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The Discounters of Money
by [?]

You shall have no description of Alice v. d. R. Just call up in your mind the picture of your own Maggie or Vera or Beatrice, straighten her nose, soften her voice, tone her down and then tone her up, make her beautiful and unattainable–and you have a faint dry-point etching of Alice. The family owned a crumbly brick house and a coachman named Joseph in a coat of many colours, and a horse so old that he claimed to belong to the order of the perissodactyla, and had toes instead of hoofs. In the year 1898 the family had to buy a new set of harness for their Perissodactyl. Before using it they made Joseph smear it over with a mixture of ashes and soot. It was the Von der Ruysling family that bought the territory between the Bowery and East River and Rivington Street and the Statue of Liberty, in the year 1649, from an Indian chief for a quart of passementerie and a pair of Turkey-red portieres designed for a Harlem flat. I have always admired that Indian’s perspicacity and good taste. All this is merely to convince you that the Von der Ruyslings were exactly the kind of poor aristocrats that turn down their noses at people who have money. Oh, well, I don’t mean that; I mean people who have /just/ money.

One evening Pilkins went down to the red brick house in Gramercy Square, and made what he thought was a proposal to Alice v. d. R. Alice, with her nose turned down, and thinking of his money, considered it a proposition, and refused it and him. Pilkins, summoning all his resources as any good general would have done, made an indiscreet references to the advantages that his money would provide. That settled it. The lady turned so cold that Walter Wellman himself would have waited until spring to make a dash for her in a dog-sled.

But Pilkins was something of a sport himself. You can’t fool all the millionaires every time the ball drops on the Western Union Building.

“If, at any time,” he said to A. v. d. R., “you feel that you would like to reconsider your answer, send me a rose like that.”

Pilkins audaciously touched a Jacque rose that she wore loosely in her hair.

“Very well,” said she. “And when I do, you will understand by it that either you or I have learned something new about the purchasing power of money. You’ve been spoiled, my friend. No, I don’t think I could marry you. To-morrow I will send you back the presents you have given me.”

“Presents!” said Pilkins in surprise. “I never gave you a present in my life. I would like to see a full-length portrait of the man that you would take a present from. Why, you never would let me send you flowers or candy or even art calendars.”

“You’ve forgotten,” said Alice v. d. R., with a little smile. “It was a long time ago when our families were neighbours. You were seven, and I was trundling my doll on the sidewalk. You have me a little gray, hairy kitten, with shoe-buttony eyes. Its head came off and it was full of candy. You paid five cents for it–you told me so. I haven’t the candy to return to you–I hadn’t developed a conscience at three, so I ate it. But I have the kitten yet, and I will wrap it up neatly to-night and send it to you to-morrow.”

Beneath the lightness of Alice v. d. R.’s talk the steadfastness of her rejection showed firm and plain. So there was nothing left for him but to leave the crumbly red brick house, and be off with his abhorred millions.

On his way back, Pilkins walked through Madison Square. The hour hand of the clock hung about eight; the air was stingingly cool, but not at the freezing point. The dim little square seemed like a great, cold, unroofed room, with its four walls of houses, spangled with thousands of insufficient lights. Only a few loiterers were huddled here and there on the benches.