Gordon found himself endowed with a Social Status which enabled him, at the Age of 23, to gain admission to an exclusive Club of 3,000 Members, the object of which was to serve a 40-cent Table d'Hote every Noon to as many as were willing to take a Chance.
Therefore, when he was yanked out of his 6-cylinder Car and stood up before the Magistrate, charged with smearing up the Boulevard with the Working Classes, the whole Reading Public was thrilled to hear of what had happened to a Well-Known Clubman whose Father was a Millionaire Promoter and whose Mother was a Popular Society Matron.
By this time Ethel was merely a Relation.
She had not come across in any Particular.
As a matter of Fact, she was not pulling down any Ribbons at Beauty Shows, and toed in when she walked.
However, she was not discouraged. She eloped with a Chauffeur employed in an 8-car Garage and next Day she was a Beautiful Heiress whose Brother was a Well-Known Man about Town, the Mother being very prominent in Club Work and remembered as the Wife of the Millionaire Promoter.
After all this came out, Father still had between $3,000 and $4,000 and the whole Family, including the Chauffeur, sat down to Prunes every Morning.
But they were very Happy, for they were recognized in almost every Cafe and their Relatives in the East were sending Christmas Cards.
MORAL: Some achieve Greatness and others have it Rubbed in.
THE BOY WHO WAS TOLD
Once there was a Boy who had been told twice a Day ever since he could remember that if he started to go into one of those Doggeries with swinging Doors in front and Mirrors along the Side, a Blue Flame would shoot out and burn him to a Cinder.
Also he had been warned that every Playing Card in the whole Deck was a Complimentary Ticket admitting one to a Hot Griddle in the Main Parquette of the Fiery Furnace.
And every little Paper Cigar was another Spike in the Burial Casket.
With seven or eight Guardians trailing him Day and Night to keep him away from the Lures of the Wicked World it looked like a Pipe that he would grow up to be the Dean of a Theological Seminary.
Across the Street lived a poor unfortunate Lad whose Father was making the Futile Endeavor to take it away faster than the Revenue Officers could put Stamps on it. He was the original Blotter. When they were trying to pry him away from it, he would take a chance on anything from Arnica to Extract of Vanilla.
According to all the Laws of Heredity the only Son was cast for the Part of Joe Morgan.
He is now the Head of a Mail-Order House. When he sees a Corkscrew he pulls his Hat firmly over his Ears and runs a Mile.
The Graduate of the Lecture Bureau may be found in a swagger Club any evening with a Bourbon H. B. at his Right, a stack of Student Lamps at his Left and Two Small Pair pressed closely against his Bosom.
MORAL: The Modern Ambition seems to be to vary the Program.
THE NIGHT GIVEN OVER TO REVELRY
All those who had Done Time at a certain endowed Institution for shaping and polishing Highbrows had to close in once a Year for a Banquet. They called it a Banquet because it would have been a Joke to call it a Dinner.
The Invitations looked like real Type-Writing and called upon all the Loyal Sons of Old Bohunkus to dig up 3 Sesterces and get ready for a Big Night.
To insure a Riot of spontaneous Gaiety the following Organization was effected:
Committee on Invitation. Committee on Reception. Committee on Lights and Music. Committee on Speakers. Committee on Decorations. Committee on Police Protection. Committee on First Aid to Injured. Committee on Maynew. Committee on Liquid Nourishment.
Each Committee held numerous Meetings, at the Call of the Chairman, and discussed the impeding Festivities with that solemn regard for piffling Detail which marked the Peace Conference at The Hague.
The Frolic was to be perpetrated at a Hotel famous for the number of Electric Lights.
The Hour was to be 6:30, Sharp, so that by 6:45, four old Grads, with variegated Belshazzars, were massed together in the Egyptian Room trying to fix the Date upon which Doctor Milo Lobsquosset became Emeritus Professor of Saracenic Phlobotomy.
Along about 7:30, a Sub-Committee wearing Satin Badges was sent downstairs to round up some recent Alumni who were trying to get a Running Start, and at 7:45 a second Detachment was sent out to find the Rescue Party.
Finally at 8 o'clock the glad Throng moved into the Main Banquet Hall, which was a snug Apartment about the size of the Mammoth Cave of Kentucky, done in Gold and various shades of Pink, to approximate the Chambermaid's Dream of Paradise. The style of Ornamentation was that which precipitated the French Revolution.
Beside each Plate was a blond Decoction named in honor of the Martini Rifle, which is guaranteed to kill at a Distance of 2,000 Yards. The compounding had been done in a Churn early that morning and the Temperature was that of the Room, in compliance with the Dictates of Fashion.
Those who partook of the Hemlock were given Courage to battle with the Oysters. These came in Sextettes, wearing a slight Ptomaine Pallor. On the 20th Proximo they had said good-bye to their Friends in Baltimore and for Hours they had been lying naked and choked with thirst in their little Canoes and now they were to enter the great Unknown, without pity from the Votaries of Pleasure.
Luckily the Consomme was not hot enough to scald the Thumbs of the jovial Stevedores who had been brought in as Extras, so the Feast proceeded merrily, many of the Participants devoting their spare Moments to bobbing for Olives or pulling the Twine out of the Celery.
The Fish had a French Name, having been in the Cold Storage Bastile for so long. Each Portion wore a heavy Suit of Armor, was surrounded by Library Paste and served as a Tee for two Golf Balls billed as Pommes de Terre.
It was a regular Ban-quet, so, there was not getting away from Filet de Biff aux Champignons. It was brought on merely to show what an American Cook with a Lumber-Camp Training could do to a plain slice of Steer after reading a Book written by a Chef.
Next, in accordance with honored Traditions, a half-melted Snowball impregnated with Eau de Quinine.
Just about the time that the White Vinegar gave way to the Aniline Dye, a nut headed Swozzie, who could get into Matteawan without Credentials, moved down the Line of Distinguished Guests asking for Autographs. His Example was followed by 150 other Shropshires, so that for the next 30 Minutes the Festal Chamber resembled the Auditing Department of a large Mercantile Establishment.
During this Period, the Department of Geology in the University was honored by the appearance of a genuine petrified Quail. And the Head Lettuce carried the Personal Guarantee of the Goodyear Rubber Co.
Between the Rainbow Ice Cream and the Calcareous Fromage, a member of the class of '08, who could not Sing, arose and did so.
Then each Guest had to take a Tablespoonful of Cafe Noir and two Cigars selected by a former Student who had promised his Mother never to use Tobacco.
It was now 10 o'clock and time to go Home. Those who had started to tune up along in the Afternoon were dying on the Vine. Others, who had tried to catch even on the $3 Ticket, felt as if they had been loaded with Pig Iron. Up at the Long Table enough Speakers to supply a Chautauqua Circuit were feeling of themselves to make sure that the Manuscript had not been lost. Each thought that he was the Orator of the Evening.
The Committee had put on the Toast Program every one who might possibly take Offense at not being Asked.
Also they had selected as Toastmaster a beaming Broncho whose Vocal Chords were made of seasoned Moose-Hide and who remembered all the black-face Gravy that Billy Rice used to lam across to Lew Benedict when Niblo's Garden was first opened.
After every 30-minute Address he would spend ten minutes in polite kidding of the Last Speaker and then another 10 Minutes in climbing a Mountain Height from which to present the Next Speaker.
Along about Midnight the Cowards and Quitters began crawling out of Side Doors, but most of the Loyal Sons of Old Bohunkus propped themselves up and tried to be Game.
Before 1 o'clock a Member of the Faculty put them on the Ropes with 40 Minutes on projected Changes in the Curriculum.
At 1:30 the Toastmaster was making Speech No. 8 and getting ready to spring the Oldest Living Graduate.
Protected by all the Gray Hair that was left to him, he began to Reminisce, going back to the Days when it was considered a Great Lark to put a Cow in the Chapel.
The Toastmaster arrived home at 3 A. M. and aroused his Wife to tell her that it had been a Great Success.
MORAL: If they were paid $3 a Head to stand for it, no one would attend.
HE SHOULD HAVE OVERSLEPT
One Morning a Precinct Parasite owing Allegiance to a Political Party of Progressive Principles went around to the dinge office of a Fuel Supply Co. to pull off the customary Fake Primary.
He was met at the Door by a broad-faced Lady of benevolent Mien and black Ribbons on her Nose-Glasses, who told him to use the Mat and not track up the Place.
"What is the Idea?" asked the alcoholic Henchman, looking vainly about for Bottle-Nose Curley, Mike the Pike, and Smitty the Dip, who always had been his Associates in the sacred Task of registering the Will of the People.
Instead of the old familiar strong-arm Phalanx, he saw a Bevy of plump Joans who were hanging Chintz Curtains, arranging a neat design of Sweet Peas around the Ballot Box and getting ready to fire up a Samovar. When he glanced into the Polling Booth and saw that it was draped with Doilies he nearly had a Hemorrhage.
"This is the Glad Day you have heard so much about," replied Laura Chivington Cadbury, displaying her dainty Badge, which showed that she was a Judge. "You will be expected to wear Gray Gloves with a Morning Coat and put a Carnation in your Lapel. As the Voters arrive, you will softly inquire their Names and lead them along the Receiving Line and make sure that each is given either a Macaroon or an Olive."
That evening when they sorted the Votes, and decided to throw out all that were Soiled or folded Improperly, he was over in a corner making out a list of Guests for the waiting Reporters.
MORAL: Equal Suffrage will have a demoralizing Effect upon one of the principal Sexes.
THE DANCING MAN
Once there was a Porch Rat, who was also a Parlor Snake and a Hammock Hellion. He worked the popular Free Lunch Routes for thirty years before deciding to hook up and begin paying for his own Food and Drink.
When he started flitting from Bud to Debutante to Ingenue to Fawn to Broiler to Kiddykadee back in 1880, he was a famous Beau with skin- tight Trousers, a white Puff Tie run through a Gold Ring and a Hat lined with Puff Satin, the same as a Child's Coffin.
In 1890 he was parting his Hair in the Middle, in imitation of a good Bird Dog, and had been promoted to the Veteran Corps of the iron-legged Dancing Men and the insatiable Diners-Out. He would eat on his Friends about six Nights in each Week, and repay them every Christmas by sending a Card showing a Frozen Stream in the Foreground, and Evergeen Trees beyond.
In 1900 he was beginning to sit out some Numbers. Also, when he got into his Evening Togs, his general Contour suggested that possibly he had just swallowed a full-sized Watermelon without slicing it up. But he was still Johnny-answer-the-bell when it came to Dancing Parties.
In 1910 he carried a little Balloon under each Eye and walked as if he had Gravel in his Shoes. He was still trying to be Game, although he had a different kind of Digestive Tablet in each Pocket and would rather tackle Bridge than the Barn Dance.
The Path was becoming Lonely and the whispering Tress seemed tall and forbidding. He decided to whistle for a Companion. The Dear Girls had been dogging him for three Decades and he decided to let one of them have her Wish at last.
He hunted up one aged 24 and broke the Glad News to her and she told him not to rattle his Crutches over the Mosaic Floor as he went out the Front Way.
He is now living at a Club organized as a Home for Men who have Gone Wrong.
When he pushes the Button the Bell Hops match to see who will be Stuck.
MORAL: There is an Age Limit, even for Men.
Once in the dim dead Days beyond Recall, there lived a blue-eyed Gazook named Steve.
We refer to the Period preceding the Uplift, when the Candidate wearing the largest collar was the People's Choice for Alderman.
A Good Citizen wishing to open a Murder Parlor needed a couple of Black Bottles, a Barrel of Sawdust and a Pull at the City Hall.
When he opened up, he threw the Key in the River and arranged to have the Bodies taken out through the Alley so as not to impede Traffic in the Main Thoroughfares.
Twelve months every Year marked the Open Season for every Game from Pitch-and-Toss to Manslaughter.
Any one in search of Diversion could roll Kelly Pool at 10 Cents a Cue in the Morning, go to the Track in the Afternoon, take in a 20-round Scrap in the Evening and then Shoot at the Wheel a few times before backing into the Flax.
The Police were instructed to make sure that all Push-Cart Peddlers were properly Licensed.
Steve roamed the Wide-Open Town and spread his Bets both ways from the Jack.
When he cut the String and began to back his Judgment he knew no Limit except the Milky Way. Any time he rolled them, you could hear considerable Rumble.
All the Bookies, Barkeeps, Bruisers, and the Boys sitting on the Moonlight Rattlers knew him by his First Name and had him tagged as a Producer and a Helva Nice Fellow.
Steve heard vague Rumors that certain Stiffs who hurried home before Midnight and wore White Mufflers, were trying to put the Town on the Fritz and Can all the Live Ones, but he did not dream that a Mug who went around in Goloshes and drank Root Beer could put anything across with the Main Swivel over at the Hall.
O, the Rude Awakening!
One day he was in a Pool Room working on the Form Sheet with about 150 other Students and getting ready to back Sazerack off the Boards in the Third at Guttenberg, when some Blue Wagons backed up and Steve told the Desk Sergeant, a few Minutes later, that his Name was Andrew Jackson.
Next Day he had a Wire from a Trainer but when he went to the old familiar Joint, the Plain Clothes Men gave him the Sign to Beat it and he turned away, throbbing with Indignation.
The down-town Books were being raided but the Angoras kept on galloping at the Track, so he rode out on the Train every day in order to preserve his Rights as a free-born American.
One Day just as he was Peeling from his Roll in front of the Kentucky Club, in order to grab Gertie Glue at 8 to 5, Lightning struck the Paddock and laid out the entire Works.
When the Touts and the Sheet-Writers and the Sure-Thingers came to and began to ask Questions, it was discovered that the Yap Legislature had killed the Racing Game and ordered all the Regulars to go to Work.
Steve went back to Town in a dazed Condition to hunt up the Gang and find out what could be done to put out the Fire.
When he arrived at the Hang-Out there was a Flag at Half-Mast. The Roost had been nailed up for keeping open after Eleven o'Clock!
A few Evenings after that he sauntered up to a large Frame Building to look at a couple of Boys who had promised to make 135 Ringside.
A Cannon was planted at the Main Chute and the Street was filled with Department Store Employees disguised as Soldiers.
The Governor had called out the Militia in order to prevent a Blot being put upon the Fair Name of the Commonwealth.
With the Selling-Platers turned out to Pasture, the Brace-Box and the Pinch Wheel lying in the Basement at Central Station, the Pugs going back to the Foundry and all the Street Lamps being taken in at Midnight, no wonder Steve was hard pushed to find Innocent Amusement.
He started to hang around a Broker's Office but it was no Fun to bet on a Turn-Up when you couldn't watch the Shuffle. Besides, the Game was Cold and was being fiercely denounced by the Press.
For a Time he kept warm in a Bowling Alley. Drive a Man into a Corner and goad him to Desperation and he will go so far as to Bowl, provided that he lives in a German Neighborhood.
One Evening he went down to see the Walhallas go against the Schwabens, but the Place was Dark.
The Authorities had interfered.
It seemed that the Manufacture of Bowling Balls involved the Destruction of the Hardwood Forests, while the Game itself overtaxed certain Important Muscles ending with "alis," at the same time encouraging Profanity and the use of 5-cent Cigars.
Steve had one Stand-By left to him. He could prop himself up on the Bleachers with a bag of lubricated Pop-Corn between his Knees and hurl insulting Remarks at Honus Wagner, Joe Tinker and Ty Cobb.
When he crawled up in the 50-cent Seats he found the same old Bunch that used to answer Roll Call at the Pool Room, the Sharkey Club, and the Betting Ring.
The Law had made them Decent Citizens, but it hadn't made them any easier to look at.
Steve longed for the Ponies and the good old Prelims between the Trial Horses, with Blood dripping from the Ropes, but when he picked up the Pink Sporting Page in the Morning, all he could find was that the Sacred Heart Academy has wrested the Basket-Ball Trophy away from the West Division High School.
Base Ball is only Near-Sport to one who has whanged the Wise Ikes that mark up the Odds. Steve went to it because there was nothing else on the Cards.
One Day he found every entrance to the Park guarded by a Blue Burly and the Crowds being turned away.
The Health Department had put in a Knock on the Game, on the Ground that the Ball, after being handled by various Players and passed from one to the other, carried with it dangerous Microbes.
The Officials insisted that, after every Play, the Ball should be treated with an Antiseptic or else that each Player should have an Individual Ball and allow no one else to touch it.
The Society for the Protection of the Young had put up a Howl because the Game diverted the Attention of Urchins from their Work in the Public Schools and tended to encourage Mendacity among Office Boys.
The Concatenated Order of High-Brows had represented to the proper Authorities that, as a result of widespread Interest in the demoralizing Pastime, ordinary Conversation on the tail-end of a Trolley Car was becoming unintelligible to University Graduates, and the Reports in the Daily Press had passed beyond the Ken of a mere Student of the English Language.
The Medical Society certified that eight out of ten Men had shattered their Nervous Systems, split their Vocal Cords and developed Moral Astigmatism, all because of the Paroxysms resulting from Partisan Fervor. Either build an Asylum in every Block or else liberate the present Inmates of all the Nut-Colleges. It was not fair to keep the Quiet Ones locked up while the raving Bugs were admitted to the Grand Stand every Afternoon.
Under the Circumstances, a purely Paternal Administration could do only One Thing. It put Base Ball out of Business.
On the very next Afternoon the unquenchable demand for Sport asserted itself.
Steve went into the Back Yard with his eldest Son and looked about cautiously.
"Is the Look-Out stationed on the Fence?" he asked.
"Is the Garden Gate securely locked?"
"Are the Mallets properly muffled?"
"Then t'hell with the Law! We'll have a Game of Croquet."
MORAL: If it is in the Blood, the only Remedy is the substitution of Iced Tea.
HOW ALBERT SAT IN
Once upon a Time there was a Bright Young Lawyer of ordinary Good Looks and Modest Bank Account who regarded the so-called Smart Set with scorching Contempt.
Our Hero, whose name was Albert, refused to fall for the Parlor Game.
Now there resided in this Town a certain High Priestess of the Socially Elect and a Queen Bee of the Cotillion Tribe. Whatever she said, Went. No one could lay claim to any Class in this Town until he had seated himself at one of her Dinners, with the $28,000 Gold Service in front of him, and dissected a French Artichoke right down to the Foundation.
One Evening while Albert was burning up the Local Aristocracy he made the Crack that, if he wanted to go in for such Tommy-rot, he could be Dining with the aforesaid Dowager Duchess within a Year. His Friends hooted at the Suggestion and the Outcome of the Controversy was a Wager. Albert was to storm the Citadel and land inside before the Expiration of Twelve Months or else blow the whole Gang to a high- priced Feed.
Next Sunday he began to take Part in the High Church Ceremonies and wait on the Steps to make a Fuss over the Women whose Names appeared on the List of Patronesses.
He ignored the Buds and Debutantes and worked overtime to Solidify himself with the Matrons.
Whenever there was anything Doing that required the Services of a Hand-Shaker or Errand Boy he was right there with the Dark Cutaway and a fresh Gardenia.
In a Month he had a Foothold and was serving on Committees with Colonial Dames and Relatives of the American Revolution.
He was Dependable. Any time an Extra Man was needed he came bursting in with Kind Words for all the Elderly People. He made Party Calls and left his Card and told the Secrets of his Heart to Women who were old enough to Understand.
Consequently he had eighteen or twenty Boosters working for him.
At the end of Six Months he was a Regular at some of the Best Homes and was beginning to send Regrets to those below Class A.
Looking down from his Serene Elevation he realized that he had made a Mistake in camping so long in the Valley.
When the Year was up he was acting as Volunteer Secretary and Whispering Soothsayer to the Queen Bee and had won his Bet by a Mile.
His Former Associates stood ready to make Good on the Food, but, when they asked him to name an Evening, he looked them over and could not find them entered in the Blue Book, so he turned them down cold and pulled the Old One about a Previous Engagement.
MORAL: One never can tell from the Sidewalk just what the View is to some one on the Inside, looking out.
THE TREASURE IN THE STRONG BOX
Once there was a Hireling at the tail-end of a Pay Roll who longed to get a Chunk of Money so that he could own a House and pick out his own Wall-Paper.
He read an Ad in a Religious Weekly. It said to Hurry and get a Slice of the Bullkon Mining Company because on July 1st the Price would be whooped from $1 a Share to $2.75. The Guggenheims wanted it but the Directors preferred to slip it to the American People.
The Property was right up against some other Property so rich that the Workmen engaged in lifting out the Precious Metal had to wear Goggles to keep from being blinded.
The Man fell for it. He rushed to the Savings Bank and drew his Wad and sent it to a Man with several Chins, who had to sit at a Desk for nearly an hour each Day taking Money out of Envelopes.
The Stockholder received a Certificate. It had at the Top an Engraving of a Lady spilling Golden Nuggets out of a Cornucopia and below was a Seal and the Signatures of all the Officers of the Company. Any one standing off ten Feet from this Certificate couldn't have told it from a 1915 Bond of the Pennsylvania Company.
Every Week the Stockholder found in his Mail a Report from the Expert in charge of Shaft No. 13 in the Skiddykadoo Fields showing that the Assay ran $42.16 and the Main Lateral had been opened as far as the Mezzanine Drift, which meant that the $1 Shares would be selling around $85 before the Holidays.
Whereupon he would pinch out some of the Money about to be frittered away on Dress Goods and Cereals and send it to J. Etherington Cuticle, Promoter, who was thus enabled to have a new Collar put on his Fur Coat.
In course of Time the incipient Monte Cristo had a Bale of Certificates. He could borrow a Pencil and figure out, in a few Minutes, that when the Stock went to Par (as per Prospectus) he would land a few feet behind Hetty Green and somewhat in advance of the First National Bank.
While he was waiting for Dame Fortune, with the Sheet wrapped around her, to begin rolling it out of the Cornucopia, as advertised on the One-Sheets, he inadvertently up and died.
The Administrator and the Brother-in-Law went over the stuff at the Safety Deposit. They checked all the Items from the outlawed Note down to the Delinquent Tax Notice and then advised the Widow to pick out a nice lucrative Position in a Hand Laundry.
Two Years passed by. The Family was now living in Comfort. Down in a Bureau Drawer, with the Dance Programs and the High School Diplomas, reposed the Stock Certificates of the Bullkon Gold and Silver Mining and Development Company, Inc.
The Widow had been tempted to use them on the Shelves, but every time she looked at the Litho of the Benevolent Female dumping the $20 Gold Pieces out of the Cornucopia, and saw the Seal, and alongside of it the majestic Signature of J. Etherington Cuticle, and noted that the total Face Value was $80,000, she would replace the Elastic and decide to Wait.
One day a soft-spoken Gentleman met her as she returned from her Daily Toil and said that a Syndicate was about to take over all the Holdings of the Bullkon G. and S. M. and D. Co., Inc., and stood ready to purchase her Stock.
With trembling Hands she undid the Bundle. It took a long time to make the Count but when he got it all straightened out and figured up, he looked her straight in the Eye and said: "It comes out to One Dollar and Eighty-Two Cents."
MORAL: Fiction is stranger than Truth.
THE OLD-FASHIONED PROSECUTOR
One morning a great Judge, who had been promoted to the Bench because he could not connect as a Lawyer, climbed up on his Perch and directed the Lord High Sheriff to feed him a few Defendants.
"We have rounded up a tough bunch of Ginks," said the Attorney for the Commonwealth. "I shall ask your Honor to Soak them good and proper."
The first to be led in was a grinning Imp with a wide Mouth, large Freckles and flapping Ears.
It was proven that he stuck Pins into his Grandmother and blew up Elderly Gentlemen with Cannon Crackers and set fire to Houses and was a hard Nut in general. The Prosecutor suggested a Dungeon with Bread and Water.
Up spoke the Prisoner as follows: "I defy you to lay a Hand on me. I am the Stand-By of the Comic Artist and the Star Attraction of the Colored Supplement. When I pull the Step-Ladder from under some Honest Workingman, causing him to break his Leg, or hit a Stout Lady in the Eye with a Brick, please remember that I am bringing Sunshine into thousands of Homes. As I go on my way, committing Arson, Mayhem, and Assault, with Intent to Kill, I am greeted by Peals of Childish Laughter. When you put me out of Business, you will be handing the Circulation an awful Wallop. I am not a Criminal; I am an Institution."
"I remember you very well," said the Judge. "You are my Excuse for buying the Paper. While the Kids are busy with you, I look up Packey McFarland and One-Round Hogan."
Just as the Celebrated Juvenile hit the Fresh Air the second Defendant came into The Dock, taking long sneaky Strides and undulating like a Roller Coaster. She was a tall Gal and very Pale, with Belladonna Optics and her Hair shook out and a fine rhythmical Bellows Movement above the Belt Line.
"She is a raving Beetle," explained the Prosecutor. "She wants to go out doors every Night and count the Moon and pull some of that shine Magazine Poetry. Every time she sees anybody named Eric or Geoffrey she does a Swoon, accompanied by the customary Low Cry, and later on, in her own Boudoir, which is Richly Furnished, she bursts into a Torrent of Weeping. If you start her on a Conversation about Griddle Cakes she will wind up by giving a Diagnosis of Soul-Hunger. She is a Candidate for Padded Cell No. 1 in the big Foolish House. If she continues at Large she may accidentally marry some poor misguided Clarence, and then, if there are any Children, the Neighbors will have to take care of them."
"Do you not recognize me?" asked the Prisoner in low musical Tones, fixing a passionate Gaze on the Court. "I am the Heroine of a Best Seller. If I did not have these large Porcelain Orbs and the Bosom heaving in Rag Time and the Hair swirling in Glorious Profusion, do you suppose that a Member of the Upsilon Pajama Sorority would sit up until 1 A. M. with Me and a Bottle of Queen Olives and a Box of Chocs? If I made up like an ordinary Sadie and talked Straight Stuff, do you think I could last through Ten Editions? I may not be Human, but I can raise the Temperature of every Flathead from Bangor to San Antone."
"You are dead right," said the Court. "We couldn't keep house without you."
So she proceeded to exit, sneeringly, her Garments rustling and a faint Aroma of Violets lingering in her Wake, just as it does in the Red Book that sells for $1.50.
The next Prisoner was a big handsome Buck with his Clothes recently pressed and many Gloves.
"I want a Life Sentence for this Guy," said the learned Prosecutor. "He is so crooked that a Straight Edge would cut him in a thousand places. He would bite an Ear-Ring off of a Debutante or blow open a Family Vault to unscrew the Handles from the Casket containing Father. He promotes phoney Corporations and sells Florida Orange Groves that have Crocodiles swimming around on top of them. He is a prize Bunk, a two-handed Grafter, a Short-Change Artist and a Broadway Wolf. Slip him the Limit."
"You've got me wrong, Steve," said the Prisoner, softly. "I used to be a Depraved Character, but now I am the Big Hero. Under the revised Code of Morals a Handy Boy who goes out and trims a Boob for everything in his Kick becomes recognized as a Comedy Hit and every Seat on the Lower Floor goes for two Bones. Instead of doing a Lock-Step to and from the Broom Factory, I work up to a Dress Suit Finish and marry the Swell Dame. And the Mob is with me. If it came to a Straw Vote between me and Lyman Abbott, I would win by a City Block."
"The Gentleman speaks the Truth," said the Court. "In this Fair Land we forgive a Man anything if his Work has Class. Instead of committing you to the Pen, I shall arrange to spend the Evening with you."
The next was a tall snaky Female with black Beads all over her Person and she was smoking a Cigarette, half closing her Eyes as she blew Rings toward the Ceiling.
"Judge, she is some Brazen Hussey, believe me," said the Prosecutor. "After turning Flip-Flops around the Ten Commandments for fifteen years she married a Good Man and put him on the Fritz. Her regular Job is to loll on a Divan and turn the Coaxing Eye on some poor Geezer who is wandering from Drawing Room to Drawing Room, trying to have his Life wrecked. Please send her up. She is a Menace to Respectable Society."
The Prisoner looked at him in haughty Disdain.
"I am not a Low Woman," she said, proudly. "I am a Matinee Favorite. The Best People in our City hang their Chins over the Seats in front and cry softly whenever I get into Trouble. Don't lock me up or they will be lonesome."
"Go, woman, and keep on Sinning," said the Court, in a kind Voice.
Then, turning to the Defender of the General Good, he said. "You are two years behind the Procession. Hereafter arrest only Business Men who have been Successful."
MORAL: Criminality is merely a Side-Issue.
THE UNRUFFLED WIFE AND THE GALLUS HUSBAND
One day a Married Woman who was entitled to a long row of Service Stripes on her Sleeve, sat in the Motor, and watched the remainder of the Sketch try out his new trick Monoplane.
He scooted away with the Buzzer working overtime and soon was cloud- hopping about a Mile overhead.
When he began doing the Eagle Swoops and the Corkscrew Dips, which so often serve as a Prelude to a good First Page Story with a picture of the Remains being sorted out from the Debris, most of the Spectators gasped and felt their Toes curling inside of their Shoes, but Wifey never batted an Eye. With only one little Strand of Wire or perchance a Steering Knuckle standing between her and a lot of Insurance Money, she retained both her Aplomb and the Lorgnette.
"How can you bear to watch it?" asked a Lady Friend, who was heaving perceptibly.
"Listen," replied the Good Woman. "For many Snows I have been sitting on the Side Lines watching the Dear Boy take Desperate Chances. To begin with, he married into Our Family. Once, at Asbury Park, he acted as Judge at a Baby Show. Later he put a lot of Money into a Bank, the President of which wore Throat Whiskers and was opposed to Sunday Base Ball. He has played Golf on Public Links, hunted Deer during the Open Season in the Adirondacks and essayed the Role of Claude Melnotte in Amateur Theatricals. Once he attended a Clam Bake and took everything that was Passed. An another time he made a Speech when the Alumni celebrated a Foot Ball Victory. Frequently he goes Shopping with me. Last year he acted as Angel for a Musical Comedy. The Driver of our Car is a Frenchman. And don't overlook the Fact that for Six Years he has been a Stock Broker. He may fall at any Moment, but if he does he will pick out a Haystack on the way down."
MORAL: The Wright Brothers were not the first to be Up in the Air.
BOOKS MADE TO BALANCE
Once there was a Husky employed to crack the Whip around a smoky Works that did not offer an attractive Vista from the Car Window, although it blossomed with a fragrant crop of Dividends every time the Directors got together in the Back Room.
Most of the American Workingmen employed in this Hive of Industry came from remote parts of Europe. Each wore his Head entirely in front of his Ears and had taken an Oath to support the Constitution.
It was the duty of the Husky to keep these imported Rabbits on the Jump and increase the Output.
He made himself so strong that he was declared In every time a Melon was sliced, and when it came time to Scramble the Eggs and pull of the grand Whack-Up, he was standing at the head of the Line with a Basket on his Arm.
So it came about that one who started in a Thatched Cottage and grew up on cold Spuds and never saw a Manicure Set until he was 38 years of age, went home one day to find Gold Fish swimming about in every Room and Servants blocking the Hallways.
He had some trouble finding Rings that would go over his Knuckles and the Silk Kind felt itchy for quite a while, but finally he adjusted himself to his new Prosperity and began to deplore the apparent Growth of Socialism.
This rugged and forceful Character, to whom the Muck-Rakers referred as a Baron, had a Daughter who started out as Katie when she carried the Hot Coffee over to Dad every Noon.
When she got her first Chip Diamond and Father switched from the Dudeen to Cigars, she was known in High School Circles as Katherine.
And when Pop got in on the main Divvy and began to take an interest in Paintings, the name went down on the Register at the Waldorf as Kathryn, in those peaked Sierra Nevada Letters about four inches high.
Katie used to go to St. Joseph's Hall once in a while with Martin, the Lad who helped around the Grocery.
Katherine regarded with much Favor a Pallid Drug Clerk who acted as a Clearing House for all Local Scandal.
But say, when Kathyrn came back from a vine-clad Institute overlooking the historic Hudson and devoted to the embossing and polishing of the Female Progeny of those who have got away with it, she began working the Snuffer on all the Would-Bes back in the Mill Town. When she got through extinguishing, the little Group that remained looked like the Remnant of the Old Guard at Waterloo.
Father had to stick around because occasionally the eight thousand Good Tempered Boys on the Pay Roll would begin to burn with Wood Alcohol and the Wrongs of Labor and pull off a few Murders, merely to hasten the Triumph of Justice.
By the way, Kathryn had a Mother who used to hide in a room upstairs and timidly inspect her new Silk Dresses.
Kathryn applied the Acid Test to her People and decided that they never could Belong.
She swung on the General Manager for a Letter of Credit big enough to set Ireland free and went traipsing off to the Old World under the chaperonage of a New York Lady who had seen Better Days.
Now it will be admitted that William J. Burns is Some Sleuth, but when it comes to apprehending and running to Earth a prattling American Ingenue with a few Millions stuffed in her Reticule, the Boy with the mildewed Title who sits on the Boulevard all day and dallies with the green and pink Bottled Goods has got it all over Burns like a Striped Awning.
All the starving members of the Up-Against-It Association were waiting at the Dock to cop the prospective Meal Ticket. Not one of them had ever Shaved or Worked and each wore his Handkerchief inside his Cuff and had Yellow Gloves stitched down the Back, and was fully entitled to sit in an Electric Chair and have 80,000 Volts distributed through the Steel Ribs of his Corset.
As soon as Kathryn began to meet the Roqueforts and Camemberts she discovered that they had Lovely Eyes and certainly knew how to treat a Lady.
Kathryn had been brought up on Philadelphia Literature, and even during her most ambitious Social Flights she had encountered the Type of Man who remains on the opposite side of the Room having trouble with his White Gloves.
She never had been against those Willing Performers from Gascony who wore Red Ribbons and Medals and who rushed over to kiss the Hand and then look deep into her Eyes and throb like a Motor Boat.
This class of Work simply shot her Pulse up to 130 and made her think that she was Cleopatra, floating in the Royal Barge and surrounded by Crawling Slaves.
When a certain Markee crawled into her Lap and purred into her Ear and threatened to curl up on the Rug and die if she Refused him, she simply keeled over with Excitement.
After she recovered, she found herself actually Engaged to the Representative of one of the Oldest Families in the Saucisson District of the Burgoo Province and as manly a Chap as ever borrowed Money from a Toe-Dancer.
She hurried home to keep it out of the Newspapers and to tell those who would listen that American Men were Impossible. Then the Markee came over with his Solicitor and a Bottle of Chloroform and a full kit of Surgical Instruments, and the Wedding was fully reported by the Associated Press.
The Captain of Industry sized up Son-in-Law, and knew that when the Money was gone the Markee could always get a job hanging up Hats in the Check-Room of a first-class Table d'Hote Restaurant.
From the window of her Chateau in the Burgoo Province the Lady Cashier can see the American Tourists going by in their hired Motor Cars. Her Cheek flushes with Delight when she happens to remember that in another Three Months or so, Friend Husband will come home long enough to show her where to sign her Name.
What is more, she has the Privilege of walking out at any time and picking Flowers with the Understanding that she is not to let it be known that she is related to any of her Relatives on either side of the Atlantic.
MORAL: Europeans made the Money and they had a Right to pull it down.
THE TWO UNFETTERED BIRDS
Once there was a Girl with a gleaming New Hampshire Forehead who used to exchange helpful Books with a studious young Man who had an Intellect of high Voltage.
It will not be necessary to name these Gazooks, as you never heard of them.
Laura and Edgar were Comrades, in a way. They met under the Student Lamp and talked about Schopenhauer and Walter Pater, but the Affair never got beyond that Point. It was not even warm enough to be called Platonic. It carried about as much Romantic Suggestion as a cold Hot Water Bag.
There grew up between them merely a Fellowship of the Super-Mind, or what a Wimp wearing Tortoise-Shell Spectacles would call Cosmahogany.
Having cleared away the Underbrush, we will now proceed with the Narrative.
Like every other Member of the Tribe of Mansard Mentalities, they regarded with much Contempt the School of Popular Fiction.
Do you think they would stand for any of that old-style Guff about Sir Ralph getting the Hammer-Lock on Dorothy just outside the Loggia? Not on your Thought Waves!
They regarded the Article commonly called Love as a lingering Symptom of some primeval Longing for Parlor Entertainment.
It was agreed that each Soul was free and independent, and had a right to run on its own private Time-Table.
Laura said she was going to live her Life in her own Way and that no Wallopus in striped Trousers could leave her marooned in a Flat, working under Sealed Orders.
Edgar did not choose to carry Overweight while working out his Career and grew faint at the very Thought of shouldering a lot of Domestic Responsibilities.
Marriage was an institution devised for Strap-Hangers who wanted to get their Names into the Paper.
It was a childish Refuge for those who lacked Courage to forsake the beaten Paths and strike out for the High Spots.
It will be seen that they were somewhat Advanced. As far back as 1890 they were living in the 21st Century.
Laura went in for Club Work and Cold Baths and Card-Indexing.
She felt sorry for the Married Women. They were always fussed up over getting a Laundress or telling about new cases of Scarlet Rash or else 'phoning the Office to make sure that the Bread-Winner was at the Desk and behaving himself.
When she let down her Hair at Night she did not have to do any checking up or put the bottle of Squills on the Radiator.
She was Free and Happy. A little lonesome on Rainy Days, but the freest thing you ever saw and she had her Books.
Edgar looked about him and saw the Slaves of Matrimony watching the Clock and getting ready to duck at 11 P. M. and rejoiced inwardly.
He could land in at his little Independence Hall at 4 G. M., and turn on all the Lights and drape his Wardrobe over the Rugs and light Cigarettes and there was not a Voice to break the celestial Stillness.
He figured that Children must be an awful Worry.
He brooded over the Kid Proposition so much that soon after he was 30 years of Age he used to go around and borrow his Nephews and Nieces and take them to the Circus and buy expensive Presents for them and upset the Household Rules.
Occasionally he would take a new Book dealing with the Higher Things of Life up to his old friend Laura and he would find her feeding the Birds, with the Cat asleep in the Corner and an imported Dog with many Curls pre-empting the principal Chair.
They would discuss Prison Reform and Kipling and other Subjects in no way related to the awakening of the Maternal Instinct.
When he owned up to 40 and she had stopped talking about it, the Reading Habit was no longer a Novelty with him, so merely to kill Time, he was acting on the Visiting Board of an Orphan Asylum and was a Director of the Fresh Air Fund and was putting the Office Boy through a Business College.
About the same time Laura was made the victim of a Conspiracy.
A designing Day Laborer and his Wife deliberately up and died, leaving a Chick of a Daughter, all helpless and alone.
Laura simply had to go over and grab the Young One and play Mother to her, because it all happened hardly a Mile from her own Door-Step.
She had been dodging these commonplace and old-fashioned Responsibilities all her Life and now cruel Circumstances compelled her to spend Hours in servile Attentions to a stray Specimen.
Of course, she had the Expert Advice of her old friend Edgar, who made out the Adoption Papers and sent a lot of Merchandise up to the House, out of the promptings of a broad and general sentiment of Pity for the Unfortunate.
Even when they stood up to be Married they were still stringing themselves.
He was bald and grizzled and she was a little droopy around the Shoulders and had not been able to massage away the more important Wrinkles.
They scouted the Suggestion that it was a Love Match.
It seemed that she needed a Night Watchman and he was afraid to be alone in the Dark with the Memories of the Past.
MORAL: After you pass 40 you must take charge of something Human, even if it is only a Chauffeur.
THE TELLTALE TINTYPE
Once there was a worried Parent whose only Son could not quite make up his Mind whether to join a High School Frat or go on the Stage.
He was at the long-legged Age and walked Loose and stepped on his own Feet, and whenever he walked briskly across the Floor to ask some Tessie to dance with him, every one crowded back against the Wall to avoid getting one on the Shin.
He combed his Hair straight back, like a Sea Lion, and in Zero Weather wore a peculiar type of Low Shoe with a Hard-Boiled Egg in the Toe.
His overcoat was of Horse Blanket material with a Surcingle, and the Hat needed a Hair Cut and a Shave. When he topped off his Mardi Gras Combination with a pair of Yellow Gloves that sounded like a Cry for Help and went teetering down the Street, his Father would vent Delight over the Fact that the Legislature had passed Game Laws.
One day at Luncheon Father got so Steamy that he had to blow off. So he opened up on Son and practically wiped him off the Map. He sure burned him Alive.
He kidded the whole Make-Up and said he was the Male Parent of a Champion Gillie, whatever that is.
He said the Hat was a Scream and the Overcoat was a Riot and the overlapping Collar with the dinky Four-in-Hand was a Comic Supplement, and why had such a Freak been wished on to a hard-headed Business Man.
He laughed brutally at the low comedy Shoes with the swollen Promontories and the Trousers with the double Reef and the folding Cuffs and the Hair with the Patent-Leather Gloss.
Mother sat back tapping her Foot and trying to hold in, but she was Sore as a Crab, for she loved her Lambkin.
Finally she could not stand it any longer, so she rushed to the Boudoir and produced from [a] Bureau Drawer the Tintype which Papa had slipped to her just 8 weeks before they faced the Justice of the Peace at Akron, Ohio.
It was the True likeness of a Male Hyena whose Hair was combed low on the Forehead into a gummy and passionate Cow-Lick.
He had one of those Gates Ajar Collars that was primarily intended to display the Adam's Apple in all of its naked Splendor.
The Shirt was ruffled the same as the Lingerie in an Advertisement, and the Watch Chain was of Human Hair, which is now regarded as a Penitentiary Offense.
The Boutonniere was a Carnation against a Leaf of Geranium with Tin Foil below, which is no longer being done in the Best Families.
The form-fitting Trousers led gradually down to Congress Gaiters pointed on the End like Nut-Picks.
Father took one Peek at Exhibit A and then gave Albert a V and told him to hunt up some of his Boy Friends and take them to a Matinee at the Orpheum.
MORAL: Whatever you may be, your Parents were more so at the same Age.
[Colophon] THE COUNTRY LIFE PRESS GARDEN CITY N. Y.
[Transcriber's notes: Accents and the tilde have been deleted to make a 7-bit file. The reading "G. M." for "A. M." has been retained, since it occurs twice. Line 1452: should it be "an Orator never has been known to Decline"? Line 1627: "go Blind" substituted for "go Blink" Line 1937: "Ory-Eyed" in text; is "Dry-Eyed" meant? Line 2226: i.e., Menu]