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A short story by George Ade

The Experimental Couple And The Three Off-Shoots

Title:     The Experimental Couple And The Three Off-Shoots
Author: George Ade [More Titles by Ade]

A man and Wife had three Sons. The first, named Abraham Lincoln Tibbetts, was born in 1862. His name was promptly abbreviated to Link.

The second, who arrived in 1872, was christened Ulysses Simpson Grant Tibbetts. This was too long, so people called him Chub.

The third was of the Vintage of 1882 and his name went into the Register as Chester A. Arthur Tibbetts, but, in the interest of Euphony he was dubbed Art, because Art is Long.

The Tibbetts Family lived in the City, and Link, the first-born, enjoyed all the Advantages of Life in an Apartment Building. He went to a Graded School and picked up so much Knowledge that at the age of 12 he could set his Parents down in front of him and tell them Things they did not know. At 14 he was so far along that he knew how to lie in Bed and have his Mother bring his Breakfast up to him. He went to Dancing School and learned to play all the "Pinafore" music on the Upright Agony Box. Sometimes he chided Mr. and Mrs. Tibbetts for not having as much Money as many of the People he met at Dancing Parties. He had about as much Application as a used-up Porous Plaster, and he worried more about his Complexion than he did about his Business Prospects.

Mr. Tibbetts gave him a Desk at the Office and called him Assistant Something. His Duties consisted of looking at the Clock and writing Notes to the Gazelles he had met the Night before. If he had been set out on the Pavement and told to Root for himself, it would have broken him of the habit of Eating.

Link was whatever they called a Lobster in 1880. Mr. Tibbetts realized that City Life had an enervating Effect on Boys and made them Superficial and Wise in their own Conceit.

Chub was 8 years old and had not yet succumbed to the Matinee Habit, so his Parents decided to ship him out to the Green Fields and keep him there until he had developed a Character. Mr. and Mrs. Tibbetts knew that all the Men of Sterling Worth, mentioned in Political Biographies, had been raised on the Farm. They figured that if Chub could be left in the Country to run with the Live Stock, he would grow up to be a Sturdy and self-reliant Character, with no hankering for Soda Water and the Military Schottische.

Therefore Chub was sent out to live with Uncle Jabez Quackenbush, an Agriculturalist who owned 480 Acres and was still wearing the Army Overcoat that the Government had given him when the War broke out. Chub slept on a Feather Tick up in a Room where they had the Seed Corn hung on the Rafters. Uncle Jabe would yank him out at 4.30 G.M. and keep him in the Field until the early Candle-Lighting, so that usually he had two Meals in the Dark. On Sunday he and the Hired Help would sit in the Hay-Mow and read Almanacs. In the Winter he attended a District School and learned to bound Patagonia, but he did not go to any demoralizing Shows nor learn to pick up flip Slang.

When he was 18, he seemed to be past the Danger Period, so Uncle Jabe took him to the Train and told the Conductor where to put him off. On the way back to the City he bought an oval Box of Figs from the Train Boy and lost his Hat out of the Window. When he arrived at Home and entered the House, it sounded like a Crowd coming in. His Mother took one Look and fell backward. There was a Neutral Zone between his Vest and Trousers. Also he had been raising Warts on himself.

For two Months after he arrived they kept him under Cover for fear the Neighbors would see him. He gave way at the Knees every time he stepped. If a member of the Opposite Sex spoke to him, he usually backed into something Breakable. At the Table he did a Sword-Swallowing Act and drank out of the Saucer.

"We made a mistake in leaving him so long in the Tall Grass," said Mr. Tibbetts. "But now that we have tried the two Extremes, we know just what to do with Art. We shall send him to a small Town, where he may associate with bright Youth of his own age and yet be away from the distracting and corrupting Influences of the Big City."

Accordingly Art was farmed out to a Cousin residing in a drowsy Corporation of about 1,500 Souls, figuratively speaking. He went to the Grammar School and what he didn't learn at School he learned in Back Alleys and Box Cars. However, his Parents were happy in the Knowledge that he was beyond the influence of the gaudy Play House, the gilded Buffet and the seductive Dancing Academy. He was out where nothing happened unless the Boys started it themselves. So they started it.

When he was twenty he was sent to the City, an extra fine Specimen of what the Small Town can produce. He had his Hair combed down into his Eyes. He wore a punky little Derby, about two sizes too small. The turn-down Collar was four inches high, and he wore a navy-blue Cravat with a copper Butterfly for a Scarf-Pin. Furthermore, he had a Suit of Clothes that was intended for a gentle Brakeman. On his Lapel he had a Button Photograph of the Girl who worked in the Millinery Store.

"Are you made up for a Masquerade or is this the regular Costume?" asked his Father.

"'Go 'Way Back and Set Down,'" replied Art, for he knew his Village Repartee and was on to all of last year's Gags.

"What do you propose to do for yourself?" asked Mr. Tibbetts.

"I want to travel with a Circus or Minstrel Troupe and I don't much care which," replied Art.

As the Boy appeared to be somewhat Lumpy about the Pockets, his Father threw him down and searched him, finding on his Person, a $2 Revolver, a Package of Cigaroots, a 1-lb. Plug of Tobacco, a Deck of Playing Cards, a Copy of "Old Sleuth" and a Pair of Brass Knucks.

"I have underrated the Educational Facilities of the Jay Town," said Mr. Tibbetts. "Link is door-keeper in a Dime Museum and Chub is putting in Coal for an old and well-known Firm, but I can see that you are going to outshine your Brothers. You are going to develop into a first-class Burglar."

* * * * *

MORAL: Keep him in a Barrel.

[The end]
George Ade's short story: Experimental Couple And The Three Off-Shoots