BEST SHORT STORIES
Collected by THOMAS L. MASSON
Published by DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY for REVIEW OF REVIEWS CO. 1922
A FOREWORD TO EVERYBODY
There is a wide difference of opinion, even among the most discriminating critics, as to what constitutes the point of a good joke. Aside from varying temperaments, this is largely due to one's experience with life in general. Or intimate acquaintance with certain phases of life gives us a subtler appreciation of certain niceties, which would be lost upon those who have not traveled over that particular path. The doctor, the lawyer, the family man, and the soldier, each have their minds sensitized to their own fields of thought. Human nature, however, works according to universal laws, and a really first-class joke strikes home to the majority.
The compiler of this collection has had it in mind to get as much variety as possible, while at the same time to use only such material as serves to illustrate some easily recognizable human trait.
It is almost needless to say that this book should not be read continuously. It should be taken in small doses, as it is highly concentrated.
Many old friends will be noticed in the crowd. But old friends, even among jokes, should not be passed by too lightly.
BEST SHORT STORIES
THE POINT OF HONOR
A young lieutenant was passed by a private, who failed to salute. The lieutenant called him back, and said sternly:
"You did not salute me. For this you will immediately salute two hundred times."
At this moment the General came up.
"What's all this?" he exclaimed, seeing the poor private about to begin.
The lieutenant explained.
"This ignoramus failed to salute me, and as a punishment, I am making him salute two hundred times."
"Quite right," replied the General, smiling. "But do not forget, sir, that upon each occasion you are to salute in return."
ALWAYS GET THE FACTS
It is never wise to jump to conclusions. Always wait until the evidence is all in.
A Jersey man of a benevolent turn of mind encountered a small boy in his neighborhood who gave evidence of having emerged but lately from a severe battle.
"I am sorry," said the man, "to see that you have a black eye, Sammy."
Whereupon Sammy retorted:
"You go home and be sorry for your own little boy—he's got two!"
CAN THIS BE TRUE?
A certain Irishman was taken prisoner by the Huns. While he was standing alone, waiting to be assigned to his prison, or whatever fate awaited him, the Kaiser came up.
"Hello," said the Kaiser. "Who have we here?"
"I'm an Irishman, your honor."
Then he winked solemnly.
"Oi say," he continued. "We didn't do a thing to you Germans, did we? Eh, old chap?"
The Kaiser was horrified. Calling an orderly he said to him:
"Take this blasphemer away and put a German uniform on him, and then bring him back."
Shortly the Irishman was returned, in a full German uniform.
"Well," said the Kaiser, "maybe you feel better now. How is it?"
Pat grabbed him by the arm, and leaning over, whispered:
"Oi say, we gave them Irish Hell, didn't we?"
NEW SERVANT-GIRL STORY
The wife of a successful young literary man had hired a buxom Dutch girl to do the housework. Several weeks passed and from seeing her master constantly about the house, the girl received an erroneous impression.
"Ogscuse me, Mrs. Blank," she said to her mistress one day, "but I like to say somedings."
The girl blushed, fumbled with her apron, and then replied, "Vell, you pay me four tollars a veek—'
"Yes, and I really can't pay you any more."
"It's not dot," responded the girl; "but I be villing to take tree tollars till—till your husband gets vork."
HE WAS BROAD MINDED
Even married life does not affect some people unpleasantly, or take away the fine spirit of their charity.
A certain factory-owner tells of an old employee who came into the office and asked for a day off.
"I guess we can manage it, Pete," says the boss, "tho we are mighty short-handed these days. What do you want to get off for?"
"Ay vant to get married," blushed Pete, who is by way of being a Scandinavian.
"Married? Why, look here—it was only a couple of months ago that you wanted to get off because your wife was dead!"
"Yas, ay gess so."
"And you want to get married again, with your wife only two months dead?"
"Yas. Ay ain't ban hold no grudge long."
MISSED HIS CHANCE
Before introducing Lieutenant de Tessan, aide to General Joffre, and Colonel Fabry, the "Blue Devil of France," Chairman Spencer, of the St. Louis entertainment committee, at the M.A.A. breakfast told this anecdote:
"In Washington Lieutenant de Tessan was approached by a pretty American girl, who said:
"'And did you kill a German soldier?'
"'Yes,' he replied.
"'With what hand did you do it?' she inquired.
"'With this right hand,' he said.
"And then the pretty American girl seized his right hand and kissed it. Colonel Fabry stood near by. He strolled over and said to Lieutenant de Tessan:
"'Heavens, man, why didn't you tell her that you bit him to death?'"
GREAT RELIEF IN HEAVEN
The following story is from the Libre Belgique, the anonymous periodical secretly published in Brussels, and which the utmost vigilance of the German authorities has been unable to suppress.
Once upon a time Doctor Bethman-Holweg went up to heaven. The pearly gates were shut, but he began to push his way through in the usual German fashion. St. Peter rushed out of his lodge, much annoyed at the commotion.
"Hi, there, who are you?" he demanded.
"I am Doctor Von Bethman-Holweg, the imperial chancellor," was the haughty reply.
"Well, you don't seem to be dead; what are you doing around here?"
"I want to see God."
"Sorry," replied St. Peter, "but I don't think you can see him to-day; in fact, he's not very well."
"Ah, I'm distressed to hear that," said the chancellor somewhat more politely. "What seems to be the trouble?"
"We don't quite know, but we are afraid it is a case of exaggerated ego," answered St. Peter. "He keeps walking up and down, occasionally striking his chest with his clenched fist, and muttering to himself: 'I am the kaiser! I am the kaiser!'"
"Dear me! that is really very sad," said the chancellor in a still kindlier tone. "Now I happen to be the bearer of a communication from my imperial master; perhaps it might cheer him up to hear it."
"What is it?"
"Why, the emperor has just issued a decree, providing that in future he shall have the use of the nobiliary particle; from henceforth he will have the right to call himself 'Von Gott'."
"Step right in, your excellency," interrupted St. Peter. "I am very sure the new Graf will be much gratified to learn of the honor done him. Third door to the right. Mind the step. Thank you."
A story about Lord Kitchener, who was often spoken of as "the most distinguished bachelor in the world," is being told. A young member of his staff when he was in India asked for a furlough in order to go home and be married. Kitchener listened to him patiently then he said:
"Kenilworth, you're not yet twenty-five. Wait a year. If then you still desire to do this thing you shall have leave."
The year passed. The officer once more proffered his request.
"After thinking it over for twelve months," said Kitchener, "you still wish to marry?"
"Very well, you shall have your furlough. And frankly, my boy, I scarcely thought there was so much constancy in the masculine world."
Kenilworth, the story concludes, marched to the door, but turned to say as he was leaving: "Thank you, sir. Only it's not the same woman."
HE KNEW THE LAW
An old colored man charged with stealing chickens was arraigned in court and was incriminating himself when the judge said:
"You ought to have a lawyer. Where's your lawyer?"
"Ah ain't got no lawyer, jedge," said the old man.
"Very well, then," said his honor, "I'll assign a lawyer to defend you."
"Oh, no, suh; no, suh! Please don't do dat!" the darky begged.
"Why not?" asked the judge. "It won't cost you anything. Why don't you want a lawyer?"
"Well, jedge, Ah'll tell you, suh," said the old man, waving his tattered old hat confidentially. "Hit's dis way. Ah wan' tah enjoy dem chickens mahse'f."
A SERMON ON THE WAR BY PARSON BROWN
The historic colored preacher who held forth so strenuously after the Civil War has almost become obsolete, but in certain sections he still holds his own, as the following sermon, taken from Life, will show:
Brederen an' Sisterin: I done read de Bible from kiver to kiver, from lid to lid an' from end to end, an' nowhar do I find a mo' 'propriate tex' at dis time, when de whole worl' is scrimmigin' wid itse'f, dan de place whar Paul Pinted de Pistol at de Philippines an' said, "Dou art de man."
Kaiser Bill ob Germany is de man, an' Uncle Sam done got de pistol pinted his way, an' goin' to pull de trigger, lessen Bill gits off his perch, like dat woman Jezebel dat sassed Ahab from de roof top.
Ahab say to his soldiers, "Go up an' th'ow dat woman down," an' dey th'ew her down. Den he say, "Go up an' th'ow her down again," an' dey th'ew her down again; an' he say, "Take her back up an th'ow her down seben times," an' dey th'owed her down seben times, an' ast if dat ain't enough.
But Ahab done got his dander up, an' say, "No! Dat ain't enough. Th'ow her down sebenty times seben."
And afterwards dey done pick up twelve baskets ob de fragments dereob.
Dat's what gwine ter happen ter dat Bill Heah Him Hollerin.
De Good Book done fo'told dis here war, an' jist how it gwine ter end. Don't it say about de four beasts in de book of Relations, what spit fire an' brimstone, meanin' de Kaiser, de Turks, de Ostriches, and de Bullgeraniums, case two ob dem beasteses is birds, an' Ostriches an' Turkys is birds. De bigges' beast is de Kaiser, case he uses Germans to pizen his enemies. De newspapers say as how diseases is all caused by Germans gittin' in de food an' bein' breathed in de lungs, givin' folks hydrophobia an' lumbago an' consumption.
Dis brings us to de time when Abraham led de chillun ob Israel into Egypt, an' Moses led 'em out again case de folks ob Egypt so bad dey shoot craps all day, and eben make Faro de king. Dey take all de money 'way from de Jews an' raise de price ob cawn an' hay till de po' Jews can't live.
Rockefeller-Morgan Faro, de king, say dey can't go, but Moses done got de Lawd on his side, an' he crossed de Red Sea in submarines, so Faro got drowned wid all his host. De mummy ob dat same Faro is still alive in de big museums ob de world, but whar de host is no man can tell.
Dat de way de Wall Street gang dat been raisin' de price ob food gwine ter pass in dey checks—in de Red Sea ob blood ob dis war.
Moses an' de Jews went trabelin' ober de desert till one day dey gits so hungry dey makes a fatted calf ob gold while Moses up on Mount Sinai gittin' de law laid down. Moses come er-cussin' back an' busted de Law ober Aaron's head, an' den dey killed de fatted calf an' put a ring on his finger. For de prodigal done return, an' dey is mo' rejoicin' ober one sinner sabed dan ninety an' nine what doan know 'nuff to put deir money in de contribution box instead ob shootin' it 'way on craps.
Oh, I knows you backsliders, an' ef any ob you doan come across while Dekin Jones passes de box, I'se gwine ter preach nex' Sunday on what happened ter de money-chasers in de temple.
We will now sing two verses ob "Th'ow Out de Lifeline, Anoder Ship Sinkin' To-day."
The hobo knocked at the back door and the lady of the house appeared.
"Lady," he said, "I was at the front—"
"You poor man!" she exclaimed. "One of war's victims. Wait till I get you some food, and you shall tell me your story. You were in the trenches, you say?"
"Not in the trenches. I was at the front—"
"Don't try to talk with your mouth full. Take your time. What deed of heroism did you do at the front?"
"Why, I knocked, but I couldn't make nobody hear, so I came around to the back."
LIFE'S ETERNAL QUERY
Did it ever occur to you that a man's life is full of cussedness? He comes into the world without his consent, and goes out against his will, and the trip between is exceedingly rocky.
When he is little, the big girls kiss him; when he is big, the little girls kiss him. If he is poor, he is a bad manager; if he is rich, he's a crook. If he is prosperous, everybody wants to do him a favor; if he needs credit, they hand him a lemon.
If he is in politics, it is for graft; if out of politics, he is no good to his country. If he doesn't give to charity, he's a tightwad; if he does, it's for show. If he is actively religious, he is a hypocrite; and if he takes no interest in religion, he is a heathen.
If he is affectionate, he is a soft mark; if he cares for no one, he is cold-blooded. If he dies young, there was a great future for him; if he lives to an old age, he missed his calling.
If you don't fight, you're yellow; if you do, you're a brute.
If you save your money, you're a grouch; if you spend it, you're a loafer; if you get it, you're a grafter, and if you don't get it, you're a bum.
So what's the use?
Even certain professors, who are supposed to be immune from commercial inducements are sometimes financially overcautious. A party of tourists were watching Professor X as he exhumed the wrapt body of an ancient Egyptian.
"Judging from the utensils about him," remarked the professor, "this mummy must have been an Egyptian plumber."
"Wouldn't it be interesting," said a romantic young lady, "if we could bring him to life?"
"Interesting, but a bit risky," returned Professor X. "Somebody might have to pay him for his time."
A young planter in Mississippi had an old servant called Uncle Mose, who had cared for him as a child and whose devotion had never waned. The young man became engaged to a girl of the neighborhood who had a reputation for unusual beauty and also for a very violent temper. Noticing that Uncle Mose never mentioned his approaching marriage, the planter said:
"Mose, you know I am going to marry Miss Currier?"
"Yassuh, I knows it."
"I haven't heard you say anything about it," persisted the planter.
"No, suh," said Mose. "Tain't fo' me to say nothin' 'bout it. I's got nothin' to say."
"But you must have some opinion about so important a step on my part."
"Well, suh," said the old negro with some hesitation, "yo' knows one thing—the most p'izonest snakes has got the most prettiest skins."
THE NEW REGIME
The new change in social conditions to be brought about by the war is illustrated in the following advertisements taken from Life:
HUSBAND AND WIFE would like position as gardener and cook, or will do anything. 23 years in last place as czar and czarina. Salary not so important as permanent place in quiet, peaceful atmosphere. Address ROMANOFF, this paper.
EMPLOYERS, giving up royalty, would like to secure position for their king. Steady, experienced, thoroughly broken to crown and sceptre. Distance no objection. Will go anywhere. Small salary to start. CONSTANTINE, 49 Greece, in rear. (Ring Sophy's bell.)
YOUNG MONARCH, 28 years old, 4 years as king in last place, would accept like position in small, tranquil country, Latin preferred. No objection to South America. Light, rangy and stylish, very fast, and thoroughly broken to bombs and revolutions. MANUEL J. PORTUGAL, London.
KING AND QUEEN, Swedish, expecting to make change shortly, would like position as gardener and coachman, cook and laundress. Good home more important than salary. A1 references. Address GUS and VICKY, care this paper.
EMPEROR, 29 years as Kaiser in present position, expecting to be at liberty shortly, owing to change in employers' circumstances, would like place as assassin, or pig-sticker in abattoir. No aversion to blood. Cool, resourceful, determined. Address EFFICIENT, care this paper.
WHERE IGNORANCE IS BLISS;
Thus, seeking to be kind and fraternal, but at the same time perfectly honest, if we make mistakes, we may still comfort ourselves with the assurance which his Irish Catholic servant once expressed to the devout and learned Bishop Whately.
"Do you really believe," he asked her, "that there is no salvation outside of the Roman Catholic Church?"
"Shure, an' I do," she replied, "for that's what the praist ses."
"Well, then, what is going to become of me?"
"Oh, that's all right," she answered, with an Irish twinkle in her eyes. "Yer riverence will be saved by yer ignorince."
WHEN THE "S" FELL OUT
"We are thorry to thay," explained the editor of the Skedunk Weekly News, "that our compothing-room wath entered lath night by thome unknown thcoundrel, who thtole every 'eth' in the ethtablithment, and thucceeded in making hith ethcape undetected.
"The motive of the mithcreant doubtleth wath revenge for thome thuppothed inthult.
"It thall never be thaid that the petty thpite of any thmall-thouled villain hath dithabled the Newth, and if thith meet the eye of the detethtable rathcal, we beg to athure him that he underethtimated the rethourceth of a firtht-clath newthpaper when he thinkth he can cripple it hopelethly by breaking into the alphabet. We take occathion to thay to him furthermore that before next Thurthday we thall have three timeth ath many etheth ath he thtole.
"We have reathon to thuthpect that we know the cowardly thkunk who committed thith act of vandalithm, and if he ith ever theen prowling about thith ethtablithment again, by day or by night, nothing will give uth more thatithfaction than to thoot hith hide full of holeth."
FULL PARTICULARS FREE
They were seated in a tramcar—the mother and her little boy.
The conductor eyed the little boy suspiciously. He had to keep a lookout for people who pretended that their children were younger than they really were, in order to obtain free rides for them.
"And how old is your little boy, madam, please?"
"Three and a half," said the mother truthfully.
"Right, ma'am," said the conductor, satisfied.
Little Willie pondered a minute. It seemed to him that fuller information was required.
"And mother's thirty-one," he said politely.
THEY WERE SO GLAD TO SEE HIM
"I am taking some notes about civic pride," said the urbane stranger, as he wandered into the up-to-date community. "I suppose you have such a thing?"
"Well, I should say we had," said the corner real estate agent. "I am loaded with it myself."
"Good!" replied the agent, taking out his memo-book. "I'll make a note of it. This, you will understand, is a more or less scientific inquiry, and I shall make my estimates as carefully as possible, with all due regard to the human equation. Who, should you say, has the most civic pride in town?"
"That is some problem," replied the agent, "but you might go across the way to the Woman's Club. Out of courtesy to the ladies I am ready to yield the palm."
"Yes," said the president of the Woman's Club when she had heard the visitor's errand. "We have the most civic pride, of course. The Town Council thinks it has, and the Board of Education thinks it has, but pay no attention to them; we are on the job day and night; as a factory for turning out civic pride, nobody in this vicinity can beat us. You want to hear my lecture on the subject at the next meeting."
"Thanks," said the visitor, "but you will appreciate that in these piping times of war, I am a busy man, and must hurry on. Has anybody else any civic pride here that you could name?"
He was presented with a list and went about town getting them all down. At the end of several days, all the organizations in town that dealt in civic pride got together and arranged for a banquet for the distinguished stranger. They were immensely proud that he had come among them.
It was a great affair. The mayor, who was swelling with civic pride, vied with the president of the Woman's Club. It was, indeed, a neck-and-neck race between them as to who had the greater quantity of civic pride.
At the end of the banquet, when they were all bidding the guest good-bye with tears streaming down their faces, the only pessimist in town got up and said:
"Excuse me, ladies and gentlemen, for obtruding my repellent personality on this joyful assemblage, but our dear guest will not, I am sure, object to answering a simple question. I have no civic pride myself, but do you mind, sir, telling me the object of your visit to this lovely little burg?"
"Certainly not," said the guest, as he prepared to take a quick slant through the door, "no objection at all. You see, my friends, civic pride is the only thing that the government hasn't taxed. You'll get your bills a little later, based on your own estimates. Much obliged for all your first-hand information."
HAD TO BE SETTLED
"Johnny, it was very wrong for you and the boy next door to fight."
"We couldn't help it, father."
"Could you not have settled your differences by a peaceful discussion of the matter, calling in the assistance of unprejudiced opinion, if need be?"
"No, father. He was sure he could whip me and I was sure I could whip him, and there was only one way to find out."
The sergeant-major had the reputation of never being at a loss for an answer. A young officer made a bet with a brother officer that he would in less than twenty-four hours ask the sergeant-major a question that would baffle him.
The sergeant-major accompanied the young officer on his rounds, in the course of which the cook-house was inspected. Pointing to a large copper of water just commencing to boil, the officer said:
"Why does that water only boil round the edges of the copper and not in the centre?"
"The water round the edge, sir," replied the veteran, "is for the men on guard; they have their breakfast half an hour before the remainder of the company."
ACCOUNTING FOR IT
Levi Cohen was looking very dejected. That morning he left the house with five pounds in his pocket to try his luck at the races, but, alas! he had returned at nightfall footsore and weary, and nothing in his possession but a bad half-penny.
No wonder his better half was in a bad temper. "How is it," she snapped, "that you're so unlucky at the races, and yet you always win at cards?"
"Well, my dear," responded Levi, meekly, "you see, it's this way: I don't shuffle the horses."
A keen-eyed mountaineer led his overgrown son into a country schoolhouse.
"This here boy's arter larnin'," he announced. "What's yer bill o' fare?"
"Our curriculum, sir," corrected the school-master, "embraces geography, arithmetic, trigonometry—"
"That'll do," interrupted the father. "That'll do. Load him up well with triggernometry. He's the only poor shot in the family."
A REVISED CLASSIC
"Now, my dear girl," said Bluebeard, "remember you can go anywhere in the house but the pantry. That is locked up, and the key will be placed under the mat. Remove it at your peril."
Consumed with curiosity, Mrs. Bluebeard could scarcely wait until her husband had cranked his machine before she was trying the key. It fitted perfectly. She turned it, and entered. Within was the finest collection of provisions that she had ever seen: at least a hundred dozen eggs preserved in water, sacks of potatoes, barrels of wheat—in fact, a complete commissary department.
And then, as she looked out of the window, she gave a faint scream. Her husband was returning. He had a puncture. She retained her presence of mind, however, long enough to step to the telephone. Just as she had finished delivering the message Bluebeard entered.
"Ha!" he exclaimed. "So you have forced the pantry. I see flour on your lips. Prepare to die."
Mrs. Bluebeard only smiled.
"Not so fast," she muttered. At this moment Herbert Hoover entered the house.
"So you are the wretch who has been storing up private food supplies, contrary to my orders!" he exclaimed. "Ninety days in jail!"
Whereupon Mrs. Bluebeard, waving her late lord and master farewell, prepared to beat up a luscious eggnog.
Sandy Macpherson came home after many years and met his old sweetheart. Honey-laden memories thrilled through the twilight and flushed their glowing cheeks.
"Ah, Mary," exclaimed Sandy, "ye're just as beautiful as ye ever were, and I ha'e never forgotten ye, my bonnie lass."
"And ye, Sandy," she cried, while her blue eyes moistened, "are just as big a leear as ever, an' I believe ye jist the same."
An alien, wishing to be naturalized, applied to the clerk of the office, who requested him to fill out a blank, which he handed him. The first three lines of the blank ran as follows:
The answers follow:
Name, Jacob Levinsky.
Pat O'Flaherty, very palpably not a prohibitionist, was arrested in Arizona recently, charged with selling liquor in violation of the Prohibition law. But Pat had an impregnable defense. His counsel, in addressing the jury, said:
"Your Honor, gentlemen of the jury, look at the defendant."
A dramatic pause, then:
"Now, gentlemen of the jury, do you honestly think that if the defendant had a quart of whiskey he would sell it?"
The verdict, reached in one minute, was "Not guilty."
A full-blown second lieutenant was endeavoring to display his great knowledge of musketry. Sauntering up to the latest recruit, he said:
"See here, my man, this thing is a rifle, this is the barrel, this is the butt, and this is where you put the cartridge in."
The recruit seemed to be taking it all in, so the officer, continuing, said:
"You put the weapon to your shoulder; these little things on the barrel are called sights; then to fire you pull this little thing, which is called the trigger. Now, smarten yourself up, and remember what I have told you; and, by the way, what trade did you follow before you enlisted? A collier, I suppose!"
"No, sir," came the reply; "I only worked as a gunsmith for the Government Small Arms Factory."
THE ECLIPSE TO ORDER
On the evening before a solar eclipse the colonel of a German regiment of infantry sent for all the sergeants and said to them:
"There will be an eclipse of the sun to-morrow. The regiment will meet on the parade ground in undress. I will come and explain the eclipse before drill. If the sky is cloudy the men will meet in the drill shed, as usual."
Whereupon the ranking sergeant drew up the following order of the day:
"To-morrow morning, by order of the colonel, there will be an eclipse of the sun. The regiment will assemble on the parade ground, where the colonel will come and superintend the eclipse in person. If the sky is cloudy the eclipse will take place in the drill shed."
Two brothers were being entertained by a rich friend. As ill luck would have it, the talk drifted away from ordinary topics.
"Do you like Omar Khayyam?" thoughtlessly asked the host, trying to make conversation. The elder brother plunged heroically into the breach.
"Pretty well," he said, "but I prefer Chianti."
Nothing more was said on this subject until the brothers were on their way home.
"Bill," said the younger brother, breaking a painful silence, "why can't you leave things that you don't understand to me? Omar Khayyam ain't a wine, you chump; it's a cheese."
An old South Carolina darky was sent to the hospital of St. Xavier in Charleston. One of the gentle, black-robed sisters put a thermometer in his mouth to take his temperature. Presently, when the doctor made his rounds, he said:
"Well, Nathan, how do you feel?"
"I feel right tol'ble, boss."
"Have you had any nourishment?"
"What did you have?"
"A lady done gimme a piece of glass ter suck, boss."
HAD HAD TREATMENT
He was a mine-sweeper, and, home on leave, was feeling a bit groggy. He called to see a doctor, who examined him thoroughly.
"You're troubled with your throat, you say?" said the doctor.
"Aye, aye, sir," said the sailor.
"Have you ever tried gargling it with salt and water?" asked the doctor.
The mine-sweeper groaned.
"I should say so!" he said. "I've been torpedoed seven times!"
HOW HE GOT THEM
A British soldier was walking down the Strand one day. He had one leg off and an arm off and both ears missing and his head was covered with bandages, and he was making his way on low gear as best he could, when he was accosted by an intensely sympathetic lady who said:
"Oh, dear, dear! I cannot tell you how sorry I am for you. This is really terrible. Can't I do something? Do tell me, did you receive all these wounds in real action?"
A weary expression came over that part of the soldier's face that was visible as he replied:
"No, madam; I was cleaning out the canary bird cage, and the d——d bird bit me!"
CAESAR VISITS CICERO
How modern are the old fellows. Here is a story related by Cicero in one of his letters which will recall the embarrassments we have ourselves felt in the presence of the unexpected.
Cicero gives an account to his friend of a visit he had just received from the Emperor Julius Caesar. He had invited Julius to pass a few days with him, but he came quite unexpectedly with a thousand men! Cicero, seeing them from afar, debated with another friend what he should do with them but at length managed to encamp them. To feed them was a less easy matter. The emperor took everything quite easily, however, and was very pleasant, "but," adds Cicero, "he is not the man to whom I should say a second time, 'if you are passing this way, give me a call.'"
WHY BE POLITE ANYWAY?
Every seat was occupied, when a group of women got in. The conductor noticed a man who he thought was asleep.
"Wake up!" shouted the conductor.
"I wasn't asleep," said the passenger.
"Not asleep! Then what did you have your eyes closed for?"
"It was because of the crowded condition of the car," explained the passenger. "I hate to see the women standing."
THE ARRIVAL OF WILHELM
What may be the Kaiser's ultimate fate is thus amusingly told by Life of the scene in Hell on a certain day:
"What's all the racket about?" said Satan, stepping out of the Brimstone Bath, where he was giving two or three U-boat commanders an extra flaying.
"Poor old Hohenzollern has got it in the neck at last," said Machiavelli, who was hosing off the premises with vitriol in preparation for a new squad of shirtwaist-factory owners.
Satan listened attentively. Indeed, it was true. The Hohenzollerns had been booted off the throne of Germany.
"Well, that's tough," said Satan. "I never could see why they chivied those poor Hohenzollerns so. They were perfect devils. I have often said so. Poor old Bill! Why, he was one of the best pupils I ever had. I heard someone say that he had made Belgium a hell upon earth. Wasn't that a compliment?"
"Not only that," said Machiavelli; "he had the novel idea of making the sea a hell, too. He and Tirpitz did magnificent work. Not even a party of schoolgirls could go on the water without getting torpedoed. They drowned I don't know how many innocent women and children in a manner worthy of the highest education."
"That deportation of non-combatants from Lille was excellent, too," mused Satan.
"Don't forget the shooting of Miss Cavell," said Machiavelli. "And there was the bombing of unfortified towns, and the poison gas. Why, in my palmiest days I never thought of anything so choice as that poison gas. I told Borgia about it, and she went green with envy."
"You're right, Mac," said Satan, treading in his excitement on a captain of Uhlans who was hanging out to cool; "that Kaiser is a regular prince of darkness. When he gets down here (and I guess he will pretty soon) we'll omit the setting-up exercises and put him right into advanced tactics. Come to think of it, there were those prison camps, too, where he allowed captured soldiers to rot with filth and disease without any physicians. Excellent!"
"There's only one drawback," said Machiavelli regretfully. "The man has raised so much hell on earth that I doubt if there's much we can teach him down here. Really, he's not an amateur at all, but a professional. I don't know whether it wouldn't be more punishment to send him to heaven instead. As a matter of fact, down here he'll feel perfectly at home."
"I guess we can still think up one or two little novelties for him," said Satan, as he opened a trap-door and let a dozen of Billy Sunday's converts drop into the blazing sulphur.
When Julia Ward Howe died, memorial services in her honor were held at San Francisco, and the local literary colony attended practically en masse to pay by their presence a tribute to the writer.
A municipal officer was asked to preside. Dressed in his long frock coat and his broad white tie, he advanced to the edge of the platform to launch the exercises and introduce the principal eulogist. He bowed low and spoke as follows:
"Your attendance here, ladies and gents, in such great numbers shows San Francisco's appreciation of good literature. This meeting is a great testimonial to the immortal author of 'Uncle Tom's Cabin'—the late Julia Ward Howard!"
William M. Chase used to tell this story:
"I was standing on a railway platform in Japan, waiting for a train, and whiling away my time by watching a particularly beautiful sunset.
"Suddenly a freight train pulled in and, stopping in front of me, cut off my view. Being a good American, and trained in a very proper respect for 'business,' I merely turned philosophically away and proceeded to look at something else. In a moment, however, the station master appeared at my side and inquired with the politest of bows if I had been enjoying the sunset.
"I admitted that I had, and smilingly accepted his apology for the intrusion of the train. 'Of course I recognized that trains were the first consideration in stations,' I said.
"Imagine my surprise, then, when the little Japanese shook his head firmly. 'But no,' he said, bowing even more deeply than before, 'the train must not be allowed to obstruct the honorable artistic traveler's honorable aesthetic enjoyment'—or words to that effect. 'I will cause it to withdraw,'
"And he actually did precisely that!"
ALAS! TOO LATE!
The Englishman's undying love for certain civilized things is thus portrayed by R. Richard Schayer in Life.
In a gorse bush a hundred yards beyond his trench lay Lieutenant Fitzhugh Throckmorton of the King's Own Rifles, asleep at his post. For hours he had lain there, searching the position of the enemy through his binoculars. Overcome by fatigue, he had nodded, drowsed, and finally slumbered.
The sun hung low in the western mists when Throckmorton awoke. He glanced at his wristwatch and sprang to his feet with an oath. Regardless of peril, he turned and sprinted toward his trench. His was not a nature to count the risk when duty, however delayed, called. Every German sniper within range sent shot upon shot after the flying figure. The enemy's trenches took up the hunt and fairly blazed with rifle and machine gun fire. The bullets hummed in Throckmorton's ears like a swarm of savage hornets. They snarled and bit at the turf about his feet like a pack of wolves.
With a last desperate burst of speed, his clothing tattered with bullet holes, the Lieutenant gained his trench and leaped down to its cover. His face, wearing an expression of mingled hope and despair, he rushed to the bomb-proof dug-out where sat his Colonel and brother officers. They looked up at him with cold eyes. One glance and Throckmorton's heart failed him. He was too late.
They had finished tea.
WHO COULD TELL?
A Scottish doctor who was attending a laird had instructed the butler of the house in the art of taking and recording his master's temperature with a thermometer. On paying his usual morning call he was met by the butler, to whom he said: "Well, John, I hope the laird's temperature is not any higher to-day?"
The man looked puzzled for a minute, and then replied: "Weel, I was just wonderin' that mysel'. Ye see, he deed at twal' o'clock."
HE COULDN'T HAVE MISSED IT
The average foreigner can rarely comprehend the geographical area of the United States, as was quite fully illustrated by the Englishman and his valet who had been traveling due west from Boston for five days. At the end of the fifth day master and servant were seated in the smoking-car, and it was observed that the man was gazing steadily and thoughtfully out of the window. Finally his companion became curious. "William," said he, "of what are you thinking?"
"I was just thinking, sir, about the discovery of Hamerica," replied the valet. "Columbus didn't do such a wonderful thing, after all, when he found this country, did he, now, sir? Hafter hall's said an' done, 'ow could 'e 'elp it?"
The sniper is ever prevalent on the western front. A certain Colonel, who was by the way quite unpopular with his regiment, was one afternoon sitting in a shack, when a report was heard and a bullet whizzed over his head.
Calling a private, he said testily:
"Go out and get that sniper."
The man was gone for some time, but he eventually returned with Fritz. He had not got him in, however, before he began to belabor him fiercely.
"What are you beating up that Hun for?" asked a comrade.
"He missed the Colonel," whispered the other.
Miss Amy Lowell, sister of President Lowell of Harvard, is not only a distinguished poetess, being by many considered the head of the Vers Libre school in this country, but she is also the guardian of a most handsome and stately presence.
Oliver Herford, himself a poet and wit, doubtless inspired by envy, recently remarked of her that
"One half of Amy Lowell doesn't know how the other half lives."
A GENTLE DISSOLUTION
A couple of Philadelphia youths, who had not met in a long while, met and fell to discussing their affairs in general.
"I understand," said one, "that you broke your engagement with Clarice Collines."
"No, I didn't break it."
"Oh, she broke it?"
"No, she didn't break it."
"But it is broken?"
"Yes. She told me what her raiment cost, and I told her what my income was. Then our engagement sagged in the middle and gently dissolved."
A FUTILE EXPERIMENT
William Williams hated nicknames. He used to say that most fine given names were ruined by abbreviations, which was a sin and a shame. "I myself," he said, "am one of six brothers. We were all given good, old-fashioned Christian names, but all those names were shortened into meaningless or feeble monosyllables by our friends. I shall name my children so that it will be impracticable to curtail their names."
The Williams family, in the course of time, was blessed with five children, all boys. The eldest was named after the father—William. Of course, that would be shortened to "Will" or enfeebled to "Willie"—but wait! A second son came and was christened Willard. "Aha!" chuckled Mr. Williams, "Now everybody will have to speak the full names of each of these boys in order to distinguish them."
In pursuance of this scheme the next three sons were named Wilbert, Wilfred, and Wilmont.
They are all big boys now. And they are respectively known to their intimates as Bill, Skinny, Butch, Chuck, and Kid.
THEY MEANT TO BE PAID
No man is ever willing to admit that he has any prejudices. But sometimes the facts confront him sternly, as in the case of the two gentlemen in the following dialogue:
BRIGGS: I wonder why it is that when men like Bryan and Billy Sunday accept good money we have a tendency secretly to despise them.
GRIGGS: Well, I presume because they are posing to be disinterested. When they take away such big returns we set them down as hypocrites.
BRIGGS: But they have a right to make a living.
GRIGGS: You might say that of any one else—any get-rich-quick chap, for example, provided he can get away with it.
BRIGGS: But the get-rich-quick man is cheating his customers.
GRIGGS: Well, a good many people feel that both Bryan and Sunday are cheating their customers. I don't say they are, mind you. I am only giving that side of the argument, and, according to it, they are deluding their customers with false hopes. Bryan says that a combination of free silver, grape juice, and peace will cure all ills, and he gets five hundred dollars a lecture for saying it. Billy Sunday gets thousands of dollars for dragging hell out into the limelight. They are both popular forms of amusement. They divert the mind. Why shouldn't they be paid? There are far worse moving-picture shows than Bryan or Sunday.
BRIGGS: You believe that, now, don't you? Be honest and say it's your genuine opinion, and not put it off on someone else.
GRIGGS (Lowering his voice): Well, I'll tell you, old chap. I believe it about Bryan, but not about Sunday. Sunday's all right. He hates money! How do you feel about it?
BRIGGS: You're wrong. I believe it about Sunday, but not about Bryan. Bill Bryan is all right. He's a patriot. I wouldn't trust Sunday, but W.J. Bryan's whole thought is for others. (Looking at his watch.) Heavens! I didn't realize it was so late. I must rush off.
GRIGGS: Is it that late? I must hurry away also. Where are you going?
BRIGGS: I'm going to hear Sunday. Where are you going?
GRIGGS: I'm going to hear Bryan.
When James B. Reynolds was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, Senator Root sent for Mr. Reynolds one day to discuss with him some matters concerning a trade conference in Paris which Mr. Reynolds had been selected to attend.
"I suppose," said Mr. Root, "you speak French?"
"Well, yes," responded Mr. Reynolds. "I know a little French. I have no trouble to make the waiters and the cab drivers understand me."
"I see," said Mr. Root. "But, Mr. Reynolds, suppose there should be no waiters and cab drivers at the conference?"
Much sobered by the importance of the news he had to communicate, youthful Thomas strode into the house and said breathlessly:
"Mother, they have a new baby next door, and the lady over there is awful sick. Mother, you ought to go right in and see her."
"Yes, dear," said his mother. "I will go over in a day or two just as soon as she gets better."
"But, mother," persisted Thomas. "I think you ought to go in right away; she is real sick, and maybe you can do something to help."
"Yes, dear," said the mother patiently, "but wait a day or so until she is just a little better."
Thomas seemed much dissatisfied at his mother's apparent lack of neighborly interest, and then something seemed to dawn upon him, for he blurted out:
"Mother, you needn't be afraid—it ain't catching."
MIGHT DRAW BUSINESS
Burton Holmes, the lecturer, had an interesting experience while in London. He told some Washington friends a day or two ago that when he visited the theatre where he was to deliver his travelogue he decided that the entrance to the theatre was rather dingy and that there should be more display of his attraction.
Accordingly, he suggested to the manager of the house that the front be brightened up at night by electrical signs, one row of lights spelling his name "Burton" and another row of lights spelling the name "Holmes."
The manager told him it was too much of an innovation for him to authorize and referred him to the owner of the theatre. Mr. Holmes traveled several hours into the country to consult with the owner, who referred him to his agent in the city. The agent in turn sent Mr. Holmes to the janitor of the theatre.
"I talked with the janitor and explained my plan to him for about an hour," Mr. Holmes said. "Finally, after we had gone into every detail of the cost and everything else, the janitor told me that the theatre was a very exclusive and high-class theatre, and that he would not put up the sign. I asked him why?"
"Because it would attract too much attention to the theatre," the janitor replied.
The fine art of concealment is thus formulated by Carolyn Wells, writing in Life:
Once upon a time there lived an elderly millionaire who had four nephews. Desiring to make one of these his heir, he tested their cleverness.
He gave to each a one-hundred-dollar bill, with the request that they hide the bills for a year in the city of New York.
Any of them who should succeed in finding the hidden bill at the end of the year should share in the inheritance.
The year being over, the four nephews brought their reports.
The first, deeply chagrined, told how he had put his bill in the strongest and surest safety deposit vaults, but, alas, clever thieves had broken in and stolen it.
The second had put his bill in charge of a tried and true friend. But the friend had proved untrustworthy and had spent the money.
The third had hidden his bill in a crevice in the floor of his room, but a mouse had nibbled it to bits to build her nest.
The fourth nephew calmly produced his hundred-dollar bill, as crisp and fresh as when it had been given him.
"And where did you hide it?" asked his uncle.
"Too easy! I stuck it in a hotel Bible."
COMPLIMENTS OF THE DAY
Soldiers have to do their own mending when it is done at all, and it appears—although few persons would have guessed it—that the thoughtful War Office supplies them with outfits for that purpose. Otherwise, this joke would be impossible.
Everything was ready for kit inspection; the recruits stood lined up ready for the officer, and the officer had his bad temper all complete. He marched up and down the line, grimly eyeing each man's bundle of needles and soft soap, and then he singled out Private MacTootle as the man who was to receive his attentions.
"Toothbrush?" he roared.
"Hm! You're all right, apparently," growled the officer. Then he barked:
"Oh, very well, thank you," said the recruit amiably. "How's yours?"
There is a story of Bransby Williams, famous impersonator of Dickens's characters, which will come home to many of us in these days of food shortage.
He had a hard time before he "arrived," and hunger was a familiar companion. One night he had to play in a sketch in which he was supposed to consume a steak pudding.
"Imagine my surprise," he says, "when a real, good, smoking hot steak and kidney pudding arrived on the scene. 'My eye!' I exclaimed to myself. I had to cut it and serve it, and in the ordinary course of events we should have got through this stage meal in about five or six minutes.
"But not to-night! I made up my mind that that pudding should not be wasted, but eaten, and I commenced in earnest. I made the best meal I had had for days, and improvised conversation till it was all polished off!"
SHE KNEW HIM
Mr. Budger and his wife were continually at variance regarding their individual capabilities of making and keeping a good fire. He contended that she did not know how to make a fire, nor how to keep one after it was made. She, on the other hand, maintained that he never meddled with the fire that he didn't put it out—in short, that he was a perfect fire damper; and, as he was always anxious to stir up things in the varous fireplaces, she made a practice of hiding the poker just before it was time for him to come into the house. One night there was an alarm of fire in the village and Budger flew for his hat and coat.
"Where are you going, my dear?" asked his wife.
"Why, there's a fire, and I'm going to help put it out."
"Well, my love," responded Mrs. Budger, "I think the best thing you can do is to take the poker along with you."
A GET-RICH-QUICK SCHEME
Two young Irishmen in a Canadian regiment were going into the trenches for the first time, and their captain promised them five shillings each for every German they killed.
Pat lay down to rest, while Mick performed the duty of watching. Pat had not lain long when he was awakened by Mick shouting:
"They're comin'! They're comin'!"
"Who's comin'?" shouts Pat.
"The Germans," replies Mick.
"How many are there?"
"About fifty thousand."
"Begorra," shouts Pat, jumping up and grabbing his rifle, "our fortune's made!"
A FLATTERING EXPLANATION
A sturdy Scot, 6 feet 5 inches in height, is a gamekeeper near Strafford. One hot day last summer he was accompanying a bumptious sportsman, of very small stature, when he was greatly troubled by gnats. The other said to him:
"My good man, why is it that the gnats do not trouble me?"
"I daresay," replied the gamekeeper, with a comprehensive glance at the other's small proportions, "it will be because they havna' seen ye yet!"
DIDN'T SUIT HIM
Tim Casey, a juror, rose suddenly from his seat and hastened to the door of the courtroom. He was prevented, however, from leaving the room, and was sternly questioned by the judge.
"Yes, your honor, I'll explain meself," said the juror. "When Mr. Finn finished his talking me mind was clear all through, but whin Mr. Evans begins his talkin' I becomes all confused an' says I to meself, Taith, I'd better lave at once, an' shtay away until he is done,' because, your honor, to tell the truth, I didn't like the way the argument was going."
ON HER NERVES
The local pawnbroker's shop was on fire, and among the crowd of spectators was an old woman who attracted much attention by her sobs and cries of despair.
"What is the matter with you?" a fireman said. "You don't own the shop, do you?"
"No," she wailed, "but my old man's suit is pawned there, and he don't know it."
We cannot deny that one of the great questions of the day among tradespeople is how to get their bills paid. Neither can we deny that we have all been over-extravagant. This little story (which is really a satire) contains its moral.
One bright morning Mr. Dobson, an American gentleman in excellent circumstances, and yet (quite singular to relate of any American gentleman!) constantly harried by his bills, conceived of a brilliant idea. Thereupon he said to Mrs. Dobson:
"My dear, let us pay cash for one day."
"It may seem so, but you must admit that it is a brand-new idea, and therefore worth while for you, as a modern woman, to try."
This was the only possible way in which the astute Mr. Dobson could have persuaded his wife to try his ideas. They both agreed, and he gave her a hundred dollars in bright, new bills. Taking the same amount himself, he began his day.
It would be easily possible for us to make a story out of this by recording the incidents of that day. But they would be too painful for modern readers, who insist upon being amused. Sufficient is it to observe that at night the Dobsons met each other face to face.
"I have been grossly insulted by four people," said Mrs. Dobson, who looked very much the worse for wear. "By a saleswoman in a department store, my milliner, my shoemaker, and my glovemaker. I offered them all cash, and it will take years to reinstate myself with them again."
"I got in wrong with my haberdasher and my hatter," said Dobson, "and then quit for the day. I didn't have the courage to attempt to buy anything more. Your people, by the way, sent collectors to collect last month's bills. Also, I calculated this afternoon that if we should pay cash for everything, it would cost me twice my income."
"How much does it cost now?"
"I don't know—that's the strange part of it. But, my dear, isn't it worthwhile to learn something, even by making such a mistake?"
At this point Mrs. Dobson, who had been softly shedding tears, braced up and impulsively put her arms about her erring husband's neck.
"Never mind, dear," she said, "we must face this together. We are probably ruined, but we are both comparatively young, and we will live it down side by side."
In these days of the conservation of fuel no wonder a certain gentleman was disturbed.
"You've made a mistake in your paper," said this indignant man, entering the editorial sanctum of a daily paper. "I was one of the competitors at that athletic match yesterday, and you have called me 'the well-known light-weight champion.'"
"Well, aren't you?" inquired the editor.
"No, I'm nothing of the kind, and it's confoundedly awkward, because I'm in the coal business."
A kindergarten teacher entering a street-car saw a gentleman whose face seemed familiar, and she said, "Good evening!"
He seemed somewhat surprised, and she soon realized that she had spoken to a stranger. Much confused, she explained: "When I first saw you I thought you were the father of two of my children."
THIS HAPPENED IN CHICAGO
Some time after the Civil War James Russell Lowell was asked to go to Chicago to deliver a political speech upholding the Republican Party. It was a great occasion, for Russell was easily the foremost literary and political figure of the day, and his coming was widely advertised. But at the last moment, just before the address was to be delivered, for certain political reasons it was deemed inexpedient by the managers of the affair to have Russell talk politics, and so a hurried announcement was made that Mr. Russell, instead of speaking on the issues of the day, would deliver his celebrated lecture on Shakespeare. This he did, it having been correctly described by critics as the best lecture on the great poet ever delivered.
After the lecture was over, however, one of the Chicago politicians, who doubtless had never heard of Shakespeare, was in his disappointment led to exclaim:
"Hum! I suppose he thought anything was good enough for us!"
HAD HEARD HIM BEFORE
The critical instinct grows by what it is fed upon. No matter how well you may do, some people are never satisfied and this is especially true in families.
A Philadelphia divine was entertaining a couple of clergymen from New York at dinner. The guests spoke in praise of a sermon their host had delivered the Sunday before. The host's son was at the table, and one of the New York clergymen said to him: "My lad, what did you think of your father's sermon?"
"I guess it was very good," said the boy, "but there were three mighty fine places where he could have stopped."
HER DOMESTIC INSTINCTS
We must not always look down upon those innocent people who may not have had the same cultural influences we have had, although it is some difficult not to smile at their point of view:
Sir Frederick Kenyon, the Director of the British Museum and a man of great knowledge, has had all sorts of funny experiences with visitors there.
Once he was showing a distinguished lady visitor some of the priceless treasures of which he is the custodian, but for a long time nothing seemed to interest her very much.
Then suddenly he noticed a change. Her face lighted up and she leaned forward.
"What is it, madam?" asked Sir Frederick, gratified at this tardy sign of awakening appreciation. "Pray do not hesitate to ask if there is anything you would like to know."
"So good of you!" chirruped the lady. "I wish you would tell me what brand of blacklead you use on those iron ventilators that are let into the floor. We have the same sort of things at my house, but my maids never get them to shine half so brilliantly."
Anybody who, a stranger, has tried to find his way about Boston will understand the experience of Mr. Hubb, a native who was addressed by his friend Mr. Penn, from Philadelphia.
"They say," remarked Mr. Penn, "the streets in Boston are frightfully crooked."
"They are," replied Mr. Hubb. "Why, do you know, when I first went there I could hardly find my way around."
"That must be embarrassing."
"It is. The first week I was there I wanted to get rid of an old cat we had, and my wife got me to take it to the river a mile away."
"And you lost the cat all right?"
"Lost nothing! I never would have found my way home if I hadn't followed the cat!"
LOOKED THAT WAY
Doris was radiant over a recent addition to the family, and rushed out of the house to tell the news to a passing neighbor.
"Oh, you don't know what we've got upstairs."
"What is it?" the neighbor asked.
"A new baby brother," said Doris, and she watched very closely the effect of her announcement.
"You don't say so," the neighbor exclaimed. "Is he going to stay?"
"I think so," said Doris. "He's got his things off."
In a trench over in Flanders, during a slight lull in the engagement, a soldier was making an impromptu toilet. He lowered his head for an instant and thereby caught a cootie. As he did so, a shell fragment flew by, just where his head had been. He held the cootie in hand meditatively for a moment, and then said:
"Old fellow, Oi cawnt give you the Victoria Cross, but I can put you back!"
One of the ladies who first introduced interpretative dancing—whatever that is—into this country has fleshened up considerably since the days of her initial terpsichorean triumphs among the society folk along the eastern sea-board. Nevertheless, she continues to give performances to select audiences of artistic souls.
Not long ago Finley Peter Dunne, the humorist, was lured to one of these entertainments. The lady, wearing very few clothes, and, as a result of their lack, looking even plumper than usual, danced in an effect of moonlight calcium beams.
As Dunne was leaving, one of the patronesses hailed him.
"Oh, Mr. Dunne," she twittered, "how did you enjoy the madame's dancing?"
"Immensely," said Dunne. "Made me think of Grant's Tomb in love."
The wonders of modern science never cease to be of absorbing interest and even the following story, which is supposed to take place in the near future, may be more realistic than we now think possible, although it is rather hard on our good friends the doctors.
"Be seated, sir," said the distinguished practitioner.
The man who had entered the doctor's office a few moments before in obedience to the invitation sank into a luxurious chair. The doctor looked at him casually, and, touching an indicator at the side of his desk, said:
"What a pleasant day."
"Yes, it is."
A nurse appeared at the door.
"Turn on number nine hundred and eleven," said the doctor.
"Very well, sir."
The doctor turned to the patient.
"I heard a most amusing story the other day," he said.
"Just a moment. I am quite sure you will be interested in hearing it," He told the story.
The patient stirred impatiently in the chair, although the story was amusing and he laughed at it.
"By the way," he began, looking at his watch.
The doctor got up. He turned off the switch at his desk.
"It is all right, sir. You may go now."
"But I came in to see you about—"
"Yes, the operation has been performed. I should be a little bit careful for a few days if I were you. Don't play golf or walk excessively."
"You mean to say that—"
"Your appendix has been removed in accordance with your symptoms."
The patient smiled incredulously.
"When did you do it?" he asked.
"While you were sitting there. Perfectly simple. It was absorbed."
"How did you know what was the matter with me?"
"That chair sends a record of your symptoms—in fact, diagnoses your case completely—to the laboratory. All you needed was to have your appendix removed, and by turning on number nine hundred and eleven it was absorbed in three minutes. Nothing strange, sir. Quite usual, I assure you."
The man got up. His face grew rather pale. He advanced to the desk.
"How much do I owe you?" he asked.
The doctor smiled again.
"That has all been arranged, sir."
"What do you mean?"
"According to the new State law which has just gone into effect, while you were being operated on your property was transferred to me. Good morning, sir. Call again."
MR. SUNSHINE AND MR. GLOOM
Changing others over to suit yourself is not always the easiest thing in the world, although it is often tried. The head of a large firm thought he would try it, and his experience is related by one of the "boys" in the office:
The old man—for we always referred to the head of the firm in this way—called the young fellow in to him one day and said:
"Look here, young man; you've got to be more agreeable. I want everybody in this place to have a smiling face. If I didn't think you had ability I would have fired you long ago. Your manners are bad. Make 'em better. Don't be a grouch."
The young chap didn't seem to take kindly to this advice. The frown on his face was still there. But he bowed and said:
"All right, sir."
Then the old man—for it was his busy morning—called another young fellow in and said:
"Look here, young man; I don't want you to be so genial. You're always telling funny stories around the place and waiting on the girls. Your sunny smile is all right, but you carry it too far. Why, when you come around everybody stops work. Get down to business."
"That reminds me, sir," said the young chap—but his employer waved him off.
"Do as I tell you," he said sternly, "or—"
At the end of another week the old man called them both into his office.
"Neither of you seems to be improving in the way I want. But I have an idea. I'm going to put your desks next to each other. That ought to do it. You're both good men, but you lean too far in the opposite directions. Run away now and act on each other."
At the end of still another week, however, when once more they both stood in front of him, he betrayed his disappointment.
"It doesn't seem to work," he exclaimed. "What's the matter with you boys, anyway? I thought my experiment would cure both of you, but it doesn't seem to work."
Turning to Mr. Sunshine, he said:
"Look here; why hasn't he done you any good?"
Mr. Sunshine beamed and chuckled.
"Well, sir," he said, "I can't help it. Why, that fellow over there hasn't got a thing in the world to worry him. He isn't married, his salary is really more than he needs. He has no responsibilities, and if he should die to-morrow nobody would suffer. But he hasn't got sense enough to have a good time. He strikes me as being such a joke that it makes me laugh harder than ever."
Turning to Mr. Gloom, the old man said:
"Well, how about you? Why hasn't this chap done you any good?"
Mr. Gloom looked more sour than ever.
"He hasn't the slightest idea of the problems that confront me," he said, "or what I suffer. But what really makes me mad is this: He has a wife and four young children on his hands, on the same salary I get. How they manage I don't know. It isn't living at all. And when I see a fellow like that, who ought to be worried to death all the time—and who would be if he looked the facts squarely in the face—grinning and telling stories like a minstrel, it makes me so d——d mad that I can't see straight."
There are certain family privileges which we all guard jealously:
An attorney was consulted by a woman desirous of bringing action against her husband for a divorce. She related a harrowing tale of the ill-treatment she had received at his hands. So impressive was her recital that the lawyer, for a moment, was startled out of his usual professional composure. "From what you say this man must be a brute of the worst type!" he exclaimed.
The applicant for divorce arose and, with severe dignity, announced: "Sir, I shall consult another lawyer. I came here to get advice as to a divorce, not to hear my husband abused!"
MARK TWAIN ON MILLIONAIRES
At one time in his varied career Mark Twain was not only poor, but he did not make a practice of associating with millionaires. The paragraph which follows is taken from an open letter to Commodore Vanderbilt. One paragraph of the "Open Letter" is worth embalming here:
Poor Vanderbilt! How I pity you: and this is honest. You are an old man, and ought to have some rest, and yet you have to struggle, and deny yourself, and rob yourself of restful sleep and peace of mind, because you need money so badly. I always feel for a man who is so poverty ridden as you. Don't misunderstand me, Vanderbilt. I know you own seventy millions: but then you know and I know that it isn't what man has that constitutes wealth. No—it is to be satisfied with what one has; that is wealth. As long as one sorely needs a certain additional amount, that man isn't rich. Seventy times seventy millions can't make him rich, as long as his poor heart is breaking for more. I am just about rich enough to buy the least valuable horse in your stable, perhaps, but I cannot sincerely and honestly take an oath that I need any more now. And so I am rich. But you, you have got seventy millions and you need five hundred millions, and are really suffering for it. Your poverty is something appalling. I tell you truly that I do not believe I could live twenty-four hours with the awful weight of four hundred and thirty millions of abject want crushing down upon me. I should die under it. My soul is so wrought upon by your helpless pauperism that if you came to me now, I would freely put ten cents in your tin cup, if you carry one, and say, "God pity you, poor unfortunate."
A MOVING TALE
Many a young man has succumbed to his environment. The hero of the following moving tale is no exception:
She was waiting for him at the station. It was two o'clock in the afternoon, and he had to go back that evening on the midnight train. He acted like a man in a dream, but, none the less, he appeared to know precisely what he was about.
As the train drew up the station was crowded. There she was in the midst of the crowd, smiling and beckoning to him. Without a moment's hesitation, and before she even realized what was happening, he sprang forward, put his arms around her, and planted a clinging kiss on her lips. She blushed intensely and whispered as well as she could:
"Oh, you mustn't!"
He made no reply. His eyes were fixed. Half frightened, she led the way to the motor car. They got in. He promptly took her hand. She attempted to motion to him that the chauffeur was in front and could see their reflection in the glass windshield. He merely threw both arms around her and almost crushed her, as he kissed her over and over again. Her face showed surprise and indignation.
"You mustn't! We're not engaged."
"As if that mattered," he muttered, taking another kiss.
The motor car arrived at her home. They got out. They entered the house. Her mother came forward to receive them. Suddenly, without warning, he sprang forward and kissed her, throwing his arms about her like a cyclone. Her mother, attempting to free herself, gasped. This young man—whom she scarcely knew! The girl herself stared at him in open-eyed astonishment.
At this moment the maid entered the room. As she stepped forward the young man caught sight of her. Wasting no time, and before the surprised mother and daughter could stop him, he had folded the maid in his arms and kissed her also. She screamed, and finally ran away.
There was an aunt visiting them. This gentle, middle-aged spinster was dozing in the next room. Aroused by the maid's screams, she hurried into the room. But no sooner did this remarkable young man visitor see her than he promptly grabbed her, and covered her face with kisses.
The girl's father all this time had been quietly smoking on the piazza. Hearing the commotion he hurried also into the room, just in time to see the spinster lady, almost fainting with terror, tear herself loose.
"He's been kissing every one of us," murmured the girl's mother. "There must be something the matter with him."
The girl's father caught the young man squarely by the shoulders and faced him about.
"He kissed me at the station—before everybody!" sobbed the girl. "Then he kissed mama and the maid and Aunt Jane."
"What is the meaning of this?" said the girl's father, sternly. "How dare you, sir, abuse our hospitality?"
The young man shuddered. His eyes closed. Still in the clutch of his host, there was a tragic silence. Then he opened them once more and gazed feebly about him. He passed his hand wearily over his forehead.
"Forgive me!" he whispered. "It is not my fault. I live in bachelor quarters in town. My friends had all gone away and there was nothing for me to do but go to the moving picture shows night after night. I have been doing this for weeks. In the moving pictures the young man hero kisses everybody he meets. It's the regular thing—nothing but kissing, kissing, all the time. My mind has been unhinged by it. Forgive me and take me to some asylum."
Then he burst into tears, threw his arms about the old gentleman—and kissed him, and they led the poor wretch away.
At a military church service during the South African War some recruits were listening to the chaplain in church saying, "Let them slay the Boers as Joshua smote the Egyptians," when a recruit whispered to a companion:
"Say, Bill, the old bloke is a bit off; doesn't he know it was Kitchener who swiped the Egyptians?"
An American lady at Stratford-on-Avon showed even more than the usual American fervor. She had not recovered when she reached the railway station, for she remarked to a friend as they walked on the platform: "To think that it was from this very platform the immortal bard would depart whenever he journeyed to town!"
ECCLESIASTICAL DUES ENFORCED
"I canna get ower it," a Scotch farmer remarked to his wife. "I put a twa shillin' piece in the plate at the kirk this morning instead o' ma usual penny."
The beadle had noticed the mistake, and in silence he allowed the farmer to miss the plate for twenty-three consecutive Sundays.
On the twenty-fourth Sunday the farmer again ignored the plate, but the old beadle stretched the ladle in froat of him and, in a loud, tragic whisper, hoarsely said:
"Your time's up noo, Sandy."
Jennie, the colored maid, arrived one morning with her head swathed in bandages—the result of an argument with her hot-tempered spouse.
"Jennie," said her mistress, "your husband treats you outrageously. Why don't you leave him?"
"Well, I don' 'zactly wants to leave him."
"Hasn't he dragged you the length of the room by your hair?" demanded her mistress.
"Yas'm, he has done dat."
"Hasn't he choked you into insensibility?"
"Yas'm, he sho has choked me."
"And now doesn't he threaten to split your head with an ax?"
"Yas'm, he has done all dat," agreed Jennie, "but he ain' done nothin' yet so bad I couldn't live wid him."
AN EASY ADJUSTMENT
Andy Donaldson, a well-known character of Glasgow, lay on his deathbed.
"I canna' leave ye thus, Nancy," the old Scotsman wailed. "Ye're ower auld to work, an' ye couldna' live in the workhoose. Gin I dee, ye maun marry anither man, wha'll keep ye in comfort in yer auld age."
"Nay, nay, Andy," answered the good spouse; "I couldna' marry anither man, fer whit wull I daw wi' twa husbands in heaven?"
Andy pondered over this, but suddenly his face brightened.
"I ha'e it, Nancy!" he cried. "Ye ken auld John Clemmens? He's a kind man, but he's no' a member o' the kirk. He likes ye, Nancy, an' gin ye'll marry him, 'twill be a' the same in heaven. John's no' a Christian, and he's no' likely to get there."
One morning, Mollie, the colored maid, appeared before her mistress, carrying, folded in a handkerchief, a five-dollar gold piece and all her earthly possessions in the way of jewelry.
This package she proffered her mistress, with the request that Miss Sallie take it for safe keeping.
"Why, Mollie!" exclaimed the mistress in surprise. "Are you going away?"
"Naw'm, I ain' goin' nowheres," Mollie declared. "But me an' Jim Harris we wuz married this mawnin'. Yas'm, Jim, he's a new nigger in town. You don' know nothin' 'bout him, Miss Sallie. I don' know nothin' 'bout him myself. He's er stranger to me."
Miss Sallie glanced severely at the little package of jewelry.
"But, Mollie," she demanded, "don't you trust him?"
"Yas'm," replied Mollie, unruffled. "Cose I trus' him, personally—but not wid ma valuables."
AN EASY MATTER
How to own your own home is a problem which confronts the great majority. That it is oftentimes easily solved, however, is revealed by the following simple experience as related by H.M. Perley in Life:
How did we do it? Simply by going without everything we needed. When I was first married my salary was thirty dollars a month.
My mother-in-law, who lived with us, decided to save enough out of my salary to build us a home.
When the cellar was finished, I became ill and lost my position, and had to mortgage the cellar to make my first payment.
Although we went without food for thirty days the first year, we never missed a monthly payment.
The taxes, interest on mortgage, and monthly payment on house were now three times the amount of my earnings.
However, by dispensing with the service of a doctor, we lost our father and mother-in-law, which so reduced our expenses that we were able to pay for the parlor floor and windows.
In ten years seven of our nine children died, possibly owing to our diet of excelsior and prunes.
I only mention these little things to show how we were helped in saving for a home.
I wore the same overcoat for fifteen years, and was then able to build the front porch, which you see at the right of the front door.
Now, at the age of eighty-seven, my wife and I feel sure we can own our comfortable little home in about ten years and live a few weeks to enjoy it.
JEEMS HENRY WAS CONJURED.
"Mars John," excitedly exclaimed Aunt Tildy, as she pantingly rushed into a fire-engine house, "please, suh, phonograph to de car-cleaners' semporium an' notify Dan'l to emergrate home diurgently, kaze Jeems Henry sho' done bin conjured! Doctor Cutter done already distracted two blood-vultures from his 'pendercitis, an' I lef him now prezaminatin' de chile's ante-bellum fur de germans ob de neuroplumonia, which ef he's disinfected wid, dey gotter 'noculate him wid the ice-coldlated quarantimes—but I b'lieves it's conjuration!"
KEEPING IT IN THE FAMILY
A lady had the misfortune to lose her season ticket for the railway. On the same evening she had a call from two boys, the elder of whom at once handed her the lost ticket. The lady, delighted at the prompt return of her property, offered the boy a shilling for his trouble. The lad refused to accept it, telling the lady he was a Boy Scout, and that no member of the Boy Scouts is allowed to accept any return for a service rendered.
Just as the coin was about to be placed back in the purse of the lady, the boy, looking up into her face, suddenly blurted out:
"But my wee brither's no' a Scout."
NOT SO DIFFICULT
Sometimes a situation which to the kind of a mind which requires certainty seems hopeless can be adjusted in the most common-place manner:
Congressman Charles R. Davis of Minnesota relates that one afternoon a train on a Western railroad stopped at a small station, when one of the passengers, in looking over the place, found his gaze fixed upon an interesting sign. Hurrying to the side of the conductor, he eagerly inquired: "Do you think that I will have time to get a soda before the train starts?"
"Oh, yes," answered the conductor.
"But suppose," suggested the thirsty passenger, "that the train should go on without me?"
"We can easily fix that," promptly replied the conductor. "I will go along and have one with you."
DESERVED THE LEGACY
A Turkish story runs that, dying, a pious man bequeathed a fortune to his son, charging him to give L100 to the meanest man he could find.
A certain cadi filled the bill. Accordingly the dutiful son offered him L100.
"But I can't take your L100," said the cadi. "I never knew your father. There was no reason why he should leave me the money."
"It's yours, all right," persisted the mourning youth.
"I might take it in a fictitious transaction," said the cadi, relenting. "Suppose—I'll tell you what I'll do. I'll sell you all that snow in the courtyard for L100."
The young man agreed, willing to be quit of his trust on any terms. Next day he was arrested, taken before the cadi, and ordered to remove his snow at once. As this was a command the young man was utterly unable to execute, he was fined L20 by the cadi for contumacy.
"At least," the young man said ruefully as he left the court, "father's L100 went to the right man."
If you are going to be too fussy about your own particular brand of beauty then you must expect to reap the consequences.
An actor visited a beauty doctor to see if he could have something done for his nose. The beauty doctor studied the organ, and suggested a complicated straightening and remoulding process—cost, twenty guineas.
"I may go you," said the actor thoughtfully. He stroked his nose before the mirror, regarding it from all sides. "Yes, I think I'll go you. But, look here, do you promise to give my nose—er—ideal beauty?"
The surgeon grew meditative.
"As to ideal beauty, I can't say," he replied at last. "Why, my friend I couldn't help improving it a lot if I hit it with a hammer."
WHY SHOULD HE KNOW?
We cannot all of us be truly literary. Most of us lead busy lives and, after all, is it of any real importance to be familiar with the world's greatest writers? No doubt this may all depend upon our occupation, as the following conversation reveals.
The slight man with the bulging brow leaned forward and addressed the complacent looking individual with a look of almost human intelligence. It was a monotonous railway journey.
"Wonderful transportation facilities to-day, sir," he ventured. "As we have been bowling along, my mind has unconsciously been dwelling on Jane Austen. Think of it, sir, only one hundred years ago and no railroads. Have we really lost or gained? Marvelous girl, that, sir. Masterpiece of literature when she was twenty-one, and no background but an untidy English village. You've heard of Jane Austen, I presume?"
"Can't say I have."
The slight man smiled sympathetically.
"I get a great deal of pleasure from books," he went on. "Bachelor. Marvelous solace. May know Wordsworth's famous lines, eh? 'Books we know are a substantial world,' etc. Perhaps you have read something of Thomas Love Peacock?"
"Never heard of him."
"Ah! Missed a great deal. Wonderful satirist, that. But still, I must admit that neither he nor Miss Austen are common. Now there's Mark Twain—for general reading, rain or shine, can't be beaten. American to the core, sir. Smacks of the soil. Perhaps he missed any warm love interest—but a delightful humorist, sir. You read him regularly, I presume?"
"Can't say I do."
"Of course, sir, books are not all. I agree with our old friend, Montaigne, about that. By the way, which do you prefer, Dickens or Thackeray?"
"Can't say, sir. They're strangers to me."
"Perhaps you've heard of a man named Walter Scott. As his name implies, he was born in Scotland. He wrote books, you know—novels, stories. Rather good, eh? Human interest—wholesome reading—and all that sort of thing."
"Don't recall him."
The slight man rose up in his seat. He bore down hard upon the stranger.
"Possibly," he suggested, "in the course of your deep and intimate intercourse with men and affairs, you may recall the name of an individual named Shakespeare."
"Yes, I think I remember."
"How about Macaulay, the greatest essayist in England, and Homer, the prince of ancient poets, with seven birthplaces? Then there's Emerson and Longfellow and Goethe and—"
He paused and grabbed the other man by the collar.
"My friend," he said, "you don't seem interested in the world's greatest authors. May I inquire what your occupation in life is?"
The other man nodded gravely, even austerely.
"Certainly, sir," he replied. "I'm a holiday salesman in Buncum's Department Store Book Shop."
ONE ON HIM
The code of manners enjoyed by the Germans needs scarcely any further illumination, but the following incident may serve as further light upon this threadbare subject.
A physician boarded a crowded crosstown car. A woman was standing, and a big German seated, sprawling over twice the space necessary. Indignantly the doctor said to him:
"See here! Why don't you move a little so that this tired woman may have a seat?"
For a moment the German looked dazed. Then a broad smile spread over his countenance as he answered:
"Say, dot's a joke on you, all right! Dot's my vife!"
In view of the spirit of comradeship shown between officers and men, this story is at least open to question, but it may have happened in some former war.
The lieutenant was instructing the squad in visional training.
"Tell me, Number One," he said, "how many men are there in that trench-digging party over there?"
"Thirty men and one officer," was the prompt reply.
"Quite right," observed the lieutenant, after a pause. "But how do you know one is an officer at this distance?"
"'Cos he's the only one not working, sir."
The officer of the day, during his tour of duty, paused to question a sentry who was a new recruit.
"If you should see an armed party approaching, what would you do?" asked the officer.
"Turn out the guard, sir."
"Very well. Suppose you saw a battleship coming across the parade-ground, what would you do?"
"Report to the hospital for examination, sir," was the prompt reply.
IN OUR MELTING POT
During a political campaign in New York a Tammany leader on the East Side, a self-made man and one not entirely completed yet in some respects, was addressing a mass meeting of Italian-born voters on behalf of the Democratic ticket.
"Gintlemen and fellow citizens," he began, "I deem it an honor to be permitted to address you upon the issues of the day. I have always had a deep admiration for your native land. I vinerate the mimory of that great, that noble Eyetalian who was the original and first discoverer of this here land of ours.
"Why, gintlemen, at me mother's knee I was taught to sing that inspirin' song: 'Columbus, the Jim of the Ocean'!"
Whereupon there was loud applause.
GIVE HIM TIME
Mr. Johnsing had an enthusiastic admirer in Little Eph Jones.
"Yes, suh," he concluded one of his eulogies, "Mistuh Johnsing is the biggest man what evuh was."
"Bigger than General Grant?" queried the white man to whom he was talking.
"Suttinly Mistuh Johnsing is a bigguh man than General Grant," affirmed Eph.
"Bigger than President Wilson?"
"Of co'se he's bigguh than President Wilson."
"Bigger than God?"
"Well—well—" stammered Eph. "You see, Mistuh Johnsing's young yet."
A BAY STATE SOLOMON
Unfortunately we've mislaid the judge's name, but his court room is in New Bedford, Mass. Before him appeared a defendant who, hoping for leniency, pleaded, "Judge, I'm down and out."
Whereupon said the wise judge: "You're down but you're not out. Six months."
Availing herself of her ecclesiastical privileges, the clergyman's wife asked questions which, coming from anybody else, would have been thought impertinent.
"I presume you carry a memento of some kind in that locket you wear?" she said.
"Yes, ma'am," said the parishioner. "It is a lock of my husband's hair."
"But your husband is still alive!" the lady exclaimed.
"Yes, ma'am, but his hair is gone."
The Germans will be immensely hated after this war. They will be the pariahs of the future.
Already we see signs of German hatred everywhere. At a reception the other night in a neutral city, the guest of honor said to a man who had just been presented to her:
"You are a foreigner, are you not? Where do you come from?"
"From Berlin, ma'am," he answered.
The lady stared at him through her lorgnette.
"Dear me!" she said. "Couldn't you go back and come from somewhere else?"
They were two sweet young American girls, able, beautiful, versatile, patriotic to the core, rushed to death. And one of them said breathlessly:
"What have you been doing?"
And the other one as breathlessly replied:
"Doing! My dear, I hate to tell you. I got up at six. I drove a car forty miles to camp. I knitted a sweater and a pair of socks in between. I went to a Red Cross meeting. I acted as bridesmaid. I read a book on the war. I took a last lesson in first aid. I canned eighty cans of vegetables and, oh—!"
"Do tell me!"
"Why, will you believe me, I have been so busy all day that I almost forgot to get married!"
WELCOMING THE ACTOR
A well-known society performer volunteered to entertain a roomful of patients of the Colney Hatch Lunatic Asylum, and made up a very successful little monologue show, entirely humorous. The audience in the main gave symptoms of being slightly bored, but one highly intelligent maniac saw the whole thing in the proper light, and, clapping the talented actor on the shoulder, said: "Glad you've come, old fellow. You and I will get along fine. The other dippies here are so dashed dignified. What I say is if a man is mad, he needn't put on airs about it."
COULDN'T BE BOTHERED
Mose approached the registration booth hesitatingly, and being accosted by the official in charge, assured that dignitary that he had just walked ten miles to register.
"Well, Mose, what branch of the service would you like to be placed in?" inquired the official.
"How about the cavalry?"
"What will Ah have ter do in de calvary?"
"Oh, you won't have to do anything but ride a horse all the time."
Mose scratched his woolly noggin in perplexity for a few moments, and finally said: "Nawssur, Ah don't believe Ah wants ter jine the calvary."
"What's the matter with the cavalry, Mose?"
"Well, yer see, boss, hit's jest like dis: When y'awl blow dem bugles ter retreet, Ah don't want ter be troubled wid no hoss."
Jimmie, very proud of his first job and weekly salary of $6.83, purchased a Liberty Bond on the installment plan. That evening he saw in the newspaper that John D. Rockefeller had invested in Liberty Bonds to the extent of $10,000,000.
Turning to his mother, Jimmie said proudly, "Well, ma, two of us Americans have done our duty, anyhow."
MISTAKES WILL HAPPEN
A woman doctor of Philadelphia was calling on a young sister, recently married, who was in distress. In response to the doctor's inquiry the newly-wed said:
"I cooked a meal for the first time yesterday, and I made an awful mess of it."
"Never mind, dearie," said the doctor, cheerfully; "it's nothing to worry about. I lost my first patient."
An ingenious American has invented a device to prevent such motoring accidents as arise from over-speeding. He describes his contrivance as follows:
"While the car is running fifteen miles an hour a white bulb shows on the radiator, at twenty-five miles a green bulb appears, at forty a red bulb, and, when the driver begins to bat 'em out around sixty per, a music-box under the seat begins to play 'Nearer, My God, to Thee.'"
A visiting minister, preaching in a town famous for its horse races, vigorously denounced the sport. The principal patron of the church always attended the races, and of this the clergyman was later informed.
"I am afraid I touched one of your weaknesses," said the pastor, not wishing to offend the wealthy one, "but it was quite unintentional, I assure you."
"Oh, don't mind that," said the sportsman genially. "It's a mighty poor sermon that don't hit me somewhere."
Johnson, a bachelor, had been to call on his sister, and was shown the new baby. The next day some friends asked him to describe the new arrival. The bachelor replied: "Um—very small features, clean shaven, red faced, and a very hard drinker!"
A SOFT ANSWER
The ocean liner was rolling like a chip, but as usual in such instances one passenger was aggressively, disgustingly healthy.
"Sick, eh?" he remarked to a pale-green person who was leaning on the rail.
The pale-green person regarded the healthy one with all the scorn he could muster. "Sick nothing!" he snorted weakly. "I'm just hanging over the front of the boat to see how the captain cranks it!"
A young married couple who lived near a famous golf-course were entertaining an elderly aunt from the depths of the country.
"Well, Aunt Mary, how did you spend this afternoon?" asked the hostess on the first day.
"Oh, I enjoyed myself very much," replied Auntie with a beaming smile, "I went for a walk across the fields. There seemed to be a great many people about, and some of them shouted to me in a most eccentric manner, but I just took no notice. And, by the way," she went on, "I found such a number of curious little round white things. I brought them home to ask you what they are."
A colored man entered the general store of a small Ohio town and complained to the storekeeper that a ham that he had purchased there a few days before had proved not to be good.
"The ham is all right, Joe," insisted the storekeeper.
"No, it ain't, boss," insisted the other. "Dat ham's sure bad."
"How can that be," continued the storekeeper, "when it was cured only last week?"
Joe reflected solemnly a moment, and then suggested:
"Maybe it's done had a relapse."
A celebrated author thus sketched out his daily programme to an interviewer: Rise at 11; breakfast at 12; attention to mail; a few afternoon calls; a ride in the park; dinner; the theatre, and then to bed.
"But when do you do your literary work?" he was asked.
"Why, the next day, of course," was the reply.
At a parade of a company of newly-called-up men the drill instructor's face turned scarlet with rage as he slated a new recruit for his awkwardness.
"Now, Rafferty," he roared, "you'll spoil the line with those feet. Draw them back at once, man, and get them in line."
Rafferty's dignity was hurt.
"Plaze, sargint," he said, "they're not mine; they're Micky Doolan's in the rear rank!"
The manager of a big Australian sheep-ranch engaged a discharged sailor to do farm work. He was put in charge of a large flock of sheep.
"Now, all you've got to do," explained the manager, "is to keep them on the run."
A run is a large stretch of bushland enclosed by a fence, and sheep have many ingenious methods of escaping from their own to neighboring runs and so getting mixed up with other flocks.
At the end of a couple of hours the manager rode up again—the air was thick with dust as though a thousand head of cattle had passed by.
At last he distinguished the form of his new shepherd—a collapsed heap prone upon the ground. Surrounding him were the sheep, a pitiful, huddled mass, bleating plaintively, with considerably more than a week's condition lost.
"What the dickens have you been doing to those sheep?" shrieked the almost frantic manager.
The ex-sailor managed to gasp out: "Well, sir, I've done my best. You told me to keep them on the run, and so I hunted them up and down and round—and now—I'm just dead beat myself."
TABLE OF COMPARISON
To instill into the mind of his son sound wisdom and business precepts was Cohen senior's earnest endeavor. He taught his offspring much, including the advantages of bankruptcy, failures, and fires. "Two bankruptcies equal one failure, two failures equal one fire," etc. Then Cohen junior looked up brightly.
"Fadder," he asked, "is marriage a failure?"
"Vell, my poy," was the parent's reply, "if you marry a really wealthy woman, marriage is almost as good as a failure."
KNEW HIS JOB
It was Easter eve on leap year, and the dear young thing, who had been receiving long but somewhat unsatisfactory visits from the very shy young man, decided she might take a chance. Robert had brought her a splendid Easter lily.
"I'll give you a kiss for that lily," she promised blushingly.
The exchange was duly, not to say happily, made. Robert started hurriedly toward the door.
"Why, where are you going?" asked his girl in surprise.
"To the florist's for more Easter lilies!" he replied.
"What are you studying now?" asked Mrs. Johnson.
"We have taken up the subject of molecules," answered her son.
"I hope you will be very attentive and practise constantly," said the mother. "I tried to get your father to wear one, but he could not keep it in his eye."
Senator Hoar used to tell with glee of a Southerner just home from New England who said to his friend, "You know those little white round beans?"
"Yes," replied the friend; "the kind we feed to our horses?"
"The very same. Well, do you know, sir, that in Boston the enlightened citizens take those little white round beans, boil them for three or four hours, mix them with molasses and I know not what other ingredients, bake them, and then—what do you suppose they do with the beans?"
"They eat 'em, sir," interrupted the first Southerner impressively; "bless me, sir, they eat 'em!"
At the meeting of the Afro-American Debating Club the question of capital punishment for murder occupied the attention of the orators for the evening. One speaker had a great deal to say about the sanity of persons who thus took the law into their own hands. The last speaker, however, after a stirring harangue, concluded with great feeling: "Ah disagrees wif capital punishment an' all dis heah talk 'bout sanity. Any pusson 'at c'mits murdeh ain't in a sanitary condition."
"I got son in army," said a wrinkled old chief to United States Senator Clapp during his recent visit to an Indian reservation in Minnesota.
"Fine," exclaimed the Senator. "You should be proud that he is fighting for all of us."
"Who we fight?" the redskin continued.
"Why," the Senator replied, surprised. "We are fighting the Kaiser—you know, the Germans."
"Hah," mourned the chief. "Too dam bad."
"Why bad?" protested Senator Clapp, getting primed for a lecture on Teutonic kultur and its horrors.
"Too dam bad," repeated the old Indian. "Couple come through reservation last week. I could killed um, easy as not. Too dam bad."
He wrapped his face in his blanket and refused to be comforted.
THE REAL CULPRIT
The Crown Prince had been so busy that he hadn't had time to get together with his father and have a confidential chat. But one evening when there was a lull in the 808-centimeter guns, they managed to get a few moments off. The Crown Prince turned to his father and said:
"Dad, there is something I have been wanting to ask you for a long time. Is Uncle George really responsible for this scrap?"
"No, my son."
"Well, did Cousin Nick have anything to do with it?"
"Not at all"
"Possibly you did?"
"Then would you mind telling me who it was?"
The anointed one was silent for a moment. Then he turned to his son and said:
"I'll tell you how it happened. About two or three years ago there was a wild man came over here from the United States, one of those rip-roaring rough riders that you read about in dime novels, but he certainly did have about him a plausible air. I took him out and showed him our fleet. Then I showed him the army, and after he had looked them over he said to me, 'Bill, you could lick the world,' And I was damn fool enough to believe him."