Read CHAPTER XXVII of Frenzied Finance Vol. 1: The Crime of Amalgamated , free online book, by Thomas W. Lawson, on ReadCentral.com.

COURT CORRUPTION AND COIN

The closing scene of this most significant drama was enacted on Saturday morning in the Wilmington Circuit Court-room. There was nothing in the cold formality of the proceedings to indicate that here was the denouement of a serio-comedy in which greed and ambition had clashed in a battle for millions; nor in the amiable indifference of the men who got within the enclosed space below the judge’s desk to suggest the murderous passions and fierce hatreds raging beneath the surface of the prevailing calm.

The dramatis personae were gathered in little groups representing the separate interests Addicks and some of his lieutenants; my partner at the telephone; John Moore’s partner and Rogers’ counsel with their heads together; Braman and Foster nearer the judge, their eyes wandering toward two dress-suit cases piled before John Moore’s partner, which, it was understood, contained the money. At a glance it was impossible to tell the one containing Buchanan’s share from the other laden with the receivership loot, but each was tagged, and it was evident that possibilities of a mix-up had been carefully guarded against. Behind Braman was his clerk, and in the rear of the court-room sat as many of Addicks’ thugs as could squeeze into the narrow space reserved for spectators. They, too, eyed the dress-suit cases avidly, for the information had been passed around that these innocent receptacles contained the “stuff,” of which the “Boss” was about to be robbed.

Court came to order. Foster rose, announced that the claims of his client had been satisfied, and made a formal motion to dismiss the receivership. The Court formally consented, and as the clerk was entering the dismissal in his minute-book my partner telephoned the facts to me. I sent back the word that my directors were resigning had resigned that Rogers’ directors were being elected had been elected that the Boston gas companies were now transferred to Rogers. My partner whispered my words to John Moore’s partner and Rogers’ counsel. At once the two dress-suit cases, each loaded with currency, were slipped to Braman and Foster. At the same time the messenger who was to telephone to their broker rose and quickly left the court-room. A brief period was consumed in signing receipts, certificates, and other legal papers, and then the performance was over. Addicks rose and went out among his henchmen in the rear, who eagerly surrounded him. In the bustle Braman and Foster, each with his own booty, fled.

Let us see what was happening at the Boston end of the wire while all this dumb show was being enacted in the Wilmington court-house. My directors and officials were lined up against the walls of the directors’ room in the Boston Gas Light Company’s office like so many members of young John D. Rockefeller’s Sunday-school class, inasmuch as they were prepared to listen, sing, or shout “Amen!” at any time they received the nod of the class-leader. In an adjoining room Rogers’ counsel had a similar line-up, with the difference that my men were about to shed the crowns which the others were waiting to receive, and which would transform them from humble business men into royal gas kings. Through the open wire I was in such close touch with the scene in the Wilmington court-room that I was almost sure I heard the subdued weeping of the blindfolded Lady of the Scales on the bills which occupied such a prominent part in the disreputable proceedings. Nothing now could impede the course of events, so I concluded to take Time by the headgear and secure what Bay State stock was in the market before Braman and Foster got in their work. Over another wire which was at my elbow I gave the word “go!” to my own brokers in Boston and New York, and when a few minutes later they told me they were securing thousands of shares, and that the stock was climbing toward 10, I could not repress an inward chuckle at the thought that the money we had so reluctantly parted with would spread over only one-half or one-third the surface it was originally intended to cover.

It was all over in a few minutes, and when my partner said, “It’s done,” and “By Jove, there go Dwight Braman and Roger Foster on the dead run with a dress-suit case apiece!” I held my sides as Parker Chandler in his inimitable way bawled: “Tom, let’s leave our straw hats on the pegs, for we’ll probably be back next spring figuring out how to pump air enough through the gas-measuring meters to pay for that money we’ve just loaned Braman and Foster for a day or two.”

Braman and Foster, as I have observed before, knew their business. The danger to which $175,000 in currency would be exposed, in a territory controlled by Addicks, had appealed to their cautious instincts, and once outside the court-room they literally took to their heels and ran for a corner of the railway yard, where awaiting them was a special car and engine. They jumped aboard, yelling to the engineer: “Let her go.” In the meantime eager-eyed ruffians searched the streets and hung round the hotels, looking for two men with dress-suit cases. A hundred of them were on the station platform, awaiting the departure of the regular train. Ten minutes before leaving-time one of the henchmen appeared among the gang, and passed round the word that the gents and the “stuff” had got off by a special, and it was no use waiting any longer. Later that afternoon, Addicks, to use his own words, in one of his rendezvous, “dealt out his own good money in place of that he had hoped would take care of the people’s rights.”

It was a fierce session of the Stock Exchange that Saturday morning. Shortly before closing time a new set of brokers were frantically grabbing for Bay State stock round 10, and Monday morning, when all the world knew that the receivership had been lifted and our company was itself again, the same crowd continued to buy fiercely. To these eager purchasers I resold all that I had previously gathered, and enough short besides, to compensate me for some of the losses I had previously suffered, for this latter I was enabled to repurchase at half price, when news came that another suit had begun against Bay State. This latter drop in price so shattered the nerves of Braman and Foster that they retired, having made up their minds that they did not know quite as much about one end of “frenzied finance” as they did about the other. As a matter of fact, nothing came of the suit in question, for it was evident when the transfer of the Boston gas companies to Rogers’ control became known, that Bay State Gas receiverships had played their last successful engagement.

My readers will not object if I again call their attention to the inevitable workings of the law of compensation. The losses occasioned by the market action of Bay State stock in these four days so mixed up Braman and Foster in their financial accounts that later they were sued by their client, Buchanan, who in court stated that he in turn was so confused as to what was done in connection with this business that he really knew less after it was over than before the suits were brought. But one thing was indelibly impressed upon his mind that his bonds had disappeared in the whirl and he had not received anything for them. I think this suit is still pending.