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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Isaac Kahn Friedman (1870–1931)

A Beggar’s Strategy

From “Autobiography of a Beggar”

“MEH an’ Foxy,” said Jake the Beggar “(I see Foxy ain’t here to-night), worked a racket dat was all right fer Foxy, but what didn’t go at all fer meh. Him an’ meh started out ter-day an’ he axes meh what I has on.

“‘No scheme at all,’ answers I; ‘meh brain is givin’ out. I’m gettin’ old.’

“‘Well,’ puts in Foxy, ‘I got a scheme, but not having tried it, I ain’t sure dat it’ll work. Did you ever try the sympathy game, Jake?’ he axes.

“‘Dere ain’t no game what I ain’t played,’ says I, ‘sympathy game an’ all.’

“‘Dis is a new sympathy game,’ answered he, ‘an’ I’m sure dat no one has played it. Yer see, Jake, it goes like dis: yer fixes yerself fer de lame man an’ I fixes meself fer de blind man.’

“‘Hold on, Foxy,’ says I, ‘dat’s old; dat was done before any man on de earth was ever blind er lame.’

“‘Give a feller a chance,’ snaps Foxy; ‘let me finish. Here’s de new part: I stands on de corner wid meh hat in meh hand, an’ yer hobbles up ter meh, an’ yer looks sorry fer meh. Den yer drops a dime in meh hat. Den a whole crowd of people’ll say, “Did yer see dat beggar give de other beggar a dime? How deservin’ he must be.” Den dey all stops an’ drops a dime in meh hat. Some ef ’em more an’ some less.’

“‘Dat’s a very fine game fer yerself, Foxy,’ says I, ‘a very fine game fer ter work meh fer a dime.’

“‘Not at all,’ answers he; ‘ef it don’t work, I gives yer de dime back, an’ ef it do work—why, we divides.’

“‘Ef it’s sech a fine scheme,’ answers I, ‘yer kin give meh a dime an’ I’ll drop de same dime in yer hat.’

“An’ Foxy smiles an’ he says, ‘I knows yer, Jake; yer ain’t honest; yer’d run away wid de dime.’

“‘Both of us would be takin’ de same chanct, Foxy,’ answers I. ‘Yer kin give meh de dime and I’ll put it in.’

“‘All right, Jake,’ says he, ‘but I’m sorry yer so sispicious.’ An’ he fishes thru all his pockets an’ turns ’em inside out, an’ he shakes his head.

“‘Yer see how it is, Jake; I’m willin’ ter trust yer, but I ain’t got de dime. I’m busted,’ says he.

“‘All right, Foxy,’ says I, ‘I’ll risk de dime on yer, but ef yer don’t do de square thing by meh I’ll git even.’

“So meh an’ Foxy walks on, an’ Foxy watches sharp, an’ when he sees de right corner, he stands still an’ he takes orff his hat, an’ he begins ter sing a song de like ef which I never heerd afore. He must have made it up ez he went along; it sounded like Chinee ter meh. But whether de song was Chinee er Japanee, it done de work. Yer never seen sech a crowd.

“An’ I takes off me hat an’ I hobbles thru de crowd, an’ I begs an’ I don’t get a red. Den I fishes a dime out ef meh pocket an’ drops de dime inter Foxy’s hat, a-sayin’ ter mehself, ‘Good-by, dime; meh an’ you’ll never see each other ag’in.’ Den de crowd loosens up. Yer’d ’a’ thought it was a-rainin’ silver. I never seen sich an invistment fer a dime in all meh born days. In five minutes his hat was dat full I t’ought it’d break.

“Foxy puts de coin in his pocket an’ walks away, an’ I follers. When we gets to de alley I axes how much it was.

“‘Ten dollars an’ eleven cents,’ says he.

“‘Den yer kin give meh five dollars an’ five cents an’ keep de extree cent fer yerself,’ says I.

“An’ Foxy grins an’ I knows something is a-comin’.

“‘Jake,’ axes he, ‘de dime what yer put in meh hat had a hole in it, eh?’

“‘Yes,’ answers I quick, afore I t’ought ef it had a hole in it er not.

“‘Yer a rogue,’ shouts he; ‘I knowed yer didn’t put a dime in meh hat. Der was no dime wid a hole in it.’

“‘Come to think on it,’ says I perlitely, ‘de dime I put in didn’t have a hole in it.’

“‘Jake,’ axes he, ‘which is a lie, de first er de second, er both?’

“I reaches out an’ I grabs him by de t’roat. ‘Look here,’ I yells, ‘two lies er no lies, are yer goin’ ter do de square thing by me?’

“An’ Foxy, seein’ I means business, he agrees ter divvy, an’ I don’t let meh hand orff his throat till he does. An’ when he gives meh de coin, I hands him a punch, an’ Foxy yells. An’ I turns ter go out of de alley when Foxy bawls:

“‘Say, Jake, I didn’t do de square thing an’ I’m ashamed ef mehself. Now, Jake, yer an’ meh kin work de same racket over ag’in. I’ll play lame man an’ yer kin play blind man, an’ sing an’ hold de hat.’

“‘All right, Foxy,’ says I; ‘here’s me hand on it.’

“So meh an’ him starts fer a new corner, an’ when us hits on one, I takes orff meh hat an’ I shuts meh eyes ter play blind man an’ sings fer all I’m worth. It didn’t take long fer de crowd to come, an’ Foxy hobbles up ter meh thru de big crowd an’ he stops in front ef meh an’ looks inter meh hat an’ he grins. Den he hobbles away, not droppin’ de dime in. ‘Yer a long time a-spendin’ dat dime,’ I was a-goin’ ter yell out, but dasn’t.

“Den he hobbles around meh ag’in an’ I was a-reachin’ out ter land a long kick on his shins when he yells out:

“‘Look out, Jake; de cop is comin’.’

“Like a fool I opens meh eyes an’ looks around, an’ de crowd laffs an’ howls, an’ I sneaks away. An’ if I catches Foxy I’ll make him a bracelet out ef meh ten fingers fer his neck.”

“Dat reminds meh,” vociferated Loony Louis, “ef——”

“Save yer remimberences fer another time,” frowned Mr. Quinn; “the clock has struck twelve, an’ it’s time fer honest people ter be in bed.”