Fine & Company
George Fine was a sturdy youth of sixteen whose father had died when he was but ten years old. He was a manly little fellow who knew how to take care of himself in his career of newsboy. He had laughing blue eyes and a handsome face, while his mouth showed that he possessed a dauntless spirit. His mother died long before his father did, and he and his little sister lived with an aunt--his mother's sister--who was a childless widow. She was a mother to him and Adah, who was two years younger than George, a pretty blue-eyed little miss with golden hair and pearly teeth.
She did washing, and George sold papers, while Adah was a cash girl in one of the big stores on Grand street. Even then it was but a poor living for them in the great city, where grasping landlords demanded rent money with the regularity of the almanac. When George Fine went out of the bank with ten dollars in his pocket and $250 more in the bank behind him, he had a feeling in his heart he never had there before. The whole world seemed opened to him. Rich bankers and brokers had shaken hands with him and praised him for what he had done.
"And I'm rich now myself," he said to himself, as he darted up toward Broadway. "Whew! I'm rich! I'm rich!"
"Hello, John! Where are you going?"
"Up to the telegraph office."
"I'm going that way, too," and he went along with John Sinter, a messenger boy in Broker Manson's office, who was his chum and friend, and about the same age as himself.
"Sold all your papers?" John asked.
"Yes, all I am going to sell to-day,"
"Made enough to stop on, eh?"
John laughed and remarked:
"If I had a hundred dollars I could make three hundred in a week."
"How?" he asked.
"Big deal going on in the Stock Exchange. Heard 'em fixing it up in the office this morning."
"What is it?"
"Corner in B. & H."
George had been selling papers in Wall Street long enough to be familiar with all the terms used by brokers and bankers. He knew all about "puts" and "calls," "bulls" and "bears," and had read eagerly the stories of fortunes won or lost in the mad whirl of speculation down there.
"Sure you could make it, John?" he finally asked of the messenger boy.
"Of course I am. I've seen it done many a time. When three or four big brokers club together to boom a stock it booms, and then the lambs lose their fleece."
"But wouldn't you be a lamb and lose your fleece, too?"
"No. I wouldn't buy when it had boomed. I'd buy before and sell when it went up."
They entered the telegraph office, and John sent off the message he had brought, after which they went out on the street again.
"What's B. & H. going at now?" George asked.
"It's going at forty-seven. It will be up to fifty to-morrow when the Stock Exchange closes."
"How do you know that?"
"Mr. Manson is going to buy up all the stock. He has millions behind him. The stock will go up, up, up, till it topples over on the lambs. Oh, I've seen it done a dozen times. If I had one hundred dollars, I'd put it up on ten percent margin--every dollar of it--and scoop in three hundred dollars inside of a week."
"Say, John, I've got the 'scads.'"
"Eh! Huh?" and John stopped and stared at him.
"I've got the 'chink,' the 'rhino,' the hundred dollars," and George told him the story of what had taken place in the bank but a short half hour before.
John was staggered.
"Git a hundred quick, George. Mr. Tabor will buy on a margin for us."
"Come on. I'll do it," and George hurried back to the bank and sent word in to Mr. Barron that he wanted $100 more of his money.
It was sent out to him, and he and John ran round to Broker Tabor's office. It lacked but ten minutes of three o'clock.
"Mr. Tabor, will you buy on a margin for us?" John asked the broker.
"Hello, Fine!" exclaimed the broker, on seeing George.
"Hello, sir," returned George, seeing he was one of the brokers who had given him the money in Barron's office.
"Yes. What is it you want bought?" the broker asked John.
"B. & H., sir."
"All right; where's your money?"
"Here it is," said George, handing him the money.
"Going into business, eh?"
"Well, what name shall I use?" and Tabor took up his pen to write a receipt for the money.
"Fine & Co.," said John. "I don't know whether Mr. Manson would like to have me do such a thing, so put it that way. It's George's money, too."
The broker laughed, wrote the receipt, and handed it to George, with the remark:
"You will soon learn how easy it is to lose money in Wall Street."
"When a man loses, somebody wins," George replied, and Tabor never forgot the remark, for he had reason to remember it ere he was a year older. The two boys went out and John said, when they reached the sidewalk:
"I've got to go back to the office, but won't have to stay long as it is nearly three o'clock. Come along and wait for me."
George went with him and waited downstairs at the street entrance for him while he was standing there. Manson, whose name had been forged to the check which George had been instrumental in stopping, came down the stairs, accompanied by a tall, white-haired old man.
"Ah! There's the boy now, general," said Manson, on seeing George. "He threw the villain twice and then held him with the revolver till others secured him." "Well, really, my lad," said the general, extending his hand to George. "I honor courage wherever I find it. Shake hands with me. I am glad to know you."
George shook hands with the old man without uttering a word, the meeting taking him quite by surprise. Just as he was going to speak several brokers came up and shook hands with the general, and he was forgotten. In a little while John came down, and the two went away together.
"See here, George," John said, "we must not say a word about this thing. I got the tip in the office, you know."
"Yes, I know."
"At 47 one thousand will get 21 shares." John continued. "Par value is 100. They will try to run it in to that; if they do, we'll make more than $300."
"But if it goes backwards or down instead of up, we won't know what hit us," remarked George.
"That's true. But it's going up," said John, with a good deal of emphasis. "I have seen it done before, and know just how it works."
They walked up to Broadway and turned toward the City Hall. All the newsboys knew them, and, as a late edition of the afternoon papers had an account of the arrest of the forger, in which George's name was mentioned, some of the boys ran to him to ask him about it. The account said nothing about the money that had been given George, so he felt relieved. Of course he had to stop and tell them about it. While he was doing so a man came by and asked:
"Do any of you know a newsboy named George Fine?"
"Yes, I do," replied George very promptly, ere any of the others could do so.
"Where can I find him?"
"Oh, he's around somewhere, He never stops long in one place," and he winked at the boys as he spoke.
They all understood at once that George did not wish them to give him away, and not one would have done so under any circumstances.
"I'd like to give one of you a dollar to find him and point him out to me."
"Show us your dollar and I'll tell you how to find him yourself," said George.
"Here's your money," and the man handed him a dollar bill. George took it and said:
"That cop over there by the Astor House corner is his dad. Just go over there and stand there a while and you'll see him come up to the old man. He meets him there about this time every day."
The man, who seemed to be in earnest, seemed half inclined to doubt what George had told him.
"Is that so, boys?" he asked, appealing to the boys.
"Yes!" the entire crowd sung out.
He turned away and walked over to the Astor House corner.
"What's yer givin' 'im, George?" one of the boys asked.
"Whist!" half whispered George. "He's a pal of that forger and is looking for me to do me up. Come on and we'll eat up this dollar," and he led the way to a fruit stand up beyond the City Hall, where he spent the money the man had given him for bananas for the boys.
"Well, that was the slickest thing I ever saw done," said John. "Why don't you have him arrested and sent to join the other fellow?"
"Got no proof on him."
"You said he was his pal."
"Yes, but I couldn't prove it, only my word for it, that's all. He wants to lay me out for giving the snap away."
"How do you know he does?"
"Do you think he wants to thank me, give me a new suit of clothes and invite me to dine with him at Del's?" and George gave the least tinge of a sneer to his tones as he spoke.
"Well, hardly," John replied, laughing good-naturedly. "It is well enough to know what the fellow wants, though."
George did not reply, and John added:
"He'll find you out, anyway."
"Yes, so he will. Better go back and see what he wants. I'll go with you. He can't do us both up."
"Come on. Let's go and see if he is there," and the two young friends turned and made their way back to the Astor House where they had sent him.