Fables in Slang
Fables in Slang
by GEORGE ADE
ILLUSTRATED by CLYDE J.
HERBERT S. STONE AND COMPANY CHICAGO & NEW YORK
COPYRIGHT, 1899, BY HERBERT S. STONE & CO.
The Author and the Publishers wish to acknowledge the courtesy of VICTOR F. LAWSON, ESQ., in permitting the reissue of these Fables in book form, after their appearance in the columns of THE CHICAGO RECORD.
Table of Contents
The Fable of the Visitor Who Got a Lot for Three Dollars 1
The Fable of the Slim Girl Who Tried to Keep a Date that was Never Made 9
The Fable of the New York Person Who Gave the Stage Fright to Fostoria, Ohio 15
The Fable of the Kid Who Shifted His Ideal 23
The Fable of the Base Ball Fan Who Took the Only Known Cure 27
The Fable of the Good Fairy with the Lorgnette, and why She Got It Good 33
The Fable of the Unintentional Heroes of Centreville 47
The Fable of the Parents Who Tinkered with the Offspring 53
The Fable of How He Never Touched George 59
The Fable of the Preacher Who Flew His Kite, but not Because He Wished to Do So 63
The Fable of Handsome Jethro, Who was Simply Cut Out to be a Merchant 75
The Fable of Paducah's Favorite Comedians and the Mildewed Stunt 83
The Fable of Flora and Adolph and a Home Gone Wrong 93
The Fable of the Copper and the Jovial Undergrads 105
The Fable of the Professor Who Wanted to be Alone 111
The Fable of a Statesman Who Couldn't Make Good 115
The Fable of the Brash Drummer and the Peach Who Learned that There Were Others 123
The Fable of Sister Mae, Who Did as Well as Could Be Expected 135
The Fable of How the Fool-Killer Backed Out of a Contract 143
The Fable of the Caddy Who Hurt His Head while Thinking 147
The Fable of the Martyr Who Liked the Job 151
The Fable of the Bohemian Who had Hard Luck 157
The Fable of the Coming Champion Who was Delayed 163
The Fable of the Lawyer Who Brought in a Minority Report 177
The Fable of the Two Mandolin Players and the Willing Performer 181
The Fable of the Man Who Didn't Care for Story-Books 195
THE FABLE OF THE VISITOR WHO GOT A LOT FOR THREE DOLLARS.
The Learned Phrenologist sat in his Office surrounded by his Whiskers.
Now and then he put a Forefinger to his Brow and glanced at the Mirror to make sure that he still resembled William Cullen Bryant.
Near him, on a Table, was a Pallid Head made of Plaster-of-Paris and stickily ornamented with small Labels. On the wall was a Chart showing that the Orangoutang does not have Daniel Webster's facial angle.
"Is the Graft played out?" asked the Learned Phrenologist, as he waited. "Is Science up against it or What?"
Then he heard the fall of Heavy Feet and resumed his Imitation. The Door opened and there came into the Room a tall, rangy Person with a Head in the shape of a Rocky Ford Cantaloupe.
Aroused from his Meditation, the Learned Phrenologist looked up at the Stranger as through a Glass, darkly, and pointed to a Red Plush Chair.
The Easy Mark collapsed into the Boarding-House Chair and the Man with more Whiskers than Darwin ever saw stood behind Him and ran his Fingers over his Head, Tarantula-Wise.
"Well, well!" said the Learned Phrenologist "Enough Benevolence here to do a family of Eight. Courage? I guess yes! Dewey's got the same kind of a Lump right over the Left Ear. Love of Home and Friends—like the ridge behind a Bunker! Firmness—out of sight! Reverence—well, when it comes to Reverence, you're certainly There with the Goods! Conscientiousness, Hope, and Ideality—the Limit! And as for Metaphysical Penetration—oh, Say, the Metaphysical Penetration, right where you part the Hair—oh, Laura! Say, you've got Charles Eliot Norton whipped to a Custard. I've got my Hand on it now. You can feel it yourself, can't you?"
"I can feel Something," replied the Human Being, with a rapt Smile.
"Wit, Compassion and Poetic Talent—right here where I've got my Thumb—a Cinch! I think you'll run as high as 98 per cent on all the Intellectual Faculties. In your Case we have a Rare Combination of Executive Ability, or the Power to Command, and those Qualities of Benevolence and Ideality which contribute to the fostering of Permanent Religious Sentiment. I don't know what your present Occupation is, but you ought to be President of a Theological Seminary. Kindly slip me Three Dollars before you Pass Out."
The Tall Man separated himself from Two Days' Pay and then went out on the Street and pushed People off the Sidewalk, He thought so well of Himself.
Thereafter, as before, he drove a Truck, but he was always glad to know that he could have been President of a Theological Seminary.
Moral: A good Jolly is worth Whatever you Pay for it.
THE FABLE OF THE SLIM GIRL WHO TRIED TO KEEP A DATE THAT WAS NEVER MADE
Once upon a Time there was a slim Girl with a Forehead which was Shiny and Protuberant, like a Bartlett Pear. When asked to put Something in an Autograph Album she invariably wrote the Following, in a tall, dislocated Back-Hand:
"Life is Real; life is Earnest, And the Grave is not its Goal."
That's the kind of a Girl she was.
In her own Town she had the Name of being a Cold Proposition, but that was because the Primitive Yokels of a One-Night Stand could not Attune Themselves to the Views of one who was troubled with Ideals. Her Soul Panted for the Higher Life.
Alas, the Rube Town in which she Hung Forth was given over to Croquet, Mush and Milk Sociables, a lodge of Elks and two married Preachers who doctored for the Tonsilitis. So what could the Poor Girl do?
In all the Country around there was not a Man who came up to her Plans and Specifications for a Husband. Neither was there any Man who had any time for Her. So she led a lonely Life, dreaming of the One—the Ideal. He was a big and pensive Literary Man, wearing a Prince Albert coat, a neat Derby Hat and godlike Whiskers. When He came he would enfold Her in his Arms and whisper Emerson's Essays to her.
But the Party failed to show up.
Often enough she put on her Chip Hat and her Black Lisle Gloves and Sauntered down to look at the Gang sitting in front of the Occidental Hotel, hoping that the Real Thing would be there. But she always saw the same old line of Four-Flush Drummers from Chicago and St. Louis, smoking Horrid Cigars and talking about the Percentages of the League Teams.
She knew that these Gross Creatures were not prone to chase mere Intellectual Splendor, so she made no effort to Flag them.
When she was Thirty-Four years of age and was able to recite "Lucile" without looking at the Book she was Married to a Janitor of the name of Ernest. He had been kicked in the Head by a Mule when young and believed everything he read in the Sunday Papers. His pay was Twenty-Three a month, which was high, if you knew Ernest.
His Wife wore a red Mother Hubbard all during the Remainder of her Life.
This is invariably a Sign of Blasted Hopes.
MORAL: Never Live in a Jay Town.
THE FABLE OF THE NEW YORK PERSON WHO GAVE THE STAGE FRIGHT TO FOSTORIA, OHIO
A New York man went to visit a Cousin in the Far West.
The name of the Town was Fostoria, Ohio.
When he came into Town he had his Watch-Chain on the outside of his Coat, and his Pink Spats were the first ever seen in Fostoria.
"Have you a Manicure Parlor in this Beastly Hole?" asked the New York Man, as they walked up from the Train.
"What's that?" asked the Cousin, stepping on his own Feet.
"Great Heavens!" exclaimed the New York Man, and was silent for several Moments.
At Dinner he called for Artichokes, and when told that there were none, he said, "Oh, very well," in a Tone of Chastened Resignation.
After Dinner he took the Family into the Parlor, and told the Members how much they would Enjoy going to Weber and Fields'. Seeing a Book on the Table, he sauntered up to It and said, "Ah, one of Dick Davis' Things." Later in the Evening he visited the only Club House in Town. The Local Editor of the Evening Paper was playing Pin-Pool with the Superintendent of the Trolley Line. When the New York Man came into the Room, they began to Tremble and fell down on their Shots.
The Manager of the Hub and Spoke Factory then asked the New York Man to have a Drink. The New York Man wondered if a Small Bottle was already cold. They said Yes, but it was a Lie. The Boy had to go out for it.
He found One that had been in the Window of the Turf Exchange since the Grand Opening, the Year after Natural Gas was discovered. The New York Man drank it, remarking that it was hardly as Dry as he usually got it at Martin's.
The Club Members looked at Him and said Nothing. They thought he meant Bradley-Martin's.
Next Day the New York Man was Interviewed by the Local Editor. He said the West had a Great Future. In the Evening he attended the Annual Dinner of the Bicycle Club, and went Home early because the Man sitting next to him put Ice in his Claret.
In due time he returned to New York, and Fostoria took off its White Shirt.
Some Weeks after that, the Cousin of the New York Man had an Opportunity to visit the Metropolis. He rode on an Extra Ticket with a Stockman who was shipping three Car-Load of Horses, and got a Free Ticket for every Car-Load.
When the Cousin arrived at New York he went to the address, and found the New York Man at Dinner.
There was a Sheaf of Celery on the Table.
Opposite the New York Man sat a Chiropodist who drank.
At his right was a Large Woman in a Flowered Wrapper—she had been Weeping.
At his left was a Snake-Charmer from Huber's Museum.
The New York Man asked the Cousin to wait Outside, and then explained that he was stopping there Temporarily. That Evening they went to Proctor's, and stood during the Performance.
MORAL: A New York Man never begins to Cut Ice until he is west of Rahway.
THE FABLE OF THE KID WHO SHIFTED HIS IDEAL
An A.D.T. Kid carrying a Death Message marked "Rush" stopped in front of a Show Window containing a Picture of James J. Jeffries and began to weep bitterly.
A kind-hearted Suburbanite happened to be passing along on his Way to the 5:42 Train. He was carrying a Dog Collar, a Sickle, a Basket of Egg Plums and a Bicycle Tire.
The Suburbanite saw the A.D.T. Kid in Tears and it struck him that here was a Bully Chance to act out the Kind-Hearted Pedestrian who is always played up strong in the Sunday School Stories about Ralph and Edgar.
"Why do you weep?" he asked, peering at the Boy through his concavo-convex Nose Glasses.
"Oh, gee! I was just Thinking," replied the Urchin, brokenly. "I was just Thinking what chance have I got to grow up and be the Main Stem, like Mr. Jeffries."
"What a perverted Ambition!" exclaimed the Suburbanite. "Why do you set up Mr. Jeffries as an Ideal? Why do you not strive to be like Me? Is it not worth a Life of Endeavor to command the Love and Respect of a Moral Settlement on the Outskirts? All the Conductors on our Division speak pleasantly to Me, and the Gateman has come to know my Name. Last year I had my Half-Tone in the Village Weekly for the mere Cost of the Engraving. When we opened Locust avenue from the Cemetery west to Alexander's Dairy, was I not a Member of the Committee appointed to present the Petition to the Councilmen? That's what I was! For Six Years I have been a Member of the League of American Wheelmen and now I am a Candidate for Director of our new four-hole Golf Club. Also I play Whist on the Train with a Man who once lived in the same House with T. DeWitt Talmage."
Hearing these words the A.D.T. Kid ceased weeping and cheerfully proceeded up an Alley, where he played "Wood Tag."
MORAL: As the Twig is Bent the Tree is Inclined.
THE FABLE OF THE BASE BALL FAN WHO TOOK THE ONLY KNOWN CURE
Once upon a Time a Base Ball Fan lay on his Death-Bed.
He had been a Rooter from the days of Underhand Pitching.
It was simply Pie for him to tell in what year Anse began to play with the Rockfords and what Kelly's Batting Average was the Year he sold for Ten Thousand.
If you asked him who played Center for Boston in 1886 he could tell you quick—right off the Reel. And he was a walking Directory of all the Glass Arms in the Universe.
More than once he had let drive with a Pop Bottle at the Umpire and then yelled "Robber" until his Pipes gave out. For many Summers he would come Home, one Evening after Another, with his Collar melted, and tell his Wife that the Giants made the Colts look like a lot of Colonial Dames playing Bean Bag in a Weedy Lot back of an Orphan Asylum, and they ought to put a Trained Nurse on Third, and the Dummy at Right needed an Automobile, and the New Man couldn't jump out of a Boat and hit the Water, and the Short-Stop wouldn't be able to pick up a Ball if it was handed to him on a Platter with Water Cress around it, and the Easy One to Third that ought to have been Sponge Cake was fielded like a One-Legged Man with St. Vitus dance trying to do the Nashville Salute.
Of course she never knew what he was Talking about, but she put up with it, Year after Year, mixing Throat Gargle for him and reading the Games to him when he was having his Eyes tested and had to wear a Green Shade.
At last he came to his Ninth Inning and there were Two Strikes called and no Balls, and his Friends knew it was All Day with him. They stood around and tried to forget that he was a Fan. His Wife wept softly and consoled herself with the Thought that possibly he would have amounted to Something if there had been no National Game. She forgave Everything and pleaded for one Final Message. His Lips moved. She leaned over and Listened. He wanted to know if there was Anything in the Morning Papers about the Condition of Bill Lange's Knee.
MORAL: There is a Specific Bacillus for every Classified Disease.
THE FABLE OF THE GOOD FAIRY WITH THE LORGNETTE, AND WHY SHE GOT IT GOOD
Once Upon a Time there was a Broad Girl who had nothing else to do and no Children to look after, so she thought she would be Benevolent.
She had scared all the Red Corpuscles out of the 2 by 4 Midget who rotated about her in a Limited Orbit and was known by Courtesy as her Husband. He was Soft for her, and so she got it Mapped out with Herself that she was a Superior Woman.
She knew that when she switched the Current on to herself she Used up about 6,000 Ohms an hour, and the whole Neighborhood had to put on Blinders.
She had read about nine Subscription Books with Cupid and Dove Tail-Pieces and she believed that she could get away with any Topic that was batted up to her and then slam it over to Second in time to head off the Runner.
Her clothes were full of Pin-Holes where she had been hanging Medals on Herself, and she used to go in a Hand-Ball Court every Day and throw up Bouquets, letting them bounce back and hit Her.
Also, She would square off in front of a Camera every Two Weeks, and the Man was Next, for he always removed the Mole when he was touching up the Negative. In the Photograph the Broad Girl resembled Pauline Hall, but outside of the Photograph, and take it in the Morning when she showed up on the Level, she looked like a Street just before they put on the Asphalt.
But never you Fear, She thought She had Julia Arthur and Mary Mannering Seventeen up and One to play, so far as Good Looks were concerned; and when it came to the Gray Matter—the Cerebrum, the Cerebellum, and the Medulla Oblongata—May Wright Sewall was back of the Flag and Pulled up Lame.
The Down-Trodden Man, whom she had dragged to the Altar, sized Her all right, but he was afraid of his Life. He wasn't Strong enough to push Her in front of a Cable Car, and he didn't have the Nerve to get a Divorce. So he stood for Everything; but in the Summer, when She skated off into the Woods to hear a man with a Black Alpaca Coat lecture to the High Foreheads about the Subverted Ego, he used to go out with a few Friends and tell them his Troubles and weep into his Beer. They would slap him on the Back and tell him she was a Nice Woman; but he knew better.
Annyhow, as Bobby Gaylor used to say, she became restless around the House, with nothing to do except her Husband, so she made up her mind to be Benevolent to beat the Band. She decided that she would allow the Glory of her Presence to burst upon the Poor and the Uncultured. It would be a Big Help to the Poor and Uncultured to see what a Real Razmataz Lady was like.
She didn't Propose to put on Old Clothes, and go and live with Poor People, and be One of Them, and nurse their Sick, as they do in Settlements. Not on Your Previous Existence! She was going to be Benevolent, and be Dead Swell at the Same Time.
Accordingly, she would Lace Herself until she was the shape of a Bass Viol, and put on her Tailor-Made, and the Hat that made her Face seem longer, and then she would Gallop forth to do Things to the Poor. She always carried a 99-cent Lorgnette in one Hand and a Smelling-Bottle in the Other.
"Now," she would say, feeling Behind to make sure that she was all strung up, "Now, to carry Sunshine into the Lowly Places."
As soon as she struck the Plank Walks, and began stalking her prey, the small Children would crawl under the Beds, while Mother would dry her Arms on the Apron, and murmur, "Glory be!" They knew how to stand off the Rent-Man and the Dog-Catcher; but when 235 pounds of Sunshine came wafting up the Street, they felt that they were up against a New Game.
The Benevolent Lady would go into a House numbered 1135A with a Marking Brush, and after she had sized up the front room through the Lorgnette, she would say: "My Good Woman, does your Husband drink?"
"Oh, yes, sir," the grateful Woman would reply. "That is, when he's working. He gets a Dollar Ten."
"And what does he do with all his Money?" the Benevolent Lady would ask.
"I think he plays the Stock Market," would be the Reply.
Then the Benevolent Lady would say: "When the Unfortunate Man comes Home this Evening you tell him that a Kind and Beautiful Lady called and asked him please to stop Drinking, except a Glass of Claret at Dinner, and to be sure and read Eight or Ten Pages from the Encyclopaedia Britannica each Night before retiring; also tell him to be sure and save his Money. Is that your Child under the Bed?"
"That's little William J."
"How Many have you?"
"Eight or Nine—I forget Which."
"Be sure and dress them in Sanitary Underwear; you can get it for Four Dollars a Suit. Will you be good enough to have the Little Boy come from under the Bed, and spell 'Ibex' for the Sweet Lady?"
"He's afraid of you."
"Kindly explain to him that I take an Interest in him, even though he is the Offspring of an Obscure and Ignorant Workingman, while I am probably the Grandest Thing that ever Swept up the Boulevard. I must go now, but I will Return. Next time I come I hope to hear that your Husband has stopped Drinking and is very Happy. Tell the Small Person under the Bed that if he learns to spell 'Ibex' by the time I call again I will let him look at my Rings. As for you, bear in mind that it is no Disgrace to be Poor; it is simply Inconvenient; that's all."
Having delivered herself of these Helpful Remarks she would Duck, and the Uplifted Mother would put a Nickel in the Can and send Lizzie over to the Dutchman's.
In this manner the Benevolent Lady carried forward the Good Work, and Dazzled the whole Region between O'Hara's Box Factory and the City Dump. It didn't Cost anything, and she derived much Joy from the Knowledge that Hundreds of People were Rubbering at her, and remarking in Choked Whispers: "Say, ain't she the Smooth Article?"
But one day a Scrappy Kid, whose Mother didn't have any Lorgnette or Diamond Ear-Bobs, spotted the Benevolent Lady. The Benevolent Lady had been in the House telling his Mother that it was a Glorious Privilege to wash for a Living.
After the Benevolent Lady went away the Kid's Mother sat down and had a Good Cry, and the Scrappy Kid thought it was up to him. He went out to the Alley and found a Tomato Can that was not working, and he waited.
In a little while the Benevolent Lady came out of a Basement, in which she had been telling a Polish Family to look at her and be Happy. The Scrappy Kid let drive, and the Tomato Can struck the Benevolent Lady between the Shoulder Blades. She squawked and started to run, fell over a Garbage Box, and had to be picked up by a Policeman.
She went Home in a Cab, and told her Husband that the Liquor League had tried to Assassinate her, because she was Reforming so many Drunkards. That settled it with her—she said she wouldn't try to be Benevolent any more—so she joined an Ibsen Club.
The Scrappy Kid grew up to be a Corrupt Alderman, and gave his Mother plenty of Good Clothes, which she was always afraid to wear.
MORAL: In uplifting, get underneath.
THE FABLE OF THE UNINTENTIONAL HEROES OF CENTREVILLE
In Centreville there lived two husky Young Fellows named Bill and Schuyler—commonly abbreviated to Schuy. They did not find any nourishing Excitement in a Grain Elevator, so they Enlisted to Free Cuba.
The Government gave each of them a Slouch Hat and a prehistoric Firearm. They tied Red Handkerchiefs around their Necks and started for the Front, each with his Head out of the Car Window. They gave the Sioux Yell to everybody along the Track between Centreville and Tampa.
While in Camp they played Double Pedie, smoked Corn-Cob Pipes, and cussed the Rations. They referred to the President of these United States as "Mac," and spoke of the beloved Secretary of War as "Old Alger."
After more or less Delay they went aboard a Boat, and were landed in Cuba, where they began to Shoot at everything that looked Foreign. The hot Rain drenched them, and the tropical Sun steamed them; they had Mud on their clothes, and had to sleep out. When they were unusually Tired and Hungry, they would sing Coon Songs and Roast the War Department.
At last they were ordered Home. On the way back they didn't think of Anything except their two Lady Friends, who worked in the Centreville Steam Laundry.
They rode into Town with a Machete under each Arm, and their Pockets full of Mauser Cartridges.
The first Thing they saw when they alighted from the Train was a Brass Band. It began to play, "See the Conquering Hero Comes."
Then eight Little Girls in White began to strew Flowers in their Pathway.
The Artillery company ripped out a Salute.
Cap Gibbs, who won his Title by owning the first Steam Thrashing Machine ever seen in the County, confronted them with a Red, White, and Blue Sash around him. He Barked in a loud Voice—it was something about Old Glory.
Afterward the Daughters of the Revolution took them in Tow, and escorted them to Pythian Hall, where they were given Fried Chicken, Veal Loaf, Deviled Eggs, Crullers, Preserved Watermelon, Cottage Cheese, Sweet Pickles, Grape Jelly, Soda Biscuit, Stuffed Mangoes, Lemonade, Hickory-Nut Cake, Cookies, Cinnamon Roll, Lemon Pie, Ham, Macaroons, New York Ice Cream, Apple Butter, Charlotte Russe, Peppermint Wafers, and Coffee.
While they were Feeding, the Sons of Veterans Quartet stood on the Rostrum with their Heads together, and sang:
"Ten-ting to-night! Ten-ting to-night, Ten-ting on the old-ah Camp-ground!"
At the first opportunity Bill motioned to Schuyler, and led him into the Anteroom, where they kept the Regalia, the Kindling Wood, and the Mop.
"Say, Schuy, what the Sam Hill does this mean?" he asked; "are we Heroes?"
"That's what Everybody says."
"Do you Believe it?"
"No matter what I Believe; I'm goin' to let 'em have their own Way. I may want to Run for Supervisor some Day."
MORAL: If it is your Play to be a Hero, don't Renig.
THE FABLE OF THE PARENTS WHO TINKERED WITH THE OFFSPRING
A married Couple possessed two Boys named Joseph and Clarence. Joseph was much the older. His Parents brought him up on a Plan of their Own. They would not permit him to play with other Boys for fear that he would soil himself; and learn to be Rude and Boisterous.
So they kept Him in the House, and: his Mother read to him about Little Rollo, who never lied or cheated, and who grew up to be a Bank President, She seemed to think that a Bank President was above Reproach.
Little Joseph was kept away from the Public Schools, and had to Play Games in the Garret with two Spindly Little Girls. He learned Tatting and the Herring-Bone Stitch. When he was Ten Years of age he could play Chop-Sticks on the Piano; his Ears were Translucent, and his Front Teeth showed like those of a Gray Squirrel.
The other Boys used to make Faces at him over the Back Fence and call him "Sis."
In Due Time he went to College, where he proved to be a Lobster. The Boys held him under the Pump the first Night. When he walked across the Campus, they would whistle, "I don't Want to Play in Your Yard." He began to drink Manhattan Cocktails, and he smoked Hemp Cigarettes until he was Dotty. One Day he ran away with a Girl who waited on the Table at his Boarding House, and his Parents Cast him Off. At Present he has charge of the Cloak Room at a Dairy Lunch.
Seeing that the Home Training Experiment had been a Failure in the case of Joseph, the Parents decided to give Clarence a large Measure of Liberty, that he might become Acquainted with the Snares and Temptations of the World while he was Young, and thus be Prepared to side-step the Pitfalls when he was Older. They sent him to the Public Schools; they allowed him to roam at large with other Kids, and stay out at Nights; they kept Liquor on the Sideboard.
Clarence stood in with the Toughest Push in Town, and thus became acquainted with the Snares and Temptations of the World. He learned to Chew Tobacco and Spit through his Teeth, shoot Craps and Rush the Can.
When his Father suggested that he enter some Business House, and become a Credit to the Family, he growled like a Boston Terrier, and told his Father to go Chase Himself.
At present, he is working the Shells with a Circus.
MORAL: It all depends.
THE FABLE OF HOW HE NEVER TOUCHED GEORGE
A comic Lover named George was sitting on the Front Porch with a good Side Hold on your old friend Mabel. They were looking into each other's Eyes at Close Range and using a rancid Line of Nursery Talk.
It was the kind of Conversation calculated to Jar a Person.
George murmured that Mabel was George's own Baby-Daby and she Allowed that he was a Tooney-Wooney little Bad Boy to hold his Itsy-Bitsy Bun of a Mabel so tight she could hardly breave. It was a sort of Dialogue that Susan B. Anthony would love to sit up Nights to Read.
While they were Clinched, Mabel's Father, a large, Self-Made Man, came down the Stairway and out to the Veranda.
This is where the Fable begins to Differentiate.
Although the Girl's name was Mabel and the Young Man's name was George, and the Father was a Self-Made Man, the Father did not Kick the Young Man.
He asked him if he had Anything to Smoke.
George gave him an Imported Panetella and said He didn't believe it was going to Rain. Mabel's Father said it looked Black in the West, but he Reckoned it might blow around, like as not. Mabel said she wouldn't be a bit Surprised if it did blow around.
Mabel's Father told Mabel she could show George where the Ice-Box wuz in case he Expressed a Hankerin', and then he went down street to examine some Fishing Tackle just purchased by a Friend of his in the Hay and Feed Business. Just as Father struck the Cement Walk George changed to the Strangle Hold.
MORAL: The Exception proves the Rule.
THE FABLE OF THE PREACHER WHO FLEW HIS KITE, BUT NOT BECAUSE HE WISHED TO DO SO
A certain Preacher became wise to the Fact that he was not making a Hit with his Congregation. The Parishioners did not seem inclined to seek him out after services and tell him he was a Pansy. He suspected that they were Rapping him on the Quiet.
The Preacher knew there must be Something wrong with his Talk. He had been trying to Expound in a clear and straightforward Manner, omitting Foreign Quotations, setting up for illustration of his Points such Historical Characters as were familiar to his Hearers, putting the stubby Old English words ahead of the Latin, and rather flying low along the Intellectual Plane of the Aggregation that chipped in to pay his Salary.
But the Pew-Holders were not tickled. They could Understand everything he said, and they began to think he was Common.
So he studied the Situation and decided that if he wanted to Win them and make everybody believe he was a Nobby and Boss Minister he would have to hand out a little Guff. He fixed it up Good and Plenty.
On the following Sunday Morning he got up in the Lookout and read a Text that didn't mean anything, read from either Direction, and then he sized up his Flock with a Dreamy Eye and said: "We cannot more adequately voice the Poetry and Mysticism of our Text than in those familiar Lines of the great Icelandic Poet, Ikon Navrojk:
"To hold is not to have— Under the seared Firmament, Where Chaos sweeps, and Vast Futurity Sneers at these puny Aspirations— There is the full Reprisal."
When the Preacher concluded this Extract from the Well-Known Icelandic Poet he paused and looked downward, breathing heavily through his Nose, like Camille in the Third Act.
A Stout Woman in the Front Row put on her Eye-Glasses and leaned forward so as not to miss Anything. A Venerable Harness Dealer over at the Right nodded his Head solemnly. He seemed to recognize the Quotation. Members of the Congregation glanced at one another as if to say: "This is certainly Hot Stuff!"
The Preacher wiped his Brow and said he had no Doubt that every one within the Sound of his Voice remembered what Quarolius had said, following the same Line of Thought. It was Quarolius who disputed the Contention of the great Persian Theologian Ramtazuk, that the Soul in its reaching out after the Unknowable was guided by the Spiritual Genesis of Motive rather than by mere Impulse of Mentality. The Preacher didn't know what all This meant, and he didn't care, but you can rest easy that the Pew-Holders were On in a minute. He talked it off in just the Way that Cyrano talks when he gets Roxane so Dizzy that she nearly falls off the Piazza.
The Parishioners bit their Lower Lips and hungered for more First-Class Language. They had paid their Money for Tall Talk and were prepared to solve any and all Styles of Delivery. They held on to the Cushions and seemed to be having a Nice Time.
The Preacher quoted copiously from the Great Poet Amebius. He recited 18 lines of Greek and then said: "How true this is!" And not a Parishioner batted an Eye.
It was Amebius whose Immortal Lines he recited in order to prove the Extreme Error of the Position assumed in the Controversy by the Famous Italian, Polenta.
He had them Going, and there wasn't a Thing to it. When he would get tired of faking Philosophy he would quote from a Celebrated Poet of Ecuador or Tasmania or some other Seaport Town. Compared with this Verse, all of which was of the same School as the Icelandic Masterpiece, the most obscure and clouded Passage in Robert Browning was like a Plate-Glass Front in a State Street Candy Store just after the Colored Boy gets through using the Chamois.
After that he became Eloquent, and began to get rid of long Boston Words that hadn't been used before that Season. He grabbed a rhetorical Roman Candle in each Hand and you couldn't see him for the Sparks.
After which he sunk his Voice to a Whisper and talked about the Birds and the Flowers. Then, although there was no Cue for him to Weep, he shed a few real Tears. And there wasn't a dry Glove in the Church.
After he sat down he could tell by the Scared Look of the People in Front that he had made a Ten-Strike.
Did they give him the Joyous Palm that Day? Sure!
The Stout Lady could not control her Feelings when she told how much the Sermon had helped her. The venerable Harness Dealer said he wished to indorse the Able and Scholarly Criticism of Polenta.
In fact, every one said the Sermon was Superfine and Dandy. The only thing that worried the Congregation was the Fear that if it wished to retain such a Whale it might have to Boost his Salary.
In the Meantime the Preacher waited for some one to come and ask about Polenta, Amebius, Ramtazuk, Quarolius and the great Icelandic Poet, Navrojk. But no one had the Face to step up and confess his Ignorance of these Celebrities. The Pew-Holders didn't even admit among themselves that the Preacher had rung in some New Ones. They stood Pat, and merely said it was an Elegant Sermon.
Perceiving that they would stand for Anything, the Preacher knew what to do after that.
MORAL: Give the People what they Think they want.
THE FABLE OF HANDSOME JETHRO, WHO WAS SIMPLY CUT OUT TO BE A MERCHANT
An Illinois Squab came home from Business College with a Zebra Collar and a pair of Tan Shoes big enough for a Coal Miner. When he alighted from the depot one of Ezry Folloson's Dray Horses fell over, stricken with the Cramp Colic. The usual Drove of Prominent Citizens who had come down to see that the Train got in and out all right backed away from the Educated Youth and Chewed their Tobacco in Shame and Abashment. They knew that they did not belong on the same Platform with One who had been up yender in Chicago for goin' on Twelve weeks finding out how to be a Business Man. By Heck!
An elderly Man approached the Youth who had lately got next to the Rules of Commerce. The elderly Man was a Yap. He wore a Hickory Shirt, a discouraged Straw Hat, a pair of Barn-Door Pants clinging to one lonely Gallus and woolen Socks that had settled down over his Plow Shoes. He was shy several Teeth and on his Chin was a Tassel shaped like a Whisk-Broom. If you had thrown a Pebble into this Clump of Whiskers probably you would have scared up a Field Mouse and a couple of Meadow Larks.
"Home agin, Jethro, be ye?" asked the Parent.
"Yeh," replied the Educated Youth. With that he pulled the Corner of a Sassy Silk Handkerchief out of his upper Coat Pocket and ignited a Cigarette that smelt like Burning Leaves in the Fall.
The Business Man went Home, and the Parent followed at a Respectful Distance, now and then remarking to Himself: "Well, I'll jest swan to Guinney!"
Brother Lyford came in from the East Eighty to get his Dinner, and there was Jethro in the Hammock reading a Great Work by Archibald Clavering Gunter.
"Git into some Overhauls an' come an' he'p Me this Afternoon," said Lyford.
"Oh, rats! Not on your Tintype! I'm too strong to work," replied Jethro, who had learned Oodles of slang up in Chicago, don't you forget it.
So he wouldn't Stand for the Harvest Field that afternoon. In the Evening when Paw ast him to Milk he let out an Awful Beller. Next Morning he made a Horrible Beef because he couldn't get Loaf Sugar for his Coffee.
Shortly after Breakfast his Paw lured him into the Barn and Lit on him. He got a good Holt on the Adam's Apple and choked the Offspring until his Tongue stuck out like a Pistil.
"You dosh-burned little Pin-Head o' Misery, you!" exclaimed the Old Man. "Goll bing me if I think you're wuth the Powder to blow you up. You peel them Duds an' git to Work or else mosey right off o' this Farm."
The Son's Feelings were so outraged by this Brutal Treatment that he left the Farm that Day and accepted a position in a Five and Ten-Cent Store, selling Kitchen Utensils that were made of Tin-Foil and Wooden Ware that had been painted in Water Colors. He felt that he was particularly adapted for a Business Career, and, anyway, he didn't propose to go out on No Man's Farm and sweat down his Collar.
After Ten Years of Unremitting Application and Studious Frugality the Business Man had acquired in Real Estate, Personal Property, Stocks, Bonds, Negotiable Paper, and other Collateral, the sum of Nineteen Dollars, but he owed a good deal more than that. Brother Lyford had continued to be a rude and unlettered Country Jake. He had 240 acres of crackin' Corn Land (all tiled), a big red Barn, four Span of good Horses, sixteen Head of Cattle, a likely bunch of Shoats and a Covered Buggy.
MORAL: Drink Deep, or Cut Out the Pierian Spring Altogether.
THE FABLE OF PADUCAH'S FAVORITE COMEDIANS AND THE MILDEWED STUNT
Once Upon a Time there was a Specialty Team doing Seventeen Minutes. The Props used in the Act included a Hatchet, a Brick, a Seltzer Bottle, two inflated Bladders and a Slap-Stick. The Name of the Team was Zoroaster and Zendavesta.
These two Troupers began their Professional Career with a Road Circus, working on Canvas in the Morning, and then doing a Refined Knockabout in the Grand Concert or Afterpiece taking place in the Main Arena immediately after the big Show is over.
When each of them could Kick Himself in the Eye and Slattery had pickled his Face so that Stebbins could walk on it, they decided that they were too good to show under a Round Top, so they became Artists. They wanted a Swell Name for the Team, so the Side-Show Announcer, who was something of a Kidder and had attended a Unitarian College, gave them Zoroaster and Zendavesta. They were Stuck on it, and had a Job Printer do some Cards for them.
By utilizing two of Pat Rooney's Songs and stealing a few Gags, they put together Seventeen Minutes and began to play Dates and Combinations.
Zoroaster bought a Cane with a Silver Dog's Head on it, and Zendavesta had a Watch Charm that pulled the Buttonholes out of his Vest.
After every Show, as soon as they Washed Up, they went and stood in front of the Theater, so as to give the Hired Girls a Treat, or else they stood around in the Sawdust and told their Fellow-Workers in the Realm of Dramatic Art how they killed 'em in Decatur and had 'em hollerin' in Lowell, Mass., and got every Hand in the House at St. Paul. Occasionally they would put a Card in the Clipper, saying that they were the Best in the Business, Bar None, and Good Dressers on and off the Stage. Regards to Leonzo Brothers. Charley Diamond please write.
They didn't have to study no New Gags or work up no more Business, becuz they had the Best Act on Earth to begin with. Lillian Russell was jealous of them and they used to know Francis Wilson when he done a Song and Dance.
They had a Scrap Book with a Clipping from a Paducah Paper, which said that they were better than Nat Goodwin. When some Critic who had been bought up by Rival Artists wrote that Zoroaster and Zendavesta ought to be on an Ice Wagon instead of on the Stage, they would get out the Scrap Book and read that Paducah Notice and be thankful that all Critics wasn't Cheap Knockers and that there was one Paper Guy in the United States that reckanized a Neat Turn when he seen it.
But Zoroaster and Zendavesta didn't know that the Dramatic Editor of the Paducah Paper went to a Burgoo Picnic the Day the Actors came to Town, and didn't get back until Midnight, so he wrote his Notice of the Night Owls' performance from a Programme brought to him by the Head Usher at the Opera House, who was also Galley Boy at the Office.
Zoroaster and Zendavesta played the same Sketch for Seventeen Years and made only two important Changes in all that Time. During the Seventh Season Zoroaster changed his Whiskers from Green to Blue. At the beginning of the Fourteenth Year of the Act they bought a new Slap-Stick and put a Card in the Clipper warning the Public to beware of Imitators.
All during the Seventeen Years Zoroaster and Zendavesta continued to walk Chesty and tell People how Good they were. They never could Understand why the Public stood for Mansfield when it could get Zoroaster and Zendavesta. The Property Man gave it as his Opinion that Mansfield conned the Critics. Zendavesta said there was only one Critic on the Square, and he was at Paducah.
When the Vodeville Craze came along Zoroaster and Zendavesta took their Paducah Scrap Book over to a Manager, and he Booked them. Zoroaster assured the Manager that Him and his Partner done a Refined Act, suitable for Women and Children, with a strong Finish, which had been the Talk of all Galveston. The Manager put them in between the Trained Ponies and a Legit with a Bad Cold. When a Legit loses his Voice he goes into Vodeville.
Zoroaster and Zendavesta came on very Cocky, and for the 7,800th Time Zoroaster asked Zendavesta:
"Who wuz it I seen you comin' up the Street with?"
Then, for the 7,800th Time, by way of Mirth-Provoking Rejoinder, Zendavesta kicked Zoroaster in the Stomach, after which the Slap-Stick was introduced as a Sub-Motive.
The Manager gave a Sign and the Stage Hands Closed in on the Best Team in the Business, Bar None.
Of course Zoroaster and Zendavesta were very sore at having their Act killed. They said it was no way to treat Artists. The Manager told them they were too Tart for words to tell it and to consider Themselves set back into the Supper Show. Then They saw through the whole Conspiracy. The Manager was Mansfield's Friend and Mansfield was out with his Hammer.
At Present they are doing Two Supper Turns to the Piano Player and a Day Watchman. They are still the Best in the Business, but are being used Dead Wrong. However, they derive some Comfort from reading the Paducah Notice.
MORAL: A Dramatic Editor should never go to a Burgoo Picnic—especially in Kentucky.
THE FABLE OF FLORA AND ADOLPH AND A HOME GONE WRONG
One morning a Modern Solomon, who had been chosen to preside as Judge in a Divorce Mill, climbed to his Perch and unbuttoned his Vest for the Wearisome Grind. He noticed that the first Case looming up on the Docket was that of Flora Botts vs. Adolph Botts.
The Applicant, Mrs. Botts, and Adolph, the Other Half of the Domestic Sketch, were already inside the Railing, each attempting to look the other out of Countenance.
"Break!" ordered the Judge. "Don't act as if you were at Home. Now, what has Adolph been doing?"
It seemed that she alleged Cruelty, Neglect, Inhuman Treatment, Violent Temper, Threats, etc., etc.
"We have no Chills-and-Fever Music to lend Effect to the Sad Narrative you are about to Spring," said the Judge, looking down at the Plaintiff, who belonged to the Peroxide Tribe. "Furthermore, we will take it for granted that when you first met Defendant your Innocence and Youth made it a Walkaway for his Soft Approaches, and that you had every Reason to believe that he was a Perfect Gentleman. Having disposed of these Preliminaries, let us have the Plot of the Piece."
So she told her Story in a Tremulous, Viola Allen kind of Voice, while her Lawyer wept.
He was ready to Weep for anyone who would hand him $8. Afterthought—make it $7.50.
It was a Dark Tale of how Botts, the Viperish Defendant, had Sneered at her, called her Oh-Such-Names, humiliated her in the presence of Callers, and nagged her with Sarcastic Comments until her Tender Sensibilities had been worn to a Frazzle.
Then the Defendant went on the Stand and entered a General Denial. He had been all that a Rattling Good Husband could be, but she had been a regular Rudyard Kipling Vampire. She had continued to make his Life one lingering Day-After of Regret. His Record for Patience and Long-Suffering had made Job's Performance look like an Amateur's Half-Try.
"There is more in this Case than appears on the Surface," said the Modern Solomon. "In order to fix the Blame we shall have to dig up the First Cause. I will ask Chemical Flora to tell us the Story of her Past Life."
"My Parents were Poor, but Refined," said Mrs. Botts. "They gave me Every Advantage. After I finished the High School I attended a Conservatory, and every one said I had Talent. I should have been an Elocutionist. Once I went to Rockford and recited "The Tramp's Story" at a Club Social, and I got a Lovely Notice. I am especially good at Dialect Recitations."
"Humorous?" asked the Court.
"Yes, sir; but I can turn right around and be Pathetic all of a sudden, if I want to be."
"I suppose that Botts, after he had lived with you for awhile, didn't have any Hankering Desire to hear you Recite," suggested the Modern Solomon.
"That's just it. When I'd offer to get up in Company and speak Something he'd ask me please not to Recite, and if I had to make a Show of myself, for God's Sake not to tackle anything Humorous, with a Conservatory Dialect to it."
"But you wouldn't let him Stop you?"
"Not on your Life."
"I'd believe you, even if you wasn't under Oath. Now, will Mr. Botts answer me one Question? Has he any Ambition on the Side?"
"Although I am a Bookkeeper for a Gravel-Roofing Concern, I have always believed I could Write," replied Adolph Botts. "About four years ago I began to prepare the Book for a Comic Opera. A Friend of mine who works in a Hat Store was to Compose the Music. I think he has more Ability than Victor Herbert."
"Did this Friend think Well of your Libretto?" asked the Wise Judge.
"Yes, sir; he said it was the Best Thing that had been done since 'Erminie.' In fact, everybody liked my Book."
"Except your Wife," suggested the Court.
"That's it, exactly. I wanted Sympathy and Encouragement and she gave me the Metallic Laugh. There is one Patter Song in my Opera that Every One who comes to my House has been Crazy to hear. Whenever I started to Sing it she would talk in a loud Voice. She never seemed to Appreciate my Stuff. I think the Bleach affected her Head."
"Has the Opera been produced?" asked the Court, with Humane Hesitancy.
"No, the Eastern Managers were all tied up with Harry B. Smith," replied Mr. Botts. "Then there's a Prejudice against Western Talent."
"Well, Mr. Botts, in View of all the Evidence, I have decided to give you a Decree of Divorce from Flo of the Wheaten Tresses," said the Modern Solomon.
"But look here!" exclaimed the Defendant, "I haven't applied for any Divorce."
"You don't have to. I give it to you anyway. As for you, Mrs. Botts, I will give you a Decree also. The Alimony will be $25 per."
"I don't think you grasp the Decision. When I say that the Alimony is $25 per, I mean that Mrs. Botts will be required to pay that Amount to Adolph every week."
"Don't be too hasty. I further Decree that Mr. Botts must pay the same Amount to Flora every Week."
"That simply makes it a Stand-Off," remarked Mr. Botts, who was puzzled.
"My idea of the Case, neatly expressed," said the Modern Solomon. "Each of you is Divorced from the Other, and if Either of you ever Marries again, He or She will be jerked before this Tribunal and sentenced to Ten Years of Hard Labor in some Penal Institution."
Whereupon the Court took a Noon Recess of 3-1/2 hours.
Moral: Genius must ever walk Alone.
THE FABLE OF THE COPPER AND THE JOVIAL UNDERGRADS
One Night three Well-Bred Young Men, who were entertained at the Best Houses wherever they went, started out to Wreck a College town.
They licked two Hackmen, set fire to an Awning, pulled down many Signs, and sent a Brick through the Front Window of a Tailor Shop. All the Residents of the Town went into their Houses and locked the Doors; Terror brooded over the Community.
A Copper heard the Racket, and saw Women and Children fleeing to Places of Safety, so he gripped his Club and ran Ponderously, overtaking the three Well-Bred Young Men in a dark part of the Street, where they were Engaged in tearing down a Fence.
He could not see them Distinctly, and he made the Mistake of assuming that they were Drunken Ruffians from the Iron Foundry. So he spoke harshly, and told them to Leave Off breaking the Man's Fence. His Tone and Manner irritated the University Men, who were not accustomed to Rudeness from Menials.
One Student, who wore a Sweater, and whose people butt into the Society Column with Sickening Regularity, started to Tackle Low; he had Bushy Hair and a Thick Neck, and his strong Specialty was to swing on Policemen and Cabbies.
At this, his Companion, whose Great Grandmother had been one of the eight thousand Close Relatives of John Randolph, asked him not to Kill the Policeman. He said the Fellow had made a Mistake, that was all; they were not Muckers; they were Nice Boys, intent on preserving the Traditions of dear old Alma Mater.
The Copper could hardly Believe it until they led him to a Street Lamp, and showed him their Engraved Cards and Junior Society Badges; then he Realized that they were All Right. The third Well-Bred Young Man, whose Male Parent got his Coin by wrecking a Building Association in Chicago, then announced that they were Gentlemen, and could Pay for everything they broke. Thus it will be seen that they were Rollicking College Boys and not Common Rowdies.
The Copper, perceiving that he had come very near getting Gay with our First Families, Apologized for Cutting In. The Well-Bred Young Men forgave him, and then took his Club away from him, just to Demonstrate that there were no Hard Feelings. On the way back to the Seat of Learning they captured a Night Watchman, and put him down a Man-Hole.
MORAL: Always select the Right Sort of Parents before you start in to be Rough.
THE FABLE OF THE PROFESSOR WHO WANTED TO BE ALONE
Now it happens that in America a man who goes up hanging to a Balloon is a Professor.
One day a Professor, preparing to make a Grand Ascension, was sorely pestered by Spectators of the Yellow-Hammer Variety, who fell over the Stay-Ropes or crowded up close to the Balloon to ask Fool Questions. They wanted to know how fur up he Calkilated to go and was he Afeerd and how often had he did it. The Professor answered them in the Surly Manner peculiar to Showmen accustomed to meet a WebFoot Population. On the Q.T. the Prof. had Troubles of his own. He was expected to drop in at a Bank on the following Day and take up a Note for 100 Plunks. The Ascension meant 50 to him, but how to Corral the other 50? That was the Hard One.
This question was in his Mind as he took hold of the Trapeze Bar and signaled the Farm Hands to let go. As he trailed Skyward beneath the buoyant silken Bag he hung by his Knees and waved a glad Adieu to the Mob of Inquisitive Yeomen. A Sense of Relief came to him as he saw the Crowd sink away in the Distance.
Hanging by one Toe, and with his right Palm pressed to his Eyes, he said: "Now that I am Alone, let me Think, let me Think."
There in the Vast Silence He Thought.
Presently he gave a sigh of Relief.
"I will go to my Wife's Brother and make a Quick Touch," he said. "If he refuses to Unbelt I will threaten to tell his Wife of the bracelet he bought in Louisville."
Having reached this Happy Conclusion, he loosened the Parachute and quickly descended to the Earth.
MORAL: Avoid Crowds.
THE FABLE OF A STATESMAN WHO COULDN'T MAKE GOOD
Once there was a Bluff whose Long Suit was Glittering Generalities.
He hated to Work and it hurt his Eyes to read Law, but on a Clear Day he could be heard a Mile, so he became a Statesman.
Whenever the Foresters had a Picnic they invited him to make the Principal Address, because he was the only Orator who could beat out the Merry-Go-Round.
The Habit of Dignity enveloped him.
Upon his Brow Deliberation sat. He wore a Fireman's moustache and a White Lawn Tie, and he loved to Talk about the Flag.
At a Clam-Bake in 1884 he hurled Defiance at all the Princes and Potentates of Europe, and the Sovereign Voters, caught up by his Matchless Eloquence and Unswerving Courage, elected him to the Legislature.
While he was in the Legislature he discovered that these United States were an Asylum for the Down-Trodden and oppressed of the Whole World, and frequently called Attention to the Fact. When some one asked him if he was cutting up any Easy Money or would it be safe for a Man with a Watch to go to Sleep in the same Room with him, he would take a Drink of Water and begin to plead for Cuba.
Once an Investigating Committee got after him and he was about to be Shown Up for Dallying with Corporations, but he put on a fresh White Tie and made a Speech about our Heroic Dead on a Hundred Battle-Fields, and Most People said it was simply Impossible for such a Thunderous Patriot to be a Crook. So he played the Glittering Generality stronger than ever.
In Due Time he Married a Widow of the Bantam Division. The Reason she married him was that he looked to her to be a Coming Congressman and she wanted to get a Whack at Washington Society. Besides, she lived in a Flat and the Janitor would not permit her to keep a Dog.
About Ten Days after they were Married he came Home at 4 A.M. in a Sea-Going Hack and he was Saturated. Next Morning she had him up on the Carpet and wanted to know How About It.
He arose and put his Right Hand inside of his Prince Albert Coat and began.
"Madam," he said, "During a Long, and, I trust, a not altogether fruitless Career as a Servant of the Peepul, I have always stood in the Fierce Light of Publicity, and my Record is an Open Book which he who runs may——"
"Nix! Nix!" she said, rapping for order with a Tea-Cup. "Let go of the Flying Rings. Get back to the Green Earth!"
He dilated his Nostrils and said: "From the Rock-Bound Hills of Maine in the North to the Everglades of Florida——"
"Forget the Everglades," she said, rapping again. "That Superheated Atmosphere may have a certain Tonic Effect on the Hydrocephalous Voter, but if you want to adjust yourself with Wifey, you come down to Cases."
So he went out after Breakfast and bought a $22 Hat in order to Square himself.
MORAL: Some Women should be given the Right to Vote.
THE FABLE OF THE BRASH DRUMMER AND THE PEACH WHO LEARNED THAT THERE WERE OTHERS
A well-fixed Mortgage Shark, residing at a Way Station, had a Daughter whose Experience was not as large as her prospective Bank Roll. She had all the component Parts of a Peach, but she didn't know how to make a Showing, and there was nobody in Town qualified to give her a quiet Hunch.
She got her Fashion Hints from a Trade Catalogue, and took her Tips on Etiquette and Behavior from the Questions and Answers Department of an Agricultural Monthly.
The Girl and her Father lived in a big White House, with Evergreen Trees and whitewashed Dornicks in front of it, and a Wind-Pump at the rear. Father was a good deal the same kind of a Man as David Harum, except that he didn't let go of any Christmas Presents, or work the Soft Pedal when he had a chance to apply a Crimp to some Widow who had seen Better Days. In fact, Daughter was the only one on Earth who could induce him to Loosen Up.
Now, it happened that there came to this Town every Thirty Days a brash Drummer, who represented a Tobacco House. He was a Gabby Young Man, and he could Articulate at all Times, whether he had anything to Say or not.
One night, at a Lawn Fete given by the Ladies of the Methodist Congregation, he met Daughter. She noticed that his Trousers did not bag at the Knees; also that he wore a superb Ring. They strolled under the Maples, and he talked what is technically known as Hot Air. He made an Impression considerably deeper than himself. She promised to Correspond.
On the occasion of his next Visit to the Way Station, he let her wear his Ring, and made a Wish, while she took him riding in the Phaeton. He began to carry her Photograph in his Watch, and show it to the Boys employed at the House. Sometimes he would fold over one of her Letters so they could see how it started out. He said the Old Man had Nothing But, and he proposed to make it a case of Marry. Truly, it seemed that he was the principal Cake in the Pantry, and little did he suspect that he could be Frosted.
But Daughter, after much Pleading, induced Father to send her to a Finishing School in the East. (A Finishing School is a Place at which Young Ladies are taught how to give the Quick Finish to all Persons who won't do.)
At School, the Daughter tied up with a Chum, who seldom overlooked a Wednesday Matinee, and she learned more in three Weeks than her Childhood Home could have shown her in three Centuries.
Now she began to see the other Kind; the Kind that Wears a Cutaway, with a White Flower, in the Morning, a Frock, with Violets, in the Afternoon, and a jimmy little Tuxedo at Night.
For the first time she began to listen to Harness that had Chains to it, and she rode in Vehicles that permitted her to glance in at the Second Stories.
She stopped wearing Hats, and began to choose Confections. She selected them Languidly, three at a time.
Then the Bill to the Way Station, and Father down with Heart Failure.
She kept Mr. Sothern's Picture on her Dresser, with two Red Candles burning in front of it, and every time she thought of Gabby Will, the Crackerjack Salesman, she reached for the Peau d'Espagne and sprayed herself.
* * * * *
One Day when the Tobacco Salesman came up Main Street with his Grips, on his way to visit the Trade, he met the Drug Clerk, who told him that She was Home on a Visit. So he hurried through with his Work, got a Shave, changed ends on his Cuffs, pared his Nails, bought a box of Marshmallows, and went out to the House.
Daughter was on the Lawn, seated under a Canopy that had set Father back thirty-two Dollars. There was a Hired Hand sprinkling the Grass with a Hose, and as Will, the Conversational Drummer, came up the Long Walk, Daughter called to the Hired Hand, and said: "Johnson, there is a Strange Man coming up the Walk; change the Direction of the Stream somewhat, else you may Dampen him."
The Drummer approached her, feeling of his Necktie, and wondered if she would up and Kiss him, right in broad Daylight. She didn't. Daughter allowed a rose-colored Booklet, by Guy de Maupassant, to sink among the Folds of her French Gown, and then she Looked at him, and said: "All Goods must be delivered at the Rear."
"Don't you Know me?" he asked.
"Rully, it seems to me I have seen you, Somewhere," she replied, "but I cahn't place you. Are you the Man who tunes the Piano?"
"Don't you remember the night I met you at the Lawn Fete?" he asked; and then, Chump that he was, and all Rattled, he told her his Name, instead of giving her the scorching Come-Back that he composed next Day, when it was Too Late.
"I meet so many People traveling about," she said; "I cahn't remember all of them, you know. I dare say you called to see Pu-pah; he will be here Presently."
Then she gave him "Some one's else," "Neyether," "Savoir-Faire," and a few other Crisp Ones, hot from the Finishing School, after which she asked him how the Dear Villagers were coming on. He reminded her that he did not live in the Town. She said: "Only Fahncy!" and he said he guessed he'd have to be Going, as he had promised a Man to meet him at Jordan's Store before the Bank closed.
As he moved toward the St. Nicholas Hotel he kept his Hand on his Solar Plexus. At five o'clock he rode out of Town on a Local.
MORAL: Anybody can Win unless there happens to be a Second Entry.
THE FABLE OF SISTER MAE, WHO DID AS WELL AS COULD BE EXPECTED
Two Sisters lived in Chicago, the Home of Opportunity.
Luella was a Good Girl, who had taken Prizes at the Mission Sunday School, but she was Plain, much. Her Features did not seem to know the value of Team Work. Her Clothes fit her Intermittently, as it were. She was what would be called a Lumpy Dresser. But she had a good Heart.
Luella found Employment at a Hat Factory. All she had to do was to put Red Linings in Hats for the Country Trade; and every Saturday Evening, when Work was called on account of Darkness, the Boss met her as she went out and crowded three Dollars on her.
The other Sister was Different.
She began as Mary, then changed to Marie, and her Finish was Mae.
From earliest Youth she had lacked Industry and Application.
She was short on Intellect but long on Shape.
The Vain Pleasures of the World attracted her. By skipping the Long Words she could read how Rupert Bansiford led Sibyl Gray into the Conservatory and made Love that scorched the Begonias. Sometimes she just Ached to light out with an Opera Company.
When she couldn't stand up Luella for any more Car Fare she went out looking for Work, and hoping she wouldn't find it. The sagacious Proprietor of a Lunch Room employed her as Cashier. In a little While she learned to count Money, and could hold down the Job.
Marie was a Strong Card. The Male Patrons of the Establishment hovered around the Desk long after paying their Checks. Within a Month the Receipts of the Place had doubled.
It was often remarked that Marie was a Pippin. Her Date Book had to be kept on the Double Entry System.
Although her Grammar was Sad, it made no Odds. Her Picture was on many a Button.
A Credit Man from the Wholesale House across the Street told her that any time she wanted to see the Telegraph Poles rush past, she could tear Transportation out of his Book. But Marie turned him down for a Bucket Shop Man, who was not Handsome, but was awful Generous.
They were Married, and went to live in a Flat with a Quarter-Sawed Oak Chiffonier and Pink Rugs. She was Mae at this Stage of the Game.
Shortly after this, Wheat jumped twenty-two points, and the Husband didn't do a Thing.
Mae bought a Thumb Ring and a Pug Dog, and began to speak of the Swede Help as "The Maid."
Then she decided that she wanted to live in a House, because, in a Flat, One could never be sure of One's Neighbors. So they moved into a Sarcophagus on the Boulevard, right in between two Old Families, who had made their Money soon after the Fire, and Ice began to form on the hottest Days.
Mae bought an Automobile, and blew her Allowance against Beauty Doctors. The Smell of Cooking made her Faint, and she couldn't see where the Working Classes came in at all.
When she attended the theater a Box was none too good. Husband went along, in evening clothes and a Yachting Cap, and he had two large Diamonds in his Shirt Front.
Sometimes she went to a Vogner Concert, and sat through it, and she wouldn't Admit any more that the Russell Brothers, as the Irish Chambermaids, hit her just about Right.
She was determined to break into Society if she had to use an Ax.
At last she Got There; but it cost her many a Reed Bird and several Gross of Cold Quarts.
In the Hey-Day of Prosperity did Mae forget Luella? No, indeed.
She took Luella away from the Hat Factory, where the Pay was three Dollars a Week, and gave her a Position as Assistant Cook at five Dollars.
MORAL: Industry and Perseverance bring a sure Reward.
THE FABLE OF HOW THE FOOL-KILLER BACKED OUT OF A CONTRACT
The Fool-Killer came along the Pike Road one Day and stopped to look at a Strange Sight.
Inside of a Barricade were several Thousands of Men, Women and Children. They were moving restlessly among the trampled Weeds, which were clotted with Watermelon Rinds, Chicken Bones, Straw and torn Paper Bags.
It was a very hot Day. The People could not sit down. They shuffled Wearily and were pop-eyed with Lassitude and Discouragement.
A stifling Dust enveloped them. They Gasped and Sniffled. Some tried to alleviate their Sufferings by gulping down a Pink Beverage made of Drug-Store Acid, which fed the Fires of Thirst.
Thus they wove and interwove in the smoky Oven. The Whimper or the faltering Wail of Children, the quavering Sigh of overlaced Women, and the long-drawn Profanity of Men—these were what the Fool-Killer heard as he looked upon the Suffering Throng.
"Is this a new Wrinkle on Dante's Inferno?" he asked of the Man on the Gate, who wore a green Badge marked "Marshal," and was taking Tickets.
"No, sir; this is a County Fair," was the reply.
"Why do the People congregate in the Weeds and allow the Sun to warp them?"
"Because Everybody does it."
"Do they Pay to get in?"
"You know it."
"Can they Escape?"
"They can, but they prefer to Stick."
The Fool-Killer hefted his Club and then looked at the Crowd and shook his Head doubtfully.
"I can't tackle that Outfit to-day," he said. "It's too big a Job."
So he went on into Town, and singled out a Main Street Merchant who refused to Advertise.
MORAL: People who expect to be Luny will find it safer to travel in a Bunch.
THE FABLE OF THE CADDY WHO HURT HIS HEAD WHILE THINKING
One Day a Caddy sat in the Long Grass near the Ninth Hole and wondered if he had a Soul. His Number was 27, and he almost had forgotten his Real Name.
As he sat and Meditated, two Players passed him. They were going the Long Round, and the Frenzy was upon them.
They followed the Gutta Percha Balls with the intent swiftness of trained Bird Dogs, and each talked feverishly of Brassy Lies, and getting past the Bunker, and Lofting to the Green, and Slicing into the Bramble—each telling his own Game to the Ambient Air, and ignoring what the other Fellow had to say.
As they did the St. Andrews Full Swing for eighty Yards apiece and then Followed Through with the usual Explanations of how it Happened, the Caddy looked at them and Reflected that they were much inferior to his Father.
His Father was too Serious a Man to get out in Mardi Gras Clothes and hammer a Ball from one Red Flag to another.
His Father worked in a Lumber Yard.
He was an Earnest Citizen, who seldom Smiled, and he knew all about the Silver Question and how J. Pierpont Morgan done up a Free People on the Bond Issue.
The Caddy wondered why it was that his Father, a really Great Man, had to shove Lumber all day and could seldom get one Dollar to rub against another, while these superficial Johnnies who played Golf all the Time had Money to Throw at the Birds. The more he Thought the more his Head ached.
MORAL: Don't try to Account for Anything.
THE FABLE OF THE MARTYR WHO LIKED THE JOB
Once in a Country Town there was a Man with a Weak Back.
He could put a Grindstone into a Farm Wagon if any one wanted to bet him the Segars, but every time he lifted an Ax, something caught him right in the Spine and he had to go into the House and lie down. So his Wife took Boarders and did the Cooking herself.
He was willing to divide the Labor, however; so he did the Marketing. Only, when he had bought the Victuals, he would squat on a Shoe-Box with the Basket between his Legs and say that he couldn't see what Congress wuz thinkin' of.
He had certain Theories in regard to the Alaskan Boundary and he was against any Anglo-American Alliance becuz Uncle Sam could take care of himself at any Turn in the Road, comin' right down to it, and the American People wuz superior to any other Naytionality in every Way, Shape, Manner and Form, as fur as that's concerned. Then his Wife would have to send Word for him to come on with the Groceries so she could get Dinner.
Nearly Everybody Sympathized with her, because she had to put up with such a big Hulk of a no-account Husband. She was looked upon as a Martyr.
One Day the Husband was Sunstruck, being too Lazy to move into the Shade, and next Day he Passed Away without an Effort. The Widow gave him the best Funeral of the Year and then put all the Money she could rake and scrape into a Marble Shaft marked "At Rest."
A good many People said she was Better Off without him, and it was certainly a Good Riddance of Bad Rubbish.
They hoped that if she ever Married again she'd pick out Somebody that wuzn't afraid to Work, and had Gumption enough to pound Sand into a Rat-Hole.
There was General Satisfaction when she became the Wife of Mr. Gladden, who owned the General Store. He built a new House, hired a Girl and had the Washing sent out. She could go into the Store and pick out Anything she wanted, and he took her riding in his new Runabout every Evening.
Consequently, she was very Miserable, thinking of the Jewel she had lost.
MORAL: If the Woman thinks he's All Right, you keep on your own Side of the Fence.
THE FABLE OF THE BOHEMIAN WHO HAD HARD LUCK
Once upon a Time there was a Brilliant but Unappreciated Chap who was such a Thorough Bohemian that Strangers usually mistook him for a Tramp.
Would he brush his Clothes? Not he. When he wore a Collar he was Ashamed of himself. He had Pipe-Ashes on his Coat and Vest. He seldom Combed his Hair, and never Shaved.
Every Evening he ate an Imitation Dinner, at a forty-cent Table d'Hote, with a Bottle of Writing Fluid thrown in. He had formed a little Salon of Geniuses, who also were out of Work, and they loved to Loll around on their Shoulder-Blades and Laugh Bitterly at the World.
The main Bohemian was an Author. After being Turned Down by numerous Publishers, he had decided to write for Posterity. Posterity hadn't heard anything about it, and couldn't get out an Injunction.
He knew his Works were good, because all the Free and Untrammeled Souls in the Spaghetti Joint told him so. He would read them a Little Thing of his Own about Wandering in the Fields with Lesbia, and then he would turn to a Friend, whose Face was all covered with Human Ivy, and ask him, point blank: "Is it, or is it not, Better than the Dooley Stuff?"
"There is no Comparison," would be the Reply, coming through the Foliage.
Wandering in the Fields with Lesbia! Lesbia would have done Well. If he had Wandered in the Fields at any Time he would have been Pinched on Suspicion that he was out for Turnips.
The sure-enough Bohemian was a Scathing Critic. If Brander Matthews only knew some of the Things said about him, there would be Tear Marks on his Pillow. And Howells, too. Bah! My, but he was Caustic.
The way he burned up Magazine Writers, it's a Wonder they didn't get after him for Arson.
One day, while standing on the Front Stoop at his Boarding House, trying to think of some one who would submit to a Touch, a Flower Pot fell from a Window Ledge above him, and hit him on the Head. He was put into an Ambulance and taken to a Hospital, where the Surgeons clipped his Hair short, in order to take Three Stitches. While he was still Unconscious, and therefore unable to Resist, they Scrubbed him with Castile Soap, gave him a good Shave, and put him into a snowy-white Gown.
His Friends heard of the Accident, and went to the Hospital to offer Condolence. When they found him he was so Clean and Commonplace that they lost all Respect for him.
MORAL: Get a good Make-Up and the Part plays itself.
THE FABLE OF THE COMING CHAMPION WHO WAS DELAYED
In a certain Athletic Club which rented two rooms over a Tin-Shop there was one Boy who could put it All Over the other Members.
He knew how to Jab and Counter and Upper-Cut and Bore in with the Left and Play for the Wind. He had Lumps on his Arms and a good Pair of Shoulders, and every one in the Club told him he had the makings of a World-Beater. He used to coax Grocery Clerks and Grammar-School Children to put on the Gloves with him, and then he would go around them, like a Cooper around a Barrel, and Trim them right and proper.
His friends would stand and watch him make Monkeys of these anaemic Amateurs, and gradually the Conviction grew within them that he could Lick anybody of his Weight. The Boy believed them when they told him he ought to go after the Top-Notchers.
He gave up his Job in the Planing Mill and became a Pugilist. The Proprietor of a Cigar Store acted as his Manager, and began to pay his Board. This Manager was Foxy. He told the Boy that before tackling the Championship Class it would be better to go out and beat a lot of Fourth-Raters, thereby building up a Reputation and at the same time getting here and there a Mess of the Long Green.
In the same Town there was an Undertaker who had Sporting Blood in his Veins, and he sought out the Manager and made a Match in behalf of an Unknown.
The boy went into Training in a Stable. He had a yellow Punching Bag, a Sponge, a Bath-Robe and several Towels. Two Paper-Hangers who were out of Work acted as his Trainers. They rubbed him with Witch Hazel all day, and in the Evening the Boy stood around in a Sweater and Talked out of the corner of his Mouth. He said he was Trained to the Minute, as Hard as Nails and Fit as a Fiddle, and he would make Mr. Unknown jump out of the Ring.
As the Day of the Battle approached it came out that the Unknown was a Scrapper who had been fairly Successful at one Time, but had ceased to be a Live One several Years before. He was imported especially for this Contest with the Coming Champion.
When he arrived in Town it was evident that he lacked Condition. He had been dieting himself on Pie and Beer, and any Expert, such as the Cigar Store Man, could tell by looking at him that his Abdomen was not hard enough to withstand those crushing Body Blows such as the Boy was in the Habit of Landing—on the Punching Bag. Accordingly the Word went around that the imported Pug was too Fat and had bad Wind.
It began to resemble a Cinch.
The Manager went out and bet more Money, and the Coming Champion was Nervous for fear that he would kill the Has-Been if he connected too strong on the Point of the Jaw. He thought it would be better to wear him down with Short-Arm blows and make him Quit. He had read that it was Dangerous to punish a Physical Wreck, who might have Heart Trouble or something like that. The Boy was a Professional Pugilist, but he had Humane Instincts.
When the Boy came to the Train which was to carry the Participants and the Spectators to the Battle-Field he was attended by four Comrades, who had Ice, Beef Tea, Brandy, Alcohol, Blankets and other Paraphernalia. They made a Couch for him in the Baggage Car, and had him lie down, so that he might conserve all his Strength and step into the Ring as fresh as possible. The so-called Unknown had no one to Handle him. He sat Alone in the Men's Car, with a queer Telescope Valise on his Knees, and he smoked a Cigarette, which was in direct Violation of all the Rules of Training.
At last the Company arrived at the Secluded Spot, and a Ring was staked out.
The Coming Champion was received with Loud Cheers. He wore a new Pair of Gymnasium Shoes, spotless Trunks, and around his Waist was an American Flag, presented by his Admirers in the Athletic Club.
In a few Moments the Imported Scrapper came into the Ring, attended by the Sporty Undertaker. He wore an old Pair of Bike Shoes and faded Work Trousers, chopped off at the Knees, while his Belt was a Shawl-Strap. He was chewing Gum.
After he put on the Gloves he looked over at the Coming Champion and remarked to the Undertaker that he (the Coming Champion) seemed to be a Nice Young Fellow. After which he Yawned slightly, and wanted to know what Time they would get a Train back to Town.
The Bell rang, and there in the Center of the Ring stood the Tottering Has-Been and the Coming Champion.
The Has-Been was crouched, with his Head drawn in, turtle-fashion, his Legs spraddled, and oh, the hard, vicious Expression on that Face, as he Fiddled Short and looked intently at the Coming Champion's Feet. This was a very confusing and unprofessional Thing to do, as the Boy had not been accustomed to boxing with People who looked at his Feet. He wondered if there was anything the matter with his Gymnasium Shoes.
In a Moment or two he saw that the Physical Wreck was afraid to Lead, so he did some nimble Foot Work, and his Gloves began to describe Parabolas—then all at once somebody turned off the Sunshine.
They threw Cold Water on him, held a Bottle of Ammonia to his Nose and stuck Pins in under his Finger-Nails.
At last his Eye-Lids fluttered, and he turned a dim and filmy Gaze on his faithful Seconds gathered about him.
"Oh, how the Birds sing!" he murmured. "And see! The Aurora Borealis is trying to climb over Pain's Fire-Works."
"Cheer up!" said the Manager. "He took a Mean Advantage of you and Hit you when you wasn't Looking."
"Ah, yes, it all comes back to me. Did I win?"
"Not quite," replied the Manager, who feared to tell him the whole Truth.
"You say he Hit me?" asked the Coming Champion.
"With a Casting?"
"We couldn't tell. He was in such a Hurry."
All this Time the Victor was sitting on the Station Platform with the Undertaker. He was Remarking that it seemed to be a very Purty Country thereabouts, and he'd often wished he could close in on enough of the Gilt to buy him a nice piece of Land somewhere, inasmuch as he regarded a Farmer as the most independent Man on Earth.
Next week there was a familiar Name back on the Time-Card at the Planing Mill.
MORAL: In all the Learned Professions, Many are Called but Few are Chosen.
THE FABLE OF THE LAWYER WHO BROUGHT IN A MINORITY REPORT
At a Bazaar, the purpose of which was to Hold Up the Public for the Benefit of a Worthy Cause, there were many Schemes to induce Visitors to let go of their Assets. One of the most likely Grafts perpetrated by the astute Management was a Voting Contest to Determine who was the Most Beautiful and Popular Young Lady in the City. It cost Ten Cents to cast one Vote. The Winner of the Contest was to receive a beautiful Vase, with Roses on it.
A prominent Young Lawyer, who was Eloquent, Good Looking, and a Leader in Society, had been selected to make the Presentation Speech after the Votes had been counted.
In a little while the Contest had narrowed down until it was Evident that either the Brewer's Daughter or the Contractor's Daughter was the Most Beautiful and Popular Young Lady in the City. The Brewer and his Friends pushed Ten Dollar Bills into the Ballot Box, while the Contractor, just before the Polls closed, slipped in a Check for One Hundred Dollars.
When the Votes were counted, the Management of the Bazaar was pleased to learn that the Sixty-Cent Vase had Netted over Seven Hundred Dollars. It was Announced that the Contractor's Daughter was exactly Nine Dollars and Twenty Cents more Beautiful and Popular than the Brewer's Daughter.
Thereupon the Committee requested that the Eloquent Young Lawyer step to the Rostrum and make the Presentation Speech. There was no Response; the Young Lawyer had Disappeared.
One of the Members of the Committee started on a Search for him, and found him in a dusky Corner of the Japanese Tea Garden, under the Paper Lanterns, making a Proposal of Marriage to a Poor Girl who had not received one Vote.
MORAL: Never believe a Relative.
THE FABLE OF THE TWO MANDOLIN PLAYERS AND THE WILLING PERFORMER
A very attractive Debutante knew two Young Men who called on her every Thursday Evening, and brought their Mandolins along.
They were Conventional Young Men, of the Kind that you see wearing Spring Overcoats in the Clothing Advertisements. One was named Fred, and the other was Eustace.
The Mothers of the Neighborhood often remarked, "What Perfect Manners Fred and Eustace have!" Merely as an aside it may be added that Fred and Eustace were more Popular with the Mothers than they were with the Younger Set, although no one could say a Word against either of them. Only it was rumored in Keen Society that they didn't Belong. The Fact that they went Calling in a Crowd, and took their Mandolins along, may give the Acute Reader some Idea of the Life that Fred and Eustace held out to the Young Women of their Acquaintance.
The Debutante's name was Myrtle. Her Parents were very Watchful, and did not encourage her to receive Callers, except such as were known to be Exemplary Young Men. Fred and Eustace were a few of those who escaped the Black List. Myrtle always appeared to be glad to see them, and they regarded her as a Darned Swell Girl.
Fred's Cousin came from St. Paul on a Visit; and one Day, in the Street, he saw Myrtle, and noticed that Fred tipped his Hat, and gave her a Stage Smile.
"Oh, Queen of Sheba!" exclaimed the Cousin from St. Paul, whose name was Gus, as he stood stock still, and watched Myrtle's Reversible Plaid disappear around a Corner. "She's a Bird, Do you know her well?"
"I know her Quite Well," replied Fred, coldly. "She is a Charming Girl."
"She is all of that. You're a great Describer. And now what Night are you going to take me around to Call on her?"
Fred very naturally Hemmed and Hawed. It must be remembered that Myrtle was a member of an Excellent Family, and had been schooled in the Proprieties, and it was not to be supposed that she would crave the Society of slangy old Gus, who had an abounding Nerve, and furthermore was as Fresh as the Mountain Air.
He was the Kind of Fellow who would see a Girl twice, and then, upon meeting her the Third Time, he would go up and straighten her Cravat for her, and call her by her First Name.
Put him into a Strange Company—en route to a Picnic—and by the time the Baskets were unpacked he would have a Blonde all to himself, and she would have traded her Fan for his College Pin.
If a Fair-Looker on the Street happened to glance at him Hard he would run up and seize her by the Hand, and convince her that they had Met. And he always Got Away with it, too.
In a Department Store, while waiting for the Cash Boy to come back with the Change, he would find out the Girl's Name, her Favorite Flower, and where a Letter would reach her.
Upon entering a Parlor Car at St. Paul he would select a Chair next to the Most Promising One in Sight, and ask her if she cared to have the Shade lowered.
Before the Train cleared the Yards he would have the Porter bringing a Foot-Stool for the Lady.
At Hastings he would be asking her if she wanted Something to Read.
At Red Wing he would be telling her that she resembled Maxine Elliott, and showing her his Watch, left to him by his Grandfather, a Prominent Virginian.
At La Crosse he would be reading the Menu Card to her, and telling her how different it is when you have Some One to join you in a Bite.
At Milwaukee he would go out and buy a Bouquet for her, and when they rode into Chicago they would be looking out of the same Window, and he would be arranging for her Baggage with the Transfer Man. After that they would be Old Friends.
Now, Fred and Eustace had been at School with Gus, and they had seen his Work, and they were not disposed to Introduce him into One of the most Exclusive Homes in the City.
They had known Myrtle for many Years; but they did not dare to Address her by her First Name, and they were Positive that if Gus attempted any of his usual Tactics with her she would be Offended; and, naturally enough, they would be Blamed for bringing him to the House.
But Gus insisted. He said he had seen Myrtle, and she Suited him from the Ground up, and he proposed to have Friendly Doings with her. At last they told him they would take him if he promised to Behave. Fred warned him that Myrtle would frown down any Attempt to be Familiar on Short Acquaintance, and Eustace said that as long as he had known Myrtle he had never Presumed to be Free and Forward with her. He had simply played the Mandolin. That was as Far Along as he had ever got.
Gus told them not to Worry about him. All he asked was a Start. He said he was a Willing Performer, but as yet he never had been Disqualified for Crowding. Fred and Eustace took this to mean that he would not Overplay his Attentions, so they escorted him to the House.
As soon as he had been Presented, Gus showed her where to sit on the Sofa, then he placed himself about Six Inches away and began to Buzz, looking her straight in the Eye. He said that when he first saw her he Mistook her for Miss Prentice, who was said to be the Most Beautiful Girl in St. Paul, only, when he came closer, he saw that it couldn't be Miss Prentice, because Miss Prentice didn't have such Lovely Hair. Then he asked her the Month of her Birth and told her Fortune, thereby coming nearer to Holding her Hand within Eight Minutes than Eustace had come in a Lifetime.
"Play something, Boys," he Ordered, just as if he had paid them Money to come along and make Music for him.
They unlimbered their Mandolins and began to play a Sousa March. He asked Myrtle if she had seen the New Moon. She replied that she had not, so they went Outside.
When Fred and Eustace finished the first Piece, Gus appeared at the open Window, and asked them to play "The Georgia Camp-Meeting," which had always been one of his Favorites.
So they played that, and when they had Concluded there came a Voice from the Outer Darkness, and it was the Voice of Myrtle. She said: "I'll tell you what to Play; play the Intermezzo."
Fred and Eustace exchanged Glances. They began to Perceive that they had been backed into a Siding. With a few Potted Palms in front of them, and two Cards from the Union, they would have been just the same as a Hired Orchestra.