The Way We Live Now HTML version

Mr Fisker's Success
Mr Fisker was fully satisfied with the progress he had made, but he never quite succeeded
in reconciling Paul Montague to the whole transaction. Mr Melmotte was indeed so great
a reality, such a fact in the commercial world of London, that it was no longer possible
for such a one as Montague to refuse to believe in the scheme. Melmotte had the
telegraph at his command, and had been able to make as close inquiries as though San
Francisco and Salt Lake City had been suburbs of London. He was chairman of the
British branch of the Company, and had had shares allocated to him or, as he said, to the
house to the extent of two millions of dollars. But still there was a feeling of doubt, and a
consciousness that Melmotte, though a tower of strength, was thought by many to have
been built upon the sands.
Paul had now of course given his full authority to the work, much in opposition to the
advice of his old friend Roger Carbury and had come up to live in town, that he might
personally attend to the affairs of the great railway. There was an office just behind the
Exchange, with two or three clerks and a secretary, the latter position being held by Miles
Grendall, Esq. Paul, who had a conscience in the matter and was keenly alive to the fact
that he was not only a director but was also one of the firm of Fisker, Montague, and
Montague which was responsible for the whole affair, was grievously anxious to be really
at work, and would attend most inopportunely at the Company's offices. Fisker, who still
lingered in London, did his best to put a stop to this folly, and on more than one occasion
somewhat snubbed his partner. 'My dear fellow, what's the use of your flurrying yourself?
In a thing of this kind, when it has once been set agoing, there is nothing else to do. You
may have to work your fingers off before you can make it move, and then fail. But all
that has been done for you. If you go there on the Thursdays that's quite as much as you
need do. You don't suppose that such a man as Melmotte would put up with any real
interference.' Paul endeavoured to assert himself, declaring that as one of the managers he
meant to take a part in the management that his fortune, such as it was, had been
embarked in the matter, and was as important to him as was Mr Melmotte's fortune to Mr
Melmotte. But Fisker got the better of him and put him down. 'Fortune! what fortune had
either of us? a few beggarly thousands of dollars not worth talking of, and barely
sufficient to enable a man to look at an enterprise. And now where are you? look here, sir
there's more to be got out of the smashing-up of such an affair as this, if it should smash
up, than could, be made by years of hard work out of such fortunes as yours and mine in
the regular way of trade.'
Paul Montague certainly did not love Mr Fisker personally, nor did he relish his
commercial doctrines but he allowed himself to be carried away by them. 'When and how
was I to have helped myself?' he wrote to Roger Carbury. 'The money had been raised
and spent before this man came here at all. It's all very well to say that he had no right to
do it; but he had done it. I couldn't even have gone to law with him without going over to
California, and then I should have got no redress.' Through it all he disliked Fisker, and
yet Fisker had one great merit which certainly recommended itself warmly to Montague's
appreciation. Though he denied the propriety of Paul's interference in the business, he