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The Girl And The Graft
by [?]

“You are outrageous, Ferg,” I said. “Surely there is none of this ‘graft’ as you call it, in a perfect and harmonious matrimonial union!”

“Well,” said Pogue, “nothing that would justify you every time in calling Police Headquarters and ordering out the reserves and a vaudeville manager on a dead run. But it’s this way: Suppose you’re a Fifth Avenue millionaire, soaring high, on the right side of copper and cappers.

“You come home at night and bring a $9,000,000 diamond brooch to the lady who’s staked your for a claim. You hand it over. She says, ‘Oh, George!’ and looks to see if it’s backed. She comes up and kisses you. You’ve waited for it. You get it. All right. It’s graft.

“But I’m telling you about Artemisia Blye. She was from Kansas and she suggested corn in all of its phases. Her hair was as yellow as the silk; her form was as tall and graceful as a stalk in the low grounds during a wet summer; her eyes were as big and startling as bunions, and green was her favorite color.

“On my last trip into the cool recesses of your sequestered city I met a human named Vaucross. He was worth–that is, he had a million. He told me he was in business on the street. ‘A sidewalk merchant?’ says I, sarcastic. ‘Exactly,’ says he, ‘Senior partner of a paving concern.’

“I kind of took to him. For this reason, I met him on Broadway one night when I was out of heart, luck, tobacco and place. He was all silk hat, diamonds and front. He was all front. If you had gone behind him you would have only looked yourself in the face. I looked like a cross between Count Tolstoy and a June lobster. I was out of luck. I had–but let me lay my eyes on that dealer again.

“Vaucross stopped and talked to me a few minutes and then he took me to a high-toned restaurant to eat dinner. There was music, and then some Beethoven, and Bordelaise sauce, and cussing in French, and frangipangi, and some hauteur and cigarettes. When I am flush I know them places.

“I declare, I must have looked as bad as a magazine artist sitting there without any money and my hair all rumpled like I was booked to read a chapter from ‘Elsie’s School Days’ at a Brooklyn Bohemian smoker. But Vaucross treated me like a bear hunter’s guide. He wasn’t afraid of hurting the waiter’s feelings.

“‘Mr. Pogue,’ he explains to me, ‘I am using you.’

“‘Go on,’ says I; ‘I hope you don’t wake up.’

“And then he tells me, you know, the kind of man he was. He was a New Yorker. His whole ambition was to be noticed. He wanted to be conspicuous. He wanted people to point him out and bow to him, and tell others who he was. He said it had been the desire of his life always. He didn’t have but a million, so he couldn’t attract attention by spending money. He said he tried to get into public notice one time by planting a little public square on the east side with garlic for free use of the poor; but Carnegie heard of it, and covered it over at once with a library in the Gaelic language. Three times he had jumped in the way of automibiles; but the only result was five broken ribs and a notice in the papers that an unknown man, five feet ten, with four amalgam-filled teeth, supposed to be the last of the famous Red Leary gang had been run over.

“‘Ever try the reporters,’ I asked him.

“‘Last month,’ says Mr. Vaucross, ‘my expenditure for lunches to reporters was $124.80.’