The acquaintance was frightened, and immediately agreed with the fool.
“What a fine book I have read to-day!” said another acquaintance to him.
“Good gracious!” cried the fool.—“Aren’t you ashamed of yourself? That book is good for nothing; everybody dropped it in disgust long ago.—Don’t you know that?—You are behind the times.”
And that acquaintance also was frightened and agreed with the fool.
“What a splendid man my friend N. N. is!” said a third acquaintance to the fool.—“There’s a truly noble being for you!”
“Good gracious!”—exclaimed the fool,—“it is well known that N. N. is a scoundrel! He has robbed all his relatives. Who is there that does not know it? You are behind the times.”
The third acquaintance also took fright and agreed with the fool, and renounced his friend. And whosoever or whatsoever was praised in the fool’s presence, he had the same retort for all.
He even sometimes added reproachfully: “And do you still believe in the authorities?”
“A malicious person! A bilious man!” his acquaintances began to say about the fool.—“But what a head!”
“And what a tongue!” added others.
“Oh, yes; he is talented!”
It ended in the publisher of a newspaper proposing to the fool that he should take charge of his critical department.
And the fool began to criticise everything and everybody, without making the slightest change in his methods, or in his exclamations.
Now he, who formerly shrieked against authorities, is an authority himself,—and the young men worship him and fear him.
But what are they to do, poor fellows? Although it is not proper—generally speaking—to worship ... yet in this case, if one does not do it, he will find himself classed among the men who are behind the times!
There is a career for fools among cowards.
AN ORIENTAL LEGEND
Who in Bagdad does not know the great Giaffar, the sun of the universe?
One day, many years ago, when he was still a young man, Giaffar was strolling in the suburbs of Bagdad.
Suddenly there fell upon his ear a hoarse cry: some one was calling desperately for help.
Giaffar was distinguished among the young men of his own age for his good sense and prudence; but he had a compassionate heart, and he trusted to his strength.
He ran in the direction of the cry, and beheld a decrepit old man pinned against the wall of the city by two brigands who were robbing him.
Giaffar drew his sword and fell upon the malefactors. One he slew, the other he chased away.
The old man whom he had liberated fell at his rescuer’s feet, and kissing the hem of his garment, exclaimed: “Brave youth, thy magnanimity shall not remain unrewarded. In appearance I am a beggar; but only in appearance. I am not a common man.—Come to-morrow morning early to the chief bazaar; I will await thee there at the fountain—and thou shalt convince thyself as to the justice of my words.”