Golden by day and silver by night, a new trail now leads to us across
the Indian Ocean. Dusky kings and princes have found our Bombay of the
West; and few be their trails that do not lead down to Broadway on
their journey for to admire and for to see.
If chance should ever lead you near a hotel that transiently shelters
some one of these splendid touring grandees, I counsel you to seek
Lucullus Polk among the republican tuft-hunters that besiege its
entrances. He will be there. You will know him by his red, alert,
Wellington-nosed face, by his manner of nervous caution mingled with
determination, by his assumed promoter's or broker's air of busy
impatience, and by his bright-red necktie, gallantly redressing the
wrongs of his maltreated blue serge suit, like a battle standard still
waving above a lost cause. I found him profitable; and so may you.
When you do look for him, look among the light-horse troop of Bedouins
that besiege the picket-line of the travelling potentate's guards and
secretaries--among the wild-eyed genii of Arabian Afternoons that
gather to make astounding and egregrious demands upon the prince's
I first saw Mr. Polk coming down the steps of the hotel at which
sojourned His Highness the Gaekwar of Baroda, most enlightened of the
Mahratta princes, who, of late, ate bread and salt in our Metropolis
of the Occident.
Lucullus moved rapidly, as though propelled by some potent moral force
that imminently threatened to become physical. Behind him closely
followed the impetus--a hotel detective, if ever white Alpine hat,
hawk's nose, implacable watch chain, and loud refinement of manner
spoke the truth. A brace of uniformed porters at his heels preserved
the smooth decorum of the hotel, repudiating by their air of
disengagement any suspicion that they formed a reserve squad of
Safe on the sidewalk, Lucullus Polk turned and shook a freckled fist
at the caravansary. And, to my joy, he began to breathe deep invective
in strange words:
"Rides in howdays, does he?" he cried loudly and sneeringly. "Rides on
elephants in howdahs and calls himself a prince! Kings--yah! Comes
over here and talks horse till you would think he was a president; and
then goes home and rides in a private dining-room strapped onto an
elephant. Well, well, well!"
The ejecting committee quietly retired. The scorner of princes turned
to me and snapped his fingers.
"What do you think of that?" he shouted derisively. "The Gaekwar of
Baroda rides in an elephant in a howdah! And there's old Bikram
Shamsher Jang scorching up and down the pig-paths of Khatmandu on a
motor-cycle. Wouldn't that maharajah you? And the Shah of Persia, that
ought to have been Muley-on-the-spot for at least three, he's got the
palanquin habit. And that funny-hat prince from Korea--wouldn't you
think he could afford to amble around on a milk-white palfrey once in
a dynasty or two? Nothing doing! His idea of a Balaklava charge is to
tuck his skirts under him and do his mile in six days over the hog-
wallows of Seoul in a bull-cart. That's the kind of visiting
potentates that come to this country now. It's a hard deal, friend."
I murmured a few words of sympathy. But it was uncomprehending, for I
did not know his grievance against the rulers who flash, meteor-like,
now and then upon our shores.
"The last one I sold," continued the displeased one, "was to that
three-horse-tailed Turkish pasha that came over a year ago. Five
hundred dollars he paid for it, easy. I says to his executioner or
secretary--he was a kind of a Jew or a Chinaman--'His Turkey Gibbets
is fond of horses, then?'
"'Him?' says the secretary. 'Well, no. He's got a big, fat wife in the
harem named Bad Dora that he don't like. I believe he intends to
saddle her up and ride her up and down the board-walk in the Bulbul
Gardens a few times every day. You haven't got a pair of extra-long
spurs you could throw in on the deal, have you?' Yes, sir; there's
mighty few real rough-riders among the royal sports these days."
As soon as Lucullus Polk got cool enough I picked him up, and with no
greater effort than you would employ in persuading a drowning man to
clutch a straw, I inveigled him into accompanying me to a cool corner
in a dim cafe.
And it came to pass that man-servants set before us brewage; and
Lucullus Polk spake unto me, relating the wherefores of his
beleaguering the antechambers of the princes of the earth.
"Did you ever hear of the S.A. & A.P. Railroad in Texas? Well, that
don't stand for Samaritan Actor's Aid Philanthropy. I was down that
way managing a summer bunch of the gum and syntax-chewers that play
the Idlewild Parks in the Western hamlets. Of course, we went to
pieces when the soubrette ran away with a prominent barber of
Beeville. I don't know what became of the rest of the company. I
believe there were some salaries due; and the last I saw of the troupe
was when I told them that forty-three cents was all the treasury
contained. I say I never saw any of them after that; but I heard them
for about twenty minutes. I didn't have time to look back. But after
dark I came out of the woods and struck the S.A. & A.P. agent for
means of transportation. He at once extended to me the courtesies of
the entire railroad, kindly warning me, however, not to get aboard any
of the rolling stock.
"About ten the next morning I steps off the ties into a village that
calls itself Atascosa City. I bought a thirty-cent breakfast and a
ten-cent cigar, and stood on the Main Street jingling the three
pennies in my pocket--dead broke. A man in Texas with only three cents
in his pocket is no better off than a man that has no money and owes
"One of luck's favourite tricks is to soak a man for his last dollar
so quick that he don't have time to look it. There I was in a swell
St. Louis tailor-made, blue-and-green plaid suit, and an eighteen-
carat sulphate-of-copper scarf-pin, with no hope in sight except the
two great Texas industries, the cotton fields and grading new
railroads. I never picked cotton, and I never cottoned to a pick, so
the outlook had ultramarine edges.
"All of a sudden, while I was standing on the edge of the wooden
sidewalk, down out of the sky falls two fine gold watches in the
middle of the street. One hits a chunk of mud and sticks. The other
falls hard and flies open, making a fine drizzle of little springs and
screws and wheels. I looks up for a balloon or an airship; but not
seeing any, I steps off the sidewalk to investigate.
"But I hear a couple of yells and see two men running up the street in
leather overalls and high-heeled boots and cartwheel hats. One man is
six or eight feet high, with open-plumbed joints and a heartbroken
cast of countenance. He picks up the watch that has stuck in the mud.
The other man, who is little, with pink hair and white eyes, goes for
the empty case, and says, 'I win.' Then the elevated pessimist goes
down under his leather leg-holsters and hands a handful of twenty-
dollar gold pieces to his albino friend. I don't know how much money
it was; it looked as big as an earthquake-relief fund to me.
"'I'll have this here case filled up with works,' says Shorty, 'and
throw you again for five hundred.'
"'I'm your company,' says the high man. 'I'll meet you at the Smoked
Dog Saloon an hour from now.'
"The little man hustles away with a kind of Swiss movement toward a
jewelry store. The heartbroken person stoops over and takes a
telescopic view of my haberdashery.
"'Them's a mighty slick outfit of habiliments you have got on, Mr.
Man,' says he. 'I'll bet a hoss you never acquired the right, title,
and interest in and to them clothes in Atascosa City.'
"'Why, no,' says I, being ready enough to exchange personalities with
this moneyed monument of melancholy. 'I had this suit tailored from a
special line of coatericks, vestures, and pantings in St. Louis. Would
you mind putting me sane,' says I, 'on this watch-throwing contest?
I've been used to seeing time-pieces treated with more politeness and
esteem--except women's watches, of course, which by nature they abuse
by cracking walnuts with 'em and having 'em taken showing in tintype
"'Me and George,' he explains, 'are up from the ranch, having a spell
of fun. Up to last month we owned four sections of watered grazing
down on the San Miguel. But along comes one of these oil prospectors
and begins to bore. He strikes a gusher that flows out twenty thousand
--or maybe it was twenty million--barrels of oil a day. And me and
George gets one hundred and fifty thousand dollars--seventy-five
thousand dollars apiece--for the land. So now and then we saddles up
and hits the breeze for Atascosa City for a few days of excitement and
damage. Here's a little bunch of the /dinero/ that I drawed out of the
bank this morning,' says he, and shows a roll of twenties and fifties
as big around as a sleeping-car pillow. The yellowbacks glowed like a
sunset on the gable end of John D.'s barn. My knees got weak, and I
sat down on the edge of the board sidewalk.
"'You must have knocked around a right smart,' goes on this oil
Grease-us. 'I shouldn't be surprised if you have saw towns more
livelier than what Atascosa City is. Sometimes it seems to me that
there ought to be some more ways of having a good time than there is
here, 'specially when you've got plenty of money and don't mind
"Then this Mother Cary's chick of the desert sits down by me and we
hold a conversationfest. It seems that he was money-poor. He'd lived
in ranch camps all his life; and he confessed to me that his supreme
idea of luxury was to ride into camp, tired out from a round-up, eat a
peck of Mexican beans, hobble his brains with a pint of raw whisky,
and go to sleep with his boots for a pillow. When this barge-load of
unexpected money came to him and his pink but perky partner, George,
and they hied themselves to this clump of outhouses called Atascosa
City, you know what happened to them. They had money to buy anything
they wanted; but they didn't know what to want. Their ideas of
spendthriftiness were limited to three--whisky, saddles, and gold
watches. If there was anything else in the world to throw away
fortunes on, they had never heard about it. So, when they wanted to
have a hot time, they'd ride into town and get a city directory and
stand in front of the principal saloon and call up the population
alphabetically for free drinks. Then they would order three or four
new California saddles from the storekeeper, and play crack-loo on the
sidewalk with twenty-dollar gold pieces. Betting who could throw his
gold watch the farthest was an inspiration of George's; but even that
was getting to be monotonous.
"Was I on to the opportunity? Listen.
"In thirty minutes I had dashed off a word picture of metropolitan
joys that made life in Atascosa City look as dull as a trip to Coney
Island with your own wife. In ten minutes more we shook hands on an
agreement that I was to act as his guide, interpreter and friend in
and to the aforesaid wassail and amenity. And Solomon Mills, which was
his name, was to pay all expenses for a month. At the end of that
time, if I had made good as director-general of the rowdy life, he was
to pay me one thousand dollars. And then, to clinch the bargain, we
called the roll of Atascosa City and put all of its citizens except
the ladies and minors under the table, except one man named Horace
Westervelt St. Clair. Just for that we bought a couple of hatfuls of
cheap silver watches and egged him out of town with 'em. We wound up
by dragging the harness-maker out of bed and setting him to work on
three new saddles; and then we went to sleep across the railroad track
at the depot, just to annoy the S.A. & A.P. Think of having seventy-
five thousand dollars and trying to avoid the disgrace of dying rich
in a town like that!
"The next day George, who was married or something, started back to
the ranch. Me and Solly, as I now called him, prepared to shake off
our moth balls and wing our way against the arc-lights of the joyous
and tuneful East.
"'No way-stops,' says I to Solly, 'except long enough to get you
barbered and haberdashed. This is no Texas feet shampetter,' says I,
'where you eat chili-concarne-con-huevos and then holler "Whoopee!"
across the plaza. We're now going against the real high life. We're
going to mingle with the set that carries a Spitz, wears spats, and
hits the ground in high spots.'
"Solly puts six thousand dollars in century bills in one pocket of his
brown ducks, and bills of lading for ten thousand dollars on Eastern
banks in another. Then I resume diplomatic relations with the S.A. &
A.P., and we hike in a northwesterly direction on our circuitous route
to the spice gardens of the Yankee Orient.
"We stopped in San Antonio long enough for Solly to buy some clothes,
and eight rounds of drinks for the guests and employees of the Menger
Hotel, and order four Mexican saddles with silver trimmings and white
Angora /suaderos/ to be shipped down to the ranch. From there we made
a big jump to St. Louis. We got there in time for dinner; and I put
our thumb-prints on the register of the most expensive hotel in the
"'Now,' says I to Solly, with a wink at myself, 'here's the first
dinner-station we've struck where we can get a real good plate of
beans.' And while he was up in his room trying to draw water out of
the gas-pipe, I got one finger in the buttonhole of the head waiter's
Tuxedo, drew him apart, inserted a two-dollar bill, and closed him up
"'Frankoyse,' says I, 'I have a pal here for dinner that's been
subsisting for years on cereals and short stogies. You see the chef
and order a dinner for us such as you serve to Dave Francis and the
general passenger agent of the Iron Mountain when they eat here. We've
got more than Bernhardt's tent full of money; and we want the nose-
bags crammed with all the Chief Deveries /de cuisine/. Object is no
expense. Now, show us.'
"At six o'clock me and Solly sat down to dinner. Spread! There's
nothing been seen like it since the Cambon snack. It was all served at
once. The chef called it /dinnay a la poker/. It's a famous thing
among the gormands of the West. The dinner comes in threes of a kind.
There was guinea-fowls, guinea-pigs, and Guinness's stout; roast veal,
mock turtle soup, and chicken pate; shad-roe, caviar, and tapioca;
canvas-back duck, canvas-back ham, and cotton-tail rabbit;
Philadelphia capon, fried snails, and sloe-gin--and so on, in threes.
The idea was that you eat nearly all you can of them, and then the
waiter takes away the discard and gives you pears to fill on.
"I was sure Solly would be tickled to death with these hands, after
the bobtail flushes he'd been eating on the ranch; and I was a little
anxious that he should, for I didn't remember his having honoured my
efforts with a smile since we left Atascosa City.
"We were in the main dining-room, and there was a fine-dressed crowd
there, all talking loud and enjoyable about the two St. Louis topics,
the water supply and the colour line. They mix the two subjects so
fast that strangers often think they are discussing water-colours; and
that has given the old town something of a rep as an art centre. And
over in the corner was a fine brass band playing; and now, thinks I,
Solly will become conscious of the spiritual oats of life nourishing
and exhilarating his system. But /nong, mong frang/.
"He gazed across the table at me. There was four square yards of it,
looking like the path of a cyclone that has wandered through a stock-
yard, a poultry-farm, a vegetable-garden, and an Irish linen mill.
Solly gets up and comes around to me.
"'Luke,' says he, 'I'm pretty hungry after our ride. I thought you
said they had some beans here. I'm going out and get something I can
eat. You can stay and monkey with this artificial layout of grub if
you want to.'
"'Wait a minute,' says I.
"I called the waiter, and slapped 'S. Mills' on the back of the check
for thirteen dollars and fifty cents.
"'What do you mean,' says I, 'by serving gentlemen with a lot of truck
only suitable for deck-hands on a Mississippi steamboat? We're going
out to get something decent to eat.'
"I walked up the street with the unhappy plainsman. He saw a saddle-
shop open, and some of the sadness faded from his eyes. We went in,
and he ordered and paid for two more saddles--one with a solid silver
horn and nails and ornaments and a six-inch border of rhinestones and
imitation rubies around the flaps. The other one had to have a gold-
mounted horn, quadruple-plated stirrups, and the leather inlaid with
silver beadwork wherever it would stand it. Eleven hundred dollars the
two cost him.
"Then he goes out and heads toward the river, following his nose. In a
little side street, where there was no street and no sidewalks and no
houses, he finds what he is looking for. We go into a shanty and sit
on high stools among stevedores and boatmen, and eat beans with tin
spoons. Yes, sir, beans--beans boiled with salt pork.
"'I kind of thought we'd strike some over this way,' says Solly.
"'Delightful,' says I, 'That stylish hotel grub may appeal to some;
but for me, give me the husky /table d'goat.'
"When we had succumbed to the beans I leads him out of the tarpaulin-
steam under a lamp post and pulls out a daily paper with the amusement
column folded out.
"'But now, what ho for a merry round of pleasure,' says I. 'Here's one
of Hall Caine's shows, and a stock-yard company in "Hamlet," and
skating at the Hollowhorn Rink, and Sarah Bernhardt, and the Shapely
Syrens Burlesque Company. I should think, now, that the Shapely--'
"But what does this healthy, wealthy, and wise man do but reach his
arms up to the second-story windows and gape noisily.
"'Reckon I'll be going to bed,' says he; 'it's about my time. St.
Louis is a kind of quiet place, ain't it?'
"'Oh, yes,' says I; 'ever since the railroads ran in here the town's
been practically ruined. And the building-and-loan associations and
the fair have about killed it. Guess we might as well go to bed. Wait
till you see Chicago, though. Shall we get tickets for the Big Breeze
"'Mought as well,' says Solly. 'I reckon all these towns are about
"Well, maybe the wise cicerone and personal conductor didn't fall hard
in Chicago! Loolooville-on-the-Lake is supposed to have one or two
things in it calculated to keep the rural visitor awake after the
curfew rings. But not for the grass-fed man of the pampas! I tried him
with theatres, rides in automobiles, sails on the lake, champagne
suppers, and all those little inventions that hold the simple life in
check; but in vain. Solly grew sadder day by day. And I got fearful
about my salary, and knew I must play my trump card. So I mentioned
New York to him, and informed him that these Western towns were no
more than gateways to the great walled city of the whirling dervishes.
"After I bought the tickets I missed Solly. I knew his habits by then;
so in a couple of hours I found him in a saddle-shop. They had some
new ideas there in the way of trees and girths that had strayed down
from the Canadian mounted police; and Solly was so interested that he
almost looked reconciled to live. He invested about nine hundred
dollars in there.
"At the depot I telegraphed a cigar-store man I knew in New York to
meet me at the Twenty-third Street ferry with a list of all the
saddle-stores in the city. I wanted to know where to look for Solly
when he got lost.
"Now I'll tell you what happened in New York. I says to myself:
'Friend Heherezade, you want to get busy and make Bagdad look pretty
to the sad sultan of the sour countenance, or it'll be the bowstring
for yours.' But I never had any doubt I could do it.
"I began with him like you'd feed a starving man. I showed him the
horse-cars on Broadway and the Staten Island ferry-boats. And then I
piled up the sensations on him, but always keeping a lot of warmer
ones up my sleeve.
"At the end of the third day he looked like a composite picture of
five thousand orphans too late to catch a picnic steamboat, and I was
wilting down a collar every two hours wondering how I could please him
and whether I was going to get my thou. He went to sleep looking at
the Brooklyn Bridge; he disregarded the sky-scrapers above the third
story; it took three ushers to wake him up at the liveliest vaudeville
"Once I thought I had him. I nailed a pair of cuffs on him one morning
before he was awake; and I dragged him that evening to the palm-cage
of one of the biggest hotels in the city--to see the Johnnies and the
Alice-sit-by-the-hours. They were out in numerous quantities, with the
fat of the land showing in their clothes. While we were looking them
over, Solly divested himself of a fearful, rusty kind of laugh--like
moving a folding bed with one roller broken. It was his first in two
weeks, and it gave me hope.
"'Right you are,' says I. 'They're a funny lot of post-cards, aren't
"'Oh, I wasn't thinking of them dudes and culls on the hoof,' says he.
'I was thinking of the time me and George put sheep-dip in Horsehead
Johnson's whisky. I wish I was back in Atascosa City,' says he.
"I felt a cold chill run down my back. 'Me to play and mate in one
move,' says I to myself.
"I made Solly promise to stay in the cafe for half an hour and I hiked
out in a cab to Lolabelle Delatour's flat on Forty-third Street. I
knew her well. She was a chorus-girl in a Broadway musical comedy.
"'Jane,' says I when I found her, 'I've got a friend from Texas here.
He's all right, but--well, he carries weight. I'd like to give him a
little whirl after the show this evening--bubbles, you know, and a
buzz out to a casino for the whitebait and pickled walnuts. Is it a
"'Can he sing?' asks Lolabelle.
"'You know,' says I, 'that I wouldn't take him away from home unless
his notes were good. He's got pots of money--bean-pots full of it.'
"'Bring him around after the second act,' says Lolabelle, 'and I'll
examine his credentials and securities.'
"So about ten o'clock that evening I led Solly to Miss Delatour's
dressing-room, and her maid let us in. In ten minutes in comes
Lolabelle, fresh from the stage, looking stunning in the costume she
wears when she steps from the ranks of the lady grenadiers and says to
the king, 'Welcome to our May-day revels.' And you can bet it wasn't
the way she spoke the lines that got her the part.
"As soon as Solly saw her he got up and walked straight out through
the stage entrance into the street. I followed him. Lolabelle wasn't
paying my salary. I wondered whether anybody was.
"'Luke,' says Solly, outside, 'that was an awful mistake. We must have
got into the lady's private room. I hope I'm gentleman enough to do
anything possible in the way of apologies. Do you reckon she'd ever
"'She may forget it,' says I. 'Of course it was a mistake. Let's go
find some beans.'
"That's the way it went. But pretty soon afterward Solly failed to
show up at dinner-time for several days. I cornered him. He confessed
that he had found a restaurant on Third Avenue where they cooked beans
in Texas style. I made him take me there. The minute I set foot inside
the door I threw up my hands.
"There was a young woman at the desk, and Solly introduced me to her.
And then we sat down and had beans.
"Yes, sir, sitting at the desk was the kind of a young woman that can
catch any man in the world as easy as lifting a finger. There's a way
of doing it. She knew. I saw her working it. She was healthy-looking
and plain dressed. She had her hair drawn back from her forehead and
face--no curls or frizzes; that's the way she looked. Now I'll tell
you the way they work the game; it's simple. When she wants a man, she
manages it so that every time he looks at her he finds her looking at
him. That's all.
"The next evening Solly was to go to Coney Island with me at seven. At
eight o'clock he hadn't showed up. I went out and found a cab. I felt
sure there was something wrong.
"'Drive to the Back Home Restaurant on Third Avenue,' says I. 'And if
I don't find what I want there, take in these saddle-shops.' I handed
him the list.
"'Boss,' says the cabby, 'I et a steak in that restaurant once. If
you're real hungry, I advise you to try the saddle-shops first.'
"'I'm a detective,' says I, 'and I don't eat. Hurry up!'
"As soon as I got to the restaurant I felt in the lines of my palms
that I should beware of a tall, red, damfool man, and I was going to
lose a sum of money.
"Solly wasn't there. Neither was the smooth-haired lady.
"I waited; and in an hour they came in a cab and got out, hand in
hand. I asked Solly to step around the corner for a few words. He was
grinning clear across his face; but I had not administered the grin.
"'She's the greatest that ever sniffed the breeze,' says he.
"'Congrats,' says I. 'I'd like to have my thousand now, if you
"'Well, Luke,' says he, 'I don't know that I've had such a skyhoodlin'
fine time under your tutelage and dispensation. But I'll do the best I
can for you--I'll do the best I can,' he repeats. 'Me and Miss Skinner
was married an hour ago. We're leaving for Texas in the morning.'
"'Great!' says I. 'Consider yourself covered with rice and Congress
gaiters. But don't let's tie so many satin bows on our business
relations that we lose sight of 'em. How about my honorarium?'
"'Missis Mills,' says he, 'has taken possession of my money and papers
except six bits. I told her what I'd agreed to give you; but she says
it's an irreligious and illegal contract, and she won't pay a cent of
it. But I ain't going to see you treated unfair,' says he. 'I've got
eighty-seven saddles on the ranch what I've bought on this trip; and
when I get back I'm going to pick out the best six in the lot and send
'em to you.'"
"And did he?" I asked, when Lucullus ceased talking.
"He did. And they are fit for kings to ride on. The six he sent me
must have cost him three thousand dollars. But where is the market for
'em? Who would buy one except one of these rajahs and princes of Asia
and Africa? I've got 'em all on the list. I know every tan royal dub
and smoked princerino from Mindanao to the Caspian Sea."
"It's a long time between customers," I ventured.
"They're coming faster," said Polk. "Nowadays, when one of the
murdering mutts gets civilised enough to abolish suttee and quit using
his whiskers for a napkin, he calls himself the Roosevelt of the East,
and comes over to investigate our Chautauquas and cocktails. I'll
place 'em all yet. Now look here."
From an inside pocket he drew a tightly folded newspaper with much-
worn edges, and indicated a paragraph.
"Read that," said the saddler to royalty. The paragraph ran thus:
His Highness Seyyid Feysal bin Turkee, Imam of Muskat, is one of
the most progressive and enlightened rulers of the Old World. His
stables contain more than a thousand horses of the purest Persian
breeds. It is said that this powerful prince contemplates a visit
to the United States at an early date.
"There!" said Mr. Polk triumphantly. "My best saddle is as good as
sold--the one with turquoises set in the rim of the cantle. Have you
three dollars that you could loan me for a short time?"
It happened that I had; and I did.
If this should meet the eye of the Imam of Muskat, may it quicken his
whim to visit the land of the free! Otherwise I fear that I shall be
longer than a short time separated from my dollars three.