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A Night In New Arabia
by [?]

So Jacob followed his nose, which led him through unswept streets to the homes of the poorest.

“The very thing!” said Jacob. “I will charter two river steamboats, pack them full of these unfortunate children and–say ten thousand dolls and drums and a thousand freezers of ice cream, and give them a delightful outing up the Sound. The sea breezes on that trip ought to blow the taint off some of this money that keeps coming in faster than I can work it off my mind.”

Jacob must have leaked some of his benevolent intentions, for an immense person with a bald face and a mouth that looked as if it ought to have a “Drop Letters Here” sign over it hooked a finger around him and set him in a space between a barber’s pole and a stack of ash cans. Words came out of the post-office slit–smooth, husky words with gloves on ’em, but sounding as if they might turn to bare knuckles any moment.

“Say, Sport, do you know where you are at? Well, dis is Mike O’Grady’s district you’re buttin’ into–see? Mike’s got de stomach- ache privilege for every kid in dis neighborhood–see? And if dere’s any picnics or red balloons to be dealt out here, Mike’s money pays for ’em–see? Don’t you butt in, or something’ll be handed to you. Youse d— settlers and reformers with your social ologies and your millionaire detectives have got dis district in a hell of a fix, anyhow. With your college students and professors rough-housing de soda-water stands and dem rubber-neck coaches fillin’ de streets, de folks down here are ‘fraid to go out of de houses. Now, you leave ’em to Mike. Dey belongs to him, and he knows how to handle ’em. Keep on your own side of de town. Are you some wiser now, uncle, or do you want to scrap wit’ Mike O’Grady for de Santa Claus belt in dis district?”

Clearly, that spot in the moral vineyard was preempted. So Caliph Spraggins menaced no more the people in the bazaars of the East Side. To keep down his growing surplus he doubled his donations to organized charity, presented the Y. M. C. A. of his native town with a $10,000 collection of butterflies, and sent a check to the famine sufferers in China big enough to buy new emerald eyes and diamond-filled teeth for all their gods. But none of these charitable acts seemed to bring peace to the caliph’s heart. He tried to get a personal note into his benefactions by tipping bellboys and waiters $10 and $20 bills. He got well snickered at and derided for that by the minions who accept with respect gratuities commensurate to the service performed. He sought out an ambitious and talented but poor young woman, and bought for her the star part in a new comedy. He might have gotten rid of $50,000 more of his cumbersome money in this philanthropy if he had not neglected to write letters to her. But she lost the suit for lack of evidence, while his capital still kept piling up, and his optikos needleorum camelibus–or rich man’s disease–was unrelieved.

In Caliph Spraggins’s $3,000,000 home lived his sister Henrietta, who used to cook for the coal miners in a twenty-five-cent eating house in Coketown, Pa., and who now would have offered John Mitchell only two fingers of her hand to shake. And his daughter Celia, nineteen, back from boarding-school and from being polished off by private instructors in the restaurant languages and those ‘etudes and things.

Celia is the heroine. Lest the artist’s delineation of her charms on this very page humbug your fancy, take from me her authorized description. She was a nice-looking, awkward, loud, rather bashful, brown-haired girl, with a sallow complexion, bright eyes, and a perpetual smile. She had a wholesome, Spraggins-inherited love for plain food, loose clothing, and the society of the lower classes. She had too much health and youth to feel the burden of wealth. She had a wide mouth that kept the peppermint-pepsin tablets rattling like hail from the slot-machine wherever she went, and she could whistle hornpipes. Keep this picture in mind; and let the artist do his worst.