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Henery's Literary Success

by J. W. Muller

THE Flying Squid lay in harbor. She had been doing it too long. The masters of prowling harbor craft had fallen mechanically into the habit of saluting with the friendliness of old neighbors. Henry had made himself hopelessly unpopular with his superior officers by entirely unnecessary discoveries as to the growth of sea-weed on the schooner's sides. The mental barometric pressure of Captain Julius Moses was low. He looked with a gloomy eye at the log wherein Mr. William Bowsun set forth continually and faithfully, with no attempt to disguise a great truth by puerile variety of wording: "Frates scares. So ends this day."

"Frates" were "scares" because business was "scares." Business was "scares" because the ant-heap of Uncle Sams and John Bulls and Jean Crapauds and John Chinos was at one of its chronic stages when each monomaniac ant had labored frantically at carrying rubbish into the hill till no ant wanted anything that any other ant had.

The ant that made shoes had made more shoes than there were feet. The ant that made combs had underestimated entirely the preponderating majority of bald-headed ants. The iron-mongering ant had produced more frying-pans than there were omelets. Even the financier ant had attained the feat of producing more stock certificates than there were fools.

That sort of thing is known by the human ants as business depression or financial stringency. Then financiers, who have worked on the simple ethics that sufficient for the day is to skin through it, fail to skin through and their golden hides are hung up as trophies by wiser financiers. Banks discover with ever-fresh amazement that when depositors stop bringing money, there is no money; and they count their securities and find them insecurities. Then the Flying Squid and other engines of human commerce sit idle. And the engineers of the engines have time to listen to words of wisdom.

Captain Julius Moses of the Flying Squid read everything that was printed, undismayed by the amount of it, hoping to get a great light on why "frates" were "scares." Unfortunately, financial experts and newspapers use the occult form of speech so justly popular with persons who write sonnets. Furthermore, it was discouraging, when he found an excellent explanation, to pick up the next paper and find an explanation still more excellent but entirely different.

Bill Bowsun shook his ornately carved but somewhat square head disapprovingly when Captain Moses laid before him the anthology of wisdom. "What's that there law of supply and demand, as they're talkin' about?" he grumbled. "Where is it? Here be we, waitin' for freight. We're a demand, ain't we? Why don't that there law bring that there supply o' freight?"

Captain Moses, struck by this clear point of view, pulled his little beard, and considered. "I'll tell you why!" said he, brightening. "Here it is, Bill! This paper says that supply always, in-ex-or-ably, follows demand—no! That ain't it. Here it is! This other paper, here! It says that demand follows supply. You see now, don't you?"

"Oh, yes, I see! I see!" responded Mr. Bowsun. "It's easy. If the wind didn't blow, the Flying Squid's sails wouldn't be no use, and if the Flying Squid didn't have sails, the blowin' of the wind wouldn't be no use. I know one thing, though. That feller as said that supply only follers demand, he never seen Henery. And I know another thing. That other feller as said demand follers supply, let him tell me why there ain't a demand for fleas."

Captain Moses mused. "It's a deep subject, Bill. It's deep. I can't rightly explain it, but it's got something to do with financial stuff. Listen to this."

Mr. Bowsun's eyes fixed themselves rigidly in the direction of the wide blue skies while Captain Moses read a long article in which a lately talented financier, whose bank had failed, declared that the salvation of the human race depended on an elastic currency. When he concluded, he looked expectantly at the Mate. That large marine vertebrate continued to search the zenith with the earnestness of a zoologist looking for a flock of angels. Captain Moses waited hopefully, knowing from experience that in this attitude Mr. Bowsun often gave birth to a great clear thought.

Slowly the Mate brought his eyes back to earth at last, with a visible effort as of one unscrewing something with main strength. "I wonder," said he, "how long it'd take that feller to get somethin' real off his mind. That ain't a bad idee, though, that there elastic currency—a sort of money, near as I can make out, that can be in our own pants' pockets and in the other feller's at the same time. That feller ought to build a ship that could be in two ports to once. Take my adwice, Cap'n Moses, take my adwice, and don't waste time readin' them sort o' yarns. Them bankers knows even less than them newspapers, and them newspapers knows even less than them bankers. And that," said Mr. Bowsun pausing to reflect long and deeply, "seems almost unpossible, too. But it's so. And the only one as knows less nor both of 'em is the Guv'ment."

Captain Moses sidled off. Mr. Bowsun was prone to become discursive on the subject of the Government. Though he based his reasoning less on wide study than on his personal recollection of an injustice once perpetrated by a constable, he had built up a complete political philosophy on it.

De...

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