Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

on, Captain Cornelius Vanderbilt, who was a spunky fellow, built another boat for the Peekskill route, which he called the Cinderella. We ran each other hard. The result was that my boat lost that season $10,000.

Cornelius met me one day on the wharf, just at the time when our boat was running behind like old Sambo. He was in high spirits. “You'll meddle with my business, will you ?” said he, in a joking

? way. “See here, you drover, let me tell you something. You don't know anything about running boats. You know a good deal about judging cattle. That's your line. Boats is my line. Water transportation is a trade all by itself. You don't understand it. Stick to your steers, Drew, stick to your steers.” That got my dander up.

I
got

in with a man named Jim Smith. We two went up into Putnam and Westchester Counties and stirred things up good and lively. We told the people up there that they had been charged too much 'by Vanderbilt. We asked them to come in and put money into our line, because we were an independent company trying to take the side of the people against the monopoly which had been oppressing them. They flocked into our pen, because this Peekskill route was their main means of communication with New York City. It stood them in hand to build up a competing line. Now we were in shape for business. We had

a

money working capital. We began to slash the rates. We showed the Cinderella what business enterprise was. We kept at it until the fare was a shilling twelve and a half cents a head - from

Peekskill to the city. More than that, we showed the other boat that we were able to keep that game up just as long as they wanted it.

When I met Captain Cornelius the next time, I served him with his own sauce. I said: "Hello,

“ Captain; do

you

think now that I know anything about the steamboat business?"

“Drew," said he — Cornelius was a frank man to own up when he had made a mistake or had misjudged anybody, “I don't think anything about it. I know you do.” Cornelius was very nice to me after that, even sociable-like. He used to come around and call on me. We

got to be good friends. In fact, we got so friendly that Smith and I sold out our boat to Vanderbilt and let him have control of the Peekskill route once more.

We did this without letting the other fellows in our company know. . We were afraid they might put some obstacle in the way if they knew it beforehand. As a matter of fact, when they heard of it they were as mad as a wet hen.

* Because, Drew," said they, “we went in with you and Smith to break up the monopoly and in order to get decent transportation for our region. And now, after putting our hard cash into the thing and providing capital enough to bring the other

[ocr errors]

side to their knees, you skunks up and sell us out you make terms with the enemy behind our backs, and we lose what we put in.

But I had other irons on the anvil. I didn't feel called upon to keep myself back, just in order to provide better transportation for Putnam County farmers. I had my own fortune to make — my own career to carve out. Any fellow, except he's a natural-born fool, will look out for number one first. There were bigger prizes to be got in the Hudson River steamboat business than the Peekskill route. It was these that I was after. The Hudson River

. Association was running a line of boats from New York_to_Albany. Captain Vanderbilt had had a falling out with one of the directors of that association, and had put two rival boats on that route so successfully that he had compelled them to buy him out; he agreeing to withdraw from the boat business on that route for ten years. This left the coast clear. If Vanderbilt, by running competi

, tion boats, could scare them into buying him out at a good figure, I didn't see why I couldn't do the

So I bought two boats, put them on the line to Albany, and ran them in competition with the River Association. This lasted for a year. At the end of that time it turned out as I had expected. The Association took me in with them on a pooling arrangement, my boats sharing the total earnings of the partnership.

same.

[ocr errors]

This lasted a little while, and I was feeling big to be in with the company that was running so big a line of water transportation. By and by I wanted to make still more money. So I hit upon a scheme. While I was still in the Hudson River Association, I put another boat on the route as a competitor. Only, I ran it under the name of another fellow, giving out that he was the owner, so as to keep my own part in the matter hid. Then I cut prices on that independent boat in such a way as to hurt the Association like sixty. Whenever we would hold a directors' meeting of the Association, if they were not already talking about it, I would steer the conversation around to the subject of this rival boat, and ask if something couldn't be done about it. Because, as I showed them, if we allowed that boat to run against us so freely, other fellows would be encouraged also to put boats on, and we would soon be nowheres. Finally I got the directors to pass a resolution to buy up this troublesome rival. And I

got them to appoint me the agent to go and see her owner with our proposition.

“I think I can find him right away,” said I. “His office is only a spit and a stride from here, so to speak.” They said they would hold the meeting until I got back. So I left the room, went out, walked around the block, and came back with my report.

A penny more buys the whistle," said I. “I've

,

seen the owner and he is willing to sell. Only our figure isn't quite high enough. He says he is making money hand over fist. Pretty soon he thinks he will be able to put another boat on. But he doesn't want to be mean. He is willing to sell if we do what he thinks reasonable. If we tack $8,000 more onto the offer, he'll close with

us." Ilyen hengemeinde te cilet in

the

in himself who The directors debated. The boat was hurting us. Anybody could see that. I put a word in now and then, hinting how this pestersome competitor was probably in a position to hurt us still more, unless we got him out of the way right off. Finally we voted to give the $8,000 more which the man had asked. I left them there in the meeting, went out, walked around the block again, came back and said the man had accepted; and if they would make out the papers then and there I would take them over to him and get the deed of sale. I saw from this incident that I could match

my wits against most anybody's. Besides, this $8,000 which I had turned into my pocket out of the company's funds was not only so much clear gain to me, but was so much clear loss to them. So now I became bold as a lion. I saw that this Hudson River route to Albany was making no end of money, and I wanted to own it, hook, line and sinker. So I picked a quarrel with one of my fellow-directors, and started out on a rival line of my own. My Westchester was a good starter in this fight. Still they had the

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »