A certain woman demands instant and unquestioning obedience from her children. One afternoon a storm came up and she sent her little son John to close the trap leading to the flat roof of the house.
“But, mother,” began John.
“John, I told you to shut the trap.”
“Yes, but, mother—”
“John, shut that trap!”
“All right, mother, if you say so—but—”
Whereupon John slowly climbed the stairs and shut the trap. Two hours later the family gathered for dinner, but Aunt Mary, who was staying with the mother, did not appear. The mother, quite anxious, exclaimed, “Where can Aunt Mary be?”
“I know,” John answered triumphantly, “she is on the roof.”
Andrew Carnegie said:
“I was traveling Londonward on an English railway last year, and had chosen a seat in a non-smoking carriage. At a wayside station a man boarded the train, sat down in my compartment, and lighted a vile clay pipe.
“This is not a smoking carriage,” said I.
“‘All right, Governor,’ said the man. ‘I’ll just finish this pipe here.’
“He finished it, then refilled it.
“‘See here,’ I said, ’I told you this was not a smoking carriage. If you persist with that pipe I shall report you at the next station to the guard.’ I handed him my card. He looked at it, pocketed it, but lighted his pipe nevertheless. At the next station, however, he changed to another compartment.
“Calling the guard, I told him what had occurred, and demanded that the smoker’s name and address be taken.
“‘Yes, sair,’ said the guard, and hurried away. In a little while he returned. He seemed rather awed and, bending over me, said apologetically:
“’Do you know, sir, if I were you I would not prosecute that gent. He has just given me his card. Here it is. He is Mr. Andrew Carnegie.’”
Scotchmen are proverbial for their caution.
Mr. MacTavish attended a christening where the hospitality of the host knew no bounds except the several capacities of the guests. In the midst of the celebration Mr. MacTavish rose up and made rounds of the company, bidding each a profound farewell.
“But, Sandy, man,” objected the host, “ye’re not goin’ yet, with the evenin’ just started?”
“Nay,” said the prudent MacTavish. “I’m no’ goin’ yet. But I’m tellin’ ye good-night while I know ye all.”
He was the slowest boy on earth, and had been sacked at three places in two weeks, so his parents had apprenticed him to a naturalist. But even he found him slow. It took him two hours to give the canaries their seed, three to stick a pin through a dead butterfly, and four to pick a convolvulus. The only point about him was that he was willing.