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The Gentle Grafter

Hostages To Momus
I
I never got inside of the legitimate line of graft but once. But, one time, as I say, I
reversed the decision of the revised statutes and undertook a thing that I'd have to
apologize for even under the New Jersey trust laws.
Me and Caligula Polk, of Muskogee in the Creek Nation, was down in the Mexican State
of Tamaulipas running a peripatetic lottery and monte game. Now, selling lottery tickets
is a government graft in Mexico, just like selling forty-eight cents' worth of postage-
stamps for forty-nine cents is over here. So Uncle Porfirio he instructs the rurales to
attend to our case.
Rurales? They're a sort of country police; but don't draw any mental crayon portraits of
the worthy constables with a tin star and a gray goatee. The rurales—well, if we'd mount
our Supreme Court on broncos, arm 'em with Winchesters, and start 'em out after John
Doe et al. we'd have about the same thing.
When the rurales started for us we started for the States. They chased us as far as
Matamoras. We hid in a brickyard; and that night we swum the Rio Grande, Caligula
with a brick in each hand, absent-minded, which he drops upon the soil of Texas,
forgetting he had 'em.
From there we emigrated to San Antone, and then over to New Orleans, where we took a
rest. And in that town of cotton bales and other adjuncts to female beauty we made the
acquaintance of drinks invented by the Creoles during the period of Louey Cans, in
which they are still served at the side doors. The most I can remember of this town is that
me and Caligula and a Frenchman named McCarty—wait a minute; Adolph McCarty—
was trying to make the French Quarter pay up the back trading-stamps due on the
Louisiana Purchase, when somebody hollers that the johndarms are coming. I have an
insufficient recollection of buying two yellow tickets through a window; and I seemed to
see a man swing a lantern and say "All aboard!" I remembered no more, except that the
train butcher was covering me and Caligula up with Augusta J. Evans's works and figs.
When we become revised, we find that we have collided up against the State of Georgia
at a spot hitherto unaccounted for in time tables except by an asterisk, which means that
trains stop every other Thursday on signal by tearing up a rail. We was waked up in a
yellow pine hotel by the noise of flowers and the smell of birds. Yes, sir, for the wind
was banging sunflowers as big as buggy wheels against the weatherboarding and the
chicken coop was right under the window. Me and Caligula dressed and went down-
stairs. The landlord was shelling peas on the front porch. He was six feet of chills and
fever, and Hongkong in complexion though in other respects he seemed amenable in the
exercise of his sentiments and features.
 
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