Once there was a side street Quartet consisting of Papa and Mamma and Gordon and Ethel.
The ostensible Stroke Oar of this Domestic Combination was a Graduate of one of those Towns in which the Occidental Hotel faces the Depot and all Trains are met by a Popular Drayman wearing a Black Sweater.
When he elbowed his Way into the City, years before, his Assets consisted of a Paper Valise, a few home-laundered Garments and a small Volume telling how to win at Cards.
In the refined Home where he obtained his Liver and Macaroni paved with Cheese, he met the daughter of the Household. When there was a Rush she would sometimes put on all of her Rings and help wait on the Table, although her Star Specialty was to get the Stool at the right Elevation and tear the Vital Organs out of “Pansy Blossom” and “White Wings.”
The young Shipping Clerk used to fly to his Kennel and get himself all Gussied up and then edge into the Parlor and turn the Music for Miss Livingstone, who looked to him like Lily Langtry and sounded like Adelina Patti.
They went to Housekeeping in a stingy Flat with a Bed that could be stood on End during the Daytime and made to resemble a Book-Case, also a Plaster-of-Paris Lion on the Mantel.
About the time Gordon was first tethered on the Fire-Escape, the Provider got a Taste of Soft Collateral and began to wear Gold Bracelets on his Cigars.
When Ethel was large enough to take into the Park, the Graft had developed until the whole Outfit moved to an Apartment where Goods had to be delivered in the Rear. Mother began to use Hacks which were not numbered.
So they went along for Years, riding on L Trains, calling up the Janitor to ask for more Heat, trying to find a good Maid, and experimenting with new Cereals, all of these Romantic Adventures combining to make what is known as City Life.
They were simply four scrambling Units in the Great Ant-Hill; four tiny Tadpoles in the great Schools that wiggled up and down the main Thoroughfares. It seemed that their only Chance to make an Impression on the huge and callous City was to die and then hold up a line of Street Cars while the Hearse and the five Carriages moved slowly in the direction of Calvary.
But Destiny had them spotted.
Father was very busy trying to run a Shoe String up to a National Bank. He would rush into his Office and open the Desk and push Buttons and send Hurry-Up Wires and dictate Letters to trembling Myrtle with the Small Waist and keep People waiting outside, just like the Whales who control the Sugar Trust.
He had a Front like the new Pennsylvania Station and the soft Personal Attributes of a Numidian Lion.
When he was sued in the Courts by a Victim who wanted a final look at his Money, the Reporters came around and he was so stiff-necked and defiant that all of them referred to him as the Millionaire Promoter.
It was easier to be this kind of a Millionaire than stand for a Search. Every Office Building is coagulated with Millionaires who never will be Caught until the Tin Box is opened in the Probate Court. Then the Widow will get ready to take Boarders.
As soon as Father was bawled out as a Millionaire, it was up to Mother to join a new kind of Club and have a Handle put on her Eye-Glasses. She would practise in her room for Hours at a time, gripping the Rocking Chair with both Hands and trying to get the real Bostonian sound of “A” as in Lard.
Her efforts were not in Vain, for one Day when the Club Meeting broke up, with the Lady President throwing Fits and a Copper guarding the Ballot Box, the principal Insurgent was mentioned in the Public Prints as a Popular Society Matron and Leader in the New Movement among Women. They had to call her that or the Story of her shooting the Ink-Stand at the Recording Secretary would not have been worth playing up on the First Page.
It was a proud Morning for Gordon and Ethel when they saw all the Pictures and learned that they were the immediate Descendants of the Millionaire Promoter and the Popular Society Matron.
Gordon found himself endowed with a Social Status which enabled him, at the Age of 23, to gain admission to an exclusive Club of 3,000 Members, the object of which was to serve a 40-cent Table d’Hote every Noon to as many as were willing to take a Chance.
Therefore, when he was yanked out of his 6-cylinder Car and stood up before the Magistrate, charged with smearing up the Boulevard with the Working Classes, the whole Reading Public was thrilled to hear of what had happened to a Well-Known Clubman whose Father was a Millionaire Promoter and whose Mother was a Popular Society Matron.
By this time Ethel was merely a Relation.
She had not come across in any Particular.
As a matter of Fact, she was not pulling down any Ribbons at Beauty Shows, and toed in when she walked.
However, she was not discouraged. She eloped with a Chauffeur employed in an 8-car Garage and next Day she was a Beautiful Heiress whose Brother was a Well-Known Man about Town, the Mother being very prominent in Club Work and remembered as the Wife of the Millionaire Promoter.
After all this came out, Father still had between $3,000 and $4,000 and the whole Family, including the Chauffeur, sat down to Prunes every Morning.
But they were very Happy, for they were recognized in almost every Cafe and their Relatives in the East were sending Christmas Cards.
MORAL: Some achieve Greatness and others have it Rubbed in.