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I started at once to the door to let him out. I could see that he was bothered considerable. For he sort of staggered as he walked across the floor. And his eyes glazed over, something like a steer just after he has been hit. He didn't say good-bye. He stumbled out through the office door and went away.
I was glad when the interview was over. I knew that I'd have to go through it; and now was relieved. Parker took it in a different way from what I had looked for. Instead of flaring up, he took it so quiet-like that I kind of felt sorry for him. But I wasn't in Wall Street for my health. If he thought I was going to lose money in order to help him, he had come to the wrong shop, that's all. Business is business. When I had told him some days before that I'd help him out with the money, I was in a different position from what I now was. For I had now disposed of most of my Erie stock. So that I'd have been a fool to loan Parker any money to keep the price of the stock up. When I have sold out my shares it isn't to my interest to keep the price up. It's to my interest then to have the price of that particular stock tumble just as fast and as far as it will. Because I can then buy it in once more.
And that is what happened in the present case. It wasn't an hour or two after Parker left
office, before Erie fell off several points. For Parker
having now been taken out of the way (I guess the Street hasn't seen hide nor hair of him since), was no longer there to support the market. The price fell rapidly. The slump was also helped by Secretary Chase, who came into Wall Street just now and borrowed $35,000,000 for the Government. Erie dropped to ninety-nine. Thus I was able to buy back dog-cheap the shares I'd sold at the top of the market. I took a slice out of Parker on this deal which helped my fortune considerable.
NE day, about this time, I was in my office
at 22 William Street, when the boy came
in and said there was a man in the outer office by the name of Fisk. “He wants to see you on a business matter.'
"Send him in,” said I. I said it to the boy sort of careless-like, not expecting anything much. It was a name that didn't mean anything to me. Thought it was some stranger coming to see me on a small affair or other. I turned to the stock ticker once more, and to reading the quotations. The door opened. A man came in.
“I'm Fisk,” said he. He stepped up and took my hand. He was as brisk as a bottle of ale.“ James Fisk, Junior, of New York and Boston. “Jim Fisk,' the boys call me, where I'm known. But I suppose here I'll have to put on all the lugs. Mr. Drew, I have come to sell those Stonington shares of yours.
I got my hand loose from his, and sat down. I got my breath after a minute. Not that I was mad. Somehow or other, you couldn't get mad at the fellow — he had such a hearty way about him. And he was so almighty sure of himself, he made every
body else sure of him, too. He was a big man, heavy-set, with blond hair, and a moustache the colour of a Jersey cow.
He wore a velvet vest, cut low, so as to show well-nigh half of his shirt-bosom. His hands were fat, and had rings all over them. I could see he was a fellow to scrape up an acquaintance on short notice.
“And may I ask who is this Mr. James Fisk, Junior?” I managed to inquire, after I had got my breath again. (I always did have a knack of being very cold and dignified when I wanted to.)
“Of course, you can ask,” said he. “I'll give you the whole pedigree, if you want it. I'm from Vermont
your Green Mountain boys. I was a peddler up there. Got to be the Prince of Peddlers. That's what they called me. My father was a peddler before me. Everybody around Bennington knows my father. But they know me a mighty sight better. I put my father in the shade before I'd been a peddler six months. I'm one of the go-ahead sort. Never was cut out to be a mossgatherer. It's push with me — all the time. And if
you want to entrust me with the sale of this railroad stock of yours, I'll prove it to you. Up there in Vermont I had hardly started out before I had a peddler's wagon with four horses. “Jobber in silks, shawls, dress goods, jewelry, silver-ware and Yankee notions' – that's the way my sign read. To see me come into a town, you'd have thought the
circus had arrived. In fact, I got the idea from a circus I used to travel with, Van Amberg's — that was before I became a peddler.”
“What?” said I; “did you use to travel with Van Amberg's Menagerie ?”
"Well, I guess. I got to be assistant doorkeeper in that shebang. Ever hear of it?”
“Ever hear of it?” said I. “Why, old Ike Van Amberg started that show of his from my part of the country, up in Putnam County. I know something about the menagerie business myself.”
“Is that so ?” said he. “Shake again, pardner! I didn't know when I came in here that I was getting among my own kith and kin.”
Why, yes,” said I; “I was in the circus business before you was born. Came near being in it yet, for that matter." “I want to know!” said he. “Say, did you
have the wild mule, same's they do now, for the farmer boys to ride 'once around the ring for five dollars'?”
“No," said I. “We hadn't thought of that back in my time."
“Then you don't know what fun it is,” said he. “Lord, it used to split my sides with laughing! In our show we had a mule picked up somewhere in our travels. Picked him up for a song, for that matter. He was so wild, the farmer we bought him of couldn't do anything with him. But we broke him. That is, we broke him enough for one of the