A few minutes later found Matt on
his way to the Columbus Hotel. The Bowery was
crowded with all classes of people, some just returning
from work, and others out sightseeing and buying, but
the boy had no difficulty in making his way along
at a rapid gait. In less than a quarter of an
hour he reached the hotel and entered the office.
He was about to accost the clerk at the desk, when
somebody tapped him on the shoulder, and turning he
saw Andrew Dilks.
“I have been watching for you,”
said the young man. “I was a little afraid
you might disappoint me.”
“I was detained,” said
Matt. “But I am at your service now.
Where shall we go?”
“My room is rather small and
warm, but it is more private than the reading-room
down here,” returned Andrew Dilks. “Suppose
we go up there. You can sit by the window and
get what little breeze there is.”
They started for the stairs (there
was no elevator, as in all better-class hotels), and
were soon comfortably seated in Andrew Dilks’
room, an apartment on the third floor, in the rear.
“It’s not a very elegant
place,” remarked the young man apologetically,
“but it’s cheap, and that’s what
I wanted. A fellow can’t spend his money
and save it, too.”
“You are right there.”
“As I said before, old Gulligan
only gave me ten dollars a week, and out of that I
had to pay for many articles that got broken.
He put off what he could on me, whether it was my
fault or not.”
“I believe you said you had
a hundred and thirty-five dollars?”
“Yes. It’s not much,
but it’s something. I wish you had as much.
I’ve figured it that we might start with a single
horse and an ordinary covered wagon on two hundred
and seventy dollars, and still keep twenty dollars
in cash for emergencies.”
“I have an idea I can raise the amount.”
“You can? Good enough!”
“But, first, I want you to give
me some of the particulars of your scheme.”
“I’ll do that willingly.
I want you to understand every detail before you invest.
Then you will know just what to expect.”
Andrew Dilks brought out a sheet of
paper and a pencil and began to do some figuring.
“We will put down our combined
capital at two hundred and fifty dollars,” he
said. “Now, what can we get a good horse
“Two hundred dollars!” laughed Matt.
“You are right, but we must get one cheaper.”
“Supposing we look around for
a bargain at one hundred dollars, then?”
“That is nearer the figure.
We do not want a fancy animal nor a particularly fast
one. A horse that can pull our wagon ten to twenty
miles a day once or twice a week will answer.”
“Yes; we can trade him off for
something better later on.”
“Now, I’ll put down a
hundred for the horse. The wagon ought not to
cost over fifty or sixty dollars.”
“Make it seventy-five for wagon
and harness,” said Matt.
“It will foot up to two hundred
with rubber blankets and extras.”
“I suppose it will. Well,
even that will leave us with fifty dollars for stock.”
“Will that be enough?”
“We’ll make it do.
If we run out I can leave you with the turnout, and
come back to New York and buy more, and have it shipped
as freight to the nearest railroad station.”
“I see. I suppose they
do not do any trusting with auctioneers?”
“Not with such traveling auctioneers
as we will be. I would rather buy for cash, anyway,
for you can buy much cheaper.”
“I suppose you can. What
would you take along, and where would you go?”
“My idea for the balance of
this summer would be to strike out through New York
State down into Pennsylvania, and then across to New
Jersey. Then we can rent a store in some small
town for the winter, especially for the holidays,
and start out early in the spring for the New England
This plan met with Matt’s approval,
and he asked what goods Andrew Dilks thought would
be the most profitable to take along.
“I have a list here in my pocket,”
returned the young man, bringing it forth. “You
see, it includes fancy articles and statuary, besides
cheap watches, table cutlery, spoons, imitation gold
rings, such musical instruments as accordions, banjos
and violins, albums, razors, whips, and a dozen others.
That ought to meet the wants in almost any small town.”
“Can you play the musical instruments?”
“I can play the accordion — not
very well, but enough to show the instrument off.”
“I can play the banjo, and also
the harmonica. You had better lay in a stock
of mouth harmonicas.”
“I certainly will if you can
play them. They will sell readily if they are
shown off. It is good you can play the banjo.
We can play that and the accordion whenever we want
to open up, and thus attract a crowd. Some use
a bell, but music, even when it is poor, is better.
Sometimes I used to sing a comic song or two for old
Gulligan when we were on the road, but I didn’t
much care to do it.”
“No, I wouldn’t like that,” said
“Gulligan sold lots of what
are called ‘fake’ goods,” went on
Andrew Dilks. “But my intention is to sell
honest goods and sell them for just what they are.
We will perhaps not make as much, but people will
be better pleased, and they will not want to run us
out of town if we ever go back to the same place again.”
“I am with you there,”
said Matt heartily. “I was afraid you might
want to palm off a lot of trash for first-class goods
and I didn’t want to be a party to any such
They continued to talk the subject
over for fully an hour, and by that time both understood
each other thoroughly, and had decided, if Matt could
raise the necessary cash, to go into the scheme without
“You see, we ought to do all
the traveling possible before cold weather sets in,”
said Andrew Dilks. “It is in the villages
where the most money is to be made, especially now,
when the farmers are about done harvesting and have
some ready cash.”
“As I am out of work, I can
start the moment I get the money,” said Matt.
“And even if I don’t get that other money,
I am willing to put in every cent of what I have now.”
On the following morning Matt was
surprised to receive another visit from Ida Bartlett,
who had eaten an unusually early breakfast so that
she might come over before going to work.
“I knew you would be anxious
to hear from me,” she said. “It is
all right. The others are willing to let you
have the money for a year at the regular bank interest,
three per cent.”
“Thank you, and I’ll try
to pay it back before the year is out,” returned
Matt, much relieved.
“And you have arranged to go
into the scheme? It is all satisfactory?”
“Good! I wish you every success.”