Billy Baxter's Letters
William J. Kountz, Jr.
Billy Baxter's Letters
By William J. Kountz, Jr.
In New York
Johnny Black's Girl
In presenting this work, we believe that an explanation is
due the reader as to why the letters are given in their present
form at this time.
The first book published, "One Night," was "issued by The Duquesne
Distributing Company to show its great love for the American
people, and to incidentally advertise the 'R--R--S--.'" Its
success was immediate.
"In Society" appeared February 1, 1899, and scored as promptly
as "One Night." The demand for the booklets was phenomenal, and
Mr. Kountz received thousands of friendly letters applauding
him for his humor. He also received flattering offers from the
leading comic weeklies, the metropolitan dailies, and great
advertisers throughout the Union. He declined them all, being
primarily a business man, and carrying literature only as a
On May 1st "In Love" was given to the public, with the promise
that "In New York" would follow on October Ist. On the evening
of August 9th, William J. Kountz, Jr., turned to the writer of
this preface, and referring to "In New York," said: "Well, I'm
through, all but going over it." He never returned to his office,
and on August 18th he died in the room where he was born not
quite thirty-two years before.
We then conceived the idea of putting the letters out in their
present form, as a last tribute to the author, who in less than
a year's work lifted himself into a place among the nation's
We have reproduced only such of the prefaces and advertisements
as have been widely discussed for their humorous quality, and
which the author's friends insisted should no be omitted.
The two heretofore unmentioned letters were discovered after
the author's death, and are published in the rough, as they
were found. "Out Hunting" is based on a trip which actually
took place, and from personal knowledge contains a good deal
of fact. It was doubtless written before "One Night," and for
that reason is given priority in the arrangement.
"Johnny Black's Girl" is merely a scrap, and is inserted as
such. It shows, however, that the author had a "tear for pity"
as well as an eye for the ridiculous.
Geo. McC. Kountz.
Pittsburg, September 1, 1898.
I am just back from St. Paul, where I spent a couple of days
with Teddy Worthington. Teddy and Bud Hathaway of Chicago were
going on a shooting trip in the Big Woods of Minnesota, and they
asked me to go with them. It was new deal for me, so of course I
was for it. I hired a hammerless breech-loader for seven a week,
borrowed a lot of fishing-tackle, and bought a hunting-knife with
a nickel-plated handle. It was a beaut, and stood me three fifty.
A fellow can never be too careful. Up there you are likely any
minute to come face to face with an Apache or some old left-over
Aztec rubbering around among the trees.
At the last minute Bud Hathaway's father had to die, so just Teddy
and myself went. After we left the train we rode twenty miles in
a wagon to Freshwater Lake, which was our destination. The house
where we stayed was kept by a half-breed guide named Sarpo, and
with him lived his two sons and his second wife, who was a young
white girl, and not a bad looker at that.
The next morning we started out after ducks. I made a horrible
bluff that I was one of the old boys at the business, and that
I was on to everything--till it came to loading my hammerless,
and there's where I went to the bad. I couldn't get the blamed
thing open. Teddy handed me a few of his kind little remarks,
and I got back at him with something personal. He got sore. No
thoroughbred kidder would have grown personal, but I couldn't
think of anything else at the time. There was nothing stirring
in the duck line, and for two hours we sat all hunched up in a
little boat among a lot of weeds. It was getting to be a sad
affair for me, and I was thinking of Atlantic City, and the bands
of music, and the swell dances, and trying to figure where these
hunters have the fun they are always coming home and talking
about, when suddenly along came a drove of ducks. On the square,
there must have been a million. The other members of the party
began picking them off, but your Uncle Bill is one of those wise
shooters. I waited till they were right over my head. Say! they
were so thick I couldn't see the sky. I let go with the first
barrel, right into the center of the bunch. Nit duck. Then the
second barrel went off of its own accord. I'll swear, Jim, I had
nothing whatever to do with it. Anyway, nit duck. I think if I'd
had three barrels on that gun I would have nailed a duck, a duck
and a half, or two ducks, as I was just getting good. I loaded
up, and I must have been flustered a bit, as I blew one of the
decoys clear into the next block.
Then things again assumed their usual hunter's attitude, and
after sitting for another hour we paddled over to our sail-boat
and started down the lake for the house. It was blowing pretty
hard, and the sky was blacker than Pittsburg. The skipper said
something about a squall, but it didn't hit us until we were
about two hundred yards from the dock. Then we got it, and got
it good. It was buttercups and daisies. Thunder, lightning, rain,
and all the side dishes. I'd have given eight dollars to have
seen a cable car coming along about that time. The skipper yelled
to me to ease off the larboard stay. Now, I might know something
about mince pie, but a larboard stay is not my long and hasty.
Then some one pushed me aside, and succeeded in putting things
in such excellent shape that we ran plumb through the dock. It
That night we sat around, and Sarpo and his sons told some funny
stories. My, but they were to the saddings! I told one of my best,
and nobody filtered but Teddy.
The next morning at five we took the dogs and started out after
deer. They have what they call run-ways or deer passes, and the
deer always go the same route. They ought to have better sense,
although as far as I am concerned they are perfectly safe. They
put me on one of the passes, behind a lot of underbrush. Well,
I sat and sat until I went to sleep, but I slept with one eye
open. Deadwood Dick and all the great scouts and trappers had the
one-eye-open habit. I was awakened by hearing something crack,
and there standing about twenty feet away with its side turned
to me was a deer. It must have belonged to the fair sex, as it
had no horns. Talk about shaking! I would have shaken my best
friend. I finally pulled myself together, and remembering the
ducks, I let her have both barrels at once. She kicked her feet
up in the air, turned her head, and on the level, she gave me
the laugh and cut into the woods. I believe she saw me all the
time, and knew I was a lobster.
On the way back, I met the half-breed, and we walked together.
On reaching the house we happened to glance through the window,
and there was Teddy with his arm around the young wife's waist.
Teddy always was a rubber. It was lovely cards for a while, and
Teddy worked the old gag that he was showing her how they did in
a play, but she wasn't wise enough to follow it up, so we had to
While returning on the train I made the horrible discovery that
I had been using my buckshot on the ducks and my birdshot on the
deer. I can see how the deer got away, but I'll say one thing,
and that is, that if a passing duck had ever reached his mitt out
for one of those buckshot he would have thought Rusie was doing
the pitching. He would have got it fine and daisy.
I am not for the country. They have ticks, jiggers, and gnats,
all doing a nice conservative business at once. You never had
a tick on you, did you, Jim? Well, a tick is a very busy little
cup of tea. First, he'll crawl all over you, and then select a
spot on the back directly between the shoulder blades, where you
can't reach him. I talked to a man who was up on ticks, and he
said a tick was wiser than a bedbug. Now, you take a bedbug whose
head is perfectly clear, and who hasn't been drinking or smoking
too much, and there won't be many men on Wall Street much wiser
than he is. Well, after a tick gets his place picked out he
burrows in under the skin, then dies and festers. You wouldn't
catch a bedbug standing for that martyr game.
There should be some kind of a law against gnats. About two
hundred of them will stay right in front of your eyes until one
of them gets an opening; then he'll cut in and land a jab, and
the other hundred and ninety-nine will give you the Big Minnehaha.
I had so many lumps on me when I got back to St. Paul that they
called me Pneumatic Willie.
Talk about your sylvan dells and sweet-scented fragrance! Why,
an asphalt street has a sylvan dell skinned to death, and a
twelve-percent soap factory is sweet enough for me.
Yours as ever,
P. S.--Good night. I'm for the sleeps.
A Kind of a Preface
The Baxter Letters are written in the up-to-date slang of the
day, by one who has seen several of the sides of life, and who
has also come in contact with a few of the corners.
We will mail "One Night" to any address in North America upon
receipt of four cents* in postage. Do not lick stamps and attach
to letter of request, as at some future date we may wish to use
same, and the Government foolishly requires a whole stamp.
As there are several people in the United States with whom we
are not personally acquainted, and not being mind-readers, we
ask that all signatures be written plainly.
* This offer is superseded by the publication of this volume.
Admiral Dewey's Letter
In November, 1898 we sent Admiral Dewey a copy of "One Night."
The appended letter is photographed from the original reply
addressed to the president of our company, which was received
March 9, 1899.
Accept my best thanks for the book (One Night) which you were
good enough to send me.
We also sent a copy to His Royal Highness, Albert, Prince of
Wales, and, having heard nothing from him, it now looks as
though Al were going to snob us. Under the circumstances, when
he runs for King we can't be for him.
Pittsburg, PA., August, 189-.
You remember I wrote you about a sack suit I ordered last week.
Well, it came yesterday, and you know the finish. Why can't a
fellow put on a new suit, make a few calls, and go home like a
gentleman? The minute I got into that suit, I fell off the water
wagon with an awful bump, although I hadn't touched a drink for
thirty-seven days. Oh! But I got a lovely bun on. That's the last.
No more for me. There's nothing in it. If anybody says, "Have
something, Billy," you'll see your Uncle Bill take to the trees.
Yesterday at 2:30 I had a hundred and ten dollars; this morning
I'm there with a dollar eighty, and that's the draw out of a
two-dollar touch. If there is any truth in the old saying that
money talks, I am certainly deaf and dumb to-day. Besides I have
a card in my pocket which says I've opened up a running account
of thirty-two forty at George's place. I wonder if this George
is on the level, because I'll swear I don't think I was in there
at all. I'll bet he stuck the forty on anyway. You know me, Jim;
I am one of those bright people who tries to keep up with a lot
of guys who have nothing to do but blow their coin. I stood around
yesterday and looked wise, and licked up about four high-balls;
then I kind of stretched. Whenever I give one of those little
stretches and swell up a bit that's a sign I am commencing to
get wealthy. I switched over and took a couple of gin fizzes,
and then it hit me I was richer than Jay Gould ever was; I had
the Rothschilds backed clear off the board; and I made William
H. Vanderbilt look like a hundred-to-one shot. You understand,
Jim, this was yesterday. I got a little red spot in each cheek,
and then I leaned over the bar and whispered, "Mr. Bartender,
break a bottle of that Pommery." Ordinarily I call the booze
clerk by his first name, but when you are cutting into the grape
at four dollars per, you always want to say Mr. Bartender, and
you should always whisper, or just nod your head each time you
open a new bottle, as it makes it appear as though you were
accustomed to ordering wine. You see, Jim, that's where I go off
my dip. That wine affair is an awful stunt for a fellow who makes
not over two thousand a year, carries ten thousand life, and rooms
in a flat that's fifteen a month stronger than he can stand. But
to continue, I lost the push I started out with, and got mixed
up with a fellow named Thorne, or Thorpe, or something like that,
and we got along great for a while. He knew a lot of fellows in
Boston that I did, and every time we struck a new mutual friend
we opened another bottle. I don't know just what the total
population of Boston is, but we must have known everybody there.
Finally Thorne got to crying because his mother had died. You
know I am a good fellow, so I cried, too. I always cry some time
during a bat, and there was an opening for your life. I cried so
hard that the bartender had to ask me to stop three different
times. I made Niobe look like a two spot. Between sobs I asked
him about the sad affair, and found that his mother had died
when he was born. I guess it had just struck him. Then there
I had wasted a wad of cries that would float the Maine, and I was
sore for fair. A fat fellow cut into the argument, and some one
soaked him in the eye, and then, as they say in Texas, "there was
three minutes rough house." In the general bustle a seedy looking
man pinched the Fresh Air Fund, box and all. You know I'm not much
for the bat cave, and to avoid such after-complications as patrol
wagons and things, I blew the bunch and started up street. I guess
the wind must have been against me, as I was tacking.
I met Johnny Black, and he was going to keep a date with a couple
of swell heiresses at one of the hotel dining-rooms. I saw them
on the street to-day, and they won't do. One of them wore an
amethyst ring that weighed about sixty carats, and the other
had on white slippers covered with little beads.
I don't know anything about them, but I'll gamble that they are
the kind of people that have pictures of the family and wreaths
in the parlor. They looked fine and daisy last night, though.
Probably the grape. My girl's name was Estelle. Wouldn't that
scald you? Estelle handed me a lot of talk about having seen
me on the street for the last two years, and how she had always
been dying to meet me, and I got swelled up and bought wine like
a horse owner. Johnny was shaking his head and motioning for me
to chop, but what cared I? Estelle was saying, "He done it,"
"I seen it," and "Usen't you?" right along, but the grape stood
Estelle's friend was talking about her piano, and how hard it
was to get good servants nowadays, and say, Jim, I've heard
knockers in my time, but Estelle is the original leader of the
anvil chorus. She just put everybody in town on the pan and
roasted them to a whisper. She could build the best battleship
Dewey ever saw with her little hammer. Estelle's friend, after
much urging, then sang a pathetic ballad entitled, "She Should
Be Scolded, but Not Turned Adrift," and I sat there with one
eye shut, so that I could see single, and kept saying, "Per'fly
About this time I commenced to forget. I remember getting an
awful rise out of Estelle by remarking that her switch didn't
match her hair. She came up like a human yeast cake. Johnny
sided with the dame, and said I might at least try to act like
a gentleman, even if I weren't one. Perhaps the grape wasn't
getting to Johnny by this time. He was nobby and boss. He was
dropping his r's like a Southerner, and you know how much of a
Southerner Johnny is--Johnstown, Pa.; and he was hollering around
about his little three-year-old, standard-bred, and registered
bay mare out of Highland Belle, by Homer Wilkes, with a mark of
twenty-one, that could out-trot any thing of her age that ever
champed a bit. Did you get that, Jim? That ever champed a bit;
and still he said at noon to-day that he had had two, possibly
three, glasses of wine, but no more. The only way that mare of
Johnny's can go a mile in twenty-one is "In the Baggage Coach
Say, Jim, I've never said much about it, but you let any of these
fellows who own horses get a soak on, and they get to be a kind
of a village pest, with their talk about blowing up in the stretch,
shoe blisters on the left forearm, etc. Now, since when did a horse
get an arm? They have got me winging. I can't follow them at all.
But to return to last night. When Johnny threw that thing at me
about champing the bit, it was all off to Buffalo with little
Will. I went out of business right there.
When I got up this morning I had to ask the bellboy what hotel
I was in. I'll see the fellows to-night, and they'll all tell me
how dirty my face was, and what I called so and so, and make me
feel as bad as they possibly can. It's a wonder a fellow doesn't
get used to that, but I never do; I feel meaner each time. Guess
I'll take the veil.
Don't fail to come down Saturday. Several of us are going yachting
on the Ohio River. It will be lovely billiards.
Yours as ever,
P. S.--Do you know anything about that George's place?
Sometimes you eat too much, sometimes you drink too much, and
sometimes you do both. In any event, you feel like the very old
scratch the next morning. Too much liquor overheats the blood.
Too much food, and the liver goes on a strike. The first remedy
which should suggest itself is a purgative which will act on the
liver, and cleanse the system of all the indigestible junk with
which it has been overtaxed. This is positively the foundation
for permanent relief. The next thing is to cool the blood. Now,
isn't it common horse sense?
Think it over.
The R--R-- is the only water which acts on the liver. It's base
is sodium phosphate.
The R--R-- is the only water which cools the blood, Overheated blood is what
causes the pressure on the head.
The R--R-- is the only pleasant-tasting aperient water of any
strength on the market to-day.
We have stumbled onto a good thing, and we've got the money to
You remember the man who at breakfast said: "Waiter, bring me
about ten grains of oatmeal, and put stickers on it so that it
will stay down; and say, waiter, please look as pleasant as
possible, for I feel like h--l."
Well, that's how a person's stomach gets some mornings.
If you are going to drink an aperient, why try to force down a
water that is warm, and tastes like a lot of bad eggs, doesn't
touch your liver, and won't cool your blood, when you can get
the R--R--, cold and sparkling and pleasant, which will do all
If you are annoyed with constipation, stomach or liver trouble,
use as your system dictates, and see bow much better you feel.
It can't hurt you. Best before breakfast.
In presenting "In Society," we are confident of success. Upon
"One Night" comment is unnecessary. A bona fide demand for nearly
250,000 copies in less than three months speaks for itself. In
inclosing stamps for books, our men readers who will join the
"Union" mentioned on page 36 will so state. No names attached to
such communications will be published. The partial description
of the Grand Opera "Die Walkure" in this book is given precisely
as it occurred; and although the up-to-date slang used might
suggest exaggeration, such is really not the case. Again we ask
that your name be written plainly. This caution is not addressed
to the women. We have given up all hope of ever getting a readable
signature from a woman. Don't think for a moment that we have
anything against the women. Heaven forbid! We merely say that
if there is a woman in the United States who can write plainly,
that particular woman hasn't written us yet.
Pittsburg, Pa., Feb. 1, 1899.
There is no new scandal worth mentioning. What I started to write
you about was Hemingway's duplicate whist party which was pulled
off last night. I had a bid, and as there was nothing else stirring,
I put on that boy's size dress suit of mine, and blew out there.
Jim, you know the signs you see on the dummies in front of these
little Yiddisher stores, "Take me home for $io.98," or "I used
to be $6.21, now I'm yours for $3.39." Well, that's your Uncle
Bill in a dress suit. Every one takes me for a waiter.
I have just been thinking this society push over, and I have
come to the conclusion that an active leader in society has more
troubles than a man in the wheat pit, and a man in the wheat pit
is long on troubles about as often as he is on wheat. If you don't
believe it, ask Joe Leiter. He was long on both at the same time.
Take the woman who uses fair English and has coin, and let her
display the same good cold judgment that has made her husband
successful in business, and some rainy Thursday morning the four
hundred will wake up and find a new member has joined the order.
While she is on her way she'll get many a frost, but after she
lands she'll even up on the other candidates.
I have heard it said that locomotive engineers as a rule suffer
from kidney troubles, caused by the jolting and bumping of the
engine. If jolts and bumps go for anything, some of these people
who are trying to break into society must have Bright's Disease
Jim, if you have never been to a duplicate whist party, see some
of those people play whist and then order your shroud. Last night
for a partner I drew an old girl who was a Colonial Dame because
her ancestors on both sides had worked on the Old Colony Railroad.
She must have taken a foolish powder or something, just before she
left home, as she was clean to the bad. She had to be called five
minutes before each play, and the way she trumped my ace the first
time around was enough to drive a person dippy. Once she mentioned
her husband's diamond-studded airship. Poor old lady! Probably took
a double dose by mistake. How careless!
Everybody was making a great fuss over some girl who is lecturing
throughout the country on "Man as Woman Sees Him." Talk about
lavish eyes. My boy! my boy! but this dame was there with the
swell lamps. A hundred candle power easily. I tried to sit up
to her, but there was nothing doing. I might have known I was a
dead one. Because why? Because Mr. Percy Harold was talking to
her, and he knows all about rare china, real old lace, and such
things. When I came up the subject was Du Bois' Messe de Mariage.
(Spelling not guaranteed.) I asked about it this morning, Jim.
A Messe de Mariage seems to be some kind of a wedding march, and
a bishop who is a real hot dog won't issue a certificate unless
the band plays the Messe. Mr. Percy Harold kept right on talking
about Jack Hayes being so desperately in love with Mrs. Hardy-
Steele, and how late they were getting home from the Opera the
other night, and what a shame it was, as Mr. Steele seemed like
such a nice fellow. There I stood like a Harlem goat. I couldn't
cut in, because I have so many troubles of my own getting home
from any place at all that I haven't time to keep tab on other
people. I must be as slow getting onto a scandal as the injured
husband. If 115,000 people know something about a woman, my
number is 14,999, and the husband's number is 15,000. It seems
strange, but the husband always seems to get wise last.
But to return to the girl with the electric eyes. I hung around in
that sad dress suit like a big dub, hoping that the conversation
would finally get switched to theaters or dogs or sparring, or
something where I could make good, but Mr. Harold had the floor,
and he certainly had me looking like a dirty deuce in a new deck.
I stood for him till he suddenly exclaimed, "Oh, fudge!" because
he had forgotten one of his rings, and there was where I took to
the tall timbers. If I were a ring I wouldn't let a guy like that
wear me. Now will you kindly tell me why it is that a girl will
throw a good fellow down every time for one of those Lizzie boys?
If I thought there were enough men in the country who feel as
I do, I would start "The American Union for the Suppression of
Well, I decided to get into my class, so I started for the
smoking-room. I hadn't gone three feet till some woman held me
up, and began telling me how she adored grand opera. I didn't
even reply. I flew madly and remained hidden in the tall grasses
of the smoking-room until it was time to go home. Jim, should
any one ever tell you that grand opera is all right, he is either
trying to even up, or he is not a true friend. I was over in New
York with the family last winter, and they made me go with them
to "Die Walkure" at the Metropolitan Opera House. When I got
the tickets I asked the man's advice as to the best location.
He said that all true lovers of music occupied the dress circle
and balconies, and that he had some good center dress circle
seats at three bones per. Here's a tip, Jim. If the box man ever
hands you that true lover game, just reach in through the little
hole and soak him in the solar for me. It's coming to him. I'll
give you my word of honor we were a quarter of a mile from the
stage. We went up in an elevator, were shown to our seats, and
who was right behind us but my old pal Bud Hathaway from Chicago.
Bud had his two sisters with him, and he gave me one sad look
which said plainer than words, "So you're up against it, too,
eh?" We introduced all hands around, and about nine o'clock the
curtain went up. After we had waited fully ten minutes, out came
a big, fat, greasy looking Dago with nothing on but a bear robe.
He went over to the side of the stage, and sat down on a bum rock.
It was plainly to be seen, even from my true lover's seat, that
his bearlets was sorer than a dog about something. Presently in
came a woman, and none of the true lovers seemed to know who she
was. Some said it was Melba, others Nordica. Bud and I decided it
was May Irwin. We were mistaken, though, as Irwin has this woman
lashed to the mast at any time or place. As soon as Mike the
Dago espied the dame it was all off. He rushed, and drove a
straight-arm jab, which had it reached would have given him the
purse. But Shifty Sadie wasn't there. She ducked, side-stepped,
and landed a clever half-arm hook which seemed to stun the big
fellow. They clinched, and swayed back and forth, growling
continually, while the orchestra played this trembly
Eliza-crossing-the-ice music. Jim, I'm not swelling this a bit.
On the level, it happened just as I write it. All of a sudden
some one seemed to win. They broke away, and ran wildly to the
front of the stage with their arms outstretched, yelling to beat
three of a kind. The band cut loose something fierce. The leader
tore out about $9.00 worth of hair, and acted generally as though
he had bats in his belfry. I thought sure the place would be
pinched. It reminded me of Thirsty Thornton's dance-hall out in
Merrill, Wisconsin, when the Silent Swede used to start a general
survival of the fittest every time Mamie the Mink danced twice
in succession with the young fellow from Albany, whose father
owned the big mill up Rough River. Of course, this audience was
perfectly orderly, and showed no intention whatever of cutting in,
and there were no chairs or glasses in the air, but I am forced to
admit that the opera had Thornton's faded for noise. I asked Bud
what the trouble was, and he answered that I could search him.
The audience apparently went wild. Everybody said "Simply sublime!"
"Isn't it grand?" "Perfectly superb!" "Bravo!" etc., not because
they really enjoyed it, but merely because they thought it was the
proper thing to do. After that for three solid hours Rough House
Mike and Shifty Sadie seemed to be apologizing to the audience
for their disgraceful street brawl, which was honestly the only
good thing in the show. Along about twelve o'clock I thought I
would talk over old times with Bud, but when I turned his way I
found my tried and trusty comrade "Asleep at the Switch."
At the finish the woman next to me, who seemed to be on, said that
the main lady was dying. After it was too late, Mike seemed kind
of sorry. He must have given her the knife, or the drops, because
there wasn't a minute that he could look in on her according to the
rules. He laid her out on the bum rock, they set off a lot of red
fire for some unknown reason, and the curtain dropped at 12:25.
Never again for my money. Far be it from me knocking, but any time
I want noise I'll take to a boiler shop or a Union Station where
I can understand what's coming off. I'm for a good mother show.
Do you remember "The White Slave," Jim? Well, that's me. Wasn't
it immense where the main lady spurned the leering villain's gold,
and exclaimed with flashing eye, "Rags are royal raiment, when
worn for virtue's sake." Great!
"The White Slave" has "Die Walkure" beaten to a pulp, and they
don't get to you for three cases gate money, either.
Say, Jim, if you ever happen to be hunting around for a real true
old sport, don't overlook General Hemingway, last evening's host.
When it comes to warm propositions he is certainly the bell cow.
They all follow him. He is one of those fat, bald headed old boys
who at one time has had the smallpox so badly that he looks as
though he had lost a lot of settings out of his face. He hustled
for about twenty years, harnessed up a bunch of money, and now his
life is one continual crimson sunset. Some people know when they
have enough, but when the old general has enough he doesn't know
anything. Smoke up! Jim, I didn't get that one myself the first
time I heard it. Every time the general gets lit up, he places his
arm around your shoulder, puts his face close to yours, blows ashes
in your eyes, and tells you confidentially, so that every one in
Texas can hear him, that he knew your father when the seat of his
trousers was ragged, and he didn't have one dollar to rub against
another. I don't mind that so much, but every time he comes to
a word with the letter _P_ in it, he spits all over a fellow.
Why, the other night he was telling me about our newly acquired
_P_ossessions, the _P_hilippines, being a land of _P_erpetual
_P_lenty, and for a while I thought I was in the natatorium. Under
the circumstances I don't know which would be more desirable, a
plumber for the general, or a mackintosh for myself.
Yours as ever,
P. S.--Jim, you know those little white checks they issue in
some bars and you pay at the cashier's desk? Well, one of the
boys just telephoned me that he saw Johnny Black a few minutes
ago in a down-town place with a beautiful sosh on, and that he
was eating his checks because he was broke. He had swallowed
five checks amounting to $2.30 before the bartender tumbled.
That's a new one on me, and it's all right. My! but that boy
Johnny is a sincere drinker.
More Horse Sense
Sometimes you get up in the morning feeling as though you were
not expected to live. You know the cause. If you are at home, the
first thing to do is to square yourself. Some experts on squaring
say that it is best to deny everything, others advise a partial
acknowledgment of the facts, together with a solemn promise that
it will never occur again. We would respectfully suggest that you
try the first; If unsuccessful, spring the second, and if both fail,
be a thoroughbred and take it like a man. You probably deserve it,
but look at the fun you had the night before singing bass. Remember
one thing: don't say you missed the twelve o'clock car, and rather
than wait you walked home. You may have arrived in a cab. Wonderful
what a noise one small cab can make in the middle of the night.
Well, the next thing is your physical condition. Your liver must
be got going. Would you rather drink a cold, sparkling, pleasant-
tasting R--R--S-- that will produce instant action upon the liver?
or would you prefer a water that is warm and sickening, tastes
like an Italian tenement looks, and half the time won't stay down?
Many a good fellow has his own troubles in the morning trying to
find something that will stick. The R--R-- will stick, and what's
more, it cools the blood, which naturally relieves the pressure
upon the head. For constipation, stomach, and liver troubles,
R--R-- has no equal. Being on a sodium phosphate base, it is
positively the only liver water on the market to-day. Why subject
yourself to probable salivation from poisonous calomel when the
R--R-- is absolutely harmless and will give you better results?
Keep our goods at your home, and when you are away from home you
can get it at any first-class hotel, cafe, or club.
Pittsburg, Pa., May 1, 1899.
So you want to know how a fellow is going to tell positively when
he is stuck on a girl, do you? Well, I'll tell you, and I'll tell
you mighty quick. If some guy cuts in on your steady, you are
going out to her home, and you are going to call her fine and
plenty, aren't you? And unless she promises to bump the other
fellow, you are going to leave her in a rage, aren't you? _Now,
if you go back without being sent for, you're it._
Jim, if you can you had better wait for her to break the ice.
If you don't, from that time on she will make you look like a
white chip. A woman is like one of the big trusts. The instant
she acquires a controlling interest in you she becomes a regular
ring-master. She will make you jump through, lie down and roll
over, walk lame, and play dead; and don't think for a moment you
won't do it, either. All the rest of them have. You show me a man
who hasn't been up against such a game, and I'll show you a man
who lacks experience. A lot of these handsome gazabes go around
looking wise, winning girls out, and thinking they are the happy
thought. That's because they have had a run of luck and landed
in among a bunch of marks. Let them keep it up. It is only a matter
of time until they will stumble over a live wire, and then it will
be pay-day on the Wabash. It's grand to see a great big slob
running along behind some little bit of a girl, a faithful Fido,
taking his orders like a politician. I know what I'm talking about,
Jim, because I have certainly been the original human dog. I used
to think I was the Village Rubber--but not any more. They have
made me look like thirty cents not once, but a dozen times. I can
gaze into the dim, hazy distance and see where every one of these
coy, clever fellows is going to get it, and get it good, and I am
glad of it. My hat's off.
Say, Jim, I'm not much for these love stories in the books. They
are liable to mislead a fellow. You read how Benton Brockway,
the hero, looks into pretty Bessie Bell's blue eyes, places his
hand on her shapely shoulder, and tells her how he loves her.
Even her downcast eye doesn't hide the pearly tear as she answers
"Yes." Now, I can look into their eyes for four hours, and I can
tell them how I love them till I am black in the face, and they
seem to like it; but whenever I come to the laying of the hand on
the shapely shoulder part, it's all off. I am told that I am no
gentleman, and to roll my hoop out of that house forever. What's
a fellow going to do? You can never tell whether a girl is really
sore or whether she is stalling. A girl might be for a fellow
strong, and yet she wouldn't admit it for a thousand dollars.
There may be some things I wouldn't admit for a thousand, but I
don't just recall them at the present time. It only goes to show
that things are not always what they seem. Many a girl wears a
sailor hat who doesn't own a yacht.
Just to show you what a chance a man has nowadays: The other
night I went out to see a certain girl. Won't mention any names.
Never do, sober. She made what she called a Robert E. Lee punch
out of apple brandy and stuff. Well, sir, after I had hit three
Robert E. Lees, I could see waving green fields and fruit-laden
orchards, and kind-faced old cows standing in silvery streams of
water. I couldn't remember of owing a cent, and the drawing-room
lamp looked like a flood of golden sunshine. Jim, I have never
been against the pipe, because I'm too young, but if it beats the
Robert E. Lee punch, I'll have to go after it. I took one more
dipper of Robert E. Lee, and then I decided that any girl who
could make that kind of a mix could have me for better or for
worse; and if I didn't propose right there I'll eat your hat.
I told her that I had loved her madly for months, but had never
found the courage to say so till that night. I also mentioned
the fact that even if she was very small and I was large, and
even if the people in the church would say we looked like Rhode
Island and Texas marching out together, that it made no difference
where true love was concerned. I finished it all up with a look
that would have melted the heart of a bank dealer. My work must
have been a little to the sandpaper, or I may have backed up
kind of foolish like, or something. Whatever it was, she answered,
"Billy, your brother's hair is a good deal darker than yours,
isn't it?" Now, what do you think of that frosty-hearted fairy?
Literally forced me to drink that punch, gets me ripened up, and
then throws the hooks into me. As a love-maker I guess I am a
shine. Jim, have you ever gone home late at night and told yourself
in front of the mirror how you loved some girl? and have you ever
seen that same girl walking along the street the next day with
another fellow, and the instant you discovered them, did a great
big lump come into your breast? And did you immediately think of
a lot of things about the fellow you didn't like, although
previously you had rather admired him? Well, that thing you get
in your breast is what we experts call the love lump, and you were
placing yourself in a position to later on become a kind of Patsy
to that girl.
Isn't that love lump all the money, though? It makes a well-developed
case of indigestion look like a sunny summer day. When you come to
figure it all over, there's nothing to that jealousy thing. I used
to be Billy Brighteyes, and sneak out to my regular's home, thinking
that perhaps I would catch some one else there. What do I do now?
Why, I telephone that I will be out in thirty minutes. What you
don't know won't hurt you.
Jim, what has ever become of that girl you were so crazy about
a couple of years ago? I guess maybe she didn't put a dent into
your heart that a person could drive a four-in-hand into and never
touch the sides, a regular Hoosac Tunnel. Then when she had you
all ribbed up and done to a turn, she said, "I love Mr. Hawkins
and Mr. Hawkins loves me. Good by, Jim; take care of yourself."
You couldn't have gotten a better jolt on the B. & 0. You will
pardon my suppressed merriment, but that girl certainly made you
look like a trailer. Never mind, Jim, old pal, we have all had a
crimp put into us at one time or another, and if you work hard and
observe good hours you'll get over it in four or five years. It's
nothing at all.
I have often thought I would land a girl with coin, blow business,
and sit around for a while. It would be great to have your own
hearthstone with a couple of registered St. Bernard's lying around,
and here and there a golden-haired darling romping and playing
with a bottle of paregoric. But somehow or other I always fall
down. Now, take that Katherine Clark, who has been visiting the
Hemingways for the past month. When she first came I said to
myself, "Billy, my boy, here's your chance; break in and cop out
an heiress." So I sicked myself on to her. Well, you know I'm
not a piker. I went after her right. Eats, drinks, shows, and
all the expensive things. I touched Johnny Black's brother-in-law
for fifty, and gave an informal luncheon that was a pippin. I
wore my New York Central shirt with the four stripes, and we had
wine with cobwebs. There wasn't a thing served that any one could
pronounce, and Johnny Black got loaded and told us on the quiet
why his sister had left her husband. I insulted Johnny by making
some remark about his joining the Tell Club, and altogether
everything was a big success. The check came to $44.60, and I
flashed Johnny's brother-in-law's fifty. When the waiter brought
the five-forty change I waved him away as though the Standard Oil
Company was the smallest thing I owned. The tip was out that old
man Clark was black with money, and if it's so I know why. He is
tight-ribbed and popcorn. Down in George's Place the other day
I asked the old man what he was going to drink, and he said he
would rather have the money. And say, he gave me a cigar that
looked as though it had some skin trouble, and smelled like some
one was shoeing a horse. However, a fellow doesn't always have
to live with the bride's parents. Jim, this girl was a dream.
Tailor-made, cloak-model form, city-broke, kind, and sound. She
could just naturally beat the works out of a piano; and talk about
your swell valves. Why, the other night she sang "A Sailor's Life's
the Life for Me" so realistically that Johnny Black got seasick.
Well, to make a long story short, this morning I got an invitation
to Katherine Clark's wedding. Jim, did you ever have a fellow
come up behind you and smear you back of the ear when you weren't
looking? Well, that's exactly how that invitation felt. She is
going to marry some lobster out in St. Louis, and I'll bet he is
a pup, and is marrying her for her money. I figured it up on the
back of the invitation, and that lady sent me along for just two
hundred and ten dollars, not counting what I owe Johnny Black's
brother-in-law; and the best I get is a "come to the church." Of
course you will say I'm stung again, and that some one should
lead me out to the end of the Chicago Crib and push me into the
lake, and all that sort of rot; but hang it all, Jim, if I could
get that girl I would take her if she didn't have a cent. I guess
I'll light my p1pe.
Yours as ever,
P. S.--"Good by, Jim; take care of yourself."
More Horse Sense
Have you ever sat on the edge of the bed in the morning with
your elbows on your knees, your head buried in your hands, and
wondered if there was anything you overlooked the night before
that would have made you feel worse? Among the more polite, this
feeling is spoken of as the realization of indiscretion in diet;
but we plain people call it old Colonel R. E. Morse. There are
lots of things that will give you a Colonel, but a R--R--S-- is
the only thing that will make you feel like a person with a future
instead of a person with a past. You must cleanse your liver, and
that's all there is to it. Here's the proposition: Say there were
two glasses of aperient water standing on a table. One was muddy-
looking, bad-tasting, warm, and flat, and wouldn't touch your
liver. The other was clear, pleasant-tasting, cold, and sparkling,
and acted instantly upon your liver. Which would you take? Inasmuch
as our circulation is confined entirely to the most intelligent,
all we ask is, that you give this proposition one moment of your
thought. The immense sale of R--R--S-- proves beyond a doubt that
the American people are thoroughly disgusted with vile-tasting
foreign bitter waters, and were merely awaiting the advent of
something new and sparkling, like R--R--.
IN NEW YORK
"In New York" is the last of the Baxter Letters for the present.
We think it well to stop before we get bad. We make but one claim
for distinction--the largest circulation America has ever seen
or heard of. The people, up to date, have actually demanded over
three and a half million copies, or nearly five car-loads of our
little books, and there is no telling where it will stop. We have
Robinson Crusoe backed clear off his island, and Uncle Tom's Cabin
burned to the ground. Still it would have been a different story
had we asked a dollar apiece for our books; so we are not so much
In New York
Pittsburg, Pa., August 1, 1899.
Just got back from New York this morning. Bud Hathaway stopped
off here on his way from Chicago, and coaxed Johnny Black and me
to go over East with him. We went, and a pretty mess we made of
it. Bud is sore on both of us, I got touched for ninety, and
Johnny is lost.
Nothing of interest occurred going over on the train, excepting
that when I turned in I took off my trousers without spilling my
money all over the Pullman floor. This is done by sewing the human
pocket shut. We landed at Twenty-third Street, in good shape, early
in the morning of the day before yesterday. When we reached the
Pennsylvania cab-stand some one had taken the hansom, so we had to
hire a carriage. They are building another hansom, and then there
will be plenty of hansoms for all. At the hotel Johnny claimed I
had a drag because I drew a room with a window in it. Breakfast
was hardly over until Bud, without consulting us at all, commenced
arrangements for giving a swell dinner to a couple of heiresses
who lived on Eighteenth Street and who were worth eight millions,
or who lived in Eighth Street and were worth eighty millions--
Johnny and I didn't know which. Bud gave us a lot of hot air about
his mother's cousin standing fifteen balls in the New York Four,
and how that made him a nonresident member, and if we did just
as he said, he would put us in right. He told us that there were
thousands of people right in New York City, any one of whom would
give a cool million for our opportunity. Johnny immediately began
to figure, on how he would treat certain people over in Pittsburg
who had given him the eye in bygone days; and I got so struck on
myself that I cut the head waiter dead, although I had known him
intimately for years. Along about 11 A.M. the deal went through
by 'phone for seven o'clock that evening. Bud went to get shaved,
and Johnny and I retired to the bar to wait until it was time to
get ready for the dinner.
Well, sir, I never met so many people in all my life as we met
in that bar. There was a wine agent whom everybody called Dick,
and I'm for Dick. He sapped up all kinds of booze except wine,
like four dollars' worth of blue blotters, and every time he took
a drink he raised his salary a thousand dollars a year. Once I
weakened, and went outside and watched the hotel lobby go around
for a while. When I returned, Johnny Black, Dick the wine agent,
and a large red-faced man who looked as though he had helped to
make Milwaukee famous, and who said he was from K. C., Mizzoo,
were doing some close harmony that was great. The three of them
were bunched with their arms resting on each others' shoulders,
singing "She May Have Seen Better Days," and the way they all
looked up toward heaven was something pathetic. Whenever they
came to a barber-shop minor they would hold it for a full minute,
and then they would all stop and tell each other how good they
were. Suddenly a fellow rushed in through the street door and
breathlessly exclaimed: "My goodness gracious, sakes alive! the
undertow almost carried me beyond the bar." The newcomer still
wore his dress suit from the evening before, and his shirt front
was all spattered with egg. He was promptly named "His Chickens."
His Chickens did a trick with a wine glass and a half-dollar, and
finally succeeded in cutting a gash in his wrist an inch long.
Johnny Black, who was rapidly becoming normal, remarked that His
Chickens was the village cut-up. I laughed so loud at Johnny's
shine joke that the manager of the hotel called me, and the whole
tribe got insulted and told the man his place was no good anyhow.
We started out, and the first thing we did was to strike one of
those foolish cabs. We made a bargain for a dollar and a half
the first hour and a dollar each succeeding hour, and then we
fell in and told the pilot to take us all over New York. He said
he would, and from the way I feel, he did. K. C. started an awful
argument in one place by declaring that a straight should beat a
flush because there were only eight chances to fill a straight,
while with a flush there were nine. I never figured it out before,
but K. C. is right.
In another place we met a Philadelphia-looking sort of a fellow
with a soft hat, a Prince Albert coat with narrow braid on it,
and a couple of those little bow-legged dogs with the long ears
and their stomachs away down on the ground. They call them Dasch
hounds, or something, and I can't for the life of me see what
anybody would want with such fool-looking dogs. They look as
though they had been born under a bureau or in a New York hotel
room, where you have to close the folding bed to find your clothes,
or in the Boston baseball grounds. The dog man said he used to know
a George Black years ago in Johnstown, Pa., who was a puddler in
the mills there. Johnny answered, "That's my father. He is manager
of those mills now, and what's more, he can lick any man in Cambria
County, just the same as I can lick any man in New York City." The
last was announced in a tone sufficiently loud to be heard all over
the place. Jim, I got it four times just from the overflow. Now,
you know merely because Johnny's father can lick any man in Cambria
County, is that any reason why I should land out in the middle of
the car track? Not at all.
Along about ten in the evening Bud wanted to keep the seven-o'clock-
dinner date with the heiresses, but the rest of the gang were too
busy. We blew into one of those concert halls over on Eighth Avenue
where they have sand on the floor, red-white-and-blue tissue paper
around the edge of the ceiling, no programme because it costs too
much, and a bum piano for an orchestra. The Professor wore no coat,
but he certainly knew his way around the ivories. A sad-looking,
thin guy, with a four days' growth and a large near-diamond stud,
came out and announced that the next turn was the feature of the
evening--the winsome Sisters Montclair, who would sing a lovely
waltz ballad written expressly for them, entitled, "The Check
Was Forged--He Had Went Too Far." Johnny Black set 'em up to the
Professor right in the middle of the song, and the Professor bowed
his regards, blew the froth off his beer, drank it, and lit a
cigarette without losing a note. Immediately after the act the
Professor presented Miss Alice Montclair of the famous "Sisters
Montclair." Barring the fact that Miss Montclair had a mouth like
a cave, she wasn't a bad looker. Old K. C. gave what was intended
for a tender, loving look, and asked her if he could call her
Alice; then without waiting for an answer, passed into a Rip Van
Winkle that looked good for a hundred years.
We told the lady it was up to her, and she said she would take a
Brandy and soda. Brandy and soda being fifty a throw and beer five
a copy, we told her to behave, and ordered the waiter to back her up
a tub of suds, Texas size. I noticed Miss Montclair's handkerchief
was marked "Mary Burke." Probably some mistake on the part of the
laundry. Careless laundry! Alice told us what lovely people her
folks were; she said her father was mayor of his town, and if we
only knew her real name it would surprise us all. Johnny Black
started to guess it, but was interrupted by having to settle for
the last round His Chickens had ordered. It seems His Chickens
would madly order, and then when the waiter would kind of hang
around for the price, he would do the earnest conversation gag
until some one else had made good. Alice, who was now getting a
trifle weary, went on to tell us that the girl who appeared with
her was not her sister, and that the only reason she stood for her
at all was because she had once been good to her when she was sick.
All of a sudden old K. C., who had been leaning over farther and
farther, did a Brodie out of his chair and lit on his eye. We dug
him out of the sand and put him back where he belonged, and he
immediately departed into another dreamless but jumpy slumber. At
this juncture somebody sold Dick six tickets at a dollar per for a
ball that had been given over a month ago by the Varnish Makers'
Union, K. of L., No. 229. Upon learning that he had been bunked,
Dick became very dignified, and said he would remember the fellow
perfectly, and that the day would come when they would be brought
face to face.
We were all getting along great; everybody was calling Alice
by her first name, and Alice was saying, "I'll leave it to Bill
if it ain't right," and speaking of Manager Frohman as Charley,
when Johnny Black, the president of all the trouble-makers,
spoiled the whole business. It appears that Alice's eyelids were
slightly granulated. It was barely noticeable, and nobody but a
dog like Johnny would have mentioned such a thing. Anyway, Johnny
suggested that the lady's granulated eyelids were probably caused
by looking for a rise in "Sugar." Jim, you should have seen Alice
go up! Johnny certainly cut her weights fine and proper. Of course,
Johnny was batting under two hundred, but for some unknown reason
we all got the blue pencil. She called Johnny an illy bred, low-
born, undersized, cavery-faced Protestant pup. Johnny was so
excited he couldn't get back at all. He just sputtered and spit
and made motions with his mouth. It was grand and touching and
refined. I cut in and tried to square it, and the lady told me
I was a spangle-eyed big dub. I'll bet that's one of the worst
things a fellow can be. Dick was then told what he was, and he
put it down in a book, after which Alice finished it all up with
a flood of tears. The head waiter came up and said: "Look a here,
Mary, what ails you, anyway? You're getting so lately you turn
them tears on every night. Be a good fellow, and don't make a
lot of gents think we're running a morgue. You've blowed half
your make-up as it is." Mary, alias Alice, gave the head waiter
one withering look, and left the place. We started to move on,
but found it was impossible to bring old K. C. back. We pounded
him and yelled at him for ten minutes, but there wasn't a leaf
stirring, except once, when he came to long enough to remark that
he was sweating like a June bride. We finally took his watch and
all his money but two dollars, and left him like a dog. A fellow
is perfectly safe in New York without any money.
We then mounted our deep-sea-going cab, and told the skipper
we were for the eats. He took us to a big restaurant on upper
Sixth Avenue. We told the waiter to bring us everything that
was good. When the waiter returned with the knives and forks,
he also brought us some Dill pickles. I took a bite at one of
them, and she squirted and hit a fellow at the next table in the
eye. I guess a Dill pickle must smart right pert--however, I won't
bore you with any details. Jim, I can remember that just at the
start of it a waiter happened to be passing with a very large
order on his tray, and for a while the air was literally crowded
with oyster stews, Welsh rarebits, glasses, showers of booze,
frogs' legs, and everything that wasn't chained down. When the
smoke cleared away I was occupying my regular position in the
center of the car track. They wouldn't let me in again, and the
rest of the fellows were too hungry to come out; so there I was
"Alone in New York." The cabman then asked for his money for the
whole day. I told him that the lack of money was the least of my
troubles, and I went down after ninety dollars that I had pinned
in my trousers watch-pocket with a safety pin. Exit money. Whoever
got to me hadn't even left the safety pin. The cabman made some
remarks about taking it out of my hide, and I spent all of twenty
minutes proving to him that the rest of the bunch would settle when
they came out. I then walked all the way down to the hotel, alone
and hungry. In my whole life I never met such a quarrelsome lot
of people. You know yourself, Jim, that any one who can guess
when a Dill pickle is going to squirt is entitled to the barrel
of flour, or the gold-plated oil stove; and as far as that ninety
is concerned, I suppose I went in front of the City Hall and
presented it to somebody. I'll bet, all told, I've been in a
hundred scraps in New York, and have never won a battle. I'll
win out yet, if I have to go out and beat up a poor old apple-woman.
Say, Jim, the greatest game in New York is to walk into some hotel
Palm-room with a particularly swell girl and watch all the rest
of them get jealous. You know that Harper girl from Louisville?
Well, I showed her around New York a couple of months ago, and
she made them all look like a summer resort on a rainy day. When
we entered any of the big restaurants I would send her along ahead,
and I would trail to hear the cracks. It was grand to see them
rubber and hear the women say, "She isn't so much," or "My, isn't
she padded frightfully!" and hear the men say, "Gee! A dream," or
"Pipe, Dan, I guess she's perfectly miserable, eh?" I lost two or
three sets of studs that trip just from swelling up.
Well, I'm home, and here I am going to stay. Just on the quiet,
I never felt so bad in my life. I'm all sore and stiff from that
car-track habit, and talk about your jumps! Why, a minute ago I
was sitting as quiet as a lamb, when, without the slightest warning
I did a leap straight up into the air about four feet. I wonder what
causes that? Coming down to the office this morning somebody kept
calling me continually, and when I would look around there wouldn't
be a soul near, and I am all the time hearing bands of music, and
maybe I am not perspiring!
If I ever get over this, that narrow-path gag for your Uncle Bill
for a long time to come. When you get to throwing your money away
there is nothing doing. Far be it from me casting up, neither am I
a hard loser, but I certainly could use that ninety. Well, that'll
be about all.
Yours as ever,
P. S.--Just received the following telegram from Johnny Black,
dated New York, 1:50 P. M.: "Old K. C. has just been sighted.
She's a little dismantled, but game. She's arranging for a
foolisher for a whole week, and I am going to stay with him.
Dick sends best. Chickens has a roll."
I wired Johnny as follows: "If you see a safety pin anywhere
around Chickens, that roll belongs to me."
JOHNNY BLACK'S GIRL
Pittsburg, Pa., July 1, 1899.
I have something to tell you, and it's not necessary to stand
on the courthouse steps at high noon and do the human phonograph
act, as it's strictly under your bonnet. One evening about three
years ago, before Johnny and I had moved to our new flat, I had
turned in kind of early, as I had been to the Cabinet-Makers' Ball
at Turner's Hall the night before, and it had been a great success.
I was wakened by Johnny beating me and asking me to shake hands.
He was dancing around like a crazy man, and as soon as I fairly
got my eyes opened I guessed the cause. Little Nellie Morrison
had told him she loved him, and they were engaged. My! but Johnny
was happy and important. Well, sir, he just kept me up till two
o'clock, telling me all their plans. It wasn't very hard to do,
either, for although I tried to appear kind of careless, I was
as much excited as Johnny. It was just six months later that
poor little Nell was taken out dead from that big wreck over
East. Well, now comes the trouble. Johnny Black loves that little
girl just as much as he did the day she was brought back home.
So far as the boys are concerned, he has hidden it fairly well.
They think he is over it, but, Jim, he's getting worse. Last night
I came in about twelve, and there sat Johnny curled up in the big
chair you gave me last Christmas. He had cried himself to sleep,
and in his hand was a picture of Nell. There she was in a little
white dress, smiling up at him just as she used to before it all
happened. I leaned over and touched him as gently as I could, and
said, "Come on to bed, Johnny." He never answered a word. He placed
the picture in his pocket, and I led him off to his room. He didn't
speak until just before he put out his light, and then he said,
"You know, Bill, I used to tell her all my schemes, and she was
so kind, and how she did want to see me a success. You know how
things are coming, Bill, and I'd like to see her just a minute
and have her cuddle up and say, 'I knew my boy was all right.'"
What was I going to do? I don't know anything about consoling
people, so I just said, "Never mind, Johnny; you and I'll take
a trip and try to forget it." Jim, it's been over two years now,
and he loves her more than ever. What I want you to do is to write
him and tell him to take a rest. He can afford it easily enough.
Every time he looks at anything somebody gallops in and hands him
a check. Do this, will you Jim?
Yours as ever,
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