Dick Hamilton's Fortune/8
DICK AND THE REPORTER
For a few moments after the surprising announcement, no one spoke. The boys and Colonel Dendon stared at the newcomer. The colonel was the first to recover himself.
"What is the meaning of this unwarranted intrusion?" he demanded, in pompous tones. "These young gentlemen and myself were discussing some financial matters when you interrupt us. You have doubtless made a mistake, and I will overlook it this time. Withdraw at once, sir, or I shall have to call the servants and have you thrown out of these private apartments, sir!"
"Better go easy," suggested the quiet-looking man, with just the suggestion of a smile. "If there's any throwing out to be done I reckon I'll take a hand in it."
"What do you mean, sir? Leave the room at once!" exclaimed the colonel, getting red in the face.
"I mean just this, William Jackson, alias Colonel Dendon, alias Bond Broker Bill!" said the man sharply, "that you must leave this hotel at once or I shall arrest you. You can't conduct any of your swindling games here—trying to sell fake stocks and bonds. I saw you come in, and learned that you were calling on this young man," and he nodded to Dick, who was much surprised at the proceeding. "I got up here in time to warn him, I see. I hope you haven't given him any money?" he asked of the millionaire's son.
"I—I was just going to—for some bonds he had."
"Lucky I came in," was the man's reply. "Now beat it, Bill," and he waved his hand toward the door. "Take your trash with you," he added, sweeping the bonds from the table.
Dick and the other boys, with the possible exception of Simon, expected to see the colonel defend himself and indignantly reply to the stranger. Instead he hurriedly gathered up his papers and fairly raced from the room.
"Is he—is he a swindler?" asked Dick, faintly.
"One of the slickest in New York," was the answer. "His game is to sell fake bonds in companies that never existed, though some of them are legally organized. Once in a while, just to fool the police, he deals in regular stocks, but the kind he usually sells are fake ones. I'm the hotel detective," the man went on. "We have to be always on the lookout for such chaps as he is, especially when we have young millionaires stopping at the house," and he smiled at Dick.
"I'm much obliged to you," answered Dick heartily. "You've saved me a considerable sum."
"That's what I'm here for," returned the detective cheerfully. "Don't go buying any gold bricks, now," and, with a nod at the boys, he was gone.
"Well, wouldn't that rattle your teeth!" exclaimed "Bricktop." "I've read about those confidence men and green-goods swindlers, but I never saw one before."
"Me, either," remarked Frank Bender. "Say, this will be something to tell the folks back home," and, in the excitement of his spirits he tried to stand on his head in a washbowl on the stand. It was full of water, and his acrobatic feat was brought to an abrupt end as he lifted his head, dripping wet.
"That's a new way to do it !" exclaimed Walter Mead, with a laugh.
"Ugh! Burrrr! Wow! Whew! Give me a towel, quick!" yelled Frank. "The water had soap in it, and it's got in my eyes!"
He groped around with outstretched hands, seeking a towel, which, after he was able to stop laughing, Dick handed him.
"Did you know that Colonel Dendon was a swindler?" asked Walter of Simon, when the excitement had somewhat subsided.
"Me? No, of course not!" exclaimed Simon hastily. "All I knew was that he sold bonds, and I thought it would be a good chance for Dick to make money. He said he wanted to learn business and make money. I—I was as much surprised as any of you," concluded Simon, with an injured air. "I hope you don't think, Dick, that I would have had anything to do with that man if I had known what he was?"
"I'm not blaming you any," replied Dick. "Mistakes will happen in the best of regulated financial affairs. Glad that detective happened to come in when he did or I might have been badly stung."
It was now too late to go out to any amusement and the boys, after discussing the recent happenings, went to bed, planning to visit many points of interest the next day.
"Well, your scheme didn't work out, did it?" said Guy to Simon, as they went to their rooms.
"Not exactly," was the answer. "But I give you my word I didn't know the colonel was such a swindler as that. Never mind, though, I'll make money out of Dick—somehow."
Dick and his chums had scarcely finished their breakfast the next morning, and were preparing to go out, when the bell boy brought up a card reading:
"Who is it?" asked "Bricktop," "another man to sell bonds?"
Dick handed over the card.
"New York Leader, eh? I wonder what he leads, a band or some political party?"
"That's a reporter," said Walter. "Going to let him in, Dick?"
"Yes, I guess so. I'm tired of having stuff in the papers about me; but these reporters have to get the stories they're sent after, and it's no use making it any harder for them than they have it. Tell him to come up," he said to the waiting bell boy.
A tall, good-looking youth, with a pleasant, manly air, entered the room.
To those who have read some of my other books he will not be a stranger, for he was none other than Larry Dexter, whose various adventures I have described in "The Great Newspaper Series," starting with "From Office Boy to Reporter."
"Which one is the millionaire's son, with money to burn?" Larry asked, with a laugh that showed in his eyes. He was a little older than Dick.
"I suppose I am," answered the wealthy youth.
"I'm from the Leader," said Larry Dexter. "I've been sent to get your impressions of New York, and to ask whether you find it a good place to spend money. Do you mind talking for publication?"
There was such a winning way about this reporter, so different from that noticeable in many of the newspaper men Dick had been inflicted with, that the millionaire's son liked him at once. Larry did not take it for granted that Dick must submit to the questions, but, in a gentlemanly way, asked for permission to "write him up."
"I don't know that I can tell you anything that will be of interest to the paper," said Dick, "but I'll do my best."
"That's a relief," returned Larry. "I just came from a crusty old man—a professor who has discovered a new way of making milk keep—and he was so grouchy I couldn't get a word out of him. It's a big change to find somebody who will talk."
"Please don't make up a lot of silly, sensational stuff?" pleaded Dick. "I'm tired of all that. I'm no different from other fellows."
"Oh, yes, you are!" interrupted Larry with a laugh. "You have millions of money, and you'll find that makes all the difference in the world. It will gain you friends, position—in fact, almost anything. At least so they tell me," he added with another smile. "I never had a million myself. But now let's get down to business. What do you think of New York? Can you spend money here as fast as you want to?"
"He came pretty near spending it faster than he wanted to last night," put in "Bricktop."
"How was that?" asked Larry quickly, feeling that there was "in the air," so to speak, a story out of the usual run.
Thereupon Dick told about the attempted bond swindle.
"Say, this is great!" exclaimed Larry. "This is the best yet! This beats having you talk about New York. Do me a favor, will you?"
"What is it?" inquired Dick. "If it's to buy some gilt-edged bonds, I'm afraid I'll have to decline."
"No, it's only this. Don't say anything about this bond business to any other reporters."
"I'm not likely to, unless they ask me to," replied Dick. "But why?"
"Because I want to get a beat out of it."
"A beat?" inquired "Bricktop," while the other boys looked puzzled.
"Yes. An exclusive story. I don't want the reporters for any other papers to get hold of it. If I have it all alone in the Leader it will be a feather in my cap. News that no other paper has is the very best kind."
"Gilt-edged, I suppose," put in Dick.
"That's it," replied Larry quickly. "Now don't tell any other reporters, will you?"
"Well, if they come here and ask about it, I can't say it wasn't so."
"No, I suppose not," assented Larry. "But, I tell you what you can do."
"Go for a walk, and don't come back to the hotel until after my paper is out with the story. We publish in the afternoon and go to press about noon for the first edition. Would it be asking too much of you to do that?"
"No, for we were going out anyhow."
"Then come with me," suggested Larry. "I'll take you to the Leader office and have a man show you how we make a newspaper. I guess no other reporters will come in there to get the story out of you," and he laughed in delight at the "beat" he had secured.
Dick and his friends were only too glad to get a chance to see a big paper printed, and soon they were on their way to the Leader office, escorted by Larry.
"If any other reporters see me they'll think I'm taking some young men's club on a tour of the city," the young journalist remarked, as the little throng walked along. "Well, if they do, it will be a good way to throw them off the scent."
Larry reported to his city editor about having most unexpectedly come across a "big" story in connection with the young millionaire, and was told to "let it run for all it's worth."
"I'll see to it that the modern Crœsus and his friends are entertained," said Mr. Newton, another reporter, who was told by Mr. Emberg, the city editor, to show Dick and his chums around the newspaper plant.
It was getting close to edition time, and they noticed, with much amazement, how the reporters came hurrying in with the news they had gathered; how they sat down at typewriters and rattled it off; how it was corrected and edited; sent to the composing room in pneumatic tubes; set up on type-setting machines that seemed almost human; the type put into "forms" or strong steel frames; how a soft sheet of wet paper was pressed on the type and baked by steam until it took every impression and was the exact counterpart of a printed page.
The boys watched and saw that these baked sheets of paper, called "matrices," were sent to the stereotyping room, where, bent into a half-circle in a machine, they were filled with hot melted lead, which, hardening, took every impression of the cardboard.
Then the curved metal plates, each one representing a page of the paper, were clamped on a big press, that worked with a noise like thunder, and, in an instant, it seemed, white paper from a big roll, which was fed it at one end, came out printed, pasted, and folded newspapers at the other end of the machine.
A grimy boy gathered up an armful of them, as they kept piling up at the foot of a chute, which extended somewhere up inside the press. Mr. Newton, who had escorted Dick and his friends about, took up one of the journals.
"There you are!" he shouted, above the rumble and roar of the press, as he handed Dick a paper.
The wealthy youth unfolded it. On the front page was the story of himself and "Colonel Dendon." It was under a "scare" head, which announced:
ATTEMPTED SWINDLE OF YOUNG
SHARPER TRIES TO SELL TO DICK HAMILTON, WHO
RECENTLY INHERITED VAST WEALTH,
DETECTIVE ACTS IN TIME
"Humph!" murmured Dick, when he saw what a big story Larry had made of it. "If my father saw this he'd be worried."
"You're getting more famous than ever!" exclaimed Walter Mead.
"Looks so," admitted the young millionaire. "Well, I'm glad Larry got his beat, anyhow."
And it was a beat, for, when Dick got back to the hotel, the manager told him half the newspapers in New York had been calling him up to ask about the story.