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

The Fable of The Man Who Was Going to Retire

    A BUSINESS Slave was pulling like a Turk so that his Wife could wear three Rings on every Finger. Also, he wanted to put aside something for a Rainy Day. He put it aside as if expecting another Deluge.

    He always said that he was going to Retire when he had Enough. When he was 20 years old he hoped to amass $10,000. At 30 he saw that he would not be able to peg along on less than $100,000. When he was 40 he realized that a Man that didn't have a Million was little better than a Tramp. At 50 he wanted to make the Elkins-Widener Syndicate look like a band of Paupers.

    At 60 he still promised himself that he would retire. Just as soon as he had cabbaged everything Getatable, then he was going to lie back in an Invalid Chair and read the 18,000 Books he had collected, but he had not found time to cut the Leaves.

    In order to get ready for his Lay-Off he built a Home in the Country. He told the Architect to throw himself on something compared with which Windsor Castle would be a Woodman's Hut. He decided on a Deer Park, a Poultry Farm and Ancestral Oaks, so as to have something Ancestral.

    He put up a Shack that reminded one of the State Capitol at Springfield. It was big enough for a Soldiers' Home. The Family consisted of himself and his Wife, and the Architect allowed them 19 Bath-Rooms apiece.

    The Rugs and Tapestries cost $1.75 a Thread. Every Painting was fresh from the Salon and had the Cost-Mark attached to show that it was Good Goods.

    When the Place was completed he handed the Business over to the Junior Partners and went out to Rest. He turned on all the Fountains and ordered the Birds to strike up. The Dream of his Life had come True. He had no Cares, no Responsibilities. All he had to do was sit there and watch the Grass grow.

    He enjoyed it for nearly 25 minutes and then he began to Fidget, so he went and sat in the Marie Antoinette Room for a while and counted the Stripes in the Fresco. Afterward he took a Turn about the Grounds and came back and wondered if everything was running along all right at the Office.

    "Gee, but this is Tame!" said the Retired Hustler. "I think I'd better take a little Run into Town to be sure that the Under-Strappers are not making a Botch of it."

    At 11 o'clock he was back at the Old Stand, hovering about like an Uneasy Spirit. He looked over the Correspondence and dictated a few Letters and got the Noise in his Ears and he began to feel Good again.

    His Associates told him to clear out and play with the Deer and the Prize Chickens.

    "I have been Associating with them all Morning," was the Reply. "They did not seem disposed to close any Contracts, so their Society palled on me. Besides, I have been looking around and see that you can't get along without me. Furthermore, it is all Tommy-Rot for a man of 68 and just entering the Prime of Life to talk of Retiring."

    When the Reaper finally came the old Gentleman was found in the Tread-Mill but he was still counting on making use of the Country Place, next Year or possibly the Year after.

MORAL: One cannot Rest except after steady Practice.

Next: The Fable of The Bookworm and The Butterfly Who Went into the Law