Once upon a Time there was a Work-Horse who used to lie awake Nights framing up Schemes to Corral more Collateral to leave to the Olive Branches.
They may have looked like Jimpson Weeds to the rest of the World but to Pa and Ma they were A-1 Olive Branches.
Pa was a self made Proposition—Sole-Leather, Hand-Stitched and Four-Ply, with Rivets around the Edge. His Business Career had been one long Rassle with Adverse Circumstances. Nothing was ever handed to him on a Sheffield Tray with Parsley around it. The World owed him a Living, but in order to collect it he had to conduct his Arguments with a piece of Lead-Pipe.
He was out for the Kids, if you know what that means. He was collecting Hebrew Diplomas and he had a special Liking for the light-colored Variety with a large C in the Corner.
He was going to provide for his Family, regardless of what happened to other Families.
He had a little Office back of the Bank and made a Specialty of helping those overtaken by Trouble. Any one in Financial Straits who went into the Back Office to arrange for a Loan was expected to open Negotiations by removing the Right Eye and laying it on the Table.
Pa had Mormon Whiskers and a Mackerel Eye and wore a Shawl instead of an Overcoat and kept a little Bag of Peppermint Drops in his Tail- Pocket and walked Pussy-Foot and took more Stock in Isaiah than he did in the Sermon on the Mount.
The Above is merely a Rough Outline, but it will help you to understand why his Wife preceded him to the Other Shore.
She was a Good Woman who never formed the Matinee Habit and up to the Day of her Death she could put her Hand on her Heart and truly say she had not wasted any Money on Jewelry or Cut Flowers.
But she could have written a large Book on how it feels to get up in the Morning and stir a little Oatmeal.
Pa and Ma saved and skimped and held out and trimmed and maneuvered for Years. They had been brought up in the School of Hard Knocks, but they wanted Bertrand and Isabel to go through Life on Ball Bearings. Pa finally went to his Reward, according to the Local Paper, and then it came out that Bertrand and Isabel had $400,000 each, which was more than Pa had ever turned in to the Assessor.
These two Children had been sheltered from the Great World, although never stinted in the matter of Sassafras Tea or the Privilege of reading Books written by Josephus and others.
As soon as he came into his inheritance, Bertrand looked about in a startled Manner and then bought himself a Plush Hat and began to cultivate Pimples.
A few Days later he might have been seen riding in a Demonstrating Car with a Salesman who wore Goggles and who told him that all the Swell Guys were putting in Orders for the $6,200 Type with the jeweled Mud- Guards. And next Morning the Sexton observed that Father, by turning over in the Grave, had somewhat loosened the fresh Earth.
Bertrand had Modern Plumbing put into the Old House and built a Porte Cochere on the Side and moved a lot of Red Velvet Furniture into the Parlor. Some said that the Moaning Sound heard at Night was only the Wind in the Evergreens, but others allowed that it was the returned Spirit of the Loan Agent checking over the Expenses.
Isabel stopped wearing Things that scratched her and began ordering from a Catalogue, because the Local Dealers didn’t carry anything but Common Stuff. Also she began to Entertain, and the first time she served Hot-House Asparagus in January, the House rocked on its Foundations.
Bertrand soon knew the Difference between a Rickey and a Sour and was trying to pretend to let on to be fond of the Smoky Taste in that Imported Article which has done so much to mitigate the Horrors of Golf.
In the meantime, Isabel had got so far along that she could tell by the Feel whether the Goods were real or only Mercerized, and each Setting Sun saw a new crimp in the Bank Account.
All Statisticians agree that a couple of Heirs can spend Much Money and yet besides if they do not work at anything else. Especially when every Pearl in the Rope represents a Chattel Mortgage and a fancy Weskit is a stand-off for One Month’s Rent of a good piece of Town Property.
Bertrand married a tall Blonde who knew that Columbus discovered America, and which kind of Massage Cream to buy, and let it go at that.
They went abroad and began to Ritz themselves. Every time Madam walked into one of those places marked “English Spoken while you Wait”—Zing! The Letter of Credit resembled a piece of Apple Pie just after the willing Farm Hand has taken a Hack at it.
Isabel hastened to make an Alliance with one of the oldest and toniest Families west of Bucyrus and north of Evansville. She succeeded in capturing an awful Swell Boy who wore an Outside Pocket on his Dress Coat and made a grand Salad Dressing (merely rubbing the Bowl with a Sprig of Garlic) and was otherwise qualified to maintain Social Leadership all the way from the Round House up to the Hub and Spoke Factory on the Hill.
Isabel’s Husband built a House near the Country Club so as to get the Automobile Trade, coming and going. Some of the Best People would drop in and show the Ice-Box how to take a Joke.
Late at Night, when a Hush fell upon the $28,000 Bungalow, the Deep Quiet signified that some had Passed Away and others had locked Horns at Bridge—10 Cents a Point.
Even Lake Superior would go Dry if tapped at two different Points by Drain Pipes of Sufficient Diameter.
After Bertrand returned from Europe with his Paintings and a Table d’Hote Vocabulary, he and Brother-in-Law began to compare Mortgages. By consulting the Road-Map they discovered that the Primrose Path would lead them over a high Precipice into a Stone Quarry, so they decided to take a Short Cut at Right Angles and head for the Millionaire Colony.
The Day they started for New York City with a Coil of Strong Rope, their purpose being to tie Kuhn, Loeb Co., Hand and Foot, it is said that a long vertical Crack appeared in one of the most expensive Monuments in Springvale Cemetery, as if some one underneath had been trying to break out and Head Off something.
In preserving the form of a Narrative it becomes necessary to add that Bertrand is now the obliging Night Clerk at a Hotel in Louisville, with a Maximum Rate of $1.50 Single and a Shower Bath.
Brother-in-Law is Assistant Treasurer at a Temple of Amusement which guarantees all the latest and best Films.
What became of the Bundle?
When Pa locked up his Desk and started for the Pearly Gates, he left behind in the office an humble Man Friday, who took care of the Books and did the Collecting.
This Understrapper was a Model Citizen of 35 who wore a plain String Tie, drank Malted Milk and was slightly troubled with Bronchitis. When the Children began throwing it at the Birds, he bought himself a Net and got Busy.
Any time Anybody wanted to plaster a Mortgage on a Desirable Corner he was there with a Fountain Pen and a Notary.
It nearly broke his Back to carry all the Property, but he kept buying it in and then hung over his Desk until all Hours of the Night figuring how he could meet the Payments.
He wore the same Overcoat for nine years and his Wife never saw one of those Hats with Bagoozulum and Bazoosh flounced all over it unless she went down town and looked through a Window.
One Day a friend remonstrated with the Slave.
“Why are you wearing yourself to a Shadow and getting Old before your Time?” he asked. “What shall it avail a Man if he is Principal Depositor at a Bank when it comes to riding behind Horses that wear Plumes?”
“I will tell you,” replied the Slave. “I have a Boy named Bertrand and a little Girl named Isabel and my Wife and I have decided that it is our Duty to leave them Well-Fixed.”
Moral: Somebody must rake up the Leaves before the Young People can have a successful Bon-Fire.
The Heir and the Heiress – Knocking the Neighbors