Roy Glashan's Library
Non sibi sed omnibus
Administered by Matthias Kaether and Roy Glashan
Go to Home Page
This work is out of copyright in countries with a copyright
period of 70 years or less, after the year of the author's death.
If it is under copyright in your country of residence,
do not download or redistribute this file.
Original content added by RGL (e.g., introductions, notes,
RGL covers) is proprietary and protected by copyright.


WILLIAM MILL BUTLER
WRITING AS
MRS. J. WOOD

PANTALETTA

Cover Image

RGL e-Book Cover 2019©

A ROMANCE OF SHEHELAND


For woman is not undeveloped man,
But diverse: could we make her as the man
Sweet love were slain.
—Tennyson


"A satire, in the form of fiction,
directed against the woman's rights movement."
The Publishers' Weekly, 19 August 1882.


Ex Libris

First published by
The American News Company, New York,
Wright American Fiction Series, Vol. 3, #6064, 1882

This e-book edition: Roy Glashan's Library, 2019
Version Date: 2019-06-27
Produced by Keith Emmett and Roy Glashan

All original content added by RGL is protected by copyright.

Click here for more books by this author


Cover Image

"Pantaletta," The American News Company, New York, 1882


SYNOPSIS

1882 (Wood. Mrs. J.). Pantaletta: a Romance of Sheheland. New York: American News.

In this dystopian, misogynistic gender-role reversal satire, General Icarus Byron Gullible searches for the North Pole and accidentally discovers Sheheland and the Republic of Petticotia—a society which, due to the granting of equal rights to women, is now composed of effete, enslaved males ("Heshes"), and dominant females ("Shehes") who smoke, drink, and secretly hunger for the attentions of an old-fashioned, "manly" man. Gullible is first arrested as a spy, but, thanks to his machismo and the longings of the man-hungry females, he eventually reinstates the "natural" order of things.

— Darby Lewes, "Gynotopia: A Checklist Of Nineteenth-Century Utopias By American Women," Legacy, University of Nebraska Press, Fall 1989.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

The following article was taken from The Historical Record Of Wyoming Valley, Vol. 1 (1886-1887), 1897, p. 85


WILLIAM MILL BUTLER.
SKETCH OF A FORMER WILKES-BARRE JOURNALIST
WHO IS WINNING HIS WAY TO FAME.

The Rochester correspondent of the Buffalo Express, gives the following sketch of William Mill Butler, a former well-known journalist of this city:

Few men are better known in this city and few journalists in this State than William Mill Butler, who has had a career allotted to him the like of which probably no one in his profession has ever experienced. Very little of his life has ever been made public, although the Journalist has had one or two articles about him. At a very early age Mr. Butler became fully acquainted with the hard lot in life awaiting him. He was but little over eight years old when he was sent to work in a coal-breaker.

At six he had already been taught by his mother to read German and English. At twelve he went to work in the mines. For two years he lived an under-ground life, gaining an experience which I understand will be found portrayed in a novel which he has nearly completed. At fourteen, in January, 1872, he met the fate of so many of the workers in the mines, being run over and crushed by a loaded car. After some weeks he recovered and returned to work in the mines but in a few days broke down.

A relative took him to Canada, where he was sent to school. He was clerk, book-keeper and cashier for a time, and began verse-writing. His contributions brought him to the notice of Mr. B.H. Pratt, then city editor of the Scranton Daily Times. The result was that he entered the employ of that paper. He conducted the Wilkes-Barre department of the Scranton Times for over six months. He became city editor of the Wilkes-Barre Daily Record, but overworked himself and again broke down. In March, 1877, he became local editor of the Galt, Ont., Reformer, acting as correspondent for the Hamilton, (Ont.) Daily Spectator, and contributing humorous articles and verses to Grip, the Canadian Puck. Returning to Pennsylvania in June, 1878, he was placed in charge of the Berwick Independent.

In 1879 he began the satire Pantaletta, the authorship of which has never before been divulged. In that year he became a member of the staff of the Evening Express in this city. He has since held various positions on the Rochester press.

He wrote a hoax concerning an alleged case in court, in which the details were given of the trial and conviction of a young lady for wearing a high hat at the theatre and obstructing the view of a spectator. So circumstantial was the sketch that it deceived hundreds of people who flocked to the court-house next day to hear Miss Viola Weatherwax sentenced. It caused a sensation throughout the country. Even as experienced a journalist as James Foster Coates, of New York, telegraphed for particulars. And away out in Kansas City two lawyers got into a dispute over the facts in the case, winding up with a wager, which was duly decided by a member of the Rochester bar, who was applied to in writing.

For some months he has given his time mainly to literary work. He is compiling a dramatic dictionary, publishes the Pythian Knight, and is writing a play and a novel.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
Chapter IX
Chapter X
Chapter XI
Chapter XII
Chapter XIII
Chapter XIV
Chapter XXI
Chapter XV
Chapter XVI
Chapter XVII
Chapter XVIII
Chapter XIX
Chapter XX


CHAPTER I.

General Gullible begins his Narrative in an Autobiographical Vein—After some Commonplace Vicissitudes with the Pen, he takes up the Sword for a Season and proves Himself a Thirster after Corpor eal, as well as Intellectual, Gore.


BORN of parents who were distinguished for their honesty as well as their wealth, there fell to the lot of Icarus Byron Gullible—myself—many advantages which a very large proportion of mankind dispenses with, resignedly or otherwise, from day to day and from generation to generation.

I was blessed with an ideal home, a kind-hearted father, a fond mother, a beautiful sister. All the comforts and innocent enjoyments which spring up at the utterance of that magic word, money, as well as such pleasures as are derived from a sunny, unselfish disposition and a keen appreciation of the humorous, gradually came within my range. Above all, a robust health which made existence doubly desirable was mine from the moment I set life's machinery in motion with my first cry.

But, alas, notwithstanding all these manifest favors of heaven—heir to a brilliant business future, had I so desired it—I was gifted with instincts which, as I grew older, were regarded with grave apprehension by my parents and with proper horror by my sister and her aristocratic intimates. Upon the subject of a career I had but two ideas in my head (many have less during a lifetime, be it said to my comfort): one was to become an aerial navigator and mount from earth to heaven; the other, to become a newspaper king and pass judgment upon the world from day to day. So absorbed was I in these images of my brain that insensibly they became wishes, warring with each other for supremacy.

After graduating at college, I frankly acquainted my parents with my perplexity in deciding upon a vocation.

"Ah, Fernando, dear, there is that unhappy family trait of yours coming to the surface more strongly than ever," said my mother, with tears in her eyes, when closeted with her lord. "As a dutiful wife I shall not reproach you, but the breaking of my heart began when you named our boy Icarus. Nay, forgive me if I do not express myself with more regard for your feelings, dear husband, but when I learned the meaning of that name—the unfortunate fable connected with it—I was deeply pained, and I have been still more deeply pained each time I have discovered in our son's disposition an inclination to carry out all that Icarus implies. Oh, I can see him, flying toward the sun—his wings falling off as the wax which at first held them on melts away—the terrible sea beneath ready to receive him! Will you not rather relieve him of the means of flight before he soars away and is lost to us forever?"

My father promised that the wings of the ambitious gosling should be plucked out, even by the roots.

"As for the other visitation—the editorial visitation," continued my mother, "I can accept it—you can accept it—as an alternative. You know, my dear, a literary career, if successful, is not absolutely disgraceful."

My sire stifled a sigh for the tastes of his ancestors which knew no palliation.

"There was my paternal grandmother: you remember the rare literary talent she possessed," my mother went on. "Her 'Ode to a Necrophore, or Sexton-Beetle,' is ranked among the finest of its kind in English poetry, and has won for her a deserved niche in the Encyclopedia; while the exquisite humor of her 'Maid who Wept Because She Could Not Weep,' has frequently been commented upon. Dear grandmother, if she had only been a man and thus escaped the odium of being a 'blue-stocking.'"

"And you the happiness of being born," added my father, with a rueful attempt at pleasantry.

"My love, you are an insufferable humorist," said my mother, with a melancholy smile. "The dear old soul was not only a poet," she continued, "but a novelist as well. I sometimes fear that the range of her intellect was altogether too wide. For a luridly genial sensationalism, which soothed while it frightened, her stories were unexcelled. How much comfortable and comparatively inexpensive horror her fifty-three volumes provided for those romantic souls whose pulses throbbed in unison with hers, I am not prepared even to estimate. Fifty-three works! and she might have produced I know not how many more, had not death paralyzed her pen, at a ripe old age. Why may Byron" (she disdained to call me Icarus), "not win distinction, therefore, in a somewhat similar direction, if follow his journalistic inclinations he must—spreading before thousands a daily banquet of excitement—fattening his readers upon horrors, so to speak? As a matter of course I should feel far happier were he to choose his father's honored calling. Banking is not only refined and aristocratic, but comfortable. We will therefore make another effort with the dear child—just one, Fernando, before we give our final consent."

"My boy, think twice before you decide," said my father, at the breakfast-table, mechanically figuring sums of interest upon the gilt-edged cup from which he sipped his fragrant Mocha. "If, after all our present arguments, it is still your solemn conviction that you cannot, will not become a financier, we will establish you as a journalist. But reflect, my son, that your future will be what you make it. I have found great satisfaction in digging for the so-called Root of Evil—I will not say that you cannot be equally happy in the pursuit of another cherished ambition. You are free, therefore, to choose between finance and the press."

The pleading eyes of my mother and my sister appealed to me in vain. With a firmness that astonished even myself, and a sigh for my twin passion which I now saw dissolving like a vapor in mid- air, relinquished forever, I chose journalism.

Thus I was made proprietor of a new journal in our western metropolis and took rank as an editor. In other words, I became a daily bather in the waters of tribulation, and a devout reader of the third chapter of Job.

I soon discovered that the founding of a great newspaper is an achievement of which a Titan might well feel proud, and that I, far from being a journalistic Titan, was but a raw college visionary who placed too much faith in theories and abstract wisdom. The day dawned all too soon upon which the Sheriff paid me an official visit.

With the daily went down the last remnant of our family fortune, a run upon the bank, a few days previous, having paved the way for final disaster. My heart-broken, once so proud- spirited, parents did not long survive the blow. My dashing sister narrowly escaped a similar fate by marrying a Count whom she had dazzled at the foreign legation in Paris (foreign legations, it may be remarked in parenthesis, are chiefly noted for furnishing titled paupers with the sport known as American heiress-hunting). The wedding ceremony had scarcely been concluded when my father's ruin was cabled to the commercial centers of Europe and caused poetic justice to overtake my exalted brother-in-law, whom I have never seen to this day.

I wandered to the national capital and called upon the illustrious representative whose election to office had been one of my last newspaper tasks. I found him in comfortable, not to say luxurious, circumstances, to my inexpressible relief; for, having been instrumental in thrusting him into office, as it were, I felt in a measure responsible for his welfare.

Strange to relate, however, he had acquired what was known as a conveniently absent memory—a valuable article in the outfit of statesmen, I was subsequently informed. When I acquainted him with the change in my fortunes, he deplored the threatened shortness of the wheat crop. When I confessed that I coveted a clerkship, he almost wept because the peach-blossoms had suffered uncommonly from spring frosts, and added something about vineyards and the phylloxera. These slothful unaverted disasters he generously promised to hurl into the teeth of his political opponents during the coming debate, as proof incontrovertible that the country was fast progressing canineward.

I fled.

Through the kindness of an eccentric but influential New York journalist, who, notwithstanding his rough exterior, had not caught the prevailing fashion of turning the cold shoulder upon his fellow-men, I was rescued from my dilemma. He secured for me a position in which, after two years of dogged toil, I was rewarded with another smile from the sphinx-like face of Fortune. I stood under a floral marriage-bell, and held by the hand an accomplished and handsome bride—one who was not only of good family, but had an ample fortune. My friends congratulated me and marvelled at my luck.

I will pass with a few bounds over the next twenty years of my existence. Five years of marital felicity brought us to the firing of the initial gun upon Sumter. As a loyal citizen, a descendant of New England patriots, it behooved me to fashion my pen into that sword which for four years I kept unsheathed upon the battlefields of my bleeding country. Retiring from the service at the close of the war with the rank of general, and a number of scars of which it would be indelicate to make more than passing mention, I once more embarked in a newspaper enterprise by establishing the Millionsport Monitor, weekly, at two dollars per annum, strictly in advance.


CHAPTER II.

General Gullible Discloses certain Facts concerning his Father's Illustrious Lineage, and thereby Fully Accounts for his own Lamentable Aeronautic Tastes—The Mystery in the Garret of the Monitor Office—What Ten Years of Silent Labor Brought Forth.


UPON my father's side I am a lineal descendant of the celebrated French family of Montgolfier, whose bright particular star—one Jacques Étienne—had the honor of first inventing air-balloons and of founding the noble science of aerostatics. This practical apostle of progress lived a life of gaseous usefulness until 1799. Our branch of the family was not in France at that time, but this fact did not prevent its members from indulging the trait on account of which the name has claimed the attention of posterity. It is recorded that upon the very day that Étienne, assisted by his brother, sent up his first hot-air experiment, a fifth cousin of his, on our side, gallantly broke his neck by falling from a new kind of parachute with which he attempted to descend from a church steeple. By mentioning these matters of family history I shall unlock to the world the secret of my much-lamented flying mania.

It is a sufficiently obvious fact that the illustrious name of Montgolfier has not descended to me in all its native purity, but rather in a form which its original owner might hardly recognize. But this is explicable. The name made its way to England shortly after the War of the Roses, in the person of one Antoine Henri Montgolfier, who came, saw, and was conquered by a British beauty. We must not lose sight of the name, however. The inhabitants of our mother island—displaying the same gentleness with which they once met the minions of Caesar in the surf—soon lopped off its beautiful head and changed it to Golfier. The next transformation, many years afterwards, was to Gollifer, and finally it became Gulliver. In the last-named form it emigrated to America, and here capped the climax by resolving itself into the still more idiomatic, Gullible. Learned philologists who make the derivation of names and other words a study, will recognize the beauty and naturalness of this deduction.

I will also explain here, what I might have done before, that my scheme of establishing the Monitor (named in honor of our famous ironclad) was but a cloak which concealed a deeper design. The trait whose history I have briefly outlined had not remained dormant all these years. How often, alas, when walking under the clear blue sky, had my eyes turned wistfully to the empyrean! My thoughts dwelt there, alike at home among the surging crowds, in the stillness of the park, or on the torrid march in southern climes where I had more than once looked up through the bullet- storm and hoped for death, in order that my spirit might roam where my body, as yet, could not. But these were only vagaries, and when they had passed away, I was glad that I was spared. I had my plans, and was slowly maturing them. The Monitor was a compromise between my two inherited instincts. This model country weekly was projected upon the most approved plan, a huge pair of shears being installed as by far the most diligent member of my staff. Thus I was enabled to devote the greater portion of my time to the solution of a fascinating problem upon which my heart was set, and which I fondly hoped would shed additional luster upon the aeronautic family of which I was a humble descendent.

When but a little child I often pored wisely over a well- thumbed copy of Old Mother Goose, which had a peculiarly attractive illustration upon the title page. It is familiar to all—a quaint old woman, perched upon the back of a white gander, riding through the air. It was in those hours of sunshine that a first inkling of my great scheme must have come to me. Then again, during boyhood, the marvellous flights of Münchausen, between the wings of an eagle, and the aerial journeys of other daring voyagers who were generally picked up at random by the bills of flying prodigies, caused me no end of speculation. The serious objections to these modes of travel did not fail to impress themselves upon me, in time. In the first place, the traveler was compelled to remain outside, exposed to all the fury of the elements. Secondly, the day of starting upon a journey, the destination, and the time of arrival, were too vague and uncertain. Thirdly, these animated conveyances were subject to hunger, thirst and fatigue during their flight, and might at any time command the passenger to hew off one of his limbs, for food, on pain of being dashed to death. But, notwithstanding these dangers, I frequently yearned for the opportunity to try even so rugged an experiment, secreting myself for days in a lonely dell in the vain hope that a monster might snatch me up in its talons and bear me into the clouds.

Nothing remained, therefore, but to invent a bird against which no objections could be urged—a winged messenger which could laugh at those now pitiful contrivances called balloons, which are the sport of every breath from heaven, and the playthings of clouds. Meteorology, chemistry and mechanics, as applied to aerostation, had been my favorite studies at college as well as during the leisure hours of my subsequent life. After the birth of the Monitor I secured the cooperation of eminent men of science, brother inventors and practical engineers, who were soon as completely absorbed as I in my magnificent project. Patiently we experimented, toiled and hoped, meeting only at night, for prudential reasons; and for ten years an impenetrable mystery enshrouded the upper story of the building from which the Monitor shed its benign influence fifty-one times a year. Not a soul save those entrusted with the secret and bound by a Freemason-like silence, ever crossed the threshold of our workshop. After surmounting many disheartening failures, success, as it always does, at last crowned our efforts, and the American Eagle was the result.

It is no uncommon thing for inventors, whose inventions are protected by letters patent, to give elaborate descriptions of their successes, but as a patent has not yet been applied for, in my case, I am constrained to be more guarded. A few general remarks upon the appearance of my Bird of Freedom—I had chosen the eagle form for scientific as well as patriotic reasons—may not prove injudicious, however; and the nature of its motive power I may also disclose with safety, for the pirate who could produce an imitation is yet unborn.

I shall sound no unfamiliar name when I mention the Killye Motor, that dazzling invention which burst upon the world in all its audacity but a few years ago, and filled the speculative mind with dreams more visionary than those which trouble my friend Colonel Sellers. It is perhaps even now loudly boasted in America that the little giant is about to revolutionize all known methods of artificial locomotion. This it may do, but not at present—not before I give my permission. The truth is, I have induced the benevolent president of the Motor company to part with the essence of his invention—the demonstration. By our contract, which antedates all other obligations on his part, he reserved the right to continue his practice of selling stock and making promises.

The Killye Motor (improved), then, propels the machinery of the American Eagle. The length of this curious bird is as many feet as there are States in the Union. The wings, when outspread, exceed its length by about four-tenths. The body is extremely well proportioned, and its interior is perfectly air- tight. A door in the right side admits the voyager to a brace of apartments, both neatly furnished. The first chamber, fronting upon the breast, is semicircular in form. Among the articles it contains is a perfect fountain of life—an apparatus which supplies fresh oxygen and destroys the carbonic acid gas thrown off by the lungs, enabling me to navigate the higher regions of the atmosphere with comfort, nay, making even a journey into airless space possible. Next in importance ranks the unique warming machine, designed to counteract the frost of the coldest known regions. The heat is produced by a secret process and can be regulated at pleasure and distributed equally in the apartments. Besides these things the room contains all manner of scientific instruments and chemicals. The windows, for the purpose of obtaining light and making observations, are ample, and consist of heavy plate glass. The second, or rear chamber, contains all the necessaries of life, fuel, oil and other articles indispensable for a long journey. The uninhabited portions of the Eagle, consisting of at least two-thirds of the space covered by its skin, is filled with a new, powerful and hitherto unapplied gas, which would suffice, unaided by the motor-driven wings, to counteract terrestrial gravitation. The outer surface, or skin, of the bird is of a texture which was specifically chosen because it would not allow the rarest gas to escape, and moreover could defy the gathering moisture from the clouds, thus enabling me to dispense with the alternate discharges of ballast and gas which usually bankrupt the flight of balloons.

Taken all in all, the craft, when finished, was indeed a prodigy of human ingenuity—if there is any egotism in the remark, I apologize for it. Well might one of my colleagues say, "A more perfect bird never cleaved the ocean of space."


CHAPTER III.

General Gullible's Memorable Midnight Departure—The American Eagle flaps its Wings in the Arctic Regions—Lost, and Drifting Whither?


DEATHLESS, with all its agonies of hope and fear, its solemn sorrow and wild exultation, will the last night of my sojourn on earth remain. It was midnight on the first day of summer proper, in the year eighteen hundred and seventy-five. I arose from my sleepless couch, as the hour drew nigh, impressed a last kiss upon the brow of my slumbering wife, kissed also my unconscious children, and then glided like a phantom from our happy home.

In the apartment where the Eagle reposed in all its pristine glory, my colleagues waited for me in feverish expectancy, while the well-fed kerosene torches threw a lurid light upon the scene.

Five minutes to twelve o'clock and all was in readiness for the start. As I stepped among them one youthful enthusiast threw himself at my feet and begged for leave to accompany me. This was contrary to our compact, however, and firmly, yet gently, I was forced to repulse him.

After giving my final instructions, and reminding all of our solemn agreement, I took personal leave of each trusted and honored co-worker and entered my apartment in the Eagle. The air-tight door was closed, the cables were cut, and the buoyant craft ascended through the opened roof. Once out in the clear, still summer air, I touched the secret spring connected with the motor and its invisible machinery, whereupon the great wings expanded and with several enormous flaps lifted the gallant air-ship upward and onward into space. The secret of steering lay in the rudder-like tail, which, by means of a lever, was pulled in whatever direction I desired to go.

The wonderful success with which my initial flight was accomplished—the grandeur of my new situation—raised my feelings almost to the pitch of madness. The first frenzy of joy over, I made an effort to calm myself. I turned my thoughts to the world that was fast receding from me in the inky darkness (for there was no moon). I prayed that my loved ones should be comforted in their hours of weary watching for him who might never return.

The American Eagle was making rapid progress. I gazed upon the bright dial of the speed indicator as one in a dream. Hours had passed, perhaps, when a small voice startled me by exclaiming:

"Man, man, oh, trivial heir to great presumption, embowelled in destruction, does not the whirlwind of its pinions already roar thy death song? Return! Return! for why wilt thou ride in the same chariot with death?"

"I am a searcher for a region which centers in the Arctic circle—I seek the North Pole, where the mystery of centuries awaits solution!" That was my reply, as I glared about me in search of the hidden scoffer. "In company with death, indeed! Come forth, base craven, and I will convince you that I am as safe as an infant in his cradle!" But nothing came of my challenge. I was alone.

By the narration of the foregoing incident the full importance of my undertaking is made clear. I would not only fly, but turn my flight to practical account and stop the further sacrifice of heroic lives by polar expeditions. My voyage was to be kept a secret for ten years, unless I succeeded in my undertaking before the expiration of that time. In the event of a message from me that I had discovered land at the Pole, my comrades were at once to patent my invention and organize a company, with a capital of ten million dollars, for the manufacture of a line of Eagle air-ships. These were to carry all kinds of passengers to the new American possessions, at remunerative rates. Then should be unlocked to the gaze of my countrymen the paradise in which bald-headed Eternity had lain napping so long while, amid green fields and murmuring brooks, wild birds fed undisturbedly upon wonderful cereals which are found in the crops of those that stray southward and are shot by veracious sailors.

When morning came and mother earth shook off her coverlet of fog, I guided the Eagle downward, in order to obtain my first bird's-eye view of our common parent. How my heart throbbed when through my glass I beheld her verdant countenance, and knew that the dream of my life was realized at last!

The Bird of Freedom was skimming over the northern portion of the Canadian peninsula, between the great lakes, and had kept its course with marvellous accuracy.

Rising again, in order to escape observation, I turned my attention to the illimitable plains of blue. On, on we went, earth again fading away in the clouds.

During my waking hours, when not occupied in writing, or attending to the various pieces of apparatus, or in observing the heavens, I devoted myself to literature. Among the treasured volumes I had brought with me I found many numbers of the Congressional Record, and with these I beguiled the tediousness of many an hour when tired of duller reading. The witty speeches of our statesmen were my especial delight. Who could withstand the humor of those passages marked "[laughter]" and "[loud and continued laughter]"? Who could fail to see the necessity of "[applause]" and "[tremendous applause]"?

Next morning I passed the extreme eastern portion of Hudson Bay. In the evening a violent storm came upon me from the west. I might have escaped the encounter by a lengthy upward flight, but in my eagerness to test the endurance of the Eagle I did not take the precaution. I turned and faced the furious gust. The result was terrible. The Eagle quivered from beak to tail. The machinery worked bravely, but it was impossible to maintain even a stationary position. I decreased the motor's working pressure and allowed myself to be carried rapidly eastward.

When the storm had abated, next day, I beheld what I judged to be Iceland, lying at my feet. The Eagle had been blown, without sustaining any injuries, transversely over the Atlantic and the southern portion of Greenland. After some maneuvering I sighted Reykjavik and fixed my helm due north. No doubt the early risers of the capital viewed me—or rather the Eagle—through their telescopes, for I descended quite low. The Daily Framfari may subsequently have given a description of the strange phenomenon which faded from view as suddenly as it appeared.

During the next two days I occasionally refreshed myself with draughts from the Congressional Record, and had I not forgotten to bring with me my Agricultural reports my happiness might have been complete. Two nights in succession I slept soundly, when lo! a revolution, such as man had never before experienced, stared me in the face.

The extreme cold necessitated the constant use of my heating apparatus. Every time I descended leagues of glistening ice, furrowed by mountains and glaciers, stretched before my astonished eyes. Here and there a polar bear who had wandered from the open sea sat upon his haunches and stared stupidly at the intruder above.

It was upon the morning of the fifth day, when I could with difficulty keep the frost from forming fantastic figures upon the windows, that I beheld the sight which communicated stiffness to my hair and caused me to turn, like a doomed mariner, from human aid to that on high.

I had in my time beheld Niagara at midnight. From its parapets I had viewed the blurred disc of the moon through vapors which spoke the anguish of falling waters. I had looked down into the black depths beneath the falls, where sullen roar battled with sullen roar, while moaned the waves which daily gnash their white teeth against the rocks. I had gazed into that monster basin until its majestic gloom caused me to imagine that evil spirits of bygone centuries revelled in its air. I had stood upon the brink of Etna's crater, in a storm whose birth was farthest removed from noon, and heard the hoarse thunder bellow in the fearful caverns until the rugged edges cracked and crumbled and the chasm seemed filled with blaspheming demons of the nether world. All this—but never before had I beheld a sight which could compare with the present one.

Below me, apparently boundless in diameter, rolled the gulf of gulfs. Its mysterious depths were not entirely black, but glistened part white, all horrible. With companions to share my amazement, I should perhaps have felt like Satan and his crew upon discovering the Miltonic hell.

My hand trembled when I attempted to steer the Eagle back to safety—my head swam—my senses seemed to forsake me—I knew not what I did—my air-ship was diving head-foremost into the howling wilderness of space below!

Was it jugglery? Had I, after all, turned about and not descended? And was I even now retracing my course through the Arctic regions? Or was I lost?

I recalled, with no particular pleasure, the warning voice which I had so defiantly silenced at the outset of my journey.

I tried in vain to catch a glimpse of the heavenly bodies—I missed even the Aurora Borealis.

My eyes did not close in sleep; all night, according to my watch, and all next day, I drifted I knew not whither—like a new Mahomet—onward to the great No-land, or perhaps to eternity.


CHAPTER IV.

General Gullible discovers what he supposes are the Western Shores of the Atlantic—He lands in a new Eden—The American Eagle and its Owner attacked, overpowered and crushed to Earth.


AFTER two more days of random flight stretches of open sea again became visible in the enormous fields of ice, and indications of land appeared here and there. In one of the straits half-a-score of slowly-sportive whales were enjoying their huge existence. The temperature, too, had gradually risen and, taking all these thing into consideration, I became convinced that I was going southward.

Upon the morning of the eighth day since my departure from home I found myself above a vast body of water, bearing to my hungry eyes a close resemblance to our boisterous Atlantic.

Assuming that it must be that ocean, I veered to the right in order to reach the eastern coast of America, from whence, my bearings once more established, I intended to make another effort to reach the Pole.

Another half-a-day and, like a second Columbus, I discovered land in the west. But I was sorely puzzled by its shape; as far as my instruments allowed my vision to range, I could not find a cape or bay described in my geography.

Upon approaching the shore I began a descent, but a second survey of the situation soon arrested my progress. The Eagle had been sighted and caused a great commotion among the inhabitants. Even soldiers in uniforms wrung their hands and indulged in unmanly gestures. Some fifty of the bravest had gathered and were preparing to send what I judged to be huge signal rockets against my beloved craft. Undesirous of courting so warm a reception, I winged my flight upward and inland at the utmost speed, leaving the coast and its excited population to breathe freely again.

I had covered less than two hundred miles when I ventured another descent from my region of solitude. I was becoming more and more anxious to determine what strange country, if not my own, I had strayed into, and how I might best regain the course leading to my destination.

Judge of my surprise when I alighted upon a stretch of country where I could discover no human habitation for miles in every direction—a spot which rivalled the garden of our first parents in beauty and fascinated me to such an extent that I did not scruple to try the dangerous experiment of landing. I longed to feel the velvety carpet under my feet and know that it was all reality.

I accomplished my purpose by inclining the Eagle's course toward the ground and running the machinery at full speed, thus overcoming the buoyancy of the bird by a pressure even more enormous than that brought to bear upon a political candidate to induce him to accept a nomination. I might have avoided this by opening the gas-valve, but it was not my intention to waste the precious floating power before accomplishing my mission.

Opening the door in the Eagle's side, I bounded upon the ground and for a few moments reeled like one intoxicated, so unaccustomed to the solid earth had I become. I left the Eagle to flap in a comical agony and started upon a short ramble, wondering to myself whether, after the manner of the princes in the fairy tales, I should meet with an adventure.

Far and near the country lay basking—not in the afternoon sun, for I could find no blinding orb in the heavens—but in a mellow, subdued light that was like the bloom upon a ripened peach: a dreamy and poetic illumination, comfortable and refreshing in its beauty.

I was delighted with the flowers, the vines and the rich- tinted fruits which grew here in wild profusion. I listened to the siren-throated birds which warbled in the trees; I sniffed the odors of nature's sweet distillings with which the air was laden.

A silvery lake was laughing to me out of a delightful green arbor. I proceeded towards it, intent upon refreshing myself by a plunge into its limpid waters before eating of the products of the enchanted forest—for such the place resembled much. Before me, at some distance, bounded a herd of frightened deer, while rabbits and squirrels leaped nimbly out of my way—the latter climbing the nut-trees and chattering a voluble welcome.

I had dived to the white-sanded bottom of the lake and swum half-way to the opposite shore, when a harsh noise broke upon my ears. Turning about and looking through the opening among the foliage, I beheld a dozen large hawk like birds, pouncing upon the American Eagle and rending the air with their shrieks of triumph.

Taking it for granted that I was the only human being in the neighborhood, I ran to the rescue in all my newly-acquired innocence and attempted, by means of stones and other missiles, to drive away the savages of the air.

The noise was at its height when afar off, to my discomfiture, a troop of mounted soldiers or hunters burst into view. Happily they failed to perceive me, and, scampering off as fast as my extremities would bear me, I hurriedly dressed and returned to the seat of war, just as the curious squad drew rein.

I have used the word curious advisedly, for the men were all beardless, short of stature, and to my heightened imagination bore a marvellous resemblance to the Assyrian eunuchs upon some ancient bas-reliefs which had been presented to me by an eastern traveler and which made excellent imposing-stones in the Monitor office.

They tied their horses to the trees and approached in a cautious manner, carbines in hand. While their eyes were riveted upon the Eagle, and a number hastily made the sign of the cross, the leader delivered a martial oration in an unmartial voice. From it I gathered that monsters of some sort had worked great devastation in the land; that a large reward was offered by the government for their capture, dead or alive; and that my air- ship was regarded as a gigantic specimen. When the order to fire upon the Eagle was about to be given I sprang in front of the weapons and cried out:

"Gentlemen, in the name of the United States of American I command you to desist and await my explanation. This is not a monster; neither is it a bird, as might be inferred from its shape and actions, but a flying-machine. Were you to offer it violence and cause the gas it contains to find sudden outlet, an explosion, with serious consequences, would follow."

Their pale faces blanched a trifle more as the warriors fell back a pace or two. All stared in a strange, incongruous fashion at myself and the American Eagle.

"I am an American citizen," I continued, "an aerial navigator who has been plunged into chaos by an indiscriminating fate. I have trespassed upon your shores for the purpose of regaining my lost course, and for that purpose only. If you will assist me to that end I shall thank you sincerely and resume an interrupted Arctic journey which is of great moment to the civilized world."

Although we spoke the same language, much that I said was evidently unintelligible to them and provoked unseemly laughter.

"Poor shehe," said the leader, "her mind is diseased. Take her away and guard her well while we dispatch the monster which is even now preparing to attack us!"

"What," said I, exasperated beyond control, "do you call yourselves men and guardians of the peace, and come here to rob a stranger in distress! Fie upon you! Despite your firearms, your hearts are more cowardly than those of weak, defenseless women. Were there not so many knaves of you, or were I but armed, I would teach you what becomes a man!"

"What, a heshe?" cried all in the same breath.

"What, what, a heshe in disguise!" stormed the leader. They formed a semi-circle about me, with carbines levelled at my heart.

I continued my protest against the outrage and threatened to appeal my case to the nearest United States consul, when one of the soldiers approached and thrust a small vial under my nose, silencing me effectually. I sank upon the ground; my limbs and muscles became paralyzed, while a sickening dread filled my heart. Strange to say, however, I was not unconscious and retained my powers of sight and hearing.

For a few minutes they debated whether to riddle the Eagle with bullets or secure it by means of lassos. Their council of war was not concluded when a sharp report reverberated on the air and a hissing sound issued from the back of the air-monarch, sending a dagger into my soul.

The seemingly imperishable material had given way, and the bulky form of the Eagle fell to the earth, inert and lifeless as its owner. Fortunately the motor-valve had been closed by the shock, thus suspending the action of the wings.

My captors fled as if an earthquake was upon them, executing capers which would have put bedlam out of countenance. So grotesque was their confusion that, despite my loss, I felt like laughing boisterously. But even this comfort was denied me.


CHAPTER V

Return of the Terrible Beardless Men—Captain Pantaletta's Bloody Deed—General Gullible is carried into ignominious Captivity—He trembles before the President of the Republic of Petticotia.


WHEN my enemies returned they were accompanied by a second body of troops, also numbering about fifty men. The reenforcements were commanded by a most singular being who reminded me of an escaped jack-in-the-box. He was tall, angular, ugly-faced and wore his garments as the rhinoceros does his hide, loosely and without taste. In spite of all this, however, there was something in his bearing which said, plainer than words, "You may regard me as eccentric, but I am not a fool." The moment he espied me he clasped his hands and advanced with eager, impassioned strides:

"Give me still another pair of eyes that I may feast my fill! It seems—yes, it is—a perfect specimen! Minions, advance," to his command, the members of which were laughing and chatting as they regarded the Eagle from a distance. "I claim him for myself," he continued, pointing his bony finger at me—"let no vulgar hand presume to touch what I now and henceforth call mine own."

The leader of the company which had the honor of subduing me here drew himself up haughtily and spoke as follows:

"Captain Pantaletta, will you oblige me by remembering that this is my prisoner?"

"Now by the Shah of Sheheland, you have well spoken!" snorted the individual addressed. "Remember?—Your prisoner? I will oblige you by remembering it, and more too. I will remember that I am your uncrowned monarch—yours and all your kind, for it was I that had the lion's share of work in procuring your emancipation. Remember?—that I have never received emolument or gratitude that was not tinged with wormwood! Remember?—that they all fear me and refuse me office, because, forsooth, I am over-ambitious and revolutionary. Remember?—that I am a miserable captain in the guards, when I should be president! Remember, finally, that when I claim something in which you can have no possible interest, you—also a petty officer of the guards—even you thwart my wishes!" Then turning to the soldiers, "Minions, withdraw! Ride a mile into the forest and then return, for I have something to say to Captain Pouter which has been upon my mind for many days, and I would not whisper it before you. Withdraw, I say, and let the others bear you company."

"Pantaletta, you would not kill me," said Captain Pouter, who had grown ashen pale while the troops departed; "I know you are stronger and more deft at swords than I."

"You will abandon all claims to the prisoner, then," demanded Captain Pantaletta.

"I will see him executed first—better that than to fall into your clutches," replied Captain Pouter.

"Ah, you love him," sneered Pantaletta, "and would ask him as a reward from the President. But I swear you shall not have him! I will expose your treason first—aye, grow paler still, for I have the proofs of your crime, and that means—off goes your head!"

"You dare not expose me. Your own safety depends upon it," replied Captain Pouter, feigning carelessness. "You know that my mouth has too long remained sealed for your benefit."

"Give me the prisoner, then, and let us remain friends."

"Never!"

"You confess, then, that you love him."

"And were it so," replied Captain Pouter, once more self- possessed, "it would not concern you—you frontispiece of—what shall I say?—oh, yes, the Book of Beauties!"

"Now may the devil (if devil there be) receive your soul (if you have a soul!)" With these words of rage, Pantaletta rushed forward and grasped Captain Pouter by the hair. The latter's sword fell from its sheath. I plainly saw Pantaletta seize the weapon and, planting its point against the other's breast, draw that unfortunate person down upon it with inhuman fury. The deed was quickly done and fatal in effect. The first screams of the victim brought to hand a Sergeant, who, anticipating mischief, had lingered near.

Aware of the agitated underling's approach, Pantaletta turned to the prostrate body and exclaimed:

"Great heavens, she is killed! We quarrelled; she drew her sword upon me, stumbled and fell. See, mine is in its sheath, while hers is full of blood! Sergeant, call the troops, summon the surgeon—you saw her fall, did you not, Sergeant?"

"Yes," came the significant answer, "I saw her fall!"

When the Sergeant had disappeared behind the distant shrubbery, Captain Pantaletta's whole bearing underwent a change. Walking back and forth she alternately wrung her hands, stopped, meditated, and made exclamation, as follows:

"Murder?—who accuses me of murder? She was my dearest friend and you know I would not harm her. Were we not playmates together in my mother's cottage by the little rippling brook—I hear the music of its waters, even now... 'Pantaletta, Pantaletta, would to heaven you were a boy,' said my mother, combing out my knotted curls; 'you have a boy's nature and it is hard to make you girlish and womanlike.' ... Back, back, dreams of my youth! Let me brush them away as I do these beads of sweat from my brow, for I have murdered her—No, no, no! she would have slain me, and it was an accident. Coward! Coward that I am! Not Pantaletta, but that detested thing, a coward. I, who slept in haunted places at night and dared my companions to do likewise—I afraid! But it is my first deed of blood, and it makes me shudder. May heaven (if there be a heaven) pardon it... They come—they will see my agitation and read my guilt... There—now I am ready for the coolest debate in the land. I will prove that this question is two thousand years old—much older than I and you. Your mirth proves that shehes are not without a sense of humor... It is time for us to begin knocking at the doors of the Legislature... Yes, let us have a Lower House where our representatives can watch all bills affecting the shehe's welfare... I tell you she does not listen with delight, as she once did, to the poetical figure of the trellis and the creeping tendril. She will have no more of the oak and the gracefully clinging vine... False, false every word of it—we do not contend that she shall become noisy or dictatorial and abjure the quiet graces of life..... Hiss, ye serpents, ye have nothing else to offer! ... There is one redeeming feature in a mob—it pays all expenses and leaves a surplus in the treasury."

These singular and incoherent ravings were interrupted by the reappearance of the soldiery. To these Captain Pantaletta promptly issued all the necessary orders.

A coach-and-four for me, and a large wagon drawn by eight horses, for the American Eagle, were in readiness. After I was lifted into my quarters two guards were detailed to attend me within. Then we whirled away from the strange scene.

My mind was a wilderness of conjecture as I reclined, still rigid and helpless, upon the cushions. Where was I? What manner of people were these? Such and scores of other questions I asked and left unanswered. If my language to them contained unintelligible features, how hopelessly at sea was I in my attempt at comprehending theirs. They called me shehe at first; then a heshe in disguise. The rival captains were women, it was clearly evident, but did all the officers share their sex? And were the rank and file, too, inferior men? Pshaw! women as soldiers! Or was the fable of the Amazons not all fable? I scrutinized my guards closely, and listened to their conversation.

"The heshe has, then, really maligned and blasphemed the shehes?" asked one.

"Yes, most horribly. All the members of company D will be called as witnesses, of course.

"And about his sex—had it not been for his own words, that large beard—not put on, but his own—would have left no doubt about it."

"No; there is room for doubt. I fear it will go hard with him. What a pity he should infringe upon the horrid dress- laws—so handsome, too."

"Hush, hush! you forget regulations—Captain Pantaletta would put us in irons for this," interrupted the other.

Then their conversation turned upon social topics, in which "young Townsend," who was "going it wild," figured extensively. This interesting, but evidently rather frolicsome, individual was further designated as "a masher," who was as fond of heshes as of wine and cards, and it was stated upon good authority that "the old governor" would pay no more gambling-debts, and had even threatened to stop the scapegrace's monthly allowance unless a budding reformation set in.

It must have been past nine in the evening by the clock when the carriage rolled through the great street of a magnificent city. I was left to judge of the hour rather by my vigorous appetite than by any other signs, for the country still lay bathed in serenest daylight, just as I had found it upon landing.

At last our jehu drew rein, and then I was carefully lifted out and conveyed through a gaping and police-defying crowd to a large marble building of palatial appearance. Once within its parian portals, with every avenue of escape cut off, an attendant applied a pungent odor to my nostrils, which in a few moments restored me to my normal condition.

After being cautioned to refrain from speaking, I was conducted into the innermost apartments, between two rows of attendants, who stared at me with ill-concealed curiosity.

In a sumptuous audience chamber, under a lofty canopy, stood the Shah of Sheheland, or, in other words, the President of Petticotia. He was attired in gorgeous apparel, and attended by numerous persons of rank. Judging from his air and superb surroundings, he might have been the emperor of a new kind of Indies. He seemed quite youthful, and was, like all those whom I had thus far beheld, entirely beardless. In striking contrast to the closely cropped heads about him, however, his rich, golden hair fell several inches over his shoulders—perhaps the badge of his high office—his?—or was he, too, not what his dress proclaimed him? His height was below that of the average American. His raiment consisted of a startling vermilion mantle, a snowy white vest, and bright blue pantaloons, all fashioned out of costly silk, satin, lace and other rich materials. His countenance did not lack intelligence, and possessed a singular, although very un-Mars-like, charm, while his form and gait, too, were not lost upon me.

Assuming a haughty mien, he ordered me to approach. "Prisoner," he began, "you are charged with certain capital offenses against the people of this our mighty republic of Petticotia. Your case should have been at once referred to the tribunal established to try crimes of this nature, were it not that there have been reported to us certain strange actions and sayings on your part, all of which it is our humor to have you explain, if possible, before you are formally committed for trial. We have received from our most zealous Captain Pantaletta the following formal charges against you: 'Firstly, the prisoner is a Heshe, unlawfully clothed in Shehe apparel; secondly, he has not only usurped the Shehe character, but upheld the obsolete distinctions of man and woman; thirdly, being a Heshe, he wears a beard in defiance of the law; fourthly, he has addressed the Shehes of company D as 'gentlemen;' fifty, he has blasphemed all the Shehes of Petticotia by alluding contemptuously to the sex; sixthly and lastly, he has loaded his speeches with so many clumsy terms, that there rests upon him the suspicion of being a sorcerer from the demon-world, or a spy from some war-bent nation." These are capital offenses, punishable with death. What is your reply, prisoner?"

There was doubt no longer as to the true state of affairs. I was truly in the land of Amazons. Here noble woman, resolved to live apart from sordid man, had built herself a republic, enacted wise laws, and devoted herself to deeds of heroism and virtue. And yet when I looked about me, how utterly insignificant, how far from noble, seemed the majority of these apers of men. And when I recollected the encounter of the two captains, my base treatment, and the maudlin charges preferred against me, every manly fiber in my body quivered with disgust and indignation.

"Your excellency," I began, "I demand an immediate release and free passage to some country in which an American citizen may enforce your respectful consideration of his rights. Fearing that I might forget that I am a gentleman, were I to defend myself in the presence of those who so evidently have forgotten that they are ladies, I prefer to say nothing further."

"What?" she exclaimed, impatiently, "you treat with scorn our courtesy which has granted you this opportunity to be heard before you are summarily judged!"

I bowed in mock solemnity.

"But I command you to speak—to tell me your history—you told it to the common herd. Come, come, account for your presence in Sheheland."

I calmly folded my arms and bit my lip.

"Are you mad?" she continued, goaded by my conduct. "Do you know that this is the hand which must sign your death- warrant?"

I showed no surprise.

Thoroughly enraged, with eyes flashing like those of a tigress at bay, she exclaimed to the officers near at hand: "Take him and administer one hundred lashes—no, fifty—twenty- five—wait, slaves! Take him to his dungeon; before the downy-iris twice appears the law shall have taken its course!"

I was taken through several galleries and passages and finally thrust into my temporary prison, which to my surprise proved to be a well-furnished little apartment fronting upon the presidential gardens.


CHAPTER VI

General Gullible enjoys a faithful Newspaper Account of his Capture—His second Meeting with Pantaletta—The "Downy-Iris"—He is miraculously enabled to visit his Air-monarch.


A SOLITARY sentinel was stationed at my door with instructions to keep more than one eye upon me. She was a curious minion of the law—small and slender, yet full of dignity in the presence of her sister guards. There was a notable change in her manner, however, when my numerous escort had taken their departure. From behind the bars I could see my watcher leaning against the wall and listening to the receding footfalls in the corridor. And when the last faint echo had died away she heaved a sigh so full of anguish that it arrested even my bitter reflections. I could not rid myself of the belief that she was weeping until she stood before my door with eyes that showed no trace of tears. A womanly, somewhat nervous, look rested upon her face. Once or twice she shuddered involuntarily and looked about in dread, but finally she regarded me steadfastly while a quiet smile, which I could not then interpret, stole over her pale features.

I continued my inspection of a battle of Amazons which was woven into the gaudy carpet. A few minutes later I was aroused from my reverie by a shy tap upon my door.

It was the guard. Could she do anything for the heshe who had been so unfortunate as to break the dress-laws? Would I have some gum?—or dip some snuff?—or eat confectionery?—or drink refreshing tea?—or was I hungry?

I thanked her and declined everything, for my late indignation had carried me past hunger and thirst, certainly past such delicacies as snuff and chewing-gum.

A short silence, a pacing to and fro, and then the tapping was repeated. Would I be pleased to examine the evening newspapers during the hour which still intervened between day and downy- iris?

I started—the papers? Certainly, I would see them and be very grateful.

Several sheets were brought and selecting the Shehe Evening Glory, which was dated at Sumar Viteneliz, the city of my captivity, I was about to reseat myself when a hand was softly laid upon my arm. Would I confer a slight favor?

Smiling at my inadvertent disregard of an ancient and honored custom, I plunged into my pocket for a monetary tribute.

No; it was not that, she did not want money—she wanted to hold my hands for a few minutes.

One who is not a thorough republican might have resented this seeming familiarity, but, remembering that I was in duty bound to respect the wishes of a lady, and that, moreover, the ceremony might be in accordance with the customs of the country, I complied.

"The papers have lied—you are not a monster," remarked my fair petitioner, rubbing her palms against my own. "Your kind face reminds me strangely of one who was very, very dear to me."

"You have been thinking of him?" I ventured, in a paternal tone.

"Yes," she replied, the sad, far-distant look returning to her eyes. "He was a lieutenant, oh, so handsome, and I adored even the footsteps of the militia when he was on parade. We parted fifteen long years ago. He was a high-spirited youth, and I had imbibed silly views, imagining them to be the heaven-inspired utterances of those who were but puffed-up, egotistical—no, I forget, that would be treasonable. Suffice it to say that in the great social revolution he fought in the ranks of the minority and, calling me his bitterest enemy, departed into exile. I held him lightly then, but all the philosophy in the world, all the stoicism I could command, never recompensed me for my loss. Were I not of the superior sex, I could not have lived and borne this hopeless misery so long." She released my hand and wept.

I extended my sympathy—could I do otherwise? Though fallen from woman's high estate, was there not still about her little self a something which spoke of womanhood and refinement and tender sensibilities. And now prettily she had contradicted her allusion to the superior sex by dissolving in tears.

When I turned my attention to the Evening Glory I found in the leading position an article which struggled under the following array of head-lines:


"A Demon's Destruction—Petticotia's Shehes again distinguish Themselves—An Infernal Monster rises out of the Atlantic—It is first sighted by vigilant Coast-Guards—Company D of the brave Fifty-Seventh Regiment intercepts its flight in Sumar Viteneliz Forest—An almost Superhuman Combat—A Brilliant Victory—A Second Monster taken Captive after still another Breathless Battle—Captain Pouter among the Slain—A Reporter's Strategy—Full Description of a Terrible Experience—Probable Execution To-morrow."


If this was almost enough to singe my eye-brows with surprise, it was tame when compared with what followed. After describing the frightful appearance of the Eagle, and the terror of those timid heshes who saw it emerge from the sea, the narrator told how news of its flight was telegraphed inland, and how part of the gallant Fifty-Seventh Regiment, while enjoying a holiday in Sumar Viteneliz forest, upon hearing the news, resolved to do its duty or perish. I will quote a portion of the account:

"The troops galloped through the forest in hot haste and surprised the aerial monster in the act of devouring some of the very choicest game-birds which this favorite resort affords. The battle which followed was short, but decisive. Our heroes had the satisfaction of seeing the bird-like fiend stretched stark and lifeless upon the ground.

"But the conflict had hardly terminated when, from a grotto which suddenly opened its mouth at our feet, there came forth another being, so demon-like, that for a few moments the bravest staggered. Even the reporter, accustomed to scenes of the most sensational order, felt a grisly horror stealing up her spinal column. True, the Thing had assumed a human shape, but, notwithstanding its shehe garb, wore a look which betrayed an infernal origin.

"Imagine it, gentle reader: nine feet in height, at least, with hair and beard falling in red, snake-like coils, coated with a greenish slime which spoke of wallowings in some marsh or bog. Its eyes were as large as saucers and emitted a fierce light. Its half-concealed ears were of that satanic pattern which, some imagine, exists only on canvas, but which, in this instance, looked for all the world like horns. The tip of its nose seemed dipped in drunkard's red. Its cheeks were hollow, and pale when enraged. Its black, sinewy arms tapered off into claws such as sculptors and painters add to the lower extremities of sirens. Woe to that which came within their grasp! Its tremendous body rested upon a pair of legs which resembled the pillars of a heathen god. When it advanced, earth gave forth a hollow sound.

"To conquer this formidable adversary was the next task of the soldiery. Riddled with balls and slashed by many a brave sabre, it only laughed us to scorn. Several of our most daring combatants were slain, among them brave Captain Flora Pouter, whose extended obituary will be found elsewhere. She fell fighting, like a tiger, to the last.

"By rare good fortune one the young dragoons, whose mother is an alchemist and astrologer, had in a vial a substance distilled in accordance with directions obtained from heaven in a dream. This vial, with a reckless disregard of life, she placed under that beacon of wrath—the enemy's nose. In a few seconds another glorious victory perched upon the banners of the shehes.

"Informed by the hero of the vial, whose name, the reporter learned, is Gussie de Woodville, that the snorting mountain of flesh would not stir for hours, Sergeant Pansy Jones, upon whom the command now devolved, decided to march to the nearest station and confer with her sister officers as to the description of both vanquished terrors.

"The reporter, eager to investigate more closely the mystery of the double apparition, remained behind, entirely alone. She watched the last wounded trooper, winding a handkerchief about a bleeding arm, disappear behind the dimly-distant shrubbery, and then proceeded with her inspection, when—horrors upon horrors!—the Thing of the fiery glances opened its eyes, grinned horribly and arose upon its haunches. A second, a minute, two minutes of terrible suspense, and then the enemy, arising to its feet, broke the silence with a guttural 'follow me!' accompanied by a movement of its claws which told, all too plainly, that to refuse would be unwise.

"They went.

"Earth seemed to open and swallow both.

"Upon re-opening her eyes, the Knight of the Pencil looked from an ante-chamber into a very dark cavern.

"'I am a king,' began the Terrible Shape, in language quite understandable, 'a king—an unfortunate descendant of kings. The tyrannous power of a government mightier than that of my fathers compelled me to seek safety in exile. At last I herded with cannibals, but even among this untutored people royal blood will tell. I was elected chief of a tribe and went to battle. It was my fate to be defeated and taken captive. By the principles of international comity in force among these nations, I should have been eaten, but my life was spared upon condition that I undergo an agony so exquisite that it usually made envious the damned. They stripped me until I was entirely nude—although, strictly speaking, my costume had been somewhat abbreviated ere this—and amused themselves by grafting upon this body of mine, ten thousand fish-scales,' and saying this, it bared to the reporter's gaze a breast covered with large, shining scales like those of the silver-fish.

"'I have come,' continued the Thing, 'to wed the handsomest heshe in Petticotia, and you shall lead me secretly to where he gently sighs.'

"'Shrivel this good right hand first!' thought the reporter to herself.

"'You promise? Ha, ha, ha!—good. I shall spare your life. You shall be rewarded with riches.'

"The reporter craftily feigned assent, and, producing a flask which she usually carries during fatiguing journeys in quest of news, proposed a ratification of the compact.

"The unearthly Thing—a libel upon the name of shehe which it claimed for itself—imbibed greedily and soon fell into a beastly stupor.

"Dragging the enemy back to the spot where it had originally fallen, the new victor took a large stone and broke its limbs, thus effectually disabling the terror, even though it should regain consciousness."

I had proceeded thus far when, feeling a curious sensation, as of some strange presence, I looked up and encountered a leering face, so ugly that it seemed fresh from Hades. It was that of Pantaletta. The remainder of her body was concealed under a black cloak.

"Oh, for still another pair of eyes that I might feast my fill!" she exclaimed, in that same tone of voice which she had used with such startling effect upon a previous occasion.

"You are indeed a perfect specimen," she continued, "and I have come to look lovingly upon you, for you are mine—alive or dead—you cannot escape me. Shall I set you free, like the gallant in the romance? and will you then wed me out of gratitude?—ha, ha, ha! Or do you prefer the empty-headed fool who will weep—ye gods, weep!—when she signs the warrant for your execution, to-morrow? She loves you—she, who will make you sport for the hangwoman's ax, tells you so in this scent-stinking missive which I am to deliver. Oh, she did not send it by me—I bribed her messenger and came with it. What would you give—what endure—to read these honeyed words? But you shall not devour them except in dainty morsels—there—in bits so fine that Tantalus would not change occupations with you. Tell her Pantaletta plucked her love-letter to shreds—tell her, and she will believe you—ha, ha, ha!"

"Out, wretched hag—cease, and quit my sight, vile murderess!" I cried.

She recoiled for a moment and then sprang against the bars, amazed yet furious, while she cried:

"May the foul lie die in your throat! I a murderess, and you my accuser? Now may the devil—if such things there be—thirst for your soul, for you shall die! You shall die!—I have said it, mark you—I!"

She turned as if to go, but stopped and fell into a state of abstraction which to me closely resembled madness. How well I remember her broken soliloquy; slowly or rapidly uttered, as the humor seized her. She paused, then walked up and down, frowning, laughing and talking by fits and starts:

"Do not believe him, oh jury of my peers!" she exclaimed. "Being a heshe, he hates us all... Is he not an old bachelor, the butt of ridicule, the clown of the convention? ... Convention—who breathes the sacred word? ... Do not say you love us while you class us with criminals, madmen and idiots... Do not shehes rule in monarchies? Why not in republics? ... I tell you, daring hands are raised to sweep from its pedestal your false idea of the shehe... Never fear, let them bray—I know how to play with and lash a mob, and thrust what I wish to say into their long ears... Who says we are disappointed wives and sour old maids? For myself I will state that upon leaving school I had made up my mind to be a missionary, but thank heaven—if there be a heaven—courtship dispelled these ideas... My society was sought by the most cultivated heshes, for I seemed to have been saved from the coarseness and strenuous tones of the strong-minded shehe... I tell you that we are shehes of superior mental and physical organizations, and are good writers and speakers... I did not think that the easy chair I occupied at our last convention was to bring me so much glory, for my resolutions have since been read on the floor of Congress—mark you, on the floor of Congress... It is perverse and cruel to raise the cry that we are making war upon domestic life. No, any shehe who stands on the throne of her own house, dispensing there the virtues of love, charity and peace, and sends out into the world good heshes, occupies a higher position than any crowned head... They say that the outpourings of all my love-element has flowed into this movement—so be it. I would not wed, for the mind always in contact with children and servants, whose aspirations and ambitions rise no higher than the roof which shelters it, must necessarily be dwarfed... Yet she will be adored by the heshe—very well, the heathen may kneel before his crocodile, why should the heshe not go into rhapsodies over his cook?... I am the better writer, she is the better critic. She supplies the facts and I the rhetoric, and together we have made arguments which no heshe has answered. As a much-admired friend says of us: 'Both have large brains and great hearts; neither has any selfish ambition for celebrity.' We may well be regarded as the evangels of our sex. And yet, she became president, and why not I?... I tell you again, these calumnies are annoying to me. I have never for a moment affected to be anything but a shehe."

She stopped, like a time-piece which has gradually run down, and fell forward upon her face. Her deep and regular breathing told me she was not dead but asleep.

I, too, became conscious of a new sensation. It was midnight according to American time, and the downy iris—to employ the native term, in the absence of an English one—had arrived. The air was soft and slumberous, while earth and sky were filled with a haze of seven colors which sparkled and blended with a motion that produced ravishing music. It was a harmony of sound, not for the ear but for the eye. Each color was a note upon the key-board of nature and beat like a great pulse, simultaneously in every quarter of the earth. Its mission was to cause instantaneous and death-like sleep to fall upon every living thing in Petticotia.

Strange to say, however, upon me it made no impression, save that of wonder and delight. My organization was proof against its effects and I was not slow to profit by it.

I had read that the American Eagle was guarded in a tent, near the palace, and determined to behold it and learn the extent of its injuries. I found the bars of my window in an unyielding mood, but upon examining the door, to my no slight astonishment, I discovered that the lock was unfastened, intentionally or by accident, I cared not which, as I pushed open the barrier to liberty and hurried past the helpless Pantaletta.

I had little difficulty in finding the disabled bird of freedom. Its watchers were reclining peacefully upon their knapsacks. Some had rather pretty countenances which would have better graced a boudoir, but the majority were sadly deficient in looks and bore unmistakable traces of dissipation.

I noticed, with eager satisfaction, that the mysterious interior of my aerial companion had not been suspected. Upon opening the door I found everything in excellent order.

Had it been possible to repair the enormous injury done to its covering, and to find at once the necessary gas, I could have laughed at my captivity. I might even have succeeded in escaping on foot; but that would have necessitated the abandonment of the air-ship, and this was out of the question.

I meditated for some time upon a course of action. To remain and impress the authorities with the justice of my cause was my only hope.

The inhabitants were evidently very superstitious and any unaccountable event pointing in my favor, thought I, would certainly have some weight.

I remembered a colossal statue of the first Shah of Sheheland which stood upon a short marble column of solid proportions, in the square, upon the right of the palace. Its inscription boasted that so long as Petticotia existed should the statue stand.

This proud work I determined to overthrow before the music of the downy-iris ceased.

It is true that, like some warrior-fiend of old, sword in hand, I might have taken a royal revenge by hewing a blood-red track through the very heart of the city. I might have applied to palace and hut alike the incendiary's torch and thus roasted the unsuspecting sleepers. But, injured as I had been, I could not for a moment entertain atrocities like these.

To overthrow the statue, and play an additional prank or two, would suffice. Fortunately I had brought with me a powerful explosive prepared by one of my co-workers at home. Its chief value lay in the fact that it did not shatter, but acted as a huge but slow propelling force. After bringing all the science in my power to bear upon the matter, laboring until I was perspiration-drenched, I sprang my experiment.

The explosion acted precisely in accordance with my calculations—the statue fell from the pedestal, forward upon its face, burying the upper portion of the body in the soft earth under the grass. It made me think of Pantaletta, lying, face downward, in the corridor.

After removing all traces of my operations, I proceeded to the tent of the American Eagle and carried the guards, one after another, to the spot, disposing them in a semi-circle about the fallen genius of their institutions.

I also lowered a number of flags which had been raised in honor of the regiment whose captive I was, and hoisted in their stead the stars and stripes, of which glorious emblem I had a bountiful supply in the Eagle. With the raising of the first flag of my country I took formal cosession of the territory, arguing that, inasmuch as the inhabitants were fast approaching wholesale lunacy, the time could not be very far distant when they would cease to have a national existence. The scattered remnants would be as kindly and honestly cared for by us as is our noble red man on the remnant of his native land.

I furthermore turned back the hands of several public clocks, making them six hours behind the usual time. Then, thoroughly exhausted by my exertions, I returned to my prison, threw myself upon my couch and fell into a profound slumber.


CHAPTER VII.

General Gullible is summarily Tried, Convicted and Sentenced to Death—while awaiting Execution, he is comforted by a pleasing Allegory concerning the Privileges of certain Condemned Criminals.


WHEN I awoke it was eight o'clock, according to American time. After paying due attention to my toilet, I sat down to breakfast with an appetite resembling that of a good church-man after Lent.

While the new guard was supplying me with viands, I engaged her in conversation and learned, to my secret satisfaction, that the entire city had been much excited, since daybreak, over a supernatural manifestation which many regarded as an omen of terrible import. She described to me how the great statue was found in an attitude of adoration before a strange flag which fluttered proudly in the morning breeze. She also told me of the confusion of the guards upon awakening, of their incarceration by the authorities, as well as other interesting particulars.

The consternation, she said, was widespread, especially among the vulgar people, who believed that evil spirits, with whom I was in league, were demanding my release. Already there was on foot a movement favoring the removal of myself and the Eagle to some adjacent country. The authorities, on the other hand, were highly enraged. Captain Pantaletta had declared at roll-call that before the next downy-iris I should be executed and then all so-called manifestations and treasonable plots would cease.

To all these things I listened gravely, but upon them made no comment.

I was further informed that several representatives of the morning journals—which appear shortly before noon—were still in waiting, ready and eager to interview me in regard to the events with which I was so closely associated. But I declined to see them, honored as I should have been by such attentions at home.

At nine o'clock the sheriff's officers—stout ex-cooks and washerwomen—arrived, accompanied by an escort of soldiers, and conducted me to trial. I was conveyed toward the department of justice, in a large vehicle which made its way with difficulty through the excited and eager multitude that thronged the streets and struggled to obtain a glimpse of the prisoner.

The Dress Reform Court and Court of Social Ethics, before which offenders of my stamp are exclusively tried, is composed entirely of women prominent in the movement which overthrew the old social and political order in Petticotia. The members of the judiciary form the chief aristocracy of the land. Even the jurors rank high in society.

When I was ushered in for trial the large court-room was densely crowded. Upon the bench, in wrinkled and warty dignity, sat the judges, their eyes beaming with a cat-like light for criminals like myself. Their hair was cut short at the neck. Every member of the court wore a suit of solemn black, and a clerical collar and raven tie rested upon each white shirt-front. Their chests were quite flat, and, had it not been for their insignificant physiques, they might have passed for a species of second-rate old men. The jurors were dressed much after the manner of the judges, albeit a trifle less elegantly, and the same may be said of the members of the bar.

The audience was composed mainly of the dominant sex, as the women delighted to call themselves. I noticed that quite a number of persons, including lawyers and jurors, rolled pieces of filthy tobacco about in their cheeks, and had frequent recourse to the ill-looking cuspidors which were distributed about the room. After my formal arraignment, learning that I had no counsel, the court assigned me a legal champion, notwithstanding my expressed desire to be allowed to defend myself, which was declared impossible under the law.

The leader of the prosecution opened the trial with a spasmodic harangue, in the course of which she dwelt with especial emphasis upon the arrogant and unrepentant conduct which I had shown since my arrest and which I dared to continue before the very eyes of the honorable court. She announced that scores of witnesses were present to prove the charges enumerated in the indictment. It is not necessary to reproduce the testimony which followed; neither shall I rescue from obscurity the, to me, rather humorous remarks of my counsel in opening the defense. My testimony, although admissible, had no weight because of its great extravagance. "Guilty" was the only verdict which an intelligent jury could render.

And yet my courage did not utterly forsake me. I listened with composure to the sentence of the court, which concluded as follows:

"It is therefore ordered that you, the prisoner at the bar, attended by spiritual advisers, be taken to the usual place of execution this afternoon at three o'clock, there and then to await the arrival of the warrant signed by her excellency, Lillibel Razmora, President of the Republic of Petticotia, Shah of Sheheland, Defender of the Shehes, Mighty Battle-Maid, etc., and, upon the arrival of such warrant, there to be decapitated until you are dead, as an example and warning to all law- breakers, and may God have mercy upon your soul."

"The prisoner listened to his sentence with an impudent coolness that surpassed anything witnessed in this court since the trial of the arch-conspirators," said a newspaper account of the proceedings.

Before I was again placed in charge of the sheriff's officers, I overcame my repugnance sufficiently to hold a short consultation with my counsel. In accordance with the plan of action I had formed, I requested her to meet me, professionally, in my cell.

Half an hour later I again found myself in that self-same abode, removed from the curious rabble which was already surging to the place of execution, all eagerness to obtain the best places from which to witness the coming trouble.

The hour of noon having sounded, I partook of a hearty dinner, which gastronomical feat greatly impressed my guards and was duly commented upon in the public prints.

There was one fact which appeared to me remarkable, namely, that, with the exception of the newspaper women, who were denied admittance, I had no visitors. My treatment of the press, I must confess, brought its own punishment, for there was not a paper in Sumar Viteneliz but printed its marvelous interview with the prisoner.

During my last hours the clergywomen, who were to attend me upon the scaffold, called for the purpose of offering me spiritual consolation, but, to their profound sorrow, found nothing to console. I was even ungallant enough to request them to retire when my lawyer arrived.

This legal luminary inquired, with much unction, what my pleasure might be; first apologizing, as a physician might to a dead patient, for the poor defense which she had made, in absence of all preparation. I begged her not to mention the trifling incident, and she thereupon congratulated me upon my fortitude which, in one of my sex, she declared, was wonderful.

I gradually unfolded to her my reasons for a private consultation. My great desire, I stated, was to make an address to the people, before the violent death in store seized me. This wish, I well knew, was contrary to the laws in the case provided, and, should the authorities fly at the throat of free speech, I was anxious to have the assurance that the populace would sustain me in my effort. If a sufficient number of spectators could be induced to manifest a desire that I be heard, and persist in it with the animation of organized applauders at the theater, I would be certain of a hearing.

Madame Belvidere hesitated a moment, and then frankly acknowledged that, although the time was short—she might say, very short—no doubt those who would with reasonably proper spirit cry, "Hear the heshe!" "Free speech!" "Go on!" and the like, could be secured in sufficient numbers to carry the multitude—were the expense provided for.

I at once advanced enough gold to compensate a hundred shehes for the wear and tear of their throats and lungs, and, after paying the fee for my defense, promised twice the sum if our plan succeeded.

Assurance beamed from the countenance of the lawyer, when she prepared to take her leave.

"There is another question I desire to ask you," I remarked, arresting her exit. "Can you explain why so few persons have visited me during my imprisonment? Is there no curiosity here regarding those who are under sentence of death?"

"Ah, my dear client," smiled Madame Belvidere, drawing a cigar from her vest-pocket and buttoning her coat in a very deliberate manner, "I am afraid that you are becoming acquainted with the utter wretchedness of the prisoner found guilty in the Dress Reform Court. As such the strong arm of the law allows no ray of common sympathy to reach you. To commiserate you would be to share in your guilt.

"Were you a prisoner of another kind—had you, let us say, poisoned a heshe for stealing away the affections of your favorite lord and master, the case would not be half so gloomy. If found guilty in the Oyer and Terminer, there would still be hope—in fact, the jurors of that court not unfrequently recommend to mercy those whom they reluctantly find guilty. At the worst, after a few months of sumptuous jail-life, a new trial is generally ordered or the death-sentence commuted to life- imprisonment. The beheading of your sex—the weaker sex—is not looked upon with general favor, and, therefore, you might well afford to be cheerful.

"But better still," continued Madame Belvidere, helping herself to a match with which to light her cigar, after ascertaining that I did not object to smoking, "were you one of my sex; a strong, muscular, healthy shehe. Had you, as such, during a frenzy endangered by inebriation, stabbed your so-called better half to the heart, and severed the heads of your little children from their quivering bodies, your punishment would be even less hard to bear. True, in the excitement attendant upon the discovery of your deed, public sentiment would favor your immediate extermination. But the law is merciful in its slowness. Many months must necessarily elapse before you are tried. If you feign insanity in time and are acquitted, the majesty of the law is vindicate. You need not fear the insane asylum; its gloomy cells were not made for such as you. But should a stony-hearted jury find you guilty of murder in the first degree—it is a curious fact that occasionally juries have no regard for the feelings of even a wealthy malefactor—a shudder runs through the community. Heaven and earth are moved to secure your pardon. Clergyshehes will pray, as if for a wager, that your valuable life may be spared. The inferior sex—I beg pardon—the heshes, will flock to your ornamented cell and tender you the sympathy of the city. You think of the dark ages in which that creature known as man—can I, in breathing the hateful word, rely upon your silence?—selfishly appropriated all these privileges and pronounced us, the shehes, incapable of enjoying them, and you are proud because our hour of triumph has arrived. You experience religion and find that death has lost its sting. The press records the precious words which fall from your lips and even delights to describe the costly viands, wines and cigars you consume. If your crime be an especially mysterious one, a celebrated singer may be found who, unmindful of the advertisement which it would bring him, will warble for your benefit and secure you the means for still another trial. Should it happen that the governor of your province, in the unregenerated state of her heart, refuses to pardon one who sent a loving partner and little ones to heaven, her political enemies must open fire and assign petty reasons for her decision. If all this avails not, if a better world is hungering for your cheerful presence, then, forgiving all who have wronged you and expressing a generous hope to meet them hereafter, you go to the beheading-block, half-smothered by bouquets, a martyr in the claws of justice and the admired of all."

"Madame," said I, when she stopped to re-light her neglected roll of tobacco, "you are rather clever in weaving pretty romances, but, of course, you do not expect me to believe them."

The lawyer smiled, assured me solemnly that she had not told me half, fearing to make envious, puffed vigorously at her cigar, and departed, saying: "'As happy as a condemned murderer,' will be among the proverbs of the next generation—take my word for it."


CHAPTER VIII.

General Gullible is solemnly escorted to the Beheading Block—He succeeds in obtaining a Hearing before the Multitude—Wrath of Smilax, the Executioner.


THE procession which escorted me to execution was a solemn spectacle. First came a triumphal car, containing a band of female musicians. It was drawn by four jet black horses, each nodding a sable plume. Next came a carriage containing but one occupant. It was the executioner and her name, I was told, was Smilax. She was dressed in black and red, and beside her upon a cushion, rested the dread implement which told her calling. The third carriage, also drawn by four black horses, was for myself, the high sheriff and the clergy. Directly over my head, upon a canopy, hovered the image of an offended goddess of justice in male attire, her drawn sword emblematic of my fate. The judges of the Dress Reform Court, devoured by a holy zeal to witness the speedy death of so defiant an offender, followed behind me and were in turn followed by the mayor and other city officials. Mounted guards and police, vying with each other in importance, rode on either side of my carriage.

Before reaching our destination, the musicians played a cheerful, not to say, hilarious, waltz. The leader, acting upon the theory that contrasts are most effective, argued that this selection would, by reason of its association with other scenes now forever past for the condemned, awaken more genuine sadness than the best dead march ever blown from wind instruments. Whatever the final effect produced upon myself, I felt greatly relieved when the music drowned the exhortations of the clergywomen, which I had endured in respectful silence.

Arriving upon President's Square, where many a poor wretch had provided bloody sport for the shuddering, yet eager crowd, the dignitaries of the procession were shown to raised seats in the rear of the scaffold, while Smilax, the clergy and myself, were left to figure prominently in the foreground.

The executioner's face was entirely concealed by a tightly- fitting mask. At first her form seemed masculine to me, but a stride or two, an unstudied movement of the hand, brought to my mind another likeness. Her height was that of Pantaletta. Leaning lightly upon the handle of her bloodthirsty ax, she scanned me with a look of burning, almost fiendish, expectancy. I returned her glances with a look of haughty indifference and turned my attention to the sea of faces before me.

Now, for the first time, I had an opportunity to observe with care, a species of Petticotians with whom I was not yet familiar. Although their garb proclaimed them women, their large, awkward forms were unmistakably those of what had once been men. They were the heshes, the inferior and conquered sex of Petticotia, with whom I was legally classed.

They were largely represented in the audience, and their ridiculous, yet gaudy apparel, gave to the scene a not altogether unpicturesque effect. The elder heshes, those of the grave, coarse features, conversed with the animation of veteran gossips. The middle-aged listened to the remarks of their domestic lords or soothed an unruly infant, here and there. The unmarried studied the effects of the latest fashions or cast coquettish glances at their pantaloon-wearing neighbors. Boys under sixteen years of age were quite at ease in dresses, having during their short lives known no other kind of garment. The adults wore hip and breast pads to a man, in obedience to the nefarious dress laws. Their hair was worn in knots or curls all natural deficiencies being supplied by the hair-dressers. Continual shaving, and hair eradicators, kept all beards at bay. Rings adorned the fingers of the new fair sex, and chains, charms, beads and other ornaments, glistened about their throats. Fans and dainty handkerchiefs fluttered in the breeze. Every gentleman—if I may apply so foreign a word—was unhappy unless his dress was made in the height of fashion.

It made my heart ache to witness these results of the gigantic war upon nature in which the judge had gloried during her charge to the jury. I felt hot tears rolling from my eyes upon my cheeks, but controlled my emotion when I noticed the satisfaction with which my weeping was regarded by the divines on my right and left.

The high sheriff, after arranging the preliminaries of the tragic act, came forward and, in solemn words, announced to the people my crimes and the penalty awaiting me upon the arrival of the messenger bearing the death-warrant signed.

I knew that the crisis had arrived. I arose in my bonds and, after bowing as best as I could to those in authority, announced in ringing tones that, inasmuch as it was the privilege of the condemned in all civilized countries to place upon record their parting words, I desired to address myself briefly to the people.

The judges grew apoplectic with rage upon hearing this, and the sheriff ordered several brawny underlings to seize me and apply the gag. Before this command could be obeyed, however, a shehe in the audience arose and, in a chivalrous voice, cried out, "A hearing, a hearing for the heshe!"

This was the signal agreed upon, and a hundred, then a thousand, throats echoed the sentiment.

Madame Belvidere had succeeded even better than I had dared to hope. So general was the popular demonstration in my favor that the majesty of the law stood appalled and powerless, and I was allowed to give utterance to my long pent-up feelings in a manner which I never again expect to equal.

I was not only pleading for the rights of foreigners and for my life, but for science and for the discovery of the Pole. So spontaneous and impassioned was my speech that I could not reproduce it from memory were I inclined to do so. Suffice it to say that, after plainly stating my case, I brought forward numerous arguments, showing the unjustness of my conviction and branding my proposed execution as a murder. After detailing the proofs of my citizenship which were in my possession, I advanced with much vigor the claim that a person while abroad was by no means obliged to adopt customs and habits not acknowledged in his or her native land. This was conceded everywhere save in Petticotia. Who, for instance, I asked, would brand me as a traitor if I refused to throw up my hat and exclaim "God save the Queen!" in England? Or, being a Protestant, who would hurl an anathema at me in Italy for refusing to kiss the Pope's toe? Who, in Turkey, would dare to punish my wife for failing to conceal her face? or condemn her, in Japan, to dye her teeth black? Would the Chinese assassinate me, if I neglected to wear a pig-tail? or should I be obliged, even among the South Sea Islanders, to file my teeth and go naked?

During the latter portion of my address I brought to the foreground the vision of an outraged nation lashing herself into fury upon learning the fate of her slaughtered explorer.

The heavens grew black—distantly rumbled the deep artillery, while glittering hosts in battle array marched to the music of the gathering storm. The army of my country, a vast apparition of destruction, poured into Sheheland. Our navy, the admiration and terror of nations, filled the seas and steered, laden with iron death, toward the doomed shores of Petticotia.

The storm burst. Devastation and grinning Carnage walked in rivers of blood. Shaking their purple-dyed hands, they gloried in their work, while the prayers of the dying and the curses of the wounded mingled in the air.

The clouds disappeared. The sun shone down upon myriads of skeletons which lay bleaching upon the battle plains—shone down upon dyspeptic vultures which winged their lazy flight to the mountains.

Where now was the nation that had delighted to insult an American citizen? Who remained to answer?

I earnestly besought them to weigh well the events of the last downy-iris. The genius of American liberty had spoken and would, if necessary, avenge my death.

The masses resembled a storm-lashed ocean when I ceased. With one accord their voices were for my deliverance. One impetuous shehe proposed that I should at once be conducted to the frontier.

The judges of the Dress Reform Court, with uplifted arms, implored heaven's immediate vengeance upon so ungrateful a people. Smilax glared at me with the fury of a wild beast, ready to spring.

In the midst of the tumult a messenger, mounted upon a fleet charger, burst into view.

A mighty hurrah went up from the multitude. Never before had the warrant arrived upon a milk-white horse.

When the rider delivered the fateful document it was found torn into four fragments and lacking the presidential signature.

For the first time during her official career, the chief magistrate had exercised her pardoning power, and I was saved.

The shehe citizens waved their hats and cheered. The heshes wept, they knew not why.

The judges, blinded with rage, commanded the officers to arrest all those who had expressed sympathy for me and thereby made themselves amenable to law. This had the effect of immediately dispersing the mob.

Contrary to my expectations, however, I was not released. Still in chains and powerless, they once more conveyed me to the palace.


CHAPTER IX.

General Gullible is confined in more commodious Apartments—His curious Commutation of Sentence—He is honored with a Visit by a Lovely Apparition—The President of Petticotia in a New Pole.


STILL treated as a prisoner, I was confined and closely guarded in a quarter of the palace which had been assigned to me by special command of the President. My prison consisted of a suite of rooms to which all that modern luxury and refined taste could devise lent its enriching presence.

Looking from my windows, upon the one hand I had a view of the park with its shady walks, its trees and merry songsters, its fountains and playful fishes, its miniature lakes and dancing pleasure-boats; upon the other I could observe at leisure, the numerous mansions, half hidden by rows of stately trees, or the ever-changing streets with their gorgeous equipages and curious people.

All this delighted me very little when I remembered how unjustly I was detained, and how intense was my desire to repair my air-ship and set sail once more.

Upon the morning following, after I had eaten a liberal breakfast, information arrived that I was soon to appear before the judges of the Dress Reform Court who had arrived and were holding a conference with the President in another part of the palace.

When I was ushered into their august presence, the senior Judge received me with a vinegar smile, and informed me without excess of ceremony, that I was indebted to a tender-hearted and most merciful executive for the fact that justice had been defeated—no, she would not say defeated, but rather compelled to accept less than its due. She added that I was summoned to listen privately to the sentence of the court, as amended by her excellency's interposition:

"Firstly, That, as a heshe, the prisoner cut off and remove continually all that capillary growth covering the lower regions of his face, commonly known as beard and mustache.

"Secondly, That he allow the hair upon his head to grow unchecked by artificial means.

"Thirdly, That he put off all shehe clothing and wear the raiment prescribed for heshes.

"Fourthly, That he undergo an imprisonment, in such place as her excellency may provide and with such restraint as may be deemed wise for the period of ten years."

I looked upon them with an astonishment which rapidly changed to wrath. I refused emphatically to accept the terms so maliciously imposed upon me. As an American citizen, who had committed no wrong, I reiterated all my former demands and warned those who conspired against my liberty, that for every new indignity heaped upon me, justice in full should be demanded.

The judges were ready, even eager, to reciprocate my anger and adopt harsher measures, but the President, whose gaze had been fixed upon me during the entire proceedings, again acted the part of mediator. Undoubtedly, the worthy heshe, General Gullible, was a little hasty in his declaration, she ventured to remark. She suggested that time be given him for reflection and a final decision. Doubtless, ere many days elapsed, he would appreciate the wisdom and leniency of the court and comply with the very moderate requirements of the law.

The judges finally acquiesced in this, and I was remanded to my gilded cage, in which I passed the next three days in uncontrollable anguish, refusing to take food and seeing no one.

I laid many plans for my escape. Were it possible, thought I, to visit the American Eagle each night, I might be enabled to repair it gradually. When downy-iris came, I tried each door, but not one yielded. Escape from the windows was also impossible, my location being in an upper story, nearly one hundred feet from the ground. True, I might have torn a large quantity of bed-clothing, curtains and tapestries into strips and descended upon a rope improvised from the same, but this, alas, would have led to certain detection after the first night's exploit. Then, too, my ability to remain awake during the hours of the downy-iris might have been betrayed, and this knowledge it seemed desirable to keep to myself.

I finally resolved to enlist the active sympathies of one of the male attendants whom the President had detailed to wait upon me.

I engaged him in a friendly, not to say familiar, conversation and gradually assured him of the deep concern I felt in his fate, and that of his brethren. Basely robbed of their manhood and their rightful place in the economy of nature, I could not help but pity them.

This caused him to blush rather unnecessarily and to remark that, begging my pardon, they were not fallen persons, by any means. Although but poorly paid servants, they were as respectable as the finest heshe who commanded in his drawing- room.

Said I to him: "I am sorry that you should have misconstrued the meaning of my remarks. I regard as fallen all those who, although born to represent a sturdy manhood in male attire, are found in women's dress, imitating every conceivable folly of the weaker sex and losing every grace peculiar to their own. As a man I deplore the misfortune which has befallen you, and I cannot but hope for the speedy emancipation of both man and woman from the degradation into which they have fallen.

"Oh, hush—pray, say no more," implored the terror- stricken wretch. "It is wrong for you to make such statements, and I, too, shall be brought before the Dress Reform Court and forever disgraced, if I listen you. Be careful, for your own sake, for you are in the greatest danger while wearing those—those thing!" blushing again and pointing to my nether garments.

"What!" I cried, "the men, too, have turned traitors to their sex? Oh, shame, shame, shame!" I walked the floor like a roused lion and ground the costly carpet under my heel.

The miserable piece of effeminacy entreated me to conquer my unheshelike passion. The heshes were all resigned to the far easier and better state to which their sex had been elevated and why should not I likewise be contented? If I knew what favors lay in store for me, he felt certain, I would act quite differently.

Instead of replying I caught the creature up in my strong arms and threatened to hurl him headlong to the pavement below, unless he consented to aid me in regaining my liberty. If he promised I would enrich him. I had before departing from home liberally supplied myself with gold, and this the natives readily accept, while they regard the paper currency of an unknown country with contempt.

With pale, trembling lips, while great drops of fear stood upon his brow, he said, "Murder me if you will not be merciful, for I cannot, I dare not, aid you. If you escape a tenfold more terrible fate awaits us all, for we are hostages for your safekeeping."

Baffled, I released him as I might a loathsome toad, while the poor object of my contempt, unable to endure my looks, burst into tears and fled.

Following closely upon his exit came a female messenger from the President, who, after bowing as gracefully as her unnatural costume would allow, stated that her excellency kindly inquired after my health and sincerely hoped that I had recovered from my indisposition. She further trusted that I had at last decided to accept the provisions of my sentence and regretted exceedingly that affairs of state, Congress being in session, prevented her from paying her respects in person at this hour.

It was late in the afternoon when I started from a reverie into which I had fallen, after glancing over a profusion of books, magazines and other insipid literature, written by the dominant sex and conforming to the new social order.

My attention was attracted by a tall, wiry-looking man, dignified in spite of his unbecoming dress, who passed by under the shade-trees opposite and turned several times to shake his clinched hand at the palace. All the shehes who passed him lifted their hats respectfully; although he did not deign to notice their salutations, they seemed to take no offence.

My curiosity was aroused by his strange behavior, and yet the deference shown him argued that he was not mad. I waved my handkerchief as a signal, hoping to attract his attention and establish communication between us; but, to my deep regret, he disappeared from view without making an answering sign.

It was evening ere I was again aroused from my abstraction. The luscious fruits, accompanied by a bouquet of sweet-smelling blossoms, which found their way each day to a dainty table near me, still angled in vain for recognition, when an attendant announced a visitor and retired.

Stepping into the parlor, which, with its furniture, pictures and other appointments, would have delighted the heart of a modern belle, I awaited the coming ordeal, my expectations divided between the odious Dress Reform judges and the tall, nervous heshe who might, after all, have noticed my flag of distress.

Great was my amazement, therefore, when I beheld the being whom my guards admitted and who now advanced toward me with a half-triumphant smile upon her lips—for it was a woman—not an exaggerated female in men's attire, but a woman in the glory of her radiant self, dressed in all a woman's splendor. I shall not soon forget the impression made upon me by this oasis of loveliness in a desert of ugliness. She was so wondrously fair that for a few moments I seemed dreaming the dream of some happy lover who has beheld his beau ideal. Her head was adorned with a shower of hair, which, like Juno's in the Iliad:


"Pale on her head in shining ringlets rolled,
Part o'er her shoulders waved like melted gold."


Her large eyes danced merrily in her glowing countenance. Her figure, lithe and graceful, was enveloped in a bewilderingly pretty dress, while jewels glistened upon her delicate white throat, her ears and fingers.

Thus for a moment she stood, and, womanlike, enjoyed my astonishment. Then she broke out into a peal of musical laughter and said:

"Pardon me, but, fearing to shock our esteemed guest in private as I did upon the occasion of our first meeting in public, when he disdained to answer one who had forgotten to be ladylike, I deemed it best to call in a guise which, I am led to hope, will shield the wearer from his displeasure."

It was the President of Petticotia.

"May I hope that you will not consider my coming an intrusion?" she continued. "I deferred my visit as long as I possibly could, but my patience would not tide me over another day."

I begged her to be seated, assuring her that it was by no means an intrusion, and that it was quite unnecessary to apologize to one who, even were he free, would not allow it from a lady. "Ladies," said I, "are always welcome in the society of civilized men."

She bowed and thanked me, evidently flattered despite the unlawful words I employed. Then she inquired after my health and deplored the fact that I was giving myself up to melancholy, when all the world was happy and I might be likewise. She begged of me to be more liberal in my sentiments and to accommodate myself to the customs of her country by yielding a trifling point here and there. "'When you are in Sumar Viteneliz," said she, "'do as the Sumar Vitenelizians do'—that is a good saying. I would have you go into society and be amused as well as lionized. The capital would be at your feet for the bravery which you—one of the weaker sex, as they call it—have so lately displayed. Your fame has gone to the remotest parts of the land and scores of our senators and representatives have expressed a warm desire to meet you. Why will you, therefore, mope in silent grandeur and debar me from the pleasure and honor of introducing you to the bright side of life? You must see Sumar Viteneliz and study its better classes, and then you will learn to love the dear, gay city, even as I do, and forget your queer notions of propriety. You will then agree with me that customs should suit the people, not people the customs."

"The President of Petticotia forgets," I replied, "that if her so-called guest prefers to mope in silent grandeur it is thrust upon him quite against his will."

"True," said she, "but with whom lies the fault? The hateful old heads of the Dress Reform Court are worrying me, day after day, for news of your compliance with the law. They are all confirmed heshehaters. Few of their class have ever been married, and those who were so fortunate have been, with few exceptions, childless or unhappy in their family relations. Thus their milk of human kindness is somewhat soured and they are relentless where heshes and the law are concerned. I do not love them, by any means, but they are necessary, and the laws are necessary, or how could the wheels of government be kept in motion?"

I could not imagine by what gigantic motor the wheels of Petticotia's government were moved at all. I could not see, in the existing state of affairs, how they managed to have any wheels of government, or even a plain government without wheels; for I felt certain that at home we would have anarchy and terrorism, were the union subjected to a similar strain—all this in private, however. Aloud I contented myself with expressing my candid opinion of the Dress Reform tribunal and its worthy judges.

"Pray do not condemn them too roundly—they are but what society has encouraged them to become," said the President, after listening in silence. "And now let us converse upon subjects which will not anger you."

Then she requested me to tell her about the country from which I professed to come. Were its shehes beautiful?—more beautiful than herself, even as she was dressed now? She inquired also if all our heshes were as high-spirited as was I, and asked a great many other questions, all of which I politely and good- humoredly answered.

And thus she continued for several days, visiting me each evening when at leisure, bearing me company at supper, and listening greedily to my recitals when I consented to picture to her the glories of my native land. Each evening she was differently arrayed—once it would be simple white, then a rich shade of blue, or trailing cream-color. And, curiously enough, she declared herself greatly relieved by this change from the uncomfortable garments which the law assigned to her sex. Each day, too, she brought me a token of esteem, as she called it, consisting of the latest publications, flowers, jewelry, or bric-ŕ-brac; and one day there arrived, in some mysterious manner, a set of shining razors with which I almost felt tempted to cut my throat when I remembered the degrading custom at which they hinted.

Razors, I was informed by an officious attendant who brought my luncheon and eyed everything in the apartments with greedy curiosity, were very appropriate love-tokens. A case of half-a- dozen was most fashionable, as there was one for each day in the week, excepting Sunday, and on that day no one who pretended to any piety would be found shaving. Nor was their use any longer confined to the heshes, he continued. The shehes, too, would be required to use them when the amendment to the social ethics laws was adopted, and many were already cultivating their fields of down in the hopes of raising beards at an early day. Were artificial mustaches not so uncomfortable, he ventured to assert, the looks of the shehes would have been vastly improved long ere this.

I stopped the fellow's flow of language and bade him to understand that nothing which was brought to these rooms by her excellency must be spoken of as a present to me. She was at liberty to remove all her property from any part of the palace to another, if she desired to do so. Whereat he clasped his hands in affected horror and marveled how I could mistake her excellency's intentions; and how I could find it in my heart to refuse the beautiful presents, such as all the shehes made to those of whom they were enamored.

One evening the President was playing a romantic air upon the piano which occupied a corner of the parlor, while I sat at the window, building the thousandth plan for the restoration of the Eagle and my escape.

Seized with a sudden whim she came to my side and reproached me for not listening.

"I was listening as well as thinking, your excellency," I replied.

"Thinking of what? Why will you always think?" she asked, half-petulantly. "Still of your flying-bird or some fair shehe in America whom you despair of seeing again—tell me, is there such a shehe there who claims your love? Or are you thinking of complying with the prayer of one who sincerely wishes your happiness—your release from this irksome confinement?"

"I am thinking that if your barbarous government does not right my wrongs ere long, I may go mad and, leaping from this window, end it all," said I, with an energy that caused her eyes to dilate.

"Yes," I continued, "men have been burned to ashes for their principles; they have gladly died for liberty. Were it not that I owe my country a service which cannot be accomplished through blood, I would long since have met death in fighting for my manhood."

"Oh do not," she pleaded, "pray do not speak of death—you, who are so beautiful in your godlike defiance, are made to live and, by your gentler qualities, give happiness to others. Let me entreat you to be reasonable. What signifies it if, for a few years, you relax your American prejudices a little? After that you are free and will forget it all like a dull masquerade upon a rainy afternoon. You will return home and tell your countrymen of the cruel wrongs you suffered, and they, not knowing with what sadness of heart one added her persecutions to your weight of woe, will comfort you and curse me and my people.

"Do I pain you? Shall I cease? Then please, oh, please, let us make a compromise, whereby you will be enabled to walk out and enjoy the glorious air and iris-light. Then the color will come back to your cheeks, you will find life a much less heavy burden.

"What if you thereby make a slight sacrifice? Have not I, too, made sacrifices during the past week—all for you, although I have won no appreciation, not even a notice of the fact, from you. Have I not stolen here in disguise, unlawfully attired, in order to hear you speak to me? for I knew you were in earnest on that fatal day my eyes first fell upon you, when you scornfully refused to converse with me because I was wearing the dress of my country. Am I not in accordance with the laws which I am sworn to enforce, even now unsexed in apparel? Do I not tremble when I think how easily the hirelings whom I must trust, may betray me? But what is that to you? Were I, the chief magistrate of the republic, impeached and condemned to death for it, what would it matter? Alas, why should it matter to you, who did not invite this trial of my recklessness? But it is thus with the privileged sex, the world over—we toil, we labor, and grow weary in our efforts to please them; we use diplomacy, we run risks, and we fail. But what am I saying?—What possesses my tongue? I did not come to reproach you, oh, beautiful heshe—I have spoken heedlessly and crave pardon.

"And why are you so handsome—so like an angel from another world, and why must I love you so vainly?—for I love you dearly, more than I can express in poor, weak words—more than my soul's salvation; and if I could win your love thereby, I would gladly beard destruction like the gallant knights of old, who did battles for their sweethearts. And if I could win it in no other way—much as I dread dissolution—I would die to accomplish it and know you all mine for one brief day! Forgive me for thus unburdening my heavy- laden heart, for I can bear the anguish of silence no longer. I lay my presidency—all that I possess of honors or riches—at your feet; share them with your devoted slave and speak but one kind word in order that her pain may be turned to joy. Oh, that I was less awkward and unskilled in pressing my suit; but you know that my heart, my whole soul, is in my pleading, for I love you, love you—yes, adore you!"

"Madame, my dear madame, this is extraordinary—this passes all human belief!" I exclaimed, mastering my consternation sufficiently to interrupt her rhapsody.

"You must not be surprised and angry with me, cruel, cruel American, for when I put on these robes was it not only to pander to your prejudice? Did I lay aside, with the proper dress of my sex, the right to ask in marriage?"

"As it is not leap year, I am at loss to comprehend from whence you derive your so-called right," I replied. "No, as a man of family, I must not allow your excellency to persist in this madness. You, too, may be subject to another's claim. Consider, therefore, that you speak that which, in your calmer moments, you will shrink from as folly, if not wickedness, such as is altogether unexpected from a woman of your exalted position."

"Oh, no, no, no; it is not wicked—it cannot be—I will not have it so!" she continued, bursting into tears, "and you must not say so and break my heart. You have only to become accustomed to it and you, too, will deem it proper that the heshes should listen to the wooing of the shehes. And as to the claims of another—there are none, never were any, never shall be. I am as free as the bird of the air to love you, and why, then, should I not ask you to wed me? I have loved my freedom and should have remained a bachelor to my dying day had not the image of my dreams appeared before me in flesh and blood. I marry another?—I seek a consort among the degenerate puppies of Petticotia? No! Much as I love my country and her laws, I cannot love her heshes—I hate, I abhor them, for angling for me. They are not—not what one wants: and you are, for you are like the heroes of the old books which I saved from the public burnings, and that is partly why I tremble and love you. You must not drive me to despair as heartless Naasee did poor Iris-Eye—poor, wronged Iris-Eye, who had an empire to command but could not command the heshe of her heart! And, dearest love, do not, oh do not, again say that you are already married—or say the shehe who claims you is not handsome and you do not care for her. If she be beautiful, say she does not love you—she cannot, or how could she allow you, her hero, to depart from her side? And if I thought it were even so, that you are wedded elsewhere, and that on that account you would not wed me also, as the laws of Petticotia permit you to do, I would make a funeral pyre of this palace and perish as did poor Iris- Eye; and you should not escape, though you were twice as strong as you are! But I must not talk thus. Let me entreat you to say but one sweet word and all these dark brain-pictures will abate their torture. Say you will be mine—save me from despair—bid Lillibel Razmora hope and live."

"I beg of your excellency, let us terminate this scene. It is painful, I may say, humiliating to me to see womanhood dragged thus low in the dust before my eyes. I will retire to another apartment and allow you to regain your self-possession," and thus saying I prepared to leave her.

"Oh, no, no, no! Stay and do not spurn me from you with contempt, or I know not what I shall do!" she moaned piteously. "Heavens, I am not at all myself. Ah, how this thing called love unnerves me! Leave me and I shall at once let loose the horrid hags of the Dress Reform Court, upon us both—no, I do not mean it! Come, you know I am but jesting. I am becoming a very woman, as you would say—I shall grow hysterical for the first time in my life if you do not sit down and allow me to hold your hand in mine and think the love I dare not utter!"

She had grown still more beautiful in her excitement. Her breath came and went in flutters; a deeper carnation suffused her cheeks; her eyes were brimming over with tears, and altogether she was a woman for whose hand the proudest of lovers in my country would sue as earnestly as she did for mine. I deplored the fate which had brought us together, but notwithstanding my pity for her, every drop of blood in my veins revolted at her principles—or rather her lack of principles—her acquiescence in the accursed design to make women of men, and men of women.

She had gently detained me and seated herself on an ottoman at my feet. Looking up out of the depth of her great, liquid-gray eyes, her lips quivering and an indescribable sadness in her voice, she asked: "And will you not even be my friend? or as a father to me, for mine has long since ceased to be mine; and I have no mother, for she is dead; and no true friends with whom to be natural and unaffected as I can with you. Kiss me and call me friend, daughter, what you will—but kiss me!"

Could I refuse compliance when she begged of me in that childlike fashion, with not one trace of the man-woman in her beseeching looks? Was it wrong that I touched her forehead with my lips?—alas, she wound her arms about my neck as I stooped, and kissed me in return—hungrily and greedily, but not upon the forehead.

"You love me! You love me at last, do you not?" she cried; "Oh, confess it and I am in heaven!"

This may strike the sensible American citizen as highly ridiculous, if not disgusting—this throwing away of excellency to a mere stranger, to one who, with less Pilgrim blood and Puritan honor in his veins might then and there have made himself a villain. But ye who wonder at her of Petticotia's infatuation for me, a man, although of passable appearance, yet not far from twice her age, recollect that after fifteen years of thralldom there remained among her people not a serf worthy of the name of man, upon whom to lavish the love of an overflowing heart. Hers was but a partly stifled nature; she was, in defiance of all the laws of Petticotia, still a woman.

"Pardon me," I said in a quiet tone of voice, unwinding her arms. "I have kissed you because you requested it as might my eldest child at home. Take it as such and let us be friends, if we must. I am your prisoner and powerless to forbid your entrance here."

Taking comfort in even so slight an assurance she smiled, kissed my hand in spite of my remonstrance, and arose to depart, when, suddenly recollecting something, she said:

"Dearest General, in my selfish anxiety I have forgotten to inform you that Professor Dixit and her associates in science have this day begun operations upon your wonderful flying- monster."

I started as one thunderstruck. "What!" I exclaimed, "upon my property—upon the American Eagle? How dare they! Let me go at once and disperse the cowardly curs, the robbers, the vandals!"

"Pray, pardon me, I am so sorry," said her excellency, alarmed at my anger. "But they have only made a preliminary survey, and do not begin the work of dissection until to-morrow."

"Dissection!" I almost yelled, "I must go at once and warn them to attempt it at their peril. Dissect the Eagle—my last hope—never!"

"And you shall go, and I will help you to save your property," said the President. "Were it in my power you should go attired as you are. But that cannot be as the final decree of the court, after I have prevented the execution of a death-sentence, is fixed and unalterable. There remains nothing but to yield enough to satisfy the letter of the law. Farewell, therefore, and rest in peace. Early to-morrow morning I shall have all in readiness."

And thus saying, she disappeared.


CHAPTER X

General Gullible sacrifices his Apparel upon the Altar of his Country—He celebrates his Deliverance from Prison by a Descent upon Professor Dixit and her Fellow- Scientists—His Meeting with the Tall, Proud-looking Heshe who shook his Hand at the Palace.


KING RICHARD in his tent, tortured by the ghosts of his victims, could not have passed a much more miserable night than this, thought I, upon awakening next morning. In truth I had not been so perturbed in spirits since the memorable failure which once robbed me of fortune and parents at one remorseless blow.

Through many sleepless hours, until the color-lightning was beginning to wane, the struggle with myself and my pride had continued. Then came victory and rest. My devotion to the achievement, which was to secure for the land of my birth the glory of first discovering the North Pole, had triumphed. The American Eagle must be preserved at all hazards: that was my conclusion. However low I might be compelled to degrade my manhood, if placed upon the altar of my country it would be sacrifice, not sin.

I was quite calm, therefore, when the President was announced. She came, attired in official costume, and her countenance bespoke great anxiety.

"Ah, good morning," she said, smiling as she beheld my air of resignation. "I am glad to find General Gullible so nearly reconciled to his terrible fate—terrible only in the anticipation. Shall we proceed with the work of transformation?"

I bowed and replied that I was ready, still scrutinizing her apparel.

"Oh, you must not mind my coming in this form to-day," whispered her excellency, "for they are almost at my heels, the horrid ghouls, and I would not dare to masquerade, of course. You must—you will—pardon me, therefore. And tell me, have you really decided?—Oh, I am so glad!"

I smiled at her girlish fervor and assured her it was true that I had chosen the better part of valor; but I yielded only so far as to wear the prescribed dress out-of-doors; in private I retained the right to put on what I pleased. Another point I wished to impress upon her was that under no consideration could I part with my mustache.

"Oh, pray say no more! This is not complying with the sentence of the court at all," exclaimed the President. She continued, seriously: "The judges will not hear of it—the mustache must off; they will insist upon it."

"Very well," I returned drily, "if my mustache must off, my head must go off with it."

"Then they shall not insist upon it; for we cannot afford so novel a tonsorial operation," said her excellency, pleased with her witticism. "I shall intercede for your mustache, and for your privilege of wearing what you please in private, but let that be all."

In obedience to a signal, an attendant now entered, half- smothered by the wardrobe which had been selected for me. There was a dress of dark satin, trimmed with velvet; a much- embroidered petticoat; a—but I can proceed no further without feeling ill. Suffice it to say that a complete outfit awaited me, and that everything was found in order, notwithstanding the President's fears, who declared that, generally speaking, her sex was very ignorant in regard to these things. She then placed the garments, boxes and bundles, in the care of my male attendants, ordering them to retire to the seclusion of my sleeping-apartment and there assist me in dressing. One of the number she appointed to wait upon me in that capacity at all times thereafter.

For a few moments, while I stared blankly at the strange goods and at the attendants, I felt the old rebellion in my heart.* But the final conflict was brief. I summoned all my strength and exclaimed in a husky tone of voice:

"Lead on, I am ready!"

[* It is quite probable that my father has never read "Don Juan," not only for moral reasons, but because of his antipathy to most modern poetry—as witness the many odes to the seasons and in memoriams with which he annually fattened the waste-basket in the Monitor office—yet, as I was about to observe, in that much-abused and much-read creation of Byron's he might have found a parallel to his present perplexity. The passage I allude to may be found in canto five and is as follows:

"What sir," said Juan, "shall it e'er be told
That I unsexed my dress?" But Baba, stroking
The things down, said: "Incense me and I call
Those who will leave you of no sex at all."

Note by Jonathan Gullible, who edits the present narrative in accordance with his father's private instructions.]


After a female barber had ruthlessly removed from my face all the hair I would allow, I was left in the hands of my attendants, under whose nimble manipulations I soon lost my identity. Upon regarding myself in the mirror, I saw that nothing remained of the American save the mustache. This relic of my departed glory contrasted so strangely with the new character I had assumed, that the servants rolled over with laughter. When my anger thawed under the influence of my image in the mirror, I too roared. I was almost inclined to relent from my resolve to preserve sacredly the covering upon my upper lip, when one of the attendants suggested powder. With the aid of this cosmetic, the objectionable feature was rendered almost invisible. After listening to a few hints in regard to a proper gait and deportment in general, I was led into the presence of the Dress Reform Court magnates, who had been in waiting for some time.

My late inquisitors received me with a half-haughty, half unbending grace. The senior Judge expressed the gratification of the entire bench over the fact that the majesty of the law had at last become respected. She also informed me that in consideration of my humbled attitude of mind, they had consented to the nullification of those points in my sentence conflicting with my dress in private and the wearing of a mustache. In order to make my imprisonment less rigorous, she told me, in conclusion, it had been decided that if I made a solemn oath to observe the terms of my commuted sentence and to attempt no escape until the expiration of my sentence, I should enjoy the freedom of the city at all such times as her excellency consented to. The President had become my legally appointed jailor and was responsible for my safekeeping, thereby rescuing me from the close confinement of the National Dress Reform prison.

After administering the oath, which I took, after some hesitation, my word of honor being deemed insufficient, the shrivelled guardians of the new order of affairs bowed themselves out with artistic awkwardness, and departed for their judicial stronghold.

"Thank heaven," murmured her excellency, when we were alone; "at last all danger is past. Now you may move about like a human being. The carriage is in waiting, and, if you are ready, we will visit Professor Dixit and the Eagle."

All the world stared upon beholding an unknown heshe sharing the presidential carriage-and-four. Hats innumerable were lifted to me by dapper little senators, representatives, ambassadors and others who had the honor of an acquaintance with the Shah of Sheheland. These were all out upon the avenues for a fashionable morning airing, some in groups upon horseback, some in carriages alone, and others with a heshe or two reclining languidly upon the cushions by their side.

I felt ill at ease, to say the least, in my novel situation. Every moment it seemed as if somebody must charge me with being a fraud and a vile not-what-I-seemed. The additional amount of hair upon my head seemed in danger of getting lost, and as for my hat, I could not feel it at all. The corsets, too, hugged me rather closely, and the patent breasts, although but inflated rubber, sat like a late supper upon my chest. However, it was not as dreadful as I had expected.

After our turn in the streets, we entered the park and proceeded to the rear of the palace. At the tent, which sheltered the American Eagle, we came upon a curious group of spectacled beings, who, upon the approach of the President, almost kissed the ground in the depth of their salutations. They were the scientific squad from the Dixit school, and were awaiting the approach of their leader who had lagged behind to observe the track which a common garden worm had made in crawling across the way.

When the chief of enthusiasts arrived, language was inadequate to express her delight at the unexpected honor. She was a very slim person, dressed in funereal broadcloth and endowed with a short nose, a long upper lip, high cheek bones, retreating chin, and eyes that gleamed through a pair of glasses like embers in a black fire place. When she presently removed her shining high hat and absently ran her fingers through hair once raven black, I noticed that her forehead clambered baldly over one-quarter of her head and displayed prominently the bumps of firmness and self-esteem.

When the nature of my visit was made known to her, Professor Dixit stared as one petrified. Recovering slowly from the shock, she remarked: "We claim the right of exploration under the new statutes, and I can hardly believe that General Gullible has come to overthrow all our hopes of one of the most brilliant achievements in archaeology—the noble science treating of antediluvian birds and monsters—ever witnessed in Petticotia. Let him reconsider his rash determination. Surely he cannot have read the articles upon the subject in the Sixteenth Amendment, and the Sumar Vitenelizian? In another hour I had hoped to be able to proceed with the work of dissection, after which we would be able to make a final report upon the wonderful phenomenon with which chance has favored Petticotia."

"But, my dear madame," said I, "with all due respect for the science of archaeology and the press articles, which I have not perused, I cannot permit you to destroy property which it would be impossible to replace in this country."

"But we have made our preliminary survey," protested the professor; "our preliminary report, as published, proves that we are the first discoverers of the true nature of this wonder. As science cannot lie, we must uphold that report."

"Ah, you have reported," I said rather grimly, "and pray what is your opinion of the American Eagle?"

"Well," answered Professor Dixit, switched upon the right track, "we have, as I remarked, had the honor to make a preliminary report as well as some predictions; these we have submitted to the National Institute of the Scientific Association of which I have the honor to be president, in hopes of verifying them by the practical work of investigation, and our report was last evening published by an obliging press and perused by an intelligent public. Upon first viewing the monster, I was inclined to assign it a place in the rank of some eagle species, for such its outward form, wings, head and talons seemed to prove it, although the total absence of feathers and the presence, instead, of a thick, impenetrable hide, did not escape my notice. This fact nonplussed some of us exceedingly and led to a momentary opinion that the bird must belong to a hitherto unknown species of cheiroptera, or, in plain words, that it was a gigantic production of the bat family. Personally I was loth to discard the eagle theory, and with a view to confirming my original impression I compared it with the Imperialis, the Aquila Chrysaestos, the Harpya, and other eagles, but I could find for it no place. I found many characteristics of those species present, but taken as a whole there was something lacking. At last I bethought myself of some famous treatises in my library, which promised to cover the ground. And what was the ever- glorious result? I made a discovery—a discovery which, in all humility be it said, should hand the name of Dixit down to future generations. It was this: the great unknown is a phoenix! I have since drawn up proofs which warrant me in saying, without hesitation, that one of these giants among birds has at last visited this continent. Their appearance, so far as I can learn, has hitherto been confined exclusively to the old world. In ancient history I have met with several instances, the descriptions whereof strengthen my belief that I have hit the nail upon the head. I am satisfied that the impetuous bravery of our soldiery alone deprived Petticotia of the opportunity of seeing a phoenix expire in the flames and arise out of its own ashes. That this specimen was in the act of renewing its youth when slain, I cannot for a moment doubt. The question arises, would not the application of fire still give it a revitalized form? I was almost tempted to stake my reputation upon the experiment, last evening. As the chances of finding a dead phoenix, however, are so extremely rare, I was prevailed upon to anatomize this the only specimen observed for many centuries. It was agreed that after the work of dissection, which would give us a definite idea of the vast creature's internal structure and habits, the remains should be committed to the flames, in the presence of all the notables of the capital. As spirit and matter, according to the argument of the eminent Dr. Greenshanks are inseparable, the entire bird must rise again from a funeral pyre containing all the remains. Thus the race of phoenixes will be preserved to be discovered again by brother-philosophers thousands of years hence—glorious thought!"

Although I listened with the greatest amusement to the learned professor's theory, strange to say, it did not shake my belief as to the origin and nature of the flying-machine. "Sorry as I am to dispel the pleasing illusion under which Professor Dixit and her colleagues evidently labor," I said, "necessity compels me to protect my property, which I am ready to claim in a legal manner."

At that moment a messenger arrived and delivered to her excellency a sealed envelope. She opened it and took therefrom a document which she smilingly handed to me.

It proved to be an order from the civil courts restraining the scientists from trespassing upon what was alleged, upon knowledge and belief of the chief executive herself, to be private property. I informed the crestfallen vandals of its purport.

Professor Dixit, however, was far from satisfied, and hinted that perhaps my claim could be disproved. She was prepared to sustain her theory by means of the fire-test, if I would agree to it; but failing to obtain any answer to this proposition, contented herself with challenging me to a discussion in the public prints, where, with all the courtesy due to my sex, I should soon be led to acknowledge my error. But I declined; whereat she became inconsolable.

The President expressed her regret that circumstances should have arisen which must necessarily prevent her friends from pursuing their learned investigation, and thereupon the scientists took their leave, heavy-hearted.

Her excellency also instructed the guards to allow no one to enter the tent, save myself and such as had my permission. Then followed a delicious drive in the park.

Upon our return to the palace I was in better spirits than I had been for many days. After dining with me and laughing heartily over the theory of Professor Dixit, the President departed to attend to executive business, but not without first giving me permission to drive out when and where I pleased.

A carriage and horses, as well as servants to manage them and wait upon me, were placed at my disposal.

"In a few days," said her excellency, on the threshold, "I hope to have the pleasure of introducing you to society. In the meanwhile I shall, with your permission, visit you in masquerade this evening, to atone for the ugly sight which you have so patiently endured to-day."

During the afternoon I availed myself of my newly-acquired liberty and drove to the various addresses of eminent shehe engineers which I obtained from the directory. I consulted one after another with a view to engaging her to aid me in repairing the American Eagle, but was disappointed, for not one possessed such knowledge and aptitude as I required.

Returning homeward, near the palace, to my great delight, I espied the tall, proud-looking heshe who took no notice of the passersby and secretly menaced the presidential mansion.

Dismissing the vehicle, I approached as best I could, in my ridiculous outfit, and addressed him respectfully.

He gave me a piercing look from his steel-gray eyes, not unmixed with surprise, which he carefully concealed, however. Then, suddenly relaxing his sternness, he bowed and inquired: "Have I the honor of addressing the distinguished foreigner whose fame is in everybody's mouth, and whose resolute stand against the tyranny of a conquest-crazed class has excited the admiration of thousands of our sex throughout the land?"

I started at his knowledge of myself, and replied that as a stranger in a strange land, cut off from the rest of my kind, I had done what lay in my power to combat an unrighteous breach of international law. I hoped, however, in spite of the indignities to which I was compelled to submit, to survive the years which intervened between my degradation and the return to my own proper condition.

"Nobly spoken, sir; nobly spoken!" exclaimed the tall being, with the flashing eyes and a warm grasp of his hand. "Clarence Razmora is glad to meet you, yes glad; and hopes to be honored with your further acquaintance."

I thanked him warmly and said I should be delighted to have him call upon me at my quarters in the palace.

At the mere mention of the marble edifice he started violently, and then came a pace or two nearer. "Your patriotic utterances caused me to forget for a moment that I have something of importance to communicate to you," said he. "There is a conspiracy on foot in which you are deeply concerned."

"A conspiracy?" I echoed, in a voice which plainly spoke my surprise.

"Hsh! Let us converse in undertones. I have seen her—once the high she-dragon of the Imperial Order of Crowing Hens—who is now doing what mischief she can, in the guise of a captain of the guards."

"What, Pantaletta?"

"That same arch-enemy of man. Be on the alert against her machinations. Her plots draw their inspiration from hell. I have seen her within this hour, in secret conference with an arch- mountebank—one Dora Dixit."

I became all-absorbed in his words.

"I not only saw, but heard them, by a happy accident. The subject of their conversation was yourself and they flying monster in which you arrived on these accursed shores. They appointed a place of meeting for this evening—I noted it down—and the followers of both will be there. There is villainy in the air, and I half like it—I am a detective by instinct. I shall watch their movements and inform you of their purposes. Call upon me to-morrow morning. I cannot visit you, for reasons which you may learn later. And now adieu, for we are attracting attention." Thus saying, he pressed into my hand a card inscribed with his address, and disappeared among the crowd.

It was somewhat late in the evening, while I was silently reviewing the day's events and dwelling more particularly upon the terrible woman who seemed determined to annoy me, that the President made her appearance.

She inquired half-a-dozen times if I felt very much fatigued by my out-door dress; how I enjoyed my freedom; how I liked the city, and whether I was glad I had yielded to her counsel. "You now see, dear General, that I am laboring for the best. And you have made me happy this day—I cannot describe how very happy, and I want to thank you ever so much. And now I can take you out to see the world as it is, and you are no longer obliged to remain entombed alive. Is it not glorious?"

Her excellency was a good conversationalist and never tired of describing society and the amusement world. Concerning the government and politics, she said very little. Her great ambition was to see me cut a brilliant figure in the fashionable world, and to this end she instructed me with true feminine tact, pretending to be a heshe at times and going through the latest forms of etiquette for my benefit. She deplored the fact that the wearing of mustaches by heshes was condemned in society, for she adored mine, and declared it was a shame to hide it under powder. The opera, the new play, the coming ball at the academy, were among the amusements she hoped I would enjoy. Then, first of all, there was a presidential levee to be given in my honor as soon as I felt confident enough for a formal presentation to the distinguished guests who would be present.

Noticing my continued abstraction, she sighed next and asked me if I was fatigued or troubled. Then she sighed again and gazed afar off, over the trees in the park. At last she said:

"Oh, I had quite forgotten—I have a new song I wish to sing to you; the music is by a talented young virtuoso who is destined to become famous some day, and as to the words—I wish you to tell me whether they are pretty or not."

And playing an accompaniment, on the piano, she sang in a very sweet voice, the following words which were set to a jaunty but not unmusical air:


As doth growling bear to bear,
As doth timid hare to hare,
As doth nature great and small,
So my heart to thee doth call.
Darling, to the terrace come;
Meet me when the beetles hum
In the dying iris-light,
And all else is quiet quite.

In the hours attuned to love
Let us o'er the terrace rove,
And hear what the breezes say
To the ivy in their play.
Then, perchance, my arm may creep
Round they waist, ‘neath tresses deep,
While we stand and listen to
Notes with which the robins woo.

Should thy weary head recline
On my lovelorn breast, and mine
Seek thy ruby lips, anon,
Who shall blame us, love? Oh, none!
For to love is but to live,
Kiss to take is but to give:
Therefore give me kisses sweet—
Kisses, kisses when we meet!


There, are the similes not striking? What do you think of the sentiment?" asked the singer.

I narrowly escaped blundering into the "owing to the overcrowded state" and "having inadvertently mislaid" formulas with which editors begin their apologies to the rhyming world, but recovered from my absent-mindedness in time to remark, "I think it is a pretty—quite a—a—graceful fancy. By your excellency, I presume? I had not suspected you of being a dweller on Parnassus."

This incautiousness naturally led to a poetical conversation. Did I love poetry? Had I perused the lyrics of Skihi?—of course not, but she would bring them and read to me a little now and then. Skihi was the fashion just now and all the heshes were raving over her productions.

Thanks to the President's volubility, I was spared many awkward answers. I am not convinced that, when she bade me good evening, she knew my opinion of the modern sentimentalists, whose much-diluted, rose-scented agony of words is called poetry, but I do know that Skihi's frolics of fancy, and numerous other amatory verses, gradually found their way to my retreat.


CHAPTER XI.

General Gullible visits the last of the Petticotian Romans—Becomes acquainted with a Lineal Descendant of the Phalanx-Breaker—Also with the strange Conspiracy of Captain Pantaletta and Professor Dixit.


ALL morning, for the first time since my arrival in Petticotia, I saw the rain descending as if heaven were weeping its eyes out. The trees in the park shrugged their shoulders chillingly, and the little birds in the branches chirped their notes of condolence. The flowers and shrubs and grass-blades gasped for breath. The lakes and streamlets swelled in importance like aldermen at a banquet. The streets and sidewalks became purified until they seemed strewn with silver sand. And when the shower had ceased all nature came forth and sang a song of joy. The people thronged the thoroughfares and discussed the blessing which had fallen. The air became soft and balmy again, and only the increased freshness and cleanliness remained to tell of what had taken place.

I bade my gaily-uniformed new coachman—or, rather my new coachwoman—to drive me to 1857 Rumbleton avenue. I say new coachwoman, for, my old one, after serving a day, had eloped with a wealthy young heshe who had become inspired with a yearning for romance by the story-papers of the day. Eloping coachwomen, I learned, were the rule, and not the exception, here. Hundreds of simple-minded heshes, both married and single, annually became the victims of these liveried heart-breakers. Wealth and beauty were invariably laid at their feet, so that the supply of speculative coachwomen was at all times greater than the demand; and, as a consequence, the best drivers could be engaged for next to nothing.

Arriving at my destination, I was ushered into a well- furnished parlor by a servant of my own sex. A moment later my tall friend of the noble demeanor, Clarence Razmora, grasped my hand saying:

"General Gullible—the gentleman himself—as I live. Welcome to Razmora hall. I have been hoping for your arrival, for I have news to communicate."

He instructed the servants to relieve me of my superfluous slave-trappings, alluding to my bonnet, gloves and other costly finery.

"All heshes," said he, smiling grimly while I closely regarded the persons in waiting. "We manage to exist without the shehes. But let us ascend to the Rookery and converse at leisure. Dandelion is there; Chatterbox also, but otherwise it is quiet."

With these words he led the way through an elegant hallway, up two flights of stairs, and opened a richly-carved door.

As we were about to enter, an unearthly voice, by way of greeting, shrieked out:

"Woman, thou art the daughter of the devil!"

Such bitter emphasis was laid upon the last word of the shocking exclamation that I confessed myself rather startled.

At a large writing-desk, in one corner of the room, a slight form was bending over a pile of manuscript, but so absorbed in the occupation that I was certain the cry had not proceeded thence. A table covered with books and papers, a book-case, perfume-blowing plants, a sofa, easy-chairs, a large empty cage—these were the leading objects which caught my eyes as I hastily scanned the apartment.

"Ah, the rogue," said my host, smiling at my puzzled expression. "Where is he hiding? Come, sir, and make your bow to a gentleman."

With another half-finished "Woman, thou art"—a large bird hopped forth from under the sofa and, after bowing politely, examined me in a critical manner. It apparently belonged to some species of prodigious Indian parrots, and returned the caresses of its master with almost human affection.

"Chatterbox is a philosopher whose equal it would be difficult to find," continued Razmora; and then, waving his hand slightly, "and this is what we call our Rookery—we three rooks. But excuse my neglect," housing the bird and turning to the silent figure buried in the manuscripts, "Dandelion!"

The delver in the mines of hidden knowledge turned with a start, arose to his feet and showed some confusion upon becoming aware of my presence.

"My worthy friend and companion, Sir Archibald Dandelion," said my host, formally introducing us, "lineal descendant of Dandelion the Phalanx-Breaker, fighter of the famous duel with tooth-picks at three yards. Dandelion, this is General Icarus Byron Gullible, the celebrated stranger whom we listened to with so much gratification when he made his noble defense, unterrified but terrifying—General Gullible of the, to us unfortunately unknown, but nevertheless glorious, republic of the United States."

Sir Archibald timidly grasped my extended hand and in a shy, half-frightened manner murmured his delight at meeting so worthy a gentle—he might say gentleman?—with an anxious look toward my host, who nodded.

I thanked the little man and hoped we should meet often. In spite of his retiring manners and the droll effect of his loose, priest-like gown, he was an engaging personality. I could not help feeling that he was devoted in his friendship and possessed of rare knowledge. His face was somewhat furrowed and careworn; sorrow, privation and silent suffering had left their stamp upon his features.

Chatterbox, who had been eyeing me with a suspicious leer, here broke forth; "I know you—you are a woman—a daughter of the devil—a necessary evil—a natural temptation—a domestic peril—a deadly fascination and a painted ill. You have the best place and choicest tidbits at table; the best seats in the cars, carriages and sleighs; your choice on which side of the bed you will lie. You cannot love because you are too selfish. You may have a fancy, but that is fleeting. Your smiles are deceit. Your vows are traced in sand. You are a thread of candor within a web of wiles. You are deception every way—hair, teeth, complexion, heart, tongue and all. If man trust you, let him give up all hope of heaven!"

This fierce arraignment caused Razmora to laugh heartily. "He is unused to strangers and mistakes your apparel for that of the creature he once knew as woman," he explained. "He will learn better soon. He will cut another wisdom tooth when he sees you assume masculine habits." So saying my host approached a side- board which had been hidden from view by a scarlet curtain and produced wine, glasses and a box of cigars. Placing them upon the table he continued:

"Now let us have a sip of our best, and a smoke, and enjoy ourselves like men. Ah," looking disapprovingly upon my conscientious dress, "it is a pity you have allowed them to fit you out so dreadfully. We take it easier. Outwardly, as a matter of form, we comply with all the requirements of the law and our oaths, but we have simplified things considerably—eh, Dandelion? For instance, our hair is of natural growth only, tied in a knot behind, like a painter's brush; our head-gear is of the simplest kind—a hat with a feather or a ribbon attached; our dress is very little worse than a gentleman's dressing-gown of the olden time; high-heeled shoes we abhor, and as for corsets, jewelry and other tomfoolery, they trouble us very little at Razmora hall. In one respect only you seem to have the advantage over us and that is in the wearing of your mustache, so admirably concealed, from a distance."

I laughingly informed him that I had more privileges than he was, perhaps, aware of. One of them was that, as a reward for all my discomfort in public, I was allowed to wear the proper clothing of our own sex in the privacy of my apartments.

"I congratulate you sincerely upon your good fortune," said Razmora. "And now for a smoke." Out of manly courtesy I accepted a proffered roll of tobacco and lighted it, although I was rather a novice in the fumigating art. My attempt was witnessed by Chatterbox, who evinced his satisfaction by a number of conciliatory croaks.

"Thank Providence," remarked my host, puffing the white smoke in a tranquil manner, "the Social Ethics Court does not rob us of this last comfort. By some happy oversight they have omitted to prescribe what we shall eat, drink and smoke; although in regard to smoking, custom has shifted the habit almost entirely upon the shehes. The degenerate and cowardly heshes now dip snuff or chew gum. What is your opinion of this woefully disordered country, General Gullible?"

"Until within a very short time," said I, "it has to me seemed entirely peopled with lunatics, if I may so express myself."

"Quite right—lunatics. Be candid and fearless—eh, Dandelion? We have always been outspoken, have we not? But blood will tell; blood will tell, and I have always maintained as much. Doubtless General Gullible has noble, if not royal, blood flowing in his veins also. That would account to my satisfaction for the uniform bravery he has displayed in Petticotia."

"I regret to say that I cannot share in any doctrine which distinguishes one blood from another, or which lays the slightest stress upon birth or inherited rank," I replied with firmness. "Such ideas would be atrociously at variance with republican institutions. I had the good fortune to be born under a Declaration of Independence which says, 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,' and I am compelled, therefore, although with the greatest respect for your opinions, to disclaim all participation in the royal, or even noble blood, beliefs of bloated monarchies."

My worthy entertainer forgot his cigar in his astonishment, and Dandelion's amazement was blankly visible.

"What," at last exclaimed the former, half-sorrowfully, "is there then no joy without its alloy? Can you really entertain so small a regard for the better classes of humanity? I can hardly realize that you are serious. Take my own family, for example: could I have been so untrue to is noble lineage as to drag its colors in the dust, after the manner of many thousands, I would not marvel at our visitation. When the new fanaticism deluged Petticotia, fifteen years ago, what preserved my manhood but the remembrance that some of my ancestors fought in the times of King Batterbull, the Barbarian, and that one intermarried with the kin of royal Bucer, the Conqueror? Was I, whose forefathers were born to command armies and nations, to run my neck into a yoke? It might have been quite otherwise had I been born a clodhopper, devoid of the finer instincts. Then there is Sir Archibald—what added moral stamina to his backbone and saved him, but the remembrance, which I was careful to keep before him, that his genealogy is clearly traceable to the times of Dulniff, the Kingmaker, under whom fought Dandelion, fighter of the immortal duel, of whom the poet-chronicler wrote:


'One thousande grizzled gentlemenne
Trot boldlie by hys syde'—

that is, are commanded by him. No small matter was it when the Earl of Falconridge, made furious by the favors which the Lady Lucinda but too plainly showed the great Phalanx-Breaker, challenged the latter to a duel with tooth-picks. True, tooth- picks, ordinarily considered, are not formidable weapons, but those employed in this ever-memorable encounter, were needle- pointed and poisoned, so that, penetrating the skin but the one- thousandth part of an inch, death would immediately ensue. Both champions laid aside their armor and bared their iron frames to the thighs, in obedience to the terms of battle. The witnesses came prepared to see death. The great Phalanx-Breaker's dexterity proved to be of a superior order, for it is recorded in ancient prose that before the stiff and haughty Falconridge could poise a second weapon—his first having missed its aim—Dandelion, by a careless toss of the hand, 'drave ye toothe-picke up to ye lattermost ende into ye Earle's navelle.' It appears that it had been the custom of the Phalanx-Breaker, up to his forty-fifth year a bachelor, to sew on his own buttons, and upon each occasion, after completing his task, to hurl the needle against a particular spot on the castle-window, where it would stick until another button came off. Thus he acquired the unerring skill which served him so well. Thus much about the warrior whom Sir Archibald now represents. That he is a worthy scion of so noble a stock, Dandelion has amply demonstrated."

The Pilgrim-Father blood grew rather warm in my veins while listening to this exaltation of mere descent. I could not reconcile their foolish pride in blue blood with republican ideas. Lest our pleasant intercourse should founder upon this rock of dissension, however, I said:

"I am sorry to confess that, while I appreciate the nobleness of your narratives, I cannot lay at the feet of ancestry every remnant of human greatness that is found among us, or thank the dry bones of past ages for everything in which we might justly give ourselves credit. You, on the contrary, worship in that direction. Let us respect each others' opinions and avoid hopeless controversy."

"Wisely and moderately spoken; wisely and very moderately," commented my host, whiffing the smoke from his cigar with renewed vigor and gazing on the city below for a moment. "And now let us dismiss these trivialities and I will, with your permission, continue my more important disclosures of yesterday."

I signified my eagerness to learn the upshot of the conspiracy which so closely concerned myself, and begged him to proceed. This he did as follows, after Dandelion had supplied Chatterbox with a lump of sugar for which the bird had been making loud demands for some time:

"As you will recollect, I informed you that among the persons about to engage in this conspiracy are a certain Captain Pantaletta and one Professor Dixit. I have unearthed all the details of their villainy. The place appointed for their meeting was a lonely dell in the park. There I managed to conceal myself before their arrival and thus became a witness of their proceedings." Razmora enveloped himself in another cloud of smoke upon reverting to certain recollections which threatened to upset his gravity:

"There, upon a log, sat the arch-fiend; upon a grassy knoll opposite, reclined the arch-mountebank. Around them, in a circle, eleven high hats bobbed assent to everything that was said, eleven little students underneath, furnishing the motive power. This unlucky group of thirteen robbed you of your life and destroyed your Eagle in less than an hour—figuratively, of course. The arch-fiend, as usual, was voluble of tongue, and even while inciting the others to murder, repeated the platitudes of bygone days, acting so strangely at times, that I have no doubt she was practicing insanity in order to be held irresponsible should her foul deed be discovered. She read aloud from an evening paper an account of your submission to the dress-laws and the singular exception made in your favor by which you are allowed to wear your mustache. This seemed to excite her greatly. 'What!" she exclaimed, '"my mustache or my life." He would rather lose his head than his lip-covering. By the Shah of Sheheland, he shall lose both! What, tantalize us by twirling the stiff bristles in our face, and flatter himself that the shehes all envy him? He will lay great stress upon it as a badge of superiority: well, we will give him the benefit of his bragging, since beards are worn by goats, monkeys and other inferior animals." She then proposed your death by open assassination with sword or pistol, the perpetrator of the deed to be designated by lot. To this the shrinking mountebank demurred, alleging that it was too risky. Better decoy you to the spot upon which they were deliberating and there suddenly dispatch you. 'I myself will bait the trap,' said she. 'He has insulted me before the eyes of the world, and I have sworn not only to be revenged but to see my theory verified. I will, by letter, request him to meet me here, in secret, for I am watched. I have information to communicate which will enable him to prevent the destruction of his property (as he calls it) by a rival of mine who has vowed to prove her theory correct at all hazards. He shall come in the witching hours of dalliance—just before downy-iris—when all the world is steeped in sensual pleasures and even the palace guards are slyly visiting their hesheloves. Our messenger shall at the appointed time guide him to this fatal spot—'

"'And here,' broke in Pantaletta, 'half-a-dozen trustworthy youngsters of my command—old birds in deviltry—shall overpower and dispatch him, after which you and your students shall bear the body to the college and prepare it in accordance with my directions. If this exploit is successful I swear to you, my dear Professor Dixit, that you shall have the satisfaction of burning the phoenix, as you call it. Yes, you shall create for it a miniature hell and your devils shall dance around it in high glee—a hell such as the church without shehes, believing in a male and jealous God, once shook at trembling sinners.'

"'But when shall this thing be done?' queried one of the high hats, in that piping voice which makes me temporarily ill. At the word 'when,' they all turned pale and shook like aspen- leaves—all save the she-dragon who laughed at their fears and proposed that on this very evening your soul (if you have a soul) be equipped with wings.

"Then followed a lengthy discussion. The mountebank and her students counseled more deliberation—more preparation for the bloody work. In obedience to their entreaties the conference was adjourned for one week, at the end of which time your day of death is to be irrevocably determined."

"This is cheerful information, indeed, but I will endeavor to bear up bravely under it," I remarked, half-amused by the recital, and yet astounded that so determined an attempt upon my life should be projected by persons whom I had never injured, but who, on the contrary, had already wronged me.

"And what is your advice as to my conduct when the fatal messenger arrives?" I asked.

Razmora's face assumed a fierce look. Shaking his clenched hand at an imaginary palace and bringing it down suddenly upon the table, he exclaimed: "Heap confusion upon their heads—beard the cowardly rabble in the den of their own choosing. Teach them a lesson. Dandelion and I will approach the spot with the stealth of cats on tip-toe and await your arrival. Conceal a trusty sword about your person, as well as a pair of pistols, one loaded with blank cartridges, and we will do likewise. I warrant you and there were fifty of these female knaves, they would all take to their heels at the sight of us. Oh, it would do my old heart good to frighten the she-dragon and the mountebank—they deserve it and a hundred times more—eh, Dandelion?"

It was accordingly agreed that, upon receiving the letter from Professor Dixit, I should inform my friends, who would at once take measures to thwart the base designs of the conspirators.


CHAPTER XII.

General Gullible listens to the History of Petticotia's Downfall—First Symptoms of a Terrible Malady which seized a Nation—Lovely Woman's Revolt—The Deification of the Ballot.


MY secret visits to Razmora hall became frequent and embraced the truly bright hours which I enjoyed during my detention in Petticotia. We conversed upon many subjects of mutual interest. I described America, our people and institutions, the Eagle and my eventful voyage. Razmora, at my request, among other things, narrated the history of the downfall of the Petticotian republic.

"Less than half a century ago," he began, "Petticotia was the boast of every freedom-loving being. The shield of the only true republic which the world had ever known was spread from the tropics to the frigid zone and from ocean to ocean. The oppressed of all nations—those who had long groaned under the pitiless restraint of monarchies—flocked to her shores. They breathed the pure air of her free hills and valleys and boundless plains, and felt their souls revive.

"Petticotia grew rich and benevolent, and as her children multiplied so multiplied her indulgence.

"True, she was not without her passing afflictions. National troubles might arise; commercial crises might come; pestilence might creep like a destroyer in the dark; perchance the crops might fail. But these things came not to stay. Petticotia could smile at them, even through her tears.

"All this was in the golden bygone, for, alas, there came an affliction which was not temporary—a cruel malady whose effects are even now everywhere visible.

"It has been truthfully remarked that nations, as well as individuals, are prone to madness. History mirrors the freaks of these mammoth patients as they strut about in their terrestrial madhouse.

"The worship of progress had reached its height in Petticotia when this unholy spell began to assert its influence over her emasculated citizens. The people who by simple inventions produced results which would have been regarded as supernatural, even miraculous in other days, looked upon changes of the most startling nature as everyday occurrences. Nothing excited their astonishment; they believed all things possible. As an evidence of their credulity, I may mention the fact that to the shrine of medical quackery alone they brought an annual tribute of millions of dollars. Gigantic swindles of every kind—religious, social, political and financial—became the rule. The shrewdness of the Princes of Humbug was exalted as a godlike attribute, even by their victims.

"Need we marvel, then, that the Genius of Mischief selected Petticotia as the theater of his latest high carnival?

"At the waving of his elfish wand a new kind of being sprang into existence. First one and then another and another, like crickets in the wood, they lifted up their doleful chirp.

"They bore the outward semblance of women, but were endowed with masculine minds—I might almost say, masculine natures. Poor spirits unfortunately housed, they were devoured by a perpetual desire to assume the character of man. Their hatred of those who, in the virility of their manhood, found nothing to admire in such freaks of nature, knew no bounds; but such men as proved susceptible to their peculiar influence and, sympathizing with the exceptions, became maudlin over the whole race of woman, they venerated as saints unnecessarily detained on earth.

"From their earliest recollection they were, according to their own confession, disappointed women. As female Ishmaelites, whose hands were destined to be against everybody, they questioned the truth of all things. With the first doubt of her father's absolute wisdom came a distrust of all men's opinions in the heart of each. They resolved, therefore, to recognize no higher authority than their own judgment.

"And, as they grew up, their chirpings became audible to the world at large and rose to a buzz about their own ears, which, they flattered themselves, must be a very tempest in the land—a grand uprising, a new revolution, heralded by a thousand voices and pens. They talked grandiloquently of the injustice which had brooded over the character and destiny of one-half the human race. They made themselves a new standard by which all womankind should be judged, and pronounced their Mene, Tekel upon all who dared to differ with them.

"And as they grew older and gained followers—in a world where every fanatical tenet, every visionary theory, every ism of the hour, finds ready believers—it was observed that vanity and egotism were added to their self-assertion. Their ambition became unbridled. One announced herself as a candidate for the office of senator and enumerated her combined excellencies as we might catalogue those of a horse or a plant. Another, having managed to creep into the judicial fold, wrote in blazing letters wherever she went, 'I am the first and only woman admitted to practice in the supreme court—forget it not when I am a candidate for the chief-justice-ship.' Still another one—an infamous person whom you know as Pantaletta—who had been the Apostle of Free Love in her youth, put on the robes of an angel of purity and, in a foreign land, imposed upon one of the world's greatest men of letters (then unfortunately approaching his dotage) and at his hands received the nomination of perpetual candidate for the Presidency of Petticotia. You marvel that one who has sunk so low should once have aimed so high. I might cite other examples which would cause you not only to marvel but to shudder.

"The enthusiasts of the abnormal brood, not entirely unconscious of the glory which would attach to the act, declared that they would offer up their lives with triumphant thanksgiving if martyrdom could secure the realization of their fantastic dreams. They have, unfortunately, lived to see them realized, without making the sacrifice. Others, thirsting after the fame which they would not be enabled to enjoy after death, compiled huge minutes of their battles with man and infused into the dull mass such eulogies of one another as not only proved highly amusing but displayed an ingenuity which would have done credit to the original mutual admiration society. They gloried in being the most pertinacious incendiaries in the whole country. They attached to their torch-bearings an importance which was superb, informing their awe-struck adherents that it required a heroism which the world had never yet recognized and which the battlefield could not supply.

"They took a fierce delight in conventions, to which they invited mobs at a profitable rate of admission, and characterized their gatherings as divine—as taking hold of heaven, to say nothing of mammon. Pantaletta, I believe, was the keeper of the money-bags and never neglected to remind the friends, before separating, how their noble enterprise might be advanced.

"One of their marked peculiarities was that, personally, each one desired to be considered the perfection of womanly grace and refinement, and this while advocating the obliteration of all distinction between the sexes. Even when brazenly strutting about in man's apparel, they rebelled with indignation the charge of being mannish and unwomanly.

"Their following was of a motley complexion—Christian and atheist, Jew and Gentile, spiritualist and materialist, orthodox and heterodox; even the turbulent elements of communism and free love were not wanting.

"That the leaders were hotly contentious even among themselves, is in evidence. During a serious breach they did not hesitate to hope in public that all wisdom did not die with such and such an one; and especially violent were they when a once ardent disciple became pettish and backslided. Such were withered with a depreciating remark in the minutes, or described as time- serving. So violently did this jar, at times, upon the sensibilities of the male admirers of the fair disputants that some were forced to make the heart-rending announcement that they had but little faith in the movement, because it was not in proper hands and because the proper hands were not yet to be found.

"But however diverse in their religious and other opinions, all members of the new body politic agreed in denouncing the clergy who threw into their midst much holy shot and shell in order to convince them that they were in open rebellion against the Most High. From these tyrants of the pulpit, they declared, came the most determined opposition. 'Instead of taking the truths of the Bible in corroboration of the right, our enemies turn over its pages to find examples and authority for wrong. We see no need to appeal to any written authority, when it is so obscure as to admit of different interpretations. The human mind is greater than any book.'

"In order to insinuate themselves into the favor of the masses, they found it necessary to be Janus-faced. While with one pair of lips they exalted domestic virtues and protested that the best possible employment for women is in the care and management of their own households and the rearing and training up of children, with the other they lost no opportunity to sneer at those who were thus engaged, heaping upon them such epithets as household drudges, blanks and ignorant slaves. When the remorseless purpose of their hearts overcame their caution, they even boldly denied that the first mission of woman is to perpetuate the human race. They claimed that the woman is greater than the wife or mother. So low did the latter sink in their estimation that she did not compare even with inanimate things, judging from flippant babblings like the following: 'Nor does motherhood compare with the lofty ambition and devotion of the artist whose children of the brain beckon her upward into an ideal world of beauty.' Another evidence of their insincerity was that, while on the one hand they declared, 'We do not believe that man is the cause of all our wrongs; we do not fight men, but principles,' on the other it was fiercely reiterated that man had monopolized their rights through calculation, actuated by a spirit of pride, a desire for dominion.

"They spent many fruitless years in endeavoring to frame an original argument in favor of their peculiar position, but were at last obliged to creep, like hermit-crabs, into the armor worn by man, during his battles for humanity at large. They buckled on his declaration, that all men are created equal, first wrapping around themselves some fine verbal linen of their own weaving, such as: 'If man is created equal, then is woman; and if man and woman are created equal, then they must have the right to be alike.' They affected to forget that, although in a certain sense one human being is the peer of all the rest, conditions and limitations exist—such as natural capacity, education, wealth, poverty, ignorance—which in reality place more than one-half the race beneath, even at the mercy of, the other. They disdained to acknowledge that, if governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that consent can be given by all without destroying the family, society, and the distinction between the sexes (which, like the positive and negative qualities of the magnet, once lost, would render man and woman mutually unattractive.)

"Their wild striving after the unattainable, gradually developed a passionate deification of the ballot. They counted everything else chaff—the Bible—the family—society—in the contemplation of this forbidden fruit. Gladly would they go husbandless if allowed to wed this idol of their fancy—this amulet which, like the charm of the savage would protect them against every danger and ill; this Philosopher's Stone, which would turn every base thing into political pure gold; this cure-all, which would bring health, wealth and happiness to all who worshiped it. Their souls seemed possessed of the mania that to make laws is to enforce them, that the age of muscular force is past, and that to say to armed villainy on the highway of life, 'lie down,' is to make lambs of lions.

"The ballot, too, would make them eligible to office, and this was the Ultima Thule of their desires. To hear the legislative halls resounding to their voices, was music sweet even in the contemplation. This one cherished purpose they sought to disguise by adding a thousand-and-one other demands which might please the fancy of the lowly and throw around themselves the halo of championship, such as: 'Freedom to toil; permission to support ourselves; to be held responsible for our deeds; to be respected as a free competitor of man; the abolition of Salic laws; marriage without lordly assumptions and humiliating concessions; the right to sit as jurors; and the organization of courts of conciliation as peacemakers,'—the latter being especially significant.

"'There is,' said they, 'the same necessity for a union in public as in private life. If the woman should not leave her family to go to the legislature, neither should the man; the obligation is mutual. Woman ought to mingle in all the occupations as if physical differences did not exist.' In unguarded moments they acknowledged that they aimed at nothing less than an entire subversion of society."

"And," I made bold to interrupt the narrator, "did the hewers of wood and carriers of water—that vast majority of men who literally earn their bread in the sweat of their brows—also suddenly realize that they were much-abused slaves whose duty it was to bemoan their fate because they were not born women, even heiresses that loll in perfumed chambers?"

Razmora smiled sadly. "Alas, poor fools," said he, "they thought of nothing of the kind. That was left for the softlings who were but men in name.

"The war of words," he continued, "was carried on with vigor from year to year. We contended that such rights as are natural are enjoyed as fully by women as by men. Suffrage is not a natural right, neither does taxation confer it, since minors and aliens who pay taxes may not vote. Such rights as are merely political, women should be relieved from in order that they may attend to greater and more complicated responsibilities. It is between the sexes as between the races, the strongest rules. Man in the legislature is the representative of his district, of non- voters as well as voters, and must watch over the interests of all. As mother of the man-child, woman can instill such high principles into his moral being as shall cause him in his manhood to be just and honorable not only towards his sisters but also towards his brethren. As in governments there must be some recognized head to control and direct, so must there be a controlling and directing power in the family, and who is better fitted to protect the hearthstone than he whose strong arm is able to keep at bay the intruder? The moral field belongs to woman, and in it she exercises ten times more influence for good than she could by becoming a politician. Were married women to vote with their husbands nothing would be gained. Were they to espouse different measures, discord would invade the most sacred of places, for of all human strife that engendered by politics is the most bitter, often ending in bloodshed, even murder. All the efforts of society are for the elevation of woman. Were she to become the railing partisan, that deference which is shown to her would disappear. In the wild race for office the campaign slanderer would not spare even her honor. As far as any claims, other than political, were concerned, we showed that women already enjoyed the privilege of doing everything of which they were capable.

"There were many whose opposition was much more radical. Among these were the clergy, who spoke of woman as an after-thought of the Creator. They held that the laws of god are plainly Salic, and that no lesson is more frequently taught in the Bible than woman's subjection. 'If the Creator had desired the equality of woman,' said they, 'He would have given some token of His will. The original cause of sin was that man gave way to woman, gave up his judgment to her, and therefore the curse fell upon him.' The leading journals of the land described the incendiaries in terms which were designated by the latter as satanic. 'They generally are thin maiden ladies or women who, perhaps, have been disappointed in their endeavors to appropriate the breeches of their unlucky lords. They violate the rules of decency and taste by attiring themselves in eccentric habiliments which hang loosely and inelegantly upon their forms, making that which we have been educated to respect, to love and admire, only an object of aversion and disgust.'"

"And what," I asked, "was the effect of the discussion?"

"When they argued for themselves as men—when they ceased to regard themselves as women, even in theory—their arguments assumed a plausibility which commended itself not only to careless, passive minds, but to some whose profession it was to think. From that moment, however, when we substituted for the mannish disputants pure, maidenly modesty, or shrinking motherhood, their arguments fell to the ground as sophistries. But even sophistry will have its effect, if it be reiterated without ceasing by those who, free from all other ties in life, throw their whole souls into a darling ambition; and its effect will be materially heightened when men who are capable of exposing it remain dumb from a false sense of chivalry."

"True, friend Razmora," I remarked, "I have no doubt but some people could prove to their entire satisfaction that man has a right to inhabit the moon and stars. But would that make him an inhabitant in fact? Just so we may say that woman has a right to be a man, but will that bridge over the difference in sex and all the responsibilities which that difference implies? I am satisfied that the exceptions among women to whom you have frequently alluded, are not to be held strictly accountable for all their doings, since we can measure them by neither the woman's nor the man's standard. Their mistake, or offense, consists in their attempt to recreate women upon an abnormal model. We Americans, too, have had visions of crowing hens who wept because they were not endowed with spurs, and of lowing kine who were almost heart-broken because they were not allowed to drag the plow like bullocks. In all countries and in all civilizations there have been spasmodic outbreaks of this distemper among women. Greece and Rome were familiar with it, and it is even said to have extended back as far as ancient Egypt, when, in its most virulent stage, the husband, in the marriage- ceremony, promised obedience to the wife in all things, and a state of society somewhat resembling Petticotia's would seem to have been among the possibilities. In modern times, France, England and other countries have had the symptoms. Even in the new world, during the beginning of the century, women voted in several states; in some instances, we are told, 'as often as by change of dress or complicity of inspectors they might be able to repeat.'

"It is, therefore, nothing new that these spirits of discord seek to introduce. It is an old and oft-refuted heresy which has always wrought is own destruction when a demonstration of its feasibility was attempted. Its grumbling advocates have only proved that, were we all determined to be maudlin pessimists and turn our backs upon the bright side of life as it is, Utopia itself would be subject to continual tinkering; that, were we to carry our sour dispositions beyond the grave, even heaven would be found to have its drawbacks.

"This is what the vast majority of our women say when approached by the ambitious tempters: 'What, do our husbands then hate their wives and daughters that we must regard them in the light of competitors who would exalt themselves at our expense? Are they monsters that are continually plotting our destruction, or is our welfare their joy, their pride, their aim in life? Are they at best but Bluebeards in disguise, against whom woman must be constantly devising means of safety? Far be it from us to say so; we have not lost faith in the judgment of our father, brothers, and sons.' So unpopular is the idea that it is acknowledged even by the agitators that 'the demand for political rights has not commanded the thought which its merits and dignity should have secured.' Even those who sympathize with them have been known to remark that women will never take the same interest as man in political affairs or find therein an abiding satisfaction; and that man will always lead in the affairs of the intellect and woman in the affairs of emotion.

"We continue, therefore, to develop a womanhood which, by its gentle refinement shall appeal to the heart and affections of man and render him less coarse, more humane, make of him a lover, a friend, a father who would if necessary lay down his life for his loved ones. He rejoices in a home around which cluster all his affections. I seem to see it now: The cosy sitting-room lighted up by a merry reflection from the grate; here a pair of slippers placed in readiness; there, the evening newspapers. Out-of-doors December winds are playing hide-and-seek around the street- corners, while the snow grinds hard and sand-like against the window-panes. There is a quick, well-known step upon the crisp, white doorstep; there is a stampede in the nursery and the cry of 'papa's coming!" pierces all muffling barriers. The dining-room door opens for a moment and we hear the subdued clatter of table ware which is being laid for the evening meal. A sweet tempered, laughing-eyed little woman, whose face is full of intelligence and refinement, steps out into the hallway and meets the loving eyes of him for whom her heart beats first and last—for him whose manly frame now unbends for the accustomed greeting. He felt oppressed by the cares of business, tired in mind and body, until he reached the threshold of his little paradise and breathed the sacred atmosphere which his true-hearted wife had created for both. She is the blessing of our land, this American wife and mother. She cannot be spared; no ambitious hands shall wrest her from us! Her influence in all matters is great and good. Her husband, proud of her good sense, consults with her upon every step which affects the family welfare. And what is she not to the children—those darlings of the dimpled cheeks and laughing eyes which satisfy the chief craving of her nature—each one a living jewel which she wears upon her breast more proudly than diamonds. In after years they shall cherish her memory and bless her good counsel and example."

"I love your country," said Razmora, a softer light stealing into his gray eyes, as if in remembrance of some sacred essence, once known, now departed forever. "But," he continued, recovering his vivacity, "I have spent much time over dead issues, and will resume my narrative of events."


CHAPTER XIII.

Petticotia's History, continued—A Scientific Revolution which paved the Way for the Sixteenth Amendment—The feats of Tyrania the Strong, First Shah of Sheheland—Man's Humiliation—Emigration and Bloody Revolution.


"WHEN the malady had reached a propitious stage," continued Razmora, "Professor Dora Dixit, that same chief of mountebanks with whom we are already acquainted, propagated a theory which did more than all the ingeniously constructed rhetorical flourishes of her sisters to decide the fate of the nation. With inward fear and trembling the latter had beheld laws adopted in every province, which were so just and equitable to both man and woman, that nothing remained to be desired. They dreaded lest there should be left no ground for them to stand upon in their mad worship of the ballot. Oh, for burning wrongs and social horrors to urge them on as champions and enable them with a good grace to gain the goal of their ambition!

"While they besieged the halls of Congress, the chief of mountebanks advanced with confidence, not to say boldness, the scientific tenets of a new school of philosophy which she had founded. It was a moderate task for herself and colleagues to throw the world into chaos and reestablish it upon a new plan. They wagered that they would have produced better results if consulted in the arrangement of the downy-iris, the seasons of light and darkness, and other wise regulations of the Creator. They continually preached to nature upon her imperfections. They adopted the theories of evolution and the descent of man from the lower animals, with such modifications and amendments as in their wisdom they felt constrained to add thereto. The whole formed the basis of a new social order. Said they:

"'In the dimness of millions of centuries past began the tragedy of human existence. After the world had been evolved from nebulae, in the process of ages it arrived at a favorable stage for the development of plants. Then came animated plants and animals. Among the latter two great races of four-footed creatures are observed. One of the groups begins to walk upright and to look with scorn upon the other. Many centuries later the most advanced members of the despised race also walk upon two legs, but the superior form of life has by this time progressed sufficiently to utter broken sentences, to bleach its complexion, to call itself man and woman, and to name the secondary creation monkey. By studying the latter we know the history of the former, and what is the result of our research? We find that at one time the sexes shared the responsibilities of life far more equally than at present. Man took upon him, uncomplainingly, half the labor of the household, and woman enjoyed half the freedom, if not more, outside of the family circle. Even to-day, in a latent state and ready to be developed under certain conditions, there exist in every female all the secondary characteristics of the male, and in every male all the secondary characteristics of the female. Why, for instance, is man endowed with breasts like those of woman, although in miniature? It would take many ages of neglect to obliterate these evidences of his former condition. The fact is, that, while primitive woman gave birth to children, man nursed and cared for them. He gave them suck and kept tender watch over their existence, as is the practice among certain monkey kinds at this very hour. And woman, free from this responsibility, which man had not yet brutally imposed upon her, was at liberty to take an active part in the public assemblies of the tribes and in the government, lending her counsel for war or peace, as her wisdom might dictate. This is the glorious order of affairs that should be reestablished in all civilized nations. Let Petticotia be the first to recognize its wisdom. We know that the majority of men wrong us only through ignorance. Once enlightened in regard to these matters, they will not have the heart further to oppress their sisters. It will not take many generations to readapt man to the nursing of the young which he helps to bring into the world.'

As I have already intimated, the most startling revelations created no great surprise in Petticotia. The more novel the idea, the more ready its belief and adoption.

"The leaders, therefore, found the impregnable gradually becoming pregnable. Committees which, year after year, had framed ironical replies to their petitions, became respectful. Legislators, who had loftily declared that no reason for a separate committee on the rights of women had been assigned, which would not apply with equal force in behalf of a committee on the rights of men, became dumb with admiration. How the hearts of the champions fluttered with excitement! It was coming, coming at last, after decades of weary yearning, scheming and debating. They, who had had the moral courage to say to women who were vastly their superiors in every respect, 'You are ignorant slaves!" now saw the Intelligence of the Nation smiling approval upon their demands. 'The Intelligence of the Nation,' said the astute verbal warriors, 'is centered in the national Legislature, and more particularly in the Senate;' and the Intelligence of the Nation, never more ravishingly flattered, heard their prayers, despite the howls of the rabble. 'If it should appear that woman falls below man in all but the domestic functions,' they continued, in an insinuating manner, 'then it will be well that this experiment has been tried.'

"As leader of the opposition in the Senate, my objections were strenuous, to the last. Among my efforts at conciliation and compromise, I may mention the following: 'Let each woman,' said I 'who finds unbearable the restrictions imposed upon her by her nature, introduce a bill providing that, upon proving before a committee of her own sex that she is unfitted, by physical, mental or other reasons, to enter into the sacred relation of wife and mother, her given name shall be changed from a feminine to a masculine significance, as, Jane Smith to John Smith; and further, that upon such change, she shall be allowed to dress and vote as the man. The female sex could well spare all such, and they might become of some practical use in the world by proving, disproving, how desirable it is for woman to assume the duties and prerogatives of men. Perhaps all womankind might gradually become converted by the practice of what in theory seemed so absurd. To all such bills I promise my hearty approval and support.

"But the philanthropic instincts of the leaders would not allow them to accept what would not be within the reach of every member of the down-trodden sisterhood and especially the happy and contented mothers, or those who could become such. The idea of adopting masculine designations was also repugnant to those women who did not wish to be called even by their husbands' names. And thus, amid great rejoicings, they carried from the capitol the Sixteenth Amendment which conferred upon all their sex the inestimable privilege of political strife.

"Woman was now emancipated from her bonds and free to cease to be woman, if she chose. She was at liberty to monopolize all the employments which require the least exertion and are free from danger. She evinced no desire, however, to dig in the trenches, or to build railways, cathedrals and ships. Gradually, the leaders and philosophers promised, these things would adapt themselves. In the meanwhile, the feminine dress was entirely abandoned by the sex in order that they might mingle, without artificial disadvantages at least, in the pursuits of men. Rank and fashion condescended to acknowledge the change; and then were witnessed some of the most sadly-comical scenes on record.

"Here fat, aristocratic dames puffed and sweated in distressing coats and pantaloons which admirably outlined the generousness of their bodily proportions. The effect was hardly less startling than that of gaunt, flat-chested maiden ladies who, in loosely-fitting attire, stalked by the side of their portly neighbors, like famished scarecrows searching for the land of promise. Mothers in a highly delicate condition looked rather sheepish and frightened in their newly-acquired rights; and equally unfortunate were those who were bow-legged, for their deformity, no longer concealed by ample skirts, was made painfully conspicuous. Those who had been ballet dancers and burlesque actresses fared best; they capered nimbly about and declared that it was nothing—everybody would get accustomed to it soon.

"Man moved about in a feverish manner, accompanied by his new shadow. He and his wife now shared their labors alike, when the nature of his occupation permitted it. The women of the lower classes complained bitterly because their husbands were but too willing to avail themselves of the new division of labor.

"The day's work done, many who could afford it lodged at the hotels, for it was irksome to attend to household affairs after expending all one's energies in another direction. The children, if the man and his shadow were unfortunately afflicted with any, regarded them with large, frightened eyes, at table. There was so little difference between their mother and the other loudly- disputing, self-absorbed women. Poor little ones, who was there to attend to the wants of their budding natures? Who to direct their thoughts aright? God help them, their mother is now a superior creature who cannot be tied down by such trifles. And if they grow up selfish, unprincipled, without a spark of human kindness for a fellow-creature, perhaps vicious and depraved—what does it matter?

"But as time rolled on the sweetness of the experiment began to cloy upon many palates. Woman, constantly at her partner's side, subject to the cares, anxieties and hardships which his native vigor enabled him to brave with ease, lost her freshness and grew old rapidly. She was in truth a second-rate man, and more heartily despised than ever by her wealthy sister who still lolled in daily idleness, despite the change in her costume. Man was equally at a disadvantage in the household, and lent his assistance with a blundering hand. Although convinced of the truth of the chief mountebank's theory, he could not yet bring himself to put it into practice, much as the most ambitious among women desired him to submit in this respect. His spirits gradually drooped, disgust took possession of his soul, and at times he thoughtlessly heaved a sigh which he could not explain.

"It was found also that, in spite of the laws so favorable to women as a class, despite the inestimable privilege of the ballot, the poor and the weak were still unhappy; for, in accordance with the law of the survival of the fittest, the strong and powerful will always trample upon the weak competitor. Heretofore strong men trampled upon weak men, handsome women upon the less attractive; but now that woman had arrayed herself as a competitor, not only against the beauty of her sister, but against the muscle of the man, her lot was far from improved. Owing to their natural disadvantages, the helpless among women were made still more helpless.

"Then, again, the male inhabitants who had sworn defiance to the new order of things, were not all dead in the land. I was in the front ranks of these and when the murmurings of discontent grew louder and louder, we lost no time in resuming our warfare, hoping that soon we might see from afar a glimpse of returning reason.

"The late victors trembled lest, after all, the timid common herd should fail in all but the domestic functions. They warned the women against treason to principles and vehemently denounced all men who dared to breath a syllable of dissatisfaction in the very dawn of the new civilization. We succeeded, however, in creating an intense excitement by our appeals to slumbering manhood.

"When our old enemies had exhausted every ingenuity of argument and entreaty and were upon the verge of despair, in the face of the troubled waves which refused to be still, there arose in their behalf a new star in the east, Tyrania the Strong, she who was destined to become the first Shah of Sheheland. Although of ordinary stature, she was a giantess in strength and freely challenged to combat anything masculine that walked the face of the earth. To those who dared brave a physical encounter with her large sums of money were offered as prizes, but not one ever arose to claim the meed of his prowess. She felled each man as a lioness might a cur, and the saying went abroad that her strength was so great that she could throw two men with as great an ease as she could one, and that half-a-dozen ordinary men would be to her in single-handed combat, as a litter of pups, tossed with ease wherever she pleased to bestow their insensible remains. This prodigy of strength declared herself the very head and forefront of the wavering revolt.

"All women, she claimed, were as strong as herself in their unenslaved and natural condition. To shake off the yoke and keep it off, therefore, was to become strong. The women wept for joy and hailed her as the savior of the sex. Her teachings were universally accepted, and every soul that believed made a vow to become like Tyrania, untrammelled and powerful.

"And as they felt themselves growing stronger and stronger, and man growing weaker and weaker, there came a consciousness that, inasmuch as woman was evidently the superior of man, and, inasmuch as her strong arm was necessary to enforce the laws and combat the evils which threatened the public weal, to her belonged the right to assume the guidance of the human family. Her strength entitled her to take the lead in all affairs—to act as the head of creation. Man, divested of his long pretended superiority and now remarkable for his gentler traits, said Tyrania, should be relieved of all public cares and political responsibilities and remanded to that same domestic sphere to which he once unrighteously condemned woman. The leaders, with gleeful thanksgivings, applauded these ideas which they praised as even more radical than those of the chief mountebank.

"Argue with a falling mountain; ask the cyclone to take another path; bid the hurricane lie down; lull the ocean's turgid wrath; curb the lightning—but attempt not to heal the madness of a nation.

"Tyrania was chosen President of the republic, to the discomfiture of each veteran in the cause. The women, aided by a sufficient number of softlings, elected females to all the existing offices, by overwhelming majorities. The late lords of creation were swept from the political chess-board.

"A man in all but sex, a fanatic in the cause, a male-hater, this, and much more, was Tyrania the Strong. Her cabinet was a judiciously selected one, and, in obedience to a prophetic vision, she strengthened the army tenfold, binding the rugged men-soldiers (for women had not developed sufficiently to bear arms as yet) with an ironclad oath to do their duty, even to the extent of exterminating the refractory among their sex. Overwhelmed with seductive promises, fired by the prevailing infatuation, these sons of Mars raised their glistening bayonets in the air and shouted lustily for her who in her wrath could punish half-a-dozen men.

"In secret council the rulers determined that the new division of the spheres should immediately take effect, and, when the curious laws by which the country is misgoverned to this day were adopted, a wild shout of approbation went up from the emancipated.

"The majority of men were somewhat sobered by this master- stroke of the new administration. The one thing which, most of all stung them to the quick, was this: The rampant readjusters of things mundane had actually robbed them of the name of man, substituting for that noble word another, Heshe.

"Many thousands had long ere this departed from the country, and fully one-half of those who remained now determined upon voluntary exile—for a new and uninhabited country had just been discovered in which it was said diamonds abounded in such quantities that, were they gathered and placed upon the markets of the world, the gem would sensibly depreciate in value. Seized with the diamond fever, feeling each manly spark rekindled within their breasts, six million henpecked souls shook the dust of Petticotia off their feet forever.

"I may here remark that my household, too, was laid waste by the general lunacy. My wife had long since emerged from the domestic yoke and was at this time a prominent spirit in the camp of the enemy. Tyrania had appointed her to the position of Postmaster-General, an office which had already become vacant by reason of the chaos into which the original incumbent had thrown the postal service. We had an only daughter; she was my idol and I lavished upon her a father's affections, fondly hoping that, under my care, she at least should grow up a woman in the true sense of the word. Ah, well! It was not to be. She, too, was drawn into the vortex by hands that once were gentle and full of tenderness for me. Mother and daughter both were lost to my view.

"I was too proud to desert my country—foolish as it may seem, I still entertained the hope that the present fever would at some future day burn itself out—consuming those who were foremost in the wrecking of their country.

"Among the six million abject beings, properly designated as heshes, who now remained in Petticotia and were as dough in the hands of eighteen million women, there still were left five thousand men who thought as I did and who refused to bend the knee to Tyrania. At my call they assembled in Sumar Viteneliz, where we issued a proclamation, stamping the existing government as infamous and enjoining upon all good citizens resistance to its monstrous decrees. To such we promised protection; to all others, if need be, red-handed opposition.

"Although our determination spread terror among the more timid inhabitants of the city, the dark-haired Hecate who sat in the presidential chair waxed only more terrible in her deep-seated rage. She summoned the troops and commanded them to swear again the ironclad oath. "I myself will lead you in the extermination of those wretches,' said she, 'unless they crawl before us with ropes of penitence about their vile necks!'

"That such a ceremony was little suited to our republican tastes, I need not emphasize. Least of all would it have suited the blood of the Razmoras and the Phalanx-Breakers—eh, Dandelion? in answer to their proposition we announced our determination of taking possession of the capitol buildings early next morning.

"The streets drank greedily of the blood of the two factions. We, who would have scorned to use violence against women, fought with unconquerable fury against thrice our number of male traitors and hirelings. The conflict was a terrible one. I verily believe we would have succeeded in annihilating the guard of dishonor, had not reenforcements come to their aid.

"Breathless and bleeding, our little band was at last forced to retire. We took possession of a large block of warehouses and fortified our position within. Three more hand-to-hand engagements took place during the next three days, and each succeeding day saw our foe increase two-fold, while not a cur rallied to our aid. We hailed each downy-iris with fainter hopes of success. During one of the conflicts I should certainly have met my death had it not been for the undying bravery of my noble friend, Sir Archibald. Two of the enemy were upon me. While I dispatched one the other knocked me senseless. Quick as thought, while several others were clustering about me, my faithful ally, who rarely left my side, drew forth a box of red pepper and emptied it into the eyes of my assailants. During the confusion which ensued he dragged me to a place of safety.

"Upon the morning of the seventh day we beheld advancing upon us several pieces of artillery, with which the enemy was preparing to demolish the building. The alternative was to surrender. Our last ammunition spoke only as did our first.

"In obedience to Tyrania's fierce command, the guns began their hoarse havoc. Shot after shot came crashing through the walls. We gathered up our dying friends and removed them from one wing to another, as roof after roof fell upon us, burying hundreds in the ruins. From the windows, at a safe distance, shrieking viragos, like those who forget their inborn cowardice in the midst of butchering communists, applauded the bloody work. Maddened by the sight and resolved to die while grappling a dozen traitors, I rushed from our last retreat, followed by the remaining eight hundred of our band. The final struggle was of brief duration. At noon that day six hundred and fifty prisoners were under guard. Over four thousand patriots had met a glorious death. Nearly twice that number of mercenaries bore them company.

Our trial followed and was very short. Five hundred and fifty privates were sentenced to imprisonment for life. The officers and ringleaders were condemned to death without mercy.

"All too soon we found ourselves marching with clanking chains to the beheading-block on President's Square, escorted by scowling hirelings and a rage-inflamed mob of Amazons. We arrived upon the spot where you but recently gazed death in the face, and, standing there, calmly awaited our doom.

"In those last moments of agony I might have forgiven them, perhaps, had I been allowed to see the child that once called me father, to kiss her for the last time, and to assure her that I cursed her not for her sex. But my wish was not gratified.

"Head after head rolled into the baskets, fresh from the gory axes, the executioners (who alternately relieved each other) being selected from the victorious troops. The most prominent rebels, as we were styled, were reserved for the last. Sickened by the dull thud of spouting trunks upon the slippery scaffold, I secretly wished the bloody drama over, when a light touch upon my arm arrested my meditations. One of the female under-sheriffs showed my guards an order signed by Tyrania and bade me follow. I was thrilled with a sudden sensation—not that I thought of escape—oh no, I was not a coward—but it seemed as if they were about to heed my last request after all—as if I was to see my little one ere I parted from the world.

"I was brought before the President. At her feet I found my wife shedding tears and murmuring her gratitude. My sentence, I was informed, had been changed to life imprisonment, at the earnest solicitation of the worthy Postmaster-General.

"I staggered as if struck a mortal blow, and, recovering myself, coldly declined the proffered mercy. I demanded to be led back to where my few surviving comrades were awaiting their turn with calm indifference. Unless these were pardoned also, I stood upon the right to expiate my sentence. She who once was my wife implored me to avert the disgrace which would fall upon my family, but I remained firm.

"Seeing my determination, the President consulted with the officer who had brought me, and, after much deliberation, grimly announced that such of my fellow-conspirators as might still be unexecuted when the messenger reached the scaffold should share my fate. Then, with a sinister smile, she made out another order and directed the under-sheriff to serve it on foot.

"When that humane being at last arrived at the scene of the massacre the last doomed soul was about to be led forward to where the bloody executioners were panting for breath. Need I say that the solitary survivor was my gallant friend, Sir Archibald Dandelion?

"After this came years of agony which I will not attempt to describe. Seasons of light and darkness came and went while we remained entombed alive. Gaunt and haggard, we watched the slow hour-glass of time together—Dandelion and I. Glazed and fixed became our looks as we eked out the tenure of our living death. Now and then the female jailers brought us news of some fellow-prisoner at last enrolled among the martyrs.

"One day, after centuries it seemed, we awoke as from a dream. Fourteen years were marked in the calendar rudely carved upon the stone walls of our cell (among the geometrical figures wrought by Dandelion) when we were led forth. Arrayed in new masculine raiment, for we would have perished naked ere yielding upon this point, we were borne, like specters from another world, toward the scene of our siege and battles. I recognized the locality by the streets we traversed, although when we halted we could see no vestige of the old block which we had so dearly defended. In its place stood the present palace of the President!

"Up the high marble steps we tottered. Then we were taken, almost fainting, through chambers of such gorgeous aspect that it seemed almost as if death had at last deigned to bring us into another world. A few steps further and I heard a wild, almost heart-broken cry—two arms were about my neck—tears and kisses and broken exclamations were showered upon me. Methought my feeble heart—if spirits can have hearts—would cease to beat, for I was face to face with my long-lost child—she who now is President of Petticotia.

"My fatherly affections conquered my hoary prejudice, as she called it. It was solely to relieve her mind from the terrible consciousness of being her father's jailer, that I consented and caused Sir Archibald to consent—eh, Dandelion?—to the wearing of our present obnoxious garb, for without compliance with the law there was for us no pardon, even if the Chief Magistrate had cringed for it. We accepted our liberty, although there were several stipulations which we insisted upon."

Here a servant announced that tea was ready below. "Ah," said my host, "let us partake of the cheer which Razmora hall affords, and then I will resume the strange history of Petticotia, if I have not already fatigued you. Since our release Dandelion and I have been busily engaged in collecting materials for a book upon the subject."


CHAPTER XIV.

The history of Petticotia's Downfall, concluded—The Shehes Divide the Luxury Known as Heshe—Various Vexing Problems solved—Battles of the Swallowtails and Cutaways—Rise of the Goldhaters.


"LET us go back to the reign of Tyrania the Strong," continued Razmora, "to the time when man—that hideous spectacle in silks and ribbons—first learned to laugh at the purloiners of his pantaloons until the silly tears made furrows in his painted cheeks.

"Scarcely had the uprising of the five thousand been effectually crushed when there was secretly formed among the women a faction of rabid monarchists, at whose head stood Pantaletta, the disappointed perpetual candidate for the presidency. Their ideal government was a kingdom, and, knowing that the army was the most powerful factor in the political affairs of the day, they concluded to make overtures to the leading general of the male hirelings, pointing toward his elevation to the throne. His valor in saving the capital and the government had, they assured him, enshrined him in the popular affections. Little did he dream that a pit was being prepared for his ambition, when he listened to his flatterers, and that at the bottom of the pit there waited for him a scaffold and a gleaming ax. It was even so; I am convinced that it was through the treachery of Pantaletta that his plans were made known to Tyrania. The latter sprang like an infuriated beast upon the guilty wretch and all those who could be identified with his treason. Then followed the gradual abolition of the male army (for there was danger in its strength) and the extensions of the rights and prerogatives of the executive.

"With no skilled producers in the industrial arts, Petticotia's business interests gradually approached stagnation, and the suffering among the working classes became great. The government, not a little alarmed by the cries for bread, caused the least degenerate among the men to cooperate for a time with their female masters and to teach the latter the rudiments of the neglected occupations. In time perfection was looked for among the new artisans, not only because of their superior strength, as yet undeveloped, but on account of their present superior complexity of organization. Many of the more sober-minded, however, and especially those women who applied themselves to the heroic tasks, were convinced that the sex's heyday of strength was yet afar off. It was impossible for them to prosecute the heavier forms of labor, such as the manufacture of gigantic machinery, the smelting of ores and the building of iron ships. Building operations were carried on by female convicts, sentenced to this and other degrading forms of work. The government, supported by the school of philosophers, in the meanwhile, despaired not.

"Another serious question which arose was how to provide every woman with a husband, since there remained but one male for every three females in the land. There was at first much diversity of opinion among the philosophers as to the method by which justice might be done to all, but the question was triumphantly solved by the chief mountebank, who frowned down free love and other reprehensible theories, and proposed a simple problem in arithmetic: 'Divide the amount of heshes on hand equally among the shehes,' was her advice. 'Let a law be passed making it legal, even compulsory, for one heshe to be married to three shehes. This, in time, will provide each shehe who has a weakness for such trifles with at least one-third of the luxury, quell heshe insubordination in the family, distribute child-bearing among a greater number, and remedy the social evil, which, according to the last message of the President, is increasing with alarming rapidity.' It is hardly necessary to add that the law was soon enacted.

"The next vexed problem solved by the philosophers was, 'How shall we lessen the burdens of maternity and enable the shehe to devote more of her time to the important affairs of life?' The many freaks of her nature interfered sadly with the new duties which devolved upon the man-woman. Her enforced absences made her success in business rather uncertain at times, and trade and commerce were carried on with anything but confidence-inspiring steadiness. The practice of going quick with child while engaged in the various occupations was found to result in frequent injury, especially among the lower classes. The plan of relief proposed by the chief mountebank, and adopted after exhaustive discussions, was as follows:

"Henceforth all business was to be suspended during the period of darkness, which is equal to one hundred and eighty-two days. Upon its approach all persons of the male sex in the eastern provinces were to emigrate westward beyond the twentieth degree of longitude. All persons of the female sex residing in the provinces west of this boundary were to join their sisters in the east. Thus the complete separations of the sexes would be accomplished. It was to be a capital offense, punishable with death only, for heshe or shehe to break this isolation during the season specified. They were to be regarded as dead to each other, until the day upon which all might return to their homes. During this general seclusion the shehes were to care for those about to become mothers and devote themselves to healthful recreation and rest, in order that, upon returning to the stern realities of life, their energies might be found refreshed and invigorated, and their physical superiority over the males made more apparent. The heshes were to perfect themselves in the art of household management, and to acquire taste in dress, as well as ease of deportment. As the nation's nurses, they were to receive by express all the babes born in the east; such transfers to be made, a few days after the birth of each innocent, by sworn government officials of venerable age who were to be exempt from the penalty described by law for those who crossed the great boundary in the wrong direction. 'This law,' said the framer, 'will solve the question of maternity—a question which has long distressed the dominant sex. By the strict enforcement of the measure, the child-bearing period will be made to fall, in the great majority of cases, within the one hundred and eighty- two days of rest, thus removing from the shehes the inconveniences arising from pregnancy during the season devoted to business and the affairs of state.'

"But let us take a glance at the government. With no home industries to foster it had fallen into free trade habits, importing from abroad everything which could not be manufactured at home. A large shrinkage in the revenues was the natural result, so that the President found herself compelled to meet deficits by increased direct taxation.

"The masses wrung the hearts of the tax-gatherers with much unpatriotic abuse, so that the authorities, when it reached their ears, became sorely vexed and impatient. It had been hoped that every women in the land would be proud to suffer a trifle at first, in order that the superiority of the sex might be demonstrated, and, low! the stupid plebeians were grumbling already. Had not everything been done to establish their dignity? and, in return, the taxes were too high!

"In the midst of the tempest the Postmaster-General arose and proposed the following scheme: 'Abolish all increase of taxation, and raise the additional revenues by confiscating the property of those six million heshes who have maliciously expatriated themselves.' The cabinet was delighted; even Tyrania acknowledged the brilliancy of the idea.

"At this time the Swallowtails were in power. The Cutaways, a party composed of the more turbulent elements among the population, had of late begun to howl dismally over the 'ruinous policy of the pampered corruptionists who suck the country's life-blood, like leeches, in the legislative halls of Sumar Viteneliz.' They made promises, too, concerning the return of pure and honorable public servants at the next election. When it came to pass, therefore, that the republic applauded the wisdom of the new Swallowtail measure, the Cutaways grew very red with mortified pride and secretly debated as to what tune they should howl next.

"The general confiscation netted almost, if not quite, five billion dollars (not to mention what clung to the fingers of the confiscators) and made the administration the idol of the people. The result was that at the impending elections the Swallowtail party elected not only its old President, but a fair majority of senators and representatives.

"In view of the general prosperity the government now turned its attention to the 'further amelioration of all classes of society,' in the language of the party's platform.

"The law which provided for the separation of the sexes during the period of darkness was declared to work satisfactorily, albeit great mortality among the infants was unavoidable until they should become more accustomed to transportation at a tender age. This was deplorable, since foreign immigration had long since ceased and the nation's existence rested entirely upon domestic resources.

"The law which guaranteed to each female at least the one- third part of a husband was gradually observed, although with rather childish grumbling from some of the so-called weaker vessels.

"The philosophers were ready with a number of new schemes for the general welfare of the country.

"'The Petticotians,' said they, 'are essentially an aesthetic race. The genius of the nation, so long strangled by the inferior heshes, is ready to assert its godlike supremacy. True, the lower grades of our sex will in time excel mainly in feats of strength and endurance; but the majority of shehes are too intelligent for drudgery; these will aim to rank foremost in the highest walks of life. To develop the national impulse shall be the care of the government. There is no reason why Petticotia shall not act as poet, painter, philosopher, scientist, sculptor, musician and author in general to the world at large—to those many countries whose governments are in the hands of base heshes. These heshes, who brag of what their sex has accomplished in thousands of years, shall see that it is in reality but little compared with what we are prepared to achieve in a short lifetime. Let there be erected, therefore, at public expense, buildings throughout the land wherein these things shall be taught. There shall be schools, academies, conservatories, and galleries of art, for the millions. All aesthetic shehes shall find employment and remuneration—the latter to be obtained from the sale of their productions in other lands. Foreign heshe nations, finding themselves relieved (by the impossibility of successful competition) from all tasks involving the study of the beautiful in nature and art, will naturally turn their brute force to the production of baser necessities of life, which we will condescend to accept in exchange for our works of art.'

"Amid the loud approving shouts of the people, the government studded the land with the desired institutions. These public buildings were designed by female architects, erected by female convicts and other members of the rougher families, and in several instances, when completed, fell and killed female geniuses."

"No doubt, my dear Razmora," I ventured, "the civilized world was soon flooded with masterpieces excelling the 'Iliad' of Homer, the 'Paradise Lost' of Milton, the 'Hamlet' of Shakespeare, the 'Jupiter' of Phidias, the 'Transfiguration' of Raphael, and the 'Elijah' of Mendelssohn?"

"As to that," replied the narrator, with an amused smile, "I cannot speak with certainty, as I am rather unacquainted, as yet, with the greatest expressions of your country's genius. But this I do know, that the government is still developing the national impulse, and that the shehes of Petticotia are more confident than ever of putting to blush the pigmy efforts of past ages.

"Many of the superior beings who had no talent for purely aesthetic callings, devoted themselves to a pastoral life, such as they had read about in poetry and prose. Agriculture, they promised, should soon be counted among the fine arts. Their efforts were seconded by an enthusiastic minister of agriculture, whose pet hobby was that cocoa-nuts could be profitably cultivated in the most northern extremity of Petticotia. He also saw no reason why the rural scenes of operas and plays could not be reproduced in real life.

"With this exaltation of the common vocations came a rage for high-sounding titles, so that every second female you meet at the present day is professor or Doctor of something. What had once been plain barber became a tonsorial professor; the cobblers turned into Doctors of Footwear; the country-woman is a Professor of Husbandry. But two blocks from her, upon a narrow, dirty street, you may observe at leisure a dingy sign which announces that 'Prof. Lucretia Jones, Repairer of Umbrellas and Grinder of Scissors,' is ready to be consulted within.

"The men-women, too, were gradually fitted into their new surroundings. They washed, ironed, baked, mended, and acquired all the other knacks of the house-keeper's art; but by far the greater number devoted themselves to lives of voluptuous ease and fashion. The care of children became the chief occupation of those whose superior consorts found time to become mothers. With two, or even three, infants on their hands, in extreme cases of ill-luck, their situation became truly critical. The overwhelming amount of labor thus devolving upon some caused them to invent curious appliances and machines for domestic use, which reduced their tasks materially and gave thousands who had no babes to watch over an opportunity to pass half their time in reading novels, thrumming insipid music, studying the latest styles of trains, or acquiring the fascinating art of flirting; for, be it remembered, a heshe who had but one wife (they say consort), was at liberty to entertain additional proposals until he had accepted his full quota of domestic tyrants.

"But, alas, the liberality—or extravagance—of the government did not fail to exhaust the treasury in a few years. The great palace of the President, her colossal statue which the sculptors said would last forever, the park and the forest, were but half completed when the new crisis fell like a thunderbolt among happy galaxies of artists, pastoral swains and other ideal inhabitants, who had supposed the public purse unfathomable.

"The Swallowtails were lost in perplexity, even with bankruptcy staring them in the face. The Postmaster-General once more arose in the midst of chaos and proposed a saving scheme. But it so happened that Tyrania, full of desire for a third presidential term, was filled with envy of the Postmaster- General, who was already mentioned as a favorite of the approaching convention. The scheme was, therefore, upon various pretexts, neglected; whereupon the thus insulted member of the Cabinet resigned and refused to be reconciled to the administration; refused, even when Tyrania had been renominated, to enter the contest and speak in behalf of her party's choice.

"And when election day came the Swallowtails were found sadly demoralized. The Cutaways, frog-bellied with their newest cry, carried the day. Simultaneous with the announcement of her overwhelming defeat came the news of the ex-President's death. 'Heart disease,' was the laconic explanation. With this simple phrase the discreet physician throws the mantle of charity over many a mystery.

"The ex-Postmaster-General, I am reliably informed, became inaccessible to her old friends and associates, and, at the end of three years, died in strict seclusion. During this time she had assiduously trained her daughter to become her political Nemesis.

"The Cutaways, suddenly elevated to heights which they had bayed at so long, were overcome by the novelty of their position and felt a strange fear that, after all, they might prove unequal to the task of succoring their distressed country. This fear proved all too well founded, for, after raising and dashing the public hope for the hundredth time, they were forced to acknowledge that they knew of no policy whereby the people could be restored to prosperity.

"It was at this critical time that my little Lillibel, imbued with her mother's once neglected scheme, entered the political field at the head of a new party, called the Goldhaters.

"Money, argued the orators of the Goldhaters, would buy everything; therefore, to be prosperous, a nation needed but a good supply of that article. But how was it to be obtained? It must be manufactured, came the reply—printed upon crisp paper by the government presses; those who waited for it to grow upon trees would die poor. If the government could print it legally, why should Congress wait until it arrived in the treasury as revenue? All that was necessary to relieve the present crisis was to run the presses diligently and print a generous supply. Then the government could pay its debts and circulate the currency among the common people. Everybody could then buy what was needed and prosperity and happiness would be the result. As to the money itself, every dollar issued should be as good as gold, an honest promise to pay, secured by the plighted faith of the nation.

"'But,' asked some idiotic members of the old parties, 'when will you redeem these promises?'

"'Never!' triumphantly replied the Goldhaters, 'for therein lies the efficacy of our new theory. What the country needs is money; not for one year, or for ten, but for all time. Shall we, then, deliberately destroy this currency again by redeeming it? The idea is preposterous! Is not a promise to pay an honest promise so long as it is kept to the very letter? When many years have elapsed and our political enemies hear us say: we revoke our promise; the government ceases to pay—then, but not until then, let them yelp in derision.'

"The enthusiasm of the people was great. Old party affiliations were forgotten by the masses and the Goldhaters were victorious at the polls.

"Prophets might croak of wreck and ruin to come, but the Goldhaters only smiled pityingly and fed the greedy printing machines.

"Money fell upon the inhabitants like rain. Trade and commerce held up their heads like grass after refreshing showers. Ships returned in squadrons from foreign climes, laden with luxuries and the products of many factories; for the nations which could not as yet be prevailed upon to accept our works of art, were only too happy to exchange their commodities for the money which was as good as gold.

"The new government proved not a whit less liberal than its predecessors in providing for the national culture. The schools, conservatories and galleries of art continued to flourish, the ruralists were steeped in pastoral bliss, and the presidential palace and its adjuncts were completed—the statue, I am happy to know, only to belie the boast of its projectors, for the unaccountable accident with which superstition once linked your name, has disfigured it beyond repair. Would that the fall of the marble Tyrania were indeed the signal for the collapse of all that is false in Petticotia.

"And thus we come to the republic of to-day, as you found it upon your arrival. Once thing I may mention, in conclusion, and that is that there is a growing tendency among Petticotians to slight the money which is as good as gold. While they still buy with it at par in other countries—strange as it may seem—when receiving payment from foreigners they invariably demand gold."

"And what," I asked my host, "have you discovered in regard to the character and habits of the people in their new relations?"

"The females," replied Razmora, "have inherited with the pantaloons all the vices and wickedness of men. They drink, gamble, and ape every dissipation of which they ever imagined man guilty. They not only chew, snuff and smoke tobacco, indulge in racing prize fighting, stocks, and other costly iniquities, but frequent dens of infamy in hordes; for man has now become the sex from which stainless purity is required. The social ethics laws demand that every male inhabitant shall render an oath as to his character each year. If proven guilty of perjury, he is beheaded without delay; if confessedly fallen, he at once sinks to that social infamy to which society, in order to protect itself, was once forced to condemn his fallen sister."

"One would suppose that the separation of the sexes during half the year would prove of inestimable benefit, physically at least," I ventured.

"Alas," returned Razmora, "it must be borne in mind that after each period of rest comes a Saturnalia of excesses. It is raging around us even now, and could we see it in all its hideousness we might well stand aghast. It is indicated by the criminal calendars in the courts, which show an increase of all kinds of offenses, murder being a common charge.

"The attitude of women toward those degraded creatures once called men, is patronizing and domineering in the extreme, when love does not render them incapable to command. With often no less than three masters to obey, you can imagine the harmony which men enjoy. The latter are but a trifle more coarse than were many of the females of other days. They rub villainous snuff on their gums, chew fatty and resinous substances, paint their faces, eat arsenic for the complexion, and practice many other follies which I am not familiar with."

"And how fare the people in regard to religious matters?" I asked.

"Religion is at a discount in Petticotia to-day. There is a fashionable sort of gewgaw which passes for public worship, but it is rather a concert in which the choir displays its culture, the clergywoman her gorgeous vestments, and imbecile man the thing he once ridiculed, namely, a bonnet. The scriptures, in common with all other literature, have been revised and expurgated until but little of the original remains; for the Bible, too, must suit the times. The worship of art is the real religion of Petticotia, although superstition claims many votaries among the more ignorant classes. Such is the present generation; what the future will bring forth remains to be seen."


CHAPTER XV.

General Gullible becomes a Party to a curious and somewhat exciting Adventure which the President of Petticotia has with a certain Captain of the Guards.


IT was yet early evening when I arrived at the palace, after parting from Razmora and Dandelion. The strange things to me revealed that afternoon occupied my thoughts to such an extent that I approached the entrance to my quarters before I was aware of the circumstance. I should probably have opened the door, mechanically, had not my attention been attracted by the two trusted female servants who usually attended the President during her secret visits.

"She followed us hither like a cat and demanded admittance—I could not bar her way," moaned one. "She is much stronger than I," sobbed the other.

At the same moment I became aware that more than one visitor awaited me within.

"Oh, you love him and would risk your life to see him!" sneered a harsh voice. "I thought as much. For this, then, have the affairs of state fallen into decay! For this, hundreds of important matters lie neglected, even forgotten, upon the chief magistrate's desk! For this, the most horrible shehes in the land are denied audience! You a President!—you a Shah of Sheheland! Heaven forbid! The butcher's brat who brings our beefsteaks to the barracks, has more shehehood to entitle her to the position! Read the journals of the day—see what is thought of your strange behavior, your fits of abstraction, your frequent indisposition in the evening and your cold indifference to heshes whose social positions should at least entitle them to respectful attention, if not to little acts of gallantry, at your hands. Oh, the people are not as mole-eyed as you flatter yourself! But there is one consolation—if you dare to aspire to another term of office, you will be more deeply disappointed than was your proud shehe-parent—for the disgust which already rankles in the breasts of many will be general before another election day. What will it not be when they know—as they shall—that the rich, red lips and pearly teeth of this baby face before me, are guilty of uttering perjury—perjury, in breaking the very laws which they solemnly promised to execute!"

"Captain Pantaletta," returned another voice, tremulous with emotion, "again do I ask you to leave these apartments—to depart from the palace. Dare nevermore to throw your treasonable shadow across its portals, or I shall crush you as I would a bloodless fly that falls under my heel. I thought you at least friendly towards this administration, but I was deceived, for you are a serpent. Spare me another sight of your ugly face—go, or I shall send for the guards and they shall throw one of their superior officers down stairs, out of the window—anywhere!"

"Now may the devil clap a mortgage on my soul (if soul and devil there be) but for this affront here shall be revenge, indeed! You command me to quit the palace—me, who, undefrauded of my rightful inheritance, would to-day be ruler of Sheheland in fact, as I am in spirit! Shall I, who have grown gray in the service of the shehes, hear this thing? I, who have met the brunt of a thousand battles with once unconquered reptiles and who have received nothing from the kid-gloved hand of favor in return, shall be forcibly ejected, forsooth! Oh, Pantaletta, Pantaletta—nominated for the office before this upstart was hatched, and to be flouted thus! Nay, were you not too insignificant, I hold my life so cheap in this thankless world that I might lay my hand upon this trusty sword and become—"

"A traitor in deed, as you are already at heart—as you were in the days of Tyrania! Long, long ago, might I have produced the proofs against you, but I spared you, unwilling to soil my hands with vermin such as you."

There was a pause, a rustling of silks, and then the passionate speech was supplemented by the monosyllable, "Go!"

"Then you refuse to transfer the prisoner into my keeping—you refuse to give up your unhallowed passion, and will not return to your duties as ruler of Petticotia—you prefer impeachment and disgrace?"

"I both refuse and prefer," came the answer. "Inform those who are like you, bloodhounds by nature. I tell you once for all, my soul holds him so dear that, ere I would consent to the harming of one hair upon his head, I would brave every indignity which your infamous dress-laws could heap upon me—I would praise myself rich if, in return for my devotion—my wild adoration—I could win one slight expression of love from him—even though this head rolled at my feet the next moment! But you dare not expose me, Captain Pantaletta. Your sins would rise in your throat and strangle you, if you attempted to reveal what you have seen."

"Ah, indeed!" again sneered the latter. "And you hope to bask forever in the smiles of this idol of yours. You are secure if I am silent. You will continue to offer at his shrine the world's choicest luxuries—you will suffocate him with the incense of your love. You will anticipate his slightest whim—you will dress to please him, even, shall I say, un—? There, spare your blushes, for I am dumb. But, suppose an accident should overtake this discreet object of your wooing," (how she gloated, in anticipation, over my sudden taking-off!) "Or, let us suppose that he should prefer his freedom to a gilded cage and another shehe to yourself? Let us suppose, for a moment, an elopement, a mysterious disappearance!" I could almost see the leer which accompanied these insinuations.

"I will stake my life upon General Gullible's honor!" vehemently broke forth the President. "But what is that to you? Begone, I am weary of wasting breath upon you!"

"Oh, you will never part with him—you will always find him, like a little idol, propped up in his place—no one will dare to molest him, for your sake!" continued the tormentor. "He will learn to love you in time, perhaps. He will forget his coldness and you will both be happy."

"I hope so."

"You hope so? Cursed be the tongue that first said it! Oh, that I had fewer other wrongs to avenge, I would make it impossible for you to confess as much!"

"Help! Help! You would not murder me, oh monster of wickedness! Down, down upon your knees—I am your President!"

"Yes, down upon your knees!" I echoed, opening the door and entering suddenly. "Down upon your knees and crave pardon, wretched being whose hands are already stained with blood."

Her baleful eyes seemed to start from their sockets, reminding me of Smilax, the executioner. She breathed with difficulty and, clutching her sword convulsively, waved me off, as if I were a phantom.

"Great heavens!" she exclaimed, kneeling upon the floor, "she is killed! We quarrelled; she drew her sword upon me, stumbled and fell. See, mine is in its sheath, and hers is full of blood! Call the troops, Sergeant—summon the surgeon. You saw her fall, Sergeant?" Then she suddenly varied her mood, pointing to the President, who had sought refuge in my arms.

"Take her—take her! She wears a locket and chain—badges of dead ages of barbarism, during which heshe dragged shehe to the market with a rope about her neck and sold her as he might a cow or horse. Take her—marry her! She will count it her highest honor to reflect upon the world the light of your intelligence and wisdom... See, she has again become a creature all softness and sensibility; bearing happiness meekly and sorrow with fortitude: gentle, mild, submissive; the object of her creation was to adorn and beautify your existence... Take her away—I hate to see her, floating like a bird of paradise through the ball-room, or indulging in rapture over the adventures and despair of the hero of a mushroom tale... Take her, and when she wearies you and takes refuge with another you can advertise: 'Whereas my consort has left my bed and board,' you know the rest. Or, if she prove the devoted slave she professes to be, she may burn herself with your corpse when you are gathered to your fathers."

When she paused for a moment in this wild torrent of talk, I requested her to make all possible haste in departing, lest I should be obliged to remove her in a manner more forcible than polite.

With a half-smothered growl of rage, she retreated towards the door, still warding me off with her war-like weapon. Then she stood for a moment, upright and fierce, and, clinching her hand defiantly, spoke these parting words:

"Fools, do you fondly imagine that if my vengeance is delayed I will not strike? You may avert the blow for the present, but the hour of my triumph will surely come—mark my words—it will come before many days are numbered."


CHAPTER XVI.

General Gullible is formally introduced to Society—He has a charming Conversation with a Fashionable Coquette of his own Sex—A not altogether unexpected Missive is placed in his Hands.


HER excellency's infatuation for me had become so serious that at times I was at my wits' end to preserve a clear conscience and, at the same time, not offend her beyond endurance. Although she was unremitting in her endeavors to convey to me delicate expressions of regard, she could not conceal, entirely, her jealousy and her fears that I was plotting to escape. The words of Pantaletta—"Or let us suppose that he should prefer his freedom to a gilded cage and another shehe to yourself"—had struck a peculiar terror to her soul, and many times she asked me whether there was any meaning in them. "I almost regret," she would say, half-playfully, "that I removed the guards from your vicinity and gave you so much liberty—shehes are such uncertain creatures. But, there, did you not manfully comply with the terms of your sentence and take a solemn oath which you will surely keep."

Like a general who has staked all upon certain movements of his army, she was ever on the alert, ever looking for some hidden danger. In prosecuting the siege which she had laid to my heart she counted time and expense as nothing.

Half an hour before downy-iris, when all gentle heshes are supposed to be composing their limbs for a tender night's repose, it was her custom to station a band of silver-voiced serenaders below my window which overlooked the park. Each vocalist brought a cot with her and sang until the sleep-producing color-lightning overcame her senses. Although at a great height from them, I obtained the full benefit of the beautiful love-songs with which they attempted to lull me to repose. I will append a select stanza or two:


Oh, heshe, love,
From realms above,
Sweet turtle-dove,
Smile down on me;

Or would you kill
Your love-sick Lil,
Bid me be still,
Or frown on me.

Oh rapture deep,
On knees to creep
And to thee weep
Of love that's mine!

Oh, beauty rare,
See my despair
And hear my prayer
Oh, love divine!


The time for my introduction to society at last arrived. The levee, followed by a banquet and ball, which had so long been planned for the occasion, surpassed all other social events of the season.

The most beautiful, the most wealthy, and the most powerful in the realm, were gathered at Sumar Viteneliz to grace the event. Foreign ministers, ambassadors, and other dashing blossoms of nobility, were not unfrequently present at gatherings of this kind. The representatives from abroad were invariably women who assumed the shehe costume upon arriving at the capital, and, I have it upon authority, felt much secret exultation over the gratification of a taste which was denied them at home. They were subjected to all the fascinating arts of the heshes, who deemed it the climax of all earthly happiness to win favor in their eyes and, perchance an invitation to dance, to promenade, or to marry. The languishing young heshes fell in love with a title, upon the slightest provocation, and figuratively threw themselves before My Lady, as if she were a beautiful juggernaut and they her devotees.

But we must not lose sight of the festivities. The choicest of the choice in Petticotian society assembled in the palace. The grand ball was inaugurated in a high-ceilinged apartment, whose Indian frescoes, solid mahogany and cherry and white woods, exquisite purple and golden hangings, flowers and decorations, might have formed the groundwork for another Khubla-Khan. My entrance (I was leaning upon the arm of the President) was the signal for a profound sensation, if the society reporters were to be credited; and well might the assembly stare, for my almost royal suitor had caused me to be arrayed in a manner which eclipsed all others of my sex. Her distinguished self was dressed in a new suit of soft black, sprinkled with diamond dust and fashioned in imitation of armor. And shall I describe what I wore? Were it but to gratify the curiosity of the ladies, it shall be done.

My dress was of neutral-tinted satin and velvet, cut princesse style. The front was caught up and shirred, and over it was a garniture of pale-red oleander blossoms caught back with wild pampas-grass. The corsage was a dark brown satin tunic, covered with pure gold lace six inches deep. The underskirt was looped up with costly oriental black pearls. The bottom of the corsage was caught up with a turquoise ornament of indescribable brilliancy and turned the satin round to the right side. A set of diamonds, including aigrette, ear-rings and arrow, with large sapphires as intermediate stones, finished off my toilet. This description is taken from the society journals. They all differed upon some points, so that in order to cover the grounds to the satisfaction of those who might feel inclined to criticise, I have attempted to strike an average by selecting what to me seemed the salient points in each.

Her excellency's attentions to me, upon this high occasion, were so marked that I was little surprised by the subsequent rumor of our engagement. She introduced me invariably as "our distinguished guest and friend, General Gullible, from the American republic; the bravest of the weaker sex of his country, of whose exploits you have heard much."

The highest officials in the land crowded about us, and many an ardent glance was bestowed upon my queen-like self. Etiquette demanded that, upon encountering these silent tokens of approval, I should for a moment hide my eyes beneath their lashes and gaze upon my heaving bosom.

I cannot say that I was delighted. While others swam in a delirium of joy, I seemed to hobble about upon purgatorial coals during the dance. The false position in which the laws of the land had placed me was not wholly responsible for my discomfort. It may be partially ascribed to a number of my own sex to whose coldly-critical looks, supercilious airs, derogatory little laughs and downright scowls I was frequently subjected. They formed a truly siren-like group. Every one of them had killed his dozen shehes, in the language of Cupid. They all panted after the President's hand. Their ambition was as boundless as their wealth and their own estimate of their beauty. But her excellency did not deign to look upon them, and there was secret gnashing of teeth.

The effeminate men-women in general both amused and disgusted me. A mathematician would have delighted to compute the amount of cosmetics the dear creatures annually carried about upon their faces. Those who had just discarded immaturity—budding darlings who in America would part their hair in the middle, assiduously stroke an invisible mustache, stagger under the combined weight of eyeglass, cane and watch-chain, and speak in sugared drawl of young ladies who are dying for a glance from their Adoniships—these interesting fellows seemed peculiarly fitted by nature to their dress and occupation. They shone most conspicuously among their elder brethren, forming with these a curious medley of giraffe-like beings in petticoats, endowed with Roman, aquiline and mongrel noses of generous proportions, big chins and inexpressive eyes. They clothed their countenances in a perpetual simper of smiles when surrounded by the numerous shehes in exaggerated pantaloons, stiff dress-coats, high collars, low foreheads, short noses, bulging eyes, and other strange physical proportions. These women-men atoned for their diminutive size by a conscious, almost swaggering superiority which gave the finishing touch to their prepossessing appearance. They professed to look down upon the males from a serious height, but nevertheless confessed to a worship of the latter frail creatures at every opportunity.

"Ah, my dear," whispered one of these killing coquettes whom I met in the conservatory, fastening on a bouquet which he had just plucked. "You have not yet learned half concerning the charming life we lead. We are butterflies of fashion—every one of us—no cares, no hardships, no sorrows beyond our love intrigues and the worry to find something new to wear. True, time sometimes drags wearily, but that is due to our own fault, for there are many diversions provided for heshes, as well as opportunities for a higher cultivation of our intellectual powers, were we not generally too bored to take advantage of them. Our most common time-thieveries are music, singing, lace- work, art-needlework, artificial flower-making, drawing, painting (two kinds), and the decoration of pottery. Once a month most of us enter the kitchen and learn something about the making of bread, cake and pastry. Then we have our letters to write (it is quite common to have a dozen shehes desperately in love with you), our balls, parties and other amusements, our charitable society meetings, our choir practice, our church fairs and festivals. Our chief distraction, however, consists in teasing the shehes, dear, delightful little sheep, who propose upon the slightest encouragement and swear a hundred times that they will drown themselves like kittens if rejected. Poor things, they find out, all too late, that we require a good deal more winning than we are worth.

"But, heigho! what ungrateful mortals we are. Instead of worrying them out of their wits we ought to feel grateful to these victors in the great revolution, which they never tire of telling about. Had it not been for their self-sacrificing willingness to attend to the rough side of life, we should to this day be groaning like slaves in harness, dragging the cars of time, and state, and government, and such things, as did our ancestors. Why grudge them the little glory of their politics when we are the real rulers—those of the heart? True, poor, deluded things, they imagine themselves more fortunate than we. I understand that some of our ancestors objected to the new arrangement on the ground that it is not in accordance with nature, but we know better, don't we? Does not the heshe among the bees—the drone—spend his time in the idle enjoyment of life while the shehes gather the honey? and does not the heshe among the fowl wear the gay plumage, and air his finery, while the shehe drudge attends to the laying of eggs?

"Not among the least things for which the shehes deserve our gratitude was their act of kindness in banishing half our sex, for with so many fellow-enslaver there would be but half as much game for each breaker of shehe hearts. Since adopting their present style of clothing—they wore ours once, you know, although I was too young at that time to remember much about it—they are said to be much more amusing. And that reminds me of a funny incident which happened the other evening at the grand ball given by the Imperial Order of Crowing Hens—but do not allow me to detain you by talking so much, my dear. No? Well, I shall tell you all about it.

"I had been invited to attend by that dear, delightful, dumpy little Professor Battlesnail from the Dixit college. She promised to meet papa and myself at the library and escort us to the scene, but, failing to arrive in time, we went alone. When she made her appearance in the assembly at last I gently rebuked her for being tardy and requested her to see what o'clock it was. Judge of my horror when she pulled from her vest pocket, before the élite of the capital, a monstrous frog! My nerves were so unstrung by the shock that I thought seriously of fainting, and there is a strong probability that I should have done so, had not Lysander Jones, dear old duck, with the ready instinct of our sex, requested one of the shehes to bring a glass of water. Then we all screamed in chorus, and Professor Battlesnail, with face of lobster hue, threw the unlucky reptile out of the window. I was so agitated that I could not say positively how many half-concealed swear-words she uttered. And to think that I might have danced many times that afternoon with that nasty frog pressed against my bosom! I thought it was a trick on the Professor's part—at least I pretended to—and refused to dance the next waltz, as well as the coming lancers, with the unhappy dog. Later in the evening Blanche Funnipunster, an amusing friend of mine who belongs to the Paragraphic Society, explained to me, laughing like a maniac all the while, that the Professor had confessed the joke and that it would make the best half-column that had appeared in the Witslayer for a month and give that jackass, Hortense Ticklerib of the Cudgel, the greenest envy that she had known for many a day. It appears that the Professor, who is a naturalist, passed a pond while on her way to meet us. Spying a frog of unusual beauty—to scientific eyes—she pounced upon it for a friendly examination. Pulling out her four-hundred-dollar gold watch and timing the captive's pulse, she became so absorbed in the experiment that upon recollecting the lateness of the hour and my probable rage, she threw the frog—no, the watch—into the water and pocketed the reptile."

By this time I had grown rather weary of the rapid utterances of my interesting acquaintance, who was a person of considerable rank, his aunt being the present Secretary of State. He was luckily at that juncture, sought by the identical Battlesnail whose deplorable adventure he had been relating. I, too, was expecting a summons from the President, who had given me leave- of-absence to seek a few moments of rest among the cooling ferns and flowers. While bending over a choice exotic and admiring its fragrance, I heard approaching footsteps. Turning, I beheld, not the President, but a pale, clerical looking woman who handed me a letter. I opened it and read:

"Professor Dixit presents her respectful compliments to General Gullible and begs an interview upon a most important subject. General Gullible is aware that Professor Dixit is, by legal obstacles, for the present debarred from exploring what she firmly believes to be a phoenix. Hers, unfortunately, is not the exclusive theory entertained in scientific circles in regard to the phenomenon. She has a powerful rival who has this day vowed to prove by actual demonstration that the phoenix theory is wrong and another theory correct. Professor Dixit has in her possession such information as would enable General Gullible to circumvent the machinations of this enemy, and, at the same time, render her a revenge which she is personally prevented from wreaking. Being under secret surveillance in public, she is unable to visit General Gullible, and therefore requests him to meet the bearer, to-morrow evening, three hours before downy-iris, at such place as both shall agree upon; said faithful messenger to conduct said General Gullible to a secret spot where said Professor Dixit shall be in waiting, ready to divulge in strictest confidence what she has dared only to hint at upon paper."

After a few moments of well-feigned musing, I said to the nervous, almost trembling messenger:

"I will meet you, at the hour named, near the grand fountain which we see playing yonder in the park."


CHAPTER XVII.

General Gullible's Pilgrimage to the Jaws of Death—Discomfiture of Pantaletta and her Fellow- Conspirators—"Now is She mad, indeed," said Razmora, half- mournfully.

"Let us rest here for a short time; you look very tired—indeed you do," said my guide, with an earnestness which disarmed denial.


A SINGULAR change had come over this curious specimen of the new humanity. At our meeting by the great fountain she had offered me her arm with a display of gallantry and vivacity of manner which I, as one of the helpless sex in petticoats, could not resist. While passing over the hard, smooth walks of the now deserted park, amid the bright flowers, shrubbery and trees, she had chattered incessantly of such trifles as she seemed to think would interest me. After we had proceeded perhaps a mile, and upon coming to a little valley, her only too plainly forced hilarity was already on the wane. We passed down the hill and ascended the opposite elevation, going by a natural summer house of curiously-trimmed trees, through which the wind sighed with a mysteriousness that was not lost upon my companion. When we had left it behind, and with it a curve in the pathway, she stopped suddenly and listened. "Are you sure," she asked, "that we are not followed? I am almost certain that I heard footsteps in the distance just now, and it is not the first time since our departure from the fountain." I, too, had seemed to hear the crackling of a twig, now and then, but, feeling secure with my pistols and sword close at hand, I made no mention of it and reassured my timorous protector. We proceeded—now past golden-tipped hedges; past nut-trees laden with shells full of sweet meats; past swamps where the frogs let loose their sudden "jugorums" in the deep shadow of prodigious bushes which were laden with delicious blueberries. Presently we ascended a steep hill. There was a very lonely ravine beyond, the guide informed me, and there Professor Dixit was in waiting. During the ascent her pale face had grown ghostly. She looked behind us several times, assuring me again and again that we were followed, and leaned so heavily upon my arm at last that I feared she was about to faint.

It was at this juncture that she uttered the remark with which I have introduced the subject of our pilgrimage. We seated ourselves, for a few moments, and I busied myself with a refractory hair-pin, in order that I might not be obliged to notice her agitation.

"And now we must give the signal by which I am to inform her of our approach," said the guide, when we had reached the top of the eminence. "I am not a great success at whistling—will you please try it for me?—three times, short and shrill."

I coolly complied with her request, while her teeth fairly chattered and her eyes became distorted with secret apprehension. Did she dread only what was about to happen, or did she fear death at my hands when I became aware of her deceit?

Far down in the hollow, beyond a musical brook, where the tall grass nearly obscured the path, the shrubbery parted and the high hat of Professor Dixit made its appearance, followed by her dainty person. She signalled for me to approach and for the guide to remain behind, to the latter's inexpressible relief.

I descended boldly into the glen, keeping my hands carelessly in the vicinity of my concealed weapons, secretly wondering where the enemy lay.

I had just crossed the brook when, from a thicket on each side of the path, half a dozen dragoons or guards—such as I had marveled at so greatly upon my arrival in Petticotia—rushed upon me. Each had a large blanket in her hands, but no weapon.

I drew my sword with lightning rapidity about my person, slightly wounding one of the Amazons, before she was aware of the maneuver, and disconcerting the rest.

A deep-mouthed exclamation, and Pantaletta, too, bounded forth, sword in hand, and advanced toward me. She had witnessed the ill success of her ambuscade, and almost foamed at the mouth with rage thereat.

Just then a counter-cry resounded through the glen. It came from friendly throats. Still defending myself effectively I glanced about me and beheld Dandelion and several female officers of the law binding the unfortunate guide, while Razmora came flying to my assistance.

At his approach all my assailants, with the exception of Pantaletta, fled with howls of dismay, and a movement in the leafy bower from which the professor had signalled to me, indicated that that worthy and her brood were also rapidly measuring the distance between danger and safety.

"What, hag of hell-fight?" cried Razmora, upon beholding Pantaletta's attitude. "Have at you then! I took an oath, in the days before chivalry was on its last legs, never to war with woman, but you are not woman—you are devil. Defend yourself, therefore, would-be-man—she- dragon—witch—harridan!"

The mutual onslaught was terrific. Pantaletta expended all her wrath in blows and answered her assailant, clang for clang, upon the ringing steel.

Suddenly a change came over her demeanor, however. She dropped her sword and refused to continue the combat. "I see that you would murder me, Razmora—I see it in your eyes—something tells me so!" she exclaimed, sinking upon the greensward in an exhausted state.

"Murder?" roared Razmora—"murder you?—Not I! That is your trade—you came here to murder my friend, as you murdered your own! Captain Pouter died by accident, I believe?"

Pantaletta sprang to her feet as if touched by an electric shock. Her eyes were wild and glaring.

"Officers, draw near," continued Razmora, addressing those of his party who were in authority. "Arrest her upon the charge of murder preferred upon the affidavit of Sergeant Nancy Leffingwell. Sergeant Leffingwell, advance."

Pantaletta, upon hearing this dire announcement, retreated several steps and cowered against the very boulder upon which she had rested while planning the present disastrous exploit.

"No, no, no; you do not mean it—you are trying to frighten me, because I am a shehe! It is a falsehood, I repeat it—a falsehood so black that it obscures the fair brightness of the day! We quarreled; she drew her angry sword upon me—so, but when about to run me through, she stumbled and fell. See, is not my blade in its sheath? and hers is full of blood. Call the troops, sergeant—summon the doctor! Hold, sergeant, you saw her fall, did you not, dear, good sergeant?" Then, breaking into a fit of strange-sounding laughter: "Ha, ha, ha, ha! She knows nothing. Her head has become wooden—she cannot even wag it, much less talk. And yet there is a strange significance in her looks!" Here her eyes rested upon me: "You think it is right," she shrieked, "that we should have no names—that we should be Mrs. John, James, Peter or Paul, just as we change owners! You would be sovereign, although you have not a foot of territory and but one subject. It is a vulgar error, I tell you, that love is to the shehe her whole existence. Make her independent of public sentiment, by showing her how worthless and rotten a thing it is... They say they do not wish to marry us; we reciprocate the wish... They say we cannot navigate the seas—but many of us can help a drunken husband to navigate the streets... Do you see that flag? It is to us but an ever-waving signal of the republic's ingratitude... Are they not more attentive to shehes of rank, family and fortune, who least need their care, than to any other class? Do we see their protecting love extended to the helpless and unfortunate? .. He that can direct the lightning flash of the ballot-box is greater than he who possesses a continent of vapor, gilded with downy- iris. Give us the ballot, therefore, the ballot—the ballot! Away! I am none of your sewers on of buttons, darners of stockings, makers of puddings! I stand before you, the rightful representative of the shehe, claiming a share in the halo of glory which has gathered round her in the ages, and challenge your admiration! ... Did not I myself strike the death-blow to that monstrous fiction that the heshe and his consort are one and that one the heshe? ... I look for the dawning of a higher era when the shehe shall assume her true position, in harmony with her superior organism, her delicacy of structure, her beauty of person, her great power of endurance, and thus prove herself not only the heshe's equal, but his superior—"

"Foul tumblebug, forever rolling about the scum of dead discussions, cease your gabble!" exclaimed Razmora, impatiently.

Without realizing the import of these remarks, or even noticing her foe, Pantaletta gave vent to another peal of ghastly merriment, and, staring into vacancy, continued her weird monologue:

"I tell you, Dixit, my little imp, he cannot escape us—he cannot. I shall be there with half-a-dozen of my dare-devils, and they shall gently smother him—yes, smother, smother, smother—ugh! So—so; in this manner the skin will not be disfigured by bullet-rip or sword-gash... He is a noble specimen—a truly royal specimen. Strip him, minions; strip him! Aye, there—is he not perfect? An Apollo, and to come to such base uses, say you? Hear them, ye furies! Will you talk thus and make the world stop its ears or discover our dark secret! ... Take him, Dixit, brave imp—what, you shudder?—your white hands are afraid of cold meat? Order your myrmidons, then, to bear the precious burden—gently, gently; do not dare to let a twig scratch his features—this way, this way, where the trees are high and arched... Great heavens, will you expose the corpse to the public gaze! Throw another coat over his face—why will his villainous countenance still remain visible and grin defiance at me! Hide it! Hide it! ... Good people, stand aside and let us pass—one of the gentle students climbed a crag for a rare specimen and lost her footing. She is severely hurt, but not dangerously. We bear her to the college where she will receive kind attention... Back, back! you must not see her face. Throw another cloth over it and keep the light from penetrating to her eyes, or she will remain blind... Aha, Dixit, little imp, is this artfulness? is this craftiness? I'll warrant you they will needs walk fast to catch up with Pantaletta... Keep the shutters closed tightly. May the devil (if there be a devil) seize those prying eyes! And now, candles, candles, more candles! He is cold at last and ready for your work. To it, butchers; here is the recipe, and better mummy was never prepared from other directions... One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine—where is the tenth? Ah, yes, here he is—ten; you cannot guess how many of these good Smilax furnished, but we had to sew their heads on again, and that is a defect—eleven, twelve, thirteen! They are all here. One ambition I have wrenched from your snarling teeth, oh relentless world—from you who never honored me even so much as to place my portrait on a postage stamp! Thirteen at supper—but no worms shall come near them—file your teeth in vain, oh feasters upon dead humanity! This is not your banquet, but theirs. It was prepared by jealous hands and will last for centuries. They say thirteen is an unlucky number—we shall see which one dies first—ha, ha, ha! Would you read the bill of fare, good thirty-ninth century people? Here it is engraved upon a diamond plate; 'Embalmed by Pantaletta'—that is myself, good people—'first nominated Shah of Sheheland; forerunner of the new creation which took its rise in her days: Thirteen perfect specimens of the heshe in his wild and unnatural state: handed down to future ages as relics of the barbarism of the past... Murder? Who says I am guilty of murder? What, you dare to convict me? But how will you carry out the sentence? I will not cut off my own head—I would be a fool—a monstrous fool... Ha! There is the block—there is the ax—there is another arm to raise it! Mercy! Mercy! Mercy!"

With this wild, despairing appeal she swooned away. The officers silently proceeded to bind her hands and feet.

"Now is she mad, indeed," said Razmora, shaking his head half- mournfully. "There was no simulation in those words and looks."


CHAPTER XVIII.

The President of Petticotia makes an Unhappy Vow and General Gullible a Rash Promise—Certain Options regarding the North Pole are Confirmed—A Ray of Hope for the American Eagle.


I HAD of late acquired a habit of taking my daily exercise among the marble columns beneath the great dome which overlooks a secluded wing of the palace. Here, attired in my rightful habit, alone and at ease, I could wander and think, allowing my spirit to roam undisturbed, to a distant land where the hearts of my countrymen are beating. Ah, what weak yearnings sometimes stole over me, during those hours of self-communion, only to be strangled by the remembrance of my sentence.

I had sought refuge in this accustomed spot, one evening, when the excitement over the events narrated in the last chapter had not yet subsided. The newspapers were at last in possession of some of the facts and the sleuth-hounds of the press busily engaged in scenting out the exciting mystery. Having a profound contempt for Petticotian journalism, which had so flagrantly misrepresented me upon several occasions, I did not condescend to provide the scribes with an opportunity to tell the truth by placing information at their disposal, thus revenging in a measure, the wrongs I had suffered at their hands. They besieged my quarters in vain, sending up card after card, which was in each instance, politely returned. The guards had strict orders to admit no one to my presence unless I desired it. These custodians of the palace were not altogether useless, although rather an expensive luxury. Their chief duty was to keep at bay the office- seekers who were wont to overrun the premises like rats before the proper precaution was taken, fastening their greedy claws upon every person who was suspected of having any influence with the chief magistrate.

I had lost myself in my wonted reverie, under the marble arches, and was pacing slowly to and fro, now drawing heavy clouds from a soothing cigar, now recollecting something from my college reading about


"Long and lonely colonnades
Through which the ghost of freedom stalks,"


when I became aware of footsteps approaching lightly over the richly tessellated floor. I turned and beheld the President, in womanly attire, holding out her hands and smiling faintly.

"Ah, I have found you at last, dear General," she said. "I called at your quarters but found them deserted. What, still immersed in thought?—I hope I am not intruding. And what is your subject?—still that theory of an earth within an earth, which you promised to explain to me more fully? But never mind; I have news which you will not find in the journals upon your table. Pantaletta has been adjudged hopelessly insane by the secret commission and will be placed in private confinement. Professor Dixit has leave-of-absence to pass a year abroad for the benefit of her health. Her confederate, who guided you to the murderous spot, has been released, as there will be no proceedings in court against the criminal-in-chief. And this is not all; Congress adjourned late this afternoon, but the session has been so protracted that there remains but little time for the public festivities which the country usually indulges in before going into winter quarters. Soon the six month lamps and torches will be lighted in order that we may defy the darkness which creeps forth from the hollow caverns of the earth. In a few weeks all our heshes in the east will have made way for the shehes of the west. You too, my dear General, will fade into nothingness, and the space of one hundred and eighty-two weary days must pass before I see your countenance again. I shall roam these lonely halls day after day, like a poor cursed spirit that knows no rest. I shall seek you everywhere—a hundred times shall I feign to believe that you are but hiding from me in another apartment, and so pass the space we now call day, in searching for you. I will kiss every trinket that I dare hope your hands have touched—I will sit for hours where you have sat, and, peering out into the inexorable darkness, see in my fancy the sights your dear, dear eyes have gazed upon. I shall yearn for you as you yearn for freedom and those who are strangers to me. I shall dream of you when the downy-iris, bursting through the inky veil each time the space now known as day is run, lulls my weary brain to rest. I shall pray before lying down that I may be permitted to dream that you are happy and thinking of me. I shall caress your picture until, I am afraid, it will be worn and faded by my tears and kisses. Oh, the tenderness which will go out from this disconsolate frame for you, when you are far away! Every nerve will be strained for your return, while I eagerly count the minutes by a quickly ticking clock. And must this yearning and this waiting be in vain?"

She ceased, for her voiced had become tremulous, her bosom was heaving and a vagrant tear escaped from the heaven of her eyes. For a moment she stood gazing at me in a dazed manner, then with sudden energy she drew nearer and, pointing to the zenith above us, cried out:

"No, no, it must not—it shall not! Here, before high heaven, I swear that upon your return you shall set the day of our nuptials, or I die! Call it not a rash resolve—a lover's vow, easily broken, unrecognized in the catalogue of sin. It seems to me that I am more deeply in earnest than mortal ever was—my whole tortured being bounds into that utterance when I say, I die unless our marriage day is set upon your return. I would reswear it ten thousand times in the most horrible formulas by which human being ever recorded a vow. During each space between downy-iris and downy-iris, locked within my choicest apartment, I shall devote a few minutes to the erection of a funeral pyre. Slowly the fragrant yellow sandalwood, the sweet- scented gums and other costly combustibles will be put together, while I bedew them with my tears and bless them as my deliverers from that fiercer hell which would burn my heart to ashes were I made desolate by your rejection. How often, alas, have I been tempted to destroy us both. Then, perchance, I would dream that you carried me away in your arms, like some glorious lover of old, and locked me safely in your Eagle, which skimmed the blue waters of the ocean, oh, so lightly! and my jealous mood was past. Why have you never asked me to fly with you from this spell-haunted land in which I cannot win your heart? Would I not gladly give up everything and become the humblest American for your sake? I can no longer live without some small return for my all-absorbing love—I cannot and I will not!"

I calmed her as best I could, promising in sheer desperation to comply with her wishes, for I greatly feared she was losing her reason. Then, in a transport of joy, she fell upon my breast and murmured blessings.

All that night I sat and watched the downy-iris, for sleep reclined not his rosy cheek upon my untouched pillows. Wild thoughts coursed through my brain as I drank in the color-melody. While I mutinied against that fate which seemed drawing the President and myself slowly into an awful vortex, I also experienced other sensations. I had gradually found confirmed, beyond a doubt, the seemingly chimerical theory with which I became imbued shortly after my arrival in Petticotia. It was this: "I have not only discovered the North Pole, which is in reality a bottomless gulf, but am now in the great hollow to which it serves as an entrance and huge window—I am in the interior of our globe."

With this certainty came the renewed desire to convey the glorious intelligence to America. Already I seemed to hear the cannon roaring, and the glad bells pealing, from ocean to ocean; already—but, alas, I sat as helpless as a child, for my air-ship was still unrepaired.

Razmora and Dandelion, I felt convinced by our conversations upon the subject, would be only too happy to assist me in renewing the strength and usefulness of the Eagle, were their hands not shackled by infamous laws and customs. I also became conscious of a new certainty, and that was, that, were I to broach the subject to the President, she would readily exert her influence in removing the shackles in question, now that I had partially released her from her self-imposed mental rack. But how was I to inform her that I knew her secret history—that I was acquainted with her father—that he was my dearest friend! I cared no longer how, but resolved to do it.

At an early hour next morning, ere my resolution could weaken, I laid my explanation and request before her excellency. Contrary to my expectation, she was not much surprised by my revelations.

"Ah," she exclaimed, shaking her finger playfully, "do you suppose that you could hide any secrets from a love like mine? It is my turn to confess: I have played the spy upon you until remorse almost killed me, but jealousy impelled me on. I have been acquainted with almost every step you have taken without the palace walls, although I did not always play the detestable part of the watcher in person. I saw that you visited the unfortunate, but still dear, relative of whom an unkind fate has deprived me forever, and I said to myself, 'It is well; let him linger near the honest, manly bosom that so fondly sheltered me in childhood's happy hours. I shall feel better to know that my love enjoys a confidence—an inestimable privilege—which is denied me.' I gradually felt more at ease over your going out and was glad that you found diversion in that at least. Only once was my confidence shaken—only once did I doubt your honesty of purpose, and I shudder to think how nearly it cost you your life, for I was wrong in my wicked suspicion. It was upon the evening that Pantaletta went mad. These eyes were upon you when you met the student at the fountain. The words of the atrocious tempter again danced before me in letters as red as blood: 'Or let us suppose that he should prefer his freedom to a gilded cage and another shehe to yourself.' My senses reeled, my heart was in my mouth, but I followed you, stealthily as might an avenging spirit, resolved to kill you with a ball from this dainty weapon when I became convinced of your guilt. Had you but kissed her, or allowed her to kiss you, I should have fired without hesitation. I pursued you at a safe distance, and when you had descended the last hill of your journey I became a horrified spectator of what took place."

When she had regained her composure, her excellency assured me that my request should be granted. It was by no means an unheard- of thing for heshes, by special permission, to engage in the pursuits of the shehes, for a time. "This very palace," said she, "was erected under the supervision of heshes."

It was arranged that we should take the Eagle with us into winter quarters and repair it at our leisure.

When I broke the good news to my friends, there was joy in Razmora hall.

"And now," remarked Razmora, after my announcement had been fully digested, "allow me to speak a word or two in behalf of Sir Archibald. He has grown gray as an inventor. He is a true genius and a philosopher. As may be naturally inferred from his illustrious descent, he is not lacking in valor; yet so absorbed was he in his scientific pursuits in days gone by, that the enemy, after storming the city, might have made him prisoner unawares. Though hampered during the greater part of his existence by a truly fiendish wife (who happily burst a blood- vessel during a debate upon the tyranny of man) he has perfected many notable improvements. He has privately expressed his opinion that everything necessary for the restoration of your mechanical bird could be obtained in Petticotia, and that, with very little assistance, he himself would undertake to repair the rent in the outer covering. He freely volunteers his services, as I do mine, and the only reward he craves is that he be allowed to accompany you, at some future day, upon a voyage around this world of ours and into the arctic regions, in order that we may have ocular proof that, as you say, there lies an eternity of space beyond our own small hollow."

As may be imagined, this request I readily promised to grant, as well as any others that lay in my power.


CHAPTER XIX.

After a six Months' Sojourn in the Shades, General Gullible triumphantly reenters Sumar Viteneliz—His scheme for the Social Salvation of the Men-Women—He is Affianced to a Lovely Being whom he can never Wed.


THE Petticotians reverence an ancient myth, wherein it is related that, upon the last day of the season of darkness, a fair-haired god, clad in shimmering armor, leads a bright host to engage in battle the great black demon of the nether world, the wings of whose army cause the darkness of one hundred and eighty- two days. This battle invariably results in the overthrow of the sable warriors, who are driven to their lairs in the bowels of the mountains, where it requires half a year to a day ere they recover from their defeat and become courageous enough to sally forth anew. In six months to a day the black demon puts on his armor and surprises the now heedless forces of light. He gluts himself with revenge and then proceeds to establish his kingdom. But his triumph is short-lived, for the fair-haired god arrives from a far country and again puts him to flight.

It was the morning of our return from the west, where we had passed the long half year of night. All nature was rejoicing over the new-born season of day. The heshes, whose lords in the east were anxiously awaiting their return, hurried to the railway stations, where many gaily-decorated trains stood in waiting. The depots in the larger cities were besieged by mammoth crowds, day after day, and the bustle and confusion was indescribable.

When the dwellers near the iron tracks beheld the luxurious coaches of those high in power at Sumar Viteneliz sweeping over the plains and through the mountain passes, they noticed that the train was closely pursued by a bird, terrible in aspect and size, which glided majestically through the air. The colors of Petticotia floated from its beak and no one dared to offer it violence.

"Ah, this is glorious, glorious, dear general," exclaimed Razmora. Were I not a Christian, and a gentleman, I should worship the inventive genius of your country! When I look down from this eminence my pulse beats exultingly. I see the landscape unrolling itself beneath us like a vast panorama; villages and cities are hugging the dust; man's soul soars, as if immortal, over their tallest spires. Behold the snail-like train has fallen still further to the rear. How the people gaze! See them wave their fans and handkerchiefs."

Dandelion was studying the working of the machinery and apparatus with the intensity of an enthusiast. He acknowledged Razmora's descriptive fragments with many nods of approval, but could spare no time for a personal observation of the wonders below us. I regulated the motive power and dreamed of my first journey in the Eagle, while, in his cage in a corner, Chatterbox indulged in an occasional philippic against women.

The six months just concluded had not proved uneventful to the three passengers in the clouds. Not only had we triumphantly repaired the American Eagle, but we had laid the foundation of a mission which promised ultimately to accomplish the social regeneration of Petticotia.

Soon after our arrival in the land of the darkness, Razmora, inspired with an old desire to rescue his countrymen from their bondage, announced his intention of letting loose upon the fallen creatures the thunders of his eloquence. Being free from direct female influence, he doubted not but they might be brought to repent in sackcloth and ashes. Convinced that an aggressive warfare would end only in disaster, I counseled caution, and prevailed upon my impetuous friend to adopt another plan by which we might convey to the masses the truth in disguise and rekindle in them, unconsciously, the old spark of manhood. I wrote a number of lectures on ancient history which we subsequently delivered, free of charge, before those—and there were many—who listened for want of better employment during the lonesome hours of the season of night. These lectures were to the unsuspecting heshes what those newspaper articles which contain skillfully concealed advertisements are to the unwary American reader. I introduced into them what I knew about the heroes of Homer, of Virgil—in fact, I bankrupted the mythologies of the world for heroic deeds which should display the proper dignity of man. We contemplated the publication of a journal in the interest of the heshes which should be mailed free to all who would favor us with their addresses. In time, I argued with my coadjutors, a foothold would be obtained upon the opinions of the heshes, and then the formation of a secret society, having for its object the reestablishment of the sensible and civilized order of things in Petticotia, would follow, as a matter of course.

In order to accomplish this great aim the society need resort to nothing unchivalrous. Diplomacy alone would be necessary. The stratagem which I proposed to lay before the secret brotherhood was a truly gigantic one. I would, as soon as possible after the formation of our society, order to be manufactured in America, a fleet of twelve thousand air-ships, capable of carrying five hundred passengers each. And at some future day, when my sentence of imprisonment had expired, and we had a majority, or at least the more manly portion, of our fellow-men, enrolled in our cause, our trap should be sprung. Upon the day when the fair-haired god in shimmering armor should, as usual, drive the black fiend to his caverns, there would drop from the brightening western heavens, a cloud of conquest-bent Eagles, and such men as refused to enter, should be seized by our noble order and the Americans in charge of each craft, and dragged in perforce.

Then a document, setting forth in iron terms the resolution of the heshes, should be submitted to the pantaloon-usurpers. "The heshes desire to know at once," the document might say, "whether the shehes are prepared to reestablish the natural relation of the man and the woman, by renouncing forever their insane desire to be what they are not, thereby making possible the return of our self-banished brethren from the diamond fields. Refuse, and six million heshes, once more aroused to a sense of their manhood, bid farewell to their accursed land forever and become citizens of the United States."

"Depend upon it," I had repeatedly remarked, "after a separation of six months, the majority of women would ten times rather let diseased ambition slip than live husbandless for all time and perish as a race."

The work was progressing in a refreshing manner—true, not as fast as it might be sketched upon paper, but still progressing. We had lectured over one hundred times and had in our possession a list of fifty thousand names of those who were willing to receive our proposed journal free of charge. We had cause for happiness, therefore, as we winged our flight towards the east.

The Eagle—which, unlike the railway trains—traveled during downy-iris as well as in the daytime—to the no small astonishment of my friends—at last approached the serenely gliding river upon whose banks Sumar Viteneliz arose fresh and white, like a bathing Venus. The entire city was in holiday attire. Flags floated from every eminence, and the streets were made forest-like with decorations. Expectant shehes strutted about everywhere, anxiously awaiting the first cargo of loved ones from the west. Thousands were still embarking for their homes beyond the western boundary.

The railroads were evidently coining money, although the government had fixed a very low rate per mile during the semi- annual hegira. It occurred to me that travel by Eagles must certainly recommend itself to the inhabitants in time, and I resolved, therefore, that as soon as specie payment was resumed in Petticotia, I would obtain a contract from the government for forty or fifty thousand specimens of this noble craft. This would net myself and associates at home at least four or five hundred million dollars—quite a respectable sum—and furnish employment to myriads of industrious American workmen.

Razmora, Dandelion and Chatterbox, were, by request, placed upon terra firma, before the Eagle entered the city. I bade them a temporary farewell, and, after reascending to a great height, lowered my air-carriage directly in front of the palace.

The decorator's art had been lavishly employed upon this swan- like structure, until it seemed a fit abode for elves and sprites.

When I alighted the street was so densely crowded that the President experienced much difficulty in conveying to me in person her welcome. Her greeting was, I feared, a trifle warmer and more impetuous than the publicity of the occasion would seem to warrant. I hastened, therefore, to withdraw from the public gaze, after making a very short address (in response to oft- repeated cries) in which I was careful to explain, with minuteness, the reason why I was enabled to arrive several hours ahead of the fastest railway train, although we had started from our western reserve six days behind the same.

Late in the evening, when the superb festivities given in honor of those who had arrived by the first train, and myself, were ended, I retired to my old quarters, a prisoner once more. In a few minutes the servant announced a visitor.

I knew the fatal meaning of that call, but lamented, too late, the fact that, during the excitement attendant upon the tedious repair of the Eagle, and our missionary labors, I had neglected to fortify myself for the present emergency.

When I looked up there stood before me once more a vision of female loveliness, this time pale and anxious, in spite of the mask of laughter under which it came gliding softly through the door.

Her excellency stood for a few moments, as far apart from me as she could bear it, and gradually her smile faded into pain; she advanced a step and, checking herself several times, seemed at a loss how to break the silence.

"I have come to know the worst," she said at last, in a voice which contrasted mournfully with the wild vivacity she had displayed at the banquet. "I cannot lie down to feel the horror of another downy-iris of suspense. Here upon my bended knees I implore you, idol of my soul, to speak at once, and bid me live or die!"

"Let me entreat your excellency to be calm," said I. "Rest assured, the promise of a Gullible, once given, is sacred."

"What, you will keep your word—you will not bid me revenge myself upon myself for forcing from you your promise? Oh, Byron, my love, my angel!" and thus exclaiming she fell upon my neck, her frame swaying like a shapely sapling in the storm. Then she became very still, even motionless. The tax upon her nerves had been too severe; she had swooned.

I summoned her faithful attendants and together we succeeded in restoring her to consciousness.

With returning consciousness came remembrance. She gazed upon me with unutterable tenderness, while her countenance became suffused with the color of life. Suddenly she asked in a low voice which startled me very much:

"And when shall it be, my love?"

"What?"

"Why, our wedding-day."

"Oh—really—" I stammered, "there is no hurry."

"Oh, yes, there is! And you must appoint it, you know—that is the privilege of your sex."

"Then let us say when my sentence expires," I suggested, anxious to gain as much time as possible.

She shook her head with a sigh. "It is too long to wait; besides, your sentence is no impediment, as you are under no restraint, excepting that you may not return to America before its expiration."

We finally agreed upon the first day of June, 1877, and then, as happy as a queen who has won a new kingdom, my strangely affianced, whom I could not marry without becoming a bigamist, softly stole to her apartments.


CHAPTER XX.

General Gullible obtains Permission to visit the Countries of the Petticotian World, in order to conquer a Serious Depression of Spirits—After rescuing a Prisoner from the Clutches of Demoniac Savages, he is miraculously Enabled to Wed the President.


FOR reasons which would seem highly ridiculous to the Petticotian mind, I now fell into a deep melancholy. Our formal betrothal was blazoned to the world at large, and the President took an insane delight in making me the all-conspicuous figure at numberless affairs of state and society. She no longer took pains to conceal from the people her mad infatuation for me, her only care being to cause the time which intervened between the present and our wedding-day to pass rapidly. But notwithstanding the whirl of amusements and social dissipations into which I was plunged, my heart was heavy and I grew more sad each day, being so constantly reminded of the sin which I was promising to commit. I felt half guilty already, for my principles did not include the false one, that the end justifies the means. I could not bring myself to feel that I was at liberty to do wrong, even if by that wrong-doing I saved a soul from greater sin. I shuddered at the thought that I might find no means of honorable escape from my position before the fatal day approached.

Far be it for me to allow Old Hypocrisy to mingle his shadow with mine by virtuously pretending that, had I been free to chose, I should have regarded as a calamity the prospect of marrying so beautiful and amiable a being as the President of Petticotia. But I was already married, and the blood of my pilgrim ancestors bade me remember it.

The President viewed my depression of spirits with serious alarm. She tried, with all a woman's tender arts, to find out and remove the cause of my sorrow. She wept and implored me to make it known to her, and, at times, even gave vent to childish regrets that she had ever been born. She had a thousand suspicions and they made her miserable.

Finally I bethought me of the advantages which travel might afford a man in my situation. New scenes and incidents would not only distract my gloomy thoughts, but by the aid of cool judgments among other nations I might be enabled to circumvent the fate which seemingly awaited me.

Her excellency thought that travel might benefit my health, both in body and mind, and readily acquiesced in my suggestions. She gave me permission to fly, per Eagle, to all the countries of the Petticotian world, and to wear my masculine habit in the seclusion of my conveyance, exacting only this stipulation: that the time of each voyage should not exceed four weeks. I obtained permission, also, to take with me at any time Razmora and Dandelion. These two gentlemen, I may remark in passing, greatly marveled at my engagement with the President, for they, too, were aware that I was already a benedict. It was not until I made a full confession of all the circumstances which had led to my apparent villainy, that they could be induced to accept the hospitality of my air-ship. Both were deeply moved when I had finished my recital and Razmora embraced me and wept like a child.

The voyages I undertook were numerous. I made the circuit of the underworld and then singled out for closer observation the countries which I judged, from reports of eye-witnesses, would prove most interesting. I was overwhelmed by the prodigality of my discoveries. I experienced so much that was wonderful that I dare not attempt a description, lest I should spin this already lengthy epistle out to thrice its volume. One incident and its accessories I cannot, however, pass over in silence. It occurred upon my fifth voyage, which I made alone.

I had passed several days among the self-exiled men of Petticotia, in the wondrous diamond country, and next directed my flight southward until I found myself upon the great ocean which corresponds to our own Pacific.

One day's journey over the deep-blue waters brought me to a large island, almost tropical in the luxuriance of its climate and vegetation.

I effected a landing in what seemed a totally uninhabited portion of the little country; but no sooner had I set foot upon its shores than I was pounced upon by a ferocious animal. It was at least sixteen feet in length and resembled the American cougar, puma or panther. Totally unprepared for so terrible an attack, I was at first confused and at a loss how to act, but at length, to my unspeakable relief, remembered the valorous coolness with which our western hunters and trappers usually dispatch such bloodthirsty brutes. Contrary to the habits of the American man-killers, which usually fly at the throat of their victim, this one deliberately began eating me at the feet. Its red jaws had just closed around my left leg when, with the nonchalance of a professional in such affairs, I drew my pocket- knife and, clutching my adversary by a velvet ear, drove the glittering steel out of sight into its warty bosom. The wound was, of course, fatal. Dragging the victim of misplaced confidence into my air-ship, I bound up my mangled extremity and was about to close the door, when I beheld the mate of my late adversary creeping towards me, its eyeballs glaring and its tail lashing the ground. I was not anxious for another thrilling combat, however, and rose swiftly into the mellow-beaming sky.

The day had perceptibly declined, by the watch, when I came upon a rude-looking village of round huts, from each of which issued a tiny column of smoke, in token of the evening meal which was in course of preparation.

As I approached nearer I could plainly distinguish a group of men upon a mound-like eminence which arose in the center of what might have been termed the square of the settlement. These men were all dark-skinned, naked, and appeared to be much excited.

I was next horrified to perceive, in their midst, a white prisoner whom they had fastened to a stake. Several of the most valiant warriors danced before their captive, brandishing huge clubs about his head, and one, who seemed to be the chieftain of the murderous band, was just preparing to light some fagots at the victim's feet, when all became aware of the Eagle's swift approach; for I swooped down upon them at full speed, determined to end their barbarous sport.

The consternation and terror of the recently so war-like savages was ludicrous to behold. They fled through the streets, with many wild gestures, and even forgot the prisoner in their precipitate haste. When I landed only the aged and infirm were left to defend the village.

When I hurried to the assistance of the white prisoner I was struck with an amazement scarcely inferior to that which had fallen upon the natives, for before me I beheld a man who so strongly resembled myself, as regards features and size, that had I been a disinterested spectator I might have vowed that we were twins. His coarse hunter's garb alone dispelled the illusion that I was staring at myself in a glass.

"For the Redeemer's sake!" he pleaded, "spirit of my departed brother, do not leave me to continue in this torment, but deliver me from the clutches of these fiends. Take me to whatever region you inhabit—do with me what you will—let me die—but be pitiful!"

A sudden inspiration seized me. "Swear," said I, "by that God whom we venerate, that, in return for your rescue, you will perform what I ask of you."

He vowed with solemn fervor.

When I cut the cruel throngs which bound the unhappy man, I became aware of the excruciating agony which he suffered. Not that he had sustained any bodily harm, but his nerves and mental faculties seemed utterly unstrung. Once released, he tottered a few steps and fell into my arms as one dead.

Hastily conveying him to my ark of safety, I locked the door and soared upward and homeward.

When I examined my unknown likeness again I discovered that he had fallen into a deep slumber.

I arranged the sleeper's resting place, with a tenderness and inward joy I had not felt since my departure from my loved ones, and next began operations upon the noble wild animal which lay stretched across my room. After removing the beautiful skin, which was soft and glossy, I dropped the carcass into the sea. The enormous covering of my dead enemy I intended as a present for the President.

One, two three days passed and still my strange counterpart slept. I spent many hours in watching his features, now contracted with pain, now stolidly defying his captors, now pleading for a moment's rest, and now triumphant with the joy of deliverance. I felt his pulse and noted the beating of his heart; I tried to rouse him gently several times, but my efforts were of no avail.

We were now fast approaching Petticotia's south-western extremity, and I began to have serious misgivings for the recovery of my companion. At the end of the fourth day, to my great relief, he opened his eyes and asked for something to eat.

I brought him food and drink from my patent provision boxes, and after he had refreshed himself he gradually told me his story.

He was an explorer, a physician by profession, a native of Belloland, and had several times made the circumference of the world. His last expedition had proved disastrous, the savages having cruelly butchered and eaten all his followers and reserved himself for a peculiar torture. The Trahlahlahians (for such was the name of these cannibals) owed allegiance to a peculiar devil who demanded the annual sacrifice of a white human being, the victim to be put to death in a lingering and atrocious manner. If the person selected did not die with his eyes open—that is, through being deprived of sleep—the sacrifice was of no avail. Dr. Pythias (for such was the name of my unfortunate fellow passenger) passed fourteen weary days at the stake, having food and drink in abundance but being denied a moment's sleep. His captors, in order to prevent slumber from closing his eyes, resorted to numerous devilish stratagems. Their chief pastime, in which they relieved one another, was to howl the death-song of the tribe into his ears from downy-iris to downy iris. During the time when all the world was locked in slumber deep, a vile drug, forcibly administered, kept the explorer in such horrible dreams that his prostration was even worse than if he had been wide awake. During the daytime, when they could keep his eyes open by no other means, they made apparent preparations to burn him alive. It seemed that no disfigurement of his person was allowable, for they were very careful not to wound him.

"I was," he said, "in the midst of one of those frenzies when it seemed as if I must sleep or die. I had almost ceased to hear the maddening din of the hundred voices about me; I knew that they were preparing the fire test, to be followed by the throwing of ice cold water; and then suddenly I learned from their exclamations of fright, that something unusual was transpiring. I had often tried to taunt them into an uncontrollable rage during which, I hoped, they would dispatch me without ceremony. More than once the hallucination seized me, that if I could persuade them to make an honest effort to kill me my rescue would be certain. This had always happened in the accounts of western adventures which reached my native home in the old world."

"And what," I inquired of Dr. Pythias, "did the fiends say when I approached?"

"Oh, they were certain that it was the great Ghoo, or devil, in whose honor their orgy was instituted, and equally certain that his offended infernal majesty was coming for a bloody purpose. 'Arise and flee for the Ghoo is coming to Trahlahlah! He comes to eat us, because we have not accomplished the offering for which he hungers.' Thus they yelled and, while yelling, ran. But," Dr. Pythias continued, changing the subject, "what is this strange conveyance? Whither are you taking me, and what is it you require of me for my rescue—name it and it shall be performed, even at the risk of my life!"

"The thing that I require of you," I replied, "is easy to perform and would bring happiness to monarch crowned. There is but one possible obstacle, and I shall know whether that exists when you answer this question: Are you married?"

And, while his eyes dilated in wonder, to my joy unspeakable he answered, "No."

I then related my history, from the time of my departure from America to the hour of our meeting. I kept nothing concealed from him. When I had concluded he asked with a smile:

"And you wish me to marry the President?"

"That is the only service I shall require of you," I answered.

"Very well, I will do it," he said in a decisive way, "providing that she is not the reverse of what you have painted her. Are you certain, however, that she will not see through our deception? It is true that, physically, we are as nearly alike as two mortals can be, but there are some mental qualities to be considered—there is what some term the affinity of soul. But I will make the attempt, cost what it may. I have been too long devoted to solitary, perhaps selfish, pursuits, and my last experience admonishes me that it is about time that I became settled in life."

During the remaining days of our journey I instructed him so minutely regarding the part he was to assume that he readily dropped into my character, and I had the rare opportunity of conversing with myself when the mood seized me.

When we arrived on the outskirts of a large town I descended and, unobserved by the inhabitants, succeeded in separating from my companion, whom I left in charge of the Eagle. I also succeeded in purchasing a disguise which was so effective that, upon my return, the new General Gullible at first refused me admittance, taking me for one of the many who had annoyed him during my absence. The injuries which I had sustained in the encounter with the wild beast on the island had given me an admirable lameness, as a beggar would say, and assisted not a little in my transformation.

When Dr. Pythias issued from the second apartment, to which he had retired to don my cast-off apparel, while the Eagle resumed its homeward flight, my satisfaction was complete. I seemed to die, then and there, figuratively speaking, and to become an aged practitioner, leaning on my staff like Aesculapius, while before me, with all my former manners and peculiarities, stood General Icarus Byron Gullible.


CHAPTER XXI.

The Conclusion of General Gullible's Narrative, containing brief mention of the Happiness which befell both Himself and the President of Petticotia—Dr. Pythias becomes the exultant Possessor of the American Eagle.


"AND how remarkably bright and handsome you look, my love," exclaimed her excellency, after releasing General Gullible from her sweet-scented embrace. "You have improved so much with each successive voyage that now you seem fully ten years younger. Oh, I am so glad that you hit upon these travels; they have been the means of restoring you to health and myself to happiness. But whom have you here—who is this aged heshe?"

She had not noticed me in the first transport of her joy, as I sat in a corner of my old quarters and gazed with owl-like intensity upon familiar scenes in the park. For a few moments after hearing her inquiry I trembled for General Gullible. He seemed lost in the influence exerted by the ravishing creature before him. Already he was madly in love with her. And why not? They seemed made for each other, and I but the mirror which for a short time had reflected the image of one upon the radiant glory of the other. I felt my heart resume its beating when he said, as if suddenly recollecting himself:

"Ah, I beg a thousand pardons for my thoughtlessness. Will your excellency allow me—Dr. Pythias, an eastern physician of much renown, with whom I had the good fortune to become acquainted upon the island of Trahlahlah."

Dr. Pythias arose and, despite his lameness, made a graceful obeisance which was acknowledged by the President in a most charming manner. "Dr. Pythias," said she, "is thrice welcome to Sumar Viteneliz as the friend and guest of him who is to become my consort."

"He is indeed a friend," continued General Gullible, "one whom your excellency will esteem as I do when you learn that he is the magician who can make possible the fulfillment of our mutual happiness. Had General Gullible no recollection of his native land he would love you as you do him. He would not postpone the wedding day a month, much less a year. The good angel who can make all this possible is Dr. Pythias. He is the discoverer of a wonderful medicine which, if taken in certain quantities for three days in succession, will efface all recollection of past events and places so far as they interfere with the happiness of the candidate for oblivion. He is ready to administer to me this peculiar decoction of lotus-leaves and promises to blot out from my memory all personal knowledge of America and its inhabitants. In my gratitude I have already pledged him the American Eagle if he shall make good his words. I will now lay the matter before your excellency for a final decision. The operation, he assures me, involves no loss of faculties or desirable knowledge."

Methinks I still see her tremble and stare as if crazed with sudden happiness. She covered her lover's countenance with kisses; she knelt to Dr. Pythias—to me—and bedewed my hands with blissful tears. "Oh, is this indeed true? Is it true, or is it but some rare pleasantry, designed to bear me for a moment to Elysium at the expense of untold misery? But no—I see it by your reverend behavior—you are not mocking me, neither am I dreaming!" Such were her enraptured words.

And thus it transpired that three weeks later Sumar Viteneliz was again decorated with all the extravagance so characteristic of its sybarite inhabitants.

Loudly and clearly the merry bells were ringing on the air. Grandly the organ of the most fashionable church was pealing forth a wedding-march.

And after the ceremony many of the little birds of the park put their heads together on a bough near Dr. Pythias' window and peeped slyly out of the corners of their eyes, as if to say, "We know you, old friend, in spite of your disguise, but never, never shall we reveal our secret."

I sought Razmora and Dandelion, and, when we had locked the door of the Rookery, threw off my disguise. They were completely bewildered until, to their intense satisfaction, I related my marvelous adventure on the Island of Trahlahlah.

I informed them that, although I was happily released from my hymeneal obligation, I could not leave Petticotia for my native land until the expiration of the sentence recorded against me in the books of the Dress Reform and Social Ethics court. That sentence, as a commutation from one involving the death penalty, was unalterable and could not be shortened or cancelled by further pardon. As an honorable man, who had registered a vow to serve it, I felt bound, therefore, to keep my word. Her excellency, I further stated, had prevailed upon myself (as Dr. Pythias) to name a gift which, she vowed, should be mine, whatever it cost, and count but as a slight token of her gratitude. Conscious, that in order to keep my identity concealed, it would be advisable to leave the capital, I chose a residence in a secluded western valley where the waterfalls laughingly tumble over precipices which seem to touch the sky, and where the scenery in general is suggestive of paradise. In addition to this property, with all its precious minerals, the President pressed upon me an almost princely annual allowance. I invited my friends to accompany me and was much pleased with their ready acceptance.

With ample funds to prosecute our labors for the reestablishment of the Petticotian republic; with the Eagle to convey our proposed publication to the nearest city, and to carry us to the remotest parts of the earth, our outlook was not an uncheerful one. Already I looked forward to the day when my aerial army should arrive from the United States and gather into its maw the reasserted manhood of the dormant republic, there to keep it until woman should acknowledge her error and repent.

The foregoing narrative was not written before I had decided upon the manner of its transmission to my countrymen (together with other papers of a private nature). At the present moment the gallant American Eagle, after having emerged from the underworld at the North Pole, is bearing down upon Greenland. Dandelion sits awed and silent in a corner of our flying apartment and taking copious notes in a large memorandum book. Without violating my oath—without even seeing America, I shall establish communication with my countrymen, and through them send an electric thrill around the world, announcing the glad tiding—The North Pole is discovered and is ours. In the land of the Esquimaux I hope to find a messenger who will carry the intelligence.

We have already fallen into good hands. I have promised the Chief of the Society for the Astonishment of the World (which has a station is this island) that these hurried lines, written in the very excess of my joy, shall contain no information concerning his gigantic enterprise. For (to his scientific mind) most valuable considerations, he has promised to forward my present manuscripts, as well as all future communications, to their destination.

And must I cease now and seal the package?

Oh, my native land, my soul goes out to thee, from these bleak and barren shores, in an unutterable longing which reaches far across the everlasting snows! It is many months since I communicated with thee, land of my birth, pride of my Pilgrim ancestors. Long seems the time since I stretched me under thy umbrageous trees and felt the gentle influence of they emerald face. May no rude hand have disturbed they calm and lofty dignity since we parted. May thy sons and daughters still be sons and daughters, and thy men and women, men and women. And may the day never dawn when amateur world-builders, or vainglorious demagogues, shall, out of thy matchless civilization, shape abortions like the shehes and heshes of Sheheland!


THE END


Roy Glashan's Library
Non sibi sed omnibus
Administered by Matthias Kaether and Roy Glashan
Go to Home Page
This work is out of copyright in countries with a copyright
period of 70 years or less, after the year of the author's death.
If it is under copyright in your country of residence,
do not download or redistribute this file.
Original content added by RGL (e.g., introductions, notes,
RGL covers) is proprietary and protected by copyright.