The story is told of an old-time, domineering railroad official, formerly an army colonel, a great lover of horses, who was intensely prejudiced against the automobile. During the days when carriages were favorite conveyances of the wealthy, this man kept a magnificent stable and boasted that no driver ever passed him on the road. With the coming in of automobiles, he became accustomed to seeing the gasoline-drinking machines flash by. They came up behind him with a honk. They rushed by with a roar and they disappeared in the distance in a cloud of dust. He saw the chauffeurs gripping their steering wheels and glaring intensely along the road.
“Humph!” he scorned, “those fellows work harder than an engineer for their rattlety-bang speed. I had rather sit back and get some pleasure out of riding, as I do behind my bays.”
Then one morning he noticed a car slip by him slowly, noiselessly, easily, and with so little evidence of effort that the old man felt that by urging his horses to just a little faster pace he might have kept ahead. The next morning, the same thing happened again. It was the same car, and this time the old man tightened his reins a little and sent his horses speeding ahead. At first he gained a little on the car, but eventually it pulled slowly and easily away from him. The third morning, there was another little brush of speed on the boulevard. By this time the old railroad man had noticed how luxurious the car was, how smoothly it rolled, how deeply upholstered were the seats, how lustrous and satiny the finish.
Finally, one morning, one of the old man’s horses cast a shoe and the courteous young driver of the automobile, coming along, kindly offered to take the colonel on downtown. The offer was accepted, the team sent to a horseshoer’s in care of the coachman, and the colonel and his new friend drove off still slowly, still quietly, and yet, one by one, they passed other carriages on the road. Finally a trolley car was overtaken and left behind.
“See,” said the young man modestly, “just the pressure of a finger on the throttle.”
“Oh, do you call that a throttle?” asked the railroader. The word was a familiar one to him, and being distinctly of the mechanical type, he was easily interested in machinery. For the remainder of the journey the young man talked quietly, but interestingly of the mechanism of the car, emphasizing the need of skill, steadiness of eye, steadiness of hand, coolness of nerve necessary to drive it. The colonel was deeply interested and, just as the young man deposited him at his destination, he said, “It is possible your horses may not be ready to come for you this evening. If so, I should be delighted to call for you as I go out your way at about the same time you go.” The colonel graciously accepted the invitation and at four o’clock of that same afternoon he was again seated along-side the driver of the car. After they had drawn out of the congested streets onto the wide boulevard, the young man again deftly turned the conversation to the mechanism of the car and the skill necessary for driving it. This was too much for the colonel.