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“He might just as well own it,” was the reply. “If I were going into Wall Street to make money, I'd rather have the control of fifty millions than the absolute ownership of ten.”

“By the way,” Oliver remarked after a moment, “the Prentices have asked Alice up to Newport. Alice seems to be quite taken with that young chap, Curtiss.”

“He comes around a good deal,” said Montague. “He seems a very decent fellow.”

“No doubt,” said the other. “But he hasn't enough money to take care of a girl like Alice.”

“Well,” he replied, “that's a question for Alice to consider.”

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ONE day, a month or so later, Montague, to his great surprise, received a letter from Stanley Ryder.

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“Could you make it convenient to call at my office sometime this afternoon?” it read. “I wish to talk over with you a business proposition which I believe you will find of great advantage to yourself.”

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“I suppose he wants to buy my Northern Mississippi stock,” he said to himself, as he called up Ryder on the 'phone, and made an appointment.

It was the first time that he had ever been inside the building of the Gotham Trust Company, and he gazed about him at the overwhelming magnificence—huge gates of bronze and walls of exquisite marble. Ryder's own office was elaborate and splendid, and he himself a picture of aristocratic elegance.

He greeted Montague cordially, and talked for a few minutes about the state of the market, and the business situation, in the meantime twirling a pencil in his hand and watching his visitor narrowly. At last he began, “Mr. Montague, I have for some time been working over a plan which I think will interest you.”

“I shall be very pleased to hear of it,” said Montague.

“Of course, you know,” said Ryder, “that I bought from Mrs. Taylor her holdings in the Northern Mississippi Railroad. I bought them because I was of the opinion that the road ought to be developed, and I believed that I could induce someone to take the matter up. I have found the right parties, I think, and the plans are now being worked out.”

“Indeed,” said the other, with interest.

“The idea, Mr. Montague, is to extend the railroad according to the old plan, with which you are familiar. Before we took the matter up, we approached the holders of the remainder of the stock, most of whom, I suppose, are known to you. We made them, through our agents, a proposition to buy their stock at what we considered a fair price; and we have purchased about five thousand shares additional. The prices quoted on the balance were more than we cared to pay, in consideration of the very great cost of the improvements we proposed to undertake. Our idea is now to make a new proposition to these other shareholders. The annual stockholders' meeting takes place next month. At this meeting will be brought up the project for the issue of twenty thousand additional shares, with the understanding that as much of this new stock as is not taken by the present shareholders is to go to us. As I assume that few of them will take their allotments, that will give us control of the road; you can understand, of course, that our syndicate would not undertake the venture unless it could obtain control.”