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A Man of Samples. Something about the men he met "

A MAN OF SAMPLES

SOMETHING ABOUT THE MEN HE MET "ON THE ROAD"

By Wm. H. Maher

Author of "On The Road To Riches"

CHAPTER I.

"When do you start, Tom?"

"At midnight."

"Well, good-by; sock it to 'em; send us in some fat orders."

"I'll do it, or die; good-by."

And then I sat down to think it all over. Our traveling man was off on a wedding tour, and I had agreed to take his place for this one trip. As the hour drew near for me to start, my courage proportionately sank, until I now heartily wished that I had never consented to go. What if I failed? I had been stock clerk and house salesman for three years; I had been successful; my position was a good one, and one that would grow better; there was nothing to be made by success on the road, as I had no intention of continuing there, and failure might be the means of making my place in the house less secure. What an infernal fool I was! If there had been any way under heaven for me to get out of it I would have hailed the opening with delight. I would have blessed any accident that would have been the means of sending me to bed for a week or two, and I would have taken the small-pox thankfully. But there was no release. Like an ass, as I was, I had agreed to take Mallon's trip, and I must go ahead if it made or unmade me.

I ate my supper with a heavy heart, bade my landlady and her daughters a solemn good-by, then went to the theater to forget my sorrows. At midnight I was checking my sample-trunk for Albany, and persuading the baggagemaster that 218 pounds were exactly 120. I succeeded; but it took three ten-cent cigars to do it.

The reason I call the town Albany is because that is not its name, and I may as well say here that as I write about actual incidents I don't propose to "lay myself liable" by giving the name of any town or any dealer. If I call him Smith it will naturally follow that he was not Smith.

If Albany had been a hundred or more miles away I would have taken a berth in the sleeper, but we were due there at 2 o'clock, so I dozed and nodded and swore to myself during the two hours' ride. I wanted to get there, but I dreaded it, too. Stories I had heard traveling men tell about poor beds, mean men, dirty food, and unprincipled competitors all came back to me in a distorted fashion, and if I didn't have a nightmare I must have experienced a slight touch of delirium tremens.

"How much of a town is Albany?" I asked the conductor.

"No town at all; just a crossing."

"No hotel there?"

"Oh, yes; they call it a hotel."

This was exactly what I expected. Probably no one would be up and I could walk around the town for the next four hours. What an idiot I was! By thunder, I would break my leg or my arm the first thing I did and get out of this foolish--


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