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Philip Dru: Administrator

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<SPAN name="XV"></SPAN> <h1 align="center" style="margin-top: 2em;font-variant: small-caps">Chapter XV</h1> <h2 align="center" style="margin-top: 2em;font-variant: small-caps">The Exultant Conspirators</h2> <p>It was a strange happening, the way the disclosure was made and the Nation came to know of the Selwyn-Thor conspiracy to control the government.</p> <p>Thor, being without any delicate sense of honor, was in the habit of using a dictagraph to record what was intended to be confidential conversations. He would take these confidential records, clearly mark them, and place them in his private safe within the vault. When the transaction to which they related was closed he destroyed them.</p> <p>The character of the instrument was carefully concealed. It was a part of a massive piece of office furniture, which answered for a table as well. In order to facilitate his correspondence, he often used it for dictating, and no one but Thor knew that it was ever put into commission for other purposes.</p> <p>He had never, but once, had occasion to use a record that related to a private conversation or agreement. Then it concerned a matter involving a large sum, a demand having been made upon him that smacked of blackmail. He arranged a meeting, which his opponent regarded as an indication that he was willing to yield. There were present the contestant, his lawyer, Thor&#8217;s counsel and Thor himself.</p> <p>&#8220;Before discussing the business that is before us,&#8221; said Thor, &#8220;I think you would all enjoy, more or less, a record which I have in my dictagraph, and which I have just listened to with a great deal of pleasure.&#8221;</p> <p>He handed a tube to each and started the machine. It is a pity that Hogarth could not have been present to have painted the several expressions that came upon the faces of those four. A quiet but amused satisfaction beamed from Thor, and his counsel could not conceal a broad smile, but the wretched victim was fairly sick from mortification and defeated avarice. He finally could stand no more and took the tube from his ear, reached for his hat and was gone.</p> <p>Thor had not seen Selwyn for a long time, but one morning, when he was expecting another for whom he had his dictagraph set, Selwyn was announced. He asked him in and gave orders that they were not to be disturbed. When Selwyn had assured himself that they were absolutely alone he told Thor his whole story.</p> <p>It was of absorbing interest, and Thor listened fairly hypnotized by the recital, which at times approached the dramatic. It was the first time that Selwyn had been able to unbosom himself, and he enjoyed the impression he was making upon the great financier. When he told how Rockland had made an effort for freedom and how he brought him back, squirming under his defeat, they laughed joyously.</p> <p>Rich though he was beyond the dreams of avarice, rich as no man had ever before been, Thor could not refrain from a mental calculation of how enormously such a situation advanced his fortune. There was to be no restriction now, he could annihilate and absorb at will. He had grown so powerful that his mental equilibrium was unbalanced upon the question of accretion. He wanted more, he must have more, and now, by the aid of Selwyn, he would have more. He was so exultant that he gave some expression to his thoughts, and Selwyn, cynical as he was, was shocked and began to fear the consequences of his handiwork.</p> <p>He insisted upon Selwyn&#8217;s lunching with him in order to celebrate the triumph of &#8220;their&#8221; plan. Selwyn was amused at the plural. They went to a near-by club and remained for several hours talking of things of general interest, for Selwyn refused to discuss his victory after they had left the protecting walls of Thor&#8217;s office.</p> <p>Thor had forgotten his other engagement, and along with it he forgot the dictagraph that he had set. When he returned to his office he could not recall whether or not he had set the dictagraph. He looked at it, saw that it was not set, but that there was an unused record in it and dismissed it from his mind. He wanted no more business for the day. He desired to get out and walk and think and enjoy the situation. And so he went, a certain unholy joy within his warped and money-soddened heart.</p>
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