At first Harris found great difficulty in convincing railway managers that the steel rail would render enough more service to compensate for the additional cost. The most anybody could say in favor of the steel rail was largely theoretical. The Bessemer steel rail had had only a few months of actual service, long enough, however, to demonstrate that at the joints it would not batter and splinter like the iron rail. This was, indeed, a desideratum and many orders came in. Not only was the steel mill kept running day and night, but orders accumulated so rapidly that large additions were made to the mills.
Money for all these improvements and the capital necessary to carry on the increasing business were matters of vital importance to the success of the company. To manage a business with greatest advantage quite as much ready cash is needed as is invested in the plant, otherwise the banker’s discount becomes a heavy lien on the profits, and the stockholders grumble at small dividends.
Possibly Reuben Harris overestimated the value of his service in financiering the business; at least he came to believe that he earned, and ought to have a larger interest than James Ingram. Ingram, became so cramped by assessments and money obligations that he was obliged to sell to Harris most of his interest in the steel plant. Harris’s interests increased, till practically he was the owner of the Harrisville Iron & Steel Works, and much property besides. He was quoted as a millionaire, while James Ingram was superintendent of only a department of the steel works, and his income was nominal. Often he felt that great injustice had been done him. Several times he had talked the matter over with Colonel Harris, but with little satisfaction.
The great wrong done to James Ingram, to whom Harris was so largely indebted for the initial and practical knowledge of successfully manufacturing steel rails was uppermost in Reuben Harris’s mind as the express hurried him back to Harrisville.
CAPITAL AND LABOR IN CONFERENCE
Colonel Harris’s awakened conscience was considering seriously the question, “How can I right this wrong done to Ingram?” when the Express stopped at a station thirty miles out of Harrisville, and into his car came the son of James Ingram, George Ingram who was now superintendent of the Harrisville Iron & Steel Co.’s plant. Somebody, perhaps Gertrude, had telegraphed from Buffalo to the superintendent to tell him on which train Colonel Harris expected to return.