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The Big-Town Round-Up by William MacLeod Raine

Bernstein marveled at the discrimination of his customer


"I

reckon money grows on trees in New York," he told himself aloud with a grin.

Broadway fascinated him. He followed it uptown toward Longacre Circle. The street was as usual in a state of chronic excavation. His foot slipped and he fell into a trench while trying to cross. When he emerged it was with a pound or two of Manhattan mud on his corduroy suit. He looked at himself again with a sense that his garb did not quite measure up to New York standards.

"First off I'm goin' to get me a real city suit of clothes," he promised himself. "This here wrinkled outfit is some too woolly for the big town. It's a good suit yet--'most as good as when I bought it at the Boston Store in Tucson three years ago. But I reckon I'll save it to go home in."

To a policeman directing traffic at a crossing he applied for information.

"Can you tell me where there's a dry-goods store in this man's town?" he asked. "I fell into this here Broadway and got kinda messed up."

"Watchawant?"

"Suit o' clothes."

The traffic cop sized him up in one swift glance. "Siventh Avenue," he said, and pointed in that direction.

Clay took his advice. He stopped in front of a store above which was the legend "I. Bernstein, Men's Garments."

A small man with sharp little eyes and well-defined nose was standing in the doorway.

"Might you would want a good suit of qvality clothes, my friendt," he suggested.

"You've pegged me right," agreed the Westerner with his ready smile. "Lead me to it."

Mr. Bernstein personally conducted his customer to the suit department. "I wait on you myself on account you was a stranger to the city," he explained.

The little man took a suit from a rack and held it at arm's length to admire it. His fingers caressed the woof of it lovingly. He evidently could bring himself to part with it only after a struggle.

"Worsted. Fine goods." He leaned toward the range-rider and whispered a secret. "Imported."

Clay shook his head. "Not what I want." His eyes ranged the racks. "This is more my notion of the sort of thing I like." He pointed to a blue serge with a little stripe in the pattern.

The eyes of Mr. Bernstein marveled at the discrimination of his customer. "If you had taken an advice from me, it would have been to buy that suit. A man gets a chance at a superior garment like that, understan' me, only once in a while occasionally."

"How much?" asked Lindsay.

The dealer was too busy to hear this crass question. That suit, Clay gathered, had been the pride of his heart ever since he had seen it first. He detached the coat lovingly from the hanger and helped his customer into it. Then he fell back, eyes lit with enthusiastic amazement. Only fate could have brought together this man and this suit, so manifestly destined for each other since the hour when Eve began to patch up fig leaves for Adam.

"Like a coat of paint," he murmured aloud.

The cowpuncher grinned. He understood the business that went with selling a suit in some stores. But it happened that he liked this suit himself. "How much?" he repeated.

The owner of the store dwelt on the merits of the suit, its style, its durability, the perfect fit. He covered his subject with artistic thoroughness. Then, reluctantly, he confided in a whisper the price at which he was going to sacrifice this suit among suits.


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