A well-fixed Mortgage Shark, residing at a Way Station, had a Daughter whose Experience was not as large as her prospective Bank Roll. She had all the component Parts of a Peach, but she didn’t know how to make a Showing, and there was nobody in Town qualified to give her a quiet Hunch.
She got her Fashion Hints from a Trade Catalogue, and took her Tips on Etiquette and Behavior from the Questions and Answers Department of an Agricultural Monthly.
The Girl and her Father lived in a big White House, with Evergreen Trees and whitewashed Dornicks in front of it, and a Wind-Pump at the rear. Father was a good deal the same kind of a Man as David Harum, except that he didn’t let go of any Christmas Presents, or work the Soft Pedal when he had a chance to apply a Crimp to some Widow who had seen Better Days. In fact, Daughter was the only one on Earth who could induce him to Loosen Up.
Now, it happened that there came to this Town every Thirty Days a brash Drummer, who represented a Tobacco House. He was a Gabby Young Man, and he could Articulate at all Times, whether he had anything to Say or not.
One night, at a Lawn Fête given by the Ladies of the Methodist Congregation, he met Daughter. She noticed that his Trousers did not bag at the Knees; also that he wore a superb Ring. They strolled under the Maples, and he talked what is technically known as Hot Air. He made an Impression considerably deeper than himself. She promised to Correspond.
On the occasion of his next Visit to the Way Station, he let her wear his Ring, and made a Wish, while she took him riding in the Phaeton. He began to carry her Photograph in his Watch, and show it to the Boys employed at the House. Sometimes he would fold over one of her Letters so they could see how it started out. He said the Old Man had Nothing But, and he proposed to make it a case of Marry. Truly, it seemed that he was the principal Cake in the Pantry, and little did he suspect that he could be Frosted.
But Daughter, after much Pleading, induced Father to send her to a Finishing School in the East. (A Finishing School is a Place at which Young Ladies are taught how to give the Quick Finish to all Persons who won’t do.)
At School, the Daughter tied up with a Chum, who seldom overlooked a Wednesday Matinee, and she learned more in three Weeks than her Childhood Home could have shown her in three Centuries.
Now she began to see the other Kind; the Kind that Wears a Cutaway, with a White Flower, in the Morning, a Frock, with Violets, in the Afternoon, and a jimmy little Tuxedo at Night.
For the first time she began to listen to Harness that had Chains to it, and she rode in Vehicles that permitted her to glance in at the Second Stories.
She stopped wearing Hats, and began to choose Confections. She selected them Languidly, three at a time.
Then the Bill to the Way Station, and Father down with Heart Failure.
She kept Mr. Sothern’s Picture on her Dresser, with two Red Candles burning in front of it, and every time she thought of Gabby Will, the Crackerjack Salesman, she reached for the Peau d’Espagne and sprayed herself.
One Day when the Tobacco Salesman came up Main Street with his Grips, on his way to visit the Trade, he met the Drug Clerk, who told him that She was Home on a Visit. So he hurried through with his Work, got a Shave, changed ends on his Cuffs, pared his Nails, bought a box of Marshmallows, and went out to the House.
Daughter was on the Lawn, seated under a Canopy that had set Father back thirty-two Dollars. There was a Hired Hand sprinkling the Grass with a Hose, and as Will, the Conversational Drummer, came up the Long Walk, Daughter called to the Hired Hand, and said: “Johnson, there is a Strange Man coming up the Walk; change the Direction of the Stream somewhat, else you may Dampen him.”
The Drummer approached her, feeling of his Necktie, and wondered if she would up and Kiss him, right in broad Daylight. She didn’t. Daughter allowed a rose-colored Booklet, by Guy de Maupassant, to sink among the Folds of her French Gown, and then she Looked at him, and said: “All Goods must be delivered at the Rear.”
“Don’t you Know me?” he asked.
“Rully, it seems to me I have seen you, Somewhere,” she replied, “but I cahn’t place you. Are you the Man who tunes the Piano?”
“Don’t you remember the night I met you at the Lawn Fête?” he asked; and then, Chump that he was, and all Rattled, he told her his Name, instead of giving her the scorching Come-Back that he composed next Day, when it was Too Late.
“I meet so many People traveling about,” she said; “I cahn’t remember all of them, you know. I dare say you called to see Pu-pah; he will be here Presently.”
Then she gave him “Some one’s else,” “Neyether,” “Savoir-Faire,” and a few other Crisp Ones, hot from the Finishing School, after which she asked him how the Dear Villagers were coming on. He reminded her that he did not live in the Town. She said: “Only Fahncy!” and he said he guessed he’d have to be Going, as he had promised a Man to meet him at Jordan’s Store before the Bank closed.
As he moved toward the St. Nicholas Hotel he kept his Hand on his Solar Plexus. At five o’clock he rode out of Town on a Local.
Moral: Anybody can Win unless there happens to be a Second Entry.
The Fable of the Brash Drummer and the Peach Who Learned that There Were Others – Fables in Slang