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The Desired Woman   By: (1858-1919)

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Juliet Sutherland, Charles Franks and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.



Author of "Dixie Hart," "Pole Baker," "The Redemption of Kenneth Galt," Etc.






Inside the bank that June morning the clerks and accountants on their high stools were bent over their ponderous ledgers, although it was several minutes before the opening hour. The gray stone building was in Atlanta's most central part on a narrow street paved with asphalt which sloped down from one of the main thoroughfares to the section occupied by the old passenger depot, the railway warehouses, and hotels of various grades. Considerable noise, despite the closed windows and doors, came in from the outside. Locomotive bells slowly swung and clanged; steam was escaping; cabs, drays, and trucks rumbled and creaked along; there was a whir of a street sweeping machine turning a corner and the shrill cries of newsboys selling the morning papers.

Jarvis Saunders, member of the firm of Mostyn, Saunders & Co., bankers and brokers, came in; and, hanging his straw hat up, he seated himself at his desk, which the negro porter had put in order.

"I say, Wright" he addressed the bald, stocky, middle aged man who, at the paying teller's window, was sponging his fat fingers and counting and labeling packages of currency "what is this about Mostyn feeling badly?"

"So that's got out already?" Wright replied in surprise, as he approached and leaned on the rolling top of the desk. "He cautioned us all not to mention it. You know what a queer, sensitive sort of man he is where his health or business is concerned."

"Oh, it is not public," Saunders replied. "I happened to meet Dr. Loyd on the corner. He had just started to explain more fully when a patient stopped to speak to him, and so I didn't wait, as he said Mostyn was here."

"Yes, he's in his office now." Wright nodded toward the frosted glass door in the rear. "He was lying on the lounge when I left him just now. It is really nothing serious. The doctor says it is only due to loss of sleep and excessive mental strain, and that a few weeks' rest in some quiet place will straighten him out."

"Well, I'm glad it is not serious," Saunders said. "I have seen him break down before. He is too intense, too strenuous; whatever he does he does with every nerve in his body drawn as taut as a fiddle string."

"It is his outside operations, his private deals," the teller went on, in a more confidential tone. "Why, it makes me nervous even to watch him. He's been keyed high for the last week. You know, I'm an early riser, and I come down before any one else to get my work up. I found him here this morning at half past seven. He was as nervous as a man about to be hanged. He couldn't sit or stand still a minute. He was waiting for a telegram from Augusta concerning Warner & Co. I remember how you advised him against that deal. Well, I guess if it had gone against him it would have ruined him."

The banker nodded. "Yes, that was foolhardy, and he seemed to me to be going into it blindfolded. He realized the danger afterward. He admitted it to me last night at the club. He said that he was sorry he had not taken my advice. He was afraid, too, that Delbridge would get on to it and laugh at him."

"Delbridge is too shrewd to tackle a risk like that," Wright returned. He glanced about the room cautiously, and then added: "I don't know as I have any right to be talking about Mostyn's affairs even to you, but I am pretty sure that he got good news. He didn't show me the telegram when it came, but I watched his face as he read it. I saw his eyes flash; he smiled at me, walked toward his office with a light step, as he always does when he's lucky, and then he swayed sideways and keeled over in a dead faint. The porter and I picked him up, carried him to his lounge, and sprinkled water in his face... Continue reading book >>

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