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- In the Sweet Dry and Dry - 6/17 -
And Chuff is sickled, He will not keep: He was never pickled.
For Bishop Chuff This is ill cheer: That Time will force him To the bier.
And when he stands On his last legs Then Death will drain him To the dregs.
So when Chuff croaks Bury him on a high hill-- For he's a hoax Et praeterea nihil!
But Bishop Chuff was not the man to take these insults tamely. His first act was to call together the legislature of the State in special session, and the following act was rushed through:
Severing relations with Nature, and amending the principles and processes of the same in so far as they contravene the Constitution of the United States and the tenets of the Pan-Antis:
WHEREAS, in accordance with the Declaration of Gindependence, it may become necessary for a people to dissolve the alcoholic bands which have connected them with one another and to assume among the powers of the earth the sobriety to which the laws of pessimism entitle them, a decent disrespect to the opinions of drinkers requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to drouth.
WHEREAS we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created sober, and are endowed with certain inalienable rights, such as Life, Grievances, and the Pursuit of Other People's Happiness. Whenever any form of amusement becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the Pan-Antis to abolish it. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that beverages long established should not be abolished for light and transient causes. But when it is evident that Nature herself is in conspiracy against the Constitution of the United States, and that millions of so-called human beings have found in forbidden tipples a cause for mirth and merriment, it is time to call a halt to malt, and have no parley with barley.
WHEREAS it has frequently and regrettably been evidenced that Nature is a sot at heart, by reason of her deplorably lax morals. Painful as it is to make the admission, there are many of her apparently innocent fruits and plants that are susceptible, by the unlawful processes of fermentation and effervescence, of transformation into alcoholic liquid. Science tells us that this abominable form of activity to which Nature is privy is in reality a form of decomposition or putrefaction; but willful men will hardly be restrained by science in their illicit pursuit of frivolity.
WHEREAS Nature (hereinafter referred to as The Enemy) has been guilty of repeated ruptures of the Constitution of the United States, having permitted the juice of apples to ferment into cider, having encouraged seditious effervescence on the part of gooseberries, currants, raisins, grapes and similar conspirators; having fomented outrageous yeastiness in hops, malt, rye, barley and other grains and fodders,
THEREFORE be it enacted, and it hereby is, that all relations with the Enemy are hereby and henceforward suspended; and any citizen of the United States having commerce with Nature, or giving her aid and comfort or encouragement in her atrocious alcoholshevik designs on human dignity, be, and hereby is, guilty of treason and lese-sobriety.
BE IT ALSO enacted, and it hereby is, that the principle of fermentation is forbidden in the territory of the United States; and all plants, herbs, legumes, vegetables, fruits and foliage showing themselves capable of producing effervescent juices or liquids in which bubbles and gases rise to the top be, and hereby are, confiscated, eradicated and removed from the surface of the soil. And all the laws of Nature inconsistent with the principle of this Act be and hereby are repealed and rendered null and inconclusive.
IT IS HOPED that this suspension of relations with Nature will operate as a sharp rebuke, and bring her to reason. It is not the sense of this Act to withhold from the Enemy all hope of a future reconciliation, should she cast off the habits that have made her a menace. We have no quarrel with Nature as a whole. But there is a certain misguided clique, the dandelions and gooseberries and other irresponsible plants, which must be humiliated. We do not presume to suggest to Nature any alteration or modification of her necessary institutions. But who can claim that the principle of fermentation, which she has arrogated to herself, is necessary to her health and happiness? This Intolerable Thing, of which Nature has shown us the ugly mug, this menace of combined intrigue and force, must be crushed, with proud punctilio.
AND FOR THE strict enforcement of this Act, the Pan-Antis are authorized and empowered to organize expeditionary forces, by recruitment or (if necessary) by conscription and draft, to proceed into the territory of the enemy, lay waste and ravage all dandelions, gooseberries and other unlawful plants. Until this is accomplished Nature shall be and hereby is declared a barred zone, in which civilians and non-combatants pass at their own peril; and all citizens not serving with the expeditionary forces shall remain within city and village limits until the territory of Nature is made safe for sobriety.
This document, having been signed by the Governor, became law, and thousands of people who were about to leave town for their vacation were held up at the railway stations. Nature was declared under martial law. There were many who held that the Act, while admirable in principle, did not go far enough in practice. For instance, it was argued, the detestable principle of fermentation was due in great part to the influence of the sun upon vegetable matter; and it was suggested that this heavenly body should be abolished. Others, pointing out that this was a matter that would take some time, advanced the theory that large tracts of open country should be shielded from the sun's rays by vast tents or awnings. Bishop Chuff, with his customary perspicacity, made it plain that one of the chief causes of temptation was hot weather, which causes immoderate thirst. In order to lessen the amount of thirst in the population he suggested that it might be feasible to shift the axis of the earth, so that the climate of the United States would become perceptibly cooler and the torrid zone would be transferred to the area of the North Pole. This would have the supreme advantage of melting all the northern ice-cap and providing the temperate belts with a new supply of fresh water. It would be quite easy (the Bishop insisted) to tilt the earth on its axis if everything heavy on the surface of the United States were moved up to Hudson's Bay. Accordingly he began to make arrangements to have the complete files of the Congressional Record moved to the far north in endless freight trains.
Dunraven Bleak, a good deal exhausted by his efforts to keep all these matters carefully reported in the columns of the Evening Balloon, was ready to take his vacation. As a newspaper man he was able to get a passport to go into the country, on the pretext of observing the movements of the troops of the Pan-Antis, who were vigorously attacking the dandelion fields and gooseberry vineyards. He had already sent his wife and children down to the seashore, in the last refugee train which had left the city before Nature was declared outlaw.
It was a hot morning, and having wound up his work at the office he was sitting in a small lunchroom having a shrimp salad sandwich and a glass of milk. The street outside was thronged with great motor ambulances rumbling in from the suburbs, carrying the wilted remains of berries and fruits which had been dug up by the furious legions of Chuff. These were hastily transported to the municipal cannery where they were made into jams and preserves with all possible speed, before fermentation could set in. Bleak saw them pass with saddened eyes.
A beautiful gray motor car drew up at the curb, and honked vigorously. The proprietor of the lunchroom, thinking that possibly the chauffeur wanted some sandwiches, left the cash register and crossed the pavement eagerly. Every eye in the restaurant was turned upon the glittering limousine, whose panels of dove-throat gray shone with a steely lustre. In a moment the proprietor returned with a large basket and a small folded paper, looking puzzled. He glanced about the room, and approached Bleak.
"I guess you're the guy," he said, and handed the editor a note on which was scrawled in pencil
TO THE MAN WITH A PENETRATING GAZE WHO HAS JUST SPILLED SOME SHRIMP SALAD ON HIS PALM BEACH TROUSERS
Bleak, after removing the shrimp, opened the paper. Inside he read
PLEASE BRING TWO DOZEN RYE-TONGUE SANDWICHES AND AS MUCH SHRIMP SALAD AS THE BASKET WILL HOLD. AM FAMISHED.
He looked at the restaurateur in surprise.
"The lady said you were to get the grub and put it in this basket," said the latter.
"The lady?" inquired Bleak.
"The dame in the car," said Isidor, owner of the Busy Wasp Lunchroom.
Bleak obeyed orders. He filled the basket with tongue sandwiches and a huge platter of shrimp salad, paid the check, and carried the burden to the door of the motor.
At the wheel sat a damsel of extraordinary beauty. The massive proportions of the enormous car only accentuated the perfection of her streamline figure. Her chassis was admirable; she was upholstered in a sports suit of fawn-colored whipcord; and her sherry-brown eyes were unmodified by any dimming devices. Before Bleak could say anything she cried eagerly, "Get in, Mr. Bleak! I've been looking for you everywhere. What a happy moment this
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