[Illustration: Nicholas III, shaving.]
“This is the latest method, an official taster having been formerly employed, but owing to the exorbitant rate of insurance on such officers and the rapid decimation of the royal retinue, that plan was recently abandoned. After finishing his repast the Czar receives the morning papers, previously disinfected, and after reading the news, sentences a few nihilists to death by means of a long-distance telephone.
[Illustration: The court chemist analyzes the Czar’s breakfast.]
“In Germany the situation is almost as bad. The Kaiser spends the entire morning endeavoring to suppress an incipient revolution, and after convicting several editors for ‘les majeste,’ drives around the streets of Berlin, wearing a baseball mask and making speeches to his soldiers, upon whom he urges the necessity of constant watchfulness.
“The young potentate of the Celestial empire is not far behind. He keeps one eye on the dowager and the other on Li Hung Chang, while he sends out harikari mandates to troublesome officials, and stands off the Russian ambassador. Last, but not least, is the Sultan of Turkey, who has a large family to provide for and who keeps a man busy issuing promissory notes to Uncle Sam so that his wives may be properly supplied with filigree hair pins and divided skirts. They say he recently bought the entire stock of an insolvent dry goods store for his harem, and it only went half way around.
“The king business is not what it is cracked up to be. I know lots of fellows who would make first-rate kings, and I don’t know but what I would make quite a hit in that line myself. But I wouldn’t take the job if I could get it. I’d sooner be chief of police or a corporation lawyer. There’s more money in it and not half the danger.”
“My friend,” said the Observer to his vis-a-vis, who was studying the bill-of-fare on the other side of the table, “did you ever stop to consider in what an advanced age we are living? Have you ever studied the laws of the universe and sought to figure them out?”
“‘Never had time,’ you say; ’keeps a man busy providing cash to feed his family.’ Well, that’s just the point. Have you never realized that half of our time is spent in preparing, eating and digesting food, while the other half is employed in making money enough to buy it? Now, students of psychology say that, in time, the human body will become so refined that it will be able to absorb all necessary nourishment from ‘universal life,’ and need not gorge itself with animal or vegetable organisms.
“What vast changes such a condition will inaugurate. The Frenchman will no longer clog his digestive apparatus with ‘pate de foi gras;’ the rodent will pursue the even tenor of his way in the land of the heathen Chinee, without danger of being converted into a stew; the aged mutton of Merrie England will gambol on the green, with chops intact; the Teuton will forsake his sauerkraut; the benighted heathen his missionary pot-pourri, and the ghosts of slaughtered canines shall cease to haunt the sausage-maker of our own beloved country.