After all, there was more in Percy than cussedness, for when he finally decided that it was a case of root hog or die with him, he turned in and rooted. It took him ten years to get back into his father’s confidence and a partnership, and he was still paying on the million-dollar note when the old man died and left him his whole fortune. It would have been cheaper for me in the end if I had let the old man disinherit him, because when Percy ran that Mess Pork corner three years ago, he caught me short a pretty good line and charged me two dollars a barrel more than any one else to settle. Explained that he needed the money to wipe out the unpaid balance of a million-dollar note that he’d inherited from his father.
I simply mention Percy to show why I’m a little slow to regard members of my family as charitable institutions that I should settle endowments on. If there’s one thing I like less than another, it’s being regarded as a human meal-ticket. What is given to you always belongs to some one else, and if the man who gave it doesn’t take it back, some fellow who doesn’t have to have things given to him is apt to come along and run away with it. But what you earn is your own, and apt to return your affection for it with interest—pretty good interest.
Your affectionate father,
P.S.—I forgot to say that I had bought a house on Michigan Avenue for Helen, but there’s a provision in the deed that she can turn you out if you don’t behave.
From John Graham, at the Union Stock Yards, Chicago, to his son, Pierrepont, at Yemassee-on-the-Tallahassee. The young man is now in the third quarter of the honeymoon, and the old man has decided that it is time to bring him fluttering down to earth.
CHICAGO, January 17, 189-.
Dear Pierrepont: After you and Helen had gone off looking as if you’d just bought seats on ’Change and been baptized into full membership with all the sample bags of grain that were handy, I found your new mother-in-law out in the dining-room, and, judging by the plates around her, she was carrying in stock a full line of staple and fancy groceries and delicatessen. When I struck her she was crying into her third plate of ice cream, and complaining bitterly to the butler because the mould had been opened so carelessly that some salt had leaked into it.
Of course, I started right in to be sociable and to cheer her up, but I reckon I got my society talk a little mixed—I’d been one of the pall-bearers at Josh Burton’s funeral the day before—and I told her that she must bear up and eat a little something to keep up her strength, and to remember that our loss was Helen’s gain.