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´╗┐Title: Tales of the Road
Author: Crewdson, Charles N. (Charles Newman)
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Tales of the Road" ***

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[Illustration: "He is the steam--and a big part of the engine too--
that makes business move"]





Dedicated to Alex C. Ritchey, Salesman.
the Author's Friend.


I     The square deal wins
II    Clerks, cranks and touches
III   Social arts as salesmen's assets
IV    Tricks of the trade
V     The helping hand
VI    How to get on the road
VII   First experiences in selling
VIII  Tactics in selling--I
IX    Tactics in selling--II
X     Tactics in selling--III
XI    Cutting prices
XII   Canceled orders
XIII  Concerning credit men
XIV   Winning the customer's good will
XV    Salesmen's don'ts
XVI   Merchants the salesman meets
XVII  Hiring and handling salesmen
XVIII Hearts behind the order book


He is the steam--and a big part of the engine too--that makes business

Larry let business drop entirely and danced a jig

"Whenever I let go the buggy handle the baby yelled"

"Tonight we dance, tomorrow we sell clothes again"
"I listened to episodes in the lives of all those seven children"

"I braced the old man--It wasn't exactly a freeze but there was a lot
of frost in the air"

"You ought to have seen his place"

"My stomach was beginning to gnaw, but I didn't dare go out"

"In big headlines I read 'Great Fire in Chicago'"

"Well, Woody," said he, "You seem to be taking things pretty easy"

"You'd better write that down with a pencil" said Harry

"Shure, that cigare is a birrd"

"He came in with his before breakfast grouch"
"I'm treed" said the drayman. "They're as heavy as lead"

"What explanation have you to make of this, sir?"

"He tried to jolly her along, but she was wise"

The author wishes to acknowledge his special debt of gratitude to the



Salesmanship is the business of the world; it is about all there is to
the world of business. Enter the door of a successful wholesale or
manufacturing house and you stand upon the threshold of an
establishment represented by first-class salesmen. They are the steam
--and a big part of the engine, too--that makes business move.

I saw in print, the other day, the statement that salesmanship is the
"fourth profession." It is not; it is the first. The salesman, when he
starts out to "get there," must turn more sharp corners, "duck"
through more alleys and face more cold, stiff winds than any kind of
worker I know. He must think quickly, yet use judgment; he must act
quickly and still have on hand a rich store of patience; he must work
hard, and often long. He must coax one minute and "stand pat" the
next. He must persuade--persuade the man he approaches that he needs
_his_ goods and make him buy them--yes, _make_ him. He is messenger
boy, train dispatcher, department buyer, credit man, actor, lawyer and
politician--all under one hat!

By "salesman" I do not mean the man who stands behind the counter and
lets the customer who comes to him and wants to buy a necktie slip
away because the spots on the silk are blue instead of green; nor do I
mean the man who wraps up a collar, size 16, and calls "cash;" I mean
the man who takes his grip or sample trunks and goes to hunt his
customer--the traveling salesman. Certainly there are salesmen
_behind_ the counter, and he has much in common with the man on
the road.

To the position of traveling salesman attach independence, dignity,
opportunity, substantial reward. Many of the tribe do not appreciate
this; those do so best who in time try the "professional life." When
they do they usually go back to the road happy to get there again. Yet
were they permanently to adopt a profession--say the law--they would
make better lawyers because they had been traveling men. Were many
professional men to try the road, they would go back to their first
occupation because forced to. The traveling man can tell you why! I
bought, a few days ago, a plaything for my small boy. What do you
suppose it was? A toy train. I wish him to get used to it--for when he
grows up I am going to put him on the road hustling trunks.

My boy will have a better chance for success at this than at anything
else. If he has the right sort of stuff in him he will soon lay the
foundation for a life success; if he hasn't I'll soon find it out. As
a traveling salesman he will succeed quickly or not at all. In the
latter event, I'll set him to studying a profession. When he goes on
the road he may save a great part of his salary, for the firm he will
represent will pay his living expenses while traveling for them. He
will also have many leisure hours, and even months, in which to study
for a profession if he chooses; or, if he will, he may spend his "out
of season" months in foreign travel or any phase of intellectual
culture--and he will have the money _of his own earning_ with which to
do it. Three to six or eight months is as much time as most traveling
men can profitably give to selling goods on the road; the rest is
theirs to use as they please.

Every man who goes on the road does not succeed--not by any means. The
road is no place for drones; there are a great many drops of the honey
of commerce waiting in the apple blossoms along the road, but it takes
the busy "worker" bee to get it. The capable salesman may achieve
great success, not only on the road, but in any kind of activity. "The
road" is a great training school. The chairman of the Transportation
Committee in the Chicago city council, only a few years ago was a
traveling man. He studied law daily and went into politics while he
yet drew the largest salary of any man in his house. Marshall Field
was once a traveling man; John W. Gates sold barbed wire before he
became a steel king. These three men are merely types of successful
traveling men.

Nineteen years ago, a boy of 15, I quit picking worms off of tobacco
plants and began to work in a wholesale house, in St. Louis, at $5 per
week--and I had an even start with nearly every man ever connected
with the firm. The president of the firm today, now also a bank
president and worth a million dollars, was formerly a traveling man;
the old vice-president of the house, who is now the head of another
firm in the same line, used to be a traveling man; the present vice-
president and the president's son-in-law was a traveling man when I
went with the firm; one of the directors, who went with the house
since I did, is a traveling man. Another who traveled for this firm is
today a vice-president of a large wholesale dry goods house; one more
saved enough to go recently into the wholesale business for himself.
Out of the lot six married daughters of wealthy parents, and thirty or
more, who keep on traveling, earn by six months or less of road work,
from $1200 to $6000 each year. One has done, during his period of
rest, what every one of his fellow salesmen had the chance to do--take
a degree from a great university, obtain a license (which he cannot
afford to use) to practice law, to learn to read, write and speak with
ease two foreign languages and get a smattering of three others, and
to travel over a large part of the world.

Of all the men in the office and stock departments of this firm only
two of them have got beyond $25 a week; and both of them have been
drudges. One has moved up from slave-bookkeeper to credit-man slave
and partner. The other has become a buyer. And even he as well as
being a stock man was a city salesman.

Just last night I met, on leaving the street car, an old school boy
friend who told me that he was soon going to try his hand on the road
selling bonds. He asked me if I could give him any pointers. I said:
"Work and be square--never come down on a price; make the price right
in the beginning." "Oh, I don't know about that," said he. I slapped
him on the breast and answered: "I do!"

I would give every traveling man, every business man, _every man_
this same advice. Say what you will, a square deal is the only thing
to give your customer. You can do a little scaly work and win out at
it for a while; but when you get in the stretch, unless you have
played fair, the short horses will beat you under the wire.

The best customer on my order book came to me because I once had a
chance to do a little crooked work, but didn't. I had a customer who
had been a loyal one for many years. He would not even look at another
salesman's goods--and you know that it is a whole lot of satisfaction
to get into a town and walk into a door where you know you are
"solid." The man on the road who doesn't appreciate and care for a
faithful customer is not much of a man, anyway.

My old customer, Logan, had a little trouble with his main clerk. The
clerk, Fred, got it into his head that the business belonged to him,
and he tried to run it. But Logan wouldn't stand for this sort of work
and "called him down." The clerk became "toppy" and Logan discharged

But, still, Fred had a fairly good standing in the town and interested
an old bachelor, a banker, who had a nephew that he wanted to start in
business. He furnished Fred and his nephew with $10,000 cash capital;
the three formed a partnership to open a new store and "buck" Logan.
Well, you know it is not a bad thing to "stand in" with the head clerk
when you wish to do business in an establishment. So I had always
treated Fred right and he liked me and had confidence in me. In fact,
it's a poor rule to fail to treat all well. I believe that the "boys"
on the road are the most tolerant, patient human beings on earth. To
succeed at their business they must be patient and after a while it
becomes a habit--and a good one, too.

You know how it goes! A merchant gets to handling a certain brand of
goods which is no better than many others in the same line. He gets it
into his head that he cannot do without that particular line. This is
what enables a man on the road to get an established trade. The clerks
in the store also get interested in some special brand because they
have customers who come in and ask for that particular thing a few
times. They do not stop to think that the man who comes in and asks
for a Leopard brand hat or a Knock-'em-out shoe does not have any
confidence in this special shoe or hat, but that he has confidence in
the establishment where he buys it.

So, when I was in Logan's town to sell him his usual bill, his clerk
hailed me from across the street and came over to where I stood. He
told me that he had quit his old job and that he was going to put in a
new stock. I, of course, had to tell him that I must stay with Logan,
but that out of appreciation of his past kindness to me I would do the
best I could to steer him right in my line of goods. I gave him a
personal letter to another firm that I had been with before and who, I
knew, would deal with him fairly.

Fred went in to market. When in the city he tried to buy some goods of
my firm. He intended to take these same goods and sell them for a
lower price than Logan had been getting, and thus cut hard into
Logan's trade. But the big manufacturers, you know, are awake to all
of those tricks and a first-class establishment will always protect
its customers. My house told Fred that before they could sell to him
they would have to get my sanction. They wired me about it, and I, of
course, had to be square with my faithful old friend, Logan; I placed
the matter before him. As I was near by, I wrote him, by special
delivery, and put the case before him. He, for self-protection, wired
my house that he would prefer that they would not sell his old clerk
who was now going to become his competitor. In fact, he said he would
not stand for it.

The very next season things came around so that Logan went out of
business, and then I knew that I was "up against it" in his town--my
old customer gone out of business; Fred not wanting, then, of course,
to buy of me. But I took my medicine and consoled myself with the
thought that a few grains of gold would pan out in the wash.

Up in a large town above Logan's I had a customer named Dave, who had
moved out from Colorado. He was well fixed, but he had not secured the
right location. Say what you will, location has a whole lot to do with
business. Of course, a poor man would not prosper in the busy streets
of Cairo, but the best sort of a hustler would starve to death doing
business on the Sahara. A big store in Dave's new town failed. He had
a chance to buy out the, stock at 75 cents on the dollar. He wished to
do so; but, although he was well-to-do, he didn't have the ready cash.

One night I called on Dave and he laid the case before me. He told me
how sorry he was not to get hold of this "snap." I put my wits
together quickly and I said to him: "Dave, I believe I can do you some

The next morning I went to see a banker, who was a brother-in-law of
Logan's and who had made enough money, merchandising and out of wheat,
down in Logan's old town, to move up to the city and go into the
banking business. The banker knew all about the way that I had treated
his brother-in-law, and I felt that because I had been square with
Logan he would have confidence in anything I would say to him. I laid
the case before the banker. I told him I knew Dave to be well fixed,
to have good credit, to be a good rustler and strictly straight.

In a little while I brought Dave to meet the banker. The banker
immediately, upon my recommendation, told him that he could have all
the money he needed-$16,000. The banker also wired to the people who
owned the stock--he was well acquainted with them--and told them he
would vouch for Dave.

The deal went through all right and Dave now buys every cent's worth,
that he uses in my line, from me. He is the best customer I have; I
got him by _being square_.

A great mistake which some salesmen make when they first start on the
road is to "load" their customers. The experienced man will not do
this, for he soon learns that he will "lose out" by it. A merchant
will not long continue to buy from a traveling man in whom he has no
confidence. He, in great measure, depends on the judgment of the
traveling man as to the styles and quantities he should buy. If the
salesman sells him too much of anything it is only a matter of time
when the merchant will buy from some other man. When a storekeeper
buys goods he invests money; and his heart is not very far from his

The time when the traveling man will ram all he can into an order is
when the merchant splits his business in the salesman's line, buying
the same kind of goods from two or more houses. Then the salesman
sells as much as he can, that he may crowd the other man out. But even
this is poor policy.

I once took on a new town. My predecessor had been getting only a
share of his customer's trade; two others had divided the account with
him. I made up my mind to have all of the account or none. The
merchant went to my sample room and gave me an order for a bill of
hats. He bought at random. When I asked him what sizes he wanted, he
said: "Oh, run 'em regular." "Very well," said I, "but will it not be
well to look through your stock and see just what sizes you need?
Maybe you have quite a number of certain sizes on hand and it will be
needless for you to get more of them. Let's go down to the store and
look through your stock."

We went to his store. The first item on the order he had given me was
one dozen black "Columbias." I found that he had five dozen already on
hand. "Look here," said I, "don't you think I would better scratch
that item off of the bill?" I drew my pencil through the "one dozen

"Now let us go through your whole stock and see if there are not other
items you have duplicated," I suggested. We worked together for four
hours--until after midnight. It was the biggest mess of a stock I ever
saw. When we got through I had cut down my order three-fourths.

"See," said I, showing the merchant my order-book and his stock list--
which every merchant should have when he goes to buy goods--"you have
enough of some kinds to last you three years. Others, because they
have gone out of style, are worth nothing. All you can get out of them
will be clear profit; throw them out and sell them for any price.

"Do you know what has been happening to you right along? Three men--
and the one from my firm is just as guilty as the rest--have been
loading you. Why, if I were a judge and they were brought before me,
I'd sentence them to jail."

"And I guess I ought to be made to go along with them," broke in my
friend, "for participating in the crime."

"That I will leave you to judge," said I, "but there is one thing for
sure: You will not see me back here again for a year; it would be a
crime for anyone to take an order from you during that time. And when
I do come I want all of your business, or none; you haven't enough for
three, or even for two. You can buy no more than you can sell to your
customers, unless you go broke some day. Your interest and my interest
are the same. In truth, I stand on the same side of the counter as you
do. It is to my interest to treat you right. My firm is merely the one
from which you and I together select your goods. Ought I not to see
that they give you the right things at the right prices? If I treat
you right, and my firm does not, you will follow me to another; if I
treat you wrong I'll lose both your confidence and my job."

That man today gives me all of his business; I got him by _being

By being over-conscientious, however, a salesman sometimes will not
let his customer buy enough. This is frequently to the disadvantage of
the merchant. To sell goods a merchant must have goods; to have them
he must buy them. The stingy man has no business in business. Many a
man becomes a merchant and, because he is either too close-fisted or
hasn't enough capital or credit with which to buy goods, is awakened,
some fine morning, by the tapping on his front door of the Sheriff's
hammer. A man may think that if he goes into business his friends will
buy "any old thing, just because it's me"; but he will find out that
when he goes to separate his friends from their coin he must give them
the kind of goods they want. The successful merchant is the man who
carries the stock.

One of my old friends, who was a leading hat salesman of St. Louis,
once told me the following experience:

"Several years ago I was out in western Texas on a team trip. It was a
flush year; cattle were high. I had been having a good time; you know
how it goes--the more one sells the more he wants to sell and can
sell. I heard of a big cattleman who was also running a cross-roads
grocery store. He wanted to put in dry goods, shoes and hats. His
store was only a few miles out of my way so I thought that I would
drive over and see him.

"How I kicked myself when I drove up to his shanty, hardly larger, it
seemed to me, than my straw-goods trunk! But, being there, I thought I
would pick up a small bill anyway. I make it a rule never to overlook
even a little order, for enough of them amount to as much as one big
one. When I went in the old gentleman was tickled to see me and told
me to open up--that he wanted a 'right smart' bill. I thought that
meant about $75.

"I had to leave my trunks outside--the store was so small--so I
brought in at first only a couple of stacks of samples, thinking that
they would be enough. I pulled out a cheap hat and handed it to him.

"'That's a good one for the money,' said I, 'a dollar apiece.' I used
to always show cheap goods first, but I have learned better.

"He looked at my sample in contempt and, pulling a fine Stetson hat
off his head, said: 'Haven't you got some hats like this one?'

"'Yes, but they will cost you $84 a dozen,' I answered, at the same
time handing him a fine beaver quality Stetson.

"'The more they cost the better they suit us cattlemen; we are not
paupers, suh! How many come in a box?'


"'Two?' said he. 'You must be talking about a pasteboard box; I mean a
wooden box, a case.'

"'Three dozen come in a case, Colonel.'

"'Well, give me a case.'

"I had never sold a case of these fine goods in my life, so I said to
him: 'That's lots more, Colonel, than I usually sell of that kind, and
I don't want to overload you; hadn't we better make it a dozen?'

"'Dozen? Lor', no. You must think that there's nobody in this country,
that they haven't any money, and that I haven't any money. Did you see
that big bunch of cattle as you came in? They're all mine--mine, suh;
and I don't owe the bank a cent on them, suh. No, suh, not a cent,
suh. I want a case of these hats, suh--not a little bundle that you
can carry under yo' arm.'

"I was afraid that I had made the old gentleman mad, and, knowing him
by reputation to be worth several thousand dollars, I thought it best
to let him have his way. I went through the two stacks with him and
then brought in the rest of my samples. He bought a case of a kind
right through--fine hats, medium hats and cheap hats for greasers; he
bought blacks, browns and light colors. I was ashamed to figure up the
bill before his face. But just as soon as I got out of sight I added
up the items and it amounted to $2l00--the best bill I took on that

"I sent the order in, but I thought that I would not have to call
there again for a long time. The house shipped the bill, and the old
gentleman discounted it.

"Next trip I was intending to give that point the go-by. I really felt
that the old gentleman not only needed no more goods, but that he
would shoot me if I called on him. But when I reached the town next to
his, my customer there, who was a friend of the Colonel's, told me
that the old gentleman had sent him word that he wished to buy some
more goods and for me to be sure to come to see him.

"When I came driving up to the Colonel's store the back end of it
looked peculiar to me. He had got so many goods from me that he had
been obliged to take the wooden cases they were shipped in and make
out of these boxes an addition to his store. Lumber was scarce in that
country. The Colonel came out and shook hands with me before I was out
of my wagon. I was never greeted more warmly in my life.

"'Look heah,' he began, 'I owe you an apology, suh; and I want to make
it to you befo' you pass my threshol', suh. When you were heah befo' I
fear that I allowed my indignation to arise. I am sorry of it, suh,
sorry! Give me yo' hand and tell me that you will pahdon me. I can't
look you square in the face until you do.'

"'Why, Colonel, that's all right,' said I, 'I didn't want to abuse
your confidence, but I fear that I myself was impertinent in trying to
show you that I knew more about your business than you did. I want to
beg your pardon.'

"'No pahdon to grant, suh; and I want you to accept my apology. The
truth is the cowboys in this country have been deviling me to death,
nearly--ever since I started this sto'--to get them some good hats--
good ones, suh. They told me that they couldn't get a decent hat in
this whole country. I promised them that I would buy some of the best
I could find. When yo's came some of the boys saw the wagon bound for
my store, ten miles out of town. They fo'med a sort of a procession,
suh, and marched in with the team. Every one of these boys bought one
of those finest hats you sold me. They spread the news that I had a
big stock and a fine stock, all over this country; and, do you know,
people have come two hundred miles to buy hats of me? Some of my
friends laughed at me, they say, because I bought so many that I had
to use the cases they came in to make an addition to my sto'. But the
more they laughed, suh, the more necessary they made the addition. If
you can only get people to talking about you, you will thrive. Believe
me in this, suh: If they say something good about you, that is good;
if they say something bad about you, that is better--it spreads
faster. Those fool merchants did not know, suh, that they were helping
my business every time that they told about how many hats I had
bought, until one day a fellow, when they were laughing about me,
said: "Well, if that's the case I'll buy my hat from him; I like,
anyway, to patronize the man who carries a good stock." Now you just
come back and see how empty my addition is.'

"I went back into my addition and found that the Colonel's hats were
nearly all gone. He had actually sold--and out of his little shanty--
more of my goods than any other customer I had. When I started to have
my trunks unloaded the Colonel said to me: 'Now just hol' on there;
that's entirely unnecessary. The last ones sold so well, you just
duplicate my last bill, except that you leave out the poah hats. Come,
let's go up to my house and have a julep and rest a while.'"

Although a man's friends will not buy from him if he does not carry
the goods, he will yet get their patronage over the other fellow if he
has the right stock. Here's where a man's personality and adaptability
are his stock in trade when he is on the road; and the good salesman
gets the business over his competitor's head just by being able to
turn the mood of the merchant he meets. The more moods he can turn,
the larger his salary.

One of my musician road friends once told me how he sold a bill to a
well-known old crank, now dead, in the state of Montana.

"When I used to work at the bench, years ago," said he, as we sat in
the smoker, "evenings when I was free, for relaxation, I studied
music. Our shop boys organized a brass band. I played the trombone,
and learned to do so fairly well. I never thought then that my music
would fatten my pocket-book; but since I have been on the road it has
served me a good turn more than once--it has sold me many a bill.

"You've heard of the 'Wild Irishman of Chinook,' haven't you?"

"Old Larry, the crank?" said I.

"Yes, old Larry, the great."

[Illustration: "Larry let business drop entirely and danced a jig."]

"Well, sir, the first evening I ever went into Larry's store, I hadn't
been in a minute until he said to me: 'Oi'm all full up; Oi've got
plinty of it, I doon't give a dom pwhat ye're silling.'

"I paid no attention to him, as I had heard of him; instead of going
out I bought a cigar and sat down by the stove. Although a man may not
wish to buy anything from you, you know, he is always willing to sell
you something, even if it is only a cigar. I've caught many a
merchant's ear by buying something of him. My specialty is bone collar
buttons--they come cheap. I'll bet that I bought a peck of them the
first time I made a trip through this country.

"I had not been sitting by the stove long until I noticed, in a show
case, a trombone. I asked Larry to please let me see it. 'Oi'll lit ye
say the insthrumint,' said he, 'but pwhat's the good of it? Ye can't
play the thromboon, can ye? Oi'm the only mon in this berg that can
bloo that hairn. Oi'm a mimber of the bhrass band.'

"I took the horn and, as I ran the scale a few times, Larry's eyes
began to dance. He wouldn't wait on the customer who came in. The
instrument was a good one. I made 'Pratties and fishes are very foine
dishes for Saint Pathrick in the mairnin'' fairly ring. A big crowd
came in. Larry let business drop entirely and danced a jig. He kept me
playing for an hour, always something 'by special rayquist'--'Molly
Dairlint,' 'Moggie Moorphy's Hoom' and everything he could think of.
Finally he asked me for 'Hairts Booed Doon.'

"As I played 'The Heart Bowed Down,' tears came to the old Irishman's
eyes. When I saw these, I played yet better; this piece was one of my
own favorites. I felt a little peculiar myself. This air had made a
bond between us. When I finished, the old man said to me: 'Thank ye,
thank ye, sor, with all my hairt! That's enoof. Let me put the hairn
away. Go hoom now. But coom aroond in the mairnin' and Oi'll boy a
bill of ye; Oi doon't give a dom pwhat ye're silling. If Oi've got
your loine in my sthore Oi'll boy a bill; if I haven't, Oi'll boy a
bill innyway and stairt a new depairtmint. Good noight, give me yer
hand, sor.'

"Not only did Larry give me a good order, but he went to two more
merchants in the town and made them buy from me. He bought every
dollar's worth of his goods in my line from me as long as he lived."



Many a bill of goods is sold on the road through the influence of the
clerk. The traveling man who overlooks this point overlooks a strong
one. The clerk is the one who gets next to the goods. He checks them
off when they come in, keeps the dust off of them every day, sells
them to the people and often he does the selecting of the goods in the
first place. A merchant usually buys what pleases the clerks in order
to get them interested. In this way he puts a sort of responsibility
upon them. If the business man neglects his clerks, they neglect his
business; if the traveling man ignores the clerks, they ignore the
traveling man.

But in this matter the salesman must go just so far and no farther,
for the moment that the merchant begins to think the traveling man is
influencing the clerks unduly, down comes the hatchet! A hat man once,
as we rode together on the train, told me this incident:

"I once sold a small bill of hats to a large merchant down in
California," said he. "The next season when I came around I saw that
my goods were on the floor-shelf. I didn't like this. If you want to
get your goods sold, get them where they are easy to reach. Clerks,
and merchants too, usually follow the line of least resistance; they
sell that which they come to first. If a man asks me where he ought to
put his case for hats to make them move, I tell him, 'up front.'

"From the base shelf I dug up a box of my goods, knocked the dust off
the lid, took out a hat, began to crease it. One of the clerks came
up. He was very friendly. They usually are. They like to brush up
against the traveling man, for it is the ambition of nineteen clerks
out of every twenty to get on the road.

"My young friend, seeing the hat in my hand, said, 'Gee, that's a
beaut. I didn't know we had a swell thing like that in the house. I
wish I'd got one like that instead of this old bonnet.'

"With this he showed me a new stiff hat. I scarcely glanced at it
before I cracked the crown out of it over my heel, handed him the hat
I had taken out of the box, threw three dollars on the counter and
said, 'Well, we'll swap. Take this one.'

"'Guess I will, all right, all right!' he exclaimed.

"Another one of the boys who saw this incident came up with his old
hat and asked, laughing, 'Maybe you want to swap with me?'

"Crack went another hat; down I threw another three dollars. Before I
got through, eight clerks had new hats, and I had thrown away twenty-
four dollars.

"Thrown away? No, sir. I'll give that much, every day of the week, to
get the attention of a large dealer. Twenty-four dollars are made in a
minute and a half by a traveling man when he gets to doing business
with a first-class merchant.

"The proprietor, Hobson, was not then in. When I dropped in that
afternoon, I asked him if he would see my samples.

"'No, sir, I will not,' he spoke up quickly. 'To be plain with you, I
do not like the way in which you are trying to influence my clerks.'

"There was the critical--the 'psychological'--moment. Weakness would
have put an end to me. But this was the moment I wanted. In fact, I
have at times deliberately made men mad just to get their attention.

"'Hobson,' I flashed back, 'You can do just as you please about
looking at my goods. But I'll tell you one thing: I have no apology to
offer in regard to your clerks. You bought my goods and buried them. I
know they are good, and I want you to find it out. I have put them on
the heads of your men because I am not ashamed to have them wear them
before your face. You can now see how stylish they are. In six months
you will learn how well they wear. I would feel like a sneak had I
stealthily slipped a twenty dollar gold piece into the hand of your
hat man and told him to push my goods. But I haven't done this. In
fact I gave a hat to nearly every clerk you have except your hat man.
He was away. Even your delivery boy has one. You owe me an apology,
sir; and I demand it, and demand it right now! I've always treated you
as a gentleman, sir; and you shall treat me as such.' Then, softening
down, I continued: 'I can readily see how, at first glance, you were
offended at me; but just think a minute, and I believe you'll tell me
you were hasty.'

"'Yes, I was,' he answered quietly. 'Got your stuff open? I'll go
right down with you.' After Hobson had, in a few minutes, given me a
nice order, he said to me: 'Well, do you know, I like your pluck.'

"It sometimes happens that a traveling man meets with a surly clerk, a
conceited clerk, or a bribed clerk who has become buyer," continued my
friend. "Then the thing to do is to go straight to the head of the
establishment. The man I like to do business with is the man whose
money pays for my goods. He is not pulled out of line by guy ropes. It
is well to stand in with the clerks, but it is better to be on the
right side of the boss. When it gets down to driving nails, he is the
one to hammer on the hardest.

"I once took on the territory of a man who had quit the road. About
this same time one of his best customers had, to some extent, retired
from business activity and put on a new buyer in my department. Now,
this is a risky thing, you know, for a merchant to do unless the buyer
gets an interest in the business and becomes, in truth, a merchant
himself. It usually means the promotion of a clerk who gets a swelled
head. The new buyer generally feels that he must do something to show
his ability and one of the ways he does this is by switching lines.

"During the illness of my predecessor, who soon after quit the road,
another man made for him a part of his old trip. In one of the towns
he made he struck the new buyer and, of course, got turned down. Had I
been there, I would have received the same sort of treatment.

"My immediate predecessor, who was turned down, posted me; so when I
went to the town, I knew just what to do--go direct to the proprietor.
I knew that my goods were right; all I needed was unprejudiced
attention. Prejudice anyway buys most of the goods sold; merit is a
minor partner. Were merchandise sold strictly on merit, two-thirds of
the wholesale houses and factories would soon lock up; and the other
third would triple their business.

"When I entered the store, I went straight to the proprietor and told
him without introducing myself (a merchant does not care what your
name is) what my line of business was. It was Saturday afternoon. I
would rather go out making business on Saturday than any other day
because the merchant is doing business and is in a good humor, and you
can get right at the point. Of course, you must catch him when he is
not, for the moment, busy.

"'Can't do anything for you, sir, I fear,' said he. 'Hereafter we are
going to buy that line direct from the factories.'

"I saw that the proprietor himself was prejudiced, and that the one
thing to do was to come straight back at him. 'Where do you suppose my
hats come from?' said I. 'My factory is the leading one in New
Jersey.' I was from Chicago although my goods, in truth, were made in
Orange Valley.

"'Will you be here Monday?' he asked. This meant that he wanted to
look at my samples. The iron was hot; then was the time to strike.

"'Sorry, but I cannot,' I answered. 'But I'll tell you what I'll do.
My line is a specialty line--only fine goods--and I'll bring in a
small bunch of samples tonight about the time you close up.' Merchants
like to deal with a man who is strictly business when they both get to
doing business. Then is the time to put friendship and joking on the

"That night at ten o'clock I was back at the store with a bundle under
my arm. The man who is too proud to carry a bundle once in a while
would better never start on the road. The proprietor whispered to the
hat buyer--I overheard the words--'Large Eastern factory'--and
together they began to look at my samples. The new buyer went to the
shelves and got out some of the goods which had come from my house to
compare with my samples,--which were just the same quality. But, after
fingering both, he said right out to the proprietor: 'There's no
comparison. I've told you all along that the factory was the place to

"I booked my order--it was a fat one, too--solid case lots.

"'Shall I ship these from Orange Valley or Chicago?' I asked.

"'Why do you ask that?' asked the proprietor.

"'Because you have bought a bill from a firm you have dealt with for
twenty years, Blank and Company of Chicago, that I represent, and I do
not want one who has favored me to pay any extra freight. You will
pardon me, I'm sure, for not telling you the whole truth until now;
but this was the only way in which I could overcome your prejudice.'"

"That's one on me," said the merchant. "Come--boys, you are in on this
too--I'll buy the smokes."

Many traveling men make mistakes by steering shy of cranks. The so-
called crank is the easiest man to approach, if only you go at him

Once I sat at dinner with two other traveling men who were strangers
to me--as strange as one traveling man ever is to another. This is
not, however, very "strange," for the cosmopolitan life of the road
breeds a good fellowship and a sort of secret society fraternity among
all knights of the grip. My territory being new, I made inquiry
regarding the merchants of a certain town to which I intended to go.

"Don't go there," spoke up one of my table companions. "There's no one
there who's any good except old man Duke and he's the biggest crank on
earth. He discounts his bills,--but Lord, it's a job to get near him."

Some men on the road are vulgar; but will not this comment apply to
some few of any class of men?

"My friend," said companion number two, looking straight at the man
who had just made the above remarks, "I've been on the road these many
years and, if my observation counts for anything, those we meet are,
to a great extent, but reflections of ourselves. True, many call Mr.
Duke peculiar, but I have always got along with him without any
trouble. I consider him a gentleman."

I went to the "old crank's" town. As I rode on the train, louder than
the clacking of the car wheels, I heard myself saying over and over
again: "_Those we meet are, to a great extent, but reflections of

When I went into the old gentleman's store, he was up front in his
office at work on his books. I merely said, "Good morning, sir," and
went back and sat down by the stove. It's never a good thing to
interrupt a merchant when he's busy. He, and he alone, knows what is
most important for him to do. Maybe he has an urgent bill or sight
draft to meet; maybe he has a rush order to get off in the next mail;
maybe he is figuring up his profit or his loss on some transaction.
Then is not the time to state your business if you wish to make your
point. The traveling man must not forget that the merchant's store is
a place of business; that he is on the lookout for good things and
just as anxious to buy good goods advantageously as the salesman is to
sell them; and that he will generally lend an ear, for a moment at
least,--if properly approached--to any business proposition.

After a while, the old gentleman came back to the stove and, as he
approached, politely said to me, "Is there something I can do for you,

I caught his southern accent and in a moment was on my guard. I arose
and, taking off my hat--for he was an old gentleman--replied: "That
remains with you, sir," and I briefly stated my business, saying
finally, "As this is my first time in your town and as my house is
perhaps new to you, possibly, if you can find the time to do so, you
may wish to see what I have." Recalling that one of my table
companions had said he considered him a gentleman I was especially
careful to be polite to the merchant. And politeness is a jewel that
every traveling man should wear in his cravat.

"I shall see you at one thirty, suh. Will you excuse me now?" With
this the old gentleman returned to his office. I immediately left the
store. The important thing to get a merchant to do is to consent to
look at your goods. When you can get him to do this, keep out of his
way until he is ready to fulfil his engagement. Then, when you have
done your business, pack your goods and leave town. What the merchant
wants chiefly with the traveling man is to _do business_ with him.
True, much visiting and many odd turns are sometimes necessary to
get the merchant to the point of "looking," but when you get him
there, leave him until he is ready to "look." Friendships, for sure,
will develop, but don't force them.

At one twenty-nine that afternoon I started for the "old crank's"
store. It was just across the street from my sample room. I met him in
the middle of the street. He was a crank about keeping his engagements
promptly. I respect a man who does this. The old gentleman looked
carefully, but not tediously, at my goods, never questioning a price.
In a little while, he said: "I shall do some business with you, suh;
your goods suit me."

I never sold an easier bill in my life and never met a more pleasant
gentleman. Our business finished, he offered me a cigar and asked that
he might sit and smoke while I packed my samples. Yes, offered me a
cigar. And I took it. It was lots better than offering him one. He
enjoyed giving me one more than he would have enjoyed smoking one of
mine. In fact, it flatters any man more to accept a favor from him
than to do one for him. Many traveling men spend two dollars a day on
cigars which they give away. They are not only throwing away money but
also customers sometimes. The way for the salesman on the road to
handle the man he wants to sell goods to in order to get his regard is
to treat him as he does the man of whom he expects no favors. When you
give a thing to a man he generally asks in his own mind, "What for?"

Before I left the town of the "old crank" I met with another of his
peculiarities. I was out of money. I asked him if he would cash a
sight draft for me on my firm for a hundred dollars.

"No, suh," said he. "I will not. I was once swindled that way and I
now make it a rule never to do that."

Needles stuck in me all over.

"But," continued the old gentleman, "I shall gladly lend you a hundred
dollars or any amount you wish."

For the many years I went to the town of the "old crank," our
relationship was most cordial. I believe we became friends. More than
once did he drop business and go out fishing with me. Since the first
day we met I have often recalled the words of my table companion:
"Those we meet are, to a great extent, but reflections of ourselves."

Recalling the predicament I was in for a moment in the town of the
"old crank," reminds me of an experience I once had. As a rule, I
haven't much use for the man on the road who borrows money. If he
hasn't a good enough stand-in with his firm to draw on the house or
else to have the firm keep him a hundred or two ahead in checks, put
him down as no good. The man who is habitually broke on the road is
generally the man who thinks he has the "gentle finger," and that he
can play in better luck than the fellow who rolls the little ivory
ball around a roulette wheel. There are not many of this kind, though;
they don't last long. It's mostly the new man or the son of the boss
who thinks he can pay room rent for tin horns.

Even the best of us, though, get shy at least once in a life time, and
have to call on some one for chips. I've done this a few times myself.
I never refused one of the boys on the road a favor in all my life.
Many a time I've dug up a bill and helped out some chap who was broke
and I knew, at the time, that as far as getting back the money went, I
might just as well chuck it in the sewer. Few of the boys will borrow,
but all of them are ever ready to lend.

The one time I borrowed was in Spokane. When I went down to the depot
I learned that I could buy a baggage prepaid permit and save about
fifty dollars. I did not know until I reached the station that I could
do this in Spokane. Down east they haven't got on well to this system.
You can prepay your excess baggage all the way from a coast point
clear back to Chicago and have the right to drop your trunks off
anywhere you will along the route. This makes a great saving. Well,
when I went to check in I saw that I was short about four dollars. I
did not have time to run back to my customer's up town or to the hotel
and cash a draft. I looked to see if there was somebody around that I
knew. Not a familiar face. I had to do one of three things: Lose a
day, give up by slow degrees over fifty dollars to the Railroad
Company, or strike somebody for four.

Right here next to me at the baggage counter stood a tall, good
natured fellow--I shall always remember his sandy whiskers and pair of
generous blue eyes. He was checking his baggage to Walla Walla.

"Going right through to Walla Walla?" said I.

"Yes," he said, "can I do anything for you?"

"Well, since you have mentioned it, you can," I answered.

I introduced myself, told my new friend--Mason was his name, Billie
Mason--how I was fixed and that I would give him a note to my
customer, McPherson, at Walla Walla, requesting him to pay back the

I gave Mason the order, written with a lead pencil on the back of an
envelope, and he gave me the four dollars.

I got down to Walla Walla in a few days. When I went in to see
McPherson the first thing I said to him, handing him four dollars,
was: "Mac, I want to pay you back that four."

"What four?" said McPherson.

"What four?" said I. "Your memory must be short. Why, that four I gave
a traveling man, named Mason, an order on you for!"

McPherson looked blank; but we happened to be standing near the
cashier's desk, and the matter was soon cleared up.

The cashier, who was a new man in the store, spoke up and said: "Yes,
last week a fellow was in here with an order on you for four dollars,
but it was written with a lead pencil on the back of an envelope. I
thought it was no good. I didn't want to be out the four, so I refused
to pay it."

"The deuce you did," said my friend Mac, "Why, I've known this man
(referring to me) and bought goods of him for ten years."

The thing happened this way: On the very day that Mason presented my
order both McPherson himself and the clerk in my department were out
of town. When the new cashier told Mason that he did not know me,
Mason simply thought he was "done" for four, and walked out thanking
himself that the amount was not more.

But it so happened that Mason himself that night told this joke on
himself to a friend of mine.

My friend laughed "fit to kill" and finally said to Mason: "Why that
fellow's good for four hundred;" and he gave Mason what I had failed
to give him--my address.

I had also failed to take Mason's address. After he made me the loan
in Spokane we sat on the train together chatting. I became well
acquainted with him, and with a friend of his named Dickey, who was
along with us. Yet I did not ask Mason his business, even; for, as you
know, it's only the fresh, new man who wants to know what every man he
meets is selling.

After McPherson's new cashier had told me that he had not paid my
order, I inquired of every man I met about Mason, but could get no
clew on him. He was in a specialty jewelry business and made only a
few large towns in my territory. Every time I boarded a train I would
look all through it for those sandy whiskers. It was lucky that he
wore that color; it made the search easy. I even looked for him after
midnight--not only going through the day coaches, but asking the
Pullman porters if such a man was aboard. I woke up more than one red-
whiskered man out of his slumbers and asked him: "Is your name Mason?"
One of them wanted to lick me for bothering him, but he laughed so
loudly when, in apologizing, I told him the reason for my search that
he woke up the whole car. I never found him this way, and not having
his address, I could only wait.

I had just about given up all hopes of getting a line on my confiding
friend when, several weeks after a letter bearing the pen marks of
many forwardings, caught me. I've got that letter; it reads this way:

 "Walla Walla, Dec. 6th.

"My Dear Sir:

"I called on Mr. McPherson today and unfortunately found him out of
the city. None of his clerks seemed to know you when I presented your
request for an advance. They all began to look askance at me as if I
were a suspicious character. I ought to have put on my white necktie
and clerical look before going in, but unluckily I wore only my
common, everyday, drummer appearance.

"I got your address from a fellow wayfarer here just minute ago. My
train goes soon. I am writing you care of your house as I'm a little
leery of sending it care of your friend McPherson.

"Your order for the four now reposes in the inside pocket of my vest
amongst my firm's cash and will stand as an I. O. U. against me until
I hear from you. Even as I write, my friend Dickey, who sits at my
left, keeps singing into my ear:

"'If I should die tonight and you should come to my cold corpse and

"'"Here, Bill, I've brought you back that four,"

"'"I'd rise up in my white cravat and say: "What's that?" And then
fall dead once more.'

"Beseechingly yours,

"W. L. Mason, "Denver, Box --."

Although I sent Mason a check, it seemed that I was ever doomed to be
in error with him. I wrote him insisting that he wear a new hat on me
and asked him to send me his size.

He wrote back that he was satisfied to get the four dollars; but,
since I pressed the matter, his size was seven and one-fourth.

I wrote my hatter to express a clear beaver to Mason. But somehow he
got the size wrong, for Mason wrote back:

"Dear Brother: Everything that I have to do with you seems at first
all wrong, but finally wiggles out all right. For example, while I
stated that my size was seven and one-fourth your hatter sent a seven
and one-half--two sizes too big under ordinary circumstances. But I
was so tickled to get the unexpected four and a new lid besides that
my head swelled and my bonnet fit me to a T."



Salesmanship has already been defined as the art of overcoming
obstacles, of turning defeat into victory by the use of tact and
patience. Courtesy must become constitutional with the drummer and
diplomacy must become second nature to him. All this may have a very
commercial and politic ring, but its logic is beyond question. It
would be a decided mistake, however, to conclude that the business
life of the skilful salesman is ruled only by selfish, sordid or
politic motives.

In the early nineties, I was going through Western Kansas; it was the
year of the drought and the panic. Just as the conductor called "All
aboard" at a little station where we had stopped for water, up drove
one of the boys. His pair of bronchos fairly dripped with sweat; their
sides heaved like bellows--they had just come in from a long, hard
drive. As the train started the commercial tourist slung his grips
before him and jumped on. He shook a cloud of dust out of his linen
coat, brushed dust off his shoes, fingered dust out of his hair, and
washed dust off his face. He was the most dust-begrimed mortal I ever
saw. His ablutions made, he sat down in a double seat with me and
offered me a cigar.

"Close call," said I.

"Yes, you bet--sixteen miles in an hour and thirty-five minutes. That
was the last time I'll ever make that drive."

"Customer quit you?"

"He hasn't exactly quit me, he has quit his town. All there ever has
been in his town was a post office and a store, all in one building;
and he lived in the back end of that. It has never paid me to go to
see him, but he was one of those loyal customers who gave me all he
could and gave it without kicking. He gave me the glad hand--and that,
you know, goes a long ways--and for six years I've been going to see
him twice a year, more to accommodate him than for profit. The boys
all do lots of this work--more than merchants give them credit for.
His wife was a fine little woman. Whenever my advance card came--she
attended to the post office--she would always put a couple of chickens
in a separate coop and fatten them on breakfast food until I arrived.
Her dinner was worth driving sixteen miles for if I didn't sell a sou.

"But it is all off now. The man was always having a streak of hard
luck--grasshoppers, hail, hot winds, election year or something, and
he has finally pulled stakes. When I reached there this time it was
the lonesomest place I ever saw, no more store and post office, no
more nice little wife and fried chicken--not even a dog or hitching
post. My friend had gone away and left no reminder of himself save a
notice he had lettered with a marking brush on his front door. Just as
a sort of a keepsake in memory of my old friend I took a copy. Here it

     "'A thousand feet to water!
      A thousand miles to wood!
      I've quit this blasted country
      Quit her! Yes, for good.
      The 'hoppers came abuzzin'
      But I shooed them all away,
      Next blew the hot winds furious;
      Still, I had the grit to stay.
      There's always something hap'ning;
      So, while I've got the pluck--
      Think I'll strike another country
      And see how runs my luck.
      God bless you, boys, I love you.
      The drummer is my friend.
      When I open up my doors again,
      Bet your life, for you I'll send.'

"Wouldn't that cork you? Say, let's get up a game of whist." With this
my friend took a fresh cigar from me, and, whistling, sauntered down
the aisle hunting partners for the game. The long drive, the dust and
the loss of a bill no longer disturbed him.

The man who grieves would better stay off the road. The traveling man
must digest disappointments as he does a plate of blue points, for he
swallows them about as often. One of the severest disappointments for
a road man is to have the pins for a bill all set and then have some
other man get the ball first and knock them down.

A clothing salesman told me this story:

"I have been chasing trunks for a long time but last season I got into
the worst scrape of all my life on the road. I was a little pushed for
time, so I wrote one of my irregular country customers that I would
not be able to go to his town, but that I would pay his expenses if he
would come in and meet me at Spokane.

"When he showed up he brought along his wife; and his wife rolled a
young baby into my sample room. It was a pretty little kid, and struck
me as being the best natured little chap I had ever seen. Of course,
you know that to jolly up my customer a little I had to get on the
good side of the wife, and the best way to do this was to play with
the baby. After I had danced the little fellow around for a while I
put him back into the buggy and supposed that I was going to get down
to business. But the father said he thought he would be in town for a
week or so and that he thought he would go out and find a boarding

"As we were talking, a friend of mine dropped in. He directed my
customer to a boarding house, and then, just for fun, said: 'Why don't
you leave the baby here with us while you're making arrangements. Mr.
Percy has lots of children at home, and he knows how to take care of
them all right.' Imagine how I felt when my country friends fell in
with the shoe man's suggestion!

"Both of us got along first rate with the baby for a while. I really
enjoyed it until my friend left me to go down the street, and a
customer I was expecting came in. I thought the baby would get along
all right by himself, and so I started to show customer No. 2 my line
of goods. But the little chap had been spoiled by too much of my
coddling and wouldn't stand for being left alone. At first he gave a
little whimper. I rolled him for a minute or two with one hand and ran
the other over a line of cheviots and told my customer how good they
were; but the very minute I let go of the buggy, out broke the kid
again. I repeated this performance two or three times, but whenever I
let go the buggy handle the baby yelled. In a few minutes he was going
it good and strong, and I had to take him out and bounce him up and
down. Now, you can imagine just how hard it is to pacify a baby and
sell a bill of clothing. Try it if you don't. I soon began to walk the
floor to keep the kid from howling, and presently I decided I would
rather keep that child quiet than sell a bill of goods. Finally,
customer number two went out, saying he would see me the next morning;
and there I was left all alone with the baby again.

[Illustration: "Whenever I let go the buggy handle the baby yelled"]

"I tried to ring a bell and get a chambermaid to take care of him, but
the bell was broken. Then I began to sing all the songs I knew and
kept it up until I nearly wore out my throat. It seemed as if the
baby's mother never would come back, but I had the happy satisfaction
of knowing, though, that the baby's mother and father would certainly
have to come back and get the little fellow, and I felt sure of
getting a good bill of goods.

"Well, what do you think happened? After two hours the mother came
back and got the baby and I never saw her husband again! A competitor
of mine had 'swiped' him as he came in the hotel office and sold him
his bill of goods."

Although my friend Percy who rolled the baby carriage back and forth
lost out by this operation, I would advise my friends on the road to
roll every baby buggy--belonging to a possible customer--that they
have a chance to get their hands on. When the merchant gives the
traveling man an opportunity to do him some sort of a favor outside of
straight business dealing, he then gives the drummer the best possible
chance to place him under obligations which will surely be repaid
sometime. But don't go too far.

Down in Texas in one of the larger towns, just after the Kishinef
horror, the Hebrew clothing merchants held a charity ball. If you were
to eliminate the Hebrew from the clothing business the ranks of
dealers in men's wearing apparel would be devastated. One of my
friends in the clothing business told me how he and a furnishing goods
friend of his made hay at that charity ball:

"The day that I struck town, one of my customers said to me, 'We want
you to go to the show tomorrow night and open the ball with a few
remarks. Will you?'

"Just for fun I said, 'To be sure I will, Ike.' I did not think I
would be taken in earnest, but the next day I received a program, and
right at the head of it was my name down for the opening speech. Well,
I was up against it and I had to make good. You may take my word for
it that I felt a little nervous that night when I came to the big hall
and saw it full of people waiting for the opening address. I needed to
have both sand on the bottoms of my shoes and sand in my upper story
to keep from slipping down on the waxed floor! But, as I was in for
it, I marched bravely up and sat down for a few minutes in the big

"Then the first thing I knew I was introduced. Now I was really in
sympathy with the purpose of this gathering and I felt, sincerely, the
atrocity of the Kishinef massacre. Consequently, I was able to speak
from the heart in telling my audience how every human being, without
regard to race, was touched by such an outrage. Had I been running for
Congress there, I would have received every vote in the house. The
women sent special requests by their husbands, asking the honor of a
dance with me.

"Remember that the traveling man must not overlook the wife of his
customer. Generally a man's nearest and truest friend is his wife. The
business man feels that she is his best counselor. If you can get the
good will of the 'women folks' of your customer's household you may be
sure you will be solid with him for keeps.

"But I must not overlook my furnishing goods friend. He had been
trained for an opera singer and would have made a success of it had he
kept up with that profession. His business, however, prospered so well
that he could never go and look the prompter in the face. He had a
rich, full, deep voice which, when he sang the Holy City, made the
chandeliers fairly hum. There is something in the melodious human
voice, anyway, that goes away down deep into the heart. My friend won
everybody there with a song. He with his music and I with my speech
had done a courtesy to those merchants which they and their wives
appreciated. You know you can feel it, somehow, when you are in true
accord with those you meet.

"We really did not think anything about the business side that night.
I forgot it altogether until, upon leaving the hall, my friend Ike
said to me: 'Tonight we dance, tomorrow we sell clot'ing again.' Both
of us did a good business in that town on the strength of the charity
ball, and we have held our friends there as solid customers. I say
'solid customers' but actually there is no such thing as a 'solid
customer.' The very best friend you have will slip away from you
sometime, break out your corral, and you must mount your broncho,
chase him down and rope him in again."

A mighty true saying, that! It is a great disappointment to call upon
a customer with whom you have been doing business for a long time and
find that he has already bought. Ofttimes this happens, however,
because when you become intimate with a merchant you fail to continue
to impress upon him the merits of your merchandise. However tight a
rope the salesman feels that he has upon a merchant, he should never
cease to let him know and make him feel that the goods he is selling
are strictly right; for if he lets the line slacken a little the
merchant may take a run and snap it in two.

One of my hat friends once told me how he went in to see an old
customer named Williams, down in Texas, and found that he had bought a

"When I reached home," said he, "I handed my checks to a porter,
slipped half a dollar into his hand and told him to rush my trunks
right up to the sample room."

This is a thing that a salesman should do on general principles. When
he has spent several dollars and many hours to get to a town he should
bear in mind that he is there for business, and that he cannot do
business well unless he has his goods in a sample room. The man who
goes out to work trade with his trunks at the depot does so with only
half a heart. If a man persuades himself that there is no business in
a town for him he would better pass it up. When he gets to a town the
first thing he should do is to get out samples.

"When I had opened up my line," continued my friend, "I went over to
Williams' store. I called at the window as usual and said, 'Well,
Williams, I am open and ready for you at any time. When shall we go

"'To tell the truth, Dickie,' said he, 'I've bought your line for this
season. I might just as well come square out with it.'

"'That is all right, Joe,' said I. 'If that is the case, it will save
us the trouble of doing the work over again.' In truth, my heart had
sunk clear down to my heels, but I never let on. I simply smiled over
the situation. The worst thing I could have done would be to get mad
and pout about it. Had I done so I should have lost out for good. The
salesman who drops a crippled wing weakens himself, so I put on a
smiling front. This made Williams become apologetic, for when he saw
that I took the situation good-naturedly he felt sorry that he could
not give me business and began to make explanations.

"'I tell you,' said he, 'this other man came around and told me that
he could sell me a hat for twenty-one dollars a dozen as good as you
are selling for twenty-four, and I thought it was to my business
interest to buy them. I thought I might as well have that extra
twenty-five cents on every hat as your firm.'

"There! He had given me my chance! 'Williams,' said I, 'you bought
these other goods on your judgment. Do you not owe it to yourself to
know how good your judgment on hats is? You and I have been such good
friends--Heaven knows I have not a better one in this country, Joe--
that I never talk business to you and George, your buyer. Now, I'll
tell you what is a fair proposition. You and George come over to my
sample room this afternoon at 1:30--I leave at four--and I will find
out how good your judgment and George's is when it comes to buying
hats.' Williams said: 'All right, 1:30 goes.'

[Illustration: "To-night we dance. To-morrow we sell clothes again."]

"I immediately left, having a definite appointment. I went to my
sample room and laid out in a line twelve different samples of hats,
the prices of which ranged, in jumps of three dollars per dozen, from
nine dollars to twenty-seven dollars. In the afternoon I went back to
the store and got Williams and George. As we entered the sample room,
I said: 'Now, Williams, we are over here--you, George and myself--to
see what you know about hats. If there is any line of goods in which
you should know values, certainly it is the line you have been
handling for six years. You have fingered them over every day and
ought to know the prices of them. Here is a line of goods right out of
the house from which you have been buying so long. The prices range
from nine dollars to twenty-seven dollars a dozen. Will it not be a
fair test of your judgment and George's for you to examine these goods
very carefully--everything but the brands--for these would indicate
the price--and lay out this line so that the cheaper hats will be at
one end of the bunch and the best ones at the other? Very well! Now
just straighten out this line according to price.'

"'Well, that looks fair to me,' said Williams.

"He and George went to work to straighten out the goods according to
price. They put a nine dollar hat where a twelve dollar hat should
have been, and vice versa. They put a twenty-four dollar hat where a
twenty-four dollar hat belonged, and an eighteen dollar hat right
beside it, indicating that the two were of the same quality. The next
hat I handed them was one worth sixteen dollars and a half a dozen. It
contained considerable chalk that made it feel smooth. After examining
the 'sweat,' name and everything they both agreed that this was a
twenty-seven dollars a dozen hat. When they did this, I said:

"'Gentlemen, I will torture you no longer. Let me preface a few
remarks by saying that neither one of you knows a single, solitary,
blooming thing about hats. Here is a hat that you say is worth twenty-
four dollars a dozen. Look at the brand. You have it on your own
shelves. You have been buying them of this quality for six years at
eighteen dollars a dozen. And, what is worse still, here is a hat the
price of which you see in plain figures is sixteen dollars and a half,
and you say it is worth twenty-seven dollars a dozen.'

"The faces of Williams and George looked as blank as a freshly
whitewashed fence. I saw that I had them. Then was the time for me to
be bold. A good account was at stake, and at stake right then.
Besides, my reputation was at stake. When a salesman loses a good
account the news of it spreads all over his territory, and on account
of losing one customer directly he will lose many more indirectly; for
merchants will hear of it and on the strength of the information, lose
confidence in the line itself. On the other hand, if you can knock
your competitor out of a good account it is often equal to securing
half a dozen more. I did not wish to lose out even for one season, so
I said: 'Now look here, Williams, you have bought this other line of
goods, and perhaps you feel that you have enough for this season and
that you will make the best of a bad bargain. You are satisfied in
your own mind, and you have told me as plainly as you ever told me
anything in your life, that my goods are better than those that you
have bought. I am going to tell you one thing now that I would not say
in the beginning: that you have bought from a line of samples the
goods of which will not equal the samples you have looked at. It is
not the samples that you buy but it is the goods that are _delivered_
to you. Those which will be delivered will not be as good as those
which you looked at. You know full well that my goods have always come
up to samples. You know that they are reliable. Why do you wish to
change? If you wish to change for the sake of making an additional
twenty-five cents on each hat instead of giving it to my firm, why did
you not take the hat which I have been selling you all the time for
$18 a dozen and sell it for three dollars, the price you have always
been getting for my twenty-four dollars a dozen hats? In that way you
would make an additional twenty-five cents. Be logical! If that's not
profit enough, why not sell a $15 or a $12 a dozen hat for $3? Be
logical! If that's not enough, why not hire a big burly duffer to
stand at your front door, knock down every man who comes in so that
you can take all the money he has without giving him anything. You
could bury him in the cellar. Be logical.'

"''Fraid they'd put me in the "pen",' said Williams.

"'If I were a judge and you were brought before me charged with
selling the twenty-one dollars a dozen hat that you have bought to
take the place of mine (for which I charge you twenty-four dollars a
dozen) I would give you a life sentence. Let me tell you, Williams, a
man who is in business, if he expects to remain in the same place a
long time, must give good values to his customers. In the course of
time they will find out whether the stuff he gives them is good or
poor. Go into a large establishment with a good reputation and you
will find out that they give to the people who come to buy merchandise
from them good values. Now, the goods I have sold you have always
given your trade satisfaction. Your business in my department is
increasing, so you say, and the reason is because you are giving to
your customers good values. Why not continue to pursue this same
policy? I am in town to do business and to do business today. I cannot
and I will not take a turn down. If you want to continue to buy my
goods you must buy them and buy them right now, even if you do have to
take them right on top of the other stuff that you have bought. I
shall make no compromise. My price is $1,000--more than you ever
bought from me before.'

"'George,' said Williams, turning to his buyer, 'I guess Dickie has
us. Give him an order for $1,000 and don't let's go chasing the end of
a rainbow in such a hurry any more.'"



The man who believes that on every traveling man's head should rest a
dunce cap will some fine day get badly fooled if he continues to rub
up against the drummer. The road is the biggest college in the world.
Its classrooms are not confined within a few gray stone buildings with
red slate roofs; they are the nooks and corners of the earth. Its
teachers are not a few half starved silk worms feeding upon green
leaves doled out by philanthropic millionaires, but live, active men
who plant their own mulberry trees. When a man gets a sheepskin from
this school, he doesn't need to go scuffling around for work; he
already has a job. Its museum contains, not a few small specimens of
ore, but is the mine itself.

Let your son take an ante-graduate course of a few years on the road
and he will know to what use to put his book learning when he gets
that. I do not decry book lore; the midnight incandescent burned over
the classic page is a good thing. I am merely saying that lots of good
copper wire goes to waste, because too many college "grads" start
their education wrong end first. They do not know for what they are
working. If I were running a school my way and the object was to teach
a boy _method_, I'd hand him a sample grip before I'd give him a
volume of Euclid. Last night a few ideas struck me when I thought my
day's work was done. I jumped out of bed seven times in twenty minutes
and struck seven matches so I could see to jot down the points. The
man on the road learns to _"do it now."_ Too many traveling men
waste their months of leisure. Like Thomas Moore, in their older days
they will wail:

     "Thus many, like me, who in youth should have tasted
      The fountain that flows by philosophy's shrine,
      Their time with the flowers on its margin have wasted
      And left their light urns all as empty as mine."

Yet many improve their hours of leisure from business; if they do not,
it is their own fault. I met an old acquaintance on the street
yesterday. "My season is too short," said he. "I wish I could find
something to do between trips." I asked him why he did not write for
newspapers or do a dozen other things that I mentioned. "I'm
incapable," he replied. "Well, that isn't my fault," said I. "No," he
answered, _"it's mine!"_

I know one man on the road who found time to learn the German
language. And, by the way, he told me how it once served him a good

"Once," said he, "when I was up in Minnesota, a few years ago, I got a
big merchant to come over and look at my goods. That, you know, was
half of the battle."

And so it is! When a merchant goes into a drummer's sample room, he is
on the field of Liao Yang and, if he doesn't look out, the drummer
will prove himself the Jap!

"It was my first trip to the town," continued my friend. "The first
thing my prospective customer picked up after he came into my room was
a sample of a 'Yucatan' hat. You know how it goes--when a merchant
comes into your sample room for the first time he picks up the things
he knows the price of. If the prices on these are high, he soon leaves
you; if they seem right to him he has confidence in the rest of your
line and usually buys if the styles suit him. The way to sell goods is
either to have lower prices or else make your line show up better than
your competitor's. Even though your prices be the same as his, you can
often win out by _displaying_ your goods better than your competitor
does. Many a time he is too lazy to spread his goods and show what he
really has; and his customer thinks the line 'on the bum' when, in
truth, it is not.

"The merchant, Alex Strauss was his name, couldn't have picked up a
luckier thing for me than this Yucatan hat. The year previous, my
house had imported them finished, but that year we had had them
trimmed in our own shop. The duty was much less on the unfinished body
than on the trimmed hat; therefore, the price had dropped

"'How much do you vant for dis?' said Strauss, picking up the Yucatan.

"Nine dollars a dozen," said I, without explaining why the price was
so low. It would have been as foolish for me to do this, you know, as
to play poker with my cards on the table face up.

"Strauss turned to his clerk Morris, who was with him. They both
examined the hat, and Alex said in German to Morris: _'Den selben
Hut haben wir gehabt. Letzes Jahr haben wir sechzehn und ein halb den
Dutzen bezahlt. Das ist sehr billig!'_ (The same hat we had. Last
year we paid sixteen and a half a dozen. This is very cheap.)

"Then Alex turned to me--he was a noted bluffer--and said in English:
'Hefens alife! Nine tollars! Vy, I pought 'em last year for sefen and
a half!'

"I never saw such a bold stand in my life. The expression on his face
would have won a jackpot on a bob-tailed flush. But I was in position
to call his bluff. _His_ cards were on the table face up.

"I merely repeated his own words in his own tongue: _'Den selben Hut
haben wir gehabt. Letzes Jahr haben wir sechzehn und ein halb den
Dutzen bezahlt. Das ist sehr billig.'_

"'Hier, dake a seecar on me,' said Alex, offering me a smoke. He
bought a good bill from me and has been a good customer ever since.

"Just to let you know what a hard proposition Strauss was, I'll tell
you another incident in connection with him:

"'After I had known Alex for two years I went into his store one
morning, when I was on my fall trip. He came from behind the counter
to meet me, wearing upon his face a smile of triumph. He had never
approached me before; I always had to hunt him down.

"I said, 'Hello, Alex, how goes it?'

"'Dis is how choes id,' said he, handing me a card. 'Dot's de way id
choes mit ev'rypody dis season.'

"On the card which he handed me--and to every traveling man who, came
in--were these words: 'Don't waste your time on me; I will not buy any
goods until I go to market. Alex.'

"Reading the card quickly, I said to him: 'Thank you, Alex, may I have
another one of these cards?'

"He handed me another one, saying, 'Vot you vant mit anudder vun?'

"'I want one to hold as a keepsake of the man, of all men, who is
gladdest to see me when I get around; the other I shall pin to the
order I shall take from you today and send to my firm.'

"With a sweeping bow, I said, 'Adieu, Alex; _Auf wiedersehen,'_
and left the store.

"I knew Alex's habits. He always went to dinner when the town clock
struck twelve. A deaf shoemaker in the next block regulated his watch,
they say, by Alex's movements. A few minutes past twelve I went back
to the store and left on the front show case a bunch of samples done
up in a red cloth. On some of them were large green tags telling the
quantity I had of each and the price. I also wrote on the green tags
the words 'Job Lot.'

"I knew that Alex would see the bundle; and I knew that he would open
it--a merchant will always look at samples if you take them to his
store. I also knew that Alex, when he saw the mystic words 'Job Lot,'
would be half crazy. Adam and Eve were not more tempted by the
forbidden fruit than is the Yehuda (Hebrew) merchant by a
_metziah_ (bargain).

"I went back to the hotel. After luncheon I sent out my advance cards
and took up a book. My mind was perfectly easy, because I knew just
exactly what was going to happen.

"At a quarter to six, Abie, Alex's boy, disturbed me while I was in
the middle of a chapter and said: 'Papa wants to see you right away.
The store closes at six.'

"I knew that meant business, but I said to Abie: 'Tell your papa if
he'll excuse me I'll not come over. Won't you please say goodbye to
him for me? And won't you, Abie, like a good boy--bring me a bundle I
left on the show case. It has a red cloth around it.'

"Finishing my chapter, I started slowly toward Alex's store. I met
Abie. But he didn't have the red bundle--I knew he wouldn't.

"'Papa says, come over. He wants to see you,' said Abie.

"As I went into the store a minute before six, Alex was pacing up and
down the floor. My samples were spread upon the show case.

"'Eff you vant your samples, dake 'em avay yourself. Do you subbose I
raice poys to vait on draveling men?' said Alex. He was keeping up his
bluff well.

"With this I began to stack together my samples.

"'Vait! Vait!' said Alex, 'Aind you choing to gif a man a jance to puy
some choots?'

"'Sure,' said I, 'if you want to, but I thought you were going to wait
until you went into market.'

"'Vell, you vas a taisy,' said Alex; and in three minutes--he was the
quickest buyer I ever saw--I booked an order for six hundred dollars.

"'Now, I see,' said Alex, as he shook hands and started home, 'Vot you
vanted mit dot udder cart.'"

Strategy will win out in business, but not deception. The traveling
man who wishes to win in the race of commerce, if he plays sharp
tricks, will get left at the quarter post. It is rather hard,
sometimes, to keep from plucking apples that grow in the garden of
deception, especially if they hang over the fence. I sat one night
beside one of the boys who was sending out his advance cards. He was
making his first trip over a new territory.

"Blast it!" said he, tearing up a card he had written.

"Don't swear, or you'll not catch any fish," said I.

"Yes, but I did such a fool thing. I addressed a card to a merchant
and then turned it over and signed his name--not mine--to it. Wasn't
that a fool thing to do?"

"No, not at all," I replied, laughing. "If you had sent that card to
him, he would have read it. Otherwise, he will chuck the one you do
send into the basket."

"Bright idea!" quoth my friend.

A few months afterward I met this same man. "Say," said he, "that was
a straight tip you gave me on that advance card scheme. It worked like
a charm. Half of the men I went to see had kept the cards on their
desks and I had no trouble getting their ears. Some were expecting a
long lost relative. When they showed me my cards with their names on
them I was always amazed at such a queer mistake. There was one
exception. I told one man why I did it, and he nearly threw me out of
his store."

When I was told this I felt ashamed to think I had taught duplicity to
an innocent. I did not know to what it might lead him.

Stolen fruits may look like they are sweet, but taste them, and they
are bitter. I knew a man who sold shoes in the State of Washington. He
was shrewd and sharp. He learned of an old Englishman who, although
his store was in an out of the way town, did a large business. The
shoeman wrote half a dozen letters to himself care of the old
Englishman, addressing them as "Lord" So and So. When he reached the
town the Englishman most graciously handed him the letters, and to all
questions of the shoeman, who commanded a good British accent,
answered, "Yes, my lord," or "No, my lord."

The shoe man explained that, like the merchant, he had hated to leave
the old country, but that America--sad to state--was a more thrifty
country and he had invested in a large shoe factory in Boston. He said
he was merely out traveling for his health and to look over the
country with a view to placing a traveling salesman on the territory.
The Englishman gave him a large open order, supposing, of course, that
a lord would carry no samples. The old merchant was so tickled at
having a chance to buy from a lord that, notwithstanding his reserve,
he one day told his dry goods man about it. This was shortly before
the goods arrived.

"Why, that fellow," said the dry goods man, "is no more of a lord than
I am. He is not even an Englishman." He did not know that he was
"queering" a bill, for this is one thing that one traveling man will
never deliberately do to another. He knows too well what a battle it
is to win a bill, and he will not knowingly snatch from the victor the
spoils of war.

The old Englishman returned the "lord's" goods without opening the

Although the lord did not steal a base on his sharp run, I know of one
instance where a shrewd traveling man sold a bill by a smart trick.

In Ohio there was a merchant notoriously hard to approach. He was one
of the kind who, when you told him your business, would whistle and
walk away and who would always have something to do in another part of
the store when you drew near him the second time. What an amount of
trouble a man of that kind makes for himself! The traveling man is
always ready to "make it short." When he goes into a store the thing
he wishes to know, and how quickly, is: "Can I do any business here?"
The merchant will have no trouble getting rid of the drummer if he
will only be frank. All he must do is to give a fair reason why he
does not wish to do business. He can say: "I have bought"--that is the
best one, if it is true; it is the index finger pointing out a short
route for the salesman straight to the front door. Or, he can say: "I
have all in that line I can use for some time." "I have an old
personal friend to whom I give my trade for these goods--he treats me
squarely" is a good answer. So, too, is the statement, "I have an
established trade on this brand, my customers ask for it, and it gives
them entire satisfaction--what's the use of changing?" Any one of
these statements will either rid the merchant of the traveling man or
else raise an issue soon settled.

I will let my friend himself tell how he got the ear of the whistling

"The boys had told me old Jenkins was hard to get next to, but I made
up my mind to reach him. It's lots more fun anyway to land a trout in
swift water than to pull a carp out of a muddy pond; besides the game
fish is better to eat. When I went into his store, Jenkins fled from
me, and going into his private office, slammed the door behind him. I
made for the office. I had not come within ten feet from the window
before the old man said gruffly: 'I don't want to buy any goods; I
don't want even to _listen_ to a traveling man this morning.'

"This did not stop me. I walked to the window, took a pad of paper out
of my pocket and wrote on a slip: 'I have some samples I would like to
show you. I will bring them over.' I handed the slip to old Jenkins
and left him. The man who can do the odd, unexpected thing, is the one
who gets the ear.

"When I brought my samples in--I sell a specialty line of baby shoes--
I spread them on the counter. The old man was curious to see what a
'deaf and dumb man' was selling, I suppose, for up he marched and
looked at my line. He picked up a shoe and wrote on a piece of paper:
'How much?' I wrote the price and passed the slip back to him. 'What
are your terms?' he wrote back. 'Bill dated November 1st, 5% off, ten
days,' I replied on paper. 'Price your line right through,' he

"With this I wrote the price of each shoe on a slip and put it under
the sample. Old Jenkins called his shoe man. They both agreed that the
line was exceptional--just what they wanted--and that the prices were
low. But the old man wrote: 'Can't use any of your goods; the line I
am buying is cheaper.'

"I made no answer to this but began packing my grip. The old man tried
to write me so fast that he broke the points off his pencil and the
clerk's. While he sharpened his pencil I kept on packing. He took hold
of my hand and made a curious sign, saying, 'Wait.' But I went right
on until the old man had written: 'Don't pack up. I will buy some
goods from you because I feel sorry for you.'

"'Thank you, sir,' I wrote, 'but I am no charity bird; I want to sell
goods only to those who appreciate my values. Charity orders are
always small ones and a small one will not be sufficient for me to
give you the exclusive sale.' That was a clincher, for when a merchant
sees a good thing he will overbuy, you know, just to keep his
competitor from having a chance at it. I started again packing.

"'I really like your goods and will buy a nice bill if you will sell
no one else in town,' wrote the old man nervously. 'I was only joking
with you.'

"Just as I had finished writing down my order, never having spoken a
word to old Jenkins, a traveling man friend came in and said, in his
presence: 'Hello, Billy! How are you?'

"'Pretty well, thank you,' said I.

"'What! Can you hear and talk?' half yelled the old man.

"'To be sure,' I wrote back, 'but it would have been impolite to talk
to you; because you said, as I drew near the window, you didn't wish
to _listen_ to a traveling man this morning. Thank you for your order.

"The old man never forgot that day. The last time I was around, he
said, 'Confound you, Billy! What makes you ask me if I want any baby
shoes? You know I do and that I want yours. I believe, though, if you
were to die I'd have to quit handling the line; it would seem so
strange to buy them from any but a deaf and dumb man.'"

It is all right for the traveling man to put his wit against the
peculiarities of a wise, crusty old buyer, but it is wrong to play
smart with a confiding merchant who knows comparatively little of the
world. The innocent will learn.

A clothing man once told me of a sharp scheme he once worked on a
Minnesota merchant.

"When I was up in Saint Paul on my last trip," said he, "a country
merchant--what a 'yokel' he was!--came in to meet me. He had written
my house he wanted to see their line. But when he reached the hotel
another clothing man grabbed him and got him to say he would look at
_his_ line after he had seen mine. When he came into my room, I
could see something was wrong. I could not get him to lay out a single
garment. When a merchant begins to put samples aside, you've got him
sure. After a while, he said: 'Well, I want to knock around a little;
I'll be in to see you after dinner.'

"'I am expecting you to dine with me,' said I. 'It's after eleven now;
you won't have time to go around any. You'd better wait until this
afternoon.' I smelt a mouse, as there were other clothing men in town;
so I knew I must hold him. But he was hard to entertain. He wouldn't
smoke and wouldn't drink anything but lemonade. Deliver me from the
merchant who is on the water wagon or won't even take a cigar! He's
hard to get next to. After we finished our lemonade, I brought out my
family photographs and kept him listening to me tell how bright my
children were--until noon.

"When we finished luncheon I suggested that we go up and do our
business as I wanted to leave town as soon as I could. Then he told me
he felt he ought to look at another line before buying and that he had
promised another man he would look at his line.

"Had I 'bucked' on that proposition it would have knocked me out, so I
said: 'To be sure you should. I certainly do not wish you to buy my
goods unless they please you better than any you will see. We claim we
are doing business on a more economical scale than any concern in the
country. We know this, and I shall be only too glad to have you look
at other goods; then you will be better satisfied with ours. I'll take
pleasure even in introducing you to several clothing men right here in
the house.'

"This line of talk struck ten. My yokel friend said: 'Well, you talk
square and I want to buy of you. I like a man who thinks lots of his
family, anyway; I've got a big family myself--seven children--baby's
just a month old and a fine boy. But I promised my partner I'd look
around if I had a chance, and I think I ought to keep my word with

"Luckily there was another salesman from my firm in town and opened up
that same day in the hotel. I sent for him, never letting my yokel
friend get away from me a foot. I saw the other man, at whose line my
friend wished to look, sitting in the office; but I knew he would obey
the rule of the road and not come up to the merchant until I had let
him go.

[Illustration: "I listened to episodes in the lives of all those seven

"My partner was a deuce of a long time coming. I listened to episodes
in the lives of all of those seven children. I took down notes on good
remedies for whooping cough, croup, measles, and all the ills that
flesh is heir to--and thanked Heaven we had struck that subject!
Finally my partner, Sam, came. As he drew near I gave him the wink,
and, introducing my friend to him, said: 'Now, Mr. Anderson is in town
to buy clothing. I have shown him my line, but he feels he ought to
look around. Maybe I haven't all the patterns he wants, and if I can
get only a part of the order there is no one I'd rather see get the
other than you. Whatever the result, you'll bring Mr. Anderson to my
room, 112, when you get through. Show him thoroughly. I'm in no

"Sam marched Anderson up to his room. He caught onto my game all
right. I knew he would hold him four hours, if necessary, and tell him
all about his family history for seven generations.

"When Sam left, I went over to the cigar stand, pulled out my order
book and figured about long enough to add up a bill. I filled my cigar
case and going over to my competitor, at whose line Anderson had
promised to look, offered him one. He had made a sort of 'body snatch'
from me anyway and was ashamed to say anything about Anderson, but he
asked: 'How's business?'

"'Coming in carriages today,' said I. 'My city customer was over early
this morning and, no sooner had he gone than a man from the country
came in. Two clothing bills in one day is all right, isn't it? I just
turned my country customer over to Sam, as he has a few new patterns
in his line I want him to show. Guess I'll go pack up shortly.'

"I hadn't told a point blank lie, and my competitor had no right to
ask about my affairs, anyway. He also went to pack up.

"I let Sam entertain Anderson until I knew my competitor was out of
the way. Then I sent a note up to him. In due time he brought the
merchant down and soon excused himself.

"'That's a mighty nice fellow,' said Anderson, 'but my! his goods are
dear. Why, his suits are two to three dollars higher than yours.
You'll certainly get my bill. I told my partner I believed your house
would be all right to buy from.'

"I took the order from Anderson, but I was half glad when I heard that
he had died a few months afterward; for if he had lived he would have
been sure to catch up with me when Sam and I were both in market. And
then my goose would have been cooked for all time with him, sure."

And so it would.



The helping hand is often held out by the man on the road. Away from
home he is dependent upon the good will of others; he frequently has
done for him an act of kindness; he is ever ready to do for others a
deed of friendship or charity. Road life trains the heart to
gentleness. It carries with it so many opportunities to help the
needy. Seldom a day passes that the traveling salesman does not loosen
his purse strings for some one in want--no, not that; he carries his
money in his vest pocket. Doing one kind act brings the doer such a
rich return that he does a second generous deed and soon he has the
habit. The liberality of the traveling man does not consist wholly of
courting the favor of his merchant friends--he is free with them, but
mainly because it is his nature; it is for those from whom he never
expects any return that he does the most.

A friend of mine once told this story:

"It was on the train traveling into Lincoln, Nebraska, many years ago.
It was near midnight. It was, I believe, my first trip on the road.
Just in front of me, in a double seat, sat a poor woman with three
young children. As the brakeman called 'Lincoln, the next station! Ten
minutes for lunch!' I noticed the woman feeling in her pockets and
looking all around. She searched on the seats and on the floor. A
companion, Billie Collins, who sat beside me leaned over and asked:
'Madam, have you lost something?'

"Half crying, she replied, 'I can't find my purse--I want to get a cup
of coffee; it's got my ticket and money in it and I'm going through to

"'We'll help you look for it,' said Billy.

"We searched under the seats and up and down the aisle, but could not
find the pocket book. The train was drawing near Lincoln. The poor
woman began to cry.

"'It's all the money I've got, too,' she said pitifully. 'I've just
lost my husband and I'm going out to my sister's in Colorado. She says
I can get work out there. I know I had the ticket. The man took it at
Ottumwa and gave it back to me. And I had enough money to buy me a
ticket up to Central City where my sister is. They won't put me off,
will they? I know I had the ticket. If I only get to Denver, I'll be
all right. I guess my sister can send me money to come up to her. I've
got enough in my basket for us to eat until she does. I can do without
coffee. They won't put me off, wi--ll--?'

"The woman couldn't finish the sentence.

"One of the boys--Ferguson was his name--who sat across the aisle
beside a wealthy looking old man, came over. 'Don't you worry a bit,
Madam,' said he. 'You'll get through all right. I'll see the
conductor.' The old man--a stockholder in a big bank, I afterward
learned--merely twirled his thumbs.

"The conductor came where we were and said: 'Yes, she had a ticket
when she got on my division. I punched it and handed it back to her.
That's all I've got to do with the matter.'

"'But,' spoke up Collins, 'this woman has just lost her husband and
hasn't any money either. She's going through to Colorado to get work.
Can't you just say to the next conductor that she had a ticket and get
him to take care of her and pass her on to the next division?' "'Guess
she'll have to get off at Lincoln,' answered the conductor gruffly,
'our orders are to carry no one without transportation.' All railroad
men have not yet learned that using horse sense and being polite means

"The poor woman began to cry but my friend Billie, said: 'Don't cry,
Madam, you shall go through all right. Just stay right where you are.'

"The conductor started to move on. 'Now, you just hold on a minute,
sir,' said Collins. 'When this train stops you be right here--_right
here, I say_--and go with me to the superintendent in the depot. If
you don't you won't be wearing those brass buttons much longer. It's
your business, sir, to look after passengers in a fix like this and
I'm going to make it my business to see that you attend to yours.'

"The conductor was lots bigger than my friend; but to a coward a mouse
seems as big as an elephant and 'brass buttons' said: 'All right, I'll
be here; but it won't do no good.'

"As the conductor started down the aisle, Ferguson turned to the woman
and said: 'You shall go through all right, Madam; how much money did
you have?'

"'Three dollars and sixty-five cents,' she answered--she knew what she
had to a penny--three dollars and sixty-five cents; And I'll bet she
knew where every nickel of it came from! A cruel old world this to
some people, for a while!

"The train had whistled for Lincoln. Ferguson took off his hat,
dropped in a dollar, and passed it over to Billie and me. Then he went
down the aisle, saying to the boys, 'Poor woman, husband just died,
left three children, going to hunt work in Colorado, lost her purse
with ticket and all the money she had.' He came back with nearly
enough silver in his hat to break out the crown--eighteen dollars!

"'Will you chip in, Colonel?' said Ferguson to the old man who had
been his traveling companion?

"'No,' answered the old skinflint, 'I think the railroad company ought
to look after cases of this kind. Ahem! Ahem!'

"'Well,' said Ferguson, snatching the valise out of his seat--I never
saw a madder fellow--'We've enough without yours even if you are worth
more than all of us. You're so stingy I won't even let my grip stay
near you.' "When the train stopped at Lincoln, Billie and Ferguson
took the conductor to the superintendent's office. They sent me to the
lunch counter. I got back first with a cup of coffee for the mother
and a bag for the children. But pretty soon in bolted Billy and
Ferguson. Billie handed the woman a pass to Denver, and Ferguson
dumped the eighteen dollars into her lap.

"'Oh, that's too much! I'll take just three dollars and give me your
name so that I can send that back,' said the woman, happier than any
one I ever saw.

"But we all rushed away quickly, Billy saying: 'Oh, never mind our
names, madam. Buy something for the children; Good-bye, God bless

Not the poor widow, alone, but even the big, able-bodied, hungry tramp
comes in often to share the drummer's generosity. A friend once told
me of a good turn he did for a "Weary Willie" in Butte.

Now if there is any place on earth where a man is justified in being
mean, it is in Butte. It is a mining camp. It rests upon bleak, barren
hills; the sulphuric fumes, arising from roasting ores, have long
since killed out all vegetation. It has not even a sprig of grass.
This smoke, also laden with arsenic, sometimes hovers over Butte like
a London fog. More wealth is every year dug out of the earth in Butte,
and more money is squandered there by more different kinds of people,
than in any place of its size on earth. The dictionary needs one
adjective which should qualify Butte and no other place. Many a time
while there I've expected to see Satan rise up out of a hole. Whenever
I start to leave I feel I am going away from the domain of the devil.

"One morning I went down to the depot before five o'clock," said my
friend. "I was to take a belated train. It was below zero, yet I paced
up and down the platform outside breathing the sulphur smoke. I was
anxious to catch sight of the train. Through the bluish haze, the lamp
in the depot cast a light upon a man standing near the track. I went
over to him, supposing he was a fellow traveling man. But he was only
a tramp who had been fired out of the waiting room. I wore a warm
chinchilla, but it made my teeth chatter to see this shivering 'hobo'
--his hands in his pockets and his last summer's light weight pinned
close around his throat.

"'Fine morning, old man,' said I.

"'Maybe you t'ink so, Major,' replied the hobo, 'but you stan' out in
de breeze long's I have in Fourt' of Chuly togs an' you'll have to
have a long pipe dream to t'ink it's a fine mornin'. Say, pard, cup o'
coffee an' a sinker wouldn't go bad.'

"I took the tramp to the lunch counter. I was hungry myself and told
the waiter to give him what he wanted.

"'Cup o' coffee an' a sand'ich--t'ick slab o' de pig, Cap'n, please,'
said my hobo friend. "I saw some strawberries behind the counter and I
said to the waiter: 'Just start us both in on strawberries and cream,
then let us have coffee and some of that fried chicken.'

"'Sport, you are in on this,' said I to the tramp.

"He unpinned his coat and looked with longing eyes on the waiter as he
pulled the caps off the berries; he never said a word, merely
swallowing the secretion from his glands. When he had gulped his
berries, I told the waiter to give him some more.

"'Ever hungry, Major?' said the hobo. 'Dat's kind a feather weight for
my ap'tite. Let me have a ham sand'ich 'stead.

"'No, go on, you shall have a good square meal. Here, take some more
berries and have this fried chicken,' I answered, shoving over another
bowl of fruit and a big dish with a half a dozen cooked chickens on
it. 'Help yourself like it all belonged to you.'

"The hobo ate two halves of chicken, drained his cup of coffee and
started to get down from his stool. But: he cast a hungry look at the
dish of chicken.

"'Have some more, old man,' said I.

"'It's been s'long since I had a good square that I could stan' a
little more, Major; but let me go up against a ham sand'ich--it's got
a longer reach.'

"'No, have chicken--all the chicken you want--and some more coffee,'
said I.

"Eat! How that fellow did go for it--five pieces of chicken! I'd
rather see him repeat that performance than go to a minstrel show. He
slid off his stool again, saying: 'Major, I guess I'm all in. T'anks.'

"'Oh, no; have some pie,' I said.

"'Well,' he replied, 'Major, 's you shift the deck, guess I will play
one more frame.'

"'Gash o' apple,' said Weary to the waiter.

"When I insisted upon his having a third piece of pie, the hobo said:
'No, Major, t'anks, I got to ring off or I'll break de bank.'

"He, for once, had enough. I gave him a cigar. He sat down to smoke--
contented, I thought. I paid the bill; things are high in Montana, you
know--his part was $2.85. My hobo friend saw $3.55 rung up on the cash
register. Then I went over and sat down beside him.

"'Feeling good?' said I.

"'Yep, but chee! Dat feed, spread out, would a lasted me clean to
Sain' Paul.'"

Although the traveling man will feed the hungry tramp on early
strawberries and fried chicken when ham sandwiches straight would
touch the spot better, all of his generosity is not for fun. A drug
salesman told me this experience:

"A few years ago," said he, "I was over in one of the towns I make in
Oregon. I reached there on Saturday evening. I went to my customer's
store. Just before he closed he said to me: 'I'll take you to-night to
hear some good music.'

"'Where is it?' said I. 'I'll be glad to go along.'

"'It's down the street a couple of blocks; it's a kind of garden. A
family runs it. The old man serves drinks and the rest of the family--
his wife and three daughters--play, to draw the crowd. I want you to
hear the oldest girl play the violin.'

"Now, traveling men are ready any time to go anywhere. Sometimes they
fly around the arc light, but they can buzz close and not get their
wings scorched. They must keep their heads clear and they do,
nowadays, you know. It's not as it was in the old days when the man
who could tell the most yarns sold the most goods; the old fashioned
traveling man is as much behind the times as a bobtailed street car.
Well, of course, I told my friend Jerry that I'd go along. I should
have put in my time working on new trade, but he was one of the best
fellows in the world and one of my best friends. Yet he would not give
me much of his business; we were too well acquainted.

"When we went to the garden--Jerry, his partner ner and myself--we sat
up front. We could look over the crowd. It was a place for men only.
The dozen tables were nearly all full, most of the seats being
occupied by men from the mines--some of them wearing blue flannel
shirts. But the crowd was orderly. The music made them so. The oldest
daughter was only seventeen, but she looked twenty-three. She showed
that she'd had enough experience in her life, though, to be gray.
There was a tortured soul behind her music. Even when she played a
ragtime tune she would repeat the same notes slowly and get a chord
out of them that went straight to the heart. The men all bought rounds
of drinks freely between the numbers, but they let them remain
untasted; they drank, rather, the music.

"We listened for two hours. The music suited my mood. I was a long way
from home. Most of the men there felt as I did. Twelve o'clock came,
yet no one had left the garden. More had come. Many stood. All were
waiting for the final number, which was the same every night, 'Home,
Sweet Home.'

"There is something more enchanting about this air than any other in
the world. Perhaps this is because it carries one back when he once
has 'passed its portals' to his 'Childhood's Joyland--Little Girl and
Boyland.' It reminds him of his own happy young days or else recalls
the little ones at home at play with their toys. I know I thought of
my own dear little tots when I heard the strain. How that girl did
play the splendid old melody! I closed my eyes. The garden became a
mountain stream, the tones of the violin its beautiful ripples--
ripples which flowed right on even when the sound had ceased.

"'Home, Sweet Home!' I thought of mine. I thought of the girl's--a
beer garden!

"'Boys,' said I to Jerry and his partner, 'I am going up to shake
hands with that girl; I owe her a whole lot. She's a genius.' I went.
And I thanked her, too, and told her how well she had played and how
happy she had made me.

"'I'm glad somebody can be happy,' she answered, drooping her big,
blue eyes.

"'But aren't you happy in your music?' I asked.

"'Yes,' she replied in such a sad way that it meant a million nos.

"When I went back to my friends they told me the girl's father was not
of much account or otherwise he would send her off to a good teacher.

"'Now, that's going to take only a few hundred dollars,' said I. 'You
are here on the spot and there surely ought to be enough money in the
town to educate this girl. I can't stay here to do this thing, but you
can put me down for fifty.'

"Well, sir, do you know the people in the town did help that girl
along. When the women heard what a traveling man was willing to do,
they no longer barred her out because, for bread, she played a violin
in a beer garden, but they opened their doors to her and helped her
along. The girl got a music class and with some assistance went to a
conservatory of music in Boston where she is studying today."

Traveling men are not angels; yet in their black wings are stuck more
white feathers than they are given credit for--this is because some of
the feathers grow on the under side of their wings. Much of evil,
anyway, like good, is in the thinking. It is wrong to say a fruit is
sour until you taste it; is it right to condemn the drummer before you
know him?

Days--and nights, too--of hard work often come together in the life of
the road man. Then comes one day when he rides many hours, perhaps
twenty-four, on the train. He needs to forget his business; he does.
Less frequently, I wager, than university students, yet sometimes the
drummer will try his hand at a moderate limit in the great American

A year or more ago a party of four commercial travelers were making
the trip from Portland to San Francisco, a ride of thirty-six hours--
two nights and one day. They occupied the drawing room. After
breakfast, on the day of the journey, one of the boys proposed a game
of ten cent limit "draw." They all took part. There is something in
the game of poker that will keep one's eyes open longer than will the
fear of death, so the four kept on playing until time for luncheon.
About one o'clock the train stopped for half an hour at a town in
Southern Oregon. The party went out to take a stretch. Instead of
going into the dining room they bought, at the lunch counter, some
sandwiches, hard boiled eggs, doughnuts and pies and put them in their
compartment. On the platform an old man had cider for sale; they
bought some of that. Several youngsters sold strawberries and
cherries. The boys also bought some of these. In fact, they found
enough for a wholesome, appetizing spread.

The train was delayed longer than usual. The boys, tired of walking,
came back to their quarters. They asked me to have some lunch with
them. Just as one of the party opened a bottle of cider a little,
barefoot, crippled boy, carrying his crutch under one arm and a basket
half full of strawberries under the other, passed beneath the window
of their drawing room.

"Strawberries. Nice fresh strawberries, misters--only a dime a box,"
called out the boy. "Three for a quarter if you'll take that many."

There he was, the youthful drummer, doing in his boyish way just what
we were--making a living, and supporting somebody, too, by finding his
customer and then selling him. He was bright, clean and active; but
sadly crippled.

"Let's buy him out," said the youngest of our party--I was now one of

"No, let's make a jackpot, the winner to give all the winnings to the
boy for his berries," spoke up the oldest.

The pot was opened on the first hand. The limit had been ten cents,
but the opener said "I'll 'crack' it for fifty cents, if all are

Every man stayed in--for the boy! Strangely enough four of us caught
on the draw.

"Bet fifty cents," said the opener.

"Call your fifty," said numbers two and three, dropping in their

"Raise it fifty," spoke up number four.

The other three "saw the raise."

"Three Jacks," said the opener.

"Beats me," said number two.

"Three queens here," said number three.

"Bobtail," spoke up number four.

"Makes no difference what you have," broke in number three. "I've the
top hand, but the whole pot belongs to the boy. The low hand, though,
shall go out and get the berries."

As the train pulled out, the little barefoot drummer with $6.50
hobbled across the muddy street, the proudest boy in all Oregon; but
he was not so happy as were his five big brothers in the receding car.

Brethren, did I say. Yes, Brethren! To the man on the road, every one
he meets is his brother--no more, no less. He feels that he is as good
as the governor, that he is no better than the boy who shines his
shoes. The traveling man, if he succeeds, soon becomes a member of the
Great Fraternity--the Brotherhood of Man. The ensign of this order is
the Helping Hand.

I once overheard one of the boys tell how he had helped an old

"I was down in Southern Idaho last trip," said he. "While waiting at
the station for a train to go up to Hailey, an old man came to the
ticket window and asked how much the fare was to Butte. The agent told
him the amount--considerably more than ten dollars.

"'_Mon Dieu!_ Is it so far as that?' said the old man. '_Eh bien!_
(very well) I must find some work.'

"But he was a chipper old fellow. I had noticed him that morning
offering to run a foot race with the boys. He wasn't worried a bit
when the agent told him how much the fare to Butte was. He was really
comical, merely shrugging his shoulders and smiling when he said:
'Very well, I must find some work.' Cares lighten care.

"The old man, leaving the ticket window, sat down on a bench, made the
sign of a cross and took out a prayer book. When he had finished
reading I went over and sat beside him. I talked with him. He was one
of Nature's noblemen without a title. He was a French Canadian. He
came to Montana early in the sixties and worked in the mines. Wages
were high, but he married and his wife became an invalid; doctors and
medicines took nearly all of his money. He struggled on for over
thirty years, taking money out of the ground and putting it into pill
boxes. Finally he was advised to take his wife to a lower altitude. He
moved to the coast and settled in the Willamette Valley, in Oregon.
His wife became better at first; then she grew sick again. More

"Well, sir, do you know that old man--over seventy years of age--was
working his way back to Butte to hunt work in the mines again. I spoke
French to him and asked him how much money he had. 'Not much,' said
he--and he took out his purse. How much do you suppose the old man had
in it? Just thirty-five cents! I had just spent half a dollar for
cigars and tossed them around. To see that old man, separated from his
wife, having to hunt for work to get money so he could go where he
could hunt more work that he might only buy medicine for a sick old
woman and with just three dimes and a nickel in his purse--was too
much for me! I said to myself: 'I'll cut out smoking for two days and
give what I would spend to the old man.'

"I put a pair of silver dollars into the old man's purse to keep
company with his three dimes and one nickel. It made them look like
orphans that had found a home. '_Mon Dieu! Monsieur, vous etes un
ange du ciel. Merci. Merci._' (My God, sir, you are an angel from
Heaven. Thank you. Thank you.) said the old man. 'But you must give me
your address and let me send back the money!'

"I asked my old friend to give me his name and told him that I would
send him my address to Butte so he would be _sure_ to get it; that he
might lose it if he put it in his pocket.

"He told me his name. I gave him a note to the superintendent at
Pocatello, asking him to pass the old Frenchman to Butte. We talked
until my train started. Every few sentences, the old man would say:
'_Que Dieu vous benisse, mon enfant!_' (May God bless you, my boy!)

"As I stood on the back end of my train, pulling away from the
station, the old man looked at me saying:

"'Adieu! Adieu!' Then, looking up into the sky, he made a sign of the
cross and said: '_Que Dieu vous protege, mon enfant!_' (May God
protect you, my boy!)

"That blessing was worth a copper mine."



Since starting on the road many have asked me: "How can I get a job on
the road?"

Young men and old men have asked me this--clerks, stock boys,
merchants and students. Even wives have asked me how to find places
for their husbands.

Let's clear the ground of dead timber. Old men of any sort and young
men who haven't fire in their eyes and ginger in their feet need not
apply. The "Old Man," who sits in the head office sizes up the man who
wishes to go out on the road and spend a whole lot of the firm's money
for traveling expenses with a great deal more care than the dean of a
college measures the youth who comes to enter school. The dean thinks:
"Well, maybe we can make something out of this boy, dull as he is.
We'll try." But the business man says: "That fellow is no good. He
can't sell goods. What's the use of wasting money on him and covering
a valuable territory with a dummy?"

On the other hand, the heads of wholesale houses are ever on the watch
for bright young men. This is no stale preachment, but a live fact!
There are hundreds of road positions open in every city in America.
Almost any large firm would put on ten first class men to-morrow, but
they _can't find the men_.

The "stock" is the best training school for the road--the stock boy is
the drummer student. Once in a while an old merchant, tiring of the
routine of the retail business, may get a "commission job"--that is,
he may find a position to travel for some firm, usually a "snide
outfit"--if he will agree to pay his own traveling expenses and accept
for his salary a percentage of his sales shipped. Beware, my friend,
of the "commission job!" Reliable firms seldom care to put out a man
who does not "look good enough" to justify them in at least
guaranteeing him a salary he can live on. They know that if a man
feels he is going to _live_ and not lag behind, he will work better.
The commission salesman is afraid to spend his own money; yet, were he
to have the firm's money to spend, many a man who fails would succeed.
Once in a while a retail clerk may get a place on the road, but the
"Old Man" does not look on the clerk with favor. The clerk has had
things come his way too easy. His customers come to him; the man on
the road must _go after his customers_. It is the stock boy who has
the best show to get on the road.

The stock boy learns his business from the ground up or better, as the
Germans say, "from the house out." If one young man cannot become a
surgeon without going through the dissecting room, then another cannot
become a successful drummer without having worked in stock. The
merchant, who oft-times deals in many lines, wishes to buy his goods
from the man who knows his business; and unless a man knows his
business he would better never start on the road.

But, my dear boy, to merely know your business is not all. You may
know that this razor is worth $12.00 a dozen and that one $13.50; that
this handle is bone and that one celluloid; but that won't get you on
the road. _You must have a good front._ I do not mean by this that you
must have just exactly 990 hairs on each side of the "part" on your
head; that your shoes must be shined, your trousers creased, your
collar clean and your necktie just so. Neatness is a "without-which-
not;" but there must be more--a boy must work hard, be polite, honest,
full of force, bright, quick, frank, good-natured. The "Old Man" may
keep to sweep the floor a lazy, shiftless, stupid, silly, grouchy
"stiff"; but when he wants some one to go on the road he looks for a
live manly man. When you get in stock it is _up to you;_ for eyes are
on you, eyes just as anxious to see your good qualities as you are to
show them, eyes that are trying to see you make good.

[Illustration: "I braced the old man--it wasn't exactly a freeze. But
there was a lot of frost in the air."]

How can I get "in stock?" That's easy. If you are in the city you are
on the spot; if you are in the country, "hyke" for the city! See that
you haven't any cigarette stains on your fingers or tobacco in the
corners of your mouth. Go into the wholesale houses, from door to
door--until you find a job. If you are going to let a few or a hundred
turn-downs dishearten you, you'd better stay at home; _for when you
get on the road, turn-downs are what you must go up against every
day._ If you know some traveling man, or merchant, or manager, or
stock boy, maybe he can get you a "job in stock." But remember one
thing: When you get there, you must depend upon Number One. Your
recommendation is worth nothing to you from that hour on. This is the
time when the good front gets in its work.

The city is a strong current, my boy, in which there are many
whirlpools ready to suck you under; yet if you are a good swimmer you
can splash along here faster than anywhere else. A successful
traveling man once told me how he got on the road.

"I was raised in a little town in Tennessee," said he. "A traveling
man whose home was in my native town took me along with him, one day,
when he made a team trip to Bucksville, an inland country town,
fourteen miles away. That was a great trip for me--fourteen miles, and
staying over night in a hotel!--the first time I had ever done so in
my life. And for the first time I knew how it felt to have a strange
landlord call me "mister." It was on that trip that I caught the fever
for travel, and that trip put me on the road!

"When, the next morning after reaching Bucksville, my drummer friend
had finished business and packed his trunks, he said to me: 'Billie, I
guess you may go and get the team ready.' I answered him, saying, 'The
team _is_ ready and backed up, sir, for the trunks.' In three minutes
the trunks were loaded in and we were off.

"'Billie,' said my friend--I shall never forget it for it was the dawn
of hope for me, as I had never had any idea what I was going to do in
after life!--'I'll tell you, Billie, you would make a good drummer,
suh. When we drove down yesterday you counted how many more horseflies
lit on the bay mare than on the white horse. You reasoned out that the
flies lit on the bay because the fly and the mare were about the same
color and that the fly was not so liable to be seen and killed as if
it had lit on the white. That showed me you notice things and reason
about them. To be a good traveling man you must make a business of
noticing things and thinking about them. Real good hoss sense is a
rare thing. Then, this mo'nin', when I said "Get the team ready," you
said "It is ready, suh," and showed me that you look ahead, see what
ought to be done and do it without being told. Generally any fool can
do what he is told to; but it takes a man of sense to find things to
do, and if he has the grit to do them he will get along. I'm just
going to see if I can't get a place in our house for you, Billie.
You've got the stuff in you to make a successful drummer, suh. Yes,
suh! Hoss sense and grit, suh--hoss sense and grit!'

"Sure enough the next Christmas night--I wasn't then sixteen--I struck
out for the city in company with my older traveling man friend. He had
got me a place in his house. The night I left, my mother said to me:
'Son, I've tried to raise you right. I'll soon find out if I have. I
believe I have and that you will get along.' My father then gave me
the only word of advice he ever gave me in his life: 'Son, be polite,'
said he; 'this will cost you nothing and be worth lots.'

"Well, sir, with those words ringing in my ears: 'Use hoss sense; have
grit;' 'Be polite;' 'Son, I've tried to raise you right,' I struck out
for the city. As I think it over now, the thing that did me the most
good was my father's advice: 'Son, be polite, this will cost you
nothing and be worth lots.' The boy can never hope to be much if he
does not know that he should tip his hat to a lady, give his seat to a
gray-haired man, or carry a bundle for an old woman.

"How strange it was for me that night, to sleep with my friend in a
bed on wheels! How strange, the next morning, to wash in a bowl on
wheels! and to look out of the Pullman windows as I wiped my face! I
was _living_ then! And when I reached the city! Such a bustle I've
never seen since. As I walked up a narrow street from the depot,
I fell on the slippery sidewalk. 'Better get some ashes on your feet'
said my friend. And, indeed, I did need to keep ashes on my feet for a
long time. I had before me a longer and more slippery sidewalk than I
then dreamed of. Every boy has who goes to the city. But, when he gets
his sled to the top, he's in for a long, smooth slide!

"I started in to work for twenty dollars a month--not five dollars a
week! I found there was a whole lot of difference, especially when I
had to pay $4.50 a week for board and forty cents for laundry. I was
too proud to send home for money and too poor to spend it out of my
own purse. Good training this! One winter's day a friend told me there
was skating in the park. I asked a gentleman where the park was. 'Go
three blocks and take the car going south,' said he. I went three
blocks and when the car came along I _followed_ it, for I could not
afford a single nickel for car fare. What a fortune I had when, during
busy season, I could work nights and get fifty cents extra for supper
money! None of this did I spend, as my boarding house wasn't far away.
The only money that I spent in a whole year was one dollar for a
library ticket--the best dollar I ever spent in my life! Good books,
and there are plenty of them free in all cities, are the best things
in the world, anyway, to keep a boy out of devilment. The boy who will
put into his head what he will get out of good books will win out over
the one who gets his clothes full of chalk from billiard cues. One day
the "Old Gentleman" saw me at the noon hour as I was going to the
library with a book under my arm. 'So you read nights, do you,
Billie,' said he. 'Well, you keep it up and you will get ahead of
the boys who don't.'

"Work? I worked like a beaver. I was due at seven in the morning. I
was always there several minutes before seven. One morning the old
gentleman came in real early and found me at work, while a couple of
the other boys were reading the papers and waiting for the seventh
strike, and before most of the stock boys had shown up. At noon I
would wrap bundles, take a blacking pot and mark cases, run the
elevator or do anything to "keep moving." I did not know that an eye
was on me all the time; but there was. At the end of a year the old
gentleman called me into the office and said: 'Billie, you've done
more this year than we have paid you for; here's a check for sixty
dollars, five dollars a month back pay. Your salary will be $25.00 a
month next year. You may also have a week's vacation.

"How big that sixty was! Rockefeller hasn't as much to-day as I had
then. What he has doesn't make him happy; he wants more. I had enough.
Why, I was able to buy a new rig-out. I can see that plaid suit of
clothes to this day! I could afford to go home looking slick, to visit
my mother and father; I could buy a present for my sweetheart, too.
The good Lord somehow very wisely puts 'notions' into a young man's
head about the time he begins to get on in the world, and the best
thing on earth for him when he is away from home is to have some girl
away back where he came from think a whole lot of him and send him a
crocheted four-in-hand for a Christmas present. This makes him loathe
foul lips and the painted cheek. When a boy 'grows wise' he stands,
sure's you're born, on the brink of hell. It's a pity that so many,
instead of backing away when they get their eyelashes singed a little,
jump right in.

"All during my first year I had helped the sample clerk, who had the
best job in the house, get out samples for the salesmen. It was not
"my business" to do this; but I did it during spare time from my
regular work. When I came back from my visit home, the old gentleman
found me on the floor one day while I was tagging samples. 'Billie,'
said he, 'Fritz (the sample clerk) is going out on the road for us
next week. I have decided to let you take his place here in the house.
You are pretty young but we think you can do it.'

"I tried to answer back, 'I'll do my best,' but I couldn't say a word.
I only choked. The old gentleman had to turn away from me; it was too
much for him, too. After he stepped on the elevator, he turned around
and smiled at me. I heard him blow his nose after the elevator sunk
out of sight. I knew then that he believed in me and I said to myself,
'He shall never lose his faith.'

"In a few days Fritz had gone out on his trip and I was left alone to
do his work, the old gentleman handed me a sample book one afternoon
near closing time. 'Billie,' says he, 'Gregory is in a hurry for his
samples. Express them to Fayetteville.' He had merely written the
stock numbers in the book. It was up to me to fill in on the sample
book the description of the goods and the prices. This I did _that
night at home_ from memory. I had learned the stock that well. I
also wrote the sample tickets. It took me until after midnight. Next
morning I was waiting at the front door when the early man came to
unlock it. That night the samples went to Fayetteville.

"Two days afterward the old gentleman called me to the office and
asked me: 'When can Gregory expect his samples? He's in a big hurry.'

"'I sent them Wednesday night, sir,' said I.

"'Wednesday night! Why it was Tuesday night when I gave you the sample

"'I'm sure they went,' said I, 'because I saw the cases go into the
express wagon.'

"'All right,' said the old gentleman; and he smiled at me again the
same way he did the morning he made me the sample clerk, a smile which
told me I had his heart, and I have it to this day.

"Next morning he sent up to me a letter from Gregory, who wrote that
the samples came to him in better shape than ever before. At the end
of that year I got a check for $150 back pay, and my salary was raised
again. At the end of the third year the old gentleman gave me more
back pay and another raise, saying to me: 'Billie, I have decided to
put you on the road over Moore's old territory. He is not going to be
with us any more. Be ready to start January 1st.' I was the youngest
man that firm ever put out. I was with them sixteen years and it
almost broke my heart to leave them."

"You bet," said I, "the stock boy has a chance if he only knows it."

"Yes," answered my friend, "sure he has. My mother put in my trunk
when I left home a Sunday School card on which were the words: 'Thy
God seeth thee, my son.' Without irreverence I would advise every
stock boy who wants to get on the road to write these words and keep
them before him every day: 'The eyes of the old man are upon me.'"

I once heard one of the very successful clothing salesmen of Chicago
tell how he got on the road.

"I had been drudging along in the office making out bills for more
than a year, at ten a week," said he. "My father traveled for the firm
but he never would do anything to get me started on the road. He
thought I would fall down. I was simply crazy to go. I had seen the
salesmen get down late, sit around like gentlemen, josh the bosses,
smoke good cigars and come and go when they pleased for eight months
in the year. This looked better to me than slaving away making out
bills from half past seven in the morning until half past six at
night, going out at noon hungry as a hound and having to climb a
ladder after a ham sandwich, a glass of milk and a piece of apple pie.

"I had kept myself pretty well togged up and, as my father wouldn't do
anything to get me started, I made up my mind to go straight to the
boss myself. He was a little fat sawed-off. He wore gold-rimmed
glasses and whenever he was interested in anybody, he would look at
him over his specs. He did not know much about the English language,
but he had a whole lot more good common sense than I gave him credit
for then. It never hurts a boy in the house, you know, who wants to go
on the road to go square up and say so. He may get a turn-down, but
the boss will like his spunk, and he stands a better show this way
than if he dodges back and waits always for the boss to come to him.
Many a boy gets out by striking the 'Old Man' to go out. If the boy
puts up a good talk to him the old man will say: 'He came at me pretty
well. By Jove, he can approach merchants, and we will give him a

"One day, pretty soon after I had braced the old man to send me out, a
merchant in Iowa wrote in that he wanted to buy a bill of clothing.
They looked him up in Dun's and found that he was in the grocery
business. My father didn't wish to go out--the town was in his
territory. I overheard the old man in the office say to him: 'Let's
send Chim.'

"Well, Jim started that night. They told me to take a sleeper, but I
sat up all night to save the two dollars. I didn't save much money,
though, because in the middle of the night I got hungry and filled up
on peanuts and train bananas. The town was up on a branch and I didn't
get there until six o'clock the next day. When I reached there, I went
right up to my man's store. You ought to have seen his place! The town
was about seven hundred, and the store just about evened up with it--
groceries and hardware. I got a whiff from a barrel of sauer kraut as
I went in the door; on the counter was a cheese case; frying pans and
lanterns hung down on hooks from the ceiling; two farmers sat near the
stove eating sardines and crackers. No clothing was in sight and I
said to myself: 'Well, I'm up against it; this man can't buy much; he
hasn't any place to put it if he does.' But I've since learned one
thing: You never know who is going to buy goods and how many on the
road must learn that the man who has _nothing_ in his line is the very
man who can and will buy the most, sometimes, _because he hasn't any_.
And besides, the _little_ man may be just in the notion of spreading

[Illustration: "You ought to have seen his place"]

"A young man was counting eggs back near the coal oil can. He was the
only one around who seemed to have anything to do with the store. I
walked up to him and told him who I was. He said, 'Yes, we are glad to
see you. I'm just out of school and father wants to put me in business
here. He is going to put in all his time in the bank. He wants me to
take charge of the store. I've told him we could sell other things
besides groceries--they are dirty, anyway, and don't pay much profit;
so we have started to build on another room right next door and are
going to put in other lines. I've told father we ought to put in
clothing, but he hasn't fully made up his mind. I'll ask him to come
down after supper and you can talk to him.'

"'Hasn't fully made up his mind, and here I am my first time out, 24
hours away, and a big expense,'--all this went through me and I
couldn't eat any supper.

"The old banker that evening was just tolerably glad to see me. It
wasn't exactly a freeze, but there was lots of frost in the air. He
said, after we had talked the thing over, that he would look at my
samples the next morning, but that he would not buy unless my line was
right and the prices were right. I was sure my 'prices were right.' I
had heard the bosses talk a whole year about how cheaply they sold
their goods. I had heard them swear at the salesmen for cutting prices
and tell them that the goods were marked at bare living profit; and I
was green enough to believe this. I also knew that my line was the
best one on the road. I had not stopped to figure out how my bosses
could stay under their own roof all the time and know so much about
other houses' goods and be absolutely sure that their own line was
bound to be the best ever. I had heard the road-men many times tell
the bosses to 'wake up,' but I did not believe the salesmen. You know
that a young fellow, even if he is with a weak house, starts out on
his first trip feeling that his house is the best one. Before he gets
through with his maiden trip, even though his house is a thoroughbred,
he will think it is a selling plater.

"That night I worked until two o'clock opening up. I did not know the
marks so I had to squirm out what the characters meant and put the
prices on the tickets in plain figures so I would know what the goods
were worth. But this was a good thing. The salesman or the firm that
has the honesty and the boldness to mark samples in plain figures and
stick absolutely to their marked price, will do business with ease.
Merchants in the country do not wish to buy cheaper than those in
other towns do; they only wish a square deal. And, say what you will,
they are kind o' leery when they buy from samples marked in
characters--not plain figures. They often use a blind mark to do scaly
work on their own customers and they don't like to have the same game
worked on themselves. Honest merchants, and I mean by this those who
make only a reasonable profit, mark their goods in plain figures, cut
prices to nobody--prefer to do business with those who do it their
way. The traveling man who breaks prices soon loses out.

"That night I couldn't sleep. I was up early next morning and had a
good fire in my sample room. I had sense enough to make the place
where I was going to show my goods as comfortable as I could. I sold a
bill of $2,500 and never cut a price.

"When I got home I put the order on the old man's desk and went to my
stool to make out bills. The old man came in. He picked up the order
and looked over it carefully, then he asked one of the boys: 'Vere's
Chim? Tell him to com heer. I vant to see him.'

"I walked into the office. The old man was looking at me over his
specs as I went in. He grabbed me by the hand and said so loud you
could hear him all over the house: 'Ah, Chim, dot vas tandy orter. How
dit you do id mitoud cotting prices, Chim? You vas a motel for efery
men we haf in der house. I did nod know we hat a salesman in der
office. By Himmel! you got a chob on der roat right avay, Chim.'"



I sat with a group of friends around a table one evening not long ago,
in one of the dining rooms of the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver. The
dining room was done in dark stained oak, the waiters whispered to
each other in foreign tongues, French and German; on the walls of the
room were pictures of foreign scenes painted by foreign hands; but,
aside from this, everything about us was strictly American. We had
before us blue points with water-cress salad, mountain trout from the
Rockies, and a Porterhouse three inches thick. We had just come out of
the brush and were going to "Sunday" in Denver. It was Saturday night,
A man who has never been on the road does not know what it is to get a
square meal after he has been "high-grassing it" for a week or two,
and when such can become the pleasure of a drummer, he quickly forgets
the tough "chuck" he has been chewing for many days.

We were all old friends, had known each other in a different territory
many years before; so, when we came together again, this time in
Denver, not having seen each other for many years, we talked of old
times and of when we met with our first experiences on the road.

When a man first begins to hustle trunks he has a whole lot to learn.
Usually he has been a stock-boy, knowing very little of the world
beyond the bare walls in which he has filled orders. To his fellow
travelers the young man on the road is just about as green as they
make them, but the rapid way in which he catches on and becomes an
old-timer, is a caution.

A great many decry the life of the traveling man, even men on the road
themselves are discontented, but if you want to get one who is truly
happy and satisfied with his lot, find one who, after having enjoyed
the free and independent (yes, and delightful!) life of the road, and
then settled down for a little while as a merchant on his own hook,
insurance agent, or something of that kind, and finally has gone back
to his grips, and you will find a man who will say: "Well, somebody
else can do other things, but, for my part, give me the road."

After we had finished with the good things before us and had lighted
cigars, we could all see in the blue curls of smoke that rose before
us visions of our past lives. I asked one of my friends, "How long
have you been on the road, Billy?"

"Good Lord!" he yawned, "I haven't thought of that for a long time,
but I sure do remember when I first started out. I left St. Louis one
Sunday night on the Missouri Pacific. It was nearly twenty years ago.
I remember it very well because that night I read in a newspaper that
there was such a thing as a phonograph and, as I was traveling through
Missouri, I didn't believe it. I had to wait until I could see one.
The next day noon I struck Falls City, Nebraska. It had taken me
eighteen hours to make the trip. To me it seemed as if I were going
into a new world and I was surprised to find, when I reached Nebraska,
that men way out there wore about the same sort of clothes that they
did in St. Louis. I would not have been surprised a bit if some Indian
had come out of the bushes and tried to scalp me. The depot was a mile
and a half from the hotel. Here I took my first ride in an omnibus.
The inside of that old bus, the red-cushioned seats and the
advertisements of a livery stable, a hardware store, and "Little
Jake's Tailor Shop" were all new to me. Mud? I never saw mud so deep
in my life. It took us an hour to get up town. The little white hotel
with the green shutters on it was one of the best I ever struck in my
life. Many a time since then I have wished I could have carried it--
the good friend, chicken and all--along with me in all my travels. My
best friend and adviser, an old road man himself, had told me this:
'When you get to a town, get up your trunks and open them and then go
and see the trade. You might just as well hunt quail with your shells
in your pocket as to try to do business without your samples open.'

"I opened up that afternoon. It took me three hours. I put my samples
in good shape so that I knew where to lay my hands on anything that a
customer might ask for--and you know if you go out to sell anything
you'd better know what you have to sell! My samples open, I went down
the street and fell into the first store I came to. The proprietor had
been an old customer of the house, but I now know that the reason he
gave me the ice pitcher was that he had been slow in paying his bills
and the house had drawn on him. A wise thing, this, for a house to do
--when they want to lose a customer! This was a heart-breaker to me
right at the start, but it was lucky, because, if I had sold him, I
would have packed up and gone away without working the town. A man on
the road, you know, boys, even if he doesn't do business with them,
should form the acquaintance of all the men in the town who handle his
line. The old customer may drop dead, sell out, or go broke, and it is
always well to have somebody else in line. Of course there are
justifiable exceptions to this rule, but in general I would say: 'Know
as many as you can who handle your line.'

"After the old customer turned me down I went into every store in that
town and told my business. I found two out of about six who said they
would look at my goods. By this time everybody had closed up and I
came back to the hotel and went to bed, having spent the first day
without doing any business.

"Five men from my house in this same territory had fallen down in five
years and I, a kid almost, was number six--but not to fall down! I
said to myself, '_I am going to succeed.'_ The will to win means
a whole lot in this road business, too, boys. You know, if you go at a
thing half-heartedly you are sure to lose out, but if you say 'I
will,' you cannot fall down.

"Next morning I was up early and, before the clerks had dusted off the
counters, I went in to see the old gentleman who had said he would
look at my goods.

"'Round pretty early, aren't you, son?' said the old gentleman.

"'Yes, sir; but I'm after the worm,' said I.

"'All right. Go up to your hotel and I'll be there in half an hour.'

"Instead of waiting until he was ready for me, I went to the hotel.
After the half hour was up I began to get nervous. It was an hour and
a half before he came. I hadn't then learned that the best way to do
is to go with your customer from his store to yours, instead of
sitting around and waiting for him to come to you. This gives him a
chance to get out of the notion.

"I sold the old gentleman a pretty fair bill of hats, but it was sort
of a hit and miss proposition. He would jump from this thing to that
thing. I hadn't learned that the real way to sell goods is to lay out
one line at a time and finish with that before going to another.
Pretty soon, though, good merchants educated me how to sell a bill.
This is a thing a beginner should be taught something about before he
starts out.

"Customer No. 2 was a poke. But I suppose this was the reason I sold
him, because most of the boys, I afterwards learned, passed him up and
had nicknamed him 'Old Sorgum-in-the-Winter.' It is a pretty good idea
to let a slow man have his way, anyhow, if you have plenty of time,
because when you are selling goods in dozen lots, no matter how slow a
man is, you can get in a pretty good day's work in a few hours.

"When I got through with 'Old Sorgum' I had several hours left before
my train went west. Did I pack up and quit? Bet your life not! I
didn't have sense enough then, I suppose, to know that I had placed my
goods in about as many stores as I ought to. I then did the 'bundle

"I did up a bunch of stuff in a cloth and went down the street with
the samples under my arm. I did have sense enough, though, to tuck
them under my coat as I passed by the store of the man I had sold. I
didn't know, then, of the business jealousy--which is folly, you know
--there is between merchants; but I felt a little guilty just the

The only thing I sold, however, was a dozen dog-skin gloves to the big
clothing merchant on the corner. That night I took the two o'clock
train out of town and had my first experience of sleeping in two beds
in two towns in one night--but this, in those days, was fun for me.

"Do you know, I had a bully good week? I was out early that season,
ahead of the bunch. By Saturday afternoon I had worked as far west as
Wymore. I went up to see a man there on Saturday afternoon. He said,
'I'll see you in the morning.' Well, there I was! I had been raised to
respect the Sabbath and between the time that he said he would see me
in the morning and the time that I said all right--which was about a
jiffy--I figured out that it would be better to succeed doing business
on Sunday than to fail by being too offensively good. For a stranger
in a strange place work is apt to be less mischievous than idling,
even on the Sabbath Day.

"Heavens! how I worked those days! After I had made the appointment
for Sunday morning I went back to the hotel and threw my stuff into my
trunks quickly--by this time I had learned that to handle samples in a
hurry is one of the necessary arts of the road--and took a train to a
little nearby town which I could double into without losing any time.
I even had the nerve to drag a man over to my sample room _after he
had closed up on Saturday night!_ I didn't sell him anything that
time, but afterwards he became one of my best customers. It pays to
keep hustling, you know.

"Whew! how cold it was that night. The train west left at 3 a.m.
Heavens! how cold my room was. A hardware man had never even slept in
it, to say nothing of its ever having known a stove. The windows had
whiskers on them long as a billy goat's; the mattress was one of those
thin boys. I hadn't then learned that the cold can come through the
mattress under you just about as fast as it can through the quilts on
top. I hadn't got onto the lamp chimney trick."

"Why, what's that?" spoke up one of the boys.

"Aren't you onto that?" said Billy. "You can take a lamp chimney, wrap
it up in a towel and put it at your feet and it will make your whole
bed as warm as toast.

"Well, I went back to Wymore the next morning and sold my man. I cut
the stuffing out of prices because I had been told that the firm he
bought from was the best going, and I remembered the advice that my
old friend had given me: 'It's better, Billy, to be cussed for selling
goods cheap than to be fired for not selling them at all.' Of course I
don't agree with this now, but I slashed that bill just the same.

"Next morning, when I reached Beatrice, the first thing I saw in the
old hotel (I still recall that dead, musty smell) was a church
directory hanging on the wall. In the center of the directory were
printed these words:

     "'A Sabbath well spent brings a week of content
        And plenty of health for the morrow;
      But a Sabbath profaned, no matter what gained,
        Is a certain forerunner of sorrow.'

"Down in the corner, where the glass was broken, one of the boys who
had without doubt profaned the Sabbath, had written these words:

     "'A man who's thrifty on Sunday's worth fifty
        Of a half-sanctimonious duck;
      He will get along well if he does go to dwell
        Where he'll chew on Old Satan's hot chuck.'

"My business the week before had been simply out of sight. The old man
in the house wrote me the only congratulatory letter I ever got from
him in my life. He was so well pleased with what I had done that he
didn't kick very hard even on the bill that I had slashed. But that
next week--oh, my! I didn't sell enough to buy honeysuckles for a
humming bird. I began to think that maybe that Sunday bill had
'queered' me."

"But how about Sunday now, Bill?" spoke up one of the boys. "Do you
think you'd like to take a good fat order to-morrow?"

"Yes, I've grown not to mind it out in this country," said Billy. "You
know we've a saying out here that the Lord has never come west of

"I shall never forget my first experience," said my old friend Jim, as
we all lighted fresh cigars--having forgotten the Dutch pictures and
the black oak furnishings.

"I had made a little flyer for the house to pick up a bill of opening
stock out in Iowa. They all thought in the office that the bill wasn't
worth going after, so they sent me; but I landed a twenty-five hundred
dollar order without slashing an item, a thing no other salesman up to
that time had ever done, so the old man called me in the office and
gave me a job just as soon as I came back.

"I started out with two hundred dollars expense money. The roll of
greenbacks the cashier handed me looked as big as a bale of hay. I
made a couple of towns the first two days and did business in both of
them, keeping up the old lick of not cutting a price.

"The next town I was booked for was Broken Bow, which was then off the
main line of the 'Q,' and way up on a branch. To get there I had to go
to Grand Island. Now, you boys remember the mob that used to hang out
around the hotel at Grand Island. That was the time when there were a
lot of poker sharks on the road. When I was a bill clerk in Chicago I
used to meet with some of the other boys from the store on Saturday
nights, play penny ante, five-cent limit, and settle for twenty-five
cents on the dollar when we got through--I was with a clothing firm,
you know. I had always been rather lucky and I had it in my head that
I could buck up against anybody in a poker game. I had no trouble
finding company to sit in with. In fact, they looked me up. In those
days there were plenty of glass bowls full of water setting 'round for
suckers. My train didn't leave until Monday morning and I had to
Sunday at Grand Island.

"We started in on Saturday night and played all night long. By the
time we had breakfast--and this we had sent up to the room--I was out
about forty dollars. I wanted to quit them and call it off. I thought
this was about as much as I could stand to lose and 'cover' in my
expense account, but all of the old sharks said, 'By jove, you have
got nerve, Jim. You have the hardest run of luck in drawing cards that
I ever saw.' They doped me up with the usual words of praise and,
after I had put a cup of coffee or two under my belt, I went at it
again, making up my mind that I could stand to lose another ten. I
figured out that I could make a team trip and 'break a wheel' to even
up on expenses.

"Well, you know what that means. The time for you to quit a poker game
(when you have money in your pocket) is like to-morrow--it never
comes. By nightfall I was dead broke. Then I began to think. I felt
like butting my brains out against a lamp-post; but that wouldn't do.
I ate supper all alone and went to thinking what I'd do.

"I wasn't a kitten, by any means, so I went up to my shark friends and
struck one of them for enough to carry me up to Broken Bow and back.
He was a big winner and came right up with the twenty. They wanted to
let me in the game again on 'tick,' but then I had sense enough to
know that I'd had plenty. I went to my room and wrote the house. I
simply made a clean breast of the whole business. I told them the
truth about the matter--that I'd acted the fool--and I promised them
I'd never do it any more; and I haven't played a game of poker since.
The old man of the house had wired me money to Grand Island by the
time I returned there and in the first mail he wrote me to keep right

"Business was bum with me for the next three days. I didn't sell a
cent. One of the boys tipped me on an Irishman down in Schuyler who
had had a squabble with his clothing house. I saw a chance right there
and jumped right into that town. I got the man to look at my goods. He
looked them all through from A to Z, but I couldn't start that
Hibernian to save my life.

"He said, 'Well, your line looks pretty good; but, heavens alive! your
prices are away too high.' Then he said, picking up a coat: 'Look
here, young man, you're new on the road and I want to figure out and
show you that you're getting too much for your goods. Now, you put
down there, here is a suit that you ask me $12 for. Just figure the
cloth and the linings, and the buttons, and the work. All told they
don't cost you people over seven dollars. You ought to be able to--and
you can--make me this suit for $10. That's profit enough. You can't
expect to do business with us people out here in Nebraska and hold us
up. We're not in the backwoods. People are civilized out here. Your
house has figured that we're Indians, or something of that kind. You
know very well that they sell this same suit in Illinois, where
competition is greater, for ten dollars. Now I won't stand for any
high prices like you're asking me. I'm going to quit the old firm that
I've been buying goods from. I've got onto them. Now I'm going to give
my business to somebody and you're here on the spot. Your goods suit
me as far as pattern and make and general appearance go, and I'll do
business with you, and do it right now, if you'll do it on the right
sort of basis.'

"Well, there I was. I hadn't sold a bill for three days and I felt
that this one was slipping right away from me, too. I had come
especially to see the man and he had told me that he would buy goods
from me if I would make the price right. So I lit in to cut. I sold
him the twelve dollar suit for ten dollars. He took a dozen of them.
It was a staple. I didn't know anything about what the goods were
worth, but he had made his bluff good. I sold him the bill right
through at cut prices on everything. The house actually lost money on
the bill. I have long since learned that the only way to meet a
bluffer is with a bluff. This man had laid out a line of goods which
he fully intended, I know now, to buy from me at the prices which I
had first asked him for them, but he thought he would buy them cheaper
from me if he could.

"Many a time after that, when I had got onto things better, has this
old Irishman laughed at me about how he worked me into giving him a
bill of goods, and enjoyed the joke of it--Irishmanlike--more, I
believe, than he did getting the bill at low prices.

"Well, my nerve was gone and I thought the only way I could do
business then was by cutting the stuffing out of prices. I kept it up
for a few days--until I received my next mail at Omaha. Whew! how the
old man did pour it into me. He wrote me the meanest letter that a
white man ever got. He said: 'Jim, you can go out and play all the
poker that you want to, but don't cut the life out of goods. You can
lose a hundred and fifty dollars once in a while, if you want to,
playing cards, that will be a whole lot better than losing a hundred
and fifty every day by not getting as much as goods are worth. Now
we're going to forget about the hundred and fifty dollars you lost
gambling, instead of charging it to your salary account, as you told
us to do. We had made up our minds because you were starting out so
well and were keeping up prices, to charge this hundred and fifty
dollars to your expense account. We were going to forget all about
that, Jim; but if you can't get better prices than you have been for
the last week, just take the train and come right on in to the house.
We can't afford to keep you out on the road and lose money on you;'
and so on.

"I was scared to death. I didn't know that the Old Man in the house
was running a bigger bluff on me than the Irishman to whom I made cut
prices on the bill.

"But that letter gave me my nerve back and I ended up with a pretty
fair trip. At that time I hadn't learned that this road business is
done on confidence more than on knowledge. A salesman must feel first
within himself that his goods and prices are right, and then he can
sell them at those prices. If you feel a thing yourself you can make
the other man feel it, especially when he doesn't know anything about
the values of the goods he buys.

"When I reached the house one of the boys in stock patted me on the
back and said; 'Jim, the old man is tickled to death about what you've
done. He says you're making better profits for him than any man in the

"Well, I guess you held your job, all right, then, didn't you, Jim?"

"Oh my, yes. I stayed with them--that was my old firm, you know--for
fifteen years, and I was a fool for ever leaving them. I would have
been a partner in the house to-day if I hadn't switched off."

"How long have you been out, Arthur?" said my friend Jim, after ending
his story.

"Well, so long that I've almost forgotten it, boys, but I shall never
forget my start, either. The firm that I worked for had a wholesale
business, and they were also interested in a retail store. I was stock
man in the retail house but I wasn't satisfied with it. I was crazy to
go out and try my luck on the road. I braced the old man several times
before he would let me start; but he finally said to me: 'Well,
Arthur, you're mighty anxious to go out on the road, and I guess we'll
let you go. It won't do much harm because I think that, after a little
bit, you will want to get back to your old job. Then you'll be
satisfied with it. I kind o' feel, though, that in sending you out
we'll be spoiling a good retail clerk to make a poor traveling man.
You've done pretty well selling gloves a pair at a time to people who
come in and ask for them, but you're going to have a good deal harder
time when you go to selling a dozen at a clip to a man who hasn't been
in the habit of buying them from you. But, as you're bent on going,
we'll start you out this season. You can get yourself ready to go
right away.'

"My territory was Iowa. In the first town I struck was the meanest
merchant I've ever met in my life. But I didn't know it then. He was
one of the kind who'd tell you with a grunt that he would not go to
your sample room but if you had a few good sellers to bring them over
and he'd look at them. The old hog! Then about the time you'd get your
stuff over to his store something would have turned up to make him hot
and he'd take out his spite on you.

"Well, this old duck said he'd look at my samples of unlined goods. I
rather thought that if I could get him started on unlined goods I
could sell him on lined stuff and mittens. So I lugged over my whole
line myself. I didn't have sense enough to give the porter a quarter
to carry my grip over to his store and save my energy, but, instead, I
picked up the old grip myself. It was all right for the first block,
but then I had to sit down and rest. The store was four blocks away.
On the home stretch I couldn't go twenty steps before I had to sit
down and rest. It was so heavy that it almost pulled the cords in my
wrist in two. When I finally landed the grip at the front of the old
man's store, my tongue was hanging out. He had then gone to dinner.

"I thought I wouldn't eat anything but that I would get my line ready
for him by the time he came back, get through with him and take
luncheon later. I carried the grip to the back end of the store and
spread out my line on the counter. About one o'clock he came in and I
said to him, 'I'm ready for you.' He walked away and didn't say a word
but took out a newspaper and read for half an hour. He did it for pure
meanness, for not a single customer came into the store while he sat

"I was beginning to get a little hungry but I didn't mind that then.
When the young lady on the dry goods side came back from dinner I
sidled up to her and talked about the weather for another half hour.
My stomach was beginning to gnaw but I didn't dare go out. The old man
by this time had gone to his desk and was writing some letters. I
waited until I saw him address an envelope and put a stamp on it, and
then I braced him a second time.

"'No, I guess I don't want any gloves.'

"'Well, I've my goods all here and it'll be no trouble to show them to
you,' I said.

"'Nope,' said he, and then started to write another letter.

"When he finished that one, I said: 'Now, I don't like to insist but
as my goods are all here it won't do any harm to look at them.'

"With this the old man turned on me and said:

"'Looker here, young man, I've told you twict that I don't want to buy
any of your goods. Now, you just get them in your grip and get them
out of here right quick; if you don't I'll throw them out and you with

"Well, the old duffer was a little bigger than I was, and I didn't
want to get into any trouble with him; not that I cared anything about
having a scrap with him, but I thought that the firm wouldn't like it,
and if they got onto me they'd fire me. So, without saying a word, I
began to pack my goods together.

"About that time a customer came in who wanted to buy a pair of shoes.
Some of my samples were still on the counter near the shoe shelves.
The old man, with a sweep of his hand, just cleaned the counter of my
samples and there I was, picking them up off the floor and putting
them into my grip. I felt like hitting him over the head with a nail
puller but I buckled up the straps and started sliding the grip
along,--it was so infernally heavy--to the front door.

"Before I got to the front door, he came up and took the grip out of
my hand and piled it out on the sidewalk and gave me a shove. Then he
went back to show the customer the pair of shoes.

"I was just a boy then--was just nineteen--and this was the first man
I'd called on.

"'If they're all like this,' thought I to myself, 'I believe I'll go
back home and sell them a pair at a time to the boys I know who "come
in" for them.'

"I lugged that grip back to the hotel, hungry as I was. There was ice
on the sidewalk but I was sweating like a mule pulling a bob-tailed
street car full of fat folks. I was almost famished but I went to my
room and cried like a child. My heart was broken.

[Illustration: "My stomach was beginning to gnaw, but i didn't dare go

"But after awhile my nerve came back to me, and I thought, surely all
the merchants I call on won't be like that man,--and I washed up and
went down to supper. After eating something I felt better. At the
supper table I told an old traveling man, who was sitting at the table
with me, about the way I'd been treated.

"'Well, come on, my boy, and I'll sell you a bill tonight. That old
fellow is the meanest dog in Iowa. No decent traveling man will go
near him. As a rule, you'll find that merchants will treat you like a
gentleman. The best thing you can do is to scratch that old whelp off
the list. Of course you know,' said he, giving me advice which I
needed very much, 'you'll often run up against a man who is a little
sour, but if you sprinkle sugar on him in the right kind of way, you
can sweeten him up.'

"You know how it is, boys, even now, all of us like to give a helping
hand to the young fellow who's just starting out. I would almost hand
over one of my customers to a young man to give him encouragement, and
so would you. We've all been up against the game ourselves and know
how many things the young fellow runs up against to dishearten him.

"As I think of my early experiences, I recall with a great deal of
gratitude in my heart the kind deeds that were done for me when I was
the green first-tripper, by the old timers on the road. My new friend
took me down the street to one of his customers and made him give me
an order. That night I went to bed the happiest boy in Iowa."

With this one of the boys called a waiter. As we lit our cigars my
friend Moore, who was next to tell his story, said, "Well, boys,
here's to Our First Experiences."



The man on the road is an army officer. His soldiers are his samples.
His enemy is his competitor. He fights battles every day. The "spoils
of war" is _business_.

The traveling man must use tactics just the same as does the general.
He may not have at stake the lives of other men and the success of his
country; but he does have at stake--and every day--his own livelihood,
a chance for promotion--a partnership perhaps--and always, the success
of his firm.

Many are the turns the salesman takes to get business. He must be
always ready when his eyes are open, and sometimes in his dreams, to
wage war. If he is of the wrong sort, once in a while he will give
himself up to sharp practice with his customer; another time he will
fight shrewdly against his competitor. Sometimes he must cajole the
man who wishes to do business with him and at the same time,
especially when his customer's credit is none too good, make it easy
for him to get goods shipped; and, hardest of all, he must get the
merchant's attention that he may show him his wares. Get a merchant to
_looking_ at your goods and you usually sell a bill.

In the smoking room of a Pullman one night sat a bunch of the boys
who, as is usual with them when they get together, were telling of
their experiences. The smoker is the drummer's club-room when he is on
a trip. On every train every night are told tales of the road which,
if they were put in type, would make a book of compelling interest.
The life of the traveling man has such variety, such a change of
scene, that a great deal more comes into it than mere buy and sell.
Yes, on this night of which I speak, the stories told were about
tussles that my friends had had to get business.

As the train rounded a sharp curve, one of the boys, who was standing,
bumped his head against the door post. A New York hat man who saw the
"broken bonnet," said, "Your cracked cady reminds me of one time when
I sold a bill of goods that pleased me, I believe, more than any other
order that I ever took. I was over in the mining district of Michigan.
That's a pretty wide open country, you know. My old customer had quit
the town. He couldn't make a 'stick' of it somehow. I had been selling
him exclusively for so long that I thought I was queered with every
other merchant in the town. But the season after my customer Hodges
left there, much to my surprise, two men wrote into the house saying
they would like to buy my goods. My stuff had always given Hodges'
customers satisfaction. After he left, his old customers drifted into
other stores and asked for my brand. Now, if you can only get a
merchant's customers to asking for a certain brand of goods, you
aren't going to have trouble in doing business with him. This is where
the wholesale firm that sells reliable merchandise wins out over the
one that does a cut-throat business. Good stuff satisfies and it
builds business.

"Well, when I went into this town I thought I would have easy sailing
but I felt a little taken back when I walked down the street and sized
up the stores of the merchants who wished to buy my goods. They both
looked to me like tid bits. Both of them were new in the town, one of
them having moved into Hodges' old stand. I said to myself that I
didn't wish to do business with either one of these pikers. 'I'll see
if I can't go over and square myself with Andrews, the biggest man in
town,' I said. 'While I've never tried to do business with him, he
can't have anything against me. I've always gone over and been a good
fellow with him, so I'll see if I can't get him lined up.'

"Three or four more of the boys had come in with me on the same train.
When I went into Andrews' store, two of them were in there. Pretty
soon afterwards I heard one of them say: 'Well, Andy, as you want to
get away in the morning, I'll fall in after you close up. It'll suit
me all the better to do business with you tonight.' Andrews spoke up
and said, 'All right, eight o'clock goes.'

"This man saw that I had come in to see him and, having made his
engagement, knew enough to get out of the way. The boys, you know,
especially the old timers, are mighty good about this. I don't believe
the outsiders anyway know much about the fellowship among us.

"The other man who was in the store was out on his first trip. He was
selling suspenders. It was then, say, half past five. I joshed with
the boys in the store for a few minutes. Andrews, meantime, had gone
up to his office to look over his mail and get off some rush letters.
The new man, who sold suspenders, was a good fellow but he had lots to
learn. He trailed right along after Andrews as if he had been a dog
led by a string. He stood around up in the office for a few minutes
without having anything to say. Had he been an old-timer, you know, he
would have made his speech and then moved out of the way. After a few
minutes he came down and said to me, 'That fellow's a tough
proposition. I can't get hold of him. I can't find out whether he
wants to look at my goods or not. He joshes with me but I can't get
him down to say that he will look. I don't know whether I ought to
have my trunks brought up and fool with him or not.'

"'Let me tell you one thing, my boy,' said I, 'if you want to do
business, get your stuff up and do it quickly. If he doesn't come to
look at your goods, bring 'em in. Bring 'em in. Go after him that

"'All right, I guess I will,' said he, and out he went.

"As soon as Andrews came down from his office, I said 'Hello,' but
before I could put in a word about business, in came a customer to
look at a shirt. Well, sir, that fellow jawed over that four-bit shirt
for half an hour. I'd gladly have given him half a dozen dollar-and-a-
half shirts if he would only get out of my way and give me a chance to
talk business. Just about the time that Andrews wrapped up the shirt,
back came the new man again, having had his trunks brought up to the
hotel. I knew then that my cake was all dough. So I skipped out,
saying I would call in after supper. I felt then that, as Andrews was
going away the next morning, I wouldn't get a chance at him so, being
in the town, I thought the best thing to do was to go over and pick up
one of the other fellows who was anxious to buy from me.

"I went over to see the man who had taken Hodges' old stand. As soon
as I went in he said: 'Yes, I want some goods. I have just started in
here. I haven't much in the store but I'm doing first rate and am
going to stock up. When can I see you? It would suit me a good deal
better tonight after eight o'clock than any other time. I haven't put
on a clerk yet and am here all alone. If you like, we'll get right at
it and take sizes on what stock we have. Then you can get your supper
and see me at eight o'clock and I'll be ready for you. I want to buy a
pretty fair order. I've had a bully good hat trade this season. I've
been sending mail orders into your house--must have bought over four
hundred dollars from, them in the last three months. I s'pose you got
credit for it all right.'

"Well, this was news to me. The house hadn't written me anything about
having received the mail orders and I'll say right here, that the firm
that doesn't keep their salesmen fully posted about what's going on in
his territory makes a great big mistake. If I'd known that this man
had been buying so many goods, I wouldn't have overlooked him. As it
was, I came very near passing up the town. And I'll tell you another
thing: A man never wants to overlook what may seem to him a small bet.
This fellow gave me that night over seven hundred dollars--a pretty
clean bill in hats, you know, and has made me a first-class customer
and we have become good friends.

"But I'm getting a little ahead of my story! After supper, that night,
I dropped into Andrews' store again. The suspender man was still
there. He had taken my tip and brought in some of his samples. While
Andrews was over at the dry goods side for a few minutes, the
suspender man said to me:

"'I don't believe I can sell this fellow. He says he wants to buy some
suspenders but that mine don't strike him somehow--says they're too
high prices. I've cut a $2.25 suspender to $1.90 but that doesn't seem
to satisfy him, and I'll give you a tip, too--you've been so kind to
me--I heard him say to his buyer that he wasn't going to look you
over. He said to let you come around a few times and leave some of
your money in the town, and then maybe he'd do business with you. I
just thought I'd tell you this so that you'd know how you stood and
not lose any time over it.'

"'Thank you very much,' I said. Now, this sort of thing, you know,
makes you whet your Barlow on your boot leg. I did thank the suspender
man for the tip but I made up my mind that I was going to do business
with Andrews anyway. You know there's lots more fun shooting quail
flying in the brush than to pot-hunt them in a fence corner.

"After I'd sold my other man that night, I sat down in the office of
the hotel. Andrews was still in the sample room, just behind the
office, looking over goods. I knew he'd have to pass out that way, so
I sat down to wait for him. It was getting pretty late but I knew that
he was a night-hawk and if he got interested he would stay up until
midnight looking at goods. After a little bit out came Andrews, his
buyer and my other traveling man friend. He asked me up with them to
have cigars. He was wise. Only that morning we'd had to double up
together in a sample room in the last town. We were pretty much
crowded but were going to 'divvy' on the space. The boys, you know,
are mighty good about this sort of thing; but when I went down the
street I learned that my man was out of town--I sold only one man in
that place. So I went right back up to the sample room and rolled my
trunks out of his way so that my friend could have the whole thing to
himself. There's no use being a hog, you know. This didn't hurt me
any, and it was as much on account of this as anything else that I was
asked up to take a cigar where I could get in a word with Andrews.

"As the clerk was passing out the cigars, Andrews took off his hat. As
he dropped it on the cigar case, he rubbed his hand over his head and
said, 'Gee! but I've got a headache!'

"I picked up his hat. Quick as a flash I saw my chance. It was from my
competitor's house. I could feel, in a second, that it was a poor one.
Getting the brim between my fingers, I said to Andrews, 'Why, you
shouldn't get the headache by wearing such a good hat as this. Why,
this is a splendid piece of goods!'

"With this, I tore a slit in the brim as easily as if it had been
blotting paper. Then I gave the brim a few more turns, ripping it
clear off the crown. In a minute or two I tore up the brim and made it
look like black pasteboard checkers.

"'The cigars are on me!' said Andrews, as everybody around gave him
the laugh.

"I went up to my room soon leaving Andrews that night to wear his
brimless hat. But I knew then that I could get his attention when I
wanted it, next morning, about nine o'clock,--for my train and his
left at 11:30. This would give plenty of time to do business with him
if we had any business to do, as he was a quick buyer when you got him
interested. I went into his store with two hats in my hand. They were
good clear Nutrias and just the size that Andrews wore. I'd found this
out by looking at his hat the night before.

"'I don't want to do any business with you, Andrews,' said I, 'but I'm
not such a bad fellow, you know, and I want to square up things with
you a little. Take one of these.'

"The hats were 'beauts.' Andrews went to the mirror and put on one and
then the other. He finally said, 'I guess I'll hang onto the brown
one. By Jove, these are daisies, old man!'

"'Yes,' said I, striking as quickly as a rattlesnake, 'and there are
lots more where these came from! Now, look here, Andrews, you know
mighty well that my line of stuff is a lot better than the one that
you're buying from. If you think more of the babies of the man you are
buying your hats from than you do of your own, stay right here; but if
you don't, get Jack, your buyer, and come up with me right now. I'm
going out on the 11:30 train.' This line of talk will knock out the
friendship argument when nothing else will.

"'Guess I'll go you one, old man,' said Andrews.

"He bought a good sized bill and, as I left him on the train where I
changed cars, he said, 'Well, good luck to you. I guess you'd better
just duplicate that order I gave you, for my other store.'"

"That," spoke up one of the boys, "is what I call salesmanship. You
landed the man that didn't want to buy your goods. The new man let him
slip off his hook when he really wanted to buy suspenders."

"I once landed a $3,400 bill up in Wisconsin," said a clothing man as
we lighted fresh cigars, "in a funny way. I'd been calling on an old
German clothing merchant for a good many years, but I could never get
him interested. I went into his store one morning and got the usual
stand-off. I asked him if he wouldn't come over and just _look_ at my
goods, that I could save him money and give him a prettier line of
patterns and neater made stuff than he was buying.

"'Ach! Dat's de sonk dey all sink,' said the old German. 'I'm
sotisfite mit de line I haf. Sell 'em eesy und maig a goot brofit.
Vat's de use uf chanching anyvay, alretty?'

[Illustration: In big headlines I read, "GREAT FIRE IN CHICAGO."]

"I'd been up against this argument so many times with him that I knew
there was no use of trying to buck up against it any more, so I
started to leave the store. The old man, although he turned me down
every time I went there, would always walk with me to the front door
and give me a courteous farewell. In came a boy with a Chicago paper
just as we were five steps from the door. What do you suppose stared
me in the face? In big head lines I read: GREAT FIRE IN CHICAGO in big
type. The paper also stated that flames were spreading toward my
house. I at once excused myself and went down to the telegraph office
to wire my house exactly where I was so that they could let me know
what to do. As I passed to the operator the telegram I wrote, he said,
'Why, Mr. Leonard, I've just sent a boy up to the hotel with a message
for you. There he is! Call him back!' The wire was from the house
stating, 'Fire did us only little damage. Keep right on as if nothing
had happened.'

"My samples were all opened up and I had to wait several hours for a
train anyway, so an idea struck me. 'I believe I'll fake a telegram
and see if I can't work my old German friend with it.' I wrote out a
message to myself, 'All garments on the second floor are steam heated.
They are really uninjured but we will collect insurance on them. Sell

"Armed with this telegram I walked into the old German's store again.
'Enny noos?' said he.

"'Yes; here's a telegram I've just received,' said I, handing over the
fake message.

"'Sdeam heatet,' said the old man, 'Vell dey gan be bresst oud, nicht?
Veil, I look ad your goots.'

"He dropped in right after dinner. I had laid out on one side of the
sample room a line of second floor goods.

"Among them were a lot of old frocks that the house was very anxious
to get rid of. When I got back to the old man's store, he was pacing
the floor waiting for me to come. He had on his overcoat ready to go
with me.

"'Vell,' said he, before giving me a chance to speak, 'I go right down
mit you.'

"He was the craziest buyer I ever saw. It didn't take me more than
twenty minutes to sell the $3,400."

"But how did you get on afterwards?" asked one of the boys.

"Don't speak of it," said Leonard. "The joke was so good that I gave
it away to one of the boys after the bill had been shipped, and do you
know, the old man got onto me and returned a big part of the bill. Of
course, you know I've never gone near him since. Retribution, I
suppose! That cured me of sharp tricks."

"A sharp game doesn't work out very well when you play it on your
customer," spoke up one of the boys who sold bonds, "but it's all
right to mislead your competitor once in a while, especially if he
tries to find out things from you that he really hasn't any business
to know. I was once over in Indiana. I had on me a pretty good line of
six per cents. They were issued by a well-to-do little town out West.
You know, western bonds are really A-1 property, but the people in the
East haven't yet got their eyes open to the value of property west of
the Rockies.

"Well; when I reached this town, one of my friends tipped me onto one
of my competitors who, he said, was going to be in that same town that
afternoon. There were three prospective customers for us and we were
both in the habit of going after the same people. Two of them were
bankers,--one of them was pretty long winded; the other was a retired
grain dealer who lived about a mile out of town. He was the man I
really wished to go after. His name was Reidy and he was quite an old
gentleman, always looking for a little inside on everything. I didn't
wish to waste much time on the bankers before I'd taken a crack at the
old man. I knew he'd just cashed in on some other bonds that he had
bought from my firm and that he was probably open for another deal. I
merely went over and shook hands with the bankers. One of them--the
long winded one--asked me if I had a certain bond. I told him I didn't
think I had,--that I'd 'phone in and find out. I got on the line with
my old grain dealer friend and he said he'd be in town right after
dinner. I would have gone out to see him but he preferred doing his
business in town. By this time I knew my competitor would reach town
so I ate dinner early and took chances on his still being in the
dining room when Reidy would drive in. I knew that my competitor, if
he got into town, would go right after the old gentleman just as
quickly as he could.

"After dinner I sat down out in the public square smoking, and
apparently taking the world at ease,--but I was fretting inside to
beat the band! My competitor saw me from the hotel porch. He came over
and shook hands--you know we're always ready to cut each other's
throats but we do it with a smile and always put out the glad hand.

"'Well, Woody,' said he, 'you seem to be taking the world easy.
Business must have been good this week.'

"'Oh, fair,' I answered,--but it had really been rotten for several

"'Come and eat,' said he.

"'No, thanks, I've just been in. I'll see you after. I'll finish my

"My competitor went in to dinner. About the time I knew he was getting
along toward pie, I began to squirm. I lighted two or three matches
and let them go out before I fired up my cigar. Still no Reidy had
shown up. Pretty soon out came my competitor over into the park where
I was. I knew that if he got his eyes on Reidy I would have to
scramble for the old man's coin. So I managed to get him seated with
his back toward the direction from which Reidy would come to town. The
old man always drove a white horse. As I talked to my competitor I
kept looking up the road--I could see for nearly half a mile--for that
old white horse.

"'Well, have you left anything in town for me, Woody,' said he

"About that time I saw the old man's horse jogging slowly but surely
toward us.

"'Well, now, I'll tell you,' I said to him, 'I believe that if you'll
go over to the bank just around the corner, you can do some business.
I was in there this morning and they asked me for a certain kind of
paper that I haven't any left of. If you can scare up something of
that kind, I think you can do some business with them there. I'll take
you over, if you like.'

"I didn't want him to turn around because I knew that he, too, would
see that old white horse and that I'd never get him to budge an inch
until he had spoken with Reidy if he did,--and the old horse was
coming trot! trot! trot!--closer every minute.

"'Well, say, that'll be good of you. I hate to leave you out here all
alone resting and doing nothing,' said he.

"'Oh, that's all right. Come on,'--and with this I took him by the arm
in a very friendly manner, keeping his back toward that old white
horse, and walked him around the corner to the bank where I knew that
he would be out of sight when the old man reached the public square.

"Just as I came around the corner after leaving my competitor Richards
in the bank, there came plodding along the old man. Luckily he went
down about a block to hitch his horse. I met him as he was coming back
and carried him up to my room in the hotel. I laid my proposition
before him and he said:

"'Well, that looks pretty good to me, but I'd like to go over here to
the bank and talk to one of my friends there and see what he thinks of
the lay-out.'

"'Which bank?' thought I. Well, as luck would have it, it was the
other bank. 'Very well,' I said, 'I'll drop over there myself in a few
minutes and have the papers all with me. We can fix the matter up over
there. I'm sure the people in the bank will give this their hearty

"As the old man walked across the park, two or three people met him
and stopped him. My heart was thumping away because, even though the
banker around the corner was long winded, it was about time for him to
get through with Richards; but the old man went into the bank all
right before Richards came out. Then I went over and sat down in the
park. In a few minutes Richards came over where I was.

[Illustration: "Well, Woody," said he, "you seem to be taking the
world pretty easy."]

"'Say, that was a good tip you gave me, Woody, I think I'll be able to
do some business all right. I want to run into the hotel a few
minutes, if you'll excuse me, and get into my grip. Say; but you're
taking things easy! I wish I could get along as well as you do without

"Richards left me and went into the hotel. I wanted to get him off as
quickly as I could because I didn't know but that, any minute, the old
gentleman would come out of the bank door. I hit a pretty lively pace
to get in where he was. By that time, he had investigated my bonds and
found that he wanted them. I took his check and gave him a receipt for
it, and then walked with him over to where his horse was. I wanted to
get him out of town as quickly as I could and keep my competitor from
seeing him, if possible.

"Well, sir, everything worked smooth as a charm. As the old man's
buggy was just crossing the bridge, out came Richards from the hotel.
I was again sitting in the park.

"'Heavens! you're taking it easy,' said he to me. 'How is it the firm
can afford to pay you to go around these towns, sit in parks and smoke
cigars, Woody?'

"'Oh, a man has to take a lay-off once in a while,' said I.

"I went over to the bank where the old man had been, and in a few
minutes sold them some bonds. Then I came out and again sat down in
the park a few minutes, waiting for Richards to get through so that I
could go and see the other people where he was dickering. Pretty soon
he came out and he was swearing mad. He said, 'I've been wrangling
with these people for a couple of hours and I can't get them into
anything to save my life. I might just as well have been out here with
you all this time, taking the world easy, for all the good I've done.'

"'Well, I guess I'll go over and take a crack at them again,' said I.

"'All right. Go ahead. I guess I'll skip the town,' but he didn't do a
thing but get on the trolley which passed out by old man Reidy's
house, where he was, of course, too late. I went in where he had not
been able to do business, and, now that my mind was easy, I took
plenty of time and made a nice sale in there, too.

"About a week afterwards I met Richards, and he said, 'Well, Woody,
you've got one coming on me. You weren't so idle as I thought all the
time you were out there in the park.'"

"First call for dinner in the dining car," drawled out the white-
aproned darkey as Woody finished his story.

"Boys, shall we all go in?" said Woody.

"I'm not very hungry," spoke up Leonard, "I took luncheon pretty late
today. I think I'll wait a little bit unless you all are in a hurry."

"You know what you were telling me about running your competitor into
a bank around the corner," spoke up a necktie man, "goes to show this:
That you must have a man's attention before you can do business with
him. I really believe that your friend, Woody, would have done
business if he hadn't struck his man at the busy time of day. I know
that I can usually do business if I get a man when his mind is easy
and I can get him to look at my goods.

"But I bumped into the hardest proposition the other day that I've put
my shoulder against for a long time. There's a merchant that I call
on, over near Duluth, that is the hardest man to get into a sample
room I ever saw. I have been calling on him for several seasons but I
couldn't get him away from the store. Once he had a clerk that stole
from him and after he got onto this fellow he never leaves the store
unless one of his own sons is right there to take his place. Even
then, he doesn't like to go out, and he only does so to run up home
and back right quickly for a bite to eat. I had sold him a few little
jags by lugging stuff in and was getting tired of this sort of
business. I wanted either to get a decent order or quit him cold. It
is all very good, you know, to send in one or two little jags from a
new man, but the house kicks and thinks you are n. g. if you keep on
piking with the same man.

"This time, I went into his store and said to myself, 'Well, if I
can't get this old codger to go down to my sample room, I'm not going
to do any business with him at all.'

"When I went into his store I shook hands with him and offered him a
cigar. He said, 'Vell, I vont smoke dis now. I lay it avay.'

"If there is anything on earth that makes me mad it is to offer a
cigar to a merchant or a clerk who, in truth, doesn't smoke, and have
him put it aside and hand it to somebody else after I have left town;
but, you know, you bump into that kind once in a while.

"The old man was back in the office. He shook hands pretty friendly,
and said, 'How's peezness?'

"'Best ever,' said I. It's always a good thing to be cheerful. All
traveling men who go around the country saying that business is poor
ought to be knocked in the head. Even if they are not doing a great
deal, they should at least say, even in the dullest of times, that
business might be a 'lot worse.' It's these croakers on the road who
really make business dull when there is every reason for it to be
good. I never kick and I don't think any up-to-date man will.

"Well, sir, when the old man had asked me how business was and I'd
told him that it was strictly good, I went right square at him. I
said: 'Now, look here, Brother Mondheimer, I have been selling you a
few goods right along and you've told me that they were satisfactory,
but I haven't been doing either myself or you justice. I want you,
this time, to come right down with me and see what a line of goods I
really have. My stuff is strictly swell. The patterns are up-to-date
and I've styles enough to line the whole side of your house. Now,
don't let me run in with just a handful of samples and sell you a
little stuff, but come down and give me a square chance at a decent

"'Dot's all ride,' said he, 'but I can't get avay. I must stay hier.
Ven cost'mers com in, somebody must be hier to vait on 'em.'

"'That's all right,' said I, 'but all your clerks are idle now. There
isn't a customer in the store. Things are quiet just now. Suppose you
come on down with me.'

"'No, I can't do dot,' said the old man. 'I'd like to but I can't.
Von't you breeng op a leedle stoff?'

"I didn't answer his question directly, but I said, 'Now, look here,
Brother Mondheimer, suppose a man were to come into your store and
want to buy a good suit of clothes. How much profit would you make?'

"'Aboud fife tollars,' said he.

"'Well, how long would you, yourself, spend on that man, trying to
make a sale with him?'

"'Vell, I vood nod led him go until I solt him,' said he.

"'All right,--by the way--', said I. 'Can you give me two tens for a

"He handed me out two ten dollar gold pieces.

"'Here' said I, slapping down one of the slugs and shoving it over to
him, 'Here's ten dollars for ten minutes of your time. That's yours
now,--take it! I've bought your time and I dare you come down to my
sample room. If you do, I'll make that ten back in less than ten
minutes and you'll stay with me an hour and buy a decent bill of

"Well, sir, the old man wouldn't take the ten--but he did get his hat
and he's been an easy customer ever since!"

"Second and last call for dinner," called the dining car boy again.

"Guess this is our last chance," spoke up one of the boys. Then,
stretching a little, we washed our hands and went in to dinner.



After we had finished dinner, all of the party came back to our "road
club room," the smoker.

"The house," said the furnishing goods man, sailing on our old tack of
conversation, "sometimes makes it hard for us, you know. I once had a
case like this: One of my customers down in New Orleans had failed on
me. I think his _muhulla_ (failure) was forced upon him. Even a tricky
merchant does not bring failure upon himself if business is good and
he can help it, because, if he has ever been through one, he knows
that the bust-up does him a great deal more harm than good. It makes
'credit' hard for him after that. But, you find lots of merchants who,
when business gets dull, and they must fail, will either skin their
creditors completely or else settle for as few cents on the dollar as

"Well, I had a man in market, once, when I was traveling out of
Philadelphia, who had 'settled' for 35 cents on the dollar. He had
come out of his failure with enough to leave him able to go into
business again, and, with anything like fair trade, discount all his
bills. I knew the season was a fairly good one and felt quite sure
that, for a few years anyway, my man would be good. What was lost on
him was lost, and that was the end of it. The best way to play even
was on the profits of future business.

"But our credit man, a most upright gentleman, wasn't particular about
taking up the account again. However, there I was on a commission
basis! I knew the man would pay for his goods and that it was money in
my pocket--and in the till of the house--to sell it.

"I had seen my man at the hotel the evening before and he'd said he
would be around the next morning about ten o'clock. I went down to the
store before that time and talked the thing over with the credit man.

"Don't want to have anything to do with that fellow,' he said. 'He
skinned us once and it's only a matter of time until he'll do it

"The head man of the firm came by about that time and I talked it over
with him. He had told me only the day before that he had some 'jobs'
he was very anxious to get rid of.

"'Now,' said I to him, 'I believe I have a man from New Orleans who
can use a good deal of that plunder up on the sixth floor if you're
willing to sell it to him. He uses that kind of "Drek" and is now
shaped up so that he'll not wish for more than sixty day terms, and
I'm sure he'd be able to pay for it. He's just failed, you know.'

"Well, let him have it--let him have it,' said the old man. 'Anything
to get the stuff out of the house. If he doesn't pay for it we won't
lose much.'

"'All right, if you both say so, I'll go ahead and sell him.'

"This was really building a credit on 'jobs,' for I believed that my
man would after that prove a faithful customer,--and this has been the
case for many years.

"Well, when he came in, I took him up to the 'job' floor and sold him
about five hundred dollars. This was the limit that the credit man had
placed on the account. Then came the rub. I had to smooth down my
customer to sixty day terms and yet keep him in a good humor. He
thought a great deal of me--I had always been square with him--and he
wasn't such a bad fellow. He had merely done what many other men would
have done under the same circumstances. When he had got into the hole,
he was going to climb out with as many 'rocks' in his pocket as he
could. He couldn't pay a hundred cents and keep doing business, and it
was just as much disgrace to settle for sixty cents on the dollar,
which would leave him flat, as it was to settle for thirty-five. So he

"I brought him up to the credit window and said to the credit man--
Gee! I had to be diplomatic then--'Now, this is Mr. Man from New
Orleans. You know that cotton has been pretty low for the past season
and that he has had a little misfortune that often comes into the path
of the business man. He, you also know, has squared this with
everybody concerned in an honorable way,--although on account of the
dull times he was unable to make as large a settlement as he wished
to--isn't that the case, Joe?' said I. He nodded.

"'Yes, but things are picking up with me, you know,' said he.

"'Yes; so they are,' said I, taking up the thread, 'cotton is
advancing and times are going to be pretty good down in the south next
season. Now, what I've done,' said I to the credit man, as if I had
never spoken to him about the matter before, 'is this: Joe, here, has
learned a lesson. He has seen the folly, and suffered for it, of
buying so many goods so far ahead. What he aims to do from this time
on is to run a strictly cash business, and to buy his goods for cash
or on very short terms. We have picked out five hundred dollars' worth
of goods--I've closed them pretty cheap--and you shall have your money
for this, the bill fully discounted, within sixty days. Then in
future, Joe, here, does not wish to buy anything from you or anybody
else that he cannot pay for within that time. One bump on the head is
enough, eh, Joe?'

"'Yes; you bet your life. I've learned a lesson.'

"'That'll be very satisfactory, sir,' said the credit man, and
everything was O. K. You see, I had put the credit man in the position
of making short terms and I had tickled Joe and given him something
that he needed very badly at that time--credit. This was about the
smoothest job I think I ever did. I really don't believe that either
the credit man or my customer was fully onto my work. Joe, however,
has thanked me for that many a time since. He's paid up my house
promptly and used them for reference. They could only tell the truth
in the matter, that he was discounting his bills with them. This has
given him credit and he's doing a thriving business now, and has been
for several years. He is getting long time again from other houses."

"Smooth work all right," said one of the boys, touching the button for
the buffet porter.

"Once in a while," said the book man, "you have to pull the wool over
a buyer's eyes. I never like to do anything of this sort, and I never
do but that I tell them about it afterwards. The straight path is the
one for the traveling man to walk in, I know; but once, with one of my
men, I had to get off of the pebbles and tread on the grass a little.

"We really sell our publications for less than any other concern in
the country. We give fifty off, straight, to save figuring, while many
others give 40-10-5, which, added up, makes 55, but, in truth, is less
than fifty straight. Once, in Chicago, I fell in on a department store
man. I put it up to him and asked him if he would like certain new
books that were having a good sale.

"'Yes,' he said, 'but I tell you, John (he knew me pretty well), I
can't stand your discounts. You don't let me make enough money. You
only give me 50 while others give me 40-10-5.'

"'All right, I'll sell them to you that way,' said I. 'We won't worry
about it.'

"'Very good then,' and he gave me his order.

"Next season, when I got around to him, I had forgotten all about the
special terms that I had made this man. But after he said he would use
a certain number of copies of a book, he jogged my memory on that
score with the question:

"'What sort of terms are you going to give me--the same I had last

"'No, sir; I will not,' said I. 'I'm not going to do business with you
that way.'

"'Well, if you've done it once, why don't you do it again? Other
people do it right along, and your house is still in business. They
haven't gone broke.'

"'Yes, you bet your life they're still in business!' said I, 'and
they'd make a whole lot more money than they do now if they'd do
business on the terms that you ask. Do you know what I did? You
wouldn't let me have things my way and be square with you, so I
skinned you on that little express order out of just ninety cents, and
did it just to teach you a lesson!' I said, planking down a dollar. 'I
don't want to trim you too close to the bone.'

"'Well,' said he, after I'd figured out and shown him the difference
between 50 off straight and 40-10-5, 'This dollar doesn't belong to
me. Come on, let's spend it.'"

"That's pretty good," chimed in the shoe man, who was sitting on a
camp stool. The smoking compartment was full. "But it was dangerous
play, don't you think? Suppose he'd done that figuring before you'd
got around and shown him voluntarily that you skinned him and why. I
know one of my customers, at any rate, who would have turned you down
for good on this sort of a deal. He is a fair, square, frank man--most
merchants, I find, are that way anyhow."

"Yes; you're right," said John.

"I got at the man I speak of this way," said the shoe man. "I had
called on him many times. He was such a thoroughbred gentleman and
treated me so courteously that I could never press matters upon him.
There are merchants, you know, of this kind. I'd really rather have a
man spar me with bare 'knucks' than with eight-ounce pillows. This
gives you a better chance to land a knock-out blow. But there is a way
of getting at every merchant in the world. The thing to do is to
_find the way_.

"As I stood talking to this gentleman--it was out in Seattle--in came
a Salvation Army girl selling 'The War Cry.' When she came around
where I was, my merchant friend gave her a quarter for one, and told
her to keep the change. Do you know, I sized him up from that. It
showed me just as plain as day that he was kind hearted and it struck
me, quick as a flash, that my play was generosity. People somehow who
are free at heart admire this trait in others. When a man has once
been liberal and knows what a good feeling it gives him on the inside,
to do a good turn for some poor devil that needs it, he will always
keep it up, and he has a soft spot in his heart for the man who will
dig up for charity.

"I didn't plank down my money with any attempt to make a show, but I
simply slipped a dollar into the Salvation Army Captain's hand, and
said, 'Sister, the War Cry is worth that much to me. I always read it
and I'm really very glad you brought this copy around to me.'

"Now, this wasn't altogether play, boys, you know. If there is any one
in the world who is a true and literal Christian, it is the girl who
wears the Salvation Army bonnet. And to just give your money isn't
always the thing. A little kind word to go along with it multiplies
the gift.

"After a while, when I got around to it--I talked with the merchant
for some time about various things--I said, as politely as I could:
'Now, you know your affairs a great deal better than I do myself, but
it is barely possible that I might have something in my line that
would interest you. My house is old established and they do business
in a straightforward manner. If you can spare the time, I should be
very glad indeed to have you see what I am carrying. I assure you that
I shall not bore you in the sample room. I never do this because I
don't like to have any one feel I'm attempting to know more of his
affairs than he does.'

"'If such were the case,' said my merchant friend, 'why, then, I ought
to sell out to you.'

"'Then you are right,' said I. 'Nothing bothers me more, on going into
a barber shop when I'm in a rush and wish nothing but a shave, than to
have the barber insist on cutting my hair, singing it, giving me a
shampoo, and a face massage.'

"'Well, I don't think I'm needing anything just now,' said my merchant
friend. 'But as you're here, I'll run down and see you right after
luncheon. 'No,' said he, pulling out his watch, 'I might as well go
with you right now. It is half past eleven and that will give you all
the afternoon free.'

"'Very well,' said I, 'this is kind of you. I am at your service.'

"It was considerate of him to go along with me right then, for the
time of a traveling man relatively is more valuable than that of any
other man I know of. In many lines he must make his living in four to
six months in the year. Every minute of daylight, when he is on the
road, means to him just twice that time or more!

"Do you know, I never had in my sample room a finer man. He very
quickly looked over what I had and when he said to me, 'Do you know,
I'm really glad that I've come down with you. You have some things
that strike me. I hadn't intended putting in any more goods for this
season, but here are a few numbers that I'm sure I can use. I can't
give you a very large order. However, if you're willing to take what I
wish, I shall be very glad to give you a small one; but if your goods
turn out all right, and this I have no right to question, we shall do
more business in future.'

"I took the order, which wasn't such a small one, either, and from
that time on he has always been a pleasant customer. He was a

"He's the kind that always gets the best that's coming," broke in two
or three of the boys at once.

"Yes, you bet your life!" exclaimed the shoe man. "If a man wishes to
get the best I have, that is the way I like him to come at me. To be
sure, I do a one price business; but even then, you know, we can all
do a man a good turn if he makes us have an interest in his business
by treating us courteously. We can serve him by helping him select the
best things in our lines, and by not overloading him."

"Many's the way," said the dry goods man, "that we have of getting a
man's ear. In '96 I was traveling in Western Nebraska. That state, you
know, is Bryan's home. Things were mighty hot out there in September,
and nearly everybody in that part of the country was for him; but when
you did strike one that was on the other side, he was there good and
hard! Yet, most of those who were against Bryan by the time September
rolled around were beginning to think that he was going to win out. I
had just left Chicago and had been attending a great many Republican
political meetings. I had read the Chicago newspapers, all of which
were against Bryan that year, and thought that while there was a good
deal of hurrah going on, he didn't stand a ghost of a show, and I was
willing to bet my money on it.

"I didn't have a customer in this town. It was Beaver City. You know
how the stores are all built around three sides of a public square. I
was out scouting for a looker. I dropped into one man's store--he was
a Republican, but he said to me, 'Heavens alive! How do you expect me
to buy any goods this year? Why, Bryan's going to be elected sure's
your born, and this whole country is going to the devil. I'm a
Republican and working against him as hard as I can, but I'm not going
to get myself in debt and go broke all the same.

"'The only man in this town who thinks Bryan isn't going to win is old
man Jarvis across the way. If he keeps on buying and things come out
the way I think they will, I'll have one less competitor when things
all blow over.'

"I looked in my agency book. As a rule, they're not worth a rap for
anything except to give the names of merchants in a town and the sort
of business they're in, but when I got down to the J's I saw that
Jarvis was rated ten to twenty thousand. I stuck the book in my pocket
and made straight for where I saw his name over the door.

"First thing he boned me about was, 'Well, how's the election going in
Illinois and back East?'

"'Oh, Bryan will be put under a snow bank so deep he'll never get
out,' said I, 'when November gets here.'

"'Good!' said he. 'You're the first man I've seen for a month who's
agreed with me. I don't think he'll run one, two, three. These fellows
out here in this country are all crazy because Bryan's come from this
state; and a few hayseed Populists who've always been Republican
heretofore are going to vote for him. Shucks! They don't amount to
anything. It's the East that settles an election, and the working man.
Why, they're not going to see this country go to the devil because a
few of these crazy Pops out here are going to vote the Democratic

"The druggist from next door, who overheard the old man, spoke up
hotly and said, 'Well, I'm one of them crazy Pops you're talking
about. You haven't any money that says Bryan's goin' to lose, have

"'Well, I'm not a betting man,' said Jarvis, 'but if I was, I'd put up
my store against yours,--the building and all against your stock.'

"'Well, I wish you were a betting man,' said the druggist. 'You'd
better either put up or shut up. I'll jest bet you ten dollars even
that Bryan does win.'

"'I'll take that bet, my friend,' said I, knowing that the effect of
the wager on Jarvis would be worth more than the bet itself. I reached
for my roll of expense money--I had about two hundred dollars on me--
and slipped out a 'tenner.' The druggist went in next door and got his
money. The old man held the stakes.

"I was the only man who'd been in that town for a long time who was
willing to bet on McKinley, and pretty soon a dozen fellows were after
me. In about twenty minutes I had put up all I had, and went over to
the bank and drew a couple of hundred more. I drew it on personal
account as I had plenty of money coming to me from the firm. Soon a
couple of fellows came in who wanted to put up a hundred each. I
covered their piles, went back to the bank and made another draft--in
all, I planked up five hundred dollars before leaving town. Jarvis was
my stake holder.

"'Say,' said he, 'young fellow, I've never done any business with you,
but, by Heavens! I like your pluck, and I'm going right over to your
sample room whether you ask me to or not and give you an order. This
is the best time for me to buy goods. All these other fellows around
here are croaking about the election and they're not going to have
anything to sell these people. Shoes are going to wear out and the sun
is going to fade calico, Bryan or no Bryan! I want some goods on my
shelves. Come on, let's go now before it gets dark!'

"I never sold a bill so easy in my life. The old man would pick up a
bundle of sample cards and say, 'Here, you send me about what you
think I ought to have out of this lot,' and while I was writing down
the items, he would talk politics. I sold him a nailer."

"Well, you had pretty good luck in that town," spoke up one of the
boys, "to get a good bill and also win five hundred dollars."

"Didn't win it, though," said the dry goods man.

"Well, how's that? Didn't McKinley win the election? You were betting
on him."

"Yes, but I got back to Chicago about the time that Bryan struck
there. I went down to the old shack on the lake front where the Post
Office now is, and heard Bryan speak to the business men. It looked to
me like the whole house was with him. I heard a dozen men around where
I sat say, after the speech was over, that they had intended to vote
against him, but that they were sure going to vote for Bryan. That
same day I hedged on my five hundred."

"Well, you got a good customer out of the deal anyhow."

"Yes, I did; but I thought I'd lost him. After the election he sent me
the thousand and I went down to see him. You know I voted for Bryan."

"Changed your mind, did you?"

"_Change?_ Did you ever hear Bryan speak? When I met the old man I
made a clean breast of it, and said, 'I'm mighty sorry to tell you,
but I voted for Bryan.'

"'Well, that's all right,' he said. 'So did I.'"




"Seven and nine," said the porter, poking his head into the Pullman
smoker, "are all made down."

With this, a couple of the boys bade us goodnight and turned in, but
soon two more drifted in and took their places.

"Getting a merchant's attention," said the furnishing goods man, "is
the main thing. You may get a man to answer your questions in a sort
of a way but you really do not have his attention always when he talks
to you. You would better not call on a man at all than go at him in a
listless sort of a way. This is where the old timer has the bulge over
the new man. I once knew a man who had been a successful clerk for
many years who started on the road with a line of pants. He had worked
for one of my old customers. I chanced to meet him, when I was
starting on my trip, at the very time when he was making his maiden
effort at selling a bill to the man for whom he had been working. Of
course this was a push-over for him because his old employer gave him
an order as a compliment.

"Well, sir, when that fellow learned that I was going West--this was
on the Northern Pacific--he hung right on to me and said he would like
to go along. Of course, I told him I should be very glad to have him
do so, and that I would do for him whatever I could. But here he made
a mistake. When a man starts out on the road he must paddle his own
canoe. It is about as much as his friend can do to sell his own line
of goods, much less to put in a boost for somebody else. And,
furthermore, a man who takes a young chick under his wing will often
cut off some of his own feed. Still, this fellow had always been very
friendly with me and I told him, 'Why, to be sure, Henry; come right
along with me.'

"In the second and third towns that we made, he picked up a couple of
small bills that just about paid his expenses. He was just beginning
to find that the road was not such an easy path to travel as, in his
own mind, he had cracked it up to be.

"The next town we struck was Bismarck, North Dakota. We got in there
about three o'clock in the morning. It was Thanksgiving Day. To be
sure, I went to bed and had a good sleep. A man must always feel
fresh, you know, if he expects to do any work.

"It was about eleven o'clock before I breakfasted, opened up, and
started across the street. My old customer had burned out there and I,
too, had to go out and rustle some man. Just as I started over toward
town, I met my German friend Henry coming back. His face looked like a
full moon shining through a cloud. I could see that there was trouble
on his mind.

"'Well, Henry, how goes it?' said I.

"'Id don't go so goot,' said he. 'But vat can a man expect on
Danksgifing? I vent to see von man and he said, "I haf an olt house
dat alvays dreats me right, so vat's de use of chanching?" Vell, vat
archument could I make against dot? I vent in to see anodder man and
he said, "I haf an olt friend dot I buy from," and vat archument could
I make against dot? I vent in to see still anodder, and he said, "I
haf just bought," so, vat archument could I make against dot? The next
man I vent to see said, "Mein Gott, man; don'd you suppose I am going
to rest von day in de year? So I t'ought dere vas no use fooling mit
him, so I t'ink I vill pack op and eat a goot dinner and take a goot
nap and go vest again in de morning.'

"'All right, Henry,' said I; 'but I guess I'll go over and try my

"The first man that I went to see was the one who had said to my
friend Henry that he thought he ought to have one day in the year to
rest. He was the biggest merchant in the town in my line. When I
reached his store he was putting the key in the door to lock up and go
home for his Thanksgiving dinner.

"I couldn't talk to him out there in the cold--we were strangers--so I
said to him, 'I should like to buy a couple of collars if you please.'
He sold me the collars and then, just for a bluff, I made out that
mine was hurting me and took a few minutes to put on another one. I
didn't say anything about what my business was and the merchant, in
order to have something to say, asked, 'Are you a stranger in town?'

"'Yes, sir,' said I, 'I am. But I hope that I shall not be very much
longer. I am out looking for a location.'

"'You are a physician, then?' said the merchant.

"'Yes, sir,--in a way,' said I; 'but I treat diseases in rather a
peculiar way, I fancy. I believe in going down to the cause of
diseases and treating the cause rather than the disease itself. My
specialty is the eye. Now, you see, if the eye looks at bright,
sparkling snow, it is strained; but if it looks at a green pasture,
that color rests it. In fact, if the eye looks upon anything that is
not pleasing to it, it does it an injury. Now, my way of getting down
to the root of all this eye trouble is to place before it things that
are pleasing to look upon, and in this way, make eye salves and things
of that kind unnecessary. In just a word,' said I (I had his attention
completely), 'I am selling the prettiest, nobbiest, most up-to-date
line of furnishing goods there is on the road. They are so attractive
that they are good for sore eyes. Now, the only way I can back up this
statement is by showing you what I have. When will it suit you to look
at them? The location that I am looking for is a location for my goods
right here on your shelves.'

"Well, sir; do you know, that merchant really came down to my sample
room on Thanksgiving Day--he hardly took time to eat his dinner--and I
sold him.

"I didn't see any more of my friend Henry until the next morning. The
train was late and left about seven o'clock.

"'Vell, what luck yesterday?' said Henry.

"As he came up to me in the train where I was sitting with a friend, I
said, 'Well, I sold a bill.'

"'Who bought of you?'

"'The clothing man here.'

"'Vell, dot's de feller,' said Henry, 'dot told me he vas going to haf
von day in de year for his family. And you solt him? Vell, how did you
do id?'

"I briefly told Henry of my experience.

"'Vell, dot vas goot,' said he.

[Illustration: You'd better write that down with a pencil," said

"My advance agent friend, who had sat beside me--Henry had fallen in
with us in our double seat--said to Henry, 'Now, that's a good line of
argument. Why don't you use that sometime?' A twinkle came into my
theatrical friend's eye when Henry did, in fact, ask my permission to
use this line of talk. I told Henry, 'Why, sure, go on and use that
argument anywhere you want to. I shall not use it again because in
every town that I shall strike, from this time on, I have an old
established customer. I have no use for that argument. Just go and use

"'You'd better write that down with a pencil, Henry,' said the advance
agent--Stanley was his name.

"'No, dere's no use ov writing dot down,' said Henry. 'Dot archurnent
vas so clear dot I haf it in my headt!'

"But, sure enough, Henry took out his lead pencil and jotted down the
points in the back of his order book. In the next town we struck, one
of the merchants was a gruff old Tartar. He was the first man that
Henry lit onto.

"Now, an old merchant can size up a traveling man very soon after he
enters the door. The shoeman will go over to where the shoes are kept;
the hat man will turn his face toward the hat case; the furnishing
goods man will size up the display of neckwear; in fact, a merchant
once told me that he could even tell the difference between a clothing
man and a pants man. A clothing man will walk up to a table and run
his hands over the coats while a pants man will always finger the
trousers to a suit.

"Well, sir, when Henry walked into this gruff old merchant's store, he
found him busy waiting on a customer so up he marched to a clothing
table and began to feel of a pile of pants. After the customer went
out he went up to the old man and said to him, 'Gootmorning, sir. I am
a physician, sir, and I am looking for a logation--'

"'You are no such a ---- thing,' said the old man. 'You are selling

"Henry told me of this experience when he came back to the hotel and
he was so broken hearted that he almost felt like going back home. In
fact, he didn't last more than about three weeks. He had started too
late in life to learn the arts of the traveling man."

"You bet," said the wall paper man who had heard this story.
"Attention is the whole cheese. I know I once tried my hardest to get
hold of an old Irishman down in Texas. He was a jolly old chap but I
couldn't get next. There wasn't any sample room in the town and if I
showed my goods to any one, I would have to get his consent to let me
bring my stuff into his store. When I struck old Murphy to let me
bring my goods in, he gave me a stand-off so hard that another one of
the boys who was in the store gave me the laugh. This riled me a
little and I said to my friend who thought he had the joke on me, 'I
am going to sell that old duck just the same.' 'I'll bet a new hat you
don't,' said he. Something flashed across me somehow or other. I got
bold and I said, I'll just take that bet.'

"I had to wait in town anyway for several hours so that I couldn't get
out until after supper. So I went up to the hotel for dinner. That
afternoon I went back to Murphy's store, pulled out a cigar case and,
passing it over to the old gentleman, said, 'Take one, neighbor. These
are out of my private box.' It was really a good cigar and the old
man, giving me a little blarney, said, 'Surre, that cigare is a
birrd.' 'I'm glad you like it,' said I. 'I have those sent me from
Chicago, a fresh box every week. If you like it so well, here, take a
couple more. I have lots of them in my grip.' I laid a couple on the
old man's desk and he didn't object.

"'Now, Mr. Murphy,' said I, 'I know you don't wish to look at any of
my goods whatsoever, and I'm not the man to ask you the second time.
In fact, I am really glad you don't wish to buy some goods from me
because it gives me a chance to run through my samples. I've been
aiming to do some work on them for several days but really haven't had
the time--I've been so busy. But, as there's nobody else here in the
town that I care to see (a mild dose of "smoosh," given at the right
time and in the right way, never does any harm, you know) and as
there's no sample room here I'm sure you'll allow me to have my trunk
thrown in your store where I shall not be in your way. I wish to rid
myself of "outs."

"'Surre, me b'y; surre me b'y,' said the old man. 'Toike all the room
you will but ye know Oime not for lookin' at your goods. Oime waitin'
fer a friend, ye know.'

"'Very well, thank you; I promise you faithfully, Mr. Murphy, that
I'll not show you any goods. I merely wish to get rid of my "tear-
outs" and straighten up my line.'

"When the drayman dumped my trunk into the back end of the store, I
opened up on the counter and tore off several 'outs.' I let my samples
lie there and went up the street, but came back several times and
peeped into the front window to see what the old man was doing. I did
this three or four times and finally I saw him and one of the clerks
back where my samples were, fingering them over.

"Then I went around to the back door, which was near where my samples
were, marched right in and caught the old man in the act."

"Sell him?" spoke up one of the boys.

"Sure," said the wall paper man, "and I made the man who had lost the
hat come down and buy one for me from the old Irishman."

"Well, that was a clever sale," said the hat man, "but you have, you
know, as much trouble sometimes holding an old customer in line as you
do in selling a new one. For my own part, whenever a customer gets
clear off the hook, I let him swim. You have a great deal better luck
casting your fly for new fish than you do in throwing your bait for
one that has got away from you. My rule is, when a man is gone--let
him go. But, as long as I have him on the hook, I am going to play

"When I was down in New Orleans a few seasons ago, one of my old
customers said, 'Look here, I don't see any use of buying goods from
you. I can buy them right home just as cheaply as you sell them to me,
and save the freight. This freight item amounts to a good deal in the
course of a year. See, here is a stiff hat that I buy for twenty-four
dollars a dozen that is just as good as the one that you are selling
me for the same money. Look at it.' He passed it over to me. I rubbed
my hand over the crown and quickly I rapped the derby over my fist
knocking the crown clean off it. I threw the rim onto the floor and
didn't say a word. This play cost me a new hat but it was the best way
I could answer my customer's argument. After that, my customer was as
gentle as a dove. He afterwards admitted that he liked my goods better
but that he was trying to work me for the difference in freight."

"The clerk can always give you a good many straight tips," spoke up
one of the boys.

"Yes, and you bet your life he does his best to queer you once in a
while, too!" said the clothing man. "I know I had a tough tussle with
one not a great while ago down in Pittsburgh. Last season I placed a
small bunch of stuff in a big store there. I had been late in getting
around but the merchant liked my samples and told me that if the goods
delivered turned out all right he would give me good business this

"Now, my house delivers right up to sample. A great many houses do
not, and so merchants go not on the samples they look at but according
to the goods delivered to them. It is the house that _delivers_
good merchandise that holds its business, not the one that shows
bright samples on the road and ships poor stuff.

"I went up to my man's store--this was just a few weeks ago--and asked
him to come over with me.

"'My head clothing man,' said my customer, 'does not like your stuff.
I might as well be frank with you about it.' 'What objection has he to
it?' said I. 'He says they don't fit. He says the trimmings and
everything are all right and I wish they did fit because your prices
look cheap to me.' 'Well, let's go over and see about that,' said I.
'There's no one in the world more willing and anxious to make things
right than I am if there is anything wrong.' I didn't know just what I
had to go up against. The man on the road gets all the kicks.

"Once in a while there is a clerk who puts out his hand like the boy
who waits on you at table and if pretty good coin is not dropped in it
or some favor shown him, he will have it in for you.

"My customer and I walked over to where the clerk was and I came right
out, and said, 'Johnny, what's the matter with this clothing you've
received from me? Mr. Green (the merchant) here tells me you say it
doesn't fit. Let's see about that.'

"The clerk was slim and stoop-shouldered. The tailor to his royal
highness could not have made a coat hang right on him.

"'Now, you are kicking so much, Johnnie, on my clothing, you go here
in this store and pick out some coats your size from other people and
let's see how they fit. Let's put this thing to a fair test.'

"'That's square,' said Green. 'If a thing is so, I want to know it; if
it isn't, I want to know it.'

"I slipped onto Johnnie three or four of my competitor's coats that he
brought and they hung upon him about as well as they would on a scare-

"'Now, Johnnie, you are a good boy,' said I, 'but you've been inside
so long that the Lord, kind as He is, hasn't built you just right. You
are not the man who is to wear this clothing that comes into this
store. It is the other fellow. My house does not make clothing for
people who are not built right. We take the perfect man as our pattern
and build to suit him. There are so many more people in the world who
are strong and robust and well proportioned than there are those who
are not, that it is a great deal better to make clothing for the
properly built man than for the invalid. Now, I just want to show you
how this clothing does fit. You take any coat that you wish. Bring me
half a dozen of them if you will--one from every line that you bought
from me, if you wish. I wear a 38. Bring my size and let's see how
they look. If they are not all right, I am the man who, most of all,
wishes to know it. I can't afford to go around the country showing
good samples and selling poor stuff. If my stuff isn't right, I am
going to change houses but I want to tell you that you're the first
man on this whole trip that has made a single complaint. Those who
bought small bills from me last season are buying good bills from me
this time. They have said that my goods give splendid satisfaction.
Now, you just simply go, Johnnie, and get me ten coats. I sold you ten
numbers--I remember exactly--l20 suits--one from every line that you
bought, and I want to show you that there isn't a bad fitter in the
whole lot.'

"'Yes, do that, Johnnie,' said the merchant. 'His stuff looked all
right to me when I bought it. I, myself, have not had time to pay much
attention to it and I will have to take your word for these things,
but, now that the question is up, we'll see about it.'

"The clerk started to dig out my size but he couldn't find a 38 in but
three lots to save his life. I put these on and they fit to a 'T'. I
looked in the mirror myself and could see that the fit was perfect.

[Illustration: "Shure, that cigare is a birrd"]

"'Now, look here, Brother Green,' said I, 'what are you in business
for? You are in business to buy the best stuff that you can for your
money. Now, you remember you thought when you bought my goods that
they were from one to two dollars a suit cheaper and just as good as
anything you had seen. Now, if you can buy something from me just as
good as another man can give you, and buy it cheaper, you are going to
do it, aren't you?'

"'Why, to be sure, Jim,' said Green, warming up.

"'Now, look here, it isn't the opinion of your clerk or your own
opinion even that you care a rap for. The opinion that is worth
something is that of the man who buys his goods from you. Now, you see
very plainly that my stuff is good. Thirty-eight is a size of which
you bought many and you haven't that size left in but three lines out
of ten. Here you see very plainly that my goods have moved faster than
any other clothing you have bought this season; and, as far as the fit
is concerned, you see full well, that other stuff didn't fit Johnnie
because he isn't built right. You did see--and you do see--I have one
of them on right now--that my clothing fits a well-built man.'

"I saw that I had the old man on my side and I knew that Johnnie had
dropped several points in his estimation. The truth of the matter was
the clerk was knocking on me in favor of one of his old friends. Of
course I wouldn't come right out and say this but the old man himself
grew wise on this point because that afternoon he came down by himself
and bought from me a good, fat bill. The clerk simply killed himself
by not being fair with me. No clerk who expects promotion can afford
to play favorites."

"It's all right when you can get over the clerk's head and to the
merchant himself," chimed in the Boys' & Children's Clothing man,
"when there is any graft going around, but it is a hard game to play
when you must deal with a buyer who is the supreme judge. I once had
an experience with a buyer down in California. I went into one of the
big stores down there and jollied around with the buyer in my
department. He said he would come over and look at my line. He took
the hook so quickly that I ought to have been on to him to start with,
but I didn't. He came over to my sample room in the evening. Now that,
you know, isn't a very good time to buy clothing. Nothing is as good
as daylight for that. He didn't question my price or anything of that
sort. He would look at a few things and then stop and talk horse with
me for awhile. I don't like to do business with that kind of a fellow.
When I do business, I like to do business; when I talk horse I like to
talk horse; and I want a man with me in the sample room who is
interested in what he is doing. It is the busy man, anyway, that makes
you a good customer--not the one with whom business is merely a side

"After monkeying around a couple of hours, I managed to get laid out a
pretty fair line of stuff. 'Now,' said the buyer, 'to-night I can only
make up a list of what's here. These things suit me pretty well, and
in the morning I can submit it to the old man for his O.K.'

"Well, that looked easy to me so we wrote down the order, and when we
got through, that fellow was bold enough to come right out and say,
'Now, look here, you're making a pretty good commission on this stuff
--here's a good bill, and I can throw it to you if I wish, or I can
kill it if I like. I'm not getting any too much over where I am, so
don't you think your house can dig up about twenty for me on this
bill, and I'll see that it sticks?'"

"Did you dig?" said one of the boys.

"Dig? You bet your life not. This funny business, I won't do. It may
work for one bill but it won't last long because it is only a matter
of time before the buyer who will be bribed will be jumped and lose
his job. I simply told the fellow that I didn't do that sort of
business; that unless he wished to do business with me strictly on the
square, I wouldn't do business with him at all."

"Well, what did he say to this?" said I.

"Oh, he said to me, 'I'm just joshing with you and I really wanted to
see if I couldn't get you down a little and make that much more for
the house. I like to do business myself with any one who is on the
square.'" "The order stuck then?" asked the wall paper man.

"No, it didn't. That's the worst of it. A few days after I reached
home in came a cancellation from the head of the house. At that time,
I didn't understand it. I supposed that the head of the house himself
had really canceled the order, so the next time I went to that town, I
waltzed straight up to the office and asked to see the head of the
establishment. I asked him why he had canceled my order and he told me
that his buyer really had all of that in charge and that he only
followed out his recommendations; that the buyer had told him to
cancel that bill and he had done so.

"I saw through the whole scheme. There was just one thing for me to
do. I simply came right square out and told the old man that his buyer
had wanted to get $20.00 from me to make the bill stick; and I bet him
a hundred that the clerk had canceled my order so that he could get a
rake-off from somebody else.

"The old man sent for the buyer and told him to get his pay and leave.
He thanked me for putting him wise and from that time on, he or some
other member of the firm always goes to the sample room."

Now, it must not be thought that every sale that is made must be put
through by some bright turn. These stories I have told about getting
the merchant's attention are the extreme cases. The general on the
field of battle ofttimes must order a flank movement, or a spirited
cavalry dash; but he wins his battle by following a well-thought-out
plan. So with the salesman. He must rely, in the main, upon good,
quiet, steady, well-planned work. Some merchants compel a man to use
extraordinary means to catch them at the start. And the all-around
salesman will be able to meet such an emergency right at the moment,
and in an original way that will win.



Is not the salesman on the road who sells goods to one customer at one
price and to another at another price, a thief? Is not the house which
allows its salesman to do this an accomplice to the crime of theft?

This is a hot shot, I know; but, if you are a salesman, ask yourself
if it is right to get the marked price of an article from a friend who
gives you his confidence, and then sell the same thing for a lower
price to another man who is suspicious and beats you down. Ask
yourself, if you have men on the road, whether or not it is right for
you to allow your salesman to do these things, and then answer "Yes"
or "No." You will all answer "No, but we can't help ourselves."

You can. A friend of mine, who travels for a large house, way down
East, that employs one hundred road salesmen, told me recently of an
experience directly in point. I will let him tell the story to you:

"It is the custom in our house, you know, for all of the boys to meet
together twice each year when we come in after our samples. After we
get our samples marked and packed, and are ready for the road, the
'old gentleman' in the house gives us all a banquet. He sits at the
head of the table and is toastmaster.

"He is wise in bringing the boys together in this way because he knows
that the boys on the road know how things ought to be and that they
can give him a great many pointers. He has a stenographer present who
takes down every word that is said during the evening. The reports of
these semi-annual meetings are the law books of this house.

"At our last meeting the 'old gentleman' when he first arose to speak,
said: 'Look here, boys'--he knew how to take us all--'there is one
thing about our system of business that I do not like; it is this
cutting of prices. Now, what I would like to do this very season--and
I have thought of it since you have all packed up your trunks--is to
have all samples marked in plain figures and for no man to deviate in
any way from the prices. Of course this is rather a bold thing to do
in that we have done business in the old way of marking goods in
characters for many years, so I wish to hear from you all and see what
you think about it. I shall wish as many of you as will to state in
words just what you think on this subject, one by one; but first of
all, I wish that every man who favors marking samples in plain figures
and not varying from the price would stand up, and that those who
think the other way would keep their seats.'

"Well, sir, do you know I was the only man out of that whole hundred
to stand up. The others sat there. After standing for a moment I sat
down, and the 'old gentleman' arose again.

"'Well, the vote is so near unanimous,' said the 'old gentleman,'
"that it seems hardly necessary for us to discuss the matter. Yet it
is possible that one man may be right and ninety-nine may be wrong, so
let us hear from one of our salesmen who differs from his ninety-nine

"With this I stood up, and I made a speech something like this: 'Mr.
President, and Fellow Salesmen: I am very glad that our worthy
President has given me the right to speak. He has said that one man in
a hundred _may be_ right even though ninety-nine do not believe
as he does. There is no _may be_ about it. I do not think that I
am right. I KNOW IT. I speak from experience. When I first started on
the road one of my old friends in the house--I was just a stock boy,
you know, going out for the first time, not knowing whether I would
succeed or fail--this old friend gave me this advice: Said he, "Billy,
it is better for you to be abused for selling goods cheaply than to be
fired for not selling them at all." With this advice before me from an
old salesman in the house, and knowing that all of the salesmen nearly
in greater or less degree slaughtered the price of goods, I went out
on the road. The first thing I began to do was to cut, cut, cut.
Letters came to me from the house to quit it, but I kept on cutting,
cutting, cutting. I knew that the other boys in the house did it, and
I did not see any reason why I should not. It was my habit to do this:
If a man was hard to move in any way and was mean to me I came at him
with prices. If he treated me gentlemanly and gave me his confidence,
I robbed him--that is, I got the full marked price, while the other
fellow bought goods cheaper than this man. Once I got caught up with.
Two of my customers met in market and, as merchants usually do when
they meet in market, they began to discuss the lines of goods which
they carried. They found that they both carried my line, and my good
friend learned that the other fellow bought certain lines cheaper than
he did.

"'The next time I went around to his town I wore the same old good
smile and everything of that kind but I soon saw that he did not take
to me as kindly as before. When I asked him to come over to my sample
room, he said to me, "No, I will not go over--I shall not buy any more
goods from you."

"'"Why, what is the matter?" I asked.

"'"Oh, never mind, I just don't care to handle your line," said he.

"'"Why, aren't the goods all right?" I asked.

"'"Yes, the goods are all right, and since you have pressed the
question I wish to tell you that the reason why I don't care to buy
any more goods from you is that you have sold goods to other people
for less money than you have to me."

"'I could not deny it, and even when I offered to sell him goods at
the same price that I had other people he said to me, "No, sir; you
can't sell me goods at any price. I don't care to deal with a man who
does business that way."

"'This set me to thinking, and I thought about it so hard that I began
to see that I was not doing right and, furthermore, that I was not
doing what would help me to build up a permanent business. I saw that
I was trying to build business by making many merchants think that I
was a cut-throat rather than a man in whom they could place
confidence. So I believe in marking goods in plain figures and selling
to every one for the same price. And, gentlemen, I even changed
territories so I could go into a new one and build a business on the
square. Whether or not I have prospered, you all know.'

"The old gentleman arose and said: 'Now, what our good friend has just
said, strikes me just right, and if I were a salesman I would follow
out his ideas; he has convinced me. But what do you other gentlemen
think of this? I would like to hear from you.'

"One by one the boys got up, not all of them, but many. Boiled down,
the reasons which they gave for not wishing to mark their goods in
plain figures, were these:

"First. That ofttimes one of their customer's patrons might wish to
make a special order and if he saw the samples marked in plain figures
he would find out just how much profit was being made.

"Second. That often they showed goods in a man's store and people who
were standing around would see what the wholesale price was.

"Third. That most merchants like to feel that they are buying goods
cheaper than any one else.

"After all of these arguments were made, the old gentleman asked me to
reply to them. I did so in these words:

"'Now, as to your first argument about special orders. The man on the
road should not try or wish to sell one hat or one pair of shoes or
one suit of clothes to some special customer who will take half an
hour to make his selection. What he should do is to sell a merchant a
good bill--and he can sell a whole bill of goods about as quickly as
he can sell one special item. If marking my goods in plain figures
would do nothing more than keep away from my sample room these special
order fiends which hound every merchant in the country, that alone
would lead me to do it.'

"When I said this, several of the boys clapped their hands, and I saw
that things were coming my way.

"'Now, as to your second argument regarding showing goods in a
merchant's store. If there is anything I detest it is to do this,
because when you go to show a man your goods you should have his
complete attention. This you cannot get when there are customers
present or a lot of loafers around the store cutting into what you are
doing. I would rather open up in the office of a burning livery stable
than have a whole day in a store. What you want to do, gentlemen,'
said I, 'is this: Not to carry your samples to your customer's store,
but to take your customer to your store--your sample room. There you
get his complete attention, without which no one can make a successful

"Still more of the boys applauded me and I continued:

"'Now, gentlemen, as to the last point. Several of you have said that
some merchants wish to think that they buy from you cheaper than other
merchants in neighboring towns. They do not wish to think anything of
the kind. What they do wish to think is that they are buying them
_as cheaply_ as their neighbors do.' Still more of the boys applauded
what I said, and one fellow who traveled down in Missouri yelled like
a coon hunter.

"'The basis of love, gentlemen,' I persisted, 'is respect. Some of you
have had the good sense to marry. To each of these I say: Before the
girl who is now your wife found that she loved you, she discovered
that you had her respect and admiration.

"'And there is not a single one of you who has a customer that does
not have at least a little confidence in you. Confidence is the basis
of business.

"'Now, I want to tell you another thing'--I was getting warm then--'It
is impossible to tell a lie so that the man to whom you tell it will
believe it is the truth. If a man has a lie in his heart, that lie
will be felt and spotted by the men he talks to while he affirms with
his lips that he speaks the truth. If a merchant asks you if you are
selling him goods as cheaply as you sell them to other people, and you
tell him "Yes" and you are really _not_ doing so, he will know that
you are telling him a lie, and you will lose his confidence and
you will lose his business. The one thing to do then, is to treat
everybody alike--to sell them all at the same price.

"Now, it is possible for a man to mark his samples in characters and
to do a one-price business, but you can bet your life that the
stranger will be leery of you if your goods are marked in characters.
But if you mark your goods in plain figures and you say to a merchant
when you begin to show them to him that your goods are marked in plain
figures and that you do not vary from the price, he will believe you
and will not try to beat you down. Then you will gain his confidence
and he will have more confidence in you, the plain-figure man, than he
will in the character-price man from whom he might have been buying
for years.

"'Judgment is scarcely a factor in business; even many good merchants
are not judges of goods. They are all free to confess this. The best
merchant is the best judge of men. These merchants, therefore, must
and do depend upon the salesmen from whom they buy their goods. Here,
again, is where confidence comes in. This whole thing is confidence, I
say. Many a merchant passes up lines of goods that he thinks are
better than those he is handling--passes them up because he does not
_know_ their superiority and because he does not trust the man who
tries to sell them to him.

"'Merchants themselves--many of them--give baits to their customers.
They know this game full well, and they do not care for baits
themselves. I remember that I once sold a bill of goods in this way: I
had sold this customer regularly for five or six years every season.
This time he told me that he had bought. He said to me: "The other
fellow gave me his price one morning and then he came over to see me
in the afternoon and dropped on the price and I bought the goods then
because I knew I had him at the bottom."

"'Now, do you suppose I went to making cuts to get even with that
other fellow? Not a bit of it. I first showed my old customer that he
did not know the values of goods. Then I told him: "Now, you may buy
my goods if you like; but you will buy them no cheaper than I have
been selling them to you for the last five or six years. Do you
suppose that I would come around here to-day and make an open
confession that I have been robbing you for all of these years? No,
sir; I try to see that my goods are marked right in the beginning and
then I treat everybody alike." Although he had turned me down, this
man bought my goods and countermanded the order of the other fellow.

"'And, boys--you who have been so dishonest so long'--said I, 'don't
know how happy it makes a fellow feel to know that what he is doing is
right, and you cannot beat the right. It is good enough. When you know
in your own heart that you are honorable in your dealings with your
merchant friends, you can walk right square up to them and look them
straight in the eye and make them feel that you are treating them
right. They will then give you their confidence, and confidence begets
business. Therefore, gentlemen, I don't care what any of you are going
to do. I, myself, shall mark my goods in plain figures and sell them
at the same price to everyone, and I only wish that I worked for a
firm that would compel all their salesmen to be honest.'

"With this, the old man arose. I saw that I had him won over, but I
heard one of the boys who sat near me whisper, 'Now, watch the old man
give it to him.' But he did not. Instead, he said to me: 'This is
surely a case where, although there were ninety-nine against him, the
one is right. I hereby issue an order to every salesman to mark his
goods in plain figures and to sell his goods at the marked price. I
wish you, furthermore, to do another thing. On every sample on which I
told you you might make a cut, _if necessary_, I wish you would make
that cut on the start. I have always wished to do business as our
one-priced friend has suggested but I have never been strong enough to
do so. I had always thought myself honest, believing that business
expediency made it necessary to give a few people the inside over
others; but I am going to make a frank confession to you--I can say
that I have not been honest. "'I feel like a certain clothing
manufacturer felt for a long time. I was talking with him at luncheon
the other day; he is a man who marks his goods in plain figures. If
the salesman, by mistake, sold a ten dollar suit for eleven dollars,
the goods when shipped out are billed at ten dollars. He is the one,
gentlemen, who put this plain-figure idea into my head. One of his
salesmen, as we all sat together at the table, asked him: "Mr. Blank,
how many years have you been doing the one-price, plain-figure

"'"A little over four years," said he.

"'"And how old are you?" the salesman asked.

"'"Fifty-five," was the answer.

"'"In other words," said he, "you have been a thief for over half a

"'"Yes; you're right," said the clothing manufacturer--and this was
the only time I ever heard him agree with anybody in my life!

"'His business philosophy was quaintly summed up in the one word
PERVERSE. "Give a man what he wants," he said, "and he doesn't want
it." "When you find other people going in one direction, go in the
other, and you will go in the right one." He saw nearly every one else
in the clothing business marking their goods in characters, and, true
to his philosophy--"Perverse"--marked his goods in plain figures, and
he is succeeding. Now, gentlemen, I am going to do the same thing.

"'And, another thing--I am not going to mark just part of them in
plain figures. Do you know, I called on a wholesale dry goods man the
other day--the President of the concern. He told me that he marked a
part of their manufactured goods in plain figures and the rest in
characters. I said to him, "You confess that you are only partly
honest; in being only half honest you are dishonest." So, gentlemen, I
am going to mark our goods in plain figures, and I want you to sell
them to everybody at the same price; if you do not, I will not ship

"'Now, I thought I was through, but one more idea has occurred to me.
By selling our goods at strictly one price I can figure exactly how
much money I am making on a given volume of business. Before, this
matter of "cuts" made it a varying, uncertain amount; in future there
will be certainty as to the amount of profits. And another thing, so
sure as I live, if all of you go out and make the same increase that
the one who stood out against all of us has made, our business will
thrive so that we can afford to sell goods cheaper still. Until to-
night I never knew why it was that he took hold of what seemed to me a
big business in his predecessor's territory and doubled it the second
year. His success was the triumph of common honesty, and we all shall
try his plan, for honesty is right, and nothing beats the right.'

"When the vote was taken the second time, every man at the table stood



"Do I like cancellations? Well, I guess not!" said a furnishing goods
friend, straightening up a little and lighting his cigar as a group of
us sat around the radiator after supper one night in the Hoffman
House. "I'll tell you, boys, I'd rather keep company with a hobo, than
with a merchant who will place an order and then cancel it without
just cause. I can stand it all right if I call on a man for a quarter
of a century and don't sell him a sou, but when I once make a sale, I
want it to stick. This selling business isn't such a snap as most of
our employers think. It takes a whole lot of hard knocking; the easy
push-over days are all over. When a man lands a good order now it
makes the blood rush all over his veins; and when an order it cut out
it is like getting separated from a wisdom tooth. Of course you can't
blame a Kansas merchant for going back on his orders in a grasshopper
year; but it is the fellow who has half a notion of canceling when he
buys and afterwards really does cancel, that I carry a club for.

"Usually a fellow who does this sort of funny work comes to grief. I
know I once had the satisfaction of playing even with a smart buyer
who canceled on me.

"I was down in California. I was put onto a fellow named Johnson up in
Humboldt County, who wanted some plunder in my line--the boys, you
know, are pretty good to each other in tipping a good chance off to
one another. I couldn't very well run up to the place--it was a two-
day town--so I wrote Johnson to meet me at 'Frisco at my expense. He
came down, bought his bill all right, and I paid him his expense.
Luckily, I put a clothing man on and we 'divied' the expense. We
treated that fellow white as chalk; we gave him a good time--took him
to the show and put before him a good spread.

"Do you know that fellow just simply worked us. He wanted to come to
'Frisco, anyhow, and just thought he'd let me foot the bill. How do I
know it? Because he wrote the house canceling the order before he
started back home. I figured up how long it would take to get a letter
to Chicago and back; and he couldn't have gone home and written the
firm so that I could get the notification as soon as I did unless he
wrote the cancellation the very night we took him to the theater. I
never had a man do me such dirt. I felt like I'd love to give him just
one more swell dinner, and use a stomach pump on him.

"But didn't I get beautifully even with Brother Johnson!

"The next season, as a drawing card, I had my packer carry on the
side, in his name, a greatly advertised line of shoes. It didn't pay a
long commission, but everybody wanted it; and it enabled me to get
people into my big towns so that I did not have to beat the brush.

"I had failed to scratch Johnson from my mailing list, so he got a
card from my packer--as well as a letter from myself--that if he would
meet him in San Francisco his expenses would be paid. He did not know
that my packer and myself were really the same man.

"Johnson jumped at the advertised shoe line like a rainbow trout at a
'royal coachman.' It's funny how some merchants get daffy over a
little printer's ink, but it does the work and the man who advertises
his goods is the boy who gets the fat envelopes. I'd rather go on the
road to-day with a line of shoes made out of soft blotting paper, if
they had good things said about them in the magazines and if flaming
posters went with them than to try to dish out oak-tanned soles with
prime calf uppers at half price and with a good line of palaver. It's
the lad who sticks type that, when you get right down to it, does the

"The letter which Johnson wrote in reply to the card of my packer went
something like this: "'My dear sir: In regard to your favor of the 23d
inst., I beg to say that I could use about $2000 worth of your line if
you could come up here, providing that I would be the only one that
you would sell your line to in my town.

"'Hoping to hear from you soon in regard to this matter, I remain,
very truly, -------- Johnson.'

"'P.S. If you can't possibly come up, I'll come down.'

"What did I do? Well, I thought the matter over and decided that
business was business and, there being no other chance in his town, I
would let him come and try to play even on the old score. I wired him
to come down, and I thought, as I had him on the run, I'd better put
on a pusher. My message read: 'Come down but you must be here to-

"Just after my telegram was off--I told the girl to rush it--I called
at the office for my mail and, bless me! I had a letter from another
man in the same town.

"Now, say what you will, boys, a man's letter reveals his character.
If a man has mean blood in his veins he will spread some of it on the
paper when he writes to you. I've seen the pugnacious wrinkles of a
bull pup's face many a time wiggling between the lines of a letter.
And if there's sunshine in a man's heart that also will brighten up
the sheet he writes on.

"The other man in the town wrote about like this:

"'Your postal received and I must say I regret exceedingly that I have
just sent in a mail order for your goods. I wish I had known that you
were coming, for I always save my orders for the boys on the road when
I can. Now, the next time you come to 'Frisco, let me know a few days
ahead and I will run down to meet you. I want your goods. My business
in your line is steadily increasing. When I started in I just kept
them for a side line, but your goods give first class satisfaction,
and in the near future I shall handle nothing else. It will take a
little time to clean out the other makes, but when I do--by next
season--I shall have a nice order for you. I hope to hear from you
before you get to the next coast--say a month before. Truly yours,

"They say a 'bird in the hand's worth two in the bush,' but that
depends upon the kind of a bird you've got hold of. I'll let go of a
tough old owl every time to take a chance at catching a spring
chicken. Without a second thought, I decided that I'd risk it on the
man who wrote me such a gentlemanly letter rather than deal with the
fellow who had canceled on me. Furthermore, I had half an idea that
Johnson was making me fair promises only to get the line and cut the
other fellow's throat and that maybe he would cancel again. So I
immediately sent Johnson a second telegram:

"'Cannot place the line with you. Do not come down.'

"He was anxious for the line and he wired back:

"'Write particulars why you cannot sell me your shoes.'

"Well, wasn't this a chance? My clothing friend was with me again. I
told him the story. 'Soak him good and wet!' said he. Together we
wrote the following letter, and, you bet your sweet life, I mailed it,
signing my packer's name:

"'Sir: You wire me to write you "particulars why" I cannot sell you my
line of shoes. Two of my friends at present in the hotel inform me
that six months ago you met them here at their expense, were royally
entertained by them and that after buying bills of them you almost
immediately cancelled your orders, and that you have never offered to
return to them the $25.00 they spent for your traveling expenses.
These gentlemen are reputable; and, to answer your question
specifically and plainly, I do not care to place my line with you
because in you I have no confidence, sir.'"

"That was getting even with a vengeance," spoke up the furnishing
goods man. "In this canceling business, though, sometimes the merchant
has just cause for it. I know I once had a case where my customer did
exactly the right thing by canceling his order.

"Along the last part of October, I sold him a of ties--this was down
in Mississippi. I sent in a little express order for immediate
shipment, and for December first a freight shipment which my man
wished for the Christmas trade. I also took his spring order to be
sent out February first.

"Now, my man's credit was good. For several seasons he had been
discounting his bills. He had the personal acquaintance of our credit
man and had made a good impression on him. I always like to have my
customers acquainted with our credit man. It's a good thing always for
the merchant to do and it's also a good thing for the house to know
their trade personally. Makes the man out in the country feel that
he's not doing business with strangers.

"There was no reason, then, why there should have been any question in
the credit department about making the shipment. The little express
order went out all right but, by mistake, the credit man placed the
February first shipment and the December first order away in the
February first shipment file. This was a clear mistake--no excuse for
it. Business men should not make mistakes.

"The first I heard about the matter was about New Year. I was struck
dumb when I received notice from the Credit Department that my man had
canceled his entire order. The credit man told me in the letter which
he sent along with the cancellation notice that he had simply made a
mistake in filing the December first order away with the February
first shipment, and confessed that he had made a mistake and begged my

"He was a gentleman with three times as much work on his hands as the
firm had the right to expect from him for the money they paid him, so,
although I was much put out because of the cancellation, I really did
not have any resentment toward the credit man. If things move along
smoothly in a wholesale house, the man in the office and the salesman
on the road must pull in double harness. I couldn't quite agree with
my friend in the office, though, when he said that my customer, when
he failed to receive an invoice soon after the first of December,
should have written in and said so. That wasn't the customer's
business. It was the business of the house, if they were unable to
make the shipment December 1st, to write the man and tell him so.

"Well, there I was! A good day's work had gone to the bad. My order--
and it was a good healthy one, too--was canceled and perhaps all
future business with a good friend and solid customer was at an end.

"The house had written my friend--his name was Morris--asking him to
reinstate the order; but that was like putting bait before a fish at
spawning time. He wouldn't take the hook. I knew if there was any
reinstating to be had, I must get it.

"Now, Morris was a bully good friend of mine. I really liked him very
much, and he liked me. I remember well the first time that I ever
struck him. Really, I went around to see him just for a personal call.
'Look here, old fellow,' I said, 'I haven't come around to do any
business with you; but one of my old friends, Jack Persey, has told me
what a good fellow you are and I've just dropped in to say hello.
Come, let's have a cigar.'

"After we'd lighted our cigars and talked a little, I said, 'Well, I'm
sorry to get off in such a rush but I must quit you. I must be packing
up. My train leaves in about an hour and a half. Now, really Morris
(he was such a whole-souled fellow that I found myself, without any
undue familiarity, calling him by his first name, after a very few
minutes), I don't want to do any business with you. I don't wish to
impose my acquaintance on you, but come on over to my sample room and
keep me company while I'm packing.'

"I really didn't intend to do any business with him. Some of the very
best friends we all have on the road, anyhow, are those to whom we
never sell a sou. Morris saw very plainly that I wasn't trying to work
him--you can always pick out, anyway, the ring of truth in words you
hear. I started to pack up without showing an item or even talking
business. My line was displayed, however, and it was really a bird.
Morris himself picked up a few samples and threw them down on the

"'Say, dos are pretty ennyvay. Sent me a dotzen of each von of dese in
the color dey are dere, ant also in black. I vill just gif you a
leetle gomplimentary orter on account of Chack. There is no reeson
anyvay vy I shouldn't do beesness mit you. You're de first man on de
rote dot efer struck me and didn't ask me to buy goots. I don't like
the fellow, anyvay, dot I'm buying ties from and his house is not'ing
to me. I vill gif you a goot orter next season.' And, sure enough,
Morris did give me a good order next season, and for several seasons
after that.

"So you can see how I was put out when I got a letter telling me that
Morris had canceled the order. I really cared less about the amount of
the order than I did about losing his friendship. So I sat down and
dictated a letter to him that ran something like this:

"'Dear Morris:

    "'"The wordly hope men set their hearts upon
     Turns ashes--or it prospers--and anon,
     Like snow upon the desert's dusty face,
     Lighting a little hour or two, is gone."

"'Our business relationship, Morris, has always been so pleasant that
many a time I've hoped it would last always. I cannot forget the kind-
hearted and friendly way in which you gave me your first order. I had
hoped that the firm I was with would give you the good treatment which
your friendship for me deserved; but here they are making a mistake
with the very man who, last of all, I would have them offend.

"'Now, Morris, I want you to feel that this is not my fault. I am sure
it is not yours. It can be nobody's fault but that of the house. They,
like myself, are also really very sorry for this mistake.

"'I enclose you the letter which I received from them in regard to
this. Can you not see that they regret this sincerely? Can you not
even hear the wail that our office man must have uttered when he
dictated the letter? Now, Morris, I really know that my firm holds you
in high esteem--and why should they not? You have always patronized
them liberally. You have always paid your bills and you have never
made yourself ugly toward them in any way.

"'As I say, there is no excuse for this mistake but, if you are
willing to pass that all up, Morris, I am sure you would make our
credit man, who has made this error, very happy indeed if you would
merely wire the house, "Ship my goods as originally ordered."

"'And, after all, Morris, think this thing over and maybe you will
conclude that "'Tis better far to bear the ills we have than fly to
others that we know not of."

    "'"Can't be always sunny
     Dat's de lesson plain;
     For ever' rose, my honey,
     Am sweeter fer de rain."
                                        "'Your friend,

"A good deal of poetry for a business letter," spoke up one of the
boys. This pricked the necktie man, who flashed back, "Yes, but if
there were more poetry in business, it would be lots more pleasant
than it is."

"Well, how did it come out?" I asked.

"It so happened that I had to pass through Morris' town about ten days
afterwards. I didn't care anything about reinstating the order for the
amount of it, but I really did wish to go in and see my old friend and
at least square myself. So I dropped off one day between trains at
Morris' town, and went up to see him.

"'Hello,' said he, 'How are you, old man? I'm glad to see you. Say,
but dot vas a tandy letter. I've ortered a seventy-five-cent vrame for

"'Well, Morris,' said I, 'you know I'm really very glad that a little
difficulty of this kind has come up between us as I like you to know
just where I stand. Now, I haven't come here to do anything but just
see you. Cut the order clear out--I wish you would. It would teach the
house a lesson and make them more careful hereafter. Come on down with
me now. It's about supper time and we're going to have a little feed.'

"I really meant every word I said. After we had finished a fried
chicken or two, we started back to Morris' store.

"'Say,' said he, 'Haf you got the copy of dot orter I gafe you?'

"I said, 'Why no, Morris, I haven't a copy of it. You have one. Don't
you remember that I gave you one?'

"'Yes, but ven I didn't get my goots on time--I kapt vaiting, und
vaiting, und vaiting, und still dey ditn't com, I took dot copy and I
vas so mad dot I tore it op and trew id in der stofe.'

"'Well, if you wish to look over the copy, Morris, I can easily run
down to the depot and tear my tissue paper one out of my order book.'

"'Vell, you go down und get it,' said Morris. 'Dere's some off the
Gristmas goots it is too late for me to use, but we'll fix op de
Spring shipment som vay.'

"When Morris and I looked over my copy, he cut out a few items of the
December 1st shipment but added to the February 1st order a great deal
more than he canceled from the other one.

"'Say,' said Morris, 'do you know vy I reinsdadet dot orter. It vas
dot letter you sent me.'

"'Well, I thank you very much,' said I.

"'You know, I don't care so much aboud dose "vorldly hopes" and dot
"sonshine," but vat dit strike me vas vere you saidt: "It's better
fair to bear de ilts ve half don vly to odders dot we know not of."
Dot means, Vat's de use of chanching 'ouses.'"

"You can handle some men like that," said a hat man friend who sat
with us, but I struck one old bluffer out in South Dakota once that
wouldn't stand for any smoothing over. He was the most disagreeable
white man to do business with I ever saw. He was all right to talk
fishing and politics with, and was a good entertainer. He always
treated me decently in that way but when it got down to business he
was the meanest son of a gun on earth. A fishing trip for half an hour
or the political situation during luncheon is a pretty good thing to
talk over, but when it comes to interfering with business, I think it
is about time to cut it out.

"My house had been selling this man for several years. He handled a
whole lot of goods but it worried the life out of me to get his bill.

"Last time I did business with him he had monkeyed with me all day
long, and I had struck him as many as four times to go over to my
sample room. If he had made a positive engagement and said that he
would see me at twelve o'clock that night, it would have been all
right; but he would turn away with a grunt the subject of going to
look at samples, not even giving me the satisfaction of saying he
didn't want anything at all.

"I felt that I'd spent time enough in the town so, after supper, I
brought over a bunch of soft hats under my arm, and about nine o'clock
he looked at them, picked out a few numbers, and said he had to go to
lodge. I boned him about straw hats--I was on my spring trip then.

"'Look at them to-morrow,' he grunted.

"I was beginning to get tired of this sort of thing so next morning
early I went around to see another man in the town. I'd made up my
mind I'd rather take less business from some one else and get it more
agreeably; but, to my surprise, I sold this other fellow $1,300, the
best order I took on that trip. And easy! I believe he was one of the
easiest men I ever did business with; and his credit was A1. He had no
objections whatever to my doing business with others in the same town,
because he wished his goods put up under his own name rather than with
our brands on them, so this really made no interference.

[Illustration: "He came in with his before-breakfast grouch."]

"I finished with him in the morning about 11:30. On going over to my
other man's store I found that he was still in bed. Pretty soon he
came in with his before-breakfast grouch. It was afternoon before I
got him over to my sample room. Meantime I had gone to sell another
man and sold him a bunch of children's and misses' goods--such stuff
as a clothing house has no use for.

"After I'd taken the dogging of the gruff old codger for a couple of
hours--he kicked on everything, the brims being a quarter of an inch
too wide or too narrow, and the crowns not shaped exactly right--I
finally closed the order and handed him his copy. As he put his hand
on the door-knob to go, he cast his eye over a pile of misses' sailors
and growled: 'Well, who bought them?'

"I told him that I'd sold a little handful of goods to a dry goods
store, knowing there would be no interference as he didn't carry that
line of goods.

"'Well, a man that sells me can't do business with no other man in
this town,' he grunted, and with this, slammed the door and left me.
He didn't know that I'd sold his competitor a $1,300 bill.

"When I was about half through packing up, the old growler's clerk,
who was a gentlemanly young fellow, came in and said to me,
hesitatingly: 'Old man, I hate to tell you, but the boss told me to
come over and say to you not to ship that bill of goods he gave you
until he ordered it. He is very unreasonable, you know, and is kicking
because you sold some stuff to the dry goods man down the street.'

"'Thank you, Gus,' said I to the clerk. I was mad as fire, but not at
him, of course. 'Now, Gus, the old man has sent me a message by you.
I'll let you take one back to him. Now, mind you, you and I are good
friends, Gus. Tell him I say he can take his business, including this
order, and go with it now and forever clean smack back to--well, you
know the rest. Then tell him, Gus, that I've sold not only this dry
goods man a bill but also his strongest competitor over $1,300 worth
of goods. Tell him, furthermore, that I personally appreciate all the
favors he has done for me in the past, in a personal way; that I have
enjoyed visiting with him; that whenever I come back to this town
again in the future, I shall come in to see him; that if I can do him
a personal favor in any way, at any time, anywhere, I shall be only
too glad to do so, but that, absolutely, our business relationship is
at an end.'

"'All right,' said Gus. 'I'll repeat to the old man every word you've
said. I'm glad you've called him down. It'll do him good.'

"And you bet your life I tore his order up without sending it in to
the house and drew a line through his name on my book, and have never
solicited his business since."

"You did him just exactly right," said the necktie man. "While I
squared myself with my friend Morris, I was once independent with a
customer who cancelled an order on me. He came in to meet me at Kansas
City. Two more of the boys were also there then. He placed orders with
all of us. His name was Stone. The truth is he came in and brought his
wife and boy with him just because he wanted to take a little flyer at
our expense. We had written him telling him that we'd pay his expenses
if he would come in. He went ahead and took a few hours of our time to
place his orders. At the time he did so I merely thought him a good
liberal buyer but, as I now look back at the way he bought, he slipped
down most too easy to stick.

"Sure enough, in three or four weeks the firm wrote me that Stone had
cancelled his order, stating that he believed he had enough goods on
hand to run him, that season, but that possibly very late he might
reinstate the order.

"The fellow was good so I thought it wouldn't do very much harm to try
to get him to take the goods. However, I employed very different
tactics from those I used with my friend Morris. I wrote him this way:

"'My dear Brother Stone: I have received a letter from the firm
stating that you have cancelled the order which you placed with me in
Kansas City. You know not how much I thank you for cancelling this
order. It gave me a great deal of pleasure to sell you this bill of
goods, and now that you have cancelled it, I want you to be sure and
make your cancellation stick because then, sooner than I had really
expected, I shall have that same old pleasure over again.

"'It isn't always profit that a man should look for in business. What
good does it do him to make a whole lot of money unless he can feel
good on the inside? The _feel_ is about all there is in life anyway.

"'Now in future, you go right on as you have in the past, buy your
goods from the other fellow. He will not charge you a great deal more
for them than I would and your loss will not be very great in that
regard; but each time that I come around be sure to take a lot of my
time and place an order with me, even if you do cancel it.

"'Don't even trouble yourself about returning the fifteen dollars
expense money that was given you, because the pleasure I had with you
was worth that much to me alone. I shall square this matter myself
with the other boys. No, I won't do that because I'm sure that they
feel in this matter just as I do.

"'With very kindest regards, and ever at your service, believe me,
 Brother Stone,
                             "'Truly yours,

"He wired the house to ship the bill and sent the message paid."

"That was what I call a grafter," said one of the boys.

"Yes, you bet your life," said the wall paper man.

"I myself once cured a man of the cancelling habit. You know there are
some merchants over the country who are afflicted with this disease.

"I had heard of a druggist out in Pennsylvania who was noted for
placing an order one morning and cancelling it that very night. He had
done a trick of this kind on me once and I'd made up my mind that I
was going to play even with him. I walked him over to my sample room
early in the morning. I had my samples all spread out so that I could
handle him quickly. There were a lot of new patterns out that season--
flaming reds, greens, cherry colors, blues, ocean greens--all sorts of
shades and designs.

"The druggist picked out a cracking good order. He took a copy of it
himself in his own book. As we were working the wind turned the sheets
of his memo. book and I saw that he had in it a copy of an order in my
line to another firm. This he had given only a few days before. Every
season this druggist would really buy one big bill of wall paper, but
this was his trick: He would look at the line of every man that came
along. Sometimes he would place six or eight orders a season. After
placing an order he would immediately cancel it. At his leisure he
would figure out which order pleased him best and reinstate that one.

"Well, sir, when I finished with him it was close onto luncheon time,
but I didn't do anything but go hungry for awhile. I took my notebook,
made out his order, as quickly as I could, wired it into the firm (it
cost me twelve dollars to do this), and told them to be absolutely
sure to put all hands to work on that order and ship it on the four
o'clock fast freight that very day. I had to be in town the next day.
Soon after breakfast I went into the druggist's store. I caught him
back at his desk. I saw him blot the ink on an envelope he had just
addressed. About this time a lady came in to get a prescription
filled. As the druggist turned his back I quickly lifted the blotter
and, seeing that the letter was addressed to my firm, let it cover the
envelope again. I knew this was a cancellation letter.

"After the lady had gone out with her medicine, I asked the druggist
to show me some hair brushes which were in the case at the other end
of the store from the desk. I made up my mind that it was going to
take me longer to buy that hairbrush than it did the old man to buy my
bill of wall paper. I was getting his time. But I didn't rub my
fingers over many bristles before up backed a dray loaded to the
guards with the goods from my firm. The drayman came in and handed the
druggist the bill of lading.

"'What's this?' said he.

"'I'm treed,' said the drayman. 'They're as heavy as lead.'

[Illustration: "I'm treed," said the drayman, "they're as heavy as

"With this the drayman rolled the cases into the druggist's store.
Well, sir, he was the cheapest looking fellow you ever saw, but he
kept the goods, all right, and this cured him of _cancelitis_."



The credit man was the subject of our talk as a crowd of us sat, one
Sunday afternoon, in the writing-room of the Palace Hotel at San
Francisco. The big green palm in the center of the room cast, from its
drooping and fronded branches, shadows upon the red rugs carpeting the
stone floor. This was a peaceful scene and wholly unfitting to the
subject of our talk.

"I would rather herd sheep in a blizzard," blurted out the clothing
man, "than make credits. Yes, I would rather brake on a night way-
freight; be a country doctor where the roads are always muddy; a dray
horse on a granite-paved street; anything for me before being a credit
man! It is the most thankless job a human being can hold. It is like
being squeezed up against the dock by a big steamship. If you ship
goods and they're not paid for, the house kicks; if you turn down
orders sent in, the traveling man raises a howl. None of it for me.
No, sir!"

"I have always been fairly lucky," spoke up the hat man. "I've never
been with but two houses in my life and I've really never had any
trouble with my credit men. They were both reasonable, broad-minded,
quick-witted, diplomatic gentlemen. If a man's credit were doubtful in
their minds, they would usually ask me about him, or even wire me,
sometimes, if an order were in a rush, to tell them what I thought of
the situation. And they would always pay attention to what I said."

"Well, you are one in a hundred," spoke out the clothing man. "You
ought to shake hands with yourself. You don't know what a hard time
I've had with the various men who've made credits on the goods I have

"The credit man, you know, usually grows up from office boy to
cashier, and from cashier to bookkeeper, from bookkeeper to assistant
credit man and then to credit man himself. Most of them have never
been away from the place they were born in, and about all they know is
what they have learned behind the bars of their office windows. You
couldn't, for all sorts of money, hire a man who has been on the road,
to be a credit man. He can get his money lots easier as a salesman; he
has a much better chance for promotion, too. Still, if the salesman
could be induced to become a credit man, he would make the best one
possible, because he would understand that the salesman himself can
get closer to his customer than any one else and can find out things
from him that his customer would not tell to any one else and, having
been on the road himself, he would know that really about the only
reliable source of information concerning a merchant is the salesman

"When a merchant has confidence enough in a man to buy goods from him
--and he will not buy goods from him unless he has that confidence--he
will tell him all about his private affairs. He will tell him how much
business he is doing, how much profit he is making, how much he owes,
what are his future prospects, and everything of that kind. The credit
man who was once a salesman would also know that these commercial
agency books--the bibles of the average credit man--don't amount to a
rap. For my own part, I wish old Satan had every commercial agency
book on earth to chuck into the furnace, when he goes below, to roast
the reporters for the agencies. A lot of them will go there because a
lot of reports are simply outright slander. Commercial agencies break
many a good merchant. The heads of the agencies aim to give faithful
reports, but they haven't the means.

"Now, just for example, let me tell you what they did to a man who did
one of my customers when he first started in business. This man had
been a clerk for several years in a clothing store over in Wyoming. He
was one of the kind that didn't spend his money feeding slot machines,
but saved up $3,500 in cold, hard cash. This was enough for him to
start a little clothing shack of his own.

"Now, Herbert was a straight, steady boy. I recommended him to my
house for credit. He didn't owe a dollar on earth. He bought about
five thousand dollars' worth of goods and was able to discount his
bills, right from the jump. Now, what do you suppose one of the
commercial agencies said about him? Mind you, he had for four or five
years run his uncle's store. The uncle was sick and left things really
in the hands of Herbert. The agency said he was worth not over five
hundred dollars and that he was no good for credit.

"I, of course, learned of this through our office and I told Herbert
all about it and insisted that he ought to get that thing straightened
out. He said, when I spoke to him of it, 'Why, I did fill out the
blanks that they sent in to me--told them the straight of it, exactly
what I had, $3,500, and they surely reported it as I gave it to them.'
'No, they haven't done any such thing, Herbert, because I looked into
the matter myself when I was last in your office.'

"Well, Herbert had no trouble in getting goods from the houses whose
salesmen he knew real well, but he had to suffer the inconvenience of
having a great many orders turned down that he placed--either that or
else he was written that he would have to pay cash in advance before
shipping. It caused him a whole lot of worry. The boy--well, he wasn't
such a boy after all, he was nearly thirty years old and strictly
capable--was worried about all this, and I saw it. I told him, 'Look
here, Herbert, you must get this thing straightened up. You write the
agencies again and tell them just how you stand and that you want them
to give you the proper sort of a report.'

"It wasn't a great while before the representative of this agency came
around. Herbert went at him hammer and tongs for not doing him
justice--then what do you think that fellow did? Nothing!

"In spite of all this Herbert paid up all his bills all right and soon
established his credit by being able to give references to first-class
firms who stated that he paid them promptly. So, he became independent
of the agencies altogether and when they asked him for any statement
after that, he told them, 'Go to ----.' Now, of course, this wasn't
the thing for him to do.

"A merchant should see that the commercial agencies give him a good
report because, if he doesn't, he is simply cutting off his nose to
spite his face. If he ever starts to open a new account with some
house, the first thing the credit man of that concern will do, when he
gets his order, will be to turn to his 'bibles' and see how the man is
rated. These commercial agencies are going to say something about a
man. That's the way they make their living. If they don't say
something good, they will say something indifferent or positively bad.
So, what's the merchant to do but truckle to them and take chances on
their telling the truth about him?"

"Yes, you're right," chimed in the drygoods man, "but even then, try
as hard as he will, the merchant can't get justice, sometimes. One of
my customers, who is one of the most systematic business men I know
of, for years and years had no report. Half the goods he bought was
turned down simply because the agent in his town for the commercial
agency was a shyster lawyer who had it in for him. And he had all he
could do to retain his credit. Just to show you how good the man was
in the opinion of those with whom he did business, let me say that
right after he had had a big fire and had suffered a big loss, one
firm wired him: 'Your credit is good with us for any amount. Buy what
you will, pay when you can.'

"Well, sir, this man was mad as fire at the agencies, and for years
and years he would have absolutely nothing to do with them, but I
finally told him: 'Look here, Dick; now this thing is all right but
there's no use fighting those fellows. Why don't you get what's coming
to you?' And I talked him into the idea of getting out after a right
rating, and told him how to go about it.

"One day, in another town where he had started a branch store, he met
one of the representatives of the agency that had done him dirt, and
said to him: 'Now, Mr. Man, I sometimes have occasion to know how
various firms that I do business with over the country stand, and if
it doesn't cost too much to have your book, I'd like to subscribe.'
'Well, that won't cost you a great deal,' said the agent. My friend
subscribed for the agency book, and in the next issue he was reported
as being worth from ten to twenty thousand dollars. Another agency
soon chimed in and had him listed as worth from five to ten thousand
and with third-grade credit. Now, one or the other of these wrong--and
the truth of the matter is that both of them had slandered him for
years; he hadn't made ten to twenty thousand dollars in ninety days.
And just to show you how much good that rating did my friend, he soon
began to receive circulars and catalogues galore from houses which,
before that time, had turned him down."

"The worst feature of turning down an order," said the drygoods man,
"is that when you have an order turned down you also have a customer
turned away. I was waiting on a man in the house. He was from out
West. He was about half through buying his bill. The account was worth
over twelve thousand a year to me. He thought so much of my firm that
he had his letters sent in my care and made our store his headquarters
while in the city. One morning when he came in to get his mail I saw
him open one of his letters and, as he read it, a peculiar expression
came over his face. When he had read his mail I asked him if he was
ready to finish up. He said to me, 'No, Harry, I want to go over and
see your credit man.'

[Illustration: What explanation have you to make of this, sir?]

"I went with him. One of the old man's sons, who had just come back
from college, had taken charge of the western credits. The old man
would have been a great deal better off if he'd pensioned the kid and
put one of the packers in the office, instead. My customer went up to
the credit _boy_ and said to him: 'Now, Mr. ----, I've just received a
letter from home stating that you've drawn on me for three hundred and
eighty-five dollars. What explanation have you to make of this, sir? I
have always, heretofore, discounted every bill that I have bought from
this establishment, and this bill for which you have drawn on me is
not yet due.'

"'I'll look the matter up,' said the young credit man. He looked over
his books a few minutes and then tried to make some sort of an
explanation in a half-haughty kind of a way. My customer interrupted
him right in the midst of his explanation and said, 'Well, you needn't
say anything more about this, sir. Just see what I owe you.'

"This was looked up and my customer right then and there wrote his
check for what he owed and said to me:

"'Old man, I'm mighty sorry to have to do this, but I cannot interpret
this gentleman's conduct (pointing to the credit man) to mean anything
but that my credit is no longer good here. I shall see if there is not
some one else in the city who will trust me as I thought that this
firm was willing to trust me. This thing hurts me!'

"I couldn't explain matters in any way, and my customer--_and my
friend!_--walked out of the store and has never been back since.
That piece of Tom foolery on the part of our snob of a credit man lost
the house and me an account worth over twelve thousand dollars a

"That fellow," broke in the clothing man, "should have got the same
dose that was once given a credit man in the house I used to work for.
He had been turning down order after order on good people, for all of
us boys. When we came home from our fall trip we were so dissatisfied
that we got together and swore that we would not sign a contract with
the house unless the credit man they had was fired. We all signed a
written agreement to this effect. Also, we agreed, upon our honor,
that if one of us was fired for taking the stand, we would all go.

"Now, you know, boys, it is the salesmen that make the house. The
house may have a line of goods that is strictly _it_, but unless
they have good salesmen on the road they might as well shut up shop. A
salesman, of course, gets along a great deal better with a good line
than he does with a poor one, but a wholesale house without a line of
first-class representatives cannot possibly succeed. And the house
knows this, you bet.

"Well, sir, I was the first salesman the old man struck to make a
contract with for the next year. I, had been doing first rate, making
a good salary and everything of that kind, and when the old man called
me into the sweat-box, he said to me:

"'Well, I suppose we haven't very much to talk over. What you have
done has been satisfactory to us, and I hope we've been satisfactory
to you. If it suits you we will just continue your old contract.'

"'There will have to be one condition to it,' said I to the old man.
'Well, what's that?' 'I simply will not work for this establishment if
the fool credit man that you have here is to continue. He has taken
hundreds of dollars out of my pocket this year by turning down orders
on good people who are worthy of credit. Now, it doesn't make any
difference as to his salary if he turns down good people; in fact, if
he is in doubt about any man at all, or even the least bit skittish,
what does he do but turn him down? This is nothing out of his jeans,
but it's taking shoes away from my babies, and I simply won't stand
for it.'

"The long and short of it was that I didn't sign with the old man that
day but he soon 'caved' after he had talked with a few more of the
boys--one of whom told him point blank that we would all quit unless
he gave the credit man his walking papers. And, you bet your life, the
credit man went and today he is where he ought to be--keeping books at
a hundred a month!"

"It is not alone against the credit man who turns down orders that I
have a grudge," said the furnishing goods man, "but also against the
fellow who monkeys with old customers. If there is anything that makes
a customer sour it is to be drawn on by a firm that he has dealt with
for a long time. Some of the merchants out in the country, you know,
get themselves into the notion of thinking that the house they deal
with really loves them. They don't know what a cold-blooded lot our
houses really are. What they're all looking for is the coin and they
don't care very much for a man when they believe he can't pay his
bills. I know I never felt cheaper in my life than I did last trip. I
went into an old customer's store and what should I see upon his
shelves but another man's goods. I felt as if somebody had hit me
between the eyes with a mallet, for he was a man I had nursed for four
or five years and brought him up to be a good customer. He had a sort
of a racket store when I started with him--groceries, tin pans, eggs,
brooms, a bucket of raw oysters, and all that sort of stuff. One day I
said to him, 'Why don't you throw out this junk and go more into the
clothing and furnishing goods business? Lots cleaner business and pays
a great deal more profit. Furthermore, this line of goods is sold on
long datings and you can stretch your capital much further than in
handling other lines.'

"Well, sir, he talked with me seriously about the matter and from that
time on he began to drop out the tin pan and grocery end of his line.
When I saw he was doing this, I asked him to let me have the hook in
the ceiling from which for so long had swung his bunch of blackening
bananas, so I could have a souvenir of his past folly! I had worked
him up until his account was strictly a good one.

"In fact, he prospered so well with this store that after a while he
had started another one. When he did this he, of course, stretched his
capital a little and depended upon his old houses to take care of him.
He had always discounted his bills in full, sometimes even
anticipating payments and making extra discounts.

"I was tickled to sell him about twice as much as usual, on one of my
trips. It was just ninety days after this when I got around again and
saw the other fellow's goods in the store. When I looked at the
strange labels I felt like some fellow had landed me one on the jaw.
You know it hurts to lose a customer, especially if he is one that you
have fed on the bottle and thinks a great deal of you personally.

"Well, when I saw the other stuff, all I could do was to march right
up and say, 'Well, Fred, the other fellow's been getting in his work,
I see. What's the matter? The sooner we get through with the
unpleasant part of it, the better.' 'Now, there isn't anything the
matter with you, old man,' said my customer. 'Come up here in the
office. I want to show you how your house treated me.'

"And there he showed me a letter he had received from the house
stating that he must pay up his old account before they would ship him
any more goods; and the old bill was one which was dated May 1st, four
months, and was not due until September 1st. They wrote him this
before the first of June, at which time he was entitled to take off
six per cent. He simply sent a check for what he owed them and, to be
sure, wrote them to cancel his order. There was a good bill and a
loyal customer gone--all on account of the credit man."

"Once in a while, though," said the shoe man, "you strike a fellow
that will take a thing of this sort good-naturedly, but they are rare.
I once had a customer down in Missouri who got a little behind with
the house. The credit man wrote him just about the same sort of a
letter that your man received, but my friend, instead of getting mad,
wrote back a letter to the house, something like this:

"'Dear House: I've been buying goods from you for a long time. I have
paid you as well as I knew how. You know I am pretty green. I started
in life pulling the cord over a mule and when I made a little money at
this I started a butcher shop. My neighbors who sold other stuff,
drygoods and things of that sort, it looked to me didn't have much
more sense than I, and they lived in nice houses and had sprinklers
and flowers in their yards. So it looked to me like that was a good
business to go into. I tried my hand at it and have got on fairly
well. Of course, I have been a little slow, you know, being fool
enough to think everybody honest and to do a credit business myself.

"'Now I really want to thank you for telling me I must pay up before I
can get any more goods. I kind of look on you people as my friends, I
have dealt with you so long, and if you are getting a little leery
about me, why I don't know what in the world the other fellows that
don't care anything about me must be beginning to think. When I got
your letter telling me to pay up before you would ship the bill I had
bought, I felt like I had run into a stone fence, but this lick over
the head has really done me a whole lot of good and I am going to go a
little more careful hereafter.

"'Just now I am not able to dig up all that I owe but here is my check
for a hundred. Now, I want to keep out of the hole after this so you
had better cut down the order I gave your man about a half. After all,
the best friend that a man has is himself, and hereafter I am going to
try a little harder to look after Number One.
                     "Yours truly,

"Another thing that makes it hard for us," said the furnishing man,
"is to have the credit man so infernally long in deciding about a
shipment, holding off and holding off, brooding and brooding, waiting
and waiting, and wondering and wondering whether they shall ship or
whether they shall not, and finally getting the notion to send the
goods just about the time a man countermands his order. A countermand,
you know, is always a pusher and I would advise any merchant who
really wants to get goods, to place an order and then immediately
countermand it. Whenever he does this the credit man will invariably
beg him to take the stuff. Oh, they're a great lot, these credit men.

"I know I once sold a man who, while he was stretching his capital to
the limit pretty far, was doing a good business and he wanted some
red, white, and blue neckties for Fourth of July trade. I had sold him
the bill in the early part of May. About the 2Oth of June, I received
a letter from the credit man asking me to write him further
information about my man. Well, I gave it to him. I sent him a
telegram that read like this: 'Ship this man today by express sure.
Heavens alive, he is good. You ought to make credits for a coffin
house for a while.'"

"The credit man is usually bullet-headed about allowances for another
thing," said the shoe man. His kind will fuss around about making
little allowances of a couple of dollars that come out of the house
and never stop to think we often spend that much on sundries twice
over every day. I had a man a great while ago to whom I had sold a
case of shoes that were not at all satisfactory. I could see that they
were not when I called upon him and I simply told him right out, 'Look
here, Mark, this stuff isn't right. Now, I wish to square it. What
will make this right?' 'Oh,' he said, 'I don't think these shoes are
worth within two dollars a dozen of what you charged me.' 'No, they're
not worth within three dollars,' said I. 'I will just give you a
credit bill for three dollars and call it square.' It was nothing more
than right because the stuff was bum.

"I came into the house soon after this and, passing the credit memo,
into the office, the credit man howled as if I were pulling his jaw
tooth. It hurt him to see that little three dollars go on the profit
and loss account. 'Well, I won't insist upon it,' said I. 'I will just
ask the man to return the goods.' 'All right,' he said.

"When I wrote out to my man, I told him the truth about the matter,--
that the house had howled a little because I had made the credit
allowance, and to just simply fire the stuff right back, but not to
forget to ask that he be credited with the amount of freight which he
had already paid on the case of shoes. It was just a small item, but
what do you think the credit man said when I showed him my customer's
letter, asking for the freight?'

"He said, 'Well, that fellow's mighty small.'"

"I have never had any of these troubles that you boys are talking
about," said the hat man.

"Lucky boy! Lucky boy!" spoke up the clothing man in his big, heavy

"Yes, you bet," chimed in the others.

"It's a strange thing to me," chimed in the clothing man, "that credit
men do not exercise more common sense. Now, there is one way, and just
one way, in which a credit department can be properly conducted. The
credit man and the man on the road must work in double harness and
pull together. The salesman should know everything that is going on
between his house and his customer. And when it comes to the scratch,
his judgment is the judgment that should prevail when any matter of
credits is to be decided upon. The salesman should have a copy of
every letter that his customer writes his house, and he should be sent
a duplicate of every line that the house writes to the customer. He
should be kept posted as to the amount of shipment the house makes,
and he should be notified whenever the customer makes a remittance.
This puts the salesman in position to know how much to sell his
customer, and also when to mark the new bill he sells for shipment. At
the time of making the sale, it is very easy for the man on the road
to say to his customer, 'Now look here, friend, as you haven't been
quite able to meet your past obligations promptly, suppose that we
stand off this shipment for a little while and give you a chance to
get out of the hole. I don't want to bend your back with a big load of
debt.' For saying this, the customer will thank his salesman; but the
house cannot write the letter and say this same thing without making a
customer hot.

"And another thing: If a salesman has shown himself strictly square in
his recommendations, the salesman's recommendations regarding a
shipment should be followed. The salesman is the man--and the one man
--who can tell whether his customer is playing ball or attending to
business. Now, for example, not a great while ago, I saw a merchant
that one big firm in this country thinks is strictly good, playing
billiards on the Saturday before Christmas. If there is any time on
earth when a retail merchant should be in his store, it is on this
day, but here was this man, away from his store and up at the hotel,
guzzling high balls and punching ivory. That thing alone would have
been enough to queer him with me and if I had been selling him and he
was not meeting his bills promptly, I should simply tell the house to
cut him off.

"The salesman also knows how much business a man is doing,--whether it
is a credit business and all the other significant details. The
merchant will take the traveling man that he buys goods from, and
throw his books and his heart and everything wide open, and tell him
how he stands. Even if he is in a little hole of some kind, it is of
the traveling man that he asks advice as to how to get out.

"Again, the traveling man knows all about the trade conditions in his
customer's town; whether there has been a good crop and prices high;
whether the pay roll is keeping up or not; whether there is some new
enterprise going to start that will put on more men and boom things.
He knows all about these things, and he is on the spot and has a
personal interest in finding out about them, if he is honest, and most
salesmen are. It is to his interest to be so. And he can give
information to the credit department that nobody else can.

"The report of a salesman to his firm is worth forty times as much as
these little printed slips that have been sent in by some ninny,
numskull reporter for a commercial agency. These fellows, before they
go around soliciting reports from merchants, have usually been lily-
fingered office boys who have never been in a place where a man can
learn much common sense until they have grown too old to get on to
things that have come in their way."

"Yes, you bet," spoke up the furnishing goods man. "They are the
fellows who do us boys on the road a whole lot of harm. If the
agencies wanted to get men who would know how to secure good, sound
reports from merchants, they should hire first-class salesmen and send
them out instead of office boys.

"The credit man," he continued, "should do another thing. He should
not only send to the salesman the letter he writes, but he should
confer with the man on the road _before_ he writes. What he should do,
if the references the merchant gives return favorable reports and the
salesman recommends the account, he should, without going any further,
pass out an order to save himself a whole lot of worry. But it matters
not how bad are the reports from any and all sources, the credit man
should write the salesman if he is near, or even wire him if he is far
away, laying before him the facts and asking for further information
and judgment. I once asked our credit man to do this but he kicked
because a telegram would cost the house four bits. He hadn't stopped
to think that it cost me out of my own pocket from ten to twenty
dollars expenses on every order I took. Oh, they are wise, these
credit men!

"It is strange, too, that credit men do not average better than they
do. If the heads of firms really knew what blunders their credit men
make, I believe that two-thirds of them would be fired tomorrow. There
isn't any way of getting at their blunders except through the kicking
of the traveling man and when he makes a howl, the heads of the house
usually dismiss him with, 'You sell the goods and we'll attend to the

"A really 'broad minded, quick witted, diplomatic, courteous credit
man,' as you say, is worth a great deal to a house. They are almost as
rare as roses on the desert. Now, just to show you how the credit man
and the salesman can pull together, let me give you an example.

"I sold a man a fair bill of goods. I knew he was a straightforward,
square, capable man of good character. He was a pusher. I was in a
rush and I took from him just a brief statement of his affairs. I
wrote the house that I thought well of the man but didn't especially
recommend him. You see, if you recommend strongly every man you sell,
it is the same as recommending none. So, unless it comes to a hard
pinch, I say no more than is necessary. Our credit man got the agency
reports on this man, which made him out as no good and having no
capital, and a whole lot of things of that sort and he wrote the man
refusing to ship the bill. It looked to him that this man's condition
was so hopeless that it was unnecessary for him to write me. He simply
turned the order down straight out. When I came in and went over my
list of turn-downs, I simply broke right out and said to the credit
man, 'Here, you've made a bull on this.' 'Do you really think so?'
said he. 'Heavens alive, yes! I know it. Why, this fellow made five
thousand dollars last year on a saw mill that he has. He is in a
booming country. Maybe he had a little bad luck in the past but he is
a hustler and sinks deep into the velvet every time he takes a step
now.' 'Why, I am awfully sorry. What shall I do about it?' 'Leave it
to me,' said I.

"I wrote out to my man and told him the straight of it, that the
agencies had done him a great injustice, and for him to write me
personally exactly how he stood and that I would see things through
for him in the office; that my house meant him no harm; that he was a
stranger to them, but upon my recommendation, if his statement were
anything like what I thought it should be, they would fill the order.
At the same time, I suggested that the bill be cut about half for the
first shipment.

"Well, sir, that man sent me in his statement showing that he not only
had merchandise for which he owed very little, but also over four
hundred dollars in the bank. I remember the amount. His statement
showed that he had a net worth of nearly eleven thousand dollars,--and
that man told the truth. Now, this information he would give me
direct, but the house was not able to obtain it elsewhere.

"Now, this is a case, you know, where there is now good feeling all
around and this is so just because the credit man paid attention to
the salesman."

The outer door of the hotel was opened. In blew a gust of wind. The
green leaves of the big palm rustled noisily as we scattered to our
rooms, thankful we were not credit men.



To win the customer's good will is the aim of every successful

"Ah, but how can I do this?" asks the new man.

The ways must be as many as the men he meets. The dispositions of men
are as varied as their looks. A kind word will win one man and a bluff
another. A generous deed will go right into the heart of one merchant;
another will resent it, thinking that the man who does him a favor
seeks only to buy his good will. The one thing, however, that the man
on the road must do, and always do, is to _gain the confidence_ of the
man with whom he seeks to do business. His favor will as surely
follow this as day follows night. The night may sometimes be long,
like that at the North Pole, but when day does finally dawn it will
also be of long duration. The man whose confidence it is slow for you
to gain, will probably prove to be the man whose faith in you will
last the longest.

Then, the salesman must not only have the knack of getting the good
will of his customer on first sight, but he must also possess patience
and, if need be, let confidence in himself be a slow growth. He must
do business from the jump when he starts out with samples but, to be
truly successful, his business must always grow.

A little group of us, having come back from our trips, fell in
together one day at luncheon in Chicago. Our meeting was not planned
at all, but before the first of us had forgotten the sting of the
tabasco on our Blue Points, so many old friends had foregathered that
we had our waiters slide two tables together. There was quite a bunch
of us. The last one to join the party was a dry goods man. He was a
jolly good fellow.

"Hello! Ed, Hello!" spoke up all the boys at once. "How are you? Just
home? Sorry to hear your old customer out at Columbus finally had to
quit business," said the clothing man.

"Yes; so am I," said Ed. "He was a mighty hard man for me to get
started with but when once I landed him he was one of the most
faithful customers I had. Do you know that for more than eight years
he never bought a sou in my line from any other man? It's too bad that
he had to leave this world. He was a fine old gentleman. I'll never
forget, though, the first time I sold him. I had been calling on him
for three or four years. His town was one of the first ones I made
when I started on the road--I was not quite twenty, then.

"He always treated me courteously--he was a Southerner, you know--but
I couldn't get next to him to save my life. One day as I walked toward
his store, a little German band stationed itself just before his door
and started in to play Yankee Doodle. I didn't pay any attention to
this at the time, but when I went up to shake hands with the old
gentleman, as usual, I asked him if there was something in my line he
wanted. For the first time in his life he was uncivil toward me. He
said, 'No, suh, there is not,' and he turned and walked away. Well,
there was nothing left for me to do but to scoot as soon as I could.

"I made a sneak and went into another store but soon I saw there was
nothing there for me and I thought I would run over to the hotel, get
my traps together and skip town by the next train. I had to pass by
the old man's door again. The little German band was still there. They
had quit playing Yankee Doodle but were going it good and hard on
'Marching Through Georgia.' I happened to look into the old man's
store and he was pacing up and down behind the counter. A bright idea
struck me. I went up to the leader of the band and said, 'Look here,
Fritz, can you play Dixie?'

"'Deekse?' said the big, fat Bavarian. 'Vas iss dass?'

"I didn't know much German but I whistled the air and made him
understand what I wanted.

"_Ja wohl,_' said he.

"'Then, here,' said I, handing him a cart wheel, 'just you stay right
here and give me a dollar's worth of Dixie,--a whole dollar's worth,
mind you!'

"Well, he must have understood me all right, for the band promptly
began to play Dixie. I didn't know that the old gentleman had seen me
talking to the band leader, but he had come to the front door to order
the band to move on shortly after I came up.

"I simply stood there, leaning against the store in the sunshine,
while the German band blowed away. Well, sir, the fellow that played
the clarionet--when he got down to the lively part of the tune--
certainly did make that little instrument sing. They didn't know what
Dixie meant but they played it to a fare-ye-well, just the same!

"After a while the old man came to the front door. He saw me standing
there in the sunshine. There was a smile on his face as broad as Lake
Michigan. Joy spread over his countenance in waves. When he saw me
leaning up against the store, he came right out where I was and said,
'Look hyah, suh; I was pow'ful uncivil to you this mo'nin', suh. I
want to beg yo' pa'don. No gentleman has a right to insult another,
but I was so infernally mad this mo'nin' when you spoke to me, suh,
that I couldn't be civil. That confounded Yankee tune just riled me.
You know, I was an old confed'rate soldier, suh. The wah is all ovah
now and I'm really glad the niggers are free. The country's lots
bettah off as it is now. Since I've been up hyah in this country I've
begun to think that Abe Lincoln was a good man and a fair man, and a
friend to the nation; but, confound it! ever' time I hyah 'Yankee
Doodle' or 'Marchin' Through Georgia,' suh, I put on mah unifohm again
and want to fight. It's pow'ful ha'd fo' a man that has woh the gray,
suh, to forget the coloh of his old clothes, try as ha'd as he will. I
want to be broad-minded, but, confound it! it seems that I cyan't,

"'Well, you are ahead of me just one generation,' said I. 'I was born
in the North and raised up here but my father was a Southern soldier.'

"'What!' said the old man. 'Why didn't yo' tell me this befoh, suh?
Hyah, I've been treatin' yo' like a dog, suh, all this time. And your
father was a confed'rate soldier, suh?'

"'Yes, sir,' said I. 'He was under Jackson.'

"'What! Stomal Jackson? Why, suh, a greater man than Stomal Jackson
nevah lived, suh. He was a gentleman clean to the co'. Come right in,
suh, and sit down. I want to talk to yo' some mo'.

"'Now, you are goin' to pa'don me, suh, fo' my rudeness this mo'nin'.
I want you to say that you will.'

"'Why, to be sure, Colonel,' said I. 'I certainly wouldn't blame you
for the same feeling that I know my father had as long as he lived.'

"The little Bavarian band, according to my instructions, kept on
playing Dixie so long that the fellow who blew the clarionet began to
skip notes and puff. I went out and told them that that was enough of
that tune and switched them onto S'wanee River. To the tune of this
old air, the Colonel marched me up to his house for dinner.

"We didn't say a word about business, of course, until after we had
returned to the store. When we came back there, the old Colonel said
to me, 'Now, look hyah,--let me get yo' first name.'

"'Ed,' said I.

"'Well, yo'll have to let me call yo' "Ed." Yo're lots younger'n I am.
I can't do any business with yo' this trip. I have my promise out. I
told the man that I've been buyin' dry goods from that I'd give him my
o'der fo' this fall but I don't think as much of him as I do of you,
and hyeahaftah I am going to give you my business. I know that yo'll
see that yo' house treats me right and I would ratheh deal with a man
anyway that I have confidence in, suh. Now, you needn't hurry, Ed,
about gettin' around hyah next season, suh, because, sho's yo' bawn,
upon the wo'd of a Southern gentleman, suh, yo' shall have my

"You sold him next time?" asked one of the boys.

"You bet your life I did," said Ed. "That man's word was good."

"He was a splendid old gentleman," spoke up another one of the boys.

"Yes," said the clothing man, "I haven't been there for four or five
years. He used to have a lovely little girl that sometimes came down
to the store with him."

"Well," broke in Ed, "I'm glad that somebody besides myself has a good
opinion of her for she is to be my wife next month."

"Well, good luck to you and lots of happiness," chimed in all the

"When once you get the good will of one of those southerners,"
remarked the wallpaper man, "you have it for all time. I don't wish to
wave the bloody shirt--I am a northerner, myself--but these northern
houses somehow don't know how to handle the southern trade. I travel
down in Louisiana and Mississippi, and I really dodge every time that
one of my customers tells me he is going into the house. Once I
started a customer down in the Bayou country. I was getting along well
with him and he was giving me a share of his business. One season,
however, he came into the house. I didn't know anything about this
until I was down there on my next trip. I went to see him, as usual,
expecting at least to get a fair order, but when I asked him to come
over to my sample room he said, 'Now, Jack, I'd really like to go oveh
and do some business but I've already bought my goods. I was in to see
yo' house and when I asked the young man at the do'h to see the
membahs of yo' firm, he went away fo' a minute or two and when he came
back, he said, without bein' at all polite about it, "They're busy." I
didn't say anything mo'h to the young man but I turned on my heel and
went out the do'h. It made me so mad that I do believe the spahks flew
right out of me. I made up my mind I wouldn't have anythin' mo'h to do
with such people and that I would buy mah wall papah in New Yo'k when
I got down theah. Now, I'm mighty sorry about this, Jack, but I really
cyan't pat'onize a conce'n that treated me wuss'n a niggeh.'

"I tried to explain that the members of my firm were very busy, and
that they would have been only too glad to see him had they known who
he was, but I couldn't do anything with the old gentleman because, he
said, that he didn't wish to deal with people that would treat anybody
that way. He said he thought every man should at least receive
gentlemanly treatment."

"And you bet he's right about that," spoke up one of the boys.

"Yes, he was," said Jack. "Still it was hard for me to let go. I of
course didn't say anything more about business to him but there wasn't
much going on that day, although it was Saturday, and we visited quite
a while. You know they always have chairs in the back end of stores
down south and a customer who comes in to buy something is always
asked to have a seat before anything is said about business. It's a
good, old sociable way and although it's a little slow, I like it.
Traveling is pleasant in the south, whether a man does business or
not, because he always receives courteous treatment.

"As we were talking along I asked the old gentleman where his little
girl was that I had seen around the store on previous trips.

"'Well, Jack,' said he, 'I'm pow'ful sorry to tell you but I'm afraid
she's a cripple for life. A hoss threw her and stepped on her leg an'
broke it ve'y badly neah the knee. She has her knee now in a plaster
Paris cast but I'm afraid she'll be lame as long as she lives.'

"Well, sir, she was a pretty, sweet little girl, and when her father
told me about her misfortune I was very sorry for him. He couldn't
keep from crying when he told me about it. I couldn't say much but I
felt mighty sorry. It isn't so bad for a boy to be crippled but if
there's anything that goes through me it is to see a beautiful little
girl walking along on crutches.

"I told the old gentleman goodbye and started down to the hotel. A
block or two away I saw a flower store. I said to myself, 'Well, my
firm has treated my friend wrong but that's no reason why I should
have anything against him. I don't blame him a bit. I'm just going to
send a bouquet up to the little girl anyhow.'

"So over at the flower store I passed out a five dollar bill and wrote
on the card that I sent with the Marechal Niel roses, 'From a friend
of your father's.' "Now, I didn't have business in my eye, boys, when
I did this. It was right from the heart. I was going to Sunday in that
town anyway and get out on a train early Monday morning. There was a
tough hotel in the next town I was to strike.

"That night, while I was at supper, the clerk came into the dining
room and told me that somebody wanted to talk to me over the
telephone. It was the little girl's father. He said to me, 'Jack, I
want to thank you very much for those flowers that you sent up to
Mary. She's proud of them and sends you a kiss; and I want to tell you
that I'm proud of this, Jack,--but just to thank you oveh the wyah
isn't enough. I wanted to find out if you were at the hotel. I want to
come down and shake yo' hand. Are yo' going' to be hyah tomorrow?' I
told him I was going to Sunday there. 'Well,' said the old gentleman,
'I will see you tomorrow mo'nin'. I'll come down befo' I go to

"When he came down the next morning I was up in my room where my
samples were. If I could have sold him a hundred thousand dollars I
wouldn't have asked him to look at anything, but I did ask him to have
a chair and smoke a cigar with me. My samples were in the room where
he couldn't keep from seeing them and after he had thanked me again
and again and told me how much he appreciated my kindness, he fingered
over a line of goods of his own accord, asking me the prices on them.

"I said to him, 'Now, look here, you probably don't wish to price any
goods today, as you are going to church. These are worth so much and
so much, but if you wish to forgive and forget the discourtesy my
house has shown you,--their line of goods is first-class; there's none
better in the country; nothing can be said on that score against
them,--I'll stay over tomorrow and show you.'

"'No, I won't have you do that,' said my friend--he was my friend
then--'Time is money to a man on the road. If I was going to do any
business with yo' I ought to have done it yesterday. I have spoiled a
day fo' you an' I don't believe the Lord will hold anything against me
if I do business with you today. You know he makes allo'ances when the
ox gets in the mire, so get out yo' book, if you will, suh,--an' I
will give you an ohdeh.'

"Before I was through with him my bill amounted to over six thousand
dollars, the biggest order I ever took in my life,--and do you know,
we finished it in time for both of us to get up to church just as the
preacher was reading his text, and, singularly enough, the text of the
sermon that day was, 'Do unto others as you would have others do unto
you.' I half believe my friend had arranged this sermon with the

"Even if I have lost the twang in my voice," spoke up the southerner,
a furnishing goods man.

"Oh, come off!"

"Lost it?" said the clothing man.

"Yes, I reckon I have. I've been up no'th long enough. Well, people
down in my country are warm hearted and courteous, but all the
goodness in the world doesn't dwell with them. I've found some pow'ful
good people up no'th. Raisin' has something to do with a man, but that
isn't all. We find good men whereveh we go, if we look fo' them right.
Your tellin' about sendin' flowe's to that little girl reminds me of
the time when I once sent some flowe's, but instead of sending them to
a girl, I sent them to a big crusty old man. This man was, to a great
extent, an exception to the rule that I have just laid down. That is,
he was cranky and ha'd to get next to for nearly ever'body, and
sometimes he was pretty rough with me. But I handled him fairly well
and always got business out of him, although sometimes I had to use a
little jiu jitsu to do it.

"Several seasons ago--haven't you heard this story, boys?--I was on my
way up to his town, Deadwood. While I was down at Broken Bow, I got a
telegram from the house which read, "Sam Shoup dead"--that was one
line--and on the next line the message read: "Wood wants goods."

"I thought this was rather funny when I got hold of the message for I
hadn't sold this man Wood for several seasons. He had been a little
slow and the house had drawn on him, and I lost him. But I thought
maybe things were all patched up again and so I hur'ied on up into the
Hills and over to Hot Springs to see Wood. He handled lots of goods
and I wanted to get there before somebody else nipped him. Besides, I
could double back and catch Chadron and those towns along there on my

"I was ve'y sor'y to heah that my friend Sam had croaked. You know,
after a man has turned up his toes you can see a whole lot of good
points about him that always escaped yo' notice befo'; so at Broken
Bow I wiahed the flo'ist up in Deadwood to send ten dollars worth of
roses with my card on over to Mrs. Shoup, that I would see him in a
few days and pay him fo' them. I also sent a telegram to the widow,
extending my heartfelt sympathy.

"Well, sir, when I got into the Springs I had my trunk brought right
up, opened my samples, befo' I went over to see my friend Wood. When I
went into his sto' he said to me, 'Well, Mark, what are you doing
here?' 'What am I doing heah,' said I, 'Why, the house telegraphed me
you wanted some goods.' 'Why, I wouldn't buy any goods from yo' house
if I were a millionaire and could get them for ten cents on the
dollar. They turned me down once good and ha'd and that's enough fo'
me. Where's the telegram? I think you're stringin' me.'

"'No; nothing of the kind,' said I, and I handed him the telegram.
Laugh? I never heard a fellow laugh like he did in my life.

"'Why, can't you read?'

"'Sure! This telegram reads: "Sam Shoup dead. Wood wants goods."'

"'No,' said Wood. 'That telegram says that Sam Shoup, Deadwood, wants
goods. That hasn't anything to do with me.' And do you know, boys,
that's the first time that I could understan' that telegram?

"It was such a good joke, howeveh, that I did jolly Wood into giving
me an o'deh. From the Springs I went right up to Deadwood. When I met
Sam in his sto' he said to me, 'Vell, Mark, vat are you senting my
vife vlowers for, and vat are you extenting your heartfelt sympat'y

"I showed Sam the telegram.

"'Vell, vell, vell. I nefer had a ting to happen like dot in my life,'
said he. 'Now, I know you are my frient. If you had send dose vlowers
while you knew I vas alife, I would have t'ought you done it to sell
me a bill but you send 'em ven you t'ought I vas deat. Ged op your
stuff, Mark, you bet your life I haf a bill for you. I will make it
dobble vat I t'ought I vould. You are de only man dat has proved he
vas my frient.'"

"Did I ever tell you how I got on the south side of Ed Marks?" said
Sam Wood. We had nearly all heard this story before, but still it was
a pleasure to get Wood started, so we all urged him to proceed.

"Well, it came about this way," said Sam, squaring himself in his
chair, as we lit our cigars. "It was in the old flush days, you know,
Goodness! How I wish we had some more mining camps now like Ed's old
town. Business was business in those days--to sell a man ten thousand
in clothing was nothing! Why, I've sold Ed as much as twenty-five
thousand dollars in one season. His account alone, one year, would
have supported me. I know one time he came into our store and I took
him upstairs and sold him the whole side of the house--overcoats that
stacked up clear to the ceiling, and he bought them quick as a flash.
He just looked at them. He said, 'How much for the lot?' I gave him a
price, and before I could snap my finger he said, 'All right, ship
them out. Send about a fourth by express and the others right away by

"Yes, but how did you start him, Sam?"

"Oh, I'm just going to get to that now. I was something of a kid when
I started out west. I've always been a plunger, you know. Of course
I've cut out fingering chips for a long time now, but there was no
stake too high for me in those days. It cost a whole lot of money to
travel out west when I first struck that country. It was before the
time when clothing houses sent out swatches in one trunk. They weren't
such close propositions then as now. They're trying to put this
clothing business now on a dry goods basis.

"Well, I carried fourteen trunks and five hundred wouldn't last me
more than two weeks. I just cashed a draft before I struck Ed's town.
I had heard that he was a hard man to handle and I didn't know just
exactly how to get at him, but luck was with me.

"The night I got into town, I went into the den out from the office.
You know that in those days the hotels would board suckers for nothing
if they would only play their money. I knew Ed by sight and I saw him
standing by the faro table. 'Ah, here's my chance,' said I. I pulled
out my roll and asked the dealer to give me two hundred in chips. I
played him twenty on a turn and then said to the dealer, 'What's your
limit?' The roof's off,' said he. 'All right, 250 on the bullet,' said
I, sliding over. '250 goes,' said he. I lost. I repeated the bet. I
lost again. By this time they began to crowd around the table. I
didn't see Ed then at all, you know, except out of the corner of my
eye. I could see that he was getting interested and I saw him put his
hand down in his pocket. I lost another 250. Three straight bets of
250 to the bad, but I thought I might just as well be game as not and
lose it all at one turn as well as any other way, if I had to lose.
All I was playing for was to get an acquaintance with Ed anyhow and
that was easily worth 500 to me if I could ever get him into my sample
room, and I knew it. Gee! Those were great old times then.

"Well, I planked up the fourth 250, and won. Then I let the whole 500
lay and--"

"You are pipe dreaming, Wood," spoke up one of the boys.

"Jim, I can prove this by you. You've seen worse things than this,
haven't you?"

"Bet your life, Wood," and Jim whispered to one of the boys, 'Wood can
prove anything by me.'

"I let the 500 lay on a copper and I won. From that time on I made no
bet for less than half a thousand. At one time I had the dealer pretty
close to the bank but I didn't quite put him ashore.

"Well, to make a long story short, when I quit I was just a thousand
to the good. Next day was Sunday. There was a picnic out a mile from
town. I said:

"'Well, gentlemen, I've done my best to relieve my friend here of all
he has, but I can't do it. I am a little to the good and I want you
all to go as my guests tomorrow to the picnic. In on this?' said I,
and Ed, among others, nodded.

"I didn't tell him who I was and I didn't ask him who he was. I took
it for granted if he said he would go along, he would. Next day a
whole van load of us went out to the picnic. We had a bully good time.
When we got into the wagon I introduced myself to all the gentlemen,
not telling them what my business was. When Ed told me his name, he
said, 'I'm a resident of this town in the clothing business. Where are
you from?' I said, 'I'm from Chicago and I'm in the clothing business,
too, but don't let's talk business. We're out for pleasure today.'
'Well, that suits me,' said Ed, but when we got back to town that
night I dropped the rest of the bunch and asked him in to supper with
me. Nothing too good for him, you know. And while he was under the
spell I took him into my sample room that night. You ought to have
seen the order that fellow gave me. It struck the house so hard when I
sent it in to them that they wired me congratulations."

"Are you still selling your friend Rubovitz, Johnnie?" asked our
friend, who had just told us his story, of one of his competitors.

"Sure," said Johnnie, "and the boy, too. Yes, why shouldn't I?"

"Well, I guess you should," said Wood.

"Yes! when I was in the old man's store on this last trip, I felt
really sorry for a first-tripper who struck him to look at his
clothing. That fellow hung on and hung on. I was sitting back at the
desk and he must have thought I was one of the partners because I was
the first man he braced and I referred him to the old gentleman."

"Well, wasn't that sort of a dangerous thing for you to do?" asked one
of the boys.

"Not on your life. You don't know why it is I have the old man so
solid. I've got the hooks on him good and hard, you know."

"Well, how's that?"

"Oh, it came about this way," said he. "When I was down in Kansas City
a few years ago, when I had finished selling Ruby,--as I always called
him, you know--(he came in from out in the country to meet me this
time) I asked him how my little sweetheart was getting on. She, you
know, was his little daughter Leah. She was just as sweet as she could
be,--great big brown eyes and rich russet cheeks, black curls, bright
as a new dollar and sharp as a needle.

"'O, she iss a big goil now,' said my friend Ruby. 'Say,' said he,
'who vass dot yong feller in the room here a few minutes ago?' He
referred to a young friend of mine who had chanced to drop in. 'De
reeson I ask iss I am huntin' for a goot, reliable, hart-workin'
Yehuda (Jewish) boy for her. I vant her to get married pretty soon
now. She iss a nice goil, too.'

"'How about a goy (Gentile), Ruby?' said I.

"'No, that vont vork. _Kein yiddishes Madchen fur einen Goy und keine
Shickse fur einen yiddishen Jungen.'_ (No Hebrew girl for a Gentile
boy; no Gentile girl for a Hebrew boy.)

"'All right, Ruby,' said I. He was such a good, jolly old fellow, and
while he was a man in years he was a boy in actions,--and Ruby was the
only name by which I ever called him. Nothing else would fit. 'All
right, Ruby,' said I, 'I believe I just know the boy for Leah.'

"'Veil, you know vat I will do. I don'd care eef he iss a poor boy;
dot is all ride. I haf money and eef I ged the ride boy for my goil, I
vill set him op in peezness. Dot's somet'ing for you to vork for--
annodder cost'mer,' said he--the instinct would crop out.

"Well, sir, I've got to make this story short," said Johnny, pulling
out his watch. "I found the boy. He was a good, clean-cut young
fellow, too, and you know the rest."

"You bet your life I do," said Sam. "Two solid customers that buy
every dollar from you."

"And," continued Johnny, "Leah and Abie are as happy as two birds in a
nest. I don't know but these marriages arranged by the old folks turn
out as well as the others anyhow."

"It's not alone by doing a good turn to your customer that you gain
his good will," said the hat man. "Not always through some personal
favor, but with all merchants you win by being straight with them.
This is the one thing that will always get good will. Now, in my line,
for example, new styles are constantly cropping out and a merchant
must depend upon his hat man to start him right on new blocks. A man
in my business can load a customer with a lot of worthless plunder so
that his stock will not be worth twenty-five cents on the dollar in a
season or two. On the other hand, he can, if he will, select the new
styles and keep him from buying too many of them, thereby keeping his
stock clean.

"Yes, and this same thing can be done in all lines," spoke up two or
three of the boys.

"Yes, you bet," continued the hat man, "and when you get a man's good
will through the square deal you have him firmer than if you get his
confidence in any other way."

"Sure! Sure!" said the boys, as we dropped our napkins and made for
our hats.



Salesmen are told many things they should do; perhaps they ought to
hear a few things they should not do. If there is one thing above all
others that a salesman should observe, it is this:

_Don't grouch!_

The surly salesman who goes around carrying with him a big chunk of
London fog does himself harm. If the sun does not wish to shine upon
him--if he is having a little run of hard luck--he should turn on
himself, even with the greatest effort, a little limelight. He should
carry a small sunshine generator in his pocket always. The salesman
who approaches his customer with a frown or a blank look upon his
face, is doomed right at the start to do no business. His countenance
should be as bright as a new tin pan.

The feeling of good cheer that the salesman has will make his customer
cheerful; and unless a customer is feeling good, he will do little, if
any, business with you.

I do not mean by this that the salesman should have on hand a full
stock of cheap jokes--and pray, my good friend, never a single smutty
one; nothing cheapens a man so much as to tell one of these--but he
should carry a line of good cheerful wholesome talk. "How are you
feeling?" a customer may ask. "Had a bad cold last night, but feel
chipper as a robin this morning." "How's business?" a customer may
inquire. "The, world is kind to me," should be the reply. The merchant
who makes a big success is the cheerful man; the salesman who--whether
on the road or behind the counter--succeeds, carries with him a long
stock of sunshine.

An old-time clothing man who traveled in Colorado once told me this

"I used to have a customer, several years ago, over in Leadville,"
said he, "that I had to warm up every time I called around. His family
cost him a great deal of money. The old man gave it to them
cheerfully, but he himself would take only a roll and a cup of coffee
for breakfast, and, when he got down to the store he felt so poor that
he would take a chew of tobacco and make it last him for the rest of
the day. Actually, that man didn't eat enough. And his clothes--well,
he would dress his daughters in silks but he would wear a hand-me-down
until the warp on the under side of his sleeves would wear clear down
to the woof. He would wear the bottoms off his trousers until the
tailor tucked them under clear to his shoe tops. Smile? I never saw
the old man smile in my life when I first met him on my trips. It
would always take me nearly a whole day to get him thawed out, and the
least thing would make him freeze up again.

"I remember one time I went to see him--you recall him, old man
Samuels--and, after a great deal of coaxing, got him to come into my
sample room in the afternoon. This was a hard thing to do because if
he was busy in the store he would not leave and if he wasn't busy, he
would say to me, 'Vat's de use of buying, Maircus? You see, I doan
sell nodding.'

"But this time I got the old man over to luncheon with me--we were old
friends, you know--and I jollied him up until he was in a good humor.
Then I took him into the sample room, and little by little, he laid
out a line of goods. Just about the time he had finished it, it grew a
little cloudy.

"Now, you know how the sun shines in Colorado? From one side of the
state to the other it seldom gets behind a cloud. In short, it shines
there 360 days in the year. It had been bright and clear all morning
and all the time, in fact, until the old man had laid out his line of
goods. Then he happened to look out of the window, and what do you
suppose he said to me?

"'Vell, Maircus, I like you and I like your goots, but, ach Himmel!
der clooty vetter!' And, do you know, I couldn't get the old man to do
any business with me because he thought the sun was never going to
shine again? I cannot understand just how he argued it with himself,
but he was deaf to all of my coaxing. Finally I said to him:

"'Sam, you are kicking about the cloudy weather but I will make you a
present of a box of cigars if the sun does not shine before we write
down this order.'

"The old man was something of a gambler,--in fact the one pleasure of
his life was to play penochle for two bits a corner after he closed
up. So he said to me, 'Vell, Maircus, you can wride down der orter,
and eef dot sun shines before we get t'rough, you can sheep der

"This was the first time that I ever played a game against the Powers
That Be. I started in and the sky grew darker and darker. I monkeyed
along for an hour and a half, and, just to kill time, tried to switch
the old man from patterns he had selected to others that I 'thought
would be a little better.' But the Powers were against me, and when I
finished writing down the order it was cloudier than ever--and nearly
night, too.

"Then an idea struck me. 'Now, Sam,' said I, 'I've had a cinch on you
all the time. You told me you were going to take this bill if the sun
was shining when we got through writing down this order. Don't you
know, Sam,' said I, laughing at him, 'the sun does shine and must
shine every day. Sometimes a little cloud comes between it and the
earth but that, you know, will soon pass away, and, cloud or no cloud,
the sun shines just the same.'

"'Vell, Maircus,' said the old man, 'I cannod see any sunshine out der
vindow, but dere's so much off id in your face dot you can sheep dot
bill.' 'Well, Sam,' said I, 'if that's the case, I guess I will buy
you that box of cigars.'"

Another thing: _Don't beef!_

There is a slight difference between the "grouch" and the "beef." The
man may be grouchy without assuming to give a reason therefor, but
when he "beefs" he usually thinks there is cause for it. I knew a man
who once lost a good customer just because he beefed when a man to
whom he had sold a bill of goods countermanded the order. The merchant
was stretching his capital in his business to the limit. Things grew a
little dull with him and he figured it out, after he had placed all of
his orders, that he had bought too many goods. He used the hatchet a
little all the way around. I had some of my own order cut off, but
instead of kicking about it, I wrote him that he could even cut off
more if he felt it was to his advantage; that I did not wish to load
him up with more than he could use; that when the time came that I
knew his business better than he did it would then be time for me to
buy him out. But a friend of mine did not take this same turn.
Instead, he wrote to the man--and the merchant thought a good deal of
him, personally, too--that he had bought the goods in good faith, that
expense had been made in selling the bill and that he ought to keep

"Well, now, that was the very worst thing he could have done because
it went against the customer's grain. He let his countermand stand and
since that time he has never bought any more goods from his old
friend. He simply marked him off his list because it was very plain to
him that the friendship of the past had been for what there was in

_Don't fail to make a friend of your fellow salesman!_

This can never do you any harm and you will find that it will often do
you good. The heart of the man on the road should be as broad as the
prairie and as free from narrowness as the Egyptian sky is free of
clouds. One of my friends once told a group of us, as we traveled
together, how an acquaintance he made helped him.

"I got into Dayton, Washington, one summer morning about 4:30," said
he. "Another one of the boys--a big, strong, good-natured comrade--
until then a stranger to me--and myself were the only ones left at the
little depot when the jerk-water train pulled away. It was the first
trip to this town for both of us. There was no 'bus at the depot and
we did not know just how to get up to the hotel. The morning was fine
--such a one as makes a fellow feel good clear down to the ground. The
air was sweet with the smell of the dewy grass. The clouds in the
east--kind of smeared across the sky--began to redden; they were the
color of coral as we picked our way along the narrow plank walk. As we
left behind us the bridge, which crossed a beautiful little stream
lined with cotton woods and willows, they had turned a bright
vermillion. There was not a mortal to be seen besides ourselves. The
only sound that interrupted our conversation was the crowing of the
roosters. The leaves were still. It was just the right time for the
beginning of a friendship between two strangers.

"'Isn't this glorious!' exclaimed my friend.

"'Enchanting!' I answered. I believe I would have made friends with a
crippled grizzly bear that morning. But this fellow was a whole-souled
prince. We forgot all about business, and the heavy grips that we
lugged up to the hotel seemed light. All I remember further was that
my friend--for he had now become that to me--and myself went out to
hunt up a cup of coffee after we had set down our grips in the hotel

"The next time I met that man was at the Pennsylvania Station at
Philadelphia, ten years afterward, at midnight. We knew each other on

"'God bless you, old man,' said he. 'Do you know me?'

"'You bet your life I do,' said I. 'We walked together one morning,
ten years ago, from the depot at Dayton, Washington, to the hotel.'
'Do you remember that sunrise?' 'Well, _do_ I?' 'What are you doing
down here?' 'Oh, just down on business. The truth is, I am going
down to New York. My house failed recently and I'm on the look-out for
a job.'

"And do you know, boys, that very fellow fixed me up before ten
o'clock next morning, with the people that I am with today, and you
know whether or not I am getting on."

_Don't fall to be friendly with any one who comes in your way._

Another of the boys in the little group that had just listened to this
story, after hearing it, said: 'You bet your life it never hurts a
fellow to be friendly with anybody. Once, when I was going down from a
little Texas town to Galveston, the coach was rather crowded. The only
vacant seats in the whole car were where two Assyrian peddler women
sat in a double seat with their packs of wares opposite them. But as I
came in they very kindly put some of their bundles into the space
underneath where the backs of two seats were turned together, thus
making room for me. I sat down with them. A gentleman behind me
remarked, 'Those people aren't so bad after all.' 'Yes,' I said, 'you
will find good in every one if you only know how to get it out.'

"I had a long and interesting talk with that gentleman. He gave me his
card and when I saw his name I recognized that he was a noted

"Well, what good did that do you?" said one of the boys who was not

"Good? Why that man asked me to come to his home. There I met one of
his sons who was an advertising man for a very large firm in
Galveston. He, in turn, introduced me to the buyer in his store and
put in a good word with him for me. I had never been able to really
get the buyer's attention before this time but this led me into a good
account. You know, I don't care anything for introductions where I can
get at a man without them. I'd rather approach a man myself straight
out than to have any one introduce me to him, but there are cases
where you really cannot get at a man without some outside influence.
This was a case where it did me good."

But, with all this, _don't depend upon your old friends!_

A salesman's friends feel that when he approaches them he does so
because they are his friends, and not because he has goods to sell
that have value. They will not take the same interest in his
merchandise that they will in that of a stranger. They will give him,
it is true, complimentary orders, charity-bird bills, but these are
not the kind that count. Every old man on the road will tell you that
he has lost many customers by making personal friends of them. No man,
no matter how warm a friend his customer may be, should fail, when he
does business with him, to give him to understand that the goods he is
getting are worth the money that he pays for them. This will make a
business friendship built upon confidence, and the business friend may
afterward become the personal friend. A personal friendship will often
follow a business friendship but business friendship will not always
follow personal regard. Every man on the road has on his order book
the names of a few who are exceptions to this rule. He values these
friends, because the general rule of the road is: "Make a personal
friend--lose a customer!" _Don't switch lines!_

The man who has a good house should never leave it unless he goes with
one that he knows to be much better and with one that will assure him
of a good salary for a long time.

Even then, a man often makes a mistake to his sorrow. He will find
that many whom he has thought his personal friends are merely his
business friends; that they have bought goods from him because they
have liked the goods he sold. It is better for a man to try to improve
the line he carries--even though it may not suit him perfectly--than
to try his luck with another one. Merchants are conservative. They
never put in a line of goods unless it strikes them as being better
than the one that they are carrying, and when they have once
established a line of goods that suits them, and when they have built
a credit with a certain wholesale house, they do not like to fly
around because the minute that they switch from one brand of goods
that they are carrying to another, the old goods have become to them
mere job lots, while if they continued to fill in upon a certain
brand, the old stock would remain just as valuable as the new.

One of my old friends had a strong personality but was a noted
changer. He is one of the best salesmen on the road but he has always
changed himself out. He was a shoe man. I met him one day as he was
leaving Lincoln, Nebraska. "Well, Andy," said I, "I guess you got a
good bill from your old friend here."

"Ah, friend?" said he. "I thought that fellow was my friend, but he
quit me cold this time. Didn't give me a sou. And do you know that
this time I have a line just as good as any I ever carried in my life.
I got him to go over to look, but what did he say? That he'd bought.
And the worst of it is that he bought from the house I have just left
and from the man that I hate from the ground up. Now, he's not any
friend of mine any more. The man's your friend who buys goods from
you." I didn't have very much to say, for this man had been loyal to
me, but when I went to Lincoln again I chanced to be talking to the
merchant, and he said to me:

"Do you know, I like Andy mighty well. I tried to be a friend to him.
When I first started with him I bought from him the "Solid Comfort."
He talked to me and said that Solid Comforts were the thing, that they
had a big reputation and that I would profit by the advertising that
they had. Well, I took him at his word. I used to know him when I was
a clerk, you know, and bought from him on his say-so, the Solid
Comfort. I handled these a couple of years and got a good trade built
up on them, and then he came around and said, 'Well, I've had to drop
the old line. I think I'm going to do lots better with the house I'm
with now. The "Easy Fitter" is their brand. Now, you see there isn't
very much difference between the Easy Fitters and the Solid Comforts,
and you won't have any trouble in changing your people over.'

"Well, I changed, and do you know I was in trouble just as soon as I
began to run out of sizes of Solid Comforts. People had worn them and
they had given satisfaction and they wanted more of them. Still, I
didn't buy any at all and talked my lungs out selling the Easy

"Well, it wasn't but a couple of years later when Andy came around
with another line. This time he had about the same old story to tell.
I said to him, 'Now, look here, Andy, I've had a good deal of trouble
selling this second line you sold me instead of the first. People
still come in and ask for them. I have got them, however, changed over
fairly well to the Easy Fitters, and I don't want to go through with
this old trouble again.'

"'Aw, come on,' said he, 'a shoe's a shoe. What's the difference?'
And, out of pure friendship, I went with him again and bought the
"Correct Shape." I had the same old trouble over again, only it was
worse. The shoes were all right but I had lots of difficulty making
people think so. So when Andy made this trip and had another line, I
had to come right out and say, 'Andy, I can't do business with you. I
have followed you three times from the Solid Comfort to the Easy
Fitter, and from the Easy Fitter to the Correct Shape, but now I have
already bought those and I can't give you a thing. I am going to be
frank with you and say that I would rather buy goods from you, Andy,
than from any other man I know of, but still Number One must come
first. If you were with your old people, I would be only too glad to
buy from you, but you've mixed me up so on my shoe stock that it
wouldn't be worth fifty cents on the dollar if I were to change lines
again. I will give you money out of my pocket, Andy,' said I, 'but I'm
not going to put another new line on my shelves."

_Don't fall on prices!_

The man who does this will not gain the confidence of the man to whom
he shows his goods. Without this he cannot sell a merchant
successfully. A hat man once told me of an experience.

"When I first started on the road," said he, "I learned one thing--not
to break on prices when a merchant asked me to come down. I was in
Dubuque. It was about my fourth trip to the town. I had been selling
one man there but his business hadn't been as much as it should, and I
kept on the lookout for another customer. Besides, the town was big
enough to stand two, anyway. I had been working hard on one of the
largest clothing merchants, who carried my line, in the town. Finally
I got him over to my sample room. I showed him my line but he said
tome, 'Your styles are all right but your prices are too high. Vy,
here is a hat you ask me twelf tollars for. Vy, I buy 'em from my olt
house for eleven feefty. You cannot expect me to buy goods from you
ven you ask me more than odders.'

"I had just received a letter from the house about cutting, and they
had given it to me so hard that I thought I would ask the prices they
wanted for their goods, and if I couldn't sell them that way, I
wouldn't sell them at all. I hadn't learned to be honest then for its
own sake; honesty is a matter of education, anyway. So I told my
customer, 'No; the first price I made you was the bottom price. I'll
not vary it for you. I'd be a nice fellow to ask you one price and
then come down to another. If I did anything like that I couldn't walk
into your store with a clear conscience and shake you by the hand.
I've simply made you my lowest price in the beginning and I hope you
can use the goods at these figures, but if you can't, I cannot take an
order from you.' Well, he bought the goods at my prices, paying me $12
for what he said he could get for $11.50.

"A few days after that I met a fellow salesman who was selling
clothing. He said to me, 'By Jove, my boy, you're going to get a good
account over there in Dubuque, do you know that? The man you sold
there told me he liked the way you did business. He said he tried his
hardest to beat you down on prices but that you wouldn't stand for it,
and that he had confidence in you.'

"And, sure enough, I sold that man lots of goods for many years, and I
thus learned early in my career not to fall on prices. If a man is
going to do any cutting, the time to do it is at the beginning of his
trip when he marks his samples. He should do this in plain figures and
he should in no way vary from his original price. If he does, he
should be man enough to send a rebate to those from whom he has
obtained higher prices. If a man will follow out this method he will
surely succeed."

_Don't give away things!_

This same hat man told me another experience he met with on that same
trip. Said he, "I went in to see a man in eastern Nebraska. He was the
one man on that trip who told me when I first mentioned business that
he wanted some hats and that he would buy mine if they suited him.
This looked to me like a push-over. Purely out of ignorance and good-
heartedness, when he came to my sample room (I was a new man on the
road), because he had been the first man who said he wanted some
goods, I offered him a fine hat and do you know, he not only would not
take the hat from me but he did not buy a bill. I learned from another
one of the boys that he turned me down because I offered to make him a
present. This is a rule which is not strictly adhered to, but if I
were running a wholesale house I should let nothing be given to a
customer. He will think a great deal more of the salesman if that
salesman makes him pay for what he gets."

A salesman may be liberal and free in other ways, but when he gets to
doing business he should not let it appear that he is trying to buy
it. Of course it is all right and the proper thing to be a good fellow
when the opportunity comes about in a natural kind of way. If you are
in your customer's store, say, at late closing time on Saturday night,
it is but natural for you to say to him: "Morris, I had a poor supper.
I wonder if we can't go around here somewhere and dig up something to
eat." You can also say to the clerks, "Come along, boys, you are all
in on this. My house is rich. You've worked hard to-day and need a
little recreation." But such courtesies as these, unless they fit in
gracefully and naturally, would better never be offered.

_Don't think any one too big or too hard for you to tackle._

If the salesman cannot depend upon his friends, then he must find his
customers among strangers. I remember a man selling children's shoes,
out in Oregon, who had not been able to get a looker even in the town.
He was talking to a little bunch of us, enumerating those on whom he
had called. The last one he spoke of was the big shoeman of the town.
He said, "But I can't do anything with that fellow; why, his brother,
who is his partner, sells shoes on the road."

"I'm all through with my business," spoke up a drygoods man, "but I'll
bet the cigars that I can make Hoover (the shoeman) come and look at
your stuff. That is, I'll make out to him that I'm selling shoes and I
bet you that I'll bring him to my sample room."

"Well, I'll just take that bet," said the shoeman.

About this time I left for the depot. The next time I saw the drygoods
man I asked him how he came out on that bet.

"Oh, I'd forgotten all about that," said he. "Well, I'll tell you.
Just after you left I went right down to the shoeman's store. I found
him back in his office writing some letters. I walked right up to him
--you know I didn't have anything to lose except the cigars and their
having the laugh on me--and I said, 'You are Mr. Hoover, I am sure.
Now, sir, you are busy and what little I have to say I shall make very
short to you, sir. My house gives its entire energy to the manufacture
of foot covers for little folks. My line is complete and my prices
are right. If you have money and are able to buy for cash on delivery,
I should be glad to show you my line.'

"'I have bought everything for this season,' said Hoover.

"'Perhaps you think you have, Mr. Hoover, but do you wish to hold a
blind bridle over your eyes and not see what's going on in your
business? Do I not talk as if my firm were first class? I have come
straight to you without any beating around the bush. I don't intend to
offer any suggestions as to how you should run your business, but ask
yourself if you can afford to pass up looking at a representative
line. You've heard of my firm, have you not? And I made up some firm
name for him.

"'No, I have not. I'm not interested in any new houses.'

"'Not interested in any new houses!' said I. 'The very fact that you
don't even know the name of my firm is all the greater reason why you
should come and see what sort of stuff they turn out.'

"'Yes, but I've bought; what's the use?' said he.

"'At least to post yourself,' I replied.

"'Well, I might as well come out and tell you,' said the shoeman,
'that my brother owns an interest in this business and that we handle
his line exclusively.'

"'Then you mean to tell me that for your store here you are picking
from one line of goods and are trying to compete with other merchants
in this town who have the chance of buying from scores of lines. Now,
your brother is certainly a very poor salesman if he can't sell enough
shoes to make a living on aside from those that he sells to his own
store. Should he not let his wholesale business and his retail
business be separate from one another? You yourself are interested in
this concern and ought you not to have something to say? To be sure,
when it comes to an even break you should by all means give your
brother and his firm the preference; but do you believe that either
you or he should have goods come into this house from his firm when
you are able to get them better from some other place?'

"'No, I don't believe that is exactly business and we don't aim to.'

"'Well, if such is the case,' said I, 'come up and see what I have.'

"'Well, I'll just go you one,' said the shoeman.

"Do you know, I had him walk with me up to the hotel--he was a good
jolly fellow--and when I marched into the office with him, I called
the children's shoe man over and introduced him.

"He said, 'Well, this is one on me,' and then explained the bet to
Hoover and bought the cigars for three instead of two."

_Don't put prices on another man's goods!_

I once had a merchant pass me out an article he had bought from
another man. "How much is that worth?" he asked. "That I shall not
tell you," I answered. "Suppose it is worth $24 a dozen. If I say it
is worth $30, then you will say to me: 'There's no use doing business
with you, this other man's goods are cheaper, you've confessed it.' If
I say that it is worth $24 a dozen, then you will say to me that I'm
not offering you any advantage. If I say it is worth $18 a dozen, you
will believe that I am telling you a lie. Therefore, I shall say

_Don't run down your competitor._

In talking of this point a furnishing goods man once said to me: "When
I first went to travel in Missouri and Illinois I was green. I had a
whole lot to learn, but still I had been posted by one of my friends
who told me that I should always treat my competitor with especial
courtesy. When I was on my first trip I met one of my competitors one
day at a hotel in Springfield. I was introduced to him by one of the
boys. I chatted with him as pleasantly as I could for a few minutes
and then went up street to look for a customer.

"After dinner I was standing by the cigar case talking to the hotel
clerk. Up came my competitor very pompously and bought a half dollar's
worth of cigars. As he lighted one and stuck all the others into his
pocket case he said to me in a 'What-are-you?' fashion, 'Oh, how are
you?' and away he walked. Heavens, how he froze me! But from that day
to this, while I have outwardly always treated him civilly, his
customers have been the ones that I have gone after the hardest--and
you bet your life that I've put many of his fish on my string."

_Don't run down the other fellow's goods!_

When a salesman tells merchants that he can sell them goods that are
better, for the same price or cheaper than he is buying them, he at
once offers an insult to the merchant's judgment. One of my merchant
friends once told me of a breezy young chap who came into his store
and asked him how much he paid for a certain suit of clothes that was
on the table. "This young fellow was pretty smart," said my merchant
friend. "He asked me how much I paid for a cheviot. I told him $9. He
said, 'Nine dollars! Well, I can sell you one just like that for $7.'
'All right, I'll take fifty suits,' said I.

"About that time I turned away to wait on a customer and in an hour or
so the young fellow came in again and said, 'Well, my line is all
opened up now, and if you like we can run over to my sample room.'
'Why, there's no use of doing that,' said I. 'You tell me that you can
sell me goods just exactly like what I have for $2 a suit cheaper. No
use of my going over to look at them. Just send them along. Here, I
can buy lots of goods from you.'

"'Oh, they're not exactly like these, but pretty near it,' said he.

"'Well, if they're not exactly like these I don't care for them at all
because these suit me exactly.'

"With this the young fellow took a tumble to himself and let me

_Don't carry side lines!_

You might just as well mix powder with sawdust. If you scatter
yourself from one force to another you weaken the force which you
should put into your one line. If this does not pay you, quit it

_Don't take a conditional order!_

If your customer cannot make up his mind while you can bring your
arguments to bear upon him in his presence, you may depend upon it he
will never talk himself into ordering your goods. If you can lead a
merchant to the point of saying, "Well, I'll take a memorandum of your
stock numbers and maybe I'll send in for some of these things later,"
and not get him to budge any further, and if you lend him your pencil
to write down that conditional order, you will be simply wasting a
little black lead and a whole lot of good time.

There are many more "Don'ts" for the salesman but I shall leave you to
figure out the rest of them for yourself--but just one more:

DON'T _be ashamed that you are a salesman!_

Salesmanship is just as much a profession as law, medicine, or
anything else, and salesmanship also has its reward.

Salesmanship requires special study, and the fact that the schools of
salesmanship which are now starting are patronized not only by those
who wish to become salesmen but also by those who wish to be more
successful in their work, shows that there is an interest awakening in
this profession.

There is a science of salesmanship, whether the salesman knows it or
not. If he will only get the idea that he can study his profession and
profit thereby, this idea in his head will turn out to be worth a
great deal to him.



A bunch of us sat in the Silver Grill of the Hotel Spokane where we
could see the gold fish and the baby turtles swimming in the pool of
the ferned grotto in the center of the room. This is one place toward
which the heart of every traveling man who wanders in the far
Northwest turns when he has a few days of rest between trips. Perhaps
more good tales of the road are told in this room than in any other in
the West. There is an air about the place that puts one at ease--the
brick floor, the hewn logs that support the ceiling and frame in the
pictures of English country life around the walls, the big,
comfortable, black-oak chairs, and the open fireplace, before which
spins a roasting goose or turkey.

"Yes, you bet we strike some queer merchants on the road, boys," said
the children's clothing man. "I ran into one man out west of here and
it did me a whole lot of good to get even with him. He was one of
those suspicious fellows that trusted to his own judgment about buying
goods rather than place faith in getting square treatment from the
traveling man. You all know how much pleasure it gives us to trump the
sure trick of one of this kind. I don't believe that merchants,
anyway, know quite how independent the traveling man feels who
represents a first class house and has a well established trade. Not
many of the boys, though, wear the stiff neck even though their lines
are strong and they have a good cinch on their business. There isn't
much chance, as a general thing, for any of us to grow a big bump of
conceit. A man who is stuck on himself doesn't last long, it matters
not how good the stuff is that he sells. Yet, once in a while he lifts
up his bristles.

"Well, sir, a few seasons ago I sold a man--you all know who I mean--
about half of his spring bill, amounting to $600. He gave the other
half to one of the rottenest lines that comes out of this country.
When I learned where my good friend had bought the other half of his
bill, I felt sure that the following season I would land him for his
whole order; but when I struck him that next season, he said, 'No,
I've bought. You can't expect to do business with me on the sort of
stuff that you are selling,' and he said it in such a mean way that it
made me mad as blazes. Yet I threw a blanket around myself and cooled
off. It always harms a man, anyway, to fly off the handle. I wasn't
sure of another bill in the town as it was getting a little late in
the season.

"After he had told me what he did, he started to wait on a customer
and I went to the hotel to open up. Just as I was coming through the
office I met another merchant in the town who handled as many goods as
my old customer, and I boned him right there to give me a look. 'All
right,' said he, 'I will, after luncheon.' Come down about half past
one when all the boys are back to the store and I'll run over with
you.' You know it sometimes comes easy like this.

"I sold him his entire line, and he was pleased with what he bought
because the old line he had been handling, he told me frankly, had not
been giving satisfaction.

"Just for curiosity's sake I dropped in on my old man. I wanted to
find out exactly what he was kicking about, anyway.

"'Now, what's the matter with this stuff I've sold you?' said I to

"'Well, come and see for yourself,' said he. 'Here, look at this
stuff,' and he threw out three or four numbers of boys' goods. 'That's
the punkest plunder,' said he, 'that I ever had in my house.'

"I at once saw that the goods he showed me were the other fellow's,
but I kept quiet for a while. 'Look at your bill,' said I. 'There must
be some mistake about this.' He turned to the bill from my house and
he couldn't find the stock numbers. 'Well, that's funny,' said he.
'Not at all,' I replied. 'Look at the other man's bill and see if you
don't find them.' "Well, sir, when he saw that the goods he was
kicking about had come from my competitor's house, he swore like a
trooper and said to me, 'Well, I will simply countermand this order I
have given and I'll go right up with you and buy yours.'

"'No, I guess not,' said I. 'When I came in this morning you condemned
me without giving me a full hearing and you weren't very nice about
it, either, so I've just placed my line with your neighbor. I will
show you the order I have just taken from him,' said I, handing over
my order book."

"Well, that must have made you feel good," spoke up the shoeman. "I
had pretty much the same sort of an experience this very season down
south here. I had been calling on a fair-sized merchant in the town
for a couple of years. The first time I went to his town I sold him a
handful. The next time I sold him another handful. The third time I
called on him he didn't give me any more business. I had just about
marked him down for a piker. You know how we all love those pikers,
anyway. These fellows who buy a little from you and a little from the
other fellow--in fact, a little from every good line that comes
around--just to keep the other merchants in the town from getting the
line and not giving enough to any one man to justify him in taking
care of the account or caring anything about it. He was one of those
fellows who would cut off his nose and his ears and burn his eyes out
just to spite his face.

"This trip, as usual, I sold him his little jag. I didn't say anything
to him, but thought it was high time I was going out and looking up
another customer. I finally found another man who gave me a decent
bill--between seven and eight hundred dollars--and he promised me that
he would handle my line right along if the stuff turned out all O.K.
He said he wasn't the biggest man in the town at that time but that
his business was growing steadily and that he had just sold a farm and
was going to put more money into the business and enlarge the store.
He struck me as being the man in the town for me.

"My piker friend had seen me walking over to the sample room with this
other man. When I dropped around, after packing up, to say good-bye,
he said to me, 'I saw you going over to your sample room with this man
down street here. I suppose, of course, you didn't sell him anything?'

"'To be sure I did,' said I. 'Why, why shouldn't I? You haven't been
giving me enough to pay my expenses in coming to the town, much less
to leave any profit for me.' "'Well, if you can't sell me exclusively,
you can't sell me at all,' said he, rearing back.

"'All right,' said I. 'I won't sell you at all if that's the case.
Here's your order. Do with it what you please. In fact, I won't even
grant you that privilege. I myself shall call it off. Here goes.' And
with this I tore up his order."

"Served him right," said the men's clothing man. "Did you ever know
Grain out on the Great Northern?"

"Sure," said the shoe man. "Who doesn't know that pompous know-it-

"Well, sir, do you know that fellow isn't satisfied with any one he
deals with, and he thinks that this whole country belongs to him. He
wrote me several seasons ago to come out to see him. He had heard one
of the boys speak well of my line of goods. I went to his town and
first thing I did was to open up. Then I went into his store and told
him I was all ready.

"'Well, I've decided,' said he, 'that I won't buy anything in your
line this season.'

"'You will at least come over and give me a look, in that I have come
over at your special request, will you not?"

"'NO, no! No is no with me, sir.'

"I couldn't get him over there. He went into his office and closed the
door behind him. I had hard lines in the town that season. I went up
to see another man and told him the circumstances but he said, 'No, I
don't play any second fiddle,' and do you know, I didn't blame him a

"I had made up my mind to mark this town off my list, but you know,
business often comes to us from places where we least expect it. This
is one of the things which make road life interesting. How often it
happens that you fully believe before you start out that you are going
to do business in certain places and how often your best laid plans
'gang aglee!'

"Another man in this town wrote in to the house (this was last season)
for me to come to see him. In his letter he said that he was then
clerking for Grain and he was going to quit there and start up on his
own hook. Somehow or other the old man got on to the fact that his
clerk was going to start up and that he had written in for my line. He
was just that mean that he wanted to put as many stones in the path of
his old clerk as he possibly could, and I don't know whether it was by
accident or design that Grain came in here to Spokane the same day
that his old clerk did, or not. At any rate, they were here together.

"Just about the time I had finished selling my bill to Grain's clerk,
the old man 'phoned up to my room that he would like to see me. This
time he was sweet as sugar. I asked him over the 'phone what he
wished. He said, 'I'd like to buy some goods from you. 'Don't care to
sell you,' I answered over the wire. His old clerk was right there in
the room then and he was good, too. He had got together two or three
well-to-do farmers in the neighborhood and had organized a big stock
company with the capital stock fully paid up. The whole country had
become tired of Grain and his methods, and a new man stood a mighty
good chance for success--and you know, boys, what a bully good
business he has built up.

"'Why, what's the mater?' 'phoned back the old man.

"'Just simply this: that I have sold another man in your town, and I
don't care to place my line with more than one,' I answered. 'Who Is
it?' said he. I told him.

"'Well, now, look here,' he came back at me. 'That fellow's just a
tidbit. He thinks he's going to cut some ice out there, but he won't
last long, and, do you know, if you'll just simply chop his bill off,
I'll promise to buy right now twice as much as he has bought from

"If there's a man on the road who is contemptible in the eyes of his
fellow traveling men, it is the one who will solicit a countermand;
and the merchant who will do this sort of a trick is even worse, you
know, boys, in our eyes.

"'What do you take me for?' I 'phoned back.

"I'm very glad to have a chance, sir, to give you a dose of your own
medicine. You can't run any such a sandy as this on me,' and I hung up
the 'phone on him without giving him the satisfaction of talking it
out any further. To be sure, I would not go down stairs to look him

"Well, that must have pleased the old man's clerk," said one of the

"Sure it did. He touched the button and made me have a two-bit
straight cigar on him."

"You got even with him all right," said one of my hat friends who was
in the party; but let me tell you how a merchant down in Arkansas once
fixed me and my house."

"Old Benzine?" said the shoeman.

"Sure; that's the fellow. How did you hear about it?"

"Well, my house got it the same way yours did."

"Ah, that fellow was a smooth one," continued the hat man. "He had
burned out so often that he had been nicknamed Benzine, but still he
had plenty of money and though my house knew he was tricky, they let
him work them. I didn't know anything about the old man's reputation
when I called on him. He had recently come down into Arkansas--this
was when I traveled down there--and opened up a new store in one of my
old towns. I didn't have a good customer in the town and in shopping
about fell in on Benzine.

"He kicked hard about looking at my goods when I asked him to do so.
He knew how to play his game all right. He knew that I would bring all
sorts of persuasions to bear upon him to get him started over to my
sample room, and just about the time he thought I was going to quit he
said, 'Vell, I look but I vont gif you an orter.' Of course that was
all I wished for. When a man on the road can get a merchant to say he
will look at his goods, he knows that the merchant wishes to buy from
somebody in his line and he feels that he has ninety-nine chances in a
hundred of selling him.

"That afternoon Old Benzine came over and he was mean. He tore up the
stuff and said it was too high priced, and everything of that kind. He
haggled over terms and started to walk out several times. He made his
bluff good with me and I thought he was 'giltedge.' Finally, though, I
sold him about a thousand dollars. The old man had worked me all
right. Now he began to put the hooks into the house.

"The same day that my order reached the house came a letter from
Benzine stating that he had looked over his copy and he wished they
would cut off half of several items on the bill. Ah, he was shrewd,
that old guy. He was working for credit. He knew that if he wrote to
have part of his order cut off, the credit man would think he was
good. My house couldn't ship the bill to him quickly enough, and they
wrote asking him to let the whole bill stand. He was shrewd enough to
tell them no, that he didn't wish to get any more goods than he could
pay for. That sent his stock with the house a sailing. But the old
chap wasn't done with them yet.

"About six weeks before the time for discounting he wrote in and said
that as his trade had been very good indeed they could ship additional
dozens on all the items that he had cut down to half-dozens, and in
this way he ran his bill to over $1,300."

"Well, you got a good one out of him that season, all right."

"Yes--where the chicken got the ax. As soon as Old Benzine had run in
all the goods he could, he did the shipping act. He left a lot of
empty boxes on his shelves but shipped nearly all of his stock to some
of his relatives, and then in came the coal-oil can once more."

"Didn't you get any money out of him at all?" one of the boys asked.

"Money?" said the shoeman. "Did you ever hear of anybody getting money
out of Old Benzine unless they got it before the goods were shipped?
If ever there was a steal-omaniac, he was it, sure!"

With this, one of the boys tossed a few crumbs to the gold fish. The
turtles, thinking he had made a threatening motion toward them,
quietly ducked to the bottom of the pool. The white-capped cook took
the turkey from before the fire. The water kept on trickling over the
ferns but its sound I soon forgot, as another hat man took up the

"Most merchants," said he, "are easy to get along with. They have so
many troubles thrown upon them that, as a rule, they make as few for
us as they can. Once in awhile we strike a merchant who gets smart--"

"But he doesn't win anything by that," observed the clothing man.

"No; you bet not! I used to sell a man down in the valley who tried a
trick on me. I had sold him for two seasons and his account was
satisfactory. Another man I knew started up in the town and he was
willing to buy my goods from me without the brands in them. I remained
loyal to my first customer in not selling the new man my branded
goods. In fact, about the only difference between a great many lines
of goods is the name, as you know, and a different name in a hat makes
it a different hat. In all lines of business, just as soon as one firm
gets out a popular style, every other one in the country hops right on
to it, so it is all nonsense for a salesman not to sell more than one
man in a town when the names in the goods are different, and the
merchant, when such is the case, has no kick coming on the man who
sells one of his competitors.

"Well, everything was all right until Fergus, customer No. 2, sent in
a mail order to the house. They, by mistake (and an inexcusable one--
but what can you expect of underpaid stock boys?) shipped out to him
some goods branded the same as those my first customer, Stack, had in
his house. Fergus wrote in to me and told me about the mistake. He
didn't wish to carry the branded goods any more than the other man
wished for him to do so, and asked that some labels be sent him to
paste over his boxes.

"I was in the house at the time and sent out several labels to Fergus.
At the same time I wrote to Stack, very frankly telling him of the
mistake and saying that I regretted it and all I could say about it
was that it was a mistake and that it would not occur again. Instead
of taking this in good faith, he immediately came out with a flaming

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    Should appreciate the following:
      _Leopard Hats,_ $2.00.
  Sold everywhere for $3.00 and $3.50.

"His goods had really cost him $24 a dozen and he was merely aiming to
cut under the other man's throat, but he didn't know how he was sewing
himself up. I wrote him:

"'My good friend: I have always believed that you felt kindly toward
me, and now I am doubly certain of it. All that I have a right to
expect of my best friends is that they will advertise my goods only so
long as they keep on carrying them--but you have done me even a
greater favor. You are advertising them for the benefit of another
customer, although you have quit buying from me. Let me thank you for
this especial favor which you do me and should I ever be able to serve
you in any way, personally, command me.'

"Well, how did he take that?" I asked.

"Oh, he didn't really see that he was advertising his competitor, and
he came back at me with this letter:

"'Your valued favor of the 3Oth to hand. I assure you that you owe me
no debt of gratitude as I am always glad to be of service to my
friends, and under no circumstances do I wish them to feel under
obligations to me. I would be only too glad to sell the Leopards at
one dollar each, provided they could be bought at a price lower than
that from you. But at present any one can purchase them from me at $2
each, which 'should be appreciated by every man in the county.' With
kindest regards, very truly yours.'

"Well, how did you fix him?" said the shoe man.

"Fix him? How did you know I did?"

"Oh, that was too good a chance to overlook."

"You bet it was. When I went into the house a few days afterwards, I
picked out some nice clean jobs in Leopards and I socked the knife
into the price so that Fergus could sell them at $1.50 apiece and make
a good profit. I then sicked him on to Stack and there was merry war.
In the beginning, as I fancied he would, Stack got a man in another
town to send in to my house and pay regular price for my goods and he
continued to sell them at $2 each. After he had loaded up on them
pretty well, my other man began to put them down to $1.75, $1.60,
$1.50, and forced my good friend to sell all he had on hand at a loss.
That deal cost him a little bunch."

"There's altogether too much of this throat-cutting business between
merchants. The storekeeper who can hold his own temper can generally
hold his own trade.

"Well, sir, do you know a fellow strikes a queer combination on the
road once in awhile. I think about the oddest deal I ever got into in
my life was in Kearney, Nebraska," said an old-timer.

"When I was a young fellow I went on the road. I had a clerical
appearance but it was enforced more or less by necessity. I hustled
pretty hard catching night trains and did any sort of a thing in order
to save time. I wore a black string necktie because it saved me a
whole lot of trouble. Once I sat down and calculated how much my
working time would be lengthened by wearing string ties and gaiter
shoes, and I'll tell you it amounts to a whole lot, to say nothing of
the strain on one's temper and conscience saved by not having to lace
up shoes in a berth.

"Well, I struck Kearney late one Saturday night--looking more or less
like a young preacher. Going direct to my friend, Ward, he greeted me
in a cordial, drawling sort of fashion and with very little trouble
(although that was my first time in the town) I made an engagement to
show him some straw hats.

"It is rather the custom when one gets west of Omaha to do business on
Sunday, and so habituated had I become to this practice that I was
rather surprised when my friend, Ward, said to me: 'Now, I'll see you
on Monday morning. Yes, on Monday morning. To-morrow, you know, is the
Sabbath, and you will find here at the hotel a nice, comfortable place
to stay. The cooking is excellent and the rooms are nice and tidy, and
I am sure that you will enjoy it. If I can do anything further to add
to your pleasure I shall be only too glad to have the opportunity.
Perhaps you will come up to our Sunday School to-morrow morning. I am
Superintendent and I shall see that good care is taken of you. May we
not expect you up?'

"Of course I wanted to get a stand in--I confess it--and, furthermore,
I had not forgotten my early training, and you know that boys on the
road are not such a bad tribe as we are ofttimes made out to be. So I
promised Brother Ward that I would go up the next morning.

"That part of it was all very good but how do you suppose I felt when,
after the lessons had been read, I was called upon to address the
Sabbath school? I was up against it, but being in I had to make good;
and it often happens that, when a fellow is in the midst of people who
assume that he is wise, wisdom comes to him.

"The night before I had come in on a freight. I was mighty tired, fell
asleep, and was carried past the station about a mile and a half. All
at once I woke up in the caboose--I had been stretched out on the
cushions--and asked the conductor how far it was to Kearney.
'Kearney?' said the conductor. 'Kearney? We are a mile and a half
past.' At the same time he sent out a brakeman who signaled down the
train. I was fully two miles from the depot when I got off, lugging a
heavy grip. I didn't know it was so far. I had just one thing to do,
that was to hoof it down the track. Scared? Bet your life! I thought
every telegraph pole was a hobo laying for me, clean down to the
station. Luckily there was an electric light tower in the center of
the town and this was a sort of guide-post for me and it helped to
keep up my courage.

"In the little talk that I had to make to the Sunday School, having
this experience of the night before so strong in my mind, I told them
of the wandering life I had to live, of how on every hand, as thick as
telegraph poles along the railway, stood dangers and temptations; but
that I now looked back and that my light tower had always been the
little Sunday School of my boyhood days. "When you get right down to
it, we all have a little streak of sentiment in us, say what you will,
when in boyhood we have had the old-time religion instilled into us.
It sticks in spite of everything. It doesn't at any time altogether

"Well, sir, I thought that I was all solid with Brother Ward. So the
next morning I figured out that, as I could not go west, where I
wished to, I could run up on a branch road and sandwich in another
town without losing any time. I went to him early Monday morning and
asked if it would be just as convenient for him to see me at three
o'clock that afternoon.

"'Oh, yes, indeed; that will suit me all the better,' said Brother
Ward. 'That will give me an opportunity to look over my stock of goods
and see just what I ought to order.'

"I made the town on the branch road and was back at 2:30. When I went
into my sample room, a friend of mine, a competitor, had just packed
up. 'Hello,' said I, 'how are things going, Billy?'

"'Oh, fairly good,' said he. 'I have just got a nice bill of straw
goods out of Ward, here. Whom do you sell?'

"'Well, that's one on me!' I exclaimed. Then I told my friend of my
engagement with Ward, and bought the cigars.

"But anyhow I opened up and went over to see Brother Ward. I got right
down to business and said: 'Brother Ward, my samples are open and I am
at your service.' 'Well, Brother,' said he, 'I have been looking over
my stock' (he had about a dozen and a half of fly-specked straw hats
on his show case, left over from the year before and not worth 40
cents), 'and I have about come to the conclusion that I'll work off the
old goods I have in preference to putting in any new ones. You see if I
buy the new ones they will move first and the old goods will keep
getting older.'--An old gag, you know!

"I saw that he was squirming, but I thought I would pin him down hard
and fast, so I asked him the pat question: 'Then you have not bought
any straw hats for this season's business, Brother Ward?' 'Nope,
nope,' said he--telling what I knew to be a point-blank lie.

"'Well, Brother Ward,' said I, 'we are both confronted by a Christian
duty. A fellow competitor and traveling man told me just a little
while ago that he had sold you an out-and-out order of straw hats. Now
I know that he is not telling the truth because you, a most reputable
citizen of this town and a most worthy Superintendent of the Sunday
School, have told me out-and-out that you have not bought any goods.
Now, to-night, when you go home, do you not think that it is your
duty, as well as mine, to ask the Lord to have mercy on and to forgive
the erring brother who has told such a falsehood? I am sure that had
he been trained to walk in the straight and narrow path he would not
have done so. Your prayers, I am sure, will avail much.'

"When Brother Ward saw that I had him he colored from the collar up,
and when I left him and said 'Peace be with thee!' his face was as red
as the setting sun."

"I have a customer," said the furnishing goods man, "who beats the
world on complaints. Every time I go to see him he must always tell me
his troubles before I can get around to doing business with him. If
you put business at him point-blank, it isn't very long before he
twists the talk. So now I usually let him tell his troubles before I
say anything to him about business. The last time I went in to see
him--he is Sam Moritsky, in the clothing business down in Los Angeles
--I said, 'Hello, Sam, how are you?' He answered:

"'Der Talmud id say "Happy ees de man who ees contentet," but it says
in anodder place, "Few are contentet." I'm a seek man. De trobble in
dis world ees, a man vants bread to leeve on ven he hasn't got dot.
And ven he gets der bread he es sotisfite only a leetle vile. He soon
vants butter on id. Ven he gets der butter in a leetle vile he vants
meat, and den he vants vine and a goot cigar, and ven he gets all dese
t'ings, he gets seek. I am a seek man.

"'Vonce I vanted a house on Cap'tol 'ell (Capitol Hill)--seex t'ousand
tollars it costet. Eef I got id feeften 'undret--could haf borrowed
dot much--I vould haf bought id, but I couldn't get dot feeften
'undret, and now I am glat. It vould have costet seexty fife tollars a
mont to leeve and den I haf to geeve a party and a sopper and
somet'ings and I make a beeg show,--a piano for my dotter, a fine
dress for my vife, t'eater and all dot, and first t'ing I know,
_muhulla_ (I go broke)!

"'Vell, it's all ride eef I wasn't a seek man. Dey say dese ees a goot
country. I say no. My fadder's family vants to come to dese country. I
say no. In Russia a man he half a goot time. Vriday night he close de
store at seex o'glock. He puts on his Sonday clothes, beeg feast all
day Sonday, dance, vine, lots of goot t'ings. Veek days he geds down
to beesness at eight o'clock--at ten o'glock he has coffee and den in
a leetle vile he goes home and eats lonch. Den he takes a nap. De
cheeldon, dey valk on der toes t'rough de room. "Papa's asleep," dey
say. Seex o'glock he come home, beeg deener, he smokes hees pipe, goes
to bet,--and de same t'ing over again.

"'I vork so hard in dese contry. I am a seek man. Here I vork sefen
days in de veek from sefen in de morning to elefen at night, and
sometimes twelf. Only vonce last year I go to t'eater in de afternoon.
Ven I com home I catch 'ell from my vife. She say, "You safe money,
Sam, and we get oud of dese bondage," and I say I must haf a leetle
recreations. Sunday all day I keep open. Von Sunday night I say I go
home and take my vife and my cheeldon and I go to t'eater. Ven I go to
put de key into de door here comes a customer een, and I sell 'eem
tventy-fife tollars--feeften tollars brofit. I vould haf lostet dot
feeften tollars and vat I vould haf paid to go to t'eater eef I had
closed op.

"'Besides, here at dis place all de family helps. Even my leetle goil,
she goes oud to buy me a cigar von day, and she ask de man dot sells
de cigar to buy somet'ing from papa. He vants some boys' shoes. I haf
none. She goes across de streedt and buys a pair und sells dem for a
tollar--feefty-five cents brofit. I gif my leetle goil a neeckle and I
keep de feefty cents. Dots de vay it goes. I could not do dot eef I
leefed on Cap'tol 'ell.

"'But den I am a seek man, but I am better off as de man who leefs on
Cap'tol 'ell. He is so beesy. He eats his deener in de store. He has
so many trobbles because he vants to make hees fortune beeger. Vat's
de use? Here I am contentet. I go op stairs and notting botters me
vile I eat deener. Now, I say vat de Talmud say ees right. Happy ees
de man who ees contentet. Eet vould be all righdt eef I vas not a seek

"When he got through with this speech I chewed the rag with him about
business for half an hour, as I always had to do, finally telling him,
as a last inducement which I always threw out, that I had some lots
'to close.' This was the only thing that would make him forget that he
was 'a seek man.' And when I get right down to it, I believe I get
more actual enjoyment out of selling Sam than from any customer I

"Speaking of your man Sam," said one of the hat men, "reminds me of a
customer I once had with the same name. But my Sam was a bluffer. He
was one of the kind that was always making kicks that he might get a
few dollars rebate. I stood this sort of work for a few seasons but I
finally got tired of it and, besides, I learned that the more I gave
in to him the more I had to yield. A few years ago when I was
traveling in Wisconsin, I went into his store and before he let go of
my hand he began: 'Ah, that last bill was a holy terror. Why doesn't
your house send out good goods? Why, I'll have to sell all those goods
at a loss, and I need them, bad, too. They aint no use of my tryin' to
do no more business with you. I like to give you the business, you
know, but I can't stand the treatment that the house is giving me.
They used to send out part of their goods all right, but here lately
it is getting so that every item is just rotten.'

"I let Sam finish his kick and, as I started out the door I merely
said, 'All right, Sam, I'll see you after awhile and fix this up all
right. I want to go down and work on my samples a little.'

"As I saw him pass on the other side of the street going home to
dinner, I slid up to his store and took all his last shipment from his
shelves and stacked them in the middle of the floor. About the time I
had finished doing this he came back.

"'Why, what are you doing?' said he.

"'Well, I'll tell you, Sam. I don't want you to have anything in the
house that doesn't suit you, and I would a great deal rather than you
would fire all this stuff back to the house. Look up and see the
amount of freight charges you paid on them. Meantime I'll run down to
the hotel and get my book and make you out a check for whatever it
comes to. Come on down to the corner with me anyway, Sam. Let's have a
cigar and take the world easy. I'm not going out tonight.'

"Sam went down to the corner with me. In a few minutes I returned to
the store with my check book in hand. As I went into his store Sam was
putting my goods back on the shelves.

"'Got your samples open?' he said.

"'Sure, Sam,' said I. 'Did you suppose I was going to let you bluff me
this way?' And that was the last time he ever tried to work the rebate
racket on me."

"So long as a bluffer is warm about it," said the shoe man, "it's all
right; but I do hate to go up against one of those cold bloods, even
if he isn't a bluffer."

"That depends," said the clothing man. "There's one man I used to call
on and every time I went to see him I felt like feeling of his pulse
to see if it were beating. If I had taken hold of his wrist I would
not have been surprised to find that the artery was filled with fine
ice. Gee! but how he froze me. Somehow I could always get him to
listen to me, but I could never get him to buy.

"One day, to my surprise, the minute I struck him he said, 'Samples
open?' And when I told him 'Yes' he had his man in my department turn
over a customer that he was waiting on, to another one of the boys,
and took him right down to the sample room. I never sold an easier
bill in my life, so you see a cold blood is all right if he freezes
out the other fellow."

The goose that had twirled so long before the pine log blaze was now
put before us. The Spanish Senor with his violin started the program,
and our tales for the evening were at an end.



To hire and handle salesmen is the most important work of the head of
the house. When a man goes out on the road to represent a firm, his
traveling expenses alone are from five to twenty-five dollars a day,
and sometimes even fifty. His salary is usually as much as his
expenses, if not more. If a salesman does not succeed, a great portion
of his salary and expenses is a dead loss, and, further, the firm is
making a still greater loss if he does not do the business. In fact,
if a poor man, succeeding a good one, falls down, his house can very
easily lose many thousands of dollars by not holding the old trade of
the man whose place he took. If all the wholesale houses in Chicago,
say, which have a good line of salesmen were, at the beginning of the
year, to lose all of those salesmen and replace them with dummies,
three-fourths of these firms would go broke in from six months to
three years. This is how important the salesman is to his firm.

I put hiring and handling of salesmen before having a strong line of
goods, because if the proper salesmen are hired and are handled right,
they will soon compel the house to put out the right line of goods.
Just as a retail merchant should consult with his clerks about what he
should buy, so, likewise, should the head of the wholesale house find
out from his men on the road what they think will sell best. The
salesman rubs up against the consumer and knows at first hand what the
customer actually wants.

When the head of a house has a man to hire, the first man he looks for
is one who has an established trade in the territory to be covered--a
trade in his line of business. A house I have in mind which, ten years
ago, was one of the top notchers in this country, has gone almost to
the foot of the class because the "old man" who hired and handled the
salesmen in that house died and was succeeded by younger heads not
nearly so wise.

The _still hunt_ was the old man's method. When he needed a salesman
for a territory he would go out somewhere in that territory himself
and feel about for a man. He would usually make friends with the
merchants and find out from them the names of the best men on the
road and his chances for getting one of them. The merchants, you know,
can always spot the bright salesmen. When they rub up against them a
few times they know the sort of mettle they are made of. The merchant
appreciates the bright salesman whether he does business with him or
not and the salesman who is a man will always find welcome under the
merchant's roof. Salesmen are the teachers of the merchant, and the
merchant knows this. Whenever he is planning to change locations,
build a new store, move to some other town, put in a new department,
or make any business change whatsoever, it is with traveling men that
he consults. They can tell him whether or not the new location will be
a good one and they can tell him if the new department which he is
figuring on starting is proving profitable over the country in
general. And, on the other hand, when the traveling man is expecting
to make a change of houses, he often asks the advice of the merchant.

One of the biggest clothing salesmen in the United States once told me
how this very old man hired him. Said Simon, "When I started out on
the road my hair was moss. I almost had to use a horse comb to currie
it down so I could wear my hat. Heavens, but I was green! I had been a
stock boy for a kyke house and they put me out in Colorado. Don't know
whether I have made much progress or not. My forefathers carried stuff
on their backs; I carry it in trunks. Although changing is often bad
business, the best step I ever made was to leave the little house and
go with a bigger one. I had been piking along and while I was giving
my little firm entire satisfaction, I was not pleasing myself with
what I was doing. I could go out in the brush with my line, riding on
a wagon behind bronchos, where a first-class man wouldn't, and dig up
a little business with the _yocles,_ but I couldn't walk into a
_mocher_ (big merchant) and do business with him. Yet, when I first
started out I was fool enough to try it and I made several friends
among the bigger merchants of Denver. But this did me no harm.

"One day, when I went in to see one of these big men in Denver, he
said to me, 'Look here, Simon, you're a mighty good fellow and I'd
like to do business with you, but you know I can't handle any goods
from the concern you represent. Why don't you make a change?' I said
to him, 'Well, I'm really thinking about it, but I don't know just
where I can get in.' He said, 'I think I can give you a good tip. Old
man Strauss from Chicago is out here looking for a man for this
territory. He was in to see me only yesterday and told me he was on
the lookout for a bright fellow. He's stopping up at the Windsor and
I'd advise you to go over and get next if you can.'

"'Thank you very much,' said I; and I went over to the Windsor--I was
putting up there--and asked the head clerk, who was a good friend of
mine, where Strauss was.

"'Why, Simon,' said he, 'he's just gone down to the depot to take the
D. & R. G. for Colorado Springs, but you will have no trouble finding
him if you want to see him. They're not running any sleepers on the
train. It's just a local between here and Pueblo. He wears gold-rimmed
spectacles, is bald, and smokes all the time.'

"I called a cab, rushed down to the depot, checked my trunks to
Colorado Springs, and jumped on the train just as she was pulling out.
I spotted the old man as I went into the coach. He was sitting in a
double seat with his feet up on the cushions. I got a whiff of his
'Lottie Lee' ten feet away. Luckily for me, all the seats in the car
except the one the old man had his feet on, were occupied, so I
marched up and said, 'Excuse me, sir, I dislike tol make you
uncomfortable,' and sat down in front of him.

"The old man saw that I was one of the boys and, as he wanted to pump
me, he warmed up and offered me one of his Lotties. I shall never
forget that cigar. Smoke 'em in Colorado,--smell 'em in Europe! I
managed to drop it on the floor in a few minutes so that I could
switch onto one of mine. I pulled out a pair of two-bit-straights and
passed one over, lighting the other for myself.

"'Dot vas a goot seecar,' said the old man. 'You are on der roat?'

"'Yes,' said I.

"'Vat's your bees'ness?'

"'I'm selling clothing.'

"'Vat? Veil, I am in dot bees'ness myself.'

"'Who do you travel for?' said I, playing the innocent.

"'I'm not on de roat,' said the old man. 'I am just out on a leetle
trip for my healt. I am a monufacturer. Who do you trafel for?'

"I told him and then tried to switch the conversation to something
else. I knew the old man wouldn't let me do it.

"'V'ere do you trafel?' said he.

"'Oh, Colorado, Utah, and up into Montana and Wyoming,' I answered.

"The old man took his feet off the cushions and his arms from the back
of his seat. I thought I had him right then.

"'Dot's a goot contry,' said he. 'How long haf you been in deese
beezness?' 'Five years,' said I. 'Always mit de same house?' 'Yes,'
said I, 'I don't believe in changing.' The old man had let his cigar
go out and he lit a match and let it burn his finger. I was sure that
he was after me then.

"I didn't tell him that I had been a stock boy for nearly four years
and on the road a little over one. It is a good sign, you know, if a
man has been with a house a long time.

"'How's beezness this season?' said he.

"'Oh, it's holding up to the usual mark,' I said like an old timer.

"'Who do you sell in Denver?' said he.

"That was a knocker. 'Denver is a hard town to do business in,' said
I. 'In cities, you know, the big people are hard to handle and the
little ones you must look out for.' That was another strong point; I
wanted him to see that I didn't care to do business with shaky

"'Vell,' said he after a while, 'you shouldt haf a stronger line and
den you could sell de beeg vons.'

"'Yes, but it is a bad thing for a man to change,' said I. I knew that
I was already hired and I was striking him for as big a guaranty as I
could get, and my game worked all right because he asked me to take
supper with him that night in the Springs and before we left the table
he hired me for the next year.

"I came very near not fulfilling my contract, though, because after I
had promised the old man I would come to him he said, 'Shake and haf a
seecar,' and I had to smoke another Lottie Lee."

It is on the still hunt that the best men are trapped. Experienced
salesmen--good ones--always have positions and are not often looking
for jobs. To get them the wholesaler must go after them and the one
who does this gets the best men. Hundreds of applications come in
yearly to every wholesale house in America. These come so often that
little attention is paid to them. When a wise house wishes salesmen,
they either put out their scouts or go themselves directly after the
men they want. And the shrewd head of a house is not looking for cheap
men; he knows that a poor man is a great deal more expensive than a
good one. Successful wholesalers do not bat their eyes at paying a
first-class man a good price.

Recently I knew of one firm that had had a big salesman taken from
them. What did they do to get another to take his place? The manager
did not put out some cheap fellow, but he went to another man who,
although he was unfamiliar with the territory, was a good shoe man,
and guaranteed him that he would make four thousand dollars a year
net, and gave him a good chance on a percentage basis of making six
thousand. The experienced man in a line, although he has never
traveled over the territory for which the wholesaler wishes a man,
stands next in line for an open position. Houses know that a man who
has done well on one territory in a very little while will establish a
trade in another. One house that I know of has, in recent years,
climbed right to the front because it would not let a thousand dollars
or more stand in the way of hiring a first-class man. The head of this
house went after a good salesman when he wanted one.

This is the way in which the head of a marvelously successful
manufacturing firm hired many of their salesmen: They have this man
talk to four different members of the firm single-handed; these men
put all sorts of blocks in the way of the man whom they may possibly
hire. They wish to test the fellow's grit. One successful salesman
told me that when they hired him he talked to only one man, and only a
few minutes; this man took him to the head of the house and said,

"Look here; there's no use of your putting this man through the
turkish bath any longer; he is a man that I would buy goods from if I
were a merchant."

"Well, I'll take him, then," said the president.

If I may offer a word of advice to him who hires the salesmen I would
say this: Try to be sure when you hire a man to hire one that has been
a success at whatever he has done. While it is best to get a man who
is acquainted with your line and with the territory over which he is
to travel, do not be afraid to put on a man who knows nothing of your
merchandise and is a stranger to every one in the territory you wish
to cover. If he has already been a successful salesman he will quickly
learn about the goods he is to sell, and after one trip he will be
acquainted with the territory.

The main thing for a salesman to know when you hire him is not how the
trains run, not what your stuff is--he will soon learn this--_but
how to approach men! and gain their confidence!_ And it is needless
for me to say that the one way to do this is to BE SQUARE!

A house does not wish a man like a young fellow I once knew of. He had
been clerking in a store and had made application to a Louisville
house for a position on the road. When he talked the matter over with
the head of the house--it was a small one and always will be--they
would not offer him any salary except on a commission basis, but they
agreed to allow him five dollars a day for traveling expenses. He was
to travel down in Kentucky. Five dollars a day looked mighty big to
the young man who had been working for thirty dollars a month. He
figured that he could hire a team and travel with that, and by
stopping with his kin folks or farmers and feeding his own horses,
that he could save from his expense money at least three dollars a

His territory was down in the Coon Range country where he was kin to
nearly everybody. He lasted just one short trip.

A young fellow who once went to St. Louis is the sort of a man that
the head of a house is looking for. When this young fellow went to
call he put up a strong talk, but the 'old man' said to him:

"Come in and see us again. We haven't anything for you now."

That same afternoon this fellow walked straight into the old man's
office again, with a bundle under him arm.

"Well, I am here," said he, "and I've brought my old clothes along.
While I wish to be a salesman for you, put me to piling nail kegs or
anything you please, and don't pay me a cent until you see whether or
not I can work."

The old man touched a button calling a department manager and said to

"Here, put this young man to work. He says he can pile nail kegs."

In a couple of days the department manager went into the office again
and said to the head of the house, "That boy is piling nail kegs so
well that he can do something else."

That same young fellow went from floor to floor. In less than two
years he was on the road and made a brilliant record for the house.
To-day he is general salesman for the state of Texas for a very large
wholesale hardware house and is making several thousand dollars each

If a wholesaler cannot find a man who is experienced in his line in
the territory that he wishes to cover, and cannot get a good
experienced road man at all, the next best ones he turns to are his
own stock boys. In fact, the stock is the training school for men on
the road.

A bright young man, wherever he may be, if he wishes to get on the
road, should form the acquaintance of traveling men, because lightning
may sometime strike him and he will have a place before he knows it. A
gentleman who is now manager of a large New York engraving house once
told me how he hired one of his best salesmen.

"When I was on the road my business used to carry me into the
colleges. Our house gets up class invitations and things of that kind.
Now I got this man in this way," said he: "I especially disliked going
to the Phillips-Exeter Academy at Exeter, New Hampshire, owing to the
poor train service and worse hotel accommodation.

"The graduating class at this academy had a nice order to place, and I
called with original designs and prices. The committee refused to
decide until they had received designs and prices from our
competitors, so there was nothing else to do but bide-a-wee. When I
called I made it a point to make friends with the chairman, who hailed
from South Dakota and was all to the good. He was bright and
distinctly wise to his job. By a little scouting I found out when the
last competing representative was to call and speak his little piece.

"The next day I took a 'flyer,' that is, called without making an
appointment. I arranged to arrive at my man's room in the afternoon
when his recitations were over. His greeting was characteristic of the
westerner,--as if we had known one another all our lives. He was a
runner and did the one hundred yards dash in ten seconds flat and was
the school's champion. I talked athletics to beat the band and got him
interested. He was unable to get the committee together until seven
o'clock that evening, which meant that I would have to stay in the
town over night, as the last train went to Boston around 6:30 o'clock.
There was nothing else to do but stay, as you naturally know what bad
business it would be to leave a committee about to decide.

"I saw a platinum photograph of myself sleeping in that third-class
hotel. I kept on talking athletics, however, and the chairman was good
enough to ask me to dine with him. After dinner we played billiards
and he beat me. At 6:45 we adjourned to his room. He and his committee
excused themselves to hold their meeting in a room on the floor below.
I was smoking one of the chairman's cigars, and was congratulating
myself that things looked encouraging. The cigar was a good one, too.
In half an hour the committee returned. The fellows lined up on the
sofa, side by side, while the chairman straddled his chair and
addressed me as follows:

"'Well, Mr. Rogers, we have discussed the matter thoroughly and as
impartially I think as any committee of fellows could do, who had the
interest of their class seriously at heart. In a way we regret that
you took the trouble to call, because, to speak frankly, we would
rather write what we have to say, than to be placed in the somewhat
embarrassing position of telling you orally.'

"My cigar, somehow or other, no longer tasted good, and I was holding
it in an apathetic sort of a way, not caring whether it went out or
not. The bum hotel loomed up in front of me also. Continuing, the
chairman said:

"'We have received something like six other estimates from different
firms, and I must say some of their designs are "peaches." There are
two firms whose prices are lower than yours, too. We like your designs
very much, but I think if you place yourself in our position you will
see we have no other alternative but to place the order with another

"He shifted his position uneasily and added with that final air we
know so well, 'I want to thank you for your interest and trouble and
we certainly appreciate the opportunity of seeing what you had to

"This was a nice sugar coat on a bitter pill, but I didn't want to
take my medicine. I stood up, prepared to make a strong and expiring
effort and to explain what an easy thing it was for a firm to quote a
low price, etc., when the chairman came over quickly with extended
hand and said, 'Now, we understand how you feel, old man, but there is
no use prolonging this matter, which I assure you we regret more than
we express. However,' turning to the other fellows, 'I think we are
all agreed on one thing, and that is we are willing to make an
exception in this case, and,'--here the corners of his mouth twitched
and his eyes brightened up, 'we will give you the order on one
condition.' I quickly asked what the condition was. 'And that is,' all
the other fellows were standing up, smiling, 'we will give you the
order if you'll take us to the show to-night!'

"It was well done and a clever piece of acting.

"The show, by the way, held in the town opera house, was a thrilling
melodrama, and positively, it was so rotten it was good. The heroine
was a girl who sold peanuts in one of the Exeter stores, and the
villain was the village barber; I have forgotten who the hero was, but
he was a 'bird.' The best part of the play was near the end. The
villain was supposed to have murdered the hero by smashing him on the
head with an iron bar and then pushing him into the river. At a
critical stage, the hero walked serenely on the scene and confronted
the villain. The villain assumed the good old stereotyped posture and
shouted out with a horrified expression, 'Stand back, stand back, your
hands _is_ cold and slimy!' That busted up the show, as the audience,
composed largely of the Academy boys, stood up as one and yelled. They
finally started a cheer, 'Stand back, stand back, your hands _is_ cold
and slimy!' They repeated this cheer vigorously three times, and then
crowded out of the house. That cheer can be heard at the Academy to-

"My chairman friend insisted upon putting me up for the night in a
spare room in the dormitory; this saved my life.

"The next morning I joined the boys in chapel, and was very much
surprised to find the entire student body and faculty clapping their
hands when I became seated. This was certainly a new one on me. I
turned to my chairman friend; he was grinning broadly as if he enjoyed
the situation. What was I expected to do, for Heaven's sake--get up
and make a speech? My mind was relieved by the President addressing
the boys about alien topics. I learned afterwards that it was an old
custom with Phillips-Exeter to applaud when a stranger entered the
chapel. This is especially appropriate in the case of an old 'grad'
returning, but certainly disturbing to an outsider.

"I did further business with my friend, also, when he was at Harvard.
He did such a smooth job on me that when I became manager of my house
I sent for him when we had the first opening on the road. I asked him
how he would like to come with us. He came. He has been with our
company now for two years and is getting on fine."

College boys as a rule are not looking for positions on the road, but
if more of them would do so there would be more college graduates
scoring a business success and more traveling men with the right sort
of educational equipment. But they should begin young. While traveling
on the road they would find many opportunities for self-advancement.
The traveling man who will try can make almost anything he wishes of

The head of the house must be on the lookout for the floater. In every
city there are many professional job finders. About the only time they
ever put up a good, strong line of conversation is when they talk for
a job. After they get a good guaranteed salary they go to sleep until
their contract is at an end, and then they hunt for another job. These
are the chaps that the "old man" must look out for with a sharp eye.

When it is known that a good position in a house is open, scores of
applications, by mail and in person, come in for the place from all
kinds of men. I knew of one instance where a most capable head of a
house thought well of one salesman who applied by letter. Before fully
making up his mind about him, however, he sent a trusted man to look
him up. He found that the man who made the application, while a
capable salesman and a gentleman, was unfortunately a drunkard and a

Of this kind of man there are not so many. A man on the road who
"lushes" and fingers chips does not last long. To be sure, most men on
the road are cosmopolitan in their habits and they nearly all know,
perhaps better than any other class of men, when to say, "no."

No less important than hiring salesmen is the _handling_ of them.
The house spoils for itself many a good man after it gets him. The
easiest way is by writing kicking letters. The man on the road is a
human being. Generally he has a home and a family and friends. He is
working for them, straining every nerve that he may do something for
the ones he cherishes. He takes a deep and constant interest in his
business. He feels that he is a part of the firm he works for and
knows full well that their interest is his interest and that he can
only succeed for himself by making a success for the firm. When,
feeling all of this within himself, he gets a kicking letter because
he has been bold enough to break some little business rule when he
knows it should have been done, he grows discouraged.

And, alas, for the comfort of the traveling man! there are too few
houses that have due respect for his feelings. The traveling man is on
the spot. He knows at first hand what should be done. His orders
should be supreme. His work for a year should be considered as a
whole. If, at the end of his contract, what he has done is not
satisfactory, let him be told so in a lump. Continual petty hammering
at him drives him to despair.

For example: I know of one firm in the wholesale hat business, that
raised hob in a letter with their best man because he would, in
selling dozen lots to customers, specify sizes on the goods that his
customer wished,--a most absurd thing for the house to do. The
merchant must, of course, keep his own stock clean and not become
over-stocked on certain sizes. If he has been handling a certain
"number" and has sold out all of the small sizes, only the large ones
remaining, it would be foolish for him to buy regular sizes and get in
his lot the usual proportion of large ones. All he needs and will need
for several months, perhaps, will be the smaller run of sizes. Now,
the salesman on the spot and the merchant know just what should be
ordered, and if the house kicks on the salesman on this point, as did
this house, they act absurdly.

Not only do too many houses write kicking letters to their men on the
road, but fail to show the proper appreciation for their salesmen's
efforts to get good results. When a salesman has done good work and
knows it, he loves to be told so, craves in the midst of his hard work
a little word of good cheer. And the man handling salesmen who is wise
enough to write a few words of encouragement and appreciation to his
salesmen on the road, knows not how much these few words help them to
succeed in greater measure. It is a mistake for the "Old Man" to feel
that if he writes or says too many kind words to his salesmen, he will
puff them up. This is the reason many refrain from giving words of
encouragement. The man on the road, least of all men, is liable to get
the swelled head. No one learns quicker than he that one pebble does
not make a whole beach.

Another way in which a house can handle its salesmen badly is by not
treating his trade right. Many firms that carry good strong lines
persistently dog the customer after the goods have been shipped.
Whenever a house abuses its customers it also does a wrong to its
salesmen. I know of one firm, I will not say just where, that has had
several men quit--and good salesmen, too--in the last two or three
years, because this firm did not treat its salesmen's customers right.
For this reason, and this reason only, the salesmen went to other
firms, that knew how to handle them and their customers as men. With
their new houses they are succeeding.

Too many heads of wholesale firms get "stuck on themselves" when they
see orders rolling in to them. They fail to realize the hard work
their _salesmen_ do in getting these orders. I know of one firm
that almost drove one of the best salesmen in the United States away
from it for the reasons that I have given. They dogged him, they
didn't write him a kind word, they badgered his trade, they thought
they had him, hard and fast. Finally, however, he wrote to them that,
contract or no contract, he was positively going to quit. Ah, and then
you should have seen them bend the knee! This man traveled for a Saint
Louis firm. His home was in Chicago, and when he came in home from his
trip his house wrote him to come down immediately. He did not reply,
but his wife wrote them--and don't you worry about the wives of
traveling men not being up to snuff--that he had gone to New York.
Next morning a member of the firm was in Chicago. He went at once to
call upon their salesman's wife. He tried to jolly her along, but she
was wise. He asked for her husband's address and she told him that the
only address he had left was care of another wholesale firm in their
line in New York,--she supposed he could reach her husband there. Then
the Saint Louis man was wild. He put the wires to working at once and
telegraphed: "By no means make any contract anywhere until you see us.
Won't you promise this? Letter coming care of Imperial."

Then he was sweet as pie to the salesman's wife, took her and her
daughter to the matinee, a nice luncheon, and all that. In a few days
the salesman I speak of went down to Saint Louis. The members of his
firm took off their hats to him and raised his salary a jump of $2,400
a year.

[Illustration: "He tried to jolly her along, but she was wise."]

How much trouble they would have saved themselves, and how much better
feeling there would have been if they had only handled this man right
_in the beginning!_

There are some heads of firms, however, who do know how to handle
their salesmen. One of the very best men in the United States is head
of a wholesale hardware firm. He has on the road more than a hundred
men and they all fairly worship him. I remember many years ago seeing
a letter that he had written to the boys on the road for him. He had
been fishing and made a good catch. He sent them all photographs of
himself and his big fish and told the boys that they mustn't work too
hard, that they were all doing first rate, and that if they ever got
where there was a chance to skin him at fishing, to take a day off and
that he would give prizes to the men who would out-catch him. This is
just a sample of the way in which he handles his men. Occasionally he
writes a general letter to his men, cheering them along. He never
loses a good man and has one of the best forces of salesmen in
America. They have made his success and he knows it and appreciates

Another head of a firm who handles his salesmen well is in the
wholesale shoe business. Twice each year he calls all of his salesmen
together when he is marking samples. He asks them their opinion about
this thing or that thing and _listens to what his men have to
say._ He has built up the largest shoe business in the United
States. After the marking of samples is all over, he gives a banquet
to his men and has each one of them make a little speech. He himself
addresses them, and when they leave the table there is a cordial
feeling between the head of the house and his traveling men.

He also puts wonderful enthusiasm into his men. Here are some of his
mottoes: "Enthusiasm is our great staple," "Get results," "No slow
steppers wanted around this house," "If this business is not your
business, send in your trunks," "All at it, always at it, brings
success." He has taught his salesmen a college yell which runs like
this: "Keep-the-qual-ity-up." Only a few years ago the watchword of
this house was: "Watch us--Five millions" (a year). Now it is: "A
million a month," and by their methods they will soon be there.

This same man has the keenest appreciation of the value of a road
experience. Some time ago he was in need of an advertising manager. If
he had followed the usual practice he would have gone outside the
house and hired a professional "ad manager." But he had a notion that
the man who knew enough about salesmanship and about his special goods
to sell them on the road could "make sentiment" for those same goods
by the use of printers' ink. Therefore he put one of his crack
salesmen into the position and now pays him $6,000 a year. And the man
has made good in great shape.

Nor does he stop with promoting men from the ranks of his
organization. If a salesman in his house makes a good showing, he
fastens him to the firm still tighter by selling to him shares of good
dividend-paying stock.

He knows one thing that too few men in business do know: That a man
can best help himself by helping others!



With all of his power of enduring disappointment and changing a shadow
to a spot of sunshine, there yet come days of loneliness into the life
of the commercial traveler--days when he cannot and will not break the
spell. There is a sweet enchantment, anyway, about melancholy; 'tis
then that the heart yearns for what it knows awaits it. Perhaps the
wayfarer has missed his mail; perhaps the wife whom he has not seen
for many weeks, writes him now that she suffers because of their
separation and how she longs for his return.

I sat one day in a big red rocking chair in the Knutsford Hotel, in
Salt Lake. I had been away from home for nearly three months. It was
drawing near the end of the season. The bell boys sat with folded
hands upon their bench; the telegraph instrument had ceased clicking;
the typewriter was still. The only sound heard was the dripping of the
water at the drinking fount. The season's rush was over. Nothing moved
across the floor except the shadows chasing away the sunshine which
streamed at times through the skylight. Half a dozen other wanderers--
all disconsolate--sat facing the big palm in the center of the room.
No one spoke a word. Perhaps we were all turning the blue curls of
smoke that floated up from our cigars into visions of home.

The first to move was one who had sat for half an hour in deep
meditation. He went softly over to the music box near the drinking
fount and dropped a nickel into the slot. Then he came back again to
his chair and fell into reverie. The tones of the old music box were
sweet, like the swelling of rich bells. They pealed through the white
corridor "Old Kentucky Home." Every weary wanderer began to hum the
air. When the chorus came, one, in a low sweet tenor, sang just

      "Weep no more, my lady,
      "Weep no more to-day;
      "We will sing one song, for my old Kentucky home,
      "For my old Kentucky home far away."

When the music ceased he of meditation went again and dropped in
another coin. Out of the magic box came once more sweet strains--this
time those of Cayalleria Rusticana, which play so longingly upon the
noblest passions of the soul.

The magic box played its entire repertoire, which fitted so well the
mood of the disconsolate listeners. The first air was repeated, and
the second. This was enough--too much. Quietly the party disbanded,
leaving behind only the man of meditation to listen to the dripping of
the fount.

Not only are there moments of melancholy on the road, but those of
tragedy as well. The field of the traveling man is wide and, while
there bloom in it fragrant blossoms and in it there wax luscious
fruits, the way is set with many thorns.

During the holidays of 1903 I was in a western city. On one of these
days, long to be remembered, I took luncheon with a young man who had
married only a few months before. This trip marked his first
separation from his wife since their wedding. Every day there came a
letter from "Dolly" to "Ned"--some days three. The wife loves her
drummer husband; and the most loved and petted of all the women in the
world is the wife of the man on the road. When they are apart they
long to be together; when they meet they tie again the broken threads
of their life-long honeymoon.

As we sat at the table over our coffee a bell boy brought into my
friend letter "97" for that trip. His wife numbered her letters.
Reading the letter my friend said to me: "Jove, I wish I could be at
home in Chicago to-day, or else, like you, have Dolly along with me.
Just about now I would be going to the matinee with her. She writes me
she is going to get tickets for to-day and take my sister along, as
that is the nearest thing to having me. Gee, how I'd love to be with

After luncheon we went to our sample rooms, which adjoined. Late in
the afternoon I heard the newsboys calling out: "Extra! Extra! All
about the * * *" I know not what. My friend came into my room.

"What is that they are calling out?" he said.

We listened. We heard the words: "All about the Great Chicago Theater

Three steps at a time we bounded down stairs and bought papers. When
my friend saw the head-lines he exclaimed: "Hundreds burned alive in
the Iroquois Theater. Good God, man, Dolly went to that theater to-

"Pray God she didn't," said I.

We rushed to the telegraph office and my friend wired to his father:
"Is Dolly lost? Wire me all particulars and tell me the truth."

We went to the newspaper office to see the lists of names as they came
in over the wire, scanning each new list with horrified anxiety. On
one sheet we saw his own family name. The given name was near to, but
not exactly, that of his wife.

May a man pray for the death of his near beloved kin--for the death of
one he loves much--that _she_ may be spared whom he loves more? Not
that, but he will pray that both be spared.

Back to the hotel we ran. No telegram. Back to the newspaper office
and back to the hotel again.

A messenger boy put his hand on the hotel door. Three leaps, and my
friend snatched the message from the boy. He started to open it. He
faltered. He pressed the little yellow envelope to his heart, then
handed it to me.

"You open it and pray for me," he said.

The message read: "All our immediate family escaped the horrible
disaster. Dolly is alive and thankful. She tried but could not get
tickets. Thank God."

All do not escape the calamity of death, however, as did my friend
Ned. The business of the man on the road is such that he is ofttimes
cut off from his mail and even telegrams for several days at a time.
Again, many must be several days away from their homes utterly unable
to get back. When death comes then it strikes the hardest blow.

A friend of mine once told me this story:

"I was once opened up in an adjoining room to a clothing man's. When
he left home his mother was very low and not expected to live for a
great while; but on his trip go he must. He had a large family, and
many personal debts. He could not stay at home because no one else
could fill his place on the road. The position of a traveling man, I
believe, is seldom fully appreciated. It is with the greatest care
that, as you know, a wholesale house selects its salesmen for the
road. When a good man gets into a position it is very hard--in fact
impossible--for him to drop out and let some one else take his place
for one trip even. Of course you know there isn't any place that some
other man cannot fill, but the other man is usually so situated that
either he will not or does not care to make a change.

"My clothing friend was at Seattle on his trip. His home, where his
mother lay sick, was in Saint Louis--nearly four days away. The last
letter he had received from home told him that his mother was sinking.
The same day on which he received this letter a customer came into his
room about ten o'clock--and he was a tough customer, too. He found
fault with everything and tore up the samples. He was a hard man to
deal with. You know how it is when you strike one of these suspicious
fellows. He has no confidence in anybody and makes the life of us poor
wanderers anything but a joyous one.

"Under the circumstances, of which he said nothing, my clothing friend
was not in the best mood. He could not help thinking of home and
feeling that he should be there; yet, at the same time, he had a duty
to do. He simply must continue the trip. He had just taken on his
position with a new firm and needed to show, on this trip, the sort of
stuff in him. He had been doing first rate; still, he must keep it up.

"I happened to drop in, as I was not busy for a few minutes, while he
was showing goods. I never like to go into a man's sample room while
he is waiting on any one. Often a new man on the road gets in the way
of doing this and doesn't know any better. Selling a bill of goods,
even to an old customer, takes a whole lot of energy. No man likes to
be interrupted while he is at it. When it comes to persuading a new
man to buy of you, you have, frequently, a hard task. There are many
reasons why a customer should not leave his old house. Maybe he is
still owing money to the firm he has been dealing with and needs
credit. Maybe the salesman for that firm is a personal friend. These
are two things hard to overcome--financial obligations and friendship.

"At any rate, my clothing friend was having much difficulty. He was
making the best argument he could, telling the customer it mattered
not what firm he dealt with, _that_ firm was going to collect a
hundred cents on the dollar when his bill was due; and that any firm
he dealt with would be under obligations to him for the business he
had given to it instead of his being under obligations to the firm. He
was also arguing against personal friendship and saying he would very
soon find out whether the man he was dealing with was his friend or
not if he quit buying goods from him. He was getting down to the hard
pan argument that the merchant, under all circumstances, should do his
business where he thought he could do it to best advantage to himself.

"The merchant would not start to picking out a line himself, so my
friend laid on a table a line of goods and was, as a final struggle,
trying to persuade the merchant to buy that selection, a good thing to
do. It is often as easy to sell a merchant a whole line of goods as
one item. But the merchant said no.

"Just as I started out of the room, in came a bell boy with a
telegram. My clothing friend, as he read the message, looked as if he
were hitched to an electric wire. He stood shocked--with the telegram
in his hand--not saying a word. Then he turned to me, handed me the
message and, without speaking, went over, laid down on the bed, and
buried his face in a pillow. Poor fellow. I never felt so sorry for
anybody in my life! The message told that his mother was dead.

"I asked the stubborn customer to come into the next room, where I
showed him the message.

"'After all, a "touch of pity makes the whole world akin",' the
merchant said to me:

"'Just tell your friend, when he is in shape again to talk business,
that he may send me the line he picked out and that I really like it
first rate."

Sometimes the tragedies of the road show a brighter side. Once, an old
time Knight of the Grip, said to me, as we rode together:

"Do you know, a touching, yet a happy thing, happened this morning
down in Missoula?

"I was standing in my customer's store taking sizes on his stock. I
heard the notes of a concertina and soon, going to the front door, I
saw a young girl singing in the street. In the street a good looking
woman was pulling the bellows of the instrument. Beside her stood two
girls--one of ten, another of about fourteen. They took turns at
singing--sometimes in the same song.

"All three wore neat black clothes--not a spark of color about them
except the sparkling keys of the concertina. They were not common
looking, poorly clad, dirty street musicians. They were refined, even
beautiful. The little group looked strangely out of place. I said to
myself: 'How have these people come to this?'

"How those two girls could sing! Their voices were sweet and full. I
quit my business, and a little bunch of us--two more of the boys on
the road having joined me--stood on the sidewalk.

"The little girl sang this song," continued my companion, reading from
a little printed slip:

   "Dark and drear the world has grown as I wan-der
        all a-lone,
      And I hear the breezes sob-bing thro' the pines.
    I can scarce hold back my tears, when the southern
        moon ap-pears,
      For 'tis our humble cottage where it shines;
    Once again we seem to sit, when the eve-ning lamps
        are lit,
      With our faces turned to-ward the golden west,
    When I prayed that you and I ne'er would have to
        say 'Good-bye,'
      But that still to-gether we'd be laid to rest.

"As she sang, a lump kind of crawled up in my throat. None of us

"She finished this verse and went into the crowd to sell printed
copies of their songs, leaving her older sister to take up the chorus.
And I'll tell you, it made me feel that my lot was not hard when I saw
one of those sweet, modest little girls passing around a cup, her
mother playing in the dusty street, and her sister singing,--to just
any one that would listen.

"The chorus was too much for me. I bought the songs. Here it is:


    "Dear old girl, the rob-in sings a-bove you,
     Dear old girl, it speaks of how I love you,
     The blind-ing tears are fall-ing,
     As I think of my lost pearl,
     And my broken heart is call-ing,
     Calling you, dear old girl.

"Just as the older sister finished this chorus and started to roll
down the street a little brother, who until now had remained in his
baby carriage unnoticed, the younger girl came where we were. I had to
throw in a dollar. We all chipped in something. One of the boys put
his fingers deep into the cup and let drop a coin. Tears were in his
eyes. He went to the hotel without saying a word.

"The little girl went away, but soon she came back and said: 'One of
you gentlemen has made a mistake. You aimed, mama says, to give me a
nickel, but here is a five-dollar gold piece.'

"'It must be the gentleman who has gone into the hotel,' said I.

"Then I'll go find him,' said the little girl. 'Where is it?'

"Well, sir, what do you suppose happened? The little girl told the man
who'd dropped in the five, how her father, who had been well to do,
was killed in a mine accident in Colorado and that although he was
considerable to the good, creditors just wiped up all he had left his
family. The mother--the family was Italian--had taught her children
music and they boldly struck out to make their living in the streets.
It was the best they could do.

"The man who had put in the five was a jewelry salesman from New York.
While out on a trip he had lost his wife and three children in the
Slocum disaster. He just sent the whole family,--the mother, the two
sisters, and the baby--to New York and told them to go right into his
home and live there--that he would see them through.

"I was down at the depot when the family went aboard, and it was
beautiful to see the mother take that man's hand in both of hers and
the young girls hug him and kiss him like he was their father."

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Tales of the Road" ***

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