A $5,000 Flea
( Originally Published 1916 )
I SEE by the papers that Alfred Charles de Rothschild of London is said, on the authority of Edmond Perrier of the French Institute, to have paid $5,000 for a specimen of a rare variety of flea—one of the kind which is occasionally found in the skin of the sea otter. The flea is to be added to Mr. de Rothschild's entomological collection.
The other day two postage stamps were sold in Paris for $1,000. They had been issued by some island country. Immediately afterward an earthquake swallowed up the place, and only these two of the whole issue of stamps happened to escape in the mail.
Every once in a while we hear of a millionaire dropping off and leaving a large heap of junk. They shall all be eclipsed when I shy my hat into the ring.
For when my ship comes in, or when my rich uncle (joke) passes and saddles forty million plunks upon me, I know what I will do.
At present I am living quite comfortably, with one wife, plenty of bread and cheese, and with pie upon occasion; but that sort of thing will be all over.
I shall eat gamy things and drink bubbly things, and accumulate indigestion, arteriosclerosis, and headaches. Let the workingmen have vulgar health. Me for the purple pangs of plutocracy—what?
But first of all I shall buy me a flea. I must have a flea, and a bigger and fiercer one than Rothschild's. I think I shall go in for hippopotamus fleas.
Then I shall get me a couple of stamps. I shall visit the Ahkoond of Swat or Mr. Villa of Mexico and have printed a special edition of two heathen stamps, just for me, for which I shall pay $20; 00o apiece, and turn all philatelists greener and purpler with envy than my stamps.
Then I shall hire a man to go up and down Europe and explore all the ragbags of royalty, and buy up the debts of all the 'bankrupt dukes, and ship me home nine carloads of Old Masters, eight tons of Louis Quinze and Pre-Raphaelite and European Elbert Hubbard furniture, seventy-seven wagon-loads of china and glassware, thirty bales of moth-eaten tapestry, six cords of canes, sixteen hogsheads of old armor, swords, and blunderbusses, a hundred gallons of ancient coins with green on them (specially manufactured in Florence and Rome), besides a collection of collars and cuffs, boots and buttons, napkin rings, crowns, and sceptres from the various kings, queens, and knaves of the Old World.
I will have an office into which you can enter only by passing four rooms and five secretaries, and never allow any one at all to come and see me; and I shall live in a house in the middle of a hundred-acre woods pasture, with two men at the gate with shotguns.
It sure will be nice to be rich. When I get lonesome I will go and play with my flea.