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"Young man, you were a G.o.d-send to me this day sure," and added: "The Lord will provide."
"Yes, either that or the devil takes care of his own," I answered.
"Well, while the Lord has taken care of you in furnishing you an auctioneer, I have been favored considerably myself, for Heaven knows I needed the job, and, as I feel I am one of the devil's kind, I guess I'll have to give him the preference."
He said: "We'll decide that matter after the sale."
Every thing went on smoothly, and, as the sale was large it took till late in the evening before the last article was sold. The next morning we footed up the sales, and, to the farmer's utter astonishment, it amounted to over eleven hundred dollars. After reflecting a while he said:
"Why, hang it all, we figured in the first place that we had about a thousand dollars' worth, but I never thought of that yesterday morning when I offered you five per cent. Why, great guns, young man, are you going to charge me fifty-five dollars?"
"Of course I am, and I think I've earned it."
"What! Earned fifty-five dollars in one day? Gracious Peter! I can hire good men on my farm for seventeen dollars per month."
"Yes, but I didn't see any of them around yesterday who were handy enough to do your auctioneering."
He became quite excited, and declared he wouldn't pay me more than fifteen dollars. I argued with him till about ten o'clock, when several men had come to take away their purchases and settle for them. After I had resorted to all sorts of methods and arguments to make him pay me, I said:
"Well, sir, I am going to spoil all the sales made to these men."
He anxiously inquired how I intended to do it.
"Well, I don't suppose it has occurred to you that I am not a licensed auctioneer, and under the laws of the State you have no right to deliver or give a bill of sale for goods sold by an auctioneer not licensed."
His eyes fairly popped out of his head, and turning to his wife with much excitement, said:
"Mary, give him fifty-five dollars, and let him go."
After receiving the money, I said:
"I suppose you would be silly enough to believe me if I should tell you you ought to have a license to eat when you are hungry."
As his boy had hitched up my old horse, I took my departure at once; and driving to the nearest town, sent the money to a wholesale notion house and ordered a stock of auction goods, which was promptly sent.
I began business, working my way back north with a view to striking into Michigan in time for the County Fairs.
During the whole time I had been skirmishing around with my old horse, after closing out my stock at Bodkins, I had clung to the old trunk and my street lamps.
The second day after receiving my goods, while driving along, wondering what would happen next, I noticed a farmer coming from his house to the barn, and after looking down the road at me a moment, climbed up on the board fence and sat there apparently waiting my coming. As I drove up, he yelled:
"Halloo, stranger whatcher got to swap?"
"I'll swap anything I've got. What have you to trade?"
[Ill.u.s.tration: A PROFITABLE HORSE TRADE--PAGE 476.]
"Well, sir, I've got as handsome a little brown mare as you ever saw.
She is too small to work on a farm, and as you've got a big bony cuss there that would make a good plow hoss, I'll give you a big trade."
"Bring 'er out; let's see 'er."
"Here, boy, lead that little brown mare out and let the gentleman see her."
As the boy led her from the stable she came out with her ears laying back and her short tail switching; and I said to myself, "here will be a job breaking a kicker and balker."
"How will you trade?" I asked, not leaving my seat in the wagon, but simply looking through and over the fence at her.
Without leaving his seat on the fence, the man said:
"I'll trade for five dollars to boot."
"I'll trade even."
"No, sir," he said, "I'm expecting threshers to-morrow, and have got to have some money to buy meat and groceries with."
"Well, then, I'll give you two dollars and fifty cents, and no more."
"All right; it's a trade. The boy will change them for you."
The lad then led the mare around, and after unhitching the old horse, changed the harness, and after hitching the mare to the wagon I handed him the amount agreed upon, and started on.
I expected to have a little "circus" with her, but to my surprise and delight she started off on a full trot. The sensation was certainly invigorating, as it was the first time I had ridden faster than a walk in all summer.
The idea of our making the trade without either of us leaving our seats, or asking a single question, rather amused me, and seemed like trading "sight unseen."
I felt that two dollars and-a-half was all I had to risk, anyhow, and if he could afford to be reckless just because he was out of meat, I could afford to take equal chances with him.
This, I think, so far as real value was concerned, was the best horse trade I ever made; the animal was not only sound and kind, but an extra good roadster and a good-looking beast.
The next day when I drove into Plymouth, Ohio, to my surprise I met Doctor Frank. He had concluded to stop there and sell polish for a few days before going to Michigan, and in the meantime write up there and learn more about his friend's offer.
I shall never forget his looks as he came walking up to the wagon just as I was lighting my lamps to open a sale. He had been attracted by the lights and the gathering crowd, and when he saw the new horse and discovered me with a stock of goods, he could hardly believe his own eyes.
I took time to explain how I had made a raise, and about the horse-trade.
He was as much pleased as I was, and started out with me again the next day. We kept our course towards Michigan, and while in Ohio visited several towns in which we had previously sold polish, and where we now made auction sales. In a few days he again left me. I staid in Ohio several weeks, then went into Michigan, meeting with good success and making money quite fast.
AUCTIONEERING AT MICHIGAN STATE FAIR--THREE DAYS CO-PARTNERSHIP WITH A SHOWMAN--MY PARTNER'S FAMILY ON EXHIBITION--OUR SUCCESS--TRAVELING NORTHWARD--BUSINESS INCREASES--FREQUENT TRADES IN HORSES AND WAGONS--THE POSSESSOR OF A FINE TURN-OUT--MR. KEEFER AGAIN ASKS a.s.sISTANCE--HOW I RESPONDED--TRAVELING WITH AN OX-TEAM AND CART--A GREAT ATTRACTION--SOLD OUT--TRAVELING BY RAIL--MY RETURN TO OHIO--MEETING THE CLAIRVOYANT DOCTOR--HOW I FOOLED HIM--QUAIL, TWELVE DOLLARS A DOZEN--THE DOCTOR LOSES HIS APPEt.i.tE.