Twenty Years of Hus'ling Part 61

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"My ----, is it possible all those families have moved here?"

I then said:

"Do I look any like that Perry Johnston?"

He looked me over carefully and said he believed I did.

I then explained that I had recognized him at first sight and decided to have a little sport with him. After a short visit I went on my way rejoicing.

After one week's time I left Brainerd for Fargo, Dakota, where I had requested my mail to be sent. I had cleared thirty-three dollars over and above expenses during that time. After sending ten of it home to my wife I reached Fargo with twenty-three dollars, having made the trip with my pa.s.s. Here I received a letter from the wholesaler expressing sympathy for my loss, and saying he had sent me a large package of goods on sixty days' time.

After spending two dollars for a few necessaries which left me just twenty-one dollars, I accompanied three traveling men to the theatre, one of whom had a pa.s.s admitting himself and friends to a box. During the evening this gentleman mentioned the fact that an actress who would shortly sing was an old school-mate of his, and as she had had all her wardrobe burnt at Bismarck, a few days before, suggested that we each throw a silver dollar on the stage when she appeared. We all agreed.

I had forgotten that I had that day accommodated a gentleman by giving him four five-dollar bills for a twenty-dollar gold piece, and when the time came I carelessly reached my hand in my pocket and taking out the gold piece, threw it on the stage and was unconscious of what I had done till I saw it bound and heard it ring and received a bow of recognition and thanks from the actress. It was too late, however, and managing to instantly recover myself from the shock of having fully realized the awful fact that I was again totally collapsed, I shook hands with my three friends who were very enthusiastic over my generosity, remarking that they hadn't the slightest idea of my intention of giving so much. I told them I didn't believe in doing things by halves.

At the hotel the next day I was introduced to the pretty actress who thanked me for my generous gift, and declared that success was sure to reward men of such liberal principles, but added that she had always noticed, however, that those who gave the most freely were those who had the most to give, or at any rate, those who experienced but little difficulty in making money fast.

I had but little to say in reply to her a.s.sertion, but took special pains to jingle the last three twenty-five cent pieces I had in my pocket, and a.s.sumed an air of independence sufficient, no doubt, to convince her that I possessed my share of this world's goods.

When I took the train at Brainerd for Fargo, who should make his appearance as conductor but my old friend Johnny, whom the reader will remember as being my partner and companion at the neat, nice, tidy boarding-house while selling auction goods.

The moment I discovered his ident.i.ty I pulled my hat down over my eyes and turned up my coat collar so he would not recognize me, and as he approached me I began talking very loud as though in conversation with some one near me and said: "Well sir, the place where I stopped was a neat, nice, clean, tidy boarding-house, the children were well-bred, the old lady a good conversationalist, a mighty good cook, and everything was so home-like."

Johnny seemed almost paralyzed on hearing these remarks and instantly began to scrutinize me very closely, but as I had raised quite a moustache and goatee since our dissolution, he failed to recognize me.

He then demanded my ticket, and without turning my face towards him, but rather turning it from him I declared I had no ticket. He asked where I was going. I answered: "Well sir, I am going to Fargo, and if I can prevail upon my wife to sell another house and lot and send me the money, I am going to either start a stave and barrel factory, or go into the auction business."

At this he began laughing, and taking hold of my hat and raising it from my head, said: "Well you infernal vender of the Incomprehensible compound, double-distilled furniture and piano l.u.s.ter, what are you giving me? Produce your ticket, or off you go, bag and baggage."

We had a nice visit, and when I related my experience of a few days before about the stolen trunk and the final collapse, he said he had heard all about it, but was surprised to hear that I was the unfortunate loser. He frankly confessed that the last house and lot had been sold and the money spent before he had settled down to business. The last I heard of him he was still holding his position and working hard for a promotion.

A few days after my arrival at Fargo, I received over two hundred dollars' worth of goods from Chicago, which came at a very opportune time.

The few days I had to wait there I put in with the "Incomprehensible,"

with good results.

The holiday trade was now approaching and I made money fast. I again adopted my old tactics of opening up to every one, from the hotel porter and chambermaids to the merchant of the highest standing; and I never lost an hour or even a minute when there was the slightest prospect for making a sale. The result was, that after closing out my stock just before Christmas and returning to Chicago, I brought back over nine hundred dollars, which left me six hundred clear after paying the wholesale house the last bill of two hundred and an old account of one hundred dollars.

A few weeks after my arrival in Chicago, I made over six hundred dollars in one day in a way that will perhaps be worth relating. An old acquaintance of mine who was in the auction business was in the city buying goods. I accompanied him to a large wholesale house to buy notions, and while picking out the stock, a messenger-boy delivered a telegram to the manager of that department. After reading it he said to us that it conveyed the information that the manufacturers of cheap shears had formed a combination and had advanced the price nearly one half. I excused myself immediately and started on the run to the different wholesale houses with which I had previously dealt, and bought all the shears they had at the old prices, and after making a payment down took a receipt as payment on a certain number of dozen shears at a certain price to be delivered on a certain day. I made the rounds as rapidly as possible and bought out several dealers before they had received their telegrams. The next day all I had to do was to call at their stores and sell out to them at the advanced price, receiving my money back and a good round profit besides.

It was my intention to start out on the road again as soon as the dull season after the holidays was over; but I began having chills and fever and night sweats which very soon reduced me several pounds in weight, and I could plainly see was fast reducing my physical strength.

My wife and I then visited her parents at Bronson, Michigan.

And now I am obliged to make mention of one fact that heretofore has not been necessary to speak of. My domestic life had not proved a success, and a separation occurred on the nineteenth of March, 1881, my wife remaining with her parents. Our little boy had been living with my mother at Clyde, during the preceding two years, where we mutually agreed to have him remain; and he has continued to reside there up to the present time. In due course of time the Courts annulled the marriage.

I reached Clyde on the evening of the day of our final separation, and was so ill that my physical system seemed about prostrated.

Our old family physician, Dr. Brown, was at that time down sick, and I chanced to call on a physician who had recently moved there. He seemed much pleased with my condition, and after a thorough examination, informed me that one of my lungs was entirely destroyed and the other one almost gone; and if I had good luck I might live a couple of years.

When I went home and reported my bright prospects my mother began to cry, and said she always thought I would die with consumption. Mr.

Keefer looked sad and solemn, and said: "It does beat the devil."



A few days later our old Doctor was up and around, and called to see me.

He diagnosed my case, and p.r.o.nounced my lungs perfectly sound; and declared that if I should live an hundred years I'd never have lung trouble. He informed me that I was suffering from a complication of diseases, and general debility caused by over-work and the general excitement and hus'ling naturally attending my business; and a.s.sured me that with the energy and determination I showed in my disposition to get well, he would bring me out all right. He was much surprised, however, when called a few days later, to find me completely floored and suffering terribly. His action showed that the case was more serious than he thought. But he brought me out in very good shape in about three months.

I had previously used a part of my money in paying old debts, and part in supplying my family with suitable clothing; and after paying my doctor and druggist bills, found myself again without a dollar, when ready to start out on the fifteenth of June.

I then wrote to a young man who had lived with my parents several years, and whom I had educated in the polish business and who was then selling it through Indiana, and asked him to loan me twenty-five dollars, if he could spare it.

He immediately sent a draft for that amount, and stated in his letter that he had just eighty-five cents left, but was glad to accommodate me.

In reply to his letter I a.s.sured him that I was certain of success in the jewelry business, and that as soon as I again established myself in it, and could see a chance for him, I would send for him and give him the benefit of my experience.

About a year later I brought this about; and having established a fair credit myself I had no difficulty in also establishing a credit for Albert, which he used to good advantage by hus'ling and selling lots of goods.

Later on, after I had opened a store of my own, I supplied him with goods for some time, extending all the credit he needed. This same young man is now proprietor of a wholesale jewelry house in Chicago; and I dare say that only for his prompt and liberal action in responding to my request for a loan of twenty-five dollars, there would be no such firm in existence at the present time. Therefore it ill.u.s.trates how a single instance will prove the turning point in a man's life.

Albert came to our house while we were living at the old homestead on the farm, when he was but a small boy. He was an orphan, and had left a farmer living a few miles away, whom he had lived with for some time.

The night he came there I happened home from one of my speculative trips, and after talking with the lad, asked my folks what they were going to do with him. They said he could stay over night, and after breakfast they would send him on his way rejoicing.

I urged them to let him stay, convinced that he would be of great a.s.sistance on the farm. They concluded to give him a trial, with the satisfactory result as stated above.

If the reader will pardon me more for digressing from the subject, I will here relate a little incident that occurred on the day of Albert's arrival in the city. It only goes to show how the average young man will wriggle and tax his brain in order to get out of a tight box.

It often afforded us much amus.e.m.e.nt when narrating it, as being his initiation into the great city of Chicago. He had written me in answer to my letter, that he was ready to start at any time; and as I had received an invitation to attend a ball to be given in the city on the South Side on a certain day, I wrote him to be on hand at that time and I would meet him.

By this time I had begun selling goods on credit, and very often run a little short for cash; and it so happened that in this particular instance I arrived in the city at seven o'clock in the evening, with less than five dollars in my pocket with which to visit the barber, and pay for our suppers and tickets for the ball.

He had written me that he would have about seventy-five dollars cash, and I felt perfectly secure to start out with him, knowing I could borrow till I could raise it the next day and pay him back.

At the ball we met a couple of young ladies, daughters of a gentleman I had become acquainted with; and as he and his wife were talking of going home early and taking the girls with them, we suggested that they leave them in our care and we would escort them home later.

This was agreed to all around, and about two o'clock, when ready to leave, I said to Albert:

"Let me have five dollars to pay for a carriage."

"I haven't got five dollars, nor even fifty cents."

"But you told me in your letter that you had seventy-five dollars."

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Twenty Years of Hus'ling Part 61 summary

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