The Unprofitable Servant
[Left unfinished, and published as it here appears in Everybody's Magazine, December,
I am the richer by the acquaintance of four newspaper men. Singly, they are my
encyclopedias, friends, mentors, and sometimes bankers. But now and then it happens
that all of them will pitch upon the same printworthy incident of the passing earthly
panorama and will send in reportorial constructions thereof to their respective journals. It
is then that, for me, it is to laugh. For it seems that to each of them, trained and skilled as
he may be, the same occurrence presents a different facet of the cut diamond, life.
One will have it (let us say) that Mme. André Macarté's apartment was looted by six
burglars, who descended via the fire-escape and bore away a ruby tiara valued at two
thousand dollars and a five-hundred-dollar prize Spitz dog, which (in violation of the
expectoration ordinance) was making free with the halls of the
My second "chiel" will take notes to the effect that while a friendly game of pinochle was
in progress in the tenement rooms of Mrs. Andy McCarty, a lady guest named Ruby
O'Hara threw a burglar down six flights of stairs, where he was pinioned and held by a
two-thousand-dollar English bulldog amid a crowd of five hundred excited spectators.
My third chronicler and friend will gather the news threads of the happening in his own
happy way; setting forth on the page for you to read that the house of Antonio Macartini
was blown up at 6 A. M., by the Black Hand Society, on his refusing to leave two
thousand dollars at a certain street corner, killing a pet five-hundred-dollar Pomeranian
belonging to Alderman Rubitara's little daughter (see photo and diagram opposite).
Number four of my history-makers will simply construe from the premises the story that
while an audience of two thousand enthusiasts was listening to a Rubinstein concert on
Sixth Street, a woman who said she was Mrs. Andrew M. Carter threw a brick through a
plate-glass window valued at five hundred dollars. The Carter woman claimed that some
one in the building had stolen her dog.
Now, the discrepancies in these registrations of the day's doings need do no one hurt.
Surely, one newspaper is enough for any man to prop against his morning water-bottle to
fend off the smiling hatred of his wife's glance. If he be foolish enough to read four he is
no wiser than a Higher Critic.
I remember (probably as well as you do) having read the parable of the talents. A
prominent citizen, about to journey into a far country, first hands over to his servants his
goods. To one he gives five talents; to another two; to another one—to every man