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Dietz’s 7462 Bessie John
by [?]

Philo Gubb sat on an upturned bundle of rolls of wall-paper in the dining-room of Mrs. Pilker’s famous Pilker mansion, in Riverbank, biting into a thick ham sandwich. It was noon.

Mr. Gubb ate methodically, taking a large bite of sandwich, chewing the bite long and well, and then swallowing it with a wonderful up and down gliding of his knobby Adam’s apple. From time to time he turned his head and looked at the walls of the dining-room. The time was Saturday noon, and but one wall was covered with the new wall-paper, a natural forest tapestry paper, with lifelike representations of leafy trees. He had promised to have the Pilker dining-room completed by Saturday night. It seemed quite impossible to Philo Gubb that he could finish the Pilker dining-room before dark, and it worried him.

Other matters, even closer to his heart, worried Mr. Gubb. He had had a great quarrel with Mr. Medderbrook, the father of the fair Fat Lady of the World’s Greatest Combined Shows. Judge Orley Morvis had paid Mr. Gubb twenty dollars for certain detective work, but Mr. Gubb had not turned all this over to Mr. Medderbrook, and Mr. Medderbrook had resented this. He told Mr. Gubb he was a cheap, tank-town sport.

“I worked hard,” said Mr. Medderbrook, “to sell you that Utterly Hopeless Gold-Mine stock and now you hold out on me. That’s not the way I expect a jay-town easy-mark–“

“I beg your pardon, but what was that term of phrase you called me?” asked Mr. Gubb.

“I called you,” said Mr. Medderbrook, changing his tone to one of politeness, “an easy-mark. In high financial circles the term is short for ‘easy-market-investor,’ meaning one who never buys stocks unless he is sure they are of the highest class and at the lowest price.”

“Well, I should hereafter prefer not to be so called,” said Mr. Gubb.

Almost as soon as he had said the cruel words he regretted them, but the next day Mr. Medderbrook’s colored butler came to Mr. Gubb’s office with a telegram for which he demanded thirty-six dollars and fifty cents.

Mr. Gubb trembled with emotion as he paid, for it meant that Syrilla was still losing flesh and that Mr. Dorgan must surely cancel his contract with her soon. The telegram read:–

Happy days! Still shrinking. Have lost one hundred and forty-five pounds since last wire. Contract sure to be canceled as soon as Dorgan gets back from hurried trip to Siam. Weather very hot. Can feel myself shrink. Fond thoughts to my Gubby.

The very next day the colored butler brought Mr. Gubb another telegram.

“Fifty dollars, please, sah,” he said.

“What!” cried Mr. Gubb.

“Yes, sah,” said the negro. “That’s the amount Mistah Meddahbrook done say.”

Mr. Gubb could hardly believe it, but he wrote his check for the fifty dollars and then read the telegram. It ran:–

Excelsior! Have lost two hundred pounds since last wire. Now weigh only four hundred pounds. Every one guys me when I am ballyhooed as Fat Lady. Affection to Gubby.

Mr. Gubb was greatly pleased by this, but when, the next day, the colored butler again appeared and asked for fifty dollars Mr. Gubb was worried. The telegram this time read:–

Frightened. Have lost two hundred pounds since last wire, now weigh only two hundred. If lose two hundred more will weigh nothing. Have resumed potatoes and water. Love to Gubby.

That same afternoon the negro brought Mr. Gubb another telegram, on which he collected seven dollars and fifty cents. This telegram contained these words:–

Am indeed frightened. Have resumed bread diet, soup, fish, meat, and cereals, but have lost fifty pounds more. Weigh only one hundred and fifty. Taking tonic. Hope for the best. Tell Gubby I think of him as much as when I weighed half a ton.