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The Oubliette
by [?]

“It’s an old trick–I should say an old and approved method,” said Mr. Medderbrook. “So what I’m going to do, Mr. Gubb, is to let you in on the ground floor on this mine. It’s a chance I wouldn’t offer to everybody. This mine hasn’t paid out all its money in dividends. I tell you as an actual fact, Mr. Gubb, that so far it hasn’t paid out a cent in dividends, not even to the preferred stock. No, sir! And it ain’t one of these mines that has been mined until all the gold is mined out of it. No, sir! Not an ounce of gold has ever been taken out of the Utterly Hopeless Mine. Not an ounce.”

“It is all there yet!” exclaimed Mr. Gubb.

“All there ever was,” said Mr. Medderbrook. “Yes, sir! If you want me to I’ll give you a written guarantee that the Utterly Hopeless Mine has never paid a cent in dividends and that not an ounce of gold has ever been taken out of the mine. That shows you I’m square about this. So what I’m going to do,” he said impressively, “is to turn over to you a block of twenty-five thousand dollars’ worth of Utterly Hopeless Gold-Mine stock and apply the ten thousand dollars I owe you as part of the purchase price. All you need to do then is to pay me the other fifteen thousand dollars as rapidly as you can.”

“That’s very kindly generous of you,” said Mr. Gubb gratefully.

“And that isn’t all,” said Mr. Medderbrook. “I own every single share of the stock of that mine, Mr. Gubb, and as soon as you get the fifteen thousand dollars paid up I’ll advance the price of that stock one hundred per cent! Yes, sir, I’ll double the price of the stock, and what you own will be worth fifty thousand dollars!”

There were tears in Philo Gubb’s eyes as he grasped Mr. Medderbrook’s hand.

“And all I ask,” said Mr. Medderbrook, “is that you hustle up and pay that fifteen thousand dollars as quick as you can. So that,” he added, “you’ll be worth fifty thousand dollars all the sooner.”

Upon reaching Riverbank Mr. Medderbrook took Mr. Gubb to his home and turned over to him the stock in the Utterly Hopeless Mine.

“And here,” said Mr. Medderbrook, “is a receipt for ten thousand five hundred dollars, and you can give me back that five hundred I paid you for recovering of my golf cup. That’s to show you everything is fair and square when you deal with me. Now you owe me only fourteen thousand five hundred dollars.”

While Mr. Gubb was handing the five hundred dollars back to Mr. Medderbrook the colored butler entered with a telegram. Mr. Medderbrook tore it open hastily.

“Good news already,” he said and handed it to Mr. Gubb. It was from Syrilla and said:–

Be brave. Have lost four ounces already. Kind regards and best love to Mr. Gubb.

With only partial satisfaction Mr. Gubb left Mr. Medderbrook and proceeded downtown. He now had a double incentive for seeking the rewards that fall to detectives, for he had Syrilla to win and the Utterly Hopeless Gold-Mine stock to pay for. He started for the Pie-Wagon, for he was hungry, but on the way certain suspicious actions of Joe Henry (the liveryman who had twice beaten him up while he was working on the dynamiter case), stopped him, and it was much later when he entered the Pie-Wagon.

As Philo Gubb entered, Billy Getz sat on one of the stools and stirred his coffee. He held a dime novel with his other hand, reading; but Pie-Wagon Pete kept an eye on him. He knew Billy Getz and his practical jokes. If unwatched for a moment, the young whipper-snapper might empty the salt into the sugar-bowl, or play some other prank that came under his idea of fun.