As it was, I found him in the depths. Carried away by his optimism, he had bought real estate in 1871 and 1872, mortgaged it for more than he gave and as the boom continued, he had repeated this game time and again till on paper and in paper he reckoned he had made a hundred thousand dollars. This he had told me and I was glad of it for his sake, unfeignedly glad.
It was easy to see that the boom and inflation period had been based at first on the extraordinary growth of the country through the immigration and trade that had followed the Civil War. But the Franco-German war had wasted wealth prodigiously, deranged trade too, and diverted commerce into new channels. France and then England first felt the shock: London had to call in monies lent to American railways and other enterprises. Bit by bit even American optimism was overcome for immigration in 1871 and 1872 fell off greatly and the foreign calls for cash exhausted our banks. The crash came in 1873; nothing like it was seen again in these States till the slump of 1907 which led to the founding of the Federal Reserve Bank.
Willie's fortune melted almost in a moment: this mortgage and that, had to be met and could only be met by forced sales with no buyers except at minimum values. When I talked to him, he was almost in despair; no money: no property: all lost; the product of three years' hard work and successful speculation all swept away. Could I help him? If not, he was ruined. He told me then he had drawn all he could from my father: naturally I promised to help him; but first I had to pay the Gregorys and to my astonishment he begged me to let him have the money instead. "Mrs. Gregory and all of 'em like you", he pleaded, "they can wait, I cannot; I know of a pur-