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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 288 pages of information about The Valley of the Giants.

“We’ll have to fight him in the dark.”

“Why?”

“Because if Pennington knows, or even suspects the identity of the man who is going to parallel his logging railroad, he will throw all the weight of his truly capable mind, his wealth and his ruthlessness against you—­and you will be smashed.  To beat that man, you must do more than spend money.  You will have to outthink him, outwork him, outgame him, and when eventually you have won, you’ll know you’ve been in the fight of your career.  You have one advantage starting out.  The Colonel doesn’t think you have the courage to parallel his road in the first place; in the second place, he knows you haven’t the money; and in the third place he is morally certain you cannot borrow it, because you haven’t any collateral to secure your note.

“We are mortgaged now to the limit, and our floating indebtedness is very large; on the face of things and according to the Colonel’s very correct inside information, we’re helpless; and unless the lumber-market stiffens very materially this year, by the time our hauling-contract with Pennington’s road expires, we’ll be back where we were yesterday before we sold the Giants.  Pennington regards that hundred thousand as get-away money for us.  So, all things considered, the Colonel, will be slow to suspect us of having an ace in the hole; but by jinks we have it, and we’re going to play it.”

“No,” said Bryce, “we’re going to let somebody else play it for us.  The point you make—­to wit, that we must remain absolutely in the background—­is well taken.”

“Very well,” agreed the old man.  “Now let us proceed to the next point.  You must engage some reliable engineer to look over the proposed route of the road and give us an estimate of the cost of construction.”

“For the sake of argument we will consider that done, and that the estimate comes within the scope of the sum Gregory is willing to advance us.”

“Your third step, then, will be to incorporate a railroad company under the laws of the State of California.”

“I think I’ll favour the fair State of New Jersey with our trade,” Bryce suggested dryly.  “I notice that when Pennington bought out the Henderson interests and reorganized that property, he incorporated the Laguna Grande Lumber Company under the laws of the State of New Jersey, home of the trusts.  There must be some advantage connected with such a course.”

“Have it your own way, boy.  What’s good enough for the Colonel is good enough for us.  Now, then, you are going to incorporate a company to build a road twelve miles long—­and a private road, at that.  That would be a fatal step.  Pennington would know somebody was going to build a logging-road, and regardless of who the builders were, he would have to fight them in self-protection.  How are you going to cover your trail, my son?”

Bryce pondered.  “I will, to begin, have a dummy board of directors.  Also, my road cannot be private; it must be a common carrier, and that’s where the shoe pinches.  Common carriers are subject to the rules and regulations of the Railroad Commission.”

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