One day the Main Works of a Wholesale House was Jacking Up the Private Secretary and getting ready to close his desk for the Day, when in blew a Country Customer. The Head of the Concern would have given Seven Dollars if he could have got out and caught the Elevated before the Country Customer showed up. However, he was Politic, and he knew he must not throw down a Buyer who discounted his Bills and was good as Old Wheat. So he gave a Correct Imitation of a Man who is tickled nearly to Death. After calling the Country Customer “Jim,” he made him sit down and tell him about the Family, and the Crops, and Collections, and the Prospects for Duck-Shooting. Then, selecting an opportune moment, he threw up Both Hands. He said he had almost forgotten the Vestry Meeting at Five O’clock, and going out to Dinner at Six-Thirty. He was about to Call Off the Vestry Meeting, the Dinner, and all other Engagements for a Week to come, but Jim would not Listen to it. As a Compromise the Head of the Concern said he would ask their Mr. Byrd to take charge of the Country Customer. They could surely find some Way of putting in the Evening. He said the Oratorio Club war going to sing at Music Hall, and also there was a Stereopticon Lecture on India. Jim said he would prefer the Stereopticon Show, because he loved to look at Pictures.
The Head of the Concern said that the Country Customer would be sure to like their Mr. Byrd. Everybody liked Byrd. His Full Name was Mr. Knight Byrd.
He pushed on a few Buttons and blew into several snaky Tubes and put the whole Shop on the Jump to find Mr. Byrd. The latter happened to be in a Rathskeller not far away. When he heard that there was Work to be done in his Department he brushed away the Crumbs and Hot-Footed up to see the Boss.
In presenting Mr. Byrd to the Country Customer the Head of the Concern laid it on with a Shovel. He said that Jim Here was his Friend, and the House considered it an Honor to Entertain him. The Country Customer sat there feeling Sheepish and Unworthy but a good deal Puffed Up just the same. Then the Head of the Firm made his Escape and the Country Customer was in the Hands of Mr. Byrd.
Mr. Byrd was known in the Establishment as the Human Expense Account. No one had ever accused him of being a Quitter. He was supposed to be Hollow inside. Whenever any Friend of the Firm showed up, Mr. Byrd was called upon to take charge of him and Entertain him to a Stand-Still. The Boss was troubled with Dyspepsia, and Conscientious Scruples, and a Growing Family, and a few other Items that prevented him from going out at Night with the Visiting Trade. He had it arranged to give each one of them a choice Mess of Beautiful Language and then pass him along to Mr. Byrd.
Mr. Byrd was a Rosy and Red-Headed Gentleman, with a slight Overhang below the Shirt Front. He breathed like a Rusty Valve every time he had to go up a Stairway, but he had plenty of Endurance of another Kind. For Years he had been playing his Thirst against his Capacity, and it was still a Safe Bet, whichever Way you wanted to place your Money. His Batting Average was about Seven Nights to the Week. He discovered that Alcohol was a Food long before the Medical Journals got onto it.
Mr. Byrd’s chief value to the Wholesale House lay in the Fact that he could Meet all Comers and close up half the Places in Town, and then show up next Morning with a Clean Collar and a White Carnation, and send in word to lead out another Country Customer.