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Goat-Feathers   By: (1869-1937)

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First Page:

GOAT FEATHERS

BY

Ellis Parker Butler

BOSTON AND NEW YORK HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY The Riverside Press Cambridge

COPYRIGHT, 1918, BY THE CROWELL PUBLISHING COMPANY

COPYRIGHT, 1919, BY ELLIS PARKER BUTLER

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED INCLUDING THE RIGHT TO REPRODUCE THIS BOOK OR PARTS THEREOF IN ANY FORM

G oat F eathers

GOAT FEATHERS

No human being ever tells the whole truth about himself. We seem to be born liars in that particular, all of us, and I am no different. I'm starting out now to tell the bitter, agonizing truth about myself, but before I am through I shall probably be lying at the rate of a mile a minute and cracking myself up something awful! A man can tell only so much truth; then he begins to wabble.

The truth is, I ought to be making as much money as Robert W. Chambers, and winning prizes of honor like Ernest Poole, and I'm not. I ought to be better known as a humorist than George Ade and Mark Twain rolled into one, and I'm not. The trouble with me is that I am always too ready and eager to break away and go gathering goat feathers. If it had not been for that I might be a millionaire or the President of the United States or the leading American Author, bound in Red Russia leather. I might have been a Set of Books, like Sir Walter Scott or Dickens or Balzac, and when people passed my house the natives would say, "No, that isn't the city hall or the court house; that's where Butler lives." Of course some strangers would say, "Butler, the grocer?" but that would be the ignorant few. The real people would whisper, "Butler, the Author!" in a sort of subdued awe and remove their hats. Some of them would pick a blade of grass from my lawn and take it home to hand down to their children's children as the most treasured family possession. As it is, I have gathered so many goat feathers that half the people introduce me as Ellis Butler Parker and the other half as Butler Parker Ellis, and if there is a ton of hay growing on my lawn nobody bothers to pick a pint. My father has to cut it and rake it away.

Goat feathers, you understand, are the feathers a man picks and sticks all over his hide to make himself look like the village goat. It often takes six days, three hours and eighteen minutes to gather one goat feather, and when a man has it and takes it home it is about as useful and valuable to him as a stone bruise on the back of his neck. I have recently spent several days over a month gathering one goat feather, and as a reward I was grabbed and chased after another that ate up two weeks and three days of my time. Goat feathers are the distractions, side lines and deflections that take a man's attention from his own business and keep him from getting ahead. They are the Greatest Thing in the World to make a man look like a goat.

I think I can claim, without fear of dispute, to have gathered more goat feathers in a fifty year career, and to look more like a goat, than any other man living, and not excepting Pooh Bah, who added such a pleasing, goat like character to Gilbert and Sullivan's "Mikado." Pooh Bah, poor amateur! could boast only that he was First Lord of the Treasury, Lord Chief Justice, Commander in Chief, Lord High Admiral, Master of the Buck Hounds, Groom of the Back Stairs, Archbishop of Titipu, Lord Mayor, Lord Chamberlain, Attorney General, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Privy Purse, Private Secretary, Lord High Auditor, First Commissioner of Police, Paymaster General, Judge Ordinary, Master of the Rolls, Secretary of State for the Home Department, Groom of the Second Floor Front, and Registrar. I can beat that all to pieces.

When I wake in the morning as President of the Authors' League Fund I can give some attention to my work as Publicity Manager of the Liberty Loan Committee while preparing to devote an hour or two to the Secretaryship of the Armenian Relief and the Treasurership of the Volunteer Committee for the Fatherless Children of France, before I consider my duties as Vice President of the Flushing Savings and Loan and as Vice President, Director and Member of the Discount Committee of the Flushing National Bank... Continue reading book >>




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