restrung, is it not obvious, also, that such a record would serve to bring about speedy retribution?
and dealers in gems are in the main honest and reliable, but all of
them are not, for the trade has its black sheep, and they are not
always to be found among the unsuccessful and seedy members of the
profession. If you do not believe it, read how I came near to losing
all I had worked for during a period of twenty years.
man, it is obvious, can carry on business at a distance without a
correspondent or agent, and it behooves him to inquire carefully into
the character and financial stability of such a representative. And yet
. . . things sometimes go wrong.
War forced my firm to seek new markets out of Europe and new
consignees. I went personally to the United States and made
arrangements with an old-established firm of the highest repute in New
York. This millionaire concern was to handle my consignments purely on
a commission basis. We took all the risk. If they sold, they were to
cable the proceeds to us; if not, they were to hold the goods at our
disposal. We made several shipments, which they sold almost at once,
remitting promptly. After that, silence. They sold no more and
remitted no more, but instead wrote charming letters by every mail.
was now that I realized that the agents had us in a stranglehold, for
the aggregate amount of these shipments represented all my firm's
capital, plus a colossal overdraft at the bank. And they knew it. What
were they doing while our competitors were selling freely in the
American market? Just this: they were not offering our goods, but
hoping that sooner or later we should have to ask them for a loan to
tide over the bad times and so get deeper and deeper into their debt.
had not suspected this at first, because the reputation of the New York
house was great and the personal character of the principal beyond
reproach. In fact, we had already asked them for an advance on goods
already consigned, which they had cheerfully given, as well they might,
being covered twenty