Forty Modern Fables, by George Ade, , at sacred-texts.com
HE was a cold-blooded Tourist who had been Everywhere.
He had seen so many Sights that now nothing could Move him. Everything under the Shining Canopy had become Dull and Ordinary. He was a Track-Sore Performer.
When this Case-Hardened Traveller came back to the Inland Town in which his Family had been set up as the Sacred White Cow for several Generations, it was not because the Burg appealed to him, but because he had Done the World so Thoroughly that all Towns looked alike to him.
For he had run the Gamut of Excitement. What he had Been Through would make a Jules Verne Narrative sound like one of the Elsie Books.
He had been mixed up in so many Stirring Adventures that it was about a Tie between him and Roosevelt.
And now he returned to his Old Home, that had no Attractions except a Free Reading Room and a Basket Ball Team. He felt that he had Played his String and gone his Length. He was what one might term Blasé, although it is not hard to be That in a town which pronounces it Blaze.
He seldom came off of the High Horse or let down from the Pose. He did not Cotton to the Humble Joys of Middle-Class Americans. It was a Matter of Pride with him that his Pulse never jiggled and his Temperature never scooted up to Fever Heat. Any Show of Emotion was regarded as Vulgar.
When the whole Country was having its Quadrennial Epileptic Convulsion, known as the National Campaign, he did not so much as remember the Names of the Candidates.
He went to an Arena to see a Championship Battle between two Grand Little Boys who did 133 at the Ringside. It was a Twenty-Round Quarrel, full of Gore and Knock-Downs, but it never gave him a Tingle. While the Saloon Men were shrieking to the Participants to Beat his Block off and Jam him in the Kisser, the jaded Traveller sat and read a little Book of Sonnets that he had Picked Up in London. After the Kid had been carried out of the Ring, looking like a Hamburger Steak, the Globe-Trotter looked up Wearily and asked what the Score was. It was the same as Cricket to him.
Even at a Foot Ball Game he was Calm as a Graven Image. He never Batted an Eye when the Peerless Half-Back went down the Field like a forked Flash of Lightning, leaving the Gridiron strewn with writhing Giants who were sure to get their Pictures in the Paper, with a Toss-Up between the Obituary Column and the Sporting Page. At the Supreme Moment, when ten thousand Partisans got up on their Hind Legs and yowled like Coyotes and the Girls squealed and fell between the Chairs and loosened their Back Hair, it was then that the Human Refrigerator sat there regarding his Finger Nails and wearing the small dry Smile of the Chap who is Dreadfully Bored.
He was undoubtedly the Champion Wet Blanket. It seemed that nothing short of Electrocution would have sent a Thrill up the Back of His Neck. He could lean up against a Hot Water Pipe and have it Stone Cold on the Count of Ten.
He had what People who know a little French call an Awful Case of the Ennui. Nothing interested him and nothing displeased him. He was Supremely Indifferent. He was the kind that gets up and Saunters out of the Theater when all of the Common Run have Goose Pimples up and down them and their Eyes bulging out, wondering whether the Heroine is going to Come Back at the Nobleman with a Dirk or accept the Money and Fly with him.
One Evening he went to a Party because it was too much Trouble to send Regrets. He sized up the Assemblage with a lack-luster Eye while seated on a Moorish Divan, made in Grand Rapids, Mich. Near him sat a Young Thing with a Baby Stare, whose Brain-Throbs ran about four to the Minute. Her Photograph may be seen in front of any Gallery. She was not a World-Beater as to Shape, Style or General Get-Up. She was Young, but not too Young. The Market Man would have called her a good sizable Broiler. The Globe-Trotter had seen whole Flocks of the Same Kind coming out of Candy Stores and Wednesday Matinees. In Budapest and Paris he had passed up Dozens who had her beaten a Block. And yet she was It.
She sort of squiggled over to make room for other Young People, and her Elbow happened to touch lightly the Dress Coat of the Cold Storage Proposition. He felt a couple of Volts enter his System, and he began to Curl like an Autumn Leaf. He had hunted through Mesopotamia and Matabeleland for a New Sensation without getting it, but he found it good and plenty then and there. lie had heard of the Magnetic Girl, or the Georgia Wonder, but he had not believed that any living Maiden could send the Current crackling into him, for he was a Non-Conductor, and Insulated besides. But little Daisy, the Coming-Out Girl, did the Trick.
He started to Talk to her, but it was Goodby to the Careless Ease of Manner, for he was in a Trance. She held to a Button on his Coat and looked up into his Eyes and chirped about the Favors and the Wax on the Floor, and he felt himself wafted away on a Fleecy Cloud. He, the Cast-Iron Veteran, who had left strange, dark Women pining on Distant Shores, because he would not Warm Up, and whose Pride and Boast it had been that nothing could Jar him, was now scally-hooted to the Queen's Taste, with his Nervous System full of Hard Knots.
His Pulse pounded like a Steam Riveter. Every Chandelier in the Room became a revolving Pin-Wheel. Some one had built a Fire 'under him, and he was slowly Broiling in an Agony of Confused Happiness. She treated him to more White-Hot Emotions in Ten Minutes than he had found in Years of Travel.
All that Night he followed Daisy around like a Trained Collie, and when he saw her dancing with vealy Sophomores and pinning Flowers on them, he went out into the Conservatory, where he upset Flower Pots and gnawed the Geraniums.
Next Day he wrote a Note and sent Orchids and called her up on the 'Phone and walked past the House two or three times. He could not Eat, and he had to put Cold Water on his Temples and take Nerve Food.
He called every Evening unless she headed him off with some Excuse. Usually he found her with several Half-Baked Johnnies, whose Conversation was on the Order of a Colored Supplement. He was Appalled to learn that Daisy regarded them as Funny. Daisy did not care whether a Man had been around the World or only as far as Indianapolis, so long as he could spring Jokes that would make her Giggle.
The Man of the World was in a Fine Box. Like the Fellow in the Song, he couldn't tell why he loved her, but he did. He loved her so hard that he looked Wild out of the Eyes and went around with his Hair mussed Up, which was very Amusing to little Daisy, for she could not see him at all except as a Good Thing when she ran short on Violets and Chocolate Creams. His Record as a Traveller did not make him any Stronger with her. The Aplomb that comes from meeting the Ripping Swells on the Continent never Touched her at all. She simply wanted a nice, gabby Boy who could take a Firm Hold and do the Two-Step for Hours at a time.
The Globe-Trotter went Nanny. He followed her in the Street and tried to Scare her into an Acceptance by threatening to Shoot himself. Whenever he broke into the House he wanted to lean against her and Cry. He got to be a Pest and they had to Blacklist him.
On the Day that Daisy married the Low Comedian of the Amateur Dramatic Club the Globe-Trotter tried to jump off of the Railroad Bridge. His Hair turned White in Six Months. At present he lives as a Hermit in the Old Manse, but sometimes he is encountered late at night Gibbering to himself.
MORAL: Somewhere there is a Daisy waiting with a Battery up her Sleeve.