Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/159

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Longlegged Jack of the Isthmus


have a ticker ribbon out of my hand day or night, and in ten years I only took a cropper three times, till the last time. Gentlemen I'm going to tell you a secret. I'm going to tell you a very important secret. . . . Charley give these very good friends of mine another round, my treat, and have a nip yourself. . . . My, that tickles her in the right place. . . . Gentlemen just another illustration of the peculiar predominance of luck in human affairs. Gentlemen the secret of my luck . . . this is exact I assure you; you can verify it yourselves in newspaper articles, magazines, speeches, lectures delivered in those days; a man, and a dirty blackguard he turned out to be eventually, even wrote a detective story about me called the Secret of Success, which you can find in the New York Public Library if you care to look the matter up. . . . The secret of my success was . . . and when you hear it you'll laugh among yourselves and say Joe Harland's drunk, Joe Harland's an old fool. . . . Yes you will. . . . For ten years I'm telling you I traded on margins, I bought outright, I covered on stocks I'd never even heard the name of and every time I cleaned up. I piled up money. I had four banks in the palm of my hand. I began eating my way into sugar and gutta percha, but in that I was before my time. . . . But you're getting nervous to know my secret, you think you could use it. . . . Well you couldnt. . . . It was a blue silk crocheted necktie that my mother made for me when I was a little boy. . . . Dont you laugh, God damn you. . . . No I'm not starting anything. Just another illustration of the peculiar predominance of luck. The day I chipped in with another fellow to spread a thousand dollars over some Louisville and Nashville on margin I wore that necktie. Soared twentyfive points in twentyfive minutes. That was the beginning. Then gradually I began to notice that the times I didnt wear that necktie were the times I lost money. It got so old and ragged I tried carrying it in my pocket. Didnt do any good. I had to wear it, do you understand? . . . The rest is the old old story gentlemen. . . . There was a girl, God damn her and I loved her. I wanted to show her that there was nothing in the world I wouldnt do for her