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Title: The Iron Man & The Tin Woman

Date of first publication: 1929

Author: Stephen Leacock (1869-1944)

Date first posted: Oct. 19, 2016

Date last updated: Oct. 19, 2016

Faded Page eBook #20161016

This ebook was produced by: Alex White & the online Distributed Proofreaders Canada team at http://www.pgdpcanada.net







With Other Such Futurities








Copyright, 1929,






printed in the U. S. A. by

Quinn & Boden Company, Inc.





The Iron Man and the Tin Woman
Further Progress in Specialization
When Social Regulation is Complete
Isn’t It Just Wonderful?
The Last of the Rubber Necks
Athletics for 1950
The Criminal Face
Astronomical Alarms
Memoirs of an Ice-Man
The Memoirs of a Night Watchman
Confessions of a Super-Extra-Criminal
The Life of J. Correspondence Smith
Eddie the Bartender
Janus and the Janitor
The Intimate Disclosures of a Wronged Woman
Little Conversations of the Hour
Travel is so Broadening
Tommy and Milly at the Farm
Life’s Little Inconsistencies
New Words—New Things
More Messages from Mars
Portents of the Future
Rural Urbanity
All Up!
Willie Nut Tries to Enter College
Graduation Day at the Barbers College
Correspondence Manual Number One
The Golfomaniac
The Golfer’s Pocket Guide
The Golf Season in Retrospect
Long After Bedtime
The Newer Truthfulness
A Midsummer Detective Mystery
Little Lessons in Journalism
More Literary Scandals
Who Reads What
Overhauling the Encyclopedia
Jazzled Journalism
This Heart-to-Heart Stuff
Forty Years of Billiards
The Hero of Home Week
Conversations I Can Do Without
Mr. Chairman, I Beg to Move——
Fifty Cents Worth


The Iron Man and the Tin Woman

“Pardon me,” said the Iron Man to the Tin Woman, “I hope I don’t intrude.”

He spoke in the low deep tones of a phonograph. His well-oiled cylinders were working to perfection, and his voice was full and mellow. The revolutions of his epiglottis, running direct from its battery with a thermostatic control to register emotion, was steady and unchanged.

“Not at all,” said the Tin Woman, “pray come into the drawing-room.”

She was working at a higher revolution, but speaking evenly and clearly.

The Iron Man inclined himself fifteen degrees forward from his third section, recovered himself by his automatic internal plumb line, turned seventy-five degrees sideways and took four steps and a quarter, as dictated by his optometric control, to a chair where he turned one complete revolution and a quarter and sat down.

But, stop! It is necessary to interrupt the story a moment so as to explain to the reader what it is about.

Everybody has been struck by the invention of the Iron Man, the queer mechanical being recently fabricated in Germany and exhibited there and in the United States. He is called a Robot, but he might just as well be called a Macpherson.

The pictures of the Iron Man show him with a head like a stovepipe, and a body like a Quebec heater. He is cased in nickel, jointed in steel, and one kick from his pointed iron foot would scatter a whole football team.

In other words, he has us all beaten at the start.

The Iron Man talks with a phonograph drum, sees with high-power convex mirrors, and gets his energy from electricity stored inside of him at 2,000 volts.

The Iron Man, it seems, is able to walk. He can walk across the floor of a room, step up on a platform, bow and take his seat. In this one act he displaces all public chairmen, chancellors of universities, and heads of conferences.

He is able, if you put a speech into his stomach, to reel it off his chest without a single fault or error. In this he outclasses at once all public speakers, platform orators and after-dinner entertainers. He can not only make a speech, but while making it he can move up and down, saw his arms around in the air, and gyrate with his head. In other words, the Iron Man can act, and after this there is no more need for living actors to keep alive.

Consequently, the Iron Man will rapidly take over from us a large part of the activity of the world. Anybody of sufficient means will soon have an Iron Man made as a counterpart of himself. When he has anything to do peculiarly difficult or arduous or needing great nerve, he will let the Iron Man do it. For myself, I intend to have an Iron Man do all my golf for me, which will reopen at once the whole question of the local championship. That, however, is only a personal matter. The point is that each and all of us will very soon be making use of an Iron Man.

Equally is it evident that some one will now invent a Tin Woman. She will be made of softer metal outside, but just as hard inside, with eyes that revolve further sideways and a phonograph drum of double capacity to go two words to one from the Iron Man.

So these are the two beings that are going to replace us individually in the world, to do our work and leave us to play. The timid human race will shrink behind its metal substitute. And even such a thing as a proposal of marriage, arduous, nerve-racking, and disturbing—will be gladly handed over to the deputy.

With which, let us continue the story.

The Tin Woman moved sideways eighteen degrees as guided by the reflected rays from the Iron Man’s concave eye-pieces and adjusted herself at half a right angle, with her base on a sofa.

There was a pause. Both waited until the situation grew warm enough to raise their temperatures to the speaking point.

“I have come——” began the Iron Man in a low voice. Then there was a click in his throat and he paused. He was not yet warmed up.

The Tin Woman, under the impact of his phonograph, altered the angle of her neck.

“Yes——” she murmured. Her phonograph seemed to revolve, but almost without sound.

“I have come,” said the Iron Man again, this time in a firm strong voice, while the hum of his self-starter seemed to give him an air of confidence, “to ask you a question.”

The ophthalmic plates of the Tin Woman, delicate as gold leaf, had been so adjusted that the sound-unit of the word “question” would start something in her.

“It is so sudden——” she murmured.

The Iron Man made an upright move on his seat so that his body-cylinder was perpendicular to his disc.

“I want you to marry me,” he said. He had to say it. These were the last of the words that had been put into him. He had no more.

But it was enough.

The mistress of the Tin Woman, whom she here represented, had had her adjusted so that as soon as the word “marry” hit her, it would set her going.

“——Oh, John——” she gasped. She rose up on her spring legs and fell forward with her tin bodycase flat on the floor.

The Iron Man stooped his body to eighty-five degrees, picked her up with his magnetic clutch, and then placed his facial cylinder close against hers so that his magnetic lamps looked right into her.

He put one steel arm around her central feedpipe and for a moment put her under a pressure of two thousand volts.

But he spoke no word. He couldn’t. He had used up all his perforated strip of words.

He stood the Tin Woman up against the wall, revolved twice on his feet to get oriented, and then clumped off out of the house.

The proposal was over.

And a few minutes later the Man—the real man, if he can be called so—was telephoning to the Real Woman.

“Darling, I am so pleased. My Iron Man has just come home and as soon as I opened him I knew your answer——”

“I’m so happy, too,” she said, “I could hardly wait to unlock Lizzie. I nearly took a can-opener to her, and when I heard your voice, I nearly died with happiness.”

“And we won’t wait, will we?” continued the man. “Let’s have John and Lizzie go through the Church Service part of it right away——”

“Just as soon as I can get Lizzie a new tin skirt, from the hardware store,” said the woman.

And a week after, Iron John and Tin Lizzie were married by a Brass Clergyman and a Cast Iron Sexton, while a Metal Choir sang their cylinders loose with joy.

Further Progress in Specialization

In the old days, of say twenty years ago, when a man got sick he went to a doctor. The doctor looked at him, examined him, told him what was wrong with him, and gave him some medicine and told him to go to bed. The patient went to bed, took the medicine, and either got better or didn’t.

All of this was very primitive, and it is very gratifying to feel that we have got quite beyond it.

Now, of course, a consulting doctor first makes a diagnosis. The patient is then handed on to a “heart-man” for a heart test, and to a nerve man for a nerve test. Then if he has to be operated on, he is put to sleep by an anesthetist, and operated on by an operating surgeon, and waked up by a resurrectionist.

All that is excellent—couldn’t be better.

But just suppose that the other professions began to imitate it! And just suppose that the half professions that live in the reflection of the bigger ones start in on the same line!

We shall then witness little episodes in the routine of our lives such as that which follows:

“Mr. Follicle will see you now,” said the young lady attendant.

The patient entered the inner sanctum of Dr. Follicle, generally recognized as one of the greatest capillary experts in the profession. He carried after his name the degrees of Cap. D. from Harvard, Doc. Chev. from Paris, and was an Honorary Shampoo of half a dozen societies.

The expert ran his eye quickly over the face of the incoming patient. His trained gaze at once recognized a certain roughness in the skin, as if of a partial growth of hair just coming through the surface, which told the whole tale. He asked, however, a few questions as to personal history, parentage, profession, habits, whether sedentary or active, and so on, and then with a magnifying glass made a searching examination of the patient’s face.

He shook his head.

“I think,” he said, “there is no doubt about your trouble. You need a shave.”

The patient’s face fell a little at the abrupt, firm announcement. He knew well that it was the expert’s duty to state it to him flatly and fairly. He himself in his inner heart had known it before he had come in. But he had hoped against hope: perhaps he didn’t need it after all; perhaps he could wait; later on, perhaps, he would accept it. Thus he had argued to himself, refusing, as we all refuse, to face the cruel and inevitable fact.

“Could it be postponed for a day or so more?” he asked. “I have a good many things to do at the office.”

“My dear sir,” said the expert firmly, “I have told you emphatically that you need a shave. You may postpone it if you wish, but if you do I refuse to be responsible.”

The patient sighed.

“All right,” he said, “if I must, I must. After all, the sooner it’s done, the sooner it’s over. Go right ahead and shave me.”

The great expert smiled. “My dear sir,” he said, “I don’t shave you myself. I am only a consulting hairologist. I make my diagnosis, and I pass you on to expert hands.”

He pushed a bell.

“Miss Smith,” he said to the entering secretary, “please fill out a card for this gentleman for the Shaving Room. If Dr. Scrape is operating, get him to make the removal of the facial hair. Dr. Clicker will then run the clippers over his neck. Perhaps he had better go right to the Soaping Room from here; have him sent down fully soaped to Dr. Scrape.”

The young lady stepped close to the expert and said something in a lower tone, which the patient was not intended to hear.

“That’s unfortunate,” murmured the specialist. “It seems that we have no soapist available for at least an hour or so. Both our experts are busy—an emergency case that came in this morning, involving the complete removal of a full beard. Still, perhaps Dr. Scrape can arrange something for you. And now,” he continued, looking over some notes in front of him, “for the work around the ears, have you any preference for any one in particular? I mean any professional man of your own acquaintance whom you would like to call in?”

“Why, no,” said the patient, “can’t Dr. What’s-his-name do that, too?”

“He could,” said the consultant, “but only at a certain risk, which I hesitate to advise. Snipping the hair about and around the ears is recognized as a very delicate line of work, which is better confided to a specialist. In the old days in this line of work there were often some very distressing blunders and accidents due purely to lack of technique—severance of part of the ear, for example.”

“All right,” said the patient, “I’ll have a specialist.”

“Very good,” said the Hairologist, “now as to a shampoo—I think we had better wait till after the main work is over and then we will take special advice according to your condition. I am inclined to think that your constitution would stand an immediate shampoo. But I shouldn’t care to advise it without a heart test. Very often a premature shampoo in cold weather will set up a nasal trouble of a very distressing character. We had better wait and see how we come along.”

“All right,” said the patient.

“And now,” added the expert, more genially, “at the end of all of it, shall we say—a shine?”

“Oh, yes, certainly.”

“A shine, very good, and a brush-up? To include the hat? Yes, excellent. Miss Smith, will you conduct this gentleman to the Soaping Room?”

The patient hummed and hawed a little. “What about the fee?” he asked.

The consultant waved the question aside with dignity. “Pray do not trouble about that,” he said, “all that will be attended to in its place.”

And when the patient had passed through all the successive stages of the high-class expert work indicated, from the first soap to the last touch of powder, he came, at the end, with a sigh of relief, to the special shoe-shining seat and the familiar colored boy on his knees waiting to begin. Here, at last, he thought, is something that hasn’t changed.

“Which foot?” asked the boy.

“How’s that?” asked the man. “Oh, it doesn’t matter—here, take the right.”

“You’ll have to go to the other chair,” said the boy, rising up from his knees. “I’m left-handed. I only do the left foot.”

When Social Regulation is Complete

“My goodness!” said Edward to Angelina as they turned from the crowded street into the little shaded park. “That was a close shave!”

“What?” asked the girl. “I didn’t see.”

“Didn’t you? Why, it was the Inspector of Shoes. I was in such a tearing hurry this morning to get out and join you that I had no time to black my shoes properly. He passed us as close as that! Lucky shave, wasn’t it?”

“Hush,” whispered Angelina, “don’t speak just for a minute. I’m sure that man is watching us; don’t walk so close to me. I have an idea that he must be one of the new Preventive Officers against Premature Courtship.”

“Oh! That’s all right,” laughed Edward, “I have a license.”

“A license!” the girl exclaimed, putting her arm through his. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Well, to tell the truth,” explained Edward, “I only got it properly signed and visa’d yesterday. You see it had been reported that I went to your family’s house three evenings running and so I got a notice from the Visitors’ Department to ask whether I had a proper license. I had of course my general Suitable Acquaintance Tag, and I had paid my Callers’ Tax already, but it had been reported to the department that I’d been three evenings running to a house where there was an unmarried girl, and so of course they sent me a Summons.”

“Dear me!” sighed Angelina, “I suppose it’s wicked to say it, but sometimes it seems terrible to live in this age when everything is so regulated. Did you read that awfully clever novel that came out last week called ‘Wicked Days’ that told all about our great-grandfathers’ time when people used to just do almost as they liked?”

“No, the book was suppressed, you know, immediately. But I heard something of it.”

“It must have been awfully queer. Anybody could go round anywhere and visit any house they liked and actually, just think of it!—go and eat meals in other people’s houses and even in public restaurants without a Sanitary Inspector’s Certificate or anything!”

Edward shook his head. “Sounds a bit dangerous,” he said. “I’m not sure that I’d like it. Suppose, for instance, that somebody had a cold in the head, you might catch it. Or suppose you found yourself eating in a restaurant perhaps only six feet away from a person infected with an inferiority complex, it might get communicated to you.” He shivered.

“Let’s sit down,” said Angelina suddenly. “I want to go on talking, but I don’t feel like walking up and down all the time. Here’s a bench. I wonder if we are allowed to sit on it.”

“I’ve got a Sitting License for two in my pocket,” said Edward, “but I’m hanged if I know whether it’s been stamped.”

He took a little bit of government paper out of his pocket and they both scrutinized it.

“I’m afraid it’s not been stamped, dear,” said Angelina.

“Hush, hush,” said Edward apprehensively, “don’t say anything like that. Surely you know about the new Use-of-Endearing-Terms-in-Public-Places Act! For goodness’ sake, be careful!”

He shivered with renewed apprehension.

“Oh, hang it all, anyway,” said Angelina. “There’s a caretaker; ask him.”

“I can’t,” said Edward. “Don’t you see he’s got a Silence placard on him?”

“Then ask that policeman.”

“Ask the policeman! And get run into court for disturbing the police in the course of their duty! No, thank you!”

“Oh, Edward,” interrupted the girl, “of course we can sit down. Don’t you remember this is Wednesday morning and under the new decisions of the court people may sit in the parks at any time from 10 a.m. to 12 noon on Wednesdays.”

“Oh, come,” said Edward. “Hoorah! let’s sit down. Isn’t it fine to be free like this!”

They both sat on the bench under the trees. Angelina gave a sigh of relief.

“We were talking,” she said, “about how restricted everything is nowadays and I must say I don’t like it. I wonder how it all began.”

“I read a lot of the history of it,” said Edward, “when I was at college. This present Age of Restriction seems to have begun bit by bit; first one thing got regulated and then another. The more people got of it, the more they seemed to want.”

“How stupid!” said Angelina. She reached out and took his hand and then hurriedly dropped it. “Gracious!” she exclaimed, “I nearly forgot again.”

“It’s all right to take my hand. My new license covers it. Here, hold it if you like. You have to hold it palm up and only use one of yours and maintain a mean personal distance of three feet. But if you stick to that, it’s all right.”

Angelina took his hand again. “Go on with what you were saying,” she said, “about this Age of Restriction.”

“It began, I understand,” said the young man, “with the world war and after that it all came along with a rush. Everybody wanted Rules and Regulations for everybody else and everybody got what they wanted.”

“It’s all such a nuisance,” sighed Angelina. But—you were talking about your new license.”

“Yes. I got it made out and signed and counter-signed and visa’d, and it entitles me to the Privilege of Unlimited Courtship. It’s good till the 15th of next month.”

He spoke earnestly, turning towards her and moving to the very verge of the three-foot limit.

Angelina lowered her eyes.

“It entitles me among other things,” the young man went on ardently, “to propose marriage to you—provided, of course, that I comply with the Preliminary Regulations of Proposal of Marriage.”

The girl was still silent.

“I had first to notify the police that I meant to do it. That I have done. I have their consent.”

“I’m so glad,” murmured Angelina.

“Then I had to go before a Stipendiary Magistrate and make oath that I considered your mother fit to live with and that I would comply with the Family Sunday-Dinner Law. It all sounds complicated, but really, Angelina, it was quite simple. The Magistrate was awfully nice about it and passed me on to the Mental Board in less than half an hour.—They decided I did not have Infantile Paralysis, like so many poor chaps whom you see being wheeled out in perambulators every day. Ever so many young men are like that now.”

“I wonder why!” said Angelina reflectively. “They never were in the old days.”

“No,” said Edward, “but they were worse. They were Disobedient Adults. But listen, Angelina, I have the full right to speak to you now and I want to ask you whether (provided your personal certificates are all in order) you will marry me——”

Angelina had raised her eyes and was about to speak when a policeman stepped up to where they sat.

“Sorry, sir,” he said, “I’ll have to ask you and the lady to step across to the police station.” He took out his watch as he spoke.—“It is five minutes after twelve and you’ll have to answer to a charge of Unduly Restraining a Public Bench.”

Edward began to cry.

“Good Heavens!” Angelina exclaimed. “Do fetch a doctor. I’m afraid he’s got an attack of Infantile Paralysis. . . .”

“No, no,” sobbed Edward, “it’s not that. But it means that my proposal was made under illegal circumstances and it’s invalid and I’ll have to get a new license and try somebody else.”

“Fetch a perambulator,” said the girl. “He’s got it!”

Isn’t It Just Wonderful?

Isn’t it just wonderful the way the invention of Radio has connected up the farthest parts of the earth? I was noticing the other day the reports in the newspapers of the messages sent back and forth between some celebrated explorer—I forget his name—who is flying around in African jungles, and the mayor of Chicago. I think it was Chicago; at any rate, it was the mayor of some great city. And the messages seemed to go back and forth as easily as if the two men had been side by side. I felt lost in wonder to think of the marvelousness and importance of it.

First of all, the explorer sent out by radio: “Greetings from Africa. I am flying over a field.”

And the mayor answered back: “Greetings from Africa received. Please accept greetings from all here. I am sitting in my office at my desk.”

Then back came the return message: “Accept cordial congratulations from Africa on sitting in your office. All here glad to know that all there are sitting there. Are flying low.”

And in return to that came the instantaneous reply: “Cordial congratulations on flying low. All here glad to know that you are there. Accept best wishes for being there. . . .”

Hardly had this information been conveyed across the atmospheric wilderness when the explorer, it seems, was able to get into contact with the mayor of San Francisco and radioed to him:

“Accept greetings from African regions to San Francisco. We are moving at about 75 miles an hour, warm sunshine.”

Back flashed the message: “Greetings received. Please accept greetings from San Francisco and congratulations on warm sunshine. We had a touch of rain last night.”

But it seems that these messages, important though they were, were only a few samples of the tremendously vital world information being carried back and forth by radio.

That very night, it appears, the President of Mexico “got” the city council of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and sent out the vital words:

“Greetings from Mexico City. I am sitting in my chair.”

And the answer came back by the very next ether wave:

“City Council Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, acknowledges greetings President Mexico. We are eating breakfast. Most of us are taking kippered herring.”

Prominent citizens of both places agreed that the interchange of these messages would do a tremendous lot in fomenting good relations between Saskatoon and Central America. As a matter of fact, the first message had hardly got through when the city clerk of Saskatoon received a radio call from the President of Honduras, which said:

“Please send us a message, too. We have a machine of our own, nearly all paid for. Honduras sends cordial congratulations to Saskatoon on being in Saskatchewan.”

The new international courtesy that governs these things prompted an immediate reply:

“City of Saskatoon and Province of Saskatchewan acknowledge cordial congratulations Republic of Honduras. We are having a hard winter.”

The answer, “Congratulations on hard winter,” got through within the same day.

I am told that there is no doubt that the interchange of this last set of messages will do a tremendous lot for trade between Saskatchewan and Honduras. The president has already got through a message, “If you want any logwood, teak, or first-class cordwood, let us have your order.”

As a matter of fact, these messages of greeting that are reported every day or so prove on inquiry to be only a very small part of the messages of the kind that are sent back and forth from one great world-center to the other, conveying thoughts of absolutely vital importance for the welfare of the world.

Through the kindness of one of the operating companies, I am able to reproduce brief abstracts of one or two of these, thus:

“From Habibullah Khan, Acting Khan of the Khannery of Kabul, Afghanistan, to Secretary of Junior League Convention of North America, Toronto, Canada. Ameer Afghanistan and entire army congratulate Junior League on election of Miss Posie Rosebud as associate vice-president. All here join in cordial greeting to all girls in your league and any other. In placing orders for muslin or native bead work, don’t forget our salesmen. We have had a warm winter.”

To this message the League was able to send back a direct, unrelayed radiogram straight to the city of Kabul—City Hall office, top floor, Ameer’s private room, where it was decoded and disintegrated into Afghani in four minutes, twenty-two seconds.

“Junior League President, officials and members send greetings Habibullah Khan, or any Acting Khan, or Half Khan. Congratulations Afghanistan on Khan and Khan on Afghanistan. Convey congratulations army. Don’t forget Toronto for winter sports.”

I am not just sure whether the next message is a genuine one. It was tucked away among a heap of them, and in appearance it looked like the others. Whether it is genuine or not, at any rate it represents the wide desire of congratulating everybody on everything that is making the fortune of the radio apparatus.

“Sultan of Borneo congratulates William Jones of Alleghany County, Ohio, on reported prize at County Fair for cabbage two feet in diameter. All here send greetings entire population Ohio.”

Sometimes—so the operators inform me—rather pathetic cases are found of people who would wish to get into radio touch but have no correspondent. The operators receive messages such as: “Arab Sheik, Southern Sahara, with second-hand radio set formerly belonging to Pilgrim, would like get into touch small American Republic or Large American Corporation owning radio machine view to interchange congratulations. Large business territory; good opportunity ivory or gin.”

Or this message, which lay near the other in the basket:

“Sultan of Somaliland; plain congratulation in any European language; no extra charge for atmospheric reports.”

Looking over messages of this sort the other day, I couldn’t help reflecting on what a pity it is that the world didn’t have the radio messages in the days of the great explorations and discoveries. How much more vivid the pages of our history would have been! I suppose most readers are aware that there is a scientific legend to the effect that radio was invented and actually used centuries ago by the great Italian scientist and painter, Leonardo da Vinci. Later on, so it was claimed, he deliberately broke the machine and the secret of the process was lost and not again discovered till the present day.

If this story is so, it lends an air of truth and genuineness to a message that I found inscribed, along with its appropriate answer, on an ancient parchment. The documents, which were dated “October, 1492,” had at least all the appearance of age. The message read:

“Cordial greetings from Christopher Columbus to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. Have just discovered Japan.”

And the answer:

“King and Queen both here at breakfast in Escurial Palace, second piece of toast. Cordial greetings to everybody you discover. Your achievement greatest impetus onion trade.”

And yet, after all, perhaps Leonardo da Vinci knew what he was doing when he broke the machine.

The Last of the Rubber Necks

Around the World in a Sight-Seeing Air Bus in 1950

The Man at the Gangway. . . . All aboard, please, all aboard! Five Dollars for the Entire Trip! All aboard! Vacant seats still in the forward saloon, sir, yes, sir. Yes, ma’am, lunch is served on board. All in! All aboard! (Clang! Clang! The gates shut, the doors slide, the bell rings, the whistle blows. Whiz!! The air bus is off. . . .)

Voice of the Rubber Neck Announcer. . . . Now, then, ladies and gentlemen, we are about to cross the Atlantic Ocean. During the next half hour you will enjoy the unique sensation of being entirely out of sight of land. Looking now from either the side or rear windows of this saloon, and directing your gaze downwards, you will perceive the actual waters of the Atlantic, 3,000 feet below us. Looking closely, you will observe a ruffled or mottled appearance of the water. This is the waves. At the present time what used to be called a storm or gale is moving over the Atlantic. In the romantic days of our grandfathers the passage of the Atlantic demanded an entire week. . . .

Voice of the Attendant (interrupting as he passes through the car). . . . First Call for Lunch! Lunch served while passing over Europe. First Call for Lunch!

Announcer (continuing). . . . The celebrated Christopher Columbus, who was the first Italian to cross the Atlantic, is said to have taken more than a fortnight to make the transit. Looking below now, we can just catch a distant glimpse of the Azores Islands, lying like gems of gold in a sapphire sea.

Vociferous Boy (passing through the alley way of the air saloon). . . . Cigars! Cigarettes, candies, chewing gum!

Announcer. . . . We are now circling across the famous Bay of Biscay and rapidly approaching the coast of Cornwall, the Land’s End of England.

Saloon Waiter in White. . . . Second call for lunch! Lunch ready in the dining saloon! Second call for lunch.

The Announcer. . . . If you look now from the left windows of the saloon you will see the coast of Cornwall. We are now passing over the South of England; the seaport just left behind is Plymouth; two minutes away is Portsmouth.—London? No, lady, not for three minutes yet.

Vociferous Boy. . . . Cigars, cigarettes, candies, chewing gum!

Announcer. . . . Look below you, ladies and gentlemen, and you will now see the city of London. Our speed is now slackened down to five miles a minute and we descend to an elevation of one thousand feet, so as to afford all passengers a full view of Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and the other sights of London. . . . There you see St. Paul’s! Notice the roaring sound we make in going past it. That other noise on the right side is Westminster Abbey. That whizzing sound below us is the Bank of England——

Lady Passenger (to her Husband). . . . Well, I’m certainly glad to have seen Westminster Abbey. I don’t think anybody’s education is complete without seeing it. Didn’t you feel a kind of thrill when you heard it go by?

Polite Passenger Across the Aisle. . . . Is this your first trip around the world, ma’am?

The Lady. . . . Yes, it’s our first. I’ve just been dying to go for a long time, but of course my husband is always so busy that it’s hard for him to get the time. You see it takes a whole day.

Polite Passenger. . . . They say the new line of air boats are to do it in half a day. That will make a big difference. And yet I think I like this slower line better. After all, there’s nothing like taking things easy.

Announcer. . . . Coast of Germany! . . . Berlin! . . . Poland! Warsaw!

Vociferous Boy. . . . Cigars, cigarettes, candies, chewing gum!

Husband. . . . So that was Germany, eh? Much flatter than I thought. And Poland looks a good deal yellower than I had supposed. Nothing like foreign travel for clearing up your ideas. I don’t think you can understand foreign nations in any real sense without actually seeing them.

Saloon Attendant. . . . Last call for Lunch!

Announcer. . . . Here you see the wide plains of Russia, a vast expanse that it takes us twenty minutes to cross. The city that went past four seconds ago is Jefferson City, formerly called Leningrad and before that Petrograd and in early history, St. Petersburg.

Restless Child Among the Passengers. Mother, may I run up and down the aisle?

No, dear.

May I go and climb up the ladder to the top deck?

No, dear, you might fall off.

May I go and see where they cook?

No, dear.

Well, mother, what can I do?

The Courteous Traveler. . . . It gets a little monotonous for the children, doesn’t it, this part of the voyage?

The Lady. . . . Yes, indeed. Where are we?

The Courteous Gentleman. . . . Over Central Asia and of course just here there’s nothing to see—just the Ural Mountains, and Turkestan, and Samarkand, and the Desert of Gobi.

The Announcer. . . . In passing over the Desert of Gobi, to mitigate the tedium of the trip, we now turn on the radio and allow the passengers to listen to the latest world news coming over the waves.

The Radio (in its Deep Guttural Tones, Without Hurry). . . . New York, ten-thirty a.m. International Oil, 40; International Air, 62; International Fire, 81——

The Husband of the Lady. . . . Gee! International Fire up to 81!

The Radio (continuing). . . . St. Louis nothing, New York nothing: Boston one, Chicago nothing . . .

The Courteous Gentleman. . . . It’s pleasant, isn’t it, to keep in touch like this with the news of the world? It prevents the trip getting monotonous.

The Radio. . . . Bandits rob Chicago bank. . . . Bandits kidnap teller in Denver. . . . Bandits explode bomb in Detroit. . . . Bandits steal babies from Maternity Hospital . . . Bandits . . .

The Gentleman. . . . Yes, it’s nice to feel that the comfortable old world is still close all around us.

Announcer. . . . China! . . . Looking below you can see, if you look quickly, a Chinese rebellion. . . . The army of General Ping Pong will be seen in four seconds on the right. . . . The army of General Ham is attacking it. . . . By the courtesy of the company, our ship will drop bombs at the expense of the company on either General Ping or General Ham . . .

The Restless Child. . . . Oh, ma! Can I see the bombs dropped?

Yes, darling, look close and you’ll see.

The Gentleman with the Lady. How do they arrange about the bombing?

The Courteous Traveler. Oh, it’s done by the International Friendship Committee, but, of course, the company has to bear the expense. . . . Ah! I think that one hit General Ping Pong’s munitions dump!

Vociferous Boy. . . . Cigars! Cigarettes, candies, chewing gum!

Announcer. China. . . . City of Pekin. . . . The Yellow Sea. . . . Japan. . . . Tokio. . . .

The Radio. . . . Philadelphia nothing, Cleveland nothing!

The Saloon Attendant. . . . Tea served in the forward compartment—afternoon tea.

Announcer. . . . The Pacific Ocean! . . . Kamskatska! . . . The Aleutian Isles. . . . Alaska. . . . You are now again in sight of the United States!

All the Passengers. Hooray! Hooray!

The Gentleman with the Lady. . . . Feels good, don’t it, to get back again in sight of the old flag!

The Announcer. . . . The Rocky Mountains. . . . British Columbia. . . . Western Canada.

All the British Passengers. . . . Hooray! Hooray!

Vociferous Boy. . . . Cigars, cigarettes!

Radio. . . . Boston nothing.

Attendant. . . . Last Call!

Radio. . . . Oil eighty. . . . St. Louis nothing. . . . Bandits . . . murder.

Announcer. . . . Reëntering the United States. . . . All hand bags ready, please. . . . Kindly get ready for customs officers, immigration officers, prohibition officers, revenue officers. All persons who haven’t paid income tax will be thrown out. . . . Persons not on the quota kindly jump off into the air. Gangway, please. All out!

All the Passengers (in a babel of talk). . . . Well, good-by! Good-by! It’s been a great trip. . . . It certainly has. . . . And remember, if ever you come to Cincinnati. . . . I certainly will, and if you ever come to Toronto. . . . Well, good-by! Good-by!

Athletics for 1950

Everybody has noticed the great change that has come over athletics within the last generation. To be in athletics, it is no longer necessary to play the game. You merely look at it. For the matter of that, you don’t really need to be there: you can hear athletics over the radio. In fact, nowadays, or at any rate to-morrow, you can see it all, with the television teleptoscope. Or, if you like, you can wait and see the whole contest in the high-class movies for sixty cents; or you can wait till next year and see it in the low-class movies for a nickel.

An athlete in the days of John L. Sullivan meant a powerful-looking brute of a man with a chest like a drum and muscles all over him. An athlete now means a pigeon-chested moron with radio plugs in his ears.

In old-fashioned football, thirty people used to play in the game and about thirty-three looked on. Nowadays, two elevens play the game and thirty thousand watch it. Even twenty-two is far too big a percentage of players. They block the vision of the athletes. Hockey is better. There half a dozen play on each side and thirty thousand look on. Prize fighting is a higher form still. Two play and two hundred thousand “athletes” participate.

And there’s more than that. Athletic teams don’t need to be connected with the places they come from—women seem to invade all sports equally—mechanical devices replace human skill——

Or stop! There is no need for me to write it all out in that way. That’s as prosy as a college essay.

Let me present the subject in the form of a few selections to show what will be the nature and fashion of the Athletic Page of any popular newspaper about a generation hence.

harvard-oxford conflict

(Extract from the Sporting Press of 1950)

Definite arrangements have just been concluded for the Harvard-Oxford football game of this autumn. The contest is now scheduled to take place in the oasis of Swot in south center of the desert of Sahara. The clarity of the desert sunlight, it is expected, will immensely favor the dissemination of the game by the Television-Teleptoscope, while the clear, still air will enable every faintest sound of the great battle to be carried all over the globe.

Front seats for the game in London, New York, Paris, Monte Carlo, Palm Beach, and other great athletic centers are already selling at prices ranging from ten to a hundred dollars.

Meantime the actual scene of the game itself will not be without a certain interest. It is calculated that the players, spare men, umpires, radio broadcasters, and television experts will probably number over a hundred people, a record attendance at any actual ground. No less than five airplanes will be needed to carry the players and the apparatus.

The athletic line-up is not yet complete, but it is officially announced that the center forward for Harvard will be, as last year, Youssouf-Ben-Ali of Ethiopia, with Yin Foo of Foochow and Billy Gillespie of Toronto on the wings. For Oxford the brilliant young Scottish captain from Dundee, Einstein Gorfinkel, will have as his front line stalwart Rum Rum Gee of Allahabad, Hassan Bay of Mecca, and Al Plunket of Orillia, Ontario.

A special feature of interest this year is found in the fact that one of the Harvard players was actually in attendance two years ago at Harvard University where he was janitor of a dormitory. At the same time two of the Oxford team, the brothers Hefty, are bona fide Oxford men, having been butchers in the town for many years past.

The sharp rise in the shares of the Sahara Syndicate consequent upon the definite announcement of this the greatest feature of manly sport, has led to a revival of the rumor that a German syndicate is making an offer for Oxford and Harvard.

derby day in 1950

An Exciting Finish

(Special Correspondence from Epsom Downs)

The advantage enjoyed by the present clock-work Derby over the now almost forgotten horse-race, in which living horses were used, was never better illustrated than in the exciting finish of the contest to-day.

Our older readers will perhaps recall the Derby as it was a generation ago and the way in which the introduction of machinery has gradually improved it up to its present standard. It appears that the first step was taken in introducing the Pari-Mutuel machine, which mechanically made betting odds.

The introduction of the stuffed bookmaker with clock work under his red waistcoat marked a further advance. The invention of the mechanical judge with high-power, 100 lens eyes, similar to those of the fly, and a running spool of registering tape in place of a brain brought for the first time a decision of absolute certainty.

The clock-work horse, operating on a moving platform geared at 200 miles an hour, enabled the whole race to be focussed into a small space, without straggling it out over miles of open country, as in our grandfathers’ time. The jockey, still remembered in old prints as a monkey-like figure in a little half jacket, naturally gave place to a power-house operator working with radio.

The cardboard stadium was filled (for photographic purposes) with some 10,000 (mechanical) spectators and gave an admirable setting to the event, recalling the days when thousands of people literally attended the Derby in person.

The great interest of this race lay in its exciting finish. When the photographic plates of the races were developed, it was found that Clicko, the English horse, had beaten the front leg of the American machine by the one hundredth part of a second. The announcement of this over the radio created an intense silence. Seismographic records show that ten million people held their breath at once. When they let it go it started a tidal wave that was felt as far as Japan.

passing of a great athlete

We chronicle with regret the death of Mr. Eddie Feinfinkel, the famous Scottish hammer-thrower. Mr. Feinfinkel died at his residence last evening after an illness—a general debility—extending over about forty years. It is said that he had put more money into hammer-throwing than any man of his generation.

In the earlier part of his career the late Mr. Feinfinkel obtained a world-wide celebrity as a toreador by organizing the Pan-American Bull-Raising Corporation of Montana. It was his intensive work at his desk in raising bulls that first undermined the great sportsman’s health.

Mr. Feinfinkel afterwards threw himself with enthusiasm into aerial work as a director of the Pan-American Transit Company, in which capacity he sent no less than one hundred experts across the Atlantic, with a loss of less than ten.

It was while recuperating in Scotland that the great athlo-magnate first conceived the idea of hammer-throwing, and engaged a corps d’élite of sixty Scotch gillies to throw hammers for him. Mr. Feinfinkel, whose interest and energy were tireless, often kept up the hammer-throwing for eight or nine hours at a stretch.

The loss of Mr. Feinfinkel will be greatly felt also in mechanical crap-shooting, automatic dice-throwing, and in all forms of nickel-in-the-slot athletics, of which the late magnate was a generous supporter. His funeral (mechanical) will be broadcast next Friday.

world’s baseball series

The world’s baseball series was held last night at the office of the Anglo-American-Pan-Geographic-Tele-Radio Company, New York. It has not yet been decided which club will be declared the winner, as the money is not all in yet.

minor items of current sport

Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race.—Advices from London bring the news that Oxford stands as the first favorite for the approaching annual boat race, the betting being at three to one. The Oxford women, it appears, are heavier than the Cambridge crew, some of whom are scarcely more than girls. Great interest, however, is still shown along the towing path, a number of the university professors turning out each day as spectators, wearing for the most part the new French chemisettes with ruffled insertions, so popular this season.

Among others, our correspondent noted Professor Smith, the biologist, in a dainty Cambridge blue creation under a picture hat, and the Vice Chancellor in a pretty frock of carnation, shot, or half shot, with something deeper underneath. The professor’s skirts are reported as slightly longer than last week.

revival of walking

The efforts of Old Time Sports Society are apparently being crowned with success, at least in one direction. Walking as a form of athletic sport is becoming extremely popular. Joseph Longfoot, the great East Anglian amateur, established the endurance record yesterday in a contest in which he walked four and a half miles without stopping. He was brought back in his helicopter not much the worse for his titanic effort.

Advertisement. Great Spring sale of sporting goods:—lorgnettes, field glasses, cushions, hot-water bottles, flasks, drinking cups, cigar cases, vanity boxes, men’s powder puffs.—Everything for the sportsman.

The Criminal Face

Lately there has been much concern with what is called “The Criminal Face.” It appears that there is a certain type and shape of head and features that always goes with the commission of crime. If you have it, there is no escape. You might as well go right away and ask to board in the penitentiary.

Experts can explain to you this criminal face, feature by feature and line by line. But the real trouble with the expert is that he always knows beforehand that the face he is analyzing is that of a man who has committed a crime. That colors his conclusions. What if we were to put before him, as a criminal, the face of a philanthropist? What then?

Thus we take the picture of a certain face and we know that it is in reality the face of a kindly old professor. Indeed, we have recently, let us say, seen it described on the occasion of a presentation of his portrait to the city in the following terms:

portrait of a sage

“The face of this distinguished scholar is known and loved by thousands who have listened to his inspired and inspiring words. It is a broad face, a kindly face, the face of a man with a wide heart, whose broad lineaments seem to indicate a corresponding breadth of sympathy. But there is a firmness, too, in the wide mouth, and character in the large but firmly chiseled nostril. The brow slopes nobly from the projecting frontal bones, the head is wide, of a width that tells of the capacious brain within. The ear is large, noble, and mobile, and the scant and snow-white hair remains as the mark of honor of a life spent in the service of mankind.”

But put the same portrait before the graphofacial expert, or facial graphologist, and tell him that it is a picture of a criminal recently sent to jail for life plus ten years, and ask him where he can see the tendency to crime, and this is the analysis you will receive of the countenance of the venerable scholar:

dangerous criminal

“The photograph is that of a male about sixty years of age, with marked criminal tendencies. Note the flat face, indicating complete absence of thinking power. There is something almost simian or ape-like in the width of the mouth, while the low, sloped forehead is but little higher in development than that of the most degraded savages. Such brain as this man could have would be sunk so low towards his neck as to be of little use to him. The premature loss of practically the entire capillary growth of the scalp, with the utter loss of pigment in the remaining part, indicates a life evil and irregular to the last degree.”

Or suppose, in the same way, that a facial graphologist looked at a picture of a great war hero, he would say:

“What a stern, soldierly face, the face of a man accustomed to command, keen, penetrating, and able at the same time to be ruthless, but always to be just.”

But show him the same picture and tell him that it was taken from the criminal records of the New York police, and he may say:

“We see here the true type of the hardened criminal—the small brain, the wide-set eye, and the dull look that indicates moral irresponsibility, etc., etc.”

But the trouble is that the world is coming to attach more and more importance, too much importance, to experts. When the facial graphologist gets a little further, we shall find our courts of law following in his wake. The face itself will become a crime and our police court morning records will contain little items after this fashion:

a menace to society

“Albert Jones, who later on gave in his name as coming from Chicago, undertook to take his face down town yesterday afternoon with the apparent intention of parading it on Main Street. Police Constable Simmons noticed Jones’s face moving through the air and at once arrested him.

“On being taken to headquarters and submitted to expert examination, it was found that his face was criminal in a high degree. The stunted lobes of his ears, for which he received six months in jail, are only one among varied evidences of guilt. He was given from twelve to fifteen months for various parts of his brain that were absent.

“The lack of eyelashes drew a caustic condemnation from the court, which warned Jones that a face like his is more than society is prepared to tolerate.”

Or things may go even a little further than this, and we may find the “facial criminal” filling a still larger field, thus:

criminal outbreak

“Telegraphic advices inform us that the city of Minneapolis and the surrounding suburbs are in the throes of a crime wave of unprecedented magnitude. The situation was precipitated by the arrival of a large excursion party of holiday visitors from the Doukhobor Settlement in Manitoba. It was noticed as soon as their faces emerged from the excursion train that they represented a mass of criminal possibility of dangerous volume. It was computed that not one in ten had had a hair cut once in ten months.

“The brachiocephalic index of nearly every one of them was of a kind to alarm the police force, while the facial angle of those who had the hardihood to show it justified immediate arrest. The entire excursion party were put on summary trial under the new Criminal Faces Statute and were ordered deported into Canada.

“Immediate difficulty arose, however, when the Canadian official refused all permit for reëntry into the Dominion, on the ground that men with faces like theirs are debarred from entry into a British country. The Canadian claim is that the men’s faces were all right when they left Manitoba, but took on their present criminal character when they got out at Minneapolis. For the time being, the entire party will be placed in a detention home.”

Ah, yes, and that last word “home” suggests to me another development that is bound to come when the criminality of the face is fully recognized. People will see that the proper thing to do for the criminal face is not to punish it, but to try to reform it. The idea will be replaced by the idea of redemption. A criminal face will be put into a home, where it will be surrounded with kindly and pleasant influences, where it may hear over the radio moral talks and sermons such as will cause the lobes of its ears to lengthen and will gradually lift up the lid of its brain to a normal height.

The situation will be marked by the appearance of such items as the following:

successful redemption

“John Henry Thomas, aged 70, was released to-day from the Central Criminal Face Reformatory, having been placed on parole by the authorities. The old man had spent the greater part of his life in the Reformatory, having been arrested at the age of twenty on a variety of charges, involving not only the lobes of his ears and the cubic capacity of his cerebellum, but the structure of his spinal ridge itself. His tendency towards homicide was too marked to permit him to remain at large.

“The old gentleman, in stepping out again into the sunlight after his long incarceration, expressed his appreciation of all that had been done for him. Not only had the lobes of his ears gradually assumed a harmless and even benevolent shape, but his cerebellum, formerly too small, was now larger than he could use and practically empty. All tendency to crime was declared vanished. The old gentleman did, indeed, in leaving, attempt to bite the warden’s ear, but this was not attributed to any remaining criminal tendency. It was rather thought to be an evidence of a new playfulness engendered by his long opportunity for improvement.

“It is understood that Thomas intends to devote the remainder of his days to work as a facial graphologist.”

In other words, my dear readers, my advice is—never mind your face. What if you do look like a criminal of the most dangerous type? You may not be really fitted for it at all.

Astronomical Alarms

The Rapid Approach of Our Final End

Professor Smithson of the Smithsonian Institution in a statement handed out to the press has declared that it is now only too evident that the rotation of the globe is distinctly slowing up.

This terrible news was almost immediately corroborated over the cable by the Astronomer Royal at Greenwich and by the Director of the Cavendish Physical Laboratory at Cambridge. Further confirmation followed from the Lick Observatory, from the Cape of Good Hope, and from the Chinese Watch Tower at Peking. It appeared that even the Bolshevik observer at Nijni-Novgorod, although only paid by the piece, had noticed the same thing.

Personally, I shall not easily forget the sudden sense of alarm with which the news filled me. Without being a scientist, I know, as does everybody else, that the globe turns on its axis once in every twenty-four hours. I have even gone so far occasionally as to speak of this as the diurnal motion of the earth. Without this diurnal motion there would be no alternation of day and night. If the world stops turning, then, at any given place, it will be either daytime all the time or always night. Either ourselves or the Hindoos will have to stay in the dark. Personally, I would rather wish it on the Hindoos if it has to be. There are more of them for company.

But this, of course, is not the whole extent of the disaster calmly threatened by the astronomers. If the earth stops turning, there will be no seasons, no tides, no winds, no weather. The pulse of life itself will slacken and stop. The human race—including me as well as the Hindoos—will be overwhelmed in extinction.

Like many other people, when I read that news at breakfast time, I wondered if it was worth while to start off to my day’s work. Why not sit quietly at home, and brace one’s feet against the study table and wait for the shock? If the world had to stop, it would surely be unwise to work all morning and find that the stoppage came in the noon hour.

It was only after reflection that I decided to read the news dispatches a little more carefully so as to get an idea of how long it would be before the end came. The general phrases used—a “distinct slackening,” a “definite loss of momentum,” etc., etc.—sounded pretty ominous. There was no doubt that the astronomers were all agreed about the main fact of the case, namely, that “within a measurable time” the globe will cease to turn. But the next question was to see how long they gave us to exist.

I found on closer examination that the rate of slackening is estimated by comparing the successive sidereal days as measured by a parallax. This is a scheme of which I never should have thought myself, but which looks good. The results obtained from it show that the earth’s motion is slackening by the millionth part of a second every day.

When I read that I felt cheered up. After all, there was quite a little time yet. If it takes us a million days to lose a second, that makes—let me see—a loss of one second in about 3,000 years. I guess we can stand that. After all, what’s a second! It seems that old Tut-ankh-Amen and his court went spinning round a millionth part of a second quicker than I do. All right. Let them buzz! I can jog along after them.

And at that rate the final end of the globe, when the Hindoos freeze in the dark and I frizzle in the sun, is still quite a long way off. If it takes 3,000 years to lose one second of our 24-hour spin, it will take 180,000 years to lose a minute of it, and 10,800,000 years to lose an hour of it, and we won’t lose it all till twenty-four times as long as that; in other words, the end will be due in Anno Domini 259,201,929.

Come, let us cheer up and face our fate like men. We have a quarter of a billion years in which to get all set for what is coming.

And even at that, I notice in looking over the figures above that I have made a slight mistake: what they said was not the millionth part of a second, but the billionth. That lengthens out our time here quite considerably.

Indeed, on the whole, I am inclined to agree with the reassuring statement that one of the astronomers appended to his report, that there was no immediate occasion for alarm. No, I think not.

Scarcely had I recovered from the alarm suggested by the reports of the world coming to a stop, when I noticed a new astronomical alarm sent out from Greenwich and reluctantly corroborated by Washington.

It seems that the continents are sliding apart and that we are drifting out into the ocean. England appears to be drifting westward towards the magnetic pole, and the upper part of the American Continent is moving nearer to Asia.

The consequences of this are certainly alarming at first sight. If Great Britain disappears—Ireland first—into the northern ice, and San Francisco lands up against Yokohama like a chip floating in a horse-trough, where are we? Of what use all our years of effort?

But here the reassurance again follows, partial though it is and somewhat short of what one would wish. The rate of motion is calculated to be such that we are six inches further away across the Atlantic than we were a hundred years ago. Ship ahoy! We can still call to them. Anybody who cares to divide six thousand miles by six inches can tell to a nicety just when the Asiatics will come scrambling over the bulwarks.

In short, I should like to be allowed to pass a word of advice to the astronomers and geologists. Don’t announce these things ahead in this alarming way. Wait till they happen and then feature them up large when they’re worth while.

I understand that there are lots of other geological and astronomical disasters coming. It seems that the coast line of both New England and England itself is falling into the sea. A whole barrow load of dirt that was left near Shoreham by William the Conqueror has fallen in. Old Winchelsea and St. Michaels have rolled under the water. Passamaquoddy Bay is engulfing New Brunswick. Never mind. Let us eat, drink, and be merry. We don’t need to board on Passamaquoddy Bay.

The sun, it seems, is burning out. A few more billion years and its last flicker will fade. Many of the stars are dead already and others dying. The moon is gone—a waste of dead rocks in a glare of reflected light. Even empty space is shrinking and puckering into curves like a withering orange.

Courage! Forget it! Let us go right on like a band of brothers while it lasts.


Memoirs of an Iceman

Another Splendid Volume Added to the Growing List of Memoirs

Note: The reading public of to-day adores memoirs. The publishers report that volumes of memoirs still continue to be among the best sellers. Readers apparently will take an intense interest in anything, provided it is put before them as something that somebody remembers. I understand that among the forthcoming volumes are to be “The Memoirs of a Boy Scout,” “Memoirs of a Girl Guide,” “Memoirs of a Bootlegger,” and many other fascinating volumes.

In anticipation of these, I venture to present here in brief outline some very striking selections from a work that will probably break all records as soon as published in full, “The Memoirs of an Iceman.”

My people came from Iceland. At least I have always heard my father say that his grandfather York Larfitorf had come from Iceland. His great uncle was one of the Henry Fjords of Norway. I understand that my grandfather settled first in Labrador, but, finding it too warm there, he moved to New England and thence to New York.

My father, however, was by nature a cold man and seldom spoke of his past.

My earliest recollections as a child go back to the Spanish-American War, which I suppose few people now alive can recall. It was fought between the United States and Spain. My father, who had a keen grasp of international politics though only a workingman, told us that he thought that the United States would win. I can distinctly recall the outbreak of the war and how my father came home after his work and laid his ice on the table and said there was going to be a war. My mother took the ice and put it away for breakfast, but said nothing.

My memory, which is still excellent, although I am nearly thirty-five, brings back to me distinctly the New York of those early days. My readers will realize that it was before the days of the motor cars, and that before the days of the motor cars there were no motors.

I distinctly recall that when I got my first regular job in an ice-house I had to walk from Brooklyn to Yonkers every day to my work. But we thought nothing of it in those days.

Life was very much simpler and quieter in those days, as there were only four million people in New York then, while such places as Jersey City and Newark were mere suburbs with less than half a million people in them. The highest buildings in the little metropolis of those days were only thirty stories high, though we already called them “skyscrapers.”

Looking back now on this, I am compelled to smile at it, which I suppose few people could do. I remember how, when the first thirty-story building was built, my father—who though a workingman was a man of great natural shrewdness—said he’d hate to fall off the top of it.

Work began with me early in life and has been more or less continuous, which is a matter I do not regret, as I consider that it is largely owing to an active life of work that at thirty-five I still have all or nearly all my faculties and my mind is at least as bright as it ever was.

My father’s influence secured me a position shoveling sawdust in an ice house, where my own industry gradually raised me to the top. As it is possible that some of my readers do not understand the technique of an ice-house, I may explain that our work in shoveling sawdust was of a highly specialized character demanding not only bodily strength, but skill, courage, and morality.

In the winter when the ice was put in, it was our duty to shovel the sawdust on top of each layer of ice, so that for every layer of ice there was above it a layer of sawdust.

Perhaps I can make my meaning clearer if I explain that the ice and the sawdust were laid in alternate layers; a good way to understand what I mean is to grasp the idea that the ice was covered with the sawdust and that the sawdust was over the ice. I am afraid that I cannot state it more simply than that, and the reader must either get it or miss it.

This was our work in the winter. In summer our task was reversed so that we shoveled the sawdust off and shoveled the ice out again, which lent a very pleasing variety to our work and prevented it from being monotonous. We thus rose and fell each winter and summer.

I recall very clearly the memory of some of my friends and fellow workers, such as John Smith, William Jones, Jim Thompson, and Joe Miller. I mention their names here not because the reader would know them, but because they are just as good as any other names and they help to fill up the memoirs.

I can very distinctly remember the presidential election of 1908. Excitement ran high, as it was felt that one or the other of the candidates was practically certain to win. My father took no part in it. He always claimed that a man delivering ice ought to keep away from the heat of political partisanship. He himself said that he would just as soon hand the ice to a Democrat as to a Republican.

With only a slight effort of memory I can bring back the recollection of the beginning of the great war. At the time I was only twenty years old, but even at that age my mind was nearly as developed as it is now, and I understood that if war began there would certainly be fighting.

My father, who followed closely all that was in the papers, was greatly excited over the war and was convinced that Belgium could easily beat France, though it turned out that he was mistaken. He himself was able to keep in touch with the war situation, as he was engaged in loading ice on the meat-ships that left almost daily for Europe. Added to this, his own European descent gave him a sort of inherited insight into European politics and he felt sure that in the end Norway and Sweden would come out ahead.

All this seems many years ago, and those days have drifted so far into the past that few can remember them. The war came to an end at last and was succeeded by Prohibition, and Aerial Navigation and other things. On these I must not touch, as I am now getting within living memory. Indeed, it was shortly after the war that my failing strength at the shovel necessitated my retirement from active shoveling.

The partial collapse of my mind, which happened at the same time, led me to undertake, on the advice of my medical attendant, the writing of these memoirs. It was his opinion that my mental powers had reached a state of decline, which would guarantee their success. My publishers assure me that this prediction has been amply justified.

The Memoirs of a Night Watchman

Note: The publication of the “Memoirs of an Iceman,” printed above, proved to be a mere fanning of the flame of public demand. It was found necessary to follow it up immediately with the “Memoirs of a Night Watchman,” as here related.

I have the honor to belong to a very old family connected for generations with the night. I have heard my father, who was a furnace man, say that his ancestors were highwaymen, and he would speak of the blessing that coal heating had brought to the world in opening up night occupations for men of adventurous character.

While I was still but a little boy, my father would take me with him on his rounds. I would sit and watch him stoke up the furnace in the homes of the rich, and after he had brought it to a glow, Father would fetch some eggs from the ice-box upstairs and fry them in the furnace; while we ate them, Father would talk to me about the night and why it was superior to the day.

As our clientele was a rich one, I became accustomed early in life to move in luxurious basements with cement floors and spacious coal rooms, which has given me ever since an ease of bearing and a quiet step that no doubt helped the success of my career. We fed well everywhere, for my father believed in a generous and varied diet; on the other hand, he drank but little—a pint or so of champagne, perhaps, or if the night were cold, possibly a touch of old French brandy. For me he would open, perhaps, a pint of claret, but we drank it always in the cellar.

My father was very old-fashioned and strict in his ideas, and made no use of the drawing-room nor even of the dining-room, except, perhaps, on some special occasion. In one or two houses, where the billiard room was in the basement, Father and I would knock up a hundred points after his work was over. But in all such matters he was strict; only in very, very cold weather, for example, have I seen him make use of a sealskin coat for his work at the furnace.

As a rule, we had the night to ourselves; there was no one moving in the houses. And after the furnace was well stoked up and burning nicely, Father would sit on a trestle in the cellar and talk to me of the principles of ventilation and of the question of clinkers and back-drafts, so that I learned a great deal in being with him.

We usually arrived home a little before daybreak, bringing home breakfast for my mother and my younger brother. Father would generally bring home a satchel of coal with him, and would give some also to any of our neighbors who lived in the same basement as we did; for, after all, as my father said, the coal cost only the trouble of carrying it. We generally got to bed right after breakfast, as we kept early hours.

On Sunday, Father and I went to church, or rather to several churches, where Father tended fires in the basements, from which we could hear the organ. My father had no religious prejudices, and told me that he would just as soon fire one church as another. But he was rather bitter, for so mild a man, against Quakers and others that refuse to have heat in their places of worship. My father regarded them as misguided.

Meantime, I attended night school regularly, as Father laid great stress on education. He would have wished me to go from night school to a night college, and if possible to take a degree. Father said he had known several college graduates in furnace work, and considered them fully equal to first-class men. He always spoke of Oxford with great respect, and recalled that when he was a young man in marine boiler work on night shift, they looked on Oxford men as better suited for that than anything else.

But I was young enough and ardent enough to view education with impatience. I wanted to get forward in life, and dreamed already of being a night orderly in a hospital or a night guard in a penitentiary. Father had some influential friends in the penitentiary, and he said that when they came out he would see what they could do. But the chance never came my way. We also talked of banking, and Father said that if you could once get a footing in a bank at night, there was no telling what it might lead to. He had a friend who was very high up in one of the banks; in fact he worked on the principal vault itself, but nothing came of that idea either. Sometimes, too, we talked of the sea, and of course Father, as I said, had been a sailor himself (in the stokehold), and my imagination was fired as that of any boy is with the romance of the sea. I loved to picture myself in the stokehold of some great ship, sifting ashes and raking out clinkers.

Among such day dreams, or rather night dreams, I grew gradually toward manhood. Meantime, I had tried out a few desultory occupations, but found none to my liking. For a while I held a post as night porter in a family hotel, my hours being from 1 a.m. to 7. But it was too disturbed. I found that I had hardly settled down to my morning newspaper, next morning’s, for an hour or so, when there might be a ring of a bell, or a casual arrival that necessitated my presence.

The surroundings were not congenial, for though the lounge room was fairly comfortable, the library was poorly selected and unsatisfactory. I worked also as night clerk in a fire station, which I found congenial and quiet, but in the second month of my work there was an outbreak of a fire in a neighboring part of the city and I left. Chance fate, however, decided where deliberate intention failed.

I returned home one day to find that my father had given up his job to accept a more or less permanent position in the county penitentiary. His removal there was not wholly of his own choice, but his duties were entirely congenial, as he found himself in charge of five night furnaces where his companions were men of education and culture, several of them college graduates. Indeed, his circumstances were such that at the expiration of his original contract, which I believe had been for three years—a matter of insistence on the part of the authorities—Father was invited to stay on as a salaried member of the staff. The change involved very little disadvantage, except that he lost his uniform and had to supply his own clothes.

Meantime, as a compensation for Father’s removal from his family—a matter on which his contract insisted—influential friends obtained for me the post of night watchman in a large downtown office building.

This position I have now held for fifty years, during which time I have every reason to believe that my career in and through the building has been a complete success. My hours are from midnight, when the last of the day staff leave, until 6 a.m., when the first of them come back. During this time it is my duty to visit all the doors of the offices and try the locks of the rooms, though, thus far, I have never been able to get into them. It is also necessary to punch a time clock on each floor of the building every half-hour. It is a crowded life, and in a way I shall not be sorry when some day the time for retirement comes.

I have found by experience that it is scarcely possible to do any serious reading, as it is interrupted every hour by duties. After the first twenty years I read less and less, and after the first thirty years I got into the way of contenting myself with reading the telephone book and the calendar. The necessity of keeping posted all the time as to which day of the month it is prevents intellectual stagnation.

Nor is it, as my reader might imagine, a life without incident. Every ten years or so something happens. I recall distinctly how, about twenty years ago, the burglar alarm rang, but I heard it in ample time to leave the building. On another occasion there was a great fire a few blocks away, which prevented all thought of sleep.

But yet I have begun to find that in the long run the position has a certain monotony, a kind of dullness about it. This feeling did not dawn on me at first, and often I forget it for five years, but it comes back. I ask myself, is this after all quite the work and quite the life for an active man? I asked myself this six years ago, and very soon I intend to ask it of myself again.

I am well aware that at my age, seventy, the time has hardly come to think of retiring. There is a man engaged in the next building on the street (I was talking to him only two years ago) who is nearly ten years older than I am. But without retiring from work altogether, I often think I may give up my present job and strike out into something more strenuous.

But no doubt many people think that.

Confessions of a Super-Extra-Criminal

Note: No apology is needed for the publication of the manuscript here presented as the Confessions of a Super-Extra-Criminal. The eager and unsatiated demand of the public for revelations of the underworld is a guarantee of the absorbing interest with which the story will be received. Needless to say, the name assigned to the writer is a purely fictitious one. His real name we are not at liberty to mention, inasmuch as the mere whisper of his whereabouts will lead to his immediate execution in four different countries. If the government of Mexico, either government, could get hold of him, he would be garroted at once, while his condemnation to the guillotine in France only awaits his own consent. More than that, there are a number of his fellow criminals of the past who would knife him at sight, and others who wouldn’t even wait to see him. Our readers will understand this when they read what he writes. We may add that we have done nothing to edit or improve the style of this confession. We couldn’t. It is written in that straight-out, right-here-and-now, let-me-say-at-once form of composition that carries conviction with it—either present or past.

I want to say right here and now at the very start that there was no reason why I should have grown up to be a garage man. It was entirely my own fault. I had a good home and every opportunity to keep straight, and I had, too, gentlemen, the best of mothers.

“Ed,” Mother would often say to me, “keep straight,” and if I had listened to her, gentlemen, I wouldn’t have been through all that I went through, gentlemen.

But perhaps there was something wild in my blood that disinclined me to ordinary steady industry. My father had a regular job with a municipal garbage wagon where they trusted him with everything, and he would have taken me into it with him so that I would have grown up in that. However, nothing would do me but loafing around with a loose crowd of boys and talking about this man or that who’d made a clean-up as a plumber or garage man or a dry cleaning explosives expert, and never got caught.

We used to see them around the pool rooms nights. There was Dick Dynamite, or Dynamite Dick, as we used to call him, who was a nitro-glycerine man and worked in dry-cleaning shops blowing the buttons off vests; and there was Blow Torch Peter, who was one of the most daring men in the plumbing game, and Short Circuit Charlie, who had tied up the electricity in a downtown office for four hours single-handed with nothing but a pair of pliers and a screwdriver; and there was Water-Power William, a big hulking-looking fellow with a face as innocent as they make them, who had frozen up the water taps in one of the big hotels. All these men went about openly dressed in mechanics’ clothes, but it was mighty hard to prove anything against them. Every one knew, for instance, that Blow Torch Peter was a plumber, but they couldn’t prove it on him. It was known, too, that Dynamite Dick worked in dry cleaning, especially as he was reckless in his work and each explosion was bigger than the last, so that sometimes he’d blow off a thousand buttons in one day, but they could prove nothing.

And, of course, if any of these men got pinched, they always had enough money to hire one of the judges of the supreme court to defend them and got off pretty light.

But most of all we were attracted by the garage men because they seemed both the most expert and the most reckless. I have known Gasoline Jim to wreck a car in five minutes by merely crawling underneath it. The owner had brought it into the garage (I was loafing around there and saw it all) and he said, “Will you take a look at this car? It seems to be knocking or something.” Jim crawled under it and stayed there for about two minutes, chewing tobacco. Then he came out. “You’ll have to leave it here for two years,” he said. “Great Cæsar!” says the man, “is it as bad as that? Surely not. Take another look.” Jim went under the car again, but this time he took a sandwich with him and a flask. He didn’t come out for at least ten minutes. When he did, he said, “Three years, and you’ll have to make a deposit of a thousand dollars.” Of course the man paid the money, but the next day Jim told him that he doubted if the car was much good; he said he found that the whole of the inside asphyxiation was pretty badly fuselated and that he’d have to send the car to Florida anyway to get it washed. I don’t think the man ever came back.

Well, I used to hang around and pick up ideas and watch the men work. So one day when a lot of cars were coming in Jim called out to me, “Here, Ed, see what’s the matter with this gentleman’s car.” Well, I knew Jim meant to give me a chance to see what I could do. So I rolled the car away back into a dark corner of the garage. Well, I felt pretty nervous about it, as I was mighty anxious to make good. So I got busy with a pair of pliers and an iron bar and in a few minutes I managed to get a hole knocked through the radiator and removed most of the ignition.

“How do you find it?” says Jim when I came back to the front of the shop where he stood with the owner. “I think, sir,” I said, “that most of the interior litigation is pretty well rotted out.” “What can you do with it?” asked the owner. “All I can suggest,” says Jim, “is to leave it with us and we’ll put a new engine into the body and then when we get it adjusted, put a new body around the new engine. But we’ll want two hundred dollars as a deposit and we don’t promise anything, and of course there’ll be storage to pay.”

The owner paid us the two hundred and Jim gave me my thirty per cent on it.

Well, of course, I felt pretty good about it, and that night I treated all the boys around town and began to feel myself mighty big stuff. Jim handed me over a car every day, sometimes two or three of them, and I was cleaning up money fast.

But I want to say right now and here that that kind of thing can’t last.

I wouldn’t want to think that anything in these confessions might attract anybody to the kind of life I’d fallen into. Often I’d think of how mother used to say, “Ed, keep straight.” And then some one would come into the garage with, say, a brand-new car and ask, “What’s wrong with the starter of this car?” and I couldn’t resist the temptation. I’d look at the car and say, “There’s nothing wrong with the starter, sir, the trouble is that the lining of the esophagus has got burned out. Give me a hundred dollars.”

Of course, the thing had to come to an end. There’s only one end to that sort of thing. All the time I had a feeling that I’d get pinched, and I wasn’t a bit surprised when one day a detective that I knew stopped me on the street. “Ed,” he said, “I guess you’ll have to come along with me.” Well, I knew there was no good to resist, and so he took me along to the police station.

When he told the police who I was, they hit me over the head with a police club till I was quiet and then gave me some coffee. “How are you now, Ed?” they asked, and hit me a few more times; after which they gave me some more coffee and bundled me into a cell.

Next day I was brought into the dock and charged with garage work. I hadn’t been able to get any judge of the supreme court, as they were all busy. The result was I got a sentence to ten years, with more if needed.

Now I’m not going to try to describe my life in prison beyond saying that it was dull; that’s the straight fact about it—a dull life. Indeed, I want to say right here and now, gentlemen, that prison isn’t worth while. I suppose that to those who have never been there, there is a glamor about it, a sort of romance. But I want to tell you that when you get to prison life itself, it’s dull. I don’t know how it is, but there’s a peculiar monotony,—I might describe it as a sort of sameness, about it, that gets you in the long run.

In prison each day seems very much like any other day. You get up and have your bath and loaf around, take a little bit of exercise, file into the dining-room to eat a bite of lunch and so on. It may sound all right, but in reality it’s wearisome. Many and many a time I used to wish I was out of it.

However, there are good things, too, about prison; and one good thing I got out of it was my association with the prison chaplain, the Reverend Mr. Hardnail. I don’t know if he will see these lines, because perhaps he can’t read, but anyway I want to express my gratitude.

Yes, I want right here and now to hand one to that prison chaplain. He was a real man, that fellow, just a straight, up and down, square-sided, slab-headed man. There was no whining and sniffling about him. He’d just come into my cell and sit and talk and not a word about religion or anything like that. “Ed,” he’d say, “have you got a chew of tobacco?” And I’d give him some and he’d sit there and yarn away about horse races and dog fights.

I’ll tell you he was a real man, the chaplain. He didn’t talk any soft stuff about repentance, but just made himself a friend and a companion. “Eddie,” he’d say, “how about a little snort? Have you got any of the hard stuff around the cell?” Well, generally I’d have a little of it hidden away. “Here you are, Mr. Hardnail,” I’d say, “and you’re welcome to it.” So we’d sit and drink the booze out of a jail mug like a couple of old pals, and Mr. Hardnail would stay right there and chat away till it was all gone before he’d go.

But as I say, I’m not going to talk in detail of prison life. Later on, if I could see any money in it, I might. But not now.

I served my ten years, increased to twelve for good conduct, and came out of that prison with a feeling as if I had grown older since I went in.

The Life of J. Correspondence Smith

J. Correspondence Smith was born in an isolated district in the western part of the east, the homestead being situated at a considerable distance even from any village. Fortunately, however, there was rural mail delivery at the very door. The infancy of the child was a period of great danger and anxiety, especially as no direct medical aid was available either for the boy or his mother. A treatment by correspondence, however, was successful in pulling them both through, although it was not until the postscript of the third letter that the worst of the danger was over. Smith’s father, meanwhile, kept up his courage by means of a correspondence course in Optimism, obtained from a central psychological college. Even at that, it often took ten cents’ worth a day to keep him up.

The years of childhood that followed, bright and innocent, often seemed to Smith in retrospect the best period of his life. He did not lack for plenty of little playmates, for, although there were no other children in the neighborhood, little J. very soon joined a Little Folks Correspondence Circle. In this way he came to know (by correspondence) Lizzie M. (aged 5) and Johnny O’D. (aged 6) and Only Child (aged 4). The children carried on, through correspondence, all kinds of merry games.

The pleasant days of childhood naturally gave place to school and college. Young J.’s education was carried on entirely by correspondence courses, in which he achieved distinction from the very first. In his high-school work he ranked ahead of all his classmates by six cents’ worth of stamps a week, and carried off the prize essay in English by a lead of four and a half ounces, second class postal matter.

When the time came for college, Smith selected as his alma mater the well-known correspondence institution, the University of Okacheechee, Box D, general delivery, third floor. It was out of this box that J. Smith finally graduated.

Smith’s college course had immensely broadened his outlook. He had not only taken the routine subjects of mathematics, physics, and the elementary sciences, but had also had correspondence courses in College Life, Good Fellowship, and on the Influence of Social Intercourse on Human Happiness. He had taken also two courses on Patriotism, internal and external, and half a course on Religion—a fixed requirement for graduation.

But there is no doubt that all the experiences of earlier life are as nothing when compared to the first coming of love. It came to J. Correspondence Smith with the same first blissful awakening of dreams and fancies that it has brought to all of us. Never could he forget that beautiful summer evening when he stood beside the lilacs in the dooryard and read:

“Young lady, brunette, lonesome, would like to exchange letters with gentleman. Send photo and postage stamps for return.”

It thrilled him as he stood. She was a brunette, and she was lonesome. And what she wanted was correspondence; and that was the best thing he did.

His hand for once trembled on the pen as he wrote back:

“Young man, writing good hand, certificates in penmanship from three correspondence schools, begs accept offer lonesome brunette extent 2 ounces a week.”

The course of love for once ran smooth. How Smith thrilled when he realized that she made a letter D exactly as he did, and that she could spell pneumonia without lifting the pen! One day, greatly daring, Smith gave the girl a kiss—on the corner of the letter—and the return post brought no rebuke.

The fateful day came when Smith, dressed in his best clothes, neatly shaved, and with his hair well oiled, sat down and wrote firmly and clearly a letter of proposal of marriage. The happy answer reached him even before his oil was dry.

There followed a blissful period of engagement, with a letter by every post, and then marriage. Circumstances and distance made it impossible for Smith to be present at his marriage, which was confirmed by proxy, two notaries public exchanging certificates. Nor was it possible for Smith and his wife to live together, as their homes were in different parts of the country. But as husband and wife they settled down, by correspondence, to the routine of domestic life.

During all this period of courtship and marriage, the plain stern business of earning a livelihood had been carried on by J. Smith with unremitting industry. And here he had met with well-merited success. An appointment as Local Correspondent of the Meteorological Weather Bureau at Washington gave him an assured if humble income, and brought him in contact with various winds, storms, and cyclones, which he might otherwise not have appreciated.

It was his duty also to report all temperatures and changes of temperatures on his own isothermal line, a business that kept him in constant telegraphic communication with at least six meridians of longitude. At the same time his work brought him membership in a number of corresponding scientific meteorological societies, while, as a hobby, he acted as horticultural correspondent for a garden magazine, reporting from time to time the growth of oak trees, everlasting thorn, and century plants. This crowded life left him but little time for diversion, yet he managed to carry on a game or two of chess with correspondents, selecting one in Alaska and one in Chee-Foo, China, to avoid over-rapidity in the play.

There came into Smith’s life in due course the Great War, changing it and convulsing it from top to bottom, so that, as he himself said, the world scarcely seemed the same. Postage rates rose to four cents for half an ounce. Foreign correspondence was placed under censorship; at least ten of Smith’s letters—as he himself used afterwards to relate—were sunk by submarines. His weather reports were reduced to two words a day for fear that the knowledge of how cold it was in his district might be of use to the enemy. In his chess game it was only possible to make one move in two years. In other words, as J. Smith himself admitted, the war was a hard, cruel time during which he carried on as best he could.

Since the armistice, life on the whole has gone well with Correspondence Smith. His weather reports are again in full operation, and his correspondence is now wider than ever. The award by mail of two honorary degrees from correspondence schools has shown how the learned world has appreciated his success. In his domestic life Smith and his wife, though still unfortunately kept apart, have had their union blessed by a child (a little girl) adopted by correspondence with a Maternity Bureau for Homeless Children. The little one has been duly placed out at a Country Home for Selected Children, from which she writes every week (an ounce and a half) to each of her parents.

And yet in despite of it all, from what I have known of J. Correspondence Smith and from what I have heard about him, the man is not altogether happy. He gets a feeling—have you ever had it yourself, my dear reader?—as if he had been too much a spectator in life and too little an actor. Sometimes it seems to him as if life had all drifted past him like a moving procession, from which his own timidity debarred his entrance. Perhaps you have felt that, yes? J. Smith often wishes that at some time he had broken loose and done something—just what, he doesn’t know, but something.

If he had it all to do again, he says, he would plunge right boldly into everything that life offers, hit or miss, win or die, and use it to the very last gasp of it. Therefore, if there turns out to be such a thing as metempsychosis, or the transfer of souls, and if Smith comes back, just watch out for him. He’ll do big things—at least that is what he says in his correspondence.

Eddie the Bartender

A Ghost of the Bygone Past

There he stands—or rather, there he used to stand—in his wicker sleeves, behind the tall mahogany, his hand on the lever of the beer pump—Eddie the Bartender.

Neat, grave, and courteous in the morning, was Eddie. “What’s yours, sir?”

Slightly subdued in the drowsier hours of the afternoon, but courteous still. “What are you having, gentlemen?”

Cheerful, hospitable, and almost convivial in the evening. “What is it this time, boys?”

All things to all men, was Eddie, quiet with the quiet, affable with the affable, cheerful with the exhilarated and the gay; in himself nothing, a perfect reflection of his customer’s own mind.

“Have one yourself, Ed,” said the customer. “Thanks, I’ll take a cigar.”

Eddie’s waistcoat pockets, as day drew slowly on to evening, bristled with cigars like a fortress with cannon.

“Here, don’t take a smoke, have a drink!” said the customer. “Thanks, I’ll take a lemon sour. Here’s luck.” Lemon sours, sarsaparillas, and sickly beverages taken in little glassfuls, till the glassfuls ran into gallons—these were the price that Eddie paid for his abstemiousness.

“Don’t you ever take anything, Ed?” asked the uninitiated. “I never use it,” he answered.

But Eddie’s principal office was that of a receptive listener, and, as such, always in agreement.

“Cold, ain’t it?” said the customer.

“It sure is!” answered Eddie with a shiver.

“By Gosh it’s warm!” said another ten minutes later.

“Certainly a hot day,” Ed murmured, quite faint with the heat.

Out of such gentle agreement is fabricated the structure of companionship.

“I’ll bet you that John L. will lick Jim Corbett in one round!”

“I wouldn’t be surprised,” says Eddie.

“I’ll bet you that this young Jim Corbett will trim John L. in five minutes!”

“Yes, I guess he might easily enough,” says Eddie.

Out of this followed directly and naturally Eddie’s function as arbitrator, umpire, and world’s court.

“I’ll leave it to Ed,” calls the customer. “See here, Ed, didn’t Maud S. hold the record at 2.35 before ever Jay Eye See ran at all? Ain’t that so? I bet him a dollar and I says, ‘I’ll leave it to Ed,’ says I.”

That was the kind of question that Eddie had to arbitrate—technical, recondite, controversial. The chief editor of the Encyclopedia Britannica couldn’t have touched it. And he had to do it with peace and good will on both sides, and make it end somehow with the interrogation, “What are you having, gentlemen?”

But Eddie was not only by profession a conversationalist, a companion, and a convivialist, he was also in his degree a medical man, prescribing for his patients.

This was chiefly in the busy early morning, when the bar first opened up for the day.

Eddie’s “patients” lined up before him, asking for eye-openers, brain-clearers, head-removers.

Behind Eddie, on little shelves, was a regular pharmacopœia; a phalanx of bottles—ticketed, labeled—some with marbles in the top stopper, some with little squirting tubes in the mouth. Out of these came bitters, sweets, flavors, peppers—things that would open the eyes, lift the hair, and renovate the whole man.

Eddie, shaking and mixing furiously, proceeded to open their eyes, clear up their brains, and remove their heads.

“I’ve got a head this morning, Ed. Fix me up something to take it away.” “Sure,” said Eddie in return, “I’ll fix it for you.”

By eight a.m. Eddie had them all straightened up and fixed. Some were even able to take a drink and start over.

This was in the early morning. But at other times, as for example, quite late at night, Ed appeared in another rôle—that of the champion strong man. Who would suspect the muscles of steel concealed behind Eddie’s wicker cuffs and his soft white shirt-sleeves? Who could expect anger from a countenance so undisturbed, a nature so unruffled, a mind so little given to argument?

But wait! Listen to that fierce quarrel punctuated with unpunctuatable language between two “bums” out on the barroom floor. Lo! at the height of it Eddie clears the mahogany counter in a single leap, seizes the two “bums” each by the collar, and with a short rush and a flying throw hurls them both out of the swinging doors bang on the sidewalk!

Anger? No, not that; inspired indignation is the proper phrase. Ed represented the insulted majesty of a peaceful public anxious only to be let alone.

“Don’t make no trouble in here,” was Eddie’s phrase. There must be “no trouble” within the sacred precincts. Trouble was for the outside, for the sidewalk, for the open street, where “trouble” could lie breathing heavily in the gutter till a “cop” took it where it belonged.

Thus did Eddie, and his like, hurl “trouble” out into the street, and with it, had they only known it, hurled away their profession and their livelihood.

This was their downfall.

Thus on the sunshine of Eddie’s tranquil life descended, shadow by shadow, the eclipse of prohibition.

Eddie watched its approach, nearer and nearer.

“What are you going to go at, Ed?” they asked.

“I’ve been thinking of going into chicken farming,” Eddie used to answer, as he swabbed off the bar. “They say there’s good money in chickens.”

Next week it was turkeys.

“A fellow was in here telling me about it,” Ed said. “They says there’s big money in turkeys.”

After that it was a farm in Vermont, and then it was a ranch out in Kansas. But it was always something agricultural, bucolic, quiet.

Meanwhile Eddie stayed right there, pumping up the flooding beer and swabbing off the foam from the mahogany, till the days, the hours, and the minutes ticked out his livelihood.

Like the boy on the burning deck, he never left.

Where is he now? Eddie and all the other Eddies, the thousands of them? I don’t know. There are different theories about them. Some people say they turned into divinity students and that they are out as canvassers selling Bibles to the farmers. You may still recognize them, it is claimed, by the gentle way in which they say, “What’s yours this morning?”

There is no doubt their tranquil existence, sheltered behind the tall mahogany, unfitted them for the rough and tumble of ordinary life.

Perhaps, under prohibition, they took to drink. In the cities, even their habitat has gone. The corner saloon is now a soda fountain, where golden-headed blondes ladle out red and white sundaes and mushy chocolates and smash eggs into orange phosphates.

But out in the solitude of the country you may still see, here and there, boarded up in oblivion and obliquity, the frame building that was once the “tavern.” No doubt at night, if it’s late enough and dark enough, ghostly voices still whisper in the empty barroom, haunted by the specters of the Eddies——“What’s yours, gentlemen?”

Janus and the Janitor

Daniel J. Edwards—the janitor of our apartment—had practically no opportunities in life, no schooling to speak of, and no start. Yet here he is the janitor of a six-story apartment house, with twenty-four different apartments under his control. And the man is only fifty-three at that. As a matter of fact, he was full janitor of an apartment building when he had just turned forty-seven.

You may see him at any time in the quiet of a summer evening, sitting in his shirt sleeves half-way down the area steps that lead to the basement, smoking his pipe and taking things easy. After nine-thirty, as he himself says, there is scarcely a darned thing to do—unless some one calls him to go up to one of the apartments or something of that sort.

Few men—he himself feels it—have got along quite so steadily, have climbed to the top of the tree quite so successfully as Dan has. They call him “Dan” mostly around the apartments, though some of the children say “Mr. Edwards.” As he himself says, everybody knows him all around—the delivery men, the milkmen, the postmen, the boys with the telegrams, in short, every one. Indeed, to put it in his own words, he doesn’t know anybody that he doesn’t know.

The job that Dan has is, admittedly, a pretty soft thing. You could call it a cinch. Of course he comes on (that’s his phrase, “comes on”) pretty early in the morning, especially in the summer time, when he’s up and about freshening up the front steps before six o’clock. But then he likes to be up early in summer. In this world, it doesn’t so much matter when and where you “come on,” as it does how you feel when you do “come on.”

Anyway, all winter Dan takes things easy. Often he doesn’t budge from his bed till seven o’clock.

There’s a lot to do in the building and yet in a sense, as Dan has often explained it to me, there’s nothing to do. You can’t call running an elevator “work.” And if you go up with a monkey wrench to fix up a tap that’s leaking, or take a hammer and nails and tighten a window sash, you would scarcely consider that working.

Now, it would be different in an apartment house where the janitor does all the furnaces. But in a place of this size there’s a regular furnace man who comes on duty. Dan has nothing to do with the furnaces except to give them a little touch up now and then if they need it, or if it’s really cold weather, just slip into the furnace room once or twice in the night and coax them on a little. If a furnace man wants a lift with his ashes, Dan might give him that. But that’s all there is to it.

Dan tells a good story of how a man two blocks around the corner with a new—a pretty high-class—apartment house wanted him to come over there, at higher pay, big pay, but Dan asked him, “What about the furnace?” “Oh! I’d look to you to do that,” said the man. “Well, then,” Dan answered, “I guess it’s a case of no thanks.” It’s a good story and Dan likes to tell it and he tells it well. At the end he always repeats two or three times. “ ‘Yes, sir,’ says I, ‘I guess it’s a case of no thanks.’ ”

Telling stories like that makes an evening pass pretty agreeably.

But for the most part the main thing is that if you get into a job like Dan’s where people trust you, you are pretty well your own boss. If Dan wants any time to stick on his hat and slip across the street for anything, it’s all right.

In point of politics, Dan practically hasn’t got any. In his position you can’t. If you take sides either one way or the other, it gets known. It is much better to be friendly with both sides and hold quietly in between. Dan tells a good story of how one of his tenants wanted him to vote for him one time—he was a lawyer in Apartment C on the Sixth. “I hope you’re going to turn out and vote for me next Tuesday,” he said to Dan. “I’d like to, Mr. Thomas,” Dan answered, “but I don’t see how I can.”

I’ve heard Dan tell that story again and again. “ ‘Dan,’ he says, says he, ‘I hope you’re going to turn out and vote for me next Tuesday.’ ‘Well, Mr. Thomas,’ says I, ‘I don’t see how I can.’ He was elected all right. They had Apartment C on the Sixth.” It’s a good story, and Dan likes to tell it. He tells it well too. He has a lot of stories, all as good as that—in fact, all more or less like that—and he likes to tell them to you, sitting in the area steps when things have quieted down for the evening.

As far as money goes, Dan is now, as he himself has often told me, pretty well on Easy Street. He generally keeps well ahead of the game with ten or fifteen dollars up even at the very end of the month. And he has money saved up as well. There’s the hundred dollars that he saved up that he lent to his brother who got into trouble in Vancouver. He has that. That is to say, it’s there. And there’s a hundred and fifty dollars that he sent to his wife’s brother in Seattle, when they got burned out; he has that. In fact, quite a number of items like that, all of which are there still.

Anyway, Dan carries a pretty big life insurance; he has nine hundred dollars on a forty-year endowment. That’s coming along all the time.

Now all this I only mention in connection with a rather strange thing that happened about a fortnight ago, a queer trick of fortune, so to speak. Didn’t the ancient Romans call fortune Janus? If so it ought to connect up with a janitor, oughtn’t it?

Well, anyway, you may have noticed this in the papers yourself. But you would probably have passed it over. It is only when you know the person concerned that it has a different sort of importance.

At any rate, there was a news item that came from Seattle and was copied all around the press. It was headed, “Janitor Falls Heir to Fortune,” and it was worded like this:

“Under the will of John Henry Walters, almost the entire estate, about three-quarters of a million dollars, will go to his brother-in-law, Daniel Edwards. Walters, it will be remembered, who was working as a river driver, made a sudden fortune in the opening of the Summit Lake mining district. Edwards, for whom the Walters’ lawyers are now looking, is said to be the janitor of an apartment building in an eastern city.”

And those who did notice that particular news item probably saw also the one that followed it up a few days afterwards. It was headed, “Will Stick at Job,” and it explained that, “Daniel James Edwards, identified as the heir of the Walters’ fortune in Seattle, amounting to some three quarters of a million dollars, says that he means to stick right where he is and go on with his job.”

That was all at the moment.

And in fact, in a way, that is all of it.

Only one can’t help wondering just what Dan is going to do about it.

He said right away that he wouldn’t quit his job as janitor.

But two days later Dan decided that he’d take a trip out to the Coast anyway to see about things.

The next day he bought a new overcoat. It was a kind he used to covet when he was a boy.

However, he’s been working right ahead ever since—that is, talking mostly, half-way down the area steps. There are such a lot of people who want to stop to ask him about it all, and who like to be assured that he won’t quit his job, that it takes time to tell them.

Then they had him down at one of the newspaper offices to tell them about it there; and of course he had to get photographed in connection with it, with the legend under the photograph, “Won’t Give Up His Job.”

And one of the men on the top floor, Apartment A, who is a promoter, has been talking to Dan about how three quarters of a million dollars could easily be turned into real money, say, into a couple of million. And Dan himself has been thinking that, if he cared to, he could take this money, he could build an apartment house with it, a real dandy, with special janitor’s quarters to it, and then ride up and down with the elevator all day and be on a mighty friendly footing with the tenants.

And more than that, Dan and his wife have discovered that his wife has never traveled, never been anywhere. It’s a thing they never knew before.

So when Dan gets back from the Coast he may take the wife for a trip to Europe, or to Afghanistan, or somewhere—just for a trip.

But of course he’s not going to quit being a janitor.

The Intimate Disclosures of a Wronged Woman

A Palpitating Story in Which a Woman’s Soul is Turned Upside Down and Then Right Side Up

Note: The following startling disclosures are, in our opinion, the most powerful piece of self-revelation that we have seen revealed this season. The writer lays her soul bare and jumps on it. She takes her readers into the most intimate recesses of a woman’s life, and if we know anything about readers, this hits them where they live. The writer does not spare herself.

chapter i

My (First) Childhood

I want to begin these Disclosures by speaking of my childhood.

First let me talk of my parents. There were two of them, my father and my mother.

And I am now going to tell here something about my father which up till now I have never even whispered to a soul, namely, that he was born in Peterboro, Ontario.

My father seldom spoke of having been born in Peterboro. But I know he brooded over it. I remember once when I was quite a little girl he drew me to him and patting my head quietly he murmured, “I was born in Peterboro.” After that he sat silent, looking into the fire for a long time. Then he put on his hat and went out. And a little afterwards he came in again.

While I am speaking of my father, I may as well set down something else about him that I only came to know gradually and that I did not fully understand at first, and that is that he was five feet, nine inches and seven-eighths high.

I recall as if it were yesterday my mother measuring him against the wall, and saying as she looked at the measuring tape, “Five feet, nine inches and seven-eighths.”

I was too young to know what seven-eighths meant at that time; later on I came to know. But to the best of my belief neither my father nor my mother ever mentioned to anybody that he was five feet, nine inches and seven-eighths high. They were proud people and kept things to themselves.

Now that I am speaking of my father and wish to leave nothing concealed, I may as well state the fact openly that he was a Vegetarian. I have decided, in putting down this life story, to leave nothing unsaid—that I can think of to say—and so I will simply chronicle the fact that my father was a Vegetarian and let the reader judge for himself.

But this I only came to know slowly as I passed gradually out of my childhood, a thing it took me a long time to do.

As a little child I thought he was an Episcopalian or at times I fancied him a Wesleyan Methodist. Later I came to know the truth. He was a Vegetarian. Only once or twice, however, did I ever hear him refer to the fact.

I remember once he took me on his knee and said, “I’ve been a Vegetarian all my life”; then he kissed me and put me down again and walked out of the house. He did not come back again for a long time; not till meal time. I grew to know that my father always came back at meal time. I think he was too proud to stay away.

My mother stands out less vividly before me, partly, perhaps, because I never knew her height as accurately as I knew my father’s.

But I will record here one thing about her that always seemed to me to mark her off from most people, and in a way to isolate her in a class by herself, and that is that as a girl she had lived for some years in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Why this should have been so, I never knew. My mother never explained it to me and never spoke of it. But I think it gave her a kind of loneliness.

Later on as I slowly grew up, which took years and years, I began to understand that my mother was a disappointed woman. She realized, I think, that she had been let in in marrying Father. Each time she looked at him she felt that he certainly was a prize package.

The idea, I imagine, grew in her mind that if she hadn’t married Father, she might have hit something better and could hardly have struck anything worse.

There comes into every woman’s life the knowledge that she has married the wrong man. So it was with Mother. The realization that Father was a nut more and more shadowed her life.

Once, in one of her rare moments of confidence, she told me that there was a Mr. Jones in Little Rock, Arkansas, whom she could have married who was very musical and played the gramophone to perfection, but he had lung trouble and drank whiskey and was a Communist. So she held him off and he went west for his lungs and got better and made a lot of money in cattle and joined the Republican party.

But meantime Mother had married Father.

I suppose every woman has a romance in her life like Mother’s. I often used to wonder where I would have been if Mother hadn’t married Father, but had married Mr. Jones. But I couldn’t think it out. It beat me to it.

And now let me try to give a more intimate and confidential picture of my home, because I want to make my reader feel that he knows me. Our house stood in the country on the tenth concession of the third township backwards and sideways from the road and a little edgeways. I can shut my eyes and see it; but when I open them I can’t.

It was only a mile down the road to the post office of Blank and five miles and ten rods to the village of Blank. Our country town was Blink and there was no large city nearer to us than Asterisk.

With these facts well in mind, the reader can form a pretty clear picture of my home and its surroundings. I should perhaps have added that our nearest railway station was at —————— and our only telegraph office was at ————. Let the reader get these facts clearly before him and he will have a grip on my narrative which he otherwise might fail to get. Perhaps it is pertinent to say that the ———— Express Company had an agency at * * * * * * and that there was a first class garage not more than three miles from * ! * ! * ! . . . . . .

At any rate, it was here in these quiet surroundings that I passed my first girlhood—not my second, my first.

And now I am going to give my reader something of the kind that he has been sitting up waiting for. I want to take him into all my secrets, and tell him some things that I suppose no woman ever tells to the world.

When I set myself to write these disclosures I said to myself that I would conceal nothing, but would tell my reader everything. If a great deal of what I have to say sounds unusual, I can only defend it on the ground that at least it is the truth.

I want to be quite frank with myself and speak of myself as if I were discussing somebody else. I want the reader to judge for himself everything that I have done. I don’t know whether I make my meaning quite clear. I am trying to state it as simply as I can.

I will only say that what I mean is that I am trying to say what I mean. I can find no other words to express it more simply, but if I can think of any later on I’ll use them.

I want to begin by saying that like a great many girls I was for a long time densely ignorant. I doubt whether society realizes even yet, in spite of all the revelations and confessions that have been published, how ignorant girls are. In my own case up to the age of ————

But stop. That’s a peach of a place to end up this first chapter.

chapter ii

What Girls Don’t Know

In the last, that is, the first chapter I was telling my readers in the most intimate language I could get hold of all about my girlhood.

I said that I was brought up ignorant, in the dense ignorance that enshrouds so many young girls to-day. Even with the resolution I have taken to conceal nothing from my readers, it is hard for me, without a blush of shame, to go into details of my ignorance.

But I will quote as a characteristic example the fact that till I was nine years old I could hardly spell properly. I mixed up words ending in ough with words ending in double f.

Figures also gave me great trouble. For a long time I used to think that 7 and 8 made 13. I was too timid and too reticent to take my difficulties to anybody, least of all to my parents. Sometimes I thought of going to the minister of our church and asking him what 7 and 8 made, and how to spell hemorrhage. But a false shame held me back, and I feared perhaps that even he might not know.

And since I am confiding so fully in my reader I will make another confession, namely, that for many years I did not know the names of the branches of the Amazon, and always imagined that the Xingu came in on the top side. I concealed this as best I could from the people about me.

Of physiology and the human body and of the laws of health I knew absolutely nothing. I could not have told where the œsophagus was nor the prosencephalon, nor the duodenum nor the semicolon nor the major axis of the patella. Once while quite a child I caught a cold and was quite sick for three days without being aware of it.

My first love affair took place when I was just turned sixteen. I had hardly turned it when a young man came to stay at our house as a summer boarder. His name was Joe Granger, and he was training for a minister. This ought to have warned me, but I was young and without guidance. In any case, he seemed to me little more than a boy, which was perhaps the case, as he was only five feet, one inch high. But he was quite stout.

There was, however, one thing about Joe that my parents kept from me at the time and that I only learned later on accidentally. It was this: He paid us $2.00 a week for his board, but he was supposed to help father pitch hay and to make himself handy around the place.

Well, for the first two or three weeks that Joe Granger was at our house, I hardly spoke a word to him. But one evening just as I was starting down the lane to the pasture to fetch up the two cows there was Joe standing beside the door of the barn.

It was lilac time and I had on a print dress with a bunch of lilacs at my throat and a branch of apple blossoms in my hair and a bunch of wild convolvulus and chickweed in my waist belt.

“Where are you going?” Joe asked. “Down to the pasture,” I answered, “to fetch up the cows.” “All right,” he said, “I’ll go too.” I was feeling in a kind of reckless mood, as if I didn’t care what happened to me. “Come on!” I said.

It was a hundred yards or perhaps more down the lane, but all the way Joe said nothing except, “Say, look at that oriole. That’s pretty early for orioles, isn’t it?” So I knew that he was keeping himself pretty well in hand.

When we got to the pasture, the two cows were there standing under the shade trees.

“You chase up the black one,” Joe said, “and I’ll start up the other.”

I was feeling in a sort of desperate mood, as if I didn’t care. “All right,” I said.

We got the two cows started up the lane, and Joe and I walked along behind them.

“They’re easy cows to drive,” Joe said. I don’t know just how much he meant by it, but I answered just recklessly, “They sure are.” “Some cows,” Joe said, “are much better milkers than others.” I didn’t even stop to think. “Is that so?” was all I could find to say. “Yes,” Joe went on, “when I was on a farm near Cobourg, Ontario, I used to milk six cows a day.” I don’t know just what he would have said next, but just then we came to the corner of the barn and there was Father.

Joe is a preacher now and has children of his own, but looking back on it seems strange. I often wondered how many cows he milked after he left Cobourg.

My next love adventure was a few months later; in fact, that same Autumn. I was walking along the road to the village and the rural mail delivery man stopped his cart. “Like a ride, sis?” he asked. “Kind o’ hot walking, ain’t it?”

Just for a minute I hesitated. The driver was a quite elderly man and had four or five children, and it should have warned me. But a sort of spirit of daring had got hold of me and for a minute I hesitated. Already he had made a place on the seat beside him. “Climb right in,” he said.

Then all of a sudden I realized my danger. “Thanks,” I blurted out, “I guess I’ll walk.” “All right,” the man said, “please yourself. Get up, there!” and he touched up his horse and was gone.

I stood in the road for quite a time, thinking of what I had escaped.

I never saw the man again, but years after I heard that he was still driving on the same mail route and that his eldest girl had just finished high school. A queer fact about the whole thing, however, is that the government has never promoted him and that he is still on the same route.

By this time, of course, I had begun to realize that men are all wolves and are not to be trusted.

There was a young man one day came to deliver a load of cord wood and after he had unloaded it, he asked for a drink of water. Quite unsuspectingly, I fetched him a glass of water from the pitcher and was just going to give it to him when he said, “Do you ever go to the pictures?”

I threw the water in his face and rushed upstairs to my own room, where I threw myself on the bed. But it was a narrow escape.

Well, it was along about this time that our home got all broken up and Mother and I had to move away. It was all on account of Father, because Father began to use alcohol. Of course, where we lived the law didn’t allow any one to buy alcohol and people couldn’t get it. But they could get it in indirect forms.

They say there’s a lot of alcohol in barber’s perfumes and things like that. Well, Father found out that there is alcohol in axle grease and he began smearing his face with it evenings. He only put on a little at first, just enough to make him feel bright, but then he got to putting it on thicker and thicker and he’d sit there evenings with his face covered with it and the axle grease stupefying his mind. He found, too, that there is alcohol in linseed oil and he’d go out to the barn and soak himself in it.

It got so bad that Father was soaked most of the time, and he’d just stagger round the place soaked and plastered.

So the end of it was that our home was broken up and Mother and I went to live in the city. I have promised to tell my readers all my sensations and feelings, and I suppose there are feelings that a girl gets when she goes to live in a city that she has never had before.

I am in a way ashamed to speak of it, but the truth is that for nearly two months, perhaps, I didn’t like going up and down in elevators.

And since I am telling everything, I may as well say straight out and be done with it that I don’t think the pie in the city is as good as in the country.

We hadn’t been very long in the city before I began to learn that the men are just as much wolves and hounds there as they are in the country.

A young girl, even though she weighs 175 pounds as I did, has got to be on her guard all the time. It was just the same old story, and it began right away.

The first one was the house-agent who showed us over the apartments. He managed to sidle pretty close up to me and he sort of whispered, “This is a very desirable location.” I just gave him one push in the chest that put him against the wall and I said, “You just cut that right out.”

Then there was the young feller that came to turn on the electric lights. He said: “If you wouldn’t mind holding this candle for me, I’ll adjust the meter.” “Don’t you get so darned smart,” I answered.

I found it was just the same way when I went out to look for work in the stores. The first man I went to looked up at me from his desk and he said, “Just sit down, please, and tell me what you can do.”

“You just quit that right now,” I answered, and I was out of that place in five seconds.

However, I had not been very long in the city before life all changed and I met my first husband and got married. But I want to tell my readers just how it feels for a young, inexperienced girl to find herself married to a man.—I think that will hold them down for another chapter.

chapter iii

Married Life

In what I wrote before, I told about my experiences as a young girl and how love first came into my life.

I want to talk now about my married life and I am going to speak just as plainly as I can and tell my readers things that I have never yet ventured to say to anybody.

It was a little while after Mother and I had moved into the city, on account of Father having taken to alcohol in the country, that I met my first husband. His name was Mr. Thomley, and Mother and I first met him in one of the big stores where we went to buy things for the apartment. All we knew about him was that his name was Mr. Thomley and that his salary was forty-two dollars a week, and that his people had come from Ashtabula, Ohio, and that he had had a ten-dollar raise last month and another one promised for New Year’s, and that where he boarded there wasn’t a word against him, although there were three young girls in the house, one from Kentucky. Beyond that, Mother couldn’t find out any more about him.

Well, pretty soon Mr. Thomley began coming to the apartment and taking me out places nights and then later he would come and take me walks afternoons and shows evenings and ball games Sundays.

So one day at a ball game he asked me if I would marry him and I said all right. I remember it was Pittsburgh playing Philadelphia and Pittsburgh won the game, but I want to say right now, since I am writing confidentially, that I don’t believe they were the best team. I said to Mr. Thomley just after he asked me to marry him that I was sure the umpire was crooked. At any rate, I am going to say it right here, straight out, that I believe there was some dirty work on third base.

We went home right after the game, and I told Mother all about it and just what I thought of the Pittsburgh team.

Well, a little after that we got married, because my husband, whose name, as I said, was Mr. Thomley, had four days off from the store where he worked. He was in curtains and cretonne, and as it was the dead season in curtains he could get off easily enough; but for the matter of that, he had a pretty high-up job and could have got off for a couple of days to get married at any time.

So we went off on our wedding tour to Richmond, Virginia, and it certainly is a strange feeling for a young girl to find herself going to a hotel as a married woman. I am going to tell all about my experiences.

One thing that I noticed right away was that the food in the hotel was fierce, though we were paying eight dollars a day each on the American plan. I don’t know what my readers will think of me, but I am going to confess right now that I don’t like the American plan. I may as well say it straight out as conceal it, but I believe that on the European plan you get better service.

And right here I will disclose a little thing about married life that I never saw mentioned openly before, though everybody knows it is true, and that is that you can order a single portion and divide it and have a side order of bacon or anything like that for the same money.

That night a little before we retired Mr. Thomley whispered to me that all his life he had never liked hotel food.

We went for a long drive next day in an open carriage, and Mr. Thomley told me a lot of interesting and intimate things, such as how they made cement, and the way the city disposes of the sewage and the different methods they have for marketing the tobacco and things I had never known as a girl.

Well, pretty soon after that we came back to the city to settle down in our new home, and my married life began in earnest. If I had not decided to make a complete revelation of what married life first means to a woman and to keep back nothing, I might not care to tell of some of the mistakes that we made and the false steps that we took.

To begin with, we paid eighty dollars a month for our apartment, and it wasn’t worth it. There no proper way of disposing of the garbage, and every one of the cupboards was too small.

If young girls were told before marriage all the things they ought to know, they would never go into an apartment unless there was a janitor who took away the garbage without leaving it out on the back of the fire escape.

Some of the mistakes, too, were of our own making. We put cocoanut matting in the best room, and I’ll confess now that it hasn’t the warmth. It’s all right in the cool weather, but when winter comes it is better to pay another two dollars a yard and get real rugs.

There were some things, too, that I found I didn’t like to tell even to my husband. A young, inexperienced wife, such as I was, is held back by a kind of delicacy in speaking of certain things. The first of these troubles I kept to myself, but I thought of it day and night until at last I just couldn’t stand it any longer, and I said to Mr. Thomley, “There’s something I’ve just got to tell you; namely, that new ice-box is a bum ice-box. It leaks.”

Mr. Thomley was very kind about it and got a plumber up right away, but somehow things didn’t seem quite the same again after the ice-box started leaking.

Then, of course, there was a certain amount of trouble with other men, such as I suppose comes into the life of every young wife, especially when her husband has to be away days and men come, about this or that, afternoons.

There was first the young fellow who carried up the groceries, and the very first day he said, “If you like I’ll carry them right into the kitchen for you.” I said right away, “You cut that stuff out right now,” but after he was gone I went to the bedroom and had a good cry all by myself.

As soon as my husband came home I said to him, “There’s a thing I may as well tell you first as last: The grocery man tried to carry the parcels right through into the kitchen.” My husband said nothing at the time, but I felt there was a shadow between us after that.

It has been only as the months and presently the years have gone past that I have realized that my married life with Mr. Thomley has been a mistake. It would be hard for me to say just what has gone wrong, but I suppose I am only one of a great many women who feel that somehow life has wronged them. It seems to bring them nothing.

It was different for my husband, because he was in the store and was forging ahead all the time. He got moved up from curtains the second year of our marriage to being head of all the carpets, with a two hundred dollar increase, and a year or two after that they put him right on the ground floor with the whole of the gents’ furnishing, boys’ garments, and men’s goods under him. Then he’s away up in the United Mens-goods-men of the World, and belongs to a cornet and saxophone society that meets every two weeks all winter, and a clay-pigeon shooting-club that goes out once every two months in the summer.

It always seems that way. Men’s life is full of work and interest, and for women there is just nothing.

It was about when my eldest little girl was getting ready for public school—she was the first of the three children to go—that I began to feel the full emptiness of my life. It was so different from the kind of day dreams I used to have nights on the farm. Then I used to think I might marry a bootlegger, or an Arab slavedriver, or a French adventurer. I used to dream of a life where things happened and where some one would take me around and make things fly. It’s a kind of romantic spirit I have.

So nowadays when I sit evenings with Mr. Thomley, I feel that the time has come when I’ll have to divorce him. He was all right as a first husband, but for a second one I want something with more pep.

It seems to me that one of the great pitfalls of married life is getting tied up too long with a first husband.

That about concludes my disclosures. If I could think of any more intimate things to say, I’d put them in, because I know that my readers just snap them up and live on them. But this will do for now.


Little Conversations of the Hour

To Illustrate Life in the Third Decade of the Twentieth Century

“For what we are about to receive,” said the Archdeacon at the head of the luncheon table, bowing his head in a reverent attitude, “may the Lord make us truly thankful.” Then he lifted his head and added, “I see that Universal Copper went up four points this morning.”

“Yes,” said the nearest guest, also a distinguished divine, “I noticed them putting up the stock sheet just after our opening prayer at the meeting. I couldn’t see very clearly,—four points, was it?”

“Are you in Copper, Archdeacon,” another guest asked.

“I was,” said the Archdeacon shaking his head sadly. “But I got out at 120. The Bishop gave me a hint to get out and I was foolish enough to take it.”

“I fear that the Bishop lacks faith,” said the guest.

“That’s it,” agreed the Archdeacon. “One needs faith for these things. I don’t think there ever was a time when one needed faith so much. Without it you can’t hold on. In my own case,”—he added humbly,—“I shall take it to heart as a lesson for life. When I think that I was in British Breweries as low as 27——”

“Breweries at 27!” exclaimed another of the guests.—“Was it as low as that?—Why, this morning—what was it?—I haven’t seen it for an hour or so, owing to our meeting,—but over four hundred surely?”

“Yes, over four hundred,” said the Archdeacon sadly, his eyes sunk upon his plate. “I repeat it,—it’s a lesson for one’s life, a lesson in courage, in belief——”

“Oh, but my dear Archdeacon,” interposed a tall venerable gentleman, whose labors in the Mission fields of Asia had made his name known all over the world. “You mustn’t really blame yourself. You see after all one never can tell what is to happen. Surely it is sometimes better to hold part of what we have than to seek for something higher? I don’t want to discount what you feel about faith. But look at Asbestos, look at Carborundum or consider for instance the terrible fall in hides. Surely we have only to view the world about us to realize how uncertain it is and how wrong it is to place one’s hopes too much in it, except perhaps in iron or steel or in very solid gold bonds.”

There was a murmur of approval. Then someone else, to turn the conversation from the Archdeacon’s embarrassment, spoke to the missionary.

“And things in China?” he asked. “Not going very well I fear?”

“From bad to worse, I am sorry to say,” answered the eminent missionary, shaking his head. “These recent troubles are undoing the work of forty years. Pekin Municipal Bonds have simply vanished, utterly unsaleable; even the Shanghai International Loan has fallen to a mere fraction. Indeed I scarcely know of a real opportunity anywhere in our whole mission field. I could not, as it is, advise any young man to enter it.”

After which the talk drifted into more general topics, such as oil and the motor stocks and the rubber outlook. And presently the guests rose and the Archdeacon said:

“I too must hasten away. I want to go and call on a very dear old lady parishioner of mine. She has her good days and her bad and granddaughter has just phoned me that she is feeling quite bright to-day and will be pleased to see one.”

With that the party broke up and the Archdeacon went on his way to pay his visit.

“I am so glad you came,” exclaimed the pretty young girl who was sitting in the drawing room with a young man. “Grandmother is looking forward so much to seeing you. She couldn’t come downstairs to-day but wants you to come up to her room.”

In the room upstairs there sat in a chair a bright old lady in a cap and spectacles whose keen eyes and animated face cut down her eighty years by two or three decades. In her lap lay open a large book in a black cover which the trained eye of the Archdeacon recognized at once as Jones’s Manual of Continental Securities.

“My dear lady,” said the Archdeacon, bending over her hand, “I am so pleased, so delighted to see you looking so well.”

“Well!” said the old lady, “I should say so, and as a matter of fact, I ought to look well. I’ve just made a regular clean-up in Zinc products.”

“It’s turned out to be a regular cuckoo,” added the old lady, “a real pippin.”

“Ah,” murmured the Archdeacon. “A real pippin,—I congratulate you on your good luck.”

“Good luck,” protested the venerable old lady. “Cut out that good luck stuff. It wasn’t a case of luck at all. I just had the sand to stay with it. I had a hunch that it was good to go up to 200 and I just hung right on to it. But now let us talk on something much more serious. What do you know about Synthetic rubber?”

And with that the conversation became quiet and intimate and earnest.

Meanwhile downstairs the young man still sat beside, close beside, the very charming granddaughter. Any observer, had there been one, would have seen in their eyes that they were lovers.

“I have something to tell you,” he was murmuring. “Something to tell you that I have been waiting and hoping to tell you.”

“Perhaps I know it,” she half whispered, her eyes on the carpet.

“Fluid Beef has gone up,” he said. “Gone up at last.”

“Oh, Edward,” she said with a happy little sigh, “has Fluid Beef really gone up!”

“Away up,” he laughed, “and us with it.”

“I was so afraid,” she said, with a doubting shake of her head, “that it was over-capitalized. Often at night I have a half fear that the standing charges were making our overhead out of all proportions to our earnings.”

“There was no fear of it,” he answered firmly. “Do you realize, darling,” he added, taking her hand, “that the whole of our bond issue can be looked after out of one month’s earnings?”

“But our deterioration,” she murmured as she nestled against his shoulder. “Are you writing it off out of current assets as we should?”

“Yes, easily, amply,” he reassured her, “and it means, dearest, that now there is nothing to stop us. We can be married the first moment you will.”

“And there’s something else, Edward,” she said, “to bring us happiness even better assured perhaps.”

“What?” he whispered, his eyes bright with expectation.

“Zinc,” she answered. “Grandmother told me this morning that the day we are married she is going to put a whole block of zinc in our names. Oh, Edward, isn’t life wonderful?”

And as a matter of fact, when you come to think of it life in the closing years of the Third Decade of the 20th century is away ahead of life under the Third Dynasty in Egypt.

Travel is so Broadening


The Ideal Motor Trip in Europe

“No more wonderful revolution in travel and in the culture that travel alone can bring has ever been effected than that occasioned by the advent of the motor-car.” So writes the enthusiastic and eloquent author of an automobile guide for foreign travel.

“Not only,” continues the writer, “does it bring within our eye a wonderful panorama of scenery, but it enables the fortunate traveler to envisage in his rapid flight the great epochs of history, to follow in the footsteps of Charlemagne and Hannibal, to gaze with awe on the silent dungeons of the middle ages and the crumbling amphitheatres of Roman Gaul.

“We set our course, let us say, down the valley of the Rhone. Here, at the very outset, is a massive and impressive scenery. For many miles of it, not even the new world of American can offer such a prospect of waving forests, whose age-old trees echoed to the hunting horns of the Merovingian Kings and of dark gorges cleft deep into river valleys by uncounted centuries of time. Here again we are out in the open, smiling country, a land of vineyards basking in the sun, of little roadside inns where red wine is poured out for us from stone jugs and where the luscious fruit of Provence is heaped in a very cornucopia on the table. Our noon-day halt is at Nîmes, where the great Roman amphitheatre, half in ruins, rears its sunlit, stone benches to recall the gladiatorial combats of the great days of the empire. Here sat, perhaps, a Nero or a Trajan, under a sweeping canopy of royal purple that rustled in the summer sun, while all about him stormy shouts of savage joy greeted the death throes of a defeated gladiator.

“A little further on in our journey and here is Avignon, the medieval city of the popes, and Carcassone, whose lofty turrets recall the splendors and the mysteries of the Middle Ages. . . .”

And so forth. . . .


The Real Thing

Now let us put beside this the real vacation tour in a motor through Europe. We take it from the text of letter No. 13 from the correspondence of John Gasoline Smith, motorist-on-the-move, three days out from Paris and heading southward, westward, and a little east.

“On Thursday we got away to a good start from the town where we had slept and hit it up to about forty to forty-two an hour from 6.30 to 7.43, taking on gas only at the start, and filling up with twenty gallons. We calculate that in this country, which is hilly and rough, though the roads are good, we can’t get more than twelve out of a gallon. In the flat country, just out of Paris, we could easily get fourteen. The traction lift and the extra friction on the big hills makes a lot of difference. The wife and I find it mighty interesting to keep the figures and compare how many miles you can get out of a gallon in different parts of France. It gives a sort of diversity to the trip. In fact, we find that if you keep tab on your gasoline and your oil, and make a table of your mileage and figure out your day’s run in sections, it lends a great interest to the trip and prevents it from being monotonous.

“In France you soon learn the dodge of filling your tank right up, because at each station you are supposed to tip the man, and the tip is the same anyway. But we don’t mind the little stops anyway, because in France there is always something to study and look at, such as the way they set up their gas tanks, not a bit like ours and with a slower feed, and the much longer flexible pipe they use, so that you don’t need to drive off the road at all to get gas at the station.

“As I said to Lil, it is only when you travel that you really learn about a country. If we hadn’t taken this trip, I would never have known that in France they use a much more volatile gas than we do. It suits the climate better; and certainly the French climate is beautiful, with no danger of freezing up your radiator. In the French climate your oil never gets thick, but always runs nice and free and gets right to your bearings.

“Naturally, we are both picking up a lot of French, and can manage anything we want, such as, ‘Aves-vous de la gasoline?’ or ‘Combien chargez-vous pour gasoline ce matin?’ and ‘Voulez-vous avoir la bonte s’il vous plait de me donner un coup d’eau dans le radiator?’ and all the common, ordinary things like that.

“Coming down the valley of the big river here, which is called the Rhone, though at home we always heard of it as the Rhine, we struck quite a lot of bush and mountain country. But it didn’t matter, because the roads are all stone roads and the sight line is good, so that all you have to do is keep your eye on the road and go straight ahead.

“We made nearly 200 miles before lunch in spite of being held up for fifteen minutes by an old Roman town (the book said it was Roman), where the paving was so atrocious that we had two or three times to back out of a street again after getting started in it. However, we are getting wise to that game, and we find that when once you understand travel here you can avoid all the old towns by making a detour. Even if it takes you a few miles out of your direct way, it is well worth it.

“We got badly fooled, though, at a place called Nim, or Neam, or something like that, where we decided not to make a detour because we wanted to have a look at what we thought was a big new football stadium. It lost us about twenty-five minutes of our time and in the end the laugh was on us, because when we got nearer we saw it wasn’t a stadium at all, but just some sort of old ruin. We managed to avoid it before we got too close.

“We had lunch at a gasoline station. And then we got away on a clear stretch, and before the end of the day we had actually done 400 miles.

“We are reckoning that if we can do, say 250 miles a day from here, we can get clear to Spain by Thursday. I was suggesting to Lil that perhaps we could do better if we made a good part of our run after dark, when it’s cooler. There’s not much traffic in France after dark, and with good lights on your car you can see the road as clear as day, and that’s all you need to see.

“We are both fascinated with the trip and want very much to come again, if I can get away, and go over this same ground in winter. I’d like to see how the consumption of gasoline would compare in the colder weather. I’ve got an idea that the per mile cost of gasoline in France per ton of distance is away more than at home. It’s hard to reckon it out, as all the measurements are different. But I keep figuring on it in my head as we drive along.

“That’s another great thing about travel in Europe. It helps you to reflect. Often I fall into a regular reverie about it, and only wake up to hear a man saying, ‘Combien de gasoline, Monsieur?’ That’s the French for, ‘How much gasoline, boss?’ ”

Tommy and Milly at the Farm

The Old Version and the New


the original visit, as reported in any child’s picture book anno domini 1900

Last summer Milly and Tommy went to spend two weeks at the farm with Mr. and Mrs. Pan-cake. Both the children were very fond of an-i-mals and they loved to see the moo-cows come up into the yard to be milked by Mrs. Pan-cake. Farmer Pan-cake put Tommy on the back of Dobbin, the old horse, and at first Tommy was afraid, but soon he got to like it and called out, “Gee! Up! Dobbin.” Mrs. Pan-cake showed Milly how to feed the ducks in the duck pond, and when Milly called “Dill, Dill,” all the ducks said, “Quack, Quack. . . .”

And so on. This visit could be carried on to infinity.

But now compare the visit to the farm by another Tommy and Milly, descendants of the above, some thirty years later.

the visit of 1930

Milly and Tommy, on their arrival at the farm, were shown into the study of the farmer, who was at that moment rapidly dictating to a young man, evidently his secretary.

Mr. Pangelly—he had changed his name from Pan-cake some twenty years before—pushed back his office chair, rose and shook hands cordially with the children.

“I remember very well,” he said, “the visit of your father and mother thirty years ago, though I did not see them. I was a youngster then just entering a technical college and I was not at home.”

The two children were somewhat embarrassed at first in the presence of the tall distinguished farmer, whose clear-cut features, slightly pale from his indoor life, looked piercingly at them from behind his gold pince-nez.

Mr. Pangelly, however, did his best to put the children at their ease.

“And so you little folks want to have a look around the farm, eh?” he said. “Well, well! Let me see. Burns,” he added, turning to the young man, “what time have I?”

“You’ve a conference with the Coöperative Sellers Committee at ten, sir,” said the secretary, “and I think you ought to finish dictating the crop report——”

“What about after lunch?”

“I’m afraid, sir, you promised to go round the links, and you’ve only half an hour anyway.”

“Humph!” said Mr. Pangelly. Then he stood for a moment as if lost in thought, murmuring, “Yes, that report, of course, yes.” He had the strange abstracted manner of a man accustomed to large problems.

Then suddenly he seemed to come back to himself.

“No, no, Burns,” he said, “let it all wait. Come along, we’ll take the young people around right now. And what would you like to see first?”

“Oh?” cried Tommy, enthusiastically, “I’d like to see the horses!”

Mr. Pangelly smiled.

“I’m afraid we haven’t any,” he said. “Have we, Burns?” The secretary shook his head. “You see, Tommy, we don’t use horses any longer in the country. They’re only used a little bit in city parks and drives by people who have a fancy for them. Here, of course, we use machinery——”

“Then couldn’t we see the cows milked?” asked Milly, humbly.

“I’m afraid I must disappoint you again,” said the farmer. “The cows are milked now by electricity and it’s done in the middle of the night. But come along, we’ll have a look around anyway.”

Mr. Pangelly took his Panama hat and his stick from a rack in the hall. “Tell Stetson,” he said to Burns as they went out, “that I will be back in twenty minutes.”

Tommy and Milly were greatly impressed with the huge farm buildings with the vast stone and concrete lower stories and the sweeping roofs of tin, each barn as large as a cathedral. From the inside came the dull hum of machinery.

Tommy and Milly in their shady street in the city had never seen anything close at hand so vast and imposing.

Mr. Burns, the secretary, opened the door of one of the buildings and showed to the children the huge lifts and clutches that handled the grain and the traveling cranes that moved it into place.

Mr. Pangelly followed their gaze, in his abstracted way.

“Did we ever test out,” he said to the young man, “the cost per ton of those? I’ve a notion that the friction loss is a way too high.”

“Anderson says no, sir,” replied Burns; “he worked it out and says that the friction loss is very heavy, but even at that it’s a way more economical than man power.”

“Ah,” said Mr. Pangelly, and stood for a few minutes lost in thought. “Perhaps,” he muttered, “perhaps.”

Then remembering the children he said, suddenly—“Well, let’s come out into the fields.”

From the barns the children passed through a tall hedge of cedar and before them opened up the huge expanse of a grain field. Tommy had hitherto seen nothing larger than a city ball ground in the park and was amazed at the size of the great field.

“What’s that big machine going up and down, sir?” asked Tommy.

“That,” said Mr. Pangelly, “that’s a tractor; wait a little bit and it will come closer.”

“The principle of it,” continued the farmer, as the huge machine, dragging a phalanx of tearing plows, drew close to them, “is quite simple. It’s only one of the many applications of the explosive engine combined, or perhaps I ought to say coördinated with a singular device in traction.” Mr. Pangelly’s voice trailed off into a sort of dreamy reverie as he spoke. “A simple device and yet how long we waited for it—just like the disk harrow—the most obvious application of an eccentric—and nobody thought of it——”

As they walked back towards the house, Tommy said timidly: “I think I’d like to be a farmer, Mr. Pangelly, when I grow up.”

“Quite right,” said Mr. Pangelly, “quite right. Aim high, little man, aim high, and stick to it. Many a little fellow has thought as you do and then after all fell back to be a lawyer, a doctor——”

Then he relapsed into silence.

“I can’t believe that Anderson is right about the friction,” he said. Then remembering where he was, “Burns,” he said, “I’m afraid I must get back. Now will you take these little folks to Mrs. Randall and no doubt she’ll get them something to eat. I don’t remember what children of their age do eat. A little grapefruit? Or pâté, or something. Good-by.”

“Good-by, sir,” said Tommy and Milly, humbly.

The visit to the farm was at an end.

Life’s Little Inconsistencies

example no. i

The Up-to-date Students Take an Evening Off

They were sitting in their dormitory bed-smoking-study room—Gussie and Eddie—in the newly endowed million-door wing of their ten-million-dollar college.

Gussie had laid aside his ukulele and Eddie had given up the effort of trying to tune his mandolin.

“Have a cigarette,” said Gussie.

“Smoked them till I am sick of them,” answered Eddie.

“What in Hades can we do this evening?” said Gussie.

“I don’t know,” said Eddie with a yawn. “What about going to the pictures?”

“Sick of them,” said Gussie.

“There’s the sophomore play on to-night if we want to go to that.”

“I’m fed up with plays.”

“So am I. There’s a dance over at the Theta Beta Sorority.”

“Dance! I’ve been to ten this month.”

Gussie picked up the college newspaper and began looking up and down the columns.

“There’s a lecture in Founder’s Hall,” he said, “on Recent Progress in Science; want to go to that?”

Both the students laughed.

“Here’s another,” continued Gussie. “Meeting of the Astro-physical Society to discuss——”

“Oh, ditch it,” said Eddie.

“Well, I don’t see much else,” said Gussie. “There’s a reception by the senior year, we went to that last year, it’s hell.—There’s an uplift meeting of the Social Science Workers. There’s a debate at the Literary Society. There’s a motion picture show at the Geographical Club.—No, there doesn’t seem a thing to do.”

He yawned.

Both the students sat silent for a while.

Then suddenly Eddie became animated.

“I tell you!” he exclaimed, “I’ve got a whale of an idea. Let’s study! Let’s spend the evening right here and study! Eh, what!”

Gussie looked up.

“Right you are, Eddie,” he said, “you’ve said a mouthful. Got any books? Hold on, I’ve got some mathematics books there in the trunk packed with my winter underclothes. Attaboy! We’ll spend the evening just studying. However did you come to think of it?”

example no. ii

The Golf Club Members Brighten Up Their Afternoon

“Care to play bridge this afternoon?” asked the first member of the second.

“Too hot,” he answered drowsily.

Then they continued resting in the leather chairs of the lounge, gently breathing cigar smoke.

They had chosen a particularly comfortable corner of one of the fifteen lounge rooms of the More-Than-a-Million Golf Club. From the windows their eyes could roam over two hundred acres of woodland landscape diversified with brilliant greens and elevated tees. But they didn’t need to look that way. In fact, by telling one of the attendants to close the windows they needn’t see the course at all. The excellent acoustics of the building kept out all noise of any game.

“Don’t want a game of tennis, do you?” said the second member presently.

“I don’t think so, rather too much exertion.”

“It is, in a way. What about a dip in the swimming pool?”

“Oh, thanks, a little later it might be all right; rather too early in the afternoon now.”

“It is. But there doesn’t seem a dashed thing to do.”

There was another pause.

“Might play billiards, if you like.”

“Thanks, I was playing most of the morning.”

“I’ll tell you what I’ll do if you like,” said the first member, with the sudden enthusiasm of a man with an idea. “Come out on the links and I’ll play you a round of golf. What do you say?”

The other hesitated, attracted and yet wavering.

“The trouble is,” he said, “I’ve never played.”

“Oh, that doesn’t matter. Very few of the members play. Come on. We’ll have a game of golf, just for fun.”

example no. iii

The Nature-Writer Seeks Rest

“I’m tired, tired, devilish tired,” said the Nature-Writer, looking up from his table in the sun-and-air room of his Log Cabin in the Woods. “I get so cramped up here. There’s no space—no room to breathe. These everlasting woods all around and the racket of that river and the birds, and at night that whippoorwill! I can’t stand it!”

“I know,” murmured his wife. “I feel it, too, you know, though I haven’t liked to complain. One does feel so terribly shut in.”

“Listen, Emma,” exclaimed the Nature-Writer, throwing down his pens and paper. “Go and call up the railway station and get a compartment on that fast train that comes past this place at 2.30 in the morning; then call New York and get a room at the Biltmont, get seats for the Midnight Foolishness, and get a supper table at any of the good three-o’clock-in-the-morning clubs.—I need rest and quiet and I’m going to get it.”

example no. iv

The Farmer Learns English

“Gee!” said the college professor of English to the Farmer, “this is certainly a pretty lay-out. I’ll say it is!”

“Yes,” answered the farmer, “we like to think that this view from our veranda is really quite as beautiful as any landscape could be. My wife often compares it to Versailles.”

They were sitting together after supper on the veranda at Meadowbrook Farm, where the college professor of English had just arrived as a summer boarder.

“It’s certainly a peach, all right,” said the professor.

“I like it especially,” the farmer went on, “when the sun sets and the twilight steals over it all. It gives one a sort of hushed feeling—I can’t express it—but something almost reverential.”

“I know what you mean,” said the professor, “it gets your goat.”

“I try in vain to think beyond it, to penetrate into the deeper mystery behind.”

“And it beats you to it,” murmured the professor sympathetically.

“At any rate,” concluded the farmer as they rose presently to go inside, “I am very glad and very much honored to have you here. I want my son to go to your college, with English as his special subject, and now that you are here, I’ll have a chance to talk it all over.”

“Oh, send him to us,” assented the professor cheerfully. “We’ll learn it him all right.”

New Words—New Things

“Pardon me,” said the Aged Man. “Where did you say you come from?”

“I am a Lat,” said the Youth.

“A which?”

“A Lat.”

“Pray pardon me again. I meant what country do you come from?”

“I knew you meant that. I come from Latvia.”

“You will excuse me,” said the Aged Man, “but my memory perhaps grows weak. I have lived entirely out of the world since 1901, the first year of this century. I do not seem to recall your country. Where is it?”

“It is east of Czechoslovakia,” replied the Youth.

“Of what?”

“Of Czechoslovakia.”

“And where is that? I do not seem to know it.”

“It is almost directly North of Yugoslavia.”

The Aged Man, more than ever distressed at the apparent loss of his memory since his retirement, paused and was silent a moment; then he resumed.

“Are you under an emperor,” he asked, “or under a prince?”

“We are a republic, but we are not a Soviet.”

“Not what?”

“A Soviet. In fact, we are far indeed from being Bolsheviks.”


“From being Bolsheviks. As a matter of fact, in our country we are much closer to being Fascisti than Bolsheviki.”

“Are you?” murmured the Aged Man feebly. Unable to comprehend anything of the Youth’s nation or national status, he proceeded to shift the conversation.

“And how did you happen to come to America?” he asked.

“Well,” replied the Youth, “in the first place, I was lucky enough to get on the quota.”

“The what?”

“The quota. You see the quota for Latvia is very seldom full. We are much luckier than Esthonia and Lithuania and Czechoslovakia. So I was able to get in.”

“I see,” murmured the Aged Man. But he didn’t. “And tell me, how did you come to think of migrating to America?”

“Oh,” replied the Youth casually, “I had got a great idea of the United States.”

“Ah, yes,” assented the Aged Man, glad at last to comprehend, “I understand. You had read a great deal about it.”

“No, I never read a word about it in my life.”

“But how then——”

“Oh, mostly in the Movies.”

“The what?”

“The Movies. I saw a scenario with a lot of skyscrapers in it. At that time, of course, we let in American films and were glad to get them, and this was a beautiful ten-reel film, one of the best films I ever saw on the screen——”

“Movies, films, screens,” murmured the Aged Man, putting his hand to his head. “I fear you must excuse me. As I explained to you when we met, I have lived for the last twenty-eight years as a missionary, entirely out of the world, among the Kalmuks beyond Yakutsk. I fear that perhaps the isolation has impaired my mental faculties. I do not seem to comprehend a word that you say.”

“No, no,” objected the Youth politely. “The fault is no doubt mine. I was explaining myself badly. I only meant that I was first attracted to the idea of America by the cinema.”

“The cinema?”

“Yes, by the cinematograph. That first attracted me; not only the skyscraper films, but a lot of scenarios. As a matter of fact, Hollywood itself has a wonderful attraction, I think. It is so absolutely American. Don’t you agree with me?”

“No doubt,” murmured the Aged Man. “And this flim that you speak of——”

“Film, sir,” corrected the Youth.

“This film with skyscrapers—I understand that, at least. It means a building ten stories high—it attracted you?”

The Youth laughed.

“To be frank,” he said, “it wasn’t only skyscrapers. There was a flapper, a typical American flapper.”

“A flapper?”

“Yes, a flapper. In the scenario the flapper was in a cafeteria——”

“It was where?”

“In a cafeteria: though we’d call them ‘She,’ sir, not it. The flapper was in a cafeteria—I mean in the beginning of the scenario, and there were a lot of guys sitting round and one lobster undertook to get fresh——”

“Stop! Stop!” pleaded the old man. “Were they eating the flapper?”

“No, no. The crowd would have eaten up the lobster.”

“Alas!” said the Aged Man, “I am quite lost. My brain, I realize, is a wreck. I don’t follow the story at all.”

“The fault again is entirely mine,” said the Youth. “If you don’t mind, I’ll explain it more properly and then you’ll understand it all right.”

“Ah, yes, pray do. Tell it from the beginning.”

“Well, you see the flapper in the story was the daughter of a bootlegger——”

“A what?”

“A bootlegger. Only, of course, no one knew that he was a bootlegger. To the outer world he was a very rich man, a refiner of gasoline, and the owner of a chain of garages and motor repair shops. That, of course, was merely in order to camouflage his real business—I think that is all clear, isn’t it?”

The old man gave something between a sigh and a groan, but he murmured. “Go on——”

“Very good. Well, naturally, being a bootlegger, or rather the head of a gang of bootleggers, this rich man was in direct contact with a good many rum-runners——”

“Rum—what? But never mind, go on.”

“Rum-runners; and somehow things began to get over to the ears of the prohibition officers——”

“The which?”

“The federal prohibition officers. And they learned that some one was running a power launch in and out of New York itself clear beyond the twelve-mile limit to the rum fleet. Do you understand?”

“Yes, yes, partly,” murmured the Aged Man.

“So they decided to get a fast airplane to try to——”

“To get a what?”

“A fast airplane—or to be more exact a hydroplane—you know what that is.”

“I fear that I have forgotten.”

“Well, it doesn’t matter; just picture to yourself an ordinary biplane with pontoon skids——”

“I’ll try to,” murmured the Aged Man.

“And they engaged an aviator who had been a famous ace——”

“A famous what?”

“An ace.—I beg your pardon, perhaps you don’t understand.—I simply mean an expert aviator in the service of the United States. Now it so happened that this very aviator the afternoon he was appointed to the job met the flapper; she was a débutante, who was the daughter of the rich bootlegger. He met her in a palm room——”

“In Honolulu?”

“No, no, in New York. He saw her tangoing with a friend of his.”

“Doing what?”

“Tangoing. It’s rather gone out now. You’d understand it better if I said doing the Charleston.”

“The what?”

“The Charleston, you know, the Black Bottom. I don’t understand these American dances very well myself, and, of course, when I saw it all in a film in Latvia, I only partly understood it. Anyway, this lobster, I mean the airman, saw the flapper dancing to the jazz music——”

The Aged Man put up his hand with a gesture of despair. “I fear that I cannot follow it—Airmen, jazz, lobsters, flappers, biplane!—I cannot understand it. Tell me very simply how it all ended.”

“Oh, naturally,” laughed the Youth, “it all ends happily enough. The girl learns through the indiscretion of the airman that her father is in danger and that they have set up a radio from the rum patrol to——”

“Set up a what from where?”

“A radio, a wireless.—Just an ordinary receiver with a high-power transmitter with the antenna carefully hidden.”

“Oh, I see.”

“But the girl has a radio at the top of her father’s house and she listens in because she has learned to tune her wave length.”

The Aged Man sank into a half collapse.

“Tell me only how it ends at the very end. I suppose they get married, don’t they? The world can’t have changed as much as that?”

“Married! Heavens, no! They get divorced! You see, I forgot to explain. They were both married at the start of the story only——”

“Stop!” said the Aged Man, rising with a renewed firmness in his limbs. “You need tell me no more. I am going.”


“Yes, back among the Kalmuks. At least there, a thousand miles even from Yakutsk, I am safe from this modern incomprehensible world of radios and rum fleet, movies and wave lengths. I shall go back——”

Where did you say?” said the Youth. “What was that place you named?”


“Yakutsk! Why, how odd. I saw the name of that place in the afternoon paper I was reading when you came in. Let me see, yes, here is the item:—‘Will fly to Yakutsk. Expedition will start in dirigibles for Yakutsk with a view to develop the deposits of radium said to be available about 1,000 miles to northeast. They will be equipped with wireless, and will carry not only collapsible hydroplane, but also interchangeable submarine parts and——’ ”

But the Aged Man had fainted.

More Messages from Mars

A Personal Encounter with the First Martian Across

For some little time back it has become only too evident that we are on the brink of getting into communication with planet Mars.

Everybody knows that Mars is a planet just like our own. It is only forty million—or forty billion—miles away.

During this very winter the most distinguished of British mathematical astronomers has assured the press that there is life on Mars; that the conditions are such that there cannot fail to be life there. At the same time a London medical scientist, an expert in radio communication, has announced the receipt of actual messages from the planet.

The announcement has been followed by similar news from other quarters, of messages partly radioactive, and partly telepathic, messages which of course were imperfect and at times undecipherable, but still, from their very content, undoubtedly messages. To those who have the will to believe and who have not hardened their understanding into skepticism, the thing is achieved. Communication has begun.

Messages have been coming across the gulf of forty million—or forty billion—miles of empty space. I confess that I, like many other people, have been following every development with the greatest interest, an interest that has amounted almost to absorption.

But till just the other evening I should never have dreamed that it would be my individual good fortune to come into contact with an actual Martian, the first, so I am entitled to believe, who ever made his way to the surface of the globe.

Where I met him was at the dark end of a railway platform, in the night, at a lost railway junction, where trains meet and go on.

He sat there alone, huddled up in the dark against an express truck. The very outline of him told me that there was something strange about him, and yet I don’t know why. His figure was frail, but certainly human; his clothes queerly cut, but yet not so very different from ours. No, there was nothing external, but merely something psychic, to tell me that he was a being different from the common terrestrial kind.

He spoke.

“Is there a train south?” he said. His voice was the voice of a person framing the syllables to be understood. But the words were English and the sounds at least intelligible.

At the sudden sound of his voice I had not been able to restrain a start for which I apologized.

“I beg your pardon,” I said. “I am afraid you startled me; to tell the truth, I was lost in thought. I was thinking of the Martians.”

“Martians?” he said. “That’s me. I am a Martian.”

“A Martian!” I exclaimed. “Great heavens, a Martian! From Mars? But how did you get here?”

“I wish I knew,” he said. “I’m from back there all right,” and he pointed his thumb over his shoulder to the south, to where the planet Mars glowed red just above the horizon. “But as to how I got here, with all these trains and things, I’ve lost all track of it.”

“Poor fellow,” I reflected, “he doesn’t understand.” I knew, of course, from what our leading scientists have told us that he had come to this earth by a process that will one day be as familiar as the passage of light and radioacting. He had been disembodied and sent over.

I could have explained to him, in a rough and ready sort of way, that his atomic structure had been broken loose and sent across the gulf of empty space and then had reassembled itself on this planet. Five minutes ago, so I could have told him, he was in Mars. But it seemed cruel to mention it. Those who had sent him over could reassemble him again, and bring him back—full of territorial information.

Even at the present stage of our scientific development there is no mystery in this; nothing but the need of the further elaboration of processes already known.

I determined, while there was still time, to make full use of him.

“There is no train south,” I said, “for over half an hour. But tell me about the Martians.”

“About the Martians,” he repeated. “What about them?”

“Yes,” I said, “about their life, how they live and what it feels like and what they do and what they think about things.”

The Man from Mars seemed amazed and puzzled at the question. “What they do and what they think?” he repeated. “Why—much like any other people, I guess.”

I realized that of course this extraordinary being, the denizen of another world, could have no idea that he was extraordinary. He took himself and his Martian world for granted.

I decided to approach things more gently.

“Have the Martians,” I asked, “ever heard of Mr. Hoover?”

“Of Mr. Hoover!” he answered with surprise. “Why, what do you take us for? Of course we have. We had the radio for a long time before the elections.”

I hadn’t realized that of course our terrestrial radio messages had reached the planet Mars as easily, or almost as easily, as they encircle our little globe. I saw myself on the brink of wonderful information.

“Wait a minute,” I said, “till I get out a note book. Even in this imperfect light I can jot down what you tell me. Now then, what are the principal things that the Martians are discussing, or were discussing when you left?”

“Well—prohibition——” he said.

“And what is their feeling about it?”

“Most of them think it a good thing in the business sense, but a lot of them think it would be better still if a man could get a good drink when he really needs it. As we see it in Mars,” he pronounced the name of his planet with a peculiar lisp, “the real solution would be some way of having total prohibition with honest enforcement and good liquor.”

I wrote it all down.

“What do they think about the women’s vote?” I asked.

“Oh, we’ve accepted that long ago,” the Martian said. “There’s no question of going back on their having the vote; the only trouble is that they seem to be using it too much.”

“Do the Martians,” I asked, “know anything about the question of the United States building a big navy?”

“Oh, sure,” he answered, “we all say that the United States needs a navy big enough to guarantee peace by licking all the European nations one after the other.”

“It is amazing,” I said, as I wrote his answers down, “what you Martians know about our big question. What about the St. Lawrence Waterways scheme?”

“We’re all for it,” answered the Martian. “We think it a good idea. It will help the Middle West.”

“And what are they saying over there about Church Union in the United States?”

“We ourselves,” he replied, “are about evenly divided among Methodists and Baptists and Presbyterians. But we think that union is coming. But I tell you——” He broke off with something like impatience. “Naturally, we don’t spend most of our time talking over things like that. We are more interested in our own local concerns, the things that interest ourselves——”

“Of course, of course,” I said, “tell me about those.”

“Well, you see, just at this time of year there are the hockey matches every Saturday, and they draw a big crowd; and then there’s a good deal of excitement over the question of the new post office, and this coming week we are to take a vote on having a new radial railway to Philadelphia——”

“To where?” I exclaimed.

“To Philadelphia. Why not?”

A feeling of uncertainty began to come over me.

“Excuse me,” I said, “you are a Martian, are you not?”

“Certainly,” he said, “I am.”

“From Mars?”

“Not Mars,” he corrected me, “Marsh. It’s in Chester County, Pennsylvania, just a little place, but you seemed to have heard of it. Though how I got mixed up on these trains and got away up here is more than I can tell.”

“And this information,” I said, “that you’ve been giving me is not from the Martians of the Planet Mars but from the Marshians of Marsh, Pennsylvania?”

“Sure,” he answered.

“Well, never mind,” I said, as I turned away, “from all I’ve seen of the Martian communications from Mars up to now they are not any different from yours. That’s your train pulling in now. Good night.”

Portents of the Future

Various recent events have brought again in the forefront of public attention the whole question of clairvoyance, of prophecy, and of the power of the human mind to interpret the portents of the future.

Indeed, it is a topic of which the interest is as continual and unending as in life itself.

The subject is not one on which I should care under any ordinary circumstances to have anything to say. My own opinions are certainly free from all prejudice, leaning, I trust, neither to being credulous nor to being impervious to conviction.

If I were inclined to hold an opinion in either direction, I fear that I should incline to skepticism rather than to belief.

But it happened to be my lot very recently to be brought into contact with a variety of facts, or rather, with a variety of narratives of facts, of such a nature that I cannot refrain from allowing myself to act as an intermediary through whom they may be conveyed to the reading public.

I may say that all of the persons concerned (whose names, for obvious reasons, I withhold) are personally known to me and have been known to me this long while.

None of them are capable of any fraud or deceit in the matters concerned, and no one of them has ever occupied the position of a professional medium or clairvoyant.

In other words, in what I am about to relate there can be no suspicion of bad faith or deceit; there might, of course, be errors of observation or lapses of memory. But the essential truthfulness of the narration cannot be gainsaid.

What happened took place around the fire after a pleasant dinner-party in which eight or ten persons, all old friends, had participated.

I do not recall just what had turned our thoughts toward the supernatural; it may easily have been something in recent press dispatches. But my memory is inexact.

At any rate, it was our host, X, who spoke first. I ought, perhaps, to state that X is not my host’s name, nor does that letter, it is only fair to add, enter into his name in any way.

I merely select it as one of the letters of the alphabet less apt, perhaps, to arouse curiosity and to stimulate conjecture than the more usual letters of the alphabet.

It was X then who spoke first:

x speaks

“What you were just saying reminds me,” he said, “of a very striking case of clairvoyance, or vision of the future, that came under my own immediate observation.

“In fact, it concerned one of the partners in my own firm. My partner, whom I will call merely J, came to the office one day in what was evidently a very depressed condition. Indeed, I was struck with his appearance at once.

“I asked him if he was ill, and he answered that he was not in any way ill, but that he was suffering from an overwhelming conviction that something was about to happen. We all did our best to laugh him out of what seemed merely a foolish fancy, but it was of no avail.”

“And what happened?” we asked eagerly.

“Nothing that day,” said X, “nor indeed for some little while after. But exactly a month later, or, to be still more precise, exactly one month and three days later, J’s wife received a letter from India stating that a gentleman whom they had both met on a steamer, and whom J and Mrs. J both remembered quite well, had lost his job in the Bank of Bombay.”

peculiar experience of y’s brother

There was a moment of silence at the sudden and tragical ending of X’s story. Then another of the guests, whom I will merely designate as Y, spoke in turn.

“I do not doubt for a moment that what you say is true, especially as I can quote a very similar case that happened in my own family; in fact to one of my own brothers.”

“What was that?” asked several of us eagerly.

“It happened last year at the time of the spring races,” continued Y, “and the person concerned, I mean the person who had the presentiment was my brother George, or perhaps I had better call him merely J.”

“Don’t call him J,” interrupted one of the group. “X’s friend was called J.”

“Very well,” said Y, “I will call my brother G, and will mention that he, G, was at the time to which I refer in Toronto and on his way to the Woodbine Races, or perhaps I had better say he was in T and on his way to the W. Races, or, if you like, to the W. R.

“I happened to meet him, and it seemed to me that he was deeply depressed. ‘Where are you going, G?’ I inquired. ‘To the W. R.,’ he answered, and I’ve got a peculiar presentiment (I think G said “Hunch”) that I am going to get stung.’ I learned later that he went to the races and immediately lost a bet, in dollars, at two hundred to one.”

“Lost two hundred dollars!” we all exclaimed.

“No,” corrected Y, “lost a dollar.”

amazing story by mrs. z

There was a silence for some time after the completion of Y’s narrative, each of us no doubt being engaged in puzzling over the strange case of clairvoyance, or prevoyance, that he had related.

When our conversation was resumed, it was one of the ladies of the group who spoke first. The lady in question, the wife of one of those present (whom I may call Z) and whose wife, therefore, may be designated for our present purpose as Mrs. Z, was an old and valued friend of several of those around the fire.

She was in no way addicted to idle fancies, and was distinguished rather by her matter-of-fact common sense than by a tendency to over-belief. There can, therefore, be no reason to doubt in any way the entire truthfulness of what she told me, incredible though it seems.

“I sometimes think,” began Mrs. Z, “that we women are perhaps endowed with keener faculties towards insight into the future than you men.”

There was a pause of several minutes, after which Mrs. Z continued:

“I certainly have known one case of clairvoyance that made the deepest impression upon my mind, especially as it concerned the most impressive of all portents, the portent of death itself.”

There was a still longer pause, half as long again as the first one, and then Mrs. Z continued once more:

“I had a very dear friend,” she said, “whom I will call G——”

“I beg your pardon,” said Y quietly. “I must apologize for interrupting, but we agreed to call my brother G.”

“Pray excuse me,” murmured Mrs. Z. “I fear I was lost in my recollections. Suppose, then, that I call my friend M.”

There was a general murmur of assent and then a pause, and then Mrs. Z went on:

“M from her girlhood up, and down, had always been of a highly-strung psychic temperament, much addicted to vivid dreams and profound introspection. Meeting her one day on the street, dressed as if for a journey, I was surprised to learn that she was leaving for Europe immediately. What was my further astonishment when M told me that she had a profound conviction that she was going to be taken ill on the steamer and die on board ship.”

A murmur of something like horror went round the little group.

“And she died on the way?” asked X.

“No,” said Mrs. Z, “that was the strange part of the portent. She reached England safely, spent the summer there, and then after the summer embarked on a ship for Stockholm, in Sweden.”

“And died on board!” we gasped.

“No, got to Stockholm, where she spent the winter.”

Mrs. Z paused. We all waited without speaking, conscious in some way that a tragedy was coming. At length Mrs. Z resumed:

“From Stockholm my friend took a boat for Dantzig, in Germany.”

“And died on it!” we all exclaimed.

“No, she got to Dantzig. And then oddly one day she took a small canal boat for a mere passage of a few hours to Hootch, in Poland.”

No one spoke for some time, and then Y asked very quietly, “Did she die on the canal boat?”

“No,” said Mrs. Z, “she did not.”

After which Mrs. Z fell into a deep silence which we did not care to disturb.

extraordinary experience of q

We therefore remained silent for some time, and indeed it was not until the stillness had grown almost painful that Mr. Q, a young married member of the circle, at length broke the silence. I ought, perhaps, to add that his name is not really Q.

“I suppose,” began Q, “that most of you have the usual prejudice against paid mediums and clairvoyants, and people who undertake for money to read the secrets of the future.”

A murmur that might have been either dissent or assent (or anything else) went around the auditors.

“What about it?” said X firmly.

“Well, at any rate,” said Q, “I always had such a prejudice and had it very strongly till it got rudely shaken a few years ago—shortly after our marriage, in fact.”

“Tell us the circumstances,” we all exclaimed with immediate interest, our faculties instantly alert.

“They were these,” said Q. “My wife and I were newly married, and there were certain things about our future that we were most anxious to find out. We went to a professional medium, Madame Zend Avesta, a Persian, I believe, though she spoke English as well as I do. I saw from her card in a magazine, however, that she was a native of Ispahan, and had been second assistant prognosticator to the Shah.”

There was a pause. No one felt inclined to urge Q to begin again, but presently he began.

“This woman actually told us some of the most extraordinary things. She foretold that I would be moved by my firm to Milwaukee, that I would get an increase of salary, that an uncle would leave me ten thousand dollars—in fact, a heap of things.”

We literally held our breath at these staggering disclosures from Mr. Q.

“Yes,” he continued, “we went right to Madame Avesta and put the questions to her. They were a dollar a question, and naturally we had thought them out pretty carefully. I first said to her:

“ ‘My firm talks of moving me to Milwaukee. Am I going there?’

“ ‘Yes,’ she answered without a second’s hesitation.

“I gave her a dollar. ‘Uncle John,’ I said, ‘always promised to leave me ten thousand dollars. He died in New Orleans a week ago. Has he done it?’

“ ‘He has,’ she answered.

“I was so amazed and astounded at the evident ease of her clairvoyance that, after paying her another dollar, I ventured to put a question of even more moment.

“ ‘Our manager, Mr. Niel,’ I explained, ‘promised me before last Christmas that I would have an increase of $1,000 a year this coming spring. Do I get it?’

“ ‘You do,’ she said.

“We asked her in all about twenty-five questions before we desisted, which we did not do until our money ran out and Madame Avesta said that her contact was weakening.”

“And did the prophecies come true?” asked several of us breathlessly—in fact, we had not recovered our breath since Q began.

“Most of them,” said Q, “or, at any rate, without exaggeration I should say that fifty per cent., or something very close to it, turned out to be absolutely correct.”

A long silence followed the conclusion of Q’s relation. After which we rose quietly one by one, groped our way out of the house, and then groped home as best we could.

Rural Urbanity

Showing How the Country is Now Certified Citified

About a generation ago the country newspaper was an unfailing source of merriment for the city people. There were columns of personal news items from such places as Price’s Corners and East Pefferlaw, which announced that Miss Posie Possum was over Sunday with her grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Hamcake; that Edward Falls was back around town for a week Sunday (good boy, Ed! come again), and that some of our young people were over to Fesserton Friday, where a good time was had by all.

There was the description of the tea social held in the meeting-house on the town line, where forty-two people sat down to forty-two buckets of strawberries with forty-two quarts of ice cream, the pastor being untiring in his efforts, after which Cherry Blossom recited Hiawatha’s farewell to Mudgekewiss and a collection was taken in silver by Miss Phœbe Floss, aged 12.

There was the entertainment in the schoolhouse and—but there is no need to enumerate all these things. Everybody has read of them or has read parodies of them.

The point is, however, that all this is entirely changed. What with the motor-car and the rural telephone, hydro-electric power and the radio, the normal school and the speedway and the community movement, the farmers’ Rotary Club and the Farm Girls’ Social Improvement Circle, the country has become quite unrecognizable.

It is more citified than the city itself, and the only country left is in the immediate suburbs of the city where they keep hens in Maplewood and grow garden peas in Floraldale and have a local paper that likes to talk of the weather and the chance of raising ducks in the pond in the park.

But as for the country itself, you have only to compare the local press of the parody days, say in 1898, and the up-to-date local press of 1930. Put together, for example, side by side, the columns of the Midge’s Corners Sentinel and Advocate, 1898, and the columns of the paper into which it has developed by merging with three other Sentinels and two other Advocates under the name of the Midge’s Corners Metropolitan.

rural transports

1898. We noticed Wednesday friend Ed Wildman out for a spin with a lady friend in his new top buggy. We have seldom seen anything that struck us as daintier or cleaner.

1930. We observed with interest on Wednesday afternoon our friend Mr. Edward Wildman, Junior, trying out a circling flight in his new two-seater monoplane.

Mr. Wildman was accompanied by a lady passenger, who seemed thoroughly to enjoy the exhilarating and exciting sport. They effected their landing on the top of Joe Thompson’s new barn, which has been adapted for the purposes of an aerodrome. We congratulate the young people in helping to encourage aeronautics in this section. We are informed that it is in the air that the aeronautic society of the Corners will soon put up an aerodrome, the need for which is felt by all the farming community.

personal items

1898. Charlie Neal was around all last week, looking pretty spry. Charlie still has work in the city and tells us he is making big money. Well done, Charlie!

1930. We were glad to observe Mr. Charles Neal, the financier, as a visitor last week to this district, once his boyhood home. We understand that Mr. Neal is now planning a merger of the United States Steel Corporation with the principal European steel interests. We are certain that he will receive warm local support.

vagrants in trouble

1898. Two of our boys from the Corners, Archie Riddell and Joe Thayer, got safely back from the City to-day after a pretty hard experience. Archie and Joe lost their cash to a stranger, found themselves stranded with nowhere to go and with no knowledge of the city. Being naturally ignorant of where to look for help, the boys might have fared badly but for the kind offices of a city constable who got the boys safely on their home train. Our advice to our young people is to keep away from the city till they are of sufficient years and experience to be able to go there without risk.

1930. Two unfortunate youths from the city found their way somehow to the Corners yesterday. They seem to have been mere immigrant youngsters acquainted only with the city and ignorant of everything. Some smart young local slicker, it seems, had relieved them of their cash. Quite unable to look after themselves, having never been out of the city, they might have fared badly but for the kind offices of our local constable, who put them on the train for the city. Our advice to young people in the city is they should not attempt to leave it until they reach years of experience.



The Editor,

The Midge’s Corners Sentinel and Advocate.

Dear Sir:

I think that some of your readers need to be reminded that the culvert on the fourth concession is still not yet fixed right and more than one team has been through the top of it, endangering the horses’ legs, to say nothing perhaps of human life. Now, Mr. Editor, I think it is high time our people showed more public spirit in a thing like this culvert, which is a public danger. Mr. Nath. Gordon, as all know, has offered time and again to set it straight either on time and material or for money, and so far our Solons of the township council have done nothing about it. I think, sir, that if the farmers of the section would pay a little less interest to their own concerns and a little more to general interests of the world such as this culvert, it would be a good thing. Thanking you for the esteemed use of your valued space.



The Editor,

The Midge’s Corners Metropolis.

Dear Sir:

The rather meager attendance at the Open Forum debate over the grocery on the League of Nations seems to show a lamentable lack of public spirit in this community. The failure of Poland to give a proper guarantee for the status quo of the Dantzig corridor is a matter that ought not to be complacently accepted by the people of our district. Most of our farmers, I am certain, are not in favor of a Polish sovereignty over an enclave of non-Slavonic groups, but if so they ought to speak out more definitely. I hope that this section will soon let the world know what it thinks.

the crops and the weather

1898. Josh Peters says that the signs are for a bumper crop in this section as soon as the warm spell opens up. There is less fur on the chipmunks, so Josh tells us, and less tail on the woodchucks than for many seasons, and the tail feathers of the crows are thinning out already. All this points to hot, dry weather and a good growing season. Tell us some more, Josh.

1930. Mr. Josiah Peterson has just prepared an interesting statistical forecast of the grain crop of this section, printed in another column of this paper, and based on an index average covering the last twenty years, with 1913 as the base. The humidity curve on Mr. Peterson’s chart shows a high upward tendency, with an average barometric pressure of over 94 per cent. Mr. Peterson estimates the world price of wheat at $1.51 cents, with a crop of 21.58 bushels to the acre, omitting, however, the Argentine and Soviet Russia, for both of which his calculations fall short of certainty.


1898. The school concert last week was voted by all a success. Miss Posie McPhee sang “Pull for the Shore, Sailor,” and Miss Ettie Tomlinson sang “Yes, We Will Gather at the River.” Both were encored and both sang their songs again, the conclusion being applauded by all present.

1930. The Ladies’ Every Other Morning Club held its second Chamber Music Recital yesterday in the school house, presenting an excellent program, both vocal and instrumental. Miss Posie McPhee’s singing of “O! Qual Orrore!” and her interpretation of “O! Quel Inferno!” scored a decided hit, while the rendition of Handel’s “Largo” in nine flats by Miss Ettie Tomlinson on the pianoforte was decidedly one of the triumphs of the local musical season. If we may venture a criticism, we would say that possibly the Price’s Corners’ quartet in presenting Braga’s “Serenata” took the aria with a little too much brio, a fault that further experience will easily rectify.

foreign news

1898. A letter has reached us all the way from London, England, where Ed. Farrell reached safely last month after a voyage across the entire Atlantic. Ed. says that London is a great place. Mr. Farrell arrived there on the 10th ult. and his letter, dated on the 15th, arrived here yesterday. In another column we publish his description of the interior of Westminster Abbey as seen from the outside.

1930. The news that Mussolini has a cold, posted on the grocery window, attracted quite a crowd last night. Considerable expressed alarm.


All Up!

Average Life at the Average College, as Gathered from the Pages of Any College Daily at Any Alma Mater


Monday, First of the Month. Extracts from the Daily Ding Dong, Alma Mater College.

All up, Boys, for the big basket-ball game to-night. We want to see every man turn out and root and shout for Alma Mater. Remember, this is the first big game there has been for ten days, and there will be no other for over a week. Every man up! We want every man who has proper college spirit to be right there in the grand stand, rooting. You can buy right on the spot a program that will tell you who the players are, and how the game is played, and how to know which side is which. All up!

But at the same time:——

Don’t forget that before the game begins you have time to come and hear the Banjo and Mandolin Semi-Final Tryout in Hoot-It-Up Hall. All free, no charge. Remember that the Banjo Club and the Mandolin League need support. These things can’t live on mere love of music. They need enthusiasm, they need rooting, they need support. They need you. One dollar a year from every student at Alma Mater will buy a banjo for every man in the fourth year.

But, remember, best of all! Everybody up for the big all-alma-mater sorority and frat feed right after the big basket-ball game! Buy your flowers early, as the College Chrysanthemum Shop reports a big run already. We want to see everybody at this feed and dance! It will be the last dance but two before the final three. Don’t miss it! All up!

We call your attention also to our advertising columns under the head of where to go after the dance. Do you want a cozy feed for a dozen or so at a table and a high-class cabaret show? Drop in at the Students’ Alma Mater Union. Cover charge, only two dollars.

So ends Monday.

Tuesday, Second of the Month. The Daily Ding Dong Speaks Again.

We hope that all students will duly turn out at 11.00 a.m. to exercise their privilege of voting for the new members of the Students’ Government League. The different faculties have suspended all lectures for the day in order to enable students to vote at eleven o’clock. Get in early. It is the duty of every student to remember that all the activities of college life ought to be his earnest concern. Don’t miss any. On page four you can see who the candidates are and what the Government League is. But come anyway. There will be student ushers who will tell you how to vote.

Also—for those who have voted——

free exhibition of conjuring

All student voters are invited at 11.30 to come into Hoot-It-Up Hall and see a free exhibition of conjuring given for the benefit of the students by Signor Ninni the distinguished Italian conjurer now appearing at the Star Theater. What we need at Alma Mater is all-around culture. Conjuring is just as much a part of the student’s work as mathematics or football. All up!

And don’t forget——

Later in the day at 3.00 p.m.students’ annual esquimo dog race, followed at 4.00 p.m. by grand reception by the lock and key society to the visiting delegate from the ojibway indian reservation technical school.

Wednesday, Third of the Month. More Extracts from the Daily Ding Dong.

Fellow students! To-night is the big night—the one night in the year. Leave aside all books for this one evening and turn out for the alma mater follies. The performance is staged for 8.00 in the Alma Mater Theater and runs till 1.00 a.m. Tickets $5.00 a seat and up.

All reports say that the Follies this year will be bigger, brighter, and brainier than in any year before. Special features this year include a buck and wing clog dance by the Trustees of Alma Mater, champion mouth organ solo by the Dean of Research, and a huge ensemble chorus composed of all the girls worth looking at in Alma Mater. All up!

Thursday, Fourth of the Month. The Daily Speaks for the Fourth Time.

We regret that in our yesterday’s number we omitted to give adequate publicity to the joint meeting of the Mathematical and Economic Societies to hold a joint debate on “How to Make Money Out of the Stock Exchange.” We are glad to learn that the meeting was in any case a crowded one.

Lack of space prevented us from giving more than a passing announcement of the annual meeting of the Students’ Rod and Gun Club, of the Students’ Deep Sea Travel Association, the Bridge and Poker Club, the Night Off Society, and the Rest from Study Association.

To-day the Daily earnestly hopes that every student of Alma Mater will turn out to see the final All-Continent Ping Pong Match between Alma Mater and the University of Tugugigalpa, Honduras. Alma Mater will be represented by Ted Swatgood, who has done more to put Alma Mater over at Ping Pong than any student alive or deserving to live. Tugugigalpa will be championed by the redoubtable Joe Logwood, one of the big figures of the Ping Pong world.

If Alma Mater wins—that is, if Ted beats Logwood—we are tied for the semi-final. Alma Mater has put big work into this; that is to say, Ted has been training under a staff of ten coaches for a year at the expense of the college. It won’t do to lose. If this college carries off the Ping Pong pennant, it is a grand thing for everybody connected with Alma Mater; this muscle-building, character-making sport is what is needed to build us up. It is all the greater pity that this year only four out of our four thousand students actually played the game. But we expect the others to make up for this by turning out en masse to help down Logwood.

Friday, Fifth of the Month. The Daily Still Exhorting.

All students, attention! A principal feature for this afternoon will be an exhibition of dancing guinea pigs in Hoot-It-Up Hall. This entertainment, which is being staged by the Department of Anthropology, will run from 2.00 p.m. till 6.00 p.m. Students are requested to get into their seats sharply on time so as not to keep the pigs waiting. Remember the hour, 2.00 p.m., and the name, Guinea Pigs. All afternoon classes suspended.

We beg to call attention to a letter appearing in another column and forwarded to us by Mr. Hustle Moore of the class. Mr. Moore draws attention to the fact that under present conditions at Alma Mater the students have not enough opportunity to get to know one another. He suggests a new organization to be called the who do you know club, with power from the students’ council to collect fees and to compel attention. The Daily is entirely in sympathy. The only way to get the students of this college to appreciate one another is to levy a suitable fee and fine those who drop out.

(Friday Continued)

supplemental item set by the Daily in black

The Daily is under the melancholy duty of chronicling the death of one of our fellow students, Mr. J. Smith, under very distressing and baffling circumstances. The doctors who attended our deceased fellow student declare that he died from over-study. This seems inexplicable, but apparently the medical facts warrant no other conclusion. That any student at Alma Mater College could be exposed to a danger of this sort is extremely difficult to believe. It may have been that the mistaken young man was purveying books to his room and making surreptitious use of his room as a place of study. This, of course, would be extremely difficult to prevent.

The sad occurrence teaches us, however, one lesson at Alma Mater, namely, that every effort should be made to brighten and diversify our college life. Our present activities are confined perhaps to too limited a field, and it might be well to call a general meeting to form a wider activities’ league. Meanwhile there is one thing that we can do to honor the memory of our misguided fellow student. We want to see every man turn out at his funeral and testify in an unmistakable way to the grief we feel. We suggest a try-out rehearsal for the mourners in Hoot-It-Up Hall and then a big grand rally on the day itself. All up, boys, for Smith’s funeral. Don’t forget the name, Smith.

Saturday. Last Call. (Poster in the corridors of Alma Mater.)

Owing to the nervous prostration of all the editors, the Daily will not appear till Monday.

Willie Nut Tries to Enter College

The news item in last week’s paper to the effect that Willie Nut, High School graduate, attempted suicide excited no doubt but little interest and little comment. It was lost from sight among the world-events of a rapid age.

Under such circumstances, it is perhaps appropriate to make a brief statement of the facts in regard to Willie Nut’s attempted demise. It came as a direct consequence of his inability to get admitted to the freshman class of any of the great universities. As the difficulties he encountered are typical of the present situation all over the country, I propose to set down briefly the history of Willie’s case.

1919 to 1929 Willie Nut attended “Prep” and “High.” He studied Latin, Basketball, Arithmetic, Needlework, Chemistry, Character Building, and, in short, the full program of up-to-date education. He took 95 per cent in Latin, made the Ping Pong Team, and delivered a five-minute graduation speech on the Greatness of George Washington. The boy being thus entirely equipped, his father, William Nut, Senior, bought him a tuxedo jacket and tried to enter him at College.

The first application was made to one of the older historic colleges of the East. It is not fair to name it here, as the President has expressly disclaimed all responsibility for Nut’s attempted suicide. But the documents in the case are as follows.

There was first a letter of application for admission sent by William Nut, Senior, on his son’s behalf. As an answer to it there came back a letter from the Second Assistant to the Secretary of the President in regard to the “candidacy” of Willie Nut.

William Nut, Senior,

Nut Town.

Dear Sir:

In regard to your son’s application for entry with the first year of this university, I shall be obliged if you will fill out answers to the following questions:

1.How many quarterings of nobility has your son got?
2.What ancestors of your son’s fought in the American Revolution?
3.Did you yourself ever fight in the American Revolution, and how did you come out?

Willie Nut’s parents having sent answers to these questions, the following further communication was received by Mr. Nut, Senior:

Dear Sir:

In regard to your son’s application for admission to this college, I am glad to inform you that his name has been duly passed and that he will be placed upon the probationary list of first year students. It is proper to inform you that it is hardly likely that he can be actually admitted to study until about 1940.

The Nut family, having decided not to wait until 1940, next tried another of the older eastern colleges and received the following answer from the Dean of the Committee of Rejection:

In regard to the application of William Nut, Junior, for admission to the freshman year of this college, I am happy to inform you that we have decided to eliminate the freshman class altogether. We find that the continued presence of students at the university impedes its work. As soon as the present upper year have been graduated, or expelled, we hope to limit the personnel of our college to the faculty, the football team, and the Rooters’ Club. In our opinion, this is all we need.

Being thus shut out from the colleges of the East, one after the other, Willie Nut next applied for admission to some of the better known colleges of the Middle West. Here, as everybody knows, admission is no longer based upon mere scholastic standing but on character. “We don’t want,” so wrote recently the President of one of these colleges, “students who think; we want students who live.” It is a resolute attempt not to let in dead ones that was expressed in Willie’s case by a letter sent to William Nut, Senior, in the following terms:

Dear Sir:

In regard to your son’s application for admission to college, we have to inform you that our selection of students is based chiefly on character. We shall therefore ask you to send out the following questionnaire, of which we enclose fifty copies, to fifty of your friends and acquaintances, in order that we may form an idea of your son’s candidacy. Afterwards we will send out another set of questionnaires to see how your friends stand themselves.

Questionnaire for Candidacy of Willie Nut

1.What is your general idea of the character of Willie Nut, Junior?
2.How would he measure up in an emergency? . . . If some one dropped a brick on him, how would he react to the brick? If he fell off a fifteen-story building, what would he do?
3.What percentage would you say there is in Willie Nut’s character, (a) of personality, (b) of likability, (c) of enthusiasm, (d) of homogeneity, (e) of spontaneity, (f) of busibility?
4.Would you consider young William Nut a leader? . . . and, if so, of what? . . . of men or of women? . . . What proportion of women would he lead?
5.Getting down to facts, tell us if Willie Nut has ever been in jail, and if so where and for how long. Tell us at the same time any other dirty thing about him that occurs to you.

As a result of the questionnaire, fifty of Willie’s father’s friends wrote confidentially what they thought of Willie. That sank him.

Driven out from the Middle West, Willie next tried the colleges of the Central States, in the great metropolitan centers. In this case Mr. Nut, Senior, received the following communication:

Dear Sir:

Your son’s qualifications for admission have been (reluctantly) accepted by our Committee on the Exclusion of Students. It is necessary, however, for you to send personal letters of recommendation, and we think that on the strength of these we can still get rid of him. If you like to try, however, you are entitled to post them to us.

Mr. Nut, therefore, forwarded to the Dean of Rejected Students a bundle of personal letters in regard to his son, of which the following are typical not only of Willie’s case, but of students’ testimonials in general:

(a) from willie nut’s barber: letter of commendation

To whom it may concern:

This certifies that I have cut Willie Nut’s hair for the last ten years. I find him docile and tractable in the chair, able to stand pain, and intelligent in his outlook through a towel.

(b) from willie nut’s father’s garage man’s assistant

This certifies that Willie Nut has been in and out of this garage one time and another for quite a time. I should say that he was a boy that you might think had something in him. He has often helped me in changing tires and in filling gasoline without asking a cent for it.

(c) from the pay-as-you-enter bus driver who drove willie to school

To those whom it may concern:

For two and maybe three winter sessions Willie Nut drove to and from his High School in this bus. He always paid his fare like a little man; in fact, he couldn’t have gotten in if he hadn’t. He seemed to me a bright, intelligent lad, and every morning he used to say “Good morning” and every afternoon he’d say “Good afternoon.” I never knew him to confuse the two.

But here again Willie failed. The committee decided that the personal applications lacked something. They didn’t seem to have just the touch that was needed, the glow of warmth without heat, and the peculiar esprit, or esprieglerie that gives pep to a personal letter.

Willie was shut out.

Willie’s father next decided to try to get him admitted into one of the Military Academies that are just as good as any of the universities and charge ten times as much. Application was made to the Jefferson Jackson Military Institute, beautifully situated, as advertised, in the Ozone Mountains where the air is so salubrious a student couldn’t stay awake if he tried.

The answer to the application was as follows:

Dear Sir:

We shall be very pleased to admit your son to this Institute provided that you satisfy the following conditions, which we rigidly apply to all applicants for admission:

1.He must bring with him two polo ponies, one for himself and one for me.
2.Uniform being compulsory and uniform, he has got to bring four suits of it, three of them being big enough for me to wear.
3.I would like him also to bring me a shot gun and a fishing rod and a pair of wading boots.
4.His fees will be a thousand dollars a week and you must pay them before we will even look at him.

William Nut, Senior, didn’t find himself in a position to meet the conditions of the Institute, and Willie’s application was turned down.

It was decided next to make an effort to get Willie into one of the great Agricultural Colleges of the Southwest. Many people consider the training in these colleges, democratic and simple though it is, to be at least as good as, if not worse than, that of the larger universities. Willie Nut’s application for admission called forth the following reply from the Dean of the Pasture to William Nut, Senior:

Dear Friend:

Send your boy right along. We will be right glad to let him into the school, especially if he turns out to be a good milker. We would expect him to milk ten cows a day to start on, and we hope that he is pretty handy with hogs, too.

It was probably at this point that Willie Nut took the poison. He seems to have realized that entry in college in America is now practically closed. The real solution of his difficulty does not seem to have occurred to him before his unhappy attempt at suicide. The letter which he left behind him, or rather beside him, merely said:

Dear Pa:

Finding it impossible to enter college, I have just taken a draught of chlorate of lime. I shall soon be on my way to a place where no one is ever refused admittance and where there is still room for everybody.

It was only after Willie was fortunately resuscitated that a brilliant thought occurred to his parents which put an end to all Willie’s difficulties in entering American colleges. They have sent him to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar.

Graduation Day at the Barbers College

Note: These are the days of colleges. There are colleges everywhere and for everything. There are colleges for medicine and colleges for religion, and for dentistry, and for the banjo and for mesmerism and correspondence. And wherever you go, they bring with them the same old college spirit of good fellowship and love of knowledge.

In witness of which, let me here produce, or reproduce, the following verbatim report of one of the recent college commencements. It was handed to me a day or so ago and refers to the closing exercises of Metropolitan School of Capilletics, which used to be called more simply the Barbers College.

The graduation exercises at the School of Capilletics were held yesterday during the lunch hour in the upper corridor of the academy, just next the cloak room. President Clip briefly addressed the graduating class and spoke with feeling of their approaching separation. They had now been shaving together for over four weeks, and no doubt it seemed hard to part. Lasting ties had been formed, he hoped, during their college course which would endure through life. They would go out, he said, from the academy where they had received their training and be appointed, he did not doubt, to chairs of their own. He liked to think that the college had turned out some of the most eminent men of their profession.

A leading shampooist had said to him only the other day that without his college training he would never be where he was. The president regretted that Dean Follicle, who was to give the commencement address, was delayed a little in arriving, as he was detained below with a customer in the chair, as was also the senior professor of Capillary Science.

The president took occasion to say that he saw before him not only the graduating class and the juniors and the sophomores, but also the freshmen, who were still in their first week. He was aware that to these young men with still more than three weeks in front of them, the course looked long and arduous. But he would remind them that in years to come they would look back to their four weeks at their Alma Mater as the happiest days of their lives.

The president then spoke of the wonderful advances recently made in practical science: he touched lightly upon the electric flat iron, the new electric facial massage, and the improved mechanical clippers. He said the times demanded further specialization: we needed highly trained men for the back of the neck; we must have more intensive work on the mustache and better designs for behind the ears. The old-fashioned general practitioner, prepared to cut anything and everything, was becoming, the president said, a thing of the past. We were consigning him to the hair-basket.

We must educate the public to understand that two barbers for every customer is becoming an absolute necessity; to these, he said, there should properly be added an anesthetist to keep the customer asleep. In the old days, which he could himself recall after fifty years of practice, the academy,—still called a shop—was small and quiet. The customer fell asleep of himself; all that was needed was to give him yesterday’s newspaper.

This has changed. The unavoidable noise of the overhead shampoo (he would not for a moment deny its utility), the rattle of the electric clipper, and the terrifying hiss of the hot irons kept the customers awake. The only remedy, as he saw it, was an extended use of anesthetics. This again demanded wider knowledge and a raising of the standard of the profession.

We have got to face the fact, said the president, that the course must be lengthened. Four weeks, he would say it positively and with conviction, is too short a time for turning out a highly-equipped man. The time has arrived when we must work for a six weeks’ course.

At this juncture the arrival of Dean Follicle called forth from the students loud cries of “You’re next!” followed by the college yell of Rah! Rah! Shampoo!

The Dean, in rising to speak, said that he was entirely in accord with the President on the matter of raising the general standard. He might perhaps refer to the monograph that he had published under the title of What a Barber Should Know. Any professor of practical capilletics—he would not say barber—must be a man of education, a wide man. Their customers—or should he say their patients?—expect it. When they come to your chairs, gentlemen, continued the Dean, they want information. They want to know who won last night’s boxing match. It is your duty to tell them. More than that, they want to know who is going to win the boxing match, or the horse race or the ball game, not of yesterday, but of next week. It is your duty to keep them posted.

These people come to you with confidence. They put themselves into your hands for twenty-five minutes; they allow you to cover them with a steamed towel, which precludes all argument. They cannot answer back. This, then, is your opportunity for enlarging their minds and extending their range of knowledge. You must keep them informed of the presidential election; you must understand the wet and dry laws of your state; you must follow every line of sport. In short, gentlemen, you must have made a study of yesterday’s newspaper from cover to cover.

A man who has read yesterday’s paper is a cultivated man, a well-informed man, an agreeable man; one who has not betrayed himself as an ignoramus unfit to handle a pair of scissors.

There had been, said the Dean, some little criticism, he would not say complaint, in regard to the examination paper on General Knowledge which had been given to this year’s graduating class. It had been said that the questions were hard. He would name some of them and let the audience judge for themselves. For example: Who is Mussolini? What is the salary of a big league ball player? Who flew where? How do they divide the money of a prize fight?

It was claimed that these questions were hard. They were meant to be hard; only a man who knows that Mussolini is “some guy”—or else is not—can hope to interest his customer in European politics.

The Dean then briefly referred to the question of Latin. He believed that the time has come when Latin must be made compulsory and that every graduate must have at least a week of it. So many of our preparations made up now have Latin names, such as Sine Qua Non and Ne Plus Ultra, that no graduate can hope to rise in his profession without Latin. He could name at least six Latin words that had been of the greatest use to him.

At the end of his speech Dean Follicle touched for a moment on the question of Women. He did not know, he said, of any greater problem in the profession than that of Women. The women of to-day were insisting on having their hair cut. And we must cut it for them. If we don’t cut it, some one else will. We cannot stop progress.

Is short hair, he asked, here to stay? He looked on this as perhaps the most important social question of the hour. To answer it would require a deep knowledge of history, social science, and human and animal psychology. But what we need, argued Dean Follicle, is to meet the situation both ways, so that we can do business whichever way.

The applause that greeted the Dean’s address showed how deeply interested the audience had been.

President Clip then handed out the degrees to each graduate and declared that he and the Dean would go back to their chairs and the other boys might have the rest of the noon hour free.

The meeting broke up with college yells and cheers for Alma Mater.

Correspondence Manual Number One

A Foundation Guide-Book for All the Others

Everybody is aware of the vast amount of instruction that is carried on to-day by correspondence courses. It is, I suppose, literally true that one may now acquire the whole of an education in this manner. Not only is instruction given in all the various branches of learning, but also in the practical arts. Courses are offered in telegraphy, stenography, advertising, plumbing, and even in the purely mechanical things, such as short-story-writing, play-writing, the making of scenarios and how to earn a living by poetry.

Everybody also has admired the clearness and simplicity with which the manuals are composed. Take, for example, the one entitled, How to Learn the Alphabet by Correspondence. The pictures of the letters A, B, and C are drawn with such absolute sincerity and faith as to be unmistakable; while the pupil is gently led from C to D, from D to E, until a knowledge of the whole alphabet is acquired, and the pupil is ready to pass on to volume 2, How to Synchronize the Alphabet into Words.

But even with all this, it seems to me that the process has not gone far enough. There are still people who need help. We must remember that there are a great many persons who have had practically no early advantages, and who seem almost totally deficient and incapable in practical life. Thus one hears it said of such a one that he doesn’t know enough to pound sand, or doesn’t know enough to come in out of the wet, or again we say of this or that person that he doesn’t know enough to plant beans.

It is these people whom I propose to help by preparing a fundamental manual, under the name of Correspondence Manual Number One. This little book is meant as the absolute ground work of knowledge. It starts right at the beginning. It takes nothing for granted. Not only is no previous knowledge needed for commencing the study, but on the contrary any previous knowledge might be a drawback.

part i

How to Pound Sand

This section of the little manual has on its cover two pictures, one showing a young man lying on the ground prostrate with despair; beside him a heap of sand—unpounded. He doesn’t know how to pound it! He has no one to help or guide him. The picture carries a printed legend below it, “He couldn’t pound sand.”

The other picture shows the same young man, upright and smiling in a debonair negligee shirt, knickers, and golf stockings and shoes, standing in front of a newly acquired bungalow and calling through the open door, “Look, mother, come and see me pound it.”

Below this are the clear and simple instructions:

“In order to pound sand, it is first necessary to acquire a fair-sized heap of sand. First-class sand may be obtained from a first-class sand-pit, or may be purchased direct from our office in Post Office Box 75,000, Lower Half. To any student of the course sending in a special sand order of one dollar, we will forward ten cents’ worth of sand.

“A pounder may be obtained by picking up any old stick or board or scantling, or it can be bought from an up-to-date hardware firm, provided they see you coming, for about three dollars.

“Having obtained the sand and the pounder, the pupil is now in a position to undertake Lesson I. For this the instructions are as follows:

“Take the pounder (P) in the two hands (H and H) and stand directly over the sand (S). Now lift the pounder in the air (A) and direct it with the eye (E) towards the center of the sand (S) on which it is let fall with considerable force (CF).

“Lesson II. Repeat Lesson I.

“Lesson III. Repeat Lesson II.

“Lesson IV. Repeat Lesson III.

“Four lessons make up a course, but pupils who desire to carry the work further may pay another fee and take another four.”

part two

How to Come in Out of the Wet

A second section of the course, not to be attempted until section one has been thoroughly learned, gives practical instructions in How to Come in Out of the Wet. Like Section I, it is illustrated with a little double illustration, the first part of which is labeled, He Didn’t Come In, and showing a young man lying on his own doorstep on a rainy day—drowned. The other part shows a young man, much better dressed, knocking at the door of a house and saying, “Let me in, mother, it’s going to rain.”

The instructional part of the section begins with a discussion of the nature of rain.

Lesson I

What Is Rain?

“What is rain? Rain may be said to consist scientifically of a precipitation of spherical globules of hydrated oxygen, or, what is the same thing, oxydized hydrogen, falling through the atmosphere.

“Get this thoroughly in your mind and then go on to Lesson II on, Why Does Rain Fall?”

Lesson II

Why Does Rain Fall?

“Why Does Rain Fall? Because the specific gravity of the precipitated globule is greater than that of the surrounding atmosphere.

“Repeat this till you feel strong enough to go on.”

But, there! It would never do to give away the whole course of instruction. Suffice it to say that the practical part, How to Get in Out of the Wet, may be easily acquired by a pupil of average intelligence and diligence after a few weeks of practice on wet days. Still more advanced exercises are given, for a further fee, for graduate students who propose to live in equatorial Africa or on the mosquito coast of Honduras.

On the back of the Manual is a little illustration called, His Salary Doubled Again. It shows a young man coming in triumphant to a bright room newly furnished and containing also a young woman and a baby. He is bursting in, radiant with happiness, with a sand-pounder in his hand, shaking the rain off his hat, and with a packet of beans and a hoe in his other hand. Beneath it the words,—Course II: How to Plant Beans.


The Golfomaniac

We ride in and out pretty often together, he and I, on a suburban train.

That’s how I came to talk to him. “Fine morning,” I said as I sat down beside him yesterday and opened a newspaper.

“Great!” he answered, “the grass is drying out fast now and the greens will soon be all right to play.”

“Yes,” I said, “the sun is getting higher and the days are decidedly lengthening.”

“For the matter of that,” said my friend, “a man could begin to play at six in the morning easily. In fact, I’ve often wondered that there’s so little golf played before breakfast. We happened to be talking about golf, a few of us last night—I don’t know how it came up—and we were saying that it seems a pity that some of the best part of the day, say, from five o’clock to seven-thirty, is never used.”

“That’s true,” I answered, and then, to shift the subject, I said, looking out of the window:

“It’s a pretty bit of country just here, isn’t it?”

“It is,” he replied, “but it seems a shame they make no use of it—just a few market gardens and things like that. Why, I noticed along here acres and acres of just glass—some kind of houses for plants or something—and whole fields full of lettuce and things like that. It’s a pity they don’t make something of it. I was remarking only the other day as I came along in the train with a friend of mine, that you could easily lay out an eighteen-hole course anywhere here.”

“Could you?” I said.

“Oh, yes. This ground, you know, is an excellent light soil to shovel up into bunkers. You could drive some big ditches through it and make one or two deep holes—the kind they have on some of the French links. In fact, improve it to any extent.”

I glanced at my morning paper. “I see,” I said, “that it is again rumored that Lloyd George is at last definitely to retire.”

“Funny thing about Lloyd George,” answered my friend. “He never played, you know; most extraordinary thing—don’t you think?—for a man in his position. Balfour, of course, was very different: I remember when I was over in Scotland last summer I had the honor of going around the course at Dumfries just after Lord Balfour. Pretty interesting experience, don’t you think?”

“Were you over on business?” I asked.

“No, not exactly. I went to get a golf ball, a particular golf ball. Of course, I didn’t go merely for that. I wanted to get a mashie as well. The only way, you know, to get just what you want is to go to Scotland for it.”

“Did you see much of Scotland?”

“I saw it all. I was on the links at St. Andrews and I visited the Loch Lomond course and the course at Inverness. In fact, I saw everything.”

“It’s an interesting country, isn’t it, historically?”

“It certainly is. Do you know they have played there for over five hundred years! Think of it! They showed me at Loch Lomond the place where they said Robert the Bruce played the Red Douglas (I think that was the other party—at any rate, Bruce was one of them), and I saw where Bonnie Prince Charlie disguised himself as a caddie when the Duke of Cumberland’s soldiers were looking for him. Oh, it’s a wonderful country historically.”

After that I let a silence intervene so as to get a new start. Then I looked up again from my newspaper.

“Look at this,” I said, pointing to a headline, United States Navy Ordered Again to Nicaragua. “Looks like more trouble, doesn’t it?”

“Did you see in the paper a while back,” said my companion, “that the United States Navy Department is now making golf compulsory at the training school at Annapolis? That’s progressive, isn’t it? I suppose it will have to mean shorter cruises at sea; in fact, probably lessen the use of the navy for sea purposes. But it will raise the standard.”

“I suppose so,” I answered. “Did you read about this extraordinary murder case on Long Island?”

“No,” he said. “I never read murder cases. They don’t interest me. In fact, I think this whole continent is getting over-preoccupied with them——”

“Yes, but this case had such odd features——”

“Oh, they all have,” he replied, with an air of weariness. “Each one is just boomed by the papers to make a sensation——”

“I know, but in this case it seems that the man was killed with a blow from a golf club.”

“What’s that? Eh, what’s that? Killed him with a blow from a golf club!!”

“Yes, some kind of club——”

“I wonder if it was an iron—let me see the paper—though, for the matter of that, I imagine that a blow with even a wooden driver, let alone one of the steel-handled drivers—where does it say it?—pshaw, it only just says ‘a blow with golf club.’ It’s a pity the papers don’t write these things up with more detail, isn’t it? But perhaps it will be better in the afternoon paper. . . .”

“Have you played golf much?” I inquired. I saw it was no use to talk of anything else.

“No,” answered my companion, “I am sorry to say I haven’t. You see, I began late. I’ve only played twenty years, twenty-one if you count the year that’s beginning in May. I don’t know what I was doing. I wasted about half my life. In fact, it wasn’t till I was well over thirty that I caught on to the game. I suppose a lot of us look back over our lives that way and realize what we have lost.

“And even as it is,” he continued, “I don’t get much chance to play. At the best I can only manage about four afternoons a week, though of course I get most of Saturday and all Sunday. I get my holiday in the summer, but it’s only a month, and that’s nothing. In the winter I manage to take a run South for a game once or twice and perhaps a little swack at it around Easter, but only a week at a time. I’m too busy—that’s the plain truth of it.” He sighed. “It’s hard to leave the office before two,” he said. “Something always turns up.”

And after that he went on to tell me something of the technique of the game, illustrate it with a golf ball on the seat of the car, and the peculiar mental poise needed for driving, and the neat, quick action of the wrist (he showed me how it worked) that is needed to undercut a ball so that it flies straight up in the air. He explained to me how you can do practically anything with a golf ball, provided that you keep your mind absolutely poised and your eye in shape, and your body a trained machine. It appears that even Bobby Jones of Atlanta and people like that fall short very often from the high standard set up by my golfing friend in the suburban car.

So, later in the day, meeting some one in my club who was a person of authority on such things, I made inquiry about my friend. “I rode into town with Llewellyn Smith,” I said. “I think he belongs to your golf club. He’s a great player, isn’t he?”

“A great player!” laughed the expert. “Llewellyn Smith? Why, he can hardly hit a ball! And anyway, he’s only played about twenty years!”

The Golfer’s Pocket Guide

A Manual to Help Him to Recover His Game

Note: I have been very busy of late preparing a little Manual for Golfers. It was to have appeared quite early in the season, but unfortunately it was not completed in time, and still remains in an unfinished and unsatisfactory condition. In fact I am not able to publish it at all in its full form this season, and therefore present here merely a few fragments of what will next year, I hope, appear as a complete manual.

The general notion of my little book is to aid the golfer whose point of view needs straightening out to bring him back to his true bearings.

Reading over my little manual is supposed to help the golfer to recover rapidly the poise and attitude of his mind.

an intelligence test

Part One of the manual is to contain a set of questions and answers framed as an intelligence test. The golf enthusiast, before settling down to his season’s work, may test the adjustment of his brain by rapidly running over the following queries:

What is meant by summer?
The time of year during which golf is played.
What other seasons are there?
None, that I recall.
How would you define a city?
I should call it a large group of houses and people situated within eight or ten miles of a golf club.
Right. And what is a railway?
An apparatus of transportation used as a means of access to a golf club.
What is meant by the country?
Open space about a city divided into golf courses.
If you go further what do you see?
More golf courses.
Correct. What are trees?
Upright growths of wood on a golf course.
And what is grass?
Vegetation on a fairway.

Very good. You have answered these questions, which are elementary, in a way to show that your mind is rapidly readjusting itself. Let us now pass to something more difficult:

Name any way by which you can tell whether or not it is raining when you are playing golf.

A good way to know whether it is raining is to observe whether the water is running from the back of the cap down inside the back of the shirt and on down into the knees of the trousers. If so, then it is raining.

Very good. Now let us see if you recall the proper method of scoring at golf, including the technique, or, so to speak, the arithmetic of the score.

Let us suppose that in coming down the fairway you have had, as nearly as you recall, 4 long shots in which your aim has been distance, 4 more in which you have made your approach to and fro past the green and 4 more on the green itself. How many is that for the hole?


Correct. Now let me test whether you have got back into the proper spirit of membership towards your fellow-members in your club. What is your feeling towards new members?

Keep them out.

What about Lady members?

Keep them out.

Very good. Your answers are satisfactory. Now will you tell me something as to the various combinations of players among whom golf may be played.

There is first the Two Some, or game of golf played by two people, each of whom is playing with the other because you can’t have a contest without getting another.

Then there is the Three Some, or game played by three people, each two of whom would rather that the third was not there.

Finally there is the Four Some, meaning a Large Crowd or Assemblage moving round the links, containing (as it feels to others) about seven players, and ten caddies. Total Twenty.

In connection with nearly all other games, as for example with bridge and chess, and so on, it is the custom to devise and print special “problems.”

By this means devotees of the game when not actually engaged in play may still enjoy the spirit of their pastime by working out these problems.

So far as I know, this has not been done for Golf and I am therefore proposing a few simple problems along the same lines. I will quote one or two in this connection.

problem i

A and B are engaged in a game of 9 holes and are exactly even after playing the eighth hole. A has played the last hole in 6 and, just as he completes it, is summoned to the telephone in the Club House. A calls to B to complete the hole and goes on into the Club House.

Which wins, and in how many strokes does B make the hole?

problem ii

A player, X, is playing in a secluded corner of the fairway and has already had 5 strokes and has an excellent prospect of doing the hole in either 10 or 14. Making a powerful stroke with a brassie, he misses the ball entirely. Looking all around after his stroke, he realizes that he is quite alone. The grass, the trees and the sky are exactly where they were.

There are no sounds; all is quiet, and he sees no immediate evidence of the existence of an avenging Deity. How many strokes has he had?

problem iii

Two of your fellow members, whom we will call M and N, invite you to act as umpire or arbiter in the case of the ownership of a mid-iron. They have found it mixed up among their kit, each having a mid-iron already, and each being uncertain as to whether he had an extra mid-iron, or professing to be so.

In looking at the mid-iron it reminds you of a mid-iron which you are nearly sure you left in a club locker last year—either in this club or another club—and either in this city, or in another city.

Question:—After your award is all over, how many mid-irons has A and how many has B?

There. Those may serve as samples of the kind of problems which the enthusiast may multiply to any extent. Let me turn to another point which I think is not found in any other guide to the game:—

golf for foreigners

Every member of a golf club knows that from time to time foreign visitors and guests are introduced whose language offers a certain difficulty in the conduct of play.

In my experience it is not well to try to teach them too many of the technical terms at once, or too much of the proper idiom of play. It is wiser to let them stagger along with such command of language as they already possess. I have, therefore, drawn up from my manual a little set of conversation exercises especially suited for this kind of case.

for french visitors

Exercise I

Where is the billiard? It is this. Where pose I her? She poses herself on the ground. Strike I her with the long cane? Yes, the long cane lets herself use of it. Strike I her at full force? Yes, and still yes. At what distance limits itself the flight of the billiard? At the most longest. Shall I strike? I pray you of it. You permit? Assuredly.

Exercise II

The blow was he strong? He was of a great force. And the billiard? Up to where her flight has extended itself? She has not flown. Behold her still there in the grass? Hold!

Exercise III

Where of it are we? We are of it at the fourth hole. Have we not approached ourselves again of the Club House? Yes, here see it on the left. Is not the restaurant in face of us? Assuredly. Might we not then finish ourselves of it and re-enter? But yes!

The Golf Season in Retrospect

A Personal Review of the Big Games of the Year

Now that the golf season is drawing to its close, the time is opportune to look back at the record of the season. And by this I don’t mean the records and achievements of such people as Mr. Jones, of Atlanta, and the other champions. All of that can be read in the newspapers.

I mean my own personal record of the games as played by myself. That after all is the point of interest—for me. And it is likely that the record is of interest also to the thousands, the millions of players, who play something of the same kind of game.

I mean the players who talk vaguely of going around in about a hundred or less, and who never saw 100 in their lives and never will. Yet these, or rather us—that is, we—are the true enthusiasts of the game.

So I will change this review a little bit and make it not personal, but collective, and ask how do we stand, where are we, after our year of golf, what have we achieved?

In the first place, financially how have we come out? Financially, there is no doubt of it we are stood back—and quite a distance. I pass over the annual subscription to the club; that’s nothing. The real cost lies elsewhere.

I keep an accurate personal budget of the thing, and looking over it find such items as lost balls, 100 balls at 85 cents and 1 ball at 15 cents (it’s hard to lose them) making a total of $85.15; ginger ale for use in the locker room, 40 flasks at $5.00 a flask is $200—but never mind. That doesn’t matter. The game is worth it.

the big drive

The real point is, are we coming on in the game? That’s the question. And in the first place, have we yet made that Big Drive? The Great Big Drive that we dream of, when the ball sails off into the blue neither too high nor too low, and rises and rises and seems to gain speed as it goes—have we hit it yet?

We have not.

Not yet.

But we may at any time.

What greater pleasure is there on a bright clear day, with just a little wind blowing, than to step up on the tee, and make a little heap of sand and place the ball, look up at the blue sky, adjust the club, grip it, shake it, measure the distance with your eye, raise the club for a long powerful swing and then let the ball have it fair and square just below the belt and stand leaning on your driver while you watch it sail into the ether?

I’ve never done it and I didn’t do it this summer; but I meant to. And when I do it I want there to be a few people there to see, especially a few ladies.

As a matter of fact, mostly when we drive the ball either skithers off sideways or goes up in the air. But no matter—the big drive is coming. Wait for the season of 1930.

holes in one

Another point of interest in our year’s record is the question of a hole in one. In winter when we talk of golf around the fire, and illustrate our action with the poker on the hearth rug, stories are related all the time of people making holes in one. Surely some day it must come our way.

Once this year I thought I had it. On our links there is one hole where the course goes sideways up a hill and the hole is only 140 yards.

With a thorough good smash and, if I am in good shape with my limbs well oiled and all joints working, I can hit 140 yards. There is nothing to prevent me hitting into that can. When you drive you can’t see the hole or the green for the hillside, only the red flag.

On the occasion I speak of I hit the ball. It rose from sight into the air. I rushed up the hill. I looked on the fairway. The ball was not there! Eager with anxiety I ran forward to the green itself. The ball was not on the green!! There was but one conclusion to draw. The ball was in the can itself!!!

Trembling with the emotion that only a golfer of my class can understand, I drew near to the can. I could not bear to hurry. I felt, in the presence of such an occurrence, a sensation of something like awe. I pictured to myself the ball lying in the can, my coming exultation and for the future a long happy life spent in telling about it.

I stepped at last to the edge of the hole and looked in.

The ball was not there.

I got down on my knees and looked. It was still not there.

I put my hand in and felt all around the handle of the flag. The ball was not there.

The conclusion was only too plain. The ball had been removed. Some player crossing the course while I was hidden below the hill, had seen the ball in the can and removed it, supposing it there by accident.

I had just reached this evident conclusion when my opponent in the game, Captain R., who had followed more slowly up the hill, reached the green. He then stated that he had seen my ball moving rapidly in a sideways direction high in the air. I denied this. I said that he might have seen some ball moving high in the air. The air is full of golf balls moving in all directions. But that my ball was in the air I strenuously denied.

I may state that Captain R. wears glasses, has only played golf for five years and is a Frenchman; and yet his meager evidence in this matter was enough to prevent my depositing my record with the committee.

I am sure that a great many others have been similarly prevented from making holes in one. I propose that when we want to do it next year we go out at daybreak all alone; or, better still, two together and come back with the thing accomplished.

friends of the links

The loss of Captain R.’s friendship recalls to me another item which we must account for in our season’s record. Where do we stand in our gain or loss of human affection? How are we on brotherly love? I fear that it is only too evident that with each season we lose a little more. In my own case several valued friendships have come to an end over various little points of the game.

For instance, if I lose my ball in the rough and then finding it, lift it up from under a tangle of grass—in sheer exultation—and cry “Here it is!” then placing it on a mound of earth—must I lose a friend for that?

They say that Scotland is mostly a lonely country of empty spaces, and the people keep to themselves to an amazing degree, trusting no one and never speaking. I think I can understand it. They began golf there 400 years ago.

progress and surgery

But the most important question in the season’s game for me, in fact for all of us, is—Are we making progress? Do we play better than we did?

We don’t.

That’s the plain fact, so let us out with it—we don’t. In my own case I feel that I cannot get much further in golf without a surgical operation, or rather a series of surgical operations.

I need my thigh bones taken out and shortened. That’s the only way I can get what the “pro” calls the “stance” that I ought to adopt. Similarly, I need my back lengthened, by letting in a piece anywhere near where my braces join my trousers. If I had six inches more of back let in there, I could get that easy swinging action that I can envy but never emulate.

And I need a couple of sets of wheels put in somewhere for the mashie shot. I can’t do it without.

But after all, all the other players of my class are the same: They need wheels and cogs and they need lengthening and shortening. I don’t know one that I call a perfectly adjusted machine except at the Nineteenth Hole.

So why worry?

Instead of that, let us sit about all winter and talk golf, oil up our clubs, tell lies, and drink our conscience to sleep. And presently it will be the summer of 1930 and the grass will be green again, and perhaps—who knows?—we may really begin to play.


Long After Bedtime

A Night Mystery Story in the Mysterious Style

The house indicated as “No. 4 John Street” was one of four houses, each standing detached from the other, on the upper side of John Street. It is important for what follows to understand clearly the location of the houses. No. 1 stood first, while No. 2 was just above it, No. 3 coming next in order, and No. 4 being the fourth or last of the group.

The houses were separated by an interval of about forty feet between each two of them, so that there was forty feet between No. 1 and No. 2, forty feet between No. 2 and No. 3, and a similar distance, forty feet, separating No. 3 and No. 4. It would thus have been possible if the windows were open to hear anything louder than ordinary conversation from house to house. There is, however, no reason to believe that on the night in question any of the windows were open.

All of the four houses had been built apparently under one and the same contract and offered a great similarity in outline. But owing to the rise in the ground, No. 2 had one more step in front of it than No. 1, and No. 3 had one more step in front of it than No. 2, while No. 4, where the ground continued to rise, was higher by one step than No. 3 (the house immediately below it).

The house indicated as No. 4 was occupied by the family of Mr. John Smith, who had lived in it since first it was built. Smith himself was employed as a stock-broker’s confidential clerk, and the family were in comfortable, if not affluent circumstances. There was no reason to believe that Smith was in any way embarrassed financially. Nor was there anything in his past life to suggest any criminal antecedents or any tendency to be hurried or driven into any rash or desperate conduct. He was a more or less regular churchgoer, was well liked in the neighborhood, and was reputed as rather above the average as a bridge player. It had been remarked, however, that as a bridge player he was more inclined to lead from length than from strength. It should be added that Smith had no ear for music.

On the night in question, the night of the fifth of March (just preceding the sixth of March), the entire Smith household seem to have been in bed and asleep well before midnight. For what follows it is important to understand the arrangement of the bedrooms in the Smith residence. The house was a two-story structure with a kitchen extension, all the bedrooms being on the upper floor. That of Mr. and Mrs. Smith was in the front looking out over the street and occupying the entire front face of the house. There were two side bedrooms and a bedroom over the kitchen.

The side bedroom on the right, or north side, the high side or top side, that is the side looking sideways up the side street, was occupied by the two little girls of the family, Flora and Dora, aged respectively eleven and thirteen. The two girls were both at the same school, though Flora was ahead of Dora in geography.

The other side bedroom was occupied by Willie Smith, aged respectively twelve. Willie also attended school, though on the fifth of March he had not gone to school. The reason alleged for this was that he had been slightly indisposed on the fourth of March. All of the children were in every way ordinary children, none of them having ever shown the least tendency towards somnambulism, or hysteria, or locomotor ataxia. Willie, however, could imitate a dog barking.

The room at the back, the one immediately over the kitchen, was occupied by the maid, Frieda Helsenfish, a Finn, who had newly arrived from Finland. There seems, however, to have been no reason to connect her with the Finnish revolution.

It is important to note that this room was connected by a back stairway with the kitchen, and also connected through a door with the landing on which were the other bedrooms. It was thus possible, indeed it was easy, to pass from this room downstairs by either of two ways. It was not possible, however, to go both ways at once.

At midnight, or shortly after, the entire family were asleep. This may be stated as a fact as a passer-by noticed that no lights were burning in the Smith residence and looking at his watch observed that it was 12.02 a.m. The watch had been newly repaired and was running evenly and smoothly, and was running still on the following day with equal smoothness.

An hour later the situation in the household seems to have been something as follows: the family were still asleep, Mr. and Mrs. Smith in twin beds in the front bedroom; the little girls in the top side room; Willie in the other side room; and the servant in the back. There is no evidence to show that any one in the house was awake or moving as between 1.00 a.m. and 2.00 a.m.

At 2.00 a.m. Mr. Smith, who was never a heavy sleeper, seems to have rolled over in bed. There is no reason to suppose, however, that he rolled far, or that he was not able to roll back again. Mrs. Smith appears to have waked up for a moment and said, “What’s the matter?” Smith answered, “Nothing, I just rolled over in bed.” Mrs. Smith said, “Oh,” perhaps “Ah.” She noticed that the luminous clock indicated the time as 2.10 a.m. Allowing that the clock was about ten minutes fast, this would fix the time approximately at 2.00 a.m.

At 3.00 a.m. the family were still asleep. There is no ground for supposing that they had done anything but sleep from 2.00 to 3.00 a.m. A milkman starting on his round at three saw no lights in the house. The front door was closed, and to all appearances had not been in any way tampered with. The milkman did not notice any broken panes of glass. The man, however, was short-sighted, was new to his route, and came from Bobcaygeon, Ontario.

At four all the Smiths were asleep.

At five the Smiths were all sleeping. The hour this time can be definitely fixed because a town clock within no great distance from John Street struck five.

At seven o’clock, however, things took an entirely different turn. Smith, always a light sleeper and an early riser, rose and dressed himself. He seems to have put on all his clothes in their customary order. For the next half hour Smith’s movements can be traced with something like accuracy. He seems to have gone into the bathroom (7.00 a.m.), taken a bath (7.01 to 7.03 a.m.), shaved himself with a safety razor, leaving distinct fingerprints both on the handle of the razor and on the bureau in the bathroom. At 7.24 he seems to have gone down to the front door and taken in the newspaper. This, however, was a regular and customary matter. A furnace man of the neighborhood passing by said, “Good morning” to Smith, and immediately verified the time at 7.24. Smith appears to have answered either “Good morning,” or “Good Day,” or something of the sort.

At 7.30 Frieda, the Finn, came down (apparently fully dressed) into the kitchen and began to prepare breakfast. To do this she put water (cold water) into the kettle and set it on the gas range. After which she set about preparing the meal, which appears to have consisted of oatmeal porridge, bacon and eggs. There was no indication of poison, or any poisonous ingredient in any of the food.

At 7.35 Mrs. Smith rose and proceeded to call and dress the children. All three got up.

At eight the family breakfasted, and at 8.30, or perhaps 8.31—certainly not later than 8.32—Smith left to go downtown to his office and the three children accompanied him, starting on their way to school.

Smith seems to have got to his office all right. The children got to school. The Finn washed up the breakfast things, and Mrs. Smith settled down in the parlor to read a mystery story.

The Newer Truthfulness

How the Up-to-Date Biographer Slates His Hero

“Biography must first of all be truthful.” So declared not long ago one of the best known of our contemporary critics. I suppose it is in accordance with this idea that a new fashion has grown up in the art of writing biographies. In old days, the whole point of a biography was to show what a wonderful fellow the man was who was being biographed.

If he was a soldier, he had to win every battle. If he was a statesman, he had to be wiser than all the others put together. If he was an orator, he was supposed to leave the legislature gasping with admiration and coiled up in heaps on the floor.

Nowadays this is all changed. Under the influence of what is called historical research, the task of the new biographer is to prove what a pitiful simp his subject really is. Take, as an example, the following extract from “The Real Washington,” 1928, 700 pp., $25.

life of george washington

(As written according to the new style of searchlight biography.)

“This poor sap was born in Virginia in 1732. The twenty-second of February, generally held to be his birthday and celebrated as such, is probably an erroneous date. Professor Searchit, in an admirable paper on Washington As We Don’t Know Him presented to the Historical Grouch Society of America, expresses the opinion that Washington was born in August or perhaps in November.

“Recent researches into the history of the Washington family show them to have been people of little account—in fact, a poor lot. A William Henry Washington was expelled from Princeton College in 1720, and a John Washington from Harvard in 1690. Either of these could have been Washington’s father or grandfather, or both.

“Legend has grown up around the first president’s boyhood. It is now definitely established that he never cut down a cherry tree, never had an ax, and probably lied as often and as successfully as any wholesome and clean-minded American youth.

“Washington’s earlier career, especially on the military side, has been the subject of gross misrepresentation. We know now that he did not serve under Braddock, as it has been proved that at the time of Braddock’s defeat Washington was carrying on a saloon and livery business at Acquia Creek.

“The part played by Washington in the revolutionary struggle has been greatly exaggerated. National pride in the foundation of our republic has led to a false view of his exploits. The saner military criticism of to-day shows us that, as a general, Washington was a wash-out. It seems established that he let the entire British forces, both naval and military, slip out of his hand and get back to England, while the escape of 50,000 so-called loyalists out of the country must be laid to his account.

“As president Washington showed in office the same fatal ineptitude as on the field. He selected his cabinet at random without reference to parties. His speeches are said to have been drivel, while his social appearance was rendered ridiculous by his extreme shortness of stature and by his excessive stoutness, which increased from year to year. His conversation—beginning always with the words, ‘When I licked Cornwallis,’—is said to have been dull.

“On the other hand, it should be remembered that Washington was an excellent card player, sitting down after breakfast to a game of poker from which he seldom rose till after midnight. In religion he belonged to the Salvation Army.”

did columbus discover america?

When it is not possible for the new biographer to calumniate a man’s whole life, because it is not widely known anyway, he fastens upon his main historical achievement and denies that it ever happened. Here, for instance, is the kind of thing the biographer does to the immortal Christopher:

“It was long widely believed that Christopher Columbus discovered America. The painstaking researches of modern scholars have gone far to disprove this. Columbus may have discovered something, but it was certainly not America. All that we know for sure is that Columbus sailed from the harbor of Palos with three ships in 1492, and that he came back six months later and said that he had lost two of his ships and that he had been to Japan. He was given more ships and made by the Spanish King and Queen Grand Admiral of Japan. After two more voyages to Japan, he retired.

“Columbus, in stature and appearance, seems to have been an awful little runt. He was apparently quite ignorant of navigation, had no idea where he was sailing to, and on his return from Japan in his old age easily fell into a garrulous way of talking of his supposed discovery of America. Columbus was long supposed to be buried in Havana, but modern research has proved that this was his cousin.”

did bruce spy the spider?

And even when the modern research student has got quite finished with the biography business, he still has another mission to fulfill. One by one he takes up the pretty legends of history and rewrites them so as to show that there is nothing in them.

Everybody who read in his childhood the story of Bruce and the spider thrilled with the noble example of unbeaten courage in adversity. The gallant Scottish king in a mood of despair sits watching the heroic efforts of the spider as it tries—but everybody knows the story.

Here is what is left of it after the modern research biographer has got in his work upon it:

“The legendary story in regard to the spider has been shown by the diligent efforts of modern students to be without foundation. In the first place, it is quite erroneous to say that ‘King Bruce of Scotland laid himself down, in a weary mood, to think’; there is abundant evidence to show that at this time Bruce’s enemies were chasing him around so fast that it was out of the question for him to sit down, let alone to lay himself down.

“Moreover, Professor J. A. Thompson of Aberdeen has proved that the spider was unknown at that time in Scotland, having been brought in by the English after the Union. It has also been established that spiders do not climb and reclimb a ‘silken cobweb clew’ from any sense of heroism or determination, a feeling which is quite unknown to them. They probably merely wish to get to the top.

“And, in conclusion, it was not Robert Bruce, but Angus Bruce, who saw, not a spider climbing, but some other animal doing something else.”

and so with all the rest

And so it is with all the other beautiful legends, lives, and stories. Modern research is washing them all out. King Alfred didn’t burn the cakes: Oh, dear no! Research shows that Alfred had worked as a French chef at the court of Charlemagne.

Cæsar didn’t say, “Et tu, Brute”; he merely said, “Who hit me that time?”

And to think that we are paying good money, public and private, to keep those research students at work!

A Midsummer Detective Mystery

Showing the Effect of Hot Weather on Cold Criminality

Note: ”The best stories for the summer,” so writes the editor of one of our best-known literary weekly supplements, “are those that are suited for reading under a tree, or in a hammock or in a boat—stories of a gentler, a softer, one might almost say a drowsier type than the more exciting and exacting fiction of ordinary times.”

All right, Mr. Editor. Here is an attempt to write one for you. Get into your boat and rig a hammock in it on two sticks with a bough of a tree over it and then read this.

During the drowsiest moments of a warm afternoon, a well-dressed gentleman of middle age and quiet appearance pulled the bell at Scotland Yard. At the third summons the janitor, rubbing his eyes as if awakened from slumber, opened the door.

“You must excuse me, sir,” he said, “I was just having a bit of a nap.”

“It is indeed a warm afternoon,” said the visitor, yawning. “I feel sleepy myself.”

“Well, sir,” replied the janitor, “I must say that in this hot weather there’s nothing so refreshing as to just drop off for two or three hours after dinner, sir.”

“Indeed so,” said the visitor, and he yawned again. “I regard sleep as perhaps one of the most agreeable ways of passing the time that I know. But, by the way, are any of the police about? Any inspectors or detectives?”

“It’s hardly likely,” said the janitor. “Our gentlemen are mostly on the river on an afternoon like this; either that or in the country. Was you wanting any one particularly?”

“No, no special one. Just anybody who could aid in the solution”—here he yawned—“of a very daring crime.”

“Inspector Higgins, I think, is upstairs. If he is awake, sir, he will be very glad to see you.”

The unknown visitor was shown into the presence of Inspector Higgins, a heavy-looking man, seated at a table looking dreamily at a sheet of paper spread out in front of him.

“Sit down,” he said. “I was just working out a problem in noughts and crosses. But it’s too strenuous for this hot weather.”

“It is, indeed,” said the visitor. “I always feel that active thought and exertion should be reserved for the more rigorous months of the year.”

“I like the summer,” murmured the inspector. “I like the flowers and the fresh leaves. I often wish I knew the names of more birds than I do.”

“So do I,” said the visitor. “I came,” the visitor continued, “to say that I have every reason to fear that a murder has been committed.”

“An atrocious one?” asked the inspector with a yawn.

“I believe so.”

“Then I suppose you had better tell me about it.”

“I will, and if you will allow me I will begin at the beginning. My name is Charles Everett and I am a solicitor in good practice at 91 Chelsea Court.”

“I don’t think you need tell me all that,” said Higgins drowsily. “I couldn’t remember it.”

“Very good. I live about thirty miles outside London in Surrey at a few miles from Little Hampstead——”

“I don’t think it matters where you live,” said the inspector.

“All right. I continue. It is my custom every morning to walk two miles across country to catch the 9.15 local for Waterloo at Finchley Junction.”

The inspector yawned.

“That’s too intricate. Just get to the murder itself.”

“This morning,” continued the solicitor, “according to my wont——”

“According to your what?” asked Higgins.

“My wont. I was walking through a little wood when I was surprised, I might say horrified——”

“No, don’t say that,” murmured the inspector.

“——to see the body of a man lying beside a tree close to the bank of a little stream. The body was that of a middle-aged or elderly man respectably dressed. It was attired in a light gray suit, with white spats below the trousers, and a gray Homburg hat lay on the grass near it. Even in the cursory glance I gave to it, I noticed a heavy gold watch chain showing beside the waistcoat pocket, which led me to infer that robbery had not been the object of the murder. Leaving everything undisturbed——But you’re not listening.”

“Yes, yes,” said the inspector, “I heard it all. I merely dozed off for a moment. You found a body in a little wood, quite so. You often find them like that. Go on.”

“Leaving everything undisturbed, I made my way to the junction and so to London and to my office. I meant to report the matter at once, but owing to the extreme heat of the weather——”

“Do you know,” said Inspector Higgins, “I think that this is about as hot a spell as I remember. I say, how would you like a cool drink? There’s a new American bar just round the corner this side of Westminster Bridge where we might get something.”

A few minutes later the inspector and the solicitor were standing in front of the long counter of an American bar while two tall glasses in which an iced drink clinked with delicious invitation, stood before them.

“By the way,” said Higgins, “I interrupted you. You were talking in the office about a murder.”

“Ah, yes, I’d forgotten.”

“That’s all right,” said Higgins. “But I’ll tell you what we can do, if you like. We’ll take a car and drive down into Surrey and have a look at it. I know a road to Finchley that’s a little bit roundabout, but makes a really pleasant drive.”

“The country certainly seems inviting in this weather,” answered Everett.

“And I tell you,” continued the inspector, “we might as well take lunch with us. I suppose, miss,” he added, turning to the barmaid, “that you could put us up a snack in a lunch basket, couldn’t you?”

“Oh, yes, sir,” answered the girl readily. “What would you like, sir? We could give you a cold chicken, a made-up salad, sir, with a cold meat pie, if you care for it.”

“Excellent. And you might put in half a dozen of bottled ale and a couple of pints of claret.—And now I’ll tell you another idea. I don’t know whether you care for fishing——”

“My dear fellow!” exclaimed the solicitor, “I’m passionately fond of it.”

“Well, do you know, in so many of these little streams even within thirty miles of London, though you’ll hardly believe it, one can often pick up some excellent brook trout.”

“Delightful!” said Everett.

“I’ll fetch a couple of rods and then we’ll be off.”

Three or four hours later the Police Inspector and the solicitor might have been seen seated beside a murmuring stream in the pleasant shade of a leafy wood. A delightful thirty-mile run through country lanes had brought them to the wood and the brook mentioned by Mr. Everett. The napkins that were spread upon the grass, the remains of an ample lunch, a claret bottle resting against a tree and some beer bottles cooling in the stream bore witness to the success of their outing.

Three or four brook trout, small yet delicious in appearance, lay on the grass in a shaded spot near by and proved that their angling had not been in vain. The fragrant smoke of two Havana cigars rose softly on the afternoon air.

“A wonderful outing!” murmured the solicitor. “I don’t know when I have enjoyed a day more.”

“Delightful!” agreed the inspector, “a beautiful little spot to come to. I’m glad to know of it.” Then of a sudden a thought seemed to strike him. “Dear me!” he said, “I am afraid that we’ve been forgetting something.”

“What?” asked Mr. Everett.

“Why, the body that you said you noticed early this morning somewhere in this wood!”

Just then a voice from close beside them interrupted their conversation.

“Pardon me, gentlemen,” said a man emerging from the trees, “I’m rather afraid I’ve lost my way. Can you direct me to Finchley Junction?”

The inspector and the solicitor looked up.

They saw before them a man of middle age or even elderly, wearing a light gray suit and a gray Homburg hat. They observed that he wore white spats and that a heavy gold watch chain crossed his waistcoat.

“Finchley Junction?” said the inspector. “Yes, keep on directly up the brook and then along the first road to the right.”

“Thank you,” said the elderly gentleman. “I fear I had fallen asleep and must have slept a long time. Good afternoon.”

The police inspector and the solicitor exchanged glances.

“The mystery,” said Higgins, “is solved.”

“Ah, I grasp it,” answered the solicitor. “The man was merely asleep!”

“Never mind,” said Higgins. “After all, at this time of year, it’s far more pleasant to have it end that way.”

Little Lessons in Journalism

The Feature Reporter Interviews the Captain of Industry

What really happened. . . . The high class reporter, whose specialty is for doing Pen Pictures of Personalities for The Evening Limelight is sent to interview the great self-made Captain of Industry, Mr. O. Wattaswine. He finds the magnate seated in his shirt sleeves in his office, chewing a cigar. The office room is about as plain and unadorned as the waiting room of a trolley car station. After an angry exclamation and a few grunts, Mr. Wattaswine kicks the reporter out of his office.

The trained journalist having thus got his “material” retires to his office and writes up the incident in the following terms:

meeting a magnate

It was with a feeling of something like reverential awe that one passed from the waiting room to the deep quiet of the inner office.

“He will see you now,” said the young (man) secretary who had taken one’s card.

They were simple words and yet somehow they thrilled one to one’s innermost fiber. He would see one now! This man, at whose bidding half the industry of the continent must stand still or go sideways, would see one.

One entered. For a moment one’s eyes felt unaccustomed to the half light of the room. One looked about at the paneled room, richly wainscoted, the lustrous mahogany table that took the place of an office desk. One noticed the somber Rembrandt that hung opposite to one, and the exquisite Carlo Dolci, a veritable gem, beside the window. One’s eyes caught with delight the Piccolomini that stood, not more than an inch high, on the mantel and yet indubitably a Piccolomini. Nor need one have been a connoisseur, nor even a virtuoso to recognize instantly the miniature that stood beside it.

The great Magnate of Industry turned slightly in his chair and looked at one.

One had time to make a lightning appraisal.

The head, poised on the massive shoulders, recalled somehow the Ercole Farnese of the Vatican. The brow brought back in a haunting way the portrait of Francis Bacon, at Magdalen College (upstairs at the back of the hall) while the eye suggested at once the well-known portrait of Peter the Great in the Museum at Yakutsk (downstairs first turn to the left).

One scanned the face, broad, impassive, expansive in a vain attempt to seize and hold it.

One felt baffled.

Then the mouth opened.

“Sit down, sit down,” he said.

He spoke with the quick tone of a man not accustomed to be thwarted.

One sat down.

He turned in his chair until he faced one full. He put out his hand. One took it and shook it.

“Good morning,” one said.

“Wet, ain’t it,” he replied. The words were simple, even ordinary, and yet one felt the peculiar power of them. Here was a man immersed in the quiet of his inner office, his complicated brain busy with the finance of the whole world. Yet he knew that it was wet. Somewhere in the recesses of that busy consciousness the idea that it was wet had been registered and held with the tenacious grip that marked the man. Not till it was dry would he let it go.

He said nothing further but remained as if waiting for one to speak.

One felt non-plussed. One wished naturally to speak. Yet it would have seemed the worst of Mauvais gout, an unpardonable faux pas to begin at once to talk of finance. One felt in an impasse in which savoir faire would seem to dictate a detour.

One began to speak of the art treasures in the room.

“What exquisite objets d’art!” one exclaimed. “Your Piccolomini is perfect.”

“My which?” he asked.

One detected at once the quiet vein of sarcasm underlying the simple words, only two of them, and one felt it wiser to shift the topic. One realized that with such a man there was nothing for it but direct speech, for a plunge in medias res, and immediate ad hoc, in short a statement of one’s business in flagrante delictu.

The Evening Limelight,” one said, “is anxious to ask you, Mr. Wattaswine, what is your opinion of the present expansion of business?”

“How’s that?” he said.

One realized the quiet astuteness, the characteristic acumen behind the remark. He wanted to know not only what it was but how it was.

“Of what,” one explained, “are the present buoyant conditions an index?”

“A which?” he said.

It is typical of the man that every word must be defined, must be explained, must, if need be, be spelled. Such a mind has no room for inaccuracy. It is too large. The inaccuracy, once let loose in it, would never be found again.

One hyper-simplified oneself.

“Is this good business going to last?”

The great man looked at one—calmly, dispassionately, and rather by the circular movement of the eye than by alteration in the neck—he looked at one.

“Search me,” he said. “I don’t know.”

He didn’t know! One sat amazed at the candor of it: one could hardly sit. He didn’t know, and he knew that he didn’t know. The whole of his labyrinthine mind was focused into the phrase.

One was searching for some tactful way to bring the interview to a close, some neat jeu d’esprit that would allow one to retire, when one was spared the trouble of looking for it.

The great man gave it to one himself.

“If that is all you want,” he said, “I guess you can get out of this office.”

He hit a bell.

“Show him the elevator,” he said.

Could quiet resolution assume a more tactful, more tasteful form? The man’s mind was too broad, his spirit too humanitarian to tolerate a dismissal. Instinctively he found a way out of the dilemma. It occurred to him that perhaps one had not seen an elevator: one could be shown one.

One was.


The Tabloid Journal Learns that Ella Smith Has Eloped with the Hired Man

What really happened was this. Ella Smith, a grown up girl of about nineteen or twenty or twenty-five, or around there, went off one afternoon with the hired man. Nobody noticed it much at the time. Mr. Smith, who owns a fifty acre farm about a thousand miles from New York and four miles from any other railway station was picking up pumpkins in the field when one of the younger children came and said, “Say, pa, Ella’s skipped off with Bill and ma says they’ve run away.” Mr. Smith said, “Well, Gosh ding that girl anyway!” In the latter part of the afternoon Ella and Bill were back again. They’d been over and got married before a justice of the peace at Centerville. They were back in time to help with the last load of pumpkins that came up to the barn. Ella is a quiet dub but the hired man they called Bill had come out from England only a year before and he had evidently had some schooling. As a matter of fact he had attended a night school in Bolton, Lancashire, where he took a course in plumbing, and a course in electric fixtures and internal heat. It was because he came from England that the Tabloid Weekly saw its chance to write up the episode thus:


dashing high school brunette elopes with oxford graduate

Inspired with desperate love which led her to disregard the agonized appeal of her parents, Ella Smith, a beautiful high school graduate of seven-teen, deliberately smashed a happy home by going, with William Rufus Montgomery, before a justice of the peace, a reckless young Oxford graduate, leaving her beautiful home near Centerville and getting married.

Pretty little Ella in conversation with a Tabloid reporter soon after her flight said, “I just had to do it. I love Billy so much.”

It appears that Mr. Smith at the time of the elopement was down in his pumpkin field, presumably playing golf. His wife, whose name is Mrs. Smith, was occupied indoors, probably sorting out calling cards from yesterday.

The whole neighborhood has been thrown into the wildest confusion. A posse, in fact half a dozen posses, of local farmers armed to the teeth with shotguns in their shirt sleeves are scouring the woods while the police are occupying every dive and speakeasy in Centerville that they can find. Mrs. Smith, the mother, is said to be prostrated with grief, absolutely flat.

The young man in question whose name is given as William Rufus Montgomery is described as “tall, short, dark but with spots of light.”

It is thought that the couple are making for the Canadian border, either that or the Mexican frontier or else Cuba.

Two Hours Later. Escorted by a large concourse of happy friends and falling into the arms of her weeping mother, pretty little Ella Smith all in tears sobbed out her appeal for forgiveness on her return home whither she had been tracked by bulldogs.

Ella and her new husband, handsome young William R. Montgomery, now reconciled with the young bride’s parents, will take up their home with the bride’s family, occupying the room over the summer kitchen.

More Literary Scandals

Reputations of Adam, Noah, and Tut-ankh-Amen Shaken to the Very Base

It appears that in England another great literary scandal has just broken out. Somebody has written up—in veiled form—the life of some Royal Duke or Royal Prince or Royal Person, and a terrific storm of discussion has ensued. I am not sure of the details of the matter, but it seems to be one of those biographical cyclones that sweep over the reading public every six months. The reputation of everybody concerned has been shaken to its base and the public is having a glorious time.

It appears from the book that the Countess of X (who has been dead only ninety years) was very seriously compromised with Prince Q (buried in 1840) and that Lord P (only 38 in 1819) was in reality a half-brother of the ex-King of Corfu who died of hydrophobia at Baden-Baden in 1850.

Things like these keep people in London awake all night.

The publishers of the new book wrap themselves up in mystery and deny any knowledge of anything.

But the outlook in the commercial sense is so encouraging that we may look forward to further sensations in the near future, as thus reported in the press of the next few months:

literary sensation for january: reputation of adam blasted

Terrific excitement has been aroused in the book world by the publication of a new work, ostensibly a novel, under the title “The First Gardener,” which is in reality a thinly veiled attack on Adam.

In the book Adam, who appears under the disguised name of McAdam, holds a position as caretaker in a zoological garden from which the public are excluded and which is plainly meant for the Garden of Eden. The book is intended to expose McAdam’s utter ignorance of gardening and lack of any qualification for the care of animals, McAdam having obtained his post merely, so it is implied, for the lack of a better man.

Keen controversy has broken out in literary circles as to whether the strictures in the book are justified by the facts. Among hostile critics of the book, Dean Ding Dong reminds his readers that after all, thanks to Adam’s care, we have the animals with us now and as the Dean says in his caustic way, “Look at them!”

Several of the leading scientists, however, take the other side and claim that the animals on the whole are a bum lot, much distorted from what they might have been by Adam’s ignorance of veterinary surgery.

Still greater interest centers around the personality of Eve, disguised as Eva in the book. It is hinted—indeed, more than hinted—that Eva was never properly married in church to McAdam. The sweeping effect of this indictment in its consequences for the whole human race is only too obvious.

The story closely parallels the accepted story of Adam and Eve at every point. Mr. Satin, Eva’s friend, who spends much time with the McAdams in their garden, is thought by the reviewers to represent a carefully veiled attack on Satan. The sale reached half a million copies last week.

literary sensation for february: reputation of noah exploded

“Life on the Ocean Wave.” This book, which has created the principal furor of the London season, is plainly and simply nothing more than an attack on the life of Noah. It is framed as a work of fiction, but the disguise is not difficult to remove, in so much as Captain Noherty is in command of a ship called the Ark which sails from Port Arrowroot. Keen-eyed reviewers at once called the public’s attention to the close resemblance between Noah and Noherty, Ararat and Arrowroot, Shem and Jim, and so forth.

In addition to showing Noah, or Noherty, as a hopelessly incompetent navigator, the novel represents him as having been twice married, so that Shem and Ham were only half brothers to Japheth. This last innuendo has excited London up to the boiling point.

The new book is having an enormous circulation, little else being talked of in fashionable and literary circles.

literary sensation for march: daring expose of tut-ankh-amen

A work professing to be a novel, but more daring in its personal denunciation than any of the recent literary sensations, has just appeared in the form of an attack on the reputation of Tut-ankh-Amen. The book is from cover to cover a scathing diatribe on the late King of Egypt, masked under the title “The Life and Times of Touting Common King of Ghejypt.”

The book presents a picture of the late ruler of Egypt very different from that which has been hitherto accepted as history. Most people have supposed that Tut-ankh-Amen was born in the year 3431 b.c. or the Egyptian year, 22,608; the new novel daringly changes the date of the king’s birth and sets him back five years, which makes him 105 years old at the time of his tenth marriage instead of one hundred, as most of us have thought.

The number of the king’s wives, hitherto put at twenty-five, is boosted up to two hundred and twenty-five. There are, moreover, chapters of intimate gossip between Tut-ankh-Amen and Methuselah that reveal things about both of them that had hitherto only been whispered. There are also some deliciously naughty chapters about Tut-ankh-Amen’s mother-in-law (aged 203) which all London is eating up with avidity.

In spite of the literary sensation and the commercial profit effected by the appearance of the “Life of Touting Common,” a certain amount of antagonistic feeling has been called forth against the future issue of such a publication. “After all,” says a distinguished M.P., “we ought to remember that the late king was the sovereign of a friendly and allied state with which our history has been closely connected. Whether true or not, the innuendoes of the book cannot but fail to be distasteful, indeed painful, to his descendants, of whom we believe there are several hundred thousand now in Soudan.”

On the other hand, it is also claimed that our current fiction needs just this kind of brightening up and that we want not less but more of it. There is room, it is said, for a snappy little book on Nebuchadnezzar and for a bright little skit on The Thirteenth Ming Dynasty of China. Indeed, it is whispered that an eminent firm is preparing to bring out a whole series to be called “Naughty Old Men” and sweep the market clean.

Who Reads What

Tell Me Who You Are and I’ll Tell You What You Read

A little while ago the Psychological Department of one of the big colleges sent out a questionnaire to find out what kind of people read what kind of books. They sent the questions out to business men, to clergymen, to stenographers, to bootleggers—to all kinds of people.

So far as I know, the answers have not all come in yet or are not yet all sorted. But as far as the result goes, I am quite certain that I can give advance information as to what it will be, or at least as to what it ought to be. Let me take a few types of people and show the kind of things that they read.


Sophy of the Soda-Fountain

Here, for example, is the case of Sophy of the soda-fountain. All day she stands behind the fountain dishing out chocolate sundaes and ice cream eclairs. In her ear is all the noise of Broadway, in her eye the glitter of a thousand lights. And in the pauses of her labor she hops up on a high stool and draws from a shelf behind her a tattered book in a paper cover, and reads this—:

“As the Countess thus sat at one side of the vast shaded lawn of The Chase, she became aware that Lord Flop was moving across the grass to join her. She realized that he was taking advantage of her momentary isolation in order to seek the tête-à-tête that for some time past she had at once dreaded and desired.

“The moment was opportune for Lord Flop.

“The Honorable Edward de Montmorency was at the tennis net with the Honorable Bertie de Courtenay. The Honorable Eleanor de Longshank was idly chatting with the Honorable Alicia de Bourg, whose father, Lord Bughouse, had just retired to the cool shades of the library, while Lord Lush had just challenged the Baron de Pâté de Foie Gras and the Vicomte du Plat du Jour to a three-handed game of pin ball in the ancestral billiard room.

“Lord Flop drew near and dropped upon one knee.

“ ‘Lady Mush,’ he murmured, ‘Isobel, let me press my suit!’

“ ‘Nay, nay,’ cried the Countess, ‘do not press it yet. Wait a little longer.’

“ ‘Not so,’ pleaded Lord Flop, ‘hear me and flee not, Isobel, I have waited long already; my love for you——’

“The Countess put her hands to her ears. ‘Not yet, Charles,’ she exclaimed, ‘not yet. Wait but a little while—a year.’

“ ‘Alas!’ murmured Lord Flop, ‘I have waited two years already.’

“ ‘Make it three, I beg,’ pleaded the Countess.

“Lord Flop rose. ‘Be it so,’ he said, gloomily, and then, his head bowed, he moved mournfully away among the elms.”

“Oh, gee!” murmurs Sophy, as she reluctantly puts the book back on the shelf and hops off the stool to serve a chocolate eclair, “ain’t that the life!”

The Countess Isobel

But meantime the Countess—that is to say if she were a real one—having told Lord Flop that he must yet wait three years, has retired to her boudoir—done in blue and white, with pictures by Watteau—and there, throwing herself into a chair, is able to forget her perplexities in the fascinating pages of a new novel just from New York, in which she reads—what? This:

“That next night when Maggie came out of the drug store, Billy was there waiting for her.

“ ‘Gee!’ he said, ‘you’re some kid! You certainly look good to me.’

“ ‘Garn,’ she snapped, giving him a smack over the mouth with a banana skin, ‘don’t pull that stuff on me. I wasn’t born yesterday, see!’

“ ‘Honest, kid,’ said Billy, ‘I mean it, see——’

“ ‘Cheese it,’ Maggie exclaimed, and gave him a smack over the face. ‘I’m sick of that love stuff.’

“Billy grabbed her by the arm and gave it a sharp twist behind her back. ‘You wanta drop that rough stuff, see! I tell you I’m all stuck on youse and you gotta marry me, see, you gotta!’

“He gave the girl’s arm another twist, till she cried out with pain.

“ ‘Lemme go!’ she half shrieked, half sobbed.

“He loosed her arm for a moment.

“Maggie leaped back and gave him a kick on the shins. ‘I don’t love yer!’ she said.

“ ‘You do!’ he rejoined fiercely, grabbing her by the ear.

“ ‘Leggo me ear!’ she yelled, driving her fist against his eye.

“ ‘Will yer marry me, then?’ he said fiercely.

“ ‘I guess I gotta,’ she replied humbly, her pride tamed.”

“Ah!” sighed the Countess, as she put down the book, “how wonderful life like that must be.”


The Archdeacon Goes To Sea

Now let us take another example. Seated in an armchair in the quiet study of his home, Archdeacon Paunch has picked up a book to read. The archdeacon is known over half a continent as one of the leading scholars and greatest preachers of his day. In fact, his published sermons have had an enormous vogue. But at present he has snatched a quiet half hour from the heart of a busy day and has settled down in his study chair with a volume of his favorite literature. Which is—what? It runs like this:—

“ ‘Man the lee braces!’ shouted the captain, his voice heard even above the roaring of the storm and the rattling of the canvas. ‘Down helm and bring her up to the wind! Cut away the jib halliards! Stand by to cut away the foreshrouds, if the foremast goes. Steady now, hold her there!’

“The ship lay almost on her beam ends, the sudden fury of the gale howling in the rigging and slatting the canvas with a roar like that of artillery. The sea had not yet risen to its height, but even now great waves began to leap over the forward rail and flood along the deck. The crew were huddled under the windward bulwark, with axes ready to cut away the shrouds. The maintopsail had been blown from its bolt ropes and streamed in tatters to the rising gale. The foretopgallantmast had broken off short and hung in a raffle to leeward.

“For a few moments it seemed as if the great ship was doomed. But no—the superb seamanship of Captain Bilgewater was pitted against the fury of the elements. With the helm hard down and the lee afterbraces sheeted home on the main and mizzen, she reached gradually into the wind, righting as she came.

“ ‘Saved!’ cried the captain, as the gallant vessel lifted herself with the wind.

“But at that very moment——”

Yes, at that very moment there came a knock at the study door and the archdeacon, recognizing the signal that called him back to work, reluctantly laid aside the volume called “Upside Down in the Ocean,” and resumed his laborious day.

Captain Bilgewater Goes Ashore

And meantime, somewhere away out on the South Atlantic Ocean, or the Indian Ocean—it doesn’t matter—it is night time and there is quite a storm blowing around the sailing ship, Pride of Nantucket, outward bound for Thibet.

The wind howls, but down in his bunk, with a whale-oil light to see by, and with the roar of the waves and the heaving of the ship entirely disregarded, Captain Bilgewater, the real Captain Bilgewater, is reading. This:

“It may be questioned, therefore, whether the second book of Daniel, as explained in an earlier part of my sermon, is intended as a continuation of the third book of Ezekiel or vice versa. The account of the Hittites given in each shows a complete similarity, but on the other hand the lack of all reference by Ezekiel to the valley of Moab, or even to the Jordan itself, makes us doubt whether the writing is not perhaps of an earlier date——”

At which point a furious pounding on the deck over the captain’s head gave the call for “All Hands!” and the captain with a sigh marked the place in his volume of Sermons by Archdeacon Paunch and reluctantly drew on his sea boots for the coming struggle.


Clarence and The Bootlegger

“Gee!” said Clarence, as he and Desmond sat up in bed reading “Hull Down on the Horizon, or Ned Fearless Captured by Bootleggers.” “Listen to this, ain’t this great?”

“From the deck of the bootlegging craft, The Amendment, they could now see that the U. S. Cutter was rapidly approaching, a great crest of foam rising in front of her bows while the smoke streamed behind her in the breeze.

“ ‘Bang, bang!’ went her two forward guns and simultaneously two shells bracketed the Amendment, casting a great splash of foam on both the larboard and the starboard bows.

“ ‘Get ready the gun!’ yelled the bootlegger captain, livid with anger, with a ferocious oath that caused young Ned Fearless, who thus found himself against his will resisting the navy of his own country, to turn away his head with a blush.

“The chase was now fast and furious, but the end could not long be delayed.

“The Amendment, in spite of her magnificent build and powerful engines, was loaded down with twenty thousand twenty-six ounce bottles of Scotch whiskey worth four dollars apiece in Quebec and fifteen dollars each in New Orleans. Her speed was crippled, while the thought of what she carried roused the crew of the United States Coastal Cutter to a frenzy of indignation.

“A third shell from the cutter crashed through the upper gear of the Amendment.

“ ‘Get ready the gun again!’ yelled the skipper, while the crew, half reluctant, began tearing off the tarpaulins from the long four-inch gun camouflaged at the stern of the vessel.

“The moment was critical.

“Ned Fearless stepped forward and picked up an iron handspike. ‘Stop loading that gun!’ he shouted. ‘Captain Seashell, if a man on this boat fires a shot against the American flag, I’ll brain him on the spot.’

“Quick as lightning and with another oath worse than the last one, Captain Seashell drew a revolver and leveled it at Ned.

“But in that instant a sudden puff of smoke and a roar from the cutter’s gun——”

(To be continued in the next number)

“Ah, gee!” said Desmond. “It’s ended. I wonder what’s going to happen next? Ain’t it queer how the stories always end in an exciting place? I hope Ned is too quick for that bootlegger.”

The Bootlegger and the Bed Time Story

And meantime, somewhere down on the placid Gulf of Mexico where it is always afternoon, a real bootlegger is sitting in the sunshine on the deck of his craft reading. He is seated in the cozy hollow of a couple of casks of brandy with his feet away up on the ship’s rail. It is the drowsy hour of the day when all is peace, while the rippled waters of the gulf scarcely rock the ship, and the soft wind hardly fills the murmuring canvas. And the bootlegger read—what?

Bed Time Story No. 7620

“So next day when the two boys came to the Hollow Tree, Wee Wee, the white mouse, wasn’t there. They looked all around in the tall grass and under the sticks, but not a trace of Wee Wee could they see. High up in the air old Mr. Hoverhigh, the hawk, looked down and, of course, he knew where Wee Wee was, but the boys didn’t. And away up in the top of the elm tree, Cheep Cheep, the chipmunk, could see and he knew, but, of course, he wasn’t going to tell either. . . .”

And just at that moment one of the crew slouched over across the deck. “Bill,” he said, “get up and get busy. Here’s a motor launch coming out for her load.”

“Darn!” said the bootlegger as he left the bright world of romance for the cruel existence of the working day.

Overhauling the Encyclopedia

How to Make it Bigger, Brighter, Brainier

It seems that the year 1930 is going to be a year of encyclopedias, judging at least by the number of new editions just from the press.

If this is so, the moment is ripe for a little discussion of the encyclopedia question. A few timely suggestions to the editors and publishers might be of great assistance before they go to press. Personally, I can properly claim the right to give a little advice of this sort. My encyclopedia is my constant friend. I spend many a dreamy hour buried in its pages. I never go out to dinner without first hunting up a few topics of conversation in it, and when it says a thing, I believe it.

But even at that, I think it could be improved.

In the first place, I’d like to suggest that the new encyclopedia ought to begin with Z. We have all got pretty well fed up with A. We know it too well. Everybody who buys an encyclopedia always begins with reading up the letter A, and each time he stops and starts over he begins with A again.

Thus the other night at dinner, anxious to make conversation with the lady next to me, I said:

“Your mentioning the month of April reminds me of a rather curious fact in connection with the letter A. It appears that this letter of ours corresponds with the first symbol of the Phœnician alphabet, and represents not a vowel, but merely a breathing.”

“Indeed,” she replied, “and has not the form of the letter varied considerably? It was, unless I am wrong, in the earliest of the Phœnician, Aramaic, and Greek inscriptions (the oldest Phœnician dating from, perhaps, 1000 b.c.) The letter rests upon its side. But as borrowed by the Romans, it very early assumed an upright form.”

“Quite so,” I interposed, “as, for instance, in the inscription on a golden fibula——”

“Found, I believe, at Prœneste,” she added, “in the year 1886.”

“Exactly,” I answered with some warmth, “but not differing markedly from the letter A in the inscription unearthed in the Roman Forum——”

“In 1899,” she said with a sigh, and then added: “It seems a little sad, does it not, to think that the upright form of the A never seems to have been found in the early Bœotian and Locrian dialects of Greek——”

“Or only sporadically,” I said, after which there was silence.

To break it, I turned to my neighbor on the other side.

“You were in Europe this summer, were you not? Did you visit the river Aa?”

“Yes,” she replied. “We went all the way from Aalberg to Aalen, though as a matter of fact the name Aa is applied to a number of small European rivers and is perhaps derived from the old German Aha!”

“Which, I imagine,” I replied, “is cognate to the Latin Aqua.” But I spoke without any great enthusiasm. I realized that I was blocked on both sides. When I get my new encyclopedia, I am going to talk about the River Zizz, and the alarming growth of zymotic diseases. That ought to prove the last word.

Another little bit of advice that I want to give the encyclopedia editors is to suggest that they cut out all this seesee—business. All readers will know what I mean. You no sooner get started reading something in the encyclopedia than it immediately says: see something else. Thus——

Napoleon, the greatest general of modern times (see Time), was born at Ajaccio in Corsica (turn to Corsica and see Ajaccio). He was educated at the Royal Military School at Brienne, where he showed a marked talent for mathematics (see Long Division). Entering the French Army at the outbreak of the Revolution (see it), Bonaparte rose rapidly in rank. His victory over the English at Toulon (see Toulon and have a laugh at the English) earned him promotion. In 1798 he invaded Italy at the head of a French army and in a few months the plains of Lombardy lay at his feet (see Feet). He was made First Consul of the Republic (see Republic, Public, Public House, Publication, and Publishers) and in 1804 Emperor. Within ten years he conquered all Europe (see All Europe); but his crushing defeat by the Scotch at Waterloo (see Scotch, Hot Scotch, Gin and Soda) led to his exile at St. Helena (see Helen of Troy). Here he died in 1821. His remains were afterwards removed to Paris, where they lie in a stately sarcophagus in the Invalides (see Sarcophagus, Oesophagus, Paris, Invalid, Invalid Chair, etc., etc.).

Now one has to admit that that kind of thing gets tiresome. There is no time to “see” all these things. Any reader who really looked them up would never get any further. And yet they constantly tempt the reader in an alluring way into sidepaths and on into the woods.

How much better to let the article itself do all the telling. Let me illustrate it by showing how to write an encyclopedia article on the United States. Any editor who cares to use this article may have it in return for a complete set of his encyclopedia, a gold watch and a handsome lady’s hatpin—or any lady’s hatpin.

The United States, a republic of North America situated between the twentieth and the forty-ninth parallels of north latitude. By latitude is meant an imaginary circular line drawn around the earth at a fixed angular distance from the equator. The equator means a great circle described around the globe at right angles to its axis. An axis means anything on which anything turns, such as, for example, the wheels of a wagon. The use of the wagon is very ancient. We read in Diodorus Siculus that the ancient Etruscans made use of wagons whose wheels were made by sawing through the trunks of trees. In many parts of the ancient world trees grew to an enormous size and height, as for example the cedars of Lebanon, which were the admiration of antiquity and were of vast longevity. The best-known example of longevity actually recorded is that of Thomas Parr, or “Old Parr,” who is said to have lived from the reign of Henry VIII to that of Charles II and who is buried in Westminster Abbey. The abbey itself is a magnificent building, Norman in its original conception, but owing much to the later genius of Inigo Jones. Jones may be regarded as perhaps the greatest of the Italian architects of the Renaissance, though his work in London is overshadowed by the more numerous and fortunate creations of the great Sir Christopher Wren. The wren is a small bird found throughout the northern hemisphere, especially in Europe and in the United States. The United States is a republic of North America situated between the twentieth and forty-ninth parallels—and there you are round again.

To make the article complete, it is only necessary to add: (See Latitude, Equator, Axis, Tree, Longevity, Abbey, Jones, and Wren).

Jazzled Journalism

What Would Happen if the Specialty Writers Changed Jobs

Few people realize the amount of care and thought and brains that has been put into the newspapers that we toss so carelessly aside. Few people realize how highly trained, how highly specialized is the talent that goes to build them up, feature by feature, page by page and section by section.

Here is a whole staff of writers, a little army, every one of whom represents expert knowledge and exercised art. Here is the work of a man with twenty years knowledge of the stock exchange behind him; on the next page some gifted woman shows in correspondence with despairing lovers her knowledge of the human heart. Here is a page of fashions that imply an intimate knowledge of Parisian taste: a column of jokes that carry us back to Ancient Egypt: a diplomatic editorial the writer of which ought to have been a prime minister; and so on through the list.

The careless reader buried of a Sunday morning along with his coffee and toast among the sheets of his vast Sunday edition thinks little of all this.

But just suppose that by some odd chance of fate the faultless machinery broke down, suppose the staff writers in some way got mixed up and changed places. What then? The reader would very soon realize how wonderful is the intellectual adjustment when he got results such as here follow.


What Would Happen if the Lady Editor of the Heart-to-Heart All-Girls-Together Column Took Over the Stock Exchange Page.

yesterday’s market—gray the prevailing color—many chic costumes in evidence—pants shorter than ever

Yesterday was on the whole a very dull day on the exchange, so everybody assured me, though in spite of it I noticed one or two very pretty spring effects that give an excellent forecast of what will be worn in the summer. I had a few moments’ chat with Mr. Bing, a very tall striking man, the senior partner and floor member of Messrs. Bing & Bong, Wall St. He was wearing a light summer gray suit of a clinging Spanish wool, over a Cambridge blue negligee shirt cut very full over the breast and held down with braces adjusted with pulleys. His tie was a very simple but recherché effect in a broad sage green carried under a starched double collar in a single sweep past the ears and round the neck.

Looking around the exchange it seemed to me that gray is likely to be the prevailing tone, if one can judge so early in the season, but I noticed here and there some distinct signs of brighter color. One sweet thing in a bottle green especially caught my eye. The coat was cut very full and brought in over the waistline by a single button, the top thrown open so as to show a hay-green soft shirt with the dainty edge of a handkerchief in the side pocket. The pants were cut very, very full, and swung high above the top of the boots. There were one or two very pretty dull blues moving about, mostly a deep French bleu foncé to harmonize with the walls of the room.

I heard a good deal of talk about the recent collapse of credit which, so they say, is likely to check foreign importations. I imagine this means that a lot of the new French designs in men’s trousers will have to be held over. Altogether it seems likely to be a dull season unless the wholesale trade will find some way of carrying the brokers’ accounts.


If the Semi-Medical Editor of the How-to-Keep-Strong Column Wrote the Answers for the Lovers and Others Correspondence Page.


Agonized Anita. You say that the young man that you have been going out with regularly for six months has not come near you for a fortnight and you want my advice what to do. You say that you have a sort of sinking feeling all the time and that you don’t seem able to eat anything and keep waking up at night. The symptoms you describe strongly suggest an acidulated condition of the œsophagus, easily remedied by taking half a dozen tablets of hydrated phosphate of magnesia just before retiring. The sinking feeling you describe is not serious and is probably merely due to a partial collapse of the lining of the stomach easily set right by taking another half dozen tablets of hydrated phosphate of magnesia before retiring. The wakefulness at night, insomnia precox, is not lightly to be disregarded as it might lead to grave disorders either in the cerebellum or right slap in the proscenium. For any such trouble the very best thing to take is about a dozen tablets of hydrated phosphate of magnesia immediately before getting into bed. Take the tablets and then get in with one spring. Deep breathing exercises, keeping the mouth shut, and kept up all day in the open air will afford relief, or at least keep you busy.

Perplexed Edward. You write to me that you are a young man of twenty-one, just out of college, and that you have strong literary leanings but so far you have met nothing but failure. You have done several short stories which you are certain are first class but no editor will consider them. Something tells you that you can write, but so far no one seems to see it. You have an intense feeling towards the drama and have written three plays none of which are able to get a hearing. You want my advice as to what you should do to bring yourself forward. Have you ever tried a little hydrated phosphate of magnesia taken either in tablets or dissolved in proportions of twenty to one in tap water. I think that if, before sitting down to write your next play, you were to take about three dozen tablets, you could put more power in them. Remember that health means energy and energy spells success. Try a little deep breathing every morning as soon as you arise, standing on one leg in front of the open window.

Lonely Widow. You write that the world seems empty to you and that you lack the power of making friends. You long for companionship and can’t get it. Try a little hydrated phosphate of magnesia.

Octogenarian. You say you are not what you were. No doubt you are. Try a little hydrated phosphate of magnesia.


If the Literary Critic—whose Line is Caustic, Scathing Criticism—wrote up the Sunday Sermons Page.


Abraham, Life of—Sermon Delivered Yesterday in the Amalgamated Church, by the Rev. Elderberry Dingdong, 11.30 a.m. to 12.25 p.m.


Frankly, we can find nothing to say in praise of this sermon except that it might, conceivably, have been longer. A more mixed up, confused rambling discourse, if we can call it a discourse, we have never listened to. In this biography of Abraham, if we can designate such a mess a biography, we look in vain for the lambent wit with which Mr. Lytton Strachey has dissected the life of Queen Victoria or the caustic epigrams with which Sir Andrew Macphail has recently dissolved the illusion of Lawrence in Arabia.

Of the private life of Abraham no disclosures are made whatever: as far as we can see this sermon adds nothing whatever to our previous knowledge of the patriarch. The whole performance lacked pep and punch. The Rev. Mr. Dingdong is, we are sure, an excellent man in his private life,—though no doubt that might need a little looking into,—but when it comes to dealing with a biography he is hopelessly outclassed.

We find his enunciation also very indistinct and difficult to follow. We don’t like his voice, either: there is something sheepish about it,—especially the way he keeps saying “Ah”braham,—which gets on our nerves. But what made us most tired was the sight of him. There is something irritating in his insignificant figure and his limp way of standing. We couldn’t help contrasting him with the King of Norway and Douglas Fairbanks. He isn’t in it with either of them. If this is the kind of sermon that the Amalgamated proposes to run this season, we prophesy for them a greatly diminished house with receipts at the vanishing point.


Or Suppose That the Man who Writes the Funny Column Was Assigned to Do the Foreign News Items.


Here is the kind of thing that would result.

Laughable Incident in Vienna. Yesterday during the session of the Austrian parliament a bomb was thrown from the gallery to the floor of the house and exploded in a most amusing way among the deputies. A number of them were lifted through the windows in the most comical fashion and landed covered with dust on the sidewalk outside.

Funny Episode in London. Yesterday one of the Charing Cross busses collided in a most laughable way with a motor truck, the passengers on the top of the bus flying in all directions through the air. The most amusing part of the incident was that the driver of the bus got knocked off his seat clean into an open sewer.

Open Air Fun in China. The high floods of the Hoang Ho and the Yangtse have drowned about a hundred thousand Chinese: the rest are floating round on their houses in the most ludicrous fashion.

Joke in Java. A violent eruption of Mount Melaya has buried a whole village. The joke is that the incident happened just at the time when a great crowd of native pilgrims had come to town.

Funny Wheeze in Europe. Latest advices by cable seem to indicate that the Germans can’t pay a cent on reparations. This seems to mean that Germany will go bankrupt and that there will be another world war within a few months. Certainly the laugh is on the Allies.

This Heart-to-Heart Stuff

Some “Birdie-Birdie” Shot for the “Kiddy-Kiddy” Writers

I want to express my opinion right here and now to the reading public that there is getting to be far too much of this “heart-to-heart,” “brother-brother,” “service” stuff in the world of to-day. I refer to all sorts of letters, circulars, communications—everybody knows just the kind of stuff I mean.

Who writes it, and just why they write it, I don’t know. Some of them, I imagine, mistake it for “efficiency”; some of them are just a little soft in the head, and some of them, more likely still, are just the sort of low-down pups who would really write it.

In the old-fashioned days when a man wanted to sell you furniture, he put up an advertising sign over his place of business, “John Smith, Furniture”; he put advertisements in the paper, “John Smith, Corner of Smith and John Streets, Furniture”; and he may have even gone so far as to send you by mail a printed circular, “Mr. John Smith begs to call your attention to his fine stock of furniture—tables and chairs in all designs.”

But further than that he did not go. You could buy his things or leave them alone. He wasn’t going to get down and crawl and whine about it; he wasn’t going to get off a whole lot of sob-stuff about your home and your “little folks.”

But listen to the stuff sent out by his descendants, The John Smith Furniture Company, of to-day. Here’s their last letter:

Mr. Citizen:

What about a little new furniture for that home of yours! How about an easy, cozy leather chair for your den, old man? And while we’re talking about your den——

Notice that—“while we are talking about your den.” Who’s talking about it? He is. I’m not. I haven’t got a den, but if I had I know what I’d do with it. I’d put a couple of hyenas in it and let the “come-along” man go in and talk to them.

His letter continues:

While we are talking about your den, how about one of our adjustable all-trash bookcases? If you haven’t seen them, let our Mr. Smith come up and show you one.

And while we are speaking of furniture, won’t you want something for the wife, too? Couldn’t we help to brighten up that little boudoir of wifie’s? And how about the little folks’ bedroom? A good idea would be to let the little tots have under their feet one of our all-goat’s-wool bedroom rugs from Siberia, Saskatchewan. These rugs are guaranteed to keep the little chips’ feet warm in the winter.

And I wonder if the little nuts would like one of our Kiddy-Kiddy bookcases, all made of pure bamboo from our own Bamboo plantations at Bam, Boo County, Pa.

Suppose our Mr. Smith takes a run up to your home (he’d be delighted to do it) and has a run-round with the kiddies and sees how they are?

To which I would want to say that if he does come—he or any one like him, who writes the “brother-brother” letters—I’d like to receive him with a shotgun loaded up to the muzzle in both barrels with bird shot—what he would call “birdie-birdie shot”—and I know exactly where I’d like to hit him as he turned to go.

It is always on the question of children that these brother-brother people are especially strong. They have a silly idea that any parent’s heart will open at once as soon as they refer to “that boy” or “those boys of yours.”

Take the school advertisements and circulars. A decent correspondence school is content to advertise in a decent way: “The Jefferson Correspondence School: Courses in Shorthand, Typewriting, Accountancy, etc.” If you’ve said that, you’ve said it all. Beyond that, any further, intimate talk is just bunkum, just froth, worthless, and tiresome. No one is coaxed or flattered or deceived by it, except the poor nut who writes it. This is the sort of drivel that he writes:

Well, what about that boy? Coming along pretty well, eh? That’s good! That’s fine! And what are you going to make of him? Not thought much about it yet; no, naturally you hardly would. But perhaps we might give you a little help, a few pointers as to what might be done. We know all about it, you know. All the kiddies write us, and our heart is just so big that we have room for them all.

Well, then, about that boy of yours, or shall we say this boy of ours? Pretty good at figures, eh? Kind of natural-born calculator. I wonder if you’ve ever happened to see our text book, “Calcullatics or The Science of Calculation,” by Professor Calk? The professor swears it’s the biggest thing since Isaac Newton. We tell him he ought to sell it at a big price and make money out of it. But, no, he doesn’t care about money; he just goes right along selling his books at a plain $5.00 a copy. Even at that he sells thousands.

You say the boy has a taste for measurement! Always measuring things, eh? Ha, ha—hum—hum—let’s think. Here’s an idea. How about a correspondence course in practical land-surveying? Ten lessons gives him his diploma of T.K.F., or he can get the diploma straight away, without the lessons, if we classify him as registered first on the report of Professor Crook; perhaps he can get the registration, perhaps not; at any rate, send along a specimen of his handwriting, with ten dollars, to our Professor Crook and we’ll see what we can do with it.

Or has the little lad a taste for telegraphy? Edison began with that. Perhaps the little fellow is an Edison? Who knows? The little soap-sud may turn out a scientist. Anyway, send along ten dollars. . . .

And so on, and so on; more of it and still more of it. In earlier days there used to be vigilance committees for this kind of man. They turned up outside his door some quiet evening on horseback, with a lariat hanging on the pommel of the saddle, with a loop on the end of it all ready for a hanging.

Where are those committees now? We need them back.

The trouble with these brother-brother people is that they disfigure the whole of life with the pretense of sentiments that they don’t feel. Life is not all brotherhood or service—at least not outside of Salt Lake City. Business is business; has been and always will be. Part of it is hard; but it is not made softer by throwing over it a whitewash of hypocrisy.

If I owe a man an account and am slow in paying it, I much prefer to have him write and say:

Dear Sir:

Your account for $10.15 has been overdue at my store for six months. If you don’t get it settled by next Tuesday, I am going to sue you.

That’s the way to do it—the real stuff. There’s no come-along, brother-brother stuff about that. But look at the way in which the brother-brother man deals with it:

Mr. friend and customer:

Well, say, now what do you think? Looking over our books, we notice that same darned old $10.15 never paid yet! Guess you must have kind of clear forgotten it, eh? Well! Well! All right, send us along your check and let’s both have a good laugh over it. And say, stick on 67 cents for interest, will you, just to make the laugh all the jollier? Don’t forget it this time, old fellow, because Mr. Snide of our law department is such a darned old crank (we often laugh with him over what a crank he is) that he swears he’s going to haul you up into court next Tuesday. Well, so long, old boy, don’t forget, ten fifteen and sixty-seven cents, next Tuesday, or jail ten days. Good-by.

I suppose they wouldn’t write this kind of stuff unless there were some people to be misled by it. It is quite possible that the human brain is diminishing in size and is softening in texture. That may account for it. Many things of this sort make people of my age almost anxious to finish with this world and start off for another. Only if I did, I should have a haunting fear that the mail of the next day would bring to my house a printed letter in a black-edged envelope, with the word grief stamped at the top and reading:

Dear Mourning Friends:

Well, well, the good old man is dead. What about burying him? Have you thought of that? Probably not. Let us do the thinking. How about having out Mr. Croak—he’s overwhelmed with tears right now—come up quietly to your home. . . .

No, the very thought of that letter would keep any one alive for twenty years. But what I mean is—what are we going to do about it?


Forty Years of Billiards

While playing English billiards the other night with my friend Captain R., it suddenly occurred to me that that very night was the anniversary of the first game I ever played and that I had now been playing billiards for no less than forty years.

My reflections for the moment were cut short by Captain R. coming to the end of his break—he had made three and a half—so that it was my turn to play.

But in the pauses of our play it kept coming into my mind that I had now been for forty years a billiard player. And I fell to thinking that there must be a good deal that a player of my experience could tell to youngsters at the game.

For the rest, the moment was hardly suited to reflection, inasmuch as our game had reached a point of interest that demanded an absorbed attention. We were playing very close together, our scores having both moved up from sixty to seventy in the last half hour by quiet, steady play.

I had reached seventy first, but my adversary, Captain R., by a brilliant rush of two, in which he drove the white ball before him into the corner pocket, had closed in on my heels. As there was still three hours to play before the club closed (at one in the morning), there was every prospect that we should finish our game the same evening.

The game indeed had settled down into a matter of rival tactics. For my own part, alarmed at the rapid advance of my opponent from 60 to 70 within a single half hour, I was trying as far as possible to keep my ball away from Captain R., hiding it well under the cushions, while Captain R. in his turn pursued the opposite policy of attempting such a rush at my ball as to drive it off the cloth, his object being to smash the balls together in a general collision even at the risk of straining the legs of the table.

But perhaps if I wish to convey my reflections at the time and to make them useful even to readers who do not know the game of billiards, I must give a word or two of general explanation.

The game of billiards (English billiards) is played, on a table 12 feet by 6, with three balls—one red and two white. Each of the two players has a white ball, which he hits with his cue, his aim being to make it strike or impinge on one of the other balls either red or white.

An outsider would here at once exclaim: “What? Can you so hit a ball as to make it move forward and strike another? Is such a thing possible?” I answer: “Yes, certainly.” I do not claim to be a first-class player—I mean in any absolute sense—yet I suppose I could undertake to make this stroke at least every other time.

That, however, is not all. The ball after hitting the other must go further on and strike the third ball: or it must drive one of the balls, either the red or the white (good players do not care which) into one of the “pockets,” which lie at the corners and in the sides of the tables: or else it must itself roll on from the ball it strikes and fall into a pocket.

Scores from the red ball count three, and the others two, the points adding up to 100, which is the game. Good players think nothing of reaching the 100 in a single evening, or at any rate quite early in the evening following.

The outline of the game is simple. But when one turns to the question of advice as to movement, strategy, speed, etc., one feels bewildered. It is difficult to say anything to the beginner without warning him that only long and arduous practice can lead to ultimate success.

Let me talk first of that which may be described as strategy, by which I mean the ability to seize opportunity and make use of it. The veteran player before making his shot takes a rapid survey of the entire position. His experienced eye tells him at once in which direction lies the best chance of success.

I can illustrate what I mean by describing an exciting episode in the earlier part of the game with Captain R. of which I am speaking.

It was my time to shoot. The balls were so situated that the red was well out in the table within no great distance from the side pocket on the right. I saw at once that the thing to do was to drive it into the pocket. I tried but failed. My own ball, then drifting near to the red ball, offered to Captain R., as, of course, he saw at once, a direct carom shot. He didn’t get it. The red and white, however, coming to rest nearly in a line, offered me a very pretty example of what we call a “follow” shot. I didn’t make it.

Captain R., seeing that my ball had stopped close to the cushion, at once seized the opportunity for the very showy but gentle shot called a cushion carom. He didn’t do it. But in failing he unfortunately left his own ball in such a position as to offer me a beautiful half-ball shot into the end pocket.

It is a shot regarded by all old hands as the key shot of the game: once get it nicely and the object ball may be returned to its position and the score continue indefinitely. I failed to get it.

By ill luck I left my own ball sitting on the very edge of the pocket, not more than half an inch from the edge. It was in vain for me to hope that the situation would escape my opponent’s eye. Captain R. saw at once the line of play suggested by the position of the ball. But he was too experienced a hand to hurry or bungle the shot. He first walked around the table and with his eye measured the distance from the ball to the edge of his pocket; he then chalked his cue, removed his waistcoat and hung it on the hook, and, with absolute assurance, with one splendid drive at the white ball, sank it to the very bottom of the pocket.

In spite of my mortification I could not help congratulating my adversary, not merely on the stroke itself, which was perfect, but on the strategic insight into the game that led him at once to a shot that others might have passed by.

I have mentioned, in speaking of this shot, the question of speed. I can imagine a junior player asking me, “What about speed? How do you calculate the speed you put on your ball?” To which I can only give; the rather mysterious answer, “I don’t.” What I mean is that a player of experience regulates speed, as it were, automatically and without calculation. I am afraid that the only advice I can give to the beginner on this point is practice, practice, and practice. If I were to try to lay down a rule, I might do more harm than good.

But perhaps one might without risk suggest a few general hints on speed that will be of use to the beginner. In the first place, each player will tend to have his own style and to shoot at a characteristic speed that comes natural to him. Thus Captain R., being French, plays with the characteristic élan and dash of his race, and shoots at about 100 to 150 miles an hour. He is able thus at times to lift or drive his ball clean off the table, and on one occasion, I remember, he even drove it out of the open window of the club.

The beginner might ask, “Why do this? What object is there in driving the ball off the table?” The answer is quite simple. The ball may not go off the table, and suppose that with this high speed by good luck it keeps on the table, then it is bound to make a series of concussions right and left, probably setting all three balls in rapid motion. When the table is quiet again Captain R. need only visit all the pockets in turn to be sure of finding something to his score.

But as against this dashing hazardous type of play, you may set, if you like, the opposite form, the quiet, steady bull-dog game to which those of us who are British naturally incline. Here the speed is reduced to almost zero; the ball, however, moves steadily but irresistibly forward. Nearer and nearer it comes to the object ball. The slow speed guarantees the deadly accuracy of the shot. It moves nearer and nearer over the cloth.

Moving the length of the table (twelve feet) in six seconds, it is only traveling at the rate of one kilometer, five-eighths of a mile, per hour. But its approach, if sufficiently sustained, is absolutely certain. It gets nearer to its goal with every fraction of a second. Unfortunately it doesn’t always get there. It stops too soon. But the bull-dog player has at least the consolation that he was only prevented from scoring by the fact that his ball stopped.

I am frequently asked—I suppose that in these random notes, the order of the discussion doesn’t matter—what is the proper costume to put on for billiards. To which I reply that it is not a question of what costume to put on, but how much to take off.

All players find that it is convenient to take off the coat; without that the movement of the garment itself against the body disturbs the delicacy of the aim. But when the coat is gone the waistcoat begins to give a similar sense of awkwardness and spoils many and many a good shot. Again and again I have missed very simple shots when I was sure that the miss was due entirely to my waistcoat. Off with it. Without it the player is lighter, nimbler, easier in hand and eye.

The braces should go next. At any critical period of a good game the player will feel that he must discard his braces. If he is wise, he will discard also his collar and necktie. Many a good shot, such as those in which the player shoots lying upon the table, is hopelessly disturbed by the movement of his collar against his ears.

It is not customary, in the older clubs, to remove more than this. But players of experience often feel that they could play with greater accuracy and finesse if they were allowed to strip to the waist and have their body well oiled between shots.

I suppose that if I were to keep on yarning like this, some young aspirant to billiard honors would start to ask me about fancy shots and how to do them. For instance, the shot called the massé shot is one that always attracts the beginner, but which only the player of long experience need hope to achieve.

In this shot the ball to be hit with the cue is almost touching another ball. The player then, by holding his cue almost vertically in the air, hits downward with such force as to cut a piece out of the cloth of the table.

It is a neat and effective shot, not really as difficult as it looks, but less suited for performance on a public table than for exhibiting to a group of guests on a private table in the host’s house.

But I fear that my very love of the game has protracted my remarks beyond any reasonable limit. They represent about the current of my thoughts during the course of the game on my anniversary evening. It so happened that just when I had reached the point here indicated in my reflections Captain R. was called from the billiard room of the club to speak on the telephone. The score stood at 96 all.

In an instant I realized my opportunity. Every player knows that it is possible to score better, faster, and with greater certainty when the other man is at the telephone than at any other time. I at once requested the club attendant who was making the score to go and fetch me a cigar.

When he returned along with Captain R. I was fortunate enough to be able to tell them that I had made four and won the game. I have not played billiards for forty years quite for nothing.

The Hero of Home Week

How Ed Smith Came Back to Our Home Town

Last week was Old Home Week in the town which I happen to inhabit in the summer. They put it over on a pretty big scale, so as to make a success of it. The town had made a big hit with Mother’s Day just a little before, and with Father’s Day the week after that, and, I believe, there was talk already of a Grandfather’s Afternoon. So, naturally, the committee wanted Home Week to go over well.

They had the town decorated and all that sort of thing: flags across the main street, American, British, Belgian, Japanese, and French—a lot they had left over from the war time—and they had a band in the park for an hour every evening, and something going on all the time. The stores, too, kept wide open so as to make it feel like a holiday.

There were, I understood, a great many who came back to the town for Old Home Week: some who were on the road and generally came home for week-ends, and others who didn’t “make it” more than once a month or so, and others again who had been away for a year, or maybe for two years straight.

But the most noticeable one of the returning sons of the town was Ed Smith, who hadn’t been back home for ten years on end, and hadn’t even seen the place in all that time. Ed had wired from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, “Hope to make town for Old Home Week,” and the local papers, both of them, had carried headlines: “Will Make Town for Old Home Week—Ed Smith Will Hit the Home Trail from Saskatoon, Sask.”

There was talk of a demonstration at the train for Ed. But the boys were mostly in the stores and couldn’t make it. The committee meant to go down in a body and welcome Ed, but none of them were able to get off. However, Ed got a hack at the station and drove to the hotel by himself. He told us that it was the same old hack that he had driven away in ten years ago, and the same driver, too. He said the station looked just about the same, too, the track just where it was, and the platform and everything.

The committee had got up a special luncheon for Ed, that is to say, they all had dinner at the Continental Hotel at noon. (It was quicker than going home. They generally ate dinner there.) And I was present as a sort of guest, with the right to pay for my dinner. As a result, we all ate there and each paid for his own dinner, and Ed sat with us and paid for his. But, of course, Ed was the hero of the occasion and naturally as the dinner got near its end the talk fell on old times, and Ed lit a cigar and began to talk of what he remembered.

“I remember,” he said, “that years ago (most of you fellows wouldn’t remember it) there was a little old frame store down on the corner of West Street—queer-looking, tumble-down place—it’s a pity these little old joints get knocked down——”

“It’s not knocked down,” said one of the listeners. “It’s right there.”

“Oh, is it?” said Ed. “Well, as I was saying, there used to be a queer old character living in it, called Mulvaney, a real old-timer—you fellows wouldn’t remember him——”

“Oh, yes, yes,” interrupted three or four of the men, “he’s there still. That’s right. Jim Mulvaney’s still on the corner of West Street.”

“Is he?” Ed said, and he looked for the moment a little set back. “Well, what I was going to say was that in the days I’m speaking of Mulvaney had a dog, the queerest-looking creature you ever saw. It was all brown, except just one ear and that was all white——”

“He’s got it still,” chorused the crowd all together. “Jim Mulvaney has that dog yet——”

“Has he? What?” said Ed, evidently a little discouraged. “He has, eh? Well, I’m surprised. I was going to tell you about a darned funny thing that happened one day with that dog when I used to live here. Old Jim used to like to sit out in front of the house on the step with the dog beside him and watch the people go by. And a queer thing about that dog was he never could stand the sight of anything blood-red, just like what they say about a bull. Well, the Chief of Police happened to come along, and as it was a pretty warm evening, darned if he didn’t happen to stop right there and pull out a big red handkerchief and mop his face with it. Well, sir,” continued Ed, beginning to laugh, “as soon as the dog saw this, darned if he didn’t make one leap for the Chief——”

But this time Ed couldn’t even finish his sentence.

“He bit him again yesterday,” they all interrupted.

“He did!” said Ed. “Well, that’s a caution. But I was going to say this time that I remember he leaped at him from behind, and, say, you’d have laughed to see it, he bit the seat right out of his pants!!”

“So he did yesterday!” cried all the listeners in a chorus.

That quieted Ed down for a little. But naturally after a while he got talking again, speaking of this person and that that he remembered from the old days.

“Poor old Tim Jackson,” he said, “some of you may remember him. He lived in the little cottage with all the flowers in front of it along Centre Street. Poor Tim, he had T.B. pretty bad.” (Ed lowered his voice to a becoming tone.) “I guess he didn’t last much longer. They said he’d die that winter.”

“No,” somebody said quietly. “Tim’s not dead. He’s there still.”

“He’s got over his T.B.?” Ed said.

“No, he has it still.”

“Is that so?” said Ed. “Well, anyway, they said he wouldn’t last through that winter.”

“They say he’ll hardly last this,” somebody said.

There was a little silence for a while. Then Ed began again. But this time, instead of telling stories, he asked questions.

“What became of old Gillespie that had the lumber yard?” he asked.

“He’s got it still,” they said.

“Oh, has he? And where’s old man Samson that kept the hotel down beyond the station?”

“He’s there. He’s keeping it now.”

“And who’s got Ed Bailey’s pool room now?”

“Ed has.”

“Is that so? I remember there used to be an old Swede who used to be the marker at the pool room and sell the cigars—old Heiney, they used to call him—a darned decent old feller. I’d give five dollars to see old Heiney again.”

“I think he’s outside,” said one of the listeners. “I’m sure I saw him as we came in through the lobby. Wait a minute and I’ll see if he’s there.”

“That’s all right,” Ed said. “I’ll see him later.”

After that Ed stopped asking about the people he used to know, and he began instead telling about how he left the town and what happened to him.

“I had it pretty hard for a while,” said Ed, lighting a fresh cigar and sitting well back in his chair as he warmed to his narration. “When I left here I was stone broke and I thought I’d head west and try what I could do. I hit Winnipeg one dark winter morning to find myself absolutely alone and without a cent . . .”

“Say, excuse me, Eddie,” said one of the boys. “I guess I’ll have to be getting back to the store.”

“That’s all right, Jim,” said Ed, and as Jim left he continued, “Well, I thought I’d look around and see where I could borrow five dollars——”

“Say, I guess I’ll have to be going, too,” said another of the boys, looking at his watch. “You’ll excuse me, won’t you, Ed?”

“Certainly,” said Eddie, “that’s all right, Alf. Well, I remembered a fellow I used to know in Toronto and I managed to find him and he lent me five, and I got on a train and beat it as far as Brandon to work on a farm. At first it was tough——”

“I’ll say it was!” said one of the listeners. “But, say, Ed, I’ll see you later on, eh? I’ll have to go.”

“That’s all right,” Ed said. “At first it was tough——”

“I guess I’d better go along with Harry,” said another of the crowd, “so I won’t have to interrupt you any further. So long, Ed.”

“So long, Will,” said Ed. “At first it was tough——”

“Hold on a second, Ed,” said another man. “I don’t believe I’d better stay either. My time is just about out. Did any of the fellers pay for you, Ed?”

“That’s all right,” Ed said.

When this man had gone, Eddie and I were alone and I let him finish telling me how tough it was to find himself in a place where he had no friends. I thought I could guess it anyway.

After he had finished his reminiscences, Ed rose up. “Let’s take a whirl along the street,” he suggested. “I’d like to look in and see one or two of the old boys. Here’s Mel Rose’s hat store. I must drop in on old Mel. I’ll bet he’ll be surprised.”

We dropped in. The store was full of people. “Mr. Rose in?” asked Ed of one of the shop men. “He’s up in the middle of the store,” the man said.

Mel Rose was standing with a customer, selling a hat. He saw Ed and turned his head slightly. “How are you, Mr. Smith, something in a summer hat? Miss Williams, something in a summer hat, please!”

Just that. As if Ed had only been away a day. He meant no harm. The years is just a day in our town.

We left the store and went into the jeweler’s next door to it. Ed said he wanted badly to see Frank Padden, the jeweler, one of his oldest pals around the town. His idea was that he’d drop in and give Frank the surprise of his life.

Frank shook hands limply over the counter. “How are you, Ed?” he said. “Something in a watch?”

In the next store Ed’s old friend, Pete Williams, said, “Something in a necktie?” and in the store beyond that, Joe Kay, one of the best fellers (so Ed had assured me) that ever breathed, shook hands and queried, “Anything in summer shirting, Ed?”

But that time Ed was about all finished. The sunshine of the old town was fading out for him. He should have understood, but he didn’t.

“I guess I’ll go into the bank and get some money,” he murmured. I knew what he meant. He was going to leave town.

We went into the bank and Ed wrote a check for fifteen dollars. The clerk looked at it. “I’ll have to show it to the manager,” he said.

“Tell him Mr. Ed Smith, that used to live here,” said Ed.

The manager came out of his little office with the check in his hand. He saw Ed.

“You remember me, Mr. Calson,” said Ed, shaking hands. “I used to live here.”

“Oh, yes,” the manager said in a dubious way. “I remember you, but I was just looking at the check. I suppose it’s all right, eh! There’s ten cents exchange,” he called to the teller. “Well, good afternoon.”

We left the bank.

“There used to be a four-ten train for the city,” said Ed humbly.

“There still is,” I answered.

He took it.

For him, the next time the banners of Old Home Week will float in vain.

But Ed was wrong. He had made a mistake. The old town had given him the best welcome of all. The welcome of familiarity. And he had not seen it.

Conversations I Can Do Without

Enough of Some People’s Talk to Explain Why



When the Man at the Next Table Is Reproving the Waiter

“Waiter! Waiter! psst!! Waiter! Look here, waiter, I’ve been sitting at this table for fifteen and a half minutes——”

“I’m sorry, sir——”

“When I came in, it was exactly half a minute to nine and now it’s a quarter past. For fifteen minutes, and a half——”

“I’m sorry, sir.”

“All I ordered was just some bacon and eggs with French fried potatoes and toast and coffee. You couldn’t take a quarter of an hour to cook that if you tried! I could go out there to the kitchen——”

“I’m sorry, sir, but——”

“You can just tell the head waiter or the chef, or whoever it is, that I don’t propose to stand for it. Just as soon——”

“Well, sir, if——”

“Just as soon as I’m through, I shall report the whole thing to the management. And you can go to the head waiter right now and tell him that if that order is not on this table in one minute—by this—watch——”

“I’m sorry, sir, but if you will kindly look on the table it’s there now. I think you covered it up, sir, with part of your paper. You were reading, sir, when I put it down . . .”

“Eh, what! That! Well, what the——What! What! . . .” And the rest is silence.


The Conversation in the Smoking End of the Pullman Between Two Men Talking of Their Bootleggers

“As a matter of fact, all I have to do is just call up my bootlegger and tell him what I want and it comes right to the door——”

“Same with me. I just say to this feller that I want a case of rye or a case of Scotch and he fetches it right to the house——”

“Of course, I won’t touch it unless I know it’s all right.”

“Me, too. I don’t believe in taking chances on it. Last week a feller had some stuff at his house, moonshine—something he’d picked up out in the country. But I said, ‘No, thanks, not for me. It may be all right or it may not. But I don’t want it.’ ”

“No, that’s the way I am, too. All this stuff I get sent up to the house is labeled—all of it case goods, you understand, right from Scotland.”

“So’s mine. I won’t drink it unless it’s the real thing. I tried some last week, fierce stuff, I could hardly drink it.”

“Of course it’s hard to get the real old pre-war stuff any longer.”

“No, you just can’t get it.”

“Say, I’ve got a flask of stuff here in my bag. I’m not just so sure what it is. But the bell boy said it was all right. If you care to take a little touch of it. I haven’t tried it out yet. . . .”

“Oh, let’s try it, anyway. I guess it won’t kill us.”


Opening Half of Conversation in The Club from Armchair No. 1 to Armchair No. 2, Mine Being Armchair No. 3

“I held the king and the jack, but I couldn’t tell where the ace was. Dummy had only two low spots and all the trumps were out. Of course, my problem was——”

(But I never stay to hear what it was. I’ve heard others like it too often.)


The Conversation Held by Two Women at the Close of a Dinner Party While I Stand Waiting with the Other Men to Say Good Night

“Well, good night, dear, your party has been perfectly lovely——”

“Well, it’s been just lovely to have you——”

(Telepathic thought of the group of men: “Yes, yes, lovely—but now—beat it!”)

“And really such a wonderful dinner. You know, I suppose it’s rude to talk about the things you are given to eat, but that fish soufflé was simply wonderful! How ever is it made? I must get you to give me the recipe.”

“Why, my dear, Bertha just makes it in her own way. But I’ll see if I can get her to write down the recipe and I’ll send it——”

(Telepathic chorus of the men all thinking the same thing: “Yes, yes, for Heaven’s sake, let her send it, let her write it out, let her print it—only let us beat it.”)

“Will you? That’s so kind! Well good-by, again, and thank you for such a lovely party, and I liked your friend so much—the gentleman who left early. I thought I’d just die laughing at some of his funny stories at dinner——”

“Oh, but really he wasn’t half as funny as he generally is! I was just thinking at dinner that I wished you could have heard him some night when he’s really funny——”

“But I thought him ever so funny to-night. I thought I’d die——”

(The telepathic chorus of the men: “Well, then beat it and beat it right now or perhaps you’ll die right here.”)

“Well, good-by. If you see Amelia and John, tell them I was asking about them——”

“Oh, we just never see them now since they built their big mansion. They’re far too grand for us in this house!”

“Too grand! Why, my dear, I think your house is just charming and that little sun-room, I mean that sun-room, is too cute for anything, especially if you put some flowers——My dear, I saw some of the loveliest early wild flowers to-day when we were out in the country in the car. I simply must drive you out there——”

(Telepathic chorus, as before, “Yes, take her, take her now. Drive her clear to Mexico.”)

And then, just at this moment by Heaven’s special providence a butler or a maid or some one says politely:

“Your taxi’s waiting, madame.”

And the woman gives one wild leap toward the door. Women will talk forever when it’s only a matter of the men’s time, but when it comes to the moving finger of a taxi-meter, they wouldn’t buy five cents’ worth of talk from Shakespeare himself.

After all, these modern inventions are not wholly without advantage.

Mr. Chairman, I Beg to Move——

Showing the Wonderful Effectiveness of What Is Called Legislative Procedure

“There is no doubt,” says one of the recent Outlines of the Sidelines of History, “that the adoption of legislative procedure marked a great forward step in the progress of government. It lent to debate an order and precision before unknown; it clarified thought, and restrained the turbulence of argument by the dignity of formal address.”

Quite so. But did it? Let us see how it has worked out in some of the Meetings.


The Man Who Started the Trouble: A.D. 1295

Scene: Ye Chapel of St. Stephen’s in Ye Borough of West Minster.

Ye Speaker: An it please ye, my good Knights and Burgesses, sith this is a regular or model Parliament it would seem good to me that we frame or—as who should say—draught a set of rules whereby our parlement or, so to speak, our debate, shall be guided: Such as, first or in primis, that none shall speak when I am talking; second, that when others speak all shall be in order and form, such that not twenty speak at once as hitherto, but only one, or, so to speak, solus——

Fascinated with the idea, the houses of the King’s parliament of Edward I got together and made a set of rules of which the awful consequences are still among us. As witness——


The Familiar Scene When the Ladies’ Three-Weekly Discussion Club Undertakes Its Annual Discussion of the Club’s Finances. Verbatim Report:

Mrs. A: I’d like to rise——

The Chairman-woman: I don’t believe you can.

Mrs. A: But I am——

The Chair: I mean, I don’t think you’re in order. There’s an amendment to the previous motion still, I think, before us.

Mrs. B: If you mean my amendment, I had something that I want to add to it anyway, but I don’t mind leaving it over if Jennie feels——

The Chair (pounding on the table with a mallet): You’re out of order.

Mrs. B: I only want to say——

The Chair: You can’t. There’s a motion still before us and an amendment.

Mrs. C: But can’t she withdraw her amendment? I’d like to move that Mrs. B——

The Chair: You’ve heard the motion, ladies? Or no, I beg your pardon, it hasn’t been seconded. Doesn’t anybody second it?

Mrs. D: Before you take up that, wouldn’t it perhaps be better——

Mrs. A, B, C, and half the alphabet: Order!

Mrs. D: I’m not——

The Alphabet: You are!

The Chair (pounding): Ladies! Ladies!

Mrs. X: I’d like to second the motion, only I’d want to say at the same time that I think that Nellie——

Mrs. Q: Don’t you think, Madame Chairman, that we’ve done enough for one morning? I’m afraid lunch will be utterly overdone if we keep on. I told them one o’clock in the kitchen.

The Chair: Will you move a motion to adjourn?

Mrs. Q: Yes, if it is necessary. All I mean is that lunch——

And so after a hard morning they at last get adjourned.


How the Committee of Professors Undertake to Bring in a Report to the Faculty

The Chairman: Now, gentlemen, you have heard the remit, that this committee is to report on the question of the use of lead pencils in place of pen and ink.

Professor A: Mr. Chairman, I should like to ask a question, if I may.

The Chair: I don’t believe you can. You see, for the moment there is no business before us, and until we have some definite corpus loquendi as a prima materies there is nothing on which a question could depend.

Professor A: May I perhaps submit a motion?

The Chair (looking in a book of rules and shaking his head): I don’t think a motion would lie. It has nothing to lie on.

Professor B: I think, Mr. Chairman, that a motion that the remit be remitted would lie. Then I think Professor A could move for leave to ask a question as arising out of the remit.

Professor C: I don’t want to delay the work of the committee, but I cannot agree with Professor B. I do not think that any motion can lie at all until the chair sua sponte, or to put it more simply still, ab origine voluntaria, submits the remit to the committee. Till that is done the remit itself is in vacuo.

(General murmurs of approval. Professor C has evidently hit out a home-run. And so by careful legislative procedure, crawling forward from cover to cover, they manage to get to Professor A’s question.)

The Chair: I think, then, Professor A, that we may now hear your question.

Professor A: What I wish to ask, Mr. Chairman, is the precise sense in which the committee is to understand the word “lead pencil”; or rather, to be more exact, the sense to be attached to the term “lead.” The word “pencil,” I think, we may accept as a term generally understood. But the word “lead” offers difficulties. Does the remit include colored leads or only black; would this change permit the use of crayons, chalks, and indelible pencils? In other words, I think we must formulate a definition of the word “lead.”

The Chair: I think Professor A’s remarks are entirely to the point.—Ha! Ha! Gentlemen, you must pardon me, I hadn’t intended any witticism—to the point, ha! ha!

All the Committee: Ha! Ha! To the point—ha! ha!

The Chairman (wiping his streaming eyes): Order, gentlemen, order. (And when the laughter has all died down). Well, then, we must define the word “lead.” Has anybody an encyclopedia here?

Professor C: Yes, I have one in my pocket.

The Chair: Will some one move that Professor C read what it says about it?

General murmur: Carried.

Professor C: Lead. A mineral carboniferous substance generally found in oleaginous rock. Lead was known to the ancients and was probably (but you can’t bet on it) the plumbum of the Romans: whence the word plumb, meaning heavy or straight as in “plumb” line; the word must be distinguished from “plumb,” meaning a fruit (Sanskrit, plupp), which originated in Corinth, which was famous for its fruit trees, a growth due no doubt to the favorable breezes from the Ægean, which was perhaps so called from its “Æge” or border as seen in Ægis, the shield carried by the Roman foot-soldier, but carefully to be distinguished from the pelta or shield of the Greek hoplite. The Greeks, in fact, were a great people——

Professor X (aged 79, waking up): I think, Mr. Chairman, that our meeting has been sufficiently protracted, and as I think I heard the dormitory dinner-bell——

The Chair: Shall we then defer progress and adjourn till this day six months——

All: Carried!


The Crude Proceedings of Those Who Never Heard of the Model Parliament of Edward I

The scene is laid in any board-room where the directors of any great industrial company are making a simple little arrangement not involving more than fifty or sixty million dollars.

The Chairman: Well, then, what we want to do is to split the shares two for one. That’s it, isn’t it?

Murmurs of “Agreed.”

The Chairman: To take 100 millions of the new stock, the holders to take up at par——

Murmurs of “Agreed.”

The Chairman (to some one): Will you get that drafted, and will you see about the legislative authorization (they know all about it)—and—that was the only thing this morning, wasn’t it? All right, then we’ll adjourn till next time, eh?

Fifty Cents Worth

“Is that my Uncle William?” asks the inquirer. His voice trembles a little as he says it. It is costing him fifty cents to ask this. If it should turn out not to be Uncle William—which might surely happen among the myriads of the spirit world—the fifty cents would be a dead loss.

But luckily it turns out to be all right.

“Yes,” says the voice of the medium. She is lying prostrate on a sofa in an attitude that resembles death, but she looks out of the corner of one eye. “Yes,” she says, “it’s Uncle William.”

She is dressed in a figured robe, presumed to represent the symbols of Persian magic, and, on the business card that stands on the window-sill, her name appears as Abracadabra, the Persian Sorceress (fifty cents a séance). But when she speaks, or when the voice speaks through her, the accent of the communicating spirit somehow is just plain, every-day English.

“Yes,” she repeats, “it is Uncle William.”

“And how are you, Uncle William? Are you happy?”

“Yes, very happy. It’s all so bright and beautiful over here.”

“That’s good. Is Henry there?”

“Yes, Henry is beside me. Henry is happy, too.”

“I’m glad of that. Ask Henry if he remembers me.

“Yes, he says he does. He wants you to believe that he is very happy.”

“Does he send any message?”

“Yes. He says to tell you that goodness is the only gladness, and you are to keep right on expanding yourself all you can.”

“Good. Ask him if Martha is there?”

“Yes. He says that Martha is right there.”

“Good. And ask him who else is with him there.”

For the first time the medium pauses. She speaks with a certain hesitation, as if groping her way. The reason is, no doubt, that there is some kind of thought-block or stoppage in the ethereal wave. Either that or something in the form of the question. Or perhaps the chief cause of these hesitations, or stoppages, is that the ethereal thought-wave has momentarily slipped from one plane to another and not yet regeared itself to the vibration. Very likely, too, the zodiacal body or somatic double has for the moment passed through an obfuscation. It is certainly some simple thing of that sort.

Hence it comes about that, when the inquirer asks who else is over there with Uncle William, the medium pauses and gropes.

“It is not very clear,” she says slowly. “There’s a dimness. I see two figures, but perhaps there may be three. They look strangely alike, and yet oddly dissimilar. They seem to be dressed all in deep black, or else white—I can’t quite be sure.”

The sitter interrupts.

“Ask if they are Mary Ann and Pete,” he says eagerly.

“Yes,” says the medium, “they are! They are! Mary Ann is waving to you. Pete is waving. I can see them very plainly now.”

“What are they saying?” asks the inquirer anxiously.

“They are saying that there is no light but eternity, and they want you to keep on getting on a higher and higher plane.”

At this moment the proprietor of the Spiritualistic Parlors (Hours 9 to 12, 12 to 6, and 6 to 11.30) comes back into the room. His official name, on his cards, is Nadir the Nameless, the Persian Astrologer, and this is why his face is stained with tan shoe-polish (rub well with the fingers, followed by a dry rag, etc.) But he too speaks plain English. He lays his finger on the shoulder of the inquirer and tells him that his time is up. His fifty cents worth is exhausted.

So the inquirer, his interview terminated, goes back to his fellows. He will tell of what he has heard. He will tell it eight or ten times that evening and repeat it at intervals for days and months afterwards. He will say that it was the most marvelous thing he ever listened to. He will say the woman knew all the names of all his deceased relations, named them without hesitation, and told him all about them.

All this is what he will say.

And the more often he tells all this, the more completely the inquirer feels that the mystery of mysteries is solved.

But, in the meantime, when the interviewer has left the Parlor of the Spirits, Nadir the Nameless helps his wife to rise from the tawdry little couch.

Her face is weary and sad.

“You’re tired, dear,” says the Astrologer gently. “Come into the other room. I’ve made some tea.”

“Ain’t I seen that fella here before?” asks the medium wearily.

“Yes, I think he was here one day last week,” says Nadir. “But I’m not sure.”

Nadir the Nameless and his wife don’t keep elaborate track of their clients. There is a myth abroad that they follow them about and dig up all kinds of information about them in secret. They don’t. Why should they? Uncle William is good enough.

“Look,” says Nadir the Nameless, as they sit down in the back room. “I’ve got the supper all ready for you.”

“You’re so good, Fred,” says the medium.

Then she begins to cry softly. “I was thinking of Nan,” she says. “All day while I was working I was thinking of Nan.”

Nan was the little daughter of Nadir the Nameless, and Abracadabra, his wife. She died last week. But do they call her up from the spirit world? Ah, no! Leave that for Uncle William and such.

“Don’t cry,” says Nadir. “Wait while I go and take the card out of the window. You mustn’t work any more to-day.”

“But there’s the rent, Fred,” says the wife, pausing in her tears.

“Never mind; we’ll manage somehow. And listen, dear, you take this fifty cents that that guy paid for his revelation and buy some flowers for Nan’s grave. To-morrow’s Sunday. Wait till I go and wash, and we’ll have tea. Don’t cry, dear. Don’t cry.”

And, with this first and last of human consolations on his lips, he leaves her to herself.



Mis-spelled words and printer errors have been fixed.

Somewhat erratic formatting has been reproduced somewhat erratically.

[The end of The Iron Man & The Tin Woman by Stephen Leacock]