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Forty Modern Fables, by George Ade, [1901], at

The Fable of The Good Fellow Who Got the Short End of it

    LIVING in a Country Town there was a Boy who was Easy. When the Gang went fishing they took Him along to carry the Bait, and when they went Swimming in the Deep Hole, he had to stay on the Bank and watch their Clothes.

    His Right Name was Melford Praxiteles Johnson, but he was so good-natured that everybody saluted him as Mel.

    Sometimes he would go out to the Commons, where the Boys were playing Two-Old-Cat, and they would have him act as Back-Stop and chase the Flies. Somebody had to do it, and he was so Accommodating and Friendly he did it rather than delay the Game.

    All the little bull-headed boys, who threatened to take their Bats and go home unless they could have their own way, played the Star Positions.

    When he was a little older he went to a Medical School, where he was promptly tossed up in a Blanket arid then dropped down an Air-Shaft, because the Hazers saw that he was a Good Fellow and would not go and Squeal to the Faculty.

    Mel was a Bright Student, and graduated at the Head of his Class. He won a Set of Instruments for his Thesis on the Osteology of the Supernumerary Digits, and the Dean predicted Great Things for him.

    He hung out a Shingle right across the Street from a Classmate who had finished at the Tail End, and did not know the difference between the Duodenum and the Clavicle. But this Classmate grew Whiskers and wore a Prince Albert and a Tall Hat and Glasses with a Gold Chain and Coughed into his Palm and used Latin Words, and he got the Practice.

    He was a Physician and Mel was Doc.

    If a Man came into Mel's Office, suffering from a Combination of Soft-Shell Crabs and Neapolitan Pudding, it would be like Mel to tell him that he had the Stomach-Ache.

    Then the dissatisfied Patient would go across to see the Physician, who would tell him that he had Acute Gastritis.

    Anybody would rather have Gastritis than Stomach-Ache, so the Physician had his Waiting-Room crowded all the Time.

    The Public could not pin its Faith to a Practitioner who wore a Sack Suit and kept his Hat on the Back of his Head and spoke to the Children along the Street, and never used Double-Jointed Words from the Materia Medica unless he had to.

    Still Doc managed to get some Practice. If any Sufferer happened to be Broke, he went to Doc, because Doc was a Good Fellow, who could be Stood Off. Doc got all the Charity Cases and the Fake across the Street treated all the Women who had Property and Imaginary Complaints.

    Shortly after Doc began to Practise, he fell in Love, but no one took it Seriously. The Girl liked Doc because he was entertaining and liberal, up to his Income, but when he Proposed, his Sense of Humor prevented him from getting down on his Knees and giving her any of this Mrs. E. D. N. Southworth Hanky-Pank.

    She had the usual streak of the Romantic in her Make-Up, and she refused to consider his offhand Request. She gave herself to an opinionated Willie-Boy who was always having himself Photographed in a Dress Suit, and who came at her with a Ten-Minute Speech that he had learned from a Book on "How to Make Love," published by Munro & Co.

    Then because Doc's Philosophy and his Goodness of Heart came to his Rescue and he Forgave her and did not Drink himself to Death or start for the Gold Fields with her Picture next to his Heart, nearly every one said that he had not Cared for her at all and was not capable of the Grand Passion.

    After Doc had struggled along in his Profession for many Years without having any Velvet in front of him, he decided to try for a Political Appointment. Every one seemed to like him and he knew he could get Backing. He thought very well of his Drag. Sure enough, when he applied for a Consulate, all the influential Moguls of the Party signed his Petition. Then they sat down and wrote Private Letters to Back-Cap him.

    They told the President that he was a Good Fellow, but he lacked Dignity and Bearing. They said that he was commonly known as Mel or Doc, that he had a Reputation as a Story-Teller, that he had been a Failure in his Profession, and never accumulated any Property, that he was Careless in his Business Habits and loaned Money to any one who seemed to be in Trouble, and that, therefore, although he had been an Active Worker, possibly the Appointment ought to go to some Man who had more regard for Solemn Responsibilities.

    So the Job was given to a Four-Flush who posed in Public Places and Frowned and kept one Hand inside of his Coat and never said anything because he had Nothing to say.

    Even after this final Throw-Down Doc did not become embittered or cease trying to be a Good Fellow.

    One Day, however, as he was reviewing his Career, he decided that if he had it to do over again, he would be M. Praxiteles Johnson and wear the Front of Jove.

    He realized that he had Erred in trying to be a Mixer. He wished that he had kept his Degree printed on all his Cards and hung an Articulated Skeleton inside of his Office Door. Also, he began to understand that it is advisable to crowd in on the Platform at every public Pow-wow and be played up as a Prominent Citizen. Furthermore, he wished that he had Dressed the same as an Undertaker.

    It would have been a Hard Job to keep up the Monumental Bluff, but then one must always pay a price for True Success.

MORAL: Be Dignified and Serious, if possible.

Next: The Fable of The Husband Who Showed Up and Did the Best He Knew How