The Gentle Grafter
A Midsummer Masquerade
"Satan," said Jeff Peters, "is a hard boss to work for. When other people are having their
vacation is when he keeps you the busiest. As old Dr. Watts or St. Paul or some other
diagnostician says: 'He always finds somebody for idle hands to do.'
"I remember one summer when me and my partner, Andy Tucker, tried to take a layoff
from our professional and business duties; but it seems that our work followed us
wherever we went.
"Now, with a preacher it's different. He can throw off his responsibilities and enjoy
himself. On the 31st of May he wraps mosquito netting and tin foil around the pulpit,
grabs his niblick, breviary and fishing pole and hikes for Lake Como or Atlantic City
according to the size of the loudness with which he has been called by his congregation.
And, sir, for three months he don't have to think about business except to hunt around in
Deuteronomy and Proverbs and Timothy to find texts to cover and exculpate such little
midsummer penances as dropping a couple of looey door on rouge or teaching a
Presbyterian widow to swim.
"But I was going to tell you about mine and Andy's summer vacation that wasn't one.
"We was tired of finance and all the branches of unsanctified ingenuity. Even Andy,
whose brain rarely ever stopped working, began to make noises like a tennis cabinet.
"'Heigh ho!' says Andy. 'I'm tired. I've got that steam up the yacht Corsair and ho for the
Riviera! feeling. I want to loaf and indict my soul, as Walt Whittier says. I want to play
pinochle with Merry del Val or give a knouting to the tenants on my Tarrytown estates or
do a monologue at a Chautauqua picnic in kilts or something summery and outside the
line of routine and sand-bagging.'
"'Patience,' says I. 'You'll have to climb higher in the profession before you can taste the
laurels that crown the footprints of the great captains of industry. Now, what I'd like,
Andy,' says I, 'would be a summer sojourn in a mountain village far from scenes of
larceny, labor and overcapitalization. I'm tired, too, and a month or so of sinlessness
ought to leave us in good shape to begin again to take away the white man's burdens in
"Andy fell in with the rest cure at once, so we struck the general passenger agents of all
the railroads for summer resort literature, and took a week to study out where we should
go. I reckon the first passenger agent in the world was that man Genesis. But there wasn't
much competition in his day, and when he said: 'The Lord made the earth in six days, and
all very good,' he hadn't any idea to what extent the press agents of the summer hotels
would plagiarize from him later on.