“Here Comes the Bribe” by Sam Hellman

“Politics, I has heard said or read, makes beds strange fellers. Many a true word is spoken of a pest.”

Man argues with a smoking, smug gentleman

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A newspaper reporter and fiction writer with a healthy sense of self-deprecation, Sam Hellman wrote in 1925 that “those who have been reading my stuff will hardly believe that I am a college graduate with an early academic penchant for Greek accusatives and Latin gerundives.” In his humorous stories, witty commoners with crude dialect dress each other down in farcical situations. In spite of his highbrow studies, Hellman observed people and their language while traveling the country after college. In “Here Comes the Bribe,” a scrappy Long Islander accidently finds success in politics.

Published on April 5, 1924

 

Politics, I has heard said or read, makes beds strange fellers. Many a true word is spoken of a pest. Ever since I let them Doughmorons fluke me into grabbing off that job in the legislature I ain’t had no more sleep than a guy with the hives doing a six-day bike trick on the corrugated roof of a boiler factory.

Ordinarily a new cuckoo elected from Long Island to one of them per-dime grafts attracts about as much attention out in the state as the second vice president of the Lotto Club of Gimme, Utah, would in Somewhere, east of Suez; but in my cases things is different. Besides being the only Democrat that ever copped in the county, the platform I run on was woozy enough to make the big city papers throw a mess of infernal triangles offa the front page to get room for spelling my name wrong, and also for surprising me with reporters’ ideas of what I would ’a’ maybe said if they’d seen me.

You lads that cuts your breakfast short every Thursday morning and rushes mad to the news stand with a nickel in your hand remembers how Luke Cravens, the boss of the party, slicked me into getting on the ticket with a promise that they was no chance of winning, but a good one of getting the bum’s rush outta Doughmore, which, as more than two million and a quarter folks knows, has been the heights of my ambitions from the day the frau and the Magruders f.o.b.’d me into this limousine layout.

I guess it ain’t fair to blame what happened on Luke, him not having no way of knowing that the Republican bird was gonna beat it with a frill and the building-and-loan jack the day before the election; but I don’t see where I could ’a’ done anymore. It looked like a cinch that I’d be trimmed bad, and besides would get the air from the club crowd on account of the bill I was talking about introducing to slap a heavy tax on golf balls, sticks, links and such.

Instead, here I is with a Hon. stuck in front of my monniker and stronger’n ever with the pill pushers, them blah boys having figured out that what I was aiming at was a deep schemes to keep the rough-raffs outta the game.

After election night I don’t get to see Cravens for a week. Finally, I drifts into the village to give my sorrows swimming lessons and I meets up with him.

“Heard the latest?” I inquires.

“Not lately,” he comes back. “What’s yours?”

“I’m resigning,” I tells him.

“I know one better than that,” says Luke. “They was once a Scotchman and — ”

“I’m resigning,” I repeats.

“Sure you are,” returns Cravens. “Talking about something in general, what’s your ideas on nothing in particular?”

“What do you think I am?” I yelps. “Kidding or cuckoo?”

“If you ain’t serious,” says Luke, “you’re kidding; if you is, you’re what comes after the ‘or.’ What’s eating you?”

“I’m all et,” I answers. “Got any notion what I been through since last Tuesday?”

“Better’n you have,” says Cravens, prompt. “The boys has been running you ragged for cuts of the cake they expects you’ll get for ’em in Albany. In facts, I sent a dozen or so lads up to see you myselfs.”

“That’s damn nice of you,” I barks, grateful, “and I’ll set you up to a quart of wood alcohol the first chance I gets. You responsible for them bobos that drug me outta the hay at three a.m. and them janes — ”

“Janes?” says Luke. “What janes?”

“Well,” I tells him, “I don’t remember the names of more than two or four hundred of ‘em, but they was one old gal that wanted to know where I stood, if anywheres, on Sunday shows; another that tried to smoke me out — ”

“Don’t let them worry you,” cuts in Cravens. “That gang usually gets after the candidates before the election; but not figuring you for a chance, they laid off until right now.”

“They ain’t no ‘right now’ in them cases,” I growls. “It’s wrong whenever.”

“You gotta put up with that kinda stuff,” says Luke. “You must remember you is in the public eye.”

“Yeh,” I comes back, “like a cinder. Can you resign with a lead pencil or do you gotta do it with ink?”

“Forget it!” snaps Cravens. “Don’t be a scoffjob. They ain’t a politician in the state that’s sitting prettier than you is. In a coupla years we’ll have you in Congress, and you might be governor someday.”

“Uh-huh,” says I; “and I might also get to be the mother of the late queen of Armenia, but I ain’t got none of them kinda itches. I’d sooner sleep tight than be President. Anyways, after what I has been doing since I seen you last, I just gotta get out from under.”

“What you been doing?” inquires Luke.

“Nothing,” I answers, “excepting to kid everybody that come to see me into believing that I was wild about the hop they was whooping it up for. I shooed out four women with a cross-my-heart that I’d have the law on the sun for making cider cheat. If that don’t annoy you none, what do you think of the eleven boys I promised the same job to?”

“What job’s that?” asks Cravens.

“Road overseer,” I tells him.

“Don’t worry about that,” says Luke. “It ain’t even vacant. I thought you told me you didn’t know nothing about politics.”

“I don’t and I won’t,” I answers.

“You plays it perfect,” comes back the County chairman. “Promise ’em everything; deliver only to them that does.”

“Does what?” I bites.

“Delivers,” says Cravens. “When do you grab the night boat for Albany?”

“When’d you lose your ear sight?” I yelps. “Ain’t I just got done telling you that — ”

“Now, now,” interrupts Luke, soft, “be mother’s little angel pet. You can’t quit, Dink. We ain’t never elected a Democrat here before, and if you does a yellow we’ll never have another. You can’t expect every Republican to play ball for us by jumping the works with a skirt and the roll. Besides, I thought you was wild about getting away from Doughmore. Here’s a chance to leave it flat for three months, anyways.”

“That part of it’s all right,” says I; “but I ain’t keen about making no sucker outta myselfs. Here I is promised all up to vote nine different ways on everything, from getting after the Pullman folks on this berth-control proposition some wren talked my arm off about, to taking snipes outta little gal’s mouths — ”

“Listen, bo,” cuts in Cravens, “they is only one way of making a sucker outta yourself at the legislature.”

“How?” I asks.

“By going to the mat for something on the account of a campaign pledge,” explains Luke. “It ain’t even good form to mention ’em after election.”

“Ain’t I supposed to act like the voters wants?” I inquires. “Or is I supposed to do like I thinks personal?”

“Thinking’s even rude,” replies Cravens; “but they is two ideas about the subject you brung up. Some holds that a guy should do like he wants to do — ”

“And the other?” I butts in.

“And the other,” goes on Luke, “that he shouldn’t never do nothing that he don’t want to.”

“Smelligent,” says I. “Where does the people get off in that kinda misdeal?”

“They don’t,” answers Cravens. “They keeps right on riding and paying fare.”

II

If it wasn’t for the Magruders I would ’a’ passed up the job in spite of all that Luke said and done to skid me into it, but them babies is got a way of rubbing my fuzz the wrong way and making me do a lotta tricks I shouldn’t oughta. All Jim and Liz has to do is to be for a thing for me to pick up a club and beat its brains in. I ain’t ordered ham and eggs since I found out they liked ’em.

After I finishes up my talk with Cravens, in the which I promised to think it over a couple days, I beats it home and finds the Magruders cluttering up the front porch.

“Has you resigned?” asks Lizzie.

“Want me to?” I comes back.

“Jim says,” answers the measle, “that you — ”

“Never mind what Jim says,” I cuts in. “Ain’t you got no ideas in your own name? Don’t you ever get anything in the box score excepting assists?”

“I got a mind of my own,” snaps the Magruder nix.

“All right,” I admits; “but why don’t you take it outta the safety deposit and show it to us sometime? I ain’t gonna swipe it.”

Large man smiles as he leans over a dinner table towards another man.
“Know who I am?” (Illustrated by Tony Sarg)

“I wouldn’t trust a politician,” says Lizzie, cold; “not even with nothing.”

“Is you really gonna take the job?” butts in Jim, quick, to cover up his wife’s fox paws.

“Why not?” I inquires.

“Well,” says he, “it’s a pretty dirty game, ain’t it?”

“Ever play in it?” I wants to know.

“I wouldn’t touch it with a six-foot pole,” he comes back. “They ain’t nobody in politics but a lotta grafters.”

“We once lived in a house,” says I, “where we had a furnace that was always on the bum. One day it got so cold I went downstairs to see what the hell. I found out the janitor was peddling the coal I’d bought and hadn’t taken the ashes out for a month. So I canned him, cleaned the thing out myself and never did have no trouble after that.”

“You should oughta get the kinda furnace we is got,” remarks Lizzie. “Jim says — ”

“The furnace I’m talking about,” I continues, “is a figure in speech.”

“Ours is a Little Diamond Hot Box, ain’t it, Jim?” inquires the sciatica.

“Where’d Lizzie go?” I asks, acting kinda surprised.

“I’m here,” she answers, wide-eyed.

“You’re here, all right,” says I; “but you ain’t there. What I was trying to broadcast,” I goes on, turning to Magruder, “before that frau of yourn turned on the statics, was the idea that if you don’t like dirt you can’t cuss it outta the room; you gotta grab a broom and sweep.”

“I suppose,” sneers Jim, “you’re gonna make politics as clean as a hind tooth, huh?”

“I’ll maybe try,” I answers. “What’ll you do? Stand around while some dip frisks your pockets and bawl out the coppers instead of taking a crack at the crook?”

“Jim ain’t afraid of nothing,” says Lizzie.

“I ain’t afraid of my wife neither,” I shoots back.

“You calling me nothing?” busts out the misses, who ain’t said a word so far.

“Not a thing,” I returns, hasty. “You vote at the last election, Jim?”

“What for?” he comes back. “They don’t count ’em anyways.”

“Well,” says I, “it’s a cinch they don’t count them that ain’t cast. When I gets to Albany — ”

“So you’re going?” interrupts Magruder.

“Yeh,” I tells him. “I kinda feels that I owes that much to prosperity. I’m looking ahead to the time when Dink O’Day Day will be celebrated from Rock Bound, Maine, to Climate, California, and when statutes of me in the parks will be as thick as empty shoe boxes after a church picnic.”

“You’ll look swell in the legislature,” sarcastics Jim. “What do you know about parlor-mantel law?”

“No more’n I know about kitchen-sink law,” I admits; “but it won’t take me more’n a minute and a half to run it down and make it drop from exhaustion.”

“I never seen a guy hate his wife’s husband like you does,” says Magruder. “Ever hear of Roberts’ Rules and Orders?”

“I don’t wear no man’s collars,” I answers, “and that bird Roberts ain’t gonna give me no orders. Anyways, Luke Cravens is the boss of the district. Where does this Roberts boy — ”

“You wouldn’t understand,” cuts in Magruder, “even if you knew. For example, suppose you was to get on the floor of the house — ”

“Who’s gonna put me there?” I yelps. I don’t want you to get no ideas I’m such a stupe as I sounds, but I’m even willing to carry that reputation for the pleasures of razz-jazzing Magruder.

“I mean,” he explains, “if you was making a speech on some bill and a bobo should get up and move that it should be put on the table, what would you do?”

“It all depends,” I answers, “on the way he said it. If he was nice and polite, I’d put it there; but if he tried to rough-bluff me into doing it, I’d leave it just where it was and he’d probably spend the next few minutes picking a inkwell outta his hair.”

“Flying codfish!” hollers Jim, waving his hands like a yell leader. “And you’re the kinda guy that’s gonna make laws for fifteen million people!”

“That’s what,” says I; “but what do you expects if right thinkers like you won’t take no interest in politics and’d rather play golf than vote?”

“Talking about golf,” comes back Magruder, “is you really gonna introduce that tax bill?”

“I’ll tell the popeyed world I am,” I replies. “A dollar on each ball and five fish on each club.”

“Think you can put over a grab like that?” he asks.

“I wouldn’t be so surprised,” I answers. “When I gets done telling the boys about the terrible housing conditions of the ducks on Long Island on account of the land being drug out from under ’em for golf courses, I expects the tax’ll go with one big sob. D’you know things is so bad on the North Shore that seven and eight ducks is gotta sleep on one rock?”

“I didn’t even know ducks slept on rocks,” remarks Lizzie.

“You should study national science, gal,” I returns. “What’d you suppose they slept on? Credit? Where’d you imagine the expression ‘duck on the rock’ come from?”

“I don’t know,” says she.

“I don’t know the name of the saloon neither,” cuts in Kate, slipping me the glare to sidetrack. “Please stop teasing Lizzie and try and give a imitation of talking sense.”

“Who should I imitate?” I inquires. “Jim?”

“You couldn’t go further and do worse,” suggests the Magruder exposed nerve; and when I starts laughing she goes on, all flustered, “I means, you could go further and do no worse.”

“That’ll be enough,” yelps Jim. “I’ll do my own answering back from now and on. Cutting the kidding cold,” he continues, turning to me, “I thought that golf-tax idea of yourn was to keep the cheap johns from building links around Doughmore and the other swell clubs.”

“Even a natural error like you,” says I, “couldn’t be no wronger. Can you see me pulling chestnuts at a fire for the plutocats around here? I’m a friend of the common people and — ”

“The commoner, the friendlier,” interrupts the frau.

“Maybe,” I admits; “but I promised the duck growers of this district that I’d go to the front for ’em, and a promise and a performance with Dink O’Day is as alike as two peas in a puddle. Experts has tried with instruments and them slow movie cameras to find a difference between ’em, but without no luck. It was funny. Oncet they was studying a promise of mine, and when I told ’em after a coupla hours it was really a regular performance and not no promise a-tall, they just gave up.”

“Doing business with a politician,” remarks Magruder, “I guess they hadda. When you gets to Albany them experts’ll be able to leave their naked eyes at home and still see the difference.”

“What makes you think so?” I inquires.

“Didn’t I hear you tell that Glumph woman you was gonna pass a law to stop all picture shows on Sunday, Wednesday and the nights the Ladies’ Aid met?” asks Jim.

“You did,” I tells him.

“Yeh,” jeers Magruder; “and wasn’t I there when you promised Mildew down at the Tivoli that you’d put the censors on the hummer and fix it so the film folks could do anything they wanted to, within reason and without?”

“Such is the case and the facts in it,” I confesses. “What about it?”

“How you gonna keep both promises?” demands Jim.

“What,” says I, “leaving out present company, could be simpler? I’ll introduce the bill the Glumph frill wants and also the one Mildew’s after.”

“How,” yelps Magruder, “can you be on both sides at oncet?”

“Ah,” I returns, “that’s what makes politics a art. What’s wrong with the way I’m doing? Some of the folks in the county wants this; some others don’t want that. Who’m I to say what’s proper for ’em? I’m just like a waiter in a restaurant. Everybody that comes in asks for something different. I puts in the order. If the chef don’t wanna cook up the mess, whose fault is it? A jane drifts in with her trap all set for a pair of fried wizzle-wumph eggs, sunny side up. Is it my business to tell her they ain’t good for her complexions and try and set her up to a platter of raw ox ears?”

“You mean rare, don’t you?” inquires Lizzie.

“I don’t know no more what you’re talking about than you do,” says Jim; “but how you gonna vote on these different things when its comes to a show-down?”

“O’Day,” I replies, “is far enough down on the roll call for my judgment and my conscience to get together before I has to. I’m gonna introduce everything that anyone wants and let ’em take their chances. Personally, nothing don’t interest me excepting my duck bill, and I shall fight for it with all the powers I has, with faith in the right and — ”

“Oh, hire a hall!” snaps Magruder.

“The Monday Club’s got a dandy place,” says Lizzie. “You can get it for fifty dollars a night; besides, they is still got the decorations up from the Pappa Eta Motza sorority dance.”

III

Me and Cravens goes to Albany together, Luke figuring on introducing me around to the high moguls of the party and seeing that I get started off K.O.

“You’ll be kinda busy getting settled,” says he, “so I has taken a little work off your hands.”

“What work?” I asks.

“Well,” he answers, “I figures they is about eight jobs you’ll get to hand to the boys in the district and I’ve picked ’em for you. Seeing as I got you into this, the leastest I can do is to save you from being bothered. I has even notified the lads we’s named.”

“That’s nice,” says I; “but — ”

“’S all right, Dink,” cuts in Luke. “They ain’t no thanks necessary. It’s maybe taken up some of my time and all that; but when I likes a guy, going to trouble for him’s a pleasure.”

“Yeh,” I returns; “but how about them fifty or sixty birds I promised plums to?”

“Albany,” answers Cravens, prompt, “is quite a town. They is a coupla good hotels, and I knows a restaurant I’ll take you to, where you orders tea and gets what you meant.”

Not caring nothing about them jobs at Doughmore, I don’t chase the subject no further. Anyways, I don’t aim to stay long. My ideas is to stick around the legislature just enough to see what makes the thing tick and maybe pull a stunt or two that’ll get me in bad with the jokes at home, after which me and politics’ll call it a day.

Luke makes me acquainted with a bunch of bobos that is supposed to run the works and winds up by taking me to the mansion to meet the governor. He turns out to be a decent feller.

“I has heard a lot about you,” says he to me.

“I’ve seen your name mentioned, too,” I comes back, not to be undone in courtesies.

“I wanna talk to you someday about taxes,” he goes on. “I understands you has studied ’em deep.”

“Governor,” I replies, “I don’t wanna brag, but if they is anything about taxes I don’t know it musta been sprung the day after tomorrow.”

“That’s fine,” smiles the big chief. “They is causing us a lotta trouble. ‘

“Unwrinkle your brow, gov,” I cuts in. “My golf bill will solve everything.”

“I must look into it,” says he, and me and Cravens beats it.

“I thought,” remarks Luke, “that you canned that tax idea of yourn when the Doughmorons started being for it.”

“No,” I tells him, “I’m going through with it just to prove to them coupon barbers that they give me the wrong rap.”

“Well,” says Cravens, looking at me kinda narrow, “the play might work out good for you at that.”

“You mean,” I asks, “the bill might pass?”

“It’s got as much chance of doing that,” he answers, “as one of them ducks of yourn would have in a scrap with three wildcats, four hyenas and a pair of Australian gluffaws.”

“I don’t get you,” I returns, puzzled.

“No?” smiles Luke. “All right, Rollo, roll your own hoop. If you should want me to cut in later on, you knows where to find me.”

I’m still all up in the air trying to figure out what Cravens’s been driving at when I gets to the hotel by myselfs and runs into Shem Conover, a baby from up in the state that was knocked down to me earlier in the day as a real slicker in jamming stuff through the House.

“I been waiting to see you,” says he. “I wanna little chin-chin.”

“About which?” I inquires.

“That golf-tax bill you’re touting,” he answers. “Need any help?”

“I ain’t so sure I’m going through with it,” I tells him, not liking the bimbo’s looks.

“Who’s been talking to you?” he asks, slipping me the narrow eye like Cravens done.

“What you getting at?” I yelps, getting kinda peeved at the mystery stuff.

“Listen, bo,” says Conover, “and don’t try and gruff me off the lay. If you wanna get any action with that bill of yourn you gotta be sweet to me. I’m chairman of the committee that’s gonna get it, and if you don’t put me in the line-up — ”

“What’ll you do?” I barks.

“I’ll fix it,” he comes back, slow, “so that the chloroform won’t work when you want it to, and when you gets ready to deliver the body you’ll find the livest corpse you ever seen.’

“I’ll sue the Central for this,” says I. “When a lad buys a ducat for Albany they ain’t got no right to dump him off at Matteawan.”

“You’re in Albany, little one,” remarks Conover, cold; “and when you is in Albany you gotta do like the Albanians does. Do I get a hand dealt me?”

“I ain’t gonna introduce the bill,” I growls, “and besides — ”

“Too late,” interrupts Shem. “If you run out on it I’ll have it introduced as a committee measure. The idea’s too cushy to drop. They worked it with patent medicine down in Arkansas and with baking powder out in Missouri, but the golf act’s a new one on the sandbag circuit. Give it a coupla thinks,” he finishes up, and drifts away casual.

A man is grabbed by the collar by another.
“You’ll find the livest corpse you ever seen.” (Illustrated by Tony Sarg)

I looks around expecting a guy in blue with a bunch of keys to grab him, but nothing like that don’t happen. Dizzy and woozy, I drifts across the street to the restaurant Luke told me about and squats me down.

“What’ll you have?” asks the waiter.

“A cup of tea, God forbid,” says I.

It’s wonderful what a little oolong will do for a lad that gets the kind he means instead of the sort he asks for, and right away I begins to perk up some. But it don’t last long. I’m about to yell for an encore when I looks up to see a feller standing besides me, a stout, surtaxy appearing citizen with a wide grin.

“Know who I am?” he inquires.

“Considering the luck I been in all day,” I answers, “you couldn’t be nothing excepting a revenue agent.”

“My card, Mr. O’Day,” says he, and slips it.

“‘August P. Stevens,’” I reads aloud, and then to myselfs, “‘representing the Universal Outdoor Co.’”

“You cover all that territory by yourselfs?” I asks.

“No,” he comes back; “I’m mostly in Albany and Washington.”

“What do you sell,” I wants to know, “scenery or air?”

“I don’t sell,” he returns, looking me straight in the eyes. “I buy.”

“What?” I asks.

“Different things,” he answers, evasive. “I suppose you know we is one of the largest sporting-goods houses in the world. Naturally, we is interested in your bill to tax golf balls and sticks. Shall I sit down?”

“If your lumbago’ll let you,” I replies; “but you might as well know later than sooner that I’ve heard enough of that bill this afternoon to last me until three weeks after my funeral. I ain’t even sure I’m gonna flip it into the hopper.”

“The boys around here,” says Stevens, “’ll tell you that I’m a square shooter and don’t mince up no words. With me a spade’s a spade and I know how to dig. What do you need to help you make up your mind about that bill?”

“Which way?” I mumbles, fanning for time.

What a zero brain I’d been not to get jerry to that talk of Luke and Conover about sandbags and chloroform and the such!

“Our way, of course,” answers the sportsgoods man. “You forget the golf tax and we’ll not forget you.”

“I see,” says I; “you wanna bribe me not to put the bill in.”

“Oh,” returns Stevens, “you can put it in; but it’ll get sick in the committee room, be operated on and die under the ether. All you gotta do is to let the dead stay dead and get all wound up in something else. You ain’t got a thing to lose. They ain’t no chance of jamming the tax over and — ”

“What do you wanna buy me off for then?” I cuts in.

“Well,” says Stevens, “they is always a outside possibility of anything going through in the last-minute rush. Besides, we don’t wanna have taxes on balls and clubs even discussed.”

“You can’t stop that,” I retorts. “I’m full of it now.”

“Full of what?” he inquires.

“Disgust,” I snaps, and ducks outta the place.

IV

They ain’t no meeting of the legislature the next day, and I runs down to Doughmore, first having wired Cravens that I was coming and for him to meet me. I ain’t one of them holier than thous, but raw work always did get me sore, even in them times when I didn’t ask a dollar bill for references. Luke sees right off that I’m riled.

“Do I look like a grafter?” I asks.

“The light ain’t so good here,” he comes, back, calm. “What makes you doubtful?

I cuts loose and tells him everything that happened to me in Albany after he left. He listens with about as much excitement as I was retailing a bright crack pulled by my third cousin’s infant progeny.

“You don’t seem surprised none,” I remarks at the finish. “Is they all dips up in Albany?”

“No,” replies Luke, “they is about 95 percent honest; but at every session in every legislature they is always a few sandbaggers — guys that push in stick-up bills, not with any hopes of passing ’em, but on it gamble that somebody will get all scared up and buy ’em off. The railroads used to be the prize marks, but — ”

“Say,” I shoots out a yelp, “you ain’t got no ideas that I’m a sandbagger, is you?”

“Well,” returns Cravens, “at first I thought that blah of yours about golf and ducks was just some pretty fun you was having with the Doughmorons; but when it flopped with them and you kept right on yelling tax, even in front of the governor, I begun to get a little suspicious.”

“Honey sweets the Malay’s pants!” I hollers.

Man points to his chest in response
“Do I look like a grafter?” I asks. (Illustrated by Tony Sarg)

“Huh?” inquires Luke.

“That’s Latin,” I explains, “for lads with evil minds that thinks everybody else is got ’em.”

“Evil mind, eh?” says Cravens, kinda peevish. “Any bird that’ll go to the front for a new nuisance tax, when everybody in the country is nearly bent over double carrying the load of ’em they got now is either a stupe or a grafter. And you ain’t so stupish.’

“Damn it,” I barks, “I’ll  — ”

“Listen to me,” interrupts Luke. “I ain’t calling you a crook, but what do you expect people’ll think of a bobo in these times that’ll talk up another gouge, and picks out a nice juicy game like golf for the victim?”

“I was only kidding,” I mumbles, feeble;

“I suppose,” admits the chairman; “but like the feller remarked after lugging careless baby six blocks, they is such a thing as carrying a kid too far.”

“It seems to me,” says I, suddenly remembering his stuff in Albany, “you was willing to take your bit.”

“I was,” he answers, cool, “I don’t never throw no spoons away when it’s raining soup.”

“Gosh,” I groans, “I’m in a swell fix. If I don’t introduce that bill now they’ll say I been bought off. If I does, I’ll have to go to the mat for it and keep fighting all the time I’m gonna resign,” I announces, blunt.

“That’ll be the worst yet,” says Cravens “Then they’ll figure you was bought off good and was afraid of a investigation.”

“What shall I do?” I asks.

“Just forget all about it,” advises Luke. “I’ll fix things with Stevens and Conover so nothing’ll ever be mentioned about the golf bill.”

“Sure you can?” I wants to know.

“Certain sure,” says Cravens. “Won’ I the guy that sent ’em to see you?

On the way to the house I meets up with Lizzie. “I just been to the Monday Club,” she tells me. “You still wanna hire a hall?”

“No,” I answers, “not a hall — a hole.”

“A hole?” repeats Lizzie. “What you gonna do with a hole?”

“Crawl in,” says I.

The first page of the story, "Here Comes the Bribe," by Sam Hellman, as it appeared in an old issue of The Saturday Evening Post
Read “Here Comes the Bribe” by Sam Hellman from the April 5, 1924, issue of the Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.

Featured image: “Flying codfish! And you’re the kinda guy that’s gonna make laws for fifteen million people!” (Illustrated by Tony Sarg)

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