Steampunk note: This story can be read as proto-steampunk. That is, a work written before the emergence of steampunk as a distinct style, often from the Victorian period itself, that employs elements that are now associated with steampunk. These texts often act as precursors to steampunk, or are simply read retroactively as relating to steampunk. For this story, the robotic salesperson in the nineteenth century setting is of particular interest:
The upper part of the man had a waxy face, dull, fishy eyes, and dark hair; he lounged on the sofa like a corpse at ease, while his legs and feet stood by, leaning stiffly against the wall (Three Elephant Power, p.22)
Also notable is the way in which anachronistic technology is used to solve contemporary social issues (in this case, the flesh-and-blood canvassers being waylaid and mistreated).