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In the summer now he returned to Altamont,1finding employment with a firm of land-auctioneers, and assisting them at the sale of a tract of a parcel of lots. He moved about the crowd in the bed of a wagon, exhorting them to bid, with his hand at the side of his mouth, in a ha­rangue compounded of frenzy, passionate solicitation, and bawdry. The work intoxicated him. With wide grins of expectancy they crowded round the spokes. In a high throaty tenor he called to them:

"Step right up, gentlemen, lot number 17, in beautiful Homewood — we furnish the wood, you furnish the home. Now, gentlemen, this handsome building-site has a depth of 179 feet, leaving plenty of room for garden and brick-house (grow your own corn cobs in beautiful Homewood) with a frontage of 114 feet on a magnificent new mac­adam road."

"Where is the road?" someone shouted.

"On the blueprint, of course, Colonel. You've got it all in black and white. Now, gentlemen, the opportunity of your lives is kicking you in the pants. Are you men of vision? Think what Ford, Edison, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Julius Caesar would do. Obey that impulse. You can't lose. The town is coming this way. Listen carefully. Do you hear it? Swell. The new courthouse will be built on yonder 'hill, the undertaker and (he village bakery will occupy handsome edifices of pressed brick just above you. Oyez, oyez, oyez. 2 What am I offered? What am I of­fered? Own your own home in beautiful Homewood, within a cannonshot of all railway, automobile, and airplane con­nections. Running water abounds within a Washingtonian stone's throw and in all the pipes. Our caravans meet all trains. Gentlemen, here's your chance to make a fortune. The ground is rich in mineral resources — gold, silver, cop­per, iron, bituminous coal and oil, will be found in large quantities below the roots of all the trees." [...]

He was a hustler: he sold patent washboards, trick po­tato-peelers, and powdered cockroach poison from house to house. To the Negroes he sold hair-oil guaranteed to straight­en kinky hair, and religious lithographs peopled with flying angels, white and black, and volant cherubs, black and white, sailing about the knees of an impartial and crucified Saviour, and subtitled "God Loves Them Both".

They sold like cakes. (Th. Wolfe. Look Homeward, Angel)


1he—Luke Gant, a young man; Altamont is his native town.

2oyez (also oyes, о yes; from the old French imperative oyez 'listen!')—a cry always repeated three times (usually by a town-crier
or usher in a law-court) to demand silence and attention. The old
meaning of the French verb has long been forgotten, and popular
etymology has turned it into о yes. Here Luke Gant, carried away
by his own solicitations, pronounces this formula almost as an incan­tation to key up the bidders.


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