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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 173 pages of information about Paul Prescott's Charge.

“But suppose they don’t want anything?” said Paul.

“Make ’em want something,” returned Smith, “Don’t let ’em off without buying.  That’s my motto.  However, you’ll learn.”

Smith bustled off, and began in his nervous way to exercise a general supervision over all that was going on in the store.  He seemed to be all eyes.  While apparently entirely occupied in waiting upon a customer, he took notice of all the customers in the store, and could tell what they bought, and how much they paid.

Paul listened attentively to the clerk under whom he was placed for instruction.

“What’s the price of this calico?” inquired a common-looking woman.

“A shilling a yard, ma’am,” (this was not in war times.)

“It looks rather coarse.”

“Coarse, ma’am!  What can you be thinking of?  It is a superfine piece of goods.  We sell more of it than of any other figure.  The mayor’s wife was in here yesterday, and bought two dress patterns off of it.”

“Did she?” asked the woman, who appeared favorably impressed by this circumstance.

“Yes, and she promised to send her friends here after some of it.  You’d better take it while you can get it.”

“Will it wash?”

“To be sure it will.”

“Then I guess you may cut me off ten yards.”

This was quickly done, and the woman departed with her purchase.

Five minutes later, another woman entered with a bundle of the same figured calico.

Seeing her coming, Williams hastily slipped the remnant of the piece out of sight.

“I got this calico here,” said the newcomer, “one day last week.  You warranted it to wash, but I find it won’t.  Here’s a piece I’ve tried.”

She showed a pattern, which had a faded look.

“You’ve come to the wrong store,” said Williams, coolly.  “You must have got the calico somewhere else.”

“No, I’m sure I got it here.  I remember particularly buying it of you.”

“You’ve got a better memory than I have, then.  We haven’t got a piece of calico like that in the store.”

Paul listened to this assertion with unutterable surprise.

“I am quite certain I bought it here,” said the woman, perplexed.

“Must have been the next store,—­Blake & Hastings.  Better go over there.”

The woman went out.

“That’s the way to do business,” said Williams, winking at Paul.

Paul said nothing, but he felt more than ever doubtful about retaining his place.

XXII.

Mr. Benton’s adventure.

One evening, about a fortnight after his entrance into Smith & Thompson’s employment, Paul was putting up the shutters, the business of the day being over.  It devolved upon him to open and close the store, and usually he was the last one to go home.

This evening, however, Mr. Nicholas Benton graciously remained behind and assisted Paul in closing the store.  This was unusual, and surprised Paul a little.  It was soon explained, however.

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