Dealers invited every passing farmer to buy or at least take a long look at his animals. Once a man stopped to look, he was treated to stories of how well these animals had done under bad conditions.
“All they need”, he was told, “is plenty to eat and they will be making money when you are sleeping.”
“What kind of money are you looking for them?”
“I’ll ask you, close on X pounds”.
“You must be joking; you will need to add another one for that price. I can buy bigger ones at less money and won’t have far to look!”
“You surely can, and if you do, you will be selling big ones for little money in the future. The day you buy is the day you sell. Just look at the quality you’re getting! A month on grass and you won’t know them. Decorate you lawn with animals like that and they will give you pleasure looking at them. They’ll be admired by the neighbours and you’ll have the men who want good cattle clambouring to buy them any time you want to sell. Buy the rough sort and when your neighbours never mention them or look over the hedge at them; you’ll know they are sorry for you making such a deal”.
“What will you give me?” the dealer says.
The buyer makes the price.
“You’re asking, away above their value,” replies the farmer.
“Bid me for them,” quips the dealer.
The farmer makes an offer and the seller walks away with the air of a man who has suffered an undeserved insult. He is dragged back by one of the group, which a deal always attracts. Suggestions flow in, thick and fast.
“You both will have to alter; there never was a deal without give and take on both sides.”
The intermediary seizes the hands of both buyer and seller, places them on top of each other and says, “We will split the difference,” and then claps both hands together as a sign that it’s a deal. Both parties noisily object and the buyer then says that if the seller stands the divide of what is left he will have them. The suggestion is met with an indignant outburst from the seller. It is then proposed that both of them will stand the first divide and the seller will give a pound back as a luck penny.
The seller angrily comments that, “it is easy to cut whangs out of another man’s leather!”
The seller agrees to the suggestion in his favour and declares that he never intended to sell at that price but he wouldn’t break the decent man’s word and the buyer agrees to a proposal in his favour, saying he never intended to put money like that in them, but he wouldn’t make a little of this decent man’s word.
At the end of a prolonged wrangle, the deal is settled on the luck penny.
The seller complains that he’s losing money and won’t give what jingle on a tombstone more, and proceeds to hand back the agreed price, whereupon, the go between, reaches for the money, gives it back to the seller and requests him to make the luck penny a bit bigger adding, “if you don’t do it, I’ll do it myself,” and proceeds to do so, in spite of being told, “if you do it’s your own loss”.
Willing helpers then mark the animal with a keel mark or failing that, mud is scooped off the street with a stick and smeared on the backs of animals, which are then put back in the yard.
And after that buyers, sellers and chief negotiators adjourn to a pub and spend a few minutes, several times the small sum, they had wrangled over for half an hour!
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