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Seats of the Haughty
by [?]

As soon as Lucullus Polk got cool enough I picked him up, and with no greater effort than you would employ in persuading a drowning man to clutch a straw, I inveigled him into accompanying me to a cool corner in a dim cafe.

And it came to pass that man-servants set before us brewage; and Lucullus Polk spake unto me, relating the wherefores of his beleaguering the antechambers of the princes of the earth.

“Did you ever hear of the S.A. & A.P. Railroad in Texas? Well, that don’t stand for Samaritan Actor’s Aid Philanthropy. I was down that way managing a summer bunch of the gum and syntax-chewers that play the Idlewild Parks in the Western hamlets. Of course, we went to pieces when the soubrette ran away with a prominent barber of Beeville. I don’t know what became of the rest of the company. I believe there were some salaries due; and the last I saw of the troupe was when I told them that forty-three cents was all the treasury contained. I say I never saw any of them after that; but I heard them for about twenty minutes. I didn’t have time to look back. But after dark I came out of the woods and struck the S.A. & A.P. agent for means of transportation. He at once extended to me the courtesies of the entire railroad, kindly warning me, however, not to get aboard any of the rolling stock.

“About ten the next morning I steps off the ties into a village that calls itself Atascosa City. I bought a thirty-cent breakfast and a ten-cent cigar, and stood on the Main Street jingling the three pennies in my pocket–dead broke. A man in Texas with only three cents in his pocket is no better off than a man that has no money and owes two cents.

“One of luck’s favourite tricks is to soak a man for his last dollar so quick that he don’t have time to look it. There I was in a swell St. Louis tailor-made, blue-and-green plaid suit, and an eighteen- carat sulphate-of-copper scarf-pin, with no hope in sight except the two great Texas industries, the cotton fields and grading new railroads. I never picked cotton, and I never cottoned to a pick, so the outlook had ultramarine edges.

“All of a sudden, while I was standing on the edge of the wooden sidewalk, down out of the sky falls two fine gold watches in the middle of the street. One hits a chunk of mud and sticks. The other falls hard and flies open, making a fine drizzle of little springs and screws and wheels. I looks up for a balloon or an airship; but not seeing any, I steps off the sidewalk to investigate.

“But I hear a couple of yells and see two men running up the street in leather overalls and high-heeled boots and cartwheel hats. One man is six or eight feet high, with open-plumbed joints and a heartbroken cast of countenance. He picks up the watch that has stuck in the mud. The other man, who is little, with pink hair and white eyes, goes for the empty case, and says, ‘I win.’ Then the elevated pessimist goes down under his leather leg-holsters and hands a handful of twenty- dollar gold pieces to his albino friend. I don’t know how much money it was; it looked as big as an earthquake-relief fund to me.

“‘I’ll have this here case filled up with works,’ says Shorty, ‘and throw you again for five hundred.’

“‘I’m your company,’ says the high man. ‘I’ll meet you at the Smoked Dog Saloon an hour from now.’

“The little man hustles away with a kind of Swiss movement toward a jewelry store. The heartbroken person stoops over and takes a telescopic view of my haberdashery.

“‘Them’s a mighty slick outfit of habiliments you have got on, Mr. Man,’ says he. ‘I’ll bet a hoss you never acquired the right, title, and interest in and to them clothes in Atascosa City.’