Puslapio vaizdai

ing. He might have been a teacher of penmanship.

between them. If this is indeed true (and I feel confident that later scientific research will corroborate my findings), shall we not attribute it to the fact that human nature is everywhere fundamentally the

Comparing all these examples of chirography under the microscope, I have reached an important discovery; namely, that there is a certain degree of similarity same?


The Perfect One


Author of "Inside-out," "An Englishwoman's Love Letters," etc.

ANY ages ago there lived in Persia a certain teacher and philosopher named Sabbah who seemed as a shining light to all who looked on him. His courtesy and dignity, his wisdom and humility, his imperturbability of temper, and his charity to all, won for him many followers; and among these there grew toward him so great a devotion that they could see in him nothing amiss. This, they said, was the perfect man whom all the world had been looking for. And because they found no flaw in his character and perceived no limitation in his wisdom, so far as things human were concerned, they called him "the perfect one," and fixing upon him the blind eye of imitation, but shutting upon him the eye of understanding, they sat daily at his feet and hearkened to his sayings; they spoke as he spoke and did as he did, hoping thereby to come in time to a like perfection.

So when, in the contemplation of deep things, the perfect one combed his beard. with his fingers, they (such as had them) combed theirs, and those who had not, made combings in the air where presently their beards would be. And when he ate they ate, and when he fasted they fasted, and when he spat they spat, so as to be at one with him in all things appertaining to conduct. And they were happy in these things, and thought by discipline to come presently to the perfection wherein he seemed perfect.

So when, his hours of teaching being over (for he sat daily in the mosque and taught all that would hear him), he rose

to return to his own house, those that doted on his example would rise and follow him; and where he trod they trod, and if he stayed to look on a piece of merchandise, or to handle a fabric and ask the price of it, they also would stay and look and handle and inquire. And because of these things they were a nuisance to the merchants, and the procession of the perfect one was imperfectly welcomed in the bazaars of that city. So presently the merchants would request the perfect one to go by other ways if he wished not to buy, but to go their way when buying was his intention; for when he bought, then those that followed him bought also.

Now, every day when the perfect one reached his house thus accompanied and attended, he went in and shut the door, and they saw no more of him; and going sadly to their own homes, they wondered and questioned among themselves what he did when the door was shut, so that they also might do likewise, and by that much be nearer to perfection.

And this grew to be so great a debate among them that at last one, greatly daring, making himself spokesman for the rest, said:

"O Perfect One, when you go into your house and shut your door, so that we see no more of you, what is it that you do then? Let us know, that we also it and be perfect, as you are."

may do

And the perfect one answered: "I do many things. If I told you them all, you would not remember."

"Yet you may tell us the first thing," said he who spoke for the rest.

"The first thing?" said Sabbah; and musingly he combed his beard with his fingers, while all the rest did likewise. "The first thing that I do is to stand on my head and stick out my tongue and twiddle my toes, for I find great joy in it."

So that day when all his followers had parted from him and returned each to their own houses, they stood on their heads and stuck out their tongues and twiddled their toes, and found great joy in it.

"Now we be growing perfect," said they.

But the next day one of his followers said to him:

"O Perfect One, why do you do this thing? For though we find joy in it, we know not the celestial reason or the correspondency which makes it seem good." And Sabbah answered:

"I will tell you first what I do, and I will tell you the reasons afterward." So they said to him:

"O Perfect One, what is the next thing that you do?"

And Sabbah said:

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"The next thing that I do? I tell my wife to beat me till I cry out for mercy.' So when his followers returned to their houses that day and had finished their first exercise in perfection, they told their wives to beat them till they cried out for mercy. And their wives did so.

The next day, a little crestfallen and sad, his followers came back to him, and one of them said:

"O Perfect One, after your wife has begun beating you, when do you cry out for mercy? There is a difference of opinion among us, and truly it matters." Sabbah answered:

"I do not cry out for mercy."

At this answer they all looked much astonished and very sorry for themselves, and one who had come that day looking more crestfallen than the rest said: "But I, Perfect One, have ten wives!" Sabbah smiled on him.

"I have none," said Sabbah.

His followers sat and looked at him for a while in silence, then said one: "O Perfect One, why have you done this?"

And the perfect one answered:

"When I go into my house and shut my door, then it is for the relief of being alone and quit of the mockery wherewith you mock me, pretending that I am perfect. It is for that, and to realize the more fully my own imperfection, that I stand on my head and twiddle my toes and stick out my tongue. Then I know that I am a fool. And that is the celestial reason and the correspondency which make me find joy in it.

"Then it is, because I know I am a fool, that I tell my wife to beat me until I cry out for mercy. And truly-and this shall be my last answer-the reason that I have no wife is because I am a wise man."

Then the perfect one arose from his place and went home, according to his custom; nor did any of his followers that time bear him company. But they gazed after him with the open eye of understanding, and, plucking out the blind eye of imitation, cast it from them, and went home full of thought how best to solve the domestic problem which there awaited them.

"Now I am at peace," said the perfect one, shutting his door.



Vol. 95


No. 3

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A Source of Irritation

Author of "The Friends," "Olga Bardel," etc.
Illustrations by Thomas Fogarty

O look at old Sam Gates you would never suspect him of having nerves. His sixty-nine years of close application to the needs of the soil had given him a certain earthy stolidity. To observe him. hoeing, or thinning out a broad field of turnips, hardly attracted one's attention, he seemed so much part and parcel of the whole scheme. He blended into the soil like a glorified swede. Nevertheless, the half-dozen people who claimed his acquaintance knew him to be a man who suffered from little moods of irritability.

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Roughborough. He either went or did. n't go to church on Sundays. He had had many interesting chats with Mr. James at the Cowman, and three years ago had sold a pig to Mrs. Way. But he could n't always have interesting noos of this sort up his sleeve. Did n't the silly zany know that for the last three weeks he had been hoeing and thinning out turnips for Mr. Hodge on this very same field? What noos could there be?

Now, this may not appear to the casual reader to be a remark likely to cause irritation, but it affected old Sam Gates. as a very silly and unnecessary question. He blinked at his niece, and did n't anIt was, moreover, the constant repetition swer. She undid the parcel and said: of it which was beginning to anger him. "Mrs. Goping's fowl got out again last He met his niece twice a day. In the night." Copyright, 1917, by THE CENTURY Co. All rights reserved.


"Ah," he replied in a non-committal manner and began to munch his bread and bacon. His niece picked up the handkerchief and, humming to herself, walked back across the field.

It was a glorious morning, and a white sea mist added to the promise of a hot day. He sat there munching, thinking of nothing in particular, but gradually subsiding into a mood of placid content. He noticed the back of Aggie disappear in the distance. It was a mile to the cottage and a mile and a half to Halvesham. Silly things, girls. They were all alike. One had to make allowances. He dismissed her from his thoughts, and took a long swig of tea out of a bottle. Insects buzzed lazily. He tapped his pocket to assure himself that his pouch of shag was there, and then he continued munching. When he had finished, he lighted his pipe and stretched himself comfortably. looked along the line of turnips he had thinned and then across the adjoining field of swedes. Silver streaks appeared on the sea below the mist. In some dim way he felt happy in his solitude amidst this sweeping immensity of earth and sea and sky.


And then something else came to irritate him: it was one of "these dratted airyplanes." "Airyplanes" were his pet aversion. He could find nothing to be said in their favor. Nasty, noisy, disfiguring things that seared the heavens and made the earth dangerous. And every day there seemed to be more and more of them.

Of course "this old war" was responsible for a lot of them, he knew. The war was a "plaguy noosance." They were short-handed on the farm, beer and tobacco were dear, and Mrs. Steven's nephew had been and got wounded in the foot.

He turned his attention once more to the turnips; but an "airyplane" has an annoying genius for gripping one's attention. When it appears on the scene, however much we dislike it, it has a way of taking the stage-center. We cannot help constantly looking at it. And so it was with old Sam Gates. He spat on his

hands and blinked up at the sky. And suddenly the aeroplane behaved in a very extraordinary manner. It was well over the sea when it seemed to lurch drunkenly and skimmed the water. Then it shot up at a dangerous angle and zigzagged. It started to go farther out, and then turned and made for the land. The engines were making a curious grating noise. It rose once more, and then suddenly dived downward, and came plump down right in the middle of Mr. Hodge's field of swedes.

And then, as if not content with this desecration, it ran along the ground, ripping and tearing up twenty-five yards of good swedes, and then came to stop.

Old Sam Gates was in a terrible state. The aeroplane was more than a hundred yards away, but he waved his arms and called out:

"Hi, you there, you must n't land in they swedes! They 're Mister Hodge's."

The instant the aëroplane stopped, a man leaped out and gazed quickly round. He glanced at Sam Gates, and seemed uncertain whether to address him or whether to concentrate his attention on the flying-machine. The latter arrangement appeared to be his ultimate decision. He dived under the engine and became frantically busy. Sam had never seen any one work with such furious energy; but all the same it was not to be tolerated. It was disgraceful. Sam started out across the field, almost hurrying in his indignation. When he appeared within earshot of the aviator he cried out again:

"Hi! you must n't rest your old airyplane here! You 've kicked up all Mr. Hodge's swedes. A noice thing you 've done!"

He was within five yards when suddenly the aviator turned and covered him with a revolver! And speaking in a sharp, staccato voice, he said:

"Old Grandfather, you must sit down. I am very much occupied. If you interfere or attempt to go away, I shoot you. So!"

Sam gazed at the horrid, glittering little barrel and gasped. Well, he never! To be threatened with murder when

you're doing your duty in your employer's private property! But, still, perhaps the man was mad. A man must be more or less mad to go up in one of those crazy things. And life was very sweet on that summer morning despite sixty-nine years. He sat down among the swedes.

The aviator was so busy with his cranks and machinery that he hardly deigned to pay him any attention except to keep the revolver handy. He worked feverishly, and Sam sat watching him. At the end of ten minutes he appeared to have solved his troubles with the machine, but he still seemed very scared. He kept on glancing round and out to sea. When his repairs were complete he straightened his back and wiped the perspiration from his brow. He was apparently on the point of springing back into the machine and going off when a sudden mood of facetiousness, caused by relief from the strain he had. endured, came to him. He turned to old Sam and smiled, at the same time remarking:

"Well, old Grandfather, and now we shall be all right, is n't it?"

He came close up to Sam, and then suddenly started back.

"Gott!" he cried, "Paul Jouperts!" Bewildered, Sam gazed at him, and the madman started talking to him in some foreign tongue. Sam shook his head. "You no roight," he remarked, "to come bargin' through they swedes of Mr. Hodge's."

And then the aviator behaved in a most peculiar manner. He came up and examined Sam's face very closely, and gave a sudden tug at his beard and hair, as if to see whether they were real or false.

"What is your name, old man?" he said. "Sam Gates."

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and sprang out again and, approaching Sam, said very deliberately: "Old Grandfather, I shall require you to accompany me." Sam gasped.

"Eh?" he said. "What be talkin' about? 'Company? I got these 'ere loines. o' turnips-I be already behoind-"

The disgusting little revolver once more flashed before his eyes.

"There must be no discussion," came the voice. "It is necessary that you mount the seat of the car without delay. Otherwise I shoot you like the dog you are. So!"

Old Sam was hale and hearty. He had no desire to die so ignominiously. The pleasant smell of the Norfolk downland was in his nostrils; his foot was on his native heath. He mounted the seat of the car, contenting himself with a mutter:

"Well, that be a noice thing, I must say! Flyin' about the country with all they turnips on'y half thinned!"

He found himself strapped in. The aviator was in a fever of anxiety to get away. The engines made a ghastly splutter and noise. The thing started running along the ground. Suddenly it shot upward, giving the swedes a last contemptuous kick. At twenty minutes to eight that morning old Sam found himself being borne right up above his fields and out to sea! His breath came quickly. He was a little frightened.

"God forgive me!" he murmured.

The thing was so fantastic and sudden that his mind could not grasp it. He only felt in some vague way that he was going to die, and he struggled to attune his mind to the change. He offered up a mild prayer to God, Who, he felt, must be very near, somewhere up in these clouds. Automatically he thought of the vicar at Halvesham, and a certain sense of comfort came to him at the reflection that on the previous day he had taken a "cooking of runner beans" to God's representative in that village. He felt calmer after that, but the horrid machine seemed to go higher and higher. He could not turn in his seat and he could see nothing

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