“Why, not exactly. There was a little friction between me and the master mechanic, so I resigned. I didn’t exactly resign, either,” he added a moment later. “I wired the superintendent to go to hell. It came to the same thing.”
“I worked for a railroad once myself,” said Sloan. “Was a hostler in the roundhouse at Syracuse, New York. I never worked up any higher than that. I had ambitions to be promoted to the presidency, but it didn’t seem very likely, so I gave it up and came West.”
“You made a good thing of it. You seem to own most all Potfawatomie County.”
“I wish you would tell me how to do it. I have worked like an all-the-year-round blast furnace ever since I could creep, and never slighted a job yet, but here I am—can’t call my soul my own. I have saved fifteen thousand dollars, but that ain’t enough to stop with. I don’t see why I don’t own a county too.”
“There’s some luck about it. And then I don’t believe you look very sharp for opportunities. I suppose you are too busy. You’ve got a chance this minute to turn your fifteen thousand to fifty; maybe lot more.”
“I’m afraid I’m too thick-headed to see it.”
“Why, what you found out this morning was the straightest kind of a straight tip on the wheat market for the next two months. A big elevator like yours will be almost decisive. The thing’s right in your own hands. If Page & Company can’t make that delivery, why, fellows who buy wheat now are going to make money.”
“I see,” said Bannon, quickly. “All I’d have to do would be to buy all the wheat I could get trusted for and then hold back the job a little. And while I was at it, I might just as well make a clean job and walk off with the pay roll.” He laughed. “I’d look pretty, wouldn’t I, going to old MacBride with my tail between my legs, telling him that the job was too much for me and I couldn’t get it done on time. He’d look me over and say: ’Bannon, you’re a liar. You’ve never had to lay down yet, and you don’t now. Go back and get that job done before New Year’s or I’ll shoot you.’”
“You don’t want to get rich, that’s the trouble with you,” said Sloan, and he said it almost enviously.
Bannon rode to Manistogee on the first wagon. The barge was there, so the work of loading the cribbing into her began at once. There were numerous interruptions at first, but later in the day the stream of wagons became almost continuous. Farmers living on other than the Manistogee roads came into Ledyard and hurried back to tell their neighbors of the chance to get ahead of the railroad for once. Dennis, who was in charge at the yard, had hard work to keep up with the supply of empty wagons.
Sloan disappeared early in the morning, but at five o’clock Bannon had a telephone message from him. “I’m here at Blake City,” he said, “raising hell. The general manager gets here at nine o’clock tonight to talk with me. They’re feeling nervous about your getting that message. I think you’d better come up here and talk to him.”