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- In the Sweet Dry and Dry - 4/17 -


preparations to report the big parade?"

"Why, yes," said Bleak. "Three photographers and three of our most brilliant reporters have been assigned to cover the event. One of the stories, dealing with pathetic incidents of the procession, has already been written--cases of women swooning in the vast throng, and so on. The Balloon is always first," he added, by force of habit.

"I want you to discard all your plans for describing the parade," said Quimbleton. "I am about to give you the greatest scoop in the history of journalism. The procession will break up in confusion. All that will be necessary to say can be said in half a dozen lines, which I will give you now. I suggest that you print them on your front page in the largest possible type."

From his pocket he took a sheet of paper, neatly folded, and handed it across the table.

"What on earth do you mean?" asked Bleak. "How can you know what will happen?"

"The Corporation has spoken," said his host. "Let us go indoors, where you can read what I have written."

In a small handsomely appointed library Bleak opened the paper. It was a sheet of official stationery and read as follows:--

THE CORPORATION FOR THE PERPETUATION OF HAPPINESS

Cable Address: Hapcorp

Virgil Quimbleton, Associate Director

1316 Caraway Street

Owing to the intoxication of Bishop Chuff, the projected parade of the Pan-Antis broke up in confusion. Federal Home for Inebriates at Cana, N.J., reopened after two years' vacation.

"Is this straight stuff?" asked Bleak tremulously.

"My right hand upon it," cried Quimbleton, tearing off his beard in his earnestness.

"Then good-night!" said Bleak. "I must get back to the office."

CHAPTER III

INCIDENT OF THE GOOSEBERRY BOMBS

The day of the great parade dawned dazzling and clear, with every promise of heat. From the first blue of morning, while the streets were still cool and marble front steps moist from housemaids' sluicings, crowds of Bishop Chuff's marchers came pouring into the city. At the prearranged mobilization points, where bands were stationed to keep the throngs amused until the immense procession could be ranged in line, the press was terrific. Every trolley, every suburban train, every jitney, was crammed with the pan- antis, clad in white, carrying the buttons, ribbons and banners that had been prepared for this great occasion. DOWN WITH GOOSEBERRIES, THE NEW MENACE! was the terrifying legend printed on these emblems.

The Boulevard had been roped off by the police by eight o'clock, and the pavements were swarming with citizens, many of whom had camped there all night in order to witness this tremendous spectacle. As the sun surged pitilessly higher, the temperature became painful. The asphalt streets grew soft under the twingeing feet of the Pan-Antis, and waves of heat radiation shimmered along the vista of the magnificent highway. To keep themselves cheerful the legions of Chuff sang their new Gooseberry Anthem, written by Miss Theodolinda Chuff (the Bishop's daughter) to the air of "Marching Through Georgia." The rousing strains rose in unison from thousands of earnest throats. The majesty of the song cannot be comprehended unless the reader will permit himself to hum to the familiar tune:--

Root up every gooseberry where Satan winks his eye-- We will make the sinful earth a credit by and by: Europe may be stubborn, but we'll legislate her dry, And then we'll tackle the planets.

Chorus:

Hurrah! Hurrah! We're anti-everything-- Hurrah! Hurrah! An end to joy we sing: Come let's make life doleful and then death will lose its sting, Happiness is only a habit!

Come then, all ye citizens, and join our stern Verein: We're the ones that put the crimp in whiskey, beer and wine; Booze is gone and soon we'll make tobacco fall in line, And then we'll tackle the planets.

Chorus:

Hurrah! Hurrah! We're anti-everything-- Hurrah! Hurrah! An end to joy we sing: Come let's make life doleful and then death will lose its sting, Happiness is only a habit!

We'll abolish every fruit attempting to ferment-- We will alter Nature's laws and teach her to repent: Let the fatal gooseberry proceed where cocktails went, And then we'll tackle the planets.

Chorus as before.

From the beginning of the day, however, it became apparent that there was a concerted movement under way to heckle the Pan-Antis. As the Gooseberry Anthem came to an end a number of men were observed on the skyline of a tall building, wig-wagging with flags. All eyes were turned aloft, and much speculation ensued among the waiting thousands as to the meaning of the signals. Then a cry of anger burst from one of the section leaders, who was acquainted with the Morse code. The flags were spelling WHAT A DAY FOR A DRINK! All down the Boulevard the white and gold banners tossed in anger. To those above, the mass of agitated chuffs looked like a field of daisies in a wind.

Shortly afterward the familiar buzz of airplane motors was heard, and three silver-gray machines came coasting above the channel of the Boulevard. They flew low, and it was easy to read the initials C.P.H. painted on the nether surface of their wings. Over the front ranks of the parade (which was beginning to fall in line) they executed a series of fantastic twirls. Then, as though at a concerted signal, they dropped a cloud of paper slips which came eddying down through the sunlight. The chuffs scrambled for them, wondering. A sullen murmur rose when the messages were read. They ran thus:--

TO MAKE GOOSEBERRY WINE

(Paste This in Your Hat),

Ten quarts of gooseberries, thoroughly crushed; Over these, five quarts of water are flushed. Twice round the clock let the fluid remain, Then through a sieve the blithe mixture you strain, Adding some sugar (not less than ten pound) And stirring it carefully, round and around.

To the pulp of the fruit that remains in the sieve A gallon of pure filtered water you give: This you let stand for a dozen of hours, Then add to the other to strengthen its powers. Shut up the whole for the space of a day And it will ferment in a riotous way.

When you see by the froth that the fluid grows thicker You, should skim it (with glee) for it's turning to liquor! While it ferments, please continue to skim: At the end, you may murmur the Bartender's Hymn. This makes a booze that is potent enough-- Seal in a hogshead--and hide it from Chuff!

Corporation for the Perpetuation of Happiness.

The Pan-Antis were still muttering furiously over this daring act of defiance when a shrill bugle-call pealed down the avenue. Bishop Chuff rode out into the middle of the street on his famous coal-black charger, John Barleycorn. There was a long hush. Then, with a wave of his hand, he gave the signal. One hundred bands burst into the somber and clanging strains of "The Face on the Bar-Room Floor." The great parade had begun.

From a house-top farther up the street Dunraven Bleak watched them come. He had taken Quimbleton's word seriously, and with his usual enterprise had rented a roof overlooking the Boulevard, on which several members of the Balloon staff were prepared to deal with any startling events that might occur. A battery of telephones had been installed on the house-top; Bleak himself sat with apparatus clamped to his head like an operator at central. Two reporters were busy with paper and pencil; the cartoonist sat on the cornice, with legs swinging above two hundred feet of space, sketching the prodigious scene. The young lady editor of the Woman's Page was there, with opera glasses, noting down the "among


In the Sweet Dry and Dry - 4/17

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