Page:Memoirs of Henry Villard, volume 1.djvu/76

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50
[1856
HENRY VILLARD

to sell was successful. I need not mention that that meant all sorts of experiences for me, mostly of a disagreeable character. I had, as a rule, to drink continually of the cup of humiliation. I had the satisfaction of having tried my best, and enjoyed, upon the whole, a good time, socially. Of course, this did not suffice, as I had failed in my real object, which was to make money. The net pecuniary result was that I spent, all in all, five more dollars than I received during the three weeks, though I really had exhausted the field from which I expected so much.

I returned to Chicago much disheartened, and at a loss what to do. I ought to have said ere this that my confidence in the success of the venture had been so great that, before starting for Milwaukee, I had written to Messrs. Manning & Merriman that I had decided to give up the law temporarily, in order to engage in a most promising business that had unexpectedly come in my way.

I was fortunate enough to find what promised to be a suitable place in the office of a firm of real-estate agents, within a few days, by answering a “want” advertisement. The firm name was Staples & Sims, and they had a fine office at the corner of Dearborn and Clark Streets, fronting on Court-House Square. Staples was a retired merchant and capitalist, Sims a Scotch doctor who had not been able to find a satisfactory practice. It was a queer combination and did not last very long, as it turned out. The firm tried to do a commission business — that is, sell other people's real estate on commission. My special function was to attract German customers, and, accordingly, my name appeared under that of the firm, as salesman, in the advertisements in the German papers. My salary was fifty dollars a month and a small interest in the commission business secured by me. There was also a French clerk, as a bait to French buyers and sellers, who besides acted as draughtsman. I was very much set up when I secured the place, and in this hopeful frame of mind I completed my twenty-first year on April 10, 1856.