Dear Pierrepont: They’ve boiled everything out of me except the original sin, and even that’s a little bleached, and they’ve taken away my roll of yellow-backs, so I reckon they’re about through with me here, for the present. But instead of returning to the office, I think I’ll take your advice and run down to Florida for a few weeks and have a “try at the tarpon,” as you put it. I don’t really need a tarpon, or want a tarpon, and I don’t know what I could do with a tarpon if I hooked one, except to yell at him to go away; but I need a burned neck and a peeled nose, a little more zest for my food, and a little more zip about my work, if the interests of the American hog are going to be safe in my hands this spring. I don’t seem to have so much luck as some fellows in hooking these fifty-pound fish lies, but I always manage to land a pretty heavy appetite and some big nights’ sleep when I strike salt water. Then I can go back to the office and produce results like a hen in April with eggs at eleven cents a dozen.
[Illustration: I don’t really need a tarpon ... but I need a burned neck and a peeled nose]
Health is like any inheritance—you can spend the interest in work and play, but you mustn’t break into the principal. Once you do, and it’s only a matter of time before you’ve got to place the remnants in the hands of a doctor as receiver; and receivers are mighty partial to fees and mighty slow to let go. But if you don’t work with him to get the business back on a sound basis there’s no such thing as any further voluntary proceedings, and the remnants become remains.
It’s a mighty simple thing, though, to keep in good condition, because about everything that makes for poor health has to get into you right under your nose. Yet a fellow’ll load up with pie and buckwheats for breakfast and go around wondering about his stomach-ache, as if it were a put-up job that had been played on him when he wasn’t looking; or he’ll go through his dinner pickling each course in a different brand of alcohol, and sob out on the butler’s shoulder that the booze isn’t as pure as it used to be when he was a boy; or he’ll come home at midnight singing “The Old Oaken Bucket,” and act generally as if all the water in the world were in the well on the old homestead, and the mortgage on that had been foreclosed; or from 8 P.M. to 3 G.X. he’ll sit in a small game with a large cigar, breathing a blend of light-blue cigarette smoke and dark-blue cuss-words, and next day, when his heart beats four and skips two, and he has that queer, hopping sensation in the knees, he’ll complain bitterly to the other clerks that this confining office work is killing him.