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Title:      Short Circuits (1938)
Author:     Stephen Leacock
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A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook

Title:      Short Circuits (1938)
Author:     Stephen Leacock



Old Junk and New Money

"Speaking of India--"

How to Borrow Money

Life's Minor Contradictions

A Great Life in Our Midst

The Perfect Gift

Scenery and Signboards

The Life of John Mutation Smith

Inference as an Art

Our Get-Together Movement


A Lesson on the Links

The Family at Football

Life in the Open


From My Friend the Deadbeat

From My Friend the Reporter

From My Friend with a Speech to Make

From My Friend the Guide


The Man in the Pullman Car

The Criminal by Proxy

The People Just Back from Europe

The Man with the Adventure Story


A Year at College

The Unintelligence Test

Easy Ways to Success

Fun as an Aid to Business

The Stamp-Album World


If Only We Had the Radio Sooner

What the Radio Overheard

One Crowded Quarter Second

Done into Movies


Things I Hardly Dare Whisper

Hands Across the Seas

If They Go on Swimming

If Mussolini Comes

This World-Championship Stuff

Get off the Earth


The Lost World of Yesterday

Come Back to School

The Fall Fair and the Autumn Exposition

Extinct Monsters

The Passing of the Back Yard


The Literary Sensations of 1929

Children's Poetry Revised

Illustrations I Can Do Without

Our Summer Pets

The Old Men's Page

A Guide to the Underworld

Love Me, Love My Letters

With the Authorities

Literature and the Eighteenth Amendment

The Hunt for a Heroine

Bedtime Stories for Grown-up People

Softening the Stories for the Children

The Great Detective



Old Junk and New Money


I went the other day into the beautiful home of my two good
friends, the Hespeler-Hyphen-Joneses, and I paused a moment, as my
eye fell on the tall clock that stood in the hall.

"Ah," said Hespeler-Hyphen-Jones, "I see you are looking at the
clock--a beautiful thing, isn't it?--a genuine antique."

"Does it go?" I asked.

"Good gracious, no!" exclaimed my two friends.  "But isn't it a
beautiful thing!"

"Did it ever go?"

"I doubt it," said Hespeler-Hyphen-Jones.  "The works, of course,
are by Salvolatile--one of the really GREAT clockmakers, you know.
But I don't know whether the works ever went.  That, I believe, is
one way in which you can always tell a Salvolatile.  If it's a
genuine Salvolatile, it won't go."

"In any case," I said, "it has no hands."

"Oh, dear, no," said Mrs. Jones.  "It never had, as far as we know.
We picked it up in such a queer little shop in Amalfi and the man
assured us that it never had had any hands.  He guaranteed it.
That's one of the things, you know, that you can tell by.  Charles
and I were terribly keen about clocks at that time and really
studied them, and the books all agreed that no genuine Salvolatile
has any hands."

"And was the side broken, too, when you got it," I asked.

"Ah, no," said my friend.  "We had that done by an expert in New
York after we got back.  Isn't it exquisitely done?  You see, he
has made the break to look exactly as if some one had rolled the
clock over and stamped on it.  Every genuine Salvolatile is said to
have been stamped upon like that.

"Of course, our break is only imitation, but it's extremely well
done, isn't it?  We go to Ferrugi's, that little place on Fourth
Avenue, you know, for everything that we want broken.  They have a
splendid man there.  He can break anything."

"Really!" I said.

"Yes, and the day when we wanted the clock done, Charles and I went
down to see him do it.  It was really quite wonderful, wasn't it,

"Yes, indeed.  The man laid the clock on the floor and turned it on
its side and then stood looking at it intently, and walking round
and round it and murmuring in Italian as if he were swearing at it.
Then he jumped in the air and came down on it with both feet."

"Did he?" I asked.

"Yes, and with such wonderful accuracy.  Our friend Mr. Appin-
Hyphen-Smith--the great expert, you know--was looking at our clock
last week and he said it was marvelous, hardly to be distinguished
from a genuine fractura."

"But he did say, didn't he, dear," said Mrs. Jones, "that the
better way is to throw a clock out of a fourth story window?  You
see, that was the height of the Italian houses in the Thirteenth
Century--is it the Thirteenth Century I mean, Charles?"

"Yes," said Charles.

"Do you know, the other day I made the silliest mistake about a
spoon.  I thought it was a Twelfth Century spoon and said so and in
reality it was only Eleven and a half.  Wasn't it, Charles?"

"Yes," said Charles.

"But do come into the drawing room and have some tea.  And, by the
way, since you are interested in antiques, do look please at my

"It looks an excellent teapot," I said, feeling it with my hand,
"and it must have been very expensive, wasn't it?"

"Oh, not THAT one," interposed Mr. Hespeler-Hyphen-Jones.  "That is
nothing.  We got that here in New York at Hoffany's--to make tea
in.  It IS made of solid silver, of course, and all that, but even
Hoffany's admitted that it was made in America and was probably not
more than a year or so old and had never been used by anybody else.
In fact, they couldn't guarantee it in any way."

"Oh, I see," I said.

"But let me pour you out tea from it and then do look at the
perfect darling beside it.  Oh, don't touch it, please, it won't
stand up."

"Won't stand up?" I said.

"No," said Hespeler-Jones, "that's one of the tests.  We know from
that that it is genuine Swaatsmaacher.  None of them stand up."

"Where did you buy it?" I asked, "here?"

"Oh, heavens, no, you couldn't buy a thing like that here!  As a
matter of fact, we picked it up in a little gin shop in
Obehellandam in Holland.  Do you know Obehellandam?"

"I don't," I said.

"It's just the dearest little place, nothing but little wee smelly
shops filled with most delightful things--all antique, everything
broken.  They guarantee that there is nothing in the shop that
wasn't smashed at least a hundred years ago."

"You don't use the teapot to make tea," I said.

"Oh, no," said Mrs. Hespeler-Jones as she handed me a cup of tea
from the New York teapot.  "I don't think you could.  It leaks."

"That again is a thing," said her husband, "that the experts always
look for in a Swaatsmaacher.  If it doesn't leak, it's probably
just a faked-up thing not twenty years old."

"Is it silver?" I asked.

"Ah, no.  That's another test," said Mrs. Jones.  "The real
Swaatsmaachers were always made of pewter bound with barrel-iron
off the gin barrels.  They try to imitate it now by using silver,
but they can't get it."

"No, the silver won't take the tarnish," interjected her husband.
"You see, it's the same way with ever so many of the old things.
They rust and rot in a way that you simply cannot imitate.  I have
an old drinking horn that I'll show you presently--Ninth Century,
isn't it, dear?--that is all coated inside with the most beautiful
green slime, absolutely impossible to reproduce."

"Is it?" I said.

"Yes, I took it to Squeeziou's, the Italian place in London.  (They
are the great experts on horns, you know; they can tell exactly the
country and the breed of cow.)  And they told me that they had
tried in vain to reproduce that peculiar and beautiful rot.  One of
their head men said that he thought that this horn had probably
been taken from a dead cow that had been buried for fifty years.
That's what gives it its value, you know."

"You didn't buy it in London, did you?" I asked.

"Oh, no," answered Hespeler-Jones.  "London is perfectly
impossible--just as hopeless as New York.  You can't buy anything
real there at all."

"Then where do you get all your things?" I asked, as I looked round
at the collection of junk in the room.

"Oh, we pick them up here and there," said Mrs. Jones.  "Just in
any out-of-the-way corners.  That little stool we found at the back
of a cow stable in Loch Aberlocherty.  They were actually using it
for milking.  And the two others--aren't they beautiful? though
really it's quite wrong to have two chairs alike in the same room--
came from the back of a tiny little whiskey shop in Galway.  Such a
delight of an old Irishman sold them to us and he admitted that he
himself had no idea how old they were.  They might, he said, be
Fifteenth Century, or they might not.

"But, oh, Charles," my hostess interrupted herself to say, "I've
just had a letter from Jane (Jane is my sister, you know) that is
terribly exciting.  She's found a table at a tiny place in Brittany
that she thinks would exactly do in our card room.  She says that
its utterly unlike anything else in the room and has quite
obviously no connection with cards.  But let me read what she says--
let me see, yes, here's where it begins:

"'. . . a perfectly sweet little table.  It probably had four legs
originally and even now has two which, I am told, is a great find,
as most people have to be content with one.  The man explained that
it could either be leaned up against the wall or else suspended
from the ceiling on a silver chain.  One of the boards of the top
is gone, but I am told that that is of no consequence, as all the
best specimens of Brittany tables have at least one board out.'

"Doesn't that sound fascinating, Charles?  Do send Jane a cable at
once not to miss it."


And when I took my leave a little later, I realized once and for
all that the antique business is not for me.

"Speaking of India--"


I was at a dinner party the other night at which one of the guests,
as guests generally do, began to tell an old story of his, already
known to us all.

"What you say of India," he said, "reminds me of a rather
remarkable experience of mine in California--"

"Oh, James," interrupted his wife, "please don't tell that old
story over again."

The narrator, a modest man, blushed and came to a stop.  There was
a painful silence which lasted for some moments.  Then somebody
said, "Speaking of Mayor Thompson of Chicago--" and the party went
on again.


But the incident left behind it a problem in my mind.  Should a
wife, or should a wife not, interrupt her husband to stop him
telling one of his wearisome old stories. . . .

If the husband could speak (most husbands are inarticulate) he
could certainly put up a good defense.  He could say:

"My dear Martha, you think this is an old story.  But if you knew
some of the ones that will be told by the other men if I don't tell
this, you'd think it brand new.  You think the story wearisome for
YOU.  But their wives think their stories wearisome for THEM.  All
the stories we are all going to tell tonight are old.  Of course
they are.  What do you think we are,--Shakespeare?  We can't sit
here and make up NEW stories.  If we could, we'd black our faces,
call ourselves coons and draw a hundred dollars a night in a New
York Revue.

"Moreover--listen to this as a second point.  An old story has
certain great advantages over a new one.  There's no strain in
listening to it.  You know just when it is all coming, and you can
slip in an extra oyster and bite off an extra piece of celery in
between the sentences, take a drink of dry ginger ale and be all
set for the big laugh at the end.

"And get this also--if you don't have stories at a dinner table
somebody will start Statistics.  And Statistics are worse than
stories in the ratio of eight to one.  There is, you must remember,
a certain type of man, who goes round filling himself up with
facts.  He knows how many miles of railway track there are in the
United States and the number of illiterates in Oklahoma.  At any
dinner party this man may be there: if he is, conversation turns
into a lecture.  Worse still there may be two of these men.  If
there are, conversation becomes an argument."


Now, this is the worst of all.  Argument at a dinner party ruins
the whole evening for everybody.  One man says something,--let us
say,--about the Civil War,--and some one else contradicts him.--
"You'll pardon ME--" he says, and they're off.  They start
politely.  In two minutes they are speaking with warmth.  In four
minutes they hate one another worse than hell.  First they ask
themselves to pardon one another.  Then they begin referring one
another to books.--"Pardon me," says one, "if you consult any
history of the war, you'll see that Lincoln NEVER meant to set free
the slaves."--"Excuse me," says the other, "if you consult any
biography of Lincoln you'll see that he DID. . . ."

Now you notice that this point about Abraham Lincoln can't be
settled without at least a year's work in a library--and not even

So the argument gets warmer.  The opponents refer one another to
books, then they tell one another to go to Washington and hunt it
up for themselves.  Finally they tell one another to go to hell.

Meantime there is a maid behind one of them trying to give him a
creamed celery out of a dish which he keeps knocking over, and a
maid pouring hot asparagus with drawn butter over the other one's
shirt front.

And the dinner party is a failure.  Those two men will carry their
quarrel right on after the men are left alone; they'll fetch it up
to the library, they'll keep it all through bridge and take it home
with them.

Think how much softer and easier if some one had said, "Talking
about California, reminds me of an episode in India." . . .  How
quietly the asparagus would have circulated then.


And there is more to it than that.  There is, it seems to me, a
sort of humble pathos surrounding the gentle story teller wanting
to get his little anecdote in, and generally having to try several
times for an opening.

He begins among the oysters.

"Speaking of India--" he says.  But a wave of general conversation
washes over him.

Somewhere in the middle of the fish, there is a lull in the talk
and again he says,--"Speaking of India--"  "Now you really MUST
have some of that fish," interrupts his hostess.  And a burst of
talk about fish blows his topic into nothingness.  He tries next at
the roast.  "Speaking of India--" he says, and a maid drops gravy
over him.

And at last, at the happy last, he gets a real chance.--"Speaking
of India," he says, and then his wife breaks in with "Oh! James!"


Madam, do you think it's fair?  It is, of course, a great trial for
a brilliant woman like you to have to drag around a husband like
him.  Of course he's a dud.  You ought really to have married
either Bernard Shaw or Mussolini.

But you didn't.  You just married an ordinary plain man like the
rest of us, with no particular aspirations to be a humorist, or a
raconteur, or a diseuse, or anything of the sort: anxious just to
take some little part in the talk about him.

So, next time, when he begins "Speaking of India--" won't you let
us hear what it was that happened there?

How to Borrow Money


Have you ever, dear readers, had occasion to borrow money?  Have
you ever borrowed ten dollars under a rigorous promise of your word
of honor as a Christian to pay it back on your next salary day?
Have you ever borrowed as much as a million at a time?

If you have done these things, you cannot have failed to notice how
much easier it is to borrow ten thousand dollars than ten, how much
easier still to borrow a hundred thousand, and that when you come
at last to raising an international loan of a hundred million the
thing loses all difficulty.

Here below are the little scenes that take place on the occasion of
an ascending series of loans.


The Scene in Which Hardup Jones Borrows Ten Dollars Till the First
of Next Month from His Friend, Canny Smith

"Say, look here, old man, I was wondering whether perhaps you
wouldn't mind letting me have ten dollars till the end of the

"Ten dollars!"

"Oh, I could give it back all right, for dead sure, just the minute
I get my salary."

"Ten dollars!!!"

"You see, I've got into an awful tangle--I owe seven and a half on
my board, and she said yesterday she'd have to have it.  And I
couldn't pay my laundry last week, so he said he wouldn't leave it,
and I got this cursed suit on the installment plan and they said
they'd seize my trunk, and--"

"Say, but Gol darn it, I lent you five dollars, don't you remember,
last November, and you swore you'd pay it back on the first and I
never got it till away after New Year's--"

"I know, I know.  But this is absolutely sure.  So help me, I'll
pay it right on the first, the minute I get my check."

"Yes, but you won't--"

"No, I swear I will--"

And after about half an hour of expostulations and protests of this
sort, having pledged his soul, his body, and his honor, the
borrower at last gets his ten dollars.


The Scene in Which Mr. McDuff of the McDuff Hardware Store in
Central City (pop. 3,862) Borrows $1,000 from the Local Bank

The second degree in borrowing is represented by this scene in
which Mr. John McDuff, of McDuff Bros. Hardware Store (Everything
in Hardware), calls on the local bank manager with a view to
getting $1,000 to carry the business forward for one month till the
farmers' spring payments begin to come in.

Mr. McDuff is told by one of the (two) juniors in the bank to wait--
the manager is engaged for the moment.

The manager in reality is in his inner office, sorting out trout
flies.  But he knows what McDuff wants and he means to make him
wait for it and suffer for it.

When at last McDuff does get in, the manager is very cold and

"Sit down, Mr. McDuff," he says.  When they go fishing together,
the manager always calls McDuff "John."  But this is different.
McDuff is here to borrow money.  And borrowing money in Central
City is a criminal act.

"I came in about that loan," says McDuff.

The manager looks into a ledger.

"You're overdrawn seventeen dollars right now," he says.

"I know, but I'll be getting my accounts in any time after the

Then follows a string of severe questions.  What are McDuff's daily
receipts?  What is his overhead?  What is his underfoot?  Is he a
church-goer?  Does he believe in a future life?

And at last even when the manager finally consents to lend the
thousand dollars (he always meant to do it), he begins tagging on

"You'll have to get your partner to sign."

"All right."

"And you'd better get your wife to sign."

"All right."

"And your mother, she might as well sign too--"

There are more signatures on a country bank note for one month than
on a Locarno treaty.

And at last McDuff, of Everything in Hardware, having pledged his
receipts, his premises, his credit, his honor, his wife, and his
mother--gets away with the thousand dollars.


How Mr. P. O. Pingpoint, of the Great Financial House of Pingpoint,
Pingpong and Company, New York and London, Borrows a Million
Dollars before Lunch

Here the scene is laid in a fitting setting.  Mr. Pingpoint is
shown into the sumptuous head office of the president of the First
National Bank.

"Ah, good morning," says the president as he rises to greet Mr.
Pingpoint, "I was expecting you.  Our general manager told me that
you were going to be good enough to call in.  Won't you take this
larger chair?--you'll find it easier."

"Ah, thank you.  You're very comfortable here."

"Yes, we rather think this a pleasant room.  And our board room, we
think, is even better.  Won't you let me show you our board room?"

"Oh, thanks, I'm afraid I hardly have the time.  I just came in for
a minute to complete our loan of a million dollars."

"Yes, our executive Vice-President said that you are good enough to
come to us.  It is very kind of you, I'm sure."

"Oh, not at all."

"And you are quite sure that a million is all that you care to
take?  We shall be delighted, you know, if you will take a million
and a half."

"Oh, scarcely.  A million, I think, will be ample just now; we can
come back, of course, if we want more."

"Oh, certainly, certainly."

"And do you want us to give any security, or anything of that

"Oh, no, quite unnecessary."

"And is there anything you want me to sign while I am here?"

"Oh, no, nothing, the clerks will attend to all that."

"Well, thanks, then, I needn't keep you any longer."

"But won't you let me drive you up town?  My car is just outside.
Or, better still, if you are free, won't you come and eat some
lunch with me at the club?"

"Well, thanks, yes, you're really extremely kind."

And with this, quite painlessly and easily, the million dollars has
changed hands.

But even that is not the last degree.  Eclipsing that sort of
thing, both in case and in splendor, is the international loan, as
seen in--


The Scenes Which Accompany the Flotation of an Anglo-French Loan in
the American Market, of a Hundred Million Dollars, by the Right
Hon. Samuel Rothstein of England and the Vicomte Baton Rouge de
Chauve Souris of France

This occurrence is best followed as it appears in its triumphant
progress in the American press.

NEW YORK, Friday--An enthusiastic reception was given yesterday to
the Right Hon. Mr. Samuel Rothstein, of the British Cabinet, and to
the Vicomte de Chauve Souris, French plenipotentiary, on their
landing from the Stacquitania.  It is understood that they will
borrow $100,000,000.  The distinguished visitors expect to stay
only a few days.

NEW YORK, Saturday--An elaborate reception was given last evening
in the home of Mrs. Bildermont to the Right Hon. Samuel Rothstein
and the Baron de Chauve Souris.  It is understood that they are
borrowing a hundred million dollars.

NEW YORK, Monday--The Baron de Chauve Souris and the Right Hon.
Samuel Rothstein were notable figures in the Fifth Avenue church
parade yesterday.  It is understood that they will borrow a hundred
million dollars.

NEW YORK, Tuesday--The Baron de Chauve Souris and the Right Hon.
Samuel Rothstein attended a baseball game at the Polo Grounds.  It
is understood that they will borrow a hundred million dollars.

NEW YORK, Wednesday--At a ball given by Mr. and Mrs. Ashcoop-
Vandermore for the distinguished English and French pleni-
potentiaries, Mr. Samuel Rothstein and the Baron de Chauve
Souris, it was definitely stated that the loan which they are
financing will be limited to a hundred million dollars.

NEW YORK (Wall Street), Thursday--The loan of $100,000,000 was
subscribed this morning at eleven o'clock in five minutes.  The
Right Hon. Mr. Rothstein and the Baron Baton Rouge de Chauve Souris
left America at twelve noon, taking the money with them.  Both
plenipotentiaries expressed their delight with America.

"It is," said the Baron--"how do you call it?--a cinch."


And yet, six months later, what happened?  Who paid and who didn't?

Hardup Jones paid $5.40 within a month, $3.00 the next month and
the remaining one dollar and sixty cents two weeks later.

McDuff Bros. met their note and went fishing with the manager like
old friends.

The Pingpoint Syndicate blew up and failed for ten million dollars.

And the international loan got mixed up with a lot of others, was
funded, equated, spread out over fifty years, capitalized, funded
again--in short, it passed beyond all recognition.

And the moral is, when you borrow, borrow a whole lot.

Life's Minor Contradictions


Isn't it funny how different people and things are when you know
them from what you think they are when you don't know them?

For instance, everybody knows how much all distinguished people
differ in their private lives from what they appear to the public.
We all get used to being told in the papers such things as that in
his PRIVATE life Signor Mussolini is the very gentlest of men,
spending his time by preference among children and dolls; that in
his PRIVATE life Dean Inge, the "gloomy Dean" of St. Paul's
Cathedral, is hilariously merry; and that Mr. Chesterton, fat
though he appears in public, is in private life quite thin.

I myself had the pleasure not long ago of meeting the famous Mr.
Sandpile, at that time reputed to be the most powerful man in
America, and giving public exhibitions of muscular strength of a
most amazing character.  I was surprised to find that in his
private life Sandpile was not a strong man at all, but quite
feeble.  "Would you mind," he said to me, "handing me that jug?
It's too heavy for me to lift."

In the same way, I recall on one occasion walking down a street in
an English seaport town late one night with Admiral Beatty--I think
it was Admiral Beatty, either Beatty or Jellicoe.  "Would you
mind," he said, "letting me walk behind you?  I'm afraid of the
dark."  "You mean of course," I said, "only in your private life."
"Certainly," he answered.  "I don't mind it a damn in daylight."

Few people know that Mr. Henry Ford cannot drive a motor car, that
Mr. Rockefeller never has any money, and that Thomas Edison has
never been able to knit.

But lately I have been noticing that these contradictions extend
also to institutions and things in general.  Take for instance, a
circus.  In past generations it was supposed by many of the best
supposers that circus people were about as tough an "aggregation"
as it was possible to aggredge.  But not at all.  Quite the other

Not long ago a circus came to our town and I had the pleasure of
spending some time with one of the clowns--he was studying for a
Ph.D. in private life--and of getting a good deal of information
from him as to what a modern circus is like when seen from the

I expressed my astonishment that he should be a clown and also a
Philosophy student.  "Not at all," he said, "there's nothing
unusual about that.  As a matter of fact, four of our clowns are in
philosophy, and the ringmaster himself is studying palæontology,
though he is still some distance from it.  Nearly all our clowns
are college men: they seem specially fitted for it somehow.

"And most of our trapeze ladies are college girls.  You can tell a
college girl on a trapeze at any time.  You must come over and see
us," he added, "we are having a little sort of gathering on Sunday
afternoon--one of our Fortnightly Teas.  We generally have a little
reading and discussions.  We take up some author or period and some
one reads a paper on it.  This afternoon we are to discuss the
Italian Renaissance and the bandmaster is to deal with Benvenuto

"We have a welfare Society, and a Luncheon Club, and our Big Sister
Movement.  As to drunkenness," he added, "the other day some one
brought in a bottle of Ontario four per cent beer and our manager
was terribly distressed about it.  He gave it to the kangaroo."

It seems impossible to doubt the truth of his words, especially
when we corroborate them with similar disclosures about other

Take, for example, some information which I recently received in
regard to cowboys from a man who had just made a tour in the West.

"You are quite mistaken," he told me, "in imagining that the
western cowboy is the kind of 'bad man,' all dressed up in leather
fringes, that you read about in the half-dime novels.  As a matter
of fact, most of the cowboys nowadays are college men.  There seems
to be something in a college training which fits a man for cattle.

"They are principally law students.  Few of the cowboys of today
undertake to ride, for of course they don't need to.  They mostly
use cars in going after the cattle, and many of them, for that
matter, can't drive a car.  They have chauffeurs.  And in any case,
the cattle of today are very quiet and seldom move faster than a
walk or a run.

"The cowboy has naturally long since discarded his peculiar dress
and wears just a plain lounge suit with a thin duster and motor
goggles.  Of course, they change for dinner at night, especially
when invited out to dine with the Indians, or at one of the section
men's clubs beside the railway track.  But you ought to go out and
see them for yourself."

I admitted that I ought.

Meantime I notice the same kind of contradiction in another set of
institutions, but this time turned the other way around.  I'll give
as an example of it the newspaper account of the entertainment (it
is an annual affair) that was given in our town the other night
under the auspices of the Girls' Uplift Society in aid of the
Rescue Fund for Sunken Delinquents.

"The Revue put on last week by the Girls' Uplift Society in the
Basement of the Seventh Avenue Social Center certainly outclassed
any of the previous performances of the Society.  The chorus
dancing of the Rescue Squad was pronounced worthy of the Midnight
Follies of the metropolis itself, and the pastor in his remarks
spoke especially of the trapeze work of the Mothers' Aid.

"The pastor drew attention, however, to the fact that this year
more than ever there had been complaints about the young ladies
bringing flasks to their dressing rooms.  He himself--he admitted
it reluctantly--had not seen any of these flasks and could not
speak of the contents.  But the janitor had picked up twenty-six.
He himself, however, had looked all round the basement, but had
failed to find any.

"He deplored also the increasing prevalence of smoking at the
performances.  He himself saw no harm in a good cigar, for himself,
especially in a well-seasoned twenty-five-cent dark Habanana, which
he said beat Virgyptian tobacco hands down.  But he looked on a
cigarette as a mighty poor smoke."

When we add to the disclosures of this sort such minor and obvious
facts as that nowadays sailors can't swim, and clergymen swear, and
brewers don't drink, and actors can't act--we have to admit that we
live in a changing world.

A Great Life in Our Midst


One's first impressions of Joe Brown, champion pie-eater, is that
of a quiet, unassuming man, of a stature in no way out of the
common, and having a frank, offhand manner that puts one at once at
one's ease.

"Sit right down," he said to the group of us (we were reporting for
the press), and he waved his hand towards the rocking-chairs on the
veranda.  "Sit right down.  Warm, ain't it?"

The words were simple, but spoken with a heartiness and good will
that made one at once feel at home.  It seemed hard to believe that
this was actually the man who had eaten more pie, more consecutive
pie, than any other man alive--still alive.

"Well, Joe," we said, getting out our notebooks and pencils, "what
about this pie?"

Mr. Brown laughed, with that pleasant, easy laugh of his, which
makes one feel entirely reassured.

"I rather supposed you boys were going to talk about the pie," he

"Well," we admitted, "all the world is talking about it, Joe.
Coming right on top of the news that a man has played golf
continually for twenty-four hours and that a woman in Indiana
shucked peas for three days, and that the huckleberry record has
been broken, that a man in Medicine Hat, Alberta, stood on one leg
for seven hours, and that the champion fat boy of Iowa passed four
hundred pounds last week, this pie stuff of yours seems to be going
over pretty big."

"Yes," said Mr. Brown, quietly, "there are big things being done
to-day certainly, and I'm glad to be in it.  And yet I don't feel
as if I had done anything so very much after all."

"Oh, come, Joe," we expostulated, "in New York they are saying that
your pie act is about the biggest endurance stunt of the month.  It
puts you, or it ought to, right in the first rank of the big men

"Well," said the champion modestly, "I'm afraid I can't take too
much credit for it.  I just did my best, that was all.  I wasn't
going to let it beat me, and so I just put into it every ounce of
pep, or pepsin, that I had."

"What first turned you to eating pie, Joe?" asked one of the boys.

"It's hard to say," he answered.  "I think I just took to it
naturally.  Even as a little fellow, before I understood anything
about it, I was fond of pie and liked to see how much I could eat."

"How did it feel when you ate the first slice in the championship?"
asked one of the boys.

"No," broke in another, "tell us about your training, Joe--how did
you go at that?"  "No," said a third, "tell us what was the most
trying moment of the whole contest."

The great man laughed.  "I'm afraid you boys are asking a whole lot
of questions altogether," he said.  "But the main facts are simple
enough, and, as I see it, nothing so very much to boast about.

"As for the championship contest," he continued, and a look of
quiet earnestness came over his face as he spoke, "I can only say,
boys, that I'm glad it's over.  It was a strain, a great strain.
I'll never forget how I felt as we passed the twentieth slice and
then the thirtieth and then the fortieth.  I said to myself,
'Surely this can't last; there must come a time when it just can't
go on.'  Something seemed to make me understand that.

"I'd run into a burst of speed from the twentieth up to the
thirtieth, with a stroke of two bites to the second, but I saw I
couldn't hold the pace; I slowed it down to four bites in five
seconds and just hung on to that, till I heard the big shout that
told me I had won.  After that, I guess I pretty well keeled over.
I was all in."

"Were you laid out for long?" some one asked.

"No, just for two or three minutes.  Then I went home, had a bath
and a rub-down, and got something to eat, and then I felt dandy."

"Is it true you're to go over to the other side, Joe?" asked one of
the boys.

"I don't quite know.  My manager wants me to go over to England and
eat pie there.  There are some first-class men in England, so they
tell me, that one would be proud to eat against."

"What about France, Joe?"

"Yes, France, too.  The French have got some good men and some fine
men.  And their technique is better than ours.  They're quicker.
They've done more so far in jaw movement than we have.  If I eat a
Frenchman, my only advantage, if I have any at all, will be in

"Aren't the pie-eating rules in France different, Joe?" asked one
of us.

"They were," said the champion.  "The French used to allow
drinking--up to six gallons--during the contest.  As you know, we
don't.  But now that we have got the International Pie-Eating
Association, we expect to have a set of rules the same for

"Where will you train if you go?" the champion was next asked.

"Most likely," he said, "I'll train at the lunch counters in New
York and some of the big cities.  But the station restaurants are
good too; and I may tackle the cafeterias in some of the big
hotels.  Anywhere, in short, where I can get speed and atmosphere."

"When do you leave for the other side?" we asked.

"Oh, I can't get away just yet.  I have to get my films ready for
the moving picture people.  I'm eating for them four or five hours
a day now, and we're trying out the high-speed pictures."

"What about lectures?"

"Yes, I believe I'm going to give a tour starting next month and
going right to the Coast, lecturing on 'Eating in Relation to

"Doing anything for the schools, Joe?" some one questioned.

"Yes, I think I'm going to give a talk in a lot of the public

"What about?"

"It will be on 'Food in Relation to Eating,' so you see I can't get
away to Europe for a while yet."

We sat thus for over half an hour chatting with this latest and in
some ways most interesting of the world's new champions.  It seemed
wonderful in talking with him to think of the improved attitude of
the human race.  The old-fashioned interest in wars, battles,
economics, and industry is now obviously passing away.  It is being
replaced by the more human, more vital interests of eating pie,
standing on one leg, and shucking huckleberries.

Looking thus at Mr. Joe Brown, we felt ourselves in the presence of
a typical man of the new age.

Presently, however, the champion seemed to show signs of a slight

"Boys," he said," I guess you'll have to excuse me.  I'm beginning
to feel kind of hungry.  I think I'll go inside and get something
to eat."

"What do you generally take as your ordinary diet, Joe?" we asked.

"Pie," he answered.

The Perfect Gift


It so happened that a little while ago I was placed under a very
considerable obligation to my friend and neighbor MacPherson, and I
determined to make him a suitable gift as a small return for his
kindness.  As it was near Xmas, the idea of a Xmas present seemed
both obvious and appropriate.

Now I am one of those who believe that the selection of a gift is
not a matter to be lightly undertaken.  The mere expenditure of
money is of itself nothing; among people who are fairly well-to-do,
it is even less.  What is needed in a gift is some peculiar
appropriateness of time and circumstance, some aptness in the
present that shows to the recipient that the donor has not only
spent his money, but has also devoted his best thought to the
affair in hand.  This lends a peculiar kindliness to the deed.

It was while I was busied with reflections of this sort that I
realized that I had left the Xmas season go by.  I determined to
give MacPherson his present at New Year's.

Meantime, it was a source of gratification to me to observe that
the excellent fellow's friendliness was in no way altered by the
fact that I had given him nothing at Xmas.  His greeting, whenever
we met upon the street, was as hearty and as unconstrained as ever.
It was a further source of gratification to me to reflect that his
New Year's pleasure would be heightened by the receipt of the well-
selected gift that I determined to bestow upon him on that date.

I have always had a peculiar feeling towards the advent of a New
Year.  It seems to me to be a time peculiarly suited to the renewal
of old friendships, the confirmation of existing affections, and
the strengthening of unbroken ties.

A present at the New Year carries for me this meaning; and it
becomes doubly appropriate when accompanied by some well-selected
message, some few but eloquent words that convey to the recipient
even more than does the gift itself the sentiments of the donor.
Such a message, neatly written upon a suitable card or framed
perhaps into a neat turn of verse, is something long to be
remembered when the gift itself is laid aside.

It was while I was thinking of this message that New Year's Day
went past.

The chagrin with which I presently realized this fact soon passed
away.  After all, there is something slightly banal or ordinary in
making gifts at a season of the year when all the world is doing
so.  For at such a time benevolence becomes a trade and charity
itself a tax.  I, therefore, decided to defer my gift till the
middle of January.  This slight lapse of time beyond the so-called
holiday season would give, it seemed to me, an added touch of good

This decision, of course, now gave me plenty of time to look about
me, to consider more carefully MacPherson's tastes and to suit my
gift to his peculiar predilections.  The excellent fellow meanwhile
continued on a footing of undisturbed friendliness that made it a
source of constant satisfaction to me to reflect on the future
gratification that I proposed to confer on him.

But at this point certain unforeseen difficulties arose in the
selection of my present.  I had practically decided upon a gold
watch, the inside of which should contain a brief inscription,
either in English or Latin, or perhaps Gaelic, as appropriate to
MacPherson's nationality.  Indeed, I had virtually decided on
Gaelic as having perhaps a richer flavor, an undertone of something
not found in the Latin tongue.  Such Gaelic phrases as "Hoot, man"
or "Come Awa' Wie Ye" or "Just a Wee Doch-an-Dorris" have a special
appeal of their own.

My intentions in this direction were frustrated.  It so happened
that in a company where we were both present MacPherson drew forth
a gold watch from his pocket for our inspection.  "I don't know,"
he said, "whether I have showed any of you the watch given to me on
New Year's as the outgoing President of the Caledonian Curling
Club."  "What is the inscription on the back?" asked one of the
company.  "It is Gaelic," said MacPherson, "and it reads:  'Hoot,
man, come awa' wi' ye, and hae a wee doch-an-dorris.'"

I had the same ill-luck, also, with my selection of a fishing-rod,
an admirable thing in split bamboo, such as might appeal to the
heart of an angler.  I had practically bought it and the shopman
was about to wrap it up when I was compelled, by a casual remark on
his part, to reconsider my purchase.  "It is a beautiful rod," he
said; "we just sent a mate to it, almost identical, up to the St.
Moritz Country Club.  They are giving it as a presentation to Mr.
MacPherson, their secretary."

It is quite obvious that a present cannot, among people of taste,
be allowed to duplicate something also given.  I found it necessary
therefore to pause and to make inquiries as best I might in regard
to MacPherson's belongings.  I found him so singularly well
equipped that it was difficult to find any article with which he
was not already supplied.

It was while I was making these investigations that the middle of
January went by.

This, however, proved to be a very fortunate thing.  For I
discovered that my friend's birthday was to come on the twenty-
eighth of February.  This would not only afford me a singularly
happy occasion for the presentation I wished to make, but would
allow me also six weeks of undisturbed reflection.

During this period, however, a further difficulty opened in front
of me.  I had not up to this point considered what a singularly
difficult problem is presented to the donor of a present in the
matter of the price that is to be expended on his gift to the
recipient.  To expend too lavish a sum smacks of vulgarity and
display; too small a price betrays the parsimonious thought.  I
therefore considered it wise to decide beforehand exactly what
price would best suit the requirements of perfect taste.  My gift
could then be adapted to that.

The result of very serious calculation led me therefore to believe
that the sum of thirty-seven dollars and fifty cents would coincide
to a nicety with the dictates both of generosity and of restraint.
I decided on that.  But to my chagrin I found that apparently no
object presented itself for my selection that corresponded to that
amount.  The price of $37.50 was exactly the cost of an electric
train, but neither that nor a wicker perambulator (also $37.50)
seemed appropriate.

So serious was this new dilemma that MacPherson's birthday came and
went while I was struggling with it.  The good fellow even invited
me on that occasion to a champagne supper at his house, still
innocently unaware of how narrowly he had escaped my benefaction.

Meantime, I am waiting for Easter, a season of the year when the
bestowal of a gift is accompanied by a feeling of peculiar
reverence and piety.  My present intention is to give MacPherson a
present at Easter.  And perhaps I will; on the other hand, perhaps
not.  I have become so accustomed to being in a state of pleasant
expectation over MacPherson's present that I hate to terminate the

And after all, I am not really so very much concerned about it.
MacPherson is only one of a long list of people to whom during the
past thirty or forty years I have been intending to give
appropriate presents.  If these lines should meet the eye, or the
eyes, of any of them, will they kindly take the will for the deed?

Or, better still, will they please go down to the fifteen-cent
store and pick out anything that they like and charge it to me?

Scenery and Signboards


Passing through the tunnels and leaving behind us the surging
metropolis of New York, we find ourselves traversing the flat,
marshy land of Eastern New Jersey, where ONE HUNDRED ROOMS EACH WITH
A BATH can be had from $1.50 up.  The scenery is not without its
charm, the sunken valley of the Hackensack and the Passaic, the
waving rushes and meandering streams, suggest to the poetic mind,

The ground rises, a varied growth of elm and oak replaces the
lowland flats, and we find ourselves in the rich farm land of New
Jersey filled with FLUID BEEF, which acts directly on the liver.
Here HUMPO may be had for breakfast, and mixed with a little
VITAMINGO will probably prolong our life for twenty years.

Nor need we do anything further than--seated just where we are in
our luxurious club-car--merely remember the name HUMPO, which in
any case comes on every packet and without which the packet is not
genuine.  Indeed, a simple way is to ask the porter to be good
enough to remember HUMPO.

But stop--in our absorption in the view of HUMPO, we have lost an
opportunity to BUILD OUR OWN HOME by merely paying a hundred dollars


We are passing now through historic country.  We do not need our
guide-book to tell us that it is through this beautiful farm
district of New Jersey that Washington advanced, slowly driving the
English before him.  He made his way between a big CONDENSED MILK
board and a UNIQUE RADIO SET FOR 238 DOLLARS.  He picked his steps
with evident caution, avoiding COATS AND PANTS FOR MEN OF ALL SIZES,
for his trained strategic eye detected an opening between CHOW CHOW

This gap had apparently been overlooked by General Howe, and
Washington threw himself into it; a notice on a large board,
erected evidently by some historical society, shows that he
probably enabled himself to do this by taking exercises on the
floor of his bedroom for not more than ten minutes every morning
with the new MUSSELBILD APPARATUS, which would have been sent to
Washington by mail on receipt of a money-order or which he could
have obtained from his local dealer.

The interesting fact in this connection is that the British General
Howe, had he known it, could also have secured a MUSSELBILD from
HIS local dealer, as they are handled in ALL parts of the country.
Had Howe done this and had they both used the SLIDE-EASY SUSPENDERS
that are on each side of the line of the American advance, the
struggle of the Revolution might have moved up and down without the
slightest friction and with no sense of fatigue.

But look, our train is moving into Trenton, one of the most
historic spots in America, where we realize with a thrill by
looking out the window that if we need a slight tonic we can secure
it from any local dealer for nineteen cents.  Our swiftly moving
train is now rushing along the shores of the Delaware, and we can
see the very spot where Washington and his men crossed in the rude
December of 1777; we can shrewdly guess from the notices that have
been reared to mark the spot that they used NON-SKID CHAINS, which
prevented them from skidding or slipping, and that they had at
least an opportunity to reserve rooms with or without baths on the
American plan.

We realize as our train rushes forward that we are approaching
Philadelphia; rooms with baths, breakfast foods, pills, and non-
skid garters multiply on every hand.  If we decide to buy a
COMPLETE NOBBY SUIT, with an extra pair of pants, we are going to
have an opportunity to get it.  Or should we need, in order to view
the historic spots of interest connected with America's first
capital, a SIT-SOFT COLLAR, there are men here, local dealers, who
will be glad to sell it to us.


We have rushed past the city of the great Franklin (inventor, no
doubt, of the Franklin shoe, the Franklin underwear, and the
Franklin adjustable monkey-wrench for stout women), and are now
speeding through the open country again.  Here for a short time the
scenery becomes somewhat monotonous: there is nothing on either
hand but deep green woods, open meadows filled with hay (of what
brand and whether good for breakfast we are not informed), and the
rolling hills and shaded valleys of the Appalachian slope.

Now and then in the distance we catch a glimpse of the sea--
unadvertised, it appears, and put to no use whatever.  We cross on
an endless bridge the broad flood of the Susquehanna, an unused
river, so far as we can judge, lying in the gloomy sunshine with no
touch of color more brilliant than the mere blue of the sky or the
poor green of the woods.


The scene improves as we go forward.  The notices of the boards are
at a little distance now and we cannot read the words, but the
pictures still appear.  We are passing through a country of bulls.
This is, this must be--Washington!  With our faces eagerly set to
the window, we draw near to the National Capital; the speed of the
train somewhat confuses and blurs our vision and mixes the imagery
of the scenery together.

But we infer even from our hurried view of the outskirts of the
capital that if any bull wants silk hosiery that neither rips nor
tears, he is exactly in the right place for it; and that Washington
is exactly in the center of the yeast district, the canned soup
area, that all the great modern medical inventions such as HUMPO,
JUMPO, and ANTIWHEEZE are sold there, and that we can get all the
soap we want;--in short, look about us--here are Rooms with Beds at
$1.50!  Meals à la carte, Suspenders, Garters, Ice Cream in the
Block, Radios, Gramophones, Elixers of Life, Funeral Directors Open
All Night, Real Estate, Bungalows, Breakfast Foods--

In truth--this is America indeed.

The Life of John Mutation Smith


John Mutation Smith was one of the Smiths of Mutation,
Massachusetts.  His family had come over there about three hundred
years ago from England.  His grandfather had married Abigail Price,
of Price's Corners; and so had his great-grandfather; in fact most
of the Mutation Smiths had been marrying Abigail Prices for three
hundred years.

All of which is immaterial to the present discussion, and is only
mentioned by accident.  The real point is that John Mutation Smith
himself differs from those who preceded him, like any other typical
citizen of our own time, and this is the account in brief of his

John Smith was born in Boston and in Philadelphia.  He was never
quite certain on the point, because he was born at about the time
when his father and his second wife (he was her first husband; she
had as yet never married when she married him) moved from an
apartment in Boston to the same apartment in Philadelphia.  Young
Smith's memories often clung fondly to this house where he was
born--or rather, would have done so except that they had torn it
down a little later to put up a garage.

But at any rate Smith's parents didn't remain long in this dear old
home.  They lived for a while in Binghamton, N.Y., and in Oneonta,
N.Y., and in Akron, O.  Smith often used to look back with longing
as he grew older to the dear old homestead in Oneonta where six
months of recollections twined themselves around his heart.

The little playmates of those days endeared themselves to him
forever--except for the fact that he ceased to remember which were
in Oneonta and which in Binghamton and which in Akron.  And he
forgot their names.  Also their faces.  But their memory he never
lost.  As a matter of fact, he met one of them years after selling
real estate out in Fargo, North Dakota--at least, it MUST have been
one of his childhood's playmates because the man in question had
lived in Oneonta (either Oneonta or Onondaga) at the very time when
Mutation Smith was either in Oneonta or Akron.  Things like that
forge a link between grown men not easily broken,--except that
Smith never saw this man again, because he was on his way to
Vancouver, B.C.

Smith always remembered the little red school house where he first
went to school, though he could never be certain where it was.  He
recalled too how the patriotic little fellows used to hoist the
flag in front of the school on the great days of the year.  Only he
was never quite sure what flag it was, because for a while his
father had worked up in Orangeville (Province of Quebec or
Manitoba), and it may have been there.  They used to have patriotic
speeches and patriotic readings (directed either for or against the
United States, Smith never could remember which) on Washington's
birthday or Queen Victoria's.

As a matter of fact, it seems that Mutation Smith's father took out
papers when he got his job in Canada that made him British, but
when he lost his job he took back his papers and got new old ones
again; and then it looked as if he would get a job in Mexico, and
he took out Mexican ones.  So young Smith grew up patriotic, if
nothing else.  He always said that he was all for his country.
Just let him take one look at his papers, he said, to see which it
was and he was all for it.

So much was he inclined that way at college and at his lodge
meetings, later on, he used to be able to recite "Scots, wha hae
wi' Wallace bled!" with tears in his eyes; and also "The Watch on
the Rhine," and "Gunga Din," and "Rise, Japan!" and "Lie Down,
China"--all, I say, with tears in his eyes.

But I am anticipating.  Smith's father's work in Canada and in
Mexico enabled him to get an American education.  He went to
Cornell University, which became for him for the rest of his life
"his dear old Alma Mater."  He felt, as most of the Cornell men
feel, that his college days there marked an epoch in his life.  He
seemed, as it were, to go in a boy, and to come out a man.  And yet
he was not there very long; ten days in fact.  There was something
wrong with his credit in certain subjects that was not sufficient
and the Dean had to remove him.  But when they put him out he was a
man.  The college had done that to him, whether it liked it or not.

Smith always looked back fondly to dear old Cornell.  He used to
say that there was something in its wonderful situation,
overlooking the waters of the Potomac, that appealed to every fiber
in him.

After Cornell, Smith was at the University of Chicago for a term.
This, too, he said, made another man of him.  After that, he was
for two terms at the University of Virginia, a place whose
influence and whose beautiful natural site and buildings, laid out,
as Smith himself loved to recall, by Stonewall Jefferson himself,
made him for the rest of his life a different man; in other words,
he came out different from what he would have been if he had stayed
the same as he would have been if he had not got different.

Smith's credit in various subjects being insufficient at Virginia,
as they had been at Cornell and Chicago, the Dean removed him.
This led to his brief stay at Dartmouth, without which--so at least
he himself thought--his development would not have been what it

Smith went from Dartmouth to the Massachusetts Tech at Boston, as
he wanted to get a glimpse of practical mechanical science.  He got
it and moved to Johns Hopkins to get an inkling of the latest work
in astrophysics.  He got it and left in two weeks, taking it with

Mutation Smith thus became a typical college man of to-day.  All
through his maturer life, he used to love to talk, often through
tears, of his Alma Maters--or rather of his Almas Mater, which is
the proper plural.  He said a college man should stick up for his
Alma Maters, and whenever there was any call for funds for
endowment or re-endowment of any of his colleges, Smith often
subscribed as much as five dollars at a time.

Meantime Mutation Smith, now mature, rendered a different man five
times from what he had been, passed from college into life itself.
And now for the first time women came into his life.  That is to
say, up to now women had never come into it.  They had merely moved
through it like fish through the meshes of a net.  Now they came
and stayed.

Smith's experience with them was very different from the life story
of his forbears in Massachusetts in this respect.  Take the typical
case of his grandfather, John Mayflower Smith.  He never "met"
Abigail Price, who became his wife, because he didn't need to
"meet" her.  When he was seven years old, he gave Abigail an
oyster-shell.  After that he made no sign for four years: but
Abigail kept the shell.

When he was eleven years old, he gave her a "conversation lozenge,"
which had a motto written on it in red poison--"If you love me as I
love you, no knife can cut our love in two."  Abigail kept the
lozenge all her life.  When John Smith was eighteen, he went with
Abigail to a "tea social," in the school-house--and took her home
all alone in broad daylight, the whole four hundred yards to her
house.  After that, of course, he had to marry her.

They were engaged for two years, during which time Smith went to
see Abigail every Sunday from 2 P.M. to 4 P.M., spending most of
his time standing with her father looking at the pig-pen.  They
were both twenty when they were married.  They had eight children,
four boys called John and four girls called Abigail.

John was a good husband to Abigail.  He took her once to the Falls
and once to Boston.  And one day, when she was crying over
something, they say he walked right across the room and kissed her.
After he died, Abigail never married, but spent the rest of her
life talking about him.

But of course none of this kind of thing would apply to John
Mutation Smith, the one under discussion.  He belonged not to that
age, but to this.  I have said that women never came into John
Mutation Smith's life until after his college days, never in any
serious way.  There was, of course, a certain element in his life,
as in that of the young men of to-day, that suggested the
possibility of love.  There was, for example, little Janey Doodoo,
whom he knew in his first year at college.

He used to take little Janey out in his Ford, and kiss her--a few
dozen times at a time--and squeeze her up to about a pressure of
eight pounds to the square inch.  And Janey would wind herself
around him and stroke his hair back and push his ears up and turn
his collar crooked.  But it was just a boy and girl affair.  At
least, that was all it seemed, to look at it--just a boy and a

Then there were Nettie Nitty and Nina Nohow and Posie Possum--all
girls at college.  John took them out sometimes for the afternoon,
sometimes for the evening--sometimes, even to the town soda-
fountain.  Smith used to love to look back later on to this first
dawning awakening of affection with the first six girls that he
ever loved.  There is nothing so beautiful in life as love's young
dream, and when it comes six abreast, it is overwhelming.

Still, after all, it amounted to but little.  It cost next to
nothing, involved no legal consequences, no action in the courts,
no mental collapse, and no question of the penitentiary--in short,
it was not love.

Reality only came to John Smith in this respect after he left
college and went out into the world.  It was here, right out in the
world, that he married Abigail Price.  It was the first time either
of the young people had ever been married.  They lived in a tiny
apartment and sang and laughed and were happy all day long, for the
whole ten days of their marriage.

They might have stayed married ever so long, only John's boss--he
had gone into the flour and feed business--wanted him to move to
Ypsilanti, Michigan, and Abigail didn't like the name.

So they parted, still friends, while there was yet time.  John
Smith used to look back to those bright earlier days of the first
marriage he ever made with a sigh of regret.  Certain things, he
used to say, seem only to come once in life; and a first marriage
is one of them.

In Ypsilanti, John married Mrs. Thompson--Bessie Thompson.  That
was, as nearly as he could remember, her name; but it may have been
Jessie.  The marriage turned out to be an error, a fatal error, one
of those life errors that we make in love.  Within a month each
realized that he, or she, didn't love her, or him.  John found
himself staring at the blank wall--it seems the only thing to do in
that case--and realizing that his life was wrecked.

Mrs. Thompson stared at the other wall.

They parted.  And for a long, long time, nearly a year, John Smith
remained unmarried.  His heart, he said, was numb.  He drove out a
little in a buggy with one of the local girls.  But his heart was
numb all the time they were out.

John's business in the flour and feed failed.  So he moved away and
opened a drug store in Montpelier, Vermont, and then closed the
drug store and went into the wholesale and retail cigar business in
Topeka, Kansas.  And after that he was for a while up in Canada in
real estate in Saskatoon, and after that he went into the school
book business on Commission in Bangor, Maine, with a side line of
patent ginger ale bottle tops.

John always said that he felt the full charm of business life--the
joy that so many have felt in founding a business and seeing it
grow and expand for perhaps three or four months, before it

During all these years of his business life, Mutation Smith was
married--in fact, several times.  But there were no children.  The
rules of the apartments where they lived never permitted it--except
in Saskatoon, but then there were no apartments in Saskatoon.

In the end, John began to grow old.  He would sit for hours in the
chimney corner, or rather in the gas grate, musing on his past
life, thinking of all his birthplaces, and all his playmates, and
of each of his first loves, and of the dear old town, each of the
dear old towns, where the old crowd, all the old crowds, could be
pictured waiting to welcome him--if he could only sort them out in
his mind.

And thinking thus, I imagine that John Mutation Smith, child and
citizen of our time, often grew thoroughly sick of the time in
which he lived.

Meantime in the merely worldly sense Smith had accumulated a very
fair competence.  He had done well out of his failures at Ypsilanti
and two or three other places, he had had a disastrous fire in
Topeka on which he had cleaned up a good deal, and he had incurred
a total bankruptcy in Saskatoon that had put him on his feet.

But his heart was sad.  He often asked himself what his life had
amounted to anyway, and it didn't add up to much.

And now I hear, quite recently--or perhaps I have imagined--a
strange thing about John Mutation Smith, namely, that he is about
to make a new move in life.

It seems that he met again the other day Abigail Price--the same
one of long ago.  And Abigail, like all the Abigails, has waited
and has never married again.

And they are going to be remarried and are going to go back and
settle again in Mutation, Massachusetts, where nothing ever
changes.  They have bought a frame house with walnut trees in front
of it.  They are old people now, of course, nearly thirty-six both
of them, but it's a large house, such a large house, and there are
no rules against children within fifty miles.  So perhaps you can't

Inference as an Art


I suppose that there is nothing so fascinating to the human
intellect as the following out of a close chain of reasoning--the
kind of thing that is called in the detective stories "an
inexorable concatenation of logic."  Perhaps it is the detective
story that has made this kind of thing so fashionable in our

Personally I must say that I like now and then to try my hand at
such an exercise, and to see what conclusions I can draw in regard
to the casual people whom I meet or see--a stranger observed on a
train or a random passenger on a street-car.  No doubt I am not
alone in this.  I imagine that the attempt to unravel the mystery
of our fellow-men in this fashion is a favorite pastime with many
of us.

I lay no claim to any particular skill in observation or reasoning
power.  But I may at least say that interest and industry have
brought to me what might seem a rather surprising measure of
success; so much so that at times I find myself "arguing out" the
person whom I see with results that presently justify each separate
stage of my reasoning.


I had, no later than last week, a curious illustration of this.  It
happened that I was on a train, in a chair-car, going north from my
own city for a vacation in the woods.  At such-and-such a station--
the name is of no consequence; if necessary, though, I could
furnish it upon request--there entered into the train a party of
five persons.  I set myself to observe them quietly from behind my

It was at once evident that they all knew one another.  The fact
that they got on the train together, that they were all talking
together, and that one, the senior of the party, held the tickets
for all, justified this first step of reasoning.

Of the party themselves the oldest was a man of about thirty-five
to forty years, the next a lady perhaps a little younger, then a
girl in her teens, and finally two little boys dressed almost
alike.  Here then was a second problem--what was the connection or
relationship between them?  I set myself to thinking it out.  Under
what circumstances does a man carry with him two little boys in
similar suits?  Why should a woman say to a man, "Have you got the
children's hold-all?"  Hold-what?  And why were they holding it?

The explanation came upon me, as such things often do, with a
sudden flash.  The five persons were a family!  The man was the
father, the lady was his wife, and the two little boys, identical
in dress, strongly alike in features, were brothers!!

Another conclusion followed almost immediately.  They were starting
on a summer vacation--the man, for instance, was carrying what I
recognized to be a fishing-rod, the girl in her teens had under her
arm a tennis racket in a case, and the porter had carried in for
them a long leather bag with wooden sticks protruding over the top,
which a little close reasoning showed to be golf clubs!

This neat piece of deduction carried with it quite naturally a
further conclusion.  This was to the effect that their vacation was
to be spent on or near (or under) the water.  The two little boys
each had with him a toy yacht.  These, I argued, would only float
on water, and hence in the mountains or on a farm would be of no
purpose.  In addition to this, each child had on its head a sailor
hat with the legend H.M.S. Resolute.  If not water, the boys would
hardly have been named after a ship.

The reader might ask at this point, how can I speak with such
confidence of child, of children, of a girl in her teens?  How
could I know that they were children?  I answer very simply that I
could not and did not KNOW it.  I argued it only as a fair
inference from their appearance.

On the basis thus laid down, I was able next to name to myself the
exact destination of my unknown acquaintances.  At the end of the
line is a well-known summer resort, situated beside a lake.  The
train was to go to this point as its terminus and it was to stop
nowhere else in between.  Therefore the passengers were going to
this station.  This was but logic.

I now set myself to see what further information I could piece
together in regard to the personality, etc., of the group under
observation.  Here I must admit that my conclusions were halting
and more slowly formed.  Yet bit by bit I made progress.  I
observed that the lady presently took out a newspaper, and holding
it right side up, remained for some time with her eyes fixed upon
it.  I inferred from this that she could read and write.

Meantime a similar observation of her husband convinced me that he
was a lawyer.  He sat for some time reading, or at least observing,
a volume which bore the title "Law Reports," from his pocket there
protruded a newspaper or journal with the heading in capitals
"CANADA LEGAL TIMES," and he carried with him a bag of the kind
commonly known as a brief-case.  The inference was that he was
either a lawyer or a liar.

So far, then, my conclusions were that the party consisted of a
well-to-do lawyer and his wife (well-to-do because they rode on the
train instead of walking) going on, or proceeding on, a vacation
to, or in, the water.

The next step was to try to work out their names.  This I admit is
a far more difficult process.  Whether a name can actually be
transferred from mind to mind by intense concentration of thought
is an open question.  Perhaps it can and perhaps it can't.  At any
rate, in this case I failed entirely, in spite of sitting with my
mind intensely concentrated (till aroused by the conductor).

But where internal reasoning fails, observation may succeed.  And
so it proved.  By keeping my ears open, instead of my mind, I was
soon able to educe that the man's name was Henry.  I argued this
from the fact that his wife said, "When are we supposed to get in,
Henry?" and a little later, "You sent a telegram, didn't you,

The man's answer, "Yes," could be construed as an admission that
his name was Henry.

The wife's name, I divined, or at least diagnosed, to be either
Bessie or Mum.  The man addressed her as Bessie, the children Mum.
Later on it occurred to me that the word Mum was a short, or
abbreviated, form of Mother.  Very shortly afterwards, also, I was
able to reason that the man's name was Henry Williams.  Stamped in
black letters on the end of one of his valises was the legend H.
Williams.  Could anything be more convincing?


Indeed, just as I concluded this chain of reasoning, I realized
that I knew them. . . .  In fact, the man came across the car and
sat down beside me.

"How are you?" he said.  "Off on a vacation to the lake, I suppose?
I'm just taking Bessie and the kids up there for a fortnight."

Then I realized that of course he was Henry Williams.  I've known
him and Bessie Williams for about sixteen years.  In fact, I think
that one of the little boys, I forgot which, is my godson.


The trouble is that I am often so tied up in these chains of logic
that I get tangled.

Our Get-Together Movement


I want to tell about the Get-Together Movement we've been carrying
on in our town, because I think it will be a help to people to get
together in other towns.

The way it began was this.  For some time past some of us had been
feeling that we didn't get together enough.  Whether it was from
lack of opportunity or from lack of initiative, I don't know.  But
the fact was that we weren't getting together.  So some of us began
to think of how we could manage to get together better.

So the idea came up that a good way to start a movement in that
direction would be to hold a lunch as a start.  We thought if we
could get together at a lunch it might serve as a beginning.  So we
began with a lunch.

Or rather, I should say that before we had the lunch a few of us
got together at breakfast to work up the lunch.  I don't know whose
idea it first was, but at any rate a little group of us went and
had breakfast at one of the hotels.  We just had a plain breakfast--
just cereals and grapefruit and eggs and bacon and a choice of
steak--in fact, just the things they either had on the bill of fare
or could get on half an hour's notice.  It was quite informal.  We
put one of ourselves in the chair, as president, and had no
speeches or anything of the sort except that the president said a
few words, mainly about getting together and one or two about how
the other men just added a word or two about how we hadn't been
getting together in the past and hoping that in the future things
would be different and we would get together.

It was felt at the same time that the purpose of the club should be
service, and it was decided that a good form of service would be to
eat lunch.

So the lunch came off soon after and was an unqualified success in
every way.  The president explained the aim of the organization,
and a simple outline of a constitution was drawn up.  For the use
of others I append here the two or three principal clauses:

Aim of the organization--To get together.

Means to be taken to accomplish it--By coming together.

Purpose of the organization--Service.

Means of effecting it--By cultivating in the members a sense of

Politics of the organization--None.

Religion of the members--None.

Ideas represented--None.

Education and other tests for membership--None.

Fees, outside of food--Nothing.

The constitution was voted with a great deal of enthusiasm.  When
the lunch broke up, it was felt that a real start had been made.

Well, having the lunch encouraged us to go right on, and so the
next thing we had was a dinner.  There was a feeling that you can
get men together at a dinner where they sit together in a way in
which you can't unless you do.

Of course, it took a good deal of work to get the dinner, a lot of
spade work and team work.  It's always that way.  But at last we
got over a hundred pledged to eat dinner and ventured to pull it

It certainly was a big success.  It was quite informal.  We just
held it in one of the big hotels, taking the ordinary table d'hôte
dinner that the hotel served that night and letting the members
just come in and sit down and start eating when they liked and get
up and leave just when they wanted to.

There were no speeches--just the president and one or two gave ten
minutes' talk on service and community feeling.  The president said
that the way to get these was by getting together: he said that we
had already done a lot just by sheer ground work and he wanted us
all to hang right on and stick to it and see it through.

Well, since then we've been keeping the lunches and dinners going
pretty regularly.  And as a result we feel that we are beginning to
know one another.  I sat next to a man the other night whom I don't
suppose I would have ever got to know if I hadn't sat next to him.
We both remarked upon it.  In fact, I don't think there's any
better way to get next to a man than by sitting next to him when
he's eating.  You get a community feeling out of it.  This man--I
forget his name--said so too.

But we've cut out the local speakers.  Somehow our members don't
care to listen to one another.  They all seem to feel that you get
more community feeling, a far better sense of genuine fellowship,
from an outsider.  So we take our speakers now from a good way off.

And we've certainly had some wonderful talks.  One of the first--I
think the man was a professor--was a great talk; it was on "How to
Be 100 Per Cent Yourself"; and there was another on "How to Get 100
Per Cent Outside Yourself"; and others on "How to Think 100 Per
Cent" and on "How to Be 100 Per Cent Awake."

There's no doubt the organization has done a whole lot towards
bringing us all together.  When the members meet on the street,
they always say, "Good morning!" or "How are you?" or something of
that sort, or even stop for a second and say, "Well, how's it
going?" or "How's the boy?"

In fact, you can generally tell the members of our organization on
the street just by the look on their faces.  I heard a man say the
other day that he'd know them a mile off.

So what we feel is that there must be men of the same stamp as
ourselves in other towns.  We ought to know them and they ought to
know us.  Let's start something to get together.


A Lesson on the Links


It is only quite recently that I have taken up golf.  In fact, I
have only played for three or four years, and seldom more than ten
games in a week or at most four in a day.  I have only had a proper
golf vest for two years: I only bought a "spoon" this year and I am
not going to get Scotch socks till next year.

In short, I am still a beginner.  I have once, it is true, had the
distinction of "making a hole in one," in other words of hitting
the ball into the pot, or can, or receptacle, in one shot.  That is
to say, after I had hit, a ball was found in the can and my ball
was not found.  It is what we call circumstantial evidence--the
same thing that people are hanged for.

Under such circumstances I should have little to teach to anybody
about golf.  But it has occurred to me that from a certain angle my
opinions may be of value.  I at least bring to bear on the game all
the resources of a trained mind and all the equipment of a complete

In particular I may be able to help the ordinary golfer--or
"goofer"--others prefer "gopher"--by showing him something of the
application of mathematics to golf.

Many a player is perhaps needlessly discouraged by not being able
to calculate properly the chances and probabilities of progress in
the game.  Take, for example, the simple problem of "going round in
bogey."  The ordinary average player such as I am now becoming--
something between a beginner and an expert--necessarily wonders to
himself "Shall I ever be able to go around in bogey; will the time
ever come when I shall make not one hole in bogey, but all the

To this, according to my calculations, the answer is overwhelmingly
"yes."  The thing is a mere matter of time and patience.

Let me explain for the few people who never play golf (such as
night watchmen, night clerks in hotels, night operators,
astronomers and negroes), that "bogey" is an imaginary player who
does each hole at golf in the fewest strokes that a first-class
player with ordinary luck ought to need for that hole.

Now an ordinary player finds it quite usual to do one hole out of
the nine "in bogey,"--as we golfers, or rather, "us goofers," call
it,--but he wonders whether it will ever be his fate to do all the
nine holes of the course in bogey.  To which we answer again with
absolute assurance, he will.

The thing is a simple instance of what is called the mathematical
theory of probability.  If a player usually and generally makes one
hole in bogey, or comes close to it, his chance of making any one
particular hole in bogey is one in nine.  Let us say, for easier
calculation, that it is one in ten.  When he makes it, his chance
of doing the same with the next hole is also one in ten; therefore,
taken from the start his chance of making the two holes
successively in bogey is one-tenth of a tenth chance.  In other
words it is one in a hundred.

The reader sees already how encouraging the calculation is.  Here
is at last something definite about his progress.  Let us carry it
further.  His chance of making three holes in bogey one after the
other will be one in a thousand, his chance of four one in ten
thousand and his chance of making the whole round in bogey will be
exactly one in 1,000,000,000,--that is one in a billion games.

In other words, all he has to do is to keep right on.  But for how
long? he asks.  How long will it take, playing the ordinary number
of games in a month, to play a billion?  Will it take several
years?  Yes, it will.

An ordinary player plays about 100 games in a year, and will
therefore play a billion games in exactly 10,000,000 years.  That
gives us precisely the time it will need for persons like the
reader and myself to go round in bogey.

Even this calculation needs a little revision.  We have to allow
for the fact that in 10,000,000 years the shrinking of the earth's
crust, the diminishing heat of the sun and the general slackening
down of the whole solar system, together with the passing of
eclipses, comets and showers of meteors, may put us off our game.

In fact, I doubt if we shall ever get around in bogey.


Let us try something else.  Here is a very interesting calculation
in regard to "allowing for the wind."

I have noticed that a great many golf players of my own particular
class are always preoccupied with the question of "allowing for the
wind."  My friend, Amphibius Jones, for example, just before
driving always murmurs something, as if in prayer, about "allowing
for the wind."  After driving he says with a sigh, "I didn't allow
for the wind."  In fact, all through my class there is a general
feeling that our game is practically ruined by the wind.  We ought
really to play in the middle of the desert of Sahara where there
isn't any.

It occurred to me that it might be interesting to reduce to a
formula the effect exercised by the resistance of the wind on a
moving golf ball.  For example, in our game of last Wednesday,
Jones in his drive struck the ball with what he assures me was his
full force, hitting in with absolute accuracy, as he himself
admits, fair in the center, and he himself feeling, on his own
assertion, absolutely fit, his eye being (a very necessary thing
with Jones), absolutely "in," and he also having on his proper
sweater--a further necessary condition of first-class play.  Under
all the favorable circumstances the ball only advanced fifty yards!
It was evident at once that it was a simple matter of the wind: the
wind, which was of that treacherous character which blows over the
links unnoticed, had impinged full upon the ball, pressed it
backward and forced it to the earth.

Here then is a neat subject of calculation.  Granted that Jones,--
as measured on a hitting machine the week the circus was here,--can
hit two tons and that this whole force was pressed against a golf
ball only one inch and a quarter in diameter.  What happens?  My
reader will remember that the superficial area of such a golf ball
is 3.1415 times 5/4 square inches multiplied by 4, or, more simply,
4PR2.  And all of this driven forward with the power of 4,000
pounds to the inch!

In short, taking Jones's statement at their face value the ball
would have traveled, had it not been for the wind, no less than 6
1/2 miles.

I give the next calculation of even more acute current interest.
It is in regard to "moving the head."  How often is an admirable
stroke at golf spoiled by moving the head!  I have seen members of
our golf club sit silent and glum all evening, murmuring from time
to time, "I moved my head."  When Jones and I play together I often
hit the ball sideways into the vegetable garden from which no ball
returns (they have one of these on every links; it is a Scottish
invention).  And whenever I do so Jones always says, "You moved
your head."  In return when HE drives his ball away up into air and
down again ten yards in front of him, I always retaliate by saying,
"You moved your head, old man."

In short, if absolute immobility of the head could be achieved the
major problem of golf would be solved.

Let us put the theory mathematically.  The head, poised on the
neck, has a circumferential sweep or orbit of about two inches, not
counting the rolling of the eyes.  The circumferential sweep of a
golf ball is based on a radius of 250 yards, or a circumference of
about 1,600 yards, which is very nearly equal to a mile.  Inside
this circumference is an area of 27,878,400 square feet, the whole
of which is controlled by a tiny movement of the human neck.  In
other words, if a player were to wiggle his neck even 1/190 of an
inch the amount of ground on which the ball might falsely alight
would be half a million square feet.  If at the same time he
multiplies the effect by rolling his eyes, the ball might alight

I feel certain that after reading this any sensible player will
keep his head still.

A further calculation remains,--and one perhaps of even greater
practical interest than the ones above.

Everybody who plays golf is well aware that on some days he plays
better than on others.  Question--how often does a man really play
his game?

I take the case of Amphibius Jones.  There are certain days, when
he is, as he admits himself, "put off his game" by not having on
his proper golf vest.  On other days the light puts him off his
game; at other times the dark; so, too, the heat; or again the
cold.  He is often put off his game because he has been up too late
the night before; or similarly because he has been to bed too early
the night before; the barking of a dog always puts him off his
game; so do children; or adults, or women.  Bad news disturbs his
game; so does good; so also does the absence of news.

All of this may be expressed mathematically by a very simple
application of the theory of permutations and probability; let us
say that there are altogether fifty forms of disturbance any one of
which puts Jones off his game.  Each one of these disturbances
happens, say, once in ten days.  What chance is there that a day
will come when NOT A SINGLE ONE OF THEM OCCURS?  The formula is a
little complicated but mathematicians will recognize the answer at
once as x/1 + x^2/1 . . . x^n/1.  In fact, that is exactly how often
Jones plays at his best; x/1 + x^2/1 . . . x^n/1 worked out in time
and reckoning four games to the week and allowing for leap years
and solar eclipses, it comes to about once in 2,930,000 years.

And from watching Jones play I think that this is about right.

The Family at Football



(More or less like this)

Williamson got the ball and opened up with a low kick down field
against the wind.  Smith punted.  Jones fumbled.  Brown fell down.
Robertson got up.  Peterson tackled low.  Johnson kicked high.
Thompson touched down.  Jackson converted.  Quarter time.  Jones
kicked.  Diplock ran four yards.  Brown was put off.  Thompson came
on. . . .  Yards. . . .  More yards . . . half time . . . quarter
kick . . . punt . . . yards . . . points . . . game.


Certainly it was a wonderful game.  I had on my wine-colored dress
and the hat to match, and it was cold enough so that you could wear
fur around your neck.  That's one of the great things about
football games, you can wear fur.  That's why they play so late in
the season, at least so some of the boys said.  Most of the girls
had on cloth coats, so of course you don't see as much color as at
a ball game in the summer.  But the two teams wore bright-colored

One side--I think it was our side--had bright blue, and the other
side were in dark red.  But they are not a bit careful of their
suits when they play and some of them got into a frightful mess
from falling down by accident on the ground.  But when they get too
dirty the umpire turns them out of the game and takes on a man with
a new sweater.  The boys explained it all to me.

But I really know a lot about the game because my brother Ted plays
on the team.  They give another touch of color by having some of
the boys stand along the edge of the ground with bright bathrobes
on.  The umpires have on white sweaters and there are people called
referees and they wear long white coats to give a touch of light.

The game was terribly exciting.  The side that I think was our side
were all kicking the ball one way and the other side the other way.
Jack was sitting on one side of me and Bruce on the other and they
explained everything so clearly--all about the yards and the
different points--that I could understand practically all of it
very soon after it had happened.  Sometimes, of course, only the
referee understands and the scoring has to be done on a special
board at the end of the field so as to add it up.  But I could tell
which was our side all the time even when they changed courts after
each rubber.

I saw ever so many people that we knew there because where we were
in the grandstand, by standing up and looking round you could see
practically everybody.  I thought a great many of the hats
perfectly sweet.  They seem to be wearing softer colors this
autumn.  I saw one hat of Valencia blue felt that was just a dream.

Papa and Uncle Peter were there, but I don't think they saw us.
They seemed to be looking at the game all the time.

It got tremendously exciting toward the end.  Both sides were
exactly even with the same number of sets and the boys explained to
me that it was just a question now which side could knock down the
referee and sit on him.  No doubt it sounds brutal, but really when
you are there you get so excited that you forget.  Again and again
as he slipped in and out putting the ball into position, they
nearly got him, but each time he slipped out.

Just at the end it got so exciting--I don't know what it was--
something to do with yards, that I stood right up on the seat.  So
did a lot of the girls.  Jack and Bruce had to hold me by the
ankles or I might have fallen.

And in the end, I think that the side that I think was our side won
the whole game!  Wasn't that splendid?

Oh, football is just delicious.


You didn't see the big game to-day?  You certainly missed it.  My
boy Ted was playing in it.  You ought to have been there.  Ted was
playing in the forward line, and I must say Ted put up a great
game.  I tell you, this college football is about as fine and manly
a sport as you can get.

Look at Ted.  Why, Ted was just a little shrimp till I got him
started into football at the prep (I was always keen on the game.
My brother and I both played on the college team in 1895, though
Peter wasn't what you'd call really first class).  Well, look at
Ted now.  Why, he's heavier than I was myself.

Yes, sir, that was a great game today.  At one time they broke
right through the center and they'd have got clear away with it but
for a tackle that my boy Ted made--one of the best tackles I ever
saw, at least in the game today.  Of course, they do less running
than we did, but Ted got in one pretty good run today.  Ted's quick
on his feet, and what's more, Ted can use his head.  Now there was
one time to-day when Ted--Ted--Ted--Ted--Ted.


I must tell you all about the perfectly wonderful football game
last Saturday.  I hadn't seen Ernest for three days and I was
afraid that something had happened or that I had said something,
because once before Ernest said that something I said had made him
feel just terrible for days and days till he knew that I hadn't
said what I said.

And then I got a note from Ernest to ask me if he might take me to
the game, and so I knew it was all right.  Papa said, at first,
that he would come with us, but I was so afraid that it might mean
a chill, that I got Flossie to get Mother to get Ted to get Uncle
Peter to take him.

Anyway, it meant that I went with Ernest by ourselves and there was
no one else there, and we had awfully good seats, right up at the
back in a corner.  There was a post partly in front of us, but it
didn't prevent us from seeing anything.

All through the first half of the game--football games are divided
into three or four halves of about five minutes each--Ernest kept
looking into my face in the strangest way.  I felt that he had
something that he wanted to say, and I looked back at him to try to
read in his face what it was, but of course Ernest has the kind of
face that is hard to read even when you look right into it.

Once Ernest seemed to be just going to say something, but at that
very minute, there was a lot of shouting and yelling, something
must have happened, I think, to do with the football.  But
presently, in the second half when the game was less exciting,
because I think that both sides were exactly even or something, and
the time nearly all gone, Ernest quite all of a sudden, put out his
hand and took mine and said that there was nobody in the world who
meant to him what I did and that ever since he had known me he
cared for nothing except me, and that the law office are now giving
him over four hundred dollars a month and that if I wouldn't marry
him he would give up the law altogether and take the first boat to
Costa Rica.

And I said I didn't know what father would say and Ernest said he
didn't care a damn what father would say (Ernest is so manly in the
way he talks) and he offered to break my father's neck for me if I
liked.  So I said that I hadn't ever meant to get married but to be
some sort of sister, but that if he liked, I would get married this
time for his sake.  And just then one of the caretakers came to
tell us that the game was over and the people had gone and they
wanted to sweep up the seats.  So we went home together.

I think football is a perfectly wonderful game.


Yes, I saw the game to-day.  Pretty rotten.  Ed's boy Ted was
playing, and so I went with Ed and his little boy, Billie, to see
the game.  I hadn't seen a game since 1900, but of course Ed and I
both played on the college team, though Ed was no good.  As I see
it, they've pretty well spoiled the old game.  There doesn't seem
to be a rule that they haven't changed.  Why, nowadays you can
hardly understand it.  In my time, of course, the game was far more

Well, for one thing, the fellows could kick further, and the men
were heavier and could shove harder and run faster.  Now the whole
game seems just dead.  My nephew, Ted, has the makings of a good
player in him; he plays something of the kind of game I did.  I've
told him a lot of things.  But you take all these rules about
yards, and downs and offside play, it's all changed; a man can't
understand them.  I sat next to my little nephew Billie--he's Ed's
son, he's eight--and I said, "Can you understand it, Billie?" and
he said, "Not quite, Uncle Peter."

There you are, he couldn't understand it, and I said, "It was a
darned sight better game thirty years ago, Billie," and he said,
"Was it, Uncle Peter?"  He's a bright kid.

But the way they have the game now, there is no interest in it.
There was a whole lot of shouting and yelling, but no enthusiasm.
A lot of them were waving their hats and hooting till they were
hoarse, but there was no enthusiasm.  When I used to play and some
one would shout from the touch line (we used to stand right around
the game then), "Go it, Pete!" well, that was enthusiasm.  You
don't get that now.  Oh, no, the game is gone to hell.


Gee!  It was wonderful!  Gee!


No, please don't go yet.  We've plenty of time for another rubber.
They're all at the football game.  My little boy Ted is playing,
and my two little girls are there, too.  Now, do stay!  And won't
you have another whiskey and soda?

Life in the Open


"Yes, we come up every Fall," she said.  "We're both so
passionately fond of the open air.  Ransome, will you close that
window.  There's a draft."

"Yes, ma'am," said the butler.

"And we love to do everything for ourselves.  Ransome, will you
please pass me that ash-tray from across the table?"

"Yes, ma'am," said the butler.

"And we live here quite without form or ceremony--that's what
makes it so nice, it's all so simple.  Gwendoline, you may put on
the finger-bowls, and tell William to serve the coffee in the
cardroom. . . ."

So I knew then that I was getting an opportunity to observe at
first hand the life in the open, the simple life, right in the
wilderness, of which my richer friends have so often spoken to me.


"We like, you know, the roughness of it," my hostess went on after
we were seated over our coffee--"the journey up and everything.  Of
course, it's not quite so rough to come up now as it used to be,
now that they have built the new motor highway.  This time we were
able to bring up both the town cars, and before that it was always
a question just what we could bring up.

"I DO think the big closed cars are so much nicer when one is
roughing it--Gwendoline, will you pass the cigarettes, please?--
they keep the air out so much better, and our new one, perhaps you
noticed it, is the kind in which you can draw the curtains and
arrange it something like a drawing-room on a train.  We are able
to come up at night in it.  I always think it much nicer--don't
you?--to come up through the mountains at night.  One sleeps better
than in the day."


There was a little pause, during which two noiseless maids removed
the coffee cups and a noiseless man in a semi-feudal dress brought
in picture-book logs for a fire six feet wide.


"Of course, it is not all so easy," continued my hostess.  "The
food up here is always such a question.  Of course, we can always
get meat from the village--there is quite a village now, you know,
though when my husband first came up twenty years ago there was
nothing--and we can get milk and eggs and vegetables from the
farmers, and, of course, the men bring in fish all the time, and
our gardener manages now to raise a good deal of fruit under glass,
but beyond that it is very difficult to get anything.

"Only yesterday, for example, the housekeeper came to tell me that
we had not enough broilers for lunch; somebody had made a silly
mistake and we were one short.  We had to send Alfred (he drives
fastest) back to the city with the big car to get one.  Even then,
lunch was half an hour late.  Things like that happen all the time.
One has to learn to be philosophical.

"But surely it is worth it--isn't it?--for the pleasure of being up
here in the wilderness, so far away from everything and everybody.
I sometimes feel up here as if one were cut off from the whole
world--William, will you turn on the radio?"

"Yes, ma'am," said the footman.

"I think it's the municipal elections and, of course, my husband is
tremendously interested.  His company has been trying to get better
city government for so long; they need pure government because of
their franchises, and it has been costing them a tremendous lot of
money to get it.  What do you say, William, not working?  Then will
you please ask Jones to tell the electricians to look at it?"


My hostess smoked her cigarette in silence for a minute or two,
while her attentive eye followed the maids as they moved about the
room, picking up coffee cups and ash-trays and bringing cigarettes.
"Gwendoline," she said, "I think you had better tell James to give
us more furnace heat and see that there are fires in the upper
bedrooms to-night.  It's turning a little chilly."

"I always like," she continued, turning to me again, "to see to
everything myself.  It takes trouble, but it's the only way.  But,
I beg your pardon, you were asking me something.  Fishing!  Oh,
yes, there is the most glorious fishing up here.  I must tell
Gwendoline to tell Mrs. Edwards to see that they give you fish at
breakfast.  It's just an ideal fishing country, my husband says.
We send William out every morning, and sometimes William and
Ransome both.  Often, so my husband tells me, when the weather is
really clear he has William up and out by four o'clock--my husband
is so fond of early rising, though he can't get up now himself the
way he used to--but he always likes to get William and Ransome out

"They bring back the most beautiful fish.  Trout?  Yes, I think so.
I don't precisely know because, of course, I never go myself, but I
think trout and sea-bass and finnan haddie--they keep us
beautifully supplied.  Was that finnan haddie that you caught this
morning, William?"

"Doré, ma'am."

"Oh, yes, it's the same thing, isn't it?"

"Yes, ma'am, just the same."

"Thank you, William, you can take the glasses; we're done with
them.  You see, William knows all about fish, as he comes from
Newfoundland, do you not, William?"

"No, ma'am, Saskatchewan."

"Some place of the sort, so I thought."


"What do you say--our amusements here?  Oh, we simply don't have
any.  We have always both felt that up here in this beautiful air
(that French window at the end of the room needs closing, Ransome)
it is amusement enough just to be alive.  So we have never bothered
to think about amusements.  Of course, my husband had the billiard-
room built because that is really his one pastime, and this card-
room because it is mine, and we put in the tennis courts, though it
was hard to do, so as to have them for the children.  But that is
all.  We have the golf links, of course--perhaps you noticed them
as you came up.

"It was really quite a triumph for my husband making the course
here.  He did every bit of it himself.  At one time he had nearly
two hundred Italians working.  My husband, as you know, is terribly
energetic; I often call him a dynamo.  The summer when he was
building the golf course he never seemed to stop; always sitting
with his cigar in his mouth first under a tree on one side, looking
at his Italians, and then on the other side--in fact, he was always
SOMEWHERE.  I used to wonder how he could keep it up.


"But I am sorry," concluded my hostess, "I am afraid it is time I
was ordering you all off to bed.  We keep such early hours here
that we go to bed at midnight.

"But perhaps you'd rather stay up a little and play billiards or
cards, and there are always one or two of the servants up--at any
rate till about three, and then, I think, my husband is sending
William fishing.  Good night."

Save Me from My Friends



He has about him such a simple and appealing way, so friendly and
so flattering and so humble.  And each time I KNOW that it is
another ten dollars that he wants, just that, only that--not my
affection nor my converse--just ten dollars.  Yet he gets it--each
time for the last time--he gets it.


Sometimes he meets me in the street, always on a fine day, a fine
warm day with a touch of the springtime, or the summertime, or the
soft touch of autumn or the sunny exhilaration of winter in the
air.  He would never stop me in the rain, or the sleet.  He comes,
by instinct, with the sunshine.  And his manner, so cheery--the
spring tulips are not in it with him.

"And how," he asks, "is your little boy?"

I swallow the bait at once.  "Fine," I answer, "he was not so well
last week, but since Tuesday he's in great shape."

"That's good, that's good," says my deadbeat friend, literally
beaming with pleasure.

It seems impossible to doubt his affectionate concern.

"By the way," he continues, as if in a mere train of thought
incidental to his pleasure over my little boy's health, "I'm glad I
ran into you this morning.  It just happens that to-day I'm rather
squeezed--in fact, I'm in a corner--"

I recognize the situation at once.  I realize that my friend's
troubles always take the form of an angular imprisonment.  That
corner--you'd think that he would learn to keep out in the open!
But no, apparently he gets squeezed, shoved, pushed--all those
things happen to him--and as a result of the squeezing and shoving
and pushing he gets into a corner.

Picture then the situation?  Here's a man in a corner, a man with
an affectionate regard for my little son, and ten dollars will take
him out of that corner.  Refuse him?  Quite impossible.

And after all perhaps it's worth it.  If all my friends would greet
me with the same winning friendliness and the same solicitude, I
think I'd gladly invest ten dollars in each of them.


Unfortunately, however, being pushed into a corner is not the worst
thing that happens to my friend.  Sometimes apparently the ground
opens under him and he falls into a hole.  "Old man," he pleads,
"I'm in a hole--till Tuesday."  I note that there is always a
termination of his sufferings in sight.  By some incurable
optimism, he really thinks so.

However deep the hole--and at times it is described, so to speak,
as a hell of a hole--he will be out of it by Tuesday.  And better
than that, by next month at the latest, any next month, he expects
to "see daylight."  This expectation, I know, he has cherished for
years.  Just what the daylight is, what form it takes, I don't
know.  But my friend confidently expects to see it.

A man, then, who is sunk in a deep hole, but who expects daylight
next Tuesday--certainly that's worth ten dollars.


Sometimes I meet him with other people.  And if I do I know that he
is some one's guest.  If he is in a club, some one has brought him
there.  If he is at the theater, some one has paid for his seat.
If he is at a concert, some one has given him a ticket.

And wherever he is, whatever he regards, always the same
enthusiastic appreciation.  Not for him to criticize!  Not for him
to find the company dull, or the music poor, or the play inferior.
Everything is first rate always; for he is being treated, being
paid for, and has lost the right to be disagreeable.


I have often wondered how it must feel to be such a man.
Staggering along in life, in holes and pitfalls, beaming on surly
acquaintances, cherishing the make-believe illusion of a friendship
that he sold for twenty dollars long ago; homeless himself--for he
lives nowhere--yet entering with admiring words the homes of
others.  "This is a charming room!" he says.  Any room is charming
to him, where there is a free seat, and the chance of lingering to
a meal.  How does it feel, I wonder, to be him?


But notice the queer thing about it.  Never mind his motives, or
WHY he does it, but just take the fact.  How amiable he is!  What
an uncomplaining companion!  What a fund of appreciation of our
lightest jests, what a wealth of sympathy--in words, at any rate--
with our most superficial sorrow.

Judge him just as an appearance, and what a man!  What a heart!


Thinking thus of my friend, the deadbeat, I sometimes apply the
same reasoning to the rest of us.  How agreeable we are when we are
forced to be.  You, my dear reader, in the presence of your
employer, how bright you are, how good-tempered.  When you wish to
tell something, or to get something, how easy and accommodating you
are, how free from irritation.  In other words, each of us, when we
want something, instinctively takes on a pleasant bearing.  And
perhaps if we keep it up it sinks into our character and what was
make-believe becomes reality.


So let it be, or rather so let it might have been, with my poor
friend, the deadbeat.

Might have been, I say, for just of late, just within the last
couple of months, a great change has come over him.

It appears that two months ago he saw daylight--actually saw it.
What caused it I don't know, but the first shape it took was a suit
of new raiment, a stylish coat, a cane with a gold head, a hat in
the latest fashion; and on this followed a suite of rooms in a
first-class hotel, and membership, revived I know not how, in one
of the most exclusive clubs.

What the source of this restored fortune may be I do not know, but
of the existence of the change there seems no doubt.

Nor is the change limited to these externals only.  It goes deeper
than that.  When I talk with my friend on the street now--which is
rare, for he no longer lingers in the sunshine--he does not ask
after my little boy.  He has no time.  He is too busy telling me of
the house that he is building in the most secluded of the suburbs;
he is too much occupied with explaining how rotten was the play he
saw (from a box for which he paid) last night; how inferior the
music and how poor the food at this or that reception.

And of my lost ten dollars, and my twenty, and the two fifteens and
the big hole that cost me fifty--not a word.  He has no thought of
repayment.  It has all passed from his mind.  And after all, why
should he repay?  I realize that the repayment lay in his humble
manner, in his gentle flattering interest, and in the pathos of his
make-believe solicitude.

I must wait till perhaps he will have burned up his new daylight.
And meantime I must keep a ten-dollar bill warm in my pocket for



He came up to me on the platform just after I had finished giving
my address, his notebook open in his hand.

"Would you mind," he said, "just telling me the main points of your
speech?  I didn't get to hear it."

"You weren't at the lecture?"

"No," he answered, pausing to sharpen his pencil, "I was at the
hockey game."

"Reporting it?"

"No, I don't report that sort of thing.  I only do the lectures and
the highbrow stuff.  Say, it was a great game.  What did you say
the lecture was about?"

"It was called 'The Triumphal Progress of Science.'"

"On science, eh?" he said, writing rapidly as he spoke.

"Yes," I answered, "on science."

He paused.

"How do you spell 'triumphal,'" he asked; "is it a PH or an F?"

I told him.

"And now," he went on, "what was the principal idea, just the main
thing, don't you know, of your address?"

"I was speaking," I said, "of our advanced knowledge of radiating
emanations and the light it throws on the theory of atomic

"Wait a minute," he said, "till I get that.  Is it r-a-d-i-a-t-i-n-g?
. . . the light it throws, eh? . . . good. . . .  I guess I got

He prepared to shut his little book.

"Have you ever been here before?"

"No," I said, "it's my first time."

"Are you staying in the new hotel?"


"How do you like it?"

"It's very comfortable," I said.

He reopened his book and scribbled fast.

"Did you see the big new abattoir they are putting in?"

"No," I said, "I didn't hear of it."

"It's the third biggest north of Philadelphia.  What do you think
of it?"

"I didn't see it," I said.

He wrote a little and then paused.

"What do you think," he asked, "of this big mix-up in the city

"I didn't hear of it," I said.

"Do you think that the aldermen are crooked?"

"I don't know anything about these aldermen," I said.

"No," he answered, "perhaps not, but wouldn't you think it likely
that they'd be crooked?"

"They often are crooked enough," I admitted, "in fact, very often a
pack of bums."

"Eh, what's that, a pack of bums?  That's good, that's great"--he
was all enthusiasm now--"that's the kind of stuff, you know, that
our paper likes to get.  You see, so often you go and take a
lecture and there's nothing said at all--nothing like that, don't
you see?  And there's no way to make anything out of it. . . .  But
with this I can feature it up fine.  'A pack of bums!'  Good.  Do
you suppose they took a pretty big graft out of building the

"I'm afraid," I said, "that I don't know anything about it."

"But say," he pleaded, "you'd think it likely that they did?"

"No, no," I repeated, "I don't know anything about it."

"All right," he said reluctantly, "I guess I'll have to leave that
out.  Well, much obliged.  I hope you come again.  Good night."

And the next morning as I was borne away from that city in the
train I read his report in the paper, headed up with appropriate
capitals and subheadings:


Distinguished Lecturer Talks on Christian Science

"The distinguished visitor," so ran his report, "gave an
interesting talk on Christian Science in the auditorium of the
Y.M.C.A. before a capacity audience.  He said that we were living
in an age of radio and that in his opinion the aldermen of the city
were a pack of bums.  The lecturer discussed very fully the
structure of anatomy which he said had emanated out of radio.  He
expressed his desire to hazard no opinion about the question of
graft in regard to the new abattoir which he considers the finest
that he has seen at any of his lectures.  The address, which was
freely punctuated with applause, was followed with keen attention,
and the wish was freely expressed at the close that the lecturer
might give it in other cities."


There!  That's the way he does it, as all of us who deal with him
are only too well aware.

And am I resentful?  I should say not.  Didn't he say that there
was a "capacity audience" when really there were only sixty-eight
people; didn't he "punctuate the lecture with applause," and
"animate it with keen attention"? . . .  What more can a lecturer
want?  And as to the aldermen and the graft and the heading up,
that's our fault, not his.  We want that sort of thing in our
morning paper, and he gives it to us.

And with it, as his own share, a broad and kindly human
indifference that never means to offend.

Let him trudge off into the night with his little book and pencil
and his uncomplaining industry and take my blessing with him.



"They've invited me to attend this darned banquet next month," said
Robinson.  "They want me to propose the toast to Our Country.  I
suppose it's easy enough, eh?"

He spoke with an affectation of indifference, but I knew what he
was feeling underneath.

"I suppose," he went on, "all I have to do is to get up and jolly
them along for fifteen minutes, eh?"

"That's all," I answered, "just jolly them along."


I met him again a week later.

"They've got me down for this banquet on the 12th," he said.  "They
want me to propose Our Country."

"Do they?" I said.

"Yes, and I was thinking that perhaps a good idea might be to say
something about the history of the country, don't you think?"

So then I knew that Robinson had got to the stage of looking up the

"A good idea," I answered.

"I thought," he continued, "that I'd trace it down from early times
and show the way it has come on.  How do you think that would go?"

"I think," I said, "that that would go as far as you like."


"Don't you think," asked Robinson, a few days later, "that it might
be a good idea to work in Christopher Columbus--something about
Columbus having been the first to dine on this continent, something
about his dining à la carte, or à la chart--you see, 'carte' and
'chart'--if I can just work it in.  Don't you think?"

"I think," I told him, "that if you can only work it in, it will
make a tremendous hit."

That afternoon I saw him in the Public Library taking out the Life
of Christopher Columbus.


I happened to meet Robinson a few days later out in the country on
a Sunday walk.

"They've got me down to speak at this big dinner on the 12th," he

"Oh, yes."

"I don't suppose there's any difficulty about doing a thing of that
sort, is there?"

"None whatever," I answered.

From the look on his face, I could realize the stage of anxiety he
had reached.

"I didn't know," I said, "that you were in the habit of walking out

"I don't," he answered, "not usually.  But I thought with this
speech to make next Tuesday week, I'd take long walks so as to be
able to think over a few ideas.  Don't you think that's a good

"Oh, yes," I said, "fine!  How far do you walk each time?"

"Oh, about ten or twelve miles."

"Yes," I said, "that ought to do it."

I watched him disappear a little later along the side of a meadow,
seeing neither the dandelions nor the daisies, but with his mind
riveted on Christopher Columbus, and murmuring in his fancy, "Mr.
Chairman and ladies and gentlemen--"

Such shipwreck does the prospect of a "Pleasant Evening" make of
the human mind.


"I was thinking," he said on the following Saturday, "that a fellow
might get off something about the future of the country, eh?"

"An excellent idea!" I assured him.


"You weren't at church," I said to Robinson, "on Sunday--"

"No," he answered, "I have been working on this damn speech for
this damn banquet; I've got to follow right after the damn
toastmaster.  Gad!  I've got to think up some damn thing or other
to say between now and Tuesday."


On Monday, Robinson was not at his office.  I understood that he
was working at his speech.  I saw the banquet announced in the
newspapers that day and noticed that there were to be fifteen


On Thursday morning I called up Robinson on the 'phone.  "No," he
said, "I'm not coming downtown.  They got me stung to speak at this
cursed banquet to-night on Our Country.  Gad, I don't know what to
say.  I've had no time to study it up."

"Too bad," I said.

"Yes, and what I think I'll do is, I'll write the blasted thing
out.  It's more certain that way, isn't it?"

"Dead certain."


That evening I called Robinson up again about seven-thirty to wish
him success.

His voice sounded muffled.

"I'm not going," he said, "I've caught a sort of a nasty chill.  I
think it's perhaps a touch of bronchitis (here he coughed), or else
it's just a touch of lumbago or sciatica; in fact, I'm in pretty
poor shape.  I guess I'd better not go out to-night.  My wife says
I'd be crazy to go."

"What about your speech?"

"I sent it over," he answered, "Billy Jones is going to read it to
the boys."


Next day I naturally supposed that the episode of Robinson and his
speech was all over.

It soon appeared that it was only beginning.

"Great heavens," he said to me when we met that morning, "did you
see the morning paper?"

"The Chinese massacres?" I asked.

"No, my speech, and Good Gad--Billy Jones!  The paper hardly put in
any of it, anyhow, and left out all the best parts, and what they
did put in Billy Jones got all bashed up."

"Bashed up?"

"Yes, look at this, where I said, 'This country has a great destiny
in front of it,' Billy Jones put it, 'This country has a great
destitution in front of it.'  How the--could he have--"

I didn't stop to hear any more.


Robinson is still talking, even after the lapse of months, of what
he WOULD have said if he had been able to go, of other ideas that
came to him later, of jokes that he thought would have gone down
well, of gags that he would have had half a mind to put in.

And he really thinks--or tries to--that his wife wouldn't let him
go to the banquet.



Now that I am safely returned from my annual fishing and hunting
trip into the northern woods, I wish to set down the truth about my
friend "Ed" the guide.

I do not care to do this in the heart of the woods, nor on the edge
of a waterfall, nor on the waters of a lonely lake.  It might have
hurt his feelings.

I class Ed as my friend because I call him "Ed": if this doesn't
constitute friendship, what will?  In other things we are not so
much connected: in point of race Ed is half English, half French-
Canadian, half Algonquin, and partly from the United States.  I
have heard him say, too, that his mother came from Germany.  In
fact, Ed is a melting pot.

The first thing I object to in Ed as a guide is that he never
seemed to know his way.  A guide ought to know that much anyway.
"I'm not just sure," he used to say, "which way we go here, but I
guess this is the track.  You just carry the canoe up this here
hill and I'll walk ahead and take a look."  Most of the time when
we were on the march I carried the canoe and Ed "took a look" in
various directions, strolling gently among the pine trees.

"You just start a fire," he would say, "while I look and see if
this is the lake where we fish after supper."

I spent most of my time in carrying the canoe, lighting fires, and
washing dishes.  Ed mostly smoked and told stories of other men he
had taken out.

"I took a gentleman out here last fall," he said, "a mighty nice
man of the name of Richardson, or Richards; you'd likely know him
for he came from either New York or Cleveland.  We caught a beauty
right here above this fall, just as good as the big one you got
just now.  Well, sir, this Mr. Richardson he was so pleased when he
seen that fish that he gave me a fishing rod.  We was standing
right here, with this Mr. Richardson right on that rock where you
are, and I was here inside him like, and he got this big trout, all
of three pounds, just like that big one you got."

"Did he land it?" I asked, speaking through the noise of the water.

"I done it for him," answered Ed, "just the way I landed yours.
Well, sir, as I say, when Mr. Richardson seen that fish landed, he
said, 'Ed,' says he, 'that's the biggest fish I ever caught or seen
caught.  I'm so pleased,' he says, 'I'm going to give you a rod.'"

Ed paused and shook off the bite of a fish that had bothered him.
He could NOT-CATCH fish better than any one I ever saw.

"He had in his hand," continued Ed, "one of them rods made of split
wood, like the one you're fishing with.  'Here, Ed,' he says, when
he come off the rock, 'take this here rod.'  I've got it still back

After this, of course, there was nothing to do except give Ed my
rod.  I had to live up to the standard of Mr. Richardson.


I lost my best knife very shortly afterwards in the same way.

"That's a dandy knife you've got there," said Ed, "you can't get
them there up here.  This Mr. Richardson I was talking about at the
fall had a knife just the mate to that.  We was sitting here one
evening and he was peeling potatoes with this knife just the way
you are.  We'd had a dandy catch at the fall, just like what we got
to-day, only to-day they run a little bigger, and Mr. Richardson
was feeling pretty good after it.  'Here, Ed,' he says, says he,
'take this knife for a reminder.'  I took it and kept it and I had
it till I lost it just as we were starting on this trip.  Yes, sir,
he says, 'Ed,' says he, 'take this knife.'"


It appeared that Mr. Richardson also got rid of his landing net on
the trip.  "Take it, Ed,"--these were the words he is reported to
have used, "I shan't be wanting it back in the city.  You keep it."

So my landing net followed Mr. Richardson's.


As we moved towards home, I realized that bit by bit Richardson had
parted with his equipment.  "Take it, Ed," were the words he
generally used.  Could I say less?  My best rod, my net, two reels,
my book of flies, were all gone when we were still a hundred miles
from home on our way back.  I estimated that at this point the year
before Richardson had had no fishing tackle left.  Then I realized
with concern that from this point on Richardson had begun to lose
his clothes.

"This Mr. Richardson," said Ed, "had one of them fishing coats same
as yours.  They're certainly a mighty handy coat.  And on the way
out of the woods--in fact, it was somewhere here--we'd been having
mighty good sport, nearly as good as the sport you and I have had,
and Mr. Richardson give me his coat.  It seems he never wore it in
the city.  'Take it, Ed,' says he, 'I won't be wearing it.'"


Next day, at a waterfall a few miles lower down, Ed indicated for
me the very spot where Richardson had parted with his fishing cap.


Twenty miles below that is the spot, which I will show to any one
for ten dollars a day, where Richardson gave away all his socks,
his two red handkerchiefs, and his three extra shirts.


The crisis came that evening.  As we sat by the fire Ed promised to
show me next morning the very spot where Richardson gave him his
boots.  It seems that the exact spot can be located to a nicety.  I
lay awake thinking that night with the moonlight falling through
the pine trees and the river singing in the silence, thinking of
Richardson's boots.

Dimly I began to remember that I had heard something about a man
from my own town whose name actually was Richards, or Richardson,
or something like it, and who died of pneumonia just on his return
from a fishing trip.


That night I took action.  In the silence of midnight, I rose from
my gray blanket and stole off among the pine trees.  I took nothing
in the way of fishing equipment, BUT I HAD MY BOOTS ON.  I followed
the down way course of the river and two hours after daylight I
struck a railway track and a train that took me home.  I HAVE MY

But I often think of poor Richardson when the time came when he saw
Ed looking at his fishing pants as he sharpened up a two-edged
hunting knife.

People We Know



I had hardly had time to sit down in the smoking end of the Pullman
car and to get my pipe alight before he spoke to me.

"Cold, isn't it?" he said.

So I knew at once who he was: he was the Man in the Pullman Car--
the Man who is ALWAYS in the Pullman car, waiting to talk to me.
I could see his railroad folders and his almanacs and his little
"books of hundred facts" in a satchel that was open beside him.
These are what he uses to gather the information that he expends on

If it had been at another time of year, instead of saying, "Cold,
isn't it?" the Pullman Man would have said, "Warm, ain't it?"
These are his only two greetings.

He gave a look out of the window.

"She's losing time along here," he said.  This remark is just a
part of his special and technical information about the train.  The
Man in the Pullman Car calls all trains by their numbers, calls all
engineers "he," knows when there is a flat wheel under the express
car, knows by instinct when we come to a water tank, can
distinguish a village in the pitch dark, and calls the conductor
"Charley."  Travel, with him, takes on the air of a continued
personal distinction.

The Pullman Man opened up a newspaper and lit a cigar.

"How do you think things will begin to shape for the election?"

This means, of course, the presidential election.  After all, there
is one every four years.  For one whole year a man can say, "How do
you like the election?" then for another year, "There don't seem to
be much talk of the next election yet."  And after that it's only
two years and the thing rushes to a vortex.

The Pullman Man doesn't really want to know what _I_ think about
the election.  He wants to tell me what HE thinks about it, or
rather, the whole truth about it, all of it personally guaranteed.
He KNOWS--doesn't guess, he KNOWS--the exact result: selection of
the candidates, the making of the platform, and the precise means,
known to him alone, by which the whole of New York State will be
swept clean.

I could reveal all this if I like.  But it would be unfair and
might make nation-wide trouble.

Suffice it to say that the whole thing is not only certain, but it
is GUARANTEED.  The Man in the Pullman Car has offered to pay me,
"cash down," a hundred dollars if his forecast is not correct.
Where it will be put down, I don't know.

When the election had been reduced to a certainty, the Man in the
Car asked me how the big fight suited me, and whether the races
down at Jacksonville had suited me, and passed rapidly through a
succession of fights, scraps, championships, world series, world's
record swims, high dives, flights, and oyster-eating contests.  How
he remembers all this, I can't conceive.  They ought to give
courses in this kind of thing at the colleges.

But his range goes further than that.

He pointed to an item in his paper.  "I see," he said, "where this
guy Mussolini is getting busy again."  Then he gave me a brief
résumé of European world news.  Mussolini, it appears, is a slick
guy, but my acquaintance would not be surprised if presently
Mussolini got it in the neck.

The King of Spain, nifty though he appears, may get it in the bean
at any time; in fact, most of the remaining kings and potentates of
Europe may get similar strokes on the bean, neck, or cocoanut any
day--except King George, who is all right.  What Europe really
needs is the introduction of the municipal home rule that they have
in my acquaintance's own home town--I forget its name--in the
Middle West.

The future of Europe, however, is not a topic of sufficient
importance to hold a man's interest very long.  The whole place is
so obviously doomed that unless it can retrace its steps, introduce
the short ballot, with the Oregon system of the recall, the
Illinois tax system, and Massachusetts primary law, it will slide
over the abyss.

So he changed the topic.

"How did that last Atlantic flight suit you?" he asked.  It is
always his flattering assumption that the world's events must be
trimmed to suit my fancy.

Then he told me about the Atlantic, the real Atlantic, as gathered
up into the little "books of handy facts" and absorbed by the
Pullman Car Man.

Who could guess, for example, that the Atlantic is 3,160 miles
across; that it is 210 feet deep in the shallowest place and 5,300
in the deepest; that if the entire population of the United States
stood side by side and held hands, they would just nicely reach
across it; that if the whole population of Trenton, New Jersey, or
Akron, Ohio, stood on one another's heads, they would just reach to
the bottom of it?

You don't get these things in a college education.  Somehow they
get left out of it.  But now that the Atlantic has been flown
across, it has been "put on the map," and the Man in the Car has to
have his vital facts about it.

We spent thus a pleasant half hour in discourse together.  And then
something occurred to spoil it.

Another Man came in.

Now conversation with the Man in the Pullman Car is all right and
most agreeable, provided that he has the field to himself.  The
danger is that there may come in a man with the same equipment as
himself, the same range of knowledge, who talks back at him.  Then
there is trouble--as happened on the day of which I speak.

The second man had hardly had time to unpack his grip and get out
his almanacs and his railroad folders when his quick ear caught

"Mussolini," he said, "him slick?"  And then he proceeded to tell
the exact length of time that Mussolini would last among really
slick men.  I think it was four minutes.

This inevitably suggested the presidential election of the present
year: and it came out right away that the whole forecast that the
first man had given me, and that he now repeated, was "bunk."  The
second man, it seems, had just come from the whole of the South and
most of the Middle West and the entire Atlantic Seaboard, and he
was prepared not only to deny the forecast, but to back up the
denial with cash down.  I gathered that I was to hold stakes for
the two of them, for about forty weeks, at the rate of $1,000 a

When I presently left them, they were still in angry dispute,
offering a thousand dollars if the presidential election went the
other way, guaranteeing that Mussolini would or would not be made
King of Austria, putting up money that Erie, Pennsylvania, had more
population than Burlington, Iowa, and that the distance across the
Atlantic was more, or was less, than 3,000 miles.

I heard afterwards that the train ran off the track after the next
station, and that the Pullman Car was rolled down the embankment.

But they probably never noticed it.



"Here's a pretty slick one," he said, looking up from his newspaper
with a glitter of interest through his spectacles, "about this
fellow who got away with the trust funds.  Did you see it?"

"No," I said, "I didn't see it."

We were seated side by side in chairs in the hotel rotunda.  I
didn't know the man; I just happened to be sitting beside him.

"The way it was," he continued, "this fellow seems to have got
himself up like a clergyman, see, and then he came in and presented
this check drawn on the Orphans' Trust Fund and a letter with it.
Of course, the letter was phoney and so was the check.  But it was
the get-up that fooled them.  It seems he got away with a thousand
dollars.  Pretty slick trick, eh?"

"It certainly was," I answered, "especially as it was orphans'

"Sure," he rejoined, burying himself again in his paper.

Presently he looked up again.

"Here's one about a fellow in Albany," he said, "who worked one
nearly as good, or perhaps better.  He was a mighty smart customer!
He came into this bank all dressed up in black and said his mother
was dead and asked them to telegraph the bank in a place he called
his home town, see, and get him money.  Of course, he made out he
was all broken up about his mother dying and they sent the message
and in about half an hour they got what they thought was an answer
saying to give him the money.  You see, it wasn't an answer at all!
Just a message he got sent to them by a fake messenger boy.

"They give him the money all right, two hundred dollars, and he
gets clear away before they get the real answer that the bank don't
know him.  That was a good one, wasn't it?"

"Excellent," I said.  "The man that did that must be a splendid

"I'll say so!" said my new acquaintance.


He sat quiet for a while absorbed in his paper, with little murmurs
from time to time such as, "I see the guy in France who choked the
two women got clean off."  "I see the boys who broke out at Atlanta
aren't caught yet."  "Well, sir, here's a darned funny one about
asphyxiating an old cashier with gas--ain't that a peach?"


Presently he spoke again.

"What won't these fellers think out next!  Hear this.  It's from
Cedar Springs, Vermont.

"'Yesterday two men dressed as if for hunting and carrying double-
barreled shot-guns and fishing-rods entered the Cedar Springs
Central Bank during the noon hour.  Their peculiar costume enabled
them to approach the president and the cashier without suspicion
and to cover them by laying down the guns across the counter.
After securing some $10,000 in currency, they tied up the president
and the cashier, shoved the money into a fishing-basket, locked the
bank door on the outside, and sauntered off into the woods.'
That's a good one, isn't it?"


"It certainly is," I said, and I added, "You seem a good deal
interested in that sort of thing."

"Well, I do," he answered with a chuckle.  "Perhaps I have more
humor than most men.  But at any rate I can't help admiring the
slickness with which these fellers seem to get away with it.  It's
a caution the kind of dodges they think out.  I like to read about
them.  I can almost forgive these fellows when the thing is
ingenious enough.  There's an element in it you've got to admire."

"In that case," I said, "listen to this.  I don't think it's in
your paper.  Mine's a second edition.  This only happened early
this morning; in fact, I heard some one talking about it as I came
down in the car."

I read from the paper.

"'Last night, under pretense of having come in response to a
burglar protection automatic alarm,'--that's terribly clever, isn't
it?--'thieves gained access to a chemical warehouse--'"

"A CHEMICAL warehouse!" the man interrupted.  "Well, well, I'm in
that business myself."

"'In Madison Street.'"

"Gosh! that's my street!"

"'The watchmen of the building were under the impression that they
were searching for burglars.  The thieves successfully opened a
large safe on the fifth floor in which valuable drugs--'"

My acquaintance seized the paper in excitement.

"What's that, show it to me!" he cried.  "Great Scott, that's my
warehouse!  My heavens! they've got away with the stuff in my safe.
The dirty hounds!  Great Cæsar, what are the police doing!  They
ought to be hanged for a thing like that!  That's criminal!  Great
Scott, that's ROBBERY, plain robbery! . . ."

He had risen, fairly hopping with anger and excitement, and left me
to dash across the rotunda.  When I last saw him he was careering
round the hotel, shouting for a telephone to call up the central
police station.

It occurred to me, as I laid down the paper, that the "slickness"
of crime depends a good deal on the slant from which you see it.



"Yes," said my hostess as she poured me out a cup of tea, "we're
back from Europe."

"You were there some time, were you not?" I asked.

"We were on the Continent all summer," she said; "we had a
perfectly glorious time!"

"How did you like Paris?" I asked.

"Fine.  There were some people from Kentucky in the same hotel with
us--the Johnsons from Louisville, perhaps you know them--and we
went round with them all the time; and of course we got to know a
lot of other Americans through the steamship company and through
the hotels and like that."

"The French," I said, "are so easy and agreeable to meet, are they

"Oh, yes, indeed, we met people from all over--from Maine, and from
Chicago and from the Middle West, and quite a lot of Southern
people, too.  In fact, we were quite a cosmopolitan crowd."

"Very much so," I said, "and did you see much of the monuments and
the historical things around Paris?"

"Just about everything, I imagine," my hostess replied with
animation.  "There was an American gentleman from Decatur, Indiana--
I think he's professor of French in the Baptist College there--and
he took us all round and told us all about everything.  He showed
us Washington's Monument in the big square and Benjamin Franklin
and that tablet there is--perhaps you've seen it--to President
McKinley--oh, yes, indeed, we saw everything."

"Of course you saw the pictures--"

"Oh, certainly.  There's just a lovely picture done this year by a
young girl from the art school in Omaha and they've got it hung up
right there in the annual exhibition.  We thought it the best thing

"I'm sure you did," I said, "and I suppose you liked the
restaurants and the French cooking?"

"We did indeed, and, say, we found the cutest little place--it's in
the Roo something or other, near that big church where the American
Legion went--and they have everything done in real American style.
My husband said you couldn't get a better steak in Chicago than
what they had there, and they had pancakes and waffles with maple
syrup.  Really, as we all agreed, we might just as well have been
at home."

"But you didn't stay in Paris in the hot weather, did you?"

"Oh, no, we took a trip to Switzerland.  We drove in our own car
all down the valley of that big river."

"It's beautiful country, isn't it?" I said, "and the people are so

"Yes, we were with some perfectly lovely people from Memphis,
Tennessee--the Edwardses--perhaps you met them--and they had their
car, too, and they had some friends (from Buffalo) staying at a
place that's just about halfway.  And of course these friends
introduced us to a lot of Americans that were staying there."

And did you like Switzerland?"

"Yes, ever so much--won't you have some more tea?  We found it so
hard to get tea the way we like it, over in Europe.  Oh, yes, we
just loved Switzerland.  We saw a ball game in Lucerne--or no, I'm
wrong, it wasn't in Switzerland that we saw the ball game.  That
was in Germany."

"Oh, you went to Germany?"

"Indeed we did.  I think we must have been all over it."

"And did you get on all right with the Germans?"

"Oh, yes, indeed.  We met some people in Berlin--the Phillipses--
that actually came from the same town in Connecticut where my
grandmother was raised.  It just shows how small the world is."

"It does, indeed," I agreed.

"Oh, but Germany--they're so up to date!  It was there that they
had the ball games, twice a week, and of course we took them all
in.  It was just like being back home.  And then they had the radio
and we listened in on a speech all the way from Philadelphia--just
think of it; and they have our moving pictures and quite a lot of
American newspapers.  In fact, as Pa said, we might just as well
have been sitting in New York."

"Just as well.  And where else did you go?"

"Oh, we were down in Italy for a while--at Rome and at Venice--"

"Venice is wonderful, isn't it?"

"Yes, isn't it?  We were with some people there from Talahassee,
Florida, and they said--these people said--that really when you
look at all the lagoons and marshes around where Venice is, it
might as well be Tallahassee."

"You didn't go to Spain, I suppose."

"No, we didn't.  In fact, we were pretty well warned not to.  They
say that in Spain it's all Spanish and it's very hard to get
around; and so you don't find anybody there.  In fact, they told us
that there was nobody at all in Spain last year."

"Well," I said, as I rose to take my leave, "I'm sure you've had a
most interesting trip.  I hope you're going to make some use of

"I certainly am," replied the lady brightly, "I'm doing a paper for
our Ladies' Fortnightly Culture Club on the National Characteristics
of the European Nations.  I've got to have it ready on Friday so I
guess I'll have to hustle some."

"You certainly will," I murmured to myself as I went away.



"I had a pretty narrow shave the other day," he said, as the little
group settled themselves into the smoking end of the Pullman.

"Talking of shaves," interrupted one of the others, "I wonder if
any of you fellows have seen this new safety razor that you can
sharpen without taking it to pieces?  It's certainly a peach.  But
I beg your pardon," he added, "I'm interrupting you. . . ."

"It's all right," said the man.  "I was just saying that I had a
pretty narrow shave for my life the other day--in fact a matter of
touch and go.  I'd got off the train away up north at a flag
station right out in the bush country where there's such a lot of
prospecting and so much talk of deposits of copper and nickel--"

"I see where International Nickel touched a hundred yesterday,"
said another man, comfortably lighting his pipe.

"You don't say so!" chorused three or four of them,--and then there
was a running series of remarks.  "I think myself she's good for
200 anyway."--"There's no limit to what they may get out of that."--
"I know a man, an engineer, who was all over that property long
before they began to develop it and he said twenty years ago that
there were millions there. . . ."

It took some time for this little chorus to die down.  Then the
Adventure Man began again.

"Well, I got off at this place,--it was just getting dusk and I put
on my snowshoes for what would be a five-mile tramp anyway, into
the camp.  I was to walk straight west along the trail and I knew
that a man was to come out from the camp to pick me up part way, do
you see, for I didn't know just where the new camp was located.
The trail struck off into the timber and for the first mile or so
it went through big pine trees, thousands of them, all straight as
a die, and just as silent and lonesome . . ."

"I've seen the time," interrupted an old man in the corner who
hadn't spoken yet, "when you could buy all that pine you wanted at
seven dollars, yes, sir, at seven dollars,--right there at the saw
mill, or they'd dress it for you at a dollar, and hemlock, the very
best of it at three dollars. . . ."

"Not at three dollars!" said one of the listeners incredulously.
"You mean three dollars a thousand feet?"

"Yes, sir, that's what I do, three dollars a thousand, board

All men, at least all men who smoke in the end of a Pullman car
know about the prices of lumber just as all women know about the
prices of dress material.  So there broke out another little chorus
of interruption.

"Well, I paid forty-five dollars for hemlock when I built my
garage."  "I can get all the hemlock I want at thirty."  "I've seen
the time--" and so forth.

Till at last the old man in the corner brought the talk back onto
the track by saying to the Adventure Man--"What was you saying
about that cheap pine you seen up north?"

"I didn't say it was CHEAP pine," he answered, "I don't know
anything about that.  I was only talking of a narrow escape I had a
while back when I was prospecting up there and started to walk
through the bush,--this big pine bush,--just about dark.  I hadn't
got more than half a mile or so into it," continued the speaker,
warming at last to his narration as he felt his audience at last
becoming silent, "before I began to feel something about the
stillness that began to get me.  It was all so quiet, no wind, the
trees absolutely still, and the white snow with the night shadows
falling on it,--there was something spooky about it, something

"Did you see where those fellows out on Lake Erie got lost on the
ice?" cheerily interrupted a man who hadn't spoken yet.  "Certainly
a corker, wasn't it."

"I mind the time," said the old man in the corner, "when I've seen
the whole of Lake Erie frozen across, right from Port Stanley over
to Cleveland."

"For the matter of that," said another, "you take those big lakes
up north, even the great big ones, they all freeze solid,--Temagami
and Mistassini--all of them."

"They say they'll have a hard time for ice this year, though," said
another man, shaking his head, "there were a lot of places where
the cut was no good--couldn't get more than eight inches or a

"Well, I don't know," said the man who spoke just before.  "Why use
lake ice at all?  You can get factory ice now nearly everywhere; in
our business we're putting in a frozen air plant that will cut out
ice altogether."

At this point, just providentially and without design, there fell a
little pause and the Adventure Man got started again.

"Well, anyway," he resumed, "I kept going through the bush as hard
as I could peg, on my snowshoes, for I knew if I didn't meet the
other man before dark I couldn't do it at all.  You see after a
while the trail wasn't broken at all and it wasn't blazed,--it was
just straight going in a compass line. . . ."

Some of the listeners nodded and grunted.  The word "compass"
caught their fancy for a moment.

"Well, I began to reckon by the distance I had gone that I must
pretty soon meet this other man and just then I came to a spot
where the trees thinned out a little so that there was a sort of
open spot with the last of the daylight showing on it.  And there I
saw right bang in front of me, say fifty yards away, not one timber
wolf but about a dozen of them.  They were all packed together, and
all working away at something that was lying in the snow.  I stood
stockstill in my tracks.  I didn't dare move.  And then just for a
minute I got a glimpse of what was lying in the snow, and I can
tell you my blood just ran cold when I saw what it was that was
attracting those wolves."

The speaker stopped with a dramatic pause, challenging attention.
Then he lit his pipe, quietly and firmly, to lend emphasis to what
he was going to say.  But he was too late.

"I see the Ontario government are going to raise the bounty on
wolves," said one of the others quietly.

"I don't think they need to," said another.  "As a matter of fact
the wolf's pelt is quite worth while in itself.  Of course there
are some of the timber wolves that are apt to be in poor condition
(I'm in the fur business) and you can't use the pelt.  But with
others there's good value in it."

"They're not in it with fox," said a third man, and there was
another chorus,--"I've seen the time when black foxes were as
thick--"  "I tell you it's all right if you can get them in the
bush, but this fox farm industry is all off."--"All off!  Why,
there was a fellow down home that got, for a single pair, a single
pair mind you, two thousand dollars!"

It took some time for the speakers to remember the Adventure Man.
But at last he managed to start again.  "I knew it was my turn
next," he said.  "I had no gun on me, but I had a sheath knife.  I
reached down quietly and I cut the thongs of the snow-shoes.  There
was a big pine just beside me and by good luck a branch not more
than seven or eight feet off the ground.  I got all ready for a
spring but just at that very moment . . ."


But just at that very moment the car conductor put his head in
through the doorway--

"Ottawa!  Ottawa!" he called.  "All change, gentlemen."

"Great Cæsar!" exclaimed all the crowd at once.  "Ottawa, all

And with that they broke, scattered and dissolved.

But no doubt the Man with the Adventure Story is still telling it
somewhere, somehow, to somebody.


A Year at College


The discovery has recently been made that a college is a comic
place.  People who were never inside the gates of a university, and
who think that a simultaneous equation is a medicine, now spend
their time reading the new college comic magazines and building up
from them their ideas of what college life is like.  After they
have read enough about it and seen enough pictures of it, they get
crazy to go to the comic college.

Here is what it seems like to such readers:

A college itself is represented by the edge of a beautiful building
with little clouds floating past it, and two college girls walking
in front of it.  One of the girls is called Tootsie and the other
is called Maisie, and Tootsie is saying to Maisie:

"What is the name of your new fiancé?" and Maisie answering:

"I don't know.  I forgot to ask."

If Tootsie and Maisie are not seen walking in front of the college,
they are presented sitting up in one of the dormitory rooms.  One
of them at least always sits on the window-sill and she has a comb
in one hand and a looking-glass in the other.

It is really the old picture of the sirens who sat on the rocks to
coax Ulysses, but as the man who drew it never went to college, he
doesn't know that.  And it doesn't matter anyway.  The sirens have
got nothing on Tootsie and Maisie.  They belong with the Nautch
girls of Nautchia and the Hitchi-Kitchi girls of the Marquesas
Islands.  In fact they are all right--except for their passion for
repeating little jokes.

"Why did you let Gussie kiss you last night?" asks Maisie.

"Because I didn't know it was Gussie," says Tootsie.

After which they go on combing their bobs and eating "fudge."
These are the standing occupations of a comic college girl.

If Tootsie and Maisie are not called by those names, they are
designated Fitzie and Nessie or Totsie and Flotsie--or, in short,
anything that suggests the Marquesas Islands.

Meanwhile, while Tootsie and Maisie are getting ready for their
college day, we step across into one of the men's dormitories just
the other side of the little clouds, and here, seated also on
window-sills are two "College Men"--Gussie and Eddie.

The comic college man has a face cut square, like a strawberry box,
a shoulder like a right angle, and a coat shaped like the forty-
fifth proposition in Euclid.  His face is drawn in a few lines,
with the brains left out, and if he ever knew algebra, he gives no
sign of it.  In short, he is a nut.

When we see them, Nut No. 1, Gussie, is seated on the window-sill
playing a ukulele, and Nut No. 2 has his ukulele ready to play as
soon as Gussie runs out of ideas and jokes.  The college man sleeps
with his ukulele.

Gussie and Eddie have apparently the same passion for little
dialogue jokes as Tootsie and Maisie.  These jokes, a generation
ago, were put into the mouths of negroes and were called "coon
jokes"; or else they were divided up between "Mike" and "Pat" and
called "Irish humor"; but now they are known as "college wit," and
every man at college cracks one every ten minutes.

Consequently, when Gussie the Nut has finished his tune on the
ukulele, he lays down the instrument and:

Gussie--"Have a cigarette, old man?"

Eddie--"What's wrong with it?"

Then they take their flasks out of their hip pockets, have a drink,
and hit up another tune on the ukulele.  This is the way in which
the comic college man prepares for his college day.

When the second tune is done and another joke cracked, Gussie and
Eddie set out from their room to cross the campus and their walk is
always timed so that as they come into one side of the picture,
Tootsie and Maisie come into the other.

The campus is represented by two trees and one bird, and a piece of
a college window and the edge of a professor's gown, but away in
the background are a group of little figures--nuts and sirens drawn
very small--which are intended to indicate that something is going
on.  Most likely there is a college rush, because college life is
so arranged that there are "rushes" and "pushes" and "hustles"
going on from September to June.

Any one who studies the college in the comic papers knows that the
session begins with the big "Freshman rush" that lasts two weeks
and is followed by the "Sophomore push" that goes right on till the
football "hustle" begins; after that there is the Christmas Rush
and the New Year's Hootch, and the "scram" and the "prom" and the
"punch," ending with the grand final "rush" at commencement time.
All these keep poor nuts Gussie and Eddie pretty busy with their
little ukuleles and their flasks, and Tootsie and Maisie hardly
have time to keep their hair done.

When they meet in the morning on the campus, all their eight eyes
(they have eight among them) are turned at the same sort of angle,
four to meet four.  This stands for "college love," and it means
that Gussie and Eddie have a "crush" on Tootsie and Maisie, and
Tootsie and Maisie have a "smash" on Gussie and Eddie.  College
love is always pictured as a series of concussions.

When they go past one another, either set of two (whichever has the
turn) gets off a dialogue joke:

Maisie--"Don't you think that Gussie looks awfully like Eddie?"

Tootsie--"He does.  But Eddie doesn't look a bit like Gussie."

This joke was once considered one of the best in Alabama, but now
it has been changed to a piece of college wit.

When they have finished their walk across the campus, Gussie and
Eddie and Tootsie and Maisie next appear all seated in a terribly
comical place called a classroom, taking part in a comical
performance called a "recitation."  This is carried on under the
guidance of a "professor" or "prof," and everybody who reads the
college press knows exactly what he looks like.  He has a bald head
and a face like a hard-boiled egg with the shell off, held upside
down, and much the same expression as the map of Africa.

A recitation apparently consists of another set of "coon jokes"
just like the ones used up in the dormitories.  Thus:

Gussie (coming in late for the class)--"What is the Prof. talking

Eddie--"I don't know.  He hasn't said."

All through the recitation and the dialogue, Tootsie and Maisie are
shooting across the classroom at Gussie and Eddie appreciative
smiles and glances that would knock a Marquesas Islander out of a
bamboo tree at a hundred yards.

College love moves fast.

In fact, you can see it grow from day to day and from picture to
picture.  Here are Gussie and Eddie and Maisie and Tootsie at a
college dance and Gussie is doing the fox-trot--or the dog-walk--
with Tootsie and is saying:

Gussie--"What would you say if I asked leave to kiss you?"

Tootsie--"I'll tell you afterwards."

Or here they are similarly at an evening reception, or a college
"crush," or a "push," or at a "prom," and whatever they are doing
the four are always shooting glances at one another and cracking
off dialogue, and when night separates them Gussie and Eddie sit up
on their window-sill and play the ukulele and drink out of their
flasks, and Maisie and Tootsie eat fudge and comb their bobs.

Oh, there's no doubt it is a great life, the college life.  Ever so
many people have said that the college "life" is better than the
mere study, and I must say I think so too.  Give me Tootsie and
Maisie and Fitzie and Nessie all around me, and I'll guarantee
never to study again.

But meantime the pictures take on a cast that means that the year
is drawing to a close.  The dialogue jokes now have reference to
the "exams," and to Gussie and Eddie, the poor nuts, getting
"ploughed," or "flunked" or "plunked," or "dropped out," or "let
down," or "tripped up"--or any of the other things that happen to
nuts in comic colleges.  Such as this:

Tootsie--"I heard Eddie will have to leave the college."

Maisie--"No, the college will have to leave Eddie."

Or else:

Maisie--"What degrees is Gussie going to take?"

Tootsie--"About ninety degrees Fahrenheit.  He's got to work in a
coal mine."

All this stands for final scholarship.  With it are another set of
little jokes that indicate the culmination and crown of college

Maisie--"Are you and Gussie engaged?"

Tootsie--"No, but he is."

And then, just as we expected, there duly appears the presentation
of the final comic event of Graduation Day, with Maisie and Tootsie
in graduation gowns straight from the Marquesas Islands and the two
nuts with high collars on (the kind they use in Spain to kill
criminals) and flat mortarboards, and they are all going to get
their degrees after all, and they are all going to get married, and
play the ukulele and live happily ever afterwards.

It's a great life, this college stuff.

So let us bless the new comic magazine, after all.  It has
performed once again the magic literary trick of making the picture
better than the reality.  I am all for it.

The Unintelligence Test


A great American banker, speaking the other day in Saskatoon,
Saskatchewan (it was not his fault), talked of the requirements of
modern banks and the type of man needed.  "We don't want," he said,
"young men who come to us thinking that they know it all; young men
who have studied banking in a correspondence course and suppose
that they understand it.  We want men who will begin with us from
the beginning.  The less they know, the better."

In the same way, one of our biggest railway men (290 pounds) is
reported as saying recently:  "We don't want young men who know
anything about a railroad when they come to us.  I'd rather take in
a boy who didn't know one end of a box car from another, than a boy
who had 'studied railroading.'"

On the same topic, a leading steamship man spoke with something
like heat, or at least, steam:  "We can't get the young men we
want.  They are not ignorant enough."

And the president of a steel company:  "They know too much.  When I
entered the steel business, I knew nothing.  I couldn't even add up
a column of figures; I still can't.  How is it that we can get no
young men like that to-day?"

In fact, in one shape or other, the same cry goes up all over the


So it occurred to me that it might be a good thing to try to meet
this demand at the source and stop it.  I have, therefore, opened a
bureau--or rather I am just going to open a bureau--where young men
properly disqualified may find unsuitable occupation.

My plan is something like this.  First of all, I intend to sift out
the candidates by a series of questionnaires.  These are based on
the different sets of questions that I see in all periodicals
proposed as tests of how much people ought to know.  The only
difference is that my questions are a little more advanced, more
technical.  They will run something as follows:

How Many of the Following Questions Can You Answer?  Write Plainly.
Use Ink.  Enclose Ten Cents.

(1) Who is President of the United States?

(2) How many legs has a dog?

(3) What large country is situated between Canada and Mexico?

(4) What is the French for the following: adieu, omelette, pâté de
foie gras?

(5) What relation is the Prince of Wales to his father, George V?

(6) How much is 1 and 1?


All the applicants will be put through a thorough drill on
questions of this sort.  If they show any signs of answering them,
they are out of it at once and I go no further.

But if the candidates have been thus drilled and brought to a high
pitch of equipment, there is just one other detail to which I shall
attend before sending them out into the world.  They must not ask
for money.  I notice that all the great authorities I have just
quoted--the railway presidents, and the bankers, and so on--lay
stress on this.  Young men, they say, must not be anxious about
their initial salary.  They must start low.

My young men are going to start so low that they will be right down
on their uppers.


Then when I get them into shape, I will send them out with letters
of recommendation composed in the following fashion:


Sample Letter of Presentation for Young Man Entering Bank

To the President,
The First, or Last, National Bank.
Dear Sir:

Allow me to present to you as an applicant for suitable employment
my young friend, Mr. Edward Edwin Beanhead.  He is anxious to fill
a post in your bank.  Mr. Beanhead assures me that he has never
been inside a bank in his life, but thinks that he would know a
bank if he saw it, and in any case would soon get to recognize one
at sight.  Mr. Beanhead knows absolutely nothing of money, has no
knowledge of bookkeeping, and can not count.  As to salary, just
give him what he is worth, no more.  I enclose a list of questions
whose answers he doesn't know.  P.S.  Don't let him into the safe,
he couldn't get out.


Letter of Commendation for Young Man Entering a Railway

To the President of the American Pacific Railway (or, give it to
the Ohio Central, or the Trans-Siberian if you can't use it).

This is to commend to your consideration a young man filling all
requirements for railroad services as laid down by yourself and
others.  He is anxious to enter the service of a railway--either
steam or horse, he doesn't care.  I asked him if he knew one end of
a box car from the other, and he answered, "Which end?"  So I think
he comes up to standard.  But be careful not to run over him.  P.S.
I can send his pedigree if you want it.


The recommendations of the bureau that I wish to establish will not
be confined entirely to brain-workers.  It will include also those
without brains, who apply for positions not involving work.  For
example, I am prepared right at the start to offer an applicant for
the post of night-watchman, as in the form letter below:


Warehouse & Storage Agents.

Dear Sirs:

I recommend to you the bearer of this letter for the position of
night-watchman.  His special qualification is that he has no watch
and falls asleep so early that he never sees night.  But he has a
quick native intelligence, and all you have to do is to teach him
to read and write and give him something to keep him awake.  Then
show him the planet Jupiter and tell him to keep his eye on it, and
he'll watch for you as long as you like.  You need pay him nothing
for the first ten years.  He doesn't need to eat.


Of course, I've only just explained the system in mere outline.
But I really think that once I get it going it will revolutionize
our industry--a thing that has to be done about once every six
months to keep it going.

Easy Ways to Success


My Dear Clarence:

I gather from your letter that you have just come out of college
and are about to launch yourself upon the world.  You rightly feel
that there is something coming to you after your brilliant success
at the university.  The high rank which you took in English
Composition, in Salesmanship, and in Comparative Religion ought, as
you say to yourself, to open for you an easy road to success.

You draw my attention to the "mediocre caliber"--the words are
yours--of the men who succeed in this unjust world.  What, you ask,
do they really amount to?  Exactly.  They don't.  Their so-called
success, as you put it, is merely due to the accident and injustice
of the capitalistic bourgeoisistic system under which the mass of
the proletariat are exploited by the privileged classes who fatten
on the poor.

And you want some of it yourself.

Precisely so, and as I am most anxious to help you, perhaps you
will allow me to give you a few directions for exploiting the
proletariat.  It is terribly simple.  I give you one of the very
easiest, the most elementary, first.


Select a piece of ground anywhere close to a large city, and lying
in the direction in which the city is about to grow.  Avoid land
where the city is not going to grow.  In buying the land, be
careful to pay for it only a very small sum.  Sometimes real estate
of this sort is bought for a song; so you may, if you like, see
what you can do by singing.

After buying your land, hold it for at least three days.  It is
this careful holding of the land which makes the money.  After
holding it three days, mark it out into squares and sell it for
building apartments on.  Sell it for an enormous price.

Then buy another piece of land, hold it for three days, and sell

It's wonderfully simple, isn't it?  Clarence?--only there is just
one thing that perhaps I ought to mention.  Be just a little
careful about the land you buy.  With your wonderful education, you
are sure to know all about it, but you might just happen to make a
mistake.  And that would be too bad.

In fact, Clarence, on second thought, I DON'T believe I'll put you
into real estate.  It's too tricky.  I think you had better go into
the stock market.  There, of course, you are bound to succeed.  As
you yourself say in your letter, most of the so-called magnates in
the so-called money market who are heralded as so-called kings of
finance are really men of no real insight whatever.  They merely
fatten on the poor.

So if you want to fatten on the poor yourself a little bit, the
directions are very simple.  Try this method.


Take any daily newspaper and turn to the stock exchange page.  You
will, after a little practice, easily recognize it by the fact that
it is full of queer little figures.  With your trained brain, you
will soon learn to distinguish it from the cattle market page.

Having got the right page, look down the list of stocks and select
one which is about to rise.  When stocks rise slowly and gradually,
others very sharply and suddenly.  For your purpose, select a stock
which is about to rise sharply.  Estimate for yourself how much
money you would like to make and divide this sum by the amount of
increase which the stock is about to undergo.  This calculation
will give you the number of shares which you need to buy in order
to obtain the amount of money which you need.

But stop, Clarence, I believe I am wrong again.  I forgot that you
haven't got that $10,000 to start with; and you know how tight and
selfish the so-called banks are with their so-called money.

Let's try something else.


Look carefully all around for two big enterprises that need merging
and don't know it.  One good way is to get hold of two large
railroads and join them into one small one.  Another scheme is to
go round and gather the whole of an industry into the hollow of
your hand and then close it.  And another is to lay pipe-lines to
carry anything--any sort of product--to where it has never been
carried and then open up the top end of the pipe-line.

All these things are so ridiculously and so selfishly simple that I
share your feeling of indignation against the men who have made
colossal fortunes (out of the poor) by doing them.

But I am afraid, Clarence, that we must try something else.  All
these things I have just named take such a lot of time; you'd be
over thirty before you really got the world at your feet.  We must
find some quicker way of getting at the poor than that.


Have you ever been attracted, as I have, Clarence, at the idea of
getting back to the land, leading a real life close to nature, and
at the same time not far from a savings bank?

Perhaps you have thought of chickens.  In New York alone, one
million of eggs are eaten for breakfast, and eggs cost five cents;
one chicken lays 200 eggs a year; shake it up well and it will do
even better; and it only eats--I forget how little--but say next to
nothing.  The profit on the thing is obvious, isn't it, and

But I am afraid that you may object--I am sure that you WILL
object--that the farm life is too deadening to your soul, not
sufficiently intellectual.  If so, what do you say to art or
literature?  There is an attraction for any one who is naturally a
good penman in making a fortune out of writing.


If then you decide to make your success by writing, I should
recommend to you to write poetry.  A good market price for poetry
is twenty-five cents a word, and a rapid writer like yourself ought
to be able to write thirty words a minute; everything, of course,
depends upon speed, but I think you may rate yourself at thirty
words, or $7.50 a minute.

This, as you remark, is not much, and I admit that Mr. Ford and Mr.
Rockefeller and others most unfairly get more than this and yet
write very slowly.  Nevertheless, accept the figures as they are;
you will see that poetry works out at, say $45 an hour.

Assuming that poets, not being under union rules, work ten hours a
day; this will give you $450 per diem.  You object, no doubt, that,
after all, this means a very laborious life, involving not only
constant work but constant observation of nature, accurate records
of weather and scenery, and so forth.


This being so, you might be inclined, my dear Clarence, to consider
some other branch of Art, equally exalted, but less laborious than
writing poetry.  What do you say to portrait-painting?  After your
first-year course in geometrical drawing and your diploma in
advertising, I am sure you would find no trouble in painting a

A good portrait, with absolutely first-class colors, high-grade
canvas, and a liberal coating of shellac on it, sells for $3,000.
As against this, you must offset the cost of your canvas--at least
$1; your paint--say three canfuls at fifty cents a gallon; your
shellac, at fifty cents a pint; and your net return is cut down to


In short, my dear Clarence, when I look around you, I find it very
hard to give you any advice that can lift you out of your present
perplexities.  It seems that all the people who have succeeded in
front of you have had some sort of advantage.  Thomas Edison came
along just when people began to need electric light; Henry Ford hit
exactly the moment when motor cars were wanted.

Do you know, I think that perhaps, Clarence, the best thing for you
to do is to try the old-fashioned plan of getting a job on a farm
at $20 a month with your board, or starting as a schoolteacher at
$40 a month?  Has it ever occurred to you that that may be about
your size?  Your own city was advertising yesterday for twenty
"good men on sewers."  Perhaps you would be a peach in a sewer.  Go
and try it.  You'll feel more contented anyway.

Fun as an Aid to Business


It is very commonly supposed that to laugh in adversity, to joke
over poverty and, if need be, to chuckle in the penitentiary, is
the mark of a fortunate and superior mind.  But the question still
remains whether the man who possesses a sense of humor is better
off financially for having it.  Does it help or hinder?

We always talk of "getting down to cold business," "cutting out the
funny stuff," and of "quitting monkeying," as if all laughter and
fun and monkeys were contrary to the spirit of business.  Nor is it
regarded as a compliment to tell a man that his proposition is a
joke and that his offer makes us laugh.  Is not a young man in an
office warned not to "get too fresh" and not to "try to get gay"?
Indeed, is it not the man who has lost his job or whose business
has failed who is invited to console himself with his sense of

On the other hand, in the new realm of activity that is called
Salesmanship, there seems to be a persistent idea that if you get a
man sufficiently amused, you can sell him anything.  One laugh and
he is lost.

Now, I know nothing about Salesmanship.  I don't think I could even
sell a copy of the Harvard Classics to a retired banker in Iowa.
Nevertheless, I am given to understand that amusement is supposed
to work somewhat as follows:


The Salesman enters the Business Man's office and says to him:

"It is my intention to sell you one thousand hanks of No. 6 thread
manufactured by the company that I represent."

The Business Man snorts.

"Oh, I don't want you to buy any NOW," answers the Salesman.  "Wait
till I've told you that one about the traveling man and the college

Five minutes later the Business Man, suffocating with laughter,
signs an order for not one thousand, but for FIVE thousand, hanks
of thread.

On the strength of this ancient and worn-out fiction, many an
unhappy young man wanders round the country as a commercial
traveler trying to be funny, to pass himself off as a merry dog so
full of humor that he couldn't be dishonest if he tried.

I think the whole idea is wrong.  I find that the men who can sell
me encyclopedias are the men who suggest that there is some
strange, mysterious purpose in their personality.  Such a man looks
at me with penetrating power and says in a voice that Forbes
Robertson might envy, "I have here an encyclopedia,"--and when he
says it that way I am sunk.

It is just the same idea as with the Ancient Mariner, when he
stopped the stranger and held him back even on his way to a wedding

     "He holds him with his skinny hand,
      He holds him with his glittering eye."

Now, that ancient mariner if he went "on the road" would be worth
fifty dollars a day.

I remember once having had a personal experience of the same thing--
of the convincing power of earnestness rather than levity.  It was
late at night on a dark street.  I was met and accosted by a
gigantic man, very evidently from his build and from the accent of
his speech, a Highlander.  Like all Highlanders, he used the
personal pronouns in a way unknown to other nations.

He took me by the coat.

"She will be Dougall McDougall!" he said, "and she will want ten
cents to buy a drink."

"Yes," I answered, "and she will get it too."  And she did.

On the other hand, if that man had said, as most of my friends who
meet me say, "I heard a rather funny story the other day, I wonder
if you've heard it," are not the chances, shall we say, that I
would already have heard it?

But in one way a sense of humor can be of real use in modern
business life.  It can serve as a corrective of bunk about
"service" and "helpfulness"--all the "brother-brother" stuff that
is spreading like an infection to-day.

I don't know who started this.  I suppose in a sense we are all
brothers.  So are the monkeys.  But the plain truth is that when a
man is doing business, he is not trying to be a brother to anybody--
except to himself.

Here are one or two samples of what I mean.  I admit that I made
them up because I found it a little quicker than looking up actual
examples.  I admit too that they may be a little exaggerated--
though I doubt it--for to a considerable extent, the kind of thing
that appears in all the advertising pages of the magazines is of
this sort.


Letter from a Firm of Calciminers and House Painters Soliciting
Business--or no, I beg their pardon--Offering Help.


"Is your Home a little dark and gloomy?  Do you sometimes look at
the blank walls in front of you?  If so, let us help you.  All we
ask is to serve.  We know your troubles so well, and feel that we
can be of use.  Have you ever thought of the effect of a sunset
pink in your living-room?  And your kitchen?  Would you like us to
tell you how a coating of thin sky blue--our own cobalt blue--
brought happiness to one Home?  We wonder if you would care to see
our little booklet PAINT AND PUNK?  We should so love to send it to
you.  May we?  We only want to help lift a little bit of the


Here is another.

Letter from a firm of Patent Ice-Box Manufacturers offering to send
up "their Mr. Smith" to my House.


"What about a new ice-box?  The old one not working very well, eh?
Well, then, suppose you let us send up our Mr. Smith to the House.
Down here we call him 'The man who knows about ice.'  Just remember
that.  He knows--and he wants to tell you.

"Won't you let him come to you?  Won't you perhaps let him fetch
along a sample of our new iceless ice-box and give a demonstration?
Why not bring in the kiddies and let them see it all too?  They'll
love our Mr. Smith.  And he won't try to rush you into buying
anything, either.  He'll just tell you all you want to know in his
own chatty, cheerful way.

"Your home will seem all the brighter when he comes.  Service--
that's all he stands for, and, as he says himself, 'an ice that
will give to the consumer 100 per cent of satisfaction for a
minimum of cost.'  That's the way he talks.  Just as clever as

Now this kind of thing would be all right if it were sent out by
the Life Boat Mission of the Salvation Army.  But as addressed by
one ordinary business person to another, it is heartrending!

And yet, after all, it seems that the world likes a little bit of
kindliness, the "touch of nature that makes the whole world kin";
and likes, by force of association, the person or the thing with
which the kindliness is connected.  Indeed, if a "sense of humor"
means, as it should, something genial and kindly, something "human"
in the best and largest sense, then perhaps it is, after all, one
of the best "business assets" that a man can have.

In other words, the beginning part of this essay is all wrong.

The Stamp-Album World


The Earth or Globe, on which we collect stamps, is organized by the
International Postal Union, which divides it up into countries.
The Postal Union turns on its axis every twenty-four hours, thus
creating day and night.

The principal countries of the world are Cochin-China, the Gilbert
Islands, Somali Land, the Gaboon, the Cameroons, Nankipu, Johore,
and Whango-Whango.  Alongside of these great stamp areas are others
of less importance, whose stamps are seldom if ever worth more than
four cents, such as the United States, Great Britain, Canada,
France, etc.

Some of these countries, however, are of importance as exercising a
control over the stamps of places of the first rank.  Thus, England
comes into prominence as having been recognized by the Postal Union
as controlling Sarawak, Uganda, Inhambane, Irac, and other great
centers.  Similarly, the Philippine Islands, after centuries of
misgovernment were transferred by the Postal Union to the United
States and Portugal.  The Portuguese, of no account in themselves,
they are known, all over the world, as issuing stamps of Lorenço

The Stamp Book can teach us, among other things, the reason and
origin of government and how it comes into being.  Whenever a part
of the earth contains a sufficient number of people to need stamps,
the people all get together and join in forming a government the
purpose of which is to issue stamps.

If the stamps are to have a man's head as the design, the country
is placed under a king, the person selected for the king having the
kind of features needed for a stamp.  The British Royal family
makes such excellent stamps that it is thought that they will be
kept at the head of Great Britain for a long time to come.  On the
other hand, the Emperor of Brazil had to be deposed in 1889, his
whiskers being too large to go through the Post.

In other countries, it is decided that the Goddess of Liberty has a
more beautiful face than a king, and so these countries are called
republics and they elect a new stamp every few years.  Sometimes,
when a face design is wanted, a competition is held.  Years ago the
Goddess of Liberty came from Cedar Rapids High School, Iowa, and
last year one was got from Bangor, Maine.  But generally speaking,
the Goddess of Liberty does not exist, but is just made up.

Any boy who is fortunate enough to possess a stamp album takes a
new interest in geography and must often wish he could take a trip
around the world.  No doubt in his mind he often imagines such a

Sailing, let us say, from the harbor of New York (which is of no
importance, as it issues no stamps), he passes after a few days'
sail the great islands Trinidad and Tobago, which issued their
first stamps in 1881, and catches a glimpse of the coast of Dutch
Guiana, which issues a half-gulden orange stamp of great beauty.

Striking westward across the Atlantic, he sees Teneriffe from the
ocean (with a two-cent Spanish issue), and near it Funchal, whose
stamps issued in 1892 carry a picture of the king of Portugal.

His journey now carries him southward past the Gold Coast,
Ascension, Dahomey, Angola, Anjouan, Whango-Whango and other great
world centers.

Rounding Africa, he catches sight of Madagascar (Republique
Francaise, 10 centimes), Diego Suarez Djibouti, and some of the
principal places in the world.

As he crosses the Indian Ocean, he finds himself, to his renewed
enchantment, in the land of Oriental wealth, the Indies.  Here he
disembarks on the soil of India and visits the great centers of
Ghopal, Bussahir, Chamba, Charkari, Nowanuggar, and Jaipur.  Here
his album leads him to the scene of the great battles fought by the
British Military Postal Authorities (1 shilling, very rare) and
Burmese Expeditionary Force.

Leaving on his left Macao and on his right the Caicos Islands, he
reaches the territory of the Chinese Expeditionary Force Military
Commissariat Postal Service and the area represented by the
Japanese Interim arrangement for the Korean Postal Despatch.

Sailing on eastward across the Pacific, the traveler gets a glimpse
of the Guam, Ding-Dong, Tahiti, Pingo-Pongo, and Houtchi-Koutchi
Islands, and having thus seen the whole world, he passes through
the Panama Canal and thus arrives at his home.

Nor is it only in geography that we find our minds illuminated by
the study of our stamp book.  It opens for us the pages of our

Consider, for example, the history of the British settlements in
North America.  At the end of what is called the colonial period in
American history, there was great dissatisfaction over what was
called the Stamp Act, which compelled all the people to use stamps
made in England.

As a result, Thomas Jefferson designed the Declaration of
Independence, which said, "When in the course of human events, a
country gets large enough to have stamps of its own, it becomes a
free and independent state and deserves to be recognized as such by
the International Postal Union."

Even the most recent history can be understood if examined in the
light of the stamp album.  Thus in the year 1914 there broke out
what is called the Great War, which began between the German
Imperial Field Kitchen and the French Commissariat Parcel Post.

Inevitably other countries were drawn in: first of all the British
Expeditionary Force (one penny), and then the Austro-Hungarian K.
and K. Post (20 Pfennig), and then the Italian Posta della Gherra
and other powers.  Presently the Canadian Expeditionary Force (two
cents) joined in the World War, and the final advent of the United
States Army Post (three cents) brought the struggle to its climax.

The final result of the war was the issuance of a five-cent stamp
by the League of Nations.

One of the chief advantages of the stamp album is that it brings us
to an intimate knowledge of some of the great men of the modern
times whose faces and names are recognized by the Postal Union as
official designs for stamps.  Here is Prince Ferdinand of
Lichtenstein, one of the chief sovereigns of the world; here
General Bingerville of the Ivory Coast; and here Marshall Spudski
of Polish Paraguay.

Some of the faces and names leave us perhaps in a little doubt, but
a little imagination will always help us through.  Here is a
beautiful design of the Panama Canal Zone representing, we presume,
Theodore Roosevelt wading across the Panama River and waving the
Portuguese flag.  Here is King Edward the Seventh, dictator of
Nyassaland, eating a giraffe; and the great French soldier and
statesman, Marshall Foch, sitting on a velocipede in Oubanguichari-
Tchad in the North Central French Congo, Republique Francaise, ten
centimes, poste militaire du Congo, 1915.


If Only We Had the Radio Sooner


The scene is laid in the castle of Count Guesshard de Discard of
Normandy, one of the companions of William the Conqueror.  It takes
place in the "bower" of Lady Angela de Discard, a stone room with
open slots for windows, rather inferior to a first-class cow-
stable.  There are tapestries blowing against the walls, sheepskin
rugs on the floor and wooden stools.  But in one corner of the room
there stands a radio receiving apparatus, and on the wall is a

In the bower are Lady Angela de Discard and her daughter Margaret
of the Rubber Neck.

Lady Angela speaks:  I wonder when we shall have news from England
and hear whether Cousin William has killed Cousin Harold.

Lady Margaret of the Rubber Neck:  By my halidome, Mamma, I think
there ought to be something on the radio this morning.  Papa said
that Cousin William and Cousin Harold had both agreed to get the
broadcast on as early in the day as possible.

Lady Angela:  Is it so, by Heaven!  Then I pray you, by God's
grace, turn on the radio.

(Lady Margaret of the Rubber Neck goes to the radio and starts
turning the dials.  There ensues a strange sound as of some one
singing and wailing, and the music of a harp.)

Lady Angela:  Heaven's grace!

Lady Margaret:  I'm afraid, Mamma, it is one of those Welsh bards.
I think he is singing the sorrows of his country.  I must have got
Plynlimmon or Anglesea by mistake.

Lady Angela:  Heavens!  Shut him off.  I thought that Cousin Harold
promised to have all the Welsh bards killed.  I know that Cousin
William, just as soon as he has killed Cousin Harold, means to kill
the bards.  Do try again.  I am getting so interested to know
whether your father gets killed or not.

(Lady Margaret tries again.  There is this time a wild and confused
rush of sound.  She shuts off the radio at once.)

Lady Angela:  Odds Bones!  What's that?

Lady Margaret:  I'm so sorry, Mamma; I think it was a Scottish
concert.  I'm afraid I really don't know from what station the
battle is to come.  You see.  Cousin William and Cousin Harold were
to select the ground after the landing.

Lady Angela:  Then, for the love of Moses, call up on the telephone
and find out.

Lady Margaret:  I'm so sorry, Mamma.  So help me, I never thought
of it.

(Lady Margaret of the Rubber Neck goes to the telephone.  As she
talks, the answering voice of the operator can be heard, rather
faintly in the room.)



Is that the Central?

(In truth, it is!)

Wilt thou kindly impart information touching a matter on which I am
most anxious to receive intelligence?

(In certain truth I will an so be it is something of which this
office hath any cognizance.)

You will certainly put me under a deep recognaissance.

(Speak on, then.)

I will.


That will I.

(What is it?)

It is this.  I am most curious to know if any broadcast or general
exfusion of intelligence is yet received of the expedition of Duke
William of Normandy.

(Truly indeed, yes, by Heaven, certainly.  Even now the exfusion is
about to come over the radio.)

(Lady Margaret with a few words, not more than a hundred, of hasty
thanks, hangs up the telephone and again turns on the radio.

This time a clear voice with a twentieth-century accent is heard
beginning to announce.)

Announcer:  Good morning, folks!  Gee!  You're lucky to be on the
air this morning. . . .

Lady Angela:  Tune him a little more; I don't get him.

Lady Margaret (fumbling with the radio):  It's because it's an
Announcer.  I heard Father Anselm say that the announcers are born
a thousand years ahead of their time, though how that can be I know
not.  In any case it is agreed, they say, that the Saxons are to
have the broadcasting rights, and Cousin William is to have the
moving pictures.  Now, wait a minute--Heaven's grace, that's that
Welsh bard again.

Lady Angela:  Silence him.

Lady Margaret:  There, now, I've got it.

(The Radio begins to talk again.  The voice that speaks is as of
the twentieth century like the voice of one "announcing" a football

Announcer:  Now, folks, this is Senlac Hill, and we're going to put
a real battle on the air for you, and it's going to be some battle.
The principals are Harold, King of England--lift your helmet,
Harold--and William, the Dook, or as some call him, the Duck, of
Normandy.  Both the boys are much of a size, both trained down to
weight, and each has got with him as nice a little bunch of knights
and archers as you'd see east of Pittsburgh.  Umpires are: for
Harold, the Reverend Allbald of the Soft Head, Archbishop of
Canterbury; for William, Odo the Ten-Spot, Bishop of Bayeux.  Side
lines, Shorty Sigismund and Count Felix Marie du Pâté de Foie Gras.
Referee, King Swatitoff of Sweden, ex-Champion of the Scandinavian
League.  Battle called at exactly ten A.M.  They're off.  The
Norman boys make a rush for the hill.  Harold's center forwards
shoot arrows at them.  William leads a rush at the right center.
Attaboy, William!  That's the stuff!  Harold's boys block the rush.
Two Norman knights ruled off for interference.  William hurls his
mace.  Forward pass.  Ten-year penalty.  Quarter time.

(The radio stops a minute.)

Lady Margaret:  How terrifically exciting!  Do you think we are

Lady Angela:  It's very hard to tell.  I've often heard your father
say that in the first quarter of a battle they don't really get
warmed up.

(The radio starts.)

Announcer:  Battle of Senlac.  Second quarter.  Change of ground.
Duke William has won the west end.  The Normans make a rush against
the left center.  Hand-to-hand scrimmage with Harold's front line.
Many knights unhorsed and out of the game.  Several men hurt on
both sides.  Count Guesshard de Discard receives a crack on the
bean with a mace.

Lady Margaret:  Oh, Mamma, papa got one on the bean.

Lady Angela (laughing):  He certainly did.  I can just see your
papa's face when some one landed him one!

Lady Margaret:  What happens to you, Mamma, if papa gets knocked

Lady Angela:  I believe that Cousin William has promised to give me
to one of his knights.  I don't think it's settled yet who gets me.
They generally raffle, you know.  But stop, we're missing the

(The radio continues.)

Announcer:  Second half of the game.  Both sides rested up during
half time.  Duke William attacks the center.  Man hurt.  Battle
stops, substitute replaces.  Battle continues.  William's entire
cavalry rides at the hill.  Harold's boys heaving rocks.
Swatitoff, the referee, knocked down by the cavalry.  Umpires
whistle.  General melee.  Battle degenerating into a fight.
William's men ride off apparently in full flight.  Norman boys
retreating everywhere.  Harold's men rushing down hill at them.
Battle all in Saxon's favor.  The noble Harold driving the foul
Normans off the field.  Listen, folks, and . . .

(At this moment something goes wrong with the radio.  It sinks to a
mere murmuring of squeaks.)

Lady Angela:  The ungodly radio is off!

(Lady Margaret tries in vain to fix the radio.  It won't work.
While she works at it a long time passes.  It is not till she has
sent for a Norman carpenter with a sledge-hammer and a crowbar that
the radio works again.  When it does it is late in the afternoon.
Then at last it speaks . . .)

Announcer:  Battle all over.  The foul Saxon, Harold, lies dead
across the fifty-yard line with his whole center scrimmage dead
round him.  Spectators leaving in all directions in great haste.
The noble William is everywhere victorious.  Norman crowd invading
the club house.  Number of injured and dead knights being piled up
at the side of the field.  Among the dead are Count Roger the
Sardine, Count Felix Marie de Pâté de Foie Gras, the Seneschal
Pilaffe de Volaille and Count Guesshard de Discard. . . .

Lady Margaret:  Ah, do you hear that, Mamma?  Odd's life, papa's
killed.  That must have been that smack on the bean.  I had a
notion that papa would get it, didn't you?

Lady Angela (picking up a little steel mirror and adjusting her
cap):  Oh, I was sure of it.  A juggler prophesied it to me last
Whitsuntide.  I wonder which of the knights Cousin William will
give me to. . . .

What the Radio Overheard



The scene is in the dining-room of the house of Mr. Uptown Brown.
It is a large room with a mahogany table and a mahogany sideboard
and all the things that ought to be in the dining-room of people
called Uptown Brown.

In a corner is a radio machine of the best and newest type with
leather armchairs beside it and on a little wooden seat printed
papers with announcements and programs.  The time is evening, an
hour or so after dinner, and the people who appear are Miss Flossie
Fitzclippet Brown, the Only Girl in All the World, and Mr. Edwin
Overflow, the Only Man in the Universe.  But they have not yet told
this to one another.

FLOSSIE (as they come to the dining-room):  There's nobody in here.
Wouldn't you like to come in, and I'll show you our new radio?

MR. OVERFLOW (in a deep voice, charged with static):  With

FLOSSIE:  How dark it is!  The switch is over there.  Won't you
please push it on?

MR. OVERFLOW (with more static):  With pleasure.

FLOSSIE:  Now sit here and make yourself terribly comfy, and I'll
turn on the radio.

MR. OVERFLOW (speaking with a compressed voltage, which ought to
warn any girl that there is something atmospheric doing):  With

FLOSSIE (at the radio):  Now wait a minute.  I never can remember
which way these silly dials go--let me see.  Do you understand how
to do it, Mr. Overflow?

MR. OVERFLOW (at a pressure of 200 atmospheres to the inch):  Not
at all.

FLOSSIE (fingering the dial):  I think this is the one and I think
you turn it so--


FLOSSIE (shutting it off):  No, that's wrong, I'm sure.  I'll try
this other way.

MR. OVERFLOW (rising from his place and putting forward his antenna
as if about to make a contact):  Please don't!

FLOSSIE:  Don't what?  (She turns off the dial.)

MR. OVERFLOW:  Don't turn on the radio.  There's something I want
to say, something I've been trying to say all evening--

FLOSSIE (who has been trying to make him say it all evening):  To

MR. OVERFLOW:  Yes, to you.  Miss Brown--(He stops with a static
congestion in his feed pipe.)


MR. OVERFLOW:  Miss Brown--(He pauses; then with an effort he
connects in on a better wave length.)  Miss Brown, Flossie, ever
since I've been coming to this house--

FLOSSIE:  I wonder if I can get Atlanta.


THE RADIO (in agony):  SQUA-ARK--

MR. OVERFLOW:  Turn it off.  Listen.  Miss Brown--Flossie--ever
since--that is to say--please don't turn it on--Flossie--I only
wanted to say--I love you.  (He reaches out both his antenna.)

FLOSSIE:  Oh, Edwin!  (They make a contact and are joined in a
short circuit.  Connected thus, they sit down beside the radio.
Their hands are joined as they sit in close conversation.  Not a
sound comes from the radio.  It is listening, and is having a good
time all by itself.)

FLOSSIE:  But how can you really love me?  You've only known me
three weeks.

EDWIN (speaking now with far less strain on his aerial, owing to
the removal of all atmospheric disturbance):  Three weeks and one
day and four hours.

FLOSSIE:  Oh, Edwin, how can you remember?

EDWIN:  Remember--can I ever forget it?  That first afternoon when
I met you crossing the park--and--

FLOSSIE:  Oh, Edwin!

EDWIN:  Flossie!!

Ten minutes later Edwin is still saying--"And do you remember the
day when I took you and your mother to the matinee?"  And Flossie
answers with a light laugh--"And mother would talk to you all the
time."--"Yes, I was wishing your mother was in Jericho!"--"How nice
of you, dearest!!"

Twenty minutes later Flossie is saying--"Edwin, dear, I'm afraid we
simply must go back to the drawing-room again.  They'll have
finished their cards and mother will be wondering where we are.
Wait a minute till I turn on the radio--"


FLOSSIE:  Kiss me, darling.  I'm so happy!  And isn't the radio
just wonderful!


So they go upstairs to the drawing-room, and up there when they
arrive there are two tables full of people playing bridge.  At one
of them Flossie's mother, Mrs. Elizabeth Uptown Brown, and her
father and two other people are playing and they have just thrown
down their cards because their first rubber is over and Flossie
goes up to her mother and kisses her and Flossie's mother kisses
her and says:

"Where have you been, darling?"

"Downstairs listening to the radio."

"How is it working?"


Flossie's mother knows quite well where Flossie has been, and she
wouldn't have interrupted her for the world.  But what she really
means is, "Did you land him?"  And when Flossie says, "Perfectly,"
she knows that her mother knows and her mother knows she knows what
she means.

At the other table, Flossie's brother, Edward Wiseguy Brown, a
college radio expert, is playing cards, with a cigarette
permanently a part of his face, and he says without even turning
his head round:

"What did you get, Floss?"

"Oh, I don't know--"


"I think it may have been."

"Did you get Yomsk in Siberia?"

"Oh, gracious no!"

"Did you get ANYTHING worth while?"

"I don't think so--that is--" and here she looks over at Edwin for
a second and he happens to be looking at her and they both get
extremely red, and the whole room gets charged with ecstatic
electricity.  In fact, it is a relief to everybody when Flossie's
father, Mr. Uptown Brown, rises and says to the other man at his

"Here, let these two young people take our places, Tommie, and you
and I will drop out a bit."

On which Mr. Uptown Brown and his heavy friend, Mr. Thomas Bung,
rise with a deliberation appropriate to their dignity and weight,
and Mr. Brown says:

"Come on down if you like and we'll have a turn at the radio

His heavy friend, Mr. Bung, says:

"Well, I don't mind if I do."

Mrs. Uptown Brown glances across at her husband with a look that
means, "Now what are YOU up to?"  But she says nothing.  She's too
happy about Flossie.  Let him for once if he likes, she thinks--
only don't let him think that she's deceived.  But she can
straighten that out afterwards, so she merely says, quite

"Come along, then, and we'll start a new rubber," and makes a place
beside her for Mr. Overflow.  There he is to sit for the rest of
his life.


So after Miss Flossie Fitzclippet Brown and Mr. Edwin Overflow had
come back upstairs, engaged, from the mute vicinity of the radio,
Mr. Uptown Brown and Mr. Thomas Bung, his heavy friend, went down
to the dining-room.

MR. BROWN:  It's over here in the corner.  Sit down, Tommie, in one
of these big chairs while I turn on this damn thing.  Have a cigar?

MR. BUNG:  Well, I don't mind.  Had it long?

MR. BROWN:  No, just got it.  The children like it.  Try one of

MR. BUNG:  Thanks.

MR. BROWN:  Now I don't know how you found it upstairs, Tommie.  It
certainly seemed to me pretty dry.

MR. BUNG:  It certainly did!

(They both chuckle.  They know what's coming.)

MR. BROWN:  Well, what about a little Scotch, eh, Tommie, my boy?
Wait till I turn on this machine, or, no, I'll get the Scotch

(Mr. Uptown Brown takes a key out of his pocket and goes and opens
up a little cupboard in the corner angle of the wall.)

MR. BROWN:  I always keep it locked up over here.  No use ringing
for the servants.  Bess can hear the bell from up there, you know,
and she might get a little fussed up--say when, Tommie--

MR. BUNG (speaking in a low gurgling voice such as is produced from
the larynx by Scotch and soda):  Oh, no, no sense in making a fuss
over these things.  I'm always the same way at home, too.  That's
damn good Scotch, Ed.

MR. BROWN:  Yes, have some more.  Or wait till I turn on this durn
radio, otherwise Bess might--Here, I think this is the dial you


MR. BROWN:  No, that's not it.  I'll get it in a minute.  Now this
is a Scotch, Tommie, that I can guarantee--


(And ten minutes later Mr. Edward Uptown Brown is still saying):
Now this Scotch, Tommie, is a Scotch, that you won't get a better

And after a while--after a long while--with a sigh, Mr. Uptown
Brown rises from his chair and he says:

"Well, Tommie, old horse, I'll guess we'll have to get back to the
drawing-room, or Bess will be wondering where we are.  Wait till I
give this a whirl again."

(He turns a dial.)


MR. BROWN (turning it off instantly):  Come along, Tommie, or say,
what about another?

MR. BUNG:  Yes, certainly, I'll join you.  A wonderful thing this
radio, isn't it?


And so when they do get up to the drawing-room, it is quite late
and the cards are just about over.  Eddie Brown Junior is adding up
the score and he says without moving his face from his cigarette:

"What did you get, Dad?"

"Oh, nothing much."

"Didn't get Yomsk in Siberia?"

"No, I don't think so, did we, Tommie?"

"I guess not.  But what we got wasn't so bad, either."

"Was there much interference, Dad?"

Mr. Brown, drawn fatally on and still chuckling to his friend:

"Not a damn bit."

Ominous words.  Mrs. Brown gives one look at her husband.  There
will be plenty of interference later.  He will get all the radio
activity he wants a little later on.


Meantime the guests leave.  Ed. Brown, Jr., radio expert, has risen
from his chair and says to his friend, a fellow expert:

"Come on, Harry.  It's late enough now to be worth while.  There
won't be much interference now.  We'll see if we can get Yomsk."

Ted Brown and his friend, the two radio experts, go down to the
dining-room.  The house is quiet now.  It is getting late.

Ted says:

"Now sit down here while I tune her up.  I guess Dad's been
monkeying with it.  Funny he can't learn, isn't it?  (He begins
twisting and turning the dials.)

"What I want to do is to try to get Yomsk, Siberia.  The other
night I was nearly sure I had Yomsk.  There's a sending station
there now, but they're not catalogued and it's hard to tell.  Ever
try to get them?"

"No.  Nearly got Teheran in Persia the other night.  At least I
think it was Teheran.  I couldn't be sure.  It would be in Persia,
I suppose."

"Yes--now wait--I believe.  I've got it."


TED (shutting it off):  Gosh, no--that's only President Coolidge.
Let's try it this way.


"Drat it, that's a sacred concert.  I thought they all quit at
eleven.  I'm sure that's the number I used for Yomsk.  Wait a

Ted turns at the dials.  He and his friend sit in front of the
machine in deep absorption.  Ten minutes later Ted is still saying:

"No, cuss it--that's only the Beethoven Sonata being played in the
opera house in Chicago--try this."


And Ted says:

"Darn it.  That's only Madame Galli Curci singing in St. Louis.
I'll just try once more for Yomsk and if we can't get it, we'll
shut off for the night.  There's no sense bothering with these
things near by."

He tries once more.


And then he quits.

But far away in Yomsk, amid the snow, a grimy Bolshevik in a grimy
café is singing an imitation American coon song.  That's what he
wants to hear.

And as Ted reluctantly turns off the machine, he says:

"It's a great thing, the radio, isn't it?"


So Ted's expert friend goes home, and Ted Brown himself goes to
bed.  The radio is silent and the house is still.  The mystic
currents move through the air, and Atlanta is whispering to
Vancouver, and Helsingfors in Finland murmurs to the Hebrides.  But
not a sound of it comes to the darkened room.  The house is still
and the people are asleep and the radio machine is silent.  Its
programs and its announcements lie beside it on a little table, but
from it there comes not a sound.  The radio, hushed by the
whispering currents, is asleep.

And the hours pass--till it is late, late--and then softly, oh,
very softly, one of the dining-room windows pushes up--surely no
one lifted it, it just moved up--and into the dark room there steps
such a soft man, with a black cap on his head and he moves with a
little spot of light in front of him that comes from such a soft
little lamp that he holds in his hand, and in that half-light, you
can see that he wears a dirty mask on a dirty face with two holes
in it where his shadowed eyes are.

This man--do you guess it, perhaps?--is not a scientist come to fix
the radio, but he is a burglar and he has come to unfix some of the
property of Mr. Uptown Brown.

The burglar turns his light here and there about the room--and he
turns it presently upon the radio.  There is no surprise in his
face when he looks at it.  Oh, no.  This man has already spent some
time in Ossining, New York State, and he knows all about radio and
how to work a radio magazine.

"Radio!" he murmurs.

Then he looks at the printed sheets that lie beside it with the
announcements for the night.  President Coolidge speaks in New York
on the World Court.  That must be over.  The man sighs, with relief
or otherwise.  And then he looks--what is this that he sees?
Madame Pallavicini is to sing at midnight in the cathedral in the
City of Mexico--midnight, that would be now--and she is to sing--
and as the man in the mask turns the spotlight on the print he sees
that she is to sing the aria:

"Enter Thou Not Into Temptation."

The burglar stands in front of the radio and there is stillness in
the house.  The man murmurs the title to himself.

Far away Madame Pallavicini in the midnight cathedral in the City
of Mexico is singing, and the mystic currents are murmuring around
the house, "Enter thou not into temptation."

The burglar murmurs to himself, "Ah, shucks, I'll chance it," and
puts his hand out towards the dials.  Why?  Well, perhaps he had
taken music classes when he was at Ossining in New York State;
perhaps he had an ear for music, or perhaps, if you like, some of
the things they say in the story books about the burglar are true.
Perhaps the sound of "Enter thou not into Temptation," intoned in a
cathedral at midnight, hits him harder than it does you or me.

At any rate, the man looked all about him, listened a moment, and
then, with the hand of an expert, turned rapidly the dials of the
radio.  And with that, all the mystic waves of the night that had
gathered in the great cathedral of the City of Mexico came rushing
over the wires.



The sound of it rattled in the still house, the burglar heard a
rattle at the lock of the front door and he knew what it meant.
The Uptown Browns, like all sensible people of their class, pay
part of the fee of a night watchman.  As the night watchman entered
the front door, the burglar, noiselessly as the mystic wave itself,
moved out from the window.  Madame Pallavicini and the whispering
currents have done their work.  He will not sin to-night.

One Crowded Quarter Second


In real life, the process of turning tragedy into happiness, of
alleviating a broken heart, of starting a new life, is the work of
years and the slow effect of time.  Even in a novel it can hardly
be done under fifty pages.  But in the movies they do it in exactly
one quarter of a second.

The most beautiful thing about the movies is this rapid way in
which, with a couple of flicks of the film, what looked like
interminable sorrow destined to extend over years is changed into a
"new life."

No matter what awful things may happen to the people in the movies,
the spectator need never despair.  The movie man can fix them up
all right at any moment in one turn of the machine.

The hero, for example, gets sent to the penitentiary for ten years.
You see him arrested, you watch the trial (four seconds), the
fruitless appeal to the governor (two seconds), and then you see
him put behind the kind of prison bars, the toast-rack pattern,
that they use in the movie for the penitentiary.

A turnkey with a sad face and slow mournful steps (he takes over
five seconds) has locked the hero in.  Great Heavens! ten years! to
think that his young life--he is still only twenty-eight--is to
waste away for ten years behind those stone walls; and then, just
as you have hardly had time to finish thinking it--he's out!

And quite simple the way they do it!  Just a legend or title, or
whatever they call it, thrown on the screen:


Yes, learns it and is out!  Clear out of the penitentiary in a
quarter of a second.  Just by learning peace!  I must say if I ever
go in, I'll learn pretty quickly.

Yes, there he is out again, and, what is luckier still, not a day
older: still only twenty-eight.  And he's had time to shave in the
quarter second while he was in there and looks pretty neat and

There he is in the same apartment and on the sofa beside him his
wife--the very one that he sandbagged in a misunderstanding ten
years ago is sitting and saying:


and after that they fade out into one another's faces and the
screen remarks in conclusion:


and that is a sign that these broken lives are now mended.

In any case, the mending of a broken life is a very simple matter
in the movies.  It's a specialty that has been reduced to an art.
If a movie character loses a husband or a wife, the loss is
repaired in one-quarter of a second.

For example, here is a disconsolate movie widow--and how charming
they look anyway; I'd like to buy a bag of them--you see her beside
the grave, a saintly clergyman bending over to console her; the end
of the long story of perhaps 4,000 feet of tragedy has come to
this--this dull hopeless grief that finds no consolation.

No consolation!  Just wait a minute and let that title writer get
in his work.  There you are:


and you see her walking in a springtime garden (the season has
changed in a quarter-second) and bending over her is a lover,
evidently a husband,--in fact, he must be, because there is a
little wee child romping in the grass at their feet.

And the lover?  Don't you see it?  That means then that you never
go to the movies.  Why, the lover is the saintly clergyman, the one
who was in the graveyard.  He fell in love with her, time passed,
they had this child--there you are.  And all in a quarter of a

But perhaps still more wonderful are the complete changes of
character, mostly very favourable, that are packed into the
quarter-second.  A bad man turns into a good one; a depraved
villain into a gentle soul; a she-hyena into a chastened woman.

The other day, for example, in a moving picture I saw a villain--a
real villain--he was rich and he ground down the poor, he
terrorized a little town with the brute power of money.  When that
power failed, he hired bandits to murder people because they were
too virtuous to help him.

Then fate intervened.  A dam broke.  The Colorado River rolled
right over the villain and drowned him.  Forty thousand cubic feet
of water fell on him.  Then they picked him out, plastered with mud
six inches deep.  That, apparently was a pretty serious situation.

But, no, the fatal quarter-second got in its work.  The title maker


Presumably with the mud.  At any rate, there he is, sitting on a
sofa, NOT DROWNED--that was an error--with the heroine beside him
and the mud all wiped off, and he is saying:


Personally, I had seen it quite a little time before.  But at any
rate his redemption, I am certain, was complete and final because
the next thing said in the picture was:


Oh, yes, he's redeemed finally; the picture is over.


And I have wondered, too, whether something might not be done to
apply this wonderful and happy system of transformations to some of
the old masterpieces of the stage and literature.  They are too
sad.  The tragedy is all right and very interesting, but it ought
to be redeemed at the end by putting in a quarter-second of first-
class movie work.

Take, for example, Hamlet.  All the world knows how the sorrow
accumulates.  Hamlet's father murdered, even before the play
begins; his mother married to his uncle; Polonius stabbed; Ophelia
drowned; Hamlet himself half crazy; his uncle killed; Yorick's
skull mislaid; Laertes about to kill Hamlet--in short, a quite
serious situation.

But that wonderful quarter-second of the movies would straighten it
all out.  Try this, for example:


And what do you see?  Hamlet sitting beside Ophelia--she was not
drowned, only got muddy and since has had time to wash--in the
gardens of the Palace; and in another moment we find, smiling at
them, his uncle, the King, no longer wicked; in fact, he says


and near them, playing on the grass, the inevitable child, only
this time it is Hamlet's and Ophelia's.  And you realize that the
murder and the poisoning was only a dream of one of the characters,
and that since then a quarter-second has passed and life has moved
on and everything is all right.  And


and that wipes out all vestige of Hamlet.


But after all, if we call them moving pictures, it's their business
to move.

Done into Movies


The other day I went to see a moving picture of "Treasure Island,"
the late Robert Louis Stevenson's famous story.  It was really an
excellent thing, absolutely thrilling all the way through.

But in putting the story into the movies they had had to make a few
necessary adaptations and alterations.  It seems that the public
demands this.  Moving picture producers have often explained to me
that the public is very sensitive.  There are subjects it doesn't
like and topics which it prefers to avoid.  And there are other
things it insists on having in every first-class moving picture.

So I found that "Treasure Island" had had to be changed a little.
In the first place the scene was not laid on an island.  If you put
a thing on an island that cuts out motor cars and limits the scope
of the plot.  So the scene was laid in California.  And there was
no treasure, because treasure has been worked to death.  Instead of
treasure the plot was shifted to holding up a bank, which is more
up to date.  That of course cut out the pirates and the ship, but
put in bandits and a motor car.  Incidentally, all the stuff about
"Yo Ho! and a Bottle of Rum!" had to go.  Any references of this
sort antagonize a great number of spectators and have the
appearance of criticizing the existing institutions of the United
States--which is madness.

There were certain changes also in the persons of the story.  John
Silver instead of having one leg has two, so as to be able to hop
in and out of a motor car.  Jim Hawkins, the boy narrator of
Stevenson's story, is changed into a girl.  No moving picture is
held to be complete unless a girl is brought into it.  And Squire
Trelawney, who is a middle-aged man in the written story, is made a
young man.  This allows for a proper ending by having the Squire
marry Jim Hawkins.

Apart from these changes, the story is told with wonderful fidelity
and accuracy.  There is no doubt--indeed there could be no doubt--
that the transformed story gains enormously from the few incidental
alterations necessitated by the film.

Now this little incident has set me thinking over this process of
adapting stories for the moving picture and admiring the way in
which it was done.  And so it chanced that just afterwards, by a
fortunate coincidence, I got an opportunity of seeing something of
the process itself.  There happened to come into my hands the
report made to one of the leading film companies by their expert
writers on the prospects of adapting one or two well-known stories
for moving picture presentation.  I presume that it is no improper
violation of confidence to present them here, especially as the
stories mentioned are so familiar in their original forms as to be
almost public property.

The first one is an expert report on the question of adapting the
well-known story of Adam and Eve for the moving picture.  It is as


Technical Report on Its Adaptation for the Film

"We have looked over this MS. with reference to the question of
adapting it to a scenario.  We find the two principal characters
finely and boldly drawn and both well up to the standard of the
moving picture.  The man Adam--Christian name only given in the
MS.--appeals to us very strongly as a primitive but lovable nature.
Adam has "pep" and we think that we could give him an act among the
animals, involving the very best class of menagerie and trapeze
work which would go over big.

"But we consider that Adam himself would get over better if he
represented a more educated type and we wish therefore to make Adam
a college man, preferably from a western university.

"We think similarly that the principal female character, Eve, would
appeal more directly to the public if it was made clear that she
was an independent woman with an avocation of her own.  We propose
to make her a college teacher of the out-of-door woodland dances
now so popular in the leading women's universities.

"It is better that Adam and Eve should not be married at the
opening of the scenario but at the end after they have first found
themselves and then found one another.

"We find the 'Garden' lonely and the lack of subordinate characters
mystifying; we also find the multiplicity of animals difficult to
explain without a special setting.

"We therefore propose to remove the scene to the Panama Canal Zone,
where the animals are being recruited for a circus troupe.  This
will allow for mass scenes of Panaminos, Mesquito and other
Indians, tourists, bootleggers and the United States navy, offering
an environment of greater variety and more distinctive character
than an empty garden.

"The snake we do not like.  It is an animal difficult to train and
lacking in docility.  We propose instead to use a goat."


The story entitled "The Merchant of Venice"

"The outline entitled 'The Merchant of Venice,' which comes to us
with the signature, 'W. Shakespeare,' but with no further hint of
the authorship, strikes us at once as a composition of great power.
It is full of action.  It has color and force, and the leading
characters are strongly marked.

"We wish to recommend its immediate adaptation for the film, but at
the same time to propose a few incidental changes necessary to make
it a success.

"In the first place the character, Shylock, must not be a Jew as
this would needlessly antagonize a large section of the public.  To
avoid all offense it would be better to make him a Mexican.

"A further point to notice is that there are too many Italians in
the piece and not enough Americans.  It lacks patriotism.  We would
suggest that either the entire scene be removed to Venice,
Illinois, or else that the principal characters such as Bassanio
and Antonio be made American visitors to Venice and that for the
Doge we substitute the consul general of the United States.

"We would like to replace Portia by one of our great criminal
lawyers, leaving Portia as his stenographer.

"We think that the piece would gain in scenic quality by the
introduction of a canal scene at night, by the drowning of one of
the characters, perhaps several, in the Grand Canal at midnight and
by the introduction of the Spanish Inquisition and the massacre of
St. Bartholomew.  These features would add historical interest,
while the American character of the film could be stressed by the
insert of a picture of the Supreme Court at Washington."


Things I Hardly Dare Whisper


As everybody knows, the recent craze for publishing diplomatic
memoirs is exciting a storm of protest in the highest European
circles.  It is felt that it involves a dangerous leakage of
political secrets.  "We are leaking all over the place," writes
Lord Bulkhead.  "It has got to stop."

On the other hand, we cannot resist recommending to the reading
public in the warmest terms the extraordinary and fascinating
volumes announced above.  It is no exaggeration to say that the
publication of "Things I Hardly Dare Whisper" is calculated to
arouse a whirlwind, the suction of which may carry down two or
three of the principal governments of Europe.

The work is all the more intriguing in that the name of the author
is buried in absolute secrecy.  The publishers themselves are
utterly unaware who wrote it.  The authorship is variously
attributed to Lord Balfour, ex-premier Poincaré, Lady Astor,
Douglas Fairbanks, the Queen of Roumania, and Dorothy Gish.  Miss
Gish, however, on being approached, declared emphatically, "I
didn't write it: so there!"  Monsieur Poincaré says that he not
only didn't write it, but he couldn't write it.

Perhaps the principal feature of the book is the extraordinary
boldness of its revelation.  Conversations between persons of the
very highest rank and the most conspicuous position are reported
with a frankness that verges on brutality.

Take, for instance, the passage, one of the most notable in the
volumes, in which the unknown author relates a conversation with a
Most Exalted Personage.

"We were sitting together in the bar of the House of Lords," he
writes, "the Personage, as usual, sitting with his elbow on my
shoulder and whispering into my ear so that Lord Snoop, the Master
of the Buckhounds, and Lord Snipe, at that time in office as Black
Stick in Waiting--or Yellow Stick in Hiding, I forget which--could
not overhear our conversation, which The Royal Personage obviously
regarded as for us alone.

"'What do you think of Sir Jaugh Bohn?' I asked.  The Royal
Personage looked carefully around and then whispered, 'He's a pup.'
I made a silent note of this for publication.

"'And what is Your Personage's opinion of the First Lord of the
Admiralty?'  His Personage advanced his face closer and took hold
of my ear with his hand so as to draw it towards him.  'I consider
the First Lord,' he whispered, 'as nothing better than a third-rate

"Realizing at once the high commercial value of these disclosures,
I begged The Royal Personage to sit quiet a moment while I wrote
them down."


A similar frankness and daring is shown not only in the treatment
of royalty itself, but in the confidential pen pictures given by
the author of the leading statesmen of Europe.

"We were sitting on a bench in the sun," he writes, "outside the
modest little country home of Monsieur Clemenceau, whom I may
designate the Old Tiger of France.  The Old Tiger, who will be one
hundred and six (if he lives long enough), had just spent a busy
morning planting radishes.  'What is your opinion of England?' I
asked of the Old Tiger.  For a moment a flash of all his old
impetuosity flashed out of the Old Tiger's eyes.  'It's a hell of a
place,' he said."

But perhaps to most readers the most engrossing chapters of the
book are those which deal with the origin, or what the author
cleverly calls the genesis, of the Great War.  Many memoirs have
already dealt intimately with this topic.  The Kaiser, General
Ludendorf, Lord Grey, and others have essayed to analyze the causes
of the conflict.  The Kaiser says that it was a world attack
directed against himself personally.

Lord Grey, while speaking in a very guarded and moderate way,
thinks that the war may have had something to do with England and
Germany and possibly with France.

The statement is also made in various quarters that the war
represented the eternal conflict of the Zeitgeist with the
Zeitschrift.  Indeed, a colonel of one of the negro regiments from
the United States has said this was exactly his idea in going into
it.  No doubt it was this idea of a Zeitgeist which inflamed the
minds of many of the young men at the time.

In other quarters, and especially in academic circles, the opinion
is generally held that the war was a conflict of the Inevitable
against the Inexhaustible.

It is all the more interesting to find that our present unknown
author makes the astounding statement that he caused the war

"It is strange to realize," he writes, "that a few casual words
dropped by myself in a drawing room in Buda-Pest probably
occasioned the entire conflagration."  (It would not perhaps have
been so strange if he had dropped them in a garage or somewhere
where there was gasoline.)

"I was seated one evening talking with Prince Bughaus of Schlitz-
im-Mein, himself of the immediate entourage of the Kaiser and
intimate with every Chancellery in Europe.  The Prince had been
asking me confidentially what I thought Downing Street would do if
the Quai d'Orsay lined up solidly with the Ball Platz and came down
heavily on the Yildiz Kiosk.  At that time (it was July of 1914),
the whole atmosphere was tense with diplomatic electricity.

"Unfortunately, Prince Bughaus, who is a master of languages, was
talking for greater secrecy in Chinese; and I misunderstood his
reference to the Ball Platz and thought he was referring to the
World's Base Ball Series.  'Everything is arranged,' I said, 'for
the early autumn.  And this time it will be a fight to a finish.'
The Prince repeated quietly (in Chinese), 'A fight to a finish.'
But that night he telegraphed to Berlin that Germany's only chance
would be to anticipate her enemies by making war in August.

"The result of my casual remark is unfortunately only too well


One must not, however, suppose that these delightful volumes are
entirely occupied with the tragic, the somber, or the pompous side
of life.  The author enlivens his pages with a number of delightful
anecdotes in regard to the great people with whom he has been in
contact, which are quite as amusing as those in any similar book of
memoirs to-day.  For example, the following delicious story is
related in connection with the same Prince Bughaus of Schlitz-im-
Mein just mentioned.

"Bughaus, as his friends call him, is not only one of the most
astute men of his time in the diplomatic world, but is decidedly
one of the wittiest.  Indeed, I have never known any one with such
an instantaneous command of repartee.

"I was sitting with Bughaus and several of the corps diplomatique
one evening in one of the best-known and most fashionable of the
Buda-Pest Magyar restaurants, which perhaps I had better not name,
inasmuch as naming it might give an idea which one I mean.  The
Prince summoned the head waiter to him and asked 'How much are your
cold partridges?'  'I am sorry, your Transparency,' replied the
man, 'we haven't any cold partridges.'  'In that case,' replied the
witty Prince, 'we won't have any cold partridges.'

"I need hardly say that the entire corps diplomatique broke out
into hearty laughter.  In fact, they nearly choked themselves."

When we add that the two entire volumes are filled with material,
grave and gay, on the same level as what we have already narrated,
it will be understood that these volumes of confidential memoirs
will challenge comparison with anything of the sort written in the
last ten years.

Hands Across the Sea


It has been calculated that within the last twenty-five years over
a billion dollars' worth of Art Treasures have been removed from
Europe to America.  The purchases include a great number of
pictures by the old masters,--so great as to alarm the custodians
of the Italian galleries,--statues of the highest antiquity and
many manuscripts of the masterpieces of literature.  Already the
question of moving entire buildings, such as Shakespeare's cottage,
etc., has been freely discussed.

It is clear that this movement once well started will know no limit
save that of American wealth.  And since American wealth has no
limit, we shall some day find the journals of New York chronicling
the completion of Art Removal something as follows:


The successful removal of Buckingham Palace to its new site in
Mauch Chunk, Pa., where it will serve as the home of the Rotary
Club may be said to mark the end of the Art Removal Movement.
American connoisseurs say that there is now little or nothing left
that they care to take.  A certain disappointment was expressed in
Mauch Chunk art circles when it was found that the king was not
included in the palace when brought over.  But we have it on good
authority that the club will make a further assessment on its
members to buy the king if they want him.

It is of interest to look back over the successive phases of
history which have thus reached their final culmination.

The removal of valuables from Europe to America seems to have
originated with the purchase of pictures and works of art from the
European Galleries.  It was felt that America ought to have in its
possession samples of the work of the great masters.  No adverse
comment was raised when a considerable number of paintings by
Rubens, Titian, Velasquez and other masters were brought over to
America.  In the same way the original manuscripts of many great
authors, Milton, Byron, Dickens, etc., were soon largely in
American keeping.  At the time it did not occur to the connoisseurs
to buy the author himself.

It was soon found that other souvenirs of the past could be lifted
and carried over to America as easily as paintings and manuscripts.
We learn from old newspapers that it was about 1930 that removal of
gravestones and monuments first began.  An interesting item on this
head may be here reproduced from what seems to have been a leading
Texas newspaper in 1935.

"Our enterprising fellow-citizen, Mr. Phineas Q. Cactus, has
succeeded in going all the art connoisseurs one better in the
unique present which he has just made to this city.  Mr. Cactus
recently made a visit to the old country and was immensely
impressed with some of the scenery which he considers little
inferior to that of Texas.  While inspecting the grazing lands of
Lincolnshire he noticed particularly the little country churchyard,
crowded with a jumble of graves and leaning tombstones, with great
elms rising among them, and celebrated to all lovers of American
poetry as the site of Gray's famous 'Elegy in a Country
Churchyard.'  Mr. Cactus has been enabled to buy the entire spot
and is having it moved, trees and all, to Texas.  In their new
setting the graves, however, will be neatly laid out on a
rectangular plan, the plots divided with little streets and
avenues, properly numbered and the bygone tenants arranged
alphabetically.  It is felt that this noble gift will do much to
stimulate interest in the study of the history of Texas."


It appears probable that this unrivaled feat--successfully
accomplished--gave the impetus to removal of land sites on a still
more generous scale.  The removal of the Battle of Hastings which
was re-laid out beside West Chicago in 1940 was followed by the
careful and methodical transfer of a selected number of
battlefields from Europe to America.  The Battle of Waterloo, for
which the bidding was very keen, was finally purchased by the
Ladies' Country and Golf Club of Fargo, Dakota.

It seems to have been at this point that the first murmurs of
disapprobation, if not of protest, were heard from the other side.
The following letter, couched in a language perhaps a trifle too
warm for the occasion, seems to have appeared in the London
Spectator, at some time in the year 1945.

Editor, The Spectator,


On returning from a residence of several years in the East and
paying a visit to the continent of Europe I noticed, sir, with a
certain shock of surprise, sir, that the battle of Waterloo had
been removed from its place.  Without wishing, sir, to question the
perfect legal right of the purchaser, sir, I cannot but express a
feeling of regret.  And when I add that I have looked all over for
Blenheim, Jena, Austerlitz and other battles and cannot find them
you will admit, sir, that the situation is one to which the
attention of your paper ought to be called.

Yours, etc.,


(Retired) Major.  Indian Army.


Such excitement as may have been occasioned, however, by the
removal of the battlefields was soon forgotten in the mingled
wonder and congratulation which followed the transfer of the
European landscape on a still larger scale.  It was little thought
that when the United States federal government accepted the
ownership of the forest of Fontainebleau in return for the
cancellation of the French debt that they meant to move it to
America.  The transfer, though vast in its totality, was simplicity
itself in detail.  Nothing was needed but to dig up the trees and
replant them on this side of the water.  As it costs only three
dollars on the average to remove a tree and as it used to cost an
American citizen about five dollars a tree to go over and look at
it, the transaction is hugely profitable.  The beautiful forest as
replanted on the Hudson now reaches from Yonkers to South Troy,
containing a gasoline station at every quarter mile.


It appears, however, that the proposal which has just been made in
the legislature of Montana is destined, if carried out, to eclipse
anything already accomplished.  It has long been felt that there is
an insufficient amount of scenic art among the Rocky Mountains.
The tourist in that district finds himself with nothing to look at.
It is proposed, therefore, to establish a special city--the site of
which will be the famous Dead Dog's Gulch--entirely composed of
European churches of historic interest.  The state has already
options on several of these buildings now in America and will buy
such few as are left in Europe.  When the plan is completed the new
city of Ecclesia, Mont., laid out in squares, will contain in one
and the same municipality, the Church of Notre Dame, the Madeleine,
the Mosque of St. Sofia, York Minster, the Vatican and numerous
other interesting specimens.  It is further proposed that the
legislature shall, by a series of criminal statutes, create a
religious atmosphere suitable to the city.


Vast as have been the operations thus undertaken in Art Removal it
is as interesting as it is reassuring to realize that they have
involved no loss of money.  Indeed, a calculation just made by
Professor Yidd of Columbia shows that there has been a considerable
profit.  Before the era of Art Removal about 333,000 Americans
visited Europe every year and spent, on the average, about three
thousand dollars each.  This made a total of a billion dollars and
represented the interest on $25,000,000,000.  As there is now no
reason to go to Europe, all the money, perhaps twice the amount
spent on removing pictures, trees and churches, has been saved.

Nor is that the whole of the case.  At present it is found that an
increasing number of Europeans come over to America to see the
former treasures of Europe.  It was noted that on a single steamer
last week there was a party of young Englishmen coming over to have
a look at Westminster Abbey and a group of enthusiastic Scots
anxious to see Edinburgh Castle.

The good work may be carried still further.  They say there are
some things worth taking in South America.

If They Go on Swimming


Have you ever paused to think, my dear reader--or do you ever
think?--of what will happen if the present swimming mania keeps up?

Only a little while ago it was looked upon as an impossible feat to
swim through the Niagara Gorge.  Then somebody swam it.  Then
somebody else swam it.  And then everybody swam it--and the Niagara
Gorge has become, more or less, a sort of bathing resort.

The next feat was the passage of the English Channel.  It was
called impossible.  Then somebody swam it.  Somebody else swam it.
Everybody swam it.  And look at it now--black with people.

After that came Catalina.  It was declared an absolutely impossible
swim.  Somebody (already a forgotten hero) swam it.  Then somebody
else.  Then more.  And now parties swim across in dozens.

So let us look ahead, by imagining the press notices of the next
few months and years and see where this swimming business is
leading to.  Here we have, for example, the beginning of the famous
Bering Sea Contest of the summer of 1929.  Thus:


Nome, Alaska, June 1, 1929.--A daring, and perhaps a suicidal
proposal is put forward by John Eiderduck, an Eskimo of upper
Alaska, who will attempt to swim from America to Asia.  The
proposition is generally regarded here as little short of madness.

The distance along the line which Eiderduck has selected is a
hundred miles, the entire course being broken by currents and tides
of extraordinary ferocity.  The course is also thickly strewn with
floating ice and is exposed to the full fury of the sub-arctic

Eiderduck, however, is a man of extraordinary physical strength and
endurance, habituated to the water since his infancy.  He proposes
to smear himself a foot deep with seal blubber and to close up his
eyes with ham fat.

Sea captains and others who know the straits well declare that
Eiderduck cannot possibly swim it.


Nome, June 5, 1929.--John Eiderduck, covered with seal blubber and
his eyes closed with ham fat, successfully accomplished today the
feat of swimming from America to Asia.  The swim occupied four
days, one hour, and one minute.  During the last fifty miles,
Eiderduck was in a state of coma, and during the final ten miles he
was practically dead, swimming in a purely mechanical way about ten
feet under water.

Eiderduck landed at Chuk-Chuk in Northeastern Siberia, and had to
be harpooned to lift him out of the water.


Nome, June 10, 1929.--Peter Williams, a college student of the
Aurora Borealis Agricultural College, Point Barrow, has duplicated,
if not surpassed, the record swim of John Eiderduck.  Leaving the
American Coast on Monday evening, he landed in Siberia late on
Wednesday afternoon, having swum the entire distance in a little
less than three days.  Peter reports a cold trip.


Nome, June 20, 1929.--Miss Ettie Underweight, a girl teacher in the
Nome High School, swam from America to Asia, in two days and a
half.  Miss Underweight, who weighs only 95 pounds (troy weight),
was accompanied by a boat from which she was given chocolates,
cigarettes, candies, cigars, and chewing gum during her swim.


Nome, Aug. 1, 1929.--Among the many persons who have swum from
continent to continent during the past few weeks, the palm of
victory is now universally awarded to Mrs. Martha McFooze, a
Scottish lady who has been living as a missionary in Kamskatka,
Asia, for over fifty years.  Mrs. McFooze is eighty-four years of
age and learned to swim only last summer.  She made a remarkably
good passage, leaving the Asia coast early on Wednesday and
arriving in America late on Tuesday, thus making the trip in about
one hour less than nothing, according to the standard time of both

Now that the Bering currents and the conditions of the swim are
thoroughly understood, the transit is being made by hundreds of
people every week.


But with the advent of the year 1930, a new excitement will break


San Francisco, June 1, 1930.--Intense excitement is raging in San
Francisco over the announcement that a local multimillionaire and
enthusiast has offered a prize of twenty dollars for the first
person who will swim from San Francisco to Hawaii.  The feat is
here regarded by all those who know the course as practically
impossible, the distance of 2,095 miles being filled with currents
running in all directions and infested with sharks, etc., etc.,
etc., etc. . . .


San Francisco, July 10, 1930.--Miss Lottie Lotsofit, a high-school
girl of this city, has successfully completed the swim to Hawaii.
The swim occupied exactly twenty days, Lottie keeping up an average
speed of four miles an hour.

On her return here, a civic reception will be tendered to her and
the prize of twenty dollars will be presented to her by the mayor.


And then after that, in the years from 1930 onward, the papers will
be crowded with little swimming items from all over the world,


Nagasaki, June 1, 1931.--The Reverend Josephus and Mrs. Hussel swam
in to-day from the Philippines.  They report a quiet passage.


Valparaiso, Chile, June 1, 1932.--Two high school girls from the
Tacoma (Wash.) Academy swam in here by mistake.  They were heading
for London via Panama, but missed the entry to the canal in a mist.
They report things quiet on the west coast of South America, but
passed a school of school teachers swimming from Callao to


Hamburg, June 15, 1933--Hans Hamfat of Hamburg completed to-day the
first ocean swim attempted as a freight carrier.  Hamfat, who
weighs three hundred and fifty pounds, carried nearly half a ton of
mixed cargo across from Norway at a rate that cut far below the
ordinary freight charges.  It is proposed to incorporate him and
let him swim back and forward to America.


In other words, by that time this hurried and hustling world will
have overdone and done to death the swimming business, as it does
everything else.  It will go the way of the 1897 bicycle and the
1912 tango and all the other hobbies of a restless generation.

Why can't we take things a little quietly?

If Mussolini Comes


The glad news has gone abroad--or is it just a rumor?--that Signor
Mussolini will shortly visit America.

"In a few months," the great Italian patriot is reported as having
said to the press, "I shall go out to America.  As soon as I have
completed the fascistification of Europe, I shall make the voyage.
There are just a few more things here which I want to abolish and
then I shall be ready to go over to America and see what needs
abolishing over there."  After which Signor Mussolini threw the
interviewer out of the window and turned eagerly to his desk.

There is no doubt that everybody has been immensely struck with the
rise and growth of the Fascisti movement in Italy.  They didn't
know at first what it was, but it pointed clearly to the
fascistification of all Europe.

When Signor Mussolini stepped out from the ranks of the nation,
everybody saw that he was a real man; and when he abolished the
Italian Parliament and threatened to abolish the church and the
labor unions and the king and the Socialists, and to sweep away the
national debt, the taxes, together with the upper, lower, and
middle classes, everybody realized that he had started something.

Add to this that the Fascist never shaves, that he doesn't believe
in democracy, that he won't stand for any back-talk from anybody
and it is clear that the new doctrines will make a tremendous hit
on this side of the water.  Anybody who has to deal with taxi-cab
drivers, hotel clerks, customs officials, and traffic cops, knows
that we have our own Fascisti all around us already.

I can therefore imagine that if Signor Mussolini really does come
and make a tour of this continent, there will break out a chorus of
enthusiasm on the following model:


New York, Monday.--Signor Mussolini, the dictator of Italy, landed
here this morning after having heaved the immigration officials
into the outer harbor.  Mussolini's refusal to allow any of his
baggage to be opened has delighted all the customs officials, while
the fact that he openly carried a gallon of Chianti under his arm
has at once won him the esteem of the Federal prohibition

Mussolini expressed himself as delighted with New York.  It needs
nothing, he said, except to be knocked down and built over again.
"Move it ten miles up the Hudson," he exclaimed, "further from
Philadelphia and nearer to Sing Sing, and it could be made a great

Mussolini spoke briefly and modestly of American institutions,
expressing the greatest admiration for everything about them,
except such things as the constitution, liberty, equality, and
democracy.  "These, however," he says, "are already passing and
with an earnest patriotic effort can soon be got rid of
altogether."  The local press is filled with eulogistic comments on
Signor Mussolini.  His refusal to pay his hotel bill was met with
wide endorsement.

The illustrious Italian will leave at once for Washington, where he
will inspect the government.


Washington, Tuesday.--Signor Mussolini, the distinguished dictator
of Italy and founder of the Fascisti movement, arrived in
Washington at 10 o'clock this morning.  He at once recommended the
purification of the government by the abolition of both houses of
Congress.  The distinguished statesman was closeted with the
President all afternoon in an earnest consideration of the
abolition of the presidency.  Meantime Signor Mussolini advocates
that the Chief Justice and the other members of the Supreme Court
be brought to trial at once, either for laesa majestas or under the
Volstead Act (he doesn't care which), and either executed or
banished to Murray Bay.

Signor Mussolini considers that government in this country is
lacking in emotional appeal.  He recommends that as an inauguration
of the new method of heroic government, every Monday be declared a
day of National Rejoicing, followed by Tuesday as a day of National
Weeping, with Wednesday as Patriotic Feast Day, and Thursday as a
Grand General Clambake and Strawberry Festival.

He says that what our government needs is pep.  Signor Mussolini,
it is reported, will shortly visit the Middle West, traveling
incognito as the Duke of Oklahoma with a view to introducing the
aristocratic principle.


Ottawa, Wednesday.--Signor Mussolini yesterday paid a flying visit
to Ottawa with a view to seeing how much of the government would
need to be abolished at once and how much of it might be left over
till next year.  He expressed his regret that the Prime Minister is
not wearing a black shirt and offered to lend him his other one.
It is said that Mussolini will very likely advocate the entire
abolition of the Prairie Provinces.


Chicago, Thursday.--Signor Mussolini, during his visit to Chicago,
witnessed a baseball game for the first time.  The great Italian
patriot expressed himself as delighted with the contest which he
declares to be the nearest thing to the true Fascisti idea that he
has seen in America.

He admired especially the rigidity and stringency of the rules, but
questions whether there are enough of them.  At present, he says,
it would be possible to know all the rules, whereas in Italy the
rules of any public game are kept secret.  He was surprised to find
that the umpire has no power of life and death over the players.

Signor Mussolini leaves at once in order to fill a lecture
engagement at Harvard.


Cambridge, Mass., Friday.--Intense interest and enthusiasm are
being shown for the lectures by Signor Mussolini given here at the
invitation of Harvard University on the doctrine of force as a
social factor.  His statement that the public are just a pack of
hogs has been received by the public with delight.

The business men whom Mussolini denounces as a set of crooks are
flocking to hear him, while the society people are entranced with
his theorem that society people have no brains.  The clergy also
are very much interested in his dictum that every clergyman is more
or less a nut.

Meantime invitations to lecture are pouring in from all over the
country.  The public statement of the illustrious Italian that the
Middle West is sunk in ignorance as deep as mud has led to
enthusiastic calls to the Middle West.  His grand slam on
California has been made the occasion of an invitation to Leland
Stanford University.  His theory that the moving pictures are doing
the work of the devil has prompted the offer of a contract from
Hollywood, while his plain challenge, "To hell with radio," is to
be broadcast all over New York.


The Reverse Side of the Picture

The general wave of awakening in this country which has accompanied
the progress of enthusiasm for the Fascisti movement is somewhat
averted by the severe business depression which has overwhelmed the
soap industry.  Soap is said to be unsalable, and all colored
shirts are being exported to Ethiopia, while the barber shops are
closing for lack of business.

These, however, are felt to be only the back eddies in the current
of a great national movement.

Meantime, Mussolini having finished his gallon of Chianti, to his
regret, is departing for Italy tomorrow.

This World Championship Stuff


Now that the World's Baseball Series is again approaching and the
World's Prize Fight is over, the World's Tennis Championship
decided and the World Medal for Needlework awarded, it is the right
moment for some one to call attention to the alarming growth of
this World Stuff.

We are reaching a situation where nobody is satisfied with any form
of achievement or competition or contest unless it takes in the
whole world.  In olden days, a man could make a reputation and feel
a tremendous pride in himself even in a very restricted area.

I knew a man who lived and died respected because he had taken a
prize as the second best checker-player in York County, Ontario.

I knew another man who was famous as the champion long distance
jumper of Bellows Falls, Vt.  But what would that man have thought
if he could have read of a Million-Dollar World's Jump jumped at
Constantinople, by jumpers from the entire jumping world.

This world competition stuff takes all the joy out of the lesser
and humbler things.  I will give a very simple and personal
example.  A year or so ago I was getting quite stout, comfortably
stout, and I was proud of it.  But all my pleasure in the fact was
ruined by a newspaper paragraph that read:


"The State of Iowa has produced in Edward Aspiration Smith of Cedar
Falls, Iowa, the World's Champion stout boy.  Ed, who was born and
raised in this state, is only fifteen years old and weighs 420
pounds.  He attended high school here for three years and weighed
one hundred pounds more with each class he attended.  This fall he
was persuaded to enter the Fatness Contest organized at the fall
fair at Indian's Gulch, Iowa, open to all the world.  Ed speaks
very modestly of his success, which he attributes as much to his
parents as to himself."

After I read that I realized that there was no use in any efforts
of mine.  This infernal boy would beat me out any time.  He can add
ten pounds to my one easily.  I don't seem even to care about
trying to be the stoutest man on my street with Ed Smith on the

All that I can do now is to content myself with reading of the
increasing world triumph of Edward Aspiration Smith, of the medal
he will win at the Pan-American Stoutness Contest at Washington,
D.C.; of how the President will say to him, "Well, Ed, you
certainly are stout"; and then he will go over to London and defeat
all comers in the World's Weigh-In and King George will say to him,
"Well, Ed, you certainly are fat!"; and after that he will appear
in Paris at the Concurrence Mondiale de la Grosseur and Monsieur
Poincaré will say to him, "Eh bien, monsieur Ed, vous êtes
certainement gros."

And in the whole of Edward Aspiration Smith's career the only part
I can take will be to bet on him in each successive contest that he
carries on.  That is exactly where we are getting to, those of us
who are not world people ourselves--the excluded two billion who
don't weigh 420 pounds, and can't jump eight feet in the air, who
can't sing to 10,000 people, or pound anybody to a pulp in the
presence of 120,000 others.  We just bet.  That's us and that's all
that we amount to.

To-day, for example, there is a World's Horse running in a World
Race in Cuba.  I'm betting on that.  And there's a World Man
swimming the Irish Channel--or, no, he's drowned; but, anyway,
there's some man swimming some channel somewhere--a World Channel--
he's doing it for a World Belt or something.  Anyway, I am betting
on him.  Why wouldn't I?  Personally, I couldn't swim across the
Lachine Canal.  So all I can do is bet.  You too.

There's a slight consolation in the fact that these world people
come to a natural end.  Some one else out-worlds them.  I know
perfectly well that sooner or later Edward Aspiration Smith will
run up against something a little stouter than himself.  At the
Pan-Continental World's Entire Globe Million-Dollar Contest, Ed
will be beaten out by a Chinese boy from Shantung, who can't read
or write, but weighs half a pound more than Ed.  And that half
pound will hurl Edward clean down to the bottom again, and people
will look on him as quite thin and his book "How I Became Fat" will
lose its sale entirely.  Such is the poison of the World Stuff.

So it is coming about that we are getting to have a group of World
People superior to the rest of ourselves.  We sit and look on.  The
other day in a New York restaurant, they pointed out to me the
World's Most Highly Paid Plumber eating supper with the World's
Champion Baggage-Smasher, and there was a World's Prize Lady
Mannequin eating with them.  Could I have had her with me?  No.  I
was outclassed.

If this thing goes much further, I propose to start a society of
World Assassinators and send them out.  If I do, I warn such people
as Mr. Charlie Chaplin and Mr. Fairbanks and Mr. Tunney and the
Lady Mannequin, who got the World's Beauty Prize, to look out.
But, pshaw, what would be the use?  Before my society was a month
old, it would hold a competition and some one in it would take the
World Prize for Assassination, and I would have to bet on him.

But I'd like at least to warn the public that some of the
consequences of the world stuff are going to be as serious as they
are unforeseen.  Take the case of War--a thing in itself quite as
unimportant to the world as Prize Fights or Tennis or Beauty
Contests.  We are in danger of losing it.  Not so very long ago
everybody was content, amply content, with a quiet little war
between one or two nations, just doing the best they could without
any outsiders.

Any one of us would, for example, have been satisfied with a select
little war between the United States and England, fought out
between ourselves with no interference.  We might perhaps have
allowed the French to look on or even to take a small part because
they are old friends.  But beyond that we never had any aspirations
at all.

But look at the present situation.  We are all so spoilt with the
idea of a World War that we won't be content with anything less.  I
talked the other day with an officer of very high rank in the
American Army who expressed to me exactly what is felt in his
profession about the outlook.

"You can't blame us," he said, "if we are discouraged.  The
prospect of war, that is, of a real war, a World War, seems most
unpromising.  Several times lately we could, of course, have had a
war with Mexico.  But our fellows say they simply wouldn't fall for
it.  It's not worth while.  War with Japan used to sound inviting a
few years ago.  But after all, there are only about seventy million
of them and one hundred and ten million of us, or one hundred and
eighty million all together--bush league stuff!

"As for a World War," he continued, "you just can't get them to
come in or at least to agree when it is to be.  Some nations would
like it to be before Christmas, and others want to wait till after
New Year's when the public are less preoccupied.  The result is
going to be that, first thing we know, we won't get any war at


There:  That's the situation as I see it, and the danger that
prompts me to write this essay.  After which, the only thing to do
is to hand the manuscript to a World Organization to give it a
World Printer.

Get Off the Earth


I was having a talk the other day with McGinnis, the famous
Frenchman who has just flown from Norway to Nigeria.  I think it
was he.  Anyway, it was either McGinnis or else Raoul de la
Robinette, the great American aviator, or the Italian, Schwarz.
One mixes these flyers.

The point is that the flyer was complaining that, in the shape in
which things are now, there is nowhere left to fly to.  "Where can
we go?" he asked.  "You remember that last summer when Lindbergh
and then Chamberlin and then Byrd and the others flew across the
Atlantic Ocean, it created quite a stir.  But how long did it last?
Within a few months the newspapers carried headings such as
"Chicago Girl Flies to France," "Octogenarian Hops Atlantic"--that
sort of thing.

"Presently it didn't even amount to that.  Here's a paragraph, for
example," continued the aviator, "cut out of yesterday's paper,
that reads:  'Concert Postponed.  Madame Hoopitup, the Great Dutch
Soprano, who was to have appeared in New York, will be unable to
appear to-night owing to a severe cold.  It is thought that she may
have contracted this in her transatlantic jump.  Her medical man,
who flew at once from Ohdam to her assistance, has sent for her
daughter, who is now flying to Rio to join her brother who will fly
with her to her mother.'

"So you see there is nowhere to fly to.  After the Atlantic, we
soon used up the rest.  Somebody flew across to Japan, but the
Japanese got back at us at once.  Then it was announced that the
great Polish aviator, William Henry O'Heir, would fly from Warsaw
to the desert of Gobi.  And he had everything ready when just then
a Mongolian flyer from Gobi landed in Warsaw.

"We've tried the poles and that's nothing.  There's a restaurant
now at each of them.  In fact, there are no queer places left in
the world any more.  All the odd spots are gone.  The Negus of
Abyssinia is advertising for American bartenders.  The Grand Llama
of Tibet gave an interview on Mother's Day on the dangers of
cigarette-smoking.  The Khan of Tartary has put in a golf course,
and the Rajah of Sarawak is playing chess by radio with the Begum
of Bhopal.

"What's the good of flying?  There's nowhere to fly to."


He ceased and left me.  And hardly had he gone when I fell into the
company of another distressed acquaintance whose principal interest
in life till only recently has been radio and all that goes with

"I'm done with it," he said.  "There's nowhere to talk to.  Only a
few years ago, it gave us a great thrill when New York actually
talked to Chicago.  Then we lengthened it out to San Francisco and
Vancouver.  Then there came a time--how childish it seems now--when
people actually got excited because New York talked to London.

"It's queer that no one foresaw what was bound to happen.  The
earth is only 25,000 miles round at the roundest.  And it's less if
you just run round the top half of it.  You can't get more than
12,500 miles away from anybody if you try.

"When New York called up Rumbumabad in the Punjab, they were
halfway round the world.  And when London called up Dunedin, New
Zealand, and Hammerfest, Norway, spoke to Tierra del Fuego,
Patagonia, the thing was over.

"There's nowhere to talk to now.  The only reason to talk now would
be to hear what they say and think.  And that's nothing.  They say
and think just what we do.  Nobody now is far enough away.
Unless," he concluded wistfully, "we can get off the earth!"


And a little later I met a third.  "Business?" he said, "rotten.
There's nobody to sell to.  I've just been through equatorial
Africa selling cars--selling our new closed car with self-
regulating refrigeration and a lion-catcher in front.  But it's no
good.  They've all got them.  All the highways from Tanganyika to
Lake Tchad are crowded with them.  There's no use inventing any
more new devices.  They just go all over the world in a day.

"And to think that when first I saw equatorial Africa thirty years
ago, those people would buy glass beads and trade a chunk of ivory
six feet long for a broken soda water bottle.

"But it's no use.  Nowadays everybody knows everything and
everybody has everything, and you can't sell anything.  The only
way to sell things now would be to get clear off the earth itself.
There must be some new boobs somewhere."


And so, too, the next one.  "Travel," he said.  "Why should I?
There's nowhere to travel to.  Every place has become just like
every other place.  Wherever you go you see big signs up with the
words garage and gasoline.  The Chinese wear English golf suits,
and the English wear Chinese pyjamas.  There are no local manners
and customs left.  All the world eats French omelettes, chop suey,
finnan haddie, and Chicago ham.  Even the dervishes now have a room
and a bath, and the Hottentots use safety razors.  Travel is

And so it happened that just after I had listened to these
different complaints, I read in the paper that paragraph that
everybody saw the other day about the possibility of getting to the
moon.  It seems that Professor What's-his-name--the great physicist
of that big university--says that with modern explosives a huge
cannon could easily fire people clear beyond the earth's attraction
and land them on the moon like mashie shots on a golf green.

That's the thing for us.  We've spoilt this poor old globe.  We've
got it all so explored and surveyed and exploited, so organized and
so uniform, so entirely subdued to our use that the whole place is
tame and wearisome.  There are no rough spots left.

But think of the moon.  With hardly enough atmosphere to breathe
in, with great pits and caverns ten miles deep, with internal fires
and external darkness, and with life primitive and hideous in the
sunken crevasses.

What a place!  What a romance, what a chance for inventions, and
what a market.

Let us hop off for it, one by one.  Go ahead, Colonel Lindbergh,
you're first.

Of course, we don't come back.  But who cares?


The Lost World of Yesterday


You might see it in "Anno Domini 1880," skimming along any country
road, it or them, the Horse and Buggy.  A fairy vehicle, it seemed,
light and swift, so that the buckboard and the lumber wagon seemed
at once hopelessly clumsy, slow, and inconvenient.  It was the last
word in ease.

It had a step to step in by, so that there was no need to throw
oneself over the side, as in the lumber wagon.  It had springs
between the body--the chassis--and the axle, so that when the
wheels hit a stone or bumped into a rut the light chassis
oscillated in the air like a canary's nest on a willow bough.

With the buckboard, each jolt was a collision, head-on and
uncompromising; the lumber wagon had about as much give and take as
a war chariot; the buggy danced upon its springs like a daffodil.

In front was a dashboard sheltering from the splash of mud, and
folded into it, by a miracle of inventive ingenuity, a waterproof
rug or cover for the knees.  Behind the seat, by another stroke of
invention, was a sort of locker or receptacle that would hold two
quart bottles.

But the real point of the horse and buggy was their speed.  Goodbye
to the heavy lumber wagon left behind in the dusty road as we spin
past on the green grass that edges the track; goodbye to the
buckboard, once the dashing marvel of the corduroy road; goodbye to
the hayrack and the horse-threshing-machine, and the other vehicles
of the country highway.  The buggy passes them as if they are
standing still.

The horse and buggy had no speed indicator.  But they could hit up
seven miles an hour with ease, and make it ten if the horse ran
away.  There was no speed limit in terms of miles; the law forbade
reckless driving, but seven miles an hour was all right anywhere,
except only inside a village, or an incorporated town, or a
municipality, or beside a church, where it fell to two, and up-
hill, where it sank to one.

The horse and buggy used no gasoline.  With them, there was no
painful nuisance of filling the tank or cranking up.  It wasn't
necessary.  Just get the lantern and go out to the stable and slip
the harness on the horse, bring him round to the trough and break
the ice if it was winter, or if it was summer just pump a little
till the pump started and fill up the trough, and then put the
horse into the buggy and bring them round to the back door, and
that was all.

A smart man could hitch in fifteen minutes.  Even a child could do
it all except the tail-strap.

When the horse and buggy skimmed along in 1880 in the hey-day of
their popularity, there was in the buggy, typically, a lady and
gentleman--I beg pardon, I am forgetting how to use my own original
language--there was in it a "young feller and a girl."  He was
taking her "out for a spin."  In 1880, to "spin" a girl was the
sure way to win her.

The young feller wore his store clothes, gingerbread brown, and a
black hat copied from the North American pirates, and the girl had
on a colored dress copied from the Algonquins.  They didn't take
their fashions from France in 1880.  They got them right here.

The spin in the horse and buggy as compared with the modern motor
car--also called the automobile or the horseless carriage--was
safety itself.  The horse might dash into a snake fence and hurl
the girl over it on to a pile of stones in the fence corner; but
without damage--you couldn't hurt those girls in 1880.

The horse might, of course, get a puncture by picking up a stone,
but all you had to do was to speak softly to it, lift its leg, and
kick it in the stomach.  In a few minutes you were off again.

The young feller and the girl in the horse and buggy were making
love.  They didn't know it, but they were.  They thought that they
were just out for a spin looking at the crops.

"Them oats," he said, "of Bob Ames's's ain't headin' out the way
they should."

"No, indeed," she answered, "they didn't ought to be so green

Both of them had been to school--in the red schoolhouse on the road
itself; both of them could "speak grammar" if they tried to; but
that would be affected.  And when he said, "I ain't seen no crops
on the whole equally superior to them there," the language had a
home feeling about it that you don't get in a spelling book.

Some of these young fellers of 1880 afterwards sat in legislatures,
or preached from city pulpits, and became the nation builders of
this continent.  But when they gave up saying "this here" and "them
there," they had taken on something alien to their true selves--but
did they ever really give it up?  I doubt it.  In the most
plutocratic homes of the continent, when the English butler's back
is turned, your host may still say to you, "Try one of these here
cigars."  And if you come from where he does, you will answer,
"Yes, sir, they're a good cigar, them."


But I forgot the horse and buggy--they're off and gone a quarter
mile down the road; they're passing through Riddel's Bush on the
hillside, and the swinging boughs and the green leaves nod over
their heads.  Not making love?  I am not so sure of it.  Look--the
young feller has handed to the girl a "conversation lozenge," a
white, flat piece of peppermint candy with a motto on it in red
poison:  "If you love me as I love you no knife can cut our love in

When that lozenge was passed from hand to hand in 1880, it was as
full of meaning as when Morgan the Buccaneer handed a chip to his
associate pirate, or the Turkish Sultan a bowstring to his Vizier.
It spelt FATE.  And if the girl took it and ate it--I mean, "took
and eat it" (I keep slipping up on this language)--then her fate
was settled.

At the end of the vista of green trees, she could see already in
her fancy the meeting-house and the minister and the stern
paraphernalia of marriage as it was in 1880.

The horse and buggy have done their work.  Turn them head home in
the evening twilight.

Come Back to School


A number of excellent people, as they pass from youth to middle
age, begin to look back with regret to their days at school.  The
idea grows in their minds that their school days were the happiest
period in their lives.

Many a prosperous business man pauses in the intervals of his lunch
at the club, or stands a moment pensive on his golf course, to
recall with wistful longing the days when he was a boy at school.
"Yes, sir," he says to himself or to his neighbour, "I didn't know
it at the time, but those certainly were happy days."  And his
neighbour, between the puffs of a Havana cigar, agrees with him.

So let us see what it was really like.

Come back with me for one morning in school.

You, my good friend, prosperous business man and happy head of a
household, you will be good enough to transport yourself in fancy
back to your school days.  Come along to school with me and let us
see how you like it.

And by the way, hurry up!  School begins at 9 A.M. and you have to
be there.  I know that you generally get to your office at nine,
but then, if you don't arrive there, nothing happens.  THIS
morning, if you are not there at nine, there's going to be trouble.

A man nearly twice as high as you are and weighing three times as
much will interview you about it.  In proportion to your present
size--that is, so as to reproduce your proper schoolboy impression--
he would be eleven feet high and weigh half a ton.  And his
proposition to you would be that if you can't come to school on
time, you and he will have a few words to say about it.

However, luckily we needn't worry this time.  By good luck here we
are at school right on time.  But, say, for heaven's sake! throw
away that cigar!  Have you forgotten that you can't smoke in

Now you can stand up and pray for five minutes--that will do you a
whole lot of good--and then we'll go right into the arithmetic

Take your seat--yes, that little wooden bench; you don't have a
cushion--and let's begin the arithmetic, the very same thing that
you must have enjoyed so hugely in those old days you talk about.

First question for you:--

John has 87 marbles, but he gives seven-ninths of them to Edwin,
who in turn gives Arthur four-fifths of the difference between what
he keeps and what John had at the start.  How many marbles has

What!  You can't answer it?  But, my dear sir, that's the kind of
thing that your little son of ten is doing every day.  What?  You
say you will get your stenographer to do it.  Yes, but in school
you don't have a stenographer.  Come along, try another.

Mary is twenty years old.  Mary is twice as old as Anne was when
Mary was as old as Anne is now.  How old is Anne?

Stuck again?  And yet you are so fond of explaining to the children
at home what a whale you were in arithmetic.  I'm afraid that your
chance of getting out at four is beginning to look mighty poor.  No
game of golf for you to-day.  Not if that man eleven feet high
knows it.

Well, let the arithmetic go.  Perhaps next time you see your
children working out "homework" in a corner of the living room,
you'll be a little more compassionate.  But just before we leave
arithmetic, would you like to realize about how much of it you
really have left?  This--the following--is about your present size:

A and B play billiards.  A, having made eleven points, gains three
more.  How many has he now?

Or perhaps you might even manage this:

A and B play bridge.  A, having lost 67 cents, offers in payment
one dollar.  How much must B return to A in order to equate the

So you can see just where you stand as compared with these
wonderful children of ours.  Let's go on to the next class.  Oh!
you'd like to stop a few minutes and light a cigar!  Can't be done.
Don't you remember that in the dear old happy days, school never
stopped.  You'd like to telephone?  You are not allowed to
telephone.  You've just remembered that you wanted to go down the
street and buy some fishing tackle?  Well, you CAN'T go down the
street.  Not till after four and perhaps not even then.  Come on
into the next class and let's go on with the dear old happy days.

This time it is geography.  We are going to learn the rivers of
South America.  Don't you remember how fascinating it was?

Let's begin now.  Just say them over a few times--the Amazon with
its branches, the Madeiro, the Puro, the Ukayale, the Ukuleke--

What? you've forgotten the first one already?  Start again--the
Madeiro, the Madingo, the Colorado Claro, the Hari Kari, the Berri-

Eh! how's that?  It just occurs to you that all these fool names
are crazy and that there's no sense in learning them.  You can just
as well tell your stenographer to call up the express company and
ask THEM.  Yes, but don't you remember that in the dear old school
days, you HAD to learn this kind of stuff by the yard?  Never mind,
we'll let you off the remaining forty minutes of geography.  Come
along and let's have a whirl at English literature.

Ah! now you really brighten up.  It's a favorite theory of yours
that the literature class was a real treat, or at least that if you
only had listened to your teacher properly, you would have got
something for your whole life.

Let's see.  This is the class in English poetry and the children
are to study Gray's "Elegy."  Now sit tight in your seat and listen
for the questions.  First of all the teacher will read out a verse--

     "The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
      And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave,
      Awaits alike the inevitable hour.
      The paths of glory lead but to the grave."

Now come the questions:--

"Boast--first boy, how do you distinguish boast from boost?"

"Would it be an improvement, second boy, to say, 'The boost of
heraldry'?  Distinguish this again, third boy, from 'the booze of

"Heraldry--fourth boy, what is Greek for this?"

"Now in the next line, fifth boy, 'all that beauty.'  All WHAT
beauty?  and in the line below, sixth boy, 'lead but to'; explain
the difference between but to and but in."

"Now for the whole class--take your exercise books and write a life
of the poet Gray, being particular to remember that his grandfather
was born in Fareham, Hants, or perhaps in Epsom, Salts."

Well, well!  You can't stand it any more!  You want to break away
and make a rush for your club.  How cozy it will feel when you seat
yourself opposite a large beefsteak and when you light up a cigar
as huge and dark as the Amazon itself.  How glad you are that the
waiter will not suggest that he will cut you off five-eights of
two-thirds of the steak and keep the rest warm for twice as many
minutes as half the time needed to eat the remainder.

I tell you, sir, that as you sit there with your napkin to your
chin and look at the spring sunlight on the young leaves, you have
reason to feel happy that your school days are over.  You are
wondering whether you will take half an hour's nap before you take
the train to the golf club.  And meantime the little boys are just
going back to school, to give the Amazon another crack.

Won't you henceforth, my dear sir, drop that stuff about the happy
school days, and try to make it up to the little sufferers when the
holidays begin again?

The Fall Fair and the Autumn Exposition


Let us consider the 1928 season for the Fall Fairs.  The first one
opened up at Moose Factory, Hudson's Bay (first turn to the left
after Halifax), on August the first (close of the summer); and the
last one is to be held at Bahia Todos los Santos (Lower California)
on December the sixth (first day of autumn).

Meantime, though people fail to notice it, the Fall Fairs, like
everything else in this world, have been undergoing a constant
process of change and evolution.  The man who first put a fat woman
in a tent and called her a side-show was a real Christopher
Columbus; and the genius who first arranged a (high) bicycle race
in which one of the contestants could break his neck, was second
only in influence to Thomas Edison.

If one wants the proof of it, let us turn back a moment and compare
the Fall Fair as it was and the Autumn Exposition as it is.  We can
take as our basis of comparison the fair that was held in
Midgeville in 1880 and the exposition that is to go on this autumn
in Midge City.  They are really the same place except that in such
a long time changes have come.  Where the Methodist church used to
stand, there is now the Pandemonium Building; and on the corners
where you used to go into a saloon to buy your drinks, you now go
into a drug store.


Anno Domini 1880

The Fall Fair at Midgeville was advertised by a distribution of
circulars which lasted for about one afternoon.  That is to say, a
man drove out with a horse and buggy and a little packet of printed
notices, which he handed out to each of the country stores that had
a post office in it.  He covered a radius of five miles in each
direction, and beyond that the Fall Fair was just a rumor.  The
advertisements just said:


Now compare what happens in 1928.

The Big Fall Show (The Autumn Exposition) at Midge City is preceded
by a campaign of advertising which starts in the spring and never
stops till the Big Show is pulled off in October.  It is conducted
by a publicity manager and a staff of college students who have
taken a course of two semesters and a half on Fall Fair Advertising
and it reaches all the way from the Middle West till the waves of
it lap New York itself.  It is done with placards such as


But even that is rather inferior advertising.  Much better is
simply a placard


That starts the people in New York thinking (a hard thing to do),
and then later when they see in some other place a hundred miles
away, another placard


they can hardly keep away from the Fall Fair.


In the old days, at Midgeville in 1880, the main thing, in fact,
the chief idea of the Fair, was the Agricultural Exhibit.  It was
place in a long wooden shed and you didn't need to ask where it
was.  You KNEW where it was as soon as you came within a hundred
yards of it.  You didn't need to SEE it either.  You would have
known it was there in the dark.  And you didn't need to hear it.
You just somehow were quite sure that this was it.

When you went in, you saw a huge hog in a pen and a farmer looking
at the hog while the hog looked at the farmer.  This was the farmer
who had raised the hog and he had already looked at it all summer.
But at present he is one of the judges of the Show and he is
judging the hog.  This is terribly hard to do because it is the
only hog in the Show.

Next to that is a pen with a huge cow, and a farmer looking at the
cow, and as they both have blue ribbons on, you know that they have
taken the prize.

The whole Agricultural Exhibit was done that way.  But compare:--



Do they have a show of fat hogs at the Midge City Autumn Exposition
of to-day?  Well, I should rather guess not!  There is perhaps a
shed somewhere away in the back of the place with a hog or two in
it.  But that is merely to draw off the farmers and keep them away
from the Show.

The main big feature is the Beauty Show, at which the award is made
as to which of the twelve girls is to have the honor of being "MISS
MIDGE CITY," and having her photograph in the papers all the way
from Kansas City to Toronto.  You don't need to talk of fat hogs
when you look at this contest.  They are not in it with this.  And
the judge's are not farmers.  Any man capable of judging this
contest wouldn't stay on a farm a week.

Not that there was no variety at all in the Midgeville Fall Fair of
1880.  It was understood even then that the human mind needs
diversion and that the lighter shades must mingle with the graver
side of life.  No man can look at a hog all day without feeling the
need of a change.


That was why they all had a Flower Show in another shed, a smaller
shed on the other side of the grounds from the Agricultural Hall.
In this shed you could see the most beautiful sweet peas raised by
Daisy Murchison, and the most wonderful chrysanthemums grown by
Flossie Fitzgerald, the minister's daughter: and, what was better
still, Daisy and Flossie themselves looking at the flowers.  So
that wasn't so bad.

But, as a matter of fact, there was even more excitement than that
in 1880.  There were always two or three other little tents with
banners over them; on one of them was the legend


In 1880, everybody, it seems, was crazy to have a look at a fat
woman.  Now nobody cares.  Thin women are all the rage, and a fat
woman would starve to death in her tent.

But in 1880 there she was sitting on a little camp stool on a
raised dais; she weighed 375 pounds and round her stood a little
group of rural people, with their mouths open and a hush of awe
upon them much like the attitude of people in the basilica of St.
Peter's at Rome.

The fat woman didn't have to do anything or say anything; and the
people didn't say anything; they just LOOKED at her.  But even at
that the morality of the whole thing was doubted; it was generally
felt in 1880 that after a certain stage of fat a woman's place was
at home.

After you had seen the fat woman, there was still in 1880 the
Living Skeleton, and the Albino Boy, and the Man Born Without Ears,
and a few other diversions of that sort.  In 1880, the line between
horror and amusement was not carefully drawn.



But now in contrast with this the side-shows and side-lines of the
Midge City Autumn Exposition of 1928.  The side-shows have long
since eaten up the show.  In fact, nowadays they ARE the show.
People don't care any longer to see a hog stand still or a trotting
horse trot.  They come in the hope that one of the aviators will
break his neck, or that the parachute man's parachute will fail to
open and that he will be dashed to pieces on the ground.

That, of course, is what all the wild advertising is aimed at; you
see in the publicity publications, for instance:--


and you will find that one big feature of the fair will be a dive
by Señorita Marguerita Marcosa from a platform a hundred and fifty
feet high, through flames of gasoline, onto a passing airplane, and
from that to a parachute.  If they could think of anything else to
dive her through, they'd put her to it.  The thing is to come as
near to killing the Señorita as the law allows, with a half hope of
the real thing.  Hence all the fireworks, and the airplanes and
speedway stuff.

Little do the people realize that the Señorita is really Daisy
Murchison, the same girl who sold the flowers in 1880, or, if you
like it, her daughter.  But she learned calisthenics at the
Midgeville High School, and now she's doing stunts.  They only call
her Señorita because that sounds better in case she gets killed.

In any case, Daisy isn't the only one taking a risk round the Midge
City Autumn Exposition of 1928.  The air is full of aviators
leaping out of their machines, and women in mid-air hanging on to
ropes with their teeth, and parachutes flying round like shingles
on a windy day.

And the earth is as bad as the air.  On the speedway there are
motors and motorcycles whirling past at such a terrific rate that
you have a fine chance any afternoon of the Fair to see a really
terrible accident.  Add to that the Human Fly crawling up the edge
of the Midge City Pandemonium Building and killing himself (by
statistics) one day in every twenty-five, and you see that the
opportunity is excellent.

Altogether I don't know which was best, the little old fair with
the hogs and the flowers and Flossie Fitzgerald and the Fat Woman
or the Big Show of 1928 with the noise and racket and sputtering
fireworks and brain-curdling death stunts.

But I rather suspect that they are much the same thing.  Human
nature being still human nature, the people of 1880 probably got
more or less the same feeling out of it all as we do now.  But with
that I leave it to the psychoanalysts.

Extinct Monsters


Trained observers, such as the readers of this book, who notice
anything that comes under their eyes even at a distance of six
inches, cannot have failed to realize that our household animals
are doomed to extinction.  "I doubt," said an eminent social
theorist the other day, himself one of the keenest of contemporary
observers, "whether there are as many horses on Fifth Avenue as
there are motor cars.  Certainly there are none in the larger

It is a subject of equally common remark that the dog is vanishing.
Hydrophobia on the one hand and the motor truck on the other are
breaking up the long-standing compact of friendship between man and
the dog.  "I doubt very much," says a contemporary writer on social
science, "if it is possible henceforth to raise pups on Fifth

In the same vein, a brilliant writer in a magazine of last month,
in an article on The Passing of the Dog, declares that in a half
hour's walk in New York he did not pass a single dog.

Nor are the horse and the dog all.  The decreasing numbers of the
house-fly struck a first note of alarm last summer.  The bat, once
a familiar feature of the American home, is now seldom found except
in an aviary.  The moth can only be kept alive at an inordinate
cost in camphor.

In short, it requires no great effort of the imagination to see
that in a few more generations our household pets of the present
will be the extinct monsters of the past.  There will be nothing
left of them except the kind of information that will be handed out
somewhat after the following fashion:



(As viewed in the light of extracts from the current press of the
year 3000 A.D.)

NEW YORK, Jan. 1, 3000 A.D.--Visitors to the Zoological Gardens
(Extinct Animals Section) should not fail to take advantage of the
unique opportunity now offered of seeing an actual living horse,
perhaps the last specimen of its species.  This interesting
survival of a past age was found attached to what has been
deciphered as a taxicab--itself a relic of unknown purpose--in the
interior of China.  Through the energies of the directors of our
municipal museum, the animal was secured from its owners and flown
yesterday to New York.

The horse is open to the public daily from 10 A.M. until 4 P.M.,
and is attracting large crowds of sightseers.  In shape, it
resembles somewhat an earlier type of helicopter flying machine,
the legs being pivoted at the corners, though seemingly in a
position too rigid for successful flight.

Professor Plink, the famous authority on the zoological remains of
the twentieth century, is of the opinion that the horse was unable
to fly.  "It is difficult," he said, in a lecture delivered in the
monkey-house of the Zoo last evening, "to conceive that the horse's
legs could make more than three revolutions to the second."

The same authority explained that the horse was clearly distinct
from the cow and the bull, there being features of difference
easily recognizable by the expert.

It appears that the horse for many centuries was used by mankind as
an engine of locomotion.  When the animal was put into use, the
pilot seated himself midway on its back, using his heels against
its sides as a form of gear control.  Contrary to many misleading
historical references, no gasoline was put into the horse.  A speed
of three and even four miles an hour is said to have been

The last known use of the horse appears to have been in connection
with the mounted policemen who were a familiar feature of civic
life during the Age of Bandits in the earlier twentieth century.
Experience showed that a policeman on the ground offered too easy a
mark and could easily be teased or even kidnapped, whereas a
policeman on horseback was elevated into a position of relative

Old prints of the period depict for us the mounted city police in
their quaint uniforms asleep on their horses.

It is announced that the enterprising directors of our Metropolitan
Museum may shortly be able to secure for us a perfect specimen of a
cow, including the peculiar apparatus by which it produced


(From a Young People's Encyclopedia of Useful Knowledge, A.D.

The Dog (pronounced dog, or perhaps dorg; some authorities prefer
dawg):  An extinct carniverous mammalian quadruped of the late
Grammoradial Age.  It lived partly on human trousers and partly on
refuse such as beefsteak, lamp chops, and deviled kidneys.

Owing to its savageness and ferocity, the Dog was in great demand
with our ancestors.  In the days when the habit of living was in
single families in isolated houses, often separated from all other
dwellings by iron railings, the dog was of the greatest value in
keeping unsolicited visitors at a distance.  (See under Book Agent
and Canvasser; see also the article on Life Insurance.)

Of the various kinds or breeds of dogs thus maintained, we may
mention the terrier, used for biting the ankles; the hound, used
for pursuing pedestrians; the Bull Dog, for eating tramps; and the
Lap Dog, for indoor biting.  In addition to these, the Great Dane,
used by the rich for biting the poor, may be mentioned along with
the Mongrel, used by the poor for biting the rich.

From contemporary records we learn that persons who attached
themselves to a Dog developed the greatest fidelity towards it,
following it around all day, and walking great distances after it,
often through broken country.  Before the era of flying, it is said
that Dog-Walking was a familiar pastime, every Dog permitting
himself to be accompanied by one, two, or even more persons.



(From the Same Authority)

The House-Fly (not to be confused with the Bat, the Hornet, and
other household pets of the same epoch) appears to have been a
prime favorite with our ancestors.  The bright, merry ways of the
little fellow, his shiny coat, his glossy wings, and his large eyes
twinkling with merriment, endeared him to the household.  No
household, in fact, was complete, at least in the bright season of
summer without its complement of the cheery little fellows, buzzing
against the window-panes, or sitting floating on the milk.

Fly-raising usually began in the spring.  The careful housewife set
out large cans filled with what was called at that epoch Garbage
(see under Garbage in the Twentieth Century; see also under Salad,
Mixed Grill, and Hash) placed in sunny corners and liberally coated
with fly-eggs, collected by sweeping up the accumulated dust in the
corners and angles of the room.  A trained housekeeper thus raised
anywhere from one to ten thousand flies in a season.

As recently as one hundred years ago, the fly needed, it would
seem, but little sleep, and during the night would sit beside his
master's bed, ready to call him at the first light of dawn by a
playful buzzing in his ear.  Surly indeed was the sluggard who
could resist the little fellow's winsome invitation to come out and
chase him on the lawn.

The care and raising of the Fly occupied a large part of the time
of the women-folk of our ancestors.  A Fly is reported to have been
seen alive, sitting on one of the piles of a pier in the Hudson
River, looking disconsolately at the water.  Since that time the
Fly is only found in the museum.  There is a good Fly in the famous
Morgan collection and there are two in the British Museum.

The Passing of the Back Yard


We have just found such a charming apartment, said my young friend
Mrs. Fanlight.  "John and I are perfectly fascinated with it.  It's

"Have you?  Are you?  Is it?" I answered.

"It has simply everything," the young lady went on, "heated and
lighted and all that, of course, and then an ice cupboard run by
steam or something so that we don't have to buy any ice."

"It sounds delightful," I said.

"Isn't it?  And there's a patent kind of thing that washes the
dishes, and an ironing board that falls down out of the wall, a
place where the garbage burns itself up--in fact, there is
absolutely everything."

"And how," I asked, "do you get from it to the Back Yard?"

"The Back Yard?"

"Yes, how do you manage?  Do you go down steps, or in an elevator
or what, to get to it?"

"Why, there isn't any Back Yard.  What on earth would we want that

"But what about a rain-water barrel," I persisted, "haven't you got

"Why, of course not."

"But suppose you wanted to get some soft water to wash in--what do
you do about it?  And do you mean to say you have no ash heap?  And
where do you hang the clothes?  How do you throw things away?"

"I think the janitor attends to all that.  And of course the
clothes are dried in the patent way by squirting water over them."

"And where do the children play?"

"The children," said Mrs. Fanlight, "why, there's a community
playroom in the apartment with mechanical rocking horses and with
an imitation grass plot made of rubber.  It's perfectly wonderful."

"I see," I said, "and you don't need a Back Yard any more."

"We never thought about it," she said.

And with that I left her, very sorrowful.  For I realized that with
the advance of the rapid age in which we live, another great social
revolution is being noiselessly effected--the passing of the Back


Others have deplored the passing of this and of that which marks
the transformation of our time.  Tears have been shed over the
passing of the stage coach, and the sailing ship, the passing of
the West, and the Passing of the Third Floor Back.

Let it be for me to drop a tear over the ashes--no, INTO the ashes--
of the Back Yard.  With the advent of the Up-to-Date Apartment
Castle, the Boulevard Movement, and the new cleanliness, this
beautiful little area of secluded life is vanishing from our

Let me, as a matter of useful historical record, set down what a
Back Yard used to be like; or rather, perhaps it will serve the
purpose better if I describe it as it will no doubt be written up
in the Social Encyclopedias of a Hundred Years Hence, thus:

Back Yard (Old Eng.:  Bugge Yearde.  French, Yarde de Derrière.
Ital. Yardo di Bacco).  This name was given to an irregular space
in the form of a rectangular parallelogram that was marked out
behind the houses of the nineteenth century.  The back yard was
surrounded by a board fence intended for cats to sit on.

Along the base of the fence of a Back Yard extended a flower bed in
which all the flowers had died and on which had fallen loose
stones, half bricks, and other mineral refuse.  The growth of
burdocks among these still helped to preserve the name "flower bed"
in domestic use.  It is said that in the spring time of the year
the owners of the Back Yards were often seen digging furiously
among the burdock roots with a view to reviving the "flower bed."

It was a frequent practice at such times to insert dahlia roots,
gladiolus bulbs, and tulips.  The digging, however, was all over by
the end of May and nothing but the burdocks ever came up.

A Back Yard usually contained one tree, from which most of the
larger branches had been sawed off square and which was said to be
an apple tree.  The apple tree was used for climbing, for clothes
lines, for cat hunting, etc., etc.  In the leafiest time of the
year, by placing a broken chair at a suitable astronomical angle so
as to allow the sun's rays to be partially intercepted, a distinct
sensation of shade was obtainable.

The rain-barrel (first introduced by the Romans) and the ash-can
(introduced by Charlemagne) were familiar features of the Back

The principal inhabitants of the Back Yard were children, of whom
there were still a great many in the large cities in the nineteenth
century.  Indeed, the Anti-Child Law of the Apartment House Epoch
is thought to have greatly assisted in the disappearance of city

The Back Yard was used by the children as a general playground, as
a football field, as a golf course, as a hockey rink, and as a
bowling alley.  By an unwritten law of the period, the Rain-Barrel,
the Ash-Heap, and the Apple Tree were regarded as the perquisites
of children.  By a pretty custom also, the children were permitted
to smear their faces with the coal dust of the Ash-Heap, and to
claim as treasure trove any article found in the Back Yard.  The
children were assisted in the Back Yard by a Dog (see article Dog),
an animal now extinct.

The passing of the Back Yard is said to have brought a peculiar
loneliness to the surviving city children.  There is even a legend,
sometimes whispered, that the souls of the little children who once
played in the Lost Back Yard still haunt the sky-scraping
apartments that have replaced their vanished playground.  But this
is probably not true.  Their souls are nearer to the sky than that.


The Literary Sensations of 1929


Now that the year 1928 is upon us--so far upon us--it is time for
publishing houses to make their book announcements for 1929.  As a
result of inquiries made to a number of leading firms, therefore, I
am able to make known to readers of this book that the literary
output of the year now opening--in the publishing calendar--is
likely to exceed in brilliance anything accomplished in the past.

The publishers themselves, usually so reticent about the merit of
their own books, admit that they never saw a brighter prospect.  In
nearly every department of literature, from children's books down
to fundamentalism, the year promises extraordinary sensations.

For example, in the realm of children's literature itself a special
feature will be the addition of one more notable book to those
written by mere children but read with delight by young and old.
This little volume, entitled "Willie Nut: His Book," will take its
place at once not only in child literature, but in the literature
of nuts.  It is the work of one who is not merely a child, but who
is, to all intents and purposes, a complete imbecile.

Willie Nut was discovered last year.  In fact, I found him.  The
story of my discovery of Willie is quite simple, and may be related
in a few words.  I came across him in the course of an afternoon
walk in the country.  The child, whose home is of the humblest, was
cutting wood in the yard with a bucksaw.  Something in the
extraordinary simplicity of the boy's big face and the length of
his ears attracted my attention.  "Surely," I said, half aloud to
myself, "this boy must have written a book.  He has all the marks
of it."

At the word "book," I saw a big tear rise in the boys' eye.  "Oh,
sir!" he said, "do you think you could possibly get a New York firm
to publish it?"  Then he added modestly as his head drooped over
the saw, "I wrote it only for myself, sir, but if there is any
money in publishing it, count me in."

In a few hours I was speeding to New York with the bulky MS.
(Willie wrote on wall paper) in my valise.  The first publisher to
whom I showed it declared it at once (without reading it) to be the
most remarkable story of the century.

I must not anticipate the success of the book by quoting from it
here.  Suffice it to say that it contains simply the thoughts of a
child, such as a child would think when thinking in its own
childlike way.  To that extent the book reproduces merely the work
of the other child prodigies of 1927 and the years preceding.  But
the interesting point of difference is that Willie Nut is half-
witted.  The others were not even that.

This point is clearly established by the following sworn
certificate which accompanies Willie's work.  It is from his

Certificate from Willie's Pastor

I cheerfully certify that so far as I have observed him, Willie Nut
has always appeared to me to be three-quarters deficient.  I am
delighted to learn that it has transpired that he possesses a
literary genius of the highest order.

(Signed)  (Rev.) Ebeneza Ebron.

Post Script.  I think that seven-eights would be a more exact


Closely connected with this class of literature are the beautifully
illustrated fairy-tales, which constitute a unique feature among
the books of to-day.  The only objection to these in the past has
been that in the course of centuries the material has worn a little
thin and the Old-World setting no longer appeals to the children of
the present.  In spite of the beautiful illustrations, they turn
away from such ancient stories as The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood
and Beauty and the Beast in search of a more modern environment.

To meet this difficulty, a leading New York house (who specially
request me not to name them) will bring out an up-to-date volume of
revised stories under the title of


The titles of the collection speak for themselves.  Beauty and the
Boost is a delightful story, modeled on an old favorite.  A rich
merchant of Oneonta, N.Y., sets out in his motor car on a journey
to New York.  His three daughters each ask for a present.  The
first one wishes a diamond sunburst, the second a fur coat, but the
youngest and most beautiful asks her father merely to secure her a
theatrical position on the stage.  The merchant easily buys the
diamond sunburst and the coat, but is in deep perplexity how to
obtain the theatrical position.  Pondering over this in his car, in
a fit of abstraction he runs over a man on Fifth Avenue and is put
in jail for damaging the sidewalk.  His daughter, on hearing this,
rushes to his side.  In the police court, she sees the man whom he
ran over, that is, over whom he ran.  The latter falls in love with
her and dismisses his complaint.  In gratitude she accepts his hand
and he turns out to be a theatrical producer.


Of equal merit, perhaps, is Jack the Joint-Killer.  It appears that
Jack, after having killed the Welsh giant with three heads, was
engaged to enforce the Volstead Act.  In doing this, he got
acquainted with practically all the Joints in New York.

I leave to the reader's own perusal The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood
Alcohol, The Old Woman who lived in the Soo (on the Canadian side
and unable to bring her children into the United States); Jack and
the Bean Head, and many other charming old stories now at last
presented in a readable form.


Another welcome feature will be a further series of English
biographies and memoirs, throwing into a stronger light than ever
the Victorian Period.  The tremendous success of the "Confidential
Memoirs" of Lady C. and Mrs. A. and the "Diary" of Lord C. has
encouraged other leaders of Society to follow in their tracks.  The
brilliant and vivacious Lady X (aged 70: said to be the most
beautiful woman in England) will be first in the field.  Her
autobiography will contain the most astounding revelations.  It
appears that not only was Disraeli (of whose perfervid nature it
might be expected) wildly in love with her, but also Mr. Gladstone
and John Bright.  Gladstone, it seems, was once indiscreet enough
to write to her:  "Dear Little Goo-Goo:  Meet me tonight at half
after midnight at the door of the House of Commons and come and eat
supper at the Y.W.C.A. cafeteria.  I will be wearing a pair of gray
trousers with a wide check.  A thousand kisses."

Even more interesting is the political side of Lady X's memoirs.
The reader simply gasps for breath at the revelations that are made
of the inner workings of English political life.  It appears that
the whole of Gladstone's Egyptian policy was really based on
conversation with Lady X across a tennis set.  Lord Salisbury was
sent to the Congress of Berlin because the Queen thought he looked
better in a top hat than any other available person.  Lord Randolph
Churchill always carried peanuts in his pockets.  Nor is the book,
brilliant and witty as is every page of it, a work lacking in sound
and serious thought.  "It seems to me," writes Lady X, "that
America has a great future before it," and again, "I fear that
there is an essential difference between the Orientals and

But lack of space compels me to leave over for another time the
further announcements of The Literary Sensations of the coming

Children's Poetry Revised


It has occurred to me that many of the beautiful old poems on which
the present and preceding generations were brought up are in danger
of passing into oblivion.  The circumstances of this hurried, rapid
age, filled with movement and crowded with mechanical devices, are
rendering the older poetry quite unintelligible to the children of

For example, when "young Lochinvar had come out of the West"--we
need to know at the start that this doesn't mean the Middle West.
We learn also that he came on a "steed."  What is a "steed"?  Few
children of to-day realize that the huge, clumsy animals that they
see hauling the garbage wagons are "steeds."  They would much more
likely think that if young Lochinvar had "a Steed," it meant
something the same as if he had a Chrysler or a Ford; in other
words, he had a this year's Steed.

Similarly when the poem says, "He stayed not for brake and he
stopped not for stone"--the meaning is taken to be that he left in
such a hurry that he didn't go into the garage and get his brakes
tightened up.

Or let us say that "The Boy Stood on the Burning Deck."  Who cares?
Certainly not a generation that thinks nothing of reading in its
paper, "Boy Falls in Burning Aeroplane."

It seems reasonable, therefore, that it the older poetry, the
heritage of our race, is to remain, someone has got to revise it.
I wish I could offer to do it myself.  I fear that I can lay so
little claim to being a professional poet that I must leave the
task to more competent hands.  But I might perhaps indicate by a
few samples the ways in which the necessary changes might be made.

Sometimes a mere alteration of the title would do a lot.  Thus the
Charge of the Light Brigade might be, the Light Brigade C.O.D. or
perhaps The Cash and Carry of the Light Brigade.  Then there is
that melodious masterpiece of Edgar Allan Poe, which should read
henceforth "Quoth the Radio, Nevermore."

But in other cases the poem has got to be overhauled throughout.
There is something in the environment it represents that does not
correspond to the life that the children see to-day.  I'll give an
example.  There was, when I was young, a poem that everybody knew
and loved, that ran:--

     I remember, I remember
     The house where I was born
     And the little window where the sun
     Came peeping in at morn.

     Etc., etc., etc. . . .


I needn't quote the rest of it.  The essential thought is in the
lines above.  But alas!  The poem is dropping out; it no longer
fits.  Here, however, is a revised version that may keep it going
for years.

     I wish I could remember
     The house where I was born
     And the little window where perhaps
     The sun peeped in at morn.

     But father can't remember
     And mother can't recall
     Where they lived in that December--
     If it was a house at all.
     It may have been a boarding-house
     Or family hotel,
     A flat or else a tenement.
     It's very hard to tell.

     There is only one thing certain from my questioning as yet,
     Wherever I was born, it was a matter of regret.


That, I think, reproduces more or less the spirit of the age.  If
some one would just put it into really good up-to-date poetry--
without any rhyme in it, and with no marks of feet in it, and
without putting it into lines--it might go into any present-day

But let me, in my own halting and imperfect way, try another one.
There used to be--either for recitation or for singing--a very
pathetic poem about a little girl begging her father to "come
home."  The opening stanza ran:--

     Father, dear father, come home with me now;
     The clock in the steeple strikes one.
     You promised, dear father, that you would come home
     As soon as your day's work was done.

The scene, of course, was laid on the other side of the Eighteenth
Amendment.  The picture that went with the song showed, from the
outside, a little tavern, or saloon, with curtained windows and a
warm red light behind them.  Out in the snow was the girl, singing.
And father was in behind the red curtains.  And he wouldn't come
out!  That was the plot.  Father's idea was that he would stay
right where he was--that it had Home beaten four ways.

Now all of that is changed.  The little lighted tavern is gone.
Father stays home, and the children of to-day have got to have the
poem recast, so as to keep as much of the pathos as may be, but
with the scene reversed.  Here it is, incomplete, perhaps, but


     Oh, father, dear father, why won't you go out?
     Why sit here and spoil all the fun?
     We took it for granted you'd beat it down town
     As soon as your dinner was done.

     With you in the parlor, the boys are so glum,
     No games and no laughter about.
     Oh, father, you put the whole house on the bum,
     Dear father, please, father, go out.


In some cases our old once favorite poems are based on the
existence of institutions that are passing away and that are
scarcely known to the children of to-day.  A case in point is
Longfellow's Village Blacksmith.  In this the poet tells us that
under the spreading chestnut tree the village smithy stands and
adds that the children love to look in at the door and catch the
sparks by the hatful.

All this, I fear, must be altered from top to bottom.  There is no
smithy now, and no horses to be shod and no sparks, and many
children don't ever wear hats.  Even the old-fashioned singsong
rhyme gets tiresome to a modern ear.  The whole poem must be recast
to suit the times.  I should propose putting it into what is called
free verse, something as follows:

                     THE MAIN STREET GARAGE
                            FREE AIR

     On the corner of the main street stands the principal garage.
     The garage man is a man of singular muscular development.
     Children coming home from school like to watch him punch the
     On Sunday he goes to church, whenever any of the cars of the
       congregation break down.
     In this way he not only earns a night's repose, but even now
       and then he can take a trip to New York, and go without
       repose for a whole night.


And with this I leave the topic for other pens and the idea for
other minds.  I am quite sure that if some one in one of the
English departments of the colleges would take up this work, there
might be a lot in it.

Illustrations I Can Do Without


Have you ever noticed, my dear reader--but of course you have; you
notice everything--how illustrations in the picture magazines
always run to certain types?  Somebody starts a particular line of
picture and somebody else copies it, and so it goes on till it
becomes a sort of type picture.  Then the subscribers begin to look
for it regularly and the editor feels that he must have it.

Here is a case in point, taken from the English illustrated
weeklies, the high-class press that is put together "by gentlemen
for gentlemen."

Every week in every paper of this class you will see a photograph
of a lady in a tweed suit sitting on a camp-stool, and beside her a
gentleman in a tweed suit standing up and leaning on a stick.
There are probably a lot of dogs around and the picture carries
some such legend as the following:

With the Yardsborough Beagles: Lady Vera de Verest and Mr. Robinson

Why it is always these two, I don't know.  You would think that
Lord Vere de Verest ought to get in sometimes; and even Mrs.
Robinson might have a look-in.  But apparently not.  Wherever they
are, it is always Lady Vera de Verest and Mr. Robinson.  That
combination seems to have a sort of "class" to it.

And they always turn up in different places, according to the
season, and the place always has a touch of the incomprehensible
about it.  For example, you see them in the same attitude with
three or four dead partridges, or crows, lying in front of them and
the legend:

With the Guns at Dumfoolish Castle: Lady Vera de Verest and Mr.

I've seen them depicted not only with the Beagles at Yardborough
and with the guns at Dumfoolish, but with the pigeon-traps at Monte
Carlo and with the Spitz in Spitzbergen.

I imagine that they must write letters such as:

My dear Lady Vera de Verest:

What do you say to a run over to Spain so as to get photographed
with me and the bulls of Madrid?  If you are on, bring your camp-
stool and meet me there.


Or else, something of this sort:

Dear Mr. Robinson:

What do you say to our being photographed "with the snakes at
Darjeeling?"  If we go out to India, we could arrange our schedules
to meet and be photographed on the way at least three times--"with
the looters on the Riviera" and "with the plagues of Egypt."  So we
should not miss a single week.  Do come.



I suppose that here too, as in all such cases, there is the usual
tragic background of those left behind.  I can imagine Lord Vere de
Verest, the dignified gentleman whose home in thus made a mockery,
walking across from De Vere Castle to the cottage where Mrs.
Robinson lives, an open letter in his hand.

"Where are they now?" she queries gently, as he holds out the
letter with a sob.

"With the snakes in Darjeeling," he answers, as kindly as he can.

"And where do they appear next?" she murmurs, a note of pain in her
voice in spite of herself.

"They are to be with the Hoodoos of Madagascar," he groans.

"Edward," she says, addressing him by his Christian name for the
first time in fifty years and laying her hand on his coat sleeve,
"don't you think, dear, that WE might do a little of this kind of
thing ourselves?  If the editors of the Stretch, and the Prattler,
and the Outstander want pictures of this sort, let us see what we
can do.  There is a kind of little farmyard behind the cottage and
I have a camera.  Come out with me."

And if the week after that the illustrated press carried a picture
entitled "Lord Vere de Verest and Mrs. Robinson looking at a
pigsty," it would be at least as interesting as The Beagles and The
Yaks and it might stop a lot of trouble.


Another form of magazine illustration that I can do without, or
without which I can do, is the face, head, and shoulders of a man
done in rather smudgy ink.  It has written under it, "Colonel
Robinson, the New Governor of the Virgin Islands," or "Pilsudski,
Dictator of Poland," or perhaps "Executed last week at Sing Sing."
It doesn't matter what is under it; it really is always the same

Hitherto I used to wonder how this picture got into the magazines.
Just by chance a few days ago in visiting the staff of a
periodical, I found the explanation.  I happened in the corridor of
the building to get into conversation with the very man from whose
face all the photographs are taken.

"You are quite right," he said to me; "they are all the same
picture.  It saves such a lot of time and trouble.  I am just going
out now to get photographed as the 'New Mikado of Japan' and then
the same picture will appear on another page as 'Lloyd George,
Reappointed Leader of the British Liberals,' and on the back as
'Mrs. Annie Besant, the Venerable Theosophist.'"

"Is it possible?" I said.

"Quite so.  And by the way, how did you like that one of me last
week called 'The New Mayor of Miami.'  I thought it was a peach.
And there was a dandy of me called 'Yuan Chung Chow, Leader of the
Cantonese Rebels,' and the same picture called 'Admiral Ferguson,
Who Will Fight Yuan Chung Chow--'"

"But stop," I said, "doesn't the public ever--"

"Nonsense!" said the man.  "Why, the other day there were two
pictures of me side by side--they just looked really the same.  One
was called 'The Oldest Father-in-Law in Europe, Jean Jacques
Dubois,' and the other (used to illustrate an article on hold-ups)
was labeled 'Youngest Crook That Ever Stole a Hundred Thousand.'
People looked at the magazine and said what a kind face the old
father-in-law had, and they looked on the other page and said that
you could see it was a crook.

"Listen," he continued, "you take this week's magazine, and cover
up the names and see if you distinguish which is the one called
'Venerable Scientist Speaks' and the one called 'Will Serve Ten
Years.'  Try to distinguish 'Lady Chatelaine Entertains the Poor'
from 'Arctic Explorer Returns Home'; try to separate out 'Queen
Mary Welcomes the Duke of York' from 'Boisterous Scene in a
Viennese Beer Garden.'  You can't.  All the pictures in the
magazine," he went on with an excitement that was almost violent,
"are just me.  I'm Queen Mary, I'm Yuan Chung Chow, I'm--"

And just at that moment a man dressed in a sort of uniform stepped
up to us in the corridor and said:

"Excuse me, sir.  I had lost track of this gentleman.  He's under
my charge.  I hope he's not been disturbing you."

The man himself as he was led away was still saying, "I'm Queen
Mary, I'm Thomas Edison, I'm Royal Birthday, I'm Admiral Ferguson."

Our Summer Pets




The house fly (fuscus domesticus) is at his very best during the
months of August and September.  It is then that his coat is at its
glossiest and that his beautiful back plate, or caparace, shines
with its highest luster.  His lovely eyes also take on at this
season (the love season of the fly) their deepest color, while his
soft vibrant note is tuned to the voice of nature itself.

At this time of year the fly-collector, or even the amateur, should
have no difficulty in finding one or more perfect specimens of this
magnificent multiped.

"Alone among the odiferous quadrumana or cephalopods," writes an
eminent buggist, "the fly seems capable of thriving wherever man
can live and takes on with ease the environment of our civilization."

Indeed, it appears that the house fly is found all over North
America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa, and the nature
student needs therefore no further apparatus for his study than to
buy a house.  A suitable house having been selected, he may put in
one, two, or more flies with entire certainty of a good result.

Flies are not difficult to rear and feed and with a little care
they will thrive well and even increase.  A pan of milk set out
overnight, or the remains of a tin of salmon set on a plate with a
little marmalade, is as much as any fly asks or needs when in good

It is perhaps not generally known that the fly can be tamed.
"During the past summer," writes Mr. Summernut, one of the keenest
of our nature students, "I succeeded, after several efforts, in
taming a fly.

"When we became better acquainted he would light on the table
beside me and nibble at the crumbs near my plate.  Once while
venturing too near the rim of my tumbler he fell into the milk.  At
other times he would actually alight on my shoulder and rub his
cheek against mine.

"My house fly was at his friendliest during the drowsy hour of the
morning just before the time came for my getting out of bed.  One
heard a gentle buzzing and there was the merry little fellow
peeping over the edge of the coverlet, his big eyes sparkling with
fun.  He seemed to say 'Peek-a-boo--time to get up!'  No use to
wave him away.

"Back he came again with the same friendly buzz as if inviting me
to hop out of bed and take a run on the lawn.  The only thing to do
was to take a towel with a knotted end and swat him over the head
with it.  This would deter the little fellow and I would then see
him fly across to the window pane and sit rubbing his head with his
hind leg as if discouraged."



The potato bug (buggo Colorado) does best in a rich, sandy soil.
It can be brought to its greatest natural perfection by planting
within its easy reach a crop of potatoes either in rows or hills.

"It was my good fortune last summer," says Professor Allgone, the
famous author of "Parishes and Paris Green," "to come into
possession of a splendid pair of potato bugs, male and female.

"Both bugs were set out in the garden in a spot suitably chosen
near a potato plant.

"To my great delight on visiting the garden on the third day, I
found that the two young housekeepers had laid a rich nestful of
eggs carefully set on the under side of a potato leaf.  The joy of
the parents reached its maximum when a few days later the eggs
hatched into a group of tiny little buglets.

"Indeed, there is no telling to what height the ecstasy of the
whole family might have gone had they not accidentally stumbled on
some Paris Green carelessly left within their reach."



With the exception of the house fly, the mosquito is perhaps the
most widely disseminated of our domesticated insects.  He is to be
found almost anywhere on verandas, on upper and lower balconies, on
front and back steps; but he is seen at his best when tucked away
behind the little white bed curtains that are specially provided
for him.

It is here that he can most successfully be brought to a hand-to-
hand conflict, which is his delight.

A mosquito, as seen under a microscope, is, to the naturalist, an
object of equal delight.  His four pair of eyes with double
refracting lenses from which the light glitters in all directions
are equaled only by the great sweep of his gossamer wings and the
beautiful articulation of his sixteen legs.

Most striking of all is his powerful bill, armed on each side with
teeth, like a double crosscut saw, with which he bores through the
cranium of his enemy.  The mosquito knows no half measures.  He is
out for blood.  Hence comes his high personal courage which enables
him to attack single-handed and unsupported an opponent of twenty
thousand times his own weight.

Odds are nothing to him.  He rushes into battle singing as he goes,
selects the stoutest of his enemies, and seizes him in a death grip
in the fattest part of his neck.  The British bull-dog and the
American eagle are cowards beside the mosquito.

Protection against the assaults of the mosquito has always
presented a serious problem to the settlers and campers in our
summer wildernesses.  But by the trained naturalist, or nature
lover, the difficulty is easily overcome.

The naturalist before setting out on his study smears himself with
ham fat and oil of citronella, over which he spreads a thin layer
of beeswax and asafetida.  He then sprays his clothes with coal oil
and drapes himself from the head down in a long white net.  Thus
prepared the naturalist need fear nothing outside of Bengal.

It is a pity to think that the mosquito, like the house fly, is
threatened with extinction.  There are said to be only a few
billion million left.  Even these are going--falling victims to
their own high courage in their fierce assaults against our
civilization like the Crusaders dashing against the Saracens.

But no doubt the efforts of the new Mosquito Preservation Society,
one of the latest of our animal philanthropy efforts, will induce
the government to step in before it becomes too late.  A suitable
reservation of land as a Mosquito Park may preserve for our
descendants a few thousand million specimens of what was once the
dominant animal of North America.



The skunk, who is a high favorite, very high, with the nature
lover, is a short cylindrical animal with a leg at each corner.

The skunk is an object of great beauty.  Its magnificent fur coat,
dark black with two lengthwise stripes of white, is perhaps
unexcelled among the fur-bearing or odoriferous animals.  Why,
then, in spite of the beauty of the skunk, do we not like him?  We
all know, but we don't say.

The skunk is, by nature, a quiet, peace-loving, tame, and
affectionate animal.  He asks nothing more than to be near us.  He
does not bite, he cannot scratch, he makes no noise and only asks
to be friends and to forget the past.

Why, then, do we not take him into our friendship?

The nature student who wishes to get into close contact with a
skunk, and to see him at short range (his range is about nine feet
and a half), must visit him in his own fastnesses in the northern

"I had the good luck last summer," writes Mr. Sleepout, the
distinguished nature student who spent seven weeks in the
Adirondacks with no other food than a combination suit and a bow
and arrow, "to meet a skunk face to face.  He was a splendid fellow
easily eighteen inches long, with a beautifully arching back and
sweep of tail.  I had full time to admire the dainty way in which
his ears joined his head and his head ran into his neck and his
neck ended in his body.

"Crawling cautiously towards him I was almost within touching
distance when the beautiful creature elevated itself on its
glorious hind legs, sniffed the air about me with its exquisite
snout, and then beat it into the deep woods."

The Old Men's Page


I observe that nowadays far too much of the space in the newspapers
is given up to children and young people.  Open almost any paper,
published in any British or American city, and you may find a
children's page and a girls' page and a women's page--special
columns for tiny tots, poetry by high-school girls, notes for boy
scouts, fashion notes for young women, and radio hints for young
men.  This thing is going too far--unless the old men get a chance.

What the newspapers need now is a special page for old men.  I am
certain that it would make an enormous hit at once.

Let me try to put together a few samples of what ought to go on
such a page.  My talented readers can carry it on for themselves.



A general field meeting of the (newly established) Old Men Scouts
will be held next Saturday.  The scouts will assemble at the edge
of the pine woods about seven miles out of town.  Every scout will
tell his chauffeur to have the car ready for an early start, not
later than ten-thirty.  The scout will see that the chauffeur
brings a full kit of cooking utensils and supplies.  A good
chauffeur can easily carry 150 pounds and the scout will see that
he does it.

Each scout is to have a heavy greatcoat and a thick rug and folding
camp-chair strapped together in a bundle and will see to it
personally that these are loaded on the chauffeur.

Each scout, in advancing into the woods, will carry his own walking
stick and will smoke his own cigar.

In passing through the woods, the scout is expected to recognize
any trees that he knows, such as pine trees, lilac trees, rubber
trees, and so forth.  If in any doubt of the nature or species of a
tree, the scout may tell the chauffeur to climb it and see what it

The scouts will also recognize and remark any species or genera of
birds that are sitting on the path which are familiar to them, such
as tame canaries, parrots, partridges, cooked snipe, and spring

Having arrived at an open glade, the scouts will sit about on their
camp-chairs, avoiding the damp, while the chauffeurs kindle a fire
and prepare lunch.  During this time the Scout Master, and other
scouts in order of seniority, may relate stories of woodcraft, or,
if they can't think of any stories of woodcraft, they may tell any
other kind that they know.

As exercise before lunch, the scouts may open the soda water

After lunch, each scout will place his rug and cushion under a
suitable tree and smoke a cigar while listening in silence for any
especial calls and wood notes of birds, bees, and insects, such as
the cicada, the rickshaw, the gin-ricki, and others that he has
learned to know.  Should he see any insect whose call is not
familiar to him, he should crawl after it and listen to it, or, if
he prefers, tell his chauffeur to follow it up.

At 5 P.M., the scouts should reload the chauffeurs and themselves,
and, when all are well loaded, drive to any country club for more
stories of woodcraft.


EVERY OLD MAN--being really just a boy on a disguised form--is
naturally interested in how to make things.  One column in the old
men's page, therefore, ought to contain something in the way of


How to Make a Rustic Table.--Get hold of any hard-working rustic
and tell him to make a table.

How to Make a Camera Stand.--Put it right on the table.  It will

How to Tell the Time by the Sun.--First look at your watch and see
what time it is.  Then step out into the sunlight with your face
towards the sun and hold the watch so that the hour hand points
directly at the sun.  This will be the time.

How to Make a Book-Case.--Call up any wood factory on the telephone
and tell them to cut you some plain boards, suitable for making a
book-case.  Ask them next where you can get nails.  Then send your
chauffeur to bring the boards and nails.  Then advertise for a

To stain your table, when it is complete, a good method is to upset
soda water on it.


No column of the sort which I am here proposing would be complete
unless it contained some sort of correspondence.  And here the
topic that is opportune and welcome to the old, as well as the
young, is the eternal subject of love.  But it must be treated in a
way to suit it to those whose hearts have passed the first mad
impulses of unrestrained youth.


Mr. Elder, Bachelor's Court,

Lone Street:

I can quite understand your dilemma in regard to your cook.  It is
one that many a bachelor has had to face and to think out for
himself, and I am sure that you will face it bravely and clearly.

You say that you do not know whether your cook loves you or not,
and I gather that you do not give a hoot either way.  But the point
is that she has an excellent offer to be cook in an Old Man's Home
and you are likely to lose her.  Your problem is whether to let her
go and try to get another, or to marry her, or to move into the
Home where she is going to cook.


Mr. Oldspark, Evergreen Alley,

Blossom Street:

It is very difficult indeed to advise you, especially as you are at
an age (you tell me you are only 61) when your heart is apt to run
away with you.  You say that three young girls each want to marry
you.  You have been letting one of them drive you out in her car
and she has a certain right to think you have given her

On the other hand, one of the others has taken you to the matinée.
In the case of the third, though you do not know her so well, you
were told by some one at the golf club that she had said that you
were "a perfect darling."

You say that you are very fond of all three, but that you cannot
tell whether what you feel is really love.  It may be indigestion.


Mr. O. O. Overslow, Linger Lodge:

Your case is one in which it is difficult for an outsider to give
advice.  You say that you have been paying attention to a lady, of
about your own age, for a little over thirty years.  You have taken
her to an evening church service each third Sunday for some years
back, and you have, for nearly ten years now, sent her an Easter
card and an April fool card.  Her father, who is ninety-six, is
distinctly favorable to your suit, but as he has lost most of his
faculties, he may not know one suit from another.

You rightly feel that you ought to be cautious and not act hastily.
You have fifteen thousand a year of your own, but you hate to part
with any of it.

Your problem is, should you propose to her, or wait a little?  My
advice is by all means wait--keep on waiting--wait till her father
is dead, and her mother is dead, and you are half dead--and then
propose to her and wonder why you have spent your life waiting.

Don't you remember--look back over thirty years and try to
remember--that evening long ago when you stood with her on the
bridge over the little river in the dusk of a summer evening, and
so nearly, oh, so nearly, proposed to her?  But you waited.  You
had only a thousand dollars a year then, so you waited.

And don't you remember five years later on, that winter evening by
the fireside when you were left alone with her for ten minutes, and
again the words almost came to your lips.  But you had only three
thousand a year then, and you waited.

Oh, yes, my dear old friend, by all means keep on waiting.  It is
all that you are fit for.


J.J.X.--No, we don't lend money to old men through this column.

A Guide to the Underworld


I am given to understand--from the best and latest fiction and from
the movies--that there is a place called the Underworld.  By this I
don't mean Hell; we know all about that, and all anxiety in regard
to it has long since been removed except in the schools of
Tennessee.  No one outside of these schools, we understand, goes
there now.

But the Underworld is quite different.  Without it, our up-to-date
fiction couldn't last a day.  Just where it is or how you get to
it, I don't know.  But it is supposed to be filled with Apaches and
Sleuths and Vampires and Master Criminals whose brains are so vast
that they ramify over two continents.

Many people feel that if they could ever find this Underworld, they
would leave home and never come back.

So let me set down here for persons interested a brief directory of
the people of the Underworld put for convenience in the form of
questions and answers.  Any reader may test with these the extent
of his knowledge of up-to-date fiction.


Who is the most ordinary and frequent character found in stories of
the Underworld?

A person called an Apache.

Right.  What is he like?

Young, very pale, dressed with a black silk shirt around his
abdomen, and smoking cigarettes at ten cents a package for fifteen
hours a day.

Correct.  What effect has this on his nervous system?

It works him up into a terrible state of irritability.

With what result?

This--that he would stick a knife into you in the dark if he had an

Is there really anything terrible in this?

Nothing whatever.  Of course an Apache would put a knife into you
in the dark if he had a real chance.  But then so would I.  This
distinction between people who would put knives into you and people
who wouldn't is quite false and misleading.  Most people would put
knives into most people.

Personally, I have the strongest inclination in the world to put a
knife into whole classes of people: actors, story tellers, ugly
women who talk about themselves, plumbers, public lecturers--quite
a long list of them.

All quite true, and now tell me what is an Apache really like?

If one could see the Apache as he really is, he would turn out to
be nothing more than a silly young simp who is, let us say, a
plumber's assistant by day, but can't stay home at night.

Exactly.  And now tell me who is the principal female character in
the Underworld?


She is called, colloquially, the Queena Gehenna.

Tell me about her.

In every well regulated Underworld, there is always a lady
designated by some such title as the Queena Gehanna.  She is
supposed to be the last word in vampires.  Her beauty is supposed
to be so alluring that she casts a spell for three or four blocks
around.  She would eat a man as quick as look at him.

Quite so.  And does she really exist?

Oh, no.  The Queena Gehenna is as much a myth as all the other
characters of the Underworld.  Her real name is Georgie Simpson,
and she works as a cashier in a cafeteria and supports her mother.
Georgie wouldn't really eat a man at all, and you ought to see the
nice letters she writes to her cousin Joe in Keokuk, Iowa.

As a matter of fact, you see plenty of Queens of Gehenna all over
the place.  But they are not really dangerous--not when you know
them.  It is only when they are put into fiction that they look
like that.

Absolutely right.  And now tell me--are there any other women in
the Underworld?

Lots of them--they are called Women of the Street, Women of the
Pavement, Women of the Basement, Women of the Subway, Women of the
Underground Railway; in short, women who inhabit any place more
than ten feet below the level of the soil.

True.  And what do these women turn into when they get older?

Each of them turns into what is called an Old Crone--the name given
in the Underworld to any woman of sixty.  Old Crones are supposed
to be found, like mushrooms, in any dark cellar or underground

What do they live on?

They live on gin.  They would eat, but they have no teeth, or at
best only one.  An Old Crone calls everybody "dearie," but she
would sell a human life, so it is always explained, for a drop of
brandy, one drop.  For a bottleful, she would sell a whole village.
But after all, so would most of us.  That's nothing.

Is there any way to reach the heart of an Old Crone?

Yes.  She seems scarcely human, but if you remind her of her Lost
Daughter, she breaks down and tears of gin run from her eyes.  She
will then betray the entire Underworld.

Are there really any such persons as Old Crones?

No.  The Old Crone, like all the rest of the people of the
Underworld, is just a myth.  Fetch her up into the sunlight, dress
her in a black alpaca suit, wipe her eyes, and she could then be
used to sit and take hat checks at a theater with the best of them.

Very good.  Now let me ask you a further question.  The Underworld
is full of mysteries.  How do these get unraveled?

By means of a Sleuth.

What is that?

A Sleuth (plural Sleeth) is the name given in the Underworld to one
who solves mysteries.

How does he do it?

The business of a Sleuth in the Underworld is to sit around
apparently doing nothing, but in reality his brain is working with
lightning rapidity.  His favorite location is what is called a low
drinking joint, and he sits there giving every sign of being drunk--
lucky fellow--but he isn't.  It is the rule of the Underworld that
the way to investigate or find out anything really complicated is
to get extremely drunk and go and sit in a joint.

In the course of time, some one is sure to say something, or rather
to let something slip, which gives the whole mystery away.  It
often happens that the Sleuth, in the course of business, gets
badly beaten up; sometimes they merely knock him insensible (that
never hurts him owing to the nature of his brain), but at other
times they tie him hand and foot and throw him down a sewer, and it
takes him nearly half an hour to crawl through.

All very correct.  And now tell me, is there any Hero in a story
that deals with the Underworld?

Oh, certainly a Hero.  And a Heroine.

Never mind the Heroine--for a moment.  Stick to the Hero.  How can
you distinguish him?

Very easily.  He is always so completely disguised that you can
tell him in a moment.  Suppose, for example, you meet in the story
a drunken sailor asleep on a bench and quite oblivious to the
world--that's the Hero.  Suppose there comes in an aged man very
much bent and with a white beard eighteen inches long--that's the
Hero.  At any moment he can unbend himself and unbob his beard and
there he is.

Is not the Hero in reality very strong and athletic?

Oh, very.  He can break an iron bar with his teeth, and he played
end man on his college ping-pong team.

All quite right.  And what is the Hero doing all through the story?

Looking for the Heroine.

Can he find her?

No.  He always looks in exactly the wrong place.  He enters one end
of the Underground Cabaret at the very moment she goes out of the

Quite so.

And now what about the Heroine?  How do you know her?

By her extraordinary innocence.  She knows nothing.  It is doubtful
whether she knows that any two sides of a triangle are greater than
the third side, or how much 47 times 13 is.

And what is she doing in the story?

Hard to say.  She just wandered in from her home.

Her home.  Where was that?

The site is not indicated clearly.  Somewhere among the
Honeysuckles, apparently.  It is also made clear that there are
lilacs around the porch; and there is evidence that while the
Heroine is lost in the Underworld, she still seems to hear the bees
humming around the door of her mother's home.

Did these bees sting her?

They should have.

And now, finally--does a story of the Underworld end happily?

Oh, always.  The Sleuth tracks down the Master Criminal (himself a
graduate of Oxford or Harvard) whose capacious brain has held all
the tangled filaments of crime that kept the Underworld together.
The Hero finds the Heroine just in time to save her from a fate
worse than death (what it is, is not stated).  The Old Crone turns
out to be the mother of the Queena Gehenna, and the Queen is so
affected that the shock knocks the henna out of her.  She reforms,
opens a Beauty Parlor, and there she is to this day.

Love Me, Love My Letters


There is a proverb which says a man is known by the company he
keeps.  There is a saying also that a man is best known by the song
he sings.  It is claimed, too, that people can always be
distinguished by the books that they read, and by the pictures that
they admire, and by the clothes that they wear.

All this may be true.  But to my thinking, the truest test of
character is found in the love letters that people write.  Each
different type of man or woman--including girls--has his, or her,
perhaps their, own particular way of writing love letters.

As witness to which, let me submit to the reader's judgment a
carefully selected set of love letters present and past.  I need
hardly say that the letters are not imaginary, but that each of
them is an actual sample taken right out of the post office--no, I
don't think I need to say it.



Love letter of the year 1828 sent by messenger from Mr. Ardent
Heartful, The Hall, Notts, England, to Miss Angela Blushanburn, The
Shrubberies, Hops, Potts, Shrops, England, begging her acceptance
of a fish:

"Respected Miss Angela:

"With the consent of your honored father and your esteemed mother,
I venture to send to you by the messenger who bears you this, a
fish.  It has, my respected Miss Angela, for some time been my most
ardent desire that I might have the good fortune to present to you
as the fruit of my own endeavours, a fish.  It was this morning my
good fortune to land while angling in the stream that traverses
your property, with the consent of your father, a fish.

"In presenting for your consumption, with your parents' consent,
respected Miss Angela, this fish, may I say that the fate of this
fish which will thus have the inestimable privilege of languishing
upon your table conveys nothing but envy to one who, while what he
feels cannot be spoken, still feels as deeply as should feel, if it
does feel, this fish.

"With the expression of a perfect esteem for your father and
mother, believe me,

"Your devoted,

"Ardent Heartful."



Love letter composed by Professor Albertus Dignus, senior professor
of English rhetoric and diction at the University, and famous as
the most brilliant essayist outside of the staff of the London
Times, to Miss Maisie Beatit of the chorus of the Follies-in-
Transit company at Memphis, Tenn.:

"Cuckoo! my little peacherino, and how is she to-night?  I wish she
was right here, yum! yum!  I got her tootsie weenie letter this
morning.  I hustled to the post office so fast to get it I nearly
broke my slats.  And so it really longs for me, does she? and did
you really mean it?  Well, you certainly look like a piece of
chocolate to me!  In fact, you're some bird!  You're my baby all
right,"--and so forth for three pages.  After which, the professor
turns back to work on his essay--"The Deterioration of the English
Language Among the Colored Races of Africa."



Passionate Love Letter from Mr. Ephraim Cloverseed, Arcadia Post
Office, Vermont, to Miss Nettie Singer, also of Arcadia, but at
present on the cash in the Home Restaurant, 7860 Sixth Avenue, New

"Dear Nettie:

"There was a sharp frost last night which may do considerable harm
to the fall wheat.  Till last Tuesday there had not been no frost
that you wouldn't have noticed any.  Some think we are in for a
hard winter.  Some think if it clears off a bit between this and
New Year's it may not be but some don't.  I seen a couple of crows
in the pasture yesterday but you can't always bank on that.  I've
been troubled again with my toe.  But my rheumatism seems a whole
lot better from that last stuff.  My left leg has been pretty stiff
again but the liniment has done my right arm good.  Well, I will
now close,




Letter from Mr. Harry P. Smith, hydraulic engineer and surveyor,
writing to Miss Georgia Sims, from Red Gulch Creek in the wilds of
New Ontario.  Everybody knows that Harry has been just crazy over
Georgia for three years.

"Dear Georgia:

"We got in here through the bush yesterday and it certainly is a
heck of a place to try to run a sight line in.  The rock is mostly
basaltic trap, but there are faults in it here and there that have
been filled with alluvial deposit.  It would be pretty hard to give
you an estimate of the probable mineral content.  But I should say
you would have a fair chance of striking gas here if you went deep
enough.  But your overhead would be a whopper.  Well, Georgia, I
must now close.



The answer received by Mr. Ardent Heartful, Anno Domini, 1828:

"Sir Joshua and Lady Blushanburn present their compliments to Mr.
Ardent Heartful and desire to thank him for the fish which Mr.
Heartful has had the kindness to forward to their daughter and
which they have greatly enjoyed.  Sir Joshua and Lady Blushanburn
will be pleased if Mr. Heartful will present himself in person for
such further conversation in regard to this fish as connects it
with his future intentions."


The answer from Miss Maisie Beatit of the Follies-in-Transit
Company, Memphis, Tenn.:

 "My dear Professor:

"It was with the most agreeable feelings of gratification that I
received your letter this morning.

"The sentiments which you express and the very evident
manifestation thus conveyed of your affection towards myself fill
me, sir, with the most lively satisfaction. . . ."  After which
Maisie got tired of copying word after word of the Complete Letter-
Writer and so she just added in her own style,

"Ain't you the Kidder?  Our next jump is Kansas City.



"Dear Ephraim:

"I was glad to get your letter.  I was sorry to hear there has been
so much frost.  I was glad to hear there are still crows in the
bush.  I was sorry to hear your toe is no better.  I was glad to
hear your rheumatism is some better.  I am glad your leg is nicely.
I must now close.



She didn't answer.


Little query for the reader just at the end.  Which of these
various couples will get married first and stay married longest.
Quite right.  You guessed it immediately.  There's no doubt about
it, to persons of judgment in such things.

With the Authorities




The scene is at Mr. Hoyle's house.  Four people are at a card
table.  On a shelf nearby one can see the back of a book entitled
"Hoyle's Bridge, Whist, and Card Games.  New Edition, Revised and

ONE OF THE PLAYERS--Your turn to play, Mr. Hoyle.

MR. HOYLE--Oh!  I beg your pardon.  I'm afraid I was dreaming--my
turn, yes, of course.  What did you say was trumps?


MR. HOYLE--Oh, yes.  Hearts, of course.  How stupid of me!  Now let
me see.  (Mr. Hoyle begins murmuring, softly, to himself.)--The ace
was played a little while ago--I've got the King--the Queen must

THE OTHER LADY--Oh, Mr. Hoyle, you mustn't talk like that.  You're
telling everything.  There is a rule against it.

MR. HOYLE--Oh!  I'm so sorry, of course, yes, a rule, a rule--
certainly--I'll just step over and look it up in my book to make

THE OTHER MAN--Oh, don't bother, Hoyle.  It's quite all right.  Now
go ahead and play, old man.

MR. HOYLE--Ah!  It's ME to play!  I'm afraid I hadn't understood.
Let--ME--see--ME to play--hum--ME to play--

MR. HOYLE'S PARTNER--Yes, you to play.  Don't you see--I led the
ace of clubs and he's put on a spade--

MR. HOYLE--A SPADE!  But, excuse me, why doesn't he play a CLUB?  I
think there's a rule in my book--one minute--

MRS. HOYLE--Do sit down, William.  Don't you remember he has no

MR. HOYLE--Ah! of course! no clubs, and so he can't play a club:
quite right.  In that case--let me think--(Mr. Hoyle sits and
murmurs.)  Let me think.  (There is a long pause.)

MR. HOYLE'S PARTNER (Very gently)--It's your turn, you know, Mr.

MR. HOYLE (With animation)--MY turn, ah, yes, of course; I see, and
my partner has led the ace of clubs--hearts are trumps.  Aha!  I
have it.  (Mr. Hoyle puts the ace of trumps on the other ace.)  My
trick, I think!

There is a general movement of consternation among the players.

THE OTHER THREE--Oh!  Mr. Hoyle!

MR. HOYLE (In surprise)--Didn't I take it? the other man--But don't
you see when you trumped your partner's ace, you practically threw
away a trick and--

MR. HOYLE'S PARTNER--Yes, and I'm afraid that exactly loses us the
rubber, doesn't it?

THE OTHER MAN--Never mind, Hoyle, better luck next time.  Let's
start another game.

MR. HOYLE (Rising from the table)--Ah! no, I'm afraid I'd better
stop now.  I want to do some more work on my book this evening.



The Scene is in the Beatons' House in the sitting-room.  The two
Beatons are waiting for dinner.  Mrs. Beaton is seated at a side-
table very busy with a litter of printer's proofs.  On the head of
them one can read quite easily the title:

for the Household, for Hotels, Restaurants, Ships, Caravans,
Picnics, etc., etc.

Mr. Beaton sits in a weary but resigned attitude.  His newspaper
has fallen from his hands.

MRS. BEATON  (Looking up and gazing in front of her with a dreamy
expression)--Darling, how do you spell Crème de Strasbourg?  Is it
ou or just u?

MR. BEATON--Ou, I think, is the French.

MRS. BEATON--Aren't you a pet?  (There is another long silence
while Mrs. Beaton works briskly at the papers.  After a while she
look up and says:)  Darling, which is a semicolon, the one with the
little wiggle under it, or the one with just the two dots?

MR. BEATON--I think the semicolon is what you mean by the little

MRS. BEATON--Well, listen, then, and do tell me which to use in
this, because you're so clever--aren't you, pet?  I'm talking about
what-do-you-call-it--you know that long word that means when people
do things in time--

MR. BEATON--Punctuality?

MRS. BEATON--Punctuality! aren't you wonderful!  Well, I'm talking
about punctuality.  (She reads from a proof.)  "In the care of the
Household, it is most important that everything should be done at
its proper time.  Dinner must never be kept waiting.  Nothing
contributes so much to the happiness of the household as promptness
and regularity in the service of meals."--Don't you think that is
rather nicely said, Edward?

MR. BEATON--Very nice, I'm sure.

MRS. BEATON  (Continuing)--"To be kept waiting for dinner."--Good
gracious, what is that!  (There is a sound like a minor explosion
from the kitchen with a great hissing of grease.  Mrs. Beaton rises
and disappears for a moment.  When she returns, she says quite
tranquilly:)  It's all right.  It was only Jane upset a lot of

MR. BEATON--Grease!

MRS. BEATON--Grease or gravy, or something.  She upset it on the
cooking range.

MR. BEATON--Whew!  It smells awful.  What is it?

MRS. BEATON--Something she's making from a recipe, I think.  I'm
not just sure what it was going to be, soup, or a soufflé,
something with an S,--I told her we'd eat anything with an S to-
night, because I'm working on S at present.  It does rather smell,
doesn't it?  Now let me see where I am--sago, sandwich, soufflé--
You won't mind dinner being a little late, my love!

MR. BEATON  (Mildly)--But it's half an hour late already.

MRS. BEATON--Is it possible!  You poor lamb.  You must be famished.
I can't think what Jane is doing.  (She rings a bell and Jane, very
slovenly and much smeared, appears in the doorway.)--Oh, Jane,
don't bother with the soup.  Perhaps you can give it to the cat.
Mr. Beaton is in a hurry, so you might serve the roast at once.

JANE--Why, ma'am, there isn't any roast!

MRS. BEATON--No roast!

JANE--No, ma'am.  You didn't order any.

MRS. BEATON  (Pleasantly)--Ah, no, of course not, the letter R!--we
finished it yesterday, didn't we, darling?  How silly of me!  And
now, I remember, that thing with the S that fell into the fire, was
the spaghetti, of course, the spaghetti--

MR. BEATON  (Hesitatingly)--Don't you think then perhaps--

MRS. BEATON--That you'd better go and dine at the club?  I'm afraid
so, my pet.  It's too bad.  I'm afraid you've dined there every
night for months, haven't you?  And I HAD so counted on giving you
a nice little home dinner as a surprise.  And, oh! darling, one
minute before you go--is cuisine spelt with a q--or--

MR. BEATON--With a cu, I think.

MRS. BEATON--With a cu!  Aren't you a love!  Don't be late,
darling.  Goodbye.



The Little Home Scene That Ensues When He Loses His Little Chart

The scene is laid in the living-room of the home of the family of
Mr. Mastermind, the great memory expert, the inventor of the famous
Mastermind Chart.  The Master Mind, wearing an overcoat and a hat,
and evidently just ready to go out, is seen fussing about the room
looking for something.  Its Better Half is sitting in a rocking
chair, knitting very placidly.

MR. MASTERMIND--Now where the deuce have I put the confounded

MRS. MASTERMIND--What is it you're looking for, dear?

MR. MASTERMIND--My little what-d'ye-call-it.

MRS. MASTERMIND--What do you mean?

MR. MASTERMIND--Oh, you know--that little what's-its-name.

MRS. MASTERMIND--Oh, you mean your little square chart?

MR. MASTERMIND--Yes, of course, I couldn't think for the minute.
My little square chart.  The new edition.  I can't find it.

MRS. MASTERMIND--Well, never mind it, dear.  Go on out; I'll find
it before you come in.

MR. MASTERMIND--No--but don't you see?--I want to take it with me.
I meant to put it into my pocket to show it to--er--what-d'you-

MRS. MASTERMIND--To whom, dear?

MR. MASTERMIND--To that man I'm going to see, don't you know--down
at the thing-ummey hotel.

MRS. MASTERMIND  (Still placidly knitting)--I'm really afraid that
I don't know what hotel you mean.  You see, dear, you didn't say
you were going out at all.

MR. MASTERMIND--Quite so.  To tell the truth, I had forgotten--that
is to say--I had made a new association of ideas with something,
suggesting a still more powerful concatenation of thought.

MRS. MASTERMIND--Well, shall I name over all the hotels and then
you can remember?

MR. MASTERMIND--No, no.  Don't try to.  You'd probably fail.  You
see, my dear, if you had ever taken a course in my memory system I
wouldn't mind letting you try to name them, but as it is your
sequence of ideas would break down.  (Still hunting desperately
among the things on the table and turning over the books and papers
in disorder.)--Now, where the deuce is that little square chart?
Where in Hades?

MRS. MASTERMIND--Please, dear, don't get excited.

MR. MASTERMIND--Excited!  I'm not in the least excited!  One of the
main factors in the perfection of memory is that the mind must be
quite calm, otherwise--(At this juncture Mr. Mastermind knocks over
the little table.)--Oh, damnation!

MRS. MASTERMIND--Please, dear, don't swear--(Mrs. Mastermind starts
to rise.)--let me help you.

MR. MASTERMIND  (Making a great effort at control, and desisting
from his search so as to speak with calm)--No, thank you, don't get
up.  I can find it.  Meantime, as I say, I merely wanted it so as
to bring it over to Mr.--Mr.--What's-his-name?--I don't recall it
for the moment, but I can easily get it by setting up a perfectly
simple chain of associations with the name itself.  That kind of
thing is really the essence of my system, and I do wish, dear, at
some time when you are calmer, you'd start--under my guidance, of
course--the first lessons of the method.

For example, I can easily recover this man's name--memory is never
lost, my dear, merely buried--by connecting it with the fact that
he was a fellow-passenger with us on board the--what the DEUCE was
the name of that infernal steamer?

MRS. MASTERMIND--Which steamer, my love?

MR. MASTERMIND--Oh, you know, that cussed steamer that we were on
when we came from--from--oh, from those blasted Islands!

MRS. MASTERMIND  (Very gently)--I'm afraid I don't remember it at

MR. MASTERMIND  (Beginning again his furious search)--I mean those
blasted islands that you go to when you, don't you know, when
you've no time to go as far as the West--What-d'ye-call-'ems.
People go there when they've got what's-its-name.  The air is full
of what-d'ye-call-it.  (Another little table is knocked over, and
just at this moment there is heard a ring at the home door-bell.)

MRS. MASTERMIND  (Calling from her chair so as to be heard in the
hall)--Jane, if you are anywhere there, would you please go to the

(There is a slight pause.  Jane can be seen going past the door of
the living-room in the hall.  The outer door is heard to open, and
Jane reappears with a gentleman visitor in tow.)

JANE  (Announcing)--Mr. Smith.

MRS. MASTERMIND  (Rising from her chair)--Oh, Mr. Smith!  We're so
glad to see you.

MR. MASTERMIND  (His face illuminated)--Smith!  Ah! ha! ha!  Of
course!  Smith!

MR. SMITH  (Bowing over Mrs. Mastermind's hand)--I thought I'd come
across and call.  I happen to be staying at the Royal Hotel.

MR. MASTERMIND  (Breaking out again)--The Royal Hotel!  Ha!  Ha! of
course!  Yes!  The ROYAL Hotel!

MR. SMITH  (Continuing)--. . . and I don't think I've had the
pleasure of seeing you since we were fellow-passengers on the Queen

MR. MASTERMIND--Yes!  Yes!  The Queen Mary.  Of course!  Q for
Queen, and M for Mary!!  Q and M being only three letters apart in
a reverse direction.  Ha!

MR. SMITH--But, of course, you left the Bahamas before I did.

MR. MASTERMIND--The Bahamas! the Bahamas!

(Mr. Mastermind, now quite radiant, comes and shakes hands again
and again with Mr. Smith, repeating "The Royal Hotel!  The Queen
Mary!  The Bahamas!")--What a perfect sequence! what a proof of the

MR. SMITH to MR. MASTERMIND--I sent you over a note to ask if you
wouldn't come over.  But I gathered that you didn't receive it?

MR. MASTERMIND--Yes, yes, I got it.  But I was delayed.  I was so
anxious to take along in my pocket a copy of my new little square
chart, my last one, super-memory as a system, that it kept me late.
To tell the truth, I couldn't find it.  I was hunting it when you
came in.

MR. SMITH--A little square chart?

MR. MASTERMIND--Yes, yes, just a little--

MR. SMITH--But surely, isn't THAT it? . . . not THAT pocket--the
one sticking out of your inner pocket.

MR. MASTERMIND  (Drawing out the chart)--Why, of course, how
ridiculous.  I see!  I have put on the wrong coat underneath the
one I meant to wear; by accident I put it in the money pocket.  How
extraordinary.  A chain of association!  But do let's sit down and
talk over that fascinating voyage to the--the--the--Yokohama



The scene is laid in the principal bedroom in the residence of Mr.
Hackit, inventor of the famous Autodoit Safety Razor.  In one
corner is a screen behind which can be heard at intervals the sound
of running water.  A lady, presumably Mrs. Hackit, is seated in a
rocking-chair reading the morning paper.  Mr. Hackit, as is at once
apparent, is behind the screen.

MR. HACKIT'S VOICE--Rot blast it!

(There is the sound of more rushing water; steam ascends above the
screen.  There is a clatter as of soap dishes, etc., falling

MR. HACKIT'S VOICE--Ding bust it!

MRS. HACKIT--Whatever is the matter, Alfred?  Haven't you finished
washing yet?

MR. HACKIT'S VOICE--Washing!  I'm not washing--I'm going to shave

MRS. HACKIT  (In obvious alarm)--To shave yourself!  Oh!  Alfred!
For heaven's sake, be careful!

MR. HACKIT'S VOICE--Nonsense!  There's not the slightest danger.
With this new device of mine--Wow!

MRS. HACKIT--What is it?

MR. HACKIT'S VOICE--I nearly cut my finger!  How on earth do you
fix in this confounded blade?

MRS. HACKIT--Why, surely, Alfred, you must remember that.  You take
hold of the blade (B) between the finger (F) and thumb (T) and
slide it gently into the grooves (G) and (G) till it comes fast
across the frame (F).  Surely that's on all your directions?

MR. HACKIT'S VOICE  (Grudgingly)--I suppose it is.  Anyway, _I_
can't do it.

(There is a tinkling clatter as of a razor-blade and its fastenings
falling to the floor.)--Oh! drat the thing!

MRS. HACKIT--Wait a minute, Alfred, hand it to me over the top of
the screen, and I'll go and get the paper of directions.

MR. HACKIT'S VOICE--No, no.  I won't try any more.

(There is a final splashing and gurgling of water, and then Mr.
Hackit emerges from behind the screen.  His face is covered with a
luxuriant growth of beard and whiskers like those of a California
Forty-niner.  He says as he comes out:)

After all, why should I bother to start now?  I never shaved in my
life.  I was just curious to see how the thing works.



Mr. Talkleton, the great predictor of business conditions, is seen
in his inner office.  Mr. Talkleton is known far and wide as the
statistician who calculated the Japanese Chow crop of 1928 to
within a bushel and who predicted the crisis of 1921 less than six
months after it happened.  He is seated at his desk.  A litter of
papers covered with figures lies all about him.  The great man is
absolutely absorbed in his work.  His massive brain is motionless,
poised over his task.

Near him at another desk is his stenographer with a telephone.

The telephone rings.

THE STENOGRAPHER  (Speaking into the telephone)--I'm so sorry you
can't speak to Mr. Talkleton this morning.  He is making a
forecast.  (She rings off.)

MR. TALKLETON  (Without moving his head)--How much is 6 times 7?

THE STENOGRAPHER--I'll look it up.  (She takes down an encyclopedia
and searches in it.  Then she says:)  Forty-eight.

MR. TALKLETON--Thank you.

(There is silence for a little time.)

MR. TALKLETON  (Without moving his head)--How much is 8 and 17 and

THE STENOGRAPHER--8 and 17 and 4?  I'll just work it out for you,
Mr. Talkelton.

MR. TALKLETON--Thank you.

(The stenographer moves across to an adding machine and pounds at
it furiously for two or three minutes.  Then she draws a paper slip
out of it and reads:)  One hundred.

MR. TALKELTON  (As before)--Thank you.

(The telephone rings again.)

THE STENOGRAPHER--I'm sorry.  Mr. Talkleton is busy.  You want a
forecast?  Oh, yes, I'll ask him.  (She puts hand over the phone.)
Mr. Talkleton, there is a lady wants a forecast on the peach crop
for 1929.  Shall I say yes?

MR. TALKLETON--Yes.  Tell her we'll have it today and get the
office boy to predict it.  Give him money to buy a couple of
peaches to predict it with.  Don't disturb me again.

THE STENOGRAPHER--Yes, Madame, we will make it for you today.  Will
you send a taxi and get it?  Thank you.

(She rings off.  There is another little silence.)

MR. TALKLETON--Add me up 4 and 6 and 3 and then subtract 3.

(There is a terrific clattering of the adding machine.  The
stenographer draws out the slip and announces:)  Six plus four. . . .
(Presently she says:)--What are you working on this morning, Mr.

MR. TALKLETON--It is a forecast of general business conditions for
one year, and now will you kindly supply me with a few necessary
data?  The calculation is practically complete and I need only a
few data which I find difficult to remember.  How many ounces are
there in a pound avoirdupois?


MR. TALKLETON--Thank you.  I never can remember it.  And how many
inches in a foot?

THE STENOGRAPHER--I've got that somewhere in our files, Mr.
Talkleton.  I'll look it up later.

MR. TALKLETON--Thank you--and let me have at the same time the
number of gallons in a firkin, and the number of perches in a
furlong.  And now I think I'm ready.  Will you take this dictation,

"I calculate from the data gathered from various indexes and
reduced to a common basis that the general trend of business for
the year will be upward and downward.  There is every indication of
a sharp decline in the percentage of the fall of values upwards.
But there may be a sharp jolt sideways.  In fact, the entire year

THE STENOGRAPHER--Which year, Mr. Talkleton?


THE STENOGRAPHER--Surely not 1927?

MR. TACKLETON--That's the year I'm predicting on.

THE STENOGRAPHER--Why, Mr. Talkleton, 1927 is over--months ago.

MR. TALKERTON (In alarm)--All over!  I never noticed it.  When did
it end?


MR. TALKLETON  (In despair)--Last December!  And I've spent months
and months on it!

THE STENOGRAPHER--Oh, never mind, Mr. Talkleton.  Call it 1928--and
I am certain it will be just as good as any other of your

MR. TALKLETON  (Brightly and with renewed animation)--Will it?
That's fine.  All right!  Type it out while I get my hat and coat,
and then fetch me my arithmetic primer, and the multiplication
table, and we'll go out to lunch.

Literature and the Eighteenth Amendment

I am privileged to make a unique announcement on behalf of the
Mayor and Council of my place of residence, the City of Montreal.
To be more exact, let me add that this announcement has not yet
been sanctioned by the Mayor and Council, but I feel certain that
as soon as they hear of it, they will be all for it.  It concerns,
in a word, a proposal to extend to United States authors and
playwrights an invitation to use the peculiar facilities enjoyed by
the City of Montreal for the laying of plots, scenes, etc., and for
the domicile of literary characters.  Put quite simply, this new
plan will restore to the American author the literary setting lost
under the Eighteenth Amendment.


Ever since the Eighteenth Amendment was appended to the
Constitution of the United States, writers of fiction, poetry, and
the drama have found themselves under a handicap.  In the stories
of to-day they are unable to give their characters a drink.  At
first sight this seems nothing.  But when we realize how much of
our literature both in America and in England for centuries past
has depended, rightly or wrongly, for conviviality on the drinking
of toasts and healths, on wassail and on Xmas, on stirrup cups and
Auld Lang Synes--we can see how hard it is, in literature, to do
without it.

Let me illustrate:

I met casually the other day in New York a writer whom I knew to
have been, only a few years ago, one of the most successful writers
of fiction of our day.  He looked despondent.  And I was pained to
notice that his clothes were ill kept and his appearance seedy.

"You look down on your luck, old man," I said.

"I am," he answered.

"Come along, then," I said, "and have a chocolate ice-cream sundae
to pick you up."

A few minutes later we were standing beside the counter of a drug
store with a smoking chocolate ice-cream sundae in our hands.

"That's better," said my friend, as he drained his sundae at one

"Have another," I suggested, "and then tell me of your troubles."

Warmed and invigorated by the ice-cream, to which was presently
added, on my proposal, a pint of buttermilk, my friend proceeded to

"I can't get used to this new situation," he said.  "You see all my
stories are novels of to-day, with the plot laid in the present
time--you understand?"

"Perfectly," I said, "have some more buttermilk."

"Thank you.  Well, the trouble is, I can't get used to the present
situation at all.  For instance, in my last novel (you haven't seen
it for the simple reason that I can't sell it) I bring in a dinner
party.  In fact, I nearly always bring in a dinner party.  It makes
such a good setting, don't you know."

"Quite so," I answered.  "What about a quart of sour milk?"

"No, thanks," he said, "not now, I want to keep my head clear.
Well, I always used, as I say, to have descriptions of dinner
parties, in which there were tables smothered with flowers, and
glittering glass, and at which--let me see--"

Here he paused and pulled out some scraps of paper, evidently
literary notes, from his pocket.

"Yes, at which, for example, 'Meadows (that was always the butler)
noiselessly passed the champagne'; in which 'The conviviality of
the party had now reached its height.  Lord Dangerdog pledged his
beautiful vis-à-vis in a brimming glass of champagne'; and in which
'Lady Angela and the Duchess exchanged smiles over their claret';
and in which finally 'the host instructed Meadows to bring up some
of the port, the old port, from the dusty bin in the cellar where
it had been first laid down by Winthrop Washington Beverly
Robinson, his ancestor, in the year of the Declaration of
Independence; a "noble port," said Lord Dangerdog as he sipped the
tawny wine with the air of a connoisseur. . . .'

"How's that?" said my friend, breaking off in his reading.

"Excellent," I answered, "and it is amazing how really dependent
our literature used to be for its mirth and happiness on just that
kind of thing."

"Precisely," he answered, "that is what I am finding.  I can't
replace it.  Here's what I put into my new story (the one that I
can't sell) for the dinner party scene:

"'As the pea soup circulated freely, a new animation seemed to come
to the guests.  Lord Dangerdog, already at his second plateful,
smiled across at Lady Angela . . . while the young girl herself hid
her blushing face in her soup to avoid the boldness of his eye.

"'"Come," said the host, turning to his English guest, "let me
pledge you in another stick of celery," and, suiting the action of
the word, he held aloft a magnificent bunch of Kalamazoo celery,
and with the words, "Let us eat to our English visitor," he
devoured the entire bunch in a single mouthful.

"'Then beckoning to the noiseless butler to whom he passed at the
same time the key of the cellar, "Meadows," he said, "fetch me up
some of the OLD soup: it's in the fourth trough on the left."'"


"There!" said my friend as he finished reading.  "What do you think
of it?"

"You're quite right," I said.  "It hardly seems the same."


Since then I have been looking more closely into this question of
conviviality and literature.  I find that drink of some kind is
associated not only with scenes of gaiety, but with almost every
aspect of literature.  Take the familiar literary theme of the
gradual ruin and downfall of a young man, happily married, and with
all life before him.


In the stories of yesterday we used to read, for example:

"It was with a devastating sense of despair that Agatha watched her
husband go to the sideboard and with a shaking hand pour himself
out a glass of neat brandy, which he drained at a gulp . . ." etc.,

In an up-to-date story all that we can say is something of this

"It was with a devastating sense of despair that Agatha realized
that her husband was becoming addicted to consommé.  She watched
him as he surreptitiously drank a second ladleful of it, and asked
herself what would happen if he took a tureenful."


There is only one thing to be done.  Move the stories and scenes up
to the city of Montreal, where the old and familiar literary
background still survives, where Xmas is Xmas, and a Party is a
Party and not a Stuffing Match.


Let any writer of one-act plays in the United States consider, for
instance, the brightness of such an opening as this:

Scene:  The Bar of a Montreal hotel.  There are present Lord
Dangerdog, Lady Evelina, The Bishop of Labrador, General the Hon.
Sir Evelyn Everhard.

THE BISHOP  (Wiping his face)--What an excellent cocktail.

THE GENERAL--Is it not, and so mild!  It's only American rum and
absinthe, I believe.

LADY EVELINA  (Putting down twenty-five cents)--Mix the boys up
another of those.


When Montreal offers a chance for a scene like this, what a shame
to lay a plot in Indianapolis.


Now I am entitled, in fact, I am invited, by a hotel in Montreal to
say that any American dramatists visiting it are entirely welcome
to lay one-act plays in the bar-room.  Another hotel also announces
that authors may lay one-act plays in the bar or in the grill room
and serve liquor to their characters at any time up to midnight.


And if any author has occasion to entertain his characters in a
club--a REAL club, such, I have been told, as no longer exists in
the United States--I invite him, as a personal matter, to put them
into the University Club, Montreal, where they will find everything
needed for the best class of fiction.

They will then be able to reinsert into their stories such little
lost touches as:

"It was the habit of Sir John to drop into his club for a glass of
sherry and bitters before driving home to dinner."

There is so much more CLASS in that than in saying that he
generally stopped at a soda fountain for a pint of chocolate


If the plan that I have outlined is carried through, the first
train-load of American authors will probably be shipped in within a
month.  Scene-laying will begin at once.  And next season's crop of
novels will begin:

"The sun was slowly setting on both sides of the St. Lawrence,
illuminating with its dying beams the windows of the hotels and
clubs of Montreal, in one of which, licensed to sell wine and beer
up till midnight, a man and a woman--"

And the story is off to a good start and literature comes into its
own again.

The Hunt for a Heroine


By a silly kind of convention, handed down from our great-
grandfathers' time, every work of fiction has to have in it the
class of person known as a Heroine.

These heroines were found everywhere.  You found them in stories of
adventure, mixed up with pirates and heroic lieutenants in the
navy, in stories of English country life where they lived in
rectories or worked as governesses, or in historic and romantic
novels where they rode on "palfreys" and had "varlets" to wait on

Nor was there any great trouble, in the literary sense, in creating
them.  The author merely described what he thought an attractive
girl and let it go at that.  He suited himself.  Some writers, for
example, liked them small; they preferred to make their heroine
what they called a "sylph," which meant a being so dainty and so
frail that she could just about get around by herself and no more.
This little "wee-wee" heroine used to "stamp her little foot
imperiously" and "toss her little head disdainfully,"--in fact she
had quite a lot of tricks like that and made a terrible hit.

But other writers liked the heroine to be what they called
"divinely tall," and "willowy."  She would just nicely get under a
doorway, and was as thin and bendable as a stethoscope.  But the
idea was that if she ever "twined her arms about her lover,"--as
she did on the last page of the book--it was a pretty high-class
piece of twining.

But in those days the thing was simple.  The circulation of books
was limited.  There was none of the world-wide appeal of to-day.
Nowadays the author has to try to please, not some of the people,
but all of the people.  He has got to make a heroine to suit not
merely his own taste but everybody's.  Otherwise there will be a
lot of people who can't read the story because they don't like the

The result is that in the romances of to-day the heroine must not
belong to any one type but to all of them at once.  In a subtle way
the writer must suggest to every reader the girl of his particular
preference.  This is very hard to do.  Some writers can't do it at
all.  But when it is really well done the resulting description of
the up-to-date heroine sounds something such as the following pen
portrait, taken, almost word for word, from one of the most popular
novels of the year:

"Margaret Overproof was neither short nor tall.  Her perfect
figure, slender and at the same time fat, conveyed at times an
impression of commanding height while at other times she looked
sawed off.  Her complexion, which was of the tint of a beautiful
dull marble like the surface of a second-hand billiard ball, was
shot at times with streaks of red and purple which almost suggested
apoplexy.  Her nose which was clear-cut and aquiline was at the
same time daintily turned up at the end and then moved off
sideways.  A critic might have considered her mouth a trifle too
wide and her lips a trifle too full, but on the other hand a horse
buyer would have considered them all right.  Her eyes were deep and
mournful and lit with continuous merriment.  Her graceful neck
sloped away in all directions till it reached her bust, which
stopped it."


There! a reader who is not satisfied with Margaret would be pretty
hard to please.  But, by the way, her name ought not to be anything
so simple as Margaret, if she is to be a heroine of to-day.  In
earlier times, say, a hundred years ago, the heroines were called
by flowing classical names such as Dulcinea, Althusia, or Ambrosia.
Then they went through a stage of being called by the simple old
home names such as Margaret and Catherine and Mary Ann.  They then
passed through a period of cat-like nicknames, such as "Puss," and
"Dot," "Kit," and "Vi."

But nowadays the favorite name for a heroine seems to be one of
those dignified, double-gendered, half impossible designations that
might mean either a girl or a man or a horse,--as, for example,
Joyce, Loïs, Dyce, or something of that sort.


Having got her described and named the next difficulty with the
heroine is to dress her.  This is the hardest of all.  The novelist
of two generations ago did it very simply.  They always clothed
their heroine in "old clinging stuff."  That was all.  What it is
or where you buy it, I don't know.  But the old-fashioned heroine
always wore it on great occasions.  If she was poor,--a governess,
for instance,--she got it out of a box left her by her mother.  If
she was rich she went out and bought it and it was then called
"priceless old clinging stuff."  And she made her appearance in it

"As Margaret dsecended the broad stairways, dressed simply in
beautiful old white clinging stuff which clung to her as she
descended, all eyes turned to gaze at her in enraptured admiration.
'Great Heavens,' said the young Duke, 'who is she?'"


But that won't do now.  These are the days of illustrated fashion
magazines and the readers, the female readers at any rate, want to
know what it was that she really had on, and won't be put off any
longer with that clinging stuff.  Nor will it do to say that she
was "dressed all in flaming red," or that "she appeared dressed in
opalescent pink, shot with blue," or "half shot with something
concealed below."  Even if her appearance was half shot, the reader
wants to know all about it and where she got it.

Only women writers can really deal with this situation, and
unfortunately, nine out of ten novels are written by men.  All that
a man can do is to reach out for a fashion magazine, snatch out a
handful of technical terms and throw them at the heroine,--thus:

"As Loïs gayly slid down the bannisters of the staircase, her
appearance attracted all eyes.  She wore a dainty georgette of
limousine tucked over a brassière of deep blue and held in place
with a ceinture of alligator hide with crystalline insertions.
'Great Heavens,' said the young Duke, 'who is she?'"


With that, her figure and her name and her dress are fairly well
settled.  But worse remains,--her mind?  What is, what ought to be,
the mind of an attractive woman?  Should she know anything or just

The earlier writers were all for the nothing.  With them the less
the heroine knew the bigger hit she made.  Witness this description
taken right out of an old book, but easily recognizable.

"Caroline Cowslip had been brought up in the greatest simplicity.
Reared in the seclusion of an old-fashioned rectory it was probable
that she was more simple than any girl within a radius of ten
miles.  To this charm of a native simplicity was added a total lack
of education and an entire absence of worldly knowledge.  The
father, the good old rector, had at last gone to his rest, leaving
Caroline alone in the world."

In these older books, the idea was that this kind of start would
land Caroline in all kinds of interesting trouble.

But to-day this, too, is changed.  The heroine can't any longer be
made ignorant because this gives offense to all women readers: on
the other hand, it doesn't do to have her know too much, or else
the men object to her.  The only way to get round it is for the
author to keep on declaring that Loïs has a "limpid mind," and to
speak of "the girl's clear intelligence" but not to let her work it
too hard.

Here is something of the touch that is needed.


"Loïs sat silent, her hands clasped about her knee and her eyes
half closed, while Dangerfield explained to her all the intricacies
of the situation.

"'I begin to see,' she murmured.

"Dangerfield, relying always on the limpid intelligence of the
girl's limpid intellect, continued in the same quiet way to lay
before her all the tangled factors in the web of calculation which
made up--what he was talking about.

"At the end he stopped--'And you can trust me?' he asked.  'Yes,'
she murmured as she rose, 'and now I must go home and THINK!"


By that means, of course, she has it pretty well put all over
Dangerfield and the reader too.  In reality she is probably just
about on the same level as Caroline.  But when she says she must
"go home and THINK," let her go by all means.  It is what she

Bed-time Stones for Grown-up People


There has come into being lately a new and very charming school of
literature which deals with the animals, not as they are but as
they might be.  Skinko the Skunk turns into a merry little
companion, a little saucy at times but without malice.  Warto the
Toad sits complacently under a broad leaf, talking with Squirmo the
Worm.  Old Mr. Hawk hovers gently overhead looking kindly down and
wondering whom to eat.  The whole animal kingdom is thus suffused
with such a soft and drowsy atmosphere that the little children lay
their tired heads on the pillow and go to sleep dreaming of it.

Isn't it beautiful?  And what a pity it seems that we can't do the
same for grown-up life.  The only part of our modern newspaper that
breathes out this entrancing atmosphere of universal happiness is
that little corner of the children's page.  All the rest of it is
filled with battles and crimes, with murder and sudden death.


Come, let us see if we can't do something to straighten this out.
Let us take a piece of news out of a modern journal, the first to
hand and the first random item we see, and try if we cannot rewrite
it with the human breadth of kindliness of a bed-time story.  Here,
what is this?  This looks like the kind of thing that we want:


Friday, April 1.--Last night at an advanced hour burglars broke
into the cellars of the residence of Mr. Surplus Overall, the well-
known stockbroker, and were in the act of ransacking the house when
a sudden alarm brought the police to the scene.  After a fusillade
of shots had been exchanged the burglars made good their escape
with the exception of one man who was desperately wounded in the
fray and captured.  The apparent motive was robbery.


But, dear me! that sounds altogether too harsh, too brutal!  It is
a criminal world indeed in which such things as that can happen.
Let us see if we can rewrite it, so as to give it that soft and
gentle touch of the bed-time story.

Try it like this:


Away down in the crowded part of the city lives Fuzzy the Burglar
in a hole of his own that nobody else can find.  He has an old fur
coat with the fur nearly all eaten off of it and so he is called
Fuzzy.  He looks very different from Fatto the Capitalist whose
sleek fur coat glistens and ripples as he walks, and very different
from Stocko the Broker who is all covered with rich fur and silk
lining from his neck to his feet and his paws.

But Fuzzy hardly ever sees these because he doesn't get out by day
but lies round in his hole and sleeps and only goes out at night.
Fuzzy sees better at night.  Sometimes he wanders at night away up
into the part of the town where Fatto and Stocko live and where
there are so many trees that it is like a wood.  Often as he goes
past their houses, Fuzzy's quick nose catches delicious smells
wafted from the kitchens and he knows that Fatto or Stocko is
having a feast, with nuts and elderberry wine.  My! how Fuzzy would
like to be in that feast!  Only of course he can't be in it because
Fatto and Stocko won't let him come in.

In fact, in order to keep Fuzzy out they have Coppo the Cop walking
up and down in the street outside, under the electric light, just
to keep Fuzzy away.

Coppo likes to walk under the light because then everybody can see
him and see what a sleek coat he has and how plump he is.  Now and
again Coppo will stand still and swing his arms so as to beat
himself with his big paws: partly because it is cold and partly
because his instinct tells him that that is good for his
circulation.  If Coppo didn't beat his arms like this perhaps he
wouldn't have any circulation at all.


Now when Coppo stands on his beat he sees all the people that live
along his street come home in their limousine cars, and of course
he knows them all.  And when he sees Stocko the Broker go by, he
says to himself, "There's Stocko coming home"; and he puts his paw
up to his hat to show that he knows him.  Then presently he sees
Skin the Lawyer, and Scratchy the Notary drive home and at last he
sees Clubbo, the Club man, come crawling home along the edge of the
sidewalk, because it is Clubbo's instinct not to trust the sidewalk
in case it should rise up and hit him.  And at last Coppo says,
"They are all home."  And he goes and stands under the lamp and
leans against the lamp post because he knows that that is good for
his back.  And he wishes that he was at home too.  Away down in the
deeper part of the city Coppo has a mate and a lot of little Coppos
all round and plump like himself.  But of course he can't be at
home with them because he has to stay under the lamp post and then
if anything has happened he can run off as fast as he can on his
fat legs to the Station House and say, "Something has happened!"


But all the time while Coppo is standing there he is really
watching for Fuzzy the Burglar.  And he says to himself, "I wonder
where Fuzzy is to-night," and, "I wonder what Fuzzy is doing?"  He
looks up and down the street and towards all the dark corners and
thinks "perhaps Fuzzy is in there."

So presently, on the night we are going to talk about, Fuzzy came
along the street, only he didn't come along openly and heartily,
like Fatto the Capitalist and Stocko the Broker.  He came sneaking
along and sneaking along and when he saw Coppo looking he stood
quite still in the shadow and growled to himself and showed his
teeth with all the fur on his old coat standing up with

And presently when Coppo was looking the wrong way Fuzzy got right
past him and into the little dark lane beside Stocko's house.
There he waited a little while to see that all was still and then
he knelt down in the darkness beside one of the cellar windows and
began scratching at it with his clever little paws till presently
the windows pushed open and Fuzzy slipped quietly down into the

My!  But it was dark down there!  At first Fuzzy could hardly see
anything at all but presently when his eyes began to get used to it
he saw that he was in a room with a lot of coal in it.  Fuzzy's
instinct told him that this must be the coal room with the coal for
the furnace that keeps Stocko warm while he is eating nuts and
drinking elderberry wine.  Fuzzy knew that there must be a door
somewhere and a flight of stairs to lead up into the house.  So he
crawled round quietly until he found the stairs and then he waited
and waited and he pricked up his ears and he listened and listened,
because he wanted to find out whether Stocko was asleep.  If he
was, then perhaps he might have left his big gold watch somewhere
on a table, or perhaps he had left ten dollars on a chair, or
perhaps his long slick fur coat was hanging in the hall.

Fuzzy thought of all these things as he sat there in the dark and
he licked his chops when he pictured himself going home to his hole
in the fur coat, with ten dollars in the pockets and the big gold
watch and chain round his neck.

Only Fuzzy couldn't be QUITE sure that Stocko was asleep!
Sometimes he thought he heard him snoring and then he thought
perhaps he heard him still moving about.  So he waited and waited.

But Stocko wasn't asleep.  He was upstairs sitting in his dressing
gown at his library table counting his money.  He was counting it
because he wasn't quite sure whether he had made ten thousand
dollars that day or ten thousand dollars and fifty cents; and he
was sitting up to see which it was.


So at last Fuzzy made up his mind to crawl on up the stairs.  In
one hand he had a little wee light that he could shut on and off,
and in his breast pocket was a cute little automatic pistol.


Fuzzy climbed higher and higher: and then just as he got near the
top of the cellar stairs, he knocked against a lump of coal lying
on the steps and away it went bump! bump! bump! all down the steps.
And just at that minute Fuzzy heard a sharp wow! wow! wow! and he
knew that dear little Helpup, Stocko's fox terrier, had heard the
noise and was trying to wake the house.  Fuzzy would like to have
taken his automatic pistol and made a hole through dear little
Helpup from one end of him to the other.  But he didn't dare do it
and so he turned and rushed down the stairs again and seemed to
fall over everything and shouted, "Who's there!"  And somewhere in
another set of rooms of the basement Booze the Butler woke up and
began putting on his evening tie again and bells rang and the maids
screamed and Fuzzy ran up and down among the coals trying to find
the friendly window and he couldn't.

Then Stocko put his head out of the window and shouted out to
Coppo, "Hi, there! thieves! robbers!!" and Coppo who had hardly
been asleep at all called out, "All right, sir," and drew his big
revolver and began firing it in all directions and hitting the
houses and the trees and shooting at the people who put their heads
out of windows.

And in less than no time other Coppos came running along, and then
wagonfuls of them arrived with gongs and bells.  And when poor
Fuzzy came crawling out of the cellar window they all fired their
guns at him as often as they could shoot, and one of them actually
almost hit him in the foot and at any rate tore the heel of his old
boot off.


So when the Cops at last got Fuzzy and put him in a wagon like a
cage and sat in it with him, Fuzzy was quite sulky.  At first he
wouldn't talk at all but all the Cops just laughed and one of them
gave Fuzzy a drink of huckleberry tea that he had in a flask
(because all Cops like huckleberry tea).  So Fuzzy cheered up
presently and when the Cops told him he would get two years in the
Jug he didn't mind so very much but he only laughed.  Because the
Cops really like Fuzzy and Fuzzy likes the Cops and they both think
one another real men.

Only Fuzzy made up his mind that after this he would never, never
speak to Helpup again.

Softening the Stories for the Children


"What is the story that you are reading, Peggy?" I asked of a wide-
eyed child of eight, who sat buried in a story book.

"Little Red Riding Hood," she answered.

"Have you come to the part," I asked, "where the grandmother gets

"She didn't get eaten!" the child protested in surprise.

"Yes,--the wolf comes to her cottage and knocks at the door and she
thinks that it is Little Red Riding Hood and opens the door and the
wolf eats her."

She shook her head.

"That's not it at all in this book," she said.

So I took a look at the page before her and I read:

"Then the wolf pushed open the door of the cottage and rushed in
but the grandmother was not there as she happened not to be at

Exactly!  The grandmother, being a truly up-to-date grandmother,
was probably out on the golf links, or playing bridge with a few
other grandmothers like herself.

At any rate she was not there and so she escaped getting eaten by
the wolf.  In other words, Little Red Riding Hood, like all the
good old stories that have come down from the bad old times, is
having to give way to the tendencies of a human age.  It is
supposed to be too horrible for the children to read.  The awful
fate of the grandmother, chawed up by the wolf, or, no, swallowed
WHOLE like a Malpecque oyster, is too terrible for them to hear.
So the story, like a hundred other stories and pictures, has got to
be censored, re-edited, and incidentally, spoiled.

All of which rests on a fundamental error as to literature and as
to children.  There is no need to soften down a story for them.
They like it rough.

"In the real story," I said to the little girl, "the grandmother
was at home, and the wolf rushed in and ate her in one mouthful!"

"Oh! that's MUCH better!" she exclaimed.

"And then, afterwards, when the hunters came in, they killed the
wolf and cut his stomach open and the grandmother jumped out and
was saved!"

"Oh, isn't that splendid!" cried the child.

In other words, all the terror that grown-up people see in this
sort of story is there for grown-up people only.  The children look
clean over it, or past it, or under it.  In reality, the vision of
the grandmother feebly defending herself against the savage beast,
or perhaps leaping round the room to get away from him, and jumping
on top of the grandfather's clock--is either horrible, or weird, or
pathetic, or even comic, as we may happen to see it.  But to the
children it is just a story--and a good one--that's all.

And all the old stories are the same!  Consider Jack the Giant-
Killer.  What a conglomeration of weeping and wailing, of people
shut into low dungeons, of murder, of sudden death, of blood, and
of horror!  Jack, having inveigled an enormous giant into eating an
enormous quantity of porridge, then rips him up the stomach with a
huge sword!  What a mess!

But it doesn't disturb Jack or his young readers one iota.  In
fact, Jack is off at once with his young readers trailing eagerly
after him, in order to cut off at one blow the three huge heads of
a three-headed giant and make a worse mess still.

From the fairy stories and the giant stories the children presently
pass on--quite unscathed as I see it--to the higher range of the
blood-and-thunder stories of the pirates and the battles.  Here
again the reality, for the grown-up mind that can see it, is
terrible and gruesome; but never so for the boys and girls who see
in it only the pleasant adventure and bright diversity.

Take, for instance, this familiar scene as it appears and reappears
in the history of Jack Daredevil, or Ned Fearnothing, or any of
those noble boys who go to tea, in books, at the age of fourteen
and retire, as admirals, at twenty-two.

"The fire from both ships was now becoming warm.  A round shot
tearing across the deck swept off four of our fellows.  'Ha! ha!'
said Jack, as he turned towards Ned on the quarterdeck, 'this bids
fair to become lively.'"

It certainly did.  In fact, it would be lively already if one
stopped to think of the literal and anatomical meaning of a round
shot--twenty-five pounds of red-hot iron--tearing through the
vitals of four men.  But the boy reader never gets it this way.
What is said is, that four of our fellows were "swept off"--just
that; merely "swept off" and that's the way the child reader takes
it.  And when the pirates "leap on deck," Jack himself "cuts down"
four of them and Ned "cuts down" three.  That's all they do--"they
cut they down"; they just "shorten them" so to speak.

Very similar in scope and method was the good old "half-dime
novel," written of the days of the "Prairie," and the mountain
trail, the Feathered Indian and the Leathered Scout.  In these,
unsuspecting strangers got scalped in what is now the main street
of Denver--where they get skinned.

These stories used to open with a rush and kept in rapid
oscillation all the time.  In fact they began with the concussion
of firearms.

"'Bang!  Bang!  Bang!'  Three shots rang out over the prairie and
three feathered Indians bit the dust."

It seemed always to be a favorite pastime of the Indians--"biting

In grim reality, to the grown-up mind, these were stories of
terror--of midnight attack, of stealthy murder with a knife from
without the folds of the tent, of sudden death in dark caverns, of
pitiless enemies, and of cruel torture.

But not so to the youthful mind.  He followed it all through quite
gayly, sharing the high courage of his hero, Dick Danger the
Dauntless.  "I must say," whispered Dick to Ned (this was when the
Indians had them tied to a tree and were piling grass and sticks
round it so as to burn them alive), "I must say, old man, things
begin to look critical.  Unless we can think of some way out of
this fix, we are lost."

Notice, please, this word "lost": in reality they would be worse
than lost.  They'd be COOKED.  But in this class of literature the
word "lost" is used to cover up a multitude of things.  And, of
course, Dick does think of a way out.  It occurs to him that by
moving his hands he can slip off the thongs that bind him, set Ned
free, leap from the tree to the back of a horse, of two horses, and
then by jumping over the edge of a chasm into the forest a thousand
feet below, they can find themselves in what is called "comparative
safety."  After which the story goes calmly on, oblivious of the
horrible scene that nearly brought it to an end.

But as the modern parent and the modern teacher have grown alarmed,
the art of story-telling for children has got to be softened down.
There must be no more horror and blood and violent death.  Away
with the giants and the ogres!  Let us have instead the stories of
the animal kingdom in which Wee-Wee the Mouse has tea on a broad
leaf with Goo-goo the Caterpillar, and in which Fuzzy the Skunk
gives talks on animal life that would do for Zoology Class I at

But do we--do they--can we escape after all from the cruel
environment that makes up the life in which we live?  Are the
animals after all so much softer than the ogres, so much kinder
than the pirates?  When Slick the Cat crackles up the bones of Wee-
Wee the Mouse, how does that stand!  And when old Mr. Hawk hovers
in the air watching for Cheep-cheep the chicken who tries in vain
to hide under the grass, and calls for its lost mother--how is that
for terror!  To my thinking the timorous and imaginative child can
get more real terror from the pictured anguish of a hunted animal
than from the deaths of all the Welsh giants that ever lived on

The tears of childhood fall fast and easily, and evil be to him who
makes them flow.

How easily a child will cry over the story of a little boy lost,
how easily at the tale of poverty and want, how inconsolably at
death.  Touch but ever so lightly these real springs of anguish and
the ready tears will come.  But at Red Riding Hood's grandmother!
Never!  She didn't DIE!  She was merely EATEN.  And the sailors,
and the pirates, and the Apache Indians!  They don't DIE, not in
any real sense to the child.  They are merely "swept off," and
"mowed down"--in fact, scattered like the pieces on an upset

The moral of all which is, don't worry about the apparent terror
and bloodshed in the children's books, the real children's books.
There is none there.  It only represents the way in which little
children, from generation to generation, learn in ways as painless
as can be followed, the stern environment of life and death.

The Great Detective

"'Ha!' exclaimed the Great Detective, raising himself from the
resilient sod on which he had lain prone for half an hour, 'what
have we here?'

"As he spoke, he held up a blade of grass he had plucked.

"'I see nothing,' said the Poor Nut.

"'No, I suppose not,' said the Great Detective; after which he
seated himself on a stone, took out his saxophone from its case,
and for the next half hour was lost in the intricacies of Gounod's
'Sonata in Six Flats with a Basement.'"

--Any Detective Story.


The publishers tell us that more than a thousand detective stories
are sold every day--or is it every hour?  It does not matter.  The
point is that a great many are sold all the time, and that there is
no slackening of the appetite of the reading public for stories of
mysterious crime.

It is not so much the crime itself that attracts as the unraveling
of the mystery by the super-brain of the Great Detective, as silent
as he is efficient.  He speaks only about once a week.  He seldom
eats.  He crawls around in the grass picking up clews.  He sits
upside down in his arm-chair forging his inexorable chain of logic.

But when he's done with it, the insoluble mystery is solved,
justice is done, the stolen jewels are restored, and the criminal
is either hanged or pledges his word to go and settle on a ranch in
Saskatchewan; after which the Great Detective takes a night off at
the Grand Opera, the only thing that really reaches him.

The tempting point about a detective story--both for the writer and
the reader--is that it is so beautifully easy to begin.  All that
is needed is to start off with a first-class murder.

"Mr. Blankety Blank sat in his office in the drowsy hour of a
Saturday afternoon.  He was alone.  Work was done for the day.  The
clerks were gone.  The building, save for the janitor, who lived in
the basement, was empty.

"As he sat thus, gazing in a sort of reverie at the papers on the
desk in front of him, his chin resting on his hand, his eyes closed
and slumber stole upon him."

Quite so.  Let him feel just as drowsy as ever he likes.  The
experienced reader knows that now is the very moment when he is
about to get a crack on the nut.  This drowsy gentleman, on the
first page of the detective story, is not really one of the
characters at all.  He is cast for the melancholy part that will
presently be called The Body.  Some writers prefer to begin with
The Body itself right away--after this fashion:

"The Body was that of an elderly gentleman, upside down, but
otherwise entirely dressed."

But it seems fairer to give the elderly gentleman a few minutes of
life before knocking him on the head.  As long as the reader knows
that there is either a Body right away, or that there is going to
be one, he is satisfied.

Sometimes a touch of terror is added by having the elderly
gentleman killed in a country house at night.  Most readers will
agree that this is the better way to kill him.

"Sir Charles Althorpe sat alone in his library at Althorpe Chase.
It was late at night.  The fire had burned low in the grate.
Through the heavily curtained windows no sound came from outside.
Save for the maids, who slept in a distant wing, and save for the
butler, whose room was under the stairs, the Chase, at this time of
the year, was empty.  As Sir Charles sat thus in his arm-chair, his
head gradually sank upon his chest and he dozed off into slumber."

Foolish man!  Doesn't he know that to doze off into slumber in an
isolated country house, with the maids in a distant wing, is little
short of madness?  Apparently he doesn't, and his fate, to the
complete satisfaction of the reader, comes right at him.

Let it be noted that in thus setting the stage for a detective
story, the Body selected is, in nine cases out of ten, that of an
"elderly gentleman."  It would be cowardly to kill a woman, and
even our grimmest writers hesitate to kill a child.  But an
"elderly gentleman" is all right, especially when "fully dressed"
and half asleep.  Somehow they seem to invite a knock on the head.

After such a beginning, the story ripples brightly along with the
finding of the Body, and with the Inquest, and with the arrest of
the janitor, or the butler, and the usual details of that sort.

Any trained reader knows when he sees that trick phrase, "save for
the janitor, who lived in the basement," or "save for the butler,
whose room was under the stairs," that the janitor and the butler
are to be arrested at once.

Not that they really did commit the murder.  We don't believe they
did.  But they are suspected.  And a good writer in the outset of a
crime story throws suspicion around like pepper.

In fact, the janitor and the butler are not the only ones.  There
is also, in all the stories, a sort of Half Hero (he can't be a
whole hero, because that would interfere with the Great Detective),
who is partly suspected, and sometimes even arrested.  He is the
young man who is either heir to the money in the story, or who had
a "violent quarrel" with the Body, or who was seen "leaving the
premises at a late hour" and refuses to say why.

Some writers are even mean enough to throw a little suspicion on
the Heroine--the niece or ward of the elderly gentleman--a needless
young woman dragged in by convention into this kind of novel.  She
gets suspected merely because she bought half a gallon of arsenic
at the local chemist shop.  They won't believe her when she says,
with tears in her eyes, that she wanted it to water the tulips

The Body being thus completely dead, Inspector Higginbottom of the
local police having been called in, having questioned all the
maids, and having announced himself "completely baffled," the crime
story is well set and the Great Detective is brought into it.

Here, at once, the writer is confronted with the problem of how to
tell the story, and whether to write it as if it were told by the
Great Detective himself.  But the Great Detective is above that.
For one thing, he's too silent.  And in any case, if he told the
story himself, his modesty might hold him back from fully
explaining how terribly clever he is, and how wonderful his
deductions are.

So the nearly universal method has come to be that the story is
told through the mouth of an Inferior Person, a friend and
confidant of the Great Detective.  This humble associate has the
special function of being lost in admiration all the time.

In fact, this friend, taken at his own face value, must be regarded
as a Poor Nut.  Witness the way in which his brain breaks down
utterly and is set going again by the Great Detective.  The scene
occurs when the Great Detective begins to observe all the things
around the place that were overlooked by Inspector Higginbottom.

"'But how,' I exclaimed, 'how in the name of all that is
incomprehensible, are you able to aver that the criminal wore

"My friend smiled quietly.

"'You observe,' he said, 'that patch of fresh mud about ten feet
square in front of the door of the house.  If you would look, you
will see that it has been freshly walked over by a man with rubbers

"I looked.  The marks of the rubbers were there plain enough--at
least a dozen of them.

"'What a fool I was!' I exclaimed.  'But at least tell me how you
were able to know the length of the criminal's foot?'

"My friend smiled again, his same inscrutable smile.

"'By measuring the print of the rubber,' he answered quietly, 'and
then subtracting from it the thickness of the material multiplied
by two.'

"'Multiplied by two!' I exclaimed.  'Why by two?'

"'For the toe and the heel.'

"'Idiot that I am,' I cried, 'it all seems so plain when you
explain it.'"

In other words, the Poor Nut makes an admirable narrator.  However
much fogged the reader may get, he has at least the comfort of
knowing that the Nut is far more fogged than he is.  Indeed, the
Nut may be said, in a way, to personify the ideal reader, that is
to say the stupidest--the reader who is most completely bamboozled
with the mystery, and yet intensely interested.

Such a reader has the support of knowing that the police are
entirely "baffled"--that's always the word for them; that the
public are "mystified"; that the authorities are "alarmed"; the
newspapers "in the dark"; and the Poor Nut, altogether up a tree.
On those terms, the reader can enjoy his own ignorance to the full.

A first-class insoluble crime having thus been well started, and
with the Poor Nut narrating it with his ingenuous interest, the
next stage in the mechanism of the story is to bring out the
personality of the Great Detective, and to show how terribly clever
he is.


When a detective story gets well started--when the "body" has been
duly found--and the "butler" or the "janitor" has been arrested--
when the police have been completely "baffled"--then is the time
when the Great Detective is brought in and gets to work.

But before he can work at all, or at least be made thoroughly
satisfactory to the up-to-date reader, it is necessary to touch him
up.  He can be made extremely tall and extremely thin, or even
"cadaverous."  Why a cadaverous man can solve a mystery better than
a fat man it is hard to say; presumably the thinner a man is, the
more acute is his mind.  At any rate, the old school of writers
preferred to have their detectives lean.  This incidentally gave
the detective a face "like a hawk," the writer not realizing that a
hawk is one of the stupidest of animals.  A detective with a face
like an orang-outang would beat it all to bits.

Indeed, the Great Detective's face becomes even more important than
his body.  Here there is absolute unanimity.  His face has to be
"inscrutable."  Look at it though you will, you can never read it.
Contrast it, for example, with the face of Inspector Higginbottom,
of the local police force.  Here is a face that can look
"surprised," or "relieved," or, with great ease, "completely

But the face of the Great Detective knows of no such changes.  No
wonder the Poor Nut, as we may call the person who is supposed to
narrate the story, is completely mystified.  From the face of the
great man you can't tell whether the cart in which they are driving
jolts him or whether the food at the Inn gives him indigestion.

To the Great Detective's face there used to be added the old-time
expedient of not allowing him either to eat or drink.  And when it
was added that during this same period of about eight days the
sleuth never slept, the reader could realize in what fine shape his
brain would be for working out his "inexorable chain of logic."

But nowadays this is changed.  The Great Detective not only eats,
but he eats well.  Often he is presented as a connoisseur in food.

"'Stop a bit,' thus speaks the Great Detective to the Poor Nut and
Inspector Higginbottom, whom he is dragging around with him as
usual; 'we have half an hour before the train leaves Paddington.
Let us have some dinner.  I know an Italian restaurant near here
where they serve frogs' legs à la Marengo better than anywhere else
in London.'

"A few minutes later we were seated at one of the tables of a dingy
little eating-place whose signboard with the words 'Restauranto
Italiano' led me to the deduction that it was an Italian
restaurant.  I was amazed to observe that my friend was evidently
well known in the place, while his order for 'three glasses of
Chianti with two drops of vermicelli in each,' called for an
obsequious bow from the appreciative padrone.  I realized that this
amazing man knew as much of the finesse of Italian wines as he did
of playing the saxophone."

We may go further.  In many up-to-date cases the detective not only
gets plenty to eat, but a liberal allowance of strong drink.  One
generous British author of to-day is never tired of handing out to
the Great Detective and his friends what he calls a "stiff whiskey
and soda."  At all moments of crisis they get one.

For example, when they find the Body of Sir Charles Althorpe, late
owner of Althorpe Chase, a terrible sight, lying on the floor of
the library, what do they do?  They reach at once to the sideboard
and pour themselves out a "stiff whiskey and soda."  Or when the
heroine learns that her guardian Sir Charles is dead and that she
is his heiress and when she is about to faint, what do they do?
They immediately pour "a stiff whiskey and soda" into her.  It is
certainly a great method.

But in the main we may say that all this stuff about eating and
drinking has lost its importance.  The great detective has to be
made exceptional by some other method.

And here is where his music comes in.  It transpires--not at once
but in the first pause in the story--that this great man not only
can solve a crime, but has the most extraordinary aptitude for
music, especially for dreamy music of the most difficult kind.  As
soon as he is left in the Inn room with the Poor Nut out comes his
saxophone and he tunes it up.

"'What were you playing?' I asked, as my friend at last folded his
beloved instrument into its case.

"'Beethoven's Sonata in Q,' he answered modestly.

"'Good Heavens!' I exclaimed."

Another popular method of making the Great Detective a striking
character is to show him as possessing a strange and varied range
of knowledge.  For example, the Poor Nut is talking with a third
person, the Great Detective being apparently sunk in reveries.  In
the course of the conversation the name of Constantinople is

"I was hardly aware that my friend was hearing what was said.

"He looked up quietly.

"'Constantinople?' he said.  'That was the capital of Turkey, was
it not?'

"I could not help marveling again how this strange being could have
acquired his minute and varied knowledge."

The Great Detective's personality having been thus arranged, he is
brought along with the Poor Nut and Inspector Higginbottom to
Althorpe Chase and it is now up to him to start to "solve" the
mystery.  Till a little while ago, the favorite way of having him
do this was by means of tracks, footprints, and other traces.  This
method, which has now worn threadbare, had a tremendous vogue.
According to it, the Great Detective never questioned anybody.

But his real work was done right at the scene of the crime,
crawling round on the carpet of the library, and wriggling about on
the grass outside.  After he has got up after two days of crawling,
with a broken blade of grass, he would sit down on a stone and play
the saxophone and then announce that the mystery is solved and tell
Inspector Higginbottom whom to arrest.  That was all.  He would not
explain anything but what the Poor Nut, half crazy with
mystification, begged him to do.

"'The case,' he at last explained very airily, 'has been a simple
one, but not without its features of interest.'

"'Simple!' I exclaimed.

"'Precisely,' said he; 'you see this blade of grass.  You tell me
that you see nothing.  Look at it again under this lense.  What do
you see?  The letters ACK clearly stamped, but in reverse, on the
soft green of the grass.  What do they mean?"

"'Nothing,' I groaned.

"'You are wrong,' he said, 'they are the last three letters of the
word DACK, the name of a well-known shoemaker in Market Croydon
four miles west of the Chase.'

"'Good Heavens,' I said.

"'Now look at this soft piece of mud which I have baked and which
carries a similar stamp,--ILTON.'

"'Ilton, Ilton,' I repeated, 'I fear it means less than ever.'

"'To you,' he said.  'Because you do not observe.  Did you never
note that makers of trousers nowadays stamp their trouser buttons
with their names.  These letters are the concluding part of the
name BILTON, one of the best-known tailors of Kings Croft, four
miles east of the Chase.'

"'Good Heavens!' I cried, 'I begin to see.'

"'Do you?' he said drily.  'Then no doubt you can piece together
the analysis.  Our criminal is wearing a pair of trousers, bought
in King's Croft, and a shoe bought in Market Croydon.  What do you
infer as to where he lives?'

"'Good Heavens,' I said, 'I begin to see it!'

"'Exactly,' said the Great Detective.  'He lives halfway between
the two!'

"'At the Chase itself!' I cried.  'What a fool I have been.'

"'You have,' he answered quietly."


But unfortunately the public has begun to find this method of
traces and tracks a "bit thick."  All these fond old literary
fictions are crumbling away.


In fact, they are being very largely replaced by the newer and much
more showy expedient that can be called the Method of Recondite
Knowledge.  The Great Detective is equipped with a sort of super-
scientific knowledge of things, materials, substances, chemistry,
actions, and reactions that would give him a Ph.D. degree in any
school of applied science.

Some of the best detectives of the higher fiction of to-day even
maintain a laboratory and a couple of assistants.  When they have
this, all they need is a little piece of dust or a couple of
micrometer sections and the criminal is as good as caught.

Thus, let us suppose that in the present instance Sir Charles
Althorpe has been done to death--as so many "elderly gentlemen"
were in the fiction of twenty years ago--by the intrusion into his
library of a sailor with a wooden leg newly landed from Java.
Formerly the crime would have been traced by the top heaviness of
his wooden leg--when the man drank beer at the Althorpe Arms, his
elbow on the side away from his leg would have left an impression
on the bar, similar to the one left where he climbed the window

But in the newer type of story the few grains of dust found near
the Body would turn out to be specks from the fiber of Java
cocoanut, such as is seen only on the decks of ships newly arrived
from Java, and on the clothes of the sailors.

But, by the one method or the other method, the "inexorable chain
of logic" can be completed to the last link.  The writer can't go
on forever; sooner or later he must own up and say who did it.
After two hundred pages, he finds himself up against the brutal
necessity of selecting his actual murderer.

So, now then, who did it?  Which brings us to the final phase of
the Detective Story.  Who really killed Sir Charles?



According to one very simple expedient, the murder was not
committed by any of the principal characters at all.  It was
committed BY A TRAMP.  It transpires that the tramp was passing the
Chase late that night and was attracted by the light behind the
curtain (as tramps are apt to be), and came and peered through the
window (as tramps love to do), and when he saw Sir Charles asleep
in his chair with the gold watch on the table beside him, he got
one of those sudden impulses (such as tramps get when they see a
gold watch), and, before he knew what he had done, he had lifted
the window and slipped into the room.

Sir Charles woke--and there you are.  All quite simple.  Indeed,
but for the telltale marks on the grass, or the telltale fiber on
the carpet, or the telltale something, the murderer would never
have been known.

And yet the solution seems paltry.  It seems a shame to drag in the
poor tattered creature at the very end and introduce and hang him
all in one page.

So we have to look round for some other plan.


A solution, which is a prime favorite with at least one very
distinguished contemporary author, is to have it turn out that the
In other words, it was committed by some casual person who just
came into the story for about half a second.

Let us make up a simple example.  At the Althorpe Arms Inn where
the Great Detective and the Poor Nut are staying while they
investigate the death of Sir Charles, we bring in, just for one
minute, "a burly-looking man in a check suit drinking a glass of
ale in the bar."  We ask him quite casually, if he can tell us
anything about the state of the road to Farringham.  He answers in
a surly way that he's a stranger to these parts and knows nothing
of it.  That's all.  He doesn't come in any more till the very end.

But a really experienced reader ought to guess at once that he
committed the murder.  Look at it: he's burly; and he's surly; and
he has a check suit; and he drinks ale; and he's a stranger; that's
enough.  Any good law court could hang him for that--in a detective
story, anyway.

When at last the truth dawns on the Poor Nut.

"'Great Heavens,' I exclaimed, 'the man in the check suit?'

"The Great Detective nodded.

"'But how on earth!' I exclaimed, more mystified than ever, 'were
you ever led to suspect it?'

"'From the very first,' said my friend, turning to Inspector
Higginbottom, who nodded in confirmation, 'we had a strong clew.'

"'A clew!' I exclaimed.

"'Yes, one of the checks on his coat had been cached.'

"'Cashed,' I cried.

"'You misunderstand me; not "cashed," CACHED.  He had cut it out
and hidden it.  A man who cuts out part of his coat and hides it on
the day after a crime is probably concealing something.'

"'Great Heavens!' I exclaimed, 'how obvious it sounds when you put
it that way.  To think that I never thought of it!'"


According to this method, the crime was committed by a thoroughly
bad, thoroughly dangerous woman, generally half foreign--which is
supposed to account for a lot.  She has just come into the story
casually--as a nurse, or as an assistant bookkeeper, or, more usual
and much better, as a "discarded flame" of somebody or other.

These discarded flames flicker all through detective literature as
a terrible warning to persons of a fickle disposition.  In any
case, great reliance is placed on foreign blood as accounting for
her.  For Anglo-Saxon readers, if you put a proper quantity of
foreign blood into a nurse and then discard her, that will do the
trick every time.

To show how thoroughly bad she is, the Dangerous Woman used to be
introduced by the writers of the Victorian age as smoking a
cigarette.  She also wore "high-heeled shoes and a skirt that
reached barely to her ankles."  In our time, she would have to do a
little better than that.  In short, as the key to a murder, we must
pass her by.  She would get acquitted every time.

Let us try something else.


According to this explanation of the mysterious crime, it turns
out, right at the end of the story, that the murder was not done by
any of the people suspected--neither by the Butler, nor the Half
Hero, nor the Tramp, nor the Dangerous Woman.  Not at all.  It was
the work of one of the most audacious criminals ever heard of
(except that the reader never heard of him till this second), the
head and brain of a whole gang of criminals, ramifying all over

This head criminal generally goes under some such terrible name as
Black Pete, or Yellow Charlie, or Blue Edward.  As soon as his name
is mentioned, then at once not only the Great Detective but
everybody else knows all about him--except only the reader and the
Nut, who is always used as a proxy for the reader in matters of
astonishment or simplicity of mind.

At the very height of the chase, a new murder, that of a deputy
police inspector (they come cheap; it's not like killing one of the
regular characters), is added to the main crime of killing Sir
Charles.  The manner of the murder--by means of a dropping bullet
fired three miles away with its trajectory computed by algebra--has
led to the arrest.  The Great Detective, CALCULATING BACK THE PATH
OF THE BULLET, has ordered by telephone the arrest of a man three
miles away.  As the Detective, the Nut, and the police stand
looking at the body of the murdered policeman, word comes from
Scotland Yard that the arrest is made:

"The Great Detective stood looking about him, quietly shaking his
head.  His eye rested a moment on the prostrate body of Sub-
Inspector Bradshaw, then turned to scrutinize the neat hole drilled
in the glass of the window.

"'I see it all now,' he murmured.  'I should have guessed it
sooner.  There is no doubt whose work this is.'

"'Who is it?' I asked.

"'Blue Edward,' he announced quietly.

"'Blue Edward!' I exclaimed.

"'Blue Edward,' he repeated.

"'Blue Edward!' I reiterated, 'but who then is Blue Edward?'"


This, of course, is the very question that the reader is wanting to
ask.  Who on earth is Blue Edward?  The question is answered at
once by the Great Detective himself.

"'The fact that you have never heard of Blue Edward merely shows
the world that you have lived in.  As a matter of fact, Blue Edward
is the terror of four continents.  We have traced him to Shanghai,
only to find him in Madagascar.  It was he who organized the
terrible robbery at Irkutsk in which ten mujiks were blown up with
a bottle of Epsom salts.

"'It was Blue Edward who for years held the whole of Philadelphia
in abject terror, and kept Oshkosh, Wisconsin, on the jump for even
longer.  At the head of a gang of criminals that ramifies all over
the known globe, equipped with a scientific education that enables
him to read and write and use a typewriter with the greatest ease,
Blue Edward has practically held the police of the world at bay for

"'I suspected his hand in this from the start.  From the very
outset, certain evidences pointed to the work of Blue Edward.'"

After which all the police inspectors and spectators keep shaking
their heads and murmuring, "Blue Edward, Blue Edward," until the
reader is sufficiently impressed.


The writing of a detective story, without a doubt, gets harder and
harder toward the end.  It is not merely the difficulty of finding
a suitable criminal; there is added the difficulty of knowing what
to do with him.  It is a tradition of three centuries of novel
writing that a story ought to end happily.  But in this case, how
end up happily?

For example, here we have Blue Edward, caught at last, with
handcuffs on his wrists--Blue Edward, the most dangerous criminal
that ever interwove the underworld into a solid mesh; Blue Edward,
who--well, in fact, the whole aim of the writer only a little while
before was to show what a heller Blue Edward was.  True, we never
heard of him until near the end of the book, but when he DID get in
we were told that his Gang had ramified all the way from Sicily to
Oklahoma.  Now, what are we to do?

If it is not Blue Edward, then we've got to hang the Tramp--the
poor tattered creature who fried potatoes by the hedge.  But we are
called upon to notice that now he has "a singularly vacant eye."
You can hardly hang a man with a vacant eye.  It doesn't do.

What if we send him to prison for life?  But that's pretty cold
stuff, too--sitting looking at four stone walls with a vacant eye
for forty years.  In fact, the more we think of it, the less
satisfied we are with hanging the Tramp.  Personally I'd rather
hang Meadows the Butler, as we first set out to do, or I'd hang the
Nut or the Thoroughly Bad Woman, or any of them.

In the older fiction, they used to face this problem fairly and
squarely.  They hanged them--and apparently they liked it.  But
nowadays we can't do it.  We have lost the old-fashioned solid
satisfaction in it, so we have to look round for another solution.
Here is one, a very favorite one with our sensitive generation.  If
I had to give it a name, I would call it--


The method of it is very simple.  Blue Edward, or whoever is to be
"it," is duly caught.  There's no doubt of his guilt.  But at the
moment when the Great Detective and the Ignorant Police are
examining him he develops a "hacking cough."  Indeed, as he starts
to make his confession, he can hardly talk for hacks.

"'Well,' says the criminal, looking round at the little group of
police officers, 'the game is up--hack! hack!--and I may as well
make a clean breast of it--hack, hack, hack.'"

Any trained reader when he hears these hacks knows exactly what
they are to lead up to.  The criminal, robust though he seemed only
a chapter ago when he jumped through a three-story window after
throttling Sub-Inspector Juggins half to death, is a dying man.  He
has got one of those terrible diseases known to fiction as a
"mortal complaint."  It wouldn't do to give it an exact name, or
somebody might get busy and cure it.  The symptoms are a hacking
cough and a great mildness of manner, an absence of all profanity,
and a tendency to call everybody "you gentlemen."  Those things
spell finis.

In fact, all that is needed now is for the Great Detective himself
to say, "Gentlemen" (they are all gentlemen at this stage of the
story), "a higher conviction than any earthly law has, et cetera,
et cetera."  With that, the curtain is dropped, and it is
understood that the criminal made his exit the same night.

That's better, decidedly better.  And yet, lacking in cheerfulness,

It is just about as difficult to deal with the Thoroughly Bad
Woman.  The general procedure is to make her raise a terrible
scene.  When she is at last rounded up and caught, she doesn't "go
quietly" like the criminal with the hacking cough or the repentant
tramp.  Not at all.  She raises--in fact, she is made to raise so
much that the reader will be content to waive any prejudice about
the disposition of criminals, to get her out of the story.

"The woman's face as Inspector Higginbottom snapped the handcuffs
on her wrists was livid with fury.

"'Gur-r-r-r-r-r!' she hissed."

(This was her favorite exclamation and shows the high percentage of
her foreign blood.)

"'Gu-r-r-r-r!  I hate you all.  Do what you like with me.  I would
kill him again a thousand times, the old fool.'

"She turned furiously towards my friend (the Great Detective).

"'As for you,' she said, 'I hate you.  Gur-r-r!  See, I spit at
you.  Gur-r-r-r!'"

In that way, the Great Detective gets his, though, of course, his
impassive face never showed a sign.  Spitting on him doesn't faze
him.  Then she turns on the Heroine and gives her what's coming to

"'And you!  Gur-r-r!  I despise you, with your baby face!  Gur-r-r!
And now you think you will marry him!  I laugh at you!  Ha!  Ha!

And after that she turns on the Nut and gives him some, and then
some for Inspector Higginbottom, and thus with three "Gur-r-r's"
for everybody and a "Ha! ha!" as a tiger, off she goes.


But, take it which way you will, the ending is never satisfactory.
Not even the glad news that the Heroine sank into the Poor Nut's
arms, never to leave them again, can relieve the situation.  Not
even the knowledge that they erected a handsome memorial to Sir
Charles, or that the Great Detective played the saxophone for a
week can quite compensate us.



The Epilogue of This Book

If this book has in it any general theme, it is the contrast
between yesterday and to-day, between to-day and to-morrow; the
contrast between the life of the past and that of the future.

Nor is the contrast in the aspect of life alone.  The circumstance
and setting of even Death itself have altered.  As witness, what
here follows:


The descendants of the people who were chronicled by the poet Gray,
in his immortal Elegy, more than a century and a half ago, came
out, many of them, to America.  They left the country for the city.
They became a part of the vast unnumbered working population of the
industrial centers of the American continent.  They knew no longer
the drooping elms and the yew tree's shade where the turf heaved in
many a moldering heap.  And in their new environment the aspect and
complexion even of Death for them was altered.

With it changed their Elegy and Epitaph: till now, with no thought
of a parody, but only of adaptation, it may well run thus:

     The factory whistles blow across the way,
     Some cattle in a freight car still I see.
     The employees have finished for the day,
     And there is no one on the street but me.

     Now they have lighted the electric light,
     And all the people in the stores have gone,
     Except the cop on duty for the night,
     And round the corner p'rhaps a motor horn.

     Save that from yonder little railway tower,
     The Switchman now often is heard complain,
     When some one in a motor at this hour
     Compels him to lift up his gates again.

     Here on the corner of this policeman's beat,
     A Funeral Parlor Open Day and Night,
     Shows where the decent people of the street
     Have one by one passed out of human sight.

     No morning whistle blowing six o'clock,
     No morning street car clattering down the track,
     No morning milkman singing round the block,
     Shall call them from their funeral parlor back.

     For them no more the radiator coil
     Shall warm the parlor for their coming home;
     No busy wife put coffee on to boil,
     Nor little folks turn on the gramophone.

     Yet these were boys who once could hustle hard,
     Full time and overtime for six days straight
     They worked in factory or railroad yard,
     Or poured their pig-iron into boiler plate.

     Let not the people in the upper town,
     The class of supercilious social pup,
     The people on the boulevards look down
     On what they did because they were hard up.

     The social column, social graft and pull
     And all the high-class beauty parlors do,
     What does it come to when the time is full?
     The crematorium awaits them too.

     A bang-up funeral, a motor hearse,
     A write-up in the papers, lots of space,--
     What good is that?  These boys are none the worse
     Because they only had this little place.

     Some men more full of brains than you would think
     Have passed perhaps this undertaker's wicket,
     Who might have been elected, but for drink,
     To Congress on the Democratic ticket.

     Here, say, was one who had the mental range,
     But for the schooling he could not afford,
     To make a fortune on the Stock Exchange,
     As big a man perhaps as Henry Ford.

     The trouble was they never went to school,
     Or never got enough to make it tell,
     Straight poverty just made each seem a fool,
     And sort of paralyzed his brains as well.

     Of course, you take it on the other hand,
     The very ignorance that made them fail,
     The very things they didn't understand,
     Combined, perhaps, to keep them out of jail.


     I'd like to add my epitaph to theirs,
     Just as Gray did with his to glory 'em,
     And promise when I settle my affairs
     To join them in their crematorium.


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