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Salute to Adventurers

7. I Become An Unpopular Character
I did not waste time in getting to work. I had already written to my uncle, telling him my
plans, and presently I received his consent. I arranged that cargoes of such goods as I
thought most suitable for Virginian sales should arrive at regular seasons independent
of the tobacco harvest. Then I set about equipping a store. On the high land north of
James Town, by the road to Middle Plantation, I bought some acres of cleared soil, and
had built for me a modest dwelling. Beside it stood a large brick building, one half fitted
as a tobacco shed, where the leaf could lie for months, if need be, without taking harm,
and the other arranged as a merchant's store with roomy cellars and wide garrets. I
relinquished the warehouse by the James Town quay, and to my joy I was able to
relinquish Mr. Lambie. That timid soul had been on thorns ever since I mooted my new
projects. He implored me to put them from me; he drew such pictures of the power of
the English traders, you would have thought them the prince merchants of Venice; he
saw all his hard-won gentility gone at a blow, and himself an outcast precluded for ever
from great men's recognition. He could not bear it, and though he was loyal to my
uncle's firm in his own way, he sought a change. One day he announced that he had
been offered a post as steward to a big planter at Henricus, and when I warmly bade
him accept it, he smiled wanly, and said he had done so a week agone. We parted very
civilly, and I chose as manager my servant, John Faulkner.
This is not a history of my trading ventures, or I would tell at length the steps I took to
found a new way of business. I went among the planters, offering to buy tobacco from
the coming harvest, and to pay for it in bonds which could be exchanged for goods at
my store. I also offered to provide shipment in the autumn for tobacco and other wares,
and I fixed the charge for freight--a very moderate one--in advance. My plan was to
clear out my store before the return of the ships, and to have thereby a large quantity of
tobacco mortgaged to me. I hoped that thus I would win the friendship and custom of
the planters, since I offered them a more convenient way of sale and higher profits. I
hoped by breaking down the English monopoly to induce a continual and wholesome
commerce in the land. For this purpose it was necessary to get coin into the people's
hands, so, using my uncle's credit, I had a parcel of English money from the New York
goldsmiths.
In a week I found myself the most-talked-of man in the dominion, and soon I saw the
troubles that credit brings. I had picked up a very correct notion of the fortunes of most
of the planters, and the men who were most eager to sell to me were just those I could
least trust. Some fellow who was near bankrupt from dice and cock-fighting would offer
me five hundred hogsheads, when I knew that his ill-guided estate could scarce
produce half. I was not a merchant out of charity, and I had to decline many offers, and
so made many foes. Still, one way and another, I was not long in clearing out my store,
and I found myself with some three times the amount of tobacco in prospect that I had
sent home at the last harvest.
 
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