eagerly, and looked
into her eyes and was grateful; for he found them smiling up at him in
most friendly fashion, and with rather an electric thrill in them, too,
though whether the thrill emanated from the eyes or was merely within
himself he was not sure.

"How many dances do I get?" he abruptly demanded.

"Just two," she told him, and showed him her card and gave him one on
which a list of names had already been marked by the young ladies of
Hollis Creek.

He saw on the card two dances with Miss Stevens, one each with Miss
Westlake and Miss Hastings, and one each with a number of other young
ladies whom he had met but vaguely, and one each with some whom he had
not met at all.  He dutifully went through the first dance with a young
lady of excellent connections who would make a prime companion for any
advancing young man with social aspirations; he went dutifully through
the next dance with a young lady who was keen on intellectual pursuits,
and who would make an excellent helpmate for any young man who wished
to advance in culture as he progressed in business, and danced the next
one with a young lady who believed that home-making should be the
highest aim of womankind; and then came his first dance with Miss
Stevens!  They did not talk very much, but it was very, very comforting
to be with her, just to know that she was there, and to know that
somehow she understood.  He was sorry, though, that he stepped upon her
gown.

The promenade, which had seemed quite long enough with the other young
ladies, seemed all too short for Sam up to the point when Billy
Westlake came to take Miss Josephine away.  He was feeling rather
lonely when Tilloughby came up to him, with a charming young lady who
was in quite a flutter.  It seemed that there had been a dreadful
mistake in the making out of the dance cards, which the young ladies of
Hollis Creek had endeavored to do with strict equity, though hastily,
and all was now inextricable confusion.  The charming young lady was on
the cards for this dance with both Mr. Tilloughby and Mr. Turner, and
Mr. Tilloughby had claimed her first.  Would Mr. Turner kindly excuse
her?  Just behind her came another young lady whom Mr. Tilloughby
introduced.  This young lady was on Sam's card for the next dance
following this one, but it should be for the eighth dance, and would
Mr. Turner please change his card accordingly, which Mr. Turner
obligingly did, wondering what he should do when it came to the eighth
dance and he should find himself obligated to two young ladies.  Oh,
well, he reflected, no doubt the other young lady was down for the
eighth dance with some one else, if they had things so mixed.  Of one
thing he was sure.  He had that tenth dance with Miss Stevens.  He had
inspected both cards to make certain of that, and had seen with
carefully concealed joy that she had compared them as minutely as he
had.  He saw confusion going on all about him, laughing young people
attempting to straighten out the tangle, and the dance was slow in
starting.

Almost the first two on the floor were Miss Stevens and Billy Westlake,
and as he saw them, from his vantage point outside one of the broad
windows, gliding gracefully up the far side of the room, he realized
with a twinge of impatience what a remarkably unskilled dancer he
himself was.  Billy and Miss Stevens were talking, too, with the
greatest animation, and she was looking up at Billy as brightly, even
more brightly he thought, than she had at himself.  There was a
delicate flush on her cheeks.  Her lips, full and red and deliciously
curved, were parted in a smile.  Confound it anyhow!  What could she
find to talk about with Billy Westlake?

He was turning away in more or less impatience, when Mr. Stevens,
looking, in some way, with his aggressive, white, outstanding beard, as
if he ought to have a red ribbon diagonally across his white shirt
front, ranged beside him.

"Fine sight, isn't it?" observed Mr. Stevens.

"Yes," admitted Mr. Turner, almost shortly, and forced himself to turn
away from the following of that dazzling vision, which was almost
painful under the circumstances.

By mutual impulse they walked down the length of the side porch and
across the front porch.  Sam drew himself away from dancing and certain
correlated ideas with a jerk.

"I've been wanting to talk with you, Mr. Stevens," he observed.  "I
think I'll drop over to-morrow for a little while."

"Glad to have you any time, Sam," responded Mr. Stevens heartily, "but
there is no time like the present, you know.  What's on your mind?"

"This Marsh Pulp Company," said Sam; "do you know anything about pulp
and paper?"

"A little bit.  You know I have some stock in Princeman's company."

"Oh," returned Sam thoughtfully.

"Not enough to hurt, however," Stevens went on.  "Twenty shares, I
believe.  When I went in I had several times as much, but not enough to
make me a dominant factor by any means, and Princeman, as he made more
money, wanted some of it, so I let him buy up quite a number of shares.
At one time I was very much interested, however, and visited the mills
quite frequently."

"You're rather close to Princeman in a business way, aren't you?" Sam
asked after duly cautious reflection.

"Not at all, although we get along very nicely indeed.  I made money on
my paper stock, both in dividends and in a very comfortable advance
when I sold it.  Our relations have always been friendly, but very
little more.  Why?"

"Oh, nothing.  Only Princeman is much interested in my Pulp Company,
and all the people who are going in are his friends.  The crowd over at
Meadow Brook talks of taking up approximately the entire stock of my
company.  I thought possibly you might be interested."

"I am right now, from what I have already heard of it," returned
Stevens, who had almost at first sight succumbed to that indefinable
personal appeal which caused Sam Turner to be trusted of all men.  "I
shall be very glad to hear more about it.  It struck me when you spoke
of it yesterday as a very good proposition."

They had reached the dark corner at the far end of the porch, illumined
only by the subdued light which came from a half-hidden window, and now
they sat down.  Sam fished in the little armpit pocket of his dress
coat and dragged forth two tiny samples of pulp and two tiny samples of
paper.

"These two," he stated, "were samples sent me to-day by my kid brother."

Mr. Stevens took the samples and examined them with interest.  He felt
their texture.  He twisted them and crumpled them and bent them
backward and forward and tore them.  Then, the light at this window
being too weak, he went to one of the broad windows where a stronger
stream of light came out, and examined them anew.  Sam, still sitting
in his chair, nodded in satisfied approval.  He liked that kind of
inspection.  Mr. Stevens brought the samples back.

"They are excellent, so far as I am able to judge," he announced.
"These are samples made by yourselves from marsh products?"

"Yes," Sam assured him.  "Made from marsh-grown material by our new
process, which is much cheaper than the wood-pulp process.  Do you know
Mr. Creamer of the Eureka Paper Mills?"

"Not very well.  I've met him once or twice at dinners, but I'm not
intimately acquainted with him.  I hear, however, that he is an
authority."

"Here's a letter from him, and some samples made by him under our
process," said Sam with secret satisfaction.  "I just received them
this morning."  From the same pocket he took the letter without its
envelope, and with it handed over the two other small samples.

"That's a fine showing," Stevens commented when he had examined
document and samples and brought them back, and he sat down, edging
about so that he and Sam sat side by side but facing each other, as in
a tête-à-tête chair.  "Now tell me all about it."

On and on went the music in the ball-room, on went the shuffling of
feet, the swish of garments, the gay talk and laughter of the young
people; and on and on talked Mr. Stevens and Mr. Turner, until one
familiar strain of music penetrated into Sam's inner consciousness; the
_Home Sweet Home_ waltz!

"By George!" he exclaimed, jumping up.  "That can't be the last."

"Sounds like it," commented Mr. Stevens, also rising.  "It is the last
if they make up programs as they did in my young days.  I don't
remember of many dances where the _Home Sweet Home_ waltz didn't end it
up.  It's late enough anyhow.  It's eleven-thirty."

"Then I have done it again!" said Sam ruefully.  "I had the number ten
dance with your daughter."

Mr. Stevens closed his eyes to laugh.

"You certainly have put your foot in it," he admitted.  "Oh, well, Jo's
sensible," he added with a father's fond ignorance.  "She'll
understand."

"That's what I'm afraid of," replied Mr. Turner ruefully.  "You'll have
to intercede for me.  Explain to her about it and soften the case as
much as you can.  Frankly, Mr. Stevens, I'd be tremendously cut up to
be on the outs with Miss Josephine."

"There are shoals of young men who feel that way about it, Sam," said
Mr. Stevens with large and commendable pride.  "However, I am glad that
you have added yourself to the list," and he gazed after Sam with
considerable approbation, as that young man hurried away to display his
abjectness to the young lady in question.

Three times, on the arm of Princeman, she whirled past the open doorway
where Sam stood, but somehow or other he found it impossible to catch
her eye.  The dance ended when she was on the other side of the room,
and immediately, with the last strains, the floor was in confusion.
Sam tried desperately to hurry across to where she was, but he lost her
in the crowd.  He did not see her again until all of the Meadow Brook
folk, including himself, were seated in the carryalls, at which time
the Hollis Creek folk were at the edge of the porte-cochère and both
parties were exchanging a gabbling pandemonium of good-bys.  He saw her
then, standing back among the crowd, and shouting her adieus as
vociferously as any of them.  He caught her eye and she nodded to him
as pleasantly as to anybody, which was really worse than if she had
refused to acknowledge him at all!



CHAPTER VIII

NOT SAM'S FAULT THIS TIME

No, Miss Stevens was sorry that she could not go walking with him that
morning, which was the morning after the dance.  She was very polite
about it, too; almost too polite.  Her voice over the telephone was as
suave and as limpid as could possibly be, but there was a sort of
metallic glitter behind it, as it were.

No, she could not see him that afternoon either.  She had made a series
of engagements, in fact, covering the entire day.  Also, she regretted
to say, upon further solicitation, that she had made engagements
covering the entire following day.

No, she was not piqued about his last night's forgetfulness; by no
means; certainly not; how absurd!

She quite understood.  He had been talking business with her father,
and naturally such a trifling detail as a dance with frivolous young
people would not occur to him.

Frivolous young people!  This was the exact point of the conversation
at which Sam, with his ear glued to the receiver of the telephone and
no necessity for concealing the concerned expression on his
countenance, thought, in more or less of a panic, that he must really
be getting old, which was a good joke, inasmuch as nobody ever took him
to be over twenty-five.  Heretofore his boyish appearance had worried
him because it rather stood in the way of business, but now he began to
fear that he was losing it; for he was nearing thirty!

Well, pleading was of no avail.  He had to give it up.  Reluctantly he
went out and took a solitary walk, then came in and religiously played
his two hours of tennis with Miss Westlake and Miss Hastings and
Tilloughby.  Was he not on vacation, and must he not enjoy himself?
Just before he went in to luncheon, however, there was a telephone call
for him.

Miss Stevens was perplexed to know what divine intuition had told him
her obsession for maraschino chocolates.  She had one in her fingers at
the very moment she was telephoning, and she was going to pop it into
her mouth while he talked.  Being a mere man he could not realize how
delightfully refreshing was a maraschino chocolate.

Sam had a lively picture of that dainty confection between the tips of
her dainty fingers; he could see the white hand and the graceful wrist,
and then he could see those exquisitely curved red lips parting with a
flash of white teeth to receive the delicacy; and he had an impulse to
climb through the telephone.

A little bird had told him about her preference, he stated.  He had
that little bird regularly in his employ to find out other preferences.

"I had those sent just to show you that I am not altogether absorbed in
business," he went on; "that I can think of other things.  Have another
chocolate."

"I am," she laughingly said; "but I'm not going to eat them all.  I'm
going to save one or two for you."

"Good," returned Sam in huge delight and relief.  "I'll come over to
get them any time you say."

"All right," she gaily agreed.  "As I told you this morning, I have an
engagement for this afternoon, but if you'll come over after luncheon
I'll try to find a half-hour or so for you anyhow."

Great blotches of perspiration sprang out on his forehead.

"Jinks!" he ejaculated.  "You know, right after you telephoned me this
morning I made an engagement with Mr. Blackrock and Mr. Cuthbert and
Mr. Westlake, to go over some proposed incorporation papers."

"Oh, by all means, then, keep your engagement," she told him, and he
could feel the instant frigidity which returned to her tone.  A
zero-like wave seemed to come right through the transmitter of the
telephone and chill the perspiration of his brow into a cold trickle.

"No, I'll see if I can not set that engagement off for a couple of
hours," he hastily informed her.

"By no means," she protested, more frigidly than before.  "Come to
think of it, I don't believe I'd have time anyhow.  In fact, I'm sure
that I would not.  Mr. Hollis is calling me now.  Good-by."

"Wait a minute," he called desperately into the telephone, but it was
dead, and there is nothing in this world so dead as the telephone from
which connection has been suddenly shut off.

Sam strode into the dining-room and went straight over to Blackrock's
table.

"I find I have some pressing business right after luncheon," he said,
bending over that gentleman's chair.  "I can't possibly meet you at two
o'clock.  Will four do you?"

"Why, certainly," Mr. Blackrock was kind enough to say, and he
furthermore agreed, with equal graciousness, to inform the others.

Sam ate his luncheon in worried silence, replying only in monosyllables
to the remarks of McComas, who sat at his table, and of Mrs. McComas,
who had taken quite a young-motherly fancy to him; and the amount that
he ate was so much at variance with his usual hearty appetite that even
the maid who waited on his table, a tall, gangling girl with a vinegar
face and a kind heart, worried for fear he might be sick, and added
unordered delicacies to his American plan meal.  He went over to Hollis
Creek in the swiftest conveyance he could obtain, which was naturally
an auto, but he did not have 'Ennery for his chauffeur, of which he was
heartily glad, for 'Ennery might have wanted to talk.

On the porch of Hollis Creek Inn he found Princeman and Mr. Stevens in
earnest conversation.  He knew what that meant.  Princeman was already
discussing with Mr. Stevens the matter of control of the Marsh Pulp
Company.  Princeman rose when Sam stepped up on the porch, and strolled
away from Mr. Stevens.  He nodded pleasantly to Turner, and the latter,
returning the nod fully as pleasantly, was about to hurry on in search
of Miss Josephine, when Mr. Stevens checked him.

"Hello, Sam," he called.  "I've just been waiting to see you."

"All right," said Sam.  "I'll be around presently."

"No, but come here," insisted Mr. Stevens.

Sam cast a nervous glance about the grounds and along the side porch;
Miss Josephine most certainly was not among those present.  He still
hesitated, impatient to get away.

"Just a minute, Sam," insisted Stevens.  "I want to talk to you right
now."

With unwilling feet Sam went over.

"Sit down," directed Stevens, pushing forward a chair.

"What is it?" asked Sam, still standing.

"I have been talking with Princeman and Westlake about your Marsh Pulp
Company."

"Yes," inquired Sam nervously.

"And everybody seems to be most enthusiastic about it.  Fact of the
matter is, my boy, I consider it a tremendous investment opportunity.
The only drawback there seems to be is in the matter of stock
distribution and voting power.  I want you to explain this very fully
to me."

"I thought you were quite satisfied with our talk last night," returned
Sam, glancing hastily over his shoulder.

"I am, in so far as the investment goes, Sam.  I've promised you that
I'd take a good block of stock, and you've promised to make room for me
in the company.  I expect to go through with that, but I want to know
about this other phase of the matter before I get into any
entanglements with opposing factions.  Now you sit right down there and
tell me about it."

Despairingly Sam sat down and proceeded briefly and concisely to
explain to him the various plans of incorporation which had been
proposed.  Ten minutes later he almost groaned, as a trap, drawn by a
pair of handsome buckskin horses, driven by Princeman and containing
Miss Josephine, crunched upon the gravel driveway in front of the
porch.  Miss Stevens greeted Mr. Turner very heartily indeed, Princeman
stopping for that purpose.  Sam ran down and shook hands with her.  Oh,
she was most cordial; just as cordial and polite as anybody he knew!

"I did not expect you at all," she said, "but I knew you were here, for
I saw you from the window as you came up the drive.  Pleasant weather,
isn't it?  Oh, papa!"

"Yes," answered Mr. Stevens ponderously from his place on the porch.

"Up on my dresser you will find a box of candy which Mr. Turner was
kind enough to have sent me, and he confesses that he has never tasted
maraschino chocolates.  Won't you please run up and get them and let
Mr. Turner sample them?"

"Huh!" grunted Mr. Stevens.  "If Sam Turner insists upon running me up
two flights of stairs on an errand of that sort, I suppose I'll have to
go.  But he won't."

"You're lazy," she said to her father in affectionate banter, then,
with a wave of her hand and a bright nod to Mr. Turner, she was gone!

Sam trudged slowly up on the porch with the heart gone entirely out of
him for business; and yet, as he approached Mr. Stevens he pulled
himself together with a jerk.  After all, she was gone, and he could
not bring her back, and in his talk with Stevens he had just approached
a grave and serious situation.

"The fact of the matter is, Mr. Stevens," said he as he sat down again,
"these people are the very people I want to get into my concern, but
they are old hands at the stock incorporation game, and even before
I've organized the company they are planning to get it out of my hands.
Now it is my scheme, mine and the kid brother's, and I don't propose to
allow that."

"Well, Sam," said Mr. Stevens slowly, "you know capital of late has had
a lot of experience with corporate business, and it isn't the
fashionable thing this year for the control and the capital to be in
separate hands--right at the very beginning."

This was the signal for the struggle, and Sam plunged earnestly into
the conflict.  At three-fifteen he suddenly rose and made his adieus.
He would have liked to stay until Miss Josephine came back, so that he
could make one more desperate attempt to set himself right with her,
but there was that deferred engagement with Blackrock, and reluctantly
he whirled back to Meadow Brook.



CHAPTER IX

WHEREIN SAM TURNER PROVES HIMSELF TO BE A VIOLENT FLIRT

The rest of that week was a worried and an anxious one for Sam.  He
sent daily advices to his brother, and he received daily advices in
return.  The people upon whom he had originally counted to form the
Marsh Pulp Company had set themselves coldly against the matter of
control, and on comparing the apparent situation in New York with the
situation at Meadow Brook, he made sure that he could secure more
advantageous terms with the Princeman crowd.  He spent his time in
wrestling with his prospective investors both singly and in groups, but
they were obdurate.  They liked his company, they saw in it tremendous
possibilities, but they did not intend to invest their money where they
could not vote it.  That was flat!

This was on the business side.  About the really important matter of
Miss Stevens, since his most recent bad performance, the time when he
had made the special trip to see her and had spent his time in talking
business with her father, he had not been able to come near her.  She
was always engaged.  He saw her riding with Hollis; he saw her driving
with Princeman; he saw her playing tennis with Billy Westlake, but the
greatest boon he ever received was a nod and a pleasant word.  He
industriously sent her flowers.  She as industriously sent him nice,
polite little notes of thanks.

In the meantime, alternating with his marsh pulp wrangles, he worked
like a Trojan at the athletic graces he should have cultivated in his
younger days.  He rode every morning; he practised every day at tennis
and croquet; every evening he bowled; and every time some one sat at
the piano and played dance music and the young people fell into
impromptu waltzes and two-steps on the porch, he joined them and danced
religiously with whomsoever he found to hand; usually Miss Hastings or
Miss Westlake.

The latter ingenious young lady, during this while, continued to adore
business, and with increasing fervor every day, and regretted, quite
aloud, that she had never paid sufficient attention to this absorbing
amusement, out of which all the men, that is, those who were really
strong and purposeful, seem to derive so much satisfaction!  On the
following Monday at Bald Hill, when Hollis Creek and Meadow Brook
fraternized together, in the annual union picnic, she found occasion
for the most direct tête-à-tête of all anent commercial matters.

Under Bald Hill were any number of charming natural retreats, jumbles
of Titanically toy-strewn, clean, bare rocks, screened here and there
by tangles of young scrub oak and pine which grew apparently on bare
stone surfaces and out of infinitesimal chinks and crannies, in utter
defiance of all natural law.  Go where you would on that day, there
were couples in each of the rock shelters; young couples, engaged in
that fascinating pastime of finding out all they could about each
other, and wondering about each other, and revealing themselves to each
other as much as they cared to do, and flirting; oh, in a perfectly
respectable sort of a way, you know; legitimate and commendable
flirting; the sort of flirting which is only experimental and
necessary, and which may cease at any moment to become mere airy
trifling, and turn into something intensely and desperately serious,
having a vital bearing upon the entire future lives of people; and
there were deeply solemn moments, in spite of all the surface hilarity
and gaiety, in many of these little out of way nooks kindly provided by
beneficent nature for this identical purpose.

In one of these nooks, a curious sort of doll's amphitheatre, partly
screened by dwarf cedars, were Miss Westlake and Mr. Turner, and Sam
could not tell you to this day how she had roped him out of the herd,
and isolated him, and brought him there.

"Business is just perfectly fascinating," she was saying.  "I've been
talking a lot to papa about it here lately.  He thinks a great deal of
you, by the way."

"He does," Sam grunted in non-committal acknowledgment, with the sharp
reflection that he had better look out for himself if that were the
case, since the most of Westlake's old friends were bankrupt, he being
the best business man of them all.

"Yes; he says you have an excellent business proposition, too, in your
new Marsh Pulp Company."  She said marsh pulp without an instant's
hesitation.

"I think it's good myself," agreed Sam; "that is, if I can keep hold of
it."  Inwardly he added, "And if I can keep old Westlake's clutches
off."

She laughed lightly.

"Papa mentioned that very thing," she informed him.  "I don't think I
quite understand what control of stock means, although I've had papa
explain it to me.  I gather this much, however, that it is something
you want very much, but can scarcely get without some large stockholder
voting his stock with you."

Sam inspected her narrowly.

"You seem to have a pretty good idea of the thing after all," he
admitted, wondering how much she really knew and understood.  "But
maybe your father wouldn't like your repeating to me what you
accidentally learned from him in conversation.  Business men are
usually pretty particular about that."

"Oh, he wouldn't mind at all," she said airily.  "I'm having him
explain a lot of things to me, because he's making separate investments
for Billy and me.  All his new enterprises are for us, and in the last
two or three years he's turned over lots of stock to us in our own
names.  But I've never done any actual voting on it.  I've only given
proxies.  I sign a little blank, you know, that papa fills out for me
and shows me where to put my name and mails to somebody or other, or
else takes it and votes it himself; but I'd rather vote it my own self.
I should think it would be ever so much fun.  I'm trying to find out
about how they do such things, and I'd be very glad to have you tell me
all you can about it.  It's just perfectly fascinating."

"Yes, it is," Sam admitted.  "So you think you may eventually own some
stock in the Marsh Pulp Company?" and he became quite interested.

"If papa takes any I'm quite sure I shall," she returned; "and I think
he will, from what he said.  He seems to be so enthusiastic about it
that I'm going to ask him for this stock, and let Billy have the next
that he buys.  I hope he does take a good lot of it.  Isn't this the
dearest place imaginable?" and with charming naïveté she looked about
the tiny amphitheatre-like circle, admiring the projecting stones which
formed natural seats, and the broad shelving of slippery rock which led
up to it.

"Yes, it is," said Sam with considerable thoughtfulness, and once more
inspected Miss Westlake critically.

There was no question that she would be as stout as her mother and her
father when she reached their age.  However, personal attractiveness is
an essence and can not be weighed by the pound.  Sam was bound to
admit, after thoughtful judgment, that Miss Westlake might be
personally attractive to a great many people, but really there hadn't
seemed to be anything flowing from him to her or from her to him, even
when he had held tightly to her hand to help her up the steep slope of
the rock floor.

"Yes, it is a charming place," he once more admitted.  "Looks almost as
if this little semi-circle had been built out of these loose rocks by
design.  Of course, your father wouldn't take the original stock in
your name."

"Oh, no, I don't suppose so," she said.  "He never does.  He takes out
the stock himself, and then transfers it to us."

"Of course," Sam agreed; "and naturally he'd hold it long enough to
vote at the original stock-holders' meeting."

"I couldn't say about that," she laughed.  "That's going beyond my
business depth just yet, but I'm going to learn all about such things,"
and she looked across at him with apparent shy confidence that he would
take pleasure in teaching her.

"Hoo-hoo-oo-oo-oo-oo!" came a sudden call from down in the road, and,
turning, they saw Miss Hastings and Billy Westlake, who both waved
their hands at the amphitheatre couple and came scrambling up the rocks.

"Mr. Princeman and Mr. Tilloughby are looking for you everywhere,
Hallie," said Miss Hastings to Miss Westlake.  "You know you promised
to make that famous salad dressing of yours.  Luncheon is nearly ready,
all but that, and they're waiting for you over at the glade.  My, what
a dear little place this is!  How did you ever find it?"  Miss Hastings
was now quite conspicuously panting and fanning herself.  "I'm so tired
climbing those rocks," she went on.  "I shall simply have to sit down
and rest a bit.  Billy will take you over, Hallie, and Mr. Turner will
bring me by and by, I am sure."

Mr. Turner stated that he would do so with pleasure.  Miss Westlake
surveyed her dearest friend more in anger than in sorrow.  It was such
a brazen trick, and she gazed from her brother to Mr. Turner in sheer
wonder that they were not startled into betrayal of how shocked they
were.  Whatever strong emotions they might have had upon that subject
were utterly without reflection upon the outside, however, for Billy
Westlake and Sam Turner were eying each other solely with a vacuous
mutual wish of saying something decently polite and human.  Mr. Turner
made a desperate stab.

"I hope you're in good form for the bowling tournament to-night," he
observed with self-urged anxiety.  "Hollis Creek mustn't win, you know."

"I'm as near fit as usual," said Billy; "but Princeman is the chap
who's going to carry off the honors for Meadow Brook.  Bowled an
average last night of two forty-five.  I'm sorry you couldn't make the
team."

"I should have started fifteen years ago to do that," said Sam with a
wry smile.  "I think I would get along all right, though, if they
didn't have those grooves at the side of the alleys."

Billy Westlake looked at him gravely.  Since Sam did not smile, this
could not be a joke.

"But they are absolutely necessary, you know," he protested, as he took
his sister's arm and helped her down the slope.

Miss Westlake went away entirely out of patience with the two men, and
very much to Billy's surprise gave him her revised estimate of that
Hastings girl.  Miss Hastings, however, was in a far different frame of
mind.  She was an exclamation point of admiration about an endless
variety of things; about the dear little amphitheatre, about how well
her friend Miss Westlake was looking and how successful Hallie had been
this summer in reducing, and how much Mr. Turner was improving in his
tennis and croquet and riding and bowling and everything.  "And, Mr.
Turner, what is pulp?  And do they actually make paper out of it?" she
wound up.

Very gravely Mr. Turner informed her on the process of paper making,
and she was a chorus of little vivacious ohs and ahs all the way
through.  She sat on the side of the stone circle from which she could
look down the road, and she chattered on and on and on, and still on,
until something she saw below warned her that she was staying an
unconscionable length of time, so she rose and told Mr. Turner they
must really go, and held out her hand to be helped down the slope.
That was really a very slippery rock, and it was probably no fault of
Miss Hastings that her feet slipped and that she had to throw herself
squarely into Mr. Turner's embrace, and even throw her arm up over his
shoulder to save herself.  It was a staggery place, even for a sturdily
muscled young man like Mr. Turner to keep his footing, and with that
fair burden upon him he had to stand some little time poised there to
retain his balance.  Then, very gently and carefully, he turned
straight about, lifting Miss Hastings entirely from her feet and
setting her gravely down on the safe ledge below the sloping rock; but
before he had even had time to let go of her he glanced down into the
road, toward which the turn had faced him, and saw there, looking up
aghast at the tableau, Mr. Princeman and Miss Stevens!

The sharp and instantly suppressed laugh of Princeman came floating up
to them, but Miss Stevens turned squarely about in the direction of the
glade, and being instantly joined by Princeman, they walked quietly
away.

Mr. Turner suddenly found himself perspiring profusely, and was
compelled to mop his brow, but Miss Hastings disdained to give any sign
that anything unusual whatsoever had happened, except by walking with a
limp, albeit a very slight one, as she returned to the glade.  That
limp comforted Mr. Turner somewhat, and, spying Miss Stevens in a
little group near the tables, he was very careful to parade Miss
Hastings straight over there and place her limp on display.  Miss
Stevens, however, walked away; no mere limp could deceive her!

Well, if she wanted to be miffed at a little accident like that, and
read things falsely, and think the worst of people, she might; that was
all Sam had to say about it! but what he had to say about it did not
comfort him.  He rather savagely "shook" Miss Hastings at his first
opportunity, and Vivian's dearest friend, who had been hovering in the
offing, saw him do it, which was a great satisfaction to her.  Later
she seized upon him, although he had savagely sworn to stick to the
men, and by some incomprehensible process Sam found himself once more
tête-à-tête with Miss Westlake, just over at the edge of the glade
where the sumac grew.  She made him gather a lot of the leaves for her,
and showed him how they used to weave clover wreaths when she was a
little girl, and wove one for him of sumac, and gaily crowned him with
it; and just as she was putting the fool thing on his head he glanced
up, and there Princeman, laughing, was just passing them a little ways
off, in company with Miss Josephine Stevens!



CHAPTER X

THE VALUE OF A PIANOLA TRAINING

On that very same evening Hollis Creek came over to the bowling
tournament, and Miss Stevens, arriving with young Hollis, promptly lost
that perfervid young man, who had become somewhat of a nuisance in his
sentimental insistence.  Mr. Turner, watching her from afar, saw her
desert the calfly smitten one, and immediately dashed for the breach.
He had watched from too great a distance, however, for Billy Westlake
gobbled up Miss Josephine before Sam could get there, and started with
her for that inevitable stroll among the brookside paths which always
preceded a bowling tournament.  While he stood nonplussed, looking
after them, Miss Hastings glided to his side in a matter of course way.

"Isn't it a perfectly charming evening?" she wanted to know.

"It is a regular dear of an evening," admitted Sam savagely.

In his single thoughtedness he was scrambling wildly about within the
interior of his skull for a pretext to get rid of Miss Hastings, but it
suddenly occurred to him that now he had a legitimate excuse for
following the receding couple, and promptly upon the birth of this
idea, he pulled in that direction and Miss Hastings came right along,
though a trifle silently.  With all her vivacious chattering, she was
not without shrewdness, and with no trouble whatever she divined
precisely why Sam chose the path he did, and why he seemed in such
almost blundering haste.  They _were_ a little late, it was true, for
just as they started, Billy and Miss Stevens turned aside and out of
sight into the shadiest and narrowest and most involved of the
shrubbery-lined paths, the one which circled about the little concealed
summer-house with a dove-cote on top, which was commonly dubbed "the
cooing place."  Following down this path the rear couple suddenly came
upon a tableau which made them pause abruptly.  Billy Westlake, upon
the steps of the summer-house, was upon his knees, there in the swiftly
blackening dusk, before the appalled Miss Stevens; actually upon his
knees!  Silently the two watchers stole away, but when they were out of
earshot Miss Hastings tittered.  Sam, though the moment was a serious
one for him, was also compelled to grin.

"I didn't know they did it that way any more," he confessed.

"They don't," Miss Hastings informed him; "that is, unless they are
very, very young, or very, very old."

"Apparently you've had experience," observed Sam.

"Yes," she admitted a little bitterly.  "I think I've had rather more
than my share; but all with ineligibles."

Sam felt a trace of pity for Miss Hastings, who was of polite family,
but poor, and a guest of the Westlakes, but he scarcely knew how to
express it, and felt that it was not quite safe anyhow, so he remained
discreetly silent.

By mutual, though unspoken impulse, they stopped under the shade of a
big tree up on the lawn, and waited for the couple who had been found
in the delicate situation either to reappear on the way back to the
house, or to emerge at the other end of the path on the way to the
bowling shed.  It was scarcely three minutes when they reappeared on
the way back to the house, and both watchers felt an instant thrill of
relief, for the two were by no means lover-like in their attitudes.
Billy had hold of Miss Josephine's arm and was helping her up the
slope, but their shoulders were not touching in the process, nor were
arms clasped closely against sides.  They passed by the big tree
unseeing, then, as they neared the house, without a word, they parted.
Miss Stevens proceeded toward the porch, and stopped to take a
handkerchief from her sleeve and pass it carefully and lightly over her
face.  Billy Westlake strode off a little way toward the bowling shed,
stopped and lit a cigarette, took two or three puffs, started on,
stopped again, then threw the cigarette to the ground with quite
unnecessary vigor, and stamped on it.  Miss Hastings, without adieus of
any sort, glided swiftly away in the direction of Billy, and then a dim
glimmer of understanding came to Sam Turner that only Miss Stevens had
stood in the way of Miss Hastings' capture of Billy Westlake.  He
wasted no time over this thought, however, but strode very swiftly and
determinedly up to Miss Josephine.

"I'm glad to find you alone," he said; "I want to make an explanation."

"Don't bother about it," she told him frigidly.  "You owe me no
explanations whatsoever, Mr. Turner."

"I'm going to make them anyhow," he declared.  "You saw me twice this
afternoon in utterly asinine situations."

"I remember of no such situations," she stated still frigidly, and
started to move on toward the house.

"But wait a minute," said Sam, catching her by the arm and detaining
her.  "You did see me in silly situations, and I want you to know the
facts about them."

"I'm not at all interested," she informed him, now with absolute north
pole iciness, and started to move away again.

He held her more tightly.

"The first time," he went on, "was when Miss Hastings slipped on the
rocks and I had to catch her to keep her from falling."

"Will you kindly let me go, Mr. Turner?" demanded Miss Josephine.

"No, I will not!" he replied, and pulled her about a trifle so that she
was compelled to face him.  "I don't choose to have anybody, least of
all you, think wrongly of me."

"Mr. Turner, I do not choose to be detained against my will," declared
Miss Josephine.

"Mr. Turner," boomed a deep-timbered voice right behind them, "the lady
has requested you to let her go.  I should advise you to do so."

Mr. Turner was attempting to frame up a reasonable answer to this
demand when Miss Josephine prevented him from doing so.

"Mr. Princeman," said she to the interrupting gallant, "I thank you for
your interference on my behalf, but I am quite capable of protecting
myself," and leaving the two stunned gentlemen together, she once more
took her handkerchief from her sleeve and walked swiftly up to the
porch, brushing the handkerchief lightly over her face again.

"Well, I'll be damned!" said Princeman, looking after her in more or
less bewilderment.

"So will I," said Sam.  "Have you a cigarette about you?"

Princeman gave him one and they took a light from the same match, then,
neither one of them caring to discuss any subject whatever at that
particular moment, they separated, and Sam hunted a lonely corner.  He
wanted to be alone and gloom.  Confound bowling, anyhow!  It was a dull
and uninteresting game.  He cared less for it as time went on, he
found; less to-night than ever.  He crept away into the dim and
deserted parlor and sat down at the piano, the only friend in which he
cared to confide just then.  He played, with a queer lingering touch
which had something of hesitation in it, and which reduced all music to
a succession of soft chords, _The Maid of Dundee_ and _Annie Laurie_,
_The Banks of Banna_ and _The Last Rose of Summer_, then one of the
simpler nocturnes of Chopin, and, following these, a quaint, slow
melody which was like all of the others and yet like none.

"Bravo!" exclaimed a gentle voice in the doorway, and he turned,
startled, to see Miss Stevens standing there.  She did not explain why
she had relented, but came directly into the room and stood at the end
of the piano.  He reached up and shook hands with her quite naturally,
and just as naturally and simply she let her hand lie in his for an
instant.  How soft and warm her palm was, and how grateful the touch of
it!

"What a pleasant surprise!" she said.  "I didn't know you played."

"I don't," he confessed, smiling.  "If you had stopped to listen you
would have known.  You ought to hear my kid brother play though.  He's
a corker."

"But I did listen," she insisted, ignoring the reference to his "kid
brother."  "I stood there a long time and I thought it beautiful.  What
was that last selection?"

He flushed guiltily.

"It was--oh, just a little thing I sort of put together myself," he
told her.

"How delightful!  And so you compose, too?"

"Not at all," he hastily assured her.  "This is the only thing, and it
seemed to come just sort of naturally to me from time to time.  I don't
suppose it's finished yet, because I never play it exactly as I did
before.  I always seem to add a little bit to it.  I do wish that I had
had time to know more of music.  What little I play I learned from a
pianola."

"A what?" she gasped.

He laughed in a half-embarrassed way.

"A pianola," he repeated.  "You see I've always been hungry for music,
and while my kid brother was still in college I began to be able to
afford things, and one of the first luxuries was a pianola.  You know
the machine has a little lever which throws the keys in or out of
engagement, so that you can play it as a regular piano if you wish, and
if you leave the keys engaged while you are playing the rolls, they
work up and down; so by watching these I gradually learned to pick out
my favorite tunes by hand.  I couldn't play them so well by myself as
the rolls played them, but somehow or other they gave me more
satisfaction."

Miss Stevens did not laugh.  In some indefinable way all this made a
difference in Sam Turner--a considerable difference--and she felt quite
justified in having deliberately come to the conclusion that she had
been "mean" to him; in having deliberately slipped away from the others
as they were all going over to the bowling alleys; in having come back
deliberately to find him.

"Your favorite tunes," she repeated musingly.  "What was the first one,
I wonder?  One of those that you have just been playing?"

"The first one?" he returned with a smile.  "No, it was a sort of
rag-time jingle.  I thought it very pretty then, but I played it over
the other day, the first time in years, and I didn't seem to like it at
all.  In fact, I wonder how I ever did like it."

Rag-time!  And now, left entirely to his own devices and for his own
pleasure, he was playing Chopin!  Yes, it made quite a difference in
Sam Turner.  She was glad that she had decided to wear his roses, glad
even that he recognized them.  At her solicitation Sam played again the
plaintive little air of his own composition--and played it much better
than ever he had played it before.  Then they walked out on the porch
and strolled down toward the bowling shed.  Half way there was a little
side path, leading off through an arbor into a shady way which crossed
the brook on a little rustic bridge, which wound about between
flowerbeds and shrubbery and back by another little bridge, and which
lengthened the way to the bowling shed by about four times the normal
distance--and they took that path; and when they reached the bowling
alley they were not quite ready to go in.

[Illustration: Sam played again the plaintive little air]

There seemed no reasonable excuse for staying out longer, however, for
the bowling had already started, and, moreover, young Tilloughby
happened to come to the door and spied them.  Princeman was just
getting up to bowl for the honor and glory of Meadow Brook, and within
one minute later Miss Stevens was watching the handsome young paper
manufacturer with absorbed interest.  He was a fine picture of athletic
manhood as he stood up, weighing the ball, and a splendid picture of
masculine action as he rushed forward to deliver it.  Sam had to
acknowledge that himself, and out of fairness he even had to join in
the mad applause when Princeman made strike after strike.  They had
Princeman up again in the last frame, and it was a ticklish moment.
The Hollis Creek team was fifty points ahead.  Dramatic unities, under
the circumstances, demanded that Princeman, by a tremendous exercise of
coolness and skill, overcome that lead by his own personal efforts, and
he did, winning the tournament for Meadow Brook with a breathless few
points to spare.

But did Sam Turner care that Princeman was the hero of the hour?  More
power to Princeman, for from the bevy of flushed and eager girls who
flocked about the Adonis-like victor, Miss Josephine Stevens was
absent.  She was there, with him, in Paradise!  Incidentally Sam made
an engagement to drive with her in the morning, and when, at the close
of that delightful evening, the carryall carried her away, she beamed
upon him; gave him two or three beams in fact, and said good-by
personally and waved her hand to him personally; nobody else was there
in all that crowd but just they two!



CHAPTER XI

THE WESTLAKES DECIDE TO INVEST

Miss Hastings did not exactly snub Sam in the morning, but she was
surprisingly indifferent to him after all her previous cordiality, and
even went so far as to forget the early morning constitutional she was
to have taken with him; instead she passed him coolly by on the porch
right after an extremely early breakfast, and sauntered away down
lovers' lane, arm in arm with Billy Westlake, who was already looking
very much comforted.  Sam, who had been dreading that walk, released it
with a sigh of intense satisfaction, planning that in the interim until
time for his drive, he would improve his tennis a bit with Miss
Westlake.  He was just hunting her up when he met Bob Tilloughby, who
invited him to join a riding party from both houses for a trip over to
Sunset Rock.

"Sorry," said Sam with secret satisfaction, "but I've an engagement
over at Hollis Creek at ten o'clock," and Tilloughby carried that
information back to Miss Westlake, who had sent him.

An engagement at Hollis Creek at ten o'clock, eh?  Well, Miss Westlake
knew who that meant; none other than her dear friend, Josephine
Stevens!  Being a young lady of considerable directness, she went
immediately to her father.

"Have you definitely made up your mind, pop, to take stock in Mr.
Turner's company?" she asked, sitting down by that placid gentleman.

Without removing his interlocked hands from their comfortable
resting-place in plain sight, he slowly twirled his thumbs some three
times, and then stopped.

"Yes, I think I shall," he said.

"About how much?" Miss Westlake wanted to know.

"Oh, about twenty-five thousand."

"Who's to get it?"

"Why, I thought I'd divide it between Billy and you."

Miss Westlake put her hand on her father's arm.

"Say, pop, give it to me, please," she pleaded.  "Billy can take the
next stock you buy, or I'll let him have some of my other in exchange."

Mr. Westlake surveyed his daughter out of a pair of fish-gray eyes
without turning his head.

"You seem to be especially interested in this stock.  You asked about
it yesterday and Sunday and one day last week."

"Yes, I am," she admitted.  "It's a really first-class business
investment, isn't it?"

"Yes, I think it is," replied Westlake; "as good as any stock in an
untried company can be, anyhow.  At least it's an excellent investment
chance."

"That's what I thought," she said.  "I'm judging, of course, only by
what you say, and by my impression of Mr. Turner.  It seems to me that
almost anything he goes into should be highly successful."

Mr. Westlake slowly whirled his thumbs in the other direction, three
separate twirls, and stopped them.

"Yes," he agreed.  "I'm investing the money in just Sam myself,
although the scheme itself looks like a splendid one."

Miss Westlake was silent a moment while she twisted at the button on
her father's coat sleeve.

"I don't quite understand this matter of stock control," she went on
presently.  "You've explained it to me, but I don't seem quite to get
the meaning of it."

"Well, it's like this," explained Mr. Westlake.  "Sam Turner, with only
a paltry investment, say about five thousand dollars, wants to be able
to dictate the entire policy of a million-dollar concern.  In other
words, he wants a majority of stock, which will let him come into the
stock-holders' meetings, and vote into office his own board of
directors, who will do just what he says; and if he wanted to he might
have them vote the entire profits of the concern for his salary."

"But, father, he wouldn't do anything like that," she protested,
shocked.

"No, he probably wouldn't," admitted Mr. Westlake, "but I wouldn't be
wise to let him have the chance, just the same."

"But, father," objected Miss Hallie, after further thought, "it's his
invention, you know, and his process, and if he doesn't have control
couldn't all you other stock-holders get together and appropriate the
profits yourselves?"

Mr. Westlake gave his thumbs one quick turn.

"Yes," he grudgingly confessed.  "In fact, it's been done," and there
was a certain grim satisfaction at the corners of his mouth which his
daughter could not interpret, as he thought back over the long list of
absorptions which had made old Bill Westlake the power that he was.

"But--but, father," and she hesitated a long time.

"Yes," he encouraged her.

"Even if you won't let him have enough stock to obtain control, if some
one other person should own enough of the stock, couldn't they put
their stock with his and let him do just about as he liked?"

"Oh, yes," agreed Mr. Westlake without any twirling of his thumbs at
all; "that's been done, too."

"Would this twenty-five thousand dollars' worth of stock that you're
buying, pop, if it were added to what you men are willing to let Mr.
Turner have, give him control?"

Again Mr. Westlake turned his speculative gray eyes upon his daughter
and gave her a long, careful scrutiny, which she received with downcast
lashes.

"No," he replied.

"How much would?"

"Well, fifty thousand would do it."

"Say, pop--"

"Yes."

Another long interval.

"I wish you'd buy fifty thousand for me in place of twenty-five."

"Humph," grunted Mr. Westlake, and after one sharp glance at her he
looked down at his big fat thumbs and twirled them for a long, long
time.  "Well," said he, "Sam Turner is a fine young man.  I've known
him in a business way for five or six years, and I never saw a flaw in
him of any sort.  All right.  You give Billy your sugar stock and I'll
buy you this fifty thousand."

Miss Westlake reached over and kissed her father impulsively.

"Thanks, pop," she said.  "Now there's another thing I want you to do."

"What, more?" he demanded.

"Yes, more," and this time the color deepened in her cheeks.  "I want
you to hunt up Mr. Turner and tell him that you're going to take that
much."

Mr. Westlake with a smile reached up and pinched his daughter's cheek.

"Very well, Hallie, I'll do it," said he.

She patted him affectionately on the bald spot.

"Good for you," she said.  "Be sure you see him this morning, though,
and before half-past nine."

"You're particular about that, eh?"

"Yes, it's rather important," she admitted, and blushed furiously.

Westlake patted his daughter on the shoulder.

"Hallie," said He, "if Billy only had your common-sense business
instinct, I wouldn't ask for anything else in this world; but Billy is
a saphead."

Mr. Westlake, thinking that he understood the matter very thoroughly,
though in reality overunderstanding it--nice word, that--took it upon
himself with considerable seriousness to hunt up Sam Turner; but it was
fully nine-thirty before he found that energetic young man.  Sam was
just going down the driveway in a neat little trap behind a team of
spirited grays.

"Wait a minute, Sam, wait a minute," hailed Westlake, puffing
laboriously across the closely cropped lawn.

Sam held up his horses abruptly, and they stood swinging their heads
and champing at their bits, while Sam, with a trace of a frown, looked
at his watch.

"What's your rush?" asked Westlake.  "I've been hunting for you
everywhere.  I want to talk about some important features of that Marsh
Pulp Company of yours."

"All right," said Sam.  "I'm open for conversation.  I'll see you right
after lunch."

"No.  I must see you now," insisted Westlake.  "I've--I've got to
decide on some things right this morning.  I--I've got to know how to
portion out my investments."

Sam looked at his watch and was genuinely distressed.

"I'm sorry," said he, "but I have an engagement over at Hollis Creek at
exactly ten o'clock, and I've scant time to make it."

"Business?" demanded Westlake.

"No," confessed Sam slowly.

"Oh, social then.  Well, social engagements in America always play
second fiddle to business ones, and don't you forget it.  I'll talk
about this matter this morning or I won't talk about it at all."

Sam stopped nonplussed.  Westlake was an important factor in the
prospective Marsh Pulp Company.

"Tell you what you do," said he, after some quick thought.  "Why can't
you get in the trap and drive over to Hollis Creek with me?  We can
talk on the way and you can visit with your friends over there until
time for luncheon; then I'll bring you back and we can talk on the way
home, too."

Miss Hallie and Princeman and young Tilloughby came cantering down the
drive and waved hands at the two men.

"All right," said Westlake decisively, looking after his daughter and
answering her glance with a nod.  "Wait until I get my hat," and he
wheeled abruptly away.

Sam fumed and fretted and jerked his watch back and forth from his
pocket, while Westlake wasted fifteen precious minutes in waddling up
to the house and hunting for his hat and returning with it, and two
minutes more in bungling his awkward way into the buggy; then Sam
started the grays at such a terrific pace that, until they came to the
steep hill midway of the course, there was no chance for conversation.
While the horses pulled up this steep hill, however, Westlake had his
opportunity.

"I suppose you know," he said, "that you're not going to be allowed
over two thousand shares of common stock for your patents."

"I'm beginning to give up the hope of having more," admitted Sam.
"However, I'm going to stick it out to the last ditch."

"It won't be permitted, so you might as well give up that idea.  How
much stock do you think of buying?"

"About five thousand dollars' worth of the preferred," said Sam.

"Which will give you fifty bonus shares of the common.  I suppose of
course you figure on eventually securing control in some way or other."

"Not being an infant, I do," returned Sam, flicking his whip at a weed
and gathering his lines up quickly as the mettled horses jumped.

"I don't know of any one person who's going to buy enough stock to help
you out in that plan; unless I should do it myself," suggested
Westlake, and waited.

Sam surveyed the other man long and silently.  Westlake, as the largest
minority shareholder, had done some very strange things to corporations
in his time.

"Neither do I," said Sam non-committally.

There was another long silence.

"If you carry through this Marsh Pulp Company to a successful
termination, you will be fairly well fixed for a young man, won't you?"
the older man ventured by and by.

"Well," hesitated Sam, "I'll have a start anyhow."

"I should say you would," Westlake assured him, placing his hands in
his favorite position for contemplative discussion.  "You'll have a
good enough start to enable you to settle down."

"Yes," admitted Sam.

"What you need, my boy, is a wife," went on Mr. Westlake.  "No man's
business career is properly assured until he has a wife to steady him
down."

"I believe that," agreed Sam.  "I've come to the same conclusion
myself, and to tell you the truth of the matter I've been contemplating
marriage very seriously since I've been down here."

"Good!" approved Westlake.  "You're a fine boy, Sam.  I may tell you
right now that I approve of both you and your decision very heartily.
I rather thought there was something in the wind that way."

"Yes," confessed Sam hesitantly.  "I don't mind admitting that I have
even gone so far as to pick out the girl, if she'll have me."

Mr. Westlake smiled.

"I don't think there will be any trouble on that score," said he.  "Of
course, Sam, I'm not going to force your confidence, or anything of
that sort, but--but I want to tell you that I think you're all right,"
and he very solemnly shook hands with Mr. Turner.

They had just reached the top of the hill when Westlake again returned
to business.

"I'm glad to know you're going to settle down, Sam," he said.  "It
inspires me with more confidence in your affairs, and I may say that I
stand ready to subscribe, in my daughter's name, for fifty thousand
dollars' worth of the stock of your company."

"Well," said Sam, giving the matter careful weight.  "It will be a good
investment for her."

Before Mr. Westlake had any time to reply to this, the grays, having
just passed the summit of the hill, leaped forward in obedience to
another swish of Sam's whip.



CHAPTER XII

ANOTHER MISSED APPOINTMENT

The trio from Meadow Brook, on their way to Sunset Rock galloped up to
the Hollis Creek porch, and, finding Miss Stevens there, gaily demanded
that she accompany them.

"I'm sorry," said Miss Stevens, who was already in driving costume,
"but I have an engagement at ten o'clock," and she looked back through
the window into the office, where the clock then stood at two minutes
of the appointed time; then she looked rather impatiently down the
driveway, as she had been doing for the past five minutes.

"Well, at least you'll come back to the bar with us and have an
ice-cream cocktail," insisted Princeman, reining up close to the porch
and putting his hand upon the rail in front of her.

"I don't see how I can refuse that," said Miss Stevens with a smile and
another glance down at the driveway, "although it's really a little
early in the day to begin drinking," and she waited for them to
dismount, going back with them into the little ice-cream parlor and
"soft drink" and confectionery dispensary which had been facetiously
dubbed "the bar."  Here she was careful to secure a seat where she
could look out of the window down toward the road, and also see the
clock.

After a weary while, during which Miss Josephine had undergone a
variety of emotions which she was very careful not to mention, the
party rose from the discussion of their ice-cream soda and the bowling
tournament and all the various other social interests of the two
resorts, and made ready to depart, Miss Westlake twining her arm about
the waist of her friend Miss Stevens as they emerged on the porch.

"Well, anyway, we've made you forget your engagement," Miss Westlake
gaily boasted, "for you said it was to be at ten, and now it's
ten-thirty."

"Yes, I noticed the time," admitted Miss Stevens, rather grudgingly.

"I'm sorry we dragged you away," commiserated Miss Westlake with a
swift change of tone.  "Probably the party of the second part didn't
know where to find you."

"No, it couldn't be anything like that," decided Miss Josephine after a
thoughtful pause.  "Did you see anything of Mr. Turner this morning?"
she asked with sudden resolve.

"Mr. Turner," repeated Miss Westlake in well-feigned surprise.  "Why,
yes, I know papa said early this morning that he was going to have a
business talk with Mr. Turner, and as we left Meadow Brook papa was
just going after his hat to take a drive with him."

"I wonder if it would be an imposition to ask you to wait about five
minutes longer," inquired Miss Stevens with a languidness which did
_not_ deceive.  "I think I can change to my riding-habit almost within
that time."

"We'll be delighted to wait," asserted Miss Westlake eagerly, herself
looking apprehensively down the driveway; "won't we, boys?"

"Sure; what is it?" returned Princeman.

"Josephine says that if we'll wait five minutes longer she'll go with
us."

"We'll wait an hour if need be," declared Princeman gallantly.

"It won't need be," said Miss Stevens lightly, and hurrying into the
office she ordered the clerk to send for her saddle-horse.

For ten interminable minutes Miss Westlake never took her eyes from the
road, at the end of which time Miss Stevens returned, hatted and
habited and booted and whipped.

The Hollis Creek young lady was rather grim as she rode down the
graveled approach beside Miss Westlake, and both the girls cast furtive
glances behind them as they turned away from the Meadow Brook road.
When they were safely out of sight around the next bend, Miss Westlake
laughed.

"Mr. Turner is such a funny person," said she.  "He's liable at any
moment to forget all about everything and everybody if somebody
mentions business to him.  If he ever takes time to get married he'll
make it a luncheon hour appointment."

Even Miss Josephine laughed.

"And even then," she added, by way of elaboration, "the bride is likely
to be left waiting at the church."  There was a certain snap and
crackle to whatever Miss Stevens said just now, however, which
indicated a perturbed and even an angry state of mind.

Ten minutes later, Sam Turner, hatless, and carrying a buggy whip and
wearing a torn coat, trudged up the Hollis Creek Inn drive, afoot, and
walked rapidly into the office.

"Is Miss Stevens about?" he wanted to know.

"Not at present," the clerk informed him.  "She ordered out her horse a
few minutes ago, and started over to Sunset Rock with a party of young
people from Meadow Brook."

"Which way is Sunset Rock?"

The clerk handed him a folder which contained a map of the roadways
thereabouts, and pointed out the way.

"Could you get me a saddle-horse right away?"

The clerk pounded a bell and ordered up a saddle-horse for Mr. Turner,
who immediately thereupon turned to the telephone, and, calling up
Meadow Brook, instructed the clerk at that resort to send a carriage
for Mr. Westlake, who was sitting in the trap, entirely unharmed but
disinclined to walk, at the foot of Laurel Hill; then he explained that
the grays had run away down this steep declivity, that the yoke bar had
slipped, the tongue had fallen to the ground, had broken, and had run
back up through the body of the carriage.  The horses had jerked the
doubletree loose, and the last he had seen of their marks they had
turned up the Bald Hill road and were probably going yet.  By the time
he had repeated and amplified this explanation enough to beat it all
through the head of the man at the other end of the wire, his horse was
ready for him, and very much to the wonderment of the clerk he started
off at a rattling gait, without taking the trouble either to have
himself dusted or to pin up his badly torn pocket.

He only lost his way once among the devious turns which led to Sunset
Rock, and arrived there just as the party, quite satisfied with the
inspection of a view they had seen a score of times before, were ready
to depart, his appearance upon the scene with the telltale pocket being
greatly to the discomfiture of everybody concerned except Miss Stevens,
who found herself unaccountably pleased that Sam's delay had been due
to an accident, and able to believe his briefly told explanation at
once.  Miss Westlake was in despair.  She had really hoped, and
believed, that Sam had forgotten his engagement in business talk, and
she had felt quite triumphant about it.  Tilloughby, satisfied to be
with Miss Westlake, and Princeman, more than content to ride by the
side of Miss Stevens, were neither of them overjoyed at the appearance
of the fifth rider, who made fully as much a crowd as any "third party"
has ever done; and he disarranged matters considerably, for, though at
first lagging behind alone, a narrow place in the road shifted the
party so that when they emerged upon the other side of it Miss Westlake
was riding by the side of Sam, and Tilloughby was left to ride alone in
the center.  Thereupon Miss Westlake's horse developed a sudden
inclination to go very slowly.

"Papa says I'm becoming a very keen business woman," she remarked, by
and by.

"Well, you've the proper blood in you for it," said Sam.

"That doesn't seem to count," she laughed; "look at Billy.  But I think
I did a remarkably clever stroke this morning.  I induced papa to say
he'd double his stock in your company and give it to me.  He tells me
I've enough to 'swing' control.  Isn't that jolly?"

"It's hilariously jolly," admitted Sam, but with an inward wince.
Control and Westlake were two words which did not make, for him, a
cheerful juxtaposition.

"So now you'll have to be very nice indeed to me," went on Miss
Westlake banteringly, "or I'm likely to vote with the other crowd."

"I'll be just as nice to you as I know how," offered Sam.  "Just state
what you want me to do and I'll do it."

Miss Westlake did not state what she wanted him to do.  In place of
that she whipped up her horse rather smartly, after a thoughtful
silence, and joined Tilloughby, the three of them riding abreast.  The
next shifting, around a deep mud hole which only left room for an
Indian file procession, brought Sam alongside Miss Josephine, and here
he stuck for the balance of the ride, leaving Princeman to ride part of
the time alone between the two couples, and part of the time to be the
third rider with each couple in alternation.  Miss Josephine was very
much concerned about Mr. Turner's accident, very happy to know how
lucky he had been to come off without a scratch, except for the tear in
his coat, and very solicitous indeed about any further handling of the
obstreperous gray team; and, forgiving him readily under the
circumstances, she renewed her engagement to drive with him the next
morning!

Sam rode on home at the side of Miss Westlake, after leaving Miss
Stevens at Hollis Creek, in a strange and nebulous state of elation,
which continued until bedtime.  As he was about to retire he was handed
a wire from his brother:

"Just received patent papers meet me at Restview morning train."



CHAPTER XIII

A PLEASURE RIDE WITH MISS STEVENS

The morning train was due at ten o'clock.  At ten o'clock also Sam was
due at Hollis Creek to take his long deferred drive with Miss Stevens.
It was a slight conflict, her engagement, but the solution to that was
very easy.  As early in the morning as he dared, Sam called up Miss
Josephine.

"I've some glorious news," he said hopefully.  "My kid brother will
arrive at Restview on the ten o'clock train."

"You are to be congratulated," Miss Stevens told him, with an echo of
his own delight.

"But you know we've an engagement to go driving at ten o'clock," he
reminded her, still hopefully, but trembling in spirit.

There was an instant of hesitation, which ended in a laugh.

"Don't let that interfere," she said.  "We can defer our drive until
some other time, when fate is not so determined against it."

"But that doesn't suit me at all," he assured her.  "Why can't you be
ready at nine in place of ten, let me call for you at that time and
drive over to Restview with me to meet Jack?"

"Is that his name?" she asked in blissfully reassuring tones.  "You've
never spoken of him as anybody but your 'kid brother.'  Why of course
I'll drive over to Restview with you.  I shall be delighted to meet
him."

Privately she had her own fears of what Jack Turner might turn out to
be like.  Sam was always so good in speaking of him, always held him in
such tender regard, such profound admiration, that she feared he might
prove to be perfect only in Sam's eyes.

"Good," said Sam.  "Just for that I'm going to bring you over some
choice blooms that I have been having the gardener save back for me,"
and he turned away from the telephone quite happy in the thought that
for once he had been able to kill two birds with one stone without
ruffling the feathers of either.

Armed with a huge consignment of brilliant blossoms, enough to
transform her room into a fairy bower, he sped quite happily to Hollis
Creek.

"Oh, gladiolas!" cried Miss Josephine, as he drove up.  "How did you
ever guess it!  That little bird must have been busy again."

"Honestly, it was the little bird this time.  I just had an intuition
that you must like them because I do so well," upon which naïve
statement Miss Josephine merely smiled, and calling her father with
pretty peremptoriness, she loaded that heavy gentleman down with the
flowers and with instructions concerning them, and then stepped
brightly into the tonneau with Sam.

It was a pleasant ride they had to Restview, and it was a pleasant
surprise which greeted Miss Josephine when the train arrived, for out
of it stepped a youth who was unmistakably a Turner.  He was as tall as
Sam, but slighter, and as clean a looking boy as one would find in a
day's journey.  There was that, too, in the hand-clasp between the
brothers which proclaimed at once their flawless relationship.

Miss Stevens was so relieved to find the younger Turner so presentable
that she took him into her friendship at once.  He was that kind of
chap anyhow, and in the very first greeting she almost found herself
calling him Jack.  Just behind him, however, was a little, dried-up man
with a complexion the color of old parchment, with sandy, stubby hair
shot with gray, and a stubby gray beard shot with red.  His lips were a
wide straight line, as grim as judgment day.  He walked with a slight
stoop, but with a quick staccato step which betokened great nervous
energy, a quality which the alert expression of his beady eyes
confirmed with distinct emphasis.

"Hello, Creamer!" hailed Sam to this gentleman.  "I didn't expect to
see you here quite so soon."

"You had every right to expect me," snapped the little man querulously.
"After all the experimenting I have done for you boys, you had every
reason to keep me posted on all your movements; and yet I reckon if I
hadn't been in your office yesterday evening when Jack said he was
coming down here, you would not have notified me until you had your
company all formed.  Then I suppose you'd have written to tell me how
much stock you had assigned to me.  I'm going to be in on the formation
of this company, and I'm going to have my say about it!"

"Will you never get over that dyspepsia?" chided Sam easily.  "There
was no intention of leaving you out."

"Just what I told him," declared Jack, turning from Miss Stevens to
them.  "I have been swearing to him that as soon as we had found out
to-day what we were to do I would have wired him at once."

"You were quite right, Jack," approved Sam, opening the door of the car
for them, "and as a proof of it, Creamer, when you return to your
office you will find there a letter postmarked yesterday, telling you
our exact progress here, and warning you to be in readiness to come on
telegram."

"All right, then," said Mr. Creamer, somewhat mollified, "but since
that letter's there and I'm here, you might as well tell me what you've
done."

Sam stopped the proceedings long enough to introduce Creamer to Miss
Stevens after he had closed the door upon them and had taken his own
seat by the chauffeur.

"All right," he then said to Mr. Creamer, "I'll begin at the beginning."

He began at the beginning.  He told Mr. Creamer all the steps in the
development of the company.  He detailed to him the names of the
gentlemen concerned, and their complete commercial histories, pausing
to answer many pertinent side questions and observations from his
younger brother, who proved to be as keen a student of business puzzles
as Sam himself.

"That's all very well," said Mr. Creamer, "and now I'm here.  I want to
get away to-night: Can't we form that company to-day?  At what figure
do you propose offering the original stock?"

"The preferred at fifty, with a par value of a hundred," returned Sam
promptly.

"Common?" asked Mr. Creamer crisply.

"One share of common with each two shares of preferred."

"Eh!  Well, I've twenty-five thousand dollars to put into this marsh
pulp business, if I can have any figure in the management.  I want on
the board."

"It's quite likely you'll be on the board," returned Sam.  "We shall
have a very small list of subscribers, and the board will not be
unwieldy if every investor is a director."

"Voting power in the common stock?"

"In the common stock," repeated Sam.

"Do you intend to buy any preferred?" asked Creamer.

"A hundred shares."

"How much common do you expect to take out for your patents?"

"Two hundred and fifty thousand," Sam answered without an instant's
hesitation.

"Never!" exclaimed Mr. Creamer.  "The time for that's gone by, young
man, no matter how good your proposition is.  It's too old a game.  You
won't handle my money with control in your hands.  I have no objection
to letting you have two hundred thousand dollars worth of common stock
out of the half million, because that will give you an incentive to
make the common worth par; but you shan't at any time have or be able
to acquire a share over two hundred and forty-nine thousand; not if I
know anything about it!  Can you call a meeting as soon as we get
there?"

"I think so," replied Sam, with a more or less worried air.  "I'll try
it.  Tell you what I'll do.  I'll run right on over to get Mr. Stevens,
who wants to join the company, and in the meantime Mr. Westlake or
Princeman can round up the others."

For the first time in that drive Miss Stevens had something to say, but
she said it with a briefness that was like a dash of cold water to the
preoccupied Sam.

"Father is over there now, I think," she said.

"Good," approved Mr. Creamer.  "We can have a little direct business
talk and wind up the whole affair before lunch.  What time do we arrive
at Meadow Brook?"

"Before eleven o'clock."

"That will give us two hours.  Two hours is enough to form any company,
when everybody knows exactly what he wants to do.  Got a lawyer over
there?"

"One of the best in the country."

Miss Stevens sat in the center seat of the tonneau.  Sam, in addressing
his remarks to the others and in listening to their replies, was
compelled to sweep his glance squarely across her, and occasionally in
these sweeps he paused to let his gaze rest upon her.  She was a relief
to his eyes, a blessing to them!  Miss Stevens, however, seldom met any
of these glances.  Very much preoccupied she was, looking at the
passing scenery and not seeing it.

There had begun boiling and seething in Miss Stevens a feeling that she
was decidedly _de trop_, that these men could talk their absorbing
business more freely if she were not there; not because she embarrassed
them, but because she used up space!  Nobody seemed to give her a
thought.  Nobody seemed to be aware that she was present.  They were
almost gaspingly engrossed in something far more important to them than
she was.  It was uncomplimentary, to say the least.  She was not used
to playing "second fiddle" in any company.  She was in the habit of
absorbing the most of the attention in her immediate vicinity.  Mr.
Princeman or Mr. Hollis would neither one ignore her in that way, to
say nothing of Billy Westlake.

She was glad when they reached Meadow Brook.  Their whole talk had been
of marsh pulp, and company organization, and preferred and common
stock, and who was to get it, and how much they were to pay for it, and
how they were going to cut the throats of the wood pulp manufacturers,
and how much profit they were going to make from the consumers and with
all that, not a word for her.  Not a single word!  Not even an apology!
Oh, it was atrocious!  As soon as they drew up to the porch she rose,
and before Sam could jump down to open the door of the tonneau she had
opened it for herself and sprung out.

"I'll hunt up father right away for you," she stated courteously.
"Glad to have met you, Mr. Creamer.  I presume I shall meet you again,
Mr. Turner," she said to Jack.  "Thank you so much for the ride," she
said to Sam, and then she was gone.

Sam looked after her blankly.  It couldn't be possible that she was
"huffy" about this business talk.  Why, couldn't the girl see that this
had to do with the birth of a great big company, a million dollar
corporation, and that it was of vital importance to him?  It meant the
apex of a lifetime of endeavor.  It meant the upbuilding of a fortune.
Couldn't she see that he and his brother were two lone youngsters
against all these shrewd business men, whose only terms of aiding them
and floating this big company was to take their mastery of it away from
them?  Couldn't she understand what control of a million dollar
organization meant?  He was not angry with Miss Stevens for her
apparent attitude in this matter, but he was hurt.  He was not
impatient with her, but he was impatient of the fact that she could not
appreciate.  Now the fat was in the fire again.  He felt that.  Under
other circumstances he would have said that it was much more trouble
than it was worth to keep in the good graces of a girl, but under the
present circumstances--well, his heart had sunk down about a foot out
of place, and he had a sort of faint feeling in the region of his
stomach.  He was just about sick.  He followed her in, just in time to
see the flutter of her skirts at the top of the stairway, but he could
not call without making himself and her ridiculous.  Confound things in
general!

Mr. Stevens joined him while he was still looking into that blank hole
in the world.

"Glad I happened to be here, Sam," said Stevens.  "Jo tells me that
your brother and Mr. Creamer have arrived and that you want to form
that company right away."

"Yes," admitted Sam.  "Was she sarcastic about it?"

Mr. Stevens closed his eyes and laughed.

"Not exactly sarcastic," he stated; "but she did allude to your
proposed corporation as 'that old company!'"

"I was afraid so," said Sam ruefully.

Stevens surveyed him in amusement for a moment, and then in pity.

"Never mind, my boy," he said kindly.  "You'll get used to these things
by and by.  It took me the first five years of my married life to
convince Mrs. Stevens that business was not a rival to her affections,
when, if I'd only have known the recipe, I could have convinced her at
the start."

"How did you finally do it?" asked Sam, vitally interested.

"Made her my confidante and adviser," stated Stevens, smiling
reminiscently.

Sam shook his head.

"Was that safe?" he asked.  "Didn't she sometimes let out your secrets?"

"Bosh!" exclaimed Stevens.  "I'd rather trust a woman than a man, any
day, with a secret, business or personal.  That goes for any woman;
mother, sister, sweetheart, wife, daughter, or stenographer.  Just give
them a chance to get interested in your game, and they're with you
against the world."

"Thanks," said Sam, putting that bit of information aside for future
pondering.  "By the way, Mr. Stevens, before we join the others I'd
like to ask you how much stock you're going to carry in the Marsh Pulp
Company."

"Well," returned Mr. Stevens slowly, "I did think that if the thing
looked good on final analysis, I might invest twenty-five thousand
dollars."

"Can't you stretch that to fifty?"

"Can't see it.  But why?  Don't you think you're going to fill your
list?"

"We'll fill our list all right," returned Sam.  "As a matter of fact,
that's what I'm afraid of.  These fellows are going to pool their
stock, and hold control in their own hands.  Now if I could get you to
invest fifty thousand and vote with me under proper emergency, I could
control the thing; and I ought to.  It is my own company.  Seems to me
these fellows are selfish about it.  You think I'm a good business man,
don't you?"

"I certainly do," agreed Mr. Stevens emphatically.

"Well, it stands to reason that if I have two hundred and sixty
thousand dollars of common stock that isn't worth a picayune unless I
make it worth par, I'll hustle; and if I make my common stock worth
par, I'm making a fine, fat profit for these other fellows, to say
nothing of the raising of their preferred stock from the value of fifty
to a hundred dollars a share, and their common from nothing to a
hundred."

"That's all right, Sam," returned Mr. Stevens; "but you'll work just as
hard to make your common worth par if you only have two hundred
thousand; and there's a growing tendency on the part of capital to be
able to keep a string on its own money.  Strange, but true."

"All right," said Sam wearily.  "We won't argue that point any more
just now; but will you invest fifty thousand?"

"I can't promise," said Stevens, and he walked out on the porch.  Much
worried, Sam followed him, and with many misgivings he introduced Mr.
Stevens to his brother Jack and to Mr. Creamer.  The prospective
organizers of the Marsh Pulp Company were already in solemn conclave on
the porch, with the single exception of Princeman, who was on the lawn
talking most perfunctorily with Miss Josephine.  That young lady, with
wickedness of the deepest sort in her soul, was doing her best to
entice Mr. Princeman into forgetting the important meeting, but as soon
as Princeman saw the gathering hosts he gently but firmly tore himself
away, very much to her surprise and indignation.  Why, he had been as
rude to her as Sam Turner himself, in placing the charms of business
above her own!  Immediately afterward she snubbed Billy Westlake
unmercifully.  Had he the qualities which would go to make a successful
man in any walk of life?  No!



CHAPTER XIV

A DUAL QUESTION OF MATRIMONIAL ELIGIBILITY AND STOCK SUBSCRIPTION

Mr. Westlake dropped back with his old friend Stevens as they trailed
into the parlor which Blackstone had secured.

"Are you going to subscribe rather heavily in the company, Stevens?"
inquired Westlake, with the curiosity of a man who likes to have his
own opinion corroborated by another man of good judgment.

"Well," replied the father of Miss Josephine, "I think of taking a
rather solid little block of stock.  I believe I can spare twenty-five
thousand dollars to invest in almost any company Sam Turner wants to
start."

"He's a fine boy," agreed Westlake.  "A square, straight young fellow,
a good business man, and a hustler.  I see him playing tennis with my
girl every day, and she seems to think a lot of him."

"He's bound to make his mark," Mr. Stevens acquiesced, sharply
suppressing a fool impulse to speak of his own daughter.  "Do you
fellows intend to let him secure control of this company?"

"I should say not!" replied Westlake, with such unnecessary emphasis
that Stevens looked at him with sudden suspicion.  He knew enough about
old Westlake to "copper" his especially emphatic statements.

"Are you agreeable to Princeman's plan to pool all stock but Turner's?"

"Well--we can talk about that later."

"Huh!" grunted Mr. Stevens, and together the two heavy-weights, Stevens
with his aggressive beard suddenly pointed a trifle more straight out,
and Mr. Westlake with his placidity even more marked than usual,
stalked on into the parlor, where Mr. Blackstone, taking the chair _pro
tem_., read them the preliminary agreement he had drawn up; upon which
Sam Turner immediately started to wrangle, a proceeding which proved
altogether in vain.

The best he could get for patents and promotion was two thousand out of
the five thousand shares of common stock, and finally he gave in,
knowing that he could not secure the right kind of men on better terms.
Mr. Blackstone thereupon offered a subscription list, to which every
man present solemnly appended his name opposite the number of shares he
would take.  Sam, at the last moment, put down his own name for a block
of stock which meant a cash investment of considerably more than he had
originally figured upon.  He cast up the list hurriedly.  Five hundred
shares of preferred, carrying half that much common, were still to be
subscribed.  With whom could he combine to obtain control?  The only
men who had subscribed enough for that purpose were Princeman, who was
out of the question, and, in fact, would be the leader of the
opposition, and Westlake.  The highest of the others were Creamer,
Cuthbert and Stevens.  Sam would have to subscribe for the entire five
hundred in order to make these men available to him.

McComas and Blackstone had only subscribed for the same amount as Sam.
They could do him no good, and he knew it was hopeless to attempt to
get two men to join with him.  He looked over at Westlake.  That
gentleman was smiling like a placid cherub, all innocence without, and
kindliness and good deeds; but there was nevertheless something fishy
about Westlake's eyes, and Sam, in memory, cast over a list of maimed
and wounded and crushed who had come in Westlake's business way.  The
logical candidate was Stevens.  Stevens simply had to take enough stock
to overbalance this thing, then he simply must vote his stock with
Sam's!  That was all there was to it!  Sam did not pause to worry about
how he was to gain over Stevens' consent, but he had an intuitive
feeling that this was his only chance.

"Stevens," said he briskly, "there are five hundred shares left.  I'll
take half of it if you'll take the other half."

His brother Jack looked at him startled.  Their total holdings, in that
case, would mean an investment of more money than they could spare from
their other operations.  It would cramp them tremendously, but Jack
ventured no objections.  He had seen Sam at the helm in decisive places
too often to interfere with him, either by word or look.  As a matter
of fact such a proceeding was not safe anyhow.

"I don't mind--" began Westlake, slowly fixing a beaming eye upon Sam,
and crossing his hands ponderously upon his periphery; but before he
could announce his benevolent intention, Mr. Stevens, with what might
almost have been considered a malevolent glance toward Mr. Westlake,
spoke up.

"I'll accept your proposition," he said with a jerk of his beard as his
jaws snapped.  So Miss Westlake thought a great deal of Sam, eh?  And
old Westlake knew it, eh?  And he had already subscribed enough stock
to throw Sam control, eh?

"Thanks," said Sam, and shot Mr. Stevens a look of gratitude as he
altered the subscription figures.

"Stop just a moment, Sam," put in Mr. Westlake.  "How many shares of
common stock does that give you in combination with your bonus?"

"Two thousand two hundred and sixty," said Sam.

"Oh!" said Mr. Westlake musingly; "not enough for control by two
hundred and forty one shares; so you won't mind, since you haven't
enough for control anyhow, if I take up that additional two hundred and
fifty shares of preferred, with its one hundred and twenty-five of
common, myself."

Sam once more paused and glanced over the subscription list.  As it
stood now, aside from Princeman, there were two members, Westlake and
Stevens, with whom, if he could get either one of them to do so, he
could pool his common stock.  If he allowed Westlake to take up this
additional two hundred and fifty shares, Westlake was the only string
to his bow.

"No, thanks," said Sam.  "I prefer to keep them myself.  It seems to me
to be a very fair and equitable division just as it is."

In the end it stood just that way.



CHAPTER XV

THE HERO OF THE HOUR

On that very same afternoon, the youth and beauty, also the age and
wisdom, of both Hollis Creek and Meadow Brook, gathered around the ball
field of the former resort, to watch the Titanic struggle for victory
between the two picked nines.  As Sam took his place behind the bat for
the first man up, who was Hollis, he felt his first touch of
self-confidence anent the strictly amusement features of summer
resorting.  In all the other athletic pursuits he had been backward,
but here, as he smacked his fist in his glove, he felt at home.

The only thing he did not like about it, as Princeman wound himself up
to deliver the first ball, was that Princeman had the position of
glory.  On that gentleman the spotlight burned brightly all the time,
and if they won, he would be the hero of the hour; the modest, reliable
catcher would scarcely be thought of except by the men who knew the
finer points of the game, and it was not the men whom he had in mind.
Honestly and sincerely, he desired to shine before Miss Josephine
Stevens.  She was over there at the edge of the field under an oak tree.

Before her, cavorting for her amusement, were not only Princeman and
himself, but Billy Westlake and Hollis, each of them alert for action
at this moment; for now Princeman, with a mighty twirl upon his great
toe, released the ball.  It never reached Sam Turner's hands; instead
it bounced off the bat with a "crack!" and sailed right down through
Billy Westlake, who, at second, made a frantic grab for it, and then it
spun out between center and right field, losing itself in the bushes,
while Hollis, amid the frantic cheers of the audience, which consisted
of Miss Josephine Stevens and several unconsidered other spectators,
tore around the circuit.  His colleagues strove wildly to hold Hollis
at third, for the ball was found and was sailing over to that base.  It
arrived there just as he did, but far over the head of the third
baseman, and fat, curly-haired Hollis, who looked like an ice wagon but
ran like a motorcycle, secured the first run for Hollis Creek.

The next batter was up.  Princeman, his confidence loftily unshaken,
gave a correct imitation of a pretzel and delivered the ball.  The
batsman swung viciously at it.

Spat!  It landed in Sam's glove.

"Strike one!" called the strident voice of Blackrock, who, jerking
himself back several years into youth again, was umpiring the game with
great joy.  Nonchalantly Sam snapped the ball back over-hand.
Princeman smiled with calm superiority.  He wound himself up.

Spat!  The ball had cut the plate and was in Sam's hands, while the
batsman stood looking earnestly at the path over which it had come.

"Strike two!" called Blackstone.

Sam jerked the ball back with an underwrist toss of great perfection.
Princeman drew himself up with smiling ease and posed a moment for the
edification of the on-lookers.  Sam Turner was the very first to detect
the unbearable arrogance of that pose.  Princeman eyed the batsman
critically, mercilessly even, and delivered the third fatal
plate-splitter.

Z-z-z-ing!  The sphere slammed right out through Billy Westlake, who
made a frantic grab for it.  It bounded down between center and right
field, and the players bumped shoulders in trying to stop it.  It
nestled among the bushes.  The batsman tore around the bases.  His
colleagues tried to hold him at third, for the ball was streaking in
that direction, but the batsman pawed straight on.  The ball crossed
the base before he did, but it bounded between the third sacker's feet,
and score two was marked up for Hollis Creek, with nobody out!

With undiminished confidence, though somewhat annoyed, Princeman made a
cute little knot of himself for the next batsman.

Spat!  The ball landed in Sam's glove, two feet wide of the plate.

"Ball one!" called Blackstone.

Spat!  In Sam's glove again, with the batsman jumping back to save his
ribs.

"Ball two!" cried Blackstone.

Spat!

"Ball three."

"Put 'em over, Princeman!" yelled Billy Westlake from second.

"Don't be afraid of him!  He couldn't hit it with a pillow!" jeered the
third baseman.

In a calm, superior sort of way, Mr. Princeman smiled and shot over the
ball.

"Four balls.  Take your base!" said Mr. Blackstone, quite gently.

Reassuringly Mr. Princeman smiled upon his supporters, consisting of
Miss Josephine Stevens and some other summer resorters, and proceeded
to take out his revenge upon the next batter.  The first two lofts were
declared to be balls, and then Sam, catching his man playing too far
off, snapped the pill down to the nearest suburb and nailed the first
out.  Encouraged by this, Princeman put over three successive strikes,
and there were two gone.  The next batter up, however, laced out, for
two easy way-points, the first ball presented him.  The next athlete
brought him in with a single, and the next one put down a three-bagger
which bored straight through Princeman and short stop and center field.
That inglorious inning ended with a brilliant throw of Sam's to Billy
Westlake at second, nipping a would-be thief who had hoped to purloin
the seventh tally for Hollis Creek.

Billy Westlake, then taking the bat, increased the Meadow Brook
depression by slapping the soft summer air three vicious spanks and
retiring to think it over, and young Tilloughby bounced a feeble little
bunt square at the feet of Hollis and was tossed out at first by
something like six furlongs.  The third batsman popped up a slow, lazy
foul which gave the catcher almost plenty of time to roll a cigarette
before it came down, and the Meadow Brook side was ignominiously
retired.  Score, six to nothing at the end of the first.

Princeman hit the first man up in the next inning and sent him down to
the initial bag, which was a flat stone, happily limping.  He issued
free transportation to the next man and let the cripple hobble on to
second, chortling with glee.  The third man went to the first station
on a measly little bunt with which Sam and Princeman and third base did
some neat and shifty foot work, and the next man up soaked out a Wright
Brothers beauty among the trees over beyond left field, and cleared the
bases amid the perfectly frantic rejoicing of the fickle Miss Josephine
Stevens and all the negligible balance of Hollis Creek.  Oh, it was
disgraceful!  Sam Turner ground his teeth in impotent rage.  He walked
up to Princeman.

"Say, old man," he pleaded.  "We've just _got_ to settle down!  We
_must_ pull this game out of the fire!  We _can't_ let Hollis Creek
walk away with it!"

Princeman was pale, but clutched at his fast-slipping-away nonchalance
with the grip of desperation.

"We'll hold them," he declared, and with careful deliberation he put
over a ball which the next batter sent sailing right down inside the
right foul line, pulling the first baseman away back almost to right
field.  Princeman stood gaping at that bingle in paralyzed dismay; but
the batsman, who was a slow runner and slow thinker, stood a fatal
second to see whether the ball was fair or foul.  Almost at the crack
of the bat Sam Turner started, raced down to first, caught the right
fielder's throw and stepped on the stone, one handsome stride ahead of
the runner!  Then, as Blackrock, speechless with admiration, waved the
runner out, the first mighty howl went up from Meadow Brook, and one
partisan of the Hollis Creek nine, turning her back for the moment
squarely upon her own colors, led the cheering.  Sam heard her voice.
It was a solo, while all the rest of the cheering was a faint
accompaniment, and with such elation as comes only to the heroes in
victorious battle, he trotted back to his place and caught three balls
and three strikes on the next batter.  Also, the next one went out on a
pop fly which Sam was able to catch.

In their half Princeman redeemed himself in part by a three bagger
which brought in two scores, and the second inning ended at ten to
three in favor of Hollis Creek.

Confident and smiling, reinforced by the memory of his three bagger,
Princeman took the mount for the beginning of the third, and with his
compliments he suavely and politely presented a base to the first man
up.  A groan arose from all Meadow Brook.  The second batsman shot a
stinger to Princeman, who dropped it, and that batsman immediately
thereafter roosted on first, crowing triumphantly; but the hot liner
allowed Princeman a graceful opportunity.  He complained of a badly
hurt finger on his pitching hand.  He called time while he held that
injured member, and expressed in violent gestures the intolerable agony
of it.  Bravely, however, he insisted upon "sticking it out," and
passed two wild ones up to the next willow wielder; then, having proved
his gameness, he nobly sacrificed himself for the good of Meadow Brook,
called time and asked for a substitute pitcher.  He would go anywhere.
He would take the field or he would retire.  What he wanted was Meadow
Brook to win.  This was precisely what Sam Turner also wanted, and he
lost no time in calling, with ill-concealed satisfaction, upon his
brother Jack.  Then Jack Turner, nothing loath, deserted his
comfortable seat by the side of Miss Josephine Stevens, and strode
forth to the mound, leaving the unfortunate Princeman to take his place
by the side of Miss Stevens and give her an opportunity to sympathize
with his poor maimed pitching hand, which, after a perfunctory moment
of interest, she was too busy to do; for Jack Turner and Sam Turner,
smiling across at each other in mutual confidence and esteem, proceeded
to strike out the next three batters in succession, leaving men
cemented to first and second bases, where they had been wildly
imploring for opportunities to tear themselves loose.

What need to tell of the balance of that game; of the calm, easy,
one-two-three work of the invincible Turner battery; of the brilliant
base throwing and fielding of Turner and Turner, and their mighty swats
when they came to bat?  You know how the game turned out.  Anybody
would know.  It ended in a triumph for Meadow Brook at the end of the
seventh inning, which is all any summer resort game ever goes, and two
innings more than most, by a total and glorious score of twenty-one to
seventeen.  And who were the heroes of the hour, as smilingly but
modestly they strode from the diamond?  Who, indeed, but Jack Turner
and Sam Turner; and by token of their victory, after receiving the
frenzied plaudits of all Meadow Brook and the generous plaudits of all
Hollis Creek, they marched in triumph from the field, one on either
side of Miss Josephine Stevens!  Where now were Hollis and Princeman
and Billy Westlake?  Nowhere!  They were forgotten of men, ignored of
women, and the laurels of sweet victory rested upon the brow of busy
Sam Turner!



CHAPTER XVI

AN INTERRUPTED BUT PROPERLY FINISHED PROPOSAL OF MARRIAGE

Jack's first opportunity for a quiet talk with his brother did not
occur for an hour after the game.

"I don't like to worry you while you're resting, Sam," he began, "but
I'll have to tell you that the Flatbush deal seems likely to drop
through.  It reaches a head to-morrow, you know."

[Illustration: "I don't like to worry you, Sam"]

Sam Turner grabbed for his watch.

"It can't drop through!" he vigorously declared.  "I'll go right up
there to-night and look after it."

"But you're on your vacation," protested Jack.  "That's no way to rest."

"On my vacation!" snorted Sam.  "Of course I am.  I'm not losing a
minute of my vacation.  The proper way to have a vacation is to do the
thing you enjoy most.  Don't you suppose I'll enjoy closing that
Flatbush deal?"

"Certainly," admitted his brother, "and I'll enjoy seeing you do it.  I
know you can."

"Of course I can.  But you're to stay here."

"It's not my turn for an outing," protested Jack.  "I haven't earned
one yet."

"You're to work," explained Sam.  "You see, Jack, in one week I can't
become a bowling or golf expert enough to beat Princeman, nor a tennis
or dancing expert enough to outshine Billy Westlake, nor a horseback or
croquet expert enough to make a deuce out of Hollis.  You can do all
these things, and I want you to give this crowd of distinguished
amateurs a showing up.  Jack, if you ever worked for athletic honors in
your life now is the time to do it; and in between time stick to Miss
Stevens like glue.  Monopolize her.  Don't give these three or any
other contenders any of her time.  Keep her busy.  Let me know every
day what progress you're making; don't stop to write; wire!  For
remember, Jack, I'm going to marry her.  I've got to."

"Well, then you'll marry her," Jack sagely concluded.  "Does she know
it yet?"

"I don't think she's quite sure of it," returned Sam with careful
analysis.  "Of course she's thought about it.  Sometimes she thinks she
won't, and sometimes she thinks she will, and sometimes she isn't quite
sure whether she will or not.  Don't you worry about that part, though,
and don't bother to boost me.  Just quietly you take the shine out of
these summer champions and leave the rest to your brother Sam."

"Fine," agreed Jack.  "Run right along and sell your papers, Sammy, and
I'll wire you every time I put over a point."

Sam hunted and found Miss Josephine.

"I'm sorry I have to take a run back to New York for two or three
days," he said.

She bent upon him a glance of amusement; the old glance of mingled
amusement and mischief.

"I thought you were on your vacation," she observed.

"And I am," he insisted.  "I've been having a bully time, and I'll come
back here to finish up the couple of days I have left."

"Then the drive which didn't count this morning, and which was
postponed again until to-morrow morning, will have to be put off once
more," she reminded him with a gay laugh.

"By George, that's so!" he exclaimed.  "In all the excitement it had
quite slipped my mind."

"I presume you're going up on business," she slyly observed.

"Yes, I am," he admitted.

She laughed and gave him her hand.

"Well, I wish you good luck," she said.  "I hope you make all the money
in the world.  But you won't forget us who are down here in the country
dawdling away our time in useless amusements."

"Forget you!" he returned impetuously.  "Never for a minute!" and he
was in such deadly earnest about it that she hastily checked further
speech, although she did not know why.

"Good!" she hurriedly exclaimed.  "I'm glad you will bear us in mind
while you're gone.  Are you going to take your brother along?"

"No," he said with a smile.  "I'm putting him in as my vacation
substitute, and I'll give him special instructions to call you up every
morning for orders.  You'll find him in perfect discipline.  He'll do
whatever you tell him."

"I shall give him a thorough trial," she laughed.  "I never yet had
anybody to come and go abjectly at the word of command, and I think it
will be a delightful novelty."

Jack approaching just then, she took his arm quite comfortably.

"Your brother tells me that during his absence you are to be my chief
aide and attaché," she advised that young man gaily; "that you'll fetch
and carry and do what I tell you; and the first thing you must do is to
call for me when you take Mr. Turner to the train."

It is glorious to part so pleasantly as that from people you have
persistently in mind, and Sam, with such cheerful recollections,
enjoyed his vacation to the full as he did new and brilliant and
unexpected things in closing up the Flatbush deal, keeping, in the
meantime, in constant touch with his office and with such telegrams as
these:

"Established new tennis record this morning Westlake nowhere and has
been snubbed do not know why."


"Bowled two eighty five last night against Princeman two twenty am
teaching her."


"Danced six dances out of twelve with her says I'm better dancer than
Billy Westlake."


"Jumped Hollis Creek after her hat on horseback this afternoon Hollis
dared not follow am to give her riding lessons."


Then came this one:

"Her father just told me she refused Princeman last night she will not
talk to Hollis and scarcely to me is dull and does not eat I beat all
entries in ten mile Marathon today and she hardly applauded wire
instructions."


Sam Turner took the next train.  One look at Miss Stevens, after he had
traveled two years to reach Restview, made him suddenly intoxicated,
for in her eyes there was ravenous hunger for him and he read it, and
feeling rather sure of his ground he determined that now was the time
to strike.  With that decisive end in view he dropped Jack at Meadow
Brook and went right on over to Hollis Creek with Miss Josephine.  Of
course there was no chance to talk quite intimately, with Henry up
there ahead listening with all his ears, but there was every chance in
the world to look into her eyes and grow delirious; to touch elbows; to
look again and gaze deep into her eyes and see her turn away startled
and half frightened; to say perfunctory things which meant nothing and
everything, and receive perfunctory answers which meant as little and
as much; but before they had arrived at Hollis Creek Sam was frankly
and boldly holding her hand and she was letting him do it, and they
were both of them profoundly happy and profoundly silly, and would just
as leave have ridden on that way for ever.

Words seemed superfluous, but yet they were more or less necessary, so
Sam got out at Hollis Creek Inn with her, and led the way determinedly
and directly into the stuffy little parlor just off the main assembly
room.  He saw Mr. Stevens in the door of the post-office, but only
nodded to him, and then he drew Miss Josephine into the corner freest
from observation.

"You know why I came back," he informed her, fixing her with a masterly
eye; "I had to see you again.  My whole life is changed since I met
you.  I need you.  I can not do without you.  I--"

"Beg your pardon, Sam," said Mr. Stevens, appearing suddenly in the
doorway, and then he paused, much more confused even than the young
people, for Sam was holding both Miss Josephine's hands and gazing down
at her with an earnestness which, if harnessed, would have driven a
four-ton dynamo; and she was gazing up at him just as earnestly, with
an entirely breathless, but by no means displeased expression.

"Excuse me!" stammered Mr. Stevens.

[Illustration: "Excuse me!" stammered Mr. Stevens.]

It was Miss Josephine who first found her aplomb.  She smiled her rare
smile of mingled amusement and mischief at Sam, and then at her father.

"You're quite excusable, I guess, father," she said sweetly.  "What is
it?"

"Why, your brother Jack just called you up from Meadow Brook, Sam, and
wants to tell you something immediately," stammered Mr. Stevens,
plucking at a beard which in that moment seemed to have lost all its
aggressiveness.  "He called twice before you arrived, and is on the
'phone now."

Sam, as he walked to the telephone, had time to find that his heart was
beating a tattoo against his ribs, that his breath was short and
fluttery, and that stage fright had suddenly crept over him and claimed
him for its own; so it was with no great patience or understanding that
he heard Jack tell him in great glee about some tests which Princeman
had had made in his own paper mills with the marsh pulp, and how
Princeman was sorry he had not taken more stock, and could not the
treasury stock be opened for further subscription?  "Tell him no," said
Sam shortly, and hung up the receiver; then he repented of his
bluntness and spent five precious minutes in recalling his brother and
apologizing for his bruskness, explaining that Princeman was probably
trying to plan another attempt to pool the stock.

In the meantime Theophilus Stevens had stood surveying his daughter in
contrition.

"I'm afraid I came in at a most inopportune moment," he said by way of
apology.

"Yes, I'm afraid you did," she admitted with a smile.  "However, I
don't think Sam will forget what he wanted to say," and suddenly she
reached up and put her arms around her father's neck and drew his face
down and kissed him rapturously.

"I'm glad to see you feel the way you do about it," said Mr. Stevens
delightedly, petting her gently upon the shoulder with one hand and
with the other smoothing back the hair from her forehead.  She was the
dearest to him of all his children, although he never confessed it,
even to himself, and just now they were very, very close together
indeed.  "I'm glad to hear you call him Sam, too.  He's a fine young
man and he is bound to be a howling success in everything he
undertakes."  He smiled reminiscently.  "I rather thought there was
something between you two," he went on, still patting her shoulder,
"and when Dan Westlake told me that his girl thought a great deal of
Sam and that he was going to buy enough stock in Sam's company to give
Sam control, I turned right around and bought just as much stock as
Westlake had, although just before the meeting I had refused to invest
as much money as Sam wanted me to.  Moreover, Westlake and myself,
between us, stopped the move to pool the outside stock, just yet.  He's
a smart young man, that boy," he continued admiringly.  "I didn't see,
until I went into that meeting, why he was so crazy to have me buy
enough stock to gain control--  What's the matter?"

He stopped in perplexity, for his daughter, looking aghast at him, had
pushed back from his embrace and was regarding him with perfectly round
eyes, while over her face, at first pale, there gradually crept a
crimson flush.

"Well, of all things!" she gasped.  "Of all the cold-blooded, cruel,
barter-and-sale proceedings!  Why, father, how--how could you!  How
could he!  I never in all my life--"

"Why, Jo, what do you mean?  What's the trouble?"

"If you don't understand I can't make you," she said helplessly.

"Well, I'll be--busted!" observed Mr. Stevens under his breath.

To his infinite relief Sam came in just then, and Mr. Stevens,
wondering what he had done now, slipped hastily out of the room.  Mr.
Turner, coming from the bright office into the dim room and innocent of
any change in the atmosphere, approached confidently and eagerly to
Miss Josephine with both hands extended, but she stepped back most
indignantly.

"You need not finish what you were going to say!" she warned him.  "My
father has just given me some information which changes the entire
aspect of affairs.  I am not a part of a business bargain!  I refuse to
be regarded as a commercial proposition!  I heard something from Mr.
Princeman of what desperate efforts you were making to secure the
command, whatever that may be, of the--of the stock--board--of shares
in your new company, but I did not think you would go to such lengths
as this!"

"Why, my dear girl," began Sam, shocked.

"I am not your dear girl and I never shall be," she told him, and
angrily dabbed at some sudden tears.  "I never was.  I was only a
business possibility."

"That's unjust," he charged her.  "I don't see how you could accuse me
of regarding you in any other way than as the dearest and the sweetest
and the most beautiful girl in all the world, the wisest and the most
sensible, the most faithful, the most charming, the most delightful,
the most everything that is desirable."

"Wait just a moment," she told him, very coldly indeed; with almost
extravagant coldness, in fact, as she beat out of her consciousness the
enticing epithets he had bestowed upon her.  "Do you mean to say that
never in your calculations did you consider that if you married me my
father would vote his stock with yours--I believe that's the way he
puts it--and give you command or whatever it is of your company?"

"Well," considered Sam, brought to a standstill and put straight upon
his honor, "I can't deny that it did seem to me a very satisfactory
thing that my father-in-law should own enough stock in the company--"

"That will do," she interrupted him icily.  "That is precisely what I
have charged.  We will consider this subject as ended, Mr. Turner; as
one never to be referred to again."

"We'll do nothing of the sort," returned Sam flat-footedly.  "I've been
composing this speech for the last two weeks and I'm going to deliver
it.  I'm not going to have it wasted.  I've unconsciously been
rehearsing it every place I went.  Even up in Flatbush, showing a man
the superior advantages of that yellow-mud district, I found myself
repeating sentence number twelve.  It's been the first thing I thought
of in the morning and the last thing I thought of at night.  It's been
with me all day, riding and walking and talking and eating and drinking
and just breathing.  Now I'm going to go through with it.

"I--I--confound it all!  I've forgotten how I was going to say it now!
After all, though, it only amounted to this: I love you!  I want you to
know it and understand it.  I love you and love you and love you!  I
never loved any woman before in my life.  I never had time.  I didn't
know what it was like.  If I had I'd have fought it off until I met
you, because I could not afford it for anybody short of you.  It takes
my whole attention.  It distracts my mind entirely from other things.
I can't think of anything else consecutively and connectedly.  I--I'm
sorry you take the attitude you do about this thing, but--I'm not going
to accept your viewpoint.  You've got to look at this thing differently
to understand it.

"I know you've been glad I loved you.  You were glad the first day we
met, and you always will be glad!  Whatever you have to say about it
just now don't count.  I'm going to let you alone a while to think it
over, and then I'm coming back to tell you more about it," and with
that Sam stalked from the room, leaving Miss Josephine Stevens gasping,
dazed, quite sure that he was unforgivable, indignant with everything,
still rankling, in spite of all Sam had said, with the thought that she
had been made a mere part of a commercial transaction.  Why, it was
like those barbarous countries she had read about, where wives are
bought and sold!  Preposterous and unbearable!

While she was in this storm of mixed emotions her father came in upon
her, this time seriously perplexed.

"What has happened to Sam Turner?" he demanded.  "He slammed out of the
house, passed me on the porch with only a grunt, and jumped into his
automobile.  You must have done something to anger him."

"I hope that I did!" she retorted with spirit.  "I refused to marry
him."

"You did!" he returned in surprise.  "Why, I thought it was all cut and
dried between you."

"It was until you blundered into us and spoiled everything," she
charged.  "But I'm glad you did.  You let me know that Sam Turner
wanted to marry me because you had bought shares enough in his company
to give him the advantage.  I'm ashamed of you and ashamed of Sam--of
Mr. Turner--and ashamed of myself.  Why, you make a bargain-counter
remnant of me!  I never, _never_ was so humiliated!"

"Poor child!" her father blandly sympathized.  "Also, poor Sam.  By the
way, though, he doesn't need you to secure control of his company.  Dan
Westlake, as I told you, has bought enough stock to do the work, and
Miss Westlake would marry him in a minute.  If Sam wants control of his
company, he only has to go to her and say the word."

"Father!" exclaimed his daughter with stern indignation.  "I don't see
how you can even suggest that!"

"Suggest what?  Now, what have I said?"

"That Sam--that Mr. Turner would even dream of marrying that Westlake
girl, just in order to get the better of a business transaction," and
very much to Theophilus Stevens' surprise and consternation and dismay,
she suddenly crumpled up in a heap in her chair and burst out crying.

"Well, I'll be busted!" her father muttered into his beard.



CHAPTER XVII

SHE CALLS HIM SAM!

Miss Josephine, finding all ordinary occupations stale, unprofitable
and wearisome on the following morning, and finding herself, moreover,
possessed of a restless spirit which urged her to do something or other
and yet recoiled at each suggestion she made it, started out quite
aimlessly to walk by herself.  She walked in the direction of Meadow
Brook.  The paths in that direction were so much prettier.

Sam Turner, finding all other occupations stale, unprofitable and
wearisome, at the same moment started out to walk by himself, going in
the direction of Hollis Creek because that was the exact direction in
which he wanted to go.  As he walked much more rapidly than Miss
Stevens, he arrived midway of the distance before she did, but at the
valley where the unnamed stream came rippling down he paused.

He had looked often at this little hollow as he had passed it, and
every time he had looked upon it he seemed to have an idea of some sort
in the back of his head regarding it; a dim, unformed, fugitive sort of
idea which had never asserted itself very prominently because he had
been too busy to listen to its rather timid voice.

Just now, however, the idea suddenly struggled to make itself loudly
known, whereupon Sam bade it come forth.  Given hearing it proved to be
a very pleasant idea, and a forceful one as well; so much so that it
even checked the speed with which Sam had set out for Hollis Creek.  He
looked calculatingly across the road to where the little stream went
flashing from under its wooden bridge across the field and hid around a
curve behind some bushes, then reappeared, dancing in the sunlight,
until finally it plunged among some far trees and was lost to him.  He
gazed up the stream.  He had not very far to look, for there it ran
down between two quite steep hills, through a sort of pocket valley,
closed or almost closed, at the upper end, by another hill equally
steep, its waters being augmented by a leaping little stream from a
strong spring hidden away somewhere in the hill to the left.

As his eyes calculatingly swept stream and hills, they suddenly caught
a flutter of white through the trees, and it was coming down the
winding path which led across the hills to Hollis Creek.  As it emerged
more from the concealment of the leaves his blood gave a leap, for the
flutter of white was a gown inclosing the unmistakable figure of Miss
Josephine Stevens.  The whole valley suddenly seemed radiant.

"Hello!" he called to her as she approached.  "I didn't expect to find
you here."

"I did not expect to be here," she laughed.  "I just started out for a
stroll and happened to land in this beautiful spot."

"Beautiful is no name for it," he replied with sudden vast enthusiasm,
and ran up the path to help her down over a steep place.

For a moment, in the wonderful mystery of the touch of her hand and the
joy of her presence, he forgot everything else.  What was this strange
phenomenon, by which the mere presence of one particular person filled
all the air with a tingling glow?  Marvelous, that's what it was!  If
Miss Josephine had any of the same wonder she was extremely careful not
to express it, nor let it show, especially after yesterday's
conversation, so she immediately talked of other things; and the first
thing which came handy was another reference to the beautiful valley.

"You know, it is a wonder to me," she said, "that no one has built a
summer resort here.  I think it ever so much more charming than either
Hollis Creek or Meadow Brook."

"Do you believe in telepathy?" asked Sam, almost startled.  "I do.  It
hasn't been but a few minutes since that identical idea popped into my
head, and I had just now decided that if I could secure options on this
property I would have a real summer resort here--one that would make
Hollis Creek and Meadow Brook mere farm boarding-houses.  Do you see
how close together these hills draw at their feet?  The hollow is at
least a thousand feet across at the widest part, but down there at the
road, where the stream emerges to the fields, they close in with
natural buttresses, as it were, to not over a hundred feet in width.
Well, right across there we'll build a dam, and there is enough water
here to make a beautiful lake up as high as that yellow rock."

Miss Josephine looked up at the yellow rock and clasped her hands with
an exclamation of delight.

"Glorious!" she said.  "I never would have thought of that; and how
beautiful it will be!  Why, if the lake comes up that high it will go
clear back around that turn in the valley, won't it?"

"Easily," he replied; "although that might make us trouble, for I don't
know where that turn in the valley leads.  I have never explored that
region.  Suppose we go up and look it over."

"Won't that be fun?" she agreed, and they started to follow the stream.

As they reached the rear of the "pocket," where they could see around
the curve, they turned and looked back over the route they had just
traversed.

"My idea," Sam explained, having waited until they reached this
viewpoint to do so, "is to build the dam down there at the roadside,
and build the hotel right over it so that arriving guests will, after
an elevator has brought them up to the height of the main floor, find
the blue of the lake suddenly bursting upon them from the main piazza,
which will face the valley.  All of the inside rooms will, of course,
have hanging balconies looking out over the water."

"Perfectly ideal!" she agreed, her enthusiasm growing.

"I think I'd better investigate the curve of the valley," he decided,
studying the path carefully.  "It seems rather rough for you, and I'll
go alone.  All I want to see is how far the water height will carry
around there, and if it will become necessary to build a dam at the
other end."

"Oh, it isn't too rough for me," she declared immediately.  "I am an
excellent climber," and together they started to explore the now
narrowing valley, following the stream over steep rocks and fallen
trees, and pushing through tangled undergrowth and among briers and
bushes and around slippery banks until they came to another tortuous
turn, where a second spring, welling up from under a flat, overhanging
rock, tumbled down to augment the supply for the future lake; and here
they stopped and had a drink of the cool, delicious water, Sam making
the girl a cup from a huge leaf which she said made the water taste
fuzzy, and then showing her how to get down on her hands and
knees--spreading his coat on the ground to protect her gown--and drink
_au naturel_, a trick at which she was most charming, and probably knew
it.

The valley here had grown most narrow, but they followed the now very
small stream around one sharp curve after another until they found its
source, which was still another spring, and here there was no more
valley; but a cleft in the hill to the right, which they suddenly came
upon, gave them an exquisite view out over the beautiful low-lying
country, miles in extent, which lay between this and the next range of
hills; a delightful vista dotted with green farms and white farm-houses
and smiling streams and waving trees and grazing cattle.  They stopped
in awe at the beauty of it and looked out over the valley in silence;
and unconsciously the girl slipped her hand within the arm of the man!

"Just imagine a sunset out over there," he said.  "You see those fleecy
clouds that are out there now.  If clouds like those are still there
when the sun goes down, they will be a fleet of pearl-gray vessels,
with carmine keels, upon a sea of gold."

She glanced at him quickly, but she did not express her marvel that
this man had so many sides.  Before she could comment, and while she
was still framing some way to express her appreciation of his gentler
gifts, he returned briskly to practical things.

"Our lake will scarcely come up to this point," he judged.  "I don't
think that at any point it will be high enough to cover the springs.
We don't want it to if we can help it, for that would destroy some of
the beauty of it.  Have you noticed that our lake will be much like a
kite in shape, with this winding ravine the tail of it.  We'll have to
take in a lot of acreage to cover this property, but it will be worth
it.  I'm going to look after options right away.  I'm glad now I had
already decided to stay another two weeks."

Of course she was still angry with Sam, she reminded herself, but she
was inexpressibly glad, somehow or other, to find that he was intending
to stay two weeks longer, and was startled as she recognized that fact.

"It will take a lot of money, won't it, to build a hotel here?" she
asked, getting away from certain troublesome thoughts as quickly as she
could.

"Yes, it will take a great deal," he admitted, as they turned to
scramble down the ravine again.  "I should judge, however, that about
two hundred and fifty thousand dollars would finance it."

"But I thought, from something father once said, that you did not have
so much money as that?"

"Bless you, no!" replied Sam, smiling.  "No indeed!  I've enough to
cover an option on this property and that's about all, now, since I'm
tangled up so deeply with my Pulp Company, but I figure that I can make
a quick turn on this property to help me out on the other thing.  What
I'll do," he explained, "is to get this option first of all, and then
have some plans drawn, including a nice perspective view of the
hotel--a water-color sketch, you know, showing the building fronting
the lake--and upon that build a prospectus to get up the stock company.
I'll take stock for my control of the land and for my services in
promotion.  Then I'll sell my stock and get out.  I ought to make the
turn in two or three months and come out fifteen, or possibly twenty or
twenty-five thousand dollars to the good.  It is a nice, big scheme."

"Oh," she said blankly, "then you wouldn't actually build a hotel
yourself?"

"Hardly," he returned.  "I'll be content to make the profit out of
promoting it that I'd make in the first four or five years of running
the place."

"I see," she said musingly; "and you'd get this up just like you formed
your Marsh Pulp Company, I think father called it, and of course you'd
try to get--what is it?--oh, yes; control."

He smiled at her.

"I'd scarcely look for that in this deal," he explained.  "If I can
just get a nice slice of promotion stock and sell it I shall be quite
well satisfied."

She bent puzzled brows over this new problem.

"I don't quite understand how you can do it," she confessed, "but of
course you know how.  You're used to these things.  Father says you're
very good at promoting."

"That's the way I've made all my money, or rather what little I have,"
he told her, modestly enough.  "I expect this Pulp Company, however, to
lift me out of that, for a few years at least; then when I come back
into the promoting field I can go after things on a big scale.  The
Pulp Company ought to make me a lot of money if I can just keep it in
my own hands," and involuntarily he sighed.

She looked at him musingly for a moment, and was about to say
something, but thought better of it and said something else.

"The tail of your kite will be almost a perfect letter 'S'," she
observed.  "How beautiful it will be; the big, broad lake out there in
the main valley, and then the nice, little, secluded, twisty waterway
back in through here; a regular lover's lane of a waterway, as it were.
I don't suppose these springs have any names.  They must be named,
and--why, we haven't even named the lake!"

"Yes, we have," he quickly returned.  "I'm going to call it Lake
Josephine."

"You haven't asked my permission for that," she objected with mock
severity.

"There are plenty of Josephines in the world," he calmly observed.
"Nobody has a copyright on the name, you know."

She smiled, as one sure of her ground.

"Yes, but you wouldn't call it that, if I were to object seriously."

"No, I guess I wouldn't," he gave up; "but you're not going to object
seriously, are you?"

"I'll think it over," she said.

They were now making their way along a bank that was too difficult of
travel to allow much conversation, though it did allow some delicious
helping, but when they came out into the main valley where they could
again look down on the road, they paused to survey the course over
which they had just come, and to appreciate to the full the beauty of
Sam's plan.

"I don't believe I quite like your idea of the hotel built down there
at the roadside," she objected as they sat on a huge boulder to rest.
"It cuts off the view of the lake from passers-by, and I should think
it would be the best advertisement you could have for everybody who
drove past there to say: 'Oh, what a pretty place!'  Now I should think
that right about here where we are sitting would be the proper location
for your hotel.  Just think how the lake and the building would look
from the road.  Right here would be a broad porch jutting out over the
water, giving a view down that first bend of the kite tail, and back of
the hotel would be this big hill and all the trees, and hills and trees
would spread out each side of it, sort of open armed, as it were,
welcoming people in."

"It couldn't be seen, though," objected Sam.  "The dam down there would
necessarily be about thirty feet high at the center, and people driving
along the roadway would not be able to see the water at all.  They
would only see the blank wall of the dam.  Of course we could soften
that by building the dam back a few feet from the roadway, making an
embankment and covering that with turf, or possibly shrubbery or
flowers, but still the water would not be visible, nor the hotel!"

"I see," she said slowly.

They both studied that objection in silence for quite a little while.
Then she suddenly and excitedly ejaculated:

"_Sam_!"

He jumped, and he thrilled all through.  She had called him Sam
entirely unconsciously, which showed that she had been thinking of him
by that familiar name.  With the exclamation had come sparkling eyes
and heightened color, not due to having used the word, but due to a
bright thought, and he almost lost his sense of logic in considering
the delightful combination.  It occurred to him, however, that it would
be very unwise for him to call attention to her slip of the tongue, or
even to give her time to think and recognize it herself.

"Another idea?" he asked.

"Indeed yes," she asserted, "and this time I know it's feasible.  I
don't know much about measurements in feet and inches, but there are
three feet in a yard."

"Yes."

"Well, doesn't the road down there, from hill to hill, dip about ten
yards?"

"Yes."

"Well then, that's thirty feet, just as high as you say the dam will
have to be.  Why not raise the road itself thirty feet, letting it be
level and just as high as your dam?"

Sam rose and solemnly shook hands with her.

"You must come into the firm," he declared.  "That solves the entire
problem.  We'll run a culvert underneath there to the fields.  The road
will reinforce the dam and the edge of the dam will be entirely
concealed.  It will be merely a retaining wall with a nice stone
coping, which will be repeated on the field side.  There will be no
objection from the county commissioners, because we shall improve the
road by taking two steep hills out of it.  Your plan is much better
than mine.  I can see myself, for instance, driving along that road on
my way to Hollis Creek from Restview, looking over that beautiful
little lake to the hotel beyond, and saying to myself: 'Well, next
summer I won't stop at Hollis Creek.  I'll stop at Lake Jo.'"

"I thought it was to be Lake Josephine," she interposed.

"I thought so too," he agreed, "but Lake Jo just slipped out.  It seems
so much better.  Lake Jo!  That would look fine on a prospectus."

"You'd print the cover of it in blue and gold, I suppose, wouldn't you?"

"There would need to be a splash of brown-red in it," he reminded her,
considering color schemes for a moment.  "The roof of the hotel would,
of course, be red tile.  We'd build it fireproof.  There is plenty of
gray stone around here, and we'd build it of native rock."

"And then," she went on, in the full swing of their idea, "think of the
beautiful walks and climbs you could have among these hills; and the
driveway!  Your approach to the hotel would come around the dam and up
that hill, would wind up through those trees and rocks, and right here
at the bend of the ravine it would cross the thick part of the kite
tail to the hotel on a quaint rustic bridge; and as people arrived and
departed you'd hear the clatter of the horses' hoofs."

"Great!" he exclaimed, catching her enthusiasm and with it augmenting
his own, "and guests leaving would first wave good-by at the
porte-cochère just about where we are sitting.  They'd clatter across
the bridge, with their friends on the porch still fluttering
handkerchiefs after them; they'd disappear into the trees over yonder
and around through that cleft in the rocks.  And see; on the other side
of the cleft there is a little tableland which juts out, and the road
would wind over that, where carriages would once more be seen from the
hotel porch.  Then they'd twist in through the trees again down the
winding driveway, and once more, for the very last glimpse, come into
view as they went across our new road in front of the lake; and there
the last flutter of handkerchiefs would be seen.  You know it's silly
to stand and wave your friends out of sight for a long distance when
they're always in view, but if the view is interrupted two or three
times it relieves the monotony."



CHAPTER XVIII

SAM TURNER ACQUIRES A BUSINESS PARTNER

They followed the stream down to the road, at every step gaging with
the eye the height of the lake and judging the altered scenic view from
the level of the water.  There would be room for dozens and dozens of
boats upon that surface without interference.  Sam calculated that from
the upper spring there would be headway enough to run a small fountain
in the center, surrounded by a pond-lily bed which would be kept in
place by a stone curbing.  In the hill to the right there was a deep
indenture.  Back in there would go the bathing pavilions.  They even
went up to look at it, and were delighted to find a natural, shallow
bowl.  By cementing the floor of that bowl they could have a splendid
swimming-pool for timid bathers, where they could not go beyond their
depth; and it was entirely surrounded by a thick screen of shrubbery.
Oh, it was delightful; it was perfect!  At the road they looked back up
over the valley again.  It was no longer a valley.  It was a lake.
They could see the water there.  Sam drew from his pocket a pencil and
an envelope.

"The hotel will have to be long and tall," he observed, "for there will
not be much room on that ledge, from front to back.  The building will
stretch out quite a ways.  Three or four hundred feet long it will be,
and about five stories in height," and taking a letter from the
envelope, he sat down upon a fallen log and began rapidly to sketch.

He drew the hotel with wide-spreading Spanish roofs and balconies, and
a wide porch with rippling water in front of it, and rowboats and
people in them; and behind the hotel rose the broken sky-line of the
hills and the trees, with an indication of fleecy clouds above.  It was
just a light sketch, a sort of shorthand picture, as it were, and yet
it seemed full of sunlight and of atmosphere.

"I hadn't any idea you could draw like that," she exclaimed in
admiration.

"I do a little of everything, I think, but nothing perfectly," he
admitted with some regret.

"It seems to me you do everything excellently," she objected quite
seriously; and she was, in fact, deeply impressed.

He walked over to the stream, a trifle confused, but not displeased, by
any means, by the earnestness of her compliment.

"I must have the water analyzed to see if it has any medicinal virtue,"
he said.  "The spring out of which we drank has a sweetish-like taste,
but the water here--" and he caught up some of it in his hand and
tasted it, "seems to be slightly salt."

He had left her sitting on the log with the sketch in her lap.  Now the
sketch fluttered to the ground and the letter turned over, right side
up.  It was a letter which Sam had written to his brother Jack and had
not mailed because he had suddenly decided to come down to the scene of
action.  As she stooped over to pick it up her eyes caught the
sentence: "I love her, Jack, more than I can tell you, more than I can
tell anybody, more than I can tell myself.  It's the most important,
the most stupendous thing--"  She hastily turned that letter over and
was very careful to have it lying upon her lap, back upward, exactly as
he had left it there, and when he came back she was very, very careful
indeed to hand it nonchalantly over to him, with the sketch uppermost.

"Of course," he said, looking around him comprehensively, "this is only
a day-dream, so far.  It may be impossible to realize it."

"Why?" she asked, instantly concerned.  "This project _must_ be carried
through!  It is already as good as completed.  It just must be done.  I
never before had a hand, even in a remote way, in planning a big thing,
and I couldn't bear not to see this done.  What is to prevent it?"

"I may not be able to get the land," returned Sam soberly.  "It is
probably owned by half a dozen people, and one or more of them is
certain to want exorbitant prices for it."

"It certainly can't be very valuable," she protested.  "It isn't fit
for anything, is it?"

"For nothing but the building of Lake Jo," he agreed.  "Right now it is
worthless, but the minute anybody found out I wanted it it would become
extremely valuable.  The only way to do would be to see everybody at
once and close the options before they could get to talking it over
among themselves."

"What time is it?" she demanded.

He looked at his watch.

"Ten-thirty," he said.

"Then let's go and see all these people right away," she urged, jumping
to her feet.

He smiled at her enthusiasm, but he was none loath to accept her
suggestion.

"All right," he agreed.  "I wish they had telephones here in the woods.
We'll simply have to walk over to Meadow Brook and get an auto."

"Come on," she said energetically, and they started out on the road.
They had not gone far, however, when young Tilloughby, with Miss
Westlake, overtook them in a trap.  He reined up, and Miss Westlake
greeted the pedestrians with frigid courtesy.  Jack Turner had
accidentally dropped her a hint.  Now that she had begun to appreciate
Mr. Tilloughby--Bob--at his true value, she wondered what she had ever
seen in Sam Turner--and she never had liked Josephine Stevens!

"Gug-gug-gug-glorious day, isn't it?" observed Tilloughby, his face
glowing with joy.

"Fine," agreed Sam with enthusiasm.  "There never was a more glorious
day in all the world.  You've just come along in time to save our
lives, Tilloughby.  Which way are you bound?"

"Wuw-wuw-wuw-we had intended to go around Bald Hill."

"Well, postpone that for a few minutes, won't you, Tilloughby, like a
good fellow?  Trot back to Meadow Brook and send an auto out here for
us.  Get Henry, by all means, to drive it."

"Wuw-wuw-wuw-with pleasure," replied Tilloughby, wondering at this
strange whim, but restraining his curiosity like a thoroughbred.
"Huh-huh-huh-Henry shall be back here for you in a jiffy," and he drove
off in a cloud of dust.

Miss Stevens surveyed the retiring trap in satisfaction.

"Good," she exclaimed.  "I already feel as though we were doing
something to save Lake Jo."

They walked back quite contentedly to the valley and surveyed it anew,
there resting now on both of them a sense of almost prideful
possession.  They discovered a high point on which a rustic observatory
could be built; they planned paths and trails; they found where the
water-line came just under an overhanging rock which would make a cave
large enough for three or four boats to scurry under out of the rain.
They found delightful surprises all along the bank of the future lake,
and Miss Stevens declared that when the dam was built and the lake
began to fill, she never intended to leave it except for meals, until
it was up to the level at which they would permit the overflow to be
opened.

Henry, returning with the automobile, found them far up in the valley
discussing a floating band pavilion, but they came down quickly enough
when they saw him, and scrambled into the tonneau with the haste of
small children.  Henry watched them take their places with smiling
affection.  He had not only had good tips but pleasant words from Sam,
and Miss Stevens was her own incentive to good wishes and good will.

"Henry," said Sam, "we want to drive around to see the people who own
this land."

"Oh, shucks," said Henry, disappointed.  "I can't drive you there.  The
man that owns all this land lives in New York."

"In New York!" repeated Sam in dismay.  "What would anybody in New York
want with this?"

"The fellow that bought it got it about ten years ago," Henry informed
them.  "He was going to build a big country house, back up there in the
hills, I understand, and raise deer to shoot at, and things like that;
got an architect to make him plans for house and stables and all
costing hundreds of thousands of dollars; but before he could break
ground on it him and his wife had a spat and got a divorce.  He tried
to sell the land back again to the people he bought it from, but they
wouldn't take it at any price.  They were glad to be shut of it and
none of his rich friends wanted to buy it after that, because, they
said, there were so many of those cheap summer resorts around here."

"I see," said Sam musingly.  "You don't happen to know the man's name,
do you?"

"Dickson, I think it was.  Henry Dickson.  I remember his first name
because it was the same as mine."

"Great!" exclaimed Sam, overjoyed.  "Why, I know Henry Dickson like a
book.  I've engineered several deals for him.  He's a mighty good
friend of mine too.  That simplifies matters.  Drive us right over to
Hollis Creek."

"To Hollis Creek!" she objected.  "I should think you'd drive to Meadow
Brook instead and dress for the trip.  Aren't you going to catch that
afternoon train and go right up there?"

"By no means.  This is Saturday, and by the time I'd get to New York he
couldn't be found anywhere; and anyhow, I wouldn't have time to deliver
you at Hollis Creek and make this next train."

"Don't mind about me," she urged.  "I could go to the train with you
and Henry could take me back to Hollis Creek."

"That's fine of you," returned Sam gratefully; "but it isn't the
program at all.  I happen to know that Dickson stays in his office
until one o'clock on Saturdays.  I'll get him by long distance."

They were quite silent in calculation on the way to Hollis Creek, and
Miss Josephine found herself pushing forward to help make the machine
go faster.  Breathlessly she followed Sam into the house, and he
obligingly left the door of the telephone booth ajar, so that she could
hear his conversation with Dickson.

"Hello, Dickson," said Sam, when he got his connection.  "This is Sam
Turner. . . .  Oh yes, fine.  Never better in my life. . . .  Up here
in Hamster County, taking a little vacation.  Say, Dickson, I
understand you own a thousand acres down here.  Do you want to sell it?
. . .  How much?"  As he received the answer to that question he turned
to Miss Josephine and winked, while an expression of profound joy,
albeit materialized into a grin, overspread his features.  "I won't
dicker with you on that price," he said into the telephone.  "But will
you take my note for it at six per cent.?"

He laughed aloud at the next reply.

"No, I don't want it to run that long.  The interest in a hundred years
would amount to too much; but I'll make it five years. . . .  All
right, Dickson, instruct your lawyer chap to make out the papers and
I'll be up Monday to close with you."

He hung up the receiver and turned to meet her glistening eyes fixed
upon him in ecstasy.  "It's better than all right," he assured her.  He
was more enthusiastic about this than he had ever been about any
business deal in his life, that is, more openly enthusiastic, for Miss
Josephine's enthusiasm was contagion itself.  He took her arm with a
swing, and they hurried into the writing-room, which was deserted for
the time being on account of the mail having just come in.  Sam placed
a chair for her and they sat down at the table.

"I want to figure a minute," said he.  "Now that I have actual
possession of the property, in place of a mere option, I can go at the
thing differently.  First of all, when I go up Monday I'll see my
engineer, and on Tuesday morning I'll bring him down here with me.
Then I shall secure permission from the county to alter that road and
we'll build the dam.  That will cost very little in comparison to the
whole improvement.  Then, and not till then, I'll get out my stock
prospectus, and I'll drive prospective investors down here to look at
Lake Jo.  I'll be almost in position to dictate terms."

"Isn't that fine!" she exclaimed.  "And then I suppose you can
secure--control," she ventured anxiously.

"Yes, I think I can if I want it," he assured her.

"I'm so glad," she said gravely.  "I'm so very glad."

"Really, though, I have a big notion to see if I can't finance the
entire project myself.  I'm quite sure I can get Dickson to give me a
clear deed to that land merely on my unsupported note.  If I can do
that I can erect all the buildings on progressive mortgages.  Roadways
and engineering work of course I'll have to pay for, and then I can
finance a subsidiary operating company to rent the plant from the
original company, and can retain stock in both of them.  I'll figure
that out both ways."

It was all Greek to her, this talk, but she knitted her brows in an
earnest effort to understand, and crowded close to him to look over the
figures he was putting down.  The touch of her arm against his own
threw out his calculations entirely.  He could not add a row of figures
to save his life.

"I'll go over the financial end of this later on," he said, but he did
not put away the paper.  He kept it there for them both to look at,
touching arms.

"All right," she agreed, "but you must let me see you do it.  Of course
I can't understand, but I do want to feel as if I were helping when it
is done."

"I won't take a step in it without consulting you or having you along,"
he promised.

At that moment the bugle sounded the first call for luncheon.

"You'll stay for luncheon," she invited.

"Certainly," he assured her.  "You couldn't drive me away."

"Very well, right after luncheon let's go out and look at the place
again.  It will look different now that it is--"  She caught herself.
She had almost said "now that it is ours."  "Now that it is secured,"
she finished.

After luncheon they drove back to the site of Lake Jo, and spent a
delirious while planning the things which were to be done to make that
spot an earthly Paradise.  Never was a couple so prolific of ideas as
they were that afternoon.  With 'Ennery waiting down in the road they
tramped all over the hills again, standing first on one spot and then
another to survey the alluring prospect, and to plan wonderful new and
attractive features of which no previous summer resort builder had ever
even dared to dream.

During the afternoon not one word passed between them which might be
construed to be of an intimately personal nature, but as they drove to
Hollis Creek, tired but happy, Sam somehow or other felt that he had
made quite a bit of progress, and was correspondingly elated.  Leaving
Miss Stevens on the porch he hurried home to dress for dinner, for it
was growing late, but immediately after dinner he drove over again.
When he arrived Miss Josephine was in the seldom used parlor with her
father.

"I haven't seen you since breakfast," Mr. Stevens had said, pinching
her cheek, "Hollis and Billy Westlake have been looking for you
everywhere."

"Oh, they," she returned with kindly contempt.  "I'm glad I didn't see
them.  They're nice boys enough, but father, I don't believe that
either one of them will ever become clever business men!"

"No?" he replied, highly amused.  "Well, I don't think they will
either.  Business is a shade too big a game for them.  But where have
you been?"

"Out on business with S-s-s--with Mr. Turner," she replied demurely.
"I came in late for lunch, and you had already finished and gone.  Then
we went right back out again.  Father, we have found the dearest, the
most delightful, the most charming business opportunity you ever saw.
You must go out with us to-morrow and look at it.  Sam's going to build
a lake and call it Lake Jo.  You know where that little stream is
between here and Meadow Brook?  Well, that's the place.  We found out
this morning what a delightful spot it would make for a lake and a big
summer resort hotel, and at noon Sam bought the property, and we have
been planning it all afternoon.  He's bought it outright and he's going
to capitalize it for a quarter of a million dollars.  How much stock
are you going to take in it?"

"How much what?"

"How many shares of stock are you going to take in it?  You must speak
up quickly, because it's going to be a favor to you for us to let you
in."

"Well, I don't know," said Mr. Stevens, resisting a sudden desire to
guffaw.  "I'd have to look it over first before I decide to invest.
Sounds like a sort of wild-eyed scheme to me.  Besides that, I already
have a good big block of stock in one of Sam Turner's enterprises."

"Oh, yes," she said, puckering her brows.  "Are you going to vote your
pulp stock with his?"

Mr. Stevens' eyes twinkled, but his tone was conservative gravity
itself.

"Well, since it's a purely business deal it would not be a very wise
thing to do; and though Sam Turner is a mighty fine boy, I don't think
I shall."

"But you will!" she vigorously protested.  "Why, father, you wouldn't
for a minute vote against your own son-in-law!"

"No, I wouldn't!" declared Mr. Stevens emphatically, and suddenly drew
her to him and kissed her; and she clung about his neck half laughing
and half crying.

Do you suppose there is anything in telepathy?  It would seem so, for
it was at this moment that Sam stepped up on the porch.  They in the
parlor heard his voice, and Mr. Stevens immediately slipped out the
back way in order not to be _de trop_ a second time.  Now Sam could not
possibly have known what had been said in the parlor, and yet when he
found his way in there, he and Miss Josephine, without any palaver
about it, without exchanging a solitary word, or scarcely even a look,
just naturally fell into each other's arms.  Neither one of them made
the first move.  It just somehow happened, and they stood there and
held and held and held that embrace; and whatever foolishness they said
and did in the next hour is none of your business nor of mine; but
later in the evening, when they were sitting quietly in the darkest
corner of the porch, and Sam had his hand on the arm of her chair with
her elbows resting upon his fingers--it didn't matter, you know, where
he touched her, just so he did--she turned to him with thoughtful
earnestness in her voice.

"Sam," she said, and this time she used his first name quite
consciously and was glad it was dark so that he could not see her trace
of shyness, "I wish you would explain to me just what you mean by
control in a stock company."

Sam Turner moved his fingers from under her elbow and caught her hand,
which he firmly clasped before he began.

"Well, Jo, it's just this way," he said, and then, quite comfortably,
he explained to her all about it.



THE END





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