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A Desperate and Despicable Dwarf: Section Twenty Six

       Last updated: Saturday, October 16, 2004 01:19 EDT



    God's Own Tooth thought upon these words, all the while examining me with the hooded eyes of an executioner. At length, he sighed; and nodded agreement.

    "Thou hast spoken well, psychiatrist. The natural tendency of man, in the mass, is to go down with the universal current into oblivion. In the case of this man, we see the forward scout. And besides, as you say, he is a clerk;—and what's lower yet, a scribe. And just as there is nothing namable but that some men will, or undertake to, do it for pay; so, more loathsome yet, there is nothing namable but that some men will write about the doing of it by others. Such men are called scribes, and are suffered to live solely that did they not write down the event, the event had not happened. But, as you say, the scribe as a species is slothful, and low, and insectile, and verminous, and thus to be trusted."

    Again, he fixed me with basilisk gaze.

    "Thus do I suffer the scribe to live;—but hear me well, scribbler! In the matter of which you have just heard, the matter of the wizard, be the front of thy face to me as the palm of this hand—a lipless, unfeatured blank. God is for ever God, man. This whole act's immutably decreed. I am the Lord's lieutenant; I act under orders. Look thou, underling! that thou obeyest mine."

    "Bart! Bart! Just plain Bart!"

    "Bah! Dost thou take me for a fool? Thou art no Bart, nor Bill, nor Bob! Thou art a hideous scribe, and thus named pretentiously—but if thou cross me in this, wretch, be assured I shall cast your soul into the very abyss of perdition, where sharks do most socially congregate, and most hilariously feast. Oh, horrible vulturism of the pit! from which not the lowliest clerk is free;—where, in its murderous bowels, this hell-centered earth is cemented with bones of millions of the damned."

    "Well!" exclaimed the giant. "That seems plain enough."

    My employer's hot gaze now transferred itself to the giant.

    "Yet, I am beset by doubts. Is this tale to be believed?"

    "To be believed?" cried the giant. "It comes straight from the lips of the lunatic Wolfgang Laebmauntsforscynneweëld! His tale,—spoken into my very ears!"

    "Exactly so. The tale, as you say, of a lunatic."

    The giant's face exuded a certain smug certainty. "Ah, yes;—but a lunatic's tale deciphered by myself, Doctor Wolfgang Laebmauntsforscynneweëld, the world's pre-eminent psychiatrist. Ably assisted, I might add, on those occasions where the madman lapsed into sullenness, by the less cerebral efforts of the loyal chief of the security guard, Wolfgang Laebmauntsforscynneweëld; or, "Captain Biff", as he prefers to be called."

    God's Own Tooth was clearly swayed by these words; yet, he seemed uncertain still.

    "But come!" cried the giant. "Why debate we this matter? Both the lunatic and the guard are here at hand, ready to be summoned. You shall hear the madman's words for yourself!"

    On the instant, the giant's face,—indeed, his entire vast form,—underwent the most bizarre contortions and acrobatics.


    Sit, Wolfgang. Stay, boy,—boy! Stay! Ah! He is obstreperous. Desist, lunatic! Desist at once! Ah! Ah! So be it! You know the penalty when you're disobedient!"

    Here the giant's face began a fearsome drooling and wailing.

    "Captain Biff! Come at once! Wolfgang is misbehaving!"

    The giant's shoulders suddenly hunched; his entire body assuming an air of brutishness.


    Subdue me this madman, Biff!"

    "Sure, boss," growled the giant, leering now with a sullen lust. He reached back a huge right hand, and, clasping the collar of his shirt in a fist like a stump, shook himself violently.

    "Enough of that, you dog! Enough, I say!"

    I shall, I believe, now change somewhat the manner in which I narrate this tale, insofar as it touches on the odd threesome of Wolfgang, Dr. Wolfgang, and "Captain Biff" Laebmauntsforscynneweëld. For, as is plain to the reader, and strange as it might seem, these three individuals were yet, though individuals, denizens of the same material body; though three, they were also one. And thus it will not do to portray them as if they were so many distinct actors upon a stage. For, in truth, they themselves,—or rather, their person,—was the very stage upon which the play was performed, much as the soul is glued inside of its fleshly tabernacle, and cannot freely move about in it, nor even move out of it, without running great risk of perishing (like an ignorant pilgrim crossing the snowy peaks in winter).

    Here, then, the ensuing drama:

Dr. Wolfgang "Captain Biff" Wolfgang
    Let us see what the lunatic has to say. Biff, would you be so kind?
    Oh, no! Please!
    Sure, boss. I'll make the loony squeal. (He seizes himself by the throat and begins beating himself with a rubber hose.) Talk, you dirty bastard! Talk!     No! No!
    Yes! Yes!
    (Very vigorous blows here.)     I'll babble! I'll babble! Oh! Oh! That hurts! You brute! You beast!
    Ah, excellent, excellent! I tell you, holy one, mind without matter is nothing, nothing; a phantasm of the puerile, semi-insane masses. This truth is at the heart of all psychiatric science and therapy. At the same time, the observer—the objective, sober, clinical, detached observer (he develops an erection) is always necessary for the comprehension of the truth and the fruition of the treatment.     Talk! Talk!

Take that! And that! Oh, boy—lookit 'im drool, boss, lookit 'im drool!

    Oh! Oh! Oh! I'm babbling! I'm babbling! (He does, indeed, babble.)

(Babble, babble, babble.)

    (Huge quantities of drool.)
    Yes, I see. Good work, Biff! Good work!     Talk, you filthy, slimy dog! Talk! (He develops an erection.)     (Babble! Drool, drool. Babble, babble, babble!)
    Well, I think we've heard enough. You can stop the therapy now, Biff.     (He develops an erection.)
    He's talking now, boss! He's squealing like a pig!     (Unbelievably foam-flecked, drooling, squealing babble here.)
    Oh, boy! Oh, boy!

    Oh, boy! Oh, boy!

    Oh, boy! Oh, boy!
    Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh!
    Rats.     Rats.

    The psychiatrist beamed at God's Own Tooth. "You see? You heard for yourself!"

    "Bah!" snarled my employer. "All I heard was babble and gibberish."

    The psychiatrist snorted. "Well, I should hope! The man's an idiot! Of course, he babbles gibberish. Were he capable of coherent speech, he would not be my patient. Even so, in the babble of such a one is there a fountain of truth; for, look you, holy one, in such a moron there can be no dissemblance. His mind is not capable of being twisted by ulterior motive; for no mercy, no power but its own controls it. Panting and snorting like a mad battle steed that has lost its rider, the masterless mind overruns the globe of its brain."

    "But is yonder mind a pure mind, mad though it may be? Or does not, rather, the serpent of evil coil within it, as the worm in the rotten fruit?"

    The psychiatrist shook his head sadly. "You do my patient an injustice, holy one. There is, in him, no more of evil than there is of sense. Stricken with lunacy in his youth, from that hour the giant imbecile went about the world an idiot. The brain had jeeringly kept his finite body up, but drowned the infinite of his soul. Not drowned entirely, though. Rather carried down alive to wondrous depths, where strange shapes of the unwarped primal world glided to and fro before his passive eyes; and the miserman, Wisdom, revealed his hoarded heaps; and among the joyous, heartless, ever-juvenile eternities, Wolfgang saw the multitudinous, God-omnipresent, coral insects, that out of the firmament of waters heaved the colossal orbs. He saw God's foot upon the treadle of the loom, and spoke it; and therefore his countrymen called him mad. So man's insanity is heaven's sense; and wandering from all mortal reason, man comes at last to that celestial thought, which, to reason, is absurd and frantic; and weal or woe, feels then uncompromised, indifferent as his God."

    After a moment, God's Own Tooth nodded his gray-haired head, saying, "Just so." He glanced at me, sidelong, shrewdly, and asked, "Have you recorded all this matter, scribe?"

    "Oh, yes, sir! I have! I have! Yes, I have! Me,—Bart. Just plain Bart!" 'Twas an arrant lie, of course; I had recorded not a whit of it. 'Tis the great advantage of shorthand, that it can be read by none but a scribe; thus do the mighty of the earth think their deeds recorded, when they see a handful of chicken scratches upon a page. Such a handful there were on the pages of my notebook before me, to be sure; but of what they told, I could not tell you. I have never learned to write shorthand, it being such a dreadful, dreary, dull business. But chicken scratches I long ago mastered.

    And what if I were caught in the subterfuge, you ask? But how so? For the lunatic's tale,—or rather, his babble as interpreted by a psychiatrist after extraction by a sadist, and this, mind you, the joint product of the trifurcated mentality of a oozonian creature,—was the purest nonsense ever spouted on this earth by man or parrot. A wizard, a dwarf, a dream; upon this slender reed, assuming the reed were not a fancy itself, arose a veritable ziggurat of phantastical imaginations, layer piled upon layer of feverish delusions, the lot interconnected but by a steep stair of allegory and cant.

    Not, mind you, that I mind scribing a tale worth the telling. But for this,—I refuse to labor on the deeds of a wizard, and,—a dwarf! Such, and so magnifying, is the virtue of a large and liberal theme! We expand to its bulk. To scribe mighty notes, you must be presented with a mighty theme. No great and enduring transcript can ever be written on the dwarf, though many there be who have tried it. I, not amongst them.

    But, perhaps my reader grows peevish; wracked with disquiet that he might have missed some notable trivia. Very well! If you now desire the population of Wolfgang's tale, I will give you, in round numbers, the statistics, according to the most reliable estimates made upon the spot:

    Sane men,.............................none

    Sane women,........................unknown


    Goimric cretins,...................500,000




    Cretins, other than Goimric,... 10,000,000


    Making a clean total of.........11,000,002

    exclusive of an incomputable host of fiends, goblins, gargoyles and demons. There you have it; the wizard's tale, as babbled by an idiot.

    But God's Own Tooth saw it otherwise. Indeed, after some long and lowering silence, he erupted in a monomaniacal manner. Obsessed, as he appeared to be, by the figure of this wizard, this Zulkeh. Whence this obsession?—Who knows? Who can know? For what can more partake of the mysterious than an antipathy spontaneous and profound such as is evoked in certain exceptional mortals by the mere aspect of some other mortal?

    I give you his claims:

    "It smells like the left wing of the day of judgement; it is an argument for the pit!" With these words, he began.

    "Depravity, natural depravity—therein lies the wizard's wont, weal, wisdom,—his all."

    The psychiatrist shook his head. "Oh, I think not, holy one! He is abstraction on legs; a vacuum; a man who, though vile and foolhardy in his thoughts, has no more blood in him than a carrot."

    "Bah!" snarled my employer. "Thou hast not begun to fathom the true nature of depravity, natural depravity. Blood, fury, tempest,—bah! For all thine degrees of doctoral erudition, psychiatrist, thou art as one with those rude, uncultivated natures whose conception of human wickedness were necessarily of the narrowest, limited to ideas of vulgar rascality—a thief during the night, or the harlots of the seaports. No, no;—not many are the examples of this depravity which the gallows and the jail supply. At any rate, for notable instances such as Zulkeh, for such as he have no vulgar alloy of the brute in them, but invariably are dominated by intellectuality, one must go elsewhere. Natural depravity, this you will not find in nature. Civilization, especially if of the austerer sort, is auspicious to it. It folds itself in the mantle of respectability. It has its certain negative virtues serving as silent auxiliaries. An uncommon prudence is habitual with the subtler depravity, for it has everything to hide. It never allows wine to get within its guard. It is not going too far to say that it is without vices or small sins. There is a phenomenal pride in it that excludes them. It is never mercenary or avaricious. In short, the depravity here meant partakes nothing of the sordid or sensual."



    Following these thoughtful words, spoken softly, slowly, solemnly, my employer fell silent, his eyes downcast. Then, some time later:

    "But the thing which in eminent instances signalizes so exceptional a nature is this: Though the man's even temper and discreet bearing would seem to intimate a mind peculiarly subject to the law of reason, not the less in heart he would seem to riot in complete exemption from that law, having apparently little to do with reason further than to employ it as an ambidexter implement for effecting the irrational. That is to say: Toward the accomplishment of an aim which in wantonness of atrocity would seem to partake of the insane, he will direct a cool judgment sagacious and sound. These men are madmen, and of the most dangerous sort."

    The psychiatrist cocked his great head quizzically.

    "And just what would this irrational atrocity be, toward which Zulkeh would bend his sound and sagacious judgement?"

    God's Own Tooth ground his teeth. "The Rule of Science and Reason," he spat, "than which there is no greater affront to God's Will."

    "What? What?" cried Dr. Wolfgang. "The impious wretch!" foamed the psychiatrist, blackening in the face, "I will publish his infidel notions!" So great was the Doctor's agitation, that, for a moment, he dissolved into his several parts:

"...neglected merit, genius ignored, or impotent presumption rebuked?" he mused, "—all of which three amount to much the same thing.

What an idiot!"
"Beat the bastard to a pulp! A doctor of philosophy, is he? A wizard, is he? I'll give him his education, I will! Agony 101! Torment 1-A!

What an idiot!"
Oh! Oh! What a fine turn of phrase! The wizard's a lunatic himself! Irrational in his reason! A babbling bookworm! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! What an idiot!"

    "Thou hast seen it, then?" demanded God's Own Tooth. "The wizard's goal is to think. To use his head, that hive of subtlety. But to think's audacity. God only has that right and privilege."

    "Quite so!" cried the psychiatrist.

    Here God's Own Tooth lost all semblance of tranquility. Shaking, quaking, quivering, he rose to his feet and clenched his bony fists.

    "Science!" he bellowed. "Curse thee, thou vain toy; and cursed be all the things that cast man's eyes aloft to that heaven, whose live vividness but scorches him. Level by nature to this earth's horizon are the glances of man's eyes; not shot from the crown of his head, as if God had meant him to gaze upon the firmament. Curse thee, thou Reason! Aye," leaping and stamping about, "thus I trample on thee, thou paltry thing that feebly pointest on high; thus I split and destroy thee!" Here, my employer fell upon his back; then, as if clutching a great spear, made furious thrusting motions in mid-air. "To the last I grapple with thee; from hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee!"

    He sprang to his feet and capered about the room, scattering cobwebs with frantic thrusts of his spearless hands. "I shall destroy Zulkeh! I shall not rest satisfied till I gaze upon that burnt-out crater of his brain! I'll ten times girdle the unmeasured globe; yea and dive straight through it, but I'll slay him yet!"

    He was intent on an audacious, immitigable, and supernatural revenge. And, though it may seem excessive to the cause, which, when all is said and done, was a sorcerer's inapt augury, when in anybody was revenge in its exactions aught else but an inordinate usurer? Such, at least, were mine own sentiments; which, alas, were apparently too evident upon my visage. For my employer now bestowed his hot gaze upon me.

    "Thou think me excessive, clerk? Insane, myself? Obsessed? Compulsed? Speak, thou wretch!"

    "Bart! Bart! Ding, dong, ding! Just plain Bart!"

    He seized my by the throat in a sinewy hand and raised me up.

    "Hearest thou me, scrivener," he hissed. "I shalt tell you the secret tale. The enmity twixt I and the sorcerer is as ancient as time. For when the Lord smote the Beast Himself, and scattered the Old Ones, and humbled them, and broke them, and bridled them, there were then, among others, two who stood forth. The one was named Fred, and was called a friend of Joe. An odd friend, it was said; a bemused friend; an absent-minded friend; a self-absorbed friend; but a true friend, for the Hairy Crooked Beast had invented books, and Fred loved books before all things. Alas, this Fred was soft-spoken, and retiring, and not given to ostentatious display; I sayest alas, for the Lord was not then subtle to the wickedness of men, and so did this Fred escape His wrath. And having so escaped, did wander the world and begin to sow the cankrous mischief, the pustule, the great worm called Science, that coils in man's breast. Aye, he, and those he trained, and those trained by them, and those by them, and those by them, until, this very day, that long line of sulphurous iniquity and deviltry finds its final champion in this,—this certain Zulkeh of Goimr, physician. That foul, perfidious, and errant creature; but, to give him his due, the second greatest actual sorcerer in the world."

    With a sneer, he cast me to the floor. Then, looming above me like some ancient, crabbed, crooked, druidical tree, intoned the following:

    "But, knowest thou, wretched scribe, that there stood forth another on that fateful day when Time began;—for all before it was Chaos and Vileness—; yea, I say,—another! No friend of Joe, he! Nay! Nay! He despised the Furry One! A Godly man! The First Godfearing Man! The Righteous Man! The man named Rush!" My employer scowled. "It is true, other names was he called, by the Old Ones. The Sycophant; the Truckler;—"

    Here Wolfgang contributed:

(sorrowfully:) "-- the Back-Slapper --" (sullenly:) (gleefully:)
"-- the Apple-Polisher --"

"—the Toad! The Stooge! The Lackey! The Lick-spittle! The Boot-Licker! The Ass-Kisser! The Suck-Ass! The Scab! The Flunky! The Groveler! The Reptile! The Jackal! The Leech! The Yes Man! The Hyena! The Blowhard! The Blowfish! The Mouthpiece! The Scumbag! The Slimy Worthless Brown-Nosing Fat-Ass Motherfucker! Hey, Fat-Boy, Pucker Up!—The Boss Wants Another Blow Job!

Better Yet—Bend Over, Rush, the Big Man Likes Lard On His Cornhole! Hey—Oh! Oh! Oh! That hurts! Oh! Oh!

"I say!"
"Shut up, you fucking idiot!"
"That's enough!"
"Shut up, you! Or I'll beat you bloody!"
"Captain Biff! If you would!" "Sure, boss!" (Once again, the rubber hose.)

    Decorum restored, God's Own Tooth continued.

    "Aye,—Rush the Righteous, the Lord named him, and bade him be His hound on earth, to ferret out the ungodly and smite them with woe! And so did he do, and raised others akin to that holy calling, and those others trained others, who trained others, who trained others until, this very day, that long line of sanctity and godliness finds its final champion in this,"—here pointing to his breast,—"this certain God's Own Tooth, who am, to give truth its name, the greatest actual sorcerer in the world."

    He fell silent, for a moment; then, casting his glance at the psychiatrist, said softly:

    "The Realm of Words, you say? He seeks the fallen one, I doubt me not. 'Tis fitting; vileness unto vileness goes. I depart, then—"

    "A moment, holy one!" exclaimed Dr. Wolfgang. The giant arose and, reaching into his cloak, withdrew a box. An odd, hinged box; pierced with little holes.

    "I brought you a gift! A fitting gift, too, for I obtained it from Zulkeh himself, did he but know it!"

    "From Zulkeh?" demanded my employer, seeming not too pleased.

    "From his lair, I should say. But,—see for yourself! It's a precious thing! A rare jewel, to add to your collection."

    And so saying, the psychiatrist opened the box,—and the monster emerged!

    In the distance, across the room, a great black mass lazily rose, and rising higher and higher, and disentangling itself from the box, at last gleamed before my sight like obsidian, new cast from the hills;—innumerable long arms radiating from its centre, and curling and twisting like a nest of anacondas, as if blindly to clutch at any hapless object within reach. No perceptible face or front did it have; no conceivable token of either sensation or instinct; but undulated there on the box's edges, an unearthly, formless, chance-like apparition of life.

    "What a treasure!" cried my employer, in a voice which, for the first time in our acquaintance, held a trace of joy and gladness in it. "Is it—?" he asked, as if half-afraid of the answer.

    "It is, sir, it is most surely!" came the psychiatrist's reply. "The rarest of them all! The deadliest! The greatest! And from the wizard's own ground!—there's the irony of it!"

    God's Own Tooth advanced and gazed more closely at the horror.

    "'Tis aged, aged," he muttered. "Aged almost unto death."

    Then, in a gesture I should never have expected, he snapped his fingers gaily. "But what of it! Did I not, just this moment passed, name myself the world's greatest sorcerer. So I did!—and so I am!"

    He reached out and took the box. Gently, he closed the lid, and set the box upon the table.

    "Fear not, thou fell instrument of God! I shall restore thy life, and thy strength, and thy fierce, fanatic, fury!—Aye, and more! Under my care shalt thou grow, and prosper, and become the Mammoth of the Lord! Thou shalt cast down his enemies, and smite them, and harrow them! Oh, aye! Oh, aye!"

    I declare, now he danced a jig!

    The jig done, he gathered his cloak about him, and bowed to the psychiatrist.

    "Dr. Wolfgang, Godferret Auxiliary Number One, I thank you for your services. And now, I must depart. The wizard awaits my vengeance."

    The giant bowed in return, and left the room. I rose, thinking to do likewise, but my employer fixed me with a gaze.

    "And where dost thou?" he demanded. "Thou goest nowhere save by my side. For I mean me to slay the mage, and I must have his ending scribed! Else," he muttered, turning away, "'twill not have happened."

    I made as if to protest, but a sudden shout arose from God's Own Tooth, a shout made as from an anvil and a thousand hammers, and a swirl came upon the room, and a fogginess in my brain, and a whirling, and colored smoke flew everywhere, and I seemed to arise into the heavens, where, far beneath the fantastic towers of man's upper earth, his root of grandeur, his whole awful essence sits in bearded state; an antique buried beneath antiquities, and throned on torsoes! Or so, at least, it seemed at the time.

    Of the time which followed, there is little to tell. For I was swept along in the wake of my employer's swooping slide through magical and phantasmagorical realms. Of those realms, I know naught, and can remember little. The general impression was,—of what? A hunt, a great hunt, a fiercely-driven hunt; that, of a certain. And,—an awful lot of words.

    To me, all was confusion; but not, it was clear, to God's Own Tooth.

    Here be it said, that this pertinacious pursuit of one particular mage, continued through day into night, and through night into day, is a thing by no means unprecedented in the annals of wizardry. For such is the wonderful skill, prescience of experience, and invincible confidence acquired by some great natural geniuses among the Godferret commanders; that from the simple observation of a mage when last descried, they will, under certain given circumstances, pretty accurately foretell both the direction in which he will continue for a time, while out of sight, as well as his probable rate of progression during that period. And, in these cases, somewhat as a pilot, when about losing sight of a coast, whose general trending he well knows, and which he desires shortly to return to again, but at some further point; like as this pilot stands by his compass, and takes the precise bearing of the cape at present visible, in order the more certainly to hit aright the remote, unseen headland, eventually to be visited; so does the sorcerer, at his crystal ball, with the mage; for after being chased, and diligently marked, through several realms of everyday life, then, when magic obscured the mage, the creature's future wake through the mystical is almost as established to the sagacious mind of the hunter, as the pilot's coast is to him. So that to this hunter's wondrous skill, the proverbial evanescence of a thing hid in magic, a mage, is to all desired purposes well nigh as reliable as the steadfast land.

    And so, at last, my employer found his quarry. On an island, in a sea of words. Swooping down from the mystic heavens, he alighted on a beach, I at his side.

    "At last!" he cried. "At my mercy!" Snarling over his shoulders: "Take notes, scribe! The historic event looms!"



    From the beach, he stalked into the woods; through the woods, following some unknown sense; then, stopping to spy from a copse of trees; and then, not a moment later, a great cry of woe.

    "But what is this? What is this? This is no mage!"

    I peered over his shoulder. On the beach beyond the line of trees, I saw a most peculiar sight. A young girl and a dwarf, she, or so it seemed, clasping him to her bosom; he, or so it seemed, resisting her advances.

    "Bah!" snarled God's Own Tooth. "That is not Zulkeh. It is naught but his miserable manservant, the dwarf—ah, I forget me his name. Miserable creature! Clearly, the wizard has placed some enchantment upon him, thus to confound my mystic sight. Hiding behind this wretched gnome, my enemy works his evil elsewhere. Come, let's off!"

    He turned, as if to stride away; then, struck by some thought, turned back.

    "But wait! Wait! There's a chance here! Yes—look, scribe! See how the harlot plies the dwarf? See how the subhuman creature resists? Ha! I shall confound yet the wizard's ploy! Debauch his servant and cast him down into the well of time! Curse him, yes! I shall! Disgrace upon him! Disaster upon him! Henceforth shall he be a bane to his master, not a boon!"

    And with these words my employer began muttering a most fell and fearsome curse, the words of which I do not recall for I did not, of course, bother to note them down. A tiresome, toiling business, scribing curses.

    A sudden shimmer came upon the island. On the beach beyond, I saw dwarf and doxy suddenly fall into a passionate embrace, followed, in swift succession, by events which, though frequent and normal in nature, are not suitable for official record.

    "Ha!" cried my employer gleefully. "A shrewd blow have I struck here 'gainst Zulkeh! For here, under my spell, each day shall count as but a minute elsewhere. Time stands almost still. Lust and miscegenation abound! And if the vixen, by some happy chance, comes of good family, the scandal alone will ruin servant and master alike! This unnatural union played out on yonder beach, and played out again, I doubt me not, many times in the seeming months to come for yon twain on this island, will surely bear fruit. For, as the most poisonous reptile of the marsh perpetuates his kind as inevitably as the sweetest songster of the grove; so, equally with every felicity, all miserable creatures do naturally beget their like. Yea, more than equally; since both the ancestry and posterity of Grief go further than the ancestry and posterity of Joy, while even the highest earthly felicities ever have a certain unsignifying pettiness lurking in them, but, at bottom, all heart-woes, a mystic significance.

    And, should these social catastrophes not suffice, I have called down upon the get of yonder gnome every mischance imaginable to the fevered mind of man."

    Concluding with these words, my employer turned and strode off. Come again to the beach on the opposite side of the island, he drew forth and consulted his crystal ball. Here, an odd soliloquy:

    "Find my enemy, I say!" Then: "Not him, wretched device! 'Tis but my enemy's lackey!" Then: "Bah! Miserable thing!" He raised the crystal ball high and cast it into the sea. For some long minutes thereafter, he paced back and forth upon the beach. From time to time, he cast strange glances toward me; I liked them not.

    At length, he approached.

    "Have you kept good notes, scribe?"

    "Oh yes! Oh yes! Bart's kept good notes!"

    A gleam came to his eye; I liked it not. A moment later, propelled by some manner magical, we were flying through the air; then, through realms I cannot describe; then, across a blue ocean; finally, to alight upon another island, similar to the one recently departed, save that the waves which lapped its shores were made of water, not words.

    "I ask again," said my employer, "have you kept good notes?"

    "Oh yes! Oh yes! Bart's kept good notes!"

    He snatched them from my hand. "Then I'll have no further need of thee, scribe. And now, I must be off. My enemy's hid himself beyond my sight, and I must give up the chase for a later time. But 'twould not do for this failure to become known, and scribes, curse them all, have mouths as well as pens. Thus, the work of your pen I shall take, for the posterity; thus, the possible work of your mouth I shall forestall, by leaving you behind on this island, lost in the endless ocean, where none shall find thee." He forestalled my protest with a glare like hot iron. "Wouldst rather be crisped? Slain outright? I thought me not! Nay, wretched clerk, thou mayest bless my mercy. I shall satisfy myself with thine marooning, for here you'll stay, though this island's rocks may sink; and the waves bulge through; and oysters come to join you."

    A moment later he was gone, a speck sailing across the azure heavens. I was lost, alone, stranded, marooned, castaway!

    O happy day! I capered about for a hour or so in sheer delight; then, gathered fruit and clams and gorged myself to satiety; then, slept; then, arose and gathered fruit and clams and gorged myself to satiety; then, slept; then, arose and gave some thought to the future; then, convulsed with glee for about an hour at the thought; then, gathered fruit and clams and gorged myself to satiety; then, slept; then, arose and made to explore my island in a leisurely manner; then, coming upon a native village, made friends with the dusky, half-naked villagers; then, stayed at their invitation to a feast where we gorged ourselves on fruits and clams; then, copulated with mad abandon; then, arose and spent the day exchanging tall tales and outright fables with the villagers; then, for the brief hour it required, helped them gather an abundance of fruits and clams; then, participated in a feast; then, copulated with wild abandon; then—well, this went on for some time.

    At length, recalling myself to the ways of civilized men, I determined to exercise my intellect, and so I spent the next several years renaming myself. By the time my beard turned gray, I was known to one and all as Baron Bartolomeo Bartholdi de Bonaventura y Saludad; in the earlier years of exuberant youth, my name was much longer, but age brings with it moderation, and, besides, my dusky, half-naked, native friends are a wondrous slothful lot, not given to useless exercise of the jaws. Since they called me Bart, anyway, why lengthen the name overmuch?

    In those happy years, but once did unpleasantness intrude. There came a day when a ship appeared upon the horizon, approached, and cast anchor in the lagoon. Dressed in my finest loincloth, I approached the ship at the head of our village delegation. From the newcomers, I heard an interesting tale. Among them was none other than the Director of Companies, now, it seemed, consigned to a less lofty position in society. This latter, an uncouth, surly, truculent man, growled out a tale of grandeur undone, anarchy rampant, reasonable order cancelled, and by that cancellation transmuting the flag of founded law and freedom defined, into the mob's red meteor of unbridled and unbounded revolt. Minor discontent in Ozar, it seemed, growing out of petty grievances, had been ignited into irrational combustion as by live cinders blown across from Grotum in flames. The Director of Companies told his tale hotly; into the gall of his envy he infused the vitriol of his contempt.

    A shocking tale. I saw that here was a sort of interregnum in Providence; for its even-handed inequity never could have sanctioned so gross a justice.

    When I inquired as to the part played in this titanic conflict by the world's greatest sorcerer, I was surprised to hear the curses heaped upon this magical fellow, whom, I should have thought, they should have seen as their champion; until, at length, I grew to understand that a misapprehension was afoot. In the event, it seemed, God's Own Tooth had not proven to be the world's greatest sorcerer; an event, let me say, the hearing of which made me pine, for the first time in years, for the tools of my former trade.

    Thereafter, the conversation grew boisterous. The newcomers made known their wish for servants to replace the sullen fellow they had brought with them, a lad named Jim; a wish soon transformed, in the face of dusky, half-naked native hilarity, into a demand; a demand, in its turn, soon transformed, in the face of dusky, half-naked native urination upon their boat, into a threat. Blunderbusses were brandished; a hail of coconuts and clam shells brought sullen quietude; and, for some time, we went our separate ways.

    The day came when, propelled by an idle curiosity, I ambled down to the ship. I had remembered, as an odd, stray thought, the dwarf on the island and his paramour. And wondered, what became of them, and the child born of their union?

    I thought the newcomers, surly bunch though they were, might know the answer; and knowing, tell me the tale. But as I neared the boat;—'twas twilight; no, darkness had fallen,—there was a sudden commotion; I heard a great cry of anguish and despair; a sudden splash; cries of sorrow and grief. Leaning on the rail of the boat, the servant Jim espied me, and, grinning from ear to ear, told me the tale of the final hour of the Director of Companies.

    Under the circumstances, I thought it best not to raise the subject of miscegenation, and so departed. Jim, by the by, jumped ship and joined me.

    'Twas but yesterday, then, that the urge came upon me to write down this tale. To do so, I was forced to cut a quill, mix up some ink, make some paper—in short, for the first time since my errant youth, to labor. What is it, what nameless, inscrutable, unearthly thing is it; what cozening, hidden lord and master, and cruel, remorseless emperor commands me; that against all natural lovings and longings, I so keep pushing, and crowding, and jamming myself on all the time; recklessly making me ready to do what in my own proper, natural heart, I durst not so much as dare? Is Bart, Bart?

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