The Parts Men Play eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 387 pages of information about The Parts Men Play.

‘I don’t know,’ said the colonel; ‘but it’s a fine system.’

‘You have done wonderfully well.’

‘Moderately so,’ said the A.D.  Super-Camouflage Department.  ’I have been decorated by eleven foreign Governments and given an honorary degree by an American university.  I also drive the largest car in London.’

‘You amaze me.’

‘As an opener,’ said the colonel, forgetting his dignity in the recital of his greatness, ’I am in enormous demand.  I can open a ball, a bottle, or a bazaar with any man in the country.’

‘But,’ said Selwyn, ‘how did it all come about?’

‘Ah!’ exclaimed Smyth, glancing up and down the terrace after the manner of a stage villain.  ’Three years ago I was an officer’s servant.  I polished my subaltern-fellow’s buttons, cleaned his boots, and mended his unmentionables.  One day this young gentleman and myself were billeted on an old French artist.  When I saw those canvases, I felt the old Adam in me thirsting for expression.  Before all I am an artist!  I made a bargain with the old Parley-vous—­a pair of my young officer’s boots for two canvases and the use of his paints.  Agreed.  On the one I did a ploughman wending his weary thingumbob home—­you know.  The following day happened to be my precious young officer’s birthday, and we celebrated it in style.  I would not say he was an expert with his Scotch, but he was very game—­very game indeed.  After I had put him to bed, I determined to paint my second masterpiece, “St. George to the Rescue!” I did it—­and fell asleep where I sat.  When I woke next morning, imagine my astonishment!  I had done both paintings on the one canvas!  The ploughman was toddling along to the left, and St George was hoofing it to the right, but the effect one got was that a milk-wagon was going straight up the centre.  It gave me an idea.  I waited for my leave, and took the painting to the War Office.  I told them if they would give me enough paint I could so disguise the British Army that it would all appear to be marching sideways.  That tickled the “brass hats.”  They could see my argument in a minute.  They knew that if you could only get a whole army going sideways the war was won.  I was put on the Staff and given a free hand, and in a very short time was placed in complete charge of the super-camouflage policy of the Allies.  The testimonials, my dear chap, have been most gratifying.  We have undisputed evidence of an Australian offering a carrot to a siege-gun under the impression it was a mule.  There was a Staff car which we painted so that it would appear to be going backwards, and the only way that a certain Scottish general would ride in it was by sitting the wrong way, with his knees over the back.  In fact, my dear sir, if the war only lasts another year, I shall reduce the whole thing to a pastime, blending all the best points of “Blind Man’s Buff” with “Button, button, who’s got the button?"’

Project Gutenberg
The Parts Men Play from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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