pounds of mutton for, daily for a hotel; he gave me a price so much below the price Payne was paying that my suspicions were confirmed. I was tremendously excited. In my turn I invited Payne to dinner and led up to the subject. At once he said "of course there's a 'rake-off' and if you'll hold in with me, I'll give you a third as I gave Curtis. The 'rake-off' don't hurt anyone," he went on, "for I buy below market-price." Of course I was all ears and eager interest when he admitted that the 'rake-off' was on everything he bought and amounted to about 20 per cent. of the cost. By this he changed his wages from two hundred dollars a month into something like two hundred dollars a week.
As soon as I had all the facts clear, I asked the nephew to dine with me and laid the situation before him. I had only one loyalty—to my employers and the good of the ship. To my astonishment he seemed displeased at first; "more trouble," he began, "why can't you stick to your own job and leave the others alone? What's in a commission after all?" When he came to understand what the commission amounted to and that he himself could do the buying in half an hour a day, he altered his tone. "What will my uncle say now?" he cried and went off to tell the owner his story. There was a tremendous row two days later for Mr. Cotton was a business man and went to the butcher we dealt with and ascertained for himself how important the 'rake-off' really was. When I was called into the uncle's room Payne tried to hit me; but he found it was easier to receive than to give punches and that "the damned kid" was not a bit afraid of him.
Curiously enough, I soon noticed that the "rake-off" had had the secondary result of giving us an inferior quality of meat; whenever the butcher was left with a roast he could not sell, he used to send it to us