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          (November 1896, _The Strand Magazine_)
          (Chapter six of _An African Millionaire: Episodes in
the Life of the Illustrious Colonel Clay_, published in book form
in 1897)

             by Grant Allen  (1848 - 1899)

THAT winter in town my respected brother-in-law had little
time on his hands to bother himself about trifles like Colonel
Clay.  A thunderclap burst upon him.  He saw his chief
interest in South Africa threatened by a serious, an
unexpected, and a crushing danger.

  Charles does a little in gold, and a little in land; but his
principal operations have always lain in the direction of
diamonds.  Only once in my life, indeed, have I seen him pay
the slightest attention to poetry, and that was when I
happened one day to recite the lines:--

     Full many a gem of purest ray serene 
     The dark, unfathomed caves of ocean bear.

  He rubbed his hands at once and murmured enthusiastically,
'I never thought of that.  We might get up an Atlantic
Exploration Syndicate, Limited.'  So attached is he to
diamonds.  You may gather, therefore, what a shock it was to
that gigantic brain to learn that science was rapidly reaching
a point where his favourite gems might become all at once a
mere drug in the market.  Depreciation is the one bugbear that
perpetually torments Sir Charles's soul; that winter he stood
within measurable distance of so appalling a calamity.

  It happened after this manner.

  We were strolling along Piccadilly towards Charles's club
one afternoon--he is a prominent member of the Croesus, in
Pall Mall--when, near Burlington House, whom should we happen
to knock up against but Sir Adolphus Cordery, the famous
mineralogist, and leading spirit of the Royal Society!  He
nodded to us pleasantly.  'Halloa, Vandrift,' he cried, in his
peculiarly loud and piercing voice; 'you're the very man I
wanted to meet to-day.  Good morning, Wentworth.  Well, how
about diamonds now, Sir Gorgius?  You'll have to sing small
It's all up with you Midases.  Heard about this marvellous new
discovery of Schleiermacher's?  It's calculated to make you
diamond kings squirm like an eel in a frying-pan.'

  I could see Charles wriggle inside his clothes.  He was most
uncomfortable.  That a man like Cordery should say such
things, in so loud a voice, on no matter how little
foundation, openly in Piccadilly, was enough in itself to make
a sensitive barometer such as Cloetedorp Golcondas go down a
point or two.

  'Hush, hush !' Charles said solemnly, in that awed tone of
voice which he always assumes when Money is blasphemed
against.  'Please don't talk quite so loud!  All London can
hear you.'

  Sir Adolphus ran his arm through Charles's most amicably. 
There's nothing Charles hates like having his arm taken.

  'Come along with me to the Athenaeum,' he went on, in the
same stentorian voice, 'and I'll tell you all about it.  Most
interesting discovery.  Makes diamonds cheap as dirt. 
Calculated to supersede South Africa altogether.'

  Charles allowed himself to be dragged along.  There was
nothing else possible.  Sir Adolphus continued, in a somewhat
lower key, induced upon him by Charles's mute look of protest. 
It was a disquieting story.  He told it with gleeful unction. 
It seems that Professor Schleiermacher, of Jena, 'the greatest
living authority on the chemistry of gems,' he said, had
lately invented, or claimed to have invented, a system for
artificially producing diamonds, which had yielded most
surprising and unexceptionable results.

  Charles's lip curled slightly.  'Oh, I know the sort of
thing,' he said.  'I've heard of it before.  Very inferior
stones, quite small and worthless, produced at immense cost,
and even then not worth looking at.  I'm an old bird, you
know, Cordery; not to be caught with chaff.  Tell me a better

  Sir Adolphus produced a small cut gem from his pocket. 
'How's that for the first water?' he inquired, passing it
across, with a broad smile, to the sceptic.  'Made under my
own eyes--and quite inexpensively!'

  Charles examined it close, stopping short against the
railings in St. James's Square to look at it with his
pocket-lens.  There was no denying the truth.  It was a
capital small gem of the finest quality.

  'Made under your own eyes?' he exclaimed, still incredulous. 
'Where, my dear sir?--at Jena?'

  The answer was a thunderbolt from a blue sky.  'No, here in
London; last night as ever was; before myself and Dr. Gray;
and about to be exhibited by the President himself at a
meeting of Fellows of the Royal Society.'

  Charles drew a long breath.  'This nonsense must be
stopped,' he said firmly--'it must be nipped in the bud.  It
won't do, my dear friend; we can't have such tampering with
important Interests.'

  'How do you mean?' Cordery asked, astonished.

  Charles gazed at him steadily.  I could see by the furtive
gleam in my brother-in-law's eye he was distinctly frightened. 
'Where is the fellow?' he asked.  'Did he come himself, or
send over a deputy?'

  'Here in London,' Sir Adolphus replied.  'He's staying at my
house; and he says he'll be glad to show his experiments to
anybody scientifically interested in diamonds.  We propose to
have a demonstration of the process to-night at Lancaster
Gate.  Will you drop in and see it?'

   Would he 'drop in' and see it?  'Drop in' at such a
function!  Could he possibly stop away?  Charles clutched the
enemy's arm with a nervous grip.  'Look here, Cordery,' he
said, quivering; 'this is a question affecting very important
Interests.  Don't do anything rash.  Don't do anything
foolish.  Remember that Shares may rise or fall on this.'

   He said 'Shares' in a tone of profound respect that I can
hardly even indicate.  It was the crucial word in the creed of
his religion.

  'I should think it very probable,' Sir Adolphus replied,
with the callous indifference of the mere man of science to
financial suffering.

  Sir Charles was bland, but peremptory.  'Now, observe,' he
said, 'a grave responsibility rests on your shoulders.  The
Market depends upon you.  You must not ask in any number of
outsiders to witness these experiments.  Have a few
mineralogists and experts, if you like; but also take care to
invite representatives of the menaced Interests.  I will come
myself--I'm engaged to dine out, but I can contract an
indisposition; and I should advise you to ask Mosenheimer,
and, say, young Phipson.  They would stand for the mines, as
you and the mineralogists would stand for science.  Above all,
don't blab; for Heaven's sake, let there be no premature
gossip.  Tell Schleiermacher not to go gassing and boasting of
his success all over London.'

  'We are keeping the matter a profound secret, at
Schleiermacher's own request,' Cordery answered, more

  'Which is why,' Charles said, in his severest tone, 'you
bawled it out at the very top of your voice in Piccadilly!'

  However, before nightfall, everything was arranged to
Charles's satisfaction; and off we went to Lancaster Gate,
with a profound expectation that the German professor would do
nothing worth seeing.

  He was a remarkable-looking man, once tall, I should say,
from his long, thin build, but now bowed and bent with long
devotion to study and leaning over a crucible.  His hair,
prematurely white, hung down upon his forehead, but his eye
was keen and his mouth sagacious.  He shook hands cordially
with the men of science, whom he seemed to know of old, whilst
he bowed somewhat distantly to the South African interest. 
Then he began to talk, in very German-English, helping out the
sense now and again, where his vocabulary failed him, by
waving his rather dirty and chemical-stained hands
demonstratively about him.  His nails were a sight, but his
fingers, I must say, had the delicate shape of a man's
accustomed to minute manipulation.  He plunged at once into
the thick of the matter, telling us briefly in his equally
thick accent that he 'now brobosed by his new brocess to make
for us some goot and sadisfactory tiamonds.'

  He brought out his apparatus, and explained--or, as he said,
'eggsblained'--his novel method.  'Tiamonds,' he said, 'were
nozzing but pure crystalline carbon.  He knew how to
crystallise it--zat was all ze secret.'  The men of science
examined the pots and pans carefully.  Then he put in a
certain number of raw materials, and went to work with
ostentatious openness.  There were three distinct processes,
and he made two stones by each simultaneously.  The remarkable
part of his methods, he said, was their rapidity and their
cheapness.  In three-quarters of an hour (and he smiled
sardonically) he could produce a diamond worth at current
prices two hundred pounds sterling.  'As you shall now see me
berform,' he remarked, 'viz zis simple abbaradus.'

  The materials fizzed and fumed.  The Professor stirred them. 
An unpleasant smell like burnt feathers pervaded the room. 
The scientific men craned their necks in their eagerness, and
looked over one another; Vane-Vivian, in particular, was all
attention.  After three-quarters of an hour, the Professor,
still smiling, began to empty the apparatus.  He removed a
large quantity of dust or powder, which he succinctly
described as 'by-broducts,' and then took between finger and
thumb from the midst of each pan a small white pebble, not
water-worn apparently, but slightly rough and wart-like on the

  From one pair of the pannikins he produced two such stones,
and held them up before us triumphantly.  'Zese,' he said, '
are genuine tiamonds, manufactured at a gost of fourteen
shillings and siggspence abiece!'  Then he tried the second
pair.  'Zese,' he said, still more gleefully, 'are broduced at
a gost of eleffen and ninebence!'  Finally, he came to the
third pair, which he positively brandished before our
astonished eyes.  'And zese,' he cried, transported, 'haff
gost me no more zan tree and eightbence!'

  They were handed round for inspection.  Rough and uncut as
they stood, it was, of course, impossible to judge of their
value.  But one thing was certain.  The men of science had
been watching close at the first, and were sure Herr
Schleiermacher had not put the stones in;  they were keen at
the withdrawal, and were equally sure he had taken them
honestly out of the pannikins.

  'I vill now disdribute zem,' the Professor remarked in a
casual tone, as if diamonds were peas, looking round at the
company.  And he singled out my brother-in-law.  'One to Sir
Charles!' he said, handing it; 'one to Mr. Mosenheimer; one to
Mr. Phibson--as representing the tiamond interest.  Zen, one
each to Sir Atolphus, to Dr. Gray, to Mr. Fane-Fiffian, as
representing science.  You will haff zem cut and rebort upon
zem in due gourse.  We meet again at zis blace ze day afder

  Charles gazed at him reproachfully.  The profoundest chords
of his moral nature were stirred.  'Professor,' he said, in a
voice of solemn warning, 'are you aware that, if you have
succeeded, you have destroyed the value of thousands of
pounds' worth of precious property?'

  The Professor shrugged his shoulders.  'Fot is dat to me?'
he inquired, with a curious glance of contempt.  'I am not a
financier!  I am a man of science.  I seek to know; I do not
seek to make a fortune.'

  'Shocking!' Charles exclaimed.  'Shocking! never before in
my life beheld so strange an instance of complete
insensibility to the claims of others!'

  We separated early.  The men of science were coarsely
jubilant.  The diamond interest exhibited a corresponding
depression.  If this news were true, they foresaw a slump. 
Every eye grew dim.  It was a terrible business.

  Charles walked homeward with the Professor.  He sounded him
gently as to the sum required, should need arise, to purchase
his secrecy.  Already Sir Adolphus had bound us all down to
temporary silence--as if that were necessary; but Charles
wished to know how much Schleiermacher would take to suppress
his discovery.  The German was immovable.

   'No, no!' he replied, with positive petulance.  'You do not
unterstant.  I do not buy and sell.  Zis is a chemical fact. 
We must bublish it for the sake off its seoretical falue.  I
do not care for wealse.  I haff no time to waste in making

  'What an awful picture of a misspent life!' Charles observed
to me afterwards.

  And, indeed, the man seemed to care for nothing on earth but
the abstract question--not whether he could make good diamonds
or -not, but whether he could or could not produce a
crystalline form of pure carbon!

  On the appointed night Charles went back to Lancaster Gate,
as I could not fail to remark, with a strange air of complete
and painful preoccupation.  Never before in his life had I
seen him so anxious.

  The diamonds were produced, with one surface of each
slightly scored by the cutters, so as to show the water.  Then
a curious result disclosed itself.  Strange to say, each of
the three diamonds given to the three diamond kings turned out
to be a most inferior and valueless stone; while each of the
three intrusted to the care of the scientific investigators
turned out to be a fine gem of the purest quality.

  I confess it was a sufficiently suspicious conjunction.  The
three representatives of the diamond interest gazed at each
other with inquiring side-glances.  Then their eyes fell
suddenly: they avoided one another.  Had each independently
substituted a weak and inferior natural stone for Professor
Schleiermacher's manufactured pebbles?  It almost seemed so. 
For a moment, I admit, I was half inclined to suppose it.  But
next second I changed my mind.  Could a man of Sir Charles
Vandrift's integrity and high principle stoop for lucre's sake
to so mean an expedient?--not to mention the fact that, even
if he did, and if Mosenheimer did likewise, the stones
submitted to the scientific men would have amply sufficed to
establish the reality and success of the experiments!

  Still, I must say, Charles looked guiltily across at
Mosenheimer, and Mosenheimer at Phipson, while three more
uncomfortable or unhappy-faced men could hardly have been
found at that precise minute in the City of Westminster.

  Then Sir Adolphus spoke--or, rather, he orated.  He said, in
his loud and grating voice, we had that evening, and on a
previous evening, been present at the conception and birth of
an Epoch in the History of Science.  Professor Schleiermacher
was one of those men of whom his native Saxony might well be
proud; while as a Briton he must say he regretted somewhat
that this discovery, like so many others, should have been
'Made in Germany.'  However, Professor Schleiermacher was a
specimen of that noble type of scientific men to whom gold was
merely the rare metal Au, and diamonds merely the element C in
the scarcest of its manifold allotropic embodiments.  The
Professor did not seek to make money out of his discovery.  He
rose above the sordid greed of capitalists.  Content with the
glory of having traced the element C to its crystalline
origin, he asked no more than the approval of science. 
However, out of deference to the wishes of those financial
gentlemen who were oddly concerned in maintaining the present
price of C in its crystalline form--in other words, the
diamond interest--they had arranged that the secret should be
strictly guarded and kept for the present; not one of the few
persons admitted to the experiments would publicly divulge the
truth about them.  This secrecy would be maintained till he
himself, and a small committee of the Royal Society, should
have time to investigate and verify for themselves the
Professor's beautiful and ingenious processes--an
investigation and verification which the learned Professor
himself both desired and suggested.  (Schleiermacher nodded
approval.)  When that was done, if the process stood the test,
further concealment would be absolutely futile.  The price of
diamonds must fall at once below that of paste, and any
protest on the part of the financial world would, of course,
be useless.  The laws of Nature were superior to millionaires. 
Meanwhile, in deference to the opinion of Sir Charles
Vandrift, whose acquaintance with that fascinating side of the
subject nobody could deny, they had consented to send no
notices to the Press, and to abstain from saying anything
about this beautiful and simple process in public.  He dwelt
with horrid gusto on that epithet 'beautiful.'  And now, in
the name of British mineralogy, he must congratulate Professor
Schleiermacher, our distinguished guest, on his truly
brilliant and crystalline contribution to our knowledge of
brilliants and of crystalline science.

  Everybody applauded.  It was an awkward moment.  Sir Charles
bit his lip.  Mosenheimer looked glum.  Young Phipson dropped
an expression which I will not transcribe.  (I understand this
work may circulate among families.)  And after a solemn
promise of death-like secrecy, the meeting separated.

  I noticed that my brother-in-law somewhat ostentatiously
avoided Mosenheimer at the door; and that Phipson jumped
quickly into his own carriage.  'Home!' Charles cried gloomily
to the coachman as we took our seats in the brougham.  And all
the way to Mayfair he leaned back in his seat, with close-set
lips, never uttering a syllable.

  Before he retired to rest, however, in the privacy of the
billiard-room, I ventured to ask him: 'Charles, will you
unload Golcondas to-morrow?'  Which, I need hardly explain, is
the slang of the Stock Exchange for getting rid of undesirable
securities.  It struck me as probable that, in the event of
the invention turning out a reality, Cloetedorp A's might
become unsaleable within the next few weeks or so.

  He eyed me sternly.  'Wentworth,' he said, 'you're a fool!'
(Except on occasions when he is very angry, my respected
connection never calls me 'Wentworth'; the familiar
abbreviation, 'Sey'--derived from Seymour--is his usual mode
of address to me in private.)  'Is it likely I would unload,
and wreck the confidence of the public in the Cloetedorp
Company at such a moment?  As a director--as Chairman--would
it be just or right of me?  I ask you, sir, could I reconcile
it to my conscience?'

  'Charles,' I answered, 'you are right.  Your conduct is
noble.  You will not save your own personal interests at the
expense of those who have put their trust in you.  Such
probity is, alas! very rare in finance!'  And I sighed
involuntarily; for I had lost in Liberators.

  At the same time I thought to myself, 'I am not a director. 
No trust is reposed in me.  I have to think first of dear
Isabel and the baby.  Before the crash comes I will sell out
to-morrow the few shares I hold, through Charles's kindness,
in the Cloetedorp Golcondas.'

  With his marvellous business instinct, Charles seemed to
divine my thought, for he turned round to me sharply.  'Look
here, Sey,' he remarked, in an acidulous tone, 'recollect,
you're my brother-in-law.  You are also my secretary.  The
eyes of London will be upon us to-morrow.  If you were to sell
out, and operators got to know of it, they'd suspect there was
something up, and the company would suffer for it.  Of course,
you can do what you like with your own property.  I can't
interfere with that.  I do not dictate to you.  But as
Chairman of the Golcondas, I am bound to see that the
interests of widows and orphans whose All is invested with me
should not suffer at this crisis.'  His voice seemed to
falter.  'Therefore, though I don't like to threaten,' he went
on, 'I am bound to give you warning: if you sell out those
shares of yours, openly or secretly, you are no longer my
secretary; you receive forthwith six months' salary in lieu of
notice, and--you leave me instantly.'

  'Very well, Charles,' I answered, in a submissive voice;
though I debated with myself for a moment whether it would be
best to stick to the ready money and quit the sinking ship, or
to hold fast by my friend, and back Charles's luck against the
Professor's science.  After a short, sharp struggle within my
own mind, I am proud to say, friendship and gratitude won.  I
felt sure that, whether diamonds went up or down, Charles
Vandrift was the sort of man who would come to the top in the
end in spite of everything.  And I decided to stand by him! 

  I slept little that night, however.  My mind was a
whirlwind.  At breakfast Charles also looked haggard and
moody.  He ordered the carriage early, and drove straight into
the City.

  There was a block in Cheapside.  Charles, impatient and
nervous, jumped out and walked.  I walked beside him.  Near
Wood Street a man we knew casually stopped us.

  'I think I ought to mention to you,' he said,
confidentially, 'that I have it on the very best authority
that Schleiermacher, of Jena----'

  'Thank you,' Charles said, crustily, 'I know that tale, and
--there's not a word of truth in it.'

  He brushed on in haste.  A yard or two farther a broker
paused in front of us.

  'Halloa, Sir Charles!' he called out, in a bantering tone. 
'What's all this about diamonds?  Where are Cloetedorps
to-day?  Is it Golconda, or Queer Street?'

  Charles drew himself up very stiff.  'I fail to understand
you,' he answered, with dignity.

   'Why, you were there yourself,' the man cried.  'Last night
at Sir Adolphus's!  Oh yes, it's all over the place;
Schleiermacher of Jena has succeeded in making the most
perfect diamonds--for sixpence apiece--as good as real--and
South Africa's ancient history.  In less than six weeks
Kimberley, they say, will be a howling desert.  Every
costermonger in Whitechapel will wear genuine Koh-i-noors for
buttons on his coat; every girl in Bermondsey will sport a
riviere like Lady Vandrift's to her favourite music-hall. 
There's a slump in Golcondas.  Sly, sly, I can see; but we
know all about it!'

  Charles moved on, disgusted.  The man's manners were
atrocious.  Near the Bank we ran up against a most respectable

  'Ah, Sir Charles,' he said; 'you here?  Well, this is
strange news, isn't it?  For my part, I advise you not to take
it too seriously.  Your stock will go down, of course, like
lead this morning.  But it'll rise to-morrow, mark my words,
and fluctuate every hour till the discovery's proved or
disproved for certain.  There's a fine time coming for
operators, I feel sure.  Reports this way and that.  Rumours,
rumours, rumours.  And nobody will know which way to believe
till Sir Adolphus has tested it.'

  We moved on towards the House.  Black care was seated on Sir
Charles's shoulders.  As we drew nearer and nearer, everybody
was discussing the one fact of the moment.  The seal of
secrecy had proved more potent than publication on the

   Some people told us of the exciting news in confidential
whispers; some proclaimed it aloud in vulgar exultation.  The
general opinion was that Cloetedorps were doomed, and that the
sooner a man cleared out the less was he likely to lose by it.

  Charles strode on like a general; but it was a Napoleon
brazening out his retreat from Moscow.  His mien was resolute. 
He disappeared at last into the precincts of an office, waving
me back, not to follow.  After a long consultation he came out
and rejoined me.

  All day long the City rang with Golcondas, Golcondas. 
Everybody murmured, 'Slump, slump in Golcondas.'  The brokers
had more business to do than they could manage; though, to be
sure, almost every one was a seller and no one a buyer.  But
Charles stood firm as a rock, and so did his brokers.  'I
don't want to sell,' he said, doggedly.  'The whole thing is
trumped up.  It's a mere piece of jugglery.  For my own part,
I believe Professor Schleiermacher is deceived, or else is
deceiving us.  In another week the bubble will have burst, and
prices will restore themselves.'  His brokers, Finglemores,
had only one answer to all inquiries: 'Sir Charles has every
confidence in the stability of Golcondas, and doesn't wish to
sell or to increase the panic.'

  All the world said he was splendid, splendid!  There he
stationed himself on 'Change like some granite stack against
which the waves roll and break themselves in vain.  He took no
notice of the slump, but ostentatiously bought up a few shares
here and there so as to restore public confidence.

  'I would buy more,' he said, freely, 'and make my fortune;
only, as I was one of those who happened to spend last night
at Sir Adolphus's, people might think I had helped to spread
the rumour and produce the slump, in order to buy in at panic
rates for my own advantage.  A chairman, like Caesar's wife,
should be above suspicion.  So I shall only buy up just
enough, now and again, to let people see I, at least, have no
doubt as to the firm future of Cloetedorps.'

  He went home that night, more harassed and ill than I have
ever seen him.  Next day was as bad.  The slump continued,
with varying episodes.  Now, a rumour would surge up that Sir
Adolphus had declared the whole affair a sham, and prices
would steady a little; now, another would break out that the
diamonds were actually being put upon the market in Berlin by
the cart-load, and timid old ladies would wire down to their
brokers to realise off-hand at whatever hazard.  It was an
awful day.  I shall never forget it.

  The morning after, as if by miracle, things righted
themselves of a sudden.  While we were wondering what it
meant, Charles received a telegram from Sir Adolphus 
       'The man is a fraud.  Not Schleiermacher at all.  Just
     had a wire from Jena saying the Professor knows nothing
     about him.  Sorry unintentionally to have caused you
     trouble.  Come round and see me.'

   'Sorry unintentionally to have caused you trouble.' 
Charles was beside himself with anger.  Sir Adolphus had upset
the share-market for forty-eight mortal hours, half-ruined a
round dozen of wealthy operators, convulsed the City, upheaved
the House, and now--he apologised for it as one might
apologise for being late ten minutes for dinner!  Charles
jumped into a hansom and rushed round to see him.  How had he
dared to introduce the impostor to solid men as Professor
Schleiermacher?  Sir Adolphus shrugged his shoulders.  The
fellow had come and introduced himself as the great Jena
chemist; he had long white hair, and a stoop in the shoulders. 
What reason had he for doubting his word?  (I reflected to
myself that on much the same grounds Charles in turn had
accepted the Honourable David Granton and Graf von
Lebenstein.)  Besides, what object could the creature have for
this extraordinary deception?  Charles knew only too well.  It
was clear it was done to disturb the diamond market, and we
realised, too late, that the man who had done it was--Colonel
Clay, in 'another of his manifold allotropic embodiments!'
Charles had had his wish, and had met his enemy once more in

  We could see the whole plot.  Colonel Clay was polymorphic,
like the element carbon!  Doubtless, with his extraordinary
sleight of hand, he had substituted real diamonds for the
shapeless mass that came out of the apparatus, in the interval
between handing the pebbles round for inspection, and
distributing them piecemeal to the men of science and
representatives of the diamond interest.  We all watched him
closely, of course, when he opened the crucibles; but when
once we had satisfied ourselves that something came out, our
doubts were set at rest, and we forgot to watch whether he
distributed those somethings or not to the recipients. 
Conjurers always depend upon such momentary distractions or
lapses of attention.  As usual, too, the Professor had
disappeared into space the moment his trick was once well
performed.  He vanished like smoke, as the Count and Seer had
vanished before, and was never again heard of.

  Charles went home more angry than I have ever beheld him. 
I couldn't imagine why.  He seemed as deeply hipped as if he
had lost his thousands.  I endeavoured to console him.  'After
all,' I said, 'though Golcondas have suffered a temporary
loss, it's a comfort to think that you should have stood so
firm, and not only stemmed the tide, but also prevented
yourself from losing anything at all of your own through
panic.  I'm sorry, of course, for the widows and orphans; but
if Colonel Clay has rigged the market, at least it isn't you
who lose by it this time.'

  Charles withered me with a fierce scowl of undisguised
contempt.  'Wentworth,' he said once more, 'you are a fool!'
Then he relapsed into silence.

  'But you declined to sell out,' I said.

  He gazed at me fixedly.  'Is it likely,' he asked at last,
'I would tell you if I meant to sell out? or that I'd sell out
openly through Finglemore, my usual broker?  Why, all the
world would have known, and Golcondas would have been
finished.  As it is, I don't desire to tell an ass like you
exactly how much I've lost.  But I did sell out, and some
unknown operator bought in at once, and closed for ready
money, and has sold again this morning; and after all that has
happened, it will be impossible to track him.  He didn't wait
for the account: he settled up instantly.  And he sold in like
manner.  I know now what has been done, and how cleverly it
has all been disguised and covered; but the most I'm going to
tell you to-day is just this--it's by far the biggest haul
Colonel Clay has made out of me.  He could retire on it if he
liked.  My one hope is, it may satisfy him for life; but,
then, no man has ever had enough of making money.'

  'You sold out!' I exclaimed.  'You, the Chairman of the
company!  You deserted the ship!  And how about your trust? 
How about the widows and orphans confided to you?'

  Charles rose and faced me.  'Seymour Wentworth,' he said, in
his most solemn voice, 'you have lived with me for years and
had every advantage.  You have seen high finance.  Yet you ask
me that question!  It's my belief you will never, never
understand business!'