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Title: Skookum Chuck Fables - Bits of History, Through the Microscope
Author: Cumming, R. D. (Robert Dalziel), 1871-
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Skookum Chuck Fables - Bits of History, Through the Microscope" ***

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SKOOKUM CHUCK
FABLES

BITS OF HISTORY,
THROUGH THE MICROSCOPE

(Some of which appeared in the Ashcroft Journal)

BY

SKOOKUM CHUCK

Author of "Songs of a Sick Tum Tum,"
and some others



Copyright, Canada, 1915, by R.D. Cumming



Preface


It is more difficult to sell a good book by a new author than it is to
sell a poor one by a popular author, because the good book by the new
author must make its way against great odds. It must assert itself
personally, and succeed by its own efforts. The book by the popular
author flies without wings, as it were. The one by the well-known author
has a valuable asset in its creator; the one by the new author has no
asset but its own merits.

I am not contending by the above that this is a good book; far from it.
Some books, however, having very little literary recommendation, may be
interesting in other ways.

There are several things instrumental in making for the success of a
book: first, the fame of the author; second, the originality of the
theme or style; third, the extent of the advertising scheme, and fourth,
the proximity of the subject matter to the heart and home of the reader;
and this last is the reason for the "Skookum Chuck Fables."

If the following stories are not literature, they are spiced with
familiar local sounds and sights, and they come very close to every
family fireside in British Columbia. For this reason I hope to see a
copy in every home in the province.

                                                          THE AUTHOR.



Contents


SKOOKUM CHUCK FABLES:                            PAGE

  OF THE ROLLING STONE                              9

  OF CULTUS JOHNNY                                 17

  OF THE BOOBY MAN                                 24

  OF HARD TIMES HANCE                              35

  OF THE TOO SURE MAN                              55

  OF THE UNLOVED MAN                               60

  OF THE CHIEF WHO WAS BIGGER THAN HE LOOKED       66

  OF SIMPLE SIMON UP TO DATE                       72

  OF THE HIGH CLASS ESKIMO                         79

  OF THE SWEET YOUNG THINGS                        89

  OF THE TWO LADIES IN CONTRAST                    97

  OF THE RUSE THAT FAILED                         100

  OF THE REAL SANTA CLAUS                         107

  OF THE RETREAT FROM MOSCOW                      113

  OF SICAMOUS                                     118

  OF THE UBIQUITOUS CAT                           122


BITS OF HISTORY:

  OF THE FOOLHARDY EXPEDITION                     127

  OF THE LAWS OF LYCURGUS                         133

  OF JOAN OF ARC                                  138

  OF VOICES LONG DEAD                             144

  OF THE WHITE WOMAN WHO BECAME AN INDIAN SQUAW   151


THROUGH THE MICROSCOPE                            157



Of the Rolling Stone


Once upon a time in a small village in Bruce County, Province of
Ontario, Dominion of Canada, there lived a man who was destined to
establish a precedent. He was to prove to the world that a rolling stone
is capable at times of gathering as much moss as a stationary one, and
how it is possible for the rock with St. Vitus dance to become more
coated than the one that is confined to perpetual isolation. Like most
iconoclasts he was of humble birth, and had no foundation upon which to
rest the cornerstone of his castle, which was becoming too heavy for his
brain to support much longer.

His strong suit was his itinerate susceptibility; but his main anchorage
was his better five-fifths. One of his most monotonous arguments was to
the effect that the strenuousness of life could only be equalled by the
monotony of it, and that it was a pity we had to do so much in this
world to get so little out of it.

"Why should a man be anchored to one spot of the geographical
distribution like a barnacle to a ship during the whole of his mortal
belligerency?" he one day asked his wife. "We hear nothing, see nothing,
become nothing, and our system becomes fossilized, antediluvian. Why not
see everything, know everything? Life is hardly worth while, but since
we are here we may as well feed from the choicest fruits, and try for
the first prizes."

Now, his wife was one of those happy, contented, sweet,
make-the-best-of-it-cheerily persons who never complained even under the
most trying circumstances. It is much to the detriment of society that
the variety is not more numerous, but we are not here to criticise the
laws that govern the human nature of the ladies. This lady was as far
remote from her husband in temperament as Venus is from Neptune. He was
darkness, she was daylight; and the patience with which she tolerated
him in his dark moods was beautiful though tragic. It was plain that she
loved him, for what else in a woman could overlook such darkness in a
man?

"You see," he would say, "it is like this. Here I am slaving away for
about seventy-five dollars per month, year in and year out. All I get is
my food and clothing--and yours, of course, which is as much necessary,
but is more or less of a white man's burden. No sooner do I get a dollar
in my hand than it has to be passed along to the butcher, baker, grocer,
dressmaker, milliner. Are our efforts worth while when we have no
immediate prospects of improvement? And then the monotony of the game:
eat, sleep, work; eat, sleep, work. And the environs are as monotonous
as the occupations. I think man was made for something more, although a
very small percentage are ever so fortunate as to get it. Now, I can
make a mere living by roaming about from place to place as well as I can
by sitting down glued to this spot that I hate, and then I will have
the chance of falling into something that is a great deal better, and
have an opportunity to see something, hear something, learn something.
Here I am dying by inches, unwept, unhonoured and unsung."

To be "blue" was his normal condition. His sky was always cloudy, and
with this was mingled a disposition of weariness which turned him with
disgust from all familiar objects. With him "familiarity bred contempt."
One day when his psychological temperament was somewhat below normal the
pent up thunder in him exploded and the lightning was terrible:

"Here I am rooted to one spot," he said, "fossilized, stagnant, wasting
away, dead to the whole world except this one little acre. And what is
there here? Streets, buildings, trees, fences, hills, water. Nothing out
of the ordinary; and so familiar, they have become hateful. Why,
everything in the environment breeds weariness, monotony, a painfully
disgusting sameness. The same things morning, noon and night, year after
year. Why, the very names of the people here give me nervous
prostration. Just think--Cummings, Huston, Sanson, Austin, Ward, McAbee,
Hobson, Bailey, Smith, Black, Brown, White--Bah! the sound of them is
like rumors of a plague. I want to flee from them. I want to hear new
names ringing in my ears. And I hate the faces no less than I do the
names. I would rather live on a prairie where you expect nothing; and
get it--anything so long as it is new."

Now, that which is hereditary with the flesh cannot be a crime. The
victim is more to be pitied in his ancestral misfortune, and the monkey
from which our hero sprang must have been somewhat cosmopolitan.

Of course his wife had heard such outbreaks of insanity from him before,
so she only laughed, thinking to humor him back to earth again with her
love and smiles.

"Conditions are not so bad in Bruce county as you paint them," she said,
"and if you do not go about sniffing the air you will not find so many
obnoxious perfumes. Why, I _love_ the locality; and I like the people.
And I like you, and my home; and I am perfectly satisfied with
everything. Things might be a great deal worse. You should have no
complaint to make. You have a steady situation, a good master, a
beautiful home, plenty to eat--and then you have me," she exclaimed, as
though her presence should atone for all else in the world that he did
not have. And perhaps a treasure of this kind should have been a
valuable asset, and an antidote against all mere mundane cares.

"Look out through the parlor door," she continued. "Could anything be
more beautiful? The sun is just setting. The lake is asleep. See the
reflection of the trees beneath its surface. How peaceful, how restful!
My mind is just like the lake--perfectly at ease. Why do you not control
your storm and calm down like the lake? Look at the tall shadows of the
contented firs reaching away out across its bosom. How like a dream."

"Bah! Don't mention lake to me. I hate the sight of it. I have seen it
too long. It is too familiar. It is an eyesore to me. I am weary of it
all. I want a rest. Here comes Brown now. Let me hide in the cellar. It
would be hypocrisy to remain here and smile welcome to him when I hate
the sight of his physiognomy and detest the sound of his name. No, he
has gone by. He does not intend to call. Thank heaven. Five minutes of
his society would be equal to ten years in purgatory. New sights, new
scenes, new voices, new faces; all these are recreation to a mentally
weary constitution."

"I would consider it a crime to leave this beauty spot," said his wife,
"and it is a sin against heaven to decry it."

"Then I am a sinner and a criminal," said the hereditary crank, "because
I hate it and am going to leave. I will take fifty dollars and go, and
if I do not return with fifty thousand I will eat myself. I have said
all there is to say. Those dull, uninteresting faces give me the
nighthorse. I am going to-morrow. Of course you remain, because it is
more expensive to travel double than single," he snorted, "and I have
not the plunks."

He embarked into the big world a few days later with his wife's warm
kiss burning his lips--faithful even in his unfaithfulness. She was
cheerful for some time, thinking that he would return, but the magnetism
which attracted him to the woman whom he had picked from among the
swarming millions was of very inferior voltage.

He wandered about Canada and the United States for about two years. He
had many ups and downs. On the average he made enough to induce his soul
to remain in his body in anticipation of something better. To do him
justice he remitted all odd coin to his wife in Bruce county, and he
wrote saying he was perfectly happy in his new life. He awoke one
morning and found himself in the "Best" Hotel, Ashcroft, British
Columbia, Dominion of Canada, and the first thing he saw was the
sand-hill. He thought Ashcroft was the most desolate looking spot he had
ever seen. It looked like a town that had been located in a hurry and
had been planted by mistake on the wrong site.

He fell in with a Bruce county fellow there who was running a general
store, and they became very friendly. He secured employment from this
friend, who proved to be a philanthropist.

"I have a proposition to make to you," the friend said one day.

"What is it?" asked the iconoclast.

"Buy me out," said the philanthropist. "I have all the money I can
carry. When the rainy day comes I will be well in out of the drip, and
my tombstone will be 'next best' in the cemetery."

"But I have no bank balance," said the aspirant eagerly. "I have no
debentures of any kind; I have not even pin money."

"Bonds are unnecessary," said the friend. "Besides, when I sell you this
stock and building you will have an asset in the property. I will sell
outright, take a mortgage for the balance, which you will disburse at
the rate of five hundred dollars per year. You can do it and make money
at the same time. You will kill two birds with half a stone. Why, in
twenty years' time Rockefeller will be asking you to endorse his notes."

The sale was made and the hero jumped into a store on Railway Avenue
without a seed or cell, and in a short time the moss began to grow so
thick upon him that he had all the sharks in B.C. asking him for a
coating. And then he wrote for his wife, whom he missed for the first
time. The letter ran thus:

        "Ultima Thule, B.C., March 1st. 1915.

"My Dear Wife:

"You will see by the heading of this letter that fortune has cast me off
at Ashcroft, and I must congratulate myself for initiating that rolling
stone 'stunt.' I have stumbled upon the richest mine in B.C. The gold
is sticking out of it in chunks. The auto that you will play when you
arrive will be a 'hum dinger' and no mistake. I am enclosing my cheque
for $500. Buy out Tim Eaton and bring your dear self here, for I am
lonely without you.

  "Your hitherto demented husband."

She read it fifty times, placed it next her heart and pranced about like
a five-year-old. "Now, just where is Ashcroft?" she soliloquized. None
of the Bruce county aborigines seemed to know, so she consulted a world
map, and she found it growing like a parasite to the Canadian Pacific
Railway away in among the mountains of British Columbia.

But this was nothing. She would have risked a journey over the Atlantic
in an aeroplane if it were a means of uniting her with the man who was
the only masculine human in existence so far as she was concerned--the
man whom she had singled out and adopted from among the millions of his
kind. When they met the union was pathetic, but it was lovely. To make a
woman happy, who loves you like this, should be the consummation of a
man's domestic ambitions.

It was pointed out to him afterwards that, after all, the moss did not
begin to grow until he had settled down in Ashcroft. So he lost his
knighthood as an iconoclast.



Of Cultus Johnny


Once upon a time at Spence's Bridge, County of Yale, Province of British
Columbia, on the Indian reserve, there lived two Indians named Cultus
(bad) Johnny and Hias (big) Peter. They were friends until Peter got
married, and then the trouble began, because they both wanted the same
klootchman. They had been fishing for some time for the same fish, in
the same pool in the Thompson river, and had each been favored with very
encouraging nibbles. One day, however, Peter felt the tugging at his
bait somewhat stronger than usual and with one jerk he pulled out his
fish. Peter had stolen a march on his rival. The priest married them
when Johnny was at the coast, fishing at New Westminster for the
canneries. When the intelligence reached him he sat down in the bottom
of the boat and for a few moments imagined himself at Spence's Bridge
giving Hias Peter a Jack Johnson trouncing. To Cultus Johnny the strange
preference of this woman for his rival seemed like unmitigated
discrimination. Why, there was no comparison between the two when it
came to worldly icties. Peter had nothing: he had no illiha, no icties
of any kind; he was broke morning, noon and night. Johnny had a sixty
dollar saddle, a five dollar bridle, a two and a half quirt and the best
cayuse in Spence's Bridge, and worth seventy-five dollars. Peter had
nothing but the wage he earned working on the C.P.R. section, which had
been just enough to supply him with his daily muck-a-muck (food) before
marriage. How he calculated to feed two with the one basket of o-lil-ies
(berries) which had been only large enough for one, did not seem to
worry the community, as such things were taking place every day and were
a common occurrence, and the klootchman always seemed to survive the
ordeal. And it must not be forgotten that Johnny had a seven and a half
Stetson hat while all Peter could afford was a two bit cap.

It will always remain a mystery why one Indian should be more
voluptuous, or gather more icties about him than another, when none of
them have any visible assets from which to derive an income. Unless it
be that the more voluptuous Indian works every day of his weary, aimless
life, spends nothing, and hoards the residual balance like a miser,
lives on the old man before marriage, and on his klootchman after, we
are unable to arrive at a solution. No one knew by what means Johnny had
acquired all his wealth. Perhaps he had bought all his luxuries on
jaw-bone from one store while he paid cash for his muck-a-muck in
another. There is one thing certain, the honest Indian is always the
poorest, and in these days of the high cost of beans and bacon and rice,
he has to be poorer to be more honest. Now it came to pass that one day
Johnny balanced his saddle, horse, quirt and Stetson hat with Peter's
nothing and argued that all the weight was in his own favor. The keeka
(girl) had made a mistake. And to a man who measured everything by
worldly icties this was sound argument, for the only big thing about
Peter was his avoirdupois--barring his heart, of course. In the heat of
his argument Johnny determined to deprive Peter of his sacred property.
And among the Indians this is not nearly so hazardous or hopeless or
criminal an undertaking as it may seem through an Anglo-Saxon
microscope. Although a wife is considerable of an asset to a white man,
she is not so to an Indian; and it may be to his advantage that he is
more or less philosophical about it. The cultus Indian was at Lillooet
when this skookum tumtum (good thought) occurred to him. He was cutting
fire-wood with some of the Statlemulth (Lillooet Indians) in an effort
to heal the wound in his left chest which had been left gaping since his
recent defeat in battle. He went back to Spence's Bridge as fast as his
seventy-five dollar cayuse, his sixty dollar saddle, his five dollar
bridle and his two and a half quirt could carry him, and presented
himself to his kith and kin. The old man gave him a warm hand-shake.
They killed some fatted chickens and had the biggest time that the
rancherie had ever known. Peter and his schmamch (wife) were there and
old acquaintances were renewed. Johnny's strong suit with his ancient
flame was his personal icties; and when Peter was otherwise engaged he
asked the girl to elope with him to Kamloops or Lillooet. The next day
was Sunday and Peter was going out with others on a cayuse hunt which
had been planned some time before. He invited Johnny because it would
not be safe to leave him in possession of the fort, and in charge of
such a valuable, though fickle, asset; for a great number of the Indian
women are fickle.

But Cultus Johnny declined the invitation. He was tired, and wanted to
rest. Besides, he had a bridle to finish which he was plaiting from the
leather cut from the legs of an old pair of cow-boy boots which he had
found; it would be worth ten dollars when finished. In spite of his good
intentions Johnny spent the whole day in idleness at the home of Mrs.
Peter; and, as it is no insult among the Indians for a buck to propose
an elopement with his neighbor's wife, because it is a very common
business transaction among them, Johnny again suggested the escapade.
The woman only laughed and seemed to enjoy the flirtation. But she would
neither consent nor refuse. Hias Peter did not return that evening, and
the next day Johnny was at the works with greater cannonading, and with
more skookum tumtum than ever, and this time he was braver. He was just
on the point of putting his arm around the keeka's waist when the door
opened and Peter darkened the opening. They looked at one another for a
few moments like two panthers about to spring at each other's throats.
Hias Peter had a hias gun, and he raised it to his shoulder and glanced
in a very savage and threatening way along the barrel toward Cultus
Johnny's heart. Johnny dropped to the floor and begged for mercy. Now it
requires some courage to shoot a fellow-being down in cold blood,
although the punishment may be well deserved, so Peter lowered his
rifle.

"Klatawa!" (Go!) he commanded. "Hiak!" (Quick!) he shouted. Johnny
crawled on his hands and knees towards the door, and as he was creeping
over the threshold Peter gave him one awful kick that sent him rolling
on the ground outside. And turning to the woman: "Fooled!" he roared. "I
will shoot you down like a coyote next time," he said. As the Indian is
a man of few words, he drew himself up to his hias (large) size in front
of her. But the woman pleaded that she was not to blame. Johnny had
persisted in his attentions to her, and she could not drive him off. "If
you want to get rid of him, shoot him," said Peter.

Now, among the Indians, when you covet your neighbor's wife, or have
been too familiar with her, and you are caught with the goods, you do
not fly into a far country for fear of your life. You still hang around,
and the worst you can get is perhaps a pounding from the jealous
neighbor; and the sweet environment is worth the risk.

Johnny's skookum tumtum was somewhat out of commission for a while. When
he met Mrs. Peter on the street after that they grinned at each other a
few times without speaking; and by and by, when they thought Peter was
out of sight, they would stop and talk for a while. He asked her again
to fly to Kamloops with him, and she seemed to be swinging on the
balance. Johnny dwelt upon his worldly assets--his saddle, his bridle,
and all his skookum icties. Peter soon realized that his wife was eating
at his table and living in another man's tumtum, but he kept on chewing
his beans and bacon and dried soquas (salmon) in silence, and, but for
the intervention of Providence, Peter might have followed in the
footsteps of Paul Spintlum.

One day Cultus Johnny and his sister went across the river to fish. They
cast their nets directly across from the rancherie, beneath an
angry-looking, hungry, threatening, overhanging gravel bed. He and his
father and his father's fathers had fished there time out of memory. The
old men of the village were squatted here and there weaving nets for the
fishing season. Squaws were bringing in bundles of tree branches on
their backs for firewood; others were scraping the flesh from raw
deer-skins, stretched on frames which leaned against buildings. Some
young fellows, among whom was Hias Peter, were rolling up driftwood from
the river. Children were capering about, laughing and shouting. Dogs
were barking, cats mewing, roosters crowing. There was nothing but joy,
and peace, and harmony. It was just such a scene as may be witnessed on
a bright sunny day at any Indian village in the dry-belt at any time.
Suddenly there was a rush and a roar and a plunge of waters. The whole
mountain across from the rancherie had fallen into the river with one
mad roar like thunder, and the water was thrown up upon the village and
its helpless inmates. In a moment the peaceful scene was one of death
and torture. Men, women and children were struggling helplessly in the
water and trying in vain to reach the higher benches. At the next moment
the water receded and carried many back struggling into the channel of
the river. Hias Peter found himself, with others, struggling among logs,
timbers and debris of every description. Just before the water receded
he saw his wife and heard her yell for help. He seized her skirt and
dragged her to safety, clinging to a friendly sage brush. For a moment
Peter thought that, so far as he was personally concerned, she was
scarcely worth saving; but it is very unnatural to allow a fellow being
to drown before your eyes and make no attempt to save him. And perhaps
our worst enemy could rely on us for protection under similar
circumstances. But where was Cultus Johnny and his sister all this time?
The whole world lay on top of them, and that is all we know. They were
never seen again.

Mrs. Peter looked across the river and sighed.

Mr. Peter looked across the river and gave a grunt in his own language.

A million tons of earth were holding down Cultus Johnny.



Of the Booby Man


Once upon a time in Ashcroft there lived a "gink" who was very much
wrapped up in himself. At a local social function he took the prize one
day for being the most unpopular man in the community; and this caused
him to sit up nights, and study himself as others saw him flitting
across his unattractive and uneventful stage. The winning of this prize
spoke to him with greater accent than could the exploding of a
sixteen-inch German gun, and it sent a quiver through his entire
avoirdupois. It was not only an appalling revelation to him to know that
he was unpopular, but it was a disgrace to his pedigree right back to
the days of Samuel De Champlain, so he began to paw the bunch grass and
seek revenge. First he dug among the archives of history for a solution.
There must be some reason for this disgraceful blur on his life pages.
Why was he the most unpopular man on these sand downs? Why was he an
outcast? Why was he the Job of Ashcroft society? Now, just why was he
unpopular? Had he boils, like Job? Was he an undesirable citizen? Was he
a German, or an Austrian, or a Turk? Was he inflicted with some
loathsome disease? Was he a plague? Had some false reputation preceded
him into the community? Had he a cantankerous disposition? Was he
repulsive in appearance? Was he mean, stingy? Was he stupid, ignorant,
uneducated, brainless? No, personally he could not plead guilty of
acquaintance with any of the above disqualifications. Among the archives
of his past Ashcroft history he found some tell-tale manuscripts, the
contents of which had never appealed to him until after the booby prize
episode. In plain English, he found written facts which were as bold as
the violation of Belgian neutrality. Incidents which had seemed very
commonplace and unworthy of notice before, now loomed up on those pages
and presented themselves to him as giants of the utmost importance. For
instance, in looking up the records connected with the forming of the
Ashcroft Rinks he found that he had not been consulted in the matter.
His name was missing from that interesting page of Ashcroft history.
However, when the time arrived for the forming of a company to finance
the erection of the building, great interest was taken in his bank
account, and the promoters knocked very early one morning at his door
seeking endorsement to purchase shares in the joint stock company which
was about to be born. At the meeting for the election of directors to
take charge of the affairs of the company he was again surrounded by the
same zero atmosphere. He was not even nominated as a prospective member.
His name had never been suggested. He was never consulted when anything
serious was the point of debate. It had not occurred to him to become
incensed at this frigid zone attitude on the part of his associates. He
had not been expecting any handout, so he was not disappointed. He had
been too much absorbed in his own personal affairs, too much wrapped up
in himself, and could detect no grounds for offence. At the annual
election of officers for the Curlers, although a member for ten years,
it had never occurred to any in the association to suggest his name as a
probable pillar for the upholding of the business portion of the club.
Again his presence was not suspected, and he may as well have been in
Iceland. Although present incarnate, he was to all intent and purpose
only in the invisible spirit.

When the hospital idea was being introduced the social thermometer in
the vicinity was again standing at the zero point; and he remembered
that he had never had the honor of being invited by the society to any
of the annual pioneer banquets. He had received the alien "hand-out"
upon all occasions, and had the same status in the community as a
Chinaman. Of course, being hitherto so much wrapped up in personality,
he took no notice of his social mercury, which always stood at its
minimum. And then, as the management of the various institutions had
been placed in hands which were, undoubtedly, more able and willing to
cope with the difficulties than he, and as everybody seemed satisfied,
there was no occasion for him raising his voice in protest throughout
the dumb wilderness. Being personally very much occupied with his own
stamp mill, and the percentage of the pay-rock, he was just as pleased
that no local burden should be placed across the apex of his spinal
pillar. But now he had arrived at a point where the road divided. New
scenes must be introduced into his play--new machinery installed.
Through the microscope he saw that present conditions could not be
allowed to prevail. He was losing much valuable mineral over the dump.
He was angry. The sensitiveness of his nature had received a shock; he
had been shown up as the most unpopular man in Ashcroft. It was time for
him to have the mercury brought near to the fire. The next time prizes
were being handed around his arm would be the longest, and his voice the
loudest; and they would not be booby prizes neither. He had known men of
a few weeks standing only, rise to the very apex of popularity, while
he, with his ten years initiation, had not yet developed brains enough,
in the estimation of the Ashcroft people, that would justify them in
placing in his charge the management of the most trivial social affair.
What had he done that this measure should be constantly graduated out to
him? Well, things would be different. He would "can" personality and
take up the "big mitt" of public things. But how was this revolution in
the private disposition of a man to be accomplished? He had discovered
the result, but not the cause; so he began rooting among the sage brush
of the sand downs for the foundation stone of his social submergence.

"I have it!" he shouted one day. "If one wishes to make a puncture in
the affairs of this world one must assert himself; one must smite the
table top with one's fist every morning before breakfast. One must
assume such an atmosphere that the whole community will be cognizant of
one's presence, to-day, to-morrow, and all the time. One must assert
one's personality. I have been asleep, stagnant, dormant, an Egyptian
mummy. I have allowed others to take the cream while I have been
passively contented with the whey. I have allowed others to elbow me to
one side like a log languishing in the eddy of a river. Henceforth I
will be in the centre of the stream. I will rush down with the torrent
and be "It" in the Ashcroft "smart set" illumination.

"There will be no public works in future that does not bear my
signature. In a word, I will assert myself, lock, stock and barrel."

So he hit out upon a new highway with the determination to be popular.
He neglected his own stamp-mill that the work might be carried out to a
successful issue. He engaged others to take charge of the tail race and
dump, with which he would not trust his brother on previous occasions.
In fact, he left the steam of the mill at high pressure to look after
itself that he might have an unhampered course in the asserting of
himself. He invaded immediately all the dances, carnivals, dinners and
parties. He was both Liberal and Conservative in politics. He was the
"guy" with the "big mitt" and the vociferous vocabulary at all the local
functions. He even joined the church. He tumbled into popularity as
quickly as the Kaiser tumbled into the European war; and he elbowed his
way into the run-way for all offices. Previously bright stars were
dimmed by the brilliancy of his superior luminosity. He became a
parasite at the local stores and clubs, and was a wart on the grocer's
counter. He became a whirlwind of popularity. He was as much in the
advance as he had before been in the rear, and, if there was any German
trench to take, he was always first to jump into it. He had the big
voice in every local eruption. Every time he batted he made a home run.
He even made initiative suggestions for schemes which were more or less
amalgamated with reason and insanity. It is said that he was first at
the dances, and first in the hearts of the ladies. It is certain he was
the first to invent the sewerage system idea; and the patents were
applied for before the final endorsements had been secured.

"I will make the man swallow his words who awarded me that booby prize,"
he thundered; and he was going the right way about it. He imposed his
individuality with emphasis. He was taken by the hand and dragged along
cheerfully. He found himself coveted and envied now, where, before, he
had almost been denied citizenship. He was now a qualified voter, where,
before, he had been disfranchised. He found himself in the front ranks
of all social movements, for he had asserted himself with an accent. It
was a case of applied personality with him, and it was developing just
as he had anticipated. Of course it was a superficial personality; it
had no intrinsic value, but it answered the purpose. He received many
important appointments. He was created secretary to the School Board,
secretary to the Ashcroft Rinks, secretary to the Hospital, secretary
to the Ashcroft Hockey boys, secretary to the Ladies' Knitting Guild,
secretary to the Ladies' Auxiliary. In fact, he was unanimously chosen
an official in all the local public works which had no salary attached
to them. But then, he was gaining in popularity, and what did it matter
if his office was filled to overflowing with exotic paraphernalia, he
was reaching that apex to which he had aspired, and the emolument was a
mere bagatelle. The booby prize, after all, had been the foundation of
his success.

So things went on and he became the most talked of man in the town. When
any difficulty arose he was the first to be consulted. The town found it
necessary to come to him for information on every local scheme that had
its birth in the local cerebrum, for no one else was capable of handling
any emergency and carrying it through to a successful conclusion.

Just about this time the sewerage epidemic took possession of the town,
and became an insane contagion. Meetings were held at various places to
discuss the matter, and at last the government agent allowed the court
house to be used gratis for that purpose. Of course our hero and two
other victims were appointed commissioners to investigate. His salary
was the same as he received from his various secretaryships.

It was proposed to mortgage the town for forty years to the provincial
government for its endorsement to local bonds, and the commissioners
were empowered to have the alleys and necessary places surveyed with a
view to ascertaining the magnitude of the undertaking, and the amount of
the collateral which it would be necessary to raise in England, upon the
endorsed bonds, to push the work through to a successful conclusion. The
victims set to work with full knowledge of the stupendous responsibility
which had been slung, yoke-like, across their shoulders. Surveyors were
engaged, and an expert calculator was summoned to give an estimate of
the cost of such an undertaking. The estimate was placed at $75,000.00.
This enlightenment gave the community a volcanic eruption; an epidemic
of "cold feet" took possession of them, and they retired to warm these
extremities at their respective air-tight heaters. In the meantime the
commissioners had guaranteed payment to the experts whom they had
engaged, and their personal notes were urgently requested. The expenses
which they had incurred amounted to about five hundred dollars. When the
vouchers were hawked about town for endorsements they received the "high
ball," and the victims found it necessary to "make good" from their
personal rainy day deposits. The unpopular man took a sly glance back at
the ancient happy hunting-grounds antedating his booby prize days.

It was just about this time that an agent of the Independent Trust
Company drifted into town "incidentally," and became acquainted with the
boys. He made it known in a sort of casual way that he was disposing of
shares in the said company, which were valued at more than they were
worth--that is, were worth more than their valuation. To keep up the
"bluff" the unpopular man bought a thousand "plunks" worth of shares.

"Now," said the shark, "since you have shown so much confidence in my
company by purchasing shares, you can prove your patriotism more fully
by placing a substantial deposit with the Independent Trust. This will
help maintain the company on solid footing, and ensure you higher
dividends on your stock. I will give you my personal guarantee that your
money will be safer, and more productive than it would be in the Bank."

The "boob" seized the bait like a trout in the Bonaparte, and made a
deposit of five thousand dollars. Shortly afterwards the company went
into liquidation, and his six thousand dollars sailed away with the
worthless liquid into the sea of oblivion.

About this same time, when his popularity was at its zenith, and was
rivalling that of Dr. Cook, the fake discoverer of the North Pole,
another shark came down with the rain selling the most marvellous
money-making scheme ever offered to the public of British Columbia. This
was X.Y.Z. Fire Insurance shares, which he was disposing of at a great
sacrifice.

"Let me sell you some shares in the only 'real thing' that has been
offered to the public since the flood," he tempted.

The victim was so much under the shark's influence that he was
hypnotized.

"Certainly," he said. "Write me down for five hundred 'doughbaby's'
worth."

"You mean a thousand," said the shark.

"No," said the "gink," timidly, "I have only five hundred in my sock;
that will be as much as my pack will carry."

"Exactly; that is just right. You see, you are buying a thousand dollars
worth of goods with only five hundred dollars worth of cash. The shares
are fifty dollars each, with a cash payment of twenty-five dollars, and
the balance subject to call. This balance will never be called for,
because on no occasion has an insurance company been known to call in
its balance of subscribed stock; and the X.Y.Z. is not going to
establish a precedent in this respect. You will have twenty shares for
five hundred dollars. In other words, you will draw interest on one
thousand dollars, and only have five hundred invested. Was ever a
business so philanthropic in its foundation?"

Our hero grabbed the bait like a pure-bred sucker, and handed out his
last asset.

A few weeks later the company was in the hands of receivers with all its
assets vaporized. The popular man found himself on the "rocks." Being
popular for a short time had proved a very expensive expedition for him.
The retreat rivalled that of the Kaiser's retreat from Paris. It was so
sudden that the town heard the thud and felt the jar. The unpopular man
realized that it is wiser to remain in one's natural element even if it
is necessary to sacrifice many of the first prizes. Perhaps it is
better to go after the prizes for which we are qualified, than to aspire
to elevations which we are unable to hold intelligently.

The unpopular man backed himself up into his burrow, and for a time the
silence around town was embarrassing.



Of Hard Times Hance


Once upon a time on the foothills in the environs of Clinton, Lillooet
District, Province of British Columbia, there lived a "mossback" who was
as happy as the 22nd day of June is long in each year. At initiative
conclusions he would be classified with the freak species of humanity,
but beneath his raw exterior there lurked rich mines which the moss kept
a secret from the inquisitive, avaricious world.

He owned and operated an extensive ranch from which he encouraged enough
vegetation to feed himself, his pigs, his horses, his cattle, his
chickens, and his dog; and this, apparently, was all they derived from
the great, green earth. But the asset side of our "mossback's" yearly
balance sheet always made the liability side ashamed of itself. The
asset increased annually, and the hidden treasure grew to alarming
proportions. This growth was carefully salted away at the appropriate
salting-down season, when the pork barrels were brought out of the dark
cellars, dusted, scrubbed, and refilled with the carcasses of those
animals which had been his companions for the greater part of a year. He
was a standing joke with the "hands" on the ranch, for he was the most
dilapidated of the whole gang, although the owner, and was reputed to be
wealthy.

But he was a man with a purpose in life, and that was more than a great
many could say. He was chronically eccentric. When he first located on
the homestead which had since become so valuable an asset, he had
determined to live with one purpose in view, and that was to expand
financially with the toil of his hands and the sweat of his brow, and
then, when he had acquired sufficient sinking fund, to emerge suddenly
into the limelight of society and shine like a newly polished gem. So he
wandered up and down the trail which his own feet and the feet of his
cayuse had worn through the woods, up the creek, along the face of the
mountains, and away down to the limy waters of the Fraser on the other
side of the perpetual snows.

There was a fascination for him on this old trail; it had become as part
of his life, of his very soul. Sometimes he would be rounding up cattle.
Sometimes he would be hunting mowich (deer), or driving off the coyotes.
All his plans and schemes were built on trail foundation. He could not
think unless he was tramping the trail through the woods, and down the
valleys. Here is where all his castles were constructed; and, from the
trail observatory, he saw his new life spring into being, when the time
would be ripe.

In time the coin grew so bulky that it became a burden to him. It had
grown very cumbersome. He might at any time resurrect himself into that
new world of his, but there was no occasion for haste; he was very happy
and contented; besides, it would mean leaving the old trail and things.
He had his balance banked in a strong box which he buried in a hole
under his bed, and the fear grew upon him that some mercenary might
discover its lurking-place and relieve him of the burden of
responsibility. This was the only skeleton which lurked in the man's
closet. It was the only cloud in his sky; the rest of the zenith was
sunshine and gladness. To the neighbors and itineraries he had been
preaching hard times for twenty years, although the whole earth
suspected the contrary. He became known throughout the width and breadth
of Yale, Lillooet and Cariboo as "Hard Times Hance." Although
diplomatically reserved and unsociable, he was more popular and famed
than he suspected. Peculiarity is a valuable advertisement.

His outward appearance and mode of life certainly justified the above
appendix to his personality, and it was so blazoned that it could be
seen and heard all over British Columbia. He had but one competitor, and
that was "Dirty Harry," who at one time frequented the streets of
Ashcroft. No other name could have distinguished him so completely from
the other members of the human family.

His overalls, which were once blue, had become pale with age, and had
adopted a dishrag-white color; and one of the original legs had been
patched out of existence. His Stetson hat, which had left the factory a
deep brown, now approached the color of his terrestrial real estate. His
"jumper" had lost its blue and white "jail bird" stripe effect, and was
now a cross between a faded Brussels carpet and a grain sack. To save
buying boots he wore his last winter's overshoes away into the summer,
while his feet would blister in discomfort. Braces were a luxury which
he could not endure, so he supported his superfluously laundried
overalls with a strand of baling-rope which had already served its time
as a halter guy. His feet had never known the luxury of a factory or
home-knitted stocking since he had graduated from the home crib, but
were put off with gunny sacking which had already seen active service as
nose bags for the cayuses.

"If one wishes to acquire wealth in this world," he would say, "one must
make a great many personal sacrifices." So he lived on and waxed wealthy
at the expense even of the simplest of domestic comforts.

The improvements with which he had enhanced the value of his ranch were
much in keeping with his personal appearance, and they could be
recognized as brothers with the least difficulty. The fences, which had
refused to retain their youth against the passing years, had their aged
and feeble limbs supported with thongs and makeshifts of every
description; and where their pride had rebelled against such
ingratitude, they were smothered beneath the limbs of fallen trees,
which had been felled on the spot to serve as substitutes. His flumes
were knock-kneed and bow-legged, and in places they had no legs at all.
Their sides were warped and bulged with the alternate damp and drouth,
heat and cold. The lumber was bleached white, and porous with decay. It
was with difficulty they could be persuaded to remain at their
water-carrying capacity. The ditches were choked with willows and maples
to such an extent that they were abandoned only in spots where they
asserted themselves, and refused to convey the necessary irrigation
stream. Here they would burst their sides with indignation, and had to
be repaired. The barns, stables and chicken-houses had for years been
threatening to collapse unless supplied with some stimulant; so numerous
false-works had been erected, outside and in, to retain them within
their confines. The harness, which had originally been made of leather,
betrayed very little trace of this bovine enveloper, but was composed
chiefly of baling-rope and wire which had been picked up at random on
the ranch as the occasion demanded. The various sections of the wheels
of his wagons remained in intimate association with each other because
they were submerged in the creek every night; the moisture keeping the
wood swelled to its greatest diameter. One day's exposure to the drouth,
without the convenient assistance of the creek water, would have been
sufficient to cause the wheels to fall asunder. In this respect the
unsuspecting creek was an asset of incalculable value. The boxes of his
wagons could boast of nothing up to date, that was not possessed by the
wheels; and in many cases the tongues and whiffletrees and neck-yokes
had been substituted by raw maples or birch secured on the ranch. His
unwritten law was to buy nothing that would cost money, and to import
nothing that could be produced on the farm even if it was only a poor
makeshift substitute. No part was ever replaced until it had gone
hopelessly on strike, and necessity was his only motive power when it
came to repairs. The general conditions were suggestive of the obsolete.

In the midst of all this ruin and decay, however, there was sunshine,
and the heart of Hard Times Hance was warm and buoyant, cheerful and
hopeful, and even if he did live upon the husks which the swine did eat,
he derived from his life a great deal more pleasure than the world gave
him credit for. He had his future to live for. He had his life all
mapped out, and that was more than a great many could boast of. For
breakfast he had mush, for dinner he had beans and bacon, and for supper
he had bacon and beans and Y.S. tea. And he was just as happy eating
this fare with his knife as the Lieutenant-Governor of the Province of
British Columbia could be with his cereal, consomme, lobster salad,
charlotte russe, blanc mange, café noir, or any other dainty and
delicate importation. Bananas, oranges and artichokes had no place on
his bill-of-fare. Besides, after he had eaten a meal he had no space for
such delicacies. And he could always wash his meal down with the famous
Y.S. tea stand-by; and, on top of this, a few long draws at his
kin-i-kin-nick (sort of Indian tobacco) pipe. And then there were no
restrictions upon his mode of feeding his face. He could eat with his
knife with impunity. There was no etiquette-mad society digging him in
the ribs, and jerking on the reins in protestation at every one of his
natural inclinations; and he could use his own knife to butter his
sourdough bread. For a man who expected to emerge into the sunshine of
society, he was giving himself very inadequate training. He was as near
the aboriginal as it was possible for a white man to approach. He was a
Siwash (male Indian) with one exception--his love of the coin. But then,
he had an object in this ambition; and a fault, if it is a means to a
worthy end, must be commended. He had this propensity developed to the
most pronounced degree. It was a disease with him, for which there was
no cure. In outward appearance he was a typical B.C. specimen of the
obsolete "coureur de bois" of eastern Canada during the seventeenth
century.

The interior of his "dug-out" was more like an Indian kik-willy (ancient
Indian house) than the dwelling of a modern Anglo-Saxon. The walls were
composed of the rough timbers, and the chinks were stuffed with rags and
old newspapers. A few smoke-begrimed pictures were hanging on the walls,
and a calendar of the year 1881 still glared forth in all its ancient
uselessness, leading one back into a past decade. If he broke the rules
of etiquette by eating with his knife, he also smashed those of modesty
by utilizing his air-tight heater as a cuspidor, for it was streaked
white with evaporated saliva.

How this crude bud ever anticipated blooming out into a society blossom
was a conundrum. Perhaps he had some secret method buried in the same
box with his hoarded coin. His long evenings were passed reading the
_Family Herald and Weekly Star_ and the _Ashcroft Journal_ by
candle-light; for those were the only papers he would subscribe for. His
bed consisted of, first, boards, then straw, then sacking; and it had
remained so long without being frayed out that it had become packed as
hard as terra firma. His blankets had not seen the light of day, nor
enjoyed the fresh cool breezes for many long years. His one window was
opaque with the smoke of many years' accumulation. Although his chickens
had a coop of their own where they roosted at night, they ran about the
floor of his "dug-out" in the daytime looking for crumbs that fell from
the poor man's table; and his cat, through years of criminal impunity,
would sit on the table at mealtime and help himself to the victuals just
as the spirit moved him. A stump had been left standing when the cabin
was built; it had been hewn at the appropriate elevation of a chair.
This was near his air-tight heater, and his favorite position was to sit
there with his feet propped against the stove and smoke by candle-light;
and sometimes he would sit in the dark to save candles. His other
furniture consisted of "Reindeer" brand condensed milk and blue-mottled
soap boxes, which he had acquired at times from F.W. Foster's general
store at Clinton.

Hard Times Hance was living on first principles; but then, if a man
wishes to save any coin in this world he must make great personal
sacrifices; and so he was perfectly happy in his temporary aboriginal
condition. There were no restrictions upon him. He was even outside the
circumference of any ministerial jurisdiction, and had never been
cautioned about the hereafter. Like an Indian, he moved just as the
impulse seized him. How this man expected to submit to the personal
restrictions and embargoes imposed by modern fashions and society was
known only to himself. The song of the forest had been his only concert;
the whisper of the creek his sole heart companion. When occasion
permitted he would wander the entire day on the high mountains, at the
end of his trail, hunting for game, and little caring whether he found
it or not, so long as he had the wild and congenial environs to admire
and embrace. What was city life in comparison with this?

At last the day arrived when he realized that he must develop wings, so
he wrapped himself up in a cocoon; and while the metamorphosis was in
process of development he had ample time to study Hamlet's soliloquy. It
would mean a divorce from everything he held dear; a parting with his
very soul. It would mean the most sorrowful widowhood that could be
imposed on man. It would be equivalent to leaving this earth and taking
up his abode in Mars. He must sacrifice his love for the creek and the
trail. He must renounce his freedom and go into social slavery. It was
the emerging from the woods into the prairie; the coming from darkness
into the light; a resurrection from the dead. In future he must tread
the smooth cement walk between cultivated lawns and plants, instead of
climbing the rude, uneven trail obstructed by fallen trees and
surrounded with vegetation in its wildest and most primeval forms. He
would walk the polished mahogany floor with patent boots, instead of
the terrestrial one of his dug-out with obsolete overshoes.

But it must be. For years he had been preparing and planning. The object
of his past had been a preparation for a better future; and why not?
Others enjoyed the good things of this life, and why not he? Had he not
paid the price. Others reaped where they had not sown; he had sown, yes,
sown in persecution, now he would reap in envious joy. He had lived the
first half of his life in squalor and darkness, that the latter half
might be clean and cheerful. When he had set out in his young days to
live his pre-arranged history it was with an ambition to be wealthy, no
matter by what means it should be acquired, so long as it was honest.
Now he was wealthy. He had been poor; now he was rich, and money would
put the world at his feet, which henceforth had been over his head. He
had been an animal; from now on he would be human.

But in his enthusiasm of development he forgot that he had grown
attached to the wild, aboriginal life; that the parting might snap
thongs and inflict wounds which even time would not mend or cure. At
times the creek would sing, and the trail would speak, but he banished
the tempters from his mind to make room for his illuminating prospects,
and his wings continued to grow towards maturity. He struggled and freed
himself from the cocoon. He went to Vancouver a caterpillar and returned
a butterfly, and the earthquake which accompanied his debut was equal
to that which destroyed San Francisco. He had sold his farm, which
included the creek, and the trail, and the dug-out, and his salt pork
barrel, for a song, and with his coin and icties about him, and in his
lately acquired form, he invaded Clinton with an accentuated front. The
street was lined with people as though a procession had been going
by--all the sweet and familiar sounds and sights had been sacrificed
criminally, and he was on his way to sip honey from flower to flower.

He sounded about Clinton for some time for a suitable anchorage on which
to materialize the plans and specifications of his mansion, but he did
not drive a stake, because Clinton was very much inferior to his "class"
ideal; it had no electric light, and no water system. So he migrated
south to Ashcroft, and there he pre-empted a large lot and made
arrangements for the foundation of his castle. Out of the ground in a
short period arose one of the most up-to-date bungalows. While the
building was in course of construction Hard Times Hance, who had
repudiated this headline, moved about in his dress suit, stiff hat, silk
gloves, and a cane, and gave such orders to the contractor as he saw
fit. He was looked upon as the most remarkable freak that had ever
invaded the dry belt. And he sprang into society spontaneously. The
people clamored for him. Progressive socials were arranged in his honor
at all the leading social centres in their eagerness to cultivate his
society. Some had faint recollections of having seen him at times,
others claimed to have heard of him at his hermitage, but they all
pretended to have known him personally and thoroughly, and many even
suspected that he possessed more, intrinsically, than he had revealed
superficially. He was the lion of the hour, and he did not forget to
hand around the coin in his efforts to retain the position which he had
secured.

When his mansion was turned over by the contractor, and had been
accepted by the architect, he issued invitations to one of the most
magnificent social functions which had ever erupted at Ashcroft. Those
who were invited were flattered, and those who were not called were
grossly insulted and wondered what disqualified them. They danced the
"tango," and the "bango," and the "flango," and all the "light
fantastics" until their feet went on strike, and their ear drums had
become phonographic and reproduced the music with a perpetual motion
which could not be stopped. Every lady was eager to reveal the dancing
secrets to mine host, and before the evening was over he could waltz,
tango, and do many of the up-to-date ridiculous "stunts."

And then they dined on a French dinner. It was cooked in French style,
and they ate it in French; and then they drank French toasts to the King
of England, the Governor-General of Canada, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, and the
gentlemen drank to the ladies in general all over the world. Then the
ladies proposed a French toast to "mine host." Not one of them could
speak French, although a few of them could repeat, parrot-like, the
words "Parlez-vous Francais?" but they only knew it as a "foreign
phrase" which sounded extremely cultured.

And the menu was as follows: "Canape of Anchovies," "Celery en Branch,"
"Potage a la Reine," "Consomme au Celeri," "Calves' Sweetbreads a la
Rothschilds," "French Lamb Chops a la Nelson," "Café noir," etc., etc.

In the midst of all this foreign celestialism mine host forgot the
creek, the trail, the dug-out, the beans and bacon, and the
kin-i-kin-nick pipe; and he prided himself on his rapid and agreeable
transition into swift channels of life. He was taking to society as a
duck takes to water.

In mode of living, as well as in personal appearance, it was the
greatest metamorphosis that had ever taken place in a human being in the
memory of man. It was a miniature "Log Cabin to White House" episode. He
furnished his castle with the most elaborate fittings and ornaments that
the world could produce. He had steam heated rooms and electric lighting
from cellar to attic. Every floor was carpeted with the most expensive
of imported Brussels. The walls were most elaborately painted and
decorated. To secure a final footing in society he had acquired a
collection of obsolete paintings, which were very unattractive and
vulgar, and could only have been of value as heirlooms to some private
family. These were conspicuously displayed on the panelled walls, in
partnership with other more or less modest busts and imaginary
landscapes. His ceilings were frescoed and figured in most extravagant,
but unappealing designs. It was plainly seen that the building had been
erected more to satisfy the taste and please the eye of the architect,
who had received an unrestricted contract, than for acceptance by the
purchaser. The furnishings were very much in keeping with the fixtures
and fittings, and his musical instruments were all electrically-automatic
machines; and his "canned" music filled the halls and stairways from
morning till night. There was no modern convenience or indulgence that
he did not lasso and drag home to his castle.

Before, he had wallowed in the one extreme of society, but now he lolled
at the other. While before he had been neglected and despised by his
fellow rivals, he was now courted, and admired, and feasted almost to
death: so much does the possession of the coin-asset change people's
opinions with regard to others.

His auto was the envy of all the chauffeurs and private car owners in
the interior, and there was great rivalry among the licensed drivers as
to who should secure the position as his private chauffeur. One engineer
offered his services gratis to have the privilege of sitting behind such
wind-shields.

Hard Times Hance persuaded himself that he had reached his "Utopia," and
that his past forty years of loneliness and savagery was the price he
had paid for the present heaven-rivalling blessings.

A man of his standing in society could not long remain in single
dormancy; he was therefore besieged by many of the fair sex. This was
very pleasing and flattering to him, although he concealed his
appreciation. Of course a palace such as his, without a wife, was like a
garden of Eden without an Eve. He had no one to use the electric vacuum
cleaner on his linoleums and tapestries. He had no one to meet him when
he reached home to take his hat, and gloves, and cane, and place them on
the hall rack. He had no one to kiss and afford companionship throughout
the long evenings, no one to arrange for social entertainments and meet
and welcome the guests; no one to direct and manage the culinary
department, and place the furniture in appetizing arrangement. Of course
he had the Chinese cook, but he was stale and without spice. There were
millions of qualified candidates in the world, looking for partners, who
would be more than pleased to have the opportunity to manipulate his
vacuum cleaner.

No sooner had he made up his mind to organize a family partnership
concern than he set out to have the necessary forms of contract drafted
and prepared. A great many fair ones nominated themselves as candidates
for election, but as he was living under Christian methods he could only
accept one--which was annoying--no matter how eager he may have been to
Mormonize himself. They fluttered around him like moths about an
electric arc, and they even deserted their former pre-emptions for the
new float prospects. In due course the successful candidate was
introduced to the Legislature as a new member.

The nuptials over, they migrated in the fall with the swallows to
California, on their honeymoon, and, after escaping the earthquake,
returned to their happy and beautiful home. There was a great eruption
among the marriageable prospects of Ashcroft, because many of them had
dropped a real bone into the water in snapping at the illusory shadow.

An indignation meeting was arranged at which it was resolved that the
least prepossessing and most unlikely of the nominees had secured the
winning majority. But love is a very contrary commodity, and a defect
may be a virtue in the eyes of a hero-worshipper; and "My Lady" was
serenely happy in spite of her unpopularity with her rivals. Hard Times
Hance had sprouted from pauperdom and had bloomed into princedom, and
his newly acquired partner placed the final mouldings and decorations to
his life.

They gave frequent balls and banquets, and the most select society in
the environs clamored for admittance. To his wife the prince was a
modern Aladdin. She had but to wish and the wish was granted. "Eaton's"
catalogue was her Bible, and it was her only food between meals;
packages arrived daily with the regularity of the _Vancouver Province_.
She had a standing order there for hats, dresses and kimonas, to be
rushed out the moment the fashions changed. While before Hance had taken
a pleasure in saving, he now had a mania for spending money; and their
merry marriage bells continued to ring for a few sweet years without
ceasing.

But gradually the spell wore off the self-made prince. The little creek,
the long trail, the deep woods, the dug-out, and the salt pork barrel
loomed up occasionally before his mind's eye. In absent-minded dreams he
would find himself wandering among the stock on the range at his old
ranch; or he would be drinking water from the creek in the
old-fashioned, natural way; or chasing a deer at the other end of the
long trail. His wife's sweet voice would recall him to the immediate,
and in her presence he would regret his meditations. But it would be but
temporary. What profits a man to gain the world, if he lose his peace of
mind? "What! I unhappy among all this kingly paraphernalia, and with a
queen wife?" he would ask himself, going down into the basement to
replenish the furnace. With every shovelful of coal he would curse
himself for his feebleness of mind.

The charm was beginning to wear off. The sound of the singing creek and
the wild wood noises were beginning to knock at his door. He was
beginning to long for the old, wild life--the life of the wild man of
the woods. He was like a coyote in confinement, walking backward and
forward at the bars seeking release. He was a fish out of water gasping
for its natural element, and his soul was languishing within him.

He made desperate but vain efforts to enjoy his beautiful environs, and
for a long time he sustained the "bluff." The piano became a bore to
him; its music was not half so sweet as the creek song. The tapestry was
not half so pleasing to the eye as the green foliage of the trees had
been; his cement walk not so agreeable to his feet as had been the long,
wild trail. The "icties" which had cost him thousands of dollars became
to him like so much junk, and his beautiful home became a prison--so
much does man become attached to mother earth. Among all this junk one
jewel still continued persistently to shine, however, and that gem was
his wife; she was all he had left, next his heart, to balance against
the thousands of dollars which he had squandered. A man's best comfort
is his wife, and Hance had fallen into the trap in the usual man-like
way.

His attraction for the modern in society had dwindled down to a single
item--his love for his wife; and between this fire, and the fire of the
old life, he remained poised. Of course it would be madness to suggest
that she return with him to the woods and adopt the Adam and Eve mode of
society, so he kept his skeleton securely locked up.

He had sold his farm for a song, but now he found it could not be
re-bought for real money. The situation was hopeless. There was no
retracing of steps. But still the old sounds could not be divorced from
his ears; and the old salt-pork barrel was an unpardonable culprit. If
he could only sit once again on the old stump which had not been hewn
away in the centre of his dug-out, it would be a source of joy to him.
If he could only smoke the old kin-i-kin-nick pipe, his appetite would
be satisfied.

One day he climbed into his auto and made a bee-line for the old ranch.
He would have a rock on that old stump if it should cause a scandal in
society. But the spot where the dug-out once stood was now bare. The
cabin had been burned to the ground by the new proprietors. He went home
like a whipped cur. A link in his beautiful past had vanished. An
impassable chasm, of his own making, yawned between him and his desire,
and he cursed the day which lured him away from his natural, green
pastures.

One day he disappeared entirely, and when he did not return for several
days, and his wife was insane with grief, a search party was sent out in
quest of him. They found him camping on the old trail, dressed in his
aboriginal attire, eating beans and bacon with his knife, and chewing
venison Indian fashion.

"This is the only square meal I have had since I left the woods," he
said, when they captured him; and he filled his pipe with kin-i-kin-nick
and puffed the sweet, mild fumes. He had returned to his natural
element.

"I have been rounding up stock," he said, "and I shot this buck just
over the hill there. Here, dig in, it is jake."

He had to live among the steers, and the coyotes, and the wild trails in
accordance with his early training; original things were his food.
Society, and his wife, demanded that he remain on the surface, but his
aboriginal inclinations lured him to the woods; so, during six months of
every year he was an Indian to all intents and purposes. Early in May he
would load a cayuse with beans, bacon, canned milk, frying pan and
blankets, and with this treasure he would take to the hills and bask
the livelong summer among the junipers, the firs, and the spruces; and
he would eat huckleberries, choke-cherries and soap-o-lalies, and smoke
kin-i-kin-nick until his complexion assumed the tan of the Chilcoten
Indian.

The lure of the limelight had been great, but it had worn off just as
soon as he had a surfeit of its false glories. He found that beans and
bacon eaten with a knife were sweeter and more wholesome than "blanc
mange," "consomme," or "café noir" cooked in French style, and served by
a French chef.



Of the Too Sure Man


Once upon a time, in the town of Lillooet, county of Lillooet, Province
of British Columbia, there lived a man who was so sure of his footing
that he closed his eyes and floundered along in the dark. When people
told him there were chasms in front of him, or that there was ice on the
trail ahead, he would not believe them, but put his fingers in his ears
so that he could not hear, and thus became deaf and blind to his own
interests. The people pestered him so much about his folly, and he
learned to hate them so much for their interference in his personal
matters, that he crossed the names of all his friends from his list of
social possibilities, would recognize none of them, and refused to speak
even when addressed; he thus became a blind, deaf and dumb mute. The
result was that he ultimately slipped upon the ice on the trail, and
fell into a chasm and has not been seen since. It was in the first days
of the Lillooet quartz discoveries. Gold had been mined from Cayuse
Creek, Bridge River, and the Fraser River, in uncountable ounces, in the
free state, by the placer or hydraulic process of mining, for a great
number of years, but the source of supply from which the free gold had
originated had not yet been located. It was even doubted if there was
any source of supply, although it was generally conceded that all gold
was originally pilfered by the streams and rivers from the hard
quartz-rocks of which the great mountains of Cayuse Creek and Bridge
River were formed. While some of the miners contented themselves with
making wing-dams, turning streams from their natural courses, and
scraping about the mud and gravel of the exposed beds for the pure, free
gold, picking up nuggets at sight and capturing the "dust" with
quicksilver, others, looking for bigger game, climbed the high
mountains, tore the moss from their sides to expose the rock, and
pounced upon every piece of "float" which would indicate the possible
existence of a "mother lode" somewhere near at hand or higher up.

The Too Sure Man of this story was one of the latter. He had found a
piece of "float rock" with a shining speck in it near where the nigger's
cabin now stands on Cayuse Creek in the vicinity of Lillooet, and he
traced it to the very spot where it had dropped from the mountain above.
There he discovered a ledge several feet wide full of shining specks,
and he traced it with his eyes right to the bed of the creek.

"All mine! All mine!" he shouted.

Now, he was a poor man, and he had a family--which made him poorer; but
the sight of this precious piece of "float" with the gold sticking out
of it, and the possession of this enormous ledge of gold-bearing quartz
made him a millionaire in an instant. Here was a whole mountain "lousy"
with gold, all his! Why, Solomon or Vanderbilt would be so small in the
puddle that he would splash mud on them with his superior tread in the
sweet "very soon."

Now, the B.C. law prevented him from staking off the entire Lillooet
district for himself, so he took in a friend (who luckily died before
the crash came), and they appropriated as large a portion each of the
district as the Government at that time would allow. Both of those men
had good, steady, paying jobs at the time of the discovery, but the next
day they threw down their tools--work was too cheap for them. The only
thing that prevented them from buying an automobile right away on the
instalment plan was the fact that the auto had not yet been invented.
However, they had to do something to elevate themselves from the common,
so they became extravagant in their domestic curriculum. Having no
money, the stores had to "carry them." And then they had their
assessment work to do on the mine to enable them to hold the claim. They
hired men to do this and gave them promissory notes payable by the claim
at an indefinite period. When a man ceases work and begins to live on
his "rainy day" money, or on the storekeeper, it does not take very long
before he accumulates a burden greater than he can carry. When he begins
to totter he tries to pass some of the load over to others, and it is
usually the storekeepers who are willing to assist him to the limit if
his assets are in good retrospect. And what could be a greater security
than a whole mountain full of gold? So the storekeepers assumed a large
portion of the Too Sure Man's burden. And their loads became heavier
and heavier. One day a company came along, attracted by the noise that
had been made, and bonded the claims for a few hundred "plunks" down and
the balance of one hundred thousand dollars in three months if they
decided to take the claims over. The offer was gladly accepted, although
they wondered why the company hesitated. This few hundred dollars
enabled the Too Sure Man to tide his family through the winter with warm
and expensive clothing from the T. Eaton Co., of Toronto, Ontario, while
the local grocery man's burden got heavier and heavier. It was during,
all this time that the people had been cautioning him for his personal
benefit. And it was during this time that the Too Sure Man closed his
ears, and his eyes, and his mouth, and became a blind, deaf and dumb
mute. When the three months were up the company decamped, forfeiting
their few hundred dollars, and then there was "something doing." The Too
Sure Man opened his eyes and his ears and his mouth all at the same time
as far as ever he could. The claim had proved a failure, there was no
gold, and only a slight trace on the surface. The local storekeepers,
groaning under their load, asked him to relieve them, but he might just
as well have tried to lift the mountain that held his worthless quartz
ledge. It was just at this point of our story that he slipped on the ice
and fell into the chasm. He disappeared, bag, baggage, and family; and
in truth it was the only course open to him.

To remain and work off his debt and sustain his family at the same time
with the increasing pressure of the high cost of living holding him
under, would have been an utter impossibility. The impending shock
killed his partner, for he died before the crash came. The Too Sure Man
has a burden in Lillooet supported by others which he can come and lift
at any time, and welcome.



Of the Unloved Man


Once upon a time in Ashcroft a bachelor fellow realized abruptly that he
had never been loved by one of the opposite sex, although he had reached
the age of two score and two, and had a great longing to have one
included in his assessable personal property. Now, as truth is stranger
than fiction, the discovery staggered him. What was wrong? What
machinery required adjusting? He had the sensation of a boycotted egg,
and was in danger of spoiling before reaching the consuming market. So
one day he perched himself on the sandhill and began to survey the
environs for a solution to the problem. Why should he be denied this one
sweet dream? Just think of it--no one had ever sympathized with him in
his utter loneliness of bachelorhood. No girl had ever called him her
"snooky ookums," and he had never had the opportunity of calling any
fair vision his "tootsy wootsy." The horror of the situation was
sufficient to stagger an empire. No girl had ever waited at the
post-office corner for him. No girl had ever tapped on his office window
on Railway Avenue and smiled back at him on her way home from the meat
market. No girl had ever lingered outside for him that she might have
the pleasure of his society home to lunch. He had to walk the bridge
evenings and Sundays alone, while others went in limited liability
companies.

Once, when he was ill, no angel had volunteered to smooth his pillow,
and a Chinaman brought up delicacies left over from some other person's
previous meal. He had no silent partner. None of the girls knew he had
been ailing, and when he told them weeks after they feigned surprise.
There seemed to be an unsurmountable stone wall between him and the
sweet things of this world. So, day after day, in his leisure moments,
he would pace the brow of the sandhill seeking in his mind for a
solution to an issue that seemed unfathomable. Was he ugly? No. Was he
repulsive? No. Was he a woman hater? No. Was he a criminal? No. Had he
offended the fair sex in any way? No. Was he poor? No. Did he belong to
the human family? Yes. With what disease then was he afflicted? Was it
heredity? Could he cast the blame upon his ancestors? Up and down the
Thompson valley he searched and searched but he could find no
answer--even the echo would not speak. Other fellows seemed to have no
difficulty in getting themselves tangled up in the meshes of real
beautiful love nets. Even the young bucks who had no visible means of
support for their own apparently useless avoirdupois, picked up the
local gems before his eyes and had them hired out at interest to supply
the new family with bread and butter. And all this in the face of the
fact that _he_ was one of the most prodigious admirers of womankind that
ever left his footprints on the sands of Ashcroft.

"The most flattering appointment a man can have is to be chosen the
custodian of one woman," he said to himself. "Life, to a man, is nothing
if barred from an association of this kind."

At last in despair he wrote to a correspondence paper, and put the whole
case before them.

"I am a young man, aged forty-two, unmarried. I want a solution to the
problem why I am unmarried. I have tried and failed. I have had Cupid
working overtime for me, but he has failed to pierce any of the bosoms I
have coveted. No woman has ever loved me, and although I am aware that
it is better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all, I
may say that this affords very poor manna for my hunger."

He received this answer:--

"Young man"--(emphasis was placed upon the young)--"you are too slow.
You are asleep, stagnant, dormant, hibernating. The whole world is
'beating you to it.' Get over your baby superstition about love, and
'get busy.'"

The letter dropped from his fingers as though it had been his monthly
grocery bill. "Heavens!" he exclaimed, "here is the solution to the
whole mystery.--Forget love and 'get busy.'" Instead of expecting to be
loved, he would love. If he could not get one who would want _him_, he
would get one he wanted himself.

Now, he had had such an admiration for the fair sex as a whole, that he
could not concentrate his attention on the individual one. He had been
trying to extract a cinder from the eye of the opposition when he could
not see properly owing to having a large obstacle in his own eye.
However, he proceeded to "get busy." But what vision would he "get busy"
on? Every woman had an attraction peculiar to herself, one of which
could not be said to extinguish the other. And then, most of them were
"staked off." One fellow or another had "strings" on every one he
approached. But he kept on fishing with all his might. In the meantime
it came to pass that the girls continued to cast their spells upon
almost anyone but him; even the itinerant stranger who just chanced
along "hitting the high spots," and "travelling on his face" came in for
large portions of the "sweet stuff" that was being cast lavishly abroad.

It seemed cruel that he who had such an admiration for those on the
other side of the house, and who had such an ambition to own one as an
asset, should be so unmercifully neglected. His efforts to catch a wife
by the legitimate method, according to his idea, had ended like a
fishing expedition in the off season in the Thompson river. About this
time he found that the nomads were catching all the fish. He made up his
mind to become a nomad and be a wanderer on the face of the Cariboo
district. He could not love.

He resigned his position in Ashcroft and migrated up the Cariboo road.
He invaded Lillooet, Clinton, 150 Mile House, Soda Creek, Quesnel,
Barkerville and Fort George. To secure a wife he became an itinerant.
Within the space of a year he was back at his position at Ashcroft more
lonely than ever. It was of no avail--he was hoodooed. He could not
love.

At this juncture he made another and final discovery, and it was the
most important one he had made at this period of his renaissance. He
found out that "get busy" had two meanings. It meant "forget love of all
kinds and go to it in a business-like way." This had been a chronic case
of a man, in his ignorance, who was prospecting around the hills of this
British Columbia of ours for a metal that had no existence. He did not
know that ninety out of every hundred marriages resulted merely from
convenience, or a mere desire to be married on the part of the man, and
the love of a private home on the part of the woman; that nine out of
the remaining ten were marriages in which one of the parties only was
the love-giver, and that the remaining one was the ideal, in which love
was mutual and beautiful. This Ashcroft bachelor fellow was a
sentimental monstrosity. He was imbued with the superstition that one
must love, and be loved, before one could marry. No aphorism could be
further removed from the truth. The glaring realism dawned upon him that
it was quite possible for a person to flounder through this world and be
entirely immune from the love epidemic; that few people ever marry the
one they do really love, that some are never sought after by one of the
opposite sex during their whole life, only in a business-like way; that
modern society was too busy to entertain such a silly superstition as
love--that Cupid was a dead issue. He had been waiting until he fell in
love or till someone fell in love with him, and thus opportunity had
been knocking at his door all those years in vain. When he had joined
the iconoclast society, and had shattered this pet idol of his, he began
to look around for a wife in the same manner as he would for a car of
Ashcroft potatoes--and he soon "landed" one branded with the "big A."
And the amusing part of it is they lived happily--all of which goes to
prove our contention that those who love before marriage are not always
the happier after their nuptials; and sometimes it is a mere matter of
making the best of a bad bargain, and you will be perfectly happy though
married, even if your stock in trade of the love commodity is very much
impoverished.



Of the Chief who was Bigger than He Looked


Once upon a time in the Thompson valley there lived a mighty warrior
kookpi (chief) called Netaskit. He was chief of all the Shuswaps. His
name had become a household word the entire length and breadth of the
Pacific coast, and the tribes along the Fraser river and the Pemberton
Meadows had knowledge, through many sad experiences, of his bravery and
daring. Among his own people his word was law, and to show the white
feather in the face of an enemy meant certain court martial and death at
his hands. Although his subjects feared him, they respected him beyond
belief; and to serve him was considered a great honor. It is not our
purpose to convey the impression that this kookpi was cruel,
treacherous, cold-blooded and selfish only, and a man who had no other
ambition than war and the spoils of war. No, if he was a fiend on the
battlefield, he was a lamb at home. He had a soft side that battled with
the concrete in him at times. His weakness was his insane love for
woman, and in his own kikwilly house (home) he was as timid as the
smumtum (rabbit). His respect for Cupid had as much avoirdupois as his
respect for Mars. His love for his wife was an insane love--it far
outdid his love for his chiefdom. And he had a wife who was worthy of
him and as faithful to him as he was to her--she adored the very skins
he wore across his shoulders. Being happily united himself, and having
such a respect for Cupid and the fair sex, he passed a law that no man
or woman should take unto themselves a partner for life until thoroughly
satisfied and convinced that the love flames between them would be of
everlasting duration, and were genuine.

"Woman," he said, "was made to be loved, and not enslaved. My
consideration for the welfare of our women exceeds that for our men,
because man is so constituted as to be more able to take care of
himself." So much was this old prehistoric chief away ahead of his dark,
heathen times. But this masculine weakness of his was nearly his undoing
with his warriors, as we shall see.

One day a rumor went abroad that the Statlemulth (Lillooet Indians) were
making their way through the Marble Canyon, and down Hat Creek, to
attack the Shuswaps on the Bonaparte, in revenge for some misdemeanor at
some former time, on the part of the latter. It was just about the time
of the year when the Shuswaps were in the habit of invading the Fraser
river at Pavilion for their winter supply of salmon; and, to be cut off
from this source of revenue would mean a great deal to the Bonaparte
Indians. The invading army must be met and the entire band put to death,
or made prisoners.

Telephone messages in Indian fashion were flashed from kikwilly house to
kikwilly house, and in a couple of days the entire strength of the
Shuswaps was gathered in a great army with Netaskit at its head. The
march began at an early hour the following morning, and the enemy was
met near the mouth of the canyon where they had called a halt for the
purpose of hunting and putting up o-lil-ies (berries). In a moment the
air was filled with war whoops, and the arrows flew thick and fast. The
women took to their heels and ran the moment the fray began, and they
did not stop until they reached Squilachwah (Pavilion) near the Fraser
river. The smumtum and the groundhog betook themselves to the high
mountains, so great was the battle, and their fright--and it is only
within recent years that they have ventured back to that spot. The
battle raged loud and long. Netaskit was in the thick of the fight and
claimed that he had killed twenty of the enemy with his own bow. Many
were wounded and slain on both sides; but the Shuswaps won the day, and
they led home in triumph fifty prisoners. And now comes the most
interesting part of our story. A counsel of war was held, and it was
decided that the prisoners should be put to death the following day.
When the time arrived, the unfortunate men were brought out, bound with
thongs hand and foot and placed in line near the big chief's wigwam.
Fifty victors were lined up in front of them with their bows and arrows
ready to shoot at the word of command from their chief, who was pacing
up and down in his dignity and anger. Suddenly the love demon took
possession of him. He thought of his love for his wife--her love for
him. He pictured to himself his possible death and the agony of his
widow. He pictured her death and his own agony of mind at his loss. He
shuddered as the messages flashed through his mind. He looked at the
unfortunate victims--he thought of their women--sweethearts, wives.

"Halt!" he shouted to his men. And turning to the wretches before him he
said:

"Statlemulth! listen. You have committed a great wrong in making this
expedition against the Shuswaps. The Ko-cha Kookpi (god) is very angry.
You should be shot dead but you can save yourselves. Listen. I will
pardon every man of you who can produce a wife or a sweetheart who can
prove to my satisfaction that her love for you is greater than the voice
of the Thompson, and fiercer than the roar of the Fraser."

"Never!" shouted the tribesmen, and every bow and arrow was turned
simultaneously upon the chief.

"Slaves! Cowards!" thundered the enraged and fearless kookpi, like a
mountain lion in pain. In a moment every bow and arrow fell by its
warrior's side.

As the consequence of this act on the part of his subjects is of no
importance to this story, we will leave it to the reader's imagination
just what sort of punishment was doled out to them. It is safe to say,
however, that Netaskit was too wise a kookpi to order the death of so
many brave followers, as this means of gratifying his wounded pride
would simply mean the weakening of the tribe, and would put his own life
in jeopardy.

A message was sent to the Lillooet illihae (country) with the glad
tidings, and at the close of two days a swarm of smootlatches (women),
and keekas (girls), rushed into camp breathless, and began hysterically
searching for their respective sweethearts or husbands among the
prisoners. The scene was more than poetic; and it was pathetic in the
extreme. It was a scene that had not occurred before on the broad
surface of the earth--those fifty distracted squaws rushing into the
jaws of death in their eagerness to rescue the ones without whom life
would be empty, useless, aimless. It is said that it melted the heart of
the very rocks about the place, so that to this day the surface of the
earth at that spot betrays evidence of having at one time been running
lava.

The captives were lined up before the kookpi's kikwilly house, and the
little army of love-mad squaws, awful in their primitiveness, rushed at
the line, selected their respective skiuchs (men), and clung to them,
hugged them, kissed them wildly in the awful heat of their passion, each
in her eagerness to save one at all hazards for her own selfish, but
natural self. And no power on earth could tear them asunder. It melted
the hearts of the victors so that they called out with one voice: "Go,
you have won!" and as they moved away shouting, and laughing, and
dancing, Netaskit was seen to weep, so great was his respect for Cupid.

"O woman! woman!" he was heard to exclaim. And this is the reason there
is so much harmony between the Statlemulth and the Shuswap to-day.



Of Simple Simon Up To Date


Once upon a time in Ashcroft there lived a "Simon" who had no knowledge
of the purchasing value of his salary asset. He did not know that its
buying powers were narrowed down to bread and butter and overalls; and
as a consequence he was victimized down into a very precarious financial
predicament, to say nothing about the valuable and most vigorous and
productive years of his life, that were thrown into the scrap heap of
time, and had to be cancelled from his list of revenue-producers.

When you contemplate a steady wage asset of one hundred dollars per
month coming in with the regularity of clockwork and as sure as the
first day comes around (and the months go by very quickly), you think
you are in a fair way to make some of the local financiers look very
cheap in a few years to come. Why, this means twelve hundred dollars
every time the earth circumnavigates the sun, and is sixty thousand
dollars in fifty years, which is not very long to a man if he can start
just as soon as he passes the entrance and can build on no intervening
lay-off by getting on the wrong side of the boss. But when we offset
with our liabilities, such as tobacco money, moving picture money, car
fare, gasoline, rent, taxes, repairs to the auto, and other trifling
incidentals such as food and clothing, we find at the end of the lunar
excursion that there is no balance to salt down on the right side of our
ledger, and our little castle becomes submerged because it was built
with its foundation on the shifting sands.

But for all that, if a man and his money could be left alone--if money
were not such an envy-producer--if a man with money had not so many
friends and admirers and strangers who love him at first sight--all
might yet be well; and though he might not outclass some of the most
corpulent magnates, he might in time acquire considerable moss in his
own private, insignificant, Simple-Simon sort of way. But the laws of
nature have willed otherwise, and the strongest of us know that it is
needless to go into litigation with the laws of gravitation, or
spontaneous combustion.

Among the workings of nature (which some people say are all for the
best), there is a class of men who have, rather truthfully, been called
"sharks" on account of their fishlike habit of pouncing upon suckers
unawares and without the legal three days' grace being given, and of
loading them into their stomachs--finances and all--before the person
has time to draw and throw his harpoon. It all happens while you are
taking a mouthful of tea, or while you are reading the locals in the
_Ashcroft Journal_, and when the spell leaves, you find that you have
endorsed a proposition with a financial payment down, and the balance
subject to call when you are very much financially embarrassed indeed.

Simple Simon was one of those men who move about this world unprotected
and without having their wits about them. He was not a sawfish, or a
swordfish. So one day when he was walking up Railway Avenue--it was just
the day after he had told someone that he had five hundred dollars of
scrapings salted down, which was earning three per cent, at the local
bank--a very pretentious gentleman, spotlessly attired, accosted him:

"Pardon me. Are you Mr. Simon?"

"I have that asset," said Simple, wondering how the aristocratic
stranger had known him.

"I thought so. I knew at a glance. The fact is, I have just been
speaking with Mr. C. Quick." (This was a lie. Mr. C. Quick was one of
the money magnates of Ashcroft, but had not hired out his name as an
endorsement)--"and he recommended you to me as one of the leading men of
the town." (This was a ruse, but it hit the bull's eye, and at the final
count was one of the most telling shots.)

"I am pleased to meet you," said Simple. "And so am I," said the shark.
"As a matter of fact, I only approach the better part of any community,"
he continued, pulling in on the line. "To tell you the truth, Mr. C.
Quick said you were the only man in the town who had both foundation and
substantial structure from your roots up," and he laughed a broad sort
of "horse-laugh," and slapped Simon on the shoulder.

"You see, with a proposition such as I have there is little use going to
any but men of the greatest intelligence--those are the ones who
understand the magnitude and the security and the ultimate paying
certainties of the proposition which I have to offer you. You may
consider yourself fortunate. It is not everyone who has the opportunity
to get in on the ground floor, as it were, on a sure thing
money-accumulating business. By the way, where is your office?"

Simon led the shark to his private dug-out on Brink Street, and showed
him into one of his cane-bottomed thrones, while he himself sat on the
yet unlaundered bed.

"Of course you understand all about joint stock companies, trust fund
companies, municipal bonds and debentures," said the magnate, unrolling
a bundle of unintelligible papyrus showing assets which did not exist,
and spreading them out on the bed in front of his victim. The whole
system had been premeditated and had been systematically worked out.
"Now," said the shark, pointing at long and encouraging figures, "those
are assets and these are our liabilities; and besides we have a million
dollar Government endorsement. Now, the fact of the matter is this. You
have a few dollars. I have a few dollars; Tom, Dick and Harry have a few
dollars, and so have Jessie and Josie. Now, those little private funds
which we all cherish and fondle, and hug to our bosoms, and jingle in
our pockets, are of no use to us. They are dead. Of course they are
earning three per cent, at the B.N.A. or the Northern Crown--what bank
do you deposit with?--of course, it does not matter; there is no
competition among them; they pay you three per cent. and charge you ten
per cent. Now, we are very much different. We give you all your money
will make--if it is ten, twenty, thirty, fifty, or one hundred per cent.
See?

"Now, the fact of the matter is this: as I said before, those small
individual fortunes are of no use to us individually; they have no
earning power; they will not buy anything. But, put them all
together--ah! the result is magical. You see, it is the aggregate that
counts. Now with this theory in view, our company gets to work and
canvasses the country and it gathers together thousands of little,
useless, insignificant, unproductive funds like yours and mine and joins
them together into one vast, giant aggregate which we call a trust fund.
I see it is appealing to you. It could not be otherwise. Now, with this
aggregate, you, and I, and everyone can own vast estates, buy forty-year
debentures, lend money on approved security, buy real estate, the
unearned increment of which will net in some cases two or three hundred
per cent. interest, besides an increased valuation on the original sum
invested."

Perhaps every living man in the Dominion of Canada and the United States
who betrays the least pretensions to having any money in his possession
has heard a harangue of this kind many times in his life, and it is just
as certain that the first time he heard it he was stung. Now, Simon was
no exception to the rule, which proves that we are not all swordfish.
He felt himself being hypnotized, magnetized, charmed. He pictured
himself as personal owner of lots, houses, acres--a joint owner of vast
tracts of land along the G.T.P. or C.N.R.; and the shark showed him a
facsimile of the certificates that would be issued to him when his
shares were paid up in full. They were very neat and legal-like, and a
man should be proud to own one of them.

"You see," said the magnate, as he realized that he had the victim
falling into his trap, "we do not require to sell any more shares; we
are doing well enough now, and some say we should leave well enough
alone. But, a corporation of the nature of ours cannot rest on its oars;
we must reach out for greater and better things, and to accomplish this
we must have more capital. The fact is, a proposition has just been put
to us, the nature of which I am not just now at liberty to divulge, but
it is a sure winner. But it takes capital, as I said before, and we are
compelled to sell some more stock. And, after all, it will be you and I
who will benefit, and a hundred or more favored ones who have small
savings which are netting them nothing at present, and the principal of
which is rusting in the bank at three per cent.

"Now, to come down to business. Will you join us? Now, I am not going to
press you. There are hundreds too willing; but remember, you will regret
it if you lose this chance of a lifetime. Opportunity is knocking at
your door; seize it by the fore-lock.

"The proposition I have to put before you is this: We are selling
shares at one hundred dollars each, but if you have not the cash now, we
will allow you six, twelve and eighteen months on the balance with a
payment of five hundred dollars down if you buy twenty shares. The
reason we are able to make such liberal offers is that we receive the
same terms in buying up debentures."

Simon was completely victimized. His tormentor might just as well have
addressed him in Latin, for he knew so little about debentures, joint
stock funds and the intricacies of high finance that he could not follow
the promoter and was completely dazzled with the obscurity and eloquence
of the language. And then the magnate spoke so rapidly that only
lightning could keep up with him. The result was that Simon fell into
the trap and was pinched. He not only gave away all his rainy day money,
but he burdened himself with a debt, which, to a working man, was a
mountain, and more than he could carry. He sold his house to meet the
next two payments, and just as the third payment came due the company
went into liquidation, and it consumed all their available assets to
discover that there was nothing left for the shareholders. And Simple
Simon began life over again.



Of the High Class Eskimo


Away up in the great northland, even further north than the northern
boundary of British Columbia, there lives a race of people who form, and
have formed, no part of the great human civilization of the world which
has been, and is going on in the more moderately climatic regions of the
earth. For centuries they have lived apart, and have taken no notice of
the big world which has been, and is living itself to death far from
them down in the indolent south, where the sun could shine every day in
the year--where it did shine every day that it was not cloudy, and where
there was no long, dreary, dark midnight of at least four months'
duration; where the sun did not dip beneath the horizon at about the
beginning of October, and disappear, not to be seen again until the end
of March; where, in some parts, there was no snow, while in others only
for a few weeks during the year. No snow! no ice! Can you imagine such a
condition? And up there it is almost the Eskimo's only commodity. He
eats it, drinks it, lives in it, sleeps on it, and his castle is built
of it. And he endures it year after year, from his babyhood to his gray
days, and there appears no hope for him. Bare ground is a curiosity to
the Eskimo; and there are no spring freshets. Their bridges across their
streams are formed of ice; the very salt sea is covered with it; and
they venture out on those great floors of ice in search of the polar
bear and the right whale which form almost their only food, and supply
them with their only source of clothing, heat and light. In the midst of
his narrow and cramped circumstances the Eskimo can laugh at times as
heartily as any other human, and he has grown extremely low in stature
to accommodate himself to the small opening which gives access to his
igloo (house). The average man or woman does not exceed much over four
feet. No other explanation seems to have been offered by science for the
extreme dwarfishness in stature of this curious race of people.

Like the polar bear--almost their only associate in those northern and
frozen wilds--the idea never occurred to this people to migrate south
where the earth is bare and warm, and is clothed in a green mantle;
where the sun shines every day; where the land is flowing with milk and
honey; where peaches and water melons grow, and where it is not
necessary to go through a hole in the ice to take a bath. No, this
strange people, whose food is ice, whose bed is ice, whose home is ice,
and whose grave is ice, are part and parcel of the snowy north; and they
live on, apparently happy and contented with their hard life and
uncongenial environment. Where the white man begins to be uncomfortable,
the Eskimo begins to be at home. Where the white man leaves off the
Eskimo begins, and his haunts penetrate away into the far north--into
the land of perpetual ice and snow. Where we go only to explore he
builds his permanent abode.

But this is not a history of the geographical distribution of men; it is
to be the story of an Eskimo who went astray according to the moral
ideals of his immediate tribesmen.

Once upon a time there lived in this northland of which we have been
speaking a young native who had mysteriously arrived at the conclusion
that the life of an Eskimo was a very narrow and fruitless existence
indeed, and that the conditions under which they lived were totally
inadequate to supply the demands of a twentieth century human being. In
the midst of the other members of the family he assumed an attitude of
weariness and contempt for his associates and environs. "One may as well
associate with a polar bear," he soliloquized. "Man was made to
accomplish things; the Eskimo is no further advanced in the scale of
living, organic beings, to all intent and purpose, than the polar bear,
or the walrus. He is born, lives, eats, sleeps, hunts, kills, dies, and
is buried in the cold frozen earth, if he does not fall through a hole
in the ice into the bottomless sea. To the south of us is a great
healthy world where men live; where they have discovered all that the
world has to give, and where they enjoy those things to the utmost;
where they read and write and take records of their doings. Me for the
south!" he shouted, and he made up his mind to migrate at the first
opportunity and be in the swim with men. "I must learn to read and
write and think, even if I have to forget my own language," he declared.

Now, it came to pass that as he was soliloquizing as above one morning,
a girl appeared before him. She was so muffled up in furs that only an
Eskimo could distinguish whether the bundle was male or female. She sat
down beside him and placed her short, stubby, muffled arm as far around
his neck as it would go, and in this attitude she coaxed, and begged,
and prayed, and argued with him, thinking that she might resurrect him
to himself again. But when she found that his mania was for the south,
she wept as only woman can weep the whole world over, even in the far
north where the tears are in danger of freezing to her cheeks. But he,
in his brutish, advanced-thought sort of way, pushed her from him.

"If you love me you will help me to go," he said. "If you love me you
will stay," she responded.

He rose and moved towards his igloo; she followed. He crawled like a
bear through the thirty feet or more of narrow tunnel which led into the
hut proper. She did likewise. In the igloo he threw himself down on the
ice floor among the squalor and quantities of bear meat in various
stages of decomposition. The smell from the whale-oil lamp almost choked
him. The girl sat down and continued to cling to him.

"Let me go to the south and I will make a lady of you," he said. "I will
give you gold and silver and feather beds. These environs are not fit
for a bear to hibernate in. Just think of our branch of the human family
existing and suffering up here among the ice and snow for thousands of
years and not having advanced one step from the hovel in which we were
first produced? Is the Eskimo destined to everlasting failure--perpetual
degeneration? Must you and I be satisfied and consent to endure this
animal existence to the end of our days because it is our only heritage
from our ancestors? No! I say, a thousand times no. I am ashamed of
myself, my ancestors and my entire race," he shouted, and the girl
almost trembled in fear of him. He must surely be demented. But she
still clung to him, thinking that her enchanting presence might cure
him. Thus love can be a very warm thing even up among the cold ice and
snow. Their cold, half frozen cheeks came together and she kissed him.
"Stay," she murmured, coaxingly, as only a woman can.

"I will take passage south," he continued unheedingly, "and will plunge
myself into the midst of the big, busy, warm world, and will gain with
one bound that social condition which it has taken the white man
thousands of years to attain."

Now, after all, was this man not right, and is the Eskimo not to be
pitied?

The girl, seeing that her whole world was about to vanish from her, left
the igloo weeping, and again crawled like a bear through the narrow
tunnel to the colder world outside.

One day when the sun was just about to make its appearance above the
horizon, and the long night was nearly at an end, two half starved and
partially frozen white men burrowed their way into our hero's igloo and
asked for food and shelter. The night had been long, dreary, dark and
cold, and the approaching return of the sun was welcomed like a
prodigal. Is it a wonder then that the Eskimo worships the sun? It seems
his only hope, his only comfort; and it would seem to him, more than to
any other, the source of all life, his only friend in his dire need. The
Eskimo offered the two strangers some meat, which they devoured
greedily; and then they told a long, pitiful story. They were explorers.
Their ship had been crushed hopelessly between masses of ice. Fifty had
started on the long journey south. Provisions gave out. Men had dropped
off daily. The trail was one long line of frozen corpses stretched out
in the dark and silent night. They two alone had survived, so far as the
strangers were able to tell. It was the usual tale of woe which befalls
the Arctic or Antarctic explorers. Beginning happily, hopefully,
buoyantly; ending in misery, sorrow and death. The strangers wanted a
guide to lead them to the south--to civilization and warmth. They had
not known what it was to be comfortable for two years; and they had not
seen one square inch of bare ground during that period.

"Oh, for a sight of mother earth!" they shouted. "We would gladly eat
the soil, and chew the bark from the trees." Thus one does not
appreciate the most trivial and simple but indispensable things until
one is deprived of them for a period of more or less duration.

Our hero agreed to guide them so far as his knowledge extended--even to
the very gateway between the north and south lands--if they would
guarantee to guide him from that point into their own big, beautiful
world further on; they taking the helm when his usefulness as a guide
would be exhausted; and he explained his ambition to them.

So, one morning when summer was approaching, and the sun, for the first
time in the year was sending her streamers above the horizon, and when
his sweetheart Lola stood with arms outstretched over the cold snow and
ice towards him, pleading and sending forth her last appeal to his stony
heart, he walked out across the white table-land towards the south, and
was soon a small black speck in the far horizon.

When the strange expedition reached Dawson they discarded their
hibernating costumes and substituted more modern ones, not so much
because they were out of fashion, but because they rendered them
somewhat uncomfortable. At this point the white men grasped the helm and
the Eskimo followed. At Fort Fraser our hero discarded more of his
clothing, and at Quesnel he became determined to strip himself. "I
cannot stand this heat," he said; "why, it will kill me."

"Heat? Kill you?" exclaimed his two companions. "Why, the thermometer is
scarcely above the freezing point. If this moderate climate makes you
uncomfortable, what will be your condition in California? Why, you will
melt away like a candle beside a red-hot stove." And thus they joked
with him, not taking him seriously. So they sailed along and in due time
reached Ashcroft. The Eskimo perspired to such an extent that his
condition threatened to become dangerous. The slightest covering of
clothing became a burden to him, and it was only with the greatest
difficulty that his companions could prevent him from stripping himself
naked. They persuaded him that he should return before it was too late,
but he would not hear of it. "I have made my nest; I will sit in it to
the bitter end," he said. They boarded the midnight train, and in a few
moments he was fleeing to the sunny south a great deal faster than ever
dog team or sledge had taken him across the frozen plateau. And the
farther south he went the more he suffered from the heat, until he was
in great danger of melting away. And then the truth dawned upon him; it
had never occurred to him before. He was a fish trying to live out of
water. He discovered that what his mind had pictured, and his heart had
longed for, his constitution could not endure. He was doomed to live and
die in the frozen north. Oh, those savage, unprogressive, half-animal
ancestors! And for the first time he thought of his igloo, his dog
teams, the polar bear, and the little woman who had pleaded with him to
remain; and he saw her standing as he had left her with outstretched
arms, while her very heart tissue was being torn asunder. "Oh, for the
ice and snow and the long, dark night," he exclaimed; "anything but this
awful heat." When they reached San Francisco he was almost insane, and
his condition became critical; and, as if to punish him for his folly,
the heat became intense for a few days. They rushed him to the sea
shore and he plunged into the water, and refused to come out again.
Those were the most congenial surroundings he had found since he left
the frozen north. He was in such misery that he did not have time to
enjoy the wonders of civilization which he had risked so much to see.
Thus does distance lend enchantment to the view. This was an instance of
how a man had grown up with his environment--had inherited qualities or
weaknesses applicable to his surroundings, had breathed the air of one
planet so long that the atmosphere of another was poison to him. He had
envied others a lot which it was constitutionally impossible for him to
emulate. And he wept for his hereditary infirmities and failings. Could
a man be blamed for regretting his ancestors and cursing the fate, or
the necessity which drove them into those northern fastnesses at the
early stages of their existence? Here again the white man was to blame,
for he, in his eagerness and greed, had seized upon the cream of the
earth for himself and had driven all inferior or weaker peoples to all
the four corners of the globe. And of all the unfortunate, subordinate
races, the Eskimo was the most unfortunate, and their condition savored
of discrimination on the part of the powers that governed or ordained
things.

As our hero had only one ambition while in the north--an insane notion
to go south--he had only one ambition while in California--an
overpowering ambition to go north.

"Oh, for a mantle of snow, and a canopy of ice!" he shouted. "And, oh,
for one touch on mine of my Lola's cold, sweet cheek. Oh, for the
frozen, hopeless northland, even if its condition means the perpetual
doom and obliteration of the whole Eskimo race!"

They shipped him north as fast as steam could carry him, and from Dawson
he went on foot, becoming day by day more and more his natural self.
When he neared his igloo he found his Lola standing with outstretched
arms to welcome him even as she had mourned his departure, and he
realized for the first time that the love and companionship of one woman
is worth more than all the riches and wonders of the world put together.
They embraced each other with the grip of a vice, in the awful power of
their natures, and their affection was as genuine as the most civilized
variety. And there he threw himself on the earth and hugged the snow of
his dear northland.



Of the Sweet Young Things


Once upon a time in Ashcroft a very foolish young man married a very
foolish young lady. They were foolish in so far as they had entered a
matrimonial partnership without the preliminary requisite of love. He
married because he wanted a wife, as all good men do; she married
because she wanted a home, as all good women do. But, as we have said,
they married too hastily in their eagerness for those mere mundane
pleasures. Each had been known to lie awake many nights before their
marriage summing up the situation, and putting two and two together;
but, as they were both liberal in their political views, and had no
conservative opposition, the two and two always made four without a
decimal remainder, and the house voted for marriage with an overwhelming
majority. So they became legally united before they were morally mature
for love, and before they had formal introduction to the great things of
the world. After the solemnization of their marriage they adjourned to a
beautiful little home which had been made to order; and it was guarded
by a beautiful garden of Eden.

For a short time everything went merry as the Ashcroft curlers' ball.
Her happiness was all he lived for, and his comfort was the only excuse
she could find for living. Nothing was too good for his Maud; no man
was like her Manfred. They each congratulated themselves that they had
hooked the best fish from the Thompson. There was nothing in the world
outside of their own sweet lives. How others could live outside of
_their_ sphere was a mystery to them; and the hugs and kisses which they
did not treat themselves to daily would be of no commercial value as a
love asset.

For the first few weeks they spent their evenings with their tentacles
wound around each other so tightly that they would have passed for one
animal; but they had not been welded by that permanent binding quality
which is essential to perpetual happiness. Their natures seemed to
blend, but it was only a case of superfluous friendship between them.
They had no reason to fall out, no excuse to quarrel. They had one mind,
one ambition, and they had agreed, mutually, to salt down a few "plunks"
each payday for their anticipated gray days. In fact, they seemed better
"cut out" for each other than many who marry loving desperately and
savagely.

In a few sweet years they had a few sweet children, and life was one
sweet dream. But they did not love each other, and without oxygen the
lights ultimately became extinguished. But this was only because the
ironies of fate had discovered that they were too happy, and that
something must be done to damage their heavenliness.

The honeymoon might, otherwise, have lasted all their long lives without
interruption. But fate decreed that the clouds should gather from the
north, south, east and west to obliterate their sun. It happened in the
shape of two monsters in the form of Flossy and Freddy. Flossy and
Freddy were float rocks. They had been picked up by Maud and Manfred on
their face value and welcomed to the family circle. They had been
assayed at the provincial assay office and found to contain a valuable
percentage of real collateral; so our hero and heroine could not be
reproached for taking them into their arms and allowing them the freedom
of their home pastures. But, ah! this is where the evil one sneaked on
to the happy hearth-rug--they took the strangers into their arms. They
were all young; and, moreover, human. What could they do when the
failings of their ancestors of a million years took them in an iron grip
and led them in a hypnotic spell toward the brink of ruin? They were as
helpless as the Liberals in B.C. politics in the year 1912. We have
often quoted that every one must love one of the opposite sex at least
once in a lifetime, and our hero and heroine were not immune from this
stern gravitation law, because they were only human after all. What was
the consequence? Maud fell hopelessly in love with Fred, and Manfred
lost his conscience, his manhood, his heart, his soul, his brains, his
job and his salary over the Flossy vision. They had fallen foul of a
strong Conservative party, and civil war broke out. The former happy
couple looked upon each other as intruders, as disturbers of the peace.
While before they could not get close enough, now they could not get far
enough apart. Manfred would enjoy his evenings at the ball or opera
with Flossy, while Fred would entertain Maud, much to her pleasure, at
home. The wife hated to see her husband come home at all, but she went
into hysterics when Fred arrived. When Fred and Flossy were away, or
absent, goodness knows where, the once happy home was like a lunatic
asylum, in which the mania with the inmates was a total disregard of
each other, and where language was unknown. The husband and wife drifted
further and further apart. They ceased to smile, ceased to know each
other, ceased to see each other. They were like a lion and a tiger in
the same cage.

As time went on the once happy home became a horrid prison. The children
became detestable brats who were stumbling-blocks to their ambitions.

Manfred cooked his own meals, or ate at the "French" Café. Maud had to
purchase food and clothing from the local emporium with money she had
saved up before marriage while waiting table at the "Best" Hotel.
Finance became frenzied, for Manfred spent both principal, interest and
sinking fund on his affinity. Starvation and the cold world were staring
them in the face, for the wolf and the collection man were howling at
the door. The city cut off their light and water supply for non-payment
of dues, and were about to seize the property for arrears; so they were
on the water wagon and in darkness, but still they would not regain
consciousness.

The usual course of events did not apply in this strange case. There was
no jealousy floating on the surface on the part of the husband and wife.
Maud ignored Manfred's insane attitude towards Flossy because she had
the same love-blind sickness and could see no one but Fred. Far from
being jealous, Manfred viewed his wife in the light of a white man's
burden which he could not shake off. Christian's burden was fiction
beside it. Flossy was the only star in his firmament--the only toad in
his puddle.

The children were neglected, and ran wild in the bush. It was as though
some great Belgian calamity had overtaken the household and had riven it
asunder. The garden lost its lustre, irrigation was discontinued, the
fruit trees lost their leaves prematurely; the very willows wept. The
pickets fell from the fence unheeded; the stovepipe smoked, and the
chickens laid away in the neighbor's yard. The house assumed the
appearance of a deserted sty. Divorce was suggested inwardly--that
modern refuge to which the weak-minded flee in seeking a drastic cure
for a temporary ailment; and all this disruption in two hearts which had
tripped along together so smoothly and pleasantly. Surely love,
misapplied, is a curse. It is surely sometimes a severe form of
insanity. If so, those two were insane, just waiting for the pressure to
be removed from the brain. And, theirs was a pitiful and unfruitful case
indeed. They were--

        Thirst crazed; fastened to a tree,
        By a sweet river running free.

In the meantime Fred and Flossy were having "barrels" of amusement at
the expense of the demented ones. Fred and Flossy were perhaps in the
wrong in causing such an upheaval in a very model household. But they
were young, and the mischief had taken root before they suspected that
any such danger was in existence. When the awfulness of the situation
dawned upon them they looked at each other one day in the interrogative
and agreed that the poisonous weed should be uprooted. But since it had
grown to such proportions it was difficult to arrive at a means by which
the evil could be strangled. Now Fred and Flossy loved each other, and
the lady was just waiting for the gentleman to put the motion, so that
she would have an opportunity to second it.

The thirst-crazed husband and wife, however, were too blind to observe
that anything unusual existed between their two friends, and they
continued to float down that smooth but awful river to destruction.

"Why does she not die?" whispered the demon within the man.

"Why does he not fall into the Thompson and get drowned for
accommodation?" questioned the evil one in the heart of the woman.

At last the eruption became "Vesuvian," and the ashes from the crater
threatened to re-bury Pompeii--we mean Ashcroft. Thoughts of suicide as
the only means of relief bubbled up at intervals.

"Give me love or give me death," they shouted when the fever was at its
highest.

It is impossible to say just how this war would have ended if an
unforeseen neutral incident had not brought an influence to bear which
made a continuation of the conflict an impossible and aimless task.

One day the deaf, and dumb, and blind husband and wife were sitting by
the neutral hearth as far apart as it was possible to be removed and yet
be able to enjoy the friendly heat of the neutral air-tight heater. The
neutral cat jumped up on the husband's knee, but in his belligerent mood
he dashed it to the floor. The wife picked it up and stroked its sleek
fur. The neutral children were out in the garden abusing the flowers and
breaking pickets from the fence; and one had an old saw and was sawing
at the trimmings of the cottage like a woodsman sawing down a cedar at
the coast.

There was rustling of a lady's skirt, and the tramp of hurried feet on
the garden path outside. The next moment the door was pushed open and
Fred and Flossy dashed in, laughing like to split their sides.

"You tell them," said Fred.

"No, you," said Flossy, blushing deeply.

"No, you," said Fred, and he seized Flossy's hand.

"Well, you know, Fred has--" she began.

"To make a long story short," said Fred, "we are to be married, and the
date has been fixed for June."

When Vesuvius buried up Pompeii the people could not have been more
horrified than the belligerent husband and wife. They looked at each
other for the first time in six months. The man pitied the woman, and
cursed himself for crossing swords with her. The woman at once
recognized her husband as a hero, and was ashamed of herself. They each
waited for the other to make the first confession, but it was left to
both. They sprang into each other's arms and became welded for life in
one beautiful but awful squeeze.

The fright had cured them. It had opened their eyes to the realization
of the ridiculousness of the situation, and revealed the criminality of
their past behavior.

The volcano ceased to pour forth lava. The earth-tremblings became
still. The sun peeped out from behind the clouds. Manfred got back his
job on the railway. The water and light arrears were paid up. The fence
was repaired, and the garden irrigated. The children were called in from
the woods and curried down. Kisses and smiles took the place of scowls
and curses. The sideboard was replenished, and the hens were persuaded
to work for their own family. Even the willows ceased to weep; and, oh,
my! but it was a beautiful resurrection. And thus Paradise was gained
again.



Of the Two Ladies in Contrast


Once upon a time in Ashcroft two ladies were thrown into the same
society; because in Ashcroft there is only one class. When any function
took place the glad hand was extended to one and all. For every dollar
possessed by one of the ladies' husbands the other husband had five.
Mrs. Fivedollars was very extravagant in her dress and domestic
department, and Mrs. Onedollar was very envious and ambitious. The
husband of the one dollar variety was more or less of a henpeck because
he could not multiply his income by five and produce a concrete result.

It was a very predominating mania with Mrs. Onedollar to shine in
society with as great a number of amperes as her rival; and this
ambition gave rise to one of the greatest domestic civil wars that
Ashcroft has even seen. Mrs. Fivedollars had no envy. There was no
corner in the remote recesses of her heart rented by this mischievous
goddess. She made no effort to "outfashion" fashion or to outshine her
neighbors. What she displayed in dress did not extend beyond the natural
female instincts for attire. Of course she had no cause to be envious,
being by far the best dressed lady in town without undue effort. Mrs.
Onedollar viewed the situation from a social apex, and the more she
studied the situation the more she realized that the world was
discriminating against her. From being the best of friends, they
developed into the most deadly of enemies.

Now, it came to pass that the husbands of those two ladies were the best
of friends. They met frequently in the "Best" and "Next Best" hotels and
drank healths in the most harmless and jolly manner. They often met at
their places of business and exchanged ideas. They had business
relations with each other which terminated to the advantage of both. To
quarrel with each other, to them, was much the same as to quarrel with
their bread and butter. They had absolutely no ambitions with regard to
their personal appearance. They had a suit of clothes each; when that
was old or shabby they got another one. But, in this respect, man is
very different from woman. All man wants is covering; a woman must have
ornament, and she must equal, if not outshine, her neighbor. The tension
between the two ladies became greater until it was almost at the
breaking point. Several attempts had been made by the distracted
husbands to unscrew the strings which they knew were about to snap, but
the result was nil.

"The vixen," said the one. "The hussy," said the other; and when two
ladies develop the habit of calling each other such queer pet names, a
reconciliation seems very remote indeed.

The climax came at the annual Clinton ball. This was one of those
historic functions to which everyone is extended a hearty invitation,
and it is one of the great events of the season. The entire Lillooet,
Yale and Cariboo districts participate--it is a regular meeting of the
clans. And that year was no exception. All our friends were there,
including our heroes and heroines. The music was throwing its waves of
delightful chords through the hall and over the heads of the throng of
dancers. Something happened! No one knew just what it was, but in the
middle of the floor two ladies were seen tearing each other's hair and
draperies. Heavens! it was our two heroines. The tension had reached the
limit--the strings were broken. In a moment our two heroes were on the
scene, and each one seized his bundle of property and rushed with it to
safety. The two ladies were bundled into their autos and hurried home to
Ashcroft in the middle of the night.

The next day a council of war was held by the two husbands and it was
unanimously agreed that something must be done.

"I have it!" exclaimed Mr. Fivedollars. "Now, listen. I will take you in
as a partner in business. I will give you twenty years to pay your
share, and we will dress our wives exactly alike." The plan was adopted,
and the result was phenomenal. Mr. Onedollar had at last multiplied his
insignificant unit by five and had a concrete accumulation. The two
ladies dressed themselves alike extravagantly, and all rivalry ceased.
They became great friends again and lived happily ever after. And all
this disturbance and discord of human hearts was over a miserable bundle
of inanimate drapery.



Of the Ruse That Failed


Once upon a time in Ashcroft there lived a lady who had the wool pulled
over her husband's eyes to such an extent that he had optical illusions
favorable to the "darling" who deceived him. His most alluring illusion
was a booby idea that his "pet" was an invalid, and she kept pouring oil
on the joke to keep it burning, and pulled the wool down further and
further so that hubby could not see the combustible fluid she was
pouring into the flames. Her illness was one of those "to be continued"
story kinds--better to-day, worse to-morrow--and she "took" to the
blankets at the most annoying and inopportune moments; and every time
she "took" an indisposition she expected hubby to pull down the window
curtains and go into mourning. But he, the hardhearted man, would
continue to eat and smoke and sleep as though no volcanic lava were
threatening to submerge the old homestead. His sympathy was not enough;
he should stop eating, stop sleeping, and stop smoking--he should be in
direct communication with the undertaker and negotiating about the price
of caskets.

His wife had the misleading conviction that when she was ill her case
was more serious than that of anyone else. In fact, no one else had ever
suffered as she suffered; their ailments were summer excursions to the
antipodes compared with hers, and when hubby argued that all flesh was
subject to ills and disorders, that almost every unit of the human
species had toothaches and rheumatics, the argument was voted down
unanimously by the suffragette majority as illegitimate argument.

Gradually hubby became convinced that his wife was an invalid, and he
went into mourning as much as a man could mourn the loss of a joy that
he had grasped for, and just missed in the grasping. He enjoyed the
situation as much as a man could who had discovered that he had
amalgamated himself with an hospital which was mortgaged for all it was
worth to the family physician. Out of his salary of seventy-five dollars
per month sixty-five was devoted towards the financing of the doctor's
time payments on his automobile; the balance paid for food, clothing,
water, light, and fuel, and supplied the wolf with sufficient allowance
to keep him from entering the parlor in the concrete. But the
philosopher, as all men must ultimately become, concluded to make the
best of his bad real estate investment. He resigned himself to a life of
perpetual, unaffected martyrdom. After all, it was his personal
diplomacy that was at fault--he should not have bought a pig in an
Ashcroft potato sack.

During the first year of their matrimonial failure they had rooms at the
"Best" Hotel, and the girls carried breakfast to the bride's room seven
mornings of every week at about 10.30, where the "invalid" devoured it
with such greed and relish that they became suspicious and talked "up
their sleeves" about her. Three days each week she had all meals carried
up to her, and the girls wondered how she could distribute so much
proteid about her system with so little exercise. The extreme
healthfulness of her constitution was the only thing that saved this
woman from dying of surfeit. The only occasions on which she would rise
from her lethargy was to attend a dance or social of some kind given at
Walhachin or Savona--she did not avoid one of them, and on those
occasions she would be the liveliest cricket on the hearth, the biggest
toad in the puddle, while the husband was pre-negotiating with the
physician for some more evaporated stock in the auto. How she ever got
home was a mystery, for she would be more disabled than ever for weeks
to come. Of course she had just overdone her constitutional
possibility--she said so herself, and she should know.

Whispers went abroad that she was lazy, and they became so loud that
hubby heard them over the wireless telephone. He became exasperated. "My
wife a hypocrite? Never! The people have hearts of stone--brains of
feathers--they do not understand."

One day--it had never occurred to him before--he suggested that they
consult a specialist in somnolence. But she would not hear of it; there
was nothing wrong with her; all she wanted was to be left alone. In a
short time hubby began to consider her in the light of a "white man's
burden," and had distorted visions of himself laboring through life with
an over-loaded back action.

One day the hotel proprietor advised him of a contemplated raise in his
assessment to re-imburse the business for extras in connection with
elevating so much food upstairs, which was not part and parcel of the
rules and regulations of the house in committee. Besides, the
accommodation was needless.

"Needless!" exclaimed hubby. "Would you degenerate a lady and gentleman
wilfully. I will leave your fire-trap at once and cast anchor at the
'Next Best.'" The proprietor argued that his competitor was welcome to
such pickings, so he made no comment on the debate.

The "Next Best" was "full up," as it always is, so they carried the
living corpse out on a stretcher, and hubby went batching with his
burden in a three-roomed house on Bancroft Street. When it became
hubby's duty to cook the meals and carry half of them to bed for his
better half every morning before breakfast he began to taste silly and
smell sort of henpeck like. He persisted humbly, lovingly,
self-sacrificingly, henpeckedly, however, until one morning his sun rose
brighter than it had ever done before and he saw a faint glimmer of
light through the wool that was hanging in front of him.

"Perhaps there is such a commodity as superfluous personal sacrifice to
one's matrimonial obligations," he soliloquized. "Perhaps this spouse of
mine with the pre-historic constitution can be cured by an abstract
treatment. Is she ill, or is she playing a wild, deceitful part? Is she
sitting on me with all her weight?" He was willing to allow her the
usual proportion of female indisposition, but a continued story of such
nightmare proportions was beginning to unstring his physical telephone
system. So, to we who have no wool over our eyes, this was one of the
most pitiful and criminal cases of selfish indolence, perhaps coupled
with a belief that a husband, through his sympathy, will love a woman
the more because of her suffering. No supposition, of course, could be
farther from the concrete--a husband wants, requires, admires, loves, a
healthy, active working-partner. Failing this the husband as a husband
is down and out.

When hubby began to realize this an individual reformation was at the
dawning. The very next morning no breakfast arrived by private parcel
post.

"Harry," she exclaimed, "bring me my porridge and hot cakes; I am
starving."

"If you are starving get up and eat in your stall at the table," said
Harry, sarcastically, although it pained him.

"Harry!" she shouted, "you selfish beast!"

For diplomatic reasons Harry was silent.

Harry made an abrupt exit without waiting for adjournment, and went up
town. A new life seemed to be dawning upon him. It was the emancipation
from slavery. He went into the drug store, into the hardware store, into
the hotels and all the other stores--he talked and laughed as he had
never done before.

It was 3 a.m. the following morning when he found himself searching for
the door-knob in the vicinity of the front window. Having gained an
entrance, he was accosted by his wife, who exclaimed: "Harry, you
drunk?"

"Well, y'see, it was the pioneer shupper," said Harry, and he tumbled
into bed.

This was Harry's first ruse. His next move was an affinity. He would
cease to pose as a piece of household furniture--a dumb waiter sort of
thing.

At that time there was a vision waiting table at the "Best" who had most
of the fellows on a string. Harry threw his grappling irons around her
and took her in tow. This went on for some time without suspicion being
aroused on the part of the "invalid," but the wireless telegraphy of
gossip whispered the truth to her one day when she was wondering what
demon had taken possession of her protector. She dropped her artificial
gown in an instant and rushed up Railway Avenue like a militant
suffragette. Just about the local emporium Harry was sailing along under
a fair and favorable wind, hand in hand with his new dream, when he saw
his legal prerogative approaching near the "Next Best" hotel. He
dislodged his grappling-hooks in an instant, stepped slightly in
advance, and feigned that he had been running along on his own steam.
But she saw him and defined his movements. They met like two express
engines in collision, and what followed had better be left buried
underneath the sidewalk of the local emporium. There were dead and dying
left on the field, and they reached home later by two rival routes of
railway.

The stringency endured some days, which time she huffed and he read
Charles Darwin. At the end of that period the ice broke, as it always
does; the clouds rolled away, and the sun began to shine, and they began
to negotiate for peace. They had a long sitting of parliament, and it
was moved and seconded, and unanimously carried, that each give the
other a reprieve. It meant the amalgamation of two hearts that became so
intertwined with roots that nothing earthly could pull them asunder. It
was the founding of one of the happiest homes in Ashcroft. He left his
affinity--she left her bed. They became active working partners. Long
years after he told her of his ruse. She laughed.

"You saved me," she said.

He endorsed the note, and they had one long, sweet embrace which still
lingers in their memory.



Of the Real Santa Claus

I.

CHRISTMAS EVE


Once upon a time it was Christmas eve in Vancouver, B.C., and the snow
was falling in large, soft flakes. The electric light plants were
beating their lives out in laborious heart-throbs, giving forth such
power that the streets and shop windows had the appearance of the
phantom scene of a fairy stage-play rather than a grim reality; they
were lighter than day. There was magic illumination from the sidewalk to
the very apex of the tallest sky-scraper. Being Christmas eve, the
streets were thronged with pleasure seekers, and eager, procrastinating,
Christmas gift maniacs. They were all happy, but they were temporarily
insane in the eagerness of their pursuit. They all had money, plenty of
it; and this was the time of year when it was quite in order to squander
it lavishly, carelessly, insanely--for, is it not more blessed to give
than to receive?

The habiliments of the hurrying throng were exuberant, extravagant and
ostentatious in the extreme. Everyone seemed to vie with every other,
with an envy akin to insanity, for the laurels in the fashion world, and
they were talking and laughing gaily, and some of them were singing
Christmas carols. They did not even seem to regret the soft wet snow
that was falling on their costly apparel and soaking them--they seemed
rather to enjoy it. Besides, they could go home at any time and change
and dry themselves--and, was it not Christmas, the one time of the year
when the whole world was happy and lavish? The persons of the ladies
were bathed in perfume, and the clothing of the gentlemen was spotless,
save where the large, white snowflakes clung for a moment before
vanishing into fairyland. Vancouver was certainly a city of luxury, a
city of ease, a city of wealth, and it was all on exhibition at this
time of approaching festival. Everyone was rich, and money was no
obstacle in the way of enjoyment.

But we have seen one side of the picture only. We have been looking in
the sunlight; let us peer into the shadows. There was a reverse side. A
girl of about thirteen years of age was standing at the corner of
Hastings and Granville offering matches for sale to the stony world. She
was bareheaded, thinly clad, shivering. Her clothing was tattered and
torn. Her shoes were several sizes too large, and were some person's
cast-off ones. It was Christmas, and no one was seeking for matches.
They were all in search of gold and silverware, furs and fancies, to
give away to people who did not require them.

"Matches, sir?" The solicitous question was addressed to a medium-sized,
moderately dressed man who was gliding around the corner and whistling
some impromptu Christmas carol; and she touched the hem of his garment.
This unit of the big world paused, took the matches, and began to
explore his hemisphere for five cents. In the meantime he surveyed the
little girl from head to foot, and then he glanced at the big world
rushing by in two great streams.

"Give me them all!" he said with an impulse that surprised him, and he
handed her one dollar. "Now, go home and dry yourself and go to bed," he
continued. He did not stop to consider that she might not have a home
and a bed, but continued on his way with his superfluity of matches. His
home was bright, and warm, and cheery when he arrived there, and his
wife welcomed him. "I have brought you a Christmas present," he said,
and he handed her the matches. When she opened the package he found it
necessary to explain.


II.

CHRISTMAS

It was Christmas, and the snow was still falling in large, soft flakes.
It was about ten inches deep out on the hills, among the trees out along
Capilano and Lynn Creeks, but it had been churned into slush on the
streets and pavements of Vancouver. The church bells were ringing, and
our gaily clad and happy acquaintances of the evening before were again
thronging the streets; but to-day they were on their way to church to
praise the One whose birthday they were observing. Our friend of the
large heart was also there, and so was his wife--two tiny drops in that
great bucketful of humanity. The match vendor was also there--another
very tiny drop in that great bucketful. "What! Selling matches on
Christmas day?" remarked a passer-by. "You should be taken in charge by
the Inquisition."

"Matches, sir?" said the tiny voice, and she again touched the hem of
our hero's garment. The big-hearted man looked at his tender-hearted
wife, and the tender-hearted wife looked at her big-hearted man. "Yes,
give me them all," he said again, and he handed her another dollar. He
was evidently trying to buy up all the available matches so that he
could have a corner on the commodity. "Here," he continued, "take this
dollar also. Buy yourself something good for Christmas, and go home and
enjoy yourself."

"I have no home, and the shops are all closed," she said, brushing the
wet snow from her hair.

"No home!" exclaimed the lady, incredulously, "and the world is
overflowing with wealth and has homes innumerable. Is it possible that
the world's goods are so unevenly divided?"

The girl began to cry.

"Come and have your Christmas dinner with us," said the lady.

The girl, still weeping, followed in her utter innocence and
helplessness.

Ding-dong, went the merry bells. Tramp, tramp, went the feet of the big,
voluptuous world. Honk, honk, went the horns of the automobiles; for it
was Christmas, and all went merry as a marriage bell.

The fire was burning brightly. The room was warm and cozy. The house was
clean, tidy, and cheery. It was a dazzling scene to one who had been
accustomed to the cold, bare, concrete pavements only.

"My!" exclaimed the girl as they entered. It was a perfect fairyland to
her. It was a story. It was a dream.

"Now, we are going to have the realest, cutest, Christmas dinner you
ever saw," said the lady, producing a steaming turkey from the warming
oven. The girl danced in her glee and anticipation. "But first you must
dress for dinner. We will go and see Santa Claus," smiled the
foster-mother. She retired with a waif, and returned with a fairy, and
they sat down to a fairy dinner.

"What a spotless tablecloth! What clean cups and saucers, and plates and
dishes! What shining knives and forks! What kind friends!" thought the
orphan. "I had no idea such things existed outside of Heaven," she
exclaimed aloud in her rapture.

"It is all very commonplace, I assure you," said the man, "but it takes
money to buy them."

"And yet," philosophized the lady, "if we are dissatisfied in our
prosperity, what must a life be that contains nothing?"

Ding-dong, went the bells. Tramp, tramp, went the feet of the big world
outside. Honk, honk, went the horn of the automobile; but the happiest
heart of them all was the little waif who had been, until now, so
lonely, so cold, so hungry, so neglected. They were the happiest moments
in her whole life. Her time began from that day. But that is many years
ago. The orphan is a lady now in Vancouver; and every Christmas she
gives a dinner to some poor people in honor of those who adopted her and
saved her from the slums.



Of the Retreat from Moscow


Once upon a time four Ashcroft Napoleons, known locally as "Father,"
"Deacon," "Cyclone," and "Skookum," invaded Vancouver to demonstrate at
an inter-provincial curling bonspiel that was arranged to take place at
that city. Their object was to bring home as many prizes and trophies as
they could conveniently carry without having to pay "excess baggage,"
and donate the balance to charity. It was decided later not to take any
of the prizes, as it was more blessed to give than to receive, and they
did not only give away all the trophies, but they gave away all the
games as well--games they had a legitimate mortgage on--and they were
glad to see the other fellows happy.

As a man often gets into trouble trying to keep out of it, so the
Ashcroft chaps lost by trying to win; and here it is consoling to know
that all a man does or says in this world sinks and lies motionless in
the silent past, for in this case it will only be a matter of time when
people will cease to remember. But to leave all joking aside, we beg to
advise that the adventurers were dumped unceremoniously into Moscow by
the C.P.R. officials at about three good morning and had not where to
lay their heads. You could not see the city for buildings; but even at
that embryo hour of the morning the streets were not entirely deserted.
Some people seem to toil day and night, for there were dozens of forms
moving hither and thither like phantoms in the powerful glare of the
electric illuminations. Being Ashcroft people our heroes were accustomed
to city life, and the embarrassment of the situation soon evaporated.
They bundled themselves into a nocturnal automobile which was no sooner
loaded than it "hit" the streets of Vancouver like Halley's comet. It
went up and down, out and in, hither and thither. It tried to leap from
under the invaders, but they kept up with it. It went north forty
chains, east forty chains, south forty chains, and thence west forty
chains to point of commencement. It went here, then there, and
ultimately arranged to stop on Richards Street (named after our John),
at the foot of the elevator of the Hotel Canadian. This was the end of
steel for the auto, the rest of the journey had to be made on foot via
the elevator. It is a very pleasant sensation to have the floor rise and
carry you with it to the third landing, and it only takes three seconds
to make a sixty second journey. At the third floor, after having been
shown their stalls for the night, the bandits went out on an exploring
expedition while the stable man let down some hay.

They located the fire escape, as it is always better to come in by the
front door like a millionaire and leave by the fire escape in the dead
of the night when the stableman is asleep at his post.

Early next morning, at about ten o'clock, they invaded the dining-room
as hungry as hyenas, and had a lovely breakfast of porridge and cream,
ham and eggs, toast and butter, tea or coffee. To encourage the coffee
somewhat the Deacon "dug" his front foot into the lump-sugar bowl and
extracted a couple of aces; and the other mimics followed suit with two,
three, and four spots. The breaking of this fast cost forty-five cents
for the meal, and fifty-five for the waiter just to make the "eat" come
to even money, and they were too large socially to take away small
change economically. Every meal they put into their waste baskets
necessarily extracted one day from the other end of their excursion via
the fire escape, and that is one reason why they returned so soonly.
Cyclone, having drawn on his personal account at a Vancouver branch of
the Ashcroft bank for enough to pay his next meal and car fare, and
Skookum having jotted down the usual morning poetic inspiration on the
sublimity of the situation, the army, led by Father, marched full breast
upon the curling rink building. There were no knights at the gate to
defend the castle, nor did the band meet them at the portal--neither did
the Vancouver curling club. Their arrival, strange to say, created no
commotion; they did not seem to have been anticipated. Things went along
as though nothing extraordinary had taken place.

The appearances at the rink, however, were intoxicating, which largely
made up for the invisibility of the receiving committee. The rink was
somewhat larger than the town hall at Ashcroft, and the great, high,
arched, glass ceiling was studded with electric lights like stars in
the heavens. Extensive rows of seats for spectators encircled the entire
room, and in the centre, the arena was one clear, smooth sheet of hard,
white ice. Several games were in progress, and they saw their old friend
"Tam" playing with his usual Scotch luck and winning for all he was
worth.

Ashcroft selected the ice upon which the first blood was to be
sprinkled. The battle began on schedule time, and as they had
anticipated, they won without a single casualty. As a result of this
"clean up," a private conference was held that night by the Vancouver
and other clubs behind closed doors, at which it was moved, and
seconded, and adopted, that Ashcroft was a dangerous element in their
midst, and that drastic measures must be set in motion at once to arrest
such phenomenal accomplishments or the bonspiel would be lost. All
unconscious of the conspiracy against them, Ashcroft spent the afternoon
riding up and down the moving stairs at Spencer's, led by the "Deak,"
who had had previous practice at this amusement. Curling to them was as
easy as this stairway, and as simple as eating a meal if you cut out the
tipping of the waiter. That night they took in a show which was a "hum
dinger," and should have endured a life-time. What a sweet life it was;
nothing to do but live, and laugh, and curl, and win; if it would only
continue indefinitely without having to worry about the financing of it!
Napoleon "had nothing" on Father, and he felt that he could even "put it
over" on the local star. But something happened the next day. Whether it
was the private conference, or the moving stairs, or the Pantages, or
whether it was that Ashcroft became more careless with success, and
Vancouver more careful with defeat, will never be known. They pierced no
more bull's eyes--and sometimes they missed the entire target. They had
every qualification essential to the successful curler but talent. They
had the rocks, the brooms, the ribbons, the sweaters--they even had the
will. It is strange with all those requisites that they could not win.

The retreat from Moscow took place three days later, and they went
straggling over the Alps in one long string. As though the mortification
of defeat was not enough, a huge joke was prepared for them by the
reception committee of the local curling club, and lemons have been at a
premium in Ashcroft ever since.



Of Sicamous


The Okanagan Valley, in the Province of British Columbia, is bounded on
the north by the mosquitoes at Sicamous, and on the south by the
forty-ninth parallel of north latitude, which is the United States; and
to one who is accustomed to the sand and the sage, the general aspect
throughout gives a most pleasing rest to the eye. A trip to the Okanagan
is like one sweet dream to the inhabitants of the dry belt--a dream that
is broken only once by a dreadful nightmare--the mosquito conquest at
Sicamous; but you forgive and forget this the moment after you awake.
The mosquitoes at Sicamous are as great a menace to that town as the
Germans are to Europe.

The train for the valley, when on time, leaves Sicamous, on the main
line of the C.P.R., at about ten, good morning, but sometimes she waits
for the delayed eastern train. This happens very frequently on
Sundays--for who or what was ever on time on a Sunday? Sunday is the
lazy man's day--the lazy day of the world--the day on which we creep
along out of tune with things.

Now, when you get side-tracked at a C.P.R. station in the Rocky
Mountains waiting for a delayed eastern train, you may as well throw all
your plans into the lake, because they will be out of fashion when you
have an opportunity to use them again, and you will require new
ones--the train may come to-day and she may not come till to-morrow.
But, if that station chances to be Sicamous, and it is Sunday--and it
must be raining heavily, for when it is raining there are no
mosquitoes--you will not regret the delay, and you will be very much
interested if you have an eye for the unique, or if you have the
slightest inclination to be eccentric you will be reminded that--

        There are friends we never meet;
        There is love we never know.

Here people--strangers and friends--meet and nod, smile, talk and depart
ten or twelve times every day. You will wonder how people can talk so
much, and what they get to talk about--people who meet accidentally
here, only for a moment, and will never meet again, perhaps. Almost
hourly, night and day, cosmopolitan little throngs jump from trains,
chat a few moments among themselves, or with others who have been
waiting, and then allow themselves to be picked up by the next train and
rushed off into eternity--that is, so far as you are concerned, for you
will never see them again--and some of them were becoming so familiar.
They are voices and faces flitting across your past; they are always
new, always strange, always interesting; they are laughing, chatting,
smiling, scowling, worrying. There are fair faces and dark faces,
pleasant faces and angry faces, careless faces and anxious faces, and
faces that are thin, fat, long and short. The voices are as varied as
the faces. There is the sharp, clear voice and the dull voice, the
angry one and the pleasant one. There are young and old, beautiful and
ugly, scowls and smiles, the timid and the fearless--the black, the
white, and the yellow; and there are faces that look so much like ones
you know at home that you are just on the point of asking them how the
boys and girls have been since you left. If they had known that they
were the actors on a stage, and you were the audience, conditions might
have been improved--artificially; they might have acted better, with
more "class," but the interest would have been injured; you would have
been robbed of a genuine entertainment. Those people went north, south,
east and west; they went to the four corners of the earth. The sound of
their voices and laughs go up into the tree-tops, up into the hills and
down into the lake, and they are echoed back to us; and that is the only
record that is ever taken, of this interesting drama; and then the
voices fade away east--fade away west.

But you hear the elaborate puffing and snorting of a locomotive as
though laboring under its great load of humanity; there is a loud
whistle from somewhere, and then another; two engines are speaking to
each other; then the bell rings, the engine sweeps by, and the whole
earth trembles--it is the delayed eastern train. There is a great
scramble for entrance. Chance acquaintances are forgotten in the
individual excitement. The steps to one car are blocked by one man who
has enough baggage for ten, and one worried-looking young lady with a
baby is afraid she will lose her train. The train pulls out with a
"swish, swish" of escaping steam under great pressure from the engine,
and the station is robbed of half its population. The familiar faces
have disappeared, but a new throng has been cast into your midst--new
faces, new smiles, new voices, new scowls; and the chatter is renewed
with vigor when we have found ourselves, and are located in several
little isolated bunches. But the Okanagan local is here waiting for our
scalps. There is another scramble of men, women, children, bag and
baggage, for seats, and we are off. The little station platform is
deserted and silent but for the clatter of the wheels of the baggage
truck. The tree tops sigh, the lake murmurs, but they cannot hold us, we
must hurry to the great beyond--the whole world depends upon our
individual movements.



Of the Ubiquitous Cat


Once upon a time I had a very curious experience which had a very
curious ending.

I walked into a strange person's house, uninvited, for some mysterious
reason perfectly unknown to myself.

Sitting promiscuously around an old-fashioned fire-place, in which
blazed a cheery fire, were a man and woman and four small children; and
on a lounge, partly hid under the eiderdown quilt, lay a pure white cat,
half asleep and half awake, and at intervals casting sly glances at some
of the children. The cat seemed to all intent and purpose one of that
human family.

Now, although the cat can be abused like a toy doll by the children
without losing his temper, yet he has the most curiously composed
disposition of all the domestic animals. Although extravagantly
domesticated, and although he shares our beds and tables with impunity,
yet he is, to the mouse, as cruel and treacherous as a man-eating tiger.

However, we did not take up our pen to discuss cat psychology. Upon
entering the strange person's house so unceremoniously, I sat me down
upon a vacant chair, also uninvited, and began to make myself at home.

The strange persons did not seem to take any exception to my strange
behavior, but, kept on talking as though nothing extraordinary had
taken place in the human social regulations. I was more interested in
the cat than I was in the people, and I could not keep my eye from him,
he was so much like our "Teddy" at home.

At last I convinced myself that it _was_ Teddy.

"Where did you get that cat?" I asked.

"Why, we have always had him. We raised him. He sleeps with the children
every night, and gets up with them in the morning--when he is here,"
said the mother.

Our Teddy had the same weakness, and I was so positive that this was he
that I called him by name.

In a moment he came to me and was on my knee--it was indeed Teddy.

Now, here was one of the most unique situations on record.

"This is my cat," I said demandingly.

"It is ours," said the chorus of children's voices.

It suddenly occurred to me that Teddy was in the habit of leaving home
and would be absent for several days at a time. Could it be possible he
had two homes? Did this cat actually accept the affections and
hospitality of two distinct families, at the same time, without once
breathing the truth or giving himself away?

I went home puzzled to my wife and said:

"Do you know, Teddy is not all ours?"

"What do you mean?"

I was just about to tell my strange story when I awoke, and, behold, it
was a dream.



BITS OF HISTORY



Of the Foolhardy Expedition


The people who inhabited this globe during the year 1725 undoubtedly
obtained a different view of things terrestrial than we do who claim the
world's real estate in 1915, because they had no telegraph, no
telephone, no electric light, no automobile, and no aeroplane. How they
managed to live at all is a mystery to the twentieth century biped.
Fancy having to cross the street to your neighbor's house when you
wanted to ask him if he was going to the pioneer supper, and just think
of having no "hello girl" to flirt with. The condition seems appalling.
But what they lacked in knowledge and in indolent conveniences we beg to
announce that they made up in foolhardiness which they called bravery.
Well, if it can be called brave to make a needless target of oneself to
a bunch of savage Indians, why then they had the proper derivation of
the term.

From one of Francis Parkman's admirable works we have seized upon the
scene of our story, which was acted out at the beginning of the
eighteenth century, namely, 1725. The Indians seem to have been very
hostile in those early days in the immediate vicinity of the early New
England provinces; and we are convinced some of the white men were very
hostile as well. Of course we, in our day, cannot blame them--they had
no telephones, autos, electricity, "hello girls"--they had to be
something, so they were hostile towards the Indians.

Dunstable was a town on the firing line of Massachusetts, and was
attacked by Indians in the autumn of 1724, and two men were carried off.
Ten others went in pursuit, but fell into an ambush, and nearly all were
killed. But now we will follow the words of Francis Parkman, who has a
delightful way of relating his stories.

"A company of thirty was soon raised." They were to receive two
shillings and sixpence per day each, "out of which he was to maintain
himself";--very little to risk one's life for; but in those days it was
no concern with a man whether he was killed or not. Besides, it was
worth something to get killed and have Francis Parkman write about you
more than a century later. Perhaps they anticipated this perpetuation of
their names and deeds.

However, "Lovewell was chosen captain; Farwell lieutenant, and Robbins,
ensign. They set out towards the end of November, and reappeared at
Dunstable early in January, bringing one prisoner and one scalp." It
does not seem to us to have paid the interest on the investment of two
shillings and sixpence per day, "out of which he was to maintain
himself," and, for anything we know to the contrary, perhaps the captain
was getting more than this--it has not been recorded. "Towards the end
of the month Lovewell set out again, this time with eighty-seven men.
They ascended the frozen Merrimac, passed Lake Winnepesaukee, pushed
nearly to the White Mountains, and encamped on a branch of the upper
Saco. Here they killed a moose--a timely piece of luck, for they were in
danger of starvation, and Lovewell had been compelled by want of food to
send back a good number of his men. The rest held their way, filing on
snowshoes through the deathlike solitude that gave no sign of life
except the light track of some squirrel on the snow, and the brisk note
of the hardy little chickadee, or black-capped titmouse, so familiar in
the winter woods."

Now here is where the foolhardiness of the expedition begins to appeal
to us. Supposing just here they had met five hundred crazy Indians with
five hundred crazy bows and arrows? And they must have expected it. They
were searching for Indians. Perhaps they were seeking martyrdom? But the
New Englander of the frontier was nothing if not foolhardy. They mistook
it for bravery, and there must have been some bravery amalgamated with
it, because a man must have a certain quantity of that rarity before he
can lend himself out as a target at two shillings and sixpence a day,
"out of which he was to maintain himself."

Now, if you have patience to follow you will learn that they ultimately
met the very thing which you expect--which they must have expected.

"Thus far the scouts had seen no human footprints; but on the twentieth
of February they found a lately abandoned wigwam, and following the
snowshoe tracks that led from it--" Right into the lion's jaw, as it
were. Perhaps they were anxious to be shot to get out of their
misery--"at length saw smoke rising at a distance out of the gray
forest." They saw their finish, and their hearts were filled with joy.
"The party lay close till two o'clock in the morning; then, cautiously
approaching, found one or more wigwams, surrounded them, and killed all
the inmates, ten in number." They were to pay dear for this, as anyone
could have told them. "They brought home the scalps in triumph, ... and
Lovewell began at once to gather men for another hunt.... At the middle
of April he had raised a band of forty-six." One of the number was Seth
Wyman, ... a youth of twenty-one, graduated at Harvard College, in 1723,
and now a student of theology. Chaplain though he was, he carried a gun,
knife and hatchet like the others, and not one of the party was more
prompt to use them.... They began their march on April 15th." After
leaving several of their number by the way for various causes, we find
thirty-seven of them on the night of May 7th near Fryeburg lying in the
woods near the northeast end of Lovewell's pond.

"At daybreak the next morning, as they stood bareheaded, listening to a
prayer from the young chaplain, they heard the report of a gun, and soon
after an Indian.... Lovewell ordered his men to lay down their packs and
advance with extreme caution." Why this caution? "They met an Indian
coming towards them through the dense trees and bushes. He no sooner saw
them than he fired at the leading men." Naturally. We should have said
"leading targets." "His gun was charged with beaver shot and he severely
wounded Lovewell and young Whiting; on which Seth Wyman shot him dead,
and the chaplain and another man scalped him." As yet they had only
entered the lion's den. "And now follows one of the most obstinate and
deadly bush-fights in the annals of New England.... The Indians howled
like wolves, yelled like enraged cougars, and made the forest ring with
their whoops.... The slaughter became terrible. Men fell like wheat
before the scythe. At one time the Indians ceased firing; ... they
seemed to be holding a 'pow-wow'; but the keen and fearless Wyman crept
up among the bushes, shot the chief conjurer, and broke up the meeting.
About the middle of the afternoon young Fry received a mortal wound.
Unable to fight longer, he lay in his blood, praying from time to time
for his comrades in a faint but audible voice." One, Keys, received two
wounds, "but fought on till a third shot struck him." He declared the
Indians would not get his scalp. Creeping along the sandy edge of the
pond, he chanced to find a stranded canoe, pushed it afloat, rolled
himself into it, and drifted away before the wind. Soon after sunset the
Indians drew off.... The surviving white men explored the scene of the
fight.... Of the thirty-four men, nine had escaped without serious
injury, eleven were badly wounded, and the rest were dead or dying....
Robbins, as he lay helpless, asked one of them to load his gun, saying,
'The Indians will come in the morning to scalp me, and I'll kill
another of them if I can.' They loaded the gun and left him." The
expected had occurred. Most of them had been killed. Anyone could have
told them this before they set out--they could have made the same
prophecy for themselves. And after all they had accomplished nothing but
their own deaths. The story of their return rivals that of Napoleon's
retreat from Moscow. Of the whole number eleven ultimately reached home.
We leave it to the reader to determine whether this was an exhibition of
bravery or foolhardiness, or a mixture of both.

We congratulate ourselves that we did not live on the frontier of New
England in the year 1725.



Of the Laws of Lycurgus


Lycurgus reigned over a place called Lacedæmon, which is a part of
Greece, about the year 820 B.C. Now, this is a great many years ago, and
is further back into the archives of history than most of us can
remember. There is no doubt, however, that this great ruler, Lycurgus,
was crazy, or he was one of those persons whose brains cease to develop
after they have left their teens. He certainly secures the first prize
as a "whim" strategist. In spite of his insane eccentricities, he was
allowed the full exercise of his freedom. Had he flourished in 1915 A.D.
instead of 820 "B.C." (which does not mean British Columbia), the asylum
for the insane at New Westminster would not have been strong enough to
retain him. Lycurgus did one redeeming thing--he founded a Senate;
"which, sharing,"--we are following Plutarch--"as Plato says, in the
power of the kings, too imperious and unrestrained before, and having
equal authority with them, was the means of keeping them within bounds
of moderation, and highly contributed to the preservation of the State.
The establishment of a Senate, an intermediate body, like ballast, kept
it in just equilibrium, and put it in a safe posture: the twenty-eight
senators adhering to the kings whenever they saw the people too
encroaching, and on the other hand, supporting the people, when the
kings attempted to make themselves absolute."

Now, what in the world possessed this despotic imbecile to form a
senate? His action in this can only be accounted for in the light that
it was one of those unpremeditated whims of a narrow-minded faddist. One
naturally wonders what the newly created senators were doing while the
king was imposing his insane laws. This body was formed for the
"preservation of the state." The wonder is that there was any state
left, for the king paralyzed commerce, smothered ambition, choked art to
death, and placed a ban on modesty. Further than having been "formed,"
the "Senate" never again appears on the pages of the "Lycurgus" book.

Plutarch, who lived in Greece about the year 100 A.D., nine hundred
years after the subject of his biography, relates the forming and
imposing of those laws with the utmost faith, and the most implicit
innocence; which goes to prove that the Grecian idea of government, with
all its knowledge, had not advanced much, at least up to the time of
Plutarch.

And now for the laws.

"A second and bolder political enterprise of Lycurgus was a new division
of the lands. For he found a prodigious inequality; the city overcharged
with many indigent persons, who had no land; and the wealth centred in
the hands of the few. Determined, therefore, to root out the evils of
insolence, envy, avarice, and luxury, and those distempers of a state
still more inveterate than fatal--I mean poverty and riches--he
persuaded them to cancel all former divisions of land and to make new
ones, in such a manner as they might be perfectly equal in their
possessions and way of living.

His proposal was put in practice.

"After this he attempted to divide also the movables, in order to take
away all appearance of inequality; but he soon perceived that they could
not bear to have their goods taken directly from them, and therefore
took another method, counterworking their avarice by a stratagem."

Now, this seems to be the only law to which they made objection; and
this proves that the love of personal "icties" has very deep roots.
Perhaps the influence of the "senate" sustained them in this, for
qualifications for a senator, even in those days, must have called for
men of some means, and they, when the shoe began to pinch their own
feet, would not care to divide up their sugar and flour with the rank
and file. It does not appear, however, that they had any say in the
matter, and, beyond the statement that they were formed for a purpose,
they seem to have taken no part in the affairs of state; if they had,
Lycurgus and his laws would never have been made part of history.

"First he stopped the currency of the gold and silver coin"--thus he
paralyzed industry--"and ordered that they should make use of iron money
only; then to a great quantity and weight of this he assigned but a
small value.... In the next place he excluded unprofitable and
superfluous arts.... Their iron coin would not pass in the rest of
Greece, but was ridiculed and despised, so that the Spartans had no
means of purchasing any foreign or curious wares, nor did any merchant
ship unlade in their harbor." Even Plutarch sees nothing suicidal in all
this voluntary isolating of themselves from the main arteries of
commerce.

"Desirous to complete the conquest of luxury and exterminate the love of
riches, he introduced a third institution, which was wisely enough and
ingeniously contrived. This was the use of public tables, where all were
to eat in common of the same meat, and such kinds of it as were
appointed by law. At the same time they were forbidden to eat at home,
or on expensive couches and tables.... Another ordinance levelled
against magnificence and expense, directed that the ceilings of houses
should be wrought with no tool but the axe, and the doors with nothing
but the saw. Indeed, no man could be so absurd as to bring into a
dwelling so homely and simple, bedsteads with silver feet, purple
coverlets, or golden cups." Thus he smothered art and personal ambition,
two of the most requisite essentials to a people on their onward and
upward trend to civilization and success. "A third ordinance of Lycurgus
was, that they should not often make war against the same enemy, lest,
by being frequently put upon defending themselves, they too should
become able warriors in their turn."

And thus he made them defenceless against their enemies.

"For the same reason he would not permit all that desired to go abroad
and see other countries, lest they should contract foreign manners, gain
traces of a life of little discipline, and of a different form of
government. He forbade strangers, too, to resort to Sparta who could not
assign a good reason for their coming!"

Improvement with Lycurgus means retrogression with us. He wished,
perhaps ignorantly, to arrest the progress of civilization and
substitute a slovenly ideal of his own. His purpose was to cancel the
civilization which the race had gained during thousands of years of
effort, and bring it back to a semi-savagery. But the world was too big
for him. It had things in view which were too great for his small,
hampered mind to have any suspicion of. No doubt he was sincere in his
little, infinitesimal way; but it is a blessing for the world that his
influence was confined to a very small corner of the then civilized
world, and that others of broader views succeeded him to manage the
affairs of states and nations. With all deference to old Plutarch, the
biographer of Lycurgus, we wish to say that however grand the laws of
this man may have been as ideals, they were utter failures when brought
into practice.



Of Joan of Arc


Some people say the world is getting no better, but if we take a dip
into history and consider the conditions which prevailed there from the
earliest times up to only a few hundred years ago, we will find a race
of human beings which in no wise resemble the present output except in
form and stature. And our own forefathers--the people of the British
Isles, the Anglo-Saxons who are to-day leading in the social world--were
not one iota better throughout those pages than many of the smallest and
most unpretentious of obscure tribes living here and there in ignorant,
local isolation. One of the strongest points in our argument is the fact
that history, as we have it, is composed of the clang of battles and the
private lives of kings and despots. The ordinary, everyday life of the
peasant people--the working classes--the backbone of the nation, so to
speak--was beneath the consideration of the historian throughout all
times. The only virtue, in his estimation, was a strong arm--a large
army to murder and destroy property. And the life of the historian must
needs reflect that of the people. There is no doubt that in a great
majority they were of a cruel, murderous nature. We get rare glimpses,
however (at intervals of sometimes hundreds of years), of the doings,
manners, and customs, likes and dislikes of the common people, that we
can rely upon as authentic; the rest is poetry and legend, and,
although typical, are relations of incidents that did not really occur.

There is no doubt that, although it has been withheld, there was a great
deal of virtue, which blushed and bloomed unseen, amid all this blood
and war.

As though by accident the historian who immortalized Joan of Arc has let
slip a few words in connection with this heroine's early life that are
more valuable to us than page upon page of some of our so-called
history. "Jeanne d'Arc was the child of a laborer of Domremy, a little
village on the borders of Lorraine and Champagne. Just without the
cottage where she was born began the great woods of the Vosges, where
the children of Domremy drank in poetry and legend from fairy ring and
haunted well, hung their flower garlands on the sacred trees and sang
songs to the good people who might not drink of the fountain because of
their sins. Jeanne loved the forest; its birds and beasts came lovingly
to her at her childish call. But at home men saw nothing in her but 'a
good girl,' simple and pleasant in her way, spinning and sewing by her
mother's side while the other girls went to the fields--tender to the
poor and sick."

This is a little domestic scene of the year A.D. 1425, and how homelike
and real and familiar it all is. What a sweet peace spot, among all the
bloodshed and horror that was going on throughout France at that time.

Joan of Arc is undoubtedly one of the most remarkable characters in all
history. She was born at Domremy, France, in 1412, and was executed in
1431. Before she had reached twenty this girl had practically freed
France from the English, or at least put the country upon such a footing
that a few years accomplished its freedom.

The superstitions of the times are no doubt responsible to a great
extent for the success which was attained by this Maid of Orleans. "The
English believed in her supernatural mission as firmly as the French
did, but they thought her a sorceress who had come to overthrow them by
her enchantments," and so on. The fact remains that this innocent
peasant girl of eighteen years of age freed France from the English and
accomplished things which no man of France at that time was able to do.
Either the French generalship of the times was very incompetent or the
army was very much demoralized--at all events they had been awaiting the
advent of a leader who was both determined and fearless, for skill does
not seem to have been a requisite--and this appeared in the person of
Joan of Arc.

It is difficult to believe that an entirely inexperienced person of this
kind could take charge of an army of ten thousand men and lead them to
victory when the best trained generals of the time could do nothing and
suffered defeat at every turn.

With the coronation of the King the Maid felt that her errand was over.
"Oh, gentle king, the pleasure of God is done," she cried, as she flung
herself at the feet of Charles, and asked leave to go home. "Would it
were His good will," she pleaded with the archbishop, as he forced her
to remain, "that I might go and keep sheep once more with my sisters and
my brothers; they would be glad to see me again."

But the policy of the French court detained her. France was depending on
one of its peasant girls for its very national existence. The
humiliation of the thing should make all good Frenchmen blush with
shame. So she fought on with the conviction that she was superfluous in
the army, and a slave to the French court. It does not appear that she
was even placed upon the payroll, or that she received reward of any
kind for her services--and there were no "Victoria crosses" in those
days. She fought on without pay; rendered all her services for
nothing--perhaps for the love of the thing. During the defence of
Compiegne in May, 1430, she fell into the hands of one Vendome, who sold
her to the Duke of Burgundy. Burgundy sold her to the English--her
remuneration for her self-sacrificing, voluntarily-given services.

And now comes the tragic part of a most pathetic story enacted out at a
time when the name civilization, applied to the French and English, is a
mockery. "In December she was carried to Rouen, the headquarters of the
English, heavily fettered, and flung into a gloomy prison, and at
length, arraigned before the spiritual tribunal of the Bishop of
Beauvais, a wretched creature of the English, as a sorceress and a
heretic, while the dastard she had crowned king left her to die." She
was not even granted a legal, judicial trial.

Some say that her sentence was at one time commuted to perpetual
imprisonment, which proves that there was a glimmer of humanity hid away
in some corner of the world, knocking hysterically in its imprisonment
for admission. "But the English found a pretext to treat her as a
criminal and condemned her to be burned." And at this juncture it may be
well to say that we have good reason to be proud of ourselves to-day,
and ashamed of our ancestors.

"She was brought to the stake on May 30th, 1431. The woman's tears dried
upon her cheeks, and she faced her doom with the triumphant courage of
the martyr." During her last awful moments, as she left this world with
the torture of the flames slowly consuming her body, what were the last
impressions of this girl of nineteen who left home and happiness to free
a people who allowed her to be thus tormented to death? "A court was
constituted by Pope Calixtus III., in 1455, which declared her innocent
and pronounced her trial unjust. And through the whole civilized world
her memory is fittingly commemorated in statuary and literature." But
this is poor consolation and does not undo the mischief. So far as Joan
of Arc is concerned, she is still burning, scorching, suffering at that
stake, and the world and the English are her torturers, still tormenting
her, while the man she made king stands looking on indifferently,
heartlessly. All the honor and statuary that ever had creation on this
green earth cannot atone for this crime of "civilization" on the
innocent. But it is only one blot of many with which the world moves
on, branded indelibly to its unknown end; and beneath a pleasant
exterior we know, but try to hide, those blots, with apologies for our
ancestors. And yet some say the world is getting no better. Out of this
chaos of blood, crime and heathendom we sprang with all our pride and
greatness, and with such a record it behooves us to be rather humble
than high-minded, for crime and disgrace are lying at our very
door-step.

"The story of Joan has been a rich motive in the world of art, and
painter and sculptor have spent their genius on the theme without as yet
adequately realizing its simple grandeur."



Of Voices Long Dead


The following is not history, although we have placed it under this
heading. It is the literal translation of a poem by Theocritus, a light
in the ancient literature of the Greeks. Although the actual incident
never occurred, it is typical of what was going on among that long dead
people, and it is of as much importance to us as the most valuable
record of history, and is of vital interest when viewed in retrospect
from the year 1915, because it gives us a rare glimpse into the domestic
manners of a people who lived when all the present civilized world was
in the hands of savages--and how modern it all seems. The scene might
have been enacted yesterday even to the smallest detail.

Imagine yourself in the city of Alexandria about the year 280 B.C.

"Some Syracusan women staying at Alexandria, agreed, on the occasion of
a great religious solemnity--the feast of Adonis--to go together to the
palace of King Ptolemy Philadelphus, to see the image of Adonis, which
the Queen Arsinoe, Ptolemy's wife, had had decorated with peculiar
magnificence. A hymn, by a celebrated performer, was to be recited over
the image. The names of the two women are Gorgo and Praxinoe; their
maids, who are mentioned in the poem, are called Eunoe and Eutychis.
Gorgo comes by appointment to Praxinoe's house to fetch her, and there
the dialogue begins."

We are following the translation of William Cleaver Wilkinson.

Gorgo. Is Praxinoe at home?

Praxinoe. My dear Gorgo, at last! Yes, here I am. Eunoe, find a
chair--get a cushion for it.

G. It will do beautifully as it is.

P. Do sit down.

G. Oh, this gadabout spirit! I could hardly get to you, Praxinoe,
through all the crowd and all the carriages. Nothing but heavy boots,
nothing but men in uniform. And what a journey it is! My dear child, you
really live too far off.

P. It is all that insane husband of mine. He has chosen to come out here
to the end of the world, and take a hole of a place--for a house it is
not--on purpose that you and I might not be neighbors. He is always just
the same--anything to quarrel with one! anything for spite!

G. My dear, don't talk so of your husband before the little fellow. Just
see how astonished he looks at you. Never mind, Zopyrio, my pet, she is
not talking about papa.

P. Good heavens! the child does really understand.

G. Pretty papa!

P. That pretty papa of his the other day (though I told him beforehand
to mind what he was about), when I sent him to shop to buy soap and
rouge, he brought me home salt instead--stupid, great, big,
interminable animal.

G. Mine is just the fellow to him.... But never mind; get on your things
and let us be off to the palace to see the Adonis. I hear the queen's
decorations are something splendid.

P. In grand people's houses everything is grand. What things you have
seen in Alexandria! What a deal you will have to tell anybody who has
never been here!

G. Come, we ought to be going.

P. Every day is holiday to people who have nothing to do. Eunoe, pick up
your work; and take care, lazy girl, how you leave it lying about again;
the cats find it just the bed they like. Come, stir yourself; fetch me
some water, quick! I wanted the water first, and the girl brings me the
soap. Never mind, give it me. Not all that, extravagant! Now pour out
the water--stupid! why don't you take care of my dress? That will do. I
have got my hands washed as it pleases God. Where is the key of the
large wardrobe? Bring it here--quick!

G. Praxinoe, you can't think how well that dress, made full, as you've
got it, suits you. Tell me, how much did it cost?--the dress by itself,
I mean.

P. Don't talk of it, Gorgo; more than eight guineas of good hard money.
And about the work on it I have almost worn my life out.

G. Well, you couldn't have done better.

P. Thank you. Bring me my shawl, and put my hat properly on my
head--properly. No, child (to her little boy), I am not going to take
you; there is a bogey on horseback, who bites. Cry as much as you like,
I'm not going to have you lamed for life. Now we'll start. Nurse, take
the little one and amuse him; call the dog in, and shut the street door.
(They go out.) Good heavens! what a crowd of people! How on earth are we
ever to get through all this? They are like ants--you can't count them.
My dearest Gorgo, what will become of us? Here are the Royal Horse
Guards. My good man, don't ride over me! Look at that bay horse rearing
bolt upright; what a vicious one! Eunoe, you mad girl, do take
care!--that horse will certainly be the death of the man on his back.
How glad I am now that I left the child at home!

G. All right, Praxinoe, we are safe behind them, and they have gone on
to where they are stationed.

P. Well, yes, I begin to revive again. From the time I was a little girl
I have had more horror of horses and snakes than of anything in the
world. Let us get on; here's a great crowd coming this way upon us.

G. (to an old woman). Mother, are you from the palace?

Old Woman. Yes, my dears.

G. Has one a tolerable chance of getting there?

O.W. My pretty young lady, the Greeks got to Troy by dint of trying
hard; trying will do anything in this world.

G. The old creature has delivered herself of an oracle and departed.

P. Women can tell you everything about everything. Jupiter's marriage
with Juno not excepted.

G. Look, Praxinoe, what a squeeze at the palace gates!

P. Tremendous! Take hold of me, Gorgo, and you, Eunoe, take hold of
Eutychis!--tight hold, or you'll be lost. Here we go in all together.
Hold tight to us, Eunoe. Oh, dear! Oh, dear! Oh, dear! Gorgo, there's my
scarf torn right in two. For heaven's sake, my good man, as you hope to
be saved, take care of my dress!

Stranger. I'll do what I can, but it doesn't depend upon me.

P. What heaps of people! They push like a drove of pigs.

Str. Don't be frightened, ma'am; we are all right.

P. May you be all right, my dear sir, to the last day you live, for the
care you have taken of us! What a kind, considerate man! There is Eunoe
jammed in a squeeze. Push, you goose, push! Capital! We are all of us
the right side of the door, as the bridegroom said when he had locked
himself in with the bride.

G. Praxinoe, come this way. Do but look at that work, how delicate it
is! how exquisite! Why, they might wear it in heaven!

P. Heavenly patroness of needle-women, what hands we hired to do that
work? Who designed those beautiful patterns? They seem to stand up and
move about, as if they were real--as if they were living things and not
needlework. Well, man is a wonderful creature! And look, look, how
charming he lies there on his silver couch, with just a soft down on his
cheeks, that beloved Adonis--Adonis, whom one loves, even though he is
dead!

Another Stranger. You wretched woman, do stop your incessant chatter.
Like turtles, you go on forever. They are enough to kill one with their
broad lingo--nothing but a, a, a.

G. Lord, where does the man come from? What is it to you if we are
chatterboxes? Order about your own servants. Do you give orders to
Syracusan women? If you want to know, we came originally from Corinth,
as Bellerophon did; we speak Peloponnesian. I suppose Dorian women may
be allowed to have a Dorian accent.

P. Oh, honey-sweet Proserpine, let us have no more masters than the one
we've got! We don't the least care for you; pray don't trouble yourself
for nothing.

G. Be quiet, Praxinoe! That first-rate singer, the Argive woman's
daughter, is going to sing the Adonis hymn. She is the same who was
chosen to sing the dirge last year. We are sure to have something first
rate from her. She is going through her airs and graces ready to begin.

       *       *       *       *       *

And here the voices die away in the remote past. How difficult it is to
believe that this dialogue took place more than two thousand years ago!

As a last glimpse of such a beautiful, modernly remote gem of
conversation, we will give a few more words to show what those ancient
gossipy ladies thought of their husbands.

The following are the last surviving words which Gorgo gave to the
world:

Gorgo. Praxinoe, certainly women are wonderful things. That lucky woman,
to know all that; and luckier still to have such a voice! And now we
must see about getting home. My husband has not had his dinner. That man
is all vinegar, and nothing else; and if you keep him waiting for his
dinner he's dangerous to go near. Adieu! precious Adonis, and may you
find us all well when you come next year!

He might have been a husband of yesterday!

For how many years have the husbands been coming home from work daily to
partake of a meal which an attentive and tender wife has prepared for
him? This was twenty-two hundred years ago.



Of the White Woman Who Became an Indian Squaw


The early history of the northwest frontier of Massachusetts is fraught
with blood-curdling tales of savage invasions against the home-builders
and empire-makers of that once troubled boundary between the French of
Canada and the English of the New England States, but there is not a
more pitiful story than that which has been recorded touching the
Williams family of Deerfield, who were captured by the Indians during
one of their inroads in the year 1704. John Williams was a minister who
had come to Deerfield when it was still suffering from the ruinous
effects of King Philip's war. His parishioners built him a house, he
married, and had eight children. The story of the Indians' invasion, the
destruction of the village, and the capture of over one hundred
prisoners is admirably told by Francis Parkman in one of those excellent
works of his dealing with the old régime of Canada and New England.

"A war party of about fifty Canadians and two hundred Indians left
Quebec about mid-winter, and arrived at Deerfield on the 28th of
February, 1704. Savage and hungry, they lay shivering under the pines
till about two hours before dawn the following morning; then, leaving
their packs and their snowshoes behind, they moved cautiously towards
their prey. The hideous din startled the minister, Williams, from his
sleep. Half naked, he sprang out of bed, and saw, dimly, a crowd of
savages bursting through the shattered door. With more valor than
discretion he snatched a pistol that hung at the head of the bed, cocked
it and snapped it at the breast of the foremost Indian. It missed fire.
Amid the screams of his terrified children, three of the party seized
him and bound him fast, for they came well provided with cords, as
prisoners had a great market value. Nevertheless, in the first fury of
their attack, they dragged to the door and murdered two of the children.
They kept Williams shivering in his shirt for an hour, while a frightful
uproar of yells, shrieks, and gunshots sounded from within. At length
they permitted him, his wife, and five remaining children to dress
themselves. After the entire village had been destroyed and the
inhabitants either murdered or made captive, Williams and his wife and
family were led from their burning house across the Connecticut River to
the foot of the mountain, and the following day the march north began
with the hundred or more prisoners."

The hardships of the prisoners, and the crimes of the victors during
that long and arduous march north through snow and ice, forms a chapter
of pathos in the early history of those eastern states.

"At the mouth of the White River the party divided, and the Williams
family were separated and carried off in various directions. Eunice, the
youngest daughter, about eight years old, was handed over by the
Indians to the mission at St. Louis on their arrival there, and although
many efforts were made on the part of the Governor, who had purchased
and befriended Williams, to ransom her, the Jesuits flatly refused to
give her up. On one occasion he went himself with the minister to St.
Louis. This time the Jesuits, whose authority within their mission
seemed almost to override that of the Governor himself, yielded so far
as to allow the father to see his daughter, on condition that he spoke
to no other English prisoner. He spoke to her for an hour, exhorting her
never to forget her catechism, which she had learned by rote. The
Governor and his wife afterwards did all in their power to procure her
ransom, but of no avail.

"'She is there still,' writes Williams two years later, 'and has
forgotten to speak English.' What grieved him still more, Eunice had
forgotten her catechism." But now we come to this strange
transformation, unprecedented, we think, which made an Indian squaw out
of a white woman. "Eunice, reared among Indian children, learned their
language and forgot her own; she lived in a wigwam of the Caughnawagas,
forgot her catechism, was baptized in the Roman Catholic faith, and in
due time married an Indian of the tribe, who henceforth called himself
Williams. Thus her hybrid children bore her family name.

"Many years after, in 1740, she came, with her husband, to visit her
relatives at Deerfield, dressed as a squaw and wrapped in an Indian
blanket. Nothing would induce her to stay, though she was persuaded on
one occasion to put on a civilized dress and go to church, after which
she impatiently discarded her gown and resumed her blanket."

Could a sadder instance of degeneration be written in the annals of the
human family? "She was kindly treated by her relatives, and no effort
was made to detain her. She came again the following year, bringing two
of her children, and twice afterwards she repeated the visit. She and
her husband were offered land if they would remain, but she positively
refused, saying it would endanger her soul. She lived to a great age, a
squaw to the last. One of her grandsons became a missionary to the
Indians of Green Bay, Wisconsin."

This is one of the most drastic instances of a woman's devotion to
husband, and mother love for children driving her back to the forest of
her ancestors, and making her sacrifice all that her race had gained for
her during thousands of years. Thus the most natural and primitive
instincts of the human race will prevail against all our arts, science
and accomplishments.



THROUGH THE MICROSCOPE



Through the Microscope


Life is full of impossibilities.

After all it is not money we want so much as something to do.

Every man should have an accomplishment of some kind.

Some music is like a jumble of misplaced notes.

If you have reached forty and have done nothing, get busy.

We sometimes lose dollars by being too careful with our cents.

We should try to arrange ourselves so that we will appear as plausible
as possible to posterity.

We must have something to worry about or we will become stagnant.

Music should be rendered slowly and softly so that each note may have
time to tell its story before the next one comes on the stage.

When we are young our time is all present. When we are old there is no
present, but our time becomes the aggregate days and years.

We sometimes get into trouble trying to keep out of it.

It is not what we would _like_ to do, but what we _can_ do.

Let us take our medicine philosophically.

A dollar looks larger going out than it does coming in.

What is that we see falling like grain before the reaper? It is the
days, and the weeks, and the months, and the years.

Every dog wonders why the other dog was born.

We are so constituted in temperament that one may love what the other
hates.

A face is like a song, it has to be learned to be thoroughly
appreciated. You have to acquire a taste for it, and when it is once
memorized it is never forgotten.

Most of our best words are derived from dead, heathen languages.

If you have married the wrong man, or the wrong woman, cheer up and be a
philosopher over it. Philosophy is a good substitute for love if
properly applied.

If you do not go about sniffing the air you will not find so many
obnoxious odors.

If you have a mental wound of any kind, do not mind; time, the great
healer, will cure it.

We despise the ancient heathen, yet in some cases we have risen from his
ashes.

A woman dresses for appearance, not for comfort.

An ounce of domestic harmony is worth a ton of gold.

We should adjust ourselves as much as possible to circumstances.

It is better to be a dummy than to be a gossip.

Every man thinks _his_ dog is an angel.

It is not always the one who can afford it who keeps the hired servant.

Since we can grow a new finger nail, why cannot we grow a new finger?

The mouse is destructive only from man's point of view.

When a man reaches forty he usually settles down to make the best of
things.

Sometimes we are called cranks because we will not be sat upon.

The passing of time so quickly would not be so regrettable were life not
so short.

A good book has no ending.

It is nothing to win a girl if you do not win her love also.

The passing of time so quickly takes the pleasure out of everything.

If you are popular, anything you say will rise into the air like a
Zeppelin. If you are unpopular anything you say or do will sink into the
ocean of oblivion like a Titanic.

It is a pity we have to do so much to get so little.

It sometimes pays to accept a few cents on the dollar and let it go at
that.

Sometimes men become so parasitical to their occupation that, were they
to lose it, they would drown.

"Help ye one another." It pays.

Our mistakes keep us perpetually on the convalescence.

Woman is equal to man--sometimes more than equal.

While the years are with you freeze on to them as tightly as ever you
can.

The "Give-in-to-nothing-or-nobody-for-anything" spirit nurses a great
deal of evil.

It takes forty years for a man to become a philosopher. Some never
graduate.

Our generation is to be pitied. It is living in the most extravagant age
the world has ever known.

When the church does not ameliorate the objectionable dispositions of
its adherents, it has failed in its mission.

It is diplomacy to be on friendly terms with all men.

Politics are sometimes dangerous things.

Be cheerful under all circumstances.

The human race has mounted a treadmill which it must tread or perish.

The strenuous industries of this world are man's unconscious efforts to
preserve his increasing numbers from annihilation.

Courtesy in business is the best policy.

It takes three men's wages to sustain one family in an up-to-date
fashion.

Under the circumstances, it is almost necessary to be greedy and
grasping.

To be perfectly healthy we should adopt the exercises followed by our
ancestors in climbing among the trees.

It is not how much you can do or how quick you get through it, but the
care that you take and how well you can do it.

It is not the gift but the giving.

It is quality, not quantity, that counts.

Do not measure a person's length by your personal prejudices.

The man who never had an enemy is too good for this world.

"You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink." You can
send a boy to college, but you cannot make him think.

The dog hates the cat, and the cat hates the dog, but when they are
friends there are no truer ones.

Just take the world as it is; take things as to be had. Your friends may
not be quite so good, your foes not quite so bad.

It is the aggregate that counts.

The almighty dollar is getting smaller every day.

It is fashionable to be lazy.

Money is man's passport through the world.

The one who is most jealous is the one who is least in love.

Poetry is something that was written by someone who is dead.

Life is one thing after another--getting in between man and his money.

Some men are so small that they could easily go through the eye of a
needle.

Often the man who is the most mean in buying is the most extortionate in
selling.

Some husbands have to prove their love by sending their wives off for a
month's holiday every six weeks.

The cat is one of the most cleanly of animals, yet she has never been
known to take a bath.

"It is an ill wind," etc. The harder the times become to others, the
better they become to the sheriff.

Germany wants to reap where she has not sown.

Misery likes company. It is consolation to know that everybody else is
hard up during these hard times.

In our life struggle we are obliged to sacrifice many of our pet
ambitions.

If a person is not naturally inclined he cannot be influenced by
argument.

When the war is over it will be an easy matter to estimate the German
casualties. She had about sixty-five millions.

The present seems to be a thing of the past.

An honorable defeat is more commendable than an empty triumph.

One half of the war in Europe does not know what the other half is
doing.

Sometimes finance gets men into positions for which they are not
qualified.

We must abandon that ancient superstition that a dollar has any
financial value.

Where a cat and a canary are brought up together, the cat ultimately
gets the canary.

If a man does not support his country during the war, what can he expect
after the war is over?

There is not a misunderstanding but that can be adjusted amicably if it
is gone about in the right spirit.

_Your_ business is not the only important one.

It is a pity the cat would not always remain a kitten.

With the bank man it is more a matter of figures than it is of dollars.

To man, money is like a train going into a tunnel. It goes in at one end
and out at the other, and leaves nothing.

Never judge a person's way by what the other people say.

There are only two sides to business: what I.O.U. and what U.O.I.

Where there is abundance there is likely to be waste and lack of
economy.

A one dollar contra is often used to stave off a hundred dollar account.

"Every crow thinks that _its_ bird is a white one," and every man thinks
that _his_ wife is the right one.

The hieroglyphic signature is often taken as a sign of perfect
commercial attainment.

Some people give and take; others are all take.

Blessed is the man who has no family, for he shall inherit wealth.

Unlucky is the man who has children, for verily I say unto you, they
keep him broke.

The good Samaritan who lends his friend a dollar, sometimes loses both
the friend and the dollar.

The poorer a man the greater his misfortunes.

A great many children go to school to learn to read novels.

It takes as long to become a man as it does to become a philosopher.

Life is far too short judging by the time it takes to collect some of
our accounts.

First, steel made millionaires, then railways, then oil, then pork; and
now it is the automobile.

When two or three women are gathered together no man can tell when the
end will be.

The well-fed philosopher is likely to have a well-fed philosophy; the
under-fed one an emaciated variety.

Habitual melancholy is not always a mental derangement; it is very often
a constitutional weakness.

Live and--let your indorser--learn.

The further you get into the world the less time you have for poetry,
philosophy and sentiment.

The doctor is a man whom we don't want to do any business with.

You seldom meet an enthusiast who is not a crank also.

Individually, dimensions are determined by the proportions of the
observer.

The modern attitude is a contempt for economy. Conservation is a
bugbear.

Your neighbor is not a freak because he does not fall in line with your
way of thinking.

When you have gained your equilibrium, you usually find that it was not
worth while getting mad after all.



[Transcriber's note:  In "Of the Foolhardy Expedition," there is
extensive quoting of a text, and the quotes are not always matched.  The
punctuation was left as printed.]





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