The Gentle Grafter
The Hand That Riles The World
"Many of our great men," said I (apropos of many things), "have declared that they owe
their success to the aid and encouragement of some brilliant woman."
"I know," said Jeff Peters. "I've read in history and mythology about Joan of Arc and
Mme. Yale and Mrs. Caudle and Eve and other noted females of the past. But, in my
opinion, the woman of to-day is of little use in politics or business. What's she best in,
anyway?—men make the best cooks, milliners, nurses, housekeepers, stenographers,
clerks, hairdressers and launderers. About the only job left that a woman can beat a man
in is female impersonator in vaudeville."
"I would have thought," said I, "that occasionally, anyhow, you would have found the wit
and intuition of woman valuable to you in your lines of—er—business."
"Now, wouldn't you," said Jeff, with an emphatic nod—"wouldn't you have imagined
that? But a woman is an absolutely unreliable partner in any straight swindle. She's liable
to turn honest on you when you are depending upon her the most. I tried 'em once.
"Bill Humble, an old friend of mine in the Territories, conceived the illusion that he
wanted to be appointed United States Marshall. At that time me and Andy was doing a
square, legitimate business of selling walking canes. If you unscrewed the head of one
and turned it up to your mouth a half pint of good rye whiskey would go trickling down
your throat to reward you for your act of intelligence. The deputies was annoying me and
Andy some, and when Bill spoke to me about his officious aspirations, I saw how the
appointment as Marshall might help along the firm of Peters & Tucker.
"'Jeff,' says Bill to me, 'you are a man of learning and education, besides having
knowledge and information concerning not only rudiments but facts and attainments.'
"'I do,' says I, 'and I have never regretted it. I am not one,' says I, 'who would cheapen
education by making it free. Tell me,' says I, 'which is of the most value to mankind,
literature or horse racing?'
"'Why—er—, playing the po—I mean, of course, the poets and the great writers have got
the call, of course,' says Bill.
"'Exactly,' says I. 'Then why do the master minds of finance and philanthropy,' says I,
'charge us $2 to get into a race-track and let us into a library free? Is that distilling into
the masses,' says I, 'a correct estimate of the relative value of the two means of self-
culture and disorder?'