So ends the first epoch of Scattergood Baines’s career in Coldriver Valley. Here he emerges as a personage. From this point his fame began to spread, and legend grew. Had he not, in two brief years, after arriving with less than fifty dollars as a total capital, acquired a profitable hardware store—donated in the beginning by competitors? Had he not now, for the most part with money wrenched from Crane and Keith by his dummy contracting, been enabled to bid in for ten thousand seven hundred dollars a new property worth nearly four times that much? He was a man into whose band wagon all were eager to clamber.
But Scattergood did not change. He went back to his hardware store and waited—waited for Crane and Keith to start their inevitable logging operations. For in his safe reposed ironclad contracts with those gentlemen, covering the future for a decade, compelling them to pay him sixty cents for every thousand feet of timber that floated down his river. It was a good two years’ work. He could well afford to wait....
Scattergood sat on the porch of his store, in the sunniest spot, twiddling his bare toes.
“The way to make money,” he said to the mountain opposite, “is to let smarter folks ’n you be make it for you ... like I done.”
SCATTERGOOD KICKS UP THE DUST
Scattergood Baines sat on the porch of his hardware store and looked down Coldriver Valley. It was very beautiful, even under the hot summer sun of the second anniversary of Scattergood’s arrival in that part of the world, but he was not seeing it as it was—mountainous, green, with untouched forests, quickened to life and sound by the swift, rushing, splashing downrush of a tireless mountain river. Scattergood saw the valley as he was going to make it, for he was a specialist in valleys.
For years he had searched for an undeveloped valley—for the sort of valley it would be worth his while to take in hand, and two years ago he had found it and invaded it. His equipment for its conquest had been meager—some fifty dollars in money and a head filled from ear to ear and from eyebrows to scalp lock with shrewdness. His progress in twenty-four months had been notable, for he was sole proprietor of a profitable hardware store in Coldriver village, and controlled the upper stretches of Coldriver by virtue of a certain dam and boom company built with other men’s capital for Scattergood’s benefit and behoof.
Now, in the eye of his mind, he could see the whole twenty-odd miles of his valley. Along the left bank, hanging perilously to the slope of the mountain, he saw the rails of a narrow-gauge railroad reaching from Coldriver Valley to the main line that passed the valley’s mouth. He saw sturdy, snorting little engines drawing logs to sawmills of a magnitude not dreamed of by any other man in the locality, and he saw other engines hauling out lumber to the southward.