Carfew is Advised
CARFEW IS ADVISED.
By EDGAR WALLACE.
CARFEW was young and he was rich.
That is to say, he had more money than he had ever had before, and any man who has more money than he ever had before is rich, whether the sum be five pounds or fifty thousand pounds.
Carfew had a little office in the City. He had no business, but he had an office.
Carfew once made money—not much, from the point of view of Lord Kullug, but, oh, so much from Carfew's standpoint!
He increased that little fortune of his, and learnt something that was worth learning at the same time and in quite an unexpected manner.
Carfew, who was spending a holiday in the country, saved the life of Lord Kullug's daughter.
This is romantic, and I am very sorry, but it couldn't be helped. Lord Kullug's daughter was punting in the little river which runs through the home park, and Carfew, sitting on the bank, with his back to a board which informed him that "Trespassers will be shot by order," or words to that effect, was idly watching her.
She was a slim, pretty girl, but not Carfew's kind. So he was telling himself when her punt came abreast of him, and she stopped poling to eye him severely.
"I say," she said, "what are you doing in our park?"
He rose and took off his hat.
"I beg your pardon?" he said.
"What are you doing in our park? This is private land."
"I was sitting down," said Carfew.
"But you mustn't sit down in our park," said the girl petulantly. "My papa is Lord Kullug, and you will be prosecuted."
"It seems a very inadequate reason," said Carfew very calmly.
"You are not an artist, are you?" she asked suddenly. "My papa does not allow artists in our park."
"I am not an artist," said Carfew impressively—"I am a gentleman."
He thought she looked dubiously at him, and was nettled.
"You ought to go away," she said; "we don't want strangers in our park."
Carfew sighed wearily.
"Can't you think of something else to say?" he asked. "This 'our park-ing' of yours is getting on my nerves. I never turn people out of my park."
She was ready to be annoyed with him, but curiosity and interest got the better of her.
"Have you got a park?" she asked.
"Yes," said Carfew carelessly, "I have several—Regent's Park, Hyde Park, Battersea Park——"
The girl uttered an exclamation of annoyance, stooped to pick up her pole, overbalanced, and fell into the stream.
She gave a little scream, but picked herself up and began to wade ashore.
"Isn't it any deeper than that?" asked Carfew from the bank.
"Go away, you wretched man!" she snapped.
"Because," said Carfew, "if it isn't, I'm coming in to rescue you."
And, with no more ado, he stepped boldly into the water.
It was by no means a simple task, the rescue of Lord Kullug's daughter, for the bottom of the stream was full of little holes and pitfalls, and she was glad to have the assistance of this blatant young man.
Twice he made a false step, and went up to his neck in water, and when at length he reached the bank, he was pardonably indignant.
"You told me it wasn't deep," he said reproachfully. "I might have lost my life. Really, for a person who owns a park, you are very inconsiderate."
"If you hadn't bothered me, I shouldn't have fallen in," she said, and she was very angry.
"If I hadn't been here when you had fallen in," he replied gravely, "I shudder to think what might have happened to you."
All the way to the big house he talked to her, telling her of the danger she had escaped, describing similar accidents which had occurred to friends of his—they were all people of eminent position, and most of them were great public characters—until the girl began to believe that she had indeed escaped deadly peril, and that she had figured in the adventure of her life. He praised her coolness in the moment of danger, and compared it with the panic into which Lady Bagford fell when she was thrown into the sea off Cowes from Carfew's yacht.
"She gave me twenty times the trouble you gave me," said Carfew reminiscently, "and I assure you there was no more danger than if she had fallen into my private swimming bath at Blenheim House."
Carfew was a good talker, and in the half-mile walk he brought about a revolution in the girl's opinion of him and his conduct. In the end, she forgot that he was a trespasser, and that his outrageous conduct had provoked the accident. If she did not forget, she certainly did not tell her father.
Carfew was taken to a room, clothing of approximate fit was found for him, and he was invited to stay to dinner.
"I cannot tell you how greatly obliged to you I am," said Lord Kullug.
He was a tall, gaunt man, hard-featured, and with an eye which chilled. Carfew, having carried matters so far, wisely declined the invitation to dinner.
"Come and see me in the City one day, and lunch with me," said his lordship. "All that you tell me about my daughter's—er—courage, is very pleasing to me. She comes of—er—a good stock."
Carfew smiled sympathetically.
"That I know," he said.
He knew the Kullugs to be what they were. Old George Kullug had been a storekeeper in Kimberley in the early days of the diamond fields. He had made money and had evaded the law. He left two millions to his middle-aged son, who had added considerably to his inheritance.
Carfew went back to London elated, for this adventure was one after his own heart. He was a rescue specialist. Once, on the Thames Embankment, he had rescued from death an elderly colonel of Engineers—at least, he had told him to "look out" at the approach of a taxicab—and that colonel of Engineers had laid the foundation of Carfew's fortune.
He went back to Blenheim House—which is situated in Bloomsbury Square, and for the use of one room in which lordly establishment he paid twenty shillings a week—whistling a little tune. He was still whistling when he turned on the tap of his private swimming bath, to the intense annoyance of the medical student who occupied the chamber next to the bathroom.
Three days later Carfew presented himself at 843, Lombard Street, which is the London office of the Manhattan Deeps, Manhattan Deeps being a most prosperous Johannesburg gold mine, of which Lord Kullug was chairman and board of directors.
Carfew had looked up the concern in "The Stock Exchange Year-Book," and had duly noted that the directors' fees were one thousand pounds per annum.
"He'll probably make me a director," he thought, "and give me the necessary stock to qualify."
There were other and kindred concerns—the Weits Consolidated Goldfields, Limited, the Licker Deeps, Limited, the Turfootein Associated Claims, Limited, the Johannesburg District Lands Syndicate, Limited—all having offices under the same roof, and Carfew, working out possibilities with the aid of a pencil and the "Year-Book" aforesaid, computed the maximum benefits which might accrue to him as being in the neighbourhood of five thousand pounds a year.
"Not bad," said Carfew complacently, and wrote a little note to Lord Kullug, telling him he would call.
Lord Kullug's secretary replied that he regretted his lordship would be out of town on Tuesday, and would Thursday suit Mr. Canfam? Which annoyed the young man very much, because his name was not Canfam, though, as he signed it, it looked very much like it.
He sat down and wrote to the secretary in reply—
"Dear Sir,—I am directed by Mr. Felix Carfew to thank you for your letter of even date. In reply, Mr. Carfew asks me to say that though he was leaving town for his country place at Harrogate on Thursday, he will put off his journey till the following day, and will be pleased to call on Lord Kullug at the hour named."
He signed the letter "Adolphus Brown," and dispatched it with the comforting sense of having held up his end.
Punctually to the minute he arrived at the Lombard Street office. He would have come in a hired electric brougham, but, having surveyed the office on the evening previous, he decided that it was very unlikely that Lord Kullug's private office would be in the front of the building, and less likely that his lordship would witness his arrival, even if the office were so situated, for, as Carfew knew, millionaires did not spend their days looking out of windows.
He was ushered to a reception-room, and, after a reasonable period of waiting, a uniformed attendant led him along a carpeted corridor, tapped respectfully on a rosewood door, and showed the young man into a room which contained a map, a square of carpet, a big desk, an easy-chair, and Lord Kullug.
The millionaire removed his glasses and nodded to Carfew.
"Sit down, Mr.—er——"
Carfew refused to help him.
"Mr. Carfew, eh? Well, I'm sorry I could not see you before."
He looked at his watch.
"A little too early for lunch. Now, just tell me something about yourself. I am under an obligation to you, and I should like to be of some service to you."
This was the kind of talk Carfew wanted to hear. And he told Lord Kullug something about himself.
He related things and hinted at others.
He inferred that he—Carfew—was the type of man no great corporation could afford to be without. He suggested that the one idea that obsessed the important City houses was to secure his services on the board of directors. He spoke airily of contracts he had secured, concessions he had obtained.
"Let's go to lunch," said Lord Kullug.
They drove in his car to the Savoy.
Carfew pointed out, in a subtle way, the enormous advantage of youth. He hinted that he could influence the Press to an extraordinary degree, but had never yet had occasion to do so. He admitted that he held no directorships, because he had fought shy of anything but the best companies, besides which he did not care for industrial concerns.
"Here we are," said his lordship.
A table had been reserved for them, and when the choice of the wine had been made, Carfew continued.
"I'm rather at a loose end just now," he confessed. "A young man with money, energy, and initiative, who achieves some distinction in a quiet way, is inclined to let himself go to rust, if opportunity does not offer itself. As I was saying to the German Ambassador some time ago—we were travelling together——"
(The conversation in question took place when Carfew, a very young and confident reporter, forced his way into his Excellency's state cabin and bullied him into giving an interview.)
Of course, Carfew explained, he did not wish to take advantage of so small a service as saving his lordship's daughter. After all, there was very little danger to himself, he added modestly, though at one time he had thought it was all over.
Carfew talked and talked, and the more readily he talked, the more readily did his host accept the position of audience.
He interrupted Carfew once to ask him what capital he had. Carfew said he had exactly fifty per cent. more than he possessed.
At the end of the lunch Lord Kullug found an opportunity.
"You're an interesting young man," he said, "and you should go far. I can help you."
Carfew murmured his appreciation.
"I have a considerable experience of the world," his lordship went on, "especially of the financial world, and I can put you in the way of a fortune."
"That," said Carfew with dignity, "is the road I am looking for."
"I could, of course," Kullug continued, "give you a directorship, but I haven't one to spare."
Carfew's hopes fell from 100° Fahr. to the place where you mustn't shake the mercury for fear it breaks.
"I give you instead"—he paused, and Carfew's hopes took the elevator to the fourth floor—"a little good advice."
The elevator rope broke, and Carfew found himself in the basement, alive but dazed.
This precious advice was not forthcoming until Carfew and the millionaire were outside the building, and the door of the luxurious automobile had been opened for the peer to enter.
"You can make a fortune," said his lordship, "if you let the other fellow do the talking. Good afternoon."
Ten minutes later Carfew was walking slowly in the direction of Bloomsbury, repeating the formula at every few steps.
He went to his room, removed his shoes, divested himself of his splendid raiment, and lay on the bed, thinking very hard. He went down to dinner in the same subdued mood.
At the end of the meal he leant across the table and said to the young medical student who sat vis-à-vis—
"Do you want to make a fortune?"
The student growled wicked words at him.
"But do you?" persisted Carfew.
"Of course I do," said the other.
"Well," said Carfew, drawing a long breath, "let the other fellow do the talking. Good evening."
He went to bed that night to some extent mollified. He was not easily snubbed. People who boasted that they had snubbed Carfew were either untruthful or mistaken. But he had been snubbed, and it had been done with a thoroughness which left him no conceit.
He came down to breakfast next morning still digesting his lesson. There was a letter on his table, and the flap bore a crest.
"A rabbit rampant eating a carrot couchant," said Carfew disrespectfully. "I wonder if it is from——".
It was, and written in Lord Kullug's own hand. Would Carfew call at eleven?
Carfew called, and Lord Kullug rose to meet him.
"I sent for you, Carfew," he said, with a grim little smile, "because I am afraid I did not make it clear to you that I know exactly what part you played in the rescue of my daughter."
Carfew said nothing. He shrugged his shoulders in self-deprecation.
"And I rather admired your audacity," his lordship went on. "Moreover, in the advice I have given you, I think you were more than repaid for the ducking you got. But there is one thing I did not ask you, and which I feel sure that you will not mind telling me. Exactly why did you seek an introduction to me?"
Carfew smiled, and the millionaire's lips twitched responsively. Carfew did not tell him that, in trespassing in the home park, he had no more idea that it was the property of Lord Kullug than he had that Lord Kullug was anything but a name.
"Look here, Carfew"—his lordship swung himself round in his chair and faced the young man—"we are both business men. Let us put our cards on the table. I think you will find it worth your while."
"Perhaps that would be wise," said Carfew, after a little pause.
"D'ye know," continued the elder man, "it never occurred to me till I was on my way home last night. I was chuckling over the snubbing I had given you, and, if you will pardon me, your discomfiture. I thought—you'll forgive the plain speaking—that you were a bumptious youth, pushful, arrogant, and a little—er—boastful."
Carfew smiled again and shook his head, a little reproachful, a little amused.
"Yes—yes, but let me finish," continued the millionaire. "I was thinking this when the thought occurred to me—have Sieglemanns sent him?"
As he said this, he leant forward and scrutinised the young man closely.
Carfew dropped his eyes for a moment
"H'm!" he said.
"Sieglemanns did send you!" exclaimed his lordship. "They sent you to find out about the Turkish loan."
He burst into a fit of laughter and leant back in his chair.
"And I saw through it," he said at last. Then, banteringly: "Well, Mr. Carfew, what did you discover? Are we going to float it? What shall we issue it at? And what do we get out of it?"
He gazed at Carfew with amusement and with the air of benevolence which is peculiar to the don who propounds a problem to which he only can offer a solution.
Carfew was silent. Then he rose.
"I am afraid it will not interest you, Lord Kullug," he said, "to learn what I have discovered."
A look of alarm came into the other man's eyes.
"What have you discovered?" he asked sharply.
Carfew shrugged his shoulders.
"Nothing," he said, and smiled meaningly.
He took his departure, leaving his lordship in some perturbation of mind.
In the street Carfew bought an evening paper, but failed to discover any reference to the new Turkish loan. He went to the nearest Tube bookstall and purchased all the current financial journals, and studied them on his way back to Bloomsbury.
Only one had any reference to the matter.
"The uncertainty regarding the issue of the new Turkish loan," it said, "is affecting the tone of the Paris Bourse. A rumour is gaining currency that the French houses will not be invited to issue, and that it will be placed in the hands of one of the big London houses. Paris is without definite information on the subject, and, until there is an official declaration, French investors naturally display reluctance in reinvesting."
"Oh!" said Carfew.
He had only the vaguest idea as ¦to what it was all about, or exactly in what manner so ridiculously a minor point as the country in which a Turkish loan would be issued could affect the peace and happiness of Lord Kullug.
He found a wire waiting for him at Blenheim House—
"Call and see me at five o'clock, 104, Berkeley Square.—Kullug."
He presented himself at the house five minutes late.
He could have been there a quarter of an hour before the appointed time, but he thought better to arrive after the hour.
Lord Kullug, pricing the polished floor of his library, was a little impatient.
"You ought to keep your appointments to the minute, young man," he said. "Sit down. Will you have a cup of tea?"
Carfew shook his head.
"I have just come from the Ritz," he said simply.
"Seen Sieglemann?" demanded the other sharply.
"No," he said truthfully, "I have seen nobody but my doctor."
He had bumped into the medical student in the hall of Blenheim House, and, remembering the unpleasant things young Æsculapius had said, Carfew's description was a very kindly one.
"Now," said his lordship, "I want to know definitely what you have discovered."
"Nothing," said Carfew firmly.
"Did my foolish daughter say anything to you?"
Carfew shook his head. His lips were tight pressed as though to guard against an unwitting admission.
"I know no more than"—he paused, weighing his words—"than the Bourse suspects."
It was very bold of Carfew, and he was in a momentary panic lest he had said too much.
"Indeed?" said the millionaire grimly. "You know that, do you? I was right—I was right!" he muttered, and shook his head threateningly.
"When did you find out?"
"I know nothing more," he said slowly, "than I knew after lunch yesterday."
"After lunch yesterday?" repeated the other. "After you lunched with me, you mean?"
"Exactly," said Carfew.
They eyed each other as the matador and the bull eye one another before the final coup.
"But I said very little," protested his lordship, speaking half to himself; "you did all the talking."
Carfew did not speak then.
"When do you make your report to Sieglemanns?" demanded Kullug.
"I may not make it," responded Carfew.
The millionaire sat nibbling the end of an ivory paper-knife.
"I can pay, and pay well, for information," he said at last. "If you know anything worth knowing, you can sell your report to me."
Carfew again hesitated, but the millionaire opened his desk, and, taking out a cheque-book, wrote with some deliberation therein. He tore out the slip and handed it to the other.
"I have made it payable to bearer," he said.
Carfew took the form, placed it in his pocket, without haste took up his hat.
"The report?" asked his lordship.
"I have forgotten—everything," he said.
Lord Kullug nodded.
"That is right—you will go far, my friend. And remember," he said, as they shook hands before parting, "the little piece of advice I gave you at the Savoy was meant in earnest. Let the other fellow do the talking."
"I shall never forget that," said Carfew with some emotion.