The Buyer from Cactus City
It is well that hay fever and colds do not obtain in the healthful vicinity of Cactus City, Texas, for the dry goods emporium of Navarro & Platt, situated there, is not to be sneezed at.
Twenty thousand people in Cactus City scatter their silver coin with liberal hands for the things that their hearts desire. The bulk of this semiprecious metal goes to Navarro & Platt. Their huge brick building covers enough ground to graze a dozen head of sheep. You can buy of them a rattlesnake-skin necktie, an automobile, or an eighty-five-dollar, latest style, ladies tan coat in twenty different shades. Navarro & Platt first introduced pennies west of the Colorado River. They had been ranchmen with business heads, who saw that the world did not necessarily have to cease its revolutions after free grass went out.
Every spring, Navarro, senior partner, fifty-five, half Spanish, cosmopolitan, able, polished, had gone on to New York to buy goods. This year he shied at taking up the long trail. He was undoubtedly growing older; and he looked at his watch several times a day before the hour came for his siesta.
John, he said, to his junior partner, you shall go on this year to buy the goods.
Platt looked tired.
Im told, said he, that New York is a plumb dead town; but Ill go. I can take a whirl in San Antone for a few days on my way and have some fun.
Two weeks later a man in a Texas full dress-suitblack frock-coat, broad-brimmed, soft, white hat, and lay-down collar 3-4 inch high, with black, wrought-iron necktieentered the wholesale cloak and suit establishment of Zizzbaum & Son, on Lower Broadway.
Old Zizzbaum had the eye of an osprey, the memory of an elephant and a mind that unfolded from him in three movements like the puzzle of the carpenters rule. He rolled to the front like a brunette polar bear, and shook Platts hand.
And how is the good Mr. Navarro in Texas? he said. The trip was too long for him this year, so? We welcome Mr. Platt instead.
A bulls eye, said Platt, and Id give forty acres of unirrigated Pecos County land to know how you did it.
I knew, grinned Zizzbaum, just as I know that the rainfall in El Paso for the year was 28.5 inches, or an increase of 15 inches, and that therefore Navarro & Platt will buy a $15,000 stock of suits this spring instead of $10,000, as in a dry year. But that will be to-morrow. There is first a cigar in my private office that will remove from your mouth the taste of the ones you smuggle across the Rio Grande and likebecause they are smuggled.
It was late in the afternoon and business for the day had ended, Zizzbaum left Platt with a half-smoked cigar and came out of the private office to Son, who was arranging his diamond scarfpin before a mirror, ready to leave.
Abey, he said, you will have to take Mr. Platt around to-night and show him things. They are customers for ten years. Mr. Navarro and I we played chess every moment of spare time when he came. That is good, but Mr. Platt is a young man and this is his first visit to New York. He should amuse easily.
All right, said Abey, screwing the guard tightly on his pin. Ill take him on. After hes seen the Flatiron and the head waiter at the Hotel Astor and heard the phonograph play Under the old Apple Tree itll be half-past ten, and Mr. Texas will be ready to roll up in his blanket. Ive got a supper engagement at 11.30, but hell be all to the Mrs. Winslow before then.
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