Literary Lapses
Stephen Leacock

Part 2 out of 3

"Why, to thwart it."

"To thwart what?"

"Thwart the whole darned thing," Sinclair exclaimed

"But can't she thwart it without her domino?"

"I should think not! You see, if it hadn't been for the
domino, the Dog would have spotted her quick as a wink.
Only when he sees her in the domino with this rose in
her hair, he thinks she must be Lucia dell' Esterolla."

"Say, he fools himself, doesn't he? Who's this last girl?"

"Lucia? Oh, she's great!" Sinclair said. "She's one of
those Southern natures, you know, full of--er--full of..."

"Full of fun," I suggested.

"Oh, hang it all, don't make fun of it! Well, anyhow,
she's sister, you understand, to the Contessa Carantarata,
and that's why Fra Fraliccolo, or... hold on, that's not
it, no, no, she's not sister to anybody. She's cousin,
that's it; or, anyway, she thinks she is cousin to Fra
Fraliccolo himself, and that's why Pio tries to stab Fra

"Oh, yes," I assented, "naturally he would."

"Ah," Sinclair said hopefully, getting his paper-cutter
ready to cut the next pages, "you begin to get the thread
now, don't you?"

"Oh, fine!" I said. "The people in it are the Dog and
Pio, and Carlo Carlotti the Condottiere, and those others
that we spoke of."

"That's right," Sinclair said. "Of course, there are more
still that I can tell you about if..."

"Oh, never mind," I said, "I'll work along with those,
they're a pretty representative crowd. Then Porphirio is
under Pio's thumb, and Pio is under Demonio's thumb, and
the Dog is crafty, and Lucia is full of something all
the time. Oh, I've got a mighty clear idea of it," I
concluded bitterly.

"Oh, you've got it," Sinclair said, "I knew you'd like
it. Now we'll go on. I'll just finish to the bottom of
my page and then I'll go on aloud."

He ran his eyes rapidly over the lines till he came to
the bottom of the page, then he cut the leaves and turned
over. I saw his eye rest on the half-dozen lines that
confronted him on the next page with an expression of
utter consternation.

"Well, I will be cursed!" he said at length.

"What's the matter?" I said gently, with a great joy at
my heart.

"This infernal thing's a serial," he gasped, as he pointed
at the words, "To be continued," "and that's all there
is in this number."

Telling His Faults

"Oh, do, Mr. Sapling," said the beautiful girl at the
summer hotel, "do let me read the palm of your hand! I
can tell you all your faults."

Mr. Sapling gave an inarticulate gurgle and a roseate
flush swept over his countenance as he surrendered his
palm to the grasp of the fair enchantress.

"Oh, you're just full of faults, just full of them, Mr.
Sapling!" she cried.

Mr. Sapling looked it.

"To begin with," said the beautiful girl, slowly and
reflectingly, "you are dreadfully cynical: you hardly
believe in anything at all, and you've utterly no faith
in us poor women."

The feeble smile that had hitherto kindled the features
of Mr. Sapling into a ray of chastened imbecility, was
distorted in an effort at cynicism.

"Then your next fault is that you are too determined;
much too determined. When once you have set your will on
any object, you crush every obstacle under your feet."

Mr. Sapling looked meekly down at his tennis shoes, but
began to feel calmer, more lifted up. Perhaps he had been
all these things without knowing it.

"Then you are cold and sarcastic."

Mr. Sapling attempted to look cold and sarcastic. He
succeeded in a rude leer.

"And you're horribly world-weary, you care for nothing.
You have drained philosophy to the dregs, and scoff at

Mr. Sapling's inner feeling was that from now on he would
simply scoff and scoff and scoff.

"Your only redeeming quality is that you are generous.
You have tried to kill even this, but cannot. Yes,"
concluded the beautiful girl, "those are your faults,
generous still, but cold, cynical, and relentless. Good
night, Mr. Sapling."

And resisting all entreaties the beautiful girl passed
from the verandah of the hotel and vanished.

And when later in the evening the brother of the beautiful
girl borrowed Mr. Sapling's tennis racket, and his bicycle
for a fortnight, and the father of the beautiful girl
got Sapling to endorse his note for a couple of hundreds,
and her uncle Zephas borrowed his bedroom candle and used
his razor to cut up a plug of tobacco, Mr. Sapling felt
proud to be acquainted with the family.

Winter Pastimes

It is in the depth of winter, when the intense cold
renders it desirable to stay at home, that the really
Pleasant Family is wont to serve invitations upon a few
friends to spend a Quiet Evening.

It is at these gatherings that that gay thing, the indoor
winter game, becomes rampant. It is there that the old
euchre deck and the staring domino become fair and
beautiful things; that the rattle of the Loto counter
rejoices the heart, that the old riddle feels the sap
stirring in its limbs again, and the amusing spilikin
completes the mental ruin of the jaded guest. Then does
the Jolly Maiden Aunt propound the query: What is the
difference between an elephant and a silk hat? Or declare
that her first is a vowel, her second a preposition, and
her third an archipelago. It is to crown such a quiet
evening, and to give the finishing stroke to those of
the visitors who have not escaped early, with a fierce
purpose of getting at the saloons before they have time
to close, that the indoor game or family reservoir of
fun is dragged from its long sleep. it is spread out upon
the table. Its paper of directions is unfolded. Its cards,
its counters, its pointers and its markers are distributed
around the table, and the visitor forces a look of reckless
pleasure upon his face. Then the "few simple directions
" are read aloud by the Jolly Aunt, instructing each
player to challenge the player holding the golden letter
corresponding to the digit next in order, to name a dead
author beginning with X, failing which the player must
declare himself in fault, and pay the forfeit of handing
over to the Jolly Aunt his gold watch and all his money,
or having a hot plate put down his neck.

With a view to bringing some relief to the guests at
entertainments of this kind, I have endeavoured to
construct one or two little winter pastimes of a novel
character. They are quite inexpensive, and as they need
no background of higher arithmetic or ancient history,
they are within reach of the humblest intellect. Here is
one of them. It is called Indoor Football, or Football
without a Ball.

In this game any number of players, from fifteen to
thirty, seat themselves in a heap on any one player,
usually the player next to the dealer. They then challenge
him to get up, while one player stands with a stop-watch
in his hand and counts forty seconds. Should the first
player fail to rise before forty seconds are counted,
the player with the watch declares him suffocated. This
is called a "Down" and counts one. The player who was
the Down is then leant against the wall; his wind is
supposed to be squeezed out. The player called the referee
then blows a whistle and the players select another player
and score a down off him. While the player is supposed
to be down, all the rest must remain seated as before,
and not rise from him until the referee by counting forty
and blowing his whistle announces that in his opinion
the other player is stifled. He is then leant against
the wall beside the first player. When the whistle again
blows the player nearest the referee strikes him behind
the right ear. This is a "Touch," and counts two.

It is impossible, of course, to give all the rules in
detail. I might add, however, that while it counts TWO
to strike the referee, to kick him counts THREE. To break
his arm or leg counts FOUR, and to kill him outright is
called GRAND SLAM and counts one game.

Here is another little thing that I have worked out,
which is superior to parlour games in that it combines
their intense excitement with sound out-of-door exercise.

It is easily comprehended, and can be played by any number
of players, old and young. It requires no other apparatus
than a trolley car of the ordinary type, a mile or two
of track, and a few thousand volts of electricity. It is

The Suburban Trolley Car
A Holiday Game for Old and Young.

The chief part in the game is taken by two players who
station themselves one at each end of the car, and who
adopt some distinctive costumes to indicate that they
are "it." The other players occupy the body of the car,
or take up their position at intervals along the track.

The object of each player should be to enter the car as
stealthily as possible in such a way as to escape the
notice of the players in distinctive dress. Should he
fail to do this he must pay the philopena or forfeit. Of
these there are two: philopena No. 1, the payment of five
cents, and philopena No. 2, being thrown off the car by
the neck. Each player may elect which philopena he will
pay. Any player who escapes paying the philopena scores

The players who are in the car may elect to adopt a
standing attitude; or to seat themselves, but no player
may seat himself in the lap of another without the second
player's consent. The object of those who elect to remain
standing is to place their feet upon the toes of those
who sit; when they do this they score. The object of
those who elect to sit is to elude the feet of the standing
players. Much merriment is thus occasioned.

The player in distinctive costume at the front of the
car controls a crank, by means of which he is enabled to
bring the car to a sudden stop, or to cause it to plunge
violently forward. His aim in so doing is to cause all
the standing players to fall over backward. Every time
he does this he scores. For this purpose he is generally
in collusion with the other player in distinctive costume,
whose business it is to let him know by a series of bells
and signals when the players are not looking, and can be
easily thrown down. A sharp fall of this sort gives rise
to no end of banter and good-natured drollery, directed
against the two players who are "it."

Should a player who is thus thrown backward save himself
from falling by sitting down in the lap of a female
player, he scores one. Any player who scores in this
manner is entitled to remain seated while he may count
six, after which he must remove himself or pay philopena
No. 2.

Should the player who controls the crank perceive a player
upon the street desirous of joining in the game by entering
the car, his object should be: primo, to run over him
and kill him; secundo, to kill him by any other means in
his power; tertio, to let him into the car, but to exact
the usual philopena.

Should a player, in thus attempting to get on the car
from without, become entangled in the machinery, the
player controlling the crank shouts "huff!" and the car
is supposed to pass over him. All within the car score

A fine spice of the ludicrous may be added to the game
by each player pretending that he has a destination or
stopping-place, where he would wish to alight. It now
becomes the aim of the two players who are "it" to carry
him past his point. A player who is thus carried beyond
his imaginary stopping-place must feign a violent passion,
and imitate angry gesticulations. He may, in addition,
feign a great age or a painful infirmity, which will be
found to occasion the most convulsive fun for the other
players in the game.

These are the main outlines of this most amusing pastime.
Many other agreeable features may, of course, be readily
introduced by persons of humour and imagination.

Number Fifty-Six

What I narrate was told me one winter's evening by my
friend Ah-Yen in the little room behind his laundry.
Ah-Yen is a quiet little celestial with a grave and
thoughtful face, and that melancholy contemplative
disposition so often noticed in his countrymen. Between
myself and Ah-Yen there exists a friendship of some years'
standing, and we spend many a long evening in the dimly
lighted room behind his shop, smoking a dreamy pipe
together and plunged in silent meditation. I am chiefly
attracted to my friend by the highly imaginative cast of
his mind, which is, I believe, a trait of the Eastern
character and which enables him to forget to a great
extent the sordid cares of his calling in an inner life
of his own creation. Of the keen, analytical side of his
mind, I was in entire ignorance until the evening of
which I write.

The room where we sat was small and dingy, with but little
furniture except our chairs and the little table at which
we filled and arranged our pipes, and was lighted only
by a tallow candle. There were a few pictures on the
walls, for the most part rude prints cut from the columns
of the daily press and pasted up to hide the bareness of
the room. Only one picture was in any way noticeable, a
portrait admirably executed in pen and ink. The face was
that of a young man, a very beautiful face, but one of
infinite sadness, I had long been aware, although I know
not how, that Ah-Yen had met with a great sorrow, and
had in some way connected the fact with this portrait.
I had always refrained, however, from asking him about
it, and it was not until the evening in question that I
knew its history.

We had been smoking in silence for some time when Ah-Yen
spoke. My friend is a man of culture and wide reading,
and his English is consequently perfect in its construction;
his speech is, of course, marked by the lingering liquid
accent of, his country which I will not attempt to

"I see," he said, "that you have been examining the
portrait of my unhappy friend, Fifty-Six. I have never
yet told you of my bereavement, but as to-night is the
anniversary of his death, I would fain speak of him for
a while."

Ah-Yen paused; I lighted my pipe afresh, and nodded to
him to show that I was listening.

"I do not know," he went on, "at what precise time
Fifty-Six came into my life. I could indeed find it out
by examining my books, but I have never troubled to do
so. Naturally I took no more interest in him at first
than in any other of my customers--less, perhaps, since
he never in the course of our connection brought his
clothes to me himself but always sent them by a boy. When
I presently perceived that he was becoming one of my
regular customers, I allotted to him his number, Fifty-Six,
and began to speculate as to who and what he was. Before
long I had reached several conclusions in regard to my
unknown client. The quality of his linen showed me that,
if not rich, he was at any rate fairly well off. I could
see that he was a young man of regular Christian life,
who went out into society to a certain extent; this I
could tell from his sending the same number of articles
to the laundry, from his washing always coming on Saturday
night, and from the fact that he wore a dress shirt about
once a week. In disposition he was a modest, unassuming
fellow, for his collars were only two inches high."

I stared at Ah-Yen in some amazement, the recent
publications of a favourite novelist had rendered me
familiar with this process of analytical reasoning, but
I was prepared for no such revelations from my Eastern

"When I first knew him," Ah-Yen went on, "Fifty-Six was
a student at the university. This, of course, I did not
know for some time. I inferred it, however, in the course
of time, from his absence from town during the four summer
months, and from the fact that during the time of the
university examinations the cuffs. of his shirts came to
me covered with dates, formulas, and propositions in
geometry. I followed him with no little interest through
his university career. During the four years which it
lasted, I washed for him every week; my regular connection
with him and the insight which my observation gave me
into the lovable character of the man, deepened my first
esteem into a profound affection and I became most anxious
for his success. I helped him at each succeeding
examination, as far as lay in my power, by starching his
shirts half-way to the elbow, so as to leave him as much
room as possible for annotations. My anxiety during the
strain of his final examination I will not attempt to
describe. That Fifty-Six was undergoing the great crisis
of his academic career, I could infer from the state of
his handkerchiefs which, in apparent unconsciousness, he
used as pen-wipers during the final test. His conduct
throughout the examination bore witness to the moral
development which had taken place in his character during
his career as an undergraduate; for the notes upon his
cuffs which had been so copious at his earlier examinations
were limited now to a few hints, and these upon topics
so intricate as to defy an ordinary memory. It was with
a thrill of joy that I at last received in his laundry
bundle one Saturday early in June, a ruffled dress shirt,
the bosom of which was thickly spattered with the spillings
of the wine-cup, and realized that Fifty-Six had banqueted
as a Bachelor of Arts.

"In the following winter the habit of wiping his pen upon
his handkerchief, which I had remarked during his final
examination, became chronic with him, and I knew that he
had entered upon the study of law. He worked hard during
that year, and dress shirts almost disappeared from his
weekly bundle. It was in the following winter, the second
year of his legal studies, that the tragedy of his life
began. I became aware that a change had come over his
laundry, from one, or at most two a week, his dress shirts
rose to four, and silk handkerchiefs began to replace
his linen ones. It dawned upon me that Fifty-Six was
abandoning the rigorous tenor of his student life and
was going into society. I presently perceived something
more; Fifty-Six was in love. It was soon impossible to
doubt it. He was wearing seven shirts a week; linen
handkerchiefs disappeared from his laundry; his collars
rose from two inches to two and a quarter, and finally
to two and a half. I have in my possession one of his
laundry lists of that period; a glance at it will show
the scrupulous care which he bestowed upon his person.
Well do I remember the dawning hopes of those days,
alternating with the gloomiest despair. Each Saturday I
opened his bundle with a trembling eagerness to catch
the first signs of a return of his love. I helped my
friend in every way that I could. His shirts and collars
were masterpieces of my art, though my hand often shook
with agitation as I applied the starch. She was a brave
noble girl, that I knew; her influence was elevating the
whole nature of Fifty-Six; until now he had had in his
possession a certain number of detached cuffs and false
shirt-fronts. These he discarded now,--at first the false
shirt-fronts, scorning the very idea of fraud, and after
a time, in his enthusiasm, abandoning even the cuffs. I
cannot look back upon those bright happy days of courtship
without a sigh.

"The happiness of Fifty-Six seemed to enter into and fill
my whole life. I lived but from Saturday to Saturday.
The appearance of false shirt-fronts would cast me to
the lowest depths of despair; their absence raised me to
a pinnacle of hope. It was not till winter softened into
spring that Fifty-Six nerved himself to learn his fate.
One Saturday he sent me a new white waistcoat, a garment
which had hitherto been shunned by his modest nature, to
prepare for his use. I bestowed upon it all the resources
of my art; I read his purpose in it. On the Saturday
following it was returned to me and, with tears of joy,
I marked where a warm little hand had rested fondly on
the right shoulder, and knew that Fifty-Six was the
accepted lover of his sweetheart."

Ah-Yen paused and sat for some time silent; his pipe had
sputtered out and lay cold in the hollow of his hand;
his eye was fixed upon the wall where the light and
shadows shifted in the dull flickering of the candle. At
last he spoke again:

"I will not dwell upon the happy days that ensued--days
of gaudy summer neckties and white waistcoats, of spotless
shirts and lofty collars worn but a single day by the
fastidious lover. Our happiness seemed complete and I
asked no more from fate. Alas! it was not destined to
continue! When the bright days of summer were fading into
autumn, I was grieved to notice an occasional quarrel--only
four shirts instead of seven, or the reappearance of the
abandoned cuffs and shirt-fronts. Reconciliations followed,
with tears of penitence upon the shoulder of the white
waistcoat, and the seven shirts came back. But the quarrels
grew more frequent and there came at times stormy scenes
of passionate emotion that left a track of broken buttons
down the waistcoat. The shirts went slowly down to three,
then fell to two, and the collars of my unhappy friend
subsided to an inch and three-quarters. In vain I lavished
my utmost care upon Fifty-Six. It seemed to my tortured
mind that the gloss upon his shirts and collars would
have melted a heart of stone. Alas! my every effort at
reconciliation seemed to fail. An awful month passed;
the false fronts and detached cuffs were all back again;
the unhappy lover seemed to glory in their perfidy. At
last, one gloomy evening, I found on opening his bundle
that he had bought a stock of celluloids, and my heart
told me that she had abandoned him for ever. Of what my
poor friend suffered at this time, I can give you no
idea; suffice it to say that he passed from celluloid to
a blue flannel shirt and from blue to grey. The sight of
a red cotton handkerchief in his wash at length warned
me that his disappointed love had unhinged his mind, and
I feared the worst. Then came an agonizing interval of
three weeks during which he sent me nothing, and after
that came the last parcel that I ever received from him
an enormous bundle that seemed to contain all his effects.
In this, to my horror, I discovered one shirt the breast
of which was stained a deep crimson with his blood, and
pierced by a ragged hole that showed where a bullet had
singed through into his heart.

"A fortnight before, I remembered having heard the street
boys crying the news of an appalling suicide, and I know
now that it must have been he. After the first shock of
my grief had passed, I sought to keep him in my memory
by drawing the portrait which hangs beside you. I have
some skill in the art, and I feel assured that I have
caught the expression of his face. The picture is, of
course, an ideal one, for, as you know, I never saw

The bell on the door of the outer shop tinkled at the
entrance of a customer. Ah-Yen rose with that air of
quiet resignation that habitually marked his demeanour,
and remained for some time in the shop. When he returned
he seemed in no mood to continue speaking of his lost
friend. I left him soon after and walked sorrowfully home
to my lodgings. On my way I mused much upon my little
Eastern friend and the sympathetic grasp of his imagination.
But a burden lay heavy on my heart--something I would
fain have told him but which I could not bear to mention.
I could not find it in my heart to shatter the airy castle
of his fancy. For my life has been secluded and lonely
and I have known no love like that of my ideal friend.
Yet I have a haunting recollection of a certain huge
bundle of washing that I sent to him about a year ago.
I had been absent from town for three weeks and my laundry
was much larger than usual in consequence. And if I
mistake not there was in the bundle a tattered shirt that
had been grievously stained by the breaking of a bottle
of red ink in my portmanteau, and burnt in one place
where an ash fell from my cigar as I made up the bundle.
Of all this I cannot feel absolutely certain, yet I know
at least that until a year ago, when I transferred my
custom to a more modern establishment, my laundry number
with Ah-Yen was Fifty-Six.

Aristocratic Education

House of Lords, Jan. 25, 1920.--The House of Lords
commenced to-day in Committee the consideration of Clause
No. 52,000 of the Education Bill, dealing with the teaching
of Geometry in the schools.

The Leader of the Government in presenting the clause
urged upon their Lordships the need of conciliation. The
Bill, he said, had now been before their Lordships for
sixteen years. The Government had made every concession.
They had accepted all the amendments of their Lordships
on the opposite side in regard to the original provisions
of the Bill. They had consented also to insert in the
Bill a detailed programme of studies of which the present
clause, enunciating the fifth proposition of Euclid, was
a part. He would therefore ask their Lordships to accept
the clause drafted as follows:

"The angles at the base of an isosceles triangle are
equal, and if the equal sides of the triangle are produced,
the exterior angles will also be equal."

He would hasten to add that the Government had no intention
of producing the sides. Contingencies might arise to
render such a course necessary, but in that case their
Lordships would receive an early intimation of the fact.

The Archbishop of Canterbury spoke against the clause.
He considered it, in its present form, too secular. He
should wish to amend the clause so as to make it read:

"The angles at the base of an isosceles triangle are, in
every Christian community, equal, and if the sides be
produced by a member of a Christian congregation, the
exterior angles will be equal."

He was aware, he continued, that the angles at the base
of an isosceles triangle are extremely equal, but he must
remind the Government that the Church had been aware of
this for several years past. He was willing also to admit
that the opposite sides and ends of a parallelogram are
equal, but he thought that such admission should be
coupled with a distinct recognition of the existence of
a Supreme Being.

The Leader of the Government accepted His Grace's amendment
with pleasure. He considered it the brightest amendment
His Grace had made that week. The Government, he said,
was aware of the intimate relation in which His Grace
stood to the bottom end of a parallelogram and was prepared
to respect it.

Lord Halifax rose to offer a further amendment. He thought
the present case was one in which the "four-fifths"
clause ought to apply: he should wish it stated that the
angles are equal for two days every week, except in the
case of schools where four-fifths of the parents are
conscientiously opposed to the use of the isosceles

The Leader of the Government thought the amendment a
singularly pleasing one. He accepted it and would like
it understood that the words isosceles triangle were not
meant in any offensive sense.

Lord Rosebery spoke at some length. He considered the
clause unfair to Scotland, where the high state of morality
rendered education unnecessary. Unless an amendment in
this sense was accepted, it might be necessary to reconsider
the Act of Union of 1707.

The Leader of the Government said that Lord Rosebery's
amendment was the best he had heard yet. The Government
accepted it at once. They were willing to make every
concession. They would, if need be, reconsider the Norman

The Duke of Devonshire took exception to the part of the
clause relating to the production of the sides. He did
not think the country was prepared for it. It was unfair
to the producer. He would like the clause altered to
read, "if the sides be produced in the home market."

The Leader of the Government accepted with pleasure His
Grace's amendment. He considered it quite sensible. He
would now, as it was near the hour of rising, present
the clause in its revised form. He hoped, however, that
their Lordships would find time to think out some further
amendments for the evening sitting.

The clause was then read.

His Grace of Canterbury then moved that the House, in
all humility, adjourn for dinner.

The Conjurer's Revenge

"Now, ladies and gentlemen," said the conjurer, "having
shown you that the cloth is absolutely empty, I will
proceed to take from it a bowl of goldfish. Presto!"

All around the hall people were saying, "Oh, how wonderful!
How does he do it?"

But the Quick Man on the front seat said in a big whisper
to the people near him, "He-had-it-up-his-sleeve."

Then the people nodded brightly at the Quick Man and
said, "Oh, of course"; and everybody whispered round the
hall, "He-had-it-up-his-sleeve."

"My next trick," said the conjurer, "is the famous
Hindostanee rings. You will notice that the rings are
apparently separate; at a blow they all join (clang,
clang, clang)--Presto!"

There was a general buzz of stupefaction till the Quick
Man was heard to whisper, "He-must-have-had-another-lot-

Again everybody nodded and whispered, "The-rings-were-

The brow of the conjurer was clouded with a gathering

"I will now," he continued, "show you a most amusing
trick by which I am enabled to take any number of eggs
from a hat. Will some gentleman kindly lend me his hat?
Ah, thank you--Presto!"

He extracted seventeen eggs, and for thirty-five seconds
the audience began to think that he was wonderful. Then
the Quick Man whispered along the front bench, "He-has-a-
hen-up-his-sleeve," and all the people whispered it on.

The egg trick was ruined.

It went on like that all through. It transpired from the
whispers of the Quick Man that the conjurer must have
concealed up his sleeve, in addition to the rings, hens,
and fish, several packs of cards, a loaf of bread, a
doll's cradle, a live guinea-pig, a fifty-cent piece,
and a rocking-chair.

The reputation of the conjurer was rapidly sinking below
zero. At the close of the evening he rallied for a final

"Ladies and gentlemen," he said, "I will present to you,
in conclusion, the famous Japanese trick recently invented
by the natives of Tipperary. Will you, sir," he continued
turning toward the Quick Man, "will you kindly hand me
your gold watch?"

It was passed to him.

"Have I your permission to put it into this mortar and
pound it to pieces?" he asked savagely.

The Quick Man nodded and smiled.

The conjurer threw the watch into the mortar and grasped
a sledge hammer from the table. There was a sound of
violent smashing, "He's-slipped-it-up-his-sleeve,"
whispered the Quick Man.

"Now, sir," continued the conjurer, "will you allow me
to take your handkerchief and punch holes in it? Thank
you. You see, ladies and gentlemen, there is no deception;
the holes are visible to the eye."

The face of the Quick Man beamed. This time the real
mystery of the thing fascinated him.

"And now, sir, will you kindly pass me your silk hat and
allow me to dance on it? Thank you."

The conjurer made a few rapid passes with his feet and
exhibited the hat crushed beyond recognition.

"And will you now, sir, take off your celluloid collar
and permit me to burn it in the candle? Thank you, sir.
And will you allow me to smash your spectacles for you
with my hammer? Thank you."

By this time the features of the Quick Man were assuming
a puzzled expression. "This thing beats me," he whispered,
"I don't see through it a bit."

There was a great hush upon the audience. Then the conjurer
drew himself up to his full height and, with a withering
look at the Quick Man, he concluded:

"Ladies and gentlemen, you will observe that I have, with
this gentleman's permission, broken his watch, burnt his
collar, smashed his spectacles, and danced on his hat.
If he will give me the further permission to paint green
stripes on his overcoat, or to tie his suspenders in a
knot, I shall be delighted to entertain you. If not, the
performance is at an end."

And amid a glorious burst of music from the orchestra
the curtain fell, and the audience dispersed, convinced
that there are some tricks, at any rate, that are not
done up the conjurer's sleeve.

Hints to Travellers

The following hints and observations have occurred to me
during a recent trip across the continent: they are
written in no spirit of complaint against existing railroad
methods, but merely in the hope that they may prove useful
to those who travel, like myself, in a spirit of meek,
observant ignorance.

1. Sleeping in a Pullman car presents some difficulties
to the novice. Care should be taken to allay all sense
of danger. The frequent whistling of the engine during
the night is apt to be a source of alarm. Find out,
therefore, before travelling, the meaning of the various
whistles. One means "station," two, "railroad crossing,"
and so on. Five whistles, short and rapid, mean sudden
danger. When you hear whistles in the night, sit up
smartly in your bunk and count them. Should they reach
five, draw on your trousers over your pyjamas and leave
the train instantly. As a further precaution against
accident, sleep with the feet towards the engine if you
prefer to have the feet crushed, or with the head towards
the engine, if you think it best to have the head crushed.
In making this decision try to be as unselfish as possible.
If indifferent, sleep crosswise with the head hanging
over into the aisle.

2. I have devoted some thought to the proper method of
changing trains. The system which I have observed to be
the most popular with travellers of my own class, is
something as follows: Suppose that you have been told on
leaving New York that you are to change at Kansas City.
The evening before approaching Kansas City, stop the
conductor in the aisle of the car (you can do this best
by putting out your foot and tripping him), and say
politely, "Do I change at Kansas City?" He says "Yes."
Very good. Don't believe him. On going into the dining-car
for supper, take a negro aside and put it to him as a
personal matter between a white man and a black, whether
he thinks you ought to change at Kansas City. Don't be
satisfied with this. In the course of the evening pass
through the entire train from time to time, and say to
people casually, "Oh, can you tell me if I change at
Kansas City?" Ask the conductor about it a few more times
in the evening: a repetition of the question will ensure
pleasant relations with him. Before falling asleep watch
for his passage and ask him through the curtains of your
berth, "Oh, by the way, did you say I changed at Kansas
City?" If he refuses to stop, hook him by the neck with
your walking-stick, and draw him gently to your bedside.
In the morning when the train stops and a man calls,
"Kansas City! All change!" approach the conductor again
and say, "Is this Kansas City?" Don't be discouraged at
his answer. Pick yourself up and go to the other end of
the car and say to the brakesman, "Do you know, sir, if
this is Kansas City?" Don't be too easily convinced.
Remember that both brakesman and conductor may be in
collusion to deceive you. Look around, therefore, for
the name of the station on the signboard. Having found
it, alight and ask the first man you see if this is Kansas
City. He will answer, "Why, where in blank are your blank
eyes? Can't you see it there, plain as blank?" When you
hear language of this sort, ask no more. You are now in
Kansas and this is Kansas City.

3. I have observed that it is now the practice of the
conductors to stick bits of paper in the hats of the
passengers. They do this, I believe, to mark which ones
they like best. The device is pretty, and adds much to
the scenic appearance of the car. But I notice with pain
that the system is fraught with much trouble for the
conductors. The task of crushing two or three passengers
together, in order to reach over them and stick a ticket
into the chinks of a silk skull cap is embarrassing for
a conductor of refined feelings. It would be simpler if
the conductor should carry a small hammer and a packet
of shingle nails and nail the paid-up passenger to the
back of the seat. Or better still, let the conductor
carry a small pot of paint and a brush, and mark the
passengers in such a way that he cannot easily mistake
them. In the case of bald-headed passengers, the hats
might be politely removed and red crosses painted on the
craniums. This will indicate that they are bald. Through
passengers might be distinguished by a complete coat of
paint. In the hands of a man of taste, much might be
effected by a little grouping of painted passengers and
the leisure time of the conductor agreeably occupied.

4. I have observed in travelling in the West that the
irregularity of railroad accidents is a fruitful cause
of complaint. The frequent disappointment of the holders
of accident policy tickets on western roads is leading
to widespread protest. Certainly the conditions of travel
in the West are altering rapidly and accidents can no
longer be relied upon. This is deeply to be regretted,
in so much as, apart from accidents, the tickets may be
said to be practically valueless.

A Manual of Education

The few selections below are offered as a specimen page
of a little book which I have in course of preparation.

Every man has somewhere in the back of his head the wreck
of a thing which he calls his education. My book is
intended to embody in concise form these remnants of
early instruction.

Educations are divided into splendid educations, thorough
classical educations, and average educations. All very
old men have splendid educations; all men who apparently
know nothing else have thorough classical educations;
nobody has an average education.

An education, when it is all written out on foolscap,
covers nearly ten sheets. It takes about six years of
severe college training to acquire it. Even then a man
often finds that he somehow hasn't got his education just
where he can put his thumb on it. When my little book of
eight or ten pages has appeared, everybody may carry his
education in his hip pocket.

Those who have not had the advantage of an early training
will be enabled, by a few hours of conscientious
application, to put themselves on an equal footing with
the most scholarly.

The selections are chosen entirely at random.


Astronomy teaches the correct use of the sun and the
planets. These may be put on a frame of little sticks
and turned round. This causes the tides. Those at the
ends of the sticks are enormously far away. From time to
time a diligent searching of the sticks reveals new
planets. The orbit of a planet is the distance the stick
goes round in going round. Astronomy is intensely
interesting; it should be done at night, in a high tower
in Spitzbergen. This is to avoid the astronomy being
interrupted. A really good astronomer can tell when a
comet is coming too near him by the warning buzz of the
revolving sticks.


Aztecs: A fabulous race, half man, half horse, half
mound-builder. They flourished at about the same time as
the early Calithumpians. They have left some awfully
stupendous monuments of themselves somewhere.

Life of Caesar: A famous Roman general, the last who ever
landed in Britain without being stopped at the custom
house. On returning to his Sabine farm (to fetch something),
he was stabbed by Brutus, and died with the words "Veni,
vidi, tekel, upharsim" in his throat. The jury returned
a verdict of strangulation.

Life of Voltaire: A Frenchman; very bitter.

Life of Schopenhauer: A German; very deep; but it was
not really noticeable when he sat down.

Life of Dante: An Italian; the first to introduce the
banana and the class of street organ known as "Dante's

Peter the Great,
Alfred the Great,
Frederick the Great,
John the Great,
Tom the Great,
Jim the Great,
Jo the Great, etc., etc.

It is impossible for a busy man to keep these apart. They
sought a living as kings and apostles and pugilists and
so on.


Botany is the art of plants. Plants are divided into
trees, flowers, and vegetables. The true botanist knows
a tree as soon as he sees it. He learns to distinguish
it from a vegetable by merely putting his ear to it.


Natural Science treats of motion and force. Many of its
teachings remain as part of an educated man's permanent
equipment in life. Such are:

(a) The harder you shove a bicycle the faster it will
go. This is because of natural science.

(b) If you fall from a high tower, you fall quicker and
quicker and quicker; a judicious selection of a tower
will ensure any rate of speed.

(c) If you put your thumb in between two cogs it will go
on and on, until the wheels are arrested, by your
suspenders. This is machinery.

(d) Electricity is of two kinds, positive and negative.
The difference is, I presume, that one kind comes a little
more expensive, but is more durable; the other is a
cheaper thing, but the moths get into it.

Hoodoo McFiggin's Christmas

This Santa Claus business is played out. It's a sneaking,
underhand method, and the sooner it's exposed the better.

For a parent to get up under cover of the darkness of
night and palm off a ten-cent necktie on a boy who had
been expecting a ten-dollar watch, and then say that an
angel sent it to him, is low, undeniably low.

I had a good opportunity of observing how the thing worked
this Christmas, in the case of young Hoodoo McFiggin,
the son and heir of the McFiggins, at whose house I board.

Hoodoo McFiggin is a good boy--a religious boy. He had
been given to understand that Santa Claus would bring
nothing to his father and mother because grown-up people
don't get presents from the angels. So he saved up all
his pocket-money and bought a box of cigars for his father
and a seventy-five-cent diamond brooch for his mother.
His own fortunes he left in the hands of the angels. But
he prayed. He prayed every night for weeks that Santa
Claus would bring him a pair of skates and a puppy-dog
and an air-gun and a bicycle and a Noah's ark and a sleigh
and a drum--altogether about a hundred and fifty dollars'
worth of stuff.

I went into Hoodoo's room quite early Christmas morning.
I had an idea that the scene would be interesting. I woke
him up and he sat up in bed, his eyes glistening with
radiant expectation, and began hauling things out of his

The first parcel was bulky; it was done up quite loosely
and had an odd look generally.

"Ha! ha!" Hoodoo cried gleefully, as he began undoing
it. "I'll bet it's the puppy-dog, all wrapped up in

And was it the puppy-dog? No, by no means. It was a pair
of nice, strong, number-four boots, laces and all,
labelled, "Hoodoo, from Santa Claus," and underneath
Santa Claus had written, "95 net."

The boy's jaw fell with delight. "It's boots," he said,
and plunged in his hand again.

He began hauling away at another parcel with renewed hope
on his face.

This time the thing seemed like a little round box. Hoodoo
tore the paper off it with a feverish hand. He shook it;
something rattled inside.

"It's a watch and chain! It's a watch and chain!" he
shouted. Then he pulled the lid off.

And was it a watch and chain? No. It was a box of nice,
brand-new celluloid collars, a dozen of them all alike
and all his own size.

The boy was so pleased that you could see his face crack
up with pleasure.

He waited a few minutes until his intense joy subsided.
Then he tried again.

This time the packet was long and hard. It resisted the
touch and had a sort of funnel shape.

"It's a toy pistol!" said the boy, trembling with
excitement. "Gee! I hope there are lots of caps with it!
I'll fire some off now and wake up father."

No, my poor child, you will not wake your father with
that. It is a useful thing, but it needs not caps and it
fires no bullets, and you cannot wake a sleeping man with
a tooth-brush. Yes, it was a tooth-brush--a regular
beauty, pure bone all through, and ticketed with a little
paper, "Hoodoo, from Santa Claus."

Again the expression of intense joy passed over the boy's
face, and the tears of gratitude started from his eyes.
He wiped them away with his tooth-brush and passed on.

The next packet was much larger and evidently contained
something soft and bulky. It had been too long to go into
the stocking and was tied outside.

"I wonder what this is," Hoodoo mused, half afraid to
open it. Then his heart gave a great leap, and he forgot
all his other presents in the anticipation of this one.
"It's the drum!" he gasped. "It's the drum, all wrapped

Drum nothing! It was pants--a pair of the nicest little
short pants--yellowish-brown short pants--with dear little
stripes of colour running across both ways, and here
again Santa Claus had written, "Hoodoo, from Santa Claus,
one fort net."

But there was something wrapped up in it. Oh, yes! There
was a pair of braces wrapped up in it, braces with a
little steel sliding thing so that you could slide your
pants up to your neck, if you wanted to.

The boy gave a dry sob of satisfaction. Then he took out
his last present. "It's a book," he said, as he unwrapped
it. "I wonder if it is fairy stories or adventures. Oh,
I hope it's adventures! I'll read it all morning."

No, Hoodoo, it was not precisely adventures. It was a
small family Bible. Hoodoo had now seen all his presents,
and he arose and dressed. But he still had the fun of
playing with his toys. That is always the chief delight
of Christmas morning.

First he played with his tooth-brush. He got a whole lot
of water and brushed all his teeth with it. This was

Then he played with his collars. He had no end of fun
with them, taking them all out one by one and swearing
at them, and then putting them back and swearing at the
whole lot together.

The next toy was his pants. He had immense fun there,
putting them on and taking them off again, and then trying
to guess which side was which by merely looking at them.

After that he took his book and read some adventures
called "Genesis" till breakfast-time.

Then he went downstairs and kissed his father and mother.
His father was smoking a cigar, and his mother had her
new brooch on. Hoodoo's face was thoughtful, and a light
seemed to have broken in upon his mind. Indeed, I think
it altogether likely that next Christmas he will hang on
to his own money and take chances on what the angels

The Life of John Smith

The lives of great men occupy a large section of our
literature. The great man is certainly a wonderful thing.
He walks across his century and leaves the marks of his
feet all over it, ripping out the dates on his goloshes
as he passes. It is impossible to get up a revolution or
a new religion, or a national awakening of any sort,
without his turning up, putting himself at the head of
it and collaring all the gate-receipts for himself. Even
after his death he leaves a long trail of second-rate
relations spattered over the front seats of fifty years
of history.

Now the lives of great men are doubtless infinitely
interesting. But at times I must confess to a sense of
reaction and an idea that the ordinary common man is
entitled to have his biography written too. It is to
illustrate this view that I write the life of John Smith,
a man neither good nor great, but just the usual, everyday
homo like you and me and the rest of us.

From his earliest childhood John Smith was marked out
from his comrades by nothing. The marvellous precocity
of the boy did not astonish his preceptors. Books were
not a passion for him from his youth, neither did any
old man put his hand on Smith's head and say, mark his
words, this boy would some day become a man. Nor yet was
it his father's wont to gaze on him with a feeling
amounting almost to awe. By no means! All his father did
was to wonder whether Smith was a darn fool because he
couldn't help it, or because he thought it smart. In
other words, he was just like you and me and the rest of

In those athletic sports which were the ornament of the
youth of his day, Smith did not, as great men do, excel
his fellows. He couldn't ride worth a darn. He couldn't
skate worth a darn. He couldn't swim worth a darn. He
couldn't shoot worth a darn. He couldn't do anything
worth a darn. He was just like us.

Nor did the bold cast of the boy's mind offset his physical
defects, as it invariably does in the biographies. On
the contrary. He was afraid of his father. He was afraid
of his school-teacher. He was afraid of dogs. He was
afraid of guns. He was afraid of lightning. He was afraid
of hell. He was afraid of girls.

In the boy's choice of a profession there was not seen
that keen longing for a life-work that we find in the
celebrities. He didn't want to be a lawyer, because you
have to know law. He didn't want to be a doctor, because
you have to know medicine. He didn't want to be a
business-man, because you have to know business; and he
didn't want to be a school-teacher, because he had seen
too many of them. As far as he had any choice, it lay
between being Robinson Crusoe and being the Prince of
Wales. His father refused him both and put him into a
dry goods establishment.

Such was the childhood of Smith. At its close there was
nothing in his outward appearance to mark the man of
genius. The casual observer could have seen no genius
concealed behind the wide face, the massive mouth, the
long slanting forehead, and the tall ear that swept up
to the close-cropped head. Certainly he couldn't. There
wasn't any concealed there.

It was shortly after his start in business life that
Smith was stricken with the first of those distressing
attacks, to which he afterwards became subject. It seized
him late one night as he was returning home from a
delightful evening of song and praise with a few old
school chums. Its symptoms were a peculiar heaving of
the sidewalk, a dancing of the street lights, and a crafty
shifting to and fro of the houses, requiring a very nice
discrimination in selecting his own. There was a strong
desire not to drink water throughout the entire attack,
which showed that the thing was evidently a form of
hydrophobia. From this time on, these painful attacks
became chronic with Smith. They were liable to come on
at any time, but especially on Saturday nights, on the
first of the month, and on Thanksgiving Day. He always
had a very severe attack of hydrophobia on Christmas Eve,
and after elections it was fearful.

There was one incident in Smith's career which he did,
perhaps, share with regret. He had scarcely reached
manhood when he met the most beautiful girl in the world.
She was different from all other women. She had a deeper
nature than other people. Smith realized it at once. She
could feel and understand things that ordinary people
couldn't. She could understand him. She had a great sense
of humour and an exquisite appreciation of a joke. He
told her the six that he knew one night and she thought
them great. Her mere presence made Smith feel as if he
had swallowed a sunset: the first time that his finger
brushed against hers, he felt a thrill all through him.
He presently found that if he took a firm hold of her
hand with his, he could get a fine thrill, and if he sat
beside her on a sofa, with his head against her ear and
his arm about once and a half round her, he could get
what you might call a first-class, A-1 thrill. Smith
became filled with the idea that he would like to have
her always near him. He suggested an arrangement to her,
by which she should come and live in the same house with
him and take personal charge of his clothes and his meals.
She was to receive in return her board and washing, about
seventy-five cents a week in ready money, and Smith was
to be her slave.

After Smith had been this woman's slave for some time,
baby fingers stole across his life, then another set of
them, and then more and more till the house was full of
them. The woman's mother began to steal across his life
too, and every time she came Smith had hydrophobia
frightfully. Strangely enough there was no little prattler
that was taken from his life and became a saddened,
hallowed memory to him. Oh, no! The little Smiths were
not that kind of prattler. The whole nine grew up into
tall, lank boys with massive mouths and great sweeping
ears like their father's, and no talent for anything.

The life of Smith never seemed to bring him to any of
those great turning-points that occurred in the lives of
the great. True, the passing years brought some change
of fortune. He was moved up in his dry-goods establishment
from the ribbon counter to the collar counter, from the
collar counter to the gents' panting counter, and from
the gents' panting to the gents' fancy shirting. Then,
as he grew aged and inefficient, they moved him down
again from the gents' fancy shirting to the gents' panting,
and so on to the ribbon counter. And when he grew quite
old they dismissed him and got a boy with a four-inch
mouth and sandy-coloured hair, who did all Smith could
do for half the money. That was John Smith's mercantile
career: it won't stand comparison with Mr. Gladstone's,
but it's not unlike your own.

Smith lived for five years after this. His sons kept him.
They didn't want to, but they had to. In his old age the
brightness of his mind and his fund of anecdote were not
the delight of all who dropped in to see him. He told
seven stories and he knew six jokes. The stories were
long things all about himself, and the jokes were about
a commercial traveller and a Methodist minister. But
nobody dropped in to see him, anyway, so it didn't matter.

At sixty-five Smith was taken ill, and, receiving proper
treatment, he died. There was a tombstone put up over
him, with a hand pointing north-north-east.

But I doubt if he ever got there. He was too like us.

On Collecting Things

Like most other men I have from time to time been stricken
with a desire to make collections of things.

It began with postage stamps. I had a letter from a friend
of mine who had gone out to South Africa. The letter had
a three-cornered stamp on it, and I thought as soon as
I looked at it, "That's the thing! Stamp collecting! I'll
devote my life to it."

I bought an album with accommodation for the stamps of
all nations, and began collecting right off. For three
days the collection made wonderful progress. It contained:

One Cape of Good Hope stamp.

One one-cent stamp, United States of America.

One two-cent stamp, United States of America.

One five-cent stamp, United States of America.

One ten-cent stamp, United States of America.

After that the collection came to a dead stop. For a
while I used to talk about it rather airily and say I
had one or two rather valuable South African stamps. But
I presently grew tired even of lying about it.

Collecting coins is a thing that I attempt at intervals.
Every time I am given an old half-penny or a Mexican
quarter, I get an idea that if a fellow made a point of
holding on to rarities of that sort, he'd soon have quite
a valuable collection. The first time that I tried it I
was full of enthusiasm, and before long my collection
numbered quite a few articles of vertu. The items were
as follows:

No. 1. Ancient Roman coin. Time of Caligula. This one of
course was the gem of the whole lot; it was given me by
a friend, and that was what started me collecting.

No. 2. Small copper coin. Value one cent. United States
of America. Apparently modern.

No. 3. Small nickel coin. Circular. United States of
America. Value five cents.

No. 4. Small silver coin. Value ten cents. United States
of America.

No. 5. Silver coin. Circular. Value twenty-five cents.
United States of America. Very beautiful.

No. 6. Large silver coin. Circular. Inscription, "One
Dollar." United States of America. Very valuable.

No. 7. Ancient British copper coin. Probably time of
Caractacus. Very dim. Inscription, "Victoria Dei gratia
regina." Very valuable.

No. 8. Silver coin. Evidently French. Inscription, "Funf
Mark. Kaiser Wilhelm."

No. 9. Circular silver coin. Very much defaced. Part of
inscription, "E Pluribus Unum." Probably a Russian rouble,
but quite as likely to be a Japanese yen or a Shanghai

That's as far as that collection got. It lasted through
most of the winter and I was getting quite proud of it,
but I took the coins down town one evening to show to a
friend and we spent No. 3, No. 4., No. 5, No. 6, and No.
7 in buying a little dinner for two. After dinner I bought
a yen's worth of cigars and traded the relic of Caligula
for as many hot Scotches as they cared to advance on it.
After that I felt reckless and put No. 2 and No. 8 into
a Children's Hospital poor box.

I tried fossils next. I got two in ten years. Then I

A friend of mine once showed me a very fine collection
of ancient and curious weapons, and for a time I was full
of that idea. I gathered several interesting specimens,
such as:

No. 1. Old flint-lock musket, used by my grandfather.
(He used it on the farm for years as a crowbar.)

No. 2. Old raw-hide strap, used by my father.

No. 3. Ancient Indian arrowhead, found by myself the very
day after I began collecting. It resembles a three-cornered

No. 4. Ancient Indian bow, found by myself behind a
sawmill on the second day of collecting. It resembles a
straight stick of elm or oak. It is interesting to think
that this very weapon may have figured in some fierce
scene of savage warfare.

No. 5. Cannibal poniard or straight-handled dagger of
the South Sea Islands. It will give the reader almost a
thrill of horror to learn that this atrocious weapon,
which I bought myself on the third day of collecting,
was actually exposed in a second-hand store as a family
carving-knife. In gazing at it one cannot refrain from
conjuring up the awful scenes it must have witnessed.

I kept this collection for quite a long while until, in
a moment of infatuation, I presented it to a young lady
as a betrothal present. The gift proved too ostentatious
and our relations subsequently ceased to be cordial.

On the whole I am inclined to recommend the beginner to
confine himself to collecting coins. At present I am
myself making a collection of American bills (time of
Taft preferred), a pursuit I find most absorbing.

Society Chat-Chat


I notice that it is customary for the daily papers to
publish a column or so of society gossip. They generally
head it "Chit-Chat," or "On Dit," or "Le Boudoir," or
something of the sort, and they keep it pretty full of
French terms to give it the proper sort of swing. These
columns may be very interesting in their way, but it
always seems to me that they don't get hold of quite the
right things to tell us about. They are very fond, for
instance, of giving an account of the delightful dance
at Mrs. De Smythe's--at which Mrs. De Smythe looked
charming in a gown of old tulle with a stomacher of
passementerie--or of the dinner-party at Mr. Alonzo
Robinson's residence, or the smart pink tea given by Miss
Carlotta Jones. No, that's all right, but it's not the
kind of thing we want to get at; those are not the events
which happen in our neighbours' houses that we really
want to hear about. It is the quiet little family scenes,
the little traits of home-life that--well, for example,
take the case of that delightful party at the De Smythes.
I am certain that all those who were present would much
prefer a little paragraph like the following, which would
give them some idea of the home-life of the De Smythes
on the morning after the party.


On Wednesday morning last at 7.15 a.m. a charming little
breakfast was served at the home of Mr. De Smythe. The
dejeuner was given in honour of Mr. De Smythe and his
two sons, Master Adolphus and Master Blinks De Smythe,
who were about to leave for their daily travail at their
wholesale Bureau de Flour et de Feed. All the gentlemen
were very quietly dressed in their habits de work. Miss
Melinda De Smythe poured out tea, the domestique having
refuse to get up so early after the partie of the night
before. The menu was very handsome, consisting of eggs
and bacon, demi-froid, and ice-cream. The conversation
was sustained and lively. Mr. De Smythe sustained it and
made it lively for his daughter and his garcons. In the
course of the talk Mr. De Smythe stated that the next
time he allowed the young people to turn his maison
topsy-turvy he would see them in enfer. He wished to know
if they were aware that some ass of the evening before
had broken a pane of coloured glass in the hall that
would cost him four dollars. Did they think he was made
of argent. If so, they never made a bigger mistake in
their vie. The meal closed with general expressions of
good-feeling. A little bird has whispered to us that
there will be no more parties at the De Smythes' pour

Here is another little paragraph that would be of general
interest in society.


Yesterday evening at half after six a pleasant little
diner was given by Madame McFiggin of Rock Street, to
her boarders. The salle a manger was very prettily
decorated with texts, and the furniture upholstered with
cheveux de horse, Louis Quinze. The boarders were all
very quietly dressed: Mrs. McFiggin was daintily attired
in some old clinging stuff with a corsage de Whalebone
underneath. The ample board groaned under the bill of
fare. The boarders groaned also. Their groaning was very
noticeable. The piece de resistance was a hunko de boeuf
boile, flanked with some old clinging stuff. The entrees
were pate de pumpkin, followed by fromage McFiggin, served
under glass. Towards the end of the first course, speeches
became the order of the day. Mrs. McFiggin was the first
speaker. In commencing, she expressed her surprise that
so few of the gentlemen seemed to care for the hunko de
boeuf; her own mind, she said, had hesitated between
hunko de boeuf boile and a pair of roast chickens
(sensation). She had finally decided in favour of the
hunko de boeuf (no sensation). She referred at some length
to the late Mr. McFiggin, who had always shown a marked
preference for hunko de boeuf. Several other speakers
followed. All spoke forcibly and to the point. The last
to speak was the Reverend Mr. Whiner. The reverend
gentleman, in rising, said that he confided himself and
his fellow-boarders to the special interference of
providence. For what they had eaten, he said, he hoped
that Providence would make them truly thankful. At the
close of the Repas several of the boarders expressed
their intention of going down the street to a restourong
to get quelque chose a manger.

Here is another example. How interesting it would be to
get a detailed account of that little affair at the
Robinsons', of which the neighbours only heard indirectly!


Yesterday the family of Mr. Alonzo Robinson spent a very
lively evening at their home on ---th Avenue. The occasion
was the seventeenth birthday of Master Alonzo Robinson,
junior. It was the original intention of Master Alonzo
Robinson to celebrate the day at home and invite a few
of les garcons. Mr. Robinson, senior, however, having
declared that he would be damne first, Master Alonzo
spent the evening in visiting the salons of the town,
which he painted rouge. Mr. Robinson, senior, spent the
evening at home in quiet expectation of his son's return.
He was very becomingly dressed in a pantalon quatre vingt
treize, and had his whippe de chien laid across his knee.
Madame Robinson and the Mademoiselles Robinson wore black.
The guest of the evening arrived at a late hour. He wore
his habits de spri, and had about six pouces of eau de
vie in him. He was evidently full up to his cou. For some
time after his arrival a very lively time was spent. Mr.
Robinson having at length broken the whippe de chien,
the family parted for the night with expressions of
cordial goodwill.

Insurance up to Date

A man called on me the other day with the idea of insuring
my life. Now, I detest life-insurance agents; they always
argue that I shall some day die, which is not so. I have
been insured a great many times, for about a month at a
time, but have had no luck with it at all.

So I made up my mind that I would outwit this man at his
own game. I let him talk straight ahead and encouraged
him all I could, until he finally left me with a sheet
of questions which I was to answer as an applicant. Now
this was what I was waiting for; I had decided that, if
that company wanted information about me, they should
have it, and have the very best quality I could supply.
So I spread the sheet of questions before me, and drew
up a set of answers for them, which, I hoped, would settle
for ever all doubts as to my eligibility for insurance.

Question.--What is your age?
Answer.--I can't think.

Q.--What is your chest measurement?
A.--Nineteen inches.

Q.--What is your chest expansion?
A.--Half an inch.

Q.--What is your height?
A.--Six feet five, if erect, but less when
I walk on all fours.

Q.--Is your grandfather dead?

Q.--Cause of death, if dead?
A.--Dipsomania, if dead.

Q.--Is your father dead?
A.--To the world.

Q.--Cause of death?

Q.--Place of father's residence?

Q.--What illness have you had?
A.--As a child, consumption, leprosy, and water on
the knee. As a man, whooping-cough, stomach-ache,
and water on the brain.

Q.--Have you any brothers?
A.--Thirteen; all nearly dead.

Q.--Are you aware of any habits or tendencies which
might be expected to shorten your life?
A.--I am aware. I drink, I smoke, I take morphine and
vaseline. I swallow grape seeds and I hate exercise.

I thought when I had come to the end of that list that
I had made a dead sure thing of it, and I posted the
paper with a cheque for three months' payment, feeling
pretty confident of having the cheque sent back to me.
I was a good deal surprised a few days later to receive
the following letter from the company:

"DEAR SIR,--We beg to acknowledge your letter of application
and cheque for fifteen dollars. After a careful comparison
of your case with the average modern standard, we are
pleased to accept you as a first-class risk."

Borrowing a Match

You might think that borrowing a match upon the street
is a simple thing. But any man who has ever tried it will
assure you that it is not, and will be prepared to swear
to the truth of my experience of the other evening.

I was standing on the corner of the street with a cigar
that I wanted to light. I had no match. I waited till a
decent, ordinary-looking man came along. Then I said:

"Excuse me, sir, but could you oblige me with the loan
of a match?"

"A match?" he said, "why certainly." Then he unbuttoned
his overcoat and put his hand in the pocket of his
waistcoat. "I know I have one," he went on, "and I'd
almost swear it's in the bottom pocket--or, hold on,
though, I guess it may be in the top--just wait till I
put these parcels down on the sidewalk."

"Oh, don't trouble," I said, "it's really of no

"Oh, it's no trouble, I'll have it in a minute; I know
there must be one in here somewhere"--he was digging
his fingers into his pockets as he spoke--"but you see
this isn't the waistcoat I generally..."

I saw that the man was getting excited about it. "Well,
never mind," I protested; "if that isn't the waistcoat
that you generally--why, it doesn't matter."

"Hold on, now, hold on!" the man said, "I've got one of
the cursed things in here somewhere. I guess it must be
in with my watch. No, it's not there either. Wait till
I try my coat. If that confounded tailor only knew enough
to make a pocket so that a man could get at it!"

He was getting pretty well worked up now. He had thrown
down his walking-stick and was plunging at his pockets
with his teeth set. "It's that cursed young boy of mine,"
he hissed; "this comes of his fooling in my pockets. By
Gad! perhaps I won't warm him up when I get home. Say,
I'll bet that it's in my hip-pocket. You just hold up
the tail of my overcoat a second till I..."

"No, no," I protested again, "please don't take all this
trouble, it really doesn't matter. I'm sure you needn't
take off your overcoat, and oh, pray don't throw away
your letters and things in the snow like that, and tear
out your pockets by the roots! Please, please don't
trample over your overcoat and put your feet through the
parcels. I do hate to hear you swearing at your little
boy, with that peculiar whine in your voice. Don't--please
don't tear your clothes so savagely."

Suddenly the man gave a grunt of exultation, and drew
his hand up from inside the lining of his coat.

"I've got it," he cried. "Here you are!" Then he brought
it out under the light.

It was a toothpick.

Yielding to the impulse of the moment I pushed him under
the wheels of a trolley-car, and ran.

A Lesson in Fiction

Suppose that in the opening pages of the modern melodramatic
novel you find some such situation as the following, in
which is depicted the terrific combat between Gaspard de
Vaux, the boy lieutenant, and Hairy Hank, the chief of
the Italian banditti:

"The inequality of the contest was apparent. With a
mingled yell of rage and contempt, his sword brandished
above his head and his dirk between his teeth, the enormous
bandit rushed upon his intrepid opponent. De Vaux seemed
scarce more than a stripling, but he stood his ground
and faced his hitherto invincible assailant. 'Mong Dieu,'
cried De Smythe, 'he is lost!'"

Question. On which of the parties to the above contest
do you honestly feel inclined to put your money?

Answer. On De Vaux. He'll win. Hairy Hank will force him
down to one knee and with a brutal cry of "Har! har!"
will be about to dirk him, when De Vaux will make a sudden
lunge (one he had learnt at home out of a book of lunges)

Very good. You have answered correctly. Now, suppose you
find, a little later in the book, that the killing of
Hairy Hank has compelled De Vaux to flee from his native
land to the East. Are you not fearful for his safety in
the desert?

Answer. Frankly, I am not. De Vaux is all right. His name
is on the title page, and you can't kill him.

Question. Listen to this, then: "The sun of Ethiopia beat
fiercely upon the desert as De Vaux, mounted upon his
faithful elephant, pursued his lonely way. Seated in his
lofty hoo-doo, his eye scoured the waste. Suddenly a
solitary horseman appeared on the horizon, then another,
and another, and then six. In a few moments a whole crowd
of solitary horsemen swooped down upon him. There was a
fierce shout of 'Allah!' a rattle of firearms. De Vaux
sank from his hoo-doo on to the sands, while the affrighted
elephant dashed off in all directions. The bullet had
struck him in the heart."

There now, what do you think of that? Isn't De Vaux killed

Answer. I am sorry. De Vaux is not dead. True, the ball
had hit him, oh yes, it had hit him, but it had glanced
off against a family Bible, which he carried in his
waistcoat in case of illness, struck some hymns that he
had in his hip-pocket, and, glancing off again, had
flattened itself against De Vaux's diary of his life in
the desert, which was in his knapsack.

Question. But even if this doesn't kill him, you must
admit that he is near death when he is bitten in the
jungle by the deadly dongola?

Answer. That's all right. A kindly Arab will take De Vaux
to the Sheik's tent.

Question. What will De Vaux remind the Sheik of?

Answer. Too easy. Of his long-lost son, who disappeared
years ago.

Question. Was this son Hairy Hank? Answer. Of course he
was. Anyone could see that, but the Sheik never suspects
it, and heals De Vaux. He heals him with an herb, a thing
called a simple, an amazingly simple, known only to the
Sheik. Since using this herb, the Sheik has used no other.

Question. The Sheik will recognize an overcoat that De
Vaux is wearing, and complications will arise in the
matter of Hairy Hank deceased. Will this result in the
death of the boy lieutenant?

Answer. No. By this time De Vaux has realized that the
reader knows he won't die and resolves to quit the desert.
The thought of his mother keeps recurring to him, and of
his father, too, the grey, stooping old man--does he
stoop still or has he stopped stooping? At times, too,
there comes the thought of another, a fairer than his
father; she whose--but enough, De Vaux returns to the
old homestead in Piccadilly.

Question. When De Vaux returns to England, what will

Answer. This will happen: "He who left England ten years
before a raw boy, has returned a sunburnt soldierly man.
But who is this that advances smilingly to meet him? Can
the mere girl, the bright child that shared his hours of
play, can she have grown into this peerless, graceful
girl, at whose feet half the noble suitors of England
are kneeling? 'Can this be her?' he asks himself in

Question. Is it her?

Answer. Oh, it's her all right. It is her, and it is him,
and it is them. That girl hasn't waited fifty pages for

Question. You evidently guess that a love affair will
ensue between the boy lieutenant and the peerless girl
with the broad feet. Do you imagine, however, that its
course will run smoothly and leave nothing to record?

Answer. Not at all. I feel certain that the scene of the
novel having edged itself around to London, the writer
will not feel satisfied unless he introduces the following
famous scene:

"Stunned by the cruel revelation which he had received,
unconscious of whither his steps were taking him, Gaspard
de Vaux wandered on in the darkness from street to street
until he found himself upon London Bridge. He leaned over
the parapet and looked down upon the whirling stream
below. There was something in the still, swift rush of
it that seemed to beckon, to allure him. After all, why
not? What was life now that he should prize it? For a
moment De Vaux paused irresolute."

Question. Will he throw himself in?

Answer. Well, say you don't know Gaspard. He will pause
irresolute up to the limit, then, with a fierce struggle,
will recall his courage and hasten from the Bridge.

Question. This struggle not to throw oneself in must be
dreadfully difficult?

Answer. Oh! dreadfully! Most of us are so frail we should
jump in at once. But Gaspard has the knack of it. Besides
he still has some of the Sheik's herb; he chews it.

Question. What has happened to De Vaux anyway? Is it
anything he has eaten?

Answer. No, it is nothing that he has eaten. It's about
her. The blow has come. She has no use for sunburn,
doesn't care for tan; she is going to marry a duke and
the boy lieutenant is no longer in it. The real trouble
is that the modern novelist has got beyond the happy-
marriage mode of ending. He wants tragedy and a blighted
life to wind up with.

Question. How will the book conclude?

Answer. Oh, De Vaux will go back to the desert, fall upon
the Sheik's neck, and swear to be a second Hairy Hank to
him. There will be a final panorama of the desert, the
Sheik and his newly found son at the door of the tent,
the sun setting behind a pyramid, and De Vaux's faithful
elephant crouched at his feet and gazing up at him with
dumb affection.

Helping the Armenians

The financial affairs of the parish church up at Doogalville
have been getting rather into a tangle in the last six
months. The people of the church were specially anxious
to do something toward the general public subscription
of the town on behalf of the unhappy Armenians, and to
that purpose they determined to devote the collections
taken up at a series of special evening services. To give
the right sort of swing to the services and to stimulate
generous giving, they put a new pipe organ into the
church. In order to make a preliminary payment on the
organ, it was decided to raise a mortgage on the parsonage.

To pay the interest on the mortgage, the choir of the
church got up a sacred concert in the town hall.

To pay for the town hall, the Willing Workers' Guild held
a social in the Sunday school. To pay the expenses of
the social, the rector delivered a public lecture on
"Italy and Her Past," illustrated by a magic lantern.
To pay for the magic lantern, the curate and the ladies
of the church got up some amateur theatricals.

Finally, to pay for the costumes for the theatricals,
the rector felt it his duty to dispense with the curate.

So that is where the church stands just at present. What
they chiefly want to do, is to raise enough money to buy
a suitable gold watch as a testimonial to the curate.
After that they hope to be able to do something for the
Armenians. Meantime, of course, the Armenians, the ones
right there in the town, are getting very troublesome.
To begin with, there is the Armenian who rented the
costumes for the theatricals: he has to be squared. Then
there is the Armenian organ dealer, and the Armenian who
owned the magic lantern. They want relief badly.

The most urgent case is that of the Armenian who holds
the mortgage on the parsonage; indeed it is generally
felt in the congregation, when the rector makes his
impassioned appeals at the special services on behalf of
the suffering cause, that it is to this man that he has
special reference.

In the meanwhile the general public subscription is not
getting along very fast; but the proprietor of the big
saloon further down the street and the man with the short
cigar that runs the Doogalville Midway Plaisance have
been most liberal in their contributions.

A Study in Still Life.--The Country Hotel

The country hotel stands on the sunny side of Main Street.
It has three entrances.

There is one in front which leads into the Bar. There is
one at the side called the Ladies' Entrance which leads
into the Bar from the side. There is also the Main Entrance
which leads into the Bar through the Rotunda.

The Rotunda is the space between the door of the bar-room
and the cigar-case.

In it is a desk and a book. In the book are written down
the names of the guests, together with marks indicating
the direction of the wind and the height of the barometer.
It is here that the newly arrived guest waits until he
has time to open the door leading to the Bar.

The bar-room forms the largest part of the hotel. It
constitutes the hotel proper. To it are attached a series
of bedrooms on the floor above, many of which contain

The walls of the bar-room are perforated in all directions
with trap-doors. Through one of these drinks are passed
into the back sitting-room. Through others drinks are
passed into the passages. Drinks are also passed through
the floor and through the ceiling. Drinks once passed
never return. The Proprietor stands in the doorway of
the bar. He weighs two hundred pounds. His face is
immovable as putty. He is drunk. He has been drunk for
twelve years. It makes no difference to him. Behind the
bar stands the Bar-tender. He wears wicker-sleeves, his
hair is curled in a hook, and his name is Charlie.

Attached to the bar is a pneumatic beer-pump, by means
of which the bar-tender can flood the bar with beer.
Afterwards he wipes up the beer with a rag. By this means
he polishes the bar. Some of the beer that is pumped up
spills into glasses and has to be sold.

Behind the bar-tender is a mechanism called a cash-register,
which, on being struck a powerful blow, rings a bell,
sticks up a card marked NO SALE, and opens a till from
which the bar-tender distributes money.

There is printed a tariff of drinks and prices on the

It reads thus:

Beer . . . . . . . . . . . 5 cents.
Whisky. . . . . . . . . 5 cents.
Whisky and Soda. . . . . . 5 cents.
Beer and Soda . . . . . 5 cents.
Whisky and Beer and Soda . 5 cents.
Whisky and Eggs . . . . 5 cents.
Beer and Eggs . . . . . 5 cents.
Champagne. . . . . . 5 cents.
Cigars . . . . . . . 5 cents.
Cigars, extra fine . . . . 5 cents.

All calculations are made on this basis and are worked
out to three places of decimals. Every seventh drink is
on the house and is not followed by a distribution of

The bar-room closes at midnight, provided there are enough
people in it. If there is not a quorum the proprietor
waits for a better chance. A careful closing of the bar
will often catch as many as twenty-five people. The bar
is not opened again till seven o'clock in the morning;
after that the people may go home. There are also,
nowadays, Local Option Hotels. These contain only one
entrance, leading directly into the bar.

An Experiment With Policeman Hogan

Mr. scalper sits writing in the reporters' room of The
Daily Eclipse. The paper has gone to press and he is
alone; a wayward talented gentleman, this Mr. Scalper,
and employed by The Eclipse as a delineator of character
from handwriting. Any subscriber who forwards a specimen
of his handwriting is treated to a prompt analysis of
his character from Mr. Scalper's facile pen. The literary
genius has a little pile of correspondence beside him,
and is engaged in the practice of his art. Outside the
night is dark and rainy. The clock on the City Hall marks
the hour of two. In front of the newspaper office Policeman
Hogan walks drearily up and down his beat. The damp misery
of Hogan is intense. A belated gentleman in clerical
attire, returning home from a bed of sickness, gives him
a side-look of timid pity and shivers past. Hogan follows
the retreating figure with his eye; then draws forth a
notebook and sits down on the steps of The Eclipse building
to write in the light of the gas lamp. Gentlemen of
nocturnal habits have often wondered what it is that
Policeman Hogan and his brethren write in their little
books. Here are the words that are fashioned by the big
fist of the policeman:

"Two o'clock. All is well. There is a light in Mr.
Scalper's room above. The night is very wet and I am
unhappy and cannot sleep--my fourth night of insomnia.
Suspicious-looking individual just passed. Alas, how
melancholy is my life! Will the dawn never break! Oh,
moist, moist stone."


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