“Four hundred fifty plunks this morning from the Lyte deal. But taxes due. Let’s see: I ought to pull out eight thousand net this year, and save fifteen hundred of that—no, not if I put up garage and—Let’s see: six hundred and forty clear last month, and twelve times six-forty makes—makes—let see: six times twelve is seventy-two hundred and—Oh rats, anyway, I’ll make eight thousand—gee now, that’s not so bad; mighty few fellows pulling down eight thousand dollars a year—eight thousand good hard iron dollars—bet there isn’t more than five per cent. of the people in the whole United States that make more than Uncle George does, by golly! Right up at the top of the heap! But—Way expenses are—Family wasting gasoline, and always dressed like millionaires, and sending that eighty a month to Mother—And all these stenographers and salesmen gouging me for every cent they can get—”
The effect of his scientific budget-planning was that he felt at once triumphantly wealthy and perilously poor, and in the midst of these dissertations he stopped his car, rushed into a small news-and-miscellany shop, and bought the electric cigar-lighter which he had coveted for a week. He dodged his conscience by being jerky and noisy, and by shouting at the clerk, “Guess this will prett’ near pay for itself in matches, eh?”
It was a pretty thing, a nickeled cylinder with an almost silvery socket, to be attached to the dashboard of his car. It was not only, as the placard on the counter observed, “a dandy little refinement, lending the last touch of class to a gentleman’s auto,” but a priceless time-saver. By freeing him from halting the car to light a match, it would in a month or two easily save ten minutes.
As he drove on he glanced at it. “Pretty nice. Always wanted one,” he said wistfully. “The one thing a smoker needs, too.”
Then he remembered that he had given up smoking.
“Darn it!” he mourned. “Oh well, I suppose I’ll hit a cigar once in a while. And—Be a great convenience for other folks. Might make just the difference in getting chummy with some fellow that would put over a sale. And—Certainly looks nice there. Certainly is a mighty clever little jigger. Gives the last touch of refinement and class. I—By golly, I guess I can afford it if I want to! Not going to be the only member of this family that never has a single doggone luxury!”
Thus, laden with treasure, after three and a half blocks of romantic adventure, he drove up to the club.