Forty Modern Fables, by George Ade, , at sacred-texts.com
THERE was once a Man who owned a Family Nag named Dolly that went flat-footed and kept her Nose on the Ground. She was good for All Day, but she had the Gait of a Side-Wheeler and no Style whatever. Other Drivers would come up behind with their snorting High-Steppers that kept Head up and Tail over the Dash-Board and they would go around Mr. Man and his dun Pelter as if the latter had been hitched.
The Man did not relish the Idea of taking all the Dust on the Road, so he sold Dolly and bought a tall, rangy Gelding with an Eagle Eye and an uneasy desire to climb a Tree. He was out of Paprika by Cayenne and had a Number in the Book. The Owner called him Caloric and had the Name put on the Box Stall. He bought a Runabout with Cushion Tires and a Curb Bit and a new Set of tancolored Harness.
Then he began to hunt for Trouble. It required about three Hired Men to start him away for a Drive-two to keep Caloric on the Ground and another to open the Gate. When the Word was given there would be a low, rushing Sound and something would zip up the Street in a Cloud of Dust. Dogs would bark and Children would fall off the Fence.
When Caloric struck the Speedway he made the other Roadsters look as if they were Oxen. The proud Owner would come home all Splashed and with his Pockets full of Gravel.
All the rest of that day he would stand around and Blow about what he had done to them. Sometimes he chewed a Straw and gave weighty Opinions on Knee-Action and Reach. He began to wear a striped Shirt with a Whip for a Scarf Pin and he had a studded Horse Shoe for a Watch Charm. He cut down Household Expenses in order to buy a Stop Watch. Also, he took down the Fish and Game Painting in the Dining Room and he put up a Picture of Caloric standing in a foxy Attitude looking over a Fence. The Family had Horse for Breakfast, Horse for Luncheon and Horse for Dinner. The only Rest they had was when Father went out on the pumpkin-vine Circuit with Caloric to pull down some of the $30 Purses. At times he made almost enough to pay for Feed.
One Day the local Banker brought in a bay Filly from the Blue Grass Country and began to make his Boasts. A Match was arranged and in three out of five Heats at the Driving Park another World-Beater did the Flicker. Caloric finished a sad Second, with Daylight in between, although he came under the Wire in a Drive.
That Night the Box Stall was festooned with Crape. The Owner's Wife made the Children hush and go to Bed early because Papa was sitting in the Front Room with wide, staring Eyes, a Picture of Grief. She went in and touched him up and asked him if he had got enough of the Horse Game. If so, would he begin to pay a little Attention to his Family?
He said he was going to try a Snaffle Bit and a Pair of Blinders and some Hobbles. He said Caloric would have won, only he had a Sore Toe and got a Burn Start and was crowded into the Soft Footing.
Next Day he engaged a Trainer with an overhanging Mustache and a peaked Cap who subsisted on Navy Plug. This Genius took charge of Caloric and put enough Rigging on him to fit out Shamrock II. The Owner was up at Sunrise to see Caloric worked out and hold the Watch on him. The Family had evening Readings from the Stud Book and the Man began to think that his wife was Slow because she did not know the Time made by Cresceus and Little Boy.
When she filed her Bill for Divorce she alleged that a Horse had come between them.
MORAL: The Ambition to pass everything on the Boulevard does not jibe with a quiet Home Life and an every-day Salary.