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Title: The Autobiography of Methuselah
Author: Bangs, John Kendrick, 1862-1922
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF METHUSELAH

Edited by

JOHN KENDRICK BANGS

Illustrated in Color by F. G. Cooper



[Illustration: Methuselah's stationery]



New York
B. W. Dodge & Company
1909
Copyright, 1908, by
B. W. Dodge & Company



CONTENTS


           FOREWORD

   CHAPTER

      I    I AM BORN AND NAMED

     II    EARLY INFLUENCES

    III    SOME REMINISCENCES OF ADAM

     IV    GRANDMOTHER EVE

      V    SOME NOTES ON CAIN AND ABEL

     VI    HE CONFESSES TO BEING A POET

    VII    THE INTERNATIONAL MARINE AND ZOO FLOTATION COMPANY

   VIII    ON THE EXTINCTION OF THE MASTODON

     IX    AS TO WOMEN



FOREWORD


Having recently passed into what my great-grandson Shem calls my
Anecdotage, it has occurred to me that perhaps some of the
recollections of a more or less extended existence upon this
globular[1] mass of dust and water that we are pleased to call the
earth, may prove of interest to posterity, and I have accordingly, at
the earnest solicitation of my grandson, Noah, and his sons, Shem,
Ham and Japhet, consented to put them into permanent literary form. In
view of the facts that at this writing, ink and paper and pens have
not as yet been invented, and that we have no capable stenographers
among our village folk, and that because of my advanced years I should
find great difficulty in producing my manuscript on a type-writing
machine with my gouty fingers--for, of the luscious fluid of the grape
have I been a ready, though never over-abundant, consumer--even if I
were familiar with the keyboard of such an instrument, or, if indeed,
there were any such instrument to facilitate the work--in view of
these facts, I say, I have been compelled to make use of the literary
methods of the Egyptians, and with hammer and chisel, to gouge out my
"Few Remarks" upon such slabs of stone as I can find upon my native
heath.

[Footnote 1: It is quite interesting, in the light of the contentions
of history as to man's earliest realization that the earth is round,
to find Methuselah speaking in this fashion. It would seem from this
that the real facts had dawned upon the Patriarch's mind even at this
early period, and one is therefore disposed to regard as less
apocryphal the anecdote recorded in Volume III, Chapter 38, of "The
Life and Voyages of Noah," wherein Adam, after being ejected from the
Garden of Eden, asked by Cain if he believes the world to be round
like an orange, replies:

"_I used to think so, my son, but under prevailing conditions I am
forced into a more or less definite suspicion that it is elliptical,
like a lemon._"--EDITOR.]

[Illustration: Ye scribe decides not to use Egyptian writing.]

Let us hope that my story will not prove as heavy as my manuscript. It
is hardly necessary for me to assure the indulgent reader that such a
method of composition is not altogether an easy task for a man who is
shortly to celebrate his nine hundred and sixty-fifth birthday, more
especially since at no time in my life have I studied the arts of the
Stone-Cutter, or been a master in the Science of Quarrying. Nor is it
easy at my advanced age, with a back no longer sinewy, and muscles
grown flabby from lack of active exercise, for me to lift a virgin
sheet of stone from the ground to the surface of my writing-desk
without a derrick, but these are, after all, minor difficulties, and I
shall let no such insignificant obstacles stand between me and the
great purpose I have in mind. I shall persist in the face of all in
the writing of this Autobiography if for no worthier object than to
provide occupation for my leisure hours which, in these patriarchal
days to which I have attained, sometimes hang heavy on my hands. I
know not why it should so transpire, but it is the fact that since I
passed my nine hundred and fiftieth birthday I have had little liking
for the pleasures which modern society most affects. To be sure, old
and feeble as I am, and despite the uncertain quality of my knees, I
still enjoy the excitement of the Virginia Reel, and can still hold my
own with men several centuries younger than myself in the clog, but I
leave such diversions as bridge, draw-poker and pinochle to more
frivolous minds--though I will say that when my great-grandchildren,
Shem, Ham and Japhet, the sons of my grandson Noah, come to my house
on the few holidays, their somewhat over-sober parent allows them from
their labors in the ship-yard, I take great delight in sitting upon
the ground with them and renewing my acquaintance with those games of
my youth, marbles, and mumbledy-peg, the which I learned from my
great-uncle-seven-times-removed, Cain, in the days when with my
grandfather, Jared, I used to go to see our first ancestor, Adam, at
the old farm just outside of Edensburg where, with his beautiful wife
Eve, that Grand Old Man was living in honored retirement.

Nor have I in these days, as I used to have, any especial taste for
the joys of the chase. There was a time when my slungshot was
unerring, and I could bring down a Dodo, or snipe my Harpy on the wing
with as much ease as my wife can hit our barn-door with a rolling-pin
at six feet, and for three hundred and thirty years I never let escape
me any opportunity for tracking the Dinosaur, the Pterodactyl, or that
fierce and sanguinary creature the Osteostogothemy to his lair and
there fighting him unto the death during the open season for wild game
of that particular sort. I well remember how, in my boyhood days, to
be precise, shortly after my two hundred and twenty-second birthday, I
went with my great-grandfather, Mehalaleel, over into the woods back
of Little Ararat after a great horned Ornythyrhyncus and--but that is
another story. Suffice it to say that I have at last reached a period
in my life where I am content to leave the pleasures of Nimrod to my
more nimble neighbors, and that now no winged thing, save an
occasional mosquito, or locust, need fear my approach, and that my
indulgence in the shedding of the blood of animals is confined to an
infrequent personal superintendence of the slaughter of a spring-lamb
in green-pea time, when the scent is in the julep and the bloom is on
the mint; or possibly, now and then, the removal from the pasture to
the pantry of a bit of lowing roast-beef, when I feel an inner craving
for the crackle and the steak.

Racing I have an abhorrence for, and always have had since in my early
days I attended the county-fair at North Ararat, and was there induced
by one of my neighbors to participate as a rider in a twenty-mile
steeplechase between a Discosaurus which I rode, and a Diplodocus in his
possession. I found after the race had started that the animal which had
been assigned to me as a gentleman jockey, had not been broken to the
saddle, and my experience during the next six days in staying on his
back--for he immediately took the bit between his teeth and bolted for
the woods, and was not again got under control for that time--as he
jumped over the various obstacles to his progress, from thank-you-marms
in the highways which were plentiful, to such mountains as the country
for a thousand miles about provided for his delectation, was one of the
most terrific in my life, prolonged as it has been. I had been assured
that the race was to be a "Go-As-You-Please" affair, but I had not been
seated on that horrible creature's back for two minutes before I
discovered that it was a "Go-As-He-Pleased" affair and that
"Going-As-I-Pleased," like the flowers that bloom in the Spring, had
nothing to do with the case. Had I begun in the pursuit of the pleasures
of the track in later years after the invention of wheels, whereby that
easy running vehicle, the sulky, was brought into being, and when, by
the taming of the horse, the latter became a domesticated animal with
sporting proclivities, instead of a mere prowler of the plains, I might
have found the joys of racing more to my taste, although in these later
years of my life when a truly noble pursuit has degenerated into a mere
gambling enterprise, wherein those who can ill afford it squander their
substance in riotous bookmaking, I am inclined to be grateful that my
first experience in this direction has led me to cultivate an
unconcerned aloofness from a pursuit which is ruinous to the old and
corrupting to the young.

Were the present state of literature more hopeful, perhaps I should
find pleasure in reading, but I have viewed with such increasing alarm
the growth of sensationalism in the literary output of my age that I
have felt that I owed it to my posterity, which is rapidly growing in
numbers--I believe that the latest annual report of the Society of the
Sons and Daughters of Methuselah shows a membership of six hundred and
thirty-eight thousand, without counting the new arrivals since the end
of the last fiscal year, which, at a rough guess, I should place at
thirty-six thousand--I have felt, I say, that I owe it to that
posterity to set it the example of not reading, as my most effective
protest against those pernicious influences which have made the modern
literary school a menace to civilization. Surely if Noah's children
for instance, Shem, Ham and Japhet, whom I have already had occasion
to mention, were to surprise me, their venerable, and I hope venerated
ancestor, reading such stories as are now put forth by our most
successful quarrymen--stories like that unspeakable novel "Three
Decades," of which I am credibly informed eight million tons have
already been sold; and which, let me say, when I had read only seven
slabs of it I had carted away and dumped into the Red Sea; or the
innocuous but highly frivolous tales of Miss Laura Jean
Diplodocus--they would hardly accept from me as worthy of serious
attention such admonitions as I am constantly giving them on the
subject of the decadence of literature when I find them poring over
the novels of the day. Consequently even this usual solace of old age
is denied to me, and writing becomes my refuge.

I bespeak the reader's indulgence if he or she find in the ensuing
pages any serious lapses from true literary style. I write merely as I
feel, and do not pretend to be either an expert hieroglyphist or a
rhetorician of commanding quality. Perhaps I should do more wisely if
I were to accept the advice of my great-grandson Ham, who, overhearing
my remark to a caller last Sunday evening that the work I have
undertaken is one of considerable difficulty, climbed up into my lap
and in his childish way asked me why I did not hire a boswell to do it
for me. I had to tell the child that I did not know what a boswell
was, and when I questioned him on the subject more closely, I found
that it was only one of his childish fancies. If there were such a
thing as that rather euphoniously named invention of Ham's who could
relieve me of the drudgery of writing my own life, and who would do it
well, I would cheerfully relinquish that end of my enterprise to him,
but in the absence of such a thing, I am, in spite of my manifest
shortcomings, compelled to do the work myself. On behalf of my story I
can say, however, that whatever I shall put down here will be the
truth, and that what I remember notwithstanding my advanced years, I
remember perfectly. I am quite aware that in some of the tales that I
shall tell, especially those having to do with Prehistoric Animals I
have met, or Antediluvians as I believe the Scientists call them, what
I may say as to their habits--I was going to say manners, but refrain
because in all my life I have never observed that they had any--and
powers may fall upon some ears as extravagant exaggerations. To these
let me say here and now that there are exceptions to all rules, and
that if for instance, I tell the story of a Pterodactyl that after
being swallowed whole by a Discosaurus, successfully gnaws his way
through the walls of the latter's stomach to freedom, I make no claim
that all Pterodactyls could do the same, but merely that in this
particular case the Pterodactyl to which I refer did it, and that I
know that he did it because the man who saw it is a cousin of my
grandfather's first wife's step-son, and is so wedded to truth that he
is even now in jail because he would not deny a charge of
sheep-stealing, which he might easily have done were he an untruthful
man. Again when I observe that I have caught with an ordinary
fish-hook, baited with a common garden, or angle worm, on the end of a
light trout-line, a Creosaurus with a neck ninety-seven feet long, and
scales so large that you could weigh a hay-wagon on the smallest of
the lot near the end of his tail, I admit at the outset that the feat
was unusual, had never occurred before, and is never likely to occur
again, but can bring affidavits to prove that it did happen that time,
signed by reputable parties who have heard me tell about it more than
once. I make these statements here not in any sense to apologize for
anything I shall say in my book, but merely to forestall the criticism
of highly cultivated and truly scientific readers who, after a
lifelong study of the habits of these creatures may feel impelled to
question the accuracy of my statements and add to my perplexities by
so advertising my book that I shall be put to the arduous necessity of
chiseling out another edition, a labor which I have no desire to
assume.

One word more as to the language I have chosen for the presentation of
my narrative. I have chosen English as the language in which to chisel
out these random recollections of mine for a variety of reasons. Most
conspicuous of these is that at the time of this writing no one has as
yet thought to devise a French, German, Spanish or Italian language.
Russian I have no familiarity with. Chinese I do not care for. Latin
and Greek few people can read, and as for Egyptian, while it is an
excellent and fluent tongue for speaking purposes, I find myself
appalled at the prospect of writing a story of the length of mine in
the hieroglyphics which up to date form the whole extent of Egyptian
chirography. An occasional pictorial rebus in a child's magazine is a
source of pleasure and profit to both the young and the old, but the
autobiography of a man of my years told in pictures, and pictures for
the most part of squab, spring chickens, and canvas-back ducks, would,
I fear, prove arduous reading. Moreover I am but an indifferent
draughtsman, and I suspect that when the precise thought that I have
in mind can best be expressed by a portrait of a humming-bird, or a
flamingo, my readers because of my inexpert handling of my tools would
hardly be able to distinguish the creature I should limn from an
albatross, a red-head duck, or a June-Bug, which would lead to a great
deal of obscurity, and in some cases might cause me to say things that
I should not care to be held responsible for. There is left me then
only a choice between English and Esperanto, and I incline to the
former, not because I do not wish the Esperantists well, but because
in the present condition of the latter's language, it affects the eye
more like a barbed-wire fence than a medium for the expression of
ideas.

At this stage of the proceedings I can think of nothing else either to
explain or to apologize for, but in closing I beg the reader to accept
my assurance that if in the narratives that follow he finds anything
that needs either explanation or apology, I shall be glad to explain
if he will bring the matter to my attention, and herewith tender in
advance for his acceptance any apology which occasion may require.

And so to my story.

GEORGE W. METHUSELAH.

Ararat Corners, B. C. 2348.



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF METHUSELAH

CHAPTER I

I AM BORN AND NAMED


The date of my birth, occurring as it did, nine hundred and sixty-five
years ago, is so far removed from my present that my recollections of
it are not altogether clear, but Mrs. Adam, my great-grandmother seven
times removed, with whom I was always a great favorite because I
looked more like my original ancestor, her husband, than any other of
his descendants, has given me many interesting details of that
important epoch in my history. Personally I do remember that the date
was B. C. 3317, and the twenty-third of June, for the first thing to
greet my infant eyes, when I opened them for the first time, was a
huge insurance calendar hanging upon our wall whereon the date was
printed in letters almost as large as those which the travelling
circuses of Armenia use to herald the virtues of their show when at
County Fair time they visit Ararat Corners. I also recall that it was
a very stormy day when I arrived. The rain was coming down in
torrents, and I heard simultaneously with my arrival my father, Enoch,
in the adjoining room making sundry observations as to the
meteorological conditions which he probably would have spoken in a
lower tone of voice, or at least in less vigorous phraseology had he
known that I was within earshot, although I must confess that it has
always been a nice question with me whether or not when a man
expresses a wish that the rain may be dammed, he voices a desire for
its everlasting condemnation, or the mere placing in its way of an
impediment which shall prevent its further overflow. I think much
depends upon the manner, the inflection, and the tone of voice in
which the desire is expressed, and I am sorry to say that upon the
occasion to which I refer, there was more of the asperity of profanity
than the calmness of constructive suggestion in my father's manner. In
any event I did not blame him, for here was I coming along, undeniably
imminent, a tempest raging, and no doctor in sight, and consequently
no telling when my venerable sire would have to go out into the wet
and fetch one.

In those primitive days doctors were few and far between. There was
little profit in the practice of such a profession at a time when
everybody lived so long that death was looked upon as a remote
possibility, and one seldom called one in until after he had passed
his nine hundredth birthday and sometimes not even then. It may be
that this habit of putting off the call to the family physician was
the cause of our wonderful longevity, but of that I do not know, and
do not care to express an opinion on the subject, for socially I have
always found the medicine folk charming companions and I would not say
aught in this work that could by any possibility give them offense.
Not only were doctors rare at that period, but owing to our limited
facilities in the matter of transportation, it was exceedingly
difficult for them to get about. The doctor's gig, now so generally in
use, had not as yet been brought to that state of perfection that has
made its use in these modern times a matter of ease and comfort. We
had wheels, to be sure, but they were not spherical as they have since
become, and were made out of stone blocks weighing ten or fifteen tons
apiece, and hewn octagonally, so that a ride over the country roads in
a vehicle of that period not only involved the services of some thirty
or forty horses to pull the wagon, but an endless succession of jolts
which, however excellent they may have been in their influence on the
liver were most trying to the temper, and resulted in attacks of
sickness which those who have been to sea tell me strongly resembles
sea-sickness. So rough indeed was the operation of riding in the
wagons of my early youth that a great many of our best people who kept
either horses or domesticated elephants, still continued to drive
about in stone boats, so-called, built flat like a raft, rather than
suffer the shaking up which the new-fangled wheels entailed. Griffins
were also used by persons of adventurous nature, but were gradually
dying into disuse, and the species being no longer bred becoming
extinct, because of the great difficulty in domesticating them. It was
not a hard task to break them to the saddle, and on the ground they
were fleet and sure footed, but in the air they were extremely
unreliable. They used their wings with much power, but were not
responsive to the reins, and in flying pursued the most erratic
courses. What was worse, they were seldom able to alight after an
aerial flight on all four feet at once, having a disagreeable habit of
approaching the earth vertically, and headfirst, so that the rider,
unless he were strapped on, was usually unseated while forty or fifty
feet in the air, with the result that he either broke his neck, or at
least four or five ribs, and a leg or two, at the end of his ride.
When we remember that in addition to all this we had no telephone
service at that time, and that the umbrella had not as yet been
devised, my father's anxiety at the moment may easily be realized.

His temper was only momentary, however, for I recall that I was very
much amused at this critical moment of my career by another
observation that I overheard from the adjoining room. My grandfather,
Jared, who was with my father at the time looking out of the window
made the somewhat commonplace observation--

"It's raining cats and dogs, isn't it?"

"Cats and dogs?" retorted Enoch, scornfully. "It's raining
Diplodocuses!"

This was naturally the first bit of humor that I had ever heard, and
coming as it did simultaneously with my début as a citizen of
Enochsville, perhaps it is not to be wondered at that instead of
celebrating my birth with a squall, as do most infants, I was born
laughing. I must have cackled pretty loudly, too, for the second thing
that I remember--O, how clearly it all comes back to me as I write, or
rather chisel--was overhearing the Governor's response to the nurse's
announcement of my arrival.

"It's a boy, sir," the good woman called out as she rushed excitedly
into the other room.

"Good, Dinah," replied my father. "You have taken a great load off my
mind. I am dee-lighted. I was afraid from his opening remarks that he
was a hen!"

It was thus that the keynote of existence was struck for me, one of
mirth even in the dark of storm, and that I have since become the
oldest man that ever lived, and shall doubtless continue to the end of
time to hold the record for longevity, I attribute to nothing else
than that, thanks to my father's droll humor, I was born smiling. Nor
did the good old gentleman ever stint himself in the indulgence of
that trait. In my youth such things as comic papers were entirely
unknown, nor did the columns of the newspapers give over any portion
of their space to the printing of jokes, so that my dear old father
never dreamed of turning his wit to the advantage of his own pocket,
as do some latter-day joke-wrights who shall be nameless, lavishly
bestowing the fruits of his gift upon the members of his own family.
Of my own claims to an inheritance of humor from my sire, I shall
speak in a later chapter.

I recall that my first impressions of life were rather disappointing.
I cannot say that upon my arrival I brought with me any definite
notions as to what I should find the world to be like, but I do know
that when I looked out of the window for the first time it seemed to
me that the scenery was rather commonplace, and the mountains which I
could see in the distance, were not especially remarkable for
grandeur. The rivers, too, seemed trite. That they should flow
down-hill struck me as being nothing at all remarkable, for I could
not for the life of me see how they could do otherwise, and when night
came on and my nurse, Dinah, pointed out the moon and asked me if I
did not think it was remarkable, I was so filled with impatience that
so ordinary a phenomenon should be considered unusual that I made no
reply whatsoever, smiling inwardly at the marvelous simplicity of
these people with whom destiny had decreed that I should come to
dwell. I should add, however, that I was quite contented on that first
day of my existence for the reason that all of my wants appeared to
be anticipated by my guardians, the table was good, and all through
the day I was filled with a comfortable sense of my own importance as
the first born of one of the first families of the land, and when
along about noon the skies cleared, and the rain disappeared before
the genial warmth of the sun, and the neighbors came in to look me
over, it was most agreeable to realize that I was the center of so
much interest. What added to my satisfaction was the fact that when my
great-uncle Zib came in and began to talk baby-talk to me--a jargon
that I have always abhorred--by an apparently casual movement of my
left leg I was able with seeming innocence of intention to kick him on
the end of his nose.

An amusing situation developed itself along about 4 o'clock in the
afternoon, in respect to my name. One of the neighbors asked my
father what my name was to be.

"Well," he replied with a chuckle, "we are somewhat up a tree in
respect to that. We have held several family conclaves on the subject,
and after much prayerful consideration of the matter we had finally
settled on Gladys, but--well, since we've seen him the idea has been
growing on us that he looks more like a James."

And indeed this question as to my name became a most serious one as
the days passed by, and at one time I began to fear that I should be
compelled to pass through life anonymously. There was some desire on
the part of my father, who was of a providential nature, to call me
Zib, after my great uncle of that name, for Uncle Zib had been
forehanded, and was possessed of much in the way of filthy lucre,
owning many cliff-dwellings, a large if not controlling interest in
the Armenian Realty Company, whose caves on the leading thoroughfares
of Enochsville and Edensburg commanded the highest and steadiest
rents, and was the chief stock-holder in the Ararat Corners and Red
Sea Traction Company, running an hourly service of Pterodactyls and
Creosauruses between the most populous points of the country. This
naturally made of Uncle Zib a nearer approach to a Captain of Finance
than anything else known to our time, and inasmuch as he had never
married, and was without an heir, my father thought he would
appreciate the compliment of having his first-born named for him. But
Uncle Zib's moral character was of such a nature that his name seemed
to my mother as hardly a fit association for an infant of my tender
years. He was known to be addicted to pinochle to a degree that had
caused no end of gossip at the Ararat Woman's Club, and before he had
reached the age of three hundred he had five times been successfully
sued in the courts for breach of promise. Indeed, if Uncle Zib had had
fewer material resources he would long since have been ostracised by
the best people of our section, and even as it was the few people in
our neighborhood to whom he had not lent money regarded his social
pretensions with some coolness. The fact that he had given Enochsville
a public library, and had filled its shelves with several tons of the
best reading that the Egyptian writers of the day provided, was
regarded as a partial atonement for some of his indiscretions, and the
endowment of a large stone-quarry at Ararat where children were taught
to read and write, helped materially in his rehabilitation, but on the
whole Uncle Zib was looked upon askance by the majority. On the other
hand Uncle Azag, a strong, pious man, who owed money to everybody in
town, was the one after whom my mother wished me to be named, a
proposition which my father resisted to the uttermost expense of his
powers.

"What's the use?" I heard him ask, warmly. "He'll get his name on
plenty of I. O. U.'s on his own account before he leaves this glad
little earth, without our giving him an autograph that is already on
enough over-due paper to decorate every flat in Uncle Zib's model
tenements."

The disputation continued with some acrimony for a week, until finally
my father put his foot down.

"I'm tired of referring to him as IT," he blurted out one night.
"We'll compromise, and name him after me and thee. He shall be called
Me for me, and Thou for thee, Selah!"

And so it was that from that day forth I was known as Methouselah,
since corrupted into Methuselah.



CHAPTER II

EARLY INFLUENCES


Boys remained boys in those old days very much longer than they do
now. The smartness of children like my grandsons, Shem, Ham and
Japhet, for instance, who at the age of two hundred and fifty arrogate
to themselves all the knowledge of the universe, was comparatively
unknown when I was a child. To begin with we were of a different breed
from the boys of to-day, and life itself was more simple. We were
surrounded with none of those luxuries which are characteristic of
modern life, and we were in no haste to grow old by taking short cuts
across the fields of time. We were content to remain youthful, and
even childish, taking on ourselves none of the superiorities of age
until we had attained to the years which are presumed to go with
discretion. We did not think either arrogantly or otherwise that we
knew more by intuition than our parents had been able to learn from
experience, and, with a few possible exceptions, we none of us assumed
that position of high authority in the family which is, I regret to
say, generally assumed by the sons and daughters of the present. For
myself, I was quite willing to admit, even on the day of my birth,
that my father, in spite of certain obvious limitations, knew more
than I; and that my mother in spite of the fact that she was a woman,
was possessed, in a minor degree perhaps, but still indubitably
possessed, of certain of the elementary qualities at least of human
intelligence. As I recall my attitude towards my elders in those
days, the only person whose pretensions to superior attainments along
lines of universal knowledge I was at all inclined to resent, was my
maiden aunt, Jerusha, my father's sister, who, having attained to the
kittenish age of 623 years, unmarried, and having consequently had no
children, knew more about men and their ways, and how to bring up
children scientifically than anybody at that time known to civilized
society. Indeed I have always thought that it was the general
recognition of the fact that Aunt Jerusha knew just a little more than
there was to know that had brought about that condition of enduring
spinsterhood in which she was passing her days. Even her, however, I
could have viewed with amused toleration if so be she could have been
induced to practice her theories as to the Fifty-seven Best Ways To
Bring Up The Young upon others than myself. She was an amusing young
thing, and the charming way in which even in middle age--she was as I
have already said 623 years old at the time of which I write--she held
on to the manners of youth was delightful to contemplate. She always
kept herself looking very fit, and was the first woman in our section
of the world to wear her hair pompadour in front, running to the
extreme psychic knot behind--she called it psychic, though I have
since learned that the proper adjective is Psyche, indicating rather a
levity of mind than anything else. It should be said of her in all
justice that she was a leader in her set, and as President of the
Woman's Club of Enochsville was a person of more than ordinary
influence, and it was through her that the movement to grant the
franchise to all single women over three hundred and forty, resulted
in the extension of the suffrage to that extent.

[Illustration: "It's a boy, sir!"]

Incidentally I cannot forget the wise words of my father in this
connection. He had always been an anti-suffragist, but when Aunt
Jerusha's plan was laid before him he swung instantly around and
became one of its heartiest advocates.

"It is a wise measure," said he. "Safe, sane and practical, for no
single woman will confess to the age of qualification, so that in
passing this act we grant the prayers of our petitioners without
subjecting ourselves to the dangers of women's suffrage. Remember my
son, that it always pays to be generous with that which costs you
nothing, and that woman's suffrage is as harmless as the cooing dove
if you only take the precaution to raise the age limit high enough to
freeze out the old maids."

I should add too that Aunt Jerusha had a way with her that was not
without its fascination. To look at her you would never have supposed
that she was more than four hundred years old, and the variety of eyes
that she could make when there were men about, was wonderful to see. I
noticed it the very day I was born, and when I first caught sight of
that piquante little glance that now and then she cast in my direction
out of the tail of her eye, I began rummaging about in the back of my
subconscious mind for the precise words with which to characterize
her.

"You giddy old flirt!" was the apostrophe I had in mind at the moment,
but, of course, having had no practice in speech I was compelled to
forego the pleasure of giving audible expression to the thought.

Unfortunately for me Aunt Jerusha equipped with that intuitive
knowledge of what to do under any given circumstances that invariably
goes with the status of maiden-aunthood in its acute stages, now
assumed complete control of my destinies; and for a time it looked as
though I were in a fair way to become what the great Egyptian ruler,
King Ptush the Third was referring to in many of his State papers as a
"Meticulous Mollycoddle." To begin with, Aunt Jerusha was a strong
believer in the New Thought School of Infantile Development, and when
I was barely six weeks old she began strapping me on a board like an
Eskimo baby, and suspending me thus restrained to a peg in the wall,
where, helpless, I was required to hang and stare while she implanted
the germs of strength in my soul by reading aloud whole chapters from
the inspired chisellings of the popular seer Ber Nard Pshaw, who was
to the literature of that period what King Ptush was to statecraft. He
was the acknowledged leader of the Neo-Bunkum School of Right
Thinking, and had first attracted the attention of his age by his
famous reply to one who had called him an Egotist.

"I am more than that," he answered. "I am a Megotist. The world is
full of I's, but there is only one Me."

Upon this sort of thing was I fed, not only spiritually but
physically, by my Aunt Jerusha. When, for instance, I found myself
suffering from a pain in my Commissary Department for the sole and
sufficient reason that my nurse had inadvertently handed me the hard
cider jug instead of my noon-day bottle of discosaurus' milk, she
would rattle off some such statement as this: _Thought is everything.
Pain is something. Hence where there is no thought there can be no
pain. Wherefore if you have a pain it is evident that you have a
thought. To be rid of the pain stop thinking._

Then she would fix her eye on mine, and gaze at me sternly in an
effort to remove my sufferings by the hot poultice of her own mushy
reflections instead of getting the peppermint and the hot-water bag.
When night came on and I was restless instead of wooing slumber on my
behalf with soft and soothing lullabies, or telling me fairy-stories
such as children love, she would say: _The child's mind is immature.
His conclusions, therefore, are immature. Whence his decisions as to
what he likes lack maturity, and consequently to give him that for
which he professes to like is equivalent to feeding him on unripe
fruit. So we conclude that what he says he likes he really does not
like, and to please him therefore, it becomes necessary to give him
what he professes to dislike. Ergo, I will read him to sleep with the
seventeenth chapter, part forty-nine of the works of Niet-Zhe on the
co-ordination of our æsthetic powers in respect to the relative
delights of pleasure and pain._

I will do my Aunt Jerusha the credit of saying at this point that her
method of putting me to sleep was efficacious. I do not ever remember
having retained consciousness past the third paragraph of her remedy
for insomnia.

[Illustration: Aunt Jerusha as a disciplinarian.]

I tremble to think of what I should have become had this fauntleroy
process of rearing been allowed to continue unchecked. There were
prigs enough in our family already without afflicting the world with
another, and it rejoices me to this day to recall that just as we were
reaching the point when it was either an early and beautiful demise in
the odor of sanctity as a perfect child, or my present eminence as the
most continuous human performance on record for me, my father stepped
in, reasserted his authority and rescued me from the clutches of my
Aunt Jerusha. Returning one day from business, he discovered Aunt
Jerusha sitting in a rocking-chair in the nursery before me reading
aloud from her tablets, whilst I, as usual, hung strapped and
suspended from a hook on the picture moulding. It was my supper-time,
and she was feeding me according to the New Thought method of
catering. The substance of her discourse was that hunger was an idea,
nothing more. She was proving to her own satisfaction at least that I
was hungry only because I thought I was hungry, and as father came in
she was trying to persuade me that if I would be a good boy and make
up my mind that my appetite had been appeased by a series of courses
of thought biscuits, spirituelle waffles, and mental hors d'oeuvres
generally I would no longer be hungry.

"Fill your spirit stomach with the food of thought, Methy, dear," she
was saying as my father appeared in the door-way. "Make up your mind
that it is stuffed with the crackers and milk of the spirit; that
your spiritual bread is buttered with the oleomargerine of lofty
ideals, and sugared with the saccharin of your granulated meditations,
and you will grow strong. You will become an intellectual athlete,
like the great King Ptush of Egypt; a winner in the spiritual
Marathon--"

"What are you trying to do with this kid, anyhow?" demanded my father
at this point. "Turn him into a strap-hanger, or is this just a little
lynching party?"

"Hush, Enoch," protested Aunt Jerusha. "Do not project an
unsympathetic thought wave across our wires. I am just getting little
Methy into a receptive mood. He is having his supper."

"Supper?" roared my father. "You call that stuff supper? Why, the
child is getting thinner than a circus lemonade--"

"In the grosser sense, yes," replied Aunt Jerusha, calmly, after the
manner of maiden ladies who are sure of their position. "But look at
those eyes. Do they not betoken a great and budding soul within that
is hourly waxing in strength and beauty?"

"My dear Jerusha," said my father, unhooking me from the wall and
handing me a ripe red banana to eat, "all that you say is very lovely,
and I have no doubt that under your administration of affairs the boy
will sooner or later become a bully idea, but I hate a man whose
convexity of soul has been attained through a concavity of stomach.
What this boy needs at this stage of the game is development in what
you properly term the grosser sense, I might even go so far as to say
the butcher sense as well as the grocer sense. Ham and eggs is what he
needs."

And with that he sent out and had a diplodocus carnegii killed, and
fed me himself for the next ten days on dainty morsels cut from the
fatted calf of that luscious bird. It was thus that I escaped the fate
of the over-good who die young and became a factor in the world of
affairs rather than a pleasant memory in the minds of my family.

As for my education it was limited, and I may say desultory. In this
my Aunt Jerusha was allowed a greater authority than in the matter of
my diet, and she early made up her mind that the great weakness of the
educational system of the day was the tendency of the teachers in our
schools to cram the minds of the young.

"There is no hurry in days like these when people live to be eight or
nine hundred years old," she observed to my mother. "There is not very
much to be learned as yet. Science is in its infancy, very little
history has been made, and as for Latin and Greek, it is entirely
unnecessary for Methy to study those languages, because as yet,
nobody speaks them, and with the possible exception of that tramp
poet, Homer, who passed through here last week on his way West, nobody
is using it in literature. Teach him the three Rs and all will be
well. Taking the alphabet first and learning one letter a year for
twenty-six years he will be able to read and write as early in life as
he ought to. If we were more careful not to teach our children to read
in their childhood we should not be so anxious about the effects of
pernicious literature upon their adolescent morals. If I had my way no
one should be taught to read until after he had passed his hundredth
year. In that way, and in that way only can we protect our youth from
the dreadful influence of such novels as 'Three Cycles, Not To Mention
The Rug,' which dreadful book I have found within the past month in
the hands of at least twenty children in the neighborhood, not one of
whom was past sixty."

It was thus resolved that my education should proceed with due
deliberation and even as Aunt Jerusha had suggested, I was taught only
one letter a year for the first twenty-six years of my life, after
which I took up addition, multiplication, short and long division and
fractions. My father would not permit me to learn subtraction.

"It is a waste of time," said he. "Children subtract by intuition. Put
in all your time teaching Methy how to add and multiply."

My history was meagre, because as Aunt Jerusha had said, history
itself was meagre. There had not even been a flood, much less a first,
second, or third Punic War. Nobody in my time had ever heard of
Napoleon Bonaparte or George Washington or Julius Cæsar, or
Alexander, save a few prophets in the hills back of Enochsville, in
whose prognostications few of their contemporaries took any stock; as
was indeed not unnatural, since when they attempted to prophesy as to
the weather they showed themselves to be rather poor guessers. If a
man prophesies a blizzard for to-morrow and to-morrow comes bringing
with it the balmy odors of Spring, no one is likely to set much store
by his prognostications concerning the possible presidential candidacy
of a man named Bryan six or seven thousand years later. Consequently
the only history with which I took the trouble to familiarize myself
was that which ante-dated my birth, and even that was somewhat hazy in
the minds of historians. My predecessors in the patriarchal profession
were a reticent lot, inherited no doubt from our original ancestor
Adam, who could never be got to talk even to members of his immediate
family on the subject of his early years. True, it is generally
believed that he had no early years, and that he was born on his
fifty-ninth birthday, but even as to that he would not speak. I shall
never forget the look on his face when I asked him at a Thanksgiving
dinner one year if he had ever been a monkey with a tail. He rose up
from the table with considerable dignity, and leading me out into the
wood-shed turned me over on his knee and subjected me to a rather
severe course of treatment with a hair-brush.

"There, my lad," he observed when he had done. "If I had had a tail
that is about where I should have worn it."

I never referred to the subject again.



CHAPTER III

SOME REMINISCENCES OF ADAM


The concluding paragraphs of my last chapter have set my mind running
upon the subject of my original forebears, and inasmuch as I have
decided to write these memoirs of mine along the lines of least
resistance, it becomes proper that I should at this time, put down
whatever happens to be in my mind. To speak frankly I never really
could get up much of a liking for old grandfather Adam. He was as
devoid of real humor as the Scottentots, and simply because by a mere
accident of birth he became the First Gentleman of Europe, Asia and
Africa, he assumed airs that rendered him distinctly unpopular with
his descendants. He considered himself the fount of all knowledge
because in the early days of his occupancy of the Garden of Eden there
was no one to dispute his conclusions, and the fact that he had been
born without a boyhood, as we have already seen at the age of
fifty-nine, left him entirely unsympathetic in matters where boys were
concerned. I shall never forget a conspicuous case in point
demonstrating his utter lack of comprehension of a boy's way of
looking at things. He was on a visit to our home at Enochsville, and
on the night of his arrival, having called for a glass of fermented
grape-juice, thinking to indulge in a mere pleasantry, I brought him a
tumblerful of sweetened red ink, the which he gulped down so avidly
that it was not until it was beyond recall that he realized what I had
done; and when in his wrath he called for an instant remedy and I
brought him the blotting paper, instead of smiling at the merry
quality of my jest, he pursued me for two hours around my father's
farm, and finally cornering me in the Discosaurus shed, larruped me
for twenty full minutes with a paddle pulled from a prickly cactus
plant in my mother's drawing-room, thorn side down. Indeed most of my
early recollections of the old gentleman are inseparably associated
with a series of chastisements which, even as he had prophesied when
administering them, I have not been able to forget, although I cannot
see that any of them ever resulted in a lasting reformation of my
ways. On the contrary the desire to see what new form of thrashing his
disciplinary mind could invent led me into devising new kinds of
provocation, so that for a great many years his visits to our house
were a source of great anxiety to my parents. His view of me and my
ways were expressed with some degree of force to our family physician
who, when at the age of a hundred and fifty-three I came down with the
mumps, having summoned the whole family and said that I would burst
before morning, was met by a reassuring observation from Adam that he
wouldn't believe I was dead even if I had been buried a year.

"It is the good who die young, Doctor," he said. "On that principle
this young malefactor will live to be the oldest man in the world."

A curious example of his gift of prophecy!

Adam's table manners were a frequent source of mortification to us
all. The free and easy habits of the Garden period clung to him
throughout his life, and under no circumstances could he be induced to
use either a fork, a knife or a spoon, and even on the most formal
occasions he absolutely refused to dress for dinner.

"Fingers were made before forks," he said, "and as for spoons I have
no use for such frills. I can eat my peas out of the pod, and as for
soup it tastes better out of a dipper anyhow."

As for the knives, his dislike of them was merely in their use at
table. He was fond of knives of all sorts, and he regarded them always
as his legitimate spoil whenever he dined anywhere, pocketing every
one he could lay his hands on with as much facility as the Egyptian,
and Abyssinian drummers who visited our section of the country every
year made off with the spoons of our hostelries. Nor could we ever
appeal to him on the score of etiquette. Any observation as to the
ways of our first families was always met by a cold but quick response
that if there was any firster family than his own in all creation, he
couldn't find its name in the social register. Indeed the old
gentleman was rather inclined to be very snobbish on this point, and
when any of his descendants chose to take him to task for the
crudeness of his manners he was accustomed to look them coldly over
and retort that things had come to a pretty pass when comparatively
new people ventured to instruct the oldest of the old settlers as to
what was or was not good form. The only person who ever succeeded in
bowling him over on this point was Uncle Zib, hitherto referred to as
the billionaire member of our family, who, after listening to a long
and somewhat supercilious discourse from Adam on the subject of
family, turned like a flash and asked:

"And who pray was your grandfather?"

The old gentleman flushed deeply, and for once was silent, being as I
have already intimated rather sensitive, and therefore inclined to
reticence on the score of his ancestry.

[Illustration: Adam's Dress Chart.]

He took a great deal of pride in his success as a namer of animals,
but as my grandson Noah remarked several hundred years later, it was a
commonplace achievement after all.

"A dog is a dog, and a cat is a cat, and a horse is a horse. Any fool
would know that, so what virtue there was in his calling the beasts by
their real names I don't quite see," said Noah.

I am disposed, however, to give the old fellow the credit that is his
due for making so few mistakes. That he should instantly be able to
tell the difference between a dromedary and a camel without any
previous instruction, strikes me as evidence of a more or less
remarkable intuition, the like of which we do not often find to-day,
and his dubbing that long-eared, four-footed piece of resistant
uselessness the Ass an ass, always seemed to me to be a master
stroke, although my father used to say that his greatest achievement
lay in correctly designating the pig at first sight.

"If there is any animal in the whole category of four-legged creatures
that more thoroughly deserves to be called a pig than the pig, I don't
know what it is. He looks like a pig, he behaves like a pig, and he
eats like a pig--in fact he is a pig, and Adam never did anything
better than when he invented that name and applied it."

The old gentleman was present when my father said that, and his face
flushed with pleasure at his words of praise.

"Thank you, Enoch," he said. "I am rather proud of it, but I think I
did quite as well when it came to the hen. Anything more aptly
answering to the word hen in all its various shades of meaning than
the hen itself I don't know, but it took me a full week to reason the
thing out. It was not until I heard its absurd cackling over the
laying of a strictly fresh egg, strutting about the barn-yard like a
feathered Napoleon Bonaparte, and acting altogether as though she were
the winner of a Twentieth Century Marathon race that it dawned on me
that the creature was a hen, and could never be anything else than a
hen. Mother wished me to call her an omelette, the feminine form of an
om, as she expressed it, but I had already named the rooster, and the
bird seemed so exactly like a rooster that I declined to make any
changes."

"I don't see," put in Uncle Zib at this point, "where you got the word
hen from. That is the wonder of it to my mind."

"Oh," laughed Adam, "that was easy, my dear Zib. I got it from an
inspection of the egg."

"The egg?" demanded Uncle Zib.

"Certainly," replied Adam. "You see the minute I picked up the egg and
looked at it closely, I saw that it was a hen's egg, and there you
are."

After all it seemed very simple.

I have spoken of his abhorrence of dress. He carried this to an
extreme degree and to the end of his life predicted dire things from
the tendency of his descendants toward sartorial display. I shall
never forget the lucid fashion in which he presented the situation to
my father once while we were camping out one night on Mount Ararat,
after a day's hunting. He was seated on a woody knoll skinning a
pterodactyl for our supper.

"I tell you, Enoch," he said, "and if you don't mark my words you'll
wish you had, these new fangled notions that are coming along, and
affecting the whole of modern society in respect to what you are
pleased to call dress, are going to result sooner or later in trouble.
I can clearly see even if you cannot, that the new ideas as to clothes
are breeders of extravagance. As things were in my young days anybody
who felt the need of a new costume of one kind or another had only to go
out into the woods and pick it. If your great-great-great-grandmother or
I, for instance, wanted a new Spring suit we'd go hand in hand together
to the orchard, and in the course of a half hour's steady work would fit
ourselves out with a wardrobe that would have made this Queen of Sheba
that the prophets are foretelling, look like thirty clam-shells; and
what is more, a Spring costume was indeed a Spring costume and nothing
else, for it was made of the freshest of the vernal leaves, beautiful in
their early greens, and decorated here and there with a bit of a blossom
that gave the whole a most fetching appearance. And so it was with the
other seasons. For summer we used leaves of the vintage of July and
August, deeper in their green, with the summer flowers for decoration.
Nothing ever so stirred the heart of man as Mother Eve decked out in her
gown of rose leaves, or hollyhocks; and occasionally when we went
travelling together dressed in our suits of hardy perennials, we were
the cynosure of all eyes. In the Autumn the rich red of the maple gave
us an aspect of gayety in respect to our clothes that was most
picturesque; and then when the winter blasts began to blow, our garments
of pine, cedar and hemlock were not only warm, but appropriate and
becoming. It is true that clothes made of hemlock were not altogether
comfortable at first, having some of the prickly qualities of the
hair-shirt, but the very tittilation of the epidermis by their pointed
spills, sharp sometimes as a needle, served to keep our blood in
circulation, and consequently at all times warm and glowing. And it all
cost us nothing more than the labor of the harvest, but now, all is
different. The use of costly fabrics, woven stuffs, silks, satins and
calicos, has introduced an added element of expense into our daily
lives, and all to no useful purpose. Take your Aunt Jerusha, for
instance. Where Mother Eve enjoyed as many different costumes as there
were trees in the country without cost, all of them becoming, and wholly
adequate, your Aunt Jerusha has to be satisfied with three or four gowns
of indifferent fit, made by the village seamstress at an average cost of
thirty or forty dollars apiece. A sheath-gown, costing Jerusha
seventy-five dollars, in the distance, gives no more of an impression in
the matter of figure to an admiring world than your original grandmother
used to make without any further sartorial embellishment than an
ostrich feather in her hair, and as for the men--well, if you see any
value in the change in men's garments over those which prevailed in my
day, you can see what I cannot, and what is going to be the result? The
time will come when tailors' bills will be regarded as a curse. Fathers
of families who, under the scheme of dress invented by myself, could
keep a large number of growing boys appropriately clad, will sooner or
later be forced into bankruptcy by the demands of tailors under these
new methods now coming into vogue. In the train of this will come also a
love of display, and in the course of years you will find men judged not
by the natural stature of their manhood, but by the clothes they wear,
to the everlasting deception of society. By the use of a little expert
padding, building up here and there, a miserable little human shoat will
be able to appear in all the glory of a gladiator. A silk outer garment
will cover the shoddy inner nature of a bit of attleboro humanity so
effectively that you will hardly be able to tell the real thing from the
bogus, and many a man lured into matrimony by the charms of an outward
Venus, will find after marriage that he has tied himself up for life to
a human hat-rack, specially designed by a clever dressmaker, to yank him
from the joys of a contented celibacy into the thorny paths of hymeneal
chaos.

"Nor will it stop here," the old gentleman continued, warming to his
subject. "I prophesy that just as at the present time society looks
with disfavor on me for going around in the simple dress of my early
days, so the time will come when an even more advanced society will
demand the placing of more clothes on top of those that you all wear
now. The outer garments of to-day will become the under-clothes of
some destined to-morrow, and centuries hence a man found walking on
the public highways dressed as you are will be arrested by the police
for shocking the sense of propriety of the community, and so on. It
will go on and on until you will find human beings everywhere decked
out in layer after layer of clothes until he or she has lost all
semblance to that beautiful thing that an all-wise Providence has
designed us to be. Man will wear under-clothes and outer clothes. He
will devise an absurd bit of starch, button-holes and tails called a
shirt, in which doubtless he will screw diamond-studs, and over which
he will wear a resounding waistcoat embroidered with all sorts of
wild-flowers in bloom. Then will come a stiff uncomfortable yoke for
his neck, which he will call a collar, around which he will wind what
he will call a necktie, the only useful purpose of which will be its
value as a danger signal to the rest of mankind, for it will be
through the medium of this addition to the human dress that character
will manifest itself, man being prone unconsciously to show his
strength or weaknesses in the manner of his personal adornment. This
will lead to all sorts of vain exhibitions until it will be with
extreme difficulty that the public will be able to differentiate
between a genuine peacock and an upstart jack-daw, masquerading in a
merry widow hat. Then will come the crowning misdemeanor in men's
clothes which, for want of a better term let us call pants--a pair of
bags sewed together at the top, and designed for no other purpose than
to conceal from the world the character and quality of the wearer's
legs. When that beatific invention arrives your spindle-legged,
knock-kneed imitation of a man will, as far as the public eye is
concerned, find himself on as sure a footing as your very Adonis, and
a person with a comparatively under-developed understanding will be
able to make as good a showing in the world as the man who is really
all there. Like charity, these pants will cover a multitude of shins
that once exposed to the world would at once give warning of the
possessors' fundamental instability. In other words this new style of
dress that our fashionable leaders are now advocating is designed
simply for the purpose of concealing from the world their natural
defects, enabling them to appear for what they are not, and therefore
to deceive, the sure result of which is to be the fostering of vanity,
a love of display, the breeding of snobs, and an impairment of the
average man's purse to such an extent that some day or other tailors'
and dressmakers' bills will become an inevitable item in every
schedule in bankruptcy in the land. Clothes will also breed rags, for
without clothes to grow threadbare and frayed, it is clear that the
raw material of rags and tatters would be lacking, and many a scene of
beggary would be avoided.

"Wherefore, my son," the old man concluded, "let me warn you to set
your face sternly against these modern innovations, and to return to
the plainer, and yet more beautiful habiliments of your sires. Let the
sturdy oak be your tailor; when you need a vernal gown, seek the
spreading chestnut tree and from its upper branches pluck the clothing
that you need, and when drear winter comes upon the scene hie you to
the mountain top, and from the rich stock of Hemlock, Pine and Co.,
Tailors, By Special Appointment To Their Majesties, The Eternal Hills,
gather the sartorial blessings that there await you."



CHAPTER IV

GRANDMOTHER EVE


Very different in almost every imaginable respect from Adam was his
attractive lady, Madame Eve. Indeed, so radically different from each
other were this rather ill-assorted pair that it was always difficult
for us to believe that they were related even by marriage, and I
hesitate to say what I think would have been the outcome of their little
romance had there been any competition for the lady's hand when Adam set
out to win it. I have personally always had a feeling that this first of
hymeneal experiments was rather a marriage of convenience than anything
else, and I have heard my great-great-great-grandmother say that in the
old pioneer days there was very little for a woman to choose from in the
matter of men's society.

"For a long time," she remarked, "Adam was the only man in sight, and
I was a young thing entirely without experience in worldly matters. He
seemed to my girlish fancy to be all that a man should be. His habits
were good. He neither smoked nor drank, cared apparently nothing for
cards, and barring an interest in Discosaurus Racing, had very few
sporting proclivities. We were thrown together a great deal, and
inasmuch as the life in the Garden was a somewhat lonely one, we took
considerable pleasure in each other's society. For myself, I was not
particularly anxious to be married, preferring the free and
independent life of the spinster, but as time went on and we came to
realize that the people of future generations might misunderstand us
and, as people will do, talk about us, we decided that the best way
to avoid all gossip was to announce our engagement, and at the end of
the usual period, settle down together as man and wife. I don't know
that I have ever regretted the step, though I will say that I think it
is undesirable for a young girl to enter too hastily into the
obligations of matrimony, or to marry the first man that comes along,
unless she is absolutely sure that he is the only man she could
possibly endure through three meals a day for the balance of her
life."

It must not be assumed from this little reminiscence of this first
lady in the land that her marriage was an unhappy one. I think, that
as a matter of fact, it was quite the contrary, for subsequent to the
wedding each was too busy with other matters to get thinking either
morbidly or otherwise on the subject of their individual happiness.
They took it as a matter of course, and in the division of labor which
the social conditions of the day involved, found too much to occupy
them to worry over such unimportant abstractions as mere personal
felicity.

"We were spared one of the direst afflictions of modern social life,"
Madame Eve once remarked to my mother, in talking over the old days,
"in the absence of domestic servants from our family circle. Adam was
head of the house, general provider, hired-man, stable-boy,
head-gardener, coach-man, night-watchman and everything else of the
male persuasion on the place; whilst I was cook, laundress, nurse,
housekeeper, manicure, stenographer, and general housemaid, as well as
the mother of the family--a situation that even though it involved us
in no end of hard work, had its compensations. Living off in suburbs
as we did, you can have no idea of what a comfort it was to us not to
be at the mercy of a cook who would threaten to leave us every time
anything happened to displease her, such as an extra meal to be cooked
in emergency cases, or the failure of the cooking-sherry to come up to
the exalted standards of her taste as a connoisseur in wines, and hard
as the housework was, as I look back upon it now, I realize how much
trouble I was spared in not having to follow a yellow-haired fluffy
ruffles about the house all day long cleaning up after her. If there
is anything of the labor-saving device in that modern invention known
as a chambermaid, I don't know where it comes in. I'd rather sweep
three floors, and make twenty-nine beds, every day of my life than put
in one single week trying to get seven cents worth of efficient work
out of a fourteen-dollar housemaid."

At this point I ventured to put in the suggestion that I should have
thought some use could have been made of the monkeys in the matter of
Domestic Service, whereupon the dear lady, who was not nearly so
sensitive on the subject of the Simian family as her husband had
always shown himself to be, patted me on the head, and smiled
indulgently, as she cracked her little joke.

"Monkeys, my dear Methy," she replied, "were always more efficient in
the higher branches. Seriously, however," she went on, "we had that
same idea ourselves, and we tried Simian labor for a while, but it was
far from satisfactory. They were too playfully impetuous, and we had
to give them up as indoor servants. We had a Monkey Butler one season,
and nothing could induce him to serve our dinner in that dignified
fashion in which a dinner should be served. He would pass the soup
with one paw, the fish with the other, while serving the bread with
his tail, and all simultaneously, so that instead of dinner becoming a
peaceful meal, it was at all times, a highly excitable function that
left us all in a state of trembling nervousness when it was over. Try
as we might we could not induce them to do one thing at a time, and
finally when this particular butler, to whom I have referred, instead
of standing as he was instructed to do behind Adam's chair, insisted
on swinging from the chandelier over the center of the table suspended
by his caudal appendage, we decided that we would rather wait on
ourselves."

Asked once if she had not found the primitive life uncomfortable, she
shook her head in a decided negative.

[Illustration: Eve's Scrap Book.]

"There were too many compensations in our freedom from the things that
make your social life of to-day a complex problem," she replied. "In
the first place I never had to worry much over Adam. When he was not
out getting the raw material for our daily meals he was most generally
at home, for the very excellent reason that there was no other place
to go. We hadn't any Clubs to begin with, so that on his way home from
business there was no temptation for him to stop off anywhere and
frivol away his time playing billiards, or squandering his limited
means on rubbers of bridge or other ruinous games. The only Vaudeville
shows we had at the time consisted of the somewhat too continuous
performances of the monkeys and the poll-parrots right there in our
own back-yard, so that that menace to the happy home was entirely
unknown to us, and inasmuch as I was the only cook in all Christendom
at the time, the idea of not coming home to dinner never occurred to
Adam. It is true that at times he criticised my cooking, but in view
of certain ancestral limitations from which he suffered, I never had
to sit quietly and listen to an exasperating disquisition on the Pies
That Mother Used To Make, a line of conversation that in these modern
days has broken up many an otherwise happy home. Socially the time had
its draw-backs, but even in that respect there were advantages. The
fact that we had no next-door neighbors enabled us to live without
ostentation. I have discovered that much of the trouble in the world
to-day arises from a love of showing-off, and of course, if there is
no one about to show-off to, you don't indulge in that sort of
foolishness. Being the only family in the place we were not spurred
into extravagances of living, either because we had to keep up an end
in society, or because we wished to make a better showing than someone
else was making. There was correspondingly no gossip going on all
about us. The absence of society meant that there were no Sewing
Circles anywhere where peoples' reputations were pulled apart while
under-clothes for alleged heathen were put together. Nobody ever
descended upon us at unreasonable hours with unwelcome Surprise
Parties eating us out of house and home and compelling us to stay up
all night dancing the Virginia Reel when we were so sleepy we could
hardly keep our eyes open. We didn't have to give dinners to people we
didn't like, or make calls on persons in whom we took no earthly
interest whatever. There was no question of Woman's Suffrage to make
an everlasting breach between Adam and myself; no church squabbles
over whether the new carpet should be pink or green, and as for
politics, there was not anything even remotely resembling a politic in
the whole broad land. If Adam or I felt the need of a law now and
then, we'd make it, and if it didn't work, we'd repeal it, so that
there were no endless discussions on such subjects, involving hard
feeling, acrimonious correspondence, and an endless chain of Chapters
of the Ananias Club all over creation. And when the children came
along I was permitted to bring them up according to my own ideas,
thanks to the entire absence from the country of inspired old-maids,
and omniscient editors, ceaselessly endeavoring to reduce a natural
maternal function to an arbitrary science. It has been said that I did
not have much to be proud of in the results of my efforts to bring up
my children right, and I suppose that in the case of Cain and Abel I
must admit that I have not; but I am not so sure that things would
have turned out any different if I had reared them after a Fireside
Companion pattern for the making of a panne velvet posterity. I will
go so far as to say that after looking over the comic supplements of
the Sunday Newspapers, I believe Cain would have killed Abel ten years
earlier than he did if he had had the example of the Katzenjammer Kids
and Buster Brown before him in the formative years of his life. So, on
that score, I am comfortable in my mind, much as I regret the
disastrous climax of the lives of those two boys. In connection with
this matter of the bringing up of children I believe, too, that
despite the narrowness of our outlook, the primitive conditions were
better than those which now exist. I never heard of my boys running
loose about town waking up the whole community with their cheers
because their college football team had crippled eleven other boys
from another college for life; and hard to manage as Cain and Abel
were at times, Adam and I never had to put them to bed at five
o'clock in the morning because they had paralyzed their throats at a
college banquet announcing to an exasperated world that they were Sons
of a Gambolier. In fact, the educational problem of those early days
was an educational problem and not a social one. We did not spend our
time teaching boys to speak seventeen languages, without any ideas to
express in any one of them, but went in for the ideas first. We
regarded speech merely as a vehicle for the expression of ideas, and
went at it from that point of view, rather than the other way around
according to modern notions. Cain and Abel didn't have to go to a
military school to learn how to haze each other, and no young man of
that day ever thought of qualifying for his A. B. by compelling
another young man to sip Tabasco sauce through a straw. What they
learned, they learned by experience, and not through the pages of a
book. If we felt it well to teach one of them that water was wet, we
did not subject his young mind to a nine months course of lectures by
a Professor on Hydropathy, but took him out and dropped him in the
duck-pond and let him draw his own conclusions; and when it came to
Botany, we found that either one of them could get a more
comprehensive idea of the habits of growing plants from weeding a
ten-acre lot than he could get out of a four years' course at a
Correspondence School. The result was that when he came to graduate
and go out into the world he was ready for business, and didn't have
to serve as an Office-Boy on a salary of nothing a week for
seventy-five or a hundred years before he was able to earn his own
living."

It surely was an idyllic picture that the dear old lady drew, and I
have often wished myself amid the rush and roar of modern life, that
we might go back to the simpler methods of those Arcadian days.

On the subject of dress, Eve was entirely out of accord with her
husband. She viewed Adam's theories on that subject with toleration,
however, and always laughed when they were mentioned.

"He's just like a man," she smiled. "He really has no objection to
fetching costumes when they are worn by other people. He merely does
not wish to be bothered with such things himself. He has just as much
of an eye for a daintily dressed little bit of femininity as anybody
else, but he is eternally afraid that if I go in for that sort of
thing he will be turned into a lady's maid. The idea of a hook-and-eye
fills him with horror. His eyesight is not as good as it used to be,
and he dreads the notion that if I come out in one of these
new-fangled waists that hook up at the back he will be compelled to
put in an hour or two fastening it up for me every time I put it on,
and I don't blame him. It seems to me that if there is anything in
this world that is unbefitting the glorious manhood of a true
masculine being it is to have to sit down in a chair for an hour
before dinner looking for a half million hooks and eyes, or
cloth-covered buttons and loops, on the back of his wife's gown, and
trying to fasten them up properly without the use of language unsuited
to a lady's ears. When you think that the hand of man was made to
wield the sceptre of imperial power over this magnificent world, it
becomes a gross impropriety to divert it from the path of destiny into
so futile an effort as hooking up a mere bit of fuss, feathers and
fallals. You might just as well hitch up a pair of thoroughbred
elephants to a milk wagon. It will do, as Adam says, for the
Mollycoddle and the meticulous weakling, but never for a real man
worthy of the name. But after all that is no reason why woman should
be shorn of one of her chief glories, and I totally disagree with him
in his condemnation of all clothes just because some of them are
conceived in foolishness. Dresses can be made to button up at the
side, or in front, and when I think of some of the new fall styles
that are coming in I find myself regretting that I am over five
hundred years old, and cannot with strict propriety, go in for them
myself. Take those little chiffon--"

And so the dear old lady went on into an enthusiastic disquisition on
the glories of dress that was so intimately feminine that I hesitate
to attempt to quote her words in this place, knowing little as I do on
the subject, and hardly able myself to tell the difference between a
gimp and a café parfait. I will merely close this chapter by quoting
Eve's last remark on the subject.

"All I can say is," she observed, "that Adam makes a great mistake in
objecting to woman's thinking so much about her clothes, for I can
tell him that if she didn't think about her own clothes she would
begin to think about his, and if that were to happen it wouldn't be
long before all men in creation would be going about looking as if
somebody had picked them off a Christmas tree. In the matter of
clothes woman is the court of last resort, and it is better for men
that she should concentrate all her attention on herself!"

Incidentally let me add that when someone once asked Eve if she hadn't
often wished she had been a man, she replied:

"Lord no! In that case there would have been two of us, and goodness
knows one was enough!"



CHAPTER V

SOME NOTES ON CAIN AND ABEL


My acquaintance with my great-uncles, Cain and Abel, was not
particularly intimate and in later years they are seldom spoken of by
members of the family for reasons sufficiently obvious to need no
mention here. Every family must sooner or later develop an undesirable
or two, and on the whole I think that we have done tolerably well in
having up to this time only one portrait in our Rogues' Gallery. Just
what has become of Cain no one at this writing is aware, but wherever
he is I hope when these memoirs of mine are published he will read
them far enough to note that one member of the family at least holds
him in pleasant recollection for the fun he has afforded him in the
past. The two first boys of creation were not bad fellows at all,
although as was natural, their bringing up resulted in a general
condition of pure cussedness that at times became appalling to their
parents. The fact that there had never been any other boys in the
world before placed Adam and Eve at a considerable disadvantage in
rearing these two youngsters. There were no precedents to go by, and
as a consequence the lads were permitted to do a good many things that
our modern boys would not dream of doing. There were no schools to
send them to, and no Sunday Newspapers with Woman's Pages to instruct
Eve in the Complete Science of Motherhood, so that when Cain and Abel
came along to bless the world with their presence, neither their
father nor their mother knew what on earth to do with them. Then,
too, Eve's household duties were such that they very nearly absorbed
all her time, and for years the youthful scions of this first family
in the land were left to the tender mercies of a kindly old Gorilla
who, however amiable and willing she may have been, was hardly the
kind of person a modern mother would choose as an influence in the
formative years of her children's development. I am quite aware that
in some sections of the country to-day this oldtime custom of leaving
the young to the care of servants still prevails, and in some cases it
has its distinct advantages considering the moral characteristics of
the parents who so leave them, but as a social custom to be commended
it is an entire failure, and was adopted by Eve not from choice, but
from necessity. It was not through any desire to shine in society as a
constant attendant at the Five O'Clock teas of her time, or, because
she deemed that her duty lay in trying to secure the alleged
Emancipation of her Sex from imaginary shackles at the expense of her
home life and its responsibilities; or, because she believed that the
primary duty of a mother was to provide her offspring with a maternal
relative who could expound the most abstruse philosophies of the age
with her eyes shut, that led Mother Eve into an apparent neglect of
her children. It was simply the inevitable result of the life of her
time. One can hardly be all that she had to be whether she wanted to
be it or not and at the same time fulfill all the functions of
motherhood. The daily labors of a large ranch such as the world
practically was at that time were of enormous proportions, and with
all due respect to Adam it has always been my profound belief that a
good ninety per cent. of them were performed by Eve. It was she who
had to look after the domestic details of the hour, day in and day
out, while he after the fashion of mankind, led the freer life of the
open. Indeed I have never found that in the matter of manual labor
Adam was in any wise noted. The naming of the animals was a purely
intellectual achievement, and while, of course, he was the provider
when it came to getting in the food supply, I have never observed that
any man yet created ever regarded a day on a trout stream with a fly
and a rod, or a chase through the forest after a venison steak, or a
partridge, as in any way even remotely resembling work. On the
contrary Adam lived the life of a Naturalist and a Nimrod, while Eve
faithfully did the chores. It was inevitable then that the children
when they first came along, should be allowed to grow wild, to
associate with their inferiors, and to become confirmed in habits that
were deplorable and reprehensible. I am entering upon no defense of
my Uncle Cain. I do not excuse his misbehavior in the least, but when
a censorious world holds up its hands in holy horror whenever he is
mentioned, and uses his name as a synonym for evil, I would merely beg
it to remember the lad's bringing up, and to ask itself whether under
similar conditions it would do much better itself. Particularly do I
ask that branch of human society, now growing rather larger than I
like to see it, who are themselves allowing their children to grow up,
not only removed but far away from all parental influences whatsoever,
if they realize that they will have only themselves to blame if they
add to the stock of unfortunates who bear the mark of Cain? Of course,
a woman who would rather play Bridge than rock her baby to sleep would
be a bad influence upon a budding soul at any time, and her child is
to be congratulated when its mother's engagement card is full from
Sunday to Sunday, but even a mother of that sort owes it to society to
see that her place is filled not by any old gorilla from the handiest
intelligence office that comes along as poor Eve was forced into
doing, but by some capable person in whom the love of motherhood rules
as strong as does the passion for the grand-slam in her own breast.

[Illustration: Cain's Inspiration]

But enough of this moralizing! I had not meant to preach a sermon, and
it is only because I see so many wistful little faces of motherless
youngsters around me day after day--Social Orphans, whose mothers have
not gone to Heaven, but to Mrs. Grundy's; children who with the
qualities of service in their souls are treading dangerously near to
the footsteps of the original scapegrace for lack of attention; that I
have been led into this garrulous homily. It must not be supposed,
either from what I have said that there was never any discipline in
the Home of Adam and Eve. Later on there came to be a lot of it, and I
am not sure that its excesses in later periods were not as evil in
their influence as its utter lack at a time when ten minutes with the
hair-brush would have done Cain more good than ten years in the county
jail.

To the world at large these two boys are interesting because of the
fact that they introduced humor into the world. Adam never had any,
and Eve, as we have seen, was rather too busy to joke, but not so with
the youngsters, who, doubtless from their constant association with
the monkeys bubbled over with a kind of fun that though necessarily
primitive, was quite appealing. It was Cain who invented that immortal
riddle, "When is a door not a door?" the true answer being, "when it
is a bird." This is as far as I have been able to discover the first
thing in the nature of a joke ever known on this planet, though
whether it was the one that made the original Hyena laugh I have not
been able to ascertain. It is a joke that has appeared in modified
form many times since. Even that illustrious pundit, Senator Chauncey
M. DeMagog uses it as his most effective peroration at this season's
public banquets. I heard him myself get it off at The Egyptian Society
Dinner last month, as well as at the Annual Banquet of The Sons and
Daughters of the Pre-Adamite Evolution, the month before, changing the
answer, however, to "when it's a jar"--which I personally do not
consider an improvement, for when a door becomes a jar I must confess
I cannot see. A jar, as I understand it, is a vessel, a receptacle, a
jug, a sort of demijohn, or decanter that people use to store up
water, or to keep the juice of the grape in, like a pitcher, or an
amphora; and how by any stretch of the imagination a door could become
such a thing is beyond my ken, although I must say that the jest when
told by the Senator in his own inimitable way, was received with
shouts of laughter every time he got it off. For my own part I think
that Cain's version is infinitely more humorous and instructive as
well, because a "door is not a door" when it is a "daw," which is,
indeed, as Cain's answer to the riddle claims it to be, a bird. It is,
of course, a great compliment to Cain that the Senator and a hundred
others I might name like him should go back to him for their humor,
but I think they would do better if they took his jests exactly as
they found them instead of trying to improve them to their
destruction.

I find also in our family records that it was Abel who first asked the
question, "Why is an elephant like an oyster? Because it cannot climb
a tree," a jest that similarly to Cain's riddle, possesses not only
true humor but is at the same time educational, as the best humor must
always be, in that it teaches the young certain indubitable facts in
the Science of Natural History, viz., that neither the pachyderm nor
the bivalve, in common with several other carnivorous botanical
specimens, is gifted similarly to the squirrel, the ant, or the
grizzly bear.

Mother Eve, who always took a naïve delight in the droll sayings of
her offspring, used to tell with great glee of Cain's persistent habit
of asking questions of his father, some of which used to tax all the
old gentleman's powers of invention to answer intelligently. One of
these that I recall most vividly was as follows:

"Say, Pa," said Cain, one Saturday afternoon, when the whole family
were off on a picnic together, "did you have any sisters?"

"No, my son," replied Adam, plucking a bottle of olives from a
neighboring tree, and placing them on the outspread table-cloth on the
grass.

"Well, did Ma have any sisters?" persisted Cain.

"No," said Adam. "Your mother had no sisters, either. Why do you ask?"

"Oh, nothin'," replied the lad with a puzzled expression coming over
his face as he scratched his back. "I was just wonderin' where the
Ants came from."

       *       *       *       *       *

It was Abel on the other hand who asked his father why he had not
named the male ants uncles, a question that to this day has not been
satisfactorily answered. Indeed I have frequently found myself
regretting that there was nobody at hand to ask Adam these very
pertinent questions earlier in his life, and before it was too late
to instil in his mind the idea that a little more consistency would be
desirable in his selection of names for the creatures he was called
upon to christen. Zoölogy might have been a far simpler science in the
matter of nomenclature than it is now ever likely to become, had Adam
been surrounded at the beginning with inquiring minds like those of
Cain and Abel, not necessarily to dispute his conclusions or his
judgments, but to seek explanations. Why, for instance, should a
creature that is found chiefly on the Nile, and never under any
circumstances on the Rhine, be called a Rhinoceros? And why should a
Caribou be called a Caribou entirely irrespective of its sex? There
are Caribou of both sexes, when we might have had Caribou for one and
Billibou for the other, and yet Adam has feminized the whole Bou
family with no apparent thought about the matter at all. Then there
is the animal which he called the Bear. He is not bare at all--on the
contrary he wears the shaggiest coat of all the animals, except
possibly the Buffalo, who, by the way, is not buff, but a rather dirty
dull brownish black in color. The Panther does not wear pants, and the
Monkey far from suggesting the habits of a Monk is a roystering,
philanderous old rounder that would disgrace a heathen temple, much
less adorn a Monastery. And finally if there is anything lower than a
Hyena, or less coy than a Coyote, I don't know what it is.

There is considerable evidence in Mother Eve's Garden Book, in which
she jotted down now and then little notes of her daily life that most
of these points, or at least similar ones, were brought to Adam's
attention at one time or another by his sons, and not always in a way
that was pleasing to him. Indeed, as we read these notes we observe a
growing tendency on Adam's part to be irritated by the enquiries which
seem to have formed an inevitable part of the family conversation. At
random I select the following:

_August 3rd_, 5569. Cain spanked and put to bed without his supper for
asking his father why he had not called the male Kangaroo a
Kangarooster.

_September 5th_, 5567. Cain sentenced to the wood-pile for four hours
for enquiring of Adam why he called the Yak a Yak when everybody knew
he looked more like a Yap. Adam is getting very nervous under this
persistent questioning.

_January 4th_, 5565. Adam has just retired to the wood-shed with poor
Abel on what he termed a "whaling-expedition," to explain why he had
named the elephant of the sea a whale instead of a sealephant. I
judge from Abel's blubbering that his father is giving him an object
lesson in the place where it is most likely to impress itself forcibly
on his understanding, though I must say I think the child's idea a
rather good one, and I often wish my dear husband would not be so
sensitive on the subject of his possible mistakes.

_May 25th_, 5563. Adam has forbidden the children to ask any more
questions about the names of the animals, Cain having exasperated him
by asking how much a guinea was worth.

"About five dollars," said Adam.

"Gee!" cried Cain. "You must have got stung on the guinea-pigs, then.
They're dear at a dollar a dozen."

       *       *       *       *       *

It may interest modern readers who seem to have created a demand for
what is known as the Mother-in-Law joke that this style of humor
found its origin in an early remark of Abel's, if his mother's Diary
is to be believed. A visitor once interrupted him in the midst of a
ball game that he was playing with Cain and a number of his Simian
friends, to ask him how his grandmother was.

"Never had one," replied Abel, with a grin.

"Poor boy," sympathized the visitor. "And don't you wish you had?"

"Yes," said Abel. "I think a Mother-in-Law around the house would have
done Pa good!"

I will close my remarks concerning these famous boys with a little
poem which their mother had clipped from an Egyptian paper and pasted
in her book. It seems to me to be a pretty accurate picture of two
very interesting figures in our family history.

    I don't suppose that Cain and Abel
    Were very mannerly at table.
    From what I've read by those that knew 'em
    They'd speak when none had spoken to 'em,
    And in a manner unbefittin'
    Upon their shoulders they'd be sittin',
    And sundry dinosaurs be treating
    With scraps the while themselves were eating.
    I fear they smacked their lips while pickin'
    The bones of tarpon and spring chicken,
    And each the other would be hazin'
    To see who got the final raisin.
    The notion in my brain-pan lingers
    They ate their flapjacks with their fingers--
    Not that their mother fair assented,
    But knives and forks were not invented.
    When there was pie, I fear they grabbed it,
    Unless their Pa'd already nabbed it;
    And that in fashion most unmoral
    O'er cakes and puddings they would quarrel.
    I don't believe that either chapkin
    E'er thought at lunch to fold his napkin,
    And if one biscuit graced the platter
    'Twas ever less than fighting matter,
    Or if they'd beans--no doubt they had 'em--
    They failed to snap a few at Adam.
    I fear me as they ate their salade
    They hummed some raw primeval ballad,
    And when the Serpent came to dinner,
    They made remarks about the sinner.
    No doubt they criticised the cooking
    And hooked the fruit when none was looking,
    And when they'd soup--O my! O Deary!
    The very notion makes me weary.
    About these youngsters let's stop writing
    And turn to subjects more inviting!

I have never been able to ascertain the authorship of this poem, but
if the poet ever sees this I hope he will be glad to know that I
heartily agree with Mother Eve's memorandum written underneath the
clipping in her book,

"I guess this scribe has had boys of his own!"



CHAPTER VI

HE CONFESSES TO BEING A POET


I do not know whether it is a part of the programme mapped out for me
that I am to live forever or not, and I realize the danger that a man
runs in writing his memoirs if he put aught down in them which shall
savor of confession. They say that confession is good for the soul,
but I have not yet discovered anybody who was profited by it to any
material extent. On the contrary, even the virtuous have suffered from
it, as witness the case of my dear old Uncle Zekel. In his extreme
youth Zekel went out one summer's day, the call of the wild proving
too much for his boyish spirit, and ere night fell had done a certain
amount of mischief, although intrinsically he came nearer to being a
perfect child than anyone yet known to the history of the human race.
Thoughtlessly the lad had chopped down one of his father's favorite
date trees, the which when his father observed it, caused considerable
consternation.

"Who did this thing?" he cried angrily, summoning the whole family to
the orchard.

"Father," said Zekel, stepping forward, pale, but courageous, "I
cannot tell a lie, I did it with my little tomahawk."

"Very well, my son," said the old gentleman, pulling a switch from the
fallen tree, and seizing Zekel by the collar, "in order to impress
this date more vividly upon your mind, we will retire to the barn and
indulge in a little palmistry."

Whereupon he withdrew with Zekel from the public gaze and
administered such a rebuke to the boy that forever afterwards the
mere association of ideas made it impossible for Zekel to sit under a
palm tree with any degree of comfort.[2]

[Footnote 2: Editor's Note: It is very interesting to find this story
in the Memoirs of Methuselah owing to its marked resemblance to an
anecdote related of General Washington, in which the youthful father
of his country is represented as having acted in a like manner upon a
later occasion.]

I realize, however, that in writing one's memoirs one should not
withhold the truth if there is to be any justification in the eyes of
posterity for their existence, so I am not going to conceal anything
from my readers that has any important bearing upon my character. Let
me therefore admit here and now, apropos of the charming lines with
which my last chapter was brought to a close, that I have myself at
times written poetry. It is the lamentable fact that in this day and
generation poets are not held in that high esteem which is their due.
We have unfortunately had a number of them in this vicinity of late
years who have not been any too particular about paying their board
bills, and whether their troth has been plighted to our confiding
maidens, or to our trustful tailors, the result has been the
same--they have not been conspicuously present at the date of maturity
of their promises. One very distinguished looking old gentleman in
particular, who registered from Greece, came here several centuries
ago and secured five hundred subscriptions to his book of verses,
collected the first instalment, and then faded from the scene and
neither he nor his verses have been heard from since. The consequence
has been that when any of the young of this community show the
slightest signs of poetic genius their parents behave as though the
measles had broken out in the family, and do all they can spiritually
and physically to stamp out the symptoms. My cousin Aminidab indeed
went so far while he was in the Legislature here, to introduce a bill
making the writing of poetry a misdemeanor, and ordering the police
immediately to arrest all persons caught giving way in public or
private to an inspiration. The bill only failed to become a law by the
expiration of the session before it had reached its final reading. It
may be readily imagined, therefore, why until this I have never
acknowledged my own proneness to expressing myself in verse. Only two
or three of my most intimate friends have been aware of the tendency,
and they have been so ashamed of it that as my friends they have
sought rather to suppress than to spread the report.

I quite remember the consternation with which my first effort was
received in the family. Father Adam had been reminiscing about the
Garden Days, and he had made the remark that when some of the animals
came up to be christened they were such extraordinary looking
creatures he was afraid they were imaginary.

"Take the Ornithorhyncus, for instance," he said, "and the Discosaurus
Carnegii--why, when they came ambling up for their tickets I could
hardly believe my eyes, and I turned to Eve and asked her with real
anxiety, whether or not she saw anything, and, of course, her answer
reassured me, but for a minute I was afraid that the grape-juice we
had had for lunch was up to its old tricks."

This anecdote amused me tremendously, for I had myself thought the
Discosaurus about the funniest looking beast except the shad, I had
ever seen, and I promptly constructed a limerick which I handed over
to my father. It ran this way:

    There was an old fellow named Adam,
    Who lived in the Garden with Madam.
      When the critters they came
      All demanding a name
    He thought for a minute he "had 'em!"

I don't think I shall ever forget the result of my father's horrified
reading of the lines. All my grandfathers back to Adam himself were
there, and wrath, fear, and consternation were depicted on every
countenance when the last line was delivered, and then every eye was
turned on me. If there had been any way of disappearing I should have
faded away instantly, but alas, every avenue of escape was closed, and
before I left the room each separate and distinct ancestor had turned
me over his knee and lambasted me to his heart's content. In spite of
all this discipline, which one would have thought effective enough to
take me out of the lists of Parnassus forever, it on the contrary
served only to whet my thirst for writing, and from that time until
now I have never gotten over my desire to chisel out sonnets,
triolets, rondeaux and lyrics of one kind or another.

One little piece that I recall had to do with the frequency with which
I was punished for small delinquencies. It was called


WHEN FATHER SPANKED ME

    My Father larruped me, and yet
    I could but note his eyes were wet,
      When lying there across his knee
      I got what he had had for me--
    It seemed to fill him with regret.

    "It hurt me worse than you," he said,
    When later on I went to bed,
    And I--the truth would not be hid--
    Replied, "I'm gug-gug-glad it did!"

There were other verses written as I grew older that, while I do not
regard them as masterpieces, I nevertheless think compare favorably
with a great deal of the alleged poetry that has crept into print of
late years. A trifle dashed off on a brick with a piece of charcoal
one morning shortly after my hundredth birthday, comes back to me. The
original I regret to say was lost through the careless act of one of
my cousins, who flung it at a pterodactyl as it winged its flight
across our meadows some years after. I reproduce it from memory.


THE JUNE-BUG

    The merry, merry June-bug
      Now butts at all in sight.
    He butts the wall o' mornings,
      He rams the ceil at night.

    He caroms from the book-case
      Off to the window-pane,
    Then bounces from my table
      Back to the case again.

    He whacks against the door-jamb
      And tumbles on the mat;
    Then on the grand-piano
      He strikes a strident flat;

    Then to the oaken stair-case
      He blindly flops and jumps,
    And on the steps for hours
      He blithely bumps the bumps.

    They say that he is foolish,
      And has no brains. No doubt
    'Tis well for if he had 'em
      He'd surely butt them out.

As I say, this is mere a trifle, but it is none the less beautifully
descriptive of a creature that has always seemed to me to be worthy of
more attention than he has ever received from the poets of our age. I
have been unable to find in the literature of Greece, Egypt or the
Orient, any reference to this wonderful insect who embodies in his
frail physique so much of the truest philosophy of life, and who,
despite the obstacles that seem so persistently to obstruct his path,
buzzes blithely ever onward, singing his lovely song and uttering no
complaints.

[Illustration: Noah brings disgrace upon the family.]

In the line of what I may call calendar poetry, which has always been
popular since the art of rhyming began, none of the months escaped my
attention, but of all of my efforts in that direction I never wrote
anything that excelled in descriptive beauty my


ODE TO FEBRUARY

    Hail to thee, O Februeer!
    It is sweet to have you here,
    Lemon-time of all the year!
    Making all our noses gay
    With the influenziay;
    Flinging sneezes here and yon,
    Rich and poor alike upon;
    Clogging up the bronchial tubes
    Of the Urbans and the Roobs;
    Opening for all your grip
    With its lavish stores of pip;
    Scattering along your route
    Little gifts of Epizoot;
    Time of slush and time of thaw,
    Time of hours mild and raw;
    Blowing cold and blowing hot;
    Stable as a Hottentot;
    Coaxing flowers from the close
    Just to nip them on the nose;
    Calling birdies from their nests
    For to freeze their little chests;
    Springtime in the morning bright,
    With a blizzard on at night;
    Chills and fever through the day
    Like a sort of pousse café;
    Time of drift and time of slosh!
    Season of the ripe golosh;
    Running rivers in the street,
    Frozen toes, and soaking feet;
    Take this wreath of Poesie
    Dedicated unto thee,
    Undiluted stream of mush
    To the Merry Month of Slush!

I preferred always, of course, to be original, not only in the matter
of my thought, but in the manner of my expression as well, but like
all the rest of the poetizing tribe, I sooner or later came under the
Greek influence. This is shown most notably in a little bit written
one very warm day in midsummer, back in my 278th year. It was
entitled


TO PAN IN AUGUST

    I don't wish to flout you, Pan.
    Tried to write about you, Pan.
    Tried to tell the story, Pan,
    Of your wondrous glory, Pan;
    But I can't begin it, Pan,
    For this very minute, Pan,
    All my thoughts are tumid, Pan,
    'Tis so hot and humid, Pan,
    And for all my trying, Pan,
    There is no denying, Pan,
    I can't think, poor sighing Pan,
    Of you save as frying, Pan.

It was after reading the above, when it dropped out of my coat pocket
during one of our visits to the wood-shed, that Adam expressed the
profound conviction that I was born to be hanged, but as I have
already intimated, neither his sense of justice, nor his sense of
humor was notable.

Once in awhile I tried a bit of satire, and when my son Noah first
began to show signs of mental aberration on the subject of a probable
flood that would sweep everything before it, and put the whole world
out of business save those who would take shares in his International
Marine and Zoo Flotation Company, I endeavored to dissuade him in
every possible way from so suspicious an enterprise. Failing to
impress my feelings upon him in one way, I fell back upon an
anonymously published poem, which I hoped would bring him to his
senses. The lines were printed in red chalk on the board fence
surrounding his Ship-Yard, and ran as follows:


MARINE ADVICES

    O Noah he built himself a boat,
      And filled it full of animiles.
    He took along a billie-goat,
      A pug and two old crocodiles.

    A pair of very handsome yaks
      A leopard and hyenas two;
    A brace of tender canvas-backs,
      A camel and a kangaroo.

    A pair of guinea-pigs were placed
      In state-rooms off the main saloon,
    Along with several rabbits chaste,
      A 'possum and a gray raccoon.

    Now all went well upon that cruise,
      And they were happy as could be,
    Until one morning came the news
      That filled old Noah with misery.

    Those guinea-pigs--O what a tide!--
      Were versed in plain Arithmetic;
    The way they upped and multiplied
      Made Captain Noah mighty sick.

    And four days out he turned about,
      And made back to the pier once more
    To rid himself of all that rout,
      And put the guinea-pigs ashore.

    And where there were but two of these
      When starting on that famous trip,
    When they got back from off the seas,
      Three hundred thousand left the ship!

Poor Noah! He took this publication so much to heart that he offered a
reward of a thousand dollars, and a first-class passage on his cruise
to the top of Mount Ararat to any one who could give him the name of
the miscreant who had written the lines, but he has never yet found
out who did them, and until he reads these memoirs after I have
passed away, he will never know from how near home they came.

Finally let me say that in a more serious vein as a Poet I was not
wanting in success--that is in my own judgment. As a mystic poet
nothing better than the following came from my pen:

    O arching trees that mark the zenith hour,
    How great thy reach, how marvellous thy power,
    So lavishly outpouring all thy rotund gifts
    On mortal ways, in superhuman shifts
    That overtax the mind, and vex the soul of man,
    As would the details of some awful plan,
    Jocund, mysterious, complex, and yet withal
    Enmeshed with Joy and Sorrow, as a pall
    Envelops all the seas at eventide, and brings
    New meaning to the song the Robin sings
    When from her nest matutinal she squirms
    And hies her forth for adolescent worms
    With which her young to feed, yet all the time
    With heart and soul laments my dulcet rhyme!

Of this I was naturally quite proud, and when under the title of
"Maternity" I read it once in secret to my Aunt Jerusha, she burst
into tears as I went on, and three days later read it as a New Thought
gem before the Enochsville Society of Ethical Culture. It was there
pronounced a great piece of symbolic imagery, and prediction was made
that some day in some more advanced age than our own, a Magazine would
be found somewhere that would print it. This may be so, but I fear I
shall not live to see it.



CHAPTER VII

THE INTERNATIONAL MARINE AND ZOO FLOTATION COMPANY


I have never yet been quite able to make up my mind with any degree of
definiteness in regard to the sanity of my son Noah. In many respects
he is a fine fellow. His moral character is beyond reproach, and I
have never caught him in any kind of a wilful deception such as many
parents bewail in their offspring, and I know that he has no bad
habits. He has no liking for cigarette smoking, and he keeps good
company and good hours. His sons Shem, Ham and Japhet, are great
favorites with all of us, and as far as mere respectability goes there
is no family in the land that stands higher than his, but the
complete obsession of his mind by this International Marine and Zoo
Flotation Company of his is entirely beyond my comprehension, and his
attempts to explain it to me are futile, because its utter
impracticability, and the reasons advanced for its use seem so absurd
that I lose my temper before he gets half way through the first page
of his prospectus. From his boyhood up he has been fond of the water,
and when the bath-tub was first invented we did not have to drive him
to it, as most parents have to do with most boys, but on the contrary
we had all we could do to keep him away from it. I don't think any one
in my household for five hundred years was able to take a bath on any
night of the week without first having to clear away from the tub the
evidence of Noah's interest in marine matters. Nothing in the world
seemed to delight his spirit more as a child than to fill the tub
full of water, turn on the shower at its fullest speed, and play what
he called flood in it, with a shingle or a chip, or if he could not
find either of these, with a floating leaf. Many a time I have found
him long after he was supposed to have gone to bed sitting on the
bath-room floor singing a roysterous nautical song like "Rocked in the
Cradle of the Deep," or "A Life On the Ocean Wave," while he pushed a
floating soap dish filled with ants, spiders and lady-bugs up and down
that overflowing tub; and later in his life, when more manly sports
would seem to be more to any one's tastes, while his playmates were
out in the open chasing the Discosaurus over the hills, or trapping
Pterodactyls in the bull-rushes, he would go off by himself into the
woods where he had erected what he called his ship-yard, and whittle
out gondolas, canoes, battle-ships, arks and other marine craft day
in and day out until one could hardly walk in the dark without
stubbing his toe on some kind of a boat. I recall once coming upon him
on the farther slopes of Mount Ararat, putting the finishing touches
to as graceful a cat-boat as any one ever saw--a thing that would have
excited the envy of mariners in all parts of the world, but in spite
of my admiration for his handicraft, it worried me more than I can say
when I thought of all the labor he had expended on such a work miles
away from any kind of a water course. It did not seem to square with
my ideas as to what constituted sense.

"It is very beautiful, my son," I observed, after inspecting the
vessel carefully for a few moments. "Her lines are perfect, and the
model indicates that she will prove a speedy proposition, but it seems
to me that you have left out one of the most important features of a
permanently successful sailing vessel."

Noah looked at me patronizingly, and shrugged his shoulders as much as
to inquire what on earth I knew about boat-building.

"If you refer either to the bowsprit or to the flying balloon-jib," he
replied coldly, and acting generally as if he were very much bored,
"you are entirely wrong. This isn't a sloop, or a catamaran, or a
caravel. Neither is it a government transport, an ocean gray-hound, or
a ram. It's just a cat-boat, nothing more."

"No," said I. "I refer to nothing of the sort. I don't know much about
boats, but I know enough to be aware without your telling me, that
this affair is not a battle-ship, tug, collier, brig, lugger, barge or
gravy-boat. Neither is it a dhow, gig or skiff. But that does not
affect the validity of my criticism that you have forgotten an
important factor in her successful use as a sailing craft."

"What is it?" he demanded, curtly.

"An ocean," said I. "How the dickens do you expect to sail a boat like
that off here in the woods, where there isn't enough water to float a
parlor-match?"

He laughed quietly as I advanced this objection, and for the first
time in his life gave evidence of the haunting idea that later took
complete possession of his mind.

"Time enough for that," said he. "There'll be more ocean around here
some day than you can keep off with a million umbrellas, and don't you
forget it."

Somehow or other his reply irritated me. The idea seemed so
preposterously absurd. How on earth he ever expected to get an ocean
out there, half way up the summit of our highest mountain, no sane
person could imagine, and I turned the vials of my wrathful satire
upon him.

"You ought to start a Ferry Company from the Desert of Sahara to the
top of Mount Ararat," I observed, as dryly as I knew how.

"The notion is not new," he replied instantly. "I have already given
the matter some thought, and it isn't impossible that the thing will
be done before I get through. There will be a demand for such a thing
all right some day, but whether it will be a permanent demand is the
question."

It may interest the public to know that it was at this period that I
invented a term that has since crept into the language as a permanent
figure of speech. Speaking to my wife on the subject of the day's
adventure that very evening, after I had expressed my determination to
apply for the appointment of a Commission De Lunatico Enquirendo on
Noah's behalf, she endeavored to quiet my anxiety on the score of his
good sense by saying:

"Don't worry, dear. He is very serious in this matter. He has always
had a great storm in his mind ever since he was a baby."

"I guess it's a brain-storm," I interjected contemptuously, for I
could not then, and I cannot now conceive of any kind of a shower that
will make the boy's habit of building caravels in the middle of
ten-acre lots, and submarines on fifteen-by-twenty fish ponds, and
schooner yachts on mill-dams only three feet deep at high tide a
reasonable bit of procedure.

Occasionally one of my neighbors would call upon me to remark somewhat
critically on this strange predilection of my son, and several of them
advised me to take the matter seriously in hand before it was too
late.

"If you lived on the seaboard, it would be a fine thing to have such
a son," they said, "but off here in the lumber district it would be
far more to the point if he went in for the breeding of camels, or
some other useful vehicle of transportation, instead of constructing
ferry-boats that never can be launched, and building arks in a spot
where the nearest approach to an ocean is a leak in the horse-trough."

I could not but admit that there was justice in these criticisms, but
when it came to the point I never felt that I could justify myself in
interfering with the boy's hobby until it was too late, and the lad
having passed his three hundredth birthday, was no longer subject to
parental discipline. I reasoned it out that after all it was better
that he should be building dories and canal-boats out under the apple
trees, and having what he called "a caulking good time," in an
innocent way, than spending his time running up and down the Great
White Way, between supper-time and breakfast, making night hideous
with riotous songs, as many youths of his own age were doing; and when
our family physician once tried to get him to join a football eleven
at the Enochsville High School in order to get this obsession of a
deluge out of his mind, I was not a little impressed by the
impertinent pertinence of his ready answer.

"No rush-line for mine, Doctor," he said, firmly. "I'd rather have
water on the brain than on the knee."

I had hoped that as the years passed on he would outgrow not only his
conviction of the imminence of a disastrous deluge by which the world
would be overwhelmed, and the predilection for nautical construction
that the belief had bred in him, but alas for all human expectation,
it grew upon him, instead of waning, as I had hoped. Our prosperous
farm was given over entirely to the demands of his ship-yard, and
when his sons, Shem, Ham and Japhet came along he directed all their
education along lines of seamanship. He fed them even in their tender
years upon hard-tack and grog. Up to the time when they were two
hundred years old he made them sleep in their cradles, which he kept
rocking continuously so that they would get used to the motion, and
would be able to go to sea when the time came without suffering from
sea-sickness. All clocks were thrust bodily out of his house, and if
anybody ever stopped at the farm to inquire the time of day he was
informed that it was "twenty minutes past six bells," or "nineteen
minutes of three bells," or some other unmeaning balderdash according
to the position of the sun. When the farmhouse needed painting,
instead of renewing the soft and lovely white that had made it a
grateful sight to the eye for centuries, Noah had it covered with
pitch from roof to cellar, until the whole neighborhood began to smell
like a tar barrel. And then he began his work upon this precious ark
of his--Noah's Folly, the neighbors called it; placed in the middle of
our old cow-pasture, twenty-five miles from the sea; about as big as a
summer hotel, and filled with stalls instead of state-rooms! He
mortgaged the farm to pay the first instalment on it, and when I asked
him how on earth he ever expected to liquidate the indebtedness he
smilingly replied that the deluge would take care of everything that
stood in need of liquidation when the date of maturity came round. He
was even flippant on the subject.

"Don't talk about falling dew," he remarked. "There'll be something
dewing around here before many days that will make you landlubbers
wish your rubbers were eight or nine million sizes larger than the
ones you bought last February; and as for liquidation--well, father
dear, you can take my word for it that when this mortgage of mine is
presented at my office for payment by its present holder there will be
liquid enough around to float a new bond issue in case I can't pay in
spot cash. If that is not satisfactory to my creditors, you still need
not worry. I have a definite fund in mind that will take care of
them."

"That is a relief," said I, innocently. "But may I ask what fund you
refer to?"

"Certainly, father dear," he replied. "I refer to the Sinking Fund
which will be in full working order the minute the deluge arrives."

This was about all the satisfaction I was ever able to get out of my
son on the subject of his Ark, and after two or three hundred years I
stopped arguing with him on the futile extravagance of his course. As
we have seen in the last chapter of my memoirs, I did write a bit of
verse on the subject which made him very angry, but beyond that I did
nothing, and then the great scandal came!

[Illustration: Noah regrets having shipped guinea pigs.]

It was the blackest hour of my life when it came to be rumored in and
about Enochsville that Noah, now grown to independent estate, had
method in his madness, and was about to embark upon a questionable
financial enterprise. One of the yellow journals of the day--for we
had them even then, although they were not put forth from printing
presses, but displayed on board fences in scare-head letters six or
eight feet high--one of the yellow journals of the day, I say, issued
a muck-raking Extra, exposing what it termed _The International Marine
and Zoo Flotation Company_, and most unfortunately there was just
enough truth in the story in so far as its details went, to lend
color to its sensational accusations. It could not be denied, as was
stated in _The Enochsville Evening Gad_, that Noah had built a large,
unwieldy vessel of his own designing in the old pasture up back of our
Enochsville farm, miles away from tide-level. That it resembled what
_The Gad_ called a cross between a cow-barn and a Lehigh Valley
Coal-Barge, was evident to anybody who had merely glanced at it. But
what was its apparent purpose? asked the reporter of _The Gad_. Stated
to be the housing of a menagerie during a projected cruise of
forty-odd days! "What philanthropy!" ejaculated the editor of _The
Gad_. What a kindly old soul was the projector of this wonderful
enterprise, that he should take a couple of tired old elephants off on
a Mediterranean trip out of the sheer kindness of his heart! Was it
not the acme of generosity for a man who had lately been so hard up
that he had mortgaged his farm to go to the expense of building a
huge floating barge on which the gorillas, giraffes, and rhinoceri of
the land, having lately shown signs of enfeebled health, might take a
winter's trip to the Riviera, or to the recuperative sands of the
Sahara?

The article was indeed a scathing arraignment, a masterpiece of
ridicule, but as it went on it became even worse, for it now got down
to the making of serious charges against my son's integrity.

"Such are the alleged purposes of this project," said _The Gad_. "Let
us now consider its real purpose, far more insidious than any one has
hitherto suspected, but which is now seen to be that of _separating
the widows and orphans of this land from their accumulated savings_,
and diverting them into the _pockets of Noah and his family_!"

I thought I should sink through the floor when this met my eyes, and
I was appalled when I read on and realized how many thousands of
people would believe the plausible tale of villany _The Gad_ had
managed to construct out of a few innocent facts. Noah's plan was in
brief stated to be a scheme for the impoverishment of innocent
investors, by selling them shares of stock, both common and preferred,
in his International Marine and Zoo Flotation Company. According to
the writer of this infamous libel, immediately the vessel was finished
at a cost of about $79.50, it was Noah's intention to incorporate his
enterprise with himself as President and Treasurer, and Shem, Ham and
Japhet as his Board of Directors, the capital being placed at the
enormous sum of $100,000,000.

"This capitalization," said the exposure, "will be divided into fifty
millions of preferred stock, and fifty millions of common, all of
which will be sold to the public at par; subject to a first mortgage
already existing, and held by Noah and his sons, which it is intended
to foreclose, and the company reorganized, the minute the $100,000,000
of the public's money has passed into the treasurer's hands.

"Talk about your _deluge_!" continued the article. "This is indeed the
biggest thing in _deluges_ this little old world has ever known. The
Preadamite Steel Trust is a dewdrop alongside of it. Noah gets the
_salvage_, but the _people_ get the _water_!"

       *       *       *       *       *

Such was the attitude of the public toward my son's great project, and
all I could ever get him to say in reply to these and other equally
nefarious charges was, while he had intended to have quarters for
every kind of beast on board his boat, he had now definitely decided
to leave out Mastodons, Muck-Rakers and Yellow Journalists!

Verily there seems to be some foundation to the belief that devotion
to the life of a seaman makes a man callous to assaults on his
personal reputation!



CHAPTER VIII

ON THE EXTINCTION OF THE MASTODON


The recent visit of King Ptush to our wild districts in search of a
fresh hunting-ground for himself and his son, Prince Ptutt, brought
about a very serious condition of affairs in respect to the mastodon,
or what some persons refer to as the Antediluvians. This most
distinguished personage, wearying of the affairs of state in his own
land, gave over the reins of government for a while to his Grand
Vizier, and on behalf of the Nimrodian Institution, a Museum of
Natural and Unnatural History in his own capital city, came hither to
study the fauna and flora of our district, and incidentally to take
back with him a variety of stuffed specimens of our more conspicuous
wild beasts for exhibition purposes. Entirely unaware of His Majesty's
unerring aim in hitting large surfaces at short range, we welcomed him
cordially to our midst, and rather unwisely presented him with the
freedom of the jungle, a ceremony which carried with it the privilege
of bagging anything he could hit with his slungshot, in season or out
of it. The results of His Majesty's visit were appalling, for he had
not been with us more than six weeks before his enthusiasm getting the
better of his sportsmanship he turned the jungle into a zoological
shambles, from which it is never likely to recover. On his first day's
outing, to our dismay he brought down thirty-seven ring-tailed
ornithorhyncusses, eighteen pterodactyls, three brace of dodo, and a
domesticated diplodocus, and then assured us that he didn't know what
could be the matter with his aim that he had missed so many. The next
day he rose early, and while the rest of his suite were sleeping went
out unattended, returning before breakfast was over with a tally-card
showing a killing of thirteen dinosaurs, twenty-seven megatheriums,
and about six tons of chlamy-dophori, not to mention a mammoth
jack-rabbit that some idiot had told him was the only specimen in the
world of the monodelphian mollycoddle. The situation became very
embarrassing to us because we were on excellent terms with King Ptush
and his subjects, and we did not wish to do anything to offend either
of them, but here was a case where in the interests of our own fauna
something had to be done. Going on at the rate in which he had begun
it was easy to see that unless somebody got out an injunction
restraining him from shooting between meals it would not be many days
before there wasn't a prehistoric beast left in the whole country. It
was a mighty ticklish position for all of us. If we withdrew the
freedom of the jungle His Majesty might go home in a huff and declare
war against us, and with Noah's Ark as the sum total of our navy, and
that built in a ten-acre lot thirty miles from the coast, and no army
of any sort standing or sitting, we could hardly afford a complication
of that kind. Our wisest counsellors were called together to consider
the situation, but they were all men given to many words and lovers of
disputation, so that what with the framing of the original resolution,
and the time consumed in debating the amendments offered thereto, it
was quite three months before any definite conclusion was reached, and
it was then found when the resolution came up to its final vote that
it had nothing whatever to do with the subject the conference was
called to discuss, but had been transformed into an Act providing for
an increased duty on guinea-pigs imported from Sumatra. From that day
to this I have had little belief in that kind of popular government
which provides for the election of public servants whose chief end and
aim seems to be to thwart the public will.

[Illustration: EXTRA!!]

It was then that my fellow-citizens, availing themselves of a certain
diplomacy of method which I was said to possess, called upon me to
undertake a personal interview with King Ptush, and to see what could
be done to stay his voracious appetite for the slaying of our
mammalia. Always ready to serve my fellows in their hour of need, I
undertook the mission, and appeared bright and early one morning at
his encampment, unannounced, thinking it better to seem to happen in
upon him in a neighborly fashion than to make a national affair of my
mission by coming formally and with official pomp into his presence.
At the hour of my arrival the great king was standing on the stump of
a red cedar, delivering a lecture to his entourage upon "The Whole
Duty of Man, With a Few Remarks About Everything Else." But even then
he was not neglectful of his opportunities as a Nimrod, for every now
and then he would punctuate his sentences with a shot at a casual bit
of fauna passing by, either on the earth or flying, never pausing in
his lecture, but nevertheless bringing to an untimely end thirty-eight
griffins, seven paralellopipedon, a gumshurhynicus, forty google-eyed
plutocratidæ, and a herd of June-bugs grazing in a neighboring
pasture--the latter wholly domesticated, by the way, and used by their
owner as spile-drivers for a dike he was building in apprehension of
Noah's predicted flood. It was then that I began to get some insight
into the character of this wonderful person, for as I sat there
listening to his discourse, delivered at the rate of five hundred
words a minute, and apparently covering seven or eight subjects not
necessarily corollary or collateral to each other, at once, and
watched him simultaneously bringing down with unerring aim this
tremendous bag of game, something of the man's intrinsic nature was
revealed to me. His strength, of which we had heard much from
travelers in his own land, lay in an almost scientific lack of
concentration, backed up by a vocabulary of tremendous scope, and a
condition of optical near-sightedness that enabled him to see but
obscurely further than the end of his nose. These attributes gave him
the power to discuss innumerable subjects coeternally, if not
coherently, using his vocabulary with such skill that his meaning
depended entirely upon the interpretation of his remarks by individual
hearers, while the limitations of vision caused him, on the sudden
appearance of masses of any sort, to shoot at them impulsively,
regardless of such minor details as consequences. As a result of these
gifts he was ever hitting something with either the arrows of speech
or the slungshot, which produced a public impression of ceaseless
activity and of material accomplishment. In addition to this it was
his wont to do all things smiling with an almost boyish manifestation
of pleasure, so that he endeared himself to the people and was
pronounced in some respects likeable even by his enemies.

When his lecture was over he descended from his improvised platform
and greeted me most cordially.

"Deeee-lighted!" was the exact word he used as he took my hand and
shook it until my arm worked indifferently well in its socket.

I was not aware that His Highness had ever heard of me before, but it
was not long before I was more than glad that I had come, for it
transpired that I was the one person in all creation that he had most
wished to meet, though for what particular purpose he did not make
clear. In any event, so cordial was his reception of me that for three
or four weeks I had not the heart to mention the particular object of
my mission, and even then I was not permitted to do so because at any
time when I felt that the psychological moment had been reached he
would talk of other things, his scientific lack of concentration of
which I have already spoken enabling him with much grace to be
reminded of an experience in the Transvaal by a chance allusion of my
own to the peculiar habits of the Antillean Sardine. In the meanwhile
the work of slaughter was going on apace, and whole species were
gradually becoming extinct. Exactly five weeks after my arrival the
last Diplodocus in the world breathed its last. Two days later the
world's visible supply of Pterodactyls passed into the realms of the
annihilated. The Dodo, the largest and sweetest song-bird I have ever
known, the only bird in all the primeval forests possessed of a
diaphragm capable of expressing harmonies of what for want of a better
term I may call a Wagnerian range, quickly followed suit, and in its
train, alas! went the others, Creosauri, Dicosauri, Thracheotomi,
Megacheropodæ, Manicuridæ, and the Willumjay, the latter a gigantic
parrot with a voice like silver that rang continuously through the
forests like a huge fire bell. At the end of the tenth week of my
mission a message was received from Noah.

    "Dear Grandpa," he wrote: "Can't you do something to stave
    off King Ptush? In making up my passenger-list I can't get
    hold of enough mammals to fill an inside room. I have been
    through the country with a fine-tooth comb, and as far as I
    can find out there isn't a prehistoric beast left in
    creation. If this thing goes on much longer I shall be
    compelled to load up with a cargo of coon-cats, armadillos,
    hippopotami and Plymouth rocks. Get a move on!

    "NOAH."

My first impulse was to hand this letter without a word to His
Majesty, but on second thoughts I decided not to do this, since it
might involve me in a humiliating explanation of my grandson's foolish
obsession about the impending flood. I had too much pride to wish
King Ptush to know that I had a human brain-storm on the list of my
posterity, so I threw the brick upon which the letter was engraved
into a neighboring fish-pond, and resolved to get rid of His Majesty
by strategy. For three nights I pondered over my plan of operations,
and then the great method came to me like the dawning of the sun after
a night of abysmal darkness. I went to the royal tent and discovered
His Majesty hard at work chiseling out an article on "How I Brought
Down My First Proterosaurus" on a slab of granite he had brought with
him. As I approached he smiled broadly, and with a wave of his hand
called my attention to the previous day's bag. It covered a ten-acre
lot.

"There isn't sawdust enough in creation to stuff half of these
beasts," he remarked proudly. "I hardly know what I shall do about
that."

"Better bury them in the mud," I suggested, "and let them petrify."

He seemed pleased with the idea, and later put it into operation.

"Fossils are not so susceptible to moths," he observed as he gave
orders for their immersion in a Triassic mud-puddle of huge
proportions. "That was a good idea of yours, Methuselah."

"I have a better one than that," I returned, seeing at last an opening
for my strategic movement. "Why should a man of Your Majesty's prowess
waste his time on such insignificant creatures as these, when the
whole country is ringing with complaints of an animal a thousand times
as large, and that no one hereabouts has ever dared attempt to
pursue?"

He was on the alert instantly.

"What animal do you refer to?" he demanded, his interest becoming so
deep that he put four pairs of eyeglasses upon his royal nose, so that
he could see me better.

"It belongs to the family of Rodents," I replied. "It is without any
exception the biggest rat in the history of our mammals. It is a
combination of the Castoridæ, the Chinchillidæ, the Dodgastidæ, and
the Lagomydian Leporidæ, with just a dash of the Dippydoodle on the
maternal side."

His Majesty gave a sigh of disappointment, and resumed his writing.

"I haven't come here to shoot rats," he observed coldly, removing the
three extra pairs of spectacles from his nose. "I am a huntsman, not a
trapper."

"Your Majesty does not understand that this is no ordinary rat," I
returned calmly. "If I may be permitted to continue, what would Your
Highness think of a rat that was several thousand feet higher than
the pyramids, that has lived continuously for thousands of years, and
is as fresh and green in spirit as on the day it was born? Suppose I
were to tell you that so great is its strength that I have myself seen
a whole herd of aboriginal elephants lying asleep upon its broad back?
What would you say if I told you that its epidermis is so thick that
if there were such a thing as a steam-drill in creation six hundred of
them could bore away at it night and day for as many years without
making any visible impression thereon?"

He again put down his chisel, and laid the hammer aside, as he ranged
the extra eyeglasses along the bridge of his nose.

"Colonel Methuselah," he said, incisively biting off his words, "if
you told me anything of the kind I should say that you are what
posterity will probably call a nature faker, and one of a
perniciously invidious sort."

"I can bring affidavits to prove it, Your Majesty," said I.

"It is strange that I have never heard of it before," he mused.

"We are not particularly proud of it," I explained. "One may boast of
the number of Discosauri one finds in one's hunting preserves, or the
marvelous fish in one's lakes, or the birds of wondrous plumage that
dwell in one's forests, but none ever ventures to speak of the number
or quality of rats that infest the locality."

"You say it overtops a pyramid?" he demanded.

"I do," I replied. "The exact estimate of its height is sixteen
thousand nine hundred and sixty-four feet!"

"Great Snakes!" he cried. "Why, he must be a perfect mountain!"

"He is," I replied. "He is so tall that summer and winter the top of
his head is covered with snow."

This was too much for King Ptush. He rose up immediately from his seat
and summoned his entourage.

"You will make ready for a strenuous afternoon," he said to them
sharply. "I am going after the biggest game that history records.
Colonel Methuselah has just told me of a quarry alongside of which all
that we have landed in the past months sinks into insignificance."

"You do well to call it a quarry," I cried. "There never was a
better--and it is only ten miles from here as the griffin flies."

The king's face flushed with joy at the prospect, but suddenly a look
of perplexity came into his eyes.

"By the way," he said, "how shall we bring him down--with a slungshot
or a catapult?"

[Illustration: Gr't. Gr't. Gr't. Grandfather Adam as a
disciplinarian.]

I laughed.

"No ordinary ammunition will serve Your Majesty's purpose here," I
said. "The only thing for you to do is to steal quietly up to him
while he sleeps. Surround him in the silence of some black night, and
build a barbed-wire fence around him. Once you succeed in doing this
he will not try to get away, and you can have him removed at Your
Majesty's pleasure."

"We go at once," cried the king, his enthusiasm aroused to the highest
pitch. "My friends," he added, drawing himself up to the full of his
soldierly height, "we go to capture the--the--the er--by the way,
Colonel, what do you call this creature?"

"The Ararat," I replied.

He repeated the word after me, sprang lightly into the saddle of
Griffin we had presented to him upon his arrival, and, followed by
his entourage, was off on the greatest hunt of his life. What happened
subsequently we never knew, for none of the party ever returned; but
what I do know is that my stratagem came too late.

A subsequent investigation of our preserves showed that all our
treasured mastodons from the Jurassic, Triassic, and other periods of
history, had been killed off, root, stock and branch, by our honored
guest, and poor Noah was reduced to the necessity of drumming up trade
among such commonplace creatures as the Rhinoceri, the Yak, the
Dromedary, and that vain but ornamental combination of fuss and
feathers known as the Hen.

The Ararat we still have with us, and as for me, I am inclined to
think that it will remain, flood or no flood, for any creature that
has successfully withstood a campaign against it by King Ptush cannot
be removed from the scene by anything short of a convulsion of
Nature.



CHAPTER IX

    (This Chapter of the Autobiography of Methuselah is made up
    entirely of fragments. The manuscript of the preceding
    chapters was found in fine condition, and entirely
    unobliterated by the passage of the centuries since it was
    written, but beginning at this point cracks appear, and in
    some places such complete fractures as make the continuity of
    the narrative impossible. The fragments have been as
    carefully deciphered as the complete chapters, however, and
    are here presented for what they are worth.)

AS TO WOMEN


The position of woman among us will doubtless prove of interest to
posterity. Our matrimonial laws are not all that they should be, in
my judgment, though there are men who consider them as nearly perfect
as they can be made. The idea that the best way for a young man to
declare his love for a young girl is to hit her on the head with a
wooden club and then run off with her before she regains consciousness
has never received my approval, and never will. Something should be
left for the post-nuptial life, and I cannot see how after it has been
used as an instrument of courtship a club can take its place as it
ought to as an instrument of discipline in the household. My own wives
I have invariably caught in a trap, so that later on in life, when I
have found it desirable to emphasize my authority in my home by means
of a stout stick, that emblem of power has had no glamor about it to
weaken its force as an argument.... Then as to the number of wives
that a man should be permitted to have, I am in distinct disagreement
with the majority of my neighbors, who maintain that it is entirely a
matter of individual choice as to whether a man should have five, ten
or a thousand. I should not advocate the limitation to an arbitrary
number, but I believe that the question of one's actual needs should
rule. If a man's possessions enable him to maintain a large
establishment requiring the services of a cook, a laundress, two
waitresses and four upstairs girls, eight wives would be sufficient;
but on the other hand, for a young man beginning his career who needs
only a general house-worker, one is enough. Individual cases should
regulate the law as applied to the individual, and those who claim
that they may marry any number of women, whether they need them or
not, entirely regardless of whether or not they can keep them
occupied, should be told that no man is entitled to more of the good
things of this life than he can avail himself of in his daily
procedure. Any other course than this will sooner or later result in a
great scarcity of nuptial raw material, and it is not impossible to
conceive of a day when all the women in the land will become the
property of a select, privileged few. A monopoly of this sort would
enable a few men to control posterity and build up a Trust in the
Matrimonial Industry that would engender not only a great deal of
bitter feeling between the masses and the classes, but enforce a
system of compulsory bachelorhood which ... Nevertheless, if woman
wants to vote let her do so. In spite of all that I have just said
about the subtle quality of her intellect, I still say let her vote.
What harm can come from permitting her to go to the polls and drop a
ballot in the box for this or that man, or for this or that measure?
It will please her to be allowed to do this, and by granting her
petition for the suffrage we shall put an end to an otherwise endless
disputation. I am quite sure that as long as her votes are kept
separate from the men's votes, and are _not_ counted, no possible harm
can come from a little complacency in the face of ... Personally I
have no objection to divorce. If a man marries a woman under the
impression that she is a good cook, and after the waning of the
honeymoon finds that she does not know the difference between
sponge-cake and a plain common garden sponge, why should he be forced
forevermore to court dyspepsia on her account? I fail to see either
justice or reason in this, though as to the method of divorce I
cannot agree with those who claim that as the man has married the
woman by hitting her with a club, as I have already shown, the proper
method of divorce is for the woman to return the blow with a
rolling-pin. The proper way to do is for the husband to be permitted
to return the girl to her parents as not up to the specifications, or
if she have no parents to dispose of her at the best bargain possible
to one of his neighbors who may happen to be in need of a girl of that
sort at that particular time.... But these Newport separations, as I
believe they are called, are apt to prove embarrassing, particularly
when the divorcées all happen to be present at the same dinner-table.
A lady whose hostess is the wife of her former husband, finding
herself sitting opposite the divorced wife of her present husband, who
has at one time or another been married to two or three other ladies
at the board, is not likely to be able to comport herself with that
degree of _savoir faire_ that is the ear-mark of the refined....

As for the mother-in-law, for certain reasons of a private nature I
was not going to speak of her in these memoirs, but after mature
reflection upon the subject I deem it my duty to posterity to say
that....


SOME LONG-FELT WANTS

I have often wished that in my youth I had studied science a little
more carefully. It is growing very obvious to me the longer I live
that there are a number of little things that we need in this world to
make life more comfortable. It does not seem to me beyond reason to
think that by the use of a proper mechanism these thunderbolts that
play about the heavens can be made to do errands for us. It angers me
to see so much light going to waste in the heavens from the flash of
the lightning, when it might be stored up for use instead of these
intolerable axle-grease dips that we are forced to use to light us on
our way to bed. I don't see why some one cannot entrap one of these
bolts on a wire, just as we catch a rat in a trap, and keep it running
round and round a loop, giving out its light until it is exhausted....
It would be pleasant, too, to have a kind of carriage that would go of
its own power. I cannot quite reason the thing out, but I believe that
the time will come when there will be something of the sort. I
remember back in my four-hundred-and-fifty-second year finding one of
my father's farm wagons on the top of the hill back of the cow
pasture. I wheeled it to the edge of the descent, and was much
delighted to see it go speeding down to the base of the hill,
gathering momentum at every turn of the wheels, and ending up by
hitting the back door of Uncle Zibb's cottage with such force that it
came out of the front parlor window before stopping. This seemed to
indicate that under certain circumstances a wheeled vehicle could be
made to go without a horse, but in what precise way it can be brought
about the limitations of my mechanical training prevent me from
determi ... I was watching the heated vapor rising from our tea-kettle
the other night, and was much diverted to notice that it made a
whistling sort of sound as it emerged from the nozzle of the pot. It
ran from B sharp to high C, and was loud enough to be heard on the
other side of the room. It has occurred to me that there may be in
this some hidden principle that will some day enable man to make this
vapor do his work for him, especially along musical lines. Surely if
this misty substance can make a tea-kettle squeak, why should it not,
if multiplied in volume and run through a trombone, afford us a
capable substitute for Bill Watkins, who plays second base on our
Village Band?


AS TO PROPHECIES

If our Prophets would only confine themselves to probabilities I am
inclined to think we should take more stock in the things they
foretell. I am impelled to the making of this reflection by the
presence in our town of an Astrologer who is setting all the women by
the ears by prophesying a day when they will not have to do their own
housework, and will thrive in many lines of endeavor now open solely
to men. He is an interesting old fellow, in spite of the foolishness
of his predictions; but when he tells the women's clubs that in some
far off century women will be found writing novels, and adorning
themselves with rich fabrics, and surrounded by a class of paid
toilers who will do nothing but minister to their ease and comfort, I
lose all patience with him. It is filling their minds with socialistic
notions that are impairing their usefulness, and I have had to
chastise seven of my own fair helpmeets this past week for neglecting
their duties and treating my instructions with contempt. A curious
thing about his prophecies is their confirmation of Adam's fears as to
the ultimate result of these new-fangled ideas as to dress, and, what
interested me more than anything else, he predicted a machine called a
Moh-Thor-Cah, that not only runs along without outside assistance,
but is propelled entirely by the same vapor that I have spoken of
before as striking the high C in the nozzle of my tea-kettle. He goes
too far with this, as well as with his other prophecies, for he says
that there will be a time when ships larger than Noah's Ark will be
forced across great bodies of water by this same power. The idea of
anybody, after Noah's experience, being foolish enough to build a
craft of that kind, to say nothing of working it with a tea-kettle, is
preposterously abs ... In one of his visions he claims to have seen a
gathering of people, called a city, in which there are to be more than
four million souls, and governed not by the virtuous, as in our own
day, but by the most desperate political malefactors that ever banded
together for plunder, and this at the direct request of the people
themselves! I am perfectly aware that human nature is weak, and given
over at times to strange delusions, but that any body of
self-respecting persons should deliberately and of their own free will
turn the management of their affairs over to those who would more
properly grace a jail than a City Hall, surpasses belie ...


MISCELLANEOUS FRAGMENTS

... cannot be denied that a daily newspaper would be an interesting
thing, if it were possible to print it, but I doubt its real value. I
dislike gossip, and I do not see how the newspaper could fill up
without it. What advantage is it to me to know that Hiram
Wigglesworth, of Ararat Corners, who is unknown to me, was arrested on
Thursday evening for beating his wife? Why should I be called upon to
impair the value of my eyes by reading in small type all the
scandalous details of the separation proceedings between two people I
never saw and would not permit to enter my front door if they came to
call? It is nothing to me that Mrs. Zebulon Zebedee, of Enochsville,
has spent thirty thousand clam-shells a year on bottled grape-juice,
and run up bills against her husband's account at the diamond-quarries
for two or three hundred thousand tons of wampum, and if she chooses
to go joy-riding on a Diplodocus with a gentleman from the Circus, it
is Zebulon Zebedee's business, not mine, and a newspaper that insisted
upon dumping this unsavory mess on my breakfast-table every morning
would sooner or later become an unmitigated nuis ...

       *       *       *       *       *

... but he pays no attention to my protestations. I think the oldtime
method of walloping them every Sunday morning, on the principle that
they deserved it for something they had done during the past week, was
a good one. Shem and Japhet are not so bad, but since Ham came back
from the Ararat Academy of Higher Learning he has been about as
useless a member of the community as we have ever had. What he doesn't
know would fill six hundred volumes of the Triassic Cyclopædia. I
caught him only the other night trying to teach his grandmother to
suck eggs, although my estimable wife was a past-mistress of that art
four hundred years before he was born. He has absolutely no respect
for age, and frequently refers to me as "the old boy," criticizes my
clothes, and remarks apropos of my patriarchal garments that
night-shirts as an article of dress for a five o'clock tea went out a
thousand years ago. Indeed, so disrespectful is he that I sometimes
wonder if he is not a foundling. I note two suspicious things in
respect to him. The first is that he is getting blacker in the face
every day, which suggests that there is in him somewhere a strain of
the Æthiopian, none of which he gets from me or his grandmother, who
was an Albino. And the second is that his father will not allow him to
be spanked, a very strange inhibition, I think, unless that operation
would disclose the boy's possession of the Missing Link. Indeed, I
should not be at all surprised to discover that the lad is either an
Æthiopian, or a direct descendant of Adam's old friend and neighbor,
Col. Darwin J. Simian, of Coacoa-on-Nut. In all of my reflections on
the subject of the training of the young, manual training has always
seemed to me the most efficacious, especially if in applying the hand
you do not restrain its force, and are not loath to use the hair-brush
or a good leathern trunk-strap as an auxiliary. And in order to
ensure their freedom from evil associations, and to keep them from
making the night hideous by their raucous yells, I have never heard of
anything better than the method of Doctor Magog Rodd, of the
Enochsville Military Academy, who kept his students in cages and
corked them up every night before they retir ...

[Illustration: The Head Nurse of the Adam Family.]

       *       *       *       *       *

... so no more at present. My manuscript already weighs three hundred
and forty tons, and every word of it has been gouged out with my own
hands--a difficult operation for a man of my years. I am painfully
aware of its shortcomings, but such as it is it is, and so it must
remain. There is no time left for its revision, and, indeed, a man
who has just celebrated his nine hundred and sixty-ninth birthday can
hardly be expected ...





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