Poor Vanderbilt! How I pity you: and this is honest. You are an old man, and ought to have some rest, and yet you have to struggle, and deny yourself, and rob yourself of restful sleep and peace of mind, because you need money so badly. I always feel for a man who is so poverty ridden as you. Don’t misunderstand me, Vanderbilt. I know you own seventy millions: but then you know and I know that it isn’t what man has that constitutes wealth. No—it is to be satisfied with what one has; that is wealth. As long as one sorely needs a certain additional amount, that man isn’t rich. Seventy times seventy millions can’t make him rich, as long as his poor heart is breaking for more. I am just about rich enough to buy the least valuable horse in your stable, perhaps, but I cannot sincerely and honestly take an oath that I need any more now. And so I am rich. But you, you have got seventy millions and you need five hundred millions, and are really suffering for it. Your poverty is something appalling. I tell you truly that I do not believe I could live twenty-four hours with the awful weight of four hundred and thirty millions of abject want crushing down upon me. I should die under it. My soul is so wrought upon by your helpless pauperism that if you came to me now, I would freely put ten cents in your tin cup, if you carry one, and say, “God pity you, poor unfortunate.”
Many a young man has succumbed to his environment. The hero of the following moving tale is no exception:
She was waiting for him at the station. It was two o’clock in the afternoon, and he had to go back that evening on the midnight train. He acted like a man in a dream, but, none the less, he appeared to know precisely what he was about.
As the train drew up the station was crowded. There she was in the midst of the crowd, smiling and beckoning to him. Without a moment’s hesitation, and before she even realized what was happening, he sprang forward, put his arms around her, and planted a clinging kiss on her lips. She blushed intensely and whispered as well as she could:
“Oh, you mustn’t!”
He made no reply. His eyes were fixed. Half frightened, she led the way to the motor car. They got in. He promptly took her hand. She attempted to motion to him that the chauffeur was in front and could see their reflection in the glass windshield. He merely threw both arms around her and almost crushed her, as he kissed her over and over again. Her face showed surprise and indignation.
“You mustn’t! We’re not engaged.”
“As if that mattered,” he muttered, taking another kiss.
The motor car arrived at her home. They got out. They entered the house. Her mother came forward to receive them. Suddenly, without warning, he sprang forward and kissed her, throwing his arms about her like a cyclone. Her mother, attempting to free herself, gasped. This young man—whom she scarcely knew! The girl herself stared at him in open-eyed astonishment.