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caution the way outsiders hang around people who are on the inside. The flies get at you when you're covered with honey. Whilst we were driving down Broadway he pumped and pumped; but I was as dumb as a heifer. I made believe there were big things just then under way which we, who were on the inside, didn't want other people to get onto.
Well, when we reached the Street, and he had got the carriage stopped in front of my office, I opened the door and stepped out. In doing so, I contrived
I to bump my hat against the top of the doorway. It was a black felt hat. (I like black felt for a hat. It's so durable. You
several years before it begins to show signs of wear.) My hat fell off, and some pieces of paper
On those pieces of paper I had written what seemed to be orders to my brokers: “Buy 500 Erie, at 68.” “Buy 1,000 at 67.” “Buy 2,000 Erie at the market.' ‘ “Buy 3,000 Erie at 671,” and such-like. Of course, as they spread over the floor of the carriage, he or any one else couldn't help but see what they were, and read them. I made believe I was awfully put out to have the secret given away like that. I made a scramble as though to gather them up before
any one should see them; then I said good-bye and went into
office. I calculated he would most likely act on the hint. And he did. He drove rapidly to his office. He told his crowd of the discovery he had made. “A
big Bulling movement in Erie is on! The old man (that's what they sometimes called me) “is buying Erie! A campaign is under way. Boys, we must get
in on this!” So he bought a block of five thousand shares of Erie. The rest of his crowd followed him. Their combined buying forced Erie up point after point.
That was what I had been looking for. I had been wanting for some time back to find a buyer for some of my surplus stock. Now it was coming my way fine. I immediately dumped onto the market all the Erie it would stand. I succeeded in disposing of a large share of my holdings at the top figure. Then of course the market broke. It sagged four points in the next two days. My broker friend and his crowd were badly caught. He came to me with a face as long as your arm; said how he had been led to believe that there was going to be an upward movement in Erie; he had bought heavily; and now it had all gone to smash. “Uncle, what in the world shall I do?.”
I told him he could do anything he pleased. And I couldn't keep from chuckling at the fine way I had got him to gobble the bait. In fact I always did like a joke. So much so that they got to calling me the “Merry Old Gentleman of Wall Street." They had other names for me, too; such as, “the Speculative Director," "the Big Bear,” “the Old Man of the Street” and so on. Some of these
names I didn't like. But “the Merry Old Gentleman” - I kind of liked that. I believe in being
I merry when
you can. A good chuckle, when you've got a fellow in a tight box and you watch him squirm this way and that, does more good than a dose of medicine.
As to this particular Erie deal, by thus making a market for my shares, I cleaned up a fine profit. That merely shows how an operator, if he is onto the tricks of the trade and has natural ingenuity besides, can make business in a sick market, where a newcomer would have to sit and twiddle his thumbs.
I have always had a natural bent for stock-market dickers. I suppose it's because I have been sort of humble in my manner. That puts people off their guard. (I never was proud, anyhow. People used to say: You couldn't tell from Dan Drew's clothing but what he was a butcher in a Third Avenue shop. But I let them talk. You can't tell a horse by his harness. And I have always thought a man should have more in his pocket than on his back.) I have found a spirit of humility very helpful. It makes the man you're dealing with think he is winding you around his finger; whereas you are the one who is doing the winding.
That's how I got the best of a lawyer friend of mine once.
He was a young fellow. I had him do some legal work for me. He did it. Then he sent in a bill. It seemed an almighty big fee to ask for just
a few months' work. I paid it. But I made up my mind I'd get it back. And I did. I was talking with him not long after. I turned the conversation to Wall Street matters.
"Sonny,” said I, "you won that lawsuit for me, and I've taken a kind of liking to you. I want to help you. We fellows on the inside sometimes know what's going to happen in stock-market affairs before other people. It's my advice to you to take some of your spare cash, all the money you can lay your hands on, in fact, and buy Erie stock.”
He held off. He said that his business was law and not the stock-market. He believed that a shoemaker should stick to his lasts. Fair words made him look to his purse. And such-like. “Now, son,” said I, “do as I say. I knew your
. father. And because of that friendship, I feel a kind of interest in you. I want to see you get a start. You buy Erie. Buy all you can of it, at the present market price. Trust me, you'll never be sorry.” He thought for a while. He said he guessed he'd try the thing for once.
That was what I'd been waiting for. I went out and immediately gave orders to my brokers to sell all the Erie they could. Soon the ticker told me that my brokers were finding a buyer for the Erie they were offering. I thought I could give a pretty shrewd guess as to who was the buyer. I supplied him with all he would take. By the time