“‘All right, Mr. Biddle,’ says the mayor. ‘And now, Doc Waugh-hoo,’ he goes on, ’why don’t you demonstrate? Can’t you pull the cork out of your magnetism with your teeth and hocus-pocus them handcuffs off?’
“‘Come on, officer,’ says I, dignified. ’I may as well make the best of it.’ And then I turns to old Banks and rattles my chains.
“‘Mr. Mayor,’ says I, ’the time will come soon when you’ll believe that personal magnetism is a success. And you’ll be sure that it succeeded in this case, too.’
“And I guess it did.
“When we got nearly to the gate, I says: ’We might meet somebody now, Andy. I reckon you better take ’em off, and—’ Hey? Why, of course it was Andy Tucker. That was his scheme; and that’s how we got the capital to go into business together.”
Jeff Peters must be reminded. Whenever he is called upon, pointedly, for a story, he will maintain that his life has been as devoid of incident as the longest of Trollope’s novels. But lured, he will divulge. Therefore I cast many and divers flies upon the current of his thoughts before I feel a nibble.
“I notice,” said I, “that the Western farmers, in spite of their prosperity, are running after their old populistic idols again.”
“It’s the running season,” said Jeff, “for farmers, shad, maple trees and the Connemaugh river. I know something about farmers. I thought I struck one once that had got out of the rut; but Andy Tucker proved to me I was mistaken. ‘Once a farmer, always a sucker,’ said Andy. ’He’s the man that’s shoved into the front row among bullets, ballots and the ballet. He’s the funny-bone and gristle of the country,’ said Andy, ‘and I don’t know who we would do without him.’
“One morning me and Andy wakes up with sixty-eight cents between us in a yellow pine hotel on the edge of the pre-digested hoe-cake belt of Southern Indiana. How we got off the train there the night before I can’t tell you; for she went through the village so fast that what looked like a saloon to us through the car window turned out to be a composite view of a drug store and a water tank two blocks apart. Why we got off at the first station we could, belongs to a little oroide gold watch and Alaska diamond deal we failed to pull off the day before, over the Kentucky line.
“When I woke up I heard roosters crowing, and smelt something like the fumes of nitro-muriatic acid, and heard something heavy fall on the floor below us, and a man swearing.
“‘Cheer up, Andy,’ says I. ’We’re in a rural community. Somebody has just tested a gold brick downstairs. We’ll go out and get what’s coming to us from a farmer; and then yoicks! and away.’
“Farmers was always a kind of reserve fund to me. Whenever I was in hard luck I’d go to the crossroads, hook a finger in a farmer’s suspender, recite the prospectus of my swindle in a mechanical kind of a way, look over what he had, give him back his keys, whetstone and papers that was of no value except to owner, and stroll away without asking any questions. Farmers are not fair game to me as high up in our business as me and Andy was; but there was times when we found ’em useful, just as Wall Street does the Secretary of the Treasury now and then.