English at Work
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Text 4. Th. Dreiser. The Titan.
He wanted to "get in” on something that was sure to bring very great returns within a reasonable time and that would not leave him in any such desperate situation as he was at the time of the Chicago fire – spread out very thin, as he put it. He had interested in his ventures a small group of Cicago men who were watching him – Judah Addison, Alexander Rambaud, Millard Bailey, Anton Videra – men who, although not supreme figures by any means, had free capital. He knew that he could go to them with any truly sound proposition. The one thing that most attracted his attention was the Chicago gas situation, because there was a chance to step in almost unheralded in an as yet unoccupied territory; with franchises once secured – the reader can quite imagine how – he could present himself, like a Hamilcar Barca in the heart of Spain or a Hannibal at the gates of Rome, with a demand for surrender and a division of spoils.
Cowperwood’s first project was to buy out and combine the three old city companies. With this in view he looked up the holders in all three corporations – their financial and social status. It was his idea that by offering them three for one, or even four for one, for every dollar represented by the market value of their stock he might buy in and capitalize the three companies as one. Then, by issuing sufficient stock to cover all his obligations, he would reap a rich harvest and at the same time leave himself in charge.
"Well, I’ll tell you how I feel about this”, said Addison, finally. "You’ve hit on a great idea here. It’s a wonder it hasn’t occurred to some one else before. And you’ll want to keep rather quiet about it, or some one else will rush in and do it. We have a lot of venturesome men out here. But I like you and I’m with you. Now it wouldn’t be advisable for me to go in on this personally – not openly, anyhow – but I’ll promise to see that you get some of the money you want. I like your idea of a central holding company, or pool, with you in charge as trustee, and I’m perfectly willing that you should manage it, for I think you can do it. Anyhow, that leaves me out apparently, except as an investor. But you will have to get two or three others to help carry this guarantee with me. Have you any one in mind?”
"Oh yes,” replied Cowperwood. "Certainly. I merely came to you first.”
Cowperwood found, as Addison predicted, that it was not such an easy matter to induce the various stockholders and directors in the old companies to come in on any such scheme of reorganization. A closer, more unresponsive set of men he was satisfied he had never met.
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