Twenty Years of Hus'ling - novelonlinefull.com
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"Mr. ----, do you want to make some money?"
"Why yes, that's what I am here for."
"Well then, sir," producing the novelty, "how would you like the exclusive sale of this, one of the fastest-selling and most useful articles ever manufactured. I have only twenty dozen left, and some one in this town is going to have them. You can put a basket full on your counter, sir, and sell one or more to every lady visiting your store."
"What do they retail at?" he asked.
"Fifty cents each."
"What is the wholesale price?"
"Three dollars a dozen, but as I have only twenty dozen left, you can have them at two dollars and seventy-five cents per dozen."
"I'll give you fifty dollars spot cash for the lot," he said, after figuring a moment.
"All right, I guess you can have them." And I quickly delivered them and received the cash.
Thirty dollars of this the young man received with much satisfaction, while with the other twenty I felt quite comfortable myself.
After paying my hotel bill I departed for Ohio.
On my arrival home I explained to my folks "just how it all happened."
My mother said "she always thought I would turn out a gambler anyhow, and didn't expect anything else when I left home, only that I would lose all I had before getting back."
Mr. Keefer said "it was too bad, and I ought to have knocked the whole top of that clerk's head off for getting me into such habits."
MORE HELP FROM MR. KEEFER--OFF TO SEE MY GIRL--EMBARKED IN THE AGRICULTURAL-IMPLEMENT BUSINESS WITHOUT CAPITAL--MARRIED--SOLD OUT--IN THE GROCERY BUSINESS--COLLAPSED--RUNNING A BILLIARD HALL--COLLAPSED AGAIN--NEWSPAPER REPORTER FOR A MYSTERIOUS MURDER.
The next day I called Mr. Keefer to one side, informed him--on the quiet--about my shortage of seventy-five dollars and suggested going to the bank and borrowing about a hundred dollars, as it would be necessary for me to have a few dollars to "sort of bridge me over" till I could get on my feet again. He said he guessed that would be all right, so we borrowed the money.
The next day I received a very affectionate letter from my girl and started forthwith for Michigan, arriving there in time to escort her to the last and grandest ball of the season, at an expense of more than half the amount of my last loan.
I was very anxious to get married at once, but being a little short financially, concluded to postpone it a few days at least. A couple of days later I received a letter from my uncle, A. S. Johnston, who was then living at Three Rivers, Michigan, and who had previously started me in the fruit business in Chicago. He informed me that he was general agent in Southern Michigan for C. H. & L. J. McCormick's reapers and mowers, and if I would come there he would make me their local agent at that place.
Bidding my girl an affectionate farewell I departed, and arrived at my uncle's with forty cents in cash and six dirty shirts.
On my way there I fell in company with two gentlemen traveling together, one of whom was selling horse-rakes and the other threshing-machines.
I explained to them that I was on my way to Three Rivers, where I expected to become an agent for my uncle. They then remembered having met him somewhere on the road, and one of them suggested that I might also be able to sell horse-rakes and threshing-machines. I told them I had thought some of putting in a few later on. They then became anxious to have me take the agency for their implements, but as I had in my mind the goods of other manufacturers which I believed had a better reputation, I hesitated about handling theirs.
They became very much interested and urged me to let them send on consignment a car-load of horse-rakes and four threshing-machines. I finally consented on condition that they prepay the freight, which they agreed to do.
I informed my uncle of my intentions of starting in the agricultural-implement business. He asked how I expected to do so on forty cents capital.
I answered that all I needed was a sign over some good shed, and a boarding house where they would be willing to wait till after harvest for their pay.
Sign-painting had been his trade, so he said he would furnish the sign, and I could live with them until I got returns.
That afternoon I arranged to have the use of a vacant lot which was in a good locality, and as soon as possible erected a sign as large as the broad-side of a barn, which read as follows:
"J. P. JOHNSTON, DEALER IN ALL KINDS OF AGRICULTURAL IMPLEMENTS.
C. H. & L. J. McCORMICK'S REAPERS AND MOWERS FOR SALE."
In less than two months I had several thousand dollars' worth of all kinds of implements, which had been consigned to me, freight prepaid.
I very soon made the acquaintance of a young man who owned a good horse, which he kindly offered to loan me to canva.s.s the farmers with. I then began looking about to find some one who would loan me a harness and carriage, when my attention was called to the advertis.e.m.e.nt of a lot of carriages to be sold at auction that very day. I called on the owner and told him I needed a carriage, and asked what the terms of the sale would be.
He said a note payable in one year, would be acceptable from responsible parties, and then asked my name. I said: "I am J. P. Johnston, the agricultural man."
"What! the man with the big sign across the street?"
I replied: "The same."
"O, well," he said, "your note is good."
I bid in a fine carriage, giving my note, which, by the way, was paid in less than six months. I then borrowed a harness and began a general raid on the farmers, and succeeded fairly well.
The only unpleasantness I experienced in the sale of implements was that of a check-row corn-planter, which was new to the farmers in that section as well as to myself. I, of course, a.s.sumed to know all about it, when in fact, I was unable to in the least comprehend the method of operating it, even after studying the directions carefully, and committing them to memory so as to give a glowing description of it and its great advantages.
One day a farmer came driving up to my "office" in a great hurry and informed me of his intention to buy a corn-planter, and stated that he had a piece of ground all prepared, and asked me to go and show him "how the thing worked." Of course there was nothing else for me to do but to go. So we loaded one on to the wagon and started.
[Ill.u.s.tration: A DUSTY JOB A SURE SALE.]
Arriving at the farm we hitched one of the old mares on and started for the field, when I very soon learned that the farmer had a much better idea of the "machine" than I did. But in order to make him conscious of my importance it was necessary for me to oppose him in many things, some of which were no doubt injurious to the job.
[Ill.u.s.tration: "AS YE SOW SO SHALL YE REAP."--PAGE 140.]
After he had set the stakes and drawn the line across the field, we were ready for a start. I was to hold the "machine," and he to drive the horse. As we were about to start he suggested that I had better take off my coat, vest, boots and stockings, and roll up my pants. I did so.
The wisdom of this move will be seen later. The old mare started on a gait equal to that of the "deaf drover" over the rough roads. I held tight to the handles, making lofty jumps from one step to another, sinking into the plowed ground almost to my knees each time. Before we were half through the field I was in a profuse perspiration, and had succeeded in knocking one of my great toe-nails entirely off, which afterwards laid me up for two weeks. When we reached the other end he looked solemnly at me and said: "By gosh! you can run like a racehorse can't you?"
"Yes," I replied, almost out of breath, "and you are no slouch yourself."
I then took a comfortable seat on a fence-rail and asked him if that was the fastest horse he owned. He answered: "No, by gosh, I own one that can out-trot this one."
"Yes," I said, "but trotters won't do here. We must have a running horse to do this right."
After skimming over a couple of acres which took but a few minutes, we concluded to make an investigation to see how evenly the kernels were being distributed.
Although it seemed to us that we were using up a large quant.i.ty of corn we found but few hills containing more than the average number of kernels.