“Oh, indeed—I’ve been frank, have I?” I interrupted. “Well, what I have said isn’t a marker to what I’d like to have said and would have said if language hadn’t its limitations. You are the infinity of the unmitigated, the supreme of the superfluous. In unqualified, inexcusable, unsurpassable meanness you are the very IT!”
“Sir,” said the old gentleman, rising and bowing, “you are a man of unusual penetration, and I like you. I should like to see more of you, but your hour has expired. I thank you for your pleasant words, and I bid you an affectionate good-morning.”
A deep-toned bell struck the hour of twelve. A fanfare of trumpets sounded outside, and the huge door flew open, and without a word in reply, glad of my deliverance, I turned and fled precipitately through it. The sumptuous guard stood outside to receive me, and as the door closed behind me the band struck up a swelling measure that I shall not soon forget.
“Well,” said the Major Domo, as we proceeded back to my quarters, “did he receive you nicely?”
“Who?” said I.
“Jupiter, of course,” he said.
“I didn’t see him,” I replied, sadly. “I fell in with a beastly old bore who wouldn’t let go of me. You showed me into the wrong room. Who was that old beggar, anyhow?”
“Beggar?” he cried. “Wrong room? Beggar?”
“Certainly,” said I. “Beggar is mild, I admit. But he’s all that and much more. Who is he?”
“I don’t know what you mean,” replied the Major Domo. “But you have been for the last hour with his Majesty himself.”
“What?” I cried. “I—that old man—we—”
“The old gentleman was Jupiter. Didn’t he tell you? He made a special effort to make you feel at home—put himself on a purely mortal basis—”
I fell back, limp and nerveless.
“What will he think of me?” I moaned, as I realized what had happened.
[Illustration: “‘WHAT?’ I CRIED. ‘I—THAT OLD MAN—WE’”]
“He thinks you are the best yet,” said the Major Domo. “He has sent word by his messenger, Mercury, that the honors of Olympus are to be showered upon you to their fullest extent. He says you are the only frank mortal he ever met.”
And with this I was escorted back to my rooms at the hotel, impressed with the idea that all is not lead that doesn’t glitter, and when I thought of my invention of the word “stult,” I began to wish I had never been born.
A Royal Outing
As may be imagined after my untoward interview with Jupiter, the state of my mind was far from easy. It is not pleasant to realize that you have applied every known epithet of contempt to a god who has an off-hand way of disposing of his enemies by turning them into apple-trees, or dumb beasts of one kind or another, and upon retiring to my room I sat down and waited in great dread of what should happen next. I couldn’t really believe that the Major Domo’s statement as to my having been forgiven was possible. It predicated too great a magnanimity to be credible.