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The Half Of A Thousand
by [?]

Philo Gubb sat in his office in the Opera House Block with a large green volume open on his knees, reading a paragraph of some ten lines. He had read this paragraph twenty times before, but he never tired of reading it. It began began–

Gubb, Philo. Detective and decorator, b. Higginsville, Ia., June 26, 1868. Educated Higginsville, Ia., primary schools. Entered decorating profession, 1888. Graduated with honors, Rising Sun Detective Agency’s Correspondence School of Detecting, 1910.

He hoped that some day this short record of his life might be lengthened by at least one line, which would say that he had “m. Syrilla Medderbrook,” and since his escape from Petunia Scroggs and her wiles, and the latest telegram from Syrilla, he had reason for the hope. As Mr. Gubb had not tried to collect the one hundred dollars due him from Miss Scroggs, he had nothing with which to pay Mr. Medderbrook more on account of the Utterly Hopeless mining stock, but under his agreement with Mr. Medderbrook he had paid that gentleman thirty-seven dollars and fifty cents for the last telegram from Syrilla. This had read:–

Joy and rapture! Have given up all forms of food. Have given up spaghetti, fried rabbit, truffles, brown betty, prunes, goulash, welsh rabbit, hoecake, sauerkraut, Philadelphia scrapple, haggis, chop suey, and mush. Have lost one hundred and fifty pounds more. Weigh seven hundred forty-five. Going down every hour. Kiss Gubby for me.

Mr. Gubb, therefore, mused pleasantly as he read the book that contained the short but interesting reference to himself.

The book with the green cover was “Iowa’s Prominent Citizens,” sixth edition, and was a sort of local, or state, “Who’s Who.” In its pages, for the first time, Philo Gubb appeared, and he took great delight in reading there how great he was. We all do. We are never so sure we are great as when we read it in print.

It is always comforting to a great man to be reassured that he was “b. Dobbinsville, Ia., 1869,” that he “m. Jane, dau. of Oscar and Siluria Botts, 1897,” and that he is not yet “d.” There are some of us who are never sure we are not “d.” except when we see our names in the current volume of “Who’s Who,” “Who’s It,” or “Iowa’s Prominent Citizens.”

Outside Philo Gubb’s door a man was standing, studying that part of “Iowa’s Prominent Citizens” devoted to the town of Riverbank. The man was not as young as he appeared to be. His garments were of a youthful cut and cloth, being of the sort generally known as “College Youth Style,” but they were themselves no longer youthful. In fact, the man looked seedy.

Notwithstanding this he had an air–a something–that attracted and held the attention. A cane gave some of it. The extreme good style of his Panama hat gave some of it. His carriage and the gold-rimmed eyeglasses with the black silk neck-ribbon gave still more. When, however, he removed his hat, one saw that he was partly bald and that his reddish hair was combed carefully to cover the bald spot.

The book in his hand was a small memorandum book, and in this he had pasted the various notices cut from “Iowa’s Prominent Citizens” and one–only–cut from “Who’s Who,” relating to citizens of Riverbank. He had done this for convenience as well as for safety, for thus he had all the Riverbank prominents in compact form, and avoided the necessity of carrying “Iowa’s Prominent Citizens” and “Who’s Who” about with him. That would have been more or less dangerous. Particularly so, since he had been exposed by the New York “Sun” as The Bald Impostor.

The Bald Impostor, to explain him briefly, was a professional relative. He was the greatest son-cousin-nephew in the United States, and always he was the son, cousin, or nephew of one of the great, of one of the great mentioned in “Who’s Who.” He was as variable as a chameleon. Sometimes he was a son, cousin, or nephew of some one beginning with A, and sometimes of some one beginning with Z, but usually of some one with about twelve to fourteen lines in “Who’s Who.”