A stub-nosed Primary Pupil, richly endowed with old-gold Freckles, lived in a one-cylinder Town, far from the corroding influences of the Stock Exchange.
He arrived during the age of Board Sidewalks, Congress Gaiters, and Pie for Breakfast.
The Paper Collar, unmindful of the approaching Celluloid, was still affected by the more tony Dressers. Prison-made Bow Ties, with the handy elastic Fastener, were then considered right Natty.
Limousines, Eugenics, Appendicitis, and the regulation of Combines were beyond the rise of the Hill, so the talk was mostly about the Weather and Married Women.
The baptismal Cognomen of the mottled Offspring was Alexander Campbell Purvis, but on account of his sunny Disposition he was known to the Countryside as Aleck.
One morning the Lad did his crawl from under the Quilt at an hour when our Best People of the new Century are sending away the empty Siphons.
He was acting on a Hunch.
The far-famed Yankee Robinson show, with the Trick Mule and the smiling Tumblers, had exhibited the day before on the vacant Lot between the Grist-Mill and the Parsonage.
Aleck was familiar with the juvenile Tradition that Treasure could be discovered at or near the trampled Spot on which the Ticket-Wagon had been anchored.
It was known that the agitated Yahoos from up in the Catfish Country were likely to fumble and spill their saved-up Currency, thereby avoiding the trouble of handing it over to the Grafters later on.
Aleck was the first Prospector to show. He got busy and uncovered a Silver Buck.
It looked about the size of a Ferris Wheel.
While beating it for the parental Roof he began laying out in his Mind all the Pleasures of the Flesh that he could command with the Mass of Lucre.
The miscue he made was to flash his Fortune in the Family Circle.
After breakfast he found himself being steered to the Farmers & Merchants’ Bank.
He was pried away from the Cart-Wheel and given a teeny little Book which showed that he was a Depositor.
“Now, Alexander C.,” said his Ma, “if you will shin up the ladder and pick Cherries every day this week at two cents per Quart, by nightfall of Saturday you will have another Case-Note to put into Cold Storage.”
“But, if I continue dropping the proceeds of my Labor into the Reservoir, what is there in it for me?” asked the inquisitive Chick.
His mother replied, “Why, you will have the Gratification of moving up to the Window at the Bank and earning a Smile of Approbation from old Mr. Fishberry with the Throat Whiskers.”
So the aspiring Manikin clung to the perilous Tree-Tops day after day, dropping the ruby Cherries into the suspended Bucket, while all of the Relatives stood on the ground and applauded.
One day there was a Conference and it was discovered that little Aleck was solvent to the extent of $2.80.
“Would it not be Rayzorius?” queried the Sire of Alexander; “would it not be Ipskalene if Aleck kept on and on until he had assembled five whole Dollars?”
Thus spurred to Endeavor by a large and rooting Gallery, the Urchin went prowling for Old Iron, which he trundled off to the Junkman.
Also for empty Bottles, which he laboriously scoured and delivered at the Drug Store for a mere dribble of Chicken Feed.
The sheet of Copper brought a tidy Sum, while old Mrs. Arbuckle wondered what had become of her Wash-Boiler.
With a V to his Credit, Aleck put a Padlock on every Pocket in his Store Suit and went Money-Mad.
He acquired a Runt and swilled it with solicitude until the Butcher made him an offer.
It was a proud Moment when he eased in the $7.60 to T. W. Fishberry, who told him to keep on scrouging and some day he would own a share in the Building & Loan.
Our Hero fooled away his time in School until he was all of eleven years old, when he became associated with one Blodgett in the Grocery Business, at a weekly Insult of Two Bones.