THE BEGGAR'S PURSE
A Fairy Tale of Familiar Finance
By Samuel Hopkins Adams
IT was our original intention to print and distribute a small number of
these booklets gratuitously among our Mends with the hope that this story
might aid in the sale of War Savings Stamps.
However, before the booklet was finished we had a number of requests from
large firms who desired to purchase them in quantities for distribution
among their own people. This we had not planned on.
In taking the matter up with Samuel Hopkins Adams, the author, he
suggested that he was willing to forego any remuneration if we would
furnish these books at cost. This we gladly consented to do, and we will
print and deliver any size edition, selling them at actual cost.
We are glad to do this, for we will feel well repaid for our efforts, if
every book is the means of selling one War Savings Stamp.
SMITH & PORTER PRESS, INC.
530 ATLANTIC AVENUE, BOSTON, MASS.
The thought in mind that this story might suggest a way to increase the
sale of War Savings Stamps, the publishers and the author, who receive no
remuneration, have kindly consented to allow us to print and distribute
gratuitously this booklet.
Smith & Porter Press, Inc.
THE BEGGAR'S PURSE
VAN TENNER was a man who pursued his way through life by fixed habits. He
lived in Philadelphia. That was one of the habits. He ate regularly, slept
regularly, rose regularly, worked regularly and went to the club
regularly; all this within the limits of a very comfortable income. He
never overstrained this income. That's what kept it so comfortable. It
also kept E. Van Tenner comfortable. They were very comfortable together,
which is fortunate, as there were only the two of them to look after each
other. That is to say, E. Van Tenner was a bachelor. As to his age, face,
form and apparel, the illustrator may, if he will, apprise you. Not I.
They have no essential bearing upon this, my tale, which is no love story,
for love and E. Van Tenner were strangers.
But though love had passed him by, war came home to him, touching him with
intimate shock upon the income and then upon his habits; but this he
endured, not without discomposure, indeed, but without resentment, for one
of his best habits was to be honestly and thoroughly patriotic. In sundry
phases war came to him; but the particular phase which, at the time of the
beginning of this chronicle, interrupted him in the task of figuring up
personal accounts, wore white whiskers and an ingratiating expression and
was a professional beggar, not for pay but for patriotism.
The professional and patriotic beggar fixed E. Van Tenner with a bright
and amiable eye and said—that is, he would have said if E. Van
Tenner hadn't first said:
"No." And then repeated it with level and considered firmness: "No. No.
"But——" began the professional beggar.
"I subscribed liberally to the first Liberty Loan."
"I know. But——"
"More liberally to the second Liberty Loan."
"As for War Saving Stamps—I see them in your glittering eyes—I
know all the arguments——"
"Except one," interrupted the beggar. "Quite useless," said E. Van Tenner
firmly. "However, proceed!"
"My argument," said the beggar, "is based upon the word 'savings'. War Savings
Stamps. I propose that you shall start modestly with one of these stamps,
purchased out of what you save on current expenses without giving up
anything that you need or want or aren't better off without."
"That," commented E. Van Tenner, smiling, "suggests magic."
"Magic, pure, deep and white," confirmed the beggar promptly. "What are
your plans for to-day?"
"A trip on business to New York."
"Good! How long?"
"Twenty-four hours," said the precise E. Van Tenner.
"Do you carry a pocketbook—or your money loose?"
"Take this purse. It calls for but one condition: That you keep all your
money—bills and change—in it and spend only from it. If this
is faithfully done, within twenty-four hours you will have saved enough to
buy one—no, two stamps; which at the present price will come to
eight dollars and twenty-eight cents."
To Van Tenner's skeptical eye the purse placed in his hand seemed an
ordinary-enough affair—a cheap, flattish wallet, without
distinguishing mark until he opened it and found, set into the flap, a
celluloid tablet flanked by a small pencil. Across the top of the tablet
ran the legend "What's the good?"
"A colloquial expression of the philosophy of indifference," observed E.
Van Tenner with a smile.
"On the contrary," retorted the beggar, "it is a serious and profound
inquiry into first causes. The magic inheres in it. Under-stand, now: You
are not to scrimp and scrooge at all. Parsimony by people who can afford
to spend does harm, not good. And this magic, being white magic, works
only for good. But if you undertake to remove money from that purse for
any purely wasteful purpose the magic will be loosed; and you shall see
what you shall see—or, more accurately, feel what you shall feel."
"The purse will stir in my pocket, I suppose," laughed E. Van Tenner.
"Much deeper," replied the beggar gravely. "In your conscience."
"I accept your challenge," said the other. He emptied his pockets and
deposited all his money under the guardianship of the inquiry "What's the
"To start from the moment when I leave my office for the train."
"I shall expect to hear from you on your return," replied the beggar, and
vanished by the magical process of stepping into a bewitched compartment
which, at the touch of a brass-buttoned wizard's hand upon a lever,
dropped harmlessly down a frightful chasm and disgorged him unharmed upon
On the punctual fifteen minutes before train time E. Van Tenner picked up
his small, light traveling bag and walked the two blocks to the station.
There he was met by an obsequious porter to whom he mechanically
surrendered the insignificant burden. Instinctively he felt in his change
pocket to see whether he had any silver. None. Nor in his trousers pocket.
Why, what had he—
Oh, of course. The beggar's purse, in his breast pocket. He reached in for
it and the purse bit him. At least that was his first startled thought, so
queer and unpleasant a thrill ran up his finger. Then it was the porter's
turn to be startled, for E. Van Tenner, retrieving his luggage, addressed
to him a positive monosyllable: "None."
"Wha'—wha' that you say, suh?"
"Didn't you just ask me 'What's the good?"'
"Me? Lawd! No, suh!"
"Well, somebody did," asserted E. Van Tenner, vague but emphatic. "I'll
carry my own bag, thank you."
"Ghos'es! He's hearin' ghos'es," surmised the alarmed African, staring
after his escaped patron as that haunted gentleman made his way to the
Here he again felt for the wallet. Though there was no shock this time it
seemed to come forth reluctantly, and the magic phrase as it met his eyes
took on a quality of insistence.
"Well, what is the good?" repeated E. Van Tenner.
"Beg your pardon?" said the astonished agent from his window.
"I—that is to say—have you a chair for New York on this
"Just one left, sir."
"Keep it!" the horrified Van Tenner heard himself say. Or was it himself
that had said it? At any rate he was ten paces from the window on his way
to a day coach before he recovered. Not until then did it occur to him
that on his last trip the parlor car had been so hot and stuffy as to
leave him with a headache all day. Perhaps he would be just as well off in
a day coach; even better, possibly. He found a seat, disposed himself in
it and essayed to return the beggar's purse to his pocket. It resisted.
Its reluctance was quite uncanny until E. Van Tenner observed that in some
way the pencil had got afoul of the pocket flap.
"Oh, that's it!" said he, enlightened, and proceeded to make the following
entries of cash saved, on the magic tablet:
Station porter Parlor car $0.55
Pullman porter .15
Hardly had he settled in his place when he heard a familiar voice behind
him. He turned. I t was Welland, a near neighbor to his apartment. Welland
was in the automobile business, from which he was reputed to draw from
twenty-five to thirty thousand dollars a year in commissions. It was a
surprise to E. Van Tenner to find so glossily prosperous a person, with a
reputation as a free spender, in the day coach. He mentioned his surprise.
"War, my dear sir, war," said Welland. "This nation is at war. I haven't
ridden in a parlor car since last summer."
"I see no principle involved except economy."
"Don't you? The fewer heavy parlor cars the less demand on coal and
rolling stock. Here I am, unable to get my normal supply of automobiles
from the factory, because the railroads can't handle them. And, mind you,
they're a necessity. They relieve the strain of suburban railway traffic.
Men in every other line of necessary business are up against the same
thing. So I'm doing my part to relieve the situation by riding in a light
day coach, which seats a hundred or so passengers instead of a heavy
Pullman, which seats maybe forty."
E. Van Tenner glowed inwardly with self-satisfaction in that he had taken
the unaccustomed and plebeian coach. He felt sure that the beggar's purse
would warmly approve of Welland, When that gentlemen, on his suggestion,
moved forward to share his seat he anticipated a pleasanter journey than
he would have enjoyed in the parlor car. On the outskirts of the city the
train was halted for a minute. Welland pointed out of the window to a
great mass of scrap iron which was being pulled apart and loaded on flat
cars by a busy gang of workers. To his astonishment he perceived that the
workers were women.
"You see that," said his companion. "Why do you think they put women on
such rough work?"
"Because they can be had for lower wages, I suppose."
"Not at all. They're getting men's pay; have been for months. I saw the
advertisements in the papers, offering it. No, sir! It's because the
railroad can't find men enough. Yet back in the parlor car there's a husky
roust-about picking up towels and flicking dust off chair backs for tips,
while those women hustle iron. He gets none of my money!"
The trip to New York was exceptionally brief, E. Van Tenner thought. At
the terminus two Red-Caps swooped upon Welland and himself, only to be
repelled in disorder.
"As long as women handle bulk metal I guess I can carry my own suit case,"
observed Welland, stepping easily along under the burden of a week-end
trunk. "You've no idea how much good muscle one puts on, juggling weights
like this. Regular traveling gymnasium. Well; here's where I leave you."
Bidding his companion good-by E. Van Tenner committed the following entry
to his celluloid:
He made his way to the outer air, where a waiting chorus celebrated his
arrival by bursting, full-throated, into song:
"Taxi! Taxi! Taxi, sir! Taxi t'yer hotel. Here y'are, taxi!" The familiar
sounds led him unthinkingly to the nearest cab, operated by a youthful
bruiser with the arms of an ape and the jaw of an alligator.
"Where to?" he growled.
E. Van Tenner laid a hand on his purse, drew it forth and——
"What's the good?" it demanded in black and authoritative print.
"How much to the Hotel Von Gorder?"
"'Bout forty cents," returned the tough, as one disdaining such petty
"Thank you," returned E. Van Tenner politely, and entered the amount on
his tablet. "I'll walk."
"Walk!" bellowed the outraged chauffeur. "Whaddaya tryin' to do—kid
The protrusive jaw was thrust up under E. Van Tenner's retiring nose.
The small, greenish eyes bored into his. "Yuh took me," snarled their
owner. "Now gidin!"
Ordinarily a pacifist in all personal relations E. Van Tenner would,
unsupported by ulterior influences, have meekly obeyed rather than risk a
verbal or possibly physical encounter. But magic is magic and will carry
him whom it upholds by its might through the imminent deadly breach even
to the cabby's mouth. Something tingled upward from the hand that held the
beggar's purse; something that snapped back E. Van Tenner's spare
shoulders to a springy squareness and fired his brain and nerved his
voice; and with unutterable surprise he heard himself speak in tones that
were more than peremptory, that had the flick and sting of a military
command: "Where is your draft registration card?" The red and savage face
turned pallid and receded. The gorilla frame drooped away, then gathered
itself and sprang—not upon E. Van Tenner but upon the driver's seat
of the taxi, which straightway departed with snorts of pain and terror.
"Well, well!" thought E. Van Tenner, inexpressibly shocked at his newself.
"In another moment I should have hit that fellow upon the nose. I am sure
that I should."
A wild, infuriated yell from the motorman of a cable car, which the routed
taxi had missed by a scant inch, drew E. Van Tenner's eyes to the legend
on the car, which, he perceived, ran within one block of his hotel. To
save time he jumped aboard, and reached his destination as quickly as he
would have done in the taxicab. On the way he corrected his entry by
deducting five cents for fare; then on reflection added fifteen cents as
the probable tip to the chauffeur, this representing the sheer blackmail
of the dread of being considered a short sport. At the journey's end his
Station porter $0.15
Parlor car .55
Pullman porter .25
Cable car vs. taxi .35
Chauffeur's blackmail .15
Making a promising total of $1.60 already. E. Van Tenner perceived that
instead of by a beggar he had been visited by one who was perhaps a
prophet. The last item in the account particularly pleased the accountant.
He began to suspect that much of the change that he systematically
dribbled out was simply the blackmail paid by vanity to extortion. At once
he was to meet with a double verification of this. At the hotel desk he
asked for room with bath.
"Something about five dollars, Mister—er—er?" inquired the
official behind the register.
"Yes," assented E. Van Tenner, and instantly felt a pang in the purse.
"That is—ah—haven't you anything for four dollars?"
"Oh, yes; we have some as low as that," returned the clerk superciliously;
He left unfinished a conditional clause that obviously was designed to
conclude—"you don't feel that you can afford a good room." So frail
was E. Van Tenner's humanity—let him that is without vanity cast the
first stone—that he hesitated. He didn't dare take out the beggar's
purse and look it in the face. But, then, neither did he dare look the
supercilious hotel clerk in the face; that is, until——
"Reservation for J. Q. Smith; room and bath, three dollars," said a brisk
newcomer at his side; and another clerk answered promptly: "Yes, Mr.
Smith; Room 1118."
"I'll take the four-dollar room," said E. Van Tenner firmly; and the
clerk, whose supercilious expression was worth thousands per year to the
hotel, admitted defeat for once and said: "Very well; will you go up now?"
No; he decided that he would lunch at once; but first he would wash up. In
the washroom he was beset by a human bluebottle who buzzed round him with
a futile and superfluous whisk broom, despite his protests, and all but
blocked his way when he sought an egress without paying for it in the form
of a tip. But the spirit in the purse was having its way with E. Van
Tenner now, and an inspired inquiry as to whether the brush brigand was of
military age removed him from the path.
The next obstacle was more formidable. The door of the café was guarded by
two young and unbeautiful descendants of the horseleech's daughters.
Always before he had contributed automatically in response to their
unspoken "Give! Give!" though he knew that he was only enriching some
unknown capitalist in the background who rented this particular
blackmailing privilege from the hotel for eight thousand dollars per year.
But—what would the fearsome beggar's purse say or do should he
attempt to extract the minimum of ten cents to protect him from their
cackle of disdain? Fortified as he was he could now face the contempt of
man but not of these befrizzled Amazons. Yet to pass them while retaining
possession of hat and coat was impossible. Already their grasping hands
were extended for his apparel. E. Van Tenner turned and fled.
Do not assume, however, that his retreat was caused by cowardice alone.
Ingenuity, doubtless instigated by the beggar's purse, is entitled to half
credit. E. Van Tenner took the elevator—free—to his room and
hung his hat and coat—gratis—in the clothes press. The room,
he noted with satisfaction, was precisely the same as the five-dollar
variety except that it was a few floors higher. He entered one dollar
saved on room, ten cents each on washroom and coat check; and descending
passed, unarmored but unscathed, the gantlet of the disarmed horseleech's
great-granddaughters. Already his total was two dollars and eighty cents.
Good progress toward one stamp!
Upon his return to the room to resume his cast-off garments some
indefinite discomfort in the region of his left big toe attracted E. Van
Tenner's unfavorable notice. Could the magic wallet have established
connections in that quarter? It seemed highly improbable. Investigation
supplied a simpler reason—a large hole yawned in his sock. A block
distant was a high-class department store. Thither he made his way, and
was presently applying a rather exigent taste in hosiery to the
consideration of some chastely fancy designs in striped silk. Three
dollars was about his usual price. But, came the chilling thought, what
would the purse say or do? Tentatively he drew it forth. It made no
protest. The legend "What's the good?" had lost its accusing aspect.
"After all," reflected E. Van Tenner, "the beggar said that I wasn't to
scrimp myself." Then to the clerk: "I'll take this pair."
Still maintaining, strict neutrality the wallet gave of its wealth. He
returned it to his breast pocket.
"Will you take them with you, sir?" asked the salesman.
"No. Send them to——Ouch!"
"To where?" The man lifted startled eyes above a poised pencil.
"I'll have them sent to the——Ugh!"
It was most astounding! The magic purse, quiescent during the deal, was
now catching at his breath like an ice-water douche over the heart. Had it
gone back on the bargain? Must he give up those chaste yet sprightly
socks? Not without a struggle.
"Could you deliver them this afternoon?"
"We could if it isn't too far."
"Then have them sent to——Oh, Lord! No use!"
"Are you ill, sir?" asked the floorwalker, approaching anxiously.
Some unknown incitement forced a question to E. Van Tenner's lips: "See
here, does it cost you anything to deliver goods?"
"Certainly. In time and labor from twelve cents per package upward."
So that was it! The magic was working beyond the limits of his own
exchequer. Obviously it didn't propose to sit by and watch him waste
anybody's money, even a store's.
"I'll take them with me," said he. "Thank you, sir," said the floorman.
As he departed with his purchase E. Van Tenner felt a sensation as if a
very soft and satisfied kitten were purring against his chest. "All
right," said he, speaking down his shirt front; "but don't you get too
dictatorial." Business took up the rest of the afternoon; business in
which the purse played an honorable and unprotesting part, though its
course at one point called for a taxi expenditure of something more than
two dollars. That, however, was to save necessary time. E. Van Tenner was
relieved to find the magic receptacle so reasonable. He began to feel that
he could live on terms of amity and confidence with it indefinitely. But
when he came to pay the chauffeur the wallet produced the exact amount
with a precision that he could not but feel to be significant. In vain did
he search for a tip.
"What's the good?" demanded his mentor. "What's the good of making a
present to a man in whom you have no possible interest and who hasn't done
anything that he isn't paid to do by his employer?"
"Not the slightest," admitted E. Van Tenner in the face of the disgusted
taxi man; and even added cheerfully: "That's the precise amount, I
So swiftly and blithely does one become hardened to impotent scorn! Thus
was twenty-five cents added to the mounting record.
His evening was free. He decided upon a light and hasty dinner, followed
by the theater—if the magical arbiter would permit. By repeating his
simple expedient of leaving his outer apparel in his room he eluded the
coat-check impost, and genially smiled at the disgruntled Amazons, who
seemed to be asking each other whether this comparatively nude intruder
had perhaps pawned his overcoat.
"Dry Martini," ordered E. Van Tenner upon seating himself. Instantly and
miraculously the beggar's wallet seemed to have dropped from his vest
pocket to the pit of his stomach, upon which it pressed with a destructive
"Wait a moment!" said its proprietor slave hastily to the waiter; then
added in a low but indignant undertone: "See here! It isn't your affair to
censor my morals and habits. You're a committee on finance, and that's
all!" He plucked forth the purse into the light of day. "What's the good?"
it inquired with an air of sweet reasonableness.
E. Van Tenner reflected. After all, what was the good? Either he had an
appetite for dinner, in which case he didn't need the cocktail; or else he
needed the cocktail to create an appetite for dinner, in which case it was
high time that he quit the habit. Hadn't the beggar distinctly told him
that he needn't give up anything which he would'nt be better off without.
"Never mind the Martini," said he wearily? During dinner he looked over
the theatrical advertisements in his paper, and hesitating between those
classically named productions whereto a discriminating public taste is
addressed, Atta Boy, Oh, Slush, and Gertie's Green Garters, fixed upon the
latter. He must now retrieve his coat and hat, upon which he had saved
another dime. Ascending to his room he switched on the lights, got into
his outer garments, locked his door and started for the elevator. A slight
but insistent cramp in the pocketbook halted him. What could that mean? He
wasn't spending any money. If it was a protest against theatergoing it was
premature. Let it wait till he got to the theater! He started again, and
caught his breath over a more pronounced pang. His eyes, turning upward,
were arrested by the glowing glass of his transom. To be sure! He had left
the lights on, thereby wasting coal for the hotel—upon which he had
already saved a dollar and fifty-five cents.
"You are certainly some little economist!" he murmured to the occupant of
his pocket as he returned and left the room in darkness.
At the theater a ducal personage behind a grille negligently informed him
that there was nothing available in the orchestra before a week from
Wednesday; but an undistinguished individual in the lobby—who may or
may not have been there for that very purpose—mentioned that the
Bilbosh Agency had some good seats. Thither went E. Van Tenner. Yes; the
agency had a few seats left. There was one in the eighth row, three
dollars and thirty cents, please. At the mention of the price the beggar's
purse leaped from E. Van Tenner's hand and fell flat on its face upon the
E. Van Tenner took it forth and gave it air. Now in our amiable and
easy-going bachelor there was a definite streak of obstinacy. He had
undertaken to see Gertie's Green Garters and see it he would, always
assuming that the magic receptacle would permit. He retraced his steps to
the theater, retired to a corner of the lobby and drew forth the
chancellor of his exchequer.
"What's the good?" it questioned. But the effect was that of inquiry, not
"The good is that I've done a day's work and am entitled to some
amusement. What's the harm?"
The beggar's purse appeared to accept this view complaisantly. Back to the
ticket window stepped E. Van Tenner.
"What is the best seat you have for tonight?" he asked the duke of the
diagram. "Tenth row in the balcony; one sixty-five."
"Can you see the stage from it?"
"Oh, yes," replied the duke wearily. "You can see the stage." His tone,
aimed at the inquirer's vanity, commented: "If you're the kind of cheap
person who goes into the balcony." But E. Van Tenner's vanity was now
armored like the tropic ant-eater.
"I'll take it," he said; and the beggars purse opened automatically.
Rather to his surprise he found that his view of the play was just as
unobstructed as in the orchestra seats to which he had been accustomed;
and his hearing was much less interrupted—not to mention the fact
that he had saved one dollar and sixty-five cents at one fell swoop. Thus
he felt justified at the close of the performance in stopping for a bite
of supper. A flaring light directed him to a place where, all too late,
the frantic dissonances of a jazz band burst upon his shocked ears. Before
he could retreat a coat-room attendant had his garments in pawn. Perforce
he must go forward. As he dropped into a gilded and fragile chair a pair
of ample ladies, wearing carefully greased evening gowns, appeared upon
the stage and burst into metallic shrieks, supported by the musical spasm
of the orchestra. E. Van Tenner essayed to forget his sufferings in
contemplation of the menu—and got a fresh shock. He had seen prices
before, but never such prices as these. Even without the magic purse he
was sure that they would have given him pause. As for the purse, he did
not dare bring it out in sight of that array of figures. Something light,
a bit of fish and some stuffed green peppers, he had thought to order. The
fish were evidently goldfish; solid gold at that. As for the peppers, his
eyes encountered this legend:
Green peppers (1) stuffed with rice and tomato—80 cents.
At first he thought it a misprint; it must be thirty cents; or possibly
fifty. Consideration of the other vegetables dispelled that hope. They
were on an equal scale. But—eighty cents for one green pepper! Was
there, then, a fatal shortage in the green-pepper market? Or a crop
failure in the rice or tomatoes whereof the stuffing was compounded?
"Cut it short!
Be a sport!
Buy a quart!"
shrieked the songsters, coyly adjusting their shoulder straps.
Enlightenment burst upon E. Van Tenner. The prices of the menu, suggesting
the daily stock market report before the depression, became clear. Somehow
that awful vocality and the hardly less agonizing accompaniment had to be
paid for. His green pepper at eighty cents was to pay for it. It was
stuffed, that green pepper, not with rice and tomato but with ragtime
jazzeries and syncopated shrieks. E. Van Tenner laid the menu on the table
and would have risen and escaped, but there hovered over him, portentous
and awful, the head waiter himself.
"You haf ordered?" he inquired.
"I—that is—no; I think I won't order this evening," quavered
"There is a table charch of one dollar," said the official severely.
E. Van Tenner, overawed, reached for the beggar's purse. It flatly refused
to open. As the owner strove with it there was instilled into his veins a
calm and chill determination, born of a discovery that he had made—or
had the purse magically indicated it?—regarding the menu.
"I shall not pay it," he said quietly.
"You shouldt haf to pay it." The head waiter's threatening tone took on a
little more pronounced accent.
"You're a German, aren't you?" inquired E. Van Tenner blandly.
"Dot is my bisaness," retorted the other excitedly. "You pay dot table
"No; I shall not pay the table charge. But I will do this: I will pay you
one dollar for that menu card, which, I observe, has on it two, four,
seven, eleven—eleven different kinds of meat, on a Meatless Tuesday!
Come; what do you say?"
The head waiter said nothing. His jaw dropped. He put his hand to his chin
undecidedly, then turned and fled, taking the card with him. Glowing with
virtue—which, after all, was the purse's, not his—E. Van
Tenner departed, not even tipping the coat-room attendant, to such heights
was his courage inspired, and found a chop-house where he supped
excellently on a strict Hoover basis, and entered an estimated saving of
eighty-five cents, and ten cents extra for the defrauded hat boy.
All that night he slept the deep, sweet sleep of one justified of good
deeds. The beggar's purse, at least equally justified, slept equally well
under his pillow. In the morning it started work for him again. It saved
him the usual coat-room charge, and rudely checked his mildly emotional
impulse to drop a quarter in the tin cup of a pitiable and shivering
mendicant cripple who owns two tenement houses on the East Side and has
amassed a small fortune by distraining on tenants' furniture. He hardly
knew whether to repeat the entry on the morning's taxi or not, since he
felt it already a habit not to hire a cab when he could conveniently take
a car. But he was clearly to the good on one item of a quarter, when in
carrying his grip from the elevator he was charged upon by a livered
youth. Horror was writ large in that youth's face; horror that a guest of
the golden Von Gorder should carry a grip weighing almost four pounds
across ten yards of floor alone and unaided. As Christian strove with
Apollyon so strove E. Van Tenner with the liveried youth for that grip,
which he finally delivered safe out of the enemy's hands, and himself
bore, triumphant, to the street car.
In the returning train, where he won to the day coach through the stricken
hopes of the embattled Red-Caps, he figured out his day's savings to date
Cable car vs. taxi...........................................35
Pride of hotel room that went before a fall in price.......1.00
2d Chauffeur's supertax......................................25
3 Check-room petty larcenies.................................30
1 Theater-ticket-agency grand larceny......................1.65
Cabaret highway robbery......................................85
Victory in wrestling match with hall boy.....................25
Cable car vs. taxi [he decided to put it in, including tip] .50
Triumph in footrace with Red-Caps............................15
Parlor-car fare and tip......................................80
Making a grand, impressive, but insufficient total of.....$8.05
Insufficient, because two of the beggar's War Savings Stamps would cost
$8.28. At the Philadelphia terminus he would save fifteen cents more of
his accustomed expenditure by dispensing with the porter's service. Still
he would be eight cents short of the total. Suddenly E. Van Tenner felt
himself bitterly disappointed. The zest of the game had got into his
veins. Had he braved hotel clerks, striven with bell boys, bearded head
waiters and outfooted the fleet and determined Red-Cap only to fail in
sight of the goal?
Perish the——"Evening papers! All the magazines! Here y'are
before the train starts."
"Evening Sentinel and Sat—" began E. Van Tenner, and dropped his
voice and the beggar's purse simultaneously. "Never mind. Don't want—I
mean need—'em." For here was his eight cents saved! With a
triumphing heart he retrieved the wallet, took out the pencil and entered
upon the celluloid tablet the final and victorious eight cents—that
is, he thought he had entered it. But lo! the line upon which he had
written remained blank. He examined the pencil.
Its point was perfect. The celluloid surface invited it. Again he essayed
to set down the consummating eight cents. It was as if he had written with
a wand upon water.
"This is not white but black magic," said E. Van Tenner, appalled.
In response there came back to him again the words of the beggar: "What
you save on current expenses without giving up anything that you need or
want or aren't better off without." Obviously, then, the beggar's purse
was backing up the beggar's undertaking. It considered that he was better
off with than without his favorite reading. E. Van Tenner pursued the boy
and spent the eight cents.
All the way back to Philadelphia, however, his mind reverted painfully to
the problem. In vain did he pass up a subsequent train boy's blandishments
on the subject of chocolate; he never ate chocolate. The sensitive tablet
refused to be gulled into accepting an entry on any such pretext. Equally
idle was it to pretend that he might have given a quarter instead of
fifteen cents to the porter at Philadelphia. Fifteen cents was his un
erringly methodical tip. To make matters worse the train was nearly an
hour late. Consequently there would be no opportunity of further saving;
not even eight cents.
Heavy-hearted he disembarked. The beggar had asked to be informed about
the experiment. Well; he'd tell him. Too bad! Might as well get it over
with. And there was only ten minutes' leeway. He'd phone from that hotel
opposite. Possibly the beggar could, of his magic, evolve some last-moment
plan. So approaching the telephone girl he began: "Broad, Four-four——"
The beggar's purse had stirred. It had more than stirred. It had flopped.
It was now doing more than flopping. It was turning frantic handsprings in
"Never mind that call," said the perturbed E. Van Tenner. "I'll—I'll
The beggar's purse settled down and went to sleep.
"How—how much would that call have been?" asked E. Van Tenner
"Local. Ten cents."
"And a letter—no, a postal card—is two cents. That's eight
cents saved. The exact amount! Gimme a postal card. No; I don't need to
write. I'll save the whole ten cents and be two cents to the good. I've
done it! I've done it! Whoopee!" said E. Van Tenner, dancing upon the
"Police!" said the telephone girl.
With the purpose of calling up the beggar on his own phone, free of
charge, E. Van Tenner hurried joyously to his office. The beggar was there
"Well?" said he.
"Yes," said E. Van Tenner.
"And two cents over for a third. The magic worked."
"What about the price of the lessons?"
"Haven't you learned anything in the last twenty-four hours?"
E. Van Tenner considered. "I've learned that every time I spend a dollar I
spend an extra quarter for vanity and a dime for timidity. I've learned
how to go without things I don't want, and to stop doing things I dislike
myself for doing. I've learned the difference between parsimony and
"Is it worth anything to you?" insinuated the worker of white magic.
"How many stamps can I take?"
"One hundred and ninety-eight more. That'll make your total investment
$828 and it'll bring you in $1000 at maturity."
"I'll buy." Thus did E. Van Tenner, exwaster, join the Take-the-Limit