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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 248 pages of information about Elbow-Room.

“You will probably be surprised to learn that your critic is here referring to a very beautiful study of a Christian martyr who has been thrown among the wild beasts of the arena, and who is engaged in being eaten by a lion.  The animal is not a yellow dog; that human being has not been in swimming; and the reason that he is smaller than the lion is that I had to make him so in order to get his head into the lion’s mouth.  Would you have me represent the lion as large as an elephant?  Would you have me paste a label on the Christian martyr to inform the public that ’This is not a boy who has been treading water with his hands tied’?  Now, look at the matter calmly.  Is the Patriot encouraging art when it goes on in this manner?  Blame me if I think it is.”

“It certainly doesn’t seem so.”

“Well, then, what do you say to this?  What do you think of a critic who remarks,

“’But the most extraordinary thing in the picture is the group in the foreground.  An old lady with an iron coal-scuttle on her head is handing some black pills to a ballet-dancer dressed in pink tights, while another woman in a badly-fitting chemise stands by them brushing off the flies with the branch of a tree, with a canary-bird resting upon her shoulder and trying to sing at some small boys who are seen in the other corner of the field.  What this means we haven’t the remotest idea; but we do know that the ballet-dancers’ legs have the knee-pans at the back of the joint, and that the canary-bird looks more as if he wanted to eat the coal-scuttle than as if he desired to sing.’

“This is too bad.  Do you know what that beautiful group really represents?  That old lady, as your idiot calls her, is Minerva, the goddess of War, handing cannon balls to the goddess of Love as a token there shall be no more war.  And the figure in what he considers the chemise is the genius of Liberty holding out an olive branch with one hand, while upon her shoulder rests an American eagle screaming defiance at the enemies of his country, who are seen fleeing in the distance.  Canary bird! small boys! ballet-girl!  The man is crazy, sir; stark, staring mad.  And now I want you to write up an explanation for me.  This kind of thing exposes me to derision.  I can’t stand it, and, by George!  I won’t!  I’ll sue you for libel.”

Then the major promised to make amends, and Mr. Brewer withdrew in a calmer mood.

CHAPTER XX.

HIGH ART.

An itinerant theatrical company gave two or three performances in Millburg last winter, and in a very creditable fashion, too.  One of the plays produced was Shakespere’s “King John,” with the “eminent tragedian Mr. Hammer” in the character of the King.  It is likely that but for an unfortunate misunderstanding the entertainment would have been wholly delightful.  There is a good deal of flourishing of trumpets in the drama,

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