From: Ridgway Of Montana
While Harley had been in no way responsible for Pelton's murderous attack
upon Yesler, public opinion held him to account. The Pinkertons who had, up
till this time, been employed at the mines, were now moved to the hotel to
be ready for an emergency. A special train was held in readiness to take
the New Yorker out of the State in the event that the stockman should die.
Meanwhile, the harassing attacks of Ridgway continued. Through another
judge than Purcell, the absurd injunction against working the Diamond King,
the Mary K, and the Marcus Daly had been dissolved, but even this advantage
had been neutralized by the necessity of giving back to the enemy the
Taurus and the New York, of which he had just possessed himself. All his
life he had kept a wheather-eye upon the impulsive and fickle public. There
were times when its feeling could be abused with impunity, and other times
when this must be respected. Reluctantly, Harley gave the word for the
withdrawal of his men from the territory gained. Ridgway pushed his
advantage home and secured an injunction, not only against the working, but
against the inspection of the Copper King and the Jim Hill. The result of
the Consolidated move had been in effect to turn over, temporarily, its two
rich mines to be looted by the pirate, and to make him very much stronger
than before with his allies, the unions. By his own imprudence, Harley had
made a bad situation worse, and delivered himself, with his hands tied,
into the power of the enemy.
In the days of turmoil that followed, Waring Ridgway's telling blows scored
once and again. The morning after the explosion, he started a relief fund
in his paper, the Sun, for the families of the dead miners, contributing
two thousand dollars himself. He also insisted that the Consolidated pay
damages to the bereaved families to the extent of twenty thousand dollars
for each man killed. The town rang with his praises. Mesa had always been
proud of his success; had liked the democratic spirit of him that led him
to mix on apparently equal terms with his working men, and had backed him
in his opposition to the trust because his plucky and unscrupulous fight
had been, in a measure, its fight. But now it idolized him. He was the
buffer between it and the trust, fighting the battles of labor against the
great octopus of Broadway, and beating it to a standstill. He was the Moses
destined to lead the working man out of the Egypt of his discontent. Had he
not maintained the standard of wages and forced the Consolidated to do the
same? Had he not declared an eight-hour day, and was not the trust almost
ready to do this also, forced by the impetus his example had given the
unions? So Ridgway's agents whispered, and the union leaders, whom he had
bought, took up the burden of their tale and preached it both in private
talk and in their speeches.
In an attempt to stem the rising tide of denunciation that was spreading
from Mesa to the country at large, Harley announced an eight hour day and
an immense banquet to all the Consolidated employees in celebration of the
occasion. Ten thousand men sat down to the long tables, but when one of the
speakers injudiciously mentioned the name of Ridgway, there was steady
cheering for ten minutes. It was quite plain that the miners gave him the
credit for having forced the Consolidated to the eight-hour day.
The verdict of the coroner's jury was that Vance Edwards and the other
deceased miners had come to their death at the hands of the foreman,
Michael Donleavy, at the instigation of Simon Harley. True bills were at
once drawn up by the prosecuting attorney of Mesa County, an official
elected by Ridgway, charging Harley and Donleavy with conspiracy, resulting
in the murder of Vance Edwards. The billionaire furnished bail for himself
and foreman, treating the indictments merely as part of the attacks of the
The tragedy in the Taurus brought to the surface a bitterness that had
hitherto not been apparent in the contest between the rival copper
interests. The lines of division became more sharply drawn, and every
business man in Mesa was forced to declare himself on one side or the
other. Harley scattered detectives broadcast and imported five hundred
Pinkertons to meet any emergency that might arise. The spies of the
Consolidated were everywhere, gathering evidence against the Mesa
Ore-producing Company, its conduct of the senatorial campaign, its judges,
and its supporters Criminal indictments flew back and forth thick as
snowflakes in a Christmas storm.
It began to be noticed that an occasional foreman, superintendent, or
mining engineer was slipping from the employ of Ridgway to that of the
trust, carrying secrets and evidence that would be invaluable later in the
courts. Everywhere the money of the Consolidated, scattered lavishly where
it would do the most good, attempted to sap the loyalty of the followers of
the other candidates. Even Eaton was approached with the offer of a bribe.
But Ridgway's potent personality had built up an esprit de corps not
easily to be broken. The adventurers gathered to his side were, for the
most part, bound to him by ties personal in their nature. They were
financial fillibusters, pledged to stand or fall together, with an interest
in their predatory leader's success that was not entirely measurable in
dollars and cents. Nor was that leader the man to allow the organization he
had builded with such care to become disintegrated while he slept. His
alert eye and cheery smile were everywhere, instilling confidence in such
as faltered, and dread in those contemplating defection.
He harassed his rival with an audacity that was almost devilish in its
unexpected ingenuity. For the first time in his life Simon Harley, the town
back on the defensive by a combination of circumstances engineered by a
master brain, knew what it was to be checkmated. He had hot the least doubt
of ultimate victory, but the tentative success of the brazen young
adventurer, were gall and wormwood to his soul. He had made money his god,
had always believed it would buy anything worth while except life, but this
Western buccaneer had taught him it could not purchase the love of a woman
nor the immediate defeat of a man so well armed as Waring Ridgway. In
truth, though Harley stuck at nothing, his success in accomplishing the
destruction of this thorn in his side was no more appreciable than had been
that of Hobart. The Westerner held his own and more, the while he robbed
the great trust of its ore under cover of the courts.
In the flush of success, Ridgway, through his lieutenant, Eaton, came to
Judge Purcell asking that a receiver be appointed for the Consolidated
Supply Company, a subsidiary branch of the trust, on the ground that its
affairs were not being properly administered. The Supply Company had paid
dividends ranging from fifteen to twenty-five per cent for many years, but
Ridgway exercised his right as a stockholder to ask for a receivership. In
point of fact, he owned, in the name of Eaton, only one-tenth of one per
cent of the stock, but it was enough to serve. For Purcell was a bigoted
old Missourian, as courageous and obstinate as perfect health and ignorance
could make him. He was quite innocent of any legal knowledge, his own rule
of law being to hit a Consolidated head whenever he saw one. Lawyers might
argue themselves black in the face without affecting his serenity or his
Purcell granted the application, as well as a restraining order against the
payment of dividends until further notice, and appointed Eaton receiver
over the protests of the Consolidated lawyers.
Ridgway and Eaton left the court-room together, jubilant over their
success. They dined at a restaurant, and spent the evening at the
ore-producing company's offices, discussing ways and means. When they had
finished, his chief followed Eaton to the doors, an arm thrown
affectionately round his shoulder.
"Steve, we're going to make a big killing. I was never so sure of anything
in my life as that we shall beat Simon Harley at his own game. We're bound
to win. We've got to win."
"I wish I were as sure as you."
"It's hard pounding does it, my boy. We'll drive him out of the Montana
copper-fields yet. We'll show him there is one little corner of the U. S.
where Simon Harley's orders don't go as the last word."
"He has a hundred dollars to your one."
"And I have youth and mining experience and the inside track, as well as
stancher friends than he ever dreamed of," laughed Ridgway, clapping the
other on the back. "Well, good night, Steve. Pleasant dreams, old man."
The boyish secretary shook hands warmly. "You're a MAN, chief. If anybody
can pull us through it will be you."
Triumphant confidence rang in the other's answering laugh. "You bet I can,
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