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he picked out one of the stock and busted it be
yond recognition. Since that he has been writ
ing articles in violet ink relative to old times
and publishing them over the signature of
Old Settler.

Old Subscriber is a friend of mine who reads
his paper at the hotels while waiting for a gra
tuitous drink. Fair Play is a retired monte
man, and Pro Bono Publico is our genial and
urbane undertaker.

I am a very prolific writer, but all my worfc is
not printed. A venal and corrupt press at times
hesitates about giving currency to such fearless,
earnest truths as I make nse of.

I am also the man who says brave things in
the columns of the papers when the editor him
self does not dare to say them because he is
afraid he will be killed. But what recks Veri-
tas the bold and free ? Does he flinch or quail !
Not a flinch ; not a quail.


Boldly he flings aside his base fears, and with
bitter vituperation he assails those he dislikes,
and attacks with resounding blows his own
personal enemies, fearlessly signing his name,
Yeritas, to the article, so that those who yearn
to kill him may know just who he is.

What would the world do without Yeritas ?
In the h^nds of a horde of journalists who hare
nothing to do but attend to their business, left
with no anonymous friend to whom they can
fly when momentous occasions arise, when the
sound adviee and better judgment of an outside
friend is needed, their condition would indeed
be a pitiable one. But he will nerer desert us.
He is ever at hand, prompt to say, over his nom
de plume, what he might hesitate to say over
his own name, for fear that he might go home
with a battle of Gettysburg under each eye and
a nose like a volcanic eruption. He cheerfully
attacks everything and everybody, and then
goes away till the fight, the funeral, and the libel
suit are over. Then he returns and assails the
grim monster "Wrong. He proposes improve
ments, and the following week a bitter reply
comes from Tax-Payer. Pro Bono Publico, the
retired three-card-monteist, says : '* Let us have
the proposed improvement, regardless of cost."


Then the cynical U. L. See (who is really the
janitor at the blind asylum) grumbles about
useless expense, and finally draws out from the
teeming brain of Constant Reader a long, flabby
essay, written on red-ruled leaves, cut out of an
old meat-market ledger, written economically
on both sides with light blue ink made of bluing
and oold tea. This essay introduces, ujder the
most trying circumstances, such crude yet origi
nal literary gems as :

Wad some power the glftl* gie us, etc.
He also says :

The wee sma' hours ayant the twal.
And farther on :

Breathes there a man with soul so deau.

Who never to himself hath said, etc.
His essay is not so much the vehicle of thought
as it is the accommodation train for fragments
of his old school declamations to ride on.

But to Yeritas we owe much. I say this be
cause I know what I am talking about, for am I
not old Veritas himself ? Haven't I been writ
ing things for the papers ever since papers were
published ? A.m I not the man who for years
hag been a stranger to fear ? Have I not again
and again called the congressman, the capital
ist, the clergyman, the voter and the philanthro
pist everything I could lay my tongue to, and


then fought mosquitoes in the deep reoease* of
the swamp while the editor remained at th
office and took the credit for writing what I had
given him for nothing ? Has not many a papr
built up a name and a libel suit upon what I
have written, and yet I am almost unknown ?
When people ask, Who is Veritas ? and wher
does he live ? no one seems to know. He is up
seven flights of stairs, in a hot room that smell*
of old clothes and neglected thoughts. Far from
the " madding crowd," as Constant Beader has
so truly said, I sit alone, with no personal prop
erty but an overworked costume, a strong lor
for truth, and a shawl-strap full of suggestions
to the overestimated man who edits the paper.
So I battle on, with only the meager and flea-
bitten reward of seeing my name in print
' 4 anon," as Constant Beader would say. All I
have to fork over to posterity is my good name,
I beg leave to sign here.


Drug bu$ii^5$ 117 K ai ?S a 5*


mR. BILL NTB. DEAR SIB: I hope you will pardoz
me for addressing you on a matter of pure busi
ness, but I have heard that you are not averse to going out
of your way to do a favor now and then to those who ar
siaoere and appreciative.

I hare learned from a friend that you have been around
all aver the west, and so I have taken the liberty of writing
you to ask what you think would be the chances of success
for a young man jf .he were to go to Kansas to enter the
drug business.

I am a practical young druggist 33 years of age, and have
some raoney a few hundred dollars with which to go
.ito business. Would you advise Kansas or Colorado as a
good part of the west for that business ?

I have also written some for the press, but with little
sucoeas. I inclose you a few slips cut from the papers in
which these articles originally appeared. I send stamp for
reply and hope you will answer me, even though your
time may be taken up pretty well by other matters. Be-
apeetfully yours. ADOLPH JAYNES, Lock-Box 604.

HUDSON, Wis., Oct. 1.

MB. ADOLPH JAYNES, Lock-box 604.
DEAR SIR : Your favor of late date is at had,
and I take pleasure in writing this dictated
letter to you, using the columns of the Chicago
DAILY NEWS as a delicate way of teaching
you. I will take the liberty of replying to your
last question first, if you pardon me, and I say
that you would do better, no doubt at once, in a
financial way, to go on with your drug business
than to monkey with literature.

In the first place, your style of composition is
like the present style of dress among men. It
is absolutely correct, and therefore it is abso
lutely like that of nine men out of every ten we
meet. Your style of writing has a mustache on
it, wears a three-button cutaway of some Scotch
mixture, carries a cane, and wears a straight,
stand-up collar and scarf. It is so correct and
so exactly in conformity with the prevailing
style of composition, and your thoughts are ex
pressed so thoroughly like other people 's methods
of dressing up their sentences and sand-paper
ing the soul out of what they say, that I honestly
think you would succeed better by trying to
subsist upon the quick sales and small profits
which the drug trade insures.


Now, let ns consider the question of location .

Seriously, you ought to look over the groua.4
yourself, but as you have asked me to give you
my best judgment on the question of preference
as between Kansas and Colorado I will say with
out hesitation that, if you mean by the drug
business the sale of sure-enough drugs, medi
cines, paints, oils, glass, putty, toilet articles,
and prescriptions carefully compounded, I
would not go to Kansas at this time.

If you would like to go to a flourishing country
and put out a big basswood mortar in front of
your shop in order to sell the tincture of damna
tion throughout bleeding Kansas, now is your
golden opportunity. Now is the accepted time.
If it is the great, big, burning desire of your
heart to go into a town of 2,000 people and opea
the thirteenth drug store in order that you may
stand behind a tall black-walnut prescription
case day in and day out, with a graduate in one
hand and a Babcock fire-extinguisher in the
other, filling orders for whisky made of stump-
water and the juice of future punishment, you
will do well to go to Kansas. It is a temperance
state, and no saloons are allowed there. All is
quiet and orderly, and the drug business is a
great suooeM.


You can run a dummy drug store there frith
two dozen dreary old glass bottles on the shelve*,
punctuated by the hand of time and the Kansas
fly of the period, and with a prohibitory law at
your back and a tall, red barrel in the backroom
filled with a mixture that will burn great holes
into nature's heart and make the cemetery
blossom as the rose, and in a few years you can
sell enough of this justly celebrated preparation
for household, scientific, and experimental pur
poses only to fill your flabby pockets with wealth
and paint the pure air of Kansas a bright and
inflammatory red.

If you sincerely and earnestly yearn for a
field where you may go forth and garner an
honest harvest from the legitimate effort of an
upright soda fountain and free and open sale of
slippery elm in its unadulterated condition, I
would go to some state where I would not have
to enter into competition with a style of phar
macy that has the unholy instincts and am
bitions of a blind pig. I would not go into the
field where red-eyed ruin simply waited for a
prescription blank, not necessarily for publi
cation, but simply as a guaranty of good faith,
in order that it may bound forth from behind
the prescription case and populate the poor-

houses and the paupers' nettle-grown addition
to the silent city of the dead.

The great question of how best to down the
demon rum is before the American people, and
it will not be put aside until it is settled ; but
while this is being attended to, Mr. Jaynes, I
would start a drug store farther away from the
center of conflict and go on joyously, sacrificing
expensive tinctures, compounds, and sirups at
bed-rock prices.

Go on, Mr. Jaynes, dealing out to the yearn
ing, panting public, drugs, paints, oils, glass
putty, varnish, patent medicines, and prescrip
tions carefully compounded, with none to molest
or make afraid, but shun, oh shun the wild-eyed
pharmacopoeia that contains naught but the
festering fluid so popular in Kansas, a compound
that holds crime in solution and ruin in bulk,
that shrivels up a man's gastric economy, and
sears great ragged holes into his immortal soul.
Take this advice home to your heart and you
will ever command the hearty co-operation of
"yours for health," as the late Lydia E. Pink-
ham so succinctly said.

CtyS perils of Identification

CHICAGO, Feb. 20, 1888.

FINANCIAL circles here have been a good
deal interested in the discovery of a cipher
which has been recently adopted by a de
positor and which began to attract the attention
at first of a gentleman employed in the Clearing-
House. He was telling me about it and show
ing me the vouchers or duplicates of them.

It was several months ago that he first noticed
on the back of a check passing through the
Clearing-House the following cipher, -written in
a symmetrical Gothic hand :

DEAR SIK : Herewith find payment for last month's but
ter. It was hardly up to the average. Why do you blonde
your butter ? Your butter last month tried to assume an
effeminate air, which certainly was not consistent with Its
vigor. Is it not possible that this butter is the brother to
what we had the month previous, and that It was ex
changed for its sister by mistake? We have generally
liked your butter very much, but we will have to dealelser
where if you are going to encourage it in wearing a full
beard. Yours truly, W.


Moneyed men all over Chicago and financial
eryptogrammers came to read the curious thing
and to try and work out its bearing on trade.
Everybody took a look at it, and went away de
feated. Even the men who were engaged in try
ing to figure out the identity of the Snell mur
derer took a day off and tried their Waterbury
thinkers on this problem. In the midst of it all
another check passed through the Clearing-
House with this cipher, in the same hand :

SIB : Your bill for the past month Is too much. You for
get the eggs returned at the end of second week, for
which you were to give me credit. The cook broke one of
them by mistake, and then threw up the portfolio of pie-
founder in our once joyous home. I will not dock you
for loss of cook, but I cannot allow you for the eggs. How
you succeed in dodging quarantine with eggs like that is a
mystery to yours truly, W.

Great excitement followed the discovery of
this indorsement on a check for $32.87. Every
body who knew anything about ciphering was
called in to consider it. A young man from a
high school near here, who made a specialty of
mathematics and pimples, and who could readily
tell how long a shadow a nine pound groundhog
would cast at 2 o'clock and 37 minutes P.M., on
groundhog day, if sunny, at the town of Fungus,
Dak., provided latitude and longitude and an


irregular mass of red chalk be given to him,
secured to jerk a few logarithms in the interests
of trade. He came and tried it for a few days,
covered the interior of the Exposition Building
with figures and then went away.

The Pinkerton detectives laid aside their lit
erary work on the great train book, entitled
" The Jerk-water Bank Robbery and Other
Choice Crimes," by the author of " How I
Traced a Lame Man Through Michigan, and
Other Felonies." They grappled with the ciph
er, and several of them leaned up against some
thing and thought for a long time, but they
could make neither head nor tail to it. Ignatius
Donnelly took a powerful dose of kumiss, and
under its maddening influence sought to solve
the great problem which threatened to engulf
the nation's surplus. All was in vain. Cowed
and defeated, the able conservators of coin, who
require a man to be identified before he can
draw on his overshoes at sight, had to acknowl
edge if this thing continued it threatened the
destruction of the entire national fabric.

About this time I was calling at the First Na
tional Bank of Chicago, the greatest bank, if I
am not mistaken, in America. I saw the bonds
securing its issue of national currency the other


day in Washington, and I am quite sure the cus
todian told me it was the greatest of any bank in
the Union. Anyway, it was sufficient, so that I
felt like doing my banking business there when
ever it became handy to do so.

I asked for a certificate of deposit for $2,000,
and had the money to pay for it, but I had to be
identified. " Why," I said to the receiving tel
ler, " surely you don't require a man to be identi
fied when he deposits money, do you ? "

" Yes, that's the idea."

"Well, isn't that a new twist on the crippled
industries of this country?"

" No ; that's our rule. Hurry up, please, and
don't keep men waiting who have money and
know how to do business."

"Well, I don't want to obstruct business, of
course, but suppose, for instance, I get myself
identified by a man I know and a man you know
and a man who can leave his business and come
here for the delirious joy of identifying me, and
you admit that I am the man I claim to be, cor
responding as to description, age, sex, etc., with
the man I advertise myself to be, how would it
be about your ability to identify yourself as the
man you claim to be ? I go all over Chicago,
visiting all the large pork-packing houses in


search of a man I know, and who is intimate
with literary people like me, and finally we will
say, I find one who knows me and who knows
you, and whom you know, and who can leave his
leaf lard long enough to come here and identify
me all right. Can you identify yourself in such
a way that when I put in my $2,000 you will not
loan it upon insufficient security, as they did in
Cincinnati the other day, as soon as I go out of
town ? "

" Oh, we don't care especially whether you
trade here or not, so that you hurry up and let
other people have a chance. Where you make
a mistake is in trying to rehearse a piece here
instead of going out to Lincoln Park or some
where in a quiet part of the city. Our rules are
that a man who makes a deposit here must be

"All right. Do you know Queen Victoria ? "

" No sir; I do not."

""Well, then, there is no use in disturbing her.
Bo you know any other of the crowned heads?"

" No sir."

"Well, then, do you know President Cleveland,
or any of the Cabinet, or the Senate or members
of the House ? "

" No."


"That's it, you see. I move in one set and
you in another. "What respectable people do
you know V "

" I'll have to ask you to stand aside, I guess,
and give that string of people a chance. You
have no right to take up my time in this way.
The rules of the bank are inflexible. We must
know who you are, even before we accept your

I then drew from my pocket a copy of the Sun
day World which contained a voluptuous pictnre
of myself. Bemoving my hat and making a
court salaam by letting out four additional
joints in my lithe and versatile limbs, I asked if
any further identification would be necessary.

Hastily closing the door to the vault and jerk
ing the combination, he said that would be satis
factory. I was then permitted to deposit in the

I do not know why I should always be regarded
with suspicion wherever I go. I do not present
the appearance of a man who is steeped in crime,
and yet when I put my trivial, little, two-gallon
valise on the seat of a depot waiting-room a big
man with a red mustache comes to me and hisses
through his clenched teeth : " Take yer baggage
off the seat ! " It is so everywhere. I apologize


for disturbing a ticket agent long enough to sell
me a ticket, and he tries to jump through a little
braes wicket and throttle me. Other men come
in and say: "Give me a ticket for Bandoline, O.,
and be dam sudden about it, too," and they get
their ticket and go aboard the car and get the beet
seat, while I am begging for the opportunity to
buy a seat at full rates and then ride in the wood
box. I believe that common courtesy and de
cency in America needs protection. Go into an
hotel or a hotel, whichever suits the eyether and
nyether reader of these lines, and the commer
cial man who travels for a big sausage-casing
house in New York has the bridal chamber,
while the meek and lowly minister of the Gospel
gets a wall-pocket room with a cot, a slippery-
elm towel, a cake of cast-iron soap, a discon
nected bell, a view of the laundry, a tin roof and
$4 a day.

But I digress. I was speaking of the bank
cheek cipher. At the First National Bank I
was shown another of these remarkable indorse
ments. It read as follows :

DEAR SLR: This will be your pay for chickens and other
fowls received up to the first of the present month. Time
is working wondrous changes in your chickens. They sue
no* such chiokeus as we used to get of you before the war.
Tby may lx~ *iie same chickens, but oh I how changed tejr


the lapse of time ! How much more Indestructible I HOT*
they have learned since then to defy the encroaching tooth
of remorseless ages, or any other man I Why do you not
have them tender like your squashes I I found a blue
poker chip in your butter this week. What shall I credit
myself for it? If you would try to work your butter more
and your customers less it would be highly appreciated,
especially by, yours truly, W.

Looking at the signature on the check itself ,1
found it to be that of Mrs. James Wexford, of
this city. Knowing Mr. Wexford, a wealthy
and influential publisher here, I asked him to
day if he knew anything about this matter. He
said that all he knew about it was that his wife
had a separate bank account, and had asked him
several months ago what was the use of all the
blank space on the back of a check, and why it
couldn't be used for correspondence with the
remittee. Mr. Wexford said he'd bet $600 that
his wife had been using her checks that way, for
he said he never knew of a woman who could
possibly pay postage on a note, remittance or
anything else unless every particle of the surface
had been written over in a wild, delirious, three-
story hand. Later on I found that he was
right about it. His wife had been sassing the
grocer and the butter-man on the back of her
checks. Thus ended the great bank mystery.


I will close this letter with a little incident^
the story of which may not be so startling, but
it is true. It is a story of child faith. Johnny
Quin-lan, of Evanston, has the most wonderful
confidence in the efficacy of prayer, but he thinks
that prayer does not succeed unless it is accom
panied with considerable physical strength. He
Sieves that adult prayer is a good thing, but
doubts the efficacy of juvenile prayer.

He has wanted a Jersey cow for a good while,
and tried prayer, but it didn't seem to get to the
central office. Last year he went to a neighbor
who is a Christian and believer in the efficacy
of prayer, also the owner of a Jersey cow.

"Do you believe that prayer will bring me a
yaller Jersey cow ? " said Johnny.

" Why, yes, of course. Prayer will remove
mountains ; it will do anything.

"Well, then, suppose you give me the cow
you've got and pray for another one."


mT DEAR SON" : We got your last lette*
some three days ago. It found us all
moderately well though not very frisky.

Your letters now days are getting quite pretty
as regards penmanship. You are certainly go
ing to develop into a fine penman your mother
thinks. She says that if you improve as fast in
your writing next year as you have last, you will
soon be writing for the papers.

In my mind's eye I can see you there in your
room practicing for a long time on a spiral spring
which you make with your pen. I believe you
call it the whole arm movement. I think you
got the idea from me. You remember I used to
have a whole arm movement that I introduced
into our family along in the summer of '69.
You was at that time trying to learn to swim.
Once or twice the neighbors brought you home
with your lungs full of river water and your
ara full of coarse sand. We pumped you dry
erral times, but it did not wean you from the


river, so I introduced the whole arm mo'V ement
one day and used it from that on in what you
would call our curric kulum. It worked well.

Your letters are now very attractive from a
scientific standpoint. The letters all have pret
ty little curly tails on them, and though you do
not always spell according to Gunter, the capi
tal letters are as pretty as a picture. I never saw
such a round O as you make when you hang
your tongue out and begin to swing yourself.
Your mother says that your great-uncle on her
side was a good writer too. He could draw off
a turtle dove without taking his pen from the
paper, and most everybody would know as soon
as they looked at it that it was a turtle dove or
some such bird as that.

He could also draw a deer with coil spring
horns on him, and a barbed wire fence to it, and
a scolloped tail, and it looked as much like a
deer as anything else you could think of.

He was a fine penman and wrote a good deal
for the papers. Your mother has got a lot of
his pieces in the house yet, which the paperi
sent back because they were busy and crowded
full of other stuff. I read some of these letters,
and any one can see that it was a great sacrifice
ior the editors to send the pieces back,


had got used to it and conquered their ovm per
sonal feelings, and sent them back because they
were too good for the plain, untutored reader.
One editor said that he did not want to print
the enclosed pieces because he thought it would
be a pity to place such pretty writing in the
soiled hands of the practical printer. He said
that the manuscript looked so pretty just as it
was, that he hadn't the heart to send it into the
composing room. So the day may not be far
fiway, Henry, when you can write for the press,
your mother thinks. I don't care so much about
it myself, but she has her heart set on it. Your
mother thinks that you are a great man, though
I have not detected any symptoms of it yet. She
has got that last pen scroll work here of yours
in the bible, where she can look at it every day.
Its the picture of a hen setting in a nest of cur
ly-cues made with red ink, over a woven wire
mattress of dewdads in blue ink, and some tall
grass in violet ink. Your mother says that
this fowl is also a turtle dove, but I think she is

She says the world has always got a warm
$laoe for one who can make such a beautiful
picture without taking his pen off the paper.
Perhaps she is right. 7 hope that you will not


take me for an example, for I am no writer at

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Online LibraryBill NyeBill Nye's sparks → online text (page 2 of 9)