Once there was a plain, unvarnished Yank who made his Pile in a Scrub Town situated midday between the Oats Belt and the Tall Timber. He was a large and sandy Mortal with a steel-trap Jaw and a cold glittering Eye. He made his first Stack a Dollar at a Time on straight Deals, but after a while he learned a few Things. He organized Stock Companies and then crawled out after hooking up with the Velvet. Every one called him Mister and treated him with Politeness, but, just the same, when he walked into an Office Building they all wondered what he had come after and there was more or less locking of Safes. It is only fair to remark, on the Side, that he wouldn’t take anything which was securely spiked down, and the Grand Jury never bothered him, because he worked under a Contract.
The Financier was the high Centre Pole of a Bank and a Department Store and several Factories that gave Young People a Start in the World at something like $2.75 per Week.
He was accustomed to having all the Subordinates stand on one Foot and tremble whenever he showed up. In fact, he was a very hefty Proposition all through the Business District. But when he struck the Street leading to his House he began to reef his Sails and lower all of his Flags.
In his own Domicile he did not even play Second Fiddle. He simply trailed along at the fag end of the Parade and carried the Music. The Piercing Eye and the Peremptory Manner that caused all the Book-keepers to fall off from their High Perches and prostrate themselves had no visible effect on Laura and the Girls. Popsy was a High Guy at the Directors’ Meeting, but a mighty cheap Souffle at his own Fireside. Any time that his Plans did not coincide with those of the Feminine Bunch, they passed him a backhanded Veto that would cause him to lie quiet for Days at a time.
The Financier loved the boundless West, where the Sack Coat abounds and the Cuss-Word is a common Heritage. Domestic Cigars were good enough for him, and he figured that one good reliable Hired Girl who knew how to cook Steak was all the Help that was needed in any House. But Mother had seen Fifth Avenue in a Dream, and the Girls had attended a Boarding School at which nearly every one knew some one who was Prominent Socially. They had done a lot of Hard Work at the Piano and taken a side-hold on the French Language and it seemed to them that they were wasting their Time in loitering on the Outskirts of Civilization when they might be up at Headquarters cutting more or less of a Gash. All the Young Men in this Reub Town wore Derbies with their Evening Clothes and came to Dances with their White Gloves smelling of Gasoline, in addition to which they lacked Repose. If they had stopped to cultivate Repose, most of them would have landed in the Villa set aside for Paupers.
When Laura and the Girls first advocated pulling up Stakes and doing a tall Hike to the East, the Producer emitted a Roar that would have frightened any one except Laura and the Girls. They closed in on him from three Directions and beat down his Defence. When they got through with the living Meal Ticket he was as meek as an English Servant and ready to take orders from any one.
So the Caravansary moved away toward the Rising Sun. At Wilkesbarre, Pennsylvania, the Heavens opened and a Great Light struck down upon them, transforming all except the one who happened to carry the Letter of Credit. Laura and the Girls suddenly forgot that there was any Land west of Pittsburg, and they dropped their R’s and got the Kangaroo Walk and began to order their Food in Foreign Languages. After that, all Father had to do was to follow along and look Pleasant and dig every few Minutes.