“It seems to be for you,” he said.
The superintendent read—
Div. Supt. G.&M., Blake City. Tell manager it takes better man than him to tie us up. MACBRIDE & company.
Bannon had nearly an hour to wait for the next train back to Ledyard, but it was not time wasted, for as he paced the smoky waiting room, he arrived at a fairly accurate estimate of the meaning of the general manager’s message.
It was simply a confirmaton of the cautious prediction he had made to Peterson the night before. Why should any one want to hinder the construction of an elevator in Chicago “these days” except to prevent its use for the formal delivery of grain which the buyer did not wish delivered? And why had Page & Company suddenly ordered a million bushel annex? Why had they suddenly become anxious that the elevator should be ready to receive grain before January first, unless they wished to deliver a vast amount of December wheat? Before Bannon’s train came in he understood it all. A clique of speculators had decided to corner wheat, an enterprise nearly enough impossible in any case, but stark madness unless they had many millions at command. It was a long chance, of course, but after all not wonderful that some one in their number was a power in the reorganized G.&M.
Already the immense amount of wheat in Chicago was testing the capacity of the registered warehouses, and plainly, if the Calumet K should be delayed long enough, it might prevent Page & Company from carrying out their contract to deliver two million bushels of the grain, even though it were actually in the cars in Chicago.
Bannon knew much of Page & Company; that dotted all over the vast wheat tracts of Minnesota and Montana were their little receiving elevators where they bought grain of the farmers; that miles of wheat-laden freight cars were already lumbering eastward along the railroad lines of the North. He had a touch of imagination, and something of the enormous momentum of that Northern wheat took possession of him. It would come to Chicago, and he must be ready for it. It would be absurd to be balked by the refusal of a little single-track road up in Michigan to carry a pile of planks.
He paused before the grated window of the ticket and telegraph office and asked for a map. He studied it attentively for a while; then he sent a telegram:—
MACBRIDE & company, Minneapolis: G.&M. R.R. wants to tie us up. Will not furnish cars to carry our cribbing. Can’t get it elsewhere inside of three weeks. Find out if Page will O.K. any bill of extras I send in for bringing it down. If so, can they have one or more steam barges at Manistogee within forty-eight hours? Wire Ledyard Hotel. C. H. Bannon.
It was an hour’s ride back to Ledyard. He went to the hotel and persuaded the head waiter to give him something to eat, although it was long after the dinner hour. As he left the dining room, the clerk handed him two telegrams. One read:—