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- Oh, Money! Money! - 3/52 -
"Nice distinctive name!"
"I chose a colorless one on purpose. I'm going to be a colorless person, you see."
"Oh! And--er--do you think Mr. Stanley G. Fulton, multi-millionaire, with his pictured face in half the papers and magazines from the Atlantic to the Pacific, CAN hide that face behind a colorless John Smith?"
"Maybe not. But he can hide it behind a nice little close-cropped beard." The millionaire stroked his smooth chin reflectively.
"Humph! How large is Hillerton?"
"Eight or ten thousand. Nice little New England town, I'm told."
"Hm-m. And your--er--business in Hillerton, that will enable you to be the observing fly on your cousins' walls?"
"Yes, I've thought that all out, too; and that's another brilliant stroke. I'm going to be a genealogist. I'm going to be at work tracing the Blaisdell family--their name is Blaisdell. I'm writing a book which necessitates the collection of an endless amount of data. Now how about that fly's chances of observation. Eh?"
"Mighty poor, if he's swatted--and that's what he will be! New England housewives are death on flies, I understand."
"Well, I'll risk this one."
"You poor fellow!" There were exasperation and amusement in the lawyer's eyes, but there was only mock sympathy in his voice. "And to think I've known you all these years, and never, suspected it, Fulton!"
The man who owned twenty millions still smiled imperturbably.
"Oh, yes, I know what you mean, but I'm not crazy. And really I'm interested in genealogy, too, and I've been thinking for some time I'd go digging about the roots of my ancestral tree. I have dug a little, in years gone. My mother was a Blaisdell, you know. Her grandfather was brother to some ancestor of these Hillerton Blaisdells; and I really am interested in collecting Blaisdell data. So that's all straight. I shall be telling no fibs. And think of the opportunity it gives me! Besides, I shall try to board with one of them. I've decided that."
"Upon my word, a pretty little scheme!"
"Yes, I knew you'd appreciate it, the more you thought about it." Mr. Stanley G. Fulton's blue eyes twinkled a little.
With a disdainful gesture the lawyer brushed this aside.
"Do you mind telling me how you happened to think of it, yourself?"
"Not a bit. 'Twas a little booklet got out by a Trust Company."
"It sounds like it!"
"Oh, they didn't suggest exactly this, I'll admit; but they did suggest that, if you were fearful as to the way your heirs would handle their inheritance, you could create a trust fund for their benefit while you were living, and then watch the way the beneficiaries spent the income, as well as the way the trust fund itself was managed. In this way you could observe the effects of your gifts, and at the same time be able to change them if you didn't like results. That gave me an idea. I've just developed it. That's all. I'm going to make my cousins a little rich, and see which, if any of them, can stand being very rich."
"But the money, man! How are you going to drop a hundred thousand dollars into three men's laps, and expect to get away without an investigation as to the why and wherefore of such a singular proceeding?"
"That's where your part comes in," smiled the millionaire blandly. "Besides, to be accurate, one of the laps is--er--a petticoat one."
"Oh, indeed! So much the worse, maybe. But--And so this is where I come in, is it? Well, and suppose I refuse to come in?"
"Regretfully I shall have to employ another attorney."
"But you won't refuse." The blue eyes opposite were still twinkling. "In the first place, you're my good friend--my best friend. You wouldn't be seen letting me start off on a wild-goose chase like this without your guiding hand at the helm to see that I didn't come a cropper."
"Aren't you getting your metaphors a trifle mixed?" This time the lawyer's eyes were twinkling.
"Eh? What? Well, maybe. But I reckon you get my meaning. Besides, what I want you to do is a mere routine of regular business, with you."
"It sounds like it. Routine, indeed!"
"But it is--your part. Listen. I'm off for South America, say, on an exploring tour. In your charge I leave certain papers with instructions that on the first day of the sixth month of my absence (I being unheard from), you are to open a certain envelope and act according to instructions within. Simplest thing in the world, man. Now isn't it?"
"Oh, very simple--as you put it."
"Well, meanwhile I'll start for South America--alone, of course; and, so far as you're concerned, that ends it. If on the way, somewhere, I determine suddenly on a change of destination, that is none of your affair. If, say in a month or two, a quiet, inoffensive gentleman by the name of Smith arrives in Hillerton on the legitimate and perfectly respectable business of looking up a family pedigree, that also is none of your concern." With a sudden laugh the lawyer fell back in his chair.
"By Jove, Fulton, if I don't believe you'll pull this absurd thing off!"
"There! Now you're talking like a sensible man, and we can get somewhere. Of course I'll pull it off! Now here's my plan. In order best to judge how my esteemed relatives conduct themselves under the sudden accession of wealth, I must see them first without it, of course. Hence, I plan to be in Hillerton some months before your letter and the money arrive. I intend, indeed, to be on the friendliest terms with every Blaisdell in Hillerton before that times comes."
"But can you? Will they accept you without references or introduction?"
"Oh, I shall have the best of references and introductions. Bob Chalmers is the president of a bank there. Remember Bob? Well, I shall take John Smith in and introduce him to Bob some day. After that, Bob'll introduce John Smith? See? All I need is a letter as to my integrity and respectability, I reckon, so my kinsmen won't suspect me of designs on their spoons when I ask to board with them. You see, I'm a quiet, retiring gentleman, and I don't like noisy hotels."
With an explosive chuckle the lawyer clapped his knee. "Fulton, this is absolutely the richest thing I ever heard of! I'd give a farm to be a fly on YOUR wall and see you do it. I'm blest if I don't think I'll go to Hillerton myself--to see Bob. By George, I will go and see Bob!"
"Of course," agreed the other serenely. "Why not? Besides, it will be the most natural thing in the world--business, you know. In fact, I should think you really ought to go, in connection with the bequests."
"Why, to be sure." The lawyer frowned thoughtfully. "How much are you going to give them?"
"Oh, a hundred thousand apiece, I reckon."
"That ought to do--for pin money."
"Oh, well, I want them to have enough, you know, for it to be a real test of what they would do with wealth. And it must be cash--no securities. I want them to do their own investing."
"But how are you going to fix it? What excuse are you going to give for dropping a hundred thousand into their laps like that? You can't tell your real purpose, naturally! You'd defeat your own ends."
"That part we'll have to fix up in the letter of instructions. I think we can. I've got a scheme."
"I'll warrant you have! I'll believe anything of you now. But what are you going to do afterward--when you've found out what you want to know, I mean? Won't it be something of a shock, when John Smith turns into Mr. Stanley G. Fulton? Have you thought of that?"
"Y-yes, I've thought of that, and I will confess my ideas are a little hazy, in spots. But I'm not worrying. Time enough to think of that part. Roughly, my plan is this now. There'll be two letters of instructions: one to open in six months, the other to be opened in, say, a couple of years, or so. (I want to give myself plenty of time for my observations, you see.) The second letter will really give you final instructions as to the settling of my estate--my will. I'll have to make some sort of one, I suppose."
"But, good Heavens, Stanley, you--you--" the lawyer came to a helpless pause. His eyes were startled.
"Oh, that's just for emergency, of course, in case anything--er-- happened. What I really intend is that long before the second letter of instructions is due to be opened, Mr. Stanley G. Fulton will come back from his South American explorations. He'll then be in a position to settle his affairs to suit himself, and--er--make a new will. Understand?"
"Oh, I see. But--there's John Smith? How about Smith?"
The millionaire smiled musingly, and stroked his chin again.
"Smith? Oh! Well, Smith will have finished collecting Blaisdell data, of course, and will be off to parts unknown. We don't have to trouble
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