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Knott Gold (chapter1)

2006-08-28 21:29

    Knott Gold

    Chapter I. —— Wanted, a Pony

    Algernon de Montgomery Smythers was a merchant, wealthy beyond the dreams of avarice. Other merchants might dress more lavishly, and wear larger watch chains; but the bank balance is the true test of mercantile superiority, and in a trial of bank balances Algernon de Montgomery Smythers represented Tyson at seven stone. He was unbeatable.

    He lived in comfort, not to say luxury. He had champagne for breakfast every morning, and his wife always slept with a pair of diamond earrings worth a small fortune in her ears. It is things like these that show true gentility.

    Though they had been married many years, the A. de M. Smythers had but one child —— a son and heir. No Christmas Day was allowed to pass by his doting parents without a gift to young Algy of some trifle worth about  pounds, less the discount for cash. He had six play-rooms, all filled with the most expensive toys and ingenious mechanical devices. He had a phonograph that could hail a ship out at the South Head, and a mechanical parrot that sang "The Wearing of the Green". And still he was not happy.

    Sometimes, in spite of the vigilance of his four nurses and six under-nurses, he would escape into the street, and run about with the little boys he met there. One day he gave one of them a sovereign for a locust. Certainly the locust was a "double-drummer", and could deafen the German Band when shaken up judiciously; still, it was dear at a sovereign.

    It is ever thus.

    What we have we do not value, and what other people have we are not strong enough to take from them.

    Such is life. Christmas was approaching, and the question of Algy's Christmas present agitated the bosom of his parents. He already had nearly everything a child could want; but one morning a bright inspiration struck Algy's father. Algy should have a pony.

    With Mr. Smythers to think was to act. He was not a man who believed in allowing grass to grow under his feet. His motto was, "Up and be doing —— somebody." So he put an advertisement in the paper that same day.

    "Wanted, a boy's pony. Must be guaranteed sound, strong, handsome, intelligent. Used to trains, trams, motors, fire engines, and motor 'buses. Any failure in above respects will disqualify. Certificate of birth required as well as references from last place. Price no object."

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