Personally, I don’t know a great deal about gambling, because all I ever spent for information on the subject was $2.75—my fool horse broke in the stretch—and that was forty years ago; but first and last I’ve heard a lot of men explain how it happened that they hadn’t made a hog-killing. Of course, there must be a winning end to gambling, but all that these men have been able to tell about is the losing end. And I gather from their experiences that when a fellow does a little gambling on the side, it’s usually on the wrong side.
The fact of the matter is, that the race-horse, the faro tiger, and the poker kitty have bigger appetites than any healthy critter has a right to have; and after you’ve fed a tapeworm, there’s mighty little left for you. Following the horses may be pleasant exercise at the start, but they’re apt to lead you to the door of the poorhouse or the jail at the finish.
To get back to Clarence; he took about an hour to dock his cargo of hard luck, and another to tell me how strange it was that there was no draft from his London bankers waiting to welcome him. Naturally, I haven’t lived for sixty years among a lot of fellows who’ve been trying to drive a cold-chisel between me and my bank account, without being able to smell a touch coming a long time before it overtakes me, and Clarence’s intentions permeated his cheery conversation about as thoroughly as a fertilizer factory does a warm summer night. Of course, he gave me every opportunity to prove that I was a gentleman and to suggest delicately that I should be glad if he would let me act as his banker in this sudden emergency, but as I didn’t show any signs of being a gentleman and a banker, he was finally forced to come out and ask me in coarse commercial words to lend him a hundred. Said it hurt him to have to do it on such short acquaintance, but I couldn’t see that he was suffering any real pain.
Frankly, I shouldn’t have lent Clarence a dollar on his looks or his story, for they both struck me as doubtful collateral, but so long as he had a letter from you, asking me to “do anything in my power to oblige him, or to make his stay in Carlsbad pleasant,” I let him have the money on your account, to which I have written the cashier to charge it. Of course, I hope Clarence will pay you back, but I think you will save bookkeeping by charging it off to experience. I’ve usually found that these quick, glad borrowers are slow, sad payers. And when a fellow tells you that it hurts him to have to borrow, you can bet that the thought of having to pay is going to tie him up into a bow-knot of pain.