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

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[Illustration: "Simple enough; I've stopped the clock," he said.--Page
132.--_Frontispiece._]



[Illustration: MOLLIE
AND THE
UNWISEMAN

By JOHN KENDRICK BANGS

Illustrations by
ALBERT LEVERING and
CLARE VICTOR DWIGGINS.

Henry T. Coates & Co.,
Philadelphia.]



COPYRIGHT, 1902,
BY HENRY T. COATES & CO.



CONTENTS.


  CHAPTER                                                           PAGE
     I. BOPEEP. IN WHICH MOLLIE MEETS THE UNWISEMAN                    7
    II. A VISIT TO THE UNWISEMAN. IN WHICH MOLLIE RENEWS AN
          ACQUAINTANCE                                                29
   III. IN THE HOUSE OF THE UNWISEMAN. IN WHICH MOLLIE READS SOME
          STRANGE RULES                                               49
    IV. A CALL FROM THE UNWISEMAN. IN WHICH MOLLIE'S CALL IS
          RETURNED                                                    67
     V. THE UNWISEMAN IS OFFENDED. IN WHICH THE OLD GENTLEMAN
          TAKES HIS LEAVE                                             85
    VI. THE CHRISTMAS VENTURE OF THE UNWISEMAN. IN WHICH THE
          UNWISEMAN GOES INTO AN UNPROFITABLE BUSINESS               103
   VII. THE UNWISEMAN'S NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS. IN WHICH THE
          UNWISEMAN GIVES UP SOME VERY DISTINGUISHED WORDS           123
  VIII. THE UNWISEMAN TURNS POET. IN WHICH THE UNWISEMAN GOES
          INTO LITERATURE                                            139
    IX. THE POEMS OF THE UNWISEMAN. IN WHICH MOLLIE LISTENS TO
          SOME REMARKABLE VERSES                                     155
     X. THE UNWISEMAN'S LUNCHEON. IN WHICH THE UNWISEMAN MAKES
          SOME SENSIBLE REMARKS ON EATING                            173
    XI. THE UNWISEMAN'S NEW BUSINESS. IN WHICH THE OLD GENTLEMAN
          AND MOLLIE AND WHISTLEBINKIE START ON THEIR TRAVELS        189



LIST OF FULL-PAGE ILLUSTRATIONS.


                                                                    Page
  "SIMPLE ENOUGH, I'VE STOPPED THE CLOCK."                _Frontispiece_
  THE UNWISEMAN SPED OFF LIKE LIGHTNING TO THE VILLAGE DRUG-STORE     46
  "OH YES!" SAID MOLLIE, "IF YOU MUST STEAL SOMETHING, STEAL A
      BOYLED EGG"                                                     66
  "NO, THANK YOU," SAID THE UNWISEMAN, WITH AN ANXIOUS PEEP AT
      THE CEILING                                                     76
  "OUCH!" HE CRIED, "THE BROOK MUST BE AFIRE!"                        98
  "I ALWAYS WEEP OUT OF THE WINDOW."                                 146
  THE UNWISEMAN READS HIS POEM, "MY WISH AND WHY I WISHED IT."       162
  "IF YOU WANT TO SPEAK SOME OTHER LANGUAGE YOU CAN GO OUTSIDE
      AND SPEAK IT."                                                 184



[Illustration]



[Illustration: I. Bopeep.
In which Mollie meets the Unwiseman.

Mollie]


had been romping in the hay all the afternoon. With her were Flaxilocks,
the French doll, and young Whistlebinkie, the rubber boy, who had got
his name from the fact that he had a whistle set in the top of his
beaver hat. Flaxilocks and Whistlebinkie could stand a great deal of
romping, and so also could Mollie, but, on the whole, the little girl
was not so strong as the dolls were, and in consequence along above
five o'clock, having settled herself down comfortably on the shaded side
of the hay-stack, a great pillow of sweet-scented clover grass under her
head, it is not to be wondered at that Mollie should begin to ponder.
Now it is a curious thing, but Mollie always has singular adventures
when she ponders. Things happen to her then which happen at no other
times, and which also, as far as I have been able to find out, never
happen to other little girls.

It was this way upon this particular afternoon, as you will see when you
read on. She had been pondering for three or four minutes when almost
directly at her side she heard a sob.

"Who's that?" she asked, sleepily, gazing around her.

"Who's what?" said Flaxilocks, sitting up and opening her great blue
eyes so suddenly that something inside of her head seemed to click.

[Illustration: "Somebody's sobbing," said Mollie.]

"Somebody's sobbing," said Mollie.

"I guess not," returned Flaxilocks. "We are all alone here. Nobody could
have sobbed unless it was Whistlebinkie. Whistlebinkie, did you sob?"

"No," said Whistlebinkie, "'twasn't me. I can't sob because I haven't
got a sobber to sob with. I've only got a whistle."

"Maybe I dreamed it," said Mollie, apparently satisfied for the moment,
and then the three threw themselves back on the hay once more and began
their pondering anew.

They did not ponder very long, however, for in a few moments Flaxilocks
rose up again and observed:

"I heard a sob myself just now, Mollie."

"So-_di_," whistled Whistlebinkie, through the top of his hat.

"Whistlebinkie," said Mollie, severely, "how often must I tell you not
to talk through your hat, but through your mouth? So-_di_ doesn't mean
anything. It isn't English. If you will only remember to use your hat to
whistle through and your mouth for conversation every one will be able
to understand. What do you mean by So-_di_?"

"So--did--I," said Whistlebinkie, meekly, this time using his mouth as
Mollie had instructed him to do.

"Then you heard the sob?"

"Yes--ma'am--plain--as--can--be," returned Whistlebinkie.

"And no wonder," observed Flaxilocks, pointing one of her kid fingers
off to her left. "Why shouldn't we all hear a sob when there is a poor
little maid weeping so near at hand?"

"So there is," said Mollie, looking toward the spot at which Flaxilocks
was pointing, where there sat a pretty little shepherdess with tears
streaming down her cheeks. "Isn't it queer?"

"Very," said Whistlebinkie. "Shall I give a whistle of surprise, ma'am?"

"No," said Mollie. "I'm not surprised enough for that."

Then she got up and walked over to the strange little girl's side, and
taking her hand in hers asked her softly why she wept.

"I'm little Bopeep," said the stranger. "And I've lost my sheep, and I
don't know where to find them."

"Oh, is that all?" asked Mollie.

"Isn't it enough?" returned Bopeep, gazing with surprise at Mollie
through her tears. "They were all spring lambs and I'm very much afraid
some hungry man may have stolen them away and drowned them in the mint
sauce pond."

"Dear me, how dreadful!" cried Mollie.

"Shall I give a whistle of terror, ma'am?" asked Whistlebinkie.

"No, don't," said Flaxilocks. "Save your breath. We ought to help Bopeep
to find her flock."

"That's so," said Mollie. "Would you like to have us do that, Bopeep?"

"Oh, it would be very sweet of you if you would," sobbed the little
shepherdess. "I can't tell you how glad I'd be."

[Illustration: "I'll whistle it for you."]

"I'll whistle it for you if you want me to," said the obliging
Whistlebinkie, which, as no one objected, he immediately proceeded to
do. When he had finished Bopeep thanked him, and asked him if he were
any relation to her old friend Flutiboy who was the only person she
knew who could whistle as charmingly as he, which pleased Whistlebinkie
very much because he had heard of the famous Flutiboy, and was well
aware that he was the champion whistler of the world.

"Now let us be off to find the sheep," said Mollie. "Which way did they
go, Bopeep?"

"They went every way," said Bopeep, her eyes filling with tears again.

"I don't see how that could be," said Flaxilocks, "unless one quarter of
lamb went one way, and another another, and so on."

"Oh, it was easy enough for them," said Bopeep. "There were four of
them, and one went north, one south, one east, and one west. If they had
all run off together I could have run away with them, but as it was all
I could do was stand still and let them go. I love them all equally, and
since I couldn't favor any special one, or divide myself up into four
parts, I had to let them go."

"Perflyawfle," whistled Whistlebinkie through his hat.

"Whistlebinkie!" cried Mollie, reprovingly.

"Puf-fick-ly or-full," said Whistlebinkie distinctly through his little
red rubber teeth.

"Well, I say we keep together in looking for them, anyhow," said
Flaxilocks. "Because it's bad enough to lose the sheep without losing
ourselves, and it seems to me there being four of us we can find the
first sheep four times as quickly if we stick together as we could if we
went alone; and that of course means that we'll find the four sheep
sixteen times as quickly as we would if we went alone."

"I don't quite see that," said Bopeep.

"It's plain enough," observed Flaxilocks. "Four times four is sixteen."

"Oh, yes," said Bopeep. "I see."

"Sodwi," whistled Whistlebinkie. "I mean so--do--I," he added quickly,
as he noted Mollie's frown.

So the four little folk started off in search of the missing sheep,
Whistlebinkie and Flaxilocks running on ahead, and Mollie and Bopeep
with their arms lovingly about each other bringing up in the rear.

"Did you ever lose the sheep before, Bopeep?" asked Mollie, after they
had walked a little way in silence.

"Oh my, yes," returned Bopeep. "I'm losing them all the time. It is a
part of my duty to lose them. If I didn't, you know, the nursery rhyme
couldn't go on."

"And you always find them again?" Mollie put in.

"Always. That's got to happen, too. If they didn't come back and bring
their tails behind them the nursery rhyme would be spoiled again."

"Then I don't see why you feel so badly about it," said Mollie.

[Illustration: "And I only get five cents a quart."]

"I have to," replied Bopeep. "That's part of my business, too. I
sometimes wish old Mother Goose hadn't employed me to look after the
sheep at all, because it keeps me crying all the time, and I don't find
crying very pleasant. Why, do you know, I have been in this sheep-losing
business for nearly two hundred years now, and I've cried about seventy
gallons of tears every year. Just think of that. That means fourteen
thousand gallons of tears, and I only get five cents a quart, which
doesn't more than pay my dressmaker's bills. I asked my employers some
years ago to let me have an assistant to do the crying for me, but they
wouldn't do it, which I think was very mean, don't you?"

"Yes, I do," said Mollie. "I should think just losing the sheep was hard
enough work for a little girl like you to attend to."

"That's what I think--but dear me, where are Whistlebinkie and
Flaxilocks going?" said Bopeep. "They mustn't go that way. The first
place we must go to is the home of the Unwiseman."

"The what?" demanded Mollie.

"The Unwiseman. He's an unwiseman who doesn't know anything," explained
Bopeep. "The rules require that we go to him first and ask him if he
knows where the sheep are. He'll say he doesn't know, and then we'll go
on to the little old woman who lives under the hill. She'll know where
they are, but she'll tell us wrong. Hi! Whistlebinkie and Flaxilocks!
Turn off to the left, and stop at that little red house under the oak
tree."

"There isn't any little red house under the oak tree," said Mollie.

"Oh, yes, there is," said Bopeep. "Only you've got to know it's there
before you can see it. The Unwiseman lives there."

[Illustration: Sat in the doorway trying to smoke a pipe filled with
soapsuds.]

Whistlebinkie and Flaxilocks did as they were told, and, sure enough, in
a minute there appeared a little red house under the oak tree just as
Bopeep had said. Mollie was delighted, it was such a dainty little
house, with its funny gables and a roof made of strawberry icing. The
window-panes were shining like silver, and if Bopeep was not mistaken
were made of sugar. But funnier still was the Unwiseman himself, a
queer-looking, wrinkled-up little old man who sat in the doorway trying
to smoke a pipe filled with soapsuds.

"Good-afternoon, O Unwiseman," said Bopeep.

"Hoh!" sneered the Unwiseman. "Good-afternoon! This isn't afternoon.
It's day before yesterday morning."

Mollie giggled.

"Hush!" whispered Bopeep. "He doesn't know any better. You can see that
he doesn't know anything by looking at his pipe. He's been trying to
smoke those soapsuds now for a week. The week before he was trying to
blow bubbles with it, only he had corn-silk in it then instead of
soapsuds. That shows what kind of a man he is."

"What can I do for you to-day, Bopeep?" asked the Unwiseman as he
touched a lighted match to the suds, which immediately sputtered and
went out.

"I wanted to know if you had seen anything of my sheep," said Bopeep.

[Illustration: "They aren't anything like telegraph poles or
wheelbarrows, are they?"]

"Let's see," said the Unwiseman. "Let's see. Sheep are what? They aren't
anything like telegraph poles or wheelbarrows, are they?"

"No," said Bopeep, "they are not."

"Then maybe I have seen them," said the Unwiseman, with a smile of
satisfaction. "Maybe I have. Several things went by here day after
to-morrow that weren't a bit like wheelbarrows or telegraph poles. They
may have been your sheep. One of the things had four red wheels on
it--have any of your sheep got four red wheels on them?"

Whistlebinkie nearly exploded as the Unwiseman said this, but the queer
old gentleman was not learned enough to know mirth when he saw it, so
that no harm was done.

"No," said Bopeep. "My sheep had no wheels."

"Then I must have seen them," said the Unwiseman. "There was a thing
went by here a week from next Tuesday noon that hadn't any wheels. It
had two legs and carried a fan, or a fish-pole--I couldn't tell which it
was--and it was whistling. Maybe that was one of the sheep."

"No," said Bopeep again, shaking her head. "My sheep don't whistle and
they have four legs."

"Nonsense," said the Unwiseman, with a wink. "You can't fool me that
way. I know a horse when I hear one described, and when any one tells me
that the thing with four legs and no whistle is a sheep I know better.
And so my dear, since you've tried to trifle with me you can go along. I
won't tell you another thing about your old sheep. I don't know anything
about 'em anyhow."

Whereupon the old man got up from his chair and climbed the oak tree to
look for apples, while the searching party went on to the little old
woman who lived under the hill, and Bopeep asked her if she knew
anything about the sheep.

[Illustration: "One of 'em's gone to the moon."]

"Yes," said the little old woman, with a frown which frightened poor
Whistlebinkie so that he gasped and whistled softly in spite of his
efforts to keep quiet. "Yes, I've seen your sheep. I know just where
they are, too. One of 'em's gone to the moon. Another has been adopted
by a girl named Mary, who is going to take it to school and make the
children laugh. Another has sold his wool to a city merchant, and the
fourth has accepted an invitation to dinner from a member of Congress.
He will reach the dinner at half-past seven to-night on a silver
platter. He will be decorated with green peas and mint sauce. Now get
along with you."

Mollie felt very sorry for poor Bopeep as she listened to this dreadful
statement, and she was very much surprised to see Bopeep smiling through
it all.

"Why did you smile?" she asked the little shepherdess as they wended
their way home again.

[Illustration: "She lives on ink and it makes her disagreeable."]

"Because I knew from what she said that she knew the sheep were
safe--but she lives on ink, and that makes her disagreeable. She just
wanted to make me feel as disagreeable as she does, and she told me all
that nonsense to accomplish that purpose."

"The horrid thing!" said Mollie.

"No," said Bopeep. "She isn't really horrid. It's only because she lives
on ink that she seems so. Suppose you had to live on ink?"

"I'd be horrid, too," said Mollie.

"There they are!" cried Bopeep joyfully, and sure enough there were the
sheep, and they had brought their tails behind them, too. They were
grazing close beside the hay-stack on which Mollie had been pondering.

"I am very much obliged to you for your help and company," said Bopeep,
"and now as it is six o'clock, I must drive my sheep home. Good-by."

"Good-by," said Mollie, kissing the little shepherdess affectionately.

"Good-by," said Flaxilocks, sinking back on the clover pillow, and
closing her great blue eyes again.

"Gubby," whistled Whistlebinkie through his hat.

"Wasn't it queer?" said Mollie later as they wended their way home
again.

"Very," said Flaxilocks.

"Queeresperiensieverad," whistled Whistlebinkie.

"What's that?" cried Mollie.

"Queerest--experience--I--ever--had," said Whistlebinkie.

"Ah!" said Mollie. "I didn't care much for the little old woman under
the hill, but that funny old Unwiseman--I'd like to meet him again."

And the others agreed that it would indeed be pleasant to do so.



[Illustration: II. A Visit to the Unwiseman.
In which Mollie renews an
acquaintance.

"Whistlebinkie,"]


said Mollie, one afternoon, as she and he were swaying gently to and fro
in the hammock, "do you remember the little red house under the oak
tree?"

"Yessum," whistled Whistlebinkie, "I mean yes--ma'am," he added
hurriedly.

"And the Unwiseman who lived there?"

"Yes, I remember him puffickly," said Whistlebinkie. "I think he knows
less than any person I ever sawed."

"Not sawed but saw, Whistlebinkie," said Mollie, who was very anxious
that her rubber doll should speak correctly.

"Oh, yes!" cried Whistlebinkie. "I think he sawed less than any man I
ever knew--or rather--well--I guess you know what I mean, don't you?"

"Yes, I do," said Mollie, with a smile. "But tell me, Whistlebinkie
dear, wouldn't you like to go with me, and pay the Unwiseman a visit?"

"Has he sent you a bill?" asked Whistlebinkie.

"What for, pray?" queried Mollie, with a glance of surprise at
Whistlebinkie.

"To tell you that you owed him a visit, of course," said Whistlebinkie.
"There isn't any use of our paying him anything unless we owe him
something, is there?"

"Oh, I see!" said Mollie. "No, we don't owe him one, but I think we'd
enjoy ourselves very much if we made him one."

"All right, let's," said Whistlebinkie.

[Illustration: A pasteboard visit.]

"What'll we make it of, worsted or pasteboard?"

"Whistlebinkie," observed Mollie, severely, "you are almost as absurd as
the old man himself. The idea of making a visit out of worsted or
pasteboard! Come along. Stop your joking and let us start."

The rubber doll was quite willing to agree to this, and off they
started. In a very little while they were down under the spreading
branches of the great oak tree, but, singular to relate, the little red
house that had stood there the last time they had called was not to be
seen.

"Dear me!" cried Mollie, "what can have become of it, do you suppose,
Whistlebinkie?"

"I give it up," said the rubber doll, scratching his hat so that he
could think more easily. "Haven't an idea--unless the old man discovered
that its roof was made of strawberry icing, and ate it up."

"Ho! Ho! Ho!" laughed some one from behind them.

Mollie and Whistlebinkie turned quickly, and lo and behold, directly
behind them stood the little Unwiseman himself, trying to dig the oak
tree up by the roots with a small teaspoon he held in his hand.

"The idea of my eating up my house! Hoh! What nonsense. Hoh!" he said,
as the visitors turned.

"Well, what has become of it, then?" asked Mollie.

"I've moved it, that's what," said the Unwiseman. "I couldn't get any
apples on this oak tree, so I moved my house over under the willow tree
down by the brook."

"But you can't get apples on a willow tree, either, can you?" asked
Mollie.

"I don't know yet," said the Unwiseman. "I haven't lived there long
enough to find out, but I can try, and that's all anybody can do."

"And what are you doing with that teaspoon?" asked Whistlebinkie.

[Illustration: "You see, I don't want to swallow an acorn and have a
great big tree like that grow up in me."]

"I'm digging up this oak tree," said the Unwiseman. "I want to get the
acorn it grew out of. I'm very fond of acorns, but I'm afraid to eat
them, unless the tree that's in 'em has grown out. You see, I don't want
to swallow an acorn, and have a great big tree like that grow up in me.
It wouldn't be comfortable."

Whistlebinkie said he thought that was a very good idea, because there
could not be any doubt that it would be extremely awkward for any man,
wise or unwise, to have an oak tree sprouting up inside of him.

"What are you so anxious to know about my house for?" asked the
Unwiseman, suddenly stopping short in his work with the teaspoon. "You
don't want to rent it for the summer, do you?"

"Whistlebinkie and I have come down to call upon you, that's all,"
explained Mollie.

"Well now, really?" said the Unwiseman, rising, and dropping the
teaspoon. "That's too bad, isn't it? Here you've come all this way to
see me and I am out. I shall be so disappointed when I get home and find
that you have been there and I not there to see you. Dear! Dear! How
full of disappointments this world is. You couldn't come again last
night, could you? I was home then."

[Illustration: Turning the clock back.]

"Not very well," said Whistlebinkie. "Mollie's father doesn't like it if
we turn the clock back."

"Dear me! That's too bad, too! My!" said the old fellow, with a look of
real sadness on his face. "What a disappointment, to be sure. You call
and find me out! I _do_ wish there was some way to arrange it, so that
I might be at home when you call. You can't think of any, can you, Miss
Whistlebinkie?"

"Perhaps now that you know we are coming," said Mollie, who, while her
last name was _not_ Whistlebinkie, did not think it necessary to pay any
attention to the old man's mistake, which amused her very much, "perhaps
now that you know we are coming you might run ahead and be there when we
arrive."

"That's the scheme!" said Whistlebinkie.

"Yes, that's a first-rate plan," said the old man, nodding his head.
"There's only one thing against it, perhaps."

"What's that?" asked Whistlebinkie.

"That I don't know," replied the Unwiseman, "which is very unfortunate,
because it may be serious. For instance, suppose the objection should
turn out to be in the shape of a policeman, who had a warrant to arrest
me for throwing stones at somebody's pet tiger. What could I do?"

"But you haven't been throwing stones at anybody's pet tiger, have you?"
asked Mollie.

[Illustration: "Not while I was awake, but I may have done it in my
sleep, you know."]

"Not while I was awake," said the Unwiseman. "But I may have done it in
my sleep, you know. People do lots of things in their sleep that they
never do while awake. They snore, for instance; and one man I know, who
always rides when he is awake, walks in his sleep."

"Let's try it, anyway," said Whistlebinkie. "It may be that there won't
be any trouble, after all."

"Very well," assented the Unwiseman. "I'm willing if you are, only if I
am arrested it will be all your fault, and you must promise to tell the
policeman that it was you who threw the stones at the tiger and not I."

Mollie and Whistlebinkie feeling sure that nothing of the kind would
happen, readily made the promise, and the queer little old man started
off for his house as fast as his legs could carry him.

The two small visitors followed slowly, and in a few minutes had reached
the Unwiseman's door down by the willow tree. The door was tightly
closed, so they knocked. For a while there was no answer, and then they
knocked again. In response to this they heard a shuffling step within,
and a voice which they recognized as that of the Unwiseman called out:

[Illustration: "Is that a policeman?"]

"Is that a policeman? Because if it is, I'm not at home. I went out
three weeks ago and won't be back again for six years, and, furthermore,
I never threw stones at a pet tiger in my life unless I was asleep, and
that don't count."

"We aren't policemen," said Mollie. "We're Mollie and Whistlebinkie come
to see you."

"Oh, indeed!" cried the Unwiseman from within, as he threw the door open
wide. "Why, what a pleasant surprise! I had no idea you were coming.
Walk right in. So glad to see you."

Whistlebinkie giggled slightly through his beaver hat as he and Mollie,
accepting the invitation, walked in and seated themselves in a droll
little parlor that opened on the left-hand side of the hall.

"So this is your house, is it?" said Mollie, glancing about her with
much interest.

"Yes," said the Unwiseman; "but, Miss Whistlebinkie, won't you kindly
sit on the table instead of on that chair? So many people have been hurt
by chairs breaking under them--many times more than are hurt from
sitting on tables--that I have to be very careful. I have no doubt the
chairs are strong enough to hold you, but I don't want to take any
chances. I think it will rain next year, don't you?" he added. "And you
haven't brought any umbrellas! Too bad, too bad. If you should get wet,
you'd find it very damp. Really, you ought never to go out without an
umbrella. I always do, but then I know enough to go in when it rains, so
of course don't need one."

"I see you have a piano," said Whistlebinkie, taking in the furniture of
the parlor.

"Yes," replied the Unwiseman. "It's a very fine one, too. It has lots of
tunes locked up in it."

[Illustration: "Are you fond of music?" asked Mollie. "No, I hate it,"
said the Unwiseman.]

"Are you fond of music?" asked Mollie.

"No, I hate it," said the Unwiseman. "That's why I have the piano.
There's just so much less music in the world. Nobody can get at the keys
of that piano, so you see it's never played, which pleases me very much.
If I were rich enough, I'd buy all the pianos, and organs, and fiddles,
and horns, and drums in the world, and I'd keep 'em all locked up so
that there never would be any more music at all."

"I am sorry to hear that," said Mollie. "I love music."

"Well," said the old man, generously, "you can have my share. Whenever
anybody brings any music around where I am hereafter, I'll do it up in a
package, and send it to you."

"Thank you very much," said Mollie. "It's very good of you."

"Oh, it's no favor to you, I am sure!" put in the Unwiseman, hastily.
"In fact, it's the other way. I'm obliged to you for taking it off my
hands. If you want to you can open the piano right away, and take out
all the tunes there are in it. I'll go off on the mountains while you
are doing it, so that it won't annoy me any."

"Oh, no!" said Mollie. "I'd a great deal rather have you to talk to than
all the tunes in the piano."

"Very well," said the old man, with a smile of pleasure. "What shall we
talk about, frogs?"

"I don't know anything about frogs," said Mollie.

"Neither do I," returned the Unwiseman. "I don't know the difference
between a frog and a watch-chain, except that one chains watches and the
other doesn't, but which does and which doesn't I haven't a notion."

"I see you have all your pictures with their faces turned to the wall,"
said Mollie, looking about the room again so as to avoid laughing in the
Unwiseman's face. "What is that for?"

"That's to make them more interesting," replied the Unwiseman. "They're
a very uninteresting lot of pictures, and I never could get anybody to
look at 'em until I turned them hind side before, that way. Now
everybody wants to see them."

Mollie rose up, and turned one of them about so that she could see it.

"It's very pretty," she said. "What is it a picture of--a meadow?"

[Illustration: "It's a picture of me."]

"No. It's a picture of me," said the Unwiseman. "And it's one of the
best I ever had taken."

"But I don't see you in it," said Mollie. "All I can see is a great
field of grass and a big bowlder down in one corner."

"I know it," said the Unwiseman. "I'm lying on my back behind the
bowlder asleep. If you could move the bowlder you could see me, but you
can't. It's too heavy, and, besides, I think the paint is glued on."

"I hope you don't lie on the ground asleep very much," said Mollie,
gravely, for she had taken a great liking to this strange old man who
didn't know anything. "You might catch your death of cold."

"I didn't say I was lying on the ground," said the Unwiseman. "I said I
was lying on my back. People ought not to catch cold lying on a nice
warm back like mine."

"And do you live here all alone?" asked Mollie.

"Yes, I don't need anybody to live with. Other people know things, and
it always makes them proud, and I don't like proud people."

"I hope you like me," said Mollie, softly.

"Yes, indeed, I do," cried the Unwiseman. "I like you and Whistlebinkie
very much, because you don't either of you know anything either, and so,
of course, you aren't stuck up like some people I meet who think just
because they know the difference between a polar bear and a fog horn
while I don't that they're so much better than I am. I like you, and I
hope you will come and see me again."

"I will, truly," said Mollie.

"Very well--and that you may get back sooner you'd better run right home
now. It is getting late, and, besides, I have an engagement."

"You?" asked Mollie. "What with?"

"Well, don't you tell anybody," said the Unwiseman; "but I'm going up to
the village to the drug store. I promised to meet myself up there at six
o'clock, and it's quarter past now, so I must hurry."

"But what on earth are you going to do there?" asked Mollie.

"I'm going to buy myself a beaver hat just like Whistlebinkie's,"
returned the Unwiseman, gleefully, "I've got to have something to keep
my tablecloth in, and a beaver hat strikes me as just the thing."

[Illustration: The unwiseman sped off like lightning to the village drug
store.]

Saying which the Unwiseman bowed Mollie and Whistlebinkie out, and sped
off like lightning in the direction of the village drug store, but
whether or not he succeeded in getting a beaver hat there I don't know,
for he never told me.



[Illustration: III. In the House of the Unwiseman.
In which Mollie reads some strange rules.

A few]


days later Mollie and Whistlebinkie were strolling together through the
meadows when most unexpectedly they came upon the little red house of
the Unwiseman.

"Why, I thought this house was under the willow tree," said Mollie.

"Sotwuz," whistled Whistlebinkie through his hat.

"What are you trying to say, Whistlebinkie?" asked Mollie.

"So--it--was," replied Whistlebinkie. "He must have moved it."

"But this isn't half as nice a place for it as the old one," said
Mollie. "There isn't any shade here at all. Let's knock at the door, and
see if he is at home. Maybe he will tell us why he has moved again."

Mollie tapped gently on the door, but received no response. Then she
tried the knob, but the door was fastened.

"Nobody's home, I guess," she said.

"The back door is open," cried Whistlebinkie, running around to the rear
of the house. "Come around this way, Mollie, and we can get in."

So around Mollie went, and sure enough there was the kitchen door
standing wide open. A chicken was being grilled on the fire, and three
eggs were in the pot boiling away so actively that they would
undoubtedly have been broken had they not been boiling so long that
they had become as hard as rocks.

"Isn't he the foolishest old man that ever was," said Mollie, as she
caught sight of the chicken and the eggs. "That chicken will be burned
to a crisp, and the eggs won't be fit to eat."

"I don't understand him at all," said Whistlebinkie. "Look at this
notice to burglars he has pinned upon the wall."

Mollie looked and saw the following, printed in very awkward letters,
hanging where Whistlebinkie had indicated:

  NOTISS TO BURGYLERS.

      If you have come to robb mi house you'd better save yourselfs the
      trouble. My silver spoons are all made of led, and my diamonds are
      only window glass. If you must steel something steel the boyled
      eggs, because I don't like boyled eggs anyhow. Also plese if you
      get overcome with remoss for having robbed a poor old man like me
      and want to give yourselfs upp to the poleese, you can ring up the
      poleese over the tellyfone in Miss Mollie Wisslebinkie's house up
      on Broadway.

  Yoors trooly,
  THE UNWISEMAN.

      P. S. If you here me coming while you are robbing me plese run,
      because I'm afraid of burgylers, and doo not want to mete enny.

      N. G. If you can't rede my handwriting you'd better get someboddy
      who can to tell you what I have ritten, because it is very
      important. Wishing you a plesant time I am egen as I sed befour

  Yoors tooly,
  THE UNWISEMAN.

"What nonsense," said Mollie, as she read this extraordinary production.
"As if the burglars would pay any attention to a notice like that."

[Illustration: "It might make 'em laugh so they'd have fits; and then
they couldn't burgle."]

"Oh, they might!" said Whistlebinkie. "It might make 'em laugh so they'd
have fits, and then they couldn't burgle. But what is that other placard
he has pinned on the wall?"

"That," said Mollie, as she investigated the second placard, "that
seems to be a lot of rules for the kitchen. He's a queer old man for
placards, isn't he?"

"Indeed he is," said Whistlebinkie. "What do the rules say?"

"I'll get 'em down," said Mollie, mounting a chair and removing the
second placard from the wall. Then she and Whistlebinkie read the
following words:

  KITCHING RULES.

      1. No cook under two years of age unaccompanied by nurse or parent
      aloud in this kitching.

      3. Boyled eggs must never be cooked in the frying pan, and when
      fried eggs are ordered the cook must remember not to scramble
      them. This rule is printed ahed of number too, because it is more
      important than it.

      2. Butcher boys are warned not to sit on the ranje while the fiyer
      is going because all the heat in the fiyer is needed for cooking.
      Butcher boys who violate this rule will be charged for the cole
      consumed in burning them.

[Illustration: "The fiyer must not be allowed to go out without
someboddy with it."]

      7. The fiyer must not be aloud to go out without some boddy with
      it, be cause fiyers are dangerous and might set the house on
      fiyer. Any cook which lets the house burn down through voilating
      this rule will have the value of the house subtracted from her
      next month's wages, with interest at forety persent from the date
      of the fiyer.

      11. Brekfist must be reddy at all hours, and shall consist of
      boyled eggs or something else.

      4. Wages will be pade according to work done on the following
      skale:

  For cooking one egg one hour             1 cent.
   "    "       " leg of lamb one week     3   "
   "    "     pann cakes per duzzen        2   "
   "    "     gravey, per kwart            1   "
   "  stooing proons per hundred           2   "

      In making up bills against me cooks must add the figewers right,
      and substract from the whole the following charges:

  For rent of kitchchen per day            10 cents.
  For use of pans and kittles              15   "
  For cole, per nugget                      3   "
  Matches, kindeling and gas per day       20   "
  Food consoomed in tasting                30   "
  Sundries                                 50   "

      13. These rules must be obayed.

  Yoors Trooly,
  THE UNWISEMAN.

      P. S. Ennyboddy violating these rules will be scolded. Yoors
      Tooly,

  THE UNWISEMAN.

Whistlebinkie was rolling on the floor convulsed with laughter by the
time Mollie finished reading these rules. He knew enough about
house-keeping to know how delightful they were, and if the Unwiseman
could have seen him he would doubtless have been very much pleased at
his appreciation.

"The funny part of it all is, though," said Mollie, "that the poor old
man doesn't keep a cook at all, but does all his own housework."

"Let's see what kind of a dining-room he has got," said Whistlebinkie,
recovering from his convulsion. "I wonder which way it is."

"It must be in there to the right," said Mollie. "That is, it must if
that sign in the passage-way means anything. Don't you see,
Whistlebinkie, it says: 'This way to the dining-room,' and under it it
has 'Caution: meals must not be served in the parlor'?"

"So it has," said Whistlebinkie, reading the sign. "Let's go in there."

So the two little strangers walked into the dining-room, and certainly
if the kitchen was droll in the matter of placards, the dining-room was
more so, for directly over the table and suspended from the chandelier
were these

  RULES FOR GUESTS.

      Guests will please remember to remove their hats before sitting
      down at the tabel.

      Soup will not be helped more than three times to any guest, no
      matter who.

      It is forbidding for guests to criticize the cooking, or to
      converse with the waiteress.

      [Illustration: "Guest's will kindly not make fun of the host."]

      Guest's will kindly not contradict or make fun of their host,
      since he is very irritable and does not like to be contradicted or
      made fun of. Guests will oblige their host by not asking for
      anything that is not on the bill of fare. In a private house like
      this it would be very awkward to have to serve guests with fried
      potatoes at a time when ice-cream or mince pie has been ordered.

      Horses and wheelbarrows are not aloud in this dining-room under
      any circumstances whatever.

      Neither must cows or hay scales be brought here. Guests bringing
      their own olives will be charged extra. Also their own assalted
      ammonds. Spoons, platters, and gravy boats taken from the table
      must be paid for at market rates for articles so taken away.

      Any guest caught violating any or all of these rules will not be
      aloud any dessert whatever; and a second voilition will deprive
      them of a forth helping to roast beef and raisins.

  Yoors Tooly,
  THE UNWISEMAN.

      N. G. Any guest desiring to substitute his own rules for the above
      is at libbity to do so, provided he furnishes his own dining-room.

"They're the most ridiculous rules I ever heard of," said Mollie, with
a grin so broad that it made her ears uncomfortable. "The idea of having
to tell anybody not to wear a hat at the table! He might just as well
have made a rule forbidding people to throw plates on the floor."

"I dessay he would have, if he'd thought of it," returned Whistlebinkie.
"But just look at these rules for the waitress. They are worse than the
others." Then Whistlebinkie read off the rules the Unwiseman had made
for the waitress, as follows:

  RULES FOR THE WAITERESS.

      1. Iced water must never be served boiling, nor under any
      circumstances must ice-cream come to the tabel fried to a crisp.

      2. Waiteresses caught upsetting the roast beef on a guest's lap
      will be charged for the beef at the rate of $1.00 a pound, and
      will have to go to bed without her brekfist.

      3. All cakes, except lady-fingers, must be served in the cake
      basket. The lady-fingers must be served in finger bowls, whether
      this is what the waiteress is used to or not. This is my
      dining-room, and I am the one to make the rules for it.

      4. All waiteresses must wear caps. Their caps must be lace caps,
      and not yotting caps, tennis caps, or gun caps. The caps must be
      worn on the head, and not on the hands or feet. All waiteresses
      caught voilating this rule will not be allowed any pie for eight
      weeks.

      5. Meals must not be served until they are ready, and such silly
      jokes as putting an empty soup tureen on the table for the purpose
      of fooling me will be looked upon with disfavor and not laughed
      at.

      6. Waiteresses must never invite their friends here to take dinner
      with me unless I am out, and they mustn't do it then either,
      because this is my dining-room, and I can wear it out quick enough
      without any outside help.

      7. Waiteresses must not whistle while waitering on the tabel,
      because it isn't proper that they should. Besides, girls can't
      whistle, anyhow.

      8. At all meals dessert must be served at every other course. In
      serving a dinner this course should be followed:

  1. Pie.
  2. Soup.
  3. Custard.
  4. Roast Beef.
  5. Ice-cream.
  6. Sallad.
  7. Pudding.
  8. Coffee.
  9. More Pudding.

      9. In case there is not enough of anything to go around more will
      be sent for at the waiteresses' expense, because the chances are
      she has been tasting it, which she hadn't any business to do.

      10. To discourage waiteresses in losing spoons, and knives, and
      forks, any waiteress caught losing a spoon or a knife and a fork
      will have the price of two spoons, two knives, and two forks
      substracted off of her next month's wages.

  Yoors Tooly,
  THE UNWISEMAN.

[Illustration: "Riteing rules isn't easy work."]

      N. G. All waiteresses who don't like these rules would better
      apply for some other place somewhere else, because I'm not going
      to take the trouble to get up a lot of good rules like these and
      then not have them obeyed. Riteing rules isn't easy work.

"Well I declare!" said Mollie, when they had finished reading. "I don't
wonder he has to live in his little old house all by himself. I don't
believe he'd get anybody to stay here a minute, if those rules had to be
minded."

"Oh, I don't know," said Whistlebinkie. "They all seem reasonable
enough."

"I think I'll take 'em down and show them to my mamma," said Mollie,
reaching out to do as she said.

"No, no, don't do that," said Whistlebinkie. "That wouldn't be right.
They are his property, and it would never do for you to steal them."

"That's so," said Mollie. "I guess you are right."

"If you want to steal something why don't you do as he asked you to?"
put in Whistlebinkie.

"What did he ask me to do?"

"Why don't you remember the notice to burglars?"

[Illustration: "Oh, yes!" said Mollie, "if you must steal something,
steal a boyled egg."]

"Oh, yes!" said Mollie. "'If you must steal something steal a boyled
egg.'"

"That's it. He doesn't like boyled eggs."

"And neither do I," said Mollie. "Particularly when they are as hard as
bullets."

And then hearing the tinkle of the tea bell at home Mollie and
Whistlebinkie left the Unwiseman's house without stealing anything,
which after all was the best thing to do.



[Illustration: IV. A Call From the Unwiseman.
In which Mollie's call is returned.

Mollie]


[Illustration: "Should any queen read these lines, the author hopes she
will see that her daughter is brought up to look after household
affairs."]

had been very busy setting things to rights in Cinderella's house one
autumn afternoon not long after her visit to the Unwiseman. Cinderella
was a careless Princess, who allowed her palace to get into a very
untidy condition every two or three weeks. Bric-a-brac would be strewn
here and there about the floor; clocks would be found standing upside
down in the fire-places; andirons and shoe buttons would litter up the
halls and obstruct the stairways--in short, all things would get
topsy-turvy within the doors of the Princess' house, and all because
Princesses are never taught house-keeping. Should any King or Queen read
these lines, the author hopes that his or her Majesty will take the hint
and see to it that his or her daughters are properly brought up and
taught to look after household affairs, for if they do not, most
assuredly the time may come when the most magnificent palace in the
world will be allowed to go to ruin through mere lack of attention.

It was a long and hard task for the little mistress of the nursery, but
she finally accomplished it; apple-pie order once more ruled in the
palace, the Princess' diamonds had been swept up from the floor, and
stored away in the bureau drawers, and Mollie was taking a well-earned
rest in her rocking-chair over by the window. As she gazed out upon the
highway upon which the window fronted, she saw in the dim light a
strange shadow passing down the walk, and in a minute the front
door-bell rang. Supposing it to be no one but the boy with the evening
paper, Mollie did not stir as she would have done if it had been her
papa returning home. The paper boy possessed very little interest to
her--indeed, I may go so far as to say that Mollie despised the paper
boy, not because he was a paper boy, but because he was rude, and had,
upon several occasions recently made faces at her and told her she
didn't know anything because she was a girl, and other mean things like
that; as if being a girl kept one from finding out useful and important
things. So, as I have said, she sat still and gazed thoughtfully out of
the window.

Her thoughts were interrupted in a moment, however, by a most
extraordinary proceeding at the nursery door. It suddenly flew open with
a bang, and Whistlebinkie came tumbling in head over heels, holding the
silver card-receiver in his hand, and whistling like mad from
excitement.

"Cardfew," he tooted through the top of his hat. "Nwiseman downstairs."

"What are you trying to say, Whistlebinkie?" asked Mollie, severely.

"Here is a card for you," said Whistlebinkie, standing up and holding
out the salver upon which lay, as he had hinted, a card. "The gentleman
is below."

Mollie picked up the card, which read this way:

  Mr. ME.

  My House.

"What on earth does it mean?" cried Mollie, with a smile, the card
seemed so droll.

"It is the Unwiseman's card. He has called on you, and is downstairs in
the parlor--and dear me, how funny he does look," roared Whistlebinkie
breathlessly. "He's got on a beaver hat, a black evening coat like your
papa wears to the theatre or to dinners, a pair of goloshes, and white
tennis trousers. Besides that he's got an umbrella with him, and he's
sitting in the parlor with it up over his head."

Whistlebinkie threw himself down on the floor in a spasm of laughter as
he thought of the Unwiseman's appearance. Mollie meanwhile was studying
the visitor's card.

"What does he mean by 'My House'?" she asked.

"That's his address, I suppose," said Whistlebinkie. "But what shall I
tell him? Are you in?"

"Of course I'm in," Mollie replied, and before Whistlebinkie could get
upon his feet again she had flown out of the room, down the stairs to
the parlor, where, sure enough, as Whistlebinkie had said, the Unwiseman
sat, his umbrella raised above his head, looking too prim and absurd for
anything.

"How do you do, Miss Whistlebinkie?" he said, gravely, as Mollie entered
the room. "I believe that is the correct thing to say when you are
calling, though for my part I can't see why. People do so many things
that there's a different way to do almost all of them. If I said, 'how
do you do your sums?' of course there could be a definite answer. 'I do
them by adding, or by substracting.' If any one calling on me should
say, 'how do you do?' I'd say, 'excuse me, but how do I do what?'
However, I wish to be ruled by etiquette, and as I understand that is
the proper question to begin with, I will say again, 'how do you do,
Miss Whistlebinkie?' According to my etiquette book it is your turn to
reply, and what you ought to say is, 'I'm very well, I thank you, how
are you?' I'm very well."

"I'm delighted to hear it, Mr. Me," returned Mollie, glad of the chance
to say something. "I have thought a great deal about you lately."

"So have I," said the Unwiseman. "I've been thinking about myself all
day. I like to think about pleasant things. I've been intending to
return your call for a long time, but really I didn't know exactly how
to do it. You see, some things are harder to return than other things.
If I borrowed a book from you, and wanted to return it, I'd know how in
a minute. I'd just take the book, wrap it up in a piece of brown paper,
and send it back by mail or messenger--or both, in case it happened to
be a male messenger. Same way with a pair of andirons. Just return 'em
by sending 'em back--but calls are different, and that's what I've come
to see you about. I don't know how to return that call."

"But this is the return of the call," said Mollie.

"I don't see how," said the Unwiseman, with a puzzled look on his face.
"This isn't the same call at all. The call you made at my house was
another one. This arrangement is about the same as it would be in the
case of my borrowing a book on Asparagus from you, and returning a book
on Sweet Potatoes to you. That wouldn't be a return of your book. It
would be returning _my_ book. Don't you see? Now, I want to be polite
and return your call, but I can't. I can't find it. It's come and gone.
I almost wish you hadn't called, it's puzzled me so. Finally, I made up
my mind to come here, and apologize to you for not returning it. That's
all I can do."

"Don't mention it," said Mollie.

"Oh, but I must! How could I apologize without mentioning it?" said the
Unwiseman, hastily. "You wouldn't know what I was apologizing for if I
didn't mention it. How have you been?"

"Quite well," said Mollie. "I've been very busy this fall getting my
dolls' dresses made and setting everything to rights. Won't
you--ah--won't you put down your umbrella, Mr. Me?"

[Illustration: "No, thank you," said the unwiseman, with an anxious peep
at the ceiling.]

"No, thank you," said the Unwiseman, with an anxious peep at the
ceiling. "I am very timid about other people's houses, Miss
Whistlebinkie. I have been told that sometimes houses fall down without
any provocation, and while I don't doubt that your house is well built
and all that, some nail somewhere might give way and the whole thing
might come down. As long as I have the umbrella over my head I am safe,
but without it the ceiling, in case the house did fall, would be likely
to spoil my hat. This is a pretty parlor you have. They call it white
and gold, I believe."

"Yes," said Mollie. "Mamma is very fond of parlors of that kind."

"So am I," said the Unwiseman. "I have one in my own house."

"Indeed?" said Mollie. "I didn't see it."

[Illustration: "I don't like to get angry."]

"You were in it, only you didn't know it," observed the Unwiseman. "It
was that room with the walls painted brown. I was afraid the white and
gold walls would get spotted if I didn't do something to protect them,
so I had a coat of brown paint put over the whole room. Good idea that,
I think, and all mine, too. I'd get it patented, if I wasn't afraid
somebody would make an improvement on it, and get all the money that
belonged to me, which would make me very angry. I don't like to get
angry, because when I do I always break something valuable, and I find
that when I break anything valuable I get angrier than ever, and go
ahead and break something else. If I got angry once I never could stop
until I'd broken all the valuable things in the world, and when they
were all gone where would I be?"

"But it seems to me," said Mollie, as she puzzled over the Unwiseman's
idea, of which he seemed unduly proud, "it seems to me that if you cover
a white and gold parlor with a coat of brown paint, it doesn't stay a
white and gold parlor. It becomes a brown parlor."

"Not at all," returned the Unwiseman. "How do you make that out? Put it
this way: You, for instance, are a white girl, aren't you?"

"Yes," said Mollie.

"That is, they call you white, though really you are a pink girl.
However, for the sake of the argument, you are white."

"Certainly," said Mollie, anxious to be instructed.

"And you wear clothes to protect you."

"I do."

"Now if you wore a brown dress, would you cease to be a white girl and
become a nigrio?"

"A what?" cried Mollie.

"A nigrio--a little brown darky girl," said the Unwiseman.

"No," said Mollie. "I'd still be a white or pink girl, whatever color I
was before."

"Well--that's the way with my white and gold parlor. It's white and
gold, and I give it a brown dress for protection. That's all there is
to it. I see you keep your vases on the mantel-piece. Queer notion that.
Rather dangerous, I should think."

Mollie laughed.

"Dangerous?" she cried. "Why not at all. They're safe enough, and the
mantel-piece is the place for them, isn't it? Where do you keep yours?"

"I don't have any. I don't believe in 'em," replied the Unwiseman. "They
aren't any good."

"They're splendid," said Mollie. "They're just the things to keep
flowers in."

"What nonsense," said the Unwiseman, with a sneer. "The place to keep
flowers is in a garden. You might just as well have a glass trunk in
your parlor to hold your clothes in; or a big china bin to hold oats or
grass in. It's queer how you people who know things do things. But
anyhow, if I did have vases I wouldn't put 'em on mantel-pieces, but on
the floor. If they are on the floor they can't fall off and break unless
your house turns upside down."

"They might get stepped on," said Mollie.

[Illustration: "I'm fond of the wet."]

"Poh!" snapped the Unwiseman. "Don't you wise people look where you
step? I do, and they say I don't know enough to go in when it rains,
which is not true. I know more than enough to go in when it rains. I
stay out when it rains because I like to. I'm fond of the wet. It keeps
me from drying up, and makes my clothes fit me. Why, if I hadn't stayed
out in the rain every time I had a chance last summer my flannel suit
never would have fitted me. It was eight sizes too big, and it took
sixteen drenching storms to make it shrink small enough to be just
right. Most men--wise men they call themselves--would have spent money
having them misfitted again by a tailor, but I don't spend my money on
things I can get done for nothing. That's the reason I don't pay
anything out to beggars. I can get all the begging I want done on my
place without having to pay a cent for it, and yet I know lots and lots
of people who are all the time spending money on beggars."

"There is a great deal in what you say," said Mollie.

"There generally is," returned the Unwiseman. "I do a great deal of
thinking, and I don't say anything without having thought it all out
beforehand. That's why I'm so glad you were at home to-day. I mapped out
all my conversation before I came. In fact, I wrote it all down, and
then learned it by heart. It would have been very unpleasant if after
doing all that, taking all that trouble, I should have found you out.
It's very disappointing to learn a conversation, and then not converse
it."

"I should think so," said Mollie. "What do you do on such occasions?
Keep it until the next call?"

"No. Sometimes I tell it to the maid, and ask her to tell it to the
person who is out. Sometimes I say it to the front door, and let the
person it was intended for find it out for herself as best she can, but
most generally I send it to 'em by mail."

Here the Unwiseman paused for a minute, cocking his head on one side as
if to think.

"Excuse me," he said. "But I've forgotten what I was to say next. I'll
have to consult my memorandum-book. Hold my umbrella a minute--over my
head please. Thank you."

Then as Mollie did as the queer creature wished, he fumbled in his
pockets for a minute and shortly extracting his memorandum-book from a
mass of other stuff, he consulted its pages.

"Oh, yes!" he said, with a smile of happiness. "Yes, I've got it now. At
this point you were to ask me if I wouldn't like a glass of lemonade,
and I was to say yes, and then you were to invite me up-stairs to see
your play room. There's some talk scattered in during the lemonade, but,
of course, I can't go on until you've done your part."

He gazed anxiously at Mollie for a moment, and the little maid, taking
the hint, smilingly said:

"Ah! won't you have a little refreshment, Mr. Me? A glass of lemonade,
for instance?"

"Why--ah--certainly, Miss Whistlebinkie. Since you press me, I--ah--I
don't care if I do."

And the caller and his hostess passed, laughing heartily, out of the
white and gold parlor into the pantry.



[Illustration: V. The Unwiseman is Offended.
In which the Old Gentleman takes his leave.]


"How do you like your lemonade?" asked Mollie, as she and the Unwiseman
entered the pantry. "Very sour or very sweet?"

"What did you invite me to have?" the Unwiseman replied. "Lemonade or
sugarade?"

"Lemonade, of course," said Mollie. "I never heard of sugarade before."

"Well, lemonade should be very lemony and sugarade should be very
sugary; so when I am invited to have lemonade I naturally expect
something very lemony, don't I?"

"I suppose so," said Mollie, meekly.

"Very well, then. That answers your question. I want it very sour. So
sour that I can't drink it without it puckering my mouth up until I
can't do anything but whistle like our elastic friend with the tootle in
his hat."

"You mean Whistlebinkie?" said Mollie.

"Yes--that India-rubber creature who follows you around all the time and
squeaks whenever any one pokes him in the ribs. What's become of him?
Has he blown himself to pieces, or has he gone off to have himself made
over into a golosh?"

"Oh, no--Whistlebinkie is still here," said Mollie. "In fact, he let you
into the house. Didn't you see him?"

"No, indeed I didn't," said the Unwiseman. "What do you take me for?
I'm proud, I am. I wouldn't look at a person who'd open a front door. I
come of good family. My father was a Dunderberg and my mother was a Van
Scootle. We're one of the oldest families in creation. One of my
ancestors was in the Ark, and I had several who were not. It would never
do for one in my position to condescend to see a person who opened a
front door for pay.

"That's why I don't have servants in my own house. I'd have to speak to
them, and the idea of a Dunderberg-Van Scootle engaged in any kind of
conversation with servants is not to be thought of. We never did
anything for pay in all the history of our family, and we never
recognize as equals people who do. That's why I have nothing to do with
anybody but children. Most grown up people work."

"I don't see how you live," said Mollie. "How do you pay your bills?"

"Don't have any," said the Unwiseman. "Never had a bill in my life. I
leave bills to canary birds and mosquitoes."

"But you have to buy things to eat, don't you?"

"Very seldom," said the Unwiseman. "I'm never hungry; but when I do get
hungry I can most generally find something to eat somewhere--apples, for
instance. I can live a week on one apple."

"Well, what do you do when you've eaten the apple?" queried Mollie.

"What an absurd question," laughed the Unwiseman. "Didn't you know that
there was more than one apple in the world? Every year I find enough
apples to last me as long as I think it is necessary to provide. Last
year I laid in fifty-three apples so that if I got very hungry one week
I could have two--or maybe I could give a dinner and invite my friends,
and they could have the extra apple. Don't you see?"

"Well, you are queer, for a fact!" said Mollie, getting a large lemon
out of the pantry closet and cutting it in half.

As the sharp steel blade of the knife cut through the crisp yellow lemon
the eyes of the Unwiseman opened wide and bulged with astonishment.

"What on earth are you doing, Miss Whistlebinkie?" he said. "Why do you
destroy that beautiful thing?"

It was Mollie's turn to be surprised.

"I don't know what you mean," she said. "Why shouldn't I cut the lemon?
How can I make a lemonade without cutting it?"

"Humph!" said the Unwiseman, with a half sneer on his lips. "You'll go
to the poor-house if you waste things like that. Why, I've had lemonade
for a year out of one lemon, and it hasn't been cut open yet. I drop it
in a glass of water and let it soak for ten minutes. That doesn't use up
the lemon juice as your plan does, and it makes one of the bitterest
sour drinks that you ever drank--however, this is your lemonade treat,
and it isn't for me to criticize. My book of etiquette says that people
out calling must act according to the rules of the house they are
calling at. If you asked me to have some oyster soup and then made it
out of sassafras or snow-balls, it would be my place to eat it and say I
never tasted better oyster soup in my life. That's a funny thing about
being polite. You have to do and say so many things that you don't
really mean. But go ahead. Make your lemonade in your own way. I've got
to like it whether I like it or not. It isn't my lemon you are wasting."

Mollie resumed the making of the lemonade while the Unwiseman looked
about him, discovering something that was new and queer to him every
moment. He seemed to be particularly interested in the water pipes.

"Strange idea that," he said, turning the cold water on and off all the
time. "You have a little brook running through your house whenever you
want it. Ever get any fish out of it?"

"No," said Mollie, with a laugh. "We couldn't get very big fish through
a faucet that size."

[Illustration: "Why don't you have larger faucets and catch the fish?"]

"That's what I was thinking," said the Unwiseman, turning the water on
again; "and furthermore, I think it's very strange that you don't fix it
so that you can get fish. A trout isn't more than four inches around.
You could get one through a six-inch pipe without any trouble unless he
got mad and stuck his fins out. Why don't you have larger faucets and
catch the fish? I would. If there aren't any fish in the brook you can
stock it up without any trouble, and it would save you the money you pay
to fish-markets as well as the nuisance of going fishing yourself and
putting worms on hooks."

A long hilarious whistle from the pantry door caused the Unwiseman to
look up sharply.

"What was that?" he said.

"Smee," came the whistling voice.

"It's Whistlebinkie," said Mollie.

"Is his real name Smee?" asked the Unwiseman. "I thought Whistlebinkie
was his name."

"So it is," said Mollie. "But when he gets excited he always runs his
words together and speaks them through the top of his hat. By 'smee' he
meant 'it's me.' Come in, Whistlebinkie."

"I shall not notice him," said the Unwiseman, stiffly. "Remember what I
said to you about my family. He opens front doors for pay."

"Donteither," whistled Whistlebinkie.

"You wrong him, Mr. Unwiseman," said Mollie. "He isn't paid for opening
the front door. He just does it for fun."

"Oh! well, that's different," said the proud visitor. "If he does it
just for fun I can afford to recognize him--though I must say I can't
see what fun there is in opening front doors. How do you do,
Whistlebinkie?"

"Pretwell," said Whistlebinkie. "How are you?"

"I hardly know what to say," replied the Unwiseman, scratching his head
thoughtfully. "You see, Miss Mollie, when I got up my conversation for
this call I didn't calculate on Whistlebinkie here. I haven't any
remarks prepared for him. Of course, I could tell him that I am in
excellent health, and that I think possibly it will rain before the
year is over; but, after all, that's very ordinary kind of talk, and
we'll have to keep changing the subject all the time to get back to my
original conversation with you."

"Whistlebinkie needn't talk at all," said Mollie. "He can just whistle."

"Or maybe I could go outside and put in a few remarks for him here and
there, and begin the call all over again," suggested the Unwiseman.

"Oh, no! Dodoothat," began Whistlebinkie.

"Now what does he mean by dodoothat?" asked the visitor, with a puzzled
look on his face.

"He means don't do that--don't you, Whistlebinkie? Answer plainly
through your mouth and let your hat rest," said Mollie.

"That--swat--I--meant," said Whistlebinkie, as plainly as he
could. "He--needn't--botherto--talk--toomee--to me, I mean. I
only--want--to--listen--towhim."

"What's towhim?" asked the Unwiseman.

"To you is what he means. He says he's satisfied to listen to you when
you talk."

"Thassit," Whistlebinkie hurried to say, meaning, I suppose, "that's
it."

"Ah!" said the Unwiseman, with a pleased smile. "That's it, eh? Well,
permit me to say that I think you are a very wonderfully wise rubber
doll, Mr. Whistlebinkie. I may go so far as to say that in this view of
the case I think you are the wisest rubber doll I ever met. You like my
conversation, do you?"

"Deedido," whistled Whistlebinkie. "I think it's fine!"

"I owe you an apology, Whistlebinkie," said the Unwiseman, gazing at the
doll in an affectionate way. "I thought you opened front doors for pay,
instead of which I find that you are one of the wisest, most interesting
rubber celebrities of the day. I apologize for even thinking that you
would accept pay for opening a front door, and I will esteem it a great
favor if you will let me be your friend. Nay, more. I shall make it my
first task to get up a conversation especially for you. Eh? Isn't that
fine, Whistlebinkie? I, Me, the Unwiseman, promise to devote fifteen or
twenty minutes of his time to getting up talk for you, talk with
thinking in it, talk that amounts to something, talk that ninety-nine
talkers out of a hundred conversationalists couldn't say if they tried;
and all for you. Isn't that honor?"

"Welliguess!" whistled Whistlebinkie.

"Very well, then. Listen," said the Unwiseman. "Where were we at, Miss
Mollie?"

"I believe," said Mollie, squeezing a half a lemon, "I believe you were
saying something about putting fish through the faucet."

"Oh, yes! As I remember it, the faucets were too small to get the fish
through, and I was pondering why you didn't have them larger."

"That was it," said Mollie. "You thought if the faucets were larger it
would save fish-hooks and worms."

"Exactly," said the Unwiseman. "And I wonder at it yet. I'd even go
farther. If I could have a trout-stream running through my house that I
could turn on and off as I pleased, I'd have also an estuary connected
with the Arctic regions through which whales could come, and in that way
I'd save lots of money. Just think what would happen if you could turn
on a faucet and get a whale. You'd get oil enough to supply every lamp
in your house. You wouldn't have to pay gas bills or oil bills, and
besides all that you could have whale steaks for breakfast, and whenever
your mother wanted any whale-bone, instead of sending to the store for
it, she'd have plenty in the house. If you only caught one whale a
month, you'd have all you could possibly need."

"It certainly is a good idea," said Mollie. "But I don't think----"

"Wait a minute, please," said the Unwiseman, hastily. "That don't think
remark of yours isn't due until I've turned on this other faucet."

Suiting his action to his word, the Unwiseman turned on the hot-water
faucet, and plunging his hand into the water, slightly scalded his
fingers.

[Illustration: "Ouch!" he cried; "the brook must be afire!"]

"Ouch!" he cried. "The brook must be afire! Now who ever heard of that?
The idea of a brook being on fire! Really, Miss Whistlebinkie, you ought
to tell your papa about this. If you don't, the pipes will melt and who
knows what will become of your house? It will be flooded with burning
water!"

"Oh, no!--I guess not. That water is heated down stairs in the
kitchen, in the boiler."

"But--but isn't it dangerous?" the Unwiseman asked, anxiously.

"Not at all," said Mollie. "You've been mistaken all along, Mr. Me.
There isn't any brook running through this house."

"I?" cried the Unwiseman, indignantly. "Me? I? The Unwiseman mistaken?
Never! I never made a mistake but once, Miss Mary J. Whistlebinkie, and
that was in calling upon you. I'm going home at once. You have
outrageously offended me."

"I didn't mean to," pleaded Mollie. "I was only trying to tell you the
truth. This water comes out of a tank."

[Illustration: "I am going straight home."]

"Excuse me," said the Unwiseman, indignantly. "You have said that I have
made a mistake. You charge me with an act of which I have never been
guilty, and I am going straight home. You said something that wasn't in
the conversation, and we can never get back again to the point from
which you have departed."

"Oh! do stay," said Whistlebinkie. "You haven't seen the nursery yet,
and the hardwood stairs, and all the lovely things we have here."

"No, I haven't--and I sha'n't now!" retorted the Unwiseman. "I had some
delicious remarks to make about the nursery, but now they are
impossible. I shall not even drink your lemonade. I am going home!"

And without another word the Unwiseman departed in high dudgeon.

"Isn't it too bad," said Mollie, as she heard the front door slam after
the departing guest.

"Yes," said Whistlebinkie. "I wanted him to stay until it was dark. I
should like so much to know what he'd have to say about gas."



[Illustration: VI. The Christmas Venture of the Unwiseman.
In which the Unwiseman goes into an unprofitable business.

It]


was the Saturday before Christmas. Mollie and Whistlebinkie started out
in the afternoon to watch the boys skating for a while, after which they
went to the top of the great hill just outside the village to take a
coast or two. Whistlebinkie had never had any experience on a sled, and
he was very anxious to try it just once, and, as Mollie was a little
sleepy when he began persuading her to take him some time when she went,
for the sake of peace and rest she had immediately promised what he
wished of her. So here they were, on this cold, crisp December day,
laboriously lugging Mollie's sled up the hill.

"Tain-teesy!" whistled Whistlebinkie.

"What's that you say?" panted Mollie, for she was very much out of
breath.

"Tain-teesy," repeated Whistlebinkie. "I can't wissel well when I'm out
of breath."

"Well, I guess I know what you mean," said Mollie. "You mean that it
isn't easy pulling this sled up hill."

"Thassit!" said Whistlebinkie. "If this is what you call coasting, I
don't want any more of it."

"Oh, no!" said Mollie. "This isn't coasting. This is only getting ready
to coast. The coast comes when you slide down hill. We'll come down in
about ten seconds."

"Humph!" said Whistlebinkie. "All this pulling and hauling for ten
seconds' worth of fun?"

[Illustration: "Sliding down hill is never any fun unless you live at
the top of the hill."]

"That's what I say!" said a voice at Mollie's elbow. "Sliding down hill
is never any fun unless you live at the top of the hill and wish to go
down to the level to stay forever."

"Why," cried Mollie, delightedly, as she recognized the voice; "why it's
the Unwiseman!"

"Sotiz!" roared Whistlebinkie, intending, of course to say "so it is."

"Certainly it is," said the Unwiseman; "for how could it be otherwise,
seeing as I am not a magic lantern and so cannot change myself into some
one else? I've got to stay Me always."

"Magic lanterns can't change themselves into anything else," said
Mollie. "You must mean magician."

"Maybe I must," said the Unwiseman. "I guess you are right. Some people
call 'em by a long name like prestodigipotatoes, but your word is good
enough for me, so we'll let it go at that. I'm not a magellan, so I
can't transfigure myself. Therefore, I am still the Unwiseman at your
service. But tell me, are you going sliding?"

"Yes," said Mollie. "Want to come with us?"

"I'd like to, but I'm afraid I can't. I'm very busy," replied the
Unwiseman. "I'm going into business."

"You?" cried Mollie, in amazement. "Why, didn't you tell me once that
you never worked? That no member of your family had ever worked, and
that you despised trade?"

"Iyeardim," put in Whistlebinkie.

"What's that?" queried the Unwiseman, frowning at Whistlebinkie. "What
does iyeardim mean?"

"It's Whistlebinkie for 'I heard him,'" explained Mollie. "He means to
say that he heard you say you had never worked and never intended to."

"No doubt," said the Unwiseman. "No doubt. But misfortune has overtaken
me. I have ceased to like apples."

"Ho!" laughed Mollie. "What has that to do with it?"

"I have ceased to like apples and have conceived an unquenchable thirst
for chocolate eclaires," said the Unwiseman. "Hitherto, as I once told
you, I have lived on apples, which cost me nothing, because I could pick
them up in the orchard, but chocolate eclaires cost money. I have been
informed, and I believe, they cost five cents a piece; that they do not
grow on trees, but are made by men calling themselves fakirs----"

"Bakers, you mean, I guess," interrupted Mollie.

"It may be," said the Unwiseman, "though neither fakir nor baker seems
to me to be so good a name for a man who makes cakes as the word caker."

"But there isn't any such word," said Mollie.

"Then that accounts for it," said the Unwiseman. "If there were such a
word those men would be called by it. But to come back to the chocolate
eclaires, whether they are made by bakers, fakirs, or plumbers, they
cost money; if I don't have them I shall starve to death, for I can
never more eat apples; therefore, to live I must make some money, and to
make money I must go into business."

"Well, I haven't any doubt it will be good for you," said Mollie. "It's
always well to have something to do. What business are you going into?"

"Ah!" said the Unwiseman, with a shake of his head. "That's my secret.
I've got a patent business I'm going into. It's my own invention. I was
going to be a lawyer at first, but I heard that lawyers gave advice. I
don't intend to give anything. There isn't any money in giving things,
so, of course, I decided not to be a lawyer--besides, I know of a man
who was a lawyer and he spent all of his life up to his ears in trouble,
and he didn't even own the trouble. It all belonged to his victims."

"Why don't you become a minister?" suggested Mollie.

"That's too hard work," said the Unwiseman. "You've got to go to church
three times every Sunday, and, besides, my house wouldn't look well with
a steeple on it. Then, too, I'd have to take a partner to ring the bell
and play the organ, and, of course, he'd want half the collections. No:
I couldn't be a minister. I'm too droll to be one, even if my house
would look well with a steeple on it. I did think some of being a
doctor, though."

"Why don't you?" said Mollie. "Doctors are awfully nice people. Our
doctor is just lovely. He gives me the nicest medicines you ever saw."

"That may be true; but I don't want to be a doctor," returned the
Unwiseman. "You have to study an awful lot to be a doctor. I knew a man
once who studied six weeks before he could be a doctor, and then what do
you suppose happened? It was awfully discouraging."

"What was it?" queried Mollie.

"Why, he practised on a cat he owned, to see what kind of a doctor he
had become, and the cat died all nine times at once; so the poor fellow,
after wasting all those weeks on study, had to become a plumber, after
all. Plumbing is the easiest profession of all, you know. You don't have
to know anything to be a plumber, only you've got to have strong eyes."

"I didn't know that," said Mollie.

"Oh my, yes!" returned the Unwiseman. "You can't be a plumber unless you
have strong eyes. It is very bad for a weak-eyed person to have to sit
on the floor and look at a pipe all day. That is one reason why I'm not
going to be a plumber. The other reason is that they never get any rest.
They work all day eying pipes, and then have to sit up all night making
out bills, and then they burn their fingers on stoves, and they
sometimes get their feet wet after springing a leak on a pipe, and,
altogether, it isn't pleasant. People play jokes on plumbers, too; mean
jokes. Why, I knew a plumber who was called out in the middle of the
night once by a city man who was trying to be a farmer during the summer
months, and what do you suppose the trouble was?"

"I'm sure I don't know," said Mollie. "What?"

"The city man said he'd come home late and found the well full of water,
and what was worse, the colander was riddled with holes. Twelve o'clock
at night, mind you, and one of these bitter cold summer nights you find
down in New Jersey."

"That was awfully mean," said Mollie. "That is, it was if the city man
didn't know any better."

"He did know better. He did it just for a joke," said the Unwiseman.

"And didn't the plumber put in a great big bill for that?" asked Mollie.

"Yes--but the city man couldn't pay it," said the Unwiseman. "That was
the meanest part of the joke. He went and lost all his money afterward.
I believe he did it just to spite the plumber."

"Well," said Mollie, "here we are at the top of the hill at last. Won't
you change your mind and go down with us, just once?"

"Nope," returned the Unwiseman. "I can't change my mind. Can't get it
out of my head, to change. Besides, I must hurry. I've got to get a
hundred pairs of stockings before Christmas Eve."

"Oh!" said Mollie. "I see. You are going into the stocking business."

"No, I'm not," said the queer old fellow, with a knowing smile. "There
isn't much money in selling stockings. I've got a better idea than that.
You come around to my house Christmas morning and I'll show you a thing
or two--that is, I will if I can get the hundred pairs of stockings--you
couldn't lend me a few pairs, could you?"

"I guess maybe so," said Mollie.

"All right--thank you very much," said the Unwiseman. "I'll be off now
and get them. Good-by."

And before Mollie could say another word he was gone.

"Isn't he the worst you ever saw?" said Mollie.

"Puffickly-digulous," said Whistlebinkie.

"I wonder what his business is to be," observed Mollie, as she seated
herself on the sled and made ready for the descent.

"I haven't the slightest ideeeee-eeeeeeee-eeeee-eeee-ah!" whistled
Whistlebinkie; a strange and long-drawn-out word that; but whistling
dolls are very like boys and girls when they are sliding down hill.
Mollie had set the sled in motion just as Whistlebinkie started to
speak, and her little rubber companion could not get away from the
letter _e_ in idea until he and his mistress ran plump into the
snow-drift at the foot of the hill.

"My!" said Whistlebinkie, blowing the snow out of his whistle. "Wasn't
that fine! I could do that all day."

"You could if the hill was long enough," said Mollie, sagely. "But
come, we must go home now." And home they went.

In the forty-eight or more hours that passed before Christmas morning
came, Mollie often wondered at the business venture of the Unwiseman.
What it could be she could not guess. The hundred pairs of stockings
mystified her exceedingly, and so, when Christmas morning finally
dawned, the first thing she and Whistlebinkie did was to post off at
full speed to the house of the Unwiseman.

"I wonder where his home is now?" said Whistlebinkie, as they walked
along.

"I haven't the slightest idea," said Mollie; "but it's had a way of
turning up where we least expected it in the past, so maybe we'll find
it in the same way now."

Mollie was right, for hardly were the words out of her mouth when
directly in front of her she saw what was unmistakably the house of the
Unwiseman, only fastened to the chimney was a huge sign, which had not
been there the last time she and Whistlebinkie had visited the
Unwiseman.

"What is that he's got on his chimmilly?" said Whistlebinkie, who did
not know how to spell, and who always pronounced words as he thought
they were spelled.

"It's a sign--sure as you live," said Mollie.

"What does it say?" Whistlebinkie asked.

"The Unwiseman's Orphan Asylum," said Mollie, reading the sign. "Notice
to Santa Claus: Dear Sir:--Too Hundred Orphans is Incarcerated Here.
Please leave Toys Accordingly."

"Ho!" said Whistlebinkie. "How queer."

"You don't suppose he has really gone into the Orphan Asylum business?"
said Mollie.

"I dono," said Whistlebinkie. "Let's wait till we see him before we
decide."

So they ran on until they got to the Unwiseman's front door, upon which
they knocked as hard as they knew how.

"Who's there?" came a reply in a mournful voice, from within.

"It's us," said Mollie.

"Who is Uss?" said the voice. "I know several Usses. Are you George W.
Uss, the trolley-car conductor, or William Peters Uss, the poet? If you
are the poet, I don't want to see you. I don't care for any poetry
to-day. If you are the conductor, I've paid my fare."

"It's Mollie and Whistlebinkie," said Mollie.

"Oh--well, that's different. Come in and see your poor ruined old
friend, who's got to go back to apples, whether he likes them or not,"
said the voice.

Mollie opened the door and walked in, Whistlebinkie following close
behind her--and what a sight it was that met their gaze! There in the
middle of the floor sat the Unwiseman, the perfect picture of despair.
Scattered about the room were hundreds of broken toys, and swinging from
the mantel-piece were two hundred stockings.

"Hello!" said the Unwiseman. "Merry Christmas. I'm ruined; but what of
that? You aren't."

"But how are you ruined?" asked Mollie.

"My business has failed--it didn't work," groaned the Unwiseman. "It was
the toy business I was going into, and as I had no money to buy the toys
with I borrowed a hundred pairs of stockings and hung 'em up. Then I put
out that notice for Santa Claus, telling him that this was an Orphan
Asylum."

"Yes," said Mollie, "I know. But it wasn't the truth, was it?"

"Of course it was," said the Unwiseman. "I'm an orphan. Very few men of
my age are not, and this is my asylum."

"Yes; but you said there were two hundred in here," said Mollie. "I saw
your sign."

[Illustration: The Unwiseman's "orphans."]

"Well there are," said the Unwiseman. "The piano hasn't any father or
mother, neither have the chairs, or the hundred and ninety-eight other
orphans in this house. It was all true."

"Well, anyhow," said Whistlebinkie, "you've got heaps of things. Every
stocking seems to have been filled."

"True," said the Unwiseman. "But almost entirely with old, cast-off
toys. I think it's pretty mean that boys and girls who are not orphans
should get all the new toys and that those who are orphans get the
broken ones."

Which strikes me as a very wise remark for an unwise man to make.

"Anyhow," continued the Unwiseman, "I'm ruined. I can't sell these toys,
and so I've got to go back to apples."

And here he fell to weeping so violently that Mollie and Whistlebinkie
stole softly out and went home; but on the way Mollie whispered to
Whistlebinkie:

"I'm rather sorry for him; but, after all, it was his own fault. He
really did try to deceive Santa Claus."

"Yes," said Whistlebinkie. "That's so. But he was right about the
meanness of giving only old toys to orphans."

"Yes, he was," said Mollie.

"Yesindeedy!" whistled Whistlebinkie through his hat, gleefully, for he
was very happy, as indeed I should be, if I were an old toy, to hear my
little master or mistress say it was mean to give me away.

"By the way," said Mollie. "He seems to have got over his anger with us.
I was afraid he wouldn't ever speak to us again after his call."

"So was I," said Whistlebinkie. "And I asked him if he wasn't mad at us
any more, and he said, yes he was, but he'd forgiven us for our
Christmas present."



[Illustration: VII. The Unwiseman's New Year's Resolutions.
In which the Unwiseman gives up some very distinguished words.

During]


the days immediately following Christmas Mollie was so absorbed in the
beautiful things the season of peace on earth and good will to men had
brought to her that she not only forgot the Unwiseman and his woe over
the failure of his business plans, but even her poor little friend
Whistlebinkie was allowed to lie undisturbed and unthought of. Several
times when she had come near his side Whistlebinkie had tried to whistle
something in her ear, but unsuccessfully. Either the something he
wanted to whistle wouldn't come, or else if it did Mollie failed to hear
it, and Whistlebinkie was very unhappy in consequence.

"That's always the way," he sobbed to Flaxilocks who shared his exile
with him and who sat on the toy shelf gazing jealously out of her great,
deep blue eyes at the magnificent new wax doll that Mollie had received
from her grandmother; "don't make any difference how fine a toy may be,
he may be made of the best of rubber, and have a whistle that isn't
equalled by any locomotive whistle in the world for sweetness, the time
comes when his master or mistress grows tired of him and lavishes all
her affection on another toy because the other toy happens to be new.
What on earth she can see in that real dog to admire I cannot discern.
He can't bark half so well as I can whistle, and I am in mortal terror
of him all the time, he eyes me so hungrily--but now he is her
favorite. Everywhere Mollie goes Gyp goes, and I'm real mad."

"Oh, never mind," said Flaxilocks; "she'll get tired of him in a week or
two and then she'll take us up again, just as if we were new. I've been
around other Christmases and I know how things work. It'll be all right
in a little while--that is, it will be for you. I don't know how it is
going to turn out with me. That new doll, while I can see many defects
in her, which you can't, I can't deny is a beauty, and her earrings are
much handsomer than mine. It may be that I must become second to her;
but you, you needn't play second fiddle to any one, for there isn't
another rubber doll with a whistle in his hat in the house to rival
you."

"Well, I wish I could be sure of that," said Whistlebinkie, mournfully,
"I can see very well how Mollie can love you as well as she loves
me--but that real dog, bah! He can't even whistle, and he's awfully
destructive. Only last night he chewed up the calico cat, and actually,
Mollie laughed. Do you suppose she would laugh if he chewed me up?"

"He couldn't chew you up," said Flaxilocks. "You are rubber."
Whistlebinkie was about to reply to this when his fears were set at rest
and Flaxilocks was comforted, for Mollie with her new dog and wax doll
came up to where they were sitting and introduced her new pets to the
old ones.

"I want you four to know each other," she said. "We'll have lots of fun
together this year," and then before they knew it Flaxilocks and the
new doll were fast friends, and as for Whistlebinkie and Gyp, they
became almost inseparable. Gyp barked and Whistlebinkie whistled, while
the dolls sat holding each other's hands, looking if anything quite as
happy as Mollie herself.

"What do you all say to making a call on the Unwiseman?" Mollie said,
after a few minutes. "We ought to go wish him a Happy New Year."

[Illustration: So they all started off together.]

"Simply elegant," whistled Whistlebinkie, and Gyp and the dolls said he
was right, and so they all started off together.

"Where does he live?" asked the new doll.

"All around," said Flaxilocks. "He has a house that moves about. One day
it is in one place and another in another."

"But how do you find it?" queried the new doll.

"You don't have to," whistled Whistlebinkie. "You just walk on until you
run against it,"--and just as he spoke, as if to prove his words, bang!
he ran right into the gate. "Here it is now," he added.

"He evidently doesn't want to see anybody," said Mollie, noticing a
basket hanging from the front door-knob. "He's put out a basket for
cards. Dear me! I wish he'd see us."

"Maybe he will," said Whistlebinkie. "I'll ring the bell. Hello!" he
added sharply, as he looked into the basket; "that's queer. It's
chock-up full of cards now--somebody must have called."

"It has a placard over it," said Flaxilocks.

"So it has," said Mollie, a broad smile brightening her face; "and it
says, 'Take one' on it. What _does_ he mean?"

"That looks like your card on top," said Flaxilocks.

"Why it _is_ my card," cried Mollie, "and here is Whistlebinkie's card
too. We haven't been here."

"Of course you haven't," said a voice from behind the door. "But you are
here now. I knew you were coming and I was afraid you'd forget to bring
your cards with you, so I took some of your old ones that you had left
here before and put 'em out there where you could get them. Ring the
bell, and I'll let you in."

Whistlebinkie rang the bell as instructed, and the door was immediately
opened, and there stood the Unwiseman waiting to welcome them.

"Why, dear me! What a delicious surprise," he said. "Walk right in. I
had no idea you were coming."

"We came to wish you a Happy New Year," said Mollie.

"That's very kind of you," said the Unwiseman, "very kind, indeed. I was
thinking of you this morning when I was making my good resolutions for
the New Year. I was wondering whether I ought to give you up with other
good things, and I finally decided not to. One must have some comfort."

"Then you have made some good resolutions, have you?" said Mollie.

"Millions of 'em," said the Unwiseman; "and I'm going to make millions
more. One of 'em is that I won't catch cold during the coming year.
That's one of the best resolutions a man of my age can make. Colds are
very bad things, and it costs so much to be rid of them. Why, I had one
last winter and I had to burn three cords of wood to get rid of it."

"Do you cure a cold with wood?" asked Flaxilocks.

"Why not?" returned the Unwiseman. "A roaring hot fire is the best cure
for cold I know. What do you do when you have a cold, sit on the
ice-box?"

"No, I take medicine," said Mollie. "Pills and things."

"I don't like pills," said the Unwiseman. "They don't burn well. I
bought some quinine pills to cure my cold three winters ago, and they
just sizzled a minute when I lit them and went out." This pleased Gyp so
much that he sprang upon the piano and wagged his tail on C sharp until
Mollie made him stop.

"Another resolution I made," continued the Unwiseman, "was to open that
piano. That's why it's open now. I've always kept it locked before, but
now it is going to be open all the time. That'll give the music a chance
to get out; and it's a good thing for pianos to get a little fresh air
once in a while. It's the stale airs in that piano--airs like Way Down
Upon the Suwanee River, and Annie McGinty, and tunes like that that have
made me dislike it."

"Queerest man I ever saw!" whispered the new doll to Flaxilocks.

"But I didn't stop there," said the Unwiseman. "I made up my mind that I
wouldn't grow any older this year. I'm going to stay seven hundred, just
as I am now, always. Seven hundred is old enough for anybody, and I'm
not going to be greedy about my years when I have enough. Let somebody
else have the years, say I."

"Very wise and very generous," said Mollie; "but I don't see just how
you are going to manage it."

"Me neither," whistled Whistlebinkie. "I do'see how you're going to do
that."

"Simple enough," said the Unwiseman. "I've stopped the clock."

Gyp turned his head to one side as the Unwiseman spoke and looked at him
earnestly for a few seconds, and then, as if overcome with mirth at the
idea, he rushed out of the door and chased his tail around the house
three times.

"What an extraordinary animal that is," said the Unwiseman. "He must be
very young."

"He is," said Mollie. "He is nothing but a puppy."

"Well, it seems to me he wastes a good deal of strength," said the
Unwiseman. "Why, if I should run around the house that way three times
I'd be so tired I'd have to hire a man to help me rest."

"Are you really seven hundred years old?" queried the new doll, who, I
think, would have followed Gyp's example and run around the house
herself if she had thought it was dignified and was not afraid of
spoiling her new three-button shoes.

"I don't know for sure," said the Unwiseman, "but I fancy I must be. I
know I'm over sixty because I was born seventy-three years ago. Seven
hundred is over sixty, and so for the sake of round figures I have
selected that age. It's rather a wonderful age, don't you think so?"

"It certainly is," said the new doll.

"But then you are a wonderful man," said Mollie.

[Illustration: The Unwiseman drops words out of his vocabulary.]

"True," said the Unwiseman, reflectively. "I am wonderful. Sometimes I
spend the whole night full of wonder that I should be so wonderful. I
know so much. Why, I can read French. I can't understand it, but I can
read it quite as well as I can English. I can't read English very well,
of course; but then I only went to school one day and that happened to
be a holiday; so I didn't learn how to do anything but take a day off.
But we are getting away from my resolutions. I want to tell you some
more of them. I have thought it all over, and I am determined that all
through the year I shall eat only three meals a day with five nibbles
between times. I'm going to give up water-melons, which I never eat,
and when I converse with anybody I have solemnly promised myself never
to make use of such words as assafoedita, peristyle, or cosmopolis.
That last resolution is a great sacrifice for me because I am very fond
of long words. They sound so learned; but I shall be firm.
Assafoedita, peristyle, and cosmopolis until next year dawns shall be
dead to me. I may take them on again next year; but if I do, I shall
drop Mulligatawney, Portuguese, and pollywog from my vocabulary. I may
even go so far as to drop vocabulary, although it is a word for which I
have a strong affection. I am so attached to vocabulary as a word that I
find myself murmuring it to myself in the dead of night."

"What does it mean?" asked the new doll.

"Vocabulary?" cried the Unwiseman. "Vocabulary? Don't you know what a
vocabulary is?"

"I know," said Whistlebinkie. "It's an animal with an hump on its back."

"Nonsense," said the Unwiseman. "A vocabulary is nothing of the sort.
It's a--a sort of little bureau talkers have to keep their words in.
It's a sort of word-cabinet. I haven't really got one, but that's
because I don't need one. I have so few words I can carry them in my
head, and if I can't, I jot them down on a piece of paper. It's a
splendid idea, that. It's helped me lots of times in conversation. I'm
as fond of the word microcosm as I am of vocabulary, too, but I never
can remember it, so I keep it on a piece of paper in my vest-pocket.
Whenever I want to use it, I know just where to find it."

"And what does microcosm mean?" asked Mollie.

"I don't know," said the Unwiseman; "but few people do; and if I use it,
not one person in a thousand would dare take me up, so I just sprinkle
it around to suit myself."

As the Unwiseman spoke, the postman came to the door with a letter.

"Ah!" said the Unwiseman, opening it and reading it. "I am sorry to say
that I must leave you now. I have an engagement with my hatter this
afternoon, and if I don't go now he will be much disappointed."

"Is that letter from him?" asked Mollie.

"Oh no," said the Unwiseman, putting on his coat. "It is from myself. I
thought about the engagement last night, and fearing that I might
forget it I wrote a short note to myself reminding me of it. This is the
note. Good-bye."

"Good-bye," said Mollie, and then, as the Unwiseman went off to meet his
hatter, she and the others deemed it best to go home.

"But why did he say he expected you to call and then seemed surprised to
see you?" asked the new doll.

"Oh--that's his way," said Mollie. "You'll get used to it in time."

But the new doll never did, for she was a proud wax-doll, and never
learned to love the Unwiseman as I do for his sweet simplicity and
never-ending good nature.



[Illustration: VIII. The Unwiseman Turns Poet.
In which the Unwiseman goes into literature.

The]


ground was white with snow when Mollie awakened from a night of pleasant
dreams. The sun shone brightly, and as the little girl looked out of her
bed-room window it seemed to her as if the world looked like a great
wedding-cake, and she was very much inclined to go out of doors and cut
a slice out of it and gobble it up, just as if it were a wedding-cake
and not a world.

Whistlebinkie agreed with her that that was the thing to do, but there
were music-lessons and a little reading to be done before Mollie could
hope to venture out, and as for Whistlebinkie, he was afraid to go out
alone for fear of getting his whistle clogged up with snow. Consequently
it was not until after luncheon that the two inseparable companions,
accompanied by Mollie's new dog, Gyp, managed to get out of doors.

"Isn't it fine!" cried Mollie, as the snow crunched musically under her
feet.

"Tsplendid!" whistled Whistlebinkie.

Gyp took a roll in the snow and gleefully barked to show that he too
thought it wasn't half bad.

"I wonder what the Unwiseman is doing this morning," said Mollie, after
they had romped about for some little while.

"I dare say he is throwing snow-balls at himself," said Whistlebinkie.
"That's about as absurd a thing as any one can do, and he can always be
counted upon to be doing things that haven't much sense to 'em."

"I've half a mind to go and see what he's doing," said Mollie.

"Let's," ejaculated Whistlebinkie, and Gyp indicated that he was ready
for the call by rushing pell-mell over the snow-encrusted lawn in the
direction of the spot where the Unwiseman's house had last stood.

"Gyp hasn't learned that the Unwiseman moves his house about every day,"
said Mollie.

"Dogs haven't much sense," observed Whistlebinkie, with a superior air.
"It takes them a long time to learn things, and they can't whistle."

"That they haven't," came a voice from behind Whistlebinkie. "That
little beast has destroyed eight lines of my poem with his horrid paws."

Mollie turned about quickly and there was the house of the Unwiseman,
and sitting on the door-step was no less a person than the old gentleman
himself, gazing ruefully at some rough, irregular lines which he had
traced in the snow with a stick, and which were punctuated here and
there by what were unmistakably the paw-marks of Gyp.

"Why--hullo!" said Mollie; "moved your house over here, have you?"

"Yes," replied the Unwiseman. "There is so much snow on the ground that
I was afraid it would prevent your coming to see me if I let the house
stay where it was, and I wanted to see you very much."

"It was very thoughtful of you," said Mollie.

"Yes; but I can't help that, you know," said the Unwiseman. "I've got to
be thoughtful in my new business. Thoughts and snow and a stick are
things I can't get along without, seeing that I haven't a slate or pen,
ink and paper, in the house."

"You've got a new business, then, have you?" said Mollie.

"Yes," the Unwiseman answered. "I had to have. When the Christmas toy
business failed I cast about to find some other that would pay for my
eclaires. My friend the hatter wanted me to go in with him, but when I
found out what he wanted me to do I gave it up."

"What did he want you to do?" asked Mollie.

"Why, there is a restaurant next door to his place where two or three
hundred men went to get their lunch every day," said the Unwiseman. "He
wanted me to go in there and carelessly knock their hats off the pegs
and step on them and spoil them, so that they'd have to call in at his
shop and buy new ones. My salary was to be fifteen a week."

"Fifteen dollars?" whistled Whistlebinkie in amazement, for to him
fifteen dollars was a princely sum.

"No," returned the Unwiseman. "Fifteen eclaires, and I was to do my own
fighting with the ones whose hats were spoiled. That wouldn't pay,
because before the end of the week I'd be in the hospital, and I am told
that people in hospitals are not allowed to eat eclaires."

"And so you declined to go into that business?" asked Mollie.

"Exactly," returned the Unwiseman. "I felt very badly on my way back
home, too. I had hoped that the hatter wanted to employ me as a
demonstrator."

"A what?" cried Whistlebinkie.

[Illustration: "A demonstrator."]

"A demonstrator," repeated the Unwiseman. "A demonstrator is one who
demonstrates--a sort of a show-man. In the hat business he would be a
man who should put on new styles of hats so as to show people how people
looked in them. I suggested that to the hatter, but he said no, it
wouldn't do. It would make customers hopeless. They couldn't hope to
look as well in his hats as I would, and so they wouldn't buy them; and
as he wasn't in the hat trade for pleasure, he didn't feel that he could
afford a demonstrator like me."

"And what did you do then?" asked Mollie.

"I was so upset that I got on board of a horse-car to ride home,
forgetting that the horse-cars all ran the other way and that I hadn't
five cents in my pocket. That came out all right though. I didn't have
to walk any further," said the Unwiseman. "The conductor was so mad when
he found out that I couldn't pay my fare that he turned the car around
and took me back to the hatter's again, where I'd got on. It was a great
joke, but he never saw it."

And the Unwiseman roared with laughter as he thought of the joke on the
conductor, and between you and me, I don't blame him.

"Well, I got home finally, and was just about to throw myself down with
my head out of the window to weep when I had an idea," continued the
Unwiseman.

"With your head out of the window?" echoed Mollie. "What on earth was
that for?"

[Illustration: "I always weep out of the window."]

"So that my tears wouldn't fall on the carpet, of course," returned the
Unwiseman. "What else? I always weep out of the window. There isn't any
use of my dampening the house up and getting rheumatism just because it
happens to be easier to weep indoors. When you're as old as I am, you
have to be careful how you expose yourself to dampness. Rheumatism might
be fun for you, because you can stay home from school, and be petted
while you have it, but for me it's a very serious matter. I had it so
bad once I couldn't lean my elbow on the dinner-table, and it spoiled
all the pleasure of dining."

"Well--go on and tell us what your idea was," said Mollie, with
difficulty repressing a smile. "Are you going to patent your scheme of
weeping through a window?"

"No, indeed," said the Unwiseman. "I'm willing to let the world have the
benefit of my discoveries, and, besides, patenting things costs money,
and you have to send in a model of your invention. I can't afford to
build a house and employ a man to cry through a window just to supply
the government with a model. My idea was this. As my tears fell to the
ground my ears and nose got very cold--almost froze, in fact. There was
the scheme in a nutshell. Tears rhyme with ears, nose with froze. Why
not write rhymes for the comic papers?"

"Oho!" said Mollie; "I see. You are going to be a poet."

"That's the idea," said the Unwiseman. "There's heaps of money in it. I
know a man who gets a dollar a yard for writing poetry. If I can write
ten yards of it a week I shall make eight dollars anyhow, and maybe ten.
All shop-keepers calculate to have remnants of their stock left over,
and I've allowed two yards out of every ten for remnants. The chief
trouble I have is in finding writing materials. I haven't any pen and
ink; I don't own any slates; the only paper I have in the house is the
wall paper and a newspaper, and I can't use them, because the wall paper
is covered with flowers and the newspaper is where I get my
ideas--besides, it's all the library I've got. I didn't know what to do
until this morning when I got up and found the ground all covered with
snow. Then it came to me all of a sudden, why not get a stick and write
your poems on the snow, and then maybe, if you have luck, you call sell
them before the thaw. I dressed hurriedly and hastened downstairs, moved
the house up near yours, so that I'd be near you and be sure to see you,
feeling confident that you could get your papa to come out and see the
poems and maybe buy them for his paper. Before long I had written thirty
yards of poetry, and just as I had finished what I thought was a fair
day's work, up comes that horrid Gyp and prances the whole thing into
nothing."

"Dear me!" said Whistlebinkie. "That was too bad."

"Wasn't it!" sighed the Unwiseman. "It was such a beautifully long
poem--and what's more, it isn't easy work. It's almost as hard as
shoveling snow, only, of course, you get better pay for it."

"You can rewrite it, can't you?" asked Mollie, gazing sadly at the havoc
Gyp had wrought in the Unwiseman's work.

"I am afraid not," said the Unwiseman. "My disappointment has driven it
quite out of my head. I can only remember the title."

"What did you call it?" asked Mollie.

[Illustration: "A Poem, by Me."]

"It was a simple little title," replied the Unwiseman. "It was called 'A
Poem, by Me.'"

"And what was it about?" asked Mollie.

"About six hundred verses," said the Unwiseman; "and not one of 'em has
escaped that dog. Those that he hasn't spoiled with his paws he has
wagged his tail on, and he chose the best one of the lot to lie on his
back and wiggle on. It's very discouraging."

"I'm very sorry," said Mollie; "and if you want me to I'll punish Gyp."

"What good would that do me?" queried the Unwiseman. "If chaining him up
would restore even half the poem, I'd say go ahead and chain him up; but
it won't. The poem's gone, and there's nothing left for me to do but go
in the house and stick my head out of the window and cry."

"Perhaps you can write another poem," said Mollie.

"That's true--I hadn't thought of that," said the Unwiseman. "But I
don't think I'd better to-day. I've lost more money by the destruction
of that first poem than I can afford. If I should have another ruined
to-day, I'd be bankrupt."

"Well, I'll tell you what I'll do," said Mollie. "I'll ask papa to let
me give you a lead-pencil and a pad to write your next poem on. How
will that do?"

"I should be very grateful," said the Unwiseman; "and if with these he
could give me a few dozen ideas and a rhyming dictionary it would be a
great help."

"I'll ask him," said Mollie. "I'll ask him right away, and I haven't any
doubt that he'll say yes, because he always gives me things I want if
they aren't harmful."

"Very well," said the Unwiseman. "And you may tell him for me, Miss
Whistlebinkie, that I'll show him how grateful I am to him and to you
for your kind assistance by letting him have the first thousand yards of
poetry I write for his paper at fifty cents a yard, which is just half
what I shall make other people pay for them."

And so Mollie and Whistlebinkie bade the Unwiseman good-by for the time
being, and went home. As Mollie had predicted, her father was very glad
to give her the pencil and the pad and a rhyming dictionary; but as he
had no ideas to spare at the moment he had to deny the little maid that
part of the request.

[Illustration: The Unwiseman becomes a poet.]

What the Unwiseman did with the pad and the pencil and the dictionary I
shall tell you in the next chapter.



[Illustration: IX. The Poems of the Unwiseman.
In which Mollie listens to some remarkable verses.

Few]


days after he had received the pencil and pad and rhyming dictionary
from Mollie, the Unwiseman wrote to his little benefactress and asked
her to visit him as soon as she could.

[Illustration: "I've written eight pounds of poetry!"]

"I've written eight pounds of poetry," he said in his letter, "and I'd
like to know what you think of some of it. I've given up the idea of
selling it by the yard because it uses up so much paper, and I'm going
to put it out at a dollar a pound. If you wouldn't mind, I'd like to
have you tell your papa about this and ask him if he hasn't any heavier
paper than the lot he sent me. If he could let me have a million sheets
of paper twice as heavy as the other I could write a pound of sonnits in
half the time, and could accordingly afford to give them to him a little
cheaper for use in his newspaper. I'd have been up to see you last
night, but somehow or other my house got moved out to Illinois, which
was too far away. It is back again in New York this morning, however, so
that you won't find any trouble in getting him to see the poetry, and,
by the way, while I think of it, I wish you'd ask your papa if Illinois
rhymes with boy or boys. I want to write a poem about Illinois, but I
don't know whether to begin it with

            "_'O, the boys,
            Of Illinois,
  They utterly upset my equipoise';_

            "_'O, thou boy,
            Of Illinois!
  My peace of mind thou dust destroy?'_

"You see, my dear, it is important to know at the start whether you are
writing about one boy or several boys; and that rhyming dictionary you
sent me doesn't say anything about such a contiguity. You might ask him,
too, what is the meaning of contiguity. It's a word I admire, and I want
to work it in somewhere where it will not only look well, but make a
certain amount of sense.

  "Yoors tooly,
  "ME."

It was hardly to be expected, after an invitation of this sort, that
Mollie should delay visiting the Unwiseman for an instant, so summoning
Whistlebinkie and Gyp, she and her two little friends started out, and
ere long they caught sight of the Unwiseman's house, standing on one
corner of the village square, and in front of it was a peculiar looking
booth, something like a banana-stand in its general outlines. This was
covered from top to bottom with placards, which filled Mollie with
uncontrollable mirth, when she saw what was printed on them. Here is
what some of them said:

  GO TO ME'S FOR POTERY.

This was the most prominent of the placards, and was nailed to the top
of the booth. On the right side of this was:

  LISENSED TO SELL SONNITS
  ON THE PREMISSES.

Off to the left, printed in red crayon, the curious old man had tacked
this:

  EPIKS WROTE WHILE
  YOU WEIGHT.

Besides these signs, on the counter of this little stand were arranged a
dozen or more piles of manuscript, and behind each of these piles were
short sticks holding up small cards marked "five cents an ounce," "ten
cents a pound," and back of all a larger card, which read:

  SPESHUL DISSCOUNTS TO ALL
  COSTUMERS ORDERING
  BY THE TUN.

"This looks like business," said Whistlebinkie.

"Yes," said Mollie, with a laugh. "Like the peanut business."

Gyp said nothing for a moment, but after sniffing it all over began to
growl at a placard at the base of the stand on which was drawn by the
Unwiseman's unmistakable hand the picture of two small dogs playing
together with a line to this effect:

  DOGGERELL A SPESHIALITY.

As Mollie and Whistlebinkie were reading these signs the door of the
Unwiseman's house was opened and the proprietor appeared. He smiled
pleasantly when he saw who his visitors were, although if Mollie had
been close enough to him to hear it she might have noticed that he gave
a little sigh.

"I didn't recognize you at first," he said; "I thought you might be
customers, and I delayed coming out so that you wouldn't think I was too
anxious to sell my wares. Of course, I am very anxious to sell 'em, but
it don't do to let the public know that. Let 'em understand that you are
willing to sell and they'll very likely buy; but if you come tumbling
out of your house pell-mell every time anybody stops to see what you've
got they'll think maybe you aren't well off, and they'll either beat you
down or not buy at all."

"Aren't you afraid of being robbed though?" Mollie asked.

[Illustration: "The newspapers would be full of it."]

"Oh, I wouldn't mind being robbed," replied the Unwiseman. "It would be
a good thing for me if somebody would steal a pound or two of my poems.
That would advertise my business. I can't afford to advertise my
business, but if I should be robbed it would be news, and, of course,
the newspapers would be full of it. Your father doesn't know of any
kind-hearted burglar who's temporarily out of work who'd be willing to
rob a poor man without charge does he?"

"No," said Mollie, "I don't think papa knows any burglars at all. We
have literary men, and editors, and men like that visiting the house
all the time, but so far we haven't had any burglars."

"Well, I suppose I'll have to trust to luck for 'em," sighed the
Unwiseman; "though it would be a great thing if an extra should come out
with great big black headlines, and newsboys yelling 'em out all over
the country, 'The Unwiseman's Potery Stand Visited by Burglars! Eight
Pounds of Triolets Missing! The Police on the Track of the
Plunderers!'"

"It would be a splendid advertisement," said Mollie. "But I'm afraid
you'll be a long time getting it. Have you any poems to show me?"

"Yes," said the Unwiseman, running his eye over his stock. "Yes, indeed,
I have. Here's one I like very much. Shall I read it to you?"

"Yes, if you will," said Mollie. "What is it about?"

"It's about three dozen to the pound, the way I weigh it," replied the
Unwiseman. "It's called 'My Wish, and Why I Wish It.'"

"That's an awfully long name, isn't it?" said Mollie.

[Illustration: The unwiseman reads his poem, "My wish and why I wished
it."]

"Yes, but it makes the poem a little heavier," replied the old man.
"I've made up a little for its length, too, by making the poem short.
It's only a quartrain. Here's how it goes:

  "_I wish the sun would shine at night,
    Instead of in the day, dear,
  For that would make the evenings bright,
    And day time would be shadier!_"

"Why, that isn't bad!" cried Mollie.

"No," returned the Unwiseman. "I didn't try to make it bad, though I
could have if I'd wanted to. But there's a great thing about the thought
in that poem, and if you'll only look into it you'll see how wonderful
it is. It can be used over and over again without anybody's ever
noticing that it's been used before. Here's another poem with just the
same idea running through it:

  "_I wish the oceans all were dry,
    And arid deserts were not land, dear,
  If we could walk on oceans--My!
    And sail on deserts, 'twould be handier._"

"How is that the same idea?" asked Mollie, a little puzzled to catch the
Unwiseman's point.

"Why, the whole notion is that you wish things were as they aren't,
that's all; and when you consider how many things there are in the world
that are as they are and aren't as they aren't, you get some notion as
to how many poems you can make out of that one idea. For instance,
children hate to go to bed at night, preferring to fall asleep on the
library rug. So you might have this:

  "_I wish that cribs were always rugs,
    'Twould fill me chock up with delight,
  For then, like birds and tumble-bugs,
    I'd like to go to bed at night._"

"Tumble-bugs don't like to go to bed at night," said Mollie. "They like
to buzz around and hit their heads against the wall."

"I know that; but I have two excuses for using tumble-bugs in that
rhyme. In the first place, I haven't written that rhyme yet, and so it
can't be criticized. It's only what the dictionary people would call
extemporious. I made it up on the spur of the moment, and from that
standpoint it's rather clever. The other excuse is that even if I had
written it as I spoke it, poets are allowed to say things they don't
exactly mean, as long as in general they bring out their idea clearly
enough to give the reader something to puzzle over."

"Well, I suppose you know what you mean," said Mollie, more mystified
than ever. "Have you got any more poems?"

[Illustration: "Could not restore Namby to where he was at."]

"Yes. Here's a new bit of Mother Goose I've dashed off:

  "_Namby Pamby sat on the fence,
  Namby Pamby tumbled from thence.
  Half the queen's donkeys, her dog, and her cat,
  Could not restore Namby to where he was at._"

"Why!" cried Mollie. "You can't write that. It's nothing but Humpty
Dumpty all over again."

"You're all wrong there," retorted the Unwiseman. "And I can prove it.
You say that I can't write that. Well, I _have_ written it, which
proves that I _can_. As for its being Humpty Dumpty all over again,
that's plain nonsense. Namby Pamby is not Humpty Dumpty. Namby Pamby
begins with an N and a P, while Humpty Dumpty begins with H and D. Then,
again, Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. My hero sat on a fence. Humpty
Dumpty fell. Namby Pamby tumbled--and so it goes all through the poem.
Mine is entirely different. Besides, it's a hysterical episode, and I've
got just as much right to make poems about hystery as Mother Goose had."

"Maybe you're right," said Mollie. "But if I were you, I wouldn't write
things that are too much like what other people have written."

"I don't see why," said the Unwiseman, impatiently. "If Peter Smith
writes a poem that everybody likes and buys, I want to write something
as much like what Peter Smith has made a fortune out of as Peter Smith
has. That's the point. But we won't quarrel about it. Girls don't know
much about business, and men do. I'm a man and you're only a girl."

"Well, I think Mollie's right," put in Whistlebinkie.

"You have to," retorted the Unwiseman. "If you didn't, she'd pack you up
in a box and send you out to the sheathen."

"The what?" asked Mollie.

[Illustration: "The Sheathen."]

"The sheathen. Little girl savages. I call 'em sheathen to extinguish
them from heathen, who are, as I understand it, little boy savages,"
explained the Unwiseman. "But what do you think of this for a poem. It's
called Night, and you mustn't laugh at it because it is serious:

  "_Oh night, dear night, in street and park,
  Where'er thou beest thou'rt always dark.
  Thou dustent change, O sweet brunette,
  No figgleness is thine, you bet.
  And what I love the best, on land or sea,
  Is absence of the vice of figglety._"

"What's figglety?" asked Mollie.

"Figglety?" echoed the Unwiseman. "Don't you know that? Figglety is
figgleness, or the art of being figgle."

"But I don't know what being figgle is," said Mollie.

"Hoh!" sneered the Unwiseman, angry at Mollie's failure to understand
and to admire his serious poem. "Where have you been brought up? Figgle
is changing. If you pretend to like pie to-day better than anything, and
change around to pudding to-morrow, you are figgle. Some people spell it
fickle, but somehow or other I like figgle better. It's a word of my
own, figgle is, while fickle is a word everybody uses--but I won't
argue with you any more," he added with an impatient gesture. "You've
found fault with almost everything I've done, and I'm not going to read
any more to you. It's discouraging enough to have people pass you by and
not buy your poems, without reading 'em to a little girl that finds
fault with 'em, backed up in her opinion by a pug dog and a rubber doll
like Whistlebinkie. Some time, when you are better natured, I'll read
more to you, but now I won't."

Saying which, the Unwiseman turned away and walked into his house,
banging the door behind him in a way which plainly showed that he was
offended.

Mollie and Whistlebinkie and Gyp went silently home, very unhappy about
the Unwiseman's temper, but, though they did not know it, they were very
fortunate to get away before the Unwiseman discovered that the
mischievous Gyp had chewed up three pounds of sonnets while their
author was reading his poem "Night," so that on the whole, I think, they
were to be congratulated that things turned out as they did.



[Illustration: X. The Unwiseman's Luncheon.
In which the Unwiseman makes some sensible remarks on eating.

"Whistlebinkie,"]


said Mollie, one morning in the early spring, "it's been an awful long
time since we saw the Unwiseman."

"Thasso," whistled Whistlebinkie. "I wonder what's become of him."

"I can't even guess," said Mollie. "I asked papa the other morning if he
had seen any of his poetry in print and he said he hadn't so far as he
knew, although he had read several books of poetry lately that sounded
as if he'd written them. I say we go out and try to find him."

"Thasoots me," said Whistlebinkie.

"What's that?" said Mollie. "You still talk through the top of your hat
so much that I really can't make out what you say half the time."

"I forgot," said Whistlebinkie, meekly. "What I meant to say was that
that suits me. I'd like very much to see him again and hear some of his
poetry."

"I don't much think he's stayed in that business," observed Mollie.
"He's had time enough to be in sixteen different kinds of businesses
since we saw him, and I'm pretty certain that he's tried eight of them
any how."

"I guess may be so," said Whistlebinkie. "He's a great tryer, that old
Unwiseman."

Mollie donned her new spring hat and Whistlebinkie treated his face and
hands to a dash of cold water, after which they started out.

"It's the same old question now," said Mollie, as she stood on the
street corner, wondering which way to turn. "Where would we better go to
find him?"

"Well, it seems to me," said Whistlebinkie, after a moment's thought,
"it seems to me that we'd better look for him in just the same place he
was in the last time we saw him."

"I don't see why," returned Mollie. "We never did that before."

"That's why," explained Whistlebinkie. "He's such an unaccountable old
man that he's sure to turn up where you least expected him. Now, as I
look at it, the place where we least expect to find him is where he was
before. Therefore I say let's go there."

"You're pretty wise after all, Whistlebinkie," said Mollie, with an
approving nod. "We'll go there."

And it turned out that Whistlebinkie was right.

The house of the Unwiseman was found standing in precisely the same
place in which they had last seen it, but pasted upon the front door was
a small placard which read, "Gawn to Lunch. Will be Back in Eight
Weeks."

[Illustration: "He must be fearfully hungry to go to a lunch it will
take that long to eat."]

"Dear me!" cried Whistlebinkie, as Mollie read the placard to him. "He
must have been fearfully hungry to go to a lunch it will take that long
to eat."

Mollie laughed. "I guess maybe I know him well enough to know what that
means," she said. "It means that he's inside the house and doesn't want
to be bothered by anybody. Let's go round to the back door and see if
that is open."

This was no sooner said than done, but the back door, like the first,
was closed. Like the front door, too, it bore a placard, but this one
read, "As I said before, I've gone to lunch. If you want to know when
I'll be back, don't bother about ringing the bell to ask me, for I shall
not answer. Go round to the front door and find out for yourself. Yours
tooly, the Unwiseman. P. S. I've given up the potery business, so if
you're a editor, I don't want to see you any how; but if your name's
Mollie, knock on the kitchen window and I'll let you in."

"I thought so," said Mollie. "He's inside."

Then the little girl tiptoed softly up to the kitchen window and peeped
in, and there the old gentleman sat nibbling on a chocolate eclaire and
looking as happy as could be.

Mollie tapped gently on the window, and the Unwiseman, hurriedly
concealing his half-eaten eclaire in the folds of his newspaper, looked
anxiously toward the window to see who it might be that had disturbed
him. When he saw who it was his face wreathed with smiles, and rushing
to the window he threw it wide open.

"Come right in," he cried. "I'm awfully glad to see you."

"I can't climb in this way," said Mollie. "Can't you open the door?"

"Can't possibly," said the Unwiseman. "Both doors are locked. I've lost
the keys. You can't open doors without keys, you know. That's why I lost
them. I'm safe from burglars now."

"But why don't you get new keys?" said Mollie.

"What's the use? I know where I lost the others, and when my eight
weeks' absence is up I can find them again. New keys would only cost
money, and I'm not so rich that I can spend money just for the fun of
it," said the Unwiseman.

"Then, I suppose, I can't come in at all," said Mollie.

"Oh, yes, you can," said the Unwiseman. "Have you an Alpine stock?"

"What's that?" said Mollie.

"Ho!" jeered the Unwiseman. "What's an Alpine stock! Ha, ha! Not to know
that; I thought little girls knew everything."

"Well, they do generally," said Mollie, resolved to stand up for her
kind. "But I'm not like all little girls. There are some things I don't
know."

"I guess there are," said the Unwiseman, with a superior air. "You don't
know what rancour means, or fixity, or garrulousness."

"No, I don't," Mollie admitted. "What do they mean?"

"I'm not in the school-teacher business, and so I shan't tell you," said
the Unwiseman, with a wave of his hand. "Besides, I really don't know
myself--though I'm not a little girl. But I'll tell you one thing. An
Alpine stock is a thing to climb Alps with, and a thing you can climb an
Alp with ought to help you climbing into a kitchen window, because
kitchen windows aren't so high as Alps, and they don't have snow on 'em
in spring like Alps do."

"Oh," said Mollie. "That's it--is it? Well, I haven't got one, and I
don't know where to get one, so I can't get in that way."

"Then there's only two things we can do," observed the Unwiseman.
"Either I must send for a carpenter and have him build a new door or
else I'll have to lend you a step-ladder. I guess, on the whole, the
step-ladder is cheaper. It's certainly not so noisy as a carpenter.
However, I'll let you choose. Which shall it be?"

"The step-ladder, I guess," said Mollie. "Have you got one?"

"No," returned the Unwiseman; "but I have a high-chair which is just as
good. I always keep a high-chair in case some one should bring a baby
here to dinner. I'd never ask any one to do that, but unexpected things
are always happening, and I like to be prepared. Here it is."

Saying which the Unwiseman produced a high-chair and lowered it to the
ground. Upon this Mollie and Whistlebinkie climbed up to the
window-ledge, and were shortly comfortably seated inside this strange
old man's residence.

"I see you've given up the poetry business," said Mollie, after a pause.

"Yes," said the Unwiseman. "I couldn't make it pay. Not that I couldn't
sell all I could write, but that I couldn't write all that I could
sell. You see, people don't like to be disappointed, and I had to
disappoint people all the time. I couldn't turn out all they wanted. Two
magazine editors sent in orders for their winter poetry. Ten tons apiece
they ordered, and I couldn't deliver more than two tons apiece to 'em.
That made them mad, and they took their trade elsewhere--and so it went.
I disappointed everybody, and finally I found myself writing poetry for
my own amusement, and as it wasn't as amusing as some other things, I
gave it up."

"But what ever induced you to put out that sign, saying that you
wouldn't be back for eight weeks?" asked Mollie.

"I didn't say that," said the Unwiseman. "I said I _would_ be back _in_
eight weeks. I shall be. What I wanted was to be able to eat my lunch
undisturbed. I've been eating it for five weeks now, and at the end of
three weeks I shall be through."

"It musterbin a big lunch," said Whistlebinkie.

"I don't know any such word as musterbin," said the Unwiseman, severely;
"but as for the big lunch, it was big. One whole eclaire."

"I could eat an eclaire in five seconds," said Mollie.

"No doubt of it," retorted the Unwiseman. "So could I; but I know too
much for that. I believe in getting all the enjoyment out of a thing
that I can; and what's the sense of gobbling all the pleasure out of an
eclaire in five seconds when you can spread it over eight weeks? That's
a queer thing about you wise people that I can't understand. When you
have something pleasant on hand you go scurrying through it as though
you were afraid somebody was going to take it away from you. You don't
make things last as you should ought to."

"Excuse me," interrupted Whistlebinkie, who had been criticized so
often about the way he spoke, that he was resolved to get even. "Is
'should ought to' a nice way to speak?"

[Illustration: "If you want to speak some other language, you can go
outside and speak it."]

"It's nice enough for me," retorted the Unwiseman. "And as this is my
house I have a right to choose the language I speak here. If you want to
speak some other language, you can go outside and speak it."

Poor Whistlebinkie squeaked out an apology and subsided.

[Illustration: "Pleasure ought to be spread."]

"Take bananas, for instance," said the Unwiseman, not deigning to notice
Whistlebinkie's apology. "I dare say if your mother gives you a banana,
you go off into a corner and gobble it right up. Now I find that a
nibble tastes just as good as a bite, and by nibbling you can get so
many more tastes out of that banana, as nibbles are smaller than bites,
and instead of a banana lasting a week, or two weeks or eight weeks,
it's all gone in ten seconds. You might do the same thing at the
circus and be as sensible as you are when you gobble your banana. If the
clown cracked his jokes and the trapezuarius trapozed, and the elephants
danced, and the bare-back riders rode their horses all at once, you'd
have just as much circus as you get the way you do it now, only it
wouldn't be so pleasant. Pleasure, after all, is like butter, and it
ought to be spread. You wouldn't think of eating a whole pat of butter
at one gulp, so why should you be greedy about your pleasure?"

"Thassounds very sensible," put in Whistlebinkie.

"It is sensible," said the Unwiseman, with a kindly smile; "and that is
why, having but one eclaire, I make it last me eight weeks. There isn't
any use of living like a prince for five minutes and then starving to
death for seven weeks, six days, twenty-three hours, and fifty-five
minutes."

Here the Unwiseman opened the drawer of his table and took out the
eclaire to show it to Mollie.

"It doesn't look very good," said Mollie.

"That's true," said the Unwiseman; "but that helps. It's awfully hard
work the first day to keep from nibbling it up too fast, but the second
day it's easier, and so it goes all along until you get to the fourth
week, and then you don't mind only taking a nibble. If it stayed good
all the while, I don't believe I could make it last as long as I want
to. So you see everything works for good under my system of luncheoning.
In the first place the pleasure of a thing lasts a long time; in the
second, you learn to resist temptation; in the third place, you avoid
greediness; and last of all, after a while you don't mind not being
greedy."

[Illustration: "The old gentleman put the eclaire away."]

With this the old gentleman put the eclaire away, locked the drawer, and
began to tell Mollie and Whistlebinkie all about the new business he was
going into.



[Illustration: XI. The Unwiseman's New Business.
In which the Old Gentleman and Mollie and Whistlebinkie start on their
travels.

"I]


have at last found something to do," he said, as he locked the eclaire
up in the drawer, "which will provide me in my old age with all the
eclaires I need, with possibly one or two left over for my friends."

"Thassnice," whistled Whistlebinkie.

"Yes," said the Unwiseman. "It's very nice, particularly if you are one
of my friends, and come in for your share of the left-over
eclaires--as, of course, you and Mollie will do. It all grew out of my
potery business, too. You see, I didn't find that people who wanted
potery ever bought it from a street-corner stand, but from regular
potery peddlers, who go around to the newspaper offices and magazines
with it, done up in a small hand-bag. So I gave up the stand and made a
small snatchel----"

"A small what?" demanded Mollie.

"A small snatchel," repeated the Unwiseman. "A snatchel is a bag with a
handle to it."

"Oh--I know. You mean a satchel," said Mollie.

"Maybe I do," observed the Unwiseman. "But I thought the word was
snatchel, because it was a thing you could snatch up hurriedly and run
to catch a train with. Anyhow, I made one and put some four or five
pounds of potery in it, and started out to sell it. The first place I
went to they said they liked my potery very much, but they couldn't use
it because it didn't advertise anything. They wanted sonnets about the
best kind of soap that ever was; or what they called a hook-and-eye
lyric; or perhaps a few quatrains about baking-powders, or tooth-wash,
or some kind of silver-polish. People don't read poems about mysteries
and little red school-houses, and patriotism any more, they said; but if
a real poet should write about a new kind of a clothes-wringer or a
patent pickle he'd make a fortune, because he'd get his work published
on fences and in railroad cars, which everybody sees, instead of in
magazines that nobody reads."

"I've seen lots of those kinds of poems," said Mollie.

"They're mighty good reading, too," said Whistlebinkie. "And is that
what you are going to do?"

[Illustration: "They'd pay for it when they published it."]

"Not I!" retorted the Unwiseman, scornfully. "No, indeed, I'm not.
Shakespeare never did such a thing, and I don't believe Milton did
either, and certainly I shall not try it. The next place I went to they
said they liked my potery well enough to print it, but I'd have to pay
for having it done, which was very hard, because I hadn't any money. The
next place they took a sonnet and said they'd pay for it when they
published it, and when I asked when that would be, they said in about
thirty-seven years."

"Mercy!" cried Mollie.

"That's what I said," said the Unwiseman, ruefully. "So again I went on
until I found an editor who was a lovely man. He read all my things
through, and when he'd finished he said he judged from the quality of my
potery I must be a splendid writer of prose."

Whistlebinkie laughed softly.

"Yes," said the Unwiseman, "that's what he said. 'Mr. Unwiseman,' said
he, 'after reading your poetry, it seems to me your _forte_ is prose.'
And I told him perhaps he was right, though I didn't know what he meant.
At any rate, he was very good to me, and asked me where I lived, and all
that. When I told him that I lived everywhere; how I just moved my house
around to suit myself, and lived one day here and another day in
Illinois, and another in Kamschatka, he grew interested at once."

"I should think he might," put in Mollie. "I didn't know you could move
as far as Kamschatka."

"Certainly I can," said the Unwiseman; "and in a way that is what I am
going to do. I have been engaged to travel in various parts of the world
just by moving my house around at will, and what I see and do under
such circumstances I am to write up for that editor's paper."

"Why it's perfectly splendid!" cried Mollie, clapping her hands together
with glee at the very idea. "I wish I could go with you."

"Me too!" whistled Whistlebinkie.

"Woof--woof!" barked Gyp, which the Unwiseman took to mean that Gyp
wished also to be included.

"All right," said the Unwiseman. "I've no objection."

"I don't know what they'd say at home," said Mollie, as she thought of
possible objections to the trip.

"Why they won't say anything," said the Unwiseman. "I'll only travel
afternoons. We'll be back every day by six o'clock, and I don't suppose
we'll start much before three. This house is a rapid traveller once she
gets started. Just wait a minute and I'll show you. Sit tight in your
chairs now. One--two--three--LET HER GO!"

[Illustration: "The house, whizzed rapidly through the air."]

The old gentleman touched a button in the wall. The house shook
violently for a second, apparently whizzed rapidly through the air, if
the whistling of the wind outside meant anything, and then suddenly,
with a thump and a bump, came to a standstill.

"Here we are," said the Unwiseman, opening the door. "Come outside."

The little party emerged, and Mollie was amazed to find herself standing
on the top of a wonderful hill gazing out over the waters of a
beautiful body of water of the most heavenly blue. At her feet a little
yellowish city nestled into the hillside, and across a strip of silvery
water was a huge and frowning fortress.

"This, Miss Whistlebinkie, is the city of Havana," said the Unwiseman to
the astonished little maid. "You have come all the way from home to Cuba
in five seconds--a distance of 1200 miles. So you see we can do all our
travelling in the afternoons, and without your being away from your home
any more than you naturally are during your play-time hours."

Mollie made no answer for a moment. She was too astonished to speak.
Whistlebinkie was the first to recover, and he was not long in
expressing his sentiments.

"Imagoin'," he whistled.

Gyp barked a similar resolution, whereupon Mollie said she'd see.

"But let us hurry back home again," she added, somewhat anxiously. She
did not quite like being so far away from home without her mother
knowing it.

"Certainly," said the Unwiseman, touching the button again. The violent
shaking and whizzing sounds were repeated, and again, with a thump and a
bump, the house came to a standstill. The Unwiseman opened the front
door, and there they were, safe and sound, in the back yard of Mollie's
home.

That night the little girl told the story of the day's adventure to her
father, and he said that, under the circumstances, he had not the
slightest objection to her making the grand tour of the world.

"Only," he said, "you must remember, dear, to be home to supper. Even if
you find yourself at the coronation of a king, remember that it is your
duty to be punctual at your meals. London, Paris, Pekin, or Kalamazoo
are always ready to be seen, night or day, no matter what the time, but
breakfast, dinner, and supper do not go on forever, and are served only
at stated hours."

And so Mollie and Gyp and Whistlebinkie joined in the adventures of the
Unwiseman Abroad, and, in point of fact, they started off that very
afternoon, though what they saw I do not know, for I have not
encountered them since. I only know that their journey was safely
accomplished, and that they all got home that night without harm, for
Mollie's papa told me so. He also told me, in confidence, that I might
hope soon to hear some remarkable tales on the subject of their
adventures; and if I do, I shall not fail to let you in turn hear what
happened to "MOLLIE AND THE UNWISEMAN ABROAD."

[Illustration]





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