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[172] After a little examination it was rejected decisively as being too complicated; the inventor went home in despair, put his model away under his bench, and promised his wife to abstain from inventions thenceforward. A few weeks or months passed, and a shabby man one day came to the door asking to see it, and saying that he himself had invented a reaper, and it might be worth while for them to join forces. Pulling out the rejected model from under the bench, the inventor showed it, and finally sold it for a small sum to the visitor. It turned out afterwards that the shabby man was an employee of the great establishment which had nominally rejected the invention, and had taken this mean way to buy it for a song. It has since proved immensely profitable. If taxed with the trick, those concerned would simply reply that business was business, and each man must look out for himself.

This precise story may not be true, though it rests on good authority. That it might be true there is no question. It is the possibility of its being true which vitiates all theories of the dignity of wealth. If wealth were, as is sometimes asserted, simply the cumulative result of industry, patience, and honesty, it would not be hard to treat it with a certain reverence.

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