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The San Francisco call. [volume] (San Francisco [Calif.]) 1895-1913, August 11, 1907, Image 15

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The San Francisco Sunday Call.
THE GENTLE GRAFTER
I HOPE some day to retire
1 from " business," said Jeff
I Peters; and when I do I don't
want anybody to be able to say
that I ever got a dollar of any man's
money without giving him a quid pro
rata for it. I've 'always managed to
leave a customer some little gewgaw
to paste in his scrapbook or stick be
tween Hi Seth Thomas dock and the
wall after we are through trading.
'There was one time I caxne near
having to break this rule of mine and
do a profligate and inaudible action,
but I vu saved from it by the laws
and statcies of our great and profit
able country.
"One eunimer me aad Andy Tucker,
tny partner. Sweat to New York to
lay in emr anneal assortment of
clothes and gents' furnishings. We
waa always pompous .and regardless
dressers, finding that looks went fur
ther than anything else in our busi
ness, except maybe our knowledge
of railroad schedules and an auto
graph photo of the president that
Locb sent cs, probably by mistake.
Andy wrote a nature letter once and
sent it-in about animals that he had
seen caught in a trap lots of times.
Loeb mast have read it 'triplets/ and
sent the photo. Anyhow, it was use
ful to us to show people as a guar
antee of good faith. '\u25a0'»*
"Me and Andy never cared much to
do business in New York. It was too
Juuch like pcthunting. Catching suck
ers in that town is like dynamiting
i Texas lake for bass. All you have
to do anywhere between the North
and East rivers is to stand in the
street with an open bag marked, 'Drop
packages of money here. No checks
or loose bills taken/ You have a cop
handy to club pikers who try to chip
in postofF.ce orders and Canadian
money, and that's all there is to New
York for a hunter who loves his pro
fession. So me and Andy used to
just nature fake the town. We'd get
out our spyglasses and watch the
woodcocks along the Broadway
swamps putting plaster casts on their
broken legs, and then we'd ' sneak
away without firing a shot.
"One day in the papier mache palm
room of a chloral hydrate and hops
agency in A side, street about eight
inches off Broadway me and Andy
liad thrust upon us the acquaintance
of a New Yorker. We had beer to
gether until we discovered that each
of us knew a man named Hellsmith,
traveling for a stove factory in Du
lutb. This caused us to remark that
the world was a very small place and
then this New Yorker busts his string
and takes off his tin foil and excelsior
packing and "starts in giving us his El
len Terries beginning with the time he
used to fell shoelaces to the Indians
on the fpot where Tammany hall now
stands.
"This New Yorker had made his
money keeping a. cigar store in Beek
man street, and he hadn't been above
Fourteenth street in 10 years. More
over, he had and the time
has gone by when a true sport will do
anything to a man with whiskers. No
grafter except a boy who is soliciting
subscribers to an illustrated weekly
to win a prize air rifle, or a widow,
would have the heart to tamper with
the man behind with the razor. He was
a typical city Rube— l'd bet the man
hadn't been- out of sight of a sky
scraper in 25 years. _-.'
"Well; presently this metropolitan
backwoodsman pulls out a roll of bills
with an old bltfp sleeve elastic fitting
tight around it. and opens it up.
"There's $5,000, Mr. Peters/ says
he, shoving it over the table to me,
'saved during my 15 years of business.
Pat that in your pocket and keep It
for me, Mr. Peters. I'm glad to meet
you gentlemen from the west, and I
may take a drop too much. X want
you to take. care of my money for
me. Now, let's have another beer/
*"You better keep this yourself/
says I. *We are strangers to you", and
you can't trust everybody yon meet.
Pet your roll back in your pocket/
says I. 'And you'd better run along
home before some farmhand from
the Kaw river bottoms strolls in- her*
and tells you a copper mine'
-'Oh, I don't know/ says Whisker*.
'I guess Little Old New York can
take care of herself. I guess I know
a man that's on. the square when I
see him. I've always found the west
ern people all right I ask you as a
favor, Mr. Peters/ says he, 'to keep
that roll -in your pocket for me. I
know a gentleman when I see' him.
And now let's have some more beer."
"In about 10 minutes this fall of
manna leans back in his chair and
snores. Andy looks at me and says:
'I reckon I'd better stay with him for
five minutes or so, in case the waiter
comes in/
"I went out the side door and
walked half a block op the street. And
then I came back and sat down at
the table.. V.v
"'Andy/ says I, 'I can't do it. It's
too much like swearing off taxes. I
can't go off with this man's money
without doing something to earn it
like taking advantage of the bankrupt
act or leaving a bottle of eczema \o»
tion in his pocket to make it look
more like a square deal/
"'Well/ says Andy, 'it does seem
kind of hard on one's professional
pride to lope off with a bearded pard's
competency, especially after he has
nominated you custodian of his bundle
in the sappy insouciance of his urban
indiscrimination. Suppose we wake
him up and see if we can formulate
some commercial sophistry by which
he will be enabled to give us both
his money and a good excuse/
"We wakes up Whiskers. He
stretches himself and yawns out the
hypothesis that he must have dropped
off for a minute. And then he says
he wouldn't mind setting in at a little
gentleman's game of poker. He used
to play some when he attended high
school in Brooklyn; arid as he, was
out for a good time, why — and so
forth.
"Andy brightens up a little at that,
for it looks like it might be a solution
to our financial troubles. So we all
.three go to our hotel farther down
Broadway, and have the cards arid
chips brought up to Andy's room. I
tried once more to make this babe
• fn the horticultural ' gardens take his
five thousand. But no.
. _ " 'Keep that little roll for. me, Mr.
Peters/ says he, 'and oblige. I'll ask
you fcr it when I want it. I guess I
know when I'm among friends. A
man that's done business on Beekman
street for 20 years, right in the heart
of the wisest little old village on
earth, ought to know what he's about.
I, 4 guess I can tell a gentleman
from a coriman or a flimflammer when
I meet him.' I've got some odd change
in my clothes^— enough to start the
game with. I; guess/ { - \u0084 .
"He goes through his pockets and
rains $20 gold certificates on the table
till it looked like a $10,000 'Autumn
Day in a Lemon Grove' in the salons.
Andy almost smiled. «
< "The first round that "was dealt." this
boulevardicr slaps down his hand,
claims low and jack and big casino
and rakes in the pot.
"Andy always took . a pride in -his
poker playing. He got up from, the
table and looked sadly out of the
window at the streetcars.
" 'Well t< gentlemen/ says the cigar
man, 'I don't blame you for not want
ing to play. I've forgotten the fine
points of the game, I guess, it's! been
so long since I indulged. Now, how
long are you gentlemen going to be
in the city?'
"I told him about a week longer.
He says that'll suit him fine:. His
, cousin Is coming over from Brooklyn
that evening and they are going .to
see the sights of New York. His
cousin, he says, is in the artificial limb
and lead casket business,': and hasn't
crossed the "bridge in eight years.
They expect to have the time of their
' lives, and he winds up by: asking me
to keep his roll of money for him till
next ."day.-- I tried to make him take
it, but it only insulted him to men
tion it.
"Til use what I got in loose
change/ says he. 'You keep the rest
', for me. I*2l drop in on you and . Mr.
Tucker tomorrow afternoon : about 6
or 7/ says he, 'and we'll have dinner
together. Be . good/ '
"After Whiskers had gone Andy
looked at me curious and doubtful. '
'"Well, Jeff/ says he, 'it looks 'like
the ravens; are trying to feed us two
Elijahs so hard that if we turned 'em
down again we ought "to have the
: Audubon society after, us. It won't
do to put ; the crown aside .too often.
I know this is something like; pater
nalism, but don't you. think, Oppor
tttnlty has skinned its knuckles about
enough at our door?'/ •
\ "ifput my feet on' the table and my
hands in my pockets, which is an at
titude unfavorable to frivolous
thoughts.
" 'Andy/ says I, 'this man with the
hirsute whiskers has got us in a pre
dicament. We can't, move/hand or
foot with his money. You and me
have ; got •\u25a0" a . gentleman's t agreement
with Fortune that !we can't | break.
We've done business in the west,
where it's more of a fair game. ' Out
there the people v.*e skin, are trying
to skin us, even the farmers and the
remittance men that the magazines
send out to write up Goldfield. But
there's little sport in New York city
for rod, reel or gun. They hunt here
with either of two things-»-a .slung
shot or a letter of introduction. The
town has been stocked so full of carp/
that the game fish are all gone. If
you spread a net here, do you catch
legitimate suckers in it, such as the
Lord intended to be caught— fresh
guys who 'know it all, sports .with a
little coin and the nerve to play an-,
other man's game, street crowds out
for \the fun of dropping a dollar or
two and village who know
just where the little pea is?' No, sir/
says I. 'What the grafters live on
-here is widows and orphans, and
foreigners, who save up a bag of,
money and hand it out over the first
counter they see with an iron railing
to it, and factory giris and lit\le shop
keepers that never leave the block
they do business on. That's what
they call suckers here. They're noth-,
ing jjut canned sardines, and all' the
bait you need to catch 'em is a pocket
knife and a soda cracker.
" 'Now, this cigar man/ I went on,
'is one of the types. He's lived 20
year 3on one street .without learning
as much as youv Would in. getting
a once over shave from a lockjawed
barber in a Kansas; crossroads town.
But he's' a New Yorker, and he'll brag
about that all the time when he isn't
picking up live wires or getting in
A 1A 1 Little Story of the "Tightest" Millionaires Oii Record
ago there died In Kew
|^ York 'Samuel \Dunlap, an oct'o
r genafian, ( who, although he could
any day have written a check for a mll
lion; and yethave remained rich, lived
for 40 'years, with a housekeeper as
sole attendant, -on the eipenditure—
apart from - drink—^of a vworkingman,
says the Post Dlspktch. '\u25a0 During all
this long, period he was only known to
purchase one suit, of clothes, 'a cheap
pair of gray trousers and two top coats;
he had four straw hats in 15 years.
Mrs. Ealden, his housekeeper,: used to
cut his 'hair "once a month, and she had
instructions to save the hair andiput it
in a mattress^ "as it was a pity -."to"
wasteit;'.' and. wh*en f Mr. Dunlap's frock
coat showed- signs* of ; wear she cut '-. off
its tails and converted it into a jacket
For the, last eight years of his life this
odd; man: lived entirely in a back :room
of : his house and spent his y time In
drinking \u25a0 whiskey J and champagne^— his
one , extravagance— of , which -ho would
often consume, five .bottles in a single
day. ''-\u0084 i'- 1 . . "'\u25a0','\u25a0" >r " \u25a0'\u25a0 '\u25a0 '\u25a0 ["'.'. \u25a0 :
- : 'A similar eccentric f was . George T.
Cllna of Chicago, who left a* great for
tune, at: his death a short time ago.
O. HENRY
front of streetcars or paying out
money to wire tappers or standing
under a safe that's being hoisted into
a skyscraper. .When a New Yorker
does loosen up/ says I, 'it's- like the
spring decomposition of the icejam
in the Allegheny river. He'll swamp
you with cracked ice. and backwater
if you* don't get but of* the way.
"'lt's mighty. unlucky for us, Andy/
says I,^ 'that this cigar- exponent with
the parsley. dressing, saw fit to bedeck
, us with his childlike trust and altru
ism.. For/ says I, 'this money of his
is an eyesore to, my sense of rectitude
and ethics. '-',' We can't take it, Andyf\
you know we can't/ says I, 'for we
haven't a shadow of a title to it — not
a shadow. If there was the least bit
of a way we could put in a claim to
it I'd be willing to see him start in
for another 20 years and make another
$5,000 for himself, but we haven't
sold him anything, we haven't been
imbroilcd in a trade or anything com
mercial. He approached us friendly/
says I, 'and with blind and beautiful
idiocy laid the stuff , in our hand*.
We'll have to give it back to him
when he wants it/ . . :•.
."'Your arguments/ says Andy, 'are
past criticism or comprehension. , Kb,
we can't, Walk off with the money —
as things now stand. I admire your
conscious.way of doing business, Jeff/
says Andy, 'and I wouldn't propose
anything that wasn't square in line with
your theories of. moral and initiative.
, " 'But' l'lf be away tonight and most
of.' tomorrow, Jeff/ says Andy] 'I've
got some business affairs that I want
to, .attend to. When this free green
backs party comes in tomorrow after
\u25a0j\oon hold him here till I arrive.
We've : all got an engagement . for
dinner, you know/
''Well, .sir, about 5 the next after
noon 'in trip* the cigar man, .with his
eyes half open. :
" '"Been having a glorious, time, Mr.
Peters/ says he. Took in all the
sights.. I tell you New ..York is the
onjiest only. Now if you don't mind/
I says he, 'I'll lie down on that couch
After the World's fair Mr. Cllne
bought a hotel of 75 rooms and : lived
there alone In a single room, occupying
his time In playing the violin. For
days together not a glimpse of him was
seen; . and then ; he' would ' repair "to a
cheap restaurant and eat. a mear which
cost; him 'a few. cents, and for which
he \u25a0 provided, the "\u25a0., tea. Re allowed . him
self .very little for '-food; and. apart
from his beloved violin, found his prin
cipal pleasure iri'Yeeking out Irishmen
with rich/ brogues and buying food arid
liquor for them In order to ; hear ? them
talk.'
: In a tiny, creeper covered hut, on the
summit of a mountain in. Pennsylvania
there -, Is , II vlng today a' member of one
of the richest •families* of America, a
man reputed to be enormously wealthy^"
From year's end ' to year's' end this her
mit of ~the hiils spends his days alone;
he does his own . cooking and house
work, %yashes his own linen in a neigh
boring, stream, catches his own -trout,
shoots his own ; his
own vegetables! ;. nillks his ; goat' and
makes.'hls own" bread. He never re
ceives . or , sends ,a* letter. \u25a0:\u25a0 never,' sees a
newspaper, r and holds *no communica
and doze off for about nine minutes
before Mr. Tucker comes. I'm not
used to being up all night. And 'to
morrow, if you don't mind, Mr. Peters,
I'll take that five thousand. I met
a man last night that's got a sure
tion with the outside world, with the
exception of an occasional chat with a
young farmer who brings- him flour,
eggs and meat once a week.
Another millionaire hermit who a
very few years ago, died In Moscow
was G.*G. Solodovnlkoff, who had made
a fortune, variously estimated at from
four to ten millions, by colossal specu
lations on the) Bourse. So many and
varied "were his investments that it
was said the handling of coupons alono
gave employment to. ten girls. And .yet
this .lord of millions,, who might have
rivaled kings In- the splendor of his
palaces, lived for years In a tumble
down, two-storied cottage, surrounded
by- sordid and "rotting furniture. For
weeks together he never : put his head
outside : his ; front door.'.- and he spent
halt his time. In. his dressing gown.
When his will was opened it was found
that; he had • left the{whole of his stu
pendous fortune ; for philanthropic pur
poses, from building, schools for : girls
to providing cheap lodgings for * the
working classes."
When M. Paul Colasson. tha famous
hermit of : Paris, died recently, it was
stated: that for the last 27 years of his
winner at the racetrack tomorrow.
Excuse me for being so impolite as
to go to sleep, Mr. Peters.'
"And so this inhabitant of the sec
ond city in the world repose* himself
and begins to snore, while I sit there
musing over things and wishing I
was back in the west; where you
could always depend on a customer
fighting to keep his money hard
enough "to let your conscience take it
from him.
"At half past 5 Andy comes in znd
tees the sleeping form.
"'l've been over to Trenton,* say
Andy, pulling a document from hts
pocket. 'I think I've got this matter
fixed up all right. Jeff. Look at that.*
"I open the paper and see that it is
a corporation charter issued by the
•tate of New Jersey to The Peters
& Tucker Consolidated and Amalga
mated Aerial Franchise Development
company, Lmtd/
",'lt's to bay up rights of way for
airship lines,' explained Andy. The
legislature wasn't in. session, but I
found a man at the postcard stand
in the lobby that kept a stock of
charters on hand. There are ICO.OOO
shares/ says Andy, 'expected to reach
a par value of $1. I had one blank
certificate of . stock printed.*
"Andy takes out the blank and be
. gins to fill it in with a fountain pen.
"The whole bunch,' says he, 'goes
to our friend in dreamland for $3,000.
Did you learn his name?*
."'Make it out to bearer/ says I.
\u0084"\Ve put the certificate of stock in
the cigar man's hand and went out to
pack our. suit cases.
"On the ferryboat Andy says to me:
'Is j-our conscience easy about taking
the money now. Jeff?* -
" 'Why shouldn't it be?* says I. 'Are
we any better, than any other holding
company?* "
(CepjTlght, 1807, !a United State* tad Omt
BrtUla bj the S. S. Mcdnr» ComvMj.y
Ufa he had lived exclusively on a diet
of eggs and bread, supplied to htm
every third day by an old servant. the
only, human : being he ever allowed to
enter the magnificent mansion to which
he had retired on-the tragic death e£
a favorite nephew. During all these
years he had ncrsed his grief in soli
tude, never once, so- far as is known,
leaving tba gorgeous palace) which he
had'eonverted into a prison.
St. Petersburg recently, lost har most
remarkable' character in the person at
a millionaire count, who, in splt-s or hi*
immense wealth, lived a life of the
most sordid poverty and self-denlaL Hit
figure, clothed In rags, was a familiar
spectacle in the streets of St. Peters
burg, and many a sympathetic passer
by pressed alms Into the >hand of the
man whose daily' Income' was esti
mated at 15,000.
Nor must we " forget - the millionaire
baronet who died a few years ago In
London, at the advanced . age of 91
years. For many. years no servant had
entered hts poor attic; his meals were
served ; and placed outside \u25a0; his * door at
stated intervals. He was never known
to cross? his' threshold, and. he v di«d
alone in the one ill furnished room la
which." though he had \u25a0 an annual in
come of $150,000, he had spent so many
years ' of sordid : and self • Imposed coa-

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