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Twenty Years of Hus'ling Part 68

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Upon arriving at the girl's house I told her of my success, and asked if she would not see her brother at once, and try and get the information desired. She surprised me by saying that her brother had left the house but a few moments before, and had told her that the man I wanted was at Salina, Kansas. I then surprised her by the information of the fact that I had been playing detective.

After a.s.suring her that no one in town knew or should know from what source I got my information, I atoned for all the deception used, and for what prevaricating I had done, by handing her the gift of jewelry, which made her eyes fairly pop out of her head. She seemed to have instantly forgotten all about our previous love-making, which convinced me that she was better satisfied with the present than she would have been with me.

On my way home I stopped off at Clyde to visit my folks, staying one night. I carried the watches and jewelry with me; and having telegraphed that I was coming, Mr. Keefer met me at the train with a horse and carriage, and we took the goods to the house. I had a nice visit with the old folks and my little son; and after showing them the watches and jewelry, related the incidents of my trip, how I got possession of the goods, and "just how it all happened."

My mother said she had always thought I would make a better detective than anything else. Mr. Keefer said "it did beat the devil."

That night we reviewed the past eighteen years, with much interest. We recalled the many ups and downs I had met with; and my parents congratulated me, not only on the pluck and energy I had persistently shown, but also for being able to stand prosperity.

Mr. Keefer repeated what I had often heard him say years before, that "he knew I'd make it win some day." He said he had always contended that as long as I kept from spending money foolishly, and only lost it in trying to make money, that I must certainly some day profit by my experience, and come out ahead.

He evinced great interest in my affairs by wanting to talk continually with reference to my business, and would converse about nothing else the whole evening.

My mother didn't know what to say.

On my arrival home I wrote to the Salina, Kansas, man, telling him that I had a lot of goods in my possession turned over to me by his ex-manager; and unless he came on to Chicago within five days, and gave me a bill of sale for them, I would have him brought back by officers.

He came, and did as I requested.

This late experience, in connection with several other large losses I had sustained through the sales of traveling agents, convinced me more than ever that my business was being constantly jeopardized by their carelessness in conducting sales.

I had for some time been figuring on an original plan of advertising, by which I felt certain of success. So I decided to call my agents in and discharge them. Then I began at once to spend time and money liberally in advertising. The result was that my business grew rapidly, and to such an extent that I was compelled to increase my force of clerks, and to keep renting and adding on more room every few months, till at present I employ a very large force of help, and occupy ten times as much room as when I first commenced at my present location, and am supplying jewelry to the leading merchants in all parts of the United States.

When I called my agents in to discharge them, with a view to experimenting with my advertising scheme, Bert, (who by this time had become thoroughly sophisticated, and had proved himself a competent and trustworthy young man,) said that, as he had laid up a few hundred dollars, he would like to buy goods from me and sell for himself, the same as I had done, and the same as Albert was then doing. I agreed to sell to him on similar terms.

He began at once, and was very successful--so much so that on the first of January of the present year he also opened an office of his own in the same building where I am located; he buys direct from the manufacturers, and conducts a wholesale business for himself. So much for the unsophisticated country lad who had pluck and energy enough to strike out upon the world, and aim for something better than a clerkship in a country store.

Dr. Frank was still traveling for me when I ordered the agents in, and was the last to respond, being about three days late. When I inquired the reason, he replied that the last man he called upon to collect from had shown a disposition to get out of paying the bill; and as that was to be his last chance, he concluded to stay till he got either the fellow's scalp or the amount due me. He got the latter. He then remarked that while traveling through Dakota he had found a quarter-section of Government land which he had taken as a homestead. He then returned there.

The following fall who should turn up again but Dr. Frank, from Pierre, Dakota, and on arriving here found himself "broke." He called on me and said:

"Now, Johnston, you were the first to get me mixed up in this Doctor business, and but for our experience in setting the old woman's ankle and your dubbing me Doctor, I never would have thought of becoming a physician. As it is, I am anxious to remain here during the winter and attend medical lectures at Hahnemann College, and I know of no one better able to loan me the money to do it with, than you."

"All right, Dr. Frank; you can call around every Sat.u.r.day, when we are paying off our help, and draw enough to meet your weekly expenses."

It is not necessary to say that he never missed a pay day.

It will be remembered that he had previously spent one winter attending lectures at Ann Arbor. The following spring myself and wife by invitation attended the commencement exercises of the college, and had the pleasure of seeing him graduate, a full-fledged Doctor.

As I witnessed this little scene, the picture of Frank while pulling the old woman's leg, and the knowing look he gave her after the ankle popped back into its socket, came vividly before me. It seemed more like a dream than a reality, when I shook him by the hand and congratulated him on being a genuine M. D. He is now a successful pract.i.tioner at Baldwin, Michigan, and has made an especially good record as a surgeon.

Experiencing but little difficulty in building up a lucrative practice, he was not long in repaying me the amount borrowed for college expenses.

About this time Mr. Keefer made his first and only visit to Chicago, accompanied by my mother and my son Frankie. Mr. Keefer had been desirous for some time of visiting the city, to see how "that boy"

managed his business. On their arrival, I escorted them to my store, when, after looking over the several clerks and book-keepers, Mr. Keefer asked:

"Who are all these people working for?"

"Why, they are working for me."

Just then the postman came in with a large package of letters, and when I began opening them, and extracting money orders, drafts, checks and currency, he gazed steadily for a few moments and said:

"Is that all money, Perry?"

"Certainly; checks and drafts are as good as cash."

"But where do you get it from?"

"From Maine to California, and from Manitoba to Mexico."

He looked on quietly for a few moments, and turning to my mother, said:

"Well, it does beat the devil."

I took a great deal of pleasure in showing him the city, and escorting him to the many places of interest and amus.e.m.e.nt. My mother had often visited the larger cities, and was not so much interested as he was.

Although it was his first visit, I paid him the compliment of appearing more accustomed to city life than any person I had ever seen who had never before been away from his own neighborhood. From his cool, unexcitable, matter-of-fact way, one would have supposed that he had always been inured to the excitement and bustle of the city.

[Ill.u.s.tration: SPIN ON THE BOULEVARD WITH MR. KEEFER.]

On the first pleasant day after their arrival, I took Mr. Keefer a whirl down the boulevard, behind a handsome pair of chestnut-sorrel horses which I had dealt for a few days before. As we went dashing along at a lively rate he hung to his hat with one hand and to the buggy with the other, and asked what such a team cost me. When I answered his question, he said:

"That team is worth more than all the horses we ever had on our farm at any one time. Well, I always said you'd 'get there' some day, Perry."

A few days prior to his visit, I had made a trade for a half interest in a livery and sale stable, owned and run by an old acquaintance named Kintz, who is mentioned in the seventh chapter of this book. He is the man who was running a bakery at Clyde, and whose gold watch I traded to the Telegraph Operator, receiving five dollars to boot from each of them, which I placed to my own credit as middleman.

John had come on to Chicago and opened this stable, after several years'

experience in a Michigan town in the same business, and I had made a deal with him for a half interest.

After Mr. Keefer and I had finished our ride, I drove the team to our barn, and jumping out, ordered them taken care of; and as my partner was away, I also began giving orders about the general business, and reprimanded one of the hostlers for neglecting his work.

Mr. Keefer was unable to understand the meaning of this, and finally asked what right I had to be ordering those men around.

I told him I owned a half interest in the business.

He gazed at me a moment, and in his usual good-natured manner, said:

"Well it does beat the devil."

The recollection of this visit affords me a great deal of satisfaction now, as he died about a year afterwards. When visiting me he showed the keenest interest in my success, and declared that since his own had not been what he had desired, he was now only anxious to live long enough to see what the outcome of my business would be, and he continued to evince this same interest up to the very day of his death.

After the Physicians had given him up he requested them to telegraph me at once, which they did, and he fought for forty-eight hours against falling asleep, fearing, as he claimed, that he might not arouse sufficiently to recognize "that boy" when he should arrive.

A few months after Mr. Keefer's visit to Chicago my wife and I were out riding one Sat.u.r.day evening, and drove to Woodlawn Park--a Chicago suburb. She casually remarked that she would like to own a home out there, and go to housekeeping, as she was tired of boarding. Just as she had finished expressing herself, we met a gentleman on the street, and I asked him if he knew of any property for sale there.

He replied: "My name is W. D. True; I am a real estate man and have three houses right near by for sale," and though it was then quite dark, he offered to show us one of them if we would drive over on Sheridan avenue.

We did so and he showed us through the house, to a great disadvantage, however, as we had no light except an occasional match which he would strike when calling our attention to some special feature.

I asked his price and terms, and in less than fifteen minutes from the time I first met him, I had bargained for the property, and instructed him to call at my office Monday morning with papers to sign, and get a check for the amount of the first payment.

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Twenty Years of Hus'ling Part 68 summary

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