These thoughts were seething in Montague's mind, and they would not let him rest. Perhaps it was just as well that he did not stay too long that evening. After all, what was the use? Jim Hegan was what circumstances had made him. Vain was the dream of peace and well doing—there was always another rival! There was a new battle on just at present, if one might believe the gossip of the Street; Hegan and Wyman were at each other's throats. They would fight out their quarrel, and there was no way to prevent them—even though they pulled down the pillars of the nation about each other's heads.

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As to just what these men were doing in their struggles, Montague got new information every day. The next morning, while he was sitting on the piazza of one of the hotels watching the people, he recognised a familiar face, and greeted the young engineer, Lieutenant Long, who came and sat down beside him.

“Well,” said Montague, “have you heard anything from our friend Gamble?”

“He's back in the bosom of his family again,” said the young officer. “He got tired of the splurge.”

“Great fellow, Gamble,” said Montague.

“I liked him very much,” said the Lieutenant. “He's not beautiful to look at, but his heart's in the right place.”

Montague thought for a moment, then asked, “Did he ever send you your oil specifications?”

“You bet he did!” said the other. “And say, they were great! The Department will think I'm an expert.”

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“Indeed,” said Montague.

“It was a precious lucky thing for me,” said the officer. “I'd have been in quite a predicament, you know.”

He paused for a moment. “You cannot imagine,” he said, “the position that we naval officers are in. Do you know, I think some word must have got out about that contract.”

“You don't say so,” said Montague, with interest.

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“I do. By gad, I thought of writing to headquarters about it. I was approached no less than three times!”


“Fancy,” said the officer. “A young chap got himself introduced to me by one of my friends here. He stuck by me the whole evening, and afterwards, as we were strolling home, he opened up on me in this fashion. He'd heard from a friend in Washington that I was one of those who had been asked to write specifications for the oil contracts of the Navy; and he had some friends who were interested in oil, and who might be able to advise me. He hinted that it might be a good thing for me. Just think of it!”

“I can imagine it was unpleasant.”