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Botts runs for his life.

BOTTS RUNS FOR HIS LIFE

EARTHWORM TRACTOR COMPANY EARTHWORM CITY, ILLINOIS OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT

Wednesday, January 10, 1951

MR. ALEXANDER BOTTS SALES MANAGER EARTHWORM TRACTOR COMPANY WALDORF-ASTORIA HOTEL NEW YORK, N.Y.

DEAR BOTTS: While you are traveling around calling on the trade I hope you will have time to contact one of our old customers, Mr. James Jorgensen, who is now engaged in a big logging project in the Green Mountains near Middlebury, Vermont. He has purchased a sawmill and lumberyard and is cleaning up several million square feet of timber that blew down in a severe windstorm last November. He is using 15 of our Earthworm tractors, and for the past month he has been having continuous mechanical difficulties.

Several service mechanics, sent up last week by our Albany dealer, were unable to remedy the trouble. And Mr. Jorgensen became so enraged that he ordered them off the job and at the same time announced that he was going to transfer all his business to the newly reorganized Superba Tractor Company.

Following the departure of the service mechanics, one of our district representatives called on Mr. Jorgensen and attempted to smooth him down by pointing out that the Superba tractor is one of the worst-built machines in the field. Unfortunately, Mr. Jorgensen did not believe this fact. And, after a bitter argument, he ejected our representative bodily from his sawmill and threw him down an icy slope with such violence that he was painfully bruised and lacerated.

We have considered complaining to the police and also filing a civil suit for damages. Since we do not like to take legal action against a customer, it occurs to me that you might be able to call on Mr. Jorgensen and work out some solution--provided you are not afraid to tackle such a violent customer.

Most sincerely, GILBERT HENDERSON, President, Earthworm Tractor Co.

WALDORF-ASTORIA HOTEL NEW YORK, N.Y. Saturday evening, January 13, 1951

DEAR HENDERSON: You don't have to worry about my being afraid to tackle a violent customer like Mr. Jorgensen. I have already gone into action. Immediately after receiving your letter last night, I took the 10:30 p.m. train from Grand Central and arrived early this morning right in the lion's den, so to speak, at Middlebury, Vermont. At once I began making inquiries. I learned that Mr. Jorgensen is regarded as a rough character, but completely honest and a good businessman. If I could approach him in exactly the right manner, I was sure that our meeting would mark the beginning of a truly beautiful friendship and that I would have no trouble at all convincing him of the folly of replacing his splendid Earthworms with any such mechanical atrocities as are perpetrated by the Superba Tractor Company.

To make the best possible first impression, I felt I should know something about Mr. Jorgensen's present mental attitude. I therefore decided to interview a man called Harold Quincy, who is a representative of the Superba company, and who, I was told, had been spending the last two days with Mr. Jorgensen. I was reported that Mr. Quincy was leaving on the 12:22 p.m. train for New York. Because I was unable to contact him beforehand, I resolved to travel back to New York with him. I took a taxi to the railroad station, where the taxi driver pointed him out.

He was strutting up and down and swinging a briefcase marked in big gold letters: "Harold Quincy. Superba Tractor Company.' He wore a Tyrolean hat with a shaving-brush ornament, a checked overcoat and yellow gloves.

At once I sized him up as a typical low-grade salesman--smart-alecky, conceited and not too bright. He was, in short, just the opposite of the typical high-grade salesman--well-bred, modest and intelligent--which is so well represented by me. I knew this man would be putty in my hands.

When the train pulled in I let him get on board first. He entered the smoking lounge. At the last moment I boarded the day coach, where I remained until the conductor had punched my ticket. Then I walked forward to the lounge, where I found my quarry. He had removed his overcoat and hat, revealing a rather loud suit and an even louder necktie. Timidly I sat down deside him.

"Do you mind if I sit here?' I asked in a mournful tone of voice.

"It's a free country,' he said.

I pointed to his briefcase. "Are you Mr. Harold Quincy?' I asked.

"That's right.'

"And you're a tractor salesman?'

"You said it, big boy. I'm the best tractor salesman in the country.'

This palpable falsehood--uttered, ironically enough, in the very presence of the man who really is the best tractor salesman in the country--gave me exactly the opening I needed. As long as Mr. Quincy was wandering so far from the truth, I felt that a few minor inaccuracies on my part would be entirely justified.

"My name is Ebenezer Boggs,' I said.

"I'm pleased to meet you, Mr. Boggs,' he said heartily.

"I'm a salesman myself,' I continued. "I've been up in Montreal, trying to sell candy bars for a firm in New York. But I didn't make a single sale. Maybe you could help me, Mr. Quincy, by telling me the secret of your success.'

At this flattering approach, the man's chest swelled with pride. "Always glad to help a fellow salesman,' he said. "What seems to be your main trouble?'

"I don't know,' I said hopelessly. "I call on a candy-store proprietor. I give him what I think is a wonderful sales talk. But he always says he's perfectly satisfied with the candy bars he's already handling. So I never get anywhere. Maybe you could tell me what to do. There must be times when you have to sell one of your tractors to a man who is completely satisfied with some other kind.'

Mr. Quincy smiled with smug satisfaction. "As a matter of fact,' he said, "I am right now engaged in selling a whole fleet of Superba tractors to a man who has always used machines called Earthworms, and who, until I met him, was completely satisfied with them.'

"It looks like a tough proposition,' I said. "It would take a better sales talk than anything I ever heard.'

"That's exactly the point, Mr. Boggs. You second-rate salesmen try to do everything with a sales talk. Me--I go beyond that. I an constructive. I manipulate the various factors in the situation to create an atmosphere favorable to my plans.'

"I don't understand,' I said.

"Of course you don't. You're just a small-time operator. In this deal I started to tell you about, I found myself up against a stubborn old bird called Jorgensen. He runs a sawmill near Middlebury, Vermont. He had been using Earthworm machinery so long he wouldn't consider anything else. When I first met him, about a month ago, he was in such a rut, mentally, that he wouldn't let me even start a sales talk. I could see that I had no chance, at the time, to create in his mind a desire for Superba tractors. So I changed my tactics. I decided to make the old fool dissatisfied with his Earthworm tractors.'

"Wouldn't that be pretty hard to do?'

"Not for a practical man like me. I stopped wasting my time on mere sales talks. I went out in the woods. I looked over his tractors. And especially I looked over his tractor operators.'

"What was the idea of that?'

Here Mr. Quincy got very confidential. "In any tractor sale, Mr. Boggs, the important thing is not the tractor. It's the human element. If you want to be a successful salesman, always concentrate on the people-- not on the product.'

"Mr. Quincy,' I said, "I think maybe you've got something there.'

"Of course I have. And this basic principle has been of vital importance in the deal I am promoting in Middlebury. About noon of the second day I found a young man named Oswald who was highly dissatisfied with his job as a tractor operator. So right away I started working on him. I got him talking about himself.'

"How did you do that?'

"Get him talking about himself? It's easy if you know how. All you got to do is flatter the guy, ask him just enough questions to draw him out and then listen while he sounds off.'

"I never thought of that,' I said. "What did this man Oswald tell you?'

"It was the usual line of a typical sorehead. He said he was the finest mechanic in the state of Vermont. Old Jorgensen should have put him in charge of all the repair and maintenance work on all the tractors. He should have doubled his salary. But he didn't appreciate him. So I sympathized with the poor sap and led him on, and pretty soon he began telling me about his girl.'

"This Oswald had a girl?'

"Yes. They wanted to get married. They had picked out a little dream of a house in Middlebury that was for sale for only $15,000. But, as long as he was being exploited by this old tightwad Jorgensen, he couldn't even scrape together enough money for a down payment. The setup was so simple that even you, Mr. Boggs, could guess how I handled it.'

"I wouldn't have the slightest idea,' I said.

"Well,' said Mr. Quincy, "I made this man Oswald a proposition. "Oswald,' I said, "you don't have to worry any more about what these boobs and nitwits think about you. I'm going to make you an offer. I am planning to open a Superba tractor dealership right here in Middlebury. I'll have a big service-and-repair shop. I'll need a first-class man in charge. So I'll give you the job, at $7,500 a year. And, as an extra bonus, if you'll sign a five-year contract with me, I'll give that $15,000 house to you and your wife as a wedding present.''

"That certainly was a generous offer,' I said. "Pretty near sensational.'

"That's what young Oswald thought,' he said. "I could hardly keep him quiet long enough to explain the conditions.'

"Oh,' I said, "there was a catch to this offer?'

"Of course there was. I explained it to Oswald like this: "Before I establish the dealership in Middlebury,' I said, "I've got to make at least one big sale around here. The only big prospect is Joregensen. I'm trying to get him to turn in his 15 old Earthworms and buy 15 new Superbas. So far, he has refused to do this because he claims he's completely satisfied with the Earthworms. So, Oswald, you've got to make old Jim dissatisfied with his Earthworms.''

"How could he do that?' I asked.

"As I explained it to Oswald, the answer is obvious. "You are a regular employee around here,' I said. "You have access to the fuel and the oil and the tools and supplies. You can go in and out of the repair shop and the equipment shed any time you want. Nobody spies on you. Nobody would object if you stuck around to work on your tractor after hours.''

"Wait a minute,' I said. "You weren't suggesting, were you, that you wanted this man to sort of sabotage those Earthworm tractors?'

"I wasn't suggesting anything, Mr. Boggs. All I did was set forth the facts. And I went on to explain that if the Earthworms accidentally started to have all kinds of mechanical breakdowns, it would be possible that old Jim might decide to switch to some other make of tractor. Does that sound logical to you?'

"It certainly does.'

"It also sounded logical to Oswald. I had sized him up right. He has just enough low cunning that he caught on to what I wanted. And he could figure out exactly how to do his dirty work so nobody would suspect anything,'

"Just what did he do?'

"I don't know. And I don't want to know. All I care about is the way things are working out. It is now a month since I had that little talk with Oswald. And all through this month those Earthworm tractors have been breaking down and getting so little work done that Jorgensen is about frantic. I have been spending the past two days with him, and when I left, he asked me to bring up a Superba tractor. He said if I could prove in a competitive demonstration that my machine is better than the Earthworm he would trade me all his Earthworms for half what he paid for them and buy a whole fleet of Superbas.'

"Say, that's wonderful,' I said. "I suppose you're going to ship a tractor to Middlebury right away?'

"I have already ordered it. It should be there early next week. I will be busy with some important conferences in New York for several days, but I go back to Middlebury and put on a demonstration for Jorgensen next Friday. I can probably finish the demonstration in the morning. And in the afternoon the old boy will sign up to turn in his Earthworms and buy 15 of my machines.'

"If the Earthworms are in such bad shape,' I said, "I shouldn't think you would want to take them in on trade.'

"Don't worry about that. Young Oswald has pulled off nothing but minor breakdowns. Fundamentally they're as good as ever. As soon as I get hold of them they'll start running fine, and I can resell them at a handsome profit.'

"And you're really going to give Oswald a house and a job?'

"Certainly not. Whatever gave you that idea?'

"That's what you told me you were going to do.'

"Oh, no. That's not what I told you. That's just what I told Oswald. But you are forgetting that this man is a crook. If I gave him a house or paid him a big salary for what he did to those Earthworm tractors I would be rewarding a dishonest act. You wouldn't want me to do anything as immoral as that, would you?'

"No, I suppose not,' I said. "But won't Oswald make a big row when he finds out you've let him down?'

"He can't prove anything against me, and the more he hollers the more he'll be telling everybody how crooked he is. Not only would he lose the job he's got but he'd have a tough time getting a job anywhere else. So there won't be any trouble from young Oswald. And I'll put the sale through like the high-powered salesman I am.'

"Mr. Quincy,' I said, "you don't know how educational your talk has been. I feel that it is going to help me a lot in my own business. I thank you.'

"Mr. Boggs,' he said, "it has been a pleasure.' He reached into his briefcase and handed me a lot of Superba advertising literature and a large lapel button labeled "Superba Tractors.'

From here on, our talk drifted through various subjects. Mr. Quincy explained to me why business ethics are so much higher in America than in other parts of the world. I came back with a few of my best Swedish jokes. And when we finally parted at Grand Central Station I thanked him again. I then came to the hotel where I have been writing this report.

I have given you this very full account of my activities so that you may realize how well I am handling the problem you have assigned me. Even though I went all the way to Vermont and came back without seeing Mr. Jorgensen, I have accomplished far more than if I had barged in after the manner of our district representative and, like him, succeeded only in getting myself thrown out.

As things now stand, the difficult case of Mr. James Jorgensen is, for all practical purposes, in the bag. Such being the case, I will spend next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday taking care of several urgent matters here in New York. I will return to Middlebury on the Wednesday night train--arriving on Thursday, one day ahead of Mr. Harold Quincy. I will then prove to Mr. Jorgensen that Quincy and Oswald have been playing him for a sucker. As soon as he understands what has been going on, he will throw Mr. Quincy out on his ear and fire Oswald. From then on, his Earthworms will run perfectly. And harmony and justice will prevail.

Yours,

ALEXANDER BOTTS, Sales Manager, Earthworm Tractor Co.

EARTHWORM TRACTOR COMPANY EARTHWORM CITY, ILLINOIS OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT

Monday, January 15, 1951

MR. ALEXANDER BOTTS WALDORE-ASTORIA HOTEL NEW YORK, N.Y.

DEAR BOTTS: Your letter is here. I am very much disturbed over your plans. In your final paragraph you say that on Thursday you will arrive in Middlebury and "prove to Mr. Jorgensen that Quincy and Oswald have been playing him for a sucker.' At first sight this may seem like a plausible method of approach. Unfortunately, however, you have nowhere in your letter given the slightest indication that you are in a position to prove anything to Mr. Jorgensen. Please remember that Jorgensen has been having trouble with the Earthworm company. From the very moment you meet him, he will be violently prejudiced against you. On the other hand, his relations with the Superba company have, as far as we know, been completely friendly. Jorgensen will therefore be definitely prejudiced in favor of Mr. Quincy.

To deal with this adverse situation, I fail to see that you can present anything in the way of facts or figures or concrete evidence. All you have is an incredibly fantastic story involving the most serious accusations against a trusted employee and against a rival tractor salesman. These accusations will undoubtedly be denied by Mr. Harold Quincy and this man Oswald. Because you have nothing to offer in rebuttal except your own unsupported word, you cannot hope to get anywhere. If you approach Mr. Jorgensen in the manner indicated you will succeed only in getting yourself thrown out in exactly the same way as our district representative was thrown out.

I would suggest, therefore, that you refrain from accusations that you cannot back up. And when you meet Mr. Jorgensen, I feel that you should:

1. Keep the conversation on a high plane.

2. Prove to him the superiority of Earthworm tractors by giving him a straightforward, scientific discussion of the obviously superior qualities found in our product.

Most sincerely, GILBERT HENDERSON

PORTER HOSPITAL MIDDLEBURY, VERMONT Friday, January 19, 1951

DEAR HENDERSON: Your letter arrived before I left New York. And I regret to inform you that it has been impossible for me to follow your advice. How could I keep the conversation on a high plane with all the low and slimy skulduggery that has been going on? And how could I convince Mr. Jorgensen of the superiority of Earthworm tractors by a mere scientific discussion, when Mr. Jorgensen's Earthworm tractors were breaking down all over the landscape? Merely to ask these questions is to answer them; your suggestions were absolutely and obviously impractical.

However, you may perhaps derive a little wry satisfaction in learning that at least one of your predictions has come true. Owing to a slight miscarriage in my plans, Mr. Jorgensen became violently enraged under circumstances that caused him to throw me out even more violently than he threw out our district representative and to send me skidding down the same icy slope with such force that I have been in the hospital ever since.

Fortunately, it is a good hospital. My injuries are not critical. I expect to be out tomorrow. And I am pleased to report that I am not in any way discouraged. To the end that you may understand how much better I have handled this situation than would have been the case if I had followed your advice--and in order that you may realize how I would have achieved a complete success unmarred by any hospital interlude if it had not been for the unforeseen presence of a fire escape outside the window--I will now give you a full account of my activities since I arrived in Middlebury yesterday morning.

After a good breakfast at the Middlebury Inn, I hired a taxi and drove to Mr. Jorgensen's sawmill at the foot of the mountain. I did not, however, introduce myself as a representative of the Earthworm company. The plan that I had evolved was much more subtle. I had decided that I would pretend I represented the Superba Tractor Company. I would persuade Oswald, the mechanic, to tell me all about his sabotage operations. He would suppose the conversation was confidential. But all the time Mr. Jorgensen would be listening around the corner of a building or from some other vantage point. Thus Oswald would be convicted out of his own mouth, the fat would be in the fire, the Superba company would be in the doghouse and the Earthworm would be on top of the heap.

This plan, of course, was not complete. I had not yet worked out any technique for enticing Mr. Jorgensen into a concealed position and keeping him quiet while I attempted to trick young Oswald into giving himself away. These questions, however, were unimportant. I had created a grand master plan. And I could follow my usual custom of leaving the minor details completely fluid so they could be altered according to changing conditions.

Upon arriving at the sawmill I told the taxi driver to wait. I put on the "Superba Tractor' button Mr. Quincy had given me. I picked up my briefcase, in which I had a lot of the Superba advertising folders, and I accosted a couple of men who were piling boards. I asked them where I could find Mr. Jorgensen. They said he was in his office on the second floor of a long, wooden storage building beside the mill. I entered the building. I tiptoed up a flight of stairs, along a hallway and around a corner to an open door. I peered into the room beyond. Mr. Jorgensen, a man of powerful build, was seated with his back to me. He was working with some papers at his desk. The setup seemed favorable. So I quietly withdrew.

I returned to the men who were piling boards. I asked them where I could find a mechanic named Oswald. They said he was behind the sawmill, moving some logs with his tractor. I went around and found him. I told him he was to report to Mr. Jorgensen's office. He said he would be there in five minutes. I went back, climbed the stairs and waited in the upper hall around the corner from the door of Mr. Jorgensen's office. Here, according to my plan, I would intercept the treacherous mechanic and trick him into a discussion that would reveal all of his nefarious activities to Mr. Jorgensen-- provided, of course, that Mr. Jorgensen remained quietly in his office and listened to what went on.

Unfortunately, however, Mr. Jorgensen turned out to be the kind of man who likes to spring to action at the slightest excuse. I had hardly taken my position when I inadvertently shifted my weight onto a loose floorboard. The board squeaked.

There was a yawp from the office. "Who's that out there?'

I decided I had better try to smooth down the old guy. I walked around the corner and into the office. "Are you Mr. Jorgensen?' I asked.

"I am.'

"I represent the Superba Tractor Company,' I said glibly. "Mr. Harold Quincy sent me up to make a thorough study of your job here so that we can give you the best possible demonstration when our tractor arrives. It has been nice meeting you. And now, if you will excuse me, I will be on my way.' I started out.

"Wait a minute,' said Mr. Jorgensen. "Mr. Quincy gave me a Superba catalog, and there's something about the drawing of the power takeoff that I don't quite understand. I want you to explain it to me.'

"I'll do my best,' I said modestly.

Mr. Jorgensen Continued: "My bookkeeper has the catalog in his office at the other end of the building. I'll call him and ask him to bring it over.'

He fipped a switch on a metal box on his desk. The box bore a nameplate: "Signal Corps-- U. S. Army--Interphone Amplifier BC-605-D.'

"This,' he explained, "is surplus army equipment that I picked up a while back. It's a great convenience--even though you have to wait for the tubes to warm up.'

"Very interesting,' I said. "How does it work?'

"There's a mike and a speaker in a little box over in the bookkeeper's office,' he said. "It's connected to this thing here by a pair of wires. When I want to call the bookkeeper I throw this other little switch to the position labeled "Talk.' When I want to hear what he has to say, I change it to the position labeled "Listen.' Do you hear that faint humming?'

"Yes.'

"That means the tubes are warmed up.' He moved the switch to "Talk' and began yelling, "Hey, there, George! Are you there, George?' Then he flipped the switch to "Listen,' and waited. Nothing happened. "I guess George is out somewhere,' he said. "I'll have to go and get that catalog myself.' He rose and started down the hall.

The situation was getting out of hand. Oswald, the mechanic, was due to arrive at any moment. I began to think fast. How could I keep this energetic Mr. Jorgensen quiet and in one place long enough so he could hear the conversation I was hoping to stage with Oswald? I kept on thinking --faster and faster. And gradually, in the back of my mind, I began to get a sort of vague hunch. Possibly that army interphone contraption might fit into my plans.

I followed Mr. Jorgensen down the hall for several hundred feet to the far end of the building. He opened a door marked "Bookkeeper,' walked into the room and started pawing through a pile of pamphlets and catalogs on a desk.

I stood in the hall outside and sized up the situation. On the desk was a metal box--obviously the other end of the interphone system. The room had one window. As we were on the second floor, I did not think this window would provide a practical means of exit. There was one door. I examined it closely. I saw that it was of stout construction. And then I noticed something that caused all my half-formed ideas and hunches to crystallize suddenly into a complete and beautiful plan of action. The door was equipped with a heavy hasp. On the jamb there was a heavy staple. And hanging on the staple was a heavy, open padlock. "Eureka!' I said. "This is it!'

"What's that?' asked Mr. Jorgensen.

By way of reply I slammed the door, removed the padlock, shoved the hasp over the staple and replaced the padlock.

The old boy was safely locked in. I was safely outside. I raced back to Mr. Jorgensen's office. Oswald had not yet arrived. I made a quick test. With the little toggle switch pushed up to the position marked "Listen,' I could hear everything that went on in the bookkeeper's office. There was a great pounding, and the sound of Mr. Jorgensen's voice yelling, "Open this door, you fool!'

I threw the switch to the position marked "Talk.' I could no longer hear anything from the bookkeeper's office. But Mr. Jorgensen could hear everything that went on at my end of the line. Or, at least, that is what I hoped.

I settled myself quietly in the chair behind the desk. A moment later Oswald, the mechanic, came in.

"Oswald,' I said, "Mr. Jorgensen has stepped out for a few minutes, so this is a good chance for us to have a serious, confidential talk. I represent the Superba Tractor Company. Mr. Harold Quincy sent me here to find out why you are falling down so badly on the job that you agreed to handle for him.'

Oswald looked startled. Then he asked suspiciously, "What job?'

"You can speak frankly,' I said. "I know the whole story. Mr. Quincy says he hired you to sabotage Mr. Jorgensen's Earthworm tractors so thoroughly that the old guy will become completely disgusted with them and will buy a fleet of Superba tractors. Mr. Quincy says you promised to do this. But so far, he says you have accomplished practically nothing. What's the matter with you?'

Young Oswald looked uncomfortable. He went to the door and glanced up and down the hall. "I was afraid somebody might be listening,' he said.

"You can see we are alone,' I said. "Come on--speak up.'

"I don't like to discuss this thing with strangers,' he said.

"But I'm not a stranger. I'm Mr. Quincy's confidential adviser. Unless you can give me some reasonable assurance that you will go through with this thing, the deal is off. You won't get the $15,000 house, and you won't get the $7,500 job.'

"But I'm doing the best I can,' Oswald whined. "I got to go slow and cover my tracks, or I would spoil the whole thing.'

"Have you done anything so far?'

"Sure I have.'

"It can't be much. I notice your own tractor seems to be running all right.'

"Of course it is. If I louse up my own machine I would get fired. And that would spoil everything.'

"Have you wrecked any of the other machines?'

"I'm not supposed to wreck them. Mr. Quincy plans to take them in on trade, so he doesn't want any serious damage. He just wants a lot of minor breakdowns.'

"And you claim you've actually accomplished something along that line?'

"Sure I have.'

"What, for instance?'

"Well, for one thing, I've been working on the radiators. I sneak around at night. I drive a nail into the radiator core and plug the hole with chewing gum. The next day, when the tractor is way off in the woods, the chewing gum works loose and all the water runs out. They lose a lot of time bringing in the machine or sending a man out to solder it. And they always think, just because they first noticed it in the woods, that the damage must have been done out there. So they never suspect me. They figure the hole must have been punched by a tree branch or something, and they decide Earthworm radiators must be poor quality. And that's not all.'

"You have other tricks?'

"I'll say. I stole all the solder out of the repair shop and replaced it with some trick solder out of a toy chemistry set. This trick solder melts in boiling water. When they use it to repair a leaky radiator, it lasts only till the engine gets well heated up. And the mechanics around here are so dumb they never notice the difference. But one of my best ideas is putting potatoes in the cooling system.'

"Potatoes in the cooling system?'

"Sure. I've fixed up 10 or 12 Earthworms that way. I take off the water manifold and I wedge several raw potatoes into the manifold or into the water jacket around the cylinders.'

"What's that for?'

"The potatoes cut off part of the circulation in the cooling system. The engine heats up. The radiator starts to boil. So the operator shuts down. He looks at the radiator. He takes off the radiator cap. He looks inside. There is plenty of water. So he checks the fan. He checks the water pump. He checks everything. He calls the chief mechanic. And by that time the potatoes have all boiled away. So they finally get it running again. But a lot of time has been wasted. And they never find out what was the matter.'

"Oswald,' I said, "permit me to congratulate you. You have given a very convincing account of your activities. I am sure you will be suitably rewarded. I think you had better be getting back to your tractor before Mr. Jorgensen arrives. Good-by.'

Oswald departed. As soon as he was out of earshot, I flipped the switch on the interphone amplifier and listened intently for any audible reaction that might come from Mr. Jorgensen over in the bookkeeper's office. There was none.

This was disturbing. If the violenttempered Mr. Jorgensen were still trapped in the bookkeeper's office, he most certainly would be yelling his head off. If he had escaped before he had a chance to hear my conversation with Oswald, he would undoubtedly want to beat me up for having locked the door on him. On the other hand, if he had escaped after hearing the conversation, he would probably want to beat me up for conspiring against him. In any case, he would be after me--and with blood in his eye.

I decided I had better get out of there. But I was a little late. Just as I emerged into the open air, Mr. Jorgensen came charging around the corner of the building with all the fury of an enraged rhinoceros. I ran in the opposite direction. I circled around the building.

At the far end I caught a brief glimpse of a fire escape with an open window at the top. Then I knew how Mr. Jorgensen had escaped so easily.

I kept on running. Three times I circled that building--with Mr. Jorgensen in hot pursuit. At the beginning of the fourth lap he caught up to me and gave me a shove that sent me down what must have been the same icy slope previously traveled by our unfortunate representative.

I was eventually rescued by the taxi driver and brought here to the hospital, where I have been treated for a sprained ankle, a sprained wrist and various cuts, bruises and contusions.

That was yesterday. This morning Mr. Jorgensen arrived at the hospital. He had learned my true identity from various papers in the briefcase I had accidentally left behind when I departed so hurriedly from his office. He had learned of my plans and of the duplicity of Mr. Quincy from a carbon copy of the letter I sent you last week, Henderson. Any lingering doubts were removed by the conversation between Oswald and me. He had heard the whole thing. And he told me somewhat regretfully that Oswald had taken alarm and disappeared before he had a chance to fire him in his usual forcible manner. He stated further that he was through forever with the Superba Tractor Company, and he said he would stick with Earthworm the rest of his life.

"Has Mr. Quincy shown up yet?' I asked.

"Yes, indeed,' he said pleasantly. "Mr. Quincy arrived this morning and promptly departed down that same icy slope.' He glanced out the window and continued, "Just as I expected. The ambulance has arrived and they're bringing him in now. So the only thing that worries me is the unnecessarily rough treatment I handed out to you, Mr. Botts. Can you ever forgive me?'

"Not only do I forgive you, Mr. Jorgensen,' I said, "but I have a feeling that this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.'

Most sincerely, ALEXANDER BOTTS

Photo: "Always glad to help a fellow salesman,' Quincy said. "What seems to be your main trouble?'
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Title Annotation:short story
Author:Upson, William Hazlett
Publication:Saturday Evening Post
Date:May 1, 1985
Words:5948
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