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Twenty Years of Hus'ling Part 25

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I very soon called on my old landlord, who gave me a hearty welcome.

After putting my horse out, I settled down for the night.

The next morning I called on my friend, who had just finished a job of painting, but could not collect his bill at once, and being a little short himself, was unable to a.s.sist me.

I asked if he had a good credit there, and he replied that he could buy anything he wanted on time.

I then asked if he could hire a horse and buggy on those terms, and he said he could.

"Well then, you come to a drug store with me and we will buy some patent medicine, or something that we can sell to the farmers, and we will travel through the country with your hired rig, leading my horse behind, and peddle from house to house on our way to Adrian, Mich., where I can possibly sell my horse, and you can then return home."

He then suggested that it would be a good scheme to take a pot of copal varnish and brush along, and take jobs of the farmers to varnish pieces of furniture, charging a certain price for each piece.

"Well," said I, "why not sell them the varnish, and let them do the work themselves?"

"But they can buy all the varnish they want right here where we buy it."

"That's true," I answered, "but they can't buy _our_ kind at _any_ drug store."

He laughed, and said he guessed I'd find people in that country up to the times.

"Very well, then, so much the better, if they are, for they'll want something new; and I don't think there has been any one along selling them ounce bottles of copal varnish for fifty cents!"

No, he said he hadn't heard of any one doing so, and didn't think it could be done.

I insisted it could be done.

We then called on the druggist, who had plenty of varnish, but only four empty bottles in stock.

We got a tin pail, and bought one gallon of varnish and the four bottles.

The druggist exhibited some brushes, saying we would have to use one to apply the varnish while showing it up.

"No, thank you," I replied. "All I want is a piece of Canton flannel.

It won't do to apply it with a brush. I understand your people here are up with the times. If so, they want something new."

He said he thought it extremely new to apply varnish with a cloth.

We started immediately after dinner, and commenced operations one mile out of town.

The very first house we stopped at--and an old log one, at that--I sold the lady three bottles for one dollar, one each for herself, her mother and her sister.

When I delivered them out of my coat pocket (we had no valise or sample case), I said to her:

"Madam, I put up this preparation myself, and I have run short of bottles. Can't you empty the polish into something else and let me retain these?"

"Certainly," she answered, and stepping to the pantry, she opened the door, when I noticed several bottles on the shelf.

"Now, I'll tell you what I'll do. I will trade you some more of my preparation for a few of those bottles."

"All right. It's a trade."

I returned to the buggy loaded down with bottles of all sizes, shapes and colors, and a dollar bill, which looked the size of a barn door to both of us.

I then carried our pail of varnish into the house and paid her liberally for the bottles.

I called at every house thereafter, and never missed making a sale till the eighth was reached, when the old lady declared emphatically that she didn't have fifty cents in the house.

Then I asked if she had any eggs. She said she had.

"Very well; I'll allow you twenty cents per dozen for them, but you must give me an old box of some kind to put them in."

She was anxious to trade, and when I started off with two and one-half dozen, she said she believed I might have the other five dozen if I'd give her two more bottles. I accommodated her, and as I left she said she was sorry John hadn't gathered the eggs the night before, so she could let me have more of them, as I was paying more than they had been getting.

I told her I'd wait while she gathered them.

She started to do so, but suddenly changed her mind, saying she thought I had sold her enough of my patent staff, anyhow.

When I rejoined my new partner and friend he was delighted, and asked why I didn't trade for the chickens.

We met with flattering success, making frequent trades as well as many cash sales. Among other trades was one I made with a lady for a sheep-pelt. Although I had not dealt in them since my early experience, I ventured to make an offer of one bottle of my preparation, which was accepted.

We staid that night with a German farmer, who looked suspiciously at our extra horse; and when we retired to a little six-by-eight room, way up in the garret, he took the pains to lock us in.

My partner said he guessed the old Dutchman took us for horse-thieves.

"Well," I answered, "I guess he will take us for wholesale varnish peddlers before I get through with him."

The next morning, after we were liberated, I began at once to ingratiate myself in the confidence of the old lady, in order to effect a sale.

Immediately after breakfast I introduced the patent furniture l.u.s.tre, and before I had half finished my story the old lady cried out:

"I take 'em, I take 'em; how much?"

I then said:

"How much do I owe you?"

"How many oats did your horses eat?"

"Oh, about a bushel."

"One dollar," she said.

"Very well," said I, "my price is one dollar, but you have been very kind to lock us up for the night, and I'll give you two bottles for your trouble."

Before leaving, I traded her some extra l.u.s.tre for some empty bottles; and this plan I kept up during the day.

We arrived at Blissfield, Mich., where we disposed of our eggs at ten cents per dozen, and realized forty cents for the sheep-pelt, after which we replenished our stock of varnish.

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Twenty Years of Hus'ling Part 25 summary

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