A Young Man who had made a Sudden Winning, and was beginning to act as Shawl-Holder and Emergency Errand-Boy for the Society Queens, seemed to have a great deal of Trouble with his Memory. If he met Any One who had started with him a few Years before, and who used to Stake him to a Meal-Ticket now and then, or let him have a Scarf-Pin when he had to go out and make a Front, he could not appear to remember the Man’s Name or tell where he had seen him before. When he was in a Loge at the Play-House with Exclusive Ethel and her Friends, he might look down in the Parquette and see the Landlady who had carried him through a Hard Winter and accepted a Graceful Wave of the Hand when she really needed the Board Money, but he found it impossible to Place her. Even the People who came from his own Town, and who knew him when he was getting Five a Week and wearing Celluloid Cuffs, and who could relate the Family History if they wanted to Knock, they couldn’t make him Remember, even when they stopped him on the Street and recalled such Humiliations as the Time he used to pick Cherries on the Shares, and how Odd he looked in his Brother’s Made-Over Clothes.
This Young Man buried the Dead Past until his Memory was a Blank for the whole Period up to the Time that the President of the Fidelity National invited him to Dinner and he got his first Peek at a sure-enough Butler.
He had been a Genuine Aristocrat for about Eighteen Months, when he made a Mis-step and landed with his Face in the Gravel. The Gigantic Enterprise which he had been Promoting got into the Public Prints as a Pipe Dream. There was no more Capital coming from the Angels. He was back at the Post, with nothing to Show for his Bold Dash except a Wardrobe and an Appetite for French Cooking. Society gave him the Frozen Face, and all those who had been speaking of him as a Young Napoleon agreed that he was a Dub. The Banks were trying to Collect on a lot of Slow Notes that he had floated in his Palmy Days, and they had a Proud Chance to Collect. He went into the Bankruptcy Court and Scheduled $73,000 of Liabilities, the Assets being a Hat-Box and a Set of Theatrical Posters.
When he had to go out and Rustle for a Job he was a Busy Hand-Shaker once more. The Blow seemed to have landed right on the Bump of Memory, and put his Recollecting Department into full Operation again. He could spot an Old Pal clear across the Street. He was rushing up to Obscure Characters that he had not seen in Eight Years, and he called each one of them “Old Man.” It was now their Turn to do the Forgetful Business. The Tablets of his Memory read as clear as Type-Writing. Upon meeting any Friend of his Boyhood he did the Shoulder-Slap, and rang in the Auld Lang Syne Gag. He was so Democratic he was ready to Borrow from the Humblest. The same Acquaintances who had tried to Stand In with him when Things were coming his Way, were cutting off Street-Corners and getting down behind their Newspapers to escape the Affectionate Massage, beginning at the Hand and extending to the Shoulder-Blade. It was No Use. He remembered them all, and no one got Past him.
MORAL: Don’t begin to Forget until you have it in Government Bonds.