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The Fable of How Uncle Brewster Was Too Shifty for the Tempter

George Ade (1866-1944)

When Uncle Brewster had put on his Annual Collar and combed his Beard
and was about to start to the Depot, his Wife, Aunt Mehely, looked at
him through her Specs and shook her Head doubtfully.

Then she spoke as follows: "You go slow there in the City. You know your
Failin's. You're just full of the Old Harry, and when you're Het Up
you're just like as not to Raise Ned."

"I guess I can take keer of myse'f about as well as the Next One,"
retorted Uncle Brewster. "I've been to the Mill an' got my Grist, if any
one should ask. I ain't no Greeny."

With that he started for the Train, which was due in one Hour.

As he rode toward the Great City he smoked a Baby Mine Cigar, purchased
of the Butcher, and told the Brakeman a few Joe Millers just to throw
out the Impression that he was Fine and Fancy.

After he had Registered at the Hotel and Swelled Up properly when
addressed as "Mister" by the Clerk, he wanted to know if there was a
Lively Show in Town. The Clerk told him to follow the Street until he
came to all the Electric Lights, and there he would find a Ballet. Uncle
Brewster found the Place, and looked in through the Hole at an Assistant
Treasurer, who was Pale and wore a Red Vest.

"I want a Chair near the Band," said Uncle Brewster. "How much does one
of 'em Fetch?"

"Two Dollars," replied the Assistant Treasurer, pulling down his Cuffs
and then examining himself in a small Mirror at one side of the Diagram.

"Great Grief!" ejaculated Uncle Brewster. "I only paid Thirty-Five Cents
for the Glass Blowers, an' I'll warrant you they beat your Troupe as bad
as Cranberries beats Glue. I'll see you plumb in Halifax before I--"

"Stand aside, please," said the Assistant Treasurer.

Uncle Brewster saw a Policeman, and thought it his Duty to tell the
Officer that the Theater Folks were a Pack of Robbers.

"Up an Alley," said the Policeman.

Instead of going to a Show, Uncle Brewster stood in front of a Clothing
Store and watched the Wax Figures.

When he got back to his Room the Bell-Hopper came around and asked him
if he cared to Sit in a Quiet Game. Uncle Brewster wanted to know
whether they were Gamblers or Business Men, and the Boy said they were
Business Men. It was all Friendly, with an Ante of Two Bits and the
Chandelier as the Limit. Uncle Brewster said he was accustomed to
playing with Lima Beans, Three for a Cent and One call Two and no fair
to Bluff. The Bell-Hopper told him to Turn In and get a Good Night's

Next Morning at the Hotel he spotted a stylish little Chunk of a Woman
who kept the Cigar Case and sold Books with Actress Photos on the

He walked over to buy a Cigar, but he happened to see the "3 for 50c."
Label and his Feet got cold.

So, instead of buying a Cigar, he conversed with the Proprietress. He
seemed to be a Success with her, and ventured to say that he was a
Stranger in Town and would like first-rate to go out to a Lecture or
some other kind of Entertainment that Evening if he could find a Nice
Girl that didn't mind going with a Respectable Man who could give
References, and besides was nearly old enough to be her Father. Then
after the Lecture they could go to a First-Class Restaurant and have an
Oyster Stew.

Uncle Brewster had read the Illustrated Papers in the Barber Shop out
Home, and he certainly knew what was Expected of a Man who wanted to
give a Gay Girl the Time of her Life.

The Cigar and Literary Girl said she would be Charmed to Accompany him
only for one Thing: She said she didn't have a Hat that was Fit to Wear.
She said she could tell by his Looks that he was a Gentleman that
wouldn't want to go anywhere with a Lady whose Lid was Tacky. Possibly
he would be willing to Stake her to a Hat.

"What would the Hat come to?" asked Uncle Brewster, somewhat Leary.

"Only Fourteen Dollars," she replied.

"I'll Think it Over," quoth Uncle Brewster, in a choking Voice, and he
was so Groggy he walked into the Elevator instead of going out the
Street Door.

A little while later Uncle Brewster met an Acquaintance who gave him a
Complimentary Badge to the Races. He walked out to the Track, so as to
make the Expense as Reasonable as possible.

As soon as he was in the Ring a Tout took him back of a Hot Sausage
Booth and told him not to Give it Out, but Green Pill in the First Race
was sure to Win as far as a man could throw an Anvil, and to hurry and
get a Piece of Money on. Uncle Brewster looked at the Entries and began
to Quiver. He wished that Doc Jimmison could be there to Advise him.
Green Pill was 30 to 1, and the Tout had his information from a Stable
Boy that slept with the Horse.

A Reckless Spirit seized Uncle Brewster. He said he would take a Chance
even if he didn't know for Sure that he would Win. So he walked up to a
Bookie and said to him: "I want to Bet Fifty Cents on Green Pill, and
this is a Dollar here, so you want to give me Fifty Cents Change."

Whereupon the Bookie told him to Back Up and Fade and do a Disappearing

Uncle Brewster Escaped and found himself at a Bar. He decided that he
would take a Drink, because he wouldn't be Home until next Day and by
that time it would be off his Breath.

So he laid his Bosom against the Brass Railing and said to the Man in
White, "You might as well draw me a Glass of Beer."

"We've got it in Bottles," said the Barkeep, regarding Uncle Brewster
without a sign of Enthusiasm.

"What do you git for a Bottle?" asked Uncle Brewster.

"Twenty Cents," was the Reply of the Liquor Clerk.

"Keep it," said Uncle Brewster.

Perceiving that the Race-Track was in the hands of Gougers, Uncle
Brewster walked back to the Hotel. By that Time his New Shoes had
Crippled him, and he decided to take the Afternoon Train for home
instead of Waiting Over.

That Evening he was back at his own Fireside, with the Bunged-Up Feet
resting in Carpet Slippers. As he sat and read the Poultry Magazine,
Aunt Mehely looked at him sidewise, and full of Suspicion said, "I
s'pose you just Played Hob there in the City."

And Uncle Brewster replied as follows: "No, Mother, I didn't Drink and I
didn't Gamble. I didn't do Nothin'--not even go to a Theayter."

And as he spoke an Aureole of Virtue seemed to curdle above him, while
his Countenance bore an Expression of Placid Triumph, which meant that
he was the real Asbestos Paragon who had been tried in the Furnace and
declared Non-Combustible.

MORAL: Some People are Good because it Comes High to be Otherwise.