December 15, 2019

Supply and Demand part 5

“‘I conquered ’em, spectacularly,’ goes on King Shane, ‘and then I’ went at ’em with economical politics, law, sleight-of-hand, and a kind of New England ethics and parsimony. Every Sunday, or as near as I can guess at it, I preach to ’em in the council-house (I’m the council) on the law of supply and demand. I praise supply and knock demand. I use the same text every time. You wouldn’t think, W. D.,’ says Shane, ‘that I had poetry in me, would you?’

“‘Well,’ says I, ‘I wouldn’t know whether to call it poetry or not.’ “‘Tennyson,’ says Shane, ‘furnishes the poetic gospel I preach. I always considered him the boss poet. Here’s the way the text goes:

“For, not to admire, if a man could learn it, were more

Than to walk all day like a Sultan of old in a garden of spice.”

“‘You see, I teach ’em to cut out demand that supply is the main thing. I teach ’em not to desire anything beyond their simplest needs. A little mutton, a little cocoa, and a little fruit brought up from the coast that’s all they want to make ’em happy. I’ve got ’em well trained. They make their own clothes and hats out of a vegetable fiber and straw, and they’re a contented lot. It’s a great thing,’ winds up Shane, ‘to have made a people happy by the inculvitation of such simple institutions.’

King’s permission

“Well, the next day, with the King’s permission, I has the McClintock open up a couple of sacks of my goods in the little plaza of the village. The Indians swarmed around by the hundred and looked the bargain-counter over. I shook red blankets at ’em, flashed finger-rings and earbobs, tried pearl necklaces and side-combs on the women, and a line of red hosiery on the men. ’Twas no use. They looked on like hungry graven images, but I never made a sale. I asked McClintock what was the trouble. Mac yawned three or four times, rolled a cigarette, made one or two confidential side remarks to a mule, and then condescended to inform me that the poeple had no money.

“Just then up strolls King Patrick, big and red and royal as usual, with the gold chain over his chest and his cigar in front of him.

“‘How’s business, W. D.?’ he asks.

“‘Fine,’ says I. ‘It’s a bargain-day rush. I’ve got one more line of goods to offer before I shut up shop. I’ll try ’em with safety-razors. I’ve got two gross that I bought at a fire sale.’

“Shane laughs till some kind of mameluke or private secretary he carries with him has to hold him up.

‘“O my sainted Aunt Jerusha!’ says he, ‘ain’t you one of the Babes in the Woods, W. D.? Don’t you know that no Indians ever shave? They pull out their whiskers instead.’

“‘Well,’ says I, ‘that’s just what these razors would do for ’em they wouldn’t have any kick coming if they used ’em once.’

“Shane went away, and I could hear him laughing a block, if there had been any block.

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