The Galloping Pilgrim By George Ade

A certain affluent Bachelor happened to be the only Grandson of a rugged Early Settler who wore a Coon-Skip Cap and drank Corn Juice out of a Jug. Away back in the Days when every Poor Man had Bacon in the Smoke House, this Pioneer had been soaked in a Trade and found himself loaded up with a Swamp Subdivision in the Edge of Town.

Fifty years later the City had spread two miles beyond the Swamp and Grandson was submerged beneath so much Unearned Increment that he began to speak with what sounded to him like an English Accent and his Shirts were ordered from Paris.

On the 1st of every Month the Agents would crawl into the Presence of the Grandson of the mighty Muskrat Hunter and dump before him a Wagon- load of Paper Money which had been snatched away from the struggling Shop-Keepers, who, in turn, had wheedled it from the people who paid a Nickel apiece for Sunday Papers so as to look at the Pictures of the Decorations in the Supper Room at the Assembly Ball graced by the Presence of the aforesaid Bachelor whose Grandfather had lifted the original Catfish out of the Chicago River.

Then the Representative of the Old Family would take a Garden Rake and pattern all this hateful Currency into a neat Mound, after which a milk-fed Secretary would iron it out and disinfect it and sprinkle it with Lilac Water and tie it into artistic Packets using Old Gold Ribbon.

After that, it was Hard Lines for the Bachelor, because he had to sit by a window at the Club and dope out some new Way of getting all that Coin back into Circulation.

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As a result of these Herculean Efforts to vaporize his Income, he found himself at the age of 40 afflicted with Social Gastritis. He had gorged himself with the Pleasures of this World until the sight of a Menu Card gave him the Willies and the mere mention of Musical Comedy would cause him to break down and Cry like a Child.

He had crossed the Atlantic so often that he no longer wished to sit at the Captain’s Table. He had rolled them high at Monte Carlo and watched the Durbar at Delhi and taken Tea on the Terrace at Shepheard’s in Cairo and rickshawed through Japan and ridden the surf in Honolulu, while his Name was a Household Word among the Barmaids of the Ice Palace in London, otherwise known as the Savoy.

Occasionally he would return to his provincial Home to raise the Rents on the Shop-Keepers and give out an Interview criticising the New School of Politicians for trifling with Vested Interests and seeking to disturb Existing Conditions.

Any time his Rake-Off was reduced from $10 a Minute to $9.98 he would let out a Howl like a Prairie Wolf and call upon Mortimer, his Man, for Sympathy.

After Twenty Years of getting up at Twilight to throw aside the Pyjamas and take a Tub and ease himself into the Costume made famous by John Drew, the Routine of buying Golden Pheasants and Special Cuvee Vintages for almost-Ladies, preserved by Benzoate of Soda and other Chemical Mysteries, began to lose its Sharp Zest.

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In other Words, he was All In.

He was Track-Sore and Blase and full of Ongway. He had played the whole String and found there was nothing to it and now he was ready to retire to a Monastery and wear a Gunny-Sack Smoking Jacket and live on Spinach.

The Vanities of the Night-World had got on his Nerves at last. Instead of sitting 8 Feet away from an Imported Orchestra at 2 A. M. and taunting his poor old Alimentary System with Sea Food, he began to prefer to take a 10-Grain Sleeping Powder and fall back in the Alfalfa.

About Noon the next Day he would come up for Air, and in order to kill the rest of the Day he would have to hunt up a Game of Auction Bridge with three or four other gouty old Mavericks.

When the Carbons begin to burn low in the sputtering Arc Lights along the Boulevard of Pleasure and the Night Wind cuts like a Chisel and the Reveler finds his bright crimson Brannigan slowly dissolving into a Bust Head, there is but one thing for a Wise Ike to do and that is to Chop on the Festivities and beat it to a Rest Cure.

That is just what the well-fixed Bachelor decided to do.

He resolved to Marry and get away from the Bright Lights and lie down somewhere in a quilted Dressing Gown and a pair of Soft Slippers and devote the remainder of his Life to a grand clean-up of the Works of Arnold Bennett.

He selected a well-seasoned Senorita who was still young enough to show to your Men Friends but old enough to cut out all the prevalent Mushgush about the Irish Drama and Norwegian Art and Buddhism and the true Symbolism of Russian Dancing.

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Best of all, she had a spotless Reputation, holding herself down to one Bronx at a Time and always going behind a Screen to do her Inhaling.

They were Married according to the new Ceremonies devised by the Ringling Brothers. As they rode away to their Future Home, the old Stager leaned back in the Limousine and said: “At last the Bird has Lit. I am going to put on the Simple Life for an Indefinite Run. I have played the Hoop-La Game to a Standstill, so it is me for a Haven of Rest.”

As soon as they were safely in their own Apartments, the beautiful Bride began to do Flip Flops and screech for Joy.

“At last I have a License to cut loose!” she exclaimed. “For years I have hankered and honed to be Dead Game and back Excitement right off the Cards, but every time I pulled a Caper the stern-faced Mater would be at Elbow, saying: ‘Nix on the Acrobatics or you’ll lose your Number.’ Now I’m a regular honest-to-goodness Married Woman and I don’t recognize any Limit except the Sky-Line. I grabbed you because I knew you had been to all the Places that keep Open and could frame up a new Jamboree every day in the Year. I’m going to plow an 8-foot Furrow across Europe and Dine forevermore at Swell Joints where famous Show Girls pass so close to your Table that you can almost reach out and Touch them. I’m going to Travel 12 months every Year and do all the Stunts known to the most imbecile Globe-Trotter.”

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A few Weeks after that, a Haggard Man with tattered Coat-Tails was seen going over the old familiar Jumps.

Moral: Those who Marry to Escape something usually find Something Else.

The Galloping Pilgrim – Knocking the Neighbors

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