You will scarce have forgot, I must suppose, the importance set by my Aunt Carola upon the establishing of the Scions in new territories, wherever such persons as were both qualified by their descent and in themselves worthy, should be found; and you will remember that I was bidden by her to look in South Carolina for members of the Bombo connection which she was inclined to suspect existed in that state. My neglect to make this inquiry for my kind Aunt now smote me sharply when all seemed too late. John Mayrant had spoken of Kill-devil Bombo, the very personage through whom lay Aunt Carola’s claim to kingly lineage, and I had let John Mayrant go away upon his honeymoon without ever questioning him upon this subject. As I looked back upon the ease with which I might have settled the matter, and forward to my return empty-handed to the generous relative to whom I owed this agreeable experience of travel, I felt guilty indeed. I wrote a letter to follow John Mayrant into whatever retreat of bliss he had betaken himself to, and I begged him earnestly to write me at his early convenience all that he might know of Bombos in South Carolina. Consequently, I was able, on reaching home, to meet Aunt Carola with some sort of countenance, and to assure her that I expected presently to be furnished with authentic and valuable particulars.
I now learned that the Selected Salic Scions had greatly increased in numbers during my short absence. It appeared that the origin of the whole movement had sprung from a needy but ingenious youth in some manufacturing town of New England. This lad had a cousin, who had amassed from nothing a noble fortune by inventing one day a speedy and convenient fashion of opening beer bottles; and this cousin’s achievement had set him to looking about him. He soon discovered that in our great republic everywhere there were living hundreds and thousands of men and women who were utterly unaware that they were descended from kings. Borrowing a little money to float him, he set up The American Almanach de Gotha and began (for the minimum sum of fifty dollars a pedigree) to reveal to these eager people the chain of links that connected them with royalty. Thus, in a period of time the brevity of which is incredible, this young man passed from complete indigence to a wife and four automobiles, or an automobile and four wives—I don’t remember which he had the four of. There was so much royal blood about that it had spilled into several rival organizations, each bitterly warring with the other; but my Aunt assured me that her society was the only one that any respectable person belonged to.
I am minded to announce a rule of discreet conduct: Never read aloud any letter that you have not first read to yourself. Had I observed this rule—but listen:—