An old Residenter, who owned a Section of Improved Land, and some Town Property besides, was getting too Feeble to go out and roast the Hired Hands, so he turned the Job over to his Son. This Son was named Joel. He was foolish, the same as a Fox. Any one who got ahead of Joel had to leave a 4:30 Call and start on a Lope. When it came to Skin Games he was the original High-Binder.
Joel took the Old Gentleman aside one Day and said to him: “Father, you are not long for this World, and to save Lawyer Fees and avoid a tie-up in the Probate Court, I think you ought to cut up your Estate your own self, and then you will know it is done Right.”
“How had I better divide it?” asked the Old Gentleman.
“You can put the whole Shooting-Match in my Name,” suggested Joel. “That will save a lot of Writing. Then if any other Relatives need anything, they can come to me and try to Borrow it.”
Joel sent for a cut-rate Shyster, who brought a bundle of Papers tied with Green Braid, and assured the Old Gentleman that the Proceeding was a Mere Formality. When a Legal Wolf wants to work the Do-Do on a Soft Thing, he always springs that Gag about a Mere Formality.
Joel and the Shell-Worker moved the Old Gentleman up to a Table in the Front Room and put a Cushion under him and slipped a Pen into his Hand and showed him where to Sign.
After he got through filling the Blank Spaces with his John Hancock, he didn’t have a Window to hoist or a Fence to lean on. He was simply sponging on Joel.
This went on for about a Month, and then Joel began to Fret.
“I don’t think I am getting a Square Deal,” said Joel. “Here is an Ancient Party without any Assets, who lives with me Week in and Week out and doesn’t pay any Board. He is getting too Old and Wabbly to do Odd Jobs around the Place, and it looks to me like an awful Imposition.”
So he went to the Old Gentleman and said: “Father, I know the Children must annoy you a good deal; they make so much Noise when they play House. Sometimes we want to use the Piano after it is your Bed-Time, and of course that breaks your Rest, so I have been thinking that you would be a lot better off in some Institution where they make a Specialty of looking after Has-Beens. I have discovered a nice, quiet Place. You, will live in a large Brick Building, with a lovely Cupola on top. There is a very pretty Lawn, with Flower-Beds, and also an ornamental Iron Fence, so that the Dogs cannot break in and bite you. You will be given a nice Suit of Clothes, the same as all the others are wearing, and if you oversleep yourself in the Morning, a Man will come around and call you.”
“In other Words, me to the Poor-House,” said the Old Residenter.
“You need not call it that, unless you want to,” said Joel. “If you choose, you may speak of it as the Home for Aged Persons who got Foolish with their Fountain Pens.”
So Joel put his Father into the Spring Wagon and hauled him over the Hills to the Charity Pavilion, where all the Old Gentleman had to do was to sit around in the Sun looking at the Pictures in last year’s Illustrated Papers and telling what a Chump he had been.
But sometimes a Man is not all in, simply because he looks to be wrinkled and doddering. Joel’s Father had a Few Thinks coming to him. Although he had been double-crossed and put through the Ropes, he still had a Punch left. He sent for a Lawyer who was even more Crafty than the one employed by Joel and he said to him: “There is a Loop-Hole in every Written Instrument, if one only knows how to find it. I want you to set aside that fool Deed.”