All the time Aleck was cleaning the Coal-Oil Lamps or watching the New Orleans Syrup trickle into the Jug, he was figuring how much of the Stipend he could segregate and isolate and set aside for the venerable Mr. Fishberry, the Taker-In up at the Bank with the Chinchilla on the Larynx.
For ten long years the White Slave tested Eggs and scooped the C Sugar.
When Aleck became of Age, Mr. Blodgett was compelling him to take $30 the first of every month.
He lived on Snowballs in the Winter and Dandelions in the Summer, but he had paid $800 on a two-story Brick facing Railroad Street.
His name was a Byword and Hissing among the Pool-Players. Nevertheless, he stood Ace High with the old Two-per-cent-a Month up at the Abattoir known as the Farmers & Merchants’ Bank.
The Boys who dropped in every thirty Days came to know him as a Wise Fish and a Close Buyer. They boosted at Headquarters, so the first thing you know Aleck was a Drummer, with two Grips bigger than Dog-Houses and a chance to swing on the Expense Account.
A lowly and unsung Wanamaker would be sitting in his Prunery, wearing Yarn Wristlets to keep warm and meditating another Attack on the Bottle of Stomach Bitters in the Safe, when Aleck would breeze in and light on him and sell him several Gross of something he didn’t need.
The Traveling Salesman dug up many a Cross-Roads overlooked by the Map-Makers.
He knew how to pin a Rube against the Wall and make him say “Yes.”
He rode in Cabooses, fought the Roller-Towels, endured the Taunts of Ess, Bess, and Tess who shot the Sody Biscuit, and reclined in the Chamber of Horrors, entirely surrounded by Wall-Paper, but what cared he?
He was salting the Spon.
He was closing in on the Needful.
For a term of years he lived on Time-Tables and slept sitting up.
Day after day he dog-trotted through a feverish Routine of unpacking and packing, and then climbing back to the superheated Day Coach among the curdled Smells.
Every January 1st he did a Gaspard Chuckle when he checked up the total Get, for now he owned two Brick Buildings and had tasted a little Blood in the way of Chattel Mortgages.
One of the partners in the Jobbing Concern happened to die. Before Rigor Mortis could set in or the Undertaker had time to flash a Tape Measure, Aleck was up at the grief-stricken Home to cop out an Option on the Interest.
Now he could give the Cackle to all the Knights of the Road who had blown their Substance along the gay White Ways of Crawfordsville, Bucyrus, and Sedalia.
He was the real Gazook with a Glass Cage, a sliding Desk and a whole Battery of Rubber Stamps.
In order to learn every Kink of the Game, freeze out the other Holders of Stock and gradually possess himself of all the Money in the World, Aleck now found it necessary to organize himself into both a Day and a Night Shift and have his Lunches brought in.
The various Smoothenheimers who were out on the Road had a proud chance to get by with the padded Expense Account. Aleck could smell a Phoney before he opened the Envelope, because that is how he got His.
With a three-ton Burden on his aching Shoulders, he staggered up the flinty Incline.
Away back yonder, while sleeping above the Store, a vision had come to him. He saw himself sitting as a Director at a Bank Meeting–an enlarged and glorified Fishberry.
Now he was playing Fox and pulling for the Dream to work out.
The cold-eyed Custodians up at the main Fortress of Credit began to take notice of the Rustler.
He was a Glutton for Punishment, a Discounter from away back, and a Demon for applying the Acid Test to every Account.
He was a Sure-Thinger, air-tight and playing naught but Cinches. No wonder they all took a slant at him and spotted him as a Comer.