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The Financier
by [?]

But I had other pleasures than these. Previously I had regarded the City with awe, but now I felt a glow of possession come over me whenever I approached it. Often in those first two months I used to lean against the Mansion House in a familiar sort of way; once I struck a match against the Royal Exchange. And what an impression of financial acumen I could make in a drawing-room by a careless reference to my “block of Jaguars”! Even those who misunderstood me and thought I spoke of my “flock of jaguars” were startled. Indeed life was very good just then.

But lately things have not been going well. At the beginning of April Jaguars settled down at 1-1/16. Though I stood for hours at the club tape, my hair standing up on end and my eyeballs starting from their sockets, Jaguars still came through steadily at 1-1/16. To give them a chance of doing something, I left them alone for a whole week–with what agony you can imagine. Then I looked again; a whole week and anything might have happened. Pauper or millionaire?–No, still 1-1/16.

Worse was to follow. Editors actually took to leaving out Jaguars altogether. I suppose they were sick of putting 1-1/16 in every edition. But how ridiculous it made my idea seem of watching them go up and down! How blank life became again!

And now what I dreaded most of all has happened. I have received a “Progress Report” from the mine. It gives the “total footage” for the month, special reference being made to “cross-cutting, winzing, and sinking.” The amount of “tons crushed” is announced. There is serious talk of “ore” being “extracted”; indeed there has already been a most alarming “yield in fine gold.” In short, it can no longer be hushed up that the property may at any moment be “placed on a dividend-paying basis.”

Probably I shall be getting a safe five per cent!

“Dash it all,” as I said to my solicitor this morning, “I might just as well have bought a rotten mortgage.”


(Eighteen months later)

It is nearly two years ago that I began speculating in West African mines. You may remember what a stir my entry into the financial world created; how Sir Isaac Isaacstein went mad and shot himself; how Sir Samuel Samuelstein went mad and shot his typist; and how Sir Moses Mosestein went mad and shot his typewriter, permanently damaging the letter “s.” There was panic in the City on that February day in 1912 when I bought Jaguars and set the market rocking.

I bought Jaguars partly for the rise and partly for the thrill. In describing my speculation to you eighteen months ago I dwelt chiefly on the thrill part; I alleged that I wanted to see them go up and down. It would have been more accurate to have said that I wanted to see them go up. It was because I was sure they were going up that, with the united support of my solicitor, my stockbroker, my land agent, my doctor, my architect and my vicar (most of them hired for the occasion), I bought fifty shares in the Jaguar mine of West Africa.

When I bought Jaguars they were at 1–1-1/16. This means that—- No, on second thoughts I won’t. There was a time when, in the pride of my new knowledge, I should have insisted on explaining to you what it meant, but I am getting blase now; besides, you probably know. It is enough that I bought them, and bought them on the distinct understanding from my financial adviser that by the end of the month they would be up to 2. In that case I should have made rather more than forty pounds in a few days, simply by assembling together my solicitor, stockbroker, land-agent, etc., etc., in London, and without going to West Africa at all. A wonderful thought.