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How To Make Friends With Mammon
by [?]

It was four o’clock in the afternoon of a dull winter day that Mr. H. sat in his counting room. The sun had nearly gone down, and, in fact, it was already twilight beneath the shadows of the tall, dusky stores, and the close, crooked streets of that quarter of Boston. Hardly light enough struggled through the dusky panes of the counting house for him to read the entries in a much-thumbed memorandum book, which he held in his hand.

A small, thin boy, with a pale face and anxious expression, significant of delicacy of constitution, and a too early acquaintance with want and sorrow, was standing by him, earnestly watching his motions.

“Ah, yes, my boy,” said Mr. H., as he at last shut up the memorandum book. “Yes, I’ve got the place now; I’m apt to be forgetful about these things; come, now, let’s go. How is it? Haven’t you brought the basket?”

“No, sir,” said the boy, timidly. “The grocer said he’d let mother have a quarter for it, and she thought she’d sell it.”

“That’s bad,” said Mr. H., as he went on, tying his throat with a long comforter of some yards in extent; and as he continued this operation he abstractedly repeated, “That’s bad, that’s bad,” till the poor little boy looked quite dismayed, and began to think that somehow his mother had been dreadfully out of the way.

“She didn’t want to send for help so long as she had any thing she could sell,” said the little boy in a deprecating tone.

“O, yes, quite right,” said Mr. H., taking from a pigeon hole in the desk a large pocket book, and beginning to turn it over; and, as before, abstractedly repeating, “Quite right, quite right?” till the little boy became reassured, and began to think, although he didn’t know why, that his mother had done something quite meritorious.

“Well,” said Mr. H., after he had taken several bills from the pocket book and transferred them to a wallet which he put into his pocket, “now we’re ready, my boy.” But first he stopped to lock up his desk, and then he said, abstractedly to himself, “I wonder if I hadn’t better take a few tracts.”

Now, it is to be confessed that this Mr. H., whom we have introduced to our reader, was, in his way, quite an oddity. He had a number of singular little penchants and peculiarities quite his own, such as a passion for poking about among dark alleys, at all sorts of seasonable and unseasonable hours; fishing out troops of dirty, neglected children, and fussing about generally in the community till he could get them into schools or otherwise provided for. He always had in his pocket book a note of some dozen poor widows who wanted tea, sugar, candles, or other things such as poor widows always will be wanting. And then he had a most extraordinary talent for finding out all the sick strangers that lay in out-of-the-way upper rooms in hotels, who, every body knows, have no business to get sick in such places, unless they have money enough to pay their expenses, which they never do.

Besides this, all Mr. H.’s kinsmen and cousins, to the third, fourth, and fortieth remove, were always writing him letters, which, among other pleasing items, generally contained the intelligence that a few hundred dollars were just then exceedingly necessary to save them from utter ruin, and they knew of nobody else to whom to look for it.

And then Mr. H. was up to his throat in subscriptions to every charitable society that ever was made or imagined; had a hand in building all the churches within a hundred miles; occasionally gave four or five thousand dollars to a college; offered to be one of six to raise ten thousand dollars for some benevolent purpose, and when four of the six backed out, quietly paid the balance himself, and said no more about it. Another of his innocent fancies was to keep always about him any quantity of tracts and good books, little and big, for children and grown-up people, which he generally diffused in a kind of gentle shower about him wherever he moved.