I had secured the adoption of our dictionaries in every county visited by me, and now the publishers desired me to remain on the Pacific coast permanently, without salary, relying on commissions on sales of their books made by me and my sub-agents by canvassing, from house to house. This financial proposition was far from being alluring, for the laws enacted by a national democratic rule of four years had ruined many of the principal industries of this section, and the larger cities required a license fee of twenty dollars per week from all canvassing agents. Many houses displayed large signs, “No book agents allowed here,” and they kept ferocious dogs to enforce the rule. The majority of the people were poor; the rich were already supplied with dictionaries; and the schools would have no funds available with which to buy reference books for nearly a year. Competing agents had visited every house before my arrival on the coast, and I therefore resigned my worthless position, and took the Eastern agency for a Tonic Port which had, by its wonderful efficacy, delivered many from the horrors of nervous prostration, anaemia, and kindred diseases which afflict so many of the human race.
Another disenchantment,—another Eden becomes a Sahara. I had reached the Pacific coast just when the departing rainy season had left all nature fair as a poet’s dream of love, and, vainly dreaming that this was perpetual, it seemed as if I would sigh for no other heaven. But the scorching heat and Siroccoes from the Mohave Desert followed close upon the rear-guard of the retreating, life-giving rain-clouds, and soon the lovely flowers died; the enchanting green grass withered; the soul of the beautiful vanished, and the suffocating dust storms buried the earth in a ghostly shroud, save where wealth was sufficient to bring the mountain streams for irrigation.
I had for a time reveled in the dreams which fleetingly haunt all mortals, that there I had found the lost Arcadia, where balmy zephyrs fan the brow into ecstasy forever; but, alas! After a brief respite I had, in that land which the real estate sharks called “Paradise,” suffered more from alternating chilling winds and withering heat than ever before; one day sweltering in the thinnest of seersuckers, and perhaps the very next shivering in all the woolens I could command.
Without a shadow of regret or even a backward look, I bade farewell to the Pacific and returned to the Atlantic of my youth, until the day dawns and the shadows flee away.
I sojourned for some months in the cities of Richmond, Baltimore, Providence, and Philadelphia, endeavoring to impress upon the minds of the physicians the importance of prescribing my remedy, but with no glittering financial success, lingering for weeks in the last named city, on the very verge of the grave to which I was brought by the filthy water of that grotesquely misnamed “City of Brotherly Love.”