This article is part of the Fur Trapper Saga series.
P. B. Fouke, President & Gen. Mgr.STRIKE BOLDLY ONCE AND YOU NEED NOT STRIKE AGAIN
All throughout my life as a dedicated champion of FUR TRAPPERS AND SHIPPERS I have lived by this great motto. If a man focuses himself so finely and acutely on one goal, he can accomplish it boldly and swiftly and never have to do it again. I have long personified this motto, working hard to do everything right the first time so that my loyal customers are never inconvenienced or displeased. Failure to do as much is to invite scrutiny and doubt, the twin harbingers of mutiny. Such maleficent forces will never find their way inside the hallowed halls of the Fouke Fur Company, let alone the hearts of its hundreds of thousands of customers. Lightning does not strike twice, and neither do I. P. B. FOUKE GETS THE JOB DONE RIGHT THE FIRST TIME.
TRUTH SPRINGS ETERNAL FROM THE BOUNDLESS WELL THAT IS P. B. FOUKE
It is an honor to once again address my loyal friends, the hundreds of thousands of trappers and shippers that do business with the Fouke Fur Company. Some of you may have read - and no doubt regret having read - a rival publication's imaginative assertions about my actions and health. I assure you, intrepid readers, that the reports were greatly embellished. I merely went to pay respect to my best friend J. F. Swanton, himself a new and exceptional convert to the Lord's Word. Upon arrival, I moved to present him with a gift in appreciation for his friendship and his willingness to share in my faith. My sudden movements startled him, as all expeditious motions are liable to do in the presence of a fiend. The startled Swanton abruptly stabbed me in the eye with the same writing utensil he uses to scrawl his vicious and demented lies. I am pleased to report that I am fine and that J. F. Swanton GRACIOUSLY ACCEPTED HIS GIFT, a rare pelt belonging to the Beast of Exmoor. The tale of how I acquired it pleased him greatly and me in telling it. I do not believe I have seen a smile so jubilant on Swanton's gruesome face since the day of his father's funeral.
While I may now lack depth perception, I assure you that my perception of business is as keen as ever. If anything, it means that I am now TWICE AS EFFICIENT, as I no longer have to process information from two eyes. I thank you, J. F. Swanton, for improving my performance and making me an even better servant to my customers. This gracious gift almost makes up for the theft of my beard. Almost.
I must admit that I enjoyed a spirited bout of laughter over his take on the situation. Wicked though he may be, J. F. Swanton is not without a sense of humor most bold. The notion that one of his traps could do me in is queerer than the sordid dens of opium he is known to frequent. I pray the Lord does not mistake me for a giant of old given the inhuman abundance of laughter I now find in my possession. It is worth noting that the very man who put such a meager bounty on my skin should fail to claim it. A man who cannot himself do the very act he begs his customers to do is not a good businessman. That he would call for my death and then FAIL TO ACT when given opportunity shows him to be nothing more than a meek and foolish businessman at best.
Furthermore, a scandalmonger such as J. F. Swanton may fruitlessly attempt impugning my masculinity all he wants, but to attack my dearly departed wife crosses A LINE MOST FOUL. My wife, bless her soul, killed herself failing to live up to MY HIGH STANDARDS, not because she was tempted by Swanton's insufferable visage and repulsive musk. That he should call my son foppish and my Civil War veteran father a poet is another depravity altogether, as any man born of Fouke blood is certain to have LIGHTNING COURSING THROUGH HIS VEINS. That is why my WORDS are so electric, my PROMISES so striking and my PRICES so shocking.
Brushing aside these minor criticisms, I am quite pleased to welcome J. F. Swanton into the fold of CHRISTENDOM, and look forward to serving the Lord alongside such a dear friend. If he can channel just one ounce of his love for spilling blood and inflicting pain toward spreading the Gospel, then the Lord's Word is in good hands. Brother Swanton, I look forward to seeing you each and every Sunday.
In honor of my dear friend's acceptance of the Lord, I am kindly asking you to DEDUCT thirty five per cent (35%) from all catalogue prices. This may seem unfair to me as a businessman, and you may feel unethical robbing me in such a manner, but I am sworn by sacred oath to give you the best prices humanly possible. I am now also paying an additional twenty-five per cent (25%) for all pristine pelts. LET NO TRAPPER OR SHIPPER EVER SUFFER THE PANGS OF DISSATISFACTION WHEN DEALING WITH THE FOUKE FUR COMPANY.
FOUKE FUR COMPANY, REVERED BY MAN, FEARED BY BEAST
Its as Sure as Death and TaxesTo you, valued reader of the Trappers' Partner, know this: I promise to treat you with the same level of respect and admiration that I show my friend and greatest enemy, J. F. Swanton. I would be honored to give you the BEST EXPERIENCE CONCEIVABLE BY MORTAL MEN, and vow to do everything in my power to make it happen. Other companies and businessmen may claim to have INTEGRITY, but few are true to their word. There is an army of men that numbers in the hundreds of thousands, and each one will personally attest to the quality of MY INTEGRITY. These men are my customers. If you are not one already, I trust that you soon will be.
I am especially pleased to offer a catalogue consisting of only the HIGHEST QUALITY ITEMS AVAILABLE to trappers and shippers. Nowhere else in this world or the next will you find such an invaluable collection of traps, smoke shells, rifles, knives, and more! Many a trapper and shipper have made their fortunes through my company, and I am pleased to have played a small part in their success. I have no doubt that many more, including you, might one day achieve great fortune. It is my personal belief that THE FUR TRADE WILL BE CENTRAL TO THE AMERICAN ECONOMY WELL INTO THE 23RD CENTURY. Many will stake a claim and find success, but many more will be swindled by inferior companies. THE FOUKE FUR COMPANY WILL NEVER FAIL YOU. Should that happen, you have my personal word that I will kill each and every man under my employ before taking my own life. That is, if they do not kill themselves first. I, as all good men know, a life of mistakes is simply not worth living.
THE COMPETITION MAY BE FIERCE IN CHARACTER, BUT NOT IN PRACTICE
You have heard the words of the competition and seen the men that promote them. You no doubt know that such men are at best furnaces of vitriol. Although they may seem fiery and impressive, their sole contribution to the world is but smoke and hot air. You are free to fan those flames by giving them business, but when your arms grow tired you are welcome to join THE HOUSE THAT TREATS YOU RIGHT. The Fouke Fur Company does not ask you to work for it; IT ASKS TO WORK FOR YOU.
This great company, of which I am honored to run, has the MOST EFFICIENT STAFF IN THE INDUSTRY. Together with these noble men, I have worked tirelessly to make your life as profitable as possible. I have worked so hard that the pain in my head often overwhelms me such that I suffer great spasms and convulsions, and the white light of integrity often consumes the sum of my vision. This is the burden I bear for YOU. I will give my life giving you a square deal, and I mean that.
BUSINESS BEGINS AND ENDS WITH A HANDSHAKE
When I was but three years of age my father taught me the secret to successful business. That secret is a firm handshake to open and seal all deals. When you do business with me, I promise to give you THE MOST COMPELLING HANDSHAKE OF YOUR LIFE. I will shake your hand firm and steady for as long as you desire. When you feel I have invested as much trust and energy into the handshake as you have in my business, I will break away swiftly and efficiently. If you have no hands to speak of, I will grip your shoulder tightly and speak directly to you in an authoritarian manner until you are convinced completely that I AM THE RIGHT MAN TO CONDUCT BUSINESS WITH.
The competition cannot make the same claim. J. F. Swanton finds human contact abhorrent, and touching any one of his diseased underlings may result in serious malady. Those who do not live under the seal of the handshake die in its absence.
In this age of catalogues, we cannot always meet personally. I ask that you take these words and these promises to be MY PERSONAL HANDSHAKE. If you desire a genuine handshake, I shall meet you in person and belay any fears you might have by grasping your hand with my own, shaking vigorously until all doubts are assuaged.
That is the P. B. Fouke Promise.
ALWAYS UNDAUNTED, ALWAYS MOVING AHEAD WITH INTEGRITY
Bricks and flesh may surround my spirit as I write this, BUT THEY DO NOT CAGE ME. I am keenly honed in on a scent, far off and elusive, but there none the less. I am drawn to it. It is the scent of the wolf your eyes narrow in on, of the moose haphazardly approaching one of your traps, of the smoke emanating from the mermaid den you now stalk in ambush. I am a man of business, but I am rooted in the trade your life revolves around. I cannot help but feel intricately woven into your lives as trappers, even when I myself am far from the hunting ground. I feel the pains of your struggles and the warmth of your hopes. I feel these things, and I act accordingly as a businessman.
Every trapper and shipper knows that there are but two houses to deal with in this industry. I trust you will choose the one that trusts you to make the right choice. The Fouke Fur Company is at your service. I am at your service until the end. Most important of all, my integrity is here to serve you.
And here's my name to say so.
P. B. Fouke
President and Gen. Mgr.
Fouke Fur Company
As the 19th century diver approaches a giant clam, a flash of brilliant golden light flares from within the shell. I emerge in a swirl of bubbles and do the timeless universal underwater hand signals for the following: ZODIAC KILLER, KKK, BLOOD OF YOUTH
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The esteemed P. B. Fouke, villainous J. F. Swanton and technocratic blowhard A. P. Brown battle for fur market supremacy in this series of old-timey dispatches.