“That little baker man knows more about baking than oil refining, but I’d feel better if we invited him to join us—I’ve got him on my conscience.”
I of course agreed. He talked to his friend, who said he would gladly sell if we would send an appraiser to value his plant, which we did, and then there arose an unexpected difficulty. The price at which the plant was to be purchased was satisfactory, but the ex-baker insisted that Mr. Flagler should advise him whether he should take his pay in cash or Standard Oil certificates at par. He told Mr. Flagler that if he took it in cash it would pay all his debts, and he would be glad to have his mind free of many anxieties; but if Mr. Flagler said the certificates were going to pay good dividends, he wanted to get into and keep up with a good thing. It was rather a hard proposition to put up to Mr. Flagler, and at first he declined to advise or express any opinion, but the German stuck to him and wouldn’t let him shirk a responsibility which in no way belonged to him. Finally Mr. Flagler suggested that he take half the amount in cash and pay 50 per cent. on account of his debts, and put the other half in certificates, and see what happened. This he did, and as time went on he bought more certificates, and Mr. Flagler never had to apologize for the advice he gave him. I am confident that my old partner gave this affair as much time and thought as he did to any of his own large problems, and the incident may be taken as a measure of the man.
But these old men’s tales can hardly be interesting to the present generation, though perhaps they will not be useless if even tiresome stories make young people realize how, above all other possessions, is the value of a friend in every department of life without any exception whatsoever.
How many different kinds of friends there are! They should all be held close at any cost; for, although some are better than others, perhaps, a friend of whatever kind is important; and this one learns as one grows older. There is the kind that when you need help has a good reason just at the moment, of course, why it is impossible to extend it.
“I can’t indorse your note,” he says, “because I have an agreement with my partners not to.”
“I’d like to oblige you, but I can explain why at the moment,” etc., etc.
I do not mean to criticize this sort of friendship; for sometimes it is a matter of temperament; and sometimes the real necessities are such that the friend cannot do as he would like to do. As I look back over my friends, I can remember only a few of this kind and a good many of the more capable sort. One especial friend I had. His name was S.V. Harkness, and from the first of our acquaintance he seemed to have every confidence in me.