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Fantastic Fables by Ambrose Bierce

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Fantastic Fables, Ambrose Bierce, 1899 Edition. Scanned and
proofed by David Price, email ccx074@coventry.ac.uk
Fantastic Fables


The Moral Principle and the Material Interest
The Crimson Candle
The Blotted Escutcheon and the Soiled Ermine
The Ingenious Patriot
Two Kings
An Officer and a Thug
The Conscientious Official
How Leisure Came
The Moral Sentiment
The Politicians
The Thoughtful Warden
The Treasury and the Arms
The Christian Serpent
The Broom of the Temple
The Critics
The Foolish Woman
Father and Son
The Discontented Malefactor
A Call to Quit
The Man and the Lightning
The Lassoed Bear
The Ineffective Rooter
A Protagonist of Silver
The Holy Deacon
A Hasty Settlement
The Wooden Guns
The Reform School Board
The Poet's Doom
The Noser and the Note
The Cat and the King
The Literary Astronomer
The Lion and the Rattlesnake
The Man with No Enemies
The Alderman and the Raccoon
The Flying-Machine
The Angel's Tear
The City of Political Distinction
The Party Over There
The Poetess of Reform
The Unchanged Diplomatist
An Invitation
The Ashes of Madame Blavatsky
The Opossum of the Future
The Life-Savers
The Australian Grasshopper
The Pavior
The Tried Assassin
The Bumbo of Jiam
The Two Poets
The Thistles upon the Grave
The Shadow of the Leader
The Sagacious Rat
The Member and the Soap
Alarm and Pride
A Causeway
Two in Trouble
The Witch's Steed
The All Dog
The Farmer's Friend
Physicians Two
The Overlooked Factor
A Racial Parallel
The Honest Cadi
The Kangaroo and the Zebra
A Matter of Method
The Man of Principle
The Returned Californian
The Compassionate Physician
Two of the Damned
The Austere Governor
Religions of Error
The Penitent Elector
The Tail of the Sphinx
A Prophet of Evil
The Crew of the Life-boat
A Treaty of Peace
The Nightside of Character
The Faithful Cashier
The Circular Clew
The Devoted Widow
The Hardy Patriots
The Humble Peasant
The Various Delegation
The No Case
A Harmless Visitor
The Judge and the Rash Act
The Prerogative of Might
An Inflated Ambition
Rejected Services
The Power of the Scalawag
At Large - One Temper
The Seeker and the Sought
His Fly-Speck Majesty
The Pugilist's Diet
The Old Man and the Pupil
The Deceased and his Heirs
The Politicians and the Plunder
The Man and the Wart
The Divided Delegation
A Forfeited Right
An Optimist
A Valuable Suggestion
Two Footpads
Equipped for Service
The Basking Cyclone
At the Pole
The Optimist and the Cynic
The Poet and the Editor
The Taken Hand
An Unspeakable Imbecile
A Needful War
The Mine Owner and the Jackass
The Dog and the Physician
The Party Manager and the Gentleman.
The Legislator and the Citizen
The Rainmaker
The Citizen and the Snakes
Fortune and the Fabulist
A Smiling Idol
Philosophers Three
The Boneless King
Uncalculating Zeal
A Transposition
The Honest Citizen
A Creaking Tail
Wasted Sweets
Six and One
The Sportsman and the Squirrel
The Fogy and the Sheik
At Heaven's Gate
The Catted Anarchist
The Honourable Member
The Expatriated Boss
An Inadequate Fee
The Judge and the Plaintiff
The Return of the Representative
A Statesman
Two Dogs
Three Recruits
The Mirror
Saint and Sinner
An Antidote
A Weary Echo
The Ingenious Blackmailer
A Talisman
The Ancient Order
A Fatal Disorder
The Massacre
A Ship and a Man
Congress and the People
The Justice and His Accuser
The Highwayman and the Traveller
The Policeman and the Citizen
The Writer and the Tramps
Two Politicians
The Fugitive Office
The Tyrant Frog
The Eligible Son-in-Law
The Statesman and the Horse
An AErophobe
The Thrift of Strength
The Good Government
The Life-Saver
The Man and the Bird
From the Minutes
Three of a Kind
The Fabulist and the Animals
A Revivalist Revived
The Debaters
Two of the Pious
The Desperate Object
The Appropriate Memorial
A Needless Labour
A Flourishing Industry
The Self-Made Monkey
The Patriot and the Banker
The Mourning Brothers
The Disinterested Arbiter
The Thief and the Honest Man
The Dutiful Son

Aesopus Emendatus

The Cat and the Youth
The Farmer and His Sons
Jupiter and the Baby Show
The Man and the Dog
The Cat and the Birds
Mercury and the Woodchopper
The Fox and the Grapes
The Penitent Thief
The Archer and the Eagle
Truth and the Traveller
The Wolf and the Lamb
The Lion and the Boar
The Grasshopper and the Ant
The Fisher and the Fished
The Farmer and the Fox
Dame Fortune and the Traveller
The Victor and the Victim
The Wolf and the Shepherds
The Goose and the Swan
The Lion, the Cock, and the Ass
The Snake and the Swallow
The Wolves and the Dogs
The Hen and the Vipers
A Seasonable Joke
The Lion and the Thorn
The Fawn and the Buck
The Kite, the Pigeons, and the Hawk
The Wolf and the Babe
The Wolf and the Ostrich
The Herdsman and the Lion
The Man and the Viper
The Man and the Eagle
The War-horse and the Miller
The Dog and the Reflection
The Man and the Fish-horn
The Hare and the Tortoise
Hercules and the Carter
The Lion and the Bull
The Man and his Goose
The Wolf and the Feeding Goat
Jupiter and the Birds
The Lion and the Mouse
The Old Man and his Sons
The Crab and his Son
The North Wind and the Sun
The Mountain and the Mouse
The Bellamy and the Members

Old Saws with New Teeth

The Wolf and the Crane
The Lion and the Mouse
The Hares and the Frogs
The Belly and the Members
The Piping Fisherman
The Ants and the Grasshopper
The Dog and His Reflection
The Lion, the Bear, and the Fox
The Ass and the Lion's Skin
The Ass and the Grasshoppers
The Wolf and the Lion
The Hare and the Tortoise
The Milkmaid and Her Bucket
King Log and King Stork
The Wolf Who Would Be a Lion
The Monkey and the Nuts
The Boys and the Frogs

The Moral Principle and the Material Interest

A MORAL Principle met a Material Interest on a bridge wide enough
for but one.

"Down, you base thing!" thundered the Moral Principle, "and let me
pass over you!"

The Material Interest merely looked in the other's eyes without
saying anything.

"Ah," said the Moral Principle, hesitatingly, "let us draw lots to
see which shall retire till the other has crossed."

The Material Interest maintained an unbroken silence and an
unwavering stare.

"In order to avoid a conflict," the Moral Principle resumed,
somewhat uneasily, "I shall myself lie down and let you walk over

Then the Material Interest found a tongue, and by a strange
coincidence it was its own tongue. "I don't think you are very
good walking," it said. "I am a little particular about what I
have underfoot. Suppose you get off into the water."

It occurred that way.

The Crimson Candle

A MAN lying at the point of death called his wife to his bedside
and said:

"I am about to leave you forever; give me, therefore, one last
proof of your affection and fidelity, for, according to our holy
religion, a married man seeking admittance at the gate of Heaven is
required to swear that he has never defiled himself with an
unworthy woman. In my desk you will find a crimson candle, which
has been blessed by the High Priest and has a peculiar mystical
significance. Swear to me that while it is in existence you will
not remarry."

The Woman swore and the Man died. At the funeral the Woman stood
at the head of the bier, holding a lighted crimson candle till it
was wasted entirely away.

The Blotted Escutcheon and the Soiled Ermine

A BLOTTED Escutcheon, rising to a question of privilege, said:

"Mr. Speaker, I wish to hurl back an allegation and explain that
the spots upon me are the natural markings of one who is a direct
descendant of the sun and a spotted fawn. They come of no accident
of character, but inhere in the divine order and constitution of

When the Blotted Escutcheon had resumed his seat a Soiled Ermine
rose and said:

"Mr. Speaker, I have heard with profound attention and entire
approval the explanation of the honourable member, and wish to
offer a few remarks on my own behalf. I, too, have been foully
calumniated by our ancient enemy, the Infamous Falsehood, and I
wish to point out that I am made of the fur of the MUSTELA
MACULATA, which is dirty from birth."

The Ingenious Patriot

HAVING obtained an audience of the King an Ingenious Patriot pulled
a paper from his pocket, saying:

"May it please your Majesty, I have here a formula for constructing
armour-plating which no gun can pierce. If these plates are
adopted in the Royal Navy our warships will be invulnerable, and
therefore invincible. Here, also, are reports of your Majesty's
Ministers, attesting the value of the invention. I will part with
my right in it for a million tumtums."

After examining the papers, the King put them away and promised him
an order on the Lord High Treasurer of the Extortion Department for
a million tumtums.

"And here," said the Ingenious Patriot, pulling another paper from
another pocket, "are the working plans of a gun that I have
invented, which will pierce that armour. Your Majesty's Royal
Brother, the Emperor of Bang, is anxious to purchase it, but
loyalty to your Majesty's throne and person constrains me to offer
it first to your Majesty. The price is one million tumtums."

Having received the promise of another check, he thrust his hand
into still another pocket, remarking:

"The price of the irresistible gun would have been much greater,
your Majesty, but for the fact that its missiles can be so
effectively averted by my peculiar method of treating the armour
plates with a new- "

The King signed to the Great Head Factotum to approach.

"Search this man," he said, "and report how many pockets he has."

"Forty-three, Sire," said the Great Head Factotum, completing the

"May it please your Majesty," cried the Ingenious Patriot, in
terror, "one of them contains tobacco."

"Hold him up by the ankles and shake him," said the King; "then
give him a check for forty-two million tumtums and put him to
death. Let a decree issue declaring ingenuity a capital offence."

Two Kings

THE King of Madagao, being engaged in a dispute with the King of
Bornegascar, wrote him as follows:

"Before proceeding further in this matter I demand the recall of
your Minister from my capital."

Greatly enraged by this impossible demand, the King of Bornegascar

"I shall not recall my Minister. Moreover, if you do not
immediately retract your demand I shall withdraw him!"

This threat so terrified the King of Madagao that in hastening to
comply he fell over his own feet, breaking the Third Commandment.

An Officer and a Thug

A CHIEF of Police who had seen an Officer beating a Thug was very
indignant, and said he must not do so any more on pain of

"Don't be too hard on me," said the Officer, smiling; "I was
beating him with a stuffed club."

"Nevertheless," persisted the Chief of Police, "it was a liberty
that must have been very disagreeable, though it may not have hurt.
Please do not repeat it."

"But," said the Officer, still smiling, "it was a stuffed Thug."

In attempting to express his gratification, the Chief of Police
thrust out his right hand with such violence that his skin was
ruptured at the arm-pit and a stream of sawdust poured from the
wound. He was a stuffed Chief of Police.

The Conscientious Official

WHILE a Division Superintendent of a railway was attending closely
to his business of placing obstructions on the track and tampering
with the switches he received word that the President of the road
was about to discharge him for incompetency.

"Good Heavens!" he cried; "there are more accidents on my division
than on all the rest of the line."

"The President is very particular," said the Man who brought him
the news; "he thinks the same loss of life might be effected with
less damage to the company's property."

"Does he expect me to shoot passengers through the car windows?"
exclaimed the indignant official, spiking a loose tie across the
rails. "Does he take me for an assassin?"

How Leisure Came

A MAN to Whom Time Was Money, and who was bolting his breakfast in
order to catch a train, had leaned his newspaper against the sugar-
bowl and was reading as he ate. In his haste and abstraction he
stuck a pickle-fork into his right eye, and on removing the fork
the eye came with it. In buying spectacles the needless outlay for
the right lens soon reduced him to poverty, and the Man to Whom
Time Was Money had to sustain life by fishing from the end of a

The Moral Sentiment

A PUGILIST met the Moral Sentiment of the Community, who was
carrying a hat-box. "What have you in the hat-box, my friend?"
inquired the Pugilist.

"A new frown," was the answer. "I am bringing it from the frownery
- the one over there with the gilded steeple."

"And what are you going to do with the nice new frown?" the
Pugilist asked.

"Put down pugilism - if I have to wear it night and day," said the
Moral Sentiment of the Community, sternly.

"That's right," said the Pugilist, "that is right, my good friend;
if pugilism had been put down yesterday, I wouldn't have this kind
of Nose to-day. I had a rattling hot fight last evening with - "

"Is that so?" cried the Moral Sentiment of the Community, with
sudden animation. "Which licked? Sit down here on the hat-box and
tell me all about it!"

The Politicians

AN Old Politician and a Young Politician were travelling through a
beautiful country, by the dusty highway which leads to the City of
Prosperous Obscurity. Lured by the flowers and the shade and
charmed by the songs of birds which invited to woodland paths and
green fields, his imagination fired by glimpses of golden domes and
glittering palaces in the distance on either hand, the Young
Politician said:

"Let us, I beseech thee, turn aside from this comfortless road
leading, thou knowest whither, but not I. Let us turn our backs
upon duty and abandon ourselves to the delights and advantages
which beckon from every grove and call to us from every shining
hill. Let us, if so thou wilt, follow this beautiful path, which,
as thou seest, hath a guide-board saying, 'Turn in here all ye who
seek the Palace of Political Distinction.'"

"It is a beautiful path, my son," said the Old Politician, without
either slackening his pace or turning his head, "and it leadeth
among pleasant scenes. But the search for the Palace of Political
Distinction is beset with one mighty peril."

"What is that?" said the Young Politician.

"The peril of finding it," the Old Politician replied, pushing on.

The Thoughtful Warden

THE Warden of a Penitentiary was one day putting locks on the doors
of all the cells when a mechanic said to him:

"Those locks can all be opened from the inside - you are very

The Warden did not look up from his work, but said:

"If that is called imprudence, I wonder what would be called a
thoughtful provision against the vicissitudes of fortune."

The Treasury and the Arms

A PUBLIC Treasury, feeling Two Arms lifting out its contents,

"Mr. Shareman, I move for a division."

"You seem to know something about parliamentary forms of speech,"
said the Two Arms.

"Yes," replied the Public Treasury, "I am familiar with the hauls
of legislation."

The Christian Serpent

A RATTLESNAKE came home to his brood and said: "My children, gather
about and receive your father's last blessing, and see how a
Christian dies."

"What ails you, Father?" asked the Small Snakes.

"I have been bitten by the editor of a partisan journal," was the
reply, accompanied by the ominous death-rattle.

The Broom of the Temple

THE city of Gakwak being about to lose its character of capital of
the province of Ukwuk, the Wampog issued a proclamation convening
all the male residents in council in the Temple of Ul to devise
means of defence. The first speaker thought the best policy would
be to offer a fried jackass to the gods. The second suggested a
public procession, headed by the Wampog himself, bearing the Holy
Poker on a cushion of cloth-of-brass. Another thought that a
scarlet mole should be buried alive in the public park and a
suitable incantation chanted over the remains. The advice of the
fourth was that the columns of the capitol be rubbed with oil of
dog by a person having a moustache on the calf of his leg. When
all the others had spoken an Aged Man rose and said:

"High and mighty Wampog and fellow-citizens, I have listened
attentively to all the plans proposed. All seem wise, and I do not
suffer myself to doubt that any one of them would be efficacious.
Nevertheless, I cannot help thinking that if we would put an
improved breed of polliwogs in our drinking water, construct
shallower roadways, groom the street cows, offer the stranger
within our gates a free choice between the poniard and the potion,
and relinquish our private system of morals, the other measures of
public safety would be needless."

The Aged Man was about to speak further, but the meeting informally
adjourned in order to sweep the floor of the temple - for the men
of Gakwak are the tidiest housewives in all that province. The
last speaker was the broom.

The Critics

WHILE bathing, Antinous was seen by Minerva, who was so enamoured
of his beauty that, all armed as she happened to be, she descended
from Olympus to woo him; but, unluckily displaying her shield, with
the head of Medusa on it, she had the unhappiness to see the
beautiful mortal turn to stone from catching a glimpse of it. She
straightway ascended to ask Jove to restore him; but before this
could be done a Sculptor and a Critic passed that way and espied

"This is a very bad Apollo," said the Sculptor: "the chest is too
narrow, and one arm is at least a half-inch shorter than the other.
The attitude is unnatural, and I may say impossible. Ah! my
friend, you should see my statue of Antinous."

"In my judgment, the figure," said the Critic, "is tolerably good,
though rather Etrurian, but the expression of the face is decidedly
Tuscan, and therefore false to nature. By the way, have you read
my work on 'The Fallaciousness of the Aspectual in Art'?"

The Foolish Woman

A MARRIED Woman, whose lover was about to reform by running away,
procured a pistol and shot him dead.

"Why did you do that, Madam?" inquired a Policeman, sauntering by.

"Because," replied the Married Woman, "he was a wicked man, and had
purchased a ticket to Chicago."

"My sister," said an adjacent Man of God, solemnly, "you cannot
stop the wicked from going to Chicago by killing them."

Father and Son

"MY boy," said an aged Father to his fiery and disobedient Son, "a
hot temper is the soil of remorse. Promise me that when next you
are angry you will count one hundred before you move or speak."

No sooner had the Son promised than he received a stinging blow
from the paternal walking-stick, and by the time he had counted to
seventy-five had the unhappiness to see the old man jump into a
waiting cab and whirl away.

The Discontented Malefactor

A JUDGE having sentenced a Malefactor to the penitentiary was
proceeding to point out to him the disadvantages of crime and the
profit of reformation.

"Your Honour," said the Malefactor, interrupting, "would you be
kind enough to alter my punishment to ten years in the penitentiary
and nothing else?"

"Why," said the Judge, surprised, "I have given you only three

"Yes, I know," assented the Malefactor - "three years' imprisonment
and the preaching. If you please, I should like to commute the

A Call to Quit

SEEING that his audiences were becoming smaller every Sunday, a
Minister of the Gospel broke off in the midst of a sermon,
descended the pulpit stairs, and walked on his hands down the
central aisle of the church. He then remounted his feet, ascended
to the pulpit, and resumed his discourse, making no allusion to the

"Now," said he to himself, as he went home, "I shall have,
henceforth, a large attendance and no snoring."

But on the following Friday he was waited upon by the Pillars of
the Church, who informed him that in order to be in harmony with
the New Theology and get full advantage of modern methods of Gospel
interpretation they had deemed it advisable to make a change. They
had therefore sent a call to Brother Jowjeetum-Fallal, the World-
Renowned Hindoo Human Pin-Wheel, then holding forth in Hoopitup's
circus. They were happy to say that the reverend gentleman had
been moved by the Spirit to accept the call, and on the ensuing
Sabbath would break the bread of life for the brethren or break his
neck in the attempt.

The Man and the Lightning

A MAN Running for Office was overtaken by Lightning.

"You see," said the Lightning, as it crept past him inch by inch,
"I can travel considerably faster than you."

"Yes," the Man Running for Office replied, "but think how much
longer I keep going!"

The Lassoed Bear

A HUNTER who had lassoed a Bear was trying to disengage himself
from the rope, but the slip-knot about his wrist would not yield,
for the Bear was all the time pulling in the slack with his paws.
In the midst of his trouble the Hunter saw a Showman passing by,
and managed to attract his attention.

"What will you give me," he said, "for my Bear?"

"It will be some five or ten minutes," said the Showman, "before I
shall want a fresh Bear, and it looks to me as if prices would fall
during that time. I think I'll wait and watch the market."

"The price of this animal," the Hunter replied, "is down to bed-
rock; you can have him for nothing a pound, spot cash, and I'll
throw in the next one that I lasso. But the purchaser must remove
the goods from the premises forthwith, to make room for three man-
eating tigers, a cat-headed gorilla, and an armful of

But the Showman passed on, in maiden meditation, fancy free, and
being joined soon afterward by the Bear, who was absently picking
his teeth, it was inferred that they were not unacquainted.

The Ineffective Rooter

A DRUNKEN Man was lying in the road with a bleeding nose, upon
which he had fallen, when a Pig passed that way.

"You wallow fairly well," said the Pig, "but, my fine fellow, you
have much to learn about rooting."

A Protagonist of Silver

SOME Financiers who were whetting their tongues on their teeth
because the Government had "struck down" silver, and were about to
"inaugurate" a season of sweatshed, were addressed as follows by a
Member of their honourable and warlike body:

"Comrades of the thunder and companions of death, I cannot but
regard it as singularly fortunate that we who by conviction and
sympathy are designated by nature as the champions of that fairest
of her products, the white metal, should also, by a happy chance,
be engaged mostly in the business of mining it. Nothing could be
more appropriate than that those who from unselfish motives and
elevated sentiments are doing battle for the people's rights and
interests, should themselves be the chief beneficiaries of success.
Therefore, O children of the earthquake and the storm, let us stand
shoulder to shoulder, heart to heart, and pocket to pocket!"

This speech so pleased the other Members of the convention that,
actuated by a magnanimous impulse, they sprang to their feet and
left the hall. It was the first time they had ever been known to
leave anything having value.

The Holy Deacon

AN Itinerant Preacher who had wrought hard in the moral vineyard
for several hours whispered to a Holy Deacon of the local church:

"Brother, these people know you, and your active support will bear
fruit abundantly. Please pass the plate for me, and you shall have
one fourth."

The Holy Deacon did so, and putting the money into his pocket
waited till the congregation was dismissed and said goodnight.

"But the money, brother, the money that you collected!" said the
Itinerant Preacher.

"Nothing is coming to you," was the reply; "the Adversary has
hardened their hearts, and one fourth is all they gave."

A Hasty Settlement

"YOUR Honour," said an Attorney, rising, "what is the present
status of this case - as far as it has gone?"

"I have given a judgment for the residuary legatee under the will,"
said the Court, "put the costs upon the contestants, decided all
questions relating to fees and other charges; and, in short, the
estate in litigation has been settled, with all controversies,
disputes, misunderstandings, and differences of opinion thereunto

"Ah, yes, I see," said the Attorney, thoughtfully, "we are making
progress - we are getting on famously."

"Progress?" echoed the Judge - "progress? Why, sir, the matter is

"Exactly, exactly; it had to be concluded in order to give
relevancy to the motion that I am about to make. Your Honour, I
move that the judgment of the Court be set aside and the case

"Upon what ground, sir?" the Judge asked in surprise.

"Upon the ground," said the Attorney, "that after paying all fees
and expenses of litigation and all charges against the estate there
will still be something left."

"There may have been an error," said His Honour, thoughtfully -
"the Court may have underestimated the value of the estate. The
motion is taken under advisement."

The Wooden Guns

AN Artillery Regiment of a State Militia applied to the Governor
for wooden guns to practise with.

"Those," they explained, "will be cheaper than real ones."

"It shall not be said that I sacrificed efficiency to economy,"
said the Governor. "You shall have real guns."

"Thank you, thank you," cried the warriors, effusively. "We will
take good care of them, and in the event of war return them to the

The Reform School Board

THE members of the School Board in Doosnoswair being suspected of
appointing female teachers for an improper consideration, the
people elected a Board composed wholly of women. In a few years
the scandal was at an end; there were no female teachers in the

The Poet's Doom

AN Object was walking along the King's highway wrapped in
meditation and with little else on, when he suddenly found himself
at the gates of a strange city. On applying for admittance, he was
arrested as a necessitator of ordinances, and taken before the

"Who are you," said the King, "and what is your business in life?"

"Snouter the Sneak," replied the Object, with ready invention;

The King was about to command him to be released when the Prime
Minister suggested that the prisoner's fingers be examined. They
were found greatly flattened and calloused at the ends.

"Ha!" cried the King; "I told you so! - he is addicted to counting
syllables. This is a poet. Turn him over to the Lord High
Dissuader from the Head Habit."

"My liege," said the Inventor-in-Ordinary of Ingenious Penalties,
"I venture to suggest a keener affliction.

"Name it," the King said.

"Let him retain that head!"

It was so ordered.

The Noser and the Note

THE Head Rifler of an insolvent bank, learning that it was about to
be visited by the official Noser into Things, placed his own
personal note for a large amount among its resources, and, gaily
touching his guitar, awaited the inspection. When the Noser came
to the note he asked, "What's this?"

"That," said the Assistant Pocketer of Deposits, "is one of our

"A liability?" exclaimed the Noser. "Nay, nay, an asset. That is
what you mean, doubtless."

"Therein you err," the Pocketer explained; "that note was written
in the bank with our own pen, ink, and paper, and we have not paid
a stationery bill for six months."

"Ah, I see," the Noser said, thoughtfully; "it is a liability. May
I ask how you expect to meet it?"

"With fortitude, please God," answered the Assistant Pocketer, his
eyes to Heaven raising - "with fortitude and a firm reliance on the
laxity of the law."

"Enough, enough," exclaimed the faithful servant of the State,
choking with emotion; "here is a certificate of solvency."

"And here is a bottle of ink," the grateful financier said,
slipping it into the other's pocket; "it is all that we have."

The Cat and the King

A CAT was looking at a King, as permitted by the proverb.

"Well," said the monarch, observing her inspection of the royal
person, "how do you like me?"

"I can imagine a King," said the Cat, "whom I should like better."

"For example?"

"The King of the Mice."

The sovereign was so pleased with the wit of the reply that he gave
her permission to scratch his Prime Minister's eyes out.

The Literary Astronomer

THE Director of an Observatory, who, with a thirty-six-inch
refractor, had discovered the moon, hastened to an Editor, with a
four-column account of the event.

"How much?" said the Editor, sententiously, without looking up from
his essay on the circularity of the political horizon.

"One hundred and sixty dollars," replied the man who had discovered
the moon.

"Not half enough," was the Editor's comment.

"Generous man!" cried the Astronomer, glowing with warm and
elevated sentiments, "pay me, then, what you will."

"Great and good friend," said the Editor, blandly, looking up from
his work, "we are far asunder, it seems. The paying is to be done
by you."

The Director of the Observatory gathered up the manuscript and went
away, explaining that it needed correction; he had neglected to dot
an m.

The Lion and the Rattlesnake

A MAN having found a Lion in his path undertook to subdue him by
the power of the human eye; and near by was a Rattlesnake engaged
in fascinating a small bird.

"How are you getting on, brother?" the Man called out to the other
reptile, without removing his eyes from those of the Lion.

"Admirably," replied the serpent. "My success is assured; my
victim draws nearer and nearer in spite of her efforts."

"And mine," said the Man, "draws nearer and nearer in spite of
mine. Are you sure it is all right?"

"If you don't think so," the reptile replied as well as he then
could, with his mouth full of bird, "you better give it up."

A half-hour later, the Lion, thoughtfully picking his teeth with
his claws, told the Rattlesnake that he had never in all his varied
experience in being subdued, seen a subduer try so earnestly to
give it up. "But," he added, with a wide, significant smile, "I
looked him into countenance."

The Man with No Enemies

AN Inoffensive Person walking in a public place was assaulted by a
Stranger with a Club, and severely beaten.

When the Stranger with a Club was brought to trial, the complainant
said to the Judge:

"I do not know why I was assaulted; I have not an enemy in the

"That," said the defendant, "is why I struck him."

"Let the prisoner be discharged," said the Judge; "a man who has no
enemies has no friends. The courts are not for such."

The Alderman and the Raccoon

"I SEE quite a number of rings on your tail," said an Alderman to a
Raccoon that he met in a zoological garden.

"Yes," replied the Raccoon, "and I hear quite a number of tales on
your ring."

The Alderman, being of a sensitive, retiring disposition, shrank
from further comparison, and, strolling to another part of the
garden, stole the camel.

The Flying-Machine

AN Ingenious Man who had built a flying-machine invited a great
concourse of people to see it go up. At the appointed moment,
everything being ready, he boarded the car and turned on the power.
The machine immediately broke through the massive substructure upon
which it was builded, and sank out of sight into the earth, the
aeronaut springing out barely in time to save himself.

"Well," said he, "I have done enough to demonstrate the correctness
of my details. The defects," he added, with a look at the ruined
brick-work, "are merely basic and fundamental."

Upon this assurance the people came forward with subscriptions to
build a second machine.

The Angel's Tear

AN Unworthy Man who had laughed at the woes of a Woman whom he
loved, was bewailing his indiscretion in sack-cloth-of-gold and
ashes-of-roses, when the Angel of Compassion looked down upon him,

"Poor mortal! - how unblest not to know the wickedness of laughing
at another's misfortune!"

So saying, he let fall a great tear, which, encountering in its
descent a current of cold air, was congealed into a hail-stone.
This struck the Unworthy Man on the head and set him rubbing that
bruised organ vigorously with one hand while vainly attempting to
expand an umbrella with the other.

Thereat the Angel of Compassion did most shamelessly and wickedly

The City of Political Distinction

JAMRACH the Rich, being anxious to reach the City of Political
Distinction before nightfall, arrived at a fork of the road and was
undecided which branch to follow; so he consulted a Wise-Looking
Person who sat by the wayside.

"Take THAT road," said the Wise-Looking Person, pointing it out;
"it is known as the Political Highway."

"Thank you," said Jamrach, and was about to proceed.

"About how much do you thank me?" was the reply. "Do you suppose I
am here for my health?"

As Jamrach had not become rich by stupidity, he handed something to
his guide and hastened on, and soon came to a toll-gate kept by a
Benevolent Gentleman, to whom he gave something, and was suffered
to pass. A little farther along he came to a bridge across an
imaginary stream, where a Civil Engineer (who had built the bridge)
demanded something for interest on his investment, and it was
forthcoming. It was growing late when Jamrach came to the margin
of what appeared to be a lake of black ink, and there the road
terminated. Seeing a Ferryman in his boat he paid something for
his passage and was about to embark.

"No," said the Ferryman. "Put your neck in this noose, and I will
tow you over. It is the only way," he added, seeing that the
passenger was about to complain of the accommodations.

In due time he was dragged across, half strangled, and dreadfully
beslubbered by the feculent waters. "There," said the Ferryman,
hauling him ashore and disengaging him, "you are now in the City of
Political Distinction. It has fifty millions of inhabitants, and
as the colour of the Filthy Pool does not wash off, they all look
exactly alike."

"Alas!" exclaimed Jamrach, weeping and bewailing the loss of all
his possessions, paid out in tips and tolls; "I will go back with

"I don't think you will,", said the Ferryman, pushing off; "this
city is situated on the Island of the Unreturning."

The Party Over There

A MAN in a Hurry, whose watch was at his lawyer's, asked a Grave
Person the time of day.

"I heard you ask that Party Over There the same question," said the
Grave Person. "What answer did he give you?"

"He said it was about three o'clock," replied the Man in a Hurry;
"but he did not look at his watch, and as the sun is nearly down, I
think it is later."

"The fact that the sun is nearly down," the Grave Person said, "is
immaterial, but the fact that he did not consult his timepiece and
make answer after due deliberation and consideration is fatal. The
answer given," continued the Grave Person, consulting his own
timepiece, "is of no effect, invalid, and absurd."

"What, then," said the Man in a Hurry, eagerly, "is the time of

"The question is remanded to the Party Over There for a new
answer," replied the Grave Person, returning his watch to his
pocket and moving away with great dignity.

He was a Judge of an Appellate Court.

The Poetess of Reform

ONE pleasant day in the latter part of eternity, as the Shades of
all the great writers were reposing upon beds of asphodel and moly
in the Elysian fields, each happy in hearing from the lips of the
others nothing but copious quotation from his own works (for so
Jove had kindly bedeviled their ears), there came in among them
with triumphant mien a Shade whom none knew. She (for the newcomer
showed such evidences of sex as cropped hair and a manly stride)
took a seat in their midst, and smiling a superior smile explained:

"After centuries of oppression I have wrested my rights from the
grasp of the jealous gods. On earth I was the Poetess of Reform,
and sang to inattentive ears. Now for an eternity of honour and

But it was not to be so, and soon she was the unhappiest of
mortals, vainly desirous to wander again in gloom by the infernal
lakes. For Jove had not bedeviled her ears, and she heard from the
lips of each blessed Shade an incessant flow of quotation from his
own works. Moreover, she was denied the happiness of repeating her
poems. She could not recall a line of them, for Jove had decreed
that the memory of them abide in Pluto's painful domain, as a part
of the apparatus.

The Unchanged Diplomatist

THE republic of Madagonia had been long and well represented at the
court of the King of Patagascar by an officer called a Dazie, but
one day the Madagonian Parliament conferred upon him the superior
rank of Dandee. The next day after being apprised of his new
dignity he hastened to inform the King of Patagascar.

"Ah, yes, I understand," said the King; "you have been promoted and
given increased pay and allowances. There was an appropriation?"

"Yes, your Majesty."

"And you have now two heads, have you not?"

"Oh, no, your Majesty - only one, I assure you."

"Indeed? And how many legs and arms?"

"Two of each, Sire - only two of each."

"And only one body?"

"Just a single body, as you perceive."

Thoughtfully removing his crown and scratching the royal head, the
monarch was silent a moment, and then he said:

"I fancy that appropriation has been misapplied. You seem to be
about the same kind of idiot that you were before."

An Invitation

A PIOUS Person who had overcharged his paunch with dead bird by way
of attesting his gratitude for escaping the many calamities which
Heaven had sent upon others, fell asleep at table and dreamed. He
thought he lived in a country where turkeys were the ruling class,
and every year they held a feast to manifest their sense of
Heaven's goodness in sparing their lives to kill them later. One
day, about a week before one of these feasts, he met the Supreme
Gobbler, who said:

"You will please get yourself into good condition for the
Thanksgiving dinner."

"Yes, your Excellency," replied the Pious Person, delighted, "I
shall come hungry, I assure you. It is no small privilege to dine
with your Excellency."

The Supreme Gobbler eyed him for a moment in silence; then he said:

"As one of the lower domestic animals, you cannot be expected to
know much, but you might know something. Since you do not, you
will permit me to point out that being asked to dinner is one
thing; being asked to dine is another and a different thing."

With this significant remark the Supreme Gobbler left him, and
thenceforward the Pious Person dreamed of himself as white meat and
dark until rudely awakened by decapitation.

The Ashes of Madame Blavatsky

THE two brightest lights of Theosophy being in the same place at
once in company with the Ashes of Madame Blavatsky, an Inquiring
Soul thought the time propitious to learn something worth while.
So he sat at the feet of one awhile, and then he sat awhile at the
feet of the other, and at last he applied his ear to the keyhole of
the casket containing the Ashes of Madame Blavatsky. When the
Inquiring Soul had completed his course of instruction he declared
himself the Ahkoond of Swat, fell into the baleful habit of
standing on his head, and swore that the mother who bore him was a
pragmatic paralogism. Wherefore he was held in high reverence, and
when the two other gentlemen were hanged for lying the Theosophists
elected him to the leadership of their Disastral Body, and after a
quiet life and an honourable death by the kick of a jackass he was
reincarnated as a Yellow Dog. As such he ate the Ashes of Madame
Blavatsky, and Theosophy was no more.

The Opossum of the Future

ONE day an Opossum who had gone to sleep hanging from the highest
branch of a tree by the tail, awoke and saw a large Snake wound
about the limb, between him and the trunk of the tree.

"If I hold on," he said to himself, "I shall be swallowed; if I let
go I shall break my neck."

But suddenly he bethought himself to dissemble.

"My perfected friend," he said, "my parental instinct recognises in
you a noble evidence and illustration of the theory of development.
You are the Opossum of the Future, the ultimate Fittest Survivor of
our species, the ripe result of progressive prehensility - all

But the Snake, proud of his ancient eminence in Scriptural history,
was strictly orthodox, and did not accept the scientific view.

The Life-Savers

SEVENTY-FIVE Men presented themselves before the President of the
Humane Society and demanded the great gold medal for life-saving.

"Why, yes," said the President; "by diligent effort so many men
must have saved a considerable number of lives. How many did you

"Seventy-five, sir," replied their Spokesman.

"Ah, yes, that is one each - very good work - very good work,
indeed," the President said. "You shall not only have the
Society's great gold medal, but its recommendation for employment
at the various life-boat stations along the coast. But how did you
save so many lives?"

The Spokesman of the Men replied:

"We are officers of the law, and have just returned from the
pursuit of two murderous outlaws."

The Australian Grasshopper

A DISTINGUISHED Naturalist was travelling in Australia, when he saw
a Kangaroo in session and flung a stone at it. The Kangaroo
immediately adjourned, tracing against the sunset sky a parabolic
curve spanning seven provinces, and evanished below the horizon.
The Distinguished Naturalist looked interested, but said nothing
for an hour; then he said to his native Guide:

"You have pretty wide meadows here, I suppose?"

"No, not very wide," the Guide answered; "about the same as in
England and America."

After another long silence the Distinguished Naturalist said:

"The hay which we shall purchase for our horses this evening - I
shall expect to find the stalks about fifty feet long. Am I

"Why, no," said the Guide; "a foot or two is about the usual length
of our hay. What can you be thinking of?"

The Distinguished Naturalist made no immediate reply, but later, as
in the shades of night they journeyed through the desolate vastness
of the Great Lone Land, he broke the silence:

"I was thinking," he said, "of the uncommon magnitude of that

The Pavior

AN Author saw a Labourer hammering stones into the pavement of a
street, and approaching him said:

"My friend, you seem weary. Ambition is a hard taskmaster."

"I'm working for Mr. Jones, sir," the Labourer replied.

"Well, cheer up," the Author resumed; "fame comes at the most
unexpected times. To-day you are poor, obscure, and disheartened,
and to-morrow the world may be ringing with your name."

"What are you giving me?" the Labourer said. "Cannot an honest
pavior perform his work in peace, and get his money for it, and his
living by it, without others talking rot about ambition and hopes
of fame?"

"Cannot an honest writer?" said the Author.

The Tried Assassin

AN Assassin being put upon trial in a New England court, his
Counsel rose and said: "Your Honour, I move for a discharge on the
ground of 'once in jeopardy': my client has been already tried for
that murder and acquitted."

"In what court?" asked the Judge.

"In the Superior Court of San Francisco," the Counsel replied.

"Let the trial proceed - your motion is denied," said the Judge.
"An Assassin is not in jeopardy when tried in California."

The Bumbo of Jiam

THE Pahdour of Patagascar and the Gookul of Madagonia were
disputing about an island which both claimed. Finally, at the
suggestion of the International League of Cannon Founders, which
had important branches in both countries, they decided to refer
their claims to the Bumbo of Jiam, and abide by his judgment. In
settling the preliminaries of the arbitration they had, however,
the misfortune to disagree, and appealed to arms. At the end of a
long and disastrous war, when both sides were exhausted and
bankrupt, the Bumbo of Jiam intervened in the interest of peace.

"My great and good friends," he said to his brother sovereigns, "it
will be advantageous to you to learn that some questions are more
complex and perilous than others, presenting a greater number of
points upon which it is possible to differ. For four generations
your royal predecessors disputed about possession of that island,
without falling out. Beware, oh, beware the perils of
international arbitration! - against which I feel it my duty to
protect you henceforth."

So saying, he annexed both countries, and after a long, peaceful,
and happy reign was poisoned by his Prime Minister.

The Two Poets

Two Poets were quarrelling for the Apple of Discord and the Bone of
Contention, for they were very hungry.

"My sons," said Apollo, "I will part the prizes between you. You,"
he said to the First Poet, "excel in Art - take the Apple. And
you," he said to the Second Poet, "in Imagination - take the Bone."

"To Art the best prize!" said the First Poet, triumphantly, and
endeavouring to devour his award broke all his teeth. The Apple
was a work of Art.

"That shows our Master's contempt for mere Art," said the Second
Poet, grinning.

Thereupon he attempted to gnaw his Bone, but his teeth passed
through it without resistance. It was an imaginary Bone.

The Thistles upon the Grave

A MIND Reader made a wager that he would be buried alive and remain
so for six months, then be dug up alive. In order to secure the
grave against secret disturbance, it was sown with thistles. At
the end of three months, the Mind Reader lost his money. He had
come up to eat the thistles.

The Shadow of the Leader

A POLITICAL Leader was walking out one sunny day, when he observed
his Shadow leaving him and walking rapidly away.

"Come back here, you scoundrel," he cried.

"If I had been a scoundrel," answered the Shadow, increasing its
speed, "I should not have left you."

The Sagacious Rat

A RAT that was about to emerge from his hole caught a glimpse of a
Cat waiting for him, and descending to the colony at the bottom of
the hole invited a Friend to join him in a visit to a neighbouring
corn-bin. "I would have gone alone," he said, "but could not deny
myself the pleasure of such distinguished company."

"Very well," said the Friend, "I will go with you. Lead on."

"Lead?" exclaimed the other. "What! I precede so great and
illustrious a rat as you? No, indeed - after you, sir, after you."

Pleased with this great show of deference, the Friend went ahead,
and, leaving the hole first, was caught by the Cat, who immediately
trotted away with him. The other then went out unmolested.

The Member and the Soap

A MEMBER of the Kansas Legislature meeting a Cake of Soap was
passing it by without recognition, but the Cake of Soap insisted on
stopping and shaking hands. Thinking it might possibly be in the
enjoyment of the elective franchise, he gave it a cordial and
earnest grasp. On letting it go he observed that a portion of it
adhered to his fingers, and running to a brook in great alarm he
proceeded to wash it off. In doing so he necessarily got some on
the other hand, and when he had finished washing, both were so
white that he went to bed and sent for a physician.

Alarm and Pride

"GOOD-MORNING, my friend," said Alarm to Pride; "how are you this

"Very tired," replied Pride, seating himself on a stone by the
wayside and mopping his steaming brow. "The politicians are
wearing me out by pointing to their dirty records with ME, when
they could as well use a stick."

Alarm sighed sympathetically, and said:

"It is pretty much the same way here. Instead of using an opera-
glass they view the acts of their opponents with ME!"

As these patient drudges were mingling their tears, they were
notified that they must go on duty again, for one of the political
parties had nominated a thief and was about to hold a gratification

A Causeway

A RICH Woman having returned from abroad disembarked at the foot of
Knee-deep Street, and was about to walk to her hotel through the

"Madam," said a Policeman, "I cannot permit you to do that; you
would soil your shoes and stockings."

"Oh, that is of no importance, really," replied the Rich Woman,
with a cheerful smile.

"But, madam, it is needless; from the wharf to the hotel, as you
observe, extends an unbroken line of prostrate newspaper men who
crave the honour of having you walk upon them."

"In that case," she said, seating herself in a doorway and
unlocking her satchel, "I shall have to put on my rubber boots."

Two in Trouble

MEETING a fat and patriotic Statesman on his way to Washington to
beseech the President for an office, an idle Tramp accosted him and
begged twenty-five cents with which to buy a suit of clothes.

"Melancholy wreck," said the Statesman, "what brought you to this
state of degradation? Liquor, I suppose."

"I am temperate to the verge of absurdity," replied the Tramp. "My
foible was patriotism; I was ruined by the baneful habit of trying
to serve my country. What ruined you?"


The Witch's Steed

A BROOMSTICK which had long served a witch as a steed complained of
the nature of its employment, which it thought degrading.

"Very well," said the Witch, "I will give you work in which you
will be associated with intellect - you will come in contact with
brains. I shall present you to a housewife."

"What!" said the Broomstick, "do you consider the hands of a
housewife intellectual?"

"I referred," said the Witch, "to the head of her good man."

The All Dog

A LION seeing a Poodle fell into laughter at the ridiculous

"Who ever saw so small a beast?" he said.

"It is very true," said the Poodle, with austere dignity, "that I
am small; but, sir, I beg to observe that I am all dog."

The Farmer's Friend

A GREAT Philanthropist who had thought of himself in connection
with the Presidency and had introduced a bill into Congress
requiring the Government to loan every voter all the money that he
needed, on his personal security, was explaining to a Sunday-school
at a railway station how much he had done for the country, when an
angel looked down from Heaven and wept.

"For example," said the Great Philanthropist, watching the
teardrops pattering in the dust, "these early rains are of
incalculable advantage to the farmer."

Physicians Two

A WICKED Old Man finding himself ill sent for a Physician, who
prescribed for him and went away. Then the Wicked Old Man sent for
another Physician, saying nothing of the first, and an entirely
different treatment was ordered. This continued for some weeks,
the physicians visiting him on alternate days and treating him for
two different disorders, with constantly enlarging doses of
medicine and more and more rigorous nursing. But one day they
accidently met at his bedside while he slept, and the truth coming
out a violent quarrel ensued.

"My good friends," said the patient, awakened by the noise of the
dispute, and apprehending the cause of it, "pray be more
reasonable. If I could for weeks endure you both, can you not for
a little while endure each other? I have been well for ten days,
but have remained in bed in the hope of gaining by repose the
strength that would justify me in taking your medicines. So far I
have touched none of it."

The Overlooked Factor

A MAN that owned a fine Dog, and by a careful selection of its mate
had bred a number of animals but a little lower than the angels,
fell in love with his washerwoman, married her, and reared a family
of dolts.

"Alas!" he exclaimed, contemplating the melancholy result, "had I
but chosen a mate for myself with half the care that I did for my
Dog I should now be a proud and happy father."

"I'm not so sure of that," said the Dog, overhearing the lament.
"There's a difference, certainly, between your whelps and mine, but
I venture to flatter myself that it is not due altogether to the
mothers. You and I are not entirely alike ourselves."

A Racial Parallel

SOME White Christians engaged in driving Chinese Heathens out of an
American town found a newspaper published in Peking in the Chinese
tongue, and compelled one of their victims to translate an
editorial. It turned out to be an appeal to the people of the
Province of Pang Ki to drive the foreign devils out of the country
and burn their dwellings and churches. At this evidence of
Mongolian barbarity the White Christians were so greatly incensed
that they carried out their original design.

The Honest Cadi

A ROBBER who had plundered a Merchant of one thousand pieces of
gold was taken before the Cadi, who asked him if he had anything to
say why he should not be decapitated.

"Your Honour," said the Robber, "I could do no otherwise than take
the money, for Allah made me that way."

"Your defence is ingenious and sound," said the Cadi, "and I must
acquit you of criminality. Unfortunately, Allah has made me so
that I must also take off your head - unless," he added,
thoughtfully, "you offer me half of the gold; for He made me weak
under temptation."

Thereupon the Robber put five hundred pieces of gold into the
Cadi's hand.

"Good," said the Cadi. "I shall now remove but one half your head.
To show my trust in your discretion I shall leave intact the half
you talk with."

The Kangaroo and the Zebra

A KANGAROO hopping awkwardly along with some bulky object concealed
in her pouch met a Zebra, and desirous of keeping his attention
upon himself, said:

"Your costume looks as if you might have come out of the

"Appearances are deceitful," replied the Zebra, smiling in the
consciousness of a more insupportable wit, "or I should have to
think that you had come out of the Legislature."

A Matter of Method

A PHILOSOPHER seeing a Fool beating his Donkey, said:

"Abstain, my son, abstain, I implore. Those who resort to violence
shall suffer from violence."

"That," said the Fool, diligently belabouring the animal, "is what
I'm trying to teach this beast - which has kicked me."

"Doubtless," said the Philosopher to himself, as he walked away,
"the wisdom of fools is no deeper nor truer than ours, but they
really do seem to have a more impressive way of imparting it."

The Man of Principle

DURING a shower of rain the Keeper of a Zoological garden observed
a Man of Principle crouching beneath the belly of the ostrich,
which had drawn itself up to its full height to sleep.

"Why, my dear sir," said the Keeper, "if you fear to get wet, you'd
better creep into the pouch of yonder female kangaroo - the
SALTARIX MACKINTOSHA - for if that ostrich wakes he will kick you
to death in a minute."

"I can't help that," the Man of Principle replied, with that lofty
scorn of practical considerations distinguishing his species. "He
may kick me to death if he wish, but until he does he shall give me
shelter from the storm. He has swallowed my umbrella."

The Returned Californian

A MAN was hanged by the neck until he was dead.

"Whence do you come?" Saint Peter asked when the Man presented
himself at the gate of Heaven.

"From California," replied the applicant.

"Enter, my son, enter; you bring joyous tidings."

When the Man had vanished inside, Saint Peter took his memorandum-
tablet and made the following entry:

"February 16, 1893. California occupied by the Christians."

The Compassionate Physician

A KIND-HEARTED Physician sitting at the bedside of a patient
afflicted with an incurable and painful disease, heard a noise
behind him, and turning saw a cat laughing at the feeble efforts of
a wounded mouse to drag itself out of the room.

"You cruel beast!" cried he. "Why don't you kill it at once, like
a lady?"

Rising, he kicked the cat out of the door, and picking up the mouse
compassionately put it out of its misery by pulling off its head.
Recalled to the bedside by the moans of his patient, the Kind-
hearted Physician administered a stimulant, a tonic, and a
nutrient, and went away.

Two of the Damned

TWO Blighted Beings, haggard, lachrymose, and detested, met on a
blasted heath in the light of a struggling moon.

"I wish you a merry Christmas," said the First Blighted Being, in a
voice like that of a singing tomb.

"And I you a happy New Year," responded the Second Blighted Being,
with the accent of a penitent accordeon.

They then fell upon each other's neck and wept scalding rills down
each other's spine in token of their banishment to the Realm of
Ineffable Bosh. For one of these accursed creatures was the First
of January, and the other the Twenty-fifth of December.

The Austere Governor

A GOVERNOR visiting a State prison was implored by a Convict to
pardon him.

"What are you in for?" asked the Governor.

"I held a high office," the Convict humbly replied, "and sold
subordinate appointments."

"Then I decline to interfere," said the Governor, with asperity; "a
man who abuses his office by making it serve a private end and
purvey a personal advantage is unfit to be free. By the way, Mr.
Warden," he added to that official, as the Convict slunk away, "in
appointing you to this position, I was given to understand that
your friends could make the Shikane county delegation to the next
State convention solid for - for the present Administration. Was I
rightly informed?"

"You were, sir."

"Very well, then, I will bid you good-day. Please be so good as to
appoint my nephew Night Chaplain and Reminder of Mothers and

Religions of Error

HEARING a sound of strife, a Christian in the Orient asked his
Dragoman the cause of it.

"The Buddhists are cutting Mohammedan throats," the Dragoman
replied, with oriental composure.

"I did not know," remarked the Christian, with scientific interest,
"that that would make so much noise."

"The Mohammedans are cutting Buddhist throats, too," added the

"It is astonishing," mused the Christian, "how violent and how
general are religious animosities. Everywhere in the world the
devotees of each local faith abhor the devotees of every other, and
abstain from murder only so long as they dare not commit it. And
the strangest thing about it is that all religions are erroneous
and mischievous excepting mine. Mine, thank God, is true and

So saying he visibly smugged and went off to telegraph for a
brigade of cutthroats to protect Christian interests.

The Penitent Elector

A PERSON belonging to the Society for Passing Resolutions of
Respect for the Memory of Deceased Members having died received the
customary attention.

"Good Heavens!" exclaimed a Sovereign Elector, on hearing the
resolutions read, "what a loss to the nation! And to think that I
once voted against that angel for Inspector of Gate-latches in
Public Squares!"

In remorse the Sovereign Elector deprived himself of political
influence by learning to read.

The Tail of the Sphinx

A DOG of a taciturn disposition said to his Tail:

"Whenever I am angry, you rise and bristle; when I am pleased, you
wag; when I am alarmed, you tuck yourself in out of danger. You
are too mercurial - you disclose all my emotions. My notion is
that tails are given to conceal thought. It is my dearest ambition
to be as impassive as the Sphinx."

"My friend, you must recognise the laws and limitations of your
being," replied the Tail, with flexions appropriate to the
sentiments uttered, "and try to be great some other way. The
Sphinx has one hundred and fifty qualifications for impassiveness
which you lack."

"What are they?" the Dog asked.

"One hundred and forty-nine tons of sand on her tail."

"And - ?"

"A stone tail."

A Prophet of Evil

AN Undertaker Who Was a Member of a Trust saw a Man Leaning on a
Spade, and asked him why he was not at work.

"Because," said the Man Leaning on a Spade, "I belong to the
Gravediggers' National Extortion Society, and we have decided to
limit the production of graves and get more money for the reduced
output. We have a corner in graves and propose to work it to the
best advantage."

"My friend," said the Undertaker Who Was a Member of a Trust, "this
is a most hateful and injurious scheme. If people cannot be
assured of graves, I fear they will no longer die, and the best
interests of civilisation will wither like a frosted leaf."

And blowing his eyes upon his handkerchief, he walked away

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