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The Belt Line

From: A Deal In Wheat And Other Stories

On a certain day toward the middle of the month, at a time when the
mysterious Bear had unloaded some eighty thousand bushels upon Hornung,
a conference was held in the library of Hornung's home. His broker
attended it, and also a clean-faced, bright-eyed individual whose name
of Cyrus Ryder might have been found upon the pay-roll of a rather
well-known detective agency. For upward of half an hour after the
conference began the detective spoke, the other two listening
attentively, gravely.

"Then, last of all," concluded Ryder, "I made out I was a hobo, and
began stealing rides on the Belt Line Railroad. Know the road? It just
circles Chicago. Truslow owns it. Yes? Well, then I began to catch on. I
noticed that cars of certain numbers--thirty-one nought thirty-four,
thirty-two one ninety--well, the numbers don't matter, but anyhow, these
cars were always switched onto the sidings by Mr. Truslow's main
elevator D soon as they came in. The wheat was shunted in, and they were
pulled out again. Well, I spotted one car and stole a ride on her. Say,
look here, that car went right around the city on the Belt, and came
back to D again, and the same wheat in her all the time. The grain was
reinspected--it was raw, I tell you--and the warehouse receipts made out
just as though the stuff had come in from Kansas or Iowa."

"The same wheat all the time!" interrupted Hornung.

"The same wheat--your wheat, that you sold to Truslow."

"Great snakes!" ejaculated Hornung's broker. "Truslow never took it
abroad at all."

"Took it abroad! Say, he's just been running it around Chicago, like the
supers in 'Shenandoah,' round an' round, so you'd think it was a new
lot, an' selling it back to you again."

"No wonder we couldn't account for so much wheat."

"Bought it from us at one-ten, and made us buy it back--our own
wheat--at one-fifty."

Hornung and his broker looked at each other in silence for a moment.
Then all at once Hornung struck the arm of his chair with his fist and
exploded in a roar of laughter. The broker stared for one bewildered
moment, then followed his example.

"Sold! Sold!" shouted Hornung almost gleefully. "Upon my soul it's as
good as a Gilbert and Sullivan show. And we--Oh, Lord! Billy, shake on
it, and hats off to my distinguished friend, Truslow. He'll be President
some day. Hey! What? Prosecute him? Not I."

"He's done us out of a neat hatful of dollars for all that," observed
the broker, suddenly grave.

"Billy, it's worth the price."

"We've got to make it up somehow."

"Well, tell you what. We were going to boost the price to one
seventy-five next week, and make that our settlement figure."

"Can't do it now. Can't afford it."

"No. Here; we'll let out a big link; we'll put wheat at two dollars, and
let it go at that."

"Two it is, then," said the broker.

Next: The Bread Line

Previous: The Pit

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