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old place.

have to be relieved. We relieved him. I stepped into his shoes. I was back into

my Now, I was ready for work. I started in. There was no time to be lost. Vanderbilt would soon have complete control of Erie unless I blocked him. Already I had Fisk with me as a partner. I needed another man. This other man I found in Jay Gould.

Jay had been worming his way inside of Erie for some time back. He had given up writing histories – had also sold his tannery business out in Pennsylvania. He had come to New York with a patent rat-trap to sell. Then he got into the Street. First along he dealt in small railroads. But when he saw what a bag of money I was making out of Erie he began to invest in its stock. He got in with some of the stock-holders, and by now had become a director himself and one of the powers in the road. I took him now as a partner. He was at the head of a clique in the Board of Directors that I needed in my fight against Vanderbilt. So he and Jim Fisk and I now stood together like three bloodbrothers against the Commodore, our common foe.

Gould was just the criss-cross of Fisk. He was an undersized chap, and quiet as a mouse. I never liked his face. It was dark, and covered all over with whiskers so you could hardly see him. As to Fisk, you couldn't help but like him. Jimmy did me one or two dirty deals before he died. However,

I could take it from him, he was that big and warmhearted in it all. But Jay was so almighty silent. And he wasn't a healthy man, either. He was as lean as a parson's barn. Never seemed to me that he ate enough. Jimmy used to put his purse

into his belly. Jay put his belly into his purse. So that, though he himself was thin, his purse was fat as a porker. Jimmy used to say:

“The difference between Jay and me is, I have more trouble to get my dinner than to digest it, and Jay has more trouble to digest it than to get it."

As I said, I couldn't help but like Fisk, no matter how wicked a man he was; and he was wicked. He was very carnal. The way he used to carry on with women was something scandalous. He used to bring them right down to the office. Didn't make any bones about it. He would drive down in a a barouche with a darkey coachman and four horses, and have two or three ladies of pleasure in the carriage with him. Sometimes we would be in the middle of a hard day's work. A carriage would drive up; a couple of ballet dancers would get out, bounce into the office where we were, trip up to Fisk and

say, “Hello, we've come to spend the day.” I'd look up as much as to say: “You're going to put them out, aren't you?” But he would answer my look and say: “Uncle,

“ I've got a previous engagement with my Sweet-lips here, and this railroad matter will have to wait over

a

until to-morrow.

And this other female charmer here – Mr. Drew, allow me to make you acquainted with the prima donna of “Mazeppa” and “The French Spy.” Then he would send out for a restaurant man, have victuals brought in, and would serve up a banquet to his ballet dancers right in his private office. He wouldn't care what the expense was; and he didn't mind whether he had known the girls before or not. Sometimes they would bring in another girl, one he had never met, and say:

“We've brought Annie along. You must meet her. They all say she's the sassiest queen in town.”

“That's fine,” he would answer; "and she's a lu-lu, too; she shall enjoy the carousal with us. The more the merrier. The world can never have too many girls of the kind that are toyful and cuddlesome.”

I used to scold Jimmy for these wenching bouts of his; but my scoldings didn't count for much.

“That's all right, Uncle,” he'd answer. “You're old and dried up. There's no fire in your veins. But for a gay young buck like me, a little spice in the midst of a hard day's work is needed. I never was one of your Josephs woman-proof.”

So I didn't have much peace of soul with either of these partners of mine. Gould, quiet as a clam; and Fisk, the devil's own.

But both of them were handy in a stock-market dicker; and that was what I needed just now.

The Erie war was rapidly coming on. I had to have partners that could help.

XXIII

W

HEN

you set out to ride a colt, see that your saddle is girt good and tight.

That's what I did now. I didn't want to tackle the Commodore before I had first made good and ready. This is the way I set about it:

At one of the meetings of the Erie Board of Directors I

got the matter of steel rails to take the place of the old and unsafe iron rails acted upon by the Board. Our road, further, was being hurt because it had a six-foot track, whilst the other railroads were being built with only a narrow, that is, the present standard-gauge, track. Their cars couldn't go on our road, nor ours on their road. It had been proposed that the Erie lay a third rail inside the other two rails, in order that narrow-gauge rolling stock could run on the track in the same train, if need be, with our own broad-gauge cars. This, and the steel rails to replace the iron ones, were two such needed improvements that I now made them an excuse for getting the road to issue some new shares of stock. By means of my control of the Executive Committee, I got them to vote to issue ten million dollars of convertible bonds, the proceeds of which

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go into these improvements.

The advantage of convertible bonds was this: There was a provision in the charter forbidding the Erie Road to issue new stock except at par which wouldn't have suited my purpose. Bonds would have been equally useless, seeing they are of no value in stock-exchange dickers. Bonds convertible into stock, however, were just the thing. Because it was only another name for an issue of stock at the market rate...

So now I had one hundred thousand shares of stock at my disposal, whenever I should care to turn the trick. Of course, legally speaking, these shares were not just at my disposal, either; because they were meant as a means of raising money to be put into the improvements and repairs that the road then needed. But all's fair in love and war. And in this particular case I felt that I was more in need of this nine or ten million than the Erie Road was. The road was under my management, because I controlled the Executive Committee, and, therefore, the finances. I felt that I was entitled to a few pickings, as it were. It's an ill cook that can't lick his own fingers. So, instead of using the money to buy steel rails, I had the old iron rails turned, in order to bring the unworn outside edge onto the inside now. Of course, this wasn't altogether as safe as new steel rails would have been. But I

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