(Auction sale of the wreck of the "Flying Scud" in San Francisco)
. . . The auction will take place in the Merchants' Exchange at ten o'clock. . . . (Loudon to Pinkerton) "You seem to me to forget one trifle," said I. "Before you pick that wreck, you've to got to buy her, and how much will it cost?" "One hundred dollars, " replied Jim, with the promptitude of an automaton. "How on earth do you guess that?" I cried. "I don't guess; I know it," answered the Commercial Force. . . . How do you suppose I bought the James L. Moody for two hundred and fitfty, her boats alone worth four times the money? Because my name stood first in the list. Well, it stands there again; I have the naming of the figure, and I name a small one because of the distance (Midway Atoll); but it wouldn't matter what I named; that would be the price." "It sounds mysterious enough," said I. "Is this public auction conducted in a subterranean vault? . . ." "Oh, everything's open and above board!" he cried, indignantly. "Anybody can come, only nobody bids against us; and if he did, he would get frozen out. It's been tried before now, and once was enough. We hold the plant; we've got the connection; we can afford to go higher than any outsider; there's two million dollars in the ring; and we stick at nothing. Or suppose anybody did buy over our head - I tell you, Loudon, he would think this town gone crazy; he could no more get business through on the city front than I can dance; schooners, divers, men - all he wanted - the prices would fly right up and strike him." "But how did you get in (that ring)?" I asked. "You were once an outsider like your neighbours . . .?"
(The Wrecker by R. L. Stevenson and L. Osbourne, chapter ix, The Wreck Of The "Flying Scud" , published 1892)