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Half-Hours with the Idiot   By: (1862-1922)

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HALF HOURS WITH THE IDIOT

By John Kendrick Bangs

A LITTLE BOOK OF CHRISTMAS A LINE O' CHEER FOR EACH DAY O' THE YEAR HALF HOURS WITH THE IDIOT

HALF HOURS WITH THE IDIOT

BY JOHN KENDRICK BANGS

[Illustration]

BOSTON LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY 1917

Copyright, 1917, BY LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY.

CONTENTS

CHAPTER PAGE I AS TO AMBASSADORS' RESIDENCES 1 II AS TO THE FAIR SEX 22 III HE GOES CHRISTMAS SHOPPING 43 IV AS TO THE INCOME TAX 65 V A PSYCHIC VENTURE 84 VI ON MEDICAL CONSERVATION 101 VII THE U. S. TELEPHONIC AID SOCIETY 119 VIII FOR TIRED BUSINESS MEN 137

I

AS TO AMBASSADORS' RESIDENCES

"I am glad to see that the government is beginning to think seriously of providing Ambassadors' residences at the various foreign capitals to which our Ambassadors are accredited," said the Idiot, stirring his coffee with a small pocket thermometer, and entering the recorded temperature of 58 degrees Fahrenheit in his little memorandum book. "That's a thing we have needed for a long time. It has always seemed a humiliating thing to me to note the differences between the houses of our government officials of equal rank, but of unequal fortune, abroad. To leave the home of an Ambassador to Great Britain, a massive sixteen story mausoleum, looking like a collision between a Carnegie Library and a State Penitentiary, with seven baths and four grand pianos on every floor, with guides always on duty to show you the way from your bedchamber to the breakfast room, and a special valet for each garment you wear, from sock to collar, and go over to Rome and find your Ambassador heating his coffee over a gas jet in a hall bedroom on the top floor of some dusty old Palazzo, overlooking the garage of the Spanish Minister, is disconcerting, to say the least. It may be a symptom of American fraternity, but it does not speak volumes for Western Hemispherical equality, and the whole business ought to be standardized. An American Embassy architecturally should not be either a twin brother to a Renaissance lunatic asylum, or a replica of a four thousand dollar Ladies' Home Journal bungalow that can be built by the owner himself working Sunday afternoons for eight hundred dollars, exclusive of the plumbing."

"You are right for once, Mr. Idiot," said the Bibliomaniac approvingly. "The last time I was abroad traveling with one of those Through Europe in Ten Days parties, I could not make up my mind which was the more humiliating to me as an American citizen, the lavish ostentation of one embassy, or the niggardly squalor of another; and it occurred to me then that here was a first class opportunity for some patriot to come along and do his country's dignity some good by pruning a little in one place, and fattening things up a bit in another."

"Quite so," said the Idiot, inhaling a waffle.

"And I have been hoping," continued the Bibliomaniac, "that Congress would authorize the purchase of suitable houses in foreign capitals for the purpose of correcting the evil."

"That's where we diverge, sir," said the Idiot, "as the lady said to her husband, when they got their first glimpse of the courthouse at Reno. We don't want to purchase. We want to build. The home of an American Ambassador should express America, not the country to which he is sent to Ambass. There's nothing to my mind less appropriate than to find a diplomat from Oklahoma named, let us say, Dinkelspiel, housed in a Louis Fourteenth chateau on the Champs Eliza; or a gentleman from Indiana dwelling in the palace of some noble but defunct homicidal Duck of the Sforza strain in Rome; or a leading Presbyterian representing us at Constantinople receiving his American visitors in a collection of bargain counter minarets formerly occupied by the secondary harem of the Sublime Porte... Continue reading book >>




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