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

The Fable of The Low-Down Expert on the Subject of Babies

    YOUNG Parents have a way of bragging about their Offspring. Once there was a Mean Man who became weary of their Talk. He knew that each Couple thought that its own particular Cherub was the most Precocious one that ever occurred. But he did not care to hear all about it, so he delved into the Libraries and read all the known Works on the subject of Babies and when he had finished he was Loaded and Primed for any Cocky Young Parent.

    When a grinning and enthusiastic Papa tackled him in the Street and took up his Time with a Story of how little Robbie, only Seven Months Old, could say "Moo" like a Cow, then this Ornery Cynic would pull out his little Book and cite the Case of a Child in Lynn, Massachusetts, who, at the age of Five Weeks, could Imitate a Cow, and say "Dada" whenever the Male Parent came into the Room. He showed a little Table of Statistics indicating that the Average Age at which Infants begin the "Moo" Specialty is about Five Months, so that Robbie was really Backward and some one ought to advise him to Smoke Up.

    One Day a Mother cornered him and exhibited her first and only Izzy-Wizzy and asked him if he had ever seen a Child of that Age with such a full Head of Hair. If he had been the ordinary, polite Hypocrite, he should have expressed Amazement and Delight at the Growth, but he was a Moral Hero with a Mission to perform, so he let her know about a Baby in Michigan that had to have its hair braided in three long Queues at the age of Three Weeks. After that the Mother never spoke to him again.

    He could prove by Huxley that the Grunting Sounds and the Facial Grimaces were not indications of an Early Intelligence bestirring itself, but were caused by Wind on the Tummy.

    In Company one Evening a beaming Papa and Mamma were handing a small, squishy one around from one Guest to another and listening to the Heartfelt Declarations of Rapture. They called the Mean Man's attention to the Fact that the Darling was willing to go to any. Stranger, and asked him if he did not consider it Unprecedented. By way of Reply he brought out some Notes from Scientific Works, proving that a Small Child always shows a Discriminating Affection and a Distrust of Unfamiliar Faces, unless its Faculties are Stunted. He said the Records would show that a Child who will warm up to any Caller usually develops into an Easy Mark for Life Insurance Agents and Confidence Men.

    He knew just when the first Tooth ought to be through the Gum, and at what Age a Tot should manage to Stand by holding on to a Chair, and how soon it ought to begin to speak Pieces and sing "Little Birdy in the Tree."

    It gave him Cruel Joy to prove to Parents that one Baby was about the same as another and that all the Star Performances of little Itchy-Kitchy Pet had been duplicated at least a Million Times in other Nurseries.

    By following these Cold-Blooded Tactics he protected the General Public against one Variety of Bore, but when the Mothers got together of an Afternoon he was read out of Decent Society and the time came when he never received an Invitation to Dinner.

MORAL: Let on to be Interested and Pleased.

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