Read CHAPTER XXXIV of Twenty Years of Hus'ling , free online book, by J. P. Johnston, on ReadCentral.com.

ANOTHER HORSE TRADE--A HEAVY LOSS--PLAYING DETECTIVE--MY VISIT HOME--A RETROSPECT--CALLING IN MY AGENTS--A NEW SCHEME--IT’S A WINNER--MR. KEEFER AND MY MOTHER VISIT CHICAGO--HIS VERDICT, “IT DOES BEAT THE DEVIL.”

We continued to travel by team, and my great stronghold was to collect bad debts, many of which I collected almost by force.

On this trip one of our horses became lame, and one morning just as we were ready to start out from the hotel a gentleman came driving up with a fine-looking span of horses, that, although appearing rather green and awkward, made a very handsome and stylish pair. He stopped near our carriage, and I inquired how old his horses were. He said four years. I asked:

“How will you trade teams with me?”

After looking my horses over carefully, and without leaving his carriage, he replied:

“For one hundred and twenty-five dollars to boot.”

“All right, sir. Here is your money,” and I counted it out and handed it over to him.

“But what sort of a team are you trading me?”

“No matter, sir. You have got your money, so unhitch, and I’ll do the same.”

He hesitated a moment, but when the crowd of men standing by began laughing at him, he commenced to unhitch.

Before leaving him I remarked that I had too much business on hand to spend any time with a lame horse, nor did I care to dicker a minute on a horse trade.

Ten minutes later we were driving off with a pair of colts that had never been hitched or driven but three times.

We finished our business in Northern Michigan, and drove this team home, where I broke them to drive tandem.

The following spring I started on the road with my team hitched tandem to a two-wheeled cart with my advertisement on the side and back.

A few weeks later I hired a Mr. Rhodes to travel for me, and he took charge of the tandem team and traveled with them. They made a splendid advertisement for my business and it was looked upon by our customers as quite a novel way to travel.

I now remained at home and had my hands full looking after the failures that were coming thick and fast. It seemed to me that every other man who failed was owing me.

Dr. Frank was still with me and rendered very valuable service in the collection of hard accounts. He had not entirely gotten over his pugilistic propensities, and whenever I found it necessary to instruct him to call on a dead beat and “bring something back with him,” he generally returned with a wad of money or a wad of hair.

About this time I had a little experience myself, at a town in Ohio, which might be worth mentioning. One of my customers, a retail jeweler, was owing me over eleven hundred dollars. As we could get no word from him in answer to our request for a remittance, we made a draft on him, and were informed by the banker that the firm had “gone up” three or four weeks before; also that the store was being run by a man who had bought it at sheriff’s sale to satisfy a chattel mortgage. Only two months before, I had received a statement from the proprietor, who claimed that the stock was free from incumbrance, and everything in good shape. So I concluded that an open swindle had been perpetrated.

I took the train for the town where he was doing business, and on my arrival learned that the other creditors had been there ahead of me, and not one had succeeded in getting the least satisfaction. I visited the store, and could not see a single article in the show-cases that I could identify as goods I had sold him. This alone convinced me more than ever that I had been swindled completely out of my goods.

I instituted a vigorous search for a clew of some kind which might lead to their discovery, but without success; and was just about to leave town when I inquired if the late jewelry firm had employed any clerks or errand boys before collapsing.

Upon learning that they had employed a small boy then residing with the ex-manager, and realizing that my chances for getting information from that quarter would be pretty slim, I inquired if the lad had any relatives living there. The hotel clerk told me that his father and sister were living but a short distance away, and pointed out the house to me. I called at once, but with not an inkling of an idea of what I would say or do when I should be admitted; and trusting implicitly to the inspiration of the moment.

When I rapped at the door, it was opened by a tall, lank, angular and cadaverous-looking young woman of about eighteen, who by the way was big enough to peddle grind-stones.

I was surprised to learn that she was a sister of the lad referred to, as I had gotten the impression that she was much younger.

The instant I saw the style of person I had to deal with, it occurred to me that a little stratagem might be worth several hundred dollars to me, if properly directed, just at that particular time. Without a moment’s reflection, and before she had time to offer me a chair, I stepped back as if greatly amazed, and said:

“Miss , I never was more surprised I never saw anything like it I can’t believe my own eyes it seems like a dream.”

“What do you mean?”

“Why, do you know, you are the exact image of a young lady I was once engaged to; and she died on the very day set for the wedding. I never saw anything like it!”

I then told her my name and business. She had often heard her brother speak of such a wholesale jewelry house; and I could see that she was on her guard, and probably knew more than she intended to convey. Convinced of this, I felt certain that I had made a good beginning, and that the first thing for me to do was to pour love into her ear, and win her over to my side if possible. So I returned to my former subject without delay, and after repeating the statement that she was the image of my deceased love, I told her that she was the first and only person I had ever met since that sad day, who interested me.

She smiled serenely, and did not seem displeased.

I next asked her if she was married.

She was not, and declared there was no favorable prospect.

I replied that perhaps her prospects were better than she supposed.

She smiled again, and seemed even less displeased than before, and moved her chair nearer mine.

I then began talking at a rapid rate, giving her no chance whatever to express herself, and directing my remarks in a way that would cause her to think I matrimonially inclined. By this time she had finished chewing off one corner of her apron and had tackled the other. Her eyes were fairly dancing with delight.

Her cheeks had flushed considerably, and she seemed at a loss to know what to do with her brawny hands and ponderous feet.

I quickly observed that my scheme was working to a charm and continued my love-making, asserting myself boldly; then to test her feeling in the matter, I asked her to express herself freely, without hesitation, as I didn’t care to have my affections trifled with.

Then drawing her chair nearer mine, she remarked, in her most fascinating manner, that the only feller she ever did like had red hair and a large red moustache; then, having finished up the apron, she blurted out:

“How many times you ben married? Mebbe you got one or two wives neow.”

“For gracious’ sake! do you think I look as though I’d ever been married? I guess I’ll leave.”

“Well, I don’t know’s you do; but you look like you’d make an awful nice man.”

She moved her chair still closer to mine.

I now thought it the proper time to spring a little tragedy on her. Suddenly changing the subject by referring to the late jewelry firm’s failure, I confidentially informed her of my great loss. Then I jumped to my feet, and a moment later began prancing around the room, raving like a maniac. After that I related to her how I had placed confidence in those scoundrels, and as my loss was so severe unless I should be fortunate enough to get my goods back, I would soon be a ruined man financially.

Her sympathies were at once aroused, and she began to show signs of a desire to say or do something in my behalf, when suddenly she changed her mind and became silent. I talked more love, and immediately got another spell on, and pranced around but a few times when she made a dash for me; and as I caught her before she had time to make a complete fall, she straightened up, and placing her hands on my shoulders, said:

“Mr. Johnston, dare I tell you what I know?”

“Yes, you dare.”

“Well, I’ll tell you something; but please don’t give me away.”

I assured her that her name would never be mentioned. So she told me that I would find several packages of jewelry and watches in the bureau drawers, at the house of a certain family then in town. Her brother had told her this. I thanked her, and would have kissed her had she not been so beastly homely.

I bade her good-bye, promising to return soon, and started for my lawyer’s office, consoling myself as I went with the thought that an hour and a half courtship would not be likely to break her heart or drive her crazy, when she should learn the facts of the case.

After detailing to the lawyer the information I had gained, we decided to proceed to a Justice of the Peace and get out a search warrant for the goods and a State warrant for the arrest of the ex-manager. My legal adviser explained to me that the searching of a person’s residence without finding what we were after, might result seriously, as the owner could enter suit against me for damages.

While I was not desirous of getting into trouble by such procedure, I was nevertheless anxious to procure my goods, and determined to risk it.

While the lawyers were making out the papers I went to the hotel, and while there, was called upon by the ex-manager, who apparently realized that there was something in the wind, and showed plainly that he was nervous and excited.

He asked my intentions, telling me he would aid me all he could in finding the former proprietor.

I requested him to accompany me to the Justice’s office; and there I showed him the warrants, and told him they would be ready to serve in about one minute. As we had an officer present to serve the papers, he began to feel himself getting into close quarters. So calling me to one side he asked if I would be willing to drop the matter if he would turn over to me eleven hundred dollars’ worth of goods.

“I’ll take fifteen hundred dollars’ worth, and drop it; that amount will pay me for all my trouble and expense.”

“But I haven’t got only thirteen hundred and fifty dollars’ worth. I’ll give you all I have, and the stock consists of the choicest line of solid gold jewelry and watches.”

I accepted his offer, of course. The goods were as he represented, the very choicest line of watches and jewelry.

I then selected a handsome present for my new girl, and returned with it to her house. Before letting her know just how I had fooled her, I determined to ascertain, if possible, the whereabouts of the former proprietor of the store, as I wanted a bill of sale from him fearing that the ex-manager’s title might not be good, and the acceptance of a bill of sale from him would be taking chances.

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 assuring 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 Saturday, 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 practitioner 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 amusement. 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.

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 Saturday 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.

He appeared rather incredulous, and seemed doubtful of my sincerity, and when he called on Monday morning as requested, and closed the deal as agreed upon, he looked me over carefully as though not quite certain of my sanity, and finally said:

“Well, Mr. Johnston, I have been in the real estate business for a long time and have transacted business with many different men, but there are two things I have done with you that I never did before.”

“What are they?” I asked.

“Well, I never sold a house in the dark before, nor have I ever closed a deal of this kind in fifteen minutes before, and never heard of a similar case, especially with entire strangers.”

We took possession on the first of September, and immediately began the building of a barn which was completed in due time.

We very soon became dissatisfied with suburban life, and anxious to return to the city; but having expended considerable money in building the barn, and other improvements, we decided to remain at all hazards.

Six months later one of my most valuable horses was taken sick, and died on a Saturday morning. On the following Monday, just as I had gotten settled down to business in my office, I received a telephone message from a friend at Woodlawn Park, to the effect that my barn was on fire, but that my horses, harnesses and carriages were all safe.

I immediately said to my wife:

“Well, you can get ready to move now. A horse died Saturday, the barn burned Monday and we’ll move Tuesday.”

So saying, I called up my printer, Mr. G. M. D. Libby, by telephone, and dictated a hand-bill to be printed immediately, advertising all of our household furniture to be sold at auction.

The bills were run off at once, and before the fire engines and crowds had left the scene of the fire, I was on the ground distributing circulars.

The question was frequently asked, who was going to be the auctioneer. I would reply that I thought of trying it myself. This amused the questioners and I had a large crowd in attendance, many of whom no doubt came to hear me in my first effort at auctioneering. The evening after the sale I called at of the grocery stores in the town, and several men were discussing me as an auctioneer, and all agreed that for a beginner I did mighty well. One man said that a person would naturally suppose that the fellow had had years of experience as an auctioneer.

We moved immediately after making the sale, and found a tenant for the house without any trouble; and as I have been offered an advance of several hundred dollars on the price I paid for the place, I have had no reason to regret my hasty purchase. I lost but little on the sale of my household goods, and collected insurance for a portion of the loss on the barn, so I came out pretty well after all.

We were glad enough, however, to get back to the city, and rented a suite of rooms at the Pullman Building, which we still occupy; and being located near my place of business, we find it much pleasanter, and waste no time running after and waiting for, suburban trains.

During our residence at Woodlawn Park, we became so accustomed to running to catch trains, that through force of habit, no matter where we were, or how far from a Railroad track, the moment we would hear the sound of a bell ringing, or a steam whistle blowing, our first impulse was to start on the dead run.

I will here mention the particulars of a trade I made for the barber’s shop, while residing in the suburb.

One day I traded for a small, handsome horse, and the following morning saddled him and went out for a horse-back ride. On my return I happened to stop in front of the barber shop, when the tonsorial artist asked how I’d trade my horse for the shop.

“I’ll leave it with you,” was my reply.

“I’ll trade even.”

“All right, sir; it’s a bargain. Come and get the horse, and give me the keys.”

So saying, I dismounted and took possession. After mounting the animal, he said he’d take it to the barn, and return in a few moments and continue to run the shop for me till I could hire another barber. He then left me in charge. No sooner had he done so than a well-dressed stranger came rushing into the shop, threw off his hat and coat, took a seat in the chair, and said:

“Please hurry up, Mr. Barber, as I want to catch the next train for the city.”

Expecting the barber to return at once, I thought it a good idea to try and hold my first customer till he should arrive. I therefore threw off my hat and coat, grabbed the mug, made a lot of lather, and began daubing it on as thick as possible all over his face. I then wiped it off, and lathered him again, expecting the barber in every minute to take the job off my hands.

As he did not come, I was obliged to resort to the towel the second time, and lather him once more. Then stepping to the door to see if the barber was visible, and discovering that he was not I returned to my customer, and wiping off his face began lathering him again. I now saw that he was getting nervous and anxious, and concluded to try and entertain him with some sort of a “ghost story.” Just as I was trying to conjure up something to “spring on him” he remarked that I wasn’t very sparing of my soap.

“No, sir. I am not stingy with soap; and by the way, this soap is different from any you ever saw before. This, sir, is the homa-jona, radical, tragical, incomprehensible compound extract of the double-distilled rute-te-tute shaving soap.”

I then went on with my auction talk on soap already familiar to the reader, and spun it out to him as rapidly as I could, without a pause, or the least hesitation.

While doing so, instead of making my usual gestures, I kept the brush full of lather, and with increased enthusiasm slashed it on, first on one side and then on the other, till I had gone through a large part of my auction talk.

Meanwhile I had been constantly thinking of a story told me, when but a small boy, of a young man in a country town who had been placed in almost exactly the same predicament that I was in at that moment. I made up my mind, if worse came to worse, I would get out of my scrape the same as the other fellow did.

Therefore, having nearly finished my soap talk, I wiped his face once more, and had made up a lot of new lather to give him one more round, when I squared myself in front of him in a confidential way, and said:

“And another thing about this soap that I haven’t told you about, is

“Well, by Heavens! man,” he interrupted, “you have got to hurry.”

I saw that the poor fellow was fairly paralyzed, and didn’t know whether to try and make his escape or not.

“Sure enough,” I replied, as I lathered him up again, and went on with more talk about my soap. I felt certain that the barber would return before I could finish lathering him this time; but he did not and I was obliged to wipe off his face again, and had succeeded in giving one more coat of lather, when he raised up in the chair and said:

“Great guns! ain’t you ever going to shave me?”

“Oh!” I answered, with apparent surprise, “do you want to get shaved?”

“Why, of course I do, you infernal fool! What do you suppose I?”

“Oh, well,” I replied, recalling the aforesaid story to mind, “you get shaved across the street. We only lather, here.”

He jumped from the chair, snatched a towel from the rack, wiped off part of the lather, seized his hat and coat, and was swearing like a pirate, as he rushed out with his ears and neck full of lather.

Just as he passed out the barber came in, and I called, “Next!” at the top of my voice. After crossing the street he started for the depot, but continued to gaze towards the barber shop with a look of vengeance, as he wiped off the lather with his handkerchief.

The barber was at a loss to understand the meaning of such actions on the part of a customer; but I readily explained to him that the fellow was mad because he didn’t like our kind of soap.

A few moments later one of the regular customers came in, and had just taken his seat in the chair, when I noticed marked on the mirror in front of him, “Shaving, 10 cents.”

I stepped to the glass and wiping the cipher off, made a 5 in its place. Our customer quickly asked what that meant. I replied:

“That means that this shop has changed hands, and from this time on, prices on all work done here will be sufficient to warrant success.”

He jumped to his feet, declaring that he would not allow any man to come such a game on him, and that he’d never pay fifteen cents for a shave. He left the shop in high dudgeon, and the barber declared I’d ruin the business in less than ten days.

I kept the price up, however, and after hiring a man to run it, made it a paying investment. A few months later I sold out to the man who now runs it. About a week after my experience in the barber shop, my horses and carriage had been driven around in front of my place of business, and myself and wife were about to take a drive. Two or three acquaintances happened along, and we conversed with them for a few moments before driving away. I noticed my late victim standing on the sidewalk staring at me with all the eyes he had. We drove away, leaving him still staring.

Not long after this, one of these friends just referred to came to my office, and asked if I had anything to do with a barber shop at Woodlawn Park.

With apparent surprise, I asked the meaning of the inquiry. He said the day we went out for a drive a strange gentleman stepped up to him and asked what that man’s name was, and what he was doing with such a team. My friend answered, “Why, that is Johnston, the wholesale jeweler, and he owns that team.”

“Wholesale nothing!” was the reply. “He is the barber at Woodlawn, or thinks he is, at least, and I’ll bet he never owned a dog, to say nothing of a team like that.”

He was assured that he was mistaken.

He became excited, and offered to bet any amount that that fellow was the barber at Woodlawn, and he guessed he knew what he was talking about, and that he would know that fellow among a million.

Before bringing this volume to a close I wish to say for the benefit of those who may have met with reverses, and are possibly on the verge of giving up all hope of achieving success, that during my “twenty years of hus’ling” I found the great secret of every success I met with was energy. Never quit, never give up, never look on the dark side, and no matter how dismal the prospects seemed, or how rocky the past had been, I never allowed myself to become disheartened or in any way discouraged. The average man is too willing to let well enough alone. Instead of making his business a constant study with a view of devising some new method of conducting it, he is liable to sit down with a self-satisfied conviction that so long as he is holding his own he should be satisfied. No man can make a greater mistake than to adopt these old-fogy ideas. The idea of being satisfied with their lot, I believe has kept many men from progressing; it requires no energy whatever to conclude to let well enough alone; it is a very easy resolution to make and not a hard one to keep, and like the bad-luck excuse, is likely to afford much satisfaction to those who are not ambitious to push ahead.

I believe every man should build up his hopes and aspirations, not to extremes, but so far as to elevate his ideas to a realization that a mere living should not satisfy him through life, and nothing short of the best paying and most prominent position would gratify him.

The young man starting out in life who for a while only succeeds in holding his own or possibly meets with reserves, should be manly enough to find no fault, but he should be too much of a man to remain satisfied with a bare living.

It pays to be reasonably aggressive in all things. The man who shows a disposition to look out for his own welfare and not be imposed upon by others, will invariably receive the most attention and be taken the best care of under all circumstances. He should not allow false pride or dudish notions to interfere in the least with his business.

He should realize that the mere comforts of life with a respectable appearance is sufficient for one starting out, and that a few years hence when he has established for himself a lucrative business with a reputation for honesty and business integrity, there will be no likelihood of any one ever reminding him of his former humble circumstances.

He should never attempt to mingle in a social way with those whose financial standing and expensive habits of living far exceed his own. While he should cultivate the acquaintance of business men of the highest standing, it should only be done in a business way.

When his business shows an increase of profits, he should improve in his mode of living, as a matter of social advancement.

The young man as a beginner should avoid stingy and penurious methods. This is as often an acquired habit as it is a natural one, and will always work more or less detrimental to a business. No man can afford to be close and trifling in his deal. It not only belittles him in the eyes of the world, but he very soon recognizes in himself a person of narrow ideas; and the man with a poor opinion of himself will surely not prove a success in the business world. While I believe in judicious economy, I despise penuriousness.

If a man has but a dollar to spend, I believe he should spend it in as princely a style as though he had a million left. But if he hasn’t the dollar to spare, he should make no pretensions whatever.

Opportunity has no doubt frequently played a large part in man’s success. In my opinion, however, the most acceptable theory in the science of commercial success is that every man takes his own.

That is, the man who is the most sagacious and energetic will never lose a chance to take advantage of opportunities, and there is no doubt that what many complain of as being ill luck, is simply the result of their failure to grasp the situation that a shrewder man would have taken advantage of and thereby gained success.

The average young man in starting out usually endeavors to form a co-partnership with his best friend or nearest neighbor, regardless of capital or ability, the result of which is, that each will depend on the other to make the business a success, and neither will be likely to develop his fullest capacity for doing business.

The man who has force of character enough to assert his own rights and to carry out his own independent thoughts will usually be the most successful without a partner.

The old adage, “A rolling stone gathers no moss,” has not in my experience always proved a true saying. Nor have I found it to be so in the experience of many successful men with whom I have come in contact.

My observation of others has shown me that in many instances men have lost their last dollar in the vain endeavor to successfully carry out a business that a short experimental trial should have convinced them would be a failure.

As for myself, I am always willing to investigate and experiment, but not to the extent of risking my last dollar on what a reasonable test proves unprofitable, simply through fear of being considered “a rolling stone.”

I have at present, and have had for some time what might be considered many irons in the fire, and have thus far never had any of them seriously burned, owing no doubt to the fact that I always endeavor to surround myself with competent help, and especially with a good lieutenant at the head of each business.

And I have adopted the plan of pushing to its utmost capacity that which, after a reasonable test, showed elements of success, and dropping as I would a hot coal that which proved the reverse.

My latest business enterprise although still running the jewelry business with more force than ever is my connection with the Johnston Car-seat Company, manufacturing the Emmert Coach and Reclining Car-seat, which has been adopted by many of the leading Railroad companies.

I mention this to show that I do not believe in the old-fogy theory of our forefathers, to “let well enough alone;” and were I the possessor of fifty times the wealth of Croesus I would never quit, but still keep hus’ling.