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I became very anxious to sell my sheep in order to invest the money in business of some kind, but could not find a buyer for more than twenty-five head. This sale brought me seventy-five dollars in cash, and I traded thirty-five head for a horse and wagon.

Thus equipped, I concluded to engage in buying and selling butter, eggs, chickens and sheep pelts. Not quite satisfied that I would succeed alone, I decided to take in one of our neighbor boys as a partner.

He furnished a horse to drive with mine, and we started out, each having the utmost confidence in the other’s ability, but very little confidence in himself.

We made a two weeks’ trip, and after selling out entirely and counting our cash, found we had eighteen cents more than when we started. We had each succeeded in ruining our only respectable suit of clothes, and our team looked as if it had been through a six months’ war campaign.

My partner said he didn’t think there was any money in the business, so we dissolved partnership.

I then decided to make the chicken business a specialty, believing that the profits were large enough to pay well. Mr. Keefer loaned me a horse, and after building a chicken-rack on my wagon, I started out on my new mission.

There was no trouble in buying what I considered a sufficient number to give it a fair trial, which netted me a total cost of thirty-five dollars.

Sandusky City, twenty miles from home, was the point designed for marketing them.

I made calculations on leaving home at one o’clock on the coming Wednesday morning, in order to arrive there early on regular market day.

The night before I was to start, a young acquaintance and distant relative came to visit me. He was delighted with the idea of accompanying me to the city when I invited him to do so.

During the fore part of the night a very severe rain storm visited us. I had left the loaded wagon standing in the yard.

Little suspecting the damage the storm had done me, we drove off in high spirits, entering the suburbs of the city at day-break.

Then Rollin happened to raise the lid on top of the rack, and discovered very little signs of life.

We made an immediate investigation and found we were hauling dead chickens to market, there being but ten live ones among the lot, and they were in a frightful condition. Their feathers were turned in all directions, and their eyes rolling backwards as if in the agonies of death. This trouble had been caused by the deluge of water from the rain of the night before, as I had neglected to provide a way for the water to pass through the box. The chickens that escaped drowning had been suffocated. We threw the dead ones into a side ditch, and hastened to the city. No time was lost in disposing of the ten dying fowls at about half their original cost.

We held a consultation and agreed that the chicken business was disagreeable and unpleasant anyhow. Then and there we decided to withdraw from it in favor of almost any other scheme either might suggest. While speculating on what to try next, the grocer to whom we had sold the chickens remarked that he would give eighteen cents per dozen for eggs delivered in quantities of not less than one hundred dozen. I felt certain I could buy them in the country so as to realize a fair profit. After demolishing the chicken rack and loading our wagon with a lot of boxes and barrels, we started on our hunt for eggs. We soon learned that by driving several miles away to small villages, we could buy them from country merchants for twelve cents per dozen.

We bought over three hundred dozen and started back with only one dollar in cash left to defray expenses.

On the way our team became frightened at a steam engine and ran fully two miles at the top of their speed over a stone pike road. We were unable to manage them, but at last succeeded in reining them into a fence corner, where we landed with a crash, knocking down about three rods of fence, and coming to a sudden halt with one horse and half of the wagon on the opposite side, and the eggs flying about, scattered in all directions.

I landed on my head in a ditch, while the wagon-seat landed “right side up with care” on the road side, with Rollin sitting squarely in it as if unmolested. The mishap caused no more damage to horses and wagon than a slight break of the wagon pole and a bad scare for the horses.

But it was a sight to behold! The yelks streaming down through the cracks of the wagon box.

I felt that my last and only hopes were blasted as I gazed on that mixture of bran and eggs.

We were but a short distance from the city, whither we hastened and drove immediately to the bay shore.

There we unloaded the boxes and barrels and began sorting out the whole eggs and cracked ones. After washing them we invoiced about twenty-six dozen whole, and four dozen cracked. The latter we sold to a boarding house near by, and the former we peddled out from house to house. We counted our money, which amounted to five dollars and seventy-two cents. We then held another consultation, and decided that “luck had been against us.” We also decided that we had better start at once for home, if we expected to reach there before our last dollar was lost. In our confusion and excitement we prepared to do so, but happened to think we ought to feed our team before making so long a journey.

We returned to a grocery store, and after buying fifteen cents’ worth of oats, drove to a side street, unhitched our horses, and turned their heads to the wagon to feed, after which we went to a bakery and ate bologna sausage and crackers for dinner.

On returning to the wagon we found a large fleshy gentleman awaiting us. He wore a long ulster coat and a broad-brimmed hat, and carried a large cane. After making several inquiries as to the ownership of the team, where we hailed from, and what our business was, he politely informed us that he was an officer of the law, and would be obliged to take us before the Mayor of the city. We asked what we had done that we should be arrested.

He simply informed us that we would find out when we got there.

We protested against any such proceedings, when he threw back his coat-collar, exposing his “star” to full view, and sternly commanded us to follow him. On our way to the Mayor’s office I urged him to tell us the trouble, but in vain. I thought of every thing I had ever done, and wondered if there were any law against accidentally breaking eggs or having chickens die on our hands. We arrived there only to find that the Mayor was at dinner.

The suspense was terrible!

The more I thought about it, the more guilty I thought I was.

In a few moments he returned, and I am certain I looked and acted as though I had been carrying off a bank.

When his Majesty took his seat, the officer informed him that we had been violating the city ordinance by feeding our horses on the streets. The Executive asked what we had to say for ourselves.

We acknowledged the truth of the statement, but undertook to explain our ignorance of the law.

He reminded us that ignorance of law excused no one, and our fine would be five dollars and costs, the whole amount of which would be seven dollars and fifty cents.

At this juncture we saw the necessity for immediate action towards our defense, as the jail was staring us in the face.

Rollin, who was older and more experienced than myself, and withal a brilliant sort of lad, took our case in hand and made a plea that would have done credit to a country lawyer.

It resulted in a partial verdict in our favor, for after explaining our misfortunes and that all the money we had left was five dollars and thirty-seven cents, and as proof of our statement counted it out on his desk, he remitted what we lacked, but said as he raked in the pile, “Well, boys, I am very sorry for your misfortunes and will let you down easy this time, but you must be more careful hereafter.”

I replied that he needn’t have any fears of our ever violating their city ordinance again, as it was my impression that would be our last visit there.

We left for home without any further ceremony, neither seeming to have anything particular to say. I don’t believe half a dozen words passed between us during the whole twenty miles ride.

On arriving home my mother anxiously inquired how I came out with my chicken deal.

“Well, I came out alive,” I replied.

“How much money did you make?” she asked.

“How much money did I make? Well, when I got to Sandusky I discovered all my chickens were dead but ten,” and explained the cause.

“Where have you been that you did not return home sooner?” she asked next.

I explained my egg contract and my trip in the country to procure them.

“Well, how was that speculation?” she asked.

“About the same as with the chickens,” was my answer. When I entered into particulars concerning the wreck she became greatly disgusted, and sarcastically remarked:

“I am really surprised that you had sense enough to come home before losing your last dollar.”

“Well,” I replied, “I am gratified to know that such a condition of affairs would be no surprise to you, as it is an absolute fact that I have been cleaned out of not only my last dollar but my last penny.”

I then rehearsed the visit to the Mayor and its results.

She gave me an informal notice that my services were required in the potato patch, and to fill the position creditably I should rise at five o’clock on the following morning.