his weakness, and confessed it to himself with sorrow–he could
not keep the promise. Something surer and better must be devised;
and he devised it. At cost of precious money which he had long
been saving up, shilling by shilling, he put a lightning-rod on
At a subsequent time he relapsed.
What miracles habit can do! and how quickly and how easily habits
are acquired–both trifling habits and habits which profoundly change us.
If by accident we wake at two in the morning a couple of nights
in succession, we have need to be uneasy, for another repetition can
turn the accident into a habit; and a month’s dallying with whiskey–
but we all know these commonplace facts.
The castle-building habit, the day-dreaming habit–how it grows!
what a luxury it becomes; how we fly to its enchantments at every
idle moment, how we revel in them, steep our souls in them,
intoxicate ourselves with their beguiling fantasies–oh yes,
and how soon and how easily our dram life and our material life
become so intermingled and so fused together that we can’t quite
tell which is which, any more.
By and by Aleck subscribed to a Chicago daily and for the WALL
STREET POINTER. With an eye single to finance she studied these
as diligently all the week as she studied her Bible Sundays.
Sally was lost in admiration, to note with what swift and sure strides
her genius and judgment developed and expanded in the forecasting and
handling of the securities of both the material and spiritual markets.
He was proud of her nerve and daring in exploiting worldly stocks,
and just as proud of her conservative caution in working her
spiritual deals. He noted that she never lost her head in either case;
that with a splendid courage she often went short on worldly futures,
but heedfully drew the line there–she was always long on the others.
Her policy was quite sane and simple, as she explained it to him:
what she put into earthly futures was for speculation, what she put
into spiritual futures was for investment; she was willing to go into
the one on a margin, and take chances, but in the case of the other,
“margin her no margins”–she wanted to cash in a hundred cents per
dollar’s worth, and have the stock transferred on the books.
It took but a very few months to educate Aleck’s imagination
and Sally’s. Each day’s training added something to the spread
and effectiveness of the two machines. As a consequence, Aleck made
imaginary money much faster than at first she had dreamed of making it,
and Sally’s competency in spending the overflow of it kept pace with
the strain put upon it, right along. In the beginning, Aleck had
given the coal speculation a twelvemonth in which to materialize,
and had been loath to grant that this term might possibly be shortened
by nine months. But that was the feeble work, the nursery work,
of a financial fancy that had had no teaching, no experience,
no practice. These aids soon came, then that nine months vanished,
and the imaginary ten-thousand-dollar investment came marching
home with three hundred per cent. profit on its back!
It was a great day for the pair of Fosters. They were speechless
for joy. Also speechless for another reason: after much watching
of the market, Aleck had lately, with fear and trembling, made her
first flyer on a “margin,” using the remaining twenty thousand of
the bequest in this risk. In her mind’s eye she had seen it climb,
point by point–always with a chance that the market would break–
until at last her anxieties were too great for further endurance–
she being new to the margin business and unhardened, as yet–and she
gave her imaginary broker an imaginary order by imaginary telegraph
to sell. She said forty thousand dollars’ profit was enough.
The sale was made on the very day that the coal venture had returned
with its rich freight. As I have said, the couple were speechless.
they sat dazed and blissful that night, trying to realize that they were
actually worth a hundred thousand dollars in clean, imaginary cash.
Yet so it was.
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