I’ve forgotten what the Riverside Franchise cost. The sum was paid in a lump sum to Mr. Bitter as his “fee,”—so, to their chagrin, a grand jury discovered in later years, when they were barking around Mr. Jason’s hole with an eager district attorney snapping his whip over them. I remember the cartoon. The municipal geese were gone, but it was impossible to prove that this particular fox had used his enlightened reason in their procurement. Mr. Bitter was a legally authorized fox, and could take fees. How Mr. Jason was to be rewarded by the land company’s left-hand, unknown, to the land company’s right hand, became a problem worthy of a genius. The genius was found, but modesty forbids me to mention his name, and the problem was solved, to wit: the land company bought a piece of downtown property from—Mr. Ryerson, who was Mr. Grierson’s real estate man and the agent for the land company, for a consideration of thirty thousand dollars. An unconfirmed rumour had it that Mr. Ryerson turned over the thirty thousand to Mr. Jason. Then the Riverside Company issued a secret deed of the same property back to Mr. Ryerson, and this deed was not recorded until some years later.
Such are the elaborate transactions progress and prosperity demand. Nature is the great teacher, and we know that her ways are at times complicated and clumsy. Likewise, under the “natural” laws of economics, new enterprises are not born without travail, without the aid of legal physicians well versed in financial obstetrics. One hundred and fifty to two hundred thousand, let us say, for the right to build tracks on Maplewood Avenue, and we sold nearly two million dollars worth of the securities back to the public whose aldermen had sold us the franchise. Is there a man so dead as not to feel a thrill at this achievement? And let no one who declares that literary talent and imagination are nonexistent in America pronounce final judgment until he reads that prospectus, in which was combined the best of realism and symbolism, for the labours of Alonzo Cheyne were not to be wasted, after all. Mr. Dickinson, who was a director in the Maplewood line, got a handsome underwriting percentage, and Mr. Berringer, also a director, on the bonds and preferred stock he sold. Mr. Paret, who entered both companies on the ground floor, likewise got fees. Everybody was satisfied except the trouble makers, who were ignored. In short, the episode of the Riverside Franchise is a triumphant proof of the contention that business men are the best fitted to conduct the politics of their country.
We had learned to pursue our happiness in packs, we knew that the Happy Hunting-Grounds are here and now, while the Reverend Carey Heddon continued to assure the maimed, the halt and the blind that their kingdom was not of this world, that their time was coming later. Could there have been a more idyl arrangement! Everybody should have been satisfied, but everybody was not. Otherwise these pages would never have been written.