O'henry — the chair of philanthromathematics
THE CHAIR OF PHILANTHROMATHEMATICS
"I see that the cause of Education has received the princely gift of
more than fifty millions of dollars," said I.
I was gleaning the stray items from the evening papers while Jeff
Peters packed his briar pipe with plug cut.
"Which same," said Jeff, "calls for a new deck, and a recitation by
the entire class in philanthromathematics."
"Is that an allusion?" I asked.
"It is," said Jeff. "I never told you about the time when me and Andy
Tucker was philanthropists, did I? It was eight years ago in Arizona.
Andy and me was out in the Gila mountains with a two-horse wagon
prospecting for silver. We struck it, and sold out to parties in
Tucson for $25,000. They paid our check at the bank in silver — a
thousand dollars in a sack. We loaded it in our wagon and drove
east a hundred miles before we recovered our presence of intellect.
Twenty-five thousand dollars doesn't sound like so much when you're
reading the annual report of the Pennsylvania Railroad or listening to
an actor talking about his salary; but when you can raise up a wagon
sheet and kick around your bootheel and hear every one of 'em ring
against another it makes you feel like you was a night-and-day bank
with the clock striking twelve.
"The third day out we drove into one of the most specious and tidy
little towns that Nature or Rand and McNally ever turned out. It was
in the foothills, and mitigated with trees and flowers and about 2,000
head of cordial and dilatory inhabitants. The town seemed to be called
Floresville, and Nature had not contaminated it with many railroads,
fleas or Eastern tourists.
"Me and Andy deposited our money to the credit of Peters and Tucker in
the Esperanza Savings Bank, and got rooms at the Skyview Hotel. After
supper we lit up, and sat out on the gallery and smoked. Then was
when the philanthropy idea struck me. I suppose every grafter gets it
"When a man swindles the public out of a certain amount he begins to
get scared and wants to return part of it. And if you'll watch close
and notice the way his charity runs you'll see that he tries to
restore it to the same people he got it from. As a hydrostatical case,
take, let's say, A. A made his millions selling oil to poor students
who sit up nights studying political economy and methods for
regulating the trusts. So, back to the universities and colleges goes
his conscience dollars.
"There's B got his from the common laboring man that works with his
hands and tools. How's he to get some of the remorse fund back into
"'Aha!' says B, 'I'll do it in the name of Education. I've skinned the
laboring man,' says he to himself, 'but, according to the old proverb,
"Charity covers a multitude of skins."'
"So he puts up eighty million dollars' worth of libraries; and the
boys with the dinner pail that builds 'em gets the benefit.
"'Where's the books?' asks the reading public.
"'I dinna ken,' says B. 'I offered ye libraries; and there they are. I
suppose if I'd given ye preferred steel trust stock instead ye'd have
wanted the water in it set out in cut glass decanters. Hoot, for ye!'
"But, as I said, the owning of so much money was beginning to give me
philanthropitis. It was the first time me and Andy had ever made a
pile big enough to make us stop and think how we got it.
"'Andy,' says I, 'we're wealthy — not beyond the dreams of average; but
in our humble way we are comparatively as rich as Greasers. I feel as