A Storyteller’s Story

In Chicago I had ruined my chances of becoming a successful man of affairs because I could not take affairs seriously but that had not bothered me. Often enough, to be sure, I dodged the fact that, after having started on the scent of some tale I turned aside because I could not follow the scent and consoled myself by saying that the need of money had been the cause of my defeat or that the need of leisure had upset me but it was always a lie.

I was an advertising man in Chicago and sat in a room with some half a dozen others. We had met to discuss some matter of grave importance to say a maker of plows or automobile tires. The matter was really of no importance to me. The man had come to Chicago with three of four others and we were to discuss methods of increasing his sales. So many thousands of tires made, so many thousands of plows. There were other makers of tires, other makers of plows too. Could we be more persuasive than they, more bold and daring in statement, more foxy and clever perhaps?

We sat in a room to talk it over and near me sat a large man with a beard. Someone had told me that he was the treasurer of the plow company but that had meant little. Now, as he sat there smoking a cigarette and gazing out at a window I saw, just when his head was slightly turned, that he had a long scar on his cheek, that he had grown the beard to conceal the scar. The talk went on but I sat fascinated. “We must develop the trade in the southwest, that’s what we must do,” said a voice from some far-distant place. Pictures had begun to form in my fancy. Beside the voices in the room, other voices were making themselves heard. Old memories had begun to stir.

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