The snake reporter of The Rolling Stone was wandering up the avenue last
night on his way home from the Y.M.C.A. rooms when he was approached by
a gaunt, hungry-looking man with wild eyes and dishevelled hair. He
accosted the reporter in a hollow, weak voice.
"'Can you tell me, Sir, where I can find in this town a family of
"'I don't understand exactly.'
"'Let me tell you how it is,' said the stranger, inserting his
forefinger in the reporter's buttonhole and badly damaging his
chrysanthemum. 'I am a representative from Soapstone County, and I and
my family are houseless, homeless, and shelterless. We have not tasted
food for over a week. I brought my family with me, as I have indigestion
and could not get around much with the boys. Some days ago I started out
to find a boarding house, as I cannot afford to put up at a hotel. I
found a nice aristocratic-looking place, that suited me, and went in and
asked for the proprietress. A very stately lady with a Roman nose came
in the room. She had one hand laid across her stom--across her waist,
and the other held a lace handkerchief. I told her I wanted board for
myself and family, and she condescended to take us. I asked for her
terms, and she said $300 per week.
"'I had two dollars in my pocket and I gave her that for a fine teapot
that I broke when I fell over the table when she spoke.'
"'You appear surprised,' says she. `You will please remembah that I am
the widow of Governor Riddle of Georgiah; my family is very highly
connected; I give you board as a favah; I nevah considah money any
equivalent for the advantage of my society, I--'
"'Well, I got out of there, and I went to some other places. The next
lady was a cousin of General Mahone of Virginia, and wanted four dollars
an hour for a back room with a pink motto and a Burnet granite bed in
it. The next one was an aunt of Davy Crockett, and asked eight dollars a
day for a room furnished in imitation of the Alamo, with prunes for
breakfast and one hour's conversation with her for dinner. Another one
said she was a descendant of Benedict Arnold on her father's side and
Captain Kidd on the other.
"'She took more after Captain Kidd.
"'She only had one meal and prayers a day, and counted her society worth
$100 a week.
"'I found nine widows of Supreme Judges, twelve relicts of Governors and
Generals, and twenty-two ruins left by various happy Colonels,
Professors, and Majors, who valued their aristocratic worth from $90 to
$900 per week, with weak-kneed hash and dried apples on the side. I
admire people of fine descent, but my stomach yearns for pork and beans
instead of culture. Am I not right?'
"'Your words,' said the reporter, 'convince me that you have uttered
what you have said.'
"'Thanks. You see how it is. I am not wealthy; I have only my per diem
and my perquisites, and I cannot afford to pay for high lineage and
moldy ancestors. A little corned beef goes further with me than a
coronet, and when I am cold a coat of arms does not warm me.'
"'I greatly fear, 'said the reporter, with a playful hiccough, 'that you
have run against a high-toned town. Most all the first-class boarding
houses here are run by ladies of the old Southern families, the very
first in the land.'
"'I am now desperate,' said the Representative, as he chewed a tack
awhile, thinking it was a clove. 'I want to find a boarding house where
the proprietress was an orphan found in a livery stable, whose father
was a dago from East Austin, and whose grandfather was never placed on
the map. I want a scrubby, ornery, low-down, snuff-dipping, back-woodsy,
piebald gang, who never heard of finger bowls or Ward McAllister, but
who can get up a mess of hot cornbread and Irish stew at regular market
"'Is there such a place in Austin?'
"The snake reporter sadly shook his head. 'I do not know,' he said, 'but
I will shake you for the beer.'
"Ten minutes later the slate in the Blue Ruin saloon bore two additional