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Full text of "Literary lapses"

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CORNELL 

UNIVERSITY 

LIBRARY 



BOUGHT WITH THE INCOME 
OF THE SAGE ENDOWMENT 
FUND GIVEN IN 189I BY 

HENRY WILLIAMS SAGE 



nn «^.- Cornell University Library 
PR 9199.3.L43L7 1918 

Literary lapses / 

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The original of tliis book is in 
tine Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 



http://www.archive.org/details/cu31924007374873 



LITERARY LAPSES 



LITER J R r LAPSES 

BT STEPHETTTeACOCK 



NEW YORK: JOHN LANE COMPANY 

LONDON: JOHN LANE, THE BODLEY HEAD 

MCMXVm 



CONTENTS 



Page 

My Financial Career 9 

Lord Oxhead's Secret 15 

boarding-house geometry 26 

The Awful Fate of Melfomenus Jones . 28 

A Christmas Letter 33 

How to Make a Million Dollars ... 35 

How TO Live to Be 200 42 

How TO Avoid Getting Married ... 48 

How TO Be a Doctor 54 

The New Food 62 

A New Pathology 65 

The Poet Answered 72 

The Force of Statistics 74 

Men Who Have Shaved Me 77 

Getting the Thread of It 85 

Telling His Faults ,92 

Winter Pastimes 95 

Number Fifty-Six 102 

Aristocratic Education 113 

The Conjurer's Revenge 117 

Hints to Travellers 122 

S 



Contents 



A Manual of Education 127 

Hoodoo McFiggin's Christmas .... 132 

The Life of John Smith 138 

On Collecting Things 14S 

Society Chit-Chat 150 

Insurance Up to Date 156 

Borrowing a Match 159 

A Lesson in Fiction 162 

Helping the Armenians "'. 169 

A Study in Still Life. — ^The Country Hotel 172 

An Experiment with Policeman Hogan . 175 

The Passing of the Poet 185 

Self-made Men 194 

A Model Dialogue 200 

Back to the Bush 203 

Reflections on Riding 212 

Saloonio 216 

Half-hours with the Poets — 

I. Mr. Wordsworth and the Little 

Cottage Girl 222 

n. How Tennyson Killed the May 

Queen 227 

HL Old Mr. Longfellow on Board the 

"Hesperus" 231 

A, B, AND C 237 



LITERARY LAPSES 



LITERARY LAPSES 

My Financial Career 

WHEN I go into a bank I get rat- 
tled. The clerks rattle me; the 
wickets rattle me; the sight of 
the money rattles me; every- 
thing rattles me. 

The moment I cross the threshold of a bank 
and attempt to transact business there, I be- 
come an irresponsible idiot. 

I knew this beforehand, but my salary had 
been raised to fifty dollars a month and I felt 
that the bank was the only place for it. 

So I shambled in and looked timidly round 
at the clerks. I had an idea that a person 
about to open an account must needs consult 
the manager. 

I went up to a wicket marked "Account- 
ant." The accountant was a tall, cool devil. 
The very sight of him rattled me. My voice 
was sepulchral. 

"Can I see the manager?" I said, and 

9 



lAterary Lapses 



added solemnly, "alone." I don't know why 
I said "alone." 

"Certainly," said the accountant, and 
fetched him. 

The manager was a grave, calm man. I 
held my fiftyrsix dollars clutched in a crumpled 
ball in my pocket. 

"Are you the manager?" I said. God 
knows I didn't doubt it. 

"Yes," he said. 

"Can I see you," I asked, "alone?" I 
didn't want to say "alone" again, but without 
it the thing seemed self-evident. 

The manager looked at me in some alarm. 
He felt that I had an awful secret to reveal. 

"Come in here," he said, and led the way 
to a private room. He turned the key in the 
lock. 

"We are safe from interruption here," he 
said; "sit down." 

We both sat down and looked at each other. 
I found no voice to speak. 

"You are one of Pinkerton's men, I pre- 
sume," he said. 

He had gathered from my mysterious man- 
ner that I was a detective. I knew what he 
was thinking, and it made me worse, 

10 



My Financial Career 



"No, not from Pinkerton's," I said, seeming 
to imply that I came from a rival agency. 

"To tell the truth," I went on, as if I had 
been prompted to He about it, "I am not a de- 
tective at all. I have come to open an ac- 
count. I intend to keep all my money in this 
bank." 

The manager looked relieved but still seri- 
ous; he concluded now that I was a son of 
Baron Rothschild or a young Gould. 

"A large account, I suppose," he said. 

"Fairly large," I whispered. "I propose to 
deposit fifty-six dollars now and fifty dollars 
a month regularly." 

The manager got up and opened the door. 
He called to the accountant. 

"Mr. Montgomery," he said unkindly loud, 
"this gentleman is opening an account, he will 
deposit fifty-six dollars. Good morning." 

I rose. 

A big iron door stood open at the side of 
the room. 

"Good morning," I said, and stepped into 
the safe. 

"Come out," said the manager coldly, and 
showed me the other way. 

I went up to the accountant's wicket and 
II 



Literary Lapses 

poked the ball of money at him with a quick 
convulsive movement as if I were doing a con- 
juring trick. 

My face was ghastly pale. 

"Here," I said, "deposit it." The tone of 
the words seemed to mean, "Let us do this 
painful thing while the fit is on us." 

He took the money and gave it to another 
clerk. 

He made me write the sum on a slip and 
sign my name in a book. I no longer knew 
what I was doing. The bank swam before 
my eyes. 

"Is it deposited?" I asked in a hollow, vi- 
brating voice. 

"It is," said the accountant. 

"Then I want to draw a cheque." 

My idea was to draw out six dollars of it 
for present use. Someone gave me a cheque- 
book through a wicket and someone else be- 
gan telling me how to write it out. The peo- 
ple in the bank had the impression that I was 
an invalid millionaire. I wrote something on 
the cheque and thrust it in at the clerk. He 
looked at it. 

"What! are you drawing it all out again?" 
he asked in surprise. Then I realised that I 



My Financial Career 



had written fifty-six instead of six. I was too 
far gone to reason now. I had a feeling that 
it was impossible to explain the thing. All the 
clerks had stopped writing to look, at me. 

Reckless with misery, I made a plunge. 

"Yes, the whole thing." 

"You withdraw your money from the 
bank?" 

"Every cent of it." 

"Are you not going to deposit any more?" 
said the clerk, astonished. 

"Never." 

An idiot hope struck me that they might 
think something had insulted me while I was 
writing the cheque and that I had changed my 
mind. I made a wretched attempt to look like 
a man with a fearfully quick temper. 

The clerk prepared to pay the money. 

"How will you have it?" he said. 

"What?" 

"How will you have it?" . 

"Oh" — I caught his meaning and answered 
without even trying to think — "in fifties." 

He gave me a fifty-dollar bill. 

"And the six?" he asked dryly. 

"In sixes," I said. 

He gave it me and I rushed out. 
13 



JUterary Lapses 



As the big door swung behind me I caught 
the echo of a roar of laughter that went up to 
the ceiling of the bank. Since then I bank no 
more. I keep my money in cash in my trou- 
sers pocket and my savings in silver dollars in 
a sock. 



14 



Lord Oxhead's Secret 



A ROMANCE IN ONE CHAPTER 

IT was finished. Ruin had come. Lord 
Oxhead sat gazing fixedly at the library 
fire. Without, the wind soughed (or 
sogged) around the turrets of Oxhead 
Towers, the seat of the Oxhead family. But 
the old earl heeded not the sogging of the wind 
around his seat. He was too absorbed. 

Before him lay a pile of blue papers with 
printed headings. From time to time he 
turned them over in his hands and replaced 
them on the table with a groan. To the earl 
they meant ruin — absolute, irretrievable ruin, 
and with it the loss of his stately home that 
had been the pride of the Oxheads for genera- 
tions. More than that — ^the world would now 
know the awful secret of his life. 

The earl bowed his head in the bitterness 
(of his sorrow, for he came of a proud stock. 
About him hung the portraits of his ancestors. 
Here on the right an Oxhead who had broken 
his lance at Crecy, or immediately before it. 

IS 



IMerary Lapses 



There McWhinnie Oxhead who had ridden 
madly from the stricken field of Flodden to 
bring to the affrighted burghers of Edinburgh 
all the tidings that he had been able to gather 
in passing the battlefield. Next him hung the 
dark half Spanish face of Sir Amyas Oxhead 
of Elizabethan days whose pinnace was the 
first to dash to Plymouth with the news that 
the English fleet, as nearly as could be 
judged from a reasonable distance, seemed 
about to grapple with the Spanish Armada. 
Below this, the two Cavalier brothers, Giles 
and Everard Oxhead, who had sat in the oak 
with Charles II. Then to the right again the 
portrait of Sir Ponsonby Oxhead who had 
fought with Wellington in Spain, and been dis- 
missed for it. 

Immediately before the earl as he sat was 
the family escutcheon emblazoned above the 
mantelpiece. A child might read the sim- 
plidty of its proud significance — an ox ram- 
pant quartered in a field of gules with a pike 
dexter and a dog intermittent in a plain paral- 
lelogram right centre, with the motto, "Hie, 
haec, hoc, hujus, hujus, hujus." 

* * * ^. * 

16 



Lord Oxhead's Secret 



,^ "Pather!" — ^The girl's voice rang clear 
through the half light of the wainscoted li- 
brary. Gwendoline Oxhead had thrown her- 
self about the earl's neck. The girl was radi- ' 
ant with happiness. Gwendoline was a beau- 
tiful girl of thirty-three, typically English in 
the freshness of her girlish innocence. She 
wore one of those charming walking suits of 
brown holland so fashionable among the aris- 
tocracy of England, while a rough leather belt 
encircled her waist in a single sweep. She bore 
herself with that sweet simplicity which was 
her greatest charm. She was probably more 
simple than any girl of her age for miles 
around. Gwendoline was the pride of her 
father's heart, for he saw reflected in her the 
qualities of his race. 

"Father," she said, a blush mantling her 
fair face, "I am so happy, oh so happy; Edwin 
has asked me to be his wife, and we have 
plighted our troth — at least if you consent. 
For I will never marry without my father's 
warrant," she added, raising her head proudly; 
"I am too much of an Oxhead for that." 

Then as she gazed into the old earl's 
stricken face, the girl's mood changed at once. 
"Father," she cried, "father, are you ill? 

i7i 



lAterary Lapses 



What is it? Shall I ring?" As she spoke 
Gwendoline reached for the heavy bell-rope 
that hung beside the wall, but the earl, fearful 
that her frenzied efforts might actually make 
it ring, checked her hand. "I am, indeed, 
deeply troubled," said Lord Oxhead, "but of 
that anon. Tell me first what is this news 
you bring. I hope, Gwendoline, that your 
choice has been worthy of an Oxhead, and that 
he to whom you have plighted your troth will 
be worthy to bear our motto with his own." 
And, raising his eyes to the escutcheon before 
him, the earl murmured half unconsciously, 
"Hie, haec, hoc, hujus, hujus, hujus," breath- 
ing perhaps a prayer as many of his ancestors 
had done before him that he might never for- 
get it. 

"Father," continued Gwendoline,, half tim- 
idly, "Edwin is an American." 

"You surprise me indeed," answered Lord 
Oxhead; "and yet," he continued, turning to 
his daughter with the courtly grace that 
marked the nobleman of the old school, "why 
should we not respect and admire the Ameri- 
cans? Surely there have been great names 
among them. Indeed, our ancestor Sir Amyas 
Oxhead was, I think, married to Pocahontas 

i8 



Liord Oxhead's Secret 



— at least if not actually married" — -the earl 
hesitated a moment. 

"At least they loved one another," said 
Gwendoline simply. 

"Precisely," said the earl, with relief, "they 
loved one another, yes, exactly." Then as if 
musing to himself, "Yes, there have been great 
Americans. Bolivar was an American. The 
two Washington^ — George and Booker — are 
both Americans. There have been others too, 
though for the moment I do not recall their 
names. But tell me, Gwendoline, this Edwin 
of yours — ^where is his family seat?" 

"It is at Oshkosh, Wisconsin, father." 

"Ah! say you so?" rejoined the earl, with 
rising interest. "Oshkosh is, indeed, a grand 
old name. The Oshkosh are a Russian family. 
An Ivan Oshkosh came to England with Peter 
the Great and married my ancestress. Their 
descendant in the second degree once removed, 
Mixtup Oshkosh, fought at the burning of 
Moscow and later at the sack of Salamanca 
and the treaty of Adrianople. And Wisconsin 
too," the old nobleman went on, his features 
kindling with animation, for he had a passion 
for heraldry, genealogy, chronology, and com- 
mercial geography; "the Wisconsins, or better, 

ig 



Literary Lapses 

I think, the Guisconslns, are of old blood. A 
Guisconsin followed Henry I to Jerusalem and 
rescued my ancestor Hardup Oxhead from the 
Saracens. Another Guisconsin . . ." 

"Nay, father," said Gwendoline, gently in- 
terrupting, "Wisconsin is not Edwin's own 
name: that is, I believe, the name of his es- 
tate. My lover's name is Edwin Einstein." 

"Einstein," repeated the earl dubiously — ■ 
"an Indian name perhaps; yet the Indians are 
many of them of excellent family. An ances- 
tor of mine . . ." 

"Father," said Gwendoline, again inter- 
rupting, "here is a portrait of Edwin. Judge 
for yourself if he be noble." With this she 
placed in her father's hand an American tin- 
type, tinted in pink and brown. The picture 
represented a typical specimen of American 
manhood of that Anglo-Semitic type so often 
seen in persons of mixed English and Jewish 
extraction. The figure was well over five feet 
two inches in height and broad in proportion. 
The graceful sloping shoulders harmonised 
with the slender and well-poised waist, and 
with a hand pliant and yet prehensile. The 
pallor of the features was relieved by a droop- 
ing black moustache. 



Lord Oxhead's Secret 



Such was Edwin Einstein to whom Gwen- 
doline's heart, if not her hand, was already 
affianced. Their love had been so simple and 
yet so strange. It seemed to Gwendoline that it 
was but a thing of yesterday, and yet in reality 
they had met three weeks ago. Love had 
drawn them irresistibly together. To Edwin 
the fair English girl with her old name and 
wide estates possessed a charm that he scarcely 
dared confess to himself. He determined to 
woo her. To Gwendoline there was that in 
Edwin's bearing, the rich jewels that he wore, 
the vast fortune that rumour ascribed to him, 
that appealed to something romantic and 
chivalrous in her nature. She loved to hear 
him speak of stocks and bonds, corners and 
margins, and his father's colossal business. It 
all seemed so noble and so far above the sordid 
lives of the people about her. Edwin, too, 
loved to hear the girl talk of her father's es- 
tates, of the diamond-hilted sword that the 
saladin had given, or had lent, to her ancestor 
hundreds of years ago. Her description of 
her father, the old earl, touched something ro- 
mantic in Edwin's generous heart. He was 
never tired of asking how old he was, was he 
rob. .it, did a shock, a sudden shock, affect him 

21 



lAterary Lapses 



much? and so on. Then had come the eve- 
ning that Gwendoline loved to live over and 
over again in her mind when Edwin had asked 
her in his straightforward, manly way, whether 
— subject to certain written stipulations to be 
considered later — she would be his wife: 
and she, putting her hand confidingly in his 
hand, answered simply, that — subject to the 
consent of her father and pending always the 
necessary legal formalities and inquiries — she 
would. 

It had all seemed like a dream: and now 
Edwin Einstein had come in person to ask her 
hand from the earl, her father. Indeed, he 
was at this moment in the outer hall testing 
the gold leaf in the picture-frames with his 
pen-knife while waiting for his affianced to 
break the fateful news to Lord Oxhead. 

Gwendoline summoned her courage for a 
great effort. "Papa," she said, "there is one 
other thing that it is fair to tell you. Edwin's 
father is in business." 

The earl started from his seat in blank 
amazement. "In business!" he repeated, "the 
father of the suitor of the daughter of an Ox- 
head in business! My daughter the step- 
daughter of the grandfather of my grandson! 

22 



Ijord Oxhead's Secret 



Are you mad, girl? It is too much, too 
much!" 

"But, father," pleaded the beautiful girl in 
anguish, "hear me. It is Edwin's father — 
Sarcophagus Einstein, senior — not Edwin him- 
self. Edwin does nothing. He has never 
earned a penny. He is quite unable to support 
himself. You have only to see him to believe 
it. Indeed, dear father, he is just like us. He 
is here now, in this house, waiting to see you. 
If it were not for his great wealth . . ." 

"Girl," said the early sternly, "I care 
not for the man's riches. How much has 
he?" 

"Fifteen million two hundred and fifty thou- 
sand dollars," answered Gwendoline. Lord 
Oxhead leaned his head against the mantel- 
piece. His mind was in a whirl. He was try- 
ing to calculate the yearly interest on fifteen 
and a quarter million dollars at four and a half 
per cent reduced to pounds, shillings, and pence. 
It was bootless. His brain, trained by long 
years of high living and plain thinking, had 
become too subtle, too refined an instrument 
for arithmetic. . . . 

***** 

2i 



lAterary Lapses 



At this moment the door opened and Ed- 
win Einstein stood before the earl. Gwen- 
doline never forgot what happened. Through 
her life the picture of it haunted her — ^her 
lover upright at the door, his fine frank gaze 
fixed inquiringly on the diamond pin in her 
father's necktie, and he, her father, raising 
from the mantelpiece a face of agonised amaze- 
ment. 

"You! You!" he gasped. For a moment 
he stood to his full height, swaying and grop- 
ing in the air, then fell prostrate his full length 
upon the floor. The lovers rushed to his aid. 
Edwin tore open his neckcloth and plucked 
aside his diamond pin to give him air. But 
it was too late. Earl Oxhead had breathed his 
last. Life had fled. The earl was extinct. 
That is to say, he was dead. 

The reason of his death was never known. 
Had the sight of Edwin killed him ? It might 
have. The old family doctor hurriedly sum- 
moned declared his utter ignorance. This, 
too, was likely. Edwin himself could explain 
nothing. But it was observed that after the 
earl's death and his marriage with Gwendoline 
he was a changed man; he dressed better, 
talked much better English. 

34 



Lord Oxhead's Secret 



The wedding itself was quiet, almost sad. 
At Gwendoline's request there was no wedding 
breakfast, no bridesmaids, and no reception, 
while Edwin, respecting his bride's bereave- 
ment, insisted that there should be no best 
man, no flowers, no presents, and no honey- 
moon. 

Thus Lord Oxhead's secret died with him. 
It was probably too complicated to be inter- 
esting anyway. 



as 



Boarding-House Geometry 



DEFINITIONS ANI} AXIOMS 

ALL boarding-houses are the same 
boarding-house. 
Boarders in the same boarding- 
house and on the same flat are equal 
to one another. 

A single room is that which has no parts 
and no magnitude. 

The landlady of a boarding-house is a par- 
allelogram — that is, an oblong angular figure, 
which cannot be described, but which is equal 
to anything. 

A wrangle is the disinclination of two board- 
ers to each other that meet together but are 
not in the same line. 

All the other rooms being taken, a single 
room is said to be a double room. 

POSTULATES AND PROPOSITIONS 

A pie may be produced any number of 
times, 

26 



Boarding-House Geometry 

# ^ 

The landlady can be reduced to her lowest 
terms by a series of propositions. 

A bee line may be made from any boarding- 
house to any other boarding-house. 

The clothes of a boarding-house bed, though 
produced ever so far both ways, will not meet. 

Any two meals at a boarding-house are to- 
gether less than two square meals. 

If from the opposite ends of a boarding- 
house a line be drawn passing through all the 
rooms in turn, then the stovepipe which warms 
the boarders will lie within that line. 

On the same bill and on the same side of it 
there should not be two charges for the same 
thing. 

If there be two boarders on the same flat, 
and the amount of side of the one be equal to 
the amount of side of the other, each to each, 
and the wrangle between one boarder and the 
landlady be equal to the wrangle between the 
landlady and the other, then shall the weekly 
bills of the two boarders be equal also, each 
to each. 

For if not, let one bill be the greater. 

Then the other bill is less than it might have 
been — ^which is absurd. 



27 



The Awful Fate of Melpomenus Jones 

SOME people — ^not you nor I, because 
we are so awfully self-possessed — ^but 
some people, find great difficulty In 
saying good-bye when making a call or 
spending the evening. As the moment draws 
near when the visitor feels that he is fairly en- 
titled to go away he rises and says abruptly, 
"Well, I think I . . ." Then the people say, 
"Oh,' must you go now ? Surely It's early yet I" 
and a pitiful struggle ensues. 

I think the saddest case of this kind of thing 
that I ever knew was that of my poor friend 
Melpomenus Jones, a curate — such a dear 
young man, and only twenty-three! He sim- 
ply couldn't get away from people. He was 
too modest to tell a He, and too religious to 
wish to appear rude. Now it happened that 
he went to call on some friends of his on the 
very first afternoon of his summer vacation. 
The next six weeks were entirely his own — 
absolutely nothing to do. He chatted awhile, 
drank two cups of tea, then braced himself 
for the effort and said suddenly: 



i The Awful Fate of Melpomenus Jones 

"Well, I think I . . ." 

But the lady of the house said, "Oh, no! Mr. 
Jones, can't you really stay a little longer?" 

Jones was always truthful. "Oh, yes," he 
said, "of course, I — er — can stay." 

"Then please don't go." 

He stayed. He drank eleven cups of tea. 
Night was falling. He rose again. 

"Well now," he said shyly, "I think I 
really . . ." 

"You must go?" said the lady politely. "I 
thought perhaps you could have stayed to din- 
ner . . ." 

"Oh well, so I could, you know," Jones said, 
"if . . ." 

"Then please stay, I'm sure my hushand will 
be delighted." 

"All right," he said feebly, "I'll stay," and 
he sank back into his chair, just full of tea, 
and miserable. 

Papa came home. They had dinner. All 
through the meal Jones sat planning to leave 
at eight-thirty. AH the family wondered 
whether Mr. Jones was stupid and sulky, or 
only stupid. 

After dinner mamma undertook to "draw 
him out," and showed him photographs. She 

39 



lAterary Lapses 

showed him all the family museum, several 
gross of them — photos of papa's uncle and his 
wife, and mamma's brother and his little boy, 
an awfully interesting photo of papa's uncle's 
friend in his Bengal uniform, an awfully well- 
taken photo of papa's grandfather's partner's 
dog, and an awfully wicked one of papa as the 
devil for a fancy-dress ball. 

At eight-thirty Jones had examined sevfinty- 
one photographs. There were about sixty- 
nine more that he hadn't. Jones rose. 
' "I must say good night now," he pleaded. 

"Say good night!" they said, "why it's 
only half-past eight! Have you anything to 
do?" 

"Nothing," he admitted, and muttered some- 
thing about staying six weeks, and then laughed 
miserably. 

Just then it turned out that the favourite 
child of the family, such a dear little romp, 
had hidden Mr. Jones's hat; so papa said that 
he must stay, and invited him to a pipe and 
a chat. Papa had the pipe and gave Jones 
the chat, and still he stayed. Every moment 
he meant to take the plunge, but couldn't. 
Then papa began to get very tired of Jones, 
and fidgeted and finally said, with jocular irony, 

3« 



The Awful Fate of Melpomenus Jones 

that Jones had better stay all night, they could 
give him a shake-down. Jones mistook his 
meaning and thanked him with tears in his eyes, 
and papa put Jones to bed in the spare room 
and cursed him heartily. 

After breakfast next day, papa went off to 
his work in the City, and left Jones playing 
with the baby, broken-hearted. His nerve was 
utterly gone. He was meaning to leave all 
day, but the thing had got on his mind and he 
simply couldn't. When papa came home in the 
evening he was surprised and chagrined to find 
Jones still there. He thought to jockey him 
out with a jest, and said he thought he'd have 
to charge him for his board, he ! he 1 The un- 
happy young man stared wildly for a moment, 
then wrung papa's hand, paid him a month's 
board in advance, and broke down and sobbed 
like a child. 

In the days that followed he was moody 
and unapproachable. He lived, of course, en- 
tirely in the drawing-room, and the lack of 
air and exercise began to tell sadly on his 
health. He passed his time in drinking tea 
and looking at the photographs. He would 
stand for hours gazing at the photographs of 
papa's uncle's friend in his Bengal uniform — 

31 



Literary Lapses 



talking to it, sometimes swearing bitterly at 
it. His mind was visibly failing. 

At length the crash came. They carried 
him upstairs in a raging delirium of fever. 
The illness that followed was terrible. He 
recbgnised no one, not even papa's uncle's 
friend in his Bengal uniform. At times he 
would start up from his bed and shriek, "Well, 
I think I . . ." and then fall back upon the 
pillow with a horrible laugh. Then, again, he 
would leap up and cry, "Another cup of tea 
and more photographs! More photographs I 
Harl Har!" 

At length, after a month of agony, on the 
last day of his vacation, he passed away. They 
say that when the last moment came, he sat 
up in bed with a beautiful smile of confidence 
playing upon his face, and said, "Well — the 
angels are calling me ; I'm afraid I really must 
go now. Good afternoon." 

And the rushing of his spirit from its prison- 
house was as rapid as a hunted cat passing over 
a garden fence. 



32 



A Christmas Letter 



(In answer to a young lady who has sent an invita- 
tion to be present at a children's party) 

MADEMOISELLE, 
Allow me very gratefully but 
firmly to refuse your kind invi- 
tation. You doubtless mean well ; 
but your ideas are unhappily mistaken. 

Let us understand one another once and for 
all. I cannot at my mature age participate 
in the sports of children with siich abandon 
as I could wish. I entertain, and have al- 
ways entertained, the sincerest regard for 
such games as Hunt-the-Slipper and Blind- 
Man's Buff. But I have now reached a time 
of life, when, to have my eyes blindfolded and 
to have a powerful boy of ten hit me in the 
back with a hobby-horse and ask me to guess 
who hit me, provokes me to a fit of retaliation 
which could only culminate in reckless crimi- 
nality. Nor can I cover my shoulders with a 
drawing-room rug and crawl round on my 
hands and knees under the pretence that I am 
a bear without a sense of personal insufficiency, 
which is painful to me. 

Neither can I look on with a complacent eye 

33 



lAterary Lapses 



at the sad spectacle of your young clerical 
friend, the Reverend Mr, Uttermost Farthing, 
abandoning himself to such gambols and ap- 
pearing in the role of life and soul of the eve- 
ning. Such a degradation of his holy calling 
grieves me, and I cannot but suspect him of 
ulterior motives. 

You inform me that your maiden aunt in- 
tends to help you to entertain the party, I 
have not, as you know, the honour of your 
aunt's acquaintance, yet I think I may with 
reason surmise that she will orgahise games 
— guessing games — in which she will ask me 
to name a river in Asia beginning with a Z; 
on my failure to do so she will put a hot plate 
down my neck as a forfeit, and the children 
will clap their hands. These games, my dear 
young friend, involve the use of a more adapt- 
able intellect than mine, and I cannot consent 
to be a party to them. 

May I say in conclusion that I do not con- 
sider a five-cent pen-wiper from the top 
branch of a Xmas tree any adequate compensa- 
tion for the kind of evening you propose. 
I have the honour 

To subscribe myself, 

Your obedient servant, 

34 



Hoio to Make a Million Dollars 

I MIX a good deal with the Millionaires. 
I like them. I like their faces, I like 
the way they live. I like the things they 
eat. The more we mix together the bet- 
ter I like the things we mix. 

Especially I like the way they dress, their 
grey check trousers, their white check waist- 
coats, their heavy gold chains, and the signet- 
rings that they sign their cheques with. Myl 
they look nice. Get six or seven of them sit- 
ting together in the club and it's a treat to see 
them. And if they get the least dust on them, 
men come and brush it off. Yes, and are glad 
to. I'd like to take some of the dust off them 
myself. 

Even more than what they eat I like their 
intellectual grasp. It is wonderful. Just 
watch them read. They simply read all the 
time. Go into the club at any hour and you'll 
see three or four of them at it. And the 
things they can readl You'd think that a 
man who'd been driving hard in the office from 
eleven o'clock until three, with only an hour 

3S 



laterary Lapses 



and a half for lunch, would be too fagged. 
Not a bit. These men can sit down after of- 
fice hours and read the Sketch and the Police 
Gazette and the Pink Uh, and understand the 
jokes just as well as I can. 

What I love to do is to walk up and down 
among them and catch the little scraps of con- 
versation. The other day I heard one lean 
forward and say, "Well, I offered him a mil- 
lion and a half and said I wouldn't give a 
cent more, he could either take it or leave 

it " I just longed to break in and say, 

"What I what I a million and a half ! Oh 1 say 
that again! Offer it to me, to either take it 
or leave it. Do try me once: I know I can: 
or here, make it a plain million and let's call 
it done." 

Not that these men are careless over money. 
No, sir. Don't think it. Of course they 
don't take much account of big money, a hun- 
dred thousand dollars at a shot or anything of 
that sort. But little money. You've no idea 
till you know them how anxious they get about 
a cent, or half a cent, or less. 

Why, two of them came into the club the 
other night just frantic with delight: they said 
wheat had risen and they'd cleaned up four 

36 



How to Make a Million Dollars 

cents each in less than half an hour. They 
bought a dinner for sixteen on the strength of 
it. I don't understand it. I've often made 
twice as much as that writing for the papers 
and never felt like boasting about it. 

One night I heard one man say, "Well, 
let's call up New York and offer them a quar- 
ter of a cent." Great heavens ! Imagine pay- 
ing the cost of calling up New York, nearly 
five million people, late at night and of- 
fering them a quarter of a cent! And yet — 
did New York get mad? No, they took it. 
Of course it's high finance. I don't pretend 
to understand it. I tried after that to call up 
Chicago and offer it a cent and a half, and 
to call up Hamilton, Ontario, and offer it half 
a dollar, and the operator only thought I was 
crazy. 

All this shows, of course, that I've been 
studying how the millionaires do it. I have. 
For years. I thought it might be helpful to 
young men just beginning to work and anxious 
to stop. 

You know, many a man realises late in life 
that if when he was a boy he had known what 
he knows now, instead of being what he is he 
might be what he won't; but how few boys 

37 



lAterary Lapses 



stop to think that if they knew what they don't 
know instead of being what they will be, they 
wouldn't be? These are awful thoughts. 

At any rate, I've been gathering hints on 
how it is they do it. 

One thing I'm sure about. If a young man 
wants to make a million dollars he's got to be 
mighty careful about his diet and his living. 
This may seem hard. But success is only 
achieved with pains. 

There is no use in a young man who hopes 
to make a million dollars thinking he's entitled 
to get up at 7.30, eat force and poached eggs, 
drink cold water at lunch, and go to bed at 10 
p.m. You can't do it. I've seen too many mil- 
lionaires for that. If you want to be a million- 
aire you mustn't get up till ten in the morning. 
They never do. They darn't. It would be 
as much as their business is worth if they were 
seen on the street at half-past nine. 

And the old idea of abstemiousness is all 
wrong. To be a millionaire you need cham- 
pagne, lots of it and all the time. That and 
Scotch whisky and soda: you have to sit up 
nearly all night and drink buckets of it. This 
is what clears the brain for business next day. 
I've seen some of these men with their brains 

38 



Hoto to Make a Million Dollars 

so clear in the morning, that their faces look 
positively boiled. 

To live like this requires, of course, resolu- 
tion. But you can buy that by the pint. 

Therefore, my dear young man, if you want 
to get moved on from your present status in 
business, change your life. When your land- 
lady brings your bacon and eggs for breakfast, 
throw them out of window to the dog and tell 
her to bring you some chilled asparagus and a 
pint of Moselle. Then telephone to your 
employer that you'll be down about eleven 
o'clock. You will get moved on. Yes, very 
quickly. 

Just how the millionaires make the money 
is a difficult question. But one way is this. 
Strike the town with five cents in your pocket. 
They nearly all do this; they've told me 
again and again (men with millions and 
millions) that the first time they struck town 
they had only five cents. That seems to have 
given them their start. Of course, it's not 
easy to do. I've tried it several times. I nearly 
did it once. I borrowed five cents, carried it 
away out of town, and then turned and came 
back at the town with an awful rush. If I 
hadn't struck a beer saloon in the suburbs and 

39 



lAtercCry Lapses 



spent the five cents I might have been rich 
to-day. 

Another good plan i6 to start something. 
Something on a huge scale: something nobody 
ever thought of. For instance, one man I 
know told me that once he was down in 
Mexico without a cent (he'd lost his five in 
striking Central America) and he noticed that 
they had no power plants. So he started some 
and made a mint of money. Another man that 
I know was once stranded in New York, abso- 
lutely, without a nickel. Well, it occurred to 
him that what was needed were buildings ten 
stories higher than any that had been put up. 
So he built two and sold them right away. 
Ever so many millionaires begin in some such 
simple way as that. 

There is, of course, a much easier way than 
any of these. I almost hate to tell this, be- 
cause I want to do it myself. 

I learned of it just by chance one night at 
the club. There is one old man there, ex- 
tremely rich, with one of the best faces of the 
lot, just like a hyena, I never used to know 
how he had got so rich. So one evening I 
asked one of the millionaires how old Bloggs 
had made all his money. 

40 



How to Make a Million Dollars 

"How he made it?" he answered with a 
sneer. "Why he made it by taking it out of 
widows and orphans." 

Widows and orphans! I thoi'ght, what an 
excellent idea. But who would have suspected 
that they had it? 

"And how," I asked pretty cautiously, "did 
he go at it to get it out of them?" 

"Why," the man answered, "he just ground 
them under his heels, that was how." 

Now isn't that simple? I've thought of 
that conversation often since and I mean to 
try it. If I can get hold of them, I'll grind 
them quick enough. But how to get them. 
Most of the widows I know look pretty solid 
for that sort of thing, and as for orphans, it 
must take an awful lot of them. Meantime 
I am waiting, and if I ever get a large bunch 
of orphans all together, I'll stamp on them 
and see. 

I find, too, on inquiry, that you can also 
grind it out of clergymen. They say they 
grind nicely. But perhaps orphans are easier. 



41 



Horn to Live to Be 200 



TWENTY years ago I knew a man 
called Jiggins, who had the Health 
Habit. 
He used to take a cold plunge 
every morning. He said it opened his pores. 
After it he took a hot sponge. He said it 
closed the pores. He got so that he could open 
and shut his pores at will. 

Jigjgins used to stand and breathe at an open 
window for half an hour before dressing. He 
said it expanded his lungs. He might, of 
course, have had it done in a shoe-store with 
a boot stretcher, but after all it cost him noth- 
ing this way, and what is half an hour ? 

After he had got his undershirt on, Jiggins 
used to hitch himself up like a dog in harness 
and do Sandow exercises. He did them for- 
wards, backwards, and hind-side up. 

He could have got a job as a dog anywhere. 
He spent all his time at this kind of thing. In 
his spare time at the o£Ece, he used to lie on 
his stomach on the floor and see if he could 
lift himself up with his knuckles. If he could, 

4a 



How to Live to Be 200 



then he tried some other way until he found 
one that he couldn't do. Then he would spend 
the rest of his lunch hour on his stomach, 
perfectly happy. 

In the evenings in his room he used to lift 
iron bars, cannon-balls, heave dumb-bells, and 
haul himself up to the ceiling with his teeth. 
You could hear the thumps half a mile. 

He liked it. 

He spent half the night slinging himself 
around his room. He said it made his brain 
clear. When he got his brain perfectly clear, 
he went to bed and slept. As soon as he woke, 
he began clearing it again. 

Jiggins is dead. He was, of course, a 
pioneer, but the fact that he dumb-belled him- 
self to death at an early age does not pre- 
vent a whole generation of young men from 
following in his path. 

They are ridden by the Health Mania. 

They make themselves a nuisance. 

They get up at impossible hours. They 
go out in silly little suits and run Marathon 
heats before breakfast. They chase around 
barefoot to get the dew on their feet. They 
hunt for ozone. They bother about pepsin. 
They won't eat meat because it has too much 

43 



lAterary Lapses 



nitrogen. They won't eat fruit because it 
hasn't any. They prefer albumen and starch 
and nitrogen to huckleberry pie and dough- 
nuts. They won't drink water out of a tap. 
They won't eat sardines out of a can. They 
won't use oysters out of a pail. They won't 
drink milk out of a glass. They are afraid 
of alcohol in any shape. Yes, sir, afraid. 
"Cowards." 

And after all their fuss they presently incur 
some simple old-fashioned illness and die like 
anybody else. 

Now people of this sort have no chance to 
attain any great age. They are on the wrong 
track. 

Listen. Do you want to live to be really 
old, to enjoy a grand, green, exuberant, 
boastful old age and to make yourself a 
nuisance to your whole neighbourhood with 
your reminiscences? 

Then cut out all this nonsense. Cut it out. 
Get up in the morning at a sensible hour. 
The time to get up is when you have to, not 
before. If your office opens at eleven, get up 
at ten-thirty. Take your chance on ozone. 
There isn't any such thing anyway. Or, if 
there is, you can buy a Thermos bottle full for 

44 



Hoto to Live to Be 200 



five cents, and put it on a shelf in your cup- 
board. If your work begins at seven in the 
morning, get up at ten minutes to, but don't 
be liar enough to say that you like it. It isn't 
exhilarating, and you know it. 

Also, drop all that cold-bath business. You 
never did it when you were a boy. Don't be 
a fool now. If you must take a bath (you 
don't really need to), take it warm. The 
pleasure of getting out of a cold bed and creep- 
ing into a hot bath beats a cold plunge to death. 
In any case, stop gassing about your tub and 
your "shower," as if you were the only man 
who ever washed. 

So much for that point. 

Next, take the question of germs and bacilli. 
Don't be scared of them. That's alL 
That's the whole thing, and if you once 
get on to that you never need to worry 
again. 

If you see a bacilli, walk right up to it, and 
look it in the eye. If one flies into your 
room, strike at it with your hat or with a 
towel. Hit it as hard as you can between 
the neck and the thorax. It will soon get sick 
of that. 

But as a matter of fact, a bacilli is perfectly 

45 



lAterary Lapses 



quiet and harmless if you are not afraid of it. 
Speak to it. Call out to it to "lie down." It 
will understand. I had a bacilli once, called 
Fido, that would come and lie at my feet while 
I was working. I never knew a more affec- 
tionate companion, and when it was run over 
by an automobile, I buried it in the garden 
with genuine sorrow. 

(I admit this is an exaggeration. I don't 
really remember its name; it may have been 
Robert.) 

Understand that it is only a fad of modem 
medicine to say that cholera and t3^hoid and 
diphtheria are caused by bacilli and germs; 
nonsense. Cholera is caused by a frightful pain 
in the stomach, and diphtheria is caused by 
trying to cure a sore throat. 

Now take the question of food. 

Eat what you want. Eat lots of it. Yes, eat 
too much of it. Eat till you can just stagger 
across the room with it and prop it up against 
a sofa cushion. Eat everything that you like 
until you can't eat any more. The only test 
is, can you pay for it? If you can't pay for it, 
don't eat it. And listen — don't worry as to 
whether your food contains starch, or albumen, 
or gluten, or nitrogen. If you are a damn 

46 



Horn to Live to Be 200 



fool enough to want these things, go and buy 
them and eat all you want of them. Go to a 
laundry and get a bag of starch, and eat your 
fill of it. Eat it, and take a good long drink of 
glue after it, and a spoonful of Portland 
cement. That will gluten you, good and solid. 

If you like nitrogen, go and get a druggist 
to give you a canful of it at the soda counter, 
and let you sip it with a straw. Only don't 
think that you can mix all these things up with 
your food. There isn't any nitrogen or phos- 
phorus or albumen in ordinary things to eat. 
In any decent household all that sort of stuff 
Is washed out in the kitchen sink before the 
food is put on the table. 

And just one word about fresh air and 
exercise. Don't bother with either of them. 
Get your room full of good air, then shut up 
the windows and keep it. It will keep for 
years. Anyway, don't keep using your lungs 
all the time. Let them rest. As for exercise, 
if you have to take it, take it and put up with 
it. But as long as you have the price of a hack 
and can hire other people to play baseball for 
you and run races and do gymnastics when 
you sit in the shade and smoke and watch 
them — great heavens, what more do you want? 

47 



How to Avoid Getting Married 

SOME years ago, when I was. the 
Editor of a Correspondence Column, 
I used to receive heart-broken letters 
from young men asking for advice 
and sympathy. They found themselves the 
object of marked attentions from girls which 
they scarcely knew how to deal with. They 
did not wish to give pain or to seem indifferent 
to a love which they felt was as ardent as it was 
disinterested, and yet they felt that they could 
not bestow their hands where their hearts had 
not spoken. They wrote to me fully and 
frankly, and as one soul might write to another 
for relief. I accepted their confidences as 
under the pledge of a secrecy, never divulging 
their disclosures beyond the circulation of my 
newspapers, or giving any hint of their 
identity other than printing their names and 
addresses and their letters in full. But I 
may perhaps without dishonour reproduce one 
of these letters, and my answer to it, inasmuch 
as the date is now months ago, and the 
softening hand of Time has woven its roses — 

48 



How to Avoid Getting Married 

how shall I put it? — the mellow haze of 
reminiscences has — ^what I mean is that the 
young man has gone back to work and is all 
right again. 

Here then is a letter from a young man 
whose name I must not reveal, but whom I 
will designate as D. F., and whose address 
I must not divulge, but will simply indicate 
as Q. Street, West. 

"Dear Mr. Leacock, 

"For some time past I have been the 
recipient of very marked attentions from a 
young lady. She has been calling at the house 
almost every evening, and has taken me out in 
her motor, and invited me to concerts and 
the theatre. On these latter occasions I have 
insisted on her taking my father with me, and 
have tried as far as possible to prevent her 
saying anything to me which would be unfit 
for father to hear. But my position has 
become a very difficult one. I do not 
think it right to accept her presents when I 
cannot feel that my heart is hers. Yesterday 
she sent to my house a beautiful bouquet of 
American Beauty roses addressed to me, and 
a magnificent bunch of Timothy Hay for 

49 



Literary Lapses 



father. I do not know what to say. Would 
it be right for father to keep all this 
valuable hay? I have confided fully in father, 
and we have discussed the question of presents. 
He thinks that there are some that we can keep 
with propriety, and others that a sense of 
delicacy forbids us to retain. He himself is 
going to sort out the presents into the two 
classes. He thinks that as far as he can see, 
the Hay is in class B. Meantime I write to 
you, as I understand that Miss Laura Jean 
Libby and Miss Beatrix Fairfax are on their 
vacation, and in any case a friend of mine who 
follows their writings closely tells me that they 
are always full. 

"I enclose a dollar, because I do not think 
it right to ask you to give all your valuable 
time and your best thought without giving you 
back what' it is worth." 

On receipt of this I wrote back at once a 
private and confidential letter which I printed 
in the following edition of the paper. 

"My dear, dear Boy, 

"Your letter has touched me. As 
soon as I opened it and saw the green and blue 
tint of the dollar bill which you had so daintily 

so 



How to Avoid Getting Married 

and prettily folded within the pages of your 
sweet letter, I knew that the note was from 
someone that I could learn to love, if our 
correspondence were to continue as it had 
begun. I took the dollar from your letter 
and kissed and fondled it a dozen times. Dear 
unknown boy 1 I shall always keep that dollar ! 
No matter how much I may need it, or how 
many necessaries, yes, absolute necessities, 
of life I may be wanting, I shall always keep 
that dollar. Do you understand, dear? I 
shall keep it. I shall not spend it. As far 
as the use of it goes, it will be just as if you 
had not sent it. Even if you were to send me 
another dollar, I should still keep the first one, 
so that no matter how many you sent, the 
recollection of one first friendship would not 
be contaminated with mercenary considera- 
tions. When I say dollar, darling, of course 
an express order, or a postal note, or even 
stamps would be all the same. But in that 
case do not address me in care of this office, 
as I should not like to think of your pretty 
little letters lying round where others might 
handle them. 

"But now I must stop chatting about my- 
self, for I know that you cannot be interested 

SI 



Literary Lapses 



in a simple old fogey such as I am. Let me 
talk to you about your letter and about the 
difficult question it raises for all marriageable 
young men. 

"In the first place, let me tell you how glad 
I am that you confide in your father. What- 
ever happens, go at once to your father, put 
your arms about his neck, and have a good 
cry together. And you are right, too, about 
presents. It needs a wiser head than my poor 
perplexed boy to deal with them. Take them 
to your father to be sorted, or, if you feel that 
you must not overtax his love, address them 
to me in your own pretty hand. 

"And now let us talk, dear, as one heart to 
another. Remember always that if a girl is 
to have your heart she must be worthy of 
you. When you look at your own bright inno- 
cent face in the mirror, resolve that you will 
give your hand to no girl who is not just as 
innocent as you are and no brighter than your- 
self. So that you must first find out how inno- 
cent she is. Ask her quietly and frankly — 
remember, dear, that the days of false modesty 
are passing away — ^whether she has ever been 
in jail. If she has not (and if you have not), 
then you know that you are dealing with a 

52 



How to Avoid Getting Married 

dear confiding girl who will make you a life 
mate. Then you must know, too, that her 
mind is worthy of your own. So many men 
to-day are led astray by the merely superficial 
graces and attractions of girls who in 
reality possess no mental equipment at 
all. Many a man is bitterly disillusioned 
after marriage when he realises that his wife 
cannot solve a quadratic equation, and that 
he is compelled to spend all his days with a 
woman who does not know that x squared 
plus 2xy plus y squared is the same thing, or, 
I think nearly the same thing, as x plus y 
squared. 

"Nor should the simple domestic virtues be 
neglected. If a girl desires to woo you, before 
allowing her to press her suit, ask her if she 
knows how to press yours. If she can, let 
her woo; if not, tell her to whoa. But I see 
I have written quite as much as I need for 
this column. Won't you write again, just as 
before, dear boy? 

"Stephen Leacock." 



S3 



How to Be a Doctor 



CERTAINLY the progress of science 
is a wonderful thing. One can't 
help feeling proud of it. I must 
admit that I do. Whenever I get 
talking to anyone — that is, to anyone who 
knows even less about it than I do — about the 
marvellous development of electricity, for 
instance, I feel as if I had been person- 
ally responsible for it. As for the linotype 
and the aeroplane and the vacuum house-clean- 
er, well, I am not sure that I didn't invent 
them myself. I believe that all generous- 
hearted men feel just the same way about 
it. 

However, that is not the point I am intend- 
ing to discuss. What I want to speak about is 
the progress of medicine. There, if you 
like, is something wonderful. Any lover of 
humanity (or of either sex of it) who looks 
back on the achievements of medical science 
must feel his heart glow and his right ventricle 
expand with the pericardiac stimulus of a per- 
missible pride. 

54 



How to Be a Doctor 



Just think of it. A hundred years ago there 
were no < bacilli, no ptomaine poisoning, no 
diphtheria, and no appendicitis. Rabies was but 
little known, and only imperfectly developed. 
All of these we owe to medical science. Even 
such things as psoriasis and parotitis and 
trypanosomiasis, which are now household 
names, were known only to the few, and were 
quite beyond the reach of the great mass of 
the people. 

Or consider the advance of the science on 
its practical side. A hundred years ago it used 
to be supposed that fever could be cured by 
the letting of blood; now we know positively 
that it cannot. Even seventy years ago it was 
thought that fever was curable by the admin- 
istration of sedative drugs; now we know that 
it isn't. For the matter of that, as recently 
as thirty years ago, doctors thought that they 
could heal a fever by means of low diet and 
the application of ice; now they are absolutely 
certain that they cannot. This instance shows 
the steady progress made in the treatment of 
fever. But there has been the same cheering 
advance all along the line. Take rheumatism. 
A few generations ago people with rheumatism 
used to have to carry round potatoes in their 

55 



lAterary Lapses 



pockets as a means of cure. Now the doctors 
allow them to carry absolutely anything they 
like. They may go round with their pockets 
full of water-melons if they wish to. It makes 
no difference. Or take the treatment of 
epilepsy. It used to be supposed that the first 
thing to do in sudden attacks of this kind 
was to unfasten the patient's collar and let 
him breathe; at present, on the contrary, 
many doctors consider it better to button up 
the patient's collar and let him choke. 

In only one respect has there been a decided 
lack of progress in the domain of medicine, 
that is in the time It takes to become a quali- 
fied practitioner. In the good old days a man 
was turned out thoroughly equipped after put- 
ting in two winter sessions at a college and 
spending his summers in running logs for a 
sawmill. Some of the students were turned 
out even sooner. Nowadays it takes anywhere 
from five to eight years to become a doctor. 
Of course, one is willing to grant that our 
young men are growing stupider and lazier 
every year. This fact will be corroborated 
at once by any man over fifty years of age. 
But even when this is said it seems odd that 
a man should study eight years now to 



How to Be a Doctor 



learn what he used to acquire in eight 
months. 

However, let that go. The point I want 
to develop is that the modern doctor's busi- 
ness is an extremely simple one, which could 
be acquired in about two weeks. This is the 
way it is done. 

The patient enters the consulting-room. 
"Doctor," he says, "I have a bad pain." 
"Where is it?" "Here." "Stand up," 
says the doctor, "and put your arras up above 
your head." Then the doctor goes behind the 
patient and strikes him a powerful blow in the 
back. "Do you feel that," he says. "I do," 
says the patient. Then the doctor turns sud- 
denly and lets him have a left hook under the 
heart. "Can you feel that," he says 
viciously, as the patient falls over on the sofa 
in a heap. "Get up," says the doctor, and 
counts ten. The patient rises. The doctor 
looks him over very carefully without speak- 
ing, and then suddenly fetches him a blow in 
the stomach that doubles him up speechless. 
The doctor walks over to the window and 
reads the morning paper for a while. Pre- 
sently he turns and begins to mutter more to 
himself than the patient. "Huml" he says, 

57 



IMerary Lapses 



"there's a slight anaesthesia of the tympanum." 
"Is that so?" says the patient, in an agony of 
fear. "What can I do about it, doctor?" 
"Well," says the doctor, "I want you to keep 
very quiet; you'll have to go to bed and stay 
there and keep quiet." In reality, of course, 
the doctor hasn't the least idea what is wrong 
with the man; but he does know that if he 
will go to bed and keep quiet, awfully quiet, 
he'll either get quietly well again or else die 
a quiet death. Meantime, if the doctor calls 
every morning and thumps and beats him, he 
can keep the patient submissive and perhaps 
force him to confess what i$ wrong with 
him. 

"What about diet, doctor?" says the patient, 
completely cowed. 

The answer to this question varies very 
much. It depends on how the doctor is feeling 
and whether it is long since he had a meal 
himself. If it is late in the morning and the 
doctor is ravenously hungry, he says: "Oh, 
eat plenty, don't be afraid of it; eat meat, 
vegetables, starch, glue, cement, anything you 
like." But if the doctor has just had lunch and 
if his breathing is short-circuited with huckle- 
berrj?-pie, he says very firmly: "No, I don't 

S8 



How to Be a Doctor 



want you to eat anything at all: absolutely not 
a bite; it won't hurt you, a little self-denial 
in the matter of eating is the best thing in the 
world." 

"And what about drinking?" Again the 
doctor's answer varies. He may say: "Oh, 
yes, you might drink a glass of lager now and 
then, or, if you prefer it, a gin and soda or a 
whisky and ApoUinaris, and I think before 
going to bed I'd take a hot Scotch with a 
couple of lumps of white sugar and bit of 
lemon-peel in it and a good grating of nut- 
meg on the top." The doctor says this with 
real feeling, and his eye glistens with the pure 
love of his profession. But if, on the other 
hand, the doctor has spent the night before 
at a little gathering of medical friends, he is 
very apt to forbid the patient to touch alcohol 
in any shape, and to dismiss the subject with 
great severity. 

Of course, this treatment in and of itself 
would appear too transparent, and would fail 
to inspire the patient with a proper confidence. 
But nowadays this element is supplied by the 
work of the analytical laboratory. Whatever 
is wrong with the patient, the doctor insists on 
snipping off parts and pieces and extracts of 

59 



Literary Lapses 



him and sending them mysteriously away to 
be analysed. He cuts off a lock of the patient's 
hair, marks it, "Mr. Smith's Hair, October, 
19 10." Then he clips off the lower part of 
the ear, and wraps it in paper, and labels it, 
"Part of Mr. Smith's Ear, October, 19 10." 
Then he looks the patient up and down, with 
the scissors in his hand, and if he sees any 
likely part of him he clips it off and wraps it 
up. Now this, oddly enough, is the very thing 
that fills the patient up with that sense of 
personal importance which is worth paying for. 
"Yes," says the bandaged patient, later in the 
day to a group of friends much impressed, 
"the doctor thinks there may be a sUght 
anaesthesia of the prognosis, but he's sent my 
ear to New York and my appendix to Balti- 
more and a lock of my hair to the editors of 
all the medical journals, and meantime I am 
to keep very quiet and not exert myself beyond 
drinking a hot Scotch with lemon and 
nutmeg every half-hour." With that he 
sinks back faintly on his cushions, luxuriously 
happy. 

And yet, isn't it funny? 

You and I and the rest of us — even if we 
know all this — as soon as we have a pain 

60 



How to Be a Doctor 



within us, rush for a doctor as fast as a hack 
can take us. Yes, personally, I even prefer 
an ambulance with a bell on it It's more 
soothing. 



6t 



The New Food 



I SEE from the current columns of the 
daily press that "Professor Plumb, of 
the University of Chicago, has just in- 
vented a highly concentrated form of 
food. All the essential nutritive elements are 
put together in the form of pellets, each of 
which contains from one to two hundred times 
as much nourishment as an ounce of an ordi- 
nary article of diet. These pellets, diluted 
with water, will form all that is necessary to 
support life. The professor looks forward con- 
fidently to revolutionising the present food 
system." 

Now this kind of thing may be all very well 
in its way, but it is going to have its drawbacks 
as well. In the bright future anticipated by 
Professor Plumb, we can easily imagine such 
incidents as the following: 

The smiling family were gathered round the 
hospitable board. The table was plenteously 
laid with a soup-plate in front of each beaming 
child, a bucket of hot water before the radiant 
mother, and at the head of the board the 

62 



The New Food 



Christmas dinner of the happy home, warmly 
covered by a thimble and resting on a poker 
chip. The expectant whispers of the little ones 
were hushed as the father, rising from his 
chair, lifted the thimble and disclosed a small 
pill of cpncentrated nourishment on the chip 
before him. Christmas turkey, cranberry 
sauce, plum pudding, mince pie — it was all 
there, all jammed into that little pill and only 
waiting to expand. Then the father with deep 
reverence, and a devout eye alternating be- 
tween the pill and heaven, lifted his voice in a 
benediction. 

At this moment there was an agonised cry 
from the mother. 

"Oh, Henry, quick 1 Baby has snached the 
pill!" It was too true. Dear little Gustavus 
Adolphus, the golden-haired baby boy, had 
grabbed the whole Christmas dinner off the 
poker chip and bolted it. Three hundred and 
fifty pounds of concentrated nourishment 
passed down the oesophagus of the unthinking 
child. 

"Clap him on the backl" cried the distracted 
mother. "Give him water I" 

The idea was fatal. The water striking 
the pill caused it to expand. There was a dull 

63 



lAterary Lapses 



rumbling sound and then, with an awful bang, 
Gustavus Adolphus exploded into fragments! 
And when they gathered the little corpse 
together, the baby lips were parted in a linger- 
ing smile that could only be worn by a child 
who had eaten thirteen Christmas dinners. 



A New Pathology 



IT has long been vaguely understood 
that the condition of a man's clothes 
has a certain effect upon the health of 
both body and mind. The well-known 
proverb, "Clothes make the man," has its 
origin in a general recognition of the powerful 
influence of the habiliments in their reaction 
upon the wearer. The same truth may be ob- 
served in the facts of everyday life. On the 
one hand we remark the bold carriage and 
mental vigour of a man attired in a new suit 
of clothes; on the other hand we note the 
melancholy features of him who is conscious 
of a posterior patch, or the haunted face of 
one suffering from internal loss of buttons. 
But while common observation thus gives us a 
certain familiarity with a few leading facts 
regarding the ailments and influence of clothes, 
no attempt has as yet been made to reduce our 
knowledge to a systematic form. At the same 
time the writer feels that a valuable addition 
might be made to the science of medicine in 
this direction. The numerous diseases which 

65 



lAterary Lapses 



are caused by this fatal influence should receive 
a scientific analysis, and their treatment be in- 
cluded among the principles of the healing 
art. The diseases of the clothes may roughly 
be divided into medical cases and surgical 
cases, while these again fall into classes accord- 
ing to the particular garment through which 
the sufferer is attacked. 

MEDICAL CASES 

Probably no article of apparel is so liable to 
a diseased condition as the trousers. It may 
be well, therefore, to treat first those maladies 
to which they are subject. 

/. Contractio Pantaluna, or Shortening 
of the Legs of the Trousers, an extremely 
painful malady most frequently found in the 
growing youth. The first symptom is the 
appearance of a yawning space (lacuna) above 
the boots, accompanied by an acute sense of 
humiliation and a morbid anticipation of 
mockery. The application of treacle to the 
boots, although commonly recommended, may 
rightly be condemned as too drastic a remedy. 
The use of boots reaching to the knee, to be 
removed only at night, wiU afford immediate 

66 



A New Pathology 



relief. In connection with Contractio is often 
found — 

//. Inflatio Genu, or Bagging of the Knees 
of the Trousers, a disease whose symptoms are 
similar to those above. The patient shows 
an aversion to the standing posture, and, 
in acute cases, if the patient be compelled to 
stand, the head is bent and the eye fixed with 
painful rigidity upon the projecting blade 
formed at the knee of the trousers. 

In both of the above diseases anything that 
can be done to free the mind of the patient 
from a morbid sense of his infirmity will do 
much to improve the general tone of the 
system. 

///. Oases, or Patches, are liable to break 
out anywhere on the trousers, and range in 
degree of gravity from those of a trifling 
nature to those of a fatal character. The most 
distressing cases are those where the patch 
assumes a different colour from that of the 
trousers (dissimilitas coloris). In this instance 
the mind of the patient is found to be in a 
sadly aberrated condition, A speedy improve- 
ment may, however, be effected by cheerful 
society, books, flowers, and, above all, by a 
complete change. 

67 



IMerary Lapses 



IV. The overcoat is attacked by no serious 
disorders, except — 

Phosphorescentia, or Glistening^ a malady 
which indeed may often be observed to affect 
the whole system. It is caused by decay of 
tissue from old age and is generally aggra- 
vated by repeated brushing. A peculiar 
feature of the complaint is the lack of veracity 
on the part of the patient in reference to* the 
cause of his uneasiness. Another invariable 
sjmiptom is his aversion to outdoor exercise; 
under various pretexts, which it is the duty 
of his medical adviser firmly to combat, he 
will avoid even a gentle walk in the streets. 

V. Of the waistcoat science recognises biit 
one disease — 

Porriggia, an affliction caused by repeated 
spilling of porridge. It is generally harmless, 
chiefly owing to the mental indifference of the 
patient. It can be successfully treated by re- 
peated fomentations of benzine. 

VI. Mortificatio Tills, or Greenness of the 
Hat, is a disease often found in connection 
with Phosphorescentia (mentioned above), and 
characterised by the same aversion to outdoor 
life. 

VII. Sterilitas, or Loss of Fur, is another 

68 



A New Pathology 



disease of the hat, especially prevalent in 
winter. It is not accurately known whether 
this is caused by a falling out of the fur or by 
a cessation of growth. In all diseases of the 
hat the mind of the patient is greatly de- 
pressed and his countenance stamped with the 
deepest gloom. He is particularly sensitive in 
regard to questions as to the previous history 
of the hat. 

Waiit of space precludes the mention of 
minor diseases, such as — 

VIII. Odditus Soccorum, or oddness of the 
socks, a thing in itself trifling, but of an 
alarming nature if met in combination with 
Contractio Pantalunae. Cases are found where 
the patient, possibly on the public platform or 
at a social gathering, is seized with a con- 
sciousness of the malady so suddenly as to 
render medical assistance futile. 

SURGICAL CASES 

It is impossible to mention more than a few 
of the most typical cases of diseases of this 
sort. 

/. Explosio, or Loss of Buttons, is the com- 
monest malady demanding surgical treatment. 

69 



lAterary Lapses 



It consists of a succession of minor fractures, 
possibly internal, which at first excite no alarm. 
A vague sense of uneasiness is presently felt, 
which often leads the patient to seek relief in 
the string habit — a habit which, if unduly in- 
dulged in, may assume the proportions of a 
ruling passion. The use of sealing-wax, 
while admirable as a temporary remedy for 
Explosio, should never be allowed to gain a 
permanent hold upon the system. There is 
no doubt that a persistent indulgence in the 
string habit, or the constant use of sealing- 
wax, will result in — 

//. Fractura Suspendorum, or Snapping of 
the Braces, which amounts to a general col- 
lapse of the system. The patient is usually 
seized with a severe attack of explosio, fol- 
lowed by a sudden sinking feeling and sense of 
loss. A sound constitution may rally from the 
shock, but a system undermined by the string 
habit invariably succumbs. 

///. Sectura Pantaluna, or Ripping of the 
Trousers, is generally caused by sitting upon 
warm beeswax or leaning against a hook. 
In the case of the very young it is not un- 
frequently accompanied by a distressing sup- 
puration of the shirt. This, however, is not 

70 



'A New Pathology 



femarked in adults. The malady is rather 
mental than bodily, the mind of the patient 
being racked by a keen sense of indignity and 
a feeling of unworthiness. The only treat- 
ment is immediate isolation, with a careful 
stitching of the affected part. 

In conclusion, it may be stated that at the 
first symptom of disease the patient should 
not hesitate to put himself in the hands of a 
professional tailor. In so brief a compass as 
the present article the discussion has of neces- 
sity been rather suggestive than exhaustive. 
Much yet remains to be done, and the subject 
opens wide to the inquiring eye. The writer 
will, however, feel amply satisfied if this brief 
outline may help to direct the attention of 
medical men to what is yet an unexplored 
field. 



71 



The Poet Answered 



DEAR SIR: 
In answer to your repeated ques- 
tions and requests which have ap- 
peared for some years past in the 
columns of the rural press, I beg to submit 
the following solutions of your chief diffi- 
culties : — 

Topic I. — ^You frequently ask, where are 
the friends of your childhood, and urge that 
they shall be brought back to you. As far 
as I am able to l&arn, those of your friends 
who are not in jail are still right there in 
your native village. You point out that 
they were wont to share your gambols. If 
so, you are certainly entitled to have theirs 
now. 

Topic H. — ^You have taken occasion to 
say: 

"Give me not silk, nor rich attire, 
Nor gold, nor jewels rare," 

But, my dear fellow, this is preposterous. Why, 
these are the very things I had bought for 

72 



The Poet Answered 



you. If you won't take any of these, I shall 
have to give you factory cotton and cord- 
wood. 

Topic III. — ^You also ask, "How fares my 
love across the sea ?" Intermediate, I presume. 
She would hardly travel steerage. 

Topic IV. — "Why was I born? Why should 
I breathe?" Here I quite agree with you. I 
don't think you ought to breathe. 

Topic V. — ^You demand that I shall show 
you the man whose soul is dead and then mark 
him. I am awfully sorry; the man was around 
here all day yesterday, and if I had only known 
I could easily have marked him so that we 
could pick him out again. 

Topic VI. — I notice that you frequently 
say, "Oh, for the sky of your native land." 
Oh, for it, by all means, if you wish. But 
remember that you already owe for a great 
deal. 

Topic VII. — On more than one occasion 
you wish to be informed, "What boots it, that 
you idly dream ?" Nothing boots it at present 
— a fact, sir, which ought to afford you the 
highest gratification. 



73 



The Force of Statistics 



THEY were sitting on a seat of the 
car, immediately in iFront of me. 
I was consequently able to hear all 
that they were saying. They were 
evidently strangers who had dropped into a 
conversation. They both had the air of men 
who considered themselves profoundly inter- 
esting as minds. It was plain that each 
laboured under the impression that he was a 
ripe thinker. 

One had just been reading a book which lay 
in his lap. 

"I've been reading some very interesting 
statistics," he was saying to the other thinker. 
"Ah, statistics!" said the other; "wonder- 
ful things, sir, statistics; very fond of them 
myself." 

"I find, for instance," the first man went on, 
"that a drop of water is filled with little 
. . . with little ... I forget just what you 
call them . . . little — er — things, every cubic 
inch containing — er — containing ... let me 
see . . . " 

74 



The Force of Statistics 



"Say a million," said the other thinker, en- 
couragingly. 

"Yes, a million, or possibly a billion;. . . 
but at any rate, ever so many of them." 

"Is it possible?" said the other. "But 
really, you know there are wonderful things 
in the world. Now, coal . . . take coal. ..." 

"Very good," said his friend, "let us take 
coal," settling back in his seat with the air of 
an intellect about to feed itself. 

"Do you know that every ton of coal burnt 
in an engine will drag a train of cars as long 
as ... I forget the exact length, but say a 
train of cars of such and such a length, and 
weighing, say so much . . . from . . . from 
. . . hum ! for the moment the exact distance 
escapes me . . . drag it from ..." 

"From here to the moon," suggested the 
other. 

"Ah, very likely; yes, from here to the 
moon. Wonderful, isn't it?" 

"But the most stupendous calculation of all, 
sir, Is in regard to the distance from the earth 
to the sun. Positively, sir, a cannon-ball — er — 
fired at the sun ..." 

"Fired at Ae sun," nodded the othei;, ap- 
provingly, as if he had often seen it done. 

75 



lAterary Lapses 



"And travelling at the rate of . . . of . . ." 

"Of three cents a mile," hinted the listener. 

"No, no, you misunderstand me, — ^but 
travelling at a fearful rate, simply fearful, sir, 
would take a hundred million — ^no, a hundred 
billion — in short would take a scandalously 
long time in getting there — ■. — " 

At this point I Could stand no more. I in- 
terrupted — "Provided it were fired from Phila- 
delphia," I said, and passed into the smoking- 
car. 



?8 



Men Who Have Shaved Me 

A BARBER is by nature and inclina- 
tion a sport. He can tell you at 
what exact hour the ball game of 
the day is to begin, can foretell its 
issue without losing a stroke of the razor, and 
can explain the points of inferiority of all the 
players, as compared with better men that he 
has personally seen elsewhere, with the nicety 
of a professional. He can do all this, and then 
stuff the customer's mouth with a soap-brush, 
and leave him while he goes to the other end 
of the shop to make a side bet with one of the 
other barbers on the outcome of the Autumn 
Handicap. In the barber-shops they knew the 
result of the Jeffries-Johnson prize-fight long 
before it happened. It is on information of 
this kind that they make their living. The 
performance of shaving is only incidental to it. 
Their real vocation in life is imparting infor- 
mation. To the barber the outside world is 
made up of customers, who are to be thrown 
into chairs, strapped, manacled, gagged with 
soap, and then given such necessary informa- 

77 



lAterary Lapses 



tion on the athletic events of the moment as 
will carry them through the business hours of 
the day without open disgrace. 

As soon as the barber has properly filled 
up the customer with information of this sort, 
he rapidly removes his whiskers as a sign that 
the man is now fit to talk to, and lets him out 
of the chair. 

The public has grown to understand the 
situation. Every reasonable business man is 
willing to sit and wait half an hour for a shave 
which he could give himself in three minutes, 
because he knows that if he goes down town 
without understanding exactly why Chicago 
lost two games straight he will appear an 
ignoramus. 

At times, of course, the barber prefers to 
test his customer with a question or two. He 
gets him pinned in the chair, with his head 
well back, covers the customer's face with 
soap, and then planting his knee on his chest 
and holding his hand firmly across the custo- 
mer's mouth, to prevent all utterance and to 
force him to swallow the soap, he asks: "Well, 
what did you think of the Detroit-St. Louis 
game yesterday?" This is not really meant 
for a question at all. It is only equivalent to 

78 



Men Who Have Shaved Me 

saying: "Now, you poor fool, I'll bet you 
don't know anything about the great events 
of your country at all." There is a gurgle in 
the customer's throat as if he were trying to 
answer, and his eyes are seen to move side- 
ways, but the barber merely thrusts the soap- 
brush into each eye, and if any motion still 
persists, he breathes gin and peppermint over 
the face, till all sign of life is extinct. Then 
he talks the game over in detail with the 
barber at the next chair, each leaning across an 
inanimate thing extended under steaming 
towels that was once a man. 

To know all these things barbers have to be 
highly educated. It is true that some of the 
greatest barbers that have ever lived have 
begun as uneducated, illiterate men, and by 
sheer energy and indomitable industry have 
forced their way to the front. But these are 
exceptions. To succeed nowadays it is practi- 
cally necessary to be a college graduate. As 
the courses at Harvard and Yale have been 
found too superficial, there are now established 
regular Barbers' Colleges, where a bright 
young man can learn as much in three weeks as 
he would be likely to know after three years at 
Harvard. The courses at these colleges cover 

79 



lAterary Lapses 



such things as: (i) Physiology, including 
Hair- and its Destruction, The Origin and 
Growth of Whiskers, Soap in its Relation to 
Eyesight; (2) Chemistry, including lectures 
on Florida Water; and How to Make it out 
of Sardine Oil; (3) PRACTICAL Anatomy, in- 
cluding The Scalp and How to Lift it, The 
Ears and How to Remove them, and, as the 
Major Course for advanced students, The 
Veins of the Face and how to open and close 
them at will by the use of alum. 

The education of the customer is, as I have 
said, the chief part of the barber's vocation. 
But it must be remembered that the incidental 
function of removing his whiskers in order to 
mark him as a well-informed man is also of 
importance, and demands long practice and 
great natural aptitude. In the barbers' shops 
of modern cities shaving has been brought to 
a high degree of perfection. A good barber 
is not content to remove the whiskers of his 
client directly and immediately. He prefers 
to cook him first. He does this by immersing 
the head in hot water and covering the victim's 
face with steaming towels until he has him 
boiled to a nice pink. From time to time the 
barber removes the towels and looks at the 



Men Who Have Shaved Me 

face to see If It Is yet boiled pink enough for 
his satisfaction. If It is not, he replaces the 
towels again and jams them down firmly with 
his hand until the cooking Is finished. The 
final result, however, amply justifies this 
trouble, and the well-boiled customer only 
needs the addition of a few vegetables on the 
side to present an extremely appetizing ap- 
pearance. 

During the process of the shave. It is cus- 
tomary for the barber to apply the particular 
kind of mental torture known as the third de- 
gree. This is done by terrorising the patient 
as to the very evident and proximate loss of all 
his hair and whiskers, which the barber is 
enabled by his experience to foretell. "Your 
hair," he says, very sadly and sympathetically, 
"is all falling out. Better let me give you a 
shampoo?" "No." "Let me singe your 
hair to close up the follicles?" "No." "Let 
me plug up the ends of your hair with 
sealing-wax, it's the only thing that will 
save It for you?" "No." "Let me rub an 
egg on your scalp?" "No." "Let me squirt 
a lemon on your eyebrows?" "No." 

The barber seesj that he is dealing with a 



Literary Lapses 



man of determination, and he warms to his 
task. He bends low and whispers into the 
prostrate ear: "You've got a good many grey 
hairs coming in; better let me give you an ap- 
plication of Hairocene, only cost you half a 
dollar?" "No." "Your face," he whispers 
again, with a soft, caressing voice, "is all cov- 
ered with wrinkles; better let me rub some of 
this Rejuvenator into the face." 

This process is continued until one of two 
things happens. Either the customer is ob- 
durate, and staggers to his , feet at last and 
gropes his way out of the shop with the knowl- 
edge that he is a wrinkled, prematurely senile 
man, whose wicked life is stamped upon his 
face, and whose unstopped hair-ends and 
failing follicles menace him with the certainty 
of complete baldness within twenty-four 
hours — or else, as in nearly all instances, he 
succumbs. In the latter case. Immediately on 
his saying "yes" there is a shout of exultation 
from the barber, a roar of steaming water, 
and within a moment two barbers have grabbed 
him by the feet and thrown him under the 
tap, and, in spite of his struggles, are giving 
him the Hydro-magnetic treatment. When he 
emerges from their hands, he steps out 

62 



Men Who Have Shaved Me 

of the shop looking as if he had been 
varnished. 

But even the application of the Hydro- 
magnetic and the Rejuvenator do not by any 
means exhaust the resources of the up-to-date 
barber. He prefers to perform on the cus- 
tomer a whole variety of subsidiary services 
not directly connected with shaving, but car- 
ried on during the process of the shave. 

In a good, up-to-date shop, while one man is 
shaving the customer, others black his boots, 
brush his clothes, darn his socks, point his 
nails, enamel his teeth, polish his eyes, and 
alter the shape of any of his joints which they 
think unsightly. During this operation they 
often stand seven or eight deep round a 
customer, fighting for a chance to get at 
him. 

All of these remarks apply to barber-shops 
in the city, and not to country places. In the 
country there is only one barber and one 
customer at a time. The thing assumes the 
aspect of a straight-out, rough-and-tumble, 
catch-as-catch-can fight, with a few spectators 
sitting round the shop to see fair play. In the 
city they can shave a man without removing 
any of his clothes. But in the country, 

83 



lAterary Lapses 



where the customer insists on getting the full 
value for his money, they remove the collar 
and necktie, the coat and the waistcoat, and, 
for a really good shave and hair-cut, the 
customer is stripped to the waist. The barber 
can then take a rush at him from the other 
side of the room, and drive the clippers up the 
full length of the spine, so as to come at the 
heavier hair on the back of the head with the 
impact of a lawn-mower driven into long 
grass. 



84 



Getting the Thread of It 



HAVE you ever had a man try to 
explain to you what happened in 
a book as far as he has read? It 
is a most instructive thing. Sin- 
clair, the man who shares my rooms with me, 
made such an attempt the other night. I had 
come in cold and tired from a walk and found 
him full of excitement, with a bulky magazine 
in one hand and a paper-cutter gripped in the 
other. 

"Say, here's a grand story," he burst out 
as soon as I came in; "it's great 1 most 
fascinating thing I ever read. Wait till I read 
you some of it. I'll just tell you what has 
happened up to where I am — you'll easily catch 
the thread of it — and then we'll finish it to- 
gether." > 

I wasn't feeling in a very responsive mood, 
but I saw no way to stop him, so I merely 
said, "All right, throw me your thread, I'll 
catch it." 

"Well," Smclair began with great animation, 
"this count gets this letter ..." 

8s 



lAterary Lapses 



"Hold on," I interrupted, "what count gets 
what letter?" 

"Oh, the count it's about, you know. He 
gets this letter from this Porphirio ..." 

"From which Porphirio?" 

"Why, Porphirio sent the letter, don't you 
see, he sent it," Sinclair exclaimed a little im- 
patiently — "sent it through Demonio and told 
him to watch for him with him, and kill him 
when he got him." 

"Oh, see here 1" I broke in, "who is to meet 
who, and who is to get stabbed?" 

"They're going to stab Demonio." 

"And who brought the letter?" 

"Demonio." 

"Well, now, Demonio must be a clam I 
What did he bring it for?" 

"Oh, but he don't know what's in it, 
that's just the slick part of it," and Sinclair 
began to snigger to himself at the thought 
of it. "You see, this Carlo Carlotti the 
Condottiere ..." 

"Stop right there," I said. "What's a 
Condottiere?" 

"It's a sort of brigand. He, you under- 
stand, was in league with this Fra Fralic- 
colo ..." 



Getting the Thread of It 



A suspicion flashed across my mind. "Look 
here," I said firmly, "if the scene of this story 
is laid in the Highlands, I refuse to listen to 
it. Call it off." 

"No, no," Sinclair answered quickly, "that's 
all right. It's laid in Italy . . . time of Pius 
the something. He comes in — say, but he's 
great! so darned crafty. It's him, you know, 
that persuades this Franciscan ..." 

"Pause," I said, "what Franciscan?" 

"Fra Fraliccolo, of course," Sinclair said 
snappishly. "You see, Pio tries to . . ." 

"Whoa!" I said, "who is Pio?" 

"Oh, hang it all, Pio is Italian, it's short 
for Pius. He tries to get Fra Fraliccolo and 
Carlo Carlotti the Condottiere to steal the 
document from ... let me see, what was he 
called?" . . . Oh, yes . . . from the Dog 
of Venice, so that ... or ... no, hang it, 
you put me out, that's all wrong. It's the 
other way round. Pio wasn't clever at all; 
he's a regular darned fool. It's the Dog that's 
crafty. By Jove, he's fine," Sinclair went on, 
warming up to enthusiasm again, "he just 
does anything he wants. He makes this 
Demonio (Demonio is one of those hirelings, 
you know, he's the tool of the Dog) . . , 

87 



lAterary Lapses 



makes him steal the document off Porphirio, 
and . . ." 

"But how does he get him to do that?" I 
asked. 

"Oh, the Dog has Demonio pretty well 
under his thumb, so he makes Demonio scheme 
round till he gets old Pio — er — gets him 
under his thumb, and then, of course, Pio 
thinks that Porphirio — I mean he thinks 
that he has Porphirio — er — has him under his 
thumb." 

"Half a minute, Sinclair," I said, "who did 
you say was under the Dog's thumb?" 

"Demonio." 

"Thanks. I was mixed in the thumbs. Go 
on. 

"Well, just when things are like this ..." 

"Like what?" 

"Like I said." 

"All right." 

"Who should turn up and thwart the whole 
scheme, but this Signorina Tarara in her 
domino ..." 

"HuUy Gee!" I said, "you make my head 
ache. What the deuce does she come in her 
domino for?" 

"Why, to thwart it." 



Getting the Thread of It 



"To thwart what?" 

"Thwart the whole darned thing," Sinclair 
exclaimed emphatically. 

"But can't she thwart it without her 
domino?" 

"I should think notl You see, if it hadn't 
been for the domino, the Dog would have 
spotted her quick as a wink. Only when he 
sees her in the domino with this rose in het" 
hair, he thinks she must be Lucia dell' Es- 
teroUa." 

"Say, he fools himself, doesn't he? Who's 
this last girl?" 

"Lucia? Oh, she's great 1" Sinclair said. 
"She's one of those Southern natures, you 
know, full of — er — full of . . ." 

"Full of fun," I suggested. 

"Oh, hang it all, don't make fun of it! 
Well, anyhow, she's sister, you understand, to 
the Contessa Carantarata, and that's why Fra 
Fraliccolo, or . . . hold on, that's not it, no, 
no, she's not sister to anybody. She's cousin, 
that's it; or, anyway, she thinks she is cousin 
to Fra Fraliccolo himself, and that's why Pio 
tries to stab Fra Fraliccolo." 

"Oh, yes," I assented, "naturally he 
would." 

B9 



Literary Lapses 



"Ah," 'Sinclair said hopefully, getting his 
paper-cutter ready to cut the next pages, "you 
begin to get the thread now, don't you?" 

"Oh, fine!" I said. "The people in it 
are the Dog and Pio, and Carlo Carlotti the 
Condottiere, arid those others that we spoke 
of." 

"That's right," Sinclair said. "Of course, 
there are more still that I can tell you about 
if . . ." 

"Oh, never mind," I said, "I'll work along 
with those, they're a pretty representative 
crowd. Then Porphirio is under Pio's thumb, 
and Pio is under Demonio's thumb, and the 
Dog is crafty, and Lucia is full of something 
all the time. Oh, I've got a mighty clear idea 
of it," I concluded bitterly. 

"Oh, you've got it," Sinclair said, "I knew 
you'd like it. Now we'll go on. I'll just finish 
to the bottom of rrjy page and then I'll go on 
aloud." 

He ran his eyes rapidly over the lines till he 
came to the bottom of the page, then he cut 
the leaves and turned over. I saw his eye rest 
on the half-dozen lines that confronted him 
on the next page with an expression of utter 
consternation. 

9» 



Getting the Thread of It 



"Well, I will be cursed!" he said at length. 

"What's the matter?" I said gently, with a 
great joy at my heart. 

"This infernal thing's a serial," he gasped, 
as he pointed at the words, "To be continued," 
"and that's all there is in this number." 



91 



Telling His Faults 



OH, do, Mr. Sapling," said the 
beautiful girl at the summer hotel, 
"do let me read the palm of 
your hand! I can tell you all 
your faults." 

Mr. Sapling gave an inarticulate gurgle and 
a roseate flush swept over his countenance as 
he surrendered his palm to the grasp of the 
fair enchantress. 

"Oh, you're just full of faults, just full of 
them, Mr. Sapling 1" she cried. 
Mr. Sapling looked it. 

"To begin with," said the beautiful girl, slow- 
ly and reflectingly, "you are dreadfully cyni- 
cal: you haidly believe in anything at all, and 
you've utterly no faith in us poor women." 

The feeble smile that had hitherto kindled 
the features of Mr. Sapling into a ray of chas- 
tened imbecility, was distorted in an effort at 
cynicism. 

"Then your next fault is that you are too de- 
termined; much too determined. When once 

92 



Telling His Faults 



you have set your will on any object, you crush 
every obstacle under your feet." 

Mr. Sapling looked meekly down at his ten- 
nis shoes, but began to feel calmer, more lifted 
up. Perhaps he had been all these things with- 
out knowing it. 

"Then you are cold and sarcastic." 

Mr. Sapling attempted to look cold and sar- 
castic. He succeeded in a rude leer. 

"And you're horribly world-weary, you care 
for nothing. You have drained philosophy to 
the dregs, and scoff at everything." 

Mr. Sapling's inner feeling was that from 
now on he would simply scoff and scoff and 
scoff. 

"Your only redeeming quality is that you are 
generous. You have tried to kill even this, 
but cannot. Yes," concluded the beautiful girl, 
"those are your faults, generous still, but cold, 
cynical, and relentless. Good night, Mr. Sap- 
ling." 

And resisting all entreaties the beautiful girl 
passed from the verandah of the hotel and van- 
ished. 

And when later in the evening the brother 
of the beautiful girl borrowed Mr. Sapling's 
tennis racket, and his bicycle for a fortnight, 

93 



Literary Lapses 



and the father of the beautiful girl got Sapling 
to endorse his note for a couple of hundreds, 
and her uncle Zephas borrowed his bedroom 
candle and used his razor to cut up a plug of 
tobacco, Mr. Sapling felt proud to be acquainted 
with the family. 



m 



Winter Pastimes 



IT IS in the depth of winter, when the 
intense cold renders it desirable to stay 
at home, that the really Pleasant Family 
is wont to serve invitations upon a few 
friends to spend a Quiet Evening. 

It is at these gatherings that that gay thing, 
the indoor winter game, becomes rampant. It 
is there that the old euchre deck and the staring 
domino become fair and beautiful things; that 
the rattle of the Loto counter rejoices the heart, 
that the old riddle feels the sap stirring in its 
limbs again, and the amusing spilikin completes 
the mental ruin of the jaded guest. Then does 
the Jolly Maiden Aunt propound the query: 
What is the difference between an elephant and 
a silk hat? Or declare that her first is a vowel, 
her second a preposition, and her third an archi- 
pelago. It is to crown such a quiet evening, 
and to give the finishing stroke to those of the 
visitors who have not escaped early, with a 
fierce purpose of getting at the saloons before 
they have time to close, that the indoor game 
or family reservoir of fun is dragged from 

95 



IMerary Lapses 



its long sleep. It is spread out upon the table. 
Its paper of directions is unfolded. Its cards, 
its counters, its pointers and its markers are 
distributed around the table, and the visitor 
forces a look of reckless pleasure upon his 
face. Then the "few simple directions" are 
read aloud by the Jolly Aunt, instructing each 
player to challenge the player holding the 
golden letter corresponding to the digit next in 
order, to name a dead author beginning with 
X, failing which the player must declare him- 
self in fault, and pay the forfeit of handing 
over to the Jolly Aunt his gold watch and all 
his money, or having a hot plate put down his 
neck. 

With a view to bringing some relief to the 
guests at entertainments of this kind, I have en- 
deavoured to construct one or two little winter 
pastimes of a novel character. They are quite 
inexpensive, and as they need no background 
of higher arithmetic or ancient history, they 
are within reach of the humblest intellect. 
Here is one of them. It is called Indoor Foot- 
ball, or Football without a Ball. 

In this game any number of players, from 
fifteen to thirty, seat themselves in a heap on 
any one player, usually the player next to the 

96 



Winter Pastimes 



dealer. They then challenge him to get up, 
while one player stands with a stop-watch in 
his hand and counts forty seconds. Should 
the first player fail to rise before forty seconds 
are counted, the player with the watch de- 
clares him suffocated. This is called a "Down" 
and counts one. The player who was the 
Down is then leant against the wall; his 
wind is supposed to be squeezed out. The 
player called the referee then blows a whistle 
and the players select another player and score 
a down off him. While the player is supposed 
to be down, all the rest must remain seated as 
before, and not rise from him until the referee 
by counting forty and blowing his whistle an- 
nounces that in his opinion the other player is 
stifled. He is then leant against the wall beside 
the first player. When the whistle again blows 
the player nearest the referee strikes him be- 
hind the right ear. This is a "Touch," and 
counts two. 

It is impossible, of course, to give all the 
rules in detail. I might add, however, that 
while it counts two to strike the referee, to 
kick him counts three. To break his arm or 
leg counts four, and to kill him outright Is 
called Grand Slam and counts one game. 

97 



Literary Lapses 



Here is another lltfle thing that I have 
worked out, which is superior to parlour games 
in that it combines their intense excitement with 
sound out-of-door exercise. 

It is easily comprehendedj and can be played 
by any number of players, old and young. It 
requires no other apparatus than a trolley car 
of the ordinary type, a mile or two of track, and 
a few thousand volts of electricity. It is 
called: 

The Suburban Trolley Car 

A Holiday Game for Old and Young. 

The chief part in the game is taken by two 
players who station themselves one at each end 
of the car, and who adopt some distinctive cos- 
tumes to indicate that they are "it." The 
other players occupy the body of the car, or 
take up their position at intervals along the 
track. 

The object of each player should be to enter 
the car as stealthily as possible in such a way 
as to escape the notice of the players in dis- 
tinctive dress. Should he fail to do this he 
must pay the philopena or forfeit. Of these 
there are two: philopena No. i, the payment 
of five cents, and philopena No. 2, being 

98 



Winter Pastimes 



thrown off the car by the neck. Each player 
may elect which philopena he will pay. Any 
player who escapes paying the philopena scores 
one. 

The players who are in the car may elect 
to adopt a standing attitude, or to seat them- 
selves, but no player may seat himself in the 
lap of another without the second player's con- 
sent. The object of those who elect to remain 
standing is to place their feet upon the toes of 
those who sit; when they do this they score. 
The object of those who elect to sit is to elude 
the feet of the standing players. Much merri- 
ment is thus occasioned. 

The player in distinctive costume at the front 
of the car controls a crank, by means of which 
he is enabled to bring the car to a sudden stop, 
or to cause it to plunge violently forward. His 
aim in so doing is to cause all the standing 
players to fall over backward. Every time 
he does this he scores. For this purpose he 
is generally in collusion with the other player 
in distinctive costume, whose business it is to 
let him know by a series of bells and signals 
when the players are not looking, and can be 
easily thrown down. A sharp fall of this sort 
gives rise to no end of banter and good-natured 

99 



Literary Lapses 



drollery, directed against the two players who 
are "it." 

Should a player who is thus thrown back- 
ward save himself from falling by sitting down 
in the lap of a female player, he scores one. 
Any player who scores in this manner Is en- 
titled to remain seated while he may count six, 
after which he must remove himself or pay 
philopena No. 2. 

Should the player who controls the crank 
perceive a player upon the street desirous of 
joining in the game by entering the car, his 
object should be: primo, to run over him and 
kill him; secundo, to kill him by any other 
means in his power; tertio, to let him into the 
car, but to exact the usual philopena. 

Should a player, in thus attempting to get 
on the car from without, become entangled in 
the machinery, the player controlling the crank , 
shouts "huff I" and the car is supposed to pass 
over him. All within the car score one. 

A fine spice of the ludicrous may be added 
to the game by each player pretending that 
he has a destination or stopping-place, 
where he would wish to alight. It now be- 
comes the aim of the two players who are 
"it" to carry him past his point. A player 

100 



Winter Pastimes 



who is thus carried beyond his imaginary 
stopping-place must feign a violent passion, and 
imitate angry gesticulations. He may, in ad- 
dition, feign a great age or a painful infirmity, 
which will be found to occasion the most con- 
vulsive fun for the other players in the 
game. 

These are the main outlines of this most 
amusing pastime. Many other agreeable fea- 
tures may, of course, be readily introduced by 
persons of humour and imagination. 



lOI 



Number Fifty-Six 



WHAT I narrate was told me one 
winter's evening by my friend 
Ah- Yen in the little room behind 
his laundry. Ah- Yen is a quiet 
little celestial with a grave and thoughtful face, 
and that melancholy contemplative disposition 
so often noticed In his countrymen. Be- 
tween myself and Ah-Yen there exists a 
friendship of some years' standing, and we 
spend many a long evening in the dimly lighted 
room behind his shop, smoking a dreamy 
pipe together and plunged in silent meditation. 
I am chiefly attracted to my friend by the 
highly imaginative cast of his mind, which is, 
I believe, a trait of the Eastern character 
and which enables him to forget to a great 
extent the sordid cares of his calling in an 
inner life of his own creation. Of the keen, 
analytical side of his mind, I was in en- 
tire ignorance until the evenlrig of which I 
write. 

The room where we sat was small and dingy, 
with but little furniture except our chairs and 

102 



Number Fifty-Six 



the litde table at which we filled and arranged 
our pipes, and was lighted only by a tallow 
candle. Therd were a few pictures on the 
walls, for the most part rude prints cut from 
the columns of the daily press and pasted 
up to hide the bareness of the room. Only 
one picture was in any way noticeable, a por- 
trait admirably executed in pen and ink. The 
face was that of a young man, a very beau- 
tiful face, but one of infinite sadness. I had 
long been aware, although I know not liow, 
that Ah-Yen had met with a great sorrow, 
and had in some way connected the fact with 
this portrait. I had always refrained, how- 
ever, from asking him about it, and it was not 
until the evening in question that I knew its 
history. 

' We had been smoking in silence for some 
time when Ah-Yen spoke. My friend is a man 
of culture and wide reading, and his English 
is consequently perfect in its construction; his 
speech is, of course, marked by the lingering 
liquid accent of his country which I will not 
attempt to reproduce. 

"I see," he said, "that you have been ex- 
amining the portrait of my unhappy friend, 
Fifty-Six. I have never yet told you of my 

103 



lAtefary Lapses 



bereavement, but as to-night is the anniversary 
of his death, I would fain speak of him for a 
while." 

Ah-Yen paused; I lighted my pipe afresh, 
and nodded to him to show that I was listening. 

"I do not know," he went on, "at what pre- 
cise time Fifty-Six came into my life. I could 
indeed find it out by examining my books, but 
I have never troubled to do so. Naturally 
I took no more interest in him at first than 
in any other of my customers — less, perhaps, 
since he never in the course of our connection 
brought his clothes to me himself but always 
sent them by a boy. When I presently per- 
ceived that he was becoming one of my regular 
customers, I allotted to him his number, Fifty- 
Six, and began to speculate as to who and 
what he was. Before long I had reached sev- 
eral conclusions in regard to my unknown client. 
The quality of his linen showed me that, if 
not rich, he was at any rate fairly well off. I 
could see that he was a young man of regular 
Christian life, who went out into society to 
a certain extent; this I could tell from his 
sending the same number of articles to the 
laundry, from his washing always coming on 
Saturday night, and from the fact that 

104 



Number Fifty-Six 



he wore a dress shirt about once a week. 
In disposition he was a modest, unassum- 
ing fellow, for his collars were only two inches 
high." 

I stared at Ah-Yen in some amazement, the 
recent publications of a favourite novelist had 
rendered me familiar with this process of an- 
alytical reasoning, but I was prepared for no 
such revelations from my Eastern friend. 

"When I first knew him," Ah-Yen went on, 
"Fifty-Six was a student at the university. 
This, of course, I did not know for some time. 
I inferred it, however, in the course of time, 
from his absence from town during the four 
summer months, and from the fact that during 
the time of the university examinations the 
cuffs of his shirts came to me covered with 
dates, formulas, and propositions in geometry. 
I followed him with no little interest through 
his university career. During the four years 
which it lasted, I washed for him every week; 
my regular connection with him and the in- 
sight which my observation gave me into the 
lovable character of the man, deepened my 
first esteem into a profound affection and I 
became most anxious for his success. I 
helped him at each succeeding examination, as 

195 



lAterary Lapses 



far as lay in my power, by starching his shirts 
half-way to the elbow, so as to leave him as 
much room as possible for annotations. My 
anxiety during the strain of his final examina- 
tion I will not attempt to describe. That 
Fifty-Six was undergoing the great crisis of 
his academic career, I could infer from the 
state of his handkerchiefs which, in apparent 
unconsciousness, he used as pen-wipers during 
the final test. His conduct throughout the ex- 
amination bore witness to the moral develop- 
ment which had taken place in his character 
during his career as an undergraduate ; for the 
notes upon his cuffs which had been so copious 
at his earlier examinations were limited now 
to a few hints, and these upon topics so intri- 
cate as to defy an ordinary memory. It was 
with a thrill of joy that I at last received in 
his laundry bundle one Saturday early in June, 
a ruffled dress shirt, the bosom of which was 
thickly spattered with the spillings of the wine- 
cup, and realised that Fifty-Six had banqueted 
as a Bachelor of Arts. 

"In the following winter the habit of wip- 
ing his pen upon his handkerchief, which I 
had remarked during his final examination, be- 
came chronic with him, and I knew that he 
jo6 



Number Fifty-Sicc 



had entered upon the study of law. He worked 
hard during that year, and dress shirts al- 
most disappeared from his weekly bundle. It 
was in the following winter, the second year 
of his . legal studies, that the tragedy of his 
life began. I became aware that a change had 
come over his laundry, from one, or at most 
two a week, his dress shirts rose to four, and 
silk handkerchiefs began to replace his linen 
ones. It dawned upon me that Fifty-Six was 
abandoning the rigorous tenor of his student 
life and was going into society. I presently 
perceived something more,; Fifty-Six was in 
love. It was soon impossible to doubt it. He 
was wearing seven shirts a week; linen hand- 
kerchiefs disappeared from his laundry; his 
collars rose from two inches to two and a 
quarter, and finally to two and a half. I have 
in my possession one of his laundry lists of 
that period ; a glance at it will show the scrup- 
ulous care which he bestowed upon his per- 
son. Well do I remember the dawning hopes 
of those days, alternating with the gloomiest 
despair. Each Saturday I opened his bundle 
with a: trembling eagerness to catch the first 
signs of a return of his love. I helped my 
friend in every way that I could. His shirts 

107 



UL' ' . . i 

Laterary Lapses 

and collars were masterpieces of my art, 
though my hand often shook with agitation as 
I applied the starch. She ,was a brave noble 
girl, that I knew; her influenp was elevat- 
ing the whole nature of Fifty^Six; until now 
he had had in his possession/ a certain num- 
ber of detached cuffs and false shirt-fronts. 
These he discarded now, — at first the false 
shirt-fronts, scorning the very idea of fraud, 
and after a time, in his enthusiasm, abandon- 
ing even the cuffs. I cannot look back upon 
those bright happy days of courtship without 
a sigh. 

"The happmess ot Fifty-Six seemed to enter 
into and fill my whole life. I lived but from 
Saturday to Saturday. The appearance of 
false shirt-fronts would cast me to the lowest 
depths of despair; their absence raised me tp 
a pinnacle of hope. It was not till winter soft- 
ened into spring that Fifty-Six nerved himself 
to learn his fate. One Saturday he sent me a 
new white waistcoat, a garment which had 
hitherto been shunned by his modest nature, 
to prepare for his use. I bestowed upon it 
all the resources of my art; I read his pur- 
pose in it. On the Saturday following it was 
returned to me and, with tears of joy, I marked 
ie8 



Number Fifty-Six 



where a warm little hand had rested fondly 
on the right shoulder, and knew that Fifty- 
Six was the accepted lover of his sweet- 
heart." 

Ah-Yen paused and sat for some time silent; 
his pipe had sputtered out and lay cold in the 
hollow of his hand; his eye was fixed upon the 
wall where the light and shadows shifted in 
the dull flickering of the candle. At last he 
spoke again: 

"I will not dwell upon the happy days that 
ensued — days of gaudy summer neckties and 
white waistcoats, of spotless shirts and lofty 
collars worn but a single day by the fastidious 
lover. Our happiness seemed complete and 
I asked no more from fate. Alas ! it was not 
destined to continue! When the bright days 
of summer were fading into autumn, I was 
grieved to notice an occasional quarrel — only 
four shirts instead of seven, or the reappear- 
ance of the abandoned cuffs and shirt-fronts. 
Reconciliations followed, with tears of peni- 
tence upon the shoulder of the white waistcoat, 
and the seven shirts came back. But the quar- 
rels grew more frequent and there came at 
times stormy scenes of passionate emotion that 
left a track of broken buttons down the waist- 

169 



Ldterary Lapses 



coat. The shirts went slowly down to three, 
then fell to two, and the collars of my un- 
happy friend subsided to an inch and three- 
quarters. In vain I lavished my utmost care 
upon Fifty-Six. It seemed to my tortured mind 
that the gloss upon his shirts and collars would 
have melted a heart of stone. Alas ! my every 
effort at reconciliation seemed to fail. An 
awful month passed; the false fronts and de- 
tached cuffs were all back again; the unhappy 
lover seemed to glory in their perfidy. At 
last, one gloomy evening, I found on opening 
his bundle that he had bought a stock of cellu- 
loids, and my heart told me that she had aban- 
doned him for ever. Of what my poor friend 
suffered at this time, I can give you no idea; 
suffice it to say that he passed from celluloid 
to a blue flannel shirt and from blue to grey. 
The sight of a red cotton handkerchief in his 
wash at length warned me that his disappointed 
love had unhinged his mind, and I feared the 
worst. Then came an agonising interval of 
three weeks during which he sent me noth- 
ing, and after that came the last parcel that 
I ever received from him — an enormous bundle 
that seemed to contain all his effects. In this, 
to my horror, I discovered one shirt the breast 
no 



Number Fifty-Six 



of which was stained a deep crimson with his 
blood, and pierced by a ragged hole that showed 
where a bullet had singed through into his 
heart. 

"A fortnight before, I remembered having 
heard the street boys crying the news of an 
appalling suicide, and I know now that it must 
have been he. After the first shock of my 
grief had passed, I sought to keep him in my 
memory by drawing the portrait which hangs 
beside you. I have some skill in the art, and 
I feel assured that I have caught the expression 
of his face. The picture is, of course, an ideal 
one, for, as you know, I never saw Fifty-Six." 

The bell on the door of the outer shop 
tinkled at the entrance of a customer. Ah-Yen 
rose with that air of quiet resignation that 
habitually marked his demeanour, and remained 
for some time in the shop. When he returned 
he seemed in no mood to continue speaking 
of his lost friend. I left him soon after and 
walked sorrowfully home to my lodgings. On 
my way I mused much upon my little Eastern 
friend and the sympathetic grasp of his im- 
agination. But a burden lay heavy on my heart 
— something I would fain have told him but 
which I could not bear to mention. I could 



Ldterary Lapses 



not find It in my heart to shatter the airy 
castle of his fancy. For my life has been Se- 
cluded and lonely and I have known no love 
like that of my ideal friend. Yet I have a 
haunting recollection of a certain huge bundle 
of washing that I sent to him about a year 
ago. I had been absent from town for three 
weeks and my laundry was much larger than 
usual in consequence. And if I mistake not 
there was in the bundle a tattered shirt tha;t 
had been grievously stained by the breaking 
of a bottle of red Ink in my portmanteau, and 
burnt in one place where an ash fell from my 
cigar as I made up the bundle. Of all this 
I cannot feel absolutely certain, yet I know at 
least that until a year ago, when I transferred 
my custom to a more modern establishment, 
my laundry number with Ah-Yen was Fifty- 
Six. 



112 



Aristocratic Education 



HOUSE OF LORDS, Jan. 25, 1920. 
— The House of Lords com- 
menced to-day in Committee the 
consideration of Clause No. 52,000 
of the Education Bill, dealing with the teach- 
ing of Geometry in the schools. 

The Leader of the Government in present- 
ing the clause urged upon their Lordships the 
need of conciliation. The Bill, he said, had 
now been before their Lordships for sixteen 
years. The Government had made every con- 
cession. They had accepted all the amend- 
ments of their Lordships on the opposite side 
in regard to the original provisions of the Bill. 
They had consented also to insert in the Bill a 
detailed programme of studies of which the 
present clause, enunciating the fifth proposi- 
tion of Euclid, was a part. He would there- 
fore ask their Lordships to accept the clause 
drafted as follows: 

"The angles at the base of an isosceles 
triangle are equal, and if the equal sides of the 

113 



Literary Lapses 



triangle are produced, the exterior angles will 
also be equal." 

He would hasten to add that the Govern- 
ment had no intention of producing the sides. 
Contingencies might arise to render such a 
course necessary, but in that case their Lord- 
ships would receive an early intimation of the 
fact. 

The Archbishop of Canterbury spoke against 
the clause. He considered it, in its present 
form, too secular. He should wish to amend 
the clause so as to make it read: 

"The angles at the base of an isosceles tri- 
angle are, in every Christian community, equal, 
and if the sides be produced by a member of 
a Christian congregation, the exterior angles 
will be equal." 

He was aware, he continued, that the angles 
at the base of an isosceles triangle are ex- 
tremely equal, but he must remind the Gov- 
ernment that the Church had been aware of 
this for several years past. He was willmg 
also to admit that the opposite sides and ends 
of a parallelogram are equal, but he thought 
that such admission should be coupled with a 
distinct recognition of the existence of a Su- 
preme Being. 

114 



Aristocratic Education 



The Leader of the Government accepted 
His Grace's amendment with pleasure. He 
considered it the brightest amendment His 
Grace had made that week. The Government, 
he said, was aware of the intimate relation in 
which His Grace stood to the bottom end of 
a parallelogram and was prepared to respect 
it. 

Lord Halifax rose to offer a further amend- 
ment. He thought the present case was one 
in which the "four-fifths" clause ought to apply: 
he should wish it stated that the angles are 
equal for two days every week, except in the 
case of schools where four-fifths of the par- 
ents are conscientiously opposed to the use of 
the isosceles triangle. 

The Leader of the Government thought the 
amendment a singularly pleasing one. He ac- 
cepted it and would like it understood that the 
words isosceles triangle were not meant in any 
offensive sense. 

Lord Rosebery spoke at some length. He 
considered the clause unfair to Scotland where 
the high state of morality rendered education 
unnecessary. Unless an amendment in this 
sense was accepted, it might be necessary to 
reconsider the Act of Union of 1707. 



lAterary Lapses 



The Leader of the Government said that 
Lord Rosebery's amendment was the best he 
had heard yet. The Government accepted it 
at once. They were willing to make every con- 
cession. They would, if need be, reconsider 
the Norman Conquest. 

The Duke of Devonshire took exception to 
the part of the clause relating to the produc- 
tion of the sides. He did not think the country 
was prepared for it. It was unfair to the pro- 
ducer. He would like the clause altered to 
read, "if the sides be produced in the home 
market." 

The Leader of the Government accepted with 
pleasure His Grace's amendment. He consid- 
ered it quite sensible. He would now, as it was 
near the hour of rising, present the clause in its 
revised form. He hoped, however, that their 
Lordships would find time to think out some 
further amendments for the evening sitting. 

The clause was then read. 

His Grace of Canterbury then moved that 
the House, in all humility, adjourn for dinner. 



ii6 



The Conjurer's Revenge ^ 



NOW, ladies and gentlemen," said the 
conjurer, "having shown you that 
the cloth is absolutely empty, I will 
proceed to take from it a bowl of 
goldfish. Presto!" 

All around the hall people were saying, 
"Oh, how wonderful! How does he do 
it?" 

But the Quick Man on the front seat said 
in a big whisper to the people near him, "He — i 
had — it — up — ^his— sleeve." 

Then the people nodded brightly at the 
Quick Man and said, "Oh, of course"; and 
everybody whispered round the hall, "He — 
had — it — up— his — sleeve." 

"My next trick," said the conjurer, "is the 
famous Hindostanee rings. You will notice 
that the rings are apparently separate; at a 
blow they all join (clang, clang, clang) — 
Presto!" 

There was a general buzz of stupefaction till 
the Quick Man was heard to whisper, "He — 

"7 



Literary Lapses 



must — have — had — another — ^lot — up — his — 
sleeve." 

Again everybody nodded and whispered, 
"The — rings — ^were — up — his — sleeve." 

The brow of the conjurer was clouded with a 
gathering frown. 

"I will now," he continued, "show you a 
most amusing trick by which I am enabled to 
take any number of eggs from a hat. Will 
some gentleman kindly lend me his hat? Ah, 
thank you — Presto I" 

He extracted seventeen eggs, and for thirty- 
five seconds the audience began to think that 
he was wonderful. Then the Quick Man whis- 
pered along the front bench, "He — has — a — 
hen — ^up — ^his — sleeve," and all the people 
whispered it on. "He — has — a — ^lot — of — 
hens— up — ^his — sleeve." 

The egg trick was ruined. 

It went on like that all through. It tran- 
spired from the whispers of the Quick Man 
that the conjurer must have concealed up his 
sleeve, in addition to the rings, hens, and fish, 
several packs of cards, a loaf of bread, a doll's 
cradle, a live guinea-pig, a fifty-cent piece, and 
a rocking-chair. 

The reputation of the conjurer was rapidly 
ii8 



The Conjurer's Revenge 



sinking below zero. At the close of the evening 
he rallied for a final effort. 

"Ladies and gentlemen," he said, "I will pre- 
sent to you, in conclusion, the famous Japanese 
trick recently invented by the natives of Tipper- 
ary. Will you, sir," he continued, turning 
toward the Quick Man, "will you kindly hand 
me your gold watch?" 

It was passed to him. 

"Have I your permission to put it into this 
mortar and pound it to pieces?" he asked sav- 
agely. 

The Quick Man nodded and smiled. 

The conjurer threw the watch into the mor- 
tar and grasped a sledge hammer from the 
table. There was a sound of violent smashing. 
"He's — slipped — ^it — ^up — ^his — sleeve," whis- 
pered the Quick Man. 

"Now, sir," continued the conjurer, "will 
you allow me to take your handkerchief and 
punch holes in it? Thank you. You see, ladies 
and gentlemen, there is no deception, the holes 
are visible to the eye." 

The face of the Quick Man beamed. This 
time the real mystery of the thing fascinated 
him. 

"And now, sir, will you kindly pass me your 
"9 



lAterary Lapses 



silk hat and allow me to dance on it? Thank 
you." 

The conjurer made a few rapid passes with 
his feet and exhibited the hat crushed beyond 
recognition. 

"And will you now, sir, take off your cellu- 
loid collar and permit me to burn it in the 
candle? Thank you, sir. And will you allow 
me to smash your spectacles for you with my 
hammer? Thank you." 

By this time the features of the Quick Man 
were assuming a puzzled expression. "This 
thing beats me," he whispered, "I don't see 
through it a bit." i 

There was a great hush upon the audience. 
Then the conjurer drew himself up to his full 
height and, with a withering look at the Quitk 
Man, he concluded: 

"Ladies and gentlemen, you will observe that 
I have, with this gentlemen's permission, bro- 
ken his watch, burnt his collar, smashed his spec- 
tacles, and danced on his hat. If he will give 
me the further permission to paint green 
stripes on his overcoat, or to tie his sijspenders 
in a knot, I shall be delighted to entertain 
you. If not, the performance is at an 
end," 

;2Q 



The Conjurer's Revenge 



And amid a glorious burst of music from 
the orchestra the curtain fell, and the audience 
dispersed, convinced that there are some tricks, 
at any rate, that are not done up the conjur- 
er's sleeve. 



in 



Hints to Travellers 



THE following hints and observations 
have occurred to me during a recent 
trip across the continent: they are 
written in no spirit of complaint 
against existing railroad methods, but merely 
in the hope that they may prove useful to those 
who travel, like myself, in a spirit of meek, 
observant ignorance. 

I. Sleeping in a Pullman car presents some 
difficulties to the novice. Care should be taken 
to allay all sense of danger. The frequent 
whistling of the engine during the night is apt 
to be a source of alarm. Find out, therefore, 
before travelling, the meaning of the various 
whistles. One means "station," two, "rail- 
road crossing," and so on. Five whistles, short 
and rapid, mean sudden danger. When you 
hear whistles in the night, sit up smartly in your 
bunk and count them. Should they reach five, 
draw on your trousers over your pyjamas and 
leave the train instantly. As a further pre- 
caution against accident, sleep with the feet 
towards the engine if you prefer to have the 

199 



Hints to Travellers 



feet crushed, or with the head towards the 
engine, if you think it best to have the head 
crushed. In making this decision try to be 
as unselfish as possible. If indifferent, sleep 
crosswise with the head hanging over into the 
aisle. 

2. I have devoted some thought to the 
proper method of changing trains. The sys- 
tem which I have observed to be the most popu- 
lar with travellers of my own class, is some- 
thing as follows : Suppose that you have been 
told on leaving New York that you are to 
change at Kansas City. The evening before 
approaching Kansas City, stop the conductor 
in the aisle of the car (you can do this best by 
putting out your foot and tripping him), and 
say politely, "Do I change at Kansas City?" 
He says "Yes." Very good. Don't believe 
him. On going into the dining-car for supper, 
take a negro aside and put it to him as a per- 
sonal matter between a white man and a black, 
whether he thinks you ought to change at Kan- 
sas City. Don't be satisfied with this. In the 
course of the evening pass through the entire 
train from time to time, and say to people casu- 
ally, "Oh, can you tell me if I change at Kan- 
sas City?" Ask the conductor about it a few 

123 



Literary Lapses 



more times in the evening: a repetition of the 
question will ensure pleasant relations with him. 
Before falling asleep watch for his passage 
and ask him through the curtains of your berth, 
*fOh, by the way, did you say I changed at 
Kansas City?" If he refuses to stop, hook 
him by the neck with your walking-stick, and 
draw him gently to your bedside. In the morn- 
ing when the train stops and a man calls, "Kan- 
sas City I All change!" approach the con- 
ductor again and say, "Is this Kansas City?" 
Don't be discouraged at his answer. Pick your- 
self up and go to the other end of the car and 
say to the brakesman, "Do you know, sir, if this 
is Kansas City?" Don't be too easily con- 
vinced. Remember that both brakesman 
and conductor may be in collusion to deceive 
you. Look around, therefore, for the name of 
the station on the signboard. Having ft)und it, 
alight and ask the first man you see if this 
is Kansas City. He will answer, "Why, 
where in blank are your blank eyes? Can't 
you see it there, plain as blank?" When 
you hear language of this sort, ask no more. 
You are now in Kansas and this is Kansas 
City. 

3. I have observed that it is now the prac- 
124 



Hints to Travellers 



tice of the conductors to stick bits of paper 
in the hats of the passengers. They do this, 
I believe, to mark which ones they like best. 
The device is pretty, and adds much to the 
scenic appearance of the car. But I notice 
with pain that the system is fraught with much 
trouble for the conductors. The task of crush- 
ing two or three passengers together, in order 
to reach over them and stick a ticket into the 
chinks of a silk skull cap is embarrassing for 
a conductor of refined feelings. It would be 
simpler if the conductor should carry a small 
hammer and a packet of shingle nails and nail 
the paid-up passenger to the back of the seat. 
Or better still, let the conductor carry a small 
pot of paint and a brush, and mark the pas- 
sengers in such a way that he cannot easily 
mistake them. In the case of bald-headed pas- 
sengers, the hats might be politely removed 
and red crosses painted on the craniums. 
This will indicate that they are bald. Through 
passengers might be distinguished by a com- 
plete coat of paint. In the hands of a man 
of taste, much might be effected by a little 
grouping of painted passengers and the lei- 
sure time of the conductor agreeably occu- 
pied. 

I2S 



IMerary Lapses 



4. I have observed in travelling in the West 
that the irregularity of railroad accidents is a 
fruitful cause of complaint. The frequent dis- 
appointment of the holders of accident policy 
tickets on western roads is leading to wide- 
spread protest. Certainly the conditions of 
travel in the West are altering rapidly and ac- 
cidents can no longer be relied upon. This is 
deeply to be regretted, in so much as, apart 
from accidents, the tickets may be said to be 
practically valueless. 



12S 



A Manual of Education 



THE few selections below are offered 
as a specimen page of a little book 
which I have in course of prepara- 
tion. 
Every man has somewhere in the back of 
his head the wreck of a thing which he calls 
his education. My book is intended to em- 
body in concise form these remnants of early 
instruction. 

Educations are divided into splendid educa- 
tions, thorough classical educations, and aver- 
age educations. All very old men have splendid 
educations; all men who apparently know noth- 
ing else have thorough classical educations; no- 
body has an average education. 

An education, when it is all written out on 
foolscap, covers nearly ten sheets. It takes 
about six years of severe college training to ac- 
quire it. Even then a man often finds that he 
somehow hasn't got his education just where 
he can put his thumb on it. When my little book 
of eight or ten pages has appeared, everybody 
may carry his education in his hip pocket. 

127 



Ldterary Lapses 



Those who have not had the advantage of 
an early training will be enabled, by a few 
hours of conscientious application, to put them- 
selves on an equal footing with the most schoU 
arly. 

The selections are chosen entirely at ran- 
dom. 

I. — Remains of Astronomy 

Astronomy teaches the correct use of the 
sun and the planets. These may be put on a 
frame of little sticks and turned round. This 
causes the tides. Those at the ends of the 
sticks are enormously far away. From time to 
time a diligent searching of the sticks reveals 
new planets. The orbit of a planet is the dis- 
tance the stick goes round in going round. As- 
tronomy is intensely interesting; it should be 
done at night, in a high tower in Spitzbergen. 
This is to avoid the astronomy being inter- 
rupted. A really good astronomer can tell 
when a comet is coming too near him by the 
warning buzz of the revolving sticks. 

II. — Remains of History 

Aztecs : A ' fabulous race, half man, half 
horse, half mound-builder. They flourished 
128 



A Manual of Education 



at about the same time as the early Cali- 
thumpians. They have left some awfully stu- 
pendous monuments of themselves some- 
where. 

Life of Caesar: A famous Roman general, 
the last who ever landed in Britain without 
being stopped at the custom house. On re- 
turning to his Sabine farm (to fetch some- 
thing) , he was stabbed by Brutus, and died with 
the words "Veni, vidi, tekel, upharsim" in his 
throat. The jury returned a verdict of strangu- 
lation. 

Life of Voltaire : A Frenchman ; very bitter. 

Life of Schopenhauer: A German; very 
deep; but it was not really noticeable when he 
sat down. 

Life of Dante: An Italian; the first to in- 
troduce the banana and the class of street orgaa 
known as "Dante's Inferno." 

Peter the Great, 
Alfred the Great, 
Frederick the Great, 
John the Great, 
Tom the Great, 
Jim the Great, 
Jo the Great, etc., 
etc. 



It is impossible for a busy 
man to keep these apart. They 
sought a living as kings and 
apostles and pugilists and so on. 



129 



Literary Lapses 



III. — Remains of Botany 

Botany is the art of plants. Plants are di- 
vided into trees, flowers, and vegetables. The 
true botanist knows a tree as soon as he sees 
it. He learns to distinguish it from a vege- 
table by merely putting his ear to it. 

IV. — Remains of Natural Science 

Natural Science treats of motion and force. 
Many of its teachings remain as part of an edu- 
cated man's permanent equipment in life. 

Such are: 

(a) The harder you shovel a bicycle the 
faster it will go. This is because of natural 
science. 

(b) If you fall from a high tower, you fall 
quicker and quicker and quicker; a judicious 
selection of a tower will ensure any rate of 
speed. 

(c) If you put your thumb in between two 
cogs it will go on and on, until the wheels are 
arrested, by your suspenders. This is ma- 
chinery. 

130 



A Manual of Education 



(d) Electricity is of two kinds, positive and 
negative. The difference is, I presume, that 
one kind comes a little more expensive, but is 
more durable; the other is a cheaper thing, but 
the moths get into it. 



131 



Hoodoo McFiggin's Christmas 

THIS Santa Claus business is played 
out. It's a sneaking, underhand 
method, and the sooner it's exposed 
the better. 
For a parent to get up under cover of the 
darkness of night and palm off a ten-cent neck- 
tie on a boy who had been expecting a ten-dollar 
watch, and then say that an angel sent it to 
him, is low, undeniably low. 

I had a good opportunity of observing how 
the thing worked this Christmas, in the case 
of young Hoodoo McFiggin, the son and 
heir of the McFiggins, at whose house I 
board. 

Hoodoo McFiggin is a good boy — a religious 
boy. He had been given to understand that 
Santa Claus would bring nothing to his father 
and mother because grown-up people don't get 
presents from the angels. So he saved up all 
his pocket-money and bought a box of cigars 
for his father and a seventy-five-cent diamond 
brooch for his mother. His own fortunes 
132 



Hoodoo McFiggin's Christmas 

he left in the hands of the angels. But he 
prayed. He prayed every night for weeks 
that Santa Claus would bring him a pair 
of skates and a puppy-dog and an air-gun 
and a bicycle and a Noah's ark and 
a sleigh and a drum — altogether about 
a hundred and fifty dollars' worth of 
stuff. 

I went into Hoodoo's room quite early 
Christmas morning. I had an idea that the 
scene would be interesting. I woke him up 
and he sat up in bed, his eyes glistening with 
radiant expectation, and began hauling things 
out of his stocking. 

The first parcel was bulky; it was done up 
quite loosely and had an odd look generally. 

"Ha! hal" Hoodoo cried gleefully, as he 
began undoing it. "I'll bet it's the puppy- 
dog, all wrapped up in paper!" 

And was it the puppy-dog? No, by no means, 
It was a pair of nice, strong, number-four boots, 
laces and all, labelled, "Hoodoo, from Santa 
Claus," and underneath Santa Claus had writ- 
ten, "95 net." 

The boy's jaw fell with delight. "It's 
boots," he said, and plunged in his hand 
again. 

133 



JJierary Lapses 



He began hauling away at another parcel 
with renewed hope on his face. 

This time the thing seemed like a little round 
box. Hoodoo tore the paper off it with a fe- 
verish hand. He shook it; something rattled 
inside. 

"It's a watch and chain I It's a watch and 
chain!" he shouted. Then he pulled the lid 
off. 

And was it a watch and chain ? No. It was 
a box of nice, brand-new celluloid collars, 
a dozen of them all alike and all his own 
size. 

The boy was so pleased that you could see 
his face crack up with pleasure. 

He waited a few minutes until his intense 
joy subsided. Then he tried again. 

This time the packet was long and hard. It 
resisted the touch and had a sort of funnel 
shape. 

"It's a toy pistol!" said the boy, trembling 
with excitement. "Gee ! I hope there are lots 
of caps with it ! I'll fire some off now and wake 
up father." 

No, my poor child, you will not wake your 
father with that. It is a useful thing, but it 
needs not caps and it fires no bullets, and you 
134 



Hoodoo McFiggin's Christmas 

cannot wake a sleeping man with a tooth-brush. 
Yes, it was a tooth-brush — a regular beauty, 
pure bone all through, and ticketed with 
a little paper, "Hoodoo, from Santa 
Claus." 

Again the expression of intense joy passed 
over the boy's face, and the tears of gratitude 
started from his eyes. He wiped them away 
with his tooth-brush and passed on. 

The next packet was much larger and evi- 
dently contained something soft and bulky. It 
had been too long to go into the stocking and 
was tied outside. 

"I wonder what this is," Hoodoo mused, 
half afraid to open it. Then his heart gave 
a great leap, and he forgot all his other pres- 
ents in the anticipation of this one. "It's the 
drum !" he gasped. "It's the drum, all wrapped 
up I" 

Drum nothing! It was pants — a pair of 
the nicest little short pants — ^yellowish-brown 
short pants — with dear little stripes of colour 
running across both ways, and here again 
Santa Claus had written, "Hoodoo, from 
Santa Claus, one fort net." 

But there was something wrapped up in it. 
Oh, yes I There was a pair of braces wrapped 

135 



lAterary Lapses 



up in it, braces with a little steel sliding thing 
so that you could slide your pants up to your 
neck, if you wanted to. 

The boy gave a dry sob of satisfaction. 
Then he took out his last present. "It's 
a book," he said, as he unwrapped it. "I won- 
der if it is fairy stories or adventures. Oh, 
I hope it's adventures 1 I'll read it all morn- 
ing." 

No, Hoodoo, it was not precisely adventures. 
It was a small family Bible. Hoodoo had now 
seen all his presents, and he arose and dressed. 
But he still had the fun of playing with his toys. 
That is always the chief delight of Christmas 
morning. 

First he played with his tooth-brush. He 
got a whole lot of water and brushed all his 
teeth with it. This was huge. 

Then he played with his collars. He had 
no end of fun with them, taking them all out 
one by one and swearing, at them, and then 
putting them back and swearing at the whole 
lot together. 

The next toy was his pants. He had im- 
mense fun there, putting them on and taking 
them off again, and then trying to guess which 
side was which by merely looking at them. 

136 



Hoodoo McFiggm's 'Christmas 

After that he took his book and read some 
adventures called "Genesis" till breakfast- 
time. 

Then he went downstairs and kissed his fath- 
er and mother. His father was smoking a ci- 
gar, and his mother had her new brooch on. 
Hoodoo's face was thoughtful, and a light 
seemed to have broken in upon his mind. In- 
deed, I think it altogether likely that next 
Christmas he will hang on to his own money and 
take chances on what the angels bring. 



137 



The Life of John Smith 



THE lives of great men occupy a large 
section of our literature. The great 
man is certainly a wonderful thing. 
He walks across his century and 
leaves the marks of his feet all over it, ripping 
out the dates on his goloshes as he passes. It 
is impossible to get up a revolution or a new 
religion, or a national awakening of any sort, 
without his turning up, putting himself at the 
head of it and collaring all the gate-receipts 
for himself. Even after his death he leaves a 
long trail of second-rate relations spattered over 
the front seats of fifty years of history. 

Now the lives of great men are doubtless 
infinitely interesting. But at times I must con- 
fess to a sense of reaction and an idea that the 
ordinary common man is entitled to have his 
biography written too. It is to illustrate this 
view that I write the life of John Smith, a man 
neither good nor great, but just the/ usual, 
everyday homo like you and me and the rest 
of us. 

From his earliest childhood John Smith was 
138 



>^itea*i^Bd^ta 



The Life of John Smith 



marked out from his comrades by nothing. The 
marvellous precocity of the boy did not as- 
tonish his preceptors. Books were not a pas- 
sion for him from his youth, neither did any 
old man put his hand on Smith's head and say, 
mark his words, this boy would some day be- 
come a man. Nor yet was it his father's wont 
to gaze on him with a feeling amounting al- 
most to awe. By no means! All his father 
did was to wonder whether Smith was a darn 
fool because he couldn't help it, or because 
he thought it smart. In other words, he was 
just like you and me and the rest of us. 

In those athletic sports which were the orna- 
ment of the youth of his day, Smith did not, 
as great men do, excel his fellows. He couldn't 
ride worth a darn. He couldn't skate worth 
a darn. He couldn't swim worth a darn. He 
couldn't shoot worth a darn. He couldn't 
do anything worth a darn. He was just like 
us. 

Nor did the bold cast of the boy's mind 
offset his physical defects, as it invariably does 
in the biographies. On the contrary. He was 
afraid of his father. He was afraid of his 
school-teacher. He was afraid of dogs. He 
was afraid of guns. He was afraid of light- 

139 



IMerary Lapses 



ning. He was afraid of hell. He was afraid 
of girls. 

In the boy's choice of a profession there 
was not seen that keen longing for a life-work 
that we find in the celebrities. He didn't want 
to be a lawyer, because you have to know 
law. He didn't want to be a doctor, because 
you have to know medicine. He didn't want 
to be a business-man, because you have to 
know business; and he didn't want to be a 
school-teacher, because he had seen too many 
of them. As far as he had any choice, it lay 
between being Robinson Crusoe and being the 
Prince of Wales. His father refused him 
both and put him into a dry goods establish- 
ment. 

Such was the childhood of Smith. At its 
close there was nothing in his outward appear- 
ance to mark the man of genius. The casual 
observer could have seen no genius concealed 
behind the wide face, the massive mouth, the 
long slanting forehead, and the tall ear that 
swept up to the close-cropped head. Certainly 
he couldn't. There wasn't any concealed there. 

It was shortly after his start in business life 
that Smith was stricken with the first of those 
distressing attacks, to which he afterwards be- 
140 



The Ldfe of John Smith 



came subject. It seized him late one night as 
he was returning home from a delightful even- 
ing of song and praise with a few old school 
chums. Its symptoms were a peculiar heaving 
of the sidewalk, a dancing of the street lights, 
and a crafty shifting to and fro of the houses, 
requiring a very nice discrimination in selecting 
his own. There was a strong desire not to 
drink water throughout the entire attack, which 
showed that the thing was evidently a form 
of hydrophobia. From this time on, these 
painful attacks became chronic with Smith. 
They were liable to come on at any time, but 
especially on Saturday nights, on the first of 
the month, and on Thanksgiving Day. He 
always had a very severe attack of hydropho- 
bia on Christmas Eve, and after elections it was 
fearful. 

There was one incident in Smith's career 
which he did, perhaps, share with regret. He 
had scarcely reached manhood when he met 
the most beautiful girl in the world. She was 
different from all other women. She had a 
deeper nature than other people. Smith real- 
ised it at once. She could feel and understand 
things that ordinary people couldn't. She 
could understand him. She had a great sense 

141 



lAterary Lapses 



of humour and an exquisite appreciation of a 
joke. He told her the six that he knew one 
night and she thought them great. Her mere 
presence made Smith feel as if he had swal- 
lowed a sunset: the first time that his finger 
brushed against hers, he felt a thrill all through 
him. He presently found that if he took a 
firm hold of her hand with his, he could get a 
fine thrill, and if he sat beside her on a sofa, 
with his head against her ear and his arm about 
once and a half round her, he could get what 
you might call a first-class, A-i thrill. Smith 
became filled with the idea that he would like 
to have her always near him. He suggested 
an arrangement to her, by which she should 
come and live in the same house with him and 
take personal charge of his clothes and his 
meals. She was to receive in return her board 
and' washing, about seventy-five cents a week 
in ready money, and Smith was to be her 
slave. 

After Smith had been this woman's slave for 
some time, baby fingers stole across his life, 
then another set of them, and then more and 
more till the house was full of them. The wo- 
man's mother began to steal across his life, 
too, and every time she came Smith had hydro- 
142 



The Life of John Smith 



phobia frightfully. Strangely enough there was 
no little prattler that was taken from his life 
and became a saddened, hallowed memory to 
him. Oh, no I The little Smiths were not that 
kind of prattler. The whole nine grew up into 
tall, lank boys wit;h massive mouths and great 
sweeping ears like their father's, and no talent 
for anything. 

The life of Smith never seemed to bring him 
to any of those great turning-points that occur- 
red in the lives of the great. True, the pass- 
ing years brought some change of fortune. He 
was moved up in his dry-goods establishment 
from the ribbon counter to the collar counter, 
from the collar counter to the gents' panting 
counter, and from the gents' panting to the 
gents' fancy shirting. Then, as he grew aged 
and ineiEcient, they moved him down again 
from the gents' fancy shirting to the gents' 
panting, and so on to the ribbon counter. And 
when he grew quite old they dismissed him and 
got a boy with a four-inch mouth and sandy- 
coloured hair, who did all Smith could do for 
half the money. That was John Smith's mer- 
cantile career: it won't stand comparison 
with Mr. Gladstone's, but it's not unlike your 
own. 

143 



LAterary Lapses 



Smith lived for five years after this. His 
sons kept him. They didn't want to, but they 
had to. In his old age the brightness of his 
mind and his fund of anecdote were not the 
delight of all who dropped in to see him. He 
told seven stories and he knew six jokes. The 
stories were long things all about himself, and 
the jokes were about a commercial traveller 
and a Methodist minister. But nobody dropped 
in to see him, anyway, so it didn't matter. 

At sixty-five Smith was taken ill, and, re- 
ceiving proper treatment, he died. There was 
a tombstone put up over him, with a hand point- 
ing north-north-east. 

But I doubt if he ever got there. He was 
too like us. 



144 



On Collecting Things 



LIKE most other men I have from time 
to time been stricken with a desire 
to make collections of things. 
It began with postage stamps. I 
had a letter from a friend of mine who had 
gone out to South Africa. The letter had a 
three-cornered stamp on it, and I thought as 
soon as I looked at it, "That's the thing I Stamp 
collecting I I'll devote my life to it." 

I bought an album with accommodation for 
the stamps of all nations, and began collecting 
right off. For three days the collection made 
wonderful progress. It contained: 
One Cape of Good Hope stamp. 
One one-cent stamp. United States of 
America. 

One two-cent stamp. United States of 
America. 

One five-cent stamp. United States of 
America. 

One ten-cent stamp, United States of 
America. 

After that the collection came to a dead stop. 
145 



Literary Lapses 



For a while I used to talk about it rather airily 
and say I had one or two rather valuable South 
African stamps. But I presently grew tired 
even of lying about it. 

Collecting coins is a thing that I attempt at 
intervals. Every time I am given an old half- 
penny or a Mexican quarter, I get an idea that 
if a fellow made a point of holding on to rari- 
ties of that sort, he'd soon have quite a valu- 
able collection. The first time that I tried it I 
was full of enthusiasm, and before long my col- 
lection numbered quite a few articles of vertu. 
The items were as follows: 

No. I. Ancient Roman coin. Time of Cali- 
gula. This one of course was the gem of the 
whole lot; it was given me by a friend, and 
that was what started me collecting. 

No. 2. Small copper coin. Value one cent. 
United States of America. Apparently modern. 

No. 3. Small nickel coin. Circular. United 
States of America. Value five cents. 

No. 4. Small silver coin. Value ten cents. 
United States of America. 

No. 5. Silver coin. Circular. Value twen- 
ty-five cents. United States of America. Very 
beautiful. 

No. 6. Large silver coin. Circular. In- 
1/^ 



On Collecting Things 



scription, "One Dollar." United States of 
America. Very valuable. 

No. 7. Ancient British copper coin. Prob- 
ably time of Caractacus. Very dim. Inscrip- 
tion, "Victoria Dei gratia regina." Very valu- 
able. 

No. 8. Silver coin. Evidently French. In- 
scription, "Fiinf Mark. Kaiser Wilhelm." 

No. 9. Circular silver coin. Very much de- 
faced. Part of inscription, "E Pluribus 
Unum." Probably a Russian rouble, but quite 
as likely to be a Japanese yen or a Shanghai 
rooster. 

That's as far as that collection got. It lasted 
through most of the winter and I was getting 
quite proud of it, but I took the coins down 
town one evening to show to a friend and we 
spent No. 3, No. 4, No. 5, No. 6, and No. 7, 
in buying a little dinner for two. After dinner 
I bought a yen's worth of cigars and traded 
the relic of Caligula for as many hot Scotches 
as they cared to advance on it. After that I 
felt reckless and put No. 2 and No. 8 into a 
Children's Hospital poor box. 

I tried fossils next. I got two in ten years. 
Then I quit. 

A friend of mine once showed me a very 
14?' 



Literary Lapses 



fine collection of ancient and curious weapons, 
and for a time I was full of that idea. I gath- 
ered several interesting specimens, such as: 

No. I. Old flint-lock musket, used by my 
grandfather. (He used it on the farm for 
years as a crowbar.) 

No, 2. Old raw-hide strap, used by my 
father. 

No. 3. Ancient Indian arrowhead, found by 
myself the very day after I began collecting. 
It resembles a three-cornered stone. 

No. 4. Ancient Indian bow, found by my- 
self behind a sawmill on the second day of 
collecting. It resembles a straight stick of elm 
or oak. It is interesting to think that this very 
weapon may have figuredHln some fierce scene 
of savage warfare. 

No. 5. Cannibal poniard or straight-handled 
dagger of the South Sea Islands. It will give 
the reader almost a thrill of horror to learn 
that this atrocious weapon, which I bought 
myself on the third day of collecting, was ac- 
tually exposed in a second-hand store as a fam- 
ily carving-knife. In gazing at it one cannot 
refrain from conjuring up the awful scenes it 
must have witnessed. 

I kept this collection for quite a long while 
148 



On Collecting Things 



until, in a moment of infatuation, I presented 
it to a young lady as a betrothal present. The 
gift proved too ostentatious and our relations 
subsequently ceased to be cordial. 

On the whole I am inclined to recommend 
the beginner to confine himself to collecting 
coins. At present I am myself making a col- 
lection of American bills (time of Taft pre- 
ferred) , a pursuit I find most absorbing. 



149 



Society Chit-Chat 



AS IT SHOULD BE WRITTEN 

I NOTICE that it is customary for the 
daily papers to publish a column or so 
of society gossip. They generally head 
it "Chit-Chat," or "On Dit," or "Le 
Boudoir," or something of the sort, and they 
keep it pretty full of French terms to give it 
the proper sort of swing. These columns may 
be very interesting in their way, but it always 
seems to me that they don't get hold of quite 
the right things to tell us about. They are 
very fond, for instance, of giving an account 
of the delightful dance at Mrs. De Smythe's 
— at which Mrs. De Smythe looked charming 
in a gown of old tulle with a stomacher of 
passementerie — or of the dinner-party at Mr. 
Alonzo Robinson's residence, of the smart 
pink tea given by Miss Carlotta Jones. No, 
that's all right, but it's not the kind of thing we 
want to get at; those are not the events which 
happen in our neighbours' houses that we really 
want to hear about. It is the quiet little fam- 
iso 



Society Chit-Chat 



ily scenes, the little traits of home-life that — 
well, for example, take the case of that de- 
lightful party at the De Smythes. I am cer- 
tain that all those who were present would 
much prefer a little paragraph like the follow- 
ing, which would give them some idea of the 
home-life of the De Smythes on the morning 
after the party. 

Dejeuner de Luxe at the De Smythe 
Residence 

On Wednesday morning last at 7.15 a.m. 
a charming little breakfast was served at the 
home of Mr. De Smythe. The dejeuner was 
given in honour of Mr. De Smythe and his 
two sons. Master Adolphus and Master Blinks 
De Smythe, who were about to leave for their 
daily travail at their wholesale Bureau de 
Flour et de Feed. All the gentlemen were very 
quietly dressed in their habits de work. Miss 
Melinda De Smythe poured out tea, the 
domestique having refuse to get up so early 
after the partie of the night before. The menu 
was very handsome, consisting of eggs and ba- 
con, demi-froid, and ice-cream. The conver- 
sation was sustained and lively. Mr. De 



Literary Lapses 



Smythe sustained it and made it lively for his 
daughter and his gargons. In the course of the 
talk Mr. De Smythe stated that the next time 
he allowed the young people to turn his maison 
topsy-turvy he would see them in enfer. He 
wished to know if they were aware that some 
ass of the evening before had broken a pane 
of coloured glass in the hall that would cost 
him four dollars. Did they think he was made 
of argent. If so, they never made a bigger 
mistaike in their vie. The meal closed with 
general expressions of good-feeling. A little 
bird has whispered to us that there will be no 
more parties at the De Smythes' pour long- 
temps. 

Here is another little paragraph that would 
be of general interest in society. 

Diner de Fameel at the Boarding-House 

DE McFlGGIN 

Yesterday evening at half after sue a pleas- 
ant little diner was given by Madame McFig- 
gin of Rock Street, to her boarders. The salle 
a manger was very prettily decorated with 
texts, and the furniture upholstered with chev- 
eux de horse, Louis Quinze. The boarders 
i5i» 



Society Chit-Chat 



were all very quietly dressed: Mrs. McFiggin 
was daintily attired in some old clinging stuff 
with a corsage de Whalebone underneath. The 
ample board groaned under the bill of fare. 
The boarders groaned also. Their groaning 
was very noticeable. The piece de resistance 
was a hunko de baeuf boile, flanked with some 
old clinging stuff. The entrees were fate de 
pumpkin, followed by fromage McFiggin, 
served under glass. Towards the end of the 
first course, speeches became the order of the 
day. Mrs. McFiggin was the first speaker. In 
commencing, she expressed her surprise that so 
few of the gentlemen seemed to care for the 
hunko de boeuf; her own mind, she said, had 
hesitated between hunko de basuf boile and a 
pair of roast chickens (sensation). She had 
finally decided in favour of the hunko de bosuf 
(no sensation). She referred at some length 
to the late Mr. McFiggin, who had always 
shown a marked preference for hunko de boeuf. 
Several other speakers followed. All spoke 
forcibly and to the point. The last to speak 
was the Reverend Mr. Whiner. The reverend 
gentleman, in rising, said that he confided him- 
self and his fellow-boarders to the special inter- 
ferenge of Providence. For what they had 
Ȥ3 



Literary Lapses 



eaten, he said, he hoped that Providence would 
make them truly thankful. At the close of the 
Repas several of the boarders expressed their 
intention of going dow^n the street to a res- 
tourong to get quelque chose a manger. 

Here is another example. How interesting 
it would be to get a detailed account of that 
little affair at the Robinsons', of which the 
neighbours only heard indirectly ! Thus : 

Delightful Evening at the Residence of 
Mr. Alonzo Robinson 

Yesterday the family of Mr. Alonzo Robin- 
son spent a very lively evening at their home 

on ^th Avenue. The occasion was the 

seventeenth birthday of Master Alonzo Robin- 
son, junior. It was the original intention of 
Master Alonzo Robinson to celebrate the day 
at home and invite a few of les garcons. Mr. 
Robinson, senior, however, having declared 
that he would be damne first. Master Alonzo 
spent the evening in visiting the salons of the 
town, which he painted rouge. Mr. Robinson, 
senior, spent the evening at home in quiet ex- 
pectation of his son's return. He was very be- 
comingly dressed in a pantalon quatre vingt 



Society Chit-Chat 



treize, and had his whippe de chien laid across 
his knee. Madame Robinson and the Made- 
moiselles Robinson wore black. The guest of 
the evening arrived at a late hour. He wore 
his habits de spri, and had about six pouces 
of eau de vie in him. He was evidently full 
up to his cou. For some time after his arrival 
a very lively time was spent. Mr. Robinson 
having at length broken the whippe de chien, 
the family parted for the night with expres- 
sions of cordial goodwill. 



iSS 



Insurance Up to Date 



A MAN called on me the other day 
with the idea of insuring my life. 
Now, I detest life-insurance agents ; 
they always argue that I shall some 
day die, which is not so. I have been insured 
a great many times, for about a month at a 
time, but have had no luck with it at all. 

So I made up my mind that I would outwit 
this man at his own game. I let him talk 
straight ahead and encouraged him all I could, 
until he finally left me with a sheet of ques- 
tions which I was to answer as an applicant. 
Now this was what I was waiting for; I had 
decided that, if that company wanted informa- 
tion about me, they should have it, and have 
the very best quality I could supply. So I 
spread the sheet of questions before me, and 
drew up a set of answers for them, which, I 
hoped, would settle for ever all doubts as to 
my eligibility for insurance. 
Question. — ^What is your age? 
Answer. — I can't think. 
is6 



Insurance Up to Date 



Q. — ^What is your chest measurement? 

A. — Nineteen inches. 

Q. — ^What is your chest expansion? 

A. — Half an inch. 

Q. — What is your height? 

A. — Six feet five, if erect, but less when I 
walk on all fours. 

Q. — Is your grandfather dead? 

A. — Practically. 

Q. — Cause of death, if dead? 

A. — Dipsomania, if dead. 

Q. — Is your father dead? 

A. — ^To the world. 

Q. — Cause of death? 

A. — Hydrophobia. 

Q. — Place of father's residence? 

A. — Kentucky. 

Q. — ^What illness have you had? 

A. — As a child, consumption, leprosy, and 
water on the knee. As a man, whooping- 
cough, stomach-ache, and water on the brain. 

Q. — Have you any brothers? 

A. — Thirteen; all nearly dead. 

Q. — ^Are you aware of any habits or ten- 
dencies which might be expected to shorten your 
life? 

A. — I am aware. I drink, I smoke, I take 
157 



Literary Lapses 



morphine and vaseline. I swallow grape seeds 
and I hate exercise. 

I thought when I had come to the end of 
that list that I had made a dead sure thing of 
it, and I posted the paper with a cheque for 
three months' payment, feeling pretty confi- 
dent of having the cheque sent back to 
me. I was a good deal surprised a few days 
later to receive the following letter from the 
company : 

"Dear Sir, — We beg to acknowledge your 
letter of application and cheque for fifteen dol- 
lars. After a careful comparison of your case 
with the average modern standard, we are 
pleased to accept you as a first-class risk." 



is8 



Borrowing a Match 



YOU might think that borrowing a 
match upon the street is a simple 
thing. But any man who has ever 
tried it will assure you that it is not, 
and will be prepared to swear to the truth of 
my experience of the other evening. 

I was standing on the corner of the street 
with a cigar that I wanted to light. I had no 
match. I waited till a decent, ordinary-looking 
man came along. Then I said: 

"Excuse me, sir, but could you oblige me 
with the loan of a match?" 

"A match?" he said, "why certainly." 
Then he unbuttoned his overcoat and put his 
hand in the pocket of his waistcoat. "I know 
I have one," he went on, "and I'd almost 
swear it's in the bottom pocket — or, hold on, 
though, I guess it may be in the top — ^just wait 
till I put these parcels down on the sidewalk." 

"Oh, don't trouble," I said, "it's really of 
no consequence." 

"Oh, it's no trou!)le, I'll have it in a minute ; 
I know there must be one in here somewhere" 

IS9 



Literary Lapses 



' — he was digging his fingers into his pockets 
as he spoke — "but you see this isn't the waist- 
coat I generally ..." 

I saw that the man was getting excited about 
it. "Well, never mind," I protested; "if that 
isn't the waistcoat that you generally- — why, it 
doesn't matter." 

"Hold on, now, hold on!" the man said, 
"I've got one of the cursed things in here 
somewhere. I guess it must be in with my 
watch. No, it's not there either. Wait till 
I try my coat. If that confounded tailor only 
knew enough to make a pocket so that a man 
could get at it!" 

He was getting pretty well worked up now. 
He had thrown down his walking-stick and 
was plunging at his pockets with his teeth set. 
"It's that cursed young boy of mine," he 
hissed; "this comes of his fooling in my 
pockets. By Gad I perhaps I won't warm him 
up when I get home. Say, I'll bet that it's in 
my hip-pocket. You just hold up the tail of 
my overcoat a second till I . . ," 

"No, no," I protested again, "please don't 

take all this trouble, it really doesn't matter, 

I'm sure you needn't take off your overcoat, 

and oh, pray don't throw away your letters 

i6o 



Borrotmng a Match 



and things in the snow like that, and tear out 
your pockets by the roots ! Please, please don't 
trample over your overcoat and put your feet 
through the parcels. I do hate to hear you 
swearing at your little boy, with that peculiar 
whine in your voice. Don't — please don't tear 
your clothes so savagely." 

Suddenly the man gave a grunt of exulta- 
tion, and drew his hand up from inside the 
lining of his coat. 

"I've got it," he cried. "Here you are!" 
Then he brought it out under the light. 

It was a toothpick. 

Yielding to the impulse of the moment I 
pushed him under the wheels of a trolley-car 
and ran. 



i6i 



A Lesson in Fiction 



SUPPOSE that in the opening pages of 
the modern melodramatic novel you 
find some such situation as the follow- 
ing, in which is depicted the terrific 
combat between Gaspard de Vaux, the boy 
lieutenant, and Hairy Hank, the chief of the 
Italian banditti: 

"The inequality of the contest was apparent. 
With a mingled yell of rage and contempt, his 
sword brandished above his head and his dirk 
between his teeth, the enormous bandit rushed 
upon his intrepid opponent. De Vaux seemed 
scarce more than a stripling, but he stood his 
ground and faced his hitherto invincible as- 
sailant. *Mong Dieu,' cried De Smythe, 'he 
is lost!'" 

Question. On which of the parties to the 
above contest do you honestly feel inclined to 
put your money? 

Answer. On De Vaux. He'll win. Hairy 

Hank will force him down to one knee and with 

a brutal cry of "Harl harl" will be about to 

dirk him, when De Vaux will make a sudden 

162 



A Lesson in Fiction 



lunge (one he had learnt at home out of a 
book of lunges) and 

Very good. You have answered correctly. 
Now, suppose you find, a little later in the 
book, that the killing of Hairy Hank has com- 
pelled De Vaux to flee from his native land 
to the East. Are you not fearful for his safety 
in the desert? 

Answer. Frankly, I am not. De Vaux is 
all right. His name is on the title page, ?nd 
you can't kill him. 

Question. Listen to this, then: "The sun 
of Ethiopia beat fiercely upon the desert as 
De Vaux, mounted upon his faithful elephant, 
pursued his lonely way. Seated in his lofty 
hoo-doo, his eye scoured the waste. Suddenly 
a solitary horseman appeared on the horizon, 
then another, and another, and then six. In 
a few moments a whole crowd of solitary 
horsemen swooped down upon him. There 
was a fierce shout of 'Allah!' a rattle of fire- 
arms. De Vaux sank from his hoo-doo on to 
the sands, while the affrighted elephant dashed 
off in all directions. The bullet had struck 
him in the heart." 

There now, what do you think of that? Isn't 
De Vaux killed now? 

163 



IMerary Lapses 



Answer. I am sorry. De Vaux is not dead. 
True, the ball had hit him, oh yes, it had hit 
him, but it had glanced off against a family 
Bible, which he carried in his waistcoat in case 
of illness, struck some hymns that he had in 
his hip-pocket, and, glancing off again, 
had flattened itself against De Vaux's diary 
of his life in the desert, which was in his 
knapsack. 

Question. But even if this doesn't kill him, 
you must admit that he is near death when 
he is bitten in the jungle by the deadly don- 
gola? 

Answer. That's all right. A kindly Arab 
will take De Vaux to the Sheik's tent. 

Question. What will De Vaux remind the 
Sheik of? 

Answer. Too easy. Of his long-lost son, 
who disappeared years ago. 

Question. Was this son Hairy Hank? 

Answer. Of course he was. Anyone could 
see that, but the Sheik never suspects it, and 
heals De Vaux, He heals him with an herb, 
a thing called a simple, an amazingly simple, 
known only to the Sheik. Since using this herb, 
the Sheik has used no other. 

Question. The Sheik will recognise an over- 
164. 



A Lesson in Fiction 



coat that De Vaux is wearing, and complica- 
tions will arise in the matter of Hairy Hank 
deceased. Will this result in the death of the 
boy lieutenant? 

Answer. No. By this time De Vaux has 
realised that the reader knows he won't die, 
and resolves to quit the desert. The thought 
of his mother keeps recurring to him, and of 
his father, too, the grey, stooping old man — 
does he stoop still or has he stopped stooping? 
At times, too, there comes the thought of an- 
other, a fairer than his father; she whose — 
but enough, De Vaux returns to the old home- 
stead in Piccadilly. 

Question. When De Vaux returns to Eng- 
land, what will happen? 

Answer. This will happen: "He who left 
England ten years before a raw boy, has re- 
turned a sunburnt soldierly man. But who is 
this that advances smilingly to meet him? 
Can the mere girl, the bright child that shared 
his hours of play, can she have grown into this 
peerless, graceful girl, at whose feet half the 
noble suitors of England are kneeling? 'Can 
this be her?' he asks himself in amaze- 
ment." 

Question. Is it her? 
163 



literary Lapses 



' 'Answer. Oh, it's her all right. It is her, 
and it is him, and it is them. That girl hasn't 
waited fifty pages for nothing. 

Question. You evidently guess that a love 
affair will ensue between the boy lieutenant 
and the peerless girl with the broad feet. 
Do you imagine, however, that its course will 
run smoothly and leave nothing to re- 
cord? 

Answer. Not at all. I feel certain that the 
scene of the novel having edged itself around 
to London, the writer will not feel satisfied 
unless he introduces the following famous 
scene : 

"Stunned by the cruel revelation which he 
had received, unconscious of whither his steps 
were taking him, Gaspard de Vaux wandered 
on in the darkness from street to street until 
he found himself upon London Bridge. He 
leaned over the parapet and looked down upon 
the whirling stream below. There was some- 
thing in the still, swift rush of it that seemed 
to beckon, to allure him. After all, why 
not ? What was life now that he should prize 
it? For a moment De Vaux paused irreso- 
lute." 

Question. Will he throw himself in? 
i66 



'A Lesson in Fiction 



Answer. Well, say you don't know Gas- 
pard. He will pause irresolute up to the limit, 
then, with a fierce struggle, will recall his cour- 
age and hasten from the Bridge. 

Question. This struggle not to throw one- 
self in must be dreadfully difficult? 

Answer. Oh ! dreadfully ! Most of us are 
so frail we should jump in at once. But Gas- 
pard has the knack of it. Besides he still has 
some of the Sheik's herb; he chews it. 

Question. What has happened to De Vaux 
anyway? Is it anything he has eaten? 

Answer. No, it is nothing that he has eaten. 
It's about her. The blow has come. She has 
no use for sunburn, doesn't care for tan; she 
is going to marry a duke and the boy lieuten- 
ant is no longer in it. The real trouble is 
that the modern novelist has got beyond the 
happy-marriage mode of ending. He wants 
tragedy and a blighted life to wind up 
with. 

Question. How will the book conclude? 

Answer. Oh, De Vaux will go back to the 
desert, fall upon the Sheik's neck, and swear 
to be a second Hairy Hank to him. There will 
be a final panorama of the desert, the Sheik 
and his newly found son at the door of the 
167 



Idterary Lapses 



tent, the sun setting behind a pyramid, and De 
Vaux's faithful elephant crouched at his 
feet and gazing up at him with dumb affec- 
tion. / 



i6S 



Helping the Armenians 



THE financial affairs of tfie parish 
cliurch up at Doogalville liave been 
getting rather into a tangle in the 
last six months. The people of the 
church were specially anxious to do something 
toward the general public subscription of the 
town on behalf of the unhappy Armenians, 
and to that purpose they determined to devote 
the collections taken up at a series of special 
evening services. To give the right sort of 
swing to the services and to stimulate generous 
giving, they put a new pipe organ into the 
church. In order to make a preliminary pay- 
ment on the organ, it was decided to raise a 
mortgage on the parsonage. 

To pay the interest on the mortgage, the 
choir of the church got up a sacred concert in 
the town hall. 

To pay for the town hall, the Willing 
Workers' Guild held a social in the Sunday 
school. To pay the expenses of the social, 
the rector delivered a public lecture on "Italy 
and Her Past," illustrated by a magic lantern. 



Literary Lapses 



To pay for the magic lantern, the curate and 
the ladies of the church got up some amateur 
theatricals. 

Finally,, to pay for the costumes for the the- 
atricals, the rector felt it his duty to dispense 
with the curate. 

So that is where the church stands just at 
present. What they chiefly want to do, is to 
raise enough money to buy a suitable gold 
watch as a testimonial to the curate. After 
that they hope to be able to do something for 
the Armenians. Meantime, of course, the Ar- 
menians, the ones right there in the town, are 
getting very troublesome. To begin with, 
there is the Armenian who rented the costumes 
for the theatricals : he has to be squared. Then 
there is the Armenian organ dealer, and the 
Armenian who owned the magic lantern. They 
want relief badly. 

The most urgent case is that of the Arme- 
nian who holds the mortgage on the parson- 
age; indeed it is generally felt in the congrega- 
tion, when the rector makes his impassioned 
appeals at the special services on behalf of the 
suffering cause, that it is to this man that he 
has special reference. 

In the meanwhile the general public sub- 
170 



Helling the Armenians 



scription is not getting along very fast ; but the 
proprietor of the big saloon further down the 
street and the man with the short cigar that 
runs the Doogalville Midway Plaisance have 
been most liberal in their contributions. 



171 



A Study in Still LAfe. — The Country Hotel 

THE country hotel stands on the 
sunny side of Main Street. It has 
three entrances. 
There is one in front which leads 
into the Bar. There is one at the side called 
the Ladies' Entrance which leads into the Bar 
from the side. There is also the Main En- 
trance which leads into the Bar through the 
Rotunda. 

The Rotunda is the space between the door 
of the bar-room and the cigar-case. 

In it is a desk and a book. In the book are 
written down the names of the guests, to- 
gether with marks indicating the direction of 
the wind and the height of the barometer. It 
is here that the newly arrived guest waits un- 
til he has time to open the door leading to the 
Bar. 

The bar-room forms the largest part of the 
hotel. It constitutes the hotel proper. To it 
are attached a series of bedrooms on the floor 
above, many of which contain beds. 
172 



A Study in Still Life 



The walls of the bar-room are perforated in 
all directions with trap-doors. Through one 
of these drinks are passed into the back sit- 
ting-room. Through others drinks are passed 
into the passages. Drinks are also passed 
through the floor and through the ceiling. 
Drinks once passed never return. The Pro- 
prietor stands in the doorway of the bar. He 
weighs two hundred pounds. His face is im- 
movable as putty. He is drunk. He has been 
drunk for twelve years. It makes no difference 
to him. Behind the bar stands the Bar-tender. 
He wears wicker-sleeves, his hair is curled in 
a hook, and his name is Charlie. 

Attached to the bar is a pneumatic beer- 
pump, by means of which the bar-tender can 
flood the bar with beer. Afterwards he wipes 
up the beer with a rag. By this means he pol- 
ishes the bar. Some of the beer that is pumped 
up spills into glasses and has to be sold. 

Behind the bar-tender is a mechanism called 
a cash-register, which, on being struck a power- 
ful blow, rings a bell, sticks up a card marked 
No Sale, and opens a till from which the bar- 
tender distributes money. 

There is printed a tariff of drinks and prices 
on the wall. 

173 



Literary Lapses 


It reads thus : 




Beer 


5 cents. 


Whisky . 


5 cents. 


Whisky and Soda 


5 cents. 


Beer and Soda . 


5 cents. 


Whisky and Beer and Soda 


5 cents. 


Whisky and Eggs 


5 cents. 


Beer and Eggs . 


5 cents. 


Champagne . 


5 cents. 


Cigars 


5 cents. 


Cigars, extra fine 


Scents. 



All calculations are made on this baisis and 
are worked out to three places of decimals. 
Every seventh drink is on the house and is not 
followed by a distribution of money. 

The bar-room closes at midnight, provided 
there are enough people in it. If there is not 
a quorum the proprietor waits for a better 
chance. A careful closing of the bar will often 
catch as many as twenty-five people. The bar 
is not opened again till seven o'clock in the 
morning; after that the people may go home. 
There are also, nowadays. Local Option Ho- 
tels. These contain only one entrance, leading 
directly into the bar. 



174 



An Experiment with Policeman Hog an 

MR. SCALPER sits writing in the 
reporters' room of The Daily 
Eclipse. The paper has gone to 
press and he is alone; a wayward 
talented gentleman, this Mr. Scalper, and 
employed by The Eclipse as a delineator of 
character from handwriting. Any subscriber 
who forwards a specimen of his handwriting 
is treated to a prompt analysis of his character 
from Mr. Scalper's facile pen. The literary 
genius has a little pile of correspondence be- 
side him, and is engaged in the practice of his 
art. Outside the night is dark and rainy. The 
clock on the City Hall marks the hour of two. 
In front of the newspaper office Policeman 
Hogan walks drearily up and down his beat. 
The damp misery of Hogan is intense. A 
belated gentleman in clerical attire, returning 
home from a bed of sickness, gives him a side- 
look of timid pity and shivers past. Hogan 
follows the retreating figure with his eye; 
then draws forth a notebook and sits down on 
the steps of The Eclipse building to write in the 

I7S 



IMerary Lapses 



light of the gas lamp. Gentlemen of nocturnal 
habits have often wondered what it is that 
Policeman Hogan and his brethreu write in 
their little books. Here are the words that are 
fashioned by the big fist of the policenian : 

"Two o'clock. AH is well. There is a light 
in Mr. Scalper's room above. The night is 
very wet and I am unhappy and cannot sleep — 
my fourth night of insomnia. Suspicious- 
looking individual just passed. Alas, how mel- 
ancholy is my life ! Will the dawn never break I 
Oh, moist, moist stone." 

Mr. Scalper up above is writing too, writing 
with the careless fluency of a man who draws 
his pay by the column. He is delineating with 
skill and rapidity. The reporters' room is 
gloomy and desolate. Mr. Scalper is a man 
of sensitive temperament and the dreariness 
of his surroundings depresses him. He opens 
the lettei* of a correspondent, examines the 
handwriting narrowly, casts his eye around 
the room for inspiration, and proceeds to 
delineate : 

"G.H. You have an unhappy, despondent 
nature; your circumstances oppress you, and 
your life is filled with an infinite sadness. You 

feel that you are without hope " 

176 



An Experiment with Policeman Hogan 

Mr. Scalper pauses, takes another look 
around the room, and finally lets his eye rest 
for some time upon a tall black bottle that 
stands on the shelf of an open cupboard. Then 
he goes on: 

" — and you have lost all belief in Christianity 
and a future world and human virtue. You 
are very weak against temptation, but there is 
an ugly vein of determination In your character, 
when you make up your mind that you are going 
to have a thing " 

Here Mr. Scalper stops abruptly, pushes 
back his chair, and dashes across the room to 
the cupboard. He takes the black bottle from 
the shelf, applies It to his lips, and remains for 
some time motionless. He then returns to 
finish the delineation of G.H. with the hurried 
words : 

"On the whole I recommend you to per- 
severe; you are doing very well." Mr. 
Scalper's next proceeding is peculiar. He takes 
from the cupboard a roll of twine, about fifty 
feet in length, and attaches one end of it to 
the neck of the bottle. Going then to one of 
the windows, he opens it, leans out, and whistles 
softly. The alert ear of Policeman Hogan on 
the pavement below catches the sound, and 

177 



Literary Lapses 



he returns it. The bottle is lowered to the 
end of the string, the guardian of the peace 
applies it to his gullet, and for some time the 
policeman and the man of letters remain 
attached by a cord of sympathy. Gentlemen 
who lead the variegated life of Mr. Scalper 
find it well to propitiate the arm of the law, 
and attachments of this sort are not uncommon. 
Mr. Scalper hauls up the bottle, closes the 
window, and returns to his task; the police- 
man resumes his walk with a glow of internal 
satisfaction. A glance at the City Hall clock 
causes him to enter another note in his book. 

"Half-past two. All is better. The weather 
is milder with a feeling of young summer in the 
air. Two lights in Mr. Scalper's room. Noth- 
ing has occurred which need be brought to the 
notice of the roundsman." 

Things are going better upstairs too. The 
delineator opens a second envelope, surveys 
the writing of the correspondent with a critical 
yet charitable eye, and writes with more com- 
placency. 

"William H. Your writing shows a dis- 
position which, though naturally melancholy, 
is capable of a temporary cheerfulness. You 
have known misfortune but have made up 
178 



An Experiment mth Policeman Hogan 

your mind to look on the bright side of things. 
If you will allow me to say so, you indulge in 
liquor but are quite moderate in your use of 
it. Be assured that no harm ever comes of 
this moderate use. It enlivens the intellect, 
brightens the faculties, and stimulates the 
dormant fancy into a pleasurable activity. It 
is only when carried to excess " 

At this point the feelings of Mr. Scalper, 
who had been writing very rapidly, evidently 
become too much for him. He starts up from, 
his chair, rushes two or three times around 
the room, and finally returns to finish the de- 
lineation thus: "it is only when carried to 
excess that this moderation becomes per- 
nicious." 

Mr. Scalper succumbs to the train of thought 
suggested and gives an illustration of how mod- 
eration to excess may be avoided, after which 
he lowers the bottle to Policeman Hogan with 
a cheery exchange of greetings. 

The half-hours pass on. The delineator is 
writing busily and feels that he is writing well. 
The characters of his correspondents lie bare 
to his keen eye and flow from his facile pen. 
From time to time he pauses and appeals to the 
source of his inspiration ; his humanity prompts 

179 



IMerary Lapses 



him to extend the inspiration to Policeman Ho- 
gan. - The minion of the law walks his beat with 
a feeling of more than tranquillity. A solitary 
Chinaman, returning home late from his mid- 
night laundry, scuttles past. The literary in- 
stinct has risen strong in Hogan from his con- 
nection with the man of genius above him, and 
the passage of the lone Chinee gives him oc- 
casion to write in his book : 

"Four-thirty. Everything is simply great. 
There are four lights in Mr. Scalper's room. 
Mild, balmy weather with prospects of an 
earthquake, which may be held in check by 
walking with extreme caution. Two Chinamen 
have just passed — mandarins, I presume. Their 
walk was unsteady, but their faces so benign 
as to disarm suspicion." 

Up in the office Mr. Scalper has reached the 
letter of a correspondent which appears to give 
him particrular pleasure, for he delineates the 
character with a beaming smile of satisfaction. 
To the unpractised eye the writing resembles the 
priip, angular hand of an elderly spinster. Mr. 
Scalper, however, seems to think otherwise, for 
he writes: 

"Aunt Dorothea. You have a merry, 
rollicking nature. At times you are seized 
i8o 



An Experiment with Policeman Hog an 

with a wild, tumultuous hilarity to which you 
give ample vent In shouting and song. "You 
are much addicted to profanity, and you rightly 
feel that this is part of your nature and you 
must not check It. ' The world is a very bright 
place to you. Aunt Dorothea. Write to me 
again soon. Our minds seem cast In the same 
mould." 

Mr. Scalper seems to think that he has not 
done full justice to the subject he is treating, 
for he proceeds to write a long private letter 
to Aunt Dorothea in addition to the printed 
delineation. As he finishes the City Hall clock 
points to five, and Policeman Hogan makes 
the last entry in his chronicle. Hogan has seat- 
ed himself upon the steps of The Eclipse build- 
ing for greater comfort and writes with a slow, 
leisurely fist: 

"The other hand of the clock points north 
and the second longest points south-east by 
south. I Infer that It Is five o'clock. The 
electric lights In Mr. Scalper's room defy the 
eye. The roundsman has passed and examlijed 
my notes of the night's occurrences. They 
are entirely satisfactory, and he is pleased with 
their literary form. The earthquake which I 
apprehended was reduced to a few minor 

i8i 



laterary Lapses 



oscillations which cannot reach me where I 
sit " 

The lowering of the bottle interrupts Police- 
man Hogan. The long letter to Aunt Doro- 
thea has cooled the ardour of Mr. Scalper. 
The generous blush has passed from his mind 
and he has been trying in vain to restore it. 
To afford Hogan a similar opportunity, he 
decides not to haul the bottle up immediately, 
but to leave it in his custody while he delineates 
a character. The writing of this correspondent 
would seem to the inexperienced eye to be 
that of a timid little maiden in her teens. Mr. 
Scalper is not to be deceived by appearances. 
He shakes his head mournfully at the letter and 
writes : 

"Little Emily. You have known great 
happiness, but it has passed. Despondency 
has driven you to seek forgetfulness in drink. 
Your writing shows the worst phase of the 
liquor habit. I apprehend that you will 
shortly have delirium tremens. Poor little 
Emily! Do not try to break off; it is too 
late." 

Mr. Scalper is visibly affected by his cor- 
respondent's unhappy condition. His eye be- 
comes moist, and he decides to haul up the 
i8s 



An Experiment tmth Policeman Hogan 

bottle while there is still time to save Police- 
man Hogan from acquiring a taste for liquor. 
He is surprised and alarmed to find the attempt 
to haul it up ineffectual. The minion of the 
law has fallen into a leaden slumber, and the 
bottle remains tight in his grasp. The baffled 
delineator lets fall the string and returns to 
finish his task. Only a few lines are now 
required to fill the column, but Mr. Scalper 
finds on examining the correspondence that he 
has exhausted the subjects. This, however, is 
quite a common occurrence and occasions no 
dilemma in the mind of the talented gentle- 
man. It is his custom in such cases to fill up 
the space with an imaginary character or two, 
the analysis of which is a task most congenial 
to his mind. He bows his head in thought 
for a few moments, and then writes as 
follows : 

"Policeman H. Your hand shows great 
firmness; when once set upon a thing you are 
not easily moved. But you have a mean, grasp- 
ing disposition and a tendency to want more 
than your share. You have formed an attach- 
ment which you hope will be continued through- 
out life, but your selfishness threatens to sever 
the bond." 

183 



lAterary Lapses 



Having writteh which, Mr. Scalper arranges 
his manuscript for the printer next day, dons 
his hat and coat, and wends his way home in 
the morning twilight, feeling that his pay is 
earned. 



184 



The Passing of the Poet 



STUDIES in what may be termed col- 
lective psychology are essentially in 
keeping with the spirit of the present 
century. The examination of the men- 
tal tendencies, the intellectual habits which 
we display not as individuals, but as members 
of a race, community, or crowd, is offering a 
fruitful field of speculation as yet but little 
exploited. One may, therefore, not without 
profit, pass in review the relation of the poetic 
instinct to the intellectual development of the 
present era. 

Not the least noticeable feature in the psy- 
chological evolution of our time is the rapid 
disappearance of poetry. The art of writing 
poetry, or perhaps more fairly, the habit of 
writing poetry, is passing from us. The poet 
is destined to become extinct. 

To a reader of trained intellect the initial 
difficulty at once suggests itself as to what 
is meant by poetry. But it is needless to 
quibble at a definition of the term. It may 
be designated, simply and fairly, as the art of 

?85 



Literary Lapses 



expressing a simple truth in a concealed form 
of words, any number of which, at intervals 
greater or less, may or may not rhyme. 

The poet, it must be said, is as old as civilisa- 
tion. The Greeks had him with them, stamp- 
ing out his iambics with the sole of his foot. 
The Romans, too, knew him — endlessly jug- 
gling his syllables together, long and short, 
short and long, to make hexameters. This can 
now be done by electricity, but the Romans did 
not know it. 

But it is not my present purpose to speak 
of the poets of an earlier and ruder time. For 
the subject before us it is enough to set our 
age in comparison with the era that preceded 
it. We have but to contrast ourselves with 
our early Victorian grandfathers to realise the 
profound revolution that has taken place in 
public feeling. It is only with an effort that 
the practical common sense of the twentieth 
century can realise the excessive sentimentality 
of the earlier generation. 

In those days poetry stood in high and 
universal esteem. Parents read poetry to their 
children. Children recited poetry to their 
parents. And he was a dullard, indeed, who 
did not at least profess, in his hours of idleness, 

m 



The Passing of the Poet 



to pour spontaneous rhythm from his flowing 
quill. 

Should one gather statistics of the enormous 
production of poetry some sixty or seventy 
years ago, they would scarcely appear credible. 
Journals and magazines teemed with it. Editors 
openly countenanced it. Even the daily press 
affected it. Love sighed in home-made stan- 
zas. Patriotism rhapsodised on the hustings, 
or cited rolling hexameters to an enraptured 
legislature. Even melancholy death courted 
his everlasting sleep in elegant elegiacs. 

In that era, indeed, I know not how, polite 
society was haunted by the obstinate fiction 
that it was the duty of a man of parts to ex- 
press himself from time to time in verse. Any 
special occasion of expansion or exuberance, 
of depression, torsion, or introspection, was 
sufficient to call it forth. So we have poems 
of dejection, of reflection, of deglutition, of 
indigestion. 

Any particular psychological disturbance 
was enough to provoke an access of poetry. 
The character and manner of the verse might 
vary with the predisposing cause. A gentle- 
man who had dined too freely might disexpand 
himself in a short fit of lyric doggerel in which 

187 



Literary Lapses 



"bowl" and "soul" were freely rhymed. 
The morning's indigestion inspired a long- 
drawn elegiac, with "bier" and "tear," 
"mortal" and "portal" linked in sonorous 
sadness. The man of politics, from time to 
time, grateful to an appreciative country, sang 
back to it, "Ho, Albion, rising from the 
brine 1" in verse whose intention at least was 
meritorious. 

And yet it was but a fiction, a purely ficti- 
tious obligation, self-imposed by a sentimental 
society. In plain truth, poetry came no more 
easily or naturally to the early Victorian than 
to you or me. The lover twanged his ob- 
durate harp in vain for hours for the rhymes 
that would not come, and the man of politics 
hammered at his heavy hexameter long indeed 
before his Albion was finally "hoed" into 
shape; while the beer-besotted convivialist 
cudgelled his poor wits cold sober in rhyming 
the light little bottle-ditty that should have 
sprung like Aphrodite from the froth of the 
champagne. 

I have before me a pathetic witness of this 

fact. It is the note-book once used for the 

random jottings of a gentleman of the period. 

In it I read: "Fair Lydia, if my earthly 

i88 



The Passing of the Poet 



harp." This is crossed out, and below it 
appears, "Fair Lydia, could my earthly 
harp." This again is erased, and under it 
appears, "Fair Lydia, should my earthly harp." 
This again is struck out with a despairing stroke, 
and amended to read: "Fair Lydia, did my 
earthly harp." So that finally, when the 
lines appeared in the Gentleman's Magazine 
(1845) in their ultimate shape — "Fair Edith, 
when with fluent pen," etc., etc. — one can 
realise from what a desperate congelation the 
fluent pen had been so perseveringly rescued. 

There can be little doubt of the deleterious 
effect occasioned both to public and private 
morals by this deliberate exaltation of mental 
susceptibility on the part of the early Vic- 
torian. In many cases we can detect the 
evidences of incipient paresis. The undue 
access of emotion frequently assumed a patho- 
logical character. The sight of a daisy, of a 
withered leaf or an upturned sod, seemed to 
disturb the poet's mental equipoise. Spring 
unnerved him. The lambs distressed him. 
The flowers made him cry. The daffodils made 
him laugh. Day dazzled him. Night fright- 
ened him. 

This exalted mood, combined with the 
189 



lAterary Lapses 



man's culpable ignorance of the plainest prin- 
ciples of physical science, made him see some- 
thing out of the ordinary in the flight of a wa- 
terfowl or the song of a skylark. He com- 
plained that he could hear it, but not see it— a 
phenomenon too familiar to the scientific ob- 
server to occasion any comment. 

In such a state of mind the most inconse- 
quential inferences were drawn. One said that 
the brightness of the dawn — a fact easily ex- 
plained by the diurnal motion of the globe — 
showed him that his soul was immortal. He 
asserted further that he had, at an earlier pe- 
riod of his life, trailed bright clouds behind 
him. This was absurd. 

With the disturbance thus set up in the 
nervous system were coupled, in many in- 
stances, mental aberrations, particularly in 
regard to pecuniary matters. "Give me not 
silk, nor rich attire," pleaded one poet of the 
period to the British public, "nor gold nor" 
jewels rare." Here was an evident hallucina- 
tion that the writer was to become the re- 
cipient of an enormous secret subscription. 
Indeed, the earnest desire not to be given 
gold was a recurrent characteristic of the 
poetic temperament. The repugnance to 
190 



The Passing of the Poet 



accept even a handful of gold was generally 
accompanied by a desire for a draught of pure 
water or a night's rest. 

It is pleasing to turn from this excessive senti- 
mentality of thought and speech to the practi- 
cal and concise diction of our time. We have 
learned to express ourselves with equal force, 
but greater simplicity. To illustrate this I 
have gathered from the poets of the earlier 
generation and from the prose writers of to- 
day parallel passages that may be fairly set in 
contrast. Here, for example, is a passage from 
the poet Grey, still familiar to scholars: 

"Can storied um or animated bust 
Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath? 
Can honour's voice invoke the silent dust 
Or flattery soothe the dull cold ear of death?" 

Precisely similar in thought, though different 
in form, is the more modern presentation found 
in Huxley's Physiology: 

"Whether after the moment of death the 
ventricles of the heart can be again set in move- 
ment by the artificial stimulus of oxygen, is a 
question to which we must impose a decided 
negative." 

How much simpler, and yet how far superior 
191 



lAterary Lapses 



to Grey's elaborate phraseology 1 Huxley has 
here seized the central point of the poet's 
thought, and expressed it with the dignity and 
precision of exact science. 

I cannot refrain, even at the risk of needless 
iteration, from quoting a further example. It 
is taken from the poet Burns. The original 
dialect being written in inverted hiccoughs, is 
rather difficult to reproduce. It describes the 
scene attendant upon the return of a cottage 
labourer to his home on Saturday night: 

"The cheerfu' supper done, wi' serious face 
They round the ingle form in a circle wide; 
The sire turns o'er, wi' patriarchal grace, 
The big ha' Bible, ance his father's pride: 
His bonnet rev'rently is laid aside, 
His lyart haffets wearing thin an* bare: 
Those strains that once did sweet in Zion glide, 
He wales a portion wi' judeecious care." 

Now I find almost the same scene described 
in more apt phraseology in the police news of 
the Dumfries Chronicle (October 3, 1909), 
thus: "It appears that the prisoner had re- 
turned to his domicile at the usual hour, and, 
after partaking of a hearty meal, had seated 
himself on his oaken settle, for the ostensible 
purpose of reading the Bible. It was while 
192 



The Pasdng of the Poet 



so occupied that his arrest was effected." With 
the trifling exception that Bums omits all men- 
tion of the arrest, for which, however, the 
whole tenor of the poem gives ample warrant, 
the two accounts are almost identical. 

In all that I have thus said I do not wish to 
be misunderstood. Believing, as I firmly do, 
that the poet is destined to become extinct, 
I am not one of those who would accelerate 
his extinction. The time has not yet come for 
remedial legislation, or the application of the 
criminal law. Even in obstinate cases where 
pronounced delusions in r.eference to plants, 
animals, and natural phenomena are seen to 
exist, it is better that we should do nothing 
that might occasion a mistaken remorse. The 
inevitable natural evolution which is thus shap- 
ing the mould of human thought may safely be 
left to its own course. 



193 



Self-made Men 



THEY were both what we commonly 
call successful business men — ^men 
with well-fed faces, heavy signet 
rings on fingers like sausages, and 
broad, comfortable waistcoats, a yard and a 
half round the equator. Theyj were seated 
opposite each other at a table of a first-class 
restaurant, and had fallen into conversation 
while waiting to give their order to the waiter. 
Their talk had drifted back to their early days 
and how each had made his start in life when 
he first struck New York. 

"I tell you what, Jones," one of them was 
saying, "I shall never forget my first few 
years in this town. By George, it was pretty 
uphill work! Do you know, sir, when I first 
struck this place, I hadn't more than fifteen 
cents to my name, hadn't a rag except what I 
stood up in, and all the place I had to sleep in 
— ^you won't believe it, but it's a gospel fact 
just the Same — was an empty tar barrel. No, 
sir," he went on, leaning back and closing up his 
eyes into an expression of infinite experience, 
194 



Self-made Men 



"no, sir, a fellow accustomed to luxury like 
you has simply no idea what sleeping out in a 
tar barrel and all that kind of thing is like." 

"My dear Robinson," the other man re- 
joined 'briskly, "if you imagine I've had no 
experience of hardship of that sort, you never 
made a bigger mistake in your life. Why, 
when I first walked into this town I hadn't a 
cent, sir, not a cent, and as for lodging, aU 
the place I had for months and months was 
an old piano box up a lane, behind a factory. 
Talk about hardship, I guess I had it pretty 
rough! You take a fellow that's used to a 
good warm tar barrel and put him into a piano 
box for a night or two, and you'll see mighty 
soon " 

"My dear fellow," Robinson broke in with 
some irritation, "you merely show that you 
don't know what a tar barrel's like. Why, on 
winter nights, when you'd be shut in there in 
your piano box just as snug as you please, I 
used to lie awake shivering, with the draught 
fairly running in at the bunghole at the back." 

"Draught!" sneered the other man, with a 
provoking laugh, "draught ! Don't talk to me 
about draughts. This box I speak of had a 
whole darned plank off it, right on the north side 

I9S 



lAterary Lapses 



too. I used to sit there studying in the even- 
ings, and the snow would blow in a foot deep. 
And yet, sir," he continued more quietly, 
"though I know you'll not believe it, I don't 
mind admitting that some of the happiest 
days of my life were spent in that same old 
box. Ah, those were good old times ! Bright, 
innocent days, I can tell you. I'd wake up there 
in the mornings and fairly shout with high 
spirits. Of course, you may not be able to stand 
that kind of life " 

"Not stand it!" cried Robinson fiercely; 
"me not stand it! By gad! I'm made for 
it. I just wish I had a taste of the old life 
again for a while. And as for innocence! 
Well, I'll bet you you weren't one-tenth as 
innocent as I was; no, nor one-fifth, nor one- 
third ! What a grand old life It was ! You'll 
swear this is a darned lie and refuse to believe 
it — ^but I can remember evenings when I'd 
have two or three fellows in, and we'd sit 
round and play pedro by a candle half the 
night." 

"Two or three!" laughed Jones; "why, 

my dear fellow, I've known half a dozen of us 

to sit down to supper in my piano box, and 

have a game of pedro afterwards; yes, and 

196 



Self-made Men 



charades and forfeits, and every other darned 
thing. Mighty good suppers they were tool 
By Jove, Robinson, you fellows round this 
town who have ruined your digestions with 
high living, have no notion of the zest with 
which a man can sit down to a few potato 
peelings, or a bit of broken pie crust, or " 

"Talk about hard food," interrupted the 
other, "I guess I know all about that. Many's 
the time I've breakfasted off a little cold 
porridge that somebody was going to throw 
away from a back-door, or that I've gone 
round to a livery stable and begged a little 
bran mash that they intended for the pigs. 
I'll venture to say I've eaten more hog's 
food " 

"Hog's food!" shouted Robinson, striking 
his fist savagely on the table, "I tell you hog's 
food suits me better than " 

He stopped speaking with a sudden grunt 
of surprise as the waiter appeared with the 
question : 

"What may I bring you for dinner, gentle- 
men?" 

"Dinner!" said Jones, after a moment of 
silence, "dinner! Oh,* anything, nothing — I 
never care what I eat — give me a little cold 

197 



LMerary Lapses 



porridge, if you've got it, or a chunk of salt 
pork — anything you like, it's all the same to 
me. 

The waiter turned with an impassive face to 
Robinson. 

"You can bring me some of that cold por- 
ridge too," he said, with a defiant look at 
Jones; "yesterday's, if you have it, and a few 
potato peelings and a glass of skim milk." 

There was a pause. Jones sat back in his 
chair and looked hard across at Robinson. For 
some moments the two men gazed into each 
other's eyes with a stern, defiant intensity. 
Then Robinson turned slowly round in his 
seat and beckoned to the waiter, who was 
moving off with the muttered order on his 
lips. 

"Here, waiter," he said with a savage 
scowl, "I guess I'll change that order a little. 
Instead of that cold porridge I'll take — um, 
yes — a little hot partridge. And you might as 
well bring me an oyster or two on the half 
shell, and a mouthful of soup (mock-turtle, 
consomme, anything), and perhaps you might 
fetch along a dab of fish, and a little peck of 
Stilton, and a grape, or a walnut." 

The waiter turned to Jones. 
198 



Self-made Men 



"I guess I'll take the same," he said simply, 
and added, "and you might bring a quart of 
champagne at the same time." 

And nowadays, when Jones and Robinson 
meet, the memory of the tar barrel and the 
piano box is buried as far out of sight as a 
home for the blind under a landslide. 



199 



A Model Dialogue 



IN which is shown how the drawing-room 
juggler may be permanently cured of his 
card trick. 
The drawing-room juggler, iiaving sly- 
ly got hold of the pack of cards at the end of 
the game of whist, says : 

"Ever see any card tricks? Here's rather 
a good one; pick a card." 

"Thank you, I don't want a card." 

"No, but just pick one, any one you like, 
and I'll tell which one you |)ick." 

"You'll tell who?" 

"No, no ; I mean, I'll know which it is, don't 
you see ? Go on now, pick a card." 

"Any one I like?" 

"Yes." 

"Any colour at all?" 

"Yes, yes." 

"Any suit?" 

"Oh, yes; do go on." 

"Well, let me see, I'll — pick — the — ace of 
spades." 

200 



A Model Dialogue 



"Great Casar 1 I mean you are to pull a card 
out of the pack." 

"Oh, to pull it out of the pack! Now I un- 
derstand. Hand me the pack. All right — I've 
got it." 

"Have you picked one?" 

"Yes, it's the three of hearts. Did you know 
it?" , 

"Hang it! Don't tell me like that. You 
spoil the thing. Here, try again. Pick a card." 

"All right, I've got it." 

"Put it back in the pack. Thanks. (Shuffle, 
shuffle, shuffle — flip) — There, is that it?" (tri- 
umphantly) . 

"I don't know. I lost sight of it." 

"Lost sight of it! Confound it, you have 
to look at it and see what it is." 

"Oh, you want me to look at the front of it !" 

"Why, of course ! Now then, pick a card." 

"All right. I've picked it. Go ahead." 
(Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle— flip.)1 

"Say, confound you, did you put that card 
back in the pack?" 

"Why, no. I kept it." 

"Holy Moses! Listen. Pick — a — card- 
just one — look at it — see what it is — ^then put 
it back — do you understand?" 

201 



lAterary Lapses 



"Oh, perfectly. Only I don't see how you 
are ever going to do it. You must be awfully 
clever." 

(Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle— flip.) 

"There you are; that's your card, now, isn't 
it?" (This is the suoreme moment.) 

"NO. THAT is NOT MY CARD." 
(This is a flat lie, but Heaven will pardon you 
for it.) 

"Not that card ! 1 ! I Say — ^just hold 
on a second. Here, now, watch what you're 
at this time. I can do this cursed thing, mind 
you, every time. I've done it on father, on 
mother, and on every one that's ever come 
round our place. Pick a card. (Shuffle, shuffle, 
shuffle — flip, bang.) There, that's your 
card." 

"NO. I AM SORRY. THAT IS NOT 
MY CARD. But won't you try it again? 
Please do. Perhaps you are a little excited — 
I'm afraid I was rather stupid. Won't you 
go and sit quietly by yourself da the back 
verandah for half an hour and then try? You 
have to go home? Oh, I'm so sorry. It must 
be such an awfully clever little trick. Good 
night!" 



2&2 



Back to the Bush 



I HAVE a friend called Billy, who has 
the Bush Mania. By trade he is a 
doctor, but I do not think that he needsi 
to sleep out of doors. In ordinary 
things his mind appears sound. Over the tops 
of his gold-rimmed spectacles, as he bends for-; 
ward to speak to you, there gleams nothing but 
amiability and kindliness. Like all the rest 
of us he is, or was until he forgot it all, an 
extremely well-educated man. 

I am aware of no criminal strain in his blood. 
Yet Billy is in reality hopelessly unbalanced 
He has the Mania of the Open Woods. 

Worse than that, he is haunted with the de- 
sire to drag his friends with him into the depths 
of the Bush. 

Whenever we meet he starts to talk about 
it. 

Not long ago I met him in the club. 
"I wish," he said, "you'd let me take you 
clear away up the Gatineau." 

"Yes, I wish I would, I don't think," I 
203 



lAterary Lapses 



murmured to myself, but I humoured him and 
said: 

"How do we go, Billy, in a motor-car or by 
train?" 

"No, we paddle." 

"And is it up-stream all the way?" 

"Oh, yes," Billy said enthusiastically. 

"And how many days do we paddle all day 
to get up?" 

"Six." 

"Couldn't we do it in less?" 

"Yes," Billy answered, feeling that I was 
entering into the spirit of the thing, "if we 
start each morning just before daylight and 
paddle hard till moonlight, we could do it in 
five days and a half." 

"Glorious! and are there portages?" 

"Lots of them." 

"And at each of these do I carry two hun- 
dred pounds of stuff up a hill on my back?" 

"Yes." 

"And will there be a guide, a genuine, dirty- 
looking Indian guide?" 

"Yes." 

"And can I sleep next to him?" 

"Oh, yes, if you want to." 

"And when we get to the top, what is there?" 
'204 



Back to the Bush 



"Well, we go over the height of land." 

"Oh, we do, do we? And is the height of 
land all rock and about three hundred yards 
up-hill? And do I carry a barrel of flour up 
it? And does it roll down and crush me on 
the other side? Look here, Billy, this trip 
is a great thing, but it is too luxurious for me. 
If you will have me paddled up the river in a 
large iron canoe with an awning, carried over 
the portages in a sedan-chair, taken across the 
height of land in a palanquin or a howdah, 
and lowered down the other side in a derrick, 
I'll go. Short of that, the thing would be too 
fattening." 

Billy was discouraged and left me. But he 
has since returned repeatedly to the attack. 

He offers to take me to the head-waters of 
the Batiscan. I am content at the foot. 

He wants us to go to the sources of the At- 
tahwapiscat. I don't. 

He says I ought to see the grand chutes of 
the Kewakasis. Why should I? 

I have made Billy a counter-proposition that 
we strike through the Adirondack* (in the 
train) to New York, from there portage to At- 
lantic City, then to Washington, carrying our 
own grub (in the dining-car), camp there a few 
205 



Literary Lapses 



days (at the Willard), and then back, I to 
return by train and Billy on foot with the out- 
fit. 

The thing is still unsettled. 

Billy, of course, is only one of thousands that 
have got this mania. And the autumn is the 
time when it rages at its worst. 

Every day there move northward trains, 
packed full of lawyers, bankers, and brokers, 
headed for the bush. They are dressed up to 
look like pirates. They wear slouch hats, 
flannel shirts, and leather breeches with belts. 
They could afford much better clothes than 
these, but they won't use them. I don't know 
where they get these clothes. I think the raiU 
road lends them out. They have guns between 
their knees and big knives at their hips. They 
smoke the worst tobacco they can find, and 
they carry ten gallons of alcohol per man in the 
baggage car. / 

In the intervals of telling lies to one another 
they read the railroad pamphlets about hunt- 
ing. This kind of literature is deliberately 
and fiendishly contrived to infuriate their 
mania. I know all about these pamphlets 
because I write them. I once, for instance, 
wrote up, from imagination, a little place 
206 



Back to the Bush 



called Dog Lake at the end of a branch line. 
The place had failed as a settlement, and the 
railroad had decided to turn it into a hunting 
resort. I did the turning. I think I did it 
rather well, rechristening the lake and stocking 
the place with suitable varieties of game. The 
pamphlet ran like this. 

"The limpid waters of Lake Owatawetness 
( the name, according to the old Indian legends 
of the place, signifies. The Mirror of the 
Almighty) abound with every known variety 
of fish. Near to its surface, so close that the 
angler may reach out his hand and stroke them, 
schools of pike, pickerel, mackerel, doggerel, 
and chickerel jostle one another in the water. 
They rise instantaneously to the bait and swim 
gratefully ashore holding it in their mouths. 
In the middle depth of the waters of the lake, 
the sardine, the lobster, the kippered herring, 
the anchovy and other tinned varieties of fish 
disport themselves with evident gratification, 
while even lower in the pellucid depths the 
dog-fish, the hog-fish, the log-fish, and the 
sword-fish whirl about in never-ending 
circles. 

"Nor is Lake Owatawetness merely an 
Angler's Paradise. Vast forests of primeval 

207 



Literary Lapses 



pine slope to the very shores of the lake, to 
which descend great droves of bears — ^brown, 
green, and bear-coloured — while as the shades 
of evening fall, the air is loud with the lowing 
of moose, cariboo, antelope, cantelope, musk- 
oxes, musk-rats, and other graminivorous mam- 
malia of the forest. These enormous quad- 
rumana generally move off about 10.30 p.m., 
from which hour until 11.45 P-f"- t^c whole 
shore is reserved for bison and buffalo. 

"After midnight hunters who so desire it cart 
be chased through the woods, for any distance' 
and at any speed they select, by jaguars, 
panthers, cougars, tigers, and jackals whose 
ferocity is reputed to be such that they will 
tear the breeches off a man with their teeth 
in their eagerness to sink their fangs in his 
palpitating flesh. Hunters, attention I Do not 
miss such attractions as these 1" 

I have seen men — quiet, reputable, well- 
shaved men — reading that pamphlet of mine 
in the rotundas of hotels, with their eyes blaz- 
ing with excitement. I think it is the jaguar 
attraction that hits them the hardest, because 
I notice them rub themselves sympathetically 
with their hands while they read. 

Of course, you can imagine the effect of this 
208 



Back to the Bush 



sort of literature on the brains of men fresh 
from their offices, and dressed out as pirates. 

They just go crazy and stay crazy. 

Just watch them when they get into the 
bush. 

Notice that well-to-do stockbroker crawling 
about on his stomach in the underbrush, with 
his spectacles shining like gig-lamps. What 
is he doing? He is after a cariboo that isn't 
there. He is "stalking" it. With his stomach. 
Of course, away down in his heart he knows 
that the cariboo isn't there and never was; 
but that man read my pamphlet and went 
crazy. He can't help it: he's got to stalk 
something. Mark him as he crawls along; 
see him crawl through a thimbleberry bush 
(very quietly so that the cariboo won't hear 
the noise of the prickles going into him) , then 
through a bee's nest, gently and slowly, so that 
the cariboo will not take fright when the bees 
are stinging him. Sheer woodcraft! Yes, 
mark him. Mark him any way you like. Go 
up behind him and paint a blue cross on the 
seat of his pants as he crawls. He'll never 
notice. He thinks he's a hunting dog. Yet 
this is the man who laughs at his little son of 
ten for crawling round under the dining-room 
209 



Literary Lapses 



table with a mat over his shoulders, and pre- 
tending to be a bear. 

Now see these other men in camp. 

Someone has told them — I think I first 
started the idea in my pamphlet — that the 
thing is to sleep on a pile of hemlock branches. 
I think I told them to listen to the wind sow- 
ing (you know the word I mean), sowing and 
crooning in the giant pines. So there they are 
upside-down, doubled up on a couch of green 
spikes that would have killed St. Sebastian, 
They stare up at the sky with blood-shot, rest- 
less eyes, waiting for the crooning to begin. 
And there isn't a sow in sight. 

Here is another man, ragged and with a 
six days' growth of beard, frying a piece of 
bacon on a stick over a little fite. Now what 
does he think he is? The chef of the Waldorf 
Astoria? Yes, he does, and what's more he 
thinks that that miserable bit of bacon, cut 
with a tobacco knife from a chunk of meat 
that lay six days in the rain, is fit to eat. What's 
more, he'll eat it. So will the rest. They're 
all crazy together. 

There's another man, the Lord help him, 
who thinks he has the "knack" of being a 
carpenter. He is hammering up shelves to a 

210 



Back to the Bush 



tree. Till the shelves fall down he thinks he 
is a wizard. Yet this is the same man who 
swore at his wife for asking him to put up a 
shelf in the back kitchen. "How the blazes," 
he asked, "could he nail the damn thing up? 
Did she think he was a plumber?" 

After all, never mind. 

Provided they are happy up there, let them 
stay. 

Personally, I wouldn't mind if they didn't 
come back and lie about it. They get back 
to the city dead fagged for want of sleep, 
sogged with alcohol, bitten brown by the bush- 
flies, trampled on by the moose and chased 
through the brush by bears and skunks — and 
they have the nerve to say that they like it. 

Sometimes I think they do. 

Men are only animals anyway. They like to 
get out into the woods and growl round at night 
and feel something bite them. 

Only why haven't they the Imagination to 
be able to do the same thing with less fuss? 
Why not take their coats and collars off in the 
office and crawl round on the floor and growl at 
one another. It would be just as good. 



2If 



Reflections on Riding 



THE writing of this paper has been 
inspired by a debate recently held 
at the literary society of my native 
town on the question, "Resolved: 
that the bicycle is a nobler animal than the 
horse." In order to speak for the negative 
with proper authority, I have spent some weeks 
in completely addicting myself to the use of 
the horse. I find that the difference between 
the horse and the bicycle is greater than I had 
supposed. 

The horse is entirely covered with hair; the 
bicycle is not entirely covered with hair, except 
the '89 model they are using in Idaho. 

In riding a horse the performer finds that 
the pedals in which he puts his feet will not 
allow of a good circular stroke. He will ob- 
serve, however, that there is a saddle in which 
— especially while the horse is trotting — he is 
expected to seat himself from time to time. 
But it is simpler to ride standing up, with the 
feet in the pedals. 

There are no handles to a horse, but the 
212 



Reflections on Riding 



19 lo model has a string to each side of its 
face for turning its head when there is anything 
you want it to see. 

Coasting on a good horse is superb, but 
should be under control. I have known a horse 
to suddenly begin to coast with me about two 
miles from home, coast down the main street 
of my native town at a terrific rate, and finally 
coast through a platoon of the Salvation Army 
Into its livery stable. 

I cannot honestly deny that it takes a good 
deal of physical courage to ride a horse. This, 
however, I have. I get it at about forty cents 
a flask, and take it as required. 

I find that in riding a horse up the long 
street of a country town. It Is not well to 
proceed at a trot. It excites unkindly comment. 
It Is better to let the horse walk the whole dis- 
tance. This may be made to seem natural by 
turning half round in the saddle with the 
hand on the horse's back, and gazing Intently 
about two miles up the road. It then appears 
that you are the first in of about fourteen 
men. 

Since learning to ride, I have taken to 
noticing the things that people do on horse- 
back In books. Some of these I can manage, 

213 



lAterary Lapses 



but most of them are entii"ely beyond me. 
Here, for instance, is a form of equestrian 
performance that every reader will recognise 
and for which I have onlv a despairing admira- 
tion: 

"With a hasty gesture of farewell, the rider 
set spurs to his horse and disappeared in a cloud 
of dust." 

With a little practice in the matter of ad- 
justment, I think I could set spurs to any size 
of horse, but I could never disappear in a cloud 
of dust — at least, not with any guarantee of 
remaining disappeared when the dust cleared 
away. 

Here, however, is one that I certainly can do : 

"The bridle-rein dropped 'from Lord Ever- 
ard's listless hand, and, with his head bowed 
upon his bosom, he suffered his horse to move 
at a foot's pace up the sombre avenue. Deep 
in thought, he heeded not the movement of the 
steed which bore him." 

That is, he looked as if he didn't; but in 
my case Lord Everard has his eye on the steed 
pretty closely, just the same. 

This next I am doubtful about: 

"To horse I to horse 1" cried the knight, and 
leaped into the saddle. 

214 



Reflections on Riding 



I think I could manage it if it read : 
"To horse!" cried the knight, and, snatch- 
ing a step-ladder from the hands of his trusty 
attendant, he rushed into the saddle. 

As a concluding remark, I may mention that 
my experience of riding has thrown a very in- 
teresting sidelight upon a rather puzzling point 
in history. It is recorded of the famous Henry 
the Second that he was "almost constantly in 
the saddle, and of so restless a disposition that 
he never sat down, even at meals." I had 
hitherto been unable to understand Henry's idea 
about his meals, but I think I can appreciate it 
now. 



2IS 



Saloonio 



A STUDY IN SHAKESPEAREAN CRITICISM 

THEY say that young men fresh from 
college a,re pretty positive about 
what they know. But from my 
own experience of life, I should say 
that if you take a comfortable, elderly man who 
hasn't been near a college for about twenty 
years, who has been pretty liberally fed and 
dined ever since, who measures about fifty 
Inches around the circumference, and has a 
complexion like a cranberry by candlelight, 
you will find that there is a degree of absoliite 
certainty about what he thinks he knows that 
will put any young man to shame. I am spe- 
cially convinced of this from the case of my 
friend Colonel Hogshead, a portly, choleric 
gentleman who made a fortune in the cattle- 
trade out in Wyoming, and who, in his later 
days, has acquired a chronic idea that the plays 
of Shakespeare are the one subject upon which 
he is most qualified to speak personally. 

He came across me the other evening as I 
216 



Saloonio 



was sitting by the fire in the club sitting-room 
looking over the leaves of The Merchant of 
Venice, and began to hold forth to me about 
the book. 

"Merchant of Venice, eh? There's a play 
for you, sir ! There's genius ! Wonderful, sir, 
wonderful ! You take the characters in that play 
and where will you find anything like 
them? You take Antonio, take Sherlock, take 
Saloonio " 

"Saloonio, Colonel?" I interposed mildly, 
"aren't you making a mistake? There's a 
Bassanio and a Salanio in the play, but I don't 
think there's any Saloonio, is there?" 

For a moment Colonel Hogshead's eye be- 
came misty with doubt, but he was not the man 
to admit himself in error : 

"Tut, tut I young man," he said with a frown, 
"don't skim through your books in that way. 
No Saloonio? Why, of course there's a Sa- 
loonio!" 

"But I tell you. Colonel," I rejoined, "I've 
just been reading the play and studying it, and 
I know there's no such character " 

"Nonsense, sir, nonsense 1" said the Colonel, 
"why he comes in all through; don't tell me, 
young man, I've read that play myself. Yes, 

217 



Literary Lapses 



and seen it played, too, out in Wyoming, 
before you were bom, by fellers, sir, that could 
act. No Saloonio, indeed! why, who is it 
that is Antonio's friend all through and won't 
leave him when Bassoonio turns against him? 
Who rescues Clarissa from Sherlock, and steals 
the casket of flesh from the Prince of Aragon? 
Who shouts at the Prince of Morocco, 'Out, 
out, you damned candlestick'? Who loads 
up the jury in the trial scene and fixes the 
doge? No Saloonio! By gad! in my opin- 
ion, he's the most important character in the 
play » 

"Colonel Hogshead," I said very firmly, 
"there isn't any Saloonio and you know it." 

But the old man had got fairly started on 
whatever dim recollection had given birth to 
Saloonio; the character seemed to grow more 
and more luminous in the Colonel's mind, and 
he continued with increasing animation: 

"I'll just tell you what Saloonio is^ he's a 
type. Shakespeare means him to embody the 
type of the perfect Italian gentleman. He's 
an idea, that's what he is, he's a symbol, he's 
a unit -^ 

Meanwhile I had been searching among the 
leaves of the play. "Look here," I said, 
218 



Saloonio 



"here's the list of the Dramatis Personae. 
There's no Saloonio there." 

But this didn't dismay the Colonel one 
atom. "Why, of course there isn't," he said. 
"You don't suppose you'd find Saloonio there! 
That's the whole art of itl That's Shake- 
speare I That's the whole gist of it I He's kept 
clean out of the Personae — ogives him scope, 
g^ves him a free hand, makes him more of 
a type than ever. Oh, it's a subtle thing, sir, 
the dramatic art!" continued the Colonel, 
subsiding into quiet reflection; "it takes a 
feller quite a time to get right into Shake- 
speare's mind and see what he's at all the 
time." 

I began to see that there was no use in 
arguing any further with the old man. I left 
him with the idea that the lapse of a little 
time would soften his views on Saloonio. But 
I had not reckoned on the way in which old 
men hang on to a thing. Colonel Hogshead 
quite took up Saloonio. From that time on 
Saloonio became the theme of his constant 
conversation. He was never tired of dis- 
cussing the character of Saloonio, the wonder- 
ful art of the dramatist in creating him, 
Saloonio's relation to modern life, Saloonio's 

219 



lAterary Lapses 



attitude toward women, the ethical significance 
of Saloonio, Saloonio as compared with Ham- 
let, Hamlet as compared with Saloonio — and 
so on, endlessly. And the more he looked into 
Saloonio, the more he saw in him. 

Saloonio seemed inexhaustible. There were 
new sides to him — new phases at every turn. 
The Colonel even read over the play, and find- 
ing no mention of Saloonio's name in it, he 
swore that the books were not the same books 
they had had out in Wyoming; that the whole 
part had been cut clean out to suit the book 
to the infernal public schools, Saloonio's 
language being — at any rate, as the Colonel 
quoted it — ^undoubtedly a trifle free. Then 
the Colonel took to annotating his book at the 
side with such remarks as, "Enter Saloonio," 
or "A tucket sounds; enter Saloonio, on the 
arm of the Prince of Morocco." When there 
was no reasonable excuse for bringing Saloonio 
on the stage the Colonel swore that he was 
concealed behind the arras, or feasting within 
with the doge. 

But he got satisfaction at last. He had 
found that there was nobody in our part of the 
country who knew how to put a play of 
Shakespeare on the stage, and took a trip to 

220 



Saloonio 



New York to see Sir Henry Irving and Miss 
Terry do the play. The Colonel sat and 
listened all through with his face just beaming 
with satisfaction, and when the curtain fell 
at the close of Irving's grand presentation of 
the play, he stood up in his seat and cheered 
and yelled to his friends : "That's it ! That's 
him! Didn't you see that man that came on 
the stage all the time and sort of put the whole 
play through, though you couldn't understand 
a word he said? Well, that's him I That's 
Saloonio I" 



221 



Half-hours with the Poets 

I.— MR. WORDSWORTH AND THE LITTLE 
COTTAGE GIRL 

"I met a little cottage girl, 

She was eight years old she said, 

Her hair was thick with many a curl 

That clustered round her head." 

Wordsworth. 

THIS is what really happened. 
Over the dreary downs of his 
native Cumberland the aged laureate 
was wandering with bowed head 
and countenance of sorrow. 

Times were bad with the old man. 
In the south pocket of his trousers, as he 
set his face to the north, jingled but a few 
odd coins and a cheque for St. Leon 
water. Apparently his cup of bitterness was 
full. 

In the distance a child moved — a child in 
form, yet the deep lines upon her face bespoke 
a countenance prematurely old. 
^9 



Half-hours with the Poets 



The poet espied, pursued and overtook the 
infant. He observed that apparently she drew 
her breath lightly and felt her life in every 
limb, and that presumably her acquaintance 
with death was of the most superficial char- 
acter. 

"I must sit awhile and ponder on that child," 
murmured the poet. So he knocked her down 
with his walking-stick and seating himself upon 
her, he pondered. 

Long he sat thus in thought. "His heart is 
heavy," sighed the child. 

At length he drew forth a note-book and 
pencil and prepared to write upon his knee. 

"Now then, my dear young friend," he 
said, addressing the elfin creature, "I 
want those lines upon your face. Are you 
seven?" 

"Yes, we are seven," said the girl sadly, 
and added, "I know what you want. You 
are going to question me about my afflicted 
family. You are Mr. Wordsworth, and you 
are collecting mortuary statistics for the 
Cottagers' Edition of the Penny Encyclo- 
paedia." 

"You are eight years old?" asked the 
bard, 

223 



Literary Lapses 



"I suppose so," answered she. "I have been 
eight year§ old for years and years." 

"And you know nothing of death, of course?" 
said the poet cheerfully. 

"How can I?" answered the child. 

"Now then," resumed the venerable Wil- 
liam, "let us get to business. Name your 
brothers and sisters." 

"Let me see," began the child wearily; 
"there was Rube and Ike, two I can't think of, 
and John and Jane." 

"You must not count John and Jane," 
interrupted the bard reprovingly; "they're 
dead, you know, so that doesn't make 
seven." 

"I wasn't counting them, but perhaps 
I added up wrongly," said the child; "and 
will you please move your overshoe off my 
neck?" 

"Pardon," said the old man. "A nervous 
trick,"! have been absorbed; indeed, the exi- 
gency of the metre almost demands my dou- 
bling up my feet. To continue, however; which 
died first?" 

"The first to go was little Jane," said the 
child. 

"She lay moaning in bed, I presume?" 
224 



Half-hours with the Poets 



"In bed she moaning lay." , 

"What killed her?" 

"Insomnia," answered the girl. "The gaiety 
of our cottage life, previous to the departure 
of our elder brothers for Conway, and the con- 
stant field-sports in which she indulged with 
John, proved too much for a frame never too 
robust." 

"You express yourself well," said the poet. 
"Now, in regard to your unfortunate brother, 
what was the effect upon him in the fol- 
lowing winter of the ground being white 
with snow and your being able to run 
and slide?" 

"My brother John was forced to go," an- 
swered she. "We have been at a loss to un- 
derstand the cause of his death. We fear 
that the dazzling glare of the newly fallen 
snow, acting upon a restless brain, may have 
led him to a fatal attempt to emulate my 
own feats upon the ice. And, oh, sir," the 
child went on, "speak gently of poor Jane. 
You may rub it into John all you like; we 
always let him slide." 

"Very well," said the bard, "and allow me, 
in conclusion, one rather delicate question : Do 
you ever take your little porringer?" 

225 



lAterary Lapses 



"Oh, yes," answered the child frankly— 

" 'Quite often after sunset, 
When all is light and fair,. 
I take my little porringer ' — 

I can't quite remember what I do after that, 
but I know that I like it." 

"That is immaterial," said Wordsworth. "I 
can say that you take your little porringer neat, 
or with bitters, or in water after every meal. 
As long as I can state that you take a little 
porringer regularly, but never to excess, the 
public is satisfied. And now," rising from 
his seat, "I will not detain you any longer. 
Here is sixpence — or stay," he added hastily, 
"here is a cheque for St. Leon water. Your 
information has been most valuable, and 
I shall work it, for all I am Words- 
worth." With these words the aged poet 
bowed deferentially to the child and sauntered 
off in the direction of the Duke of Cumber- 
land's Arms, with his eyes on the ground, as 
if looking for the meanest flower that blows 
itself. 



226 



Half-hours with the Poets 



II.— HOW TENNYSON KILLED THE 
MAY QUEEN 

"If you're waking call me early, call me early, mother 
dear." 

Part I 

As soon as the child's malady had declared 
itself the afflicted parents of the May Queen 
telegraphed to Tennyson, "Our child gone 
crazy on subject of early rising, could you come 
and write some poetry about her?" 

Alfred, always prompt to fill orders in writ- 
ing from the country, came down on the eve- 
ning train. The old cottager greeted the poet 
warmly, and began at once to speak of the 
state of his unfortunate daughter. 

"She was took queer in May," he said, 
"along of a sort of bee that the young folks 
had; she ain't been just right since; happen you 
might do summat." 

With these words he opened the door of an 
inner room. 

The girl lay in feverish slumber. Beside 
her bed was an alarm-clock set for half-past 
three. Connected with the clock was an 

227 



Literary Lapses 



ingenious arrangement of a falling brick with 
a string attached to the child's toe. 

At the entrance of the visitor she started up 
in bed. "Whoop," she yelled, "I am to be 
Queen of the May, mother, ye-e I" 

Then perceiving Tennyson in the doorway, 
"If that's a caller," she said, "tell him to call 
me early." 

The shock caused the brick to fall. In the 
subsequent confusion Alfred modestly withdrew 
to the sitting-room. 

"At this rate," he chuckled, "I shall not have 
long to wait. A few weeks of that strain will 
finish her." 

Part II 

Six months had passed. 

It was now midrwinter. 

And still the girl lived. Her vitality appeared 
inexhaustible. 

She got up earlier and earlier. She now rose 
yesterday afternoon. 

At intervals she seemed almost sane, and 
spoke in a most pathetic manner of her grave 
and the probability of the sun shining on 
22S 



Half-hours with the Poets 



it early in the morning, and her mother walking 
on it later in the day. At other times her mal- 
ady would seize her, and she would snatch the 
brick off the string and throw it fiercely at Ten- 
nyson, Once, in an uncontrollable fit of mad- 
ness, she gave her sister Effie a half-share in 
her garden tools and an interest in a box of 
mignonette. 

The poet stayed doggedly on. In the 
chill of the morning twilight he broke the 
ice in his water-basin and cursed the girl. But 
he felt that he had broken the ice and he 
stayed. 

On the whole, life at the cottage, though 
rugged, was not cheerless. In the long 
winter evenings they would gather around 
a smoking fire of peat, while Tennyson read 
aloud the Idylls of the King to the rude 
old cottager. Not to show his rudeness, 
the old man kept awake by sitting on a tin- 
tack. This also kept his mind on the right 
tack. The two found that they had much 
in common, especially the old cottager. They 
caUed each other "Alfred" and "Hezekiah" 
now. 



22Q 



Literary Lapses 



Part III 

Time moved on and spring came. 

Still the girl baffled the poet. 

"I thought to pass away before," she would 
say with a mocking grin, "but yet alive I am, 
Alfred, alive I am." 

Tennyson was fast losing hope. 

Worn out vnth early rising, they engaged 
a retired Pullman-car porter to take up his 
quarters, and being a negro his presence added 
a touch of colour to their life. 

The poet also engaged a neighbouring divine 
at fifty cents an evening to read to the child 
the best hundred books, with explanations. The 
May Queen tolerated him, and used to like to 
play with his silver hair, but protested that he 
was prosy. 

At the end of his resources the poet resolved 
upon desperate measures. 

He chose an evening when the cottager and 
his wife were out at a dinner-party. 

At nightfall Tennyson and his accomplices 
entered the girl's room. 

She defended herself savagely with her brick, 
but was overpowered. 

230 



Half-hours with the Poets 

The negro seated himself upon her chest, 
while the clergyman hastily read a few verses 
about the comfort of early rising at the last 
day. 

As he concluded, the poet drove his pen into 
her eye. 

"Last call!" cried the negro porter triumph- 
antly. 

III.— OLD MR. LONGFELLOW ON BOARD 
THE HESPERUS 

"It was the schooner Hesperus that sailed the wintry 

sea, 
And the skipper had taken his little daughter to bear 
him company." — Longfellow. 

There were but three people in the cabin 
party of the Hesperus: old Mr. Longfellow, 
the skipper, and the skipper's daughter. 

The skipper was much attached to the child, 
owing to the singular whiteness of her skin and 
the exceptionally limpid blue of her eyes; 
she had hitherto remained on shore to 
fill lucrative engagements as albino lady in a 
circus. 

This time, however, her father had taken 
her with liim for company. The girl was 
an endless source of amusement to the skipper 

231 



lAterary Lapses 



and the crew. She constantly got up games 
of puss-in-the-comer, forfeits, and Dumb 
Crambo with her father and Mr. Longfellow, 
and made Scripture puzzles and geographical 
acrostics for the men. 

Old Mr. Longfellow was taking the voyage 
to restore his shattered nerves. From the 
first the captain disliked Henry. He was 
utterly unused to the sea and was nervous 
•and fidgety in the extreme. He complained 
that at sea his genius had not a sufficient degree 
of latitude. Which was unparalleled presump- 
tion. 

On the evening of the storm there had been 
a little jar between Longfellow and the cap- 
tain at dinner. The captain had emptied it 
several times, and was consequently in a reck- 
less, quarrelsome humour. 

"I confess I feel somewhat apprehensive," 
said old H«nry nervously, "of the state of 
the weather. I have had some conversation 
about it with an old gentleman on deck who 
professed to have sailed the Spanish main. 
He says you ought to put into yonder 
port." 

"I have," hiccoughed the skipper, eyeing 
the bottle, and added with a brutal laugh that 
23a 



Half -hours with the Poets 



"he could weather the roughest gale that ever 
wind did blow." A whole Gaelic society, he 
said, wouldn't fizz on him. 

Draining a final glass of grog, he rose from 
his chair, said grace, and staggered on 
deck. 

All the time the wind blew colder and 
louder. 

The billows frothed like yeast. It was a yeast 
wind. 

The evening wore on. 

Old Henry shufiled about the cabin in nervous 
misery. 

The skipper's daughter sat quietly at the 
table selecting verses from a Biblical clock to 
amuse the ship's bosun, who was suffering from 
toothache. 

At about ten Longfellow went to his bunk, 
requesting the girl to remain up in his 
cabin. 

For half an hour all was quiet, save the roar- 
ing of the winter wind. 

Then the girl heard the old gentleman start 
up in bed. 

"What's that bell, what's that bell?" he 
gasped. 

A minute later he emerged from his cabin 

233 



JAterary Lapses 



wearing a cork jacket and trousers over his 
pyjamas. 

"Sissy," he said, "go up and ask your pop 
who rang that bell." 

The obedient child returned. 

"Please, Mr. Longfellow," she said, "pa says 
there weren't no bell." 

The old man sank into a chair and remained 
with his head buried in his hands. 

"Say," he exclaimed presently, "some- 
one's firing guns and there's a glimmering 
light somewhere. You'd better go upstairs 
again." 

Again the child returned. 

"The crew are guessing at an acrostic, 
and occasionally they get a glimmering of 
it." 

Meantime the fury of the storm increased. 

The skipper had the hatches battered 
down. 

Presently Longfellow put his head out of a 
porthole and called out, "Look here, you may 
not care, but the cruel rocks are gor- 
ing the sides of this boat like the horns of an 
angry bull." 

The brutal skipper heaved the log at him. 
234 



Half-hours with the Poets 



A knot in it struck a plank and it glanced 
off. 

Too frightened to remain below, the poet 
raised one of the hatches by picking out the 
cotton batting and made his way on deck. He 
crawled to the wheel-house. 

The skipper stood lashed to the helm all stiff 
and stark. He bowed stiffly to the poet. The 
lantern gleamed through the gleaming snow on 
his fixed and glassy eyes. The man was hope- 
lessly intoxicated. 

All the crew had disappeared. When the 
missile thrown by the captain had glanced off 
into the sea, they glanced after it and were 
lost. 

At this moment the final crash came. 

Something hit something. There was an 
awful click followed by a peculiar grating 
sound, and in less time than it takes to write 
it (unfortunately), the whole wreck was 
over. 

As the vessel sank, Longfellow's senses left 
him. When he reopened his eyes he was in 
his own bed at home, and the editor of his 
local paper was bending over him. 

"You have made a first-rate poem of it, 
Mr. Longfellow," he was saying, unbending 

235 



Literary Lapses 



somewhat as he spoke, "and I am very happy 
to give you our cheque^ for a dollar and a quar- 
ter for It." 

"Your kindness checks my utterance," mur- 
mured Henry feebly, very feebly. 



336 



A, B, and C 



THE HUMAN ELEMENT IN MATHEMATICS 

THE Student of arithmetic who has 
mastered the first four rules of his 
art, and successfully striven with 
money sums and fractions, finds 
himself confronted by an unbroken expanse of 
questions known as problems. These are 
short stories of adventure and industry with 
the end omitted, and though betraying a. strong 
family resemblance, are not without a certain 
element of romance. 

The characters in the plot of a problem are 
three people called A, B, and C. The form 
of the question is generally of this sort: 

"A, B, and C do a certaih piece of work. 
A can do as much work in one hour as B in 
two, or C in four. Find how long they work 
at it." 

Or thus: 

"A, B, and C are employed to dig a ditch. 
A can dig as much in one hour as 6 can dig in 

237 



lAterary Lapses 



two, and B can dig twice as fast as C. Find 
how long, etc., etc." 

Or after this wise: 

"A lays a wager that he can walk faster than 
B or C. A can walk half as fast again as B, 
and C is only an indifferent walker. Find how 
far, and so forth." 

The occupations of A, B, and C are many 
and varied. In the older arithmetics they con- 
tented themselves with doing "a certain piece 
of work." This statement of the case, how- 
ever, was found too sly and mysterious, or pos- 
sibly lacking in romantic charm. It became 
the fashion to define the job more clearly and 
to set them at walking matches, ditch-digglng> 
regattas, and piling cord wood. At times, 
they became commercial and entered into part- 
nership, having with their old mystery a "cer- 
tain" capital. Above all they revel in motion. 
When they tire of walking-matches — ^A rides 
on horseback, or borrows a bicycle and com- 
petes with his weaker-minded associates on 
foot. Now they race on locomotives; now 
they row ; or again they become historical and 
engage stage-coaches; or at times they are 
aquatic and swim. If their occupation is 
actual work they prefer to pump water into 
238 



Aj B, and C 



cisterns, two of which leak through holes in 
the bottom and one of which is water-tight. 
A, of course, has the good one; he also takes 
the bicycle, and the best locomotive, and the 
right of swimming with the current. What- 
ever they do they put money on it, being all 
three sports. A always wins. 

In the early chapters of the arithmetic, their 
identity is concealed under "the names John, 
William, and Henry, and they wrangle over 
the division of marbles. In algebra they are 
often called X, Y, Z. But these are only their 
Christian names, and they are really the same 
people. 

', Now to one who has followed the history 
of these men through countless pages of prob- 
lems, watched them in their leisure hours dal- 
lying with cord wood, and seen their panting 
sides heave in the full frenzy of filling a cis- 
tern with a leak in it, they become something 
more than mere symbols. They appear as 
creatures of flesh and blood, living men with 
their own passions, ambitions, and aspirations 
like the rest of us. Let us view them in turn. 
A is a full-blooded blustering feUow, of ener- 
getic temperament, hot-headed and strong- 
willed. It is he who proposes everything, 

239 



lAterary Lapses 



challenges B to work, makes the bets, and 
bends the others to his will. He is a man of 
great physical strength and phenomenal en- 
durance. He has been known to walk forty- 
eight hours at a stretch, and to pump ninety- 
six. His life is arduous and full of peril. A 
mistake in the working of a sum may keep him 
digging a fortnight without sleep. A repeat- 
ing decimal in the answer might kill him. 

B is a quiet, easy-going fellow, afraid of A 
and bullied by him, but very gentle and 
brotherly to little C, the weakling. He is 
quite in A's power, having lost all his money 
in bets. 

Poor C is an undersized, frail man, with a 
plaintive face. Constant walking, digging, and 
pumping has broken his health and ruined his 
nervous system. His joyless life has driven 
him to drink and smoke more than is good 
for himj and his hand often shakes as he digs 
ditches. , He has not the strength to work as 
the others can, in fact, as Hamlin Smith has 
said, "A can do more work in one hour than 
C in four." 

The first time that ever I saw these men 
was one evening after a regatta. They had 
all been rowing in it, and it had transpired 
240 



A, Bj and C 



that A could row as much in one hour as B in 
two, or C in four. B and C had come in dead 
fagged and C was coughing badly. "Never 
mind, old fellow," I heard B say, "I'll fix you 
up on the sofa and get you some hot tea." 
Just then A came blustering in and shouted, 
"I say, you fellows, Hamlin Smith has shown 
me three cisterns in his garden and he says 
we can pump them until to-morrow night. I 
bet I can beat you both. Come on. You can 
pump in your rowing things, you know. Your 
cistern leaks a little, I think, C." I heard B 
growl that it was a dirty shame and that C was 
used up now, but they went, and presently I 
could tell from the sound of the water that A 
was pumping four times as fast as C. 

For years after that I used to see them con- 
stantly about town and always busy. I never 
heard of any of them eating or sleeping. Then 
owing to a long absence from home, I lost 
sight of them. On my return I was surprised 
to no longer find A, B, and C at their accus- 
tomed tasks; on inquiry I heard that work in 
this line was now done by N, M, and O, and 
that some people were employing for algebrai- 
cal jobs four foreigners called Alpha, Beta, 
Gamma, and Delta. 

241 



IMerary Lapses 



Now it chanced one day that I stumbled 
upon old D, in the little garden in front of his 
cottage, hoeing in the sun. D is an aged la- 
bouring man who used occasionally to be called 
in to help A, B, and C. "Did I know 'em, 
sir?" he answered, "why, I knowed 'em ever 
since they was little fellows in brackets. Mas- 
ter A, he were a fine lad, sir, though I always 
said, give me Master B for kind-heartedness- 
like. Many's the job as we've been on to- 
gether, sir, though I never did no racing nor 
aught of that, but just the plain labour, as you 
might say. I'm getting a bit too old arid stiff 
for it nowadays, sir — ^just scratch about in the 
garden here and grow a bit of a logarithm, 
or raise a common denominator or two. But 
Mr. Euclid he use me still for them proposi- 
tions, he do." 

From the garrulous old man I learned the 
melancholy end of my" former acquaintances. 
Soon after I left town, he told me, C had been 
taken ill. It seems that A and B had been 
rowing on the river for a wager, and C had 
been running on the bank and then sat in a 
draught. Of course the bank had refused the 
draught and C was taken ill. A and B came 
home and found C lying helpless in bed. A 
242 , 



A, B, and C 



shook him roughly and said, "Get up, C, we're 
going to pile wood." C looked so worn and 
pitiful that B said, "Look here. A, I won't 
stand this, he isn't fit to pile wood to-night." 
C smiled feebly and said, "Perhaps I might 
pile a little if I sat up in bed." Then B, 
thoroughly alarmed, said, "See here. A, I'm 
going to fetch a doctor; he's dying." A 
flared up and answered, "You've no money 
to fetch a doctor." "I'll reduce him to his 
lowest terms," B said firmly, "that'll fetch 
him." C's life might even then have been 
saved but they made a mistake about the med- 
icine. It stood at the head of the bed on a 
bracket, and the nurse accidentally removed 
it from the bracket without changing the sign. 
After the fatal blunder C seems to have sunk 
rapidly. On the evening of the next day, as 
the shadows deepened in the little room, it was 
clear to all that the end was near. I think 
that even A was affected at the last as he stood 
with bowed head, aimlessly offering to bet 
with the doctor on C's laboured breathing. 
"A," whispered C, "I think I'm going fast." 
"How fast do you think you'll go, old man?" 
murmured A. "I don't know," said C, "but 
I'm going at any rate." — The end came soon 

243 



IMerary Lapses 



after that. C rallied for a moment and asked 
for a certain piece of work that he had left 
downstairs. A put it in his arms and he ex- 
pired. As his soul sped heavenward A 
watched its flight with melancholy admiration. 
B burst into a passionate flood of tears and 
sobbed, "Put away his little cistern and the 
rowing clothes he used to wear, I feel as if I 
could hardly ever dig again." — ^The funeral 
was plain and unostentatious. It differed in 
nothing from the ordinary, except that out of 
deference to sporting men and mathematicians, 
A engaged two hearses. Both vehicles started 
at the same time, B driving the one which bore 
the sable parallelopiped containing the last 
remains of his ill-fated friend. A on the box 
of the empty hearse generously consented to a 
handicap of a hundred yards, but arrived first 
at the cemetery by driving four times as fast 
as B. (Find the distance to the cemetery.) As 
the sarcophagus was lowered, the grave was 
surrounded by the broken figures of the first 
book of Euclid. — It was noticed that after the 
death of C, A became a changed man. He 
lost interest in racing with B, and dug but lan- 
guidly. He finally gave up his work and set- 
tled down to live on the interest of his bets. 
244 



■A, B, and C 



— ^B never recovered from the shock of C's 
death; his grief preyed upon, his intellect and 
it became deranged. He grew moody and 
spoke only in monosyllables. His disease be- 
came rapidly aggravated, and he presently 
spoke only in words whose spelling was regu- 
lar and which presented no difficulty to the be- 
ginner. Realising his precarious condition he 
voluntarily submitted to be incarcerated in an 
asylum, where he abjured mathematics and de- 
voted himself to writing the History of the 
Swiss Family Robinson in words of one 
syllable. 



24S 



Acknowledgments 



MANY of the sketches which form 
the present volume have already 
appeared in print. Others of 
them are new. Of the re- 
printed pieces, "Melpomenus Jones," "Police- 
man Hogan," "A Lesson in Fiction," and 
many others were contributions by the author 
to the New York Truth. The "Boarding- 
House Geometry" first appeared in Truth, and 
was subsequently republished in the London 
Punch, and in a great many other journals. 
The sketches called the "Life of John Smith," 
"Society Chit-Chat," and "Aristocratic Educa- 
tion" appeared in Puck. "The New Pathol- 
ogy" was first printed in the Toronto Saturday 
Night, and was subsequently republished by the 
London Lancet, and by various German pe- 
riodicals in the form of a translation. The 
story called "Number Fifty-Six" is taken from 
the Detroit Free Press. "My Financial Ca- 
reer" was originally contributed to the New 
York Life, and has been frequently reprinted. 
247 



'AcJenowledgmenta 



The articles "How to Make a Million Dol- 
lars" and "How to Avoid Getting Married," 
etc., are reproduced by permission of the Pub- 
lishers' Press Syndicate. The wide circula- 
tion which some of the above sketches have 
enjoyed has encouraged the author to prepare 
the present collection. 

The author desires to express his sense of 
obligation to the proprietors of the above jour- 
nals who have kindly permitted him to repub- 
lish the contributions which appeared in their 
columns. 



248