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Abe and Mawruss by Montague Glass

The canvasser said as he puffed at his cigar


"Yes,

Mr. Perlmutter," he went on, "as I was saying, such a topic as the restriction of immigration would embarrass even an experienced speaker." He paused and cleared his throat impressively. "Now, I have here," he said, exploring the capacious pockets of his overcoat, "a work entitled 'A Quarter of a Century in Congress,' by the Honourable Lucius J. Howell, which, gentlemen, is issued upon subscription only, in half morocco or crushed levant at a hitherto unheard-of price."

Abe ceased mopping his brow and turned a terrible glare upon the book canvasser.

"What!" he roared. "A book agent?"

Once more he jumped to his feet. "Out!" he bellowed. "Out from my office, you dirty loafer!"

The book agent scowled and replaced the bound dummy in his pocket.

"With a high-grade selling proposition like this, Mr. Potash," he said, "you should be careful of your language."

"Mawruss," Abe cried, "what the devil do you mean letting in a feller like this?"

"What d'ye mean, letting him in?" Morris retorted. "Did I tell Miss Cohen she should show him in?"

"Don't quarrel on my account, gentlemen," the canvasser said as he puffed at his cigar. "I shall call again when you're not so busy."

He passed

out of the office with a graceful gesture of farewell, and once more Abe and Morris sat down on the edge of their chairs. It was not for long, however; and this time, without any announcement, a thick-set gentleman with carefully trimmed beard and moustache stood in the doorway.

"Good afternoon, gentlemen," he said--and Abe and Morris literally sprang into the middle of the office floor.

"Mr. Steuermann?" Abe gasped, extending his hand.

"My name is Mr. Goldstein," the visitor replied, "and I represent the Lilywhite Dress Shield Company."

He proceeded no further, however, for Morris led him by the shoulder to the elevator shaft and pointed to a notice reading:

HOURS FOR SALESMEN 8 to 9:30

Morris returned to the office and hardly was he seated in his chair when, for the third time, the doorway framed a visitor.

"Mr. Potash?" the newcomer asked timidly. He was a short, slender man, past middle age, clad in a shabby overcoat, half threadbare, and a soft felt hat of a dingy, weatherbeaten appearance.

"_Nu!_" Abe growled. "What is it now?"

"Mr. Potash," the stranger continued, "I called to see you at the request of Mr. Geigermann. My name is Steuermann." Abe essayed to rise, but his knees would not support him and he waved his hand feebly to a chair that Morris dragged forward.

"Mr. Steuermann," Morris said, "you are coming up here to see us when we could much better afford it if we would go down and see you."

"Why, gentlemen, it was no inconvenience for me," Steuermann replied. "I am on my way home."

"God would bless you for it, anyway!" Abe declared fervently; and Steuermann blushed.

"Now, Mr. Potash," he protested, "I am not here for compliments. I've come to see what we can all do for this poor fellow. I'm a little late, because I was waiting for a report from my lawyers."

"Your lawyers!" Abe exclaimed. "Why, we already hired Henry D. Feldman."


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