This is not the tale of the traveling salesman. Rather, it is the tale of the traveling sword swallower who was between jobs, and was riding his thumb to keep up with the circus. His ability to follow the circus was greatly complicated by his complete illiteracy. He hid his defect pretty well because he was in the habit of conspicuously carrying around the latest best seller.
Late one night he found himself at a farm in the middle of the sticks. He told the farmer that he was an itinerant sword swallower, and he asked for a place to stay the night. The farmer fed the traveler and offered him a place to sleep in the barn.
As you might suspect, and as is the usual tradition in such stories, the farmer had a beautiful, nubile daughter. The traveler was strictly warned to stay away from the young lady. The farmer was assured by the traveler that he would happily spend the night reading and practicing his circus art.
I am sad to report that when the farmer started to check up on his guest and daughter, he found the book and sword absent-mindedly left on the kitchen table. Next, he found the traveler and daughter busily occupied in the haystack. The excited farmer, book in one hand and sword in the other, screamed at the fellow, “Read, swallow, or get out of the hay!”