42 TRUE STORIES OF OLD
Potomac, another of Lee's army of Northern Virginia, two men
who had served through the South African war, one with the
Boers and the other with the English, a Philippine veteran and
one or two others, whose claim to fame rested on the fact that
they had seen much of the world, having been wanderers and
adventure seekers. On the whole, these last were the most
interesting members of the group.
The talk drifted from the Potomac to Ladysmith, from Cuba
to the Philippines, drifted about over Central and South America
and finally cast anchor in the magazine offices and theatres,
where newspaper men generally come to rest. There was a
guest present who, I have since heard, held a clinical position
in the advertising department of a New York newspaper some
years ago. At the proper time he seized the central position
in the talk and soon had everybody "backed off the boards,"
"I saw Jack London last month," he said. "In fact, I was with
him for several weeks-went over to Salt Lake City from San
Francisco with him. He is writing a new book-best one he
ever wrote. Jack is a bird-easiest thing in the world for him
to write. On the train something happened that reminded him
of a story. He got out his pad, scribbled off a couple of thousand
words, put it in an envelope and mailed it on the train.
About a week after we arrived in Salt Lake there came a letter
from the Saturday Evening Post, containing a check for $1000
and asking for more."
"Do you ever write fiction?" I asked him. I kaew that he
dealt in it, but I wanted to know if he ever sold any of it.
"Sure thing," he replied. "Make my living writing stories.
Have never had one sent back yet. Got $75 for the first one I
ever sent in and it was only about 700 words. Happened to
hit 'em the first time and have been hitting 'em ever since."
"Yes, sir," chimed in the voice of theBoer veteran. "I was
there. I had a big store on the outskirts of Johannesberg, and
was doing good business when the war began. I was trying to
sell out so as to join the army when a company of English cavalry
come along. I had a big warehouse filled with hay. The
officer in command belonged to the quartermaster department
and was out searching for provender. He offered me a good
price for the hay. I accepted his offer and he paid cash. He
.left, going South. About an hour later another party of English
came along. The officer in command was a young lieutenant
who was very pompous and dignified. He recognized me as a
native, and, rightfully, concluded that I was a rebel. He saw
the hay and fearing that it would fall in the hands of the Boers
if left there, ordered it burned. I told him that an English
captain had bought it and that it belonged to his own people,
Young, Samuel Oliver. True stories of old Houston and Houstonians: historical and personal sketches / by S. O. Young.. Galveston, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth24646/. Accessed August 1, 2014.