“‘I’ll try,’ said Andy. ’There are certain Laws of Nature that Free Rural Delivery can’t overcome.’
“Andy fumbles around awhile in the closet and comes out dressed in a suit with brown and yellow checks as big as your hand. His vest is red with blue dots, and he wears a high silk hat. I noticed he’d soaked his sandy mustache in a kind of blue ink.
“‘Great Barnums?’ says I. ’You’re a ringer for a circus thimblerig man.’
“‘Right,’ says Andy. ’Is the buggy outside? Wait here till I come back. I won’t be long.’
“Two hours afterwards Andy steps into the room and lays a wad of money on the table.
“‘Eight hundred and sixty dollars,’ said he. ’Let me tell you. He was in. He looked me over and began to guy me. I didn’t say a word, but got out the walnut shells and began to roll the little ball on the table. I whistled a tune or two, and then I started up the old formula.
“‘Step up lively, gentlemen,’ says I, ’and watch the little ball. It costs you nothing to look. There you see it, and there you don’t. Guess where the little joker is. The quickness of the hand deceives the eye.
“’I steals a look at the farmer man. I see the sweat coming out on his forehead. He goes over and closes the front door and watches me some more. Directly he says: “I’ll bet you twenty I can pick the shell the ball’s under now.”
“‘After that,’ goes on Andy, ’there is nothing new to relate. He only had $860 cash in the house. When I left he followed me to the gate. There was tears in his eyes when he shook hands.
“’"Bunk,” says he, “thank you for the only real pleasure I’ve had in years. It brings up happy old days when I was only a farmer and not an agriculturalist. God bless you."’”
Here Jeff Peters ceased, and I inferred that his story was done.
“Then you think”—I began.
“Yes,” said Jeff. “Something like that. You let the farmers go ahead and amuse themselves with politics. Farming’s a lonesome life; and they’ve been against the shell game before.”
“I see that the cause of Education has received the princely gift of more than fifty millions of dollars,” said I.
I was gleaning the stray items from the evening papers while Jeff Peters packed his briar pipe with plug cut.
“Which same,” said Jeff, “calls for a new deck, and a recitation by the entire class in philanthromathematics.”
“Is that an allusion?” I asked.
“It is,” said Jeff. “I never told you about the time when me and Andy Tucker was philanthropists, did I? It was eight years ago in Arizona. Andy and me was out in the Gila mountains with a two-horse wagon prospecting for silver. We struck it, and sold out to parties in Tucson for $25,000. They paid our check at the bank in silver—a thousand dollars in a sack. We loaded it in our