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The tooth paste that took a tip
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AJOR DE ALEGRE, gay young Mexican soldier of fortune, came moping into the hotel lobby and, sinking loosely into the chair beside me, said: “I-know now what's the matter with me.” He said it so sadly that I thought maybe he did, and I laid away my paper, prepared to be touched by the story I knew he had to tell. “I’ve got a white streak.” Intending this statement to be incomplete and stimulating, he waited for my attention to become fixed, then he explained: “Most peoplc have a yellow streak. They are white, and they want to be all white, but there's a trace of yellow in them some
quaintance with other men who are white but are troubled by a yellow streak. Well, I am just the opposite. I'm yellow, but I’ve got a white streak. And my white streak turns up every once in a while, and it gives me as much trouble as that yellow streak gives your friends who think they are white.” We were silent a second, watching the last American leave the cool lobby for the hot street. The first to go had gone immediately, rather pointedly, upon the major's arrival. The rest had been slipping out one by one while the major was talking to me. I knew why. The major had an artful way of borrowing money from us foreigners. He wasn’t a beggar; one can refuse a beggar. Neither was he a confidence man; no one put any confidence in De Alegre. And he wasn't a common grafter; a common grafter doesn't always get what he is after. The major did. You might be onto his game. Indeed his method was to put you on. He would tell you what he proposed to do to you; just how much he intended to work you for; and, worst of all, he warned you that he despised “the suckers he grafted off'n.” It was humiliating. You, being put wise, were in a position to beat him at his game, and, having all your pride aroused, you'd mean to. You would decide to turn him down hard this time, and yet— I think I was the only American that was a match for him. I contributed, but I made him work for all he got—not because I was yellow, but only to keep his respect. I am not sure I succeeded in this. I don't know to this day whether . he appreciated or laughed in his sleeve at my low finance. All I am sure of is that he said he took his hat off to me and that he jeered at the other gringoes, and with cause. The revolution was on; mines were closed down; concessions were reopened; there were no grafts going; labor was in the armies; business was at a standstill. The foreigners in Mexico City could not afford to support this little Mexican rascal in his happy life of idleness, extravagance, and vice in the way they had. “See?” he said, pointing contemptuously at the last of my fellow countrymen to go. “That gringo—all those other Americans: they think they are white, but they slide out of here
on their yellow streaks, every one of 'em. Why?
Americans!” I laughed. He didn't. “But you,” he purred, “you aren't afraid of me. You're white all through. When I come to you now and tell you I'm going to rob you of twenty pesos, and that I’ll despise you if you let me do it, you face me down like a brave, honest gringo, and you— well, you only lend me five—a measly five pesos!” “Now, major,” I protested, “be fair. You don't rob me; I rob you. I don't lend you anything, and you know it.” “No, you give—” “No, and I don’t give,” I insisted. “I pay. I pay for the story you tell, and I pay you only when the story is worth paying for. You have kicked because the price I pay you is only about 1 per cent of what I get for that story of yours.” “That's true,” he agreed grudgingly. “You are a real grafter. All you do is write it, and I, the real author—” “You do all the work,” I helped. “You live the experiences, run the risks, suffer the tragedy and the comedy of it all; if there is invention, it is yours; and you even cast it into the form of fiction for me, and I get one hundred times as much for it as you do.”
E looked up at me now with respect. I think it was respect. For, according to his own Latin philosophy, he felt respect always in the presence of exploiters who knew they were exploiters. It wasn't enough with him to be a grafter; you must know it. His contempt for those of us who fool ourselves into the belief that we are the honest pro
ducers of the wealth we get was almost as joyful,
genuine, and involuntary as the pitiless pity he heaped upon the great mass of us, the unconsciously exploited majority. “All right, major,” I closed. “You have come here to-day to sell me a story. Your introduction is promising, and your price is cheap. You ask twenty pesos, but you think it isn’t worth that, so you’re willing to take five. Is that right?” I asked.
He didn't answer, but the expression on his expressive little face, the expression I hoped was respect, deepened, and I sank it deeper still. Taking out four five-peso bills, I spread them like cards in my left hand, which was on the far side from him; and I pointed at them with my right.
“I will pay you five, ten, fifteen, or twenty
pesos according as your story is worth five hundred, one thousand, fifteen hundred, or two thousand pesos.” Which was fair, since a peso at that moment was worth four cents, gold. “Good,” he chuckled, “and your yellow intention is to cut it down to a me a sly five.” This was not true, but I was very glad to have him think so. “It is my white intention,” I said, “to hear a good story or—” He laughed. He loved three things: money, a narrative, and a game; and all three were in sight now. With one eye on the money, the other on the game, he gave a funny little characteristic jump in his chair, and began the narrative:
“TT was at the time when Carranza was driven out of Mexico City here by Villa and Zapata. I was a Carranzista. Believing Villa was winning, I was tempted to stay and join him. But there were some traitors with Villa who knew me. I was scared to risk it and stay, so I decided to follow my white streak and be loyal and true to my old jefe, Carranza. And so I had to skip when he retreated to Vera Cruz, him and his army and his money. I had charge of the money.” I withdrew with my right hand a five-peso bill from my left, and the artist in him understood. He hastened to make his story possible of belief. “I wasn't given charge,” he corrected. “An honest man was assigned to the custody of the money. You know him, by the way: Salteras; Colonel Juan Modesto Salteras. He had been assigned to the job of getting that money away. I got it by accident.” He was watching the bill in my right hand. I kept it there. “By a trick,” he bid, but I held on, reminding him that, though the plot of a story is the main thing, character must not be neglected. “All right,” he surrendered, “say a “dirty trick.’ It was by a dirty trick that I got the custody of the treasury of Mexico.” I restored the bill, and he threw up his hands and kicked up his feet gleefully. “I was running,” he continued, “everybody was running, when I passed the Palace and saw Salteras and a bunch of soldiers come out to an automobile. They were carrying bags, a lot of little fat bags, as plump as girls. And one busted. It dropped on the curb and spilled—gold, yellow, sparkling, coined gold, bright and challenging like the eyes of girls. Gee! No wonder those sordid soldiers fell upon it and, while Salteras swore at them, groveled on their bellies to gather it up, coin by coin. I could hardly hold myself back, for every coin was a dance and a-dinner, a bottle and a-a-joy. But I waited in the doorway, watched them collect it all—all, the pigs!—and dump it into the box under the back seat of the auto. Yes, they just dumped it there. And I saw it. Thirty thousand dollars—gold. Gee—” He paused to recall the image of the money, and I let him enjoy it a moment. Then I moved to transfer a bill from his side to mine, because, of course, an interrupted narrative isn't as valuable as one that is straightaway. He stayed my right hand and hastened on. “I waited,” he said. “I backed deeper into the doorway to size up the situation. The soldiers were all sober. I didn't see what I could do. Neither did Salteras see what he could do. And he was in doubt about something. He was anxious, nervous; he kept looking around the square. I grasped the
fact that he was a comrade in need, so I stepped forth and went to his aid. “‘Colonel,' I says, saluting, “can I be of any service to you?” “He stared at me, mute a moment. It was a funny sort of fixed, mixed look he gave me, half glad, half scared, and then he turned it, like a searchlight, on the square. I read his honest mind. He was looking for somebody he could trust, and there wasn't nobody in sight; nobody but me. He turned back to me. “Y-e-s-s!” he said, slow. “I need a chaufféur. You can run a car, can't you?” “‘You bet I can ' I says, with a jump, and it was a mistake, that jump. Too quick, too eager, too honest. It made him suspicious. He looked around again for some other chauffeur, so I corrected myself. I suggested a convincing motive for my eagerness. “Oh!” I almost cried. “I must get away, colonel, and this is my only chance.” “That worked. He thought maybe I was in a panic and hadn’t seen the money, but he wasn't sure, and, to sound me, he said: “But this is important, major. This car has to get to Vera Cruz. It carries something valuable.” “‘Yes?' I said, innocent. “What is it?” “‘Documents,’ he says, “state papers,’ and he didn't lie. There was some papers, only I forgot to tell you about 'em. “‘Colonel,” says I, rising to my whole heroic height, “if there are papers in that car that concern the honor of my country, and I am at the wheel, that car will get there.” “‘Jump in l’ he commanded, swallowing the bunk like an honest patriot. I leaped to the wheel, he into the back seat, the soldiers up on the running boards, and we started. “To the railroad yards,” he said, and as we speeded through the swarming streets he told me his plan: to put the auto on a flat car which was ordered for one of Carranza’s own troop trains. Fine! But when we flashed into the yard the jefe's trains were gone and there was no flat car. The mix-up was fierce. He tore off
to see what he could do, came flying back to say
there wasn't a free car in sight: all loaded, and he thought we might have to run down the line to get a car off an uptrain. An idea popped into my head, a plan for me: to get off down the line, alone, away from Salteras. And he opened up the chance. He said he'd have to go to the station to get orders and arrange things. “You stay here,' he says.
“‘How long’ll you be?” I asked him, panic-like.
““Fifteen minutes,’ he said, and I promised to wait fifteen minutes. He didn't hear me say it all. He was off before I finished, but he said fifteen minutes, didn't he? Well, I didn't have my watch. Left it at my hotel—”
REMONSTRATED. “Too much detail,” I said, and I took five pesos from his side. He protested bitterly. “I have to account for Salteras's betrayal of trust, don't I? You say a story has to make motives plain, and there was Salteras, an honest man, and onto me. I have to show that he was in duty bound to deliver that money safe to Vera Cruz; that he knew I could do it; and that he knew I wouldn’t do it if I could get away with it, and so I am explaining to you that he meant to take it himself, but that he almost told me to go on without him—almost. He didn't hear me, but I did say—you heard me say—that I’d go on myself in fifteen minutes if he wasn't back in that time.” I deducted five pesos more, explaining that explanations also hurt the market price of a story. He gave me a look of genuine admiration. “You really are one, ain't you?” he exclaimed. “One what?” I demanded. “You know,” he answered, “an exploiter of us poor.” A bit ashamed, I put back one bill, and was sorry, because he jeered. “Having no watch,” he laughed, “I had no way of measuring fifteen minutes, so at the end of five I yelled to the guard to get back on the running boards, and I was off. I shot out of that yard, down the street, and through the town. And—and that’s how I gave Salteras the slip and came into possession of thirty thousand dollars, gold. You understand? - Gold!” The major's face was radiant with golden joy. “It was my chance, you see?” he said. “You know how I have grieved always that I was only a petty grafter, and how I have yearned with all my yellow soul to be a big grafter like you Americans here in Mexico—” I moved my right hand.
“NTO, no,” he pleaded. “I will hurry. I did that day. I flew out of town, down what were called roads, out across the valley, over the hills, into the desert, past the pyramids, on the run, leaving foot troops and cavalry, wagons and carriages— leaving even the other automobiles behind. They all were skurrying; it was a mad retreat, but— mine was a good car, picked out carefully beforehand and confiscated from an American on purpose to get that money away. And it was a bird. And it flew. And I was a bird too. I was thinking how I could live in New York on thirty thousand dollars, gold. Live? Why— “We passed many stations and trains: two, three, four trains passed us, all loaded with the army, the Government, the guns, the girls, the-everything. I might have got my car aboard one of 'em, but only by telling what I carried, and that was not my plan. I kept on and on till, toward evening, I struck a siding where there was a flat car and an engine— one lone car and a locomotive. “Luck? I should say it was luck. There was an officer in charge, a kid captain, and a squad; and they had orders to guard that engine. It had broken down, and the engineer was fixing it. “I took command. I know how to do that all right. I told the little captain that I would take that engine and car, and I told the dirty engineer to get a move on his unclean carcass; and I told his filthy squad, and my squad, to rip planks off the car and run my auto up onto it. When I had them all at work, and duly scared, I asked the engineer what was the matter with his blankety-blank engine, and when he explained, and I didn't understand, I says: “Never mind that. You fix it up temporary and hook it onto that car, and—” “The labor problem is one conundrum which I haven’t yet found the answer to. The worse I treat working men the worse they act. I don't understand it. The engineer pulled his oily head out from under that locomotive, and he gave me the once-over, on the level, like an equal, almost, and he says, quiet like, he says: “This machine will not be safe until I have done what I am doing.” He meant it; he meant more. I got that all right. And if the little captain and all the soldiers of both those squads hadn’t been rubbering, I’d have changed my tune and avoided a strike. But I had to maintain discipline, didn't I? Sure. So I gave that impudent engineer what was coming to him; said I wasn’t playing safe that day; and he—he was some man too, you bet. He looked me up and down, noted well my hand on my gun—he shrugged his shoulders, got back into the cab, and said something to his fireman. They had been keeping up steam, and they soon had her smoking. He backed down, we hooked up to the car, and all was ready. “Then the engineer and the fireman skipped. I didn't see 'em go. They got down the other side from me, and they were out of range up the track when I went to tell 'em to go ahead. “I was weak 'way inside, but I didn't let on. I
“Toward evening, I struck a siding where there was a flat car and an engine.
put on the “cool and calm.’ I saw that the auto was made fast on the flat car; ordered half the squad to stand by, to hold her on curves; distributed the rest of 'em over the tender, boiler, and cowcatcher for looks, and I picked two for stokers. The captain I took with me into the cab, and since he didn't know how to run a locomotive, and I didn't either, I run her. “First I pulled one thing, then another, then two at a time, and—I don't know just what it was that did the trick, but I do know that all of a sudden that engine reared up like a broncho, kicked at the flat car, tried to buck us off, and when the car hung on, and we all hung on, it jumped and ran. And it ran and jumped. I thought it was mad. For— my, oh, my, how it did go, and us with it! I believe, if I’d been alone, I'd 'a' slid off, but I was in command; all eyes were on me, and—you know how, when everybody is looking up at you, how you can rise up fit to be looked at. I love that feeling of being looked at, don't you? ! §. “Bravely, steadily, with all the front of a highpriced hero, I ordered the soldiers to throw on the wood and keep her aboiling, while I, with one hand on the throttle and the other on—on something else that was nailed tight—I swept with my eagle eye, first, the road ahead, then my troops, and then the road ahead again. “That road ahead kept coming at us, and kept changing, and the engine kept rushing to meet it, and, say, I admit—it may hurt the interest and the hero, but I admit—that I'd 'a' slowed her down if I had known how and wasn’t so proud. “I ought to have done it, just to experiment, because, you see, there might have been a train or something ahead. But I was afraid she'd get mad if I did, and balk or back, and I was afraid that my troops, and especially the kid captain, would tumble to how scared I was and get, scared themselves. “I held on to myself and I held on to that engine, and I let her go, too. I abused the stokers; I was the acme, I think you say, of recklessness, but yet I watched. How I did watch out ahead, and behind; I watched every way and everybody and everything, like a great general does in a great scene.”
E stopped talking. He had been watching the last five-peso bill which I had deducted from the twenty, and he asked me now why I didn't put it back. “A situation like that I’m giving you,” he said— “that must make up for the interruption before, and—” “It would have done so,” I explained, “if you had kept on with it, but this second interruption—” “You’re great!” he exclaimed, and the expression on his face showed that he meant it. “You’d rob—” A flutter of the money halted the insult, but not his sporting spirit. “I’ll bet,” he challenged, “I bet you five pesos that I make you pay me the whole twenty.” “Take you,” I said, and I deducted five more for the further digression. He gasped, but he laughed; and he got back into the locomotive. “Well, anyhow, I was in control that day,” he continued. “I could see that I was by the admiring, cowardly looks my craven crew gave me, and the road ahead. It had some curves, that road. But mostly it had corners, and that engine, seeing them laying for us, would lay for them; she would lay over on her side and just tear around 'em and
then stand up straight again, straight and proud. It was beautiful. I began to like it. I began to get that feeling they say an engineer has of being one with his machine. I loved that big, live locomotive. “I wondered what it was that was broke; that the other engineer said had to be fixed. We never found that out. I forgot it most of the time, but it adds to the value of the situation. And it certainly wasn't the spirit of the machine. That was as high and mighty and unbroken as-as my own. I yanked that throttle and—we poured Mexico out from under us like the way you Americans pour out your wealth. “Chuck in the wood,” I says to the soldiers on that job, and I called 'em in Spanish all the names I would like to call—“Chuck it in,’ I yelled when they looked scared at the furnace. And that furnace was on fire all right. It looked like Hades to me, but I didn't care. I was in the spirit of it by that time, and I wouldn't listen to something they was trying to say, till by and by they got the captain to tell me: the fuel was almost gone! “And it was. I took one look at that tender and— the wood was about all in, or out. Now that was a crisis, wasn't it? A solution of that emergency, quick, would be worth five pesos, wouldn't it?” I nodded. “Sure,” he laughed. “Sure,” he sang. “‘Sure, I says to the fireman. “Chuck it all in,' I says, “all of it. And now,' I yelled, “pull down the cab over my head, and—burn it up.’” I put a bill back on his side, and he laughed. “Sure,” he laughed. (Continued on page 28)
Luck? I should say it was luck”
The man who shouts for his mail the first thing in the morning and jumps in to “clean it up” is giving over the direction of his day's work to the folks who write to him
The Cigar and
WAS riding a little while ago in the smoking compartment on a train from Chicago to Washington, talking about business with several men of rather large interests, when a rosy young man whom I knew but slightly—I think he was an architect–shoved his head through the door opening and, seeing me, blurted: “Hello, Hurley; I hear you have just been appointed to something. What is it, anyway?” His manner nettled me a little—he was a few years late on my appointment at that—and then, too, he had interrupted a decidedly interesting conversation. “Come in,” I motioned; “we are talking about something that you ought to know of.” “Shoot,” he said amiably. “My friends and myself,” I began solemnly, “have been going carefully into the statistics for some months past and we have reached the conclusion that the trouble with the country is to be found in the demonstrated fact that 90 per cent of Americans in executive positions have given up business for golf. Ten per cent are doing the business. We are on our way to Washington to get a law to force that 90 per cent back to work.” “You are a golfer—you going to do a crazy thing like that?” he exclaimed, and then, cowed by the grave and judicial eyes that we turned on him, pleaded to me: “Don’t you know that I should have been dead years ago if it hadn't been for my golf?”
Harriman's Unfortunate Remark
HE careful Japanese historian who, a dozen cen
turies hence, takes up the writing of “Ancient
American History” will undoubtedly, in the course of outlining our odd commercial life, give a chapter to “The Age of Golf.” He will say that evidences are found that golf was first intended to be a game, or a way to get exercise now and then. He will tell how it grew from a game into a daily habit, and from that into something which approached a religion. He will tell how among the effects of every well-to-do household uncovered by the spade appeared many little square cards bearing mystic numbers that never added to a figure exceeding 95. He will relate how it was discovered that these cards were famous scores made by the householder in a peculiar game called golf and that skill in this game apparently transcended wealth and virtue—although he may note that the cards giving the lowest totals were seldom to be found in the ruins of the largest houses.
By Edward N. Hurley
Illustrated by H. M. Stoops.
Getting ready isn't going. You have to start—and keep moving. According to a man who knows him well, Edward N. Hurley learned all that back in 1887. Then he wore overalls and drove No. 18 on the C. B. & Q. R. R. Speaking of railroads, Hurley's friend says that Mayor Gaynor's phrase "a steam engine in boots” is made to order for Mr. Hurley. He still holds his membership card in the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers. It was in his pocket when he drove through or over obstacles in ten years on the road as a traveling salesman. He kept getting things done. That's why he was president of the Emergency Fleet Corporation and chairman of the United States Shipping Board, and that's why he is president of the large machine company that bears his name. In this article he says some things about the business man who is long on efficiency and organization, but short on getting things done
And he will go on to expound how many,
men of the nation gradually gave up all other affairs for this game. He will trace how suburban gardens were laid waste in order that land might be had on which to play, since even the broadest acres could provide room for only a hundred players. Drawing a moral, as historians must, he will show that in 1921 at least a million men spent the better part of several days every week tramping over the hills and dales of some five thousand courses, and that, while trade languished, they spent immense sums of money on these courses, some costing as much as a million dollars to construct. He would calculate that at last there was more money invested in golf than in all but the largest of the industries and that the greatest men in the Yankee nation gave their finest efforts to swatting golf balls. And thus, he would soliloquize, the nation grew old. And perhaps he would not be so far wrong, for if you investigate the habits of the American business man of to-day you will discover him: (1) playing golf, getting ready to play, or getting over playing; (2) at a conference looking to perfecting his own organiza
tion; (3) at a convention, on his way to one, or getting over one. This trinity of pastimes is inseparably joined; they exist together and for each other. Some years ago the late E. H. Harriman made a most unfortunate remark. He said something to the effect that he had sat and smoked while others built railroads for him. Harriman was a successful man; his name is a synonym for getting things done. And if sitting and smoking would do all that for him, why would it not do the same for others? Until he uttered those words, we had been going on rather well, most of us putting in ten hours or so a day in our offices—and the workmen, taking a look, fared forth and did likewise. Most of us had been convinced, entirely against our wishes, it is true, that to earn a good living took as much hard work as a day would hold, and that the man who could work longest was very apt to end up as the richest. When a man's affairs grew too large for complete personal attention he hired other men to help him. Eventually these men would take entire charge of the departments, and then the head man, instead of handling things, would handle men and they would handle things. We were all a kind of foremen or superintendents right on the job seeing that things were done. When we got a chance we played and, if we had enough money and also had a man who seemed able to run things, we retired and let that man manage. That was the condition before we heard of the marvelous efficiency of organization; if we thought of organization at all, it was organization not as an end in itself but as a means of getting things done in the best and quickest way.
Tell Us It Ain't True, Charlie
HOSE were what are now called the Dark Ages
of business—the days before Harriman spoke the
fatal words. He meant just what he said, but he neglected to say anything about his own hustling and directing. He also neglected to say that the sitting and smoking were, so to speak, incidental rather than fundamental to his policy, and that the men who built did not sit and smoke with him. But it is the cigar and chair idea that has caught the busy executive. Hence our modern organization. Charles M. Schwab also made a few remarks on this point; he said that one might have success or have a good time, but one could not have both. But to-day the alert young executive thinks Schwab was only