Jay Gould Penniless
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Jay Gould Penniless book
The year Tweed took his seat in Congress he was thirty years old. In the summer of that year a precocious, adventurous youth who had been baptized Jason, arrived in New York with a mousetrap under his arm. And like the Thessalian prince whose name he bore, this lad, just turned seventeen, was in search of the golden fleece. He hoped that the mousetrap, which he invented, would point the way to the consecrated grove. Save that he was successful in his quest, there is no other parallel in the two Jasons. The modern Jason, who was to play a great part in Tweed's life, was not of heroic size. He was small, thin, frail and hollow-chested. His face was peaked and of the color of old parchment. He had a little dry cough that awakened pity. Yet pity he seldom sought, and if he ever showed any to a foe, it has escaped the record. His physical frailty was compensated by an indomitable will, a nervous energy which defied fatigue and an unscrupulous disregard of all conventions—save one. At this early age he had already displayed the untrustworthiness that was to be the dominant note of his life. At the age of fifteen he worked as a clerk in a country store, whose proprietor also did a small real estate business. The boy learned that his employer was offering $2,000 for a desirable piece of property for which the owner was demanding $2,500. It was worth far more. While the negotiations were on, Jason induced his father, who owned a small farm eleven miles away, to buy the land. Within a short time thereafter this parcel was sold for $4,000. This betrayal of trust cost the scheming clerk his job. It also ended a ripening affection that had sprung up between him and the storekeeper's daughter. But in the eyes of this abnormal youth the handsome profit that accrued from the deal outweighed the loss of a young girl's love and exile 96from his boyhood scenes. The young rustic was born in the Catskills, in the little village of Roxbury. Here, too, was John Burroughs born, and here the naturalist sleeps his last, long sleep. It seems strange that the small village which produced a John Burroughs should also produce a Jason Gould, or Jay Gould, as he began calling himself about the time he came to the Metropolis with a mousetrap under his arm.