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With Interest To Date
by [?]

This is the tale of a wrong that rankled and a great revenge. It is not a moral story, nor yet, measured by the modern money code, is it what could be called immoral. It is merely a tale of sharp wits which clashed in pursuit of business, therefore let it be considered unmoral, a word with a wholly different commercial significance.

Time was when wrongs were righted by mace and battle-ax, amid fanfares and shoutings, but we live in a quieter age, an age of repression, wherein the keenest thrust is not delivered with a yell of triumph nor the oldest score settled to the blare of trumpets. No longer do the men of great muscle lord it over the weak and the puny; as a rule they toil and they lift, doing unpleasant, menial duties for hollow-chested, big-domed men with eye-glasses. But among those very spindle-shanked, terra-cotta dwellers who cower at draughts and eat soda mints, the ancient struggle for supremacy wages fiercer than ever. Single combats are fought now as then, and the flavor of victory is quite as sweet to the pallid man back of a roll-top desk as to the swart, bristling baron behind his vizored helmet.

The beginning of this story runs back to the time Henry Hanford went with the General Equipment Company as a young salesman full of hope and enthusiasm and a somewhat exaggerated idea of his own importance. He was selling shears, punches, and other machinery used in the fabrication of structural steel. In the territory assigned to him, the works of the Atlantic Bridge Company stuck up like a sore thumb, for although it employed many men, although its contracts were large and its requirements numerous, the General Equipment Company had never sold it a dollar’s worth of anything.

In the course of time Hanford convinced himself that the Atlantic Bridge Company needed more modern machinery, so he laid siege to Jackson Wylie, Sr., its president and practical owner. He spent all of six months in gaining the old man’s ear, but when he succeeded he laid himself out to sell his goods. He analyzed the Atlantic Bridge Company’s needs in the light of modern milling practice, and demonstrated the saving his equipment would effect. A big order and much prestige were at stake, both of which young Hanford needed badly at the time. He was vastly encouraged, therefore, when the bridge-builder listened attentively to him.

“I dare say we shall have to make a change,” Mr. Wylie reluctantly agreed. “I’ve been bothered to death by machinery salesmen, but you’re the first one to really interest me.”

Hanford acknowledged the compliment and proceeded further to elaborate upon the superiority of the General Equipment Company’s goods over those sold by rival concerns. When he left he felt that he had Mr. Wylie, Sr., “going.”

At the office they warned him that he had a hard nut to crack; that Wylie was given to “stringing” salesmen and was a hard man to close with, but Hanford smiled confidently. Granting those facts, they rendered him all the more eager to make this sale; and the bridge company really did need up-to-date machinery.

He instituted an even more vigorous selling campaign, he sent much printed matter to Mr. Wylie, Sr., he wrote him many letters. Being a thoroughgoing young saleman, he studied the plant from the ground up, learning the bridge business in such detail as enabled him to talk with authority on efficiency methods. In the course of his studies he discovered many things that were wrong with the Atlantic, and spent days in outlining improvements on paper. He made the acquaintance of the foremen; he cultivated the General Superintendent; he even met Mr. Jackson Wylie, Jr., the Sales Manager, a very polished, metallic young man, who seemed quite as deeply impressed with Hanford’s statements as did his father.