Roads of Destiny HTML version
The Discounters Of Money
The spectacle of the money-caliphs of the present day going about Bagdad-on-the-
Subway trying to relieve the wants of the people is enough to make the great Al Raschid
turn Haroun in his grave. If not so, then the assertion should do so, the real caliph having
been a wit and a scholar and therefore a hater of puns.
How properly to alleviate the troubles of the poor is one of the greatest troubles of the
rich. But one thing agreed upon by all professional philanthropists is that you must never
hand over any cash to your subject. The poor are notoriously temperamental; and when
they get money they exhibit a strong tendency to spend it for stuffed olives and enlarged
crayon portraits instead of giving it to the instalment man.
And still, old Haroun had some advantages as an eleemosynarian. He took around with
him on his rambles his vizier, Giafar (a vizier is a composite of a chauffeur, a secretary of
state, and a night-and-day bank), and old Uncle Mesrour, his executioner, who toted a
snickersnee. With this entourage a caliphing tour could hardly fail to be successful. Have
you noticed lately any newspaper articles headed, "What Shall We Do With Our Ex-
Presidents?" Well, now, suppose that Mr. Carnegie could engage him and Joe Gans to go
about assisting in the distribution of free libraries? Do you suppose any town would have
had the hardihood to refuse one? That caliphalous combination would cause two libraries
to grow where there had been only one set of E. P. Roe's works before.
But, as I said, the money-caliphs are handicapped. They have the idea that earth has no
sorrow that dough cannot heal; and they rely upon it solely. Al Raschid administered
justice, rewarding the deserving, and punished whomsoever he disliked on the spot. He
was the originator of the short-story contest. Whenever he succoured any chance pick-up
in the bazaars he always made the succouree tell the sad story of his life. If the narrative
lacked construction, style, and esprit he commanded his vizier to dole him out a couple of
thousand ten-dollar notes of the First National Bank of the Bosphorus, or else gave him a
soft job as Keeper of the Bird Seed for the Bulbuls in the Imperial Gardens. If the story
was a cracker-jack, he had Mesrour, the executioner, whack off his head. The report that
Haroun Al Raschid is yet alive and is editing the magazine that your grandmother used to
subscribe for lacks confirmation.
And now follows the Story of the Millionaire, the Inefficacious Increment, and the Babes
Drawn from the Wood.
Young Howard Pilkins, the millionaire, got his money ornithologically. He was a shrewd
judge of storks, and got in on the ground floor at the residence of his immediate
ancestors, the Pilkins Brewing Company. For his mother was a partner in the business.
Finally old man Pilkins died from a torpid liver, and then Mrs. Pilkins died from worry
on account of torpid delivery-waggons—and there you have young Howard Pilkins with
4,000,000; and a good fellow at that. He was an agreeable, modestly arrogant young man,