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How to Make a Million Dollars

I mix a good deal with the Millionaires. I like them. I
like their faces. I like the way they live. I like the
things they eat. The more we mix together the better I
like the things we mix.

Especially I like the way they dress, their grey check
trousers, their white check waist-coats, their heavy gold
chains, and the signet-rings that they sign their cheques
with. My! they look nice. Get six or seven of them sitting
together in the club and it's a treat to see them. And
if they get the least dust on them, men come and brush
it off. Yes, and are glad to. I'd like to take some of
the dust off them myself.

Even more than what they eat I like their intellectual
grasp. It is wonderful. Just watch them read. They simply
read all the time. Go into the club at any hour and you'll
see three or four of them at it. And the things they can
read! You'd think that a man who'd been driving hard in
the office from eleven o'clock until three, with only an
hour and a half for lunch, would be too fagged. Not a
bit. These men can sit down after office hours and read
the Sketch and the Police Gazette and the Pink Un, and
understand the jokes just as well as I can.

What I love to do is to walk up and down among them and
catch the little scraps of conversation. The other day
I heard one lean forward and say, "Well, I offered him
a million and a half and said I wouldn't give a cent
more, he could either take it or leave it--" I just longed
to break in and say, "What! what! a million and a half!
Oh! say that again! Offer it to me, to either take it or
leave it. Do try me once: I know I can: or here, make it
a plain million and let's call it done."

Not that these men are careless over money. No, sir.
Don't think it. Of course they don't take much account
of big money, a hundred thousand dollars at a shot or
anything of that sort. But little money. You've no idea
till you know them how anxious they get about a cent, or
half a cent, or less.

Why, two of them came into the club the other night just
frantic with delight: they said wheat had risen and they'd
cleaned up four cents each in less than half an hour.
They bought a dinner for sixteen on the strength of it.
I don't understand it. I've often made twice as much as
that writing for the papers and never felt like boasting
about it.

One night I heard one man say, "Well, let's call up New
York and offer them a quarter of a cent." Great heavens!
Imagine paying the cost of calling up New York, nearly
five million people, late at night and offering them a
quarter of a cent! And yet--did New York get mad? No,
they took it. Of course it's high finance. I don't pretend
to understand it. I tried after that to call up Chicago
and offer it a cent and a half, and to call up Hamilton,
Ontario, and offer it half a dollar, and the operator
only thought I was crazy.

All this shows, of course, that I've been studying how
the millionaires do it. I have. For years. I thought it
might be helpful to young men just beginning to work and
anxious to stop.

You know, many a man realizes late in life that if when
he was a boy he had known what he knows now, instead of
being what he is he might be what he won't; but how few
boys stop to think that if they knew what they don't know
instead of being what they will be, they wouldn't be?
These are awful thoughts.

At any rate, I've been gathering hints on how it is they
do it.

One thing I'm sure about. If a young man wants to make
a million dollars he's got to be mighty careful about
his diet and his living. This may seem hard. But success
is only achieved with pains.

There is no use in a young man who hopes to make a million
dollars thinking he's entitled to get up at 7.30, eat
force and poached eggs, drink cold water at lunch, and
go to bed at 10 p.m. You can't do it. I've seen too many
millionaires for that. If you want to be a millionaire
you mustn't get up till ten in the morning. They never
do. They daren't. It would be as much as their business
is worth if they were seen on the street at half-past
nine.

And the old idea of abstemiousness is all wrong. To be
a millionaire you need champagne, lots of it and all the
time. That and Scotch whisky and soda: you have to sit
up nearly all night and drink buckets of it. This is what
clears the brain for business next day. I've seen some
of these men with their brains so clear in the morning,
that their faces look positively boiled.

To live like this requires, of course, resolution. But
you can buy that by the pint.

Therefore, my dear young man, if you want to get moved
on from your present status in business, change your
life. When your landlady brings your bacon and eggs for
breakfast, throw them out of window to the dog and tell
her to bring you some chilled asparagus and a pint of
Moselle. Then telephone to your employer that you'll be
down about eleven o'clock. You will get moved on. Yes,
very quickly.

Just how the millionaires make the money is a difficult
question. But one way is this. Strike the town with five
cents in your pocket. They nearly all do this; they've
told me again and again (men with millions and millions)
that the first time they struck town they had only five
cents. That seems to have given them their start. Of
course, it's not easy to do. I've tried it several times.
I nearly did it once. I borrowed five cents, carried it
away out of town, and then turned and came back at the
town with an awful rush. If I hadn't struck a beer saloon
in the suburbs and spent the five cents I might have been
rich to-day.

Another good plan is to start something. Something on a
huge scale: something nobody ever thought of. For instance,
one man I know told me that once he was down in Mexico
without a cent (he'd lost his five in striking Central
America) and he noticed that they had no power plants.
So he started some and made a mint of money. Another man
that I know was once stranded in New York, absolutely
without a nickel. Well, it occurred to him that what was
needed were buildings ten stories higher than any that
had been put up. So he built two and sold them right
away. Ever so many millionaires begin in some such simple
way as that.

There is, of course, a much easier way than any of these.
I almost hate to tell this, because I want to do it
myself.

I learned of it just by chance one night at the club.
There is one old man there, extremely rich, with one of
the best faces of the lot, just like a hyena. I never
used to know how he had got so rich. So one evening I
asked one of the millionaires how old Bloggs had made
all his money.

"How he made it?" he answered with a sneer. "Why he made
it by taking it out of widows and orphans."

Widows and orphans! I thought, what an excellent idea.
But who would have suspected that they had it?

"And how," I asked pretty cautiously, "did he go at it
to get it out of them?"

"Why," the man answered, "he just ground them under his
heels, that was how."

Now isn't that simple? I've thought of that conversation
often since and I mean to try it. If I can get hold of
them, I'll grind them quick enough. But how to get them.
Most of the widows I know look pretty solid for that sort
of thing, and as for orphans, it must take an awful lot
of them. Meantime I am waiting, and if I ever get a large
bunch of orphans all together, I'll stamp on them and
see.

I find, too, on inquiry, that you can also grind it out
of clergymen. They say they grind nicely. But perhaps
orphans are easier.

Stephen Leacock