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A short story by George Ade

The Effort To Convert The Work Horse Into A High-Stepper

Title:     The Effort To Convert The Work Horse Into A High-Stepper
Author: George Ade [More Titles by Ade]

Once there was a plain, unvarnished Yank who made his Pile in a Scrub Town situated midday between the Oats Belt and the Tall Timber. He was a large and sandy Mortal with a steel-trap Jaw and a cold glittering Eye. He made his first Stack a Dollar at a Time on straight Deals, but after a while he learned a few Things. He organized Stock Companies and then crawled out after hooking up with the Velvet. Every one called him Mister and treated him with Politeness, but, just the same, when he walked into an Office Building they all wondered what he had come after and there was more or less locking of Safes. It is only fair to remark, on the Side, that he wouldn't take anything which was securely spiked down, and the Grand Jury never bothered him, because he worked under a Contract.

The Financier was the high Centre Pole of a Bank and a Department Store and several Factories that gave Young People a Start in the World at something like $2.75 per Week.

He was accustomed to having all the Subordinates stand on one Foot and tremble whenever he showed up. In fact, he was a very hefty Proposition all through the Business District. But when he struck the Street leading to his House he began to reef his Sails and lower all of his Flags.

In his own Domicile he did not even play Second Fiddle. He simply trailed along at the fag end of the Parade and carried the Music. The Piercing Eye and the Peremptory Manner that caused all the Book-keepers to fall off from their High Perches and prostrate themselves had no visible effect on Laura and the Girls. Popsy was a High Guy at the Directors' Meeting, but a mighty cheap Souffle at his own Fireside. Any time that his Plans did not coincide with those of the Feminine Bunch, they passed him a backhanded Veto that would cause him to lie quiet for Days at a time.

The Financier loved the boundless West, where the Sack Coat abounds and the Cuss-Word is a common Heritage. Domestic Cigars were good enough for him, and he figured that one good reliable Hired Girl who knew how to cook Steak was all the Help that was needed in any House. But Mother had seen Fifth Avenue in a Dream, and the Girls had attended a Boarding School at which nearly every one knew some one who was Prominent Socially. They had done a lot of Hard Work at the Piano and taken a side-hold on the French Language and it seemed to them that they were wasting their Time in loitering on the Outskirts of Civilization when they might be up at Headquarters cutting more or less of a Gash. All the Young Men in this Reub Town wore Derbies with their Evening Clothes and came to Dances with their White Gloves smelling of Gasoline, in addition to which they lacked Repose. If they had stopped to cultivate Repose, most of them would have landed in the Villa set aside for Paupers.

When Laura and the Girls first advocated pulling up Stakes and doing a tall Hike to the East, the Producer emitted a Roar that would have frightened any one except Laura and the Girls. They closed in on him from three Directions and beat down his Defence. When they got through with the living Meal Ticket he was as meek as an English Servant and ready to take orders from any one.

So the Caravansary moved away toward the Rising Sun. At Wilkesbarre, Pennsylvania, the Heavens opened and a Great Light struck down upon them, transforming all except the one who happened to carry the Letter of Credit. Laura and the Girls suddenly forgot that there was any Land west of Pittsburg, and they dropped their R's and got the Kangaroo Walk and began to order their Food in Foreign Languages. After that, all Father had to do was to follow along and look Pleasant and dig every few Minutes.

The Outfit stopped at the Waldorf three days so as to obtain a Residence, and after that they Registered as being from New York. Then they threw Papa on a Boat and took him to the Other Side, the Place where Americans are so Popular, if you don't care what you say. By paying off the Mortgage they obtained a Suite at a Hotel patronized by the Nobility and Gentry and supported by People from Iowa. After which they began to present Letters of Introduction and try to butt in. Laura and the Girls felt that if only they could eat a Meal once or twice in the gloomy Presence of those who had Handles to their Names, they would be ready to fall back and die Happy. They had some Trouble about getting into the Tall Game on account of their Money. In the States the general Run of People worship the Almighty Dollar, but in England they hate the Sight of it.

In spite of the Fact that they were sinfully Rich they succeeded in Elbowing their way into several Dinners at which it was necessary to put Ice into the Claret in order to keep it at the Temperature of the Room. The Financier, in his First Part Clothes with an Ice-Cream Weskit, was a Picture that no Artist could paint. His hair would not stay combed and he hardly ever knew what to do with his Hands.

Laura and the Girls could forget that they had once seen the Missouri River, but not so with Old Ready Money. Right at the Table, sitting opposite the Earl of Hammersmith or the Marquis of Stroke-on-Trent, while Laura and the Girls would be talking about their Country Place and trying to smother the American Accent, the Lobsterine would come in and tell about something that happened to him once when he was plowing Corn. Then Laura and the Girls would want to duck right under the Table and die of Mortification then and there.

The only Reason they put up with him was that he seemed to be useful when it came to signing Checks.

In England they met a great many Nice People. The Financier knew that they were Nice because they wore Dark Clothes and seldom Smiled.

Then the two shapely Daughters went and married a couple of shelf-worn Titles.

The Financier had the Novel Experience of putting up for a Brace of Sons-in-Law who would not speak to him when any one was around. Which served him right, for he had no Business to be in Trade. It was very careless of him not to have inherited his Stuff.

Still, it was a great Satisfaction to him to be a Blood Relative of two Howling Swells who had Pedigrees reaching back almost as far as their Debts.

Very often he would take them into a Back Room and turn them around and look them over and recognize the cold, undeniable Fact that they were cheap at any Price.

* * * * *

MORAL: Bunker Hill has been Avenged, over and over.

[The end]
George Ade's short story: Effort To Convert The Work Horse Into A High-Stepper