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Title: Old Gorgon Graham - More Letters from a Self-Made Merchant to His Son
Author: Lorimer, George Horace, 1868-1937
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Old Gorgon Graham - More Letters from a Self-Made Merchant to His Son" ***

[Illustration: Exchanging the grip of the third degree]


More Letters from a Self-Made Merchant to His Son

_by_ George Horace Lorimer

_With pictures by F.R. Gruger and Martin Justice_




I. From John Graham, head of the house of Graham & Company, pork
packers, in Chicago, familiarly known on 'Change as Old Gorgon Graham,
to his son, Pierrepont, at the Union Stock Yards.

    _The old man is laid up temporarily for repairs, and Pierrepont
    has written asking if his father doesn't feel that he is qualified
    now to relieve him of some of the burden of active management_

II. From John Graham, at the Schweitzerkasenhof, Carlsbad, to his
son, Pierrepont, at the Union Stock Yards, Chicago.

    _The head of the lard department has died suddenly, and
    Pierrepont has suggested to the old man that there is a silver
    lining to that cloud of sorrow_

III. From John Graham, at the Schweitzerkasenhof,
Carlsbad, to his son, Pierrepont, at
the Union Stock Yards, Chicago.

    _A friend of the young man has just presented a letter of
    introduction to the old man, and has exchanged a large bunch of
    stories for a small roll of bills_

IV. From John Graham, at the Hotel Cecil, London, to his son,
Pierrepont, at the Union Stock Yards, Chicago.

    _The old man has just finished going through the young man's
    first report as manager of the lard department, and he finds it
    suspiciously good_

V. From John Graham, at the Waldorf-Astoria, New York, to his son,
Pierrepont, at the Union Stock Yards, Chicago.

    _The young man has hinted vaguely of a quarrel between himself
    and Helen Heath, who is in New York with her mother, and has
    suggested that the old man act as peacemaker_

VI. From John Graham, at the Waldorf-Astoria, New York, to his son,
Pierrepont, at the Union Stock Yards, Chicago.

    _The young man has written describing the magnificent wedding
    presents that are being received, and hinting discreetly that it
    would not come amiss if he knew what shape the old man's was
    going to take, as he needs the money_

VII. From John Graham, at the Union Stock Yards, Chicago, to his son,
Pierrepont, at Yemassee-on-the-Tallahassee.

    _The young man is now in the third quarter of the honeymoon, and
    the old man has decided that it is time to bring him fluttering
    down to earth_

VIII. From John Graham, at the Union Stock Yards, Chicago, to his son,
Pierrepont, at Yemassee-on-the-Tallahassee.

    _In replying to his father's hint that it is time to turn his
    thoughts from love to lard, the young man has quoted a French
    sentence, and the old man has been both pained and puzzled by

IX. From John Graham, at the Union Stock Yards, Chicago, to his son,
Pierrepont, care of Graham & Company's brokers, Atlanta.

    _Following the old man's suggestion, the young man has rounded
    out the honeymoon into a harvest moon, and is sending in some
    very satisfactory orders to the house_

X. From John Graham, at Mount Clematis, Michigan, to his son,
Pierrepont, at the Union Stock Yards, Chicago.

    _The young man has done famously during the first year of his
    married life, and the old man has decided to give him a more
    important position_

XI. From John Graham, at Mount Clematis, Michigan, to his son,
Pierrepont, at the Union Stock Yards, Chicago.

    _The young man has sent the old man a dose of his own medicine,
    advice, and he is proving himself a good doctor by taking it_

XII. From John Graham, at Magnolia Villa, on the Florida Coast, to his
son, Pierrepont, at the Union Stock Yards, Chicago.

    _The old man has started back to Nature, but he hasn't gone
    quite far enough to lose sight of his business altogether_

XIII. From John Graham, at the Union Stock Yards, Chicago, to his son,
Pierrepont, care of Graham & Company, Denver.

    _The young man has been offered a large interest in a big thing
    at a small price, and he has written asking the old man to lend
    him the price_

XIV. From John Graham, at the Omaha branch of Graham & Company, to his
son, Pierrepont, at the Union Stock Yards, Chicago.

    _The old man has been advised by wire of the arrival of a
    prospective partner, and that the mother, the son, and the
    business are all doing well_

No. 1

From John Graham, head of the house of Graham & Company, pork packers,
in Chicago, familiarly known on 'Change as Old Gorgon Graham, to his
son, Pierrepont, at the Union Stock Yards. The old man is laid up
temporarily for repairs, and Pierrepont has written asking if his
father doesn't feel that he is qualified now to relieve him of some of
the burden of active management.


CARLSBAD, October 4, 189-.

_Dear Pierrepont_: I'm sorry you ask so many questions that you
haven't a right to ask, because you put yourself in the position of
the inquisitive bull-pup who started out to smell the third rail on
the trolley right-of-way--you're going to be full of information in a

In the first place, it looks as if business might be pretty good this
fall, and I'm afraid you'll have your hands so full in your place as
assistant manager of the lard department that you won't have time to
run my job, too.

Then I don't propose to break any quick-promotion records with you,
just because you happened to be born into a job with the house. A fond
father and a fool son hitch up into a bad team, and a good business
makes a poor family carryall. Out of business hours I like you better
than any one at the office, but in them there are about twenty men
ahead of you in my affections. The way for you to get first place is
by racing fair and square, and not by using your old daddy as a
spring-board from which to jump over their heads. A man's son is
entitled to a chance in his business, but not to a cinch.

It's been my experience that when an office begins to look like a
family tree, you'll find worms tucked away snug and cheerful in most
of the apples. A fellow with an office full of relatives is like a sow
with a litter of pigs--apt to get a little thin and peaked as the
others fat up. A receiver is next of kin to a business man's
relatives, and after they are all nicely settled in the office they're
not long in finding a job for him there, too. I want you to get this
firmly fixed in your mind, because while you haven't many relatives to
hire, if you ever get to be the head of the house, you'll no doubt
marry a few with your wife.

For every man that the Lord makes smart enough to help himself, He
makes two who have to be helped. When your two come to you for jobs,
pay them good salaries to keep out of the office. Blood is thicker
than water, I know, but when it's the blood of your wife's second
cousin out of a job, it's apt to be thicker than molasses--and
stickier than glue when it touches a good thing. After you have found
ninety-nine sound reasons for hiring a man, it's all right to let his
relationship to you be the hundredth. It'll be the only bad reason in
the bunch.

I simply mention this in passing, because, as I have said, you ain't
likely to be hiring men for a little while yet. But so long as the
subject is up, I might as well add that when I retire it will be to
the cemetery. And I should advise you to anchor me there with a pretty
heavy monument, because it wouldn't take more than two such statements
of manufacturing cost as I have just received from your department to
bring me back from the graveyard to the Stock Yards on the jump. And
until I do retire you don't want to play too far from first base. The
man at the bat will always strike himself out quick enough if he has
forgotten how to find the pitcher's curves, so you needn't worry about
that. But you want to be ready all the time in case he should bat a
few hot ones in your direction.

Some men are like oak leaves--they don't know when they're dead, but
still hang right on; and there are others who let go before anything
has really touched them. Of course, I may be in the first class, but
you can be dead sure that I don't propose to get into the second, even
though I know a lot of people say I'm an old hog to keep right along
working after I've made more money than I know how to spend, and more
than I could spend if I knew how. It's a mighty curious thing how many
people think that if a man isn't spending his money their way he isn't
spending it right, and that if he isn't enjoying himself according to
their tastes he can't be having a good time. They believe that money
ought to loaf; I believe that it ought to work. They believe that
money ought to go to the races and drink champagne; I believe that it
ought to go to the office and keep sober.

When a man makes a specialty of knowing how some other fellow ought to
spend his money, he usually thinks in millions and works for hundreds.
There's only one poorer hand at figures than these over-the-left
financiers, and he's the fellow who inherits the old man's dollars
without his sense. When a fortune comes without calling, it's apt to
leave without asking. Inheriting money is like being the second
husband of a Chicago grass-widow--mighty uncertain business, unless a
fellow has had a heap of experience. There's no use explaining when
I'm asked why I keep on working, because fellows who could put that
question wouldn't understand the answer. You could take these men and
soak their heads overnight in a pailful of ideas, and they wouldn't
absorb anything but the few loose cuss-words that you'd mixed in for
flavoring. They think that the old boys have corralled all the chances
and have tied up the youngsters where they can't get at them; when the
truth is that if we all simply quit work and left them the whole range
to graze over, they'd bray to have their fodder brought to them in
bales, instead of starting out to hunt the raw material, as we had to.
When an ass gets the run of the pasture he finds thistles.

I don't mind owning up to you, though, that I don't hang on because
I'm indispensable to the business, but because business is
indispensable to me. I don't take much stock in this indispensable man
idea, anyway. I've never had one working for me, and if I had I'd fire
him, because a fellow who's as smart as that ought to be in business
for himself; and if he doesn't get a chance to start a new one, he's
just naturally going to eat up yours. Any man can feel reasonably well
satisfied if he's sure that there's going to be a hole to look at when
he's pulled up by the roots.

I started business in a shanty, and I've expanded it into half a mile
of factories; I began with ten men working for me, and I'll quit with
10,000; I found the American hog in a mud-puddle, without a beauty
spot on him except the curl in his tail, and I'm leaving him nicely
packed in fancy cans and cases, with gold medals hung all over him.
But after I've gone some other fellow will come along and add a
post-graduate course in pork packing, and make what I've done look
like a country school just after the teacher's been licked. And I want
you to be that fellow. For the present, I shall report at the office
as usual, because I don't know any other place where I can get ten
hours' fun a day, year in and year out.

After forty years of close acquaintance with it, I've found that work
is kind to its friends and harsh to its enemies. It pays the fellow
who dislikes it his exact wages, and they're generally pretty small;
but it gives the man who shines up to it all the money he wants and
throws in a heap of fun and satisfaction for good measure.

A broad-gauged merchant is a good deal like our friend Doc Graver,
who'd cut out the washerwoman's appendix for five dollars, but would
charge a thousand for showing me mine--he wants all the money that's
coming to him, but he really doesn't give a cuss how much it is, just
so he gets the appendix.

I've never taken any special stock in this modern theory that no
fellow over forty should be given a job, or no man over sixty allowed
to keep one. Of course, there's a dead-line in business, just as there
is in preaching, and fifty's a good, convenient age at which to draw
it; but it's been my experience that there are a lot of dead ones on
both sides of it. When a man starts out to be a fool, and keeps on
working steady at his trade, he usually isn't going to be any Solomon
at sixty. But just because you see a lot of bald-headed sinners lined
up in the front row at the show, you don't want to get humorous with
every bald-headed man you meet, because the first one you tackle may
be a deacon. And because a fellow has failed once or twice, or a dozen
times, you don't want to set him down as a failure--unless he takes
failing too easy. No man's a failure till he's dead or loses his
courage, and that's the same thing. Sometimes a fellow that's been
batted all over the ring for nineteen rounds lands on the solar plexus
of the proposition he's tackling in the twentieth. But you can have a
regiment of good business qualities, and still fail without courage,
because he's the colonel, and he won't stand for any weakening at a
critical time.

I learned a long while ago not to measure men with a foot-rule, and
not to hire them because they were young or old, or pretty or homely,
though there are certain general rules you want to keep in mind. If
you were spending a million a year without making money, and you hired
a young man, he'd be apt to turn in and double your expenses to make
the business show a profit, and he'd be a mighty good man; but if you
hired an old man, he'd probably cut your expenses to the bone and show
up the money saved on the profit side; and he'd be a mighty good man,
too. I hire both and then set the young man to spending and the old
man to watching expenses.

Of course, the chances are that a man who hasn't got a good start at
forty hasn't got it in him, but you can't run a business on the law of
averages and have more than an average business. Once an old fellow
who's just missed everything he's sprung at gets his hooks in, he's a
tiger to stay by the meat course. And I've picked up two or three of
these old man-eaters in my time who are drawing pretty large salaries
with the house right now.

Whenever I hear any of this talk about carting off old fellows to the
glue factory, I always think of Doc Hoover and the time they tried the
"dead-line-at-fifty" racket on him, though he was something over
eighty when it happened.

After I left Missouri, Doc stayed right along, year after year, in the
old town, handing out hell to the sinners in public, on Sundays, and
distributing corn-meal and side-meat to them on the quiet, week-days.
He was a boss shepherd, you bet, and he didn't stand for any church rows
or such like nonsense among his sheep. When one of them got into trouble
the Doc was always on hand with his crook to pull him out, but let an old
ram try to start any stampede-and-follow-the-leader-over-the-precipice
foolishness, and he got the sharp end of the stick.

There was one old billy-goat in the church, a grocer named Deacon
Wiggleford, who didn't really like the Elder's way of preaching.
Wanted him to soak the Amalekites in his sermons, and to leave the
grocery business alone. Would holler Amen! when the parson got after
the money-changers in the Temple, but would shut up and look sour when
he took a crack at the short-weight prune-sellers of the nineteenth
century. Said he "went to church to hear the simple Gospel preached,"
and that may have been one of the reasons, but he didn't want it
applied, because there wasn't any place where the Doc could lay it on
without cutting him on the raw. The real trouble with the Deacon was
that he'd never really got grace, but only a pretty fair imitation.

Well, one time after the Deacon got back from his fall trip North to
buy goods, he tried to worry the Doc by telling him that all the
ministers in Chicago were preaching that there wasn't any super-heated
hereafter, but that each man lived through his share of hell right
here on earth. Doc's face fell at first, but he cheered up mightily
after nosing it over for a moment, and allowed it might be so; in
fact, that he was sure it was so, as far as those fellows were
concerned--they lived in Chicago. And next Sunday he preached hell so
hot that the audience fairly sweat.

He wound up his sermon by deploring the tendency to atheism which he
had noticed "among those merchants who had recently gone up with the
caravans to Babylon for spices" (this was just his high-toned way of
describing Deacon Wiggleford's trip to Chicago in a day-coach for
groceries), and hoped that the goods which they had brought back were
better than the theology. Of course, the old folks on the mourners'
bench looked around to see how the Deacon was taking it, and the
youngsters back on the gigglers' bench tittered, and everybody was
happy but the Deacon. He began laying for the Doc right there. And
without meaning to, it seems that I helped his little game along.

Doc Hoover used to write me every now and then, allowing that hams
were scarcer in Missouri and more plentiful in my packing-house than
they had any right to be, if the balance of trade was to be
maintained. Said he had the demand and I had the supply, and he wanted
to know what I was going to do about it. I always shipped back a
tierce by fast freight, because I was afraid that if I tried to argue
the point he'd come himself and take a car-load. He made a specialty
of seeing that every one in town had enough food and enough religion,
and he wasn't to be trifled with when he discovered a shortage of
either. A mighty good salesman was lost when Doc got religion.

Well, one day something more than ten years ago he wrote in,
threatening to make the usual raid on my smoke-house, and when I
answered, advising him that the goods were shipped, I inclosed a
little check and told him to spend it on a trip to the Holy Land which
I'd seen advertised. He backed and filled over going at first, but
finally the church took it out of his hands and arranged for a young
fellow not long out of the Theological Seminary to fill the pulpit,
and Doc put a couple of extra shirts in a grip and started off. I
heard the rest of the story from Si Perkins next fall, when he brought
on a couple of car-loads of steers to Chicago, and tried to stick me
half a cent more than the market for them on the strength of our
having come from the same town.

It seems that the young man who took Doc's place was one of these
fellows with pink tea instead of red blood in his veins. Hadn't any
opinions except your opinions until he met some one else. Preached
pretty, fluffy little things, and used eau de Cologne on his language.
Never hit any nearer home than the unspeakable Turk, and then he was
scared to death till he found out that the dark-skinned fellow under
the gallery was an Armenian. (The Armenian left the church anyway,
because the unspeakable Turk hadn't been soaked hard enough to suit
him.) Didn't preach much from the Bible, but talked on the cussedness
of Robert Elsmere and the low-downness of Trilby. Was always wanting
everybody to lead the higher life, without ever really letting on what
it was, or at least so any one could lay hold of it by the tail. In
the end, I reckon he'd have worked around to Hoyle's games--just to
call attention to their wickedness, of course.

The Pillars of the church, who'd been used to getting their religion
raw from Doc Hoover, didn't take to the bottle kindly, and they all
fell away except Deacon Wiggleford. He and the youngsters seemed to
cotton to the new man, and just before Doc Hoover was due to get back
they called a special meeting, and retired the old man with the title
of pastor emeritus. They voted him two donation parties a year as long
as he lived, and elected the Higher Lifer as the permanent pastor of
the church. Deacon Wiggleford suggested the pastor emeritus extra. He
didn't quite know what it meant, but he'd heard it in Chicago, and it
sounded pretty good, and as if it ought to be a heap of satisfaction
to a fellow who was being fired. Besides, it didn't cost anything, and
the Deacon was one of those Christians who think that you ought to be
able to save a man's immortal soul for two bits.

The Pillars were mighty hot next day when they heard what had
happened, and were for calling another special meeting; but two or
three of them got together and decided that it was best to lay low and
avoid a row until the Doc got back.

He struck town the next week with a jugful of water from the River
Jordan in one hand and a gripful of paper-weights made of wood from
the Mount of Olives in the other. He was chockful of the joy of having
been away and of the happiness of getting back, till they told him
about the Deacon's goings on, and then he went sort of gray and old,
and sat for a minute all humped up.

Si Perkins, who was one of the unregenerate, but a mighty good friend
of the Doc's, was standing by, and he blurted right out: "You say the
word, Doc, and we'll make the young people's society ride this rooster
out of town on a rail."

That seemed to wake up the Elder a bit, for he shook his head and
said, "No nonsense now, you Si"; and then, as he thought it over, he
began to bristle and swell up; and when he stood it was to his full
six feet four, and it was all man. You could see that he was boss of
himself again, and when a man like old Doc Hoover is boss of himself
he comes pretty near being boss of every one around him. He sent word
to the Higher Lifer by one of the Pillars that he reckoned he was
counting on him to preach a farewell sermon the next Sunday, and the
young man, who'd been keeping in the background till whatever was
going to drop, dropped, came around to welcome him in person. But
while the Doc had been doing a heap of praying for grace, he didn't
propose to take any chances, and he didn't see him. And he wouldn't
talk to any one else, just smiled in an aggravating way, though
everybody except Deacon Wiggleford and the few youngsters who'd made
the trouble called to remonstrate against his paying any attention to
their foolishness.

The whole town turned out the next Sunday to see the Doc step down. He
sat beside the Higher Lifer on the platform, and behind them were the
six deacons. When it came time to begin the services the Higher Lifer
started to get up, but the Doc was already on his feet, and he
whispered to him:

"Set down, young man"; and the young man sat. The Doc had a way of
talking that didn't need a gun to back it up.

The old man conducted the services right through, just as he always
did, except that when he'd remembered in his prayer every one in
America and had worked around through Europe to Asia Minor, he
lingered a trifle longer over the Turks than usual, and the list of
things which he seemed to think they needed brought the Armenian back
into the fold right then and there.

[Illustration: "We'll make the young people's society ride this
rooster out of town on a rail"]

By the time the Doc got around to preaching, Deacon Wiggleford was
looking like a fellow who'd bought a gold brick, and the Higher Lifer
like the brick. Everybody else felt and looked as if they were
attending the Doc's funeral, and, as usual, the only really calm and
composed member of the party was the corpse.

"You will find the words of my text," Doc began, "in the revised
version of the works of William Shakespeare, in the book--I mean
play--of Romeo and Juliet, Act Two, Scene Two: 'Parting is such sweet
sorrow that I shall say good-night till it be morrow,'" and while the
audience was pulling itself together he laid out that text in four
heads, each with six subheads. Began on partings, and went on a still
hunt through history and religion for them. Made the audience part with
Julius Caesar with regret, and had 'em sniffling at saying good-by to
Napoleon and Jeff Davis. Made 'em feel that they'd lost their friends
and their money, and then foreclosed the mortgage on the old homestead
in a this-is-very-sad-but-I-need-the-money tone. In fact, when he had
finished with Parting and was ready to begin on Sweet Sorrow, he had
not only exhausted the subject, but left considerable of a deficit in

They say that the hour he spent on Sweet Sorrow laid over anything
that the town had ever seen for sadness. Put 'em through every stage
of grief from the snuffles to the snorts. Doc always was a pretty
noisy preacher, but he began work on that head with
soft-pedal-tremolo-stop preaching and wound up with a peroration like
a steamboat explosion. Started with his illustrations dying of
consumption and other peaceful diseases, and finished up with railroad
wrecks. He'd been at it two hours when he got through burying the
victims of his last illustration, and he was just ready to tackle his
third head with six subheads. But before he took the plunge he looked
at his watch and glanced up sort of surprised:

"I find," he said, "that we have consumed more time with these
introductory remarks than I had intended. We would all, I know, like
to say good-by till to-morrow, did our dear young brother's plans
permit, but alas! he leaves us on the 2:17. Such is life; to-day we
are here, to-morrow we are in St. Louis, to which our young friend
must return. Usually, I don't approve of traveling on the Sabbath, but
in a case like this, where the reasons are very pressing, I will lay
aside my scruples, and with a committee of deacons which I have
appointed see our pastor emeritus safely off."

The Doc then announced that he would preach a series of six Sunday
night sermons on the six best-selling books of the month, and
pronounced the benediction while the Higher Lifer and Deacon
Wiggleford were trying to get the floor. But the committee of deacons
had 'em by the coat-tails, and after listening to their soothing
arguments the Higher Lifer decided to take the 2:17 as per schedule.
When he saw the whole congregation crowding round the Doc, and the
women crying over him and wanting to take him home to dinner, he
understood that there'd been a mistake somewhere and that he was the

Of course the Doc never really preached on the six best-selling books.
That was the first and last time he ever found a text in anything but
the Bible. Si Perkins wanted to have Deacon Wiggleford before the
church on charges. Said he'd been told that this pastor emeritus
business was Latin, and it smelt of popery to him; but the Doc
wouldn't stand for any foolishness. Allowed that the special meeting
was illegal, and that settled it; and he reckoned they could leave the
Deacon's case to the Lord. But just the same, the small boys used to
worry Wiggleford considerably by going into his store and yelling:
"Mother says she doesn't want any more of those pastor emeritus eggs,"
or, "She'll send it back if you give us any more of that dead-line

If the Doc had laid down that Sunday, there'd probably have been a
whole lot of talk and tears over his leaving, but in the end, the
Higher Lifer or some other fellow would have had his job, and he'd
have become one of those nice old men for whom every one has a lot of
respect but no special use. But he kept right on, owning his pulpit
and preaching in it, until the Great Call was extended to him.

I'm a good deal like the Doc--willing to preach a farewell sermon
whenever it seems really necessary, but some other fellow's.

Your affectionate father,


No. 2

From John Graham, at the Schweitzerkasenhof, Carlsbad, to his son,
Pierrepont, at the Union Stock Yards, Chicago. The head of the lard
department has died suddenly, and Pierrepont has suggested to the old
man that there is a silver lining to that cloud of sorrow.


CARLSBAD, October 20, 189-.

_Dear Pierrepont_: I've cabled the house that you will manage the lard
department, or try to, until I get back; but beyond that I can't see.
Four weeks doesn't give you much time to prove that you are the best
man in the shop for the place, but it gives you enough to prove that
you ain't. You've got plenty of rope. If you know how to use it you
can throw your steer and brand it; if you don't, I suppose I won't
find much more than a grease-spot where the lard department was, when
I get back to the office. I'm hopeful, but I'm a good deal like the
old deacon back in Missouri who thought that games of chance were
sinful, and so only bet on sure things--and I'm not betting.

Naturally, when a young fellow steps up into a big position, it breeds
jealousy among those whom he's left behind and uneasiness among those
to whom he's pulled himself up. Between them he's likely to be
subjected to a lot of petty annoyances. But he's in the fix of a dog
with fleas who's chasing a rabbit--if he stops to snap at the tickling
on his tail, he's going to lose his game dinner.

Even as temporary head of the lard department you're something of a
pup, and where there's dog there's fleas. You've simply got to get
used to them, and have sense enough to know that they're not eating
you up when they're only nibbling a little at your hide. And you don't
want to let any one see that a flea-bite can worry you, either. A pup
that's squirming and wriggling and nosing around the seat of the
trouble whenever one of his little friends gets busy, is kicked out
into the cold, sad night in the end. But a wise dog lies before the
fire with a droop in his ear and a dreamy look in his eyes until it
gets to the point where he can't stand 'em any longer. Then he sneaks
off under the dining-room table and rolls them out into the carpet.

There are two breeds of little things in business--those that you
can't afford to miss and those that you can't afford to notice. The
first are the details of your own work and those of the men under you.
The second are the little tricks and traps that the envious set around
you. A trick is always so low that a high-stepper can walk right over

When a fellow comes from the outside to an important position with a
house he generally gets a breathing-space while the old men spar
around taking his measure and seeing if he sizes up to his job. They
give him the benefit of the doubt, and if he shows up strong and
shifty on his feet they're apt to let him alone. But there isn't any
doubt in your case; everybody's got you sized up, or thinks he has,
and those who've been over you will find it hard to accept you as an
equal, and those who've been your equals will be slow to regard you as
a superior. When you've been Bill to a man, it comes awkward for him
to call you mister. He may do it to your face, but you're always Bill
again when you've turned the corner.

Of course, everybody's going to say you're an accident. Prove it. Show
that you're a regular head-on collision when anything gets in your
way. They're going to say that you've got a pull. Prove it--by taking
up all the slack that they give you. Back away from controversy, but
stand up stubborn as a mule to the fellow who's hunting trouble. I
believe in ruling by love, all right, but it's been my experience that
there are a lot of people in the world whom you've got to make
understand that you're ready to heave a brick if they don't come when
you call them. These men mistake kindness for weakness and courtesy
for cowardice. Of course, it's the exception when a fellow of this
breed can really hurt you, but the exception is the thing that you
always want to keep your eye skinned for in business. When it's good
growing weather and the average of the crop is ninety-five, you should
remember that old Satan may be down in Arizona cooking up a sizzler
for the cornbelt; or that off Cuba-ways, where things get excited
easy, something special in the line of tornadoes may be ghost-dancing
and making ready to come North to bust you into bits, if it catches
you too far away from the cyclone cellar. When a boy's face shines
with soap, look behind his ears.

Up to this point you've been seeing business from the seat of the man
who takes orders; now you're going to find out what sort of a snap the
fellow who gives them has. You're not even exchanging one set of
worries for another, because a good boss has to carry all his own and
to share those of his men. He must see without spying; he must hear
without sneaking; he must know without asking. It takes a pretty good
guesser to be a boss.

The first banana-skin which a lot of fellows step on when they're put
over other men is a desire to be too popular. Of course, it's a nice
thing to have everyone stand up and cheer when your name is mentioned,
but it's mighty seldom that that happens to any one till he's dead.
You can buy a certain sort of popularity anywhere with soft soap and
favors; but you can't buy respect with anything but justice, and
that's the only popularity worth having.

You'll find that this world is so small, and that most men in it think
they're so big, that you can't step out in any direction without
treading on somebody's corns, but unless you keep moving, the fellow
who's in a hurry to get somewhere is going to fetch up on your bunion.
Some men are going to dislike you because you're smooth, and others
because you have a brutal way of telling the truth. You're going to
repel some because they think you're cold, and others will cross the
street when they see you coming because they think you slop over. One
fellow won't like you because you're got curly hair, and another will
size you up as a stiff because you're bald. Whatever line of conduct
you adopt you're bound to make some enemies, but so long as there's a
choice I want you to make yours by being straightforward and just.
You'll have the satisfaction of knowing that every enemy you make by
doing the square thing is a rascal at heart. Don't fear too much the
enemy you make by saying No, nor trust too much the friend you make by
saying Yes.

Speaking of being popular naturally calls to mind the case of a fellow
from the North named Binder, who moved to our town when I was a boy,
and allowed that he was going into the undertaking business. Absalom
Magoffin, who had had all the post-mortem trade of the town for forty
years, was a queer old cuss, and he had some mighty aggravating ways.
Never wanted to talk anything but business. Would buttonhole you on
the street, and allow that, while he wasn't a doctor, he had had to
cover up a good many of the doctor's mistakes in his time, and he
didn't just like your symptoms. Said your looks reminded him of Bill
Shorter, who' went off sudden in the fifties, and was buried by the
Masons with a brass band. Asked if you remembered Bill, and that
peculiar pasty look about his skin. Naturally, this sort of thing
didn't make Ab any too popular, and so Binder got a pretty warm
welcome when he struck town.

He started right out by saying that he didn't see any good reason why
an undertaker should act as if he was the next of kin. Was always
stopping people on the streets to tell them the latest, and yelling
out the point in a horse-laugh. Everybody allowed that jolly old
Binder had the right idea; and that Magoffin might as well shut up
shop. Every one in town wanted to see him officiate at a funeral, and
there was a lot of talk about encouraging new enterprises, but it
didn't come to anything. No one appeared to have any public spirit.

Seemed as if we'd never had a healthier spring than that one. Couldn't
fetch a nigger, even. The most unpopular man in town, Miser Dosher,
came down with pneumonia in December, and every one went around saying
how sad it was that there was no hope, and watching for Binder to
start for the house. But in the end Dosher rallied and "went back on
the town," as Si Perkins put it. Then the Hoskins-Bustard crowds took
a crack at each other one court day, but it was mighty poor shooting.
Ham Hoskins did get a few buckshot in his leg, and that had to come
off, but there were no complications.

By this time Binder, though he still laughed and cracked his jokes,
was beginning to get sort of discouraged. But Si Perkins used to go
round and cheer him up by telling him that it was bound to come his
way in the end, and that when it did come it would come with a rush.

Then, all of a sudden, something happened--yellow jack dropped in from
down New Orleans way, and half the people in town had it inside a week
and the other half were so blamed scared that they thought they had
it. But through it all Binder never once lost his merry, cheery ways.
Luckily it was a mild attack and everybody got well; but it made it
mighty easy for Doc Hoover to bring sinners tinder conviction for a
year to come.

When it was all over Binder didn't have a friend in town. Leaked out
little by little that as soon as one of the men who'd been cheering
for jolly old Binder got yellow jack, the first thing he did was to
make his wife swear that she'd have Magoffin do the planting.

You see, that while a man may think it's all foolishness for an
undertaker to go around solemn and sniffling, he'll be a little slow
about hiring a fellow to officiate at his funeral who's apt to take a
sense of humor to it.

Si Perkins was the last one to get well, and the first time he was
able to walk as far as the store he made a little speech. Wanted to
know if we were going to let a Connecticut Yankee trifle with our
holiest emotions. Thought he ought to be given a chance to crack his
blanked New England jokes in Hades. Allowed that the big locust in
front of Binder's store made an ideal spot for a jolly little funeral.
Of course Si wasn't exactly consistent in this, but, as he used to
say, it's the consistent men who keep the devil busy, because no one's
ever really consistent except in his cussedness. It's been my
experience that consistency is simply a steel hoop around a small
mind--it keeps it from expanding.

Well, Si hadn't more than finished before the whole crowd was off
whooping down the street toward Binder's. As soon as they got in range
of the house they began shooting at the windows and yelling for him to
come out if he was a man, but it appeared that Binder wasn't a
man--leastways, he didn't come out--and investigation showed that he
was streaking it back for Connecticut.

I simply mention this little incident as an example of the fact that
popularity is a mighty uncertain critter and a mighty unsafe one to
hitch your wagon to. It'll eat all the oats you bring it, and then
kick you as you're going out of the stall. It's happened pretty often
in my time that I've seen a crowd pelt a man with mud, go away, and,
returning a few months or a few years later, and finding him still in
the same place, throw bouquets at him. But that, mark you, was because
first and last he was standing in the right place.

It's been my experience that there are more cases of hate at first
sight than of love at first sight, and that neither of them is of any
special consequence. You tend strictly to your job of treating your
men square, without slopping over, and when you get into trouble
there'll be a little bunch to line up around you with their horns down
to keep the wolves from cutting you out of the herd.

Your affectionate father,


No. 3

From John Graham, at the Schweitzerkasenhof, Carlsbad, to his son,
Pierrepont, at the Union Stock Yards, Chicago. A friend of the young
man has just presented a letter of introduction to the old man, and
has exchanged a large bunch of stories for a small roll of bills.


CARLSBAD, October 24, 189-.

_Dear Pierrepont_: Yesterday your old college friend, Clarence, blew
in from Monte Carlo, where he had been spending a few days in the
interests of science, and presented your letter of introduction. Said
he still couldn't understand just how it happened, because he had
figured it out by logarithms and trigonometry and differential
calculus and a lot of other high-priced studies that he'd taken away
from Harvard, and that it was a cinch on paper. Was so sure that he
could have proved his theory right if he'd only had a little more
money that it hardly seemed worth while to tell him that the only
thing he could really prove with his system was old Professor Darwin's
theory that men and monkeys began life in the same cage. It never
struck me before, but I'll bet the Professor got that idea while he
was talking with some of his students.

Personally, I don't know a great deal about gambling, because all I
ever spent for information on the subject was $2.75--my fool horse
broke in the stretch--and that was forty years ago; but first and last
I've heard a lot of men explain how it happened that they hadn't made
a hog-killing. Of course, there must be a winning end to gambling, but
all that these men have been able to tell about is the losing end. And
I gather from their experiences that when a fellow does a little
gambling on the side, it's usually on the wrong side.

The fact of the matter is, that the race-horse, the faro tiger, and
the poker kitty have bigger appetites than any healthy critter has a
right to have; and after you've fed a tapeworm, there's mighty little
left for you. Following the horses may be pleasant exercise at the
start, but they're apt to lead you to the door of the poorhouse or the
jail at the finish.

To get back to Clarence; he took about an hour to dock his cargo of
hard luck, and another to tell me how strange it was that there was no
draft from his London bankers waiting to welcome him. Naturally, I
haven't lived for sixty years among a lot of fellows who've been
trying to drive a cold-chisel between me and my bank account, without
being able to smell a touch coming a long time before it overtakes me,
and Clarence's intentions permeated his cheery conversation about as
thoroughly as a fertilizer factory does a warm summer night. Of
course, he gave me every opportunity to prove that I was a gentleman
and to suggest delicately that I should be glad if he would let me act
as his banker in this sudden emergency, but as I didn't show any signs
of being a gentleman and a banker, he was finally forced to come out
and ask me in coarse commercial words to lend him a hundred. Said it
hurt him to have to do it on such short acquaintance, but I couldn't
see that he was suffering any real pain.

Frankly, I shouldn't have lent Clarence a dollar on his looks or his
story, for they both struck me as doubtful collateral, but so long as
he had a letter from you, asking me to "do anything in my power to
oblige him, or to make his stay in Carlsbad pleasant," I let him have
the money on your account, to which I have written the cashier to
charge it. Of course, I hope Clarence will pay you back, but I think
you will save bookkeeping by charging it off to experience. I've
usually found that these quick, glad borrowers are slow, sad payers.
And when a fellow tells you that it hurts him to have to borrow, you
can bet that the thought of having to pay is going to tie him up into
a bow-knot of pain.

Right here I want to caution you against giving away your signature to
every Clarence and Willie that happens along. When your name is on a
note it stands only for money, but when it's on a letter of
introduction or recommendation it stands for your judgment of ability
and character, and you can't call it in at the end of thirty days,
either. Giving a letter of introduction is simply lending your name
with a man as collateral, and if he's no good you can't have the
satisfaction of redeeming your indorsement, even; and you're
discredited. The first thing that a young merchant must learn is that
his brand must never appear on a note, or a ham, or a man that isn't
good. I reckon that the devil invented the habit of indorsing notes
and giving letters to catch the fellows he couldn't reach with whisky
and gambling.

Of course, letters of introduction have their proper use, but about
nine out of ten of them are simply a license to some Clarence to waste
an hour of your time and to graft on you for the luncheon and cigars.
It's getting so that a fellow who's almost a stranger to me doesn't
think anything of asking for a letter of introduction to one who's a
total stranger. You can't explain to these men, because when you try
to let them down easy by telling them that you haven't had any real
opportunity to know what their special abilities are, they always come
back with an, "Oh! that's all right--just say a word and refer to
anything you like about me."

I give them the letter then, unsealed, and though, of course, they're
not supposed to read it, I have reason to think that they do, because
I've never heard of one of those letters being presented. I use the
same form on all of them, and after they've pumped their thanks into
me and rushed around the corner, they find in the envelope: "This will
introduce Mr. Gallister. While I haven't had the pleasure of any
extended acquaintance with Mr. Gallister, I like his nerve."

It's a mighty curious thing, but a lot of men who have no claim on
you, and who wouldn't think of asking for money, will panhandle both
sides of a street for favors that mean more than money. Of course,
it's the easy thing and the pleasant thing not to refuse, and after
all, most men think, it doesn't cost anything but a few strokes of the
pen, and so they will give a fellow that they wouldn't ordinarily play
on their friends as a practical joke, a nice sloppy letter of
introduction to them; or hand out to a man that they wouldn't give
away as a booby prize, a letter of recommendation in which they crack
him up as having all the qualities necessary for an A1 Sunday-school
superintendent and bank president.

Now that you are a boss you will find that every other man who comes
to your desk is going to ask you for something; in fact, the
difference between being a sub and a boss is largely a matter of
asking for things and of being asked for things. But it's just as one
of those poets said--you can't afford to burn down the glue factory to
stimulate the demand for glue stock, or words to that effect.

Of course, I don't mean by this that I want you to be one of those
fellows who swell out like a ready-made shirt and brag that they "never
borrow and never lend." They always think that this shows that they are
sound, conservative business men, but, as a matter of fact, it simply
stamps them as mighty mean little cusses. It's very superior, I know,
to say that you never borrow, but most men have to at one time or
another, and then they find that the never-borrow-never-lend platform
is a mighty inconvenient one to be standing on. Be just in business and
generous out of it. A fellow's generosity needs a heap of exercise to
keep it in good condition, and the hand that writes out checks gets
cramped easier than the hand that takes them in. You want to keep them
both limber.

While I don't believe in giving with a string tied to every dollar, or
doing up a gift in so many conditions that the present is lost in the
wrappings, it's a good idea not to let most people feel that money can
be had for the asking. If you do, they're apt to go into the asking
business for a living. But these millionaires who give away a hundred
thousand or so, with the understanding that the other fellow will
raise another hundred thousand or so, always remind me of a lot of
boys coaxing a dog into their yard with a hunk of meat, so that they
can tie a tin can to his tail--the pup edges up licking his chops at
the thought of the provisions and hanging his tail at the thought of
the hardware. If he gets the meat, he's got to run himself to death to
get rid of the can.

While we're on this subject of favors I want to impress on you the
importance of deciding promptly. The man who can make up his mind
quick, makes up other people's minds for them. Decision is a sharp
knife that cuts clear and straight and lays bare the fat and the lean;
indecision, a dull one that hacks and tears and leaves ragged edges
behind it. Say yes or no--seldom perhaps. Some people have such
fertile imaginations that they will take a grain of hope and grow a
large definite promise with bark on it overnight, and later, when you
come to pull that out of their brains by the roots, it hurts, and they

When a fellow asks for a job in your department there may be reasons
why you hate to give him a clear-cut refusal, but tell him frankly
that you see no possibility of placing him, and while he may not like
the taste of the medicine, he swallows it and it's down and forgotten.
But you say to him that you're very sorry your department is full just
now, but that you think a place will come along later and that he
shall have the first call on it, and he goes away with his teeth in a
job. You've simply postponed your trouble for a few weeks or months.
And trouble postponed always has to be met with accrued interest.

Never string a man along in business. It isn't honest and it isn't
good policy. Either's a good reason, but taken together they head the
list of good reasons.

Of course, I don't mean that you want to go rampaging along, trampling
on people's feelings and goring every one who sticks up a head in your
path. But there's no use shilly-shallying and doddering with people
who ask questions and favors they have no right to ask. Don't hurt any
one if you can help it, but if you must, a clean, quick wound heals

When you can, it's better to refuse a request by letter. In a letter
you need say only what you choose; in a talk you may have to say more
than you want to say.

With the best system in the world you'll find it impossible, however,
to keep a good many people who have no real business with you from
seeing you and wasting your time, because a broad-gauged merchant must
be accessible. When a man's office is policed and every one who sees
him has to prove that he's taken the third degree and is able to give
the grand hailing sign, he's going to miss a whole lot of things that
it would be mighty valuable for him to know. Of course, the man whose
errand could be attended to by the office-boy is always the one who
calls loudest for the boss, but with a little tact you can weed out
most of these fellows, and it's better to see ten bores than to miss
one buyer. A house never gets so big that it can afford to sniff at a
hundred-pound sausage order, or to feel that any customer is so small
that it can afford not to bother with him. You've got to open a good
many oysters to find a pearl.

You should answer letters just as you answer men--promptly,
courteously, and decisively. Of course, you don't ever want to go off
half-cocked and bring down a cow instead of the buck you're aiming at,
but always remember that game is shy and that you can't shoot too
quick after you've once got it covered. When I go into a fellow's
office and see his desk buried in letters with the dust on them, I
know that there are cobwebs in his head. Foresight is the quality that
makes a great merchant, but a man who has his desk littered with
yesterday's business has no time to plan for to-morrow's.

The only letters that can wait are those which provoke a hot answer. A
good hot letter is always foolish, and you should never write a
foolish thing if you can say it to the man instead, and never say it
if you can forget it. The wisest man may make an ass of himself
to-day, over to-day's provocation, but he won't tomorrow. Before being
used, warm words should be run into the cooling-room until the animal
heat is out of them. Of course, there's no use in a fool's waiting,
because there's no room in a small head in which to lose a grievance.

Speaking of small heads naturally calls to mind a gold brick named
Solomon Saunders that I bought when I was a good deal younger and
hadn't been buncoed so often. I got him with a letter recommending him
as a sort of happy combination of the three wise men of the East and
the nine muses, and I got rid of him with one in which I allowed that
he was the whole dozen.

I really hired Sol because he reminded me of some one I'd known and
liked, though I couldn't just remember at the time who it was; but one
day, after he'd been with me about a week, it came to me in a flash
that he was the living image of old Bucker, a billy-goat I'd set aheap
of store by when I was a boy. That was a lesson to me on the
foolishness of getting sentimental in business. I never think of the
old homestead that echo doesn't answer, "Give up!"; or hear from it
without getting a bill for having been born there.

Sol had started out in life to be a great musician. Had raised the
hair for the job and had kept his finger-nails cut just right for it,
but somehow, when he played "My Old Kentucky Home," nobody sobbed
softly in the fourth row. You see, he could play a piece absolutely
right and meet every note just when it came due, but when he got
through it was all wrong. That was Sol in business, too. He knew just
the right rule for doing everything and did it just that way, and yet
everything he did turned out to be a mistake. Made it twice as
aggravating because you couldn't consistently find fault with him. If
you'd given Sol the job of making over the earth he'd have built it
out of the latest text-book on "How to Make the World Better," and
have turned out something as correct as a spike-tail coat--and every
one would have wanted to die to get out of it.

Then, too, I never saw such a cuss for system. Other men would forget
costs and prices, but Sol never did. Seemed he ran his memory by
system. Had a way when there was a change in the price-list of taking
it home and setting it to poetry. Used "Ring Out, Wild Bells," by A.
Tennyson, for a bull market--remember he began it "Ring Off, Wild
Bulls"--and "Break, Break, Break," for a bear one.

It used to annoy me considerable when I asked him the price of pork
tenderloins to have him mumble through two or three verses till he
fetched it up, but I didn't have any real kick coming till he got
ambitious and I had to wait till he'd hummed half through a grand
opera to get a quotation on pickled pigs' feet in kits. I felt that we
had reached the parting of the ways then, but I didn't like to point
out his way too abruptly, because the friend who had unloaded him on
us was pretty important to me in my business just then, and he seemed
to be all wrapped up in Sol's making a hit with us.

It's been my experience, though, that sometimes when you can't kick a
man out of the back door without a row, you can get him to walk out
the front way voluntarily. So when I get stuck with a fellow that, for
some reason, it isn't desirable to fire, I generally promote him and
raise his pay. Some of these weak sisters I make the assistant boss of
the machine-shop and some of the bone-meal mill. I didn't dare send
Sol to the machine-shop, because I knew he wouldn't have been there a
week before he'd have had the shop running on Götterdämmerung or one
of those other cuss-word operas of Wagner's. But the strong point of a
bone-meal mill is bone-dust, and the strong point of bone-dust is
smell, and the strong point of its smell is its staying qualities.
Naturally it's the sort of job for which you want a bald-headed man,
because a fellow who's got nice thick curls will cheat the house by
taking a good deal of the product home with him. To tell the truth,
Sol's hair had been worrying me almost as much as his system. When I
hired him I'd supposed he'd finally molt it along with his musical
tail-feathers. I had a little talk with him then, in which I hinted at
the value of looking clear-cut and trim and of giving sixteen ounces
to the pound, but the only result of it was that he went off and
bought a pot of scented vaseline and grew another inch of hair for
good measure. It seemed a pity now, so long as I was after his scalp,
not to get it with the hair on.

Sol had never seen a bone-meal mill, but it flattered him mightily to
be promoted into the manufacturing end, "where a fellow could get
ahead faster," and he said good-by to the boys in the office with his
nose in the air, where he kept it, I reckon, during the rest of his
connection with the house.

If Sol had stuck it out for a month at the mill I'd have known that he
had the right stuff in him somewhere and have taken him back into the
office after a good rub-down with pumice-stone. But he turned up the
second day, smelling of violet soap and bone-meal, and he didn't sing
his list of grievances, either. Started right in by telling me how,
when he got into a street-car, all the other passengers sort of faded
out; and how his landlady insisted on serving his meals in his room.
Almost foamed at the mouth when I said the office seemed a little
close and opened the window, and he quoted some poetry about that
being "the most unkindest cut of all." Wound up by wanting to know how
he was going to get it out of his hair.

I broke it to him as gently as I could that it would have to wear out
or be cut out, and tried to make him see that it was better to be a
bald-headed boss on a large salary than a curly-headed clerk on a
small one; but, in the end, he resigned, taking along a letter from me
to the friend who had recommended him and some of my good bone-meal.

I didn't grudge him the fertilizer, but I did feel sore that he hadn't
left me a lock of his hair, till some one saw him a few days later,
dodging along with his collar turned up and his hat pulled down,
looking like a new-clipped lamb. I heard, too, that the fellow who had
given him the wise-men-muses letter to me was so impressed with the
almost exact duplicate of it which I gave Sol, and with the fact that
I had promoted him so soon, that he concluded he must have let a good
man get by him, and hired him himself.

Sol was a failure as a musician because, while he knew all the notes,
he had nothing in himself to add to them when he played them. It's
easy to learn all the notes that make good music and all the rules
that make good business, but a fellow's got to add the fine curves to
them himself if he wants to do anything more than beat the bass-drum
all his life. Some men think that rules should be made of cast iron; I
believe that they should be made of rubber, so that they can be
stretched to fit any particular case and then spring back into shape
again. The really important part of a rule is the exception to it.

Your affectionate father,


P.S.--Leave for home to-morrow.

No. 4

From John Graham, at the Hotel Cecil, London, to his son, Pierrepont,
at the Union Stock Yards, Chicago. The old man has just finished going
through the young man's first report as manager of the lard
department, and he finds it suspiciously good.


LONDON, December 1, 189-.

_Dear Pierrepont_: Your first report; looks so good that I'm a little
afraid of it. Figures don't lie, I know, but that's, only because they
can't talk. As a matter of fact, they're just as truthful as the man
who's behind them.

It's been my experience that there are two kinds of figures--educated
and uneducated ones--and that the first are a good deal like the
people who have had the advantage of a college education on the inside
and the disadvantage of a society finish on the outside--they're apt
to tell you only the smooth and the pleasant things. Of course, it's
mighty nice to be told that the shine of your shirt-front is blinding
the floor-manager's best girl; but if there's a hole in the seat of
your pants you ought to know that, too, because sooner or later you've
got to turn your back to the audience.

Now don't go off half-cocked and think I'm allowing that you ain't
truthful; because I think you are--reasonably so--and I'm sure that
everything you say in your report is true. But is there anything you
don't say in it?

A good many men are truthful on the installment plan--that is, they
tell their boss all the good things in sight about their end of the
business and then dribble out the bad ones like a fellow who's giving
you a list of his debts. They'll yell for a week that the business of
their department has increased ten per cent., and then own up in a
whisper that their selling cost has increased twenty. In the end, that
always creates a worse impression than if both sides of the story had
been told at once or the bad had been told first. It's like buying a
barrel of apples that's been deaconed--after you've found that the
deeper you go the meaner and wormier the fruit, you forget all about
the layer of big, rosy, wax-finished pippins which was on top.

I never worry about the side of a proposition that I can see; what I
want to get a look at is the side that's out of sight. The bugs always
snuggle down on the under side of the stone.

The best year we ever had--in our minds--was one when the
superintendent of the packing-house wanted an increase in his salary,
and, to make a big showing, swelled up his inventory like a poisoned
pup. It took us three months, to wake up to what had happened, and a
year to get over feeling as if there was sand in our eyes when we
compared the second showing with the first. An optimist is as bad as a
drunkard when he comes to figure up results in business--he sees
double. I employ optimists to get results and pessimists to figure
them up.

After I've charged off in my inventory for wear and tear and
depreciation, I deduct a little more just for luck--bad luck. That's
the only sort of luck a merchant can afford to make a part of his

The fellow who said you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear
wasn't on to the packing business. You can make the purse and you can
fill it, too, from the same critter. What you can't do is to load up a
report with moonshine or an inventory with wind, and get anything more
substantial than a moonlight sail toward bankruptcy. The kittens of a
wildcat are wildcats, and there's no use counting on their being

Speaking of educated pigs naturally calls to mind Jake Solzenheimer
and the lard that he sold half a cent a pound cheaper than any one
else in the business could make it. That was a long time ago, when the
packing business was still on the bottle, and when the hogs that came
to Chicago got only a common-school education and graduated as plain
hams and sides and lard and sausage. Literature hadn't hit the hog
business then. It was just Graham's hams or Smith's lard, and there
were no poetical brands or high-art labels.

Well, sir, one day I heard that this Jake was offering lard to the
trade at half a cent under the market, and that he'd had the nerve to
label it "Driven Snow Leaf." Told me, when I ran up against him on the
street, that he'd got the name from a song which began, "Once I was
pure as the driven snow." Said it made him feel all choky and as if he
wanted to be a better man, so he'd set out to make the song famous in
the hope of its helping others. Allowed that this was a hard world,
and that it was little enough we could do in our business life to
scatter sunshine along the way; but he proposed that every can which
left his packing-house after this should carry the call to a better
life into some humble home.

I let him lug that sort of stuff to the trough till he got tired, and
then I looked him square in the eye and went right at him with:

"Jake, what you been putting in that lard?" because I knew mighty well
that there was something in it which had never walked on four feet and
fattened up on fifty-cent corn and then paid railroad fare from the
Missouri River to Chicago. There are a good many things I don't know,
but hogs ain't one of them.

Jake just grinned at me and swore that there was nothing in his lard
except the pure juice of the hog; so I quit fooling with him and took
a can of "Driven Snow" around to our chemist. It looked like lard and
smelt like lard--in fact, it looked better than real lard: too white
and crinkly and tempting on top. And the next day the chemist came
down to my office and told me that "Driven Snow" must have been driven
through a candle factory, because it had picked up about twenty per
cent. of paraffin wax somewhere.

Of course, I saw now why Jake was able to undersell us all, but it was
mighty important to knock out "Driven Snow" with the trade in just the
right way, because most of our best customers had loaded up with it.
So I got the exact formula from the chemist and had about a hundred
sample cans made up, labeling each one "Wandering Boy Leaf Lard," and
printing on the labels: "This lard contains twenty per cent. of

I sent most of these cans, with letters of instruction, to our men
through the country. Then I waited until it was Jake's time to be at
the Live Stock Exchange, and happened in with a can of "Wandering Boy"
under my arm. It didn't take me long to get into conversation with
Jake, and as we talked I swung that can around until it attracted his
attention, and he up and asked:

"What you got there, Graham?"

"Oh, that," I answered, slipping the can behind my back--"that's a new
lard we're putting out--something not quite so expensive as our
regular brand."

Jake stopped grinning then and gave me a mighty sharp look.

"Lemme have a squint at it," says he, trying not to show too keen an
interest in his face.

I held back a little; then I said: "Well, I don't just know as I ought
to show you this. We haven't regularly put it on the market, and this
can ain't a fair sample of what we can do; but so long as I sort of
got the idea from you I might as well tell you. I'd been thinking over
what you said about that lard of yours, and while they were taking a
collection in church the other day the soprano up and sings a mighty
touching song. It began, 'Where is my wandering boy to-night?' and by
the time she was through I was feeling so mushy and sobby that I put a
five instead of a one into the plate by mistake. I've been thinking
ever since that the attention of the country ought to be called to
that song, and so I've got up this missionary lard"; and I shoved the
can of "Wandering Boy" under his eyes, giving him time to read the
whole label.

"H--l!" he said.

"Yes," I answered; "that's it. Good lard gone wrong; but it's going to
do a great work."

[Illustration: "That's it--good lard gone wrong"]

Jake's face looked like the Lost Tribes--the whole bunch of 'em--as
the thing soaked in; and then he ran his arm through mine and drew me
off into a corner.

"Graham," said he, "let's drop this cussed foolishness. You keep dark
about this and we'll divide the lard trade of the country."

I pretended not to understand what he was driving at, but reached out
and grasped his hand and wrung it. "Yes, yes, Jake," I said; "we'll
stand shoulder to shoulder and make the lard business one grand sweet
song," and then I choked him off by calling another fellow into the
conversation. It hardly seemed worth while to waste time telling Jake
what he was going to find out when he got back to his office--that
there wasn't any lard business to divide, because I had hogged it all.

You see, my salesmen had taken their samples of "Wandering Boy" around
to the buyers and explained that it was made from the same formula as
"Driven Snow," and could be bought at the same price. They didn't sell
any "Boy," of course--that wasn't the idea; but they loaded up the
trade with our regular brand, to take the place of the "Driven Snow,"
which was shipped back to Jake by the car-lot.

Since then, when anything looks too snowy and smooth and good at the
first glance, I generally analyze it for paraffin. I've found that
this is a mighty big world for a square man and a mighty small world
for a crooked one.

I simply mention these things in a general way. I've confidence that
you're going to make good as head of the lard department, and if, when
I get home, I find that your work analyzes seventy-five per cent, as
pure as your report I shall be satisfied. In the meanwhile I shall
instruct the cashier to let you draw a hundred dollars a week, just to
show that I haven't got a case of faith without works. I reckon the
extra twenty-five per will come in mighty handy now that you're within
a month of marrying Helen.

I'm still learning how to treat an old wife, and so I can't give you
many pointers about a young one. For while I've been married as long
as I've been in business, and while I know all the curves of the great
American hog, your ma's likely to spring a new one on me tomorrow. No
man really knows anything about women except a widower, and he forgets
it when he gets ready to marry again. And no woman really knows
anything about men except a widow, and she's got to forget it before
she's willing to marry again. The one thing you can know is that, as a
general proposition, a woman is a little better than the man for whom
she cares. For when a woman's bad, there's always a man at the bottom
of it; and when a man's good, there's always a woman at the bottom of
that, too.

The fact of the matter is, that while marriages may be made in heaven,
a lot of them are lived in hell and end in South Dakota. But when a
man has picked out a good woman he holds four hearts, and he needn't
be afraid to draw cards if he's got good nerve. If he hasn't, he's got
no business to be sitting in games of chance. The best woman in the
world will begin trying out a man before she's been married to him
twenty-four hours; and unless he can smile over the top of a
four-flush and raise the ante, she's going to rake in the breeches and
keep them.

The great thing is to begin right. Marriage is a close corporation,
and unless a fellow gets the controlling interest at the start he
can't pick it up later. The partner who owns fifty-one per cent. of
the stock in any business is the boss, even if the other is allowed to
call himself president. There's only two jobs for a man in his own
house--one's boss and the other's office-boy, and a fellow naturally
falls into the one for which he's fitted.

Of course, when I speak of a fellow's being boss in his own home, I
simply mean that, in a broad way, he's going to shape the policy of
the concern. When a man goes sticking his nose into the running of the
house, he's apt to get it tweaked, and while he's busy drawing _it_
back out of danger he's going to get his leg pulled, too. You let your
wife tend to the housekeeping and you focus on earning money with
which she can keep house. Of course, in one way, it's mighty nice of a
man to help around the place, but it's been my experience that the
fellows who tend to all the small jobs at home never get anything else
to tend to at the office. In the end, it's usually cheaper to give all
your attention to your business and to hire a plumber.

You don't want to get it into your head, though, that because your
wife hasn't any office-hours she has a soft thing. A lot of men go
around sticking out their chests and wondering why their wives have so
much trouble with the help, when they are able to handle their clerks
so easy. If you really want to know, you lift two of your men out of
their revolving-chairs, and hang one over a forty-horse-power
cook-stove that's booming along under forced draft so that your dinner
won't be late, with a turkey that's gobbling for basting in one oven,
and a cake that's gone back on you in a low, underhand way in another,
and sixteen different things boiling over on top and mixing up their
smells. And you set the other at a twelve-hour stunt of making all the
beds you've mussed, and washing all the dishes you've used, and
cleaning all the dust you've kicked up, and you boss the whole while
the baby yells with colic over your arm--you just try this with two of
your men and see how long it is before there's rough-house on the
Wabash. Yet a lot of fellows come home after their wives have had a
day of this and blow around about how tired and overworked they are,
and wonder why home isn't happier. Don't you ever forget that it's a
blamed sight easier to keep cool in front of an electric fan than a
cook-stove, and that you can't subject the best temper in the world to
500 degrees Fahrenheit without warming it up a bit. And don't you add
to your wife's troubles by saying how much better you could do it, but
stand pat and thank the Lord you've got a snap.

I remember when old Doc Hoover, just after his wife died, bought a
mighty competent nigger, Aunt Tempy, to cook and look after the house
for him. She was the boss cook, you bet, and she could fry a chicken
into a bird of paradise just as easy as the Doc could sizzle a sinner
into a pretty tolerable Christian.

The old man took his religion with the bristles on, and he wouldn't
stand for any Sunday work in his house. Told Tempy to cook enough for
two days on Saturday and to serve three cold meals on Sunday.

Tempy sniffed a little, but she'd been raised well and didn't talk
back. That first Sunday Doc got his cold breakfast all right, but
before he'd fairly laid into it Tempy trotted out a cup of hot coffee.
That made the old man rage at first, but finally he allowed that,
seeing it was made, there was no special harm in taking a sup or two,
but not to let it occur again. A few minutes later he called back to
Tempy in the kitchen and asked her if she'd been sinful enough to make
two cups.

Doc's dinner was ready for him when he got back from church, and it
was real food--that is to say, hot food, a-sizzling and a-smoking from
the stove. Tempy told around afterward that the way the old man went
for her about it made her feel mighty proud and set-up over her new
master. But she just stood there dripping perspiration and good nature
until the Doc had wound up by allowing that there was only one part of
the hereafter where meals were cooked on Sunday, and that she'd surely
get a mention on the bill of fare there as dark meat, well done, if
she didn't repent, and then she blurted out:

"Law, chile, you go 'long and 'tend to yo' preaching and I'll 'tend to
my cookin'; yo' can't fight the debbil with snow-balls." And what's
more, the Doc didn't, not while Aunt Tempy was living.

There isn't any moral to this, but there's a hint in it to mind your
own business at home as well as at the office. I sail to-morrow. I'm
feeling in mighty good spirits, and I hope I'm not going to find
anything at your end of the line to give me a relapse.

Your affectionate father,


No. 5

From John Graham, at the Waldorf-Astoria, New York, to his son,
Pierrepont, at the Union Stock Yards, Chicago. The young man has
hinted vaguely of a quarrel between himself and Helen Heath, who is in
New York with her mother, and has suggested that the old man act as


NEW YORK, December 8, 189-.

_Dear Pierrepont_: I've been afraid all along that you were going to
spoil the only really sensible thing you've ever done by making some
fool break, so as soon as I got your letter I started right out to
trail down Helen and her ma. I found them hived up here in the hotel,
and Miss Helen was so sweet to your poor old pa that I saw right off
she had a stick cut for his son. Of course, I didn't let on that I
knew anything about a quarrel, but I gradually steered the
conversation around to you, and while I don't want to hurt your
feelings, I am violating no confidence when I tell you that the
mention of your name aroused about the same sort of enthusiasm that
Bill Bryan's does in Wall Street--only Helen is a lady and so she
couldn't cuss. But it wasn't the language of flowers that I saw in her
eyes. So I told her that she must make allowances for you, as you were
only a half-baked boy, and that, naturally, if she stuck a hat-pin
into your crust she was going to strike a raw streak here and there.

She sat up a little at that, and started in to tell me that while you
had said "some very, very cruel, cruel things to her, still--" But I
cut her short by allowing that, sorry as I was to own it, I was afraid
you had a streak of the brute in you, and I only hoped that you
wouldn't take it out on her after you were married.

Well, sir, the way she flared up, I thought that all the Fourth of
July fireworks had gone off at once. The air was full of
trouble--trouble in set pieces and bombs and sizzy rockets and
sixteen-ball Roman candles, and all pointed right at me. Then it came
on to rain in the usual way, and she began to assure me between
showers that you were so kind and gentle that it hurt you to work, or
to work at my horrid pig-sticking business, I forget which, and I
begged her pardon for having misjudged you so cruelly, and then the
whole thing sort of simmered off into a discussion of whether I
thought you'd rather she wore pink or blue at breakfast. So I guess
you're all right. Only you'd better write quick and apologize.

I didn't get at the facts of the quarrel, but you're in the wrong. A
fellow's always in the wrong when he quarrels with a woman, and even
if he wasn't at the start he's sure to be before he gets through. And
a man who's decided to marry can't be too quick learning to apologize
for things he didn't say and to be forgiven for things he didn't do.
When you differ with your wife, never try to reason out who's in the
wrong, because you'll find that after you've proved it to her shell
still have a lot of talk left that she hasn't used.

Of course, it isn't natural and it isn't safe for married people, and
especially young married people, not to quarrel a little, but you'll
save a heap of trouble if you make it a rule never to refuse a request
before breakfast and never to grant one after dinner. I don't know why
it is, but most women get up in the morning as cheerful as a
breakfast-food ad., while a man will snort and paw for trouble the
minute his hoofs touch the floor. Then, if you'll remember that the
longer the last word is kept the bitterer it gets, and that your wife
is bound to have it anyway, you'll cut the rest of your quarrels so
short that she'll never find out just how much meanness there is in
you. Be the silent partner at home and the thinking one at the office.
Do your loose talking in your sleep.

Of course, if you get a woman who's really fond of quarreling there
isn't any special use in keeping still, because she'll holler if you
talk back and yell if you don't. The best that you can do is to
pretend that you've got a chronic case of ear-ache, and keep your ears
stuffed with cotton. Then, like as not, she'll buy you one of these
things that you hold in your mouth so that you can hear through your

I don't believe you're going to draw anything of that sort with Helen,
but this is a mighty uncertain world, especially when you get to
betting on which way the kitten is going to jump--you can usually
guess right about the cat--and things don't always work out as

While there's no sure rule for keeping out of trouble in this world,
there's a whole set of them for getting into it.

I remember a mighty nice, careful mother who used to shudder when
slang was used in her presence. So she vowed she'd give _her_ son a
name that the boys couldn't twist into any low, vulgar nick-name. She
called him Algernon, but the kid had a pretty big nose, and the first
day he was sent to school with his long lace collar and his short
velvet pants the boys christened him Snooty, and now his parents are
the only people who know what his real name is.

After you've been married a little while you're going to find that
there are two kinds of happiness you can have--home happiness and
fashionable happiness. With the first kind you get a lot of children
and with the second a lot of dogs. While the dogs mind better and seem
more affectionate, because they kiss you with their whole face, I've
always preferred to associate with children. Then, for the first kind
of happiness you keep house for yourself, and for the second you keep
house for the neighbors.

You can buy a lot of home happiness with a mighty small salary, but
fashionable happiness always costs just a little more than you're
making. You can't keep down expenses when you've got to keep up
appearances--that is, the appearance of being something that you
ain't. You're in the fix of a dog chasing his tail--you can't make
ends meet, and if you do it'll give you such a crick in your neck that
you won't get any real satisfaction out of your gymnastics. You've got
to live on a rump-steak basis when you're alone, so that you can
appear to be on a quail-on-toast basis when you have company. And
while they're eating your quail and betting that they're cold-storage
birds, they'll be whispering to each other that the butcher told their
cook that you lived all last week on a soup-bone and two pounds of
Hamburger steak. Your wife must hog it around the house in an old
wrapper, because she's got to have two or three of those dresses that
come high on the bills and low on the shoulders, and when she wears
'em the neighbors are going to wonder how much you're short in your
accounts. And if you've been raised a shouting Methodist and been used
to hollering your satisfaction in a good hearty Glory! or a
Hallelujah! you've got to quit it and go to one of those churches
where the right answer to the question, "What is the chief end of
man?" is "Dividend," and where they think you're throwing a fit and
sick the sexton on to you if you forget yourself and whoop it up a
little when your religion gets to working.

Then, if you do have any children, you can't send them to a plain
public school to learn reading, writing, and arithmetic, because
they've got to go to a fashionable private one to learn hog-Latin,
hog-wash, and how much the neighbors are worth. Of course, the rich
children are going to say that they're pushing little kids, but
they've got to learn to push and to shove and to butt right in where
they're not wanted if they intend to herd with the real angora
billy-goats. They've got to learn how to bow low to every one in front
of them and to kick out at every one behind them. It's been my
experience that it takes a good four-year course in snubbing before
you can graduate a first-class snob.

Then, when you've sweat along at it for a dozen years or so, you'll
wake up some morning and discover that your appearances haven't
deceived any one but yourself. A man who tries that game is a good
deal like the fellow who puts on a fancy vest over a dirty shirt--he's
the only person in the world who can't see the egg-spots under his
chin. Of course, there isn't any real danger of your family's wearing
a false front while I'm alive, because I believe Helen's got too much
sense to stand for anything of the sort; but if she should, you can
expect the old man around with his megaphone to whisper the real
figures to your neighbors.

I don't care how much or how little money you make--I want you to
understand that there's only one place in the world where you can live
a happy life, and that's inside your income. A family that's living
beyond its means is simply a business that's losing money, and it's
bound to go to smash. And to keep a safe distance ahead of the sheriff
you've got to make your wife help. More men go broke through bad
management at home than at the office. And I might add that a lot of
men who are used to getting only one dollar's worth of food for a
five-dollar bill down-town, expect their wives to get five dollars'
worth of food for a one-dollar bill at the corner grocery, and to save
the change toward a pair of diamond earrings. These fellows would
plant a tin can and kick because they didn't get a case of tomatoes.

Of course, some women put their husband's salaries on their backs
instead of his ribs; but there are a heap more men who burn up their
wives' new sealskin sacques in two-bit cigars. Because a man's a good
provider it doesn't always mean that he's a good husband--it may mean
that he's a hog. And when there's a cuss in the family and it comes
down to betting which, on general principles the man always carries my
money. I make mistakes at it, but it's the only winning system I've
ever been able to discover in games of chance.

You want to end the wedding trip with a business meeting and talk to
your wife quite as frankly as you would to a man whom you'd taken into
partnership. Tell her just what your salary is and then lay it out
between you--so much for joint expenses, the house and the
housekeeping, so much for her expenses, so much for yours, and so much
to be saved. That last is the one item on which you can't afford to
economize. It's the surplus and undivided profits account of your
business, and until the concern accumulates a big one it isn't safe to
move into offices on Easy Street.

A lot of fool fathers only give their fool daughters a liberal
education in spending, and it's pretty hard to teach those women the
real facts about earning and saving, but it's got to be done unless
you want to be the fool husband of a fool wife. These girls have an
idea that men get money by going to a benevolent old party behind some
brass bars and shoving a check at him and telling him that they want
it in fifties and hundreds.

You should take home your salary in actual money for a while, and
explain that it's all you got for sweating like a dog for ten hours a
day, through six long days, and that the cashier handed it out with an
expression as if you were robbing the cash-drawer of an orphan asylum.
Make her understand that while those that have gets, when they present
a check, those that haven't gets it in the neck. Explain that the
benevolent old party is only on duty when papa's daughter has a papa
that Bradstreet rates AA, and that when papa's daughter's husband
presents a five-dollar check with a ten-cent overdraft, he's received
by a low-browed old brute who calls for the bouncer to put him out.
Tell her right at the start the worst about the butcher, and the
grocer, and the iceman, and the milkman, and the plumber, and the
gas-meter--that they want their money and that it has to come out of
that little roll of bills. Then give her enough to pay them, even if
you have to grab for your lunch from a high stool. I used to know an
old Jew who said that the man who carved was always a fool or a hog,
but you've got to learn not to divide your salary on either basis.

Make your wife pay cash. A woman never really understands money till
she's done that for a while. I've noticed that people rarely pay down
the money for foolish purchases--they charge them. And it's mighty
seldom that a woman's extravagant unless she or her husband pays the
bills by check. There's something about counting out the actual legal
tender on the spot that keeps a woman from really wanting a lot of
things which she thinks she wants.

When I married your ma, your grandpa was keeping eighteen niggers busy
seeing that the family did nothing. She'd had a liberal education,
which, so far as I've been able to find out, means teaching a woman
everything except the real business that she's going into--that is, if
she marries. But when your ma swapped the big house and the eighteen
niggers for me and an old mammy to do the rough work, she left the
breakfast-in-bed, fine-lady business behind her and started right in
to get the rest of the education that belonged to her. She did a
mighty good job, too, all except making ends meet, and they were too
elastic for her at first--sort of snapped back and left a deficit just
when she thought she had them together.

She was mighty sorry about it, but she'd never heard of any way of
getting money except asking papa for it, and she'd sort of supposed
that every one asked papa when they wanted any, and, why didn't I ask
papa? I finally made her see that I couldn't ask my papa, because I
hadn't any, and that I couldn't ask hers, because it was against the
rules of the game as I played it, and that was her first real lesson
in high finance and low finances.

I gave her the second when she came to me about the twentieth of the
month and kissed me on the ear and sent a tickly little whisper after
it to the effect that the household appropriation for the month was
exhausted and the pork-barrel and the meal-sack and the chicken-coop
were in the same enfeebled condition.

I didn't say anything at first, only looked pretty solemn, and then I
allowed that she'd have to go into the hands of a receiver. Well, sir,
the way she snuggled up to me and cried made me come pretty close to
weakening, but finally I told her that I reckoned I could manage to be
appointed by the court and hush up the scandal so the neighbors
wouldn't hear of it.

I took charge of her little books and paid over to myself her
housekeeping money each month, buying everything myself, but
explaining every move I made, until in the end I had paid her out of
debt and caught up with my salary again. Then I came home on the first
of the month, handed out her share of the money, and told her that the
receiver had been discharged by the court.

My! but she was pleased. And then she paid me out for the scare I'd
given her by making me live on side-meat and corn-bread for a month,
so she'd be sure not to get the sheriff after her again. Of course, I
had to tell her all about it in the end, and though she's never
forgotten what she learned about money during the receivership, she's
never quite forgiven the receiver.

Speaking of receiving, I notice the receipts of hogs are pretty light.
Hold your lard prices up stiff to the market. It looks to me as if
that Milwaukee crowd was getting under the February delivery.

Your affectionate father,


P.S.--You've got to square me with Helen.

No. 6

From John Graham, at the Waldorf-Astoria, New York, to his son,
Pierrepont, at the Union Stock Yards, Chicago. The young man has
written describing the magnificent wedding presents that are being
received, and hinting discreetly that it would not come amiss if he
knew what shape the old man's was going to take, as he needs the


NEW YORK, December 12, 189-.

_Dear Pierrepont_: These fellows at the branch house here have been
getting altogether too blamed refined to suit me in their ideas of
what's a fair day's work, so I'm staying over a little longer than I
had intended, in order to ring the rising bell for them and to get
them back into good Chicago habits. The manager started in to tell me
that you couldn't do any business here before nine or ten in the
morning--and I raised that boy myself!

We had a short season of something that wasn't exactly prayer, but was
just as earnest, and I think he sees the error of his ways. He seemed
to feel that just because he was getting a fair share of the business
I ought to be satisfied, but I don't want any half-sports out gunning
with me. It's the fellow that settles himself in his blind before the
ducks begin to fly who gets everything that's coming to his decoys. I
reckon we'll have to bring this man back to Chicago and give him a
beef house where he has to report at five before he can appreciate
what a soft thing it is to get down to work at eight.

I'm mighty glad to hear you're getting so many wedding presents that
you think you'll have enough to furnish your house, only you don't
want to fingermark them looking to see it a hundred-thousand-dollar
check from me ain't slipped in among them, because it ain't.

I intend to give you a present, all right, but there's a pretty wide
margin for guessing between a hundred thousand dollars and the real
figures. And you don't want to feel too glad about what you've got,
either, because you're going to find out that furnishing a house with
wedding presents is equivalent to furnishing it on the installment
plan. Along about the time you want to buy a go-cart for the twins,
you'll discover that you'll have to make Tommy's busted old
baby-carriage do, because you've got to use the money to buy a
tutti-frutti ice-cream spoon for the young widow who sent you a
doormat with "Welcome" on it. And when she gets it, the young widow
will call you that idiotic Mr. Graham, because she's going to have
sixteen other tutti-frutti ice-cream spoons, and her doctor's told her
that if she eats sweet things she'll have to go in the front door like
a piano--sideways.

Then when you get the junk sorted over and your house furnished with
it, you're going to sit down to dinner on some empty soap-boxes, with
the soup in cut-glass finger-bowls, and the fish on a hand-painted
smoking-set, and the meat on dinky, little egg-shell salad plates, with
ice-cream forks and fruit knives to eat with. You'll spend most of that
meal wondering why somebody didn't send you one of those hundred and
sixteen piece five-dollar-ninety-eight-marked-down-from-six sets of
china. While I don't mean to say that the average wedding present
carries a curse instead of a blessing, it could usually repeat a few
cuss-words if it had a retentive memory.

Speaking of wedding presents and hundred-thousand-dollar checks
naturally brings to mind my old friend Hamilton Huggins--Old Ham they
called him at the Yards--and the time he gave his son, Percival, a
million dollars.

Take him by and large, Ham was as slick as a greased pig. Before he
came along, the heft of the beef hearts went into the fertilizer
tanks, but he reasoned out that they weren't really tough, but that
their firmness was due to the fact that the meat in them was naturally
condensed, and so he started putting them out in his celebrated
condensed mincemeat at ten cents a pound. Took his pigs' livers, too,
and worked 'em up into a genuine Strasburg pâté de foie gras that made
the wild geese honk when they flew over his packing-house. Discovered
that a little chopped cheek-meat at two cents a pound was a blamed
sight healthier than chopped pork at six. Reckoned that by running
twenty-five per cent. of it into his pork sausage he saved a hundred
thousand people every year from becoming cantankerous old dyspeptics.

Ham was simply one of those fellows who not only have convolutions in
their brains, but kinks and bow-knots as well, and who can believe
that any sort of a lie is gospel truth just so it is manufactured and
labeled on their own premises. I confess I ran out a line of those
pigs' liver pâtés myself, but I didn't do it because I was such a
patriot that I couldn't stand seeing the American flag insulted by a
lot of Frenchmen getting a dollar for a ten-cent article, and that
simply because geese have smaller livers than pigs.

For all Old Ham was so shrewd at the Yards, he was one of those
fellows who begin losing their common-sense at the office door, and
who reach home doddering and blithering. Had a fool wife with the
society bug in her head, and as he had the one-of-our-leading-citizens
bug in his, they managed between them to raise a lovely warning for a
Sunday-school superintendent in their son, Percival.

Percy was mommer's angel boy with the sunny curls, who was to be
raised a gentleman and to be "shielded from the vulgar surroundings
and coarse associations of her husband's youth," and he was proud
popper's pet, whose good times weren't going to be spoiled by a
narrow-minded old brute of a father, or whose talents weren't going to
be smothered in poverty, the way the old man's had been. No, sir-ee,
Percy was going to have all the money he wanted, with the whisky
bottle always in sight on the sideboard and no limit on any game he
wanted to sit in, so that he'd grow up a perfect little gentleman and
know how to use things instead of abusing them.

I want to say right here that I've heard a good deal of talk in my
time about using whisky, and I've met a good many thousand men who
bragged when they were half loaded that they could quit at any moment,
but I've never met one of these fellows who would while the whisky
held out. It's been my experience that when a fellow begins to brag
that he can quit whenever he wants to, he's usually reached the point
where he can't.

Naturally, Percy had hardly got the pap-rag out of his mouth before he
learned to smoke cigarettes, and he could cuss like a little gentleman
before he went into long pants. Took the four-years' sporting course
at Harvard, with a postgraduate year of draw-poker and natural
history--observing the habits and the speed of the ponies in their
native haunts. Then, just to prove that he had paresis, Old Ham gave
him a million dollars outright and a partnership in his business.

Percy started in to learn the business at the top--absorbing as much
of it as he could find room for between ten and four, with two hours
out for lunch--but he never got down below the frosting. The one thing
that Old Ham wouldn't let him touch was the only thing about the
business which really interested Percy--the speculating end of it. But
everything else he did went with the old gentleman, and he was always
bragging that Percy was growing up into a big, broad-gauged merchant.
He got mighty mad with me when I told him that Percy was just a
ready-made success who was so small that he rattled round in his seat,
and that he'd better hold in his horses, as there were a good many
humps in the road ahead of him.

Old Ham was a sure-thing packer, like myself, and let speculating
alone, never going into the market unless he had the goods or knew
where he could get them; but when he did plunge into the pit, he
usually climbed out with both hands full of money and a few odd
thousand-dollar bills sticking in his hair. So when he came to me one
day and pointed out that Prime Steam Lard at eight cents for the
November delivery, and the West alive with hogs, was a crime against
the consumer, I felt inclined to agree with him, and we took the bear
side of the market together.

Somehow, after we had gone short a big line, the law of supply and
demand quit business. There were plenty of hogs out West, and all the
packers were making plenty of lard, but people seemed to be frying
everything they ate, and using lard in place of hair-oil, for the
Prime Steam moved out as fast as it was made. The market simply sucked
up our short sales and hollered for more, like a six-months shoat at
the trough. Pound away as we would, the November option moved slowly
up to 8-1/2, to 9, to 9-1/2. Then, with delivery day only six weeks
off, it jumped overnight to 10, and closed firm at 12-1/4. We stood to
lose a little over a million apiece right there, and no knowing what
the crowd that was under the market would gouge us for in the end.

As soon as 'Change closed that day, Old Ham and I got together and
gave ourselves one guess apiece to find out where we stood, and we
both guessed right--in a corner.

We had a little over a month to get together the lard to deliver on
our short sales or else pay up, but we hadn't had enough experience in
the paying-up business to feel like engaging in it. So that afternoon
we wired our agents through the West to start anything that looked
like a hog toward Chicago, and our men in the East to ship us every
tierce of Prime Steam they could lay their hands on. Then we made
ready to try out every bit of hog fat, from a grease spot up, that we
could find in the country. And all the time the price kept climbing on
us like a nigger going up a persimmon tree, till it was rising
seventeen cents.

So far the bull crowd had managed to keep their identity hidden, and
we'd been pretty modest about telling the names of the big bears,
because we weren't very proud of the way we'd been caught napping, and
because Old Ham was mighty anxious that Percy shouldn't know that his
safe old father had been using up the exception to his rule of no

It was a near thing for us, but the American hog responded nobly--and
a good many other critters as well, I suspect--and when it came on
toward delivery day we found that we had the actual lard to turn over
on our short contracts, and some to spare. But Ham and I had lost a
little fat ourselves, and we had learned a whole lot about the
iniquity of selling goods that you haven't got, even when you do it
with the benevolent intention of cheapening an article to the

We got together at his office in the Board of Trade building to play
off the finals with the bull crowd. We'd had inspectors busy all night
passing the lard which we'd gathered together and which was arriving
by boat-loads and train-loads. Then, before 'Change opened, we passed
the word around through our brokers that there wasn't any big short
interest left, and to prove it they pointed to the increase in the
stocks of Prime Steam in store and gave out the real figures on what
was still in transit. By the time the bell rang for trading on the
floor we had built the hottest sort of a fire under the market, and
thirty minutes after the opening the price of the November option had
melted down flat to twelve cents.

We gave the bulls a breathing space there, for we knew we had them all
nicely rounded up in the killing-pens, and there was no hurry. But on
toward noon, when things looked about right, we jumped twenty brokers
into the pit, all selling at once and offering in any sized lots for
which they could find takers. It was like setting off a pack of
firecrackers--biff! bang! bang! our brokers gave it to them, and when
the smoke cleared away the bits of that busted corner were scattered
all over the pit, and there was nothing left for us to do but to pick
up our profits; for we had swung a loss of millions over to the other
side of the ledger.

Just as we were sending word to our brokers to steady the market so as
to prevent a bad panic and failures, the door of the private office
flew open, and in bounced Mr. Percy, looking like a hound dog that had
lapped up a custard pie while the cook's back was turned and is
hunting for a handy bed to hide under. Had let his cigarette go
out--he wore one in his face as regularly as some fellows wear a pink
in their buttonhole--and it was drooping from his lower lip, instead
of sticking up under his nose in the old sporty, sassy way.

"Oh, gov'ner!" he cried as he slammed the door behind him; "the
market's gone to hell."

"Quite so, my son, quite so," nodded Old Ham approvingly; "it's the
bottomless pit to-day, all right, all right."

I saw it coming, but it came hard. Percy sputtered and stuttered and
swallowed it once or twice, and then it broke loose in:

"And oh! gov'ner, I'm caught--in a horrid hole--you've got to help me

"Eh! what's that!" exclaimed the old man, losing his
just-after-a-hearty-meal expression. "What's
that--caught--speculating, after what I've said to you! Don't tell me
that you're one of that bull crowd--Don't you dare do it, sir."

"Ye-es," and Percy's voice was scared back to a whisper; "yes; and
what's more, I'm the whole bull crowd--the Great Bull they've all been
talking and guessing about."

Great Scott! but I felt sick. Here we'd been, like two pebbles in a
rooster's gizzard, grinding up a lot of corn that we weren't going to
get any good of. I itched to go for that young man myself, but I knew
this was one of those holy moments between father and son when an
outsider wants to pull his tongue back into its cyclone cellar. And
when I looked at Ham, I saw that no help was needed, for the old man
was coming out of his twenty-five-years' trance over Percy. He didn't
say a word for a few minutes, just kept boring into the young man with
his eyes, and though Percy had a cheek like brass, Ham's stare went
through it as easy as a two-inch bit goes into boiler-plate. Then,
"Take that cigaroot out of your mouth," he bellered. "What d'ye mean
by coming into my office smoking cigareets?"

Percy had always smoked whatever he blamed pleased, wherever he blamed
pleased before, though Old Ham wouldn't stand for it from any one
else. But because things have been allowed to go all wrong for
twenty-five years, it's no reason why they should be allowed to go
wrong for twenty-five years and one day; and I was mighty glad to see
Old Ham rubbing the sleep out of his eyes at last.

"But, gov'ner," Percy began, throwing the cigarette away, "I really--"

"Don't you but me; I won't stand it. And don't you call me gov'ner. I
won't have your low-down street slang in my office. So you're the
great bull, eh? you bull-pup! you bull in a china shop! The great
bull-calf, you mean. Where'd you get the money for all this
cussedness? Where'd you get the money? Tell me that. Spit it
out--quick--I say."

[Illustration: "Tried to bust your poor old father"]

"Well, I've got a million dollars," Percy dribbled out.

"Had a million dollars, and it was my good money," the old man moaned.

"And an interest in the business, you know."

"Yep; I oughter. I s'pose you hocked that."

"Not exactly; but it helped me to raise a little money."

"You bet it helped you; but where'd you get the rest? Where'd you
raise the money to buy all this cash lard and ship it abroad? Where'd
you get it? You tell me that."

"Well, ah--the banks--loaned--me--a---good deal."

"On your face."

"Not exactly that--but they thought--inferred--that you were
interested with me--and without--" Percy's tongue came to a full stop
when he saw the old man's face.

"Oh! they did, eh! they did, eh!" Ham exploded. "Tried to bust your
poor old father, did you! Would like to see him begging his bread,
would you, or piking in the bucket-shops for five-dollar bills! Wasn't
satisfied with soaking him with his own million! Couldn't rest when
you'd swatted him with his own business! Wanted to bat him over the
head with his own credit! And now you come whining around--"

"But, dad--"

"Don't you dad me, dad-fetch you--don't you try any Absalom business
on me. You're caught by the hair, all right, and I'm not going to chip
in for any funeral expenses."

Right here I took a hand myself, because I was afraid Ham was going to
lose his temper, and that's one thing you can't always pick up in the
same place that you left it. So I called Ham off, and told Percy to
come back in an hour with his head broker and I'd protect his trades
in the meanwhile. Then I pointed out to the old man that we'd make a
pretty good thing on the deal, even after we'd let Percy out, as he'd
had plenty of company on the bull side that could pay up; and anyway,
that the boy was a blamed sight more important than the money, and
here was the chance to make a man of him.

We were all ready for Mister Percy when he came back, and Ham got
right down to business.

"Young man, I've decided to help you out of this hole," he began.

Percy chippered right up. "Thank you, sir," he said.

"Yes, I'm going to help you," the old man went on. "I'm going to take
all your trades off your hands and assume all your obligations at the

"Thank you, sir."

"Stop interrupting when I'm talking, I'm going to take up all your
obligations, and you're going to pay me three million dollars for
doing it. When the whole thing's cleaned up that will probably leave
me a few hundred thousand in the hole, but I'm going to do the
generous thing by you."

Percy wasn't so chipper now. "But, father," he protested, "I haven't
got three million dollars; and you know very well I can't possibly
raise any three million dollars."

"Yes, you can," said Ham. "There's the million I gave you: that makes
one. There's your interest in the business; I'll buy it back for a
million: that makes two. And I'll take your note at five per cent, for
the third million. A fair offer, Mr. Graham?"

"Very liberal, indeed, Mr. Huggins," I answered.

"But I won't have anything to live on, let alone any chance to pay you
back, if you take my interest in the business away," pleaded Percy.

"I've thought of that, too," said his father, "and I'm going to give
you a job. The experience you've had in this campaign ought to make
you worth twenty-five dollars a week to us in our option department.
Then you can board at home for five dollars a week, and pay ten more
on your note. That'll leave you ten per for clothes and extras."

Percy wriggled and twisted and tried tears. Talked a lot of flip-flap
flub-doodle, but Ham was all through with the proud-popper business,
and the young man found him as full of knots as a hickory root, and
with a hide that would turn the blade of an ax.

Percy was simply in the fix of the skunk that stood on the track and
humped up his back at the lightning express--there was nothing left of
him except a deficit and the stink he'd kicked up. And a fellow can't
dictate terms with those assets. In the end he left the room with a
ring in his nose.

After all, there was more in Percy than cussedness, for when he
finally decided that it was a case of root hog or die with him, he
turned in and rooted. It took him ten years to get back into his
father's confidence and a partnership, and he was still paying on the
million-dollar note when the old man died and left him his whole
fortune. It would have been cheaper for me in the end if I had let the
old man disinherit him, because when Percy ran that Mess Pork corner
three years ago, he caught me short a pretty good line and charged me
two dollars a barrel more than any one else to settle. Explained that
he needed the money to wipe out the unpaid balance of a million-dollar
note that he'd inherited from his father.

I simply mention Percy to show why I'm a little slow to regard members
of my family as charitable institutions that I should settle
endowments on. If there's one thing I like less than another, it's
being regarded as a human meal-ticket. What is given to you always
belongs to some one else, and if the man who gave it doesn't take it
back, some fellow who doesn't have to have things given to him is apt
to come along and run away with it. But what you earn is your own, and
apt to return your affection for it with interest--pretty good

Your affectionate father,


P.S.--I forgot to say that I had bought a house on Michigan Avenue for
Helen, but there's a provision in the deed that she can turn you out
if you don't behave.

No. 7

From John Graham, at the Union Stock Yards, Chicago, to his son,
Pierrepont, at Yemassee-on-the-Tallahassee. The young man is now in
the third quarter of the honeymoon, and the old man has decided that
it is time to bring him fluttering down to earth.


CHICAGO, January 17, 189-.

_Dear Pierrepont_: After you and Helen had gone off looking as if
you'd just bought seats on 'Change and been baptized into full
membership with all the sample bags of grain that were handy, I found
your new mother-in-law out in the dining-room, and, judging by the
plates around her, she was carrying in stock a full line of staple and
fancy groceries and delicatessen. When I struck her she was crying
into her third plate of ice cream, and complaining bitterly to the
butler because the mould had been opened so carelessly that some salt
had leaked into it.

Of course, I started right in to be sociable and to cheer her up, but
I reckon I got my society talk a little mixed--I'd been one of the
pall-bearers at Josh Burton's funeral the day before--and I told her
that she must bear up and eat a little something to keep up her
strength, and to remember that our loss was Helen's gain.

Now, I don't take much stock in all this mother-in-law talk, though
I've usually found that where there's so much smoke there's a little
fire; but I'm bound to say that Helen's ma came back at me with a
sniff and a snort, and made me feel sorry that I'd intruded on her
sacred grief. Told me that a girl of Helen's beauty and advantages had
naturally been very, very popular, and greatly sought after. Said that
she had been received in the very best society in Europe, and might
have worn strawberry leaves if she'd chosen, meaning, I've since found
out, that she might have married a duke.

[Illustration: Crying into her third plate of ice cream]

I tried to soothe the old lady, and to restore good feeling by
allowing that wearing leaves had sort of gone out of fashion with the
Garden of Eden, and that I liked Helen better in white satin, but
everything I said just seemed to enrage her the more. Told me plainly
that she'd thought, and hinted that she'd hoped, right up to last
month, that Helen was going to marry a French nobleman, the Count de
Somethingerino or other, who was crazy about her. So I answered that
we'd both had a narrow escape, because I'd been afraid for a year that
I might wake up any morning and find myself the father-in-law of a
Crystal Slipper chorus-girl. Then, as it looked as if the old lady was
going to bust a corset-string in getting out her answer, I modestly
slipped away, leaving her leaking brine and acid like a dill pickle
that's had a bite taken out of it.

Good mothers often make bad mothers-in-law, because they usually
believe that, no matter whom their daughters marry, they could have
gone farther and fared better. But it struck me that Helen's ma has
one of those retentive memories and weak mouths--the kind of memory
that never loses anything it should forget, and the kind of mouth that
can't retain a lot of language which it shouldn't lose.

Of course, you want to honor your mother-in-law, that your days may be
long in the land; but you want to honor this one from a distance, for
the same reason. Otherwise, I'm afraid you'll hear a good deal about
that French count, and how hard it is for Helen to have to associate
with a lot of mavericks from the Stock Yards, when she might be
running with blooded stock on the other side. And if you glance up
from your morning paper and sort of wonder out loud whether Corbett or
Fitzsimmons is the better man, mother-in-law will glare at you over
the top of her specs and ask if you don't think it's invidious to make
any comparisons if they're both striving, to lead earnest, Christian
lives. Then, when you come home at night, you'll be apt to find your
wife sniffing your breath when you kiss her, to see if she can catch
that queer, heavy smell which mother has noticed on it; or looking at
you slant-eyed when she feels some letters in your coat, and wondering
if what mother says is true, and if men who've once taken chorus-girls
to supper never really recover from the habit.

On general principles, it's pretty good doctrine that two's a company
and three's a crowd, except when the third is a cook. But I should say
that when the third is Helen's ma it's a mob, out looking for a chance
to make rough-house. A good cook, a good wife and a good job will make
a good home anywhere; but you add your mother-in-law, and the first
thing you know you've got two homes, and one of them is being run on

You want to remember that, beside your mother-in-law, you're a
comparative stranger to your wife. After you and Helen have lived
together for a year, you ought to be so well acquainted that she'll
begin to believe that you know almost as much as mamma; but during the
first few months of married life there are apt to be a good many tie
votes on important matters, and if mother-in-law is on the premises
she is generally going to break the tie by casting the deciding vote
with daughter. A man can often get the best of one woman, or ten men,
but not of two women, when one of the two is mother-in-law.

When a young wife starts housekeeping with her mother too handy, it's
like running a business with a new manager and keeping the old one
along to see how things go. It's not in human nature that the old
manager, even with the best disposition in the world, shouldn't knock
the new one a little, and you're Helen's new manager. When I want to
make a change, I go about it like a crab--get rid of the old shell
first, and then plunge right in and begin to do business with the new
skin. It may be a little tender and open to attack at first, but it
doesn't take long to toughen up when it finds out that the
responsibility of protecting my white meat is on it.

You start a woman with sense to making mistakes and you've started her
to learning common-sense; but you let some one else shoulder her
natural responsibilities and keep her from exercising her brain, and
it'll be fat-witted before she's forty. A lot of girls find it mighty
handy to start with mother to look after the housekeeping and later to
raise the baby; but by and by, when mamma has to quit, they don't
understand that the butcher has to be called down regularly for
leaving those heavy ends on the steak or running in the shoulder chops
on you, and that when Willie has the croup she mustn't give the little
darling a stiff hot Scotch, or try to remove the phlegm from his
throat with a button-hook.

There are a lot of women in this world who think that there's only one
side to the married relation, and that's their side. When one of them
marries, she starts right out to train her husband into kind old
Carlo, who'll go downtown for her every morning and come home every
night, fetching a snug little basketful of money in his mouth and
wagging his tail as he lays it at her feet. Then it's a pat on the
head and "Nice doggie." And he's taught to stand around evenings,
retrieving her gloves and handkerchief, and snapping up with a pleased
licking of his chops any little word that she may throw to him. But
you let him start in to have a little fun scratching and stretching
himself, or pawing her, and it's "Charge, Carlo!" and "Bad doggie!"

Of course, no man ever believes when he marries that he's going to
wind up as kind Carlo, who droops his head so that the children can
pull his ears, and who sticks up his paw so as to make it easier for
his wife to pull his leg. But it's simpler than you think.

As long as fond fathers slave and ambitious mothers sacrifice so that
foolish daughters can hide the petticoats of poverty under a silk
dress and crowd the doings of cheap society into the space in their
heads which ought to be filled with plain, useful knowledge, a lot of
girls are going to grow up with the idea that getting married means
getting rid of care and responsibility instead of assuming it.

A fellow can't play the game with a girl of this sort, because she
can't play fair. He wants her love and a wife; she wants a provider,
not a lover, and she takes him as a husband because she can't draw his
salary any other way. But she can't return his affection, because her
love is already given to another; and when husband and wife both love
the same person, and that person is the wife, it's usually a life
sentence at hard labor for the husband. If he wakes up a little and
tries to assert himself after he's been married a year or so, she
shudders and sobs until he sees what a brute he is; or if that doesn't
work, and he still pretends to have a little spirit, she goes off into
a rage and hysterics, and that usually brings him to heel again. It's
a mighty curious thing how a woman who has the appetite and instincts
of a turkey--buzzard will often make her husband believe that she's as
high-strung and delicate as a canary-bird!

It's been my experience that both men and women can fool each other
before marriage, and that women can keep right along fooling men after
marriage, but that as soon as the average man gets married he gets
found out. After a woman has lived in the same house with a man for a
year, she knows him like a good merchant knows his stock, down to any
shelf-worn and slightly damaged morals which he may be hiding behind
fresher goods in the darkest corner of his immortal soul. But even if
she's married to a fellow who's so mean that he'd take the pennies off
a dead man's eyes (not because he needed the money, but because he
hadn't the change handy for a two-cent stamp), she'll never own up to
the worst about him, even to herself, till she gets him into a divorce

I simply mention these things in a general way. Helen has shown signs
of loving you, and you've never shown any symptoms of hating yourself,
so I'm not really afraid that you're going to get the worst of it now.
So far as I can see, your mother-in-law is the only real trouble that
you have married. But don't you make the mistake of criticizing her to
Helen or of quarrelling with her. I'll attend to both for the family.
You simply want to dodge when she leads with the right, take your full
ten seconds on the floor, and come back with your left cheek turned
toward her, though, of course, you'll yank it back out of reach just
before she lands on it. There's nothing like using a little diplomacy
in this world, and, so far as women are concerned, diplomacy is
knowing when to stay away. And a diplomatist is one who lets the other
fellow think he's getting his way, while all the time _he's_ having
his own. It never does any special harm to let people have their way
with their mouths.

What you want to do is to keep mother-in-law from mixing up in your
family affairs until after she gets used to the disgrace of having a
pork-packer for a son-in-law, and Helen gets used to pulling in
harness with you. Then mother'll mellow up into a nice old lady who'll
brag about you to the neighbors. But until she gets to this point,
you've got to let her hurt your feelings without hurting hers. Don't
you ever forget that Helen's got a mother-in-law, too, and that it's
some one you think a heap of.

Whenever I hear of a fellow's being found out by his wife, it always
brings to mind the case of Dick Hodgkins, whom I knew when I was a
young fellow, back in Missouri. Dickie was one of a family of twelve,
who all ran a little small any way you sized them up, and he was the
runt. Like most of these little fellows, when he came to match up for
double harness, he picked out a six-footer, Kate Miggs. Used to call
her Honeybunch, I remember, and she called him Doodums.

Honeybunch was a good girl, but she was as strong as a six-mule team,
and a cautious man just naturally shied away from her. Was a pretty
free stepper in the mazes of the dance, and once, when she was
balancing partners with Doodums, she kicked out sort of playful to
give him a love pat and fetched him a clip with her tootsey that gave
him water on the kneepan. It ought to have been a warning to Doodums,
but he was plumb infatuated, and went around pretending that he'd been
kicked by a horse. After that the boys used to make Honeybunch mighty
mad when she came out of dark corners with Doodums, by feeling him to
see if any of his ribs were broken. Still he didn't take the hint, and
in the end she led him to the altar.

We started in to give them a lovely shivaree after the wedding,
beginning with a sort of yell which had been invented by the only
fellow in town who had been to college.

As I remember, it ran something like this:

    _Hun, hun, hunch!
    Bun, bun, bunch!
    Funny, funny!
    Honey, honey!
    Funny Honeybunch!_

But as soon as we got this off, and before we could begin on the
dishpan chorus, Honeybunch came at us with a couple of bed-slats and
cleaned us all out.

Before he had married, Doodums had been one of half a dozen half-baked
sports who drank cheap whisky and played expensive poker at the
Dutchman's; and after he'd held Honeybunch in his lap evenings for a
month, he reckoned one night that he'd drop down street and look in on
the boys. Honeybunch reckoned not, and he didn't press the matter, but
after they'd gone to bed and she'd dropped off to sleep, he slipped
into his clothes and down the waterspout to the ground. He sat up till
two o'clock at the Dutchman's, and naturally, the next morning he had
a breath like a gasoline runabout, and looked as if he'd been
attending a successful coon-hunt in the capacity of the coon.

Honeybunch smelt his breath and then she smelt a mouse, but she wasn't
much of a talker and she didn't ask any questions--of him. But she had
brother Jim make some inquiries, and a few days later, when Doodums
complained of feeling all petered out and wanted to go to bed early,
she was ready for him.

Honeybunch wasn't any invalid, and when she went to bed it was to
sleep, so she rigged up a simple little device in the way of an alarm
and dropped off peacefully, while Doodums pretended to.

When she began to snore in her upper register and to hit the high C,
he judged the coast was clear, and leaped lightly out of bed. Even
before he'd struck the floor he knew there'd been a horrible mistake
somewhere, for he felt a tug as if he'd hooked a hundred-pound
catfish. There was an awful ripping and tearing sound, something
fetched loose, and his wife was sitting up in bed blinking at him in
the moonlight. It seemed that just before she went to sleep she'd
pinned her nightgown to his with a safety pin, which wasn't such a bad
idea for a simple, trusting, little village maiden.

"Was you wantin' anything, Duckie Doodums?" she asked in a voice like
the running of sap in maple-sugar time.

"N-n-nothin' but a drink of water, Honeybunch sweetness," he stammered

[Illustration: "N-n-nothin' but a drink of water"]

"You're sure you ain't mistook in your thirst and that it ain't a
suddint cravin' for licker, and that you ain't sort of p'intin' down
the waterspout for the Dutchman's, Duckie Doodums?"

"Shorely not, Honeybunch darlin'," he finally fetched up, though he
was hardly breathing.

"Because your ma told me that you was given to somnambulasticatin' in
your sleep, and that I must keep you tied up nights or you'd wake up
some mornin' at the foot of a waterspout with your head bust open and
a lot of good licker spilt out on the grass."

"Don't you love your Doodums anymore?" was all Dickie could find to
say to this; but Honeybunch had too much on her mind to stop and swap
valentines just then.

"You wouldn't deceive your Honeybunch, would you, Duckie Doodums?"

"I shorely would not."

"Well, don't you do it, Duckie Doodums, because it would break my
heart; and if you should break my heart I'd just naturally bust your
head. Are you listenin', Doodums?"

Doodums was listening.

"Then you come back to bed and stay there."

Doodums never called his wife Honeybunch after that. Generally it was
Kate, and sometimes it was Kitty, and when she wasn't around it was
usually Kitty-cat. But he minded better than anything I ever met on
less than four legs.

Your affectionate father,


P.S.--You might tear up this letter.

No. 8

From John Graham, at the Union Stock Yards, Chicago, to his son,
Pierrepont, at Yemassee-on-the-Tallahassee. In replying to his
father's hint that it is time to turn his thoughts from love to lard,
the young man has quoted a French sentence, and the old man has been
both pained and puzzled by it.


CHICAGO, January 24, 189-.

_Dear Pierrepont_: I had to send your last letter to the fertilizer
department to find out what it was all about. We've got a clerk there
who's an Oxford graduate, and who speaks seven languages for fifteen
dollars a week, or at the rate of something more than two dollars a
language. Of course, if you're such a big thinker that your ideas rise
to the surface too fast for one language to hold 'em all, it's a
mighty nice thing to know seven; but it's been my experience that
seven spread out most men so thin that they haven't anything special
to say in any of them. These fellows forget that while life's a
journey, it isn't a palace-car trip for most of us, and that if they
hit the trail packing a lot of weight for which they haven't any
special use, they're not going to get very far. You learn men and what
men should do, and how they should do it, and then if you happen to
have any foreigners working for you, you can hire a fellow at fifteen
per to translate hustle to 'em into their own fool language. It's
always been my opinion that everybody spoke American while the tower
of Babel was building, and that the Lord let the good people keep
right on speaking it. So when you've got anything to say to me, I want
you to say it in language that will grade regular on the Chicago Board
of Trade.

Some men fail from knowing too little, but more fail from knowing too
much, and still more from knowing it all. It's a mighty good thing to
understand French if you can use it to some real purpose, but when all
the good it does a fellow is to help him understand the foreign
cuss-words in a novel, or to read a story which is so tough that it
would make the Queen's English or any other ladylike language blush,
he'd better learn hog-Latin! He can be just the same breed of yellow
dog in it, and it don't take so much time to pick it up.

Never ask a man what he knows, but what he can do. A fellow may know
everything that's happened since the Lord started the ball to rolling,
and not be able to do anything to help keep it from stopping. But when
a man can do anything, he's bound to know something worth while. Books
are all right, but dead men's brains are no good unless you mix a live
one's with them.

It isn't what a man's got in the bank, but what he's got in his head,
that makes him a great merchant. Rob a miser's safe and he's broke;
but you can't break a big merchant with a jimmy and a stick of
dynamite. The first would have to start again just where he
began--hoarding up pennies; the second would have his principal assets
intact. But accumulating knowledge or piling up money, just to have a
little more of either than the next fellow, is a fool game that no
broad-gauged man has time enough to sit in. Too much learning, like
too much money, makes most men narrow.

I simply mention these things in a general way. You know blame well
that I don't understand any French, and so when you spring it on me
you are simply showing a customer the wrong line of goods. It's like
trying to sell our Pickled Luncheon Tidbits to a fellow in the black
belt who doesn't buy anything but plain dry-salt hog in hunks and
slabs. It makes me a little nervous for fear you'll be sending out a
lot of letters to the trade some day, asking them if their stock of
Porkuss Americanuss isn't running low.

The world is full of bright men who know all the right things to say
and who say them in the wrong place. A young fellow always thinks that
if he doesn't talk he seems stupid, but it's better to shut up and
seem dull than to open up and prove yourself a fool. It's a pretty
good rule to show your best goods last.

Whenever I meet one of those fellows who tells you all he knows, and a
good deal that he doesn't know, as soon as he's introduced to you, I
always think of Bill Harkness, who kept a temporary home for
broken-down horses--though he didn't call it that--back in Missouri.
Bill would pick up an old critter whose par value was the price of one
horse-hide, and after it had been pulled and shoved into his stable,
the boys would stand around waiting for crape to be hung on the door.
But inside a week Bill would be driving down Main Street behind that
horse, yelling Whoa! at the top of his voice while it tried to kick
holes in the dashboard.

Bill had a theory that the Ten Commandments were suspended while a
horse-trade was going on, so he did most of his business with
strangers. Caught a Northerner nosing round his barn one day, and
inside of ten minutes the fellow was driving off behind what Bill
described as "the peartest piece of ginger and cayenne in Pike
County." Bill just made a free gift of it to the Yankee, he said, but
to keep the transaction from being a piece of pure charity he accepted
fifty dollars from him.

The stranger drove all over town bragging of his bargain, until some
one casually called his attention to the fact that the mare was
stone-blind. Then he hiked back to Bill's and went for him in broken
Bostonese, winding up with:

"What the skip-two-and-carry-one do you mean, you old
hold-your-breath-and-take-ten-swallows, by stealing my good money.
Didn't you know the horse was blind? Why didn't you tell me?"

"Yep," Bill bit off from his piece of store plug; "I reckon I knew the
hoss was blind, but you see the feller I bought her of"--and he paused
to settle his chaw--"asked me not to mention it. You wouldn't have me
violate a confidence as affected the repertashun of a pore dumb
critter, and her of the opposite sect, would you?" And the gallant
Bill turned scornfully away from the stranger.

There were a good many holes in Bill's methods, but he never leaked
information through them; and when I come across a fellow who doesn't
mention it when he's asked not to, I come pretty near letting him fix
his own salary. It's only a mighty big man that doesn't care whether
the people whom he meets believe that he's big; but the smaller a
fellow is, the bigger he wants to appear. He hasn't anything of his
own in his head that's of any special importance, so just to prove
that he's a trusted employee, and in the confidence of the boss, he
gives away everything he knows about the business, and, as that isn't
much, he lies a little to swell it up. It's a mighty curious thing how
some men will lie a little to impress people who are laughing at them;
will drink a little in order to sit around with people who want to get
away from them; and will even steal a little to "go into society" with
people who sneer at them.

The most important animal in the world is a turkey-cock. You let him
get among the chickens on the manure pile behind the barn, with his
wings held down stiff, his tail feathers stuck up starchy, his
wish-bone poked out perky, and gobbling for room to show his fancy
steps, and he's a mighty impressive fowl. But a small boy with a rock
and a good aim can make him run a mile. When you see a fellow swelling
up and telling his firm's secrets, holler Cash! and you'll stampede
him back to his hall bedroom.

I dwell a little on this matter of loose talking, because it breaks up
more firms and more homes than any other one thing I know. The father
of lies lives in Hell, but he spends a good deal of his time in
Chicago. You'll find him on the Board of Trade when the market's
wobbling, saying that the Russians are just about to eat up Turkey,
and that it'll take twenty million bushels of our wheat to make the
bread for the sandwich; and down in the street, asking if you knew
that the cashier of the Teenth National was leading a double life as a
single man in the suburbs and a singular life for a married man in the
city; and out on Prairie Avenue, whispering that it's too bad Mabel
smokes Turkish cigarettes, for she's got such pretty curly hair; and
how sad it is that Daisy and Dan are going to separate, "but they do
say that he--sh! sh! hush; here she comes." Yet, when you come to wash
your pan of dirt, and the lies have all been carried off down the
flume, and you've got the color of the few particles of solid,
eighteen-carat truth left, you'll find it's the Sultan who's smoking
Turkish cigarettes; and that Mabel is trying cubebs for her catarrh;
and that the cashier of the Teenth National belongs to a whist club in
the suburbs and is the superintendent of a Sunday-school in the city;
and that Dan has put Daisy up to visiting her mother to ward off a
threatened swoop down from the old lady; and that the Czar hasn't done
a blame thing except to become the father of another girl baby.

It's pretty hard to know how to treat a lie when it's about yourself.
You can't go out of your way to deny it, because that puts you on the
defensive; and sending the truth after a lie that's got a running
start is like trying to round up a stampeded herd of steers while the
scare is on them. Lies are great travellers, and welcome visitors in a
good many homes, and no questions asked. Truth travels slowly, has to
prove its identity, and then a lot of people hesitate to turn out an
agreeable stranger to make room for it.

About the only way I know to kill a lie is to live the truth. When
your credit is doubted, don't bother to deny the rumors, but discount
your bills. When you are attacked unjustly, avoid the appearance of
evil, but avoid also the appearance of being too good--that is, better
than usual. A man can't be too good, but he can appear too good.
Surmise and suspicion feed on the unusual, and when a man goes about
his business along the usual rut, they soon fade away for lack of
nourishment. First and last every fellow gets a lot of unjust
treatment in this world, but when he's as old as I am and comes to
balance his books with life and to credit himself with the mean things
which weren't true that have been said about him, and to debit himself
with the mean things which were true that people didn't get on to or
overlooked, he'll find that he's had a tolerably square deal. This
world has some pretty rotten spots on its skin, but it's sound at the

There are two ways of treating gossip about other people, and they're
both good ways. One is not to listen to it, and the other is not to
repeat it. Then there's young Buck Pudden's wife's way, and that's
better than either, when you're dealing with some of these old heifers
who browse over the range all day, stuffing themselves with gossip
about your friends, and then round up at your house to chew the cud
and slobber fake sympathy over you.

Buck wasn't a bad fellow at heart, for he had the virtue of trying to
be good, but occasionally he would walk in slippery places. Wasn't
very sure-footed, so he fell down pretty often, and when he fell from
grace it usually cracked the ice. Still, as he used to say, when he
shot at the bar mirrors during one of his periods of temporary
elevation, he paid for what he broke--cash for the mirrors and sweat
and blood for his cussedness.

Then one day Buck met the only woman in the world--a mighty nice girl
from St. Jo--and she was hesitating over falling in love with him,
till the gossips called to tell her that he was a dear, lovely fellow,
and wasn't it too bad that he had such horrid habits? That settled it,
of course, and she married him inside of thirty days, so that she
could get right down to the business of reforming him.

I don't, as a usual thing, take much stock in this marrying men to
reform them, because a man's always sure of a woman when he's married
to her, while a woman's never really afraid of losing a man till she's
got him. When you want to teach a dog new tricks, it's all right to
show him the biscuit first, but you'll usually get better results by
giving it to him after the performance. But Buck's wife fooled the
whole town and almost put the gossips out of business by keeping Buck
straight for a year. She allowed that what he'd been craving all the
time was a home and family, and that his rare-ups came from not having
'em. Then, like most reformers, she overdid it--went and had twins.
Buck thought he owned the town, of course, and that would have been
all right if he hadn't included the saloons among his real estate. Had
to take his drinks in pairs, too, and naturally, when he went home
that night and had another look at the new arrivals, he thought they
were quadruplets.

Buck straightened right out the next day, went to his wife and told
her all about it, and that was the last time he ever had to hang his
head when he talked to her, for he never took another drink. You see,
she didn't reproach him, or nag him--simply said that she was mighty
proud of the way he'd held on for a year, and that she knew she could
trust him now for another ten. Man was made a little lower than the
angels, the Good Book says, and I reckon that's right; but he was made
a good while ago, and he hasn't kept very well. Yet there are a heap
of women in this world who are still right in the seraphim class. When
your conscience doesn't tell you what to do in a matter of right and
wrong, ask your wife.

Naturally, the story of Buck's final celebration came to the gossips
like a thousand-barrel gusher to a drilling outfit that's been finding
dusters, and they went one at a time to tell Mrs. Buck all the
dreadful details and how sorry they were for her. She would just sit
and listen till they'd run off the story, and hemstitched it, and
embroidered it, and stuck fancy rosettes all over it. Then she'd smile
one of those sweet baby smiles that women give just before the
hair-pulling begins, and say:

"Law, Mrs. Wiggleford"--the deacon's wife was the one who was
condoling with her at the moment--"people will talk about the best of
us. Seems as if no one is safe nowadays. Why, they lie about the
deacon, even. I know it ain't true, and you know it ain't true, but
only yesterday somebody was trying to tell me that it was right
strange how a professor and a deacon got that color in his beak, and
while it might be inflammatory veins or whatever he claimed it was,
she reckoned that, if he'd let some one else tend the alcohol barrel,
he wouldn't have to charge up so much of his stock to leakage and

Of course, Mrs. Buck had made up the story about the deacon, because
every one knew that he was too mean to drink anything that he could
sell, but by the time Buck's wife had finished, Mrs. Wiggleford was so
busy explaining and defending him that she hadn't any further interest
in Buck's case. And each one that called was sent away with a special
piece of home scandal which Mrs. Buck had invented to keep her mind
from dwelling on her neighbor's troubles.

She followed up her system, too, and in the end it got so that women
would waste good gossip before they'd go to her with it. For if the
pastor's wife would tell her "as a true friend" that the report that
she had gone to the theatre in St. Louis was causing a scandal, she'd
thank her for being so sweetly thoughtful, and ask if nothing was
sacred enough to be spared by the tongue of slander, though she, for
one, didn't believe that there was anything in the malicious talk that
the Doc was cribbing those powerful Sunday evening discourses from a
volume of Beecher's sermons. And when they'd press her for the name of
her informant, she'd say: "No, it was a lie; she knew it was a lie,
and no one who sat under the dear pastor would believe it; and they
mustn't dignify it by noticing it." As a matter of fact, no one who
sat under Doc Pottle would have believed it, for his sermons weren't
good enough to have been cribbed; and if Beecher could have heard one
of them he would have excommunicated him.

Buck's wife knew how to show goods. When Buck himself had used up all
the cuss-words in Missouri on his conduct, she had sense enough to
know that his stock of trouble was full, and that if she wanted to get
a hold on him she mustn't show him stripes, but something in cheerful
checks. Yet when the trouble-hunters looked her up, she had a full
line of samples of their favorite commodity to show them.

I simply mention these things in a general way. Seeing would naturally
be believing, if cross-eyed people were the only ones who saw crooked,
and hearing will be believing when deaf people are the only ones who
don't hear straight. It's a pretty safe rule, when you hear a heavy
yarn about any one, to allow a fair amount for tare, and then to
verify your weights.

Your affectionate father,


P.S.--I think you'd better look in at a few of the branch houses on
your way home and see if you can't make expenses.

No. 9

From John Graham, at the Union Stock Yards, Chicago, to his son,
Pierrepont, care of Graham & Company's brokers, Atlanta. Following the
old man's suggestion, the young man has rounded out the honeymoon into
a harvest moon, and is sending in some very satisfactory orders to the


CHICAGO, February 1, 189-.

_Dear Pierrepont_: Judging from the way the orders are coming in, I
reckon that you must be lavishing a little of your surplus ardor on
the trade. So long as you are in such good practise, and can look a
customer in the eye and make him believe that he's the only buyer you
ever really loved, you'd better not hurry home too fast. I reckon
Helen won't miss you for a few hours every day, but even if she should
it's a mighty nice thing to be missed, and she's right there where you
can tell her every night that you love her just the same; while the
only way in which you can express your unchanged affection for the
house is by sending us lots of orders. If you do that you needn't
bother to write and send us lots of love.

The average buyer is a good deal like the heiress to a million dollars
who's been on the market for eight or ten years, not because there's
no demand for her, but because there's too much. Most girls whose
capital of good looks is only moderate, marry, and marry young,
because they're like a fellow on 'Change who's scalping the
market--not inclined to take chances, and always ready to make a quick
turn. Old maids are usually the girls who were so homely that they
never had an offer, or so good-looking that they carried their
matrimonial corner from one option to another till the new crop came
along and bust them. But a girl with a million dollars isn't a
speculative venture. She can advertise for sealed proposals on her
fiftieth birthday and be oversubscribed like an issue of 10 per cent.
Government bonds. There's no closed season on heiresses, and,
naturally, a bird that can't stick its head up without getting shot at
becomes a pretty wary old fowl.

A buyer is like your heiress--he always has a lot of nice young
drummers flirting and fooling around him, but mighty few of them are
so much in earnest that they can convince him that their only chance
for happiness lies in securing his particular order. But you let one
of these dead-in-earnest boys happen along, and the first thing you
know he's persuaded the heiress that he loves her for herself alone or
has eloped from town with an order for a car-load of lard.

A lot of young men start off in business with an idea that they must
arm themselves with the same sort of weapons that their competitors
carry. There's nothing in it. Fighting the devil with fire is all
foolishness, because that's the one weapon with which he's more expert
than any one else. I usually find that it's pretty good policy to
oppose suspicion with candor, foxiness with openness, indifference
with earnestness. When you deal squarely with a crooked man you scare
him to death, because he thinks you're springing some new and
extra-deep game on him.

A fellow who's subject to cramps and chills has no business in the
water, but if you start to go in swimming, go in all over. Don't be
one of those chappies who prance along the beach, shivering and
showing their skinny shapes, and then dabble their feet in the surf,
pour a little sand in their hair, and think they've had a bath.

You mustn't forget, though, that it's just as important to know when
to come out as when to dive in. I mention this because yesterday some
one who'd run across you at Yemassee told me that you and Helen were
exchanging the grip of the third degree under the breakfast-table, and
trying to eat your eggs with your left hands. Of course, this is all
very right and proper if you can keep it up, but I've known a good
many men who would kiss their wives on the honeymoon between swallows
of coffee and look like an ass a year later when she chirruped out at
the breakfast-table, "Do you love me, darling?" I'm just a little
afraid that you're one of those fellows who wants to hold his wife in
his lap during the first six months of his married life, and who, when
she asks him at the end of a year if he loves her, answers "Sure." I
may be wrong about this, but I've noticed a tendency on your part to
slop over a little, and a pail that slops over soon empties itself.

It's been my experience that most women try to prove their love by
talking about it, and most men by spending money. But when a
pocketbook or a mouth is opened too often nothing but trouble is left
in it.

Don't forget the little attentions due your wife, but don't hurt the
grocer's feelings or treat the milkman with silent contempt in order
to give them to her. You can hock your overcoat before marriage to buy
violets for a girl, but when she has the run of your wardrobe you
can't slap your chest and explain that you stopped wearing it because
you're so warm-blooded. A sensible woman soon begins to understand
that affection can be expressed in porterhouse steaks as well as in
American beauties. But when Charlie, on twenty-five a week, marries a
fool, she pouts and says that he doesn't love her just the same
because he takes her to the theatre now in the street-cars, instead of
in a carriage, as he used to in those happy days before they were
married. As a matter of fact, this doesn't show that she's losing
Charlie's love, but that he's getting his senses back. It's been my
experience that no man can really attend to business properly when
he's chased to the office every morning by a crowd of infuriated
florists and livery-men.

Of course, after a girl has spent a year of evenings listening to a
fellow tell her that his great ambition is to make her life one grand,
sweet song, it jars her to find the orchestra grunting and snoring
over the sporting extra some night along six months after the
ceremony. She stays awake and cries a little over this, so when he
sees her across the liver and bacon at breakfast, he forgets that he's
never told her before that she could look like anything but an angel,
and asks, "Gee, Mame, what makes your nose so red?" And that's the
place where a young couple begins to adjust itself to life as it's
lived on Michigan Avenue instead of in the story-books.

There's no rule for getting through the next six months without going
back to mamma, except for the Brute to be as kind as he knows how to
be and the Angel as forgiving as she can be. But at the end of that
time a boy and girl with the right kind of stuff in them have been
graduated into a man and a woman. It's only calf love that's always
bellering about it. When love is full grown it has few words, and
sometimes it growls them out.

I remember, when I was a youngster, hearing old Mrs. Hoover tell of
the trip she took with the Doc just after they were married. Even as a
young fellow the Doc was a great exhorter. Knew more Scripture when he
was sixteen than the presiding elder. Couldn't open his mouth without
losing a verse. Would lose a chapter when he yawned.

Well, when Doc was about twenty-five, he fell in love with a mighty
sweet young girl, Leila Hardin, who every one said was too frivolous
for him. But the Doc only answered that it was his duty to marry her
to bring her under Christian influences, and they set off down the
river to New Orleans on their honeymoon.

Mrs. Hoover used to say that he hardly spoke to her on the trip. Sat
around in a daze, scowling and rolling his eyes, or charged up and
down the deck, swinging his arms and muttering to himself. Scared her
half to death, and she spent all her time crying when he wasn't
around. Thought he didn't love her any more, and it wasn't till the
first Sunday after she got home that she discovered what had ailed
him. Seemed that in the exaltation produced by his happiness at having
got her, he'd been composing a masterpiece, his famous sermon on the
Horrors of Hell, that scared half of Pike County into the fold, and
popularized dominoes with penny points as a substitute for
dollar-limit draw-poker among those whom it didn't quite fetch.

Curious old cuss, the Doc. Found his wife played the piano pretty
medium rotten, so when he wanted to work himself into a rage about
something he'd sit down in the parlor and make her pound out "The
Maiden's Prayer."

It's a mighty lucky thing that the Lord, and not the neighbors, makes
the matches, because Doc's friends would have married him to Deacon
Dody's daughter, who was so chuck full of good works that there was no
room inside her for a heart. She afterward eloped with a St. Louis
drummer, and before he divorced her she'd become the best lady poker
player in the State of Missouri. But with Leila and the Doc it was a
case of give-and-take from the start--that is, as is usual with a good
many married folks, she'd give and he'd take. There never was a better
minister's wife, and when you've said that you've said the last word
about good wives and begun talking about martyrs, because after a
minister's wife has pleased her husband she's got to please the rest
of the church.

I simply mention Doc's honeymoon in passing as an example of the fact
that two people can start out in life without anything in common
apparently, except a desire to make each other happy, and, with that
as a platform to meet on, keep coming closer and closer together until
they find that they have everything in common. It isn't always the
case, of course, but then it's happened pretty often that before I
entered the room where an engaged couple were sitting I've had to
cough or whistle to give them a chance to break away; and that after
they were married I've had to keep right on coughing or whistling for
the same couple to give them time to stop quarreling.

There are mighty few young people who go into marriage with any real
idea of what it means. They get their notion of it from among the
clouds where they live while they are engaged, and, naturally, about
all they find up there is wind and moonshine; or from novels, which
always end just before the real trouble begins, or if they keep on,
leave out the chapters that tell how the husband finds the rent and
the wife the hired girls. But if there's one thing in the world about
which it's possible to get all the facts, it's matrimony. Part of them
are right in the house where you were born, and the neighbors have the

It's been my experience that you've got to have leisure to be unhappy.
Half the troubles in this world are imaginary, and it takes time to
think them up. But it's these oftener than the real troubles that
break a young husband's back or a young wife's heart.

A few men and more women can be happy idle when they're single, but
once you marry them to each other they've got to find work or they'll
find trouble. Everybody's got to raise something in this world, and
unless people raise a job, or crops, or children, they'll raise Cain.
You can ride three miles on the trolley car to the Stock Yards every
morning and find happiness at the end of the trip, but you may chase
it all over the world in a steam yacht without catching up with it. A
woman can find fun from the basement to the nursery of her own house,
but give her a license to gad the streets and a bunch of matinée
tickets and shell find discontent. There's always an idle woman or an
idle man in every divorce case. When the man earns the bread in the
sweat of his brow, it's right that the woman should perspire a little
baking it.

There are two kinds of discontent in this world--the discontent that
works and the discontent that wrings its hands. The first gets what it
wants, and the second loses what it has. There's no cure for the first
but success; and there's no cure at all for the second, especially if
a woman has it; for she doesn't know what she wants, and so you can't
give it to her.

Happiness is like salvation--a state of grace that makes you enjoy the
good things you've got and keep reaching out, for better ones in the
hereafter. And home isn't what's around you, but what's inside you.

I had a pretty good illustration of this whole thing some years ago
when a foolish old uncle died and left my cellar boss, Mike
Shaughnessy, a million dollars. I didn't bother about it particularly,
for he'd always been a pretty level-headed old Mick, and I supposed
that he'd put the money in pickle and keep right along at his job. But
one morning, when he came rooting and grunting into my office in a
sort of casual way, trying to keep a plug hat from falling off the
back of his head, I knew that he was going to fly the track. Started
in to tell me that his extensive property interests demanded all his
attention now, but I cut it short with:

"Mike, you've been a blamed good cellar boss, but you're going to make
a blamed bad millionaire. Think it over."

Well, sir, I'm hanged if that fellow, whom I'd raised from the time he
was old enough to poke a barrel along the runways with a pointed
stick, didn't blow a cloud of cigar smoke in my face to show that he
was just as big as I was, and start tight in to regularly cuss me out.
But he didn't get very far. I simply looked at Mm, and said sudden,
"Git, you Mick," and he wilted back out of the office just as easy as
if he hadn't had ten cents.

I heard of him off and on for the next year, putting up a house on
Michigan Avenue, buying hand-painted pictures by the square foot and
paying for them by the square inch--for his wife had decided that they
must occupy their proper station in society--and generally building up
a mighty high rating as a good thing.

As you know, I keep a pretty close eye on the packing house, but on
account of my rheumatism I don't often go through the cellars. But
along about this time we began to get so many complaints about our dry
salt meats that I decided to have a little peek at our stock for
myself, and check up the new cellar boss. I made for him and his gang
first, and I was mightily pleased, as I came upon him without his
seeing me, to notice how he was handling his men. No hollering, or
yelling, or cussing, but every word counting and making somebody hop.
I was right upon him before I discovered that it wasn't the new
foreman, but Mike, who was bossing the gang. He half ducked behind a
pile of Extra Short Clears when he saw me, but turned, when he found
that it was too late, and faced me bold as brass.

"A nice state you've let things get in while I was away, sorr," he

It was Mike, the cellar boss, who knew his job, and no longer Mr.
Shaughnessy, the millionaire, who didn't know his, that was talking,
so I wasn't too inquisitive, and only nodded.

"Small wonder," he went on, "that crime's incr'asing an' th' cotton
crop's decreasing in the black belt, when you're sendin' such mate to
the poor naygurs. Why don't you git a cellar man that's been raised
with the hogs, an' 'll treat 'em right when they're dead?"

"I'm looking for one," says I.

"I know a likely lad for you," says he.

"Report to the superintendent," says I; and Mike's been with me ever
since. I found out when I looked into it that for a week back he'd
been paying the new cellar boss ten dollars a day to lay around
outside while he bossed his job.

Mike sold his old masters to a saloon-keeper and moved back to
Packingtown, where he invested all his money in houses, from which he
got a heap of satisfaction, because, as his tenants were compatriots,
he had plenty of excitement collecting his rents. Like most people who
fall into fortunes suddenly, he had bought a lot of things, not
because he needed them or really wanted them, but because poorer
people couldn't have them. Yet in the end he had sense enough to see
that happiness can't be inherited, but that it must be earned.

Being a millionaire is a trade like a doctor's--you must work up
through every grade of earning, saving, spending and giving, or you're
no more fit to be trusted with a fortune than a quack with human life.
For there's no trade in the world, except the doctor's, on which the
lives and the happiness of so many people depend as the millionaire's;
and I might add that there's no other in which there's so much

Your affectionate father,


No. 10

From John Graham, at Mount Clematis, Michigan, to his son, Pierrepont,
at the Union Stock Yards, Chicago. The young man has done famously
during the first year of his married life, and the old man has decided
to give him a more important position.


MOUNT CLEMATIS, January 1, 1900.

_Dear Pierrepont_: Since I got here, my rheumatism has been so bad
mornings that the attendant who helps me dress has had to pull me over
to the edge of the bed by the seat of my pajamas. If they ever give
way, I reckon I'll have to stay in bed all day. As near as I can
figure out from what the doctor says, the worse you feel during the
first few days you're taking the baths, the better you really are. I
suppose that when a fellow dies on their hands they call it a cure.

I'm by the worst of it for to-day, though, because I'm downstairs.
Just now the laugh is on an old boy with benevolent side-whiskers,
who's sliding down the balusters, and a fat old party, who looks like
a bishop, that's bumping his way down with his feet sticking out
straight in front of him. Shy away from these things that end in an
ism, my boy. From skepticism to rheumatism they've an ache or a pain
in every blamed joint.

Still, I don't want to talk about my troubles, but about your own.
Barton leaves us on the first, and so we shall need a new assistant
general manager for the business. It's a ten-thousand-dollar job, and
a nine-thousand-nine-hundred-and-ninety-nine-dollar man can't fill it.
From the way in which you've handled your department during the past
year, I'm inclined to think that you can deliver that last dollar's
worth of value. Anyway, I'm going to try you, and you've got to make
good, because if you should fail it would be a reflection on my
judgment as a merchant and a blow to my pride as a father. I could
bear up under either, but the combination would make me feel like
firing you.

As a matter of fact, I can't make you general manager; all I can do is
to give you the title of general manager. And a title is like a suit
of clothes--it must fit the man who tries to wear it. I can clothe you
in a little brief authority, as your old college friend, Shakespeare,
puts it, but I can't keep people from laughing at you when they see
you swelling around in your high-water pants.

It's no use demanding respect in this world; you've got to command it.
There's old Jim Wharton, who, for acting as a fourth-class consul of a
fifth-class king, was decorated with the order of the garter or the
suspender or the eagle of the sixth class--the kind these kings give
to the cook when he gets just the right flavor of garlic in a fancy
sauce. Jim never did a blame thing in his life except to inherit a
million dollars from a better man, who happened to come over on the
Cunard Line instead of the Mayflower, but he'd swell around in our
best society, with that ribbon on his shirt-front, thinking that he
looked like Prince Rupert by Louis the Fourteenth and Lady Clara Vere
de Vere, instead of the fourth assistant to the floor manager at the
Plumbers' ball. But you take Tom Lipton, who was swelled up into Sir
Thomas because he discovered how to pack a genuine Yorkshire ham in
Chicago, and a handle looks as natural on him as on a lard pail.

A man is a good deal like a horse--he knows the touch of a master, and
no matter how lightly the reins are held over him, he understands that
he must behave. But let a fellow who isn't quite sure of himself begin
sawing on a horse's mouth, and the first thing you know the critter
bucks and throws him.

You've only one pair of eyes with which to watch 10,000 men, so unless
they're open all the time you'll be apt to overlook something here and
there; but you'll have 10,000 pairs of eyes watching you all the time,
and they won't overlook anything. You mustn't be known as an easy
boss, or as a hard boss, but as a just boss. Of course, some just men
lean backward toward severity, and some stoop down toward mercy. Both
kinds may make good bosses, but I've usually found that when you hold
the whip hand it's a great thing not to use the whip.

It looks like a pretty large contract to know what 10,000 men are
doing, but, as a matter of fact, there's nothing impossible about it.
In the first place, you don't need to bother very much about the
things that are going all right, except to try to make them go a
little better; but you want to spend your time smelling out the things
that are going all wrong and laboring with them till you've persuaded
them to lead a better life. For this reason, one of the most important
duties of your job is to keep track of everything that's out of the
usual. If anything unusually good happens, there's an unusually good
man behind it, and he ought to be earmarked for promotion; and if
anything unusually bad happens, there's apt to be an unusually bad man
behind that, and he's a candidate for a job with another house.

A good many of these things which it's important for you to know
happen a little before beginning and a little after quitting time; and
so the real reason why the name of the boss doesn't appear on the
time-sheet is not because he's a bigger man than any one else in the
place, but because there shouldn't be any one around to take his time
when he gets down and when he leaves.

You can tell a whole lot about your men from the way in which they
come in and the way in which they go home; but because a fellow is in
the office early, it doesn't always mean that he's panting to begin
work; it may mean that he's been out all night. And when you see a
fellow poring over his books after the others have quit, it doesn't
always follow that he's so wrapped up in his work that he can't tear
himself away from it. It may mean that during business hours he had
his head full of horse-racing instead of figures, and that he's
staying to chase up the thirty cents which he's out in his balance.
You want to find out which.

The extra-poor men and the extra-good men always stick their heads up
above the dead-level of good-enough men; the first to holler for help,
and the second to get an extra reach. And when your attention is
attracted to one of these men, follow him up and find out just what
sort of soil and fertilizer he needs to grow fastest. It isn't enough
to pick likely stock; you've got to plant it where the conditions are
right to develop its particular possibilities. A fellow who's got the
making of a five-thousand-dollar office man in him may not sell enough
lard to fry a half-portion of small potatoes if you put him on the
road. Praise judiciously given may act on one man like an application
of our bone-meal to a fruit tree, and bring out all the pippins that
are in the wood; while in the other it may simply result in his going
all to top.

You mustn't depend too much on the judgment of department heads and
foremen when picking men for promotion. Take their selection if he is
the best man, but know for yourself that he is the best man.

Sometimes a foreman will play a favorite, and, as any fellow who's
been to the races knows, favorites ain't always winners. And
sometimes, though not often, he'll try to hold back a good man through
jealousy. When I see symptoms of a foreman's being jealous of a man
under him, that fellow doesn't need any further recommendation to me.
A man's never jealous of inferiority.

It's a mighty valuable asset for a boss, when a vacancy occurs in a
department, to be able to go to its head when he recommends Bill Smith
for the position, and show that he knows all about Bill Smith from his
number-twelve socks up to his six-and-a-quarter hat, and to ask:
"What's the matter with Tom Jones for the job?" When you refuse to
take something just as good in this world, you'll usually find that
the next time you call the druggist has the original Snicker's
Sassafras Sneezer in stock.

It's mighty seldom, though, that a really good man will complain to
you that he's being held down, or that his superior is jealous of him.
It's been my experience that it's only a mighty small head that so
small an idea as this can fill. When a fellow has it, he's a good deal
like one of those girls with the fatal gift of beauty in her
imagination, instead of her face--always believing that the boys don't
dance with her because the other girls tell them spiteful things about

Besides always having a man in mind for any vacancy that may occur,
you want to make sure that there are two men in the office who
understand the work of each position in it. Every business should be
bigger than any one man. If it isn't, there's a weak spot in it that
will kill it in the end. And every job needs an understudy. Sooner or
later the star is bound to fall sick, or get the sulks or the swelled
head, and then, if there's no one in the wings who knows her lines,
the gallery will rotten-egg the show and howl for its money back.
Besides, it has a mighty chastening and stimulating effect on the star
to know that if she balks there's a sweet young thing in reserve who's
able and eager to go the distance.

Of course, I don't mean by this that you want to play one man against
another or try to minimize to a good man his importance to the house.
On the contrary, you want to dwell on the importance of all positions,
from that of office-boy up, and make every man feel that he is a vital
part of the machinery of the business, without letting him forget that
there's a spare part lying around handy, and that if he breaks or goes
wrong it can be fitted right in and the machine kept running. It's
good human nature to want to feel that something's going to bust when
you quit, but it's bad management if things are fixed so that anything

In hiring new men, you want to depend almost altogether on your own
eyes and your own judgment. Remember that when a man's asking for a
job he's not showing you himself, but the man whom he wants you to
hire. For that reason, I never take on an applicant after a first
interview. I ask him to call again. The second time he may not be made
up so well, and he may have forgotten some of his lines. In any event,
hell feel that he knows you a little better, and so act a little
easier and talk a little freer.

Very often a man whom you didn't like on his first appearance will
please you better on his second, because a lot of people always appear
at their worst when they're trying to appear at their best. And again,
when you catch a fellow off guard who seemed all right the first time,
you may find that he deaconed himself for your benefit, and that all
the big strawberries were on top. Don't attach too much importance to
the things which an applicant has a chance to do with deliberation, or
pay too much attention to his nicely prepared and memorized speech
about himself. Watch the little things which he does unconsciously,
and put unexpected questions which demand quick answers.

If he's been working for Dick Saunders, it's of small importance what
Dick says of him in his letter of recommendation. If you want Dick's
real opinion, get it in some other way than in an open note, of which
the subject's the bearer. As a matter of fact, Dick's opinion
shouldn't carry too much weight, except on a question of honesty,
because if Dick let him go, he naturally doesn't think a great deal of
him; and if the man resigned voluntarily, Dick is apt to feel a little
sore about it. But your applicant's opinion of Dick Saunders is of
very great importance to you. A good man never talks about a real
grievance against an old employer to a new one; a poor man always
pours out an imaginary grievance to any one who will listen. You
needn't cheer in this world when you don't like the show, but silence
is louder than a hiss.

Hire city men and country men; men who wear grandpa's Sunday suit;
thread-bare men and men dressed in those special four-ninety-eight
bargains; but don't hire dirty men. Time and soap will cure dirty
boys, but a full-grown man who shrinks from the use of water
externally is as hard to cure as one who avoids its use internally.
It's a mighty curious thing that you can tell a man his morals are bad
and he needs to get religion, and hell still remain your friend; but
that if you tell him his linen's dirty and he needs to take a bath,
you've made a mortal enemy.

Give the preference to the lean men and the middleweights. The world
is full of smart and rich fat men, but most of them got their
smartness and their riches before they got their fat.

Always appoint an hour at which you'll see a man, and if he's late a
minute don't bother with him. A fellow who can be late when his own
interests are at stake is pretty sure to be when yours are. Have a
scribbling pad and some good letter paper on a desk, and ask the
applicant to write his name and address. A careful and economical man
will use the pad, but a careless and wasteful fellow will reach for
the best thing in sight, regardless of the use to which it's to be

Look in a man's eyes for honesty; around his mouth for weakness; at
his chin for strength; at his hands for temperament; at his nails for
cleanliness. His tongue will tell you his experience, and under the
questioning of a shrewd employer prove or disprove its statements as
it runs along. Always remember, in the case of an applicant from
another city, that when a man says he doesn't like the town in which
he's been working it's usually because he didn't do very well there.

You want to be just as careful about hiring boys as men. A lot of
employers go on the theory that the only important thing about a boy
is his legs, and if they're both fitted on and limber they hire him.
As a matter of fact, a boy is like a stick of dynamite, small and
compact, but as full of possibilities of trouble as a car-load of
gunpowder. One bad boy in a Sunday-school picnic can turn it into a
rough-house outfit for looting orchards, and one little cuss in your
office can demoralize your kids faster than you can fire them.

I remember one boy who organized a secret society, called the
Mysterious League. It held meetings in our big vault, which they
called the donjon keep, and, naturally, when one of them was going on,
boys were scarcer around the office than hen's teeth. The object of
the league, as I shook it out of the head leaguer by the ear, was to
catch the head bookkeeper, whom the boys didn't like, and whom they
called the black caitiff, alone in the vault some night while he was
putting away his books, slam the door, and turn the combination on
him. Tucked away in a corner of the vault, they had a message for him,
written in red ink, on a sheep's skull, telling him to tremble, that
he was in the hands of the Mysterious League, and that he would be led
at midnight to the torture chamber. I learned afterward that when the
bookkeeper had reached in his desk to get a pen, a few days before, he
had pulled out a cold, clammy, pickled pig's foot, on which was
printed: "Beware! first you will lose a leg!"

I simply mention the Mysterious League in passing. Of course, boys
will be boys, but you mustn't let them be too cussed boyish during
business hours. A slow boy can waste a lot of the time of a
five-thousand-dollar man whose bell he's answering; and a careless boy
can mislay a letter or drop a paper that will ball up the work of the
most careful man in the office.

It's really harder to tell what you're getting when you hire a boy
than when you hire a man. I found that out for keeps a few years ago,
when I took on the Angel Child. He was the son of rich parents, who
weren't quite rich enough to buy chips and sit in the game of the
no-limit millionaires. So they went in for what they called the simple
life. I want to say right here that I'm a great believer in the simple
life, but some people are so blamed simple about it that they're
idiotic. The world is full of rich people who talk about leading the
simple life when they mean the stingy life. They are the kind that are
always giving poorer people a chance to chip in an even share with
them toward defraying the expenses of the charities and the
entertainments which they get up. They call it "affording those in
humbler walks an opportunity to keep up their self-respect," but what
they really mean is that it helps them to keep down their own

The Angel Child's mother was one of these women who talk to people
that aren't quite so rich as she in the tone of one who's commending a
worthy charity; but who hangs on the words of a richer woman like a
dog that hopes a piece of meat is going to be thrown at it, and yet
isn't quite sure that it won't get a kick instead. As a side-line, she
made a specialty of trying to uplift the masses, and her husband
furnished the raw material for the uplifting, as he paid his men less
and worked 'em harder than any one else in Chicago.

Well, one day this woman came into my office, bringing her only son
with her. He was a solemn little cuss, but I didn't get much chance to
size him up, because his ma started right in to explain how he'd been
raised--no whipping, no--but I cut it short there, and asked her to
get down to brass tacks, as I was very busy trying to see that
70,000,000 people were supplied with their daily pork. So she
explained that she wanted me to give the Angel Child a job in my
office during his summer vacation, so that he could see how the other
half lived, and at the same time begin to learn self-reliance.

I was just about to refuse, when it occurred to me that if he had
never really had a first-class whipping it was a pity not to put him
in the way of getting one. So I took him by the hand and led him to
headquarters for whippings, the bench in the shipping department,
where a pretty scrappy lot of boys were employed to run errands, and
told the boss to take him on.

I wasn't out of hearing before one kid said, "I choose him," and
another, whom they called the Breakfast-Food Baby, because he was so
strong, answered, "Naw; I seen him first."

I dismissed the matter from my mind then, but a few days later, when I
was walking through the shipping department, it occurred to me that I
might as well view the remains of the Angel Child, if they hadn't been
removed to his late residence. I found him sitting in the middle of
the bench, looking a little sad and lonesome, but all there. The other
boys seemed to be giving him plenty of room, and the Breakfast-Food
Baby, with both eyes blacked, had edged along to the end of the bench.
I beckoned to the Angel Child to follow me to my private office.

"What does this mean, young man?" I asked, when he got there. "Have
you been fighting?"

"Yes, sir," he answered, sort of brightening up.

"Which one?"

"Michael and Patrick the first day, sir."

"Did you lick 'em?"

"I had rather the better of it," he answered, as precise as a slice of
cold-boiled Boston.

"And the second?"

"Why, the rest of 'em, sir."

"Including the Breakfast-Food--er, James?"

He nodded. "James is very strong, sir, but he lacks science. He drew
back as if he had a year to hit me, and just as he got good and ready
to strike, I pasted him one in the snoot, and followed that up with a
left jab in the eye."

I hadn't counted on boxing lessons being on the bill of fare of the
simple life, and it raised my hopes still further to see from that
last sentence how we had grafted a little Union Stock Yards on his
Back Bay Boston. In fact, my heart quite warmed to the lad; but I
looked at him pretty severely, and only said:

"Mark you, young man, we don't allow any fighting around here; and if
you can't get along without quarrelling with the boys in the shipping
department, I'll have to bring you into these offices, where I can
have an eye on your conduct."

There were two or three boys in the main office who were spoiling for
a thrashing, and I reckoned that the Angel Child would attend to their
cases; and he did. He was cock of the walk in a week, and at the same
time one of the bulliest, daisiest, most efficient, most respectful
boys that ever worked for me. He put a little polish on the other
kids, and they took a little of the extra shine off him. He's in
Harvard now, but when he gets out there's a job waiting for him, if
he'll take it.

That was a clear case of catching an angel on the fly, or of
entertaining one unawares, as the boy would have put it, and it taught
me not to consider my prejudices or his parents in hiring a boy, but
to focus my attention on the boy himself, when he was the one who
would have to run the errands. The simple life was a pose and pretense
with the Angel Child's parents, and so they were only a new brand of
snob; but the kid had been caught young and had taken it all in
earnest; and so he was a new breed of boy, and a better one than I'd
ever hired before.

Your affectionate father,


No. 11

From John Graham, at Mount Clematis, Michigan, to his son, Pierrepont,
at the Union Stock Yards, Chicago. The young man has sent the old man
a dose of his own medicine, advice, and he is proving himself a good
doctor by taking it.


MOUNT CLEMATIS, January 25, 1900.

_Dear Pierrepont_: They've boiled everything out of me except the
original sin, and even that's a little bleached, and they've taken
away my roll of yellow-backs, so I reckon they're about through with
me here, for the present. But instead of returning to the office, I
think I'll take your advice and run down to Florida for a few weeks
and have a "try at the tarpon," as you put it. I don't really need a
tarpon, or want a tarpon, and I don't know what I could do with a
tarpon if I hooked one, except to yell at him to go away; but I need a
burned neck and a peeled nose, a little more zest for my food, and a
little more zip about my work, if the interests of the American hog
are going to be safe in my hands this spring. I don't seem to have so
much luck as some fellows in hooking these fifty-pound fish lies, but
I always manage to land a pretty heavy appetite and some big nights'
sleep when I strike salt water. Then I can go back to the office and
produce results like a hen in April with eggs at eleven cents a dozen.

[Illustration: I don't really need a tarpon ... but I need a burned
neck and a peeled nose]

Health is like any inheritance--you can spend the interest in work and
play, but you mustn't break into the principal. Once you do, and it's
only a matter of time before you've got to place the remnants in the
hands of a doctor as receiver; and receivers are mighty partial to
fees and mighty slow to let go. But if you don't work with him to get
the business back on a sound basis there's no such thing as any
further voluntary proceedings, and the remnants become remains.

It's a mighty simple thing, though, to keep in good condition, because
about everything that makes for poor health has to get into you right
under your nose. Yet a fellow'll load up with pie and buckwheats for
breakfast and go around wondering about his stomach-ache, as if it
were a put-up job that had been played on him when he wasn't looking;
or he'll go through his dinner pickling each course in a different
brand of alcohol, and sob out on the butler's shoulder that the booze
isn't as pure as it used to be when he was a boy; or he'll come home
at midnight singing "The Old Oaken Bucket," and act generally as if
all the water in the world were in the well on the old homestead, and
the mortgage on that had been foreclosed; or from 8 P.M. to 3 G.X.
he'll sit in a small game with a large cigar, breathing a blend of
light-blue cigarette smoke and dark-blue cuss-words, and next day,
when his heart beats four and skips two, and he has that queer,
hopping sensation in the knees, he'll complain bitterly to the other
clerks that this confining office work is killing him.

Of course, with all the care in the world, a fellow's likely to catch
things, but there's no sense in sending out invitations to a lot of
miscellaneous microbes and pretending when they call that it's a
surprise party. Bad health hates a man who is friendly with its
enemies--hard work, plain food, and pure air. More men die from worry
than from overwork; more stuff themselves to death than die of
starvation; more break their necks falling down the cellar stairs than
climbing mountains. If the human animal reposed less confidence in his
stomach and more in his legs, the streets would be full of healthy men
walking down to business. Remember that a man always rides to his
grave; he never walks there.

When I was a boy, the only doubt about the food was whether there
would be enough of it; and there wasn't any doubt at all about the
religion. If the pork barrel was full, father read a couple of extra
Psalms at morning prayers, to express our thankfulness; and if it was
empty, he dipped into Job for half an hour at evening prayers, to
prove that we were better off than some folks. But you don't know what
to eat these days, with one set of people saying that only beasts eat
meat, and another that only cattle eat grain and green stuff; or what
to believe, with one crowd claiming that there's nothing the matter
with us, as the only matter that we've got is in our minds; and
another crowd telling us not to mind what the others say, because
they've got something the matter with their minds. I reckon that what
this generation really needs is a little less pie and a little more

I dwell on this matter of health, because when the stomach and liver
ain't doing good work, the brain can't. A good many men will say that
it's none of your business what they do in their own time, but you
want to make it your business, so long as it affects what they do in
your time. For this reason, you should never hire men who drink after
office hours; for it's their time that gets the effects, and your time
that gets the after-effects. Even if a boss grants that there's fun in
drinking, it shouldn't take him long to discover that he's getting the
short end of it, when all the clerks can share with him in the morning
is the head and the hangover.

I might add that I don't like the effects of drinking any more than
the after-effects; and for this reason you should never hire men who
drink during business hours. When a fellow adds up on whisky, he's apt
to see too many figures; and when he subtracts on beer, he's apt to
see too few.

It may have been the case once that when you opened up a bottle for a
customer he opened up his heart, but booze is a mighty poor salesman
nowadays. It takes more than a corkscrew to draw out a merchant's
order. Most of the men who mixed their business and their drinks have
failed, and the new owners take their business straight. Of course,
some one has to pay for the drinks that a drummer sets up. The drummer
can't afford it on his salary; the house isn't really in the
hospitality business; so, in the end, the buyer always stands treat.
He may not see it in his bill for goods, but it's there, and the smart
ones have caught on to it.

After office hours, the number of drinks a fellow takes may make a
difference in the result to his employer, but during business hours
the effect of one is usually as bad as half a dozen. A buyer who
drinks hates a whisky breath when he hasn't got one himself, and a
fellow who doesn't drink never bothers to discover whether he's being
talked to by a simple or a compound breath. He knows that some men who
drink are unreliable, and that unreliable men are apt to represent
unreliable houses and to sell unreliable goods, and he hasn't the time
or the inclination to stop and find out that this particular salesman
has simply had a mild snort as an appetizer and a gentle soother as a
digester. So he doesn't get an order, and the house gets a black eye.
This is a very, very busy world, and about the only person who is
really interested in knowing just how many a fellow has had is his
wife, and she won't always believe him.

Naturally, when you expect so much from your men, they have a right
to expect a good deal from you. If you want them to feel that your
interests are theirs, you must let them see that their interests are
yours. There are a lot of fellows in the world who are working just for
glory, but they are mostly poets, and you needn't figure on finding
many of them out at the Stock Yards. Praise goes a long way with a good
man, and some employers stop there; but cash goes the whole distance,
and if you want to keep your growing men with you, you mustn't expect
them to do all the growing. Small salaries make slow workers and
careless clerks; because it isn't hard to get an underpaid job. But a
well-paid man sticketh closer than a little brother-in-law-to-be to the
fellow who brings the candy. For this reason, when I close the books at
the end of the year, I always give every one, from the errand boys up,
a bonus based on the size of his salary and my profits. There's no way
I've ever tried that makes my men take an interest in the size of my
profits like giving them a share. And there's no advertisement for a
house like having its men going around blowing and bragging because
they're working for it.

Again, if you insist that your men shan't violate the early-closing
ordinance, you must observe one yourself. A man who works only half a
day Saturday can usually do a day and half's work Monday. I'd rather
have my men hump themselves for nine hours than dawdle for ten.

Of course, the world is full of horses who won't work except with the
whip, but that's no reason for using it on those who will. When I get
a critter that hogs my good oats and then won't show them in his gait,
I get rid of him. He may be all right for a fellow who's doing a
peddling business, but I need a little more speed and spirit in mine.

A lot of people think that adversity and bad treatment is the test of
a man, and it is--when you want to develop his strength; but
prosperity and good treatment is a better one when you want to develop
his weakness. By keeping those who show their appreciation of it and
firing those who don't, you get an office full of crackerjacks.

While your men must feel all the time that they've got a boss who can
see good work around a corner, they mustn't be allowed to forget that
there's no private burying-ground on the premises for mistakes. When a
Western town loses one of its prominent citizens through some careless
young fellow's letting his gun go off sudden, if the sheriff buys a
little rope and sends out invitations to an inquest, it's apt to make
the boys more reserved about exchanging repartee; and if you pull up
your men sharp when you find them shooting off their mouths to
customers and getting gay in their correspondence, it's sure to cut
down the mortality among our old friends in the trade. A clerk's never
fresh in letters that the boss is going to see.

The men who stay in the office and plan are the brains of your
business; those who go out and sell are its arms; and those who fill
and deliver the orders are its legs. There's no use in the brains
scheming and the arms gathering in, if the legs are going to deliver
the goods with a kick.

That's another reason why it's very important for you to be in the
office early. You can't personally see every order filled, and tell
whether it was shipped promptly and the right goods sent, but when the
telegrams and letters are opened, you can have all the kicks sorted
out, and run through them before they're distributed for the day.
That's where you'll meet the clerk who billed a tierce of hams to the
man who ordered a box; the shipper who mislaid Bill Smith's order for
lard, and made Bill lose his Saturday's trade through the delay; the
department head who felt a little peevish one morning and so wrote
Hardin & Co., who buy in car-lots, that if they didn't like the smoke
of the last car of Bacon Short Clears they could lump it, or words to
that effect; and that's where you'll meet the salesman who played a
sure thing on the New Orleans track and needs twenty to get to the
next town, where his check is waiting. Then, a little later, when you
make the rounds of the different departments to find out how it
happened, the heads will tell you all the good news that was in the
morning's mail.

Of course, you can keep track of your men in a sneaking way that will
make them despise you, and talk to them in a nagging spirit that will
make them bristle when they see you. But it's your right to know and
your business to find out, and if you collect your information in an
open, frank manner, going at it in the spirit of hoping to find
everything all right, instead of wanting to find something all wrong;
and if you talk to the responsible man with an air of "here's a place
where we can get together and correct a weakness in our business"--not
my business--instead of with an "Ah! ha! I've-found-you-out"
expression, your men will throw handsprings for your good opinion.
Never nag a man tinder any circumstances; fire him.

A good boss, in these days when profits are pared down to the quick,
can't afford to have any holes, no matter how small, in his
management; but there must be give enough in his seams so that every
time he stoops down to pick up a penny he won't split his pants. He
must know how to be big, as well as how to be small.

Some years ago, I knew a firm who did business under the name of
Foreman & Sowers. They were a regular business vaudeville team--one
big and broad-gauged in all his ideas; the other unable to think in
anything but boys' and misses' sizes. Foreman believed that men got
rich in dollars; Sowers in cents. Of course, you can do it in either
way, but the first needs brains and the second only hands. It's been
my experience that the best way is to go after both the dollars and
the cents.

Well, sir, these fellows launched a specialty, a mighty good thing,
the Peep o' Daisy Breakfast Food, and started in to advertise. Sowers
wanted to use inch space and sell single cases; Foreman kicked because
full pages weren't bigger and wanted to sell in car-lots, leaving the
case trade to the jobbers. Sowers only half-believed in himself, and
only a quarter in the food, and only an eighth in advertising. So he
used to go home nights and lie awake with a living-picture exhibit of
himself being kicked out of his store by the sheriff; and out of his
house by the landlord; and, finally, off the corner where he was
standing with his hat out for pennies, by the policeman. He hadn't a
big enough imagination even to introduce into this last picture a
sport dropping a dollar bill into his hat. But Foreman had a pretty
good opinion of himself, and a mighty big opinion of the food, and he
believed that a clever, well-knit ad. was strong enough to draw teeth.
So he would go home and build steam-yachts and country places in his

Naturally, the next morning, Sowers would come down haggard and
gloomy, and grow gloomier as he went deeper into the mail and saw how
small the orders were. But Foreman would start out as brisk and busy
as a humming-bird, tap the advertising agent for a new line of credit
on his way down to the office, and extract honey and hope from every

Sowers begged him, day by day, to stop the useless fight and save the
remains of their business. But Foreman simply laughed. Said there
wouldn't be any remains when he was ready to quit. Allowed that he
believed in cremation, anyway, and that the only way to fix a brand on
the mind of the people was to burn it in with money.

Sowers worried along a few days more, and then one night, after he had
been buried in the potter's field, he planned a final stroke to stop
Foreman, who, he believed, didn't know just how deep in they really
were. Foreman was in a particular jolly mood the next morning, for he
had spent the night bidding against Pierrepont Morgan at an auction
sale of old masters; but he listened patiently while Sowers called off
the figures in a sort of dirge-like singsong, and until he had wailed
out his final note of despair, a bass-drum crash, which he thought
would bring Foreman to a realizing sense of their loss, so to speak.

"That," Sowers wound up, "makes a grand total of $800,000 that we have
already lost."

Foreman's head drooped, and for a moment he was deep in thought, while
Sowers stood over him, sad, but triumphant, in the feeling that he had
at last brought this madman to his senses, now that his dollars were

"Eight hundred thou!" the senior partner repeated mechanically. Then,
looking up with a bright smile, he exclaimed: "Why, old man, that
leaves us two hundred thousand still to spend before we hit the
million mark!"

They say that Sowers could only gibber back at him; and Foreman kept
right on and managed some way to float himself on to the million mark.
There the tide turned, and after all these years it's still running
his way; and Sowers, against his better judgment, is a millionaire.

I simply mention Foreman in passing. It would be all foolishness to
follow his course in a good many situations, but there's a time to
hold on and a time to let go, and the limit, and a little beyond, is
none too far to play a really good thing. But in business it's quite
as important to know how to be a good quitter as a good fighter. Even
when you feel that you've got a good thing, you want to make sure that
it's good enough, and that you're good enough, before you ask to have
the limit taken off. A lot of men who play a nice game of authors get
their feelings hurt at whist, and get it in the neck at poker.

You want to have the same principle in mind when you're handling the
trade. Sometimes you'll have to lay down even when you feel that your
case is strong. Often you'll have to yield a point or allow a claim
when you know you're dead right and the other fellow all wrong. But
there's no sense in getting a licking on top of a grievance.

Another thing that helps you keep track of your men is the habit of
asking questions. Your thirst for information must fairly make your
tongue loll out. When you ask the head of the canning department what
we're netting for two-pound Corned Beef on the day's market for
canners, and he has to say, "Wait a minute and I'll figure it out," or
turn to one of his boys and ask, "Bill, what are twos netting us?" he
isn't sitting close enough to his job, and, perhaps, if Bill were in
his chair, he'd be holding it in his lap; or when you ask the chief
engineer how much coal we burned this month, as compared with last,
and why in thunder we burned it, if he has to hem and haw and say he
hasn't had time to figure it out yet, but he thinks they were running
both benches in the packing house most of the time, and he guesses
this and reckons that, he needs to get up a little more steam himself.
In short, whenever you find a fellow that ought to know every minute
where he's at, but who doesn't know what's what, he's pretty likely to
be _It_. When you're dealing with an animal like the American hog,
that carries all its profit in the tip of its tail, you want to make
sure that your men carry all the latest news about it on the tip of
the tongue.

It's not a bad plan, once in a while, to check up the facts and
figures that are given you. I remember one lightning calculator I had
working for me, who would catch my questions hot from the bat, and
fire back the answers before I could get into position to catch. Was a
mighty particular cuss. Always worked everything out to the sixth
decimal place. I had just about concluded he ought to have a wider
field for his talents, when I asked him one day how the hams of the
last week's run had been averaging in weight. Answered like a streak;
but it struck me that for hogs which had been running so light they
were giving up pretty generously. So I checked up his figures and
found 'em all wrong. Tried him with a different question every day for
a week. Always answered quick, and always answered wrong. Found that
he was a base-ball rooter and had been handing out the batting
averages of the Chicagos for his answers. Seems that when I used to
see him busy figuring with his pencil he was working out where Anson
stood on the list. He's not in Who's Who in the Stock Yards any more,
you bet.

Your affectionate father,


No. 12

From John Graham, at Magnolia Villa, on the Florida Coast, to his son,
Pierrepont, at the Union Stock Yards, Chicago. The old man has started
back to Nature, but he hasn't gone quite far enough to lose sight of
his business altogether.


MAGNOLIA VILLA, February 5, 1900.

_Dear Pierrepont_: Last week I started back to Nature, as you advised,
but at the Ocean High Roller House I found that I had to wear
knee-breeches, which was getting back too far, or creases in my
trousers, which wasn't far enough. So we've taken this little place,
where there's nothing between me and Nature but a blue shirt and an
old pair of pants, and I reckon that's near enough.

I'm getting a complexion and your ma's losing hers. Hadn't anything
with her but some bonnets, so just before we left the hotel she went
into a little branch store, which a New York milliner runs there, and
tried to buy a shade hat.

"How would this pretty little shepherdess effect do?" asked the girl
who was showing the goods, while she sized me up to see if the weight
of my pocketbook made my coat sag.

"How much is it?" asked your ma.

"Fifty dollars," said the girl, as bright and sassy as you please.

"I'm not such a simple little shepherdess as that," answered your ma,
just a little brighter and a little sassier, and she's going around
bareheaded. She's doing the cooking and making the beds, because the
white girls from the North aren't willing to do "both of them works,"
and the native niggers don't seem to care a great deal about doing any
work. And I'm splitting the wood for the kitchen stove, and an
occasional fish that has committed suicide. This morning, when I was
casting through the surf, a good-sized drum chased me up on shore, and
he's now the star performer in a chowder that your ma has billed for

They call this place a villa, though it's really a villainy; and what
I pay for it rent, though it's actually a robbery. But they can have
the last bill in the roll if they'll leave me your ma, and my
appetite, and that tired feeling at night. It's the bulliest time
we've had since the spring we moved into our first little cottage back
in Missouri, and raised climbing-roses and our pet pig, Toby. It's
good to have money and the things that money will buy, but it's good,
too, to check up once in a while and make sure you haven't lost the
things that money won't buy. When a fellow's got what he set out for
in this world, he should go off into the woods for a few weeks now and
then to make sure that he's still a man, and not a plug-hat and a
frock-coat and a wad of bills.

You can't do the biggest things in this world unless you can handle
men; and you can't handle men if you're not in sympathy with them; and
sympathy begins in humility. I don't mean the humility that crawls for
a nickel in the street and cringes for a thousand in the office; but
the humility that a man finds when he goes gunning in the woods for
the truth about himself. It's the sort of humility that makes a fellow
proud of a chance to work in the world, and want to be a square
merchant, or a good doctor, or an honest lawyer, before he's a rich
one. It makes him understand that while life is full of opportunities
for him, it's full of responsibilities toward the other fellow, too.

That doesn't mean that you ought to coddle idleness, or to be slack
with viciousness, or even to carry on the pay-roll well-meaning
incompetence. For a fellow who mixes business and charity soon finds
that he can't make any money to give to charity; and in the end,
instead of having helped others, he's only added himself to the burden
of others. The kind of sympathy I mean holds up men to the bull-ring
without forgetting in its own success the hardships and struggles and
temptations of the fellow who hasn't got there yet, but is honestly
trying to. There's more practical philanthropy in keeping close to
these men and speaking the word that they need, or giving them the
shove that they deserve, than in building an eighteen-hole golf course
around the Stock Yards for them. Your force can always find plenty of
reasons for striking, without your furnishing an extra one in the poor
quality of the golf-balls that you give them. So I make it a rule that
everything I hand out to my men shall come in the course of business,
and be given on a business basis. When profits are large, they get a
large bonus and a short explanation of the business reasons in the
office and the country that have helped them to earn it; when profits
are small, the bonus shrinks and the explanation expands. I sell the
men their meats and give them their meals in the house restaurant at
cost, but nothing changes hands between us except in exchange for work
or cash.

If you want a practical illustration of how giving something for
nothing works, pick out some one who has no real claim on you--an old
college friend who's too strong to work, or a sixteenth cousin who's
missed connections with the express to Fortune--and say: "You're a
pretty good fellow, and I want to help you; after this I'm going to
send you a hundred dollars the first of every month, until you've made
a new start." He'll fairly sicken you with his thanks for that first
hundred; he'll call you his generous benefactor over three or four
pages for the second; he'll send you a nice little half-page note of
thanks for the third; he'll write, "Yours of the first with inclosure
to hand--thanks," for the fourth; he'll forget to acknowledge the
fifth; and when the sixth doesn't come promptly, he'll wire collect:
"Why this delay in sending my check--mail at once." And all the time
he won't have stirred a step in the direction of work, because he'll
have reasoned, either consciously or unconsciously: "I can't get a job
that will pay me more than a hundred a month to start with; but I'm
already drawing a hundred without working; so what's the use?" But
when a fellow can't get a free pass, and he has any sort of stuff in
him, except what hoboes are made of, he'll usually hustle for his car
fare, rather than ride through life on the bumpers of a freight.

The only favor that a good man needs is an opportunity to do the best
work that's in him; and that's the only present you can make him once
a week that will be a help instead of a hindrance to him. It's been my
experience that every man has in him the possibility of doing well
some one thing, no matter how humble, and that there's some one, in
some place, who wants that special thing done. The difference between
a fellow who succeeds and one who fails is that the first gets out and
chases after the man who needs him, and the second sits around waiting
to be hunted up.

When I was a boy, we were brought up to believe that we were born
black with original sin, and that we bleached out a little under old
Doc Hoover's preaching. And in the church down Main Street they taught
that a lot of us were predestined to be damned, and a few of us to be
saved; and naturally we all had our favorite selections for the first
bunch. I used to accept the doctrine of predestination for a couple of
weeks every year, just before the Main Street church held its
Sunday-school picnic, and there are a few old rascals in the Stock
Yards that make me lean toward it sometimes now; but, in the main, I
believe that most people start out with a plenty of original goodness.

The more I deal in it, the surer I am that human nature is all off
the same critter, but that there's a heap of choice in the cuts. Even
then a bad cook will spoil a four-pound porterhouse, where a good one
will take a chuck steak, make a few passes over it with seasoning and
fixings, and serve something that will line your insides with
happiness. Circumstances don't make men, but they shape them, and you
want to see that those under you are furnished with the right set of

Every fellow is really two men--what he is and what he might be; and
you're never absolutely sure which you're going to bury till he's
dead. But a man in your position can do a whole lot toward furnishing
the officiating clergyman with beautiful examples, instead of horrible
warnings. The great secret of good management is to be more alert to
prevent a man's going wrong than eager to punish him for it. That's
why I centre authority and distribute checks upon it. That's why I've
never had any Honest Old Toms, or Good Old Dicks, or Faithful Old
Harrys handling my good money week-days and presiding over the
Sabbath-school Sundays for twenty years, and leaving the old man short
a hundred thousand, and the little ones short a superintendent, during
the twenty-first year.

It's right to punish these fellows, but a suit for damages ought to
lie against their employers. Criminal carelessness is a bad thing, but
the carelessness that makes criminals is worse. The chances are that,
to start with, Tom and Dick were honest and good at the office and
sincere at the Sunday-school, and that, given the right circumstances,
they would have stayed so. It was their employers' business to see
that they were surrounded by the right circumstances at the office and
to find out whether they surrounded themselves with them at home.

A man who's fundamentally honest is relieved instead of aggrieved by
having proper checks on his handling of funds. And the bigger the
man's position and the amount that he handles, the more important this
is. A minor employee can take only minor sums, and the principal harm
done is to himself; but when a big fellow gets into you, it's for
something big, and more is hurt than his morals and your feelings.

I dwell a little on these matters, because I want to fix it firmly in
your mind that the man who pays the wages must put more in the weekly
envelope than money, if he wants to get his full money's worth. I've
said a good deal about the importance of little things to a boss;
don't forget their importance to your men. A thousand-dollar clerk
doesn't think with a ten-thousand-dollar head; a fellow whose view is
shut in by a set of ledgers can't see very far, and so stampedes
easier than one whose range is the whole shop; a brain that can't
originate big things can't forget trifles so quick as one in which the
new ideas keep crowding out the old annoyances. Ten thousand a year
will sweeten a multitude of things that don't taste pleasant, but
there's not so much sugar in a thousand to help them down. The sting
of some little word or action that wouldn't get under your skin at
all, is apt to swell up one of these fellows' bump of self-esteem as
big as an egg-plant, and make it sore all over.

It's always been my policy to give a little extra courtesy and
consideration to the men who hold the places that don't draw the extra
good salaries. It's just as important to the house that they should
feel happy and satisfied as the big fellows. And no man who's doing
his work well is too small for a friendly word and a pat on the back,
and no fellow who's doing his work poorly is too big for a jolt that
will knock the nonsense out of him.

You can't afford to give your men a real grievance, no matter how
small it is; for a man who's got nothing to occupy thin but his work
can accomplish twice as much as one who's busy with his work and a
grievance. The average man will leave terrapin and champagne in a
minute to chew over the luxury of feeling abused. Even when a man
isn't satisfied with the supply of real grievances which life affords,
and goes off hunting up imaginary ones, like a blame old gormandizing
French hog that leaves a full trough to root through the woods for
truffles, you still want to be polite; for when you fire a man there's
no good reason for doing it with a yell.

Noise isn't authority, and there's no sense in ripping and roaring and
cussing around the office when things don't please you. For when a
fellow's given to that, his men secretly won't care a cuss whether
he's pleased or not. They'll jump when he speaks, because they value
their heads, not his good opinion. Indiscriminate blame is as bad as
undiscriminating praise--it only makes a man tired.

I learned this, like most of the sense I've got--hard; and it was only
a few years ago that I took my last lesson in it. I came down one
morning with my breakfast digesting pretty easy, and found the orders
fairly heavy and the kicks rather light, so I told the young man who
was reading the mail to me, and who, of course, hadn't had anything
special to do with the run of orders, to buy himself a suit of clothes
and send the bill to the old man.

Well, when the afternoon mail came in, I dipped into that, too, but
I'd eaten a pretty tony luncheon, and it got to finding fault with its
surroundings, and the letters were as full of kicks as a drove of
Missouri mules. So I began taking it out on the fellow who happened to
be handiest, the same clerk to whom I had given the suit of clothes in
the morning. Of course, he hadn't had anything to do with the run of
kicks either, but he never put up a hand to defend himself till I was
all through, and then he only asked:

"Say, Mr. Graham, don't you want that suit of clothes back?"

[Illustration: "Say, Mr. Graham, don't you want that suit of clothes

Of course, I could have fired him on the spot for impudence, but I
made it a suit and an overcoat instead. I don't expect to get my
experience on free passes. And I had my money's worth, too, because it
taught me that it's a good rule to make sure the other fellow's wrong
before you go ahead. When you jump on the man who didn't do it, you
make sore spots all over him; and it takes the spring out of your leap
for the fellow who did it.

One of the first things a boss must lose is his temper--and it must
stay lost. There's about as much sense in getting yourself worked up
into a rage when a clerk makes a mistake as there is in going into the
barn and touching off a keg of gunpowder under the terrier because he
got mixed up in the dark and blundered into a chicken-coop instead of
a rat-hole. Fido may be an all-right ratter, in spite of the fact that
his foot slips occasionally, and a cut now and then with a switch
enough to keep him in order; but if his taste for chicken develops
faster than his nose for rats, it's easier to give him to one of the
neighbors than to blow him off the premises.

Where a few words, quick, sharp, and decisive, aren't enough for a
man, a cussing out is too much. It proves that he's unfit for his
work, and it unfits you for yours. The world is full of fellows who
could take the energy which they put into useless cussing of their
men, and double their business with it.

Your affectionate father,


No. 13

From John Graham, at the Union Stock Yards, Chicago, to his son,
Pierrepont, care of Graham & Company, Denver. The young man has been
offered a large interest in a big thing at a small price, and he has
written asking the old man to lend him the price.


CHICAGO, June 4, 1900.

_Dear Pierrepont_: Judging from what you say about the Highfaluting
Lulu, it must be a wonder, and the owner's reason for selling--that
his lungs are getting too strong to stand the climate--sounds
perfectly good. You can have the money at 5 per cent, as soon as
you've finally made up your mind that you want it, but before you
plant it in the mine for keeps, I think you should tie a wet towel
around your head, while you consider for a few minutes the bare
possibility of having to pay me back out of your salary, instead of
the profits from the mine. You can't throw a stone anywhere in this
world without hitting a man, with a spade over his shoulder, who's
just said the last sad good-byes to his bank account and is starting
out for the cemetery where defunct flyers are buried.

While you've only asked me for money, and not for advice, I may say
that, should you put a question on some general topic like, "What are
the wild waves saying, father?" I should answer, "Keep out of watered
stocks, my son, and wade into your own business a little deeper."
Though, when you come to think of it, these continuous-performance
companies, that let you in for ten, twenty, and thirty cents a share,
ought to be a mighty good thing for investors after they've developed
their oil and gold properties, because a lot of them can afford to pay
10 per cent. before they've developed anything but suckers.

So long as gold-mining with a pen and a little fancy paper continues to
be such a profitable industry, a lot of fellows who write a pretty fair
hand won't see any good reason for swinging a pick. They'll simply pass
the pick over to the fellow who invests, and start a new prospectus.
While the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, they're something
after all; but the walls along the short cuts to Fortune are papered
with only the prospectuses of good intentions--intentions to do the
other fellow good and plenty.

I don't want to question your ability or the purity of your friends'
intentions, but are you sure you know their business as well as they
do? Denver is a lovely city, with a surplus of climate and scenery,
and a lot of people there go home from work every night pushing a
wheelbarrow full of gold in front of them, but at the same time there
is no surplus of _that_ commodity, and most of the fellows who find it
have cut their wisdom teeth on quartz. It isn't reasonable to expect
that you're going to buy gold at fifty cents on the dollar, just
because it hasn't been run through the mint yet.

I simply mention these things in a general way. There are two branches
in the study of riches--getting the money and keeping it from getting
away. When a fellow has saved a thousand dollars, and every nickel
represents a walk home, instead of a ride on a trolley; and every
dollar stands for cigars he didn't smoke and for shows he didn't
see--it naturally seems as if that money, when it's invested, ought to
declare dividends every thirty days. But almost any scheme which
advertises that it will make small investors rich quick is like one of
these Yellowstone geysers that spouts up straight from Hades with a
boom and a roar--it's bound to return to its native brimstone sooner
or later, leaving nothing behind it but a little smoke, and a smell of
burned money--your money.

If a fellow would stop to think, he would understand that when money
comes in so hard, it isn't reasonable to expect that it can go out and
find more easy. But the great trouble is that a good many small
investors don't stop to think, or else let plausible strangers do
their thinking for them. That's why most young men have tucked away
with their college diploma and the picture of their first girl, an
impressive deed to a lot in Nowhere-on-the-Nothingness, or a beautiful
certificate of stock in the Gushing Girlie Oil Well, that has never
gushed anything but lies and promises, or a lovely receipt for money
invested in one of these discretionary pools that are formed for the
higher education of indiscreet fools. While I reckon that every fellow
has one of these certificates of membership in The Great Society of
Suckers, I had hoped that you would buy yours for a little less than
the Highfaluting Lulu is going to cost you. Young men are told that
the first thousand dollars comes hard and that after that it comes
easier. So it does--just a thousand dollars plus interest easier; and
easier through all the increased efficiency that self-denial and
self-control have given you, and the larger salary they've made you

It doesn't seem like much when you take your savings' bank book around
at the end of the year and get a little thirty or forty dollars
interest added, or when you cash in the coupon on the bond that you've
bought; yet your bank book and your bond are still true to you. But if
you'd had your thousand in one of these 50 per cent. bleached blonde
schemes, it would have lit out long ago with a fellow whose ways were
more coaxing, leaving you the laugh and a mighty small lock of
peroxide gold hair. If you think that saving your first thousand
dollars is hard, you'll find that saving the second, after you've lost
the first, is hell and repeat.

You can't too soon make it a rule to invest only on your own _know_
and never on somebody else's say so. You may lose some profits by this
policy, but you're bound to miss a lot of losses. Often the best
reason for keeping out of a thing is that everybody else is going into
it. A crowd's always dangerous; it first pushes prices up beyond
reason and then down below common sense. The time to buy is before the
crowd comes in or after it gets out. It'll always come back to a good
thing when it's been pushed up again to the point where it's a bad

It's better to go slow and lose a good bargain occasionally than to go
fast and never get a bargain. It's all right to take a long chance now
and then, when you've got a long bank account, but it's been my
experience that most of the long chances are taken by the fellows with
short bank accounts.

You'll meet a lot of men in Chicago who'll point out the corner of State
and Madison and tell you that when they first came to the city they were
offered that lot for a hundred dollars, and that it's been the crowning
regret of their lives that they didn't buy it. But for every genuine case
of crowning regret because a fellow didn't buy, there are a thousand
because he did. Don't let it make you feverish the next time you see
one of those Won't-you-come-in-quick-and-get-rich-sudden ads. Freeze
up and on to your thousand, and by and by you'll get a chance to buy a
little stock in the concern for which you're working and which you
know something about; or to take that thousand and one or two more
like it, and buy an interest in a nice little business of the breed
that you've been grooming and currying for some other fellow. But if
your money's tied up in the sudden--millionaire business, you'll have
to keep right on clerking.

A man's fortune should grow like a tree, in rings around the parent
trunk. It'll be slow work at first, but every ring will be a little
wider and a little thicker than the last one, and by and by you'll be
big enough and strong enough to shed a few acorns within easy reaching
distance, and so start a nice little nursery of your own from which
you can saw wood some day. Whenever you hear of a man's jumping
suddenly into prominence and fortune, look behind the popular
explanation of a lucky chance. You'll usually find that these men
manufactured their own luck right on the premises by years of slow
preparation, and are simply realizing on hard work.

Speaking of manufacturing luck on the premises, naturally calls to
mind the story of old Jim Jackson, "dealer in mining properties," and
of young Thornley Harding, graduate of Princeton and citizen of New

Thorn wasn't a bad young fellow, but he'd been brought up by a nice,
hard-working, fond and foolish old papa, in the fond belief that his
job in life was to spend the income of a million. But one week papa
failed, and the next week he died, and the next Thorn found he had to
go to work. He lasted out the next week on a high stool, and then he
decided that the top, where there was plenty of room for a bright
young man, was somewhere out West.

Thorn's life for the next few years was the whole series of hard-luck
parables, with a few chapters from Job thrown in, and then one day he
met old Jim. He seemed to cotton to Thorn from the jump. Explained to
him that there was nothing in this digging gopher holes in the solid
rock and eating Chinaman's grub for the sake of making niggers' wages.
Allowed that he was letting other fellows dig the holes, and that he
was selling them at a fair margin of profit to young Eastern
capitalists who hadn't been in the country long enough to lose their
roll and that trust in Mankind and Nature which was Youth's most
glorious possession. Needed a bright young fellow to help him--someone
who could wear good clothes and not look as if he were in a disguise,
and could spit out his words without chewing them up. Would Thorn join
him on a grub, duds, and commission basis? Would Thorn surprise his
skin with a boiled shirt and his stomach with a broiled steak? You bet
he would, and they hitched up then and there.

They ran along together for a year or more, selling a played-out mine
now and then or a "promising claim," for a small sum. Thorn knew that
the mines which they handled were no Golcondas, but, as he told
himself, you could never absolutely swear that a fellow wouldn't
strike it rich in one of them.

There came a time, though, when they were way down on their luck. The
run of young Englishmen was light, and visiting Easterners were a
little gun-shy. Almost looked to Thorn as if he might have to go to
work for a living, but he was a tenacious cuss, and stuck it out till
one day when Jim came back to Leadville from a near-by camp, where
he'd been looking at some played-out claims.

Jim was just boiling over with excitement. Wouldn't let on what it was
about, but insisted on Thorn's going back with him then and there.
Said it was too big to tell; must be taken in by all Thorn's senses,
aided by his powers of exaggeration.

It took them only a few hours to make the return trip. When Jim came
within a couple of miles of the camp, he struck in among some trees
and on to the center of a little clearing. There he called Thorn's
attention to a small, deep spring of muddy water.

"Thorn," Jim began, as impressive as if he were introducing him to an
easy millionaire, "look at thet spring. Feast yer eyes on it and tell
me what you see."

"A spring, you blooming idiot," Thorn replied, feeling a little

"You wouldn't allow, Thorn, to look at it, thet thar was special pints
about thet spring, would you?" he went on, slow and solemn. "You
wouldn't be willin' to swar thet the wealth of the Hindoos warn't in
thet precious flooid which you scorn? Son," he wound up suddenly,
"this here is the derndest, orneriest spring you ever see. Thet water
is rich enough to be drunk straight."

Thorn began to get excited in earnest now. "What is it? Spit it out

"Watch me, sonny," and Jim hung his tin cup in the spring and sat down
on a near-by rock. Then after fifteen silent minutes had passed, he
lifted the cup from the water and passed it over. Thorn almost jumped
out of his jack-boots with surprise.

"Silver?" he gasped.

"Generwine," Jim replied. "Down my way, in Illinois, thar used to be a
spring thet turned things to stone. This gal gives 'em a jacket of

After Thorn had kicked and rolled and yelled a little of the joy out
of his system, he started to take a drink of the water, but Jim
stopped him with:

"Taste her if you wanter, but she's one of them min'rul springs which
leaves a nasty smack behind." And then he added: "I reckon she's a
winner. We'll christen her the Infunt Fernomerner, an' gin a lib'rul
investor a crack at her."

The next morning Thorn started back, doing fancy steps up the trail.

He hadn't been in Leadville two days before he bumped into an old
friend of his uncle's, Tom Castle, who was out there on some business,
and had his daughter, a mighty pretty girl, along. Thorn sort of let
the spring slide for a few days, while he took them in hand and showed
them the town. And by the time he was through, Castle had a pretty bad
case of mining fever, and Thorn and the girl were in the first stages
of something else.

Castle showed a good deal of curiosity about Thorn's business and how
he was doing, so he told 'em all about how he'd struck it rich, and in
his pride showed a letter which he had received from Jim the day
before. It ran:

"_Dere Thorn_: The Infunt Fernomerner is a wunder and the pile groes
every day. I hav 2 kittles, a skilit and a duzzen cans in the spring
every nite wich is awl it wil hold and days i trys out the silver frum
them wich have caked on nites. This is to dern slo. we nede munny so
we kin dril and get a bigger flo and tanks and bilers and sech. hump
yoursel and sell that third intrest. i hav to ten the kittles now so
no mor frum jim."

"You see," Thorn explained, "we camped beside the spring one night,
and a tin cup, which Jim let fall when he first tasted the water,
discovered its secret. It's just the same principle as those lime
springs that incrust things with lime. This one must percolate through
a bed of ore. There's some quality in the water which acts as a
solvent of the silver, you know, so that the water becomes charged
with it."

Now, Thorn hadn't really thought of interesting Castle as an investor
in that spring, because he regarded his Western business and his
Eastern friends as things not to be mixed, and he wasn't very hot to
have Castle meet Jim and get any details of his life for the past few
years. But nothing would do Castle but that they should have a look at
The Infant, and have it at once.

Well, sir, when they got about a mile from camp they saw Jim standing
in the trail, and smiling all over his honest, homely face. He took
Castle for a customer, of course, and after saying "Howdy" to Thorn,
opened right up: "I reckon Thorn hev toted you up to see thet blessid
infunt as I'm mother, father and wet-nuss to. Thar never was sich a
kid. She's jest the cutest little cuss ever you see. Eh, Thorn?"

"Do you prefer to the er--er--Infant Phenomenon?" asked Castle, all

"The same precious infunt. She's a cooin' to herself over thar in them
pines," Jim replied, and he started right in to explain: "As you see,
Jedge, the precious flooid comes from the bowels of the earth, as full
of silver as sody water of gas; and to think thet water is the mejum.
Nacher's our silent partner, and the blessid infunt delivers the
goods. No ore, no stamps, no sweatin', no grindin', and crushin', and
millin', and smeltin'. Thar you hev the pure juice, and you bile it
till it jells. Looky here," and Jim reached down and pulled out a
skillet. "Taste it! Smell it! Bite it! Lick it! An' then tell me if
Sollermun in all his glory was dressed up like this here!"

Castle handled that skillet like a baby, and stroked it as if he just
naturally loved children. Stayed right beside the spring during the
rest of the day, and after supper he began talking about it with Jim,
while Thorn and Kate went for a stroll along the trail. During the
time they were away Jim must have talked to pretty good purpose, for
no sooner were the partners alone for the night than Jim said to
Thorn: "I hev jest sold the Jedge a third intrest in the Fernomerner
fur twenty thousand dollars."

"I'm not so sure about that," answered Thorn, for he still didn't
quite like the idea of doing business with one of his uncle's friends.
"The Infant looks good and I believe she's a wonder, but it's a new
thing, and twenty thousand's a heap of money to Castle. If it
shouldn't pan out up to the first show-down, I'd feel deucedly cut up
about having let him in. I'd a good deal rather refuse to sell Castle
and hunt up a stranger."

"Don't be a dern fool, son," Jim replied. "He knew we was arter money
to develop, and when he made thet offer I warn't goin' to be sich a
permiscuss Charley-hoss as to refuse. It'd be a burnin' crime not to
freeze to this customer. It takes time to find customers, even for a
good thing like this here, and it's bein' a leetle out of the usual
run will make it slower still."

"But my people East. If Castle should get stuck he'll raise an awful

Jim grinned: "He'd holler, would he? In course; it might help his
business. Yer the orneriest ostrich fur a man of yer keerful
eddication! Did you hear thet Boston banker what bought the
Cracker-jack from us a-hollerin'? He kept so shet about it, I'll bet,
thet you couldn't a-blasted it outer him."

They argued along until after midnight, but Jim carried his point; and
two weeks later Thorn was in Denver, saying good-by to Kate, and
listening to her whisper, "But it won't be for long, as you'll soon be
able to leave business and come back East," and to Castle yelling from
the rear platform to "Push the Infant and get her sizzling."

Later, as Jim and Thorn walked back to the hotel, the old scoundrel
turned to his partner with a grin and said: "I hev removed the insides
from the Infunt and stored 'em fur future ref'rence. Meanin', in
course," he added, as Thorn gaped up at him like a chicken with the
pip, "the 'lectro-platin' outfit. P'r'aps it would be better to take a
leetle pasear now, but later we can come back and find another orphant
infunt and christen her the Phoenix, which is Greek fur sold agin."

It took Thorn a full minute to comprehend the rascality in which he'd
been an unconscious partner, but when he finally got it through his
head that Jim had substituted the child of a base-born churl for the
Earl's daughter, he fairly raged. Threatened him with exposure and
arrest if he didn't make restitution to Castle, but Jim simply grinned
and asked him whether he allowed to sing his complaint to the police.
Wound up by saying that, even though Thorn had rounded on him, old Jim
was a square man, and he proposed to divide even.

Thorn was simply in the fix of the fellow between the bull and the
bulldog--he had a choice, but it was only whether he would rather be
gored or bitten, so he took the ten thousand, and that night Jim faded
away on a west-bound Pullman, smoking two-bit cigars and keeping the
porter busy standing by with a cork-screw. Thorn took his story and
the ten thousand back to his uncle in the East, and after a pretty
solemn interview with the old man, he went around and paid Castle in
full and resumed his perch on top of the high stool he'd left a few
years before. He never got as far as explaining to the girl in person,
because Castle told him that while he didn't doubt his honesty, he was
afraid he was too easy a mark to succeed in Wall Street. Yet Thorn did
work up slowly in his uncle's office, and he's now in charge of the
department that looks after the investments of widows and orphans, for
he is so blamed conservative that they can't use him in any part of
the business where it's necessary to take chances.

I simply speak of Thorn as an example of why I think you should have a
cool head before you finally buy the Lulu with my money. After all, it
seems rather foolish to pay railroad fares to the West and back for
the sake of getting stuck when there are such superior facilities for
that right here in the East.

Your affectionate father,


No. 14

From John Graham, at the Omaha branch of Graham & Company, to his son,
Pierrepont, at the Union Stock Yards, Chicago. The old man has been
advised by wire of the arrival of a prospective partner, and that the
mother, the son, and the business are all doing well.


OMAHA, October 6, 1900.

_Dear Pierrepont_: I'm so blame glad it's a boy that I'm getting over
feeling sorry it ain't a girl, and I'm almost reconciled to it's not
being twins. Twelve pounds, bully! maybe that doesn't keep up the
Graham reputation for giving good weight! But I'm coming home on the
run to heft him myself, because I never knew a fellow who wouldn't lie
a little about the weight of number one, and then, when you led him up
to the hay scales, claim that it's a well-known scientific principle
that children shrink during the first week like a ham in smoke.
Allowing for tare, though, if he still nets ten I'll feel that he's a
credit to the brand.

It's a great thing to be sixty minutes old, with nothing in the world
except a blanket and an appetite, and the whole fight ahead of you;
but it's pretty good, too, to be sixty years old, and a grandpop, with
twenty years of fight left in you still. It sort of makes me feel,
though, as if it were almost time I had a young fellow hitched up
beside me who was strong enough to pull his half of the load and
willing enough so that he'd keep the traces taut on his side. I don't
want any double-team arrangement where I have to pull the load and the
other horse, too. But you seem strong, and you act willing, so when I
get back I reckon we'll hitch for a little trial spin. A good partner
ought to be like a good wife--a source of strength to a man. But it
isn't reasonable to tie up with six, like a Mormon elder, and expect
that you're going to have half a dozen happy homes.

They say that there are three generations between shirt-sleeves and
shirt-sleeves in a good many families, but I don't want any such gap
as that in ours. I hope to live long enough to see the kid with us at
the Stock Yards, and all three of us with our coats off hustling to
make the business hum. If I shouldn't, you must keep the boy strong in
the faith. It makes me a little uneasy when I go to New York and see
the carryings-on of some of the old merchants' grandchildren. I don't
think it's true, as Andy says, that to die rich is to die disgraced,
but it's the case pretty often that to die rich is to be disgraced
afterward by a lot of light-weight heirs.

Every now and then some blame fool stops me on the street to say that
he supposes I've got to the point now where I'm going to quit and
enjoy myself; and when I tell him I've been enjoying myself for forty
years and am going to keep right on at it, he goes off shaking his
head and telling people I'm a money-grubber. He can't see that it's
the fellow who doesn't enjoy his work and who quits just because he's
made money that's the money-grubber; or that the man who keeps right
on is fighting for something more than a little sugar on his bread and

When a doctor reaches the point where he's got a likely little bunch
of dyspeptics giving him ten dollars apiece for telling them to eat
something different from what they have been eating, and to chew
it--people don't ask him why he doesn't quit and live on the interest
of his dyspepsia money. By the time he's gained his financial
independence, he's lost his personal independence altogether. For it's
just about then that he's reached the age where he can put a little
extra sense and experience into his pills; so he can't turn around
without some one's sticking out his tongue at him and asking him to
guess what he had for dinner that disagreed with him. It never occurs
to these people that he will let his experience and ability go to
waste, just because he has made money enough to buy a little dyspepsia
of his own, and it never occurs to him to quit for any such foolish

You'll meet a lot of first-class idiots in this world, who regard
business as low and common, because their low and common old grandpas
made money enough so they don't have to work. And you'll meet a lot of
second-class fools who carry a line of something they call culture,
which bears about the same relation to real education that canned
corned beef does to porterhouse steak with mushrooms; and these
fellows shudder a little at the mention of business, and moan over the
mad race for wealth, and deplore the coarse commercialism of the age.
But while they may have no special use for a business man, they always
have a particular use for his money. You want to be ready to spring
back while you're talking to them, because when a fellow doesn't think
it's refined to mention money, and calls it an honorarium, he's
getting ready to hit you for a little more than the market price. I've
had dealings with a good many of these shy, sensitive souls who shrink
from mentioning the dollar, but when it came down to the point of
settling the bill, they usually tried to charge a little extra for the
shock to their refinement.

The fact of the matter is, that we're all in trade when we've got
anything, from poetry to pork, to sell; and it's all foolishness to
talk about one fellow's goods being sweller than another's. The only
way in which he can be different is by making them better. But if we
haven't anything to sell, we ain't doing anything to shove the world
along; and we ought to make room on it for some coarse, commercial
cuss with a sample-case.

I've met a heap of men who were idling through life because they'd
made money or inherited it, and so far as I could see, about all that
they could do was to read till they got the dry rot, or to booze till
they got the wet rot. All books and no business makes Jack a
jack-in-the-box, with springs and wheels in his head; all play and no
work makes Jack a jackass, with bosh in his skull. The right
prescription for him is play when he really needs it, and work whether
he needs it or not; for that dose makes Jack a cracker-jack.

Like most fellows who haven't any too much of it, I've a great deal of
respect for education, and that's why I'm sorry to see so many men who
deal in it selling gold-bricks to young fellows who can't afford to be
buncoed. It would be a mighty good thing if we could put a lot of the
professors at work in the offices and shops, and give these
canned-culture boys jobs in the glue and fertilizer factories until a
little of their floss and foolishness had worn off. For it looks to an
old fellow, who's taking a bird's-eye view from the top of a packing
house, as if some of the colleges were still running their plants with
machinery that would have been sent to the scrap-heap, in any other
business, a hundred years ago. They turn out a pretty fair article as
it is, but with improved machinery they could save a lot of waste and
by-products and find a quicker market for their output. But it's the
years before our kid goes to college that I'm worrying about now. For
I believe that we ought to teach a boy how to use his hands as well as
his brain; that he ought to begin his history lessons in the present
and work back to B.C. about the time he is ready to graduate; that he
ought to know a good deal about the wheat belt before he begins
loading up with the list of Patagonian products; that he ought to post
up on Abraham Lincoln and Grover Cleveland and Thomas Edison first,
and save Rameses Second to while away the long winter evenings after
business hours, because old Rameses is embalmed and guaranteed to keep
anyway; that if he's inclined to be tonguey he ought to learn a living
language or two, which he can talk when a Dutch buyer pretends he
doesn't understand English, before he tackles a dead one which in all
probability he will only give decent interment in his memory.

Of course, it's a fine thing to know all about the past and to have
the date when the geese cackled in Rome down pat, but life is the
present and the future. The really valuable thing which we get from
the past is experience, and a fellow can pick up a pretty fair working
line of that along La Salle Street. A boy's education should begin
with to-day, deal a little with to-morrow, and then go back to day
before yesterday. But when a fellow begins with the past, it's apt to
take him too long to catch up with the present. A man can learn better
most of the things that happened between A.D. 1492 and B.C. 5000 after
he's grown, for then he can sense their meaning and remember what's
worth knowing. But you take the average boy who's been loaded up with
this sort of stuff, and dig into him, and his mind is simply a
cemetery of useless dates from the tombstones of those tough and
sporty old kings, with here and there the jaw-bone of an ass who made
a living by killing every one in sight and unsettling business for
honest men. Some professors will tell you that it's good training
anyway to teach boys a lot of things they're going to forget, but it's
been my experience that it's the best training to teach them things
they'll remember.

I simply mention these matters in a general way. I don't want you to
underestimate the value of any sort of knowledge, and I want you to
appreciate the value of other work besides your own--music and
railroading, ground and lofty tumbling and banking, painting pictures
and soap advertising; because if you're not broad enough to do this
you're just as narrow as those fellows who are running the culture
corner, and your mind will get so blame narrow it will overlap.

I want to raise our kid to be a poor man's son, and then, if it's
necessary, we can always teach him how to be a rich one's. Child
nature is human nature, and a man who understands it can make his
children like the plain, sensible things and ways as easily as the
rich and foolish ones. I remember a nice old lady who was raising a
lot of orphan grandchildren on a mighty slim income. They couldn't have
chicken often in that house, and when they did it was a pretty close
fit and none to throw away. So instead of beginning with the white
meat and stirring up the kids like a cage full of hyenas when the
"feeding the carnivora" sign is out, she would play up the pieces that
don't even get a mention on the bill-of-fare of a two-dollar country
hotel. She would begin by saying in a please-don't-all-speak-at-once
tone, "Now, children, who wants this dear little neck?" and naturally
they all wanted it, because it was pretty plain to them that it was
something extra sweet and juicy. So she would allot it as a reward of
goodness to the child who had been behaving best, and throw in the
gizzard for nourishment. The nice old lady always helped herself last,
and there was nothing left for her but white meat.

It isn't the final result which the nice old lady achieved, but the
first one, that I want to commend. A child naturally likes the simple
things till you teach him to like the rich ones; and it's just as easy
to start him with books and amusements that hold sense and health as
those that are filled with slop and stomach-ache. A lot of mothers
think a child starts out with a brain that can't learn anything but
nonsense; so when Maudie asks a sensible question they answer in
goo-goo gush. And they believe that a child can digest everything from
carpet tacks to fried steak, so whenever Willie hollers they think
he's hungry, and try to plug his throat with a banana.

You want to have it in mind all the time while you're raising this boy
that you can't turn over your children to subordinates, any more than
you can your business, and get good results. Nurses and governesses
are no doubt all right in their place, but there's nothing "just as
good" as a father and mother. A boy doesn't pick up cuss-words when
his mother's around or learn cussedness from his father. Yet a lot of
mothers turn over the children, along with the horses and dogs, to be
fed and broken by the servants, and then wonder from which side of the
family Isobel inherited her weak stomach, and where she picked up her
naughty ways, and why she drops the h's from some words and pronounces
others with a brogue. But she needn't look to Isobel for any
information, because she is the only person about the place with whom
the child ain't on free and easy terms.

I simply mention these things in passing. Life is getting broader and
business bigger right along, and we've got to breed a better race of
men if we're going to keep just a little ahead of it. There are a lot
of problems in the business now--trust problems and labor
problems--that I'm getting old enough to shirk, which you and the boy
must meet, though I'm not doing any particular worrying about them.
While I believe that the trusts are pretty good things in theory, a
lot of them have been pretty bad things in practice, and we shall be
mighty slow to hook up with one.

The trouble is that too many trusts start wrong. A lot of these
fellows take a strong, sound business idea--the economy of cost in
manufacture and selling--and hitch it to a load of the rottenest
business principle in the bunch--the inflation of the value of your
plant and stock--, and then wonder why people hold their noses when
their outfit drives down Wall Street. Of course, when you stop a
little leakage between the staves and dip out the sugar by the bucket
from the top, your net gain is going to be a deficit for somebody. So
if these fellows try to do business as they should do it, by clean and
sound methods and at fair and square prices, they can't earn money
enough to satisfy their stockholders, and they get sore; and if they
try to do business in the only way that's left, by clubbing
competition to death, and gouging the public, then the whole country
gets sore. It seems to me that a good many of these trusts are at a
stage where the old individual character of the businesses from which
they came is dead, and a new corporate character hasn't had time to
form and strengthen. Naturally, when a youngster hangs fire over
developing a conscience, he's got to have one licked into him.

Personally, I want to see fewer businesses put into trusts on the
canned-soup theory--add hot water and serve--before I go into one;
and I want to know that the new concern is going to put a little of
itself into every case that leaves the plant, just as I have always
put in a little of myself. Of course, I don't believe that this stage
of the trusts can last, because, in the end, a business that is
founded on doubtful values and that makes money by doubtful methods
will go to smash or be smashed, and the bigger the business the bigger
the smash. The real trust-busters are going to be the crooked trusts,
but so long as they can keep out of jail they will make it hard for
the sound and straight ones to prove their virtue. Yet once the trust
idea strikes bed-rock, and a trust is built up of sound properties
on a safe valuation; once the most capable man has had time to rise
to the head, and a new breed, trained to the new idea, to grow up
under him; and once dishonest competition--not hard competition--is
made a penitentiary offense, and the road to the penitentiary
macadamized so that it won't be impassable to the fellows who ride in
automobiles--then there'll be no more trust-busting talk, because a
trust will be the most efficient, the most economical, and the most
profitable way of doing business; and there's no use bucking that idea
or no sense in being so foolish as to want to. It would be like
grabbing a comet by the tail and trying to put a twist in it. And
there's nothing about it for a young fellow to be afraid of, because
a good man isn't lost in a big business--he simply has bigger
opportunities and more of them. The larger the interests at stake, the
less people are inclined to jeopardize them by putting them in the
hands of any one but the best man in sight.

I'm not afraid of any trust that's likely to come along for a while,
because Graham & Co. ain't any spring chicken. I'm not too old to
change, but I don't expect to have to just yet, and so long as the
trust and labor situation remains as it is I don't believe that you
and I and the kid can do much better than to follow my old rule:

_Mind your own business; own your own business; and run your own

Your affectionate father,



*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Old Gorgon Graham - More Letters from a Self-Made Merchant to His Son" ***

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