Part 2 out of 3
"Took a chance," said Parkins. "Went across to the railway
station to buy our tickets with the Hungarian money."
"Did you get them?" I said.
"Yes," assented Parkins. "They said they'd sell us tickets.
But they questioned us mighty closely; asked where we
wanted to go to, what class we meant to travel by, how
much luggage we had to register and so on. I tell you
the fellow looked at us mighty closely."
"Were you in those clothes?" I asked.
"Yes," said Parkins, "but I guess he suspected we weren't
Hungarians. You see, we couldn't either of us speak
Hungarian. In fact we spoke nothing but English."
"That would give him a clue," I said.
"However," he went on, "he was civil enough in a way. We
asked when was the next train to the sea coast, and he
said there wasn't any."
"No trains?" I repeated.
"Not to the coast. The man said the reason was because
there wasn't any railway to the coast. But he offered to
sell us tickets to Vienna. We asked when the train would
go and he said there wouldn't be one for two hours. So
there we were waiting on that wretched little platform,--no
place to sit down, no shade, unless one went into the
waiting room itself,--for two mortal hours. And even then
the train was an hour and a half late!"
"An hour and a half late!" I repeated.
"Yep!" said Parkins, "that's what things were like over
there. So when we got on board the train we asked a man
when it was due to get to Vienna, and he said he hadn't
the faintest idea!"
"Not the faintest idea. He told us to ask the conductor
or one of the porters. No, sir, I'll never forget that
journey through to Vienna,--nine mortal hours! Nothing
to eat, not a bite, except just in the middle of the day
when they managed to hitch on a dining-car for a while.
And they warned everybody that the dining-car was only
on for an hour and a half. Commandeered, I guess after
that," added Parkins, puffing his cigarette.
"Well," he continued, "we got to Vienna at last. I'll
never forget the scene there, station full of people,
trains coming and going, men, even women, buying tickets,
big piles of luggage being shoved on trucks. It gave one
a great idea of the reality of things."
"It must have," I said.
"Poor old Loo Jones was getting pretty well used up with
it all. However, we determined to see it through somehow."
"What did you do next?"
"Tried again to get money: couldn't--they changed our
Hungarian paper into Italian gold, but they refused to
give us American money."
"Hoarding it?" I hinted.
"Exactly," said Parkins, "hoarding it all for the war.
Well anyhow we got on a train for Italy and there our
troubles began all over again:--train stopped at the
frontier,--officials (fellows in Italian uniforms) went
all through it, opening hand baggage--"
"Not hand baggage!" I gasped.
"Yes, sir, even the hand baggage. Opened it all, or a
lot of it anyway, and scribbled chalk marks over it. Yes,
and worse than that,--I saw them take two fellows and
sling them clear off the train,--they slung them right
out on to the platform."
"What for?" I asked.
"Heaven knows," said Parkins,--"they said they had no
tickets. In war time you know, when they're mobilizing,
they won't let a soul ride on a train without a ticket."
"Infernal tyranny," I murmured.
"Isn't it? However, we got to Genoa at last, only to find
that not a single one of our trunks had come with us!"
"Confiscated?" I asked.
"I don't know," said Parkins, "the head baggage man (he
wears a uniform, you know, in Italy just like a soldier)
said it was because we'd forgotten to check them in
Vienna. However there we were waiting for twenty-four
hours with nothing but our valises."
"Right at the station?" I asked.
"No, at a hotel. We got the trunks later. They telegraphed
to Vienna for them and managed to get them through
somehow,--in a baggage car, I believe."
"And after that, I suppose, you had no more trouble."
"Trouble," said Parkins, "I should say we had. Couldn't
get a steamer! They said there was none sailing out of
Genoa for New York for three days! All cancelled, I guess,
or else rigged up as cruisers."
"What on earth did you do?"
"Stuck it out as best we could: stayed right there in
the hotel. Poor old Jones was pretty well collapsed!
Couldn't do anything but sleep and eat, and sit on the
piazza of the hotel."
"But you got your steamer at last?" I asked.
"Yes," he admitted, "we got it. But I never want to go
through another voyage like that again, no sir!"
"What was wrong with it?" I asked, "bad weather?"
"No, calm, but a peculiar calm, glassy, with little
ripples on the water,--uncanny sort of feeling."
"What was wrong with the voyage?"
"Oh, just the feeling of it,--everything under strict
rule you know--no lights anywhere except just the electric
lights,--smoking-room closed tight at eleven o'clock,--decks
all washed down every night--officers up on the bridge
all day looking out over the sea,--no, sir, I want no
more of it. Poor old Loo Jones, I guess he's quite used
up: he can't speak of it at all: just sits and broods,
in fact I doubt..."
At this moment Parkins's conversation was interrupted by
the entry of two newcomers into the room. One of them
had on a little Hungarian suit like the one Parkins wore,
and was talking loudly as they came in.
"Yes," he was saying, "we were caught there fair and
square right in the war zone. We were at Izzl in the
Carpathians, poor old Parkins and I--"
We looked round.
It was Loo Jones, describing his escape from Europe.
7.--The War Mania of Mr. Jinks and Mr. Blinks
They were sitting face to face at a lunch table at the
club so near to me that I couldn't avoid hearing what
they said. In any case they are both stout men with
gurgling voices which carry.
"What Kitchener ought to do,"--Jinks was saying in a loud
So I knew at once that he had the prevailing hallucination.
He thought he was commanding armies in Europe.
After which I watched him show with three bits of bread
and two olives and a dessert knife the way in which the
German army could be destroyed.
Blinks looked at Jinks' diagram with a stern impassive
face, modelled on the Sunday supplement photogravures of
"Your flank would be too much exposed," he said, pointing
to Jinks' bread. He spoke with the hard taciturnity of
"My reserves cover it," said Jinks, moving two pepper
pots to the support of the bread.
"Mind you," Jinks went on, "I don't say Kitchener WILL
do this: I say this is what he OUGHT to do: it's exactly
the tactics of Kuropatkin outside of Mukden and it's
precisely the same turning movement that Grant used before
Blinks nodded gravely. Anybody who has seen the Grand
Duke Nicholoevitch quietly accepting the advice of General
Ruski under heavy artillery fire, will realize Blinks'
manner to a nicety.
And, oddly enough, neither of them, I am certain, has
ever had any larger ideas about the history of the Civil
War than what can be got from reading Uncle Tom's Cabin
and seeing Gillette play Secret Service. But this is part
of the mania. Jinks and Blinks had suddenly developed
the hallucination that they knew the history of all wars
by a sort of instinct.
They rose soon after that, dusted off their waistcoats
with their napkins and waddled heavily towards the door.
I could hear them as they went talking eagerly of the
need of keeping the troops in hard training. They were
almost brutal in their severity. As they passed out of
the door,--one at a time to avoid crowding,--they were
still talking about it. Jinks was saying that our whole
generation is overfed and soft. If he had his way he
would take every man in the United States up to forty-
seven years of age (Jinks is forty-eight) and train him
to a shadow. Blinks went further. He said they should
be trained hard up to fifty. He is fifty-one.
After that I used to notice Jinks and Blinks always
together in the club, and always carrying on the European
I never knew which side they were on. They seemed to be
on both. One day they commanded huge armies of Russians,
and there was one week when Blinks and Jinks at the head
of vast levies of Cossacks threatened to overrun the
whole of Western Europe. It was dreadful to watch them
burning churches and monasteries and to see Jinks throw
whole convents full of white robed nuns into the flames
like so much waste paper.
For a time I feared they would obliterate civilization
itself. Then suddenly Blinks decided that Jinks' Cossacks
were no good, not properly trained. He converted himself
on the spot into a Prussian Field Marshal, declared
himself organised to a pitch of organisation of which
Jinks could form no idea, and swept Jinks' army off the
earth, without using any men at all, by sheer organisation.
In this way they moved to and fro all winter over the
map of Europe, carrying death and destruction everywhere
and revelling in it.
But I think I liked best the wild excitement of their
Jinks generally fancied himself a submarine and Blinks
acted the part of a first-class battleship. Jinks would
pop his periscope out of the water, take a look at Blinks
merely for the fraction of a second, and then, like a
flash, would dive under water again and start firing his
torpedoes. He explained that he carried six.
But he was never quick enough for Blinks. One glimpse
of his periscope miles and miles away was enough. Blinks
landed him a contact shell in the side, sunk him with
all hands, and then lined his yards with men and cheered.
I have known Blinks sink Jinks at two miles, six miles--and
once--in the club billiard room just after the battle of
the Falkland Islands,--he got him fair and square at
ten nautical miles.
Jinks of course claimed that he was not sunk. He had
dived. He was two hundred feet under water quietly smiling
at Blinks through his periscope. In fact the number of
things that Jinks has learned to do through his periscope
Whenever I see him looking across at Blinks with his eyes
half closed and with a baffling, quizzical expression in
them, I know that he is looking at him through his
periscope. Now is the time for Blinks to watch out. If
he relaxes his vigilance for a moment he'll be torpedoed
as he sits, and sent flying, whiskey and soda and all,
through the roof of the club, while Jinks dives into the
Indeed it has come about of late, I don't know just how,
that Jinks has more or less got command of the sea. A
sort of tacit understanding has been reached that Blinks,
whichever army he happens at the moment to command, is
invincible on land. But Jinks, whether as a submarine or
a battleship, controls the sea. No doubt this grew up in
the natural evolution of their conversation. It makes
things easier for both. Jinks even asks Blinks how many
men there are in an army division, and what a sotnia of
Cossacks is and what the Army Service Corps means. And
Jinks in return has become a recognized expert in torpedoes
and has taken to wearing a blue serge suit and referring
to Lord Beresford as Charley.
But what I noticed chiefly about the war mania of Jinks
and Blinks was their splendid indifference to slaughter.
They had gone into the war with a grim resolution to
fight it out to a finish. If Blinks thought to terrify
Jinks by threatening to burn London, he little knew his
man. "All right," said Jinks, taking a fresh light for
his cigar, "burn it! By doing so, you destroy, let us
say, two million of my women and children? Very good. Am
I injured by that? No. You merely stimulate me to
There was something awful in the grimness of the struggle
as carried on by Blinks and Jinks.
The rights of neutrals and non-combatants, Red Cross
nurses, and regimental clergymen they laughed to scorn.
As for moving-picture men and newspaper correspondents,
Jinks and Blinks hanged them on every tree in Belgium
With combatants in this frame of mind the war I suppose
might have lasted forever.
But it came to an end accidentally,--fortuitously, as
all great wars are apt to. And by accident also, I happened
to see the end of it.
It was late one evening. Jinks and Blinks were coming
down the steps of the club, and as they came they were
speaking with some vehemence on their favourite topic.
"I tell you," Jinks was saying, "war is a great thing.
We needed it, Blinks. We were all getting too soft, too
scared of suffering and pain. We wilt at a bayonet charge,
we shudder at the thought of wounds. Bah!" he continued,
"what does it matter if a few hundred thousands of human
beings are cut to pieces. We need to get back again to
the old Viking standard, the old pagan ideas of suffering--"
And as he spoke he got it.
The steps of the club were slippery with the evening's
rain,--not so slippery as the frozen lakes of East Prussia
or the hills where Jinks and Blinks had been campaigning
all winter, but slippery enough for a stout man whose
nation has neglected his training. As Jinks waved his
stick in the air to illustrate the glory of a bayonet
charge, he slipped and fell sideways on the stone steps.
His shin bone smacked against the edge of the stone in
a way that was pretty well up to the old Viking standard
of such things. Blinks with the shock of the collision
fell also,--backwards on the top step, his head striking
first. He lay, to all appearance, as dead as the most
insignificant casualty in Servia.
I watched the waiters carrying them into the club, with
that new field ambulance attitude towards pain which is
getting so popular. They had evidently acquired precisely
the old pagan attitude that Blinks and Jinks desired.
And the evening after that I saw Blinks and Jinks, both
more or less bandaged, sitting in a corner of the club
beneath a rubber tree, making peace.
Jinks was moving out of Montenegro and Blinks was foregoing
all claims to Polish Prussia; Jinks was offering
Alsace-Lorraine to Blinks, and Blinks in a fit of chivalrous
enthusiasm was refusing to take it. They were disbanding
troops, blowing up fortresses, sinking their warships
and offering indemnities which they both refused to take.
Then as they talked, Jinks leaned forward and said
something to Blinks in a low voice,--a final proposal of
Blinks nodded, and Jinks turned and beckoned to a waiter,
with the words,--
"One Scotch whiskey and soda, and one stein of Wurtemburger
And when I heard this, I knew that the war was over.
8.--The Ground Floor
I hadn't seen Ellesworth since our college days, twenty
years before, at the time when he used to borrow two
dollars and a half from the professor of Public Finance
to tide him over the week end.
Then quite suddenly he turned up at the club one day and
had afternoon tea with me.
His big clean shaven face had lost nothing of its
impressiveness, and his spectacles had the same glittering
magnetism as in the days when he used to get the college
bursar to accept his note of hand for his fees.
And he was still talking European politics just as he
used to in the days of our earlier acquaintance.
"Mark my words," he said across the little tea-table,
with one of the most piercing glances I have ever seen,
"the whole Balkan situation was only a beginning. We are
on the eve of a great pan-Slavonic upheaval." And then
he added, in a very quiet, casual tone: "By the way,
could you let me have twenty-five dollars till to-morrow?"
"A pan-Slavonic movement!" I ejaculated. "Do you really
think it possible? No, I couldn't."
"You must remember," Ellesworth went on, "Russia means
to reach out and take all she can get;" and he added,
"how about fifteen till Friday?"
"She may reach for it," I said, "but I doubt if she'll
get anything. I'm sorry. I haven't got it."
"You're forgetting the Bulgarian element," he continued,
his animation just as eager as before. "The Slavs never
forget what they owe to one another."
Here Ellesworth drank a sip of tea and then said quietly,
"Could you make it ten till Saturday at twelve?"
I looked at him more closely. I noticed now his frayed
cuffs and the dinginess of his over-brushed clothes. Not
even the magnetism of his spectacles could conceal it.
Perhaps I had been forgetting something, whether the
Bulgarian element or not.
I compromised at ten dollars till Saturday.
"The Slav," said Ellesworth, as he pocketed the money,
"is peculiar. He never forgets."
"What are you doing now?" I asked him. "Are you still
in insurance?" I had a vague recollection of him as
employed in that business.
"No," he answered. "I gave it up. I didn't like the
outlook. It was too narrow. The atmosphere cramped me.
I want," he said, "a bigger horizon."
"Quite so," I answered quietly. I had known men before
who had lost their jobs. It is generally the cramping of
the atmosphere that does it. Some of them can use up a
tremendous lot of horizon.
"At present," Ellesworth went on, "I am in finance. I'm
"Oh, yes," I said. I had seen companies promoted before.
"Just now," continued Ellesworth, "I'm working on a thing
that I think will be rather a big thing. I shouldn't want
it talked about outside, but it's a matter of taking hold
of the cod fisheries of the Grand Banks,--practically
amalgamating them--and perhaps combining with them the
entire herring output, and the whole of the sardine catch
of the Mediterranean. If it goes through," he added, "I
shall be in a position to let you in on the ground floor."
I knew the ground floor of old. I have already many
friends sitting on it; and others who have fallen through
it into the basement.
I said, "thank you," and he left me.
"That was Ellesworth, wasn't it?" said a friend of mine
who was near me. "Poor devil. I knew him slightly,--always
full of some new and wild idea of making money. He was
talking to me the other day of the possibility of cornering
all the huckleberry crop and making refined sugar. Isn't
it amazing what fool ideas fellows like him are always
putting up to business men?"
We both laughed.
After that I didn't see Ellesworth for some weeks.
Then I met him in the club again. How he paid his fees
there I do not know.
This time he was seated among a litter of foreign newspapers
with a cup of tea and a ten-cent package of cigarettes
"Have one of these cigarettes," he said. "I get them
specially. They are milder than what we have in the club
They certainly were.
"Note what I say," Ellesworth went on. "The French
Republic is going to gain from now on a stability that
it never had." He seemed greatly excited about it. But
his voice changed to a quiet tone as he added, "Could
you, without inconvenience, let me have five dollars?"
So I knew that the cod-fish and the sardines were still
"What about the fisheries thing?" I asked. "Did it go
"The fisheries? No, I gave it up. I refused to go forward
with it. The New York people concerned were too shy, too
timid to tackle it. I finally had to put it to them very
straight that they must either stop shilly-shallying and
declare themselves, or the whole business was off."
"Did they declare themselves?" I questioned.
"They did," said Ellesworth, "but I don't regret it. I'm
working now on a much bigger thing,--something with
greater possibilities in it. When the right moment comes
I'll let you in on the ground floor."
I thanked him and we parted.
The next time I saw Ellesworth he told me at once that
he regarded Albania as unable to stand by itself. So I
gave him five dollars on the spot and left him.
A few days after that he called me up on the telephone
to tell me that the whole of Asia Minor would have to be
redistributed. The redistribution cost me five dollars
Then I met him on the street, and he said that Persia
was disintegrating, and took from me a dollar and a half.
When I passed him next in the street he was very busy
amalgamating Chinese tramways. It appeared that there
was a ground floor in China, but I kept off it.
Each time I saw Ellesworth he looked a little shabbier
than the last. Then one day he called me up on the
telephone, and made an appointment.
His manner when I joined him was full of importance.
"I want you at once," he said in a commanding tone, "to
write me your cheque for a hundred dollars."
"What's the matter?" I asked.
"I am now able," said Ellesworth, "to put you in on the
ground floor of one of the biggest things in years."
"Thanks," I said, "the ground floor is no place for me."
"Don't misunderstand me," said Ellesworth. "This is a
big thing. It's an idea I've been working on for some
time,--making refined sugar from the huckleberry crop.
It's a certainty. I can get you shares now at five
dollars. They'll go to five hundred when we put them on
the market,--and I can run you in for a block of stock
for promotion services as well. All you have to do is
to give me right now a hundred dollars,--cash or your
cheque,--and I can arrange the whole thing for you."
"My dear Ellesworth," I said, "I hope you won't mind if
I give you a little bit of good advice. Why not drop all
this idea of quick money? There's nothing in it. The
business world has grown too shrewd for it. Take an
ordinary decent job and stick to it. Let me use my
influence," I added, "to try and get you into something
with a steady salary, and with your brains you're bound
to get on in time."
Ellesworth looked pained. A "steady job" sounded to him
like a "ground floor" to me.
After that I saw nothing of him for weeks. But I didn't
forget him. I looked about and secured for him a job as
a canvassing agent for a book firm at a salary of five
dollars a week, and a commission of one-tenth of one per
I was waiting to tell him of his good luck, when I chanced
to see him at the club again.
But he looked transformed.
He had on a long frock coat that reached nearly to his
knees. He was leading a little procession of very heavy
men in morning coats, upstairs towards the private luncheon
rooms. They moved like a funeral, puffing as they went.
I had seen company directors before and I knew what they
were at sight.
"It's a small club and rather inconvenient," Ellesworth
was saying, "and the horizon of some of its members rather
narrow," here he nodded to me as he passed,--"but I can
give you a fairly decent lunch."
I watched them as they disappeared upstairs.
"That's Ellesworth, isn't it?" said a man near me. It
was the same man who had asked about him before.
"Yes," I answered.
"Giving a lunch to his directors, I suppose," said my
friend; "lucky dog."
"His directors?" I asked.
"Yes, hadn't you heard? He's just cleaned up half a
million or more,--some new scheme for making refined
sugar out of huckleberries. Isn't it amazing what shrewd
ideas these big business men get hold of? They say they're
unloading the stock at five hundred dollars. It only cost
them about five to organize. If only one could get on to
one of these things early enough, eh?"
I assented sadly.
And the next time I am offered a chance on the ground
floor I am going to take it, even if it's only the barley
floor of a brewery.
It appears that there is such a place after all.
9.--The Hallucination of Mr. Butt
It is the hallucination of Mr. Butt's life that he lives
to do good. At whatever cost of time or trouble to himself,
he does it. Whether people appear to desire it or not,
he insists on helping them along.
His time, his company and his advice are at the service
not only of those who seek them but of those who, in the
mere appearances of things, are not asking for them.
You may see the beaming face of Mr. Butt appear at the
door of all those of his friends who are stricken with
the minor troubles of life. Whenever Mr. Butt learns that
any of his friends are moving house, buying furniture,
selling furniture, looking for a maid, dismissing a maid,
seeking a chauffeur, suing a plumber or buying a piano,--he
is at their side in a moment.
So when I met him one night in the cloak room of the club
putting on his raincoat and his galoshes with a peculiar
beaming look on his face, I knew that he was up to some
sort of benevolence.
"Come upstairs," I said, "and play billiards." I saw from
his general appearance that it was a perfectly safe offer.
"My dear fellow," said Mr. Butt, "I only wish I could.
I wish I had the time. I am sure it would cheer you up
immensely if I could. But I'm just going out."
"Where are you off to?" I asked, for I knew he wanted me
to say it.
"I'm going out to see the Everleigh-Joneses,--you know
them? no?--just come to the city, you know, moving into
their new house, out on Seldom Avenue."
"But," I said, "that's away out in the suburbs, is it
not, a mile or so beyond the car tracks?"
"Something like that," answered Mr. Butt.
"And it's going on for ten o'clock and it's starting to
"Pooh, pooh," said Mr. Butt, cheerfully, adjusting his
galoshes. "I never mind the rain,--does one good. As to
their house. I've not been there yet but I can easily
find it. I've a very simple system for finding a house
at night by merely knocking at the doors in the neighborhood
till I get it."
"Isn't it rather late to go there?" I protested.
"My dear fellow," said Mr. Butt warmly, "I don't mind
that a bit. The way I look at it is, here are these two
young people, only married a few weeks, just moving into
their new house, everything probably upside down, no one
there but themselves, no one to cheer them up,"--he was
wriggling into his raincoat as he spoke and working
himself into a frenzy of benevolence,--"good gracious,
I only learned at dinner time that they had come to town,
or I'd have been out there days ago,--days ago--"
And with that Mr. Butt went bursting forth into the rain,
his face shining with good will under the street lamps.
The next day I saw him again at the club at lunch time.
"Well," I asked, "did you find the Joneses?"
"I did," said Mr. Butt, "and by George I was glad that
I'd gone--quite a lot of trouble to find the house (though
I didn't mind that; I expected it)--had to knock at twenty
houses at least to get it,--very dark and wet out there,
--no street lights yet,--however I simply pounded at the
doors until some one showed a light--at every house I
called out the same things, 'Do you know where the
Everleigh Joneses live?' They didn't. 'All right,' I
said, 'go back to bed. Don't bother to come down.'
"But I got to the right spot at last. I found the house
all dark. Jones put his head out of an upper window.
'Hullo,' I called out; 'it's Butt.' 'I'm awfully sorry,'
he said, 'we've gone to bed.' 'My dear boy,' I called
back, 'don't apologize at all. Throw me down the key and
I'll wait while you dress. I don't mind a bit.'
"Just think of it," continued Mr. Butt, "those two poor
souls going to bed at half past ten, through sheer
dullness! By George, I was glad I'd come. 'Now then,' I
said to myself, 'let's cheer them up a little, let's make
things a little brighter here.'
"Well, down they came and we sat there on furniture cases
and things and had a chat. Mrs. Jones wanted to make me
some coffee. 'My dear girl,' I said (I knew them both
when they were children) 'I absolutely refuse. Let ME
make it.' They protested. I insisted. I went at it,--kitchen
all upset--had to open at least twenty tins to get the
coffee. However, I made it at last. 'Now,' I said, 'drink
it.' They said they had some an hour or so ago. 'Nonsense,'
I said, 'drink it.' Well, we sat and chatted away till
midnight. They were dull at first and I had to do all
the talking. But I set myself to it. I can talk, you
know, when I try. Presently about midnight they seemed
to brighten up a little. Jones looked at his watch. 'By
Jove,' he said, in an animated way, 'it's after midnight.'
I think he was pleased at the way the evening was going;
after that we chatted away more comfortably. Every little
while Jones would say, 'By Jove, it's half past twelve,'
or 'it's one o'clock,' and so on.
"I took care, of course, not to stay too late. But when
I left them I promised that I'd come back to-day to help
straighten things up. They protested, but I insisted."
That same day Mr. Butt went out to the suburbs and put
the Joneses' furniture to rights.
"I worked all afternoon," he told me afterwards,--"hard
at it with my coat off--got the pictures up first--they'd
been trying to put them up by themselves in the morning.
I had to take down every one of them--not a single one
right,--'Down they come,' I said, and went at it with a
A few days later Mr. Butt gave me a further report. "Yes,"
he said, "the furniture is all unpacked and straightened
out but I don't like it. There's a lot of it I don't
quite like. I half feel like advising Jones to sell it
and get some more. But I don't want to do that till I'm
quite certain about it."
After that Mr. Butt seemed much occupied and I didn't
see him at the club for some time.
"How about the Everleigh-Joneses?" I asked. "Are they
comfortable in their new house?"
Mr. Butt shook his head. "It won't do," he said. "I was
afraid of it from the first. I'm moving Jones in nearer
to town. I've been out all morning looking for an apartment;
when I get the right one I shall move him. I like an
apartment far better than a house."
So the Joneses in due course of time were moved. After
that Mr. Butt was very busy selecting a piano, and advising
them on wall paper and woodwork.
They were hardly settled in their new home when fresh
trouble came to them.
"Have you heard about Everleigh-Jones?" said Mr. Butt
one day with an anxious face.
"No," I answered.
"He's ill--some sort of fever--poor chap--been ill three
days, and they never told me or sent for me--just like
their grit--meant to fight it out alone. I'm going out
there at once."
From day to day I had reports from Mr. Butt of the
progress of Jones's illness.
"I sit with him every day," he said. "Poor chap,--he was
very bad yesterday for a while,--mind wandered--quite
delirious--I could hear him from the next room--seemed
to think some one was hunting him--'Is that damn old fool
gone,' I heard him say.
"I went in and soothed him. 'There is no one here, my
dear boy,' I said, 'no one, only Butt.' He turned over
and groaned. Mrs. Jones begged me to leave him. 'You
look quite used up,' she said. 'Go out into the open
air.' 'My dear Mrs. Jones,' I said, 'what DOES it matter
Eventually, thanks no doubt to Mr. Butt's assiduous care,
Everleigh-Jones got well.
"Yes," said Mr. Butt to me a few weeks later, "Jones is
all right again now, but his illness has been a long hard
pull. I haven't had an evening to myself since it began.
But I'm paid, sir, now, more than paid for anything I've
done,--the gratitude of those two people--it's unbelievable
--you ought to see it. Why do you know that dear little
woman is so worried for fear that my strength has been
overtaxed that she wants me to take a complete rest and
go on a long trip somewhere--suggested first that I should
go south. 'My dear Mrs. Jones,' I said laughing, 'that's
the ONE place I will not go. Heat is the one thing I
CAN'T stand.' She wasn't nonplussed for a moment. 'Then
go north,' she said. 'Go up to Canada, or better still
go to Labrador,'--and in a minute that kind little woman
was hunting up railway maps to see how far north I could
get by rail. 'After that,' she said, 'you can go on
snowshoes.' She's found that there's a steamer to Ungava
every spring and she wants me to run up there on one
steamer and come back on the next."
"It must be very gratifying," I said.
"Oh, it is, it is," said Mr. Butt warmly. "It's well
worth anything I do. It more than repays me. I'm alone
in the world and my friends are all I have. I can't tell
you how it goes to my heart when I think of all my friends,
here in the club and in the town, always glad to see me,
always protesting against my little kindnesses and yet
never quite satisfied about anything unless they can get
my advice and hear what I have to say.
"Take Jones for instance," he continued--"do you know,
really now as a fact,--the hall porter assures me of
it,--every time Everleigh-Jones enters the club here
the first thing he does is to sing out, 'Is Mr. Butt in
the club?' It warms me to think of it." Mr. Butt paused,
one would have said there were tears in his eyes. But if
so the kindly beam of his spectacles shone through them
like the sun through April rain. He left me and passed
into the cloak room.
He had just left the hall when a stranger entered, a
narrow, meek man with a hunted face. He came in with a
furtive step and looked about him apprehensively.
"Is Mr. Butt in the club?" he whispered to the hall
"Yes, sir, he's just gone into the cloak room, sir, shall
But the man had turned and made a dive for the front door
and had vanished.
"Who is that?" I asked.
"That's a new member, sir, Mr. Everleigh-Jones," said
the hall porter.
IV-Ram Spudd The New World Singer. Is He Divinely Inspired?
Or Is He Not? At Any Rate We Discovered Him.
[Footnote: Mr. Spudd was discovered by the author for
the New York Life. He is already recognized as superior
to Tennyson and second only, as a writer of imagination,
to the Sultan of Turkey.]
The discovery of a new poet is always a joy to the
cultivated world. It is therefore with the greatest
pleasure that we are able to announce that we ourselves,
acting quite independently and without aid from any of
the English reviews of the day, have discovered one. In
the person of Mr. Ram Spudd, of whose work we give
specimens below, we feel that we reveal to our readers
a genius of the first order. Unlike one of the most
recently discovered English poets who is a Bengalee, and
another who is a full-blooded Yak, Mr. Spudd is, we
believe, a Navajo Indian. We believe this from the
character of his verse. Mr. Spudd himself we have not
seen. But when he forwarded his poems to our office and
offered with characteristic modesty to sell us his entire
works for seventy-five cents, we felt in closing with
his offer that we were dealing not only with a poet, but
with one of nature's gentlemen.
Mr. Spudd, we understand, has had no education. Other
newly discovered poets have had, apparently, some. Mr.
Spudd has had, evidently, none. We lay stress on this
point. Without it we claim it is impossible to understand
What we particularly like about Ram Spudd, and we do not
say this because we discovered him but because we believe
it and must say it, is that he belongs not to one school
but to all of them. As a nature poet we doubt very much
if he has his equal; as a psychologist, we are sure he
has not. As a clear lucid thinker he is undoubtedly in
the first rank; while as a mystic he is a long way in
front of it. The specimens of Mr. Spudd's verse which we
append herewith were selected, we are happy to assure
our readers, purely at random from his work. We first
blindfolded ourselves and then, standing with our feet
in warm water and having one hand tied behind our back,
we groped among the papers on our desk before us and
selected for our purpose whatever specimens first came
As we have said, or did we say it, it is perhaps as a
nature poet that Ram Spudd excels. Others of our modern
school have carried the observation of natural objects
to a high degree of very nice precision, but with Mr.
Spudd the observation of nature becomes an almost scientific
process. Nothing escapes him. The green of the grass he
detects as in an instant. The sky is no sooner blue than
he remarks it with unerring certainty. Every bird note,
every bee call, is familiar to his trained ear. Perhaps
we cannot do better than quote the opening lines of a
singularly beautiful sample of Ram Spudd's genius which
seems to us the last word in nature poetry. It is called,
with characteristic daintiness--
SPRING THAW IN THE
AHUNTSIC WOODS, NEAR PASPEBIAC,
(We would like to say that, to our ears at least, there
is a music in this title like the sound of falling water,
or of chopped ice. But we must not interrupt ourselves.
We now begin. Listen.)
The thermometer is standing this morning at thirty-
three decimal one.
As a consequence it is freezing in the shade, but
it is thawing in the sun.
There is a certain amount of snow on the ground,
but of course not too much.
The air is what you would call humid, but not
disagreeable to the touch.
Where I am standing I find myself practically
surrounded by trees,
It is simply astonishing the number of the different
varieties one sees.
I've grown so wise I can tell each different tree
by seeing it glisten,
But if that test fails I simply put my ear to the
tree and listen,
And, well, I suppose it is only a silly fancy of
But do you know I'm getting to tell different trees
by the sound of their saps.
After I have noticed all the trees, and named those
I know in words,
I stand quite still and look all round to see if
there are any birds,
And yesterday, close where I was standing, sitting
in some brush on the snow,
I saw what I was practically absolutely certain was
an early crow.
I sneaked up ever so close and was nearly beside
it, when say!
It turned and took one look at me, and flew away.
But we should not wish our readers to think that Ram
Spudd is always and only the contemplative poet of the
softer aspects of nature. Oh, by no means. There are
times when waves of passion sweep over him in such
prodigious volume as to roll him to and fro like a pebble
in the surf. Gusts of emotion blow over him with such
violence as to hurl him pro and con with inconceivable
fury. In such moods, if it were not for the relief offered
by writing verse we really do not know what would happen
to him. His verse written under the impulse of such
emotions marks him as one of the greatest masters of
passion, wild and yet restrained, objectionable and yet
printable, that have appeared on this side of the Atlantic.
We append herewith a portion, or half portion, of his
little gem entitled
With your warm, full, rich, red, ripe lips,
And your beautifully manicured finger-tips!
With your heaving, panting, rapidly expanding and
Lying against my perfectly ordinary shirt-front and
It is too much
Can you not understand?
Last night an ostrich feather from your fragrant hair
I guard it
From your tiara I have slid,
A single diamond,
And I keep it
Last night you left inside the vestibule upon the sill
A quarter dollar,
And I have it
But even those who know Ram Spudd as the poet of nature
or of passion still only know a part of his genius. Some
of his highest flights rise from an entirely different
inspiration, and deal with the public affairs of the
nation. They are in every sense comparable to the best
work of the poets laureate of England dealing with similar
themes. As soon as we had seen Ram Spudd's work of this
kind, we cried, that is we said to our stenographer,
"What a pity that in this republic we have no laureateship.
Here is a man who might truly fill it." Of the poem of
this kind we should wish to quote, if our limits of space
did not prevent it, Mr. Spudd's exquisite
ODE ON THE REDUCTION OF THE
UNITED STATES TARIFF
It is a matter of the very gravest concern to at least
nine-tenths of the business interests in the
Whether an all-round reduction of the present tariff
either on an ad valorem or a specific basis
Could be effected without a serious disturbance of the
general industrial situation of the country.
But, no, we must not quote any more. No we really mustn't.
Yet we cannot refrain from inserting a reference to the
latest of these laureate poems of Ram Spudd. It appears
to us to be a matchless specimen of its class, and to
settle once and for all the vexed question (though we
ourselves never vexed it) of whether true poetry can deal
with national occasions as they arise. It is entitled:
THE BANKER'S EUTHANASIA: OR,
THE FEDERAL RESERVE CURRENCY
ACT OF 1914,
and, though we do not propose to reproduce it here, our
distinct feeling is that it will take its rank beside
Mr. Spudd's Elegy on the Interstate Commerce Act, and
his Thoughts on the Proposal of a Uniform Pure Food Law.
But our space does not allow us to present Ram Spudd in
what is after all his greatest aspect, that of a profound
psychologist, a questioner of the very meaning of life
itself. His poem Death and Gloom, from which we must
refrain from quoting at large, contains such striking
passages as the following:
Why do I breathe, or do I?
What am I for, and whither do I go?
What skills it if I live, and if I die,
What boots it?
Any one knowing Ram Spudd as we do will realize that
these questions, especially the last, are practically
V.--Aristocratic Anecdotes or Little Stories of Great
I have been much struck lately by the many excellent
little anecdotes of celebrated people that have appeared
in recent memoirs and found their way thence into the
columns of the daily press. There is something about them
so deliciously pointed, their humour is so exquisite,
that I think we ought to have more of them. To this end
I am trying to circulate on my own account a few anecdotes
which seem somehow to have been overlooked.
Here, for example, is an excellent thing which comes, if
I remember rightly, from the vivacious Memoir of Lady
Ranelagh de Chit Chat.
ANECDOTE OF THE DUKE OF STRATHYTHAN
Lady Ranelagh writes:
"The Duke of Strathythan (I am writing of course of the
seventeenth Duke, not of his present Grace) was, as
everybody knows, famous for his hospitality. It was not
perhaps generally known that the Duke was as witty as he
was hospitable. I recall a most amusing incident that
happened the last time but two that I was staying at
Strathythan Towers. As we sat down to lunch (we were a
very small and intimate party, there being only forty-three
of us) the Duke, who was at the head of the table, looked
up from the roast of beef that he was carving, and running
his eye about the guests was heard to murmur, 'I'm afraid
there isn't enough beef to go round.'
"There was nothing to do, of course, but to roar with
laughter and the incident passed off with perfect savoir
Here is another story which I think has not had all the
publicity that it ought to. I found it in the book "Shot,
Shell and Shrapnell or Sixty Years as a War Correspondent,"
recently written by Mr. Maxim Catling whose exploits are
familiar to all readers.
ANECDOTE OF LORD KITCHENER
"I was standing," writes Mr. Maxim, "immediately between
Lord Kitchener and Lord Wolsley (with Lord Roberts a
little to the rear of us), and we were laughing and
chatting as we always did when the enemy were about to
open fire on us. Suddenly we found ourselves the object
of the most terrific hail of bullets. For a few moments
the air was black with them. As they went past I could
not refrain from exchanging a quiet smile with Lord
Kitchener, and another with Lord Wolsley. Indeed I have
never, except perhaps on twenty or thirty occasions,
found myself exposed to such an awful fusillade.
"Kitchener, who habitually uses an eye-glass (among his
friends), watched the bullets go singing by, and then,
with that inimitable sangfroid which he reserves for his
"'I'm afraid if we stay here we may get hit.'
"We all moved away laughing heartily.
"To add to the joke, Lord Roberts' aide-de-camp was shot
in the pit of the stomach as we went."
The next anecdote which I reproduce may be already too
well known to my readers. The career of Baron Snorch
filled so large a page in the history of European diplomacy
that the publication of his recent memoirs was awaited
with profound interest by half the chancelleries of
Europe. (Even the other half were half excited over them.)
The tangled skein in which the politics of Europe are
enveloped was perhaps never better illustrated than in
this fascinating volume. Even at the risk of repeating
what is already familiar, I offer the following for what
it is worth--or even less.
NEW LIGHT ON THE LIFE OF CAVOUR
"I have always regarded Count Cavour," writes the Baron,
"as one of the most impenetrable diplomatists whom it
has been my lot to meet. I distinctly recall an incident
in connection with the famous Congress of Paris of 1856
which rises before my mind as vividly as if it were
yesterday. I was seated in one of the large salons of
the Elysee Palace (I often used to sit there) playing
vingt-et-un together with Count Cavour, the Duc de Magenta,
the Marquese di Casa Mombasa, the Conte di Piccolo Pochito
and others whose names I do not recollect. The stakes
had been, as usual, very high, and there was a large pile
of gold on the table. No one of us, however, paid any
attention to it, so absorbed were we all in the thought
of the momentous crises that were impending. At intervals
the Emperor Napoleon III passed in and out of the room,
and paused to say a word or two, with well-feigned
eloignement, to the players, who replied with such
degagement as they could.
"While the play was at its height a servant appeared with
a telegram on a silver tray. He handed it to Count Cavour.
The Count paused in his play, opened the telegram, read
it and then with the most inconceivable nonchalance, put
it in his pocket. We stared at him in amazement for a
moment, and then the Duc, with the infinite ease of a
trained diplomat, quietly resumed his play.
"Two days afterward, meeting Count Cavour at a reception
of the Empress Eugenie, I was able, unobserved, to whisper
in his ear, 'What was in the telegram?' 'Nothing of any
consequence,' he answered. From that day to this I have
never known what it contained. My readers," concludes
Baron Snorch, "may believe this or not as they like, but
I give them my word that it is true.
"Probably they will not believe it."
I cannot resist appending to these anecdotes a charming
little story from that well-known book, "Sorrows of a
Queen". The writer, Lady de Weary, was an English
gentlewoman who was for many years Mistress of the Robes
at one of the best known German courts. Her affection
for her royal mistress is evident on every page of her
TENDERNESS OF A QUEEN
Lady de W. writes:
"My dear mistress, the late Queen of Saxe-Covia-Slitz-
in-Mein, was of a most tender and sympathetic disposition.
The goodness of her heart broke forth on all occasions.
I well remember how one day, on seeing a cabman in the
Poodel Platz kicking his horse in the stomach, she stopped
in her walk and said, 'Oh, poor horse! if he goes on
kicking it like that he'll hurt it.'"
I may say in conclusion that I think if people would only
take a little more pains to resuscitate anecdotes of this
sort, there might be a lot more of them found.
VI.--Education Made Agreeable or the Diversions of a
A few days ago during a pause in one of my college lectures
(my class being asleep) I sat reading Draper's "Intellectual
Development of Europe". Quite suddenly I came upon the
"Eratosthenes cast everything he wished to teach into
poetry. By this means he made it attractive, and he was
able to spread his system all over Asia Minor."
This came to me with a shock of an intellectual discovery.
I saw at once how I could spread my system, or parts of
it, all over the United States and Canada. To make
education attractive! There it is! To call in the help
of poetry, of music, of grand opera, if need be, to aid
in the teaching of the dry subjects of the college class
I set to work at once on the project and already I have
enough results to revolutionize education.
In the first place I have compounded a blend of modern
poetry and mathematics, which retains all the romance of
the latter and loses none of the dry accuracy of the
former. Here is an example:
The poem of
LORD ULLIN'S DAUGHTER
A PROBLEM IN TRIGONOMETRY
INTRODUCTION. A party of three persons, a Scotch nobleman,
a young lady and an elderly boatman stand on the banks
of a river (R), which, for private reasons, they desire
to cross. Their only means of transport is a boat, of
which the boatman, if squared, is able to row at a rate
proportional to the square of the distance. The boat,
however, has a leak (S), through which a quantity of
water passes sufficient to sink it after traversing an
indeterminate distance (D). Given the square of the
boatman and the mean situation of all concerned, to find
whether the boat will pass the river safely or sink.
A chieftain to the Highlands bound
Cried "Boatman do not tarry!
And I'll give you a silver pound
To row me o'er the ferry."
Before them raged the angry tide
X**2 + Y from side to side.
Outspake the hardy Highland wight,
"I'll go, my chief, I'm ready;
It is not for your silver bright,
But for your winsome lady."
And yet he seemed to manifest
A certain hesitation;
His head was sunk upon his breast
In puzzled calculation.
"Suppose the river X + Y
And call the distance Q
Then dare we thus the gods defy
I think we dare, don't you?
Our floating power expressed in words
Is X + 47/3"
"Oh, haste thee, haste," the lady cries,
"Though tempests round us gather
I'll face the raging of the skies
But please cut out the Algebra."
The boat has left the stormy shore (S)
A stormy C before her
C1 C2 C3 C4
The tempest gathers o'er her
The thunder rolls, the lightning smites 'em
And the rain falls ad infinitum.
In vain the aged boatman strains,
His heaving sides reveal his pains;
The angry water gains apace
Both of his sides and half his base,
Till, as he sits, he seems to lose
The square of his hypotenuse.
The boat advanced to X + 2,
Lord Ullin reached the fixed point Q,--
Then the boat sank from human eye,
OY, OY**2, OGY.
But this is only a sample of what can be done. I have
realised that all our technical books are written and
presented in too dry a fashion. They don't make the most
of themselves. Very often the situation implied is
intensely sensational, and if set out after the fashion
of an up-to-date newspaper, would be wonderfully effective.
Here, for example, you have Euclid writing in a perfectly
prosaic way all in small type such an item as the following:
"A perpendicular is let fall on a line BC so as to bisect
it at the point C etc., etc.," just as if it were the
most ordinary occurrence in the world. Every newspaper
man will see at once that it ought to be set up thus:
PERPENDICULAR FALLS HEADLONG
ON A GIVEN POINT
The Line at C said to be completely bisected
President of the Line makes Statement
etc., etc., etc.
But I am not contenting myself with merely describing my
system. I am putting it to the test. I am preparing a
new and very special edition of my friend Professor Daniel
Murray's work on the Calculus. This is a book little
known to the general public. I suppose one may say without
exaggeration that outside of the class room it is hardly
read at all.
Yet I venture to say that when my new edition is out it
will be found on the tables of every cultivated home,
and will be among the best sellers of the year. All that
is needed is to give to this really monumental book the
same chance that is given to every other work of fiction
in the modern market.
First of all I wrap it in what is called technically a
jacket. This is of white enamelled paper, and on it is
a picture of a girl, a very pretty girl, in a summer
dress and sunbonnet sitting swinging on a bough of a
cherry tree. Across the cover in big black letters are
and beneath them the legend "the most daring book of the
day." This, you will observe, is perfectly true. The
reviewers of the mathematical journals when this book
first came out agreed that "Professor Murray's views on
the Calculus were the most daring yet published." They
said, too, that they hoped that the professor's unsound
theories of infinitesimal rectitude would not remain
unchallenged. Yet the public somehow missed it all, and
one of the most profitable scandals in the publishing
trade was missed for the lack of a little business
My new edition will give this book its first real chance.
I admit that the inside has to be altered,--but not very
much. The real basis of interest is there. The theories
in the book are just as interesting as those raised in
the modern novel. All that is needed is to adopt the
device, familiar in novels, of clothing the theories in
personal form and putting the propositions advanced into
the mouths of the characters, instead of leaving them as
unsupported statements of the author. Take for example
Dr. Murray's beginning. It is very good,--any one will
admit it,--fascinatingly clever, but it lacks heart.
If two magnitudes, one of which is determined by a straight
line and the other by a parabola approach one another,
the rectangle included by the revolution of each will be
equal to the sum of a series of indeterminate rectangles.
Now this is,--quite frankly,--dull. The situation is
there; the idea is good, and, whether one agrees or not,
is at least as brilliantly original as even the best of
our recent novels. But I find it necessary to alter the
presentation of the plot a little bit. As I re-edit it
the opening of the Calculus runs thus:
On a bright morning in June along a path gay with the
opening efflorescence of the hibiscus and entangled here
and there with the wild blossoms of the convolvulus,--two
magnitudes might have been seen approaching one another.
The one magnitude who held a tennis-racket in his hand,
carried himself with a beautiful erectness and moved
with a firmness such as would have led Professor Murray
to exclaim in despair--Let it be granted that A. B.
(for such was our hero's name) is a straight line. The
other magnitude, which drew near with a step at once
elusive and fascinating, revealed as she walked a figure
so exquisite in its every curve as to call from her
geometrical acquaintances the ecstatic exclamation, "Let
it be granted that M is a parabola."
The beautiful magnitude of whom we have last spoken,
bore on her arm as she walked, a tiny dog over which
her fair head was bent in endearing caresses; indeed
such was her attention to the dog Vi (his full name was
Velocity but he was called Vi for short) that her wayward
footsteps carried her not in a straight line but in a
direction so constantly changing as to lead that acute
observer, Professor Murray, to the conclusion that her
path could only be described by the amount of attraction
ascribable to Vi.
Guided thus along their respective paths, the two
magnitudes presently met with such suddenness that they
"I beg your pardon," said the first magnitude very
"You ought to indeed," said the second rather sulkily,
"you've knocked Vi right out of my arms."
She looked round despairingly for the little dog which
seemed to have disappeared in the long grass.
"Won't you please pick him up?" she pleaded.
"Not exactly in my line, you know," answered the other
magnitude, "but I tell you what I'll do, if you'll stand
still, perfectly still where you are, and let me take
hold of your hand, I'll describe a circle!"
"Oh, aren't you clever!" cried the girl, clapping her
hands. "What a lovely idea! You describe a circle all
around me, and then we'll look at every weeny bit of it
and we'll be sure to find Vi--"
She reached out her hand to the other magnitude who
clasped it with an assumed intensity sufficient to retain
At this moment a third magnitude broke on the scene:--a
huge oblong, angular figure, very difficult to describe,
came revolving towards them.
"M," it shouted, "Emily, what are you doing?"
"My goodness," said the second magnitude in alarm, "it's
I may say that the second instalment of Dr. Murray's
fascinating romance will appear in the next number of
the "Illuminated Bookworm", the great adult-juvenile
vehicle of the newer thought in which these theories of
education are expounded further.
VII.--An Every-Day Experience
He came across to me in the semi-silence room of the
"I had a rather queer hand at bridge last night," he
"Had you?" I answered, and picked up a newspaper.
"Yes. It would have interested you, I think," he went
"Would it?" I said, and moved to another chair.
"It was like this," he continued, following me: "I held
the king of hearts--"
"Half a minute," I said; "I want to go and see what time
it is." I went out and looked at the clock in the hall.
I came back.
"And the queen and the ten--" he was saying.
"Excuse me just a second; I want to ring for a messenger."
I did so. The waiter came and went.
"And the nine and two small ones," he went on.
"Two small what?" I asked.
"Two small hearts," he said. "I don't remember which.
Anyway, I remember very well indeed that I had the king
and the queen and the jack, the nine, and two little
"Half a second," I said, "I want to mail a letter."
When I came back to him, he was still murmuring:
"My partner held the ace of clubs and the queen. The jack
was out, but I didn't know where the king was--"
"You didn't?" I said in contempt.
"No," he repeated in surprise, and went on murmuring:
"Diamonds had gone round once, and spades twice, and so
I suspected that my partner was leading from weakness--"
"I can well believe it," I said--"sheer weakness."
"Well," he said, "on the sixth round the lead came to
me. Now, what should I have done? Finessed for the ace,
or led straight into my opponent--"
"You want my advice," I said, "and you shall have it,
openly and fairly. In such a case as you describe, where
a man has led out at me repeatedly and with provocation,
as I gather from what you say, though I myself do not
play bridge, I should lead my whole hand at him. I
repeat, I do not play bridge. But in the circumstances,
I should think it the only thing to do."
VIII--Truthful Oratory, or What Our Speakers
Ought to Say
TRUTHFUL SPEECH GIVING THE
REAL THOUGHTS OF A DISTINGUISHED
GUEST AT THE FIFTIETH
OF A SOCIETY
Mr. Chairman and gentlemen: If there is one thing I
abominate more than another, it is turning out on a cold
night like this to eat a huge dinner of twelve courses
and know that I have to make a speech on top of it.
Gentlemen, I just feel stuffed. That's the plain truth
of it. By the time we had finished that fish, I could
have gone home satisfied. Honestly I could. That's as
much as I usually eat. And by the time I had finished
the rest of the food, I felt simply waterlogged, and I
do still. More than that. The knowledge that I had to
make a speech congratulating this society of yours on
its fiftieth anniversary haunted and racked me all through
the meal. I am not, in plain truth, the ready and brilliant
speaker you take me for. That is a pure myth. If you
could see the desperate home scene that goes on in my
family when I am working up a speech, your minds would
be at rest on that point.
I'll go further and be very frank with you. How this
society has lived for fifty years, I don't know. If all
your dinners are like this, Heaven help you. I've only
the vaguest idea of what this society is, anyway, and
what it does. I tried to get a constitution this afternoon
but failed. I am sure from some of the faces that I
recognise around this table that there must be good
business reasons of some sort for belonging to this
society. There's money in it,--mark my words,--for some
of you or you wouldn't be here. Of course I quite understand
that the President and the officials seated here beside
me come merely for the self-importance of it. That,
gentlemen, is about their size. I realized that from
their talk during the banquet. I don't want to speak
bitterly, but the truth is they are SMALL men and it
flatters them to sit here with two or three blue ribbons
pinned on their coats. But as for me, I'm done with it.
It will be fifty years, please heaven, before this event
comes round again. I hope, I earnestly hope, that I shall
be safely under the ground.
THE SPEECH THAT OUGHT TO BE
MADE BY A STATE GOVERNOR
AFTER VISITING THE FALL
EXPOSITION OF AN AGRICULTURAL
Well, gentlemen, this Annual Fall Fair of the Skedink
County Agricultural Association has come round again. I
don't mind telling you straight out that of all the
disagreeable jobs that fall to me as Governor of this
State, my visit to your Fall Fair is about the toughest.
I want to tell you, gentlemen, right here and now, that
I don't know anything about agriculture and I don't want
to. My parents were rich enough to bring me up in the
city in a rational way. I didn't have to do chores in
order to go to the high school as some of those present
have boasted that they did. My only wonder is that they
ever got there at all. They show no traces of it.
This afternoon, gentlemen, you took me all round your
live-stock exhibit. I walked past, and through, nearly
a quarter of a mile of hogs. What was it that they were
called--Tamworths--Berkshires? I don't remember. But
all I can say, gentlemen, is,--phew! Just that. Some of
you will understand readily enough. That word sums up
my whole idea of your agricultural show and I'm done with
No, let me correct myself. There was just one feature of
your agricultural exposition that met my warm approval.
You were good enough to take me through the section of
your exposition called your Midway Pleasance. Let me tell
you, sirs, that there was more real merit in that than
all the rest of the show put together. You apologized,
if I remember rightly, for taking me into the large tent
of the Syrian Dancing Girls. Oh, believe me, gentlemen,
you needn't have. Syria is a country which commands my
profoundest admiration. Some day I mean to spend a
vacation there. And, believe me, gentlemen, when I do
go,--and I say this with all the emphasis of which I am
capable,--I should not wish to be accompanied by such a
set of flatheads as the officials of your Agricultural
And now, gentlemen, as I have just received a fake
telegram, by arrangement, calling me back to the capital
of the State, I must leave this banquet at once. One word
in conclusion: if I had known as fully as I do now how
it feels to drink half a bucket of sweet cider, I should
certainly never have come.
TRUTHFUL SPEECH OF A DISTRICT
POLITICIAN TO A LADIES' SUFFRAGE
Ladies: My own earnest, heartfelt conviction is that you
are a pack of cats. I use the word "cats" advisedly, and
I mean every letter of it. I want to go on record before
this gathering as being strongly and unalterably opposed
to Woman Suffrage until you get it. After that I favour
it. My reasons for opposing the suffrage are of a kind
that you couldn't understand. But all men,--except the
few that I see at this meeting,--understand them by
As you may, however, succeed as a result of the fuss that
you are making,--in getting votes, I have thought it best
to come. Also,--I am free to confess,--I wanted to see
what you looked like.
On this last head I am disappointed. Personally I like
women a good deal fatter than most of you are, and better
looking. As I look around this gathering I see one or
two of you that are not so bad, but on the whole not
many. But my own strong personal predilection is and
remains in favour of a woman who can cook, mend clothes,
talk when I want her to, and give me the kind of admiration
to which I am accustomed.
Let me, however, say in conclusion that I am altogether
in sympathy with your movement to this extent. If you
ever DO get votes,--and the indications are that you will
(blast you),--I want your votes, and I want all of them.
IX.-Our Literary Bureau
[Footnote: This literary bureau was started by the author
in the New York Century. It leaped into such immediate
prominence that it had to be closed at once.]
NOVELS READ TO ORDER
FIRST AID FOR THE
NO BRAINS NEEDED
NO TASTE REQUIRED
NOTHING BUT MONEY
SEND IT TO US
We have lately been struck,--of course not dangerously,--by
a new idea. A recent number of a well-known magazine
contains an account of an American multimillionaire who,
on account of the pressure of his brain power and the
rush of his business, found it impossible to read the
fiction of the day for himself. He therefore caused his
secretaries to look through any new and likely novel and
make a rapid report on its contents, indicating for his
personal perusal the specially interesting parts.
Realizing the possibilities coiled up in this plan, we
have opened a special agency or bureau for doing work of
this sort. Any over-busy multimillionaire, or superman,
who becomes our client may send us novels, essays, or
books of any kind, and will receive a report explaining
the plot and pointing out such parts as he may with
propriety read. If he can once find time to send us a
postcard, or a postal cablegram, night or day, we undertake
to assume all the further effort of reading. Our terms
for ordinary fiction are one dollar per chapter; for
works of travel, 10 cents per mile; and for political or
other essays, two cents per page, or ten dollars per
idea, and for theological and controversial work, seven
dollars and fifty cents per cubic yard extracted. Our
clients are assured of prompt and immediate attention.
Through the kindness of the Editor of the Century we are
enabled to insert here a sample of our work. It was done
to the order of a gentleman of means engaged in silver
mining in Colorado, who wrote us that he was anxious to
get "a holt" on modern fiction, but that he had no time
actually to read it. On our assuring him that this was
now unnecessary, he caused to be sent to us the monthly
parts of a serial story, on which we duly reported as
The Dip, Canon County,
We beg to inform you that the scene of the opening chapter
of the Fortunes of Barbara Plynlimmon is laid in Wales.
The scene is laid, however, very carelessly and hurriedly
and we expect that it will shortly be removed. We cannot,
therefore, recommend it to your perusal. As there is a
very fine passage describing the Cambrian Hills by
moonlight, we enclose herewith a condensed table showing
the mean altitude of the moon for the month of December
in the latitude of Wales. The character of Miss Plynlimmon
we find to be developed in conversation with her
grandmother, which we think you had better not read. Nor
are we prepared to endorse your reading the speeches of
the Welsh peasantry which we find in this chapter, but
we forward herewith in place of them a short glossary of
Welsh synonyms which may aid you in this connection.
We regret to state that we find nothing in the second
chapter of the Fortunes of Barbara Plynlimmon which need
be reported to you at length. We think it well, however,
to apprise you of the arrival of a young Oxford student
in the neighbourhood of Miss Plynlimmon's cottage, who
is apparently a young man of means and refinement. We
enclose a list of the principal Oxford Colleges.
We may state that from the conversation and manner of
this young gentleman there is no ground for any apprehension
on your part. But if need arises we will report by cable
to you instantly.
The young gentleman in question meets Miss Plynlimmon at
sunrise on the slopes of Snowdon. As the description of
the meeting is very fine we send you a recent photograph
of the sun.
Our surmise was right. The scene of the story that we
are digesting for you is changed. Miss Plynlimmon has
gone to London. You will be gratified to learn that she
has fallen heir to a fortune of 100,000 pounds, which we
are happy to compute for you at $486,666 and 66 cents
less exchange. On Miss Plynlimmon's arrival at Charing
Cross Station, she is overwhelmed with that strange
feeling of isolation felt in the surging crowds of a
modern city. We therefore enclose a timetable showing
the arrival and departure of all trains at Charing Cross.
We beg to bring to your notice the fact that Miss Barbara
Plynlimmon has by an arrangement made through her trustees
become the inmate, on a pecuniary footing, in the household
of a family of title. We are happy to inform you that
her first appearance at dinner in evening dress was most
gratifying: we can safely recommend you to read in this
connection lines 4 and 5 and the first half of line 6 on
page 1OO of the book as enclosed. We regret to say that
the Marquis of Slush and his eldest son Viscount Fitzbuse
(courtesy title) are both addicted to drink. They have
been drinking throughout the chapter. We are pleased to
state that apparently the second son, Lord Radnor of
Slush, who is away from home is not so addicted. We send
you under separate cover a bottle of Radnor water.
We regret to state that the affairs of Miss Barbara
Plynlimmon are in a very unsatisfactory position. We
enclose three pages of the novel with the urgent request
that you will read them at once. The old Marquis of Slush
has made approaches towards Miss Plynlimmon of such a
scandalous nature that we think it best to ask you to
read them in full. You will note also that young Viscount
Slush who is tipsy through whole of pages 121-125, 128-133,
and part of page 140, has designs upon her fortune. We
are sorry to see also that the Marchioness of Buse under
the guise of friendship has insured Miss Plynlimmon's
life and means to do away with her. The sister of the
Marchioness, the Lady Dowager, also wishes to do away
with her. The second housemaid who is tempted by her
jewellery is also planning to do away with her. We feel
that if this goes on she will be done away with.
We beg to advise you that Viscount Fitz-buse, inflamed
by the beauty and innocence of Miss Plynlimmon, has gone
so far as to lay his finger on her (read page 170, lines
6-7). She resisted his approaches. At the height of the
struggle a young man, attired in the costume of a Welsh
tourist, but wearing the stamp of an Oxford student, and
yet carrying himself with the unmistakable hauteur (we
knew it at once) of an aristocrat, burst, or bust, into
the room. With one blow he felled Fitz-buse to the floor;
with another he clasped the girl to his heart.
"Barbara!" he exclaimed.
"Radnor," she murmured.
You will be pleased to learn that this is the second son
of the Marquis, Viscount Radnor, just returned from a
reading tour in Wales.
P. S. We do not know what he read, so we enclose a file
of Welsh newspapers to date.
We regret to inform you that the Marquis of Slush has
disinherited his son. We grieve to state that Viscount
Radnor has sworn that he will never ask for Miss
Plynlimmon's hand till he has a fortune equal to her own.
Meantime, we are sorry to say, he proposes to work.
The Viscount is seeking employment.
The Viscount is looking for work.
The Viscount is hunting for a job.
We are most happy to inform you that Miss Plynlimmon has
saved the situation. Determined to be worthy of the
generous love of Viscount Radnor, she has arranged to
convey her entire fortune to the old family lawyer who
acts as her trustee. She will thus become as poor as the
Viscount and they can marry. The scene with the old
lawyer who breaks into tears on receiving the fortune,
swearing to hold and cherish it as his own is very
touching. Meantime, as the Viscount is hunting for a job,
we enclose a list of advertisements under the heading
You will be very gratified to learn that the fortunes of
Miss Barbara Plynlimmon have come to a most pleasing
termination. Her marriage with the Viscount Radnor was
celebrated very quietly on page 231. (We enclose a list
of the principal churches in London.) No one was present
except the old family lawyer, who was moved to tears at
the sight of the bright, trusting bride, and the clergyman
who wept at the sight of the cheque given him by the
Viscount. After the ceremony the old trustee took Lord
and Lady Radnor to a small wedding breakfast at an hotel
(we enclose a list). During the breakfast a sudden
faintness (for which we had been watching for ten pages)
overcame him. He sank back in his chair, gasping. Lord
and Lady Radnor rushed to him and sought in vain to
tighten his necktie. He expired under their care, having
just time to indicate in his pocket a will leaving them
his entire wealth.
This had hardly happened when a messenger brought news
to the Viscount that his brother, Lord Fitz-buse had been
killed in the hunting field, and that he (meaning him,
himself) had now succeeded to the title. Lord and Lady
Fitz-buse had hardly time to reach the town house of the
family when they learned that owing to the sudden death
of the old Marquis (also, we believe, in the hunting
field), they had become the Marquis and the Marchioness
The Marquis and the Marchioness of Slush are still living
in their ancestral home in London. Their lives are an
example to all their tenantry in Piccadilly, the Strand
Dear Mr. Gulch:
We beg to acknowledge with many thanks your cheque for
one thousand dollars.
We regret to learn that you have not been able to find
time to read our digest of the serial story placed with
us at your order. But we note with pleasure that you
propose to have the "essential points" of our digest
"boiled down" by one of the business experts of your
Awaiting your commands,
We remain, etc., etc.
X.--Speeding Up Business
We were sitting at our editorial desk in our inner room,
quietly writing up our week's poetry, when a stranger
looked in upon us.
He came in with a burst,--like the entry of the hero of
western drama coming in out of a snowstorm. His manner
was all excitement. "Sit down," we said, in our grave,
courteous way. "Sit down!" he exclaimed, "certainly not!
Are you aware of the amount of time and energy that are
being wasted in American business by the practice of
perpetually sitting down and standing up again? Do you
realize that every time you sit down and stand up you
make a dead lift of"--he looked at us,--"two hundred
and fifty pounds? Did you ever reflect that every time
you sit down you have to get up again?" "Never," we said
quietly, "we never thought of it." "You didn't!" he
sneered. "No, you'd rather go on lifting 250 pounds
through two feet,--an average of 500 foot-pounds,
practically 62 kilowatts of wasted power. Do you know
that by merely hitching a pulley to the back of your neck
you could generate enough power to light your whole
We hung our heads. Simple as the thing was, we had never
thought of it. "Very good," said the Stranger. "Now, all
American business men are like you. They don't think,--do
you understand me? They don't think."
We realized the truth of it at once. We had never thought.