Potash & Perlmutter - Their Copartnership Ventures and Adventures
by Montague Glass
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Abe shook his head.

"You got it wrong, Mawruss. You must be mistaken," he concluded. "She eloped with Gubin."


"You carry a fine stock, Mr. Sheitlis," Abe Potash exclaimed as he glanced around the well-filled shelves of the Suffolk Credit Outfitting Company.

"That ain't all the stock I carry," Mr. Sheitlis, the proprietor, exclaimed. "I got also another stock which I am anxious to dispose of it, Mr. Potash, and you could help me out, maybe."

Abe smiled with such forced amiability that his mustache was completely engulfed between his nose and his lower lip.

"I ain't buying no cloaks, Mr. Sheitlis," he said. "I'm selling 'em."

"Not a stock from cloaks, Mr. Potash," Mr. Sheitlis explained; "but a stock from gold and silver."

"I ain't in the jewelry business, neither," Abe said.

"That ain't the stock what I mean," Mr. Sheitlis cried. "Wait a bit and I'll show you."

He went to the safe in his private office and returned with a crisp parchment-paper certificate bearing in gilt characters the legend, Texas-Nevada Gold and Silver Mining Corporation.

"This is what I mean it," he said; "stock from stock exchanges. I paid one dollar a share for this hundred shares."

Abe took the certificate and gazed at it earnestly with unseeing eyes. Mr. Sheitlis had just purchased a liberal order of cloaks and suits from Potash & Perlmutter, and it was, therefore, a difficult matter for Abe to turn down this stock proposition without offending a good customer.

"Well, Mr. Sheitlis," he commenced, "me and Mawruss Perlmutter we do business under a copartnership agreement, and it says we ain't supposed to buy no stocks from stock exchanges, and——"

"I ain't asking you to buy it," Mr. Sheitlis broke in. "I only want you to do me something for a favor. You belong in New York where all them stock brokers is, so I want you should be so kind and take this here stock to one of them stock brokers and see what I can get for it. Maybe I could get a profit for it, and then, of course, I should pay you something for your trouble."

"Pay me something!" Abe exclaimed in accents of relief. "Why, Mr. Sheitlis, what an idea! Me and Mawruss would be only too glad, Mr. Sheitlis, to try and sell it for you, and the more we get it for the stock the gladder we would be for your sake. I wouldn't take a penny for selling it if you should make a million out of it."

"A million I won't make it," Mr. Sheitlis replied, dismissing the subject. "I'll be satisfied if I get ten dollars for it."

He walked toward the front door of his store with Abe.

"What is the indications for spring business in the wholesale trade, Mr. Potash," he asked blandly.

Abe shook his head.

"It should be good, maybe," he replied; "only, you can't tell nothing about it. Silks is the trouble."

"Silks?" Mr. Sheitlis rejoined. "Why, silks makes goods sell high, Mr. Potash. Ain't it? Certainly, I admit it you got to pay more for silk piece goods as for cotton piece goods, but you take the same per cent. profit on the price of the silk as on the price of the cotton, and so you make more in the end. Ain't it?"

"If silk piece goods is low or middling, Mr. Sheitlis," Abe replied sadly, "there is a good deal in what you say. But silk is high this year, Mr. Sheitlis, so high you wouldn't believe me if I tell you we got to pay twicet as much this year as three years ago already."

Mr. Sheitlis clucked sympathetically.

"And if we charge the retailer twicet as much for a garment next year what he pays three years ago already, Mr. Sheitlis," Abe went on, "we won't do no business. Ain't it? So we got to cut our profits, and that's the way it goes in the cloak and suit business. You don't know where you are at no more than when you got stocks from stock exchanges."

"Well, Mr. Potash," Sheitlis replied encouragingly, "next season is next season, but now is this season, and from the prices what you quoted it me, Mr. Potash, you ain't going to the poorhouse just yet a while."

"I only hope it that you make more profit on the stock than we make it on the order you just give us," Abe rejoined as he shook his customer's hand in token of farewell. "Good-by, Mr. Sheitlis, and as soon as I get back in New York I'll let you know all about it."

Two days after Abe's return to New York he sat in Potash & Perlmutter's show-room, going over next year's models as published in the Daily Cloak and Suit Record. His partner, Morris Perlmutter, puffed disconsolately at a cigar which a competitor had given him in exchange for credit information.

"Them cigars what Klinger & Klein hands out," he said to his partner, "has asbestos wrappers and excelsior fillers, I bet yer. I'd as lief smoke a kerosene lamp."

"You got your worries, Mawruss," Abe replied. "Just look at them next year's models, Mawruss, and a little thing like cigars wouldn't trouble you at all. Silk, soutache and buttons they got it, Mawruss. I guess pretty soon them Paris people will be getting out garments trimmed with solitaire diamonds."

Morris seized the paper and examined the half-tone cuts with a critical eye.

"You're right, Abe," he said. "We'll have our troubles next season, but we take our profit on silk goods, Abe, the same as we do on cotton goods."

Abe was about to retort when a wave of recollection came over him, and he clutched wildly at his breast pocket.

"Ho-ly smokes!" he cried. "I forgot all about it."

"Forgot all about what?" Morris asked.

"B. Sheitlis, of the Suffolk Credit Outfitting Company," Abe replied. "He give me a stock in Pittsburg last week, and I forgot all about it."

"A stock!" Morris exclaimed. "What for a stock?"

"A stock from the stock exchange," Abe replied; "a stock from gold and silver mines. He wanted me I should do it a favor for him and see a stock broker here and sell it for him."

"Well, that's pretty easy," Morris rejoined. "There's lots of stock brokers in New York, Abe. There's pretty near as many stock brokers as there is suckers, Abe."

"Maybe there is, Mawruss," Abe replied, "but I don't know any of them."

"No?" Morris said. "Well, Sol Klinger, of Klinger & Klein, could tell you, I guess. I seen him in the subway this morning, and he was pretty near having a fit over the financial page of the Sun. I asked him if he seen a failure there, and he says no, but Steel has went up to seventy, maybe it was eighty. So I says to him he should let Andrew Carnegie worry about that, and he says if he would of bought it at forty he would have been in thirty thousand dollars already."

"Who?" Abe asked. "Andrew Carnegie?"

"No," Morris said; "Sol Klinger. So I says to him I could get all the excitement I wanted out of auction pinochle and he says——"

"S'enough, Mawruss," Abe broke in. "I heard enough already. I'll ring him up and ask him the name of the broker what does his business."

He went to the telephone in the back of the store and returned a moment later and put on his hat and coat.

"I rung up Sol, Mawruss," he said, "and Sol tells me that a good broker is Gunst & Baumer. They got a branch office over Hill, Arkwright & Thompson, the auctioneers, Mawruss. He says a young feller by the name Milton Fiedler is manager, and if he can't sell that stock, Mawruss, Sol says nobody can. So I guess I'll go right over and see him while I got it in my mind."

Milton Fiedler had served an arduous apprenticeship before he attained the position of branch manager for Gunst & Baumer in the dry-goods district. During the thirty odd years of his life he had been in turn stockboy, clothing salesman, bookmaker's clerk, faro dealer, poolroom cashier and, finally, bucketshop proprietor. When the police closed him up he sought employment with Gunst & Baumer, whose exchange affiliations precluded any suspicion of bucketing, but who, nevertheless, did a thriving business in curb securities of the cat-and-dog variety, and it was in this particular branch of the science of investment and speculation that Milton excelled. Despite his expert knowledge, however, he was slightly stumped, as the vernacular has it, when Abe Potash produced B. Sheitlis' stock, for in all his bucketshop and curb experience he had never even heard of the Texas-Nevada Gold and Silver Mining Corporation.

"This is one of those smaller mines, Mr. Potash," he explained, "which sometimes get to be phenomenal profit-makers. Of course, I can't tell you offhand what the value of the stock is, but I'll make inquiries at once. The inside market at present is very strong, as you know."

Abe nodded, as he thought was expected of him, although "inside" and "outside" markets were all one to him.

"And curb securities naturally feel the influence of the bullish sentiment," Fiedler continued. "It isn't the business of a broker to try to influence a customer's choice, but I'd like you to step outside"—they were in the manager's private office—"and look at the quotation board for a moment. Interstate Copper is remarkably active this morning."

He led Abe into an adjoining room where a tall youth was taking green cardboard numbers from a girdle which he wore, and sticking them on the quotation board.

"Hello!" Fiedler exclaimed as the youth affixed a new number. "Interstate Copper has advanced a whole point since two days ago. It's now two and an eighth."

Simultaneously, a young man in the back of the room exclaimed aloud in woeful profanity.

"What's the matter with him?" Abe asked.

"They play 'em both ways—a-hem!" Fiedler corrected himself in time. "Occasionally we have a customer who sells short of the market, and then, of course, if the market goes up he gets stung—er—he sustains a loss."

Here the door opened and Sol Klinger entered. His bulging eyes fell on the quotation board, and at once his face spread into a broad smile.

"Hello, Sol!" Abe cried. "You look like you sold a big bill of goods."

"I hope I look better than that, Abe," Sol replied. "I make it more on that Interstate Copper in two days what I could make it on ten big bills of goods. That's a great property, Abe."

"I think Mr. Klinger will have reason to congratulate himself still more by to-morrow, Mr. Potash," Fiedler broke in. "Interstate Copper is a stock with an immediate future."

"You bet," Sol agreed. "I'm going to hold on to mine. It'll go up to five inside of a week."

The young man from the rear of the room took the two rows of chairs at a jump.

"Fiedler," he said, "I'm going to cover right away. Buy me a thousand Interstate at the market."

Sol nudged Abe, and after the young man and Fiedler had disappeared into the latter's private office Sol imparted in hoarse whispers to Abe that the young man was reported to have information from the ground-floor crowd about Interstate Copper.

"Well, if that's so," Abe replied, "why does he lose money on it?"

"Because," Sol explained, "he's got an idee that if you act just contrariwise to the inside information what you get it, why then you come out right."

Abe shook his head hopelessly.

"Pinochle, I understand it," he said, "and skat a little also. But this here stocks from stock exchanges is worser than chest what they play it in coffee-houses."

"You don't need to understand it, Abe," Sol replied. "All you do is to buy a thousand Interstate Copper to-day or to-morrow at any price up to two and a half, Abe, and I give you a guarantee that you make twenty-five hundred dollars by next week."

When Abe returned to his place of business that day he had developed a typical case of stock-gambling fever, with which he proceeded to inoculate Morris as soon as the latter came back from lunch. Abe at once recounted all his experiences of the morning and dwelt particularly on the phenomenal rise of Interstate Copper.

"Sol says he guarantees that we double our money in a week," he concluded.

"Did he say he would put it in writing?" Morris asked.

Abe glared at Morris for an instant.

"Do you think I am making jokes?" he rejoined. "He don't got to put it in writing, Mawruss. It's as plain as the nose on your face. We pay twenty-five hundred dollars for a thousand shares at two and a half to-day, and next week it goes up to five and we sell it and make it twenty-five hundred dollars. Ain't it?"

"Who do we sell it to?" Morris asked.

Abe pondered for a moment, then his face brightened up.

"Why, to the stock exchange, certainly," he replied.

"Must they buy it from us, Abe?" Morris inquired.

"Sure they must, Mawruss," Abe said. "Ain't Sol Klinger always selling his stocks to them people?"

"Well, Sol Klinger got his customers, Abe, and we got ours," Morris replied doubtfully. "Maybe them people would buy it from Sol and wouldn't buy it from us."

For the rest of the afternoon Morris plied Abe with questions about the technicalities of the stock market until Abe took refuge in flight and went home at half-past five. The next morning Morris resumed his quiz until Abe's replies grew personal in character.

"What's the use of trying to explain something to nobody what don't understand nothing?" he exclaimed.

"Maybe I don't understand it," Morris admitted, "but also you don't understand it, too, maybe. Ain't it?"

"I understand this much, Mawruss," Abe cried—"I understand, Mawruss, that if Sol Klinger tells me he guarantees it I make twenty-five hundred dollars, and this here Milton Fiedler, too, he also says it, and a young feller actually with my own eyes I see it buys this stock because he's got information from inside people, why shouldn't we buy it and make money on it? Ain't it?"

Morris was about to reply when the letter carrier entered with the morning mail. Abe took the bundle of envelopes, and on the top of the pile was a missive from Gunst & Baumer. Abe tore open the envelope and looked at the letter hurriedly. "You see, Mawruss," he cried, "already it goes up a sixteenth." He handed the letter to Morris. It read as follows:


For your information we beg to advise you that Interstate Copper advanced a sixteenth at the close of the market yesterday. Should you desire us to execute a buying order in these securities, we urge you to let us know before ten o'clock to-morrow morning, as we believe that a sharp advance will follow the opening of the market. Truly yours, GUNST & BAUMER, Milton Fiedler, Mgr.

"Well," Abe said, "what do you think, Mawruss?"

"Think!" Morris cried. "Why, I think that he ain't said nothing to us about them gold and silver stocks of B. Sheitlis', Abe, so I guess he ain't sold 'em yet. If he can't sell a stock from gold and silver already, Abe, what show do we stand with a stock from copper?"

"That Sheitlis stock is only a small item, Mawruss."

"Well, maybe it is," Morris admitted, "but just you ring up and ask him. Then, if we find that he sold that gold and silver stock we take a chance on the copper."

Abe hastened to the telephone in the rear of the store.

"Listen, Abe," Morris called after him, "tell him it should be no dating or discount, strictly net cash."

In less than a minute, Abe was conversing with Fiedler.

"Mr. Fiedler!" he said. "Hello, Mr. Fiedler! Is this you? Yes. Well, me and Mawruss is about decided to buy a thousand of them stocks what you showed me down at your store—at your office yesterday, only, Mawruss says, why should we buy them goods—them stocks if you ain't sold that other stocks already. First, he says, you should sell them stocks from gold and silver, Mr. Fiedler, and then we buy them copper ones."

Mr. Fiedler, at the other end of the 'phone, hesitated before replying. The Texas-Nevada Gold and Silver Mining Corporation was a paper mine that had long since faded from the memory of every bucketshop manager he knew, and its stock was worth absolutely nothing. Yet Gunst & Baumer, as the promoters of Interstate Copper, would clear at least two thousand dollars by the sale of the stock to Abe and Morris; hence, Fiedler took a gambler's chance.

"Why, Mr. Potash," he said, "a boy is already on the way to your store with a check for that very stock. I sold it for three hundred dollars and I sent you a check for two hundred and seventy-five dollars. Twenty-five dollars is our usual charge for selling a hundred shares of stock that ain't quoted on the curb."

"Much obliged, Mr. Fiedler," Abe said. "I'll be down there with a check for twenty-five hundred."

"All right," Mr. Fiedler replied. "I'll go ahead and buy the stock for your account."

"Well," Abe said, "don't do that until I come down. I got to fix it up with my partner first, Mr. Fiedler, and just as soon as I can get there I'll bring you the check."

Twenty minutes after Abe had rung off a messenger arrived with a check for two hundred and seventy-five dollars, and Morris included it in the morning deposits which he was about to send over to the Kosciusko Bank.

"While you're doing that, Mawruss," Abe said, "you might as well draw a check for twenty-five hundred dollars for that stock."

Morris grunted.

"That's going to bring down our balance a whole lot, Abe," he said.

"Only for a week, Mawruss," Abe corrected, "and then we'll sell it again."

"Whose order do I write it to, Abe?" Morris inquired.

"I forgot to ask that," Abe replied.

"Gunst & Baumer?" Morris asked.

"They ain't the owners of it, Mawruss," said Abe. "They're only the brokers."

"Maybe Sol Klinger is selling it to the stock-exchange people and they're selling it to us," Morris suggested.

"Sol Klinger ain't going to sell his. He's going to hang on to it. Maybe it's this young feller what I see there, Mawruss, only I don't know his name."

"Well, then, I'll make it out to Potash & Perlmutter, and you can indorse it when you get there," said Morris.

At this juncture a customer entered, and Abe took him into the show-room, while Morris wrote out the check. For almost an hour and a half Abe displayed the firm's line, from which the customer selected a generous order, and when at last Abe was free to go down to Gunst & Baumer's it was nearly twelve o'clock. He put on his hat and coat, and jumped on a passing car, and it was not until he had traveled two blocks that he remembered the check. He ran all the way back to the store and, tearing the check out of the checkbook where Morris had left it, he dashed out again and once more boarded a Broadway car. In front of Gunst & Baumer's offices he leaped wildly from the car to the street, and, escaping an imminent fire engine and a hosecart, he ran into the doorway and took the stairs three at a jump.

On the second floor of the building was Hill, Arkwright & Thompson's salesroom, where a trade sale was in progress, and the throng of buyers collected there overflowed onto the landing, but Abe elbowed his way through the crowd and made the last flight in two seconds.

"Is Mr. Fiedler in?" he gasped as he burst into the manager's office of Gunst & Baumer's suite.

"Mr. Fiedler went out to lunch," the office-boy replied. "He says you should sit down and wait, and he'll be back in ten minutes."

But Abe was too nervous for sitting down, and the thought of the customers' room with its quotation board only agitated him the more.

"I guess I'll go downstairs to Hill, Arkwright & Thompson's," he said, "and give a look around. I'll be back in ten minutes."

He descended the stairs leisurely and again elbowed his way through the crowd into the salesroom of Hill, Arkwright & Thompson. Mr. Arkwright was on the rostrum, and as Abe entered he was announcing the next lot.

"Look at them carefully, gentlemen," he said. "An opportunity like this seldom arises. They are all fresh goods, woven this season for next season's business—foulard silks of exceptionally good design and quality."

At the word silks Abe started and made at once for the tables on which the goods were piled. He examined them critically, and as he did so his mind reverted to the half-tone cuts in the Daily Cloak and Suit Record. Here was a rare chance to lay in a stock of piece goods that might not recur for several years, certainly not before next season had passed.

"It's to close an estate, gentlemen," Mr. Arkwright continued. "The proprietor of the mills died recently, and his executors have decided to wind up the business. All these silk foulards will be offered as one lot. What is the bid?"

Immediately competition became fast and furious, and Abe entered into it with a zest and excitement that completely eclipsed all thought of stock exchanges or copper shares. The bids rose by leaps and bounds, and when, half an hour later, Abe emerged from the fray his collar was melted to the consistency of a pocket handkerchief, but the light of victory shone through his perspiration. He was the purchaser of the entire lot, and by token of his ownership he indorsed the twenty-five-hundred-dollar check to the order of Hill, Arkwright & Thompson.

The glow of battle continued with Abe until he reached the show-room of his own place of business at two o'clock.

"Well, Abe," Morris cried, "did you buy the stock?"

"Huh?" Abe exclaimed, and then, for the first time since he saw the silk foulards, he remembered Interstate Copper.

"I was to Wasserbauer's Restaurant for lunch," Morris continued, "and in the cafe I seen that thing what the baseball comes out of it, Abe."

"The tickler," Abe croaked.

"That's it," Morris went on. "Also, Sol Klinger was looking at it, and he told me Interstate Copper was up to three already."

Abe sat down in a chair and passed his hand over his forehead.

"That's the one time when you give it us good advice, Abe," said Morris. "Sol says we may make it three thousand dollars yet."

Abe nodded. He licked his dry lips and essayed to speak, but the words of confession would not come.

"It was a lucky day for us, Abe, when you seen B. Sheitlis," Morris continued. "Of course, I ain't saying it was all luck, Abe, because it wasn't. If you hadn't seen the opportunity, Abe, and practically made me go into it, I wouldn't of done nothing, Abe."

Abe nodded again. If the guilt he felt inwardly had expressed itself in his face there would have been no need of confession. At length he braced himself to tell it all; but just as he cleared his throat by way of prelude Morris was summoned to the cutting-room and remained there until closing-time. Thus, when Abe went home his secret remained locked up within his breast, nor did he find it a comfortable burden, for when he looked at the quotations of curb securities in the evening paper he found that Interstate Copper had closed at four and a half, after a total day's business of sixty thousand shares.

The next morning Abe reached his store more than two hours after his usual hour. He had rolled on his pillow all night, and it was almost day before he could sleep.

"Why, Abe," Morris cried when he saw him, "you look sick. What's the matter?"

"I feel mean, Mawruss," Abe replied. "I guess I eat something what disagrees with me."

Ordinarily, Morris would have made rejoinder to the effect that when a man reached Abe's age he ought to know enough to take care of his stomach; but Morris had devoted himself to the financial column of a morning newspaper on his way downtown, and his feelings toward his partner were mollified in proportion.

"That's too bad, Abe," he said. "Why don't you see a doctor?"

Abe shook his head and was about to reply when the telephone bell rang.

"That's Sol Klinger," Morris exclaimed. "He said he would let me know at ten o'clock what this Interstate Copper opened at."

He darted for the telephone in the rear of the store, and when he returned his face was wreathed in smiles.

"It has come up to five already," he cried. "We make it twenty-five hundred dollars."

While Morris was talking over the 'phone Abe had been trying to bring his courage to the sticking point, and the confession was on the very tip of his tongue when the news which Morris brought forced it back again. He rose wearily to his feet.

"I guess you think we're getting rich quick, Mawruss," he said, and repaired to the bookkeeper's desk in the firm's private office. For the next two hours and a half he dodged about, with one eye on Morris and the other on the rear entrance to the store. He expected the silk to arrive at any moment, and he knew that when it did the jig would be up. It was with a sigh of relief that he saw Morris go out to lunch at half-past twelve, and almost immediately afterward Hill, Arkwright & Thompson's truckman arrived with the goods. Abe superintended the disposal of the packing cases in the cutting-room, and he was engaged in opening them when Miss Cohen, the bookkeeper, entered.

"Mr. Potash," she said, "Mr. Perlmutter wants to see you in the show-room."

"Did he come back from lunch so soon?" Abe asked.

"He came in right after he went out," she replied. "I guess he must be sick. He looks sick."

Abe turned pale.

"I guess he found it out," he said to himself as he descended the stairs and made for the show-room. When he entered he found Morris seated in a chair with the first edition of an evening paper clutched in his hand.

"What's the matter, Mawruss?" Abe said.

Morris gulped once or twice and made a feeble attempt to brandish the paper.

"Matter?" he croaked. "Nothing's the matter. Only, we are out twenty-five hundred dollars. That's all."

"No, we ain't, Mawruss," Abe protested. "What we are out in one way we make in another."

Morris sought to control himself, but his pent-up emotions gave themselves vent.

"We do, hey?" he roared. "Well, maybe you think because I took your fool advice this oncet that I'll do it again?"

He grew red in the face.

"Gambler!" he yelled. "Fool! You shed my blood! What? You want to ruin me! Hey?"

Abe had expected a tirade, but nothing half as violent as this.

"Mawruss," he said soothingly, "don't take it so particular."

He might as well have tried to stem Niagara with a shovel.

"Ain't the cloak and suit business good enough for you?" Morris went on. "Must you go throwing away money on stocks from stock exchanges?"

Abe scratched his head. These rhetorical questions hardly fitted the situation, especially the one about throwing away money.

"Look-y here, Mawruss," he said, "if you think you scare me by this theayter acting you're mistaken. Just calm yourself, Mawruss, and tell me what you heard it. I ain't heard nothing."

For answer Morris handed him the evening paper.

"Sensational Failure in Wall Street," was the red-letter legend on the front page. With bulging eyes Abe took in the import of the leaded type which disclosed the news that Gunst & Baumer, promoters of Interstate Copper, having boosted its price to five, were overwhelmed by a flood of profit-taking. To support their stock Gunst & Baumer were obliged to buy in all the Interstate offered at five, and when at length their resources gave out they announced their suspension. Interstate immediately collapsed and sold down in less than a quarter of an hour from five bid, five and a thirty-second asked, to a quarter bid, three-eighths asked.

Abe handed back the paper to Morris and lit a cigar.

"For a man what has just played his partner for a sucker, Abe," Morris said, "you take it nice and quiet."

Abe puffed slowly before replying.

"After all, Mawruss," he said, "I was right."

"You was right?" Morris exclaimed. "What d'ye mean?"

"I mean, Mawruss," Abe went on, "I figured it out right. I says to myself when I got that check for twenty-five hundred dollars: If I buy this here stock from stock exchanges and we make money Mawruss will go pretty near crazy. He'll want to buy it the whole stock exchange full from stocks, and in the end it will bust us. On the other hand, Mawruss, I figured it out that if we bought this here stock and lose money on it, then Mawruss'll go crazy also, and want to murder me or something."

He paused and puffed again at his cigar.

"So, Mawruss," he concluded, "I went down to Gunst & Baumer's building, Mawruss; but instead of going to Gunst & Baumer, Mawruss, I went one flight lower down to Hill, Arkwright & Thompson's, Mawruss, and I didn't buy it Interstate Copper, Mawruss, but I bought it instead silk foulards, Mawruss—seventy-five hundred dollars' worth for twenty-five hundred dollars, and it's laying right now up in the cutting-room."

He leaned back in his chair and triumphantly surveyed his partner, who had collapsed into a crushed and perspiring heap.

"So, Mawruss," he said, "I am a gambler. Hey? I shed your blood? What? I ruin you with my fool advice? Ain't it?"

Morris raised a protesting hand.

"Abe," he murmured huskily, "I done you an injury. It's me what's the fool. I was carried away by B. Sheitlis' making his money so easy."

Abe jumped to his feet.

"Ho-ly smokes!" he cried and dashed out of the show-room to the telephone in the rear of the store. He returned a moment later with his cigar at a rakish angle to his jutting lower lip.

"It's all right, Mawruss," he said. "I rung up the Kosciusko Bank and the two-hundred-and-seventy-five-dollar check went through all right."

"Sure it did," Morris replied, his drooping spirits once more revived. "I deposited it at eleven o'clock yesterday morning. I don't take no chances on getting stuck, Abe, and I only hope you didn't get stuck on them foulards, neither."

Abe grinned broadly.

"You needn't worry about that, Mawruss," he replied. "Stocks from stock exchanges maybe I don't know it, Mawruss; but stocks from silk foulards I do know it, Mawruss, and don't you forget it."


"Sol Klinger must think he ain't taking chances enough in these here stocks, Mawruss," Abe Potash remarked a week after the slump in Interstate Copper. "He got to hire a drummer by the name Walsh yet. That feller's idee of entertaining a customer is to go into Wasserbauer's and to drink all the schnapps in stock. I bet yer when Walsh gets through, he don't know which is the customer and which is the bartender already."

"You got to treat a customer right, Abe," Morris commented, "because nowadays we are up against some stiff competition. You take this here new concern, Abe, the Small Drygoods Company of Walla Walla, Washington, Abe, and Klinger & Klein ain't lost no time. Sol tells me this morning that them Small people start in with a hundred thousand capital all paid in. Sol says also their buyer James Burke which they send it East comes from the same place in the old country as this here Frank Walsh, and I guess we got to hustle if we want to get his trade, ain't it?"

"Because a customer is a Landsmann of mine, Mawruss," Abe replied, "ain't no reason why I shall sell him goods, Mawruss. If I could sell all my Landsleute what is in the cloak and suit business, Mawruss, we would be doing a million-dollar business a month, ain't it?"

At this juncture Morris drew on his imagination. "I hear it also, Abe," he hinted darkly, "that this here James Bourke, what the Small Drygoods Company sends East, is related by marriage to this here Walsh's wife."

"Wives' relations is nix, Mawruss," Abe replied. "I got enough with wives' relations. When me and my Rosie gets married her mother was old man Smolinski's a widow. He made an honest failure of it in the customer peddler business in eighteen eighty-five, and the lodge money was pretty near gone when I got into the family. Then my wife's mother gives my wife's brother, Scheuer Smolinski, ten dollars to go out and buy some schnapps for the wedding, and that's the last we see of him, Mawruss. But Rosie and me gets married, anyhow, and takes the old lady to live with us, and the first thing you know, Mawruss, she gets sick on us and dies, with a professor and two trained nurses at my expense, and that's the way it goes, Mawruss."

He rose to his feet and helped himself to a cigar from the L to N first and second credit customers' box.

"No, Mawruss," he concluded, "if you can't sell a man goods on their merits, Mawruss, you'll never get him to take them because your wife is related by marriage to his wife. Ain't it? We got a good line, Mawruss, and we stand a show to sell our goods without no theayters nor dinners nor nothing."

Morris shrugged his shoulders. "All right, Abe," he said, "you can do what you like about it, but I already bought it two tickets for Saturday night."

"Of course, if you like to go to shows, Mawruss," Abe declared as he rose to his feet, "I can't stop you. Only one thing I got to say it, Mawruss—if you think you should charge that up to the firm's expense account, all I got to say is you're mistaken, that's all."

Abe strode out of the show-room before a retort could formulate itself, so Morris struggled into his overcoat instead and made for the store door. As he reached it his eye fell on the clock over Wasserbauer's Cafe on the other side of the street. The hands pointed to two o'clock, and he broke into a run, for the Southwestern Flyer which bore the person of James Burke was due at the Grand Central Station at two-ten. Fifteen minutes later Morris darted out of the subway exit at Forty-second Street and imminently avoided being run down by a hansom. Indeed, the vehicle came to a halt so suddenly that the horse reared on its haunches, while a flood of profanity from the driver testified to the nearness of Morris' escape. Far from being grateful, however, Morris paused on the curb and was about to retaliate in kind when one of the two male occupants of the hansom leaned forward and poked a derisive finger at him.

"What's the hurry, Morris?" said the passenger.

Morris looked up and gasped, for in that fleeting moment he recognized his tormentor. It was Frank Walsh, and although Morris saw only the features of his competitor it needed no Sherlock Holmes to deduce that Frank's fellow-passenger was none other than James Burke, buyer for the Small Drygoods Company.

Two hours later he returned to the store, for he had seized the opportunity of visiting some of the firm's retail trade while uptown, and when he came in he found Abe sorting a pile of misses' reefers.

"Well, Mawruss," Abe cried, "you look worried."

"I bet you I'm worried, Abe," he said. "You and your wife's relations done it. Two thousand dollars thrown away in the street. I got to the Grand Central Station just in time to get there too late, Abe. This here Walsh was ahead of me already, and he took Burke away in a hansom. When I come out of the subway they pretty near run over me, Abe."

"A competitor will do anything, Mawruss," Abe said sympathetically. "But don't you worry. There's just as big fish swimming in the sea as what they sell by fish markets, Mawruss. Bigger even. We ain't going to fail yet a while just because we lose the Small Drygoods Company for a customer."

"We ain't lost 'em yet, Abe," Morris rejoined, and without taking off his coat he repaired to Wasserbauer's Restaurant and Cafe for a belated lunch. As he entered he encountered Frank Walsh, who had been congratulating himself at the bar.

"Hello, Morris," he cried. "I cut you out, didn't I?"

"You cut me out?" Morris replied stiffly. "I don't know what you mean."

"Of course you don't," Walsh broke in heartily. "I suppose you was hustling to the Grand Central Station just because you wanted to watch the engines. Well, I won't crow over you, Morris. Better luck next time!"

His words fell on unheeding ears, for Morris was busily engaged in looking around him. He sought features that might possibly belong to James Burke, but Frank seemed to be the only representative of the Emerald Isle present, and Morris proceeded to the restaurant in the rear.

"I suppose he turned him over to Klinger," he said to himself, while from the vantage of his table he saw Frank Walsh buy cigars and pass out into the street in company with another drummer not of Irish extraction.

He finished his lunch without appetite, and when he reentered the store Abe walked forward to greet him.

"Well, Mawruss," he said, "I seen Sol Klinger coming down the street a few minutes ago, so I kinder naturally just stood out on the sidewalk till he comes past, Mawruss. I saw he ain't looking any too pleased, so I asked him what's the trouble; and he says, nothing, only that Frank Walsh, what they got it for a drummer, eats 'em up with expenses. So I says, How so? And he says, this here Walsh has a customer by the name of Burke come to town, and the first thing you know, he spends it three dollars for a cab for Burke, and five dollars for lunch for Burke, and also ten dollars for two tickets for a show for Burke, before this here Burke is in town two hours already. Klinger looked pretty sore about it, Mawruss."

"What show is he taking Burke to?" Morris asked.

"It ain't a show exactly," Abe replied hastily; "it's a prize-fight."

"A fight!" Morris cried. "That's an idea, ain't it?—to take a customer to a fight."

"I know it, Mawruss," Abe rejoined, "but you got to remember that the customer's name is also Burke. What for a show did you buy it tickets for?"

Morris blushed. "Travvy-ayter," he murmured.

"Travvy-ayter!" Abe replied. "Why, that's an opera, ain't it?"

Morris nodded. He had intended to combine business with pleasure by taking Burke to hear Tetrazzini.

"Well, you got your idees, too, Mawruss," Abe continued; "and I don't know that they're much better as this here Walsh's idees."

"Ain't they, Abe?" Morris replied. "Well, maybe they ain't, Abe. But just because I got a loafer for a customer ain't no reason why I should be a loafer myself, Abe."

"Must you take a customer to a show, Mawruss?" Abe rejoined. "Is there a law compelling it, Mawruss?"

Morris shrugged his shoulders.

"Anyhow, Abe," he said, "I don't see that you got any kick coming, because I'm going to give them tickets to you and Rosie, Abe, and youse two can take in the show."

"And where are you going, Mawruss?"

"Me?" Morris replied. "I'm going to a prize-fighting, Abe. I don't give up so easy as all that."

On his way home that night Morris consulted an evening paper, and when he turned to the sporting page he found the upper halves of seven columns effaced by a huge illustration executed in the best style of Jig, the Sporting Cartoonist. In the left-hand corner crouched Slogger Atkins, the English lightweight, while opposite to him in the right-hand corner stood Young Kilrain, poised in an attitude of defense. Underneath was the legend, "The Contestants in Tomorrow Night's Battle." By reference to Jig's column Morris ascertained that the scene of the fight would be at the Polygon Club's new arena in the vicinity of Harlem Bridge, and at half past eight Saturday night he alighted from a Third Avenue L train at One Hundred and Twenty-ninth Street and followed the crowd that poured over the bridge.

It was nine o'clock before Morris gained admission to the huge frame structure that housed the arena of the Polygon Club. Having just paid five dollars as a condition precedent to membership in good standing, he took his seat amid a dense fog of tobacco smoke and peered around him for Frank Walsh and his customer. At length he discerned Walsh's stalwart figure at the right hand of a veritable giant, whose square jaw and tip-tilted nose would have proclaimed the customer, even though Walsh had not assiduously plied him with cigars and engaged him continually in animated conversation. They were seated well down toward the ring, while Morris found a place directly opposite them and watched their every movement. When they laughed Morris scowled, and once when the big man slapped his thigh in uproarious appreciation of one of Walsh's stories Morris fairly turned green with envy.

Morris watched with a jaundiced eye the manner in which Frank Walsh radiated good humor. Not only did Walsh hand out cigars to the big man, but also he proffered them to the person who sat next to him on the other side. This man Morris recognized as the drummer who had been in Wasserbauer's with Frank on the previous day.

"Letting him in on it, too," Morris said to himself. "What show do I stand?"

The first of the preliminary bouts began. The combatants were announced as Pig Flanagan and Tom Evans, the Welsh coal-miner. It seemed to Morris that he had seen Evans somewhere before, but as this was his initiation into the realms of pugilism he concluded that it was merely a chance resemblance and dismissed the matter from his mind.

The opening bout more than realized Morris' conception of the sport's brutality, for Pig Flanagan was what the cognoscenti call a good bleeder, and during the first second of the fight he fulfilled his reputation at the instance of a light tap from his opponent's left. There are some people who cannot stand the sight of blood; Morris was one of them, and the drummer on Frank Walsh's right was another. Both he and Morris turned pale, but the big man on Walsh's left roared his approbation.

"Eat him up!" he bellowed, and at every fresh hemorrhage from Mr. Flanagan he rocked and swayed in an ecstasy of enjoyment. For three crimson rounds Pig Flanagan and Tom Evans continued their contest, but even a good bleeder must run dry eventually, and in the first half of the fourth round Pig took the count.

By this time the arena was swimming in Morris' nauseated vision, while, as for the drummer on Frank's right, he closed his eyes and wiped a clammy perspiration from his forehead. The club meeting proceeded, however, despite the stomachs of its weaker members, and the next bout commenced with a rush. It was advertised in advance by Morris' neighboring seatholders as a scientific contest, but in pugilism, as in surgery, science is often gory. In this instance a scientific white man hit a colored savant squarely on the nose, with the inevitable sanguinary result, and as though by a prearranged signal Morris and the drummer on Walsh's right started for the door. In vain did Walsh seize his neighbor by the coat-tail. The latter shook himself loose, and he and Morris reached the sidewalk together.

"T'phooie!" said the drummer. "That's an amusement for five dollars."

Morris wiped his face and gasped like a landed fish. At length he recovered his composure. "I seen you sitting next to Walsh," he said.

The drummer nodded. "He didn't want me to go," he replied. "He said we come together and we should go together, but I told him I would wait for him till it was over. Him and that other fellow seem to enjoy it."

"Some people has got funny idees of a good time," Morris commented.

"That's an idee for a loafer," said the drummer. "For my part I like it more refined."

"I believe you," Morris replied. "Might you would come and take a cup of coffee with me, maybe?"

He indicated a bathbrick dairy restaurant on the opposite side of the street.

"Much obliged," the drummer replied, "but I got to go out of town to-morrow, and coffee keeps me awake. I think I'll wait here for about half an hour, and if Walsh and his friends don't come out by then I guess I'll go home."

Morris hesitated. A sense of duty demanded that he stay and see the matter through, since his newly-made acquaintance with the tertium quid of Walsh's little party might lead to an introduction to the big man, and for the rest Morris trusted to his own salesmanship. But the drummer settled the matter for him.

"On second thought," he said, "I guess I won't wait. Why should I bother with a couple like them? If you're going downtown on the L I'll go with you."

Together they walked to the Manhattan terminal of the Third Avenue road and discussed the features of the disgusting spectacle they had just witnessed. In going over its details they found sufficient conversation to cover the journey to One Hundred and Sixteenth Street, where Morris alighted. When he descended to the street it occurred to him for the first time that he had omitted to learn both the name and line of business of his new-found friend.

In the meantime Frank Walsh and his companion watched the white scientist and the colored savant conclude their exhibition and cheered themselves hoarse over the piece de resistance which followed immediately. At length Slogger Atkins disposed of Young Kilrain with a well-directed punch in the solar plexus, and Walsh and his companion rose to go.

"What become of yer friend?" the big man asked.

"He had to go out, Jim," Frank replied. "He couldn't stand the sight of the blood."

"Is that so?" the big man commented. "It beats all, the queer ideas some people has."

"Well, Mawruss," Abe cried as he greeted his partner on Monday morning, "how did it went?"

"How did what went?" Morris asked.

"The prize-fighting."

Morris shook his head. "Not for all the cloak and suit trade on the Pacific slope," he said finally, "would I go to one of them things again. First, a fat Eyetalian by the name Flanagan fights with a young feller, Tom Evans, the Welsh coal-miner, and you never seen nothing like it, Abe, outside a slaughter-house."

"Flanagan don't seem much like an Eyetalian, Mawruss," Abe commented.

"I know it," Morris replied; "but that wouldn't surprise you much if you could seen the one what they call Tom Evans, the Welsh coal-miner."

"Why not?" Abe asked.

"Well, you remember Hyman Feinsilver, what worked by us as a shipping clerk while Jake was sick?"

"Sure I do," Abe replied. "Comes from very decent, respectable people in the old country. His father was a rabbi."

"Don't make no difference about his father, Abe," Morris went on. "That Tom Evans, the Welsh coal-miner, is Hyman Feinsilver what worked by us, and the way he treated that poor Eyetalian young feller was a shame for the people. It makes me sick to think of it."

"Don't think of it, then," Abe replied, "because it won't do you no good, Mawruss. I seen Sol Klinger in the subway this morning, and he says that last Saturday morning already James Burke was in their place and picked out enough goods to stock the biggest suit department in the country. Sol says Burke went to Philadelphia yesterday to meet Sidney Small, the president of the concern, and they're coming over to Klinger & Klein's this morning and close the deal."

Morris sat down and lit a cigar. "Yes, Abe, that's the way it goes," he said bitterly. "You sit here and tell me a long story about your wife's relations, and the first thing you know, Abe, I miss the train and Frank Walsh takes away my trade. What do I care about your wife's relations, Abe?"

"That's what I told you, Mawruss. Wife's relations don't do nobody no good," Abe replied.

"Jokes!" Morris exclaimed as he moved off to the rear of the store. "Jokes he is making it, and two thousand dollars thrown into the street."

For the rest of the morning Morris sulked in the cutting-room upstairs, while Abe busied himself in assorting his samples for a forthcoming New England trip. At twelve o'clock a customer came in, and when he left at half-past twelve Abe escorted him to the store door and lingered there a few minutes to get a breath of fresh air. As he was about to reenter the store he discerned the corpulent figure of Frank Walsh making his way down the opposite sidewalk toward Wasserbauer's Cafe. With him were two other men, one of them about as big as Frank himself, the other a slight, dark person.

Abe darted to the rear of the store. "Mawruss," he called, "come quick! Here is this Walsh feller with Small and Burke."

Morris took the first few stairs at a leap, and had his partner not caught him he would have landed in a heap at the bottom of the flight. They covered the distance from the stairway to the store door so rapidly that when they reached the sidewalk Frank and his customers had not yet arrived in front of Wasserbauer's.

"The little feller," Morris hissed, "is the same one what was up to the fighting. I guess he's a drummer."

"Him?" Abe replied. "He ain't no drummer, Mawruss. He's Jacob Berkowitz, what used to run the Up-to-Date Store in Seattle. I sold him goods when me and Pincus Vesell was partners together, way before the Spanish War already. Who's the other feller?"

At that moment the subject of Abe's inquiry looked across the street and for the first time noticed Abe and Morris standing on the sidewalk. He stopped short and stared at Abe until his bulging eyes caught the sign above the store. For one brief moment he hesitated and then he leaped from the curb to the gutter and plunged across the roadway, with Jacob Berkowitz and Frank Walsh in close pursuit. He seized Abe by both hands and shook them up and down.

"Abe Potash!" he cried. "So sure as you live."

"That's right," Abe admitted; "that's my name."

"You don't remember me, Abe?" he went on.

"I remember Mr. Berkowitz here," Abe said, smiling at the smaller man. "I used to sell him goods oncet when he ran the Up-to-Date Store in Seattle. Ain't that so, Mr. Berkowitz?"

The smaller man nodded in an embarrassed fashion, while Frank Walsh grew red and white by turns and looked first at Abe and then at the others in blank amazement.

"But," Abe went on, "you got to excuse me, Mister—Mister——"

"Small," said the larger man, whereat Morris fairly staggered.

"Mister Small," Abe continued. "You got to excuse me. I don't remember your name. Won't you come inside?"

"Hold on!" Frank Walsh cried. "These gentlemen are going to lunch with me."

Small turned and fixed Walsh with a glare. "I am going to do what I please, Mr. Walsh," he said coldly. "If I want to go to lunch I go to lunch; if I don't that's something else again."

"Oh, I've got lots of time," Walsh explained. "I was just reminding you, that's all. Wasserbauer's got a few good specialties on his bill-of-fare that don't improve with waiting."

"All right," Mr. Small said. "If that's the case go ahead and have your lunch. I won't detain you none."

He put his hand on Abe's shoulder, and the little procession passed into the store with Abe and Mr. Small in the van, while Frank Walsh constituted a solitary rear-guard. He sat disconsolately on a pile of piece goods as the four others went into the show-room.

"Sit down, Mr. Small," Abe said genially. "Mr. Berkowitz, take that easy chair."

Then Morris produced the "gilt-edged" cigars from the safe, and they all lit up.

"First thing, Mr. Small," Abe went on, "I should like to know where I seen you before. Of course, I know you're running a big business in Walla Walla, Washington, and certainly, too, I know your face."

"Sure you know my face, Abe," Mr. Small replied. "But my name ain't familiar. The last time you seen my face, Abe, was some twenty years since."

"Twenty years is a long time," Abe commented. "I seen lots of trade in twenty years."

"Trade you seen it, yes," Mr. Small said, "but I wasn't trade."

He paused and looked straight at Abe. "Think, Abe," he said. "When did you seen me last?"

Abe gazed at him earnestly and then shook his head. "I give it up," he said.

"Well, Abe," Mr. Small murmured, "the last time you seen me I went out to buy ten dollars' worth of schnapps."

"What!" Abe cried.

"But that afternoon there was a sure-thing mare going to start over to Guttenberg just as I happened to be passing Butch Thompson's old place, and I no more than got the ten dollars down than she blew up in the stretch. So I boarded a freight over to West Thirtieth Street and fetched up in Walla Walla, Washington."

"Look a-here!" Abe gasped. "You ain't Scheuer Smolinski, are you?"

Mr. Small nodded.

"That's me," he said. "I'm Scheuer Smolinski or Sidney Small, whichever you like. When me and Jake Berkowitz started this here Small Drygoods Company we decided that Smolinski and Berkowitz was too big a mouthful for the Pacific Slope, so we slipped the 'inski' and the 'owitz.' Scheuer Small and Jacob Burke didn't sound so well, neither. Ain't it? So, since there ain't no harm in it, we just changed our front names, too, and me and him is Sidney Small and James Burke."

Abe sat back in his chair too stunned for words, while Morris pondered bitterly on the events of Saturday night. Then the prize was well within his grasp, for even at that late hour he could have persuaded Mr. Burke to reconsider his decision and to bring Mr. Small over to see Potash & Perlmutter's line first. But now it was too late, Morris reflected, for Mr. Small had visited Klinger & Klein's establishment and had no doubt given the order.

"Say, my friends," Frank Walsh cried, poking his head in the door, "far from me to be buttin' in, but whenever you're ready for lunch just let me know."

Mr. Small jumped to his feet. "I'll let you know," he said—"I'll let you know right now. Half an hour since already I told Mr. Klinger I would make up my mind this afternoon about giving him the order for them goods what Mr. Burke picked out. Well, you go back and tell him I made up my mind already, sooner than I expected. I ain't going to give him the order at all."

Walsh's red face grew purple. At first he gurgled incoherently, but finally recovered sufficiently to enunciate; and for ten minutes he denounced Mr. Small and Mr. Burke, their conduct and antecedents. It was a splendid exhibition of profane invective, and when he concluded he was almost breathless.

"Yah!" he jeered, "five-dollar tickets for a prize-fight for the likes of youse!"

He fixed Morris and Mr. Burke with a final glare.

"Pearls before swine!" he bellowed, and banged the show-room door behind him.

Mr. Burke looked at Morris. "That's a lowlife for you," he said. "A respectable concern should have a salesman like him! Ain't it a shame and a disgrace?"

Morris nodded.

"He takes me to a place where nothing but loafers is," Mr. Burke continued, "and for two hours I got to sit and hear him and his friend there, that big feller—I guess you seen him, Mr. Perlmutter—he told me he keeps a beer saloon—another lowlife—for two hours I got to listen to them loafers cussing together, and then he gets mad that I don't enjoy myself yet."

Mr. Small shrugged his shoulders.

"Let's forget all about it," he said. "Come, Abe, I want to look over your line, and you and me will do business right away."

Abe and Morris spent the next two hours displaying their line, while Mr. Small and Mr. Burke selected hundred lots of every style. Finally, Abe and Mr. Small retired to the office to fill out the order, leaving Morris to replace the samples. He worked with a will and whistled a cheerful melody by way of accompaniment.

"Mister Perlmutter," James Burke interrupted, "that tune what you are whistling it, ain't that the drinking song from Travvy-ater already?"

Morris ceased his whistling. "That's right," he replied.

"I thought it was," Mr. Burke said. "I was going to see that opera last Saturday night if that lowlife Walsh wouldn't have took me to the prize-fight."

He paused and helped himself to a fresh cigar from the "gilt-edged" box.

"For anybody else but a loafer," he concluded, "prize-fighting is nix. Opera, Mr. Perlmutter, that's an amusement for a gentleman."

Morris nodded a vigorous acquiescence. He had nearly concluded his task when Abe and his new-found brother-in-law returned.

"Well, gentlemen," Mr. Small announced, "we figured it up and it comes to twenty-five hundred dollars. That ain't bad for a starter."

"You bet," Abe agreed fervently.

Mr. Burke smiled. "You got a good line, Mr. Potash," he said. "Ever so much better than Klinger & Klein's."

"That's what they have," Mr. Small agreed. "But it don't make no difference, anyhow. I'd give them the order if the line wasn't near so good."

He put his arm around Abe's shoulder. "It stands in the Talmud, an old saying, but a true one," he said—"'Blood is redder than water.'"


The Small Drygoods Company's order was the forerunner of a busy season that taxed the energies of not only Abe and Morris but of their entire business staff as well, and when the hot weather set in, Morris could not help noticing the fagged-out appearance of Miss Cohen the bookkeeper.

"We should give that girl a vacation, Abe," he said. "She worked hard and we ought to show her a little consideration."

"I know, Mawruss," Abe replied; "but she ain't the only person what works hard around here, Mawruss. I work hard, too, Mawruss, but I ain't getting no vacation. That's a new idee what you got, Mawruss."

"Everybody gives it their bookkeeper a vacation, Abe," Morris protested.

"Do they?" Abe rejoined. "Well, if bookkeepers gets vacations, Mawruss, where are we going to stop? First thing you know, Mawruss, we'll be giving cutters vacations, and operators vacations, and before we get through we got our workroom half empty yet and paying for full time already. If she wants a vacation for two weeks I ain't got no objections, Mawruss, only we don't pay her no wages while she's gone."

"You can't do that, Abe," Morris said. "That would be laying her off, Abe; that wouldn't be no vacation."

"But we got to have somebody here to keep our books while she's away, Mawruss," Abe cried. "We got to make it a living, Mawruss. We can't shut down just because Miss Cohen gets a vacation. And so it stands, Mawruss, we got to pay Miss Cohen wages for doing nothing, Mawruss, and also we got to pay it wages to somebody else for doing something what Miss Cohen should be doing when she ain't, ain't it?"

"Sure, we got to get a substitute for her while she's away," Morris agreed; "but I guess it won't break us."

"All right, Mawruss," Abe replied; "if I got to hear it all summer about this here vacation business I'm satisfied. I got enough to do in the store without worrying about that, Mawruss. Only one thing I got to say it, Mawruss: we got to have a bookkeeper to take her place while she's away, and you got to attend to that, Mawruss. That's all I got to say."

Morris nodded and hastened to break the good news to Miss Cohen, who for the remainder of the week divided her time between Potash & Perlmutter's accounts and a dozen multicolored railroad folders.

"Look at that, Mawruss," Abe said as he gazed through the glass paneling of the show-room toward the bookkeeper's desk. "That girl ain't done it a stroke of work since we told her she could go already. What are we running here, anyway: a cloak and suit business or a cut-rate ticket office?"

"Don't you worry about her, Abe," Morris replied. "She's got her cashbook and daybook posted and she also got it a substitute. He's coming this afternoon."

"He's coming?" Abe said. "So she got it a young feller, Mawruss?"

"Well, Abe," Morris replied, "what harm is there in that? He's a decent, respectable young feller by the name Tuchman, what works as bookkeeper by the Kosciusko Bank. They give him a two weeks' vacation and he comes to work by us, Abe."

"That's a fine way to spend a vacation, Mawruss," Abe commented. "Why don't he go up to Tannersville or so?"

"Because he's got to help his father out nights in his cigar store what he keeps it on Avenue B," Morris answered. "His father is Max Tuchman's brother. You know Max Tuchman, drummer for Lapidus & Elenbogen?"

"Sure I know him—a loud-mouth feller, Mawruss; got a whole lot to say for himself. A sport and a gambler, too," Abe said. "He'd sooner play auction pinochle than eat, Mawruss. I bet you he turns in an expense account like he was on a honeymoon every trip. The last time I seen this here Max Tuchman was up in Duluth. He was riding in a buggy with the lady buyer from Moe Gerschel's cloak department."

"Well, I suppose he sold her a big bill of goods, too, Abe, ain't it?" Morris rejoined. "He's an up-to-date feller, Abe. If anybody wants to sell goods to lady buyers they got to be up-to-date, ain't it? And so far what I hear it nobody told it me you made such a big success with lady buyers, neither, Abe."

Abe shrugged his shoulders.

"That ain't here nor there, Mawruss," he grunted. "The thing is this: if this young feller by the name of Tuchman does Miss Cohen's work as good as Miss Cohen does it I'm satisfied."

There was no need for apprehension on that score, however, for when the substitute bookkeeper arrived he proved to be an accurate and industrious young fellow, and despite Miss Cohen's absence the work of Potash & Perlmutter's office proceeded with orderly dispatch.

"That's a fine young feller, Mawruss," Abe commented as he and his partner sat in the firm's show-room on the second day of Miss Cohen's vacation.

"Who's this you're talking about?" Morris asked.

"This here bookkeeper," Abe replied. "What's his first name, now, Mawruss?"

"Ralph," Morris said.

"Ralph!" Abe cried. "That's a name I couldn't remember it in a million years, Mawruss."

"Why not, Abe?" Morris replied. "Ralph ain't no harder than Moe or Jake, Abe. For my part, I ain't got no trouble in remembering that name; and anyhow, Abe, why should an up-to-date family like the Tuchmans give their boys such back-number names like Jake or Moe?"

"Jacob and Moses was decent, respectable people in the old country, Mawruss," Abe corrected solemnly.

"I know it, Abe," Morris rejoined; "but that was long since many years ago already. Now is another time entirely in New York City; and anyhow, with such names what we got it in our books, Abe, you shouldn't have no trouble remembering Ralph."

"Sure not," Abe agreed, dismissing the subject. "So, I'll call him Ike. For two weeks he wouldn't mind it."

Morris shrugged. "For my part, you can call him Andrew Carnegie," he said; "only, let's not stand here talking about it all day, Abe. I see by the paper this morning that Marcus Bramson, from Syracuse, is at the Prince William Hotel, Abe, and you says you was going up to see him. That's your style, Abe: an old-fashion feller like Marcus Bramson. If you couldn't sell him a bill of goods, Abe, you couldn't sell nobody. He ain't no lady buyer, Abe."

Abe glared indignantly at his partner. "Well, Mawruss," he said, "if you ain't satisfied with the way what I sell goods you know what you can do. I'll do the inside work and you can go out on the road. It's a dawg's life, Mawruss, any way you look at it; and maybe, Mawruss, you would have a good time taking buggy rides with lady buyers. For my part, Mawruss, I got something better to do with my time."

He seized his hat, still glaring at Morris, who remained quite unmoved by his partner's indignation.

"I heard it what you tell me now several times before already, Abe," he said; "and if you want it that Max Tuchman or Klinger & Klein or some of them other fellers should cop out a good customer of ours like Marcus Bramson, Abe, maybe you'll hang around here a little longer."

Abe retorted by banging the show-room door behind him, and as he disappeared into the street Morris indulged in a broad, triumphant grin.

When Abe returned an hour later he found Morris going over the monthly statements with Ralph Tuchman. Morris looked up as Abe entered.

"What's the matter, Abe?" he cried. "You look worried."

"Worried!" Abe replied. "I ain't worried, Mawruss."

"Did you seen Marcus Bramson?" Morris asked.

"Sure I seen him," said Abe; "he's coming down here at half-past three o'clock this afternoon. You needn't trouble yourself about him, Mawruss."

Abe hung up his hat, while Morris and Ralph Tuchman once more fell to the work of comparing the statements.

"Look a-here, Mawruss," Abe said at length: "who d'ye think I seen it up at the Prince William Hotel?"

"I ain't no mind reader, Abe," Morris replied. "Who did you seen it?"

"Miss Atkinson, cloak buyer for the Emporium, Duluth," Abe replied. "That's Moe Gerschel's store."

Morris stopped comparing the statements, while Ralph Tuchman continued his writing.

"She's just come in from the West, Mawruss," Abe went on. "She ain't registered yet when I was going out, and she won't be in the Arrival of Buyers till to-morrow morning."

"Did you speak to her?" Morris asked.

"Sure I spoke to her," Abe said. "I says good-morning, and she recognized me right away. I asked after Moe, and she says he's well; and I says if she comes down here for fall goods; and she says she ain't going to talk no business for a couple of days, as it's a long time already since she was in New York and she wants to look around her. Then I says it's a fine weather for driving just now."

He paused for a moment and looked at Morris.

"Yes," Morris said, "and what did she say?"

"She says sure it is," Abe continued, "only, she says she got thrown out of a wagon last fall, and so she's kind of sour on horses. She says nowadays she don't go out except in oitermobiles."

"Oitermobiles!" Morris exclaimed, and Ralph Tuchman, whose protruding ears, sharp-pointed nose and gold spectacles did not belie his inquisitive disposition, ceased writing to listen more closely to Abe's story.

"That's what she said, Mawruss," Abe replied; "and so I says for my part, I liked it better oitermobiles as horses."

"Why, Abe," Morris cried, "you ain't never rode in an oitermobile in all your life."

"Sure not, Mawruss, I'm lucky if I get to a funeral oncet in a while. Ike," he broke off suddenly, "you better get them statements mailed."

Ralph Tuchman rose sadly and repaired to the office.

"That's a smart young feller, Mawruss," Abe commented, "and while you can't tell much about a feller from his face, Mawruss, I never seen them long ears on anyone that minded his own business, y'understand? And besides, I ain't taking no chances on his Uncle Max Tuchman getting advance information about this here Moe Gerschel's buyer."

Morris nodded. "Maybe you're right, Abe," he murmured.

"You was telling me what this Miss Abrahamson said, Abe."

"Miss Atkinson, Mawruss," Abe corrected, "not Abrahamson."

"Well, what did she say?" Morris asked.

"So she asks me if I ever went it oitermobiling," Abe went on, "and I says sure I did, and right away quick I seen it what she means; and I says how about going this afternoon; and she says she's agreeable. So I says, Mawruss, all right, I says, we'll mix business with pleasure, I says. I told her we'll go in an oitermobile to the Bronix already, and when we come back to the store at about, say, five o'clock we'll look over the line. Then after that we'll go to dinner, and after dinner we go to theayter. How's that, Mawruss?"

"I heard it worse idees than that, Abe," Morris replied; "because if you get this here Miss Aaronson down here in the store, naturally, she thinks if she gives us the order she gets better treatment at the dinner and at the theayter afterward."

"That's the way I figured it out, Mawruss," Abe agreed; "and also, I says to myself, Mawruss will enjoy it a good oitermobile ride."

"Me!" Morris cried. "What have I got to do with this here oitermobile ride, Abe?"

"What have you got to do with it, Mawruss?" Abe repeated. "Why, Mawruss, I'm surprised to hear you, you should talk that way. You got everything to do with it. I'm a back number, Mawruss; I don't know nothing about selling goods to lady buyers, ain't it? You say it yourself, a feller has got to be up-to-date to sell goods to lady buyers. So, naturally, you being the up-to-date member of this concern, you got to take Miss Atkinson out in the oitermobile."

"But, Abe," Morris protested, "I ain't never rode in an oitermobile, and there wouldn't be no pleasure in it for me, Abe. Why don't you go, Abe? You say it yourself you lead it a dawg's life on the road. Now, here's a chance for you to enjoy yourself, Abe, and you should go. Besides, Abe, you got commercial travelers' accident insurance, and I ain't."

"The oitermobile ain't coming till half-past one, Mawruss," Abe replied; "between now and then you could get it a hundred policies of accident insurance. No, Mawruss, this here lady-buyer business is up to you. I got a pointer from Sol Klinger to ring up a concern on Forty-sixth Street, which I done so, and fifteen dollars it costed me. That oitermobile is coming here for you at half-past one, and after that all you got to do is to go up to the Prince William Hotel and ask for Miss Atkinson."

"But, Abe," Morris protested, "I don't even know this here Miss Isaacson."

"Not Isaacson," Abe repeated; "Atkinson. You'd better write that name down, Mawruss, before you forget it."

"Never mind, Abe," Morris rejoined. "I don't need to write down things to remember 'em. I don't have to call a young feller out of his name just because my memory is bad, Abe. The name I'll remember good enough when it comes right down to it. Only, why should I go out oitermobiling riding with this Miss Atkinson, Abe? I'm the inside partner, ain't it? And you're the outside man. Do you know what I think, Abe? I think you're scared to ride in an oitermobile."

"Me scared!" Abe cried. "Why should I be scared, Mawruss? A little thing like a broken leg or a broken arm, Mawruss, don't scare me. I ain't going because it ain't my business to go. It's your idee, this lady-buyer business, and if you don't want to go we'll charge the fifteen dollars what I paid out to profit and loss and call the whole thing off."

He rose to his feet, thrust out his waist-line and made a dignified exit by way of closing the discussion. A moment later, however, he returned with less dignity than haste.

"Mawruss," he hissed, "that young feller—that—that—now, Ike—is telephoning."

"Well," Morris replied, "one telephone message ain't going to put us into bankruptcy, Abe."

"Bankruptcy, nothing!" Abe exclaimed. "He's telephoning to his Uncle Max Tuchman."

Morris jumped to his feet, and on the tips of their toes they darted to the rear of the store.

"All right, Uncle Max," they heard Ralph Tuchman say. "I'll see you to-night. Good-by."

Abe and Morris exchanged significant glances, while Ralph slunk guiltily away to Miss Cohen's desk.

"Let's fire him on the spot," Abe said.

Morris shook his head. "What good will that do, Abe?" Morris replied. "We ain't certain that he told Max Tuchman nothing, Abe. For all you and me know, Max may of rung him up about something quite different already."

"I believe it, Mawruss," Abe said ironically. "But, anyhow, I'm going to ring up that oitermobile concern on Forty-sixth Street and tell 'em to send it around here at twelve o'clock. Then you can go up there to the hotel, and if that Miss Atkinson ain't had her lunch yet buy it for her, Mawruss, for so sure as you stand there I bet yer that young feller, Ike, has rung up this here Max Tuchman and told him all about us going up there to take her out in an oitermobile. I bet yer Max will get the biggest oitermobile he can find up there right away, and he's going to steal her away from us, sure, if we don't hustle."

"Dreams you got it, Abe," Morris said. "How should this here young feller, Ralph Tuchman, know that Miss Aaronson was a customer of his Uncle Max Tuchman, Abe?"

Abe looked at Morris more in sorrow than in anger. "Mawruss," he said, "do me the favor once and write that name down. A-T at, K-I-N kin, S-O-N son, Atkinson—not Aaronson."

"That's what I said—Atkinson—Abe," Morris protested; "and if you're so scared we're going to lose her, Abe, go ahead and 'phone. We got to sell goods to lady buyers some time, Abe, and we may as well make the break now."

Abe waited to hear no more, but hastened to the 'phone, and when he returned a few minutes later he found that Morris had gone to the barber shop across the street. Twenty minutes afterward a sixty-horsepower machine arrived at the store door just as Morris came up the steps of the barber shop underneath Wasserbauer's Cafe and Restaurant. He almost bumped into Philip Plotkin, of Kleinberg & Plotkin, who was licking the refractory wrapper of a Wheeling stogy, with one eye fixed on the automobile in front of his competitors' store.

"Hallo, Mawruss," Philip cried. "Pretty high-toned customers you must got it when they come down to the store in oitermobiles, ain't it?"

Morris flashed his gold fillings in a smile of triumphant superiority. "That ain't no customer's oitermobile, Philip," he said. "That's for us an oitermobile, what we take it out our customers riding in."

"Why don't you take it out credit men from commission houses riding, Mawruss?" Philip rejoined as Morris stepped from the curb to cross the street. This was an allusion to the well-known circumstance that with credit men a customer's automobile-riding inspires as much confidence as his betting on the horse races, and when Morris climbed into the tonneau he paid little attention to Abe's instructions, so busy was he glancing around him for prying credit men. At length, with a final jar and jerk the machine sprang forward, and for the rest of the journey Morris' mind was emptied of every other apprehension save that engendered of passing trucks or street cars. Finally, the machine drew up in front of the Prince William and Morris scrambled out, trembling in every limb. He made at once for the clerk's desk.

"Please send this to Miss Isaacson," he said, handing out a firm card.

The clerk consulted an index and shook his head. "No Miss Isaacson registered here," he said.

"Oh, sure not," Morris cried, smiling apologetically. "I mean Miss Aaronson."

Once more the clerk pawed over his card index. "You've got the wrong hotel," he declared. "I don't see any Miss Aaronson here, either."

Morris scratched his head. He mentally passed in review Jacobson, Abrahamson, and every other Biblical proper name combined with the suffix "son," but rejected them all.

"The lady what I want to see it is buyer for a department store in Duluth, what arrived here this morning," Morris explained.

"Let me see," the clerk mused; "buyer, hey? What was she a buyer of?"

"Cloaks and suits," Morris answered.

"Suits, hey?" the clerk commented. "Let me see—buyer of suits. Was that the lady that was expecting somebody with an automobile?"

Morris nodded emphatically.

"Well, that party called for her and they left here about ten minutes ago," the clerk replied.

"What!" Morris gasped.

"Maybe it was five minutes ago," the clerk continued. "A gentleman with a red tie and a fine diamond pin. His name was Tucker or Tuckerton or——"

"Tuchman," Morris cried.

"That's right," said the clerk; "he was a——"

But Morris turned on his heel and darted wildly toward the entrance.

"Say!" he cried, hailing the carriage agent, "did you seen it a lady and a gent in an oitermobile leave here five minutes ago?"

"Ladies and gents leave here in automobiles on an average of every three minutes," said the carriage agent.

"Sure, I know," Morris continued, "but the gent wore it a red tie with a big diamond."

"Red tie with a big diamond," the carriage agent repeated. "Oh, yeh—I remember now. The lady wanted to know where they was going, and the red necktie says up to the Heatherbloom Inn and something about getting back to his store afterward."

Morris nodded vigorously.

"So I guess they went up to the Heatherbloom Inn," the carriage agent said.

Once more Morris darted away without waiting to thank his informant, and again he climbed into the tonneau of the machine.

"Do you know where the Heatherbloom Inn is?" he asked the chauffeur.

"What you tryin' to do?" the chauffeur commented. "Kid me?"

"I ain't trying to do nothing," Morris explained. "I ask it you a simple question: Do you know where the Heatherbloom Inn is?"

"Say! do you know where Baxter Street is?" the chauffeur asked, and then without waiting for an answer he opened the throttle and they glided around the corner into Fifth Avenue. It was barely half-past twelve and the tide of fashionable traffic had not yet set in. Hence the motor car made good progress, nor was it until Fiftieth Street was reached that a block of traffic caused them to halt. An automobile had collided with a delivery wagon, and a wordy contest was waging between the driver of the wagon, the chauffeur, one of the occupants of the automobile and a traffic-squad policeman.

"You don't know your business," a loud voice proclaimed, addressing the policeman. "If you did you wouldn't be sitting up there like a dummy already. This here driver run into us. We didn't run into him."

It was the male occupant of the automobile that spoke, and in vain did his fair companion clutch at the tails of the linen duster that he wore; he was in the full tide of eloquence and thoroughly enjoying himself.

The mounted policeman maintained his composure—the calm of a volcano before its eruption, the ominous lull that precedes the tornado.

"And furthermore," continued the passenger, throwing out his chest, whereon sparkled a large diamond enfolded in crimson silk—"and furthermore, I'll see to it that them superiors of yours down below hears of it."

The mounted policeman jumped nimbly from his horse, and as Morris rose in the tonneau of his automobile he saw Max Tuchman being jerked bodily to the street, while his fair companion shrieked hysterically.

Morris opened the door and sprang out. With unusual energy he wormed his way through the crowd that surrounded the policeman and approached the side of the automobile.

"Lady, lady," he cried, "I don't remember your name, but I'm a friend of Max Tuchman here, and I'll get you out of this here crowd in a minute."

He opened the door opposite to the side out of which Tuchman had made his enforced exit, and offered his hand to Max's trembling companion.

The lady hesitated a brief moment. Any port in a storm, she argued to herself, and a moment later she was seated beside Morris in the latter's car, which was moving up the Avenue at a good twenty-mile gait. The chauffeur took advantage of the traffic policeman's professional engagement with Max Tuchman, and it was not until the next mounted officer hove into view that he brought his car down to its lawful gait.

"If you're a friend of Mr. Tuchman's," said the lady at length, "why didn't you go with him to the police station and bail him out?"

Morris grinned. "I guess you'll know when I tell it you that my name is Mr. Perlmutter," he announced, "of Potash & Perlmutter."

The lady turned around and glanced uneasily at Morris. "Is that so?" she said. "Well, I'm pleased to meet you, Mr. Perlmutter."

"So, naturally, I don't feel so bad as I might about it," Morris went on.

"Naturally?" the lady commented. She looked about her apprehensively. "Perhaps we'd better go back to the Prince William. Don't you think so?"

"Why, you was going up to the Heatherbloom Inn with Max Tuchman, wasn't you?" Morris said.

"How did you find that out?" she asked.

"A small-size bird told it me," Morris replied jocularly. "But, anyhow, no jokes nor nothing, why shouldn't we go up and have lunch at the Heatherbloom Inn? And then you can come down and look at our line, anyhow."

"Well," said the lady, "if you can show me those suits as well as Mr. Tuchman could, I suppose it really won't make any difference."

"I can show 'em to you better than Mr. Tuchman could," Morris said; "and now so long as you are content to come downtown we won't talk business no more till we get there."

They had an excellent lunch at the Heatherbloom Inn, and many a hearty laugh from the lady testified to her appreciation of Morris' naive conversation. The hour passed pleasantly for Morris, too, since the lady's unaffected simplicity set him entirely at his ease. To be sure, she was neither young nor handsome, but she had all the charm that self-reliance and ability give to a woman.

"A good, smart, business head she's got it," Morris said to himself, "and I wish I could remember that name."

Had he not feared that his companion might think it strange, he would have asked her name outright. Once he called her Miss Aaronson, but the look of amazement with which she favored him effectually discouraged him from further experiment in that direction. Thenceforth he called her "lady," a title which made her smile and seemed to keep her in excellent humor.

At length they concluded their meal—quite a modest repast and comparatively reasonable in price—and as they rose to leave Morris looked toward the door and gasped involuntarily. He could hardly believe his senses, for there blocking the entrance stood a familiar bearded figure. It was Marcus Bramson—the conservative, back-number Marcus Bramson—and against him leaned a tall, stout person not quite as young as her clothes and wearing a large picture hat. Obviously this was not Mrs. Bramson, and the blush with which Marcus Bramson recognized Morris only confirmed the latter's suspicions.

Mr. Bramson murmured a few words to the youthfully-dressed person at his side, and she glared venomously at Morris, who precipitately followed his companion to the automobile. Five minutes afterward he was chatting with the lady as they sped along Riverside Drive.

"Duluth must be a fine town," he suggested.

"It is indeed," the lady agreed. "I have some relatives living there."

"That should make it pleasant for you, lady," Morris went on, and thereafter the conversation touched on relatives, whereupon Morris favored his companion with a few intimate details of his family life that caused her to laugh until she was completely out of breath. To be sure, Morris could see nothing remarkably humorous about it himself, and when one or two anecdotes intended to be pathetic were received with tears of mirth rather than sympathy he felt somewhat annoyed. Nevertheless, he hid his chagrin, and it was not long before the familiar sign of Wasserbauer's Cafe and Restaurant warned Morris that they had reached their destination. He assisted his companion to alight and ushered her into the show-room.

"Just a minute, lady," he said, "and I'll bring Mr. Potash here."

"But," the lady protested, "I thought Mr. Lapidus was the gentleman who had charge of it."

"That's all right," Morris said, "you just wait and I'll bring Mr. Potash here."

He took the stairs to the cutting-room three at a jump. "Abe," he cried, "Miss Aaronson is downstairs."

Abe's face, which wore a worried frown, grew darker still as he regarded his partner malevolently. "What's the matter with you, Mawruss?" he said. "Can't you remember a simple name like Atkinson?"

"Atkinson!" Morris cried. "That's it—Atkinson. I've been trying to remember it that name for four hours already. But, anyhow, she's downstairs, Abe."

Abe rose from his task and made at once for the stairs, with Morris following at his heels. In four strides he had reached the show-room, but no sooner had he crossed the threshold than he started back violently, thereby knocking the breath out of Morris, who was nearly precipitated to the floor.

"Morris," he hissed, "who is that there lady?"

"Why," Morris answered, "that's Miss Aaronson—I mean Atkinson—ain't it?"

"Atkinson!" Abe yelled. "That ain't Miss Atkinson."

"Then who is she?" Morris asked.

"Who is she?" Abe repeated. "That's a fine question for you to ask me. You take a lady for a fifteen-dollar oitermobile ride, and spend it as much more for lunch in her, and you don't even know her name!"

A cold perspiration broke out on Morris and he fairly staggered into the show-room. "Lady," he croaked, "do me a favor and tell me what is your name, please."

The lady laughed. "Well, Mr. Perlmutter," she said, "I'm sure this is most extraordinary. Of course, there is such a thing as combining business and pleasure; but, as I told Mr. Tuchman when he insisted on taking me up to the Heatherbloom Inn, the Board of Trustees control the placing of the orders. I have only a perfunctory duty to perform when I examine the finished clothing."

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