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When Egypt Went Broke: A Novel
by Holman Day
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Tasper Britt -- "Twelve-per-cent Britt" -- trimmed his slumber at both ends -- was owl and early bird, both, in his pursuit of the pence of the people, and got 'em coming and going. He was the money boss for the town of Egypt, and those who did not give him his per cent nickname called him "Phay-ray-oh" -- but behind his back, of course. To his face his debt slaves bespoke his favor obsequiously. Seeing that nearly every "Egyptian" with collateral owed him money, Mr. Britt had no fault to find with his apparent popularity. He did believe, complacently, that he was popular. A man who was less sure of himself would not have dared to appear out, all at once, with his beard dyed purple-black and with a scratch wig to match. Men gasped when they came into his office in Britt Block, but men held their faces measurably under control even though their diaphragms fluttered; the need of renewing a note -- paying a bonus for the privilege -- helped supplicants to hold in any bubbling hilarity. Therefore, Mr. Britt continued to be assured that he was pretty generally all right, so far as the folks of Egypt were concerned.
She went to Frank, stretching her hands to him, and he took them in his grasp. "I understand! I can wait," she told him. "And when the time comes and you call to me, I'll say, as Ruth said, 'Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee; for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.'" Impulsively, heeding only him, she threw her arms around his neck and kissed him. Then she ran from the room.
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