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On my way home, I formed the acquaintance of a young man, Fleming by name, who had been employed in a soap factory in Chicago, and was on his way to Toledo, where his parents resided. He said he had a new recipe for making a splendid toilet soap, which could be put on the market for less money and with a larger profit than any other ever manufactured.

With a little capital and an enterprising salesman on the road, a fortune could be made very soon.

I stated the amount of my cash capital, and assured him of my ability as a salesman, and my desire to engage in a good paying business.

When we arrived at Toledo, and before we separated, we had nearly completed arrangements for forming a co-partnership, I agreeing to return in a few days for that purpose. I hastened home and notified my folks of my success.

My mother said “it was merely a streak of good luck.” Mr. Keefer said “he didn’t know about that.”

She said I had better leave enough with them to pay that note of one hundred and fifty dollars, which would soon come due, but Mr. Keefer said it wasn’t due yet and there was no hurry about it anyhow, and that I had better invest it in that soap business.

I returned to Toledo, where I met Mr. Fleming, who had rented a building and contracted for materials and utensils. We started our business under the firm name of “Johnston & Fleming, Manufacturers of Fine Toilet Soap.”

I advanced the necessary money to meet our obligations, after which we made up a sample lot, and I started on the road.

My orders were taken on condition that the goods were to be paid for promptly in ten days.

I sold to druggists and grocers, and made enough sales in one week to keep our factory running to its “fullest capacity” for at least four weeks. I then returned to Toledo and began filling orders.

As soon as ten days had expired, after having sent out our first orders, we began sending out statements, asking for remittances.

We received but two small payments, when letters began pouring in from our customers condemning us and our soap.

The general complaint was that it had all dried or shriveled up, and as some claimed, evaporated.

One druggist wrote in, saying the soap was there, or what there was left of it, subject to our orders. He was thankful he had not sold any of it, and was glad he had discovered the fraud before it had entirely disappeared and before he had paid his bill!

Another druggist stated that he had analyzed it and would swear that it was made of “wind and water;” while still another declared that his wife had attempted to wash with a cake of it, and was obliged to send down town for some “soap” to remove the grease from her hands.

After reading a few of these letters, I opened my traveling case, took out my original sample box, and discovered at once that in shaking it, it rattled like a rattle-box. I raised the cover and found my twelve sweet-scented, pretty cakes of soap had almost entirely withered away, and the odor was more like a glue factory than a crack toilet soap. We made strenuous efforts to satisfy them, by making all manner of excuses and apologies but to no purpose. In every instance “the soap was there subject to our orders.”

My partner was much chagrined at the outcome and sudden collapse of our firm, and no doubt felt the situation more deeply than myself, although I was the loser financially.

After borrowing money enough from an old school-mate, I paid my board bill and bought a ticket for home. I had been away less than four weeks.

I first met Mr. Keefer at the barn and explained to him “just how it all happened,” and how the soap dried up, and how I had become stranded at Toledo and borrowed money to get home with.

He said he guessed he would have to let me have the money to pay the fellow back, as I had promised, which he did, and a few dollars besides.

I then went to the house and explained matters to my mother.

She said I might have known just how that soap business would end, and reminded me of the request she made about leaving money enough to pay the note and informed me that I needn’t expect any help from Mr. Keefer, for he should not give me a penny.

The next day while in town, I met and got into conversation with a friend who was on his way to Huntington, Ind., to take a position as an agent for selling fruit trees. He showed me a letter from the General agent of an Eastern nursery, who stated that there were vacancies at Huntington for half a dozen live, enterprising young men. I had just about cash enough to pay my fare there, and decided to go.

We arrived there the next day, only to find that the fruit tree men had gone to the southern part of the State.

I explained to Charlie that I was rather low financially, when he informed me that he was a little short himself, but that I could rest assured that so long as he had any money he would divide.

Forepaugh’s Menagerie was advertised to be at Huntington two days later, and we decided to await its arrival and see what might turn up in our favor.

The menagerie arrived and drew an immense crowd of people.

I had frequently seen men sell prize packages at fairs, and conducting almost all kinds of schemes to make money, and it occurred to me that with such a large crowd, and so few street salesmen, there was a good opportunity for making money, if one could strike the right thing.

I consulted with Charlie, who said he would be able to raise about two dollars after paying our board.

I suggested my plan, which he considered favorably.

We purchased a tin box and three large cakes of James S. Kirk’s laundry soap, and some tinfoil.

We cut the soap into small, equal sized cakes about three inches long, and a half inch square at the ends. We then cut small strips of writing paper, and after marking 25c on some of them and 50c, 75c, and $1.00 and $2.00 on an occasional one, we pasted a strip of this paper on each cake of soap, some prizes and many blanks. We then cut the tinfoil and wrapped it nicely around the soap and put it into the tin box. Then after borrowing a couple of boxes and a barrel from a merchant, put them out on the street and turned the barrel bottom side up on top of one of the boxes.

I then mounted the other box, and soon gathered an immense crowd by crying out, at the top of my voice:

“Oh yes! oh yes! oh yes! Gentlemen, every one of you come right this way; come a running; come a running, everybody come right this way!

“I have here, gentlemen, the erasive soap for removing tar, pitch, paint, oil or varnish from your clothing. Every other cake contains a prize from twenty-five cents to a two-dollar note.”

We found no trouble in making sales and but little trouble in paying off those who were lucky. Our profits were sixteen dollars that day.

The next day we opened at Fort Wayne, Ind., where the show attracted a large crowd, and our profits were thirty-six dollars.

From there we went to Columbia City, where our profits were twenty-two dollars. Our fourth and last sale was made at Warsaw, where we were having excellent success, when a large, portly gentleman (whom I afterwards learned was Mr. Wood, the prosecuting attorney), came up to our stand, and after listening awhile and watching the results, went away, and in a few moments returned with the city marshal, who placed me under arrest for violating a new law just passed, to prohibit the running of gift enterprises. They took me before the Mayor, who read the charges against me, and asked what I had to say.

I informed him I had taken out city license, which I supposed entitled me to the privilege of selling.

He then read the new law to me, I plead ignorance, and asked the Mayor to be lenient. He imposed a fine of twenty-five dollars and costs, which altogether amounted to thirty-two dollars and fifty cents, which we paid.

The prosecuting attorney then explained to me, that such a law had recently been passed in almost every State.

This satisfied me that there was absolutely no money in the soap business. My partner and I divided up what little money we had left and there separated. He returned to Ohio and I visited a daughter of Mr. Keefer’s, who had married a wealthy farmer, Smith by name, and was residing in Branch County, Michigan.