Twenty Years of Hus'ling - novelonlinefull.com
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I remember one very exciting story I told about an encounter I had with seven Indians and how I killed five of them and took the other two prisoners after receiving thirteen wounds, and as evidence of my a.s.sertion took off my coat and vest, and was about to remove my shirt, to show the scars when Frank and the landlord stopped me and said:
"Never mind, Johnston, you showed us those scars last night, and remember this is Sunday night and people are pa.s.sing by going to church and will see you; wait till to-morrow night and then show them."
Of course I took their advice and put my coat and vest on again, and was amused to hear three or four old I-told-you-so-fellows say: "I knew it, I knew you fellows were good ones, I knew no common ordinary fellows had any business with you men."
Doctor Frank and I were sworn friends from this time on and continued with the polish for some time.
One day I received a letter from my wife demanding an extra amount of money from what I had been accustomed to sending her, and I borrowed all Frank had, and with it sent all I had, leaving us without a cent, but with plenty of polish. As we had from three o'clock in the afternoon till sundown to operate, we hadn't the slightest doubt of being able to make at least enough sales to procure money sufficient to pay expenses over night; but in spite of every effort we were unable to even sell a single bottle, and when darkness came we made arrangements with a farmer for supper, lodging and breakfast.
In the morning of course the only thing we could do was to trade him polish and I began negotiations with him, but in vain. I had polished up two or three pieces of furniture, but neither himself nor his wife seemed to care for it at all, and as we could plainly see were bent on receiving a little pin-money from us. I then polished up another piece of furniture and kept talking it up, perspiring freely, and noticed great drops of perspiration standing out on Frank's forehead. Then I polished more furniture and gave a more elaborate explanation of the merits of the polish, Doctor Frank of course putting in a word now and then. But we had struck a Tartar--in fact, two Tartars. They were as firm as adamant.
We were at last cornered and looked at each other as though we had an idea that a private consultation would be the thing to hold about that time.
I felt that I would rather forfeit the old horse and wagon than acknowledge that we had no money. I then said:
"Mr. ----, is the gentleman living in the second house south of here a responsible and enterprising man?"
He answered that he was, and asked why.
"Well I have been thinking of making him a General Agent in this County for my polish."
The lady of the house then said:
"John, why don't you take the agency? you have always wanted to travel."
He asked what kind of a show I'd give him.
I told him we charged ten dollars for the General Agency for each county and we would supply him with the polish, or he could have the recipe for making it by paying twenty-five dollars. He said he had no money and there was no use talking.
I asked how much our bill would be for staying over night.
"Two dollars," was his reply.
"Very well, then, we can fix the money part. Which do you prefer, the General Agency or the recipe?"
He said he wanted the recipe.
"You can just give us credit then, for the two dollars and pay us fifty cents in cash and you will owe us twenty-two and one-half dollars which you can pay after you have made it."
His wife said that was fair. He said he hadn't the fifty cents, but they would give us a chicken for the difference.
As we had been accustomed to trading anything and everything we explained that the fowl was right in our line, and immediately closed the deal and left with it. The reader may be a.s.sured that we congratulated ourselves on our narrow escape. The man still owes the balance,--in fact I forgot to leave him my address, so he could send it.
We had consumed nearly a half day wrestling with our farmer friend to effect a deal, and immediately started out with renewed vigor and the chicken with its legs securely tied and under the wagon seat.
HELPING A TRAMP--WE DISSOLVE PARTNERSHIP--MY AUCTION SALE FOR THE FARMER--HOW I SETTLED WITH HIM--I RESUME THE AUCTION BUSINESS FOR MYSELF--MY HORSE TRADE--I START FOR MICHIGAN.
We were then but a short distance from Fostoria, to which place we drove, arriving there at noon with seventy-five cents and the chicken, which we sold for twenty-five cents. When we received the cash for it, a rather seedy-looking individual stepped up and asked us if we couldn't give him money enough to buy his dinner, as he had had nothing to eat for several days. We figured that as we had a dollar we could afford to give the fellow twenty-five cents, and have the same amount left for dinner for each of us, including the old horse. When we handed the tramp his quarter, I remarked:
"We will divide equally with you, which is the best we can do."
He thanked us, and pa.s.sed out of the store, when a very sorry-looking individual with a deacon-fied appearance who stood by said:
"Young man, I think you make a mistake by giving such characters money.
How do you know what he will do with it? He may spend it for liquor, and may h.o.a.rd it up; there is no telling what he will do with it. I believe in charity, but I believe prayers are better than money for such people."
"Well, if you believe in prayers you believe in G.o.d?"
"Of course I do."
"Then, sir, you must admit that G.o.d keeps the books; and if the tramp is an impostor this little transaction will be recorded against him, and in our favor--especially if His system of book-keeping is double entry."
The old gentleman laughed and said he didn't know but I was right, and that he would give the matter a little extra thought. We then left the store and immediately satisfied ourselves that the old gentleman was right, in this particular instance, for we saw the tramp across the street going into a saloon and followed him, reaching there just in time to hear him order a gla.s.s of beer. I stepped up to him and said: "Are you hungry?"
"No, sir, I am not; but I am thirsty."
"Well, sir, you've got to eat anyhow; we gave you twenty-five cents a few moments ago to eat with, and, dang you, you have got to eat, and eat twenty-five cents' worth, too, or be kicked out of town. Which do you prefer?"
He thought he'd rather eat.
I took him by the neck and marched him forthwith to a restaurant, and demanded of him that he order twenty-five cents' worth and eat every mouthful of it, and a.s.sured him of our intention of returning a few minutes later to see that he followed our instructions.
In about twenty minutes we pa.s.sed by the restaurant and saw him sitting at a table facing the door eating with as much energy and vigor as a harvest hand. We turned back, and dropping in, explained the facts to the restaurant-keeper, who informed us that he had ordered twenty-five cents' worth. He soon finished the meal and came to the cashier to settle. I asked if he had eaten everything brought him. He said not everything, but all he wanted.
"Then, sir," said I, "you march back there and finish eating everything, to the very last morsel."
He obeyed, but with an effort, as was plainly seen, for eating seemed to be out of his line. But we felt satisfied. At any rate we didn't feel that we had been absolutely swindled out of our money; so, after giving the fellow a good sound lecturing, we let him go.
Doctor Frank and I kept together several weeks, and, although we worked like troopers, were unable to lay up any money.
Finally he received a letter from an acquaintance in Northern Michigan, wanting him to come there and engage in business with him. Stocked with a valise full of polish, he bade me good-bye and started.
I continued on as usual until one night I stopped with a farmer who had sold his farm and advertised an auction sale of his live stock and farming utensils to take place the following day. I was anxious to remain and hear his auctioneer, (who, he said, was a good one,) and concluded to do so.
About ten o'clock the next forenoon a large crowd had gathered, and a few moments later the auctioneer, in company with three other men, arrived on the scene, all so intoxicated as to be scarcely able to sit in their wagons.
The farmer was very indignant, and came to me and asked if I had an idea I could sell off his property. I had spoken of my experience in that line the night before, and now told him I thought I could do as well as a drunken man, any how. In answer to his question of salary I told him I never worked on salary, but sold on commission. He said the other fellow had agreed to make the sale for ten dollars, and asked what commission I would want. I told him I had always received from ten to twenty per cent. on merchandise, but as he had horses and cattle which would run into money fast, and was going to sell on a year's time, I would charge him five per cent., to be paid in cash when the sale was over. He agreed, and I laid off my coat and went to work.
I saw at once from his actions that he was satisfied, and after the sale had progressed a while he said: