Sunday, October 14, 2007


Fantastic Fables, Ambrose Bierce, 1899 Edition.

Fantastic Fables, Ambrose Bierce, 1899 Edition.
Fantastic Fables
The Moral Principle and the Material Interest
The Crimson Candle
The Blotted Escutcheon and the Soiled Ermine
The Ingenious Patriot
Two Kings
An Officer and a Thug
The Conscientious Official
How Leisure Came
The Moral Sentiment
The Politicians
The Thoughtful Warden
The Treasury and the Arms
The Christian Serpent
The Broom of the Temple
The Critics
The Foolish Woman
Father and Son
The Discontented Malefactor
A Call to Quit
The Man and the Lightning
The Lassoed Bear
The Ineffective Rooter
A Protagonist of Silver
The Holy Deacon
A Hasty Settlement
The Wooden Guns
The Reform School Board
The Poet's Doom
The Noser and the Note
The Cat and the King
The Literary Astronomer
The Lion and the Rattlesnake
The Man with No Enemies
The Alderman and the Raccoon
The Flying-Machine
The Angel's Tear
The City of Political Distinction
The Party Over There
The Poetess of Reform
The Unchanged Diplomatist
An Invitation
The Ashes of Madame Blavatsky
The Opossum of the Future
The Life-Savers
The Australian Grasshopper
The Pavior
The Tried Assassin
The Bumbo of Jiam
The Two Poets
The Thistles upon the Grave
The Shadow of the Leader
The Sagacious Rat
The Member and the Soap
Alarm and Pride
A Causeway
Two in Trouble
The Witch's Steed
The All Dog
The Farmer's Friend
Physicians Two
The Overlooked Factor
A Racial Parallel
The Honest Cadi
The Kangaroo and the Zebra
A Matter of Method
The Man of Principle
The Returned Californian
The Compassionate Physician
Two of the Damned
The Austere Governor
Religions of Error
The Penitent Elector
The Tail of the Sphinx
A Prophet of Evil
The Crew of the Life-boat
A Treaty of Peace
The Nightside of Character
The Faithful Cashier
The Circular Clew
The Devoted Widow
The Hardy Patriots
The Humble Peasant
The Various Delegation
The No Case
A Harmless Visitor
The Judge and the Rash Act
The Prerogative of Might
An Inflated Ambition
Rejected Services
The Power of the Scalawag
At Large - One Temper
The Seeker and the Sought
His Fly-Speck Majesty
The Pugilist's Diet
The Old Man and the Pupil
The Deceased and his Heirs
The Politicians and the Plunder
The Man and the Wart
The Divided Delegation
A Forfeited Right
An Optimist
A Valuable Suggestion
Two Footpads
Equipped for Service
The Basking Cyclone
At the Pole
The Optimist and the Cynic
The Poet and the Editor
The Taken Hand
An Unspeakable Imbecile
A Needful War
The Mine Owner and the Jackass
The Dog and the Physician
The Party Manager and the Gentleman.
The Legislator and the Citizen
The Rainmaker
The Citizen and the Snakes
Fortune and the Fabulist
A Smiling Idol
Philosophers Three
The Boneless King
Uncalculating Zeal
A Transposition
The Honest Citizen
A Creaking Tail
Wasted Sweets
Six and One
The Sportsman and the Squirrel
The Fogy and the Sheik
At Heaven's Gate
The Catted Anarchist
The Honourable Member
The Expatriated Boss
An Inadequate Fee
The Judge and the Plaintiff
The Return of the Representative
A Statesman
Two Dogs
Three Recruits
The Mirror
Saint and Sinner
An Antidote
A Weary Echo
The Ingenious Blackmailer
A Talisman
The Ancient Order
A Fatal Disorder
The Massacre
A Ship and a Man
Congress and the People
The Justice and His Accuser
The Highwayman and the Traveller
The Policeman and the Citizen
The Writer and the Tramps
Two Politicians
The Fugitive Office
The Tyrant Frog
The Eligible Son-in-Law
The Statesman and the Horse
An AErophobe
The Thrift of Strength
The Good Government
The Life-Saver
The Man and the Bird
From the Minutes
Three of a Kind
The Fabulist and the Animals
A Revivalist Revived
The Debaters
Two of the Pious
The Desperate Object
The Appropriate Memorial
A Needless Labour
A Flourishing Industry
The Self-Made Monkey
The Patriot and the Banker
The Mourning Brothers
The Disinterested Arbiter
The Thief and the Honest Man
The Dutiful Son
Aesopus Emendatus
The Cat and the Youth
The Farmer and His Sons
Jupiter and the Baby Show
The Man and the Dog
The Cat and the Birds
Mercury and the Woodchopper
The Fox and the Grapes
The Penitent Thief
The Archer and the Eagle
Truth and the Traveller
The Wolf and the Lamb
The Lion and the Boar
The Grasshopper and the Ant
The Fisher and the Fished
The Farmer and the Fox
Dame Fortune and the Traveller
The Victor and the Victim
The Wolf and the Shepherds
The Goose and the Swan
The Lion, the Cock, and the Ass
The Snake and the Swallow
The Wolves and the Dogs
The Hen and the Vipers
A Seasonable Joke
The Lion and the Thorn
The Fawn and the Buck
The Kite, the Pigeons, and the Hawk
The Wolf and the Babe
The Wolf and the Ostrich
The Herdsman and the Lion
The Man and the Viper
The Man and the Eagle
The War-horse and the Miller
The Dog and the Reflection
The Man and the Fish-horn
The Hare and the Tortoise
Hercules and the Carter
The Lion and the Bull
The Man and his Goose
The Wolf and the Feeding Goat
Jupiter and the Birds
The Lion and the Mouse
The Old Man and his Sons
The Crab and his Son
The North Wind and the Sun
The Mountain and the Mouse
The Bellamy and the Members
Old Saws with New Teeth
The Wolf and the Crane
The Lion and the Mouse
The Hares and the Frogs
The Belly and the Members
The Piping Fisherman
The Ants and the Grasshopper
The Dog and His Reflection
The Lion, the Bear, and the Fox
The Ass and the Lion's Skin
The Ass and the Grasshoppers
The Wolf and the Lion
The Hare and the Tortoise
The Milkmaid and Her Bucket
King Log and King Stork
The Wolf Who Would Be a Lion
The Monkey and the Nuts
The Boys and the Frogs
The Moral Principle and the Material Interest
A MORAL Principle met a Material Interest on a bridge wide enough
for but one.
"Down, you base thing!" thundered the Moral Principle, "and let me
pass over you!"
The Material Interest merely looked in the other's eyes without
saying anything.
"Ah," said the Moral Principle, hesitatingly, "let us draw lots to
see which shall retire till the other has crossed."
The Material Interest maintained an unbroken silence and an
unwavering stare.
"In order to avoid a conflict," the Moral Principle resumed,
somewhat uneasily, "I shall myself lie down and let you walk over
Then the Material Interest found a tongue, and by a strange
coincidence it was its own tongue. "I don't think you are very
good walking," it said. "I am a little particular about what I
have underfoot. Suppose you get off into the water."
It occurred that way.
The Crimson Candle
A MAN lying at the point of death called his wife to his bedside
and said:
"I am about to leave you forever; give me, therefore, one last
proof of your affection and fidelity, for, according to our holy
religion, a married man seeking admittance at the gate of Heaven is
required to swear that he has never defiled himself with an
unworthy woman. In my desk you will find a crimson candle, which
has been blessed by the High Priest and has a peculiar mystical
significance. Swear to me that while it is in existence you will
not remarry."
The Woman swore and the Man died. At the funeral the Woman stood
at the head of the bier, holding a lighted crimson candle till it
was wasted entirely away.
The Blotted Escutcheon and the Soiled Ermine
A BLOTTED Escutcheon, rising to a question of privilege, said:
"Mr. Speaker, I wish to hurl back an allegation and explain that
the spots upon me are the natural markings of one who is a direct
descendant of the sun and a spotted fawn. They come of no accident
of character, but inhere in the divine order and constitution of
When the Blotted Escutcheon had resumed his seat a Soiled Ermine
rose and said:
"Mr. Speaker, I have heard with profound attention and entire
approval the explanation of the honourable member, and wish to
offer a few remarks on my own behalf. I, too, have been foully
calumniated by our ancient enemy, the Infamous Falsehood, and I
wish to point out that I am made of the fur of the MUSTELA
MACULATA, which is dirty from birth."
The Ingenious Patriot
HAVING obtained an audience of the King an Ingenious Patriot pulled
a paper from his pocket, saying:
"May it please your Majesty, I have here a formula for constructing
armour-plating which no gun can pierce. If these plates are
adopted in the Royal Navy our warships will be invulnerable, and
therefore invincible. Here, also, are reports of your Majesty's
Ministers, attesting the value of the invention. I will part with
my right in it for a million tumtums."
After examining the papers, the King put them away and promised him
an order on the Lord High Treasurer of the Extortion Department for
a million tumtums.
"And here," said the Ingenious Patriot, pulling another paper from
another pocket, "are the working plans of a gun that I have
invented, which will pierce that armour. Your Majesty's Royal
Brother, the Emperor of Bang, is anxious to purchase it, but
loyalty to your Majesty's throne and person constrains me to offer
it first to your Majesty. The price is one million tumtums."
Having received the promise of another check, he thrust his hand
into still another pocket, remarking:
"The price of the irresistible gun would have been much greater,
your Majesty, but for the fact that its missiles can be so
effectively averted by my peculiar method of treating the armour
plates with a new- "
The King signed to the Great Head Factotum to approach.
"Search this man," he said, "and report how many pockets he has."
"Forty-three, Sire," said the Great Head Factotum, completing the
"May it please your Majesty," cried the Ingenious Patriot, in
terror, "one of them contains tobacco."
"Hold him up by the ankles and shake him," said the King; "then
give him a check for forty-two million tumtums and put him to
death. Let a decree issue declaring ingenuity a capital offence."
Two Kings
THE King of Madagao, being engaged in a dispute with the King of
Bornegascar, wrote him as follows:
"Before proceeding further in this matter I demand the recall of
your Minister from my capital."
Greatly enraged by this impossible demand, the King of Bornegascar
"I shall not recall my Minister. Moreover, if you do not
immediately retract your demand I shall withdraw him!"
This threat so terrified the King of Madagao that in hastening to
comply he fell over his own feet, breaking the Third Commandment.
An Officer and a Thug
A CHIEF of Police who had seen an Officer beating a Thug was very
indignant, and said he must not do so any more on pain of
"Don't be too hard on me," said the Officer, smiling; "I was
beating him with a stuffed club."
"Nevertheless," persisted the Chief of Police, "it was a liberty
that must have been very disagreeable, though it may not have hurt.
Please do not repeat it."
"But," said the Officer, still smiling, "it was a stuffed Thug."
In attempting to express his gratification, the Chief of Police
thrust out his right hand with such violence that his skin was
ruptured at the arm-pit and a stream of sawdust poured from the
wound. He was a stuffed Chief of Police.
The Conscientious Official
WHILE a Division Superintendent of a railway was attending closely
to his business of placing obstructions on the track and tampering
with the switches he received word that the President of the road
was about to discharge him for incompetency.
"Good Heavens!" he cried; "there are more accidents on my division
than on all the rest of the line."
"The President is very particular," said the Man who brought him
the news; "he thinks the same loss of life might be effected with
less damage to the company's property."
"Does he expect me to shoot passengers through the car windows?"
exclaimed the indignant official, spiking a loose tie across the
rails. "Does he take me for an assassin?"
How Leisure Came
A MAN to Whom Time Was Money, and who was bolting his breakfast in
order to catch a train, had leaned his newspaper against the sugarbowl
and was reading as he ate. In his haste and abstraction he
stuck a pickle-fork into his right eye, and on removing the fork
the eye came with it. In buying spectacles the needless outlay for
the right lens soon reduced him to poverty, and the Man to Whom
Time Was Money had to sustain life by fishing from the end of a
The Moral Sentiment
A PUGILIST met the Moral Sentiment of the Community, who was
carrying a hat-box. "What have you in the hat-box, my friend?"
inquired the Pugilist.
"A new frown," was the answer. "I am bringing it from the frownery
- the one over there with the gilded steeple."
"And what are you going to do with the nice new frown?" the
Pugilist asked.
"Put down pugilism - if I have to wear it night and day," said the
Moral Sentiment of the Community, sternly.
"That's right," said the Pugilist, "that is right, my good friend;
if pugilism had been put down yesterday, I wouldn't have this kind
of Nose to-day. I had a rattling hot fight last evening with - "
"Is that so?" cried the Moral Sentiment of the Community, with
sudden animation. "Which licked? Sit down here on the hat-box and
tell me all about it!"
The Politicians
AN Old Politician and a Young Politician were travelling through a
beautiful country, by the dusty highway which leads to the City of
Prosperous Obscurity. Lured by the flowers and the shade and
charmed by the songs of birds which invited to woodland paths and
green fields, his imagination fired by glimpses of golden domes and
glittering palaces in the distance on either hand, the Young
Politician said:
"Let us, I beseech thee, turn aside from this comfortless road
leading, thou knowest whither, but not I. Let us turn our backs
upon duty and abandon ourselves to the delights and advantages
which beckon from every grove and call to us from every shining
hill. Let us, if so thou wilt, follow this beautiful path, which,
as thou seest, hath a guide-board saying, 'Turn in here all ye who
seek the Palace of Political Distinction.'"
"It is a beautiful path, my son," said the Old Politician, without
either slackening his pace or turning his head, "and it leadeth
among pleasant scenes. But the search for the Palace of Political
Distinction is beset with one mighty peril."
"What is that?" said the Young Politician.
"The peril of finding it," the Old Politician replied, pushing on.
The Thoughtful Warden
THE Warden of a Penitentiary was one day putting locks on the doors
of all the cells when a mechanic said to him:
"Those locks can all be opened from the inside - you are very
The Warden did not look up from his work, but said:
"If that is called imprudence, I wonder what would be called a
thoughtful provision against the vicissitudes of fortune."
The Treasury and the Arms
A PUBLIC Treasury, feeling Two Arms lifting out its contents,
"Mr. Shareman, I move for a division."
"You seem to know something about parliamentary forms of speech,"
said the Two Arms.
"Yes," replied the Public Treasury, "I am familiar with the hauls
of legislation."
The Christian Serpent
A RATTLESNAKE came home to his brood and said: "My children, gather
about and receive your father's last blessing, and see how a
Christian dies."
"What ails you, Father?" asked the Small Snakes.
"I have been bitten by the editor of a partisan journal," was the
reply, accompanied by the ominous death-rattle.
The Broom of the Temple
THE city of Gakwak being about to lose its character of capital of
the province of Ukwuk, the Wampog issued a proclamation convening
all the male residents in council in the Temple of Ul to devise
means of defence. The first speaker thought the best policy would
be to offer a fried jackass to the gods. The second suggested a
public procession, headed by the Wampog himself, bearing the Holy
Poker on a cushion of cloth-of-brass. Another thought that a
scarlet mole should be buried alive in the public park and a
suitable incantation chanted over the remains. The advice of the
fourth was that the columns of the capitol be rubbed with oil of
dog by a person having a moustache on the calf of his leg. When
all the others had spoken an Aged Man rose and said:
"High and mighty Wampog and fellow-citizens, I have listened
attentively to all the plans proposed. All seem wise, and I do not
suffer myself to doubt that any one of them would be efficacious.
Nevertheless, I cannot help thinking that if we would put an
improved breed of polliwogs in our drinking water, construct
shallower roadways, groom the street cows, offer the stranger
within our gates a free choice between the poniard and the potion,
and relinquish our private system of morals, the other measures of
public safety would be needless."
The Aged Man was about to speak further, but the meeting informally
adjourned in order to sweep the floor of the temple - for the men
of Gakwak are the tidiest housewives in all that province. The
last speaker was the broom.
The Critics
WHILE bathing, Antinous was seen by Minerva, who was so enamoured
of his beauty that, all armed as she happened to be, she descended
from Olympus to woo him; but, unluckily displaying her shield, with
the head of Medusa on it, she had the unhappiness to see the
beautiful mortal turn to stone from catching a glimpse of it. She
straightway ascended to ask Jove to restore him; but before this
could be done a Sculptor and a Critic passed that way and espied
"This is a very bad Apollo," said the Sculptor: "the chest is too
narrow, and one arm is at least a half-inch shorter than the other.
The attitude is unnatural, and I may say impossible. Ah! my
friend, you should see my statue of Antinous."
"In my judgment, the figure," said the Critic, "is tolerably good,
though rather Etrurian, but the expression of the face is decidedly
Tuscan, and therefore false to nature. By the way, have you read
my work on 'The Fallaciousness of the Aspectual in Art'?"
The Foolish Woman
A MARRIED Woman, whose lover was about to reform by running away,
procured a pistol and shot him dead.
"Why did you do that, Madam?" inquired a Policeman, sauntering by.
"Because," replied the Married Woman, "he was a wicked man, and had
purchased a ticket to Chicago."
"My sister," said an adjacent Man of God, solemnly, "you cannot
stop the wicked from going to Chicago by killing them."
Father and Son
"MY boy," said an aged Father to his fiery and disobedient Son, "a
hot temper is the soil of remorse. Promise me that when next you
are angry you will count one hundred before you move or speak."
No sooner had the Son promised than he received a stinging blow
from the paternal walking-stick, and by the time he had counted to
seventy-five had the unhappiness to see the old man jump into a
waiting cab and whirl away.
The Discontented Malefactor
A JUDGE having sentenced a Malefactor to the penitentiary was
proceeding to point out to him the disadvantages of crime and the
profit of reformation.
"Your Honour," said the Malefactor, interrupting, "would you be
kind enough to alter my punishment to ten years in the penitentiary
and nothing else?"
"Why," said the Judge, surprised, "I have given you only three
"Yes, I know," assented the Malefactor - "three years' imprisonment
and the preaching. If you please, I should like to commute the
A Call to Quit
SEEING that his audiences were becoming smaller every Sunday, a
Minister of the Gospel broke off in the midst of a sermon,
descended the pulpit stairs, and walked on his hands down the
central aisle of the church. He then remounted his feet, ascended
to the pulpit, and resumed his discourse, making no allusion to the
"Now," said he to himself, as he went home, "I shall have,
henceforth, a large attendance and no snoring."
But on the following Friday he was waited upon by the Pillars of
the Church, who informed him that in order to be in harmony with
the New Theology and get full advantage of modern methods of Gospel
interpretation they had deemed it advisable to make a change. They
had therefore sent a call to Brother Jowjeetum-Fallal, the World-
Renowned Hindoo Human Pin-Wheel, then holding forth in Hoopitup's
circus. They were happy to say that the reverend gentleman had
been moved by the Spirit to accept the call, and on the ensuing
Sabbath would break the bread of life for the brethren or break his
neck in the attempt.
The Man and the Lightning
A MAN Running for Office was overtaken by Lightning.
"You see," said the Lightning, as it crept past him inch by inch,
"I can travel considerably faster than you."
"Yes," the Man Running for Office replied, "but think how much
longer I keep going!"
The Lassoed Bear
A HUNTER who had lassoed a Bear was trying to disengage himself
from the rope, but the slip-knot about his wrist would not yield,
for the Bear was all the time pulling in the slack with his paws.
In the midst of his trouble the Hunter saw a Showman passing by,
and managed to attract his attention.
"What will you give me," he said, "for my Bear?"
"It will be some five or ten minutes," said the Showman, "before I
shall want a fresh Bear, and it looks to me as if prices would fall
during that time. I think I'll wait and watch the market."
"The price of this animal," the Hunter replied, "is down to bedrock;
you can have him for nothing a pound, spot cash, and I'll
throw in the next one that I lasso. But the purchaser must remove
the goods from the premises forthwith, to make room for three maneating
tigers, a cat-headed gorilla, and an armful of
But the Showman passed on, in maiden meditation, fancy free, and
being joined soon afterward by the Bear, who was absently picking
his teeth, it was inferred that they were not unacquainted.
The Ineffective Rooter
A DRUNKEN Man was lying in the road with a bleeding nose, upon
which he had fallen, when a Pig passed that way.
"You wallow fairly well," said the Pig, "but, my fine fellow, you
have much to learn about rooting."
A Protagonist of Silver
SOME Financiers who were whetting their tongues on their teeth
because the Government had "struck down" silver, and were about to
"inaugurate" a season of sweatshed, were addressed as follows by a
Member of their honourable and warlike body:
"Comrades of the thunder and companions of death, I cannot but
regard it as singularly fortunate that we who by conviction and
sympathy are designated by nature as the champions of that fairest
of her products, the white metal, should also, by a happy chance,
be engaged mostly in the business of mining it. Nothing could be
more appropriate than that those who from unselfish motives and
elevated sentiments are doing battle for the people's rights and
interests, should themselves be the chief beneficiaries of success.
Therefore, O children of the earthquake and the storm, let us stand
shoulder to shoulder, heart to heart, and pocket to pocket!"
This speech so pleased the other Members of the convention that,
actuated by a magnanimous impulse, they sprang to their feet and
left the hall. It was the first time they had ever been known to
leave anything having value.
The Holy Deacon
AN Itinerant Preacher who had wrought hard in the moral vineyard
for several hours whispered to a Holy Deacon of the local church:
"Brother, these people know you, and your active support will bear
fruit abundantly. Please pass the plate for me, and you shall have
one fourth."
The Holy Deacon did so, and putting the money into his pocket
waited till the congregation was dismissed and said goodnight.
"But the money, brother, the money that you collected!" said the
Itinerant Preacher.
"Nothing is coming to you," was the reply; "the Adversary has
hardened their hearts, and one fourth is all they gave."
A Hasty Settlement
"YOUR Honour," said an Attorney, rising, "what is the present
status of this case - as far as it has gone?"
"I have given a judgment for the residuary legatee under the will,"
said the Court, "put the costs upon the contestants, decided all
questions relating to fees and other charges; and, in short, the
estate in litigation has been settled, with all controversies,
disputes, misunderstandings, and differences of opinion thereunto
"Ah, yes, I see," said the Attorney, thoughtfully, "we are making
progress - we are getting on famously."
"Progress?" echoed the Judge - "progress? Why, sir, the matter is
"Exactly, exactly; it had to be concluded in order to give
relevancy to the motion that I am about to make. Your Honour, I
move that the judgment of the Court be set aside and the case
"Upon what ground, sir?" the Judge asked in surprise.
"Upon the ground," said the Attorney, "that after paying all fees
and expenses of litigation and all charges against the estate there
will still be something left."
"There may have been an error," said His Honour, thoughtfully -
"the Court may have underestimated the value of the estate. The
motion is taken under advisement."
The Wooden Guns
AN Artillery Regiment of a State Militia applied to the Governor
for wooden guns to practise with.
"Those," they explained, "will be cheaper than real ones."
"It shall not be said that I sacrificed efficiency to economy,"
said the Governor. "You shall have real guns."
"Thank you, thank you," cried the warriors, effusively. "We will
take good care of them, and in the event of war return them to the
The Reform School Board
THE members of the School Board in Doosnoswair being suspected of
appointing female teachers for an improper consideration, the
people elected a Board composed wholly of women. In a few years
the scandal was at an end; there were no female teachers in the
The Poet's Doom
AN Object was walking along the King's highway wrapped in
meditation and with little else on, when he suddenly found himself
at the gates of a strange city. On applying for admittance, he was
arrested as a necessitator of ordinances, and taken before the
"Who are you," said the King, "and what is your business in life?"
"Snouter the Sneak," replied the Object, with ready invention;
The King was about to command him to be released when the Prime
Minister suggested that the prisoner's fingers be examined. They
were found greatly flattened and calloused at the ends.
"Ha!" cried the King; "I told you so! - he is addicted to counting
syllables. This is a poet. Turn him over to the Lord High
Dissuader from the Head Habit."
"My liege," said the Inventor-in-Ordinary of Ingenious Penalties,
"I venture to suggest a keener affliction.
"Name it," the King said.
"Let him retain that head!"
It was so ordered.
The Noser and the Note
THE Head Rifler of an insolvent bank, learning that it was about to
be visited by the official Noser into Things, placed his own
personal note for a large amount among its resources, and, gaily
touching his guitar, awaited the inspection. When the Noser came
to the note he asked, "What's this?"
"That," said the Assistant Pocketer of Deposits, "is one of our
"A liability?" exclaimed the Noser. "Nay, nay, an asset. That is
what you mean, doubtless."
"Therein you err," the Pocketer explained; "that note was written
in the bank with our own pen, ink, and paper, and we have not paid
a stationery bill for six months."
"Ah, I see," the Noser said, thoughtfully; "it is a liability. May
I ask how you expect to meet it?"
"With fortitude, please God," answered the Assistant Pocketer, his
eyes to Heaven raising - "with fortitude and a firm reliance on the
laxity of the law."
"Enough, enough," exclaimed the faithful servant of the State,
choking with emotion; "here is a certificate of solvency."
"And here is a bottle of ink," the grateful financier said,
slipping it into the other's pocket; "it is all that we have."
The Cat and the King
A CAT was looking at a King, as permitted by the proverb.
"Well," said the monarch, observing her inspection of the royal
person, "how do you like me?"
"I can imagine a King," said the Cat, "whom I should like better."
"For example?"
"The King of the Mice."
The sovereign was so pleased with the wit of the reply that he gave
her permission to scratch his Prime Minister's eyes out.
The Literary Astronomer
THE Director of an Observatory, who, with a thirty-six-inch
refractor, had discovered the moon, hastened to an Editor, with a
four-column account of the event.
"How much?" said the Editor, sententiously, without looking up from
his essay on the circularity of the political horizon.
"One hundred and sixty dollars," replied the man who had discovered
the moon.
"Not half enough," was the Editor's comment.
"Generous man!" cried the Astronomer, glowing with warm and
elevated sentiments, "pay me, then, what you will."
"Great and good friend," said the Editor, blandly, looking up from
his work, "we are far asunder, it seems. The paying is to be done
by you."
The Director of the Observatory gathered up the manuscript and went
away, explaining that it needed correction; he had neglected to dot
an m.
The Lion and the Rattlesnake
A MAN having found a Lion in his path undertook to subdue him by
the power of the human eye; and near by was a Rattlesnake engaged
in fascinating a small bird.
"How are you getting on, brother?" the Man called out to the other
reptile, without removing his eyes from those of the Lion.
"Admirably," replied the serpent. "My success is assured; my
victim draws nearer and nearer in spite of her efforts."
"And mine," said the Man, "draws nearer and nearer in spite of
mine. Are you sure it is all right?"
"If you don't think so," the reptile replied as well as he then
could, with his mouth full of bird, "you better give it up."
A half-hour later, the Lion, thoughtfully picking his teeth with
his claws, told the Rattlesnake that he had never in all his varied
experience in being subdued, seen a subduer try so earnestly to
give it up. "But," he added, with a wide, significant smile, "I
looked him into countenance."
The Man with No Enemies
AN Inoffensive Person walking in a public place was assaulted by a
Stranger with a Club, and severely beaten.
When the Stranger with a Club was brought to trial, the complainant
said to the Judge:
"I do not know why I was assaulted; I have not an enemy in the
"That," said the defendant, "is why I struck him."
"Let the prisoner be discharged," said the Judge; "a man who has no
enemies has no friends. The courts are not for such."
The Alderman and the Raccoon
"I SEE quite a number of rings on your tail," said an Alderman to a
Raccoon that he met in a zoological garden.
"Yes," replied the Raccoon, "and I hear quite a number of tales on
your ring."
The Alderman, being of a sensitive, retiring disposition, shrank
from further comparison, and, strolling to another part of the
garden, stole the camel.
The Flying-Machine
AN Ingenious Man who had built a flying-machine invited a great
concourse of people to see it go up. At the appointed moment,
everything being ready, he boarded the car and turned on the power.
The machine immediately broke through the massive substructure upon
which it was builded, and sank out of sight into the earth, the
aeronaut springing out barely in time to save himself.
"Well," said he, "I have done enough to demonstrate the correctness
of my details. The defects," he added, with a look at the ruined
brick-work, "are merely basic and fundamental."
Upon this assurance the people came forward with subscriptions to
build a second machine.
The Angel's Tear
AN Unworthy Man who had laughed at the woes of a Woman whom he
loved, was bewailing his indiscretion in sack-cloth-of-gold and
ashes-of-roses, when the Angel of Compassion looked down upon him,
"Poor mortal! - how unblest not to know the wickedness of laughing
at another's misfortune!"
So saying, he let fall a great tear, which, encountering in its
descent a current of cold air, was congealed into a hail-stone.
This struck the Unworthy Man on the head and set him rubbing that
bruised organ vigorously with one hand while vainly attempting to
expand an umbrella with the other.
Thereat the Angel of Compassion did most shamelessly and wickedly
The City of Political Distinction
JAMRACH the Rich, being anxious to reach the City of Political
Distinction before nightfall, arrived at a fork of the road and was
undecided which branch to follow; so he consulted a Wise-Looking
Person who sat by the wayside.
"Take THAT road," said the Wise-Looking Person, pointing it out;
"it is known as the Political Highway."
"Thank you," said Jamrach, and was about to proceed.
"About how much do you thank me?" was the reply. "Do you suppose I
am here for my health?"
As Jamrach had not become rich by stupidity, he handed something to
his guide and hastened on, and soon came to a toll-gate kept by a
Benevolent Gentleman, to whom he gave something, and was suffered
to pass. A little farther along he came to a bridge across an
imaginary stream, where a Civil Engineer (who had built the bridge)
demanded something for interest on his investment, and it was
forthcoming. It was growing late when Jamrach came to the margin
of what appeared to be a lake of black ink, and there the road
terminated. Seeing a Ferryman in his boat he paid something for
his passage and was about to embark.
"No," said the Ferryman. "Put your neck in this noose, and I will
tow you over. It is the only way," he added, seeing that the
passenger was about to complain of the accommodations.
In due time he was dragged across, half strangled, and dreadfully
beslubbered by the feculent waters. "There," said the Ferryman,
hauling him ashore and disengaging him, "you are now in the City of
Political Distinction. It has fifty millions of inhabitants, and
as the colour of the Filthy Pool does not wash off, they all look
exactly alike."
"Alas!" exclaimed Jamrach, weeping and bewailing the loss of all
his possessions, paid out in tips and tolls; "I will go back with
"I don't think you will,", said the Ferryman, pushing off; "this
city is situated on the Island of the Unreturning."
The Party Over There
A MAN in a Hurry, whose watch was at his lawyer's, asked a Grave
Person the time of day.
"I heard you ask that Party Over There the same question," said the
Grave Person. "What answer did he give you?"
"He said it was about three o'clock," replied the Man in a Hurry;
"but he did not look at his watch, and as the sun is nearly down, I
think it is later."
"The fact that the sun is nearly down," the Grave Person said, "is
immaterial, but the fact that he did not consult his timepiece and
make answer after due deliberation and consideration is fatal. The
answer given," continued the Grave Person, consulting his own
timepiece, "is of no effect, invalid, and absurd."
"What, then," said the Man in a Hurry, eagerly, "is the time of
"The question is remanded to the Party Over There for a new
answer," replied the Grave Person, returning his watch to his
pocket and moving away with great dignity.
He was a Judge of an Appellate Court.
The Poetess of Reform
ONE pleasant day in the latter part of eternity, as the Shades of
all the great writers were reposing upon beds of asphodel and moly
in the Elysian fields, each happy in hearing from the lips of the
others nothing but copious quotation from his own works (for so
Jove had kindly bedeviled their ears), there came in among them
with triumphant mien a Shade whom none knew. She (for the newcomer
showed such evidences of sex as cropped hair and a manly stride)
took a seat in their midst, and smiling a superior smile explained:
"After centuries of oppression I have wrested my rights from the
grasp of the jealous gods. On earth I was the Poetess of Reform,
and sang to inattentive ears. Now for an eternity of honour and
But it was not to be so, and soon she was the unhappiest of
mortals, vainly desirous to wander again in gloom by the infernal
lakes. For Jove had not bedeviled her ears, and she heard from the
lips of each blessed Shade an incessant flow of quotation from his
own works. Moreover, she was denied the happiness of repeating her
poems. She could not recall a line of them, for Jove had decreed
that the memory of them abide in Pluto's painful domain, as a part
of the apparatus.
The Unchanged Diplomatist
THE republic of Madagonia had been long and well represented at the
court of the King of Patagascar by an officer called a Dazie, but
one day the Madagonian Parliament conferred upon him the superior
rank of Dandee. The next day after being apprised of his new
dignity he hastened to inform the King of Patagascar.
"Ah, yes, I understand," said the King; "you have been promoted and
given increased pay and allowances. There was an appropriation?"
"Yes, your Majesty."
"And you have now two heads, have you not?"
"Oh, no, your Majesty - only one, I assure you."
"Indeed? And how many legs and arms?"
"Two of each, Sire - only two of each."
"And only one body?"
"Just a single body, as you perceive."
Thoughtfully removing his crown and scratching the royal head, the
monarch was silent a moment, and then he said:
"I fancy that appropriation has been misapplied. You seem to be
about the same kind of idiot that you were before."
An Invitation
A PIOUS Person who had overcharged his paunch with dead bird by way
of attesting his gratitude for escaping the many calamities which
Heaven had sent upon others, fell asleep at table and dreamed. He
thought he lived in a country where turkeys were the ruling class,
and every year they held a feast to manifest their sense of
Heaven's goodness in sparing their lives to kill them later. One
day, about a week before one of these feasts, he met the Supreme
Gobbler, who said:
"You will please get yourself into good condition for the
Thanksgiving dinner."
"Yes, your Excellency," replied the Pious Person, delighted, "I
shall come hungry, I assure you. It is no small privilege to dine
with your Excellency."
The Supreme Gobbler eyed him for a moment in silence; then he said:
"As one of the lower domestic animals, you cannot be expected to
know much, but you might know something. Since you do not, you
will permit me to point out that being asked to dinner is one
thing; being asked to dine is another and a different thing."
With this significant remark the Supreme Gobbler left him, and
thenceforward the Pious Person dreamed of himself as white meat and
dark until rudely awakened by decapitation.
The Ashes of Madame Blavatsky
THE two brightest lights of Theosophy being in the same place at
once in company with the Ashes of Madame Blavatsky, an Inquiring
Soul thought the time propitious to learn something worth while.
So he sat at the feet of one awhile, and then he sat awhile at the
feet of the other, and at last he applied his ear to the keyhole of
the casket containing the Ashes of Madame Blavatsky. When the
Inquiring Soul had completed his course of instruction he declared
himself the Ahkoond of Swat, fell into the baleful habit of
standing on his head, and swore that the mother who bore him was a
pragmatic paralogism. Wherefore he was held in high reverence, and
when the two other gentlemen were hanged for lying the Theosophists
elected him to the leadership of their Disastral Body, and after a
quiet life and an honourable death by the kick of a jackass he was
reincarnated as a Yellow Dog. As such he ate the Ashes of Madame
Blavatsky, and Theosophy was no more.
The Opossum of the Future
ONE day an Opossum who had gone to sleep hanging from the highest
branch of a tree by the tail, awoke and saw a large Snake wound
about the limb, between him and the trunk of the tree.
"If I hold on," he said to himself, "I shall be swallowed; if I let
go I shall break my neck."
But suddenly he bethought himself to dissemble.
"My perfected friend," he said, "my parental instinct recognises in
you a noble evidence and illustration of the theory of development.
You are the Opossum of the Future, the ultimate Fittest Survivor of
our species, the ripe result of progressive prehensility - all
But the Snake, proud of his ancient eminence in Scriptural history,
was strictly orthodox, and did not accept the scientific view.
The Life-Savers
SEVENTY-FIVE Men presented themselves before the President of the
Humane Society and demanded the great gold medal for life-saving.
"Why, yes," said the President; "by diligent effort so many men
must have saved a considerable number of lives. How many did you
"Seventy-five, sir," replied their Spokesman.
"Ah, yes, that is one each - very good work - very good work,
indeed," the President said. "You shall not only have the
Society's great gold medal, but its recommendation for employment
at the various life-boat stations along the coast. But how did you
save so many lives?"
The Spokesman of the Men replied:
"We are officers of the law, and have just returned from the
pursuit of two murderous outlaws."
The Australian Grasshopper
A DISTINGUISHED Naturalist was travelling in Australia, when he saw
a Kangaroo in session and flung a stone at it. The Kangaroo
immediately adjourned, tracing against the sunset sky a parabolic
curve spanning seven provinces, and evanished below the horizon.
The Distinguished Naturalist looked interested, but said nothing
for an hour; then he said to his native Guide:
"You have pretty wide meadows here, I suppose?"
"No, not very wide," the Guide answered; "about the same as in
England and America."
After another long silence the Distinguished Naturalist said:
"The hay which we shall purchase for our horses this evening - I
shall expect to find the stalks about fifty feet long. Am I
"Why, no," said the Guide; "a foot or two is about the usual length
of our hay. What can you be thinking of?"
The Distinguished Naturalist made no immediate reply, but later, as
in the shades of night they journeyed through the desolate vastness
of the Great Lone Land, he broke the silence:
"I was thinking," he said, "of the uncommon magnitude of that
The Pavior
AN Author saw a Labourer hammering stones into the pavement of a
street, and approaching him said:
"My friend, you seem weary. Ambition is a hard taskmaster."
"I'm working for Mr. Jones, sir," the Labourer replied.
"Well, cheer up," the Author resumed; "fame comes at the most
unexpected times. To-day you are poor, obscure, and disheartened,
and to-morrow the world may be ringing with your name."
"What are you giving me?" the Labourer said. "Cannot an honest
pavior perform his work in peace, and get his money for it, and his
living by it, without others talking rot about ambition and hopes
of fame?"
"Cannot an honest writer?" said the Author.
The Tried Assassin
AN Assassin being put upon trial in a New England court, his
Counsel rose and said: "Your Honour, I move for a discharge on the
ground of 'once in jeopardy': my client has been already tried for
that murder and acquitted."
"In what court?" asked the Judge.
"In the Superior Court of San Francisco," the Counsel replied.
"Let the trial proceed - your motion is denied," said the Judge.
"An Assassin is not in jeopardy when tried in California."
The Bumbo of Jiam
THE Pahdour of Patagascar and the Gookul of Madagonia were
disputing about an island which both claimed. Finally, at the
suggestion of the International League of Cannon Founders, which
had important branches in both countries, they decided to refer
their claims to the Bumbo of Jiam, and abide by his judgment. In
settling the preliminaries of the arbitration they had, however,
the misfortune to disagree, and appealed to arms. At the end of a
long and disastrous war, when both sides were exhausted and
bankrupt, the Bumbo of Jiam intervened in the interest of peace.
"My great and good friends," he said to his brother sovereigns, "it
will be advantageous to you to learn that some questions are more
complex and perilous than others, presenting a greater number of
points upon which it is possible to differ. For four generations
your royal predecessors disputed about possession of that island,
without falling out. Beware, oh, beware the perils of
international arbitration! - against which I feel it my duty to
protect you henceforth."
So saying, he annexed both countries, and after a long, peaceful,
and happy reign was poisoned by his Prime Minister.
The Two Poets
Two Poets were quarrelling for the Apple of Discord and the Bone of
Contention, for they were very hungry.
"My sons," said Apollo, "I will part the prizes between you. You,"
he said to the First Poet, "excel in Art - take the Apple. And
you," he said to the Second Poet, "in Imagination - take the Bone."
"To Art the best prize!" said the First Poet, triumphantly, and
endeavouring to devour his award broke all his teeth. The Apple
was a work of Art.
"That shows our Master's contempt for mere Art," said the Second
Poet, grinning.
Thereupon he attempted to gnaw his Bone, but his teeth passed
through it without resistance. It was an imaginary Bone.
The Thistles upon the Grave
A MIND Reader made a wager that he would be buried alive and remain
so for six months, then be dug up alive. In order to secure the
grave against secret disturbance, it was sown with thistles. At
the end of three months, the Mind Reader lost his money. He had
come up to eat the thistles.
The Shadow of the Leader
A POLITICAL Leader was walking out one sunny day, when he observed
his Shadow leaving him and walking rapidly away.
"Come back here, you scoundrel," he cried.
"If I had been a scoundrel," answered the Shadow, increasing its
speed, "I should not have left you."
The Sagacious Rat
A RAT that was about to emerge from his hole caught a glimpse of a
Cat waiting for him, and descending to the colony at the bottom of
the hole invited a Friend to join him in a visit to a neighbouring
corn-bin. "I would have gone alone," he said, "but could not deny
myself the pleasure of such distinguished company."
"Very well," said the Friend, "I will go with you. Lead on."
"Lead?" exclaimed the other. "What! I precede so great and
illustrious a rat as you? No, indeed - after you, sir, after you."
Pleased with this great show of deference, the Friend went ahead,
and, leaving the hole first, was caught by the Cat, who immediately
trotted away with him. The other then went out unmolested.
The Member and the Soap
A MEMBER of the Kansas Legislature meeting a Cake of Soap was
passing it by without recognition, but the Cake of Soap insisted on
stopping and shaking hands. Thinking it might possibly be in the
enjoyment of the elective franchise, he gave it a cordial and
earnest grasp. On letting it go he observed that a portion of it
adhered to his fingers, and running to a brook in great alarm he
proceeded to wash it off. In doing so he necessarily got some on
the other hand, and when he had finished washing, both were so
white that he went to bed and sent for a physician.
Alarm and Pride
"GOOD-MORNING, my friend," said Alarm to Pride; "how are you this
"Very tired," replied Pride, seating himself on a stone by the
wayside and mopping his steaming brow. "The politicians are
wearing me out by pointing to their dirty records with ME, when
they could as well use a stick."
Alarm sighed sympathetically, and said:
"It is pretty much the same way here. Instead of using an operaglass
they view the acts of their opponents with ME!"
As these patient drudges were mingling their tears, they were
notified that they must go on duty again, for one of the political
parties had nominated a thief and was about to hold a gratification
A Causeway
A RICH Woman having returned from abroad disembarked at the foot of
Knee-deep Street, and was about to walk to her hotel through the
"Madam," said a Policeman, "I cannot permit you to do that; you
would soil your shoes and stockings."
"Oh, that is of no importance, really," replied the Rich Woman,
with a cheerful smile.
"But, madam, it is needless; from the wharf to the hotel, as you
observe, extends an unbroken line of prostrate newspaper men who
crave the honour of having you walk upon them."
"In that case," she said, seating herself in a doorway and
unlocking her satchel, "I shall have to put on my rubber boots."
Two in Trouble
MEETING a fat and patriotic Statesman on his way to Washington to
beseech the President for an office, an idle Tramp accosted him and
begged twenty-five cents with which to buy a suit of clothes.
"Melancholy wreck," said the Statesman, "what brought you to this
state of degradation? Liquor, I suppose."
"I am temperate to the verge of absurdity," replied the Tramp. "My
foible was patriotism; I was ruined by the baneful habit of trying
to serve my country. What ruined you?"
The Witch's Steed
A BROOMSTICK which had long served a witch as a steed complained of
the nature of its employment, which it thought degrading.
"Very well," said the Witch, "I will give you work in which you
will be associated with intellect - you will come in contact with
brains. I shall present you to a housewife."
"What!" said the Broomstick, "do you consider the hands of a
housewife intellectual?"
"I referred," said the Witch, "to the head of her good man."
The All Dog
A LION seeing a Poodle fell into laughter at the ridiculous
"Who ever saw so small a beast?" he said.
"It is very true," said the Poodle, with austere dignity, "that I
am small; but, sir, I beg to observe that I am all dog."
The Farmer's Friend
A GREAT Philanthropist who had thought of himself in connection
with the Presidency and had introduced a bill into Congress
requiring the Government to loan every voter all the money that he
needed, on his personal security, was explaining to a Sunday-school
at a railway station how much he had done for the country, when an
angel looked down from Heaven and wept.
"For example," said the Great Philanthropist, watching the
teardrops pattering in the dust, "these early rains are of
incalculable advantage to the farmer."
Physicians Two
A WICKED Old Man finding himself ill sent for a Physician, who
prescribed for him and went away. Then the Wicked Old Man sent for
another Physician, saying nothing of the first, and an entirely
different treatment was ordered. This continued for some weeks,
the physicians visiting him on alternate days and treating him for
two different disorders, with constantly enlarging doses of
medicine and more and more rigorous nursing. But one day they
accidently met at his bedside while he slept, and the truth coming
out a violent quarrel ensued.
"My good friends," said the patient, awakened by the noise of the
dispute, and apprehending the cause of it, "pray be more
reasonable. If I could for weeks endure you both, can you not for
a little while endure each other? I have been well for ten days,
but have remained in bed in the hope of gaining by repose the
strength that would justify me in taking your medicines. So far I
have touched none of it."
The Overlooked Factor
A MAN that owned a fine Dog, and by a careful selection of its mate
had bred a number of animals but a little lower than the angels,
fell in love with his washerwoman, married her, and reared a family
of dolts.
"Alas!" he exclaimed, contemplating the melancholy result, "had I
but chosen a mate for myself with half the care that I did for my
Dog I should now be a proud and happy father."
"I'm not so sure of that," said the Dog, overhearing the lament.
"There's a difference, certainly, between your whelps and mine, but
I venture to flatter myself that it is not due altogether to the
mothers. You and I are not entirely alike ourselves."
A Racial Parallel
SOME White Christians engaged in driving Chinese Heathens out of an
American town found a newspaper published in Peking in the Chinese
tongue, and compelled one of their victims to translate an
editorial. It turned out to be an appeal to the people of the
Province of Pang Ki to drive the foreign devils out of the country
and burn their dwellings and churches. At this evidence of
Mongolian barbarity the White Christians were so greatly incensed
that they carried out their original design.
The Honest Cadi
A ROBBER who had plundered a Merchant of one thousand pieces of
gold was taken before the Cadi, who asked him if he had anything to
say why he should not be decapitated.
"Your Honour," said the Robber, "I could do no otherwise than take
the money, for Allah made me that way."
"Your defence is ingenious and sound," said the Cadi, "and I must
acquit you of criminality. Unfortunately, Allah has made me so
that I must also take off your head - unless," he added,
thoughtfully, "you offer me half of the gold; for He made me weak
under temptation."
Thereupon the Robber put five hundred pieces of gold into the
Cadi's hand.
"Good," said the Cadi. "I shall now remove but one half your head.
To show my trust in your discretion I shall leave intact the half
you talk with."
The Kangaroo and the Zebra
A KANGAROO hopping awkwardly along with some bulky object concealed
in her pouch met a Zebra, and desirous of keeping his attention
upon himself, said:
"Your costume looks as if you might have come out of the
"Appearances are deceitful," replied the Zebra, smiling in the
consciousness of a more insupportable wit, "or I should have to
think that you had come out of the Legislature."
A Matter of Method
A PHILOSOPHER seeing a Fool beating his Donkey, said:
"Abstain, my son, abstain, I implore. Those who resort to violence
shall suffer from violence."
"That," said the Fool, diligently belabouring the animal, "is what
I'm trying to teach this beast - which has kicked me."
"Doubtless," said the Philosopher to himself, as he walked away,
"the wisdom of fools is no deeper nor truer than ours, but they
really do seem to have a more impressive way of imparting it."
The Man of Principle
DURING a shower of rain the Keeper of a Zoological garden observed
a Man of Principle crouching beneath the belly of the ostrich,
which had drawn itself up to its full height to sleep.
"Why, my dear sir," said the Keeper, "if you fear to get wet, you'd
better creep into the pouch of yonder female kangaroo - the
SALTARIX MACKINTOSHA - for if that ostrich wakes he will kick you
to death in a minute."
"I can't help that," the Man of Principle replied, with that lofty
scorn of practical considerations distinguishing his species. "He
may kick me to death if he wish, but until he does he shall give me
shelter from the storm. He has swallowed my umbrella."
The Returned Californian
A MAN was hanged by the neck until he was dead.
"Whence do you come?" Saint Peter asked when the Man presented
himself at the gate of Heaven.
"From California," replied the applicant.
"Enter, my son, enter; you bring joyous tidings."
When the Man had vanished inside, Saint Peter took his memorandumtablet
and made the following entry:
"February 16, 1893. California occupied by the Christians."
The Compassionate Physician
A KIND-HEARTED Physician sitting at the bedside of a patient
afflicted with an incurable and painful disease, heard a noise
behind him, and turning saw a cat laughing at the feeble efforts of
a wounded mouse to drag itself out of the room.
"You cruel beast!" cried he. "Why don't you kill it at once, like
a lady?"
Rising, he kicked the cat out of the door, and picking up the mouse
compassionately put it out of its misery by pulling off its head.
Recalled to the bedside by the moans of his patient, the Kindhearted
Physician administered a stimulant, a tonic, and a
nutrient, and went away.
Two of the Damned
TWO Blighted Beings, haggard, lachrymose, and detested, met on a
blasted heath in the light of a struggling moon.
"I wish you a merry Christmas," said the First Blighted Being, in a
voice like that of a singing tomb.
"And I you a happy New Year," responded the Second Blighted Being,
with the accent of a penitent accordeon.
They then fell upon each other's neck and wept scalding rills down
each other's spine in token of their banishment to the Realm of
Ineffable Bosh. For one of these accursed creatures was the First
of January, and the other the Twenty-fifth of December.
The Austere Governor
A GOVERNOR visiting a State prison was implored by a Convict to
pardon him.
"What are you in for?" asked the Governor.
"I held a high office," the Convict humbly replied, "and sold
subordinate appointments."
"Then I decline to interfere," said the Governor, with asperity; "a
man who abuses his office by making it serve a private end and
purvey a personal advantage is unfit to be free. By the way, Mr.
Warden," he added to that official, as the Convict slunk away, "in
appointing you to this position, I was given to understand that
your friends could make the Shikane county delegation to the next
State convention solid for - for the present Administration. Was I
rightly informed?"
"You were, sir."
"Very well, then, I will bid you good-day. Please be so good as to
appoint my nephew Night Chaplain and Reminder of Mothers and
Religions of Error
HEARING a sound of strife, a Christian in the Orient asked his
Dragoman the cause of it.
"The Buddhists are cutting Mohammedan throats," the Dragoman
replied, with oriental composure.
"I did not know," remarked the Christian, with scientific interest,
"that that would make so much noise."
"The Mohammedans are cutting Buddhist throats, too," added the
"It is astonishing," mused the Christian, "how violent and how
general are religious animosities. Everywhere in the world the
devotees of each local faith abhor the devotees of every other, and
abstain from murder only so long as they dare not commit it. And
the strangest thing about it is that all religions are erroneous
and mischievous excepting mine. Mine, thank God, is true and
So saying he visibly smugged and went off to telegraph for a
brigade of cutthroats to protect Christian interests.
The Penitent Elector
A PERSON belonging to the Society for Passing Resolutions of
Respect for the Memory of Deceased Members having died received the
customary attention.
"Good Heavens!" exclaimed a Sovereign Elector, on hearing the
resolutions read, "what a loss to the nation! And to think that I
once voted against that angel for Inspector of Gate-latches in
Public Squares!"
In remorse the Sovereign Elector deprived himself of political
influence by learning to read.
The Tail of the Sphinx
A DOG of a taciturn disposition said to his Tail:
"Whenever I am angry, you rise and bristle; when I am pleased, you
wag; when I am alarmed, you tuck yourself in out of danger. You
are too mercurial - you disclose all my emotions. My notion is
that tails are given to conceal thought. It is my dearest ambition
to be as impassive as the Sphinx."
"My friend, you must recognise the laws and limitations of your
being," replied the Tail, with flexions appropriate to the
sentiments uttered, "and try to be great some other way. The
Sphinx has one hundred and fifty qualifications for impassiveness
which you lack."
"What are they?" the Dog asked.
"One hundred and forty-nine tons of sand on her tail."
"And - ?"
"A stone tail."
A Prophet of Evil
AN Undertaker Who Was a Member of a Trust saw a Man Leaning on a
Spade, and asked him why he was not at work.
"Because," said the Man Leaning on a Spade, "I belong to the
Gravediggers' National Extortion Society, and we have decided to
limit the production of graves and get more money for the reduced
output. We have a corner in graves and propose to work it to the
best advantage."
"My friend," said the Undertaker Who Was a Member of a Trust, "this
is a most hateful and injurious scheme. If people cannot be
assured of graves, I fear they will no longer die, and the best
interests of civilisation will wither like a frosted leaf."
And blowing his eyes upon his handkerchief, he walked away
The Crew of the Life-boat
THE Gallant Crew at a life-saving station were about to launch
their life-boat for a spin along the coast when they discovered,
but a little distance away, a capsized vessel with a dozen men
clinging to her keel.
"We are fortunate," said the Gallant Crew, "to have seen that in
time. Our fate might have been the same as theirs."
So they hauled the life-boat back into its house, and were spared
to the service of their country.
A Treaty of Peace
THROUGH massacres of each other's citizens China and the United
States had been four times plunged into devastating wars, when, in
the year 1994, arose a Philosopher in Madagascar, who laid before
the Governments of the two distracted countries the following MODUS
"Massacres are to be sternly forbidden as heretofore; but any
citizen or subject of either country disobeying the injunction is
to detach the scalps of all persons massacred and deposit them with
a local officer designated to receive and preserve them and sworn
to keep and render a true account thereof. At the conclusion of
each massacre in either country, or as soon thereafter as
practicable, or at stated regular periods, as may be provided by
treaty, there shall be an exchange of scalps between the two
Governments, scalp for scalp, without regard to sex or age; the
Government having the greatest number is to be taxed on the excess
at the rate of $1000 a scalp, and the other Government credited
with the amount. Once in every decade there shall be a general
settlement, when the balance due shall be paid to the creditor
nation in Mexican dollars."
The plan was adopted, the necessary treaty made, with legislation
to carry out its provisions; the Madagascarene Philosopher took his
seat in the Temple of Immortality, and Peace spread her white wings
over the two nations, to the unspeakable defiling of her plumage.
The Nightside of Character
A GIFTED and Honourable Editor, who by practice of his profession
had acquired wealth and distinction, applied to an Old Friend for
the hand of his daughter in marriage.
"With all my heart, and God bless you!" said the Old Friend,
grasping him by both hands. "It is a greater honour than I had
dared to hope for."
"I knew what your answer would be," replied the Gifted and
Honourable Editor. "And yet," he added, with a sly smile, "I feel
that I ought to give you as much knowledge of my character as I
possess. In this scrap-book is such testimony relating to my shady
side, as I have within the past ten years been able to cut from the
columns of my competitors in the business of elevating humanity to
a higher plane of mind and morals - my 'loathsome contemporaries.'"
Laying the book on a table, he withdrew in high spirits to make
arrangements for the wedding. Three days later he received the
scrap-book from a messenger, with a note warning him never again to
darken his Old Friend's door.
"See!" the Gifted and Honourable Editor exclaimed, pointing to that
injunction - "I am a painter and grainer!"
And he was led away to the Asylum for the Indiscreet.
The Faithful Cashier
THE Cashier of a bank having defaulted was asked by the Directors
what he had done with the money taken.
"I am greatly surprised by such a question," said the Cashier; "it
sounds as if you suspected me of selfishness. Gentlemen, I applied
that money to the purpose for which I took it; I paid it as an
initiation fee and one year's dues in advance to the Treasurer of
the Cashiers' Mutual Defence Association."
"What is the object of that organisation?" the Directors inquired.
"When any one of its members is under suspicion," replied the
Cashier, "the Association undertakes to clear his character by
submitting evidence that he was never a prominent member of any
church, nor foremost in Sunday-school work."
Recognising the value to the bank of a spotless reputation for its
officers, the President drew his check for the amount of the
shortage and the Cashier was restored to favour.
The Circular Clew
A DETECTIVE searching for the murderer of a dead man was accosted
by a Clew.
"Follow me," said the Clew, "and there's no knowing what you may
So the Detective followed the Clew a whole year through a thousand
sinuosities, and at last found himself in the office of the Morgue.
"There!" said the Clew, pointing to the open register.
The Detective eagerly scanned the page, and found an official
statement that the deceased was dead. Thereupon he hastened to
Police Headquarters to report progress. The Clew, meanwhile,
sauntered among the busy haunts of men, arm in arm with an
Ingenious Theory."
The Devoted Widow
A WIDOW weeping on her husband's grave was approached by an
Engaging Gentleman who, in a respectful manner, assured her that he
had long entertained for her the most tender feelings.
"Wretch!" cried the Widow. "Leave me this instant! Is this a time
to talk to me of love?"
"I assure you, madam, that I had not intended to disclose my
affection," the Engaging Gentleman humbly explained, "but the power
of your beauty has overcome my discretion."
"You should see me when I have not been crying," said the Widow.
The Hardy Patriots
A DISPENSER-ELECT of Patronage gave notice through the newspapers
that applicants for places would be given none until he should
assume the duties of his office.
"You are exposing yourself to a grave danger," said a Lawyer.
"How so?" the Dispenser-Elect inquired.
"It will be nearly two months," the Lawyer answered, "before the
day that you mention. Few patriots can live so long without
eating, and some of the applicants will be compelled to go to work
in the meantime. If that kills them, you will be liable to
prosecution for murder."
"You underrate their powers of endurance," the official replied.
"What!" said the Lawyer, "you think they can stand work?"
"No," said the other - "hunger."
The Humble Peasant
AN Office Seeker whom the President had ordered out of Washington
was watering the homeward highway with his tears.
"Ah," he said, "how disastrous is ambition! how unsatisfying its
rewards! how terrible its disappointments! Behold yonder peasant
tilling his field in peace and contentment! He rises with the
lark, passes the day in wholesome toil, and lies down at night to
pleasant dreams. In the mad struggle for place and power he has no
part; the roar of the strife reaches his ear like the distant
murmur of the ocean. Happy, thrice happy man! I will approach him
and bask in the sunshine of his humble felicity. Peasant, all
Leaning upon his rake, the Peasant returned the salutation with a
nod, but said nothing.
"My friend," said the Office Seeker, "you see before you the wreck
of an ambitious man - ruined by the pursuit of place and power.
This morning when I set out from the national capital - "
"Stranger," the Peasant interrupted, "if you're going back there
soon maybe you wouldn't mind using your influence to make me
Postmaster at Smith's Corners."
The traveller passed on.
The Various Delegation
THE King of Wideout having been offered the sovereignty of Wayoff,
sent for the Three Persons who had made the offer, and said to
"I am extremely obliged to you, but before accepting so great a
responsibility I must ascertain the sentiments of the people of
"Sire," said the Spokesman of the Three Persons, "they stand before
"Indeed!" said the King; "are you, then, the people of Wayoff?"
"Yes, your Majesty."
"There are not many of you," the King said, attentively regarding
them with the royal eye, "and you are not so very large; I hardly
think you are a quorum. Moreover, I never heard of you until you
came here; whereas Wayoff is noted for the quality of its pork and
contains hogs of distinction. I shall send a Commissioner to
ascertain the sentiments of the hogs."
The Three Persons, bowing profoundly, backed out of the presence;
but soon afterward they desired another audience, and, on being
readmitted, said, through their Spokesman:
"May it please your Majesty, we are the hogs."
The No Case
A STATESMAN who had been indicted by an unfeeling Grand Jury was
arrested by a Sheriff and thrown into jail. As this was abhorrent
to his fine spiritual nature, he sent for the District Attorney and
asked that the case against him be dismissed.
"Upon what grounds?" asked the District Attorney.
"Lack of evidence to convict," replied the accused.
"Do you happen to have the lack with you?" the official asked. "I
should like to see it."
"With pleasure," said the other; "here it is."
So saying he handed the other a check, which the District Attorney
carefully examined, and then pronounced it the most complete
absence of both proof and presumption that he had ever seen. He
said it would acquit the oldest man in the world.
A Harmless Visitor
AT a meeting of the Golden League of Mystery a Woman was
discovered, writing in a note-book. A member directed the
attention of the Superb High Chairman to her, and she was asked to
explain her presence there, and what she was doing.
"I came in for my own pleasure and instruction," she said, "and was
so struck by the wisdom of the speakers that I could not help
making a few notes."
"Madam," said the Superb High Chairman, "we have no objection to
visitors if they will pledge themselves not to publish anything
they hear. Are you - on your honour as a lady, now, madam - are
you not connected with some newspaper?"
"Good gracious, no!" cried the Woman, earnestly. "Why, sir, I am
an officer of the Women's Press Association!"
She was permitted to remain, and presented with resolutions of
The Judge and the Rash Act
A JUDGE who had for years looked in vain for an opportunity for
infamous distinction, but whom no litigant thought worth bribing,
sat one day upon the Bench, lamenting his hard lot, and threatening
to put an end to his life if business did not improve. Suddenly he
found himself confronted by a dreadful figure clad in a shroud,
whose pallor and stony eyes smote him with a horrible apprehension.
"Who are you," he faltered, "and why do you come here?"
"I am the Rash Act," was the sepulchral reply; "you may commit me."
"No," the judge said, thoughtfully, "no, that would be quite
irregular. I do not sit to-day as a committing magistrate."
The Prerogative of Might
A SLANDER travelling rapidly through the land upon its joyous
mission was accosted by a Retraction and commanded to halt and be
"Your career of mischief is at an end," said the Retraction,
drawing his club, rolling up his sleeves, and spitting on his
"Why should you slay me?" protested the Slander. "Whatever my
intentions were, I have been innocuous, for you have dogged my
strides and counteracted my influence."
"Dogged your grandmother!" said the Retraction, with contemptuous
vulgarity of speech. "In the order of nature it is appointed that
we two shall never travel the same road."
"How then," the Slander asked, triumphantly, "have you overtaken
"I have not," replied the Retraction; "we have accidentally met. I
came round the world the other way."
But when he tried to execute his fell purpose he found that in the
order of nature it was appointed that he himself perish miserably
in the encounter.
An Inflated Ambition
THE President of a great Corporation went into a dry-goods shop and
saw a placard which read:
"If You Don't See What You Want, Ask For It."
Approaching the shopkeeper, who had been narrowly observing him as
he read the placard, he was about to speak, when the shopkeeper
called to a salesman:
"John, show this gentleman the world."
Rejected Services
A HEAVY Operator overtaken by a Reverse of Fortune was bewailing
his sudden fall from affluence to indigence.
"Do not weep," said the Reverse of Fortune. "You need not suffer
alone. Name any one of the men who have opposed your schemes, and
I will overtake HIM."
"It is hardly worth while," said the victim, earnestly. "Not a
soul of them has a cent!"
The Power of the Scalawag
A FORESTRY Commissioner had just felled a giant tree when, seeing
an honest man approaching, he dropped his axe and fled. The next
day when he cautiously returned to get his axe, he found the
following lines pencilled on the stump:
"What nature reared by centuries of toil,
A scalawag in half a day can spoil;
An equal fate for him may Heaven provide -
Damned in the moment of his tallest pride."
At Large - One Temper
A TURBULENT Person was brought before a Judge to be tried for an
assault with intent to commit murder, and it was proved that he had
been variously obstreperous without apparent provocation, had
affected the peripheries of several luckless fellow-citizens with
the trunk of a small tree, and subsequently cleaned out the town.
While trying to palliate these misdeeds, the defendant's Attorney
turned suddenly to the Judge, saying:
"Did your Honour ever lose your temper?"
"I fine you twenty-five dollars for contempt of court!" roared the
Judge, in wrath. "How dare you mention the loss of my temper in
connection with this case?"
After a moment's silence the Attorney said, meekly:
"I thought my client might perhaps have found it."
The Seeker and the Sought
A POLITICIAN seeing a fat Turkey which he wanted for dinner, baited
a hook with a grain of corn and dragged it before the fowl at the
end of a long and almost invisible line. When the Turkey had
swallowed the hook, the Politician ran, drawing the creature after
"Fellow-citizens," he cried, addressing some turkey-breeders whom
he met, "you observe that the man does not seek the bird, but the
bird seeks the man. For this unsolicited and unexpected dinner I
thank you with all my heart."
His Fly-Speck Majesty
A DISTINGUISHED Advocate of Republican Institutions was seen
pickling his shins in the ocean.
"Why don't you come out on dry land?" said the Spectator. "What
are you in there for?"
"Sir," replied the Distinguished Advocate of Republican
Institutions, "a ship is expected, bearing His Majesty the King of
the Fly-Speck Islands, and I wish to be the first to grasp the
crowned hand."
"But," said the Spectator, "you said in your famous speech before
the Society for the Prevention of the Protrusion of Nail Heads from
Plank Sidewalks that Kings were blood-smeared oppressors and hellbound
"My dear sir," said the Distinguished Advocate of Republican
Institutions, without removing his eyes from the horizon, "you
wander away into the strangest irrelevancies! I spoke of Kings in
the abstract."
The Pugilist's Diet
THE Trainer of a Pugilist consulted a Physician regarding the
champion's diet.
"Beef-steaks are too tender," said the Physician; "have his meat
cut from the neck of a bull."
"I thought the steaks more digestible," the Trainer explained.
"That is very true," said the Physician; "but they do not
sufficiently exercise the chin."
The Old Man and the Pupil
A BEAUTIFUL Old Man, meeting a Sunday-school Pupil, laid his hand
tenderly upon the lad's head, saying: "Listen, my son, to the words
of the wise and heed the advice of the righteous."
"All right," said the Sunday-school Pupil; "go ahead."
"Oh, I haven't anything to do with it myself," said the Beautiful
Old Man. "I am only observing one of the customs of the age. I am
a pirate."
And when he had taken his hand from the lad's head, the latter
observed that his hair was full of clotted blood. Then the
Beautiful Old Man went his way, instructing other youth.
The Deceased and his Heirs
A MAN died leaving a large estate and many sorrowful relations who
claimed it. After some years, when all but one had had judgment
given against them, that one was awarded the estate, which he asked
his Attorney to have appraised.
"There is nothing to appraise," said the Attorney, pocketing his
last fee.
"Then," said the Successful Claimant, "what good has all this
litigation done me?"
"You have been a good client to me," the Attorney replied,
gathering up his books and papers, "but I must say you betray a
surprising ignorance of the purpose of litigation."
The Politicians and the Plunder
SEVERAL Political Entities were dividing the spoils.
"I will take the management of the prisons," said a Decent Respect
for Public Opinion, "and make a radical change."
"And I," said the Blotted Escutcheon, "will retain my present
general connection with affairs, while my friend here, the Soiled
Ermine, will remain in the Judiciary."
The Political Pot said it would not boil any more unless
replenished from the Filthy Pool.
The Cohesive Power of Public Plunder quietly remarked that the two
bosses would, he supposed, naturally be his share.
"No," said the Depth of Degradation, "they have already fallen to
The Man and the Wart
A PERSON with a Wart on His Nose met a Person Similarly Afflicted,
and said:
"Let me propose your name for membership in the Imperial Order of
Abnormal Proboscidians, of which I am the High Noble Toby and
Surreptitious Treasurer. Two months ago I was the only member.
One month ago there were two. To-day we number four Emperors of
the Abnormal Proboscis in good standing - doubles every four weeks,
see? That's geometrical progression - you know how that piles up.
In a year and a half every man in California will have a wart on
his Nose. Powerful Order! Initiation, five dollars."
"My friend," said the Person Similarly Afflicted, "here are five
dollars. Keep my name off your books."
"Thank you kindly," the Man with a Wart on His Nose replied,
pocketing the money; "it is just the same to us as if you joined.
He went away, but in a little while he was back.
"I quite forgot to mention the monthly dues," he said.
The Divided Delegation
A DELEGATION at Washington went to a New President, and said:
"Your Excellency, we are unable to agree upon a Favourite Son to
represent us in your Cabinet."
"Then," said the New President, "I shall have to lock you up until
you do agree."
So the Delegation was cast into the deepest dungeon beneath the
moat, where it maintained a divided mind for many weeks, but
finally reconciled its differences and asked to be taken before the
New President.
"My child," said he, "nothing is so beautiful as harmony. My
Cabinet Selections were all made before our former interview, but
you have supplied a noble instance of patriotism in subordinating
your personal preferences to the general good. Go now to your
beautiful homes and be happy."
It is not recorded that the Delegation was happy.
A Forfeited Right
THE Chief of the Weather Bureau having predicted a fine day, a
Thrifty Person hastened to lay in a large stock of umbrellas, which
he exposed for sale on the sidewalk; but the weather remained
clear, and nobody would buy. Thereupon the Thrifty Person brought
an action against the Chief of the Weather Bureau for the cost of
the umbrellas.
"Your Honour," said the defendant's attorney, when the case was
called, "I move that this astonishing action be dismissed. Not
only is my client in no way responsible for the loss, but he
distinctly foreshadowed the very thing that caused it."
"That is just it, your Honour," replied the counsel for the
plaintiff; "the defendant by making a correct forecast fooled my
client in the only way that he could do so. He has lied so much
and so notoriously that he has neither the legal nor moral right to
tell the truth."
Judgment for the plaintiff.
AN Insurance Agent was trying to induce a Hard Man to Deal With to
take out a policy on his house. After listening to him for an
hour, while he painted in vivid colours the extreme danger of fire
consuming the house, the Hard Man to Deal With said:
"Do you really think it likely that my house will burn down inside
the time that policy will run?"
"Certainly," replied the Insurance Agent; "have I not been trying
all this time to convince you that I do?"
"Then," said the Hard Man to Deal With, "why are you so anxious to
have your Company bet me money that it will not?"
The Agent was silent and thoughtful for a moment; then he drew the
other apart into an unfrequented place and whispered in his ear:
"My friend, I will impart to you a dark secret. Years ago the
Company betrayed my sweetheart by promise of marriage. Under an
assumed name I have wormed myself into its service for revenge; and
as there is a heaven above us, I will have its heart's blood!"
An Optimist
Two Frogs in the belly of a snake were considering their altered
"This is pretty hard luck," said one.
"Don't jump to conclusions," the other said; "we are out of the wet
and provided with board and lodging."
"With lodging, certainly," said the First Frog; "but I don't see
the board."
"You are a croaker," the other explained. "We are ourselves the
A Valuable Suggestion
A BIG Nation having a quarrel with a Little Nation, resolved to
terrify its antagonist by a grand naval demonstration in the
latter's principal port. So the Big Nation assembled all its ships
of war from all over the world, and was about to send them three
hundred and fifty thousand miles to the place of rendezvous, when
the President of the Big Nation received the following note from
the President of the Little Nation:
"My great and good friend, I hear that you are going to show us
your navy, in order to impress us with a sense of your power. How
needless the expense! To prove to you that we already know all
about it, I inclose herewith a list and description of all the
ships you have."
The great and good friend was so struck by the hard sense of the
letter that he kept his navy at home, and saved one thousand
million dollars. This economy enabled him to buy a satisfactory
decision when the cause of the quarrel was submitted to
Two Footpads
Two Footpads sat at their grog in a roadside resort, comparing the
evening's adventures.
"I stood up the Chief of Police," said the First Footpad, "and I
got away with what he had."
"And I," said the Second Footpad, "stood up the United States
District Attorney, and got away with - "
"Good Lord!" interrupted the other in astonishment and admiration -
"you got away with what that fellow had?"
"No," the unfortunate narrator explained - "with a small part of
what I had."
Equipped for Service
DURING the Civil War a Patriot was passing through the State of
Maryland with a pass from the President to join Grant's army and
see the fighting. Stopping a day at Annapolis, he visited the shop
of a well-known optician and ordered seven powerful telescopes, one
for every day in the week. In recognition of this munificent
patronage of the State's languishing industries, the Governor
commissioned him a colonel.
The Basking Cyclone
A NEGRO in a boat, gathering driftwood, saw a sleeping Alligator,
and, thinking it was a log, fell to estimating the number of
shingles it would make for his new cabin. Having satisfied his
mind on that point, he stuck his boat-hook into the beast's back to
harvest his good fortune. Thereupon the saurian emerged from his
dream and took to the water, greatly to the surprise of the manand-
"I never befo' seen such a cyclone as dat," he exclaimed as soon as
he had recovered his breath. "It done carry away de ruf of my
At the Pole
AFTER a great expenditure of life and treasure a Daring Explorer
had succeeded in reaching the North Pole, when he was approached by
a Native Galeut who lived there.
"Good morning," said the Native Galeut. "I'm very glad to see you,
but why did you come here?"
"Glory," said the Daring Explorer, curtly.
"Yes, yes, I know," the other persisted; "but of what benefit to
man is your discovery? To what truths does it give access which
were inaccessible before? - facts, I mean, having a scientific
"I'll be Tom scatted if I know," the great man replied, frankly;
"you will have to ask the Scientist of the Expedition."
But the Scientist of the Expedition explained that he had been so
engrossed with the care of his instruments and the study of his
tables that he had found no time to think of it.
The Optimist and the Cynic
A MAN who had experienced the favours of fortune and was an
Optimist, met a man who had experienced an optimist and was a
Cynic. So the Cynic turned out of the road to let the Optimist
roll by in his gold carriage.
"My son," said the Optimist, stopping the gold carriage, "you look
as if you had not a friend in the world."
"I don't know if I have or not," replied the Cynic, "for you have
the world."
The Poet and the Editor
"MY dear sir," said the editor to the man, who had called to see
about his poem, "I regret to say that owing to an unfortunate
altercation in this office the greater part of your manuscript is
illegible; a bottle of ink was upset upon it, blotting out all but
the first line - that is to say - "
"'The autumn leaves were falling, falling.'
"Unluckily, not having read the poem, I was unable to supply the
incidents that followed; otherwise we could have given them in our
own words. If the news is not stale, and has not already appeared
in the other papers, perhaps you will kindly relate what occurred,
while I make notes of it.
"'The autumn leaves were falling, falling,'
"Go on."
"What!" said the poet, "do you expect me to reproduce the entire
poem from memory?"
"Only the substance of it - just the leading facts. We will add
whatever is necessary in the way of amplification and
embellishment. It will detain you but a moment.
"'The autumn leaves were falling, falling - '
"Now, then."
There was a sound of a slow getting up and going away. The
chronicler of passing events sat through it, motionless, with
suspended pen; and when the movement was complete Poesy was
represented in that place by nothing but a warm spot on the wooden
The Taken Hand
A SUCCESSFUL Man of Business, having occasion to write to a Thief,
expressed a wish to see him and shake hands.
"No," replied the Thief, "there are some things which I will not
take - among them your hand."
"You must use a little strategy," said a Philosopher to whom the
Successful Man of Business had reported the Thief's haughty reply.
"Leave your hand out some night, and he will take it."
So one night the Successful Man of Business left his hand out of
his neighbour's pocket, and the Thief took it with avidity.
An Unspeakable Imbecile
A JUDGE said to a Convicted Assassin:
"Prisoner at the bar, have you anything to say why the deathsentence
should not be passed upon you?"
"Will what I say make any difference?" asked the Convicted
"I do not see how it can," the Judge answered, reflectively. "No,
it will not."
"Then," said the doomed one, "I should just like to remark that you
are the most unspeakable old imbecile in seven States and the
District of Columbia."
A Needful War
THE people of Madagonia had an antipathy to the people of Novakatka
and set upon some sailors of a Novakatkan vessel, killing two and
wounding twelve. The King of Madagonia having refused either to
apologise or pay, the King of Novakatka made war upon him, saying
that it was necessary to show that Novakatkans must not be
slaughtered. In the battles which ensued the people of Madagonia
slaughtered two thousand Novakatkans and wounded twelve thousand.
But the Madagonians were unsuccessful, which so chagrined them that
never thereafter in all their land was a Novakatkan secure in
property or life.
The Mine Owner and the Jackass
WHILE the Owner of a Silver Mine was on his way to attend a
convention of his species he was accosted by a Jackass, who said:
"By an unjust discrimination against quadrupeds I am made
ineligible to a seat in your convention; so I am compelled to seek
representation through you."
"It will give me great pleasure, sir," said the Owner of a Silver
Mine, "to serve one so closely allied to me in - in - well, you
know," he added, with a significant gesture of his two hands upward
from the sides of his head. "What do you want?"
"Oh, nothing - nothing at all for myself individually," replied the
Donkey; "but his country's welfare should be a patriot's supreme
care. If Americans are to retain the sacred liberties for which
their fathers strove, Congress must declare our independence of
European dictation by maintaining the price of mules."
The Dog and the Physician
A DOG that had seen a Physician attending the burial of a wealthy
patient, said: "When do you expect to dig it up?"
"Why should I dig it up?" the Physician asked.
"When I bury a bone," said the Dog, "it is with an intention to
uncover it later and pick it."
"The bones that I bury," said the Physician, "are those that I can
no longer pick."
The Party Manager and the Gentleman
A PARTY Manager said to a Gentleman whom he saw minding his own
"How much will you pay for a nomination to office?"
"Nothing," the Gentleman replied.
"But you will contribute something to the campaign fund to assist
in your election, will you not?" asked the Party Manager, winking.
"Oh, no," said the Gentleman, gravely. "If the people wish me to
work for them, they must hire me without solicitation. I am very
comfortable without office."
"But," urged the Party Manager, "an election is a thing to be
desired. It is a high honour to be a servant of the people."
"If servitude is a high honour," the Gentleman said, "it would be
indecent for me to seek it; and if obtained by my own exertion it
would be no honour."
"Well," persisted the Party Manager, "you will at least, I hope,
indorse the party platform."
The Gentleman replied: "It is improbable that its authors have
accurately expressed my views without consulting me; and if I
indorsed their work without approving it I should be a liar."
"You are a detestable hypocrite and an idiot!" shouted the Party
"Even your good opinion of my fitness," replied the Gentleman,
"shall not persuade me."
The Legislator and the Citizen
AN ex-Legislator asked a Most Respectable Citizen for a letter to
the Governor recommending him for appointment as Commissioner of
Shrimps and Crabs.
"Sir," said the Most Respectable Citizen, austerely, "were you not
once in the State Senate?"
"Not so bad as that, sir, I assure you," was the reply. "I was a
member of the Slower House. I was expelled for selling my
influence for money."
"And you dare to ask for mine!" shouted the Most Respectable
Citizen. "You have the impudence? A man who will accept bribes
will probably offer them. Do you mean to - "
"I should not think of making a corrupt proposal to you, sir; but
if I were Commissioner of Shrimps and Crabs, I might have some
influence with the water-front population, and be able to help you
make your fight for Coroner."
"In that case I do not feel justified in denying you the letter."
So he took his pen, and, some demon guiding his hand, he wrote,
greatly to his astonishment:
"Who sells his influence should stop it,
An honest man will only swap it."
The Rainmaker
AN Officer of the Government, with a great outfit of mule-waggons
loaded with balloons, kites, dynamite bombs, and electrical
apparatus, halted in the midst of a desert, where there had been no
rain for ten years, and set up a camp. After several months of
preparation and an expenditure of a million dollars all was in
readiness, and a series of tremendous explosions occurred on the
earth and in the sky. This was followed by a great down-pour of
rain, which washed the unfortunate Officer of the Government and
the outfit off the face of creation and affected the agricultural
heart with joy too deep for utterance. A Newspaper Reporter who
had just arrived escaped by climbing a hill near by, and there he
found the Sole Survivor of the expedition - a mule-driver - down on
his knees behind a mesquite bush, praying with extreme fervour.
"Oh, you can't stop it that way," said the Reporter.
"My fellow-traveller to the bar of God," replied the Sole Survivor,
looking up over his shoulder, "your understanding is in darkness.
I am not stopping this great blessing; under Providence, I am
bringing it."
"That is a pretty good joke," said the Reporter, laughing as well
as he could in the strangling rain - "a mule driver's prayer
"Child of levity and scoffing," replied the other; "you err again,
misled by these humble habiliments. I am the Rev. Ezekiel Thrifft,
a minister of the gospel, now in the service of the great
manufacturing firm of Skinn & Sheer. They make balloons, kites,
dynamite bombs, and electrical apparatus."
The Citizen and the Snakes
A PUBLIC-SPIRITED Citizen who had failed miserably in trying to
secure a National political convention for his city suffered
acutely from dejection. While in that frame of mind he leaned
thoughtlessly against a druggist's show-window, wherein were one
hundred and fifty kinds of assorted snakes. The glass breaking,
the reptiles all escaped into the street.
"When you can't do what you wish," said the Public-spirited
Citizen, "it is worth while to do what you can."
Fortune and the Fabulist
A WRITER of Fables was passing through a lonely forest when he met
a Fortune. Greatly alarmed, he tried to climb a tree, but the
Fortune pulled him down and bestowed itself upon him with cruel
"Why did you try to run away?" said the Fortune, when his struggles
had ceased and his screams were stilled. "Why do you glare at me
so inhospitably?"
"I don't know what you are," replied the Writer of Fables, deeply
"I am wealth; I am respectability," the Fortune explained; "I am
elegant houses, a yacht, and a clean shirt every day. I am
leisure, I am travel, wine, a shiny hat, and an unshiny coat. I am
enough to eat."
"All right," said the Writer of Fables, in a whisper; "but for
goodness' sake speak lower."
"Why so?" the Fortune asked, in surprise.
"So as not to wake me," replied the Writer of Fables, a holy calm
brooding upon his beautiful face.
A Smiling Idol
AN Idol said to a Missionary, "My friend, why do you seek to bring
me into contempt? If it had not been for me, what would you have
been? Remember thy creator that thy days be long in the land."
"I confess," replied the Missionary, fingering a number of ten-cent
pieces which a Sunday-school in his own country had forwarded to
him, "that I am a product of you, but I protest that you cannot
quote Scripture with accuracy and point. Therefore will I continue
to go up against you with the Sword of the Spirit."
Shortly afterwards the Idol's worshippers held a great religious
ceremony at the base of his pedestal, and as a part of the rites
the Missionary was roasted whole. As the tongue was removed for
the high priest's table, "Ah," said the Idol to himself, "that is
the Sword of the Spirit - the only Sword that is less dangerous
when unsheathed."
And he smiled so pleasantly at his own wit that the provinces of
Ghargaroo, M'gwana, and Scowow were affected with a blight.
Philosophers Three
A BEAR, a Fox, and an Opossum were attacked by an inundation.
"Death loves a coward," said the Bear, and went forward to fight
the flood.
"What a fool!" said the Fox. "I know a trick worth two of that."
And he slipped into a hollow stump.
"There are malevolent forces," said the Opossum, "which the wise
will neither confront nor avoid. The thing is to know the nature
of your antagonist."
So saying the Opossum lay down and pretended to be dead.
The Boneless King
SOME Apes who had deposed their king fell at once into dissension
and anarchy. In this strait they sent a Deputation to a
neighbouring tribe to consult the Oldest and Wisest Ape in All the
"My children," said the Oldest and Wisest Ape in All the World,
when he had heard the Deputation, "you did right in ridding
yourselves of tyranny, but your tribe is not sufficiently advanced
to dispense with the forms of monarchy. Entice the tyrant back
with fair promises, kill him and enthrone. The skeleton of even
the most lawless despot makes a good constitutional sovereign."
At this the Deputation was greatly abashed. "It is impossible,"
they said, moving away; "our king has no skeleton; he was stuffed."
Uncalculating Zeal
A MAN-EATING tiger was ravaging the Kingdom of Damnasia, and the
King, greatly concerned for the lives and limbs of his Royal
subjects, promised his daughter Zodroulra to any man who would kill
the animal. After some days Camaraladdin appeared before the King
and claimed the reward.
"But where is the tiger?" the King asked.
"May jackasses sing above my uncle's grave," replied Camaraladdin,
"if I dared go within a league of him!"
"Wretch!" cried the King, unsheathing his consoler-underdisappointment;
"how dare you claim my daughter when you have done
nothing to earn her?"
"Thou art wiser, O King, than Solyman the Great, and thy servant is
as dust in the tomb of thy dog, yet thou errest. I did not, it is
true, kill the tiger, but behold! I have brought thee the scalp of
the man who had accumulated five million pieces of gold and was
after more."
The King drew his consoler-under-disappointment, and, flicking off
Camaraladdin's head, said:
"Learn, caitiff, the expediency of uncalculating zeal. If the
millionaire had been let alone he would have devoured the tiger."
A Transposition
TRAVELLING through the sage-brush country a Jackass met a rabbit,
who exclaimed in great astonishment:
"Good heavens! how did you grow so big? You are doubtless the
largest rabbit living."
"No," said the Jackass, "you are the smallest donkey."
After a good deal of fruitless argument the question was referred
for decision to a passing Coyote, who was a bit of a demagogue and
desirous to stand well with both.
"Gentlemen," said he, "you are both right, as was to have been
expected by persons so gifted with appliances for receiving
instruction from the wise. You, sir," - turning to the superior
animal - "are, as he has accurately observed, a rabbit. And you" -
to the other - "are correctly described as a jackass. In
transposing your names man has acted with incredible folly."
They were so pleased with the decision that they declared the
Coyote their candidate for the Grizzly Bearship; but whether he
ever obtained the office history does not relate.
The Honest Citizen
A POLITICAL Preferment, labelled with its price, was canvassing the
State to find a purchaser. One day it offered itself to a Truly
Good Man, who, after examining the label and finding the price was
exactly twice as great as he was willing to pay, spurned the
Political Preferment from his door. Then the People said: "Behold,
this is an honest citizen!" And the Truly Good Man humbly
confessed that it was so.
A Creaking Tail
AN American Statesman who had twisted the tail of the British Lion
until his arms ached was at last rewarded by a sharp, rasping
"I knew your fortitude would give out after a while," said the
American Statesman, delighted; "your agony attests my political
"Agony I know not!" said the British Lion, yawning; "the swivel in
my tail needs a few drops of oil, that is all."
Wasted Sweets
A CANDIDATE canvassing his district met a Nurse wheeling a Baby in
a carriage, and, stooping, imprinted a kiss upon the Baby's clammy
muzzle. Rising, he saw a Man, who laughed.
"Why do you laugh?" asked the Candidate.
"Because," replied the Man, "the Baby belongs to the Orphan
"But the Nurse," said the Candidate - "the Nurse will surely relate
the touching incident wherever she goes, and perhaps write to her
former master."
"The Nurse," said the Man who had laughed, "is an inmate of the
Institution for the Illiterate-Deaf-and-Dumb."
Six and One
THE Committee on Gerrymander worked late, drawing intricate lines
on a map of the State, and being weary sought repose in a game of
poker. At the close of the game the six Republican members were
bankrupt and the single Democrat had all the money. On the next
day, when the Committee was called to order for business, one of
the luckless six mounted his legs, and said:
"Mr. Chairman, before we bend to our noble task of purifying
politics, in the interest of good government I wish to say a word
of the untoward events of last evening. If my memory serves me the
disasters which overtook the Majority of this honourable body
always befell when it was the Minority's deal. It is my solemn
conviction, Mr. Chairman, and to its affirmation I pledge my life,
my fortune, and my sacred honour, that that wicked and unscrupulous
Minority redistricted the cards!"
The Sportsman and the Squirrel
A SPORTSMAN who had wounded a Squirrel, which was making desperate
efforts to drag itself away, ran after it with a stick, exclaiming:
"Poor thing! I will put it out of its misery."
At that moment the Squirrels stopped from exhaustion, and looking
up at its enemy, said:
"I don't venture to doubt the sincerity of your compassion, though
it comes rather late, but you seem to lack the faculty of
observation. Do you not perceive by my actions that the dearest
wish of my heart is to continue in my misery?"
At this exposure of his hypocrisy, the Sportsman was so overcome
with shame and remorse that he would not strike the Squirrel, but
pointing it out to his dog, walked thoughtfully away.
The Fogy and the Sheik
A FOGY who lived in a cave near a great caravan route returned to
his home one day and saw, near by, a great concourse of men and
animals, and in their midst a tower, at the foot of which something
with wheels smoked and panted like an exhausted horse. He sought
the Sheik of the Outfit.
"What sin art thou committing now, O son of a Christian dog?" said
the Fogy, with a truly Oriental politeness.
"Boring for water, you black-and-tan galoot!" replied the Sheik of
the Outfit, with that ready repartee which distinguishes the
"Knowest thou not, thou whelp of darkness and father of disordered
livers," cried the Fogy, "that water will cause grass to spring up
here, and trees, and possibly even flowers? Knowest thou not, that
thou art, in truth, producing an oasis?"
"And don't you know," said the Sheik of the Outfit, "that caravans
will then stop here for rest and refreshments, giving you a chance
to steal the camels, the horses, and the goods?"
"May the wild hog defile my grave, but thou speakest wisdom!" the
Fogy replied, with the dignity of his race, extending his hand.
They shook.
At Heaven's Gate
HAVING arisen from the tomb, a Woman presented herself at the gate
of Heaven, and knocked with a trembling hand.
"Madam," said Saint Peter, rising and approaching the wicket,
"whence do you come?"
"From San Francisco," replied the Woman, with embarrassment, as
great beads of perspiration spangled her spiritual brow.
"Never mind, my good girl," the Saint said, compassionately.
"Eternity is a long time; you can live that down."
"But that, if you please, is not all." The Woman was growing more
and more confused. "I poisoned my husband. I chopped up my
babies. I - "
"Ah," said the Saint, with sudden austerity, "your confession
suggests a very grave possibility. Were you a member of the
Women's Press Association?"
The lady drew herself up and replied with warmth:
"I was not."
The gates of pearl and jasper swung back upon their golden hinges,
making the most ravishing music, and the Saint, stepping aside,
bowed low, saying:
"Enter, then, into thine eternal rest."
But the Woman hesitated.
"The poisoning - the chopping - the - the - " she stammered.
"Of no consequence, I assure you. We are not going to be hard on a
lady who did not belong to the Women's Press Association. Take a
"But I applied for membership - I was blackballed."
"Take two harps."
The Catted Anarchist
AN Anarchist Orator who had been struck in the face with a Dead Cat
by some Respector of Law to him unknown, had the Dead Cat arrested
and taken before a Magistrate.
"Why do you appeal to the law?" said the Magistrate - "You who go
in for the abolition of law."
"That," replied the Anarchist, who was not without a certain
hardness of head, "that is none of your business; I am not bound to
be consistent. You sit here to do justice between me and this Dead
"Very well," said the Magistrate, putting on the black cap and a
solemn look; "as the accused makes no defence, and is undoubtedly
guilty, I sentence her to be eaten by the public executioner; and
as that position happens to be vacant, I appoint you to it, without
One of the most delighted spectators at the execution was the
anonymous Respector of Law who had flung the condemned.
The Honourable Member
A MEMBER of a Legislature, who had pledged himself to his
Constituents not to steal, brought home at the end of the session a
large part of the dome of the Capitol. Thereupon the Constituents
held an indignation meeting and passed a resolution of tar and
"You are most unjust," said the Member of the Legislature. "It is
true I promised you I would not steal; but had I ever promised you
that I would not lie?"
The Constituents said he was an honourable man and elected him to
the United States Congress, unpledged and unfledged.
The Expatriated Boss
A BOSS who had gone to Canada was taunted by a Citizen of Montreal
with having fled to avoid prosecution.
"You do me a grave injustice," said the Boss, parting with a pair
of tears. "I came to Canada solely because of its political
attractions; its Government is the most corrupt in the world."
"Pray forgive me," said the Citizen of Montreal.
They fell upon each other's neck, and at the conclusion of that
touching rite the Boss had two watches.
An Inadequate Fee
AN Ox, unable to extricate himself from the mire into which he
sank, was advised to make use of a Political Pull. When the
Political Pull had arrived, the Ox said: "My good friend, please
make fast to me, and let nature take her course."
So the Political Pull made fast to the Ox's head and nature took
her course. The Ox was drawn, first, from the mire, and, next,
from his skin. Then the Political Pull looked back upon the good
fat carcase of beef that he was dragging to his lair and said, with
a discontented spirit:
"That is hardly my customary fee; I'll take home this first
instalment, then return and bring an action for salvage against the
The Judge and the Plaintiff
A MAN of Experience in Business was awaiting the judgment of the
Court in an action for damages which he had brought against a
railway company. The door opened and the Judge of the Court
"Well," said he, "I am going to decide your case to-day. If I
should decide in your favour, I wonder how you would express your
"Sir," said the Man of Experience in Business, "I should risk your
anger by offering you one half the sum awarded."
"Did I say I was going to decide that case?" said the Judge,
abruptly, as if awakening from a dream. "Dear me, how absentminded
I am. I mean I have already decided it, and judgment has
been entered for the full amount that you sued for."
"Did I say I would give you one half?" said the Man of Experience
in Business, coldly. "Dear me, how near I came to being a rascal.
I mean, that I am greatly obliged to you."
The Return of the Representative
HEARING that the Legislature had adjourned, the people of an
Assembly District held a mass-meeting to devise a suitable
punishment for their representative. By one speaker it was
proposed that he be disembowelled, by another that he be made to
run the gauntlet. Some favoured hanging, some thought that it
would do him good to appear in a suit of tar and feathers. An old
man, famous for his wisdom and his habit of drooling on his shirtfront,
suggested that they first catch their hare. So the Chairman
appointed a committee to watch for the victim at midnight, and take
him as he should attempt to sneak into town across-lots from the
tamarack swamp. At this point in the proceedings they were
interrupted by the sound of a brass band. Their dishonoured
representative was driving up from the railway station in a coachand-
four, with music and a banner. A few moments later he entered
the hall, went upon the platform, and said it was the proudest
moment of his life. (Cheers.)
A Statesman
A STATESMAN who attended a meeting of a Chamber of Commerce rose to
speak, but was objected to on the ground that he had nothing to do
with commerce.
"Mr. Chairman," said an Aged Member, rising, "I conceive that the
objection is not well taken; the gentleman's connection with
commerce is close and intimate. He is a Commodity."
Two Dogs
THE Dog, as created, had a rigid tail, but after some centuries of
a cheerless existence, unappreciated by Man, who made him work for
his living, he implored the Creator to endow him with a wag. This
being done he was able to dissemble his resentment with a sign of
affection, and the earth was his and the fulness thereof.
Observing this, the Politician (an animal created later) petitioned
that a wag might be given him too. As he was incaudate it was
conferred upon his chin, which he now wags with great profit and
gratification except when he is at his meals.
Three Recruits
A FARMER, an Artisan, and a Labourer went to the King of their
country and complained that they were compelled to support a large
standing army of mere consumers, who did nothing for their keep.
"Very well," said the King, "my subjects' wishes are the highest
So he disbanded his army and the consumers became producers also.
The sale of their products so brought down prices that farming was
ruined, and their skilled and unskilled labour drove the artisans
and labourers into the almshouses and highways. In a few years the
national distress was so great that the Farmer, the Artisan, and
the Labourer petitioned the King to reorganize the standing army.
"What!" said the King; "you wish to support those idle consumers
"No, your Majesty," they replied - "we wish to enlist."
The Mirror
A SILKEN-EARED Spaniel, who traced his descent from King Charles
the Second of England, chanced to look into a mirror which was
leaning against the wainscoting of a room on the ground floor of
his mistress's house. Seeing his reflection, he supposed it to be
another dog, outside, and said:
"I can chew up any such milksoppy pup as that, and I will."
So he ran out-of-doors and around to the side of the house where he
fancied the enemy was. It so happened that at that moment a
Bulldog sat there sunning his teeth. The Spaniel stopped short in
dire consternation, and, after regarding the Bulldog a moment from
a safe distance, said:
"I don't know whether you cultivate the arts of peace or your flag
is flung to the battle and the breeze and your voice is for war.
If you are a civilian, the windows of this house flatter you worse
than a newspaper, but if you're a soldier, they do you a grave
This speech being unintelligible to the Bulldog he only civilly
smiled, which so terrified the Spaniel that he dropped dead in his
Saint and Sinner
"MY friend," said a distinguished officer of the Salvation Army, to
a Most Wicked Sinner, "I was once a drunkard, a thief, an assassin.
The Divine Grace has made me what I am."
The Most Wicked Sinner looked at him from head to foot.
"Henceforth," he said, "the Divine Grace, I fancy, will let well
enough alone."
An Antidote
A YOUNG Ostrich came to its Mother, groaning with pain and with its
wings tightly crossed upon its stomach.
"What have you been eating?" the Mother asked, with solicitude.
"Nothing but a keg of Nails," was the reply.
"What!" exclaimed the Mother; "a whole keg of Nails, at your age!
Why, you will kill yourself that way. Go quickly, my child, and
swallow a claw-hammer."
A Weary Echo
A CONVENTION of female writers, which for two days had been
stuffing Woman's couch with goose-quills and hailing the down of a
new era, adjourned with unabated enthusiasm, shouting, "Place aux
dames!" And Echo wearily replied, "Oh, damn."
The Ingenious Blackmailer
AN Inventor went to a King and was granted an audience, when the
following conversation ensued:
INVENTOR. - "May it please your Majesty, I have invented a rifle
that discharges lightning."
KING. - "Ah, you wish to sell me the secret."
INVENTOR. - "Yes; it will enable your army to overrun any nation
that is accessible."
KING. - "In order to get any good of my outlay for your invention,
I must make a war, and do so as soon as I can arm my troops -
before your secret is discovered by foreign nations. How much do
you want?"
INVENTOR. - "One million dollars."
KING. - "And how much will it cost to make the change of arms?"
INVENTOR. - "Fifty millions."
KING. - "And the war will Cost - ?"
INVENTOR. - "But consider the glory and the spoils!"
KING. - "Exactly. But if I am not seeking these advantages? What
if I decline to purchase?"
INVENTOR. - "There is no economy in that. Though a patriot, I am
poor; if my own country will not patronise me, I must seek a market
KING (to Prime Minister). - "Take this blackmailer and cut off his
A Talisman
HAVING been summoned to serve as a juror, a Prominent Citizen sent
a physician's certificate stating that he was afflicted with
softening of the brain.
"The gentleman is excused," said the Judge, handing back the
certificate to the person who had brought it, "he has a brain."
The Ancient Order
HARDLY had that ancient order, the Sultans of Exceeding Splendour,
been completely founded by the Grand Flashing Inaccessible, when a
question arose as to what should be the title of address among the
members. Some wanted it to be simply "my Lord," others held out
for "your Dukeness," and still others preferred "my Sovereign
Liege." Finally the gorgeous jewel of the order, gleaming upon the
breast of every member, suggested "your Badgesty," which was
adopted, and the order became popularly known as the Kings of
A Fatal Disorder
A DYING Man who had been shot was requested by officers of the law
to make a statement, and be quick about it.
"You were assaulted without provocation, of course," said the
District Attorney, preparing to set down the answer.
"No," replied the Dying Man, "I was the aggressor."
"Yes, I understand," said the District Attorney; "you committed the
aggression - you were compelled to, as it were. You did it in
"I don't think he would have hurt me if I had let him alone," said
the other. "No, I fancy he was a man of peace, and would not have
hurt a fly. I brought such a pressure to bear on him that he
naturally had to yield - he couldn't hold out. If he had refused
to shoot me I don't see how I could decently have continued his
"Good Heavens!" exclaimed the District Attorney, throwing down his
note-book and pencil; "this is all quite irregular. I can't make
use of such an ante-mortem statement as that."
"I never before knew a man to tell the truth," said the Chief of
Police, "when dying of violence."
"Violence nothing!" the Police Surgeon said, pulling out and
inspecting the man's tongue - "it is the truth that is killing
The Massacre
SOME Holy Missionaries in China having been deprived of life by the
Bigoted Heathens, the Christian Press made a note of it, and was
greatly pained to point out the contrast between the Bigoted
Heathens and the law-abiding countrymen of the Holy Missionaries
who had wickedly been sent to eternal bliss.
"Yes," assented a Miserable Sinner, as he finished reading the
articles, "the Heathens of Ying Shing are deceitful above all
things and desperately wicked. By the way," he added, turning over
the paper to read the entertaining and instructive Fables, "I know
the Heathenese lingo. Ying Shing means Rock Creek; it is in the
Province of Wyo Ming."
A Ship and a Man
SEEING a ship sailing by upon the sea of politics, an Ambitious
Person started in hot pursuit along the strand; but the people's
eyes being fixed upon the Presidency no one observed the pursuer.
This greatly annoyed him, and recollecting that he was not aquatic,
he stopped and shouted across the waves' tumultous roar:
"Take my name off the passenger list."
Back to him over the waters, hollow and heartless, like laughter in
a tomb, rang the voice of the Skipper:
"'T ain't on!"
And there, in the focus of a million pairs of convergent eyes, the
Ambitious Person sat him down between the sun and moon and murmured
sadly to his own soul:
"Marooned, by thunder!"
Congress and the People
SUCCESSIVE Congresses having greatly impoverished the People, they
were discouraged and wept copiously.
"Why do you weep?" inquired an Angel who had perched upon a fence
near by.
"They have taken all we have," replied the People - "excepting,"
they added, noting the suggestive visitant - "excepting our hope in
heaven. Thank God, they cannot deprive us of that!"
But at last came the Congress of 1889.
The Justice and His Accuser
AN eminent Justice of the Supreme Court of Patagascar was accused
of having obtained his appointment by fraud.
"You wander," he said to the Accuser; "it is of little importance
how I obtained my power; it is only important how I have used it."
"I confess," said the Accuser, "that in comparison with the
rascally way in which you have conducted yourself on the Bench, the
rascally way in which you got there does seem rather a trifle."
The Highwayman and the Traveller
A HIGHWAYMAN confronted a Traveller, and covering him with a
firearm, shouted: "Your money or your life!"
"My good friend," said the Traveller, "according to the terms of
your demand my money will save my life, my life my money; you imply
you will take one or the other, but not both. If that is what you
mean, please be good enough to take my life."
"That is not what I mean," said the Highwayman; "you cannot save
your money by giving up your life."
"Then take it, anyhow," the Traveller said. "If it will not save
my money, it is good for nothing."
The Highwayman was so pleased with the Traveller's philosophy and
wit that he took him into partnership, and this splendid
combination of talent started a newspaper.
The Policeman and the Citizen
A POLICEMAN, finding a man that had fallen in a fit, said, "This
man is drunk," and began beating him on the head with his club. A
passing Citizen said:
"Why do you murder a man that is already harmless?"
Thereupon the Policeman left the man in a fit and attacked the
Citizen, who, after receiving several severe contusions, ran away.
"Alas," said the Policeman, "why did I not attack the sober one
before exhausting myself upon the other?"
Thenceforward he pursued that plan, and by zeal and diligence rose
to be Chief, and sobriety is unknown in the region subject to his
The Writer and the Tramps
AN Ambitious Writer, distinguished for the condition of his linen,
was travelling the high road to fame, when he met a Tramp.
"What is the matter with your shirt?" inquired the Tramp.
"It bears the marks of that superb unconcern which is the
characteristic of genius," replied the Ambitious Writer,
contemptuously passing him by.
Resting by the wayside a little later, the Tramp carved upon the
smooth bark of a birch-tree the words, "John Gump, Champion
Two Politicians
Two Politicians were exchanging ideas regarding the rewards for
public service.
"The reward which I most desire," said the First Politician, "is
the gratitude of my fellow-citizens."
"That would be very gratifying, no doubt," said the Second
Politician, "but, alas! in order to obtain it one has to retire
from politics."
For an instant they gazed upon each other with inexpressible
tenderness; then the First Politician murmured, "God's will be
done! Since we cannot hope for reward, let us be content with what
we have."
And lifting their right hands from the public treasury they swore
to be content.
The Fugitive Office
A TRAVELLER arriving at the capitol of the nation saw a vast plain
outside the wall, filled with struggling and shouting men. While
he looked upon the alarming spectacle an Office broke away from the
Throng and took shelter in a tomb close to where he stood, the
crowd being too intent upon hammering one another to observe that
the cause of their contention had departed.
"Poor bruised and bleeding creature," said the compassionate
Traveller, "what misfortune caused you to be so far away from the
source of power?"
"I 'sought the man,'" said the Office.
The Tyrant Frog
A SNAKE swallowing a frog head-first was approached by a Naturalist
with a stick.
"Ah, my deliverer," said the Snake as well as he could, "you have
arrived just in time; this reptile, you see, is pitching into me
without provocation."
"Sir," replied the Naturalist, "I need a snakeskin for my
collection, but if you had not explained I should not have
interrupted you, for I thought you were at dinner."
The Eligible Son-in-Law
A TRULY Pious Person who conducted a savings bank and lent money to
his sisters and his cousins and his aunts of both sexes, was
approached by a Tatterdemalion, who applied for a loan of one
hundred thousand dollars.
"What security have you to offer?" asked the Truly Pious Person.
"The best in the world," the applicant replied, confidentially; "I
am about to become your son-in-law."
"That would indeed be gilt-edged," said the banker, gravely; "but
what claim have you to the hand of my daughter?"
"One that cannot be lightly denied," said the Tatterdemalion. "I
am about to become worth one hundred thousand dollars."
Unable to detect a weak point in this scheme of mutual advantage,
the financier gave the promoter in disguise an order for the money,
and wrote a note to his wife directing her to count out the girl.
The Statesman and the Horse
A STATESMAN who had saved his country was returning from Washington
on foot, when he met a Race Horse going at full speed, and stopped
"Turn about and travel the other way," said the Statesman, "and I
will keep you company as far as my home. The advantages of
travelling together are obvious."
"I cannot do that," said the Race Horse; "I am following my master
to Washington. I did not go fast enough to suit him, and he has
gone on ahead."
"Who is your master?" inquired the Statesman.
"He is the Statesman who saved his country," answered the Race
"There appears to be some mistake," the other said. "Why did he
wish to travel so fast?"
"So as to be there in time to get the country that he saved."
"I guess he got it," said the other, and limped along, sighing.
An AErophobe
A CELEBRATED Divine having affirmed the fallibility of the Bible,
was asked why, then, he preached the religion founded upon it.
"If it is fallible," he replied, "there is the greater reason that
I explain it, lest it mislead."
"Then am I to infer," said his Questioner, "that YOU are not
"You are to infer that I am not pneumophagous."
The Thrift of Strength
A WEAK Man going down-hill met a Strong Man going up, and said:
"I take this direction because it requires less exertion, not from
choice. I pray you, sir, assist me to regain the summit."
"Gladly," said the Strong Man, his face illuminated with the glory
of his thought. "I have always considered my strength a sacred
gift in trust for my fellow-men. I will take you along with me.
Just get behind me and push."
The Good Government
"WHAT a happy land you are!" said a Republican Form of Government
to a Sovereign State. "Be good enough to lie still while I walk
upon you, singing the praises of universal suffrage and descanting
upon the blessings of civil and religious liberty. In the meantime
you can relieve your feelings by cursing the one-man power and the
effete monarchies of Europe."
"My public servants have been fools and rogues from the date of
your accession to power," replied the State; "my legislative
bodies, both State and municipal, are bands of thieves; my taxes
are insupportable; my courts are corrupt; my cities are a disgrace
to civilisation; my corporations have their hands at the throats of
every private interest - all my affairs are in disorder and
criminal confusion."
"That is all very true," said the Republican Form of Government,
putting on its hobnail shoes; "but consider how I thrill you every
Fourth of July."
The Life Saver
AN Ancient Maiden, standing on the edge of a wharf near a Modern
Swain, was overheard rehearsing the words:
"Noble preserver! The life that you have saved is yours!"
Having repeated them several times with various intonations, she
sprang into the water, where she was suffered to drown.
"I am a noble preserver," said the Modern Swain, thoughtfully
moving away; "the life that I have saved is indeed mine."
The Man and the Bird
A MAN with a Shotgun said to a Bird:
"It is all nonsense, you know, about shooting being a cruel sport.
I put my skill against your cunning-that is all there is of it. It
is a fair game."
"True," said the Bird, "but I don't wish to play."
"Why not?" inquired the Man with a Shotgun.
"The game," the Bird replied, "is fair as you say; the chances are
about even; but consider the stake. I am in it for you, but what
is there in it for me?"
Not being prepared with an answer to the question, the Man with a
Shotgun sagaciously removed the propounder.
From the Minutes
AN Orator afflicted with atrophy of the organ of common-sense rose
in his place in the halls of legislation and pointed with pride to
his Unblotted Escutcheon. Seeing what it supposed to be the finger
of scorn pointed at it, the Unblotted Escutcheon turned black with
rage. Seeing the Unblotted Escutcheon turning black with what he
supposed to be the record of his own misdeeds showing through the
whitewash, the Orator fell dead of mortification. Seeing the
Orator fall dead of what they supposed to be atrophy of the organ
of common-sense, his colleagues resolved that whenever they should
adjourn because they were tired, it should be out of respect to the
memory of him who had so frequently made them so.
Three of a Kind
A LAWYER in whom an instinct of justice had survived the wreck of
his ignorance of law was retained for the defence of a burglar whom
the police had taken after a desperate struggle with someone not in
custody. In consultation with his client the Lawyer asked, "Have
you accomplices?"
"Yes, sir," replied the Burglar. "I have two, but neither has been
taken. I hired one to defend me against capture, you to defend me
against conviction."
This answer deeply impressed the Lawyer, and having ascertained
that the Burglar had accumulated no money in his profession he
threw up the case.
The Fabulist and the Animals
A WISE and illustrious Writer of Fables was visiting a travelling
menagerie with a view to collecting literary materials. As he was
passing near the Elephant, that animal said:
"How sad that so justly famous a satirist should mar his work by
ridicule of people with long noses - who are the salt of the
The Kangaroo said:
"I do so enjoy that great man's censure of the ridiculous -
particularly his attacks on the Proboscidae; but, alas! he has no
reverence for the Marsupials, and laughs at our way of carrying our
young in a pouch."
The Camel said:
"If he would only respect the sacred Hump, he would be faultless.
As it is, I cannot permit his fables to be read in the presence of
my family."
The Ostrich, seeing his approach, thrust her head in the straw,
"If I do not conceal myself, he may be reminded to write something
disagreeable about my lack of a crest or my appetite for scrapiron;
and although he is inexpressibly brilliant when he devotes
himself to censure of folly and greed, his dulness is matchless
when he transcends the limits of legitimate comment."
"That,' said the Buzzard to his mate, "is the distinguished author
of that glorious fable, 'The Ostrich and the Keg of Raw Nails.' I
regret to add, that he wrote, also, 'The Buzzard's Feast,' in which
a carrion diet is contumeliously disparaged. A carrion diet is the
foundation of sound health. If nothing else but corpses were
eaten, death would be unknown."
Seeing an attendant approaching, the wise and illustrious Writer of
Fables passed out of the tent and mingled with the crowd. It was
afterward discovered that he had crept in under the canvas without
A Revivalist Revived
A REVIVALIST who had fallen dead in the pulpit from too violent
religious exercise was astonished to wake up in Hades. He promptly
sent for the Adversary of Souls and demanded his freedom,
explaining that he was entirely orthodox, and had always led a
pious and holy life.
"That is all very true," said the Adversary, "but you taught by
example that a verb should not agree with its subject in person and
number, whereas the Good Book says that contention is worse than a
dinner of herbs. You also tried to release the objective case from
its thraldom to the preposition, and it is written that servants
should obey their masters. You stay right here."
The Debaters
A HURLED-BACK Allegation, which, after a brief rest, had again
started forth upon its mission of mischief, met an Ink-stand in
"How did the Honourable Member whom you represent know that I was
coming again?" inquired the Hurled-back Allegation.
"He did not," the Inkstand replied; "he isn't at all forehanded at
"Why, then, do you come, things being even when he had hurled me
"He wanted to be a little ahead."
Two of the Pious
A CHRISTIAN and a Heathen in His Blindness were disputing, when the
Christian, with that charming consideration which serves to
distinguish the truly pious from the wolves that perish, exclaimed:
"If I could have my way, I'd blow up all your gods with dynamite."
"And if I could have mine," retorted the Heathen in His Blindness,
bitterly malevolent but oleaginuously suave, "I'd fan all yours out
of the universe."
The Desperate Object
A DISHONEST Gain was driving in its luxurious carriage through its
private park, when it saw something which frantically and
repeatedly ran against a stone wall, endeavouring to butt out its
"Hold! Hold! thou desperate Object," cried the Dishonest Gain;
"these beautiful private grounds are no place for such work as
"True," said the Object, pausing; "I have other and better grounds
for it."
"Then thou art a happy man," said the Dishonest Gain, "and thy
bleeding head is but mere dissembling. Who art thou, great actor?"
"I am known," said the Object, dashing itself again at the wall,
"as the Consciousness of Duty Well Performed."
The Appropriate Memorial
A HIGH Public Functionary having died, the citizens of his town
held a meeting to consider how to honour his memory, and an Other
High Public Functionary rose and addressed the meeting.
"Mr. Chairman and Gintlemen," said the Other, "it sames to me, and
I'm hopin' yez wull approve the suggistion, that an appropriet way
to honour the mimory of the decaised would be to erect an emolument
sootably inscribed wid his vartues."
The soul of the great man looked down from Heaven and wept.
A Needless Labour
AFTER waiting many a weary day to revenge himself upon a Lion for
some unconsidered manifestation of contempt, a Skunk finally saw
him coming, and posting himself in the path ahead uttered the
inaudible discord of his race. Observing that the Lion gave no
attention to the matter, the Skunk, keeping carefully out of reach,
"Sir, I beg leave to point out that I have set on foot an
implacable odour."
"My dear fellow," the Lion replied, "you have taken a needless
trouble; I already knew that you were a Skunk."
A Flourishing Industry
"ARE the industries of this country in a flourishing condition?"
asked a Traveller from a Foreign Land of the first man he met in
"Splendid!" said the Man. "I have more orders than I can fill."
"What is your business?" the Traveller from a Foreign Land
The Man replied, "I make boxing-gloves for the tongues of
The Self-Made Monkey
A MAN of humble birth and no breading, who held a high political
office, was passing through a forest, when he met a Monkey.
"I take it you are one of my constituents," the Man said.
"No," replied the Monkey; "but I will support you if you can urge a
valid claim to my approval."
"I am a self-made man," said the other, proudly.
"That is nothing," the Monkey said. And going to a bigger pine, he
rose by his own unaided exertions to the top branch, where he sat,
all bedaubed with the pitch which that vegetable exudes. "Now," he
added, "I am a self-made Monkey."
The Patriot and the Banker
A PATRIOT who had taken office poor and retired rich was introduced
at a bank where he desired to open an account.
"With pleasure," said the Honest Banker; "we shall be glad to do
business with you; but first you must make yourself an honest man
by restoring what you stole from the Government."
"Good heavens!" cried the Patriot; "if I do that, I shall have
nothing to deposit with you."
"I don't see that," the Honest Banker replied. "We are not the
whole American people."
"Ah, I understand," said the Patriot, musing. "At what sum do you
estimate this bank's proportion of the country's loss by me?"
"About a dollar," answered the Honest Banker.
And with a proud consciousness of serving his country wisely and
well he charged that sum to the account.
The Mourning Brothers
OBSERVING that he was about to die, an Old Man called his two Sons
to his bedside and expounded the situation.
"My children," said he, "you have not shown me many marks of
respect during my life, but you will attest your sorrow for my
death. To him who the longer wears a weed upon his hat in memory
of me shall go my entire fortune. I have made a will to that
So when the Old Man was dead each of the youths put a weed upon his
hat and wore it until he was himself old, when, seeing that neither
would give in, they agreed that the younger should leave off his
weeds and the elder give him half of the estate. But when the
elder applied for the property he found that there had been an
Thus were hypocrisy and obstinacy fitly punished.
The Disinterested Arbiter
TWO Dogs who had been fighting for a bone, without advantage to
either, referred their dispute to a Sheep. The Sheep patiently
heard their statements, then flung the bone into a pond.
"Why did you do that?" said the Dogs.
"Because," replied the Sheep, "I am a vegetarian."
The Thief and the Honest Man
A THIEF who had brought a suit against his accomplices to recover
his share of the plunder taken from an Honest Man, demanded the
Honest Man's attendance at the trial to testify to his loss. But
the Honest Man explained that as he was merely the agent of a
company of other honest men it was none of his affair; and when the
officers came to serve him with a subpoena he hid himself behind
his back and wiled away the dragging hours of retirement and
inaction by picking his own pockets.
The Dutiful Son
A MILLIONAIRE who had gone to an almshouse to visit his father met
a Neighbour there, who was greatly surprised.
"What!" said the Neighbour, "you do sometimes visit your father?"
"If our situations were reversed," said the Millionaire, "I am sure
he would visit me. The old man has always been rather proud of me.
Besides," he added, softly, "I had to have his signature; I am
insuring his life."
The Cat and the Youth
A CAT fell in love with a handsome Young Man, and entreated Venus
to change her into a woman.
"I should think," said Venus, "you might make so trifling a change
without bothering me. However, be a woman."
Afterward, wishing to see if the change were complete, Venus caused
a mouse to approach, whereupon the woman shrieked and made such a
show of herself that the Young Man would not marry her.
The Farmer and His Sons
A FARMER being about to die, and knowing that during his illness
his Sons had permitted the vineyard to become overgrown with weeds
while they improved the shining hour by gambling with the doctor,
said to them:
"My boys, there is a great treasure buried in the vineyard. You
dig in the ground until you find it."
So the Sons dug up all the weeds, and all the vines too, and even
neglected to bury the old man.
Jupiter and the Baby Show
JUPITER held a baby show, open to all animals, and a Monkey entered
her hideous cub for a prize, but Jupiter only laughed at her.
"It is all very well," said the Monkey, "to laugh at my offspring,
but you go into any gallery of antique sculpture and look at the
statues and busts of the fellows that you begot yourself."
"'Sh! don't expose me," said Jupiter, and awarded her the first
The Man and the Dog
A MAN who had been bitten by a Dog was told that the wound would
heal if he would dip a piece of bread in the blood and give it to
the Dog. He did so.
"No," said the Dog; "if I were to accept that, it might be thought
that in biting you I was actuated by improper motives."
"And by what motives were you actuated?" asked the Man.
"I desired," replied the Dog, "merely to harmonise myself with the
Divine Scheme of Things. I'm a child of Nature."
The Cat and the Birds
HEARING that the Birds in an aviary were ill, a Cat went to them
and said that he was a physician, and would cure them if they would
let him in.
"To what school of medicine do you belong?" asked the Birds.
"I am a Miaulopathist," said the Cat.
"Did you ever practise Gohomoeopathy?" the Birds inquired, winking
The Cat took the hint and his leave.
Mercury and the Woodchopper
A WOODCHOPPER, who had dropped his axe into a deep pool, besought
Mercury to recover it for him. That thoughtless deity immediately
plunged into the pool, which became so salivated that the trees
about its margin all came loose and dropped out.
The Fox and the Grapes
A FOX, seeing some sour grapes hanging within an inch of his nose,
and being unwilling to admit that there was anything he would not
eat, solemnly declared that they were out of his reach.
The Penitent Thief
A BOY who had been taught by his Mother to steal grew to be a man
and was a professional public official. One day he was taken in
the act and condemned to die. While going to the place of
execution he passed his Mother and said to her:
"Behold your work! If you had not taught me to steal, I should not
have come to this."
"Indeed!" said the Mother. "And who, pray, taught you to be
The Archer and the Eagle
AN Eagle mortally wounded by an Archer was greatly comforted to
observe that the arrow was feathered with one of his own quills.
"I should have felt bad, indeed," he said, "to think that any other
eagle had a hand in this."
Truth and the Traveller
A MAN travelling in a desert met a Woman.
"Who art thou?" asked the Man, "and why dost thou dwell in this
dreadful place?"
"My name," replied the Woman, "is Truth; and I live in the desert
in order to be near my worshippers when they are driven from among
their fellows. They all come, sooner or later."
"Well," said the Man, looking about, "the country doesn't seem to
be very thickly settled here."
The Wolf and the Lamb
A LAMB, pursued by a Wolf, fled into the temple.
"The priest will catch you and sacrifice you," said the Wolf, "if
you remain there."
"It is just as well to be sacrificed by the priest as to be eaten
by you," said the Lamb.
"My friend," said the Wolf, "it pains me to see you considering so
great a question from a purely selfish point of view. It is not
just as well for me."
The Lion and the Boar
A LION and a Boar, who were fighting for water at a pool, saw some
vultures hovering significantly above them. "Let us make up our
quarrel," said the Boar, "or these fellows will get one of us,
"I should not so much mind that," replied the Lion, "if they would
get the right one. However, I am willing to stop fighting, and
then perhaps I can grab a vulture. I like chicken better than
pork, anyhow."
The Grasshopper and the Ant
ONE day in winter a hungry Grasshopper applied to an Ant for some
of the food which they had stored.
"Why," said the Ant, "did you not store up some food for yourself,
instead of singing all the time?"
"So I did," said the Grasshopper; "so I did; but you fellows broke
in and carried it all away."
The Fisher and the Fished
A FISHERMAN who had caught a very small Fish was putting it in his
basket when it said:
"I pray you put me back into the stream, for I can be of no use to
you; the gods do not eat fish."
"But I am no god," said the Fisherman.
"True," said the Fish, "but as soon as Jupiter has heard of your
exploit, he will elevate you to the deitage. You are the only man
that ever caught a small fish."
The Farmer and the Fox
A FARMER who had a deadly and implacable hatred against a certain
Fox, caught him and tied some tow to his tail; then carrying him to
the centre of his own grain-field, set the tow on fire and let the
animal go.
"Alas!" said the Farmer, seeing the result; "if that grain had not
been heavily insured, I might have had to dissemble my hatred of
the Fox."
Dame Fortune and the Traveller
A WEARY Traveller who had lain down and fallen asleep on the brink
of a deep well was discovered by Dame Fortune.
"If this fool," she said, "should have an uneasy dream and roll
into the well men would say that I did it. It is painful to me to
be unjustly accused, and I shall see that I am not."
So saying she rolled the man into the well.
The Victor and the Victim
TWO Game Cocks, having fought a battle, the defeated one skulked
away and hid, but the victor mounted a wall and crowed lustily.
This attracted the attention of a hawk, who said:
"Behold! how pride goeth before a fall."
So he swooped down upon the boasting bird and was about to destroy
him, when the vanquished Cock came out of his hiding-place, and
between the two the Hawk was calamitously defeated.
The Wolf and the Shepherds
A WOLF passing a Shepherd's hut looked in and saw the shepherds
"Come in," said one of them, ironically, "and partake of your
favourite dish, a haunch of mutton."
"Thank you," said the Wolf, moving away, "but you must excuse me; I
have just had a saddle of shepherd."
The Goose and the Swan
A CERTAIN rich man reared a Goose and a Swan, the one for his
table, the other because she was reputed a good singer. One night
when the Cook went to kill the Goose he got hold of the Swan
instead. Thereupon the Swan, to induce him to spare her life,
began to sing; but she saved him nothing but the trouble of killing
her, for she died of the song.
The Lion, the Cock, and the Ass
A LION was about to attack a braying Ass, when a Cock near by
crowed shrilly, and the Lion ran away. "What frightened him?" the
Ass asked.
"Lions have a superstitious terror of my voice," answered the Cock,
"Well, well, well," said the Ass, shaking his head; "I should think
that any animal that is afraid of your voice and doesn't mind mine
must have an uncommon kind of ear."
The Snake and the Swallow
A SWALLOW who had built her nest in a court of justice reared a
fine family of young birds. One day a Snake came out of a chink in
the wall and was about to eat them. The Just Judge at once issued
an injunction, and making an order for their removal to his own
house, ate them himself.
The Wolves and the Dogs
"WHY should there be strife between us?" said the Wolves to the
Sheep. "It is all owing to those quarrelsome dogs. Dismiss them,
and we shall have peace."
"You seem to think," replied the Sheep, "that it is an easy thing
to dismiss dogs. Have you always found it so?"
The Hen and the Vipers
A HEN who had patiently hatched out a brood of vipers, was accosted
by a Swallow, who said: "What a fool you are to give life to
creatures who will reward you by destroying you."
"I am a little bit on the destroy myself," said the Hen, tranquilly
swallowing one of the little reptiles; "and it is not an act of
folly to provide oneself with the delicacies of the season."
A Seasonable Joke
A SPENDTHRIFT, seeing a single swallow, pawned his cloak, thinking
that Summer was at hand. It was.
The Lion and the Thorn
A LION roaming through the forest, got a thorn in his foot, and,
meeting a Shepherd, asked him to remove it. The Shepherd did so,
and the Lion, having just surfeited himself on another shepherd,
went away without harming him. Some time afterward the Shepherd
was condemned on a false accusation to be cast to the lions in the
amphitheatre. When they were about to devour him, one of them
"This is the man who removed the thorn from my foot."
Hearing this, the others honourably abstained, and the claimant ate
the Shepherd all himself.
The Fawn and the Buck
A FAWN said to its father: "You are larger, stronger, and more
active than a dog, and you have sharp horns. Why do you run away
when you hear one barking?"
"Because, my child," replied the Buck, "my temper is so uncertain
that if I permit one of those noisy creatures to come into my
presence I am likely to forget myself and do him an injury."
The Kite, the Pigeons, and the Hawk
SOME Pigeons exposed to the attacks of a Kite asked a Hawk to
defend them. He consented, and being admitted into the cote waited
for the Kite, whom he fell upon and devoured. When he was so
surfeited that he could scarcely move, the grateful Pigeons
scratched out his eyes.
The Wolf and the Babe
A FAMISHING Wolf, passing the door of a cottage in the forest,
heard a Mother say to her babe:
"Be quiet, or I will throw you out of the window, and the wolves
will get you."
So he waited all day below the window, growing more hungry all the
time. But at night the Old Man, having returned from the village
club, threw out both Mother and Child.
The Wolf and the Ostrich
A WOLF, who in devouring a man had choked himself with a bunch of
keys, asked an ostrich to put her head down his throat and pull
them out, which she did.
"I suppose," said the Wolf, "you expect payment for that service."
"A kind act," replied the Ostrich, "is its own reward; I have eaten
the keys."
The Herdsman and the Lion
A HERDSMAN who had lost a bullock entreated the gods to bring him
the thief, and vowed he would sacrifice a goat to them. Just then
a Lion, his jaws dripping with bullock's blood, approached the
"I thank you, good deities," said the Herdsman, continuing his
prayer, "for showing me the thief. And now if you will take him
away, I will stand another goat."
The Man and the Viper
A MAN finding a frozen Viper put it into his bosom.
"The coldness of the human heart," he said, with a grin, "will keep
the creature in his present condition until I can reach home and
revive him on the coals."
But the pleasures of hope so fired his heart that the Viper thawed,
and sliding to the ground thanked the Man civilly for his
hospitality and glided away.
The Man and the Eagle
AN Eagle was once captured by a Man, who clipped his wings and put
him in the poultry yard, along with the chickens. The Eagle was
much depressed in spirits by the change.
"Why should you not rather rejoice?" said the Man. "You were only
an ordinary fellow as an eagle; but as an old rooster you are a
fowl of incomparable distinction.
The War-horse and the Miller
HAVING heard that the State was about to be invaded by a hostile
army, a War-horse belonging to a Colonel of the Militia offered his
services to a passing Miller.
"No," said the patriotic Miller, "I will employ no one who deserts
his position in the hour of danger. It is sweet to die for one's
Something in the sentiment sounded familiar, and, looking at the
Miller more closely the War-horse recognised his master in
The Dog and the Reflection
A DOG passing over a stream on a plank saw his reflection in the
"You ugly brute!" he cried; "how dare you look at me in that
insolent way."
He made a grab in the water, and, getting hold of what he supposed
was the other dog's lip, lifted out a fine piece of meat which a
butcher's boy had dropped into the stream.
The Man and the Fish-horn
A TRUTHFUL Man, finding a musical instrument in the road, asked the
name of it, and was told that it was a fish-horn. The next time he
went fishing he set his nets and blew the fish-horn all day to
charm the fish into them; but at nightfall there were not only no
fish in his nets, but none along that part of the coast. Meeting a
friend while on his way home he was asked what luck he had had.
"Well," said the Truthful Man, "the weather is not right for
fishing, but it's a red-letter day for music."
The Hare and the Tortoise
A HARE having ridiculed the slow movements of a Tortoise, was
challenged by the latter to run a race, a Fox to go to the goal and
be the judge. They got off well together, the hare at the top of
her speed, the Tortoise, who had no other intention than making his
antagonist exert herself, going very leisurely. After sauntering
along for some time he discovered the Hare by the wayside,
apparently asleep, and seeing a chance to win pushed on as fast as
he could, arriving at the goal hours afterward, suffering from
extreme fatigue and claiming the victory.
"Not so," said the Fox; "the Hare was here long ago, and went back
to cheer you on your way."
Hercules and the Carter
A CARTER was driving a waggon loaded with a merchant's goods, when
the wheels stuck in a rut. Thereupon he began to pray to Hercules,
without other exertion.
"Indolent fellow!" said Hercules; "you ask me to help you, but will
not help yourself."
So the Carter helped himself to so many of the most valuable goods
that the horses easily ran away with the remainder.
The Lion and the Bull
A LION wishing to lure a Bull to a place where it would be safe to
attack him, said: "My friend, I have killed a fine sheep; will you
come with me and partake of the mutton?"
"With pleasure," said the Bull, "as soon as you have refreshed
yourself a little for the journey. Pray have some grass."
The Man and his Goose
"SEE these valuable golden eggs," said a Man that owned a Goose.
"Surely a Goose which can lay such eggs as those must have a gold
mine inside her."
So he killed the Goose and cut her open, but found that she was
just like any other goose. Moreover, on examining the eggs that
she had laid he found they were just like any other eggs.
The Wolf and the Feeding Goat
A WOLF saw a Goat feeding at the summit of a rock, where he could
not get at her.
"Why do you stay up there in that sterile place and go hungry?"
said the Wolf. "Down here where I am the broken-bottle vine cometh
up as a flower, the celluloid collar blossoms as the rose, and the
tin-can tree brings forth after its kind."
"That is true, no doubt," said the Goat, "but how about the circusposter
crop? I hear that it failed this year down there."
The Wolf, perceiving that he was being chaffed, went away and
resumed his duties at the doors of the poor.
Jupiter and the Birds
JUPITER commanded all the birds to appear before him, so that he
might choose the most beautiful to be their king. The ugly
jackdaw, collecting all the fine feathers which had fallen from the
other birds, attached them to his own body and appeared at the
examination, looking very gay. The other birds, recognising their
own borrowed plumage, indignantly protested, and began to strip
"Hold!" said Jupiter; "this self-made bird has more sense than any
of you. He is your king."
The Lion and the Mouse
A LION who had caught a Mouse was about to kill him, when the Mouse
"If you will spare my life, I will do as much for you some day."
The Lion, good-naturedly let him go. It happened shortly
afterwards that the Lion was caught by some hunters and bound with
cords. The Mouse, passing that way, and seeing that his benefactor
was helpless, gnawed off his tail.
The Old Man and His Sons
AN Old Man, afflicted with a family of contentious Sons, brought in
a bundle of sticks and asked the young men to break it. After
repeated efforts they confessed that it could not be done.
"Behold," said the Old Man, "the advantage of unity; as long as
these sticks are in alliance they are invincible, but observe how
feeble they are individually."
Pulling a single stick from the bundle, he broke it easily upon the
head of the eldest Son, and this he repeated until all had been
The Crab and His Son
A LOGICAL Crab said to his Son, "Why do you not walk straight
forward? Your sidelong gait is singularly ungraceful."
"Why don't you walk straight forward yourself," said the Son.
"Erring youth," replied the Logical Crab, "you are introducing new
and irrelevant matter."
The North Wind and the Sun
THE Sun and the North Wind disputed which was the more powerful,
and agreed that he should be declared victor who could the sooner
strip a traveller of his clothes. So they waited until a traveller
came by. But the traveller had been indiscreet enough to stay over
night at a summer hotel, and had no clothes.
The Mountain and the Mouse
A MOUNTAIN was in labour, and the people of seven cities had
assembled to watch its movements and hear its groans. While they
waited in breathless expectancy out came a Mouse.
"Oh, what a baby!" they cried in derision.
"I may be a baby," said the Mouse, gravely, as he passed outward
through the forest of shins, "but I know tolerably well how to
diagnose a volcano."
The Bellamy and the Members
THE Members of a body of Socialists rose in insurrection against
their Bellamy.
"Why," said they, "should we be all the time tucking you out with
food when you do nothing to tuck us out?"
So, resolving to take no further action, they went away, and
looking backward had the satisfaction to see the Bellamy compelled
to sell his own book.
The Wolf and the Crane
A RICH Man wanted to tell a certain lie, but the lie was of such
monstrous size that it stuck in his throat; so he employed an
Editor to write it out and publish it in his paper as an editorial.
But when the Editor presented his bill, the Rich Man said:
"Be content - is it nothing that I refrained from advising you
about investments?"
The Lion and the Mouse
A JUDGE was awakened by the noise of a lawyer prosecuting a Thief.
Rising in wrath he was about to sentence the Thief to life
imprisonment when the latter said:
"I beg that you will set me free, and I will some day requite your
Pleased and flattered to be bribed, although by nothing but an
empty promise, the Judge let him go. Soon afterward he found that
it was more than an empty promise, for, having become a Thief, he
was himself set free by the other, who had become a Judge.
The Hares and the Frogs
THE Members of a Legislature, being told that they were the meanest
thieves in the world, resolved to commit suicide. So they bought
shrouds, and laying them in a convenient place prepared to cut
their throats. While they were grinding their razors some Tramps
passing that way stole the shrouds.
"Let us live, my friends," said one of the Legislators to the
others; "the world is better than we thought. It contains meaner
thieves than we."
The Belly and the Members
SOME Workingmen employed in a shoe factory went on a strike,
saying: "Why should we continue to work to feed and clothe our
employer when we have none too much to eat and wear ourselves?"
The Manufacturer, seeing that he could get no labour for a long
time and finding the times pretty hard anyhow, burned down his shoe
factory for the insurance, and when the strikers wanted to resume
work there was no work to resume. So they boycotted a tanner.
The Piping Fisherman
AN Editor who was always vaunting the purity, enterprise, and
fearlessness of his paper was pained to observe that he got no
subscribers. One day it occurred to him to stop saying that his
paper was pure and enterprising and fearless, and make it so. "If
these are not good qualities," he reasoned, "it is folly to claim
Under the new policy he got so many subscribers that his rivals
endeavoured to discover the secret of his prosperity, but he kept
it, and when he died it died with him.
The Ants and the Grasshopper
SOME Members of a Legislature were making schedules of their wealth
at the end of the session, when an Honest Miner came along and
asked them to divide with him. The members of the Legislature
"Why did you not acquire property of your own?"
"Because," replied the Honest Miner, "I was so busy digging out
gold that I had no leisure to lay up something worth while."
Then the Members of the Legislature derided him, saying:
"If you waste your time in profitless amusement, you cannot, of
course, expect to share the rewards of industry."
The Dog and His Reflection
A STATE Official carrying off the Dome of the Capitol met the Ghost
of his predecessor, who had come out of his political grave to warn
him that God saw him. As the place of meeting was lonely and the
time midnight, the State Official set down the Dome of the Capitol,
and commanded the supposed traveller to throw up his hands. The
Ghost replied that he had not eaten them, and while he was
explaining the situation another State Official silently added the
dome to his own collection.
The Lion, the Bear, and the Fox
Two Thieves having stolen a Piano and being unable to divide it
fairly without a remainder went to law about it and continued the
contest as long as either one could steal a dollar to bribe the
judge. When they could give no more an Honest Man came along and
by a single small payment obtained a judgment and took the Piano
home, where his daughter used it to develop her biceps muscles,
becoming a famous pugiliste.
The Ass and the Lion's Skin
A MEMBER of the State Militia stood at a street corner, scowling
stormily, and the people passing that way went a long way around
him, thinking of the horrors of war. But presently, in order to
terrify them still more, he strode toward them, when, his sword
entangling his legs, he fell upon the field of glory, and the
people passed over him singing their sweetest songs.
The Ass and the Grasshoppers
A STATESMAN heard some Labourers singing at their work, and wishing
to be happy too, asked them what made them so.
"Honesty," replied the Labourers.
So the Statesman resolved that he too would be honest, and the
result was that he died of want.
The Wolf and the Lion
AN Indian who had been driven out of a fertile valley by a White
Settler, said:
"Now that you have robbed me of my land, there is nothing for me to
do but issue invitations to a war-dance."
"I don't so much mind your dancing," said the White Settler,
putting a fresh cartridge into his rifle, "but if you attempt to
make me dance you will become a good Indian lamented by all who
didn't know you. How did YOU get this land, anyhow?"
The Indian's claim was compromised for a plug hat and a tin horn.
The Hare and the Tortoise
OF two Writers one was brilliant but indolent; the other though
dull, industrious. They set out for the goal of fame with equal
opportunities. Before they died the brilliant one was detected in
seventy languages as the author of but two or three books of
fiction and poetry, while the other was honoured in the Bureau of
Statistics of his native land as the compiler of sixteen volumes of
tabulated information relating to the domestic hog.
The Milkmaid and Her Bucket
A SENATOR fell to musing as follows: "With the money which I shall
get for my vote in favour of the bill to subsidise cat-ranches, I
can buy a kit of burglar's tools and open a bank. The profit of
that enterprise will enable me to obtain a long, low, black
schooner, raise a death's-head flag and engage in commerce on the
high seas. From my gains in that business I can pay for the
Presidency, which at $50,000 a year will give me in four years - "
but it took him so long to make the calculation that the bill to
subsidise cat-ranches passed without his vote, and he was compelled
to return to his constituents an honest man, tormented with a clean
King Log and King Stork
THE People being dissatisfied with a Democratic Legislature, which
stole no more than they had, elected a Republican one, which not
only stole all they had but exacted a promissory note for the
balance due, secured by a mortgage upon their hope of death.
The Wolf Who Would Be a Lion
A FOOLISH Fellow who had been told that he was a great man believed
it, and got himself appointed a Commissioner to the Interasylum
Exposition of Preserved Idiots. At the first meeting of the Board
he was mistaken for one of the exhibits, and the janitor was
ordered to remove him to his appropriate glass case.
"Alas!" he exclaimed as he was carried out, "why was I not content
to remain where the cut of my forehead is so common as to be known
as the Pacific Slope?"
The Monkey and the Nuts
A CERTAIN City desiring to purchase a site for a public Deformatory
procured an appropriation from the Government of the country.
Deeming this insufficient for purchase of the site and payment of
reasonable commissions to themselves, the men in charge of the
matter asked for a larger sum, which was readily given. Believing
that the fountain could not be dipped dry, they applied for still
more and more yet. Wearied at last by their importunities, the
Government said it would be damned if it gave anything. So it gave
nothing and was damned all the harder.
The Boys and the Frogs
SOME editors of newspapers were engaged in diffusing general
intelligence and elevating the moral sentiment of the public. They
had been doing this for some time, when an Eminent Statesman stuck
his head out of the pool of politics, and, speaking for the members
of his profession, said:
"My friends, I beg you will desist. I know you make a great deal
of money by this kind of thing, but consider the damage you inflict
upon the business of others!"

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