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should be handier with rake than with a fork.

Well, the Erie fight was between Vanderbilt and me. I had been the ruling spirit in Erie now for ten years, and had made so much money out of that road that other people got jealous. Part of those ten years was Civil War time. Stocks were bobbing up and down like a boy's kite. I was on the inside and could take advantage of these jumps.

The Civil War was over; Vanderbilt now vowed that he would get control of the Erie Road and put me and my crowd out of business for good and all. He said we were nothing but a nest of gamblers, that we were unsettling the entire market by our speckilations, and that he wouldn't feel safe for his other properties until the Erie Railroad had also been placed in what he called safe hands. So he set out to buy a controlling interest in the stock.

I guess what made him so mad was a “Convertible Bond” scheme that I worked about this time. The Erie Road wanted three million dollars to make some improvements. I loaned her the money, and took as security for the loan three million dollars of bonds which were convertible into stock; and also twenty-eight thousand shares of unissued stock which the road just then had on hand. This provided me in all with fifty-eight thousand shares of stock. Thus fortified — and when the Street didn't know that I held these shares — I went onto the

Exchange and sold Erie heavily short. Erie was then at 95, and promised to go still higher. People reckoned that I was a reckless plunger. The weeks ran along. Pretty soon it came time for me to deliver. The price held strong at 95. My enemies began to snicker. They said I was cornered. But I took the twenty-eight thousand shares I had kept up my sleeve, and dumped them into the market all to once.

It was probably the biggest surprise Wall Street up to that time had known. Prices were knocked into a cocked hat. Erie gave one plunge – fell to 47. Which means, I made the other fellows pay me $95 a share for stock which was costing me now only $47. So I cleaned up $48 on every share dealt in. It was the finest scoop I had ever made. It is true, those 58,000 shares had been intrusted to me only to hold as security until the road should pay back my loan. But in a business deal, you can't stop for

little technicality. Vanderbilt said that sort of thing had to stop. And he was going to be the one to stop it. So he started in. He didn't try to conceal his moves. He let everybody know. He went out in the open market and made his bids. He said that the Erie Road, in spite of all the dirty water — as he called it in its stock, could be made once more into a dividend-earning property; and that it would be worth money to him and to the public generally to make it into a good road once more.

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willing to put his fortune into the attempt. So he gave his brokers unlimited orders. “Buy Erie,” was what he told them. “Buy it at the lowest figure you can; but buy it!” And he swore an awful oath that the moment he got control of the road, there would be such a cleaning out of the Erie stable as it hadn't known for years.

One of his first moves was to get in with a Boston set that owned a large block of the stock — the “Boston, Hartford and Erie" crowd. Almost before I knew it, he had worked up this combination among the directors, so that I was likely to be defeated for reëlection to the Erie Board. I went to the Commodore to soften him down. I said I'd try to do better from now on, if he'd let me stay in the Board. Besides, he needed me, even though maybe I

I wasn't just the kind of an Erie manager that he'd like to have. He thought I was a selfish director; but there was a set of men now getting in who were really and wilfully thievish.

“You think I'm a director who is working only for my own pocket,” said I. “Well, I'll promise from now on to work for the interests of the road. But there is a set of bad men now getting in, who are unregenerate. Commodore, you can't fight them alone. What you need is a partner who is on the inside, and who can, therefore, fight those fellows for you better than you can do it yourself.”

“Yes,” said he, “but where in time could I find such a man?”

“I'm the one,” and I spoke up good and prompt.

He laughed a great big laugh. (Vanderbilt had a hearty way of laughing, as though he wasn't afraid of anything or anybody. He used to poke fun at me — on the occasions when he and I were on good terms — because I didn't laugh a good loud laugh like he did. “Why in thunder, Dan, don't you laugh when you set out to do it,” he used to say, “and quit that hen cackle of yours, which is no nearer a real laugh than one of my old Staten Island periaugers would be to a modern paddle-wheel boat?") He gave one of those laughs of his now.

“That would be a bully good idea!” he said. You are just the fellow to take in as confidential friend and partner. Drew, you're as crooked as a worm fence. You'd betray me inside of twentyfour hours.

“I wouldn't betray you at all,” said I. “I guess I haven't forgotten the time when we used to be friends together in the old steamboat days. Why, back there in that Waterwitch affair

Yes, yes,” said he. “I remember old steamboat days. We have known each other quite a while, haven't we? I don't know but what I might give you one more trial.” He thought for a spell. “Do you really think, Dan, if I took you back, that you could play fair?”


“I don't believe anything about it,” said I. "I know I could. And I'm in a position to do you a whole lot of help.”

“I declare, I believe I'll try it,” said he. “But wait. I gave my promise to put you out.

The Boston crowd wants to get rid of you. And I told them that at this next annual meeting I'd see to it that you were not re-elected.”

“Yes,” said I; “but you can tell them you have changed your

mind.” “That isn't the way I do things,” said he. “A promise is a promise.”

"Well, if that is the way you feel,” I answered, "why not work it this way? We'll go ahead and hold the election. I will be left out. dummy in the place instead of me. Thus you'll be keeping your promise with the Boston crowd. Then, after the election is over, the dummy can resign and I will be appointed in his place.”

“That's certainly a fruitful noddle you've got there, Uncle,” said the Commodore. “I don't just take to that way of getting out of the difficulty. But maybe it's as good as any. We'll call it settled."

The election was held. My name didn't appear in the list of those reëlected to the Board. It looked as though I was out of Erie for good and all. But the next day the dummy resigned said that on further thought he was not able to take it and would

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