The agent of the Excelsior County History Company called and asked me how I was getting along with the history, and when I showed him what I have written, he changed the subject and began urging me to subscribe for a lot of copies when it is printed, and especially, to make a contract for having my picture in it. He tried to charge me two hundred seventy-five dollars for a steel engraving, and said I could keep the plate and have others made from it. Then I saw through him. He never wanted my history of the township. He just wanted to swindle me into buying a lot of copies to give away, and he wanted most to bamboozle me into having a picture made, not half so good as I can get for a few dollars a dozen at any good photographer’s, and pay him the price of a good team of horses for it. He thought he could gull old Jake Vandemark! If I would pay for it, I could get printed in the book a few of my remarks on the history of the township, and my two-hundred-and-seventy-five-dollar picture. Others would write about something else, and get their pictures in. In that way this smooth scoundrel would make thousands of dollars out of people’s vanity—and he expected me to be one of them! If I can put him in jail I’ll do it—or I would if it were not for posting myself as a fool.
“Look here,” I said, after he had told me what a splendid thing it would be to have my picture in the book so future generations could see what a big man I was. “Do you want what I know about the history of Vandemark Township in your book, or are you just out after my money?”
“Well,” he said, “if, after you’ve written twenty or thirty pages, and haven’t got any nearer Vandemark Township than a canal-boat, somewhere east of Syracuse, New York, in 1850, I’ll need some money if I print the whole story—judging of its length by that. Of course, the publication of the book must be financed.”
“There’s the door!” I said, and pointed to it.
He went out like a shot, and Gertrude, who was on the front porch, came flying in to see what he was running from. I was just opening the stove door. In fact I had put some scraps of paper in; but there was no fire.
“Why, grandpa,” she cried, “what’s the matter? What’s this manuscript you’re destroying? Tell me about it!”
“Give it to me!” I shouted; but she sat down with it and began reading. I rushed out, and was gone an hour. When I came back, she had pasted the pages together, and was still reading them. She came to me and put her arms about my neck and kissed me; and finally coaxed me into telling her all about the disgraceful affair.
Well, the result of it all was that she has convinced me of the fact that I had better go on with the history. She says that these county-history promoters are all slippery people, but that if I can finish the history as I have begun, it may be well worth while.