Page images




the time her trunks were all assembled ready for the customs examination the lucky first one was on the point of collapse. When asked to acknowledge her signature on her declaration, she could only gasp and nod her head. The inspector to whom the document handed glanced at it, then at the new Persian lamb coat.

"That is a handsome coat you have on, madame," he remarked, seemingly bent on making conversation.

"Yes, I think it is rather fetching," murmured the melting one, finding her voice again, for no woman is ever too far gone to rise to a neatly turned compliment.

"It has the real Parisian cut. You must have purchased it abroad."

"Oh, yes! You cawn't get such furs at home.”

"I see you forgot to include it in your declaration.”

“Why I'm wearing it. Don't I'm wearing it."

“That makes no difference whatever.

You will observe that the law distinctly says that only one hundred dollars worth of goods purchased abroad may be admitted duty free. If you will kindly step to the desk, madame, I think you will be allowed to amend your declaration.”

No thermometer would have recorded that matron's temperature when she realized that she had sweltered in vain, and that she must pay $130 in duty before she could take her prize away. Her impotent rage was scarcely assuaged by the knowledge that each of the other fourteen were making the same discovery in other parts of the dock. There are times when misery is too much engrossed with its own unhappiness to care whether it has company or not.

Not until weeks afterward did nebulous suspicion in the minds of the fifteen crystallize into a conviction that he whom they had thought such an agreeable young man on the ship coming home was a fiend in human shape, an abandoned wretch with a perverted sense of humor, who had played what he was


you see?

[graphic][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]


contagion from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from the Soo to the Rio Grande. Ninetynine out of every hundred trans - Atlantic passengers believe it with their whole soul on their first trip. They believe it just as implicitly as they believe that anything offered for sale in Europe must necessarily be a wonderful bargain. So they spend half their time abroad shopping and the other half wearing their purchases in order to escape the tariff which in the abstract is a heavenly beatitude, provided it is only high enough, but which becomes an unjust, tyrannical, oppressive burden to be evaded by any artifice the moment it is brought home


every westbound liner that crosses the At

lantic may be seen a few pleased to consider a practical joke upon women suffering from the tariff delusion. them by telling them they would not They can always be i entified by the have to pay duty on any of their preposterously inappropriate costumes European purchases they wore when they wear on shipboard. They suffer the going ashore.

Being a gossipy person pangs of martyrdom, for they know all he had found out all about their pur- the other women are talking about them, chases, had made the possession of those and they perjure their souls with false dutiable Persian lamb coats a bond of explanations and apologies to hide what sympathy between them, and had been everybody knows, which is that they are the arch conspirator in the pretended plot suffering merely to trick the United to trick the Government out of its just States Government out of the money it dues. But if any of the fifteen ever clap so desperately needs to pay pensions. eyes on the scoundrel again

The shrewder tourists on their first trip Amazing beyond comprehension is the take their purchases to a secluded spot tenacity with which seemingly intelligent in Switzerland where they wear them persons will cling to popular beliefs in each for an hour, then sew in old labels the face of the most explicit and em- they prudently brought from home. phatic refutations, backed up by au- After the first trip they know better. thority and reiterated again and yet Some even think jewels purchased again. Somebody somewhere somehow abroad are not dutiable if they take the sometime got the idea that anything that precaution to wear them on going ashore. had ever been worn, or which was worn Thus, a tourist who shall be nameless upon disembarking in America, no mat- here, returning on the George Washingter what it was, or what its value, or ton, October 10, 1910, wore a new diawhere it was purchased, was not subject mond ring and pin, his wife wore to duty. He confided this hallucination diamond and sapphire ring and carried to some one else who passed it on to a silver mesh bag. None of these things another. This tariff delusion, thus were included in their declaration, yet started on its travels, has spread like a they readily admitted they had been pur





chased abroad. Asked why he did not mistake about the tariff law unless he declare the jewels, the tourist triumph- does it wilfully. Early in the west bound antly called attention to the fact that he voyage, so there will be plenty of time and his wife were wearing them. He to examine it at leisure, the purser or his was overwhelmed when the trinkets were minions hands to each passenger a blank seized and he was obliged to redeem declaration on which to schedule his them by paying their full value plus baggage, including foreign purchases, 60 per cent duty with a fine on top of and a little blue folder. The declaration, that for good measure.

which is numbered and has a coupon Yet it is difficult to work up any sym

with a corresponding number attached, pathy for the victims of the tariff delu- bears the most explicit directions for sion when they are forced to pay three filling it out.

filling it out. But for fear the plain and times what it would have cost them to be simple language may be misunderstood, honest. Smuggling is merely a form of the little blue folder, which is headed stealing, which is expressly forbidden in "Notice to Passengers," begins by quotthe decalogue. No one can make any

No one can make any ing paragraph 709 appearing in the free


list of the present tariff act governing or other articles taken out of the United passengers' baggage, which reads as fol- States which have been remodeled or imlows:

proved while abroad so as to increase "Wearing apparel, articles of per- their value, must be declared, the statesonal adornment, toilet articles, and sim- ment to include the cost of such improveilar personal effects of persons arriving ment. But for fear this twice repeated in the United States: but this exemption explanation that “wearing" foreign shall only include such articles as ac- bought articles does not exempt them, it tually accompany and are in the use of, is explained all over again for the third and as are necessary and appropriate for time in a separate paragraph, in these the wear and use of such persons, for the words: immediate purposes of the journey and "U'se does not exempt from duty present comfort and convenience, and wearing apparel or other articles obshall not be held to apply to merchandise tained abroad, but such articles will be or articles intended for other persons or appraised at their present value.” for sale :

All cigars and cigarettes must be dePROVIDED, That in case of residents clared and are not included in the one of the United States returning from hundred dollars exemption. But each abroad, all wearing apparel and other passenger over eighteen years of age is personal effects taken by them out of the entitled to bring in free of duty and in United States to foreign countries shall ternal revenue tax either fifty cigars or be admitted free of duty, without regard three hundred cigarettes for his or her to their value, upon their identity being bona fide personal consumption. Smokers established, under appropriate rules and who have had to exist for a few months regulations to be prescribed by the Sec- upon European made cigars will see in retary of the Treasury, but no more than this a deliberate attempt on the part of one hundred dollars in value of articles the United States Government to affront purchased abroad by such residents them, for no one in his right mind would the United States shall be admitted free smoke European cigars if he could get of duty upon their return."

any others. Lest this legal phraseology should be Household goods of persons from formisunderstood, the little blue folder takes eign countries are admitted free of duty it up phrase by phrase, expounding, if actually used abroad by them not less elucidating, and explaining it until it than one year and if they are not inwould seem as if the law and the rules tended for any other person or for sale. established pursuant thereto must be as All articles intended for other persons, plain as a pikestaff is alleged to be even for use in business, theatrical apparel, to a rudimentary intellect. It is carefully properties and sceneries, must be depointed out that the exact number of clared by passengers, whether foreigners pieces of baggage must be stated in the or residents. Duties can not be paid by declaration; that after the declaration check or draft but only in currency. Pashas been prepared and signed the coupon sengers are also warned that to offer or at the bottom must be detached and the give gratuities or bribes to customs offideclaration given to the purser; that cials is a violation of law. They are also after all his baggage has been landed explicitly invited to report any disupon the pier the passenger must present courtesy or incivility on the part of the his coupon at the desk where an inspector customs officers to the deputy collector will be detailed to examine the baggage; or deputy surveyor at the pier; or if that that the passenger must acknowledge in doesn't work, to go to the custom house; person his signature to the declaration; or if that isn't satisfactory to go straight that all wearing apparel, jewelry, and to the Secretary of the Treasury. other articles, whether used or unused, Great care is exercised in the distribuon their persons, in their clothing, or in tion of the declarations and the little blue their baggage, which have been obtained folders on shipboard. They are handed abroad by purchase or otherwise, with to each passenger personally and his atthe foreign value or cost, must be de- tention is directed to them by word of clared ; that all wearing apparel, jewelry, mouth. If he fails to turn in his declara

[graphic][merged small]


tion to the purser as requested, he is for travelers distributed on the ship?" reminded of his neglect. The purser she was asked. must turn over a baggage declaration for “Oh, yes! but I didn't pay any attenevery passenger to the customs officers tion to them.” who board the ship at quarantine. Being "Did you read the warning that failure numbered, every blank, including those to declare dutiable articles rendered the accidentally spoiled, has to be accounted articles liable to seizure and you to arfor.

rest, fine, and imprisonment ?" All this seems plain enough, doesn't it? "Why, yes, I read that, but really I Yet a young woman from Chicago who didn't take it seriously.' arrived on the Oceanic last October in- After the usual exemption had been cluded in her declaration only $920 worth disallowed and she had been obliged to of gowns and jewels purchased abroad, pay $1,800 in duties and penalties it is while the inspector found a great deal said the young Chicagoan took the law more. She was taken before Deputy much more seriously. So, also, did a Surveyor O'Connor to explain.

Brooklyn girl returning from Paris last "Did you read the printed regulations October. In addition to the regulation

« PreviousContinue »