I’m mighty glad to hear you’re getting so many wedding presents that you think you’ll have enough to furnish your house, only you don’t want to fingermark them looking to see it a hundred-thousand-dollar check from me ain’t slipped in among them, because it ain’t.
I intend to give you a present, all right, but there’s a pretty wide margin for guessing between a hundred thousand dollars and the real figures. And you don’t want to feel too glad about what you’ve got, either, because you’re going to find out that furnishing a house with wedding presents is equivalent to furnishing it on the installment plan. Along about the time you want to buy a go-cart for the twins, you’ll discover that you’ll have to make Tommy’s busted old baby-carriage do, because you’ve got to use the money to buy a tutti-frutti ice-cream spoon for the young widow who sent you a doormat with “Welcome” on it. And when she gets it, the young widow will call you that idiotic Mr. Graham, because she’s going to have sixteen other tutti-frutti ice-cream spoons, and her doctor’s told her that if she eats sweet things she’ll have to go in the front door like a piano—sideways.
Then when you get the junk sorted over and your house furnished with it, you’re going to sit down to dinner on some empty soap-boxes, with the soup in cut-glass finger-bowls, and the fish on a hand-painted smoking-set, and the meat on dinky, little egg-shell salad plates, with ice-cream forks and fruit knives to eat with. You’ll spend most of that meal wondering why somebody didn’t send you one of those hundred and sixteen piece five-dollar-ninety-eight-marked-down-from-six sets of china. While I don’t mean to say that the average wedding present carries a curse instead of a blessing, it could usually repeat a few cuss-words if it had a retentive memory.
Speaking of wedding presents and hundred-thousand-dollar checks naturally brings to mind my old friend Hamilton Huggins—Old Ham they called him at the Yards—and the time he gave his son, Percival, a million dollars.
Take him by and large, Ham was as slick as a greased pig. Before he came along, the heft of the beef hearts went into the fertilizer tanks, but he reasoned out that they weren’t really tough, but that their firmness was due to the fact that the meat in them was naturally condensed, and so he started putting them out in his celebrated condensed mincemeat at ten cents a pound. Took his pigs’ livers, too, and worked ’em up into a genuine Strasburg pate de foie gras that made the wild geese honk when they flew over his packing-house. Discovered that a little chopped cheek-meat at two cents a pound was a blamed sight healthier than chopped pork at six. Reckoned that by running twenty-five per cent. of it into his pork sausage he saved a hundred thousand people every year from becoming cantankerous old dyspeptics.