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A Circumlocutory Egg Pedler by Jonathan F. Kelley


We have been, frequently, much amused with the man[oe]uvring of some folks in trade. It's not your cute folks, who screw, twist and twirl over a smooth fourpence, or skin a flea for its hide and tallow, and spoil a knife that cost a shilling,—that come out first best in the long run. Some folks have a weakness for beating down shop-keepers, or anybody else they deal with, and so far have we seen this infirmity carried, that we candidly believe we've known persons that would not stop short of cheapening the passage to kingdom come, if they thought a dollar and two cents might be saved in the fare! Now the rationale of the matter is this:—as soon as persons establish a reputation for meanness—beating down folks, they fall victims to all sorts of shaves and short commons, and have the fine Saxony drawn over their eyes—from the nose to the occiput; they get the meanest “bargains,” offals, &c., that others would hardly have, even at a heavy discount. Then some folks are so wonderful sharp, too, that we wonder their very shadow does not often cut somebody. A friend of ours went to buy his wife a pair of gaiters; he brought them home; she found all manner of fault with them; among other drawbacks, she declared that for the price her better half had given for the gaiters, she could have got the best article in Waxend's entire shop! He said she had better take them back and try. So she did, and poor Mr. Waxend had an hour of his precious time used up by the lady's attempt to get a more expensive pair of gaiters at a less price than those purchased by her husband. Waxend saw how matters stood, so he consented to adopt the maxim of—when Greek meets Greek, then comes the tug of war!

“Now, marm,” said he, “here is a pair of gaiters I have made for Mrs. Heavypurse; they are just your fit, most expensive material, the best article in the shop; Mrs. Heavypurse will not expect them for a few days, and rather than you should be disappointed, I will let you have them for the same price your husband paid for those common ones!”

Of course Mrs. ——took them, went home in great glee, and told her better half she'd never trust him to go shopping for her again—for they always cheated him. When the husband came to scrutinize his wife's bargain, lo! he detected the self-same gaiters—merely with a different quality of lacings in them! He, like a philosopher, grinned and said nothing. That illustrates one phase in the character of some people who “go it blind” on “bargains” and now, for the pith of our story—the way some folks have of going round “Robin Hood's barn” to come at a thing.

The other day we stopped into a friend's store to see how he was getting along, and presently in came a rural-district-looking customer.

“How'd do?” says he, to the storekeeper, who was busy, keeping the stove warm.

“Pretty well; how is it with you?”

“Well, so, so; how's all the folks?”

“Middling—middling, sir. How's all your folks?”

“Tolerable—yes, tolerable,” says the rural gent. “How's trade?” he ventured to inquire.

“Dull, ray-ther dull,” responded the storekeeper. “Come take a seat by the stove, Mr. Smallpotatoes.”

“Thank you, I guess not,” says the ruralite. “Your folks are all stirring, eh?” he added.

“Yes, stirring around a little, sir. How's your mother got?” the storekeeper inquired, for it appeared he knew the man.

“Poorly, dreadful poorly, yet,” was the reply. “Cold weather, you see, sort o' sets the old lady back.”

“I suppose so,” responded our friend; and here, think's we, if there is anything important or business like on the man's mind, he must be near to its focus. But he started again—

“Ain't goin' to Californy, then, are you?” says Mr. Smallpotatoes.

“Guess not,” said our friend. “You talked of going, I believe?”

“Well, ye-e-e-s, I did think of it,” said the rural gent; “I did think of it last fall, but I kind o' gin it up.”

Here another hiatus occurred; the rural gent walked around, viewed the goods and chattels for some minutes; then says he—

“Guess I'll be movin',” and of course that called forth from our friend the venerated expression—

“What's your hurry?”

“Well, nothing 'special. Plaguy cold winter we've got!”

“That's a fact,” answered the storekeeper. “How's sleighing out your way—good?”

“First rate; I guess the folks have had enough of it, this winter, by jolly. I hev, any how,” says the rural gent. “Trade's dull, eh?”

“Very—very slack.”

“Dullest time of the year, I reckon, ain't it?”

“Pretty much so, indeed,” says the storekeeper.

“I don't see's Californy goold gets much plentier, or business much better, nowhere.”

To this bit of cogent reason our friend replied—

“Not much—that's a fact.”

“I 'spect there's a good deal of humbug about the Californy goold mines, don't you?”

“The wealth of the country or the ease of coming at it,” said the storekeeper, “is no doubt exaggerated some.”

“That's my opinion on't too,” said the agriculturist. “Some make money out there, and then agin some don't; I reckon more don't than does.” To this bright inference the storekeeper ventured to say—

“I think it's highly probable.”

“All your folks are lively, eh?” inquired Smallpotatoes.

“Pretty much so,” said the storekeeper; “troubled a little with influenza, colds, &c.; nothing serious, however.”

“Well, I'm glad to hear it.”

“All your folks are well, I believe you said?” the storekeeper, in apparent solicitude, inquired, to be reassured of the fact.

“Ye-e-e-s, exceptin' the old lady.”

Another pause; we began to feel convinced there was speculation in the rural gent's “eyes,” and just for the fun of the thing—as we “were up” to such dodges—we determined to hang on and see how he come out.

“Well, I declare, I must be goin'!” suddenly said the rural gent, and actually made five steps towards the handle of the door.

“Don't be in a hurry,” echoed the storekeeper. “When did you come in town?”

“I come in this mornin'.”

“Any of the folks in with you?”

“No; my wife did want to come in, but concluded it was too cold; 'spected some of your folks out to see us durin' this good sleighing—why didn't you come?”

“Couldn't very well spare time,” said the storekeeper.

“Well, we'd been glad to see you, and if you get time, and the sleighin' holds out, you must come and see us.”

“I may—I can't promise for certain.”

Now another pause took place, and thinks we—the climax has come, surely, after all that small talk. The country gent walked deliberately to the door; he actually took hold of the knob.

“You off?” says the storekeeper.

“B'lieve I'll be off”—opening the door, then rushes back again—semi-excited by the force of some pent up idea, says the rural gent—“O! Mr. ——, don't you want to buy some good fresh eggs?”

“Eggs? Yes, I do; been looking all around for some fresh eggs; how many have you?”

“Five dozen; thought you'd want some; so I come right in to see!”

We nearly catapillered! After all this circumlocution, the man came to the pint, and—sold his eggs in two minutes!


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