A weary expression came over that part of the soldier’s face that was visible as he replied:
“No, madam; I was cleaning out the canary bird cage, and the d——d bird bit me!”
How modern are the old fellows. Here is a story related by Cicero in one of his letters which will recall the embarrassments we have ourselves felt in the presence of the unexpected.
Cicero gives an account to his friend of a visit he had just received from the Emperor Julius Caesar. He had invited Julius to pass a few days with him, but he came quite unexpectedly with a thousand men! Cicero, seeing them from afar, debated with another friend what he should do with them but at length managed to encamp them. To feed them was a less easy matter. The emperor took everything quite easily, however, and was very pleasant, “but,” adds Cicero, “he is not the man to whom I should say a second time, ‘if you are passing this way, give me a call.’”
Every seat was occupied, when a group of women got in. The conductor noticed a man who he thought was asleep.
“Wake up!” shouted the conductor.
“I wasn’t asleep,” said the passenger.
“Not asleep! Then what did you have your eyes closed for?”
“It was because of the crowded condition of the car,” explained the passenger. “I hate to see the women standing.”
What may be the Kaiser’s ultimate fate is thus amusingly told by Life of the scene in Hell on a certain day:
“What’s all the racket about?” said Satan, stepping out of the Brimstone Bath, where he was giving two or three U-boat commanders an extra flaying.
“Poor old Hohenzollern has got it in the neck at last,” said Machiavelli, who was hosing off the premises with vitriol in preparation for a new squad of shirtwaist-factory owners.
Satan listened attentively. Indeed, it was true. The Hohenzollerns had been booted off the throne of Germany.
“Well, that’s tough,” said Satan. “I never could see why they chivied those poor Hohenzollerns so. They were perfect devils. I have often said so. Poor old Bill! Why, he was one of the best pupils I ever had. I heard someone say that he had made Belgium a hell upon earth. Wasn’t that a compliment?”
“Not only that,” said Machiavelli; “he had the novel idea of making the sea a hell, too. He and Tirpitz did magnificent work. Not even a party of schoolgirls could go on the water without getting torpedoed. They drowned I don’t know how many innocent women and children in a manner worthy of the highest education.”
“That deportation of non-combatants from Lille was excellent, too,” mused Satan.
“Don’t forget the shooting of Miss Cavell,” said Machiavelli. “And there was the bombing of unfortified towns, and the poison gas. Why, in my palmiest days I never thought of anything so choice as that poison gas. I told Borgia about it, and she went green with envy.”