Little Willie pondered a minute. It seemed to him that fuller information was required.
“And mother’s thirty-one,” he said politely.
“I am taking some notes about civic pride,” said the urbane stranger, as he wandered into the up-to-date community. “I suppose you have such a thing?”
“Well, I should say we had,” said the corner real estate agent. “I am loaded with it myself.”
“Good!” replied the agent, taking out his memo-book. “I’ll make a note of it. This, you will understand, is a more or less scientific inquiry, and I shall make my estimates as carefully as possible, with all due regard to the human equation. Who, should you say, has the most civic pride in town?”
“That is some problem,” replied the agent, “but you might go across the way to the Woman’s Club. Out of courtesy to the ladies I am ready to yield the palm.”
“Yes,” said the president of the Woman’s Club when she had heard the visitor’s errand. “We have the most civic pride, of course. The Town Council thinks it has, and the Board of Education thinks it has, but pay no attention to them; we are on the job day and night; as a factory for turning out civic pride, nobody in this vicinity can beat us. You want to hear my lecture on the subject at the next meeting.”
“Thanks,” said the visitor, “but you will appreciate that in these piping times of war, I am a busy man, and must hurry on. Has anybody else any civic pride here that you could name?”
He was presented with a list and went about town getting them all down. At the end of several days, all the organizations in town that dealt in civic pride got together and arranged for a banquet for the distinguished stranger. They were immensely proud that he had come among them.
It was a great affair. The mayor, who was swelling with civic pride, vied with the president of the Woman’s Club. It was, indeed, a neck-and-neck race between them as to who had the greater quantity of civic pride.
At the end of the banquet, when they were all bidding the guest good-bye with tears streaming down their faces, the only pessimist in town got up and said:
“Excuse me, ladies and gentlemen, for obtruding my repellent personality on this joyful assemblage, but our dear guest will not, I am sure, object to answering a simple question. I have no civic pride myself, but do you mind, sir, telling me the object of your visit to this lovely little burg?”
“Certainly not,” said the guest, as he prepared to take a quick slant through the door, “no objection at all. You see, my friends, civic pride is the only thing that the government hasn’t taxed. You’ll get your bills a little later, based on your own estimates. Much obliged for all your first-hand information.”