Helping The Other Fellow
[Originally published in Munsey's Magazine, December, 1908.]
"But can thim that helps others help thimselves!"
This is the story that William Trotter told me on the beach at Aguas Frescas while I
waited for the gig of the captain of the fruit steamer Andador which was to take me
abroad. Reluctantly I was leaving the Land of Always Afternoon. William was
remaining, and he favored me with a condensed oral autobiography as we sat on the
sands in the shade cast by the Bodega Nacional.
As usual, I became aware that the Man from Bombay had already written the story; but as
he had compressed it to an eight-word sentence, I have become an expansionist, and have
quoted his phrase above, with apologies to him and best regards to Terence.
"Don't you ever have a desire to go back to the land of derby hats and starched collars?" I
asked him. "You seem to be a handy man and a man of action," I continued, "and I am
sure I could find you a comfortable job somewhere in the States."
Ragged, shiftless, barefooted, a confirmed eater of the lotos, William Trotter had pleased
me much, and I hated to see him gobbled up by the tropics.
"I've no doubt you could," he said, idly splitting the bark from a section of sugar-cane.
"I've no doubt you could do much for me. If every man could do as much for himself as
he can for others, every country in the world would be holding millenniums instead of
There seemed to be pabulum in W. T.'s words. And then another idea came to me.
I had a brother in Chicopee Falls who owned manufactories—cotton, or sugar, or A. A.
sheetings, or something in the commercial line. He was vulgarly rich, and therefore
reverenced art. The artistic temperament of the family was monopolized at my birth. I
knew that Brother James would honor my slightest wish. I would demand from him a
position in cotton, sugar, or sheetings for William Trotter—something, say, at two