Story type: Essay
I went into the Chicago Board of Trade awhile ago to see about buying some seed wheat for sowing on my farm next spring. I heard that I could get wheat cheaper there than anywhere else, so I went over. The members of the Board seemed to be all present. They were on the upper floor of the house, about three hundred of them, I judge, engaged in conversation. All of them were conversing when I entered, with the exception of a sad-looking man who had just been squeezed into a corner and injured, I was told. I told him that arnica was as good as anything I knew of for that, but he seemed irritated, and I strode majestically away. Probably he thought I had no business to speak to him without an introduction, but I never stand on ceremony when I see anyone in pain.
I got a ticket when I went in, and began to look around for my wheat. I didn’t see any at first. I then asked one of the conversationalists how wheat was.
“Oh, wheat’s pretty steady just now, ‘specially October, but yesterday we thought the bottom had dropped out. Perfect panic in No. 2, red; No. 2, Chicago Spring, 73-7/8. Dull, my Christian friend, dull is no name for it. More fellers got pinched yesterday than would patch purgatory fifteen miles. What you doing, buying or selling?”
“Better let me sell you some choice Chicago Spring way down. Get some man you know on the Board to make the trade for you.”
“Well, if you’ve got something good and cheap, and that you know will grow, I’d like to look at it,” I said.
He took me over by the door where there was a dishpan full of wheat, and asked me how that struck me, I said it looked good and asked him how much he could spare of it at .73. He said he had 50,000 bushels that he wasn’t using, and he thought he could get me another 50,000 of a friend, if I wanted it. I said no, 100,000 bushels was more than I needed. I told him that if he would let me have that dishpan full, one-half cash and the balance in installments, I might trade with him, but I didn’t want him to sell me his last bushel of wheat and rob himself.
“Very likely you’ve got a family,” said I, “and you mustn’t forget that we’ve got a long, cold, hard winter ahead of us. Hang on to your wheat. Don’t let Tom, Dick and Harry come along and chisel you out of your last kernel, just to be neighborly.”
I remained in the room an hour and a half, the cynosure of all eyes. There is a great deal of sociability there. Three hundred men all talking diagonally at each other at the same time, reminds me of a tete-a-tete I once had with a warm personal friend, who was a boiler-maker. He invited me to come around to the shop and visit him. He said we could crawl down through the manhole into the boiler and have a nice visit while he worked.
I remember of following him down through the hole into the boiler; then they began to head boiler rivets, and I knew nothing more till I returned to consciousness the next day to find myself in my own luxuriously-furnished apartments.
The family physician was holding my hand. My wife asked: “Is he conscious yet, do you think, doctor?”
“Yes,” he replied, “your husband begins to show signs of life. He may live for many years, but his intellect seems to have been mislaid during his illness. Do you know whether the cat has carried anything out of this room lately?”
Then my wife said: “Yes, the cat did get something out of this room only the other day and ate it. Poor thing!”
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