When Bat buys a derby hat in a small Missouri town he is aghast at the price. Learning that a freight line owner forces shopkeepers to use only his line to ship their supplies from the river, Bat decides to break his monopoly.
In 1884 Bat steadies the stagecoach horses as a freight wagon rumbles by in Whistle Valley, Missouri. His derby blows off and is run over by the freight wagon. Bat confronts the freight drivers for $3 to replace the derby. Their boss Barney Kaster pays the $3 for them. However, when Bat tries to buy a new derby he finds the price is $6 due to the high cost to bring the freight from the riverboats to the town. Barney Kaster has an exclusive contract with the riverboats preventing competition. Bat pays the store owner Sharon Stabler $3 cash for a derby which he picks up at the dock saving the freight cost. In response to his trick Kaster sends two men to break up Sharon's store. Bat follows to stop them. He calls a meeting of the merchants with a proposal to break Kaster's grip if each one will put in $500 to be given to Sharon. Bat and Sharon go to St. Louis where Bat plays the steamboats against the railroads hoping to break Kaster's contract but Kaster doesn't go easily. Written by
William Barclay 'Bat' Masterson:
What was it your father said? "It's the small merchants who turn a small town into a big city." He couldn't have meant these merchants. Oh, no - they don't have the courage to turn a corner.
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