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Title: The Beggar's Purse - A Fairy Tale of Familiar Finance
Author: Adams, Samuel Hopkins, 1871-1958
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "The Beggar's Purse - A Fairy Tale of Familiar Finance" ***


A Fairy Tale of Familiar Finance

By Samuel Hopkins Adams



IT was our original intention to print and distribute a small number
of these booklets gratuitously among our Mends with the hope that this
story might aid in the sale of War Savings Stamps.

However, before the booklet was finished we had a number of requests
from large firms who desired to purchase them in quantities for
distribution among their own people. This we had not planned on.

In taking the matter up with Samuel Hopkins Adams, the author, he
suggested that he was willing to forego any remuneration if we would
furnish these books at cost. This we gladly consented to do, and we will
print and deliver any size edition, selling them at actual cost.

We are glad to do this, for we will feel well repaid for our efforts, if
every book is the means of selling one War Savings Stamp.




The thought in mind that this story might suggest a way to increase the
sale of War Savings Stamps, the publishers and the author, who receive
no remuneration, have kindly consented to allow us to print and
distribute gratuitously this booklet.

Smith & Porter Press, Inc.


VAN TENNER was a man who pursued his way through life by fixed habits.
He lived in Philadelphia. That was one of the habits. He ate regularly,
slept regularly, rose regularly, worked regularly and went to the club
regularly; all this within the limits of a very comfortable income. He
never overstrained this income. That's what kept it so comfortable.
It also kept E. Van Tenner comfortable. They were very comfortable
together, which is fortunate, as there were only the two of them to look
after each other. That is to say, E. Van Tenner was a bachelor. As
to his age, face, form and apparel, the illustrator may, if he will,
apprise you. Not I. They have no essential bearing upon this, my tale,
which is no love story, for love and E. Van Tenner were strangers.

But though love had passed him by, war came home to him, touching him
with intimate shock upon the income and then upon his habits; but this
he endured, not without discomposure, indeed, but without resentment,
for one of his best habits was to be honestly and thoroughly patriotic.
In sundry phases war came to him; but the particular phase which, at the
time of the beginning of this chronicle, interrupted him in the task of
figuring up personal accounts, wore white whiskers and an ingratiating
expression and was a professional beggar, not for pay but for

The professional and patriotic beggar fixed E. Van Tenner with a bright
and amiable eye and said--that is, he would have said if E. Van Tenner
hadn't first said:

"No." And then repeated it with level and considered firmness: "No. No.

"But----" began the professional beggar.

"I subscribed liberally to the first Liberty Loan."

"I know. But----"

"More liberally to the second Liberty Loan."

"Exactly. Nevertheless----"

"As for War Saving Stamps--I see them in your glittering eyes--I know
all the arguments----"

"Except one," interrupted the beggar. "Quite useless," said E. Van Tenner
firmly. "However, proceed!"

"My argument," said the beggar, "is based upon the word 'savings'. War
_Savings_ Stamps. I propose that you shall start modestly with one of
these stamps, purchased out of what you save on current expenses without
giving up anything that you need or want or aren't better off without."

"That," commented E. Van Tenner, smiling, "suggests magic."

"Magic, pure, deep and white," confirmed the beggar promptly. "What are
your plans for to-day?"

"A trip on business to New York."

"Good! How long?"

"Twenty-four hours," said the precise E. Van Tenner.

"Do you carry a pocketbook--or your money loose?"


"Take this purse. It calls for but one condition: That you keep all
your money--bills and change--in it and spend only from it. If this is
faithfully done, within twenty-four hours you will have saved enough to
buy one--no, two stamps; which at the present price will come to eight
dollars and twenty-eight cents."

To Van Tenner's skeptical eye the purse placed in his hand seemed an
ordinary-enough affair--a cheap, flattish wallet, without distinguishing
mark until he opened it and found, set into the flap, a celluloid tablet
flanked by a small pencil. Across the top of the tablet ran the legend
"What's the good?"

"A colloquial expression of the philosophy of indifference," observed E.
Van Tenner with a smile.

"On the contrary," retorted the beggar, "it is a serious and profound
inquiry into first causes. The magic inheres in it. Under-stand, now:
You are not to scrimp and scrooge at all. Parsimony by people who can
afford to spend does harm, not good. And this magic, being white magic,
works only for good. But if you undertake to remove money from that
purse for any purely wasteful purpose the magic will be loosed; and you
shall see what you shall see--or, more accurately, feel what you shall

"The purse will stir in my pocket, I suppose," laughed E. Van Tenner.

"Much deeper," replied the beggar gravely. "In your conscience."

"I accept your challenge," said the other. He emptied his pockets and
deposited all his money under the guardianship of the inquiry "What's
the good?"

"To start from the moment when I leave my office for the train."

"I shall expect to hear from you on your return," replied the beggar,
and vanished by the magical process of stepping into a bewitched
compartment which, at the touch of a brass-buttoned wizard's hand upon
a lever, dropped harmlessly down a frightful chasm and disgorged him
unharmed upon the street.

On the punctual fifteen minutes before train time E. Van Tenner picked
up his small, light traveling bag and walked the two blocks to
the station. There he was met by an obsequious porter to whom he
mechanically surrendered the insignificant burden. Instinctively he felt
in his change pocket to see whether he had any silver. None. Nor in his
trousers pocket. Why, what had he--

Oh, of course. The beggar's purse, in his breast pocket. He reached
in for it and the purse bit him. At least that was his first startled
thought, so queer and unpleasant a thrill ran up his finger. Then it
was the porter's turn to be startled, for E. Van Tenner, retrieving his
luggage, addressed to him a positive monosyllable: "None."

"Wha'--wha' that you say, suh?"

"Didn't you just ask me 'What's the good?"'

"Me? Lawd! No, suh!"

"Well, somebody did," asserted E. Van Tenner, vague but emphatic. "I'll
carry my own bag, thank you."

"Ghos'es! He's hearin' ghos'es," surmised the alarmed African, staring
after his escaped patron as that haunted gentleman made his way to the
Pullman window.

Here he again felt for the wallet. Though there was no shock this time
it seemed to come forth reluctantly, and the magic phrase as it met his
eyes took on a quality of insistence.

"Well, what is the good?" repeated E. Van Tenner.

"Beg your pardon?" said the astonished agent from his window.

"I--that is to say--have you a chair for New York on this train?"

"Just one left, sir."

"Keep it!" the horrified Van Tenner heard himself say. Or was it himself
that had said it? At any rate he was ten paces from the window on his
way to a day coach before he recovered. Not until then did it occur to
him that on his last trip the parlor car had been so hot and stuffy as
to leave him with a headache all day. Perhaps he would be just as well
off in a day coach; even better, possibly. He found a seat, disposed
himself in it and essayed to return the beggar's purse to his pocket. It
resisted. Its reluctance was quite uncanny until E. Van Tenner observed
that in some way the pencil had got afoul of the pocket flap.

"Oh, that's it!" said he, enlightened, and proceeded to make the
following entries of cash saved, on the magic tablet:

     Station porter Parlor car            $0.55
     Pullman porter                         .15

Hardly had he settled in his place when he heard a familiar voice behind
him. He turned. I t was Welland, a near neighbor to his apartment.
Welland was in the automobile business, from which he was reputed to
draw from twenty-five to thirty thousand dollars a year in commissions.
It was a surprise to E. Van Tenner to find so glossily prosperous
a person, with a reputation as a free spender, in the day coach. He
mentioned his surprise.

"War, my dear sir, war," said Welland. "This nation is at war. I haven't
ridden in a parlor car since last summer."



"I see no principle involved except economy."

"Don't you? The fewer heavy parlor cars the less demand on coal and
rolling stock. Here I am, unable to get my normal supply of automobiles
from the factory, because the railroads can't handle them. And, mind
you, they're a necessity. They relieve the strain of suburban railway
traffic. Men in every other line of necessary business are up against
the same thing. So I'm doing my part to relieve the situation by riding
in a light day coach, which seats a hundred or so passengers instead of
a heavy Pullman, which seats maybe forty."

E. Van Tenner glowed inwardly with self-satisfaction in that he had
taken the unaccustomed and plebeian coach. He felt sure that the
beggar's purse would warmly approve of Welland, When that gentlemen,
on his suggestion, moved forward to share his seat he anticipated a
pleasanter journey than he would have enjoyed in the parlor car. On the
outskirts of the city the train was halted for a minute. Welland pointed
out of the window to a great mass of scrap iron which was being
pulled apart and loaded on flat cars by a busy gang of workers. To his
astonishment he perceived that the workers were women.

"You see that," said his companion. "Why do you think they put women on
such rough work?"

"Because they can be had for lower wages, I suppose."

"Not at all. They're getting men's pay; have been for months. I saw the
advertisements in the papers, offering it. No, sir! It's because the
railroad can't find men enough. Yet back in the parlor car there's a
husky roust-about picking up towels and flicking dust off chair backs
for tips, while those women hustle iron. He gets none of my money!"

The trip to New York was exceptionally brief, E. Van Tenner thought. At
the terminus two Red-Caps swooped upon Welland and himself, only to be
repelled in disorder.

"As long as women handle bulk metal I guess I can carry my own suit
case," observed Welland, stepping easily along under the burden of
a week-end trunk. "You've no idea how much good muscle one puts on,
juggling weights like this. Regular traveling gymnasium. Well; here's
where I leave you."

Bidding his companion good-by E. Van Tenner committed the following
entry to his celluloid:


He made his way to the outer air, where a waiting chorus celebrated his
arrival by bursting, full-throated, into song:

"Taxi! Taxi! Taxi, sir! Taxi t'yer hotel. Here y'are, taxi!" The
familiar sounds led him unthinkingly to the nearest cab, operated by a
youthful bruiser with the arms of an ape and the jaw of an alligator.

"Where to?" he growled.

E. Van Tenner laid a hand on his purse, drew it forth and----

"What's the good?" it demanded in black and authoritative print.

"How much to the Hotel Von Gorder?"

"'Bout forty cents," returned the tough, as one disdaining such petty

"Thank you," returned E. Van Tenner politely, and entered the amount on
his tablet. "I'll walk."

"Walk!" bellowed the outraged chauffeur. "Whaddaya tryin' to do--kid

The protrusive jaw was thrust up under E. Van Tenner's retiring nose.

The small, greenish eyes bored into his. "Yuh took me," snarled their
owner. "Now gidin!"

Ordinarily a pacifist in all personal relations E. Van Tenner would,
unsupported by ulterior influences, have meekly obeyed rather than risk
a verbal or possibly physical encounter. But magic is magic and will
carry him whom it upholds by its might through the imminent deadly
breach even to the cabby's mouth. Something tingled upward from the
hand that held the beggar's purse; something that snapped back E. Van
Tenner's spare shoulders to a springy squareness and fired his brain and
nerved his voice; and with unutterable surprise he heard himself speak
in tones that were more than peremptory, that had the flick and sting of
a military command: "Where is your draft registration card?" The red and
savage face turned pallid and receded. The gorilla frame drooped away,
then gathered itself and sprang--not upon E. Van Tenner but upon the
driver's seat of the taxi, which straightway departed with snorts of
pain and terror.

"Well, well!" thought E. Van Tenner, inexpressibly shocked at his
newself. "In another moment I should have hit that fellow upon the nose.
I am sure that I should."

A wild, infuriated yell from the motorman of a cable car, which the
routed taxi had missed by a scant inch, drew E. Van Tenner's eyes to
the legend on the car, which, he perceived, ran within one block of his
hotel. To save time he jumped aboard, and reached his destination as
quickly as he would have done in the taxicab. On the way he corrected
his entry by deducting five cents for fare; then on reflection added
fifteen cents as the probable tip to the chauffeur, this representing
the sheer blackmail of the dread of being considered a short sport. At
the journey's end his account read:

     Station porter               $0.15
     Parlor car                     .55
     Pullman porter                 .25
     Red-Cap                        .15
     Cable car vs. taxi             .35
     Chauffeur's blackmail          .15

Making a promising total of $1.60 already. E. Van Tenner perceived that
instead of by a beggar he had been visited by one who was perhaps
a prophet. The last item in the account particularly pleased the
accountant. He began to suspect that much of the change that he
systematically dribbled out was simply the blackmail paid by vanity to
extortion. At once he was to meet with a double verification of this. At
the hotel desk he asked for room with bath.

"Something about five dollars, Mister--er--er?" inquired the official
behind the register.

"Yes," assented E. Van Tenner, and instantly felt a pang in the purse.
"That is--ah--haven't you anything for four dollars?"

"Oh, yes; we have some as low as that," returned the clerk
superciliously; "if----"

He left unfinished a conditional clause that obviously was designed to
conclude--"you don't feel that you can afford a good room." So frail was
E. Van Tenner's humanity--let him that is without vanity cast the first
stone--that he hesitated. He didn't dare take out the beggar's purse
and look it in the face. But, then, neither did he dare look the
supercilious hotel clerk in the face; that is, until----

"Reservation for J. Q. Smith; room and bath, three dollars," said a
brisk newcomer at his side; and another clerk answered promptly: "Yes,
Mr. Smith; Room 1118."

"I'll take the four-dollar room," said E. Van Tenner firmly; and the
clerk, whose supercilious expression was worth thousands per year to
the hotel, admitted defeat for once and said: "Very well; will you go up

No; he decided that he would lunch at once; but first he would wash up.
In the washroom he was beset by a human bluebottle who buzzed round him
with a futile and superfluous whisk broom, despite his protests, and all
but blocked his way when he sought an egress without paying for it in
the form of a tip. But the spirit in the purse was having its way with
E. Van Tenner now, and an inspired inquiry as to whether the brush
brigand was of military age removed him from the path.

The next obstacle was more formidable. The door of the café was guarded
by two young and unbeautiful descendants of the horseleech's daughters.
Always before he had contributed automatically in response to their
unspoken "Give! Give!" though he knew that he was only enriching
some unknown capitalist in the background who rented this particular
blackmailing privilege from the hotel for eight thousand dollars per
year. But--what would the fearsome beggar's purse say or do should he
attempt to extract the minimum of ten cents to protect him from their
cackle of disdain? Fortified as he was he could now face the contempt
of man but not of these befrizzled Amazons. Yet to pass them while
retaining possession of hat and coat was impossible. Already their
grasping hands were extended for his apparel. E. Van Tenner turned and

Do not assume, however, that his retreat was caused by cowardice alone.
Ingenuity, doubtless instigated by the beggar's purse, is entitled to
half credit. E. Van Tenner took the elevator--free--to his room and hung
his hat and coat--gratis--in the clothes press. The room, he noted with
satisfaction, was precisely the same as the five-dollar variety except
that it was a few floors higher. He entered one dollar saved on room,
ten cents each on washroom and coat check; and descending passed,
unarmored but unscathed, the gantlet of the disarmed horseleech's
great-granddaughters. Already his total was two dollars and eighty
cents. Good progress toward one stamp!

Upon his return to the room to resume his cast-off garments some
indefinite discomfort in the region of his left big toe attracted E.
Van Tenner's unfavorable notice. Could the magic wallet have established
connections in that quarter? It seemed highly improbable. Investigation
supplied a simpler reason--a large hole yawned in his sock. A block
distant was a high-class department store. Thither he made his way,
and was presently applying a rather exigent taste in hosiery to the
consideration of some chastely fancy designs in striped silk. Three
dollars was about his usual price. But, came the chilling thought, what
would the purse say or do? Tentatively he drew it forth. It made no
protest. The legend "What's the good?" had lost its accusing aspect.

"After all," reflected E. Van Tenner, "the beggar said that I wasn't to
scrimp myself." Then to the clerk: "I'll take this pair."

Still maintaining, strict neutrality the wallet gave of its wealth. He
returned it to his breast pocket.

"Will you take them with you, sir?" asked the salesman.

"No. Send them to----Ouch!"

"To where?" The man lifted startled eyes above a poised pencil.

"I'll have them sent to the----Ugh!"

It was most astounding! The magic purse, quiescent during the deal, was
now catching at his breath like an ice-water douche over the heart. Had
it gone back on the bargain? Must he give up those chaste yet sprightly
socks? Not without a struggle.

"Could you deliver them this afternoon?"

"We could if it isn't too far."

"Then have them sent to----Oh, Lord! No use!"

"Are you ill, sir?" asked the floorwalker, approaching anxiously.

Some unknown incitement forced a question to E. Van Tenner's lips: "See
here, does it cost you anything to deliver goods?"

"Certainly. In time and labor from twelve cents per package upward."

So that was it! The magic was working beyond the limits of his own
exchequer. Obviously it didn't propose to sit by and watch him waste
anybody's money, even a store's.

"I'll take them with me," said he. "Thank you, sir," said the floorman.

As he departed with his purchase E. Van Tenner felt a sensation as if
a very soft and satisfied kitten were purring against his chest. "All
right," said he, speaking down his shirt front; "but don't you get too
dictatorial." Business took up the rest of the afternoon; business in
which the purse played an honorable and unprotesting part, though its
course at one point called for a taxi expenditure of something more than
two dollars. That, however, was to save necessary time. E. Van Tenner
was relieved to find the magic receptacle so reasonable. He began
to feel that he could live on terms of amity and confidence with it
indefinitely. But when he came to pay the chauffeur the wallet produced
the exact amount with a precision that he could not but feel to be
significant. In vain did he search for a tip.

"What's the good?" demanded his mentor. "What's the good of making a
present to a man in whom you have no possible interest and who hasn't
done anything that he isn't paid to do by his employer?"

"Not the slightest," admitted E. Van Tenner in the face of the disgusted
taxi man; and even added cheerfully: "That's the precise amount, I

So swiftly and blithely does one become hardened to impotent scorn! Thus
was twenty-five cents added to the mounting record.

His evening was free. He decided upon a light and hasty dinner, followed
by the theater--if the magical arbiter would permit. By repeating his
simple expedient of leaving his outer apparel in his room he eluded the
coat-check impost, and genially smiled at the disgruntled Amazons, who
seemed to be asking each other whether this comparatively nude intruder
had perhaps pawned his overcoat.

"Dry Martini," ordered E. Van Tenner upon seating himself. Instantly and
miraculously the beggar's wallet seemed to have dropped from his
vest pocket to the pit of his stomach, upon which it pressed with a
destructive insistence.

"Wait a moment!" said its proprietor slave hastily to the waiter; then
added in a low but indignant undertone: "See here! It isn't your affair
to censor my morals and habits. You're a committee on finance, and
that's all!" He plucked forth the purse into the light of day. "What's
the good?" it inquired with an air of sweet reasonableness.

E. Van Tenner reflected. After all, what was the good? Either he had an
appetite for dinner, in which case he didn't need the cocktail; or else
he needed the cocktail to create an appetite for dinner, in which case
it was high time that he quit the habit. Hadn't the beggar distinctly
told him that he needn't give up anything which he would'nt be better
off without. "Never mind the Martini," said he wearily? During dinner he
looked over the theatrical advertisements in his paper, and hesitating
between those classically named productions whereto a discriminating
public taste is addressed, Atta Boy, Oh, Slush, and Gertie's Green
Garters, fixed upon the latter. He must now retrieve his coat and hat,
upon which he had saved another dime. Ascending to his room he switched
on the lights, got into his outer garments, locked his door and started
for the elevator. A slight but insistent cramp in the pocketbook halted
him. What could that mean? He wasn't spending any money. If it was a
protest against theatergoing it was premature. Let it wait till he got
to the theater! He started again, and caught his breath over a more
pronounced pang. His eyes, turning upward, were arrested by the glowing
glass of his transom. To be sure! He had left the lights on, thereby
wasting coal for the hotel--upon which he had already saved a dollar and
fifty-five cents.

"You are certainly some little economist!" he murmured to the occupant
of his pocket as he returned and left the room in darkness.

At the theater a ducal personage behind a grille negligently informed
him that there was nothing available in the orchestra before a week from
Wednesday; but an undistinguished individual in the lobby--who may
or may not have been there for that very purpose--mentioned that the
Bilbosh Agency had some good seats. Thither went E. Van Tenner. Yes;
the agency had a few seats left. There was one in the eighth row,
three dollars and thirty cents, please. At the mention of the price the
beggar's purse leaped from E. Van Tenner's hand and fell flat on its
face upon the floor.

E. Van Tenner took it forth and gave it air. Now in our amiable and
easy-going bachelor there was a definite streak of obstinacy. He had
undertaken to see Gertie's Green Garters and see it he would, always
assuming that the magic receptacle would permit. He retraced his steps
to the theater, retired to a corner of the lobby and drew forth the
chancellor of his exchequer.

"What's the good?" it questioned. But the effect was that of inquiry,
not of challenge.

"The good is that I've done a day's work and am entitled to some
amusement. What's the harm?"

The beggar's purse appeared to accept this view complaisantly. Back to
the ticket window stepped E. Van Tenner.

"What is the best seat you have for tonight?" he asked the duke of the
diagram. "Tenth row in the balcony; one sixty-five."

"Can you see the stage from it?"

"Oh, yes," replied the duke wearily. "You can see the stage." His tone,
aimed at the inquirer's vanity, commented: "If you're the kind of cheap
person who goes into the balcony." But E. Van Tenner's vanity was now
armored like the tropic ant-eater.

"I'll take it," he said; and the beggars purse opened automatically.

Rather to his surprise he found that his view of the play was just as
unobstructed as in the orchestra seats to which he had been accustomed;
and his hearing was much less interrupted--not to mention the fact that
he had saved one dollar and sixty-five cents at one fell swoop. Thus he
felt justified at the close of the performance in stopping for a bite of
supper. A flaring light directed him to a place where, all too late, the
frantic dissonances of a jazz band burst upon his shocked ears. Before
he could retreat a coat-room attendant had his garments in pawn.
Perforce he must go forward. As he dropped into a gilded and fragile
chair a pair of ample ladies, wearing carefully greased evening gowns,
appeared upon the stage and burst into metallic shrieks, supported by
the musical spasm of the orchestra. E. Van Tenner essayed to forget his
sufferings in contemplation of the menu--and got a fresh shock. He had
seen prices before, but never such prices as these. Even without the
magic purse he was sure that they would have given him pause. As for the
purse, he did not dare bring it out in sight of that array of figures.
Something light, a bit of fish and some stuffed green peppers, he had
thought to order. The fish were evidently goldfish; solid gold at that.
As for the peppers, his eyes encountered this legend:

Green peppers (1) stuffed with rice and tomato--80 cents.

At first he thought it a misprint; it must be thirty cents; or possibly
fifty. Consideration of the other vegetables dispelled that hope. They
were on an equal scale. But--eighty cents for one green pepper! Was
there, then, a fatal shortage in the green-pepper market? Or a crop
failure in the rice or tomatoes whereof the stuffing was compounded?

     "Cut it short!
     Be a sport!
     Buy a quart!"

shrieked the songsters, coyly adjusting their shoulder straps.

Enlightenment burst upon E. Van Tenner. The prices of the menu,
suggesting the daily stock market report before the depression, became
clear. Somehow that awful vocality and the hardly less agonizing
accompaniment had to be paid for. His green pepper at eighty cents was
to pay for it. It was stuffed, that green pepper, not with rice and
tomato but with ragtime jazzeries and syncopated shrieks. E. Van Tenner
laid the menu on the table and would have risen and escaped, but there
hovered over him, portentous and awful, the head waiter himself.

"You haf ordered?" he inquired.

"I--that is--no; I think I won't order this evening," quavered the

"There is a table charch of one dollar," said the official severely.

E. Van Tenner, overawed, reached for the beggar's purse. It flatly
refused to open. As the owner strove with it there was instilled into
his veins a calm and chill determination, born of a discovery that he
had made--or had the purse magically indicated it?--regarding the menu.

"I shall not pay it," he said quietly.

"You shouldt haf to pay it." The head waiter's threatening tone took on
a little more pronounced accent.

"You're a German, aren't you?" inquired E. Van Tenner blandly.

"Dot is my bisaness," retorted the other excitedly. "You pay dot table

"No; I shall not pay the table charge. But I will do this: I will pay
you one dollar for that menu card, which, I observe, has on it two,
four, seven, eleven--eleven different kinds of meat, on a Meatless
Tuesday! Come; what do you say?"

The head waiter said nothing. His jaw dropped. He put his hand to
his chin undecidedly, then turned and fled, taking the card with him.
Glowing with virtue--which, after all, was the purse's, not his--E.
Van Tenner departed, not even tipping the coat-room attendant, to such
heights was his courage inspired, and found a chop-house where he supped
excellently on a strict Hoover basis, and entered an estimated saving of
eighty-five cents, and ten cents extra for the defrauded hat boy.

All that night he slept the deep, sweet sleep of one justified of good
deeds. The beggar's purse, at least equally justified, slept equally
well under his pillow. In the morning it started work for him again.
It saved him the usual coat-room charge, and rudely checked his mildly
emotional impulse to drop a quarter in the tin cup of a pitiable and
shivering mendicant cripple who owns two tenement houses on the
East Side and has amassed a small fortune by distraining on tenants'
furniture. He hardly knew whether to repeat the entry on the morning's
taxi or not, since he felt it already a habit not to hire a cab when
he could conveniently take a car. But he was clearly to the good on one
item of a quarter, when in carrying his grip from the elevator he was
charged upon by a livered youth. Horror was writ large in that youth's
face; horror that a guest of the golden Von Gorder should carry a grip
weighing almost four pounds across ten yards of floor alone and unaided.
As Christian strove with Apollyon so strove E. Van Tenner with the
liveried youth for that grip, which he finally delivered safe out of the
enemy's hands, and himself bore, triumphant, to the street car.

In the returning train, where he won to the day coach through the
stricken hopes of the embattled Red-Caps, he figured out his day's
savings to date as follows:

   Station porter............................................$0.15
   Parlor car...................................................55
   Pullman porter...............................................25
   Cable car vs. taxi...........................................35
   Chauffeur's blackmail........................................15
   Pride of hotel room that went before a fall in price.......1.00
   Washroom hold-up.............................................10
   Coat check...................................................10
   2d Chauffeur's supertax......................................25
   Cocktail forgone.............................................25
   3 Check-room petty larcenies.................................30
   1 Theater-ticket-agency grand larceny......................1.65
   Cabaret highway robbery......................................85
   Victory in wrestling match with hall boy.....................25
   Cripple's curse..............................................25
   Cable car vs. taxi [he decided to put it in, including tip] .50
   Triumph in footrace with Red-Caps............................15
   Parlor-car fare and tip......................................80

   Making a grand, impressive, but insufficient total of.....$8.05

Insufficient, because two of the beggar's War Savings Stamps would cost
$8.28. At the Philadelphia terminus he would save fifteen cents more
of his accustomed expenditure by dispensing with the porter's service.
Still he would be eight cents short of the total. Suddenly E. Van Tenner
felt himself bitterly disappointed. The zest of the game had got into
his veins. Had he braved hotel clerks, striven with bell boys, bearded
head waiters and outfooted the fleet and determined Red-Cap only to fail
in sight of the goal?

Perish the----"Evening papers! All the magazines! Here y'are before the
train starts."

"Evening Sentinel and Sat--" began E. Van Tenner, and dropped his voice
and the beggar's purse simultaneously. "Never mind. Don't want--I mean
need--'em." For here was his eight cents saved! With a triumphing
heart he retrieved the wallet, took out the pencil and entered upon
the celluloid tablet the final and victorious eight cents--that is, he
thought he had entered it. But lo! the line upon which he had written
remained blank. He examined the pencil.

Its point was perfect. The celluloid surface invited it. Again he
essayed to set down the consummating eight cents. It was as if he had
written with a wand upon water.

"This is not white but black magic," said E. Van Tenner, appalled.

In response there came back to him again the words of the beggar: "What
you save on current expenses without giving up anything that you need or
want or aren't better off without." Obviously, then, the beggar's purse
was backing up the beggar's undertaking. It considered that he was
better off with than without his favorite reading. E. Van Tenner pursued
the boy and spent the eight cents.

All the way back to Philadelphia, however, his mind reverted painfully
to the problem. In vain did he pass up a subsequent train boy's
blandishments on the subject of chocolate; he never ate chocolate. The
sensitive tablet refused to be gulled into accepting an entry on any
such pretext. Equally idle was it to pretend that he might have given a
quarter instead of fifteen cents to the porter at Philadelphia. Fifteen
cents was his un erringly methodical tip. To make matters worse
the train was nearly an hour late. Consequently there would be no
opportunity of further saving; not even eight cents.

Heavy-hearted he disembarked. The beggar had asked to be informed about
the experiment. Well; he'd tell him. Too bad! Might as well get it over
with. And there was only ten minutes' leeway. He'd phone from that
hotel opposite. Possibly the beggar could, of his magic, evolve some
last-moment plan. So approaching the telephone girl he began: "Broad,
Four-four----" and gasped.

The beggar's purse had stirred. It had more than stirred. It had
flopped. It was now doing more than flopping. It was turning frantic
handsprings in his pocket.

"Never mind that call," said the perturbed E. Van Tenner. "I'll--I'll

The beggar's purse settled down and went to sleep.

"How--how much would that call have been?" asked E. Van Tenner

"Local. Ten cents."

"And a letter--no, a postal card--is two cents. That's eight cents
saved. The exact amount! Gimme a postal card. No; I don't need to write.
I'll save the whole ten cents and be two cents to the good. I've done
it! I've done it! Whoopee!" said E. Van Tenner, dancing upon the marble

"Police!" said the telephone girl.

With the purpose of calling up the beggar on his own phone, free of
charge, E. Van Tenner hurried joyously to his office. The beggar was
there awaiting him.

"Well?" said he.

"Yes," said E. Van Tenner.

"Two stamps?"

"And two cents over for a third. The magic worked."

"What about the price of the lessons?"


"Haven't you learned anything in the last twenty-four hours?"

E. Van Tenner considered. "I've learned that every time I spend a
dollar I spend an extra quarter for vanity and a dime for timidity. I've
learned how to go without things I don't want, and to stop doing
things I dislike myself for doing. I've learned the difference between
parsimony and thrift."

"Is it worth anything to you?" insinuated the worker of white magic.

"How many stamps can I take?"

"One hundred and ninety-eight more. That'll make your total investment
$828 and it'll bring you in $1000 at maturity."

"I'll buy." Thus did E. Van Tenner, exwaster, join the Take-the-Limit

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "The Beggar's Purse - A Fairy Tale of Familiar Finance" ***

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