President Castle was a big man or he would not hold the position that was his. He knew when a fight was over. “You win,” he said, tersely. “Name it.”
“Two things. First off I want an agreement with your road, made by a full vote of the board of directors, agreein’ to do jest what this bill pervides—in case of emergencies. And second, I want your folks should handle the bonds of my railroad—construction bonds. Guess I could manage it without, but I need my money for somethin’ else. About two hunderd thousand dollars’ worth of bonds’ll do it.”
Castle shrugged his shoulders—seeing possibilities for the future. However, he knew Scattergood had weighed those possibilities himself.
“Agreed,” he said. There was a moment’s silence. “By the way,” he asked, “what was the idea of the condemnation proceedings against Crane and Keith?”
“Jest a mite of business. With the railroad goin’, I need a good mill up on a site I got below Coldriver. Seems like Crane and Keith got a might timid, and yestiddy they up and sold out that mill to a friend of mine—actin’ for me—for fifty-five thousand dollars. Figger I got it dirt cheap. Wuth close to a hunderd thousand, hain’t it?... I’m goin’ to move it to Coldriver, lock, stock, and barrel.”
“Baines,” said Castle, presently, “the G. and B. will keep hands off your valley. It will be better for us to work together than at odds. Suppose we bury the hatchet and work for each other’s interest.... I’m paid to know a coming man when I see one.”
“Was hopin’ you’d see it that way, Mr. President. I hain’t one that hankers for strife ... not even with Lafe, here, if he can figger he’s willin’ to admit what he’s got to admit.”
“I take my orders from you,” said Lafe.
In which authentic manner Scattergood Baines, in one transaction, made possible and financed his railroad, obtained his first mill, and became undisputed political dictator of his state. Characteristically, there was charged to expense for the whole transaction a sum that a very ordinary man could earn in a week. Scattergood loved cheap results.
HE DEALS IN MATCHMAKING
It is known to all the world that Scattergood came to own the stage line that plied down the valley to the railroad, but minute research and a sifting of dubious testimony was required to unearth the true details of that transaction in which the peg leg of Deacon Pettybone figured in a dominant manner.
Scattergood had long had his eye on the stage line, because his valley, the Coldriver Valley, was dominated by it. Transportation was king, and Scattergood knew that if his vision of developing that valley and of acquiring riches for himself out of the development were ever to become actuality, he must first control the means of transporting passengers and commodities. But the stage line was not to be acquired, because Deacon Pettybone and Elder Hooper, who owned it in partnership, had not been on speaking terms for twenty years. So bitter was the feud that either would have borne cheerfully a loss to prevent the other from making a profit. The stage line was a worry and an annoyance to both of them, but neither of them would sell, because he was afraid his enemy might derive some advantage.