Twenty Years of Hus'ling - novelonlinefull.com
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We had traded the State of Illinois in our patent to a gentleman in the lightning-rod business, and that night while walking up street we noticed a large crowd of men standing on the corner talking.
We stepped across the street to see what the excitement was.
On looking over the shoulders of the men we saw our customer, the lightning-rod man, standing there holding his pitchfork in one hand and valise in the other. We were about to crowd in when we heard him say:
"Well, if I can find them I shall have them arrested and replevin the horse."
Frank and I then held a short consultation. Our first idea was to go to him and ascertain what he meant by saying he would arrest us. We felt certain we had violated no law, or at least had no intention of doing so. But after reconsidering the matter we concluded that he was simply a "squealer," and as we had made a square, fair trade with him we decided to let him find us instead of our looking for him.
Our experience of a few days before with the writ of replevin had been a very good lesson. We didn't consider it worth while to deliberately turn our stock over to "squealers," when they were taking so much pains to hunt us up, and especially when we stopped to realize that in dealing with a lightning-rod man it was simply a case of "diamond cut diamond."
We therefore started East that evening, arriving at Cleveland a few days later.
On reading the late daily papers which we always made a practice of doing, we found several long articles about two men visiting Findlay with a patent right and how they had taken a handsome horse and carriage and several thousand dollars in cash for which they gave worthless deeds.
We also read a full description of ourselves and the horse and buggy and that a liberal reward would be paid for our capture and return to Findlay.
We were at a loss to understand the meaning of all this, and called on one of the best lawyers in Cleveland and paid him ten dollars to examine our Power of Attorney.
He p.r.o.nounced it perfect, and said we had complied with the law in having it recorded, in our method of deeding, and in every other respect; and said that the patentee was powerless to annul the Power of Attorney, except by giving me thirty days' notice.
We then concluded to give them a good chase, before giving up the horse and carriage; for though they had spent considerable money in trying to capture us, we realized that the horse and buggy were all we had to look out for, so far as concerned any loss.
We stopped at a first-cla.s.s hotel, and enjoyed life hugely.
While there, we met an acquaintance who had been speculating in wheat, and had made a lot of money in a very short time.
He a.s.sured us that if we would let him invest a portion of our cash the same as he was intending to invest his own, we would leave Cleveland with a barrel of money. Of course we hadn't thought of scooping it in by the barrel, and the idea rather caught us.
Neither Frank nor myself had the slightest conception of the method of speculating in that way. And to this day, I am still as ignorant as then regarding it, and have no desire to learn it.
Well, we let our friend invest five hundred dollars, and in less than three days he called on us for three hundred more, saying he _must_ have it to tide us over. Two days later he announced to us the crushing fact that all was lost! His cash as well as ours.
He then began urging us to try it once more. Anxious to get back what we had lost, we needed but little persuasion; and in less than one week found ourselves about cleaned out. We had speculated all we cared to; and after settling up with the landlord, started west again with the horse and buggy, to continue our patent-right business.
Wherever we stopped, we imagined every time we saw a person approaching us, that it was an officer with papers for our arrest, or a writ of replevin for the horse and carriage. We cared more for the writ than we did for the arrest, as we had by this time posted ourselves as to the trouble and annoyance it would cause us to allow them to get possession of the rig. Besides, it had already become a question whether we would out-general them or they us.
We realized that their reasons, whatever they were, for demanding our arrest, were groundless. So our only desire was to sell the whole outfit at a good figure.
It would have paid us better in every way to have turned it over to the men we had traded with, and to have come to an understanding with them; but we were too anxious to win, in the race we had begun.
We had a great scare and narrow escape, at a small inland town where we stopped just at dusk, intending to remain over night.
While sitting in front of the hotel, about nine o'clock that evening, several gentlemen scrutinized us very sharply as they pa.s.sed by. Among them happened to be an old friend whom we had known at Clyde. He asked what we had been doing that the authorities had a right to arrest us, adding that two men were at that very moment looking up an officer for that purpose.
We gave immediate orders for our horse to be hitched up, and hastily informed our friend of the facts. He said there must be some reason for the Findlay authorities wanting us, as they had offered a reward of a hundred dollars for us, and twenty-five for the horse and buggy.
We started west at a rapid gait.
It was a beautiful moonlight night, and we had not traveled far till we saw coming after us two men on horseback, riding rapidly. We drove but a few rods farther when we came to a steep hill, at the bottom of which was a cross-road extending in both directions through the woods, and a large bridge crossing a river just west of the road-crossing. We drove down the embankment and under the bridge into the river, and there awaited the coming of the two men. They stopped on the bridge, and there held a consultation We heard one of them say:
"I wonder which way the devils went, anyhow?"
"Well," the other remarked, "they are traveling west, and it's quite likely they have crossed the bridge."
Just as they were about to start again our horse pawed in the water, and at once attracted their attention.
[Ill.u.s.tration: A "KICKER AND SQUEALER."]
One of them stopped, and said; "Wait a minute. I heard a noise under the bridge."
At this they both stopped, and, as we supposed, were about to make an investigation, when I dropped the reins, and raising my hands to my mouth, made a noise like the bellowing of a "critter." One of them said:
"Oh, come on. It's nothing but a ---- old cow!"
They then started across the bridge, greatly to our relief and satisfaction.
After a few moments' delay we returned to the cross-roads, and started south, traveling but a short distance when we again turned west.
We now began to realize that they were making it quite lively for us, and decided to sell the whole rig at any price.
We drove to within about a mile of Norwalk, when I alighted and walked into the town for the purpose of finding a buyer.
Frank drove to a small inland town eight miles south of Norwalk, where I agreed to meet him the next day.
The following morning I met a middle-aged gentleman on the streets, and asked him if there were any horse-buyers in town. He asked what kind of horses I had for sale. I told him I only had one, and gave a description of the animal.
He said he was buying horses, and would drive out with me and see if we could deal.
He hitched up a pair of horses, and taking another gentleman with us, started south. Upon arriving at our destination, we found Frank quartered at a nice country hotel.
The two men looked our whole outfit over, scrutinizing it very closely, and showed no signs of wanting to buy, and did not even ask our price.
I then said:
"Gentlemen, we will sell you this whole rig cheap, if you wish it."
Finally, after I had repeated several times that I would sell it dirt-cheap, the old gentleman ventured to ask what I considered cheap?
"Well, sir," said I, "you can have the whole outfit for twelve hundred dollars."
"Great Heavens!" he exclaimed. "Do you call that cheap?"
"Well," I answered, "you needn't buy unless you want to."
They then drove off, when I said:
"Frank, those men have had a full description of us and our rig, and we'd better skip."