It was in the face of this very altered situation that Cowperwood
Arrived at Stener’s office late this Monday afternoon.
Stener was quite alone, worried and distraught. He was anxious to see
Cowperwood, and at the same time afraid.
“George,” began Cowperwood, briskly, on seeing him, “I haven’t much time
To spare now, but I’ve come, finally, to tell you that you’ll have to
Let me have three hundred thousand more if you don’t want me to fail.
Things are looking very bad today. They’ve caught me in a corner on
My loans; but this storm isn’t going to last. You can see by the very
Character of it that it can’t.”
He was looking at Stener’s face, and seeing fear and a pained and
Yet very definite necessity for opposition written there. “Chicago is
Burning, but it will be built up again. Business will be all the better
For it later on. Now, I want you to be reasonable and help me. Don’t get
Stener stirred uneasily. “Don’t let these politicians scare you to
Death. It will all blow over in a few days, and then we’ll be better off
Than ever. Did you see Mollenhauer?”
“Well, what did he have to say?”
“He said just what I thought he’d say. He won’t let me do this. I can’t,
Frank, I tell you!” exclaimed Stener, jumping up. He was so nervous
That he had had a hard time keeping his seat during this short, direct
Conversation. “I can’t! They’ve got me in a corner! They’re after me!
They all know what we’ve been doing. Oh, say, Frank” – he threw up his
Arms wildly – “you’ve got to get me out of this. You’ve got to let me
Have that five hundred thousand back and get me out of this. If you
Don’t, and you should fail, they’ll send me to the penitentiary. I’ve
Got a wife and four children, Frank. I can’t go on in this. It’s too big
For me. I never should have gone in on it in the first place. I never
Would have if you hadn’t persuaded me, in a way. I never thought when I
Began that I would ever get in as bad as all this. I can’t go on, Frank.
I can’t! I’m willing you should have all my stock. Only give me back
That five hundred thousand, and we’ll call it even.” His voice rose
Nervously as he talked, and he wiped his wet forehead with his hand and
Stared at Cowperwood pleadingly, foolishly.
Cowperwood stared at him in return for a few moments with a cold, fishy
Eye. He knew a great deal about human nature, and he was ready for and
Expectant of any queer shift in an individual’s attitude, particularly
In time of panic; but this shift of Stener’s was quite too much. “Whom
Else have you been talking to, George, since I saw you? Whom have you
Seen? What did Sengstack have to say?”
“He says just what Mollenhauer does, that I mustn’t loan any more money
Under any circumstances, and he says I ought to get that five hundred
Thousand back as quickly as possible.”
“And you think Mollenhauer wants to help you, do you?” inquired
Cowperwood, finding it hard to efface the contempt which kept forcing
Itself into his voice.
“I think he does, yes. I don’t know who else will, Frank, if he don’t.
He’s one of the big political forces in this town.”
“Listen to me,” began Cowperwood, eyeing him fixedly. Then he paused.
“What did he say you should do about your holdings?”
“Sell them through Tighe & Company and put the money back in the
Treasury, if you won’t take them.”
“Sell them to whom?” asked Cowperwood, thinking of Stener’s last words.
“To any one on ‘change who’ll take them, I suppose. I don’t know.”