Scott found a letter awaiting him at the hotel, of the following
“We are notified that the stock of Frost, Burks & Co., of Buffalo,
will be sold at a great sacrifice. We append a list of articles
that we would like to buy if they will be sold at, say sixty per
cent. of the ordinary wholesale price. At that rate, you may buy
without limit, or you can take the whole stock if a commensurate
reduction should be made.
“TOWER, DOUGLAS & CO.”
Scott went to Buffalo in the same train as Ezra Little, but in a
different car, so that the latter did not know his humble cousin was on
board. The earl went along, and proposed to look about the city while
his young companion was engaged.
Scott took a cab, feeling that the emergency justified it, while Ezra
Little waited a considerable time for a horse car. The result was that
Scott was with the assignee twenty minutes before Mr. Little arrived.
When Scott was introduced, the assignee, a gentleman named Clark,
regarded him impatiently.
“I’ve no time to waste with boys,” he said. “I am very busy.”
“I am a boy,” replied Scott, quietly, “but I represent the firm of
Tower, Douglas & Co., of New York. There is my card.”
“Is this really so?” asked the assignee, almost incredulous.
“You can rely upon it. What could be my object in making a false
“Very well, Mr. Walton. Are you empowered to purchase?”
“To what extent?”
“That depends on the terms I obtain. I may take your whole stock if
there’s sufficient inducement.”
The assignee looked amazed.
“We shall certainly prefer to sell the entire stock to one purchaser.”
“And will you make it worth my while?”
“What terms do you offer?”
“Half cash, half on thirty days.”
“That will be satisfactory.”
“Have you an inventory?”
Scott looked it carefully over. He was offered even better terms than
his employers had stipulated for.
At the end of half an hour he had agreed to purchase the entire stock,
conditioned upon the amount and quality of goods being as represented.
He knew enough of the value of goods to feel that he had made a good
bargain for the firm.
Meanwhile, Ezra Little and Loammi had arrived.
“There’s a gentleman with Mr. Clark,” said a clerk.
“Please carry in my card,” ordered Mr. Little, pompously.
He felt that his name would secure respectful consideration.
But he had to wait half an hour. Then, on entering the office, he found
to his surprise Scott ahead of him. He nodded to him coolly, and in a
tone of some importance said: “Mr. Clark, I have come to look over your
stock, and if I find it and your terms satisfactory I may make
“I am sorry to disappoint you, Mr. Little,” said the assignee,
referring to the card in his hand, “but you are too late.”
“How am I too late?”
“I have sold the entire stock to one party.”
Ezra Little looked astonished and disappointed.
“May I ask to whom you have sold?” he inquired.
“To this young man.”
“To that boy?” ejaculated Ezra Little.
“Yes; he represents the great New York firm of Tower, Douglas & Co.”
“That is a mistake,” said Ezra, indignantly. “He is an impostor. He was
employed by them, but has been discharged.”
The assignee looked alarmed.
“What do you say to this, Mr. Walton?” he asked.
“Simply that it is false,” returned Scott. “If you have any doubts as to
my being in the employ of the firm, you can look at this letter received
The assignee read the letter given at the commencement of this chapter.
“Mr. Little, you appear to be mistaken,” he said, severely. “What can be
your object in trying to discredit Mr. Walton, I will not inquire,
though I can guess at it. If you wish to negotiate for any of the stock
I refer you to him. He obtained it on such terms that he can afford to
deal with you liberally.”
This was gall and wormwood to Mr. Little, but he wished to make his
journey pay, and broached the subject to Scott.
“Will you sell me what I want at the price you paid?” he asked.
“No, Mr. Little, I cannot do that, but I will sell at five per cent.
When Mr. Little made an examination of prices, he ascertained that even
on these terms he would make a better bargain than he anticipated. The
result was that he bought five thousand dollars’ worth of goods from
Scott, and felt sure that even then he would clear more than a thousand
dollars on his purchases.
As he left the office with Scott, Loammi questioned him eagerly.
“Did you buy many goods of the assignee?” he inquired.
“But I thought you meant to.”
“I bought of Scott.”
“What has he to do with it?”
“I found that he had bought the entire stock before I got into the
“What do you mean, pa? You’re joking, ain’t you?”
“Of course, Mr. Little,” said Scott, “the sale must be ratified by my
firm. I will, however, make a special request to that effect, and I
don’t anticipate that they will interfere with my arrangements.”
“Are you going back to Niagara on the next train, Scott?” asked Ezra
“No; I must wire the firm of what I have done. Then I have agreed to
meet the earl at the Mansion House, where we shall dine.”
“When will you return to New York?”
“Probably I shall take the night train.”
“I shall wait a day or two. I have not yet had a chance to see the
“Then if I don’t see you again, Cousin Ezra, I shall bid you good-by.”
“Good-by, Scott. If you leave your present employer at any time I will
give you five dollars a week and your board.”
“Thank you,” said Scott, with a smile.
He was not conceited, but it struck him that one who had been intrusted
with such a responsible commission was worth considerably more than this
“How have you succeeded, Scott?” asked the earl, when they met at the
Scott told him.
“How much will your purchases amount to, Scott?”
“Probably to eighty thousand dollars.”
“It is wonderful. And you are only seventeen years old!”
“I believe so,” said Scott, smiling.
“I am not sure but it would be for my advantage to go into business with
“What shall be the style of the firm? The Earl of Windermere & Co.?”
“We will consider that. When do you propose to return to New York?”
“I’m sorry I can’t go with you. I shall start in three days, and when I
take up my residence in New York it will be at the Windsor Hotel. Will
you call and see me there?”
“With the greatest pleasure, my lord.”
“You mean Mr. Grant.”
“Well, Mr. Grant. But when others are present I will use your title.”
Some time during the next day Scott reached New York. He lost no time in
calling at the store, and reported his business operations in detail.
He was received with great cordiality.
“Scott,” said Mr. Tower, “you have quite surpassed my expectations. I
own I had some hesitation about intrusting you with the Buffalo
business, but you have managed it to my satisfaction.”
Scott told him of his transaction with Mr. Little.
“I told him it would depend on your ratification,” he said.
“I will ratify it,” said Mr. Tower, “and the five per cent. shall be
“Thank you, Mr. Tower. You are very liberal. Two hundred and fifty
dollars will make me feel rich.”
“We will pay you five hundred dollars besides for your general services
during the six weeks you have been absent, and your salary will be
raised to forty dollars a week.”
“I don’t know how to thank you, Mr. Tower. It is only fair to tell you
that I have an offer from another firm.”
“Did they offer you more? What firm is it?”
“Ezra Little. He offered me five dollars a week and my board, in case I
ever leave you.”
Mr. Tower seemed much amused.
“You can accept the offer if you desire,” he said.
“I prefer to stay with you, if you are willing,” said Scott.
“You can stay as long as you like. We should be sorry to lose you.”