In chapter 5 of The Just Men of Cordova (1917) by Edgar Wallace, the author describes an outside broker and financier talking to his friend about their hard financial condition:

Black tossed a letter across to him. “What do you think of that?” he asked. “Here’s a demand from Tangye’s, the brokers, for ten thousand pounds, and a hint that failing its arrival I shall be posted as a defaulter.”

“Pay it,” suggested Sir Isaac languidly, and the other laughed.

“Don’t talk rot,” he said, with offensive good humour. “Where am I going to get ten thousand pounds? I’m nearly broke; you know that, Tramber; we’re both in the same boat. I’ve got two millions on paper, but I don’t think we could raise a couple of hundred ready between us if we tried.”

The baronet pushed back his plate. “I say,” he said abruptly, “you don’t mean what you said?”

“About the money?”

“About the money—yes. You nearly gave me an attack of heart disease. My dear chap, we should be pretty awkwardly fixed if money dried up just now.”

Colonel Black smiled. “That’s just what has happened,” he said. “Fix or no fix, we’re in it. I’m overdrawn in the bank; I’ve got about a hundred pounds in the house, and I suppose you’ve got another hundred.”

“I haven’t a hundred farthings,” said the other.

“Expenses are very heavy,” Black went on; “you know how these things turn up. There are one or two in view, but beyond that we have nothing. If we could bring about the amalgamation of those Northern Foundries we might both sign cheques for a hundred thousand.”

I found by searching that "turn up" = "appear or occur suddenly" and "one or two" = "few", but I don't know what's meant by "these things" and "one or two" of which thing exactly?

1 Answer 1


For an explanation of "these things", the reader needs to remember the description of Colonel Black's line of business from Chapter 2: Colonel Black, Financier:

They [Black and Gram] recommended to their clients certain shares, and the clients bought or sold according to the advice given, and at the end of a certain period of time. Black and Gram wrote politely regretting that the cover deposited had been exhausted, and urgently requesting, with as little delay as possible, the discharge of those liabilities which in some extraordinary fashion the client had incurred. (...) They [the financial lords of the City] read of his mighty stock deals, of his Argentine electric deal, his rubber notations and his Canadian copper mines.

Black recommends his clients to buy shares in mines or companies abroad. These clients don't have the means to check for themselves if those mines or companies can turn out a profit. If these companies create losses (as Black and Gram claim), the clients don't get dividends but need to share in the debt. Black has not been successful in making a lot of money in this way:

He had organized successful combinations, but the cost had been heavy. Millions had flowed through his hands, but precious little had stuck. He was that curious contradiction—a dishonest man with honest methods. His schemes were financially sound, yet it had needed almost superhuman efforts to get them through.

So "these things" refers to "combinations" and other opportunities for making money in the way described above.

  • Thank you so much. That's very reasonable. Nov 11, 2020 at 14:58

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