The Gentle Grafter
The Chair Of Philanthromathematics
"I see that the cause of Education has received the princely gift of more than fifty
millions of dollars," said I.
I was gleaning the stray items from the evening papers while Jeff Peters packed his briar
pipe with plug cut.
"Which same," said Jeff, "calls for a new deck, and a recitation by the entire class in
"Is that an allusion?" I asked.
"It is," said Jeff. "I never told you about the time when me and Andy Tucker was
philanthropists, did I? It was eight years ago in Arizona. Andy and me was out in the Gila
mountains with a two-horse wagon prospecting for silver. We struck it, and sold out to
parties in Tucson for $25,000. They paid our check at the bank in silver—a thousand
dollars in a sack. We loaded it in our wagon and drove east a hundred miles before we
recovered our presence of intellect. Twenty-five thousand dollars doesn't sound like so
much when you're reading the annual report of the Pennsylvania Railroad or listening to
an actor talking about his salary; but when you can raise up a wagon sheet and kick
around your bootheel and hear every one of 'em ring against another it makes you feel
like you was a night-and-day bank with the clock striking twelve.
"The third day out we drove into one of the most specious and tidy little towns that
Nature or Rand and McNally ever turned out. It was in the foothills, and mitigated with
trees and flowers and about 2,000 head of cordial and dilatory inhabitants. The town
seemed to be called Floresville, and Nature had not contaminated it with many railroads,
fleas or Eastern tourists.
"Me and Andy deposited our money to the credit of Peters and Tucker in the Esperanza
Savings Bank, and got rooms at the Skyview Hotel. After supper we lit up, and sat out on
the gallery and smoked. Then was when the philanthropy idea struck me. I suppose every
grafter gets it sometime.
"When a man swindles the public out of a certain amount he begins to get scared and
wants to return part of it. And if you'll watch close and notice the way his charity runs
you'll see that he tries to restore it to the same people he got it from. As a hydrostatical
case, take, let's say, A. A made his millions selling oil to poor students who sit up nights
studying political economy and methods for regulating the trusts. So, back to the
universities and colleges goes his conscience dollars.
"There's B got his from the common laboring man that works with his hands and tools.
How's he to get some of the remorse fund back into their overalls?