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Title: Bizarre
Author: Mackall, Lawton
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Bizarre" ***

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BIZARRE



BY THE SAME AUTHOR

SCRAMBLED EGGS

[Illustration: _His symphony depicted the sorrows of Russia, the height
of the steppes, and the agonies of indigestion._]



BIZARRE

By

LAWTON MACKALL

With 26 Drawings
By LAUREN STOUT

[Illustration]

NEW YORK

LIEBER & LEWIS

1922



Copyright 1922
By LIEBER & LEWIS


PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA



_To my favorite poet_

VIRGINIA WOODS MACKALL



_The author thanks_ LIFE, JUDGE, THE CENTURY, THE QUILL, THE NEW YORK
TIMES, THE LITERARY REVIEW, _and_ THE NEW YORK TRIBUNE _for kind
permission to include in this volume certain contributions to those
publications. He hopes he has remembered to ask such permission in each
case._



PREFACE


As good form requires that an author mention in his preface the persons
to whom he is chiefly indebted, I take this opportunity of stating that
during the preparation of this book I became appreciably indebted to Dr.
Warren S. Holder, my dentist, Mr. William Vroom, my tailor, Mr. M.
Tesshow, my stationer and tobacconist, and Messrs. Acker, Merrall &
Condit, my grocers.

Although these gentlemen neither "corrected the proofs" of my book nor
"saw it through the press," nor allowed me access to rare documents and
family letters, nor treated me to intimate accounts of their fathers and
great uncles as they knew them; though they did none of these customary
things, nevertheless I became decidedly their debtor--and still am.

Indeed, without their stimulus this book might never have been written.

L. M.



_ENCLOSED PLEASE FIND_

WHAT-NOTS


  Unsolicited Personal Adornments

  Shelf Culture

  Portable Pigeonholes

  Simile

  The Beatified Race

  Jouez Balle

  The Art of Packing

  Agriculture Indoors

  Snowy Bosoms

  Interior Desperation

  The Writing on the Screen

  Musique Glacée

  The Care of the Husband

  Terminology of Tardiness

  Oppressors of the Meek

  Putting Pedagogy Across

  Coaching From the Sidelines

  Fast and Loose

  Primrose Pathology

  Fightier Than the Sword

  Enlightment

  Holiday Misgivings

  All, All Are Gone

  My Museum

  On Chairs--and off


MINIMS

  The Night of the Fleece

  Black Jitney

  Light Breakfast

  The Man Opposite

  Lucy the Literary Agent

  The Creeping Fingers

  The Man With the Hose


JANGLES

  Those Symphony Concert Programs

  How to Know the Instruments

  Notes on Pianos

  The Life Drama of a Musical Critic

  The Survival of the Fattest



WHAT-NOTS



UNSOLICITED PERSONAL ADORNMENTS


[Illustration: Decorative letter "H"]

Have you ever, on returning home from a round of calls, discovered upon your
coat a large, obtrusive spot?

Stricken with horror, you wonder how long it has been there. Did you
have this adjunct when you appeared before your wealthy aunt? That
severe female has never quite approved of you, and now this will finish
you as far as she is concerned. Did you exhibit yourself thus disgraced
at the Brumleighs'? You recollect that the maid eyed you queerly when
she opened the door, and that Mrs. B. had frequent recourse to her
lorgnettes. Then, too, both the Greens and the Worthingtons seemed a
little stiffer than usual.

How did you acquire it, anyhow? It looks and feels like ice cream of a
very rich quality; ice cream that has drippled merrily in leaps and
bounds. But you had no ice cream today. Neither did you talk to anyone
who was having ice cream.

Perhaps you have been struck by ice cream, just as people are struck by
lightning. The weather does such peculiar things nowadays.

I have a gray suit that is a constant prey to spots. Its frail color--a
sickly, betwixt-and-between shade, chosen in haste and repented of at
leisure--puts it utterly at their mercy. And they flock to it.

Things sticky and glutinous pounce avidly upon it; nor is its seat
reserved from paints and varnishes. Sauces afflict it. Oils take
advantage of its helplessness. Grass bedizens it with garish green.

I try my best to protect it--but what can I do? What am I against so
many? While I am rescuing my left elbow from the machinations of a
passing dish, I unwittingly suffer my right cuff to be enticed by the
gravy in my plate. As I walk discreetly in the middle of the sidewalk,
an automobile out in the street salutes me with a volley of mud.

And the most notable spots happen mysteriously. They appear out of the
air, as it were, like the pictures that frost makes on window panes. I
submit the phenomenon of their strange origin to the scientific world as
an instance of spontaneous generation.

This spotability of my gray suit is surpassed only by the achievements
of my blue serge. (I shall not here discuss my English tweeds, nor my
Scotch cheviots, nor the braided cutaway and the lounge suit that I had
made for me in Bond Street, for fear the reader might divine that I
never possessed those garments.) This suit is not a victim to spots--it
deliberately invites them. It is a connoisseur, a discriminating
collector.

Scorning such vulgarities as paint and pitch, it seeks the exotic, the
outré--amazing stickinesses, bewildering viscosities, undreamed of
goos.

Although delighting in intricacy of design and delicate nuances of
shading, it prefers durability to all other qualities. Some of its
antiques--particularly a brownish white one, resembling an octopus, over
the front pocket--have stood the test of time and clothes brushes.

On three occasions this remarkable collection has been almost entirely
destroyed by benzine, but each time the principal specimens have
survived intact. These cleanings divide the history of the suit into
four epochs.

Spots of the fourth (or present) epoch are of small consequence; spots
of the third and second epochs are more interesting; while spots which
antedate the first great deluge are quite rare. Among these last are the
octopus and other gems of the collection.

Once, when I had become exceedingly irked at having to go about clad in
pseudo-tapestry, I handed the suit over to a desperado of a ladies' and
gents' tailor--a man who had the reputation of being capable of getting
anything out of anything or anybody--and besought him to raze the
frescoes.

He attacked them after the manner customary to cleaners; that is to
say, he drove out the spots with smells. Only, he used smells that were
nothing short of brutal. The rout was complete.

When he brought the suit to my room on Saturday night, I could hardly
believe my eyes. Being forced, however, to believe my nose, I hastily
opened the window. I could understand why the spots had departed. I even
felt sorry for them.

Not daring to put the suit away, for fear of contaminating the rest of
my apparel, I hung it over the back of a chair by the window.

But the incoming breeze, instead of carrying the aroma away, wafted it
directly toward me. It was certainly strong. It fairly assaulted the
nostrils. One good whiff of that vicious chemical was almost enough to
make you dizzy.

It treated me as if I were a spot.

I picked up a book and tried to read, but could not concentrate my
attention.

The spot-destroyer was continually interrupting. My head was spinning so
that I could hardly see.

I realized that the life of a spot was not a happy one.

Thinking that smoking might help, I was about to light a cigarette when
I remembered reading in the papers of people who struck matches in
fume-filled rooms and then were blown blocks and blocks without knowing
what hit them. So I gave that up, and sat a while dejected.

Then another scary thought came into my mind. What if I should be
asphyxiated? I pictured myself being found dead in bed, having been
extinct for hours and hours, and the mournfulness of it broke me all up.

Overcome with emotion and spot-destroyer, I gathered a few things into a
suitcase and went out to spend the night at a hotel.

When I returned to my room on the following evening the aroma had gone,
and the rays of the setting sun, illuminating the old blue suit as it
hung there on the back of the chair, showed me a host of familiar
faces--particularly that of an especially offensive brownish-white
octopus over the pocket. They had come back every one; not a design was
missing.



SHELF CULTURE


[Illustration: Decorative letter "A"]

"A man of education and refinement like you needs books befitting your
culture--your place in the world," said my visitor. He spoke as though
he were a revered friend of the family. But actually he was not just
that. I had never seen him before. He was honoring me with a call at my
room on Freshman Row.

I had come to college to get in touch with Belles-Lettres, and, lo,
Belles-Lettres were seeking me out! Recognition had come far sooner than
I had hoped.

To appreciate what I felt, you must know that Belles-Lettres'
ambassador was no ordinary person. He had the clothes of a clubman, the
benignity of a clergyman, and the dignity of an undertaker. There was
scholarliness in the droop of the pinch glasses on his aquiline nose and
as he talked he kept lifting his curiously arched eyebrows in a manner
that fascinated the beholder.

From the subject of my culture in its broader aspects he progressed by
easy gradations to my culture in its relation to the works of Hawthorne
and Irving, the two authors indispensable to a man of discerning taste,
the authors whose writings constituted the logical nucleus of the
well-bred student's library. He was happy to be able to tell me of the
rare opportunity that now lay in my grasp of acquiring the immortal and
exhilarating works of _both_ these masters at one and the same time--in
one and the same set.

The urgency of my need for Hawthorne and Irving being thus established
beyond the shadow of a hesitance, the only thing for me to decide fairly
and squarely was whether they should come to me in blue half-morocco or
in red buckram. The splendid showing that either set would make in my
bookcase was attested by the accordion-plaited binding sample which at
the proper moment he produced and unfolded. Nearly a yard of titled
book-backs!

I signed on the dotted line and accepted his congratulations, while he
accepted my two dollar deposit.

About a week later the box arrived. Eagerly I lifted forth the magic
volumes which were to put me on a new intellectual plane. Somehow the
bindings seemed to need breaking in. They creaked and cracked at the
hinges and the pages clung together in little groups clannishly. The
gluing of the backs was queer, yet casual. The "hand" that had tinted
the "elegant colored frontispieces" was evidently a heavy one.

No matter: Hawthorne and Irving were mine. I had been taken into the
higher circles of culture.

That very evening I plunged into "Mosses from an Old Manse." I stuck at
it. Each day I balanced my morning's Shredded Wheat with Hawthorne
Mosses at night, till the entire volume had been systematically
consumed. Then, having created my new literary universe, I rested.

Today no one can stump me on Mosses. Mention the Old Manse to me and my
whole manner changes. My face lights up with intelligence. My eyes
sparkle. My nostrils dilate like those of an old fire engine horse at
the clang of an alarm gong. Yes, right this minute I can give you moss
for moss.

If only I had gone on and read all the other volumes of the set.... Who
knows? I might now be dean of a college or a second Dr. Frank Crane.
Alas, I continued to rest on my Mosses, arguing sophistically with my
conscience that these books, the nucleus of my ultimate library, were
precious possessions not necessarily for immediate perusal. Time-defying
classics like Hawthorne and Irving would keep and be equally enjoyable
years hence, if not more so; in fact, it would be almost extravagant to
use them all up in the beginning. So it was tacitly decided that we
three--Nathaniel, Washington, and I (the first two in red buckram, the
latter in invisible yet palpable Freshman green)--should grow old
together.

The fourth member of our little group, he who had introduced us, had
dropped out. I neither saw nor heard from him again. It would seem that
he worked like lightning, striking in the same place only once. Not so
his firm, however. They struck me by mail each month with awful
iteration.

But before a year had passed there descended upon me another emissary of
intellectualism. This personage expounded to me the doctrine of the De
Luxe. I learned that an edition of any author, no matter how reputable
that author may be, was mere dross if published for the public at large.
Only as a subscriber, possessing a numbered set of a limited edition,
could one obtain the quintessence of literature. _Fiat de lux._ Let
there be e-lite.

The fact that this prophet of almost-vellum exclusiveness was physically
a fat and florid Irishman whom a wiser man than I might have mistaken
for a saloon keeper in his Sunday clothes, did not hamper his spirit.
Enthrallingly yet confidentially he discoursed on Selected Literature
for the Serene Few. I could be one of those Serene Few.

I could. I did. I signed.

In his display room, to which this rotund spider lured me, I examined,
enraptured, sets of all the leading _de luxe_ writers. There was Pepys
with pasted labels, Smollett and Fielding with special illustrations,
twelve volumes of the World's Best Oratory, a bobtailed set of
Stevenson, the inevitable Plutarch in fool morocco that was very like
shellacked paper, and many more. But the _magnum opus_ of them all was a
green buckram affair in thirty tall tomes calling itself "The
Bibliophile Library of Literature, Art and Rare Manuscripts." To
emphasize the word Art in the title there was, as an adjunct, a
three-foot portfolio of reproductions from paintings. Here was something
that cast Hawthorne and Irving into the shade. It was world-wide,
wonderful. (Later I came to know it as the "Hash"!)

As in a trance, I said yes to the "Bibliophile Library," to the Great
Orations, to the much-shorter R. L. S. Later I took on a few more.

My finances grew groggy. Indeed, Europe's difficulties over paying her
war indebtedness are as naught in comparison. Then at last the miracle
happened: the book concern mislaid their record of my indiscretions--and
all scowls ceased.

For three years. Then rediscovery. Collectors, collectors,
collectors--not the sort that A. Edward Newton writes about. They came
faster than I could insult them. Litigation. Cash compromise. Formal
return of books.

Such is the story of "My Life With Great Authors; or, The Horrors of
Dunning Street."

But I shall not allow it to "take its place among the successful
biographies and intimate journals of the season." Distinctly not. It is
for the _élite_ alone. It is to be published on sugar-cured oilskin, the
edition to be limited to two numbered copies--one for me and one for the
ashcan.



[Illustration]



PORTABLE PIGEONHOLES


Aside from a few unimportant physical distinctions, the chief difference
between man and woman is that his pockets are in his clothes, whereas
her solitary one dangles fitfully from her hand. Man is girded about
with these little repositories for the safekeeping of his belongings;
while woman, less interested in conservation than in cosmetics, holds
her booty ever accessible, so as to be able at any moment to dispose of
$3.98 or powder her nose. The ding of her husband's cash register and
the click of her dangle bag mark the systole and diastole of married
life.

Man delights in multiplicity of pockets. He must have clusters of them,
layers of them, pockets within pockets. Otherwise his search for
anything he has hidden on his person would be uninterestingly simple.
Fancy, for example, the monotony of traveling, if, at the call "All
tickets, please!" there were but a single pocket to excavate. And how
difficult it would be, when riding on a street car, for one to put up an
appearance of searching madly for his purse while he allowed his
companion to pay the fare.

The instinct for stowing away things in pockets, manifested in childhood
by a proneness for smuggling home from parties such contraband as
strawberry tarts and layer-cake with soft icing, continues throughout
life. But as one grows older the reason for these caches is less and
less obvious. The delectable but adhesive loot in the boy's pocket is
soon separated (as much as possible) from the lining, and devoured in
rapture; but the dry accumulations of the middle-aged man, such as
useless ticket stubs, old newspaper clippings, business cards thrust
upon him by salesmen or accepted absentmindedly when handed to him on
the street, unposted letters which he promised three days ago to drop
into the first mail box--all these lie buried and forgotten until
resurrected on suit-pressing day. He secretes them with the infatuation
of a dog interring bones. Only, unlike the sagacious hound, instead of
getting rid of them by this process, he merely turns them into
encumbrances.

A pocket that has long suffered from congestion will sometimes take
matters into its own hands and empty itself. Without bothering to give
any warning of its intention, it acquires a hole in one corner and then
quietly disposes of its contents. In this way small but useful change
departs, in company with your latch-key, via your trouser leg. And your
unfortunate fountain pen, let down suddenly as though by the springing
of a trapdoor, falls clear to the bottom of the inside of your waist
coat, where it lies prostrate, gasping out its last spurt of ink.

There is a treacherous kind of pocket, inhabiting a vertical slit in the
side of an overcoat, that simulates openness when it is actually closed;
so that the unwary owner, imagining himself to be putting a thing into a
safe nook, is really poking it through a hole and dropping it upon the
ground.

The average tailor has an unpleasant sense of humor. He allows you
fifteen pockets, and then proceeds to fit your suit so closely that not
a single one of them can be used. Unless you take the precaution of
stuffing each pocket with cotton batting when he tries the suit on you,
he will systematically take in all seams and buttons, in such a way that
a post-card inserted in the breast-pocket would be sufficient wadding to
throw the entire coat out of shape. (Perhaps he goes on the assumption
that when you have paid his bill you won't have anything left to put
there.) Every pocket is a latent distortion--put something into it and
you have a swelling, a tumor. Utilize your hip pocket as an oasis and
you have a bustle.

These cares and tribulations are, as we stated at the beginning of this
treatise, the lot of man alone. For woman, while accepting the
responsibility of the vote, has thus far avoided the responsibility of
the pocket--preferring to let her husband be a walking warehouse for
two. It is her method of maintaining him in subjection. If she, too,
were bepocketed, she could not keep him on the jump picking up things
she has dropped and trotting back for things she has left behind. Nor,
if she were not in the habit of making him dutifully store her gloves,
fan, handkerchief, etc., on his person, could she put him in the wrong
by taking him to task for forgetting to return them.

No, woman is too wise. She talks very blandly about equality, but so far
the only representative of her sex to wear a real pocket is the female
kangaroo.



SIMILE


Mortimer was as bold as orange-and-pink hosiery, and Simile was as
elusive as a cake of castile soap. When, at the appointed hour, he
repaired to her house, as punctual as a bill collector, she tried, like
a street-car conductor, to put him off.

But his mind, like the face of a cutie, was made up. Becoming as
eloquent as a man in a telephone booth which you are waiting to use, he
said: "Simile, I love you!"

Her lips quivered like a ford, but the look in her eyes was as far away
as Brooklyn.

"Ah, marry me" he pleaded, his voice sounding as hollow as a campaign
pledge, "--or I shall be as wretched as porous custard."

He edged nearer to her, till he was almost as close as the air in the
subway. He gazed anxiously at her face, the way a person in a taxicab
gazes at the face of the meter. Her skin was smooth as a confidence man
and clear as boarding-house soup. He put his arm about her slender
waist, which was slim as a librarian's salary.

Yielding suddenly, like a treacherous garter, she murmured, in a voice
as soft as stale crackers, while tears rushed to her eyes like shoppers
to a bargain counter, "I am yours". And she clung to him like barbed
wire.

A thrill of joy went through Mortimer like a highwayman. "Ah!" he cried.
"Then I am as happy as a coincidence!"



THE BEATIFIED RACE


It is wrong to assert that our fiction magazines have lost their power
to inspire, to uplift. High romance and whole-hearted cheerfulness have
not deserted them. These qualities have merely migrated to the
advertising pages. The morbid, unpleasant fiction is only a short
interlude between the innocent joys of Nabiscos and fireless cookers,
and the wholesomeness of Mellin's Food. After sin and adulteration comes
99-44/100 per cent pure.

The people in the advertisements help us to forget those in the stories.
These pictured endorsers display a generosity that I have not met with
elsewhere. They offer me, a total stranger to them, the most delicious
refreshments, costly gifts in silverware, whole suites of furniture;
they make me aware of "long-felt" wants; they volunteer to teach me
Spanish or osteopathy or plumbing in ten lessons; they propose to send
me immediately a portable house in many pieces, or a new lease of life
in many doses. They take a most personal interest in me, enquiring
sympathetically, "Are you bilious?"

Here, I confess, I sometimes feel embarrassed. When my old family doctor
asks me, in the privacy of his office, questions of this sort, I am
prepared to answer them; but when, as I am turning over the pages of a
magazine at a public news-stand, someone bobs out from behind a
respectful soap advertisement and accosts me brusquely with, "How is
your liver?" or "Are you bowlegged?"--I feel positively uncomfortable.

This forwardness, due to the bad influence of the fiction characters,
is, I regret to say, a trait of some of the women. (How sad it is that
editors should wilfully allow them to be contaminated! I have seen a
little Campbell Soup girl of quite a tender age, placed on the same page
with a heroine whose only topic of conversation was _unmoral love_.)
Luxuriant creatures, as unabashed as they are beautiful, invite my
approval of their stays, and make disclosures of the most sensational
kind. All of this may be in accordance with the modern ideas of
frankness, may be part of the sex-education campaign--but somehow I
can't get used to it. I am still old-fashioned enough to believe that
woman's place is in the home, especially when she is undressing.

However, while the behavior of these people toward me is occasionally a
bit disconcerting, their deportment toward each other is uniformly
admirable. In their own sphere they lead model lives.

Their family devotion, for example, is a treat to behold. Just see Mama
and Papa and Susie and Marian and little Jack, all seated around the
dining-table! From their happy smiles it is easy to tell that they love
each other and Jell-O. After dinner, dear kind Papa will not bury
himself in the evening paper, as selfish, inconsiderate papas do--he
will give Mama and the good, rosy-cheeked children each a stick of
Spearmint. Then all the family will gather 'round the fire in peaceful
attitudes and listen to the phonograph, which protects the atmosphere of
their home; and Susie will sit on the arm of Papa's chair and fondly
compare their Holeproofs.

Later, when Susie's bright young man, dressed in a nobby Kuppenheimer
suit, comes to win her heart with a box of Huyler's, Mama whom Papa
still adores because her complexion is youthified with Pompeiian, will
take Marian and little Jack upstairs and show her maternal tenderness by
teaching them how to make Colgate's Dental Cream lie flat on a
Pro-phy-lac-tic. They learn gladly, for they love Mama and wear garters
and union suits just like hers.

Even more remarkable than the family devotion of these people is their
supreme capability. They never do anything without brilliant success.
Papa can, whenever he feels the inclination, build a launch, or become a
magnetic speaker, or earn eighty dollars a week in his spare time, or
evolve a thriving chicken farm from two eggs. When he goes fishing, you
see him in the act of reeling in a six-pound trout; when he goes duck
hunting, you see him casually bringing down a bird with each barrel; and
when he plays billiards, you see him, in a backhand position and a
Donchester shirt, executing a shot that would make the reputation of
even a professional.

Look at him now, seated at his desk in his office, directing a great
business, without the least worry or effort. See the respect on his
employes' faces! At this very moment he is concluding a deal that
involves millions. And yet how calm he is! All because he wears B. V.
D.'s.

In short, the race of endorsers, produced by the eugenics of
advertising, is not subject to the ills that ordinary flesh is heir to.
They are the heroes of the present age, deified, like Greek Orion, in
the realms of "space"--long-legged, serene, divinely handsome. We, poor
mortals, humbly try to imitate them, and lay our wealth at their
shrines, as did the Ancients at the altars of their gods. Our Ceres is
Aunt Jemima; our Mercury is Phoebe Snow; our Adonis is the Arrow Collar
youth; our Venus is the Physical Culture lady; and our Romulus and Remus
are the Gold Dust Twins.



JOUEZ BALLE!

[Illustration: _Le plus grand tournoyeur sud-patte._]

New and better ideas of child education are steadily making their way.
Nearly every one now acknowledges that the school room should be
primarily a place of entertainment, that the true vocation of the
teacher is to amuse in an instructive manner, and that study is really a
scientific form of play. Also, it is quite generally admitted that
methods which involve mental effort on the part of the child are not to
be tolerated.

So much progress has already been made. But now there has just appeared
a book which bids fair to carry the educational advance as far ahead
again. This book, entitled "A Baseball Primer of French," substitutes
for the conventional pedantry of conjugations, syntax, etc., a vivid
account in French of an imaginary world's series. Any boy who studies it
will understand it instinctively; for if the foreign text prove obscure,
he has only to read the English translation underneath.

The author, Speed Stevens--who, it may be remembered, was captain of
his college nine,--shows a profound knowledge of baseball. Indeed, it is
on account of his ability as athletic coach that he holds his position
of instructor in French at Croton.

The following extract gives an inkling of the rare pedagogical value of
the book:

  Dans le dixième point, avec deux hommes

      In the tenth period, with two men

  sur bases et un sorti, Harburg éventa. Alors

      on bases and one out, Harburg fanned. Then

  Bill le Rosseur ramassa sa chauve-souris et

      Bill the Walloper picked up his bat and

  marcha à grands pas à l'assiette. Hank

      strode to the plate. Hank

  Harrigan, vrai à ses lauriers de plus grand

      Harrigan, true to his laurels as the greatest

  vivant tournoyeur sud-patte, partit avec un

      living southpaw twirler, started off with a

  tirer-dedans qui faisait zip-zip, entaillant une

      zipping in-shoot, scoring a

  frappe. Le suivant fut un bal. Dugan, au

      strike. The next a ball. Dugan, on

  premier, descendit avec son bras et vola la

      first went down with his arm and stole

  deuxième base, mais Brown fut mis en dehors

      second base, but Brown was put out

  au troisième. Alors la cruche mis en dessus

      at third. Then the pitcher put over

  un bal saliveux: frappe deux. Puis, vinrent

      a spit-ball: strike two. Then came

  encore deux bals. Le comte était maintenant

      two more balls. The count was now

  trois à deux, et les éventails s'asseyaient sans haleine.

      three to two, and the fans sat breathless.

  Bill assomma une longue mouche qui tomba

      Bill knocked out a long fly which fell

  volaille. Il suiva celle-ci avec une volaille

      foul. He followed this with a pop

  poppeuse, qui l'aurait fini n'eut été un

      fly, that would have finished him,

  manchon stupide de la part de l'attrappeur.

      but for a stupid muff by the catcher.

  Harrigan devenait grincé, et Cathaway,

      Harrigan was becoming rattled, and Cathaway,

  voiturant de la ligne de côté, lui criait, "Bras

      coaching from the side-line, yelled at him, "Glass

  de verre! Il monte! Il monte!" La

      arm! He's going up! He's going up!" The

  cruche envoya une goutte facile; Bill débarqua

      pitcher sent an easy drop; Bill landed

  là-dessus carrément, le menant par-dessus la

      on it squarely, driving it over the

  tête de l'arrête-court, loin dans le champ

      short-stop's head, far into left

  gauche. C'était un oiseau d'une frappe. Dugan

      field. It was a bird of a hit. Dugan

  entailla, et puis Bill, gaiement circlant les

      scored, and then Bill, gaily circling the

  sacs, glissa sauf chez soi, pendant que les

      bags, slid safe home, as the

  blanchisseurs allaient sauvages.

      bleachers went wild.



THE ART OF PACKING


_With a Disquisition on the Science of Rooting for What You Have Packed_

[Illustration: Decorative letter "A"]

A traveler is a person who escorts baggage. He may think he is taking a
trip for business or pleasure, but, whether he be journeying from
Brooklyn to Hoboken with one trunk, or touring Europe with a bevy of
handbags, his real occupation consists in chaperoning impedimenta.

There is something almost touching about the way in which he looks after
his little flock--seeing that they are properly tagged, counting them
anxiously to be sure that none are missing, defending them from the
cruelty of expressmen, pleading for them at the feet of customs
inspectors. He has care for the humblest satchel. If it be lost he will
set down three full suitcases and seek after it until he finds it.

Not that he is actually _fond_ of his luggage. But he has packed it and
brought it with him, and therefore he is under obligation to it; is
responsible for its well-being.

He knows in his heart that many of the clothes he has brought will never
be worn, and that most of the books he has stowed away--dry looking
volumes which he long ago decided he ought to read but which somehow he
has never got 'round to--will not be opened. Nevertheless, he has these
things with him, and it is his duty to cherish them and see them safely
back home again.

As he unpacks his belongings at the first stop, he wonders what his
state of mind could have been when he packed them. Why had he deemed his
shaving brush _de trop_? And why, oh why, had he abandoned his faithful
slippers? Had he imagined that two left-hand rubbers constituted a
pair? Five hats and caps are all very nice, but why did he put in only
four handkerchiefs? And even an array of fifty-seven neckties affords
poor consolation for the total absence of socks. As for the
bathing-suit, the morning tub would be the only place where he could use
that, and even there it would hardly seem appropriate.

Anybody with the price of a ticket can travel from one city to another,
but it takes a real genius to pack a trunk. The art must be practiced in
its purity; there must be no mixing of the pancake (or roll-'em-up)
style with the flapjack (or spread-'em-out-flat) style. Such eclecticism
is pernicious.

Considered from another point of view, packing is a fascinating game.
You put all sorts of objects in a trunk, the baggage man churns them
thoroughly, and then you take them out again and try to guess what they
are. You meet with a hundred different surprises. For instance, you
never would have dreamed that a derby hat could turn inside out, or that
a single suit could acquire ninety-three separate and distinct creases,
or that a book could swallow a mirror and have indigestion from it, or
that a bottle of ink inside seven wrappings could break and assert
itself over a pile of shirts and a month's supply of collars.

But the great paradox of packing is that a trunk is always full when you
close it and always three-quarters empty when you open it. The trunk
that nothing but violent stamping will shut is the very trunk that, a
few hours later, bounces your possessions about like beans in a rattle;
so that when you lift the lid again you find them huddled forlornly in a
corner, exhausted and battered from their shuttle-istics.

Another peculiarity is that nothing that you want is where you think it
is. The garment that you clearly remember putting in the right-hand
front corner of the top tray is sure to turn up at last in the opposite
part of the bottom. Indeed, sooner will the Sphinx give up her secret
than the trunk give up the thing you are looking for. To dig up _de
profundis_ a shoehorn that you need is a more remarkable achievement
than to unearth a new Pompeii.

Rooting is a science. Suppose, for instance, you wish to locate a pair
of scissors without disturbing the general order. You begin by
classifying the scissors in your mind, in order that you may calculate
their position in the trunk. You consider them with reference to the
following scheme of arrangement, which you recite as if you were an
elevator boy in a department store:

    1. _Main Tray._ Shirts, collars, hats, handkerchiefs, _and_ toilet
    articles.

    2. _Mezzanine Tray._ Dress clothes, neckwear, art goods, _and_
    bric-a-brac.

    3. _Basement._ Shoes, hardware, suits, underwear, books, medicines,
    _and_ sporting goods.

Concluding, after due deliberation, that the scissors are equally
appropriate to all of these, you start in on the main tray, sliding your
palms around the edge as though you were easing ice-cream out of a mold.

  No scissors.

You delve deeper, using the back of your hand as a plow-share.

  No scissors.

Refusing to be baffled, you leave no garment unturned.

  No scissors.

Growing a trifle impatient, you take out the main tray and tackle the
mezzanine. This will be a simple matter, because it is so shallow that
you have only to feel around the edges.

  No scissors.

Perhaps they got shaken into the middle. You burrow there, making
considerable work for the clothes-presser.

  No scissors.

Now you are genuinely angry. You toss the mezzanine upon the arms of a
chair. It is a rocking-chair, and it slides the tray gently forward and
deposits it face downward on the floor.

Pretending to ignore this, you plunge both arms into the basement so
violently that the lid unclicks and gives you a cowardly blow on the
back of the head.

You rise up and vow that this your chattel shall flout you no longer.
Seizing it fiercely, you turn it upside down--you dump its contents
about the room.

  No scissors!

Then there steals into your mind a vision of the above-mentioned cutlery
lying on a chiffonier in a room hundreds of miles away--and the
realization that they are probably lying there still.



AGRICULTURE INDOORS

[Illustration]

The usual package of seeds has not arrived. Is the Hon. ----, my
Representative in Congress, neglecting me? The uncertainty appals.

Year after year this eminent legislator has favored me with floral
tributes in kernel form, so that I have come to think of them as my
inalienable rights as a constituent. True, as is the case with the
thousands of other voters in this urban district which he represents, I
have no facilities for horticulture. Living in a New York apartment
seven stories up and unequipped with arable soil (the nondescript
substance which deposits on my window sills from outshaken mops above
would scarcely qualify as loam), I have been at a loss as to what
disposition to make of said seeds.

"My dear friend," writes the benevolent legislator, "I am inclosing a
list issued by the Department of Agriculture showing bulletins available
for free distribution, which contain very valuable information for all
classes of readers." And he invites me to choose any six, by number,
that he may promptly send them to me.

Only six! To select that limited allotment from so alluring a galaxy is
difficult, not to say bewildering.

No. 73 catches my eye--"Fly Traps and Their Operation." I simply must
have that one. It seems to promise an insight into the mysteries of
oratory. Perhaps it may enable me the better to appreciate my M. C.

Nor can I hope to live a rounded life if I fail to assimilate No. 940,
"Common White Grubs," and No. 920, "Milk Goats," and No. 788, "The
Windbreak as a Farm Asset."

That makes four already; to which I must certainly add the kindly No.
1105, "Care of Mature Fowls," and the arrestingly realistic No. 1085,
"Hog Lice and Hog Mange."

Thus my six choices are used up, and I am but at the threshold of this
new world of knowledge that lies tantalizingly before me. What of No.
685, celebrating that splendidly uncompromising American growth, "The
Native Persimmon," and the intriguingly cryptic Nos. 515 and 1143,
revealing the secrets of "Vetches" and "Lespedeza as a Forage Crop"?
Surely this coveted information should not be withheld from me.

Why should I be deprived of the privilege of reading aloud to my family
No. 762, "False Cinch Bug--Measures for Control," and No. 1127, "Peanut
Growing for Profit," and No. 948, "The Rag-Doll Seed Tester"? If such
romances were available for every one there would be less senseless
gadding about on the part of our young folks. Let the flapper fill her
mind, not her flask, with No. 767, "Goose Raising," or No. 757,
"Commercial Varieties of Alfalfa." And let her heed the warning against
short skirts in No. 1135, "The Beef Calf."

It has been said that there is in America insufficient appreciation of
architecture. Ah, true, my friends. Let the multitude con No. 438, "Hog
Houses," and, as examples of chaste suppression of meaningless
ornamentation, Nos. 966 and 682--"A Simple Hog-Breeding Crate" and
"Simple Trap Nest for Poultry."

Included in this invaluable list are to be found not only the frankly
practical but also the vividly dramatic. Offsetting such everyday but
significant matters as No. 1189, "The Handling of Spinach for Shipment";
No. 1153, "Cowpea Utilization"; No. 1161, "Dodder," and No. 978,
"Barnyard Manure in Eastern Pennsylvania," there are offered imagination
stirring themes like No. 835, "How to Detect Outbreaks of Insects"; No.
874, "Swine Management," and No. 1003 (one that should be especially
prized by the impecunious), "How to Control Billbugs."

Until I read this list I had no idea that spiritualism had entomological
phases which Conan Doyle seems to have overlooked. Again and again there
is mention of strange creatures and their psychic "controls": No. 1074,
"The Bean Ladybird and Its Control"; No. 1060, "Harlequin Cabbage Bug
and Its Control"; No. 897, "Fleas and Their Control," and No. 975
(presumably throwing light upon the immigration problem), "The Control
of European Foulbrood."

More comprehensible to me are the following. Anent home life and pets:
No. 1014, "Wintering Bees in Cellars"; No. 1104, "Book Lice," and No.
846, "Tobacco Beetle and How to Prevent Loss." (Does one keep the beetle
on a leash, I wonder?) Bolshevism: No. 1054, "The Loco Weed." Chambers
of Commerce, Get-Together Clubs, etc.: No. 993, "Cooperative Bull
Associations." Prohibitionists: No. 1220, "Insect and Fungus Enemies of
the Grape."

All in all, there are at least thirty bulletins which every citizen of
this metropolis needs to make him an intelligent voter. And my M. C.
allows me but six!

"My allotment being limited," he explains. But why should his allotment
be thus limited? Since he grants that the bulletins are indispensable to
my enlightenment, it is not for him to apologize, but to see that I am
fully supplied with them. To protest that the Department of Agriculture
cramps his largess is no excuse, for does not almighty Congress rule the
Department of Agriculture and run it in the interests of the People and
not for the sake of a lot of rubes? No; let him spur the department to
greater efforts, press the presses to greater output.

When my little son looks up into my eyes and asks, "Daddy, tell me about
the flat-headed apple tree borer," am I to answer him:

"Sorry, my boy, but Bulletin No. 1065 was denied me by a niggardly
government?"

My M. C. will not have done his complete duty till every home in this
city boasts a five-foot shelf of bulletins and the head of every family
can gather his dear ones about the radiator in the evening with a
cheery:

"Ah! now we take up No. 956, 'The Spotted Garden Slug.' Every one who
pays strict attention gets a hollyhock seed."

Only then will the true function of government be realized.

       *       *       *       *       *

Meanwhile....

The seeds have come!



SNOWY BOSOMS


At the risk of seeming churlish, a veritable outcast from society, I
confess that I have no great fondness for snowy bosoms. I realize that
they are generally considered beautiful, and that their virgin whiteness
is the embodiment of unyielding purity; and yet I cannot but prefer the
more comfortable _negligée_ shirt.

If only they could be soft-boiled. I would so appreciate a three-minute
one. (I know it would sit better on the stomach.) The white could be
firm enough to hold together, and yet not so much so as to require a
knife to break into it.

Gala chemises that approached this ideal did appear several seasons ago.
Their frontispieces were encrusted with a swarm of very young tucks,
which rendered them quite docile. But these gentle, easy-going garments,
with their pliant pleats and amenable button holes, could not survive.
They were, alas, too soft. They lacked the stoicism of starch. They
could not hold their own against the sterner-fibred armored breastworks.

And so we men of today when we go to perform our evening devotions to
the ladies have upon us the same old white plague.

I might find some consolation in the fact that my aversion to it is
shared by all laundries. Yes, the laundry is my avenger. With
Machiavellian guile it invites shirts, seeks them, welcomes them,
professes a yearning passion for them; and then subtly destroys them in
secret. Commit an insufferable new stud-smasher to a laundry and note
the fate that overtakes it. See what happens to its bold front. A week
later it will be brought back to you with its spirit quite broken, and
its tail between its sleeves, and held in subjection by a squad of
menacing pins.

The moment you rend the veil of wax paper with which they have
discreetly concealed its destitution, you are amazed to find how it has
aged in one short week. It has become like the sear and yellow leaf.
There are crow's feet at the corners of its buttonholes. It is so weak
that they have had to send it on a paste-board stretcher to keep it
from going all to pieces.

Your erstwhile festive buckler now looks more like the bosom of
Abraham.



INTERIOR DESPERATION


It is easy nowadays to get advice on how to arrange your home. The
Woman's Page in any newspaper will tell you just how your living-room
ought to look, just how your hallway may be beautified, and just how
your kitchen may be transformed into a scientific laboratory. Scores of
books by experts on the subject undertake to instruct you how to change
your home from a place to live in to a work of art.

Realizing that my abode needed a little toning-up along modern æsthetic
lines, I consulted a book called "The Dwelling Beautiful," which I had
been informed would give me just the help I needed. "It is not necessary
that your furniture, rugs, hangings, and pictures be _expensive_," says
the author, reassuringly. "The only essential is that they be beautiful
in themselves and in restful accord with each other."

Pray, gentle writer, did you ever see my belongings? Did you ever see
the marble-and-walnut parlor table that Aunt Jessamine gave me; or the
streakily-stained Mission piano, with mottled glass panels and gew-gawy
candle-brackets, that my wife won in the guessing contest and is
therefore inordinately proud of; or the case of stuffed birds which
Uncle Lemuel left me in his will? How am I to make these things
"beautiful in themselves and in restful accord with each other?"

The truth is, none of our furnishings are gregarious. From the green rug
whose acrid hue assaults every other color in the room, to the
wonderfully and fearfully made "ornamental" lamp, each thing is what the
advertisement writers would call "_different_." Rabid in their
nonconformity, how am I to make a happy family of them?

The main feud is between our heirlooms and our wedding presents--the
former being atrocities in oak, walnut and plush of the Victorian era,
and the latter, present-day garishnesses; so that the general effect
might be likened to a colon: one period on top of another.

The author of "The Dwelling Beautiful" would probably suggest that I
get rid of some of these incumbrances. The lamentable fact is that I
_can't_. My relatives would disown me. For my whole family
connection--not to mention my wife's (about which much might be
said)--takes upon itself to police my belongings. Every visit of a
relative, even the casual call of my most distant cousin, means a
critical inspection, a careful stock-taking of heirlooms and wedding
presents.

A person who gives you anything as a wedding present never forgets it.
His taste may be erratic, but his memory is inexorable. Because a thing
happened to catch his fancy in an off-moment, it is anchored in your
home forever. And the feeling of self-appreciation for his generosity,
which he experiences whenever he beholds his gift in after years,
prevents him from admitting, even to himself, that he was out of his
mind when he bought it. Hence, you are doomed to be its perpetual
curator, with the obligation to display it prominently, so that whenever
he chooses to enter your house he may see it and claim it with his eye.

An heirloom is still worse. Each one that you have in your possession
might have gone to somebody else, and that somebody else feels that he
or she would have appreciated it more than you do. Nevertheless, for you
to disburden yourself of a single heirloom by presenting it to the
person who coveted it most, would be to precipitate a family crisis.

Take, for instance, that case of stuffed birds. Every time Uncle
Lemuel's daughter sees it she tells me how much it always meant to her,
and how the old house seems empty without it. Yet whenever I offer to
make her a present of it she bursts into tears, and sobs that her dear
father wanted me to have it, because I had once told him I liked birds,
and that therefore she would be the last person in the world to deprive
me of it.

So, along with all the rest of the harmony-killers, I am saddled for
life with this ornithological incubus. It is true, as Cousin Ophelia
says, that I like birds; but my fondness for them does not continue
after they are defunct and stuffed; neither does it include _owls_,
whether alive or dead, and there are no less than three owls in that
cabinet--gloomy, dusty, evil-looking fowls, their big yellow glass eyes
wide open and staring. I'll wager they had their eyes closed when Uncle
Lemuel shot them. He never was much of a sport.

Be that as it may, these lugubrious specimens are on my hands. I kept
them in the living-room till I couldn't stand them there any longer.
(Strangers would ask me how I happened to take up taxidermy.) Then I
removed them to the dining-room, where they promptly took away my
appetite. Transferred subsequently to the nursery, they caused Mamma's
Pet to go into convulsions of terror. I offered the cook an increase in
wages if she would take the cursed things into _her_ room; she
threatened to leave. I made a pathetic appeal to my wife to take them
into hers; she reminded me coolly that Uncle Lemuel was _my_ uncle. Now
they are in _my_ room, in the corner where I used to keep my favorite
chair.

But something tells me that they may not endure there forever. I am a
mild-dispositioned man, long-suffering, and tractable; but that cabinet
of birds is too much.

Some day you may see clouds of smoke pouring out of my windows and
fire-engines pulling up at my door. If you do, don't feel sorry for me
or censure me. A burning need will be satisfied. It will be a case of
sponsored combustion.



THE WRITING ON THE SCREEN


Being interested in human nature in all its manifestations, I have
lately made a study of handwriting as it is shown in the moving
pictures. I undertook this research because I had been given to
understand that chirography, when scientifically analyzed, revealed
every nuance of human character; and because the personages in
moving-pictures, being intensely dramatic, could not fail to have
striking individualities as penmen.

Let me give some of the interesting examples which I found. Here, for
instance, is a confidential communication from a great financier to one
of his associates:

    Dear Buggenheim,

    Buy 30,000 shares of B V D immediately We must foil Stockfeller if
    it takes our last million

    J P Mormon

Observe in what a firm, steady hand this is written. It shows that the
great financier can be cool even in a crisis. No wonder he is
successful. He always looks ahead; he never crosses a T until he comes
to it. Clear-visioned he is; his I's have their specks on straight. Such
a man will go far without being missed.

The next specimen is a letter written by the dashing young hero to the
heroine. It reads:

    Dear Bosnia

    I love you madly. Your father despises me because I am poor but
    honest. Elope with me at midnight in my racing machine.

    Beverly

Stanch and dependable. His passion is intense, yet he is too loyal to
betray it. Note the uncompromising uprightness of his L's. You just
can't help trusting him, because, as he says, he hasn't any money.

Here is a letter penned by a wayward wife. Fraught with tense emotion,
it is indeed a moving human document. She writes:

     Dear Bertram:

    I am leaving you tonight for ever. Try to understand--and forgive
    me. My hand trembles so that I can scarcely write. I hope you will
    be happy. Goodbye!

    Arnica.

What a wealth of sorrow this handwriting displays! Poor, unfortunate
woman, tearful and yet volatile! Her M's are bowed with grief, and yet
they have an arch look. Out of touching deference to her first love she
makes a desperate effort to be neat; she is not willing that her
husband's last memento of her should be a sloppy one. Even when about to
commit a sin, she still retains that refinement of nature which he has
always reverenced, that indescribable feminine delicacy which was wont
to reveal itself in such little acts as shrinking visibly at the touch
of unclean overshoes.

There are innumerable other examples which might be cited, handwritings
of every conceivable kind; but the endless variety of them would merely
tend to bewilder. Therefore I shall give only two more and without
extended comment; for, indeed, their characteristics jut out quite
protuberantly.

The little six-year-old child raises her face wistfully from her piece
of angel food and scrawls:

    Dear Daddy:

    Mama and me wish you would come home.

    Melba.

Truly a revelation of the artistic nature. In contrast to this, let us
examine what Jimmie the Dope, escaped convict, scribbles to his
confederate:

    Steve:

    Be there wit yer tools at one o'clock tonight ready to do the job.
    But look out fer that Italian named Isaac McTavish, he's a
    "stool-pigeon"

    Jimmie.

This particular specimen has a tragic interest for us. It demonstrates
the failure of our modern institutions. Here is a man forced by society
into a felon's trade who was capable of earning an honest living as an
instructor in penmanship.



MUSIQUE GLACÉE


[Illustration]

Of all strivers after the Ideal none have so kindly a method as the
architects responsible for those pleasing structures termed French
pastry. Whatever they create is delicate, delectable, imbued with
sweetness. Putting aside the thought of future fame, these gentle
artificers devote their labor to works as perishable as they are
exquisite: meringues, sculptured in ambrosial stucco, that melt to
nothing; roseate cakelets of which the crimson splendor endures no
longer than a sunset; kisses that are all too brief; tarts which, frail
as flowers, succumb quickly to hunger in the dessert. These crust
craftsmen pour forth richness as song-birds do, creating rapture for but
a precious moment. If ordinary architecture is "frozen music," then
surely this Gallic refinement of it is "_musique glacée_."

There are many styles, ranging from Perpendicular Gothic to Powdered
Rococo--so many, in fact, that one could scarcely hope to masticate them
all at a single sitting. (Two or three is the most I have ever been able
to account for.) Yet each style, if found in its purity, merits
attention as an embodiment of good taste. For even the humblest cream
puff, despite the looseness of its design and the unpretentiousness of
its exterior, has an interior well worth investigating.

Perhaps the most important landmark in all the realm of pastry is the
tradition-hallowed and chocolate-roofed éclair, whose long nave affords
sanctuary for whipped cream or custard. (Not necessarily
_chocolate_-roofed, however: the eaves may be tinged instead with a soft
patina of _café au lait_.) This mellow-hued pile, eminently edible, is
cherished by multitudes of devotees.

Another structure beautiful in ruin is the massive patty that serves as
donjon-keep for oysters. Upon its crumbling ramparts parsley has found
root, and encircling its fissured base is a broad moat of gravy. Gaunt,
sugarless; no oyster can hope to escape.

An equally notable tower is the stately white charlotte russe. Its
impenetrable wall of cardboard, re-enforced inside with a doughty
thickness of cake, rises sheer from the glacis of the plate and
terminates in crenelated battlements over the edge of which hang masses
of cream, ready for the invader. Upon the topmost pinnacle is posted a
sentinel cherry.

Of contrastingly mild aspect are the various crisp terraces--those
luxuriant Hanging Gardens, where fruits of every sort are spread out in
gorgeous profusion: rows of gold-gleaming apricots; neat hedges of
orange plugs; happy pears and orderly better-halves of peaches; a bed of
sugar-fed strawberries, each tucked in snugly; grapes chaliced in fluted
pie crust; jocund apple chips and banana checkers, cuddled cosily slice
against slice. Truly a paradise in pastry!

And there are a host of other fair shapes: the pantheon-like Kossuth
cake, beneath the low dome of which is a votive offering of cream; the
amazing custard skyscraper, with its innumerable floors, no walls, and
gaily iced roof; the Byzantine _baba au rhum_, inlaid with tutti-frutti
mosaics and steeped in subtle enchantment; and countless others--fanes,
kiosks, minarets, pavilions, reliquaries of jam--baffling description or
digestion.

Frail, ephemeral, created with no thought of permanence; and yet we
should hardly enjoy them more if they were built of everlasting marble.
The craftsmen who design them, scorning personal glory, do not sign
their works. For theirs is the true æsthetic spirit, so rare in this
commercial age. Their handiwork faithfully bears out the precept "Tart
for Tart's Sake."



THE CARE OF THE HUSBAND


The average young wife is regrettably inexperienced in the matter of
husbands. Unless it has been her fortune to have a wise mother or a
divorce, she is likely to be quite ignorant of how to care for and train
the "big stranger" who comes into her life. Therefore these precepts of
friendly counsel may not seem to the matrimonial novice altogether
amiss. The advice I would give is simple (in the fullest sense of the
word); so that after the young wife has had a few husbands, she can
dispense with it, if not sooner.

_Feeding._--This is the most important problem a wife has to face. The
husband must be made to feel that he is well fed. Otherwise he will not
be contented and docile.

During the first week after marriage, when he is still quite infantile
and tender to the point of mushiness, he may be fed from the hand or
spoon. This method will be found especially satisfactory in cases where
the husband shows symptoms of sickly sentimentality.

Throughout the entire first month he will be so demanding of care, so
bewildered by the strange new world in which he finds himself, as to be
barely able to maintain sanity; in short, he will be so soso that she
will have to prepare all the food herself, or at least make him think
she does.

But later a change of diet will be found necessary. He will demand
scientifically prepared foods. If the change is managed in the right
way, it can be accomplished with only slight upset to his disposition.
Simply alter the feeding formula so that the total quantity is lessened
and the proportion of sugar and burnt materials is increased. It will
soon take effect. In a day or two he will say, with a worried look,
"Darling, I'm afraid the cooking is too much for you." And you know what
he really means. After that the transition to avowedly professional
cooking will be quite painless.

_Outings and Play._--During the first few months the husband will not
need many outings. He will be happy and contented if allowed to romp
about the house. Such toys as hammers, picture wire, curtain rods,
etc., will keep him occupied.

Later, however, there will come a period of restlessness. Then you must
take him out more and more, and let him run and play with other
husbands--after you have made sure, of course, that they are good,
well-behaved husbands. The companionship of these innocent sports will
tend to make him one himself.

When, as time goes by, he reaches the stage where he begins to take
notice, the wife must be very careful, for he is highly impressionable.
At this time a wife will do well to look out for her husband herself,
instead of entrusting him to some empty-headed girl, whom she may not
really know at all. If he needs amusement let her divert him with
brightly-colored silks and baubles which she wears and he pays for. Let
her take him to see the pretty theater, and show him the beautiful
mountains and the big blue ocean, and tell him fairy stories about
economy, and teach him to draw nice big cheques in his little cheque
book.

Discipline cannot begin too early. The husband must be taught that he
can only have the things that his wife decides are best for him, and
that no protesting on his part will do any good. If he proves fretful,
chide him by threatening to go live with your mother. If, after that, he
is still unruly, threaten to have your mother come live with you.

In this way he will soon learn to mind. Indeed, before long you will be
able to show him off before company with the assurance that he will
behave just as you have trained him to; and you will have the
satisfaction of hearing your friends declare he does you credit.

_Awakening his mind._--This is one of the chief duties and
responsibilities of wifehood. It cannot be shirked. For while no husband
is expected to know anything at marriage (the fact that he got married
attests that), he is expected a year or so later to look intelligent
when the lady next to him at dinner discusses Coué and Scriabine, and to
know that Gauguin is not something to be got from a bootlegger. For him
not to know these things would be a reflection on his home training, or,
in other words, his wife. She will be considered negligent unless she
has instilled into his rudimentary mind a smattering of whatever is
accounted smart. For every wife is judged by the way she brings up her
husband.

    Note.--If in the above treatise I have borrowed from the learned
    doctors who have written concerning the Care of the Baby, I am
    sorry; for I see no prospect of ever being able to pay them back.
    Even this small note of mine will be discounted.



TERMINOLOGY OF TARDINESS


Our late demented newspapers are in a plight. They are no longer
afflicted with a shortage of paper, but they are still cramped by a
dearth of names for their afternoon editions. All the stand-by titles
have been exhausted. By midday the "Home Edition," "Night Edition," and
"Special Extra" have come and gone, and there is still the whole
afternoon with nothing left to tempt the tired business man but various
grades of "Finals." New nomenclature is needed, names that will stir the
imagination and summon the cents.

Desirous of doing what I can toward alleviating this distressing
situation, I venture to suggest the following schedule:

    8 A. M.--Late Edition--_One star_

    9 A. M.--Extremely Late Edition--_Two stars_

    10 A. M.--Inexcusably Late Edition--_Three stars_

    11 A. M.--Hopelessly Late Edition--_One constellation_

    12 M.--Midnight Edition--_Two constellations_

    1 P. M.--Tomorrow Morning Edition--_Group of planets_

    2 P. M.--Tomorrow Afternoon Edition--_Complete solar system_

    3 P. M.--Day-After-Tomorrow Edition--_Comet_

    4 P. M.--Next-Week Edition--_Large comet_

    5 P. M.--Next-Month Edition--_Unusually large comet_

    6 P. M.--Next-Year Edition--_Complete zodiac_

    7 P. M.--Special Doomsday Extra--_Milky way and nebulae_



OPPRESSORS OF THE MEEK

I am not afraid of bloated bondholders. I suspect that they are just
humans like myself, only that they have money.

But I am afraid of their servants. _They_ are not human. No one ever saw
them eat or sleep or smile.

My millionaire host may overlook the fact that I am using the salad-fork
for the fish; not so his English butler. This austere personage takes
note of my error in silence, and, when the salad course arrives, steals
up behind me like Nemesis, and lays by my plate the fork that correct
form demands. I feel chastened.

[Illustration: _My host may overlook the fact that I am using the salad
fork for fish; not so his English butler._]

His eye is always upon me. I can't even take a sip of water without his
calling attention to it by stealthily refilling my glass.

If he didn't watch me so closely when I am helping myself, I wouldn't be
so nervous. As it is, my hand trembles under his grueling stare. Just at
the critical moment when my tongful of asparagus, conveyed like a hot
coal, is poised in mid-air between the serving-dish and my plate, I
flinch, and there is a green-and-white avalanche. I make a frantic slap
at it as it falls, and by good luck it lands on the plate. To be sure,
some of the stalks are craning their necks perilously over the edge, but
that is a small matter compared with what might have happened. I rake
them into the middle of the plate, sit gasping at the thought of my
narrow escape.

There is an awkward pause. The bon mot I was about to utter apropos of
an opera I had never heard has left my mind entirely. I can't think of
anything to say. Finally, in desperation, I remark idiotically to the
dowager at my left, "I love asparagus; don't you?"

The next time he passes a dish, I lose my nerve. I lift my hand to help
myself, and then, as I catch his eye, draw back, shaking my head. No, I
won't take any chances.

After that I keep to a strict diet, eating only the things that appear
on my plate when it is put down in front of me. If the plate arrives
naked and empty, naked and empty it remains, even though the course
consist of my favorite delicacy. I suffer the pangs of Tantalus.

Alligator-pear salad--more to be desired than gold, yea, than much fine
gold--is offered to me. I covet it. Everything gastronomic in my nature
craves it, but cowardly fear restrains me (it looks slippery), and I
refuse it. I could almost weep.

As the dinner proceeds and my modified hunger-strike continues, I begin
to regain confidence. I feel that my abstemiousness, implying as it does
a jaded palate and an aristocratic indigestion, is highly fashionable. I
fancy that in refusing ambrosia I am showing a godlike superiority.

I expand with self-assurance. Just watch me startle these plutocrats
with my scorn of their costly food. I'll make myself the lion of the
evening.

"May I help you to shortcake, sir?" asks a low, ironically respectful
voice.

My pride collapses. The butler has seen through me to the cowardice in
my heart. From his lofty pinnacle he stoops to succor me. But I rebel.

"I'll help myself, thank you," I retort, for I am on my mettle now, and
boldly prize off a towering segment of the dessert. Would _I_ let a
menial reveal to the whole table that I was afraid to help myself?
Never! Why, I'd sooner--

Dizzily the creamy thing totters, keels over, and falls with a sickening
flop, a mushy sound, as of the impact of a wet sponge. Juicy red berries
gambol hither and thither.

For a moment the shortcake lies helplessly on its side like a jellyfish
that the tide has left. But only for a moment; for a wrecking-crew, made
up of the butler and his assistant, comes hurrying on the scene. With
emergency plate and scraper they remove the debris, while I turn purple
and clutch at my collar for air. Then, after a mortifying amount of
crumb-gleaning and cream-mopping, they spread a napkin before me in the
presence of my swell friends, as if to shield the cloth from further
depredations. I draw back to allow them to put it there, and in so doing
squash a hidden strawberry against my waistcoat. As a final humiliation,
a fresh piece of shortcake is brought to me _already on a plate_.

If there is anything more formidable than an English butler, it is an
English valet. Somebody else's valet, I mean; for I suppose that if a
person had one long enough, he could get so that he wouldn't be afraid
of him. But as for a perfectly strange English valet!

"Your key, please, sir," demands Hawkins upon my arrival at my friend's
summer palace. He bows slightly.

"What key?" I ask uneasily.

"The key to your traveling-bag, sir."

I am just stopping overnight on my way home from a house party in the
woods, and all my spare raiment is soiled and bedraggled.

"So I can unpack your things, sir," threatens the Great Mogul.

"Never mind, thank you," I stammer. "I've lost the key."

"Very good, sir," he replies and goes.

But not permanently. When I return to my room at midnight, elated over
having trounced my host in countless games of billiards, I am met at the
door by my oppressor. In his hand is a small object.

"I fetched a locksmith out from the city, sir, and 'ad 'im make this
for you, sir. It fits quite correctly, sir."

And one glance about the room--from the snaggle-tooth comb on the
dresser to the frayed pajamas the mussiness of which no festive laying
out can hide--makes me aware of my utter ignominy.

Since when I have confined my week-end visiting exclusively to lumber
camps.



PUTTING PEDAGOGY ACROSS


There is much well-meaning propaganda in progress for the preservation
of professors. Alumni are appealed to, bankers are buttonholed, and in
every college club the diagram showing the Big Game play by play has
been replaced by a dial showing how many millions have been garnered to
date for the fund; all this in order that the saying "Live and learn"
may be reversible as "Be learned and yet live."

Wouldn't it be more humane (instead of giving the professors money, to
which they are not accustomed) to teach them how to "sell" themselves?
Today every one is paid according to how completely the public or the
plutocrats are "sold" on him. Only salesmanship can save the scholars.

The time is ripe for some gilt-edged grad such as Morton K. Mung,
President of the Newark Noodle Corporation, to announce, when stalked by
the subscription squad: "No, gentlemen of the Adopt a Professor
Committee, your suggestion that by donating seven cents a day I keep an
instructor in paleontology from starvation, or be godfather to an
authority on Sanscrit at eight cents, strikes me as impractical. With
the cost of living rising again, next year they will want nine and ten
cents--and you see the position that would put us in.

"No, gentlemen, I'll do better. I'll solve this situation once for all
by loaning my general sales manager, Mr. Blat, to dear old Weehawken for
two months, and he will give the members of the Faculty the same
tutoring course he gives the men we send out on the road. Within a year
after they leave his hands these same profs you've mentioned will be
writing 'Success Through Sanscrit' and 'How I made My Pile with
Paleontology' for the _American Magazine_."

At the conclusion of this loyal speech the committee would give a long
cheer and depart checkless but with a new vision.

And, sure enough, the pale pedagogues would emerge from Mr. Blat's
snappy seminar simply exuding system. They would possess the Power to
Meet Men, the Personality that Wins. Laboratory recluses would burst
forth primed to impress with Bigger Biology--Contains More Bunk.

The Sanscrit savant, formerly threadbare, but now a nifty dresser, would
immediately hop a train for New York and breeze into the office of Hugh
G. Wads, senior member of Wads & Wads and Chairman of the Trustees of
Weehawken University.

"Good morning, Mr. Wads," he would say aggressively. "I've come here
this morning to talk Vedas."

"Vedas? I don't get you. Never heard of such a stock. It isn't listed on
the big board, and if it's traded in on the Curb, the dealings must be
pretty small. Besides, I thought you were a professor at Weehawken."

"Right. I am a professor, if you choose to put it that way. Technically,
though, I'm a promoter, and my proposition is VEDAS (Trade mark
copyrighted 2000 B. C.)."

"Vedas? I still don't get you."

"Ah, that is precisely why I am here. I was sure you would want to
know--Cigar?--Well, Vedas are the wisdom songs of India. Mellowed by
forty centuries in the parchment. One hundred per cent Hindu. Classy yet
conservative; noble yet nobby. You know what caste is among the
Brahmins?--well, that's how exclusive these are!"

"Indeed."

"Yes, and I'm offering them for immediate delivery to students."

"But how does this concern me?"

"I was just getting to that. This is a proposition which requires
considerable capital for its development. At the present time only seven
students have asked for Vedas, yet I have estimated that the supply of
Vedas now mellowing out in India is enough for at least 180,000
students. Which means that if we created the demand--why, think of the
business we could do! When you come right down to it, a Veda, when
presented in the right way, can be as catchy as a Kewpie."

"Hm. How much money would you need to start with?"

"Fifty thousand dollars. Besides my salary, which would be $15,000
outright, plus a bonus of one and one-half cents per Veda per student,
there would be the cost of advertising in the college catalogue, the
conducting of a circularizing campaign to a selected list of student
prospects and the publication of a promotion organ to be entitled 'India
Ink.' Then, too, of course, I would have to have a commission on gross
tuition receipts and text book sales and an ample expense account for
entertaining in the class-room and in my home. Now will you kindly put
your name here on the dotted line?"

"Before I guarantee you all this money, tell me one thing. What is the
real value of these Vedas?"

"They are the quaint quintessence of conservatism, and will occupy
youthful minds menaced by modernism."

"I'll sign."

Succored by the science of salesmanship, any professor would be able to
achieve affluence. Fortunes would rise from footnotes; and there would
be big money made in bibliography.



COACHING FROM THE SIDE-LINES


[Illustration]

Thanks to the roadside advertisements, driving a car has become as easy
as playing a pianola. You just watch the instructions that appear along
the edge, and regulate your levers and pedals accordingly. Thus, when
you see:

    DANGEROUS CURVE

      SOUND RASPON

--you reach instinctively for the button of your electric horn. Later,
seeing:

    SHARP DESCENT

      APPLY EUREKA NON-SLIP-ABLE BRAKE

--you comply gracefully. A mere twist of the wrist or dislocation of
the ankle does the trick.

He that reads may run. Any man who has ever watched an organist pull out
stops and push them in again can become a motor virtuoso. Any woman
accustomed to following instructions in cutting out a dress pattern, can
grasp the idea as easily as, when told to, she grasps the lever which
operates BINGO'S NORTHPOLEAN RADIATOR COOLER. It is so simple that it is
imbecile.

Every peculiarity of the route is heralded. All its little
irregularities, its deviations from straightness, its bad declines and
sudden uppishnesses, even the small faults which an easy-going person
would overlook, are held up sternly in warning.

      GUSTY CORNER

    RAISE BREEZ-O EXTENSION WIND-SHIELD

      SANDY STRETCH

    SPRAY GEARS WITH ANTI-GRIT

      PUDDLES

    APPLY SPLASHOL EMERGENCY MUD-GUARD

      RAILROAD CROSSING

    PUT EAR TO LOCOMOTIVE DETECTAPHONE

      DANGEROUS BOULDER

    BEFORE RAMMING THIS MAKE SURE ACHILLES COLLISION BUFFER IS
          PROPERLY ADJUSTED

      VILLAGE SPEED TRAP

    APPLY BACKFIRE WITH READY CONSTABLE EXTERMINATOR

Occasionally, as a relief from the faults of the road, its favorable
points are dwelt on. Thus,

      MOUNTAIN VIEW

    ENJOY IT THROUGH AUTO-FLEX NON-REFRACTORY GOGGLES

In general, however, the emphasis is upon the perils of the way, as--

    ONLY 1 MILE TO HOTEL SOAKUM

(Here no specific instructions are given, it being understood that the
accessory involved is one's pocketbook and that the directions are:
"OPEN ALL THE WAY.")

The system has one drawback. The signs never fail, yet there is such a
thing as trusting them too implicity. I knew a man who, as the result of
trying to obey seven signs telling him to "BE SURE TO DINE AT" as many
different inns, stripped the lining of his esophagus. And I knew of
another man--a timid, earnest, nervous old gentleman--who depended on
signs so completely that one day, at a dangerous part of the road, being
suddenly confronted with the command:

    USE PLEXO

he fell into a panic. "Plexo, plexo!" he muttered in bewilderment.
"Where _is_ the plexo lever? I can't find the plexo button! Something
terrible will happen unless I find it."

It did. As, with trembling fingers, he fumbled through the entire outfit
of attachments, he forgot to steer, and unluckily ran off the edge of a
precipice; so that he did not live to learn that plexo was a massage
cream.



FAST AND LOOSE


[Illustration: Decorative letter "T"]

There is no constancy so affecting as that of a faithful button. Friends
may be devoted; yet they seek your company partly for the pleasure of
it. Dogs may show the uttermost fidelity; but you feed them. But the
attachment of buttons is without taint of self: it is pure, spontaneous.

This loyalty is the more remarkable when you consider how empty their
lives are. The outlook through their buttonholes is but a narrow one.
Their daily labor, a mere mechanical buttoning into and out of an
uncongenial flap, is deadeningly monotonous. (I have seldom known a
button whose heart was really in its work.) In surroundings so little
adapted to the building up of character, they display a stanchness that
is akin to stoicism. Indeed, many a button will stick doggedly to an old
weatherbeaten garment long after the perfidious nap has fled.

There are, unfortunately, buttons wanting in probity, deceitful buttons
that pretend to be strongly attached to you when detained by but a
single thread, irresponsible buttons that fly off at a tangent, immodest
buttons (of the cloth-covered variety) that disrobe in public. But
deliberately vicious buttons are rare. The fact is, few buttons would go
to the bad, were it not for the heartless indifference of their owners.
Too often a headstrong young button, that might easily have been saved
had it been brought up short the moment it showed signs of looseness, is
allowed to reach the end of its rope, fall, and be utterly lost.

And the dereliction of one may mean the ruin of its family. I was told
of a sad case, once, where an entire clan of brown buttons, dwelling
happily together on the front of a coat and waistcoat--polished,
distinctive buttons they were, not be matched anywhere--were cruelly
banished, because of a single erring member.

While to neglect buttons is most reprehensible, there is such a thing as
showing them too much indulgence. For buttons must not be coddled: when
toyed with, they droop.

Tender-hearted women, actuated by sympathy and not realizing the
consequences of what they were doing, have been known to _pamper_
buttons. Because a button has a pleasant, open countenance, one of these
misguided persons will support it on her costume in idleness. She may
even surround herself with a retinue of glittering sycophants that never
knew a buttonhole--great saucerlike hangers-on, lolling on their stems;
brazen braggadocios, flashing with insolent militarism; and puny silken
pettinesses, mere pills of buttons. Often I have been shocked to see a
swarm of these drones perched indolently on the show part of a garment
while, underneath, a squadron of industrious hooks and eyes grappled
with the work to be done.

Such sights are, to thoughtful people, almost as depressing as the
massacre of helpless shirt buttons by a baleful flatiron. Are buttons to
become effete? Will they, in the course of generations of _dolce far
niente_, lose their stamina? The signs are ominous.



THE PRIMROSE PATHOLOGY


[Illustration]

I am laying an ego. With the assistance of a soako-analyst I am
overhauling my instincts, liberating my innate masterfulness. Just wait
till you see my rebuilt personality.

It's wonderful what the right soako-analyst can do to your complexes and
your finances. My soako is a woman, of course. Male soakos are best for
feminine mind-patients; but any man who needs to have his psychic self
revamped should hand over his unconscious to a sympathetic lady soako.
The attunement is lovelier. She can more understandingly separate him
from his inhibitions and his dollars.

My soako and I, we have talks by the hour. At fifty dollars per. We talk
about criminals and insane people and how everybody's crazy if they only
knew it. She explains how that dream I had after eating that stringy
Welch rarebit--that dream about throwing the size twelve overshoes at
the canary--proves that I secretly desire to murder Uncle Alfred and
elope with Mary Garden. If I could just commit that homicide and meet
Mary, these annoying conflicts would clear and leave my unconscious as
serenely blank as my conscious. So far, Uncle and Mary are still having
it out atavistically in my foreconscious. I must eat some more Welch
rarebit.

Before I went to this nerve therapeutist I had fears. But she has cured
me. She is all nerve. I thought there were some things one could not
mention to a lady. I thought that when visiting a lady, even by
appointment (office hours: 9--5) one could hardly make certain allusions
without incurring a "Sir! Leave this house instantly and never let me
hear your conversation again!"

But now that I have been initiated into the New Freedom, I know that the
automatic prehensile response is another fifty on my bill.

So I am learning, progressing. A new mental day is breaking and so is my
bank account. The dun is near.

But when I get my mind--what'll I do with it?

I think I'll become a soako myself and take in lady patients.



FIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD


[Illustration: Decorative letter "T"]

This world would be a far different place if there were peace among
pens. As it is, however, every pen wears a drop of ink on its shoulder.

Not even the tender ministrations of chamois cloth will soothe its
savage heart. It is deaf to sweet reasonableness. Returning drunk from
the inkwell, it will smutch the hand that fed it, cast blots upon the
fairest names, and ravish virgin sheets of paper. And when you try to
force it to a more civilized way of behaving, you discover it has its
points crossed.

A pen thus divided against itself will not write. There must be freedom
for the black fluid. There must be perfect harmony--two prongs with but
a single point, two parts that meet as one. Disunion is a sign of
weakness.

I had a pen once whose prongs became estranged. They were egoists: each
followed his individual bent, and was determined to make his own mark in
his own field. For the sake of appearances, they took their meals of ink
together, but immediately afterward, when pressure was brought to bear
upon them, they separated. Yet when one of them, striving too hard after
originality, broke under the strain, his widow was left desolate.

More domestic in an old-fashioned way is that staunch, blunt family, the
Stubbs. They are firm and substantial sort of pens. By people who
dislike them they are called phlegmatic, stodgy, close, stiffnibbed; and
it must be admitted, they do lack the sprightliness of the Sharps; but,
after all, these unyielding puritans, with their heavy touch, are more
trustworthy than their acute but volatile cousins. For temperament in a
pen finds vent in sudden splutterings.

The difference in their natures is evidenced by the way they meet
obstacles. The Stubbs, plodding along doggedly, overcome all hazards in
the paper; whereas the Sharps, tripping nonchalantly, come to grief at
the first bunker, and before they get started again, waste several
strokes and gouge the course. And when the Sharps attempt to run the
gauntlet of expensive linen stationery (the higher the price, the higher
the ridges), they get held up at every cable crossing. But there is a
kind of paper--smooth, slippery, insidious--that prompts both the Sharps
and the Stubbs to evil ways. They know they are doing wrong, however;
for they are ashamed, and conceal their tracks, rendering all tracing
impossible.

It is a great pity that pens are not more consistent about their ink
giving. One moment they are stingy, and the next lavish. Perhaps this
may be due to absent-mindedness.

Beginning a letter to a crabbed old relative, you say to your pen, "Give
me a little ink for 'Dear Uncle Jonathan.'"

It ignores the request. You urge again. Still it is thinking of
something else. "Here, wake up, now!" (You shake it violently.) "Give me
some ink!"

"Why, certainly," it replies effusively. "Take a blot."

And "Dear Uncle Jonathan" is buried with deep mourning.

Haphazard as their outgivings appear to be, I have a theory that they
are in reality quite logical; for I have noticed that _pens spend most
ink on things that are worth most_. Thus, a pen that would grudge to
disburse a single minim on a cheap sheet of a pad, will gladly expend
all it has upon a costly embroidered tablecloth. And it finds the
flyleaf of a handsome book (which if separate from the volume it would
regard as a mere scrap of paper) amazingly absorbing. If it take a fancy
to something large and sumptuous, such as an oriental rug, and yet not
have on hand sufficient ink for such an outlay, it will appropriate it
with a deposit of spot splash.

However little aptitude a pen may have for writing, it is sure to
display rare skill as a fisherman. In the most unpromising inkwell it
will catch deep sea monsters that astound you. It will spear great
flounders of blotting paper and wriggly eels of string. It will drag up
from the bottom wreckage of forgotten times, prehistoric flora and
fauna--an antique rubber band, a female tress (perhaps of some ink-nymph
long dead or discharged), a tack bent with age, a perfectly preserved
shoe button, a less perfectly preserved mummy of a fly.

The perseverance of this follower of Izaak Walton is admirable. It will
cast patiently again and again without a single dribble, and then, all
at once, it will come struggling triumphantly to the surface with a
whale of a June bug it has harpooned. Whereupon, as is the custom with
fishermen who write, it will make a grand splurge of its catch on paper.

In order to prevent such piscatorial dippiness, pen fanciers have bred
the _fountain_ species, the latest variety of which is self-spilling.
Pens of this artificially produced species are very nervous. They have
to be handled with extreme care. For example, if one of them is held
upside down, all the ink runs to its head, and there is danger of a
hemorrhage. Its digestive system is poor: it regurgitates and bubbles at
the mouth. The least thing upsets its stomach. If you forget to put its
cap on, even in mild weather, it contracts a serious congestion of the
throat; with the result that the next letter you write proves dry-point
etching.

Taken all in all, pens have a great deal to answer for. The record they
have left on the pages of history is a black one. Many a person who has
sat down to write something bright and optimistic, has been so
disillusioned and embittered by his pen, that he has ended by hacking a
hymn of hate or drooling a dirge of despair. Which accounts for most of
the world's harsh diplomacy and morbid literature.

Even this essay was originally intended to be cheerful.



ENLIGHTENMENT


At last I have found out the awful truth about humanity. I never even
suspected it. Till last evening I went along my way cheerfully, blindly,
never guessing that my fellow-men were steeped in evil.

But now I know. My eyes have been opened. For last night I went to one
of those enlightening film dramas that reveal life as it is. It was
called "Her Blackest Sin," and it comprised nine reels of terrible
truth.

It was one of those fine moral sermons to which every mother ought to
take her son, and every niece ought to take her uncle, and every
stepaunt ought to take her Pekingese.

I only wish my daughter could have seen it; but as I haven't any
daughter, she couldn't have.

[Illustration: _She never really intended to become steeped in sin: she
was scenarioed into it_.]

This drama shows how a handsome but thoughtless woman may sink in sin
without ever meaning to. Yes, the strange and pitiful part about it is
that she really never intended to be a fallen, crime-seared creature.
She sins witlessly: she is scenarioed into it. Perhaps she is too
anxious to please. She appears at wild cabarets and wears gowns that are
cut to the quick, not because she desires to of her own accord, but
because it is expected of her by the audience. Lack of firmness leads to
her undoing: she is first pliant, then supple, then sinuous. She
displays too little backbone, and too much.

Poor woman, what chance has she amid so many dress suits? Only too late
does she learn that stiff bosoms cover none but hard hearts, and that
there is no gleam so sinister as that of a silk hat, covering as it does
baldness of the baldest sort.

Innocent at first, hardly a reel passes before she begins to stop and
work her face, just the way the villains stop and work their faces. (Of
course, being still a modest woman, she does this only in the privacy of
a close-up.) By the seventh reel even her high-minded husband has become
afflicted with the taint, and is stopping and working _his_ face.

And so the drama progresses, growing blacker and more enlightening every
minute. I can't be too grateful to the producers of this film for the
unflinching way in which they accepted the responsibility of my
innocence and warned me. If they had not, I should probably have gone to
the end of my days without ever knowing that people were at bottom only
smiling criminals.

But now, thank goodness, I'm warned and on my guard. I'm posted on sin.
When a man comes up to me and shakes my hand, I'll know he's a hawk
looking for a home to break up; and when a woman smiles at me, I'll know
she's a vampire.

They won't catch _me_! I'll just watch them surreptitiously when they
are off their guard until I see them working their faces, and _then_
I'll have them!

For now I am an expert on evil. That film showed me the thrilling
seductions of a life of vice; so that if I am ever confronted by them I
shall be able to recognize them at once and say how do you do. And at
the end there was one of those solemn moral warnings, such as everybody
thinks everybody else is supposed to need; so in future I shall know
what to avoid in _that_ line.

And this entire transformation of my life cost me only thirty-three
cents.



HOLIDAY MISGIVINGS


[Illustration]

When, on Christmas night, I take a private view of the collection of
presents I have received, I realize that I am a much misunderstood
person.

I sit down sadly and wonder what I could have done to create such an
impression. Is there something _queer_ about me? If so, then wouldn't it
have been more tactful, more kind, to have come to me and told me of it,
instead of thus brutally proclaiming it to the world? But that is the
way people are: they will serenely _assume_ things they wouldn't have
the face to mention.

Those morbid socks!--half hose and half a disease. The loom that made
them must have been degenerate. It is plain that they were never
intended to be put on, because the paste-board document that lurks in
the bottom of the box declares they are "guaranteed against any sort of
wear." And these were esteemed suitable associates for my feet!

I have no recollection of sniffling, in public; yet here are nine dozen
handkerchiefs, an outfit for someone with chronic coryza. As for the
assemblage of pocketbooks, purses, wallets, coin holders, etc., I only
hope that after I have paid my holiday bills there will be enough money
left to half-way fill the pocketbook I have already.

But the crowd that seems most oppressive is that of the calendars. Am I
really so absent-minded as to require seven engagement pads? Am I so lax
about settling my accounts that my butcher and grocer and milkman feel
called upon to supply me the means of knowing what day of the month it
is?

Anything may pass for a calendar, so long as it complies with the law by
having a little batch of months attached to the bottom like an
appendix:--a snapshot of Cousin Gertrude's baby (oh, the deuce! I
suppose I was expected to give that kid something for Christmas!); a
pastoral chromo, entitled "Shearing the Lambs," sent me by a firm of
brokers; a picture of a child in a nightie saying its prayers, with the
compliments of the Schweinler Beef Packing Co.; a hand-tinted but feebly
glued print of Paul and Virginia, inscribed, "Jones and Bergfeldt,
Plumbers."

One calendar, consisting of a sheaf of large placards, each purporting
to exhibit a specimen of female beauty, is so throttled by its silken
cord that when February 1st arrives and I attempt to give one of the
beauties the flop-over in order that I may gaze on the next for a while,
the situation proves too tense. The eyelet suddenly splits into an
outlet, and the jilted maiden, cast off by her sisters, collapses upon
the floor.

All of which is most distressing; but no more so than the notion that
women seem to have of what a man likes. I shall never forget the pair
of slippers that Aunt Josephine bestowed upon me last year. They were
what are technically known as _mules_, but in reality they were a couple
of long rafts, each with an arching toe-cabin that would have
accommodated both feet. The low racing sterns extended so far aft of my
heels that the latter stood almost amidships.

Navigation was difficult. They kept running afoul of each other; so that
I would suddenly find my starboard foot partly on the port slipper and
mostly on the floor. Sometimes one of them would dart ahead several
lengths and capsize, obliging me to turn skipper. No matter how
earnestly I lifted their bows, their sterns always dragged. A landsman
would have said that my progress resembled pumping a rhapsody on a
pianola, or skiing in the Alps.

The unreasonableness of these mules reached a climax one morning while I
was visiting the Cholmondeley-Browdens. I encountered my hostess
unexpectedly as I was returning from my bath. In the excitement of the
moment, both slippers bolted, one of them performing a spectacular
flip-flap, and the other skidding through the balustrade of the stairway
and landing below in a globe of goldfish; while I made my escape in a
state of pedal nudity.

As for the neckties I have received--truly, Love is blind!



ALL, ALL ARE GONE, THE OLD FAMILIAR FAÇADES


Nowadays when it is hard for the casual observer to distinguish
Somebody's Mother from Somebody's Jazz Baby, it is not to be wondered at
that houses as well as humans are disguising their age. Victorian
brownstone mansions that later sank to boarding-house seediness now
renew their youth as the "Rubens Studios" or "Haddon Chambers"; drab
office buildings, yielding to a sudden access of sand, take on new
complexions as talcumy white as those of the flappers passing by.

He would be a tactless and cruel man who would say, "I know when that
one's corner stone was laid." Or, "My great uncle knew that one when it
was only three stories high." Or, "It didn't have that cornice until its
gables began to fall off." Or, "You ought to have seen the stoop it had
before they put in the steel braces."

Beauty doctoring to buildings must have become quite an art. It takes
skill to know how to eliminate the dark lines under tired window sills,
lift the sagging balconies, reduce protuberant bay windows. Only a
trained chisel can remove a superfluous ornament in a way that will
guarantee against its reappearance.

We are shocked, though, at the brazenly commercial character that
certain sedate houses have taken on in the giddier part of town.
Buildings that were formerly quiet residences, keeping themselves
retiringly back from the bustle, and modestly shielding themselves with
brown balustrades, now shamelessly come forward as close to the line as
they dare, meeting the idle stroller half-way, not with lowered shades,
but with broad plate-glass assurance, and even displaying scandalous
lingerie.

We cannot but feel that buildings thus bedizened in the effort to keep
from being neglected, will not command the same reverence that used to
be inspired by the mossy old manse or the messy old mill. Theirs is
hardly the Age of Innocence.

Would the old home seem as homely to you, after it had been exterior
decorated? Would it be as dear?

Oh, much dearer!--as the real estate agent will tell you, or your own
broker.



MY MUSEUM


[Illustration]

I called her Plury. That is to say, I would speak of her by that
endearing appellation when she was running along smoothly and seldom
missing in either cylinder. Her real name, however, was E. Pluribus
Unum.

You see, I had wanted an automobile, but found that no single make was
within my means. So I bought Plury--just as a person who cannot afford
beef, veal, chicken, turkey, lamb or pork, orders hash. Individually
Fords, Buicks, Overlands, Peerlesses, Simplexes, Pierce-Arrows, etc.,
were too expensive for me; but collectively, combined in the form of
second-hand Plury, I could afford them all, at $132.50.

Plury was a cosmopolitan. Her rear axle was Italian, her steering-wheel
was French, her magneto was Austrian, and her mudguards were Belgian. It
was hard to maintain her neutrality. For example, a German cogwheel that
clutched with an English one--scarred veterans, both of them--kept the
gear box in a constant state of friction. (When such international
clashes occurred, it was always difficult to find out which one had
started the trouble.) Then, too, among the American-made parts there was
much jealousy between those that had come from rival factories. The
tires were of four different makes, each boasting a surface specially
patented against skidding; but each strove so hard to shove the other
three into the gutter, that all four cavorted about the road in a most
unseemly fashion.

Many were the heartburnings, the incompatibilities of temperament, of
the parts thus yoked together. Whenever these dissentions brought
matters to a standstill, I would have to get out and apply the
monkey-wrench of peace.

Plury was hardly a _noble_ car in either appearance or speed, yet I was
genuinely fond of her. Her lamps had a wistful look--a look as innocent
and helpless as that with which poached eggs gaze up at you before they
die. As for her slowness, that made little difference; because her
speedometer, geared presumably for a racing car, exaggerated. And, after
all, what is speed but a number on a dial? While I saw "71" registered
there I was not disturbed by the fact that bicyclists were passing me.

I admired her pluck. She would chunk along stoically, accepting other
people's dust without complaint, when in a condition of health that
would have prostrated any other machine. (Thoroughbreds do not show the
greatest endurance.) Bravely she would drag herself home, after a hard
afternoon's work, with a leak in her radiator and congestion in all her
bearings.

I used to practice vivisection on her, taking her apart and putting her
together in new ways. It was a fascinating kind of solitaire, solving
the problem of what to do on rainy Sundays. In a few hours' time I could
shuffle the parts and deal out an entirely new model. Under my care
Plury changed her shape with ultrafashionable frequency. A model that I
was particularly interested in trying out was number nine (_i. e._, the
eighth transformation). This was such a daring rearrangement that it
seemed too wonderful to be true. But it worked, and thrillingly. In this
form Plury exceeded all her previous speed records. The speedometer dial
registered 87, and a swarm of gnats had hard work keeping up with us.

Proceeding at this reckless pace, we approached a hilly curve marked
"DANGER: DRIVE SLOWLY." I changed gear. The cogs emitted a grating,
crunching sound, as of quartz in a stone-crusher, and then subsided. I
got out to view their death grapple.

But I had no sooner set foot upon the ground than the roar of an
infuriated claxon startled me so that I leaped clear aside into the
ditch. In that instant a huge Fiat, armed with a brazen fender, swung
around the curve and rammed Plury in the radiator.

Plury _splattered_ like a charlotte russe hit by a sledgehammer. The
road and neighboring fields were full of her.

The liveried chauffeur of the Fiat got out and began to brush the dust
from the front of his car. A frightened fat man picked himself up from
the floor of the tonneau and called to me, "Are you badly hurt?"

"No," I replied. "I'm all right, I think."

"Good!" he said, in a tone of great relief. "Then let's settle the
damages at once, for I don't want this thing to get into the papers."
With a shaky hand he drew out a checkbook. "What was the value of your
car?"

I hesitated.

"Would you consider _five thousand_ sufficient indemnity to close the
whole matter--personal injuries, property damages, and everything?"

I considered it!

And after he had gone, I fondly stooped and kissed Plury's tin remains.



ON CHAIRS--AND OFF


[Illustration]

AS a person who frequently sits, I should like to know why there are so
many uncomfortable chairs. Why is it that people who are apparently mild
and kind-hearted will foster in their homes, at their very firesides,
chairs of the most insidious cruelty? Why will dear old ladies cherish
these household monsters, festooning them with ribbons and fancywork?

Of course I realize that every chair represents some furniture-maker's
theory of beauty and comfort, that every lump, ridge, and crook is
supposed to have its aesthetic or anatomic reason; what I object to is
being tortured for heresy just because I am physically unable to agree
with these theories. An innocent-looking willow rocker that stands
invitingly on my aunt's veranda is built on the assumption that the
human back is in the shape of an S. Perhaps the Apollo Belvedere may
have a back like that; but not I. Mine, sitting in that rocker, feels
more like the Dying Gladiator's.

I am fond of Nature and I have the greatest respect for her, but my joy
in things sylvan does not extend to rustic chairs. As parlor editions of
the woodpile they are certainly ingenious, but their surface, which
resembles that of a corduroy road, is hardly adapted to sitting
purposes. Then, too, there are always a few nails in evidence. And I can
never resist picking at the loose shreds of bark on the arms, with the
result that, before I know it, I am sure to skin quite a large place,
and then feel mortified.

The city cousin of the rustic chair is the high-backed carved seat.
This has a lion's head that catches you at the nape of the neck, and a
couple of scrolls for your shoulder-blades. The seat itself is a huge
slab of wood that feels like adamant. This chair looks best against the
wall, and the fact that it weighs about fifty pounds is one reason why
it generally stays there.

Another massive chair is the Morris. It indeed took the imagination of a
poet to conceive of sitting on a folding-bed that was only half folded.
When I get into one of these contrivances its bedlike quality makes me
so drowsy that I almost fall asleep, yet its chair-like quality keeps me
awake--with the result that I remain in a semi-comatose condition, from
which I rouse myself occasionally to climb out and shift the rod to
another notch.

A variety that is not to be relied on--much less, sat on--is the
loop-the-loop species, which is found in cheap restaurants and at
amateur theatricals. This consists of a four-legged tambourine, backed
by two loops of wood, the outer one in the shape of a Moorish arch and
the inner one in the shape of a tennis racket. Exactly half of these
chairs in existence have racks under them to hold your hat and gloves,
whereas the other half have no such racks; so that exactly half the
times I sit on one of these chairs and put my hat and gloves under the
seat those articles fall disconcertingly to the floor.

A kind of rocker much in vogue is a medley of young banisters, a sort of
improvisation on a turning-lathe. When new this chair emits a peculiar
creaking sound. In the course of a few weeks it loosens up till quite
supple, so that, in rocking, the various rods perform a complicated
piston motion. This process continues till gradually the chair reaches
the stage where at every rock it comes apart and puts itself together
again--or almost together.

Best-parlor chairs run to extremes of fatness and leanness. They are
either pampered, slender, gilded things--mere wisps of chairs--that
offer a most precarious support, or fat, puffy, tufted affairs, satin
feather-beds on sticks--no, not feather-beds, either, for they have
twanging springs that tune up every time you sit on them. The colors of
this latter variety may be endured in winter, but when summer comes it
is necessary to suppress them with linen slips.

One interesting species, the elevated rocker, is nearly extinct. This
curious chair, able to skid on rollers like any other, has a little
rocking department upstairs, so that it can wobble to and fro on its
track without doing the least harm in the world.

I could speak of the personal idiosyncrasies of chairs, such as the
trick some of them have of shedding their castors at the slightest
provocation; I could tell of the rocker that insisted on sidling away
from a reading-lamp; or the chair that, while not supposed to be a
rocker at all, teetered diagonally on its northeast and southwest
legs--but the chair I am now sitting on has given me such a cramp that I
shall have to get up and take a walk.



MINIMS



THE NIGHT OF THE FLEECE


Wimley was the mildest man living. Consequently, when Molly said, in her
most decisive tone, "Nonsense! I won't hear of your going back tonight,
before you've even seen our new tennis-court," he realized that he would
have to stay over the week-end.

Not that he didn't want to, in one way; for he liked Molly, and admired
the way she bossed the servants and ran the house for her mother. Then,
too, the weather, which seemed to be growing hotter every minute, would
be far more endurable out here in Avondale Manor than in the city. What
troubled him was the fact that he had not brought a handbag.

"I'll lend you some of Father's things," she went on. "It will be no
bother at all."

When the evening drew to a close and bed-ward migration began, he was
shown to the guest-room.

"I hope you will find everything all right," said his hostess as she bid
him good night.

He replied that he was sure he would. Then he opened the door. The heat
met him like a solid wall. Throwing off his coat, he went to the two
windows to see if they could really be open. Yes, they were; but the
thick fly-screening kept out any air that might have desired to enter.
He glanced at the bed. There was something blue and white lying folded
on it. As he drew nearer, he could see that this something was fuzzy.
Picking it up, he discovered it to be a pair of woolen pajamas. Horrors!
Not even in the bitterest winter could his skin endure the feel of wool.
He wondered if Molly's father ever really wore such things. Perhaps his
wife had given them to him, and perhaps that was why the old gentleman
was staying so long in South America.

Midnight found Wimley still looking the pajamas squarely in the fuzz. An
awful thought was in his mind: What would Molly and her mother think of
him if they found them unrumpled and therefore unused?

He slid one leg into the proper section: the flannel drew like a mild
mustard-plaster. Then he pulled on the other: he was engulfed. A
hippopotamus would have felt comfortable in them at the north pole.

He drew the fuzzy cord several feet before he tied it, then put on the
ulster. It had a huge pocket, capable of containing a tablecloth, that
hung over the spot where his appendix would have been if he had been
internally left-handed. Noting that his feet had disappeared, he turned
up the bottoms of the trousers four times, so that each ankle was neatly
encircled with a doughnut-shaped buffer.

Then, after throwing back all the covers, he snapped out the light and
got into bed. It had one of those patent soft mattresses that, sinking
in, hold the body in bas-relief. He rolled and floundered on the thing,
but at every flounder he sank deeper. It was a quicksand of a bed.

He recalled Victor Hugo's account of the unfortunate traveler who
perished in just such a way: how first his feet disappeared, then his
knees, then his waist, till at last there was nothing but a waving hand,
and then that went.

He was just preparing to wave when his attention was distracted by the
realization that his whole body was tingling with the heat. He seized
the jacket by the middle button and pumped it in and out, trying to pump
in some cool air. There was none to pump. Gasping for breath, he crawled
to a window. Still no air.

He decided to remove the fly-screening. There was a little groove in the
side of the frame where you were supposed to put in your fingers and
pull. He put in his fingers and pulled. Nothing happened. Then he did so
again, considerably harder, and the screen went sailing out of the
window. He leaned out just in time to see it crash upon a row of potted
plants. His heart stood still. Had any one heard the noise? He listened
for several minutes in agonizing suspense.

Here at the window it was a little cooler than in the bed. Why not
emulate the Japanese and sleep on the floor? Splendid! No more squashy,
clinging mattress for him! Fetching a pillow, he stretched out in true
oriental style.

Quite right, the floor did not sink or yield in any manner. It even gave
prominence to certain bony places which the bed had kindly overlooked.
Resisting the thick woolen anklets, it complicated the disposal of his
lower limbs. Finally, however, a gentle sleep "slid into his soul."

But about an hour later the slippery thing slid out again at the mere
announcement by a rooster that dawn had arrived. Other roosters, wishing
to remove all doubts on the subject, repeated with emphasis that joyous
day was at hand. Then a large fly buzzed in through the window to say
good morning. It perched sociably on his left temple, and began rubbing
its two front legs together in a jovial manner.

But Wimley was in no mood for holding a levee. He brushed the fly away.
It executed a boomerang trajectory, lit again on the same spot, and
began rubbing its legs as before. He brushed it away again. It perched
again in exactly the same spot. He was indignant: was _he_ to be at the
mercy of a miserable little _fly_? It seemed he was.

He got up and paced the floor. Happening to catch a glimpse of his face
in the mirror, he beheld a flourishing crop of black bristles. His
whiskers stood ready to be harvested, and his faithful razor was fifty
miles away! Panic seized him. He thought of the window-screen
catastrophe, of the quicksand bed, of the hard floor; his heart sank.
But when he thought of a day in those whiskers, another night in those
pajamas, and then _tomorrow's_ whiskers, he felt that instant flight was
the only thing possible.

Hastily he pulled on his clothes, which felt sticky and moldy and spoke
eloquently of yesterday's dust and heat. Then he opened the door and
peered out into the hall. No one was in sight; but other doors were
open, and out of one of these came a rumbling snore. Could it be
Molly's? This ominous sound was more than he could bear; he retreated.

Back in the room once more, he tiptoed over to the screenless window to
see what his chances would be in that quarter. Ah, there, close by, was
a vine-covered trellis that reached down to the ground! With palpitating
heart he swung himself over to it. It oscillated slightly as it
received his weight.

The thorny crimson rambler was decidedly cloying. He no sooner succeeded
in detaching himself from one twig, than two more just like it whipped
out and hooked him. He reached down with his right foot--down,
down--where the devil was that next cross-piece? At last he found it,
together with about a dozen new thorns. But when he started to bring
down his left foot, the twigs from above insisted on escorting him to
the lower perch; so that he was now in the clutches of the thorns of
both levels. His coat tails had soared to the middle of his back, and
his side pockets were nestling under his armpits. The air was full of
perfume and profanity.

[Illustration: _The air was full of perfume and profanity_.]

All at once there was a crack and a tear, and something gave way. The
next instant he and the vine were descending rapidly in each other's
embrace.

A clump of lofty hollyhocks suffered martyrdom in breaking his fall.
They gave their sap to save him and complete the ruin of his clothes.
Disentangling himself from the wreckage, he dashed off down the nearest
path, under arbors and pergolas, around sun-dials and summer-houses,
past marble seats with mottos that spoke of rest; till, just as he
thought he had reached the edge of the labyrinth, he found himself at
the end of a blind alley. In front of him was a dribbling fountain, a
vapid-faced female clad in dew and idiotically pouring water out of a
parlor ornament. On the pedestal was carved, "A garden is a lovesome
spot, God wot." A brown measuring-worm was measuring the lady for
garments she needed but would never wear. And the water dribbled and
dribbled.

But Wimley wasn't thirsty. Striding over a row of conch-shells and
broad-jumping a plot of geraniums, he made for a six-foot hedge that
appeared to be the boundary of the garden. A desperate spring, followed
by a frantic scramble, brought him to the top of it. He wriggled there
like a bareback rider on a bucking porcupine.

_Ping!_ sounded a tennis-racket close beside him. Lifting his face from
the foliage, he beheld Molly enjoying an early morning game with her
thirteen-year-old brother.

"My advantage!" she called as she raised her racket to serve. But
catching an astonished look on the boy's face, she stopped short and
glanced at the hedge. "A tramp!" she exclaimed, moving toward the spot.

The would-be fugitive struggled to tumble back on the other side. His
head and one shoulder disappeared from view.

"Grab him! Don't let him get away!" she cried excitedly.

The boy did so, seizing one foot while she seized the other.

Then, from the depths of the foliage came a voice as shy and as
plaintive as that of the hermit thrush, murmuring, "It's Wimley!"



BLACK JITNEY

THE AUTO-BIOGRAPHY OF A FORD

(_A twentieth-century revision of "Black Beauty"_)

[Illustration]

The first thing I can remember was being shoveled out of a great
incubator, called a factory, along with several hundred brothers and
sisters. All the men in that factory wore diamond shirt-studs.

While I was wondering at this, an old motor-truck named Mercury said to
me with feeling:

"Ah, if all the workmen in the world could be as well off as the ones
here, there would be no more poverty, and no people so poor as to have
to ride in fords!"

I was loaded on a freight-car and carried many, many miles. The car
jolted so terribly that I should have gone all to pieces had I not been
built for jarring. None of the train-crew showed me any sympathy. They
were wicked men, and used language that frequently sent a tinkle of
shame to my mudguards. I did not then know, as I do now, that the
purest-minded automobile has to endure all its life words and tones of
the most shocking sort.

My first master was a careful and conscientious man. He had a large
garage full of fords, and he always kept a sharp eye on the door to make
sure that nobody who walked out carried off one of us.

One day a man came in with a twenty-dollar bill that he wanted changed.

"Sorry," said my master, "but all I have in my cash-drawer is $2.69.
I'll have to give you the rest in fords."

Whereupon he handed him me and one of my brothers and three extra tires,
which just made up the amount.

This new master, whose name was Mr. Pious, was very good and humane. He
drove me with a gentle foot, and he would say to his children: "Be kind
to Black Jitney. Never scratch him or bend him." The chubby little
fellows grew so fond of me that before long they would trot sturdily
beside me.

Their mother, however, was a cold, imperious woman. She cared nothing
for the feelings of a ford. She would drive me at a heartless pace till
my radiator was parched with thirst and my gears fairly cried out for
oil. Speed was her one desire, and naturally _I_ could not satisfy her.
Even when I ran so fast that the effort made me shake from top to tires
and I was in danger of losing my lamps, she would call me "ice-wagon"
and "rattle-trap" and other cruel names, and refer unkindly to the fact
that she could count the palings of the fences that we passed. Finally,
this hard-hearted woman prevailed upon her husband to sell me and buy a
big sixteen-cylinder Pope-Gregory. This car, as I afterward learned, was
so vicious that the very first time she took it out for an airing it
assaulted three helpless chickens and a pig.

My next master was a young man whose private life was such as no
well-brought-up automobile could have approved of. Every evening, after
he had kept me in the garage all day long fuming with impatience and
spilled gasolene, he would make me carry him for hours and hours with
some young woman who ought to have known better.

What sights and sounds I had to endure--I who had always kept the
strictest decorum! Worst of all, his deplorable conduct began to affect
me. I found myself thinking thoughts which I had never permitted to
enter my mind before, and looking with more interest than I should at
seductive, satin-trimmed limousines. My morality was in danger of
skidding.

One evening while my master was dining with a young woman at a roadside
inn I was left to wait in the adjoining garage. But I was not alone; for
close beside me stood a little French landaulet, the most immorally
alluring car I had ever seen. Her lines were exquisitely shapely; she
was a goddess on wheels.

"Good evening," she sparked enticingly. "Aren't you the car that stood
next to me at the country club last Thursday night?"

There was a daredevil gleam in her lamps which set my carbureter
a-splutter.

"Yes," I answered, infatuated.

"I knew you, even though you tried to hide your name. Wasn't it
lovely--just us two in the moonlight, touching tires!"

A quiver ran through me. I knew that unless I could back out in a hurry,
I was lost. I tried hastily to reverse; she had me completely
short-circuited.

Heaven knows what might have happened had not my master entered at that
moment and saved me. The instant he laid hold of my crank I gave vent to
my pent-up emotions in a way that nearly burst my muffler; and when he
pressed down the pedal, I fairly leaped through the door in flight.

As it was, I was seething with nervousness. My motor throbbed so
violently that I could hardly hold still while the young woman climbed
into her seat.

Off we sped down a dark and narrow road. I had no control over myself,
and neither did the people I was carrying seem to have control over me
or over themselves.

All at once my left fore tire exploded violently, veering me aside into
a mile-post. My master and the young woman landed in a clump of bushes,
but _I_ was maimed for life. Bad example and bad association had ruined
me. Many an innocent, unsophisticated car is thus driven to destruction
all because its owner fails to live up to his moral responsibility.

I lay there all the rest of the night, while my gasolene ebbed away drop
by drop. In the morning some men came out from the city and dragged me
in. They performed a most painful operation on me, amputating various
shattered members and grafting on several feet of tin.

Then, before I was really convalescent, I was sold to a new master. This
person was a harsh-speaking, unfeeling man, who cared for nothing but
money. He drove up and down the streets all day, inviting people to get
in and ride; and when they did get in, he forced each one of them to
surrender a nickel.

He was very cruel to me. Instead of showing any consideration for my
broken health, he would say openly, "Well, I'll get what use I can out
of this one, and then buy another." Not once did he ever throw a blanket
over my hood in cold weather or steady my slipping wheels with chains.
He was so penurious that whenever he drove me through a crowded street,
he would shut off my gasolene, and make me run on what I could breathe
in from the exhausts of other cars.

Wretched indeed is the old age of an automobile. Bereft of the beauty it
had when it was a new model, it declines into squalid neglect. No amount
of painting and enameling can restore its youthful bloom.

One day this master was driving me through an amusement park when I
broke down completely. He got out, and prodded me brutally in the
magneto. I had not the strength to budge.

He grew very angry, and the people in the tonneau demanded their money
back. A crowd of idlers gathered to witness my humiliation.

Becoming purple in the face, my master nearly twisted my crank off. He
heaped upon me the most insulting and unjust imprecations, as though it
were my fault that my health was gone, even making distressing
insinuations as to my ancestry. Words failing him, he fell to belaboring
me with a hammer and monkey-wrench.

The spectators looked on with indifference. Some of them even urged him
maliciously to the attack.

"I'd _sell_ the thing for fifty cents!" he exclaimed, with a shocking
oath.

Suddenly an elderly, kindly-faced man pushed his way forward through the
crowd. "I'll give you that for it," he said. "Only stop battering it!"

My master left off hitting me. He looked surlily at the speaker and then
at the crowd.

"You can have it," he said between his teeth.

Hot tears of gratitude dropped from my cylinders as my deliverer pushed
me to his nearby home. From that moment to this I have never known
anything but happiness.

For my dear old master is a retired gas-fitter whose hobby is landscape
gardening. Relieving me of my tired wheels, he has pastured me in the
center of his front yard and planted me full of geraniums. I am lovingly
taken care of. My kind master waters me regularly and curries me with a
trowel. My working days are over. But what makes me happiest is the
knowledge that I can never be sold.



LIGHT BREAKFAST


[Illustration]

"Henry dear," said Mrs. Brush gently, without raising her pretty head
from the pillow, "it's nearly half-past eight."

"What!" exclaimed her husband, sitting up vehemently and staring at the
clock. "Where is Maria? She's supposed to be here by seven, isn't she?"

"Perhaps she didn't come today."

"That good-for-nothing darky! I'll go and investigate." Plunging
energetically into his bath-robe and slippers, he sallied forth on a
tour of the apartment.

No Maria sweeping in the hall; no Maria straightening up the living-room
or library; no Maria dusting in the dining-room; no Maria preparing
breakfast in the kitchen.

"How provoking!" sighed Mrs. Brush.

"Provoking? I call it outrageous."

"Yes; I'm sorry, dear, that this will make you late to your office."

"Oh, I'm not bothered about _that_, for I've just put through some new
efficiency systems which enable me to accomplish a tremendous amount of
work in a very short time. What I can't stand is having that darky
_impose_ on us."

"But, dearest, maybe she's sick."

"Then she could have sent us word by telephone. No; she's taking
advantage of the fact that you are young and inexperienced. But she'll
be sorry for it. I'll discharge her myself."

"Now, please don't get excited, dear. If you discharged her, it might
be days and days before we could get another."

"That wouldn't make any difference. We'd simply take our meals out.
Except breakfast, of course. _I'd_ get that."

"You?"

"Yes. We'll start this morning. If you'll attend to the dusting--later
in the day, I mean--I'll bring you your coffee before you get up, just
as you're used to having it."

"But, Henry--"

"It won't be any trouble at all. Nothing is, no matter how unfamiliar it
may be to you, if you go at it intelligently, scientifically." When Mr.
Brush was obsessed with an idea, it was useless to oppose him. The best
policy was to let it take its course. "As I have often told you," he
continued, "housekeeping could be greatly simplified if you women would
only--"

Seeing that he was about to launch into a homily on efficiency, such as
she had heard him deliver at least twenty times in the three months she
had been married to him, she said:

"If you're going to get breakfast, hadn't you better hurry and take your
bath?"

"That's so," he admitted. Shuffling briskly to the bathroom, he was soon
foaming at the mouth with tooth-paste.

There was a loud buzzing sound from the direction of the kitchen.

"Henry!" called Mrs. Brush, "there goes the dumb-waiter. Shall I answer
it?"

"No; I'll ho," he replied pastily out of the corner of his mouth. Still
busily agitating his tooth-brush, so as not to waste any time, he
paddled to the dumb-waiter and called: "He'o! Whash you wa'?"

"Garbage!" replied a gruff voice. A rattling of ropes announced that the
car was on its way.

Mr. Brush opened the "sanitary garbage closet," and, screwing up his
face and tooth-brush, seized something that was mighty unlike a rose. He
held the pail out at arm's-length as he carried it to the dumb-waiter.

_Buzz, buzz, buzz_, went the buzzer.

"Huh?" gurgled Mr. Brush, nervously swallowing a generous amount of
tooth-paste.

"Garbage!" repeated the voice.

Mr. Brush looked helplessly at the can on the dumb-waiter and then at
his incapacitated hands.

"Put your garbage on!" roared the voice.

Mr. Brush sputtered; then, extracting the tooth-brush with the fourth
and fifth knuckles of his left hand, he shouted back indignantly:

"I 'id!"

"Then why didn't you _say_ so?" And down went the dumb-waiter with a
jerk.

Mr. Brush returned to the bathroom. As he was in the midst of shaving,
the buzzer sounded again. This time he was on the alert and ready for
any argument. Leaving his razor, but not his lather, he hurried back to
the kitchen in a combative mood.

"What do you want?" he yelled defiantly as he opened the door of the
dumb-waiter. There was no answer; but facing him on the shelf of the car
stood his empty pail, silent, stolid, indifferent to his bravado. He
snatched it off and returned to his ablutions.

On account of the extreme lateness of the hour, he decided to finish off
with a quick shower-bath, first hot and then cold. Just as he removed
his last garment, the buzzer sounded again.

"Aw, go ahead and buzz!" he said between his teeth.

As he stepped into the hot downpour, the door-bell rang.

"Whoever that is can wait."

But apparently the person in question had no desire to do so, for the
bell sounded again and again. To complete the symphony, the telephone
chimed in with its merry tune.

"Gwendolyn!" called Mr. Brush, distractedly amid the roar of waters.

But she, having fallen into a pleasant doze while waiting for her
breakfast, did not hear him. The bells and buzzer had by this time
settled into a sustained chord like that of the whistles at New-year's.

Bounding out of the tub to the mat, Mr. Brush wrapped his form, which
still glistened with pearly drops, in his bath-robe, and slip slopped
frigidly down the hall.

"Hello!" he cried, snatching off the telephone-receiver. "No, this is
_not_ Schmittberger the butcher!" Then he darted to the front door.
Opening it, he found the postman waiting with a letter.

"Two cents due, please."

The buzzer continued its heavy droning, and the telephone started up
again.

"Two cents, two cents," repeated Mr. Brush in befuddlement.

The postman stared.

"Two cents; yes, two cents," reiterated Mr. Brush, groping immodestly
for pockets where there were none.

"You said that before."

"Oh, excuse me! I'll get it right off. Now, where did I put that purse?
Let me think." But thinking in the neighborhood of that telephone was an
impossibility. He would have to quiet the thing. So, clapping the
receiver to his ear, he protested, "Hello! hello!"

"Will you _kindly_ give me Schmittberger's butcher shop?"

"Good grief!" he exclaimed, letting the receiver fall. It swung by its
tail, pendulum-wise, barking infuriated clicks.

Mr. Brush staggered to the bedroom. With reeling brain, he ransacked all
his chiffonier drawers for the purse which was lying in plain view on
top. By the time he had discovered it and started back to the door, the
buzzer in the kitchen was having delirium tremens. Floundering to the
spot, he gasped:

"What do you want?"

"Ice!" was the husky reply.

"All right, I'll send it down. No, I mean, you send it up."

As the dumb-waiter rose, the temperature fell, and Mr. Brush soon found
himself in the presence of a beautiful blue berg. With chattering teeth,
he reached forward and drew it to him. The door of the dumb-waiter
closed automatically, and he was left alone in the kitchen with the
iceberg in his arms.

How to open the ice-box was a problem. After attempting unsuccessfully
to cajole the catch by fondling it with the corner of the berg, he tried
nudging it with his elbow. It would not take the hint. Indeed, it
refused utterly to move until he got down on his knees before it and
rubbed it with his shoulder.

Finally, however, the door opened, disclosing a rival berg, attended by
a throng of bottles, siphons, and butter-crocks. A cold, inhospitable
crowd they were, resenting any intrusion.

Thus rebuffed, Mr. Brush, who felt as though he were being frozen and
cauterized at the same time, deposited the berg upon the cover of the
wash-tubs. It coasted forward, threatening an avalanche. Clutching it at
the brink, he paused, and wondered what he would do next.

The door-bell saved him the trouble of deciding. He had entirely
forgotten the postman! Setting the berg upon a chair, he scurried out,
and offered him a dollar bill, chattering apologies for the delay.

"Haven't you anything smaller?" asked the postman, impatiently.

"N-no, I d-don't think so."

"Then why did you keep me here all this time? I'll have to come back
later."

He started off.

"Stop! Wait a moment! I'd rather make you a present of the ninety-eight
cents. Oh, glory! that'll have to be gone through with all over again!"

Discouraged and shivering, he leaned against the side of the doorway. In
so doing, his eye fell upon a collection of objects that had been
deposited in front of the sill--the morning newspaper, a bottle of
milk, one of cream, and a bag containing a long loaf of bread. He
stooped over and gathered them up carefully one by one. Just as he had
stowed away the newspaper under one arm and gripped the bag with his
left hand and the two bottles with his right, the chilliness in him
culminated in a sneeze, and everything fell.

Both bottles smashed. Landing just on the sill, they distributed their
contents impartially outside and inside.

Finding that the proportion of the flood that the bread and the
newspaper were able to sop up was small, though they did what they
could, Mr. Brush hastily procured a bucket and rag from the kitchen,
where the ice was indulging in a flood of its own, and set to work
mopping. As he sprawled out into the hallway, gingerly squeezing out
ragfuls of cream and broken glass, the door opposite was opened and a
handsome woman appeared, attired in fashionable street dress. She looked
him straight in the eye.

Mr. Brush clasped his bath-robe to him, made a frenzied recoil, slammed
the door, and collapsed into the pool of milk.

"Henry dear, is breakfast nearly ready?" called his loving wife.

Enraged and dripping, he leaped up with sudden strength, and started for
the bedroom, spluttering incoherent expostulations as he went.

At that moment there was heard the sound of a latch-key, and a grinning
black face appeared.

"Good mawnin', sah. Somefin' seems to be spilt heah."

Fetching a large cloth, she set to work with easy dexterity.

Mr. Brush, fascinated, watched the lake disappear.

"You bes' get dress', sah. Ah'll have yo' breakfas' ready in a couple o'
minutes."

"Thank Heaven you're here, Maria!" he said fervently. "I was almost
afraid you weren't coming."



THE MAN OPPOSITE


Mildred congratulated herself on having conquered her timidity. She had
come all the way down-town by herself, had looked through several stores
until she found just the curtains she wanted; and now, ready to return
home, she got on the 'bus as calmly as though she had been a New Yorker
and a married woman all her life.

It being the rush hour of the afternoon, the conveyance was quite
crowded. Mildred thought at first that she would have to sit on the
backward-facing bench up front, which she disliked; but luckily she
found a place on one of the seats opposite it. A moment later even the
less-desirable bench was occupied.

The person who took the place on it directly facing her was a tall, dark
man of about forty, with piercing black eyes and an aquiline nose.
Mildred kept encountering his glance. There was something about it that
disturbed her. She flushed a little.

His face seemed vaguely, uncomfortably familiar. Where had she seen him
before? She was sure he wasn't anyone who had waited on her in a shop,
nor any of the tradesmen who came to the door of her apartment: he
looked too much the man of the world for that. Neither was he one of the
few friends of her husband whom she had had a chance to meet. She could
not place him. Happiness, and the absorption that goes with it, had made
her oblivious of outside things.

Whoever he was, his glances rendered her more and more ill at ease. She
looked out of the window, she looked up at the advertisements, she
looked down at her lap. No use: she could _feel_ his gaze.

In vain did she reason with herself that he was not staring at her
intentionally, but was merely directing his eyes straight ahead of him,
as anyone might do. No; not even the protecting presence of the other
passengers could reassure her. She felt almost as though she and the
hawk-like stranger were alone in the conveyance.

Several times she thought of getting out and taking another 'bus. But
the evening was growing dark, and she might have to wait a long while in
a part of town she knew nothing about. And suppose he should get off
after her!

The blocks seemed hours apart, the halts at corners interminable.
Passengers got out in twos and threes. _He_ stayed.

Looking down at her hands, which nervously fingered the chain of her
reticule, Mildred hoped and prayed he would go. But he did not.

The people who had shared the bench with him had moved to forward-facing
seats as soon as any were vacant. He remained where he was.

It seemed she had seen that face somewhere--behind her, following her.

This recollection threw her into such a fit of trembling that she let
fall her handkerchief. Before she could recover it, he bent forward with
a quick swooping motion, seized it in his long fingers, and held it out
to her. She took it trembling, hardly able to murmur, "Thank you."

He appeared about to speak.

Mildred rose in terror and retreated hastily to a place several seats
back, across the aisle.

What would he do? Would he follow her? Were his eyes still fixed upon
her? She dared not look; but a reflection in the window pane increased
her fears.

Street after street went by. The last other passenger got off. Still he
stayed. Mildred's furtive observations via the reflecting window pane
never found him looking out to ascertain what part of town it was.
Gradually she was forced to the sickening conviction that he was
watching, not for any particular street, but to see where she would get
off.

As her corner approached, she rang the bell. He rose. She moved quickly
to the door. He followed her, smiling presumingly.

As she stepped down from the platform, her knees were so weak that she
almost fell. Her heart pounded. Instead of running, as her terror
prompted her to, she could with difficulty maintain a panting walk.

The man followed--not hurrying, but relentlessly, like an animal that is
sure of its prey.

When she entered the doorway of the apartment house, he was barely ten
yards behind her. She knew he would turn in also. He did.

If only she could get into the elevator and escape before he arrived!

The car was at one of the upper floors. She rang desperately until it
appeared. The instant the iron door slid back, she flung herself in,
gasping:

"Quick! Take me up quickly!"

"Yes, miss," replied the startled but drowsy elevator boy--as a tall
form passed in after her. Mildred shrank into a corner, quivering.

"Fou'th flo'," announced the boy.

She sprang out. As she staggered totteringly down the dim corridor, she
heard the man step out of the car.

Her latch key! Her latch key! She fumbled frantically in her handbag;
then groped for the lock.

The man drew nearer.

She was helpless, cornered at the end of a dark hallway. Almost
hysterical she let the key fall and closed her eyes.

At that moment the door opposite was unlocked briskly, and a lusty young
voice inside yelled: "Hello, Pappa!"



LUCY THE LITERARY AGENT


[Illustration]

"I know you will agree with me," said Lucy, "that these stories by Perth
Dewar are quite remarkable, quite the most distinctive things of the
kind that have been done in years, and that your readers will like them
immensely."

Ethridge the Editor said nothing. It was unwise to contradict her; for
of all the personal-touch literary agents, Lucy was the
personal-touchiest. So he let her run on and on, trusting that
eventually she would run down. Also she wasn't bad looking--in her
aggressive way.

"You've read them?" she queried suddenly.

"Why, certainly," he lied, glancing with studied casualness at the
Reader's Report slip attached to the blue manuscript cover.

Ethridge never read anything he could possibly avoid reading. He was one
of those successful editors who edit by belonging to the best clubs and
attending the right teas. Mere perusal of manuscripts was not
particularly in his line.

The Report slip said: "Costume stories of Holland in the 17th Century.
Only moderately well done. Not suitable for this magazine."

"Who is this Dewar person, anyhow?" asked Ethridge defensively.

"You mean to say you haven't heard of him? Why, my dear Mr. Ethridge!
Dewar is a man of independent means--lives on his estate down in
Maryland and writes stories between fox hunts. Enormously gifted."

She failed to add, however, that Dewar had offered to let her keep any
money she received for the stories--provided she could get them
printed.

Resting her white elbows on Ethridge's desk and eyeing him with
calculating coyness, Lucy knew that he had not read the stories. She
would make him wonder if she knew he hadn't.

"What do you yourself honestly think of them, Mr. Ethridge? Candidly,
now. You're always so delightfully frank with me, Mr. Ethridge. That's
why it's such a pleasure to deal with you. How did they strike you?"

"Really, Miss Leech, I don't see how in our magazine we could
possibly--"

"Now, Mr. Ethridge!" She held up a reproving finger, laughing roguishly.
"But what's the use of our trying to discuss imaginative literature here
in your busy office with the telephone ringing every moment--or
threatening to ring--and your discouragingly pretty blonde
secretary--the minx!--popping in continually to see if we're behaving!"

Ethridge smiled complacently. Why be an ogre?

"I tell you what. Let's have supper at my studio this evening,"
continued Lucy. "It'll be so much more satisfactory to discuss things
sensibly, without interruption."

So he did, and they did.

At breakfast it was finally decided that the series by Perth Dewar
should consist of ten stories, including four still to be written.

Ethridge salved his conscience by resolving secretly that they should
all be published in the back of the book.

In due course of time the first story appeared. It contained a mean
reference to the Knights of Pythias, or Mormonism, or a former
Vice-President of the United States, or something; for which reason the
issue containing it was suppressed.

Whereupon the buried issue became a Living Issue. The intelligentsia
rushed to the rescue with highbrow hue and cry. Round robins were
circulated. Newspaper columnists got sarcastic. Liberal cliques
chittered. Perth Dewar became suddenly significant.

The issue containing the second story was sold out the day it appeared.

By the time the third one was out, Professor Lion Whelps, of Yale,
proved in an article in the Sunday _Times_, that Dewar's attitude toward
women was like Turgeniev's, and Professor Brando Methuseleh, of
Columbia, discovered he had cadences. Sinclair Lewis inserted a mention
of him in the forty-ninth edition of "Babbitt." Nine British novelists
hurried over to lecture on him.

And Ethridge?

He was made. In acknowledgement of his peerless editorial acumen that
could discern true genius at a glance, the directors of the magazine
doubled his salary and gave him a bonus to keep him from being coaxed
away by the "Saturday Evening Pictorial."

And Lucy?

Ethridge married her to keep her quiet.



THE CREEPING FINGERS


[Illustration: Decorative letter "M"]

Mrs. Whoffin's figure resembled that of the punch-bowl behind which she
was standing: it was broad and squat, with a slight tapering at the
base. And her mind was like the punch: sweetish and characterless, with
scrappy rinds of things floating about in it. Each guest who presented a
cup received the same dipperful and the same set of remarks.

"Good evening. I'm _so_ glad you could come! I just love hearing
ghost-stories, don't you? See that log over there?" She pointed to a
huge gray hulk that lay at the side of the open fireplace. "That's _real
driftwood_, and it ought to give just the right kind of light. I found
it myself on the beach, and had the gardener bring it home in a
wheelbarrow. Look, it's all honeycombed with age."

A tall, serious-looking young man stepped forward and extended his
glass. He knew that that was the way to please her, and she was the
woman who he hoped and feared would be his mother-in-law.

She beamed.

"Do have another, Mr. Carson."

He did; for he was in a desperate mood. He was to leave for the city on
the early morning train, and this evening would be his last chance to
propose to Polly for several months. Somehow, despite his best efforts,
the psychological moment had never arrived.

Just then Polly sailed into the room, fresh and rosy, in a flutter of
white muslin. He put down the glass and hurried over to her.

"Good evening, Polly," he said in an ardent undertone. "Couldn't you
slip away from this crowd and take a stroll on the beach?"

"No, George; I'm hostess tonight." She shook her head, including some
airy little curls, which seemed to make light of her refusal. "We are
all to gather around the hearth and listen to the stories." Then she
added teasingly, "Besides, it is in your honor that mother is giving
this party."

"Yes; she's very kind, I'm sure," he said awkwardly.

"Think of all the trouble she has taken over that log!"

Carson faced her with squared jaw.

"Listen to me, Polly. There is something serious I want to talk to you
about. Before I leave you, I--"

"Polly," called Mrs. Whoffin, "isn't it time to begin?"

"Perhaps it is," she answered innocently. "What do you think, George?"

"I think the story-telling might as well begin at once," he said
stiffly.

A few minutes later all lights were turned out. The score of young
people had settled themselves about the room in comfortable attitudes,
some on chairs and sofas, some on cushions on the floor, while in the
midst of them sat the narrator, a girl of eighteen, who affected a deep
morbidity. Gazing into the fire, she began her tale as though she were
in a trance.

Carson sulkily picked his way after Polly toward a seat beside the
hearth. Just as he was reaching it, he tripped over something bulky.

"Why, that's my log!" exclaimed Mrs. Whoffin, from the back of the room.
"Dear! dear! Why hasn't anyone put it on the fire?" The story waited
while Mrs. Whoffin scurried forward and personally supervised the
placing of the log upon the andirons, and then sat down beside the
hearth opposite Polly.

"Do go on!" cried several voices. "You stopped in the most exciting
part."

The narrator, looking daggers at Mrs. Whoffin, paused long enough to
show that she didn't _have_ to go on unless she wanted to, and then
resumed her tale:

"Suddenly, as he lay there in the haunted room, on the very bed where
the old man had been murdered, he felt an invisible hand on the
bedclothes."

Mrs. Whoffin shuddered, and a large black ant peered out of a hole in
the log to see what was going on.

"Then he felt a second hand more terrifying than the first."

Beholding his home in flames, the ant rushed back indoors to spread the
alarm. Along the highways of the interior he sped, a second Paul Revere,
rousing the sleeping insects, of which there were many.

"Oh!" groaned Mrs. Whoffin.

The exodus of Paul's friends proceeded in orderly fashion. "Larvæ and
eggs first," was their order. Carrying their infants upon their backs,
they filed out of the subway openings in steady processions.

"The hands clutched the covers just above his feet. Fear paralyzed him
so that he could neither move nor cry out."

A party of refugees applied to Mrs. Whoffin for shelter. She was so
absorbed in the story that she did not see them.

"Then the fingers began to creep up and up, up and up. His flesh tingled
with horror."

Mrs. Whoffin quivered like an aspen leaf. She breathed hard, her eyes
nearly popping. Other people began to feel creepy.

"They clutched his knee, and--"

Mrs. Whoffin uttered a piercing shriek, and clasped her knee with both
hands. She was invaded. Then Polly screamed, and Carson began to slap
himself on various parts of the anatomy. There was a general panic.
Girls squealed and, clambering frantically upon chairs, shook out their
lifted skirts; young men stamped about wildly, mashing ants and people's
toes in equal numbers. Mrs. Whoffin, tormented from head to foot,
galloped in circles, moaning, "Oh mercy! Oh mercy!"

"Save me, George!" cried Polly, clinging to his arm.

"Yes, darling!" he answered fervently. If the ants had been raging
bulls, he would have saved her from them; but they were ants, and their
ways were devious. He hesitated, slapping himself thoughtfully.

"Turn on the lights!" yelled some one.

"No! Don't!" screamed half a dozen shrill voices.

"Save me!" repeated Polly, distractedly. "I can't stand this any longer!
I'll perish!"

Struck with a swift inspiration, he caught her up in his arms and
started for the door. She made no resistance. Out of the room he
carried her, then through the front hall, and down the front steps.

Half-way down the walk she asked:

"Where are you taking me?"

"To the ocean."

"Why, you clever boy!"

People sitting on the verandas of neighboring cottages saw in he
moonlight a sight that electrified them with horror. A powerful looking
maniac, with a helpless woman in his arms, strode across the beach and
began to wade out into the water. Hoping to save her, they ran to the
shore and put out in boats and canoes.

"Oh," sighed the victim, blissfully, as Carson let her down into the
water, "it feels so cool--and _quiet_!"

"Polly!"

"George!"

"Row harder, Doctor!" cried the steersman of the nearest boat. "He's
trying to strangle her!"



THE MAN WITH THE HOSE


A feeling of elation is like a feeling of alcohol. Under its stimulus a
person may do the most brilliant things--and also the most grotesque.

It was just this feeling that took hold of Jack Carrington when the
senior member of the firm invited him to dine at his apartment on the
following evening and meet "Mrs. Stockbridge and my daughter." During
all the rest of the day the young
college-man-learning-how-to-work-in-an-office fairly walked on air, and
that night, in his hall bedroom, he went through a sort of
dress-rehearsal of the rôle he hoped to play on the great occasion,
resuscitating and donning his evening clothes to make sure that they
looked as well as they did when he led the commencement prom six months
before, and marshaling all the bons mots he could recollect, in order
that his supply of "extempore" witticisms might be adequate.

Still buoyed up by this feeling of elation, Carrington presented
himself next evening at the door of the sumptuous apartment-house where
the boss lived, gave his name to one of the liveried grandees in
attendance, and was shown up to E 4, a gorgeous duplex suite half as
large as a house, and renting for twice as much.

Everything went off splendidly. The boss unbent to a surprising degree,
Mrs. Stockbridge was most cordial, and the daughter proved to be a
fascinator. What was more, Carrington surpassed himself as a social
light. He told several funny stories with considerable éclat; and
inspired by the thrill of the occasion, even thought up one or two
_original_ ones that surprised him as much as they impressed his hosts.
When, later in the evening, he played bridge as the daughter's partner,
he had a rush of hearts and aces to the hand. He made slams big and
little at such a rate that Miss Stockbridge complimented him upon his
skill. Consequently, when, after two victorious rubbers, he bid his
hosts good night and noted from their effusiveness that he had made a
very favorable impression, it was no wonder that he already pictured
himself a member of the firm and the boss's son-in-law.

As the door of the apartment closed behind him, he heaved a sigh of
triumph. He felt like shouting or doing something violent. Tingling with
pride, he strutted down the hallway toward the elevator.

A shining brass fire-nozzle, jutting out provokingly from a coil of
hose, attracted his attention. It looked so like the head of some absurd
animal that he couldn't help poking his finger into its mouth as he went
by. His finger stuck.

Facing the nozzle squarely and taking hold of it with his free left
hand, he pulled more carefully. Still it stuck. The finger was beginning
to swell and turn red. He tugged it harder, with no result.

Concluding that lubrication was necessary, he leaned over and licked it,
acquiring a strong brass taste upon his tongue. Then he pulled hard.
More swelling.

By this time he was in a perspiration of misery. He paused and tried to
think clearly, but his mind, which had scintillated all evening, was
now a blur. His first lucid thought was that he must unscrew the nozzle
from the hose. Why, of course! How simple! But when he tried turning the
coupling of the hose, the nozzle insisted on turning with it, and his
imprisoned finger was averse to revolving.

Lapsing again into rueful speculation, he tried desperately to devise
some means of regaining his liberty. Why not go ring the elevator bell?
No; that was around the bend of the corridor, and his tether probably
would not reach that far; and, besides, it would be awful to have to
explain his plight to a liveried dignitary like the one who had convoyed
him up. And suppose the elevator should arrive full of plutocrats coming
home from the opera, or high-strung women who would shriek when they saw
him with the fire-hose?

No, that could never be risked. He must think of something else. A
little olive-oil would probably do the trick, but how could he get it?
If he had thought of that at first and gone right back and asked for it,
it wouldn't have been so bad; but now, after nearly half an hour, his
hosts were probably in bed. No, it was too late to ring their door-bell
now.

Suddenly an ingenious idea occurred to him: he would turn on the water
and _squirt_ his finger out! Splendid! He reached up and turned the
wheel. It made a mournful creaking sound, but no water came through the
coil of hose. "It must be shut off downstairs," he thought.

Thanks to the incessant sting of his finger and the maddening
exasperation of the predicament he was in, Carrington was nearly
frantic.

"Oh," he exclaimed, "I'll have to disturb them for that oil sooner or
later, so I'd better do it right off."

With that he started for the boss's door, trailing the hose after him.
His heart thumped as he rang the bell. Standing in close to the wall, he
kept the nozzle behind his back, thinking it better to explain before
displaying his appendage.

There was a sound of slippered feet, and, from the opposite direction, a
sound of slipping hose. The door was unlocked, and the remainder of the
canvas-and-rubber coil that had kept back the water unrolled down upon
the floor.

"Who's there?" growled Mr. Stockbridge, arrayed in a bath-robe and
squinting out into the dimly lighted corridor without his glasses.

Mortification seemed to paralyze Carrington's speech. Bringing the
nozzle forward abjectly, so that Mr. Stockbridge could see his plight,
he faltered:

"I--"

At that moment his finger was shot like a bullet from a gun, and the
ensuing stream of water caught Mr. Stockbridge squarely in the throat.

Simultaneously, a supreme inspiration came to Carrington.

"I'm a _fireman_," he cried in a disguised voice. "Wake your family at
once!"

Whereupon, as Mr. Stockbridge rushed back into the apartment,
Carrington, dropping the hose, made a thrilling rescue of himself down
the stairway, and darted into the street before the drowsy dignitary in
the vestibule could raise his head.



JANGLES



THOSE SYMPHONY CONCERT PROGRAMS


_METROPOLITAN SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA_

OTTO CULMBACHER, _Conductor_

FELICE ELEFANTINE, _Soloiste of the evening_


  I. GASTRONOMIC SYMPHONY--_Kovik-Bordunov_

  (a) Allegretti
  (b) Pistachio
  (c) Chianti
  (d) Risotto, con aglio

   II. LARGHETTO _Culmbacher_

  III. ARIA FROM "IL CAMPANILE" _Gondola_
      (SIGNORINA ELEFANTINE)

(_The Hardwood Piano is used_)

       *       *       *       *       *

CRITICAL COMMENTS ON THE NUMBERS

I. _Gastronomic Symphony_. It is not certain when Ptior Kovik-Bordunov
was born. His parents, being thrifty peasants, put him in a basket and
left him on the steppes of Russia. Adopted by a Russian Princess, named
Caviar Vodka, he was raised as if he had been her own dog. His early
musical inclination was so pronounced that he was sent to the Warsaw
Conservatory, where he served three terms. Soon after being released
from this institution he wrote "Samovar," the opera that made him
famous. "Samovar" so pleased the Czar that young Bordunov was given a
pension and a bath. But alas! either his sudden success or the bath so
affected his mind, that from that time on the authorities were obliged
to keep him in confinement. The above symphony was written on the walls
of his cell, from which it was transcribed after his suicide. It depicts
the blight of all his hopes, the sorrows of Russia, the drowning of his
fiancée, the height of the steppes, and the agonies of indigestion.

The Allegretti opens with an arabesque tone-poem of somber sweetness,
under which strange and varied delights are hidden. Then comes the minor
Pistachio, weirdly oriental in color. This is followed by the
tempestuous and maddening Chianti. Last of all comes the terrible
Risotto, con aglio. Here we have an example of the insight of genius! By
itself, the Risotto con aglio would be almost mild; but coming as it
does on top of the Allegretti, the Pistachio, and the Chianti, it is
bound to produce a truly tragic finale.

II. _Larghetto_. This étude is by the conductor. (He thought this would
be a good place to work it in, the orchestra and audience being
powerless to restrain him.)

Herr Otto Fédor Ivan Culmbacher was born of noble parents in Hofbräu,
Silesia. He was discovered and imported to America by the brilliant
patronesses of the Metropolitan Symphony Society.

A larghetto is a little largo--one without a handel. A composer writes a
larghetto when he feels something like writing a largo but isn't, on the
whole, quite up to it.

III. _Aria from "Il Campanile."_ This opera, though well known in
Budapest and South America, is practically unknown in the United States.
The aria, "O belli spaghetti," is so vocally exacting that to sing its
bird-like notes a prima donna should diet for weeks on bird seed. Here
are the words--which are repeated fourteen times in the course of the
aria.

THE ITALIAN             THE TRANSLATION

O belli spaghetti,      Had I the wings of a dove,

O bianchi confetti.     I would fly, I would fly to my love.

Bananni, bananni,       I would fly, I would fly,

E tutti frutti--        Through the sky, through the sky,

O bianchi confetti!     I would fly, I would fly to my love!

(_She waddles off_)



HOW TO KNOW THE INSTRUMENTS

     (Editor's Note.--The following observations, if carefully studied,
     will enable the intelligent concertgoer to tell the difference
     between an orchestra and a dress circle.)


The principal instrument in music is the violin. This instrument is held
fast under the performer's double chin and then tickled in the gut with
a strand of horse hair until it cries out. Which cruel treatment reacts
on its disposition, so that, as the little violin grows up into a
'cello, it becomes gloomy and morose; and when, after a life of nagging,
it reaches old age as a crabbed double bass and is relegated to the back
of the orchestra, it spends its resentment in querulous grumbling.

Further from the conductor than the violins, and, consequently, more
intermittent in their playing, are the Tootle family. Grandfather
Tootle, the bassoon, spends his time in dozing: all you can hear from
him is an occasional snore. Mrs. Tootle, the flute, is of a romantic
turn of mind, doting on moonlight and warbling birds and babbling
brooks. She prides herself on her limpid utterance, and admonishes her
little son Piccolo not to talk through his nose like Cousin Oboe Tootle.
Her husband, the bass clarinet, takes himself very seriously--and no
wonder, for to him falls the unpleasant duty of announcing bad news,
such as that the hero has just died, or that the act is only half over.

Quite remote from the conductor are the mysterious somethings that live
in kettle-drums. What they are no one knows; but a watchful keeper bends
over and listens to them, and whenever, despite his constant
cork-screwing, they show signs of aggressiveness, he beats them into
submission with a brace of bottle-mops. If this is not sufficient, he
calls in an assistant, who cows them with the roar of a whanging Chinese
stewpan.

Somewhat nearer the conductor, but yet far enough away to be able to
resist his authority until threatened with his stick, are the horns, the
most vehement members of the orchestra. A blast from them, besides
waking up the audience, always means something. For example, the martial
sound of a trumpet heralds the approach of a conqueror or a
scissors-grinder.

The old-fashioned hunting horn, from which the modern orchestral horn is
descended, was very simple indeed. In those days every one was supposed
to wind his horn, instead of buying it already wound, as we do now.

Yet the modern pretzelized horn is still adapted for hunting purposes.
Take as large a horn as you can conveniently carry (a 42-centimetre tuba
is preferable) and stand under a tree, with the muzzle pointing up at
the bird you desire to hunt. Then play "Silver Threads Among the Gold"
for two hours and ten minutes, and the bird will fall lifeless into the
horn.



NOTES ON PIANOS


[Illustration]

A piano is an instrument with eighty-eight keys and twenty installments.
You play on the keys and pay on the installments--the latter being by
far the more difficult performance. If you do not play in time, you are
called down by your critics; if you do not pay on time, you are called
on by your collectors.

The keys are arranged in two rows--short, fat blondes in front, and
tall, skinny brunettes behind. There are three pedals (one for each
foot, and one for good measure): the damper pedal (or muffler cut-out),
which puts an end to conversation; the sostenuto pedal, which helps the
piano sustain what it has to sustain; and the soft pedal, which is
seldom used, and then only by request.

There are two kinds of pianos--uprights and prostrates. Uprights are
used in homes where there is standing room only. Prostrates are used in
concert halls--virtuosi prefer them, because they can hit a piano much
harder when it is down. The upright piano is frequently pitched in A
flat. It remains there till pitched out by the neighbors.

An advantage that this piano possesses is that it keeps the player's
back turned to his hearers, which is a great saving to his feelings.
Another advantage is that the top serves as a mantelpiece annex;
bric-a-brac that won't stand heat but will stand noise is put there.
Anything is appropriate--cupids, shepherdesses, brass bowls, painted
vases. The only requirement for a place on this repository is that the
object be able to make some buzzing, twanging, wheezing, or humming
sound when the strings are struck.

Prostrates are built for endurance. Their black finish bespeaks the hard
life they lead.

A conflict between one of these indestructible pianos and an
irresistible pianist is called a recital. A non-combatant lifts the lid,
and the fight begins. FIRST ROUND: _Nocturne_. (Merely warming up.)
SECOND ROUND: _Etude_. (Livelier, but not much heavy hitting.) THIRD
ROUND: _Scherzo_. (Considerably hotter; fighting in close.) FOURTH
ROUND: _Appassionato_. (Real slugging.) FIFTH ROUND: _Rhapsodie_. (Piano
receives fearful punishment. Knocked out in final cadenza, but pianist
sprains wrist.)

In learning to play the piano, the first thing to acquire is a good
touch, or tread (as it is properly called). Unfortunately, there is a
divergence of opinion among authorities as to what a good tread consists
in; the famous dictum of Prof. Biffski, of Moscow Conservatory, that you
should hammer the hammers, being offset by the equally famous assertion
of Hieronimus Dudelsack, the noted Viennese pedagogue, that you should
not strike the ivories at all, but massage, or knead them. Herr
Dudelsack and his eminent pupils maintain that his tread is the only
normal one, that it has the naturalness of a cat's walking on the
keyboard. But the astute Russian insinuates that it produces tangled
chords and scales that are short-weight.

But these methods have been rendered obsolete by the heel-and-toe
technique of the playerpiano. This wonderful instrument, impregnating
the feet with melody and rhythm, has given rise to the modern dances.
For a person who makes a habit of playing the pianola simply _has_ to
toddle the music out of his ankles.

Even more remarkable is the way in which the piano-footy has simplified
musical composition. The masters of the past had to toil away painfully
with pen and ink; whereas the composer of today can attain the same
results with a roll of paper and a ticket-punch. Judging from the
progress we have made and are still making, it is safe to predict that
the composer of the future will use a shotgun.



THE LIFE-DRAMA OF A MUSICAL CRITIC

IN FOUR CLIPPINGS


_I. ADOLESCENCE_

From the Centerville "Clarion":

LOCAL TALENT MAKES SPLENDID SHOWING

The concert held last evening in Masonic Hall was a great success. It
certainly showed what Centerville could do in a musical line. From the
opening duet, played by Miss Violet and Miss Nancy Stubbs, to the very
end of the program, the audience seemed to thoroughly enjoy every
number. But the feature of the evening was the singing by Mr. Harry
Bowers of "Rocked in the Cradle of the Deep." This noble song gave the
popular young druggist an opportunity to display his remarkable low
notes. Another person deserving of special mention was Miss Helen Smith,
who, attractively dressed in pink and carrying a bouquet of fresh
flowers, rendered "The Rosary" with great effect. All in all, the
concert was a great event, and a considerable amount of money was raised
toward the new fire-engine.

  ABRAHAM LINCOLN SIMPSON,
    Music and Art Critic.

[Illustration]


_II. EFFERVESCENCE_

From the "New York Chronicle":

GOTHAM ORCHESTRA PLAYS SCHNITZEL

Warmth of Oriental Color

Adolf Schnitzel's symphonic poem "Aus Bengalien," which was admirably
performed last evening by the Gotham Symphony Orchestra, shows a
masterly understanding of the folk-music of India. The Bengalese have
from the earliest times been noted for their proficience in the arts.
Their principal instrument is the _bimbam_, an elongated drum, played
upon with any convenient article, such as an elephant's tusk or the bone
of an ancestor. When struck at one end, it emits the sound _bim_; when
struck at the other, a clear-toned _bam_ is produced: hence its curious
name. The following melody, known as the "War-Song of Prince Brahmadan,"
gives one an idea of the capacity of this instrument:

  Bim-bim-bam, bim-bam-bim.

The chorus is also characteristic:

  Bim, bim!

At the religious ceremonies of the Bengalese, the Futrib, or high
priest, plays upon a peculiar one-toned flute, producing an effect of
awe and mystery, as this hymn to the sun-god aptly illustrates:

  Too--oo--t!
  Toot, toot-a-toot, toot-a-toot, toot;
  Too--oo--t!

With this wealth of material to draw from, Schnitzel has constructed a
work that is nearly perfect in form. Beginning with a soft
_bim-bam-bim_, which is followed by a sinister _toot, toot_, he works up
to a climax of marvelous contrapuntal ingenuity, in which the two themes
are combined thus:

  Bim, toot, bam, toot-a-toot,

Truly the apotheosis of Bengal!

A. L. S.


_III. ACQUIESCENCE_

From the "New York Chronicle":

"WASHINGTON" REPEATED

Last night was a brilliant one at the opera. "Washington," the new
American music-drama, was given for the second time, with the same cast
as before.

Among those who attended the performance were Mrs. Pierpont Astorbilt,
who wore pale nesserole garnished with soufflée; Mr. and Mrs.
Plantagenet Carter, the latter in an exquisite creation of blanc-mange;
and Mrs. Sibley Harwood-Stevens, in gray limousine, air-cooled with
insertion.

Mrs. Reginald Carrington's guests were Lord and Lady Shrewby and the Duc
de Vaurien. The latter wore a black dress-suit and a white shirt.

Mrs. Gaybird was present for the first time since the death of her
husband. She wore her skirt at half-mast.

(_Unsigned_)


_IV. SENESCENCE_

[Illustration]

From the New York "Evening Spot":

BASSOON CONCERT A RELIEF FROM MODERNISM

BY A. LINCOLN SIMPSON

New York is suffering from a plethora of concerts. The fact that the
halls are generally crowded is no excuse for giving so many
performances. It is unfair to the critics.

Yesterday afternoon, at the concert of the Gotham Symphony Society
Ludwig Käse played that great German master-work, the Leberwurst bassoon
concerto in F-flat major, opus posthumous. ("Posthumous" does not in
this case have its usual meaning of written after the defunction of the
composer's brain: it refers to the fact that Leberwurst did not live to
publish the work, as his audience lynched him when he played it from
manuscript.) This concerto, dedicated to the composer's patron, the deaf
old Duke of Pretzelheim, bears the title of "Spring," and this vernal
quality was admirably brought out by Herr Käse, particularly in the
movement representing influenza. Indeed, it was impossible to hear his
sublime sniffulations without being moved to profound coughing.

François Grisé's "Gingerbread Suite," scored for viola, piccolo,
trombone, and celesta, might have been interesting had it been more of a
novelty; but, since it had been heard in New York five times within four
years, its performance on this occasion was a mistake.

The program included also a symphonic rhapsody on cow-boy melodies. As
this is by an obscure native composer and has never been heard before,
there is nothing to say about it.

[Illustration: _Even people sitting behind pillars can enjoy her._]



THE SURVIVAL OF THE FATTEST


There is no lightweight championship in opera. Stars of the first
magnitude are of very considerable magnitude--300 pounds and up. In this
class are the expensive prima donnas and heroic tenors (the term
"heroic" referring to their efforts to move about the stage). The second
magnitude--250 to 299 pounds--includes "jilted beauty" mezzo-sopranos
and "hated rival" baritones. The third magnitude (of which no one takes
any notice)--under 250 pounds--is made up of "confidante" contraltos and
"noble father" bassos.

Thus, it will readily be seen that fat and fame are synonymous. For, in
navigating the high C's, latitude is far more important than longitude.

Italian opera was made possible by the discovery of spaghetti, the
serpentine food that produces coloratura tissue. A few miles of this
swallowed daily will keep the palate _leggiero_ and the figure
_larghissimo_.

In like manner, beer is responsible for the national opera of Germany.
Who would have heard of Wagner if Pilsener had never been invented?
Where could Wagner have found his massive Brunhildes, his slow-dying
Tristans?

Here lies the secret of the failure of our national music drama--we have
spaghetti opera and beer opera, but no opera built on an American food.
Emaciated from a diet of pebbly cereals and grape juice, our art still
awaits the invention of the great American fattener.

For fat constitutes the wonder of opera. When a diva who looks like a
hippo surprises us by singing like a canary--_that_ is something
remarkable. When a languid mass of blubber, for whom the very act of
standing would seem a supreme accomplishment, displays the lung energy
of a steam calliope and the vocal endurance of a peanut-stand
whistle--we are astonished, overcome.

And fat robs the tragic ending of its depression. The sight of a
normally-built woman expiring of heartbreak, or any other favorite
operatic death, would be most distressing; but the spectacle of a
four-hundred pound consumptive, on a thickly-padded canvas-and-steel
rock, breathing forth her everlasting last, like a moping walrus on a
cake of ice--such a spectacle does not disturb us in the least, for we
realize that all she needs is a fan.

Indeed, the fattest never die. After a prima donna is no longer able to
manoeuver over the operatic stage, she toddles along the carpet of the
concert platform, tugging her train like a double-expansion
freight-engine, while the audience applauds from sheer amazement. She is
an immense success--even people sitting behind posts can see her.

Thin singers perish and are forgotten (there never were any, anyhow);
but the gloriously fat ones sing on forever. When Judgment Day comes and
the angel blows his trumpet, he will have to toot it with Wagnerian fury
plus Straussian blatancy if he hopes to be heard above the aigretted and
tiaraed dodos who are still on the yell.





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